Sarah Silverman: "Nothing’s more attractive than an unending monologue about your shortcomings."
Carolyn Hax: "Sometimes surrendering to the awful is more useful than fighting it."
Graham Joyce: "why can’t our job here on earth be simply to inspire each other?"
Dan Harmon: "I believe in magic. I believe in mythology. I believe in shamanism. I believe that spells can be cast and I believe that random things coalesce and reveal themselves to be part of a plan we don’t control, you know."
Nora Ephron: "Never turn down a front-row seat for human folly."
McAlvie "The ultimate downfall of modern civilization won't be war; it'll be Twitter and Facebook."
Jenny Zhang: "A lot of writers swear by routine, but I swear by chaos. There’s enough fucking routine in my life. Every day I have to brush my teeth. Every day I have to smile at strangers. Every day I have to worry about money. Every day I want something I can’t have. Every day I find some way to go on! I know that writing every day for an hour would help me tremendously with writer’s block, but I also know that I need an element of wildness in my writing. I need to know that writing is something I do because it sets me free. It makes me feel golden with confidence. It gives me the gift of gab. I feel like a god. I feel like an entertainer. So write when you damn well please."
Joe Queenan: "If you have read 6,000 books in your lifetime, or even 600, it's probably because at some level you find "reality" a bit of a disappointment. People in the 19th century fell in love with "Ivanhoe" and "The Count of Monte Cristo" because they loathed the age they were living through. Women in our own era read "Pride and Prejudice" and "Jane Eyre" and even "The Bridges of Madison County"—a dimwit, hayseed reworking of "Madame Bovary"—because they imagine how much happier they would be if their husbands did not spend quite so much time with their drunken, illiterate golf buddies down at Myrtle Beach. A blind bigamist nobleman with a ruined castle and an insane, incinerated first wife beats those losers any day of the week. Blind, two-timing noblemen never wear belted shorts."
LogicalDash: "Nobody of any age should have to fend off sexual partners. That such defense is assumed as a part of the cost of adult courtship is suggestive of some more fundamental problem than age difference and its effect on consensuality."
Keith Richards: "I had to invent the job, you know," he said, earlier. "There wasn't a sign in the shop window, saying, "Wanted: Keith Richards."
Caitlin Moran: "As I started to reassess my writing style, I thought about what I liked doing--what gave me satisfaction--and realized the primary one was just... pointing at things. Pointing out things I liked, and showing them to other people--like a mum shouting, "Look! Moo-cows!" as a train rushes past a farm. I liked pointing at things, and I liked being reasonable and polite about stuff. Or silly. Silly was very, very good. No one ever got hurt by silly.
Best of all was being pointedly silly about serious things: politics, repression, bigotry. Too many commentators are quick to accuse their enemies of being evil. It's far, far more effective to point out that they're acting like idiots, instead. I was up for idiot-revealing.
"I am just going to be polite and silly, and point at cool things," I decided. "When I started writing, I would have killed to have one thing to write about. Now, I have three. Politeness and silliness, and pointing. That's enough."
Carolyn Hax: "Unless 15 years’ worth of mail has misled me, no one has ever found love through complaining about the lack of it, and no lonely person has ever felt better for hearing, “You just haven’t found the right person yet.”
David Simon: "Change is a motherfucker when you run from it."
Joe Queenan: "People who read an enormous number of books are basically dissatisfied with the way things are going on this planet. And I think, in a way, people read for the same reason that kids play video games ... they like that world better. It works better, it's more exciting, and it usually has a more satisfactory ending."
Dan Savage: "There isn't someone for everyone. Some of us do wind up alone, and that just fucking sucks and sometimes that stings, and you don't know if you're one of those people who's going to wind up alone until you die alone....So you kind of have to live in hope and build a life for yourself that's rewarding and fun, has friends and pleasure in it, whether you're alone or not."
the painkiller: "I will not be tagged, pinned, circled, liked, tweeted, retweeted or numbered."
Steve Jobs: "Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.
Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
Apple: "Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."
Miss Manners: "Please do not -- repeat, not -- make a hostile approach to knitters. Have you not noticed that they are armed with long, pointy sticks?"
