Word of the Day: innubilious

As my faithful readers know, there is a fine Word of the Day tradition of honoring each of the Oscar nominees with a special story, leading up to the big day. That was before the Academy, in its infinite wisdom, moved the date of the telecast up, and also they started nominating up to 10 films. So, it’s been hard to keep up.

Tonight, I am trying to get a bunch of other stuff done, so, I am dipping into the re-run well, and in honor of that tradition, I’ve chosen one of the Oscar stories from 2004.

That year, I decided to unify all the stories by putting them to sea, because the  Academy was on a string of  consistently nominating a Russell Crowe vehicle, no matter what that might be. In 2004, the vehicle was a ship. So, to  take that further, I presented the nominated films as if they’d all have taken place on the deep blue sea. Yes, my brain is a strange and scary place.

This was the story for the movie “Lost in Translation.” If you’ve not seen it, it’s about an American actor, played by Bill Murray, who goes to Japan to do some commercials, and in the middle of the culture shock of being a foreigner in a strange land where he doesn’t speak the language, he finds another American, and they share their confusion together.

Today’s Word:


As in:

Bob Harris sat on a deck chair on the Pacific Princess, waiting for the director to call “action.” He never expected he’d be called to make a series of commercials for a cruise line. The director had a brilliant idea that filming the commercials during an actual real cruise, so there was a constant audience. Worse, the director kept wanting him to make his performance more energetic, more “Kathy Lee.” Except, when he said it, it sounded like “Kathy Ree.”

And all the people on the ship were insane. Nice enough, but completely loony. The Captain is convinced that the ship is a warship in the middle of the second World War, and that the people aboard are trained naval personnel. It wouldn’t be so bad, except everyone was expected to show up for morning review, and participate in firing drills. Firing Drills. On a ship with no guns. There’s the chronically perky Julie, who runs around the ship forcing people to join other shipmates in organized activities, never taking “no” for an answer. The ship’s doctor not only had an aggressively bad case of hypochondria, but was convinced everyone on the ship was carrying Ebola, Anthrax, or SARs.

Fortunately, Bob met Charlotte. Being the only sane people on the ship, they were relieved to have found each other. When Bob had no commitments, the two of them would wander the ship, hiding from Julie, enjoying the innubilious weather, and connecting with each other over mutual sanity.

While I will admit that this movie depends absolutely on the subtle nuances in the performances of Johannson and Murray, I was highly disappointed that this picture won best original screenplay. But, I don’t get to vote.

Sad, really, that the intro is longer than the story.

innubilious: / INN – oo – BILL – us / cloudless

Word of the Day: importune

The final story, at long last. I am more grateful than usual for Friday’s appearance. A small shout out to my little sister for brainstorming help with these last few stories.

The final nominee for Best Picture is An Education. It has Olivia Williams in it. (She was Adelle on Dollhouse.) Clearly, this year, for me, it’s all about the Whedon alums. Except for the part where I failed to mention yesterday that Simon Helberg (Moist) played a rabbi in A Serious Man. So, I did that just now.

Did I mention I’m glad it’s Friday?

Today’s Word:


As in:

The nursing home was clean, well-staffed, and pleasant enough. If it was a bit out-dated, that was not such a huge thing, after all, the most important thing was that it was cheap. Well, cheaper. He couldn’t take his mother to the *cheapest* place, that would be unseemly.

Once David Goldman got his mother settled, he’d come ’round once or twice a week, say “hello,” bring her some sweets. It’ll be much better for her. He’d sell her flat, just one more profitable business venture. She would importune him to keep it, but, it was worth much more than what he’d offered her, and he was a businessman after all.

He knew he shouldn’t take such advantage of his own mother, and a twinge of guilt tugged at his conscience. He ignored it, and moved onto other thoughts.

After a few days, he had been called to the nursing home because of some disturbance. His mother and her roommate had been involved in some sort of altercation.

As he came close to his mother’s room, the other woman came into focus, and he knew.

Marvina Coopersmith had lived a flat not far from here, and he had “encouraged” her to sell her flat, at a substantially reduced price, when a black family had moved into her building. That he had encouraged the Faucets to move there was just part of the bargain. “Blockbusting” worked just as well in England as it did in the U.S.

