Inside the Director’s Studio: Alfred Finchcock’s, “The Words”

Good evening and welcome to Inside the Director’s Studio. I am your host, James Lipton Onion Soup Mix. (Polite applause)
My guest this evening is the esteemed director, Alfred Finchcock. (Applause)

James: Mr. Finchcock, welcome to our program. We are honored by your presence.

Alfred: As you should be. (Laughter)

J: Tonight we want to focus on one of your most controversial films to date, specifically, “The Words.”

For those who have not yet had the opportunity to attend a screening of this groundbreaking work would you provide a brief summary of the plot?

A: I would be happy to oblige; although, I find it most difficult to believe that any within the range of my voice have not yet viewed this masterpiece. (Polite laughter)

In this story we find a worldly woman…

J: Played by the lovely Tipsy Headroom.

A: …who purchases a pair of weighty tomes, specifically Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary and Roget’s Thesaurus, as gifts for the sister of a handsome man she encounters in a San Francisco book store.

J: You cast Prod Trailer in the role of Mitch. Interesting choice.

A: Quite. I considered his dark good looks the perfect counterpoint to Miss Headroom’s blonde Melanie. Dark, light. Male/female. Tall/less tall.

J: So far, we have an endearing story about a pretty woman buying a nice gift for a little girl. Your genius is in turning the innocent into infamy.

A: When Melanie, an unmarried woman of a certain age delivers the books to Mitch’s island home the tension begins to build.

J: The special effects are so subtle, so subliminal in the beginning. For example, the word, “exacerbate” slips by in the water as Melanie rows herself and the books to Mitch’s home.

A: I am singularly surprised that you caught that. But, you are correct. It was my intention to slowly build word upon word until the audience was gasping at each verbal assault.

J: Please continue.

A: Melanie’s gift is well-received by Mitch’s sister, a budding young author entranced by words. And Melanie is urged to stay over for the weekend.

J: Perhaps this is what triggers the chaos?

A: I was not overly concerned by causation; however, the audience might very well construe the surge of suppressed hormonal urges as the basis for the initial attacks.

J: And, attacks are forthcoming.

A: Indeed. The evening of Melanie’s arrival a loud bump is heard outside the home. Upon investigation the word, “melancholia” is found lying broken in a puddle beside the porch.

In each successive scene the number and intensity of the attacks increase until there are too many to be discounted.

J: Mr. Finchcock, critics have said that your subject was too broad. That perhaps you should have focused on verbs or nouns or adjectives.

A: James, if one observed carefully one would note that I arranged each attack around a specific part of speech.

J: Please elaborate.

A: In the phone booth, Melanie was attacked by a host of nouns: “Umbrage!” “Castration!” “Misogyny!”

When the children in the schoolyard came under siege it was by adjectives: “Allegorical!” “Voluptuous!” “Incendiary!”

J: Oh, and the attack on the birthday! Those could all be verbs! “Manipulate, castigate, endeavor!”

My God! You pulled it all together!

A: Quite so. The climactic scene is one in which our heroine is rendered catatonic by battling a frenetic flock of adverbs. “Forcefully!” “Fanatically!” “Morbidly!” “Moribundly!”

But the denouement…

J: Leaves us with verbiage of all kinds, waiting in silence for…

A: Who knows? The trigger could be an exhalation or an obfuscation.

J: And that, sir, is why we worship your art.

A: As you should.

J: One more question before we must let you go. Tipsy Headroom, is she just another famous Finchcock blonde? Why couldn’t a brunette have played this role?

A: I do have a predilection for blondes, but in “The Words,” I intentionally wanted to dispel the stereotype of the dumb blonde. In order to have survived at all my leading lady had to have linguistic skills of the highest caliber.

J: Again, I tip my fictional fedora to you. Here’s to much success with “The Words.” Thank you again for allowing us to come Inside the Director’s Studio.

A: My pleasure. (Applause)

Praying for Eyebrowz: The Band

If you read my initial blog post, “Begin the Beguine” you know that the name of my blog stems from an encounter with an esthetician. She was a 60-something earth mother type with long frizzy red hair and clothes straight out of Woodstock. I don’t remember her name, so let’s call her Ditzy.

