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574. webfeet - 4/28/2006 4:04:15 AM

Jen--While I simply have an irrational sweet tooth, I think Sendak's reasons go much deeper. I think there is something so inherently comforting about milk and cake that their presence belies a world of unspeakable horrors. Of children torn from their families and the safety of their bedrooms. They turn up everywhere in his stories; at the end of 'Where the Wild Things Are' Max wakes up in his wolf suit and what is waiting for him at his bedside? Milk and cake. "Little Bear" has quite a lot of cake for a cub--at harvest parties, duck's birthday party, there are dancing gingerbread men who run away in the snow. The comforts of the home, in all its forms-- but most notably in the kitchen, figure prominently in all the stories.

In 'Brundibar' milk is no longer a third party player. The novel is obsessed with the act of purchasing milk. It's life or death now. The children need to buy their sick mother milk or she will die. I'm not sure if Hitler is the milkman or not in this story. I've only leafed through it in one of those distracted moments at the bookstore, but there is a picture of a baker selling a smorgasbord of cakes and tarts. At the end, the children rejoice; there is enough milk and cake for everyone and they somehow shame Hitler into leaving them alone. The world is free of evil.

Sendak collaborated with Tony Kushner on 'Brundibar.' Kushner, who wrote the screenplay for 'Munich', is best known for writing 'Angels in America' and 'Perestroika.' He is, in a word, extraordinary.

575. webfeet - 4/28/2006 4:05:46 AM

Snowowl--you must cite examples from this essay! Please!

576. webfeet - 4/28/2006 4:10:51 AM

wonkers--loved the wedding photo, btw. Really elegant, and you wore it with such aplomb!

As the one who reads to my children near what feels like my own witching hour--at the end of the day Seuss is a tangle of words to get over my tongue and i want to throw the book across the room after the first page. But I do recognize his gifts at teaching language. All those gobbledeygook mouthfuls of rhymes really hit home to my son who is now a reader and delights in the language play.

577. alistairconnor - 4/28/2006 9:07:06 AM

But have a care. there's all that humanist, anti-consumerist, ecologist propaganda to plough through in Seuss. Some times, reading to my children, I found myself close to tears. What a subversive writer.

In Sendak, I never saw much of a message. Just the genius of his personal universe, immediately accessible, full of childlike wonder. But I'm probably missing stuff.

Milk in the batter! Milk in the batter! We bake cake and nothing's the matter!

My brother was in publishing at the time the Night Kitchen was published, apparently there was controversy over nudity, and the fact that the little boy had a penis, and pronounced the words "cock a doodle doo"...
Apparently Sendak had had a brush with cancer, and this symbolised his exuberant rebirth or something.

578. uzmakk - 4/28/2006 4:04:59 PM

I sent Arky an email.

579. PelleNilsson - 4/28/2006 5:13:53 PM

That's momentous. Nothing will be the same again.

580. uzmakk - 4/28/2006 5:15:49 PM

Not for me it won't, I promise you that, Nilsson.(!)

581. alistairConnor - 4/28/2006 5:16:25 PM

No, I think that's the opening line of the Novel.

582. uzmakk - 4/28/2006 5:17:11 PM

Snobby, intellectual Swede, MF.

583. uzmakk - 4/28/2006 5:17:46 PM

Novel in the form of interesting.

584. uzmakk - 4/28/2006 5:19:39 PM

Menu posted this weekend. Cafe opens.

585. uzmakk - 4/28/2006 5:21:21 PM

Nilsson, you have no idea what you're getting involved with here.

586. PelleNilsson - 4/28/2006 5:26:07 PM

Bring it on!

587. uzmakk - 4/28/2006 5:36:50 PM

Imagine, if you will, that I went to the trouble of posting
THUNDER in 20pt. type.

588. uzmakk - 4/28/2006 5:41:29 PM

Can I get you into the Cantina? Special today: Mother's Own Borsch w/wo a wedge of cave-aged brie plunked squarely in the middld.

589. judithathome - 4/28/2006 5:54:48 PM

Wow...that sounds very good!! A hunk of crusty dark bread alongside?

590. uzmakk - 4/28/2006 6:26:51 PM

Always good bread, Judith, as you well know.

591. webfeet - 4/28/2006 8:35:32 PM

It's 2 a.m and Maurice and I are laying in bed together, post-coitus. It's actually Little Bear's bed, and we are sitting up resting on the wooden headboard, with a tray between us. On this tray are two large pieces of chocolate cake and a glass of milk. We have just discovered that we both love Mozart. Now he is teaching me a little yiddish; what are mishigass again? I ask, sidling up to him as I take a bite of the cake. Mishigass, he says, are your phantasmagoria. As you're drawing you say "oh my goodness! A fish house!" or "oh my goodness a mushroom house!" * It's strange to see them on paper and to recreate them during a production, as I did when I was working on the set of 'Hansel and Gretel'
'Are they like your boogeymen?' I ask, suddenly aware that Owl, Cat and Hen are peeping at us, every now and then through the window. I shew them away. 'They can be,' he says, not noticing. 'They come from inside your head.'
"Maurice, tell me what 'Sendak' means again in yiddish?'
"It means fish," he says, helping himself to the reest of my cake. "I've used it emblematically in my stories, especially to give my father pleasure.**"
"And the moon?"
"That's my mother watching down over me," he smiles. He's tired. "I think webfeet, that I'm getting sleepy," he says, removing his glasses and rubbing his eyes.
'Oh, Maurice," I say sadly, imagining the long shadows on the corridor back to my room. 'Bedtime already? When am I going to see you again?'
'How about the Peninsula Hotel?' he asks, turning over.
'Can we take a bubble bath together and eat warm croissants?'
'We can do anything you want," he says and I know, as I turn to go, pulling the covers over him and shutting off the night light, that he means it.

592. webfeet - 4/28/2006 8:36:54 PM

*excerpts from Backstage at Lincoln Center interview with Maurice Sendak

593. webfeet - 4/28/2006 8:41:14 PM

In Sendak, I never saw much of a message. Just the genius of his personal universe, immediately accessible, full of childlike wonder. But I'm probably missing stuff.

"The subject of all my work from the beginning, my books and everything I've done is-to put it simply-the extraordinary heroism of children in the face of having to live in a mostly indifferent adult world. Generally speaking, people don't understand what's going on in the heads of small people. I side with the kids all the time."
--Maurice Sendak, excerpt from Backstage at Lincoln Center

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