Tuesday, May 31, 2005

“Fear causes hesitation, and hesitation will cause your worst dreams to come true.”

The Movie: Point Break (W. Peter Iliff, screenwriter, from a story by Iliff and Rick King; Kathryn Bigelow, dir.)
Who says it: Patrick Swayze as Bodhi, a champion surfer and criminal mastermind
The context: Bodhi counsels undercover FBI agent Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) on a heist plan, while the two prepare to jump out of an airplane.
How to use it: To encourage action.

Patrick Swayze has an unusual number of excellent lines in bad movies. Point Break is one of my old roommate Leigh's favorites, and she swears it's not because of the loving cinematography of Keanu Reeves in swim trunks. Not just because, anyway.

I am off to Reagan National Airport for a breakfast meeting and a flight back to New England, so this will be short. After however many years it's been, I still can't get used to saying, "Reagan National." I will be like those old folks who never learned to call Idylwild Airport "JFK."

Thanks to Ashton & Joseph for sanctuary and margaritas in D.C. ... I'll be back in just a couple of weeks to impose on them some more.

Monday, May 30, 2005

“Don’t forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted.”

The Movie: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, 1971 (David Seltzer, screenwriter, based on the novel by Roald Dahl; Mel Stuart, dir.)
Who says it: Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka
The context: Willy Wonka awards the grand prize of the Golden Ticket Tour to Charlie Bucket (Peter Ostrum). Charlie asks, “What happened?” and Mr. Wonka says, “He lived happily ever after.”
How to use it: When you get what you asked for.

I didn't win the Powerball this weekend -- and I had plans for that $220 million -- but I am still the luckiest person I know. And that's all I really have to say today, on Memorial Day, other than thanks to everyone who's put their own life on hold to serve the greater good. Next year, let everyone be home again.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Quelle night!”

The Movie: Breakfast at Tiffany’s, 1961 (George Axelrod, screenwriter, from the novel by Truman Capote; Blake Edwards, dir.)
Who says it: Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly, a young woman adrift in New York
The context: Holly’s cocktail party gets a little too exciting.
How to use it: At the end of a long evening.

Today's quote celebrates the birthday of Meredith McLaughlin Driscoll -- happy birthday, Mere, and may the mean reds never get you. Last year a group of us rented a house in Palm Springs for the long weekend/Meredith's birthday, and the photos that document that weekend should probably be stashed in a vault somewhere.

Here at my parents' house, we're having a cookout this afternoon, but before that, we're making an excursion out to the Oceanfront. Today is also the second day of the Pungo Strawberry Festival, but I doubt we'll make it out that far. When I was in school, Pungo -- the far southern part of Virginia Beach -- was nothing but farmland, and considered the worst kind of Hicksville. Now it's some of the most expensive real estate in Virginia. I don't know whether to call that progress.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

“Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”

The Movie: Dirty Dancing, 1987 (Eleanor Bergstein, screenwriter; Emile Ardolino, dir.)
Who says it: Patrick Swayze as Catskills dance instructor Johnny Castle
The context: At the end of the movie, Baby (Jennifer Gray) is back in the corner, sitting with her family, rather than dancing out front where she should be.
How to use it: To assert yourself, or defend someone else.

I'm surprised by how many great movie lines come from mediocre movies -- and I know I'm getting myself in trouble here, because some of my friends will die insisting that Dirty Dancing is the greatest movie ever. I can't watch it; all the actors seem so self-conscious. It's as if they're high schoolers performing a play they wrote themselves based on their real lives, so it's really, really serious and meaningful.

All the same, Dirty Dancing is a quintessential summer movie, and the soundtrack is excellent, except for the modern songs.

And here in Washington, it is summer. At least three people yesterday told me, "We've had the most wonderful spring this year." (Meanwhile, the Weatherpixie says it's still raining in Gardiner. I feel like a prison escapee.) Washington was gorgeous yesterday, and Annapolis, where I spent the late afternoon, was even more beautiful. Downright magical, in fact.

This morning I am off to sit in traffic on 95 South for a few hours. Sometime before nightfall, I might get to Virginia Beach.

Friday, May 27, 2005

“You’re so money and you don’t even know it!”

The Movie: Swingers, 1996 (Jon Favreau, screenwriter; Doug Liman, dir.)
Who says it: Vince Vaughn as Trent, an aspiring actor
The context: Trent encourages his friend Mike (Jon Favreau), who’s questioning his decision to move to Hollywood.
How to use it: All-purpose moral support.

This is the first Swingers quotation I've used since I launched this blog -- and Swingers is one of the movies my friend Tom and I talked about when we first batted around the You Talking to Me? idea. Go figure.

For those of you new to this blog: the daily movie quotes come from an idea my friend Tom had for one of those impulse-purchase books, a collection of movie quotes for use in everyday life situations. Since I was starting this blog anyway to track my move from Los Angeles to Maine, it seemed a good hook.

And that brings me to another issue. When I started this blog, I said the movie quotes would only run for a year. That year is up at the end of July. Therefore, I have approximately two months left to use any crucial quotations I've missed. If I haven't used your favorite line yet, please e-mail me with your suggestions; the only restriction I have is that I must have seen the movie myself. (If it's a good enough quotation, I'll watch the movie just so I can use the line. God bless Netflix.)

The blog will continue in some form after the end of July, but I'll find a new hook for it.

In the meantime, here's What I Read This Week.

William Lashner, Falls the Shadow. This book reminded me of what's good about legal thrillers: when they're well-done, the structure of the legal process creates extra tension, and inspires action and ingenuity on the part of the characters. Lashner's protagonist, Victor Carl, agrees to take on an apparently unwinnable appeal for a chef accused of murdering his wife. Victor, who likes to pretend he's amoral, confronts the full implications of the statement, "He might be a bad guy, but he's not a murderer," when his partner becomes infatuated with their client. Meanwhile, he struggles with a pro bono child protection case that raises similar moral issues. This is vacation reading you don't have to apologize for, and Victor Carl is a character screaming for a movie deal.

Gene Riehl, Sleeper. Riehl's brilliant first novel, Quantico Rules, introduced FBI agent Puller Monk, a compulsive gambler with serious authority issues. Monk returns in this sequel, which has a stronger, more action-driven plot -- the hunt for a North Korean assassin -- but feels a little lighter on character development. Still, this is really good stuff, and I'm already impatient for the next installment. Highly recommended for fans of Charles McCarry's novels, as Monk operates in many of the same neighborhoods and moral gray zones as McCarry's hero, Paul Christopher.

Bernd Heinrich, A Year in the Maine Woods. The book group at the Gardiner Public Library read this a few months ago, but I missed it then. Bernd Heinrich is a naturalist and professor of zoology at the University of Vermont, and spent a year -- June to June -- in his hand-built cabin, without running water or (for the most part) human company. This book is part memoir, part field guide, part meditation on human nature and animal natures. I'll keep this book and refer to it throughout the year; Heinrich's cabin is about 60 miles northwest of Gardiner, and I've spent no time yet in the woods at all. I won't be giving up my indoor plumbing anytime soon, though.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

I believe in happiness.”

