Day 15 – 1500+ words (Summary of novel)


Spoiler Alert…this is not quality writing.  But I made a challenge and by gosh I’m sticking to it.

The Great Gatsby…in 1500+ words

*Note:  Legend has it that author Hunter S. Thompson (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) typed out the entire text of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby in order to know the feeling of writing a great novel.

This is not going to be that.


A-freaking number one.  Nick Carraway is not the booze hound driven to professional therapy he’s made out to be in the 2013 film.  That said (and I do feel better now) let’s get started.

Nick’s over 30 when he begins telling you what he recalls from about three years earlier when he lived in New York briefly in 1922.  He starts by expressing that one of the staples of his father’s advice was that not every kid has the exact same advantages and upbringing.  It’s a hard fact for others to swallow, but it certainly applied to the people with whom he spent time that fateful summer.

After his friend ditched him and took a job elsewhere, Nick was left to find a place of his own and landed in a place called West Egg.  Even though his former servants’ quarters was small, he was surrounded by new, phenomenal mansions that rented for over sixty times what he was paying.  The people of West Egg were classy, but they essentially received sneers from those who lived across the water at East Egg.  Nick’s not too materialistic and doesn’t really give a shit what they think.  He’s just trying to learn the job his time at Yale prepared him for.

As it happens, a cousin close to his age has married one of Nick’s classmates from college and now resides just across that same body of water–in East Egg.  Shortly after being settled in, Nick pays her and her husband Tom Buchanan a visit.

Tom’s pretty much a rich prick who’s had everything around him handed to him.  Sure, he went to school, but he’s no nine-to-fiver.  Tom doesn’t punch a clock, he clocks women–but we’ll get to that in a little bit.  Daisy is Nick’s cousin and is almost weirdly overjoyed that he’s come over.  Her friend, a golf pro named Jordan Baker is hanging out with the Buchanans.  They’re all just drinking and lazily maintaining minimal conversation.

As Nick gets comfortable, Jordan asks him if he’s knows Gatsby since they both live in West Egg.  Nick had heard the name but has not met him in person yet.  Daisy repeats the name rather oddly and Tom just pours down another scotch.

The four of them sit to be served dinner.  The discussion soon turns to race because Tom has read some profound book that suggests the white folks are in trouble and will decline as a race unless they stand up.  Nick and Daisy (and probably Jordan, though she doesn’t say much at the table) just chalk it up to Tom Being Tom and they all but drop it.

Then the phone rings and, over the next minute or so, we learn that it’s some dame Tom has been banging on the side.  The even more curious aspect of the call is that Daisy followed her husband into the next room and argued with him about the call.

Nick leaves shortly thereafter, and when he gets home, he sees a man he correctly presumes to be Gatsby staring off toward Tom and Daisy’s place–specifically at the green light at the end of their dock.

Some short time passes and Nick is abrupty whisked away on a Sunday afternoon by Tom who wants him to meet his girl on the side.  They stop at a filthy auto garage and Tom talks with the owner, a man named George Wilson.  Soon after, George’s wife comes downstairs from their apartment and George leaves the room long enough for Nick to piece together that this woman–Myrtle Wilson–is Tom’s mistress.  A rendezvous is set and Nick and Tom leave a moment later.

With Myrtle, the two classmates go into New York City and end up at an apartment Tom rents.  It’s small and sparce–just the type of place a man takes a woman for a short, intimate time or to have a small gathering of people.  On that Sunday, Tom and Myrtle call up some people and the room is quickly buzzing with their friends.  Nick, who tried to leave earlier before the other partiers arrived, is now getting blasted and mixing with strangers.  One woman, Catherine, is Myrtle’s sister.  She doesn’t think Myrtle and Tom love either of their spouses, and she’s probably right.  However, Tom has told Myrtle (who has told Catherine) that he can’t get divorced due to her religion.  Nick finds this curious because Daisy is far from Catholic.

The party continues and people drink.  Myrtle gets a little too gone and starts in on Tom about his wife Daisy.  She says his name loudly, as if to humiliate him.  He shuts the door on that though and breaks her nose right in front of everyone.

Nick changes the mood in his tale and shifts to the night he met Gatsby.  All summer long, Nick’s next door neighbor Jay Gatsby had been putting on these incredibly elaborate parties every other Saturday.  The guy was droppin’ major dollar bills to host hundreds of people at his mansion and estate.  Live music, two separate meals, champagne everywhere, dancing until the wee hours.  All standard.  At one of these parties, Nick shows up and runs into Jordan.  Eventually, Gatsby settles in beside Nick at a table and they strike up a converasation.  Only, Nick doesn’t know it’s Gatsby right away.  Nick’s told he’s to ask for anything he wants and to enjoy himself.

A little later that night, Jordan is pulled away for about an hour to talk to Gatsby alone.  She finally comes out of his office as the party is dwindling.  While she can’t tell Nick what she and Gatsby discussed at that moment, she promises to do so in the near future.

