Saturday, November 27, 2004
Thanksgiving has come and gone and all my various relatives have checked in and now checked out. Fortunately (or not, for those of you hoping to encounter real disaster), my family was on its best behavior. Only one nephew came. The other stayed in his southern state with his southern relatives and so we had to dodge calls from his mom who thought he was here. Why my brother couldn't just tell his ex that their son was with her family is a question for the ages. My listtle nephew, however, was a riot. He would regularly kiss my mom and then run in to my dad and say, "I kissed your wife!" Then my dad would play fight him for my mom's honor and he would laugh and run back to my mom and kiss her again. Also, my nephew spent most of Thanksgiving draped over the Professor. She was wearing her fuzzy sweater, which she uses to lure her Spinoza classmates into rubbing her on Wednesday nights, and it also worked its magic on my nephew. At one point, I was afraid we were going to have to call the Sheik and arrange a marriage in order to preserve the Professor's family honor. I made my first pecan pie. I was shocked to learn that a pecan pie is actually just a giant sugar pie with some nuts. My crust almost worked out, which is a marked improvement from my usual crusts, which never work out. Next time I'm going to use a little more shortening and let it rest a little longer in the fridge. One day, when I conquer the art of pie crusts, I'm going to throw a party. Speaking of parties, there will be no couch party. I couldn't talk my dad in to shelling out money for what he called "an old lady couch." So, we got a couch I think the Butcher will like. Should the Butcher ever move out, he will be the proud owner of a green suede couch. I can live with the green couch, but I'm not that excited about it. As I told Miss J., as it was happening, it seemed very logical, but then, after the deed was done, and I was sitting at home, I was really pissed that I didn't get a couch I liked. Of course, that's the problem with taking money from people: they then have a say in how the money is spent. I know I complain about this all the time, but I'm tired of not having any money. I'm tired of not being able to live how I want to and surrounding myself with things I'm in love with because I can't afford it. Why can't I have a job I love and live in a place I love surrounded by things I love with enough cash left over to do things with the people I love? Is this punishment for voting straight Democrat? Oh you fucking Reganites, can't a little more trickle down on me? ... yes, apparently, I did just ask to be peed on a little harder by Republicans... Well, if I can't have a nice couch, at least I can have a kinky fantasy life. Still, I wonder what it means that so much of my life, fantasy and real, lately revolves around pee?
Monday, November 22, 2004
A New Couch?
My dad has tentatively agreed to buy us a new couch. This is not surprising when one considers that he has loathed our couch ever since one of the feathers came out of the arm and poked him and now that we also hate the couch because someone peed on it, his hatred has been justified and renewed. Still, it means that if I don't want to spend fourteen hours wandering around Walmart while my parents insist that it must sell couches some place, if only we find the right department, I better get out and find were in town one can buy an inexpensive couch. So, I took the Professor with me and, wow, did we find the best couch ever! It's a beautiful, tacky brothel-red monstrosity that I am madly in love with. If I owned this couch, I could get laid, regularly. People would come over, see me on my couch, and be compelled to make mad, passionate love to me. Others would see me sitting on this couch and believe that I could tell their fortunes. Others still would be busy running their hands over the sumptuous pillows. I love this couch. Still, I doubt that I'm going to get that couch as it is more expensive than every other couch we looked at... still, it makes me happy to know a couch like that exists in the world. After I dropped the Professor off back at home, I went to the store to pick up some pop and a treat for Mrs. Wigglebottom and I saw the Professor's invisible friend. It was pretty funny, because I never see her invisible friend in any other context except when I'm with her. And, so he's never seen me outside of a Professorial context, and so we stood there in the aisle a second looking at each other like "Do I know you?" and then being delighted to discover that we did. This was the highlight of my weekend--discovering that the Professor's imaginary friend exists outside of late-night drunken parties. The majority of the weekend I spent with my cousin and his girlfriend. It was very nice to see them and Mrs. Wigglebottom loves the girlfriend like they were in the same litter, but I was definitely confronted with my own nerdiness. I had no idea what to do with them. The Butcher is cool and can always come up with stuff to do, but I rarely leave the house, so what do I know about fun? Pretty much I just drove them around and hoped they would have fun on their own. But, I'm sure when I get my new couch, I'll become exciting and then, when relatives come to visit, I'll entertain them effortlessly.
