March 5, 2012

If you love books, or history, or both, and have a sense of humour, make sure you pick up Kate Beaton’s Hark! A Vagrant, a book of cartoons. It’s absolutely hilarious!

One of the best parts is the commentary Beaton offers, aside from the cartoons. Here are some of my favourites:

“InAnne of Green Gables, the plucky young orphan grows from a child with a wild imagination and a tongue she cannot hold into a sophisticated and responsible young lady. If there were no scene where she gets the puff-sleeved dress she pines for, I think there would have been a chapter where she slaughters the whole town.”

“Dynasties the monarchy way are so easy! You have a kid? Great, they are next in line for the best throne in the Throne Room. In America it’s hard because you have to ‘prove yourself’ and maybe people have to ‘vote for you’ and that’s difficult! No one knew that better than Joe Kennedy Sr., who trained his wife to give birth to the United States Senate.”

“Weren’t most superheroes first created to fight Nazis? Guess they had to find something else to do after the war.”

“At Queenston Heights there is a stunning monument to a man who would not order his men anywhere he would not lead them. Somehow, mysteriously, this man got himself shot by a sniper. By mysteriously, of course, I mean that everyone was largely dressed the same, except for the fellow in front with the giant hat, big brass buttons, and, oh I don’t know, rippling epaulettes. And anyway, of course you’re going to shoot that guy.”

“These days Tesla is enjoying a belated surge in popularity. Everyone seems to be on Tesla’s side now, against Edison; whereas before, Edison was the hero and Tesla was some nut job making a different lightbulb. Edison is getting to be well known as the jerk he totally was! But let us never forget: he wasn’t the only one, as Marconi demonstrates for us. I bet there is a ton of shit Tesla invented that got stolen by other people. Probably cool things like skateboards and helicopters. Patent your inventions, kids.”

“Pearson had the Little Minority Government That Could, giving people free health care, pensions, and student loans for the first time, among other achievements. He gave a lot to Canada, which we–correctly or not–like to claim as proof of some national character; he symbolizes the things we like about ourselves. If only we could go back in time now and tell that to the people who made fun of his lisp.”

“Everyone has to read The Great Gatsby in high school because it’s the best example of constructing a novel with themes and symbols, like legos, only not legos but The American Dream and the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg. Fifteen-year-olds can really get behind an essay on what the green light means, which is good, because they sure as heck won’t relate to any of the characters, who are all huge jerks with enough money to be wasted most of the time on top of being miserable.”

“Wasn’t it lucky for Henry that disagreeing with the Catholic Church and wanting to get rid of its power also meant pocketing a load of cash? Those monks were holy bros who prayed a lot, but they were also getting their Friar Tuck on in the Party Room of the Monasteries and Henry needed that wine money for wars and probably some wife-related funeral expenses.”

“The play Hamlet is a case study in the behavior of depressed young dudes during the time before your could just let off steam by listening to Morrissey records in your bedroom with the lights turned off. How many monarchs has Morrissey really saved with his music. We may never now. But what is irrefutable is that there are many less regicides these days. A connection??”

And one of my favourite comics: