Tag Archives: William Shakespeare

Plum wonderful

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Plum Wodehouse at his typewriter

All right, folks, it is time we had a serious chat about the stunning and wonderful brilliance that is P. G. Wodehouse.  If you have never read his books (why not?!), you have deprived yourself of some of the most magnificent work in the English language.  Not only that, but he also had both a truely astonishing output and staying power.  Wodehouse wrote and was published continuously from 1903 to his death in 1975.  What other author can say such a thing?  In addition, Wodehouse was an absolute favorite of another brilliant (and deeply-missed) writer, Douglas Adams.  Adams once called him “a genius of the English language” and then proceeded to compare his writing to a Bach fugue [introduction to Sunset at Blandings].  Well, I mean, what higher praise is there?

“Yes, yes,” I can hear you cry, “But how can this be true? If this P. G. fellow is so brilliant, then why is he not taught in schools along with Shakespeare and Milton?” 

Ah– I have an answer for you, but you’re not going to like it.  Unlike Shakespeare and Milton, P. G. has never written a boring word in his life– thus he has been disqualified from the canon.  In all seriousness, Wodehouse wrote comedy, which is tragically undervalued in so-called “educational” literature.  {please note– I am a teacher and an English major.  I have read my share of truly mind-numbing “literature.”}  Plum, as he was called by his friends, was not interested one wit in changing society, or giving a grand message, or exposing the dark-underbelly of our tragic lives, or mourning the stark futility of our existential existences. 

He, instead, simply wrote the most fun, intelligent, and clever prose to make people laugh.  Yes– all of this just for the sheer joy of it.

I dare you to finish an entire Wodehouse novel and feel not happy with the world.

Now, being the perpetually stubborn optimist that I am (my college classmates may remember that I prefer the term “anti-utopia” to “dystopia” because I adamantly maintain that utopias are possible and that most people are inherently good-hearted), I find nearly all Literature (note the capital letter there), especially those that win the prizes, appallingly dark, grim, and horrible.  There is enough of that hideousness in real life!  I, like Plum, have no interest in glum navel-gazing when I’m reading.  Give me young Bertie Wooster and his bumbling escapades any day! 

this is the hardback version

And so, to that end, I submit for your reading entertainment, what I consider one of P. G. Wodehouse’s masterpieces of prose and plot: The Code of the Woosters (1938). 

You need this book.  Everyone who can read English needs this book.  Don’t worry; it’s definitely still in print.  Your copy is awaiting you at the bookstore as we speak.

“But, why oh why do I need to own this?  I already have bookshelves teetering to dangerous levels with my to-be-read pile.  My cats are huddling for cover under the bed.  What makes this book, which you have already clearly said does not have a deep and dark message, worth space in my house?”

Thank you for asking this, dear readers.  You need this book because every sentence in it is perfect.  To take just the teeniest of samples from pages 1 & 2 {it helps if you read it aloud.  All of Wodehouse is better when read aloud.}:

“He [Jeeves] shimmered out, and I sat up in bed with that rather unpleasant feeling you get sometimes that you’re going to die in about five minutes.  On the previous night, I had given a little dinner at the Drones to Gussie Fink-Nottle as a friendly send-off before his approaching nuptials with Madeline, only daughter of Sir Watkin Bassett, CBE, and these things take their toll.  Indeed, just before Jeeves came in, I had been dreaming that some bounder was driving spikes through my head– not just ordinary spikes, as used by Jael the wife of Heber, but red-hot ones.

He returned with the tissue-restorer.  I loosed it down the hatch, and after undergoing the passing discomfort, unavoidable when you drink Jeeves’s patent morning revivers, of having the top of the skull fly up to the ceiling and the eyes shoot out of their sockets and rebound from the opposite wall like racquet balls, felt better.  It would have been overstating it to say that even now Bertram was back again in mid-season form, but I had at least slid into the convalescent class and was equal to a spot of conversation.”

Enjoyed that, did you?  Good.  Now, close your eyes and imagine that there was an entire book written in exactly this way. Next, imagine that its plot revolved around a silver cow creamer, a bit of friendly blackmail,a good many engagements (intentional and otherwise), and the most perfect butler in all of literature, all with plot so hopelessly muddled by the end that only a cove of Jeeves’s marvelous intellect is able to unravel it and to conduct us all to the happy ending.  You would need to own such a book, would you not?   You may now open your eyes.  Thus,  The Code of the Woosters needs to come and live at your house.   

