The Oversharing Meme

I shouldn’t really be doing this (well, by definition), but reviewing instead the two best novels of 2008 so far which I just happen to have read back to back. Just to warm you up, they were Nell Freudenberger’s The Dissident, and Kathryn Heyman’s Captain Starlight’s Apprentice. I’m giving nothing away as I want to do justice to both of them in proper posts. And I’ve also nearly finished two excellent non-fiction books as well, Alexandra Soiseth’s Choosing You (about having a baby using a sperm donor) and Julian Baggini’s Complaint. They’ve both been fascinating in radically different ways. So much good stuff to talk about! But I’ve been busy writing the academic chapter on dreams and by the end of the day lately I’ve been all written out and not up to doing justice to beautiful, complex, clever narratives. Today, having been working on a bit of Lacan (that was very good, I hasten to add), I am in dire need of something completely frivolous. And thankfully Emily (Telecommuter Talk) was there to provide it.

1. Name the singer/band/performer you are most embarrassed to admit you actually paid good money to see in concert.

Have I already told this story? Surely I have – well, stop me if you’ve heard it. I’ve pretty much only ever seen one band in concert, when I went with a group of school friends to Hammersmith Odeon to see Bon Jovi live. They were pretty good. But we’d spent the day in London beforehand and so I was dressed like any good sixth-former on a shopping trip – black trousers, white shirt, black v-necked jumper. The first person to catch my eye on entering the stadium was a woman dressed in leopard print skin-tight leggings and a ripped lace blouse, and she was par for the course, audience-wise. I have never, ever felt so inappropriately dressed for an occasion.

2. Which reality TV show have you watched more than once (come on. I don’t believe you if you say “none,” unless you don’t own a TV)?

I can’t stand Big Brother, or anything that removes people’s dignity, but I did use to watch a lot of a parenting program called ‘The House of Tiny Tearaways’ in which three families with troublesome offspring all stayed together for a week being given a variety of expert parenting help – counselling and hands-on practical advice. It was fascinating and the High Priestess of Parenting, Tania Byron, was extraordinarily good at turning the parents around. We watched it primarily because my son adored it, but he loved the first part of the show the most, when we saw the families in meltdown. Once things began to improve he’d lose interest, which made me kind of curious as to what experience he wasn’t getting at home. I watched it wishing it had been on television when he was younger.

3. Which complete trash novelist have you not only read but enjoyed enough to read more than one book of his/hers?

Jilly Cooper. I read Riders when I was fifteen and it made a lasting impression; I went on to read her regularly over the next decade. She was always so brilliant at representing people with flaws, mistakes and weaknesses who were still very lovable. And she has this sense of fun and adventure and passion that really invigorates her novels. She’s class, as well as trash. I remember going to a very high-powered reading group in Cambridge once when everyone sat around discussing the merits of Homer’s Odyssey and The Iliad and exclaiming at how they’d read it over and over from age eight onwards (this was probably true) and I came home feeling decidedly unworthy. ‘Never mind,’ said my husband. ‘Not one person in that room had the expertise you do with Jilly Cooper novels’ and I felt this was undeniably true. Breadth of reading is a fine thing.

4. What sappy musical could you watch over and over and over again?

It might be easier to ask which one I couldn’t. Ummmm, Calamity Jane is probably up there, for the pleasure of hearing Doris Day sing ‘Whip-crackaway!’ And I love the recent film version of Chicago and will happily stick it in the DVD player if I am feeling under the weather.

5. Who was your first celebrity crush?

Oh dear. Well, please don’t think any the worse of me (this is futile pleading), but I think it must have been Cliff Richard. I can remember sitting on my mother’s lap watching him sing Miss You Nights on Top of the Pops. Be gentle on me – I was five and knew no better. My longest standing crush is Anthony Hopkins – what a voice! What a talent! That little bit of masterful brilliance does it for me every time. So yes, however much of a bad idea it might seem, I would date Hannibal Lector.

6. Who is the most embarrassing celebrity on whom you have a slight crush today?

I don’t think you’re really going to want to know this either. I’m a big fan of American Idol and I have to say that I do have a tiny thing for David Cook. Me and approximately sixty-two million screaming American teenage girls, that is. I have this theory that when people are doing something they excel at, when they are flying, become very, very attractive, or at least that’s my excuse. I haven’t dared calculate whether I am actually old enough to be his mother.