Ditzy accompanied me back to her treatment room and had me lie down on the table. She immediately got as close to my face as humanly possible without actually kissing me. My mind was thinking, “Whoa, whoa, whoa! I didn’t sign up for this!” Then just as abruptly she tsk tsk’d and pulled away.

Tsk, tsk? No one had ever tsk tsk’d at my face. Maybe I should have let her kiss me.

“What?” I asked.

“Well, I hate to tell you this,” she began, “Your skin looks really great, but your eyebrows.” Again, she tsk’d. “You see, your eyebrows are just too sparse.”

“Oh. Um, sorry. Is there anything I can do about that?”

“Let me ask you something of a serious nature,” Ditzy said.

“Sure, Ditzy,” I nodded cautiously, certain now that my esthetician might not be operating on all six cylinders. “Ask away.”

“Do you believe in a higher power?”

“Why yes, yes I do,” I said, wondering where this was headed.

“Well, then just pray. Pray for eyebrows.”

Alrighty then.

Now, I’m a big believer in the power of prayer. I pray nightly for peace, for an end to world hunger, for the health and well-being of my family and friends, but I’d never really thought about praying for thicker eyebrows.

So as Ditzy stopped tsk-ing and began giving me a lovely, relaxing facial, I contemplated asking God to bestow this favor on me. The thought made me giggle.

“Please relax those facial muscles,” said Ditzy.

“Mmhm” I mumbled, drifting away.

I knew I couldn’t ask our Heavenly Father for something like eyebrows. I liked the thought, though. Praying for Eyebrows. Change the spelling to make it edgy. Praying for Eyebrowz. Ooh, I liked that. That sounded like the name of an alt rock indie band. “Praying for Eyebrowz” featuring Nana Noyz on lead vocals. Our first single: “Ditzy Tsk.” It’ll be a hit for sure.

Peace, People.

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Finding Love at the Piggly Wiggly

Studly and I met on the condiments aisle of the Piggly Wiggly store my dad managed in Dumas, Texas. The year was 1974, the summer preceding my senior year of high school. Studly had recently started working for my dad, and I was new to Dumas, having just moved from the metropolis of Floydada, TX. Yep, Floydada. Look it up; it’s a place.

A provocative question began our romance: “Excuse me sir,” I said. “Could you please show me where the ketchup is?”

I felt a little flustered when he stood up and pointed to the neatly lined bottles of Heinz and DelMonte arrayed right in front of me, and I’m sure my face turned a bright ketchupy red. He was cute, but I was a geek, so I put him out of my mind. The variable I hadn’t considered, though, was my double whammy status as the new girl AND the boss’s daughter.

According to Studly he followed me around town all that summer. I had no idea, and that was a good thing. I was so awkward around members of the opposite sex that had I known of his interest I’d have certainly screwed up any chance of our ever dating. So, I remained happily oblivious until school started.

Call it destiny, karma, or luck, our schedules coincided to put us in the same second hour class that first semester. Studly started walking me to class. He even carried my books, something that was sweet and touching and slightly embarrassing all at the same time. He was funny and easy to talk to and pretty soon I was smitten. I’m glad he was smitten, as well.

Peace, People.

Thirty-eight Years of Living Dangerously

On Wednesday Studly and I will celebrate our 38th wedding anniversary. Not bad considering some guests at our wedding ceremony were placing bets on our marriage not lasting more than a year. We were just kids, after all, not even out of our teens.

Like every other couple who have managed to stay together for any length of time we have experienced tremendous ups and treacherous downs, and everything in between. And yet we’ve managed to survive with relatively minor scars.

I asked Studly to tell me what he believes to be the secret to sustaining a long marriage, and after much thought (2.5 seconds) he came up with two key elements:

1. Don’t die,

2. Don’t divorce

He was serious.

I’d like to add my own thoughts, but I’m busy banging my head against a wall right now.

Peace, People!

