Sunday, August 24, 2008

Kaye's Home

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. Kaye had to stay overnight even though it was supposed to be day surgery, but she appears to be fine, other than having a pain in the neck (thyroidectomy and intubation during the surgery) besides James and me. She's tired but she'll be okay, I think.

James is glad to have us home, and I'm glad he made it through the night.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Pray for Kaye

My partner is having a five-hour operation thyroidectomy because she might have thyroid cancer, and doing a biopsy is practically removing everything, so that’s what we (she, her doctors and I) decided to go with. It’s always nerve-wracking for me to hang around hospitals alone – and I’ll be alone for over five hours, wondering. You can smack me for being whiny, but if anyone reads this and believes in something, prayer would be appreciated. I’m always afraid something will go wrong with the anesthesia and she’ll wind up in a coma or something. (I watch way too much er .) So if you pray, please pray for Kaye. I need her back home, as does James.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Church Blog Down

After spending most of Monday putting up my new blog about my new church, I have destroyed it. The reason I put it up at all is that there's sort of a policy against flogging dead horses. The problem is, I always think the horse is viable. So I thought this would be a good way to lay off the priests and get my frustrations out in the open. But after a nap, I realized that I didn't want to do this. It's kind of like when my little brother and I went to school together. He was in the first grade, and I was in the fifth. At home, we would terrorize each other no end, but when we got on that bus, Chris sat with me. And I wouldn't have let anyone mess with him. So while I may disagree with some things about my church, it's my church, and I don't want to knock it. It makes me feel good, not that you could tell it so far. I've cursed (f word, which I'm not sure is permissible on the blogs) at a priest in an e-mail, and Sunday I had another sort of meltdown. Unexpectedly, I burst into tears and neither love nor Valium could make it stop. My best friend is dying, and I don't have a spare. But that's a lot of what drove me to church. If it's a psychological crutch, then I sure as hell need one. I need a psychological Jazzy Chair. So all you Zen people out there, lay off me. I'm an emotional time bomb.

It's going to be a long time. I'm running out of people to lose.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Episcopalian Underground

My new blog dealing with my tentative steps into the Episcopal Church -- actually, any church -- is up. I think the first entry will be the longest, so bear with me. It's not like you've had to read anything I've written since May. B)

All my heathen friends, do bear with me. I mean, they still might throw me out. There's hope for me yet.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I'm Back . . .

Sorry I’ve been away so long. Things have piled up, and I’ve let my responsibilities to friends and even myself slide. Loads of illnesses, crises, and just plain laziness have kept me away.

I’ve started attending church, a local Episcopal church, after about twenty-five years away. I grew up in the Methodist Church but left once I got too big for my parents to drag, and haven’t been back except for weddings and funerals – and few of them. Maybe not even a few – I went to my brother’s wedding in 1995 and my maternal grandmother’s funeral in 1998. I refuse to go to any of my parents’ weddings (there have been three, I think) on the excuse that I didn’t go to the one where they married each other. That’s not really the reason. I’m suspicious of anything that requires new clothes, to paraphrase Thoreau. The church I’m going to now has no dress code, so I can get away with jeans and t-shirts. Perfect.

My mother is married to a Lutheran minister, so naturally she wants me to find a Lutheran church. I don’t think they’re quite as gay-friendly as the Episcopalians, and, in any case, they’ve got prayer books, too, so I might just as well learn the ways of the Episcopalians as the Lutherans. At least the church I’m attending is gay-friendly without being a gay church.

I’m still baffled as to when to stand up, sit down, and find my place in either the prayer book or the hymnal, but I’ll learn. I’m starting a new blog devoted strictly to church questions, debates, and what-not, so I’ll leave that for now and give you the link once I have a post on it.

The great news is that Kaye is finished teaching! All she has to do is give two exams, grade them, and post the grades. She should be done for real by Thursday, at the latest, although she doesn’t officially retire until September 1st as there is some rule somewhere that you can only retire on the 1st of a month. (I assume months where the 1st falls on a weekend let you retire on the 2nd or 3rd.) We’re both looking forward to her well-earned freedom after teaching for some forty years. She’s been at NCSU since 1970.

Hope everyone (and everybody’s cat) is well. See you in the funny papers.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Flying vs. U-haul

My mother is in Minnesota (a long way from North Carolina) this week because her husband’s daughter is graduating from St. Olaf’s. (Well-done, Katie!) When I saw that my mother was to be out of the area for about a week just for one graduation ceremony (I didn’t even go the less than two miles to attend my last two, but that’s me), I asked her if they were driving, thinking maybe they were moving Katie out or something. No, they’re flying. You could not get me to fly to anywhere you couldn’t drive to. Before 2001, my flying experience has been expensive, hectic, uncomfortable, and unreliable (lost luggage, etc.). Since then, I’m not even going to try. Somehow I would be detained as a terrorist because I have screws in my neck that I could no doubt take out and poke somebody to death with in my last remaining seconds. Too much trouble. But no, they’re not driving that far. How crazy am I? (I thought maybe they were bringing Katie’s stuff home with a U-haul or something.) So I asked why she was staying all that time away from home, since she and her husband are flying. Her response was weird to me. She said she’d never been to Minnesota before and wanted to see as much of it as possible. What, she’s going to a giant mall? I always thought that the whole point of flying was that you could leave North Carolina Friday, see the ceremony Saturday (let’s say it’s a Saturday), and be back home Sunday.


I’m feeling better but a bit butchered after Tuesday’s minor surgery. They always make it sound as if it will be just a little “discomfort” and not screaming pain -- and I always fall for it. Some of us never learn.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Train Wreck

I have not died, but I’ve been keeping pretty busy staying sick and even making plans to. So far this year there’s been a septoplasty, pleurisy, pneumonia, bronchitis, various lesser infections, migraine after migraine, and now I get to have a biopsy next week to make sure I don’t have some form of cancer (they don’t think so; they’re just checking), and then abdominal surgery. We are not talking laparoscopy here. We are talking big gut pain. I will be out of commission from whenever I have that (sometime in June) until around August or so. This is getting ridiculous.

The good news is that Kaye is practically retired. She just has the second summer session to go and then she’s free at last. She had a small party (she requested no party, but got a surprise party with just a few friends, and was flabbergasted, mortified and delighted) Saturday with some very good friends, whom she’s known longer than she’s known me, which is getting up there. Here’s the part I find hilarious: she got a brick on the brickyard at State. It gives her name, her department, says “Thanks!” and gives her dates of service. I don’t know if I have to go polish the brick (wherever it is) and observe a moment of silence every year or what. Her department was very generous and kind, and I’m glad to think they appreciate what Kaye’s done. She isn’t tenure-track, but she does lots of little things. Her students love her. I think her colleagues like her – I know some of them love her, anyway. She’s been there longer than anyone else in the department except one person who came in the same semester that she did. So congratulations, Kaye!