7. What movie that everyone else and his cousin and even his dog has seen have you never seen?

Again, it would be quicker here to ask what I have seen. I so rarely watch movies, and so rarely are the movies I watch the ones that people rave about. Let’s see, I haven’t watch Blade Runner, or The Godfather, or Reservoir Dogs, or 2001 A Space Odyssey (I wrote ‘oddity’ there the first time – oops!), I haven’t seen Sleepless in Seattle, or Kramer vs. Kramer, or Schindler’s List or The Matrix. I haven’t seen Psycho, or La Dolce Vita or Jules et Jim, or Alien, or even It’s A Wonderful Life. I think I’d better stop now, though the list is endless.

8. What were you drinking the first time you ever got drunk?

Pimms. I was at a garden party in Cambridge, drinking it for the first time and I thought, yum yum, what delicious fruity lemonade, unaware that it was lethal. Our old friend, M., led me home through the town center. I remember we had to stop at Gonville and Caius College for him to drop off a letter and there was a hard wooden bench outside the mail room. Mmmm-hmmm, cosy! I thought, and was nearly asleep by the time he returned. With the recuperative powers of youth I had a nice little nap when I reached my room and then went on to party for the rest of the evening and half the night. I hardly ever even got tipsy because I couldn’t bear to inflict a hangover on myself, and in any case I was a very dull drunk, usually asleep after a glass or two of wine. Then I got chronic fatigue and even the least drop of alcohol would make me feel absolutely terrible. Sometimes life works in mysterious ways, but I suppose at least I didn’t miss it.

9. Which old re-run will you still pause to watch if you’re flicking through the channels and see that it’s on?

Probably this will mean nothing to half of you, but I love an old comedy show called Yes, Prime Minister. It is the wittiest, cleverest, funniest satirical program I have ever seen with three outstanding actors in the lead roles. I could watch it all day and not tire of it. Here’s the part where I sound like a granny and say: why don’t people make intelligent comedy any more?

10. What book/movie/t.v. show that only a fifteen-year-old would think is funny makes you laugh?

We’ll have to drop that age range here. I still love Peanuts cartoons. Just the thought of Snoopy sitting on top of his kennel typing the words ‘It was a dark and stormy night’ makes me start to smile. Or the way Linus’s hair stood up on end every time his blanket got whipped away. One of my favourite cartoons features Snoopy pondering what to have for his lunch when Lucy walks by, grousing and grumbling and moaning in her usual fashion. Once she’s gone Snoopy sits up and says ‘That’s it! I’ll have an open-faced crab sandwich.’ Ah, pure joy.

Tagged: anyone in a shameless mood.

ps Still no wordpress joy with the italics – sorry, folks.


25 thoughts on “The Oversharing Meme

  1. Oh, Calamity! I had a choice of working backstage on Calam or Fiddler and I chose the Western. My favourite moment is “Secret Love”. West Side Story and South Pacific are way up there as well.

    I haven’t done one of these for a while so I will tag myself and come up with something in a day or two.

    Those italics may be browser or theme related – I don’t have any problem with them.

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  3. I love reading people’s answers to these memes–they are always so amusing. I hate to admit that I sometimes will watch the Bachelor (or the Bachelorette). I think it’s all sort of sick and twisted to think a person can find their mate in a room of 25 possibilities–not just that, but what the ‘contenders’ have to do to win the attention of whoever’s doing the choosing. But I have stopped and watched it nonetheless. I have vague recollections of youthful crushes on actors and they were always on second rate actors for some strange reason….I’ll have to remember this for when I’m in a shameless mood!

  4. Quite fun to read your answers…I’ve been seeing this meme around everywhere today 🙂

    I must say, I agree about David Cook, and I know I’m old enough to be his mom (my own son is actually older than David). There’s something so appealing about a young man at the top of his game, and being recognized by all the world in such a star studded manner. I do think he has what it takes – and he’s a self avowed “word nerd” too, which raises him even more in my estimation 🙂

  5. Okay… shameless meme time…

    1. Name the singer/band/performer you are most embarrassed to admit you actually paid good money to see in concert.

    Never paid to go to a concert… not pop or rock anyway.