Stephen Tobolowsky: "And of course, nothing is what I figured on in my life. That seems to be a recurring theme."
James Bulls: "When you find yourself walking a true path, you will know it because you will want to walk it no matter the burning Sun, freezing sleet, torrential rain, and treacherous ground. The risks become no less and the journey as always exhausts you, but your desire to brave the challenges never diminishes."
Amy Argetsinger: "Twitter is a disease, plain and simple. It makes people insane. A decade from now I expect the CDC and FDA will be issuing warnings."
Cary Tennis: "You don't have to "move on" either. Not until you're ready. People say, Oh, you should be grateful. They say, Oh, it's time for you to move on. I'm like, What are you, a cop with a nightstick? I'll move on when I'm done playing the blues on my harmonica, thank you very much."
Mark Morford: "It is 2011 and here is what we know: Reality is fluid, fact is malleable, cause and effect completely uncertain. We know what we don't know, but we also know the opposite."
Charlie Jane Anders: "Just remember, if you flinch from your destiny, you'll never achieve your true greatness — you didn't choose to be chosen, but being chosen means you have to choose."
Roger Ebert: "To put it bluntly, I believe the world is patriarchal because men are bigger and stronger than women, and can beat them up."
Myca: "Jesus is not the reason for the season, and there's no way I need to act like he is. Christmas is a stolen tradition. There's no reason we can't steal it back."
Lady Gaga: "I hate the holidays! I'm alone and miserable, you fucking dumb bit of toy!"
Dianna Agron: "I am trying to live my life with a sharpie marker approach. You can’t erase the strokes you’ve made, but each step is much bolder and more deliberate."
John Mayer: "It occurred to me that since the invocation of Twitter, nobody who has participated in it has created any lasting art. And yes! Yours truly is included in that roundup as well. Let me make sure that statement is as absolute and irrevocable as possible by buzzing your tower one more time: no artwork created by someone with a healthy grasp of social media thus far has proven to be anything other than disposable."
Vanessa, Something Positive: "I like 'em crazy. You hear insane rants, I hear a reminder that the sex is interesting. Oooh! Hear that? Tonight's gonna tingle."
Anonymous: “Your problem is that you want to be an artist. What you need to be is an artisan.”
Sugar: "Ask better questions, sweet pea. The fuck is your life. Answer it."
Wide Lawns: "Often very odd things happen to me. Usually they are not my fault and mostly beyond my control."
Anonymous reporter: “When weird shit happens around here, weird shit really happens around here.”
Anne Johnson: "Today some stranger sent me an email that said, "You are a nut case." Well, I must admit this never would have occurred to me. Everyone else is a nut case. I'm the sane one. I think."
Carl Mayer: "Whenever I start to feel like my life isn’t where I want it to be, “Cops” is there to put everything into perspective. Yeah, I haven’t made all the right moves over the last 34 years, but I’m not hiding from the police under a kiddie pool, either."
John Scalzi: "In retrospect, it’s a little weird to think that my entire future was falling into place as I obliviously tucked into the El Presidente chimichanga platter, but of course, that’s life for you — the most important days of your existence don’t always announce themselves in obvious ways."
Tart and Soul: "Indeed, love comes whether we have braced ourselves for it or not. But commitment offers a choice, tapping us on the shoulder to say, “sorry to bother you. Is this a good time?”
“I’m unbaked cookie dough,” Buffy said, of why she wasn’t ready for a “grown-up” relationship. Girl, you can decide you’re not ready to “settle down,” whatever that means. You do you, you know? But you’re not fucking “unbaked”—you’ve survived your mother’s death, died twice yourself, literally battled demons, saved the world, and loved and lost multiple times over. When, exactly, would you consider yourself “fully baked”?