I should probably warn you at this point that once you have read one of Wodehouse’s novels, you will fall deeply in love with his prose.  Not to worry, though.  Unlike those irritating modern authors who only write one or two books and then bow out of the field, our Plum published over ninety books and musical plays.  All are frothing over with his wonderful words. 

There is no other way to end this but with Plum’s words from the end of this novel:

“Jeeves was right, I felt.  The snail was on the wing and the lark was on the thorn– or, rather, the other way round– and God was in His heaven and all was right with the world” (285-86).

With a Wodehouse book in your hand, all IS right with the world. 

 

p.s.  the only way to magnify the perfection of Wodehouse would be to combine him with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie.  Such a thing was done between 1990 and 1993:  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098833/

robots gone wild!

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V5, that is not the Doctor

"V4, that is not the Doctor"

We have finally reached the fourth and final part of the classic Tom Baker story Robots of DeathCheers and hurrahs resound.  For those of you lovely readers who have some catching up to do, click here for part 3 of these commentaries.

 

When we left our heroes, the ever-witty Doctor was being strangled by a homicidal robot, as a horrified Commander (sans extravagant hat)  stood by, being as useless as we have come to expect from him.

 

  1. Finally!  The Commander has made a command decision.
  2. I’d be a bit cranky if someone had just stuck a giant syringe in my skull, too.
  3. Good grief!  Toose is just useless.  And Mr. Boucher—rubbish dialogue.
  4. Is the Doc carrying ol’ Commander over the threshold?
  5. Ok, silly way to dispose of two murderous robots, but cute.
  6. I love SV7’s straight tone when he says, “Do not, V4, that is not the Doctor.”
  7. Um.. is she dead?  Because she is breathing quite visibly.
  8. Right, so the Commander could barely walk before, but now he can scuttle?  And way to reduce him to just a hanger-on peppering the Doctor (who is clearly now completely in command) with stupid questions.
  9. Ah—my favorite line from the entire story (which I used as the title of my episode 3 post b/c I couldn’t resist): “Please do not throw hands at me.”—I sooo want to use this in my classroom when everyone’s hands go up at once.
  10. Oh, good, useless girl will recover.  Oh joy.  Oh rapture.
  11. Yes, thank you Captain of Obvious Exposition.
  12. Her pj’s are still pretty snazzy.
  13. The image of the robot with the giant needle in his head is pretty disturbing, particularly given his body language.
  14. Oh—the two of these ladies crouching in corners together is some slash fiction writer’s dream come true.
  15. I notice and appreciate the continuity here—the robot who lost his hand in the door is still missing it.
  16. Clever, clever Leela—having intuition and all.  Good point that SV7 should have recognized her voice.
  17. Must have sucked to be one of the actors who had to play these *frozen* bots.
  18. Now that he’s out of immediate danger and back on his command deck, the Commander has reverted to his vacation home in Denial.  I’m enjoying that the Doc compares him to Marie Antoinette.
  19. Awfully convenient that they had a medical bed set up in the middle of the command deck.
  20. “I don’t understand!” whines Commander—let’s add that to your lengthy list, shall we.
  21. Ah—it was Pool who was controlling D84—clever.
  22. Another point in continuity’s favor are the makeup jobs on the Commander and Toose’s wounds—her neck is still red from being strangled.
  23. Now we get to the bottom of the not-cared about sub-plot.
  24. “And if we do come out, we will be destroyed anyway”—now that’s the first intelligent sentence you’ve uttered all day!
  25. Ummm… is anyone else creeped out by SV7’s resemblance to computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey?
  26. Ah—another bit of dramatic eye acting on Tom’s part
  27. Are they Zed Zed 9 Plural Zed Alpha bombs?
  28. Ha!  “Well, that’s your problem.  I can’t be every where at once.”
  29. Again with the door sound.
  30. Ah—something at which the Commander and Toose can be competent—what a nice change.
  31. Cue hordes of silly tinfoil robot boots.
  32. Once again, this episode’s heroes must have engaged their Somebody Else’s Problem Field as they hide in plain sight.  (yes, I know that was 2 Hitchhiker’s references in the space of 2 scenes, but they were just waiting to be made!)
  33. Commander—must you fall into EVERY sci-fi cliché?  When the Doctor says not to open the door—then don’t open the door.
