Category Archives: Stories and curiosities

Double Entendre

File:Mae West in I'm No Angel.jpg

“Marriage is a fine institution, but I’m not ready for an institution.”~~ Mae West

Language is many things — a means of communication, the basis for thought, one way to indulge in humor. And since literary devices help make the narrative/speech beautiful and funny, why not use them?

 No reason, really. “Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again.” ~~ L. Frank Baum

Like with every literary form (and/or double talk), overuse or misuse (worse, even, using it as a trick) sticks out like a red flag and sounds like an annoying alarm.

Beep! Beep! Newbie or show-off here!

Horrified, I tell you, I’m terrified — like most writers, I guess — by the sound of that alarm, and prefer never to hear its sound. At least not after a round of edits. 

But when is such a device a gimmick?

Entertainers are held to different standards — they’re there to entertain, after all — but once an artist presents her art (help me God, if ever the time comes), it is scrutinized, right?

Here is what I mean.

An Internet headline caught my attention the other day. It screamed:  Jay-Z’s List of Double Entendres. Curiosity grabbed my finger and pressed on that lovely link. And voila, there was an article — someone listing the many cool double entendres on the singer’s new album.

Since I’m interested in the device, I read on.

Here’s number 1 on the list: I’m not a businessman, I am a business, man.

The singer has his own style, however does the line fit the definition? Sure, fans don’t care, but writers and readers are so darn curious. It’s what keeps us typing at all hours, what drives us to avoid sleep in favor of a good book. A peculiar bunch of people.   

So, about the phrase — it felt direct, maybe too instructive, as if the artist feared someone might miss the meaning, so a second clause was added to be certain the adoring fans get it. The fans are immensely important in turning the album into what the industry calls instant platinum.

I scrolled down, and there was one part where the artist talked about dropping a triple entendre. The line in question: Oww/Hoes turn their heads like owls/I’m the man of the hour/Triple entendre don’t even ask me how.  The clever entry, it appears, is the play on the words owl and hour, but don’t quote me. It rhymes, so that counts.

So, did the alarm beep here? I’m sure not. Famous artists make up their own words and meanings, and do so with authority.

Me … well … I think double entendres thrive on insinuation and ambiguity, the reason I like using them. I forgive myself for this and for my love of the old rule. It’s a writer thing, (comma police, anyone?), nothing to do with the entertainer.

So, feel free to shake me out of my literary daze, or make it hazier. :)

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Photo credit: Mae West, I’m No Angel trailer screenshot; from Wikimedia Commons.

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Are Artists Emotionally Scarred?

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Delving into emotional devastation makes for interesting characters and good stories. “Hurt your characters,” the saying goes, “to make them sympathetic. Make the villain believable.”

But where do writers find the inspiration for all that hurt? The inspiration to write a psychopath, for example, or just a plain ol’ dark-minded guy?

A moviegoer asked me, How do they come up with this dark stuff, and aren’t they emotionally scarred by it? I didn’t have an immediate answer, but I’ve been thinking about it. It’s a good question, and it brought to mind all creative types.

The way I see it, everyone experiences loss and pain. While most people try to put their painful past behind them, creatives revisit their own inner mine filled with dark stories. Sure, much of it is changed to fit a certain criteria. But the surest way, I suppose, to understand a character (assuming he is derived from someone), is to visit that familiar place where the past resides: personal experiences and memories. 

And so, do such visits affect the creative type (negatively in whatever manner, or positively by making him a better storyteller?) Does it scar him — as the moviegoer said — or is the artist able to leave it all behind in the end? What about readers/spectators?

I’m sure the answer isn’t black and white, but would love your thoughts.

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Image credit: Immovable Open Eyed, by Lowell Boyers — from Wikimedia Commons.

The Divorcee

Gloria sat in the back of the room, hoping not to see her ex-husband. With his new wife.

Tabitha’s graduation ceremony will take no more than thirty minutes –- she remembered from her son’s, two years back. Her babies were grown and moving on. Her life, alone, will soon be hers to bear. 

A clack of heels behind and she saw Sandra Fang, PTSA parent and self-appointed popularity guru. “A joy to watch.” Sandra displayed a half smile as if she’d saved the rest for later, or for someone else.

Whispers and laughter circled around. The happiness volume constantly turned up by the joy of seeing children at the edge of adulthood, ready for the next big step.

A thrill if she didn’t seat squeezed by families she’d known since seventh grade. There was no escaping the familiar faces today. Those who’d watched her life unravel. Families that were still a unit, unlike her and Jackson. 

Hang in there, Gloria. She’d sneak in for a couple of pictures with Tabby, then slip out of the auditorium before Jackson made his way to congratulate their daughter. With his new wife. Maybe he’d have the good sense to mingle among the crowd first. Introduce her to fathers he played golf with. Fresh off his honeymoon, he’d boast like he always did. Talk about the Catamaran and the BIV waters. Another way to show her off — the much younger woman, according to the rumor mill. Too tall, according to Tabby, almost as tall as Jackson with long, red hair. A washed-out red.

None of this was Gloria’s business. She rolled her watch bracelet — one o’clock. Any moment now.

The day belonged to her beautiful daughter, who graduated high school today. Next week she’ll be off to college, two states away, following in her brother’s footsteps. Gloria will be a divorced empty nester. And life will go on somehow. It always did.

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Image courtesy: yan profil kadın resmi,
www.fantastikresimler.net

In High Heels

“Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.” ~ Marilyn Monroe.

Knowing how glamorous Marilyn was, it’s safe to assume she was talking about something like this:

 

But for me, the right shoes means something much closer to this:

 

My work attire is business casual, weekend outfit jeans, shirt, and flops — weather considering. As I dash from soccer practice to basketball game to birthday parties to God-knows-what-other activity, I’m a casual dress code kind of gal.  Can’t remember last time I wore a suit or anything close to such a fancy ensemble. Dresses yes, I like easy summer dresses, but many require ironing. So, I’m happy with jeans.

There was a time I used to spend hours trying on clothes, putting on makeup (heavy makeup) before walking out the door. Now, I’m all about comfort.

Yet, this weekend I’m going to wear something similar to this (if I can manage to walk out the door without twisting my ankle). Will have comfortable shoes in the car, just in case.

Why, you ask?  I’m going to a musical/art/fundraising event scheduled to take place at a venue in the Los Angeles Art District. And I’m told that’s where people go all dressed up.  While I’m not one for appearances, we meet friends there — people who like to look very nice. So, okay, I’ll try. Let’s see how long I last before running (barefoot) for my comfortable shoes.

What do you all think about high heels — the feel, the look, the madness?