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When this movie ended, everyone in the audience just sat there for a few minutes, trying to pull ourselves back together. As we filed out, still blubbering, the theatre manager said she’d seen it three or four times and fell apart at each viewing. 

“Under the Same Moon” is the story of Carlito, a Mexican boy who will do anything to be reunited with his mother, who is working in the U.S. It’s a classic hero’s-journey tale, but it also puts a beautifully-drawn human face on the immigration issue. My friend Carol and I are both working on novels that touch on the issue of immigration in some way, so we had the perfect excuse to play hooky.

From the perspective of writing craft, it’s my favorite kind of story. It features classic archetypes–the plucky, unstoppable kid you can’t help but root for, the cranky guy with a heart of gold, various mentors, allies and enemies along the way. In the best possible way, this movie doesn’t care what you think of the immigration issue. It just presents this one situation, knowing you’ll draw your own conclusions. I bet there are reviewers out there who despise this movie, the way there are critics who despise commercial fiction. Some people are so uncomfortable with genuine sentiment that they can’t possibly be fair about a film like this.

There is a class of movies I tend to file under “Films every American Should See.” There aren’t very many of them. Off the top of my head, I can think of a few–“Hoop Dreams,” “Glory,” “Apollo 13,” “The Color Purple,” and “October Sky” come to mind. “Under the Same Moon” belongs on that list. Go see this movie. It’ll stick with you for a long time, guaranteed.

Wishing everyone a joyous Cinco de Mayo!


talking headPop? Soda? Coke? Soft drink?

Wash or warsh? Creek or crick? Carmel or cara-mel?

Here’s a quiz about regional differences in speech and language. See if the quiz can predict where you’re from. Take the quiz here.

When I took it, the quiz correctly guessed at my peripatetic past. Born in upstate New York, moved overseas at a young age, college in the midwest and Texas, grad school in the northeast, married a die-hard Texan, moved to the Pacific Northwest… No wonder I’m so confused. Click “Comments” to post your results. Be sure to mention where you’re from.

photo by nicnac1000 posted on flickrHow much do we love that phrase? I hadn’t heard it before, but it perfectly describes the nails-on-blackboard annoyance of randomly misplaced apostrophes. Or apostrophe’s, as our eponymous grocer would say. [Any grocers out there? Is this phrase disrespectful of grocers?] I figured I wasn’t alone in my crusade against apostrophe abuse. There’s even a flickr photo group documenting some of the worst offenders around the globe.

Another gem from the blotter…Just another day on the island.

Police Blotter 2

Submitted without comment…..

A lot of you knew what yesterday’s list of phrases had in common–though not necessarily coined by Shakespeare, all of those phrases can be found in the Bard’s work. Take a bow. This is from one of my ultimate favorite sites on the Web–The Phrase Finder: Shakespeare in Love

“Shakespeare contributed more phrases to the English language than the Bible or any other work–and many more than any other individual.”

 Pop Quiz: What do these phrases have in common? Post your speculation here and I’ll post the answer tomorrow. bee & flower

  • A dish fit for the gods
  • A foregone conclusion
  • A sorry sight
  • As dead as a doornail
  • As good luck would have it
  • At one fell swoop
  • Exceedingly well read
  • Fair play
  • Fancy free
  • Foul play
  • Good riddance
  • Heart’s content
  • High time
  • In a pickle
  • Like the Dickens
  • My bad
  • Primrose path
  • Rhyme nor reason
  • Send him packing
  • Set your teeth on edge
  • Stiffen the sinews
  • Too much of a good thing
  • Vanish into thin air
  • Wear your heart on your sleeve
  • Wild goose chase
  • Woe is me

Apostrophe abuse is one of the most common and insidious assaults on the written word. I’m sorry to say that one of my favorite computer programs, Dragon Naturally Speaking, gets it wrong with proper names nearly every time. Although I write my first draft in longhand, I eventually type it up by reading it aloud into the computer, using the Dragon voice-recognition software. And when I say something like, “Let’s invite the Bellamys over for sushi and a seance!” the software will get “let’s” correct, but it’ll write Bellamy’s instead of the simple plural, Bellamys. Ignert, I say! Ignert!

There are many ways to abuse apostrophes, but probably the one I despise the most is when the little booger shows up in a plural word. Don’t use an apostrophe in a non-possessive plural. Ever. Please, I’m begging you.

It’s a small comfort to know I’m not alone. I’ve actually found three web sites devoted to publicizing the matter.

Let’s lay apostrophe abuse to rest:epitaph Sigh.

You never know when you’re going to need this–How to say “Cheers” in any number of languages. It’s a long story–like, 110,000 words long at this point–but I needed to have a character say “Cheers” in a South African dialect: “Amandla!”

I can’t vouch for its accuracy but the French and German are trustworthy.

According to this chart, you toast somebody in Asturia by saying, “Gayola.” I can think of some places that would get you a punch in the nose for that. And others that might get you a date…



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July 2020