Johnny Carson; The DaVinci code

My erratic (well not so erratic, considering its frequency) weekly posting seems to continue. I have no explanations so please don’t ask.

• First up today is the death of Johnny Carson. Being only 30, I don’t have a whole lot of knowledge of the span of his career. What I do know is that my Father once either took a night off at work, or came home early (twenty-five year old memories aren’t perfect) to watch Carson sing the song Rhinestone Cowboy. The only thing that I can actually remember from the show that he was so famous for is a line that was not even spoken by him, but by Ed McMahon, “I have in my hand an envelope, a child of four can plainly see these envelopes are hermetically sealed. They’ve been kept since noon today in a mayonnaise jar on Funk & Wagnalls’ porch”. That was the bit that they used to start the “Carnac the Great” skits, which is really all I can remember of the show. Well, along with some of the lame insults that he would hurl at hecklers during that skit. Strange and obscure stuff along the lines of “May unwanted house guests arrive and drink milk directly from the carton”. I was very young when I saw these shows and I remember that the lame curses were far funnier than the skit itself. I had always attributed that to my youth at the time, but in googling up some of the old dialogues I found that the lame curses were the only thing that made it memorable.

I think that most people in my generation (born in the mid seventies) know who Johnny Carson is/was, but remember him more for the parodies of him that Dana Carvey did on Saturday Night Live. They were, of course, exaggerated, over-the-top takes on Carson for sure, but it is strange that I think that Carvey (in makeup) looks more like Carson than Carson ever did. That is probably just me.

The reason that I think we need to pay a bit of respect to Johnny is that I can not think of any other entertainer, in any genre, that was able to keep so many adamant fans for three decades. In the channel-surfing world of today it is difficult for anyone to maintain and audience for a couple of years, let alone doing a stretch like Carson did. He stepped down not necessarily at the height of his career, but while he was still hugely popular, and he never did a comeback. He had his run, he was happy with it, he retired to live outside of the public eye. No comeback tours, no cameos in movies for a quick buck, he was done. I can’t think of any other celebrity that ever rode the wave so high, followed it to the beach, then simply walked away -Completely and Forever-. I’ll bet that his phone was ringing until the day he died with offers for movie cameos, tv spots, radio commercials and etc. and he never did any of it. Whether it was his pride, health or other that kept him from doing it, that leaves the world to remember him at his best. As it should be.

• I finally finished reading The Da Vinci Code several days ago. I was only reading the book based on a whole lot of reviewers saying that it was like the second coming of Christ. As it turns out, Christ’s second coming was not quite what I had expected.

The Da Vinci Code is of a genre that I never read. I am not sure if it would be classified as a thriller, mystery or action novel, but I usually only read fantasy or horror, this was certainly neither of those. The book just casually picks you up, then throws you into the maelstrom that is the story. I am not going to talk about the plot at all, since my wife is now reading the book and actually reads this site. What I will say is that I was fully immersed in the book until about page 370. It was moving so fast that I had read more than half of the book and still thought that it was just the introduction (a far cry from the trudging through the swamps for a month that you get used to in fantasy novels). I really thought that it petered out a bit towards the end, but that might be a personal issue.

The book does a pretty remarkable job of mixing the historical information into the story, though there were times that I felt like I was reading a lame history book; Who the hell cares if the glass pyramid outside of the Louvre has exactly 666 panes of glass in it if that fact is not going to be important later? Many historical buildings are tied into the story, probably just because the guy spent so much time researching them that he had to put all of them into the book, regardless of how well they tied into the flow of the story.

Being that the book is called The Da Vinci Code, and being that all of the clues that were left were actually written down, I actually solved a few of the codes in my head several pages before the primary characters did. Not that I am a genius or anything, but there are only so many ways that one can simply use letters to create codes. The first one that I had solved, long before the primary characters, said “O! Draconian Devil”. The book is called The Da Vinci Code, FFS, wouldn’t Da Vinci be what you are looking for in the lettering? I did, as did probably everyone else that has ever read the book. Imagine that, it is an anagram for Leonardo Da Vinci. I really did my best to not solve the word puzzles in my head after that, thinking that I might inadvertently stumble onto the ending without reading the book. That was, thankfully, not going to be an issue.

The ease of the first couple of codes made me question whether the rest of the world was simply stupid, however, the codes got more advanced. The codes, in fact, got so advanced that that they weren’t even codes anymore. The codes became an issue of interpretation of sentences. That is where it started to get out of my hands/mind as far as trying to solve the puzzles myself anyway.

Without going too much further into description of the book, I will say that I liked it. I didn’t particularly care for the way that it ended, but it was an ending. I am now of the camp that believes that it was only a best-seller for the sake of the religious overtone. The novel Angels and Demons is a previous work from the same author (which I have ordered online) that is supposedly a much better book. After finishing that one, perhaps I will be able to give the author some props, who knows.

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