Thursday, November 18, 2004
One of the drawbacks of my job is that I rarely, if ever, read for fun anymore. However, while I was on my trip, I was trapped by a terrible manuscript and, in an act of defiance, I bought Johathon Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke to read instead. It's awesome and I recommend it highly to all y'all. It's been so long since I've read a good fiction book that I'm almost tempted to turn around and start reading it again. It's got magic and Raven Kings and English History and a man who is a book and a man who becomes a Reader and ships made out of rain and all kinds of cool stuff like that. And footnotes, footnotes! It's great. Oh, and Lord Byron! I feel like the Butcher, who reads just one book, ever, The Electric Koolaid Acid Test, which he regularly finishes and starts again.
My Thoughts About Being In Mississippi
Right now, I'm sitting on a bench under a tree in front of the Lyceum at the University of Mississippi. Directly in front of me are two young black men horsing around at the flag pole. I can't quite hear what they're talking about, but they're laughing. So, folks, this is the University of Mississippi. To my left is the building James Meredith was denied entry into. Directly in front of me is the U.S. flag and below it is the state flag of Mississippi, which still contains the stars and bars. And there goes a guy with dreadlocks. And above me, in the tree, a squirrel is peering down at me and squalking like I'm sitting in her seat. Maybe I am. It's weird to be sitting here and I don't think it could be any weirded if the squirrel did attack me. I really don't know any way to make sense of it. I can look at the door that James Meredith walked through, the bullet-ridden columns, and I can see the direct results of his actions right in front of me. Is that justice, though? Is opening that building to everyone justice? Or should that building have been burnt to the ground and the ground salted so that nothing would grow there? I don't know, but I'm sitting here feeling like either one would have been right and choosing this right way means something. But I don't know what. I really don't think anyone knows what it means.
My Thoughts Upon Driving to Mississippi
At least once, everyone should be driving backroads to Mississippi, listening to the blues. If there is anything more satisfying than tooling around old town squares and then crossing into ancient swamps. What's funny about Oxford is that even though it posits itself as unique among towns because it gave the world Faulkner, it couldn't be any more like any other small town in the middle of nowhere. There's a McDonald's and a bustling town square with a courthouse in the middle. How an we be so different when we all tool around the same town square? Oh, rural folks, you are all my neighbors!
Friday, November 12, 2004
The Family Disfunction Scavenger Hunt
See if you can locate these sore spots the next time you have dinner with our family!
- Someone nags the Butcher about not going back to college.
- Someone mentions how much weight they've lost or how much weight someone else needs to lose.
- Someone insinuates that someone else could find a significant other if only he or she went to church.
- Someone insinuates that someone else could find a significant other if only he or she changed ___________ about him or herself.
- 5 bonus points if both of the above are taken care of in the same sentence.
- Someone takes someone else aside to snidely comment about how "we all know how so-and-so [who is either in the bathroom or outside for a second] is."
- Someone falls asleep on the couch in the middle of the meal.
- Whoever is asleep refuses to actually sleep in an available bed because she or he might miss out on something.
- Someone burps.
- Someone burps and is proud of it.
- Someone farts.
- Someone blames the dog for the fart.
- Someone describes their sister-in-law as a "crack whore."
- Someone extols the virtues of Michigan potatoes over all others.
- Someone tries to or succeeds in making someone else do something that he or she is entirely capable of doing. Bonus points if it's something like asking the person farthest from the fridge to get the milk.
- Someone answers the phone and proceeds to have a long conversation with whoever is on the other end in front of everyone else. Bonus points if the caller has actually called for someone else. Extra bonus points if the phone answerer hangs up when he or she is done talking instead of handing the phone over to the intended receiver.
- My dad, who is a fine cook, inexplicably leaves out one vital ingredient from what would have otherwise been a perfectly fine dish, i.e. the tomato sauces-less lasagna he hoisted upon the Shill.
- My dad describes something as tasting "like candy" or "melting in your mouth" when it could not be less like candy--most likely some kind of meat, but may also describe the stuffing.
- My dad adds brown sugar to something in order to make it taste more "German." Beware, the brown sugar might be added to anything, from the turkey to the potatoes to the beans to the dressing.
- One point for every time my mom tells you a story she just finished telling you a half an hour ago.
- 50 points if she asks if she's related to you.
Any other suggestions for the Family Disfunction Scavenger Hunt can be left in the comments.
An actual conversation in my office
"Look at the cover of PW this week: this book Joy at Work. I didn't know work was supposed to be enjoyable." "Well, sometimes." "Oh, look, it's endorsed by Bill Clinton." "Bill Clinton?! Whose bad idea was that? Well, I guess if anyone can tell us how to have fun at the office..." "I didn't know one was named Joy." "What's the opening sentence? 'First, find an intern with low self-esteem?'" "Named Joy, if possible..."
