So far, we haven’t gotten to many O activities but this week, and next, should be a little more productive – we hope!
Starting the month slowly with our more “mental” pursuits.
New authors – O’Brien, O’Toole and O’Donnell
Barbara: I’ve never had trouble finding a book that I liked by a new author for the month, but this month was an epic failure! First up was Tim O’Brien who wrote a book of short stories called “The Things They Carried,” about his experiences in Vietnam during the war. I just couldn’t get into his writing style and was not compelled to finish. OK, I thought, I’ll just switch to “The Death of Bees” by Lisa O’Donnell. The description was appealing since it involved two sisters, but the start of the book was so unenticing as she described the sisters’ attempt to bury their parents whose bodies were so rotting as to be oozing liquid. Once I got to the sentence where the author described one sister having to “scoop” the body into a bag, I said to myself “I’m out of here.” So onward to author number 3. The book “Hemingway Didn’t Say That” by Garson O’Toole should have been right up my alley. During the course of our blog, I’ve done a lot of Learning Centers that focused on the origins of a word or phrase, so I was looking forward to this book. Unfortunately, the writing style was so esoteric as to make my eyes cross. I never did find out what Hemingway didn’t say! So, alas, this month I’m going back to an Old Faithful, Joyce Carol Oates. She’s not easy and necessitates a lot of concentration, but she is very good and I’m going to attempt to read “The Mudwoman.”
Movie Theme – Olympics
Barbara: “Visions of Eight” is a documentary devoted to the Olympic Games in Munich 1972 during which the Palestinian Black September Organization brutally attacked and killed eleven Israeli athletes and coaches plus a West German police officer. The film was divided into eight segments, each directed by a different director. Interestingly, only John Schlesinger’s segment made any mention of the tragedy that overshadowed these Olympic events. The rest of the segments each highlighted a sport that was of special interest to the director. I had two particular favorites. The first was “The Strongest” directed by Mia Zetterling. It focused on weight lifting. She wanted to study that sport because she said the athletes were obsessed and “I’m not interested in sports but I am interested in obsession.” I am amazed that these men can live without their hearts and brains exploding and would like to know the statistics on their health as a group. When it showed them lifting the barbells I thought their veins were going to pop. What a sport! The other segment I liked was Arthur Penn’s “The Highest” about pole vaulters. What made it so special was the way he filmed it, sometimes in silence, sometimes blurred, or in slow motion. It really focused on the beauty of the sport and the finesse of the vaulters. I was happy that I found this film and it reinforced my love of documentaries.