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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A New Chapter 

Hello again, Invisible Friends! It's good to see you again, if only for a little while. It is hard to believe that I have served as custodian of this particular patch of Internet real estate for over a dozen years. Looking back I can barely recognize the sleep-deprived science teacher who kickstarted this blog with a frustration fueled manifesto inspired by a moderately obscure Simpsons reference.  Those early posts from Underwood have taken on the character of time capsules, each one containing tiny fragments of the person I used to be.

I suppose the same could be said for the posts written once I left the world of high school education and enrolled in graduate school, but for some reason, these don't feel quite as distant. Perhaps it is because my tenure at Old Ivy served as a sort of initiation into my current professional identity as a historian of science. Perhaps it's simply a matter of time, and in a few more years I will feel just as far removed from my predoctoral self.

Yet throughout the many changes that have occurred in my life since this blog began, one thing has remained constant: geography. Over the course of several apartment changes, fellowship programs, and conference trips, the metropolitan area that I called home stayed the same. I felt a deep sense of connection to this city, arguably the first truly American city, and in my opinion still its greatest, despite being overlooked by partisans of larger, flashier urbanities. This is where I took the first tentative steps into adult independence and eventually maneuvered myself on to my current career path. The fact that it is also my actual birthplace and the site where my family traces its roots only served to further strengthen those ties.

For these reasons and more, I will always identify with this place and its people. But in a few days, I will no longer be able to call it home. By the time 2016 rolls around, I will have driven halfway across the country to embark on a new adventure, leaving the east coast behind in favor of the endless prairies of the midwest. The motives for this relocation are first and foremost professional: there are opportunities out there that are simply too good to ignore. But as one might expect, there are personal factors involved. As much as it will sadden me to leave, there is a part of me that longs for a fresh start and a clean slate: a chance to reinvent myself, as we all must so many times during our lives. 

This is likely the last post I will write in the apartment I've occupied for the past four years and the city I've loved all my life. Tomorrow will be devoted to final cleanup and terminating my utilities, including Internet access. Then on Thursday (New Year's Eve), I pack the car and drive west. Whether or not this is the final post of this blog's surprisingly long life, I can not say with any certainty. After all, in many ways it is an anachronism. The few remaining blogs on my Invisible Blogroll are stagnant and have been for years. I have not been much better. Nevertheless, perhaps I'll check in from time to time to let you know how things are going.

After all, as I said to one coworker shortly before leaving my office for the last time, this is not the end of my story, just the beginning of a new chapter.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

New Horizons 

Most of our days will be forgotten. A disturbing conclusion, perhaps, but one that anyone reading these words can easily confirm based on their own experience. Think back to yesterday. Do you remember what you did? Do you know what you ate for breakfast, where you traveled, the activities in which you engaged, and the people you met?

Some of you, having excellent memories, will be able to respond affirmatively to the all of those questions. Outstanding. Let's repeat the exercise, moving back two weeks earlier. How about three days before that? How much detail can you actually recall? In the absence of an especially disciplined mind (think Sherlock Holmes) or rock-solid habits (i.e. a diarist who records his thoughts with far greater frequency than the author of this blog), the days tend to blur together. We can point to general trends without too much difficulty but the specifics fade into the background.

Among the quota of days that each of us are assigned, however, are a handful that stand out, either due to the significance we assign to them ourselves or the especially memorable actions of outsiders. Even minor moments--scoring well on a test, embarrassment in front of one's peers, even holding hands with a loved one--can take on lasting resonance.

Birthdays fit into both categories. Many of us tend to assign far greater significance to them than they rightly deserve. After all, there's nothing particularly special about the number of times that a person has traveled around the sun. Yet they also provide an occasion for friends or relatives to do nice things on our behalf, either through the giving of tangible gifts or simple acts of kindness. In this way, they tend to provide a greater opportunity for the formation of sharper memories. There is no guarantee that we will remember every birthday, but it is perhaps more likely that birthdays will be memorable.

In the final hours of this, my 34th birthday, I am already certain that it will be among the handful of days I am likely to recall for the rest of my life. Part of this is thanks to my parents and sister, who helped me celebrate the occasion despite being separated by several states. Credit is also due to my coworkers and friends, who arranged for a nice card and joined me for drinks after work. But I'll admit, a big part of it is due to luck: a chain of dominos stretching back over most of a decade which reached its conclusion today when a NASA satellite reached the furthest reaches of our solar system and cast its mechanical eyes on a new and distant world.

Since I was very young, I have enjoyed astronomy. I recall reading books about the stars and attending planetarium shows. I still remember watching the first pictures of Neptune arrive from the Voyager 2 spacecraft a quarter-century ago. Today was the sequel, a moment I do not know if I ever anticipated witnessing. Today, the aptly named New Horizons probe reached Pluto and in the blink of an eye the world saw something magical. 


