11. “Have you ever wondered about the stupidity of the term ‘o’clock’? Americans have happily incorporated into our everyday speech a term that makes us sound like leprechauns.” Gene Weingarten, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer for The Washington Post, from The Hypochondriac’s Guide to Life. And Death.
12. Voice-mail prompt: “After the tone please leave your I.Q. or your blood pressure, whichever is higher.” Lewis Frumkes, author of How To Raise Your I.Q. by Eating Gifted Children.
13. On health foods: “To strengthen their argument [about eating unprocessed foods] they tell you that peasant boys in Cuba, those kids out in the fields, eat raw sugar cane and they have perfect teeth. What they don’t tell you is that they develop rickets. ‘Look at me, Ma! No cavities! But I can’t walk too straight.’…After you eat all this, you can wash it down with tiger’s milk. So help me…
George Carlin (HBO photo by Paul Schiraldi on New York Times site. Click to get to source page.)
1-3. “Regardless of what other people say, my tendency to overreact and lose all perspective makes me a theatrically interesting person”; “Because I unfairly demand too much of myself, today I will allow myself to act in distinctly untrustworthy and irresponsible ways”; “I take pride in the fact that my personal power comes from my innate sense of insecurity.”
–Ann Thornhill and Sarah Wells, from Today I Will Nourish My Inner Martyr: Affirmations for Cynics
4. “Some people see things that are and ask, Why? Some people dream of things that never were and ask, Why not? Some people have to go to work and don’t have time for all that.” –George Carlin
5. Sideshow Bob has the following exchange with his brother: “You wanted…
Over at The Baffler, Steve Almond writes that those of us who think The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are comedic genius are just not smart enough to understand that they’re not that funny. According to Almond, the fact that so many of us revere Stewart and Colbert is
not evidence of a world gone mad so much as an audience gone to lard morally, ignorant of the comic impulse’s more radical virtues. Over the past decade, political humor has proliferated not as a daring form of social commentary, but a reliable profit source. Our high-tech jesters serve as smirking adjuncts to the dysfunctional institutions of modern media and politics, from which all their routines derive. Their net effect is almost entirely therapeutic: they congratulate viewers for their fine habits of thought and feeling while remaining careful never to question the corrupt precepts of the status quo too…
Let me clarify that: my husband’s book–Poetry, An Introduction (fifth edition), published by Bedford/St. Martins–appears briefly but decidedly in the scene where Spider-Man first shows up at her bedroom window. As the good high school student Stone plays, she has a couple of books displayed prominently on the bedspread and TA-DA! Michael’s is one of them.
I was delighted by the prospect of seeing this shot the moment a friend from marketing told us about it; I dragged us both to an early show. I believe we were the only adults there unaccompanied by a teen-aged boy, but that was fine: I was on a mission.
We were going to see the book.
The other time we’d seen Michael’s book proudly displayed on camera was on a television screen, where Michael’s biggest edition of the book–the full-fledged Bedford Introduction to Literature, coming in at around 2,000 pages–was right there…
1. “I have never allowed my schooling to interfere with my education.” Mark Twain
2. “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” Mark Twain
3. “I base most of my fashion taste on what doesn’t itch.” Gilda Radner
4. . “Why are they called illegal immigrants? They’re undocumented workers. If someone broke into my house and vacuumed my rug, I might be puzzled. But mad?” Wanda Sykes
5. “Laughter rises out of tragedy, when you need it the most, and rewards you for your courage.” Erma Bombeck
6. “’Deep’ is a word like ‘theory’ or ‘semantic’ — it implies all sorts of marvelous things. It’s one thing to be able to say ‘I’ve got theory’ quite another to say ‘I’ve got a semantic theory,’ but, ah, those who can claim ‘I’ve got a deep semantic theory,’ they are truly blessed.” Randy Davis
Grown men with teddy bears? A new movie with Mark Wahlberg? The 1981 Granada series with Anthony Andrews and Jeremy Irons? A heartbreaking poem about a teddy bear– mentioning Adler, Jung and Freud in its final stanza?
Okay, so my first thought, when faced with grown men and furry toys, is of the terribly well-groomed Aloysuis belonging to Sebastian Flyte in Evelyn Waugh’s “Brideshead Revisited.”
Then I think immediately of Archie, a.k.a. Archibald Ormsby-Gore, the strict Baptist teddy bear belonging to John Betjeman, upon whom Aloysuis was based.
