Wednesday, June 22, 2005

TRUE DAT: A SUMMER HOLIDAY. I'm watching this AFI "100 Years of Movie Quotes" thing. It's pretty cute, in the usual AFI see-how-fun-we-are-bite-me-Henry-Langlois way, and fifty seconds of White Heat is better than no White Heat at all. But though a few of the stories and a very few of the commentators are interesting (who knew Chris Sarandon was so well-spoken?), it's faintly disgusting to see so many great movies ground down into sound bites, however potent. And of course Top Tennitis is a disease of our age that may not be as harmful as increasingly bold governmental lying, but is all the more distressing to sensitive temperments such as mine for its very puerility, because we imagine that when future generations (if there are any) look back at us, they will be appalled by our great crimes, but they will be contemptuous of our peccadilloes, and it is the contempt that stings. Atrocity, statistic, etc; the oceans of blood spilled in the Terror of the French Revolution are literally awesome, and supercede our capacity for revulsion, but the Carmagnole and the Marriage Federal finger the pit of the stomach.

My natural reaction, of course, is to replicate this nightmare on my own arty-farty terms. Yes, I'm throwing a meme, boys and girls. Head for the hills! Or descend with me into the warm, soothing muck.

The theme is quotes. We all have favorites, but I'm going to pitch this high and inside. I would like to know what your truest quotes are. Let me explain. Some quotes you like because they're poetic or amusing or charming. They sound good to you. Some, though, stick with you because they really reflect your beliefs, and have done so through whatever life experiences you've had.

The true-quotes become obvious when you think about them in that light. You realize that these little scraps of mental paper have become your watchwords, the identifying labels on your ego. To name them is not always a pleasing thing, I have found, because those labels usually floated onto your ego long ago and only stuck because you never cared to brush them off. They have the persistence of habits, and most habits are bad. So they sting to note. But that sting is what makes this such an elevating enterprise! Let me open:

'Tis a terrible thing to be lonesome, but it's far worse to go mixing with the fools of the earth.
-- J. M. Synge, The Playboy of the Western World

A writer is someone for whom writing is harder than it is for other people.
-- Thomas Mann

For even honest folk may act like sinners
Unless they've had their customary dinners

-- Bertolt Brecht, The Threepenny Opera (as translated by Marc Blitzstein)

-- Charles Bukowski, story title

And if you're lonesome, ah-ha... Listen to a friend's Judy Garland album at Carnegie Hall... Big nelly-queen audience, lotta tsuris, lotta dues... her dues, their dues, tell us about the dues... 'Don't worry, we'll sing 'em all and we're gonna stay here all night...' Then came the line that really did me in... "'Cause I never want to go home!" Whew, and they don't wanna go home either... because nobody wants to go back to their room alone... "Ma, gimme a glass of water, 'cause I don't want the water, all I want is the water with your hand attached to glass with your arm attached to the hand and stay there... and don't sneak out, 'cause when you wake up I wanna see you there, and if you stay there I'll drink as much water as you want me to drink." Later.
-- Lenny Bruce, Live at the Curran

Now get you to my lady's chamber, and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this end she must come. Make her laugh at that.
-- William Shakespeare, Hamlet

You know talent is an aphrodisiac
They don't stock it on the shelves
Some people say opposites attract
And some people just love themselves

-- Loudon Wainwright III, "Aphrodisiac"

We are living in the future
I'll tell you how I know
I read it in the paper
Fifteen years ago
We're all riding rocket ships
And talking with our minds
We're wearing turquoise jewelry
And standing in soup lines

-- John Prine, "Living In The Future"

If I'd asked people what they wanted, they would have asked for a better horse.
-- Henry Ford (almost certainly apocryphal)

It's no longer a world of men, Machine.
-- David Mamet, Glengarry Glen Ross

I play it the company way
Executive policy is by me O.K.
(How can you get anywhere?) Junior, have no fear,
Whoever the company fires, I will still be here

-- Frank Loesser, "The Company Way" (from How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying)

Man hands misery to man
It deepens like a coastal shelf
Get out as early as you can
And don't have any kids yourself.

-- Philip Larkin, "This Be The Verse"

I don’t wanna have to shout it out
I don’t want my hair to fall out
I don’t wanna be filled with doubt
I don’t wanna be a good boy scout
I don’t wanna have to learn to count
I don’t wanna have the biggest amount
I don’t wanna grow up

-- Tom Waits and K. Brennan, "I Don't Want to Grow Up"

You can't take life too seriously. Otherwise it doesn't pay to live.
-- Joey Ramone, New York Times interview, 1978

The whole world's a circus if you know how to look at it.
-- Charles Beaumont and Ben Hecht, The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao
Excuse me now while I throw myself upon the couch to re-read Reader's Block.

(PS: No invites. All are welcome, in comments or in their own blogs.)

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