Archive for June, 2010

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Ain’t No Party Like A Tableaux Vivant Party

June 24, 2010

“…we were drinking and mingling and the next thing you know we were posing as Raphael’s Three Graces and then things got weird…all I know is that I woke up with an apple in my hand and the taste of feathers in my mouth.”

I imagine that something like this like this could have come from any of the guests at the Welly Bry’s soiree de tableaux vivant.  I guess that’s how new money “rolled” back in early 20th Century America…posing like famous paintings as a “general entertainment”.  Well it’s all fun and games until some unleashes some Bosch on the room and the next thing you know dead bodies are everywhere.  It’s batsh*t crazy shenanigans like this that brought on Prohibition.

That being said I probably would have attended as a clown with a single tear or a schnauzer with a poker visor…or a Campbell’s soup can (because that’s art).

I did a quick scan of the literature on literature and it seems that Lily’s letter hoarding is unmined gold!  Keep digging Justin the world of literary criticism awaits your findings.  On a side note, I heard an interesting segment about hoarders on Fresh Air (I also heard about Prohibition of Fresh Air and contrary to popular belief it wasn’t tableaux vivant parties that brought about the change in laws (who is spreading these rumors?)…at least no one’s looked into it yet…maybe in the Ken Burns documentary…) and the authors of a book on hoarders said a lot interesting stuff about hoarding.  I like Fresh Air.

After Lily’s amazing re-creation of Rothko’s Orange and Yellow (I kid, I kid…she was some boring nude lady.) After her most vivant of tableaux Selden announced his love for her…and in my humble opinion his confession was given in the most douche baggy way possible “The only way I can help you is by loving you.”

Gulp.  I just swallowed a little vomit.

Quit pulling her chain Selden and let the girl marry some money!

Stranded in Louisville,

Jon

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The Girl Who Didn’t Play With Fire

June 22, 2010

Okay, I admit that this is a brazen attempt at trying to catch a little associated interest with the world-wide Stieg Larsson “Girl Who…” phenomenon. And I will admit that after a very turbulent pretty much sleepless red-eye flight from San Diego to New York, I am also feeling incredibly unclever, and really to be honest, barely awake. So, as a result I am seizing the zeitgeist, tweaking it, and appropriating it for my new blog post.

Or in fewer words: I am not clever.

But, this time my unoriginality if actually quite serendipitous as it does actually tie in to a plot point.

I’ve read a few chapters over the last few days, and I came across the intriguing plot twist of Mrs. Haffen’s letters. First of all, thank goodness for Mrs. Haffen. Finally, someone to liven things up a bit. A straw to stir the drink, so to speak. Her somewhat sad attempts at blackmailing Lily B. kept me reading for pages.

But this whole scene brought two big questions:

Question #1: Why does Lily not just tell Mrs. Haffen the letters aren’t hers and that Mrs. Haffen is really no spider to her fly?

Question #2: Why does she decide not to burn the letters? (And here is the tie-in the title–clever, eh?)

I can’t help but feel that this is going to end badly for Lily. But, quite honestly, I expect pretty much every decision Lily has made to this point (stock market speculation, gambling, letter hoarding0 will lead to headaches, heartaches, and surprisingly little mirth (considering the book’s title and whatnot) down the road.

Well, this post has already over-taxed my sleep-addled brain, so I will leave you with my questions to ponder.

Justin

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Ms. Nelson

June 8, 2010

So much to unpack in that last blog, mon frere. First I’ll tackle your Jan Brady citation. In your exegesis you question Jan’s motivation for buying a wig (as opposed to dying and/or restyling her hair. Note: I was impressed by your knowledge of the uses of aquanet–you are an onion–layers and layers). And you question further “And an old lady wig at that”?

I’d say that Jan had to buy a wig as opposed to simply re-fashioning her drab lusterless locks because she was striving (in vain!) to distance herself from Marcia’s shadow (Fool! Marcia Brady’s shadow knows no limits). Where Marcia was genuine (genuine Clairol Blonde #4!) Jan had to make herself as fake and manufactured as she possibly could. Where Marcia was vibrant and blond, Jan would be mousy and brown. Where Marcia was youth personified, Jan would embrace the hairstyle of a middle-aged school marm.

She had to be the Anti-Marcia…at all costs…and that’s why, rumor has it, a draft of that episode ended in homage to A Streetcar Named Desire with Jan in a straight jacket muttering “I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers. Just wait til Ron Glass hears about this!”

I jest, I jest. Probably Jan just had bad taste (she did wear glasses–nerd!).

But that quotation drew another story to my mind…a different tale of reinvention and wig-buying (it’s, apparently, a trope of American Popular Culture). I was reminded, instead, of Miss Nelson is Missing! by Harry Allard (Pictures by James Marshall). If you don’t recall in that story the kind-hearted Miss Nelson loses patience with her unruly brood of recalcitrant students and concocts a grandiose scheme that includes her adopting a second persona (the still-frightening and intensely eye-browed Miss Viola Swamp) and acting as her own substitute to teach her students a lesson.

