Tuesday, September 25, 2018

"As You Wish," by Cary Elwes, and Our Love Affair with 'The Princess Bride'

Greetings, to all of my friends and relations out there in Internet Land!

Today, I want to talk to you about one of my favorite books and movies, using the opportunity afforded me by reading a book by one of the main characters discussing the filming.

My exceedingly brief review of the book 'As You Wish' ONLY is posted on Amazon; this blog post is mostly about my family's love for the source material. If you DO check out my review of Elwes' book, give me a 'helpful' link if you find that possible.

I was handed this book by my firstborn son, IMMEDIATELY before I was drafted to another reading/reviewing commitment (DRAGON!) that consumed all of my time. It required a GREAT deal of discipline to set this aside, until other work was done.

In 1988, living in a rented house with a pregnant wife and a five year old son,  dollars for entertainment were hard to come by. I don't even know if cable existed in the little country community of Coal Mountain where we lived, but if it did, we couldn't afford it. Every entertainment dollar had to be spent very wisely.

And, we discovered "Princess Bride."

We all fell in love with the movie immediately;  my son and I fell hardest. We fell SO hard that we scratched up the money to rent the VHS tape as well as rental money for a player, because we couldn't afford a VCR in those days. I really couldn't tell how many times we watched it. Eventually, we were able to afford a VCR, and when (oh, delight, happiness!) 'The Princess Bride' was broadcast on TV, we made a grainy, skipping, dragging copy (lousy color, skipped scenes) and watched that until the tape eventually died. And finally, as our family persevered, we bought our own copy, first on VHS, later on DVD, and I'm gonna guess there are all KINDS of formats such as BluRay located wherever movies are scattered in our homes.

Recently, my son rejected a movie subscription service because they didn't have the rights to 'The Princess Bride.' The fact that he owns multiple copies of the film on DVD is irrelevant. A professional service would know that only an ignorant fool would accept a service without PB; my son is not an ignorant fool, so he could obviously not accept the service in front of him.

For the past 35 years, we have been greeting each other with such phrases as "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to DIE!" Our good-byes were often 'Have fun storming the castle!" Food was compared to a MLT, mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich. And to this day, I often respond to my gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant, foxy, praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA, by saying 'As you wish."
As an aside: when I was courting my gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant, foxy, praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA, there were two movies and one one book that I told her she needed to absorb if she was to understand the values of my family, and the way I fit into it. The book was 'Starship Troopers,' and I had to read that to her, because her reading tastes were elsewhere; the movies were 'The Big Leibowski,' because I am quite a bit like the character John Goodman plays, 'Walter,' and 'The Princess Bride,' because we all tend to live in Florin, a little bit, when we aren't sailing the seas as Dread Pirate Roberts.

But, flashing back to 1988: Being the sort of person who is convinced that movies from books can NEVER be as good as the original, I IMMEDIATELY set out to the library to get a copy of the book. ALAS! All I could find was Goldman's version, NOT the original work by the immortal S. Morgenstern! I looked in the libraries of two large counties, as well as the resources of a major research university; the Morgenstern could not be found. I held off as long as I could; perhaps a year or more; then I grudgingly surrendered, and accepted the bowdlerized version that hack Goldman had put out.

And I was transported once again. This time, it wasn't only the giants, and the sword fights, the torture, and the kissing that captivated me.

Instead, I began to care deeply about the little boy Billy, who couldn't find the game on the radio, over and over again, and was thus discovered to be running a fever due to an inflamed appendix. I was entranced at the story of his teacher, who had to keep coming up with new authors for him to read as he burst from his infatuation with sports to a true love affair with books. I was on tenterhooks as he related how he put on hold a beautiful young girl who was clearly signalling her availability, while he negotiated cross-country with a wife, an agent, an operator, and an irascible book dealer to obtain a copy of the book for his 10 year old son.

I felt deep compassion for the boy, at Goldman's insistence that he MUST enjoy the book, during a homecoming meal in which he berates the boy for eating too much; and simultaneously, I felt Goldman's frustration, bordering on a feeling of betrayal, when he learns that his son has NOT been able to enjoy, or even READ the book his father had loved so much as a boy.

And I was SHOCKED, SHOCKED, when I discovered that S Morgenstern's Classic Tale was so full of boring, irrelevant details that it would NEVER be popular. I wondered at the long-delayed discovery of the wisdom of the barber, who had simply bypassed those passages, so he could make the magic appear for his son. And then, later on,  I shared with the young Goldman the feeling of liberation when he realized, for the very first time, that LIFE ISN'T FAIR!

