Twelve Shirley MacLaine Thoughts To Break Up Awkward Silences : Monkey See Shirley MacLaine's new book, I'm Over All That, is an unusual read, but it might help you bluff your way through a few awkward silences with your sheer courage.
NPR logo Twelve Shirley MacLaine Thoughts To Break Up Awkward Silences

Twelve Shirley MacLaine Thoughts To Break Up Awkward Silences

Simon & Schuster
The cover of Shirley MacLaine's I'm Over All That.
Simon & Schuster

Anyone who makes comments about how Charlie Sheen is the only Hollywood celebrity who just says whatever he wants does not read books by Shirley MacLaine.

She's got a new one out today, called I'm Over All That. In it, she discusses — in chapters that range from very short ("I Can't Get Over My Frustration At Not Being Able To Open Anything I Buy," which is about packaging) to very long ("I Wonder If I Will Be Over The Drama Of 2012," which is about the Mayan calendar and how the magnetic poles are being reversed and so forth), she explains what she is "over" and "not over."

There is a ton of politics in the book, but not necessarily in any predictable way. MacLaine blames her asthma on George W. Bush, not because of environmental policy but because she says she disliked him so much that she couldn't breathe. Basically, she felt so oppressed that she got asthma. But she also thinks that Barack Obama may have been "'chosen' by the global banking elite" and supports an investigation into whether he supports a "one-world government."

One thing she is not over is telling stories about her past lives, the thing for which she is probably best known in pop culture outside of her actual acting career. There's a humdinger about how she was androgynous at some ancient moment, and then she participated in the ceremony that split her (and others) into male and female halves, and then the two halves of her had sex with each other. Also, she has nothing nice to say about the director of Steel Magnolias, because he was mean to Dolly Parton.

The book is more than a little bit all over the place, is what I'm saying. It is, however, highly entertaining just on a page-by-page basis, in the sense that you do perpetually feel like, on the next page, she may be about to say something even more unusual than the thing she said on the page you are currently reading. It occurred to me finally that one thing you can definitely take away from this book are some awkward-pause-killers.

What I mean is that we all find ourselves in moments where conversation just comes to a halt. Nobody is saying anything. The energy feels awkward and forced. What you need is something that is certain to get you over the hump and get people talking, and this book is full of just such tidbits. Here are some to get you started.

1. "I meditated on an inner sun within my solar plexus."

2. "The can-can was performed in France without underwear; that's why it was considered risque."

3. "I want to talk about UFOs and some of your opinions on such things." [something she remembers angrily saying to Bill O'Reilly]

4. "I believe I am still being surveyed in every way by military intelligence."

5. "The people in Radio Shack don't know what electronics are."

6. "I will get some chickens when I feel the time is right."

7. "After some hard thought, I had my face lifted. Never do that in the middle of a love affair because it's disconcerting to your partner."

8. "Never sit where there is an overhead light. It makes you look like Grandma Moses."

9. "One of my problems in life is that I'm ten years ahead of the curve on matters of spiritual science and self-exploration. In social settings, I continually have to work to keep my conversation simple and my investigations a personal matter."

10. "Dark chocolate is good for the pancreas and milk chocolate is good for something else I can't remember, but I don't like it much anyway."

11. "I smoked pot twice while on tour and practically ate the furniture in the hotel room."

12. "Often I ask my Higher Self which way to go in a traffic jam."