Only after these furry figures do I think of adorable Mark Wahlberg and the trailers I’m seeing everywhere about the new movie, Ted, in which Wahlberg stars with a stuffed bear of his own.
I love Wahlberg (and Matt Damon, with whom I will sometimes confuse him, even in print) and I am a big Family Guy and…
Today the Supreme Court has ruled that I can lie about military honors and that I must have health care. A seemingly contradictory set of rulings, perhaps, since one seems to venerate individual freedom and speech protections to the point of absurdity and the other is an attempt to actually impose the common good on individual desires.
The Supreme Court
overturned a federal law that made it a crime to lie about having earned a military decoration, saying that the law was an unconstitutional infringement on free speech.
The ruling was in response to the 2006 Stolen Valor Act, passed after someone stood up at a public meeting and claimed to have been a wounded marine who had been awarded the Medal of Honor. This is good news for those of us who like to win any argument by saying “but I served in Iraq.” I know that’s what I usually do when departmental meetings are not going my way….
I picture this boy taking my hand
and then pulling me towards him, of his hands in my hair,
of his mouth hot against mine.
I think of nights when I was seventeen in the long backseats of cars
with one-night-stand boys, never going below the waist dictated by morality and a need not to have to bother: who needed to be that busy on those July evenings?
I remember hands on my breasts and kisses that went on for hours and the deep hunger for tongues and sweat and breaths that
were as shallow and as far-reaching
as a stone skipped across a pond.
Pride, say the sin scholars, led to our being expelled from Eden; Eve was flattered and ate.
Adam didn’t want to bother making his own meal and since there was no fast food in Paradise, he ate, too. It was downhill from there, leading to depravity, mortality, and Popeye’s-to-go.
Pride made Lucifer into the bad guy. Declaring in Milton’s version that he’d rather rule in hell than serve in heaven, Lucifer went from being merely head chef in paradise to owning the first barbecue franchise. As much as history has sycophantically worshiped at the altar of success, it also delights in the downfall of the great, the boastful, and the powerful.
Act a little too cocky, a little too arrogant and the dogs of ruin begin yapping at your heels, led by someone just slightly less cocky and arrogant than you. Act a little too sanctimonious, and not only will the mob eventually rise up against…
Today I am angry about everything. I started off the day by getting mad at myself. I forgot to put gas in the car yesterday, which meant that I need to go to the service station, which meant I’d be late for my first meeting.
I’m mad at the foolish woman I was yesterday who didn’t plan for the efficient and considerate woman that I woke up as today. I’d like to go back and yell at me. (When this wish to tell myself off in different voices becomes too frequent, I’m going to book into the Sybil School of Behavioral and Chemical Therapy).
I’m mad at my husband. I come home after getting a $50 haircut that, I was assured, makes me look glamorous, thin, sophisticated and adorable. My husband greets me not with adoration, but with the less than glamorous and…
I owe a great deal to envy. The first piece I ever sent out for publication I wrote only because a girl I went to college with had two poems printed in a small literary journal that I happened to come across in a tiny bookstore on St. Mark’s Place in Manhattan’s East Village.
There I was, flipping through these thin pages after cranking out another paper for graduate school, and there was her name in print. It tripped some internal alarm signal, her name in print, and all my sirens were immediately set off. I had to do better. For God’s sake, I had to do at least as well.
Buying the magazine, I took it home hidden under my jacket as if it were some controlled substance, and I smuggled it up to my typewriter where I read the guidelines for submission as though they …
My students are prudes as well as innocents. Science has convinced them, against their better judgement, that they haven’t actually invented sex. But they continue to believe they are the only people to have ever experienced lust.
Isn’t that just adorable?
Every generation thinks it invents lust, but that’s as cute and as false as every generation’s thinking its elders sat around carving wheels out of stone as the earth’s crust cooled.
As long as people have been creating music, telling stories, or making pictures, lust has been a primary player. Operas are about lust at least as much as they’re about love (consider Carmen); literature is shot through with lust (Chaucer’s Wife of Bath is certainly a handful, and that’s just for starters); the greatest art…
I’m terrified of sloth. More than any other of the cozier and more familiar sins, I regard sloth as my natural enemy and the embodiment of my biggest fear.