It is not often that one is introduced to an entirely new world. Today I, along with the rest of the humanity, shared in that experience. It was at once both mesmerizing and thrilling. It answered a handful of questions but raised so many others that countless researchers will likely devote their entire careers to deciphering them. It succeeded in taking what could have been an otherwise ordinary birthday, otherwise spent without incident in the office, into an exciting moment to connect with others and marvel at the wonders of the cosmos and the many new horizons left to explore.

Most of our days will be forgotten and many of our birthdays too, but not this one. This one I anticipate remembering for the rest of my life.

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Friday, December 26, 2014

On the Insufficiency of Obituaries 

With December nearing its close, I find myself thinking as so many people do at this time of year about beginnings and endings. The latter weighs particularly heavy during these dark days of winter, this year more than most. The reason for this variation? A pair of funerals that I attended over the past six weeks. The first was in late November. The second was today.

The deceased in these two instances had little in common with one another. The first was a college classmate of mine, an occasional reader of this blog who had suffered quietly with a chronic illness all his life. He was undergoing treatment to deal with this condition when he suffered a stroke that robbed him of the ability to move or speak without profound effort. He died a few days later. He was only a little older than I am.

The second was my aunt, my grandfather's sister, who had lived more than a century before succumbing to illness. She was the first of three members of my family to teach at Underwood High School (my grandmother was the second), and it was fascinating comparing my experiences in the classroom with the issues she faced decades earlier. Though her sight and hearing declined as she grew older, her mind remained sharp right until the end.

Two deaths. One male, one female. One a friend,  the other a relative. One who died too soon, one whose life exceeded the biblical threescore and ten by another score and a half...that is for those who are keeping score. Two deaths. Two memorial services. Two obituaries.

As a historian, I have a particular interest in obituaries and death notices. On multiple occasions, I have relied upon such materials as a source of biographical information when no other such records were readily available. The majority of us will fade into the background, melding into the white noise of eternity upon our passing. But for a handful there will be a published record, however brief, of who we were and where we lived, where we went to school and what we accomplished in our professional lives, who we loved and how we died. In a newspaper or online there will be some fleeting fragment of text that hints at the difference we made in the world, an affirmation that at one point or another there were people who cared about us. 

I have reflected upon my own hypothetical obituary before, but today I was thinking about those associated with the two cases outlined above and particularly what each of them omitted. My college friend's obituary called attention to his numerous educational achievements and his fledgling career as a sports journalist. It alluded to the cause of his death and listed his surviving family members. It did not mention the encyclopedic knowledge of trivia, both literary and pop cultural. It did not talk about his love of puns and video games. It did not mention his fundamental kindheartedness and decency or a leadership ability that I often wished I could emulate when I succeeded him as president of our college quiz bowl team.

The death notice for my aunt was even shorter, surprising given how long she lived. More than one hundred years of life and all it merited was a list of surviving relatives. No mention was made of her teaching career or her love of travel. There was no discussion of her linguistic ability, her close relationships with her brothers and sisters, or her passion for storytelling. She lived through two world wars and eighteen different presidents. She was alive when the Titanic sailed, the Spirit of St. Louis flew, and human beings walked on the moon. She was a witness to all of the transformative political and technological changes of the 20th century, but you would hardly know it from the paltry handful of sentences in her obituary.

These were both good people. They lived meaningful lives. In the years allotted to them, they laughed and loved, forged close bonds with friends and family, and in the end they will be remembered. The question that lingers for me, however, is whether or not there is a way to overcome the deficiencies of the standard obituary. The problems associated the genre are obvious. Unless one is a world leader, Nobel laureate, or celebrity, word limits automatically constrain people to report only the most pertinent details, distilling an entire life to a few sentences. In the process, what is lost are the details, the anecdotes and personality quirks that reveal an inner life beyond the external realities of education, job, career, and surviving family.

Is there any way to preserve those? I suspect not, at least within the constraints of a standard obituary. But at the very least, we can do our best to remember our fallen friends and loved ones and to tell their stories on our own terms. Write them down or just reminisce out loud, but do not forget. They deserve better than that.






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Monday, July 14, 2014

A Bastille Day Present 

Five months have passed since my last blog post, a nostalgic throwback to my days as a public school educator inspired by the blizzard-based cancellation of my recent university seminar. Since then a great deal has happened, both to me personally (e.g. I survived my semester of teaching and made progress on my book manuscript!) and the world at large (e.g. Russia invaded Ukraine, and the Malaysians lost an airplane!), and yet I chose not to remark on any of it.  Once again, I can only attribute this trend to the presence of other social media platforms and a recognition that compared to my previous life in the classroom, people simply are not as interested in the daily travails of an itinerant academic.

