Category Archives: The Bookshelf Battle Cast

Bookshelf Battle Cast Episode 002 – The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe – Analysis and Discussion

A good glass of wine is supposed to be relaxing, unless you’re sharing a bottle with a Montressor.  Damn, that family of dicks won’t let anything good.

But there’s a lesson in this dickishness, 3.5 listeners, for if you act like a dick, you never know how badly your dickish ways have upset someone – so much, in fact that this person might lay in wait, plotting an intricate, fiendish plan of revenge against you…muah ha ha!

And you’d never know it because if you’re as obtuse as Fortunato, you’d probably think whatever dumbass thing you said to your pal Montressor is all water under the bridge by now.

We’re never told what the slight was that turned Montressor into a homicidal mad man.  Then again, it’s doubtful that Fortunato could have done anything that merited being walled off in a tomb and left to suffer and rot while still alive.

Is there a method to Poe’s madness?  Montressor avenges his family against Fortunato’s slight.  Worse, the evil narrator accomplishes his goals – a) he Fortunato, but makes Fortunato suffer and makes him aware that he, Montressor did him in b) Montressor is not caught c) fifty years later, Montressor, as an old man, has lived a full life and now he can make the world aware of his supposed genius, how he masterfully killed Fortunato without getting caught.  One assumes the narrator is so old now that jail would matter little to him.  He’s lived most of his life as a free man so now he can boast of the evil deed he is most proud of to the world.

We see a lot of foreshadowing and ways in which Montressor plays on Fortunato’s ignorance and pride.  Montressor gets Fortunato liquored up, lulls his victim into assuming safety by asking him to leave the dumb under feigned fears of the old man’s health and insults Fortunate’s pride by suggesting Luchesi, Fortunato’s rival in the world of wine tasting, be the one who give the thumbs up or down to the amontillado.

Was there even a cask of amontillado to begin with?  Oh Monty, you devious prick.

Is it better to seek revenge, or as Jesus would advise, to turn the other cheek?  Alas, Montressor doesn’t seem to suffer for his revenge, though he might suffer in reputation as you, the reader, end up fearing and hopefully looking down at him, right?  Honestly, if you walked away from this story think Montressor is a good role model to emulate, you might need some counseling my friend.

Keep in mind that Fortunato isn’t just dressed as a fool, he is one.  He’s prideful and into himself and easily manipulated by appeals to his narcissism.  The idea that his rival wine taster might be consulted him makes him lose his senses.

Sometimes people are dicks…and sometimes these dicks will insult you.  They act like fools when they do, they have already damaged their reputations by being rude to you.  Often, when a person insults you, it is less about you and more about them, about their need to prop themselves up by dragging you down, feeling better by giving you a verbal kick to the ribs.

Montressor would tell you to get revenge but I mean, yeah we aren’t in Montessor’s day so you’ll totally get caught and even if you don’t get caught, you’ll be torn apart inside over the horror you committed and if you are like Montressor and don’t feel bad about it then yeah, again, seeking counseling for your screws are loose.

What say you, 3.5 listeners?

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Bookshelf Battlecast Episode 001 – “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley – Analysis and Discussion

I’ve made a resolution to podcast once a month in 2018 and seeing as it’s very late on January 31, I’m really squeaking by.  In fact, I’m cutting it so close that WordPress will probably date this post as February 1 but oh well.  Like I can tame the WordPress gremlins who screw with my fine blog.

The text (and my notes.)

“Invictus”

By: William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
BQB NOTE: Shit happens and while Henley isn’t sure exactly what god or gods may be out there, he thanks them for the fact that he can control his reactions to the shit coming his way.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
 My head is bloody, but unbowed.
BQB NOTE:  We are caught in “the clutch of circumstance.”  Life throws shit our way and often we can’t control many things.  All it takes is one major shit storm to ruin all the work we put in towards a goal and suffer a major setback.  Henley feels like the constant stream of unexpected, unrequested shit is knocking him over the head and leaving his head bloody, but he’s not going to cave into the shit.  He’s not going to bow down and be all like, “OK shit, you got me!”
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
 Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
 Finds and shall find me unafraid.
BQB NOTE:  Life sucks and then you die.  Don’t like life and all the unfair shit that happens.  Sorry.  Guess what happens next?  You’re worm food, bitch, so start trying to find whatever little joy you can amidst the shit because soon you’ll be in the shit.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
BQB NOTE:  I can’t control life but I can control myself.  Am I going to fall apart when life doesn’t go my way?  No, I’m going to be a straight up baller, son, and I’m gonna keep doing me and all the shit in life can go suck a D.
Your thoughts?  Share in the comments.  Did you like my podcast?  Leave a review.  Didn’t like it?  Did you know there are many interesting cat videos on the Internet to watch?
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Matthew McConaughey Impersonation

Alright, alright, alright.