Thursday, November 11, 2004
Leaving Las Office
[Don't bother to tell me that it should be "Los Office." I'm not listening.] So, as an exercise in mental health, I'm getting ready to take off for two weeks. Two whole weeks. It's pretty crazy. I'll be fairly busy, I think. For the first part of next week, I'll be down in Mississippi doing some work. Then my cousin will be here for the weekend and then I'll be gearing up for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving, as ever, ought to be interesting because my whole family, including my two nephews, will be here and I've invited the Professor and the Guy who Gets Laid to come over as well. My parents have already bought the turkey and the potatoes and charged me with getting the bag to cook the turkey in. I don' t know why Illinois turkeys and potatoes are better than ones down here, but that should make the Professor feel less homesick about the whole enterprise (though, Sheik, if you'd like to come down and surprise her, that would be fun, too). Holidays with my parents are never dull. Either they are painfully painful reminders of why I spent most of high school moping around listening to the Doors, as if Jim Morrison was the height of esoteric knowledge or we have a really good time. Still, even if they are on their best behavior, I'm thinking that the Professor could play a kind of Family Disfunction Scavenger Hunt, crossing off crass behavior as it happens. Anyway, I'm looking forward to having some time off, and, hopefully, some exciting adventures to tell you all about. At the least, I'll get to know first hand if the couch still smells like pee, because the Butcher says that my cousin gets my room and I have to sleep on the couch while he is here. Today, though, is grueling. I've done just about everything I can do and I don't want to start any new projects because I'm about to leave. So, instead, I'm sitting here appearing to be busy. Fortunately, there's no one else at my end of the office to judge how successful or unsuccessful I am.
The Terrible Walk
So, every day when I go out to walk my dog, I think how nice it is to walk my dog and how it's one of my favorite times of the day and how much I should really think of some way to tell you about it. There's the big dog that looks like Dr. Phil, who always barks happily at us when we go by. There's the yippy dog and her friend, the angry silent one. There are two trees who bow out gracefully towards the road next to a little gate in front of a little house. There is a small hill and a stop light and a patch of sidewalk that always fills up with leaves. And there's always a good deal of lolly-gagging on the way home, as we look for good sticks and throw ourselves willy-nilly into the sky. Even when a car pulled over and a guy asked me if I wanted "to date," I still thought it was only slightly scary and more funny. I've never been mistaken for a prostitute before. And sometimes the cars come a little too close for comfort. But, in general, it's always fine. Until today. Today, as Mrs. Wigglebottom and I had made our first right turn, an amorous bulldog came out of nowhere. Mrs. Wigglebottom didn't seem freaked out, so my plan was to shoo the dog home and continue on with our walk. However, he had other plans, which included making sweet love to Mrs. Wigglebottom right in the middle of the road. Even this would have only been annoying (and, since Mrs. Wigglebottom is spayed, pointless) had his life-partner not caught him in flagrante delicto as it were. She was pissed off, folks. Very pissed. Growling, running, teeth-bared pissed off and she lunged and both other dogs and somehow got a mouth full of both of them and pulled him down and into me. He, though, would not be dissuaded. He attempted a remount. She was lunging and snapping. Of course, I was yelling for everyone to go home. I was yelling for help. I was yelling for just about everything. Worse than that, as I was trying to pull Mrs. Wigglebottom to safety, she decided I had lost my mind and her best strategy was to attempt to get as far from me as possible. I don't know if you've ever had three insane dogs at your feet, but it's fucking scary. Finally, some kind woman in a van stopped and helped me. She chased the angry dog back home and I was finally able to appear threatening enough to the amorous dog that he backed off. And Mrs. Wigglebottom and I headed for home. But, the worst part is that Mrs. Wigglebottom has lost all confidence in me. The whole way home, she lagged behind me, tail between her legs, ears down, head down, looking up at me like I was an insane ogre who might beat her to death at any minute. When I tried to check her for cuts and scrapes, she cowered and flinched when I touched her. When we got home, she went straight up to the Butcher's room instead of watching CNN Headline News with me. She didn't even want a treat from me (though, of course, she did take it reluctantly). I feel like a failure as a pet owner. I should have done something, but I don't know what. I keep expecting someone from Animal Planet to show up and confiscate Mrs. Wigglebottom and the cats and take them to some place where they can have an owner who understands how to be a pack leader in a way that makes the animals in our pack feel safe and protected and keeps other animals from harming them.
