Archive for June, 2008

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Mole, Ratty and Me in Amsterdam

June 30, 2008

Since I had to spend the night last night in the Amsterdam Airport (darn twelve hour layovers!) I decided that I would begin my acquaintance with the denizens of The Wind in the Willows as I tried to find a comfortable position on the airport furniture–chair arms were put in the most unfortunate of places, my body was contorted like the Sine Curve.

So it was nice to be able to escape the discomfort and join Mole and Ratty on their trip down the river.  So far my favorite part of the book is Grahame’s skill with names…he really capture the essence of the character.

One question that I have after reading chapter one and to illustrate I’ll pull some quotations:

1.) ‘Aren’t they–aren’t they very nice people in there?’ said the Mole a trifle nervously.

‘W-e-ll,’ replied the Rat, ‘let me see.  The squirrels are all right. …’

2.) …Mole was indeed very glad to obey, for he had started his spring-cleaning at a very early hour that morning, as people will do, and had not paused for bite or sup…

The anthropomorphic confusion has already set in.  I thought the confusion would be mine alone as a reader who likes his animals acting like animals and his people acting like people, but it seems that even these forest creatures don’t know!  I am unsettled.

I look forward to hearing your initial thoughts, and I look forward to chapter two.

Best,

Jon

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Bovar and Out

June 26, 2008

Well, Twin Brother, I finished. The goal was to finish before I head down Mexico-way for the weekend, and I made it. (Not by much, I turned the final page right before heading off to sleep for my ridiculously early 3:40 wake-up call, but I still made it.)

Let me just say, Sadness is the end of Madame Bovary. (Although, from your description, the end of the movie might even be sadder.)

But among the sadness there were a few moments of Flaubert-ridiculousness:

1. Emma’s Dad assuring Chuck that he will “still get his turkey” as he leaves Emma’s funeral.

2. The Bovary family telling their young daughter not that Emma has died, but that she’s gone away for awhile and will be coming back (with toys!) and just ignoring the issue until young Berthe stops asking about her Mom.

Well, those were my thoughts at a glance. Now I really must jet. Off to Mexico until Monday. When I’m back I’m sure I’ll have many interesting things to say about TWITW.

Until then,

Justin

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Sabes Que?

June 25, 2008

Our mutual Spanish friend assures me that this means “Guess What?”, which is the meaning I intend for the title of this post.  Now if our friend is playing an elaborate prank on me and I have instead typed “I am a donut” or some such nonsense…then I apologize in advance.

But the reasoning for the Spanish form of “Guess What?” is that last night we were having a DVD movie night here in Barcelona and guess what one of the options was?  None other than the movie version of Madame Bovary.  It was fate, it was kismet, it was meant to be so I made my fellow travelers hunker down for a night filled with Bovarish shenanigans.  (Well first we watched Jigsaw Manhaven’t seen it?, don’t.).

Anywho the movie stars Isabelle Huppert–who’d have guessed Emma was a ginger?–and it paints a much more sympathetic portrait of Emma.  But her death is even grizzlier (two words, blue vomit).

Anyway just wanted to share that bit of cosmic alignity.

Adios,

Jon

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A Stair Climber Is Not An Elliptical Machine

June 24, 2008

This is one lesson I learned this weekend while not reading Madame Bovary. Oh sure, there are stair climbers that can look deceptively like elliptical machines, and you may think that a machine looking like an elliptical machine will perform similarly, and you will be able to handle a workout on said machine of a similar duration.

And then you get on the machine, and you realize that even though it may resemble your friendly workout machine it is in actuality its sick, sadistic cousin, who hates people in general, and you with a frightening specificity. 10 minutes later you’re openly weeping from pain in the all too public workout room of a St. Louis Hampton Inn, and you are forced to pathetically hobble back to your room while between sobs you mutter things like “I should stretched my hammy” or “Boy, I feel that burn!” to sound like you are knowledgeable about such things.

I know the above has seemingly nothing to do with anything remotely tied to Madame B., but if it were not for my ill-planned adventure in fitness I would never have been forced to lie on my bed in the fetal position and watch Big Mamma’s House 2 and have something of a revelation into my understanding of the character of Emma Bovary.

