Nobody likes a smarta**. After rereading one of my old stories (first published on 7Nov2003 by Opium Magazine and reproduced below), I dug this eMail exchange out of the archives:
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 1999 06:59
From: Alan C. Baird
Is it my imagination, or does your dictionary contain a misspelling (pointtillist=pointillist)?
Date: Mon, 22 Nov 1999 16:02
From: Maria Sansalone, Merriam-Webster Editorial Department
To: Alan C. Baird
You know what's even worse Alan? It's been in our print dictionary this way since at least 1981!
Buzz Words [estimated reading time: 1:45]
At the ripe old age of thirteen, Buzz earned a trip to the 1964 National Spelling Bee, after winning a series of local competitions. However, he bombed out on the second word ("abbot") because his school bus stopped at Abbott Street every day. Even though his left brain knew the proper spelling, his stubborn right brain insisted on calling up images of that treacherous street sign, standing a mere two feet outside the safety-glass bus window.
So our vanquished hero spent the remainder of the competition sitting in the audience, writing down every word and torturing himself with dreams of What Might Have Been. He'd even worked out a complex algorithm to predict which words would have been "his," and spelled each one of them correctly: "vicissitude," "diastema," and especially the dreaded "myxovirus." By his reckoning, he should have won the whole shootin' match . . . but Abbott Street had wrecked his budding career as WordBoy.
The next year, he entered local history books by becoming the first area youngster to win two Washington trips in a row. This time, he was relaxed, joking with fellow contestants while finishing 14th in the country, stumped only by "gneiss." He deemed the word to be an honorable Waterloo, even though it didn't sound that way (pronounced "nice"). But most importantly, he was delighted with his 1965 results, the trip, and life in general. Every few years, the regional newspaper still publishes a huge picture of him during the spring, in their annual Spelling Season Shrine.
Could he have won the national competition in that first year? Maybe. But if he'd survived 1964's second round, the same words would have been doled out to different contestants, during later rounds. Words that were spelled easily, in his "abbott" universe, might have been misspelled, in the alternative "abbot" scheme of things. For example, his fancy algorithm couldn't really predict if little Susie would be able to deal with "escharotic" in AbbotWorld, when she was only required to spell "escapist" in AbbottWorld. Thus, Buzz's subsequent word list would end up slightly altered--which means he certainly *didn't* know it all.
Although he often acted that way.
Still does, as his friends will eagerly tell you.
However, sweet revenge was exacted from his old nemesis (Merriam-Webster) during the late fall of 1999, when he pointed out "pointtillist" . . . a misspelling which had appeared in their dictionaries for nearly two decades.
As you might guess, he's still bragging about that.
June, 1964: Dad/Mom/Nerd/Rep. Brad Morse (R-MA)/Flag.
The Lowell Sun (MA) newspaper used to sponsor an annual spelling competition among the local schools.
For a couple of years in the mid-Sixties, I hogged the competition limelight.
The Sun wasted a ton of ink on me, and sent me to the National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC. Twice.
They bought me clothes, gave me cash, flew Mom and me to DC, and put us up in a 5-star hotel for a week.
They really made me feel like a Big-Shot Celebrity.
While I was in Our Nation's Capital, I just wanted to study. What a nerd.
But the National Spelling Bee organization had set up a bunch of tours for us nerds.
And the Sun's DC correspondent had the thankless task of following me around, snapping pictures and writing puff pieces.
A staggering number of those pictures and puff pieces were published on the Sun's front page.
So I guess the local congressman got wind of a possible photo op, and decided to horn in.
But he was also kind enough to give me a tour and introduce me to many famous lawmakers.
He even pulled some strings and got the Architect of the Capitol to send me that flag.
He really made me feel like a Big-Shot Celebrity.
Then Mister Big-Shot Celebrity started competing in the National Spelling Bee, and fell flat on his face...
But that was 1964. 1965 went a little smoother:
Flying to Washington, 1965.
The photo below first appeared in The Lowell Sun (MA) on June 7, 1965. This scan is from the second time it was published (on April 23, 1970): "Alan Baird, the only scholar to win [the Sun's spelling bee] in two consecutive years, boards a plane to Washington, flanked by his mother and a stewardess. Baird was area champ from Chelmsford in 1964 and 1965."
I still think that stewardess was hot for me. See her checking me out, from the corner of her eye?
June 7, 1965: Peter Treadwell (C) and I (L) were classmates at Hermon (ME) Elementary School in the fourth grade (1961), before my family moved away to New York City and then to Chelmsford, Massachusetts. Peter and I had a reunion of sorts at the 1965 National Spelling Bee, after he won the Maine Spelling Bee. We were catching up on old times at the opening-night party, when Peter's photographer grabbed Michael Gifford (R), from Guam, and took a picture of the three of us. "Peter Treadwell, center, of Hermon, Maine's 1965 Spelling Champion, met National Spelling Bee contestants from as near as Massachusetts and as far away as Guam during six-day visit to Washington last June."
