A Fugacious And Even Nidifugous MacGuffin
A fugue is a flight. She is fugacious.
Nidifugous is fleeing the nest. Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi) spent much of his life on the run from one thing or another.
A MacGuffin is a plot device in the form of some goal, desired object, or other motivator that the protagonist pursues, often with little or no explanation as to why it is considered so important. The specific nature of a MacGuffin is typically unimportant to the overall plot.
The most common type of MacGuffin is an object, place or person. However, a MacGuffin can sometimes take a more abstract form, such as money, victory, glory, survival, power, love, or even something that is entirely unexplained, as long as it strongly motivates key characters within the structure of the plot.
It might be a Scottish name, taken from a story about two men in a train. One man says “What’s that package up there in the baggage rack?”, and the other answers, “Oh, that’s a MacGuffin”. The first one asks “What’s a MacGuffin?” “Well”, the other man says, “It’s an apparatus for trapping lions in the Scottish Highlands”. The first man says, “But there are no lions in the Scottish Highlands”, and the other one answers, “Well, then that’s no MacGuffin!” So you see, a MacGuffin is nothing at all. Alfred Hitchcock.
Usually the MacGuffin is the central focus of the film in the first act, and then declines in importance as the struggles and motivations of characters play out.
The MacGuffin may come back into play at the climax of the story, but sometimes the MacGuffin is actually forgotten by the end.
World War I actor Pearl White used the term weenie to identify whatever physical object (a roll of film, a rare coin, expensive diamonds) impelled the heroes and villains to pursue each other through the convoluted plots of The Perils of Pauline and the other silent film serials in which she starred.
Some dictionary definitions are vague and generalized.
For example, Princeton’s WordNet defines a MacGuffin as simply “a plot element that catches the viewers’ attention or drives the plot of a work of fiction”, which could refer to nearly anything at all in a story, given that audience-member attention occurs at the individual level and is not reliably predictable.
Steven Spielberg said, “I sympathize with people who didn’t like the MacGuffin (the crystal skull) in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull because I never liked the MacGuffin.”
The Greeks in Socrates’ time wrote in capital letters only and used no diacritical marks, which were introduced by an Alexandrian grammarian to guide non Greek speakers in a pronunciation which to us now must be largely a matter of conjecture.
“God is love.” This must be from John. It sounds like something John would say.
We were forty miles from Albany, Forget it I never shall, What a terrible storm we had that night On the Erie Canal.
If you need gas while driving on an interstate, look for exits with at least two gas stations. The competition will mean a lower price per gallon.
Perfect rubies are more valuable than perfect diamonds.
Never go to bed mad. Stay up and fight.
Although pottery had been fashioned and fired for thousands of years, by the 1700s there were still no mass-produced, identical plates, bowls, cups and saucers. One determined man, Josiah Wedgwood, born in 1730 into a family of potters from Staffordshire, England, would soon change that.
Mamihlapinatapei: A meaningful look, shared by two people, expressing mutual unstated feelings. (Tierra del Fuegan language)
The secret of success is finding the best person to do the best thing.
What’s the highest altitude in New Orleans? Not counting the levees? Four feet.
Crows live 80 years.
Whenever the literary German dives into a sentence, that is the last you are going to see of him till he emerges on the other side of the Atlantic with his verb in his mouth. Mark Twain.
Sixty four per cent of women sleep on the left side of the bed.
How many Amish does it take to screw in a light bulb? The Amish don’t have light bulbs. They bake pies.
The only post office doesn’t work. There’s always that one on the bridge, but the elevator doesn’t work. Fuck!
People talk about killing time, but it is time that kills them.
Tokyo has about a thousand earthquakes every year. Residents feel about fifty of them.
Dos linages sólos hay en el mundo, como decía una abuela mía, que son el tenir y el no tenir. There are only two families in the world, as a grandmother of mine used to say, the haves and the have nots. Miguel de Cervantes (1547 – 1616)
My wife always lets me have her way.
Ernest Hemingway proposed to Gertrude Stein.
You can’t step in the same river twice. Enjoy it, savor it, it’s gone already.
