Rory’s Books from the Buy a Book Fundraiser

Rory buys several books at the fundraiser, but only a couple of the titles are visible. Gypsy the mechanic is volunteering her time to work at the fundraiser, and she points Rory to the astronomy section, as if Rory has an interest in this area, and Gypsy somehow knows about it. Both quite surprising things to learn! The Buy a Book Fundraiser is held outside the library, and may be raising funds for new books.

Inherit the Wind

A 1955 play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, fictionalising the events of the Scopes “Monkey” Trial. This was a legal trial in July 1925 where schoolteacher John Scopes was taken to court by the state of Tennessee for teaching human evolution. There was intense media scrutiny of the case, with publicity given to the high-profile lawyers who had taken the case. The prosecution had former Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan, while Clarence Darrow defended Scopes – the same lawyer who had defended child murders Leopold and Loeb, previously discussed. Scopes was fined $100, but the case was overturned on a technicality. The case was seen as both a theological contest, and a test as to whether teachers could teach modern science in schools.

The play gives everyone involved in the Scopes Trial different names, and substantially alters numerous events. It is not meant to be a historical account, and is a means to discuss the McCarthy trials of the 1950s, where left-wing individuals were persecuted as Communist sympathisers, under a regime of political repression and a fear-mongering campaign.

Rory might be particularly interested in the play because of the focus it places on the media, with reporter E.K. Hornbeck covering the case for a fictional Baltimore newspaper. He is based on journalist and author H.L. Mencken, previously discussed as one of Rory’s heroes, who gained attention for his satirical reporting on the Scopes Trial for the Baltimore Morning Herald.

Inherit the Wind premiered in Dallas in 1955 to rave reviews, and opened on Broadway a few months later with Paul Muni, Ed Begley, and Tony Randall in the cast. It’s been revived on Broadway in 1996 and in 2007, as well as in Philadelphia, London, Italy, and India.

It was adapted into film in 1960, directed by Stanley Kramer, and with Spencer Tracey starring as the defence lawyer, Dick York as the schoolteacher, and Gene Kelly as the Baltimore journalist. It received excellent reviews and won awards at the Berlin Film Festival. It’s also been made for television in 1966, 1988, and in 1999 (starring George C. Scott, Jack Lemmon, and Beau Bridges). It seems likely that Rory watched the most recent version on television.

Letters to a Young Poet

A 1929 collection of ten letters written by the Bohemian-Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke, to a young officer cadet named Franz Xaver Kappus at the Theresian Military Academy in Wiener Neustadt, Austria between 1902 and 1908.

Kappus had written to Rilke, seeking advice on the quality of his poetry, to help him choose between a literary career, or one as an officer in the Austro-Hungarian Army. Kappus had been reading Rilke’s poetry when he discovered that Rilke had earlier studied at the academy’s lower school in St. Pölten, and decided to write to him for advice.

Rilke gave Kappus very little criticism or suggestions on improving his writing, and said that nobody could advise him or make life decisions for him. Over the course of ten letters, he instead provided essays on how a poet should feel and seek truth in experiencing the world around him. They offer insights into Rilke’s poetic ideas and themes, and his work processes.

Kappus did meet Rilke at least once, and despite his concerns about pursuing a military career, he continued his studies and served for 15 years as an army officer. During the course of his life, he worked as a journalist and reporter, and wrote poems, stories, novels, and screenplays. However, he never achieved lasting fame.

This is a book which features a future journalist – but one who yearns to become a poet. Is it a sign that Rory secretly wishes she could become a creative writer instead? Is she hoping that being successful in journalism will help her become a published author (it’s definitely a help in getting novels published, or at least considered). Is it even a hint that she will become a writer in the future, as she does in A Year in the Life, but is not destined to become famous from her writing? (Most published writers, even quite successful ones, don’t get famous, after all).

And is this correspondence between a poet and a student at a military academy meant to suggest that Rory is still thinking of Tristan, who went away to military school? Are she and Tristan actually writing to each other, or is the show leaving the door open for Tristan to possibly return in a future season, since they didn’t know how long One Tree Hill was going to last?