First Day of Competition.
June 9, 1965, The Lowell Sun (MA): "Sun Spelling Champ Alan Baird At Spelling Bee Today." That was the year I actually lasted into the second day of the National Spelling Bee, eventually placing 14th in the country.
That was also the year I thought seersucker jackets were the height of fashion.
UPDATE: Ben Bernanke & Me.
Have I told you my Ben Bernanke story yet? (He was the Fed chairman from 2006 to 2014. Some say that made him the most powerful man in the world.)
I already told you the story? OK, shut up and listen anyway. ;-)
A 2009 Time magazine article mentioned that he competed in the National Spelling Bee when he was a kid. So, after going through the speller lists from the two years I was in the Bee, I discovered that we sat next to each other in 1965 (he's wearing #18, representing Anderson [Dillon] SC, and I'm wearing #19, representing Lowell [Chelmsford] MA). It looks like he's leaning over to give me financial advice.
I misspelled "gneiss" that year, to finish 14th in the country. Ben misspelled "edelweiss" and finished 26th. I don't have a song memorializing my losing word, but Ben does.
Spelling Bee dirt.
I recently heard the shocking story of Larry Fishman (#45), from Maryland, who sat two rows behind me (#19).
Larry murdered his father and shot his mother about 15 years after the '65 Bee, according to the FBI.
So I guess Larry wanted to get famous a lot sooner than Ben did...
Facebook fan pages: 1964 ~ 1965
Facebook group: National Spelling Bee Contestants, 1964 & 1965
Somebody wrote that ad, too. Scott Roeben (creator of my favorite humor site and a spin-off book) is the talented guy who came up with a famous series of ads to raise awareness about writers. Here's one:
Remember that movie where
Steve McQueen is thrown in the cooler
of this prison camp, and he keeps
whipping this baseball against the wall,
Yeah, right, like those
Nazi dudes ever had a chance.
Somebody wrote that.
"The Great Escape," Screenplay by James Clavell and
W.R. Burnett, based on the novel by Paul Brickhill
The straight skinny.
Official state flower. Official state bird. Official state tree.
Many states have these three things.
So does Arizona (saguaro blossom, cactus wren and palo verde, respectively).
But Arizona has something that other states lack:
Official state neckwear.
Victor Emanuel Cedarstaff, a silversmith from Wickenburg, Arizona, invented the bola (or bolo) tie in 1949. He first referred to it as a "piggin necklet," naming it for the piggin-string that cowboys use for tying the legs of an animal. Later, he changed the name to "bola," after seeing the resemblance to a device used by gauchos (South American cowboys) to catch livestock and wild horses. Their bola had three balls attached to the end of three thongs of braided leather or rawhide, which in turn were joined together at the common ends.
In 1959, Victor patented his tie.
In 1971, the tie was adopted as Arizona's official state neckwear, largely due to the efforts of Senator Barry Goldwater. It turns out ol' Barry owned an impresssive collection of bola ties.
In America, the bola tie is widely associated with traditional cowboy dress, and is most common in the western areas of the country. It consists of a cord, often made of braided leather, held together by a decorative clasp and often has some form of ornament on both ends of the cord.
Bola ties are known as "bootlace ties" in the United Kingdom. They were popular with the Teddy Boys, who wore them with drape suits in the 1950s.
FYI: a Bola necktie is not the same as an Ebola necktie. Just in case you were wondering.
A Dutchman's paean to English. Published in the Journal of the Simplified Spelling Society:
by Gerard Nolst Trenité (1870-1946)
Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse.
I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy;
Tear in eye, your dress you'll tear;
Queer, fair seer, hear my prayer.
Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!
Just compare heart, hear and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word.
Sword and sward, retain and Britain
(Mind the latter how it's written).
Made has not the sound of bade,
Say - said, pay - paid, laid but plaid.
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as vague and ague,
But be careful how you speak,
Say: gush, bush, steak, streak, break, bleak,
Previous, precious, fuchsia, via
Recipe, pipe, studding-sail, choir;
Woven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, shoe, poem, toe. [...]
You can savor the entire 274-line opus (along with some fascinating background) here...
I miss Dr. Gonzo. Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame and Degradation in the '80s, by Hunter S. Thompson:
The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.
If there is, in fact, a Heaven and a Hell, all we know for sure is that Hell will be a viciously overcrowded version of Phoenix--a clean well-lighted place full of sunshine and bromides and fast cars where almost everybody seems vaguely happy, except those who know in their hearts what is missing.... And being driven slowly and quietly into the kind of terminal craziness that comes with finally understanding that the one thing you want is not there. Missing. Back-ordered. No tengo.
Close, but no cigar. Phoenix New Times is the flagship publication of Village Voice Media, an organization comprised of seventeen alternative newsweeklies.
