Monthly Archives: August 2011

Carry On, Jeeves – Review – ***1/2

I chose this book, a collection of 10 short stories, about half of which were re-reads, for my next review because I am getting a bit discouraged about my book total, and Wodehouses are quick and easy to read. If, come November, I’m still hopelessly far behind, I’m going to start reviewing children’s books. But anyway.

I have come to the conclusion that Jeeves is a manipulative bastard who enjoys putting his obliging and feeble-minded master in difficult situations for a laugh. I approve of this practice.

The last short was told from Jeeves’ POV, which, in my experience so far, is pretty rare. Wodehouse stories tend to run together, especially the shorts, but I am pleased to say that I was, with about 90% accuracy, able to tell which ones I had read before. I enjoyed most of the stories, but found this collection particularly repetitive.

In general, I like Wodehouse’s full-length novels better than his short stories. They let him build, they let the mix-ups get more intense and bizarre, and they’re slightly less formulaic and repetitive; the short stories have a tendency to become a bit rote when many are read in a row:

  • Bertie is happy
  • Bertie’s friend is in a jam/Bertie’s aunt or family member is being a nightmare/Bertie is accidentally engaged
  • Bertie is sad
  • Jeeves is tasked with solving the problem
  • I bet THIS time it’s too much for Jeeves!
  • a roundabout solution with a wide margin for error is pulled off without a hitch/with a hitch fully foreseen by Jeeves
  • Bertie is happy
  • Bertie gets rid of item of dress that Jeeves doesn’t like
  • Jeeves is happy
  • repeat

Bertie gets all of the blame and none of the credit, while giving in to friends and endearingly admitting to a distinct lack of brains, which makes me feel worse for him than I think we’re supposed to. Still, even when not actually laughing out loud, Wodehouse still makes me smile – his stories and tone have such a warm feeling, like coming home, and nothing ever goes too badly wrong. In this collection, there is a very strong father/son vibe between Jeeves and Wooster, especially in the earlier stories.

In short, I love Wodehouse, and this collection showcased plenty of his goodness, but it’s by no means my favourite of his efforts.

Also, it appears that Pierce Hawthorne was not he who coined the phrase “streets ahead,” as I saw it used (in the appropriate manner) on page 141, in the story “The Rummy Affair of Old Biffy” (which, incidentally, was my favourite in the collection).

Cannonball Read III: 13/52

Other Awesome Things Bulk Update

Ok, yeah, so:

I’ve gone to a Pride Parade. People there were so friendly, and even though it was 5 billion degrees, and many were carrying around squirt guns, no one sprayed me unless I clearly asked for it, which was very considerate, but oh my god there were too many people in one area, I don’t think I could do it again. It’s bad enough getting lost in a normal area, but when you can only move an inch at a time in any direction, and you tend to be known as the James May of whichever group you’re in…

I have gone to Jazz Fest.

And I’ve now gone to a Just for Laughs festival in Montreal! That was awesome, because there were less people, and it was only 100 million degrees outside. We saw shows by Tim Minchin and Craig Ferguson, and a Home Grown Comedy Competition hosted by Mark Little, in which Dave Merheje deservedly came in first, and Mark DeBonis was the rightful runner up, because they were both hilarious. Craig Ferguson was a last minute addition, which was lucky. Basically, being unable (and unwilling) to navigate the Just for Laughs mess of a website saved me $20, because I got the tickets cheap. Unfortunately, Ferguson was at 7, and Minchin was at 9, and as we have discussed, I have no sense of direction, so I spent a great deal of time amusing security guards, disproving laws of probability by choosing the wrong of two directions 100% of the time, running from one end of the complex to the other, being told I had gone completely the wrong way, and running back, skidding into theatre entrances, and being told that the show hadn’t started yet and I should relax. I’m a shorter, more female Kramer without the racism! Sigh.

Anyway, so Craig Ferguson (who I have had a crush on since the Drew Carey show, because I am THAT sophisticated, cool, and discerning) was introduced by Eddie Izzard, so I thought to myself, “Sweet! Bonus comedian!” But then it turned out that his show, Craig Ferguson’s International House of Comedy (which we were told by the announcer was part of their elite Gala Videotron comedy thing; so wooOOOOoooo), was actually full of bonus comedians (thankfully there was plenty of Craig standup as well): Adam Hills, Danny Bhoy, Nina Conti, Russell Howard, Ryan Belleville, and Randy Kagan. And then to Tim Minchin! Also, it turns out, introduced by Eddie Izzard. Perhaps because he’s the only comic who knows how to speak French? Anyway, he was making the rounds, because I left Ferguson 10 minutes early, and I still barely made it in time for the show. Although I did go the wrong way first.

I have also accidentally set a World Record! This wasn’t on my list because I’ve actually done it once before, with the certificate, shirt, and hardcover World Record Book to prove it (although we have since been beaten), but this is the first time I didn’t do it on purpose. Basically, we were wondering around Montreal on the way to the Homegrown comp, and we passed a bunch of people waving around green and red ukuleles while a band at the main stage sang Feliz Navidad, which, needless to say, caught our attention. So we ended up in a short line, someone shoved two red ukes at us, and the next thing we knew they were announcing that they had given away all 1000 of the instruments, and these were the chords we would need to play for 5 minutes to break the world record. Done and done.

We’re at 3:38.

And finally, the reason for the trip to Montreal in the first place, what I have in my notes as “Pixar thing.” This will get its own blog post later.

I Know I Am, But What Are You? – Review – ***1/2

I still remember the first Samantha Bee segment I saw on the Daily Show. It was about gay penguins (this clip was later re-used in a more recent episode, but I’m talking about the first time through), and I thought it was merely ok. No Colbert or Helms, but what the hey, she’s new. In the years since, Bee has become one of, if not, my favourite correspondent(s). Unfortunately, this may have more to do with the fact that many of my favourites have left, and a general lack of interest in the new-comers (except for John Oliver, I know, I’m so original; some of the others have their moments, too), than Bee’s comic chops, but that statement does her a disservice, because she is very, very good. [Maybe my reviewing gimmick will be “unintentionally mean girl.”]

This book is similar to her pieces in tone, but the subject matter is less off-the-wall, which makes sense, as this is a short-essay memoir in the vein of David Sedaris’ works. It has hits and misses, but it made me chuckle pretty consistently throughout, and I inhaled it in a day. I think my favourite stories were the first one, Camp Summer Fun, The Birds and the Bee, and When Animals Attack (the last story). There are twelve short stories arranged in roughly chronological order, and each has something to recommend them. Bee has led a moderately unusual life, which, combined with her talent for storytelling, means there’s something in here for voyeurs (who want all the dirty details about any celebrity life), fellow odd-balls (who can relate), and even normal people because regardless of the circumstances, Bee is relatable, friendly, and funny, and who wouldn’t want to spend a couple hundred pages with that?

*Side note: One of these days, I am going to have to find a book that I LOATHE because none of these reviews have really been scathing since maybe the first one. I miss righteous artistic anger.

Cannonball Read III: 12/52

100 things to do in 1000 days; #61: Get a bottle of vitamins and finish it without missing a single day.

Counting this as done, even though I missed two days (well, nights, since that’s when I take them), as both nights I missed I was unexpectedly sleeping over at a friend and didn’t have them with me. But I REMEMBERED that I should be taking them, so I’m counting it.