Willamette University of Law

PARIS: Professor Bomar of Willamette University of Law has prepared a lengthy summary that I’d like to use in my remaining time.

The Willamette University College of Law is a private law school in Salem, Oregon, founded in 1883 and part of Willamette University, which was founded in 1842, and is the oldest university in the Western United States.

It is pronounced wil-AM-it; Paris mispronounces it to sound more like William-ette.

Professor Bomar is fictional.

EDIT: Huge thanks to blog reader Dan Gray, who is from Oregon, for correcting me on the pronunciation of Willamette.

Death Without Dignity Act

PARIS: And referencing their last point, which erroneously cited South Carolina as a state that has neither a statute nor common law which prohibits assisted suicide when we know that North Carolina is the proper citation, their subsequent argument falls short of even a level of speciousness due to the fact that it doesn’t even have a ring of factual truth, let alone a substance. And after all, the absence of prohibition against assisted suicide is a far cry from a statute that actually legitimizes the practice, a state of affairs that exists only in Oregon, sadly enough, under the 1977 Death Without Dignity Act.

Paris mistakenly calls it the Death Without Dignity Act of 1977; it is of course the Death With Dignity Act. Her correction of the other team on legislation in North and South Carolina is correct, however.

Willie Nelson

RORY: I talk normally.
PARIS: For the average Willie Nelson roadie, yes, but not for a winning debate team member.

Willie Nelson (born 1933), country music singer, actor, and activist. He gained critical success with his 1973 album Shotgun Willie, then both critical and commercial success with his follow up albums in 1975 and 1978, making him one of the best known country music stars, and a leading figure in the outlaw country subgenre.

He’s appeared in more than 30 films, co-authored several books, and been involved in activism for the use of biofuels and the legalisation of marijuana. I think it is the activism for marijuana that Paris is thinking of – as if all his roadies will be stoned and speaking in stereotypical “stoner” voices.


PARIS: The debate’s Friday and we need more preparation.
RORY: More preparation? Paris – no two people know more about assisted suicide than the two of us. Kevorkian called today for a couple of tips.

Murad “Jack” Kevorkian (928-2011), pathologist and euthanasia proponent. He publicly championed a terminally-ill patient’s right to die by doctor-assisted suicide. He said that he assisted at least 130 people to die, many of whom were not terminally ill, and some of whom had no physical ailment at all. He was convicted of murder in 1999, serving eight years in prison, and was released in 2007. The media often dubbed him “Dr. Death”. There was support for his cause, and he helped set the platform for reform to the law.

Lillian Hellman, The Children’s Hour, and Julia

RORY: You said you wanted to read The Children’s Hour.
RORY: The other night when we were watching Julia, and Jane Fonda was playing Lillian Hellman.

The Children’s Hour, 1934 play by Lillian Hellman. It is set in a girl’s boarding school run by two women, and when an angry student runs away, she tells her grandmother the women are having a lesbian affair to avoid being sent back. This false accusation destroys the women’s careers, relationships, and lives.

The play is based on an incident which occurred in Scotland in the 19th century, which Hellman read about in a 1930 true crime anthology called Bad Companions by William Roughead. The Children’s Hour was a financial and critical success, and was adapted into a film called These Three in 1936, then again under its original title in 1961; both versions were directed by William Wyler.

Julia, 1977 period drama film [pictured] directed by Fred Zinnemann, based on a chapter in 1973 Lillian Hellman’s controversial book Pentimento: A Book of Portraits. It is about Hellman’s alleged friendship with a woman named Julia, who fought against the Nazis prior to World War II. Jane Fonda plays Lillian Hellman, and Vanessa Redgrave is in the role of Julia. An image of the real Lillian Hellman is shown at the end.

Julia performed well at the box office and received generally positive reviews. However, it was felt, with good reason, that the supposedly true story must have been, at best, heavily fictionalised. At the time of her death, Lillian Hellman was still in the process of suing the writer Mary McCarthy for libel after she cast strong doubt on the story’s veracity.

