The Great Gatsby. Still not sure if I read it.

Well, now I’ve finished it, but I still feel like I haven’t. I had a terrible time trying to pay attention to this one, but I think that was mostly the fault of the narrator. Jake Gyllenhaal (in a trend of having famous actors read classics) gives a dull, monotone reading that would put you to sleep if not for the constant, piercing s-whistles sprinkled throughout.

I already feel I’ll have to give this one yet another try, but next time I’ll be sure to do it in text form.

The parts that I could stay alert for were good, but anything can be boring when read in a tired, simple tone. It reminded me of a ninth grader being forced to read in front of their class, something they have no concept of or interest in understanding. Just words on a page, with no change in pace or rhythm, even when moving from describing a sunset to describing a deadly car crash.

The words will slide right off your brain into oblivion.

 

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Finding Frances

The feature length finale of the Comedy Central series ‘Nathan For You’ takes an amazing melancholy turn, when Nathan decides to use the show’s resources to find Bill Heath’s (the Bill Gates impersonator from previous episodes) long lost love.

Though still full of the same comedic flavor that Nathan is famous for, this is a heart wrenching documentary about a man that could not let go of the past.

Bill, now 76 years old, never married, and never had children, has spent his life always wondering what happened to his young love Frances, last seen over 50 years ago. Though it is never stated directly, it is implied that he never married or had children because he was always hoping to find her. Early in the episode we get many clips of him reminiscing about her, always saying ‘I should have married her.’

Nathan takes it on himself to help Bill find Frances, using ridiculous, roundabout tactics that will be familiar to fans of the show. But always present between the comedy is a thick vein of longing, and it will creep under your skin and leave your heart aching.

What kind of love must one feel to still wonder about someone from half a century past? What kind of emotions could prevent a person from moving on after so much time? The relationship of Bill and Frances is startlingly similar to that of Florintino and Fermina in Love in the Time of Cholera, except, as we find out during a heart squeezing scene where Bill reads through a box of old letters–Bill left Frances to pursue his career in acting, and regretted it ever since.

I won’t spoil the end, but as the episode progresses and Nathan finds more and more information about Frances, it becomes clear that Bill has held some kind of frozen image of her in his mind, a version of her trapped in amber and unchanging as the decades rolled by.

Is this how all love works? A first impression of overwhelming emotion seared into the brain, unable to be overwritten no matter what else happens with or because of that person. Do we have any choice but to cling to that moment when everything was perfect and amazing, despite all that has changed? That irrationality and inability to accept change–or even perceive it in some cases–is part of what makes us human…

The end of this episode left me with a surreal feeling of the gulf of time that can separate two people–a feeling of melancholy for the past, like opening a time capsule full of childhood mementos, or finding an old love letter in your attic.

This episode was better produced, and miles more meaningful than 90% of Hollywood movies today. Even if you’re not familiar with the show, and don’t care for absurdist/awkward comedy– I would recommend watching this episode. It is heartfelt, real, and peeks at some secret aspect of being human that hides within all of us.

Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens

While I enjoyed the story over all, I found this to be longer than needed, and with too much overblown prose for my taste.

The story follows Pip, as he grows up an orphan, taken care of by his sister. We see him change as he comes into his ‘great expectations’, money and promise of land and other inheritance from a mysterious source. The money and promises of a future cause him to leave his family and friends behind.

The book is a mash of multiple stories that to me, didn’t seem to be related other than on the surface.

We have Ms Havisham, the broken hearted woman who lives in her wedding dress and never lets the sun touch her and keeps all the clocks stopped at the moment her heart broke. And Estella, raised by Ms Havisham to break the heart of any man she encounters, as a sort of revenge on all mankind.

Then we have the convict that Pip meets at the start of the story, who comes back to his life over and over again.

These seem at first to be two separate stories with separate morals/purposes. And at the end we find they are connected, but only by blood. It didn’t follow to me what the two stories had to do with each other, besides than that surface level connection. It’s possible I missed something.

In the end, Pip learns that your family and friends who love you are worth more than money, and advancement in life, and you shouldn’t take them for granted or look down on them–a lesson that seems to have little to do with the main things that happened in the story (Ms Havisham’s story and the convicts story.)

In the end, it came across to me as something written just for the sake of writing, with a story muddled out of it in the process. Despite that, it was enjoyable, and made me laugh and smile and feel on several occasions.

The Orville, episode 5, Catcalling in space!

