One thing I started doing soon after I got a computer was writing out all of my favorite bits and pieces from books, TV shows, songs, and movies. Here are just a few:
1) Monty Python:
Too many people, through no fault of their own, are sane. It is up to us, who are out of our tiny little minds, to help them. One thing you can do is roll around on the floor going “squawk” “squawk,” “squawk,” and then rolling around in some treacle…
Excellent advice, the problem is finding the treacle.
2) Hamlet Not everyone remember the resolution to the “To Be or Not To Be” soliquoy:
There is special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come. The readiness is all. Since no man of aught he leaves knows, what is’t to leave betimes: Let be.
3) Special points to whoever guesses this one:
Discretion is the better part of valor; of dinner, dessert.
4) Even bigger points for this one because I can’t remember where I found it:
Are there UFOs to save us?/And do we really care?
5) Every writer out there can probably identify with Stevie Smith at least once in a while.
I long for the Person from Porlock/To bring my thoughts to an end,/I’m becoming impatient to see him/I think of him as a friend
Often I look out of the window/Often I look out of the gate/I think, He will come this evening,/I think it is rather late.
6) I love Dashiell Hammett as much as anybody else for his brilliant mysteries, characters, and concise writing, but this may be one of the best psychological explanations of what is a more common phenomena than most people realize. I try to remember it whenever I’m working on a character:
A man named Flitcraft had left his real-estate-office, in Tacoma, to go to luncheon one day and never returned. He did not keep an engagement to play golf after four that afternoon, although he had taken the initiative in making the engagement less than half an hour before he went out to luncheon. His wife and children never saw him again. His wife and he were supposed to be on the best of terms. He had two children, boys, one five and the other three. He owned his house in a Tacoma suburb, a new Packard, and the rest of the appurtenances of successful American living…was worth something in the neighborhood of two hundred thousand dollars at the time he vanished. His affairs were in order, though there were enough loose ends to indicate that he had not been setting them in order preparatory to vanishing… “He went like that,” Spade said, “like a fist when you open your hand.”…
I was with one of the big detective agencies in Seattle. Mrs. Flitcraft came in and told us somebody had seen a man in Spokane who looked a lot like her husband. I went over there. It was Flitcraft, all right. He had been living in Spokane for a couple of years as Charles– that was his first name– Pierce. He had an automobile-business that was netting him twenty or twenty-five thousand a year, a wife, a baby son, owned his home in a Spokane suburb, and usually got away to play golf after four in the afternoon during the season.
Spade had not been told very definitely what to do when he found Flitcraft. They talked in Spade’s room at the Davenport. Flitcraft had no feeling of guilt. He had left his first family well provided for, and what he had done seemed to him perfectly reasonable. The only thing that bothered him was a doubt that he could make that reasonablenees clear to Spade… “I got it all right,” Spade [said], “but Mrs. Flitcraft never did. … Here’s what happened to him. Going to lunch he passed an office-building that was being put up– just a skeleton. A beam or something fell eight or ten stories down and smacked the sidewalk alongside him. It brushed pretty close to him, but didn’t touch him, though a piece of the sidewalk was chipped off and flew up and hit his cheek. It only took a piece of skin off, but he still had the scar when I saw him. He rubbed it with his finger– well, affectionately– when he told me about it. He was scared stiff of course, he said, but he was more shocked than really frightened. He felt like somebody had taken the lid off life and let him look at the works.
Flitcraft had been a good citizen and a good husband and father, not by any outer compulsion, but simply because he was a man who was most comfortable in step with his surroundings. He had been raised that way…The life he knew was a clean orderly sane responsible affair. Now a falling beam had shown him that life was fundamentally none of these things. He, the good citizen-husband-father, could be wiped out between office and restaurant by the accident of a falling beam. He knew then that men died at haphazard like that, and lived only while blind chance spared them. It was not, primarily, the injustice of it that disturbed him: he accepted that after the first shock. What disturbed him was the discovery that in sensibly ordering his affairs he had got out of step, and not into step, with life. He said he knew before he had gone twenty feet from the fallen beam that he would never know peace again until he had adjusted himself to this new glimpse of life. By the time he had eaten his luncheon he had found his means of adjustment. Life could be ended for him at random by a falling beam: he would change his life at random by simply going away. He loved his family, he said, as much as he supposed was usual, but he knew he was leaving them adequately provided for, and his love for them was not of the sort to make absence painful.
“He went to Seattle that afternoon,” Spade said, “and from there by boat to San Francisco. For a couple of years he wandered around and then drifted back to the Northwest, and settled in Spokane and got married. His second wife didn’t look like the first, but they were more alike than different…He wasn’t sorry for what he had done. It seemed reasonable enough to him. I don’t think he even knew he had settled back naturally into the same groove he had jumped out of in Tacoma. But that’s the part of it I always liked. He adjusted himself to beams falling, and then no more of them fell, and he adjusted himself to them not falling.”
“How perfectly fascinating,” Brigid O’Shaughnessy said.
So, we’ll have a real blog next time, but for now this will have to do…