“In New York, I had grown up around a lot of worldly kids — kids who’d lived abroad and spoke three or four languages, who did summer programs at Heidelberg and spent their holidays in places like Rio or Innsbruck or Cap d’Antibes. But Boris — like an old sea captain — put them all to shame. He had ridden a camel; he had eaten witchetty grubs, played cricket, caught malaria, lived on the street in Ukraine (“but for two weeks only”), set off a stick of dynamite by himself, swum in Australian rivers infested with crocodiles. He had read Chekhov in Russian, and authors I’d never heard of in Ukrainian and Polish. He had endured midwinter darkness in Russia where temperature dropped to forty below: endless blizzards, snow and black ice, the only cheer the green neon palm tree that burned twenty-four hours a day outside the provincial bar where his father liked to drink. Though he was only a year older than me — fifteen — he’d had actual sex with a girl, in Alaska, someone he’d bummed a cigarette off in the parking lot of a convenience store. She’d asked him if he wanted to sit in her car with her, and that was that. (“But you know what?” he said, blowing smoke out of the corner of his mouth. “I don’t think she liked it very much.”)”—The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
"Black tea, that’s the ticket," said Mr. Barbour one morning when I was nodding off at breakfast, pouring me a cup from his own well-stewed pot. "Assam Supreme. As strong as Mother makes it. It’ll flush the medication right out of your system. Judy Garland? Before shows? Well, my grandmother told me that Sid Luft used to always phone down to the Chinese restaurant for a big pot of tea to knock all the barbs out of her system, this was London, I believe, the Palladium, and strong tea was the only thing that did the trick, sometimes they’d have a hard time waking her up, you know, just getting her out of bed and dressed ––"
"He can’t drink that, it’s like battery acid," said Mrs. Barbour, dropping in two sugar cubes and pouring in a heavy slug of cream before she handed the cup over to me. "Theo, I hate to keep harping on this, but you really must eat something."
"Okay," I said sleepily, but without moving to take a bite of my blueberry muffin. Food tasted like cardboard; I hadn’t been hungry in weeks.
"Would you rather have cinnamon toast? Or oatmeal?"
"It’s completely ridiculous that you won’t let us have coffee," said Andy, who was in the habit of buying himself a huge Starbucks on the way to school and the way home every afternoon, without his parents’ knowledge. "You’re very behind the times on this."
"Possibly," Mrs. Barbour said coldly.
"Even half a cup would help. It’s unreasonable for you to expect me to go into Advanced Placement Chemistry at 8:45 in the morning with no caffeine."
"Sob, sob," said Mr Barbour, without looking up from the paper.
"Your attitude is very unhelpful. Everyone else is allowed to drink it."
"I happen to know that’s no true," said Mrs. Barbour. "Betsy Ingersoll told me ––"
"Maybe Mrs. Ingersoll doesn’t let Sabine drink coffee, but it would take a whole lot more than a cup of coffee to get Sabine Ingersoll into Advanced Placement anything.”
"That’s uncalled for, Andy, and very unkind."
"Well, it’s only the truth," said Andy coolly. "Sabine is as dumb as a post. I suppose she may as well safeguard her health since she has so little going for her."
"Brains aren’t everything, darling. Would you eat an egg if Etta poached you one?" Mrs. Barbour said, turning to me. "Or fried? Or scrambled? Or whatever you like?"
"I like scrambled eggs!" Toddy said. "I can eat four!"
"No you can’t, pal," said Mr. Barbour.
"Yes I can! I can eat six! I can eat the whole box!"
"It’s not as if I’m asking for Dexedrine," Andy said. "Although I could get it as school if I felt like it."
"Theo?" said Mrs. Barbour. Etta the cook, I noticed, was standing in the door. "What about the egg?"
"Nobody ever asks us what we want for breakfast,” Kitsey said; and even though she said it in a very loud voice, everyone pretended not to hear.
I wasn’t sure about Theo staying with the Barbours… until that perfect scene at breakfast, that is — that’s when it became crystal clear that the Barbour family was exactly what Theo needed.
“Godard constantly borrowed and re-enacted scenes from a pulpy America of the ’40s and ’50s: Billy the Kid, Singin’ in the Rain. His youthful characters are literally in France but metaphysically pirouetting through American pop culture. Baumbach’s young people are literally pirouetting through the streets of New York City but soundtracked, costumed, and rendered black and white by the French New Wave. Lev (Adam Driver) wears a Belmondo fedora; Benji (Michael Zegen) tucks his cigarette behind his ear; Frances’ two greatest talents, at least at the beginning, are running romantically through the streets and making omelets. But does Lev know he’s in a black-and-white movie? When Frances does a tightrope-style walk along the Seine, is she intentionally aping Jeanne Moreau in Jules and Jim? Or is being an aspiring twentysomething artist in a major city necessarily about trying, unconsciously or not, to make your life look like your favorite movie? And then does growing up simply mean letting go of the movie you thought your life would be?”—Frances Ha, America’s best French New Wave film by Annie Baker. (via pierreism)
This is a story not just of a mediocre play or a terrible play. When it comes right down to it, it’s not even a story about a play. This is a story about a fiasco and about what makes a fiasco. And one ingredient of many fiascoes is that great, massive, heart-wrenching chaos and failure are more likely to occur when great ambition has come into play, when plans are big, expectations great, hopes at their highest.
Well, today on our program, what happens when greatness does not occur. What happens, in fact, when fumble leads to error leads to mishap, and before you know it, you have left the realm of ordinary mistake and chaos, and you have entered into the more ethereal, specialized realm of fiasco. Today’s show, Fiascoes, a philosophical inquiry— perhaps the first ever, as far as we know— into what makes a fiasco, what takes our ordinary lives the extra distance into fiasco.
Act 1 “Opening Night”: when a fiasco turns to great comedy. That story brought me to tears.