Nick shifts again and tells the reader a little about the types of people who went to Gatsby’s that summer.  Mostly wealthy people and/or entertainment celebrities.

Nick and Gatsby, one day, take a ride into New York for lunch.  They end up meeting a older distinguished man named Meyer Wolfshiem.  This dude’s a sophisticated gangster.  Gatsby tells Nick later that he’s the guy who fixed the World Series a few years earlier.  Anyway, we get the impression that Nick is uncomfortable and tha t Gatsby just thought him meeting Wolfsheim would maybe make a deal offer a little sweeter.  Nick’s far too busy to dwlve into deals of that gravity.  It’s at theis moment that Jordan–in a talk later–explains to Nick what she and Gatsby talked about at that previous party.

Turns out that Daisy and Gatsby have a bit of a past.  They fell hard for one another about five years earlier–long before she met Tom.  Now, Gatsby’s back from the war, rich as shit, and wants his dreamgirl back in his life.

Over the next couple chapters, things are looking good.  The previously jaded Daisy has all but forgotten about her husband’s disloyalty and has been seeing Gatsby on the reg.  Nick’s not privy to everything they do, but he has to know that it isn’t right.  He knows someone will get hurt in the end, it seems.

The culminating chapter is cahpter seven when all five of the major characters–Gastby, Nick , the Buchanans, and Jordan–are together for the first time alone in the same room.  The tension and the temperature are rising fast, and Daisy suggests the group drive to New York and find something fun to do.  They take two cars–Daisy and Gatsby go in Tom’s blue one while the other three take Gatsby’s yellow one.  On the way, Tom stops at Wilson’s garage.  He’s already upset about thinking his wife’s been spending too much time with this unknown Gatsby guy, but that’s just the beginning.  Turns out that Wilson has figured out that his wife has been cheating on him too!  Of course, we know it’s been with Tom, but Wilson has yet to put that together.  The garage man says he and his wife are moving out of that dump soon.

Now Tom’s red-hot irritated.  He’s pretty used to getting his way, though.  So, he keeps his cool once all of them end up at the ritziest hotel in Manhattan.  Things are a little lighter, but that doesn’t last.  Tom goes after Gatsby’s character and a fight ensues.  No fists, just accusations and stories.  Based on what he’s learned about Gatsby, Tom can’t believe his wife would want to marry someone with such a checkered record.  Gatsby, on the other hand, seems more confident than ever that she’s going to leave Tom and be with him.  They’re sent home together, which suggests that Tom knows Daisy will never leave him.

Since we’re only with Nick, we ride along as they head home.  They come up on an accidnet at Wilson’s garage and see that someone has died in the street.  It turns out to be Myrtle, who was evidently running toward the car she thought contained Tom.  That car hit her and never even stopped, the witnesses say.  George remembers the car they describe and thinks Tom must have been involved.  Tom explains the car mix-up and they jet out of there.

With Myrtle dead, Tom’s distraught and Daisy has yet to make her decision clear.

Nick advises his neighbor that it’s a good time to lay low and even bounce outta town for a minute.  No can do, Gatsby says.  He’s going to just wait for Daisy to come over and they can work on their future.

Nick goes on to work but can’t truly function.  That afternoon, George, thinking Gatsby’s the one who killed his wife–almost forgot to include that Daisy had been driving and ran over her husband’s mistress–shoots him, then himself.

Nick learns of the murder-suicide and is immediately put in charge, since no one else seems to really know much about Gatsby.  All his friends–and Daisy–are suddenly unreachable.  Gatsby’s dad arrives and Nick has to tell him about the success his son had enjoyed before his untimely death.  You get the impression that Gatsby and his dad were not really eye to eye on much, but at least he came once he learned the news.

After the sparcely attended funeral, Nick learns that Tom directed Wilson to Gatsby–made him think he was the driver/killer.  Both Tom and Daisy bounce out of New York in a minute and are never heard from again.  Nick’s fed up with all of them anyway–especially Jordan.  He moves back to his hometown and appears to be putting his own life back together.

Day 10 – 1000 Words – Summary of TV Show


I chose to write about Married…With Children because it’s been about a quarter-century since I watched it regularly but I realized how much of it I recall.  Unlike Seinfeld, which I have all but memorized, MWC is formulaic, which could explain why I remember so much.  As I kept typing, the words and images kept falling out.

Kelly (Christina Applegate) and Peg (Katy Sagal).

Married…With Children


Someone today is probably still cashing checks for approving the production of what became a cult classic sitcom in the late 1980s.  Shown then on little-known Fox, Al Bundy and his hysterically funny and dysfunctional family, friends, and neighbors, presented a new voice of Americana.  Sure, there was nothing knew about a white family whose house had been cut open for the viewers to peek inside.  Furthermore, the fact that only one adult within the home had a regular (paying) job while the other stayed home was not shocking.

