Archive for December, 2013

One Strike And You’re Out

If you watch TV or movies at all, even just a little bit, you’ve almost certainly come across an acting cliché that has bothered me for almost as long as I myself have been watching those mediums of entertainment.  This is what I call the “one strike and you’re out” cliché.  This occurs when one person strikes a second person on the jaw and–bingo!–that second person is unconscious.  Out cold. Flat on the floor.  And out for several minutes, too.  Out for long enough for the first person to do whatever the script calls for him to do–ransack the house, carry the unconscious person to the car and drive out to the bridge and dump him over, make off with the jewels, etc., etc.  I’ve seen good guys do it (police, private detectives, etc.,) and bad guys (robbers, carjackers, bouncers at clubs, etc.)  It’s all so simple; just one strike to the jaw and someone is unconscious.  But the real trouble is, it isn’t medically possible.  It usually can’t happen.

One strike to the head by another person isn’t usually enough to render a person unconscious.  It takes a lot more to cause a person to lose consciousness.  One blow to the jaw is much more likely to break a person’s jaw than knock him out.  Even a severe blow to the head–and here I’m talking about the cranium itself–isn’t going to cause a person to lose consciousness.  In most cases it takes several severe blows to do that.  And that would result in massive brain trauma which would most likely cause a concussion if not permanent brain damage.  But characters in movies and TV shows do it all the time.  I assume the scriptwriters write it that way because it simplifies things and allows a character such as a security guard to be neutralized in one quick action.  But it is such a far stretch from reality, even in movies that are otherwise realistic.  Personally, I wish they do something else.

I’ve seen TV shows where the blow to the jaw is so weak as to be almost laughable, yet the recipient of the blow goes down for several minutes.  Really, folks, it’s not going to happen.  A blow to the jaw just isn’t that effective.  But it’s become probably the single most egregiously annoying cliché in movie and TV history because it’s repeated so often.  If you are writing a screenplay with any violence in it at all, do your research.  Find out how to take out a person in a much more realistic way.  A single blow to the jaw is almost science fiction in its distance from reality.  What reality are we living in where a person can be rendered unconscious with such a miniscule blow?

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Juxtapositions, Part Two

On December 30, 2012, I wrote a posting on this blog about a merging of two words to form a weird or unusual combination, a mixture that isn’t present in either word alone.  I called them juxtapositions, partly because I couldn’t think of a better term, but partly to emphasize the fact that the two words sound unusual together.  In some cases, I’ve noticed that the two words have merged to form what we now accept as one word, but the bizarre relationship between them continues.  Over the past year I’ve collected a few more juxtapositions, and here they are:

Mechanical engineer – this sounds ominous.  If these are engineers made of metal and mechanical parts and they start manufacturing more of themselves, look out!  They could take over the world!  And you thought computers were bad.

Nightmare – What is this?  A female horse in the dark?

Ruthless – Someone (like Kim Jung Un) who is brutal, cold, and vicious is described as being “without ruth”?  I don’t understand.

Flea collar – Did you ever try to put a collar on a flea?  Mighty small collar.

Fruit punch – Now tell me, how is a fruit going to be able to punch you?

Home run – Most homes I know of are solidly rooted to the ground.

Shampoo – If I put something on my hair, I don’t want a sham poo, I want a true poo.

Weeping willow – All the willow trees I’ve ever encountered have been pretty quiet.

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The Vicarious Reader or Viewer

If you could be a character in a novel or TV show or movie, what book or show would you pick?

In this case, I’m suggesting that you insert yourself into the story line of a show or book as yourself, not as a character who already exists in the story.  If you could enter a story as yourself, what story would you enter?  To limit this to a reasonable number of possibilities, your selection has to be to enter a fictitious story, not a real event.  (After all, we can’t have people changing the past.)  You have to be yourself in most respects, though you can alter your occupation to fit the story line.  Would you like to be a detective on a crime show, say, “Law and Order,” and hang out with all the others in the squad room and go on criminal investigations all over New York?  Would you like to be on “General Hospital?”  You could make yourself a doctor or nurse and treat disease and operate and cure people and still have time to be around some of your favorite medical characters.  Or your favorite soap opera characters.  Would you like to be one of the orphans taught to pick pockets in “Oliver Twist?”  How about  as a tenant in the same building as Sheldon and Penny and Leonard?  (You’d have to trudge up and down the stairs.  They haven’t fixed the elevator yet.)