If that is the case, why am I breaking radio silence--if that is even the right term to use when talking about a blog--on this particular occasion? I suppose the answer to that question has something to do with a sense of obligation that I feel towards you, my loyal yet dwindling readership, and to myself, both now and in the future. Because today, the 14th of July, is my birthday, and every year since I staked out this little square of online real estate, I have taken it upon myself to jot down some wisdom that I have picked up during my most recent trip around the sun. Even if no one decides to read what I have to say, I would hate to break the tradition. At a bare minimum, it is a useful and constructive exercise to schedule some time for self-reflection. And who knows? Perhaps in a few years, I will want to get a sense of who I was in the summer of 2014, and this brief essay will provide at least a partial answer to that question.

On a professional level, not much has changed over the past year. There have been ups and downs, certainly, but I remain a postdoctoral researcher in the same institution that has employed me since defending my dissertation in 2011. I have also been able to maintain the same apartment, just a block away from my office, which guarantees that I will retain the shortest commute of anyone I know, at least for a little while. Most of my friendships here in the city are work-based, which can be something of a mixed blessing. Outside of work, I retain ties with the few people I still know around Old Ivy, but most of my peers have graduated and lately I have begun to feel a bit out of place, even at my biweekly pub quiz. In all likelihood, I will need to find a new social outlet a bit closer to home. Exactly what form that will take remains to be determined. Perhaps I can find a new extracurricular activity or find a more structured way to pursue some of my existing interests. Either way, that's something I would like to concentrate on during the coming year.

At the same time, I do not want to lose touch with friends who are further away. After all, I have no excuse. Compared to most of them, I am fortunate to have a relatively flexible work schedule. Moreover, unlike a growing number of my peers, I am neither married nor a parent. I am unattached, except for commitments that I have largely taken on of my own volition. So why is it that despite having numerous technologies at my disposal that enable instantaneous contact, I have found it so difficult to stay connected beyond the most superficial level? Sometimes I wonder if this centrifugal fracturing an inevitable part of growing older or if it merely feels that way due to my own actions. I would like to believe it is the latter, because it offers the possibility of change. And in the end, what could be more inspiring than the knowledge that even if life seems terrible that there are things we can do to make them better?

Whether or not I succeed in this endeavor over the course of the next year remains to be seen. For the present, however, I can at least make up for my recent stint of blogging inactivity by posting the overdue answers to this year's movie quote contest. This year's crop of quotations was trickier than most, so thanks to everyone who submitted guesses this time around. Our winner was none other than Ramblin' Dave, the only person on my blogroll who still posts updates from time to time. He will be receive our customary prize, an Invisible Trophy to place on his mantle.

Until next year, have a happy Bastille Day!


The 2014 Holiday Movie Quote Contest-ANSWERS
1. “Something familiar, something peculiar, something for everyone...a comedy tonight!”
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
 
2. “Did you ever hear the story of the old woman who shook her head at the family so much that one night it fell off? Right on the dinner table.”
Hans Christian Andersen
 
3. “You teach yourselves the law, but I train your minds. You come in here with a skull full of mush. You leave thinking like a lawyer.”
The Paper Chase
 
4. “Ain't a son of a bitch in the world has to know we're in that pool. We'd just be a few old farts paddlin' around in that pool. Who's gonna know?
Cocoon
 
5. “All my life I had to fight. I had to fight my daddy. I had to fight my uncles. I had to fight my brothers. A girl child ain't safe in a family of men, but I ain't never thought I'd have to fight in my own house.”
The Color Purple
 
6. “You don't know who I am. You don't know where I am. And you'll never see me coming.”
Iron Man 3
 
7. “You're a very nosy fellow, kitty cat. Huh? You know what happens to nosy fellows? Huh? No? Wanna guess? Huh? No? Okay. They lose their noses!”
Chinatown
 
8. “With my brains and your looks, we could go places!”
The Postman Always Rings Twice
 
9. “Don't eat the car! Not the car! Oh, what am I yelling at you for? You're a dog!"
Turner & Hooch
 
10. “You know what they used to call Alcatraz in the old days?
“What?”
“Bird Island.”
The Birdman of Alcatraz
 
11. “You've tricked and fooled you readers for years. You've tortured us all with surprise endings that made no sense. You've introduced characters in the last five pages that were never in the book before. You've withheld clues and information that made it impossible for us to guess who did it. But now the tables are turned!”
Murder by Death
 
12. “All I know is I have to catch an Austrian Airlines flight tomorrow morning at 9:30 and I don't really have enough money for a hotel, so I was just going to walk around, and it would be a lot more fun if you came with me.”
Before Sunrise
 
