Apparently the Friday Five this weeks is called Heights because of a film that’s out with that name. I haven’t seen it and have no idea what it’s about. As much as I miss seeing movies in their natural habitat, I have no plans to be in a theater anytime soon with crowds of unmasked people who may or may not be vaccinated. So I’m going to assume these questions were inspired in some way by the film, and then I’m going to forget about that and just answer the questions.
What’s the best non-animated movie musical you’ve seen in the past several years?
The best? Well, I haven’t seen that many musicals in recent years. The Greatest Showman is probably the most recent, but I thought it was terrible. I mean, the music was great, but the film rewrote history to turn a man who exploited marginalized people to make himself rich into a man who was the champion of the oppressed. No, thank you. So I’ll reach back a little farther into my memory and say that the best is Bohemian Rhapsody, about Freddie Mercury and Queen. Rami Malek’s performance was uncannily real.
How are you most likely to pass the time during a lengthy blackout?
It depends. If there’s enough light, I might read a book. If there’s not enough light, I could still read with a flashlight, or I could read a book on my e-reader, if it’s charged. If my laptop is charged, I can use it to write or to stream a television show.
If it’s winter, I’ll build a fire in the fireplace and maybe toast some marshmallows with my son. If it’s not raining or snowing I might build a fire in the fire pit on the patio and bring out those marshmallows.
When were you last in a swimming pool?
I honestly do not remember. It’s been years, probably due at least in part to my aversion to seeing myself in a bathing suit. I just bought one that is better suited to actual human women than the bathing suits available in most stores (which are better suited to Barbie dolls), so maybe that will change. Or maybe not.
What do you remember fondly about the neighborhood where you grew up?
Neighborhood singular? I grew up in a lot of neighborhoods in various parts of the country, so I’m not sure how to answer this one. Several of them had woods, which I loved:
In Scituate, Massachusetts, the woods were a little ways down the street. I was too young to explore on my own, but I remember walking with my dad on cool, breezy fall days, gazing up at the yellow and red treetops against a clear blue sky, with the smell of wood smoke in the air.
One of our homes in Fairfax County, Virginia, had woods across the street, with a creek that I used to take water samples from to examine under a microscope, and where I could find wintergreen berries that squeaked in my teeth. My friend Caroline and I were about 10 when we found a tree house that some older boys had abandoned when they went off to college. We fixed it up and made it our own. Being nerds, mostly what we did up there was read books — Island of the Blue Dolphins, the Witch of Blackbird Pond, A Wrinkle in Time.
When we lived in Roanoke, Virginia, the woods began just behind our backyard and continued down the hillside. My sister’s boyfriend planted marijuana back there; apparently we had the right conditions for it. My parents never knew. I was too much the goody-two-shoes even to know what to do with it, let alone to want to.
What language did you study in school, and what’s something you remember how to say?
I took Spanish for two or three years in high school, and a couple more in college. I got As, but that doesn’t mean I can say much of anything at this point. I remember a few simple sentences (¿Cómo se llama usted?) But mostly I just remember vocabulary. I can point to things and name them, but that’s about it.
It must be easier to retain those language lessons today. For one thing, I live now in a multicultural area; there’s a section of town only a few minutes away where the street signs and shop signs are in Spanish, and we have a large Spanish-speaking population. That was not true in southwestern Virginia, where I went to high school. Also, today it’s easy to find Spanish-language programming on television and even on the radio, and Spanish-language books in libraries and bookstores.