I feel very grateful to have her with me when she is so well-liked. I mean, what’s she doing with me? :p Look at the people she had to choose from.

So I’ll be sporadic through August, but I’ll be here when I can.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Return from the Monkeypox

Okay, it’s my second day mostly out of bed, and I’m feeling pretty good. Just tired. When I went to the ER two weeks ago, the nurse asked me if I’d had a pneumonia vaccine. I’m thinking, “there’s a pneumonia vaccine?” and just saying, “No.” Does everybody out there know that there’s a pneumonia vaccine? Well, now you do. You should probably get one next season.

The good thing is, besides racking up a lot of naptime, I’ve had a chance to read ten or fifteen books. My favorite during this time has to be “Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription,” from Bill Buckley’s Notes & Asides in the National Review. I probably would disagree with him at least nine times out of ten, but intelligence and a sharp wit will keep me a fan. (No, I wouldn’t be a fan of Hitler, or even Bush, if either were intelligent and/or intentionally funny. So don’t everybody pile on me.)

Besides, he looks remarkably like my great uncle Bill. He’d be the anti-Bill, but it’s captivating to me.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Not Dead Yet

I’ll be back in a couple of days. Lately I’ve been busy having pleurisy and pneumonia and reading really bad novels with James at my side. I don’t know whether his clinginess is because he’s concerned or just happy to have someone to hang around with. I’m going to pretend it’s the former. While I’m in bed, he assumes the “nurse’s position” in his bed on the bed.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Pilgrimage Day: Chaucer and Cats

Today is, if I remember correctly, the 625th anniversary of the Chaucer pilgrimage. I will observe it by reading the following (from The Manciple's Tale) to James, as I’m sure he will appreciate it:

Lat take a cat, and fostre hym wel with milk
And tendre flessh, and make his couche of silk,
And lat hym seen a mous go by the wal,
Anon he weyveth milk and flessh and al,
And every deyntee that is in that hous,
Swich appetit hath he to ete a mous.

Roughly translated:

Take any cat and give him milk and tuna and a silk beddy-bye basket, and let him see a mouse go by the wall; right away, he’ll ignore all of that and anything else you can think of to give him (laced with catnip, yet), such appetite has he to eat a mouse.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Kindling and Such

I’ve been reading like mad in between bouts of one or another annoying health problem. Nothing deadly, just annoying. I finally managed to get a Kindle, the e-reader. I had my doubts at first, which is why I wasn’t one of the ones to get it when it first came out. Since then, I’ve been waiting impatiently in line for them to make new ones. I mean, how long can it take? Suddenly I was seized by a wild and dangerous move: e-bay. I have never used e-bay, but I did find an unopened Kindle posted, and got it, as described. It’s great. It compares to the iPod, which I need to maintain my sanity. Music is that important to me. It also has the advantage of clearing out the house of thousands of books. I’m not going to get rid of all of them, no. Not anything with lots of pictures, not anything that looks simply beautiful on a shelf, and not anything I’d want to annotate (you can make annotations on a Kindle, but it’s a pain). Since Wednesday, I’ve sold ten books and got about $75 in my bank account and lots of books off the shelves (that haven’t sold yet). Those that won’t sell at can probably be sold to local used book stores. Of course, not everything in my library is in Kindle format, but enough is to make it usable. Books decorate a room, but after a point, when they’re piled on shelves, on floors, on surfaces, they become somewhat oppressive. Anyway, enough about my new toy.

I have successfully (so far) grown fingernails so that I can use them to play the guitar properly. This near-impossible feat shows how much I want to play the guitar. The fact that I’ve spent more time reading than practicing is another issue. My hands look like they belong on another person. When I was a little girl, Memaw promised me five dollars and a manicure set if I’d just quit biting my nails. (She was a nurse and saw it more as a health hazard than disgusting and unladylike.) Sadly, Memaw is not around to see my new fingernails. I could go without the rewards now; I’d just like to see her happy about it.

This weekend I will be practicing my guitar to death if I am a good girl. That contingency will make for a pretty big if, but I do want to play the thing. It’s just frustrating to start almost anything to realize how much harder it is than it looks!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Recognition and Thanks

Kaye and I have been together for twenty-three years today. It’s never something that’s noted by anyone, though at least my mother has known the date for a good many years now. I feel pretty sure that she’s sent my brother and his wife anniversary cards since September, 1996. It’s not that I want any fuss. In practical terms, I’m somewhat relieved that it goes unnoticed. I’m somewhat reserved, and in this case, Kaye is more so. I’m happy, proud and lucky to have Kaye, and that’s the important thing by far. It’s just maddening somehow that other people don’t recognize us as a couple like any other. I guess that’s because there is no couple to match us.

If there is someone out there pulling the strings, I would like to say thank you.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Arlo on Teaching Methods

From the album Precious Friend, by Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie. Arlo introduces "Garden Song" with some thoughts on how we learn. I wish I'd had Arlo to fall back on in grad school, because by the time I got there, they figured the "boring method" (i.e., some rote memorization from which you can draw new conclusions, create new ideas) was very much looked down upon. I think there's some middle ground.

This’s a kinda easy song, let’s hold one second, let’s learn this song, ‘cause this is, I mean, I know everybody likes singin’ with Pete, but I learnt this song from Pete, an’ it’d be almost the same thing. So, now I know, I mean, the difference, I know, I’ve been watchin’ Pete now for a few years, and he does somethin’ I can’t do, which is, he sings the songs twice at the same time. That’s what we were talking about before, celery consciousness, an’ Pete can do it. It’s the same –it’s – he sings the song once in front of the song and then once with everybody. That’s hard. So, I’m gonna try it, but first, let’s do it the normal way, which is the way we all learnt stuff in school. Now I know, people wanna forget about that, because you don’t figure you can learn anything that way, but it’s wrong; you’ve been learnin’ new ways to learn stuff an’ it don’t work. Right? So. Go back to the old way. It’s the old, what they call the “borin’ method.”

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Teaching Styles

My guitar teacher insists that I am doing better than I think. I don’t know if that’s so I don’t have a nervous breakdown over a transition to a D chord (almost got that without buzzing now). I guess I quit classical guitar mostly because I went to them with a sinking feeling and drove home in tears. I was probably more sensitive to criticism then, not having had nearly as much time to fail at things. The classical guitar teacher (whose name I don’t even remember) was like a drill sergeant. The only nice thing I remember him saying about me is that I could sight-read well. Having been in the band, in high school, I guess I could.

When I taught, I didn’t grasp the concept of “good enough.” I should have. I could have taught my students something about writing instead of putting the bar at English major grad student level, which I think I did. I’d do it differently if I had it to do over again. The thing was, it was hard to find something to praise in those papers! I mean, I got reduced to saying things like, “nice use of semicolon” or something. (They didn’t get punctuation or parts of speech, and we were banned from teaching them. I did anyway, surreptitiously.)

