Posts tagged ‘Movie quotes’

Life Lessons from “The Princess Bride”

If you have been a fan of the movie “The Princess Bride” the way I have [the book is even funnier, if you can believe it]: you are likely to use a line from it [although none of us can be the walking talking movie-quote library that Troy is] from time to time. The first of its quotes that is near and dear to the abesheet heart, ofcourse, is: “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something”. I have had a chance to use “It’s not my fault being the biggest and the strongest. I don’t even exercise.” on Troy [or he used it on me, don’t remember which] on a Tennis court. Have made friends smile, those friends who tut-tutted my inability to be a silly romantic that [they probably feel] all women are [should be], with “There is nothing better than true love in the whole world. Except a nice MLT. Mutton, lettuce, and tomato when the mutton is nice and lean and the lettuce is nice and crisp” and yelled “Why don’t you give me a nice paper cut and pour lemon juice on it!” when that love turns sour – as loves most often do.

The line: “People in masks cannot be trusted” hasn’t made it to my vocabulary that often. Since I haven’t been or hoped to be a guest at a fancy dress ball [or Halloween] party, I didn’t think there would be an instance in which it would come handy. Then I was asked to wear an Easter Bunny outfit for an office function on April 20. There would be, I was warned, a lot of children, a lot of mothers wanting me to hold their children, and adults behaving like kids. I cannot talk. I cannot laugh. And I can’t bring my hands anywhere near their privates, or even give them hugs unless specifically asked by the person or parent for the purpose of taking pictures.

I was told to look out for ass-grabbers [and alarm security if felt threatened], to make sure the costume stays in place from head to toe and to being inconvenienced by the inability to pee without disrobing. But mostly I was told how hot it was going to be. “My” head, though with a pronounced smile painted on it, was made of fur. A fur head stuffed with all kind of gadgets that would render the human face behind the mask completely invisible. It was also heavy on the shoulder. And since I can’t lift it to drink water without scarring growing children to life; I was meant to suffocate and sweat like the dickens until the allotted brake-time arriveth.

Which I did.

To the casual observer, there I was.. waving, hopping back at every child that pretended to hop at the sight of me and putting both my hands infront of my smiling mouth to show shock or happy surprise. I pretended to blush or gave thumbs up every time somebody hugged me or said they loved me. When kids screamed at the sight of me, or a grown up man walked by me with stiff shoulders (“He doesn’t like Easter bunnies”, wife or girlfriend would explain. The old “I hate rats” syndrome -also a synonym for “I can’t be around rats/clowns because they scare me shitless but I am not man enough to admit it”) I roll hands under my “eyes” to show being hurt. I gave candies. I blew kisses. I protested being lifted by some jocks from the Netherlands with the wild gesture of a bunny short of a bush to dash into. On the inside, however, I was cursing the sweat the was washing my face and burning my eyes.. gnashing the teeth from both the head-ache and the stupidity of some folks and suggesting men and women get bent whenever they act too good to stand beside a fake bunny for the camera. All this.. while wearing a big smile and a happy countenance.

“I will never trust people wearing masks”, I commented, someberly studying my form in the mirror while a security guard/feet guide was busy pinning my shirt under the costume in such a way that nobody would know it was there. That’s when that quote from “The Princess Bride” came to me. I realized I may have erred in assuming the quote was only relevant to people wearing masks and/or those around them. That it may be referring to the masks we wear every day. To one in particular: the smile mask.

You see, deep down, I have always known not to trust people who laugh easily and long. I have viewed it as a defect, either the absence of a functional brain or cover for the dishonest heart. That is why I have always been attracted to people with sour faces and unhappy dispositions. Because they were wearing their hearts on their sleeves, as the saying goes, honest like. Telling passers-by to take it or chuck it.