13. “Today, we are canceling the apocalypse!”
Pacific Rim
 
14. “Of course, I can get a hell of a good look at a T-bone steak by sticking my head up a bull's ass, but I'd rather take the butcher's word for it.”
Tommy Boy
 
15. “Listen to me, Mister! You're my knight in shining armor. Don't forget it. You're going to get back on that horse, and I'm going to be right behind you, holding on tight and away we're going to go, go, go!”
On Golden Pond
 
16. “Who expects a psychologist to think? Especially when you are so busy thinking what you think other people are thinking?”
Bedtime for Bonzo
 
17. “You can lose all your points for any one of three things. One: If you cry. Two: If you ask to see your mother. Three: If you're hungry and ask for a snack. Forget it!
Life is Beautiful
 
18. “Well, I'll hazard I can do more damage on my laptop sitting in my pajamas before my first cup of Earl Grey than you can do in a year in the field.”
Skyfall
 
19. It's like looking in a mirror. Only...not.
Face/Off
 
20. “We must get beyond passions, like a great work of art. In such miraculous harmony. We should love each other outside of time...detached.”
La Dolce Vita
 
21. “Hemingway did have one plot suggestion. He doesn't quite believe that the protagonist doesn't see that his fiancée is having an affair right before his eyes.”
Midnight in Paris
 
22. “When you give up your dream, you die.”
Flashdance
 
23. “Clang, clang, clang went the trolley. Ding, ding, ding went the bell. Zing, zing, zing went my heartstrings, as we started for Huntingdon dell.”
Meet Me in St. Louis
 
24. “You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!”
The Italian Job
 
25. “Mike, let me tell you something. The whole world is a circus if you know how to look at it. The way the sun goes down when you're tired, comes up when you want to be on the move. That's real magic.”
7 Faces of Dr. Lao
 
26. “Falling in love is a crazy thing to do. It's like a socially acceptable form of insanity.”
Her
 
27. “He was like a god walking amongst mere mortals. He had a voice that could make a wolverine purr and suits so fine they made Sinatra look like a hobo.”
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
 
28. “You stole your father's armor, ran away from home, impersonated a soldier, deceived your command officer, dishonored the Chinese Army, destroyed my palace, and...you have saved us all.”
Mulan
 
29. “His real name is Charles Lee Ray, and he's been sent down from heaven by Daddy to play with me.”
Child's Play

30. “There's no room for personal feelings in science, Judith!”
The Quatermass Xperiment
 
31. “This box is full of stuff that almost killed me.”
The Hurt Locker
 
32. “If something should happen to me, put on my suit. The reindeer will know what to do.”
The Santa Clause
 
33. “Inside the center my boys would be clean, and outside they'd be surrounded by the same rotten corruption and crime and criminals. Yes, yourself included.”
Angels With Dirty Faces

34.”Why did I take up stealing? To live better. To own things I couldn't afford. To acquire this good taste that you now enjoy and which I should be very reluctant to give up.”
To Catch a Thief
 
35. “I can't offer you a legally binding union. It won't hold up in the state, the county, or frankly, any courtroom in the world, due to your age, lack of a license, and failure to get parental consent. But the ritual does carry a very important moral weight within yourselves.”
Moonrise Kingdom
 
36. “It's better to help people than garden gnomes.”
Amelie
 
37. “I don't want to be rich and respectable. I want to be just like the rest of you.”
The Sons of Katie Elder
 
38. “I see. So what you're saying is that even though you are an almost-paralyzed, multiphobic personality who is in a constant state of panic, your wife did not leave you. You left her because she...liked Neil Diamond?”
What About Bob?
 
39. “Me, I'm gonna have more money than you ever thought you could have...you and all the rest of you stinkin' sons of...Benedicts!”
Giant
 
40. “The war started when people accepted the idiotic principle that peace could be maintained by arranging to defend themselves with weapons they couldn't possibly use without committing suicide.”
On the Beach
 
41. “Weigh anchor! How much does it weigh? I don't know...I forgot!”
Up in Smoke
 
42. “You just point the damned thing at Earth. It's not rocket science.”
Gravity
 
43. “I'm gonna find the guy who invented Xylocaine and kiss his ass on Hollywood and Vine!”
Hooper
 
44. “I'll give you the best performance you ever saw in hotel bedroom.”
Room Service
 
45. “Kowalski! We'll need to win the hearts and minds of the natives. Rico! We'll need special tactical equipment. We're gonna face extreme peril. Private probably won't survive.”
Madagascar
 
46. “As the good book says, if you spit in the air, it lands in your face.”
Fiddler on the Roof
 
47. “I'll do to you things that are beyond all known philosophies! Wait until I get my devices.”
Barbarella
 
48. “I have never seen blood crystals as anemic as these. They may be mental giants, but physically, by our standards, they must be very primitive.”
The War of the Worlds
 
49. “I was abducted into the Prussian army two years ago, and now have been put into your service by my Captain Potzdorf, and his uncle, the Minister of Police to serve as a watch upon your actions.”
Barry Lyndon
 
50. “I'll be back!”
Only in a rerun.”
The Running Man

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day Off 

Several years ago, I observed that there is only one group of people who enjoy having classes cancelled due to weather more than students: their teachers. When I was at Underwood, winter storms offered the tantalizing prospect of an unplanned vacation day. True, they could disrupt the unity of a week's lessons, but the chance to sleep in, catch up on grading or lesson planning, or maybe even do something *fun* on a weekday more than outweighed any potential pedagogical concerns.

