mojo's blog

Happy Birthday, Phineas!

Phineas Gage

So yesterday, it turns out, was the birthday of Phineas Gage. If you DON'T know who Phineas Gage was, you have either been living under a rock for the past twenty years, or you have ABSOLUTELY NO INTEREST WHATSOEVER in human behavior and/or neurobiology. I happen to be somewhat interested in these topics, but to be honest I am getting a little tired of them trotting out poor winking Phineas whenever they want to make a point about impulse control in the human brain.



Cue the Theme from JAWS....

So this morning I went shopping super-early (to avoid crowds 'n' whatnot) and I was on my way home, which is mostly on dinky little rural roads out in the middle of nowhere. I had just turned onto yet another dinky little rural road and started climbing the hill that marks the beginning of the thousand-foot "mountain" I must climb to reach where my house actually is (they don't call them "The Hilltowns" fer nothin!).

Bow to Mojo, Your New THOUGHT LEADER

TEDxSo while bopping around the Innertubes this weekend I somehow managed--through LORD knows what sort of vile traipsing; really, let’s not pull that thread--to wind up at a TED talk. Like many people, when TED talks first became popular I enjoyed a great many of them, but sheer volume has not been all that kind to the franchise. Sure, the REAL TED people are smart enough to put a little “x” to tell you it’s not REALLY a TED talk, but merely someone who borrowed the name for free, but the more things get diluted the less the quality and the more.... pretension? I’m going to say pretension.

So the TL;DR version of the above paragraph is, some talks with the word "TED" in them now really, truly suck. Which is one of those things I happened to stumble upon this weekend: a sucky TEDx talk. Some nobody, pretending to be An Authority, blathering on for a quarter hour about something, I suspect, they actually know very little about. Which does not stop the blathering and pretension, of course; you just have to make the presentation all that GRANDER. Part of the pretension, I've noticed, is to speak like David Carradine in the old KUNG FU television show, wherein speaking bumper sticker slogans slowly and carefully is mistaken for profundity. (Ah, we were a simpler people then. A simpler people who were not above cashing in on cultural appropriation. But I digress.)

Okay, One Last ANNE Thing, and THAT'S IT.


Anne's House of DreamsOkay, while I COULD go on a long complainy rant about everything wrong with ANNE WITH AN E—Netflix’s determined effort to destroy ANNE OF GREEN GABLES—I will instead use this time and space to once more laud the comic genius of Marilla, Anne’s adopted…. well, I guess technically since she adopted Anne that would make her her mother, although that never felt exactly right; more like her Moral Guidance Counselor and Endlessly Patient Tolerator of Anne’s Many Shenanigans.

(I will not mention, among the series' many faults, its UTTER LIBEL of Marilla when--spoiler alert!--she shipped Anne back to the orphanarium. Marilla was NEVER such a monster, and NEVER ONCE did such a thing. But I digress.)

I found Marilla so hysterically funny throughout she quickly became my very favorite character in the all-too-many ANNE books. I lost interest in the series after she no longer appeared, since she was the sole knife cutting through all the sometimes disgusting treacle. Her very last appearance is in the intestine-cloggingly named ANNE’S HOUSE OF DREAMS, wherein Anne decides to curse the world all the more by breeding and having children (and, of course, losing her first one, because it wouldn’t be Anne unless it’s all so DRAMATICALLY TRAGICAL). Leave it to my dearest Marilla, even in the VERY LAST SCENE in which she actually speaks, to be the sole source of straight facts, brevity and, yes, HUMOR among all the gumdrops and lollipops when Anne finally manages to produce a living child:

Marilla Cuthbert, PATIENCE OF A SAINT

Everyone in the Anne of Green Gables universe is shrieking--both pro and con--about the new Netflix series based on LM Montgomery's timeless classic. I've seen the first one, and I can take it or leave it thus far. While yes, it is darker than other interpretations--and, to a point, in the at times tiresomely voyeuristic let's-dwell-on-the-beatings-a-la-Mel-Gibson sort of way that is so popular now--my main complaint has been more along the wild flights of fancy that never once appeared in the book(s) that are now appearing to flesh out the story into a multi-seasonal series. It's as if Anne herself had a hand in reintrepreting the story, and she has decided to make it as DRAMATIC and TRAGICAL as humanly possible. 

But all Anne stuff has the most welcome knife cutting through the treacle, in the personage of Marilla Cuthbert. I have tolerated Anne through the years, but I ADORE Marilla. And, to be honest, there is no getting around the late, great Colleen Dewhurst in the 1985 series to REALLY be Marilla, although the new Marilla, Geraldine James, is doing a good job of it thus far, so I can grudgingly forgive her for not being Colleen Dewhurst.


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