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May 15 2006

How Fred Flintstone Got Home, Got Wild, and Got a Stone Age Life — what does it mean?

FredflintstoneSo if you read the New Yorker, you probably read the Opal Whatsername parody in Shouts and Murmurs, How Fred Flintstone Got Home, Got Wild, and Got a Stone Age Life. I spent much of Mother’s day with Ingrid, her mom, and her mom’s partner trying to figure out all the literary references… but although I usually think of myself as somewhat well-read — and think of Ingrid and Judy and Lori in that category as well — we could only come up with maybe a third of the them.

I Googled the title, assuming someone somewhere would have out an answer key online… but I couldn’t find one.

So do you know any of the literary references in this parody? If you do, please post them here.

The ones we got:

“Afoot and lighthearted, he took to the open road…” Ingrid thinks this is On the Road, but none of us are sure.

“Stonecutter for the world, toolmaker, stacker of meat…” Chicago by Carl Sandburg.

“It was the best of times, it was the first of times…” Tale of Two Cities, Dickens.

“Keep on truckin’” – Robert Crumb.

“See Dino run. Run, Dino, run.” -Whatever the title of that stupid Dick and Jane book is.

“Let us go then, Hominidae…” Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, T.S. Eliot. (I almost wrote “Love Scone.” Oops.)

“What makes Fred run?” I assume this is What Makes Sammy Run, but haven’t read it so am not positive.

“Wilma, light of his life, fire of his loincloth…” Lolita, Nabakov.

“Once again at midnight nearly, while Fred pondered weak and weary…” The Raven, Poe. (I can never hear this without thinking about the Simpsons…)

“And so he beat on, fists against the granite, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” -The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald.

So what are the rest of the references? Help, please!

22 comments

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  1. 1
    Susie Bright

    “A screaming comes across the sky.”
    Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow.
    Oh my god, this is hilarious. I’m going to try and find some more.

  2. 2
    Susie Bright

    The closing exchange in “The Sun Also Rises,” by Ernest Hemingway:
    “Oh Jake, we could have had such a damned good time together.”
    “Yes. Isn’t it pretty to think so?”

  3. 3
    Susie Bright

    “Nothing’s more determined than a cat on a tin roof – Is there? Is there, baby?”
    “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” Tennessee Williams

  4. 4
    Alan Winston

    (With many thanks to google, although I did get the Buck Mulligan thing myself, and the Arthur Miller.)
    “A screeching comes across the sky” is “A screaming comes …”; opening line of “Gravity’s Rainbow”.
    “Stately, plump” is Joyce’s Ulysses, eg:
    Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. A yellow dressinggown, ungirdled, was sustained gently behind him by the mild morning air. He held the bowl aloft and intoned:
    “Afoot and lighthearted” is Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road”
    Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road, Healthy, free, the world before me,
    The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.
    I’m sure “repeating to himself as he ran” is something I’ve read, but can’t place, and google shows you and the New Yorker.
    “Fred Flintstone never made a lot of money” etc. is Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman”. Attention must finally be paid.
    “All the modern inconveniences” is Mark Twain, Life on the Mississipi.
    “He feels the wind on his ears, his heels hitting heavily on the gravel, but with an effortless gathering out of a kind of sweet panic growing lighter and quicker and quieter, he runs” is _Rabbit, Run_ by John Updike.
    “Oh, Fred,” Wilma said,” we could have had such a damned good time together.” (…) “Yes,” I said, “Isn’t it pretty to think so?” …
    is Hemingway, _The Sun Also Rises_
    (substituting “Jake” and “Brett” in the appropriate places.)
    Can’t quite place “Some fun” and “Shut up”.
    “Nothing’s more determined than a cat of sabre tooth” (scans like Kipling, which threw me off) is actually “.. a cat on a hot tin roof. Is there, Baby?” from the Tennessee Williams play.
    Here’s the nut graf from John Cheever’s “The Swimmer”:
    The place was dark. Was it so late that they had all gone to bed? Had Lucinda stayed at the Westerhazys’ for supper? Had the girls joined her there or gone someplace else?… The house was locked, and he thought that the stupid cook or the stupid maid must have locked the place up until he remembered that it had been some time since they had employed a maid or a cook. He shouted, pounded on the door, tried to force it with his shoulder, and then, looking in at the windows, saw that the place was empty.
    I hope this helps! All hail Google!

