In a perfect world today would have been Theodor Geisel’s 105 birthday. Unfortunately this imperfect world has to find a way to muddle through without his shining presence, since he died in 1991. Fortunately he left behind enough works to keep us stocked up on magic and wonder for years to come. Let’s take this opportunity to take a look back at some of my favorite Seuss works.
“You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch” – It’s become an integral part of Christmas. In addition to being a heartwarming anti-consumerist tale, it’s also a catchy as hell song:
“The Sneetches” – A commentary on racism, classism, and the inevitable unhappiness associated with chasing fads, wrapped in a kids story. The message in The Sneetches is just as relevant today as it was in 1961. It even serves as a warning against opportunistic hucksters waiting to pounce on people’s insecurities. That’s a lot of messages for a rhyming cartoon.
My personal favorite Suess story is Green Eggs and Ham. It’s a remarkable example of what you can make out of limited materials. If you don’t know the story, Seuss’ publisher bet him $50 he couldn’t write a whole story using only 50 unique words. So he did. There are exactly 50 different words in Green Eggs and Ham, and 49 of them are one syllable. The repetition this creates, along with the rhythm of the monosyllabic words gives the story a distinctive tone and sound. That distinctiveness lends itself to re-interpretation.
One example is some guy interpreting Bob Dylan interpreting Green Eggs and Ham
(from the now defunct DylanHearsAWho.com)
But the greatest example of an interpretation of Green Eggs and Ham is Jesse Jackson’s reading on Saturday Night Live, shortly after Seuss’ death:
“Green Egg and Ham”