Back in January, twenty people took PNT's Copy Editor test, and only four of us passed. Although I was quite charming and witty during last week's interview, they hired someone else yesterday.
Darn. I was hoping I'd get to:
1) wear a green eyeshade;
2) memorize the AP Stylebook or the CMOS;
3) hang out with the cool dudes over at The Poynter Institute;
4) enter the Arizona Press Club headline-writing contest; and
5) schmooze with other
But there's an even better job coming up at PNT. Hopefully, they'll offer me that position. If they do, I'll try to:
a) change "viscously" to "viciously" here; and
b) upload more photos of that tempting cover model. Woof.
Show us your brads. Monster in a Box, The Movie, written and performed by Spalding Gray:
SPALDING GRAY (himself - talking about Los Angeles): I had no idea how difficult it would be to find people not involved in the film industry until I got out there and saw a special on television - in which they were interviewing people in the parking lot of a Shop Rite supermarket. As people came out with their groceries, the interviewer would go up to them and say, "Hi there, good morning! Tell us, how's your film script going?"
And everyone said, "What?! How did you know?" Right up to the cashier.
SPALDING: How therapeutic it is, to surround yourself with people stranger than yourself.
SPALDING: My new psychiatrist said to me: "Your subconscious is so close to the surface, I can see its periscope."
This will pass. A Prairie Home Companion, directed by Robert Altman, screenplay by Garrison Keillor, from a story by Ken LaZebnik & Garrison Keillor, based on Keillor's radio series:
G.K. (Garrison Keillor): We come from people who brought us up to believe that life is a struggle, and if you should feel really happy, be patient: this will pass.
AL (Tim Russell): About that obscene song you sang last week...
LEFTY (John C. Reilly): "I'll give you my moonshine if you show me your jugs"?
GUY NOIR (Kevin Kline): Look, I'm a man of the world like yourself. But these people, they've put their lives into this show.
AXEMAN (Tommy Lee Jones): Well, now they can put their lives into something else. That's the beauty of the world, there's always something to put your life into.
DUSTY (Woody Harrelson - singing): I used to work in Chicago, at a convenience store. / I used to work in Chicago. I did, but I don't anymore. / A lady walked in with some porcelain skin and I asked her what she came in for. / "Liquor," she said, and lick her I did, and I don't work there anymore.
Comfort can lull you. My Dinner with Andre, written and performed by Andre Gregory & Wallace Shawn, directed by Louis Malle:
ANDRE (Andre Gregory): What does it do to us, Wally, living in an environment where something as massive as the seasons or winter or cold, doesn't in any way affect us? We're animals after all. What does that mean? I think that means that instead of living under the sun and the moon and the sky and the stars, we're living in a fantasy world of our own making.
WALLY (Wallace Shawn): Yeah, but I would never give up my electric blanket, Andre. Because New York is cold in the winter. Our apartment is cold! It's a difficult environment. I mean, our life is tough enough as it is. I'm not looking for ways to get rid of a few things that provide relief and comfort. On the contrary, I'm looking for more comfort, because the world is very abrasive. I'm trying to protect myself, because really, there's these abrasive beatings to be avoided everywhere you look!
ANDRE: But, Wally, don't you see that comfort can be dangerous? I mean, you like to be comfortable and I like to be comfortable too, but comfort can lull you into a dangerous tranquility.
Checkmate. Searching for Bobby Fischer, written and directed by Steven Zaillian (from a book by Fred Waitzkin):
BRUCE PANDOLFINI (Ben Kingsley): Do you know what the word "contempt" means? It's thinking of others as being beneath you, to be unworthy of being in the same room with you.
JOSH WAITZKIN (Max Pomeranc): I don't feel that.
BRUCE: Well, you'd better start. Because if you don't think it's a part of winning, you're wrong. You have to have contempt for your opponents. You have to hate them.
JOSH: But I don't.
BRUCE: They hate you. They hate you, Josh.
JOSH: But I don't hate them.
BRUCE: Bobby Fischer held the world in contempt.
JOSH: Well, I'm not him.
BRUCE: You're telling me.
Algonquin Round Table. Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, written by Alan Rudolph & Randy Sue Coburn:
DOROTHY PARKER (Jennifer Jason Leigh): You don't want to turn into the town drunk, Eddie. Not in Manhattan.
DOROTHY PARKER: It's as if I were a spoiled virgin, and no one will have me.
ROBERT BENCHLEY (Campbell Scott): You're not spoiled. Just highly seasoned.
DOROTHY PARKER: Razors pain you, rivers are damp, acids stain you, drugs cause cramp. Guns aren't lawful, nooses give, gas smells awful, you might as well live.
Immortality. Big Fish, written by John August, based on the novel by Daniel Wallace:
AMOS CALLOWAY (Danny DeVito): You were a big fish in a small pond, but this here is the ocean and you're drownin'. Take my advice, go back to Puddleville; you'll be happy there.
