Friday, August 14, 2009

Things I'd Like to See This Weekend on C-SPAN's "Book TV"

11:00 am Do Fictional Death Panels Threaten Fictional Characters?
So-called "death panels," which would determine whether the elderly and the infirm are given end-of-life care or sent to the Soylent Green factory, do not appear in any Democratic proposal for health care reform; yet they are widely accepted as fact--a tribute to the special powers of make-believe enjoyed by such masters of fiction as Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich. In this discussion, a panel of literature professors takes up the question: If these fictional death panels were to be passed into fictional law, would fictional characters be at risk? Their conclusions: Ernest J. Gaines' 110-year-old heroine, Miss Jane Pittman, would be put to sleep before she could write a single word of her autobiography; Thomas Berger's 111-year-old hero Jack Crabb, aka Little Big Man, would merit a medically-induced one-way trip to meet the great Everywhere Spirit before he could relate any of his Wild West tales; and F. Scott Fitzgerald's Benjamin Button would be euthanized at birth. On the other hand, H. Rider Haggard's 2000-year-old Queen Ayesha would be perfectly safe--as "She Who Must Be Obeyed," Ayesha would just tell the panel to piss off.

3:00 pm Film Adaptation
The staff of BookCourt, a Brooklyn bookstore, talks about Julia Roberts' recent visit to shoot a couple of scenes for her new film. Included: An in-depth discussion of why a movie star visiting a bookstore can draw media attention, tie up traffic, and light up the Twittersphere, but when an author goes to the movies, nobody cares.

11:00 am Damn Wordy Apes!
A documentary exploring the venerable tradition of memoirs written by chimpanzees. Included are recent contributions such as Me Cheeta: My Life in Hollywood (currently a contender for Britain's prestigious Man Booker Prize) and the forthcoming Bubbles: My Secret Diary, from Swaziland to Neverland by Michael Jackson's longtime companion. Classics of the genre are also revisited, including: Don't Call Me Monkey!, by J. Fred Muggs, in which he describes his battles with NBC to become the first simian anchor of the "Today" Show; Dutch and Me, by Bonzo, recounting his film work with Ronald Reagan and his later political activism, rallying the vital support of Hollywood's ape community to help elect Reagan president in 1980; and Tire Swing to the Stars, by Ham, the first chimp shot into space, who reveals that throwing your feces in a zero-gravity environment is not advisable. Hosted by The Monkees' Davy Jones, author of They Made a Monkee Out of Me.

2:00 pm Obscure Dickens
A series profiling lesser-known Dickens characters. This week: Bibulous Tosspot, a dope fiend who uses Pickwick's papers to roll doobies.

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