RANDOM NUMBER ASSAULT: 1, 3, 5, 15, 9, 22, 39, 50, 44
1: When you have a container of Neapolitan ice cream, what flavor do you leave for last?
I actually hate neapolitan ice cream. Always have. My parents bought a lot of it when I was kid, and I hated the strawberry the most.
3: Let’s say you have access to a time machine, but it can only go either backward or forward. One or the other. Which do you choose and where do you go?
Forward, definitely. I think I would be interested in the future of Africa or Latin America.
5: Tomorrow morning, you wake up in the body of a celebrity, like in a ’90s body-swap movie. Who is it? How do they react to your life? What do you do when you’re “them”? Would you choose to switchback?
I chose the first celebrity that popped up on my dash. Poor Louise Brealey. I’m sorry honey, you will struggle every minute of everyday. If I were her, I’d probably blow tons of money traveling, trying to see as many things as possible. Probably drink a bit too much, get in trouble, kiss too many people, and wake up face down on my bed. And I would switch back. I wouldn’t know what to do with a life that wasn’t mine. I wouldn’t know how to fill Louise Brealey’s 30+ years.
15: What was your favorite Halloween costume as a kid? How about as a teen/adult?
Much the shock and dismay of many people, I have never dressed up for Halloween.
9: You’re the sole witness to a Mafia murder. Witness protection has to set you up with a whole new life in a totally new country. You have to leave everything behind, but you can pick where you move to. Where do you go?
Probably Great Britain
22: For you, would getting amnesia be a good thing?
In a lot ways, it would be a good thing. But I think that I would rather keep my memories. I’ve learned from my experiences, even if many of them were not for the best.
39: Can you think of anything more boring than birdwatching?
Introductory computer courses
50: Who is your favorite late night talk show host?
Don’t really catch late-night programming since I don’t have cable. But I have some pretty fond memories of laying on Abbie’s couch, a little (or a lot) drunk and watching the Late Show with Craig Ferguson.
44: What’s the worst name you’ve ever been called?
Hey, so my mother is a writer, and she’s been telling me that one of her characters in her book is bisexual. He is married and she’s been a wondering if someone who is bisexual can ever be completely happy in a marriage. Anyway, I wanted to know what people on tumblr thought. So what do you think?
Er…yes, because bisexuals are not a monolith of horny marriage haters? And really we’re incredibly diverse, you have bisexuals who are married and happy, bisexuals who are married and hate it, bisexuals who are married and in poly relationships, bisexuals who happily commit to a life-long relationship but never get married, bisexuals who never have a long-term relationship ever, bisexuals who are against marriage, bisexuals who seek marriage etc. I’m not even making a “we’re just like you” argument here, because being bisexuals does affect your experiences in the world, but your writer mother’s doesn’t see a scenario where someone can be married and be attracted to more than one gender and be happy, which is textbook biphobia so yeah…
Any married bisexuals want to chime in?
This is what happens when uneducated straight people try to write queer characters. Especially bi characters.
Can a straight person ever be happy in a monogamous marriage? I mean, look at how many of them cheat, how many divorce, how many cause their partners pain or remain in loveless marriages to satisfy the duty placed upon them by religion, family, or themselves.
Bisexual people are no more promiscuous, no more sexual, no less satiable than straight people. We are diverse. Some of us desire monogamy, some don’t. Some would be incredibly happy in a marriage. Some would be miserable, pining for a life beyond monogamy. Some would fall somewhere in between, devoted and happy, but at some points melancholy and dissatisfied. I’m sure quite a few fall there.
In writing a bisexual character, your mother is making an effort- and that is appreciated- to include someone who is not necessarily portrayed as often or as accurately as necessary. I don’t know her motivations, as I don’t know her. I do know that, instead of seeing bisexuals as bisexuals, she first and foremost needs to see them as people. Romantic, passionate people. Cold, reserved people. Confused, angry, introverted, dreamy, innumerable people.