Of course, while he “worked” with the elderly widow to purchase her flat, he’d also visited a number of times, and “acquired” a few items from Marvina’s jewelry collection, which might’ve found their way into his mother’s hands.

He ducked out of sight of the door, in case she recognized him. He’d never thought he’d see her again, and in the worst way imaginable. What if they put the connection together? How was he going to explain this mess?

Quickly, he exited the building. When he reached his office, he made arrangements, over the phone, to have his mother moved to another, slightly more expensive, nursing home. He contacted the home, made up a story about having acquired the jewelry from an unidentifiable man in a pub years ago, and he hoped that that would be the end of it.  The spot of guilt was much harder to ignore that afternoon, and it lingered with him for many days, and decided never again to give his mother stolen jewelry.


Yay for Friday! Farewell to the guilty Oscars!  Type to you all on Monday.

importune / IM – per – TUNE / to urge or beg with annoying persistence

Word of the Day: tittle

I feel like guilt has really eaten my lunch this week. I can see light, but, I hear a train whistle, and I feel like that light is mocking me.

Today we’re going to go to the latest offering from the Coen brothers, A Serious Man. It’s a more loosely based adaptation on the book of Job than O Brother, Where Art Thou  is a version of The Odyssey, and that’s saying quite a lot.

The one thing this has going for the theme is *actual* guilt, which is different than the happenings in the book of Job, where the title character is innocent. So, it’s time for Hashem to give this “Job” the what-for.

Today’s Word:


As in:

And the Lord said unto Larry, “Why hast thou accepted unto yourself the money of convenience? That money of false witness?

And Larry looked unto the Lord, and said: “Why did I take the bribe? Is that what this is all about?”

The Lord said unto Larry, “Thou believeth in mine wrath, then question not mine ways. Thou hast done wrong, and thou hast annoyed the Lord by raising children of poor quality and allowing those of your house to join the Columbia Record Club.”

Larry said unto the Lord, “the Columbia Record Club? You’re mad about the Columbia Record Club?”

And unto Larry the Lord spoke, “Yes.”

Larry shook his head, and said unto the Lord, “Really?”

And the Lord sighed, and spoke unto Larry, “The offerings were not pleasing unto Mine ears, and thou hast received the monthly selection and not made payment unto them. Thus saith the Lord, Thou shalt not Steal. Furthermore, thou shalt make joyful noises unto the Lord, not noises of painful ear-searing unpleasantness.”

And Larry muttered to himself. “Great. The Lord is a music critic.”

And the anger of the Lord was made complete.

“Speak not with a tittle of disparagement on thy lips! The Columbia Record Club is an abomination, oppressing the weak of focus. Furthermore, thou shalt not revile The Lord, nor curse His ways! I shall smite you where you stand!”

And he did, leaving Larry a smoking stump of a former human. Some said that this death was more merciful than the one promised by the advanced pancreatic cancer Larry’s doctor had discovered in his physical.

The sound in my head of the words “And the Lord spoke unto Larry” was worth the whole rest of the story.

tittle / TIT – ll / 1. a small distinguishing mark, such as the dot on a lowercase i or j. 2. A very small part or quantity. It appears in translations of some verses of some New Testament verses, so, it seemed appropriate.

Word of the Day: somnambulist

As you might’ve guessed, I’m really looking forward to having the Oscar stories off my plate. We’re down to the last three, and as I was crawling into bed last night, I hit on the idea for today’s story, which makes things much easier.

The front runner for the Best Picture prize is currently “The Hurt Locker.” I know, I’m  surprised too.

The most important thing to know about “The Hurt Locker” is that it’s directed by Kathryn Bigelow, who used to be married to Avatar director James Cameron. She’s only the fourth woman to be nominiated for a Best Director award, and if she wins, it will be a first for ladies.

The second most important thing to know is that Jeremy Renner played the role of Penn in a guest spot on Angel.  He was also Det. Walsh on The Unusuals, but, I think only 10 people watched that show, including myself, so, it means nothing to you, and I’ll stop.

