When I was about 11 or 12, the family up the street switched houses with a family in England for a year. The mother gave me the name and address of a girl in England (niece? goddaughter?) who was about my age and was interested in having a pen pal.
Fifth grade is the best year to have a pen pal -- especially what I suppose is now an old-fashioned one, who sends you letters with interesting stamps on them. Sophie was a great pen pal. She wrote newsy letters in gorgeous caligraphy on airmail stationery. She drew pictures in her letters and sent poems. She wrote often, too -- more often than I did, I'm sure -- and we stayed in touch for several years.
She was an excellent writer -- her poems put mine to shame (but I sent them anyway, a memory that makes me squirm to this day), and I imagine that she spoke the same way she wrote -- straightforward and graceful at the same time. Now she is using that writing to help others put their words down: She has a blog called Lots of Big Ideas dedicated the examination of exile and asylum and how writing is to giving voices to and transforming people affected exile and asylum. She's doing great things and I have to say I am pleased to say that she called my blog "brilliant" in tapping me for this meme. Thanks, Sophie!
1. Black and White or Color; how do you prefer your movies?
As long as it's done well in the medium it's in, I like it. I love Eisenstein's "Ivan the Terrible," which is shot in stage-directed B&W with a battle scene in rare color. It's fantastic.
2. What is the one single subject that bores you to near-death?
Just about anything is interesting if it's presented well. I can't stand meetings where everyone is afraid to talk, or things just get repeated. Then my eyes glaze over.
3. MP3s, CDs, Tapes or Records: what is your favorite medium for prerecorded music?
LPs for sound, tapes for road trips. I'm just catching up to CDs, and since we're still on dialup (I know!), I haven't downloaded a single song.
4. You are handed one first class trip plane ticket to anywhere in the world and ten million dollars cash. All of this is yours provided that you leave and not tell anyone where you are going … Ever. This includes family, friends, everyone. Would you take the money and ticket and run?
5. Seriously, what do you consider the world’s most pressing issue now?
Inequality of resources: food, capital, respect.
6. How would you rectify the world’s most pressing issue?
A good start would to be to make sure that every person is paid a living wage. Once a person's needs are taken care of, that person is free to begin to change the world.
7. You are given the chance to go back and change one thing in your life; what would that be?
As mentioned before, I don't have many regrets. I should have traveled more in Russia, I suppose.
8. You are given the chance to go back and change one event in world history, what would that be?
I would like to see communism as it would have developed in Germany in the early 20th century. Or Russia if Stalin hadn't stepped in after Lenin died.
9. A night at the opera, or a night at the Grand Ole’ Opry – Which do you choose?
A night out? What IS that?
10. What is the one great unsolved crime of all time you’d like to solve?
After a college course in the French Resistance, I wonder who betrayed Jean Moulin (which, I suppose, is not a crime). Missing-children crimes top the list, though -- I can't imagine the pain.
11. One famous author can come to dinner with you. Who would that be, and what would you serve for the meal?
John Dos Passos or Meridel LeSueur. Either way, we'd dine on the spoils of the bourgeousie.
12. You discover that John Lennon was right, that there is no hell below us, and above us there is only sky — what’s the first immoral thing you might do to celebrate this fact?
I can't think of anything immoral I'd want to do. It isn't the idea of hell that holds me back; it's the idea that whatever-it-is goes against my morals.