Monday, June 19, 2006

Shameless theft!

Yup, the inspiration for today's post I have shamelessly stolen from everyone's favourite dangerous academic Michael Berube. Last friday he posted on little things -- little things that make life worth living, specifically with regard to "human expressive culture," i.e. books, movies, music, etc ... those moments that you never get tired of, a particular chord or downbeat in a song, a character's expression at a key moment, a line from a book that you read over and over.

Being the lover of arbitrary and obscure lists that I am, this had me thinking all weekend, with the following thoughts (in no particular order).

Little things I love:

Judi Dench's eyebrows in Shakespeare in Love -- especially when her Queen Elizabeth makes a sharp little joke at Wessex's (Colin Firth's) expense.

The piano bits in Just Like Heaven by The Cure.

CJ: I need you to pardon a turkey.
Bartlet: Didn’t I pardon a turkey yesterday?
CJ: This is a different turkey.
Bartlet: I’m not going to get a reputation for being soft on tukeys?

John Goodman in The Big Lebowski holding forth on the moral bankruptcy of nihilism.

The bit at the beginning of "Vertigo" where Bono says "Turn it up there, captain."

Peter Sellers as the president in Dr. Strangelove, on the phone to the Russian premier, telling him that an air force colonel has just ordered his bombers to attack their targets: "Well, I’ll tell you what he did. He ordered his planes… to attack your country… Ah… Well, let me finish, Dmitri… Let me finish, Dmitri...”

There are way too many on the Simpsons to list, but here's one of my faves, Homer realizing that Marge has a gambling problem: "Kids, your mother has been possessed by a monster. A gambling monster! I call him GAMBLOR!"

Ian McKellen in Richard III: "I'm not made of stone." (You have to see it to understand why it's brilliant)

More Sir Ian: in LOTR, "A wizard is never late, Mr. Frodo ..."

Stephen Baldwin in The Usual Suspects, set up on a roof with a sniper rifle and counting off all the people he's about to shoot: "Oswald was a pussy!"

That little guitar flourish and pause toward the end of “Buddy Holly” by Weezer ... it's especially great while running, coming down hard on my stride as the music crashes in again.


I could go on ... too much fun. Anyway, I want to hear other people's lists: especially those who read this blog and never comment! And as the good Dr. Berube stipulates in his original, this is little things: as he states, "You can’t cheat and say, 'Der Ring des Nibelungen always does it for me, personally' or 'I find myself turning once again to the Chorus’s "Wonders are many, and none is more wonderful than man’ speech in Antigone".' Little things. The sillier the better.

7 comments:

Swain said...

Here's mine:

So many Cartmanisms, but to narrow it down to one, it would be Cartman wailing after being hit by Kyle.

Inigo Montoya and Fezzik rhyming.

"Look Out, Here Comes The Deus Ex Machina" in Stephen King's The Dark Tower.

The climactic scene in Sleepaway Camp.

Matthew McConnaughey's Wooderson on why he loves high school girls in Dazed & Confused.

Paul Martin on Corner Gas.

Eddie Vedder staying quiet and letting the crowd sing "Black" on the Benaroya Hall performance.

That brief moment between the start of a wrestler's theme music, and the crowd reaction.

The blooper of Dave Grohl doing a MuchMusic promo where he identifies himself as "Dave from Nirv...Foo Fighters."

So many Sports Night moments (which I bet you haven't watched yet), but I'll leave you with this speech on poker & love.
Natalie Hurley: How do you know I don't have a big house?
Jeremy Goodwin: A FULL house. Dan already folded the six you needed, and I have the other one. You don't have a house of any sort, you don't even have a pup tent. You've got trip sevens, and I have a straight. I want you to trust me right now. I want you to say to yourself, yeah, I've dated a string of jerks in my life, they were stupid, they were mean to me, but maybe this one's different. Maybe I should take a chance and not adopt the break-up-with-him-before-he-breaks-my-heart strategy. I want you to remember that when I started liking you, I didn't stop liking tennis. And I want you to know that I don' t think there's a woman in the world that you need to be threatened by, no matter how glamorous you think she is. But mostly, I want you to trust me, just once, when I tell you, you have three sevens, and I have a straight.

I lied, I'll leave you with this one.

Casey McCall: Hey, you're talking about the woman whose first date with me I'm planning.
[beat]
Casey McCall: That was some pretty interesting grammar.

Lesley said...

My mind is a sieve. I can't think of anything. And the only thing I might want to say is probably not related. And that would be: the anthem at Saturday night's Oilers game. When the singer held up the mike and let the fans complete the song. Gotta love the sounds of Oh Canada from an arena full of Canadian hockey fans. Almost as good as the anthem being sung at the end of the gold medal game in Salt Lake in 2002...

jer said...

