Words, recently

We haven't checked in on my list of favorite words lately, which is a shame. Everyone should keep a favorite list of something. What else do people love in the world, if not random words? Flowers, I suppose. Birds. Somebody has to love the birds. You may love superheroes or hoagies, I don't care. It doesn't matter—just love something stupid and frivolous with your whole great heart. 1980s soap operas! It can be something that means something to you and you alone, or something you only share with a blog. Just fave your life away.

p.s. I got a new phone last winter / surprise surprise / and had to re-download the Merriam-Webster app, which wiped the slate clean vis-à-vis my old list of favorite words. Life careth not, nor I: there are always new words to like. Thus is the magic of renewable resources! Somebody tell Scott Pruitt.

Also props to the adjectives, clearly. Every writing lesson I've ever sat through/read/thought about has been crystal fucking clear on the directive to KILL THE ADJECTIVES ("they encourage lazy writing," eschew surplusage, etc.) but alas. Adjectives (and exclams! & parentheses!) are the lifeblood in my vampire veins. I love them the way an artist loves paint, or clay, or light. Why would you cast away a tool, when sometimes it’s the only tool you need?

In order of "Newest," as of this a.m.:

redolent. adjective :: exuding fragrance; aromatic

sacrosanct. adjective :: most sacred or holy; inviolable

replete. adjective :: fully or abundantly provided or filled; complete [NOTE: I watched Four Weddings and a Funeral last weekend, and John Hannah describes Simon Callow as "replete" in his eulogy. M-D says the word also means "fat and stout," but I like to believe he means "complete" when he uses it. There is no better description for that character, who has relatively little screentime but is rich and fully drawn.]

fungible. adjective :: being something (such as money or a commodity) of such a nature that one part or quantity may be replaced by another equal part or quantity in paying a debt or settling an account [NOTE: this feels like a needlessly complicated definition]

axiomatic. adjective :: taken for granted; self-evident

redoubtable. adjective :: formidable; worthy of respect

shipwright. noun :: a carpenter skilled in ship construction and repair

stygian. adjective :: of or relating to the river Styx; extremely dark, gloomy, or forbidding

protean. adjective :: displaying great diversity or variety

catholic. adjective :: comprehensive, universal; broad in sympathies, tastes or interests [NOTE: see Sondheim, Stephen]

spiv. noun :: a man who lives by his wits without regular employment; slacker

riffraff. noun :: disreputable persons; rabble

flinty. adjective :: stern, unyielding [NOTE: see Something's Gotta Give]

revenant. noun :: one that returns after death or a long absence [NOTE: ick, like "The Monkey's Paw"]

elide. transitive verb :: to suppress or alter something by elision; to strike out; to leave out of consideration

rum: ??? [NOTE: I have zero memory of looking up this word]

 

Summer starts now

Andy+Garcia+outside+Book+Club+Premiere+oZqEDGJuByul.jpg

First: quasi-nautical dressing is my favorite kind of dressing, if you can carry it off. Please know who you are, or we all will pay the price.

Second: I don't care if Book Club is terrible. Mamma Mia! (mandatory exclam) is deeply terrible, yet I love it in any form and will be at the head of the line for Mamma Mia 2, 4evermore!! And here's Hunter Harris at NY Mag with a timely query: "Are you ready for the summer of Andy Garcia?":

Here are things I would like to do with Andy Garcia–as-Mitchell, in no particular order: Read a trashy YA romance on a lawn chair next to his pool (that’s not an innuendo for something — I don’t have access to a pool in New York, so that would be really cool and fun). Drink white wine on his pool’s inflatable swan. Speed walk through his (no doubt cavernous home’s) hallways, holding a Nokia 511, and flipping through leather folder full of “important papers,” like Andy Garcia-as–Terry Benedict did in the Ocean’s movies. This is not an exhaustive list.

Jesus christ, yes.

Most things in life are terrible. Most people are terrible, which you will know if you've ever met any, or stood in line behind them at a pharmacy on a Saturday afternoon. Which is why it's incumbent upon us, I feel, to gather ye rosebuds & Andy Garcias while we may. As Tim Carmody puts it in today's NOTICING newsletter, "The whole country is broken. Fun is harder to find all over. Yet somehow, we do what we can."

Harris again:

Andy Garcia gets at what’s best about Book Club, a movie about having fun and getting laid: He was hot back in the ’80s and then in the ’90s and then again in the 2000s, but he’s even hotter now in a more casual, “Yes, I actually can’t wait to turn 60 and drink wine with you” way.