She can take it whatever direction she feels her character as a person would feel. Bisexuality has very little to do with his happiness in a marriage directly, unless, for some reason, it is an important factor in that marriage (if his wife is staunchly against his sexuality, or if he’s in the closet and conflicted about revealing his sexuality, perhaps). Otherwise, it has no bearing more than any other factor in his identity.
People- authors, artists, and all of those masses out there- need to stop defining our romances and relationships by our sexuality (and vice versa). Otherwise, they have no hope of understanding us, and even less of portraying us in a way that isn’t pandering and offensive.
1:When you have a container of Neapolitan ice cream, what flavor do you leave for last?
2:Would you rather be caught in a thunderstorm without an umbrella or a snowstorm without boots?
3:Let's say you have access to a time machine, but it can only go either backward or forward. One or the other. Which do you choose and where do you go?
4:If you could choose to have any superpower ever, what would you pick?
5:Tomorrow morning, you wake up in the body of a celebrity, like in a '90s body-swap movie. Who is it? How do they react to your life? What do you do when you're "them"? Would you choose to switch back?
7:What would you be more embarrassed to buy: sex toys or adult diapers?
8:Did you get enough sleep last night?
9:You're the sole witness to a Mafia murder. Witness protection has to set you up with a whole new life in a totally new country. You have to leave everything behind, but you can pick where you move to. Where do you go?
10:If you could star in a biopic about any famous person ever, who would it be?
11:What's the biggest animal you've ever killed? Bugs count.
12:Would you rather have millions of dollars but always feel nauseous when you go outside, or be dirt poor forever but never get sick again in your life?
13:A wizard offers you immortality in exchange for your two front teeth. Do you take it?
14:Could you win the Hunger Games?
15:What was your favorite Halloween costume as a kid? How about as a teen/adult?
16:Do you bite your nails?
17:What was the first movie you remember seeing in the theater?
18:Do you prefer music with male or female vocalists?
19:You and the love of your life are having a baby, and you get to choose the name! There's only one catch: your partner INSISTS that it be the name of a place, real or fictional. What do you name your baby?
20:If you could reboot or remake any movie, what would it be and who would you cast?
21:If you could automatically know how to speak any language or play any instrument, which would you choose?
22:For you, would getting amnesia be a good thing?
23:If you curse loudly and then realize that there are children nearby, what is your reaction?
24:Of what animal are you most afraid?
25:Pizza or oral sex?
26:Without looking them up, can you explain the rules of football? How about Quidditch? What do you think that says about you?
27:You're in the car, switching channels on the radio when you hear a song that makes you go "OH SHIT, THAT'S MY JAM!" What song is it?
28:Have you ever paid to see a Step Up movie? If not, how much would someone have to pay YOU to see a Step Up movie?
29:If you were being executed tonight, what would you choose for your last meal?
30:Have you ever bought an item of clothing because it reminded you of something a fictional character would wear?
31:If you were invisible for a day, what would you do?
32:Have you ever been punched in the face?
33:How do you take your ramen noodles?
34:Do you ever rehearse or plan conversations before you actually have them?
35:How much black do you wear on a regular basis (not counting funerals)?
36:Do you have any tattoos? Do you want any?
37:If someone offered you a free pet snake, would you take it? It's not dangerous or really big or anything. They're just moving to a place that doesn't allow pets.
38:Do you know how to pronounce the word "pinochle"?
39:Can you think of anything more boring than birdwatching?
40:Are you better with numbers or words?
41:At the movies, do you stay for the credits?
42:Is morality universal or relative?
43:Let's say you're getting married to someone you absolutely adore. The only catch is that you met them through a Craigslist hookup ad that was supposed to be just for one night of casual sex. Would you tell your friends how you and your fiance met?
44:What's the worst name you've ever been called?
45:Would you eat human flesh if it had been harvested and prepared humanely? (Say, from someone brain-dead who had marked him or herself down as an organ donor - same difference, right?)
46:At what age did you stop believing in Santa? Alternately, if you never believed in Santa, did you ever ruin Santa for anyone else?
47:Do you get along better with old people or little kids?
48:If you had to choose, would you rather become a nun/monk or a drug dealer?
49:What's your best bodily feature, objectively speaking?
