February 17, 2017

It’s time to play: Fragment of Great Literature or Line from a Michael Bay Movie?!


This, beautiful ones, is Michael Bay. Via Wikimedia Commons.

Gather close, children. I have much to tell you. The news starts bad, but then it gets good.

The bad news is, well, the news. No one can agree what the truth means, the end times are surely coming, we’re blaming all the wrong people, and, oh yeah, yesterday the president of the United States said these words, out loud, on purpose:

“The leaks are real. The leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake because so much of the news is fake.”

So, yeah. We’re gonna die.

The better news is that today’s a banner day for escapism, because it’s the birthday of legendary filmmaker, and America’s escapist-in-chief, Michael Bay. He’s fifty-two and looking great. We wish him the best.

Because America deserves a breath, and because you (yes, you!) have now officially survived four weeks of the Shitgibbon Administration, we thought we’d offer a modest amusement.

The game is called Fragment of Great Literature or Line from a Michael Bay Movie?. The rules are simple (a pen and paper may help, if you’ve got ’em): we’ll list some sentences. For each sentence, you try and guess whether it’s a fragment of great literature, or a line from a Michael Bay movie. A correct answer is worth two points. And you get and extra three points if you can name the great work of literature or Michael Bay movie the line is from. Sounds fun, right!? Answers at the very bottom.

Also, don’t cheat. Yes, you.

Alright, who’s ready to play Fragment of Great Literature or Line from a Michael Bay Movie??!

  1. “There’s only twelve stories. They change around little details, but they’re all pretty much the same. The life you think you had before the ‘contamination’ — it never happened.”
  2. “I like sub commanders. They have no time for bullshit, and neither do I.”
  3. “It’s funny how people who get mixed up with black magic do suddenly look like death’s heads—they will grin and there is nothing but a skull peering at you, at once it’s all over—but you remember. Sex is an exception.”
  4. “Legendary warriors! The powers that created us now want us all extinguished.”
  5. “Well, all this speculating about alibis at faster than light speeds. My head starts to feel like a balloon, and god only knows what you’re talking about. Better bring me some coffee.”
  6. “You’re a bit much, you and your brute of a husband… I would have thought you had more heart than that. Really, it’s all quite beyond me.”
  7. “I have been digging holes in the earth for thirty years. And I have never, never missed a depth that I have aimed for. By God, I am not going to miss this one. I will make 800 feet.”
  8. “There’s the window or the door or whatever it was I came in by. It’s not hopelessly shut — is it? Why don’t I find it and be off?”
  9. “Your explanation is psychologically impossible. You remind me of one of those novelists who focuses entirely on action but neglects the characters. Do not forget that, without the human element, no work of literature would ever endure.”
  10. “A bullet in the head will really mess up your extensions!”


(scroll down to see the answers)











(keeeeeep scrollin’)











(just a little further)





  1. From The Island, a 2005 Michael Bay movie. The line is spoken by Steve Buscemi, as maintenance supervisor James McCord.
  2. From Pearl Harbor, a 2001 Michael Bay movie. The line is spoken by Jon Voight, as FDR.
  3. Kind of a softball, because this doesn’t really sound like a Michael Bay movie, does it? From Mina Loy’s amazing novel, Insel.
  4. From Transformers: Age of Extinction, a 2014 Michael Bay movie. The line is spoken by Peter Cullen, as Optimus Prime, addressing the Dinobots. Cullen is also the voice of Eeyore in classic Winnie-the-Pooh cartoons.
  5. The words of Inspector Peter Glebsky in The Dead Mountaineer’s Innthe masterpiece of genre combustion by Soviet brothers Boris and Arkady Strugatsky. A beloved classic in Russia, it’s not as well-known among English-speakers as it should be.
  6. Not Michael Bay! Lines from La Femme de Gilles, in which Madeleine Bourdouxhe traces out an especially complicated love triangle. A friend of Simone de Beauvoir and all-around bad-ass, she left France just after the book’s initial release, when Gallimard, her publisher, was taken over by Nazis. She fled to her native Belgium and fought in the Resistance. Yeah she did.
  7. Yes Michael Bay! That is Bruce Willis as Harry Stamper in 1998’s Armageddon, speaking to William Fichtner’s Colonel Willie Sharp. Something about asteroids?
  8. No way, no Bay! This is the New Zealand modernist Katherine Mansfield! At the Bay, her angular portrait of a day in the life of the Burnell family, still feels razor-sharp as it approaches a hundred years old.
  9. See what we did? After luring you in with an early softball, we’re rewarding the hearty few, those who persevere to the very end of Fragment of Great Literature or Line from a Michael Bay Movie?, with a late-in-the-game softball. Because no, you didn’t think that was Michael Bay. And you were right. In fact, that is the Argentine husband-and-wife dynamic duo of Adolfo Bioy Casares and Silvina Ocampo, legendary Borges collaborators, legendary writers, legendary cutie-pies. Their outrageously smart collabo Where There’s Love, There’s Hate sends up mystery in part by nailing mystery. A joy.
  10. Bad Boys II may not be Michael Bay’s best-ever movie. Still, and it kind of sounds crazy now, but fourteen years ago, a ton of people went to see it. This is something Will Smith says as Detective Lieutenant Mike Lowry.



0-10: You hate movies, reading, or both.
10-20: “The news is fake because so much of the news is fake.” (Sorry.)
20-30: Solid. Keep it up.
30-40: You may be Michael Bay’s biggest fan, or a phenomenal reader of twentieth-century literature.
40-50: You are lying.