I haven’t looked favorably at people who laugh easily and long- I said. But I haven’t gone so far as to suppose there was anything particularly sinister about them. That hot afternoon, however, in my smiling head, and furry outfit, I did. True, Americans didn’t choose to wear smiling masks as part of the daily life by choice. What with capitalism, integration and civil rights movement; wearing agreeable masks have become a necessary evil to return home in one piece around here. And …. if we came down to it, isn’t life.. isn’t society … a sort of fancy dress ball; where we go out wearing clothes, looks and attitudes we believe would give a certain impression to onlookers – with “manufactured identities” – as somebody more educated than me called it? Indeed, haven’t we been told by Morgnstern how masks were “terribly comfortable. I think everyone will be wearing them in the future.”?!

Alas.. after that day.. people who smile easily I no longer saw as men and women trying to live in peace with their neighbors or even folks trying to sell something. I started seeing them as men and women who aren’t showing their real emotions. [Neighbors who may be hiding a “finger”, a sneer, a dagger]. Exaggeration much, as Blen would say? Maybe. But let us say you were walking down a dark alley and you see a man wearing a mask walking towards you. Then another chap… wearing a smile. Who are you likely to want to forge alliances with in the hope of saving your hide?! Dark stranger #2, right?. Alas the first guy may have easily been burnt by acid. The second… who knows what he was burnt with?

Me? I will take my chances with the first guy. Unless.. ofcourse.. he started with “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

In which case, “there’s usually only one thing you can do. .. Go through his clothes and look for loose change.”

May 16, 2014 at 8:13 pm 4 comments

Grandma movie quotes & other observations

My grandma used to say….

Nothing! She died when I was four. But even before that, she wasn’t so much a sayer, from what I could gather, as a looker – which explains the jealous rage my grandpa unleashed on all the kids that “didn’t look like him” when he came home drunk – resulting in some pretty fucked uncles and cousins with self-esteem problems. This knowledge that I missed out on an “Aya’at” becomes keen when I especially watch those movies in which the hero’s Nana is one of those universal grandmothers who [apparently] goes around cracking wisdom like a whip. Somebody like Jose’s grandmother from Bella (2006), for example, who used to say, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” Or Lt. Col. Mitchell from Stargate SG-1 who learned from his “gran” how “God is like a prairie windstorm. If you look too hard, you get dust in your eyes, but there’s still plenty of ways to know it’s there.” Or even a grandmother from a less than self-expressive country like Iran (in the movie Persepolis), who goes around saying stuff like:

Listen. I don’t like to preach, but here’s some advice. You’ll meet a lot of jerks in life. If they hurt you, remember it’s because they’re stupid. Don’t react to their cruelty. There’s nothing worse than bitterness and revenge. Keep your dignity and be true to yourself.

It, ofcourse, doesn’t mean I believe these grandmothers actually existed. Even when real life people go about saying “My grandma used to say..” on NPR, I take the grandma part with a grain of salt. That’s because I have learned these grandma-sayings, especially when the sayer is from a 3rd world country, make Americans view him and themselves in a certain light. Aren’t, after all, all [good] African grandfathers elders of or leaders to some tribe? And .. African women .. a walking breathing stand-ins for mother earth herself: dark, resilient, and fertile?!

In a country where how the mass sees you determines what sort of resources would be made available to you, giving them what they want would, ofcourse, be the rule of the day. And so we tell stories of difficult childhoods; brutal 3rd world governments who prosecute angelic social workers and/or journalists; and matriarchs who hand-down life lessons around crackling wood fire. And they take us into their bosom and hope to heal our wounds.

No harm, no foul.. you might say. You are sure there is somebody somewhere going through it. And I might have agreed with you if it wasn’t for the ultimate picture this “naive” [American] look at who we are, where we came from and who we surrounded ourselves with while growing up draws. How often have I.. have you, dear reader.. been asked, when confessing we were from Africa, how different it must be here for you. “I mean”, a Union Member activist once said to me, after giving me a pat on the shoulder like I was a brave little woman who need commendation for surviving, “after coming to this country and all you have been through.. these jerks here ..” [were refusing to give us our 3 year’s worth of Retro Pay?!].