And that lesson, as far as I can tell, is that it’s okay to lie to kids if they’re really, really bratty.

Or did I perpetrate a misreading on this seminal text of childhood? As I look at the illustrations made visible on Amazon.com’s “Look Inside” feature it’s striking how different the noses of Miss Nelson and Viola Swamp are…

Could it be that Miss Swamp was, in fact, real? A distinct and separate being? Is it possible that Miss Swamp usurped Miss Nelson’s position in some nefarious way, subsequently letting loose the pent-up frustration and fury that is a natural result of dealing with a gaggle of unruly children day after day, culminating in a reckoning of epic proportions thereby obliterating all evidence that one Viola Swamp ever existed except for the remnants of a black dress and “wig” that Miss Nelson keeps as a warning to any other “substitute teacher” that may wish to encroach on her classroom fiefdom?

Maybe? Could be? [tumbleweed]

Long story short…don’t be surprised if Lily ends up buying a wig. I wouldn’t know because I haven’t read this book recently.

Until I read again,

Jon

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The New Lily Bart

June 6, 2010

First you say, “It’s like in Twilight…” and you instantly follow that with “Don’t judge!” Impossible! That’s like putting a fish in water and saying “Don’t swim” or putting an ice cold Diet Coke in front of me and saying “Don’t drink this.”

But, I will try. As soon as you book your vacation to Forks though, all deals are off.

It seems that early in Chapter 9 Lily is having a bit of an identity crisis:

“It was as she had said to Selden–people were tired of her. The would welcome her in a new character, but as Miss Bart they knew her by heart. She knew herself by heart too, and was sick of the old story. There were moments when she longed blindly for anything different, anything strange, remote and untried; but the utmost reach of her imagination did not go beyond picturing here usual life in a new setting.”

Okay, first let’s have a moment of silence for Lily’s atrophied imaginative powers.

Also, did this make you think of Episode 42 of the “Will the Real Jan Brady Please Stand Up?” This is when Jan finds herself personally stymied a la Lily Bart. She doesn’t have the looks of Marcia or the personality of Cindy, and she feels like she is stuck in a rut and the only way to drastically change some aspect of  her life so she takes all the money she has and buys a brunette wig. (Now, no one will confuse her with Marcia!)

And as I was tracing the parallels between Lily and Jan’s existential crises, a question just kept running through my mind?

Why a wig, Jan? Why a wig?

And an old lady wig at that. Perhaps I could could introduce you to my friends hair dye and scissors–or if we are being true to the spirit of the wig–hair dye, curlers, and aquanet. (Lots and lots of aquanet.) Admittedly, Jan was never the sharpest tack in the box. (You will recall she briefly thought she was allergic Mr. Brady.) But really, Jan, a wig.

Then I remembered this blog post was supposed to be about Lily Bart.

Yeah, on that, I got nothing.

Justin

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Team Percy

June 2, 2010

Ack!  Selden keeps popping up in the most unfortunate places…first on Lily’s weekend with Percy and now when she has to make nice to Rosedale.  It reminds me of when I watched Twilight (I know, I know–don’t judge).  This vampire, Edward, follows the main character Bella and around and every time she acknowledges him he says something like, “Bella you need to stay away from me.” and then in the next scene he proceeds to sit down at her cafeteria table (“Isn’t this tuna surprise tasty…stay away from me.”– Note: I’m not sure this is an exact quotation it’s been a while since I’ve seen the movie.)  Similarly Selden keeps popping up, waxing poetical about his “Republic of the Spirit”, and blocking any love connection that Lily may be in the midst of forging.

Give a girl some space Selden!  I’m still hoping she ends up with Gryce (he’s bookish–how charming!)…but it’s not looking good with his new engagement.  And what with his general goodness it doesn’t look likely that he’ll jettison Evie to climb aboard the Lily Express.

I don’t understand that last sentence…why did I make Lily a train?

And I think Selden is a vampire.

On a completely unrelated note, I was intrigued by this sentence, “She revolted from the complacent ugliness of Mrs. Peniston’s black walnut, from the slippery gloss of the vestibule tiles, and the mingled odour of sapolio and furniture-polish that met at the door.”

Sapolio?  What is sapolio (I think to myself).  Research project!

According to Wikipedia it “was a brand of soap noted for its advertising, led by Artemas Ward from 1883–1908.”

Oh and they have  a picture!

Sapolio Ad

Wikipedia is awesome!

How about that!  Soap. (Why wasn’t it capitalized?–lazy).

Well Koko and Yum Yum that’s another mystery solved!

Until the next time,

Jon