A meaty piece of literature for the true connoisseur
I must make a confession. I am a literary snob. That is the unfortunate by-product of possessing a degree in English and journalism and having approximately 40 years of writing and editing in my past.
I first discovered this about myself right after college when I tried to read the latest Jackie Collins novel for which everyone was raving. I could barely make it to the end without gagging. After years of studying the masters of American and world literature such as: Nathanial Hawthorne, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, Eugene O’Neil, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sinclair Lewis, John Steinbeck, Herman Melville, Henry David Thoreau, Charles Dickens, Shakespeare, Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Chaucer, etc., etc., etc., I found I was spoiled.
After struggling to read several contemporary novels for the purpose of conversation, I finally gave up and have since devoted my time to mostly nonfiction and journalistic writings. (Yes, I did read all three of the Shades of Grey novels—Yuck!) However, something came to my attention recently that really grabbed my interest.
My agent asked me to review a newly released work of art called The Apes of Eden. It is an epic poem written in iambic pentameter examining the development of man, religion, and the quest for God. This sounds intimidating but don’t let this description deter you.
It is obvious the author, Jon P. Gunn, had fun writing, playing with ideas and words, and occasionally teasing the reader along the way. We see this on the title page which says: The Apes of Eden, The Journey Begins, as told by Literate Louie, the Scribe of the Tribe.
Literate Louie tells us in the very beginning:
My present goal is briefly to describe
the mighty deeds of Eden’s famous Tribe
from high antiquity to modern times
in lucid, readable Heroic Rhymes
that nearly any member of our band
with brains between his ears, can understand…
As they say, “this isn’t everybody’s cup of tea” and the author, via Literate Louie, knows this as he goes on to say:
of reader savors Art, the other, tripe.
There is no tepid “Middle Way” to go.
Like death, or pregnancy, it’s Yes or No—
However Literate Louie knows there will be a market for his work as he says:
I don’t expect my work to go to waste.
We have, among us, apes of cultured taste:
the Literate Elite. I write for those.
Let lowbrows read some Scribbler’s dreary prose.
As the reader continues through the history of the Apes of Eden, many classical pieces of literature and scenes from the Bible will spring to mind. We see scenes reminiscent of Greek mythology, Dante’s Inferno, Milton’s Paradise Lost and others. Chapter titles such as Genesis, Exodus, The Fall, and David and the Cyclops give us a clue as to the influences upon the author.
Through the epic poem the author, Gunn, explores classic themes such as creationism versus evolution, pride before the fall, the validity of past historical and religious events, and the relationship between man (or in this case, Ape) and God.
we’ve always been as we exist today;
we neither dropped from Heaven nor arose
“by evolution” from our racial foes.
That open-ended past I can’t conceive,
nor do I know which theories to believe….
he’d met someone, he said, who’d thought it odd
that we, the Higher Apes, had not found God.
Who wants to be considered such a clod
he has to hedge when asked: Have you found God?
Let’s find the Deity!” our prophet cried,
and swung excitedly from side to side.
(Remember—these are apes)
The apes begin their journey out of Eden, past a gate guarded by a being with a flaming sword and continue lost and without direction through desert and mountain and many strange adventures. They go on and on in their quest for a Deity until the end of the book. Throughout this quest we are reminded of Moses guiding his people to the Promised Land and other legendary figures.
If I have a criticism of the book it is that it just ends. It ends without any conclusion or a neat summary package. They say in art you must know the rules in order to break them and I feel this is exactly what the author is doing. It is his wink at the reader as if to say, “That’s life.” I understand this is the first of a trilogy so we can look forward to more in the future.
Every work of art has new discoveries to be found each time it is revisited. I found this true of The Apes of Eden. I have now read it about four times and each time I gleaned new information or a new insight. If you are hungry for a good read rather than the junk food and fluff that is fed to us in the commercial markets then look for The Apes of Eden by Jon P. Gunn at Amazon.com. It will be as satisfying as a good steak.
This is a must read for the “Literate Elite;” it is a classic in the making. So, I urge you to be among the first to read this gem and help spread the word. This is a treasure just waiting to be discovered.
By Antoine Taveneaux (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The Oscars are over and now everyone is talking about who was the best and worst dressed and their opinions of the host, Seth MacFarlane.
Of the six major categories, I correctly predicted four. I missed on Supporting Actor and Director. I predicted Robert DeNiro in Silver Linings Playbook would win for Supporting Actor and Steven Spielberg Best Director for Lincoln; however Christoph Waltz won Supporting Actor for Django Unchained and Ang Lee won Best Director for Life of Pi. I was not the only who did not foresee this as the Los Angeles Times ran a headline saying, “Oscars 2013: Ang Lee, Christoph Waltz among night’s surprises.”
I correctly predicted Argo would win Best Picture; Daniel Day-Lewis, Best Actor; Jennifer Lawrence, Best Actress; and Anne Hathaway Best Supporting Actress.
On a personal note, when I reviewed Argo last October I said then to expect a lot of award nominations to come out of this movie, including Best Picture. I think I should get extra credit for being ahead of the curve.