I am no proud Ethiopian. No sir I ain’t! You won’t see me crossing my self before eating among bewildered strangers. Nor sneering at the odd-looking meat on the table before having a chance to taste it. But I didn’t let that one go. “No, actually” I replied “I am not one of those Africans who were persecuted or end up being refugees from political turmoil. I love my country and liked how it was being run back then. I was going to school. I had a much better job there than I do here. If I weren’t married to an American, I doubt I would have thought of coming. As far as I know, none of my Ethiopian friends and colleagues came over because they feared for their lives. Fact is.. I doubt a quarter of the people who come to America and say they suffered persecution are telling the truth. If your parents could pay your way to come to America when you were 11, whatever country your parents are from, they probably were better off than the rest of their countrymen; if not part of the ruling class causing all the hardship for the common poor. You Americans are addicted to playing the role of the Hero.. the Savior.. the Liberator.. so they tell you what you wanna hear”. Etecetra.


Going back to the subject of my doubt half the individuals quoting their grandmas ever met their grandmothers.. Look here.. my parents were a little older than teenagers when I was born. And that wasn’t common in Ethiopia. However, like I said, the last grandparent me and my 27 cousins had was the aforementioned “looker” when most of us were barely out of diapers [or “yenetela Qidaj”s made transparent from excessive washing]. Sure.. we are in one of the poorest countries in the world and the life expectancy may not be so high there. But so must it not be in India and/or other third world countries. Yet you hear these so-called “grandkids” spouting all kinds of wisdoms in their grand mother’s names on American tvs and radios! Maybe Wise-cracking-grandmothers have become what unicorns, tooth-faries and Easter bunnies are: Mythical creatures whose stories we learn from without having to dig deep into their existences.

While we are on the subject of coming to America..

Although there wasn’t a more likely candidate than me for it [loved movies, spoke English fabulously and spent half my life being active on the internet when most Ethiopians haven’t heard of land-lines], I never really thought I would cross over to this neck of the wood. The only family members we had were distant relatives of my father’s who told him his kids [who refused to go and “ejj mensat” the way the kids of their other “chista” kins did] were too “kuru” for their own good. So I went the opposite way: refused to fill DV-Lottery and even told my ex-husband to move to Ethiopia if he wanted a life with me – instead of the other way around. But when I did, I kind of became what I think most of us become after crossing over: “A career American”. Not career people! Or Americans! But men and women who have made living in America his/her career choice; and would do whatever it takes to stay there. Like a “career wife” who sticks to her husband, through good times and bad; through cheating, abuse or neglect because she doesn’t have anywhere else to go. Doesn’t know another life. Has given it her best years!!

Speaking of the costs of living in America..

From my first and, hopefully last, visit to the doctor’s [where I was told my heart has been murmuring all these years without my knowing it – God knows what it’s trying to communicate], this is what I learned: The older u get, the longer you live, the less boxes there would be to check “N/A” (Not applicable). Do you or did you suffer from depression? Yes. Do you or did you have an anxiety problem? Yes. Do u smoke? Hell ya. Are u sexually active? Kinda. Why? What have you been hearing? And that thing about never visiting the doctors, even if your insurance covers it, until you have to has something going for it.

And finally…

I am a 12th Man today!

For those of you not aware of the expression, it means I’m not only a football fan, an American football fan, but consider myself a 12th number of the [actual] team. I am wearing the shirt! I have pinned the round 12thMan button on that shirt and I’m saying “Go Seahawks!” everytime a fellow employee passes by. Business or personal, you’d ask. I would have to say…. [dramatic pause] both! Business.. because my work place is an important landmark in Seattle and we have been waving the Seahawks flag for about two weeks now and even had a 12thMan hot wings eating contest – in which yours truly came second place [leaving a hoard of red-faced, panting, sweating, weeping white boys behind]. Plus the shirt is free. The buttons are free. And the feeling of camaraderie is a good boost to the morale [for somebody to whom making friends doesn’t come easy and only sees one other person on the days she isn’t working].

