Archive for January, 2012


A Convenient Snuff Box of Parmesan

January 29, 2012

Deus Ex Machina alert!

I’m glad that in your last post that you mentioned Ben Gunn’s yearning to be reunited…with cheese.  Because when Jim shares that very information with his allies back at their hideout we learn that Dr. Livesey just happens to have been secreting a snuff box full of Parmesan!

Is it me or is that fromage a little too fortuitous?  That queso a bit of a coincidence?

And just listen to the self-satisfied way that Dr. L presents this information:

“Well Jim,” says he, “just see the good that comes of being dainty in your food.  You’ve seen my snuff-box, haven’t you? And you never saw me take snuff; the reason being that in my snuff-box I carry a piece of Parmesan cheese–a cheese made in Italy, very nutritious.

One — secretly hoarding food is not what I’d consider “dainty”.  And two, I know where they make Parmesan you supercilious son of a…rum puncheon.

Now we’re left to wonder how the cheese factor will play out.  Will that Parmesan soothe Ben’s crazy and make him a willing cheese-drugged minion for whatever anti-pirate action that the good doctor has in mind.  (Remember Dr. L…first do no harm).  Or will Ben be so disgusted at this continental cheese that he will (perhaps horrifically) turn against the “good” guys.  (“I said I wanted cheddar Jim!  Cheddar!!  Why couldn’t you listen?  [blackout to mayhem…all we hear is Captain Smollet’s cry of “Heaven help us!”).

On that sour note…adieu,




I Have Seen Jim Hawkins, and He is I

January 25, 2012

Let me say right off the bat, there are many characteristics that Jim Hawkins and I do not share including but not limited to:

  • A love of the sea
  • A hard to fathom fondness for the inside of apple barrels
  • The ability to row a boat in a sustained direction as opposed to circling and circling
  • The desire to run in the direction of rather than away from gunfire
  • Pulse-pounding narrative skill
  • The ability to refer to someone as Barbecue without irony
  • Derring-do

But the one thing that Jim and I do have in common is best illustrated in this quotation:

“‘Left, left, says he; ‘keep to you left hand, mate Jim! Under the trees with you! There’s where I killed my first goat. They dont’ come down here now; they’re all mastheaded on them mountings for the fear of Benjamin Gunn. Ah! and there’s the cetemery’–cemetery he must have meant.”

Yes, that’s right. Whether it be in casual conversation or in the heat of pirate siege, neither Jim nor I can resist the urge to pedantically correct someone’s incorrect diction.

Finally, I get Jim Hawkins!

What is this “Skeleton Island” you refer to? Mayhaps I am not as far along in the narrative voyage as you are. I just waded through the snooze fest of Dr. Livesey’s part of the tale.

Also, I was intrigued by the fact that the food item that Ben Gunn missed most after three year’s marooned an island was cheese. It got me thinking about what I would miss most if I had to live off wild goat, berries, and oysters for three years.

Now, this might be painted by my reading of your last post, but right now I am leaning toward long johns.





On Emphasis and Sweet Buns

January 21, 2012

Justin…I’m glad you’re back!  I think I can help out with your confusion regarding our lead pirate’s nickname.  To answer your question I shall quote that most hilarious of flight attendant movies, View From The Top.  Imagine a slightly cross-eyed Mike Myers in the hilarious cameo role of flight attendant instructor, John Witney:

You’ve put the emPHAsis on the wrong sylABBLE.

It is not that there is some aspect of Pirate Silver that is long…rather his shipmates are celebrating his skill at crafting delicious cream-filled treat.  Not “Long” John Silver, but rather “Long John” Silver.  Mmm…I could go for a long john right now (with sprinkles, but no filling–gross and unnecessary).  So this nickname is an a very similar vein to his other nom de mer “Barbecue”. (Because he’s also a hand at toasting up some burgers and bratwurst–one assumes).

