And Theodor Geisel as Dr. Seuss

sturm und drang

Seuss books
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

In this blog, Dr. Seuss has been mentioned numerous times, often on March 2, his birthday. I love the work of Theodor Geisel, especially Bartholemew and the Oobleck. It involves speaking truth to power. And oobleck is green. Though I found  The Lorax movie only so-so, I don’t fault the source material.

I’ve learned new words, such as gox, which my spellcheck doesn’t seem to like. REM confounded me with their reference to him. But Ted hasn’t said all of the trite things that have been attributed to him.

Back in 2009, I noted him as one of 20 men I admired. So this made-up “controversy” over the voluntary cessation of future publication of a few books hurts my heart. It’s because I think Dr. Seuss, were he still alive, might very well agree with the action.

As Ty Burr said in the Boston Globe, “You can still get a hold of the six early titles that Seuss Enterprises has chosen to cease publishing anytime you want to. They’re in libraries and used bookstores; they’re on eBay and Alibris and Amazon. No one’s destroying any copies; they’re just not printing any new ones.”

Recognizing changing attitudes

More to the point: “It’s likely the good Dr… would be down with that. Before his death in 1991, he expressed regret to biographers over the virulently anti-Japanese political cartoons he had drawn during World War II; a great-nephew told the New York Times in 2017 that ‘later in his life, he was not proud of those at all.'”

And have the folks screaming “cancel culture” even perused these books? I read If I Ran the Zoo as a child. And I found the stereotypes of “potbellied, thick-lipped blacks from Africa, squinty-eyed” Asians unsettling.

But I didn’t read And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street until I was an adult. The yellow-colored “Chinaman”, later recolored and relabeled “Chinese man,” bothered me greatly. I noted that things were different in 1937.

The sturm und drang of the false narrative exhausts me. The “thinking” is that “liberals” are inflicting the cancel culture. But folks such as Barack Obama and Kamala Harris had praised Seuss in public settings. Therefore liberals are also disingenuous hypocrites. QED. Oy.

Some folks seem to relish the fact that Dr. Seuss is now dominating the Amazon best-seller list. At this writing, 11 of the top 12. But, oddly, NONE of the six books being pulled is even on the Top 100.

See also what Jaquandor and  Chuck Miller wrote. Daily Kos quotes Ben Carson.  The Weekly Sift takes on the Silly Season in the Culture Wars.

Other Geisel stories

Final JEOPARDY! -aired 2021-02-02 WRITERS FOR CHILDREN: The Dartmouth Alumni Magazine gave “rejoice” as a rhyme for the correct pronunciation of his name. Seuss is the middle name of Theodor Geisel.

Check out the WWII-era Private Snafu.

In 2008, for the Albany Public Library blog, I noted Green Eggs and Ham had won a library award. I add some YouTube videos, But I passed on the famous Jesse Jackson reading of GREEN Eggs and Ham from Saturday Night Live, because of the series of racist remarks in the Comments section.

I’d love to see The Seven Lady Godivas (1939), Dr. Seuss’s Little-Known “Adult” Book of Nudes. But I don’t want to spend $250 to do so.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

— Dr. Seuss, “The Lorax

New Dr. Seuss v. new Harper Lee

Many of my friends expressed great anticipation at finally reading new words from Harper Lee.

JEOPARDY! episode #7008, aired 2015-02-18. Category: SEUSSIAN KEYWORDS

“Oom-pahs and boom-pahs” help this title elephant save folks from “Beezle-Nut oil”

“A ten-foot beard” & “a sleigh and an elephant” are said to be on this street

Sylvester McMonkey McBean dealt with “Star-Belly” & “Plain-Belly” these, who hung out “on the beaches”

“Flupp Flupp Flupp” & “the Father of the Father of Nadd” are found within his “500 Hats”

“Truffula Fruits”, “bar-ba-loot suits” & “Humming-Fish” are in the world of this title fella

Answers at the end.
I was delighted to discover that there were more Dr. Seuss stories, released in 2014, that had never been published in book form before.

The challenge of figuring out what was true about the children’s author drove [Northampton, MA dentist Charles] Cohen to spend more than 25,000 hours studying the life and work of Ted Geisel.

Over the course of his research, he kept seeing references to Dr. Seuss stories that he’d never heard and at first thought were just more misinformation. A trip to the magazine archives of the Boston Public Library proved otherwise.

There, in Redbook issues from the 1940s and 1950s, Cohen discovered approximately 30 Dr. Seuss stories that had never made it into books.

The illustrations, though tiny, were unmistakably Seussian, as were the themes, settings, characters, morals, rhythm and rhyme of the stories.

My affection for Seuss – whose name is often misspelled as Suess, even in the URL of the Newsweek story above – comes in large part because his characters were often taking on pompous authority figures. The king in Yertle the Turtle, a book I’d only first read in the last decade, literally takes a fall from his throne of oppression. My all-time favorite Seuss book, Bartholomew and the Oobleck, shows the lad chastising the king for his foolishness.