SENIOR ED BLOOM (Albert Finney): I've told you a thousand facts, Will. That's what I do. I tell stories.
WILL BLOOM (Billy Crudup): You tell lies, Dad.
SENIOR ED BLOOM: You are in for a surprise.
WILL BLOOM: Am I?
SENIOR ED BLOOM: Havin' a kid changes everything. There's burping, the midnight feeding, and the changing.
WILL BLOOM: You do any of that?
SENIOR ED BLOOM: No. But I hear it's terrible. Then you spend years trying to corrupt and mislead this child, fill his head with nonsense, and still it turns out perfectly fine.
WILL BLOOM: You think I'm up for it?
SENIOR ED BLOOM: You learned from the best.
WILL BLOOM: A man tells his stories so many times that he becomes the stories. They live on after him, and in that way he becomes immortal.
1 wedding. 1 funeral. From Four Weddings and a Funeral, written by Richard Curtis:
CHARLES (Hugh Grant): Ladies and gentlemen, I'm sorry to drag you from your desserts. There are just one or two little things I feel I should say, as best man. This is only the second time I've been a best man. I hope I did okay that time. The couple in question are at least still talking to me. Unfortunately, they're not actually talking to each other. The divorce came through a couple of months ago. But I'm assured it had absolutely nothing to do with me. Paula knew Piers had slept with her sister before I mentioned it in the speech. The fact that he'd slept with her mother came as a surprise, but I think was incidental to the nightmare of recrimination and violence that became their two-day marriage. Anyway, enough of that. My job today is to talk about Angus. There are no skeletons in his cupboard. Or so I thought. I'll come on to that in a minute. I would just like to say this. I am, as ever, in bewildered awe of anyone who makes this kind of commitment that Angus and Laura have made today. I know I couldn't do it and I think it's wonderful they can. So, back to Angus and those sheep.
CARRIE (Andie MacDowell): And how about you? How many have you slept with?
CHARLES: Christ! Nothing like that many. I don't know... I don't know what the fuck I've been doing with my time. Work, probably. Yeah, work. I have been working late a lot. I wish I'd rung you. But then you never rang me. You ruthlessly slept with me twice and never rang me.
CHARLES: Look. Sorry. I just... well... this is a really stupid question, particularly in view of our shopping excursion, but I just wondered if by any chance... obviously not, because I've only slept with nine people. But I... I just wondered... I really feel... in short, to recap in a slightly clearer version, in the words of David Cassidy, while still with the Partridge Family, I think I love you. And... I just wondered whether by any chance you wouldn't like to... no. No, of course not. I'm an idiot, he's not. Excellent. Fantastic. Lovely to see you. Sorry to disturb. Better get on... Fuck!
CARRIE: That was very romantic.
CHARLES: Well, I thought it over a lot, you know. I wanted to get it just right. Important to have said it, I think.
MATTHEW (John Hannah): Gareth used to prefer funerals to weddings. He said it was easier to get enthusiastic about a ceremony one had an outside chance of eventually being involved in. In order to prepare this speech, I rang a few people, to get a general picture of how Gareth was regarded by those who met him. "Fat" seems to have been a word people most connected with him. "Terribly rude" also rang a lot of bells. So "very fat" and "very rude" seems to have been the stranger's viewpoint. But some of you have rung me and let me know that you loved him, which I know he would have been thrilled to hear. You remember his fabulous hospitality... his strange experimental cooking. The recipe for "Duck à la Banana" fortunately goes with him to his grave. Most of all, you tell me of his enormous capacity for joy. And, when joyful, for highly vocal drunkenness. I hope joyful is how you will remember him. Not stuck in a box in a church. Pick your favorite of his waistcoats and remember him that way. The most splendid, replete, big-hearted--weak-hearted as it turned out--and jolly bugger most of us ever met. As for me, you may ask how I'll remember him. What I thought of him. Unfortunately, there I run out of words. Forgive me if I turn from my own feelings to the words of another splendid bugger, W.H. Auden. This is actually what I want to say: "Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone. Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone. Silence the pianos and with muffled drum, bring out the coffin... let the mourners come. Let the aeroplanes circle, moaning overhead, scribbling on the sky the message: He Is Dead. Put crepe bows 'round the white necks of the public doves. Let traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves. He was my North, my South, my East and West; my working week and my Sunday rest. My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song. I thought that love would last forever; I was wrong. The stars are not wanted now, put out every one. Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun. Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood, for nothing now can ever come to any good."
Daft pr*ck. Notting Hill, written by Richard Curtis:
ANNA SCOTT (Julia Roberts): Wait, what about me?
MAX (Tim McInnerny): Sorry, you think *you* deserve the brownie?
ANNA: Well, a shot at it, at least, huh?
WILLIAM THACKER (Hugh Grant): Well, you'll have to fight me for it; this is a very good brownie.
