’19 A To Z Challenge – M

McMuffin

I want to talk about

McGuffins.

They’re not those breakfast sandwich things that you get at the Golden Arches.

McGuffin = MacGuffin = Maguffin

Noun; an object or event in a book or a film which serves as the impetus for the plot

Word Origin for McGuffin

C20: coined (c. 1935) by Sir Alfred Hatchplot Hitchcock

Most stories, whether books or movies, have a beginning, middle, and end. Some stories though, have lots of action, and a great climax, but need a boost to get underway.

Dashiell Hammet’s novel, The Maltese Falcon was a great novel of the 20th century. There was lots of action – treachery, deceit, lies, double crosses, assaults, murders, and back-stabbing – literal and figurative. When the exciting ride finally came to a stop, the little sculpture that everyone was fighting and scheming about, was just a small, ugly, statue of a bird, just an excuse for all that excitement.

At the last Star Trek movie that I went to – Star Trek Into Darkness – for the first half hour, I fidgeted and twitched in my seat. Is this thing never going to get underway? I even considered walking out – and I NEVER walk out of a movie, especially a Star Trek.

What should have been served, hot off the griddle, as the McGuffin, the impetus, to catch and hold the viewers’ attention, was dropped cold, an hour and a half later, as a by-then, un-suspenseful and un-dramatic ‘Great Reveal,’ a story of brotherly betrayal, abandonment and revenge.

So remember, those of you who want to write – even if it’s just blog-posts. If you think that your story needs a little something to draw readers’ attention, get that McGuffin out early. Craft a catchy title, and compose an interest-grabbing opening line. Once you’ve got ‘em hooked, you can reel ‘em in.

I’d be reel real happy if you stopped back in a couple of days, for another instalment of Do-It-Yourself Philosophy. Phil will be reel happy too. 😉

Reel

WOW #41

Bistro

I don’t like English words that aren’t really, wholly, completely accepted and widely used English words.  I know that the English Language appropriates words from other tongues, wholesale, but I don’t like words like tsuris, which is a seldom-used Yiddish/Hebrew word, meaning troubles, or woe.

I’m not pretentious enough to use the Word Of this Week, which is

BISTRO

but if I did, I’d have regarded it as an artsy-fartsy, café-au-lait sipping, croissant-munching, Left-Bank Parisian Frog French word which does not fall trippingly from the mouths of most Americans or Canadians…. until I did a little recent research.

It seems that bistro’s ancestor was a common-man, dock-walloper word that would have been familiar to any MAGA who supports Trump.  The Seine River that Paris sits on is large enough for small ships to navigate upstream, to unload their cargoes.

Once upon a history, France and Russia used to do a lot of trading.  Roustabout Russian sailors used to be common on Paris docks.  When they paused for a quick noon-time meal, they would go to the many nearby restaurants/cafes to eat.  Time and tide wait for no man, especially the tide.  They needed to eat quickly, and get back to finish the job.

The food establishments, used to the French, laggard, laissez-faire lifestyle, were in no hurry to prepare or serve food to them, so it became common for them to shout at the kitchen/waiter, “Bistro, Bistro”, a Russian word that means hurry, rush, get a move on!

I still prefer a Burger King to a Bistro – unless you’re treating, in which case, please contact me at once.  We could have a lovely discussion about international trade, and Russian sailors’ tattoos.  😉  😆

Idiot Sighting #2

Dumb

Idiot # 1

I am a medical student currently doing a rotation in toxicology at the
poison control center. Today, this woman called in very upset because
she caught her little daughter eating ants. I quickly reassured her that
the ants are not harmful and there would be no need to bring her daughter into the hospital. She calmed down, and at the end of the conversation happened to mention that she gave her daughter some ant poison to eat in order to kill the ants. I told her that she better bring her daughter into the Emergency room right away.

Idiot # 2

Seems that a year ago, some Boeing employees on the airfield decided to steal a life raft from one of the 747s. They were successful in getting it out of the plane and home. When they took it for a float on the river, a Coast Guard helicopter coming towards them surprised them. It turned out that the chopper was homing in on the emergency locator beacon that activated when the raft was inflated. They are no longer employed at Boeing.

Idiot # 3 – A true story out of San Francisco:

A man, wanting to rob a downtown Bank of America, walked into the branch and wrote “this iz a stikkup. Put all your muny in this bag.” While standing in line, waiting to give his note to the teller, he began to worry that someone had seen him write the note and might call the police before he reached the teller’s window. So he left the Bank of America and crossed the street to Wells Fargo.

