Saturday, July 31, 2004

"Round up the usual suspects."

The Movie: Casablanca, 1942 (Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch, screenwriters; Michael Curtiz, dir.)
Who says it: Claude Rains as Captain Louis Renault, head of the local police
The context: Renault has just seen Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) shoot Major Strasser (Conrad Veidt), the head of the Third Reich’s occupying force in Casablanca.
How to use it: When you know perfectly well who's responsible for a mistake, but you have no plans to seek retribution. This line has become so overused that it's lost its true meaning, although its use as a movie title (The Usual Suspects) was exactly right.

Almost all of Casablanca has passed into everyday conversation. Renault has the movie's other best line, though: "I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!" right before someone hands him his winnings.

Preparing for the move requires small things as well as large. Yesterday I touched up my hair color -- yes, everyone is shocked, shocked to learn I'm not a natural blonde. My friend Joanne suggested, when I saw her in Washington last month, that I might want to be a little less blonde in Maine... and then, earlier this week, my friend Adrienne's nine-year-old son said bluntly: "Your hair funny." He's still learning English, so I'd like to believe what he really meant was "pretty," or "striking," but I try to deceive myself only about big things.

So I'm a little less blonde today than I was yesterday. It's one more step in abandoning southern California.

Friday, July 30, 2004

You Talking to Me?

What's great about moving is that it forces me to get in touch with friends and family members I've neglected, especially those who are going to be near my new home or along my travel route.

Last night I spent an hour on the phone with my old friend, client and partner-in-crime Tom Ehrenfeld, author of The Startup Garden. Tom and his family live in Cambridge, MA, and I'm looking forward to seeing a lot more of them once I'm in Maine.

Tom and I have been talking for a while about putting together a novelty book called You Talking to Me? This would be an overview of the best movie quotations of all time, with suggestions for appropriate ways to use them in conversations. Neither of us has had time to pursue this, but Tom came up with a great idea: I could put one a day on this blog, and at the end of a year (or even before that), the book would be written.

The title, of course, is self-explanatory.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Friends help you move. Real friends help you move dead bodies.

My beloved former housemates, Ashton and Joseph, are coming to Los Angeles on August 7 to help me pack. I am so grateful to them I could wash their feet with my salty tears.

Tears are alarmingly close a good deal of the time these days. Sleep deprivation doesn't help, either.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Packing up to hit the road... NOT

Thank God July has 31 days.  Unfortunately, only three of these days are left in the month... and only another 15 until my self-imposed departure date. 

I'll use this blog as a travel journal for the trip cross-country to Maine.  Over time, I'd like it to evolve into a site for me to post answers to questions that come up in my work, research I find especially interesting, and grammar rules I'd like to see enforced more stringently.  It will feed my illusion that anyone is paying attention.

I've yet to do any packing.  My goal for the weekend is to sort through my belongings and pull out everything that needs to be given away or thrown away.  I have suits I haven't worn since I left Washington, and there are women who could use them. 

There isn't really a direct route from Los Angeles to Central Maine, so I'm planning the trip to let me see as many friends as possible along the way.  The planned route is:

August 15: Los Angeles to Flagstaff, AZ
August 16: Flagstaff to Pagosa Springs, CO
August 17: Pagosa Springs to Denver, CO
August 18: Denver to Lincoln, NE
August 19: Lincoln to St. Louis, MO
August 20: St. Louis to Chicago, IL
August 21: Chicago to Pittsburgh, PA
August 22: Pittsburgh to Newport, RI
August 23: Newport to China, ME

The longest single day of driving will be Pittsburgh to Newport; if I'm too tired, I may stop off in Dutchess County, NY and throw myself on the mercy of the McLaughlins there. (Westchester Lambs: I'm sorry I won't see you on this trip, but I'll be in New York in October, and hope to see you then.)

My pointer-lab mix, Dizzy, has never made a trip like this before.  I'll be staying with friends and relatives on most of these stops, but suggestions for dog-friendly motels along the way are welcome.