So far this is the first episode of the series that was a bit of a letdown for me. I guess even in the far future of space travel, its just fine and normal to comment on the appearance of every woman you come across, even right when she’s about to die.

The Orville receives a distress call, and finds a mining ship stranded on a comet about to crash into a star. The Captain, Priah, is blond and sure is pretty and all the characters make sure to comment awkwardly and creepily on exactly how pretty she is, in every scene she is in.

With Priah safely aboard, Captain Mercer finds they are from the same place on Earth, and gets to like her and shows her around the ship, where she is ogled and catcalled by everyone she encounters. In the 25th century. What progress.

Kelly is suspicious of Priah, and thinks something is up. Mercer thinks Kelly is just jealous of him hanging around with SUCH A HOT BABE and they have arguments about it. Even after Priah saves their ship from destruction, Kelly still doesn’t trust her.

Meanwhile, Gordon tries to teach Isaac what a practical joke is, by sticking Mr. Potato Head pieces all over his head to give him a face. I raised an eyebrow that anyone would know what a Mr. Potato Head was four hundred years from now, but okay.

Isaac retaliates with his own practical joke: amputating Gordon’s leg while he sleeps. This got a big laugh out of me, and that he hid the leg somewhere was even funnier. The call back later when the leg comes crashing down from the ceiling in the middle of a conversation is great EXCEPT why cant anyone pay attention to obvious details?? The leg that fell down was a full leg all the way up to the hip, and Gordon’s leg was only amputated at the knee. It is just so lazy not to use the right kind of leg in your own damn show that you presumably wrote and were aware of.

Later we find that, of course, Kelly is right, and Priah is actually from the future, and is a dealer in rare artifacts from the past. Priah plans to take their ship (which should have been destroyed, and them all dead) to the future to sell to a collector. This wont mess up any timeline, because the ship should have been destroyed.

This is a really neat idea, and this comedy show constantly has more interesting sci fi concepts than Star Trek Discovery and their universal mushroom (I’m serious.)

On a final annoying note, the Orville shoots a missile at the wormhole Priah has been using to go to and from the past, and this somehow makes it collapse and it collapsing somehow makes Priah disappear and it is implied she is erased from everyone’s memory too? Very dumb and annoying way to end an episode.

Overall, though, still enjoying this show a lot!

The Orville, episode 4

In another great episode, the crew encounters a huge ship, so huge it contains a whole city and farmland and sky within. The crew soon finds out that they are dealing with a generation ship with a people who have forgotten they are on a ship.

This may be an idea that seems played out for someone who’s read a lot of sci fi, but seeing this on TV is just great. The ship is heading for a star, and they’ve got to convince the people that they need help before they can be helped.

Another thing I thought was great about this episode is we get to see how tough the first officer, Kelly, is. There is a pretty hardcore scene where she is being straight up beat and tortured, and though she is cracking some pretty funny jokes, it is not a funny scene. It is brutal and feels real. And–as Hollywood looooves to do when it comes to women who are captured or being tortured–I’m glad to say she was not sexualized in any way. What another relief!

At the end of the episode, the ship turns out to have a retractable section that opens to allow the people to see the stars for the first time. It was a really cool, and emotional scene.

Once again, a Seth MacFarlane comedy show is showing up CBS’s Discovery. Just let that sink in a minute… then go watch it!

Great humor

I’ve started listening to Great Expectations ¬† and am finding it very entertaining. He is quite adept at painting his characters in very memorable and overblown ways, while still keeping them from being caricatures or ridiculous. I’ve been laughing out loud a lot with this one so far.

I wonder why all these classic novels have such boring covers that look like old paintings you’d find in a museum. It really doesn’t do much to give an impression of what’s inside the book at all. Maybe more people would read classics if they got updated covers and dust jacket descriptions…

Split brain

I’ve been listening to Peace on Earth, by Stanislaw Lem and the character has had his right and left brain split. It’s quite interesting so far, and deals with a lot of philosophical questions like ‘is it me inside my head, if i don’t know what it’s thinking?’ So far the plot seems to be that he saw something he shouldn’t have, but only his right brain has the memories (the side of his brain that is his subconscious side, not his conscious side, so he doesn’t have direct access to it.) People seem to want to interrogate that side of him, but are unsure how.

There are real examples of people with their brains split, and images shown to one eye not being perceived by the conscious mind… it’s a strange thing to think about, and I am enjoying this book a lot so far!