A Tale of Two Cities
The Complete Short Stories
Fahrenheit 451
Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Navigators of Dune
End of Watch
The Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One Nights
Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights
Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare
King Henry VI, Part 3
King Henry VI, Part 2
Henry VI, Part 1
King Henry IV, Part Two
King Henry IV, Part 1
Richard II
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America
The Rosie Effect
On the Nature of Things
So Anyway


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Truman Show Analysis

Analysis of The Truman Show

Despite the real-world promotions and advertisements that almost "give away" the secret that Truman is actually supposed to be living in a reality television bubble, I believe what we are actually seeing is Truman slowly descending into mental illness.

I'm not an expert on what type of mental illness he is suffering from, I'll leave that to someone else, but I believe I can show examples of what I believe is truly going on behind the scenes of the Truman Show.

A cautionary tale concerning the paparazzi and our obsession with fame and reality TV? A man who is battling mental illness? Or a man who is struggling and finds God at the end as his savior?

General thoughtsTruman lives a sad pathetic do-nothing life. His delusion is literally the manifestation of a man whose life is not worth watching, believing that he actually is important enough that the whole world watches and hangs on his every move. This fantasy gives his life purpose and meaning. His psychological scarring to prevent his leaving the island is now not his fault. It was imposed on him by his handlers, so instead of being a suffering loser he is an abused martyr.