Unfortunately, since leaving the thrill-packed world of public education for the even more exciting ivory tower, such opportunities have been few and far between. Much to the chagrin of their undergraduate and graduate students, universities do not, as a rule, close their doors due to inclement weather. When I was in college, classes were cancelled once during the course of four years, and that was due to a rather historic blizzard.

So when news came that a major nor'easter was set to arrive here in the city on Wednesday night, I assumed that the history seminar I'm teaching on Thursdays this semester would go on as scheduled. Even if I harbored hopes that the university administration would realize the transportation difficulties confronting members of the faculty, there was no way that I would be leaving the office without having everything in place for the next day. At the risk of indulging in unwarranted superstition, leaving my lessons unprepared would only serve to taunt the weather gods!

In this instance, I suppose I need not have worried. The university announced its closure before I went to bed on Wednesday night. With my office closed and class postponed, I decided to spend the day reading a book for fun, from cover to cover! Only after setting down my book did I check my work e-mail to discover that I had received an early Valentine's Day gift...another day off! Transit conditions were expected to be so bad by this morning that they preemptively closed the office for a second day!

The earliness of this decision was unprecedented this season. Indeed, this marks only the second closure in a season defined by record-breaking snows. Whether or not it was justified, I can't really say, since I don't regularly drive to work. Outside my windows, the sun was shining and people were beginning to dig out from the storm. Some of my colleagues likely went to the office, but for once I was not among them. Instead, I stayed here, caught up on some correspondence, and gathered my receipts in anticipation of filing my tax return.

It wasn't the most exciting Valentine's Day, but in its own quiet way, it has been a memorable one: the second day of a four-day weekend. Ironically, it would have been five days if I still were at Underwood. after all, aAcademics don't  generally take Presidents' Day off.




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Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Long Belated Answers to Long Forgotten Questions 

Happy 2014, Invisible Readership!

I know some of you are surprised to see me back again so soon, given how recently I posted the latest edition of my annual movie quote contest. Normally, I would withhold from posting a few weeks to give people sufficient time to identify this year's batch of cinematic bon mots. While that plan definitely holds for the 2013 contest, a friend (perennial contest winner Analecta) reminded me recently that in the midst of last year's perfect storm of job applications, undergraduate teaching, and academic research, I somehow forgot to post the answers for 2012!


So I'm going to take advantage of a spare moment on the coldest day in this fair city's history to thaw out last year's movie quote contest and provide the long delayed answers.

1. “May the odds be ever in your favor.”
The Hunger Games

2. “Aristotle was not Belgian, the principle of Buddhism is not 'every man for himself,' and the London Underground is not a political movement. Those are all mistakes, Otto. I looked them up.”
A Fish Called Wanda

3. “Of course, you won't be able to lie on your back for a while, but then you can lie from any position, can't you?”
Charade

4. “Can you keep a secret? I'm trying to organize a prison break. I'm looking for, like, an accomplice. We have to first get out of this bar, then the hotel, then the city, and then the country. Are you in or you out?”
Lost in Translation

5. “Reference department, Miss Blair. Oh, yes, we've looked that up for you, and there are certain poisons which leave no trace, but it's network policy not to mention them on our programs."
Desk Set

6. “A dream is a wish your heart makes when you're fast asleep. In dreams you will lose your heartaches. Whatever you wish for, you keep.”
Cinderella

7. “Honestly, Bill, that child hasn't got a clue about my life, not a single clue.”
Freaky Friday

8. “Wish you could see the headlines, 'British agent murders beautiful Russian spy, then commits suicide.'”
From Russia With Love

9. “I would have never done it, Lisbeth. But I understand why you did. I don't know what you have experienced. But I was about to die in that cellar, and you saved my life. Whatever you have seen, you don't need to tell me. I'm just happy that you're here.”
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

10. “You mean...I'm a...I'm a janitor?”
“Why of course not! My boy, you are a WB-1074 apprentice janitor!”
The Reluctant Astronaut

11. “Whoa, she's already got him! Now, let's see how long it takes her to hogtie this sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot. Five seconds! Just five seconds! And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen, five seconds for Miss Doralee Rhodes!”
Nine to Five

12. “Why a spoon, cousin? Why not an axe?”
“Because it's dull, you twit! It'll hurt more.”
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves 

13. “If you didn't see him... he's there.”
Danger: Diabolik!
 
