We’re tidying up the Mid-Century Mondohaus a bit, as we have visitors coming in for next Friday’s graduation ceremony for the Spawn. Specifically, one of Mrs. M’s brothers and his family are coming in, and the Mad Dog and his intended, the Mad Doc, will be attending as well. It’s going to be a frantic three or so weeks — I start my summer term (including another Freshman Comp class with the Spawn) on Monday, the Spawn graduates on Friday, I have a gig on Saturday in Real City, followed by a trip to Myrtle Beach later the following week. Three days after our return from the beach, the Spawn has Freshman Orientation at Flagship, and the day after that, she and I will make our annual pilgrimage to HeroesCon in Charlotte. My summer term wraps up at the end of June, and I hope to get some writing done after that. Busy, busy, busy.
Speaking of comics (which I did somewhere in the preceding paragraph), I did my first serious binge watching this week, checking out the 13-hour first season of Daredevil on Netflix. I guess the fact that I enjoyed it is revealed by the fact that I watched the whole thing in the span of about three days (although they weren’t consecutive, as life gets in the way from time to time.)
I read Daredevil in my heavy comic-reading days of the late 60s and early to mid 70s (remember, I started reading very young, which is why I have a picture with Jack Kirby that was taken when I was six.), the pre-Frank Miller era, so this was much darker than the DD I read. This is a show with a significant amount of wetwork, and I suppose in that respect it earns its TV-MA rating. Still, it has a certain sense of fun as well. Characters were pretty nicely delineated, and I thought the actors were well chosen. Last Of The Method Actors(TM pending) Vincent D’Onofrio was delightful as Wilson “Kingpin” Fisk, playing the villain’s role with a fine balance of restraint and volcanic anger. Toby Leonard Moore was even better, however, in the role of James Wesley, Fisk’s principal henchman. The good guys were easy to root for, and were appropriately easy on the eyes. The narrative arc progressed satisfactorily, even lending Fisk a certain tragic grandeur — complete with self-recognition, as he turns the story of the Good Samaritan into his own “I am the one who knocks” speech. I’m looking forward to next season.
The National Spelling Bee took place last week, ending in a tie for the second year in a row. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m an alum (1979), and am actually in contact with a few of my fellow competitors from that year. We all seem to have done pretty well, counting a journalist, an engineer, an orchestral conductor, an ophthalmologist, and the manager of a country club among our number — and those are just the ones I know about. Although I went down early on the first day, I still see that week in Washington as one of the more important moments of my youth. It was one of the first times that I found myself surrounded by smart kids of my own age, in an environment in which being smart was grounds even for some popularity.
I’m a little irritated, however, by the fact that the Bee has ended in a draw for the past two years. A baseball game can — indeed, almost invariably will — continue until a side wins. W.P. Kinsella even got a book out of the idea. So too, I think, should a spelling bee go. Apparently the problem is that the organizers work from a list that is considerably more finite than the dictionary, and when the list ends, the Bee does as well. Likewise, the traditionalist in me dislikes the use of written tests to winnow the field at the NSB. Also, get off my lawn.
So why is all this happening in this manner? I suspect it has to do with the fact that the Bee is now televised by ESPN, and has been forced to fit the network’s schedule. However, if a network can accommodate baseball games of potentially infinite duration — if it can run complete seasons of people playing poker — it could let the Bee run until there’s a winner.
“Criticism of Title IX violates Title IX.” This is a government — an approach to the use of power — that would make of all men slaves, criminals, or traitors.
And finally, a bit of music. Today marks the 47th anniversary of the beginning of the recording of the Beatles’ self-titled “White Album.” The track they started with would eventually be released as “Revolution 1”, but I think today I’ll go for a different track from the album. John Lennon listed it as among his favorite Beatles songs, and I’m inclined to agree, despite the fact that Ringo doesn’t play on it. Here, with very nice drums by Paul and handclaps from (among others) Jackie Lomax, is “Dear Prudence.”
I hope that you, too, will come out to play.