That's all back-story which is only hinted in the movie, and it's lovely, and is a good enough reason that owning the book as well as the movie is a good investment.

I actually had to do some research on Goldman to discover that NONE of the personal stuff in the book is true. Yes, the stories about his screen-writing problems could have existed, but he was not married to the brilliant doctor, and he had no obese son. I was rather pleased at that, as I really HAD felt bad for the boy when Goldman was giving him a hard time over the amount of mashed potatoes he was putting on his plate.

Even after reading the book a few times, I never got my act together enough to send a letter to the publisher, requesting the Reunion Scene between Westley and Buttercup.  Goldman mentions it as being available upon request, and urges readers to demand it from his cheap, penny-pinching publisher. HOWEVER, when the 25th anniversary edition was published, the internet was in place, and while not able to generate the enthusiasm to find an envelope and a stamp (it's a non-trivial activity), I WAS able to write an email, asking for the Reunion Scene; and, eventually, I received a reply including the chapter "Buttercup's Baby," as well as some dithering about legal issues, Stephan King, etc.

It was interesting, but hardly compelling; and the only reason I would want any more of the story would be so I could see how it all came out happily-ever-after at the end, because being sucked into a whirlpool leaves very few good outcomes.

Elwes' book is NOT an extension of the story; it's just the behind-the-scenes of the filming. Definitely worthwhile for fans.

But for me? I'm gonna watch the movie again.

Peace be on your household.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Going Fishing as an Alternative to Dying Inside

Greetings, Friends and Neighbors and Family out there in Internet Land!

In the natural course of things, we all encounter pain. Physical pain is something I am familiar with, but it deserves its' own separate post, if not a SERIES of posts. This post is about the mental/emotional/spiritual pain that we experience, and it's just as inevitable as the physical kind. Whether it's a result of Happenings, or neuro-chemistry gone bad, we all have to deal with it somehow, or we withdraw from others and die inside.

One guy decided to deal with it by going fishing.

John 21:3  Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”

Jesus meets with Peter, John, & company on the shore, in the same way that He had met them when He first called them. Up to this point, Peter hadn't seen Jesus after the Resurrection, and he was discouraged. So he goes back to doing what he knew how to do, before Jesus had called him: fishing.

Consider: He's riding on top, one of Jesus' closest friends, then all of a sudden, right when Jesus gets acclaim in riding into Jerusalem, it all turns to ashes.

Peter tells the story from this point:

"To make it worse, I deny Him, and Jesus knows it, and I knows He knows it because He had told me I was going to do it. And when He did, I acted really brave, and boasted that I would NEVER do that. Then I did it, and Jesus knows, and then they beat Him, and then they kill Him, and it's horrible. Bam. End of story. The promise of great triumphs is gone, and I'm crushed, smashed, just about destroyed.

"So, I do the only thing I have left: I go back to being a fisherman. I'm not even important enough to be a criminal. I'm just a lousy old fisherman, with a stinky boat and a stinky net. And to make matters worse, me and the boys fish all night, and don't catch anything.

"The emptiness, the grief, is almost enough for me to throw myself in the sea and drown myself. Not only can't I be a disciple, not only can't I be brave enough to stand up and say I'm a follower, I can't even catch fish anymore.

"I can't even catch a single, stinky, slimy fish. Me. Big, Bad, tough Peter. The Rock. Yeah. Some rock I turned out to be. If we weren't so close to shore, I'd jump overboard, and then I'd be a rock, all right, down to the bottom, with the slime where I belong.

"And then, when I've accepted the fact that I'm a failure at this, too, and we are headed back to shore, and I've never felt worse in my life, we hear a voice coming from the beach. It's not bad enough that I have to fail at this, but I've got an audience.

"But there's something about that voice... and it moves me. It reminds me of the first time when Jesus told me to cast my net on the other side, and I got kind of huffy about some carpenter preacher telling me how to fish. But THIS time, when the voice tells me to toss the net out on the other side, I don't complain, 'Look, I've been working hard all night, and I'm a fisherman, and I know what I'm doing, but if You say so, I'll do it.'