Yes, these “new” stories were published, but lost, until fairly recently.

In July 2015, a recently discovered manuscript with illustrations called “What Pet Should I Get” will be released. Random House “plans at least two more books, based on materials found in 2013 in the author’s home in La Jolla, California, by his widow and secretary.” Good news.

I was also pleased by the announcement that the sequel to To Kill A Mockingbird was going to be published, over half a century after the original. Many of my friends expressed great anticipation at finally reading “new” words from Harper Lee.

Then the backlash came. Don’t Publish Harper Lee’s New Novel, HarperCollins. The argument is that the author is “increasingly blind and deaf.” Importantly, “Lee’s protective older sister Alice died last year at the age of 103. And now, 60 years after stashing it in a box and stowing it away, the notoriously shy author decides to send an apparently unedited novel into the world?” Moreover, many of her neighbors are quoted as saying that they “believe her wishes for her career are not being respected.”

I’m feeling quite ambivalent about this. If Go Set a Watchman had come out posthumously, as some of the Seuss material is, would that have been a better outcome for Ms. Lee and/or her fans?

Not incidentally, today would have been Dr. Seuss’ 111th birthday.
I took one of those online quiz things, Which Dr. Seuss Character Are You?

Kind, curious, sweet, and small
You are easily the cutest of them all!

With eyes full of wonder
And dreams ne’r too big
Your heart lives to love
and your hands itch to dig

You care deeply for others
And take them as your own
Your heart is enormous
This you have surely shown

Our official results
peg you and Cindy Lou
As one and the same
Tis nothing but true!

This is SO wrong…
Oh, the Places You’ll Go

JEOPARDY! responses: Horton; Mulberry Street; the Sneetches; Bartholomew (Cubbins); the Lorax.

June Rambling: Hal Holbrook; Marimba Queens

I see signs that say ClOSED, and it makes me a little bonkers.

pinned on Pinterest by Roger Green (not me)
pinned on Pinterest by Roger Green (not me)

My denomination, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) voted for marriage equality at its General Assembly this month. “Ministers will be allowed to marry same-sex couples in states where it is legal.”

On the other hand, Freedom and Faith Coalition’s Road to Majority conference had an Obama figurine in the urinal.

CBS News Sunday Morning did a piece, Born this way: Stories of young transgender children. The ever-interesting Dustbury on Gender Confirmation Surgery.

Writer Jay Lake worked closely with Lynne Thomas, an Illinois-based librarian… to ensure that all his blog posts and essays would be saved for posterity. “Though this is a relatively uncomplicated task for his blog content, which he unambiguously owned, it gets problematic when you wade into the legal rights of preserving your social media presence. ‘You can’t just download Facebook content into an archive.’”

A cartoon from 2008, and still apt: A Concise History Of Black-White Relations In The United States.

Mark Evanier on O.J. Simpson trial nostalgia.

Evanier saw Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain. I remember watching the Holbrook special on CBS in 1967. Hadn’t seen it since, but it had a profound effect on me in terms of the wonders of storytelling. Also made me a big Hal Holbrook fan; I watched the Senator segment of The Bold Ones a few years later, which lasted one season, but won five Emmys.

Evanier introduces Julie Newmar to Wendy Pini. The former was one of the portrayers of Batman’s Catwoman; the latter, the artist who draws Elfquest, and who used to show up at FantaCo in Albany frequently.

Alex Trebek Sets A Guinness World Record For Hosting ‘Jeopardy!’ And Who is our new favorite ‘Jeopardy’ loser? His imitation of Putin WAS fun.

Eye Macs.

There’s a new blog, Verizon Wireless Hell. Meanwhile, Time Warner’s Roadrunner e-mail was out for several days, and not for the first time, but only the residential customers. As one unhappy customer I know wrote: ” TW is too big, and its equipment is too small, to provide reliable service, despite their eternal advertising.”

William Rivers Pitt: The Astonishing Privilege of Fatherhood

Distribution of letters in parts of words and auditory illusion.

The Seven Lady Godivas: Dr. Seuss’s Little-Known “Adult” Book of Nudes.

Jaquandor: please add this to my pet peeve list: the use of I as a lower case L. I see signs that say ClOSED, and it makes me a little bonkers.

Pantheon Songs on the importance of Blind Willie Johnson.

Jim Keays passed away. “He was the lead singer of The Masters Apprentices, one of the seminal Australian psychedelic rock and pop bands of the 1970s.” Eclectic stuff.

Tosy: U2, ranked 60-51 and 50-41.

Watch the bass player. Reg Kehoe and his Marimba Queens (ca. early 1940s). “This film seems to be a mirror image of how things are supposed to be. This is because original Soundie films were printed backward so that they could appear correct when played in the Panoram machine (an early film jukebox).” Someone flipped the tape, and it’s supposed to look like this. It’s also at 7:50 here, which has nicer resolution.

Was the Eagles’ ‘Hotel California inspired by an older Jethro Tull track?

