The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Title:  The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Author:  F. Scott Fitzgerald

Paperback:  32 pages

Date Published:  February 18, 2008

Publisher:  Juniper Grove

ISBN:  9781603550833

A nurse was sitting behind a desk in the opaque gloom of the hall.  Swallowing his shame, Mr. Button approached her.

“Good-morning,” she remarked, looking up at him pleasantly.

“Good-morning.  I -I am Mr. Button.”

At this a look of utter terror spread itself over the girl’s face.  She rose to her feet and seemed about to fly from the hall, restraining herself only with the most apparent difficulty.

“I want to see my child,” said Mr. Button.

…Ranged around the walls were half a dozen white-enameled rolling cribs, each with a tag tied at the head.

“Well,” gasped Mr. Button, “which is mine?”

“There!” said the nurse.

Mr. Button’s eyes followed her pointing finger, and this is what he saw.  Wrapped in a voluminous white blanket, and partially crammed into one of the cribs, there sat an old man apparently about seventy years of age.  His sparse hair was almost white, and from his chin dripped a long smoke-colored beard, which waved absurdly back and forth, fanned by the breeze coming in at the window.  He looked up at Mr. Button with dim, faded eyes in which lurked a puzzled question.

“Am I mad?”  thundered Mr. Button, his terror resolving into rage.  “Is this some ghastly hospital joke?”

“It doesn’t seem like a joke to us,”  replied the nurse severely.  “And I don’t know whether you’re mad or not – but that is most certainly your child.”

-“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, pages 3-4

Originally published in Collier’s,  F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” was inspired by a comment once made by Mark Twain.

Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of 80 and gradually approach 18.

Such was the beginning for the stories main character, Benjamin Button.  Born as an elderly man, much to the chagrin of his socially and financially prominent family, his father initially intends to name his newborn “Methuselah” after the longest-living biblical patriarch who died at the age of 969 years of age.

Throughout the story, Benjamin lives a life that lacks, for the most part, acceptance.  His father doesn’t accept him as  a child and insists he wear short pants and play with toys, all the while the aged young Button would rather read the Encyclopedia Britannica and smoke Cuban cigars.  At the age of 18 (though looking 50), Benjamin is run out of New Haven, Connecticut by a mob when he insists to the Yale registrar that he is indeed both a freshman and eighteen.  As he grows younger and his wife grows older, she insists he stop being different and grow old like normal people, a sentiment later echoed by his own son.

While “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” is an interesting story, it is dated in it’s language and cultural sense.  A fifty-year-old college freshman would be commended today, rather than mocked.  In a world with the Internet and Paparazzi lurking behind every bush, waiting to snap a picture of the social elite, when those same pictures are discussed for weeks and speculations are made on national television, blogs and by comedians and late-night talk show host as to whether they’ve had work done, are suffering from an eating disorder or are doing crack, the global nature of our “community” would render it impossible to notice Button’s de-aging process.

And I won’t even go into the physiological impossibility for a woman of average height, 5′ 4″ to give birth to a 5’8″ baby.  She wouldn’t have even been able to carry the baby to term.  And this same baby is born with the ability to talk intelligently, to know the difference between milk and steak, and to walk home from the hospital?  OKAY… so this story requires an incredible amount of “willingness to suspend belief”.

But, most of all…. This is a short story that I very much wish had been fleshed out into a novel.  It leaves out so much detail and is over so quickly.  I was able to read it in about an hour, as it was only 26 pages, and I judged a cartwheel contest in that hour, as well.

It is important to remember that “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” was written by Fitzgerald in the early 20s.  I thought about one of my favorite television series from my childhood, Mork and Mindy, the movie Jack and, of course, the recent film version of the short story starring Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt.

Not only did Fitzgerald take his inspiration for the story, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” from Mark Twain, but the writing style also had a Twain-esque feel to it, which was probably one of the things that helped me get through it.  All in all, I’d say, if ya got the book lying around,  read it… it’s short enough not to be a punishment… but don’t go out of your way to find a copy.  I can now watch the movie, guilt-free, and I’m betting the movie is better than the book, which feels more like a concept for a novel than a completed work.  I give “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

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Trailer for the movie version of “The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons”…  And I would definitely HAVE TO SAY that the movie is about as much “based” on Fitzgerald’s story as the story was “based” on Twain’s quote.  From what I’ve seen in the trailer, I’d have to say that it bears little resemblance to the short story, but it looks a lot more magical than the written story was.

Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure by Royce Buckingham

Title:  Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure

Author:  Royce Buckingham

Hardcover:  232 pages

Date Published:  2008

Publisher:  G. P. Putnam’s Sons (div of Penguin Young Readers Group)

ISBN:  9780399250026

PJ put on one of his father’s spare POLICE jackets. “C’mon, we’re already here.  Besides, you said it takes an hour round trip to get to the border crossing and back.  Any smugglers would probably still be forty minutes away.”

PJ was reaching to put the car into park when something moved in the darkness.  A patch of shadow shifted against a background of dark trees.  As soon as he noticed it, it was gone.  “What was that?” he said.

“What was what?” Sam said, staring into the forest.  “I can’t see a thing.  It’s pitch-black.”

PJ reached down and flipped the headlight switch.  The sudden light glared on a dark, husky human shape in front of the car.  It waved a club-shaped object and brought it down onto the metal hood of the cruiser.

Wham!

“Smuggler!” Sam yelled.

PJ’s foot was still on the gas pedal.  He jammed it down instinctively, and the car lurched forward.  There was no time for the figure to move.  Thud!  It went down like a bowling pin and disappeared beneath the bumper.

PJ hit the brakes and the police cruiser jerked to a stop.  He took a deep breath and quickly locked the door.

“You hit him!” Sam cried.

“I know,” PJ breathed, staring into the woods.

“He’s under the car!”

“I know!”

“What if he’s a farmer or something?”  Sam said.

“You’re the one who screamed that he was a smuggler.”

“How do I know who he is?”

“It’s your stupid little town!”  PJ snapped.

A low, pained growl rose from beneath the car.

“He’s alive,” PJ said, relieved.  “Let’s get out of here.”

“We can’t leave him,” Sam said.  “There’s no way he can be okay after you smushed him.”

PJ shook his head.  “Dude, I just ran over a guy in a borrowed police car.  My instincts tell me to drive far away and never speak of this again.”

-Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure by Royce Buckingham, pages 16-17

Goblins! by Royce Buckingham has been some of the most fun 200-some pages of reading I’ve had in a while.  The characters are normal, average teens who are called upon to act in extraordinary ways to save each other and to protect their world from the goblins of the UnderEarth. 

One of the things I like about this book is that there are no 100% evil bad guys in the book, they’re a mix of good and bad.  While PJ would prefer to stay out of things, he chooses to step up and take responsibility for his actions and for Sam, who was left in his care by his father.  Sam wants adventure, and bites off a lot more than he can chew, but nevertheless manages to prove he has a heart of a warrior.  The goblins have silly, descriptive names like “General Eww-Yuk,” “Slurp,” “Slouch,” “Thick,” etc,  enjoy eating humans, fighting, humans as well as each other, are dumber than a bag of hammers, yet they are extremely inquisitive and quick to learn and adapt.

Another thing that I liked about Goblins! is that the writing is simple, the details are just enough to make things easy to picture but not so thick that it bogs you down.  At times it reminds me of The Spiderwick Chronicles, and at other times Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Besides having a highly imaginative setting and great actions scenes, including 7 foot bugs-versus-human battles, it also has a great sense of humor.  It is a book with teenagers as the heroes and main characters, so the surliness and sarcasm of the age often shines through.  For instance:  When Sam is brought before General Eww-yuk by the goblin Bargle

“Have you talked to it?” Eww-yuk asked.

“Yes,” Bargle said.  “It barks the words ‘screw’ and ‘off’ … over and over.”

-Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure by Royce Buckingham, page 71

I think this book is ideal for the tweenage-early teen years, 9-14, and probably more for boys than girls, though I think Mags will enjoy and laugh at it.  I’d also like to warn that this book does contain the deaths of central characters that readers may get attached to, so if your reader is potentially sensitive to this, then you might want to wait. 

For being one of the most enjoyable, reality-suspending, relaxing books I’ve read in a long time, a book that wasn’t teaching the reader or delivering a message (if it was, I didn’t notice at all), a book that was just like losing 25 years and being on the playground again…  I give Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure by Royce Buckingham 4 out of 5 stars.  It probably won’t win any awards, but it is pure pleasure.

