Tuesday, October 6, 2009

To me or not to me

Is it that time again? Nobel prizes flying out the door left and right, who had a chance to build up some suspense, anticipation. I had my favorites, I’m sure you did too. Now the only thing left to guess is who wears the most outrageous gown.

The Nobel Prizes are good for my brain – it’s the only time I show a remote interest in physics, chemistry, physiology, or economics. As for literature, here’s a list of winners from the past decade:

• 2008 - Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio
• 2007 - Doris Lessing
• 2006 - Orhan Pamuk
• 2005 - Harold Pinter
• 2004 - Elfriede Jelinek
• 2003 - J. M. Coetzee
• 2002 - Imre Kertész
• 2001 - V. S. Naipaul
• 2000 - Gao Xingjian
• 1999 - Günter Grass
• 1998 - José Saramago

How pathetic am I. Ok, I love Pinter, read Lessing, and once saw the name Xingjian in a magazine. Probably the New Yorker. Or was it Gourmet? As for the rest? Oh, I’m a sadly lazy reader. Too much Pippi, not enough Pamuk.

I’ll guarantee you this, though. Not one of these authors is good for a giggle. Even Pinter has a humor so black and bleak that if you give yourself up to it at night, you hate yourself in the morning.

I think about these prize winners; wonder about their childhood, upbringing. Some were privileged, some were miserable, others probably knocked around suburbs such as Fullerton and Naperville just like me. But unlike me, they didn’t come home from school and plop in front of a Gilligan’s Island rerun.

I had my chance. Oh, we all have our chance. Here’s picture from a 5th grade play I wrote for a competition. I’m Hamlet, explaining the meaning of angst to Shakespeare, ably played by my friend Pam Schnyder.



It was my play, so Hamlet had most of the lines, though I think Shakespeare let out an "Egad," from time to time.

But even this contest I lost. Steve Melman, as Napoleon at Waterloo, took the prize. His play was weak in character and plot, but everyone clapped when he yelled, “Wow, we better abdicate,” and raced out the classroom door into the volleyball court.

I think my heart broke a little that day.

46 comments:

  1. Nobel Prize time is one of my favorite times, too. I curiously have to look up each winner to see WHY/WHAT they did to win. Talk about a setting oneself up for a slap in the face... Rarely can I phantom WHAT HE/SHE DID even after NPR patiently explains it to me... But you wrote a play - now I am really jealous!!

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  2. Lordy. Great post, great photo, great mind. We will have to deconstruct Fullerton sometime. How do you feel about Viognier?

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  3. Wow...I don't know any of those authors.


    And really, Hamlet should be the one with most of the lines. Love the 'do! :)

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  4. You were upstaged by showmanship of lesser literary quality - typical. (How cool is that you have a photo of it!)

    I know a guy whose friend was a contender for the NP in medicine...aren't these close connections so awsome!
    Read 1/4 of Snow by Pamuk, gave up on it never to continue. Own 1 by le Cle & Coetzee - on the "to be read someday" pile...Naipaul I read in the '80s - his non-fiction is better than fiction. Theroux writing about Naipaul is better yet. Anyway, who has time to read these guys when there are titles like "Size 12 is not fat" and "Size 14 is not fat either".

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  5. Yikes, all this time I thought Gilligan's Island was written by a Nobel laureate.

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  6. Wait a minute... you wrote a play about/with Hamlet in the 5th grade?!??!! You actually knew something about Hamlet in the 5th grade?!! So impressive.

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  7. BA, I know. And I get rather irritated with NPR's patience

    ME, they give a prize in that?

    Desiree, I love it and (of course) know a cheap one.

    Amy, don't tell anyone, but I cut my hair for the role. By myself.

    Tash, don't you ever, ever pretend to be impressed by me again. Pamuk indeed. Where are my Cliff notes.

    B-squared: You're right. I was doing research.

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  8. Pinter. The only one I've read.
    I've read about Lessing, Coetzee (didn't win the Man Booker prize today), Naipaul and Grass. Never heard of the others.

    See, I think Tash is right. I read Romeo and Juliet in 7th grade, after seeing the Zeferelli film about 10 times. It was my first dose of Shakespeare and I was smitten. But I didn't get to Hamlet for at least three more years.

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  9. We should never underestimate the muse that was - and still is - Gilligan's Island. You cut your own hair? Kudos!! Must away, left the tractor idling in the front garden bed.

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  10. You didn't put any award winners for 2009. But I know you won an award this year! In fact, didn't you win 2?
    You are so humbly modest.

    It's amazing what they give awards out for in this post modern age.

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  11. AH: Was your play something like "My Dinner with Hamlet"?

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  12. Hamlet at 10? Gads you must have been a precocious child.

    Julio Cortazar's "Hopscotch"
    Got through that...forwards, backwards and any which way I chose

    Pamuk: books on tape

    Grass and Lessing: gathering dust

    Now, when it comes to genius awards, I have the rare distinction of having been awarded two within the last year from the Public Information Officer of Pasadena

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  13. I think Coetzee is my only one on that list. How about the Pulitzer prizes instead . . . I know I've read more of those :) Great post - would have loved to have seen your play. Maybe a revival at Farnsworth Park?

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  14. Forget the Nobel guys, PJ, may I borrow the Size 12 is Not Fat series from you??? I'm bored with "Why French Woment Don't Get Fat"!! Moderation, small portions and.....EXCERCISE is not what I wanted to hear.
    V

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  15. I entered an early play of mine in a contest and got seventh place. I was extremely proud. Years later I discovered there were 7 entries, but somehow that didn't diminish my glow.