Specific Arguments
  • I know as the viewer we are supposed to "suspend our disbelief" with this premise, but if you think about it in a practical sense, why would this show that is supposed to be the #1 show in the world, actually exist as such? Truman does not have an interesting life. I could see if his life was Hugh Hefner, or Bear Grills, or anyone who actually did something interesting, entertaining or laudable. Think about it; even if you were a fan of Hugh Hefner, would you watch his life 24/7 as the entire world seems to do with Truman?
  • Everything we see in Truman seems to happen over a 24-48 hour timespan. How can Truman go his entire life never knowing his status and, apparently, there being no clues for him to grasp, and then everything goes wrong and he gets all these clues at the same time? It starts with the prop-light that falls from overhead that the radio later tells us came from a passing airplane. Why is this so far-fetched? Debris falls from overhead machinery and planes in a busy city all the time. So if my house gets hit with a piece of debris from a plane I am actually supposed to understand that I am in a TV show?
  • There is a scene as he drives to work one morning with the camera looking at him from behind the radio dials. Truman accidentally overhears the radio chatter that follows him until they change frequencies.  Again, think on that coincidence. He turns on to a street at the same time he hears someone on the radio say the street name. Why is that at all remarkable? Have you ever hummed a song and then it comes on the radio or TV? Have you ever wondered "what happened to Kevin." and then Kevin calls you out of the blue for no reason? This scene that shows everyone in Truman's world having an earpiece is also critical to my next point:
  • After he begins to "suspect", he traps his wife in the car and tells her to watch as he predicts the movements of a woman on a bike and a car with a dented fender that are on a "loop" and are repeating their movements. We already know there are cameras in the car and that everyone in the world can see and hear Truman, so if he told his wife to look for the lady and the car, why couldn't the repeating actions be changed or called off? Surely the "actors" in his world know where he is at all times so why would anyone obviously "circle" him repetitively and suspiciously and not know enough to vary the routine. Surely Kristoff would have told them to stop.
  • It is the same with the Bus Scene. Truman, even more suspicious, wanders in a daze into the street and a bus stops so it doesn't hit him. He holds up his hand to "make" the bus and a passing car stop, which they do, supposedly proving the point to Truman. Again, what do you think would happen if I wandered into the street today and held up my hand? Watch the scene again. No one in that scene does anything untoward or abnormal. They all respond exactly how they would if a real person did that to them in real life.
  • It's the same when he walks into the high-rise and sees a false back to an elevator and he hits a man in the butt with his briefcase as he runs away. If you were an "actor" in this world, it's possible, and even likely for some people that Truman will interact with them. A man he bumps into on the street, people in traffic, colleagues at work etc. He's likely to need to interact with people. So why wouldn't these people be told to act "normal"? The fellow could have objected or at least responded; "Hey" and that would have been a more normal response.  And as for the elevator itself, it again assumes that in a world where everyone is focused on Truman, no one thought enough to lock the door, or to not pull away the back of the elevator prop etc.
  • We see a scene where everyone in sight is staying perfectly still. Men in mid-step, women on bikes but stopped. People are frozen waiting for the arrival or Truman so they can start to move however they are supposed to move. If this was a set or stage, wouldn't people be chatting? Or having a smoke? Or dpoing something more normal before the director yells "Action"?
  • And about the girl that Truman falls in love with. Lets examine that relationship for a second. She is a "trouble maker", she gets hustled off away at the dance so she can't talk to Truman and expose his truth. She is obviously a threat and is taken from him. Are we then supposed to believe that this same girl is "accidentally" sitting next to Truman at the library the following night? Why would the producers allow that, knowing she is a risk? It just would not happen in an organized controlled and structured world like Truman's.
  • Even in how people, the few that there are, try to warn Truman or make him aware. They speak very cryptically with no clear message, or they speak with words that can be interpreted different ways. Why does the girl whisper to Truman at the library when she tries to warn him? If she's saving him and blowing his cover, so to speak, why whisper and be all shy about it? Why not just shout it plainly and clearly? Couldn't she have told him when they were on their way to the beach? How long does it take to say; "I know this sounds nuts, but you're really the central point of a live television program. We are all actors, you are kept unaware". Instead people shout out generalities like "Truman, its not real" and "Truman don't listen to them they lie" and other things that he dismisses. The statement XXX's father says when he grabs her from the beach "She has episodes and does this all the time" might actually be a true response.
  • Commercial talk is not as "rare" as you might think. Just being aware of it, it does not take long before you hear someone around you say something that is close to TV speak. Someone raves about a new device, or clothing, it happens all the time. So Truman's friend looking at him and saying "That's a beer" in the context of the movie is supposed to be telling, but people say things like that all the time.
  • Kristoff - simply put, is God. "Kristoff", Krist", "Christ". The man who controls everything. Think about their control room for a moment. In a "show" that probably takes more money and resources than most small countries, we see that there are 3 people in the control room making decisions for Truman. 3! I work in a retail store that does 5K on an average day and we have 6 people working for us. The God theory is very plain at the end when Truman hears Kristoff speaking through a loudspeaker. This is an obvious God metaphor if there ever was one. The all-knowing voice of God and the man beneath asking for guidance.
In the end, whatever you think of Truman, he leaves us with his signature geek-catchphrase. "In case I don't see you, good afternoon good evening and good night". I see this as an optimistic line. It means that whatever has happened to Truman, whether the whole movie is literal and he has proven all his paranoia as real, or he is suffering from mental illness and manages to beat it at the end, it means he is going to stay the same essential person and not be changed by his experience which is a brave stance. He's not bitter, he's not resentful, he doesn't threaten legal action, he's just a nice guy and is going to stay that way.

The Interesting thing is that once Truman "leaves" his show, if this would happen in the real world, he would achieve instant wealth and fame and be put under another microscope as the famous are today. Perhaps less invasive as the one in his bathroom but not far off.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Iliad

The Iliad

One of my all-time favorite books, and one of my all-time favorite gifts to ever receive. A friend of mine gave me this last year as a present since they knew of my penchant for books and that this was one of my top picks. 5 volumes, looks like at some point the 3rd volume had been repaired on the spine but the inner pages of all the books are in excellent condition.
And, best of all, check out the title page. I had to do a double-take on the copyright date. 1806. Yes... a true antique. Twice over. over 200 years old and still in excellent shape!

store pics

Saturday, December 17, 2016

So, Anyway... - John Cleese

So, Anyway...
by John Cleese

Doubleday Canada
September 29, 2015 

From the Publisher 
The autobiography of comedy legend John Cleese.

