I got tagged for a meme on the arts by John from Myopia, so here it is.
Name a book that you want to share so much that you keep giving copies away.
This is tough. I don't give a lot of books away, not because I'm stingy but because they keep coming back. Like that copy of The Jameses, a biography I picked up on a remainder table in 1991, when remaindered books were all I could afford. I never read it, since I really wasn't that interested in the Jameses in the first place. I'm pretty sure I gave it away several times to charity book sales but I saw it just the other day in a pile of books I've been meaning to give away.
I've given away a lot of fiction paperbacks over the years, to friends, who've promptly forgotten them almost as soon as I did. So that probably doesn't count either.
But there is one book I gave away recently, that hasn't come back. You can have it too: The Bird Flu Book.
Name a piece of music that changed the way you listen to music.
This one's easy. Anything from the 90s alternative music scene. I had been turned off by the musical wasteland of the eighties, clinging to Bowie and Queen and the odd spark here and there (i.e., Fine Young Cannibals). Then I tuned in one day to WMAD in Madison, a new alternative-rock format station (that's since turned into a country-western station). I listened non-stop, loving the new-to-me music. I'd spent the last few years raising toddlers and listening to this band named Disney. But suddenly my lost twenty-something years re-appeared. I didn't "lose my religion" so much as find another. I went to Depeche Mode concerts dressed in the angstiest garment I owned (a black wool blazer), showed off my kid's Michael Stipe imitation (it was spot on), and turned up Pearl Jam so loud our cocker spaniel went deaf. I remember Dramarama's Work For Food seemed especially insightful at the time. Blind Melon made me laugh; Pearl Jam's Black made me mellow, back when I drank too much coffee. Live's Mental Jewelry made me think.
Music turned visual in the nineties with MTV and VH1, something that appealed to me, made me connect with the artists in a way I hadn't before. I liked the way Scott Weiland crooned, the way Kurt Cobain screamed, the way Eddie Vedder shook his long hair. And I liked that Michael Stipe wrote lyrics that were meaningless—a deliberate response to the sappy emotive lyrics of Manilow and his descendants, the boy bands.
Now I dig Snow Patrol and the Killers instead of REO Speedwagon and The Little Mermaid, but I'm no longer as into music as I was in the nineties—Desert Island Discs is my most musical moment of the week. Though I'm probably the only forty-something I know who can remember exactly what she was doing when she learned Kurt died.
Name a film you can watch again and again.
I've already said there are only a few films I'd watch more than once. Life is Beautiful, About a Boy, Boys on the Side, Fight Club (though I don't talk about Fight Club!) and Lady and Tramp are the few I can think of. I also watched The Way of the Gun twice and highly recommend it, because violence in films is so underrated.
Of those films, the only one I've actually watched "again and again" is Life is Beautiful. ("Buon giorno, Principessa!") Sometimes I watch it in English, sometimes in Italian. It was on Sky Movies just the other night, and I realized the British subtitles are slightly different from the American. (There's a queue instead of a line to get on the train.)
Name a performer for whom you suspend all disbelief.
Martin Sheen. I had to suspend a lot of disbelief to believe that a man that short could be elected president.
Name a work of art you would like to live with.
Anything at the Tate Britain. Or maybe Stubb's Whistlejacket.
Name a work of fiction that penetrated your real life.
This is confusing. What is meant by "penetrated"? How real is my real life? And what is fiction except a playful reenactment of real life anyway?
There was Little Women, which my mother took away from me because I moped around so much after Beth died. There was also Edie on the Warpath, about a twelve-year old suffragette, which turned me into a pre-teen rebel. But now I read fiction with half an eye toward its structure, and it no longer has the power to penetrate.
Name a punch line and/or a sight gag that always makes you laugh.
I already did that once this week. The scene in About a Boy where Hugh Grant sings Killing Me Softly. He kills me. Softly.
I'm tagging everyone for this meme. Go ahead.