Today’s Word:


As in:

The rush of battle is often a potent and lethal addiction, for war is a drug.
–Chris Hedges

Adrenaline junkie, and EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) team leader, Sargent William James  was starting to realize he might have a problem, and it amused him.

If it was possible to be addicted to war, did that mean that the Army was his dealer? Did that make the U.S. government his supplier? If so, weren’t they responsible for his addiction? Could he sue?

He smiled at the thought.

It entertained him to think about what it would look like to take the U.S. Army to court over this illicit trade. Could war be considered a “controlled substance?” Only countries could declare war, after all, and most of the equipment and arms he used were not traded on the open, legal markets. Maybe he could get Johnie Cochran to take the case.

He could hear the radio announcer on TV say “The war on terror took a surprising new direction today as it became part of the war on drugs as a soldier sues the army for peddling illegal substances.”

He wondered if he could make an argument that the US was guilty of peddling drugs to minors, given the number of soldiers under the age of 21 that have been employed in the military for centuries. War was at least as dangerous as alcohol, and the Federal Government insisted that people be 21 to use that substance.

Maybe a lawsuit would keep him interested in his time away from Delta Company.  When he was stateside, he felt like such a somnambulist, just going from routine task to routine task, like swimming in molasses.

It was fun to think about, even if he thought it was a ridiculous notion. Good thing there didn’t seem to be any chance that the supply of IEDs was going to diminish anytime soon.

And, with that, he grabbed his gear and headed out for the night’s adventures.

The opening quotation appears on a title card as “The Hurt Locker” begins. And, the movie reminded me a of my friend and loyal reader, the good Judge, who spent some time doing some ordinance disposal in the Air Force. This one is for you.

somnambulist / sahm – NAM – byoo – list / a sleepwaker. Also, not coincidentally, the name of Jeremy Renner’s Angel episode.

Word of the Day: embonpoint

I’m not going to lie to you, Marge, these Oscar stories have been really hard. I’m not sure I’m going to keep the tradition up next year, if this is how it goes. maybe, I’ll just have gained enough wisdom so as not to pick something as unfunny as “guilt” to tie the stories together.

The movie is “Precious,” which has enough horrible guilty content that I couldn’t bear to add to that burden. Instead, I’m passing the guilt on to the director.

Today’s Word:


As in:

Director Lee Daniels waited on the curb outside the theater where “Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire” as being screened as part of the Cannes Film Festival. He was worried. How would this movie appear to the outside world? Did he dare go in? Should he hide to avoid the crowd which would be exiting at any moment?

As he sat, cradling his head in his hands, doubt invaded his brain bringing with it reinforcements. He *knew* he had pushed the content too far. His anxiety-ridden brain was certain that the movie was going to be seen as nothing more than another negative portrayal of African-Americans, and that he’d turn race relations back to pre-Obama levels.

As his anxiety got the better of his sanity, he got up to flee the scene before the audience could murder him on the red carpet. He was too late. The crowd was emerging from the theater.

Maybe they wouldn’t recognize him.

No such luck.

“Monsieur Daniels, I loved your movie very much. Where did you find such fine actresses? I have not seen such, shall we say, embonpoints. I am much moved.” said a young woman.

A man called across the crowd “Bah! This movie is nothing but torture-porn! You are a blaxploiter! Can you not be more like Tyler Perry?”

And yet other voices shouted their opinions:

“It was painful! Brutal and honest, but, beautiful! An accomplishment!”

“I for one think you and your Oprah Winfrey group therapy partners should take your incest addictions elsewhere! You are a monster!”

“You make the baby Jesus cry! How dare you!”

“I liked it much better than Cats! I’m going to see it again and again and again.”

I worked on this in my spare moments all day.  It was a tough one to get completed.

embonpoint / ah – bah – pohn / plumpness of a person. Given its French root, make sure each syllable is good and nasal, and pretend the consonants are only suggestions…

Word of the Day: obeisance

It’s the first of March, which is St. David’s Day. St. David is the patron of Wales. Wear your leeks proudly!

