Knocked Up, Rakish Behavior, More Bibliomania, and a Brief Hiatus

So today we (id est, Mrs. Biblioklept and myself) saw Knocked Up, which is pretty much the best pregnancy movie I’ve ever seen (yes, better than 9 Months, Parenthood and Father of the Bride 2 put together, and at least equal to Rosemary’s Baby, which I’m not really sure even counts). Judd Apatow (we mentioned our love of Mr. Apatow’s work in a previous post) assembled a host of familiar faces from his regular crew (including his wife and daughters) to make a funny and honest (although certainly hyperbolic) movie about love, relationships, having kids, growing older, and all that crap. Highly recommended. For a more detailed review, check out this Slate article (warning: this is a typical Slate article, i.e. the author starts by saying they basically like what they’re about to discuss before hemming and hawing over every little detail in an effort to pick it apart. Still, on the whole, the article’s pretty good).

Now, writing about movies and card games and TV shows is all well and good, but once upon a time this was a blog about books (sort of), and perhaps some of you feel that I’ve gotten particularly lazy in my reading. This is actually far from the case; in fact, all I’ve been doing lately is reading. Only the reading I’ve been doing has been for a grad class revolving around the figure of the libertine. Summer school. Yay. Not that the class has been boring per se, just not really something that’s translated into anything I’ve felt the urge to write about. The poems and biographical of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester have been of great interest–this guy was downright naughty. Also a relatively recent play about Rochester called The Libertine was particularly good (much better than the movie version starring Johnny Depp that came out a year or two ago). The current reading for the class, however, Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa, is more than I can bear. We are reading the abridged version, which is about 550 pages, paperback. The unabridged version is a large-sized small-print trade paperback topping 1600 pages. I have no idea what the editor cut out (neither do I care). The last time I read a book like this was in high school–Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles. Both novels are painfully long accounts of a young lady’s trying circumstances. In both novels nothing really happens, and anything interesting that does happen is so coded that you have to read between the lines to figure it out (“Huh? Did Tess get raped? Huh?” also, “Huh? Did Clarissa get raped? Huh?”). Maybe I’m just a lazy reader.

But being a lazy reader hasn’t stopped me from buying more books. My bibliomania persists unchecked, fueled by bargain blowout prices on last year’s hardback remainders and promises of free shipping from Amazon. A quick run down of what I bought this week, complete with odds that I’ll actually finish the book.

Sanctuary, William Faulkner

Intruder in the Dust, William Faulkner

The Portable Faulkner, ed. Malcolm Cowley

Fiction, Film, and Faulkner: The Art of Adaptation, Gene Phillips

Yes, I am taking a Faulkner class this summer. With the exception of the Phillips text, all materials were procured at my favorite local bookstore via store credit. Some of the books I used to get credit were not exactly mine. The Biblioklept strikes again! Likelihood that I’ll finish all of these: 99.9%. I’m a good student. I don’t cut any corners when it comes to class reading.

The Children’s Hospital, Chris Adrian

I’ve been wanting to read this all year; rave reviews all around. Likelihood that I’ll finish it: 50/50 might be generous. It’s pretty long (600 pages) and hardback (I have a very poor track record with hardback). I’ll give it a serious attempt in the two week window between the end of summer school and the fall semester. We’ll see.

U.S.!, Chris Bachelder

Another book I’ve heard only great things about. The Left (big-L) keeps reviving muckraker Upton Sinclair (you know, dude who wrote The Jungle) from the dead to help “the cause”; he is repeatedly assassinated. Likelihood that I’ll finish it: 99%–I started yesterday and am close to half finished. It’s very, very good, and I’ll try to review it later. It’s actually been a terrible distraction from Clarissa. Plus, according to the back of the book, Bachelder got his MFA from my alma mater, the University of Florida. So there.

Against the Day, Thomas Pynchon

I loved loved loved V. The Crying of Lot 49 was decent enough. Vineland was good enough, I suppose, albeit kind of silly. I’ve put down Gravity’s Rainbow more times than I can count. The first 100 pages of Mason & Dixon bored me to tears. Why did I buy this again? Oh, right, it was on sale. Likelihood that I’ll finish this: This book is hardcover and over a 1000 pages. Let’s just be honest–I will never finish this book. Maybe I’ll give it to a friend as a burdensome gift, a sort of annoying challenge.

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I realize that this post has been overlong and probably looks like a weak attempt to compensate for not having written in some time (which it certainly is); however, it will have to suffice, gentle reader, for an indeterminate amount of time. Mrs. Biblioklept will be going into the exquisite labors of childbirth any minute now (really), so I’m not sure when I’ll have the leisure to post again. Until then.

The Biblioklept Salute to Eleven Great TV Shows, Not One of Them with Us Today–Part II

Our salute continues! (Part I here)

4. Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000, NBC)

Judd Apatow is a freaking genius. Freaks and Geeks is the only TV show I can think of to portray teenagers with any sense of realism. Set in a suburb outside of Detroit in the very early 80s, this show followed the awkward trials of Lindsay Weir, former mathlete turned “freak,” and her brother Sam, destined “geek.” Apatow handled the series with a remarkable blend of pathos and humor, but the best thing about the tone of the series was the complete lack of either schmaltzy sentimentality or undue glamor that plagues every show about teens. There are no rose-colored glasses here, no simple answers, and the endings are more often than not ambiguous–but that ambiguity is somehow more satisfying than a traditional happy ending.

5. Undeclared (2001-2002, FOX)

After Freaks and Geeks was canceled after one short season, Apatow gave TV another shot, switching to a new network and a new format. He brought along some of the actors from Freaks and Geeks, including Seth Rogan, who became a writer/producer on the show (Seth went on to co-star in Apatow’s blockbuster The 40 Year Old Virgin, and is the unlikely leading man in Apatow’s summer offering Knocked Up, which looks really, really funny). Set at the non-existent University of North Eastern California in the early oughties, Undeclared was based around a group of college freshmen trying to navigate their way through the tribulations of a new school full of new people. The show focused on Steven, a nerdy kid with the potential to reinvent himself in his new environs. He manages to hook up with fellow dormer Lizzie, despite her older boyfriend (Lizzie’s psycho-obsessive older boyfriend, played by Freaks and Geeks star Jason Segel, provides for one of the show’s funniest plots). Steven’s quest for cool is of course impeded by his father (played by folkie Loudon Wainwright III) who, after a nasty divorce, has embarked on his own quest for cool (midlife crisis style)).

Loudon Wainwright III plays “The Morgue.”

Before we leave our contemplation of Judd Apatow, I highly recommend everyone read this 2001 exchange of emails between Apatow and That 70s Show Creator Mark Brazill, published originally in Harper’s. Brazill accuses Apatow of plagiarism, hilarity ensues.

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Later this week in the salute–is David Cross a dick? What do you do when the series that filled the Buffy-sized void in your pop culture heart is canceled? And does Nickelodeon really suck now, or have we just gotten older?