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July 23, 2013 11:15 AM   Subscribe

In 1980, two years before her death, she was offered a short column in “Parade.” Here are some excerpts. Ask Ayn, by John Hodgman. (SLNewYorker)
posted by Lutoslawski (46 comments total) 54 users marked this as a favorite

 
"In other movie news, I did not like how easily the boy escaped Jack Nicholson in “The Shining.” I have solved all the hedge mazes in the United States and Europe, and I can tell you they are not that complicated."

I hope he does this as a series. It's way too good a premise for just a one-off column.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:27 AM on July 23, 2013 [12 favorites]


Ayn Rand on the Dead Author's Podcast, featuring John Hodgman
posted by gladly at 11:28 AM on July 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


It's worth noting that a good chunk of this material is available, in an alternate form, in Episode 20 of The Dead Authors Podcast, itself a work of genius hosted by Paul F. Tompkins as H.G. Wells.

My best guess would be that the podcast had Hodgman either improv-ing or workshopping what would later become the New Yorker piece.

Fans of comedy, authors, and/or both are heartily welcome to check out the D.A.P. The Aesop episode is awesome.

On preview: dammit, gladly!
posted by Shepherd at 11:28 AM on July 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


It's so good, it's worth at least two recommendations!
posted by gladly at 11:30 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


remember to send me your favorite ways to spice up Hamburger Helper

In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. So add a shitload of Tabasco and enjoy the ride.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:31 AM on July 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


You probably know that I received a prescription for the stimulant Benzedrine, or “speed.” I can say rationally that it increases my happiness and my productivity. For example, some time ago I went to Studio 54, because I love to dance on speed. I took fifteen speed pills, and I got into a contest with Liza Minnelli over who could roar most like a jaguar. She simply sounded like a stupid lion.

Ridiculous and glorious.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:34 AM on July 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


This is great.
posted by brundlefly at 11:35 AM on July 23, 2013


John Hodgman is a treasure.

Though if I was forced to choose between Ayn Rand really being on Match Game and Ayn Rand really being on Fantasy Island... I could not choose. Because I want both of those things to have been true SO MUCH.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:35 AM on July 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ayn Rand enjoyed something of a renaissance in popular culture, including a week as a panelist on “Match Game”

I have to admit, this completely derailed me and sent me Googling frantically to find out if it was true, because OMG THAT WOULD BE AWESOME. I'm picturing her in the front row, next to Richard Dawson...
posted by dnash at 11:36 AM on July 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


My favorite Twitter account right now is ‏@SenileDonDraper but I'd follow a @SenileAynRand account if it were always this funny.
posted by Cheezitsofcool at 11:38 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mike Nelson of MST3K once wrote a remark about the televsion series "Friends" in which he says something like: "Friends" is so precisely calibrated to appeal to my specific demographic that watching the show and buying the products of its sponsors seems like a mere formality, a foregone conclusion.

I am beginning to feel that way about John Hodgman. He's become my favorite living famous person.
posted by Ipsifendus at 11:40 AM on July 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well, since it's been broached, if revisionist interpretations of famous authors / well-researched improv comedy is your bag, here are some standout Dead Author podcasts. Some of them (Borges, Abbie Hoffman) actually surprised me with how well the comedians inhabited their "roles". Others, like Aesop and Conan Doyle, are pretty much straight-up comedy gold.

The Marquis de Sade, featuring Andy Daly
The Brothers Grimm, featuring Jeremy Carter and Matt Gourley
Arthur Conan Doyle, featuring Chris Tallman
Jorge Luis Borges, featuring Nick Kroll
Aesop, featuring Mark McConville The moral of this one is to listen to the Dead Authors Podcast. AESOP!
posted by Shepherd at 11:40 AM on July 23, 2013 [13 favorites]


dnash: "I have to admit, this completely derailed me and sent me Googling frantically to find out if it was true, because OMG THAT WOULD BE AWESOME. I'm picturing her in the front row, next to Richard Dawson..."

