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Week 412: Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda; The Week That Remains; Unexpected Genius From Unlikely Sources

The Grammar Check is in the Mail

There is a vast, unplumbed hole in my learning when it comes to vocabulary. For instance, I went many years believing “unplumbed” meant clogged, like a tavern toilet, not unfathomed, nor lacking indoor plumbing (though I was in the same outhouse with the second definition).

I also went a very very long time thinking that “desultory” was a synonym for dismal; and until recently I believed that “penultimate” placed extra emphasis on ultimate; “atypical” did the same for typical–and, worst of all–I had “hirsute” as a fancy word used to elevate a person’s status instead of an adjective that describes someone who likely grows hair on the bottom of his/her feet.

There are also the spoken bugaboos, heard over a lifetime, that get into one’s writing, even when one should know better. Simple mispronunciations like “New-KOO-ler EX-presso” are common yet rarely get into print unless as phonetic dialogue. The demons that do creep in are much more devious because they are correctly spelled though wildly inaccurate. Nobody I know says “would’ve” “should’ve” or “could’ve”–much less use the full terms. What I hear are “would of” “should of” and “could of.” I freely admit that this sin got into my early stuff and often, and I still must keep a vigil. Another is the cliche “Intensive purposes”–which, I think, got into the works because too many people realized that “intents and purposes” is, at best, part of a slogan, and rushed through it, causing the error to take hold in the ear and eventually land in print.

Unlike struggling with who v. whom; that v. which; and lie, laid, lay, lain, there are few scholarly resources for dealing with the “-ould-ofs” and “intensive purposes” of the language other than remembering how stupid you felt when you learned the awful truth.

“For all intensive purposes the penultimate desultory mood that found me upon the rejection of my story would of been my ruin if not for my hirsute mentor.”

I guess we all have our little wars to fight with the blank page. And so the battle goes…

The Week That Remains

This week features the returns of writers who’ve combined for over 400 stories on the site. We have going sideways over grief, a pathologically honest lady, something wonderful that has an advisory tagged to it that you can see from Mars, an immensely clever little thing that doubles back on itself and another number from the great songbook of self destruction.

Long time site friend, David Henson, opened the week with A Give and Take of Crows. I can’t touch this one too much without giving it away, other than to commend the author for establishing a solid sense of normalcy (albeit quirky, given the breakfast menu) and believably shifting the tone to a richly satisfying conclusion.

Frederick K. Foote has over 80 acceptances and none sassier than Tuesday’s Varda May Atkins, a truly commendable character who serves as both a Conscience and a motivator for a MC in a situation in which he could easily be swayed away from a greater purpose.

Our own beloved Hugh Cron (who is nearing 300 weekend wraps along with over a hundred stories, and thousands of comments), slapped Wednesday around, and Wednesday liked it, with Franky and Jesus. If either of the Martian Rovers still had battery power they might be able to see the advisory. It is unfortunate that honest material, steeped in wicked and very funny observations might offend some people. And it is ironic that offending material is often something that pokes holes in a lie that the offended person supports. There’s a great intelligence in Hugh’s work that speaks of greater concepts. If there really is a Jesus, I think he’d laugh and appreciate the story.

Another good friend, Michael Bloor, hit penultimate Thursday with a clever and tightly written piece called The Smoothing Stream. Like it goes with David, I can’t be too specific with this without smudging the reveal–but it is a fine little machine, built like a watch.

I closed the week with Kick. I won’t say much except that I continue to dearly miss the person “Tess” is based on–the only true genius I’ve ever known. A definite disciple of William S. Burroughs.

Unexpected Sources

Although the four “W’s” (Walhberg, Willis, Winfrey and Woods) and Travolta tend to get on my nerves (I like the others), credit is due where credit is due. The following performances surprised me when I saw them because I didn’t know the actors (Rodney and Wahlberg especially) had it in them.

John Ritter Sling Blade

Rodney Dangerfield Natural Born Killers

Sly Stallone Cop Land

Bruce Willis Pulp Fiction

Abe Vigoda The Godfather

Mark Wahlberg Boogie Nights

Oprah Winfrey The Color Purple

John Travolta Pulp Fiction

James Woods Once Upon a Time in America

Your Turn


12 thoughts on “Week 412: Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda; The Week That Remains; Unexpected Genius From Unlikely Sources”

  1. Great stuff as always, Leila. The most outstanding incident of mispronunciation in our family, among many, let’s be honest, was my dearly missed dad who always pronounced epitome as epitom It was one of those situations where it went on so long that none of us could correct him and we just crossed our fingers that we didn’t need to use the word in conversation with him because ‘how could you’. I have to say ‘would of’ et al really does make me grind my teeth and ‘intensive purposes’ makes me want to leave. Heigh ho – I used to read ‘No through road’ as ‘No thorough road’ and wonder why they hadn’t tried harder.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Diane
      I can relate to how it was with your Dad. My mother was a “noo-koo-ler” sayer and we avoided the subject–she wasn’t big on being corrected. It’s amazing how many usage errors one can pass over while reading.
      Thank you again!


  2. Actors – Don Rickles “Innocent Blood” about a vampire that loves and bites.
    Don’t think I made those errors except the lay, lie. My mnemonic (had to look up spelling) is now I lay me down to sleep is only correct because it is a reflexive use. I plumbed farther and further which had confused me. Penultimate is a favored word because I checked its meaning when it confused me. Making matters worse, at one time the prefix “pen” meant king or something at one time.
    Three things that irritate the get off my lawn you dang hippie in my curmudgeonly self –
    Changing past tense of cast to casted, which carries over to forecast. Why?
    Execution by being hung (other use OK, but hasn’t been applied to me). It is hanged.
    Male hair color called blonde not blond.
    Abbreviating microphone as mic. That is pronounced mick, not mike. I’m sticking with mike.
    Was it Cole Porter who wrote “Anything goes”?
    Without seeing it spelled, euthanasia obviously means a Japanese youth.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Doug

      I always see “hung” and recall my High School English teacher saying pictures are hung people are hanged. Could not agree more about cast.

      Clear at sunrise though cold this morning. Hope it is nice in Oregon.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Leila,
    Cracking post as always.
    Thanks so much for the too kind words regarding my homage to religion!
    It’s interesting what you say about would’ve, could’ve and should’ve – I am the opposite, I only know folks who say those exact words that way! I do say should’ve a lot. I think it has to do with regret, I should’ve but didn’t!!
    Re-Surprising good acting:
    Tom Cruise – ‘A Few Good Men’ (He nearly destroyed ‘Interview With The Vampire!)
    Di Crapio – ‘Django Unchained’ and ‘Once Upon A Time In New York’
    I was surprised with your inclusion of James Woods. His acting in ‘Holocaust’ in 1978 was brilliant. ‘Cop’ was 1988 and that was another fine performance followed by the best ending ever in ‘Midnight Sting’ 1992. ‘Fighting Justice’ is worth a look but it is one of those courtroom drama thingies.
    Oh – That has just made me remember another one – Richard Gere in ‘Primal Fear’ although Edward Norton stole the show!!


    1. Thank you, Hugh

      Woods was also fine in The Onion Field yet he irks me for some unknown reason. Norton also was pretty good in The History of Violence, but not a big fan of the dude. I don’t think I ever saw Holocaust–I recall it being on but I had to work then and never got to it. Did watch all nne hours of Shoah–stark and riveting.
      You’re right about Leo in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood–he was very good in it. Maybe he’s all grown up now.
      Thanks again,


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