Thursday, July 31, 2008
I wrote an essay on "The Burlington Northern, Southbound" by Bruce Holland Rogers for Critical Theory. I read Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Gidget the Little Girl with Big Ideas by Frederick Kohner was published in 1957. The book is about a girl named Franzie aka “Gidget,” who is a smart, petite, 95 lb, 16 year old, living in
The real Gidget is the author, Fredrick Kohner’s daughter, named Kathy Kohner-Zuckerman, who in 1956, learned to surf and was nicknamed “Gidget.” “Unlike the beach bunnies who were already hopping along the shore, Kathy decided she wanted to join the men in the water and brought sandwiches with her to trade for time on their boards. She bought her own board for $30 and taught herself to surf” (Lunefeld).
“It was as the point that Kathy decided to commit her experiences to paper that things became more complicated. She was planning to write a book about that summer, but her father convinced her that he should write it, because he was already a professional screenwriter. “
“Frederick Kohner wrote the book Gidget in six weeks. It was his first novel” (Zuckerman). “
While Kathy and the fictional book character of Gidget are Jewish, “the cinematic and televised Gidgets came from bland American families and generic, WASP moms and dads. Also erased was Gidget’s status as a feminist heroine. By the time the novel was adapted for films and television, seeing ‘Jeff again’ regained it supremacy and Gidget the inspiration became Gidget as played by a succession of Hollywood actresses, using Malibu as a backdrop for the Hollywood dyad of girl meeting boy” (Lunefield). “Gidget is the obvious inspiration for Malibu Barbie” (Lunenfeld).
“Kohner-Zuckerman spent four summers surfing in Malibu before leaving for college in Oregon. After graduating, she signed up for the Peace Corps but was summarily kicked out because, well, she was a bit boy-crazy. She returned to Los Angeles to teach high school and middle school” (Sachs). “In 1964 she married Marvin Zuckerman, a man 10 years her senior. When they met, Zuckerman had not heard of Gidget, and knew nothing of beach life. He never learned to surf, but Gidget taught him to ski. They had two sons together and she is now a grandmother.” (Stillman, “The Real Gidget”).
“While in college, Zuckerman remembers seeing ‘Gidget’ the movie, and thought, ‘This is ridiculous. They made a movie of my life. I saw the movie 52 times. I loved it, and I still love it.’ She thought [Sandra] Dee played her fairly well, but was less pleased with Sally Field’s performance as Gidget in the television series that aired in 1965. Field was too main-stream to portray a counter-culture girl, and the show didn’t have enough surfing, Zuckerman said” (Albright).
“An 18-year-old surfer girl with the sun-bleached hair is breathing heavily and turning bright red as she approaches her idol, a diminutive grandmother who is signing books after a lecture on surfing history at UC San Diego. Tears well up in the girl’s eyes when she comes face to face with Kathy Kohner Zuckerman, the plucky surfing icon known to the world as ‘Gidget.’ ‘You are my hero,’ the girl stammers, but Zuckerman is dumbfounded. 'Gidget a hero?'” (Martin).
Historically, Gidget is looked at as a hero to some and a villain to others. “To the surfing world, she was the novice wave rider who exposed surfing’s subculture to America’s mainstream. And to a handful of purists, she was the reason California’s best surfing spots have been overrun by pushy kooks and annoying wannabes” (Martin).
Gidget changed the world for surfers for good, especially for women. “The publication of Gidget in 1957 did not just introduce us to the barely fictionalized account of a girl’s summer in Malibu; it started a chain reaction that introduced surfing to the rest of the country and spread it to the world at large” (Lunefeld). Suddenly, everybody wants a part of the fun-filled beach life depicted in the “Gidget” movies, the subsequent “Beach Blanket” spinoffs and the sentimental Beach Boys tunes. Back at Malibu, hordes of surfers pack themselves shoulder-to-shoulder on the breaking wave, evidence that Gidgetmania has changed surfing forever. Moondoggie and the rest of the gang are uprooted when lifeguards demolish the palm-frond shack. Even Gidget is turned off to surfing when she returns from college to find Malibu overrun with newcomers. ‘There were too many boards,’ she says, remembering the scene. ‘Too many surfers.’”(Martin).
