Archive for August, 2008

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The Nutcracker

August 26, 2008

Now I know that you’ll be disappointed, but this post has nothing to do with sugarplum fairies, the masterful choreography of George Balanchine, or cultural landmarks that I just don’t get (I fell asleep at 8, and I’m pretty sure I’d fall asleep again at 28).

No this post has to do with that hardest of nuts to crack…Dodo Brooke.

I’m fascinated by this woman.  First she’s a big pill–like a horse pill or pill for something even bigger–a hippo Percocet.  Second, she’s young?  Maybe they talked about it earlier but I thought she was pushing spinsterhood and then Sir James busts out that she’s not yet “of age”.  I have to recast my mental movie because right now she’s being played by an increasingly age inappropriate Janet McTeer.

AND she’s like crack to the men…every male in this book is drawn to her.  Even Ladislaw!

I bet there’s a change in store…I’m waiting for around book five where she just goes wild.  Pettycoats fly and all sorts of mischief occurs (or, you know, she builds the cottages).  I can hardly wait to find out.

Happy Reading

Jon

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Oh, Canada

August 21, 2008

That’s right Twin Brother, I am back from my brief visit to our neighbor to the north, and the good news is, I Middlemarch-ed my way back from Ottawa.

Tomorrow I promise my thoughts on the following topics:

1. The torrid love correspondence of Mr. Causabon and Miss Brooke. (Was it my imagination or did she accept his proposal via thank you note?)

2. The town of Freshitt: No fictional town has been so unfortunately names since New Poopington.

3. Mrs. Cadwallader: Friend or Foe? I don’t know, but she sure is funny.

Well, now that I’ve built a bit of anticipation for my future post, I best go unpack.

So long chum(p?),

Justin

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41 Down

August 19, 2008

The clue to the New York Times Monday crossword for the titular 41 Down read:

“The Wind in the Willows” amphibian.

The fact that I could answer that clue quickly and thereby lower my Monday average is the only thing that made reading The Wind in the Willows worthwhile.  So, dear Twin, you have Paula Gamache and Will Shortz to thank for returning you to my good graces.

But back to the book at hand.  As I sat reading Middlemarch today I came upon this quotation

Celia knelt down to get the right level and gave her little butterfly kiss, while Dorothea encircled her with gentle arms and pressed her lips gravely on each cheek in turn.

And all of a sudden I was taken back to 1997 and I remember how whenever that song (“Butterfly Kisses” in case that wasn’t clear) came on the radio, the old Grand Prix had to become silent and you’d sit staring off in silence with a hint of a tear in your eye as you lip synced along with Bob Carlisle

With all that I’ve done wrong I must have done
something right to deserve her love every morning
and butterfly kisses at night.

Ah fond memories…and memories appear to be all I have of you currently twinner…because you seem to have forgotten your responsibilities when it comes to your Middlemarch-ing.

Until next time,

Jon

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Uncrustables

August 16, 2008

You see where you view Miss George throwing us in medias res as some of sort of poolside prank (and a very appropriate metaphor considering the way The Mill on the Floss ends) I view it as Eliot handing me a delicious Uncrustable.  No need to muddle through that dry and tasteless crust, she says to me, jump right into the peanut butter and jelly.

And is it delicious!  (Have I mentioned how I can’t not buy Uncrustables at the grocery store?  At one level I think its ridiculous…I’m a grown man…I can make my own peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  And then there is the side of me that keeps winning that battle that loves the perfect roundness and the fact that all I have to do is thaw and eat…I’m sorry I need an Uncrustable right now.)

…And I’m back…Did I actually eat an Uncrustable right there…you’ll never know–ah the mysteries of life.   I should note that this post is in no way endorsed by the Uncrustable people (but if they want it to be…this space is definitely for rent!).

And after Chapter 3 all I can say is that I was right…Dodo’s a dunce when it comes to men…Sir James is practically throwing himself at her (for goodness sake man, your pride!) and she keeps thinking he’s trying to win her affection as a future sister-in-law.

