Dailies

Dailies: (n) in the movie industry, a series of hastily printed shots from the previous day’s shooting

The true evaluation of the quality of an experience is based upon who you are with, not what you were doing or what happened.

I believe this with all my heart.

There are individuals that I wouldn’t mind being stranded with on a desert island, and there are other people that would make me feel cramped and uncomfortable if I joined them in a king’s palace.

For just about five years of my life, I had the pleasure of working in the independent film industry.

It ended up garnering thirteen low-budget flicks.

The pleasure of that experience is that I did it with my oldest son, who directed, and his magical muse of a wife, who shot and edited.

The screenplays I wrote for them were based upon my imagination. Unfortunately, they had to translate my dream life into reality without using much money or special effects.

They left early in the morning with a cast of characters who had agreed to join them on the mission based upon the words and their reputation. They reappeared in the evening, bedraggled but jubilant, with enough energy to put together some of the shots of the day—to intrigue this writer with their interpretation of the prose.

They were ingenious.

They cut corners but not significance.

They negotiated, requested, went to city council meetings to get permission to use football fields…

Well, these two remarkable people, Jon and Tracy, took what could have been a beleaguered, if not dangerous, project and made it magic.

I had fun standing back and watching them erupt with creativity.

I will never forget those late-night sessions, when Tracy drummed up dailies from the shoot and showed them to me—everything from puppets to bazookas to football uniforms to prisons to death scenes.

It was mind blowing.

They have gone on to do much more, but I will always hold those treasures in my heart.

Sometimes it makes me wonder if somewhere off in the cosmos God sits down after dark with some popcorn and watches our dailies.

 

Dagwood Sandwich

Dagwood Sandwich (n): a thick sandwich filled with a variety of meats, cheeses, dressings, and condiments.

His name was Chic Young.

I just wanted to see that in print—because as an author, I am fully aware that most of the things I write will be lost in obscurity or rendered meaningless.

Being a creative person is similar to manufacturing clouds. Brief vapor that they are, they soon will pass away and need to be replaced by new clouds.

Chic Young is the cartoonist who came up with the idea for Dagwood and Blondie. The strip began in 1930, when the assumption of the times was that men are lazy, always looking for a way of getting out of work and never doing what their wives wanted them to—and that women are interfering, nosy and a bit inept.

That particular line of reasoning is still alive in our entertainment today.

Yes—although it’s been ninety years, we persist in believing that men and women are destined to be at odds with one another, except when sexual arousal temporarily interrupts the warfare for a copulation treat.

I shall not comment further on that. You can probably tell by my emphasis that I find such thinking to be self-indulgent and counter-intuitive.

But back to Chic.

Let’s just take a moment and salute a fellow who came up with a character—Dagwood Bumstead—who loved to make huge sandwiches, usually with a sardine sticking out on the side—and because of that, to this day we name such concoctions and compilations Dagwoods.

How many of us can say that something we came up with led to having a sandwich named after it?

By the way, the name Dagwood is legitimate.

It actually comes from England and is translated as “shiny forest.” Although I do not know what a shiny forest would be, I assume it could only be viewed following the ingestion of some hallucinogenic drug.

So on this fine day, we want to thank you, Chic, for giving us Dagwood and Blondie.

And for all you writers, composers, thinkers, reasoners, poets and musers—keep going.

Someday something you concocted might be ordered at a Subway–with extra pickles.

 

Dago

Dago (n): a contemptuous term used for a person of Italian or Spanish descent

I was seven years old and not about to lose the blessings of my youth by questioning grown-ups on what they did.

There was fifty cents worth of allowance at stake and the occasional affectionate pat on the head—plus a half pound of pickle pimento loaf, purchased once every two weeks just for me at White’s Market.

I had much to lose.

So when I heard grown-ups say “Spic,” I thought it was short for “spicy.” After all, Mexicans do like their hot peppers.

When they said “Chink” I thought it was a tribute to Chinese armor, or that protective gear worn by the Samurai.

“Negro” sounded to me like “Negro,” which I believed to be an appropriate term for a race of people I rarely saw.

“Injun?” I had convinced myself it was the Iroquois word for “American Indian.”

And of course, “Dago,” for Italian folks, seemed logical to me because it sounded like pizza dough, and I sure did like pizza.

I was a full blown-out adult when I realized that these terms were not only derogatory but disabling.

I repented quickly of my foolishness and tried to find a way to understand the ignorance that brought this nasty language my way.

Daft

Daft: (adj) senseless, stupid, or foolish.

Which is worse: doing something foolish or being required to admit it?

Take a moment and think that over.

Your answer to this particular question will determine your human-soul worth.

Realizing we need to experiment and try things that are often beyond our scope makes it necessary to familiarize ourselves with failure and acquaint ourselves with how to handle it.

For if the spectrum of being wrong, mistaken or flawed seems frightening, then you’re left with a person who is always on the lookout for the next best lie.