Just For Gaffes (edited)

I owe my life to “I Love Lucy.” Not in any literal sense, but certainly in some sort of metaphysical way. Lucy’s propensity for doing the wrong thing at the right time set a disturbingly cool precedent for me back in the days when the television was actually a pretty decent babysitter. Lucy’s grape stomping, ledge climbing, chocolate wrapping legacy, if nothing else, gave me permission to be my goofy self with no, ok, a few apologies.

But Lucy wasn’t my only influence. My mom, Freida, and her younger sister, Nedra, lent their wackiness to my formative years, as well. Once while waiting to pick up a relative at the small airport in Amarillo, the pair scurried off to answer the call of nature inside the ladies’ room of the nearly empty terminal. It was late at night and they might have been a bit tipsy. Mom was in one stall. Nedra in another. Gas was passed. Loud and long and clear. Nedra, always quick with a witticism sternly admonished, “Freida!” A deep silence ensued. The kind of silence that indicates something is very wrong. A toilet flushed, a stall opened and closed, followed by the sound of footsteps leaving the room. Only then did Mom explode in laughter as Nedra realized she’d scolded a complete stranger for farting. The pair hid in the bathroom for awhile hoping the gas passer wouldn’t associate them with their bathroom behavior.

Once my Aunt Nedra and her husband Uncle Richard, along with my mom and dad were spending the night at my grandparents’ home. As was their habit at such gatherings, the men went to bed ahead of the women who liked to tell stories and laugh well into the night. After much silliness my Aunt said goodnight to Mom and my grandmother and went to bed. Soon after, my mom followed, but found her spot next to my dad, occupied. She started laughing and soon her mother joined her in fits of uncontrollable giggles. Groggily, Nedra asked, “Richard, why are they laughing?” My dad, who until then was sound asleep responded, “Maybe because I’m not Richard and you’re in bed with your sister’s husband.” Everyone but my grandfather thought the story was hilarious. It just pissed him off.

I’ve turned doing embarrassing things into an art form. Too many to list here, but one of my favorites(?) was the time I was having some sort of sonogram done. As I lay on the exam table the tech was instructing me to take deeper breaths, hold, release, etc. The doctor to whom I’d been referred had an odd name, something like Bozdagerian or Bodgazerian or Bogzaderian.

I asked the tech, “Just how do you say this doctor’s name anyway ? Boz-da-ger-ian?”

“Deeper” said the tech.

So I lowered my voice an octave and tried again. “Boz-da-ger-ian?” I intoned.

The tech started laughing. “That was impressive,” he said. “Now please take a deeper breath.”

I’m most apt to commit verbal faux pas, like the time I told a crowd of people that upon Turning 50 I had “embraced my AARP-ness.” Read that aloud and you will know why I was the butt of more than a few jokes that afternoon.

Then there was the time a drunken me asked a lady on the dance floor where the deejay was located. Coincidentally, she asked me the very same question. At the very same time. She even kind of looked like me, only drunker. I noticed dancers giving me odd looks. That’s when I realized I’d been carrying on a conversation with my reflection in a mirror. I told myself thanks and returned to my table. I never did find the deejay.

My mom always said I was just like my Aunt Nedra, but at least I’ve never slept with my sister’s husband.

Peace, People.

Fifty Shades of Hey!

As the movie trailers for Fifty Shades of Grey began appearing on Facebook this week I stopped to reflect on my own interaction with the novel.

I tried reading Fifty Shades of Grey. Honestly. The hype was bubbling around the book like fizzy soda, and avid reader that I am, I inhaled those bubbles and dove right in. For all of maybe 50 pages of 50 shades. Then, I called a friend.

“Hey, you’re reading Fifty Shades of Grey, right?

“Ummm, yes,” she moaned.

“Does it get better?” I asked.

“Yes, yes, yes!” she cried.

I hung up.

I read another hundred pages. I still didn’t get it. Who was this inner goddess, and why didn’t I have one? Did the inner goddess perhaps serve as a replacement for a personality? Was there supposed to be sexual tension between Mr. Grey and Miss Steele? Did I need to reassess my definition of sexual tension?

I called another friend.