ANNA (telling her sob story, trying to win the last brownie): I've been on a diet every day since I was nineteen, which basically means I've been hungry for a decade. I've had a series of not-nice boyfriends, one of whom hit me. Ah, and every time I get my heart broken, the newspapers splash it about as though it's entertainment. And it's taken two rather painful operations to get me looking like this.
HONEY (Emma Chambers): Really?
ANNA: Really. (points at her nose, then chin) And, one day not long from now, my looks will go, they will discover I can't act, and I will become some sad middle-aged woman who looks a bit like someone who was famous for a while.
MAX: (long pause) Nah, nice try gorgeous, but you don't fool anyone. (general laughter from the group)
WILLIAM: Pathetic effort to hog the brownie.
WILLIAM: I live in Notting Hill. You live in Beverly Hills. Everyone in the world knows who you are. My mother has trouble remembering my name.
ANNA: I'm also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.
HONEY: William just turned down Anna Scott.
SPIKE (Rhys Ifans - to William): You daft prick.
BERNIE (Hugh Bonneville): But she said she wanted to go out with you?
WILLIAM: Yes - sort of...
BERNIE: That's nice.
BERNIE: Well, you know, anybody saying they want to go out with you is... pretty great... isn't it?
WILLIAM: It was sort of sweet actually. I mean, I know she's an actress and all that, so she can deliver a line, but she said that she might be as famous as can be, but also... that she was just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her. (pause) Oh, sod a dog. I've made the wrong decision, haven't I? (Spike nods emphatically)
Happy Statehood Day! On this day in 1912, Arizona became the 48th state.
In the background of the state seal (below: click it for history) is a mountain range with the sun rising behind the peaks. At the right side of the mountains is a storage reservoir and a dam. In the middle are irrigated fields and orchards. The lower right side of the seal depicts a grazing cow. To the left is a quartz mill, and a miner with a pick and shovel. In back of him is a cactus, with a shadow pointing in the wrong direction. Above the drawing is the motto "Ditat Deus," meaning "God Enriches."
The extra syllable. Love Actually, written and directed by Richard Curtis:
MIKEY, DJ INTERVIEWER (Marcus Brigstocke): How do you think this new record compares to your old, classic stuff?
BILLY MACK (Bill Nighy): Oh come on Mikey, you know as well as I do the record's crap. But wouldn't it be great if number one this Christmas wasn't some smug teenager but an old ex-heroin-addict searching for a comeback at any price? Those young popsters come Christmas will be stretched out naked with a cute bird balancing on their balls and I'll be stuck in some dingy flat with my manager Joe, ugliest man in the world, fucking miserable because our fucking gamble didn't pay off. So if you believe in Father Christmas, children, like your Uncle Billy does, buy my festering turd of a record. And particularly enjoy the incredible crassness of the moment when we try to squeeze an extra syllable into the fourth line.
MIKEY: I think you're referring to "If you really love Christmas..."
BILLY MACK: "...come on and let it snow." Ouch.
BILLY MACK: Hiya kids. Here is an important message from your Uncle Bill. Don't buy drugs. Become a pop star, and they give you them for free.
NATALIE (Martine McCutcheon - talking about her ex-boyfriend): He says no one's going to fancy a girl with thighs the size of big tree trunks. Not a nice guy, actually, in the end.
PRIME MINISTER (Hugh Grant): Right. Goodness. Well, well. You know, being Prime Minister, I could just have him murdered.
NATALIE: Thank you, sir. I'll think about it.
PRIME MINISTER: Do. The S.A.S. are absolutely charming. Ruthless trained killers are just a phone call away.
HARRY (Alan Rickman): Tell me, exactly, how long it is that you've been working here?
SARAH (Laura Linney): Two years, seven months, three days and, I suppose, what, two hours?
HARRY: And how long have you been in love with Karl, our enigmatic chief designer?
SARAH: Ahm, two years, seven months, three days and, I suppose, an hour and thirty minutes.
HARRY: I thought as much.
SARAH: Do you think everybody knows?
SARAH: Do you think Karl knows?
SARAH: Oh, that is bad news.
HARRY: Well I just thought maybe the time had come to do something about it.
SARAH: Like what?
HARRY: Invite him out for a drink and then after about twenty minutes casually drop into the conversation the fact that you'd like to marry him and have lots of sex and babies.
SARAH: You know that?
HARRY: Yes. And so does Karl. Think about it. For all our sakes. It's Christmas.
SARAH: Certainly. Excellent. Will do. Thanks, boss.
BILLY MACK: I realized that Christmas is the time to be with the people you love.
JOE (Gregor Fisher): Right.
BILLY MACK: And I realized that as dire chance and fateful cockup would have it, here I am, mid-fifties, and without knowing it, I've gone and spent most of my adult life with a chubby employee. And much as it grieves me to say it, it might be that the people I love is, in fact... you.
JOE: (pause) Well, this is a surprise.
BILLY MACK: Yeah...
