26 July, 2013

Mike and Psmith

The story takes place shortly after the conclusion of Mike at Wryken. Mike has become increasingly proficient at cricket but, because of his poor school results, his father decides the best thing for Mike is to send him off to Sedleigh, a far smaller school, with a far lower-ranked cricket team. After meeting his Housemaster he meets a well-dressed youth with a monocle, another new student, who introduces himself as Psmith (formerly an Etonian) and, he says, a socialist.
“I am with you, Comrade Jackson. You won’t mind my calling you Comrade, will you? I’ve just become a socialist.  It’s a great scheme.  You ought to be one.  You work for the equal distribution of property, and start by collaring all you can and sitting on it […].  [Chapter 3]
Mike and Pmith instantly become good friends and, even with their extensive cricketing experience, they decide to avoid playing cricket for the school and join the archaeological society.  Mike, however, misses playing cricket and soon plays for a local team.  The two participate in a number of  troublesome but exciting adventures.
In this novel, Wodehouse introduces one of my favorite fictional characters, and one of the very few of his creations to be based on an actual person, Rupert D’Oyly Carte, Wodehouse later described Psmith as “the only thing in my literary career which was handed to me on a silver plate with watercress around it”.  Psmith is one of Wodehouse’s finest characters.  Psmith explains that the P in his surname is silent, “as in pshrimp” and was added by himself, in order to distinguish him from other Smiths, the sheer idea of doing something so simple yet so unheard of is nothing less than genius and is just one of the many points which make Psmith such a great character, that and the nonchalant way he insults the teachers without insulting them:
If you ever have occasion to write to me, would you mind sticking a P at the beginning of my name? P-s-m-i-t-h.  See?  There are too many Smiths, and I don’t care for Smythe.  My father’s content to worry along in the old-fashioned way, but I’ve decided to strike out a fresh line.  I shall found a new dynasty.  The resolve came to me unexpectedly this morning.  I jotted it down on the back of an envelope.  In conversation you may address me as Rupert (though I hope you won’t), or simply Smith, the P not being sounded.  Compare the name Zbysco, in which the Z is given a similar miss-in-balk. See?”
Mike said he saw.  Psmith thanked him with a certain stately old world courtesy.
 [Chapter 2]
He staggered back with the basket, painfully conscious all the while that it was creasing his waistcoat, and dumped it down on the study floor. Mr. Downing stooped eagerly over it. Psmith leaned against the wall, and straightened out the damaged garment.  [Chapter 20]
“Sit down, Smith,” said the housemaster.  “I can manage without your help.”
Psmith sat down again, carefully tucking up the knees of his trousers, and watched him with silent interest through his eyeglass. The scrutiny irritated Mr. Downing.  “Put that thing away, Smith,” he said.
“That thing, sir?”
“Yes, that ridiculous glass.  Put it away.”
“Why, sir?”
“Why!  Because I tell you to do so.”
“I guessed that that was the reason, sir,” sighed Psmith, replacing the eyeglass in his waistcoat pocket.  He rested his elbows on his knees, and his chin on his hands, and resumed his contemplative inspection of the shoe expert, who, after fidgeting for a few moments, lodged another complaint.

“Don’t sit there staring at me, Smith.”

“I was interested in what you were doing, sir.”

“Never mind.  Don’t stare at me in that idiotic way.”
“May I read, sir?” asked Psmith, patiently.

“Yes, read if you like.”
“Thank you, sir.”  
[Chapter 21.]

“Be quick, Smith,” [Mr. Downing] said, as the latter stood looking at him without making any movement in the direction of the door.
“Quick, sir?” said Psmith meditatively, as if he had been asked a conundrum.
“Go and find Mr. Outwood at once.”  Psmith still made no move.  “Do you intend to disobey me, Smith?” Mr. Downing’s voice was steely.
“Yes, sir.”
“Yes, sir.”  There was one of those you-could-have-heard-a-pin-drop silences.

Psmith was staring reflectively at the ceiling.  Mr. Downing was looking as if at any moment he might say, “Thwarted to me face, ha, ha!  And by a very stripling!” 
It was Psmith, however, who resumed the conversation.  His manner was almost too respectful; which made it all the more a pity that what he said did not keep up the standard of docility.

