Coal

Coal: (n) a combustible rock consisting of carbonized plant matter

For a season as a young man, I traveled with a gentleman who had a low-budget Las Vegas-type show, and performed at conventions, carnivals and county fairs.

One summer, we were scheduled in a West Virginia mining town for their city-wide carnival, fair and jubilee–all mixed into one. There was no motel in town, so the sponsor found homes for the entertainers to sleep overnight. Most people got to pair off–in other words, two to every house.

Except me.

I ended up driving about seven miles into the hills, and stayed with a family who had a shack that could have been a prop-double for Loretta Lynn’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”

I was still dressed in my stage clothing and upon my arrival, the people stared at me like I had twelve heads. They offered me a meal of brown bread and beans with side-meat and molasses. It was delicious.

But they never stopped peering at me. I was just a kid, so I was really spooked.

I attempted communication. I tried to express interest in coal mining. The only thing I knew about coal was that when I was a boy, my dad had a coal furnace that warmed the loan company we owned. It was my job ever so often to go down and stoke the coal into the furnace. So I had picked up a piece or two and analyzed it. It’s quite an attractive rock. (You can understand that if it got the chance to hang around for several hundred thousand years–how it might become a diamond.)

So ridiculously, and clumsily, I might add–I shared my limited awareness, and even ventured calling it “bituminous” just to show off a bit.

The family had no toleration for my ignorance. Every question I asked was met with a two-word grunted answer. Usually, “Huh. Maybe.”

It was an uncomfortable evening–mainly because I was miserable and felt out-of-place with this common sort.

So imagine my surprise when I woke up the next morning to buckwheat pancakes, scrapple and coffee. The mom of the house had also taken an old shirt, sewn up all the holes and presented it to me as a gift.

For you see, while I thought they were giving me a hard time–unwelcome in their home–they, on the other hand, were actually sitting over there, quietly trying to figure out some way to bless the stranger.

That afternoon during our performance, I wore the shirt they darned for me, and the family sat near the front, grinning from ear-to-ear.

It brought me to tears.

I realized that even though I was having a hard time making money, I did not have to live in an old shack and descend into a coal mine, risking my life, to eek out enough money for my beans.

 

Donate Button

Advertisements

B Movie

B movie: (n) a low-budget movie

Dictionary B

I have written twenty feature-length screenplays.

Thirteen of them have been made into independent films.

Let me explain something: no one sets out to make a bad movie. No one wants their movie to slip to “Letter B” in the alphabet.

There are four things that determine the fate of a movie.

1. Since it is definitely over-written, as all scripts are, picking and choosing what to cut out is similar to deciding whether you’ll cut off your hand or your foot. Yet if one is infected, the amputation is certainly necessary.

2. Bad actors can turn good sentences into question marks.

3. Editing a movie is similar to using a hatchet to trim your fingernails. In other words, if you try to speed up, there will be some blood loss.

4. The public is picky. If you shoot for a particular emotion or feeling, that reaction may not be presently available in the audiences provided.

So many movies that planned on being A rated ended up sliding from their lofty goals, further confirming–perhaps without our knowledge or permission–whatever will B will B.

Donate ButtonThank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) —  J.R. Practix 


Jonathan’s Latest Book Release!

PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant

Click here to get your copy now!

PoHymn cover jon

 

 

Bazooka

Bazooka: (n) a short-range tubular rocket launcher used against tanks.Dictionary B

I wrote a contemplative movie entitled “The Drive.”

Some people would consider it anti-war but since I don’t really think there are “pro-war” options, let’s leave it with my original representation.

I will not get into the total storyline except to tell you there is an anguished father who decides to wreak revenge on the U.S. Government by trying to assassinate the President of the United States in St. Louis.

He chooses a bazooka as his weapon.

I would assume this is because he knows he’s not a very good shot and wanted a twelve-foot margin of error.

So when it came time to film the project, we were in the market to locate a bazooka. The first few people we asked thought we were referring to the comics from the 1960’s. Rather than contradict their perception, we just quietly hung up the phone.

We finally found a collector of WWII memorabilia who had a bazooka, even with its own case. Fortunately, he did not have the shells for it, so we had to figure out how to stuff firecrackers in the muzzle to make it appear that the long tube was threatening.

As I look back, I realize that finding a bazooka and simulating firing it in public was certainly a dispensation of the time. I can’t imagine how many government watch lists we would be placed on nowadays for even inquiring about such an object.

But we not only fired it, we had a street full of extras who ran away in horror and terror at the onslaught.

It was really quite pungent and effective for a low-budget film, but I must tell you–when the actor pulled that bazooka out of the case, which was in the trunk of his car, a chill went down my spine–one which is duplicated as I write this piece.

May we look forward to the day when “bazooka” will only be remembered as a wise-cracking bubblegum comic.

Donate Button

Thank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) —  J.R. Practix

*******************
Don’t let another Christmas go by without purchasing Jonathan’s bestselling Christmas book!

Mr. Kringle’s Tales … 26 Stories ‘Til Christmas

Click here to read all about Mr. Kringle's Tales...26 Stories Til Christmas! Only $5.99 plus $1.25 shipping and handling.

Click here to read all about Mr. Kringle’s Tales…26 Stories Til Christmas! Only $5.99 plus $1.25 shipping and handling.

 

“The best Christmas stories I’ve ever read!”

From the toy shop to the manger, an advent calendar of Christmas stories, beginning on November 30th and ending on Christmas morning.

We need a good Christmas this year.

Mr. Kringle’s Tales will help you make it so.

Buy today.

"Buy