One is never not oneself, and yet that self is also constantly changing, recalibrating, growing, shrinking, evolving, as it comes into contact with people and experiences that assert their unique effect on it. So yes, you could wait to “see what you’ll become,” but that could be true of the relationship between any one moment and any other moment in the future. And sure, if you want to have time to figure out your career without the burdens of being beholden to another person, or save money before you start having children, or just be on your own because that’s what you think you need, those are legitimate logistical and emotional concerns, but to presume that you are less full a person now than you will be at some later date seems to undermine everyone’s humanity, or place people who have either age or a determined list of “growth-oriented” experiences under their belt in some higher category of personhood than others. Which is also not to say that years and experiences do nothing to enrich (or even sometimes, unfortunately, to damage) the self, but only to say that the self is just as “self” at any instantaneous moment, and that time and experience act on the self in unexpected and interesting ways, yes, but not in some linear, predictable way that will result in a recognizable moment of having “become” oneself after which it’s all just living as that actualized self until you die. How very boring.
I’m not here to give life advice—please wait as long as you’d like to get married or move abroad or take a desk job or whatever. Or never do any of those things—there’s no “right way” to live a “good” life. But never believe the lie that you need to “become yourself.” You are already yourself. Which doesn’t negate the fact that every experience you have and every choice you do make—even and sometimes especially the “little” ones—isn’t transforming you. Marriage transforms; so does living alone; so does the death of your first pet, and hearing your parents fight for the first time, and, I don’t know, stumbling across a field of lavender. Just as some improv scenes are “important” because they’re the day he asks for a divorce, the day she gets the promotion, the day the apocalypse begins, some improv scenes are important not because they are “big,” but because of how a seemingly mundane scenario impacts the characters, reveals their strengths or weaknesses, asks them to confront some long-held prejudice or long-harbored fear.
And if we wait for those moments to seem “important”—on stage or in life—or wait to feel more “ready” by some arbitrary clock that claims we’re grown or ready rather than by our own internal belief in the fullness of our self and all of our experiences—we keep looking out toward the horizon of some imagined future self that falls away from us as we approach it, and never see ourselves, or the people in front of us, for the full, flawed, messy, beautiful people that we are now. And now. And now."
"This is Natasha’s entire argument to Bruce. The sterilization story is part of this. Yes, she was forcibly sterilized and yes, she knows that picket fences and kids aren’t in her future. But so the fuck what? You can still bone Mark Ruffalo! Natasha rejects the extreme views of Steve and Roger, instead believing that it’s possible to have a life that both has Avenger work and love in it.
However, there are a man and a woman out in front of the theater, dressed as Captain America and Black Widow, taking pictures with anyone coming in, so I chat with them for a moment. The woman, Kelly Perez, is enthusiastic and vivacious, an ace cosplayer of four years who agreed to appear because she’s friends with the manager here. She is not attending the marathon, and I cannot blame her, after seeing how some of the male attendees interact with her. Our Captain America is a guy named Luis, who is attending the marathon, and is assuredly not a regular cosplayer. “I actually got this [outfit] to put on a dummy, and it’s my first time wearing it,” he tells me. “It’s very snug.” He will wear his outfit the entire time, and after hearing how it makes him sweat, I am glad I’m sitting nowhere near him.
Here’s another fact you need to know, for events later on to make sense: I have a heart condition that makes it impossible for me to have caffeine, or stimulants of any kind, really, unless I don’t want my heart to work any more. As a result, I’m not so good with staying up super late, or functioning on less than five or six hours of sleep a night. This means future employers don’t have to worry about the possibility of my developing a cocaine habit, but it also means that I will not, for example, get to join in the mass coffee exodus that will happen tomorrow morning after the first Avengers movie ends. So I fear for my staying-awake skills.
There are hosts for our event, employees of AMC who are there to answer questions, maintain our enthusiasm in between films by hosting trivia giveaways, and to indulge in all the worst responsibilities of contemporary social-media-based requirements. For example, we are encouraged throughout the night to tweet, Instagram, and Facebook our experience, all with the requisite hashtags, of course, and are actually chided when our hosts feel there has been an inadequate amount of said hashtagging.
I do want to note that I’m still discovering new things in these films. I never really realized before that the secret hero of the first film is Pepper—she’s the one who kills the bad guy and generally does everything right, something the third film makes explicit by making her the final hero.