See how this blog helps us both gain a deeper understanding of the book!  That glossary you provided in your last post sure has been helpful!  Everything is some much clearer now!

But speaking of nicknames and confusion…I’m finding myself puzzling as I progress through this book…Are “Treasure Island” and “Skeleton Island” the same thing?  Or are there two islands?  I think that if they’re the same island “Skeleton Island” would have been a much cooler title for this book.

Well I look forward to hearing your thoughts again (perhaps at the beginning of March?)…

Until then,

“Long John” Jon


Confessions of a Neglectful Blogger

January 17, 2012
  • Hi.

I don’t know if you’ll remember me. My name’s Justin (you might remember me from the womb), and I occasionally (some might say VERY occasionally) contribute a little something or other to this blog. But it appears that over the last few weeks I haven’t exactly been pulling my weight when it comes to the updating.

Well, Twin Brother, no more. I will be the first to admit that I haven’t posted much lately, but that is about to change: I heretofore promise to try to post a bit more often. (Now that I haven’t posted for 6 weeks, I feel I have set the bar sufficiently low to be successful in living up to these terms–heck if I post once every three weeks it will seem like a James Patterson-esque level of  literary output.)

I would like to say something along the lines of “Genius takes time” or “You can’t rush art.”  to explain away my current glacial posting pace, but then I came across some of the notes I made about possible post…and well, you be the judge:

The Many Nicknames of John Silver
-“Long”–Am I the only one who thinks this nickname makes no sense? Long John Silver? More like Lame John Silver.

-“Barbecue”–Now here’s a nickname! If I were LJS I’d say, “Argh, why do you not call me by me true pirate name: Barbecue, matey.

P.S. Is it just me or does Long John Silver not talk like a pirate (Disappointing)

See now I am guessing you’re thanking me for not posting. You’re welcome.

Now, before I close this post out I did want to address your point about jargon. You’re right it can be confusing and since I have read both Treasure Island and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, the other book you found rather jargon-y, I thought it might be helpful if I put together a little glossary of useful terms, that might help smooth your way through further reading:

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy:

Tinker: (n.) a mender of pots, pans, and kitchen utensils

Tailor: (n.) a maker of clothes

Soldier: (n.) a member of an army, an individual performing military service

Spy: (n.) a covert operative who gather secret information

Treasure Island

Pirate: (n.): a “bad” sailor

Ship: (n.): a form of transportation used for transport in water

Island: (n.): a landmass completely surrounded by water

foc’s’le: (n.): a…uhh…a or an…uh..okay you got me, but I think its something like a popsicle.

Happy reading,





At Sea With Nautical Terminology

January 12, 2012

Well Twinner I’m slogging my way through the Dr. Trelawny parts (I just scanned ahead and it looks like I’m mere pages from the return of Jim–thank goodness).

Anyhow as I read through the Doctor’s narration I find myself more and more confused by his use of sea-faring jargon.  Here are some examples:

“The gunwhale was lipping astern”


“If we let the current have it’s way we should come ashore beside the gigs”

What the?!?  I encountered a similar confusion with professional jargon while recently reading Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (spy term this, spy gizmo that).  I enjoy the verisimilitude, but come on dudes throw me some context clues.  Those sentences might as well be written in Sanskrit for all the help they provide me in making mind pictures of this novel.

Luckily Jim speaks at a child’s level…which is just about where I’m at with all boat talk with the “jibs” and the “gigs” and “astern” whatsamawhosits that all the pirate kids are using these days.

Speaking of what pirate kids are saying these days…I was walking by the boatyards the other day and I overheard a young Captain Hector Barbossa  muttering to his friends, “Argh!  Me wonders what happened to Justin’s posts?  I think they should call that weblog “Reading Alone With A Lonely Guy That Like Cat Mysteries” Argh!  G’day!” (did I mention that he was an Australian pirate, because he was.  Also odd that this young pirate used such antiquated Internet terminology.).

I didn’t say that…just some random Australian pirate youth talking about how you haven’t posted in a while (since November).