I was actually imagining her, sitting between a bickering Charles Nelson Reilly and Brett Sommers, flipping her blue card over, where she's written in magic marker "I reject the premise of the question."
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:40 AM on July 23, 2013 [44 favorites]


Because Ronald Reagan has deposed Jimmy Carter, and I predict that by 2013 my influence will be profound, and a new generation of leaders will hallow my name, and devotion to self-interest and capitalism and the free market will not be the exception but the rule, and these leaders will naturally share my disapproval of religion, my support of abortion rights, and my love of Godiva chocolates. I have to stop writing now, because I have chewed through my typewriter.

Sick burn, Hodgman.
posted by COBRA! at 11:42 AM on July 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


I was actually imagining her, sitting between a bickering Charles Nelson Reilly and Brett Sommers, flipping her blue card over, where she's written in magic marker "I reject the premise of the question."

(why can I only favorite this comment one time? I'm dying of laughter here...)
posted by dnash at 11:46 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


The only flaw of Arrested Development is that Ayn Rand is not a recurring character and one of Lucille's nemeses.
posted by The World Famous at 11:57 AM on July 23, 2013 [11 favorites]


Oh god, this is hilarious.
posted by Corinth at 12:04 PM on July 23, 2013


In her defense, these were the days you had to poke your finger through the top of the aluminum can to get soda.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:13 PM on July 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


and a guest appearance on “Fantasy Island” as the Spirit of Capitalism.

I wish this had happened! It would've been even better than the time Andy Warhol appeared on The Love Boat and that's probably the greatest TV moment ever.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:19 PM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ayn Rand: The Later Years (the Wikipedia section on Rand). A show-woman to the end, there was a six-foot-long flower arrangement in the shape of a dollar sign placed near her coffin (Google books preview).
posted by filthy light thief at 12:22 PM on July 23, 2013


there was a six-foot-long flower arrangement in the shape of a dollar sign placed near her coffin (Google books preview).

That says the dollar sign flower arrangement was "in the coffin beside her body." I really want that to be true, but it seems too completely insane even for Ayn Rand. I wonder if it's true.
posted by The World Famous at 12:28 PM on July 23, 2013


"I am joking, because I am not joyless." And her musings on Fresca. Comedy gold.
posted by the_royal_we at 12:32 PM on July 23, 2013


I wrote a comment to this thread, but you cannot read it, because I did not so much type it as I injected it into your brains via high-speed thought daggers.
posted by gern at 12:58 PM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


.....Lyndon Baines Johnson—the founder of the so-called Great Society, which I consider to be the greatest insult to the individual man since Immanuel Kant first laid out his preposterous theory of the noumenal, that is to say, not objective reality....

I would have understood that when I was about twelve. Now, nothing.
posted by glasseyes at 1:21 PM on July 23, 2013


Is there any one else in the whole wide world who has ever read a book by Ayn Rand called Dear and Glorious Physician, an imaginative biography of St Luke the Evangelist, or am I dreaming?
posted by glasseyes at 1:26 PM on July 23, 2013


Google informs me that Dear and Glorious Physician is by someone called Taylor Caldwell. And my brain informs me that the Dead Authors Podcast is fantastic and I want to squeeze-hug John Hodgman.
posted by forgetful snow at 1:30 PM on July 23, 2013


.....Lyndon Baines Johnson—the founder of the so-called Great Society, which I consider to be the greatest insult to the individual man since Immanuel Kant first laid out his preposterous theory of the noumenal, that is to say, not objective reality....

This is rather tangential, but Hodgman's satire is funny in an interesting way because of details like this. Wouldn't the obvious choice for a (popularly-disseminated, parodic) Randian critique of Kant probably start with a flat and blunt rejection of the categorical imperative, or something in his moral philosophy at least? But no, Hodgman has her going for metaphysics.
posted by clockzero at 1:31 PM on July 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


Thank you! Brain slip! All these years I've confused those two rather dissimilar authors.

This explains a great deal.
posted by glasseyes at 1:36 PM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


a guest appearance on “Fantasy Island” as the Spirit of Capitalism.

I want [this] to have been true SO MUCH.


