Will's Coffee House

John Dryden, Dramatist, Critic, Poet Laureate, and my ancestor, frequented a coffee house called Will's almost daily, where he would hold forth on sundry subjects with great wit and aplomb. Same deal here, only without the wit or aplomb.

Location: Large Midwestern City, Midwestern State, United States

I am a stranger in a sane land...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Another Meme

Memes are the junk food, the Cliff's Notes, the unsavory short-cuts of blogs. They're so damn easy, but they make you feel a little weak, a little fraudulent. Yet once you start down this dark path, forever will it consume you...Or something like that.

2 moments in your life you'd like to erase:

1. Having sex with a young woman who was sweet and giving and kind and a good friend and for whom I felt virtually nothing. I was everything that was vile about men in that moment. Never again.

2. I'd rather not go into too much detail about this one. Let's just say it has to do with the beginning of the series of events that led to my divorce. Out of fairness to all parties involved, I shan't give my own, biased perspective when others can't rebut said perspective. 'Nuff said.

4 moments you'd like to relive:

1. Arriving home from a staggeringly awful night at work and discovering a young woman with whom I was deliriously, fabulously in love meeting me at the door wearing lingerie and a *serious* come-hither look on her face. I've never felt more loved and wanted in my life.

2. Listening to the roars of applause and cheers as the curtain rang down on a performance of a play I'd written.

3. The first time I taught a class *well*--when I began to feel myself taken over by my enthusiasm for the material, and to feel that enthusiasm catching on and to feel the absolute (and yes, benevolent) master of a group of adoring young minds. Quite the egotistical rush.

4. Getting seriously stoned and wandering with a group of similarly stoned friends through a college town and winding up in a movie theater watching a Terry Gilliam movie. Whoa...

2 places you wouldn't go to/go to again:

1. Stratford-on-Avon. On a recent trip to England, I finally, as a Renaissance scholar, made the hajj and went. It's a remarkably unremarkable place--nothing special about it at all. Which, of course, was the point--the birthplace of genius looks just like every other place--this bolt of lightning appeared out of a house and a family and a town just like any other--that's what's wonderful about the man. But the tourism and the banality of the place were also depressing. There's no there there, and I don't need to see it again.

2. A ski-slope. Seriously, not going again. Do I enjoy skiing? Mildly, but not nearly enough to endure the hassle of equipment, travel, lines, and the possibility of severe injury. Screw it--I'll stay in the lodge by the fire with a book and brandy-laced tea, thanks.

4 places you can't wait to visit/visit again:

1. Rome.

2. Venice.

3. Florence.

4. Genoa. (See if you can tell what all these places have in common.)

2 foods you can't stand:

1. Artichokes. Though I'm trying to cure myself of this habit. Hasn't happened yet. But I soldier on.

2. Collard greens. People keep telling me that I just haven't had them cooked properly, but I keep going to places where I'm assured they are cooked properly, and I've yet to take a bite of them I didn't immediately want to spit out.

4 foods you love:

1. Prime rib. Heaven.

2. Thin-crust pizza. Heaven for people who weren't quite good enough to get into Prime rib Heaven.

3. Dim Sum. No explanation necessary for those who've had it done right.

4. Anything with hollandaise sauce. Seriously, birthday cake would taste better with hollandaise sauce on it.

2 songs that make you change the station:

1. Only two? Sigh. There are so many fabulously f***ing awful songs out there--anything whiny, in particular, will get me to stab the panel with a snarl of "Oh, shut the f*** up!" But all right--let's go for one that will cause your stomach to cramp just by my mentioning it: Ms. Dion's My Heart Will Go On. Yeah, I know--go lie down, you'll feel better.

2. Anything by Creed. Anything. They could cover Dark Side of the Moon and turn it into unbearable s***.

4 songs you play over and over:

1. Big Time by Peter Gabriel. If Richard III has a theme song, it would be this, and I love thinking of him as I listen to it.

2. Don McLean's American Pie. OK, it's interminable, and the metaphor is heavy-handed, but dammit, it's catchy, and I'm proud of the fact that, yes, I know all the lyrics by heart.

3. Speaking of Pink Floyd: Just about anything from The Wall, but Comfortably Numb resonates with me in a way that probably isn't healthy. But there it is.

4. Anything by the Beatles. Except Paperback Writer. And Number Nine. And anything sung by Ringo. Oh, hell with it, let's just say Penny Lane.

2 books you'd never finish/read again:

1. To The Lighthouse. No...more...Woolf...please. OK, lock me in a room with Mrs. Dalloway, and I won't go mad--it's a pretty good book--but God, this one almost killed me. Hated it on page one, and that was the most enjoyable part of it.

2. Finnegan's Wake. As a man who's read Clarissa, War and Peace, The Brothers Karamazov, Trollope's Barsetshire Chronicles series and Palliser novels, scads of Hemingway, Twain, Faulker, Hardy, and the complete novels of Dickens, Eliot, Austen, Fielding, Smollett, the Brontes, and Harper Lee (five bonus points if you spot the joke there), I feel I've established my bona fides as a reader without having to slog through a meandering morass of stream-of-consciousness crap. I did Dubliners. I did Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. I did Ulysses. I'm DONE.

4 books you've read more than once and/or will read again:

1. This will overlap with my previous meme, but I'll try to throw in something new. Tom Jones. (I'm in the process of rereading now, so that's an easy one.)

2. Absalom, Absalom. If you want to understand why race relations in America were, are, and will forever be completely and irredeemably f***ed up, read this book.

3. Stephen King's It. Because it's a great read, and hush--that's why.

4. Heart of Darkness. This, I suspect, reveals something very unpleasant about me, but I reread it not only because I teach it, but because it's one of the few absolutely perfect pieces of sustained English prose ever written. And, let's face it, we could all stand to do with a reminder that, in the larger scheme of things, we need the world--not the other way 'round, and there's no way to know that and not have it creep the living s*** out of you. (I will not, however, reread Lord of the Flies--some things about human nature, while undeniably true, I just don't need to be reminded of, thanks.)


Blogger Flavia said...

Harper Lee only wrote the one damn book.

(What are my bonus points worth?)

10:36 AM  
Blogger Flavia said...

Oh, and I'm TOTALLY in love with the idea of "Big Time" as RIII's theme song. Makes me wish I were teaching it (the play, not the song) this semester.

10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Birthday cake and hollandaise sauce...hmmm interesting combination.

9:20 PM  

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