Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

(or felt...)

Stuffed. It's not so much that I ate a lot on Thanksgiving, but rather the type of comestibles I ingested. Turkey, yes indeed, but also stuffing, mashed potatoes, various types of casserole, specialty breads and rolls, and pie -- all heavy stuff I never or rarely eat. It was good, but I couldn't help feeling bloated afterward, like one of those Macy's parade balloons, except considerably heavier than air. I know why they call it stuffing.

Suspicious. Forced to listen to Xmas music while driving home from upstate New York after the holiday, I began to ponder the lyrics to "Winter Wonderland":

Later on, we'll conspire,
As we dream by the fire
To face unafraid,
The plans that we've made....

Hmm. The plans? That sounds suspiciously... conspiratorial. The song was composed in the 1930s, an era of radical political movements of right and left, as well as spies and counterspies. Was the composer, Felix Bernard, sending a hidden message to someone via a treacly holiday ditty?

In the meadow we can build a snowman,
Then pretend that he is Parson Brown
He'll say: Are you married?
We'll say: No man,
But you can do the job
When you're in town.
...We'll have lots of fun with Mister Snowman,
Until the other kids knock him down.

These are very odd lyrics, when you think about it. "Are you married"? (A code phrase used by spies to recognize each other.) "Do the job"? "Mister Snowman"? (Clearly a code name.) "Until the other kids knock him down"? The world was on the verge of universal war. What operative was receiving instructions when he heard Perry Como and the Andrews Sisters warbling this tune on the radio?

Amused. I'm about one-third of the way through 1Q84, Haruki Murakami's massive (900+ pages) new novel, a fascinating tale of alternate universes, literary deception, and assassination. As much as I'm enjoying it, it does seem padded in places. Whenever a character stops to eat, the author describes the meal in complete detail, and if the protagonist is cooking it himself, the description is so detailed it could be followed as a recipe. 1Q84 is many things, but one could almost call it a postmodern cookbook.

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