Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 02/11/20: I Finished *Master and Commander* (No Spoilers), Maryland Hangs On, Adjusting to Charly with *Vera*

1. About six weeks ago, when I finished watching the James Bond movie, Casino Royale, I wrote that I enjoyed the movie much more when Bond's character was under development and when his mind was at work matching wits with the movie's villains or with his boss. I found myself impatient during the outrageous chases with their spectacular special effects and as his seductions of and liaisons with women played out. During these scenes, I wanted to get back to what was cerebral and complicated about James Bond. Those scenes were much more absorbing.

Similarly, in reading Master and Commander, I found the book most captivating as I learned more about the inner lives of Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, unfolded in their conversations, decisions, actions, and inward thoughts. When the story focused on the details of battles at sea, the novel was more difficult for me to enjoy, except as they revealed more about each naval man's character.

Master and Commander is the first of Patrick O'Brian's twenty completed and one unfinished Aubrey/Maturin historical novels. My curiosity as to how Aubrey and Maturin will develop as individual characters and how their friendship will proceed motivates me to read on in the series. It could be that as I read more deeply into the series, the passages describing the flash and boom of battle, the raising and lowering of sails, and the maneuvering of ships in battle will become more compelling to me.

It's hard to say.

I think I am sufficiently interested, though, to find out how Jack Aubrey moves on from his naval successes and failures in the first book and whether he learns from those things he's done that have undermined his own ambitions.  At some point, I'll get going on the next novel, Post Captain.

Before I move forward, though, I might take time to go back and reread the last two chapters of Master and Commander. I was fatigued when I read them and I think they deserve my second reading with a fresher mind.

And I won't read Post Captain right away because Edith Wharton is calling and my next move is to enter into the late 19th century world of New York City in her novel, The Age of Innocence.

2. At halftime, it looked like Maryland would waltz to a victory over Nebraska. The Terps held a 13 point lead. Nebraska was having a lousy shooting night.

In the second half, Maryland's waltz turned into Nebraska's monster mash and the 'Huskers roared back and, with 12 seconds left in the game, Nebraska rebounded a missed Anthony Cowan free throw. Nebraska had cut the lead to one point. With four seconds remaining, Nebraska's Cam Mack found an open lane to the hoop, drove hard to the cup, but Maryland's Jalen Smith swooped into the key and swatted away Mack's shot without drawing a foul. Smith snatched possession of his block and got fouled with 7/10 of a second left in the game. He made his first free throw, missed the second on purpose, and Nebraska could not launch a last tenth of a second desperation shot and Maryland prevailed, 72-70.

3.  I decided to see tonight if I might get more consecutive hours of sleep if I stayed up later and fed Charly late at night and took her out back before going to bed around midnight. It might have worked. Charly cried for me to tend to her at 4 a.m. I got four consecutive, sweet hours of sleep. I returned to bed and slept until 7:30. I'm going to take this approach again. I woke up more refreshed than I have been in a while.

Knowing that I'm going to stay up about two hours longer than I usually do, I put a couple or three movies on my television's watchlist and then decided, since I've finished Season 9 of Vera, to go back to the beginning and start watching episodes beginning with the first episode of the first season.

Having done this, I now know Vera moved into her father's very modest wreck of a country home after he died and that with the beginning of the series she enters into a period of reckoning, trying to come to grips with what a difficult father he was. When I watched Vera confront some facts about her father's life in the fourth episode of season 9, I hadn't realized what she'd been through at the beginning of the series as she moved into his house.

(I started with Season 9 because about a month or so ago it was all I had access to through my BritBox subscription, but now we also subscribe to Acorn so now I can watch all of the seasons and episodes.)

In this first episode, viewers are introduced to Vera over the course of an unusual pair of murders. Both murders were ritual killings involving water and flowers and neither murder made much sense until Vera and her fellow inspectors began to dig into the lives of a circle of bird watchers. The murderer's secret perversion surfaced, along with other deceits. Vera cracked the case.

I prefer early to bed and early to rise -- but I'm going to change that pattern, work with Charly's life rhythms in her old age, and start watching more drama on my television late at night with the help of hot chocolate.

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