  34. Ah, while other people were carrying the story, Dask has popped off and had a make-over.  I do think Trinny and Susanna have gotten this one a bit wrong, though.  I think he’s wearing the costume equivalent of a foil-wrap that we used at scout camp to bake chicken and rice over a campfire.
  35. I like the nice long draw back to wide-shot to reveal what we already suspected.
  36. Ummm… Dask, just a point here, but if they could hear you begging for entrance, can’t they also here you giving commands to your robot horde? 
  37. Aww, poor busted robot.
  38. Look, even in whatever century this is, they still use duct tape!
  39. Thanks for the needless definition of “robo-phobia.”  It’s moments like these that remind me that the BBC is under the mistaken impression (though, God only knows why) that Doctor Who is a kid’s show.
  40. “Right now he must be a happy little maniac.”  Ha!
  41. Once again, I am reminded that D84 is an early version of a K-9 character.
  42. Tom just said the key theme of Doctor Who: “I think you’re very important.”
  43. Robot against screen quite creepy.
  44. Every time he says, “My brothers,” I get a flashback to Mr. Mash from “Are You Being Served.”  I want to say, “Mr. Dask, get off the floor!  You know that you and the robots can’t be on the floor after 8 o’clock.”
  45. Meanwhile, back on the uselessly chaotic command deck.
  46. “We may not be so lucky a second time.”—it was awfully considerate of V5 to stand compressed against the door and blow up so nicely.
  47. Dude, you do realize that sooner or later they will realize that you’re human, too.
  48. Ah… a clever, clever trick, using a child’s party game against a maniac.
  49. How awful!  Poor D87!  He is a hero until the end!
  50. Um, when that robot sucker punches the Doctor and then shoves him against a wall, is he going to kill him or kiss him?  I think it could go either way from his body language.
  51. Ah, Dask, as with all meglo-maniacs, your need to torture your enemy will be your undoing.  Have you never watched this show?
  52. Even the music can’t take these two robot-hunting clowns seriously.  They’ve suddenly become Litefoot and Jago, minus the clever dialogue.
  53. Hello, Dask.  Just to let you know, I’ve been tortured by much crazier men than you, and Eddie Izzard wanted me to tell you that silver eye shadow is a death color.
  54. How does no one hear the incredibly loud helium canister?
  55. “Ah, I see.  You’re one of those boring maniacs who’s going to gloat.  Are you going to tell me your plan for running the universe?”  HA!  He is, too.
  56. Well, that at least makes a change.
  57. Finally, the Doctor has told him that he looks ridiculous in that outfit.
  58. I like how the voice change comes upon him so gradually that he doesn’t notice it—though in point of fact, that must be some mightily concentrated helium in order to displace an entire roomful of air.
  59. Ouch—poor Tom does look like his brain is being burned out.
  60. No, not losing his nerve, just overcome with the need to gloat.
  61. Oh—Go D84!!!!!  One final act of bravery!
  62. Those pyrotechnics are quite impressive and a bit gruesome, as we have come to recognize these robots as humanoid creatures.
  63. Ah—nick of time programming still apparently working quite well in this robot.
  64. Dude—there can be only one Master—and you don’t even make the short list.
  65. Gosh, Toose!  You’re racking up a strangle-count to rival young Kirk in the recent movie.  Just be grateful that you haven’t had to hang off any ledges lately.
  66. a useful tool- that giant needle.  I still feel sorry for it’s victims, though.
  67. “What squeak mouse?” 
  68. That control room looks like the throne room at the end of Hamlet.  Where’s Fortinbras when you need him?
  69. Oh—apparently he’s on the rescue ship.  Isn’t it a bit callous to leave the last two crew members trapped on a ship stuffed to the gills with dead people and robots? 
  70. Listen, just because Leela asked the question we were all wondering is no reason to get snippy there, Tom-boy.
  71. Oh, dear—I have discovered that I’ve been spelling Toos’s name wrong this whole time… well, I maintain that my spelling is better.  Otherwise, she’s “twos,” right?
  72. For that matter, they claim that my Pool is actually Poul.  Huh.  Well, this just goes to prove that I’m doing these as I’m watching.  We’ll claim spontaneity and move on, shall we.
  73. Speaking of random credits—they have periods in the names of the robots (I can see some copy-editor now: “Well, since they are, in fact, abbreviations, they should contain periods.”  “But there weren’t any on the costumes.”  “Not my fault.  I’m right, and I’m putting them in the credits properly.  So there.” Yes, indeed, methinks I smell a fellow English Major at work.)

