Friday, August 2, 2019

Dahl Study: Mr. Botibol

My author study of Roald Dahl started with a reading of his Collected Stories while watching the accompanying episode of Tales of the Unexpected. Each Friday I'll recap a story and show (with spoilers, just so you know), but I encourage you to read and watch them on your own if you're interested!

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"Mr. Botibol" from Collected Stories (read 7/14/19)

Mr. Botibol has lunch with a businessman who wants to buy his father's business. He accepts the first offer, even though the businessman threw a number out there to get the bidding started. The businessman is excited about the deal and orders lots of drinks for the two of them. Mr. Botibol isn't used to drinking, and the alcohol goes to his head. He starts talking about success, and how he's never had any. He gets home and listens to the radio, which is playing a symphony. He is overcome by the music and pretends to conduct it from his chair. It makes him feel good, so he stands up and gets into it with his whole body. He's exhausted when it's over, but feels proud of himself. He pretends that he composed the work and just conducted it, and the audience is demanding more. He looks up when more symphonies will be on the radio, and conducts those, too.
     This all makes him feel so good that he decides to convert a room in his home into a theater. He installs theater seating, a small stage, a box for the conductor, and special record players and speakers. He gets records of different kinds of applause, and buys a variety of symphonies to conduct. He loves acting like a famous composer. Botibol then decides to get a piano so he can pretend to play. He goes to the store to get one rigged to be silent, then goes to buy more piano records. There he meets a woman who starts talking about what music she loves. Never really having relationships, he awkwardly invites her over to his house to listen to music. She agrees and comes over and he explains his hobby to her. She doesn't seem to think it's weird, and pretends to play the piano while he conducts her. When he invites her back, she says she can't come because of work. She reveals that she's a piano teacher.

"Mr. Botibol's First Love" from Tales of the Unexpected (viewed 7/14/19)

The episode was pretty much the same as the written story. Overall it was an interesting story to read, because it seems like a pretty strange hobby. I thought it was amusing at one point - who hasn't danced as if they're onstage, or sang into a fake microphone and pretended they're a famous singer? But once the woman came over, I saw it from her point of view and realized how strange I would have thought it was if a man acted that way on a "date". The visual version of the story wasn't as interesting, but that's just my personal opinion.

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