On the other side, “this often-told event has lured countless wanderers to the shores of Southern California, even as it continues to anger surfers who blame Gidget for telling the world about what they once regarded as a private wave” (Stillman, “The Real Gidget.”).
“So when places like Surfrider Beach, San Onofre and County Line became overrun by throngs of surf crashers, some surfers blamed Gidget. She was an easy target. Some ‘Gidget haters’ didn’t know or care that Gidget was a real person. Fred Reiss, a 51-year-old surfer from Santa Cruz, wrote a novel in 1995 about a surfer who returns to Malibu 30 years later to kill everyone involved in the ‘Gidget’ movie for ruining his surf spot. The book, ‘Gidget Must Die,’ was a cheap shot but Reiss says the story was rooted in the real-life resentment many surfers felt toward Gidget. ‘I worked at a Santa Cruz surf shop for seven years, and I met most of the legends, as well as tons of guys from the ’60s period, and nearly all of them said, ‘Gidget ruined surfing,’ ‘ he says” (Martin).
“But Gidget has legions of fans who insist she has been unfairly blamed for a surfing craze that was ready to explode anyway because of advances in surfboard technology and a counterculture movement that reshaped the country in the late 1960s and early ’70s. Dick Metz, a lifelong surfer and founder of the Surfing Heritage Foundation in San Clemente, says those who blame Gidget don’t know their surfing history. At the time of the ‘Gidget’ movies, he says, the popular balsa-wood long boards were being replaced by shorter, lighter polyurethane foam short boards. The new, easily maneuverable boards, he says, were a big reason surfing caught fire in the 1960s. ‘The change of materials was going to change the sport,’ he says, ‘I don’t care if there was a book or a movie.’ Zuckerman’s father, Frederick Kohner, wasn’t the only one to profit from Gidgetmania. Locals like Miki “Da Cat” Dora, Johnny Fain and Mickey Munoz got paid to perform the surfing stunts for the ‘Gidget’ movie.” (Martin).
Albright, Mary Ann. “Real-life Gidget recalls life at OSU.” Gazette Times.
Lunefield, Peter. “Gidget on the Couch.” Believer Magazine
Martin, Hugo. “Surfer girl, Forever.” 2006.
Sachs, Andrea. “In Malibu, Gidget's Up.” Washington Post. 2005. Page P01
Stillman, Deanne. “Introduction.” Gidget the Girl with Big Ideas. Berkeley: 1957.
Stillman, Deanne. “The Real Gidget.” Surf Culture: The Art History of Surfing. California Authors.
Zuckerman, Kathy Kohner. “Foreword.” Gidget the Girl with Big Ideas. Berkeley: 1957.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Katherine Mansfield’s Bliss was written in 1918. The story is about a woman named Bertha who pretends to have the perfect life with her family and wealth, but she is really miserable. “Almost everything
It has been said about Mansfield that her “creative years were burdened with loneliness, illness, jealousy, alienation - all this reflected in her work with the bitter depiction of marital and family relationships of her middle-class characters” (Books and Writers). That is true, especially in her story “Bliss.” Bertha is a middle class character, who feels lonely being around tons of people at a dinner party and has a troubled marriage.
