Mike’s Soapbox- I passed my English Literature CLEP today!!! Six credits in an hour and a half. 95 questions. I did awesome on the identification portion of the test, but didn’t do so well on analysis, which I’m against anyway. A poem, novel, or play isn’t supposed to mean any one specific thing, and besides the beauty of literature is that it’s interpretive. Any analysis of a literary work is instantly theoretical and opinionated. Harold Bloom may know more about Chaucer than me, but my guess about the meaning of The Canterbury Tales is about as valid as his. Sometimes the authors themselves don’t know what they’re actually writing. It just comes to them as an epiphany and they jot it down. Or the origins of the piece are a lot simpler than perceived. It’s okay to discuss the meaning of a literary work, but to place that work on a multiple-choice test and say Meaning A is more applicable than meanings B-E defeats the objectiveness of reading.
This country is getting ridiculous with the way we standardize education, especially with literature, a subject that can’t be standardized. Multiple choice tests on literature whittle down authors to simple stereotypes and only focus on their most popular works. Andrew Marvell wrote hundreds of poems and prose pieces, but if you took a test on him, chances are you’ll quizzed on “To His Coy Mistress” and nothing else. The stereotyping is downright ridiculous. Plath = suicide, Joyce= stream of consciousness, Chopin=feminism, etc. etc.. Do these write’s deserve to be pigeon-holed as such?
Literature at it’s core is a form of entertainment, with the possibility of being enlightening. It is not meant to be dissected to the point that the inherent enjoyment in it is taken away. Literature deserves much more respect than what it’s given in the schools. I think the way that literature is taught can be very discouraging to children, and that discouragement doesn’t die, but instead lingers for the rest of their lives. The illiteracy rates are absolutely appalling in this country. And of those that can read, a lot of us don’t read enough. Reading is a lot like exercising and recycling. We know it’s the right thing to do, but make excuses up to avoid it. “I don’t have time for it” or “I’d like to but”¦.” are often said more then “I will do it today”.
Do it today. Pick up a book or read a poem. Here’s one for you to chew on today from one of my faves, Phillip Larkin-
This Be the Verse
They f*ck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
But they were f*cked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.
Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.
You might have read this one English class sometime. Today, all I ask is that you sit back and enjoy. Your not being quizzed, and I’m not going to have you pick out the right meaning or anything (itÃ¢â‚¬Ëœs pretty easy anyway). Read the poem, think about it, and move along in life.
And speaking of moving along, I’m moving the Soapbox. Starting this Sunday it’s going to debut as its own column. It’ll be in the T.V. section and handle T.V. from a philosophical and emotional standpoint. Discussing different issues in the medium and such, and some other ponderings as well. I figured it’d be better to have it stand on its own and let the reviews just be reviews without this mass getting in the way. Also, I’m looking to discuss certain issues with a panel every once in awhile, ala Tough Crowd and Real Time with Bill Maher, so if you want to have yourself heard E-mail me and let me know. There will be no censorship, so the more outspoken you are the better.
Now on to the list. We’re down to the final three of my top seven Simpsons episode countdown. I’ve had both #1 and #2 chosen since I began, but the #3 has perplexed me. So many great episodes to choose from. On the one hand I’d like to pick it from a very early or more recent episode since both #1 and #2 will be coming from Season 6, but since this isn’t about balance anyway, I’m going to go with what I thought of originally, an episode from Season 7. I honestly think Seasons 4-8 were the shows golden age with very few clunkers. This particular episode is one that is so crazy in it’s plot that only the Simpsons crew could pull it off. The episode in question is-
Nov. 5th 1995
Written by Dan Greaney and Directed by Jim Reardon
The gist of it- You probably know this one as the one where gets fat. Really, really fat. That’s all there is to the episode. No sub-plots or anything. Just Homer putting on the pounds so he can claim disability and work at home.
Favorite moments- The greasy fish sandwich, Homer trying to get injured at the construction site, Bart and Lisa’s discussion on irony, Burn’s workout sessions, Homer on the ice cream truck, Homer shopping for clothes, eating Play-Doh Bart imagining his possible future (Which is funnier than the entire episode of “Bart To the Future”), the reappearance of the water-drinking bird and it’s subsequent skills in efficiency, “A Fridge Too Far” and of course “Aw no, Paul Newman’s gonna have my legs broke!”.
M.V.C.- Dr. Nick Riviera. Hi Dr. Nick!! After Dr. Hibbert tells Homer he won’t assist in his crusade for obesity, he refers him to the doctor with no scruples, Dr. Nick. One of the shows wackier characters, he’s probably been in more malpractice suits than I’d have time to mention.
What flat out sucks- The Marge sensitivity moments are awful but make sense. I wish they would’ve done more with Homer as an advocate for the obese. Also, if your not a big Homer fan, you’ll probably hate this episode since there’s little else but him in it.
Personal Thoughts- An absolute laugh riot. Fat is always funny. Farley, Belushi, Wayne Knight, some Goodman. The idea of someone getting even fatter so they don’t have to do as much work is equally funny. I wish we had more fat celebrities left, as their either dying off or going through horrific surgery. Here’s to Homer whose still big enough to make us laugh!
Top 3 Homer Obesity moments-
3. Home’s interpretation of “Under The Sea” from “Homer Bad Man”- After being wrongfully accused of sexual harrasment (because of a gummy Venus Demilo) Homer thinks of living under the sea, and when he fantasizes doing it, he eats all of the fish in the ocean.
2. Homer in hell from “Treehouse of Horror IV”- As punishment for selling his soul for a donut, Homer is sent to hell for a day and is strapped into a machine. “So you like donuts eh? Have all of the donuts in the world!!!” Hours later, Homer is still packing them in.
1. All You Can Eat from “New Kid On the Block”- Homer takes Captain McAllister to court after being kicked out of the Frying Dutchman for eating too much on all you can eat night. One of the simplest ideas is turned into one of the funniest, thanks to the ingenious script of Conan O’Brien.
Two more to go. Don’t forget to write. This weeks question: What’s your all time favorite Homer moment?