Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cannonball Read #11: The Thin Man, by Dashiell Hammett

"You damned fool, you didn't have to knock me cold. I knew you'd take him, but I wanted to see it." -Nora Charles

Nick Charles is a former private detective and cynical sot extraordinaire, hellbent on staying out of the gumshoe business. Nick is suddenly thrust back into detectiving and whatnot when Dorothy Wynant, the daughter of former acquaintance Clyde Wynant (the Thin Man himself), appeals to Nick to help find her father and solve the murder of his mistress. The plot then descends into a complete labyrinthine whodunit where suspicions flow more freely than the booze. It's crazy. Really crazy. People aren't who they say they are, new suspects appear every few pages, and that damned Mimi Jorgensen keeps lying her fool head off.

At times I found myself a little lost, from both the twists and the ever emerging cast of characters. But there were two addictive aspects to the book that kept me reading: Nick and Nora Charles. There's a chemistry between Nick and Nora throughout the book that is just so damned effortless that I found myself aching to be friends with both of them. The book is appealing on its own, full of dark corners, speakeasies, scummy felons, sarcastic cops, and hilariously manipulative women. But Nick and Nora Charles are the heart of the novel, bantering so frequently that I nearly had to catch my breath. They're so much fun that I rented the movie immediately after finishing the novel. And with one viewing, my love became eternal. The book has a hazy atmosphere, where the streets and clothes are gray and dingy and everyone's mood is just a little off from slight intoxication. The film manages to recreate the book's ambience and yet through the brilliant portrayals of Nick and Nora by Willian Powell and Myrna Loy, the movie feels joyous. Vibrant. I seriously love these characters. You become drunk from the force of your infatuation.

I'd say more, but I read this book about a month ago and I'm not one with articulation today. But...oh Nora. Please be my girlfriend. We can wear fabulous dresses and drink gin martinis while making ribald comments to the bartender.


It's strange to think that we can become so enamored of someone we've never met in person. I fall so hard for my friends. I want to see them all the time, I want to talk to them as much as I can, I want to make every problem of theirs disappear. And it's the same for those I meet in online communities. I've made connections with people on the internet before, but never as strongly as those on Pajiba. These funny, sweet, warped people who are so decent and make me wish I could live in fifty places at once.

I didn't know Amanda, and yet I feel like I did. I looked forward to seeing her name in the comments, I loved hearing about her son, and I laughed at her ability to debate about movies with a wit that I could only hope to have one day. And Jesus, her STRENGTH. How could someone face cancer that way, especially one so aggressive? I can't imagine...I can't imagine being that strong. I can't imagine knowing that your life has likely been cut short, and still be able to make jokes about zombies and scary bugs and books and so many other things we all discussed on Pajiba. I would sometimes shake my head at her blog posts, marvelling over just how scared she must have been and yet how hard she fought to stay, well, normal Manda. I am the definition of inarticulate...she was really special.

And she makes me love my friends even more today

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

So. Effing. Close.

Baseball!!! Is soon!!! Exclamation points!!! Convey excitement!!!

I'm giddy. No, I'm beyond giddy. I'm jump out of my pants delighted. God, I love baseball. I love the collective roar of CB Park when the Phillies get a home run. I love hearing "Kashmir" play over the loudspeakers, knowing that it's Utley's time to bat. I love watching Victorino steal a base, and Lidge close a game. I love the rivalry between us and the Mets, even though it gets ugly (how I hate the ugly). I love hearing Harry Kallas and Sarge and Wheelsy call the game. I love going to the stadium, walking along Ashburn Alley with my friends and a beer and laughing hysterically whenever the Phanatic dances on the dugout. I love playing hooky during the business persons' specials, taking a half day from work for the 1:00 games and sitting in the sun instead of my cubicle. I love watching the games at home with my roommate...screaming "Sac bunt!!", Jess sarcastically retorting "To. Pitch. BETTER" every time the announcers question a failing pitcher's needs, my constant need to pee every time something good happens.

Baseballs feels like my childhood. It feels like going to games with my dad, bringing my glove to the Vet even though we never once caught a foul ball, playing catch in the backyard until the last trickles of daylight ebbed away, and the sticky sweatiness of my softball uniform. It feels like red and white and furry green, and that tickle of nervous exhilaration in your stomach during a close game.

I can't wait :)