John Cleese's huge comedic influence has stretched across generations; his sharp irreverent eye and the unique brand of physical comedy he perfected with Monty Python, on Fawlty Towers, and beyond now seem written into comedy's DNA. In this rollicking memoir, So, Anyway..., Cleese takes readers on a Grand Tour of his ascent in the entertainment world, from his humble beginnings in a sleepy English town and his early comedic days at Cambridge University (with future Python partner Graham Chapman), to the founding of the landmark comedy troupe that would propel him to worldwide renown.

Cleese was just days away from graduating Cambridge and setting off on a law career when he was visited by two BBC executives, who offered him a job writing comedy for radio. That encounter--and a near-simultaneous offer to take his university humour revue to London's famed West End--propelled him down a different path, cutting his teeth writing for stars such as David Frost and Peter Sellers, and eventually joining the five other Pythons to pioneer a new kind of comedy that prized invention, silliness, and absurdity. Along the way, he found his first true love with the actress Connie Booth and transformed himself from a reluctant performer to a world-class actor and back again.

Twisting and turning through surprising stories and hilarious digressions--with some brief pauses along the way that comprise a fascinating primer on what's funny and why--this story of a young man's journey to the pinnacle of comedy is a masterly performance by a master performer.

Smell The Book Review

8.5 out of 10

e."  P243

8.5 out of 10


Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Arabian Nights

Overall, it was an enjoyable read. I went into it knowing it was a collection of ancient myths, parables and other such lore, all framed within the famous story of the concubine Scherazade keeping herself alive by telling the king what is not necessarily a never ending story, but rather that she ends each story with a sort of: "Well if you liked THAT tale, have you heard the one about..." and then the next chapter continues.
It was interesting to read some of the original tales, or to see where they came from. Stories about genies, Aladdin and the lamp, The Seven Voyages of Sinbad, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, the original "three wishes" kind of stories. These stories all originated here so from a historical context it was interesting when I'd read a tale and realize: "Oh! THAT'S where that came from", which is somewhat the same reaction I had when I started getting more into Shakespeare and seeing how pervasive the ideas and stories are. I doubt Disney would exist without borrowing ideas from this text!
If there was a problem for me, it is that the collection (not a total compilation by any means as I have read there are much longer versions available with much more stories), the tales do get repetitive. With the same moral, the same type of protagonist. A merchant is greedy with his clients and gets his comeuppance, a king and people in power get outwitted by simpler folk. Almost every tale has a woman who is "beyond belief in her beauty", or a young male who is beyond handsome and almost impossible to look on either of them without falling in love. Genies interfere or help etc. They got a little predictable and a little dry by the end.


The Last Good Country
"Do you think you'll ever make enough money writing?"
"If I get good enough."
"Couldn't you maybe make it if you wrote cheerfuller things? That isn't my opinion. Our mother said everything you wrote is morbid."
From The Short Strories

Have to blog...

Its always a great feeling to "discover" a new author. Sometimes even if that author has been around for years but you've just never had the chance to read them. It's a particular treat to find an author that has a nice extensive library to catch up with.

Such is the condition I find myself in after "discovering" Ernest Hemingway.  On a whim, when I had spare cash and was building my hard copy library, I found an updated book that collected all of the short stories by Hemingway. I figured what better way to decide if I liked an author that with these short glimpses into the variety of his imagination. I started reading the stories and have been, to say the least, what is the word? "Enchanted". Captured" "hooked" at least. His prose is a little different than I expected, and I find myself surprised by the occasional n-word or other such racial slur that was a sample form the times he wrote in. But the works are almost dark, very powerful. Some of the stories I had to re-read as I felt I missed the point. His knowledge on bullfighting, camping and outdoor survival come through very strongly and he seems to be a rugged "man's man" type.

His stories are not light hearted, in fact I recall that the first 4 stories in the book involve death or a murder. Certainly tales that make you reflect.

But overall I am pleasantly surprised to have so much from this author to catch up on.