Phil Dunphy

"I’m the cool dad, that’s my thang. I’m hip, I surf the web, I text. LOL: laugh out loud, OMG: oh my god, WTF: why the face." - Phil Dunphy

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Happy Birthday

            I would have loved to meet the narrator, Jonah, in Kurt Vonnegut’s novel, Cat’s Cradle. By the end of Jonah’s fantastic tale, he finds himself in a peculiar situation. After surviving a dreadful disaster with similar effects to that of the atom bomb, he discovers few others on the island of San Lorenzo survived the catastrophe as well. Before this devastating event that wiped out almost the entire population of San Lorenzo and after Jonah becomes president of the little island, the narrator begins to possess a growing need to climb to the top of the country’s largest mountain peak, Mount McCabe. Once informed that the mountain has never been scaled by man as well as non sacred to the local religion, the adventurer claims that “Maybe I’ll [Jonah] climb it” (211). After the tragic mishap to the island, it becomes Jonah’s dream to reach the top of Mount McCabe and plant a symbol on the mountain’s peak. For this reason, if I could present a birthday present to Jonah, I would give him a pair of Verbera Hiker GTX Boots found only in North Face stores. It did cross my mind that Jonah could “borrow” a pair of hiking boots from a deserted store in the country’s capital, Bolivar. However, because San Lorenzo suffered from “misery and muck,” I figured Jonah had a slim probability of stumbling across a North Face store and therefore would have to climb in sub-par hiking gear (133). Once ascended to the top of Mount McCabe in his stellar boots, Jonah planned to turn himself to stone with the help of Felix Hoenikker’s invention, ice-nine. Every human to ever watch a movie knows that a hero, such as Jonah, has a perfect woman to love. Even before meeting her, Jonah fell in love with a young peach named Mona Aamons Monzano, exclaiming that she “could make me [Jonah] far happier than any woman” (85). Mona’s fate proved identical to Jonah’s: suicide. In order to give Jonah the strength to perform such a feat, my second gift to him would consist of a locket to wear around his neck with a picture of his heavenly Mona locked tightly against his heart. I hope that these two gifts bestow the necessary gear and strength to my friend Jonah so that he may complete his dream and fulfill his Bokononist views.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Little Only in Size

            In Kurt Vonnegut’s book, Cat’s Cradle, the author develops a character by the name of Newton Hoenikker. Vonnegut characterizes Newt as “a very tiny young man” but “nicely scaled” and “shrewdly watchful” (111). In simple terms, Newt was a midget. After quick research on little people, I learned the unfortunate effects of dwarfism. In fact, numerous studies show that severe shortness often associates with lower income as well as reduced employment opportunities. I sympathize with Newton Hoenikker’s severe shortness and, for this reason, would like to befriend this character if I could step into the book, Cat’s Cradle. Newt proves an extremely unlucky person. His birth brought death to his mother. His father rarely talked to Newt as a young boy. Now a college aged student, Newt flunks out of pre-medical school at Cornell University. Despite flunking out of school, the midget claims that he proves “a very privileged character” (13). Although unable to follow in his brilliant father’s footsteps, Newt remains optimistic and attempts to see the benefits of failing. Also, the young man faces reality and possesses the humility to admit that he “would have made a lousy doctor” (13). Vonnegut indirectly characterizes Newt as a modest, down-to-Earth, kind boy that embraces hardships in a mature way. I cannot help but admire these characteristics in a person. Now that he lives with his older sister, Angela, I feel as though I could become that one close friend of his if I could step into Vonnegut’s novel. I again sympathize with Newt due to his relationship with his sister. Although Newt has time and time again proved himself an adult, the narrator describes how Angela implies that “Newt was…too immature to deal…with the outside world” (112). Vonnegut creates pathos towards Newt’s entire lifestyle, allowing his readers to pity the midget’s poor circumstances. The author speaks to those in contact with little people, to remind them that midgets remain as mature as any other person. I have compassion upon Newt’s character and therefore wish to become a close friend of his if I could step into Kurt Vonnegut’s novel.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Religion in Surprising Places

            Kurt Vonnegut, born November 11, 1922 in Indianapolis, Indiana, spins a tale of a journalist attempting to write a book about the day the first atom bomb went off, in his novel, Cat’s Cradle. Published in 1963, during the midst of the Cold War raging between the U.S. and Soviet Union, nuclear warfare deemed a household debate. In fact, that same year, President Kennedy signed the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in attempts to lessen the danger of such unstable weapons. Due to the already heavily debated topic of nuclear warfare in his book, Kurt Vonnegut surprises me by including a religious side to his novel as well. For instance, in only the second page of his piece, the narrator informs the readers that “I [the narrator] am a Bokononist” (2). After tiresome research, I came to the conclusion that Bokononism remains a fictional religion practiced only by certain characters in Vonnegut’s work. Despite its made-up core, Bokononism’s views seem to pass as a practical religion. For example, Vonnegut writes that the founder of Bokononism, Bokonon, sees anyone as a fool who “thinks he sees what God is Doing” (5). One can compare this quote to the verse in the Bible when Solomon writes, “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, And lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). Both excerpts mean the same thing: humans should not attempt to fathom God’s plan but instead should trust in His ways. This comparison expresses the possible validity in certain Bokononist views. Later on in Vonnegut’s novel, Bokonon makes the metaphorical claim that “Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God” (63). Although seemingly silly, this Bokonon quote makes me think about the value and learning experience of travelling “off the beaten path.” One can find examples of this simply by reading a peculiar book or watching an abnormal movie. Despite Vonnegut’s interesting invention of a religion, however, what is the author’s purpose in creating this fictitious religion within his book? Although very interesting and ironically inspiring at points, I question the necessity of the writer’s hard work in developing such an abstract theology. It surprises me that Vonnegut would go through the time and hassle of creating an entirely new religion from scratch in a book that centers on the first atom bomb. By doing this however, Vonnegut captures the attention of readers interested in science as well as theology to persuade them to affirm their own views on these two worldwide debates.