The only big controversy of this award season was that Ben Affleck was not nominated for Best Director for Argo, however the picture won a number of other awards including Best Picture which should make up for the snub. Also, some thought Kathryn Bigelow should have been nominated for Best Director but Zero Dark Thirty also won a number of awards including an Academy Award for Best Sound Directing and a Golden Globe for Jessica Chastain for Best Actress.
There has been a lot of buzz over the host, Seth MacFarlane, who was hired to appeal to the younger demographics. Some thought he went over the line and others thought he wasn’t edgy enough. But in the words of someone (I don’t remember who), “What do you expect when you hire the creator of Family Guy?” For those who don’t know, Family Guy is an off-color, irreverent, adult, cartoon show.
I am a little older than the targeted demographic and I don’t watch Family Guy; however, I thought he was laugh out loud funny in places. The show moved along at a snappy pace and he injected a little humor, song and dance to spice it up. Some thought he was crass, racist, and politically incorrect; but I say lighten up people and laugh. The producers wanted edgy and that is what they got. However, I do agree with the critics who criticized him for his jokes about women and sexual abuse. Abuse of any kind is not a laughing matter.
This show was ten times better than a few years ago when Anne Hathaway and James Franco hosted—again to appeal to the younger generation. Hathaway had to work overtime while Franco seemed to sleep-walk through the whole show. It was safe but not entertaining.
Now the award season is over and we can start a new score card anticipating next year’s movies and which will come out on top. Did any of you correctly predict all of the major categories?
If you are a movie fan then this coming Sunday is the night of all nights, the super bowl of talent, the parade of fashion, the Academy Awards!
There were many good movies this year but unfortunately most of them came at the end of the year. Those nominated for best picture are: Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Misérables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, and Zero Dark Thirty.
Although any of the nominated movies are good enough to win, I think Argo will win the prize. I think the Academy voters will award Argo to make up for the snub by the Academy of not nominating Ben Affleck for best director. In addition it has already won many of the other awards leading up to the Oscars.
For Best Actor I think Daniel Day-Lewis will win for Lincoln. He doesn’t just portray Lincoln, he is Lincoln. He is one of the most remarkable actors of our time and his portrayal of Lincoln is a jewel in his crown of achievements.
Jennifer Lawrence of Silver Linings Playbook seems to have the edge in the Best Actress category but I think Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty also has a very good chance. Also, Quvenzhane Wallis in The Beasts of the Southern Wild is the youngest actress to be nominated. She was six when she did the role and is very mature for her young years. I don’t think she will win but the movie is worth seeing just to witness her performance. However, I think Jennifer Lawrence will win for her great on-screen chemistry with Bradley Cooper and for her funny, quirky, touching, and sad portrayal of a young widowed psychiatric patient. She captures a range of emotions.
In the Supporting Actor category it is a toss-up between five excellent actors. Alan Arkin is snappy and funny in Argo, Robert DeNiro is tough and a little touched in the head struggling with his OCD son in Silver Linings Playbook, and Philip Seymour Hoffman is fiery and dynamic in The Master. I think DeNiro will win for the sensitive and vulnerable side he shows in Silver Linings Playbook.
We also have four outstanding actresses vying for Best Supporting Actress. Amy Adams is a steadying force in The Master and Sally Field holds her own against Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln; however, I think Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables will walk away with the honors. She gives a heart-wrenching portrayal of Fantine, a single mother working hard to provide for her daughter.
For Best Director I think it is between: Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild) who coaxed amazing performances from two novices—a six year old girl and a baker; David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) who told a touching story about a taboo subject (mental illness) with dignity, pathos and humor; and Steven Spielberg (Lincoln) who managed to keep the audience intrigued with a subject that is not only controversial but also one that could be stuffy and academic and one which everyone already knows the outcome. My vote is for Spielberg because his attention to detail made the viewer feel as if he is sitting in Washington watching the events unfold in current time.
The Nominees Are:
|Best Actor in a Leading Role:||
|Best Actress in a Leading Role:||
Actor in a Supporting Role
- Alan Arkin, Argo
- Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
- Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
- Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
- Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
Actress in a Supporting Role
- Amy Adams, The Master
- Sally Field, Lincoln
- Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables
- Helen Hunt, The Sessions
- Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook
If you are a parent or grandparent of young children you are probably well aware of the current phenomenon of the Elf on the Shelf. However, if your family dates to pre 2005, you may not be aware of this very popular elf and its huge impact on the Christmas season.
To briefly educate you on “elfology” :
The elf comes from the North Pole and once you give it a name it then receives its magical powers. The elf sits in various places around the house and at night flies to the North Pole to give a report on the young one’s behavior. These reports will then determine whether your name will be in the naughty or nice book.
It is very important to never touch the elf once it is named and receives its magical powers or it will lose its powers.
Last year I wrote about my niece’s son, Aidan, and his mischievous escapades which led to worry about his elf’s report to Santa; but even I was not aware of the immense popularity of this little elf until I began receiving a huge number of hits on this post, beginning around Thanksgiving.
