Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Memes are the champions, my friends.

I have been tagged by blogging goddess Jen of Jennsylvania (who, despite her protests to the contrary, has the greatest hair in Chicagoland.)

My reaction? Cool.

Basically, I'm a sucker for any meme that comes along. Even if I haven't been tagged. In fact, I don't wait to be tagged; I steal other people's memes all the time. It's all about adding my own unique spin to well-known material. As Alexander Pope puts it "what oft was said, but ne'er so well express'd." Or maybe it's that I never got over my urge to look at what the other kids were writing. As my second grad teacher put it "Eyes on your own papers, please."

But Jen's meme, in particular, is new and different, because it was meant to be circulated among screenwriters. Which I am not. (Unless you count the screen of my laptop.)

But does that stop me? No, I bravely forge ahead.

What is your earliest film-related memory?

I'm going to fudge here and talk about two movies.

The first is the first movie I can remember seeing at home. I was about three, and the film was The Wizard of Oz which was enjoying its annual broadcast on network TV. We were watching it on a massive black and white set--the one ensconced in one-half of a huge mahogany cabinet, where the other side held the "record player." The one that played 45s, 33s, and 78s. The television (we only had one, of course--this was the stone age) was in the "sitting room." And the sitting room had leaded glass casement windows opening into it from the stairs to the second floor. They served no purpose whatsoever, except to provide us with an exciting first glimpse of our stockings as we went downstairs on Christmas morning. The rest of the time, the windows just sat there. That evening, though, I found that while I couldn't bear being that close to That Giant Scary Head ("I ... am ... Oz ... the great and terrible ...") the windows made a handy perch for watching--yet not really watching--that scene. I'm sure I also found refuge on the stairs during the flying monkeys sequence.

The second memory was the first movie I saw in a theater--The Music Man. It was shot in widescreen, exhibited on a huge screen, in a brand-new theater that had thick, plush, rocking seats. Robert Preston was amazing. The whole thing was over-the-top--huge cast, colorful costumes, 76 trombones. And to this day, I can't drive through Gary, Indiana without bursting--annoyingly and loudly--into song.

In short, The Music Man turned me into a male homosexual.

Name two favorite lines from movies.

1. "I ... am ... Oz ... the great and terrible." Wait a minute, I already used that. OK, "I didn't [fill in the blank] for you to make a widow of me." Stolen from The Thin Man and used on That Stud Muffin I Married whenever he decides to do dangerous things like climb up on the roof of our house to remove the old television antenna.

2. "So I got that going for me. Which is nice." Stolen from Caddyshack and used whenever I'm talking about something that is just OK, but not great, like buying a box of ice cream treats and finding that (whoopee!) I'm getting thirteen for the price of twelve.

Name three jobs you'd do if you could not work in "The Biz."

Well, since I don't work in the biz, I could say "housewife," "breeder," and "sex worker" and stop there. But let's get creative, shall we? After all, I'm sitting here in front of a laptop typing ... ergo, I'm a screenwriter. I just don't get paid.

1. Since I am absolutely fascinated with movie sets, and have been known to watch movies over and over just to see the interiors (Auntie Mame, of course, but Otto Preminger's Laura also comes to mind, as well as films like Housesitter, The Thin Man Goes Home, and Bringing Up Baby) I think I'd be great as an interior designer, with the caveat that as with the movies, nobody could actually be intending to live in or actually use the space I designed. So I could be the person who puts together rooms for catalogs, and it wouldn't matter if the plumbing wasn't actually hooked up and the toilets didn't actually flush. And maybe, if I can ever learn the difference between Duncan Phyfe and Duncan Hynes, I could put together those historic rooms you find in art museums. Because they don't even have toilets. Hah!

2. There are also movies I could watch just for the clothes--The Women, Auntie Mame, and What a Way to Go! are just a sampling--and since I wouldn't want to waste my time dealing with real women with fit problems or taste different from mine, or on clothes anyone would actually wear, I'd like to be in charge of dressing the mannequins in a department store window. Just imagine a bunch of women who can't talk and have perfect figures. It would be even better than playing Barbies.

3. I would like to write a couple of science fiction books, spin off into self-help, and invent a religion that I could use to attract the dollars of dozens of vapid, thisclosetocertifiablyinsane movie stars.

Name four jobs you have actually held outside the Industry.

1. Teaching assistant at the University of Chicago for an undergraduate course on Milton. (Yo, screenwriters! I could totally pitch Paradise Lost, man. I see John Malkovich as Lucifer.)

1. Systems administrator on a bunch of networked UNIX machines. This explains why html frighteneth me not.

3. Secretary.

4. Claims examiner. I examined dental claims. Yes, I used to spend a large portion of my day looking at dental x-rays. Is it any wonder I'm a housewife?

Name three book authors you like.

1. P. G. Wodehouse. I get the plots of his books hopelessly confused, and have been known to pick up one of his books and read half of the first page before I realize that I've already read it. But he is a masterful stylist--about the best I can think of.

2. E. F. Benson. Specifically the "Lucia" books. Another incredible stylist.

3. Notice how they're all comedies? Let's try something darker. Donna Leone's mysteries are top-notch.

Name two movies you'd like to remake or properties you'd like to adapt.

1. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea--or any Verne. The technology is finally in place to do justice to them.

2. The Birth of a Nation--but this time, we make it clear that duh, the Ku Klux Klan were the bad guys.

Name one screenwriter you think is underrated.

Whit Stillman. Sure, his movies are talky and pretty much lacking in action. But that's how life is. At least for UHBs.

And now, the envelope, please. The winners for the "Most Tagged" are:


Susie Sunshine



and of course,




  1. Oh my God the Lucia books! I haven't thought of those in years... I read them all in one gulp about eight years ago - must check the library here and get them again.

  2. I love Whit Stillman! (Well, I loved Metropolitan...I watched it three times the weekend it showed up at my college campus and I now own a copy, since you can't rent it from anywhere...)

  3. Thanks for participating! A LOT of Wodehouse fans out here answering this meme. :-) And Oz may be the most memorable movie as well.


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xxx, Poppy.