Friday Fives – somehow ends up being about Alice in Wonderland again

alice cover

What’s your “I can’t believe they got away with this in a kid show” moment?

I am reading ‘Alice in Wonderland’ again… slowly (on the toilet) and it holds up SO well.  Its my favorite  book in the world!.  I say that with a literature degree!  Anyhow, the books reminds me of Spongebob, in that it is clearly designed for both audiences.  You probably know the book is famous for a LOT of druggy psychedelic references.  You probably know that Grace had a VERY big hit with this song singing for the Airplane.  You probably know it was written clearly in the 60s.  It was.  The 1860s!  By a motherfuckin’ Reverend!  Not just a reverend but a published math wiz.  He isn’t called Lewis Carroll, either.  Dodgeson was so embarrassed by his writings of ‘Alice…’ that he used a fake name.  The man you know as Lewis Carroll is Rev Charles Dodgeson.  Also, Alice was a very real person… Alice Liddel.  Here are pics of her, which is SUPER cool.  And stop saying pedophile jokes.  Dude was a family friend, and he was never alone with Alice.

So… what does any of this have to do with the question?   Alice in Wonderland is a pretty f’d story composed almost entirely of antagonists.  Not sure it is should be a kids book.   Tell what what, if I ever get our kids back from the state, we’ll test it one of them.  Another reason this came up is legit, a couple weeks ago I got this in the mail.  Reminds me of the time I read this, when I found a Steadman copy.  To me knowledge, the Steadman editions are not currently available, and may have never been.  I got one, and it was a stolen library book.  Still worth it.

What’s the darkest secret you found out about a family member/ relative?

I have one, and if it were truly personal or bad, I would never share it with the likes of you.  Years after my pops passed away, I learned he briefly owned a toupee shop.  Needless to say, I have SO SO SO many questions.  No one seems to have answers.

Headphones or earbuds, which do you prefer and why?

All things being equal, it would be over the ear headphones.  These are more comfortable, and offer more sound protection.  Generally, if I am wearing headphones I am doing something very loud.  Running the tractor, woodworking, mowing… whatever.  The first job of the headphones is to protect my ears and hearing.  Also cool if it plays music.  

BUT… having said that, I just got some new in ear headphones that have incredible sound.  So which wins?  Won’t know until tomorrow when I am out spreading the horse poo.  These earbuds are so new I haven’t done any loud work with them.

What are your current go-to lazy meals?

A box of mac and cheese (any brand, who cares), a protein bar, some yogurt.  Alternatively, your sister!

 Who’s your favorite comedian?

That changes often.  Most recently, John Mulaney and Jimmy Carr.  Historically, it would be Mitch Hedburg and Brian Regan (got to see both of them live).  If we are to talk about comedy specials > it would be Delirious, and then anything Brian Regan ever did.

*** wait – why aren’t we still talking about Alice in Wonderland still?  YOU started it, Dad. You think I would just glance past an opportunity to talk about ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and move forward?  Ever ask your Uncle what makes Steely Dan so great?  Do it, I dare you!  and get comfy as he goes all ‘Uncle Rico’ on your ass for 35 minutes.  ‘Alice in Wonderland’ is actually two books.  Neither of them are called ‘Alice in Wonderland’, either.  The first book (and truly the most iconic on every level) is called ‘Alice’s Adventures Underground’, and the second book is called ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’.  That second (and last) book?  It is also a playable chess game.  Serious.  I’ll let someone smarter than me explain it

The 64-Square Grid Design of ‘Through the Looking Glass’

The sequel to Alice’s Adventure’s in Wonderland was designed to be a playable, albeit whimsical chess problem

ALICESL PG 028

One two one two and through and through

The vorpal blade went snicker snack!

He left it dead, and with its head

He game galumphing back

And hast thou slain the Jabberwocky?

come to my arms, my beamish boy… calhoo, calhay!

THAT – I just recited from memory.  Its about the Jabberwocky, a poem/story in the book that is unique as almost every word is total nonsense.  The poem is longer than that above, am just curious how I did.  Let’s look.  Above is my rickety ass memory, below is a cut and paste verbatim.  Think I nailed it!

One, two! One, two! And through and through

      The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!

He left it dead, and with its head

      He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?

      Come to my arms, my beamish boy!

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”

Friday Fives – book edition

Last week was movies. This week its books.

1. What was the last book that you absolutely could not put down until you finished it? 

for this, I have to reference this.  I am such a book nut that I archive everything I read.  I started doing this years ago, noting down books as I read them.  Now that I have probably a hundred catalogued, I find it a very useful resource.  Plus, allow me cop to the fact that it is a bit pretentious.  It sounds like something Sting would do.  To me, Sting sets the bar for pretension.  But, it is practical.  I read a lot, about a book a month.  This helps me keep it straight in my mind, and go back to find authors that I loved.