In 1986, the Pentagon’s phone bill was $ 8.7 million.
Rare redheads. Maybe one in forty in the USA.
When negotiating for money, pay attention to when your opponent’s increments of change begin to decrease in size. That’s when s/he is close to a bargaining limit.
The blue-ringed octopus of Australia: one bite or squirt causes immediate paralysis and death in minutes.
The people who improve you the most will cost you the least.
Oondinnounk (Iroquois) The soul’s innermost benevolent desires.
Museum means “temple of the muses.”
The Romans, impressed with the stork’s altruistic behavior, enacted the Lex Ciconaria (Stork’s law) which compelled children to care for their aged parents. We get the word “stork” from Greek storge which means strong, natural affection.
Old King Cole was a merry old soul, And a merry old soul was he, He called for his pipe and he called for his bowl, And he called for his fiddlers three.
Some things have to be believed to be seen.
Residents of Phoenix, Arizona, call themselves Phoenicians.
The universe was dictated, but not signed.
John Wesley Hyatt did not actually develop Celluloid himself but acquired the British patent for it in 1868 from Alexander Parkes, a Birmingham, England, professor of natural science. Hyatt began manufacturing ersatz ivory billiard balls, but soon realized that Celluloid could be made into anything, collars, cuffs, shirtfronts, guitar picks, dental plates, toys and even photographic film.
Katzenjammer (German) monumentally severe hangover.
It is better to deserve without receiving than to receive without deserving.
An ounce of don’t say it is worth a pound of didn’t mean it.
A baby learns to smile in the womb, but it has to wait until it’s been exposed to the real world for about six months before it can learn to pout.
Teacher, “book” means livre? Yes. So, Facebook means “book of buttocks?” Oh, no, “Face” is the visage. You can visit that site without risk, it’s not dangerous. But, teacher, I saw a photo of your buttocks on the new year section of your Facebook page. You should NEVER go to Facebook, it’s a dangerous site, you hear me?”
Foxbook: The only thing sure about luck is that it will change.
Aware (Japanese): the feelings engendered by ephemeral beauty.
New Year’s in Babylon: a high priest, rising two hours before dawn, bathes in the sacred waters of the Euphrates. Then he offers a hymn to Marduk, god of agriculture. The rump of a beheaded ram is rubbed against the temple walls to absorb any contagion that might infest the sacred edifice and, by implication, the next year’s harvest. The ceremony is called kuppuru, a word that appears among the Hebrews at about the same time, in their Day of Atonement festival, Yom Kippur.
Princeton, New Jersey, has the most residents per capita listed in Who’s Who.
It says here that office hours in Yugoslavia, a country that does not exist, are 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Those are my ideal working hours. Actually, 6 to 1 would be even better.
This is Finnish, a language that I don’t know, but I can almost read all of this anyway. Finnish belongs to a group of languages that includes Turkish and Japanese, oh, and did I mention Hungarian? Or Korean? One name for this family is Finno-Altaic.
The major Finn in my life is Jorma Kaukonen. They like lots of ‘k’s and double letters in Finland.
Your blood has to travel through your whole body to get from one side of your heart to the other.
Saudade is a Portuguese and Galician word for a feeling of nostalgic longing for something or someone that one was fond of and which has been lost. It often carries a fatalist tone and a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might never really return. This word is very rich in meaning and it is, to say the truth, untranslatable.
If you said “sow dodge,” you would approximate the pronunciation of this word Saudade. A Brazilian would probably understand you, but, you know how it is with languages, each is a sovereignty unto herself. It would be best to corner a native Portuguese or Brazilian and listen very carefully to how s/he says this word.
On the Cracker Jack box are a boy and a dog. The boy’s name is Jack. The dog’s name is Bingo.
To buy a pig in a poke, a cat in a sack. Strike while the iron is hot. What I don’t know won’t make me angry. (It sounds way better in German. For one thing, it rhymes, and, even better, it has rhythm, it scans.)
You can die at twenty-five, and not be buried until you’re seventy-five.