The strange thing about blogging is you never know what will happen to your masterpiece once you publish it to the web. I’m not sure how people are being directed to this post but it must have made it into some kind of directory to receive so many hits. I scrolled through 52 pages of Google listings and did not find it there.
While browsing Google I found there are many blogs, tweets, and Pinterests dedicated to the Elf on the Shelf and it has a number of Facebook fans. There is everything from dressing your elf to equating the elf with Jesus and Christmas. (I’m curious about the last one but didn’t take time to read it.) There are stories about good elves and bad elves, parents who love the elves and parents who hate their elves. If you go to the official Elf on the Shelf web site you will find everything from a map of adoption centers to interactive games and Mrs. Claus recipes.
In addition to serving as a behavior enforcer before Christmas, the elf may make special trips during the year. Aidan’s elf showed up for his birthday and he was so excited he almost cried.
Who doesn’t love a pesky pixie?
It is hard to explain the immense popularity of these little pesky pixies but who doesn’t love an elf? It is hard to find fault with one of Santa’s helpers. Last year a short made-for-TV movie appeared before Christmas about the Elf on the Shelf and over 4.2 million viewers tuned in. It will be repeated this year on Dec. 14 on CBS from 9:30 to 10 pm.
Jim Silver of Timetoplaymag.com explains the elf’s popularity as filling a previously untapped niche. He said, “For all the years we’ve talked about Santa Claus, elves have never gotten their due with kids.”
Also boosting the elf craze is the 2003 Will Ferrell movie “Elf” and the new Elf on the Shelf balloon in this year’s Macy’s parade.
The Christmas elf isn’t popular with everyone. Some critics say it promotes spy tactics that might not be healthy for children.
From a marketing standpoint it is a stroke of genius. Every Christmas young girls usually get a doll but the boys are left to entertain themselves with robots, cars, and mechanical or electronic gadgets. Here is a doll that is socially acceptable for both sexes and every family must have one.
Finding the right name for your elf
If you are having troubles finding an appropriate name for your elf there are web sites to help you. Aidan named his, Eyeball, because it is always watching him and my sister’s great-granddaughter named hers, Sheila. I think that is a wonderful name for an elf (hint—see the header above for the author of this blog) but some sibling rivalry got to my sister. We aren’t sure why she named the elf, Sheila, because I have not been around her very much but you should have seen her big eyes when I showed up at a family gathering and she learned my name.
Laura Spencer of Good Morning America found out the hard way the popularity and influence of the elf. After a story about the elf one morning they received complaints from angry viewers because she was holding the elf and they felt she disturbed its magical powers. The next day she followed up with another report explaining how it did not have a name yet but now that they have named it Gary of Good Morning America it cannot be touched. She reassured everyone that the elf still has its magical powers.
A lasting tradition?
If your family doesn’t have an Elf on the Shelf I predict that you will soon because I think this is a tradition that is here to stay.
I wrote this and posted it a year ago but lately I have been getting so many hits on it that I decided to run it again. Do you remember a visit to Santa after you had been naughty? That can strike fear in the heart of the bravest kid.
Elf on the Shelf Causes Chaos
How does Santa keep track of all those children and know who has been naughty or nice? Which girls and boys deserve the latest, hottest toys? Or, which ones missed their goal and will receive only coal in their stockings? Santa’s special agent, the elf on the shelf, is the answer.
My niece’s family adopted one of these special elves to watch over her four year old son until Christmas. They named him Eyeball and he hides in various spots around the house and then magically flies to the North Pole each night to report to the big guy. However, caution must be taken around the elves and the only rule is that they must never be touched or they will lose their magic. Each elf comes with this instruction–“There’s only one rule that you have to follow so I will come back and be here tomorrow: Please do not touch me. My magic might go, and Santa won’t hear all I’ve seen or I know.”
Armed with this information young Aidan has been on his best behavior since Thanksgiving. That is, until this week. Oh yes, he was swayed by some of his preschool buddies and fell over to the naughty side. It seems he and several other boys were being typical ornery boys and were rough-housing in the bathroom. When his mother arrived at the school to pick him up the teacher said she needed to talk with her. As she disappeared into the conference room his face fell from a big grin to absolute desolation. He was BUSTED!
On the ride home he perked up and decided he wasn’t in trouble after all because the incident happened away from home where the elf couldn’t see what he had done. But when his mother reminded him that the elf was magical and knew everything, then his mood turned to real fear. He worried and fretted about what would happen.
The next morning his mother, forgetting the events of the day before, decided it was a good time to go see Santa at the mall. Nope, he didn’t want to see Santa. He wasn’t going! He drug his feet and pouted because he knew he was really in trouble now. Santa knew everything! How could he face Santa after what he had done? Once his mother figured out why he didn’t want to see Santa she had to do some fast thinking to convince him it would be alright. She told him that this Santa they were going to see wasn’t the real Santa but his brother. OK then, that made all the difference.
We adults think we are home free and don’t have to worry about an elf on the shelf spying on us but we are wrong. We actually carry that little elf on our shoulder—it is called a conscience.