The Annotated Big Sleep

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This was Raymond Chandler's first novel, from 1939, penned after a few years writing short stories for pulp mags like Black Mask and Dime Detective. I think I first read it back in the early 1970s, maybe once or twice since. And (of course) I watched both the movies one with Bogie and the other with Mitchum in the role of private eye Philip Marlowe. When I noticed that used paperbacks of this "annotated" version were pretty cheap at Amazon, I bit. Always looking for new insights.

Chandler's text (footnoted) is printed on the book's left-side pages. Footnotes themselves (written by scholars Owen Hill, Pamela Jackson, and Anthony Dean Rizzuto) are on the right-side pages. This makes them easy to follow.

The classic opening has Marlowe "calling on four million dollars": the frail oil magnate General Sternwood at his palatial estate in Beverly Hills. (One of those footnotes points out that $4 million in 1939 would be about $70 million today. A decent sum in any case.) Marlowe is tasked with investigating how Sternwood's younger daughter, Carmen, wound up being blackmailed by a shady bookseller named Geiger. And (by the way) Sternwood's older daughter, Vivian, has a missing husband that the General took a liking to. But Marlowe isn't asked to investigate that. Not directly, anyway.

Well, Phil is off to the dark underbelly of sunny Los Angeles. (Where it seems to be raining a lot.) Geiger turns out to be a sordid character indeed, but before Marlowe can confront him, Geiger winds up on the floor of his house with a couple of slugs in him. Witnessing all that was a drugged and naked Carmen. And there's a camera. Empty. And then other bodies start piling up.

So much for the plot, how much do the annotations add to the reader experience? It's a mixed bag. Some are trivial. (Did you know that a "croupier" is the guy running the roulette wheel? Well, maybe not everyone does.) Some are overly literary, looking for symbolism and psychosexual indications. The anecdote about Chandler being asked by movie screenwriter Leigh Brackett who committed one of the murders, and replying that he didn't know for sure—that's here. Some others are pretty interesting. For example, I never noticed that (spoiler, sorry) "Pretty much everything that did happen [in the novel] would have happened anyway without Marlowe." Well, I can think of one thing, but I get the annotator's point: Marlowe observes, he's less of an active participant. Not for lack of trying though.


Last Modified 2024-01-14 4:41 AM EST

The Phony Campaign

2023-02-26 Update

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No changes to our phony candidate list this week. Although Michelle Obama is uncomfortably close to breaking back into contention; she's at 1.8% (as I type) at EBO.

And 'Other' is maintaining his (or her) strong showing with (again, as I type) an 11.2% chance of becoming our next president.

In terms of the phony standings, Secretary Pete seems to be making a run at challenging Governor Ron for the top spot. Given recent news, that's unsurprising. Veep Kamala moved impressively from sixth place to fourth.

And Nikki Haley dropped from fifth place to last:

Candidate EBO Win
Probability
Change
Since
2/19
Phony
Hit Count
Change
Since
2/19
Ron DeSantis 23.0% +1.2% 4,770,000 -20,000
Pete Buttigieg 2.2% -0.2% 2,520,000 +1,090,000
Donald Trump 20.5% -0.2% 1,070,000 -30,000
Kamala Harris 3.1% -0.6% 737,000 +640,800
Joe Biden 27.3% +0.8% 354,000 +15,000
Gavin Newsom 2.5% -0.8% 45,500 +3,800
Nikki Haley 3.5% -0.2% 37,700 -75,300

Warning: Google result counts are bogus.

The news behind the phoniness:

  • J.D. Tuccille claims that President Joe might have been less that straightforward in the pledges he made ("as a Biden") during his previous campaign: Biden Promised a Return to 'Rule of Law' Governance. His Record Says Differently..

    Once upon a time, Joe Biden touted himself as the return of "the rule of law, our Constitution and the will of the people" after the whim-driven behavior of his erratic predecessor. Well, every politician needs a marketing hook, but like many of his colleagues Biden doesn't take his own P.R. very seriously. As have other officeholders, the current president quickly started playing fast and loose with legality, and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) says those habits continue to this day with some administration appointees exercising power in violation of the law.