Hey, I’m reading that book you recommended, Fifty Shades of Gray.

All I heard was buzzing in the background.

“Hey!” I said, a little more forcefully. “Does the couple in the book ever actually do anything?”

Our connection must have been bad; the buzzing continued, only more loudly.

I hung up.

“Perhaps I should skip to a sex scene,” I thought.

It was a little difficult to determine exactly where in the book that sex scene took place, though. There were so many rules, regulations, and tools involved. It read more like an orientation for shop class than a sex romp.

I called my husband.

“Hey, Studly,” I said. “Do you think we need a contract for sex?”

“Huh?”

“You know, a contract so you can’t be found legally responsible if I get hurt during intimate relations.”

He guffawed. “Intimate relations! That’s a good one!”

I hung up. What a sadist.

Peace, People.

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Snake Eyes

I never met a snake I couldn’t hate. Venomous, non-venomous, short, long, infant, adult, it doesn’t matter. They give me the willies. If I can see one well in advance of initial contact I can handle a snake’s presence, but the thing about snakes is they tend to lurk, hidden among the leaves and undergrowth, offering apples to unsuspecting naked people.

Tallahassee, Florida, is basically a hilly jungle. We have oak trees, magnolias, mimosas, pines, sweet gums, palms, and a host of other trees all, apparently, on steroids. In addition we have millions of shrubs and bushes and flowers. A profusion of plant life populates this part of the Florida panhandle. It’s beautiful. And it’s home to five different kinds of venomous snakes: the Pygmy Rattler, the Cottonmouth or Water Moccasin, the Timber Rattlesnake, the Coral Snake, and the Copperhead. These snakes love to hide under fallen leaves. Guess what? Lots of trees mean lots of leaves.

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Above: water moccasin

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Coral snake

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Pygmy rattler

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Copperhead

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Timber rattlesnake

Recently due to an increase in snake bites among the local populace, the “Tallahassee Democrat” ran an informative piece on the venomous snakes in our area. How kind of them. Since then I have barely stepped foot into our forested backyard. Every single snake named in the article enjoys hanging out in fallen leaves. I look out my back door and all I see are trees surrounded by fallen leaves. When I do go out I have this ritual dance. It’s part flamenco, part ninja, part karate. Think John Belushi in “Animal House.”

They tell me cats are good snake repellant. I have two, but they don’t want to go outside either and I’m not sure how much good they are doing as mere spectators.

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A while back I wrote about super powers I’d like to have. I need to add one: Super Snake Dominance and Avoidance. This power would instantly cause all venomous snakes within 5 miles of me to be rendered inanimate and harmless. Indefinitely. I’ll give the non-venomous ones a break as long as they do their living outside of my direct line of sight. They just need to heed my ritual dance.

Peace, People!

To Fly Or Not To Fly: What was the Question?

I’ve given a great deal of thought to my “yet to appear” super powers. Just what would they be? How strong? Will they be worthwhile powers, or useless ones like the ability to consume massive quantities of prunes with no adverse effects?

Any day now I feel sure these dormant abilities will emerge in full strength to make up for all the years they’ve been suppressed. I was fairly confident that my 50th birthday would be the trigger point, alas, here I am at 57.75 and still nothing. I just hope they show up in time for me to fully utilize them before I’m too old to reap the benefits. It’d be a shame to learn I have the gift of super flexibility once I’m confined to a wheelchair.

In no particular order, here are the three standard super powers I’d most like to have:

1) The ability to fly. Okay, I lied, this is by far the most important of the super powers, so I listed it first. I do have some stipulations, though. If I can fly I also want the super power of having hair and skin impervious to sun and windburn. What good is having the gift of flight if one is wrinkled and unkempt? I’d also need an incredibly strong set of neck muscles if I’m going to fly long distances. Maybe that’s just a standard set of accoutrement when gifted with the power of flight.

2) Invisibility. Obviously I’d only use this power for good. Wink, wink.

3) Super strength. This is one that could be especially useful as I age. No more accosting strong young men to open tight lids and doors for me. Wait, I might want to think this one through.