 

Don’t forget to sign up to win a copy of Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure in the Great Goblins! Giveaway. Contest ends 11;59 pm, May 31st, with the winner to be announced on Monday, June 1st!

FFI ~ Gummi Lice Make Me Crazy!

I’ve been stalking and stalking, refreshing and waiting for this week’s Friday Fill-In to be posted… *sigh* HURRY UP!  Watching (half-watching) Bury My Heart at Wounded Kneewhile waiting, but I can’t really pay close attention to it until I’m done with FFIs.

  And…here we go!

1. It’s cold and so I lit a fire, then the black worms came… I don’t like the black worms, they make me crazy… CRAZY? I was crazy once, so they put me in a round room.. It was cold in there, so I lit a fire… then the black worms came… I don’t like the black worms, they make me crazy… CRAZY? I was crazy once…..

2. I can’t wait to eat fresh-from-the-vine, Indiana-grown tomatoes.

3. My favorite health and beauty product is a nice loofah scrubby, pomegranate-citrus body wash, and a hot, yummy, smexy man to scrub my back :-D .

4. After number three, all I can think of is *bleep* would be a  a nice long ride.

5. Well, first of all comes right before second of all, and long before fifth or sixth of all.

6.  Renegade lice, my kids, a big can of pest spray, human-sized gummi bears, and six foot nit comb; those were the cast of characters in a recent dream and it was really bizarre, and a direct result of Robotussin and falling asleep watching a marathon of that cartoon show of the Gummi Bears.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to finishing Goblins! and writing up the review, tomorrow my plans include taking Mags to the library where they have the “Paws for Reading” activity, a volunteer brings in an animal (well-behaved sort, though Mags keeps hoping for a monkey) and children can read to the animal for 15 minutes… Maggie’s already picked out which book she’s going to read to the non-monkey animal, and Sunday, I want to take the kids to see Night at the Museum 2, then for dinner at the Chinese restaurant, China Lane, across the street from the theater!

And now for a video clip of Gummi Bears!

And a bonus Gummi, my good SL friend’s favorite songs:

Bring on the ROBO! Woooooooooo!

BTT ~ Undo that VooDoo You DIDN’T Do So Well

Booking Through Thursday

In the perfect follow-up to last week’s question, as suggested by C in DC:

Is there a book that you wish you could “unread”? One that  you disliked so thoroughly you wish you could just forget that you ever read it?

OMG… this is an easy one to answer.  The Gun Runner’s Daughter by Neil Gordon is one of those books that I wish I could unread.  There was a few hours of my life that I’ll never get back.  It’s one I read before I was blogging, but here’s my review of it from Library Thing:

She was quiet, thinking, for a long time, so long that he asked her what it was. And she answered, hesitantly: “They were beginners, you mean. Two years ago, when they hatched this thing. The problem is, if they really don’t have the will for this prosecution, they’re not going to come out and say that. They’re going to let you say it for them. By losing.”

The plot of the story is: Ronald Rosenthal sells weapons to the Muslims in Bosnia under the wink and nod of the Clinton administration. When a reporter breaks the news of the sale, the federal government arrests and prosecutes Rosenthal to cover their a–. Citizen of both the US and Israel, Rosenthal flees to Israel, where he is regarded as a folk hero. Dee Dennis, the lead prosecutor for the gov’t, realizes he had a fling with Rosenthal’s daughter, and when he talks to her to see if she’ll tell about it, they begin another tryst. Allison Rosenthal takes up the mantle of her namesake, Esther, to destroy the prosecutions case and set her father free.

Simply said: This book was absolutely horrid. The writing was thick and dense, with stops and starts that nearly made me carsick. The characters were shallow and unrelateable. Having never been a jet setting, ivy league, Washington insider, with a house in NY, DC, and Martha’s Vineyard, I really could not care less if the world burned around them. As much as I like crime novels and intrigue, this book not only couldn’t get off the ground, but it belongs 6 ft. under it.

The only good thing about this book is if there’s a blizzard and you have no heat, at least “The Gun Runner’s Daughter” is flammable.