14. “A hero can be anyone. Even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a little boy's shoulders to let him know that the world hadn't ended.”
The Dark Knight Rises
 
15. “It is my understanding that the Constitution of the United States allows everybody the free choice between cheesecake and strudel.” 
Guys and Dolls 

16. “I call them the Strangers. They abducted us and brought us here. This city, everyone in it, is their experiment.”
Dark City

17. “But I don't want to be miniaturized!”
“It's just for an hour.”
“Not even for a minute!”
Fantastic Voyage

18. “You will soon be a King, you must start to think like one. Any man can kill, only a King can give life!”
El Cid

19. “Oh, sir. I saw it! Some angry member of the kitchen staff, Did you not tip them? Oh, the terrorists! They ran that way. It was a run-by fruiting! I'll get them, sir. Don't worry.” 
Mrs. Doubtfire 

20. “I don't know my way home.”
“That's okay. I don't either.” 
Straw Dogs 

21. “I'm not sure George is wrong about automobiles. With all their speed forward they may be a step backward in civilization. May be that they won't add to the beauty of the world or the life of the men's souls, I'm not sure. But automobiles have come and almost all outwards things will be different because of what they bring.”
The Magnificent Ambersons

22. “They talk about flat-footed policemen. May the saints protect us from the gifted amateur.”
Dial M for Murder

23. “I'm having a rough time. As long as I was lying to her, everything was fine. The minute I decided to do the right thing and marry her, I've had troubles. You wouldn't believe the complications. It's like waltzing in wet cement.”
Cactus Flower

24. “Hate is a very exciting emotion. Haven't you noticed? Very exciting. I hate you too, Johnny. I hate you so much I think I'm going to die from it. Darling...I think I'm going to die from it.”
Gilda

25. “Even if this was not a law, which it is, I'm afraid I would have a lot of difficulty endorsing an enterprise which is as fraught with genuine peril as I believe this one to be. Besides the liquor and the drugs which always seem to accompany such an event the thing that distresses me even more, Ren, is the spiritual corruption that can be involved.”
Footloose

26. “I decided to come to camp, because I've never been much of a person. I thought maybe coming to camp would help me grow up, and maybe make me into a leader. I could use leadership qualities.”
“You could say that again, Chuck. You couldn't lead a dog on a leash.” 
Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown 

27. “One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don't know.”
Animal Crackers

28. “I taught some of the stupidest children God ever put on the face of this earth, and all of them could read well enough to find a name on a tombstone.” 
Driving Miss Daisy 

29. “I'd imagine the whole world was one big machine. Machines never come with any extra parts, you know. They always come with the exact amount they need. So I figured, if the entire world was one big machine, I couldn't be an extra part. I had to be here for some reason. And that means you have to be here for some reason, too.”
Hugo

30. “As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again.”
Gone With the Wind

31. “Fifty pounds! A very worthy sum on a very worthy question. Can a play show us the very truth and nature of love? I bear witness to the wager, and will be the judge of it as occasion arises. I have not seen anything to settle it yet.”
Shakespeare in Love 

32. “I'm an architect for Christ's sake! I build 50 story skyscrapers. I assemble cities of the future. I can certainly put together a goddamn diaper!” 
Three Men and a Baby 

33. “We're not so different, you and I. We've both spent our lives looking for the weakness in one another's systems. Don't you think it's time to recognize there is as little worth on your side as there is on mine?”
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy 

34. “I was 12 going on 13 the first time I saw a dead human being.”
Stand By Me

35. “Heterochromia was in reference to your eyes which I have to say are stunning. One green, one blue. It's a mutation. It's a very groovy mutation.”
X-Men: First Class

36. “I wish I knew how to quit you.”
Brokeback Mountain

37. “The most important thing to remember is: to protect your quarterback...ME!”
The Longest Yard

38. “A game-legged old man and a drunk. That's all you got?”
Rio Bravo 

39. “So of all the toys in the store you wanted a friend. If you want a friend, you don't buy a friend, Eric, you earn a friend through love and trust and respect.” 
The Toy 

40. “Define irony. Bunch of idiots dancing on a plane to a song made famous by a band that died in a plane crash.”
Con Air

41. “I catch you lookin' at my wife's 'Pongo Pygmaeus' once more, I'm gonna break you in half.”
Dunston Checks In 

42. “What's this for? For being an honest cop?...Or for being stupid enough to get shot in the face? You tell them that they can shove it."
Serpico 

