Friday, August 5, 2011


George came back in with the beer, paused while a handicap signal shook him up. And then he sat down again. “You been crying?” he said to Hazel, watching her wipe her tears.

“Yup,” she said.

“What about?” he said.

“I forgot,” she said. “Something real sad on television.”

“What was it?” he said.

“It’s all kind of mixed up in my mind,” said Hazel.

“Forget sad things,” said George.

“I always do,” said Hazel.

“That’s my girl,” said George. He winced. There was the sound of a riveting gun in his head.

“Gee — I could tell that one was a doozy,” said Hazel.

“You can say that again,” said George.

“Gee —” said Hazel — “I could tell that one was a doozy.”
There's the conclusion to Kurt Vonnegut's stellar short story "Harrison Bergeron," which I first read as a kid because some highly intelligent person included it in the reader we used in fifth grade. I think it was fifth grade. It might have been third. I had the first, third and fifth grades in the same classroom at Lincoln Elementary. Of course back then I didn't recognize the name of the author, but in stumbling across the story again and realizing who the author is now makes it significant. If you've never read the story, I highly recommend it. It's a good 'un.

The short film -- 2081 -- takes too many liberties with the story if you ask me. Too complicated, too silly. And they botched the ending. IN the film -- I'm going to spoil it for you -- they reverse the roles, letting George, not Hazel, see the death of Harrison on the TV. It doesn't work, because you expect George to react intelligently, despite the noises blasting away in his head. Instead it should be Hazel, too dim to react (then again, the story drives me nuts because if Hazel is of average intelligence, I weep for the species).

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