Archive for February, 2012


Failure on One Front; Success on Another

February 29, 2012

First, the failure:

My self-imposed end of February deadline looks like it will come and pass with me still have several handfuls of pages left to read. (Does it count if I really wish I was finished?) If with that quadrennial surprise Leap Day, I don’t think I am going to be able to finish the book before the clock strikes 12.


But on the upside, I will finish the book this week.

Now to the success:

“With my arms before me [Jim] walked steadily in. I should lie down in my own place (I thought with a silent chuckle) and enjoy their faces when they found me in the morning. My foot struck soemthing yielding–it was a sleeper’s leg, and he turned and groaned, but without waking.

And then , all of a sudden, a shrill voice broke forth out of the darkness:

“Pieces of eight! pieces of eight! pieces of eight! pieces of eight! pieces of eight! and so forth, without pause or changel like the clacking of a tiny mill.

Silver’s parrot, Captain Flint!”

While seriously short on Gilbert Godfried-esque comedic riffs, I knew that parrot would play a pivotal part in the story. To paraphrase Chekhov: You don’t introduce a parrot in Act I unless it mercilessly squawks and wakes the entire band of pirates in Act III. (That noise you hear is all of the world’s Chekhov scholars simultaneously cringing. Apologies.)

On that note of vindication, I will say bye-bye for now.



Unrealistic Parrot Expectations

February 18, 2012

Here’s your parrot:

All at once, there began the most horrid, unearthly screaming, which at first startled me badly, thought I had soon remembered the voice of Captain Flint, and even thought I could make out the bird by her bright plumage as she sat perched upon her master’s wrist.

I think now would be a good time to stop and recalibrate our expectations for what part the parrot will probably play in the proceedings.  You were, perhaps, wishing for a more Iago-ish parrot?  Whispering sarcastic asides into the ears of Jafar in the dulcet tones of Gilbert Gottfried?  Sorry friend I think this bird is only going to be pirate dressing.  I think it may be time to put that particular dream aside.

Now that we’ve got you recentered, I’m curious.  How’s the progress going?  Less than two weeks left until your self-imposed deadline…where exactly are you in the story?


Where Be Me Parrot?

February 17, 2012

Where. Is. The. Parrot?

I. Was. Told. There. Would. Be. A. Parrot.

Was I misinformed?

Did I miss the parrot?



Pirate Math

February 14, 2012

Justin I think that Havarti was from Boo Radley!  And think that Asiago came from my fannypack…if I’ve told you once I’ve told you a million times “Hands outta my pouch!”

I like your goal…goals are important.  February 29 it is…this book, done.  I’ll actually one better you and I’ll have the book finished by February 28th (because I don’t want to have this book hanging over my head as I begin my 32nd year).

I’m well on my way, but I’ve hit a snag as I find myself perplexed by the new pirate math.  Here’s what Stevenson gives us:

“Have they run?” asked Mr. Smollett.

“All that could, you may be bound,” returned the doctor; “but there’s five of them will never run again.”

“Five!” cried the captain.  “Come, that’s better. Five against three leaves us four to nine. That’s better odds than we had at starting.  We were seven to nineteen then, or thought we were, and that’s as bad to bear.” [my emphasis]

Is Stevenson just writing numbers here?  What does this mean?  Are they still on the island?  Have they found the treasure yet?

Less unclear is the fact that you do not mess with Dr. Livesey.  It was not that long ago that the Captain was shaming the entire crew for their lax window watching.  And then he finds himself under Dr. Livesey’s “care” and is treated for said a gunshot wound to the shoulder with these care instructions:

He was sure to recover the doctor said, but, in the meantime and for weeks to come, he must not walk nor move his arm, nor so much as speak when he could help it. [Once again by emphasis.]

I guess the shamings are over for the foreseeable future.  I believe that would be Livesey 1, Hippocratic Oath 0.

I left Jim getting ready to hatch what seemed to the be the most ill-conceived of plots to defeat the mutineers, but I have a feeling it will “unexpectedly” work.

The 28th is getting closer and closer!



Coincidental Convenient Cheese

February 9, 2012

I wouldn’t be so quick to poo-poo the sudden unexpected delight of a timely appearance of wheel, wedge, or yes even snuffbox full of cheese. In my own experience, I’ve found cheese to be one of the most serendipitous of dairy products. Not as fickle as ice cream or as inopportune as buttermilk.

Why many’s the time I’ve thought to myself “Boy, I could really go for a snack.” Only to stumble upon a chunk of harvarti secreted in the hollow of a tree or a block of asiago fortuitously packed in the pouch of a friend’s fannypack.

Wait a second is that weird?

I had a bit of an epiphany this afternoon. I realized that we have now been reading this book for months. (Months!) A book commonly assigned to elementary school children to be read in a matter of weeks has taken you and I the better part of the Fall and Winter.

Now, I would like to claim that this is due to my intense deep reading of the text. Saying, “It takes to deconstruct every shivering timber and unpack every ‘Yo-ho-ho.'” “Close Reading” might be over-stating the level of attention I’ve given to this book. (Part of it takes place on a ship, right?)

In any case, while I know New Year’s resolutions are all the rage, I am going make a February 8th Resolution (No really, I think it will catch on): I will finish this book before the end of the month. (Thank goodness for Leap Day.)!

I’m not doing this for Jim Hawkins, Dr. Livesey, Squire Trelawney, Long John Silver or the parrot. I am doing this for me. (Okay, me and the parrot…there is a parrot in this book isn’t there? If not, I am going to be very disappointed.) In any case, I feel destined to succeed.



Oh yeah, interesting fact I learned today Treasure Island‘s very own Robert Louis Stevenson was first cousins with British novelist Graham Greene’s mother (Iyer 2012). Small world.

Iyer, Pico. The Man Within My Head. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 2012.