43. “I'm applying for a villain loan. I go by Vector. It's a mathematical term, represented by an arrow with both direction and magnitude. Vector! That's me, because I commit crimes with both direction and magnituide. Oh yeah!” 
Despicable Me 

44. “Mary Anne, you listen to this. 'You didn't beat nobody and anybody who knows boxing knows the fight was fixed.' This one came from London. 'You call yourself the champ? You're a fake! The fight was a fake. Go kill yourself!'”
Rocky II

45. “Brace yourself, sisters. Spread out and look for Mary Clarence. Try to blend in.”
Sister Act

46. “Admirable, my Lord. You, who would soon rule the world, allow a ghost to frighten you.”
Throne of Blood

47. “Good job, guys. Let's just not come in tomorrow. Let's just take a day. Have you ever tried shawarma? There's a shawarma joint about two blocks from here. I don't know what it is, but I wanna try it.”
The Avengers
 
48. “Gentlemen of the court, there are times that I'm ashamed to be a member of the human race and this is one such occasion.”
Paths of Glory

49. “The same pictogram, showing men worshiping giant beings pointing to the stars was discovered at every last one of them. The only galactic system that matched, was so far from earth, that there's no way that these primitive ancient civilizations could have possibly known about. But it just so happens, that system has a sun, a lot like ours.”
Prometheus

50. “Marvin...what do we do now?”
The Candidate

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Monday, December 30, 2013

The Movie Quote Contest XI: The Contest's Little Secret 

Greetings from the far edge of 2013, fans of the Invisible Ben. Some of you may have thought that I abandoned this patch of virtual real estate given the absence of even one update since this blog's tenth anniversary a few months ago. In contrast to some of my previous unplanned sabbaticals, my silence was not due to a lack of noteworthy events. 

To the contrary, I've been keeping a rather busy schedule. Work-wise, manuscript revisions, curatorial responsibilities, and--as the new semester is nearly upon us--teaching plans, occupy my time. Otherwise, there have been trips to New England and the Midwest, including a Thanksgiving dinner with the Invisible Sister, as well as museum expeditions, holiday parties, and of course, the pub quiz. 

Somehow, with everything else going on in my life, blogging has slipped through the cracks. From what I can tell, my experience is somewhat typical of the first generation of personal bloggers. Poring once again over the Invisible Blogroll, it appears that only one of the websites listed has been updated in 2013 and only slightly more recently than my last post. (Keep up the good fight, Ramblin' Dave!) Is this the result of the increasing availability of new social media platforms, the Facebooks and Twitters that enable us to stay connected and share media without as much effort or reflection? Or are those of us who took up blogging during--or in my case, slightly after--getting to a point in our lives where the notion of maintaining a personal blog seems intrusive or narcissistic?

Obviously, I can't speak for anyone else's motivations. People could stop blogging for any number of reasons, and perhaps eventually that will be the case for me. I confess, there would be something rather poetic about wrapping things up with my final post, exactly ten years after I started leaving these little notes here for you to find. But occasionally I do find myself with something worthwhile to say, so for now at least the tales of this invisible blogger will continue, albeit at their current, somewhat sporadic, pace.


Now some of you may be wondering what happened to the blog's annual holiday movie quote contest. Well, never fear...I did find time to whip something up, just not in time for any solstice-related celebrations. Still, it's often said that the start of a new year is a cause for celebration, so without any further ado, I'm pleased to present the eleventh (!) incarnation of the Holiday Movie Quote Contest.

The rules remain the same as ever. Below you will find 50 quotations from 50 different movies. Identify as many as you can in the comments below. The winner will receive an Invisible Trophy to decorate their mantlepiece.

Enjoy, and I'll catch up with you again in 2014!



 
The Holiday Movie Quote Contest
1. “Something familiar, something peculiar, something for everyone...a comedy tonight!”

2. “Did you ever hear the story of the old woman who shook her head at the family so much that one night it fell off? Right on the dinner table.”

3. “You teach yourselves the law, but I train your minds. You come in here with a skull full of mush. You leave thinking like a lawyer.”

4. “Ain't a son of a bitch in the world has to know we're in that pool. We'd just be a few old farts paddlin' around in that pool. Who's gonna know?

5. “All my life I had to fight. I had to fight my daddy. I had to fight my uncles. I had to fight my brothers. A girl child ain't safe in a family of men, but I ain't never thought I'd have to fight in my own house.”

6. “You don't know who I am. You don't know where I am. And you'll never see me coming.”

7. “You're a very nosy fellow, kitty cat. Huh? You know what happens to nosy fellows? Huh? No? Wanna guess? Huh? No? Okay. They lose their noses!”

8. “With my brains and your looks, we could go places!”

9. “Don't eat the car! Not the car! Oh, what am I yelling at you for? you're a dog!

