Friday Five

1. More Dogs in Slo-mo. Really, isn’t everything better in slo-mo?

2. Favorite movie lines. One of the daily prompts this week got me thinking about my favorite movie quotes. So here it is:

“The Dude abides.” ~The Big Lebowski

Just kidding! (Why do guys love this movie so much?) It was actually harder than I thought it would be to narrow it down one favorite, but if I had to choose it would be this one:Wizard of Oz

“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.”  ~The Wizard of Oz.  I always interpret this to mean, “want what you have and you’ll have what you want.” A good thing to remember whether you’re in Kansas or Kenya.

This would be a very close second:

“Whatever you end up doing, love it. The way you loved the projection booth when you were a little kid.” ~Cinema Paradiso. Oh, this movie is just brilliant from beginning to end. And the end! Oh. My. Goodness.

What is your favorite line from a film?

3. Etiquette Redefined. This article in The New York Times caused a big stir this week. It starts off like this:

Some people are so rude. Really, who sends an e-mail or text message that just says “Thank you”? Who leaves a voice mail message when you don’t answer, rather than texting you? Who asks for a fact easily found on Google? Don’t these people realize that they’re wasting your time?

Writer Nick Bilton goes on to provide a laundry list of once-polite considerations that should be thrown out the window in the digital age. He impales the “thank you” email and sets fire to voice mail. Don’t ask him for directions. Can’t you find it on Google maps? As blunt and rude as the article is, I hate to think, he has a point.

I have been known to get annoyed with “thank you” emails. I get an average of 125 emails a day (yes a day) at work. I really don’t need to add another one to the pile just to say thanks. And the directions? Don’t even ask. You’re far better off plugging the address into your phone or computer, unless you want to hear something like: “So then you go two blocks. No, wait. Maybe it’s three blocks. I know there is a barber shop on the corner. Ok, that closed about a year ago. Now it’s a shoe store. Definitely a shoe store. If you run into the park, you’ve gone too far. Come to think of it, you’re not anywhere near the park so never mind…”

I wouldn’t take things nearly as far as Mr. Bilton, who claims he and his mother communicate mostly via Twitter. I don’t think my mother knows what Twitter is.

What do you think? Are we losing important personal connections by letting these kinds of interactions go? Or are we living in the past and need to accept a new way of interacting? 

4. Why we read. Many of you know I’ve taught literature and creative writing on and off for years. I’ve taught to high schoolers, college students and adults. No matter what the setting, where the class, how engaging the material, there are always a few who say something like, “Why do I need to read (insert name of 19th century Victorian author here)? This is completely irrelevant. I’m never gonna use this.”

I’ve always had various answers in my repertoire, depending on  my frustration level, i.e. how close we are to the end of the course. But I’ve now found the perfect retort. This is from Mark Edmundson, a professor of English at the University of Virginia (not the retired Australian tennis player), who wrote the wonderful essay “Who Are You and What Are You Doing Here?” which was originally published in the Oxford American.

The reason to read Blake and Dickinson and Freud and Dickens is not to become more cultivated, or more articulate, or to be someone who, at a cocktail party, is never embarrassed (or who can embarrass others). The best reason to read them is to see if they may know you better than you know yourself. You may find your own suppressed and rejected thoughts flowing back to you with an “alienated majesty.” Reading the great writers, you may have the experience that Longinus associated with the sublime: you feel that you have actually created the text yourself. For somehow your predecessors are more yourself than you are.

That phrase about “alienated majesty” goes right back to Emerson’s Self Reliance: “In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. ” That is why I read and why I write.

Why do you read fiction or memoir? Do you read the same genre or read in different categories? 

5.  Neverwhere? Speaking of reading in different genres, I’m trying to branch out. I’ve not read any of Neil Gaiman’s books and I’ve been wanting to add one of his works to my TBR list, but there are so many to choose from. I feel like you guys could recommend an introductory Gaiman book, one that would ease me into his world. Where should I start? 

Speaking of Neil Gaiman, have you seen the talk his wife, Amanda Palmer, gave at TED? She an alternative rocker (she describes her music as a cross between punk and cabaret) who believes in making music accessible to all. She talks about vulnerability and why we are afraid to ask for what we need. In “The Art of Asking” she says,

“And the media asked, ‘Amanda, the music business is tanking and you encourage piracy. How did you make all these people pay for music?’ And the real answer is, I didn’t make them. I asked them. And through the very act of asking people, I’d connected with them, and when you connect with them, people want to help you. It’s kind of counterintuitive for a lot of artists. They don’t want to ask for things. But it’s not easy. It’s not easy to ask. And a lot of artists have a problem with this. Asking makes you vulnerable…And I think when we really see each other, we want to help each other.

She’s edgy and honest and free. I wish I could meet her for a drink, but then I’d worry I was not nearly cool enough.  (P.S. For all you Bostonians out there, how much do you love her accent?)

Have a great weekend, everyone! 

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24 comments

  1. Thanks for sharing the TED talk. Wow! she’s a brave woman. I had to laugh when I saw the fans drawing on her–but I did think to myself, “Not going to do it!” Have a great weekend.

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      1. I had exactly the same thought when I got to that part of the video! Talk about vulnerability. I’m so impressed though by how open and trusting she is. That was truly inspiring.

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  2. Jackie, as always, you offer so much so much food for thought, I never know where to start. It’s all so good!
    Would you believe I have never seen Cinema Paradiso?? It just moved to the top of my list.

