She Loved Big Brother

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Lots of folks recognize the opening lines to famous novels.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.

“ ‘Tom!’

No answer.

‘Tom!’

No answer.”

Adventures of Tom Sawyer, of course. Or my favorite, the opening to the best Poe short story ever:

“The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge.” That’s from The Cask of Amontillado. If you haven’t read it, you need to.

Memorable last lines are harder to find, or at any rate, harder for me to think of. Speaking as a soon-to-be-published author myself, I can assure you that, by the time that last bit rolls around, you’re just slopping words on the page. For the beleaguered writer, “And they all lived happily ever after” seems a witty, insightful, original way to close a book.

Only one closing line has lodged itself in my memory. (I was going to claim two lines, but I just checked my complete-works-o’-Shakespeare and, dang, “Good night, sweet Prince” isn’t the ultimate line of Hamlet. Close, though.) I will not give away the fabulous ending to George Orwell’s 1984, because you need to read it yourself, but here is a hint: It is only four words long, and half of those words are “Big Brother.”

Being a fan of civil liberties and privacy, I am not the sort to readily embrace tools that will help Big Brother spy on me. Try reading Jeffery Deaver’s latest Lincoln Rhyme thriller, Broken Window, for a creepy reminder of the risks of ceding privacy. (Read this after you read 1984 though, okay? But do read the Deaver. He’s the best thing going in thrillers. Great characters, great details, and absolutely brilliant plot twists.)

Nonetheless, on Sunday I went and plonked down more money than I care to admit so as to purchase a webcam. With this handy new tool, I was able to set up my very own porn site!

Kidding.

The webcam is a really cool toy. Back in the days before cell phones—and seriously, folks, it wasn’t that long ago—it was a big deal to make a long distance call. I remember having an internet friend who lived hundreds of miles away. I spoke to him a few times by phone, but only on holidays, when the long distance rates were reduced.

With cell phones I don’t think twice about dialing long distance. And with my webcam, long distance calls—very long distance, as in, to folks in the next country—are now accompanied with real-time video. For free.

Thanks for the technology, Big Brother!

In other news, I’ve sort of… completely changed my diet. For several years now I’ve been trying a low-carb sort of approach. This is because every carb I consume goes directly to my waist and takes up permanent residence. I can show them no mercy.

But limiting carbs gets real old after a while, and, in the course of reading a book, I decided to make some drastic changes.

The book I read is called Eat This, Not That. Is that a great title, or what? It has big pretty color pictures of foods that are good (“Eat This!”) and foods that are bad (“Not That!”). There are words to explain why, but it’s okay to skip over the explanations and just follow along with the pictures.

So, for the past week or so, the foods I’ve been eating have been disgustingly healthy. For instance, breakfasts have consisted of plain yogurt, walnuts, blueberries, and flax. We’re talking about more carbs than before, but also way more nutrients, and far less fat, saturated fat, salt, and sugar. Whether this results in a svelte figure remains to be seen.

I’m rather hoping it does. The stupid webcam has gone and exposed all my lies about being a supermodel. Piece of junk. Want my money back.

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5 responses »

  1. Good luck on the disgustingly healthy stuff–I’ll say this; just hearing the word "flax" kind of takes my heart right out of eating. Do tell: is there a picture of pop-tarts anywhere on the "not that" pages?Also good luck with the web-cam. Yet another thing I’ll never buy because a. I hate figuring out technology, and b. I’m cheap. I know. I’m old, and cantankerous. But web-cams scare the crap out of me–if people can see me, do I have to buy a new, dressier set of pyjamas (which is pretty much my house uniform) or a pair of shorts that don’t have huge gaping holes in them (my back-up around the house uniform)? Brave new world, my ass. Scary old sloppily dressed don’t-look-good-in-the-morning world, more like.

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  2. So you want a last line, huh? Well, I hate to bring in the big guns, but it is, hands down, Norman Maclean’s "A River Runs Through It":"Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.I am haunted by waters."

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  3. Hope the diet works out – I’ve read some excerpts that were posted on lifehacker and they sound medically reasonable. If it doesn’t kill you, I may try it :)Jenn and I used cheap webcams with Skype to make video calls when I was living in Japan. If you can just avoid being a 15-second star on /b/ I think you’ll be fine.

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  4. 1984 is one of my favorite books ever. And my dad just got me hooked on the Big Brother TV show, and it’s mindless and addictive. But it amuses me that it’s been on ten seasons and I finally got the Big Brother/1984 reference. Duh, Cara, duh.I haven’t read Eat This, Not That, but I read Skinny Bitch recently, and that one definitely made an impact on me. I think you might like it. 🙂

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  5. "Tomorrow is another day." – Margaret Mitchell, although my copy has either moved to Virginia or is on loan somewhere in NC so I cannot verify that absolutely.Be wary, you may be turning into me. Infinitely more witty, alluring and brainy, but the bare bones are me – near-sighted, carb-bellied, yoga-inclined, tofu-gulping cat co-habiter.There is a web cam on this computer, although cats are regularly repositioning it. Haven’t the foggiest notion of how to play with it Either the cats or Dad will have to teach me.lm

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