Archive for the ‘Lists’ Category

The All Souls Game

August 24, 2017

Last weekend, my husband and I went to Oxford for the day, and on our (excellent) two-hour free walking tour, the guide stopped us at the gate to All Souls College and explained a bit about it.  All Souls College is a graduate school, kind of.  The description of it actually sounds a bit more like an elitist club, where “fellows” are just distinguished people from their fields (in other words, how much studying is happening, I can’t really tell).  The entrance exam for All Souls famously used to be a single word that you had to free associate on in an essay.  You had three hours to write this essay, which goes to show you how deep the graders wanted you to go on the topic of “water” or “style” (both real prompts.)  Apparently, they scrapped the one word exam back in 2010––a very funny article about it is here––but they still do these very broad questions that are sometimes interesting, sometimes amusing, and sometimes sound like the kinds of queries stoned college kids pose to each other while sitting bleary-eyed beneath that poster where those naked girls have Pink Floyd album cover painted on their butts.

So of course my husband and I were like, “Shit, it would be kind of fun to just take the exam and see what happens!”  But obviously we will never get that chance.  However, I thought, perhaps we can all have the experience of taking what has often been called the hardest test in the world.  What if there were a cleverly designed pack of question cards, like the one The School of Life (which I hate, but their branding is good, I admit) makes about untranslatable words and confidence and shit like that, but instead of those things, it was some questions from All Souls exams, and you could break these out at your next dinner party before intoning, “THE GAME’S AFOOT”?  (That would be required.)  I mean, I’d do it.  Would you?

Screen Shot 2017-08-23 at 10.20.23 PM

Design example

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Here is a link to some sample exams, and here are a few of the better questions I’ve picked out:

Is eugenics ever a good thing?

Is there anything to be said for astrology?

Should we preserve living creatures harmful to human interests, such as the tick, the locust and the tapeworm?

In the context of political speech, ‘[e]ven material which causes a significant degree of revulsion may be justified by the serious purpose of the context in which the material is broadcast’: Lord Walker in R. (ProLife Alliance) v. B.B.C. [2003] 2 WLR 1403. Do you agree?

Should parents be punished for the truancy of their children?

Should prisoners have the vote?

Where should the boundaries lie between a person’s private and public life?

Would you ban a book?

Is your belief in the theory of evolution based on faith or reason?

Should tigers be saved at the expense of Indian villagers?

Should there be a market in human organs?

Does the moral character of an orgy change when the participants wear Nazi uniforms?

(This last one isn’t in those sample tests, but was cited by Sarah Lyall––link above––as a past question.  And I think the answer is DUH.  Nazi uniforms change every single situation.  Also this would obviously be the first card I picked out when I had people over.)




Who Said It: Meat Loaf or Lao Tzu?

July 13, 2017

And wherever you are and wherever you go

there’s always going to be some light


If you don’t worry about the future, sooner or later it’s the past


The further you go, the less you know


Heaven can wait

And all I’ve got is time until the end of time


The nameless is the origin of heaven and earth


Some days it don’t come easy

Some days it don’t come hard


Sometimes you lead

Sometimes you follow


What about your gods?
They’re defective! They forgot the warranty


The beat is yours forever
The beat is always true


She cries all day without getting hoarse.

She is the ultimate in harmony.


Does it come with the darkness? Does it bring out the light?


How deep! How dark! In it there is an essence.


You were only killing time and it will kill you right back


Though you lose the body, you do not die.