I don’t know if it was when Martin Lawrence proclaims “Nobody messes with one of Big Mamma’s babies.” when he prematurely leaves a stakeout to don his Big Mamma body suit, and go to rescue of one of the children he’s caring for in his undercover duties or when Big Mamma proclaims “I got a blade in my girdle!” when she foils a kidnapping plot, that I realized Emma Bovary might have been a very different character had she had a Big Mamma in her life.

It gives one pause to think, doesn’t it?

By this time it has to be blatantly obvious that I have not read a whole lot since I last posted. This post may have little or no connection to your last post, I’ll be honest I stopped reading after I saw you had finished the book. I will reply to that in greater detail when I make it through the last 35 pages.

Until then, Twinner.

Justin

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And Adieu

June 20, 2008

I’m afraid back to back posting may be frowned upon by our more symmetrically minded friends, but I just had to drop a few words since I just finished the book (I won’t have you scooping me again, twin!)

That is right Madame Bovary is finished.  I’ve placed it back on the bookshelf between The Scarlet Letter and Anna Karenina (it’s my “sin shelf”).  I’ll have to say that I was more horrified than I anticipated at Flaubert’s description of Emma’s end…and here we’re supposed to be hardened by the graphic violence and butt shots on NYPD Blue (by the way I’m posting from 1993) but Flaubert puts all that to shame.  Yechh!

And the sadness doesn’t even stop there!  It just gets worse.  Contain yourself Gus, contain.  The only thing that could have made it sadder would have been if Berthe had a puppy and the puppy got ran over by a horse and Berthe had had to watch as coyotes scavenged for supper from puppy carnage.  Only that could have made it sadder.

I was finishing the book as I waited for my bus this afternoon and right before the bus came the wind started gusting and blew some grit into my eye (it was very Brief Encounter…except I was alone). Anyway said grit got itself tangled in my contact lenses and then the tears came and it looked like the tears were coming because of the book (just like when I finished The Bostonians when I had my sinus infection and tears were streaming down my face).  So although I was quite affected by the end of the book, my bus mates thought my affectedness was exponentially greater.

So that means that I’m packing The Wind in the Willows for my Spanish holiday.  Keep me posted (ha-ha posted) as to when you (finally) finish Bovary and wish to commence our newfound friendship with ones Frog and Toad (and Grover?…this book is about the Muppets right?)

Ciao,

Jon

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World Rocked, Noggin Knocked

June 19, 2008

I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to respond to your lackluster answers to the inspired essay test I gave you (more about that later) but my world was rocked….rocked….when Bobby got “executed” by The Mole this week…not since the surprise eviction of Howie in Big Brother: Allstars has reality TV thrown me for such a loop. I just had no words.

But now the words are back and even when I couldn’t type I could read! In fact I got so enthralled in Emma (the Emu?)’s shenanigans yesterday that I almost missed my stop on the bus and then when I realized where I was I jumped up to get off the bus and smacked my head into one of the balance bars that standing riders hold onto for support. Thanks a lot Bovary!

Now to your test…I provided you with three questions and you only chose to answer one…what’s up with that? And your single answer I feel was chosen largely because the two words sound similar (Emma-Emu). Correct answer: Emma’s a panther (it’s like obvious–you would have gotten partial credit for suggesting a unicorn–you would have lost a fraction of a point because of the mythic status of the singularly horned beast).

But you can make it up to me…here’s how, it’s easy. I’d like to know how you pronounce the character, Monsieur Lheuruex’s last name? In my head sometimes its “Laroo” and sometimes it’s “Loorex”-got any ideas?

Best,

Jon

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Questions and Answers

June 17, 2008

I am officially making any “wild ride” jokes pertaining to our reading of The Wind and the Willows from this point forward completely off limits. “Raucous journey”: fine. “Spirited Soujourn”: encouraged. “Wild Ride”: verboten.

Now you posed an interesting question in your last post: If Emma were an anthropomorphic animal what anthropomorphic animal would should be? (Pardon my paraphrase there, I was working from memory.) Here’s what I’ve come up with:

Emma is an emu.

Emma much like our flightless friend is a striking figure. You see Emma once, you never forget her. The same could be said of the emu. An emu, much like Emma, is a larger than life character. And most obviously, both dream of spreading their wings, taking flight and changing their lots in life, but flap and flap as they might, both are destined to remain firmly on the ground.

Hence, Emma= emu.

Well, I can’t wait to see what happens next to Emu Bovary…uhh…I mean Emma Bovary. Until I can better answer that question, I’m done.

Bovar and out,

Justin