The Movie: Victor/Victoria, 1982 (Blake Edwards and Hans Hoemburg, from a 1933 screenplay by Reinhold Sch√ľnzel; Blake Edwards, dir.)
Who says it: Robert Preston as Carroll Todd, lounge performer and impresario
The context: Victoria Grant (Julie Andrews), disguised as drag queen Victor Grezhinski, asks her best friend, “Don’t you believe in shame?”
How to use it: When deciding to break a rule for the greater good.

I'm off to Washington, D.C., today, and then on to Virginia Beach for some family time. It's still raining here, but the weather reports suggest that Virginia Beach may be not only sunny but hot this weekend. I have no idea what to pack. I'm not exposing these legs to sunlight without a couple of weeks' worth of self-tanner applications.

Dizzy and I took a long walk this morning, before I leave him to the care of my neighbor, Holly. He always knows when I'm about to leave town, because it's the only time I ever do any serious cleaning, unless we're having company. God forbid I should die and people find a squalid apartment. It's the "clean underwear" principle, on a larger scale.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

“I don’t ask for your belief – just your attention.”

The Movie: Where the Boys Are, 1960 (George Wells, screenwriter, from the novel by Glendon Swarthout)
Who says it: Jim Hutton as TV Thompson, a college boy on his way to Fort Lauderdale
The context: TV has just told Tuggle (Paula Prentiss) a long story about why he was hitchhiking instead of driving to Florida.
How to use it: When exaggerating for effect.

Are you, like me, creeped out by Tom Cruise's Very Public Displays of Affection for Katie Holmes? It's not the age difference -- I'm in no position to criticize that -- and it's not the height difference, because at 5'9", Katie Holmes would be limiting her options a lot if she dated only taller men.

It's the frantic publicity of it all. Yes, when you fall in love with someone, you want to talk about that person all the time. You want to hear their name spoken by others, and linked to you. You manipulate conversations to make that happen, and you rearrange your social schedule to make yourself available whenever that person wants to see you. (Or, okay, I do. But it can't just be me.)

But you do NOT go on national television to show off your new significant other like a shiny new toy you just bought at Neiman-Marcus. Do you? (Gosh, maybe I would, and it's just that I've never had the opportunity... hmm. Nope, don't think so.)

Am I missing something here? What happened to the idea that if you gloat too much about something in public, the universe takes it away? (That's just my cultural heritage speaking, but it's Tom Cruise's cultural heritage too.)

My cousin Sheila, watching this spectacle from her West Hollywood bungalow, decided that she could no longer sit idly by -- especially not after she saw Katie Holmes on "Oprah," looking like a deer caught in the headlights.

As another one-time nice Catholic girl from Ohio, Sheila felt compelled to launch a rescue effort, and asks us all to join in the fight. By wearing one of her custom-designed "FREE KATIE" t-shirts, you can show your moral support for a young woman who now appears to be in way, way over her head... even in three-inch heels.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

“I’m not supposed to be here today.”

The Movie: Clerks., 1994 (Kevin Smith, screenwriter and director)
Who says it: Brian O’Halloran as Dante Hicks, a convenience store clerk
The context: Dante has things to do: a wake to attend, a girlfriend to dump, an ex-girlfriend to win back before she gets married, a hockey game to play. Instead, he has to fill in at the convenience store. He says this throughout the movie.
How to use it: When you’re working outside your usual hours.

I saw this movie with my oldest friend, Adrienne, when we were on vacation in Charleston, S.C. I don't remember whether I liked it then or not; it's grown on me over time, though, and I think Kevin Smith's movies always improve with multiple viewings. (I haven't seen Jersey Girl, so that might be an exception.)

The sign in front of the XPress Stop gas station in Farmingdale says, "Think Spring -- It Could Happen." I don't want to sound like a whiner, so I'll just reprint this from the morning paper:

It rained 16 days in April and, so far, 16 of 23 days this month, according to the National Weather Service in Gray.

Only two days have seen above-normal temperatures, putting May on track to be among the coldest on record. Temperatures have been at or below normal for 26 of the past 29 days.


And it's supposed to keep raining until June 1.

On the way to Augusta for dinner last night, I had a weird thought: there's a finite amount of water in the world, right? The planet's a closed system. We can make water in a laboratory, but it evaporates into the atmosphere and becomes part of the water cycle. If that's true, then all this rain means either 1) the polar ice caps are melting awfully fast, and that water has to go somewhere; or 2) some other place in the world is suffering a killing drought. Probably both.

Either way, it freaks me out a little, the same way I felt when I drove from Albuquerque to Pagosa Springs and realized that it wasn't fog on the road, I was driving through a cloud atop a mountain ridge. Nature gets a little too real for me sometimes.

On a related note, I want to extend my sympathy to all of Maine's road crews, who officially have the worst jobs in the state this week. Every road in Maine is currently under repair, and they don't stop for the rain. Those guys are heroes. I hope they're getting hazard pay.

Monday, May 23, 2005

“Happiness is better than art.”

The Movie: Gaslight, 1944 (John Van Druten, Walter Reisch and John L. Balderston, screenwriters, from the play Angel Street by Patrick Hamilton; George Cukor, dir.)
Who says it: Emil Rameau as Maestro Mario Guardi, a music teacher
The context: Maestro Guardi tells Paula Alquist (Ingrid Bergman) that he is letting her go as a student, because she is so much in love that she can’t sing well any more.
How to use it: When your life distracts you from your work. I'm going to start saying this to people who ask me how my novel is going.

I was going to rant about the LeTourneau-Fualaau wedding today, but Tod Goldberg does such a masterful job of it on his blog that you should just go read what he says. Can you imagine anyone finding it romantic if it had been a male teacher and a female student, seduced at the age of 13?

What shocked me most, though, was the report that Ms. LeTourneau's teenaged daughter had served as maid-of-honor at the wedding. Presumably, the girl's father would have had to give his permission for this, and that appals me as much as anything else.

Don't get me wrong, I feel nothing but sympathy for that man. When you get married, you expect all kinds of potential difficulties: your wife might spend too much, your husband might drink too much, either one of you might get a little too flirtatious with the neighbors. What you don't expect is that your wife will cheat on you with a sixth-grader. It's something you don't defend your marriage against, because it's not on the menu of possibilities. At least, it isn't for sane people.

And look at that, I went off and ranted anyway. Sorry.

Because all I really wanted to do today was say "Herzlichen Glueckwunsch zum Geburtstag," an Therese Schulz, wer hat heute zwolf Jahren. Super toll. Alle Gute, heute und immer, Therese.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

“You get what you settle for.”

The Movie: Thelma and Louise, 1991 (Callie Khouri, screenwriter; Ridley Scott, dir.)
Who says it: Susan Sarandon as Louise, an Arkansas waitress on an adventure with her best friend, Thelma (Geena Davis)
The context: Louise encourages Thelma to make better life decisions.
How to use it: True at any time.

I'm not crazy about this movie. It's supposed to be this great celebration of women and women's friendships -- but I feel that the ending betrays everything that goes before it, and the ultimate moral is that rebelling comes to no good in the end. Ridley Scott did, however, make one great feminist movie, and that movie would be called Alien. (Ha ha! Did you think I was going to say G.I. Jane? Uh, no. And you're not going to see that line in this blog, either. You know the one I mean.)