JOE: Ten minutes at Elton John's and you're as gay as a maypole!
Giada's spice rack.
While channel surfing last week, I ran across a cooking show called Everyday Italian. This is not just *any* recipe-fest, it's the program hosted by Giada De Laurentiis, granddaughter of movie producer Dino De Laurentiis.
Giada is a pretty woman with spectacular cleavage, and she seems determined to show off her breasts during nearly every episode. She wears low-cut tops, and she leans toward the camera.
You have to understand that I'm completely useless in the kitchen, so I don't normally watch the Food Network. However, I was instantly mesmerized by Giada's conspicuous talents. It doesn't matter whether she's boiling, baking or frying, with cannoli, spumoni or vermicelli, Giada can easily find an excuse to display Everyday Italian's two most important assets.
Lean, Giada, lean.
Death and God. Fearless, written by Rafael Yglesias, adapting his own novel:
MAX KLEIN (Jeff Bridges - comforting a child during the plane crash): Put your head down... it will be over soon. Now close your eyes... everything is wonderful.
MAX (shouting at the heavens): You want to kill me but you can't!
MAX: People don't believe in God so much as they choose not to believe in nothing.
DR. BILL PERLMAN (John Turturro): He and your wife are the only survivors I can't reach. She won't talk and he won't admit the crash was bad.
MANNY RODRIGO (Benicio Del Toro): Is that right? He says it was good?
DR. PERLMAN: Says it was the best thing that ever happened to him.
CARLA RODRIGO (Rosie Perez): You told me I was going to be safe with you.
MAX: You're safe. You're safe because we died already.
CARLA: So what are you saying? That there's no God, but there's you?
Pill peddler. From The Shop Around the Corner, screenplay by Samson Raphaelson (and Ben Hecht, uncredited), based upon the play by Miklós László:
ALFRED KRALIK (James Stewart): There might be a lot we don't know about each other. You know, people seldom go to the trouble of scratching the surface of things to find the inner truth.
KLARA NOVAK (Margaret Sullavan): Well I really wouldn't care to scratch your surface, Mr. Kralik, because I know exactly what I'd find. Instead of a heart, a hand-bag. Instead of a soul, a suitcase. And instead of an intellect, a cigarette lighter... which doesn't work.
DOCTOR (Edwin Maxwell): Pardon me, Mr. Katona. Precisely what position do you hold with Matuschek and Company?
PEPI KATONA (William Tracy): Well, I would describe myself as a contact man. I keep contact between Matuschek and the customers... on a bicycle.
DOCTOR: Do you mean... an errand boy?
PEPI: Doctor, do I call you a pill peddler?
Tall decaf cappuccino. From You've Got Mail, screenplay by Nora Ephron & Delia Ephron, based on the play by Miklós László:
JOE FOX (Tom Hanks): You're crazy about him...
KATHLEEN KELLY (Meg Ryan): Yes. I am.
JOE: Then why don't you run off with him? What are you waiting for?
KATHLEEN: I don't actually know him.
KATHLEEN: We only know each other - oh, God, you're not going to believe this...
JOE: Let me guess. From the Internet.
JOE: You've got mail.
JOE: Three very powerful words.
GEORGE PAPPAS (Steve Zahn): For me, the Internet is just another way of being rejected by women.
JOE: The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don't know what the hell they're doing or who on earth they are, can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self: tall... decaf... cappuccino. (KATHLEEN exits.)
NEXT CUSTOMER IN LINE: Tall decaf cappuccino.
BIRDIE CONRAD (Jean Stapleton): What are you girls talking about?
CHRISTINA PLUTZKER (Heather Burns): Cybersex.
BIRDIE: I tried to have cybersex once, but I kept getting a busy signal.
One-liners. My Favorite Year was written by Dennis Palumbo, from a story by Dennis Palumbo and Norman Steinberg:
SY BENSON (Bill Macy): California? You can't write comedy in California! It's not depressing enough!
BENJY STONE (Mark Linn-Baker): Catherine, Jews know two things: suffering, and where to find great Chinese food.
ALAN SWANN (Peter O'Toole): Damn you! I'm not an actor, I'm a movie star!
Word processors of the world, unite! From After Hours, written by Joseph Minion and directed by Martin Scorsese:
PAUL HACKETT (Griffin Dunne): Is Marcy here?
KIKI BRIDGES (Linda Fiorentino): She had to go out to the all-night drugstore.
PAUL: Is she all right?
KIKI: It's under control.
PAUL: You have a great body.
KIKI: Yes. Not a lot of scars.
MARCY FRANKLIN (Rosanna Arquette): My husband was a movie freak. Actually, he was particularly obsessed with one movie, "The Wizard of Oz." He talked about it constantly. I thought it was cute at first. On our wedding night, I was a virgin. When we made love - you've seen the film, haven't you?
PAUL: "The Wizard of Oz"? Yeah, I've seen it.