    But may I toot my horn? Here's an early accomplishment of mine, The Story of the Little Pumpkin.

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  16. A pox on you Petrea! You've stolen the Nobel prize for cuteness right out from under me.

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  17. I love Shakespeare's collar. Best way to tell the characters apart. You two should get a prize for costume design, that's for sure.

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  18. The Nobels are keenly anticipated at Caltech in the hope that we have a winner. Then we have to explain the research to lay people in a nice essay. I was relieved my colleague wanted to tackle the Physics prize for "asymptotic freedom," as particle physics is beyond me. She did a good job, and I understood it for a femtosecond until my brain found better things to grapple with.

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  19. Not that it counts for much, but you get the prize for blogger who unfailingly makes me think, smile and occasionally guffaw. Suffice it to say I always make sure I have no liquid in my mouth that might be spat or else blasted through my nose when I sit down to read your latest.

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  20. Lessing, Grass, Pinter, pinter!! what a crew...and you (and there are turntables on sale everywhere these days!!)

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  21. ever seen that Pinter play turned in to a film, er, about the wealthy master and his manservant? Then the tables turn? Pure debauchery and wonder!!

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  22. Perhaps one day I'll show you a photo of me performing the hit song "I Play All Day" from my prize-winning musical, "Melissa, the Peasant Girl."

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  23. I want to see Petrea perform the littlest pumkin..the end the end the end the end

    you BOTH must have been a precocious children.

    BTW P...(love that you included it ion your online resume) too funny

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  24. I'm sitting here holding my breath, waiting for the Nobel sex scandal...

    Petrea, thanks for sharing that with us, it definitely deserves its own page.

    Sorry V, I'm not an enabler. However, I will tell you that I've recently discovered the world's most perfect junk food at Tom Thumb. It's the Good Humor Premium Triple Chocolate Brownie ice cream cone. Really, you don't want to miss this one. I want to mainline it.
    http://www.icecreamusa.com/products/product.cfm?u=77567-00111&b=2

    Bon appetit!

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  25. Hmm, PJ, looks like lunch to me.

    PA, do you have any of the stuff you made as a kid? You must have a bunch of treasures.

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  26. I looked at the enlargement,KB, and not only are you cute as can be with your Bard's hairdo but your friend has quite the beard and mustache.

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  27. Terry, don't forget, I'm coming to your house for Thanksgiving. Better tell Marion.
    Ken Mac -- The Servant. But my favorite Pinter is No Man's Land. And it's an excellent read.
    PA, you and Tash and your Pamuk.

    Can't you just tell I was the alpha in that relationship? Ok Pat, you wear the ugly beard and collar and I'll wear a black vest and say all the words. Some day I'll write about the cut throat world of little girl friendships.

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  28. Okay, I'll play. I've read works by five of the winners. But none are laugh riots for me. And none are works that I keep with me to read and re-read. (Though at one point, I was very taken with Martha Quest by Lessing.)

    I'm completely charmed by the photo and play description. I'm sorry I missed the performance. (And I love Petrea's story; her spelling gives it a middle English feel.)

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  29. Little girl friendships, big girl friendships...

    I read The Fifth Child by Lessing. Beyond brilliant, totally depressing.

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  30. Kb, I think whatever you were selling in the old pic from the last century I wouldn't wanna buy in today's modern world. My big dog nose is just too well trained for vocalized postings like that.

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  31. Whatever became of Steve Melman? Did he become a rich exec just by wowing them with bs?

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  32. Say again why is Swede Parkersdotter not on this list?

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  33. Oh PJ!!! Not an enabler ? Then you throw out some junk food from Tom Thumb????? And I haven't read a damn word from any of les NOBELS. Sue me. I'm just too old to fret over that . What I'd really like is to read an entire collection of KB's stuff! And I would like to see Petrea's 7th grade play. I"m simple but I know what I really like. Case closed.
    V

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  34. Thanks my friend. I can only hope and pray we can make a difference. I made some amazing friends today. How did I get this lucky??????
    V

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  35. Egad!

    (You're amazing, Karin. And that picture is priceless.)

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  36. Petrea: If it wasn't nailed down, Ramona threw it out. In Ramona's world view, if it's older then a year it's out on the curb.

    This of course doesn't apply to photos representing Ramona's legendary beauty. Our photos, on the other hand, she took off the wall and put in the closet.

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  37. PA, now I'm getting a picture.

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  38. Between this post, Karin, and the comments by your readers, my head is about to explode, my body weak from the intense cuteness of it all.

    Sweet.

    Like 93% of those polled on nobelprize.org, I haven't read anything by Herta Müller, this years winner.

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  39. You're about 2 make this canine explode and go weak 2, MH, after cking into your great pods.

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  40. Well, they did sing "neither a borrower, nor a lender be" to the tune of Carmina Burana on Gilligan's Island. So, that counts, no?

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  41. Linda, I still remember that song. I loved it when the Skipper belted "There's just one other thing, you've got to do: to thine ownself BE TRUUUUUUUUUUUUE!"

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  42. Laurie, God, there really is something to be said for sharing a generation, eh? References are so easy.

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  43. The best line related to Hamlet is from Clueless where Cher tells Josh's date who said 'never a borrower or lender..' I love that movie. I wish I could steal a Jane Austen novel and write a screenplay like that. Have they all been done in a modern setting by now?

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