Archive for the ‘The Wind in the Willows’ Category

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Done and Done!

August 5, 2008

In case my post title was a little too subtle, let me come right out and say it:

I finished the book.

Only one day behind you, Twin Brother. Not too shabby.

I’ll admit I enjoyed the second half a bit more than the first half, and I did not dislike the book quite to the level you did. I found Toad as washerwoman to be a hoot. There was something about every person who saw Toad just assuming he was a washerwoman that I found very funny.

I did have a few qualms with the end of the book:
1. Toad broke out of prison, right? Did the authorities just stop looking for him? (I don’t think that’s the way it works.)
2. The culture of revenge endorsed by both Toad and Badger. (Yes, Badger!)
3. The conflation of oral epics in the final chapter. There were echoes not only of The Odyssey, but the attack on Toad Hall, was somewhat reminiscent of Grendel’s attack on the Mead Hall in Beowulf. Now, I like a nice allusion as much as the next guy, but I was feeling a little inundated there.
4. Did Badger threaten to shoot Toad?–There’s a bit of a shift in tone for the story.

Anyway, give me a few days to come to terms with the end of The Wind in the Willows, and then I’ll be set to get into step with Middlemarch. (Ahh…the fun of the pun.)

Later gator,
Justin

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Unacceptable

August 4, 2008

First to start with the positive…thank you for your taxonomy of the societal relations as they occur around the Wild Wood of Kenneth Grahame. It was thought-provoking and a little frightening (someone’s been thinking a little too much about this book.)

But really it doesn’t answer my question of how physically big these animals are. I mean if toad is truly toad-sized then why do they think he’s a washerwoman…A toad is smaller than the size of my hand and I believe even the smallest of washerwoman would probably come up to at least my knee. (And don’t even think about bringing up the phrase “willing suspension of disbelief”–I don’t think even Coleridge could have held off from these plot discrepancies).

And now to a little chastisement…an excuse of “I want to read fun books” is not an acceptable excuse for delaying the end of The Wind and the Willows. I wanted to read fun books too, but I sucked it up and read, what I like to call, “The Book that Fun Forgot” and finished. And need I remind you that you picked this book? So put fun by the wayside, and finish this book!

And no amount of truly hilarious Toad and Badger puns will change my mind.

Your Stalwart Twin,

Jon

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It Is What Is, Is Exactly What It Is

August 4, 2008

That is my convoluted, slightly repetitive way of saying I’ve stopped trying to make sense of this story. I tried futilely to make sense of the human/animal class system and here are three options that I have come up with (I decided it depends a bit on perspective):

If you’re an anthropomorphized animal (think Mole, Toad, Rat, Etc):
1. Animals with clothes (Toad’s “many pocketed animal”) and personalities.
2. Humans (personalities optional).
3.  Animals (as Toad puts it) with “one pocketed or no-pocketed productions that hop or trip about permissively.”

If you are person:
1. Humans (personalities still optional).
2. Animals with clothes, pockets, and personalities.
3. Other Animals.

If you are an animal with “one or no pockets”
1. Animals with one or no pockets.
2. All those other fools.

Now, I am sure this is saying something about the British class system (or all class systems, in general) of the early 20th century, but I am not sure what. Partially because I don’t know who I am supposed to identify with. Am I clever, nature-loving Beaver, a dolt of a Human, or a much maligned Opossum–in the class scheme of the book? 

Right now, I am feeling the most inclined to the single-to-no pocketed animal grouping since I can’t really say that I can really identify with any characters that have made their way through these pages so far. How about you?

Maybe this will give you something to gnaw on while I finish things up. 

Congratulations on finishing, Twin Brother, that makes two in a row. That gives you a 2-1 lead in our little “non-competition.” And, thank goodness we aren’t competing, or I might be thinking unkind thoughts toward you for once again trouncing me in our reading marathon.

But luckily, this isn’t a competition. (You incredibly fast reading jerk…uhh, I mean fast reading, Jon.)

Well, I should be finished up in the next day or two. Anyway, I’ll try. (I just picked up My Name is Will by Jess Winfield, and if the first two chapters are any indication of the rest of the book if it comes down to choosing a book by its entertainment value, My Name is Will will win by a landslide.)

Never fear though, I am “Toad”-ally committed to finishing this book, no need for further “Badger”-ing. (The sad part is, I laughed when I wrote this.)

Justin

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Finished with Rat and Mole

August 3, 2008

And I mean really finished.  Forever.  I never want to see this book again.  If I am walking down the aisle of Barnes and Noble and see this book I’ll push all of the copies off the shelf and walk away without missing a step.  If I see this book sitting displayed on a table in some Borders I’ll up-end the table, roar to the heavens, and shout at the top of my lungs “Behold the strength of Goliath…no book can take me down!”