It's raining again. It'll rain tomorrow. It'll rain some more on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. It's a good thing I've ordered my dog a lifejacket.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

“This is this. This ain’t something else. This is this.”

The Movie: The Deer Hunter, 1978 (Deric Washburn, screenplay, from a story by Washburn, Michael Cimino, Louis Garfinkle, and Quinn K. Redeker; Michael Cimino, dir.)
Who says it: Robert De Niro as Michael Vronsky, a steelworker and hunter on his way to Vietnam
The context: On a hunting trip, Michael shows his friend Stanley (John Cazale) a bullet, and yells at him for goofing around about something Mike takes very seriously.
How to use it: To make someone focus on the matter at hand.

I've probably seen this movie a dozen times, and I'm still not entirely sure what this line means. If you have a theory, feel free to post it.

I went over to Hallowell City Hall this morning, home of the Gaslight Theater, to work on set construction for their summer musical, How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying. Hallowell is a much smaller town than Gardiner -- in fact, I think it's the smallest official city in Maine -- but its town hall is much nicer. Gardiner's Town Hall is one of those brick-and-glass buildings from the 1960s, with a weird roof that looks like the Flying Nun's hat. Hallowell's is about 150 years old, with long windows and a beautiful, curving wooden staircase.

As usual at the beginning of a construction project, this morning's work was mainly demolition of what was already in place. My favorite Too Much Joy t-shirt was the perfect fashion choice: it says "Create" on the front, and "Destroy" on the back. I don't know what I'm going to do when this t-shirt gets too ratty for me to wear any more.

Friday, May 20, 2005

“These people are our food, not our allies.”

The Movie: Blade, 1998 (David S. Goyer, screenwriter; Stephen Norrington, dir.)
Who says it: Stephen Dorff as Deacon Frost, a vampire
The context: Frost discusses strategy with the Vampire Elder Dragonetti (Udo Kier).
How to use it: When you’re not interested in making friends.

Vampires and kung-fu... it's like chocolate-covered pretzels, an unlikely but unbeatable combination. At least, in Blade it is.

I read many things for many different reasons, and sometimes -- if I'm doing a lot of editing on other people's work -- that impairs my ability to read for pleasure.

As a rule, I'm very forgiving of the books I read and the movies I see for fun. If the plot, or a character, or the setting entertains me, I just focus on the bright shiny stuff and let clunkers slide by. This explains, among other things, my affection for the novels of Maeve Binchy (who writes almost entirely in sentence fragments) and the films of Ridley Scott (who sometimes, believe it or not, sacrifices historical accuracy and believable characters for action).

But if I'm picking apart a manuscript or a screenplay for an author, I can't always turn that machine off in my head. So this week I've picked up and set aside three books I might otherwise like, just because something about the language, the premise or the research put me off in the first chapter. Chances are good that I'll be able to go back to them in a week or two, when I'm writing testimony or compiling survey information for one of my financial services clients.

In the meantime, though, these are the only books I read this week.

Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go. Kathy H., a 31-year-old "carer" nearing the end of her brief career, reminisces about her school days with her best friends, Ruth and Tommy. The nature of those days, and of Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy themselves, unfolds over the course of this amazing, terrifying, heartbreaking book. I couldn't put it down; I'd have read it while I walked the dog, if it hadn't been raining. Among other achievements, this book shows us the absurdity of genre classifications. It is a mystery, a romance, science fiction, and ultimately an epic horror novel, told in the simplest, most intimate terms. It's also one of the saddest stories I've ever read.

Kemp Powers, The Shooting: A Memoir. Because I didn't feel bad enough after I finished Never Let Me Go, I read this. Kemp Powers is a successful journalist and comic book artist, now in his early 30s. When he was 14, he killed his best friend, Henry, with an accidental gunshot to the face. The police didn't charge him; Henry's parents didn't blame him; Kemp's mother blamed only herself, and the family didn't talk about it for more than a decade. It wasn't until Powers was a father himself that he finally had to acknowledge that the ways he'd found to live with this didn't work, and never had. I wished this book had been a little better organized, but Powers writes so vividly, and with such raw pain and honesty, that you hang with him every step of the way.

Georgette Heyer, Charity Girl. After those two books, all I could handle was a Regency romance. Georgette Heyer novels are like Pringles potato chips: you know what you're getting, and they probably aren't good for you, but man oh man are they good while they last. Language violations I would never tolerate in other writers -- impenetrable slang, elegant variations, adverbs all over the place -- are just part of the fun of a Georgette Heyer novel. In this one, Viscount Desford comes to the aid of Charity Steane when she runs away from her cruel aunt, and must help sort out her difficulties before he can declare himself to the woman he really loves. Ah... better than a bubble bath.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

“It’s not a tumor.”

The Movie: Kindergarten Cop, 1990 (Murray Salem, Herschel Weingrod and Timothy Harris, screenwriters; Ivan Reitman, dir.)
Who says it: Arnold Schwarzenegger as Detective John Kimble, a police officer forced to teach kindergarten as part of an undercover operation
The context: Kimble, overwhelmed by his responsibilities, says he has a headache; his student Lowell (Ben McCreary) says it might be a tumor.
How to use it: To keep people from making too much of your health problems or theirs. Again, the accent is crucial: “It’s notta TU-mah.”

Okay, let's just get this one out of the way first, because it's already making the national news:

Squeamish lawmakers let dead keep their fillings

By CHRIS CHURCHILL
Staff Writer
Copyright © 2005 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.

By CHRIS CHURCHILL

Staff Writer

It's a ghoulish scenario: funeral home directors statewide prying teeth from the mouths of the dead.

It's a scenario lawmakers nervously considered Tuesday at a hearing on legislation seeking the removal of mercury fillings before cremation.

Sen. Scott Cowger, D-Hallowell, proposed the law, claiming the state's five crematoriums unnecessarily spew about 40 pounds of toxic mercury each year.

"It's become quite evident that there's an environmental impact when these fillings vaporize," Cowger said. "And they vaporize when people are cremated."

Cowger suggested two options: attaching expensive equipment that would cleanse crematorium emissions, or removing the mercury from cadavers. The latter method he considered most practical.

The proposal brought disbelieving titters from some members of the Natural Resources Committee, who at times had trouble discussing the measure with a straight face.

"You want them to pull people's teeth out before they burn them?" Rep. Joanne Twomey, D-Biddeford, asked Cowger. "You're really serious about this?"

* * *

Dawn Gallagher, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection, said Maine has eliminated many in-state sources of mercury pollution and should eliminate this form as well.

Gallagher said state crematoriums account for about 4 percent of Maine's mercury pollution.


If you want to read the whole story, click here. Really, is it any wonder Stephen King thinks we should all stay in Maine? Man, I love this place.

A very happy birthday today to the multi-talented Richard J. Brewer. Since I'm not sending him a present, I'll give his forthcoming book a shameless plug, even though I am not special enough to have received one of the exceedingly scarce advance copies. Meeting Across the River, edited by Jessica Kaye and Richard, is a collection of short stories based on the Bruce Springsteen song from Born to Run, with contributions from brilliant authors like Gregg Hurwitz, Eric Garcia, David Corbett, and Barbara Seranella. It comes out in July, and The Mystery Bookstore will be hosting the launch party. Don't miss it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

“Fly or die.”