 

And we are done!  Whoo—that was a long one. 

 

What did you think, folks?  Shall we have more of these?

Robots of Death pt 2 commentary

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At last, the long-awaited commentary for Robots of Death part 2, the classic Tom Baker story.   (If you want to read my comments on the first part, click here.)  Just a note here—I generally cannot be bothered to remember the character’s names, so mostly they will be identified by their distinctive hats

No, Curious George, this is not the Man in the Yellow Hat.

No, Curious George, this is not the Man in the Yellow Hat.

We will pick up with the Doctor trapped in the collector and being buried in sand…

  1. Reprise—where did the Doc get his little Boy Scout flashlight from?
  2. This sand must be coming in at a spectacular rate, in that the Doc doesn’t try to escape, just stands there staring at it.
  3. Ah, back to the BBC storeroom, in which Leela is hiding unconvincingly behind open shelving.
  4. Um, what is the Doc breathing through?  Where did he get his bit of pipe?  We never see it again.
  5. Commander really is useless at commanding.  Is he an example of the Peter principle?
  6. Is anyone going to bother to tell gold-dressed woman that [how to be delicate here…] that her shirt’s fabric is clinging embarrassingly.  Do they not wear bras in this culture?  I wonder if the poor actress noticed only after the show was on tv? 
  7. Tom does look very happy to be out from under what look like coffee beans.
  8. Do all of the machines and buttons on this spaceship make exactly the same noise, ‘cuz that could really be a nuisance.
  9. “What were you doing in the hopper?”  “Oh, don’t ask me such silly questions!”  ha!
  10. Wait, wait, wait—Doc got rescued when continuing flow of ore was turned off, but was chamber completely drained?  Otherwise, how could robot, with only one quick glance, see & id body (especially when Doc himself had to enter the chamber & get up close to see that it wasn’t Leela?)
  11. The vibrant greens and silvers of the masks are inspired.
  12. Classic horror film bit here w/ body behind curtain—bringing up point that murderer is increasingly trying to hid bodies, whereas killed the first one in plain sight & left him in the storeroom.
  13. Oh, D84, your dark silver face is so meanacing.
  14. “If I had killed him, would I not have killed you, too.”  Well, who can argue with that logic?
  15. Go Strycnine, with your same exact model shot as before, only in close-up.  Way to be boring!
  16. This conversation between Leela and the robot is a bit odd—she seems oddly relaxed for someone who thought she was going to die just 30 seconds ago.  D84 is being all Sherlock Holmes, too.
  17. “Is there anyone alive to tell?”  Ah, so you’ve seen the end of Hamlet too, huh.
  18. Ha!  Serves him right for slapping a girl! Take that, Commander!  He does look mighty shocked, but maybe it’s just the eyebrows.
  19. “You try that again and I’ll cripple you!”  I believe her and serves him right.  This here is why I like Leela so much.
  20. Leaf-hat boy seems to take particular pleasure in labeling the robot “D for Dumb.”
  21. Did you notice the little squeeze that the robot gives Leela as she asks if anyone has told him that he can’t speak?  Nice touch (literally).
  22. Wow!  Leela really has a ton of strong, insult/ one-liners in this scene.  She’s quite the spunky one, and pulls no punches when she recognizes stupidity.
  23. Um… Commander, are you aware that your argument makes no logical sense? Ok, just checking.
  24. Pool, there’s no point talking sense to a man wearing a leaf-hat.
  25. “Bring THAT.”  Dude, are you trying to earn yourself another knee to the groin?
  26. Methinks Pool has an idea about who did.
  27. I think that the Doctor uses the jelly babies as a system to distinguish good guys from bad guys—have you noticed that bad guys always overreact to them, whereas good guys eat them, usually cautiously…
  28. Poor Tom’s feelings are hurt b/c they refused his jelly babies.
  29. Tom assumes he is in charge because he has the tallest hat.
  30. I like the lilting, danger-under-the-surface tones of voice between the Doctor and the Commander here.
  31. Ah, boys and girls, a little lesson on the differences between facts and inferences.