MARCY: Well, whenever he - you know, when he came...
MARCY: ...he would just scream out, "Surrender Dorothy!" That's all. Just "Surrender Dorothy!"
PAUL: This isn't Colombian. I don't even think it's pot.
MARCY: That's what the guy who sold it to me said it was...
PAUL: Well, the guy who sold it to you is a liar. So are you. That's shit.
MARCY: Don't get upset, I just won't buy it from him anymore. Are you all right?
PAUL: Where are those Plaster-of-Paris paperweights, anyway? I mean, that's what I came down here for. Well, that's not entirely true, I came to see you... but where are the paperweights? That's what I wanna see now.
MARCY: What's the matter?
PAUL: I said I wanna see a Plaster-of-Paris bagel-and-cream-cheese paperweight. Now cough it up.
MARCY: Right now?
PAUL: Yes, right now!
MARCY: They're in Kiki's bedroom.
PAUL: Then get 'em. As we sit here chatting, there are important papers flying rampant around my apartment, 'cause I don't have *anything* to hold them down with.
Following a night of frustration and weirdness, PAUL screams to the skies:
PAUL: What do you want from me? I'm just a word processor, for Christ's sake!
E.g. vs. i.e. From Get Shorty, screenplay by Scott Frank, from the novel by Elmore Leonard:
RAY "BONES" BARBONI (Dennis Farina): Let me explain something to you. Momo is dead. Which means that everything he had now belongs to Jimmy Cap, including you. Which also means, that when I speak, I speak for Jimmy. E.g., from now on, you start showing me the proper fucking respect.
CHILI PALMER (John Travolta): "E.g." means "for example". What I think you want to say is "i.e."
BONES: Bullshit! That's short for "ergo".
CHILI: Ask your man.
BODYGUARD (Big Daddy Wayne): To the best of my knowledge, "e.g." means "for example."
BONES: E.g., i.e., fuck you! The point is that, when I say "jump," you say "OK," okay?
CHILI: You had a bad day, huh?
KAREN FLORES (Rene Russo): I spent all day crawling out of a grave. The director said that I was incapable of reaching the emotional core of the character.
CHILI: What? Well, obviously he didn't see you in "Bride of the Mutant."
KAREN: You saw that one?
CHILI: When you turn to the alien mother, and you tell her that her time on Earth is finished, Joan Crawford, on her best day, wishes that she had, in her day, the emotion and the intensity that you brought to that scene.
BO CATLETT (Delroy Lindo): I'd like to introduce my associate, The Bear. Movie stuntman, champion bodybuilder. Throws out things I don't want.
BEAR (James Gandolfini): I think you ought to turn around and head back to Miami.
CHILI: So you're a stuntman, huh?
CHILI: You any good?
BEAR: Am I any good?! (BEAR turns to BO, laughing. CHILI grabs BEAR by the balls and throws him down the stairs.)
CHILI: That's not bad for a guy his size.
Nyah. A Fish Called Wanda, written by John Cleese (from a story by Charles Crichton and John Cleese):
OTTO (Kevin Kline): You pompous, stuck-up, snot-nosed, English, giant, twerp, scumbag, fuck-face, dickhead, asshole.
ARCHIE LEACH (John Cleese): How very interesting. You are a true vulgarian, aren't you?
OTTO: You're the vulgarian, you fuck.
OTTO (dangling ARCHIE out the window): You're really sorry.
ARCHIE: I'm really, really sorry. I apologize unreservedly.
OTTO: You take it back.
ARCHIE: I do, I offer a complete and utter retraction. The imputation was totally without basis in fact, and was in no way fair comment, and was motivated purely by malice, and I deeply regret any distress that my comments may have caused you, or your family, and I hereby undertake not to repeat any such slander at any time in the future.
OTTO: You really like animals don't you, Ken? What's the attraction?
KEN PILE (Michael Palin): Well, you can t-t-trust them and they don't sh-sh-sh-sh...
OTTO: Shit on you?
KEN: Show off all the t-t-time.
OTTO: It's K-K-Ken, c-c-coming to k-k-kill me.
WANDA GERSHWITZ (Jamie Lee Curtis): I'll be right back, take your clothes off.
OTTO: Pork away, pal. Fuck her blue.
Eleven Thousand Virgins. [107-page screenplay - Writers Network semifinalist - optioned @ Amazon Studios]: This feature has been described as "Field of Dreams with medieval chant music in place of baseball." Alex Barnett has a comfortable life in Los Angeles and San Francisco; it's probably too comfortable, although he can't quite admit to himself that an extended separation from his wife Nicole eats at his soul. An unusual set of seemingly unrelated circumstances impels him to seek out a centuries-abandoned monastery in southwest Germany, where he confronts the animate image of Hildegard von Bingen, the legendary twelfth-century mystic, prophet, and composer of ravishing liturgical chants.