Of course, a guitar lesson that you’re paying for because you want to play the guitar well (or well enough) is hardly the same thing as Freshman Composition. That, you’re taking because you have to if you want to graduate. Not everyone there – and I know this will come as a shock – wants to learn anything; they just want a diploma they can barter into a job offer. That makes me sad. The reason I worked was to pay for a lifestyle in which I could continue to learn things for the sake of learning them.

A cynic might suggest that any private teacher does himself a service when he praises mediocre work by making the student like him through false praise. I’m generally not cynical, sometimes to my detriment. In any case, I don’t think that’s the case with my teacher. I’ve heard about her from a friend and an uncle. I think I’m awfully demanding of students, and moreso of myself. Anyhow, that’s what I’m going to tell myself while I keep practicing at home, where I can cuss at myself freely, and sing along. I sing okay, I think, when nobody can hear me. Kaye doesn’t count as an extra person after twenty-three years. I’m pretty much the same person around her as I am by myself. Not necessarily good, just consistent.

Chaucer's April

To ring in April, no fooling, here is one of my favorite “April” poems. It’s from Ted Hughes’ Birthday Letters, a collection of poems he wrote to Sylvia Plath after her death and published shortly before his own. It is one of my favorite poems.


‘Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote

The droghte of March hath perced to the roote . . .’

At the top of your voice, where you swayed on the top of a stile,

Your arms raised – somewhat for balance, somewhat

To hold the reins of the straining attention

Of your imagined audience – you declaimed Chaucer

To a field of cows. And the Spring sky had done it

With its flying laundry, and the new emerald

Of the thorns, the hawthorn, the blackthorn.

And one of those bumpers of champagne

You snatched unpredictably from pure spirit.

Your voice went over the fields towards Grantchester.

It must have sounded lost. But the cows

Watched, then approached: they appreciated Chaucer.

You went on and on. Here were reasons

To recite Chaucer. Then came the Wyf of Bath,

Your favourite character in all literature.

You were rapt. And the cows were enthralled.

They shoved and jostled shoulders, making a ring,

To gaze into your face, with occasional snorts

Of exclamation, renewed their astounded attention,

Ears angling to catch every inflection,

Keeping their awed six feet of reverence

Away from you. You just could not believe it.

And you could not stop. What would happen

If you were to stop? Would they attack you,

Scared by the shock of silence, or wanting more – ?

So you had to go on. You went on –

And twenty cows stayed with you hypnotized.

How did you stop? I can’t remember

You stopping. I imagine they reeled away –

Rolling eyes, as if driven from their fodder.

I imagine I shooed them away. But

Your sostenuto rendering of Chaucer

Was already perpetual. What followed

Found my attention too full

And had to go back into oblivion.

– Ted Hughes, Birthday Letters

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Tom Paxton and Groovitude

Ah ha!  I think I have figured out how I was holding the guitar wrong by looking at pictures of folk guitarists at work.  The bottom of it (as in if you stood it up on the floor with the tuning pegs at the top) needed to be more under my right armpit than it was.  I was still feeling as if I were breaking all the rules by not standing the thing up on my left leg.  And I can change from an A back to a D7 without looking if you’re forgiving.  I’m getting there.  Kaye came in from the kitchen and said, “Oh, it’s you.  I thought you were playing Tom Paxton.”  I think that was meant as a compliment from the ultimate tone-deaf fan (must be my groovitude, I’m thinking), but why Tom Paxton?  Why not, I don’t know, any female singer?  I mean, I mean, I mean . . . 

I have to acknowledge that I do not remotely sound like Tom Paxton.  

Monday, March 31, 2008

In theory, theory and practice are the same . . .

In practice, they aren't, as Yogi Berra noted.

Less than one week into the guitar lessons, and I am frustrated as hell. Oddly enough, the fretting doesn’t hurt my fingers like it did some twenty years ago when I was studying classical guitar with nylon strings rather than steel. Well, as I said before, I suck at this. What is maddening is that I have never sucked at a musical instrument. Practice wasn’t practice so much as playing. They gave me a recorder in the 4th grade, and I could play all the songs in the book by the next day. I was hooked from then on. In the 7th grade, I got to join the band, I think because Gran-Gran had played clarinet and sax by ear and surely considered music one of the most important things in life. Anyway, the next band day, I could play most of the book. The teacher gave me an extra book to play around with. I never got good at piano, mainly because we didn’t have one at home for the most part, but I could either play it by ear or practice the hell out of music. I guess I have a knack for sight-reading. But chords I do not really understand. I’m thinking maybe I should go back to the classical guitar along with the acoustic and read up on this music theory for the guitar in a book I bought recently.

Kaye, a good piano student who also plays the clarinet and recorder, assures me that music theory will make practice positively fascinating. Maybe, but I like to know why I’m doing something – what’s the core truth behind it all. Just like any other discipline, perhaps more obviously, a real study of music is making order out of chaos. I noticed that the three fields I studied (Math, Computer Science, Medieval English Lit) all try to do the same thing, which is to make order out of apparent chaos. I call that quest for meaning religion. Talking about religion gets me into all sorts of trouble, though, so don’t mention this comment to anybody.

My whole right side hurts, and the only excuse for it I can come up with is that I’ve been holding my body in an unfamiliar position and there are screws in my neck on that side, making it less flexible than it thinks it ought to be. I figure I can overcome it, but my teacher may be dismayed by my lack of progress.

My frustration is partly at my incompetence, to be sure, but, as I say, I don’t get it. It’s just “put your fingers here and strum. This is called a D chord.” One of everybody’s first questions is “Why?” I got frustrated as a teacher over this phenomenon. I wanted them to take whatever I told them on faith, given that you have to start somewhere, and they wanted me simply to pour my knowledge into their ears. Having been on both sides of the desk, or lectern, I realize that most of the onus (at least on college students and beyond, and, ideally, before) is on the student – the teacher can’t do much beyond provide direction and carrots and sticks.

I know I gave out a disproportionate number of sticks in my stint as a teacher. I’d do things differently now.

Well, I guess I’ll drag out the classical guitar, so I can feel some semblance of competence, and then be happier to practice chords.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Room to Make Big Mistakes

I think I can say with some confidence that I can now play “Frère Jacques” on the guitar, at least the embarrassingly easy version I have. Still, I’m not getting the buzz on the chord that I was originally getting. I’m still struggling to move from A7 to D (the reverse is pretty easy). If I can do that by Wednesday, I will consider the week a success. I believe there’s a G chord in one of the songs I haven’t looked at much yet. You have to start somewhere, and my problem was more knowing where than being willing to practice. The will to practice so far comes from an intense desire to play anything but what I’m playing. That, and the fact that my mother doubts I’ll be at this for more than a couple of months. That’ll do, for a start.