Isn’t it good to know that we have a reader!

Just let me know if you want to guide this blog to shore…

Until Next Time (?)



Jon’s 2011 of Reading

January 2, 2012

Happy new year!

I’m going to take short break from Treasure Island to look back and reflect in general on my reading for 2011.  I mean if Jim can take a break from narrating (shiftless) then I can take a break from exegesis-ing.

So here are my favorite books from 2011:

a.) How to Live: A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer by Sarah Bakewell

Far and away my favorite book this year…my love on Montaigne mixed with a uniquely crafted biography narrative structure equals reading bliss.

b.) Radioactive: Marie and Pierre Curie by Laura Redniss

Speaking of creative biographies…reading this book is like reading a work of art.

c.) Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage by Hazel Rowley

More traditional, but about the Roosevelts…so there’s that.

d.) The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

A very hyped book that more than met the hype.  Science writing at it’s best.

e.) The Tragedy of Arthur by Arthur Phillips

Kind of a surprise for me because I haven’t loved his earlier books…but this one knocked my socks off.  And it takes place in the Twin Cities, which is always fun (to read a book that takes place where you live).  Plus a very decent Shakespeare pastiche at the end…very gutsy, and even more impressive it’s good.

f.)  The Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny

I love the Armand Gamache mysteries and this one was the strongest one I’ve read yet.

For the record (and records are being kept!) here is entire list of my 2011 reading:

  1. The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny
  2. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
  3. One Day by David Nicholls
  4. The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. LeGuin (blog book)
  5. The Sherlockian by Graham Moore
  6. Crossfire by Dick Francis and Felix Francis
  7. How to Live: A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer by Sarah Bakewell
  8. The Innocence of Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton
  9. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  10. Bloody Crimes: The Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Lincoln’s Corpse by James Swanson
  11. Just Kids by Patti Smith
  12. Parker: The Outfit by Darwyn Cooke
  13. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
  14. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  15. Bloodroot by Amy Greene
  16. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  17. Our Kind of Traitor by John Le Carre
  18. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
  19. The Body of Death by Elizabeth George
  20. The Summer We Read Gatsby by Danielle Ganek
  21. The Indian Bride by Karin Fossum
  22. Radioactive: Marie and Pierre Curie by Laura Redniss
  23. An Evil Eye by Jason Goodwin
  24. Two Little Girls in Blue by Mary Higgins Clark
  25. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
  26. The Panama Hat Trail by Tom Miller
  27. The Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye by Robert Kirkman
  28. J is For Judgment by Sue Grafton
  29. The Lodger by Karl Stevens
  30. Bossypants by Tina Fey
  31. The Walking Dead Vol. 2: Miles Behind Us by Robert Kirkman
  32. The Tragedy of Arthur by Arthur Phillips
  33. The Pun Also Rises: How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More Than Some Antics by John Pollack
  34. Some Hope: A Trilogy by Edward St. Aubyn
  35. The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
  36. The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas
  37. The Walking Dead Vol. 3: Safety Behind Bars by Robert Kirkman
  38. The Walking Dead, Vol. 4: The Heart’s Desire by Robert Kirkman
  39. In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson
  40. Villette by Charlotte Bronte (blog book)
  41. My Lucky Life in and Out of Show Business by Dick Van Dyke
  42. One Shot by Lee Child
  43. Both Ways Is The Only Way I Want It by Maile Meloy
  44. Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon
  45. Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson
  46. Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage by Hazel Rowley
  47. Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol
  48. Murder in Retrospect by Agatha Christie
  49. Going Bovine by Libba Bray
  50. Locke & Key, Volume 1: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill
  51. A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny
  52. The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee by Sarah Silverman (listened to audiobook)
  53. Are You There Vodka, It’s Me Chelsea by Chelsea Handler
  54. Thursday Next: First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde
  55. Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward (listened to audiobook)


Here’s to hoping that 2012 is a great year of reading!