The Movie: Commando, 1985 (Steven E. De Souza, screenwriter, from a story by De Souza, Jeph Loeb, and Matthew Weisman; Mark L. Lester, dir.)
Who says it: Arnold Schwarzenegger as ex-special operative John Matrix
The context: Matrix is trying to escape in a plane that won’t start; he says this line to the plane’s control panel, and then it starts.
How to use it: To make malfunctioning machinery behave. Use the accent, or people won’t get it. Actually, people won’t get it anyway, unless they’ve seen this movie.

A theme seems to be emerging this week, so I'll just roll with it for a few days. I always get this movie mixed up with Predator, which came out a year or two later, and also features Arnold Schwarzenegger kicking ass in South America. Commando is the one with Rae Dawn Chong, Predator's the one with Jesse Ventura. (I had to look that up.) Is it any wonder Californians wanted this man to be their leader? What are budget issues to someone who can make a plane start through sheer force of will?

The front page of this morning's Kennebec Journal reminded me of another reason to be glad I left Los Angeles for Maine: it gave me back my movie stars. One of today's top stories is the premiere of Empire Falls, the HBO miniseries based on Richard Russo's novel, tonight at the Waterville Opera House.

I have dinner plans in Belfast tonight, in the opposite direction. If I didn't, I'd seriously think about driving up to Waterville just to get a glimpse of Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Aidan Quinn and whoever else might be showing up. (Actually, I think the biggest star in Waterville tonight will be William Fichtner, but this is Waterville -- what do you want?) In fact, my first thought this morning, looking at the paper, was, "Rats, I can't go."

This astonishes me, because it's completely opposite from my attitude in Los Angeles. I used to live across the street from CBS Television City, on the edge of West Hollywood. I saw actors every day, everywhere -- at the supermarket, on the hiking trail, in yoga class, at the DMV. Weekly movie premieres in Westwood used to make me snarl, because they messed up traffic getting to and from the bookstore.

I wasn't even nice about it to out-of-town visitors. My sister Susan and my brother James visited me once, and I took them downtown to the old pueblo. Christine Lahti was shooting a scene from her movie, My First Mister, and Susan and James wanted to watch for a while. "It's so boring," I said. "Come on, let's go." I'm sorry about that, guys.

It's familiarity breeding contempt, but it's more than that. I didn't want to know that movie stars go to the supermarket. It's not fair to them, I know, but I don't want Michelle Pfeiffer or Paul Newman or Laurence Fishburne to be real people; I want them to be movie stars. I want to keep the illusion that they are who they pretend to be on the screen, and that's hard when I've seen Laurence Fishburne cleaning up after his dog on the hiking trail. (Which, by the way, he does. Good man. His dog is an English pointer who looks like Dizzy, but fancier.)

So anyway, it's exciting that Hollywood is coming to Waterville, just for a night. I'm glad to have my movie stars back, and if anyone happens to see Paul Newman at Dunkin Donuts, for God's sake, don't tell me. And I hope everyone will watch Empire Falls, even though I saw a review that called it "disappointing."

I'm assuming, of course, that you've already read the book.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

“I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I'm all out of bubblegum.”

The Movie: They Live, 1988 (John Carpenter, screenwriter and director, from a short story by Ray Nelson)
Who says it: Rowdy Roddy Piper as Nada, a construction worker whose sunglasses give him the power to see aliens among us.
The context: Nada prepares to make some aliens feel unwelcome.
How to use it: When you’re out of bubblegum, but still have a job to do.

Today's quotation is proof that I do sometimes like movies that my brother Ed recommends. They Live is bizarre, surreal, unintentionally hilarious and highly, highly recommended, especially very late at night when your brain is not functioning at full capacity.

This morning I am pondering the uselessness of trying to be ecologically aware. Yesterday, I ran out of printer ink and needed some file folders, so went to Staples for all my home-office needs.

Across from the ink cartridges was a display with a sign: "Refill your ink cartridges for a fraction of the price!" According to this display, rather than spend $40 on a new color cartridge, I could spend $14 for refills that would give me the equivalent of up to five new cartridges!

Well... well... I've always been that kind of girl. Not only would it save me money, but it appealed to my sense of adventure and promised to feed my continuing delusions of self-reliance. Thoreau would not buy some pre-fab color ink cartridge; he would refill his own, and probably even make his own ink from walnut shells and the scrapings of boiled spinach leaves.

So I bought the refill kit.

Doubts about its ecological value set in immediately, because I couldn't help but notice that this package included four glass bottles plus a plastic syringe, as opposed to one foil-wrapped cartridge if I did things the usual way.

Following instructions, I laid newspaper on my work surface in case of spillage -- because with me, there's always spillage. I used my Swiss Army knife to pry off the top of the color ink cartridge, jabbing my left index finger in the process (the directions said "carefully," but do I look like a sissy?). I used the plastic syringe to inject each section of the cartridge with the matching color of ink: magenta, yellow, cyan. In between, I used the "cartridge flushing solution" (by the smell, rubbing alcohol dyed pink) to clean the syringe.

I replaced the top of the cartridge, put the cartridge back in the printer, and hit "print" on a brightly-colored program agenda one of my clients had just sent me. And... and... and...

And nothing. The cartridge isn't working at ALL. I took it out, shook it. No change.

If Staples weren't a half-hour drive for me, I'd box it all up and take it back for a refund. As it is, I'm worried about the environmental impact of just throwing these chemicals away. The cartridges, at least, can be recycled at the post office.

I'd like to say, "Next time I'll know better," but the sad thing is, that probably isn't true.

Monday, May 16, 2005

“I want you to be nice -- until it’s time to not be nice.”

The Movie: Road House, 1989 (David Lee Henry and Hilary Henkin, screenwriters; Rowdy Herrington, dir.)
Who says it: Patrick Swayze as Dalton, a bouncer with a philosophy degree
The context: Dalton trains his employees in the Way of the Zen Bouncer.
How to use it: I think this would be good for kindergarten teachers. This is probably why I don’t teach kindergarten.

My brothers have been recommending this line to me for a while, but I couldn't use it, because I hadn't seen the movie. Since Road House shows at some hour of every day on either TBS or Spike TV, it was just a matter of time... but really, guys. This movie killed brain cells that will never regenerate. It is the stupidest thing I've ever seen, and I watched most of the Clinton impeachment hearings. I don't even know how you're going to atone for making me watch this thing.

Anna and I went up to Waterville last week for the LL Bean warehouse sale. I was hoping to get some furniture for my deck, but even at 30% off, I think I can do better at Reny's. (Besides, it seems wrong to spend more on outdoor furniture than I've spent on my indoor furniture, but that's another issue.)

It's just as well that I didn't get any furniture, because it started raining again yesterday, and it's supposed to rain all week. If I wait for it to stop raining, I might never get any furniture out at all.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

“You and your hobbies!”