    2. Which reality TV show have you watched more than once (come on. I don’t believe you if you say “none,” unless you don’t own a TV)?

    Don’t own a TV

    3. Which complete trash novelist have you not only read but enjoyed enough to read more than one book of his/hers?

    Hmm… I read everything Thomas Wolfe wrote at least twice when I was 16 years old… does that count as trash? … and I read the Life of Pi…

    4. What sappy musical could you watch over and over and over again?
    Oh, sappy musicals, thats more like it! I love sappy musicals! And if trashy Italian opera counts, them too!

    5. Who was your first celebrity crush?
    … don’t think I get those.

    6. Who is the most embarrassing celebrity on whom you have a slight crush today?

    See 6.

    7. What movie that everyone else and his cousin and even his dog has seen have you never seen? All about Eve? Many … but I can’t think of them. I’ll have to ask someone’s cousin and dog.

    8. What were you drinking the first time you ever got drunk?
    Wow… that woulda been a loooong time ago. Probably Gin and tonics. I remember pretending to be drunk when I was 14 or 15, sneaking six packs to the beach with friends. You know, we could bury the cans in the sand then. They were made of steel and would completely rust away. Had to be strong to crush ’em, too. And needed a church key to open.

    9. Which old re-run will you still pause to watch if you’re flicking through the channels and see that it’s on?

    No TV for some time… but I’d watch episodes of Saint Elsewhere again. Hill Street Blues. Gunsmoke. Oh… what was the one, a detective show with a cool jazz background, bass and brushes, around 1958 or 59? And Buffy! I loved Buffy!

    10. What book/movie/t.v. show that only a fifteen-year-old would think is funny makes you laugh?

    I don’t know, what does a 15 year think is funny? I don’t remember.

    I like Muts. Get Fuzzy. Pearls Before Swine… still miss Pogo….

    Oh, talk about guilty pleasures one should never admit…I smiled an truly evil smile when I heard that Mommy of Family Circle has Alzheimer’s.

  6. LOL re Cliff Richard and Bon Jovi! But I agree re Yes Prime Minister, David Cook and Tania Byron – she makes being a psychologist look fun (and sexy). This is a fun meme so I’ll tag myself too.

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  8. Imagining you in your neat and tidy outfit at the Bon Jovi concert cracked me up especially with the lady in the leopard print leggings giving you the eye. I’m not a movie watcher either but all of the movies you haven’t seen made me gawp. It took me years to get to the Matrix but I did and it was surprisingly good. And in the US you can’t go through a holiday season without seeing It’s a Wonderful Life. They start playing it at Thanksgiving and replay it several times a week until New Year’s. Over the course of the season you can see the whole thing in bits and pieces by accident. Though I shouldn’t give you such a hard time, I haven’t seen six of the 13 movies you listed 🙂

  9. There are great stories here! I love the one about Jilly Cooper the best — once again, your husband came through with a great line. I’ll have to read her one of these days.

  10. Oh this is a good one, I’ll have to steal it from you. I shan’t tell one of my friends about the shame you feel about the Bon Jovi concert because she thinks he’s one of the hottest things on the planet…and she’s younger than me even. 😀

  11. Thanks for playing. Your Bon Jovi story is great (sounds so much like the sort of thing I would do)! And now you’ve got me wondering: did I ever read any Jilly Cooper? I think I thought about it but never actually did. And by the way, it seems you DO watch movies. They just happen to be of the musical sort.

