Friday, August 25, 2006


8:40 am - It's Thursday and I'm once again home sick. I was out Tuesday, went in on Wednesday, home again today because I went back in too early.

I pretty much knew as soon as I started driving to work on Wednesday that I wasn't as healthy as I thought I was. I was like the person who goes to a restaurant, has dinner and a few drinks, and who doesn't realize how much the drinks have affected him until he gets up from the table and walks outside.

(If I really wanted to strain, I could have come up with a better analogy. But I didn't.)

So, anyway, here I am again. If you're reading this on Friday, then you know that's the day I went back to work again. If Monday, you know that I was sick for the weekend. If you're not reading this, I died.

8:54 am - I've been reading Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Or, at least, trying to do so. It's one of the most godawful books ever written.

The premise is genius. I assume there isn't anybody unacquainted with it, as it has been a part of our collective pop culture for more than 70 years, ever since Boris Karloff portrayed the monster on film. There have been a slew of subsequent cinematic renderings, each purporting to follow Shelley's story more than the previous incarnation. Mad scientist sews body parts together and brings a sad creature to life. The creature causes much grief, thus proving that we should leave the life-creating to those better suited for it, such as God. Good stuff, filled to the brim with moral quandaries and soul searching, with enough gore to keep the sermon interesting.

The book, though, is written in a stilted and flowery romantic prose that is stultifyingly hard to slog through. The creature is actually seen in only a few paragraphs during the 67 pages (of 165 or so) that I have been able to drag myself through thus far. The creation of the monster is given extremely short shrift, with Shelley having Victor Frankenstein - who is also the narrator - seeing him come to life and then more-or-less letting him wander away of his own accord, the dumbbell. We are then - months later - treated to news of the murder of his younger brother, which Frankenstein assumes to have been done by the monster although he has no evidence whatsoever to pin this supposition upon. He then beats himself up mentally, same as he's been doing - to tears of boredom on the reader's part - since page one.

Perhaps, as I finish the book - which I will do, if only because I want to find out how faithful the movies, if any, have been to the original - it will all come together in such a magnificent way that I will not only forgive the preceding mush but cheer it's existence as necessary. I doubt it, though.

All in all, it is a horribly inept treatment of a concept so spectacular that it lived on despite the quality of the writing. She had a great idea, but she sure was a lousy writer.

(Of course, I say all of the above knowing that I wrote this thing... which Mary Shelley could rightfully squat over and piss on.)

10:11 am - Just finished reading another 8 or 9 pages. Frankenstein has confronted the monster in the Swiss Alps. The monster has convinced him to hear his tale of woe, which he has been recounting in a sort of King James Bible type of speech filled with thee's, thou's, thy's and other assorted unnecessary baggage that would make Strunk and White spin in their graves. And, as the monster unfolds his tale for Frankenstein, he drops this manner of speech after about two pages. Shelley isn't even consistent in her bad voices.

I'll grant that it's definitely more interesting than it previously was, but it's still pretty bad. I'm going to finish the damned thing and then take a nap. See you later in the day.

2:40 pm - Man, I am having vivid dreams. No, none of them involve freaks sown together with bolts coming out of their necks. They aren't nightmares, per se, but they have a nightmarish quality to them. Full of jump cuts and jerky motion, but also filled with people I loved. I say, "loved" because they have appearances by dead people. My father, my grandfather, the cat I had as a childhood pet - who doesn't rightly qualify as "“people", I suppose, but you get the idea.

My father was trying to give me some sort of religious advice, in a room whose walls were papered with tracts written in gothic script. I have no idea what exactly he was trying to tell me, but he was smiling constantly while trying to impart whatever advice it was. Scene change and my grandfather, from my mother'’s side, was giving away candy for Christmas presents. He was very happy, too, although he was dismayed that his favorite candy - some sort of cinnamon taffy-like concoction - didn't taste like it did when he was a kid; not hot enough. As I was leaving, I found a piece of the old-fashioned candy and gave it to him, and this pleased him mightily. Then I was feeding the cat - no, not cinnamon taffy - in the house I grew up in. From there, to a cruise ship where MY WIFE (yes, actual living people were in the dreams, too) had accepted some sort of bet concerning keeping her footing while walking through the waves outside the boat, which were like 60 feet high and causing the boat to rock viciously. The bet had been proposed by my softball buddy, Fred Goodman, and declined by a couple of other people I couldn't identify. They were all dressed in tuxedoes. And then I was exchanging Christmas gifts with my mother and grandmother and some other folks and being loaded down with so many of them that I had to leave before I couldn't carry them at all and got crushed under the weight.

I must be trying to work out some problem or another, but I'll be damned if I can figure out what it is. And I know - other people's dreams are one of the most boring things on earth. Not as boring as Frankenstein, though.

3:10 pm - Little League World Series is on. It's the international division semi-final of Japan vs. Saudi Arabia. If you haven't been following this at all, I should tell you about one of the more interesting stories.