3.5 readers, all I can say is I love being alive in a time when you can get a dude to impersonate Matthew McConaughey for you for a reasonable price.  Would that this technology had existed when I was 20.  I would have taken over the world.

This is so funny, and the impressionist sounds just like him:

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Bookshelf Battle Cast – Episode 003 – “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens – Stave 3 – The Second of the Three Spirits – Analysis and Discussion Questions

vintage-1705170_1280Scrooge’s reckoning with his crusty ways continues, though his ghostly visitor is more pleasant this time.  The Ghost of Christmas Present is a big ass baller, a giant of a man, full of food and drink, joviality and laughter, tooling around in a fine robe with a wreath on his head, hardly a care in the world.

Yes, the present is the best time to be in.  The past is unchangeable and thus to think of it can lead to regret.  The future is unknown.  The only time we can be effective in is now…right now…before right now becomes the past…oh no, now just became the past, oh no it happened again, but wait the next moment is in the future, it’s in the present and oh, crap, it’s in the past again.

See how quickly life moves?

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

#1 – The Ghost of Christmas Present states that all sorts of things happen “in his name” i.e. hatred, bigotry and so on but urges Scrooge to charge these wrongdoings to those who would perpetrate them, not the ghost.  What does the ghost mean by this?

#2 – Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present visit the Cratchitts and see how happy this poor, not very handsome family is, despite the fact that they all live lives of hard labor, meager wages and little ability to improve their situation.  Scrooge is then taken on a tour where he finds miners, light house keepers and others working dismal jobs in the worst locales are all having a grand time.  Scrooge has fat stacks of cash yet he is miserable, whereas there are so many carefree poor people.  What gives?  What is the message Dickens is trying to tell us?

#3 – Tiny Tim is the epitome of man’s ability to change the future by acting in the present…before an ill fate becomes written into the past.  Scrooge must act now in the present to help Tiny Tim, to provide the family with the money needed to get Tim extra care, medicine, and help.  If Scrooge does not act now, Tiny Tim will die, and all that will remain is a memorialized little crutch in the corner of his family’s home.

Are there any warning signs in your life of a dismal future if swift, decisive action is not taken now?  Consider what negative fates might befall you or those you love if a negative situation is not change.  Do you foresee a way in which change is possible?  What steps will you take to make positive change happen?

#4 – The Ghost of Christmas Present reveals that two “children” have been clinging to him all this time – “Ignorance” and “Want.”  These two children or rather, states, mess up the present something awful.  When people are ignorant, i.e., stupid they make bad decisions that lead to a destroyed future.  Often, bad decisions are made in the name of “want,” i.e. people who covet material possessions over positive life experiences.

What will you do to rid your life of ignorance and want?

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Rate the Bookshelf Battle Cast!

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.

CHECK OUT MY PODCAST HERE

So…I don’t have a big interest in becoming a podcaster at this time.  My voice sucks, my improv skills stink, my main talent lies in writing so that’s what I need to focus on.

But I’ve been toying with the idea here, learning Garageband when I could…I figured it couldn’t hurt to read “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens and see how it goes.  Sadly, I have found all sorts of errors and all around shittyness just after listening to the two episodes, but each time I make one I learn how to improve for next time.

Should I take them down and fix them?  Probably.  But I think for now it’s just a learning exercise and getting them produced and up there.  I’d like to finish “A Christmas Carol” reading and then get back to my writing and not worry about podcasting for awhile.

It’s water I’d like to dip my toe in but isn’t really my forte.

I do think if I could improve there would be some service i.e. you could listen to me read public domain fiction rather than pay for audio books.  On the other hand, I’m a shitty reader who coughs a lot and sounds like I have a mouthful of farts so you get what you pay for.

