The Meming of it All

I’m not sure that “meming” is a word — but it’s January, so new words are allowed. How else do little dictionaries grow?

This is the month of Noir City and post-holiday cookie sales … a month of anticipation, back-to-the-gym promises, of hope and resolve and potential. Of dark, rainy streets projected in glorious 35mm on the Castro Theater screen, of sunshine in San Francisco backyards, and a new inauguration for a New Deal and a New Day in Washington.

You can probably tell I like January.

This week, I’m meming … it’s a receding economy, and in the spirit of “make do and mend”, and “reduce, reuse, recycle”, later this week I’ll post a meme originally created on Facebook. Today, though, I’ve got a new one for which I was tagged by that talented dame of hardboiled fiction, Linda L. Richards.

You may possibly be wondering exactly what a “meme” is. In the context of Bloggerville, it’s one of those response-oriented lists that float from tagger to tagger, wherein you list five foods you won’t eat, seventeen most embarrassing moments, seven times you’ve broken the law or three impossible things before breakfast.

You know the kind of thing. Here’s a link to more specific definitions, but their real purpose is to save a busy blogging world a lot of time and let you discover trivia about other people.

So–drum roll, please … What book, movie and television show makes you cry the most?

(And keep in mind that I give good weep. From the “Old Yeller cry” (the horrible cry of loss) to “La Marseillaise cry” (the choked up cry of sentiment, in this case over the singing of the Marseillaise in Casablanca), I cry at, over and for a lot of things.)

Book: I might cry over my own if I get a particularly nasty review. I first read Tess of the D’Urbervilles, The Return of the Native, and Jude the Obscure (all by Thomas Hardy) as a young woman (and re-read them subsequently), and I cried buckets. The sound of my tears used to wake my mother up in the middle of the night. They’re among the most powerful novels in English, and Jude the Obscure, hands-down, is the most gut-wrenchingly devasting book I’ve ever read. Only Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath comes close.

Two more get honorable mentions: Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle and Ayn Rand’s We, the Living. The latter was one of my favorite books, and I used to harbor dreams of making it into a movie (I’m far from being a political disciple of Rand’s, but she was one hell of a writer.)

A special section might be devoted to children’s literature: I cried over the Harry Potter saga as an adult, and as a kid used to wail over Charlotte’s Web.

Movie: The aforementioned Casablanca scene always makes me cry. But It’s A Wonderful Life makes me cry from the opening scene, just in anticipation (voiceovers of various cast members are praying for George Bailey). I avoid sad animal movies entirely. Crying is a catharsis, and if you’ve experienced the loss of a beloved pet, you realize crying doesn’t help. I don’t need an entertainment vehicle to remind me of it.

Television Shows: TV mostly makes me cry in horror–especially the “Queen for a Day” reality programming. Most television–which, when I was growing up, was all network–is presented in bite-size chunks, making it much more difficult to sustain the emotional connection necessary. So I don’t think I’ve cried at TV since the last, farewell episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. And for some reason, probably related to why I’m a noir writer, Carol Burnett used to make me teary whenever she dragged out that damn old bucket to play the scrub-woman. I’m sure I would’ve cried at the last episode of MASH, too, but I was rehearsing for a play in college–and the little (#$^@ student director thought that directing meant being a dictator, and forced us to miss the episode. This in the days of no TiVO. I’m still holding a grudge.

Quid pro quo time: I’m tagging Laura Benedict, Jennie Bentley, Rebecca Cantrell, Bill Cameron, and Alex Sokoloff. And Linda, right back atcha. Memes away, guys! 🙂