50:Who is your favorite late night talk show host?
Famous Quote: “I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
The United States’ most famous poet’s most famous poem is a timeless ode to the American ideals of “individuality” and “forging your own path.” It’s one of those poems that’s so famous, even people who hate poetry can quote it. These are the reasons it appears on The Academy of American Poets’ list of top poems for college graduation.
Except aside from that last part, everything we just said isn’t true. Frost is actually using an old technique known as the “unreliable narrator,” and he isn’t even being all that subtle about it: in spite of the famous quote’s insistence that one road is “less traveled by,” the second stanza of the poem clarifies that both roads are “worn… really about the same.” Oh, and also, Frost himself admitted that he was actually mocking the idea that single decisions would change your life, and specifically making fun of a friend of his who had a tendency to over-think things that really weren’t that big a deal.
So what you thought was life-affirming was really just another poet/hipster condescendingly saying “you think you’re an individual, when really you’re just a cog in the machine, man!”
9. William Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet
Famous Quote: “Star-Crossed Lovers”
Aww, Romeo & Juliet: two teenagers in the throes of what could possibly be the most pure love in literary history. This is why when a magazine wants to comment on, say, Justin Bieber’s love life or the relationship between a little boy and his horse, they’re likely to reference the sonnet that opens Shakespeare’s most famous play by calling them “Star-Crossed Lovers.”
And sure, this is totally appropriate, if you’re expecting these people to die. ”Star-Crossed” doesn’t mean “brought together by fate,” it means “fated to die,” because the stars (fate) have “crossed” you. Shakespeare is intentionally reminding everyone at the beginning of his play that this is a frickin’ tragedy, you guys, and you’re in for a miserable ride.
8. Lewis Carrol, Alice in Wonderland
Famous Quote: “Oh, ’tis love, ’tis love that makes the world go round.”
This is an amazingly misunderstood line from an amazingly misunderstood writer. Pretty much everything about the life of Lewis Carroll (real name Charles Dodgson) is shrouded in confusion and slander; rather than being about drugs, Alice in Wonderland is most likely a criticism of then-new forms of mathematics that were becoming popular at Dodgson’s own Oxford College. In addition, though he was commonly accused of pedophilia, The Annotated Alice and The Carroll Myth makes the argument that Dodgson was actually asexual, and preferred the company of children because he was extremely uncomfortable with courting and any form of sexual innuendo.
Finally, and perhaps fittingly, his most famous quote is the one here about love making the world go ’round, and it is directly contrary to all of his pessimistic and strictly logical real-world values. In context, this quote is said by The Duchess, a character who is introduced as a potential child murderer. Hardly the kind of character a writer would want to speak the moral of his story.
Finally, need we remind you that Dodgson was a mathematician? Almost every detail of his biography — as well as the actual context of this story — show that this idea of love as a geo-revolutionary repellant is supposed to be scoffed at, not adored.
So it’s true that you might believe this to be true, but if that’s the case then it’s also true that one of history’s greatest writers is making fun of you.
7. William Shakespeare, Hamlet
Famous Quote: “This above all: to thine own self be true.”
No, this is not the last time Shakespeare is appearing on this list. You can probably guess why this line has become popular: it’s a simple platitude, and it’s attractive because it deals with individuality (just like the Frost example). However, if you look at who’s saying it and really analyze the content of the play, it becomes quickly obvious that Willy Shakes is making fun of this whole concept.
As anyone who’s read Shakespeare knows, the English language has evolved quite a bit since these plays were first performed, and what now seems like new-agey self-acceptance actually meant something quite different in Elizabethan times: Polonius is telling his son to work for himself, and only for himself, and to put everyone else he encounters second. He’s not encouraging individuality, he’s encouraging selfishness.
Furthermore, Polonius spends the whole play being a complete nitwit, and even Wikipedia’s basic description of him includes pointing out that he is “wrong in all the judgments that he makes during the play.” In most versions, Laertes (Polonius’s son,and the character he’s talking to) isn’t even listening — lots of stage directors will have the character roll his eyes and scamper off quickly to avoid the avalanche of clichés his father is dumping on him.