    Now on to the article…Here’s where I struggle: I don’t mind the lack of thank you’s online but I am always wishing people would email to confirm when they receive something. Maybe I’m just paranoid but I can never be sure important docs are received unless I get that quick “Got it” email. See? I’m so old, Jackie. This is what comes from STILL not owning a smartphone!;)

    Now excuse me while I go watch that slo-mo puppies video again and am blissful.
    Happy weekend to you and Reggie, my friend!

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    1. Run, don’t walk, to your nearest video store. (Do they still have those? See how I’m dating myself too?!) Watch Cinema Paradiso right away. I think it won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. It’s sweet and sad and sappy and soulful and, I’ve run out of “s” words, but it’s one film you’ll remember for a long time to come.
      Have a wonderful weekend. Reggie send a big woof to you!

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  3. OK, you scared me with that first quote. I was afraid you were going to say you loved The Big Lebowski! 🙂 I’ve tried to watch that movie twice and just can’t stand it.
    Cinema Paradiso is one of my all-time faves. Broke my heart, though.

    We live in such a fast, hi-tech world now, people can’t stand to take the time to retrieve voicemail. I text whenever it’s not convenient to call, but don’t consider leaving voicemail a rude thing to do. Sometimes there’s just too much to put in a text.

    I read because it transports me to new places and ideas and I learn something from every single book. I love the Edmundson quote.
    Haven’t read Neil Gaiman yet, but will get around to it one of these days. I look forward to your reviews.

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    1. To me, reading is the best armchair traveling there is! My favorite books leave some kind of imprint on me, whether it’s a line or an image.
      I remember The Posionwood Bible had an intense scene when the family was trying to escape an invasion of red ants while they were in Africa. It was described as a sea of red as they swarmed over the land and everything in their path. I had imaginary itches all over my legs for days. *shudder* I’ll never forget that scene.

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  4. Cinema Paradiso is such a great film, and you’re right about the ending.

    One of my favorite films is Local Hero. The protagonist is talking to a Scottish fisherman about the lobster he catches – “what do you do with the lobster?” “They catch a plane, the next day they’re being eaten in London or Paris. They see the world.”

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    1. If you watch The Big Lebowski, don’t do it with your husband around. For some reason guys get sucked in. It seems to speak to them in a strange way. Maybe there’s some subliminal messaging going on.

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  5. The Big Lebowski and Raising Arizona are two huge guy movies. I have yet to see TBL, and I did not enjoy RA. I have no favorite quotes from movies, in part because I can’t remember much for any long period of time. (smile)
    Jackie, this is one of the most conversational posts I’ve read in a long time. I wonder if Nick and Amanda would get along in the same room, as I tend to think they share opposite opinions. One relying on the electronic age/information highway and the other relying on the kindness of strangers.
    Nick’s view leave me feeling uncomfortable. He ends his article, “Here’s hoping that politeness never goes out of fashion, but that time-wasting forms of communication do.” I am of the mindset that restricting forms of communication (feeling some are time-wasting) will reduce communication, which will reduce politeness. What is a world without human interaction?
    And, I had a hard time with Amanda saying couch surfing is a job. (smile) I don’t know. I question that type of ’employment’/lifestyle. I’ll refrain from leaving a novel’s worth of thoughts, suffice it to say, I did not end the video feeling impressed or inspired. (I think I am too old for her mindset.)
    The dogs are priceless. I never tire of seeing dogs. Please continue.
    I hope you had a wonderful weekend.

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    1. Ha! If I could get rid of some of the crazy things I have to remember for work, I could free up some valuable brain space, say for more movie lines! 🙂

      The more and more I thought about the NY Times article, the more I realized how complex a discussion it really is. A lot of it ties into cultural and social norms from when we were kids, a nostalgia for how things were and how we’ve lost some of the interpersonal interactions when compared to that time. I wonder if our parents and their parents had similar feelings.

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  6. Wait… movie quotes?! People do that?! 😉
    I LOVE The Big Lebowski (it easily makes my top 10) – CLASSIC! The characters are so well developed, all the little details are meaningful somehow (I pick-out something new every time I watch it)… it just ties the whole room together.
    I guess Thank You e-mails never really bothered me (although I’ve certainly never had that volume of mail to sort through). Anyway, there are a few I pretty much permanently keep in my inbox (if I’m having a bad day they make me feel a bit better – pretty sad, I guess).
    🙂

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  7. I love this line from Hildago, Jackie: “You can say anything you want about me, but I’m gonna have to ask you not to talk that way about my horse.”

    I LOVE that reason quote from Edmundson. It’s so exactly how it feels to read others at times. When we’re young and shallow it can be difficult to see the benefit of many of the things older people expect/require of us. (Thankfully we grow out of that phase.)

    I haven’t seen Cinema Paradiso, but after seeing your comments I’m gonna look for it in next time I’m renting.

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    1. Cynthia, I just love that line from Hildago. So character defining! 🙂

      Reading a book that “speaks” to you can be a transformative experience. And it can happen at different points in our lives, right? Sometimes the right book comes along at the right time. Whenever I have a student who has one of those a-ha moments while reading, I know I’ve got a book lover for life.

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    1. Thanks for the tip! I was holding a copy of Neverwhere in my hand this weekend at the bookstore and I put it down — partly because I’m not supposed to be buying any more books! Now I’ll look for his short stories.

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