After waiting a few minutes in line, he handed his note to the Wells Fargo teller. She read it and, surmising from his spelling errors that he wasn’t the brightest light in the harbor, told him that she could not accept his stickup note because it was written on a Bank of America deposit slip and that he would either have to fill out a Wells Fargo deposit slip or go back to Bank of America.

Looking somewhat defeated, the man said, “OK” and left. He was arrested a few minutes later, as he was waiting in line back at Bank of America.

Idiot # 4

A motorist was unknowingly caught in an automated speed trap that measured his speed using radar and photographed his car. He later received in the mail a ticket for $40 and a photo of his car. Instead of payment, he sent the police department a photograph of $40. Several days later, he received a letter from the police that contained another picture, this time of handcuffs. He immediately mailed in his $40.

Idiot # 5

Guy walked into a little corner store with a shotgun and demanded all the cash from the cash drawer. After the cashier put the cash in a bag, the robber saw a bottle of scotch that he wanted behind the counter on the shelf. He told the cashier to put it in the bag as well, but the cashier refused and said, “Because I don’t believe you are over 21.” The robber said he was, but the clerk still refused to give it to him because he didn’t believe him.

At this point the robber took his driver’s license out of his wallet and gave it to the clerk. The clerk looked it over, agreed that the man was in fact over 21 and he put the scotch in the bag. The robber then ran from the store with his loot. The cashier promptly called the police and gave the name and address of the robber that he got off the license. They arrested the robber two hours later.

Idiot # 6

A pair of Michigan robbers entered a record shop nervously waving revolvers.  The first one shouted, “Nobody move!” When his partner moved, the startled first bandit shot him.

Idiot # 7 Arkansas:

Seems this guy wanted some beer pretty badly. He decided that he’d just throw a cinder block through a liquor store window, grab some booze, and run. So he lifted the cinder block and heaved it over his head at the window. The cinder block bounced back and hit the would-be thief on the head, knocking him unconscious. Seems the liquor store window was made of Plexi-Glass. The whole event was caught on videotape.

Idiot # 8 Ann Arbor:

The Ann Arbor News crime column reported that a man walked into a Burger King in Ypsilanti, Michigan at 12:50 A.M., flashed a gun and demanded cash.  The clerk turned him down because he said he couldn’t open the cash register without a food order. When the man ordered onion rings, the clerk said they weren’t available for breakfast. The man, frustrated, walked away.

 

IDIOT SIGHTING

Homer Simpson

IDIOT SIGHTING

I handed the teller at my bank a withdrawal slip for $400.00. I said, ‘May I have large bills, please?’ She looked at me and said, ‘I’m sorry sir, all the bills are the same size.’ When I got up off the floor I explained it to her…

  ***

IDIOT SIGHTING When my husband and I arrived at an automobile dealership to pick up our car, we were told the keys had been locked in it. We went to the service department and found a mechanic working feverishly to unlock the driver side door. As I watched from the passenger side, I instinctively tried the door handle and discovered that it was unlocked.

‘Hey,’ I announced to the technician, ‘it’s open!’

His reply: ‘I know. I already got that side. ‘

***

IDIOT SIGHTING We had to have the garage door repaired. The Sears repairman told us that one of our problems was that we did not have a ‘large enough’ motor on the opener. I thought for a minute, and said that we had the largest one Sears made at that time, a 1/2 horsepower. He shook his head and said, ‘Lady, you need a 1/4 horsepower.’ I responded that 1/2 was larger than 1/4. He said, ‘NO, it’s not.’ Four is larger than two.’

We haven’t used Sears repair since.

***

IDIOT SIGHTING My daughter and I went through the McDonald’s take-out window and I gave the clerk a $5 bill. Our total was $4.25, so I also handed her a quarter. She said, ‘You gave me too much money.’

I said, ‘Yes I know, but this way you can just give me a dollar bill back. She sighed and went to get the manager, who asked me to repeat my request. I did so, and he handed me back the quarter, and said, ‘We’re sorry, but we can’t do that kind of thing.’ The clerk then proceeded to give me back $1 and 75 cents in change. Do not confuse the clerks at McD’s.

***

IDIOT SIGHTING IN FOOD SERVICE My daughter went to a local Taco Bell and ordered a taco. She asked the person behind the counter for ‘minimal lettuce.’ He said he was sorry, but they only had iceberg lettuce. In Kansas City.