As you might’ve guessed, St. David is a bit of a distraction while I try to come up with something to write about for one of the five remaining Best Picture nominees. I think the Academy ought to be feeling a tad guilty themselves. I don’t know that their choices are any more relevant or deserving of praise than in previous years, that has always been part of the whole Oscar game, but with 10 of them, it certainly feels harder to justify all the selections.

But then, what do I know?

I spent a good part of this weekend converting the Word of the Day site to WordPress. All of the content has been migrated, with the exception of the comments, which I don’t think can be moved. I have some tweaking to do still, but, on the whole I think it’s in good shape. Please note, if you are using RSS you may need to adjust your feed.

Ok. I’ve dallied more than long enough. I’m going to be dipping into The Blind Side now.

Today’s Word:


As in:

Ever since Michael Oher became a professional football player, a spotlight has been pointed in the direction of his adoptive parents, Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy. The spotlight has drawn  a great deal of attention to the family, and left them with a problem they had never anticipated.

Hidden amidst the accusations of ulterior motives on the part of the Tuohys and suggestions that the message of the book and movie is ultimately racist, is a much more profound statement, one which people have started to act upon.

This “message” has been a very difficult one for the Tuohy family, and they are afraid that there is no escaping the repercussions of this strange interpretation of the film’s meaning.

Desperate families from all over the country, convinced that the Tuohys have been given the gift of bestowing professional caliber football talent upon people, have started to bring their children to the Tuohy’s Tennessee home in the dead of night, leaving the youngsters in the Tuohy’s driveway, with nothing more than their football equipment. Some of the children have been as young as 9 months old.

The family matriarch, now referred to in reverent tones by the football faithful as St. Leigh Anne, has started to have football miracles attributed to her activities.

One family, whose child was on the high school team with Oher, claims their child went from an average of one reception a season to 6 each game ever since being touched by Leigh Anne at a booster club event. Football pilgrims from as far away as Montana have been inspired to new heights of achievement after simply watching Leigh Anne shop for decorating supplies. Another family drives 50 miles out of their way to drive past the Tuohy house before morning practice, in a unique type of obeisance.

The family tried to appeal to those searching for football blessings, telling them that they hold no particular gift or special powers, and asking that they keep their children and stop abandoning them on their driveway. Their appeals have had no effect, if anything, the activity and claims have increased.

All are hopeful that the hoopla surrounding the book and the movie will subside soon, and they can go back to being a normal family with a son in the NFL.

Mondays are painful, aren’t they? Type to you tomorrow.

obeisance / oh – BEE – sense / 1. a movement made in token of respect or submission: bow 2. acknowledgment of another’s superiority or importance: homage

Word of the Day: fastuous

It is Friday, and I am grateful. I’ve been debating which story to finish and send today, and I finally settled on doing the story for “Up.” I think “Up” is my favorite movie of all the nominations this year. Those Pixar folks sure know how to tell great stories.

Today’s Word:


As in:

Adventurer Charles Muntz learned a great deal as he was falling through to the ground.  First, he learned that he *really* didn’t like falling. Second, he learned what his faithful dogs had experienced when they had plummeted to the ground, and it wasn’t the least bit pleasant. Third, he learned that he really didn’t care much for Kevin anymore, and she could just disappear off the map. Fourth,  his obsession with capturing Kevin hardly mattered any more. His fastuous temperament evaporating in the winds of free fall, Muntz became a much more humble and grateful person.

Usually, a “death fall” epiphany and repentance would be a short lived achievement, and the story would end here. However, as a person who lived in an airship, Muntz already knew that gravity is a harsh mistress, so he always wore a parachute, which he opened at the appropriate time. It also meant that the lessons he learned as he was falling would actually be of some use.

As he arrived safely on the ground, he resolved that forever forward he would wear the cone of shame as a visual representation of his guilty conscience. He decided he would devote his remaining years to helping all canines, to repay the heroic loyalty of the dogs that had served him.

He refined his doggy speech translator collars, and found a way to bring them to the mass market for a very reasonable price. He founded a free vet clinic for all dogs and dog owners to get competent medical care at no cost. He also has founded a canine college to teach dogs to read. So far, the dogs have been unable to read a complete sentence, due to the unfortunate number of windows in the building, which faced a squirrel infested grove. Contractors would be replacing the windows next spring.