So what sounds like the kind of cutesy nonsense you’d roll your eyes at is really just bad advice given by a dumb character to someone who isn’t even listening.
6. John Keats, Ode to a Grecian Urn
Famous Quote: “Beauty is truth, truth beauty.”
Of all the examples on this list, this is probably the most likely to be misunderstood. After all, whether or not Keats was being serious when he said that, beauty = truth is basically the Kirk v Picard of classic English Literature. Unlike that controversy, there has actually emerged a begrudging consensus, and that is “that Keats did not, in fact, believe that beauty is truth.”
The controversy boils down to whether Keats thought art was a) supposed to represent the real world, or b) was better than the real world, with most scholars eventually deciding that Keats believed the latter. Not only does this cast a strange shadow over the rest of Keats’ work, which is described here as being “way over on the idealistic side of the sliding scale of idealism versus cynicism,” but it’s also just kinda fun and quirky that the most stereotypically pretentious comment in English Literary History was actually a sarcastic quip.
5. William Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet
Famous Quote: “Wherefore art thou, Romeo?”
“Wherefore” means “why,” as in, “why is your name Romeo?” The central conflict of the play is that R & J can’t be together because they are members of feuding families.
Juliet isn’t asking where Romeo is — that’d be stupid. He’s standing right in front of her.
Also, we told you Shakespeare would show up on this list again.
4. Rudyard Kipling, The Ballad of East and West
Famous Quote: “Oh East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet.”
It’s usually just the last couple lines here that are quoted, usually to describe two things that, you know, won’t ever meet. Memorable instances are from Raising Arizona (“There’s what’s right and there’s what’s right and never the twain shall meet,”) and the first episode of Secret Diary of a Call Girl, if anyone cares at all about that.
The problem is that Kipling isn’t just being sarcastic here — it’s blatantly obvious that within the context of the poem this is just a straw man argument, and only stated at all so he can immediately point out why that statement doesn’t apply.
“Oh, East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!”
In addition to having some confusions about how capitalization works (silly nineteenth century, amirite?), Kipling is taking the blatant stance that colonialism pretty much rules and East and West are going to meet pretty hard despite all that physics stuff.
3. Robert Frost, The Mending Wall
Famous Quote: “Good fences make good neighbors.”
Hey Robby Frost, good to see you on this list again. Privacy is the theme this time, and while the phrase “good fences make good neighbors” is not quite so famous as some others (though you’ve certainly heard it), The Mending Wall gets launched up to number 3 on this list for one simple reason: it’s misunderstood by federal law.
“Separation of powers, a distinctively American political doctrine, profits from the advice authored by a distinctively American poet: Good fences make good neighbors.”
That’s United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, literally creating hard law from thin air, and not understanding the thing he’s talking about.
The Mending Wall does include the line “good fences make good neighbors,” but it also paints the character speaking that line as a bit of a twit. ”Something there is that doesn’t love a wall… (nature) sends the frozen groundswell under it.” The poem tells a story of two neighbors with a wall between them, but every winter the wall falls apart, so the neighbors have to meet and mend the wall, spending more time together than they otherwise would have and growing increasingly frustrated with the each other.
Remember that the Supreme Court has nine justices, and at least one (Stephen Breyer) actually pointed out the error in his concurring opinion, but Scalia decided to leave the mistake in anyway.
2. Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra
Famous Quote: …at the bottom of all these noble races the beast of prey, the splendid blond beast, prowling about avidly in search of spoil and victory…”
We’re not going to put the whole quote up there because Nietzsche was a philosopher and therefore pretty longwinded, but we’ve highlighted the important parts. Or rather, we’ve highlighted the parts that the Nazis thought were important, when they were all Nazi-ing around and committing the first ever industrialized genocide, trying to live up to the standards that Nietzsche, apparently, set for them.
The problem is that’s not what Nietzsche meant at all. The original quote ends like this: “the Roman, Arabian, Germanic, Japanese nobility, the Homeric heroes, the Scandinavian Vikings — they all shared this need.” Everyone’s a blond beast because blond beasts are a metaphor for lions.
