Seven Quick Questions


1.  I’m re-reading Anna Karenina, which is 808 pages long.


Last time I read it was in college, I only got up to page 762 and then lost interest.  Gee, I hope Anna turns things around before it’s too late.

QUESTION for anyone who’s read the book: have you seen the movie?  I haven’t even read any reviews.  When I heard Anna was going to be played by Kiera Knightley, I wondered why they didn’t get an actress instead.

2.  Whenever I read old books, I keep an eye out for lovely, old-fashioned names that have unjustly gone out of circulation, and Russian novels are no exception.

QUESTION: Arhip, anyone?  I think it’s a boy name.

3.  So, so, so, we all know that when Mary nursed baby Jesus, she OVulously (as my son used to say) wore one of these:


(via the now defunct but still unchild-friendly Regretsy)

Among other reasons, this was so the baby (who was a Real Boy) would not get scandalized by having to make eye contact with his mother despite her under-tent compromised modesty.  So that’s settled.  But we are still left with the age-old QUESTION:  what did she wear to preserve her modesty while she was giving birth???  (Credit for this brain teaser goes to Noel Combs, who is not letting Lent slow her down.)

4.  QUESTION:  Is the model in the picture above trying to demonstrate that modest women don’t wear pants?

5.  Benny is deeply in love with Spiderman.   And not just any Spiderman, but Extra Crappy 1967 Spiderman Very Lightly Animated Cartoon which is IN COLOR.  This is what she does when she hears the theme song:

(The first ten seconds or so are the main point.  The rest is just to keep me from ever thinking I’m a good mother.)

The reason I let this happen is because when your husband says, “You go take a nap.  I’ll find something to do with the baby,” then you don’t complain, even if it turns out that that thing is watching 1967 Spiderman IN COLOR.
QUESTION: if we had played our cards differently, would she have a passionate devotion to, say, Mahler, or the sonnets of Shakespeare?  Or is there something about Spiderman?

6.  QUESTION:  What happens when you’re making beef barley soup with mushrooms, and you figure you’ll pep it up with some hot pepper flakes, but while you’re shaking them in you start thinking about something else, and then, after thinking about it for a while, and then talking about some stuff, and then thinking some more, you realize you’re still shaking those hot pepper flakes into the soup?
ANSWER:  You get to eat ALL THE SOUP!!!!  And boy, it clears out your sinuses.

7.  My husband has the QUESTION: “Where is this going?”
ANSWER:  Ohhhh, we are headed into the weekend, my friend.



  1. Number 3. Hyper-modest on top, naked on bottom? I don’t even… Or better: Y U wear tent, and Y U NO wear pants?

    Now that I think about it, though, that type of thing would really take off here in Korea. They wear skirts that cover exactly nothing but are completely scandalized by any sign of bosom.

    Thanks for the laugh!

  2. If you thought Anna Karenina was long take a look at War and Peace at 1400 pages! A long time ago I took a chance on it but soon gave up. How does anybody write so many words.

  3. About #3: I don’t think a dress is truly Mary-like unless it provides enough fabric to cover the whole lower body, the Baby Jesus, and a midwife so one can give birth in it.

  4. I tried to read War and Peace but ended up reading only Peace. I didn’t know enough history to read the War parts so I just skipped them. I’m going to try again, though.

  5. Loved Spidey, especially the 1967 version you are referring to and watching. Sincha, did you know the voice of Spiderman on that show is the same man (Paul Soles) who voiced Hermie on “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer?” And J Jonah Jameson was the head elf who harrassed him. It was actually a troupe of voice actors based in Canada and they were mentored by Orson Welles.

  6. To answer your spider man question: I don’t know whether Shakespeare would have had the same effect, but my youngest reacts the same way to the Doctor Who theme song. Which is much better than spider man theme song, because after the doctor who theme song comes a show that I actually want to watch. 🙂

  7. ’67 Spiderman IN COLOR (!!!). Thank you , Netflix. A while back the girls inexplicably let their power ebb temporarily and it resulted in ’67 Spiderman getting a two-week run as The Current Show. My kids aren’t big on mixing it up. There is a Current Show and Current Wii Game. I will never understand the political dynamics involved in the transitions, but there is something satisfying about a two year-old girl and seven year-old boy being of one mind regarding TV and Wii time, even if I cringe a little at my son saying he *wants* to watch BusyTown Mysteries or worry about scarring my daughter by letting her watch Star Wars. (The “worst” that has happened so far was her ending her prayer the other night with “St. Dart Bader, pay for us.”)

  8. I will judge you on the Spiderman thing. Because *MY* toddler is obsessed with Thundar the Barbarian!
    Honestly, our rule tends to be “If they’re going to be obsessed with crummy cartoons, it’s going to be OUR crummy cartoons, not that Sponge Bob crud.” They’re also big Dungeons and Dragons fans. And then, in an effort to give them some culture, we let them watch the Loony Tunes Complete collection, only to realize that it came with a ‘highly offensive, not for children under 17 warning’ after they’d already watched the whole thing.

    So yes. I will judge you for Spiderman.