  32. I like how they all turn on each other (rather like Midnight, that).  It’s quite realistic for the circumstances.
  33. Ah, Tom’s little mischievous grin as he suggests an alternative murderer.
  34. Dark-haired boy doesn’t even deign to turn around to snipe at the Doctor.
  35. Oh Oh!  I want to use that one: “You know, you are a classic example of the inverse ratio between the size of the mouth and the size of the brain.”
  36. Ok, so everyone is upset as the two stow-aways are being hauled off, and fish-girl has chosen this moment to begin a chess game with herself???
  37. Oh, good.  You can use all of that extra money to buy some mouthwash because, dude, really!
  38. What was that last look on the Commander’s face all about? 
  39. Um, the rest of the design is fab, but those boots—is that really the best you could do?
  40. Shhhhhh!  Don’t be exclaiming your murderous mission to all and sundry!
  41. Clearly they ran out of money making all of the cool sets and costumes, leaving zero cash left for the metallic restraints (though the script does have a go at explaining away their cheap looks).
  42. “I have an uncomfortable feeling…” could be that bubble wrap around your neck.
  43. Leela looks suitably skeptical about the Doc’s ability to save them.
  44. Yet another close-up of Strychnine with unwarranted dramatic sting and dodgy CSO.
  45. It is nice to see people actually working on this ship for a change.
  46. Commander is terribly whiny—maybe his hat is heavy.
  47. Excessively long shot of Strychnine’s wheels?  Why ?
  48. Poor Leela just looks miserable and bored.
  49. I like that Leela is perceptive and can judge people by their body movements, then warn the Doctor.
  50. Pool has two things going for him here: 1—he has no hat; 2—he reminds me of one of those sarcastic and smartly-sardonic Shakespearean characters.
  51. And now, for those of you who were not paying attention in episode one, we will review Asimov’s robot laws.
  52. It always comes back to the bees, doesn’t it.
  53. You have befuddled Pool, Doctor.
  54. Are we going to leave poor Leela locked up?  “Thank you.”
  55. And where are we sneaking off to in such a hurry, fish-girl.
  56. Meanwhile, in the BBC closet… was the guy’s name really Chav?
  57. Another point to the strange scream.
  58. Tom’s Doctor does make a good investigator.
  59. I’d call for a robot—with goofy shoes, apparently.
  60. Methinks that the robots would be sneakier murderers if they had pockets in which to keep their corpse markers hidden.
  61. Cue sub-plot point and very fake crying from Zilda.
  62. Yes, thank you Captain Obvious.
  63. Oh, gold-girl, you really do need a bra.  Why did no one tell the poor woman?
  64. Perhaps the humans turn to this robots after the Ood freed themselves.
  65. I like the little bit of jargon that she slips into her radio message to Pool.
  66. “Oh, I should think it’s the end of this civilization”—rather casual there, eh Tom.  It’s the end of the world as we know it, it’s the end.
  67. That’s quite the snazzy watch the Commander has there.
  68. Ahh, he had a crush on fish-girl the whole time.  He apparently never grew out of the stage where pulling on a girl’s pigtails (fish tails?) and teasing her showed his lurve.
  69. Go, Pool!  You tell that Commander what’s what.
  70. I like the contrasts between Pool’s light and the Commander’s dark.
  71. He goes down rather easily—has Pool been practicing his Venusian jujitsu?
  72. “By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.”  Such a creepy bit of poetry—and used by the great Agatha as well.
  73. Oh dear, a greenly lit Strychnine fell off of a cliff—good Star Trek acting, all.
  74. Leela has to be very careful about how she stands up in that dress.
  75. “Oh thanks, I’d never have thought of that.”  Everyone gets good sarcastic lines.
  76. Oh dear, have they broken poor Strychnine?
  77. “It’s a gift!”  and a curse.
  78. Well, that settles that, then.
  79. Apparently Strychnine is a girl ship?  “She’s going!”

 

And… we’re out!

Well, that was quite a long one, especially as I began it last Thursday and finished it a midnight on Tuesday night, with a long weekend of family time in between.

Hopefully, part 3 tomorrow evening. 