Muntz’s current projects include inventing a way for dogs to use hand tools, including writing implements, and a design for a flushing dog toilet. These projects are not going well. Despite this, Muntz was happier than he had ever been. He was surrounded by canine companions and his passion, tempered into moderation, was achieving real results that they were positive and satisfying to all parties.

True to his word, Charles Muntz never removed his collar of shame, even though he admitted it was a problem at night when he tried to sleep. And, sleep is where death finally claimed him, at the age of 102.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

fastuous / FAST – you – us / haughty, arrogant; ostentatious, showy.

Word of the Day: sacrosanct

I’ve been trying to postpone working with James Cameron’s opus to white guilt until next week for a few reasons, the biggest of which is this; I know it’s likely the movie most of you have actually seen which means I need to have a good idea for it.

But an idea came to me via an article I read, and I had no better ideas for any of the other nominated movies, so, here it is, a look at the power of guilt in the movie Avatar.

Today’s Word:


As in:

Movie-goers have been flocking to see the movie Avatar for many months now, breaking box office records and being one of the most talked about movie experiences in decades.

Many of these same people, when exiting the movie, indicate that after seeing the film, they are feeling depressed and even suicidal as they leave the theater.

Viewers have so identified with the Na’vi, who live on Pandora in harmony with the natural world around them, that they want to start their own Na’vi tribe, and try to find a more meaningful existence.

One group of people is doing just that.

“I know I am really a Na’vi. I feel spiritually connected to them, and I know Eywa (the mother goddess of the Na’vi)  will welcome me. I want to live a meaningful life, not one  where all I do is destroy the planet in the name of wealth,” commented Peggy Joslin, one of the founders of the Na’vi in Exile. “We have an obligation to Eywa to nurture our world and bring it back into balance. This is a tall order for our world, but, I must try. Our planet is sacrosanct, and we cannot defile it any further.”

Some members of the group have been attempting to turn their skin blue through the intake of high doses of colloidal silver. Some of the more scientific among the group are trying to find a way to create the “genetic fiber optics” that the Na’vi have in their hair stalks. “I’m really looking forward to have an “always on” connection to the world.” says Matt Trathien, one of the Na’vi in Exile.

Critics of the group have wondered how people from our technological world will cope with the “natural world” as it really is. “I bet most of them will be back at their homes with their running water and flushing toilets within a week. It’s not easy to go from our world, with its stores filled with pre-killed meat, and ready to eat produce. These people are as unprepared for a ‘native’ lifestyle as a baby is ready to drive.”

Happy Friday Eve everyone. Have a good day.

sacrosanct / SAK – row – sangkt / most sacred or holy.

Word of the Day: irenic

One thing I have learned from this set of stories: Guilt is just not funny. You all are probably right to think me insane, or at the very least, idiotic, for picking this theme. I’m thinking I’m probably both. But, as I’ve gotten myself into this mess, I’m going to continue attempting to make guilt funny.

So, on that hopeless note, I bring you Inglorious Basterds, now with more guilt!

Today’s Word:


As in:

The year is 1941. SS Colonel Hans Landa has just paid a visit to dairy farmer, Perrier LaPadite, and, in his charming and insidious way, forced him to reveal that he is hiding the Dreyfus family, his former neighbors, who are Jewish.  Landa assassinates the family, hiding under the floor boards. All except their teenage daughter, Shosanna, who escapes the house, and Landa allows to flee.

After completing their act of murder, the Nazis leave the LaPadites with a floor filled with bullet holes, a bunch of bodies, and the lingering guilt over trading their lives for the neighbors.

The farmer stacks the bodies of the Dreyfus’ together in the cellar, to bury the next day. He weeps for failing them, and hopes Shosanna is able to survive. He tidies up his home as best he can, and retires for the night.

In the morning, before the family has gotten up to milk the cows, they hear sounds from the cellar. Fearing the Nazis have returned, Perrier grabs a pitchfork, and goes to investigate.

He finds more than he had imagined.