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
My Psychic Powers Continue
So, today I had one of our regular hugely important meetings where the Board settles in and looks through the things we'd like to be up to and decides whether or not we can actually be up to them. It went very well, but one strange thing did happen. Last night, I dreamed that the Board Chair, who had previously said she could come, came to the meeting. It was a strange dream because it was so ordinary and mundane. And who should show up at the meeting today but the Board Chair, who had previously said she couldn't come! Now, I will focus on influencing the Butcher to buy us Chinese food for dinner. . .
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
When they make pocket folders with the little slits that let you slip your business card in the front of the pocket, how do you actually do that without bending your business card beyond recognition? Just wondering.
Outside it's America
My friends, my nieces and nephews, it's been a week, a hard, long, sad week that started poorly, seemed to right itself with drunken Twister, and then ended with a smelly couch. Many of us, especially those of us living in the capitol of the United States of Jesus, have been distraught, wondering how this could have happened. For you, I link to this website, which has us divided, not by red or blue states, but on gradiants of purple, in order to account for how close the race was, just about every place. There appear to be two important lessons about the "red" states we can glean from this map. 1. People who vote Democrat are affected by gravity more strongly than those who aren't. Look at how Democratic voters live at the base of the Appalachians and in the flood planes of the Mississippi. 2. Living near the Missippi seems to make you more likely to vote Democrat. How can we use this to our advantage in upcoming elections? One, place polling places in low-lying areas. The other, try to determine if there's something in the water (no, not pollution) that we could filter out and sprinkle over the rest of the country.
Monday, November 08, 2004
Who Peed on the Couch?
Occasionally, you will be confronted with an unanswerable question. What happens when we die? Do we all see the same colors or is the color I call "blue" the shade that appears to the Super Genius when she looks at "green" things? How do bumblebees fly with those tiny wings and that big fat body? And, most importantly, who peed on the couch? The suspects are as follows: Me. I was very drunk Saturday night and quite hung over all Sunday. I don't recall peeing on the couch, but I was sleeping on the couch most of the day until I noticed the pee. Neither I nor the blanket I was wrapped in smelled particularly pee-like though, and neither of them were wet. The Dog. The dog has never peed in the house for as long as we've owned her. Yet, there's always a first time, I supposed. The little cat. The little cat has never peed in inappropriate spots and this seemed to be large amount of pee, though how large is hard to tell, because I had the brilliant idea of pouring soapy water onto the pee which then made the couch much wetter than it was and probably drove the smell deeper into the cushions. The orange cat. The orange cat is notorious for peeing on things in the house that don't meet with his approval: large piles of laundry, plastic bags, and, well, mostly plastic bags. There were no plastic bags on the couch and I'm almost 99% positive that the cat was out all day. The Ghosts of the Civil War. They did steal my can opener and my post about them stealing my can opener, so it's possible that my discussing them has upset them so much that they've now peed on my couch, but that seems unlikely. I've taken the blame in our house for peeing on the couch, because if I hadn't been throwing up on myself all morning, I could have taken the dog out and let the cats out, and thus no one would have been forced to pee on the couch in protest for my bad pet-ownership skills. Remarkably, the Butcher seemed to take my claiming responsibility for the pee on the couch very calmly. His exact words were: "Well, I hope we get a new couch for Christmas, then." and "Then you get to sleep on the couch when we have company." Also, he purchased some Wool-lite pet stain remover which is supposed to also keep pets from re-marking. This is both exciting to me and scary. Because, now, if someone pees on the couch again, I know it's either me or the Civil War Vets.