In addition to these, I’d also like to have some not-so-standard powers. For starters, how about the ability to nap at will? Anytime, anyplace. I’ve actually seen this power in action, but have yet to be able to master it.

Also I’d like the power to eat any thing I want without ever gaining a pound of fat. I’d like that one as soon as possible as I’ve been eating like it’s already a given. On second thought, could it be made retroactive?

One more, because I’m feeling greedy snapping up all the good powers. I’d like the power to magically transport my grand kids to my house at any time, and then transport them home when they’ve been thoroughly spoiled. Really, this is the only one that matters.

If the whole super power thing doesn’t work out, I still have hopes that my letter from Hogwarts got lost in the mail. Accio correspondence!

Peace, People.

Waking Up Is Hard To Do

I got two hours of sleep last night. Maybe two and a quarter. My husband, Studly Doright, who by the way doesn’t have sleep apnea (we had him tested) snored all night long. And when I say he snored I mean he:

Snorted
Roared
Snuffled
Gurgled
Rattled
Plorked
And mmmphhed
Loudly

All night long.

There was never any pattern to the cacophony. He usually maintains some sort of almost hypnotic, metronomic rhythm that allows me to slip into sleep. But not last night. Just as a tango was established he’d switch to a rumba, then to a cha cha. There might have been a salsa thrown in, too. I would have loved a minuet, but that never happened.

I moved to another bedroom around 3:40 a.m. The cats found that amusing and wanted to play. I must have fallen asleep at some point, only to have Studly wake me up to kiss me goodbye when he left for work at 6. How very considerate of him. Thank you sir, may I have another?

Normally I’d have had the luxury of snuggling under my covers after Studly left for work, but I’d promised to meet an acquaintance at a fitness center for an early morning aerobics class. I went, and held on through most of the class, but I might have fallen asleep during the cool down. There was a trickle of drool on my yoga mat. I just hope I didn’t snore.

Peace, People

I Mustache You a Question

My name is Nana Noyz and I have a mustache. There, I’ve said it. Let the 12 Step Program commence. While I have come to terms with my crinkly wrinkles, my saggy breasts, my droopy eyelids, and my jiggly arms, I cannot embrace my facial hair, nor have I been able to admit that I am powerless to stop it.

I remember gazing in amazement at the sparkling white hairs on my Grandma’s chin and upper lip. They were fascinating to 5-year-old me, and I might have made the mistake of wishing for some of my own. If so, I rescind the wish! I do, I do, I do!

Fifty years ago I don’t think women of a certain age worried as much about random hair sprouting from their chins and cheeks. Those were the days, my friends. But in the 21st century we are almost obsessed with keeping a smooth visage until death removes all such vain concerns.

Heaven knows I try to keep ahead of the hair growth, but sensitive skin keeps me from going the depilatory cream and/or wax routes. Instead I look in a magnifying mirror every morning searching for offending follicles and then ruthlessly pluck the fruit, er, hair. There are two trouble spots.

The first is a place on my chin just left of dead center that can always be counted on to yield a pluck-able strand. It amazes me just how quickly a hair grows in this spot and I’m thinking of willing this particular follicle to science. Not only is there always a hair there, but it is consistently two shades darker and three times coarser than the hair growing on any other part of my body. Truly it is a worthy topic for Unsolved Mysteries or Ancient Aliens.

The second place is just above my upper lip. I’ve named it, The Fringe. The Fringe isn’t dark, and it isn’t coarse. In fact, it is so fine that I almost cannot see it even with the 20x magnifying mirror, but I can FEEL it. Sadly, plucking on a daily basis yields almost no results, so I end up waiting until individual hairs grow to an obscene length. You know, like when the small child sitting next to you on the park bench tries to get your attention by tugging on one.

My only consolation is that my husband, Studly Doright, cannot see anything up close without his reading glasses. This is the reason why women should always marry men near their own age. He thinks I look just like I did when we married 38 years ago. Poor guy. He got a raw deal in the “for better or worse” department; he just doesn’t know it.

I’m Nana Noyz, and I have a mustache that my husband can’t see. There. I’ve accepted it.

Peace, People.

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