Now, back to the question.  The last book that just rocked my world was an audiobook… so that could constitute cheating.  It was ‘Lamb’.  This was the most amazing book.  I believe it is one of the best and most important and amazing books ever written.  Note (again, Sting alert here) I have a degree in Literature, so I know of what I speak.  Lamb was amazing, life changing!  I put it up there with Alice in Wonderland.  If you are a reader here, then you know my devotion to that book.  If you are not a reader here, what are you doing reading here, huh?  You got some esplainin’ to do.

Allow me to tell you a tiny bit more about Lamb that might shed light on the truly religious experience it had on me.  When I listened to it, I was driving by myself across the desert on Christmas day.  I had not slept in 4 days, so I was literally loopy.  Also, I am a recovering Catholic.  This means I believe in Jesus and most of his story, up until he died.  I do believe there was a Jesus.  I do believe he was a leader, and I do believe he was murdered for that.  I don’t believe he came back to life.

I didn’t mean to be listening to the fictionalized story of Christ on Christmas day.  Nor did I mean to be driving through the desert by myself whacked on sleep deprivation when I did.  Those are all just amazing co-incidences that made it a very seriously powerful experience for me.  You must read that book.  Religious or not.  It is incredibly thoughtful.  it is not satire, or humor.  It is at least as accurate as the Bible, and I am dead serious about that.  Both were written by men who were nowhere around when it happened.  At least Moore cops to it.

There you have it.  I have officially not written that much about a book (besides Alice in Wonderland) since college.

2. Do you have a difficult to read author/book that you really want to read/finish?

I did.  There have been many books I meant to finish.  Many books that felt embarrassed that I had not read or finished.  Finally, though, I realized life is too short to read boring books.  Here is an example – Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote ‘100 years of solitude‘.  It has been regarded by about every scholar as one of the greatest books ever written.  Entire college courses are taught on this book.  So, being as though I am a lit guy, I should read it.  I should know it.  I tried.  I really did.  a bunch of times.  Here is my educated literary analysis – holy fuck is it boring.  See, it is 500 pages.  So, your first 60 pages are just about setting the scene and introducing characters.  I couldn’t get past page 25 ever.  So, this book is shelved.  I am not even going to try anymore.

There is a really great article/infographic about this very topic.  Btw, full Sting disclosure here.  As much as I truly enjoy talking about books, I did not pick these questions.  These came from my editor, who is my close buddy who turned me on to blogging ten years ago.

3. If you had to pick a genre that your read as a favorite, what is it? 

non-fiction memoirs, and neurology.  I am a freelance neurologist.  Go ahead, google it.  Just kidding, you can’t.  I just made it up.  Ok, that was a little Stingy.  Allow me to explain that reference.  Sting put out a movie of him playing lute and discussing literature with guys with bears and tweed coats.  Doing those things doesn’t make you a douche, but putting out a movie of you doing those things sure does.

4. If you had to help someone who “doesn’t get into reading” what would you suggest to them to light their fire?

start light.  Comedians often write great and super funny books.  Here is one I read fairly recently.  it is really enjoyable, and super fluffy.  Also, I strongly recommend Alice in Wonderland.  it is not too long, amazingly well written, and totally absurd.  Here is an even better one.  This book, Animal Farm, is super entertaining, and incredibly thoughtful.  it is also so short you can read it one night.  Classes have been taught about this book, too.  Hell, Pink Floyd made an album about it.

5. What are you reading right now?

Nothing, actually.  I just finished this last week, and am in between books.  I am pretty sure I am going to get a couple books on Russian history.  For now, though, I am on brain vacation and just reading my magazines (Rolling Stone, Playboy, Popular Mechanics, and Psychology Today).  Both of the Russian history books are over 400 pages each.  I am a bit intimidated to get into something that thick and thinky, but it is a fascinating tale.  Like, if you asked anyone on Earth who the worst person in history is, most would agree Hitler.  Lemme tell you, when it comes to body count, no one comes CLOSE to Stalin.  Stalin makes Hitler look like a youth league volunteer for charity by comparison.

I go back and forth between really thinky stuff, and fluffy memoirs.  Oooh oooh!  I just thought of another great book you should read.  Adam Carolla has a couple terrific memoirs out.  I am a big fan of Carolla’s podcast, and listen almost daily.  Start with this one, and then do this one.

* since we are talking about books, and Alice in Wonderland, I have an update.  I finally scored the holy grail of books.  This is the book I have been wanting for 25 years.  It is scarce, and believed by many to have never even existed.  Alice in Wonderland illustrated by Ralph Steadman.  I haven’t even cracked it open yet.  I have too much on my plate to really lose myself in it like I want to.