Friday, November 05, 2004
Why Aunt B. is So Grouchy Today
My intern promised me he'd come back yesterday afternoon and deliver some stuff around campus for me. When I got to work, late, today, I discovered he never came back. I had to cut out of my staff meeting early to get it done. When I got to work late, I also had a bunch of computer and logistical nightmares to deal with as I attempt to arrange the meeting for which the intern was supposed to deliver the packages. I got to work late because the Butcher locked me out of the house this morning. Here's how it went. I woke up at 5;45 to walk Mrs. Wigglebottom. I notice the Butcher is still not home from his exciting night out. I take a moment to hope that he'll make it to work, but give it no more thought. Mrs. Wigglebottom and I are just about to the right turn and we see the Butcher tooling down the road. We wave and laugh and he goes home to get a few more hours' sleep and I go on with my walk. When we get back, the front door is locked. I don't have my cell phone with me because it's in the kitchen, charging up. I knock. No response. I knock louder. Still nothing. I go around to the back and holler for the Butcher. Nothing. I root around in the recycle bin for something firm enough to pop the front door lock (this can be accomplished with a credit card). But of course, everything in the recycle bin is soggy and limp. More pounding. I go through the neighbors' trash looking for something firm. Nothing. More pounding and yelling. Through this all, Mrs. Wigglebottom has apparently decided I have lost my mind and she is steadfastly refusing to participate. She's at the far end of the leash, cowering and pulling as far away from me as possible. The cats, however, have emerged out of nowhere, and they're doing whatever they can to help. Do I need more folks in the recycle bin? The cats volunteer! Do I need more folks rooting around in the neighbors' garbage? The cats are in there with me. Are we running back and forth between the front door and the back door? No problem. Are we yelling loudly? The cats yell too. I think the cats probably thought this morning I had truly become one of them. Finally, I put on my sweetest, nicest voice and stood under the Butcher's window and said, "Butcher, hey, Butcher. I have cookies." To which he replied, "mrhrmrhhmrmrgh." But at least he'd replied! So, with that, I kept tempting him with cookies. And finally, he yelled, "What the fuck do you want?" And I could say, "Let me in, fuckhead." No, no I don't know what a fuckhead is. Perhaps it's some kind of fish, like the crappie. But that did the trick and he came down and unlocked the door. So, today has not been fun, but we've learned some valuable lessons: 1. Though you can break into our house very easily with a credit card or driver's license, apparently we're safe from any burglars who can only afford implements made out of cardboard. 2. Mrs. Wigglebottom is, at heart, a chicken. 3. The cats, especially the small cat, are very brave. 4. The dog loves order and routine. 5. The cats love chaos, surprises, and the chance to be loud and messy. 6. My intern is utterly undependable. 7. I love to make lists. Also, one last thing made me grouchy. After I'd delivered my packages, I decided to leave a complaining and bitter note in the Professor's mailbox (my motto: why not inflict your misery on the world?). I went into a building, and up to the third floor and started wandering around looking for her mailbox. The longer I looked, the more frustrated I got, and confused. How hard can it be to find a bunch of mailboxes? And then I realize that 1. I'm totally in the wrong building. I need to be next door. & 2. Her department is on the first floor anyway. I need some sleep, I guess.
Thursday, November 04, 2004
A Post for Literary Nerds
The sources for the last post, in case you want to read them, are as follows: "The Poet" by Ralph Waldo Emerson "Song of Myself" by Walt Whitman "One Song, America, Before I Go" by Walt Whitman "A Supermarket in California" by Allen Ginsberg "America" by Allen Ginsberg If you want to hear the sound of Walt Whitman's voice, you can check it out at the Whitman archive. If you want to compare it to the sound of Ginsberg's voice, that's always fun.
An Open Letter to America
Dear America, I’m sure Walt Whitman still loves you, even if my faith is shaken. To paraphrase Emerson, you were a poem in his eyes; your ample geography dazzled his imagination, and he hurried to capture you in verse. If you go back to “Song of Myself,” you can see how much he loves you. You are the little one who sleeps in the cradle, the youngster and the red-faced girl on the bushy hill. You are the suicide in the bedroom and the sick man in the hospital. You are the runaway slave and the twenty-eight young men who bathe by the shore. Most of all, you are the one he invites to loaf with him in the grass; you are the one who “settled your head athwart my hips, and gently turn’d over upon me,/ And parted my shirt from my bosom-bone, and plunged your tongue to my bare-stript heart,/ And reach’d till you felt my beard, and reach’d till you held my feet.” America, Walt Whitman has loved you as his very soul. When you laid dying on the battlefield, he searched you out and held your hand. When you opened the letter that said your son wasn’t coming home, he stood quietly next to your daughter and grieved with you. When you were unjust, he reminded you of your better self. When you celebrated, he sang with you. Who, America, beside Walt Whitman, knows all your worst things, and loves you anyway? Who else sees you as you are and pushes you towards greatness? “One song, America,” he says. If he could give us anything, he’d give directions; he’d “show, away ahead, thy real Union, and how it may be accomplish’d.” America, how come you don’t love Walt Whitman back? When you reached to his beard and reached to his feet, were you only teasing? Was Allen Ginsberg onto something when he asked, “Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-/ teacher, what America did you have when Charon quit / poling his ferry and you got out on a smoking bank / and stood watching the boat disappear on the black / waters of Lethe?” America, are you not yet mythic enough for Walt Whitman? Ginsberg loved Whitman, of course, and would have loved him more, I’m sure, had he had the opportunity. Sorry, America. As you know, this is quite serious, and not the time to be making jokes about either poet’s ways of passing the time. But what can you do at this point, if not joke? The time for stirring speeches and odes to our greatness is passed or not yet arrived. “America how can I write a holy litany in your silly mood?” The questions Ginsberg asks us—“America when will you be angelic?” “Why are your libraries full of tears?”—are unbearable, the answers untenable, and the only way to address them is to make light of them. To ask “When can I go into the supermarket and buy what I need with my good looks?” To admit “I smoke marijuana every chance I get.” So, America, that’s where I’m at. I’m thinking about the man who loved you silly and the man who loved you in spite of your silliness. I’m wondering how you can imagine either of them standing on a smoking bank, watching Charon fade from view, and not love them back. I’m wondering how come you want to defend marriage against Walt Whitman. And I’m wondering just how many of us “stroll dreaming of the lost America of love.” But I’m keeping encouraged, hard as it is. Walt Whitman, great lover of America, says “Missing me one place, search another; / I stop somewhere waiting for you.” Love, Aunt b.
