Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Using the Holden Caulfield Phoniness Detector


This is the Holden Caulfield Phoniness Detector.  It really is.  We used it class on the characters in the book, and then gave it a spin to see what else it could do.  Here are the results.

I had the students rank the characters in the novel using the Holden Caulfield phoniness scale of -5 (really, really phony) to +5 (not phony at all.)  Here are the scores from my fourth period, compared to my scores.  Keep in mind that they are only on page 104.


Character
4th period score
My score
Ackley
+1
+3
Stradlader
-3
-4
Allie
+5
+5
The Nuns
N/A
+5
Phoebe
+5
+5
Ossenberger
-5
-5
Thurmer
-3
-2
Jane Gallagher
+5
+4
Horwitz
+3
+3
Maurice
-5
-4
Sunny
0
-2
Holden’s Mom
+5
+5

Pretty good work, I thought.  So I went ahead and applied Holden’s scale to others, starting with U.S. Presidents.

U.S. President
Score
Thomas Jefferson
-2
Andrew Jackson
-3
James Buchanan
-5
Abraham Lincoln
+5
Theodore Roosevelt
+4
John F. Kennedy
+2
Lyndon Baines Johnson
-3
Richard Nixon
-5
Bill Clinton
+3

Nixon and Lincoln are no surprises, naturally.  However, Jefferson got a negative score for being a slaveholder, and Teddy Roosevelt scored high just for being such a tough guy.  (Sorry, LBJ.  If not for the Pentagon Papers, your result would have been more Clintonian.)

Then, I moved on to Hall of Fame ballplayers:

Ballplayer
Score
 Ty Cobb
 -3
 Jim Palmer
-4
Babe Ruth
+2
Roberto Clemente
+5
Lou Gehrig
+5
Willie Stargell
+4
Cal Ripken, Jr.
+3
Ricky Henderson
-4
Manny Ramirez
-5
Ozzie Smith
-1

Lou Gehrig is perhaps the most Holdenesque baseball player of all time.  Jim Palmer loses points for the underwear ads (Holden wouldn’t’ve cared that he donated the money to charity).  Ozzie Smith gets a negative score for all those phony backflips.

Led Zeppelin Songs
Score
 “Whole Lotta Love”
 +5
“Misty Mountain Hop”
 -1
“Fool in the Rain”
 -4
“Trampled Underfoot”
 +4
“Goin’ to California”
 +4
 “No Quarter”
 -2
“Stairway to Heaven”
 -5
 “When The Levee Breaks”
 +5

These are self-explanatory.

Want more Catcher?  Check out this picture.

6 comments:

  1. 1) I hated Catcher. Holden was a whiner.

    2) How is Bill Clinton not phonier?

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  2. 1) That's unfortunate.
    2) Holden loves Bill Clinton.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I need to finally re-read Catcher this year. I love these rankings. I want to apply them to the original cast of 90210.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I don't know that I'd classify Ty Cobb as "phony". He may have been a back-handed degenerate and possible murderer of men, but I believe he didn't mix words and was true to his nature, which would absolve him of this label. Of course, I take all of my information from the 1994 feature film "Cobb" starring Tommy Lee Jones. Also giving a memorable performance in this film was Mr. Robert Wuhl. When's the last time you heard that?

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  5. Anonymous:

    You have a good point about Ty Cobb being true to his nature, but he's still a hot-shot bastard and a phony. He was also a practitioner of trickery and deceit. In addition, He sat out the last four games of the 1910 season as a ploy to win the batting title and the prize that came with it--a new car. He was also conceited, racist, and once strangled a woman.

    Robert Wuhl? Now there's a class act.

    ReplyDelete