1. More Dogs in Slo-mo. Really, isn’t everything better in slo-mo?
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0x_XZQwABP0?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

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

“The Dude abides.” ~The Big Lebowski

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

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

This would be a very close second:

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

What is your favorite line from a film?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She’s edgy and honest and free. I wish I could meet her for a drink, but then I’d worry I was not nearly cool enough.  (P.S. For all you Bostonians out there, how much do you love her accent?)
[ted id=1682]

Have a great weekend, everyone! 

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