The Saudi team, which is mostly comprised of sons of American soldiers and overseas workers, has a player who is 6' 8" and weighs 250 pounds. He is the Little League maximum age - thirteen years old. His name is Aaron Durley and he plays first base. They've shown a comparison of young Durley with Shaquille O'Neal at the same age. O'Neal wore a size 16 shoe, while Durley wears a 19.

They just showed a shot of Torii Hunter, from the Minnesota Twins, visiting the Saudi dugout. Durley towers over him. The word is that, after the series, he will go to live with some relatives in Houston, pursuing a school basketball career, while his folks go back to Saudi Arabia.

He seems like a very nice kid. In interviews, of which there have been too many for the kid's comfort, he comes across as polite, respectful and quite well-spoken for someone so young. One other interesting thing is that the entire Saudi team has bleached their hair blond. Durley is already 6' 8" and the only black kid on his team. Blond hair on top of that? How can you not root for this kid? I mean, the first thought that enters everybody's head upon seeing him is that he can't possibly be within the age limit and is a cheat of some sort. It can't be easy for him to stand out as much as he does, as no kid that age wants to be so noticeable. I hope the move from the relatively sheltered life he probably has in Saudi Arabia to the more varied life in Houston is beneficial for him.

3:44 pm - The thing about sitting here with this cold or flu, or whatever the heck it is I've got, is that I feel well enough to be doing something, but nothing really useful. I know that if I was in work today, I'd feel all washed out and tired and I'd definitely want to be home instead. However, being at home makes me feel guilty and like I could be in work if I just sucked it up a bit. Frickin' protestant work ethic combined with Catholic guilt.

4:02 pm - In a 0 - 0 tie, with two outs, a Saudi kid just ran through his coach's stop sign at third base. Out at the plate by a good five feet and...

They just showed the replay. The coach was waving the kid around the whole way, until the kid was a step past him and then he threw up the stop sign. Not the kid's fault at all. And now they're showing the coach in the dugout telling the kid not to run through the stop sign. Ugh.

And Japan has started their part of the fourth inning with a rally, which is the sort of thing that happens more often than not when one team screws up. The first two Japanese batters have reached on infield errors and now a single from the third batter has scored both of them. I'm afraid the Saudi bubble is about to burst in an ugly fashion.

And the Saudi pitcher has worked his way out of it without further damage. Nice job! I'm going to just sit back and watch the rest of this. See you after the game.

5:10 pm - The Japanese pitcher hit a home run in the top of the sixth, scoring two insurance runs, after the Saudis had closed it to 2 - 1 in the bottom of the fifth. The Saudis didn't go quietly in the bottom of the inning, getting the tying run to the plate with two outs. However, it ended on a strikeout and the Japanese will now meet Mexico - whom they beat 6 - 1 during pool play - in the international final on Saturday.

Later tonight Portsmouth, New Hampshire, plays for the right to go to the American final.

7:45 pm - Just finished reading Frankenstein. There are holes in this story big enough to drive whole fleets of Mack trucks through - and they could be doing wheelies and donuts, too. I've gone on about it too much already. Sorry. Bottom line? Great idea, hideous execution. See the movie - any of them. It is one of the rare instances wherein Hollywood was completely correct to do a re-write.

10:12 pm - Portsmouth lost, Georgia won. They go up against the Oregon team, Saturday afternoon on ABC, for the right to represent America in the finals.

Meanwhile, I'm going to watch Futurama and then go to bed. I'm definitely going to work tomorrow. If I sit around for another day, writing crap like this, I won't be doing anyone any good.

See you Monday.


Stu said...

Dude, lousy illness, great post! Thanks for expanding your posts and writing more freely. These are some terrific reads. Thanks for keeping it real, and for giving it away (although I'd be more than happy to pay Barnes & Noble prices for a book or ten of your prose)...

Also, Frankenstein is a romantic tale, where Mary is writing about her fantasy of a man who is courageous, and yet immoral. Dr. Frankenstein is a man who challenges the very position of G-d. Mary was 19 when she wrote it, and it uses the Romantic period of literature as a springboard towards a Nostradamus-like moment, as her intent is to warn people of the horrible effects of the Industrial Revolution (remember that the subtitle of the novel is The Modern Prometheus). For 19, I think Mary Shelley was brilliant.

Suldog said...

First, thank you for the kind words.

Second, I hope I made it clear that Shelley had a great concept. I'm just annoyed at how much better the execution could have been if it had been in the hands of a more mature writer.

For instance, I think part of the problem was the intended audience. She was originally writing for Percy Shelley and a couple of other friends, not a mass audience. She included quite a few references to their works within her work, which is the sort of thing that someone whose original intent was publication may not have done.

Stu said...

Fair enough. Maybe I just didn't see that at first pass of your post. I agree with your points. Maybe she had a crappy editor. Maybe she was too stubborn.

Time for a hamburger.