Foolin’ with the Fools

As an added bonus, I just got an email from one of the editors of the Motley Fool newsletters to let me know they’ll be holding a Fool event at the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting. How very, very cool1 will that be?

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1 Cool in the geekiest sense of the word, of course. I hope my shipment of monogrammed pocket protectors arrives in time.

Book Log – Please, Mr. Einstein (abandoned)

Please, Mr. Einstein by Jean-Claude Carriere (abandoned)

This was a book I put on my wishlist, though I can’t remember why, now. A recommendation from someone? Dunno.

And someone got it for me for Xmas. Which really makes me want to read it and enjoy it, because I said I wanted it through my wishlist. The thing about asking for something for Xmas is that while people sometimes feel a little uncreative for resorting to what you asked for instead of surprising you with something you didn’t even know you wanted, they get the consolation of being “guaranteed” to have gotten you something you will enjoy. Boy, that’s a convoluted sentence.

At any rate, I didn’t enjoy this book. So much so, I just can’t finish it. I sloughed through 2/3s of it… that’s all I can handle.

The premise is, a young, nondescript girl from modern day walks into an office because she somehow knows that Albert Einstein will be there. There is a waiting room, filled with folks like Isaac Newton, all waiting to see Einstein. The girl gets in, and Einstein talks about his theories with her. He can open doors, and they walk into different parts of space-time. There is no explanation (though the girl wonders at how this could all be), it is just a convention we accept for the purposes of allowing Einstein to describe his theories to us, and some of his feelings on political situations and results of his theories.

Basically, it’s dumb. And annoying. And not very interesting.

It was done much better (though not great) in the 1982 play Insignificance by Terry Johnson, with the bonus that that play also includes Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio and Joseph McCarthy as characters. Also, it’s kind of funny.

Book Log – Leave It To Psmith

Leave It To Psmith by P.G. Wodehouse

Another much appreciated loan from curt_holman, this was both the final Psmith novel chronologically and the last one left for me to read.

I stumbled across a very good Wodehouse book chronology, which clears up some confusion I had in titles…

1909: Mike: A Public School Story, a two part novel, the first later revised and published as Mike at Wrykyn and the second revised and published twice as Enter Psmith and Mike and Psmith.
1910: Psmith in the City
1915: Psmith, Journalist
1915: Something Fresh (in the U.S., Something New), not a Psmith story, but the original story taking place in Blandings Castle, the setting for…
1923: Leave It To Psmith

I read on a website that Leave It is not on Project Gutenberg because, due to its later publishing date, it is somehow included in the extended copyright as fallout from the “Disney rat” copyright extension stuff that went on.

Were I an English major or some such thing, I might take the time to track recurring plot elements in stories such as flowerpots, stolen valuables, obnoxious poets, etc. in all Wodehouse’s works. You could probably set up a family tree and track the mix and match use of such things through the stories.

The first Jeeves and Wooster book of short stories was published in 1919, I believe from a series of magazine columns. In a way, I imagine Wodehouse taking the Psmith character, who begins as a member of the idle rich and ends as a gentleman’s personal secretary, and splitting him in two: Jeeves the gentleman’s personal gentleman taking the impeccable style and high intelligence, and Wooster the idle gentleman taking a propensity to talk incessantly and turn a nice phrase.

An excerpt, dialog between Psmith and his fiance Eve, shortly after becoming engaged:

[Eve] ‘When I met Cynthia at Market Blandings, she told me what the trouble was which made her husband leave her. What do you suppose it was?’

‘From my brief acquaintance with Comrade McTodd, I would hazard the guess that he tried to stab her with the bread-knife. He struck me as a murderous-looking specimen.’

‘They had some people to dinner, and there was chicken, and Cynthia gave all the giblets to the guests, and her husband bounded out of his seat with a wild cry, and, shouting “You know I love those things better than anything in the world!” rushed from the house, never to return!’

‘Precisely how I would have wished him to rush, had I been Mrs. McTodd.’

‘Cynthia told me that he had rushed from the house, never to return, six times since they were married.’

‘May I mention — in passing –‘ said Psmith, ‘that I do not like chicken giblets?’