***

IDIOT SIGHTING I was at the airport, checking in at the gate when an airport employee asked, ‘Has anyone put anything in your baggage without your knowledge?’ To which I replied, ‘If it was without my knowledge, how would I know?’ He smiled knowingly and nodded, ‘That’s why we ask.’ Happened in Birmingham, Ala.

***

IDIOT SIGHTING The stoplight on the corner buzzes when it’s safe to cross the street. I was crossing with a co-worker of mine. She asked if I knew what the buzzer was for. I explained that it signals blind people when the light is red. Appalled, she responded, ‘What on earth are blind people doing driving?!’ She was a probation officer in Wichita, KS.

***

IDIOT SIGHTING At a good-bye luncheon for an old and dear co-worker who was leaving the company due to ‘downsizing,’ our manager commented cheerfully, ‘This is fun. We should do this more often.’ Not another word was spoken. We all just looked at each other with that deer-in-the-headlights stare.

This was a lunch at Texas Instruments.

  ***

IDIOT SIGHTING I work with an individual who plugged her power strip back into itself and for the sake of her life, couldn’t understand why her system would not turn on.

A deputy with the Dallas County Sheriff’s office, no less.

***

A Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night!  Happy Holidays.   😀

I Found A Feather Today

Feather

I found a feather today, and along with it, I recovered a piece of the peace of my childhood. I found a sea-gull feather.  I found nostalgia, and I wallowed in it.

I was born and raised in a small town on the eastern shore of Lake Huron. The sand-bar island, half a mile offshore was/is a sea-gull nesting-site protected Provincial Park.  We had sea-gulls!  Lord, we had sea-gulls.

They loved the 4 or 5 fishing boats that went out each day. Swimming at the beach, late in the afternoon, I could watch a fish-boat heading back to the river harbor, towing a 100-yard kite of gulls behind it.  The fishermen gutted the fish on the way home, and dumped the offal in the lake.

Actually, of course, these were ‘lake gulls.’ Few, if any, ever saw salt water.  Their deep squawks were a constant summer background sound-track.  Later in life, I found that the gulls on Lake Erie were the same breed, but for some reason they cried like they had sinus infections – their calls much higher and shriller.

The simple discovery of a feather brought back childhood memories of fun, freedom, warm summer sunshine, tourists, fast-food and nothing to do, but hundreds of things to do.

As innocent children, we found many things to do with a feather. We could wedge it in our hair, or tie it on with a string or an elastic, and be an Indian in the games of Cowboys and Indians….before it became politically incorrect, and an insult to Aboriginal Rights.

I’ve cut the bottom off larger feathers at an angle, and split the longer edge, to create a quill. Sadly, all too often, instead of elegant writing on a sheet of paper, all I produced were ink-blots that would make Rorschach proud…or curious.  There’s a real art to it; one which I never mastered.

As a teen, my friend and I would split several lengthwise, and glue them to a piece of dowel we’d bought at the lumber store, ‘fletching’ it to produce an arrow. For a tip, we’d add a filed-down sliver of split-off railway track.  We could have just bought a target arrow from the hardware store, but what’s the fun in that?

Aside from fish guts, another thing that seagulls clean up is edible human waste. They keep down infections by keeping down the rat population; it’s why they’ve been declared a protected species.  In my warm, fuzzy home-town, they kept the streets cleaned of dropped tourist (and native) hot dogs, French fries, ice cream cones and popcorn.

My current home is, sadly, much closer to Lake Erie than it is to Lake Huron, so the gulls shriek with a nasal twang. There’s a landfill site behind the plaza where I found the feather, and at least 12 eating establishments inside it.  With the help of some sparrows and chickadees, they keep the grounds clean.

When I found the feather, it took me on a lovely flight of retrospective fantasy. I didn’t even pick it up, but left it, hoping that another young Archonoid would jam it in his hair, or take it home to tickle his sister with.  Perhaps even, an adult would see it, and be winged into some pleasant thought or memory.

Remember, sex involving a feather is a fun fantasy. Sex involving an entire bird is perverted.   😉

Feather 2

2017 A To Z Challenge – Gastronomy

Challenge2017  Letter G

Don’t confuse the title of this post with Astronomy. That’s the study of heavenly bodies.  This will be about the study of my body.  It’s far from heavenly, but it has its own gravitation field, and can cause eclipses.