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Last night, all the cool kids in the neighborhood came over to watch Van Helsing. The Butcher, the Red-Headed Kid, the Cute Guy, the neighbor with runes on his back, the neighbor with the blue cat: they were all in my living room eating ice cream cake and watching Van Helsing. How bad is this movie? This movie is so bad that when young teenagers found out it was rated PG-13, they rioted to try to get it an R rating so that their parents wouldn't dump them at this movie for the afternoon. Not only could I have written a better movie, I could have acted better in a better movie than most of the folks in this one. Here's how to make a movie as bad as Van Helsing. 1. Smoke a lot of pot and listen to hours of Led Zepplin while watching old horror movies. 2. Spend most of your high school career sketching out gruesome drawings of men ripping off their flesh to reveal werewolves. 3. Make some kids' movies. 4. Make some Brendan Fraser movies, but not the artsy ones. 5. Befriend the special effects guys from your Brendan Fraser movies. 6. Relive your high school years by sitting in your dad's basement with said special effects guys smoking pot, listening to Zep, and watching old horror movies. 7. Show them your flesh-rending werewolf drawings. 8. Let them convince you that they can render such flesh-rending on film. 9. View their special effects efforts and be duly wowed. 10. Decide to make a movie that features werewolves so you can use this awesome special effect. 11. Use your awesome werewolf special effect to convince big name stars to be in your film, inadvertently hiring Will Kemp (this is important; more important than your big name stars. You must get Will Kemp.). 12. Get some good costumes. Someone should look like a Pilgrim gone wrong. Your female lead should wear a tight corset and high heels. This will be sexy. Never mind that it would make it physically impossible for her to run and jump and flip. It counts that she looks good. You can chalk the rest up to her "super powers." 13. Once everyone shows up on your lavish sets, they're going to expect a script. 14. Oops. You spent all your time developing the special effects. 15. No matter. These are actors who've been in movies. They can come up with something to say that will carry us from one special effect to another. For instance: [Brooding beauty with perfect hair is sullen because she's not allowed to kiss handsome leading man yet. Leading man is pensive. Perhaps he's considering firing his agent.] "I [dramatic pause] have never [dramatic pause, accentuated by hair toss] seen the sea [remember, the character is Transylvanian. The actress should speak as if she's got a mouth full of angry marbles.]!" 16. Ignore the fact that Romania has a coast. 17. Don't be bound by other inconvenient facts of geography. If your characters need to head towards Rome, through the Carpathian mountains, no one will think it's weird that they end up in Hungary. Or did you mean Bucharest, not Budapest? No matter. Bucharest isn't between our heroes and Rome either! 18. No matter how big a place is--castle, country, continent--it's only populated by our characters. This means that if someone is in danger on one side of an enormous castle, there's no reason why another character can't just happen to swing over from the other side of the castle and just happen to pop into the right window to save you. 19. No matter how bad the movie is, no matter how implausible the action, Will Kemp will somehow make the most of his part and tempt your audience to believe that there must be another, alternate Van Helsing, with real dialog and a plot and this is just some Stoppard-ized movie that runs parallel to the good one. Perhaps they will hang out for the whole movie thinking this is your answer to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Yes, yes, that's it. Pretend you intended to make the movie just like this! You are a genius. Your movie is great. And anyone who can't see that is a fool.