“I take my stand,” he said, “on a technical point.  I say to myself, ‘Mr. Downing is a man I admire as a human being and respect as a master.  In—”

This impertinence is doing you no good, Smith.”  Psmith waved a hand deprecatingly.  
[Chapter 22]
One of the things which make Wodehouse’s books so great is the amount of detail he puts into planning so his small characters are portrayed perfectly and, unlike so many authors—who come up with a good character then skimp on the rest of them with no character development, simply using a mere hollow husk of a creation with a generic name—Wodehouse properly plans his story so that even a seemingly insignificant line early in the story may be important later.
This is a great read for anyone who is or isn’t already a fan of Wodehouse and will continue to amuse you after constant and repeated readings.  I recommend reading Mike and Psmith at least twice to make sure not to miss an ingenious line from any one of the interesting characters.

9 out of 10

P.G. Wodehouse, Mike and Psmith (London, 2012)

Mike at Wrykyn first appeared in the magazine The Captain as a the first story in a two-part serial titled “Jackson Junior”, and published as a novel, Mike, in 1909; “Jackson Junior” was republished separately as Mike at Wrykyn in 1953. The second part of “Jackson Junior”, originally titled “The Lost Lambs” in The Captain, was released separately as Enter Psmith in 1935, and finally published as Mike and Psmith in 1953.

This is the End

Jay Baruchel (played by Jay Baruchel), after arriving in Los Angeles, meets Seth Rogen (played by Seth Rogen), his old friend and fellow actor.  After smoking a lot of pot and playing video games, Seth invites Jay to James Franco’s housewarming party.  At the party, a swarm of celebrities drink, do drugs, screw, and indulge in other sinful acts.  Jay is uncomfortable around so many people he doesn’t know or care to know (including Jonah HillMichael Cera and Craig Robinson as themselves) asks Seth to accompany him to the shop to buy cigarettes.
At the convenience store beams of blue light suddenly descend from the sky to carry away several customers and other random people.  The terrified Seth and Jay flee back to Franco’s, home avoiding explosions car crashes and just general mayhem, to find the celebrities undisturbed by the pandemonium, and then laugh at Jay’s tale of mass abductions, but soon rush outside following what they think was a powerful earthquake to see the Hollywood Hills burning.
The film is filled with lots of masturbatory jokes and just enough swearing to make every nun in Rome faint.
Though there are more than twelve plot points or scenes that could have been done better or just changed slightly to make a more seamless and likeable experience, this film was very enjoyable and watchable for anyone who likes this sort of stoner-movie.  I enjoyed it and still smile when I remember some of the jokes made and look forward to the DVD’s deleted scenes and blooper reel.

8 out of 10

It would be interesting to see what some of these actors and actresses are like in real life, to see how close their movie portrayal is to their personal life and if these had any impact on the other; e.g. Seth Rogen plays just about the same character in every movie, so it wouldn't be a stretch to assume he really is like that the whole time or at least very similar.  Likewise, it would be interesting to see what Danny McBride is really like because he nearly always plays a dick-head on screen.


Columbus is a nerdy, wimpy asthmatic college student with IBS, who so far has been able to prolong his existence in the united states of Zombieland by following his list of rules on how to survive the Plague of the 21st century.
Rule #2 Double tap.  “In those moments when you’re not sure the undead are really dead dead don’t get all stingy with your bullets…” 
Rule #3 Beware of bathrooms.  “Don’t let them catch you with your pants down.”
Rule #22 When in doubt, know your way out.
On his way to Columbus, Columbus meets Tallahassee, a man who “sets the standard for not to be fucked with”; he gives Columbus his nickname Columbus so as to not get too personally attached.  Along the way they encounter Wichita and her little sister Little Rock, heading to Pacific Playland, and decide to travel together for a while.  Columbus the “peppy little spit-fuck he is”, is a great character though a little inconsistent—e.g. at the beginning he informs us that he has Irritable Bowl Syndrome yet the effects of that condition are shown only twice early in the movie; granted, referring to it every ten minutes would be overkill, but the way this movie is shot it could have had a scene of him urgently requiring a toilet-break while everyone waits for him during the road-trip montage.  The character Tallahassee, being the ass-kicking, zombie-hating, Twinkie-loving badass, is all well and good and he is by far my favourite.  Little Rock I found annoying but likeable.  I found Wichita the most annoying: she was just a bitch; this may be to her character being incomplete compared to the others and, whereas the other actors played their parts well and really fit their characters, I felt that there could have been a better choice than Emma Stone who didn’t really suit the rôle.
The jokes are as what you would expect from this type of movie—nothing really new, and we all know how it will end—but that doesn’t spoil the movie: it is still an entertaining eighty minutes of gruesome but funny zombie-killing and that’s the real reason you will watch this movie over and over again, not for its immersive story or in-depth look at the world; no, it’s for the zombie-killing goodness that we all crave to see and get way too exited about when we hear a new one is coming out.
Zombieland is just about what you want from this type of movie.

7.5 out of 10