The Movie: Muppet Treasure Island, 1996 (Jerry Juhl, Kirk R. Thatcher, and James V. Hart, screenwriters, based on the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson; Brian Henson, dir.)
Who says it: Steve Whitmire as the voice of Rizzo the Rat
The context: Gonzo the Great (voice of Frank Oz) says that he feels weird… because his pants are filled with starfish.
How to use it: When a friend tells you something embarrassing.

I don't know how I missed it, but yesterday was the 50th anniversary of Gumby. Gumby's one of those childhood figures that I appreciate more in theory than in fact; I remember the actual TV show as pretty boring. And despite my general disdain of both collectibles and the NBA, I would very much like to own the special Allan Iverson edition of Gumby. If you have one you don't need, call me.

What I didn't realize, until I started clicking around for Gumby trivia, is that Gumby's creator, Art Clokey, also created the Davey and Goliath series. Now, that's a show I feel real nostalgia for.

Cable television didn't come to Hampton Roads until the early 1980s, so for most of my childhood, we had only five TV stations: the big three networks, WHRO (public television), and CBN, the flagship of what became Pat Robertson's global media empire. (A Fox affiliate, Channel 33, came later.)

Of those, CBN had the most programming for kids. "Davey and Goliath" came on at random times all throughout the week, but always on Sunday mornings, sometime between the Reverend Ernest Angley and The 700 Club. We were fascinated with the Reverend Ernest -- his baby-blue polyester suits, his egregious hairpiece, the way he "cured" deaf people by making them repeat the word, "bay-bee," and most of all the way he transmitted his HEALing power RIGHT through the television screen, if you just put your hand right there and said, "Heal me, Jesus!" Sadly, the TV in our family room was up on a high shelf, and none of us could reach up there to feel that power for ourselves.

But I digress. (Although, in finding that link, I was thrilled to see that the Reverend Ernest is still in business, and plan to spend some time on that site later today.) I was always a little embarrassed to admit that I liked "Davey and Goliath," because they seemed so goody-goody, and were somehow suspect because their underlying religious outlook was obviously not Catholic.

But even now, anyone can crack me up by just saying, "I don't know, Daaay-vey," in Goliath's voice. I can't remember what Gumby sounded like at all.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

“Any time a man weasels out on you, turns out he’s doing you a favor.”

The Movie: Hombre, 1967 (Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank Jr., screenwriters, from the novel by Elmore Leonard; Martin Ritt, dir.)
Who says it: Diane Cilento as Jessie, a recent widow
The context: John Russell (Paul Newman) turns down Jessie’s proposal of marriage, saying he’s doing her a favor.
How to use it: When you’re not bitter. No, really.

The only news in Maine today is the base closing announcements. Unless the base closing commission changes its mind -- unlikely -- the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard will close, and Brunswick Naval Air Station will lose half its personnel. It's an immediate loss of 7,000 jobs -- more than 1% of the state's work force -- and an economic impact conservatively estimated at more than $400 million.

No one can quite believe it. Even I feel it as a punch in the gut, and I've only been here for six months. Someone at the Department of Defense said yesterday that base closings had actually been good for communities, that they'd spurred new economic development. I can only assume they're talking about places like the Presidio, which was probably the most valuable piece of real estate the military owned.

No offense to summer people, but more waterfront homes for part-time residents are not going to solve the state's economic problems. In his commencement speech at the University of Maine last week, Stephen King gave graduates ten pieces of advice; the last four were, "Stay in Maine, stay in Maine, stay in Maine, stay in Maine."

But how can anyone stay in Maine if there are no jobs? Most of the people I know here work for themselves, as I do. The people I know with "real" jobs generally work for the government or for some human services organization (schools, nursing homes, food banks, other nonprofits).

A commenter on the Maine Today website yesterday said that maybe this could be a blessing, if it forced Maine to come to grips with its hostile business environment. Maybe that's true, but it'll take some time -- and, in the meantime, a lot of people will just leave.

Ironically, the jobs that are leaving Maine are going to Tidewater Virginia, which doesn't need them. Virginia is a pro-business environment, and the Tidewater area has more than quadrupled in size since I left for college, in 1982.

Maybe I can set up my own relocation service.

Friday, May 13, 2005

“Well, nobody’s perfect.”

The Movie: Some Like It Hot, 1959 (Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond, screenwriters, from a story by Robert Thoeren and Michael Logan; Billy Wilder, dir.)
Who says it: Joe E. Brown as millionaire Osgood Fielding III
The context: Daphne (Jack Lemmon), who is really Jerry, has just told her fiance that she’s actually a man.
How to use it: To take unpleasant revelations in stride.

Okay, Tom, here's some Billy Wilder for you. I'd like to point out, though, that I have quoted Double Indemnity and Sunset Blvd., so this is not my first Billy Wilder quote. And I loathe Kiss Me, Stupid (although it has some good lines), so you're not going to see that here.

My workload is completely out of control at the moment, and between that and my feeble attempts at a social life, I've had little time for reading. This week's list, remarkably, includes no crime fiction. Unlike last week, however, I strongly recommend all of these.

What I Read This Week

James Whorton Jr., Frankland. Another book I picked up just because I liked the cover, and what a lucky grab. John H. Tolley is a self-educated historian with a fixation on Andrew Johnson, possibly our worst President. His passion brings him to eastern Tennessee, in search of a legendary missing scrapbook that might reveal long-hidden truths about Johnson. What he finds, instead, is a world of possibilities he'd never imagined. Reminiscent of Walker Percy at his most light-hearted, or the novels of James Finney Boylan.

Thomas Groome, What Makes Us Catholic. My parish is reading this for discussion; I love having a Jesuit for a pastor. The book's subtitle is "Eight Gifts for Life," and it explores how Catholicism deals with eight of life's basic questions, from "Who Do We Think We Are?" to "What is Our Heart's Desire?" Exactly the right book at the right time for me, for many reasons, and each of my godchildren will be getting a copy at some point later this year.

James Weldon Johnson, Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man. I came across this book while doing research on a project that's only tangentially related to this book's time period (1880s - early 1900s). They gave us excerpts of this book in middle school, but I can't understand why we didn't read it all; it's a fascinating, heartbreaking, inspiring, infuriating look at race relations in the United States at the turn of the century. The narrator is the illegitimate son of a white father and black mother who grows up in Connecticut, travels in the South and Europe, and eventually builds a life for himself as a "white" man. At one point, a character says, "It's no disgrace to be black, but it's often very inconvenient." I wish to God that were no longer true.

Enough procrastinating... back to work... don't call me or e-mail till tonight or tomorrow, please.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

“Joe lies… when he cries…”

The Movie: Say Anything..., 1989 (Cameron Crowe, screenwriter and dir.)
Who says it: Lili Taylor as Corey Flood, aspiring songwriter and best friend of Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack)
The context: At a high school graduation party, Corey announces that she has written 65 songs about her ex-boyfriend, Joe (Loren Dean), and plans to sing them all that night.
How to use it: To comment on perfidy, especially that of a romantic partner. You need to sing it the way she does -- “Joe lie-hies… when he cri-hies…”

Jen Lechner asked me the other night why I hadn't used anything from this movie yet. It surprises me, too, because I adore this movie.

