December 19th, 2013
A bunch of book reviews: “MM–Personal: From the Private Archive of Marilyn Monroe“, “Bonjour Tristesse” and “Let Me Off at the Top!: My Classy Life and Other Musings“
This book is a very comprehensive and loving portrait of what has been found in her own file cabinets, ranging from stuffs that were found a long time ago to the very recently found (circa 2008), this must have been a cumbersome effort to collate, and is beautifully photographed with roses and interesting details abound. The narrative that accompanies the imagery is sparse, as it should be, for the images do the talking; the foreword and intermixed texts are really interesting, and do their bit to display Monroe as the multi-faceted person, reader and business-person that she was.
Airy, wispy and light: one could easily skim these pages, but if you look closely into the sentences, you quickly discover a world of its own. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that Sagan wrote this at the age of 18, but there it is.
Interesting, soft and brilliant, this is a quick, atmospheric and memorable read.
DISCLAIMER Every word in this book is true. You can fact-check most of it but much of it lives within my brain. Fortunately for you my memory is infallible. With the exception of people, places, situations and dialogue, I’m like a walking encyclopedia of facts. You might as well chisel this baby in stone, because what you are holding is a perfect unchallengeable chronicle of American history and personal narrative. You are welcome.
This book is simple, a bunch of ideas, framed together almost as evidence on an idiot whose modus operando is commonplace, sexist and extremely stupid. And he’s made-up. Will Ferrell has masterminded this book under the guise of Ron Burgundy, his near-legendary comic character from the “Anchorman” films and sketches; where this may sound like a trite stick here, it’s actually really funny at times, where you keep your head over the water line and realise that Ferrell isn’t a sexist idiot himself, but manages to push this character beyond the point of plainness by making it so very alike people that we all probably know.
I didn’t much care for either of them but they were my parents and I loved them both dearly. On Saturday nights they went dancing over at the Elks Lodge. They never missed a Saturday night at the lodge. Just as soon as they were out the door it ?was every Burgundy for himself. Fists, chair legs, frying pans, railroad spikes—whatever was lying around the house we used to pummel the other guy. We all had our tricks. Horner set traps all over the house. Lonny carried a whip. Bartholemew welded himself a whole medieval suit of armor. Jessup had attack dogs. For me it quickly came down to Jack Johnson and Tom O’Leary, the names I gave my left and right fists respectively. With Johnson I was able to fend off most of the blows, but with O’Leary I could mete out my own share of pain. By the time I was ten years old even my oldest brother, Hargood, knew to keep away from O’Leary’s leaden punishment. Johnson had them on their heels quick but O’Leary was the one that put them to sleep. Even to this day I’ve been known to call on O’Leary to clear up an argument or end some nonsense.
There are plenty of quotes from this book that stuns the reader, be it from sheer gut-laffs or from Burgundy’s ever-changing philosophy. But where others, possibly non-idiots, stumble, Burgundy puts it all out there and forgets to erase his notes.
I was thrown out of every game, but not before I got my five in. I still hold the Iowa state record for most technicals in a season. Look it up. We had a great team in ’57: a big Swede named Swen Vader at center; a nimble power forward named Luke Walker; Brad Darklighter was our small forward; a lightning-fast little Italian, Vinny Cithreepio, ran the point; and Lando Calrissian shot the lights out as our number two. Obiwan Kanobi, an exchange student from Japan, was always good for six points as well. We won state that year but were later disqualified, as a lot of those guys had played semi-pro ball in Brazil; some of them were in their thirties. Nowadays people check that kind of stuff out, but back then we had a lot of thirty- and forty-year-old men posing as high school students. It was just something you did.
It’s a lot of pressure to deliver the news night after night and some guys can’t take it. Current newsman Wolf Blitzer hates his job and you can tell it every time he opens his mouth. Talking on camera for him is like one giant exhale, like he’s trying to empty all his oxygen out of his body so he can die and free himself of the terrible pressure. Chris Wallace would rather live in a hobo camp than deliver the news, but he’s up there, taking his lumps like a man.
And of course, there is truth:
My escape from Canada was only a nap away. I lay down and fell asleep. Luckily for me a big Swede came along. The Swedish people have a great capacity for boredom. Although they are not boring themselves, they can withstand boring situations and boring people with great skill. The Swede took me to a McDonald’s, where I was nursed back to believing I was in America. I stayed in the confines of those golden arches for a full week before I even had the courage to step out into Canada again. In the hundred or so steps I took to the helicopter that was waiting to take me to the United States and safety, I contemplated strangling myself.
And further, on Canadians:
Again, I don’t want to disparage any Canadians here. Outside of their own country they can be simply delightful. I’ve met some very playful ones. I do however keep my guard up. If someone is introduced to me as a Canadian I instinctively fortify myself for the torrent of soul-crushing boredom to come plunging out of their mouth. I even cover my ears if I suspect them of not having been properly Americanized.
There are a lot of good stuff on what being American is all about.
People need to treat me with more respect. It should be a foregone conclusion that I am treated with the utmost respect, but there are people out there in my own country who don’t respect me and that’s just un-American. I know I said I wouldn’t wrap myself in the flag like every other ham-headed idiot on TV today but frankly speaking, if you don’t respect me then you are a terrorist. It’s pretty simple. The government can stop the spying on its own people. All they need to do is make up a list of people who don’t respect me and put them in Guantánamo Bay until they can make them respect me. I’m not completely serious of course, but really I am.
Or the time he made love with Bruce Lee.
Altogether: very entertaining, a fast and funny read, and a great way to see if a reader is an idiot or not is to see whether they take the sexist/prejudiced bits seriously or not.