Borrowing from the Dixie Chicks, I now have a room to make big mistakes in.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Will to Suck at Something and Continue

After one 45-minute guitar lesson, something I’ve long suspected became clear:  I suck at guitar.  Oh, I was prepared for this.  I used to teach something I’m better at, and I constantly told my students not to worry about the early papers, which were weighted much less than the later papers because I expected them to do poorly on the first assignments.  Over and over I said, to get good at something, you have to be willing to suck at it for a while first.  And think about exactly what you’re doing wrong, and what, if anything, you’re doing right.  I guess deep down I didn’t want this to apply to me.

It started out positively sad.  My guitar was out of tune, without looking, I would turn the wrong peg to tune it, and I apparently couldn’t hear.  But I expect I’ll get better at that fairly soon.  What was worse was when my teacher asked me what chords I knew, knowing I’d taken classical guitar lessons about twenty years ago.  I just looked at her miserably and shrugged.  “I just know notes,” I said.  So I’m in the baby section now.

On the other hand, I got better than I thought I could at changing from D to A7 in the lesson itself.  My fingers are sore but proud.  I’m working on, let’s see, “Clementine,” “Down in the Valley,” “On Top of Old Smokey,” “Hush Little Baby,” “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” and let us not omit “Frère Jacques.”  Actually, those are much better than the stuff I had to play when I first started classical guitar but hadn’t actually worked my way up to actual (if simple) classical pieces.

I’m going to need to quit biting my fingernails, I guess, at least on my right hand.  I’ve quit stronger things, but if they’d had sonograms in 1966, you’d have seen me gumming my fingernails, I’m sure.  It’s a hard habit to stop.

Meanwhile, I think that in addition to actually playing (and singing – yikes) these songs, I’ll be sitting on my guitar stool with my eyes closed just changing chords without looking.  So far it’s just a strum with my right hand, so rhythm is all I have to worry about.  And this nearly imaginary guitar practice shouldn’t bother the neighbors.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Desecration of Peace

When we got up this morning, barely realizing that it was Easter, but for the mention from my mother and Yvonne, a very loud grease-removal truck pulled up at the manhole in front of our house.  Kaye went out to ask if there was an emergency, figuring a city that closes the liquor stores on the non-existent holiday of Easter Monday would not violate the peace of Easter morning for no good reason.  No, they said.  Apparently they de-grease the sewers every Sunday morning.  Then the kids next door were hunting for eggs in the back yard, arguing over which egg was whose.  I guess because I don’t have kids, it’s interesting to me how worked up they can get over what seems like nothing to me.  I mean, their arguments can escalate to the point that you’d have to have wrecked my car or something for me to get that upset, and I have a temper.  All is peaceful now, anyway.  My brother and I had the decency to yell at each other indoors (“Mom, Chris is looking at me!” or “She rode in the front seat last time!”), not that it would matter, since for most of our childhood (all but two years with the two of us), we lived out in the middle of nowhere. 

Would that every argument were so mild.  If all the people intent on blowing other people to smithereens could just agree to play in different sandboxes . . . but I guess which sandbox is whose is the source of much of the trouble.  There are enough sandboxes to go around.

The American concept that we know best and are the natural arbiters of other countries’ internal or international disputes is another embarrassing and disappointing issue altogether.  We have a very big sandbox and ought to appreciate that, and the fact that we don’t have suicide bombers going on here.  I am sad and angry about the events of September 11, 2001, but the destruction we’ve wrought is just that – it hasn’t rebuilt the twin towers or brought back the victims; it’s simply created more.

I just wish people could work out their violence during childhood, in harmless disputes.  If that were so, the screaming kids would be a blessing.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Music Room!

Yesterday was so busy. Between appointments and re-doing the house (to a point), I didn’t have time or energy to type much. We turned our guest room into a music room for me. I have four guitars, a banjo, a sax (Gran-Gran’s), a clarinet, a flute, a couple of recorders of different sizes and a keyboard. That takes care of the instruments, I think. The rest are electronic stuff and a guitar stool and music stand. And Kaye’s desk. She just uses it as a file cabinet, but moving it out of the room would be a lot more difficult than moving the bed out was. I hope having a “music room” will help me focus. There was hardly room in the bedroom to store all the stuff and practice (or open closets). I've got a framed picture of Joan Baez up and am planning a Dylan and Arlo picture so now I’ll have a place that says “practice!” the way my study says “work” and the bedroom says “sleep” (or read or paint, but there are only so many rooms in the house, and Kaye wants some of them, and we need one we can lock James in when the plumber comes or whatever).

I can’t find such a thing as a sax or clarinet mute. That’s disheartening, especially with the sax. I guess I will literally “stick a sock in it.” For now, I’ll just nap. I'm so tired . . . but grateful for the space!

I guess the bedroom can double as the recuperation room. :P

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Mysterious Itches

The itch from which I have suffered for months (or, but with interruptions, for years) has recently become unbearable and, for the last few nights, has almost completely kept me from sleeping.

Besides, nothing appears on the outside; immediately under the skin, it is like a poison that wants to come out; an injection of extract of bedbugs.  Can it get more intense?  It doesn’t seem so.  But it can enlarge, spread to the whole body . . .

I think of Job looking for a piece of glass with which to scratch himself, and of Flaubert, whose correspondence, in the last part of his life, speaks of similar itchings.  I tell myself that each of us has his sufferings, and that it would be most unwise to long to change them; but I believe that a real pain would take less of my attention and would after all be more bearable.  And, in the scale of sufferings, a real pain is something nobler, more august; the itch is a mean, unconfessable, ridiculous malady; one can pity someone who is suffering; someone who wants to scratch himself makes one laugh.      André Gide, March 19, 1931

This is weird.  Yesterday I wrote about Flaubert, and today I find out that he and Gide (to say nothing of Job) had the same inexplicable itching – literally, I take it – that I’ve been having lately.  I told Kaye we must have bedbugs or something, but she’s not itching.  Well, it’s not that bad.  And I’m happy to find myself in such company, I think.  I notice that Flaubert had epilepsy, if Wikipedia is trustworthy.  It may as well be, as it’s what people get their information from these days.  Gide seems to have been a married homosexual.  Job may not have existed.  I’m beginning to see what my problem is . . . I guess I'll take an antihistamine.

Is it too prurient that I looked up these guys to see what I'm going to die of?

Please Don't Make Me Go

The Atlantic has a great article out, “Caring for Your Introvert” that explains what it’s like to be shy to all the normal people who don’t know.  I don’t mean just shy.  I mean, have to work my way up to an event (which can be going to the grocery store) and recuperate the rest of the day.  I talk other people’s ears off when I get an attentive ear; I just don’t like conversations about nothing, aka small talk.  If I start talking about something real, it scares people, and if I don’t say anything, they are afraid of me (I’m pretty sure) and see me as the neighborhood Boo Radley (forgetting that he actually saves Scout in the end and was just shy).  I think Bob Dylan is shy, for instance, and probably not as much of a jerk as he’s come across as sometimes.  The guy probably just wants to be left alone.  At least I’m going to assume that’s the situation.