So if you’re going to use a philosopher as the backbone of your political movement, you might want to make sure you finish reading his sentence before you get the war machine up and running. Also, the fact that you thought he was advocating genocide was probably a pretty good hint that you shouldn’t have been listening to him anyway.
You stupid Nazis.
1. William Shakespeare, Sonnet 18
Famous Quote: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”
This is definitely the most quoted line in all of English literature, so much so that you’ve probably seen it as a parody more often that you’ve seen it written out straight — for example, “Shall I compare thee to a bale of hay.” It’s one of the few poems that is just so cliché that, if a guy recited it to his girlfriend on a date, even the most love-sick of recipients would roll their eyes in disgust.
But when Shakespeare’s talking about “love,” he’s not talking about romantic love or feminine beauty– the first 126 sonnets in Shakespeare’s work are generally understood to be addressed towards a man, and many of the surrounding pieces are actually encouraging procreation. Shakespeare isn’t wooing a beautiful woman; he’s telling a wealthy young ponz exactly what he wants to hear: that he’s just so damn sexy that it’d be pretty much the worst thing in the world if he didn’t have kids.
So if you’re a lady reading this, if any guy offers to compare you to a summer’s day, say “no, ’cause I’m not a dude.” If you’re a guy, don’t offer to compare your lady to a summer’s day. If you’re a man whose wife is trying to convince you that it’s time to have kids then…uh, that’s actually fine. Nicely done.
Once you lay (put or place) a book on the desk, it is lying (reclining, resting) there, not laying there. When you go to Bermuda for your vacation, you spend your time lying (not laying) on the beach (unless, of course, you have sex with someone, in which case you are laying someone on the beach). You lie down on the sofa to watch TV and spend the entire evening lying there; you do not lay down on the sofa to watch TV and spend the entire evening laying there. If you see something lying on the ground, it is just resting there; if you see something laying on the ground, it must be doing something else, such as laying eggs.
YES PLEASE EVERYONE MEMORIZE THIS RIGHT. NOW. EVERYONE MAKES THIS MISTAKE ALLLLLL OF THE TIME AND IT MAKES ME BAT. SHIT. CRAZY. YOU ARE NOT GOING TO GO “LAY OUT” AT THE BEACH. THAT IS NOT REAL.
They often seem disreputable, like sullen idlers loitering in a public thoroughfare, but they actually do a lot of hard work and are usually persnickety about the tasks to which they are put. They are interjections — one class of them, anyway: those lacking etymological origins but packed with meaning.
But how do you know how to distinguish similar ones — or spell them, for that matter? Here’s an incomplete inventory of interjections (not including variations of actual words such as yeah for yes or onomatopoeic echoes of externally produced sounds like boom):
Ack communicates disgust or dismissal.
Ah can denote positive emotions like relief or delight (generally, pronounced with a long a).
Aha signals triumph or surprise, or perhaps derision.
Ahem is employed to gain attention.
Argh, often drawn out with additional h’s, is all about frustration.
Aw can be dismissive or indicative of disappointment, or, when drawn out, expressive of sympathy or adoration.
Aye denotes agreement.
Bah is dismissive.
Blah communicates boredom or disappointment.
Blech (or bleah or bleh) implies nausea.
Boo is an exclamation to provoke fright.
Boo-hoo is imitative of crying and is derisive.
Boo-ya (with several spelling variants) is a cry of triumph.
Bwah-hah-hah (variously spelled, including mwah-hah-hah) facetiously mimics the stereotypical archvillain’s triumphant laugh.
D’oh is the spelling for the muttering accompanying Homer Simpson’s trademark head-slapping self-abuse.
Duh derides someone who seems dense.
Eek indicates an unpleasant surprise.
Eh, with a question mark, is a request for repetition or confirmation of what was just said; without, it is dismissive.
Er (sometimes erm) plays for time.
Ew denotes disgust, intensified by the addition of one or more e’s and/or w’s.
Feh (and its cousin meh) is an indication of feeling underwhelmed or disappointed.