In 1983, New York psychiatrist Muriel Gardiner claimed that she was the person the “Julia” character was based on. Lillian Hellman had never met Gardiner, but had heard about her through a mutual friend, so they couldn’t possibly have had the relationship or adventures together that Hellman had written about. This does seem the most likely explanation, however.

Muriel Gardiner wrote about her anti-Fascist activities in Vienna of the 1930s in a 1983 book, Code Name Mary: Memoirs of an American Woman in the Austrian Underground.

Lenny Bruce

DEAN: You think this is funny.
JESS: Well, it’s no Lenny Bruce routine but it has its moments.

Lenny Bruce, born Leonard Schneider (1925-1966), stand-up comedian, social critic, and satirist. He was known for his open, freestyle, and critical comedy, containing satire, politics, religion, sex, and vulgarity. His 1964 conviction in an obscenity trial was followed by a posthumous pardon, the first in New York state.

Lenny Bruce paved the way for counterculture era comedians, and his trial was a landmark for freedom of speech. He is considered one of the greatest American comedians of all time.

It makes perfect sense for bad boy Jess to be a Lenny Bruce fan. Lenny Bruce also appears as a character in Amy Sherman-Palladino’s television show, The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, played by Luke Kirby.

Miami Beach Blue

SOOKIE: And I like your living room. Though that house across the street has sort of that creepy Miami Beach blue, which means that during the day you really can’t look out your window, but at night it’s not so bad.

Miami Beach is a coastal city in Florida, located on natural and artificial islands which separate the beach from Miami. It has a population of around 83 000, and has been one of the most popular resorts in the US since the early twentieth century.

I’m not exactly sure what Sookie means by “Miami Beach blue”, but Miami Beach has a famous Art Deco Heritage District, the largest collection of Art Deco architecture in the world. Many of the buildings are painted or picked out in pale blue, in line with the city’s beachy aesthetic, and she may be thinking of that.

I don’t know why this is considered “creepy”. All I can think of, and it’s really quite a stretch, is that the house in the famous 1991 “Ghostbusters” case of Stambovsky vs Ackley was painted pale blue.

The legal case involved a woman named Helen Ackley selling her house in Nyack, New York, to a man named Jeffrey Stambovsky, without disclosing to him that the house was reputedly haunted – he refused to sign the contract when he found out about the haunting. The courts ruled in favour of Mr Stambovsky.

The only reason I am even mentioning it is because the film Ghostbusters was referenced in the same scene, the mentalist Kreskin, previously discussed, was among those who tried to buy the house, and because when Helen Ackley eventually sold the house to a different buyer, she moved to Florida, so it all seems to fit, in some extremely nebulous way.

It seems possible that Sookie took note of the pale blue house when the story broke nationally, and for ever after, thought any kind of pale blue house was somehow spooky.

Pat Buchanan, Jerry Falwell, Kathy Lee Gifford

JESS: I don’t know, bet you have a lot of supporters on this. Pat Buchanon, Jerry Falwell, Kathie Lee Gifford.

Patrick “Pat” Buchanan (born 1938), right-wing political commentator, politician and broadcaster. He was an assistant and consultant to Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan, and one of the original hosts of CNN’s current events program, Crossfire. He has expressed sympathy for Nazi war criminals and support for eugenics, denied the Holocaust, and called for the lynching and horse-whipping of the young men of colour wrongly convicted in the Central Park jogger case. In 1990, he argued the case for music censorship in a debate on Crossfire.

Jerry Falwell Sr (1933-2007) [pictured], Southern Baptist pastor, televangelist, and conservative activist. He was pro-segregation and pro-apartheid, and a supporter of Anita Bryant’s campaign to oppose equal rights for gay people (he denounced Tinky Winky from the Teletubbies as a gay icon). He sued both Penthouse and Hustler magazine in the 1980s for an article and an advertisement that he believed had defamed him or caused him distress; the courts ruled in favour of free speech.

Kathie Lee Gifford (born Kathryn Epstein in 1953), television presenter, singer, songwriter, and author. She is best known for her fifteen-year run as co-host of Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee. She became a born-again Christian at the age of 12, and was a secretary/babysitter to Anita Bryant. I’m not actually aware of any censorship she has advocated for.