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Archive for November 2012

An Ernest Audience

I’d watch this crazy show!

I think that one of the most pressing questions that goes through my mind as a regular rider of public transit is this: How long can you look at a subway performer before you have to give him or her some money? What if they aren’t performing? What if they are flat out asking for money?

I’ve noticed that most people can’t help themselves but to look when the initial bass beat rings out or an individual bellows, “Excuse me ladies and gentlemen!” But if that glance is followed up with an immediate return to an open “New York Post,” no one expects anyone to hand over money. It’s the rest of us, the ones who become mesmerized, hangover or not, by the shrieking, jumping, gyrating or swinging taking obvious place within three feet of our eyeballs that no “People Magazine” article will be able to mask no matter how hard we try to ignore it.

There is no one gyrating in front of my face, swinging around a subway pole and doing high kicks next to my head. I am just casually reading my book about teenagers in a dystopian future. La di da…

But my concern extends beyond the New York City subway. I often wonder if someone out there knows what I’m watching, both on TV and on the Internet. And if they do, do they count the things that I am accidentally watching? As well as the things I accidentally mean to watch? Like, does Nielson count the number of people who flip past The Best Red Neck Wedding on their way to Nova or do they only count it if the flipper actually lands there for a period of time long enough to watch the bride get peed on by the donkey pulling the trailer? Which harkens the question: How long a period of time makes you a watcher of The Best Red Neck Wedding and not merely a curious glance-r over at it?

Standing ovation for these excellent dancers.

Yesterday I went to see Twilight 4b in the theater. I didn’t go alone and I didn’t draw bite marks on my neck or swoon every time Edward whispered Bella’s name. Instead I watched it “ironically,” making sure to laugh in that way that let’s everyone know I am watching, not necessarily embracing what is happening on the screen. It’s that knowing nasal laugh that makes me neither team Edward or Jacob, but team Laughing at Edward and Jacob. But I wasn’t really laughing at anything. I was earnestly watching that movie, commenting on the strength of Michael Sheen’s performance as the villain Aro, and how when juxtaposed against the porn-esque “acting” of the rest of the cast, it almost proved distracting – Like a glob of chocolate covered peanut butter in the middle of a bowl of salt-free chicken stock.

I liked the movie just like I liked the terrible books that preceded it. That’s the kind of audience member I am. I am committed and tend to watch from beginning to end with gusto. At almost every theater performance I attend, I give a standing ovation, whether or not it’s earned, because I figure, someone spent some time trying to entertain me in person. Somehow that feels as important as anything. And if- or okay, when – I watch you perform on the subway, it’s likely I’ll dig around for a dollar bill for your hat.

 


Putting the “Lit” in Modern Lit

Anna is deciding betwixt all those eggs while standing among them.

I haven’t blogged in a while (I still can’t really deal with the word “blog.” It’s a Muppet word. It isn’t real…But that’s another blog). I had this intention to do it (you know, blog) every week. But for the last few months I haven’t really been sure about what I want to say. I continually touch upon my health “struggles” with my family gene as I prepare to sell a book pitch about it. But somehow the whole thing keeps feeling increasingly personal and complicated – even anger-provoking. And I’m not an angry blogger. (I fancy myself more Janice or Fozzy than Animal or Piggy when it comes to the emotional blogging department.)

But I woke up today and I was ready. It was time to blog. You might be thinking, “Here it comes. Is it going to be about the biggest storm to make landfall in American history? Or maybe about this endless election? Could she be about to wax poetical about all the amazing new releases in theaters now like Wreck it Ralph?”

No. I had a dream last night – A grammar dream.

Why this is particularly weird (besides the, um, obvious) is because, while I am a “writer,” I am not necessarily a grammarian. (Is that even a thing?) I like that there is grammar in the world, but I am not so deliberate a girl as to spend a lot of time considering whether or not I am using it properly. Like most folks, I just talk. Same with writing. It’s part of the reason that I can’t believe people pay me for this crap. Because it isn’t something I work particularly hard at doing well. (The Stoned Family Robinson, not withstanding…)

I’d like to think it’s generational. It’s a “kids today” phenomenon. Look at the brilliant poets of the past who deeply, agonizingly considered every word they placed! Look at the amazing writers of yore who crafted brilliant narrative and developed fantastic characters!

I’m not saying no one does that anymore. But…Let’s face it. The difference between modern lit and literature, is – frankly – the word “lit.” Which is why I was so taken aback when I woke up this morning, the remnants of my dreamy sleep fading slowly, as I thought, “The word `between’ can only be used when talking about two things…”

That was my thought. The dream lesson continued: “And `betwixt’ is for more than two things…”

Then, awakening even more, I was like, “Seriously? I will not use the word betwixt. Ever. I will however eat a Twix.”

I don’t remember ever learning this grammatical rule (I do, however, remember Twixes…) In fact, when I looked it up, it was not even a correct rule. There are some people who say it is, but they mostly live in really cold climates and have trouble with their hair. They are the same ones who claim that “among” is for more than two. But the truth is, “between” has been used since old English as a preposition that divides two or more items or regions. In other words, a discussion can take place between four as easily as it can between two. Betwixt, meanwhile, is just a funny word that you are only allowed to use while dressed like an elf.

But what’s weird is the dream itself. Why the hell did I wake up to “between” and “betwixt” like I’d suddenly been possessed by the demon spawn of Mark Twain and DH Lawrence? The dream actually took place on a hike at a resort where I was wearing really nice make up and hanging out with my cool friends Caroline, Erica and Sari dressed adorably and trying to figure out which bridge to cross to meet up with the rest of the hiking group. Discussion actually took place about whether or not any of our footwear was appropriate and maybe we should just sit on the beach…The grammar stuff – all I know is that it had something to do with walking through trees alone. Betwixt, or between them?

My grandfather and my real dad.

I looked at a picture of my grandfather before bed one night recently, asking him to help me make a very big decision about my health and life. Remarkably he actually showed up in a dream! But instead of engaging in a heartfelt conversation about surgeries, procedures and genetics, I started explaining to him, a lifelong Goldwater Republican, why Romney was a bad choice (landing hard on the dog-strapped-to-the-roof example). When I woke up he and I hadn’t really addressed the central concern. How did his “visit” help me with my near life-or-death dilema? Stupid dream.

Dreams are funny. They aren’t always trying to tell you something. Sometimes they are just words that flash through your head and make you ask yourself if you want a peanut butter or caramel version of the candy bar. But after I woke up from my dream about my grandfather (which oddly featured my father as Barak Obama toward the end – or me as Malia – not sure) I heard my grandfather’s voice: It won’t matter either way, he said. You will be okay no matter what you decide.

And I knew he was right.

Now I’m going to go vote. Then, you can be sure, I’m going to get a Twix and if I can’t decide betwixt them – peanut butter or caramel – I’m going to get both.