The problem, for the purposes of this blog, is that the best lines in it are exchanges, not one-liners. "If you guys know so much about women, how come you're here at like the Gas 'n' Sip on a Saturday night completely alone drinking beers with no women anywhere?" "By choice, man!" But I'll probably come up with a few other lines from this movie before the end of July.

Anyway, I feel that I need to apologize to loyal readers of the blog who want to know, "Whatever happened with that whole brain-stealing scandal?" Here's an update from yesterday's Press-Herald:

More brain suits filed
By KEVIN WACK, Portland Press Herald Writer

Copyright © 2005 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.

The legal battle over brain harvesting in Maine continued to expand Tuesday when four more families filed lawsuits alleging their dead relatives' brains were taken without proper authorization.

The cases, all brought by Berman & Simmons of Lewiston, raise the number of brain-harvesting lawsuits in Maine to eight. The Lewiston law firm is expected to file a ninth case today in Kennebec County Superior Court.


If you want to read the entire saga from the beginning, click here.

What's particularly interesting to me about these latest developments is that they involve a research lab in Bethesda run by Dr. E. Fuller Torrey. Dr. Torrey was a consulting psychiatrist for Zacchaeus Free Medical Clinic when I volunteered there in the early 1990s; I never met him, but he's helped a lot of people. His book Surviving Schizophrenia is essential reading for everyone who loves or works with someone who has the disorder.

I sympathize with the plaintiffs in this lawsuit, but part of me feels impatient about it: isn't curing live people more important than keeping dead bodies intact? Dr. Torrey is welcome to my brain, if he wants it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

“When I dislike someone for no reason, I always find it more enjoyable.”

The Movie: Swing Time, 1936 (Howard Lindsay and Allan Scott, screenwriters, based on a story by Erwin Gelsey; George Stevens, dir.)
Who says it: Fred Astaire as John “Lucky” Garnett, a dancer and gambler
The context: Lucky says he doesn’t like his dance partner’s suitor, bandleader Ricky Romero (Georges Metaxa); she (Ginger Rogers) says that Romero’s given Lucky no reason to dislike him, as they don’t even know each other.
How to use it: To enjoy your preconceived notions.

At dinner last night, my friend Anna was telling our pal Jen that she would love another woman we know, and Jen said, "I never like people when you tell me I'm going to like them." Everybody laughed -- and I worried a little bit, because at some point I must have been someone Anna told Jen she would like.

But we laughed because it is true. Why is this? Why is my first thought, "I'm going to hate this," when someone says I'll love something? If one of my friends says I'm going to like something, I usually do like it -- but those are never the times I remember.

What I remember, instead, is ripping The Bridges of Madison County in half and hurling it across the room. It's sitting wordless at a restaurant table in D.C.'s Chinatown, across from a guy someone said I'd have so much in common with (what a painful way to find out what that person thought of me). It's going to see any number of Meg Ryan movies, before she mutilated her face beyond recognition.

Anyway, we all went to see Sting at the Cumberland County Civic Center last night, and he was great. The Civic Center's not much bigger than a large high school gym -- it might seat 8,000 people. I only know about half a dozen people in Maine, and almost everyone I knew was there. Big thanks to Chandra for camping out for tickets; it's one part of youth I don't really miss.

Before the concert, the Bragdons and Lechners and I had dinner at the Free Street Taverna, which is theoretically a Greek restaurant as well as a bar. I say "theoretically," because real Greek restaurants generally do not serve Kraft Creamy Cucumber salad dressing and call it tzatziki. (Then again, I haven't been to Greece, so maybe they do. I'm making assumptions here.)

However, by my old friend Scott Peeples' Law of Inverse Bathroom Quality (the cooler the bar, the grosser the bathroom), the Free Street Taverna is one cool bar. And they have live music, so I'll probably go back there. Just for drinks.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

“I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender.”

The Movie: On the Waterfront, 1954 (Budd Schulberg, screenwriter, from articles by Malcolm Johnson; Elia Kazan, dir.)
Who says it: Marlon Brando as Terry Malloy, an ex-boxer
The context: Terry reproaches his brother, Charley (Rod Steiger), for talking him into throwing a fight.
How to use it: To regret a missed opportunity, or lament your insurmountable loserdom.

The sign on the front door of the Maine State Library says, "No food, drink, smoking or cell phone use in the library. No spitting. No bare feet." Just to make sure you know they're serious about it, another sign at the circulation desk repeats it: "No food, drink, cell phones or spitting."

The fact that they have to specify "no spitting" suggests that they've had enough of a problem with it to need the sign. That worries me. Every time I go, I can't help looking around at other patrons, wondering who might be finding it a challenge to comply with the No Spitting rule.

Other than that, the Maine State Library is great. It's downstairs in the building that houses the State Museum and Archives; it feels small and cozy, but has everything I need, and the librarians are nice. (Except for one, who snapped at me when I tried to plug my laptop into a power strip under a set of carrels. If the table cards in the library say "laptop friendly," wouldn't you think the nearest available outlet is fair game? No. If you bring your laptop, ask at the desk which electrical outlets are available to library patrons, and which ones aren't. Just so they don't yell at you.)

The one problem with the library is that, like a casino, it has no visible clocks -- at least, none that are visible from the desks where I work. Yesterday I went thinking I'd get two hours of work in, and then do all the other things I needed to do. I sat down with a stack of books, started chasing footnotes, and when I looked up, almost four hours had passed. And it wasn't time I could bill for, either.

I need to get my watch fixed.

Monday, May 09, 2005

“Just remember one thing: we are loved in Belgium and in Italy.”

The Movie: Singles, 1992 (Cameron Crowe, director and screenwriter)
Who says it: Matt Dillon as grunge-band frontman Cliff Poncier
The context: Cliff’s band, Citizen Dick, has just played a disappointing show in Portland (Oregon, not Maine).
How to use it: To reassure yourself after a temporary setback.

Years ago, a reporter I worked with told me the story of his and his wife's whirlwind courtship. "Here's how sure I was," he said. "I married her without even knowing what she looked like in summer clothes."

Not being a New Englander, I didn't get it. In Virginia Beach, where I grew up, people wear pretty much the same things year round. In the winter, you throw on a jacket; in the summer, you might trade long pants for shorts. Washington is not much different, which is one reason people complain so much about the winters there (no one dresses for them).

But insulation is the key to surviving the winter in Maine, or New Hampshire, or Massachusetts, which I think is where this reporter and his wife went to college. If you wear enough clothes, and make sure your head, feet and hands are covered, the cold is truly not that bad.

As a result, though, we all spend five months looking like the Michelin Man. (Yes, some of us look enough like the Michelin Man without help. I'm working on it.) Winter clothes in New England are homogenizing, too; everyone looks the same in a storm coat, hat and boots.

Exhibit A: my trusty winter coat. I bought it a couple of years ago on sale at the Gap in Westwood, for a trip to Colorado I wound up not making. It was on sale because of its hideous color, which I'd politely call dirt brown. But it's the perfect weight, it has a removable hood, and it has enough pockets for even the hardest-core thug to carry all of his weapons, cell phone, beeper and stash.