For the first half of my working career, eating and weight gain were no big deal. My office jobs were so sedentary that I didn’t require great numbers of calories.  With two kids to raise, there wasn’t a lot of spare cash available for French fries, junk food or soft drinks, and the wife had not yet become the great cook that she would be a bit later in life.  Although I did manage to go from a stick-thin kid of 135 pounds, to a solid, well-built man of 185, and stayed that way for years.

All that changed when I left the offices, parked my brain at the door, and went to work in the plants. Suddenly, the jobs were so physical that I needed and consumed 3000/3500 calories a day.  The kids grew up, and there was enough cash for the occasional fast food treat, and the wife was described by her brother, a professional chef, as a better cook than him.

185 lbs. crept to 190, then 195, then to 200. I’m a good eater.  The greeter at the grocery end of Wal-Mart says, “Welcome back Archon. It’s always nice to see you.  Two more visits and I can retire to Florida.”  The wife learns 5 new recipes, and I gain 5 new pounds.  Now I’m 205 lbs., and I can see retirement looming, but not my toes.  Changes have to be made!

The wife says that we’re getting older, and the chance of weak bones is increasing, so drink chocolate milk and eat cheese every day. I’m okay if I stay upstairs, in the computer room, but if I go downstairs in the evening, I’m wrestled to the ground by a toasted bagel – or some potato chips that were on sale – or cookies and hot chocolate.  It’s always something.

I have lots of will power. What I need is some won’t power.  The wife thinks I’m obsessive, because I weigh myself every day.  Seven years into retirement, I’ve passed 210, and occasionally 215.  217!  218!  The day I saw 220, I – not ‘panicked’ – but something has to be done.  Something other than letting the white beard grow back in, and buying a Santa suit.

Yesterday, the scale read 209.8, but my blood pressure was 136/78. The diastolic is still low, but I need to do something about the systolic – like lose some more weight.  I don’t want to be the guy in the Christmas song – round John Virgin.  If I was the victim of a shooting, the chalk outline would be a circle.

Thanx for reading the whine I had with my cheese. I’ll see you around….as long as I’m not quite as round next time.   😳

Fat Man

What A Buzz

Business Dictionary

These are the latest buzzwords to add to your
corporate vocabulary.

Blamestorming – Sitting around in a group
discussing why a deadline was missed or a
project failed and who was responsible.

Seagull Manager – A manager who flies in,
makes a lot of noise, shits over everything
and then leaves.

Blowing your buffer – Losing your train of
thought.

Salmon day – The experience of spending an
entire day swimming upstream only to get
screwed and die in the end.

Chainsaw consultant – An outside expert
brought in to reduce the employee headcount,
leaving the brass with clean hands.

CLM – Career-limiting move – Used among
microserfs to describe ill-advised activity.
Trashing your boss while he or she is within
earshot is a serious CLM.

Depotphobia – Fear associated with entering a Home
Depot because of how much money one might spend.

Adminisphere – The rarefied organizational layers
beginning just above the rank and file.
Decisions that fall from the adminisphere are
often profoundly inappropriate or irrelevant to
the problems they were designed to solve.

Dilberted – To be exploited and oppressed by your
boss. Derived from the experiences of Dilbert, the
geek-in-hell comic strip character.
“I’ve been dilberted again. The old man revised
the specs for the fourth time this week.”

Flight Risk – Used to describe employees who are
suspected of planning to leave the company or
department soon.

404 – Someone who’s clueless. From the World Wide
Web error message “404 Not Found”, meaning that
the requested document could not be located.
“Don’t bother asking him…he’s 404, man.”

Generica – Features of the American landscape that
are exactly the same no matter where one is, such
as fast food joints, strip malls, sub-divisions.
Used as in “We were so lost in generica that I
forgot what city we were in.”

Keyboard Plaque – The disgusting buildup of dirt
and crud found on computer keyboards.

Ohnosecond – That minuscule fraction of time in
which you realize that you’ve just made a BIG
mistake.

Percussive Maintenance – The fine art of whacking
the crap out of an electronic device to get it to
work again.

Prairie Dogging – When someone yells or drops
something loudly in a “cube farm” (an office full
of cubicles) and everyone’s heads pop up over the
walls to see what’s going on.

Telephone Number Salary – A salary (or project
budget) that has seven digits.

Umfriend – A sexual relation of dubious standing
or a concealed intimate relationship, as in “This
is Dale, my…um…friend.”

Yuppie Food Stamps – the ubiquitous $20 bills
spewed out of ATMs everywhere. Often used when
trying to split the bill after a meal:
“We all owe $8 each, but all anybody’s got
is yuppie food stamps.”