I Mememto’d myself

You remember Memento. It’s the movie told in reverse about a guy with amnesia who tattoos important clues on his body so he’ll remember them. .

Well, I Memento’d myself.

ImageI wanted to cook something for a family Super Bowl party. I was flipping through a cookbook, and I found a recipe something called chicken, sausage and rice skillet that sounded really good and really easy, but then I noticed that I’d written a note to myself in the margins:

“NO.”

It was definitely my handwriting, and I’d underlined it for emphasis.

Apparently, I’d made it once before and thought it was so bad that I wanted to remind myself to never make it again, but I don’t ever making it, and I don’t know why I wouldn’t have liked it.

Chicken, sausage, onion, garlic, peppers, a can of chopped tomatoes, chicken broth, chick peas and spices, including turmeric, which is the only “unusual” ingredient on the list.

On paper, it sounded like something I’d like, although the kids probably wouldn’t eat it, because it didn’t contain either macaroni or cheese. I’m not crazy about chick peas, but I don’t hate them, and I could leave them out of the recipe entirely, but, no, that wasn’t good enough, apparently.

I’m taking my own advice — if I can’t trust me, who can I trust? — but it’s kind of scary to think I did something (stone-cold sober, I might add) that I don’t remember and that turned out so badly that I decided to warn myself not to try it again.

The Accidental Tourist: A literary guide to business travel, basically

It’s been a couple of decades since my college girlfriend loaned me her copy of The Accidental Tourist, but it’s a book that’s stayed with me — not because of its theme of embracing life and moving outside your comfort zone but because of what it taught me about how to pack a suitcase.

Anne Tyler’s book is about a guy named Macon (William Hurt in the movie), who writes passport-sized travel books for “accidental tourists” — business travelers, mostly, who have to leave home and want to make the trip as painless as possible.

Of course, the point of the book isn’t to give travel advice. Being an accidental tourist is really just a metaphor for Macon, who divorces his wife (Kathleen Turner in the movie) after their son is killed, only to get involved with a free spirit (Geena Davis), who brings him back into the world.

I think that’s what it’s about, anyway. I don’t really remember much about the plot. What I remember, every time I take a business trip, is the travel advice:

  • “Bring only what fits in a carry-on bag. Checking your luggage is asking for trouble.” This is absolutely true. Since I read the novel twentysome years ago, I think I’ve checked luggage only a couple of times, and both times, it got lost.
  • “One suit is plenty…. It should be a medium gray. Gray not only hides the dirt; it’s handy for sudden funerals and other formal events. At the same time, it isn’t too somber for  everyday.” One suit (I go with dark gray), a couple of shirts and a couple of ties, and you’ll be fine. I’m told it’s different for women, that they’re expected to wear something different every day, but I’m a guy, so no one expects anything of me, fashion-wise. One suit is plenty, and only the shoes you’re wearing.  
  • “Always bring a book, as protection against strangers.” I used to bring a book. Now I carry a tablet. Either way, it’s good advice and worth following, even though it works only about 50% of the time. I don’t think I’m a rude traveler. I’ll smile, say excuse me and engage in small talk while we’re getting settled in, usually something like, “Boy, they don’t give us a lot of room, do they?” but then I’m done. I’d rather read. It’s amazing, though, the number of people who don’t notice or deliberately ignore basic social cues such as their seatmate’s refusal to make eye contact or his responding to their questions and comments with a simple, “Uh-huh.”

You might disagree and think I’m a jerk because I don’t want to talk for a couple of hours to the random person wedged into the seat next to mine, and that’s fine, you might be right, but trust me on taking only one carry-on bag.

‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and ‘Star Wars’ are basically the same movie

English: Screenshot of Jimmy Stewart and Donna...
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I posted something the other day about how much I like “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and over the past 18 months, I’ve posted several things about “Star Wars,” and last night I realized something:

“It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Star Wars” are basically the same movie:

It’s a Wonderful Life: George Bailey is a small-town boy who can’t wait to leave home and travel around the world.
Star Wars: Luke Skywalker is a small-town boy who can’t wait to leave home and travel throughout the galaxy.

It’s a Wonderful Life: George postpones college to help his father with the family’s building and loan.
Star Wars: Luke postpones going to the academy to help his uncle with the family farm.

It’s a Wonderful Life: When it’s time for George to finally leave, George’s father asks him to stay a while longer.
Star Wars: When it’s time for Luke to finally leave, Luke’s uncle asks him to stay a while longer.

It’s a Wonderful Life: Soon after talking with George about leaving home, George’s father dies of a heart attack.
Star Wars: Soon after talking with Luke about leaving home, Luke’s aunt and uncle are killed in a stormtrooper attack.

It’s a Wonderful Life: With his father gone, George has no choice but to run a building and loan, like his father.
Star Wars: With his aunt and uncle gone, Luke has no choice but to learn the ways of the Force and become a Jedi Knight, like his father.

The three lead protagonists of Star Wars, from...
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It’s a Wonderful Life: George’s family business is threatened Potter, whose haranguing helped drive George’s father to the grave.
Star Wars: Luke’s friends in the rebellion are threatened by Vader, who betrayed and murdered Luke’s father (kind of).

It’s a Wonderful Life: George is jealous of his friend, Sam Wainwright, who used to date George’s wife, Mary.
Star Wars: Luke his jealous of his friend, Han Solo, who’d like to, um, “date” Princess Leia.

It’s a Wonderful Life: Potter tries to destroy the Bailey Building and Loan Association by hiring George away.
Star Wars: Vader tries to destroy the Jedi Knights by turning Luke to the Dark Side of the Force.

It’s a Wonderful Life: Uncle Bill accidentally gives Potter $8,000 in cash. Potter hopes the mistake will finally crush the building and loan.
Star Wars: Vader tracks the Millennium Falcon to the Rebels’ secret base, where he hopes to finally crush the rebellion.

It’s a Wonderful Life: As the bank examiner and sheriff prepare to arrest George, George receives a telegram: “Mr. Gower cables you need cash. Stop. My office instructed to advance you up to $25,000. Stop. Hee-haw and merry Christmas, Sam Wainwright.”
Star Wars: “Yee-haw, now let’s blow this thing so we can go home!”

In the earlier post about “It’s a Wonderful Life,” I mentioned Roger Ebert’s review where he calls the movie “ageless,” and I think what makes it work as well now as it did when it was release 65 years ago is that George Bailey’s story is the essentially same as every hero’s story:

George Bailey might not save the galaxy, but he gives up a life of travel and adventure to raise a family and make his hometown a better place to live, and if that’s not heroic, I don’t know what is.