It’s on iTunes.  It’s on Soundcloud.  The link above is for iTunes.

Follow me on Soundcloud here.

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The Funniest Parts of the Bookshelf Battle Cast…

…are these talents I hired from Fiverr.  I wrote the scripts.  They brought my words to life with their talents.

I just wish I had as much voice talent…or any.

Please play these all.  I know you’ll laugh.  Each one is but a mere 1 or 2 minutes tops.  You won’t lose that much of your life.

Best of all, a “Movie Trailer Guy Impressionist” informs my readers that I am, quote, “Such a macho bastard I can grate cheese with my chest hair.”  It’s true, ladies.  How much cheese do you want?  Just grab a brick of cheddar and rub it on my chest.

“In a world where you want to click that play button…”

 

Not Arnold Schwarzenegger compares my waistline to that of a humpback whale:

 

Not Donald Trump calls me a low energy loser who is selling us out to China:

 

Not Al Pacino goes all “Scent of a Woman” on me:

Not Morgan Freeman insults me with a potty mouth:

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Arnold Schwarzenegger Impression

Hey 3.5 readers.

Will you please drop what you are doing and listen to “Not Arnold Schwarzenegger” make fun of me, my fat flabbiness, my lack of muscles and love of pizza and so on?

Hey by the way, “The Bookshelf Battle Cast” is on iTunes so, yeah, go listen, subscribe, vote, leave a review.

This little soundbite is short, and is hilarious so, check it out:

 

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Bookshelf Battle Cast – Episode 002 – “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens – Stave 2 – “The First of the Three Spirits”

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Dang, 3.5 listeners.  Old Scrooge is going through some serious shit.

In Stave 2, the Ghost of Christmas Past visits our favorite crusty old prick.  Scrooge is tortured to see how happy he used to be, how much hope and promise his life once held, and how he lost sight of that happiness in pursuit of the almighty dollar.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

#1 – The Ghost of Christmas Past is an odd looking mannish sort of creature, with flames glowing out of his head.  He carries a hat that looks like a candle snuffer, a little piece of metal that in the olden days, people would put over a candle to put the light out.

Is the past like a candle?  Intangible – you can’t really hold it without experiencing the physical pain of the flame.  Similarly, thinking about the past can bring about some good.  There are beautiful moments that shine like a candle flame.  However, there are sad moments, regrets, things we wish we had done differently.  If we reach out and try to make those memories real in our minds, we are burned, just as if we touch the candle.  The past cannot be changed and yet we often wish it could be, because we grow older, we realize how all the mistakes we made add up and how if we had just made different choices, our lives would have turned out better.

Are there any choices you currently face that might have an impact on your future?  Think as yourself as Scrooge in the future, observing your actions right now with the help of the Ghost of Christmas Past.  Would your future self have any advice to give? What would it be?

#2 – Fezziwig was Scrooge’s former boss.  This is a case where Dickens exceeds at “show, don’t tell.”  In Stave 1, we received a rather dour discussion of Scrooge’s counting – house.  Ice cold, grim, Scrooge working on business until the very last second of the day, excoriating his clerk for the slightest error.

Was such heavy handedness necessary?  After all, we learn that Scrooge’s old boss, when Scrooge was a young man, was Fezziwig.  Fezziwig too was rich, yet he managed to get his business done and still find time to play.  In modern parlance, “Fezziwig worked hard and played hard.”

Whereas Old Scrooge cursed his clerk for wanting Christmas off, Fezziwig bars the doors of his office, has everything moved to create a dance floor, and brings in fiddlers and dancers and food and fun, inviting Scrooge and other employees to quit work early and dance the night away.

Is Dickens trying to teach us about having a balanced life?  Is it possible to work hard and play hard and be successful at both, or must one give way to the other?

#3 – Scrooge was once engaged.  Alas, his fiancee grows weary over the fact that Scrooge spends more time chasing money than he does doting upon her.  This seems to be an issue in relationships.  Couples often fight over money, which means one spouse must work more to obtain it, but then they often fight over quality time, which means a spouse must work less to gain it.

How can couples work together to achieve a balanced relationship, one where there’s enough money and enough time to be happy together?  Is such a notion possible?

