I regret to inform our three regular readers that I have been targeted by the latest meme flowing through these here internet tubes. It's hard to believe that anything can get through these days, what with all the porn and pornlike men's aerobic championship videos, but here we are.
This latest meme is actually an interesting one, focused on questions about art and culture and all that shit. Here we go:
1. Name a book that you want to share so much that you keep giving away copies: Personally, I think this question is a little flawed. I don't really go around giving away copies of books, and if I did, I'd make a career out of it by working for those Gideon people, sneaking into hotel rooms and planting Bibles in nightstands.
But there are books I've loaned out to a few friends. (Take that, you stupid library!) Chief among these would be David Sedaris's Me Talk Pretty One Day, which is probably the funniest thing I've ever read, and Dan Savage's Skipping Toward Gomorrah: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Pursuit of Happiness in America, which is the funniest socially-critical thing I've ever read.
2. Name a piece of music that changed the way you listen to music: This is an interesting one and I could probably answer it a million ways.
As the regular contestants on our Friday Random Ten will attest, I have a serious soft spot for lesser-known R&B, funk, and soul songs that have gained greater fame as sampled beats in hiphop songs. It's hard to pinpoint where this obsession came from, but one of the earliest finds was a terrific scorching bit of organ-driven jazz called "Mystic Brew" by Ronnie Foster. It's a great song on its own, but what really sold me was that finding it finally answered the question of where the backing music for Tribe Called Quest's "Electric Relaxation" came from. Ever since, I've developed a subconscious habit of keeping an ear out for where rhythms and beats have surfaced in later songs, and vice versa.
3. Name a film you can watch again and again without fatigue: This is another hard one, seeing how I'm a film junkie. I could go with any of a number of classic films that I can, and have, watched over and over. They're mostly comedies, like Raising Arizona, Blazing Saddles, The Big Lebowski, and Stripes, with a couple epic westerns in the mix, like The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly and The Magnificent Seven.
But based on empirical studies, I'd have to give the nod to GoodFellas. It seems I am physically incapable of turning this movie off whenever I stumble upon it on cable. Doesn't matter what part of the movie I come in on, I generally toss the remote across the couch and let it roll. Scorcese is a genius, regardless of what the Oscar clowns may say, and this is his masterpiece. I still can't believe that Kevin Crapner's Dances with Cliches won Best Picture that year instead of this. Boooooo!
4. Name a performer for whom you suspend of all disbelief: This one's easy. Philip Seymour Hoffman.
No matter what he plays -- whether it be an uptight nerd (Big Lebowski, 25th Hour) or a comatosely cool slacker (Almost Famous, Along Came Polly); a pompous asshole (Scent of a Woman, The Talented Mr. Ripley) or a meek loser (Boogie Nights) -- I tend to buy it completely. (In fact, looking over those titles, I'm struck by the fact that I only really liked a few of those films, but loved his acting in every one.) My God, he's a man who's been known for playing big, loud, bearish men and the second I saw him in Capote as a diminutive, dainty socialite, I was gone.
The lovely and talented Malibu Stacy and I once saw him play the loser brother in a production of Sam Shepherd's "True West," where he and John C. Reilly (another potential answer here) were trading the leading roles each night. He nailed it perfectly. My only regret was that we couldn't get tickets to see them switch the tables and see him work the uptight brother for a while.
5. Name a work of art you'd like to live with: Another easy one, as there's a single print that appears in both my home and office: Jasper Johns' "Map" (1961).
I'm a sucker for Pop Art in general and Johns' work in particular. I couldn't tell you why this one is my favorite, but at some subconscious level, it's always seemed to sum up a vibrant, liberal vision of American patriotism to me. It has energy, chaos, diversity and passion. And it's my country, dammit, no matter how many miniature American flags the Republican Party spews out for the dittoheads.
Plus, it's got all them pretty colors in it what I like.
6. Name a work of fiction which has penetrated your real life: As an ex-pat Southerner living in the North, I've always had a soft spot for Southern fiction. It always seems to breathe life into a past that's half-forgotten even when you live in the region. I'll go with Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men, as it never lets me forget the good and bad of the South, all rolled into one.
7. Name a punch line that always makes you laugh: I'll follow Mike's lead here and go with a classic bit of Woody Allen -- when Annie Hall parks her car a full yard off the street, and Allen's character says reassuringly, "No, no. It's OK. We can walk to the curb from here." Never fails to make me laugh.
Alright, now for the hardest part -- passing this along. I always hate doing this, because it feels vaguely like sending along a chain letter. A chain letter that requires homework. But these are some interesting questions and I'm genuinely curious how a pack of cultured sophisticates like Norbizness, Travis G., and Mr. Furious answer them.
Tag, fuckers. You're it.