10. “You know what they used to call Alcatraz in the old days?
“What?”
“Bird Island.”

11. “You've tricked and fooled you readers for years. You've tortured us all with surprise endings that made no sense. You've introduced characters in the last five pages that were never in the book before. You've withheld clues and information that made it impossible for us to guess who did it. But now the tables are turned!”

12. “All I know is I have to catch an Austrian Airlines flight tomorrow morning at 9:30 and I don't really have enough money for a hotel, so I was just going to walk around, and it would be a lot more fun if you came with me.”

13. “Today, we are canceling the apocalypse!”

14. “Of course, I can get a hell of a good look at a T-bone steak by sticking my head up a bull's ass, but I'd rather take the butcher's word for it.”

15. “Listen to me, Mister! You're my knight in shining armor. Don't forget it. You're going to get back on that horse, and I'm going to be right behind you, holding on tight and away we're going to go, go, go!”

16. “Who expects a psychologist to think? Especially when you are so busy thinking what you think other people are thinking?”

17. “You can lose all your points for any one of three things. One: If you cry. Two: If you ask to see your mother. Three: If you're hungry and ask for a snack. Forget it!

18. “Well, I'll hazard I can do more damage on my laptop sitting in my pajamas before my first cup of Earl Grey than you can do in a year in the field.”

19. It's like looking in a mirror. Only...not.

20. “We must get beyond passions, like a great work of art. In such miraculous harmony. We should love each other outside of time...detached.”

21. “Hemingway did have one plot suggestion. He doesn't quite believe that the protagonist doesn't see that his fiancée is having an affair right before his eyes.”

22. “When you give up your dream, you die.”

23. “Clang, clang, clang went the trolley. Ding, ding, ding went the bell. Zing, zing, zing went my heartstrings, as we started for Huntingdon dell.”

24. “You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!”

25. “Mike, let me tell you something. The whole world is a circus if you know how to look at it. The way the sun goes down when you're tired, comes up when you want to be on the move. That's real magic.”

26. “Falling in love is a crazy thing to do. It's like a socially acceptable form of insanity.”

27. “He was like a god walking amongst mere mortals. He had a voice that could make a wolverine purr and suits so fine they made Sinatra look like a hobo.”

28. “You stole your father's armor, ran away from home, impersonated a soldier, deceived your command officer, dishonored the Chinese Army, destroyed my palace, and...you have saved us all.”

29. “His real name is Charles Lee Ray, and he's been sent down from heaven by Daddy to play with me.”

30. “There's no room for personal feelings in science, Judith!”

31. “This box is full of stuff that almost killed me.”

32. “If something should happen to me, put on my suit. The reindeer will know what to do.”

33. “Inside the center my boys would be clean, and outside they'd be surrounded by the same rotten corruption and crime and criminals. Yes, yourself included.”

34.”Why did I take up stealing? To live better. To own things I couldn't afford. To acquire this good taste that you now enjoy and which I should be very reluctant to give up.”

35. “I can't offer you a legally binding union. It won't hold up in the state, the county, or frankly, any courtroom in the world, due to your age, lack of a license, and failure to get parental consent. But the ritual does carry a very important moral weight within yourselves.”

36. “It's better to help people than garden gnomes.”

37. “I don't want to be rich and respectable. I want to be just like the rest of you.”

38. “I see. So what you're saying is that even though you are an almost-paralyzed, multiphobic personality who is in a constant state of panic, your wife did not leave you. You left her because she...liked Neil Diamond?”

39. “Me, I'm gonna have more money than you ever thought you could have...you and all the rest of you stinkin' sons of...Benedicts!”

40. “The war started when people accepted the idiotic principle that peace could be maintained by arranging to defend themselves with weapons they couldn't possibly use without committing suicide.”

41. “Weigh anchor! How much does it weigh? I don't know...I forgot!”

42. “You just point the damned thing at Earth. It's not rocket science.”

43. “I'm gonna find the guy who invented Xylocaine and kiss his ass on Hollywood and Vine!”

44. “I'll give you the best performance you ever saw in hotel bedroom.”

45. “Kowalski! We'll need to win the hearts and minds of the natives. Rico! We'll need special tactical equipment. We're gonna face extreme peril. Private probably won't survive.”

46. “As the good book says, if you spit in the air, it lands in your face.”

47. “I'll do to you things that are beyond all known philosophies! Wait until I get my devices.”

48. “I have never seen blood crystals as anemic as these. They may be mental giants, but physically, by our standards, they must be very primitive.”

49. “I was abducted into the Prussian army two years ago, and now have been put into your service by my Captain Potzdorf, and his uncle, the Minister of Police to serve as a watch upon your actions.”

50. “I'll be back!”
Only in a rerun.”

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