    "Pursuant to section 3349(b) of title 5 of the United States Code, we are reporting a violation of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 (Vacancies Act), at the Federal Labor Relations Authority [FLRA], with respect to the General Counsel position," the GAO noted on February 8. "Specifically, we are reporting that the service of Charlotte A. Dye as Acting General Counsel from November 16, 2021, through the present day is in violation of the Act."

    Frankly, I am getting kind of bored with pointing out Biden's impeachable conduct. Let's get a new president so I can start pointing out their impeachable conduct.

  • Andrew C. McCarthy thinks Nikki Haley’s Call for Mental-Competency Tests Is a Stunt.

    Ilike Nikki Haley. I don’t give her presidential bid much of a chance, but I think she’d be a fine president — far better than the one we have now and better than most we’ve had for the last three decades. She’s got a better shot at the bottom than the top of the ticket, and even if she falls short of the vice-presidential nomination, she should be well-positioned to be a significant player in the next Republican administration, ideally starting in January 2025.

    Unless she goes clown-show, that is, in which case she’ll make herself irrelevant in a hurry.

    So I’m sorry to see Haley start out with a clown-show proposal, one that undercuts what should be the strength of her brand: that she’s a serious person, optimistic about the nation’s prospects while well well-informed and realistic about its challenges. If that’s where you’re coming from, you don’t want to start out by proposing something that would be patently in violation of the Constitution you want people to believe you will preserve, protect, and defend.

    As John McCormack notes, Haley has proposed a mental-competency test for politicians over the age of 75 who want to serve in high office. It’s try-too-hard politics for someone whose very age (51) and appearance testify loudly to her advantages over some of her main competition, including the incumbent president (80 and feeble) and the former president (76 and becoming a crazy-uncle caricature). Haley doesn’t need a law to contrast herself with these older rivals. And she should want to prove herself by beating them fair and square, rather than rigging the game to disqualify them.

    I don't see any reason for the age requirement. George F. Will is 81, and I'm pretty sure he'd score pretty high. Way higher than Biden (80) or Trump (76).

    A couple election cycles back, I got tired of journalists posing "gotcha" questions to candidates they obviously despised, while better-liked candidates got softballs.

    That's why my clown-show proposal is some sort of televised quiz show featuring all major candidates.

    Since this great idea has zero chance of implementation, I haven't worked out the details yet.

  • Emma Camp is not a fan of one of the proposals from Governor Sunshine State: Ron DeSantis Wants To Rewrite Defamation Law.

    A legislative ally of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis introduced a bill in the Florida House on Tuesday that would remove many of the legal protections against defamation lawsuits established in the 1964 Supreme Court case New York Times v. Sullivan. The new bill is yet another attempt by DeSantis, an aggressive critic of defamation law, to curb First Amendment protections in Florida.

    Introduced by Rep. Alex Andrade (R—Pensacola), the bill would make sweeping changes to the standards for pursuing a defamation claim against a public figure. The law would narrow the definition of a public figure by excluding persons whose notoriety arises solely from "defending himself or herself publicly against an accusation," giving an interview on a subject, public employment (other than elected or appointed office), or "a video, an image, or a statement uploaded on the Internet that has reached a broad audience."

    Camp quotes Joe Cohn, the legislative and policy director at the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), who claims the proposed legislation is "aggressive and blatantly unconstitutional".

    Can we pre-impeach a president?

  • But that's not all from Ron: Emma Camp is on his case again with respect to a different assault on liberty: DeSantis Wants to Cultivate ‘Viewpoint Diversity’ By Censoring Colleges. With legislative ally Alex Andrade making a repeat appearance:

    A bill introduced at the Florida House this week aims to erase a wide range of academic freedom protections for faculty at state colleges and universities and enact strict requirements on university curricula.

    The bill was originally proposed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in January. "In Florida, we will build off of our higher education reforms by aligning core curriculum to the values of liberty and the Western tradition," said DeSantis in a January press release, adding that the legislation would be "eliminating politicized bureaucracies like DEI, increasing the amount of research dollars for programs that will feed key industries with talented Florida students, and empowering presidents and boards of trustees to recruit and hire new faculty."

    Just a suggestion, Ron: try to counter indoctrination at Florida universities without championing "likely unconstitutional" laws.


Last Modified 2024-01-22 9:00 AM EST