I have worn this coat every day since November, except for the week I spent in Florida. (I even wore it in L.A. in January, because the weather was so bad while I was there.) I'm afraid to go through all of the pockets, because God only knows what I might find in some of them: ancient dog biscuits, PowerBar wrappers, post office receipts, phone numbers for calls I never returned, Nicole and Ron's real killer.

So this past weekend I planned a ritual. I'd go to the laundromat, clean out my pockets, and put The Coat into the big machine. When it came out of the dryer, I'd put it on a hanger, wrap the whole thing in plastic, and store the coat away for the next five months. It would be my official Farewell to Winter, Welcome to Spring.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

Yesterday morning's temperature was 39. This morning it's up to 44. It's still raining.

At least I can put off cleaning out the pockets for a few more days.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

“A boy’s best friend is his mother.”

The Movie: Psycho, 1960 (Joseph Stefano, screenwriter, from the novel by Robert Bloch; Alfred Hitchcock, dir.)
Who says it: Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates, a solitary innkeeper
The context: If you’re the last person on earth who hasn’t seen this movie, I’m not going to give it away. Let’s just say Norman’s close to his mother. Very close.
How to use it: To express creepy levels of devotion to one’s mom.

Here's a pet peeve -- no pun intended -- that might surprise you. Regular readers of this blog know that I am foolishly devoted to my dog, Dizzy, who is my constant companion and my most reliable source of entertainment and affection.

I do not, however, describe myself as Dizzy's "mom." In my imagination, Dizzy thinks of me not as "Mom," but as "That Lady."

People who describe their pets as their children strike me as not only sad, but a little offensive to people doing the real work of parenting.

My dog will never look me in the eye and tell me a lie. He'll never stay out too late and "forget" to call me. He'll never embarrass me in public -- okay, well, not deliberately. He might drive me crazy, but he'll never break my heart through carelessness or anger. And he'll never say he hates me or that he wishes he'd never been born.

I've done all of those things to my mother. So have my five siblings. And Mom, God bless her, never once kicked us out of the house or told us that she wished we'd never been born, either.

Instead, she set us an example of unwavering loyalty and infinite forgiveness. She raised six kids who now, after all the screaming and yelling, get along with each other and with both of our parents. We're productive members of society, and we rise up and call her blessed.

Thanks, Mom. And happy birthday to Sally Gawne, Mom's best friend, who is also one of the world's great mothers.

Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

“Well, well, well. The things you see when you’re out without your gun.”

The Movie: The Untouchables, 1987 (David Mamet, screenplay, based on the novel by Oscar Fraley and Eliot Ness; Brian De Palma, dir.)
Who says it: Sean Connery as Chicago beat cop Jimmy Malone
The context: Jimmy greets Al Capone’s bookkeeper, who’s been captured in a liquor raid and looks pretty pathetic.
How to use it: As a greeting.

I absolutely love this story. If it wouldn't take me three hours to get there, I'd go:

Student Organizes Time Traveler Conference

By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN

BOSTON (AP) - Attention, time travelers: Amal Dorai hopes you enjoyed the party he's throwing this weekend. Dorai, a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is hosting a Time Traveler Convention on campus this Saturday. Make plans now, because it's the last such party.

``You only need one,'' he said. ``The chance that anybody shows up is small, but if it happens it will be one of the biggest events in human history.''

There's no dress code. No need to R.S.V.P. Refreshments (chips and dip) will be provided.

Dorai only asks his guests to show proof they come from the future: Bringing the cure for cancer, a solution for global poverty or a cold fusion reactor would suffice.

***

The convention starts at 8 p.m. For dramatic effect, time travelers are encouraged to show up at 10 p.m. sharp. In between, revelers will take in a lecture on time travel by an MIT physics professor and listen to student bands belting out time-themed songs.


If you think you might want to go to this, details are here.

I had planned to go to a Sea Dogs game this afternoon, but it's raining. Maybe I'll go to the library instead.

Friday, May 06, 2005

“I know, baby, you’d dig it the most.”

The Movie: Pulp Fiction, 1994 (Quentin Tarantino, director and screenwriter, from stories by Tarantino and Roger Avary)
Who says it: John Travolta as Vincent Vega, a thug recently returned from Amsterdam
The context: Vincent tells his partner, Jules (Samuel L. Jackson), how great Amsterdam is because of its liberal marijuana laws, and Jules vows to go there.
How to use it: To recommend something to a friend.

It's still a mystery: who called me this morning at 1:00? Whoever it was had blocked their Caller ID... so unless I hear from whoever it was tonight, I'm assuming it was a wrong number. The tendency to dial numbers incorrectly is one good reason not to call anybody at 1:00 in the morning.

This week's reading list feels short, but this is only because I have spent a great deal of time reading friends' screenplays, linguistics articles, and a novel that should probably be tackled only under professional supervision.

What I Read This Week

Neil Olson, Icon. If you get The Mystery Bookstore's monthly newsletter, you know this was my employee pick for May. It's a first novel, a thriller about the hunt for an icon that was stolen from a Greek village church in the Second World War and winds up part of a Swiss banker's estate. By coincidence -- or not -- the expert called into appraise it is the grandson of one of the men responsible for its original loss. The first third of the book is great; too much talk drags down the middle, but it ends strongly. Fans of Daniel Silva's Gabriel Allon series should like it.

Newton Thornburg, Cutter and Bone. I recently watched the movie adaptation, Cutter's Way, because a friend had recommended it as a lost gem of 1970s cinema. It's relentlessly, shockingly bleak; the book, I thought, had to be a little less grim. Nope. Richard Bone has left his wife and two children to become a drifter and sometime gigolo in Santa Barbara. His only friend is Alex Cutter IV, a badly wounded Vietnam veteran who punishes Mo, the mother of his child, for continuing to love him. One night Bone sees a man dump a girl's body in a trashcan, and Cutter becomes obsessed with blackmailing the corporate titan who might have been responsible. Beautiful prose, vivid characters, but at the end I just wanted to go drink a bottle of Clorox.

Alain Robbe-Grillet, The Voyeur. Robbe-Grillet didn't lay out his ideas about the "new novel" until after he'd written this book, but it's all here: the non-linear narrative, the unreliable timelines, the equal weight given to physical setting and character. Mathias, a watch salesman, returns to the island where he was born to sell watches. He has six hours between ferries -- six hours to sell 89 watches -- and recurring fixations on a piece of rope he's found, and a young girl... I read this book for a client, and really, really wished I'd had a professor to guide me through it. An outline of the book I found online helped, and I felt as virtuous as if I'd just run ten miles. (Yes, that outline's in French. If you can't read it and you really want to know what it says, I'll tell you, just for the showing-off value.)

Don't be surprised if next week's reading list is nothing but People magazine. My brain hurts.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

“Benjy, ladies are unwell. Gentlemen vomit.”

The Movie: My Favorite Year, 1982 (Dennis Palumbo and Norman Steinberg, screenwriters; Richard Benjamin, dir.)
Who says it: Peter O’Toole as Alan Swann, a fading matinee idol
The context: Benjy Stone (Mark Linn Baker), who's supposed to be keeping Swann under control, says he’s going to be unwell after rappelling down the side of a skyscraper.
How to use it: After overindulging.