#4 – Clearly, the past pains Scrooge.  He thinks about his old life in the countryside, his sister, his old boss and work friends and parties, his lost love.  The past cannot be changed and yet regrets have a tendency to eat away at us.

To get older is to be peppered with constant spoilers.  To be young is to have all of life ahead and to be comforted by beliefs that things will get better.  To be old is to be aware of how things turned out yet to have no comfort in thinking that things will get better as there is much less time left.

How can we live our lives so as to be regret free?  Is that possible?  If we have regrets, how can we learn to live with them so that they don’t weigh us down?

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Bookshelf Battle Cast – Episode 1 – “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens” – Stave 1 – Marley’s Ghost – Discussion and Study Questions

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Huzzah, 3.5 readers!

The Bookshelf Battle Cast lives!  Yes, on this fine blog, I’ll be reviewing pop cultural happenings, attempting to be funny, and telling you all about my adventures as a magic bookshelf caretaker, yeti fighter and so on.

The podcast will be very different.  I am very, very far from being the world’s greatest vocal talent, so I’ll be playing it straight.  Each episode, I’ll be reading a piece of public domain literature.  After you listen to me read it in my mush mouth voice, stop by this incredible blog for a discussion and study questions.

FYI – apologies.  I’m new to this.  There were some technical difficulties.  I said I’d let my spokeswoman tell you all about who I am, but for some reason, Garageband did not like that file.  It became a big production to try to re-record the podcast, so I’ll try to figure out that for the next one.  Forgive me people, I’m learning as I go.

Oh well.  Check out what my spokeswoman would have said here:

In Stave 1 – “Marley’s Ghost” we begin with a classic line in literature – “Marley was dead to begin with.  Scrooge pops the joyous bubble of his nephew and local charity collectors, only to be warned by the ghost of his fellow usurer Jacob Marley that if he doesn’t change his ways, he’ll be a ghost too, forced to trudge the world with chains attached to him, lamenting the life he wasted on counting coins instead of helping the less fortunate.

STUDY QUESTIONS:

#1 – Dickens really, really, really wants the reader to know up front that Jacob Marley is dead, engaging in humor to insist, almost to a ridiculous degree, that he’s dead.  What’s the point of that?

#2 – Scrooge’s nephew states to his uncle that there are things that exist that bring him no monetary profit, but they make his life better just the same.  Christmas, says the nephew, is one of those things.  Is the nephew a positive thinker, a man who knows how to build spiritual wealth, or do you side with Scrooge, i.e. the wealth in your piggy bank is all that matters?  Can you think of some things that don’t bring you a monetary profit but still enrich your life?  Would you give those things up in order to make more money?  Can money buy happiness?

#3 – The charity collectors attempt to separate Scrooge from some of his dough, arguing that men of means have a duty to provide aid and comfort to the poor.  Scrooge counters with the claim that he supports prisons, union workhouses and so on (through taxes) and thus doesn’t owe the poor anything else.  What say you?  Are taxes enough, or should people with bucks to spare share them with the poor as well?

#4 – Jacob Marley is a ghost.  Chains and cash boxes and other monetary related devices are attached to him.  He must drag them around wherever he goes.  Further, Jacob spent his life never venturing past the counting-house, collecting money and ignoring the plight of the poor.  His punishment, like the punishment of the many souls Scrooge sees outside, is that in death, he must wander the world, seeing all the things he could have experienced and enjoyed in life, but now is unable to do so because he’s dead.

Will you be a ghost one day?  That’s a bigger discussion.  You will be old one day though…and your body will eventually give out on you.  When you’re old and gray and your knees fail, your body gives up and it exhausts you to walk more than five feet, what will you wish you had done in your youth?

CHALLENGE: Make a list of things you want to do before it’s too late to enjoy them…then DO THEM!  Picture your afterlife as a Jacob Marley-esque ghost, forced to drag chains and wander the world.  What would you like to see and do so that, if you ever become such a ghost, you can be happy knowing you got to do those things when you were alive?

Thanks for listening, 3.5 listeners.  The second stave will be out as soon as possible.

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This is Not Donald J. Trump (Trump Impression)

I’ve hit the big time, 3.5 readers.  I have been lampooned by Not Donald J. Trump:

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