  12. Archie – You worked backstage? How much fun must that have been??? Do tell us more. And how could I have forgotten West Side Story? I adored that movie. The links/italics thing is a pain. It seems I can either post direct from Word and have all my line breaks messed up, or post via the notepad and have no functioning wordprocessing menu. Sigh. Danielle – the problem is once you’ve started to watch these programmes, isn’t it? If you never turn them on then you can live without them, but as soon as you start thinking, now how will Eric get on with Petunia on the date? you’re lost. 🙂 I’d love to see your answers to this some time. Ravenous – how delightful to think you are also a David Cook fan! He’s a cut above the average Idol, I’ll say. I’m quite happy to share him with you 🙂 Jacob – I think you are too aesthetically pure, my friend, to really do this meme! The Life of Pi is amusing as a trash read. Mario Puzo, okay, closer to the subset. I used to sell a lot of copies of that book when I worked in a bookstore. I also used to drink gin and tonic a long while ago. My brother would walk up to the bar, asking me: Are you still on the perfume? Gentle Reader – you astound me! I never thought anyone would have seen it outside of mainland Britain so how nice to find an American fan! Pete – isn’t Tania Byron a goddess? And SA has Yes Prime Minister too? Loved your answers, by the way. Stefanie – LOL! I agree that avoiding It’s A Wonderful Life is quite a work of art 🙂 I thought of some more for you – The Exorcist, Casablanca, the Mad Max movies, Braveheart, Bambi. Oh I could go on. One day I’ll talk about the kind of movie I do watch and you’ll see why the catchment area is so small! Dorothy – you have to read Cooper with the sense that you have absolutely nothing better to do. They are pure frothy entertainment and they don’t work if you are feeling in the slightest bit serious or in need of learning something 🙂 But they do have good jokes. Imani – LOl for the Bon Jovi fan! The shame stems mostly from being me, because when people find out it’s my sole concert experience they tend to say: You? You went to a rock concert? And then they laugh a lot…. Looking forward to seeing your answers very much! Emily – how true! Musicals are the kind of movie I will happily watch! Jilly Cooper is good for beaches and bed rest and any sort of lightweight doldrums. And how on earth did you get to see Yes Prime Minister too? I am amazed!

  13. Back in the old days, when PBS used to do much more than it does now, we actually caught a lot of British shows on TV: Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, Keeping Up Appearances, etc., and Yes, Prime Minister was one of them (my father was particularly fond of that one).

  14. I enjoyed reading your answers. I think I’m going to have to do this one sometime soon.

    Of all of the movies listed that you haven’t seen, the only one that I would say that you should see is Jules and Jim. Here is a tidbit about It’s A Wonderful Life: Never considered much of a classic, and hardly Capra’s best work (It Happened One Night, which I think you might enjoy is frequently cited as his best), it had fallen into the vaults of forgotten films, wherever that is, until the copyright expired in the 70’s. Because it hadn’t been renewed, the television networks could play it repeatedly for very little money. Such is the making of a ‘classic’.

    I laughed at the reappearance of “M” and getting looped on Pimms.

  15. To italize, without using the button that is giving you such troubles, you should be able to use brackets (like this ) within an i inside at the beginning of the italized word, and a slash+ i (e.g., /i) inside the brackets at the end of the italics. Same for bold (use a b).

    Just remember that for every start of a command, you must have a closing bracketed command. Without I’m not sure that WordPress would allow you to publish the post.

  16. Darn it! The empty brackets didn’t print in the comment above. Use those that look like a greater than and less than sign . On an American keyboard, the shifted keys of the comman and period. There should be no spaces between the backet and the i

  17. Re “Yes Prime Minister” we managed to get BBC shows (including Rumpole) on tape whenever someone would return from the UK. So of course we devoured them as a special treat. There was a South African connection since Sir Humphrey (forgotten his real name) was born here.

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  19. Emily – so that’s how it worked! I knew we sold TV concepts to the US but not that the actual programs got aired. I must show a Fawlty Towers episode to my son – I think he’s of an age to appreciate it now. Emily – now children’s movies I know a lot about! But no, not even Kramer vs Kramer – I always figured it would make me cry too much. I do like to set a limit. Cam – I’d love to see your answers! I do have an urge to see Jules et Jim – I’ve never seen any Truffault (sp?) movies at all. And thank you very much indeed for the help with the code and with the Capra tip – both much appreciated! Ian – LOL! Yes. And I loved his whirling dancing paws, too. Pete – so you have family over here in the UK? What a good idea to bring television programs out to you. The actor’s name is Nigel Hawthorne and he was just wonderful – I never knew of that connection! Bloglily – how funny you should speak of it, because I have a podcast ready to go, only the UK hosting service seems to be behaving peculiarly and won’t upload. With my usual panache for technical problems, I am still mired in denial about it 🙂

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