Every movie should be about having fun and getting laid and drinking wine with 60-year-olds, as far as I'm concerned. Or dogs solving crimes. That's it. We need no other movies.

10 things for today

1. Sometimes when you start blogging you don't want to stop. I don't, that is. I'm guessing this has to do with the vast amount of time I spend alone these days, talking to myself.

2. At the end of every work day (4:30 pm CST) I walk down the stairs and tell myself "Take a nap, man," and then I do. It’s fucking glorious.

3. The worst song in the history of the world is "Sympathy for the Devil" by the Rolling Stones. Every time I hear it I want to rip my ears right off my head and FedEx them to Mick Jagger. Probably he'd think it was a compliment, though. Probably he'd think it was some crazy come-on. The last thing in the world I need is Mick Jagger showing up on my doorstep carrying my ears in a box. "Are these yours, mate?" Although how would I even know what he was saying. The second worst song is anything by that band that plays the flute. You know the one I mean.

4. One odd thing about my enormous apartment complex is that the buildings all have the same apartment numbers; only the building number is different. This means that frequently the Amazon person will leave a package for me outside the building next door, where I'll stumble across it three days later than expected, after calling the other Amazon people to ask repeatedly where is my package. Let's hope any shady characters I've crossed in the past who still have axes to grind make this same mistake.

5. In junior high and high school band, I played the flute. I was okay and all—1st chair!—but it's a deeply unpleasant instrument for anything other than carrying in a parade or easily stuffing into a backpack. I chose it because the pipes sat in front, orchestra-wise. My own particular patented brand of passive-aggressive narcissism runs bone deep.

6. The best instrument would be the violin or the cello or the oboe, imho, or anything that is the star of an Air Supply song. So what would that be? Piano? Fog horn? Balloons? Fax if you know the answer.

7. I've decided from this day forward I'm only going to read romance fiction. Everything else is garbage. (I kid, obviously, except for the part where I'm dedicating the remainder of my life to reading romance fiction.)

8. If someone wants to pay me to do nothing but describe the plots of old soap operas in blog form, I would be the happiest person alive. 

9. This post

10. These pictures

11. This twete

12. Nick Miller, Nick Miller. My secret pet theory is that Jake Johnson is the greatest actor who ever lived, based solely on the weird, specific, note-perfect character choices he made for the portrayal of this sweet, mad fool. One day I shall make my case to the public and we will all rejoice.

13. This new movie Book Club, I suspect, was made especially for me. Please, god, don't let Diane Keaton crap it up. Amen, Proust, Voltaire!

On voluntary aloneness

From Linda Holmes at NPR, "The luxury of solitude":

We have a certain cultural mistrust of solitude, I think. It is for weirdos and lost souls, spinsters and misfits. But in truth, I can't tell you what a luxury I think it is to be entitled to it. Most of the time, I want good company, like most people do. But the experience of earned, voluntary aloneness is, among other things, instructive. I don't think you can really understand how accustomed you are to being scheduled and operating off an internal to-do list at almost all times until you think to yourself, "My goal will be to get to Providence by 4," and then you think, "Why is there a goal?"

+ see also: "Everything you make is an engine," flagged in Laura Olin's weekly newsletter, which you should subscribe to

Ship it

I got scolded the other day, at the post office, by a postal worker. I used a free Priority Mail envelope to ship a postage-paid package when what I was supposed to do was buy a damn box. "I'll let it go this time," she told me, the weight of the world clearly on her shoulders. As if my single $1.59 oversight were the cause of all their billions of dollars and decades worth of difficulties.

I apologized and offered to buy a box anyway, just to make things square, but she brushed me off and I bolted without waiting for the tracking slip, fully expecting the return of my regrettable Eileen Fisher purchase would fail to reach its destination—would, in fact, somehow live to haunt me through the rest of my days—but there was an email from Eileen herself waiting in my inbox by the time I got home, letting me know it was already being processed. Thanks America! Vive la poste!

The reason I recount this riveting anecdote is that I've been watching old General Hospital clips of Alan and Monica Quartermaine on YouTube lately, because the world is too much with us, and I realized for the first time what a profound impact those characters had on my mental and emotional development as a tween (early '80s, natch).

I've talked about the soaps and my love of epic soap love stories and general soap idiocy before, but it hit me that this pair in particular really made an impression, relative to my long obsession with terrible marriages and people who love each other in spite of the fact that they also deeply loathe each other and should never even occupy the same room. On some very literal level I fear their constant bickering and cheating and splitting up and making up actually may have made me think that's what a marriage was supposed to be, and that anything less dramatic wouldn't even be worth it. Which is a huge bummer and probably something I should investigate in detail one day soon, after I finish all the napping.