Some little epiphanies off the top o'my head:

- "the sky flew off like the hat of a doll" - Sylvia Plath.

- the line "the movement you need is on your shoulder" in Hey Jude - and the way McCartney sings it on the single.

- Clive James's description of Arnold Schwarzenegger's appearance during his Mr Universe days: like a "brown condom full of walnuts". Isn't that perfect? The man has the gift of simile in spades.

- "there's God in the trees, I'm weak at the knees and the sky is a painful blue" - Stan Rogers (line that gets me in "Forty-Five Years" - one hell of a love song)

- The yearning quality of George Harrison's slide guitar - there's something as English as Elgar about that, even when he's playing sessions for Belinda Carlisle!

- that bit in Braveheart where the little fellow pipes up from the crowd with "home! The English are too many!" Always makes me laugh. You'd probably have to be there.

- Carl Wilson's vocals on Good Vibrations. Yes, really.

- Spike Milligan's Gaelic epitaph (translation: "I told you I was ill")

- Al Pacino's gaze, especially in his later roles. And his style as Vincent Hannah in "Heat". Makes me want to be a short-arse gravel-voiced American.

- Kevin Kline and John Cleese in A Fish Called Wanda:
Archie Leach: You're just a vulgarian, aren't you?
Otto: You're the vulgarian, you FUCK.

- Stan Laurel's (real)last words:
Laurel (in hospital with heart failure): I'd rather be out downhill skiing than doing this.
Nurse: Oh, do you ski, Mr Laurel?
Laurel: No, but I'd rather be doing that than this.

- The opening bars of Bach's Double Violin Concerto. And then the "dialogue" between the two violins that follows...shivers.

- The Simpsons: "We like Roy! We like Roy!"

jer said...

Oh, and Groucho Marx's great line (I'd almost put up with a bad night out just to be able to use it): "I've had a wonderful evening...but this wasn't it".

Sorry - I'm hogging the space here. Great subject for a post!

Justin Power said...

This is an intriguing meme, to be sure. Here's my rather lengthy list of pop culture moments that always leave me grinning like an idiot:

Alec Ounsworth's strained cries of "they are child stars" at the end of CYHSY's "Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood."

That heartbreaking point in Return of the King where Aragorn bows to the hobbits.

A nude Cartman silently creeping across the stage in South Park's ninja episode.

Natalie Portman's gradual smile while she introduces Zach Braff to the Shins in Garden State.

Stephen Colbert's inability to steel himself after blurting out the portmanteau "Filliam H Muffman" on a memorable Colbert Report.

This wonderfully evocative line from Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell: "it was as if his mind had fallen down."

From the Seinfeld ep "The Couch," the knowing smirk on Jerry's face when he discloses that the argument at the restaurant was "pretty much all [his] fault."

Bill Murray sitting at the bottom of his pool in Rushmore.

The way Chuck Palahniuk plays with his sentences so that they gain layers of meaning upon each repetition.

The "hey laa, hey laa" part of the New Pornographers' "Bleeding Heart Show."

This exchange from the website Overheard in NY:
HS boy #1: Okay, who's Pavlov?
HS boy #2: I don't know, it doesn't ring a bell.

Farva's declaration that "litre is French for 'give me some fucking cola'" in Super Troopers.

John Cleese's fantastic "don’t mention the war" sequence from Fawlty Towers.

Finally, Arrested Development is a series built on such moments, but in particular, I'll point out the part where George Michael lies down on the floor after being dumped in the ep "Good Grief."

Tina Chaulk said...

Great idea (theft). Mine is
here.

kodak said...

These are always interesting lists anytime.

For me, in music, many of the Beatles songs and melodies just make me feel good, happier. I agree with a previous blogger about George Harrison's guitar, to me it's a wavering almost melancholy, but so stylish method, particularly in the last three years of the Beatles.

The inventive, interesting, catchy, opening notes to Lennon's "Across the Universe", and "In My Life".

The quintessential rock song opening of "Day Tripper", "Lady Madonna" - so upbeat and awakening.

The zippy and creative opening notes to "Octopus's Garden".

In movies, "Amadeus", where Mozart says to Salieri about the March of Welcome, he made up for Mozart, as Mozart plays it from one hearing only "... the rest is just the same, isn't it?"

Also, in that movie, the scene where Saleri is watching an opera of Mozart's where Catherina Cavelierri is soprano, and he notices that Mozart and Catherina have a flirtish look in their eyes, and realizes later that "the creature had had my darling girl".

In "Groundhog Day" where Bill Murray gives the wrong response to Andie McDowell when she told him she studied 18th century French poetry, and he says, "ha, what a waste of time". When the next repeated groundhog day comes around, he has learned some French poetry to impress her. Clever movie.

That's it for now.