Open your eyes woman and lets get to some lovin’!

And how about this quotation:

I like to think that the animals about us have souls something like our own, and either carry on their own little affairs or can be companions to us, like Monk here.

When will the rampant anthropomorphic tendencies of classic British literature end?

…And I really want to watch some Monk.

Off to solve mysteries!

Jon

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It’s Called Mixing Things Up

August 15, 2008

You see Twinner, I could very easily have taken my last post in the expected direction and given my thoughts as to the underlying meaning of Eliot giving one of her main characters the nickname “Dodo.” (In precise: Dodo will be an idiot. Why else would you name a character Dodo?)

But then, you see, I decided to switch things up. Keep you guessing a bit. I thought I’d throw in a few numbers and equal sign or two and blow your mind just a little bit. 

So excusing me for shifting your paradigm a little, and taking you a bit out of your comfort zone.

In actuality, I’ve read the first few chapters of Middlemarch, and I’ll be honest I don’t know what to make of it. It’s like George Eliot took me to the edge of the pool and then just when I thought she was going to tie floaties on my little chicken arms and walk me into the shallow end for a friendly introduction to the water that is Middlemarch, and instead she all of a sudden blindsides me and chucks me into the deep-end. 

It’s like Eliot just expects me to know Dorothea (the infamous “Dodo”), Celia, Sir James, et. al. How about a little ice breaker, George. Maybe before setting me down firmly in the middle of the marriage potential of Celia you open with a quick round of two truths and lie. You know just something so I can get to know these characters a little. 

I’ll even give Two Truths and Lie for Dorothea: (See if you can pick the lie.)
1. My family nickname is “Dodo.”
2. I cry a lot. (See point 1.)
3. I wrestle gators competitively.

See it’s not that hard.

Good luck and best wishes,

Justin

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A Dodo By Any Other Name

August 14, 2008

Hello Twin,

Sorry about the pause in posts…but your mathematical prestidigitation in your last missive sent my head a-spinning.  If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times…my twin is a maths wizard.  Here’s an equation…Kurt Godel + Merlin = My Twin.

Actually your last post…since it was a little short on content referring to the book at hand…left me wondering whether you had actually started reading Eliot’s magnum opus at all…so I thought I’d buy you some time by delaying my post.   No need to say anything…you’re very welcome.  But if we’re going to tame this beast in less than six months we’d better get a move on (no more Wind in the WiIlows lollygagging!)

My post today is on naming….reading chapter two got me to thinking about the significance of names in literature…I’m taken back to a particular session of high school English where we discussed The Scarlet Letter.  Chillingworth is cold.  Dimmesdale is going through a dark patch of the soul.  Pearl is round and shiny.

Well the same appears to hold true in Middlemarch as Dodo appears a bit thick.

This is pure speculation…but I’m guessing that she is looking at Causabon quixotically (hence the opening quotation from Cervantes) while she is quite blind to the affections of Sir James.

That’s just an early call…it will be interesting to see how this turns out (I hope the true “Dodo” of this post isn’t me).

Best,

Jon

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A Fun Little Game I Like to Call Extrapolation

August 12, 2008

Hello Twin Brother,

It’s good to be back and reading. I too picked up George Eliot’s Middlemarch this weekend. I couldn’t help but notice the extreme length of your latest pick. (It’s not every book that comes with a friendly reminder to bend with your knees when picking it up.) 

In your last post you took us on a nostalgic trip back in time to where you were in life 6 weeks ago when we started The Wind in the Willows. And while I found your invocation of the Amsterdam airport to be a shimmering word picture of the highest quality, I have to admit I was most struck by the amount of time it took us to read The Wind in the Willows.

Six weeks? Really?

That book was like 150 pages long. Let’s play a little game I like to call extrapolation:

150 pages =The Wind in the Willows = 6 weeks

840 pages = Middlemarch = 33 weeks.

That’s right, Twin Brother, at our current reading pace we will be reading this book for more than 6 months. 

Here’s hoping it a corker of a read.

Justin