We are all a bit daft.

Especially until we get to the point that we can claim “mediocre.”

Every once in a while, we excel, with only brief clouds of near perfection floating our way.

This is the truth.

So what are we more likely to do?

Understanding our passion to try new things, even nobly attempting to contribute to the common good, we will still often find ourselves daft—like a newborn calf at the barn dance.

If this frightens us, we construct an existence in which we are always at least well-intended, if not right.

When this happens, we can’t be trusted.

We can’t improve.

We can’t excel.

And we certainly cannot be valued for our honesty.

So—back to the original question.

What scares you the most?

Being foolish and temporarily daft?

Or having to stand in the ashes of your present burnout and confess you set the fire?

 

Daffy

Daffy: (adj) silly, weak-minded, crazy

Looney Tunes.

There were four or five years in my life when I lived for them.

As I look back now, I realize how intricately these cartoons were constructed—how much money was put into the music—and also how cruel they truly were.

Very recently, I’ve noticed that there was some hidden racism in the relationship between Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck.

Daffy, black, was always trying to keep up with Bugs Bunny, though the rabbit seemed to have a charmed life and Daffy appeared to be born under the sign, “Please hit me.”

It made Daffy very angry.

So enraged was he that he plotted against Bugs—and the notorious bunny innocently looked on, as if he had no idea whatsoever why Daffy was so perturbed.

As a kid, I found myself rooting for the calm, easy-going “what’s up doc?”

On the other hand, I found the black duck to be inept, clumsy, arrogant and mean.

I’m sure that was not the goal of the cartoon makers.

But in an era when racism was rampant—not that different from today—the color distinction between the light gray and white Bugs and the black, almost Southern-talking Daffy, was pronounced, and dare I say, obvious.

On top of that, when you’re given a name like “Daffy,” it’s hard to overcome the profile in a five-and-a-half-minute cartoon.

So, oppressed by color, by the fact he was a duck, and that favoritism seemed to be given to the ever-extolled rabbit, Daffy found himself spending all his time frustrated, unable to get a life and be productive.

I’m always bewildered when someone is angry when another race complains about their status. They say:

“This is America, the land of opportunity–just go out and make a world for yourself.”

But as Daffy will tell you, sometimes that is difficult to do—when the Bunny is unmercifully “Bugs”-ing you.

 

Daddy-longlegs

Daddy-longlegs: (n) Also called harvestman, a spiderlike arachnid with a rounded body and extremely long, slender legs.

I had nearly decided not to do any research whatsoever.

I so enjoyed the old tale about the Daddy-longlegs spider.

If you’re not familiar with it, let me enlighten you.

The Daddy-longlegs is actually one of the most poisonous spiders in the world.

But because it has such a tiny body to accompany its long-leggedness, its fangs are too small to bite human skin.

Now, isn’t that fascinating?

That doesn’t take away from how scary it looks.

But if Daddio ended up being as poisonous as he is ugly, well let’s just say, our lives would be fraught with terror.

Yes, and it also makes for a great object lesson:

If it ends up that you have a little head filled with poison and you have too many legs to walk around and hurt people, just pray that God has given you a mouth that’s not able to spread your venom.

 

Daddy

Daddy: (n) diminutive of Dad

Approaching my produce man at the grocery store, I asked:

“When is watermelon season?”

Without thinking, he replied, “When the watermelon show up.”

I suppose when you practically live in a grocery store, you judge the seasons by what comes off the back of the truck.

In the midst of being a parent, there is a brief vapor of time when your child recognizes you, proclaims you and refers to you as “Daddy.”

It is such a safe, sweet location that you’re tempted to encourage it to expand its borders to broader vistas.

But you can’t mess with it.

It happens during a child’s perfect age–when “Dada” has been abandoned and right before you become the generic “Dad.”

Just hearing the word lets you know how valuable you are to the child.

It gives you a reassuring hug in your soul that he is not plotting, smoking, drinking and thinking of new ways to download pornography.

For after all, you are “Daddy”—”Dada” who has become so familiar that you have gained shape and presence.

Sometimes the word “Daddy” is followed by the young child climbing up on your lap, and without being prompted, giving you a hug around the neck, which lasts a little bit longer than you thought possible.

The little one calling you Daddy believes you to be a god (or at least, Santa Claus’s right-hand man).

He is astounded at how you leave the house and come back with treasures—toys, pizza rolls and little tiny things you promised you’d get if you had time.

Daddy—a word that brings tears to the eyes of any father who knows that soon his power and authority will be challenged by the revolt of adolescence.

But for now, it’s Daddy.

For now, there’s a desire to be close.

For now, the child believes he has come from you and never wants to leave.

Maybe that’s why the Bible tells us that we should approach God by saying, “Abba, Abba.”

Which, by the way, translated from the Greek, means “Daddy, Daddy.”