I haven’t written anything in a while. I’d like to say it is because I broke my finger and can’t type, but that would be a lie. (I did break my finger, but that hasn’t stopped me from typing.) I’d like to say it’s because I’ve had nothing to write about lately, but that would be a lie too. It’s just that I don’t want to use this blog to talk about the news or politics, and that is pretty much all that has been on my mind since last Saturday.
So what can I write about?
In four days there is going to be a total eclipse of the sun. I remember the last one, on Saturday, March 7, 1970. I was in the eighth grade, and I was in Boston on a field trip with my Episcopal Church Confirmation class. We went to see the movie Easy Rider. Don’t ask me why we chose that film, but apparently we did. I am guessing none of our parents were cool enough to have seen the movie or even know what it was about, so they couldn’t object. Besides, we were with a priest.
We watched the movie, and I thought it was the dumbest thing I had ever seen in my life: quite a statement considering I had spent a good chunk of the 1960s watching Gilligan’s Island, Lost in Space, Batman, and reruns of I Love Lucy. At 13 years old, I totally didn’t get what the film was about, and I’m not sure would now. (In case you’re too young to have heard of it, Easy Rider is a counterculture biker film starring Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and a young Jack Nicholson that won Dennis Hopper the Best First Work Award at the 1969 Cannes Film Festival. If you want to know more, read this very interesting piece written by Garin Pirnia and published on Mental Floss http://mentalfloss.com/article/77348/13-fast-facts-about-easy-rider.)
I don’t remember much about the film, but I do I remember pretending to like it so that I wouldn’t appear immature to my more sophisticated classmates. As we exited the theater, the eclipse was going on. We had come prepared, and we “watched” the eclipse with the help of our homemade pinhole box “cameras” and other crudely crafted viewing aids so as not to damage our retinas.
If you read my last blog, you may have figured out that I am fascinated by words.
Like many words in the English language, eclipse can be a noun or a verb. When not referring to celestial bodies, the noun means a loss of significance, power, or prominence in relation to another person or thing. Synonyms include decline, fall, failure, decay, deterioration, degeneration, weakening, or collapse. When used as a verb, eclipse means to deprive (someone or something) of significance, power, or prominence. Synonyms include outshine, overshadow, surpass, exceed, outstrip, outdo, top, trump, transcend, upstage.
As far as the etymology of the word is concerned, eclipse is Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin eclipsis, from Greek ekleipsis, from ekleipein to omit, fail, suffer eclipse, from ex- + leipein to leave.
I have to admit I find the timing of this eclipse quite interesting. Let’s just leave it at that.
I was confirmed on May 10, 1970. The reason I know that was the date is because it was a Sunday, the same day the Bruins won the Stanley Cup over the Saint Louis Blues, in the fourth game of the series, in the fourth period, when Bobby Orr, number 4, scored the fourth goal at 40 seconds of overtime. My confirmation classmates and I were far more interested in the Bruins than we were in what was happening in church that day. You could even say that the Bruins’ victory “eclipsed” my confirmation. But there we were, kneeling at the alter in front of the Bishop and receiving our first taste of communion wine, while 30 miles away the most exciting game of our lives–indeed, the most important game–was being played in Boston Garden. And as my family drove away from the church, with the radio on, we heard the play by play of the winning goal, and my dad blasted the horn on our station wagon. Dad, I hope you’ve forgiven me for making you miss one of the greatest moments ever in Boston sports history.