Thursday, July 03, 2008

What's Up Thursday - July 3, 2008

I completely forgot about this yesterday, because - and I wish I was making this up - because comics weren't in yesterday (due to the Canada Day holiday), I forgot it was Wednesday. Wednesdays have a very particular rhythm to them: go to work, get comics, go home. The pattern broke and apparently I lost all track of time. I know, I know. But let's not dwell on it, shall we? Let's instead take a short trip into the black hole of my week's experiences.

The Movie(s): I've been plowing through The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection, which contains the first five Marx Brothers movies (before Zeppo left the group). Their first feature, The Cocoanuts, is really uneven, partly due to the ridiculous romantic subplot and partly because the directors couldn't frame a scene if you gave them a right angle and a level. But the brothers really pull it off, particularly due to a great scene where Groucho and Chico go over a map of Florida. Monkey Business is a lot better, and it has some great moments (particularly Groucho's scenes with Thelma Todd, and Zeppo even gets a fairly decent part). Horse Feathers, which was my first Marx Bros. movie, is still a sentimental favourite of mine. But my very favourite, sentimental or no, is Duck Soup, which is a work of sheer comedic genius from start to finish. (I haven't watched Animal Crackers yet, but it would have to be pretty damn good to be better than Duck Soup.) The movies might get hokey at times, but they are classics for a reason.

The Book: I'm getting back into my Wodehouse, and am currently trying to polish off Very Good, Jeeves. It's another great example of very British writing, and hilarious to boot. I laugh out loud every two pages or so (often every page), particularly due to exchanges like this:

'[...]Well, as I was saying, I maintain that the rank is but the ghinea stamp and a girl's a girl for all that.'
' "For a' that", sir. The poet Burns wrote in the North British dialect.'
'Well, "a' that", then, if you prefer it."
'I have no preference in the matter, sir. It is simply that the poet Burns--'
'Never mind about the poet Burns.'
'No, sir.'
'Forget the poet Burns.'
'Very good, sir.'
'Expunge the poet burns from your mind.'
'I will do so immediately, sir.'

The most curious thing I've found about reading this book is that I had read two other Jeeves books before seeing the television series starring Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, and I had completely different images of them in my head. Now, after seeing all four series, I can't get Laurie's foppish Wooster or Fry's cool Jeeves out of my head.

The Real-Life: The Peach and I went out and wandered The Works arts festival on Friday, and I saw a few exhibits that were interesting but on the whole I was underwhelmed. Probably because we were on a schedule and could only stop in at locations that were on our walking path. Then we went out for dinner at Sofra, a Turkish restaurant downtown, and it was delicious. We had yaprak sarma, spicy feta dip with fresh-baked flatbreads, rack of lamb, chicken and lamb kebabs, bulgur wheat pilaf, grilled vegetables, and finished it all off with baklava (which were delicious) and Turkish coffee (which The Peach HATED, but not surprising). I would definitely recommend that restaurant to anyone looking for a nice place to eat in Edmonton.


Diego said...

Animal Crackers is certainly no Duck Soup. It was largely staged for the camera as if nobody had any inkling how film vs. theatre was supposed to work... of course, it was pretty close to the dawn of film. (You're welcome to borrow my copy of the Stefan Kanfer biography Groucho if you'd like a change of pace.)

Also, just having recently gone to Sofra myself, I'd like to put out there that it serves an absolutely delicious swordfish.

See? Those two comments were related.

Natalie said...

I haven't read Wodehouse but have read Jonathan Ames and he refers to Wodehouse often in his book "Wake Up, Sir" that also features a character named Jeeves.

The Doc said...

Diego, you were right: Animal Crackers is no Duck Soup. But it does have its great moments, and it's certainly staged better than The Cocoanuts was. And yes, I would like to borrow that biography if you'd be so kind.

Natalie, I haven't read Jonathan Ames, but I'll check it out. And I think you should try some Wodehouse: the early Jeeves books are collections of short stories, so it's easy to digest a couple of the stories and see if it's your kind of thing.