But it pretty much stops there.

Peggy Bundy, Al’s cigarette-laden wife, regularly dressed in skin-tight leggings and/or high-waisted pants.  She epitomized the ‘anti-wife” of American television, much in the same vein as a rival TV mom played by comedian Roseanne Barr.  The younger sibling, Bud, was an adolescent boy whose wit outweighed his “game” with girls his age.  He was, in short, an Al in the making.  Lastly, perhaps topping Al as the most sought-after character (my own bias notwithstanding) was Kelly Bundy.  Kelly, played by Christina Applegate, fulfilled more cliches than a single sentence can possibly contain.  However, looking back on the show some twenty-five years after watching it each week, I have found a new, enlightened perspective on its value to 1980s and 90s American culture.

While any one individual episode is too difficult for me to remember, I’ll be speaking from here on out on a general level.  The images I’ve retained should suffice.

The formula for the show was similar to other sitcoms from the past, present, and future (nowadays).  Usually, Al found himself saying or doing something that, to him, exemplified his discontent with his family, other citizens, or the Washington beauracrats.  His rallying cries stirred up a live audience that was not discouraged to catcall any time any attractive woman hit the set.  He confided a lot with his son–teaching him the morals he’d learned and exemplified.  A running joke in the show referenced Al’s long-ago success on the high school gridiron.  Many of his buddies played with him and they all seemed disgruntled with adulthood and enamored by their memories.  As a ladies shoe salesman, Al had the misfortune to spend his working hours surrounded by women’s sour attitudes toward male clerks and their sour feet.  The typical customer he dealt with was either unattractive, rude, overweight, or simply just bitchy.  Upon arriving at home, where he longed each day to be a place of sanctuary, Al found himself never getting the chance to unwind for a long period.  Anytime he turned on a favorite program or a sporting event, his life was rudely impeded upon by his son’s desire to have a man-to-man talk, his daughter’s dates trapsing in and representing disaster (and typically a toss out the door), or his wife’s pleading to “come upstairs.”  While Peg had a more mature sex appeal, Al was rarely if ever anxious to storm upstairs to be with his wife.  In fact, their relationship was perhaps the most uncouth on the show.

Peg and Al made a habit of meticulously poring over each others’ flaws and mistakes.  While Al typically felt proud that he was the breadwinner, thus entitling him to certain freedoms, Peggy equally felt her household maintenance went unnoticed, which led her to feel unappreciated.

The character who became the mystery was the son, Bud.  Bud was at times, for me, the most relateable.  He vehemently tried to get laid, fit in, and had no qualms about calling out his sister for her poor choice in boyfriends or dates.  An obvious Al-in-training, Bud snuck swings of warm, cheap domestic beers, had fairly intelligent chats with his father, but also had a rather embarrassing collection of pornographic magazines in his bedroom.  Standing probably five-six at best, he was inherently socially awkward with girls who agreed to date him.  Bud was on course to become a hapless romantic who may or may not sell women’s shoes one day.

The final member of the Bundy clan is Al’s daughter Kelly.  Kelly Bundy covers the spectrum as a functional character in a sitcom.  Kelly Bundy was a teen hearthrob.  The amount of clothing she wore in any given episode would rival that of a pillowcase.  Since almost each episode of the show dealt with Al dealing with something that bothered him, the stress was balanced by the free-spirited, dingy daughter.  While he was either getting screwed by the government, sports, people at work, or his own family, his daughter, as scantily clad as she was, was always his sweetheart.  He cherished her.  He never said anything too deroggatory about her.

In short, he was the worst parent she could have had.

Even though she may be remembered for her sex appeal, Kelly Bundy was one of the most significant overall characters from the 1980s.  She used her body more than her brain at times, but she ended up usually playing an integral part of the moral to the story.  That is, when the episode had a moral.

This is where the cliches begin.  Sure.  I think Married…With Children changed television.  Many shows have done that.  Groundbreaking?  Perhaps.  While I don’t believe the spouse-bashing began with the show, they certainly worked their way to the apex of that list.  As a kid, I also loved shows whose teenage girls varied in attractiveness, but none came close to Kelly.  I don’t need to close my eyes right now to remember the Christina Applegate poster that hung in my room throughout my teens.  Curled hair with one hand pushing part of that blonde hair back.  Deep red-lipped smile.  Black floral top.  High-waisted denim shorts.  Printed signature with, I believe, a heart beneath.

This truly American family made its mark twenty-five years ago.  It should be eternally available in syndication.  It will be shown one day on an Oldies-style television channel.  My two-year-old son will someday discover it.

But will I watch it with him?

Other Reviews


Once in a while, I have an opportunity to read a short story from a collection, an article or story from Harper’s or the New Yorker, or even some pathetic literature that had been stuffed under my windshield wiper!  If I come across anything worth lauding, I will place it here.  It gives my brain a chance to really flex my vocabulary and impress both of my readers.