Cliffhanger

Cliffhanger: (n) an ending that leaves the audience in suspense.

I can’t watch the movie.

I’m talking about “Cliffhanger,” with Sylvester Stallone.

There’s one scene that is just not able to be viewed. Suspended on a single rope, Stallone tries to lift a women up to him so that he can take
them both to safety on the edge of the cliff. It goes badly. Her glove slips off and she tumbles–thousands of feet?–to the ground below. The camera follows the face of a very disappointed Stallone.

Not me. I’m wondering what it’s like to fall three thousand feet to your death.

It’s why I could never jump out of an airplane. I would have to convince myself that I’m prepared to die, just in case everything fails. Because the sensation of falling is not one that is acceptable to the human psyche.

Of course, I feel that way about all deaths.

I think the old song, “The Gambler,” says it well. “The best you can hope for is to die in your sleep.”

Of course, that’s kind of creepy, too. You nod off and the next thing you know, well…is nothing you know.

Death truly is the greatest cliffhanger in our human journey. We’re not going to know what it’s really like until we get there, and by the time we get there, it’s much too late to build up the courage and spunk to “do it well.”

Sometimes I think about what the worst deaths would be, as compared to a more tolerable demise. But in the end, you’re either getting smashed or being forbidden air.

Great choice.

We’re all heading for the cliffhanger. Matter of fact, some of you reading this essay are already uncomfortable, wishing I would get to a final sentence and stop talking about this crazy shit.

So I will do…

 

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CIA

CIA: (n) Central Intelligence Agency

It makes for good television. I suppose a movie or two has sprouted from the subject matter.

Yet having an independent organization set aside in our government for the purpose of spying, deceiving and maybe even doing illegal crap
around the world is not comforting to my soul.

I know I live in a society that tolerates some evil as long as it produces our good. Matter of fact, we don’t even call it evil unless it detracts from us.

But even though I would do nothing to stand in the way of the CIA, I am not terribly interested in knowing all the details of the subterfuge. Honestly, I feel my mission is attempting to make cheating and lying a little bit less necessary–at least in my own surroundings.

So I can be a good American by shutting my mouth and allowing the CIA to “see its way.”

 

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Cello

Cello: (n) a bass instrument of the violin family, held upright on the floor between the legs of the seated player.

I wrote a screenplay called “The Drive.” I will not go into detail about the storyline because that is not the essence and purpose for this little sharing.

Yet there was a passage in this movie where I envisioned a cello solo to extend over about a four-and-a-half minute period of time.

I do not play cello.

My experience with the cello is seeing them from a distance in the orchestra, and hearing it performed by Yo-Yo Ma.

But I trudged ahead, wrote the composition, and hired a well-recommended cellist. I sent her the music, she arrived and we set out to record.

I found it difficult to hide my disappointment.

You see, I had always envisioned the cello to be this smooth-sounding, basal instrument of gentle tones. But as this professional played my passage, she was plagued with buzzes, growls and all sorts of foreign intonations.

A friend of mine who had been in orchestras for many years, explained to me that many cellos could be bowed and sound nearly smooth as silk–but if you planned on using it as a solo instrument, it often produced various noises of lamentation. She pointed out to me that on the Beatles song, “Yesterday” and the Rolling Stones, “Ruby Tuesday,” that the cello is quite prevalent, but very buzzy.

I cannot tell you that I ever got used to all the personalities of the cello. I still prefer it to sound like a warm-hearted bass-singing angel.

But when it was all said and done, the piece of music was perfect, and did exactly what it was supposed to do.

Honestly, I can’t say that about myself.

 

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Box Office

Box office: (n) a place at a theater or other arts establishment where tickets are bought or reserved.

In the midst of my human journey, which I’m sure some people would consider a cavalcade of bizarre experiments and perpetual oddities, I, for a season, wrote screenplays, which were produced into low-budget, independent films, and showcased at festivals.Dictionary B

On top of that, we had a premiere of each film, which could be viewed by all of the participants, actors and family members, so they could “ooh and aah” over their participation (and also confirm that the camera really does put ten pounds on you).

I was in Michigan and they were shooting my script entitled “Wonderful,” which was a tipping of the hat to the Capra film, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” when it was determined that we would rent a big metroplex theater for our premiere.

It was a bold move.

The place seated about 300 people, and we had no reason to believe that such a multitude would be willing to come and see our little endeavor.

I vividly recall sitting in the parking lot, staring at the road leading to the theater and watching as the cars–one by one, then three by three, and finally ten by ten–began arriving for our debut.

It was thrilling.

By the time everybody gathered, the place was full, the movie was screened, the energy was supreme and the human interaction of joy and fellowship that followed was the definition of what our lives should truly be.

I will never forget that box-office moment, when the people poured out of the theater, some in tears, some laughing, some grumpy (maintaining their nature) but all aware that they had broken down their barriers, and allowed themselves, for a brief moment, to truly be brothers and sisters.

 

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Bored

Bored: (adj) feeling weary because one is unoccupied

With those who have communion wine running through their veins, I would probably get in trouble for suggesting that there are parts of the writ of Holy Dictionary BScripture which could certainly use a good edit.

As a writer, I edit myself all the time. Matter of fact, if somebody pulled out an article I wrote seven years ago, it’s possible that I might need to apologize.

So as I look down the list of the Seven Deadly Sins (which I shall not mention due to space and out of fear of immediately falling under conviction) there is one obvious absence, which should either be inserted to replace one of the existing choices–or maybe as just a header, to describe what causes all seven.

Bored.

When we are bored we are capable of everything from stumbling to atrocity.

I do not know where we got the idea that life was hatched in the mind of the Creator with the intention of constantly entertaining us, but part of maturity is certainly realizing the importance and inevitability of “down time.”

For instance, nothing is more annoying than a seven-year-old child telling you that he’s bored–especially if you’ve just returned from the park, a movie and Baskin Robbins.

The need to be entertained is what motivates both sluggard and murderer.

I always feel I have achieved the best of humanity–and made the Good Book sensible–when I finish my day without ever feeling bored.

 

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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.

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Blockbuster

Blockbuster: (n) a movie, book, or other product that is a great commercial success.

Dictionary B

“Tell me a story.”

This may be one of the first complete sentences that each of us uttered to our parental figures to delay our bedtime, but also procure an interesting tale.

What is it we like about a story?

  • We have to be able to relate to it in some way.
  • We have to feel something.
  • There has to be a surprise.
  • Maybe a conflict.
  • But the resolution needs to satisfy us–even if sometimes it is basically an unsatisfying conclusion.

Movies are made in Hollywood all the time. I can always tell when a movie is going to make lots of money but fall by the wayside and never be mentioned again–the word “blockbuster” is always assigned to it.

So even though hundreds of blockbusters have been made, garnered profit and slithered into the shadows, it is the simple flick that retains our interest and keeps us coming back for more.

I don’t know how many times I’ve watched The Princess Bride.

How about Shawshank Redemption?

I’m a sucker for Forrest Gump.

Meanwhile, the blockbusters don’t seem to carry the intrigue–because they ask me to watch instead of feel. I’m a human. If I don’t feel, I move on until I find something to feel.

So I completely understand Hollywood–they have worked out a system to make expensive movies minus some heart, which have great opening weekends and procure tons of money.

But even though it won many awards and was a blockbuster, Ben Hur just does not have the lasting appeal of It’s a Wonderful Life.

 

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