Findlaw headline:Detroit Regional Chamber Of Commerce Rejects Idea Of Ayn Rand Fantasy Island

Mimes: "You're welcome."
posted by Herodios at 1:41 PM on July 23, 2013


Hodgman/Rand:. . . the greatest insult to the individual man since Immanuel Kant first laid out his preposterous theory of the noumenal, that is to say, not objective reality . . .

Clockzero: Wouldn't the obvious choice for a (popularly-disseminated, parodic) Randian critique of Kant probably start with a flat and blunt rejection of the categorical imperative, or something in his moral philosophy at least? But no, Hodgman has her going for metaphysics.

Perhaps, but the key word in the above is objective, eh?

Clockzero: Hodgman's satire is funny in an interesting way because of details like this.

There really is no other use for a classical education these days than to put it in the service of humour.
 
posted by Herodios at 1:50 PM on July 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


But wouldn't the only people who would find it humorous be others educated in the classics?
posted by Apocryphon at 1:58 PM on July 23, 2013


But wouldn't the only people who would find it humorous be others educated in the classics?

That's the idea.
posted by grubi at 2:00 PM on July 23, 2013


My thought upon reaching that Kant paragraph was "oh my god, her philosophy's even more funny-inept than I thought!"

Was Hodgman fooling, or does she seriously reject the idea of the thing-in-itself because reason? Like, oh em gee...
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 2:10 PM on July 23, 2013


does she seriously reject the idea of the thing-in-itself because reason? Like, oh em gee...

Basically, yes.

"Kant’s expressly stated purpose was to save the morality of self-abnegation and self-sacrifice. He knew that it could not survive without a mystic base—and what it had to be saved from was reason."
posted by dnash at 2:32 PM on July 23, 2013


"A government is the most dangerous threat to man’s _________ (blank)."

Panel?
posted by MoxieProxy at 3:56 PM on July 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hey, Forum 2000/3000 is back!
posted by Eideteker at 5:00 PM on July 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


"My moral philosophy is founded on the idea that there is an objective reality, and that man’s senses can perceive this objective reality. This faculty, which is man’s reason, is paramount above all else. He takes for evidence only his own experience, his own judgment, and that is why I do not hesitate to say, objectively, definitively, that “Caddyshack” is the year’s best movie.

Rodney Dangerfield plays a self-made man who is not ashamed of his ambition, who does not apologize for his success, and who gets excitement from the joyful reality that we are all going to get laid if we are willing to be productively selfish and to stop coddling the weak."


This is giving me flashbacks to reading students' essays in my Intro to Film course.
posted by palindromic at 5:03 PM on July 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Caddyshack was also well-chosen in it being one of the most slack-celebratory movies of all times.

America, with your altruism and your Alan Alda and your Fresca cans biting at my skin.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:05 PM on July 23, 2013


"A government is the most dangerous threat to man’s _________ (blank)."

Panel?


"PATOOTIE" --Charles Nelson Reilly
posted by gimonca at 7:28 PM on July 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


It's just Larry King's USA Today column with various objectivist ranting mixed in. I do not find Hodgeman funny. Amusing and tiresome is the best I can muster for him.
posted by gjc at 8:44 PM on July 23, 2013


If you have the opportunity to see John Hodgman do his Ayn Rand bit live, do not miss it. Not only is the accent hilarious, but the dresses he wears to do the bit reveal that the man has a set of quite shapely calves!
posted by whitneyarner at 8:45 PM on July 23, 2013


Gene, I said "BABY".

(*ding!*)
posted by petebest at 4:23 AM on July 24, 2013


There really is no other use for a classical education these days than to put it in the service of humour.

Says you. Mine got me laid and a wife!
posted by Talez at 7:46 AM on July 24, 2013


"A government is the most dangerous threat to man’s _________ (blank)."

<Paul Lynde> ... family jewels *snicker* ... </Paul Lynde>
posted by octobersurprise at 8:41 AM on July 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


John Hodgman has achieved the hitherto impossible: a Shouts & Murmurs that is actually funny.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:57 PM on July 24, 2013


Sacrilege!
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:18 PM on July 29, 2013


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