I gave this book one star, and every once in a while I think maybe I was too harsh in my review, but then I just re-read the quote from the book and remember how much pain I was in reading it, and I decide I was more than fair on it.

How about you?  Any books you wish you could unread and get those hours of your life back?

Viral Video Wednesday ~ LOST

 

Welcome to Viral Video Wednesday, May 27th :-)  For anyone who noticed, last week’s VVW was skipped because it coincided with my book blog tour stop of They Plotted Revenge Against America, and I wanted to give the book the whole day.  But we’re back this week, and this week’s installment topic is LOST.

I am a Lostie, for sure… though not quite as much of one as some people.  I keep acquiring, but haven’t read any of, the books that are mentioned in the television series LOST.  I guess since the next season won’t start until FEBRUARY OF NEXT YEAR :-( , then I have time to read said books, but my point is that I’m a middle of the road Lostie.  I do my best to watch every episode, I’ll probably be working my way through the whole series to date between now and the next (and final) season, and trying to get caught up on a lot of the theories floating around.  I’m not so much of a fan that I’m going to build a SIM for it on SecondLife (they already have one, btw, been there… not much going on at the time), nor am I going to make a fan site, change my username to FRECKLES629, or start hiding in the bushes whenever I see a puff of black smoke nearby.  But, I do enjoy the show. :-D

So, in honor of the shows recent season finale, I’m dedicating my VVW to some of the fan and funny LOST vid clips.  I’d love for you to share your favorites, too, either leaving a link in your comment or posting a VVW on your blog and linking up :-D  So, on with the vids!

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During the first half of the series, they showed some silly Lost parodies. So I had to go on YouTube and see what other people were doing. The Fine Brothers have quite a few really funny ones, and they remind me of when we were kids playing with an incomplete set of toys. Barbies, He-Man toys, and Star Wars figures would fill in for whatever character we were lacking, and as kids, we never batted an eye. But, as an adult looking back, sometimes they were funny or even bizarre substitutions. The Fine Brothers make that very point:

Star Trek meets Heroes meets Lord of the Rings meets LOST meets Bill and Ted meets Matrix meets Back to the Future (in other words, just like the season finale :-D ):

I loved reading Mad Magazine when I was a kid, and loved it when they made a TV show. Here’s MadTV’s LOST, guest starring Jeff Probst from Survivor

And The Bohemian LOST Rhapsody, with a Weird Al Yankovic touch:

Jimmy Kimmel’s also a Lostie, and he likes to visit Hawaii… so he decided to combine the two and visit the set of LOST:

And I’ll end my VVW with this LOST clip from fellow Hoosier and Lefty, David Letterman (btw, I sat through all ten… you’ll get that if you do to ;-) ):

So, what’s your favorite thing from the show LOST? Who’s your favorite character? What’s your favorite LOST memory?

OR

Do you hate (strongly dislike) LOST and wish people’d just shut up about it already? If so, What’s wrong with you? Why do you dislike the show? :-D

Next week’s VVW topic is: I didn’t make it on American Idol, and look at me now!

Great Goblins! Giveaway

I’ve just started reading Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure by Royce Buckingham, and it’s a lot of fun. It’s a fast and easy read, and I may get Mags to do a guest review on it, as well… seems like something she’d really enjoy. It reminds me a bit of The Spiderwick Chronicles, with goblins and kids battling goblins and goblin goo all over, but it’s its own book as well.

 

Here’s a trailer for the book:

and a blurb from Amazon.com:

Sneaking out into the woods near the Canadian border, Sam and PJ come across what looks like a mutant gorilla with a bad attitude. But it’s no ape— it’s a goblin, and thousands more of them live under the earth, kept in check only by a small corps of human Guardians.
Sam finds a tunnel below the surface, and in no time he’s in the goblins’ clutches. With goblin leaders Eww-Yuk and Slurp at odds, it will take all of PJ’s strength and ingenuity to get Sam back—but then again, how hard could it be to outsmart a goblin?

Featuring the high adventure and slapstick humor that made Demonkeeper a fantasy favorite, Goblins! is a subterranean romp that will keep readers laughing as they race through the pages to see what happens next.

So, I want to share the Goblin! fun with you! I have a second, spanking-new copy to give away to a lucky winner. I think we’ll keep this one quick and easy.

