Thanks for Summarizing the News, George
Now I can turn it off.
Now I can turn it off.
Headline in Southeast Asia (Thailand) Newspaper
I read a great article from an editor about how to feel about editing. It was good. She used “literally,” which isn’t a crime, and she used it correctly but it usually falls into my expendable word pile. And she “essentially” says to ignore what you don’t want to hear. I agree, to an extent. That article is from Literary Architect
I also watched a Lifetime movie. Talk about fondue…I digress.
What I want to know is, with all the rules and formulas out there, what is “right”? Said only? The other day I read “said is dead”. Unlike the heart of Rock n Roll I believe it. Check this out – randomly Googled scene builders and breakers dialogue tags –
articulated ejaculated narrated phonated recounted related sounded told uttered verbalized vocalized voiced accounted alleged assumed conjectured considered deemed estimated gossiped held reckoned regarded reported rumored supposed thought aloud announced communicated expressed mentioned equivocated sung sang spoke pronounced broadcast / ed disclosed divulged noted prevaricate / ed asseverate / ed (Thank you, Elmore Leonard) acknowledged argued claimed came back defended disputed mewled explained parried pleaded rebutted refuted rejoined remarked retorted refused returned sassed barked squealed screamed shouted retaliated enunciated pronounced mouthed off professed swore exclaimed sighed whispered chimed in stated spat drooled murmured
If you suffer from stilted dialogue, or fear dialogue you can write the most trite shit ever uttered, add one of those evocative tags and find an adverb to support it. Or –
Rodney whipped a nickel plated nine out of his shoulder holster, and with no mercy in his eyes he leveled it at Martin’s nose. “You say ‘show don’t tell’ one more time, Imma kill you, motherfucker.”
He professed, sternly.
In Revising Prose rhetorician Richard Lanham called for “translating the Official Style into plain English.” Simplified it comes down to finding the epidemic of “catalog like monotony” of multiple prepositional phrases strung together without a direct verb. Glued together with the weakest verb we have, “is.” He asserts that it has become criminal to state a situation for what it is without a lot of flowery gobbledygook that goes nowhere. He repeatedly, from students to published peers, finds ways to insert an active verb into a string of “of” and turn 35 words into 11. “Noun centeredness…generates most of our present day prose sludge.” He wrote this in the 70s.
Why do I post this? I have been bombarded of late with mystics and gnomes and fairies and wise travelers from the stars and desert islands who all speak like a combination of the Old Testament and any B grade 1940’s pirate flick. Attacked by dialogue stiffer than an Oxford cloth shirt fresh from the cleaners. By stories full of travelogue scene setting while a character takes a walk and internalizes the last scene just to be sure we, as readers, got it. Tell and ‘splain with the rusty light pole at the corner of 47th and Crishaven and Tony’s deli where they don’t know my name. Full of “is” and “of” and a prayer stringing it all together like a redneck’s Christmas lights.
Rant over. The book, should any of you who write care, is Revising Prose by Richard Lanham. The man can “Break it dowwwwwn.” Word by useless word. Thus it’s essentially like just an awesomeness casserole of basically cool word whatevers for ye.
Senator Ted Cruz – The whole world’s on fire!
Three-year old-girl – The world is on fire?!
Senator Cruz – YES! Your world is on fire. But you know what? Your mommy’s here, and everyone’s here to make sure the world you grow up in is even better.
From a campaign stop in Barrington, New Hampshire – The Header slogan is from a widespread Texas bumper sticker. Canada can have him back anytime…
Anybody remember 1972? Watergate? Nixon?
Alice was spot on then, and here we go round in circles.
(You have to wait for the Hilary/Trump fight at the end)
Band guys got a pass on the Women’s room, if it was empty, the men’s was loaded and they posted a guard. Jackson qualified on all counts and hit the women’s room at The Regent. He stood in front of the mirrored wall, took in the marble, gold tone fixtures, the leather and velvet chairs in the ‘parlor’. The fine art prints, framed quotes from famous women written in calligraphy. It was what he thought the hotels must have been like when he heard old recordings of bands from the Forties.
“From the ballroom of the fabulous Regent, high atop Oilman’s Bank Tower rising like Xanadu above the waving wheat and Oil derricks of Oklahoma we bring you…” It folded right there because he’d forgotten what band name Glenn said they were using for the best New Year’s 1975 gig around. But the women’s room was posh. He’d heard the phrase “tart’s palace” used to describe one, probably equally as posh, in the –
“Jackson?” His drummer watchdog tapped on the door, rhythmically and not too quietly. “Whip it out, get it on and get over it, bro. Women are dancing in the aisles out here.”
Jackson finished tucking his shirt tail in, checked his zipper twice, shrugged into his tux jacket, made sure he’d flushed and complied with the unwritten seat down rule. He reached for the polished brass handle and stopped for another calligraphy quote attached to the inside of the women’s room door.