Yes, and dogs barf. "Hork" is the word I use, because that's the sound Dizzy makes. It doesn't happen often, thank goodness, but it does tend to happen after heavy rainfalls, because Dizzy loves to eat new grass. Left unattended, he'll eat enough to make himself hork it all back up again.

Everyone has a different theory about why dogs eat grass. Dizzy's old vet said that some dogs just like to graze, and it's not a problem unless it becomes excessive. Dizzy, deprived of grass for a long winter, has gone a little crazy with it since the grass came back. It makes our walks jerky: step, step, "Dizzy, leave it." Step, step, "leave it." Step, step, step, "Dizzy! No eating grass!"

I have tried a couple of different supplements, thinking that Dizzy might just want the chlorophyll -- but all they did was make Dizzy unwilling to eat his own food, and eager to fill up on grass instead. I wound up using the blue-green algae powder myself; it's nasty, but does wonders for your skin. I recommend it.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

“I really have nothing to say, but I want to say it all the time.”

The Movie: , 1963 (Ennio Flaiano, Tullio Pinelli, Federico Fellini, and Brunello Rondi, screenwriters; Federico Fellini, dir.)
Who says it: Marcello Mastroianni as Guido Anselmi, a film director
The context: Guido mourns his inability to make the film he wants to make.
How to use it: To admit you have the artistic temperament, but not the talent.

How hard could it be to post something to the blog every day? Usually, it's not hard at all. Usually, I have plenty to say.

I'm not sure why it was so hard for me to decide on a quotation this morning; I'm not sure why I'm having such a hard time thinking of anything insightful to say. Some days are just like that.

Maybe it's spring fever, or maybe I'm just distracted by the demands of three wildly different projects. I have a comfortable amount of work at the moment, and I generally like having very different things to do. This week, though, I'm having a hard time making the switch from researching antebellum Southern speech patterns (one project) to thinking about how to get speakers for a daylong program on micropayments in developing countries (another project).

But it's probably because I'm trying to read an Alain Robbe-Grillet novel for yet another client, and le nouveau roman has deconstructed my entire brain. But that'll be Friday's post.

Oh, and today's Onion AV Club has a "Reader's Digest" version of Elvis Costello's album liner notes that should dispel doubts anyone might have about the man's genius. He might not be the theologian Bruce Springsteen is, but who is?

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

“If fate works at all, it works because people think that THIS TIME, it isn't going to happen!”

The Movie: Dead Again, 1991 (Scott Frank, screenwriter; Kenneth Branagh, dir.)
Who says it: Derek Jacobi as antiques dealer/hypnotist Franklyn Madson
The context: Madson warns photographer Pete Dugan (Wayne Knight) about the potential for violence in a confrontation between two people who may have known each other in a past life.
How to use it: To maintain your guard against the inevitable.

This quotation doesn't refer to anything specific... at least, nothing that I know about... but that's how fate tricks you, isn't it? God only knows what wheels are turning at this very moment, to change all our lives forever... okay, now I'm freaking myself out.

Yes, I know this post is very late today. It's ironic, because I started May full of good intentions and plans and schedules to create a new routine for myself, including blocks of time dedicated to exercise, a specific bedtime, meal plans, and other healthy structures that grown-ups generally do have in their lives.

So far I've been good about the exercising part, and I (naturally) haven't missed a meal. But the rest of it has already gotten away from me, because of deadlines and Postal Service weirdness and the telephone, which has been ringing non-stop for the past two days. (Questionnaires were due yesterday for a big annual survey report I write. I feel so magnanimous when I grant extensions, especially because I know I won't start writing this thing for at least another week.)

And now I'm rushing out the door again for a meeting about set construction on the Gaslight Theater's summer musical. Nothing cheers me up more than pounding things with hammers. I'm serious.

Monday, May 02, 2005

“Positive thinking is fine in theory. But whenever I try it on a systematic basis... I end up really depressed.”

The Movie: Barcelona, 1994 (Whit Stillman, screenwriter and dir.)
Who says it: Taylor Nichols as Ted Boynton, an American salesman working in Barcelona
The context: Ted’s compulsive reading of self-help books isn’t helping him much.
How to use it: To enjoy your negativity.

In the grocery store the other day, I saw a mother and teenage daughter shopping together. It was as grim as those situations usually are. As I passed them, I heard the mother say, "I don't know where you get this attitude."

I felt such an overwhelming sense of time-warp vertigo, I almost tripped over my cart. I wanted to turn around, grip each of them by a shoulder, and say, "Do you realize that you are having the Universal Teenager-Parent Conversation, right now? Congratulations, you're both winners!" Instead, I zoomed into the next aisle before I could hear the next sentence, which I'm sure was some version of, "You just don't understand."

On a good day, it makes me happy to know that we're all just repeating patterns of everyone who came before us, and everyone who'll come after. On a bad day, the tragedy of humanity overwhelms me.

Today's a good day. The sun is back, and it's the first day of Reny's Spring Sale. The flyer I got in the mail suggests that a perfect Mother's Day gift might be a small appliance, or maybe some gardening clogs. Something tells me that Mom wouldn't be thrilled with either of these. Maybe she would like the Coleman Inflatable Boat (with oars!), only $29.95...

Sunday, May 01, 2005

“I was in love with a beautiful blonde once… she drove me to drink. That’s the one thing I’m indebted to her for.”

The Movie: Never Give a Sucker an Even Break, 1941 (Prescott Chaplin and John T. Neville, screenwriters, from a story by W.C. Fields; Edward F. Cline, dir.)
Who says it: W.C. Fields as The Great Man
The context: The Great Man’s niece (Gloria Jean) asks why he never married.
How to use it: To reminisce about lost love.

Happy birthday today to the original beautiful blonde, my mother -- and many, many more. And no, Mom, you did not drive me to drink. I walked there all by myself...

I drove up to Waterville last night, to see The Upside of Anger at the Railroad Square Cinema. I liked it, and didn't mind the ending, which seemed to upset many critics.

Next door to Railroad Square is one of central Maine's very few Mexican restaurants. Anna and Tarren had said it wasn't very good, but it had been so long since I'd had any Mexican food, and Anna doesn't even like it, so I discounted her opinion.

Next time I'll pay more attention to local knowledge. Even the guacamole just wasn't right... too much onion, not enough lemon, no garlic. And the less said about the refried beans, the better.

So I guess it's time for the list of Things I Miss about Los Angeles.

1. My family and friends.
2. The Mystery Bookstore.
3. Paco's Tacos and Cobras & Matadors.
4. Trader Joe's.
5. The Farmers' Market/The Grove.
6. Movie theaters in walking distance.
7. Night-blooming jasmine, bougainvillea, and birds of paradise.
8. Runyon Canyon.
9. The Westminster Dog Park in Venice.
10. The Iyengar yoga studio on 3rd Street.

It's now six months since I arrived in Maine. I remember that six-month aftershock when I moved to Los Angeles -- this is the point when my brain accepts that I really have moved, that I'm not just pretending and I'm not going back. Uncomfortable, but temporary, and a necessary transition.