Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 04/23/19: Bicycle Ride, Shakespeare's Birthday, *Hell or High Water*

1.  I vaulted on to my bicycle, hit the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes, and pedaled to the western city limits of Smelterville. After a period of rest and hydration on a bench, I returned home. I recalled a visit I made to Kellogg about sixteen years ago. I had purchased a very inexpensive used bicycle and every morning I rode it Johnny's Bar in Smelterville for morning coffee with Wayne Benson, Merv Hill (may they rest in peace), and other men so Wayne, in particular, could spend about an hour picking on me. Sixteen years ago, I was riding my bicycle in Eugene quite a bit.  I remember how I could fly on the trail between Kellogg and Smelterville. If I flew today, I flew like an aged cargo jet that had been packed beyond capacity.

2. Over the weekend, I redeemed an Amazon gift card I've had since Christmas. I purchased a new Norton edition of the collected plays, a DVD set of the BBC series Playing Shakespeare, and the book that grew out of this series. Today was Shakespeare's 455th birthday. The book arrived and I read random passages, delighting in John Barton's analysis of them, delighting in what these analyses mean for actors playing the roles or giving voice to the sonnets.

I also remembered Shakespeare's birthday in 1997. That year, it fell on a Wednesday. Spring quarter was in about its third or fourth week. I suggested to my Shakespeare class, which met on Wednesday nights from 7-10, that we have a Shakespeare birthday party after class and a member of the class, Scott, volunteered to host the party at his house. I remember bringing a six pack or two of Rogue's Shakespeare Stout. The party was a blast.  We'd been doing some things in class to build a sense of unity among the students, but nothing we did in class created a sense of togetherness like that party.

3.  Something I read a few years ago brought the movie, Hell or High Water, to my attention and this evening I watched it. It tells the story of brothers who, out of financial desperation, undertake a series of bank robberies. A Texas Ranger, about to retire, played by Jeff Bridges, heads the investigation into the crimes, along with his partner. The way Bridges gives full life to the weariness, savvy, irreverence, deceptive intelligence, persistence, and grief of Marcus Hamilton captivated me, led me to think that watching Bridges fully occupy this complex character was a fitting way to spend the evening of Shakespeare's birthday.

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