Until then… [doo doo doo da dooo…]

For Part 3, click here.

a lotus snack

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Hi, folks– Since Voreblog will begin twreading section 5 of Ulysses today over at Wandering Rocks, I figured I’d post my book graffitti for the first part of this section.  If you want to see my remarks on section four, click here.

So, let the lotus eating begin.

“Too hot to quarrel”– It’s too darn hot! (Cole Porter’s Kiss Me Kate)

“Flowers of idleness”– seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness (John Keats’s To Autumn)

“Or is it the volume is equal of the weight?”– Yup, that’s me and math, alright.

“Too showy.  That must be why women go after them.  Uniforms”– yes, indeed.

“Hate company when you” — are trying to be sneaky.

“How’s the body?”– So it goes (Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5)

“Women all for caste till you touch the spot”– hmmm. liking Leo a bit less here.

“Dark lady and fair man”– Othello in reverse?

“Poor papa!” — Papa, can you hear me? (Legrand and the Bergman’s Yentl)

That’s enough for today.  Part 2 up soon. 

Leave a comment with some of your book graffitti from this section.

are you a literary geek? umm, yes.

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A Literary Geek Meme

Thanks kindly to House of Duck, who let me borrow it.

1) What author do you own the most books by?

Lillian Jackson Braun– well, she did write over 30!  I think I own 8?  A close runner up would be Elizabeth Peters.  I think I have 6 or 7 of hers.

2) What book do you own the most copies of?

William Shakespeare’s plays– I’ve got 2 “complete” copies, and several versions of individual plays in paperback

3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?

Yes.  Yes, it does.  I do teach grammar, after all.

4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?

Sherlock Holmes– have been since I saw Jeremy Brett playing him; Laurie R. King has just encouraged me

4a) What fictional character would you most like to be?

Anne of Green Gables– who wouldn’t want to live on P.E.I and love Gilbert?

4b) What fictional character do you think most resembles you?

Polly from “The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew”– go on.  read it and see.

5) What book have you read the most times in your life?

“The Outlaws of Sherwood” by Robin McKinley– I used to read it every six months when I was in school

6) What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?

Ohh.. that’s hard.  I started on adult novels pretty early.  I think by ten I was into Agatha Christies’ s “Tuesday Club Murders”

7) What is the worst book you’ve read in the past year?

Wow, hmmm… this is difficult b/c I don’t tend to start books that I’m not already pretty sure I’m going to like.  Maybe “Miracle Myx”? (see my review here)

8 ) What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?

 I think “At Home in Mitford”by Jan Karon– it’s a soft, pastor-in-a-small-town novel.  I laughed, I cried, and I immediately went and read the rest of the series straight through.  Then my dad did as well.

9) If you could force everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be?

“Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.  It is fabulous, gothic, and about the love of books.

10) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for literature?

JK Rowling. Screw proper “literature” and the snobs.  Anyone who can get my 7th graders to read multiple 400+ page novels deserves this prize in my book!

11) What book would you most like to see made into a movie?

I want to see “The Hobbit” done by the same crew who did such a great job with LotR.

12) What book would you least like to see made into a movie?

“The Beekeeper’s Apprentice” by Laurie R. King– one of my favorite books, so I don’t want it spoilt

13) Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.

Sometimes when my brothers were little and I had to read “Green Eggs and Ham” to them all of the time, I’d find myself reciting it in my sleep.

14) What is the most lowbrow book you’ve read as an adult?

The Ranma 1/2 mangas

15) What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read?

“The Count of Monte Cristo” and “Crime and Punishment” are tied here– I had to make charts half-way through just to keep all of the name changes straight;

however, I think “Ulysses” is going to take the cake, once I have finished it.

16) What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you’ve seen?

A Winter’s Tale

17) Do you prefer the French or the Russians?

The French: “they don’t care what they do, actually– as long as they pronounce it properly” 🙂 [hint- quotation from the same source as my blog’s name]

18) Roth or Updike?

Updike– I like his rewrite of the Hamlet story: “Gertrude and Claudius”

19) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?

Dave Eggers– who else would have the guts to call his novel/ memoir: “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius”?!

20) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?

Shakespeare, any day.

21) Austen or Eliot?

Austen– but I actually prefer the film adaptations on these.  I had a bad experience with “Middlemarch” and haven’t yet forgiven Eliot.

22) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?

Eliot, Austen, Bronte– that sort of thing.

23) What is your favorite novel?

“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams

24) Play?

“The Pirates of Penzance” by Gilbert and Sullivan– I like musical theatre.

25) Poem?

“Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll

26) Essay?

Mark Twain on the inadequacies of James Fenimore Cooper

27) Short story?

oh, really, any of the Jeeves stories by P. G. Wodehouse

28) Work of non-fiction?

Harold Bloom on Hamlet

29) Who is your favorite writer?

Laurie R. King.  I’ve read, I think, everything she’s written, and they are all exceptional.

30) Who is the most overrated writer alive today?

Toni Morrison.  I’m sorry, but all of her books are really the same basic characters and themes.

31) What is your desert island book?

“The Complete Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”: a five-book trilogy

32) And … what are you reading right now?

I am reading the following. I jump around based on my mood, where the book is in the house, and how much time I’ve got:

“Ulysses” by James Joyce

“Baby, Would I Lie?” by Donald E. Westlake

“A Beautiful Blue Death” by Charles Finch

How did you do?  Are you a literary geek too?  Drop me a comment below. 

pebbles on the page

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Continuing on with my series of foolish comments in the margins (there are intelligent comments as well, I swear!)  here is part 2 of section 3 of Ulysses.  For part 1, click here.

“I could not save her”– survivor’s guilt?

“Here lies poor dogsbody’s body.”– ho ho ho…no

“I am almosting it.”– I like this phrase!

“If I were suddenly naked here as I sit?  I am not.”– I am relieved to hear it.

“His lips lipped”– let lips do what hands do [Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet]

“welcome as the flowers in May.”– The flowers that bloom in the Spring, tra la, / Have nothing to do with the case [Gilbert & Sullivan’s Mikado]

“And no more turn aside and brood. / His gaze brooded on his broadtoed boots”– well that didn’t last very long

“Wilde’s love that dare not speak its name”– who’s the friend of Mike Yeats?

“As I am.  As I am.” — I am what I am [Jerry Herman’s La Cage aux Folles]

“Bag of corpsegas sopping in foul brine”– gross!

“Seadeath, mildest of all deaths known to man”– now, I just don’t buy that

“Tuesday will be the longest day” — and April is the cruelest month [T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland]

“the rum tum tiddledy tum”– said Pooh to Piglet

Section 3 part 1 is now up here.  Come and get it! 

Now, all of my fellow Wandering Rocks, let’s hear some of your book graffiti.  I can’t be the only one.

quick Ulysses progress update

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I must say that I’m pleased with myself.  I’ve made a good start & finished ep. 1 today.  I’d forgotten how much fun (yes–I have a strange sense of fun)  proper lit crit is. 🙂  I’ve looked up the Latin translations & the words I didn’t know, jotted remarks to the characters in my margins, and made connections to contemporary events/ characters/ etc.  Reminds me a bit of tackling “Orlando.”

Here are a few of my more unusual notes, along with the line they reference in quotation marks, up to page 13:

“Lend us your noserag to wipe my razor” — very sanitary indeed, Buck

“My aunt thinks you killed your mother, he said” — is he plagued by aunts like Bernie Wooster?

“I’m not joking, Kinch.  You look damn well when you’re dressed.” — finally, a compliment, though a back-handed one

“his razor and mirror clacking in the pocket where he had thrust them.” — probably how the mirror got cracked in the first place

“You crossed her last wish in death and yet you sulk with me because I don’t winge like some hired mute for Lalouette’s”– it’s a fair cop, guv

“And no more turn aside and brood” — sigh no more, ladies/ sigh no more (Shakespeare’s “Much Ado”)

“Ghoul!  Chewer of corpses!”– great epithet!

“Why should I bring it down?  Or leave it there all day, forgotten friendship?”– isn’t it good, Norwegian wood (Beatles song)

“The milk, sir.”– john’s the milk, perhaps?[insert Welsh accent here]

“Ah, to be sure.” — don’t rile up the ol’ lady, Buck!

“He watched her pour into the measure and thence into the jug rich white milk, not hers.” — duh, dude.

Yes, I am fully aware that these notes are neither intelligently elucidating nor particularly clever, but I enjoyed them. 🙂  On to part 2 of section 1 here.