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Hyperion January 16, 2003
The Hyperion Chronicles
“Now with intellectual verve”

#87 Potpourri, Volume X

There is nothing cooler than going on record with a correct prediction way before it happens. How many people do you know who hear a singer on the radio and tell you they’ve been fans since back in the day, or after a Jeopardy answer is revealed claim that that’s what they were thinking. For me, it’s always hard not to be suspicious in such circumstances. That’s why going on record is so great. That way, when it hits big, or the answer is revealed, or the guy rushes for 24 touchdowns, or whatever, you get the credit. It’s almost as good as if you did it yourself! As a bonus, people tend to remember your successes and not your failures. (This is how psychics Eddie Murphy make their money)

I don’t understand those hair club commercials. If the goal is to fool everybody into making us think you they hair, why go on TV and show their Before picture? Can somebody explain this to me?

My friend Bear has been bugging me about this for years, so I finally agreed to bring it up. He thinks fastly should be a word. He points out we have quickly, slowly, rapidly, ponderously, etc., and there is no reason not to have fastly as a word. So, I put it to you, my Reading Rabble: is there any reason why fastly should not would not could not be a word? Let them speak now, or I’m calling in a favor that Noah Webster owes me and getting this word in the dictionary. I knew dating his sister would pay off one day.

I wrote recently about these questions I heard James Lipton ask at the end of his show, Inside the Actor’s Studio. I have since done some research and found out that the questions Lipton asks the actors and directors who appear on his show come from a famous French journalist (I know, I know, but the French can’t be bad at everything!) named Bernard Pivot. The questions are short, insightful, and give a quick little peek into the mind of someone, at least at that moment. If you want to see what the actors said, go here and click on the Bernard Pivot link at the bottom:

For the rest of you, I have listed the questions below. The questions are a fun icebreaker at parties or on a date. The only thing I would caution you is not to put too much stock in them. I have tried to answer the questions every time I’ve asked people, and I come up with different answers each attempt. Then again, I suppose you could argue that says something about me.

Bernard Pivot questions

What is your favorite word?

What is your least favorite word?

What turns you on?

What turns you off?

What sound do you love?

What sound do you hate?

What is your favorite curse word?

What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?

What profession would you not like to participate in?

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

I was watching The West Wing last night, an episode featuring a character whose father had Alzheimer’s; otherwise known as “The Long Goodbye.” I surprised myself by becoming very emotional while watching. I wasn’t sure why this story affected me the way it did. Then, I thought about it. Recently I had some surgeries that affected my short-term memory. I know a little bit of what it’s like to forget things, to not know what’s going on. It’s an awful feeling. I don’t know how someone could live with it continually.

Last summer I journeyed to Ohio to see my mother play at a camp, and I got to see several of my other relatives I didn’t really know. One was my mother’s aunt Hope, whom I’ve heard nothing but how intelligent and independent she was. It was sad for me to see this woman forget my name and a thousand other little things again and again and again. I felt helpless and impotent to help her, and couldn’t imagine having to live year after year with this slow decline in mental faculties. What kind of life would that be? What kind of happiness could there be in being reduced to a child? I don’t understand it. I wish I did.

In happier news, can somebody tell me if there is a law against naming your kids after horrible people like Adolf Hitler Smith or Barbra Streisand Jones?

Another thing that has been brought to my attention recently, by my friend “Bruce,” is that we are now in 2003, and we still don’t have a name for this decade. Good people of Earth (and Michigan), this cannot continue. The 20s through the 90s have built in names (I hate those smug decades), and I suppose the 10s will get by being called the Teens, but what to call now? It has been proposed we pick the 2000s, but this seems ungainly. I’ve even heard the Oughties, because Ought means 00 (think Double-Ought-Six rifles). Of course, Ought is short for Naught, so maybe the Naughties would be better. I don’t know. But we need something, and right soon. Please share your thoughts, my dear Reading Rabble.

Good Advice for the day: Never write an email when you’re pissed off. You may want to, so bad you can taste it. You may be afraid that if you wait and calm down you won’t write the note. Well, that’s a good thing. Make it a policy, whenever you find yourself in a temper over something, and itching to write a nasty self-righteous email, not to write the letter then, but go do something else. If, after a time, you come back, and you’re still upset, well, it’s probably a good idea to express it. But, at the very least, you will be better able to compose your thoughts and write clearly. And, it’s possible you misunderstood the letter or conversation you’re mad about, and thinking about it gives you time to reflect and realize where the problem is. You also could possibly protect yourself from saying something you’ll regret later. Write this down kids; I don’t plan on giving anything but bad advice for a while.

The new phone books came the other day, which is always a fun time. We have a tradition in my house that whomever gets to them first triumphantly writes on them “I wrote first!” in big letters on the cover. Quite a status symbol, much like owning a Cadillac. The only problems with the new phone books is that I’ve spent the last few months circling phone numbers in the book, writing numbers in the margin, and decorating the front and back covers while having long conversations on the phone. The phone books are imbued with history, you know? And it’s tough to just give them up. I thought of transferring all my circles and margin notes, but I said that last year and the year before. I’m still using 1999 phone books, simply because I can’t bear to give up the knowledge and history. I can’t tell if my sentimentality is deep or just silly. Maybe, like all good things, a bit of both.

Finally, this guy I know named “Troll” is kind of a savant. Most of what he says I attribute to him being used as a dodge ball the first few years of his life. Every once in a while, though, he comes through. The other day Troll said to me, out of the blue, “Women are like cars: the more you are around and drive them, the better car you want.” This seemed inane at first, but the more I thought about it, the more wisdom I saw. Think about it: when you’re younger, you just want a car, any car, and you don’t care how many miles it has on it or how big and cumbersome it is (in fact, often, these are the best cars to learn on). Then for a while, you want your car to look good, and purr under the hood. (Some men never get over this stage, and some men, when they’re older an successful, again want a car that will corner great and look fantastic) Most men, though, as they get older start to care about other things. Yeah, they want the car to look nice, but they want good tires and other standard safety equipment. They want a car that will run for a lot of miles. A great warranty is essential, and while a nice looking car is great, you need a car with lots of room in the trunk, a great stereo, and plenty of headroom. Of course, good headlights are always a plus.

And, since I can’t think of anything to write more appalling than that, I bid you farewell, ‘till we meet again.

January 16, 2003


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