Diddums and driftington have already brought the subject of shyness up, but I’m going to add to it so that the three people who read my blog will see it even if they don’t check out their posts. 

My name is not Snark, and I am an introvert.

I have gotten myself into a nasty spot within my own family, just because I can't stand the idea of being with all of them at once.  It isn't any one person.  It's the zoo aspect of it.  I don't like to go to movies; I wait for the DVD to come out.  I love the Harry Potter series so much that for book 6, I think, I went to the bookstore at midnight to see if I could get the book earlier than 1:30 PM.  I had a real panic attack.  I had a similar reaction at Disney World (my mom took me one year) when they started the parade.  When I went into Home Depot, I almost lost it between the number of screwdrivers available, the vastness of the place, and the number of people who wanted to help me.  

So if there are any normal people out there, just don't assume that the loners are all potential terrorists.  Some of us are just shy.

Guitar Lessons . . . Wish Me Luck

I spoke with my new guitar teacher last night, and am set up for weekly lessons. I’m really enthusiastic about this, mainly because it is something I’ve always wanted to do but somehow never had the time, energy and money for all at once. Now, I don’t really have the money, but I think this qualifies as a need – certainly more than my Starbucks habit does. When I listen to music, it does something to me that apparently isn’t true for everyone – the song becomes an active part of my being. It seems like what I imagine as “being in the zone.” I wonder if that’s partially related to my temporal lobe epilepsy – does it serve as a metronome for my brain as well as give my mind something to focus on? It probably doesn’t matter. That it makes me feel at home in my head is very important.

But I know it’s going to be a long time before I can play anything well. I hope my passion fuels my discipline.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Genius and Perspective

You can’t read any genuine history – as that of Herodotus or the Venerable Bede – without perceiving that our interest depends not on the subject but on the man – on the manner in which he treats the subject and the importance he gives it. A feeble writer and without genius must have what he thinks a great theme, which we are already interested in through the accounts of others, but a genius – a Shakespeare, for instance – would make the history of his parish more interesting than another’s history of the world.” – Thoreau, March 18, 1861

Somewhat later, Oscar Wilde noted that "Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter."

Both Thoreau and Wilde seem to be supporting my earlier claim that observation is as important as creation. (If they aren't, well, what’re they going to do about it?) You can’t be creative without appreciating (in the sense of noticing) your corner of the world, whether it consists of you and a cat in two rooms or you on a concert tour. But you need time and space to appreciate things, and that would seem to make a more hermetic existence richer in detail than that of “normal people,” since you’d have to zoom in on your subject instead of seeing it from far away. The globetrotter would see things from a different vantage point than the near-hermit. The astronauts who gave us pictures of an earthrise gave us a sense of ourselves in a different way, and Michael Collins (the American astronaut, not the Irishman) had a then-unique perspective: when he was orbiting the moon while Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong were on the lunar surface, half the time he was on the dark side of the moon, making him further removed from the earth than anyone had ever been. Either way, though, we realize that there is another world – either a microcosm or a macrocosm – that should humble us from our egocentric universes. I’m not sure I’m capable of extracting myself from my self-centered universe, but at least reading others’ accounts of their world makes me aware of them. Perhaps genius requires observation. Or is it the other way around?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Flaubert on the Novel

"The story, the plot of a novel is of no interest to me. When I write a novel I aim at rendering a color, a shade. For instance, in my Carthaginian novel, I want to do something purple. The rest, the characters and the plot, is a mere detail. In Madame Bovary, all I wanted to do was to render a grey color, the moldy color of a wood-louse's existence. The story of the novel mattered so little to me that a few days before starting on it I still had in mind a very different Madame Bovary from the one I created: the setting and the overall tone were the same, but she was to have been a chaste and devout old maid. And then I realized that she would have been an impossible character." -- Flaubert, March 17, 1861

I've been trying to get this notion into various people's heads for a while now, and they just give me a blank look. They think a book is supposed to be about something. Not necessarily. And I know that whenever I create something, it inevitably takes on a life of its own. Sometimes it's a keeper; sometimes not. It's always a surprise.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Beware the Ides

Beware the Ides of March. Since it’s March 15th, I wanted to remind anyone who could possibly forget to be extra careful today. Whether you’re standing in line at Starbucks, blogging or working on an assembly line, you don’t want to get stabbed in the toga. It’s seriously dangerous. Well, once it was.

I am amused and annoyed that I have been pegged for a Jesus freak just for standing up for theists and agnostics and admitting that my cultural background was Christian, so that’s what I have in my mind. I keep getting all these “Dear friend in Christ” e-mails. Probably shouldn’t have put my e-mail on the page, but I like to live on the edge. Anyway, anybody out there who’s thinking of addressing me in such a manner, please know that you will be promptly marked as junk mail, and I will never hear from you again. I am not passing out Bibles, becoming a brickyard preacher (at NCSU, we had a lot of them, having a brickyard), financially supporting your Jesus project or anything else. It is not my mission in life.

Discussion is fine, though. Just don’t call me your “friend in Christ.” It gives me hives.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Studying the Guitar

I’m hoping to begin guitar lessons next month. It’s really prohibitively expensive, but (potentially) priceless. And I’d do it on a month-to-month basis, so if I don’t like it or start living on couscous, I can bail. It’s just these four nice guitars I have staring at me, and twenty years of music I’ve bought – and sometimes learned – with the idea that sooner or later, I’d have time for it. When I was programming, I didn’t have time for it. Sometimes I went in at 6:00 AM and left at 11:00 PM. Once, I even got called at home at 11:30 PM after working until 11:00. The message was waiting for me when I got home. Grad school and teaching didn’t leave me with loads of free time, either. Now I have loads of free time and am overwhelmed by all my choices. I don’t expect much sympathy here. But I think I need guidance to move from classical to folk guitar.

Of course, my mother said that I was just always starting new things and never finishing them. I beg to differ (yes, we’ve been down this road before) – who comes up with the finish lines? I can read English better because of having studied French, Spanish and Italian, however sporadically. The cognates help with the words I’ve never seen before (mostly these came up in a few of the “Play for Rice” questions). That’s not nothing. All learning is good, if sometimes painful. I may never be able to speak these languages – and that’s never been my goal: I want to be able to read them and maybe understand them. My mother knows nothing about living in the moment. Funny, I talk to a former teacher who’s now a friend, and she always encourages my ventures. There’s never any of this “What happened to your conversion to Judaism?” or whatever. I learned something going to Temple. I learned a lot trying to piece things together. I could whine on, but I just want to say in really big font:


Is this a mother thing, or did I just get lucky? If she had her way in this wicked world, I’d do one thing for my entire life. Rant over. For now.