  1. Leave a comment here to enter the contest.
  2. Blog this contest for an extra 3 entries, and make sure to leave a comment with the link.
  3. email 5 people or more about the contest, make sure to include me ( ibetnoonehasthisdamnid@yahoo.com )  in the CC, for another 3 entries.
  4. Post the contest and link (shortened URL: http://bit.ly/vX3Se ) on Twitter, make sure to include @thekoolaidmom in your tweet so I’ll catch it, for another 3 bonus entries.
  5. Leave a comment on the review of the book when I post it Saturday for another bonus entry.

Contest is open until 11:59 pm, EDT, and I’ll post the winners names on Monday, June 1st :-)  Good luck!

You Suck: A Love Story by Christopher Moore

Title:  You Suck:  A Love Story

Author:  Christopher Moore

Hardback:  328 pages

Date Published:  2007

Publisher:  HarperCollins

ISBN:  9780060590291

MiscellaneousYou Suck is a sequel to Moore’s book Bloodsucking Fiends.

It turned out that superhuman vampire strength came in handy when shaving a thirty-five-pound cat.  After a couple of false starts, which had them chasing Chet the huge shaving-cream-covered cat around the loft, they discovered the value of duct tape as a grooming tool.  Because of the tape, they weren’t able to shave his feet.  When they were finished, Chet looked like a big-eyed, potbellied, protohuman in fur-lined, duct-tape space boots — the feline love child of Gollum and Dobby the house-elf.

I’m not sure we needed to shave all of him,” Tommy said, sitting on the bed next to Jody as they considered the bound and shaven Chet on the floor before them.  “He looks creepy.”

“Pretty creepy,” Jody said.  “You’d better drink.  Your wounds aren’t healing.”  All her scratches, bruises, and love bites were completely healed, and except for a fleck of shaving cream here and there in her hair, she was as good as new.

“How?” Tommy asked.  “How do I know where to bite him?”

“Try the neck,” Jody said.

-You Suck:  A Love Story by Christopher Moore, pages 29-30

You Suck by Christopher Moore is a fun, light read about two young vampires in love who must face the difficult tasks of being UNDEAD in a day-slave world.  They face the HUNGER and must feed, they must deal with vampire killers, they have to find an apartment, and… for the LOVE of ALL things UNholy!  They have GOT to figure out a way to drink a cup of joe without the coffee making a forceful return trip to spooge on their shoes!

While, technically, this book is a sequel to Moore’s Bloodsucking Fiends, it is more than capable of standing alone.  The past events are mentioned in a very natural way, so that you don’t have that sense of being late to the party. 

Some of the best qualities of You Suck is the unusual characters and the way they all mix together.  Take Blue for instance:  An aging Vegas hooker whose career-prolonging gimmick is that she’s painted blue from head to toe, inspiring the reoccurring line, “Didn’t you want to bone a smurf when you were a kid?”  And then there’s Abby Normal (day slave name, Allison Green) who is the  emo/goth/vamp-wannabe minion of Jody and Tommy, our romantic heroes.  And one of my favorite characters of the book is William, the dirty, fat, drinking/stinking bum with the 35-pound cat.  William makes his money sitting in high-pedestrian areas, holding a sign that says “I’m poor and I have a huge cat” and charging passersby to touch his huge cat. 

Another quality of You Suck that I enjoyed is Moore’s sense of humor, his sarcasm and his ease-of-reading writing style.  He doesn’t take himself too serious as a writer, and mixes up the story telling from omniscient 3rd person and “Diary of a Put Upon Goth (closet perkie) Girl,” the subjective point-of-view of Abby Normal, which provides the outsider-wanting-in view.  And Abby’s journal entries are so funny, complete with self-abasement and bunny-trails and updates on her sister’s head lice problem.

You Suck:  A Love Story by Christopher Moore was my first experience with the author, but it won’t be my last :-)  In some ways, he reminds me of Janet Evanovich, who is one of my favorite “fun authors.”  I give You Suck 4 out of 5 stars :-)  It’s a fun book you can sink your teeth into ^,…,^

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The following video just really makes me chuckle.  The guy in the vid could SoOOooOoo play Jared if they ever make a movie version.

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