From The Music Man to The Wire: Ten Links

1. When I was 14 and a freshman in high school, we did a production of The Music Man. Before auditions I watched the movie and decided I wanted the part of Eulalie McKecknie Shinn, the mayor’s wife, mainly because there’s a musical number, “Pick-A-Little, Talk-A-Little” in which the ladies of the town go off on indecent literature, and there’s the famous refrain, “Chaucer! Rabelais! BaaaaalZAC!” and the one who got to bellow “BaaaaalZAC!” was the mayor’s wife. Plus she got to wear great hats. I didn’t get that part, and was instead stuck being Ethel Toffelmier, and therefore only got to exclaim “Rabelais!” yet over the years I have managed to recover from the disappointment. I’m not really sure why I’m telling you all of this, except to say that back then I didn’t know who any of those writers were, but now I do. And here’s a really interesting article about the man behind the name I never got to bellow onstage: Honore de Balzac.

2. Steve Martin’s memoir, Born Standing Up has recently been released in paperback. He gives a short reading and talks to NPR about the book and his work here.

3. On the 30th anniversary of his classic The Stand, Stephen King talks with Salon about the book, and about politics and religion.

4. I love words. Swear words especially. So here’s a bit from The Atlantic: Freedom’s Curse. (By the way, I am on a personal crusade to restore the word “drat” to common parlance.)

5. Science and the Romantics.

6. I am a big fan of judging books by their covers. As such, I understand this bit about falling in love with a cover very well.

7. Richard Powers has his entire genome sequenced. It’s a fascinating article. I know this because I read all 21 pages.

8. This article has been around for a few weeks: Emily Dickinson’s Secret Lover! Does it speak to the age-old conundrum of just not wanting to know too much about writers’ lives?

9. The Bunny Suicides riles parents.

10. English, my beloved English. I liked this article already, and then I read the last paragraph about The Wire (which I am slowly catching up with on DVD) and then I had a crush on it. Is it possible to have a crush on an article? Let’s say yes. (I really dig The Wire; it is so insanely well-written that it hurts.) Of course, the article is not about The Wire, it’s about English. But like the article’s writer, I think English and The Wire dovetail most wonderfully. I’ll stop being a TV geek now.

9 Responses

  1. This is, by far, the funniest
    This is, by far, the funniest post ever to appear here at Literary Kicks. And why did it make me guffaw outloud so?

    I didn’t read that it was you who wrote it, Jamelah. At least not right away. So my mind had quite the time trying to figure out WHY Levi would want to play Eulalie McKecknie Shinn, the mayor’s wife, in The Music Man.

    It was quite a surreal moment for me!

  2. Actually, I would enjoy
    Actually, I would enjoy playing Eulalie Shinn in the Music Man, if anybody would ever want me to.

    It’s funny, that song is also where I first heard of Chaucer, Rabelais and Balzac.

  3. The Music Man is a very
    The Music Man is a very educational show. Not only did I first hear of Chaucer, Rabelais and Balzac in “Pick-A-Little, Talk-A-Little”, I also learned the names of several Iowa cities thanks to the song “Iowa Stubborn.”

    Eulalie Shinn is such a great character…. because later there’s that bit with the Grecian urns. Priceless.

    Also, thanks Will. I may be giggling a lot right now.

  4. Levi, maybe John Waters will
    Levi, maybe John Waters will do a production of The Music Man.

    Speaking of swear words, I love the Simpsons episode in which my favorite character, Comic Book Guy, beholds for the first time a large, new comic book store that threatens to lure away his customers. He blurts out the ultimate geek invective, “Philip K. Dick!”

    I have repented from my former disdain for books as art & artifact. Levi, all the time I was agreeing with you that paperbacks are just as good as hardbacks, I knew that, deep down, I had undeniable feelings for well-designed hardbound volumes. Jamelah, I think you will appreciate this article by Jeff VanderMeer on the subject.

  5. I saw The Music Man movie and
    I saw The Music Man movie and am such a stiff that I missed all those references entirely. I learned about art, music, and literature from a great high-school teacher who was later kicked out by the Christian principal for ‘suspicions of being homosexual.’

    Levi acting a female part? Hey, my doctor, a nice middle-aged Jewish man with a wife and grown kids recently went away for awhile and came back as Deborah, a vamp who acts in drag shows and is a real hoot in general. Gives a new, ah, twist to those prostate exams.

    Sorry. I need more coffee.

  6. This single post practically
    This single post practically crashed my pathetic PC as I had to click everywhere and open window after window, following almost every link. Well done!

  7. That last article is amazing,
    That last article is amazing, even to a non-“Wire”-watcher.

  8. I like Steve Martin’s first
    I like Steve Martin’s first three films. I understand why he branched out (like Chevy Chase, Dan Ackroyd) made mature duds like Parenthood and Grand Canyon.

    Also liked his book Cruel Shoes, the Smokers who sang Smoke Gets In Your Eyes and Smoke Smoke That Cigarette–till “their lips fell off”.

  9. Thanks Jamelah for the link
    Thanks Jamelah for the link to Richard Powers article. I enjoyed reading it and never would have found it ever if you hadn’t pointed it out.

    The odd 21 page format seems dumb.

    And, if they are going to present it like that, page by little page, this article ought to have been 23 pages. What? Do they think he a rat?

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