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Tag Archives: 1970’s

My Review of Shaft, by Ernest Tidyman

10 Nov

November 10, 2018

Shaft is a deep book. Oh, not in the sense that it touches on deep issues and ponders difficult sociopolitical questions, but in the sense that it puts you in Shaft’s head and he thinks deep thoughts about everything.

Every freakin’ thing.

Reading this book I wonder if Shaft has ever had a happy day in his life. The book can be a ponderous read at times because Shaft ponders everything. Nothing is just surface, everything is fodder for Shaft’s dark and dolorous musings. There’s a dark cloud behind every beam of sunlight in Shaft’s world. There are bad intents behind every person Shaft sees in the street, and in every glance Shaft sees the bad behind the good. To be fair, Shaft comes by that worldview honestly, and it serves him well in his job, but even when the case is wrapped and Shaft is playing a board game with a child, he’s deep in brooding. And what is he brooding about? How the child beat him in the game, and Shaft will get better and beat him next time, then have to let the kid win after that because, after all, he’s an adult playing a kid in a kid’s game. Even downtime with a young child brings out the rain clouds.

Does Shaft ever smile?

Despite all that, I liked the book. It feels like a slice of the seventies and this is a book that could only have been written in that era. On the other hand, it deals extensively in stereotypes. Every black person is a militant or a drug dealer. Every Italian is connected to the Mafia. Every white girl wants to sleep with a black man and every white man is afraid of the black man. I would stop short of saying there is anything truly racist about this book, but I can see the arguments. However, Shaft does have some clearly anti-Semitic thoughts about the Jews, making the title of the next book, Shaft Among The Jews, more intriguing.

I read the book because I always like reading the source material behind classic films, and the movie Shaft is an undisputed classic. The big question is, of course, is the book better than the movie? I have to say no. I enjoyed the movie much more. Even if I was listening to Isaac Hayes’ soundtrack as I read the book I couldn’t help but feel like Shaft is not a character I’m in a hurry to revisit, at least in literary form.

 

 

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Gilligan’s Island Sinks

23 Feb

February 23, 2018

Reposting a personal favorite.

As reported by the Associated Press, May 5th 1981.

 

Originally published May 26, 2015

Here’s a news story you may have missed:

Howell fortune

Here’s the text:

VOLCANO ERUPTS, SINKS GILLIGAN’S ISLAND
Thurston Howell III Fortune Feared Lost

AP News Service May 5th, 1981

A volcanic eruption which sunk a small South Pacific island may also have sunk the fortunes of one of America’s most celebrated millionaires.

After weeks of oceanic tremors, scientists confirm that a volcano erupted on the island of Palu Makalu, popularly known as “Gilligan’s Island” since the discovery and rescue of the survivors of the S.S. Minnow shipwreck in 1978. The island is now submerged in the depths off the continental shelf.

Among the survivors was eccentric millionaire Thurston Howell III, who made his fortune in the stock market in the post-war era. He later founded Howell Industries, which produced everything from ticker-tape to typewriter ribbons. Although profits had been declining in later years, due to the changing of technology, he recently doubled his assets after winning a bet on the Harlem Globetrotters to beat their robotic duplicates, in a match played at his resort on the island.

A spokesman for Mr. Howell released the following statement:

“The rumors of the loss of the Howell fortune are greatly exaggerated. When the island sank, it took with it 55 trunks of cash and bonds, which Thurston Howell III buried on the island to keep it safely away from the constant misadventures of Gilligan. However, Mr. Howell has invested heavily in new technologies, and we are confident that his acquisition of controlling interest in Betamax tape and 8-track cartridge corporations will position Howell Industries for future success in the 80’s and beyond.”

The other castaways, reacting to the loss of their island home of 14 years, universally blamed Gilligan for causing the eruption with one of his silly blunders.

In a related story, scientists say the Palu Makalu tribe of native headhunters may now be extinct.

 

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