Plagiarized Rice

I'm trying to copy Qalmlea's "Free Rice" dohickey because I think it's neat, and, as Pete Seeger's professor father said, "Plagiarism is basic to all culture." So, if you click on the button below, you can play a neat vocabulary game in which your score contributes rice to the hungry:

And while I'm at it:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I Know It's Somewhere in the House . . .

Thanks to, I have discovered that I have a newly-defined psychiatric disorder, and so does Kaye: hoarding. Apparently, it’s genetic, which makes sense, knowing Memaw and Kaye’s father. We haven’t approached their level of “but this might be useful someday,” but I’m loathe to throw things out (except when I go on a purge and inevitably wind up throwing away something I have to buy again later). Kaye is more likely just to bring home some “perfectly good” something that’s being thrown out. Well, it may not be “perfectly good,” but it’s certainly functional and a waste to throw it out. “Kaye!” I say. “We are two people! We don’t need seventeen office chairs!” Well, I guess we’ll both have to be medicated and counseled into the neatness of Mom and Chris. I don’t know whether anyone on her side of the family can keep house, having only been to her brother’s house once, in 1985, and our place was neat then. I am relieved that we have not been able to pass this gene on to any children. I do take solace in that.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Seven Deadly Sins Revisited

Thomas’ blog alerted me to the seven new deadly sins. In grad school, I was playing at being a Medievalist (and did my thesis on the afterlife), so the seven deadly sins have been in my head for a while now. Well, I can always get six of them. I have to sit around and wait for God to tell me the one I’m forgetting – it’s never the same one. (I used to have my students come up with the seven dwarves just to see why I needed a prop to remind me. My students seemed to think I should know these things.) Anyway, the seven deadly sins are:

  • Pride
  • Greed
  • Lust
  • Envy
  • Wrath
  • Sloth
  • Gluttony

Notice that the first five are all sins of the soul. It’s a sin to lust after someone but not to transfer that sin into action. This might lead to some “I’ve already done it in my head; why not do it in my bed?” thinking, but, presumably, if you manage to avoid lust, you won’t be committing any sexual misdeeds.

The new “deadly sins” (I’m choking a bit as I’m typing this – hard to take seriously) are:

  • Pollution
  • Genetic engineering
  • Obscene riches
  • Drug abuse
  • Abortion
  • Social injustice
  • Pedophilia

At least one of these is ridiculous: if you are committing pedophilia, you’re already committing lust of some sort, so that’s repetitious.

All are societal issues. Time was, religion was between man and God, not man and mankind. Oh, I know the “Do unto others . . .” and the ten commandments, but, really, if you get your head on straight (“do unto others”), you’ll be trying to do what you think is right (given that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, you’ll fail). It seems to me that my religious beliefs are between me and God, not me and the EPA. Presumably, I’ll do the right thing.

And I think genetic engineering is the right thing, if used properly. I also think abortion is regrettable but the best option in some situations. What constitutes “obscene” riches is anybody’s guess, but at least I don’t have to worry about that one.

Also, it occurs to me that Arlo is in for some seriously hard time in Purgatory, what with that Alice's Restaurant incident of being a litterbug. While littering is a bad thing, for God's sake, it's not a deadly sin!

Social injustice needs to be defined a bit more. Am I at the giving or receiving end? Probably both, but social injustice tends to be a societal problem, not an individual one, and we can't help being a part of an imperfect society. Does this new "deadly sin" suggest that we are all tainted? Then why point it out? It's just not an individual issue.

I remember something about the body being a temple of God, but drug use (by which I'm assuming the reporter meant drug abuse) can be caused by a variety of things, often started relatively innocently -- a prescription taken as directed? a joint given to you by an uncle when you're a teenager? And what constitutes drugs that can be mortally abused? Do alcohol and tobacco count? How about coffee? Why are some drugs okay and others not? Again, this is a societal issue.

The first seven deadly sins make sense, maybe because they aren’t so picayune and getting between me and God. Luckily, I’m not Catholic. I’m not anything but a hopeful agnostic of the Christian variety. But maybe the Church should stick to matters of faith and trust God to guide the individual conscience. I'm reminded of Jesus' saying that people should "[r]ender to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." (Mark 12:17, KJV) While I don't expect everyone to listen to Jesus, I would expect it of the Church!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Happy Birthday, Chris

On this date in 1970, I became a big sister to a baby boy named "Chris." I was a little put out that he wasn’t a sister, but I could tell Mommy liked him, so I suggested going back to the hospital the next week and getting a sister. Somehow, that never came through. Anyway, to start with, I thought he was interesting and he grew to think I was important. We’re both pretty much over that phase now, I think.

Happy Birthday, little brother.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Do unto others before they do unto you?

I’ve just finished reading Panzram: A Journal of Murder, by Thomas E. Gaddis and James O. Long. It’s about a serial killer, rapist (mostly of men and boys), arsonist, thief, batterer, and conspirator (albeit largely failed). I’m sure I’ve left something out. I’m interested in what makes people do such evil (and often just plain weird) things. This book bothered me from the start, though, and I almost stopped reading it. The thing was, I felt empathy for the serial killer, and that’s a scary thought. Usually I’m a mix of sadness and perverse amusement at what lengths people will go to to hurt people for no reason. People can be very creative in their meanness. But this guy was abused, neglected, raped, and in reform school (a century ago) by the time he was eleven, where the abuse and neglect were carried to new heights while the rape continued. So he became a rapist, a random serial killer who hated mankind (including himself) and felt no remorse for what he’d done. I guess my empathy would end there. I’d feel remorse. But I can understand his wanting to get revenge, I guess. I made a lot of promises to myself when I was little – not that I would go on a killing spree or anything, but just that I would remember what happened then when I grew up. I have a reputation in my family for one who holds a grudge. It’s true. I promised a little girl I would remember her.

I forced myself to finish the book despite my discomfort. What I am coming out of this book with is the message that “[d]o unto others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31, KJV) is not so much a rule that Christians (and humane people in general) should live by but one that anyone with common sense should live by out of self-preservation if not humanity. I don’t know what a modern psychiatrist or FBI criminologist would make of Carl Panzram, but I suspect that if he’d been treated better earlier in his crime spree (which began with public drunkenness at the age of eight), he wouldn’t have been the monster he became. So whether you want Jesus to love you, to be a humane individual, or just look out for number one, you ought to be kind to people. Not a new idea, but I’m glad I finished the book.

When he finally gets hanged (not a spoiler, as it’s in the introduction), he says something to his hangman that I think is a wonderful, if nasty, expression of the individual: “Hurry it up, you Hoosier bastard! I could hang a dozen men while you’re fooling around!” You have to admire his spunk, if not his actions.

I’m not so worried about my occasional empathy with the guy anymore. He had a far rougher childhood than mine. He just never forgot what people had done to him. I must stress that I don’t approve of or empathize with his actions, just to get that straight. I simply have a sadness not just for Panzram’s victims but for himself.