I’m not kidding now. I’d take a festive feast with gluttony, a steamy night with lust, a stuffed purse from greed, a shouting match with anger, a bragging contest with pride, and a beauty contest with envy without worrying about my immortal soul. Maybe I’m overconfident (do I feel a breeze created by heads nodding in unison?), but I still have a feeling that we’ll all be waiting in a really long line at the Pearly Gates only to hear the shouts of celebration when somebody yells from the front of the queue, “Hey! Good news! Sex doesn’t count!”
But what will count, I think, are sins of omission, and I’m afraid these will count big time.
We’ll have to account not so much for all the sins we’ve committed because we’re weak or…
I’m afraid to fly. I do it all the time, but it’s one of the hardest things I do. The only reason I get onto planes is because it’s just bad karma for me to get up in front of hundreds of students every year and tell them to face their fears and see their worries as challenges and then say “But as for me, I’m taking the bus.”
So I fly with my friend, Dr. Smirnoff, and I go where I need to be. But I have never exactly “relaxed” when approaching an airport.
Trains, however, usually relax me. Often when planning my trip to N.Y.C. from Hartford on Amtrak, I permit myself the luxury of indulgence. I bring my headphones, an actual fun book, and a sandwich from home to eat during the three-hour journey. I can take a nap, lose myself in a novel, and not worry about turbulence up ahead.
True, if it some terrible weather happens–such as drizzle–the trains could be delayed for hours….
The only thing worse than not having money is wanting it.
At least that seems to be the case in certain circles. What we all needed, evidently, were greedy ancestors who could die and leave us without the taint of desire.
You’ll be called greedy if you work and save obsessively to buy a big house and fill it with antiques, but if you’ve inherited that big house and the antiques are simply identified as Grampy’s set of first editions or Mumsy’s matched Degas, then it’s OK, and you’re not greedy.
If you long for the stuff, having been denied it at an early age, however, then you’re lost to avarice. You’re petty bourge, baby. Those better bred than you will tsk-tsk.
We spend a lot of time judging what other people “need.”
Christian is my computer Godfather: he’s in total control of the whole system–the computer at home, the laptop, the computers at work, and my husband’s computer as well. If you met Christian, you’d understand why we trust him with our technology (and therefore a big part of our writing lives): His quick intelligence is as obvious as it is reassuring.
This is a mensch; this is young man who can fix and do everything. He has a big-time full-time job, goes to law school at night, and works this electronic and computer enterprise as a side business.
But if you saw him right now, on this beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon as he sits in front of the Mac on my desk when he and his lovely wife Jennifer–they are both former students–wish he would just come home already, you would…
I’m writing to you not as a member of Brainstorm, but as a one of the many poltroonish souls seduced into clicking onto the piece titled “What Professors Make.” We are legion; even though we might not have the guts to go find out what our individual colleagues are actually pulling in, despite the fact that at public institutions–such as UConn, where I teach–the information is readily available.
Anyways, everyone knows what professors make. Professors make trouble!
But seriously folks . . .
I knew all too well what I was in for: I knew I would be reading an article that would make me want to compare myself to all the Professor Joneses of this world to see whether I was keeping up.
These are not happy times for the embattled drug maker AstraZeneca. The patent for Seroquel has expired; the company’s profits have plummeted; and its CEO, David Brennan, has just been escorted to the exit door. It seems like a good time to look back at sunnier days, when Seroquel, the ex-blockbuster antipsychotic, was a hot new drug for bipolar disorder.
As it happens, I recently got an email from “David Bronstein,” the medical ghostwriter who appears in my book, White Coat, Black Hat. Bronstein (a pseudonym) is a developmental biologist who provided some of the book’s best stories, especially his brutally hilarious accounts of his work for a “medical communications” company in the United Kingdom. He was writing to tell me about a branded AstraZeneca t-shirt he had acquired at a conference many years ago. It was designed to promote Seroquel. “Get yourself…
Come on guys, really? The most recent defense trotted out by men of authority who have sex with women other than their wives is the “I didn’t know she was a prostitute” excuse. It is a clever explanation, because character seems to no longer matter. Clearly these days, sex with anybody or thing is OK so long as it’s “consensual.” Forget about good judgment or character.
Remember Former IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s run in with a New York City maid? Despite DNA evidence implicating Strauss-Kahn in a sexual encounter of some sort with the alleged victim, prosecutors dropped sexual assault charges against him after concluding that the hotel housekeeper had questionable character. What about his character?
Strauss-Kahn is back in the news though, charged with aggravated “pimping.” Prosecutors claim that he’s one of the masterminds behind high end…