But they were also very sexy together, and very together together: rich and smart and snarky and beautiful, and resolutely grown up. They were doctors who lived in the mansion he bought her for their wedding (?), along with the rest of his insanely wealthy and constantly meddling extended family (??). Alan was possessive and wildly jealous and once tried to kill Monica and her dumb lover Rick Webber by dropping the roof of the mansion on them (only to injure his own hand in the process, thereby destroying his career as a surgeon), and later in life he faked amnesia and once got addicted to pain pills before tragically dying of a heart attack during a hostage situation. Monica had a fling with Alan's nephew at a spa and survived breast cancer and menopause and multiple hostage situations, and she was confident and conniving and would never, ever have felt bad about using the wrong envelope at the post office.

Anyway, that's it. As I pulled out of the post office parking lot I said to myself, "Monica Quartermaine would never apologize for this!" I offered to buy the stupid box! The end.

Branson, MO

From my friends at the New York Times, "How to Maintain Sibling Relationships":

The quality of sibling relationships is one of the most important predictors of mental health in old age, according to The American Journal of Psychiatry. Research shows that people who are emotionally close to their siblings have higher life satisfaction and lower rates of depression later in life. In times of stress or trauma, siblings can provide essential emotional and monetary support.

I read that aloud to my brothers while we sat on the porch drinking beer, and then I asked for some money.

+ READ ’EM & WEEP

"The importance of you"

Nobody has the friends you have. Very few people live on your particular street or go to your particular coffee shop or bike along the same path as you. Nobody has your dog, your backyard, your weird toys or odd books. As it turns out, the most enduring form of originality is happening at the extremely local level. And this truth is changing the landscape of originality in photography. So, while drone images, travel photography, urban photography and celebrity portraits all feel cliché at this point, the individuality of one’s own private world of thoughts, values and passions are as fresh as ever.

Put this in your pipe & smoke it

This isn't a podcast blog or anything, but my (real yet imaginary) friends at Pop Culture Happy Hour paid tribute to Carl Kasell at the end of last week's episode, and somewhere in the course of things, Stephen Thompson said this:

Steve Inskeep on twitter had a great comment where he looked at Carl's Wikipedia page and it was broken down into two categories: "early career" and "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me." And he was marveling at how "early career" summarized everything leading up to his spot on this game show. And first of all, you know, this is a towering career, and second of all, that our lives aren't automatically over because we've reached a certain age. We talk about this all the time, this idea that we peak in our teens or our twenties or our thirties or whatever. We can peak whenever life sorts itself out that way.

This isn't a self-help blog, either, it's just nice to remind yourself of certain things sometimes.

+ see also: be a kind person. People notice, and remember.

How it's going so far

Well I don't know what to tell you. Has it been perfect? Of course not. Only an idiot would expect things to be perfect. Am I an idiot? Sometimes!

There were ants in the bathroom and kitchen. I tolerated them for a week, seeking some sort of detente, I suppose, or a rapprochement, and when that (naturally) failed, I googled "ant problems" and found this blog post and bought some ant baits and I set out those baits and I watched them come running—I had a hard time with this, I admit; not the brutal mass murder aspect (yo, they do not pay rent) but the rampaging swarming frenzied lust these ants had for these baits was a little gross to watch—and after a day or so their numbers dwindled and then disappeared. The baits are still there, a security blanket of sodium tetraborate decahydrate (Borax) (5.40%) and other ingredients (94.60%) [1], remnants of a battle fought and won, and I'm not sure what happens next. No problem is that easy to solve. Their brethren lie dormant, I can feel it, waiting for me to cave, or get bored, or stop paying attention. Which will never ever happen, if only out of spite.

I've seen friends, and family, I have plans and activities and tickets and a large apartment filled with new furniture. Too large! This much is clear. I was seduced by the empty promise of space and thus over-corrected. But game night is on the calendar: I have missed those nights, these people, this particular noise. It's quiet here, that's one of the things I wanted most and one of the things that's hardest to get used to. Funny, yes? And soooo sadly predictable. I sleep at night with a noise machine mimicking the sound of the three fans I couldn't wait to get away from. This is the joke: this is life.

It's been an expensive endeavor, I'm not gonna lie. I'm tired of planning things, of making lists, of recycling boxes, of trying to fill the rooms and being only halfway there. I want an apartment that feels like a home but it isn't yet, so it doesn't. I want to skip forward six months, but that's no more likely than skipping back. I moved 800 miles, why can't I move time??!?

So. It's been three weeks. Here I am.