Reasons I thoroughly disliked this book (warning some plot points may be divulged)

  1. The world made no sense.  People can talk to animals…is everyone speaking English?  People really think that Toad is a washerwoman…is he toad sized or human sized (that’s a big toad).  I thought toad sized and the boatwoman certainly has no problem flinging him from the boat (but in my head she was quite large (and muscly) so maybe that explains it).  And why doesn’t Toad like water?  He’s a toad.  And why does he have hair…now I may have been lost in daydreams of what it would be like to be the first boy to go to Langley and live with Mrs. Garrett in 2nd grade science, but I think amphibians are noted for their lack of hair.  What gives?
  2. I’m not at all fond of the way they treat Mole…they quite take advantage of his good nature.  “Oh Mole, before you eat can you clean the house?”  “Oh Mole re-write these invitations for Toad”.  I think I’ll Wide Sargasso Sea this story and tell The Wind in the Willows from Mole’s perspective.  My working title is Please Let Me Rest.
  3. It was boring.  Really, really boring.

I did like that it had some slightly subversive narrative elements–Fighting the establishment, cross-dressing, the homoerotic tension between Rat and Mole.  And I’ve taken a page from Toad’s book and started to compose songs about me.  Look forward to such future standards as “Smart Jon” and “Jon Rocks” on my upcoming album How Wonderful Am I? (Pretty Wonderful).

And now on to Middlemarch…I think one reason I’m really excited to read this book is because I have no idea what it’s about (a band?  A group of soldiers?  Julius Caesar?  Springtime?).  I’m rooting for it to be about a band…and about a band that stays at home (I saw The Band’s Visit so I’m hoping not to retread on already covered territory).

Well there’s only one way to find out and that’s cracking open that book…so until you finish I remain

Your Twin,

Jon

P.S.  Two in a row I’ve finished before you (not that its a contest).  I just thought I’d point it out.

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Judging You With the Rabbit and Toad and Mole

August 2, 2008

First off that rabbit was judging you–the birds have spread the word my friend and you’re prime pickings for the animal kingdom, I heard it from the squirrels.

Wait we don’t live in a Disney movie (or a disappointing child’s “classic”…ahem) so what that rabbit was probably thinking was “…”

I don’t remember making you play Live From the Met…I do remember rousing games of Opera Tag (let me jog your memory, you sat quietly and respectfully while I performed Rigoletto, “La donna č mobile /qual piuma al vento–and you’re welcome).

I hit another snag…Rat saw God and I got bored so I put the book down and haven’t picked it back up yet.  But I have been watching a lot of Lost. And I’m really confused about why Jack is playing football with the Others.  But I’ve made a rule no more Lost until The Wind in the Willows is finished (and good riddance).

I had better go…I’ve got a lot of Lost not to watch.

Jon

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There Are People in this Story

July 31, 2008

I have to admit I was a little surprised when you decided to drop a little opera knowledge on me in that last post. At first I was shocked by your in-depth knowledge of the great sopranos of the world, and say what you will about Wikipedia, don’t think that I’ve forgotten all those childhood afternoons when I wanted to play a rousing game of tag or freeze tag, or windmill tag, and you instead forced me to play Live from the Met! for endless hours. (Although in the interest of full disclosure  memories of your 8-year old Rigoletto still brings a tear to my eye. You always had a knack for Verdi.)

In my reading yesterday I was shocked to learn that the animals that inhabit the riverbank world of The Wind in the Willows live side-by-side with humans. Quite frankly, I found the idea quite disconcerting, especially when Rat and Mole stop during their walk in the forest to look into the windows of people’s homes and mock them.

I guess I was still thinking about that this morning as I walked from my apartment to my car. I crossed paths with a small rabbit with a condescending, holier-than-thou look on its face. As I passed the rabbit, I swear I could have heard it snicker at me. So, I of course, do what any logical person would, after passing the rabbit I quickly turn around and say “Who are you to judge me!” 

I know that probably sounds a bit “paranoid” but that rabbit ran away. And do you know why it ran away? 

Because it knew I was right.*

*Portions (and by “Portions” I mean all) of the preceding may have been fabricated to illustrate a point. That point being, I think I’m funny.

Okay, seriously though, I did read what might be the funniest line in the book so far:

“‘On the contrary, I faithfully promise that the very first motor-car I see, poop-poop! off I go in it!”

This makes me laugh even still.

Well, I am making progress Twinner, and I think I should be able to finish this book up in the next few days. 

Until later,
Justin

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Intervening with Mole and Rat

July 29, 2008

I take it from your last post that

a.)  You haven’t read anymore of the book

and

b.)  You don’t like great theatre.

Well there’s nothing I can do about the latter, but perhaps I can shame you out of the former.

For you see I have been reading, and K8 has a point when she mentions the addict-like qualities of Toad…for chapter six reads very much like a woodland version of A&E’s Intervention (Or if you’re like me and have never seen this program–then it may remind you of that very special intervention episode of The Sopranos.  You know the one:  Beverly Sills and Renee Fleming deliver some hard truths to Lucia Popp about her performance as Pamina in The Magic Flute.  Spoiler:  Hard Truth:  You were fantastic!  Bravissima!).

That last “joke” was brought to you by research done on Wikipedia…because I know very little about opera.

Anywhosit…Toad’s manipulations of poor Rat kind of reminiscent to me of the way Emma/Charles relationship in Madame Bovary…so an unexpected connection!  I just hope it doesn’t all end with blue vomit.

And his need for car driving was reminiscent to Ray Milland’s need of “just one more drink” in The Lost Weekend.

Well twin keep on truckin’–the end is in sight!  And then Middlemarch!

Jon