Beatles’ lyrics and the words they used most. They used LOVE 613 times, more than any word that wasn’t a pronoun (you, I, me); an article (the, a); or a preposition (to).

The Groovy Imitation Bands of 1960s Japanese Rock.

Bobby Womack, the revered “poet” of soul music for his prowess as a songwriter as well as singer and guitarist, died at 70.

Maya Angelou reading her poem Phenomenal Women. And a graphic representation. Plus, Melissa Harris-Perry shares her exclusive interview with Dr. Angelou.

The Racialicious Tony Awards recap. The In Memorium segment, not in the show, only on YouTube(!)

A Tom Waits/Cookie Monster mashup.

A World Cup-themed Mickey Mouse short.

FROZEN support group. NSFW.

The 13 Most Ghastly Horror Comic Artists, Part 1 and Part 2.


Jaquandor thanked me for pointing him to a couple articles. One was about Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson returning to the comics pages in the Stephan Pastis’ Pearls before Swine strip.

Interesting that Julio cites me for providing a graphic about technology ethics when I clearly noted the source, but I appreciated the shoutout.

Is UNO the card game that destroys relationships? The Daughter and I like it, and she’s more cutthroat than I. Jaquandor loves Chuck Miller’s description of the game.

Arthur links to me linking to him, but also has interesting linkage about the Bible.

SamuraiFrog answers my question about politics and about Dustbury and Playboy Playmates.


Alcoholics fight ‘rampant epidemic’: Roger Green played for the Junior All Blacks. He screen-tested to play James Bond in Diamonds are Forever and acted on the big screen with Orson Welles. He married into British high society. Drove a white Mustang across the US. Made a fortune importing meat into Saudi Arabia. But he also had fights, criminal convictions, and three failed marriages. And he looks back on it all with disdain.

HOME angler Roger Green reeled in top prize in the Trowbridge Seniors match at Farleigh Wood on Tuesday with 29 lb 12 oz of carp and skimmers.

Dr. Seuss says (or does not)

Even though my daughter seems to have outgrown Yertle the Turtle, I most assuredly have not.

Seuss-quotes-2As a huge fan of Dr. Seuss, I was rather interested in this blog post by Chuck Miller: Don’t cry because you thought he said it. Smile because he didn’t. It dispels the myth that Dr. Seuss had uttered some trite thing, for which he had been attributed, just like pictures of late Andy Rooney and Ronald Reagan are posted all over Facebook with pithy quotes that they did not say.

There are plenty of things he DID say that are worthwhile. So much so that, even though my daughter seems to have outgrown Yertle the Turtle, I most assuredly have not. While we let her cull her book collection, the Wife and I have reclaimed some of the books that she’s given a pass on. Maybe she’ll rediscover them; maybe not. Oh, and that copy of Bartholomew and the Oobleck was MINE in the first place!

I invite you to:

Listen to Neil Gaiman read “Green Eggs and Ham, plus read about The Weird Strategy Dr. Seuss Used to Create His Greatest Work (And Why You Should Use It, Too).

Read some Brainy Quotes.

Listen to a sixth grade student reading The Lorax.

Watch Dr. Seuss and Social Issues. CSPAN, March 2013

Theodore Geisel would have been 110 today.

MOVIE REVIEW: The Lorax in 3D

The Lorax movie seemed to want to play to every audience.

I promised my daughter that we could see a movie last Saturday. What I had in mind was The Secret World of Arrietty, based on The Borrowers books. Unfortunately, it was in town for two weeks and then it was gone. Boo hiss. Since my wife had gone to see another film – Pina – the Daughter and I decided to see The Lorax at the Madison Theatre in Albany.

While I was/am a fan of Dr. Seuss, I was totally unfamiliar with the Lorax book, as was my daughter. In the movie, treeless Thneedville is where everyone seems to have the perfect suburban life. Well, almost.

Mr. O’Hare (Rob Riggle), who vaguely looks like the superhero boss lady in The Incredibles, gets to sell folks air. Young Ted (Zac Efron) is smitten with Audrey (Taylor Swift), and when she (somehow) starts drawing trees, real trees, and desiring to see them, Ted springs into action.

What follows is Ted talking to the Once-Ler (Ed Helms) about where the trees all went. He tells the story involving the Lorax (Danny DeVito), and I don’t want to reveal any more plot points, except that Ted’s grandma (Betty White) runs interference for Ted re: his mom (Jenny Slate).

The movie seemed to want to play to every audience. The Mission: Impossible theme for the adults – the animals were occasionally funny, though too cute; a sense of (not too much) danger for older kids; an environmental message as subtle as the Once-Ler family RV.

There were occasional good bits. The cameras everywhere remind me of the movie The Truman Show, or modern-day London or New York City. The budding romance had a couple of moments I could relate to. I laughed a few times. But ultimately, I thought it was a bit of a mess. The Lorax was a major player in such a small part of the movie. And paying extra for a 3D effect, which I could have done without, did not endear me either.

The Lorax movie website.

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