Although his friend Lars believes it's a bona-fide vision, much like the visions that fueled Hildegard's own creativity, Alex cynically distrusts his deepest instincts and drives himself to search for a more acceptable answer. His quest guides him on the path toward self-awareness, through experiences both sacred and profane. One man's inner and outer pilgrimages take him to the depths of uncertainty, and, almost inexorably, to the peak of actualization. [Back to script portfolio]
Professor Robocop. In The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension (written by Earl Mac Rauch), actor Peter Weller (Robocop) portrays the title character: an acclaimed neurosurgeon, auto racer, particle physicist and rock star. In real life, Weller is a jazz trumpeter, History Channel host, Oscar-nominated director and Syracuse University professor (in Florence, Italy)...
BUCKAROO BANZAI (Peter Weller): Hey, hey, calm down. Don't be mean. We don't have to be mean. 'Cause, remember, no matter where you go... there you are.
DR. LIZARDO (John Lithgow): Where are we going?!
RED LECTROIDS (extras): Planet Ten!
DR. LIZARDO: When?!
RED LECTROIDS: Real soon!
MISSION CONTROL (Kent Perkins): Buckaroo, the President's on line one, calling about is everything okay with the alien space bomb and Planet Ten, or should we just go ahead and destroy Russia?
BUCKAROO BANZAI: Tell him yes on one and no on two.
MISSION CONTROL: Which was yes? The destroy Russia, or the, uh, number two?
NEW JERSEY (Jeff Goldblum): Why is there a watermelon there?
RENO NEVADA (Pepe Serna): I'll tell you later.
PENNY PRIDDY (Ellen Barkin, holding a mechanical gizmo): Uh, Dr. Banzai, you... you forgot your thruster.
BUCKAROO BANZAI: Why don't you hold onto it for a while?
PENNY PRIDDY: Anytime.
Feelix. You'll never look at Oscar® the same way again! WARNING: this 7-page animation script is a South Park parody, so it contains strong language and adult situations.
Memories. Memento, by Christopher Nolan, from a short story by his brother, Jonathan Nolan:
LEONARD SHELBY (Guy Pearce): So how many rooms am I checked into, in this shit-hole?
BURT HADLEY (Mark Boone Junior): Just two, so far.
LEONARD: Well, at least you're being honest about ripping me off.
BURT: Well, you're not gonna remember anyway.
LEONARD: You don't have to be *that* honest, Burt.
BURT: Leonard, always get a receipt.
LEONARD: That's good advice. I'll have to write that down.
LEONARD (running, talking to himself): Okay, what am I doing? (sees another guy, also running) I'm chasing this guy. (the other guy has a gun and shoots at LEONARD) Nope. He's chasing me.
NATALIE (Carrie-Anne Moss): Is that what your little note says? It must be hard living your life off a couple of scraps of paper. You mix your laundry list with your grocery list and you'll end up eating your underwear for breakfast.
LEONARD: Memory can change the shape of a room; it can change the color of a car. And memories can be distorted. They're just an interpretation, they're not a record, and they're irrelevant if you have the facts.
TEDDY GAMMELL (Joe Pantoliano): So you lie to yourself to be happy. There's nothing wrong with that. We all do it.
LEONARD: I have to believe in a world outside my own mind. I have to believe that my actions still have meaning, even if I can't remember them. I have to believe that when my eyes are closed, the world's still there. Do I believe the world's still there? Is it still out there? ... Yeah. We all need mirrors to remind ourselves who we are. I'm no different.
Fifty Beans. Le Méridien Hotels are sponsoring a fifty-word flash contest for stories to appear on their website and in their cafés worldwide. My "Whittling" went live today, at FiftyBeans.com. [When your browser finishes brewing, click the two coffee beans in the lower right corner, then click "Browse," and finally click "Alan C. Baird" over in the right-hand column.]
Citius, Altius, Fortius. Chariots of Fire, written by Colin Welland:
ERIC LIDDELL (Ian Charleson): I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.
SAM MUSSABINI (Ian Holm): Eric Liddell? He's no real problem.
HAROLD ABRAHAMS (Ben Cross - ERIC has already beaten HAROLD once): You could have fooled me.
SAM: Yeah, he's fast. But he won't go any faster. He's a gut runner, digs deep. But a short sprint is run on nerves. It's tailor-made for neurotics.
SYBIL GORDON (Alice Krige - asking about running): Do you love it?
HAROLD: I'm more of an addict. It's a compulsion with me, a weapon I can use.
SYBIL: Against what?
HAROLD: Being Jewish, I suppose.
SYBIL (laughs incredulously): You're not serious! People aren't like that, people don't care. Can it be as bad as all that?
HAROLD: You're not Jewish, or you wouldn't have to ask.
HAROLD: And now in one hour's time I will be out there again. I will raise my eyes and look down that corridor--4 feet wide--with 10 lonely seconds to justify my whole existence. But will I?