Personal.. because I have a “vested interest”, as they say, to see Seahawks beat Broncos by a small margin. In a word, “beanies”. In four words “beanies sold on ebay”. These are beanies I got for half off from my employer before Christmas; an employer who didn’t foresee The Seattle Seahawks would beat the 49ers and make it to the Super Bowl. The same NFL licensed beanies Seahawks’ players wear while on the bench. Beanies that are Out of Stock everywhere else in the State of Washington.

I’ve sold 19 of these knit-caps, earning a net profit of around 200 dollars in less than two days. So the fear is, those ebayers who haven’t left me a feedback yet – and there are 5- despite the second day delivery and the neat packaging – may be tempted to return the beanies and ask for a refund if the Seahawks lost this coming Sunday. And since I have no desire to give the refund, it would either be a negative feedback for moi or a long “eset ageba” with ebay’s Customer Service.

So.. yes.. Go Hawks!!!

February 1, 2014 at 3:19 am 4 comments

Revised lines

Ever sing a song for years only to find out you never really knew the lyrics? We did: me and my younger bro, back when we stood together against the world at school grounds & before he started kicking my leg with the front of his “Qoda chama” for a greeting.

Cleaning “the house” was our duty, you see. We were expected to carry the furniture out. Beat the “awara” off the “sofa” (the same “sofa” we weren’t allowed to neither sit on nor lay our sleeping head against the first few weeks it was brought. Like all the colorful plates my mother got from her “Arab” friends as a present, like wives and kids: it was there to be “seen”). We were then expected to broom, mop and wax the floor.

Neither carrying the furniture out, nor beating the dust off the sofa were “happy endeavors”. Still, we gave them the best we got. Our mother, whose “Gosh yene lijoch” we secretly craved for, was the typical Ethiopian mother who wasn’t satisfied a job is well done until she saw blood.

The “cleaning and waxing” part, on the other hand, we out did ourselves in. Not just because an “alenga” hangeth on the wall, signaling what would become of us if our dad failed to see himself on the shiny surface of the wooden floor. But because we loved gliding on the [s’um] waxed floor on the wings of a “bernos”. We loved the sensation tripping and falling gave us. Like “wuha”, like death, it took us down with a giggle.

Giggling and falling. Falling and Tripping. Tripping, giggling and falling. For once, we were allowed to be kids.

Still, there was fatigue involved. And one of those songs that helped ease this fatigue mw and my brother sung whole-heartedly was Billy Ocean’s “When the going gets tough”. I thought it was “among the gangisters”. My brother agreed. We had a special place for it, too, as it featured part of an action-movie we didn’t get to watch back then. So when my dad isn’t there, and we climbed the fence of our communal “gibi” and tried to out-scream the kids in the next “gibi” also hanging from their communal fence, we sung: “Among the gangsters”. I was 23 years old when somebody stopped my carefree singing to ask “what is that you said?”.

They teased me about it for months.

The other was a line from Dereje Kebede’s “YeniGatu Kokeb Aberra”. “Maan Yagidew, maan yitaGeLew” the song went. I heard “Maan yaGidew, maan yitaGeDew”. My luckless brother followed suit. So we shamlessly sung “Maan yaGdew, maan yitaGedew” at the top of our voice. The neighoburing kids fall silent, humbled by the sudden revelation of our godliness — no doubt.

My third, and substitute lyric, for Bizunesh Bekele’s “yeNuro fichie sawq” I’ve mentioned on the post Daddy’s too big a shoe already.

So when i came across a “Song Sung Wrong, Everybody Knows One” section on Reader’s Digest’s May 2009 issue, it was with more than a little mirth i remembered the revised lines mentioned above. The lyrics mentioned by Digest, we probably don’t know. But the following Movie Misquotes from Yahoo! Movies are quite international. See which had you fooled:

Top Ten Lasting Movie (Mis)Quotes
By Access Hollywood
LOS ANGELES, Calif. ….. May 13, 2009

May 18, 2009 at 5:39 am 37 comments


The blogger tries to think outside the box, or wonder why she sometimes can't.

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"I will speak for you, Father. I speak for all mediocrities in the world. I am their champion. I am their patron saint." - Antonio Salieri, from the movie "Amadeus"

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