Archive for February, 2009

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Happy Birthday To You, Or Us, I Guess

February 28, 2009

Aldous Huxley once said something funny about a birthdays.

Unfortunately, I don’t know what it was. (But I heard it was a real knee-slapper, so it’s a bit of a shame.)

I thought I’d take a brief break from the rigorous literary explication, Golden Girls references, cat-solving mystery jokes, metaphor mining, New Deal dream interpretation, Golden Girls references, shall we say, subpar jokes, character analysis, and of course Golden Girls references that usually litter this blog.

And instead send out birthday greetings to you, Twinner. Have a good b-day.

Just think, if we lived in the Brave New World there could have been something like 96 of us.

Hey, maybe Huxley was on to something….

Nah, maybe not. 96 of us would probably be too much of a good thing (or not so good thing, depending on your perspective.)

Well, next time I’ll be back to the book.

Justin

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Puppet? Who Said Anything About a Puppet

February 23, 2009

“Cat Puppet”?!?

Who said anything about a puppet? In this world of CGI animation, trained tabby cats, and special effects, why would Mr. Whisker’s be portrayed by a puppet?

Other than that I found your comments extremely constructive. Not least for the inspiration to find a role in one of my shows for David Leisure. (I think he’d make a mean Raymond Moley. What do you think?) One question did come to mind when I reading your last post though: Are you obligated to mention a member of The Golden Girls family of television programs in at least one of every three posts?

Just asking.

That was a great illustrative clip of the Brave New World TV movie. I think the most frightening aspect was not the futuristic wood-paneled minivans, but rather the distopian “rat tails” that pervade that particular clip.

It’s interesting because you chose a clip of the made-for-TV-movie that exactly coincides with where I am in the book. It’s as if you were looking over my shoulder…

Creepy.

Well, it’s time to get readin’.

Justin

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Close Reading and Crossover Possibilities

February 17, 2009

Hello Twin,

  Sorry for the lag time in response…it’s been crazy busy at the library and by the time I get home I’m just beat.  (Shh…do you hear the violins playing a sombre melody filled with pathos in the background of my tale of woe).  But woe begone!  I’m back…and I have a bone to pick with you (does that saying stem from paleontology…because when I just thought it I pictured the both of us in pith helmets at some desert site marked off with pegs and string). 

  But back to the bone (focus, Jon, focus):  Rocket ships?  I pictured them as helicopters.  And to back me up I’d like to include the following clip from the 1998 made-for-TV movie (starring Peter Gallagher!) that I just found excerpted on YouTube:

  Yep definitely helicopters.  And notice the ominous minivans of the future!

  But back to the meat of your post…your television ideas are brilliant.  In In Full Bloom I can picture Gilbert Gottfried as Roger Avery and his catchphrase can be a plaintive, “I’m trying to paint here!”  But what I really love about these television shows is the cross over possibilities.  Do you remember NBC’s classic Saturday night lineup of Golden Girls, Nurses, and Empty Nest and how sometimes they’d have thematically linked shows because all three were produced by the same people and all took place in Miami.  So like one Saturday night a hurricane hit and all the shows featured the hurricane.

  Do you remember?  Do you?

  Well instead of a natural disaster your two programs could be linked by that hurricane of an economist John Maynard Keynes.  In Bloomsbury he’s in some torrid love affair with an Oxfordian and in FDR’s administration he’s talking big government spending with that cat puppet. Really the possibilities are endless.

  I just wanted to put that idea out there.

  AND every once in a while in In Full Bloom there could be the appearance of…Aldous Huxley.  Maybe he’s working on a little futuristic tale of conformity and sexual gluttony.  Genius!

  Well back to the book…

   Jon

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What’s the Deal

February 13, 2009

You will be happy to hear, Twin Brother, that I have gotten back to reading Aldous Huxley merry little romp through the terrifying possibilities of an over-industrialized future.

Don’t believe me? Need some proof?

Instead of driving cars like us non-fictional types the likes of Lenina, Bernard Marx, and the Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning fly from place to place in rocket ships. It’s kind of like The Jetsons minus the light-hearted fun…and Rosie.

Brave New World? Crazy New World, more like.

But enough about the book.

Following my dream heavy weekend, I’ve spent some quiet moments reflecting and trying to find a deeper meaning in my dreams, and well, to be honest that was pretty futile. But while I was pondering, I think I may have come up with two sure fire sitcom hits. Let me know what you think:

Show 1: In Full Bloom

Synopsis: A 21st century twenty-something travels back in time and finds himself/herself stuck in early 20th century Bloomsbury where they have to learn to navigate the crazy, artistic, bohemian world of the British literati. Think Friends meets Perfect Stranger meets Eminent Victorians. 

I’ve done a little mental casting too, I am thinking:

Virginia Woolf: Joy Behar
Vita Sackville-West:  Lisa Kudrow
Lytton Stratchey: David Hyde-Pierce

Show 2: What’s the Deal

The show concerns itself with the inner workings of FDR’s cabinet hammering out plans to fight the tide of the Great Depression. The twist is, while historians will write that it was the combination of minds of Roosevelt’s cabinet and various advisors who come up with programs and laws that transform America, in truth they are getting all of their ideas from a stray, wise-cracking tabby cat named Mr. Whiskers, who accidentally wanders into the White House on Inauguration Day. It will be like West Wing meets Friends (man, I like Friends) meets Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.

Here’s sample of the comic gems that would litter an average episode:

Mr. Whiskers: Did you say that was an Ickes plan? I can see that. It’s definitely “icky!” (And cue the laugh track.)

The casting ideas on this one are a little more up in the air, but I think it goes without saying that Danny Devito would provide the voice of Mr. Whiskers. 