  5. 5
    Alan Winston

    I just want to say I never expected to find myself in a quote-finding race with Susie Bright.
    But honored to be here!
    – Alan

  6. 6
    Susie Bright

    okay, one last one. I could do this all day:
    “The place was dark. Was it so late that they had all gone to bed? Had Lucinda stayed at the Westerhazys’ for supper? Had the girls joined her there or gone someplace else?… The house was locked, and he thought that the stupid cook or the stupid maid must have locked the place up until he remembered that it had been some time since they had employed a maid or a cook. He shouted, pounded on the door, tried to force it with his shoulder, and then, looking in at the windows, saw that the place was empty.”
    John Cheever, “The Swimmer,” his famous short story

  7. 7
    Susie Bright

    Peel out, baby!

  8. 8
    Eric Albert

    “He outlives this day and comes safe home” is from the St. Crispin’s Day speech from Shakespeare’s _Henry V_.

  9. 9
    Eric Albert

    “I am simply a human being, more or less” is from _Herzog_ by Saul Bellow.

  10. 10
    Ruth

    I can’t tell you how delighted I am that you all play this kind of game, too. I was reading the Shouts and Murmers just today finally and laughing my head off. I think I had about a quarter of them.
    thank you, thank you all.

  11. 11
    Ruth

    I loves me some Google, and nail the title:
    “How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life,” by Kaavya Viswanathan.
    The NY Times ran a review last week noting that:
    At least three portions in the book “How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life,” by Kaavya Viswanathan, bear striking similarities to writing in “Can You Keep a Secret?,” a chick-lit novel by Sophie Kinsella. — The Times, May 2

  12. 12
    Eric Albert

    “And they trotted off, Alice repeating to herself, as she ran, the words of the old song:” is from _Through the Looking-Glass_ by Lewis Carroll. [Told to me by Kremlin of the National Puzzlers' League.]

  13. 13
    Eric Albert
  14. 14
    Eric Albert

    By my count, that’s every sentence in the piece. Anyone notice one we’ve missed?

  15. 15
    Greta Christina

    Oh, my God. You guys rock. I can’t believe we got the whole key in less than a day.
    One question: Is “Ah: runs.” part of “Rabbit Run”? That phrase sounds freakishly familiar, and I haven’t read “Rabbit Run” so I don’t know if that’s where it’s from.
    The thing I think is interesting is how many of these are from things I have in fact read, and yet didn’t recognize. Though the only one I’m really kicking myself over is “Alice.” I thought I knew those books backwards and forwards…

  16. 16
    Eric Albert

    Yes, I already checked that “Ah: runs.” is part of _Rabbit Run_.
    Yr Obsessive Friend,

  17. 17
    Greta Christina

    I think that’s it, then. I think we got ‘em all. Thanks to everyone for playing! I’m feeling very smug and proud of my friends — one of my first reactions to seeing this piece was to try to find a key to it online, and I couldn’t believe there wasn’t one. I’m very proud of us for making our own. The DIY timewasters!

  18. 18
    C.S. Lewiston

    “”Once again at midnight nearly, while Fred pondered weak and weary…” The Raven, Poe. (I can never hear this without thinking about the Simpsons…)”
    I can never hear it without thinking of Lord Buckley (“A Most Immaculately Hip Aristocrat”, Straight Records, 1968 and then Demon Verbals)

  19. 19
    Terri D

    Wow…so cool that you guys figured this out. I, too, was searching for a cyber-key. When none appeared, I started googling bits and pieces. To my surprise, I found this blog.
    Rock on! If only I sooner knew there were such literary folk around…

  20. 20
    Francie Neukom

    I can’t believe you didn’t get the title. The New York Times has been splashing that story all over the front page for weeks!
    Thanks for this. My mom and I were having fun figuring it out, and we got about 3/4 of them before we found this.

  21. 21
    Greta

    The New York Times? Hah! I spit on the New York Times!
    Actually, I don’t. I just don’t read it. But yes, I could have looked up the name of the plagiarized book/subject of mockery in question. I just didn’t feel like it.
    And I’m so glad people are finding their way to this key! Clearly another crucial piece of my plan for world domination has fallen into place…

  22. 22
    Anonymous

    yay

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