"Nope. I don't say anything at all, but the sweat has suddenly dried on my face, and my hands are trembling, and me and the boys toss the net out on the other side of the boat, just like we did all those years ago, and SHAZAM! The net is full of fish! And I can't move, I can't think, I can't even breathe, until John says "it's the Lord!" and then I'm so full of energy that I grab up my tunic and jump in the water, because I've got to get to Him, I've got to find Him, and tell Him I'm sorry, and I've got to do it right NOW! I can't wait for the boat, I don't care about the boat, or the fish, or even the other guys, I've got to go fall at His feet and cry my heart out, because I've been such a failure.

"I won't tell you exactly what happened in the time between me making it to shore, and the the boat making it to shore. That's between me and Him. But I will tell you that He made me a man again.

"And not just a man, but His disciple. And a guy who wasn't ever going to lie about it, not ever again.
He already had breakfast ready for us: fish and bread. How many meals had we had with Him over the years that were fish and bread? He could take a few pieces of fish and bread, and feed thousands of people.

"But that's not what He did this time. He told me to go get some of the fish that I had caught. So I did. I had to go help the other guys haul in the nets: 153 big fish, largest catch ever, and the net didn't break, and the boat didn't sink.

"You know, Jesus could have fed us all with the fish and bread He already had on the fire, but He didn't. He wanted to add some of what I caught. So I got out my knife, and cut a few fillets, and gave them to Him, and he cooked them too. Jesus could have fed us with what He already had, but He asked me to give Him some of what I had caught, fish I caught because He made it happen. But do you get it? He let me make a contribution! He was telling me that I wasn't worthless, not as a fisherman, and not as a disciple. I don't know if you can imagine what a change that was for me, in just a few minutes. One minute I'm a failure, the next minute, Jesus wants my contribution; He wants me to use my skills to feed the guys, when He could have fed the world with no help from me at all.

"He talked with me some more, and I have to admit that at the moment, it hurt my feelings when He asked me three different times if I loved Him. Of course I answered yes, all three times, but the third time, I said, 'Lord, You know all things, You know I love You.'

"And it was about then that I realized that He really did know all things, and that He had asked me three times, because before, in the courtyard that night before they killed Him, I had said I didn't even know Him three times; and it hit me that even then, when I was denying Him, He knew that I really did love Him.

"And besides asking me to give Him some of the fish I'd caught, He gave me another job: Feed His lambs, and take care of and feed His sheep. Just like He had wanted me to give Him some fish that He could have provided Himself, He was telling me that He trusted me enough to do some more things for Him.

"Then He asked me to go for a walk on the beach with Him. So I got up, and we started on the walk, and I saw John was coming along. I asked Jesus if He wanted John to come too, and I guess it must have shown that I was bugged a little bit, because I wanted some more alone time with Him, but He set me straight. He told me that it wasn't any of my business, basically. What He said was, 'Look, if I want John to hang around until I come back, what is it to you? You need to do what I tell you to do, and don't worry about what I tell other people to do, and what I'm telling you is, FOLLOW ME!'

"Sometimes I have to be told things extra times. He told me I was a rock, after all, and sometimes it's my faith, but sometimes it's my brains that are like a rock.

"I'm not going to tell you what He told me on the walk on the beach, either. John says that if we tried to write down everything Jesus said, we'd run out of paper. That's true, but it's also true that sometimes what He said was private; and that's what that last walk on the beach was like.

"One thing He did tell me is that they are going to kill me for following Him. That's pretty spooky, but He said it wasn't going to happen until I get old, so it's nothing I'm going to worry about until then; except that since I know it's going to happen, you can bet I'm going to make sure that they have a really, really good reason for doing it.

"If I'm going to die because I'm one of His boys, then you betcha I'm gonna make sure they have lots and lots of evidence to convict me. And you can bet I'm going to be kicking up some sand in their faces until then. Yeah, they'll get me in the end, but until that happens, the Rock is going to roll. "

Saturday, September 15, 2018

QUARANTINED for Fall Break!

Greetings, to all of you out there in Internet Land!

Now that I have been busted (umm, literally, as in 'busted upside the head by a projectile'), I can reveal the Practical Joke, which concluded yesterday.

 On Thursday, Auntie Tobhiyah had to pick up 12 year old Alicia Ann at cheerleading practice; bless her 12 year old heart, she was running a fever. Her fever responded to ibuprofen, and bed rest, and popsicles; but I kept her out of school on Friday anyway. I emailed her teachers to let them know why she was out, and one of them replied that this wasn't the way her Fall Break should start.

Well, I had forgotten that Fall Break was happening, and that's what gave me the idea.

