Unbelievable

Exhibit 15.4

Let me ask you this, how attractive is Robert Redford? I mean, I get that he’s pretty attractive. Nobody here is arguing that he isn’t. As much as I have opinions about such things, I’m a Paul Newman guy, but I could understand if you prefer Redford. Fine.

(Ed note: I definitely have opinions about such things).

I ask because over the holiday break I watched Three Days of the Condor–appropriately, it turned out to be a bit of a Christmas movie–and it features perhaps the most unlikely seduction this side of Lyle Lovett and Julia Roberts. (Zing! Call me, Jay.)

So Redford is attractive, but is he four-hours-ago-he-stuck-me-up-at-gunpoint-and-then-made-me-drive-home-when-I-was-supposed-to-go-skiing-with-my-very-understanding-boyfriend-in-Vermont-over-Christmas-and-I-thought-he-was-going-to-rape-me-but-now-he-is-telling-me-some-paranoid-story-about-the-CIA-oh-no-he-has-tied-me-up-and-gagged-me-but-is-gone-for-hours-now-he-is-back-and-is-holding-a-gun-to-me-so-that-I-lie-to-my-very-understanding-boyfriend-oh-no-I’m-in-love-with-him-I-hope-I-get-the-opportunity-to-cheat-on-my-very-understanding-boyfriend-with-this-violent-paranoid-maybe-rapist attractive?

If you want to see the (very PG) love scene (now with more wistful saxophones and moody black-and-white photography!) it’s on YouTube here. Mostly it’s interesting for featuring what Robert Redford’s species calls kissing.

It’s not what you and I call kissing.

Keep in mind that’s what you’re in for if he ever puts a gun to your back and starts babbling about the CIA. You can’t help it.

1 Comment / Posted in Movies, Unbelievable, Very

Exhibit 10.15

Forever

This is the first book that has made me really regret being in the company’s book club. And it’s not that it’s awful, exactly, just that it’s the sort of consensus book that any group of readers will inevitably gravitate toward. It’s a bestseller. It’s high-concept without literary pretense. It’s got sex and violence and spooky. It’s vaguely timely.

It’s also pretty much bullocks. Our hero–a label I often use as a synonym for protagonist but here I literally mean hero– is a young Irishman in the mid-1700s who finds out he’s not Catholic or Protestant but some kind of ill-defined tribal/Gaelic thing. Oh, and Jewish. There’s probably an offensive joke to be made given these surprising developments, but there’s very little humor to be had in these pages as our hero is too busy being wronged and then avenging wrongs. After his father is murdered, our hero follows his killer to colonial Manhattan but not before befriending a mysterious slave. How to describe the slave…hmm…did you see The Green Mile? The Legend of Bagger Vance? No? Well, let’s just say he’s magical. And a negro. So, yeah, some kind of magical negro basically.

After avenging his father’s death–for the moment, at least, we’re told that his tribe requires him to kill any and all male heirs as well. This is remarkably nonsensical for revenge purposes but great for tying a plot together!–our wounded hero is saved by Bagger Vance who, without even asking, grants him eternal life on the condition that he never leaves Manhattan. Um, thanks, Bagger.

It should be mentioned that this is nearly half way through the book and the American revolution hasn’t happened yet. This lallygagging through the beginning and ending of the story forces the novel to move quickly through the intervening centuries but not first without the obligatory cameos from George Washington and Boss Tweed. Mostly our hero, like The Dude, abides until the day Bagger returns to set him free. Eventually the book settles into post-millennial New York where our man has established a comfortable, anonymous existence as a sometime reporter, sometime playboy who mostly just seems miserable with still having to be alive. As the reader surely feels the same way, it would be nice if everyone just got put out of their misery a little sooner, but that can’t happen until a scion of his enemy appears in New York, he meets a long prophesied woman, and something happens during the second week of September 2001.

It’s that event, used here as a shameless attempt to insert drama into the languid final pages, that looms largest in the last section. The character literally can’t take two steps without pausing to look at the majestic towers. I’m reminded of this Onion article. When not looking at the towers, the author fulfills his contractual obligation to J&R Music World by repeatedly mentioning the store. I’m not joking, he mentions the full name of the store at least 10 times, as if everyone in Manhattan runs around navigating by using J&R Music World as a point of reference.

“Well, just go eight blocks past J&R Music World and then take a right. Walk another four blocks to the north of J&R Music World, then take a right, walk eight blocks in the direction of J&R Music World, and then walk four blocks south and you’ll have reached the J&R Music World. Seriously, they’ve got great deals on Sony Walkmans.”

Okay, so maybe that wasn’t a direct quote.

The worst part–maybe, there’s a lot of competition–is that our immortal hero who has lived through 300 years finds himself nostalgic for Charlie Parker and Willie Mays. He laments that “the kids” don’t know these bastions of American history. Apparently not even the immortal are free from white, middle-class, boomer nostalgia. I try not to swear on this blog, but seriously, fuck you, guy who wrote this.

On top of it all, the book ends poorly on a note of ambiguity. Basically we’ve spent 600 pages waiting to know if this guy is going to kill off the family of the man who murdered his father and if he’s ever going to die and the book tells us…maybe. Well, maybe I think that’s an absurd copout for a book that could have allowed itself at least one risky move. Apparently that part of the book was cut out to allow more space for condescension toward Africans and the Irish. I’d actually like to imagine that this is how the entire book was edited down from a 2,000 page manuscript to a scant 600 pages.

Should I include the scene where the character does something unexpected, the guy who wrote this asks himself. No, I should instead include the scene where the character draws prostitute vaginas.

I’m not joking. Sadly, neither was the guy who wrote this.

1 Comment / Posted in Books, Fiction, Unbelievable

Exhibit 5.15

DOLPHINS WIN! DOLPHINS WIN!

2 Comments / Posted in Heart Attacks, Sports, Unbelievable