Sunday, May 13, 2007

my condolences, mrs. vonnegut.

Last night, after a broad variety of television shows already under the belt, Killer and I were watching an episode of "Frasier" at about 3:30 in the morning. I know. As you can imagine, it took us quite some time to get through the bitching about our friends and annoying co-workers. It had been quite some time since we had so much serious time on the couch.

As those familiar will know, the show will place a quote or phrase on a black screen before each new scene. These words, sentences, or quotes will have something to do with the following scene, no matter how small. Kind of elite in the subtle humor, but I enjoy it. So clearly I was a little flummoxed when my aunt mentioned during an episode we were watching that she didn't understand what these interspersing black screens meant. I generally informed her that there would be a reference in the following scene. She didn't get it - and I didn't have the energy to fully explain. Though with the amount of "Frasier" she watches I would think she would have picked up on it by now ["Frasier" has become somewhat of a family obsession, for which I blame my aunt and her DVDs. The early seasons - the really funny seasons you forget because the finale season of suckitude has left a nasty residual taste on your palate and you can remember nothing else. The early seasons remind you what a smart, funny, well-acted show it is. Too bad you're a scary raging Republican Kelsey. Hats off to all the other players. So now I FauxVo all the episodes on Lifetime (Thanks Lifetime! Still eternally grateful for the Golden Girls repeats!) and my aunt was just telling me she converted my sister on her recent visit and all she wanted to do was watch the DVDs - even when it was just my dad and my sister. Converted! Back to regularly scheduled programming...] Granted: not a college graduate - but still very smart. She's officially gone into early retirement (thanks German policies! Don't let the door kick you on the way out when your economy self-implodes!) and is in the entirely new career of head-hunting and making a load of money doing it. So, smart, but I just don't think she's able to pick up on the subtlety.

In last night's episode I believe the card read: "My condolences, Mr. Vonnegut." Both Killer and I turned to each other and said pretty much simultaneously, "Awwwwwwww." Though what she said next scared me, "You know what? Of our friends, you, Actress and I are the only ones who would get that." My immediate eloquent response? "Wait. What?" Killer subsequently went through our list of friends mentioning who would get the Vonnegut reference.

That is pure travesty. I was saddened beyond belief on the day I read Mr. Kurt Vonnegut had passed away. I even had "R.I.P. Mr. Vonnegut" as my status message in Gmail. Hey, I never said it was eloquent, but I needed to acknowledge it in some manner. The man is a literary hero. One of my literary heroes. It completely flummoxes me that someone would a) not have already read at least one of his books, and b) not know who he is by even just his last name.

During one of my better summers during college, I pretty much spent the summer voraciously reading through Vonnegut's books. One after the other. I loved his humour, I loved his characters, and I really loved what he was actually talking about. I love his re-curring themes and thoughts. Much more easily picked up when you're consuming them one after the other. So, you know, Kevin Smith didn't invent that idea when he has the mention of Julie Dwyer dying in the YMCA swimming pool in all of his movies. I kind of love it though.

Kurt Vonnegut was an amazingly talented writer. Not only was he a good story-teller, and ridiculously funny, he was able to write. Not something is very good at. Yes, I'm looking at you Mr. Grisham. Put your fucking laptop down and please retire. You're a disservice to the publishing industry. Kurt Vonnegut was one of the few remaining literary heroes.

Killer and I discussed this as well. Studs Terkel, turning 95 on the 16th my man! Hangin in there!, is one of the few living literary legends. Well, I feel that way. I love him. I found out one of the MDs that works in my department knows him, and I geeked the fuck out on Friday. Completely gushing about how Studs was my hero, and it was sooooooooo cool that he knew Studs and had Studs write the new intro for the MDs recently reprinted book. And how now? I was only like 3 degrees from knowing Studs!!! Put that in a fangirl voice and I believe you'll understand why MD had a mixture of incredulity with what the fuck is this girl on and a dash of why the hell isn't she geeking out over me mixed on his face (MD is a tidge of an ego-maniac. Or at least thinks he's the shit, which he kind of is, but why the 'tude dude?).

Killer and i couldn't drum up any names. Yes. There are really good authors, but an author that you could call a hero that's still alive? Nope. Very, very sad. Hang in there Studs!

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, about the card. Niles bought his father a meat gift basket to placate his father's ire over his putting Eddie in a kennel as opposed to taking care of Eddie himself as promised. The gift basket contains five different meats, and so when Niles was dropping hints of what it was, Martin excitedly asks, "The slaughterhouse five?" and Niles responds with a, "Well they don't make a slaughterhouse three."

I refuse to explain the reference. You should all know. Mr. Vonnegut you will be missed, but at least you have left us your oeuvre to enjoy in readings and re-readings for years to come. Thank you for your work. My condolences to your wife and family.


JerryNJ said...

Vonnegut is having a street dedicated to him here in NYC fyi:

Barbara Kingsolver is a good writer and she's alive. She may not be as weathered and gentrified as Vonnegut, but I feel she'll develope a sharper edge as she ages more:

Here's a long distance request you may enjoy....."What If?" by Redcar.

Happy Sunday

Anonymous said...

p.s. the webpage for the redcar tune seems to be incorrect. What if plays when you click #5 "long sleeves".....e.g.long sleeves=what if.

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