  9. # 3 is hysterical! At first I thought it was a picture of you. Glad to hear that you have not given in to that fashion statement!

  10. I really liked Anna Karenina when I read it for the first time a few years ago. I found many parts very profound. I think my favorite passage was when Kitty’s mother equates letting your child pick her own husband without any parental guidance to handing a small child a loaded gun. Anna is really unlikable, but there are still a lot of great observations in there.

    I haven’t seen the movie version yet.

  11. We know it’s already too late for our one year old. She dances like crazy when she hears the Big Bang Theory theme song, and she makes zombie growling noises (that are more zombie-esque than cute) on demand.
    I’m a good mother, right?

  12. Just finished reading AK, which I loved in spite of really disliking Anna the entire time. Just saw the movie, which I didn’t like. Too bad, because it’s visually pretty and there were many vignettes within it which were well done. But the production uses this odd conceit that it’s all a stage production, and every scene change leads you back negotiating the backstage of a theater before you get to the next place. It’s extremely jarring and makes you not care about anyone because it’s all a play. You know how movie versions of stage productions never work? They deliberately turned this into a movie version of a play and it doesn’t work.

  13. I’ve had a couple of old spiderman-obsessed girls, and my nephew just came off a long spiderman jag. (He seems to think he’s outgrown all that, now it’s all about Batman.) I actually bought (and it was not cheap!) an animated series that did condesed Shakespeare plays in 30 minutes, but it did not take.

    I like Anna Karenina, but I tend to be depressive anyway.

  14. There is certainly something about Spiderman. It’s so nice to know others have to suffer through this old Spiderman, as it is the only thing my 3yo son requests to watch ad nauseum.

  15. I just finished reading Anna Karenina a couple days ago. I had attempted to read it as a teenager, but quit about 2/3 through because I thought it was boring. This time, I wasn’t so much interested in Anna’s story as in the other couple, Kitty and Levin. The description of their wedding was beautiful!
    I haven’t seen the movie yet, mostly because I’m afraid they’ll “glamorize” the adultery part. I’m very interested to hear what other people think of it, so I know whether to rent it or skip it!

  16. Spiderman?! Yup, I’m judgin’ because CLEARLY they should be watching the original Batman. Jeesh! what if our sons end up roommmates in seminary?

  17. I could never understand nursing covers. You might as well have hung a huge sign over your head with a big arrow pointing to you (NURSING A BABY RIGHT NOW!!!!!) I was very discreet and just lifted my shirt a little. You couldn’t see anything. I nursed everywhere.

    But what fun could you have with this one if you you just placed an air compressor hose in the back…oh nevermind.

  18. OMGSH!!!! I’m reading Anna Karenina too!!! (hyperventilates) Not re-reading though. I picked it up partly because I wanted to read Tolstoy and War and Peace was bogging me down.

    I’m mildly in love with Spiderman too (the Tobey Maguire edition), but I like Shakespeare’s Sonnets too. So no comment there.

  19. My youngest can sing the old Spiderman theme song AND the anvil song (in German) from Wagner’s “Siegfried.” Those youngest just have way too many eclectic influences. To give further instance of my family’s weirdness, my husband read “War and Peace” aloud to our teenagers as a bedtime story. By golly, it’s not going to be his fault if our kids don’t appreciate good literature and can only quote movie lines from LOR instead of actual text!!! It’s been a long time since I read Anna K. and remember liking it – although, what a rotten way to die. I wonder if I’d like it now. I reread “Jane Eyre” recently, remembering that I loved it as a young lass. But as an old middle-aged dame, all I could do was roll my eyes at all the melodrama and the preachy lines and wish she had had a better editor.

  20. I was going to read AK several years ago and just decided to be lazy and watch the Greta Garbo movie. It was good. I remember thinking that her husband, who in the movie wanted to save their marriage, really had a Catholic way of viewing marriage. I can’t remember what the line was but I was impressed. Too bad he was such a stiff fellow.

  21. See, the thing I couldn’t cope with with Dostoyevsky (and, by extrapolation, Tolstoy) was the names, which I couldn’t pronounce, but every time I came across one, had to *try* to pronounce, several times, in my head. By the time I’d figured an approximate pronunciation I’d forgotten who was related to whom and what the point of the story was. Every time. Good for you for trying again.

  22. Oh my, Benny is beautiful! You’re right though, when the husband says he’ll take the kids you grab your purse and RUN!!

  23. @Rebecca: wow, that was a perfect review of the AK movie. In less eloquent words, I thought it was just bizarre. I mean, cool in theory–but really, just bizarre.

    I read AK on bedrest and enjoyed it even though I knew what was coming. I’ve heard that it only gets better as one ages and rereads it. In college, we were required to read War and Peace AND The Brothers K in one summer. I got through War and Peace but sadly have yet (!) to finish The Brothers K.

    Maybe I could hide a copy of it underneath that nursing tent and people would leave me to read in peace….

  24. AK 2012 movie is bad. Really bad. If you ever liked Tolstoy, or Russian literature in general, avoid this shame. Keira can’t act, and I can’t remember such a horrible miscast as this Vronsky.
    If I were a Russian, I’d demand an apology from the authors of this travesty.

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