I thought maybe my gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant, foxy, praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA, had forgotten about Fall Break as well, and I could use this as an opportunity to play a practical joke on her, what with being an Evil Genius.

I was wrong about her forgetfulness, but what we did worked anyway:

Alicia, and her older brother Kenneth, and I conspired together!

I found a couple of ‘QUARANTINE / Medical Warning’ documents online, and with appropriate changes made up our very own QUARANTINE posters. Kenneth taped one to the mailbox, and the other to the front door, with pink Day-Glo duct tape, exactly the same kind of tape that the Health Department uses (I'm sure).

My judicious use of large orange type and medical / legal jargon, as in:
"Cherokee County Sheriff has been granted a waiver of habeas corpus in this case, until pathology, immunohistochemistry records and specimens; radiology records and films including ..." (blah blah blah), 

amplified the message that "minor child ALICIA ANN EMIOHE is not permitted to return to school until September 24, 2018. "

Which happens to be true.... because FALL BREAK! Get it? 

It was a GREAT practical joke, of the kind where I could make certain TRUE statements to support the hoax. Such as:

  • "I wasn't able to get her to the doctor, but there are these helpline numbers you can call and talk to a nurse." 
  • "She absolutely cannot return to school until September 24!" 
  • "No, I PROMISE you I did not put those notices on the mailbox and on the door!" (That WAS true; Kenneth put them there, not me!) 

It worked long enough to take Vanessa out of her end-of-the-workweek routine. That was an added benefit, as her office has been an aggravating place recently.

I believe comic relief is always appreciated; sometimes, the appreciation just takes longer to manifest. In this case, I'm guessing appreciation manifests maybe by the time Alicia graduates. From her Ph.D. program.

And, here is the evidence; the reason the document in the top picture is rumpled is because the picture was taken after she had wadded up the sign and hit me in the head with it.

The MAILBOX poster

The FRONT DOOR poster

And we are all happy now, because, after all IT's FALL BREAK!!!

Peace be on your household.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Doctor Cedar Sanderson is Awarded Third Nobel Prize!

Apologies to our colleague Cedar Sanderson for taking a comment of hers and teasing it until it threatened me.
To find her much more rational post, click : HER blog.

She is NOT responsible for What Follows, which  is the ravings of a MASSIVELY sleep deprived mind. I haven't slept for two nights in a row, for no particular reason, and somehow have not been able to nap, either.  FAKE NEWS STARTS NOW:

"FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Stockholm, December 11, 2038. "
Sanderson receives third Nobel Prize, for Peace.
The Right Reverend Doctor Cedar Sanderson, a well-known anti-chemophobic paleomicrobiologist, accepted her third Nobel Prize, this time for Peace, in Stockholm yesterday. The Awards Committee granted Sanderson the honor by acclamation, for her solution of what will, in the future , be known as Cedar's Equation. This calculation has conclusively been shown to differentiate between public policy makers who are dishonest, and those who are merely bumbling fools, by analysis of a small writing sample on any one of five global concerns. Those not falling into either of these categories, are thereby certified as ALRC ("At Least Reasonably Competent").

Cedar's Equation Introduction. 
Sanderson released the equation during the question and answer session, following a panel discussion  at this year's Dragon Con 51, held in Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, and North Carolina (with a special satellite campus in Sauk Rapids, Minnesota). The session was the third largest this year in terms of attendance, with 17,561,1142 bracelets presenting valid registrations.  The second largest session by a slight margin was "Preserving an Independent Viewpoint for Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers, Now that the Aliens and the Fey Have Shown up to Borrow Money," with 18,021,4273 in attendance.  The top attendance at all sessions, for the sixth year in a row (ever since this program was first offered in 2032) was "I Won't Be In This One: Barefoot Johnny, G R R R R  R R vaRRRM, The Flatcat Thief, and China Mike," with 42,862,030 registrations. Fortunately, that session could be held in any location that was guaranteed to be free of  the four panelists, so overflow seating was not anticipated; however, with South Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama continuing to petition to become cohosts of DragonCon, some additional venue expansions might be necessary.

'Cedar's Equation' can be downloaded as a free app from most reputable app stores, and is also available as a macro run by Apache OpenOffice Writer 42.3.2.  Bloodless revolutions which have taken place in at least 3 townships in Canada, as well as in  the entire country of Lichtenstein, show signs of Cedar's Equation being applied.  In other polities, crowds of murmuring citizens have been observed gathering in bathrooms and Waffle House parking lots, staring intently at what appears to be a communication device of some sort. Nearly 1 million copies have been downloaded since the Dragon Con roll-out; this reporter expects that number to continue to grow, and was able to get a reaction early this morning from  from Sanderson, who also apparently expects that number to continue to grow, stating:
"I expect that number to continue to grow."