The Dreyfus family was no longer stacked neatly in their corner of the cellar. They were at the door, pounding to be let out. They rushed past LaPadite as soon as he opened the door, which meant he had time to attempt a conversation with them.

“You’re alive?! How can this be?”

They rudely ignore him, and shamble towards open air. LaPadite calls again. They continue to ignore him and walk at a below-average pace toward the direction Colonel Landa had vacated the premises.

If LaPadite had ever heard of such a thing as a Zombie, that would be what he would’ve called the Dreyfuss family. But, if had known about zombies, he would wonder why they didn’t stop to eat his, or his family’s brains. But, instead, he was just pleased he didn’t have to bury them, and silently wished them well.

The Dreyfuss’ had bigger goals than brains. They wanted Landa. So, with their new-found zombie focus, they pursued him as quickly as their shambling feet would take them.

For three years they pursue him across Europe, never quite reaching their prey. As the summer of 1944 arrives, and the signs become more irenic, the family’s single-mindedness becomes alerted to a significant change. Their inexplicable homing signal, drawing them to Landa, has radically changed direction, and became much weaker.

Being zombies, this simply meant a change in direction, and a trans-Atlantic walk under the ocean toward the U.S., where one day, perhaps they would meet Landa again, and take care of his particular brand of evil.

Zombies are always funny, right? I’m sure you are tired of them, but, today, the Zombies saved me, and I’m grateful. 

irenic / eye – REN – ik / favoring or conducive to peace, or becoming more peaceful.

Word of the Day: videlicet

It’s Tuesday, and that means I’m trying to figure out which Oscar nominated Best Picture to do next, and also caught in the Tuesday-ness of life, which means I’m behind. With nine nominees to pick from, you’d think it’s be an easy choice; a so-called “target rich environment.” Alas, the choice is not easy. So, I think I’ll just go with aliens. Tuesday is good for aliens.

Of course, there are two alien movies nominated in the Best Picture category this year, so, which one should I pick? I decided on District 9.

Today’s Word:


As in:

It has been nearly 3 years since the “perspective reassignment operation” which altered Wikus van de Merwe. He has spent the time enjoying cat food, and struggling for survival in District 10. He is wondering if he will ever be reunited with his wife.

All around him he sees the piles of discarded scrap and garbage, the rows and rows of sheet metal structures pretending to be dwellings, and a group of Nigerian scammers. He thought about his father-in-law, and wondered what lies he might be dreaming up today. He was surprised to have learned, after all those years of working for MNU that its main product was lies.

He’d learned that he’d produced his own set of half-truths and justifications, but, the worst part was that he’d been his own primary customer, purchasing a measure of happy lies to get him through the day.

For a few weeks since that fateful day he couldn’t being himself to do much more than sit in the filth of District 10, wallowing in self pity and the guilt of his infanticide. Later he decided that was pointless, and didn’t help him purchase cat food, so, he made a plan, videlicet, he secretly went into business. 

Using the abundant shrapnel littering his ghetto home, he made delicate flowers out of thin metal. These he sold on the folk art black market, staying under MNU’s radar, and using the proceeds of his venture to provide cat food and supplies for thousands of his fellow refugees.
His designs, which made millions of rand under the banner of “prawn art,” targeted wealthy patrons who themselves were  guilt-ridden enough to purchase the “insider” artwork, but not motivated by their guilt to do anything more meaningful. Their consciences eased and their social status as compassionate, concerned humanitarians established, they could allow themselves to proceed with their own lives in self-satisfied peace.

Even if he did return to his wife someday, he would still need a job, wouldn’t he? And this one seemed to be more than profitable. Did that make him a profiteer? He didn’t know or care. Certainly, if he stayed here, he wouldn’t feel the least bit guilty about using the situation. Other things haunted him, perhaps, but not this.

So, for the time being, he simply did like all life does, he carried on.

I found this difficult to write about without giving too much away about the movie for those who haven’t seen it. Hope I succeeded.

Oh, and gosh, guilt is a total downer. Cat food can lighten things only so much.

videlicet / Vih – DE – liss – IT / That is to say, namely.