And if life is just a highway, then the soul is just a car



June 16, 2017

If I were more articulate, I’d find a way to describe my day yesterday other than “shittastic,” but because I dropped my phone down an elevator shaft, I don’t have access to my Thesaurus app, so I’m out of luck.  On my way home from an errand, I picked up the Evening Standard magazine, which I do on the regs even though I become full of rage when I see that once again, they are featuring the offspring of a celeb who is him/herself “on the brink of stardom.”  I honestly think the ES Mag goes this route 50 out of 52 issues a year, give or take.  These pieces all manage to peddle the same lies, and y’all know how I feel about a FORMULA.  So, while it shouldn’t bother me at all, below are a few statements you will inevitably see made in a profile about a celeb’s kid.  I call bullshit, and call on ES Mag to do same:

  1. The celeb’s kid is “not your average celebrity’s child” (Yes they are, because they are trying to become actors)
  2. Because they are totally “down to earth”
  3. Due to have “never really known” their parent(s) is (are) famous
  4. They never considered acting as a career (this one cracks me up)
  5. They’re totally not into the Hollywood scene (they say while sitting at the Chateau Marmont and musing on their first rehab stint, at sixteen)
  6. They don’t drink (DUI charges pending)
  7. They had to work as hard/harder than anyone else (HAHAHAH)

Life Lessons

May 14, 2017

Things children in Samoa must learn before the age of five:

To sit or crawl within the house

Never to stand upright unless absolutely necessary

Never to address an adult in a standing position

To stay out of the sun

Not to tangle the strands of the weaver

Not to scatter the cut up coconut which is spread out to dry

To keep their scant loin cloths at least nominally fastened to their person

To treat fire and knives with proper caution

Not to touch the kava bowl, or the kava cup

If their father is a chief, not to crawl on his bed-place when he is [near]by

~Margaret Mead, Coming of Age in Samoa

I <3 Experts

February 4, 2017

Michael Gove, British gnat, famously said back in the time during Brexit campaigning that Britons were “tired of experts.”  With the election of Donald Trump, the era of the average asshole has been officially heralded.  But I was thinking the other day: I bet there are plenty of instances in which even Gove himself would prefer an expert over an amateur.  Here are just a few:

Cardiovascular surgeon: who would you rather tinker with your ticker, a real doctor or a guy who just believes he has a feeling for it?

Airline pilot: or helicopter pilot.  Or submarine captain.  Okay, so basically any large vehicle operator.

Professor of Ancient Greek: if you need to learn it, why not learn from the best?

Criminal defense lawyer: Never know––he might be in need of one at some point.


Bomb detonator: this one feels *too close* yet undeniable

Lion tamer: I guess if you find yourself inexplicably dropped into a lion enclosure at the zoo…

Hit man

Skyscraper designer: would you be chill living in a penthouse built by a child, for example?



June 19, 2016

Isn’t it fun to get used books and see what the previous owners wrote in them?  This morning I finished Caroline Blackwood’s The Stepdaughter, which I have been wanting to read for ages (but found a little disappointing.)    A former owner underlined single words, perhaps ones he or she wanted to look up, throughout the text, which together comprise a very macabre description of Caroline Blackwood’s personality and her fiction.  Here goes:





























petard [pretty sure this is a typo and was supposed to be “retard”]












Also, sort of strange––this book was the property of St. Mary’s Library, and was taken out four times in 1978, and then not again until 1992.  And then once after that in 1999.  On my birthday!  What do these numbers mean?

Henry VIII’s Second Course

May 12, 2016

“Could” include: jelly, cream of almonds, pheasant, partridges, quails, cocks, gulls, kid, lamb or pigeon, larks or rabbits, chickens, venison in paste, tarts, fritters, fruit, butter and eggs.


Concept Tumblr

May 4, 2016

Last week, when my husband and I were in Rome, I saw a nun driving a car across the Isola Tiberina, and then she honked at someone!  I was tickled.  My husband said, “Nuns doing stuff is the best.”  And lo, a concept Tumblr was born!  I won’t start it because I would inevitably run out of steam, and you know how much it pains me to see abandoned blogs, but here is a blueprint of what it might look like:


Playing croquet…


Baking bread…



Nuns In The Surf

Playing in the ocean…


Chilling at the bar…


Smoking herb…

Nuns Having Fun (2)



Eating cake…


Working at a spa…


Playing basketball…


Enjoying a lager!