Would you like to pilot an X-wing fighter and meet Luke and Leia and Han Solo and all the others, and potentially have your arm wrenched from its socket by a Wookie?  Think of the number of Stormtroopers you could blast.  Perhaps you could trudge along with  Dr. Watson and watch Sherlock Holmes at work.  Or enter an Agatha Christie story and watch Hercule Piriot at work.  Hang out with Walter White as his new next-door neighbor in Albuquerque?  The possibilities are endless.

I think if I could, I’d like to be on the bridge of the Enterprise with Capt. Picard and Cmdr. Riker and the others.  But I wouldn’t want to be a bridge officer. I’d like to be a visitor.  I’d like to be a 21st century person put into suspended animation and revived by Dr. Crusher in the Sick Bay (they need to get a better term for the ship’s medical facilities) in the 25th century.  Capt. Picard was a student of history so I suspect he’d like to have someone around whom he could talk to about Earth’s history.  I’d love to sit in his ready room just off the bridge and shoot the breeze with him.  Could be very enlightening.

Another possibility for me would be as a doctor on M*A*S*H.  Korea in the early 1950’s wasn’t a great place to be, especially with a war on, but the people would be interesting.  The panic, yes, the boredom, the terrible food in the mess tent, but the chance to see something that few have ever seen and experience something that few have ever experienced would make it a fascinating ordeal.  It would all add up to an interesting time.  To say the least.

In any event, use your imagination.  Where would you go?  What would you become?  Be yourself, but be imaginative.

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Drowning In Plastic

Perhaps you’ve heard, out in the Pacific Ocean somewhere between the US and Japan is a large accumulation of plastic items from all over the world.  From Asia as well as North America.  Plastic doesn’t disintegrate or decay very fast, and that gives it time to accumulate in one place.  A scientist would say its decay half-life, that is, the length of time for half of it to go away, is measured in years, if not centuries.  This gives it time to accumulate to huge levels.

I’ve always tried to recycle as much plastic as possible, but some plastic items defy recycling.  I’m talking about things like plastic bags and plastic wrapping.  Glad Bags and Saran Wrap.  I’ve noticed I throw away a large number of those types of plastic every year.  Plastic sandwich bags and plastic food wrap are the most common, not to mention plastic garbage bags.  (Don’t get me started on plastic garbage bags.)  I can recycle plastic bottles, such as milk bottles, and plastic containers and jars, such as an old mayonnaise jar.  Occasionally I throw away a used Styrofoam carry-out container, too.  But plastic recyclers don’t commonly take plastic bags, so I have to throw them away.  I pride myself on not throwing away other important items such as food, but I casually toss plastic stuff in the trash almost every day.  Considering how slowly plastic things break down, this is a significant amount of waste that will be around for a while.

Plastic recyclers don’t take plastic bags and wrap because they’ve got, potentially, anyway, food residue on them.  Anything going in the recycler should at least be rinsed and relatively clean if not washed thoroughly.  I suppose I could clean plastic bags and food wrap and reuse them myself, but that’s a nuisance; I’d have bags and wrap all over the place.  They would have to be washed and allowed to dry.  Still, something has to be done.  We shouldn’t allow plastic to accumulate in our kitchens or in the ocean, so it may be up to each of us to do a little bit to slow down the oncoming plastic tidal wave.  (I use the term “tidal wave” because I can’t spell tsunami.)

In any event, the solution to the problem lies with each of us.  I’m going to try to throw away less plastic than before, though I don’t know how far I’ll get with it.  Call it a new year’s resolution one month early.

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