Like Bertha, the main character in “Bliss,” Katherine had a rocky love life. Katherine “met, married and left her first husband, George Bowden, all within just three weeks” (The British Empire). Like Bertha, she felt neglected by her second husband John Middleton Murray and she had an unfaithful husband. “When
“Katherine Mansfield was bisexual” (The British Empire) and there is some hints in “Bliss,” that Bertha Young might be as well. “Bertha touches Miss Fulton's arm and feels a ‘fire of bliss’; a look passes between them. Through the inane dinner conversation, Bertha blissfully wonders at her experience and waits for ‘a sign’ from Miss Fulton with little idea of what such a sign would mean. It becomes clearer to Bertha in a moment. Miss Fulton seems to give a sign, and they go to the garden and gaze at the pear tree, that had seemed to Bertha to be a symbol of her openness and vulnerability. What exactly does it suggest now? No matter what, to Bertha, the women achieve a perfect, wordless understanding. But
“The last lines of this story are also immensely important as well, Pearl's line ‘your lovely Pear tree’ echoes in the reader’s mind, whether she is referring to Harry and the affair she had with him, or Bertha and flirtation between them, or perhaps Mansfield herself is bisexual and referring to them both,” (“Bliss”). In conclusion,
Thursday, July 17, 2008
The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is about a riverboat captain named Charlie Marlow who sails through the
When Marlow and his boat arrive, there’s been a massacre at the camp and Kurtz is dying. While Kurtz is on his death bed, Marlow realizes through talking to him, that Kurtz has gone crazy due to his environment and surroundings. Marlow also realizes that Kurtz has been romantically involved with one of the African women. Marlow is in the mess hall, when he hears news of Kurtz’s death. After Kurtz dies, Marlow receives Kurtz letters, in which one mentions Marlow’s forthcoming arrival. Marlow finds Kurtz’s fiancé back home, and tells her Kurtz’s last word was him saying her name, when really it was, “the horror, the horror.” He doesn’t want to tell her the truth, and add more pain to the grief she is feeling. The heart of darkness means to me, that good people have a gray area, if they are around bad surroundings. The theme of this story is ignorance is bliss.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
In “The Burlington Northern, Southbound” by Bruce Holland Rogers, the narrator writes a poem to the object of his affection, a girl named Christine, comparing her to the train. He assumes that Christine rejected him, because she never told him how she felt about it. So if she had liked it, wouldn’t she have said something? He kicks himself, saying, “What woman wants to hear she is like the Burlington Northern southbound?"
The narrator seems like a stalker, because he knows stuff without asking her herself. He knows “her name was Christine,” so he obviously took the time to get to know stuff about her, even if he couldn’t ask her himself. It shows how much interest he has in her, which Christine could have taken as a good or bad sign.
When the narrator tells Christine in his poem, “about the way he used to stand in the dazzle of the headlight,” he obviously likes her looks and thinks Christine’s beauty blows him away and he wonders how someone like her was invented. His poem to her could be all about her physical appearance and how much he wants to have sex with her, with lines like, “I want to ride you home Christine and beyond,” but it was his intention to tell her how the train excites him as a rider, and she excited him as a woman.
When the narrator writes “I want to ride you into mornings sharp and cold and blue and never run the same track twice,” it indicates how he saw her as a new adventure and how much he is inspired to take risks into getting to know her. He is wondering what’s under the hood of the train, when he compares her to the engine: “Between the quaking of the cinders, and his jog, the engine would almost bring him to his knees.” Even though he has seen her beauty on the outside, he is wondering if her personality is also wonderful.
“When he could stop at last he’d hear the blood rushing in his ears for a long time while he felt the train rush on recede, and he’d watch the stars wheel awhile and when he walked home there’d be a ringing in his ears but gently”: the narrator promises she makes him happy every time he sees her and misses her until the next time he sees her.
When the narrator admits he “liked to step aside and stand on the edge to feel the thunder in his bones,” and “he’d feel the night air in his hair,” he wishes he could let go of his inhibitions, and let Christine’s spirit take control of him. He is a shy person, because he would rather write her letter than actually talk to her. It would have been better for him to actually talk to her, getting to know her for herself and not just be in love of the idea of her.
The narrator finds the idea of being with Christine exciting, when he writes, “the diesel throb in his gut would ebb until it was only sound, and then cars- some shrieking on their spring- would clataclat clatalat on by.” When the narrator writes, “He would dream for a moment of hanging on, of riding the coupling platform through the night,” Christine could have taken that as he wants to hold her in his arms and not let her go.
The theme of this story is to take risks, even thought it doesn’t always pay off the way people want it to. Was writing a poem comparing her to a train stupid or brave thing for him to do, even though he didn’t get the outcome he wanted? Out of some of the narrator’s thoughts he shared in the story, it seems like Christine would be able to see it as actually a good thing, if she can get past the dirty ones.