“Come on! You’re not excited?” says one host, demanding more cheers. Shut up, dude, it’s 1 a.m. Happily, he soon abandons this effort, and instead the theater starts playing surround-sound test noises. Loudly. Like, nature sounds. It’s confounding. Are they testing our reflexes? Are we supposed to collectively turn our heads to follow the animal sounds around the room? I swear to God AMC is fucking with us. Or maybe they’re punishing us for not hashtagging enough?
This marathon isn’t just a series of films; it’s a massive experiment in hypnotherapy via sleep-prevention technology. Maybe there’s something in the pretzel bites? These are the kind of thoughts that make honest-to-god sense to me as the credits roll at 7:49 a.m., and there’s some disturbing scrawls in an Iron Man notebook to prove it.
I do my best to take a short nap, sprawling out across three seats, a deeply uncomfortable position made more so by the bright lights and the people having a loud debate a few rows over regarding whether Ant-Man will eventually become an Avenger in time for the Infinity Wars movies. Shut up, nerds, I think, wearily, as I remember having spent 30 minutes internally debating myself a few weeks ago about that same question.
The trivia sessions have now become a marathon unto themselves, as our cranky ambivalence has resolved into something resembling angry capitulation to our hosts’ whims. You want us to shout? We’ll fucking shout. We will slice our wrists open to get a damn extra-large T-shirt at this point. He takes suggestions for the next prize, and I offer to snap a child’s neck in exchange for a $10 gift card. My neighbors feel this is a reasonable suggestion."
"I have made my first mistake of the evening: not purchasing the refillable Avengers mega-cup. They've sold out, much to the chagrin of some of the patrons, and instead I've purchased just a large soda to go along with my dinner.
I met recent med school graduate Samuel who flew in from Virginia Beach for the marathon and discussed strategies for when to sleep without missing the action. At this point, he's planning on napping during our next film, Thor, but for now I'm going to try and sally forth. If any film could possibly render me unconscious, it's Thor.
I will say that hygiene has been a big part of the event. People are changing shirts, brushing teeth, reapplying deodorant, and doing generally whatever they have to do to remain funk free. Granted we've only been here a day, but this could have gotten really funky, really quickly. As for me, while some of the signs of exhaustion have departed, I'm starting to get a little nervous. Two of my fingers on my left hand are twitching uncontrollably. Focusing on stopping the movement seems to work, but if I turn my attention back to the films, it isn't long before the twitching starts again."
Lois McMaster Bujold: Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen Reviewed February 8. (****)
Annette Gordon-Reed: The Hemingses of Monticello Reviewed February 15. (***)
Marie Brennan: A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir By Lady Trent Reviewed February 12. (****)
Meljean Brook: Riveted Reviewed February 11. (****)
Steven Brust: Sethra Lavode Reviewed February 10. (****)
Steven Brust: The Lord of Castle Black Reviewed February 9. (****)
Steven Brust: The Paths of the Dead Reviewed February 8. (***)
Augusten Burroughs: This Is How: Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More. For Young and Old Alike. Reviewed January 27. (*****)
Gabrielle Oettingen: Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside The New Science of Motivation Reviewed January 26. (****)
Seanan McGuire: Indexing: Reflections: all chapter reviews Reviewed January 14. (****)
Michael Signer: Becoming Madison: The Extraordinary Origins of the Least Likely Founding Father Reviewed January 26. (***)
Seanan McGuire: Indexing: Reflections: Episode 24: Never After Reviewed January 12. (****)
Wildbow: Worm: Gestation 1.6 Reviewed January 21. (****)
Wildbow: Worm: Gestation 1.5 Reviewed January 20. (***)
Wildbow: Worm: Gestation 1.4 Reviewed January 19. (**)
Wildbow: Worm: Gestation 1.3 Reviewed January 18. (***)
Wildbow: Worm: Gestation 1.2 Reviewed January 15. (***)
David McCullough: John Adams Reviewed January 14. (****)
Elle Kennedy: The Deal Reviewed January 13. (****)
Rachel Schurig: Escape In You Reviewed January 12. (****)
Rachel Schurig: Relent (Ransom Series Book 4) Reviewed January 11. (****)
Rachel Schurig: Redeem (Ransom Series Book 3) Reviewed January 8. (****)
Rachel Schurig: Release (Ransom Series Book 2) Reviewed January 7. (****)