I am spontaneously declaring today 7 Quick Takes Participant Appreciation Day! I am usually just barely able to deal with life by the time the end of the week rolls around, and there have been many Fridays that I give most of the credit for my survival to being able to lock myself in a closet or bathroom for a few minutes to read everyone’s Quick Takes posts. I would like to show up at each of your houses with a bottle of wine and a basket of Ghirardelli chocolate (the 80% cacao kind, because I care) to give you my thanks personally. But since there are some logistical issues with that, how about a little giveaway instead?
I’m going to give away a $50 Amazon gift card to a blogger from this week’s 7 Quick Takes list. I’ll choose someone at random based on the InLinkz list below, and I’ll wait until Monday as an act of solidarity with my fellow procrastinators.
Thanks again to all my fellow quicktakers! (Wait. That sounds weird. Make that
quicktakesers QTers bloggers.)
Since there was some confusion about my “five-year-old in ballet uniform covered with ants” Mensa puzzle from the other day, let me clarify that yes, that was a true story. I could create an entire book of mindbenders based on scenes from my life. Behold:
- A recipe that a woman got from Pinterest, which was probably, in retrospect, a sick practical joke, causes dark plumes of smoke to begin pouring from the oven. She is holding a crazy baby who will immediately run toward the 450-degree inferno were she to set her down, yet she can’t take the incinerated casserole out of the oven with one hand. How does she clear the oven without endangering the baby?
- Five children are in a car, on the way to Mass, but the car only contains 7 shoes. How can each of the children cover their feet before they enter the building?
- A woman sees a huge scorpion on her kitchen floor. She immediately runs to her computer to tweet about it, but in the time she has her back turned, the arachnid disappears. How does she find and kill the scorpion?
Actually, the answer to #3 is easy: She locks herself in a RelaxMan and screams and screams in abject despair. But the others are true mind benders!!
Here’s a creepy story for you: you know the Ouija board post I did a couple of weeks ago? I had the thing all typed up, and was hurrying to get it posted because I had to leave to go somewhere and it would be hours before I could get back to it if I didn’t post it now. It was all nice and neat in the WordPress console, my mouse hovered over the Publish button, and then I noticed: Where did the phone story go?!
The two paragraphs that begin with “Late into the night…” and “We dashed into the other room…” were gone. I went back to Evernote, the program I use to draft my posts, and they weren’t there either. I’ve been blogging for eight years now, and I have never had entire chunks of text just disappear with no explanation. I thought it could be some bizarre issue with Evernote accidentally syncing an older version of the post over what I was typing, but if that happened you’d expect it to be choppy, with something cut off in mid-sentence. As it was, it was a clean omission, as if done by an editor. I hadn’t noticed it at first because it was so smooth that the post worked fine without that story. I never did recover the text, and had to rewrite those paragraphs from scratch.
Yes, it completely freaked me out.
I just finished reading The Remains of the Day, and it’s one of those books that is so engrossing that it’s taking me a while to accept the fact that I am not living in an early 20th-century British mansion. (And look at me, ignoring my nonfiction books to reading fiction like a literate person! I hope you’re proud.) You know how I knew this book would be great? When I saw the author’s name. I’d seen the movie years ago and knew it was based on a book, and I always assumed that the author’s name would be something like Sir Thurston Bellingham III, Esq. When I saw that it was written by Kazuo Ishiguro, a Japanese immigrant, I knew it would be good stuff. You have to have a passionate curiosity about the world to delve so deeply into culture that is not the one of your birthplace. Sure enough, it was amazing. To read it, you’d think it was written by someone who had spend decades as a butler.
The book explores the theme of the boundaries of honor and professional duty, and examines the tragedy not letting go of societal expectations to seek your own happiness. Ishiguro hit the ball out of the park with this topic, and I wonder if it’s because these are questions that both British and Japanese culture share to a large degree.
Anyway, to get to the most important point: if you’re jonesing for a Downton Abbey fix, this is your book.
Every time I read books or watch shows about rigidly formal English society, I understand on some primal level that I have found my people. I’ve mentioned before that it’s downright eerie to see the similarities in mannerisms and habits in portrayals of 19th-century English men to those of my grandfather (who is a Texan, but whose ancestry is almost entirely English).
When I was reading The Remains of the Day I had this ah-hah moment of wondering if perhaps this also explains my social awkwardness. The main character, a butler from the old school, is completely thrown off by his new American employer’s tendency to break out with all sorts of jokes and informal conversation. The butler is accustomed to the carefully orchestrated social interactions of pre-WWII society, and ends up standing stiffly and coughing awkwardly at his new boss’ attempts at socializing. See, I need this. It is only after reading this book that I realize that I yearn to be around repressed people who only interact with one another under the strictest conditions.
I’m telling you, every aspect of that existence is what I was genetically engineered for, down to the weather: sitting in a drafty old house, gazing out the window and sipping tea or brandy on a cold, rainy day, wearing some draped, multi-layered frock that covers every inch of my body lest one photon of sunlight accidentally hit my skin, knowing that nobody can contact me without first dropping a calling card in the parlor…this is the life I was meant to live.
My son has become fascinated by the idea of ghost peppers. I keep trying to tell him that they’re just too hot, and no sane person should ever go anywhere near them, but he insists that his life won’t be complete until he has a tiny taste to know for himself. He’s also discovered that they’re available for less than $2 on Amazon, and has launched a campaign for me to get them for him. I have no idea what would be involved here, since I’m the person who thinks that pepper jack cheese should be outlawed and bell peppers should only be consumed as part of intensive rite-of-passage rituals, thus I wouldn’t even go within five feet of a mild jalapeno. Have any of you guys ever tried a ghost pepper? Buying my eight-year-old a packet of them would be a terrible idea, right?
IMPORTANT HALLOWEEN WARNING: If you dress up like a stuffed scarecrow with the intention of jumping up and scaring the pants off of trick-or-treating kids, and a beefy man who looks like he could have just come from NFL linebacker tryouts walks onto your porch, the correct reaction is to STOP BREATHING AND SIT PERFECTLY STILL. Learn by example:
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