There are only two things in life that should be hard. One of them is Jolly Ranchers. All else troublesome is merely difficult. – Amanda Morisé
Three songs into the third set Glenn said the slow acoustic version of “Wonderful World” was up, by special request, so everyone in the band but Robbie the bass player got a free break song. Jackson stepped off the riser thinking he’d shunted all the “Do you wanna dance” requests by now. Alix asked this time, her French accent caressing her words.
“You would dance with me, when again there is music?”
“Sorry, can’t. I’m working.” He tried a sidestep.
“As am I.” She smiled, took his hand and he was out into the dance floor with her like his feet and hers were on the same wavelength. She set herself in front of him, right in front of him, caught his eyes with the sparkle in hers. “There is the problem, of you and girls?”
“I like girls just fine, but —”
“I am the girl most as you should like them, I think. So we dance, no?”
When he heard the intro, he took Alix’s right hand with his left, put his right hand on her hip, and pulled her left and back.
“Don’t know much bi-ol-o-gee-ee…”
“The old-fashioned way? I am such the ugly goose? The old foggy?”
“Duck. And fogey. Old fogey. No, you’re not. I don’t dance much, slow dance even less, that’s all. I’ll box step, you add what you want. I’ll try not to let you fall.”
“For such there are reasons? Medical? Mental?”
“When I was eleven or twelve, my parents sent me to this place on Friday nights. Something Soirée.”
“Soirée. So bad for you, the party?” He moved her around in a big square, not too awkwardly. It didn’t hurt that she seemed to read his mind when he needed to turn her, and her waist was made for his hand.
“Our parents sent us, boys and girls. It was a fake party, a party class. They played records, taught us how to ask a girl to dance. How to bow, how to curtsy.”
“Ahh! As was I taught!” She took a half step back, curtsied fluidly in perfect time with the music, and stepped back into his hands. “A curtsy most professional was obtained by you, after such instruction?”
“In fairness the gentleman must demonstrate as well, no?”
“I…” Damn…He waited for the downbeat, let go of her and folded into his well-rehearsed Cary Grant stage bow, caught her left hand on his way up, brushed it with his lips and raised it. She spun out and back into place like they’d never been apart.
“Delightful!” She leaned in closer. “More was learned, I think, in la soirée?“
“They taught us to be ‘polite and considerate,’ not to run like a herd of cows to the couple of girls back then who already had boobs. I had to learn the ‘important social graces’.”
“Most important I think, not to run at girls with breasts. You learned this well, to snuck up on the breasts?”
“Sneak up. Yeah, but after that, we were about halfway through their program and I asked my dad if I could stop going. He asked me why, I told him it was boring. My mother had beaten all of that manners stuff into me already, so I got the polite rules. He said, ‘Your mother won’t like it, but I’ll sell it for you’. So I missed the second half, the dance lessons.”
“So boring for you, oui? To ask most politely of the girls without breasts a dance, more instruction of the curtsy?”
“Don’t know much about the French I took…”
“No, the real problem was, well, around then if I even got too close to a girl, held her hand, danced with her, just being that close, I got…Excited. Couldn’t control it.”
“Excited? You had the freak down and break out?”
“Freak out, break down. No, I got a banana in my pants, okay? Out of nowhere, there it was. I had on loose dress slacks, it was embarrassing. So I always slow dance this way, just in case.”
“Oh, my love…” Alix laughed, almost tripped. Jackson caught her, and they were in a full-on dip. He could smell her perfume, felt her breath on his neck before he pulled her up. “Only in dancing you become excited, or the closeness les femmes?”
“The closeness anywhere, I guess. That summer my mom bought me this way off swimsuit. It was tight, some kind of knit stuff, with orange stripes. It looked like it was painted on, you know, ‘look everybody, here’s my biz!’ It was worse because we’d go to the pool, there were girls in bikinis and the same excited thing would happen. I spent the whole summer in the water, turning into a prune. I got a tan from the shoulders up.”
“The most excited prune, no? With the banana of pants for swimming?” She fell out again. “Would you not ask your mother for the pants of swimming more forgiving in such ways?” She was laughing harder, people were staring at the band guy dancing with the “French Morisé” in big baggy I Dream of Jeannie silk pants.
“Alix, how do you tell your mom, ‘When I walk past a girl I get a chub, I need some jams to hide it’?”
Thank God the song was over. Alix was still laughing when she kissed him on the cheek and thanked him for the dance. Break out and freak down ho-lee shit for real. It was a good thing his underwear was tight because Amanda’s partner was made out of female electricity. He’d only grazed her hip when she’d tripped and that was all it took.
“The boy…Your petit amour…” Alix was having trouble talking through her laughter. “My champagne?”
Amanda handed Alix her glass. “Why did you ask him to dance? I told the girls to leave him alone, with the exception of Beverly in that two-extra-cheeks-to-powder skirt.”
“Ah, my love, for one so young? He sees the woman, not the skirt. Yet he dances with me as his mother, no? This, I think, is the boy who visits you, on the day of your phone call most disruptive. Work I must do and Amanda, always most severe, at once she is the giggles and laughs of the schoolgirl? I decide I must see your petit amour, oui? To hear myself as he speaks most cleverly to you.”