Friday, March 7, 2008

I Swear I Am Writing My Own Obituary

Every day, the first thing Kaye does after getting dressed is run outside to get the newspaper so that she can read the obituaries. I am bemused at this. Mostly she doesn’t find anyone she knows, although that happens. I hate it when it turns out to be a 59-year-old student of hers (that happened recently). It just reminds me how old she’s getting. True, I’m aging at roughly the same rate as she is, but she has a head start on me. But today, she found a horribly hilarious obit. Some poor guy died and was survived by his “nearly devoted wife of 66 years.” I’m thinking they’d been married for almost 66 years. Maybe she wasn’t dearly devoted, but she surely was devoted to something to hang in there that long. I swear, I am writing my own obituary, sending it around to all my writing friends for proofreading and any suggestions. I will be selective about the suggestions part and avoid mentioning this to my relatives.

In case of a misprint in the newspaper, I suppose I should have fliers out for Kaye to distribute. She will be extremely devoted, bereft . . . and busy handing out fliers. Maybe she could put them under windshield wipers.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I Wonder as I Wander

I talked with my mother this afternoon. I talk with my mother on a more-or-less daily basis. She is willing to take my calls once a day. It sounds worse than it is, I guess. I mean, if I had to listen to me go on about nothing every day, I’d never answer the phone if it could possibly be me. Today, I was going on about the guitar and methods to try to use to learn it. She said, basically, that I start a bunch of things but never finish them. To a certain extent, this is true. To a certain extent, it may be a neurological quirk. Whatever the case, though, it is a characteristic my mother believes I should work to get out of. And, I might add, it is characteristic that she believes it. She is very goal-oriented.

“Say something in Italian,” she says, mocking the fact that I have worked at Italian (to read Dante), Spanish (because it’s everywhere) and French (because I am of French descent, actually have college and graduate credits proclaiming that I should know something, live with a French teacher and am close friends with a French woman). I also went through a short-lived Hebrew phase when I was considering converting to Judaism. That venture is a story in itself. “Ciao,” I said. What’s it to her, I ask, if I shift gears now and then? I’m not a great multitasker. I tend to take to one thing for almost my entire waking hours and really immerse myself in it. I am trying to make myself do at least a bit of this or that unless I have a really good reason not to, but I’m not expecting to win a Nobel or anything at this point. The thing is, my mother hasn’t done anything like play the guitar or learn a foreign language. She went from high school to marriage and business school to motherhood to bookkeeper/secretarial work to college to teaching high school to retirement and remarriage. I’m not saying she didn’t accomplish anything; I’m saying she’s lived a normal life, worked very hard, and kept two kids and a husband under control. Well, I never burned anything down or got arrested, anyway. No one’s had much luck keeping me under control, which is what this is about, I guess.

The fact that I earned a BS, BA and MA mean nothing because I am not using them to make money (because I am disabled). She hasn’t said that, but I think that’s what she thinks. My brother and sister-in-law have said as much. While I did expect to be working after graduation (and I did work – for five years as a programmer and seven as a college freshman composition teacher), I went to college primarily because I like to learn. I had hoped to keep learning and helping others learn.

What I devote my time to now is learning. What I try to do is observe and learn the mechanics of things I appreciate so that I can create something. To me, the observation is at least as important as creation. Anything tangential that comes from it is purely that: tangential. To that end, I’ve played at the Personality Forge building chat-bots and becoming obsessed with how other bots work, am studying and gradually putting into play Internet languages and trying to learn usable programming languages, since what I know won’t get me anywhere in Windows, and I did enjoy programming. I was actually good at it once. I’m working on and off with paints, charcoal, pencil, digital camera and camcorders, guitar (leaving banjo, sax, flute, clarinet, piano and recorders on the back burner due to the passage of time), doing close readings of various literary works as well as reading for knowledge and perspective. (I consider pretty much all reading fun.) I play at chess. I watch movies on DVD, and, once every twenty years or so, I go to a concert.

The thing is, I’ve felt pretty bad about the whole “you can’t do everything” situation since about the time I turned forty. Click here if you want to see a typical self-centered English major take on the situation. Suddenly I realized that time is passing and I’m all over the map. I am working on and culling a lifetime to-do list. But I think my mom, who is a responsible, decent human being – don’t get me wrong (she might read this) – needs to have an itinerary for everything, whereas I start off somewhere and explore. For instance, I might start off with the Arlo concert to reading a book about Woody to learning more about Huntington’s disease. Then I might volunteer some time for an organization about Huntington’s disease. I never know what I’ll be up to from day to day.

But what is life for? I wonder as I wander . . .

Friday, February 29, 2008

My New Guitar

I’ve been reading Ed Cray’s Ramblin’ Man: The Life and Times of Woody Guthrie the past couple of days. Somewhere in the house is another Woody biography that I read a few years back when I “discovered” Arlo. Having neurological problems that cause psychiatric problems and problems with fine motor skills, I’m drawn to his plight. His time and place on this earth didn’t help any. It’s a good read. I may finally read The Grapes of Wrath, which I was supposed to read in high school. Instead, I got my mom, who was then the bookkeeper at my high school (mortifying, but it had its perks) to get me the Cliff’s Notes, and I copied them in the teachers’ lounge for everyone in my class. Fortunately, we were a special GT class, so I only needed seven copies.

Yesterday, I was seized by an insane desire – no, desperation – to buy a twelve-string guitar, having seen Arlo, read about Woody, playing around on my other guitars (classical, acoustic, electric and now twelve-string). I will be paying for this whim for the next four months or so. Ah, well. There are worse things to throw money at. And I’m working on building up calluses. So far all I’ve got are near-blisters. The problem is that the only lessons I had were in classical guitar, but that’s not what I want to play. I want to play folk music. So what I know now is how to read music and play it on the guitar. Unfortunately, most folk music is written in tablature or chords, which I have yet to learn. I understand the concept; it’s just that I can’t understand why tablature was necessary when we already had a perfectly good musical notation system in place. So I guess I’ll be keeping myself motivated. Oh, I’m left-handed, too.

I’ll be off of the Guthries and onto something else soon enough, in case you’re sick of it. I get hell-bent on something and then get distracted by something else. Wonder why I haven’t achieved what I’d hoped to in life?

New Clues for my Movies

Apparently I was too obscure. That, and nobody much reads my blog. So I've added a few more clues that I hope will be helpful. When these things start to rot, I'll just fill in the blanks.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Fun with BabelFish

Since I live with a French teacher, many of my acquaintances know as many as five languages and can puzzle out others, so I feel a little out of the loop when they start speaking French. It's particularly disturbing when my name is the only word I can understand. What are they saying about me? I must learn French, Spanish and Italian (to read Dante, mainly) before I die. Anyway, I decided to take a leaf from Mark Twain's book and translate the "Alice's Restaurant" chorus into several different languages and back into English via BabelFish. I found the results amusing:


You can get anything you want at Alice’s restaurant. You can get anything you want at Alice’s restaurant. Walk right in, it’s around the back, just a half a mile from the railroad track, and you can get anything you want at Alice’s restaurant.

