If you were given the option, what would you most enjoy never having to do again?
I was tempted to put some form of housework here, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought most household chores fall into two categories – either they’re really not that bad (laundry), or I never do them anyway (vacuuming). I do hate doing the dishes, though.
It’s a toss up between never having to wash a moldy dish without the help of a dishwasher, and never again being stuck waiting for public transportation in bad weather which I am not dressed for when I am late for something important and can’t call. The second is far more irritating, but happens far less often.
You know, rich people with dishwashers and their own cars (even not-rich people who own those two things) really don’t have to do either of those things. Am I setting my sights too low? You be the judge.
If there were a mass book burning, and you had the choice to save three books for your own public consumption, and three books to destroy so that no one could read them ever again, which would they be?
Um. Can I save Shakespeare’s Complete Works, as long as it’s all in one volume? Is that fair?
If I am allowed, I would (predictably) save that book. If I can only have one play, it would be King Lear, which has meant the most to me personally and deals so beautifully with trust and betrayal, parents and children, and reaching for something that was never there to begin with.
I would also save The Mismeasure of Man, by Stephen Jay Gould. That was the first nonfiction book I ever liked, and I think it’s a very powerful exploration of the way our own instincts and hopes for the world lead us wrong. It’s “about” the history of intelligence testing, but it’s really an explanation of why intelligence isn’t quantifiable at all, and every attempt to do so has ended up supporting existing prejudices against different societal groups.
And now I am torn, because it would be either Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, or Gaudy Night, by Dorothy Sayers. They’re both my platonic form of personal entertainment; I’m an absolute sucker for romance stories about people who are drawn to one another because of their intelligence and ability to learn and grow. (Hey, everyone has her thing. Don’t judge me.) I think in the end it would be Pride and Prejudice, because that’s been my save-in-the-case-of-book-burning go-to book for about ten years now, and much as I love Gaudy Night – and I do really adore it – it doesn’t stand alone quite so well, and doesn’t transcend its era as much. Now I feel dirty, because I just reduced Peter Wimsey to ashes and I can never look at myself in the mirror again.
It’s hard to pick three whole books that I would do away with, since I tend to be of the opinion that you can get something from almost every book, even if it’s just a better understanding of the pressures of the era in which it was written. Like I wouldn’t throw in Mein Kampf, because I really do think it’s valuable to see what was going on in a psychopath’s head at that moment in time, especially when he had such a profound impact on the world.
But I have to toss something. Out of pure spite, I would throw in Labyrinth, by Kate Mosse, which was the very last book I loathed but still finished. (My supply at the time was limited, and I had paid full hardcover price for it.) I am still bitter that it took so much of my time and gave me absolutely nothing in return. The “plot twists” were like gentle curves in an otherwise flat road: visible for miles. After that experience, I don’t finish books that suck really hard in the first chapter or two, and it’s made my life better. But I’ll never get back those hours waiting for something to goddamn happen already, and given the option, I would punish that book.
I’d also toss in I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, by Tucker Max. There are so many douchebags wandering around the world, I really don’t think they need an instruction manual when half our culture is all about encouraging them. Fate willing, Max’s impact on the world will be negligible, and the sooner it’s over and I never have to hear about him again, the happier I’ll be. I just despise that whole thing, and if a future historian wants to learn about it, she can just watch a Carl’s Jr. commercial.
And I guess I’d throw in one of those knitting books where all the patterns are in bright colors and truly hideous and unflattering, not to mention not worth the effort. I considered that picture book that’s supposed to help explain Mommy’s plastic surgery to a four-year-old (yes, it’s totally real, look it up) but I can see that being of use to some future historian writing about twenty-first century attitudes. Knitting books like this one just give knitters a bad name, not to mention bad ideas. Knit something that actually looks good, shit.
If you could have an exclusive interview with any two people (real, not fiction) - male or female - one currently living, and one dead who would they be? Why would you want to talk to them? What would you ask them?
Well. Again I am struggling not to waste an opportunity. I would like the caveat in place that the people would have to talk to me, and answer honestly, and not be jackasses; because it was profoundly depressing, the day I realized I would love to go back in time and have a conversation with Aristotle, but I would never be able to, because I am a girl and he wouldn’t give me the time of day. So for the purposes of this, they have to actually talk to me (in my own language, as well).
Living: God, everyone that occurs to me is an actor, how extremely shallow. I’ve long wanted to have a nice gossipy tea with Olivia de Havilland, who is still alive and living somewhere in Paris. I’d ask her if she ever slept with Errol Flynn. And I bet Nathan Fillion would be well hilarious to talk to in real life. (Screw my magic wish, what I should really do is just go to Comic-Con.) But no. Given the chance, I’d have a conversation with Stephen Fry. He knows a lot about acting, sure, but he also knows about writing, speaking, being happy, being sad, and thinking boys are sexy. And judging by QI, he knows pretty much everything about everything anyway. And he seems nice.
Dead: I’m tempted to say Descartes, but I’ve already picked a guy for my live person, and my list is leaning startlingly male. Also, Descartes was probably a dick, despite all the sexy stuff he did with math. You know whom I really want to talk to? Diotima. Socrates, in the Symposium, says that Diotima, a Mantinean woman, taught him the philosophy of Love. Except he means it literally, not euphemistically; he goes on to talk about her question-and-answer method and definitions and so forth. I’d like to talk to her, about how on earth she managed to be a female philosopher in ancient Athens, and what Socrates was like as wee sprout.
You're stuck in a room for a year and you can only have access to three movies. What movies do you pick? note: TV series on DVD do not count. double note: movies illegally recorded so they are back-to-back on one DVD do not count either.
Easy-peasy. My top three movies of all time are The Princess Bride, Singin’ in the Rain, and Penelope. I’ve seen all of them a bunch of times, and no doubt I’d get sick of them after a year, but they’re my favorites because they never fail to put me in a good mood, and if you won’t let me bring Buffy or Castle, well, the choice is already made.