“Was that it, the dancing giant’s story? He told you that?”
“No, my love, he told to me stories of a young boy awakened. Of the instruction in
la soirée dansante, and the pool for swimming where he was most troubled by that which is hard and unforgiving.”
Amanda folded her arms, studied her champagne glass. “Life is hard and unforgiving, Alix.”
“As is that which is not the Jolly Rancher, my love.”
The dance and two song lines are courtesy of “What a Wonderful World” by Sam Cooke
The real world has left Bobby B in the swamp between Lafayette and Baton Rouge with $2 million. So, in the meantime – In my Fairy Tale, the Minstrel Prince and Bookworm Feminist Princess share a pair of Lesbian Fairy Godmothers. One of them is a rich, impatient, no nonsense French lawyer named Alixandrie, who was introduced here
Jackson held the door of his apartment for Alix, kicked the pizza box out of her way and picked up the green plastic trash bag Dash should have taken outside.
“Should your mother and Amanda discover how you live, my custody of your welfare would be questioned. My love, the word…encombrement most extreme.”
“Oui! Your French, it improves! You know of the clothes? How which is to who?”
“I’m the one who doesn’t wear nylon underwear. The jeans are pretty easy to tell, and all the socks go in one basket.”
“A commune of chaussettes?”
“Socks. I know that one. Will you knock it off with the French?”
“My love, the shock. Most severe. I may assist you, perhaps Saturday? I require from you only the protective gloves. As well for the odor, something, yes? In return as now my kitchen becomes beautifully new by your skill?”
“Alix, you can’t come help me clean, and you don’t owe me anything for installing your new appliances. This place? Dash is leaving after Christmas. I’ll make some changes after that happens. I’ll clean it up, you can help me pick some furniture.”
“Oh petite amour how you may survive? Vous vivez de cette façon et l’étude?”
“Come on Alix, more than one?”
“Ah, forgive me petit amour. I have said you live as such and study? C’est impossible.”
“It’s college, Alix. American college, not Deanna’s postcard college.”
“Your voice, the tone of it, how do you say, ‘It sells you out?’ The weight of your worry, my love. Release it. She, I believe, is well.” Alix let the weight of compassion in her comment hang for a moment above the piles of laundry, the pizza boxes, beer and Sprite cans, hoped Deanna’s recent fear and relief hadn’t entered her own voice. “As you ask of me I speak with her when she telephones. We are as thieves that whisper in the night. Amanda, should she discover us, may, as you say, ‘take the big shit.’”
“I didn’t mean for Deanna to be a —”
“Shhh. Certain troubles of women must be shared only with another woman. Even a girl as the Little Jewel has such times. As you, she becomes mine. She belongs to all of Morisé, but time is required to soften and heal damaged hearts. Written on time, the tales of our hearts, no?” She picked up and immediately dropped a pair of jeans, went to the sink and ran water over her fingers. “Kennedy, la petite ballerine who speaks with me in French the times we are together? You have spoken? She has danced Tchaikovsky well, cracked the nuts of Baltimore?”
“She stole the shows, got rave reviews, said to tell you ‘Joyeux Noël.’ The night before she left she got past her big metaphysical facade and told me about what really hurt and after she unloaded she said she felt ‘beautiful’ again. Just before she fell asleep on the couch.”
“Your charms, my love, known well are they not to become tiresome? In your favor, a woman who may unfold her dreams and pain without fear becomes beautiful always. As also unfolds the towel that does not offend the nose?”
“Second drawer down, on your right. No, your right”
She dried her hands, made a face and tossed the towel into the middle of the room with the scattered dirty laundry. “You will see your mother at Christmas? She worries.”
“No, she’ll be dealing with little brother and his ‘might marry this one, might be pregnant’ girlfriend and that’s too much. You’re the only one who knows what’s really going on out here. What do you tell her that she worries?”
“I fear to describe to her the truth. No, I tell her always of your concern for her and your father. Of your success. Not of the vulgar music, the diet of pizza and fizzy sugar drinks, the most unsuitable petite danseuse who with you destructs my furniture, not of this,” she looked around the apartment, “this…house for the dog.”
“Your coffee table was my fault, don’t blame it on Logan. We were practicing for that stupid dance class, I got my feet tangled up with hers and we fell. You got a new coffee table for my birthday.”
“Pfffft! I have heard in words of your own how you become with la femme in the closeness of ‘dance.’ Destined to become the two of you in a dance most horizontal, no? ‘Dance’ as such furniture becomes destructed escapes even me. And I am French.” She waved her hand in a wide arc at the apartment again. “This…No, no more. It becomes…Intolerable, oui? Come. I desire spicy food and the Mexican biere rouge. No lime. Tonight I discover in it a green pepper most divine I think. We go where you know of the angry men who debate with us what we eat.”
She stepped over the pizza box that kept sliding back in the doorway, kicked it backwards with her heel, turned, looked up and put her finger on his nose. “Saturday, my love. I arrive and make uses of myself. Or before it shall be clean. You are advised. In the strongest of terms.”