What do you think?

I am guessing maybe your thinking I should stick to only Brave New World related topics from now on.

Justin


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Snuffleupugus and Cultural Understanding

February 11, 2009

Is that really what you dream about?  Virginia Woolf and/or New Dealers.  My dreams tend to involve me flying (I never feel as free as I do in the air–sigh) or me trying to wake up but my eyelids being too heavy.  Not very literary at all.  Although once I did have a dream where Snuffy (the Snuffleupugus) sat on a bar stool singing “The Rainbow Connection” while I tap danced in nothing but my y-fronts.

Questions I have after typing that last paragraph:  Does Snuffy count as a literary character?  Did I just overshare?  And why are there so many songs about rainbows?

Actually I’d like Snuffy (or Kermit) to list the all of these songs about rainbows that he’s heard.  I’ve heard one…”Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.  Name another guys…c’mon…whenever you’re ready.

But back to things Brave.  Although I’m not loving the distopia-part of the story (I feel like I’ve read that before)…I do enjoy the lessons in cultural understanding that occur as Bernard and Lenina vacay in the wilds of New Mexico.  This whole time we’ve been like “Weird they torture babies, weird everyone seems to do some pretty hardcore recreational drugs.”  But the tables get turned on us when these two travelers find themselves looking the representative of our society when they meet John and Linda and they live somewhat like we do today and what we consider commonplace is met with revulsion (“Oh she’s fat!”  “The baby came from where!?!”).  Maybe we should give this brave new world a bit of a break and stop applying our norms and mores to their lives.

I should note here that I’m not 100% on what a more is, but it seemed to fit, right?

And I found you referencing of Virginia Woolf to be very prescient…because the book goes a little stream o’ conscious in Chapter 8 when John recounts his boyhood.  

What a coincidence.  

Well it’s been a slice…I look forward to hearing what you think of the book when you actually read it again.  But until then keep me updated on those dreams…they’re something else!

Adieu,

Jon

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Last Night I Dreamt About the Blog

February 8, 2009

Okay, so technically, it wasn’t last night that I dreamt about the blog. It was two nights ago.

(I intended to write this post yesterday, but was sidetracked by my very demanding schedule of napping, watching movies I got from Netflix, and reading books about the New Deal. In actuality, last night I dreamt that I was member of FDR’s progressive New Deal cabinet, and we were all needed simultaneously in downtown Washington D.C. so we loaded up in a single car a la the Beverly Hillbillies and headed cityward with FDR behind the wheel, Harry Hopkins at his side, and Frances Perkins reluctantly riding atop the jalopy in tied down rocking chair.–but that really has nothing to do with the blog, so I didn’t think it worth mentioning.)

So, two nights ago, I dreamt about the blog. It started as most of my dreams start, I am living in a small apartment that I share (platonically) with Virginia Woolf. We live Felix and Oscar style constantly butting heads. She being a stream-of-consciousness-neat freak-bohemian. Me being a cluttered-postmodern-loving-square.

We’ve just finished a round of verbal sparring, and we sit down to our day’s writing. She with her pens and ink, me with my iBook. I power-up my computer and  log onto our blog with a deeply insightful, almost divinely-inspired entry to post.

I pull up a new post, I set my fingers on the home row at the ready to type dextrously as the aforementioned deeply insightful thoughts poor out of my mind. 

There’s only one problem:

As soon as I see the blank screen waiting to be filled all of my words leave me. I am completely blocked. I stare at the screen. I stare at the keyboard. I stare at my hands (which have inexplicably transformed into penguin flippers). I stare at Virginia Woolf (who by the way is writing at an unbelievable pace, to the point where there is smoke coming from her pen, and she frequently giggles at what she’s just put on the page while muttering..”Genius…Pure Genius!).

I turn back to the screen. And as I stare blankly, searching in vain for my thoughts the screen starts filling up:

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha

That’s right the blog is laughing at me. (Which is exactly the opposite of how our interactions usually transpire.)

And then I woke up.

All that to say, I haven’t really read any further in Brave New World, but I plan on reading some more soon. Maybe after a nap…

Justin

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Fasten Your Seat Belt

February 5, 2009

Because things start happening right around Chapter Seven!

But before I go into the action of the book I feel like we need to delve into your aphorism illiteracy.  I know this isn’t an easy thing to talk about, but there are a lot of people out there who probably share you ignorance of common, everyday sayings.  You could be the poster person for this issue…kind like Bob Dole was for Erectile Disfunction (notice how I subtly joined your name to Erectile Disfunction).  The saying that I’ve always used, heard used, know of existing is “That’s the pot calling the kettle black.” (or some minor variation).  But never, never have I heard “That’s coal calling the kettle black.”  Make a clean breast of it Justin and do it quickly because “A stitch in time saves nine.” (Poor dear that’s probably just gibberish to you.)

And now back to Brave New World…in chapter seven the story goes all Wisteria Lane as things get positively sudsy.  I don’t want to give plot points away (I believe, per usual, that I’m slightly ahead in reading), but if you notice that a secondary character seems to be giving a rather unexpected and detailed account of his past (a past vacation, say) for no real discernible reason…it’s because Huxley is laying the groundwork for future surprises!  

To move safely away from accidentally giving away a plot twist…let’s move to an appreciation of one of Huxley’s less trumpeted talents: Nature Writing.

Here’s an excerpt:

They walked along for some way in the shadow of the mesa, rounded a projection, and there, in a water-worn ravine, was the way up the companion ladder.  They climbed.  It was a very steep path that zigzagged from side to side of the gully. (72).

What a word picture!  Watch out Rachel Carson.  I can almost feel that projection.

Savoring Nature,

Jon