If you know that this Tumblr happens to exist already, just don’t tell me.  I’d rather live blissfully ignorant of my generally derivative life than look the blinding sad truth in the face.  I do, however, note the existence of a calendar called NUNS HAVING FUN or something to that effect, which I would like to own.  If you could mail it to me c/o the Guggenheim Museum, that would be much appreciated.  Consider it a belated birthday present.


I Did Everything

May 1, 2016

Sorry for the big gap between posts, my five devoted readers!  I’ve been on vacation.  I know what you’re thinking: ID, isn’t your whole life kind of a vacation?  Uh, no, I have a full-time job being a garden variety neurotic, and that’s not an easy gig!

Anyway, last week in Jerusalem, I went to a gallery called the Museum on the Seam (so named because it is right on the Green Line.)  Wasn’t overwhelmed by the art there, but I did like one piece called “It Was Me.  Diary 1990-1999” by Italian artist Daniela Comani.  It’s a text piece that imagines the major events of the 20th century as if they all happened to one individual.  Here is the whole thing, and here (colon) is an excerpt:

February 20th. London. I took my life tonight. First I tried with an overdose of pills (150 antidepressants and 50 sleeping pills) but was saved in King s College hospital, where I hung myself 2 days later in the toilets in the middle of the night. February 21st. New York. I murdered Malcolm X during a speech in Harlem. February 22nd. I executed the siblings Hans and Sophie Scholl. February 23rd. Edinburgh. I cloned a sheep at the Roslin Institute: Dolly. February 24th. I presented ‘the 25 point program’ to the German Workers Party. February 25th. Unbloody putsch in the Philippines: I overthrew the president Ferdinando E. Marcos.”

My traveling companion (in life) didn’t like the piece, but I enjoyed it because I felt like no matter how obvious the conceit, it did make you think about each event as if it had happened to you for a millisecond.  Also, it reminded me of some horror movie I’ve seen––but forget the name of––in which the Devil (or some evil force named otherwise) reveals him/itself to have been behind all the tragedies of history.  A whiff of The Invisible Man, too.

Perhaps Unfair, and Almost Definitely Not Politically Correct, But…

March 23, 2016

Remember when I was talking about Sybil?  Of course you do––it was just a few posts back.  Anyway, over this past weekend, sick in bed and literally voice-less, I decided to re-read the Debbie Nathan book––for research, and also because salacious psych exposes are my kryptonite.  That’s beside the point.  Anyway, in the book, Nathan mentions that during the MPD craze of the eighties and nineties, someone started a newsletter for multiple personality sufferers called Many Voices.  And lo and behold, the entire archives are online.  It’s equal parts legitimately sad and disturbing and, shall we say, meta-sad and disturbing, knowing now how many of these people were likely to have been manipulated in therapy.  My favorite part of the newsletters––again, I know this isn’t technically funny, but… ––is the optimistic/humorous (opti-humorous?) koans offered by various contributors.  Below, a selection:

“If we’re multiples, they’re monotones.”
“If someone says, ‘That doesn’t sound like you,’ it probably wasn’t.”
“Caution!  Subject to rapid personality changes.”
“I found myself!  And another, and another, and another… ”
“Maximum occupancy: 200 people bodies.”
“I had just learned that I am a multiple, and was feeling stunned and angry about it.  ‘Forget this,’ I said, ‘I’m not playing host to all these people.  Everybody OUT.  Immediately.'”
“I’m a community.  Who are you?”
“We’re not all multiples.”
“What is a multiple’s favorite fruit?  Bananas––they come in bunches.”
“TV Guide: MPD––your alternative to MTV.  We dance to the beat of a different drummer.  Featuring The Dissociations, a hot new group from the Ego States.  Like Madonna, they constantly reinvent themselves.”
“No longer alone.  Supported by others, who have others!”
“How does a person diagnosed with MPD know they are completely fused?  When they hear the word multiple and think VITAMINS!”