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.

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