Gak is an expression of disgust or distaste.
Ha expresses joy or surprise, or perhaps triumph.
Ha-ha (with possible redoubling) communicates laughter or derision.
Hamana-hamana, variously spelled, and duplicated as needed, implies speechless embarrassment.
Hardy-har-har, or har-har repeated as needed, communicates mock amusement.
Hee-hee is a mischievous laugh, while its variants heh and heh-heh (and so on) can have a more derisive connotation.
Hey can express surprise or exultation, or can be used to request repetition or call for attention.
Hist signals the desire for silence.
Hm, extended as needed, suggests curiosity, confusion, consternation, or skepticism.
Hmph (also hrmph or humph) indicates displeasure or indignation.
Ho-ho is expressive of mirth, or (along with its variant oh-ho) can indicate triumph of discovery.
Ho-hum signals indifference or boredom.
Hubba-hubba is the vocal equivalent of a leer.
Huh (or hunh) is a sign of disbelief, confusion, or surprise, or, with a question mark, is a request for repetition.
Hup, from the sound-off a military cadence chant, signals beginning an exerting task.
Hurrah (also hoorah, hooray, and hurray, and even huzzah) is an exclamation of triumph or happiness.
Ick signals disgust.
Lah-de-dah denotes nonchalance or dismissal, or derision about pretension.
Mm-hmm, variously spelled, is an affirmative or corroborating response.
Mmm, extended as needed, conveys palatable or palpable pleasure.
Mwah is suggestive of a kiss, often implying unctuous or exaggerated affection.
Neener-neener, often uttered in a series of three repetitions, is a taunt.
Now (often repeated “Now, now”) is uttered as an admonition.
Oh is among the most versatile of interjections. Use it to indicate comprehension or acknowledgment (or, with a question mark, a request for verification), to preface direct address (“Oh, sir!”), as a sign of approximation or example (“Oh, about three days”), or to express emotion or serves as a response to a pain or pleasure. (Ooh is a variant useful for the last two purposes.)
Oh-oh (or alternatives in which oh is followed by various words) is a warning response to something that will have negative repercussions.
Olé, with an accent mark over the e, is borrowed from Spanish and is a vocal flourish to celebrate a deft or adroit maneuver.
Ooh, with o’s repeated as needed, conveys interest or admiration, or, alternatively, disdain.
Ooh-la-la is a response to an attempt to impress or gently mocks pretension or finery.
Oops (and the jocular diminutive variation oopsie or oopsy and the variant whoops) calls attention to an error or fault.
Ouch (or ow, extended as needed) signals pain or is a response to a harsh word or action.
Oy, part of Yiddish expressions such as oy gevalt (equivalent to “Uh-oh”), is a lament of frustration, concern, or self-pity.
Pff, extended as needed, expresses disappointment, disdain, or annoyance.
Pfft, or phfft, communicates abrupt ending or departure or is a sardonic dismissal akin to pff.
Phew, or pew, communicates disgust, fatigue, or relief. (Phooey, also spelled pfui, is a signal for disgust, too, and can denote dismissal as well. PU and P.U. are also variants.)
Poof is imitative of a sudden disappearance, as if by magic.
“And I think to his defense, Tolkien was writing in 1937. You know, the world is a different place today and I keep repeatedly telling people that in this day and age to put nine hours of cinema entertainment in the theaters for young girls to go and watch and not have one female character is subliminally telling them you don’t count, you’re not important and you’re not pivotal to story. And I just think that they were very brave and very right in saying we won’t do that to the young female audience who come and watch our film. And not just the young female audience but even a woman of my own age, I think it’s time that we stop making stories that are only about men especially only about heroic men and I love that they made Tauriel a hero.”—
Whether you like Tauriel or not, I think Evangeline makes a great point about adapting Tolkien’s works to our age and how vital it is to incorporate a feminine perspective in fantasy worlds when previously that was not emphasized at all. Even still female representation in fantasy is lacking, and I think it’s great that Evangeline clearly observes the need for characters like Tauriel to round out these narratives and demonstrate that women do have a place in the fantasy genre.