‘Cynthia advised me,’ proceeded Eve, ‘if ever I married, to marry someone eccentric. She said it was such fun… Well, I don’t suppose I am ever likely to meet anyone more eccentric than you, am I?’

‘I think you would be unwise to wait on the chance.’

If I had read that before performing the ceremony for my brother-in-law’s wedding, I might have worked it in to the script. Probably best that I didn’t.

Just as an aside, the P.G. Wodehouse Quote generator

A Long Way To Go For A Coffee Table

I have a plane ticket to (and from) Omaha, Nebraska.

I have a car reserved in Omaha, Nebraska.

I am anxiously awaiting a phone call from a nice lady who will book me a hotel room in Omaha, Nebraska.

I have a request for credentials about to go in the mail, which will get me into the Qwest Center in Omaha, Nebraska.

This trip is 8 years in the making. What will I be doing in Omaha, Nebraska?

I will be sitting in an auditorium with 27,000 people listening to a 77 year old man and an 84 year old man talk about life, investing and business.

I will be walking around, admiring the products of all the many, many businesses owned by the company that the 77 and 84 year old men run.

I may tour private luxury jets that I could spend thousands of dollars to buy a small percentage of.

I will be shopping for a coffee table in the largest single-building furniture store in the world.

I may watch a 2 time U.S. Chess champion play chess against 6 opponents simultaneously, blindfolded.

There will also be a magician.

Why am I doing this?

Because I am such a geek I even shun myself.

Also, so the Dragon*Con folks can have someone to roll their eyes at.

Book Log – Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return

Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi (via The Complete Persepolis)

A hearty thank you to curt_holman, who loaned me his Complete Persepolis that I might enjoy the second book in Ms. Satrapi’s story of growing up in Iran and other places.

The story is engaging, witty, fascinating and almost1 impossible to put down. As I mentioned in my log of the first book, it is particularly compelling to consider we are of similar age, she being just 6 months younger than steakums. Thus, when she mentions a year, I can’t help but think of what I was doing at the time. In 1991, while she was accusing an innocent man of obscenity to avoid arrest and prosecution for wearing makeup (ultimately condemning him to an unknown fate and racking herself with guilt as a result), I was making silly videos about paper airplanes.

Now, on recommendations of everyone who’s seen it, I’m going to have to put the movie in my netflix cue.

curt_holman, I have your book ready to return. I’m keeping it out of crayon-reach, in the mean time.

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1 Really, you can put any book down if the alternative is allowing your 1.5 year old to continue to eat crayons.

Book Log – Sense & Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (courtesy of Project Gutenberg)

I had started Sense a long, long time ago, and misplaced it about halfway through. Since some 20 years had passed, enough attrition of memory had occurred to allow a read from the beginning with only the vaguest sense of deja vu.

The toughest part of suspending one’s disbelief in a Jane Austen novel is to allow oneself to believe that it really is tragic that a Person of Quality should lose their Means, or not gain as much Means as is thought to be “deserved”. I can do it easily in a Wooster story, because the primary purpose is comedy, and usually at the expense of the idle rich.

It is much more difficult for a “serious” novel (albeit with humor), meant to evoke sincere sympathy for our heroines, all of whom possess good looks, intelligence, education, and enough money to live more than comfortably (with servants, no less). Sure, loss of love is a tragedy for anyone, but really I have trouble mustering up sympathy in the same way I don’t feel too bad for Jennifer Anniston.

Really, though, suspension of disbelief or concern for the characters is none too necessary because the appeal of Jane Austen is the language. They can go on and on about the same topic and I’m just fine with it. Unlike, say, Tolkien.

Oopie from the past

Remember that Oopie craze from the early 90’s? That wacky unbalanced inflated ball that took the country by storm, kind of like a modern hula hoop?

No?

Probably because it never happened. I can only blame myself. And stronglanguage. And a college friend of mine who went on to become a film editor in L.A. Led by that editor, we created and entered the video below in a contest sponsored by the company that made the Oopie (Nerf? Can’t remember) and won a projection TV for our dorm. Our video highlighting the mad, crazy fun that could be had with an Oopie did not, however, succeed in convincing anyone. Possibly because of the foreboding Frankensteinian message contained therein.

That editor posted the video on YouTube a while back, and I recently received the link. I am the one on the baseball mound, being much skinnier than I am now.