The Peace Prize will be the third Nobel Price, but the first in the Peace category, to find a place on the mantle above the Reverend Doctor's walk-in fireplace.

Sanderson's 2020 Nobel Prize for Literature. 
Her first Nobel Prize, the 2020 Nobel Prize for Literature, was awarded by a once- deadlocked selection committee.  A reliable source with private knowledge of the process has confided that after 42 secret ballots, it appeared that the members of the committee might really be incapable of picking a winner for this category. In desperation, the chairperson felt compelled to take the unprecedented step of sequestering the members of the committee to give them time to read the books under consideration. After a fairly short amount of time of being denied access to food, water, and plumbing facilities, the committee came back together for a vote. No one expected the result, however, after such a lengthy deadlock: a unanimous ballot on the first vote!  Sources close to the selection committee have said that once the actual reading got started, it was obvious that none of the other nominees had even the most basic tools needed to write a story.

ETWYRT 2024 Nobel Prize Shocker. 
The Reverend Doctor Sanderson's follow-up, the 2024 Nobel Prize  for Physiology, was a shock to the global community of health care professionals, and even more of a shock to the recipient herself. As a bit of a hobby, she had been contacting authors who had recently published books, and asking them for a favorite meal selection. She would then prepare the dish, and review the book, and post a column on both of the experiences (With LOTS of pictures!), which she entitled "Eat This While You Read That" (ETWYRT).

The discovery that this combination of  eating food and reading books had SIGNIFICANT health benefits came about by accident. A researcher at Ohio State University's Office of Food Science and Technology had contacted her for permission to use this approach as the control group in a study she was conducting on aspects of meal preparation which might possibly produce health benefits, Since the idea for each ETWYRT meal was provided by a different person, there was no collusion possible, and no apparent correlation  between components of the various meals on the plan. For the purposes of the study, therefore,  it appeared the ETWYRT meals met all the established criteria for a highly varied control diet.

After the third week of recording diet elements, along with weight, blood sugar, blood pressure, and other outcomes, researchers were disturbed when the test data for the control group began to show radically different results than the expected stability. In addition, participants in the study who had been selected randomly for assignment to an experimental group refused, stating that this was the best food they had ever eaten, and they felt better than they ever had before.

At this point, the doctoral adviser to the primary researcher recommended abandoning the project, and discarding the entire data set. Fortunately, that advice wasn't followed, although it did require an appeal the the Faculty Senate Committee on Research Ethics. The researcher completed her dissertation, and was awarded her doctorate. She is now a full Professor of Food Science at the University of Pennsylvania, and is the Chair of the Cocoa, Chocolate, and Confectionery Research Group. She is the senior technical member of the team which continues to research the ETWYRT health benefits. She and Dr. Sanderson are reported to be in negotiations for a book describing their experiences.

Her Future? Whether her streak will continue (FOUR Nobel Prizes?), no one knows for certain. We sent a team to interview her at her semi-secluded farmhouse estate, but were not able to find her at home.We met an unidentified gentleman at the door to the home (he was wearing a T-shirt labelled "First Reader;' we have not been able to determine the significance of this phrase). When we asked for a convenient time to meet with Dr. Sanderson, he appeared to consult his memory, then explained:


Not wishing to disturb him further, we complied immediately.

Closing comments. As far as I can tell, I got all of this down without starting to speak Martian,
Note: I just wen through this, after I slept most of the night and some of the day. I still feel goofy, though. I did correct a couple of typos, and I also added some links to Cedar's work.
That said, It's likely funnier to me than it is to you, although I DO hope I have brought a smile to your face. I HOPE, also, that you will take advantage of this goofy little bit of work to try your hand at critiquing. There is enough left of my functional brain ( I think) that I didn't miss any chances to write something absurd. However, if I did, would you mind pointing that out? For example, if this would have hit an entirely new level if I had just waited to add the anecdote about the yodeling veterinarian of the Alps, then feel free to bring that to my attention.

It's just about noon; I have been without sleep for two days now, but if I DON'T get something to eat, I'll be getting up every so often to conduct another Snaktrek. so I hope I will be able to recognize something edible in the kitchen.

Peace be on your household.