English to Spanish:

Usted puede conseguir cualquier cosa que usted desea en el restaurante de Alicia. Usted puede conseguir cualquier cosa que usted desea en el restaurante de Alicia. La derecha de la caminata adentro, está alrededor del trasero, apenas una mitad de la milla de la pista del ferrocarril, y usted puede conseguir cualquier cosa que usted desea en el restaurante de Alicia.

Spanish to French:

Vous pouvez obtenir toute chose que vous souhaitez dans le restaurant d'Alicia. Vous pouvez obtenir toute chose que vous souhaitez dans le restaurant d'Alicia. La droite de la randonnée à l'intérieur, est autour de ce qui est arrière, dès qu'une moitié du mille de la piste de du chemin de fer, et vous pouvez obtenir toute chose que vous souhaitez dans le restaurant d'Alicia.

French to Greek:

Μπορείτε να αποκτήσετε όλο πράγμα που επιθυμείτε μέσα στο εστιατόριο alicia. Μπορείτε να αποκτήσετε όλο πράγμα που επιθυμείτε μέσα στο εστιατόριο alicia. Η δεξιά της εξόρμησης εσωτερικό, είναι γύρω από το οποίο είναι πίσω, μόλις ένα μισό χιλίων της διαδρομής ενός δρόμου του σιδερώματος, και μπορείτε να αποκτήσετε όλο πράγμα που επιθυμείτε μέσα στο εστιατόριο alicia.

Greek to English:

Can acquire all thing that you in wish in the restaurant Alicia. Can acquire all thing that you in wish in the restaurant Alicia. Right the campaign interior, he is round which he is behind, hardly one of half thousand way of street of ironing, and can acquire all thing that you in wish in the restaurant Alicia.

Loses something, n'est çe pas?

The Movie Game

Okay, here are the answers. I gave an obscure list because I am drawn to the obscure. The more obscure it is, the more it belongs to me, I guess.

I got this game from Qalmlea and decided to join in. Briefly, the idea is this:

1. Pick fifteen of your favorite movies.
2. Go to and find a quote from each movie.
3. Post them here for everyone to guess.
4. Fill in the film once it's guessed.
5. NO GOOGLING/using IMDb search functions. Totally cheating, you dirty cheaters.

I decided to add some hints, since these might be obscure to normal people. Among the remaining 13 movies, actors include

So here are my quotations:

Hints: Both Hepburns are featured (in the movies, if not the quotations). Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, Judi Dench, Jennifer Ehle, Ian Holm, Anthony Hopkins, Peter O’Toole, Vanessa Redgrave and Tom Wilkinson are featured more than once.

1. I don't know. I only know goodness... and anger... and revenge and evil and desire. These seem to me far better words then 'neurosis' and 'psychology' and 'paranoia'. These old words, these good old words have a sort of... conviction... which all this modern apparatus of language now lacks. We bury these words, these simple feelings. We bury them deep. And all the building over that constitutes this century will not wish these feelings away.

This movie came out in the '80s: Wetherby, starring Vanessa Redgrave

2. A: I am sick of fighting! And, I am sick to death of this whole center of the universe, holier than thou, nothing is ever enough. Oh, how I've suffered, nobody understands me. Somebody fix me a drink and hand me a Nembutol, worn out Scarlett O'Hara . . . thing!
B: Well, she's got her pegged, all right.

This movie
came out in the 2000s: Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, starring Maggie Smith, Ellen Burstyn, Sandra Bullock, Ashley Judd and James Garner

3. When she was born, that's when things went wrong for us.

This movie came out in the 2000s
: Whale Rider, starring no one I've heard of.

4. I do believe in anything, provided it is incredible. That's why I intend to die a Catholic, though I never could live as one.

This movie came out in the '90s
: Wilde, starring Vanessa Redgrave, Stephen Fry, Jude Law, Jennifer Ehle, Gemma Jones, Judy Parfitt and Tom Wilkinson.

5. To be born, or at any rate bred in a handbag, whether it have handles or not, seems to me to display a contempt for the ordinary decencies of family life which reminds one of the worst excesses of the French revolution, and I presume you know what that unfortunate movement led to?

This movie came out in the 2000s: The Importance of Being Earnest, starring Colin Firth, Rupert Everett, Judi Dench and Tom Wilkinson.

6. I already know an awful lot of people and until one of them dies I couldn't possibly meet anyone else.

This movie came out in the '60s
: Charade, starring Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant and Walter Matthau.

7. You know you don't have to act with me, Steve. You don't have to say anything, and you don't have to do anything. Not a thing. Oh, maybe just whistle. You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.
I thought this one might be too obvious, so I left out the name. Qalmlea recognized it from being quoted in other movies. It is from To Have and Have Not, still with Bogie and Bacall.

8. Expanded quotation:
: Speaking of horses, I like to play them myself. But I like to see them workout a little first, see if they're front runners or comefrom behind, find out what their whole card is, what makes them run.
B: Find out mine?
A: I think so.
B: Go ahead.
A: I'd say you don't like to be rated. You like to get out in front, open up a little lead, take a little breather in the backstretch, and then come home free.
B: You don't like to be rated yourself.
A: I haven't met anyone yet that can do it. Any suggestions?
B: Well, I can't tell till I've seen you over a distance of ground. You've got a touch of class, but I don't know how, how far you can go.
A: A lot depends on who's in the saddle.

This movie came out in the '40s
: The Big Sleep, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

9. A: I marvel at you after all these years. Still like a democratic drawbridge: going down for everybody.
B: At my age, there's not much traffic anymore.

This movie came out in the '60s: The Lion in Winter, starring Katharine Hepburn, Peter O'Toole, Anthony Hopkins and Timothy Dalton.
10. A: How do you know you're God?
B: Simple. When I pray to Him, I find I am talking to myself.

This movie came out in the '70s: The Ruling Class, starring Peter O'Toole.
11. That's not why I pray, Harry. I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God, it changes me.

This movie came out in the '90s
: Shadowlands, starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger.

12. To be Prince of Wales is not a position - it is a predicament.

This movie came out in the '90s
: The Madness of King George, starring Nigel Hawthorne, Helen Mirren, Ian Holm and Rupert Everett.

13. A: I can't make out whether you're a bloody madman or just half-witted.
B: I have the same problem, sir.
Correctly identified by John as being from Lawrence of Arabia!

14. A: I hope you appreciate the sacrifice I'm making.
B: You have no choice.
A: I know . . . that's why I'm making it.

This movie came out in the '60s: The Sound of Music, starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.

15. People don't always say what they're thinking . . . they just see to it that you don't advance in life.

This movie came out in the 2000s: Hannibal, starring Anthony Hopkins and Julianne Moore.

Good luck!