Solitude, soledad are close relatives of the word “saudade.” There is a prison in the middle of California called Soledad. They didn’t name the prison poetically, but merely called it after a place name near there. Soledad is not a bad name for a prison at all. All is loneliness here for me, loneliness here for me, loneliness.
If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have brushed my teeth.
The only problem with getting old, is that it comes at a very inconvenient time.
That mouse in your house begins to have other mice when she’s a month old.
Probably every single person who has ever lived, or whoever will live, supposes herself underappreciated and insufficiently loved. I certainly feel that way at times, so I assume that everyone else does.
As the blackbird in the spring ’Neath the willow tree Sat and piped, I heard him sing, singing Aura Lee. Aura Lee, Aura Lee, Maid with golden hair, Sunshine came along with thee, And swallows in the air.
Aura Lee has exactly the same melody as Love Me Tender. Aura Lee was probably “in public domain” when Elvis’ tunesmiths decided to resurrect it.
Never point an unloaded gun at anyone.
Some names from P.G. Wodehouse: Barmy Fotheringay-Phipps, Stilton Cheesewright, Pongo Twistleton-Twistleton, Gussie Fink-Nottle, Biscuit Biskerton, Stiffy Stiffham, Catsmeat Potter-Pirbright, Dogface Rainsby, Oofy Prosser, Freddie Fitch-Fitch.
The word “giddy” comes from the Anglo-Saxon “gyddig” meaning possessed by the gods.
I like flying Vatican Airlines. The emergency instructions are in Latin.
The English name “Decalogue” for the Ten Commandments is derived from Greek δεκάλογος, dekalogos, the latter meaning and referring to the Greek translation (in the accusative) δέκα λόγους, deka logous, “ten words”, found in the Septuagint (or LXX) at Exodus 34:28 and Deuteronomy 10:4.
The best “waitresses” are good-natured and talkative, though somewhat sardonic. The best “waiters” are inclined to be serious and taciturn. Such was the consensus of a sizable gathering of restaurateurs in Geneva, but they couldn’t explain the reason for this difference.
Conmoción (Spanish) Emotion held in common by a group or gathering.
Anyone seen a donkey around here?
It’s not an insect if it doesn’t live inside a hard skeleton.
Snuffing a candle required great dexterity and judgment. Scottish lawyer and incomparable biographer James Boswell had many occasions to snuff tallow candles, not all successfully. He wrote in 1793: ”I determined to sit up all night, which I accordingly did, and wrote a great deal. About two o’clock in the morning I inadvertently snuffed out my candle… and could not get it re-lumed.”
How should they answer? (Abigail van Buren in reply to the question “Why do Jews always answer a question with a question?”)
There should be no laws: she who more than unconsciously obeys laws is a scoundrel and a scapegrace.
Le bon sens est la chose du monde la mieux partagée, car chacun pense en être bien pourvu. René Descartes.
Common sense is the best shared thing, because everyone thinks that s/he has been well provided with it.
Some villagers in the Andes speak a nearly pure Castilian Spanish no longer spoken anywhere else.
Oh, I had such a crush on Tony Brown for so long. She lived right next to me in Woodacre, or wherever it was, and now she lives in Hawaii. Oh, well, I loved the whole band.
Trois heures, c’est toujours trop tard ou trop tôt pour tout ce qu’on veut faire. Jean-Paul Sartre. (Three a.m. is always too late or too early for anything that you would want to do.)
Hey! That’s Peter Lewis’ mom kissing Bob Hope.
A wise woman sings her joy in the closet of her heart.
The sexual moment is like music, like prayer, like poetry.
Sex without sin is like an egg without salt.
A scientist is five times more likely to marry a scientist than an artist is likely to marry an artist.
Tao. (Chinese) The way it goes.
Art must be parochial in the beginning to become cosmopolitan in the end.
The Church says that the earth is flat. But I know it’s round because I’ve seen its shadow on the moon. And I have more faith in a shadow than in the Church.
Eurydice (Εὐρυδίκη, Eurydikē) was an oak nymph or one of the daughters of Apollo (the god of light). She was the wife of Orpheus, who tried to bring her back from the dead with his enchanting music.
“Mouse” comes from a Sanskrit word meaning “thief.”
Adolf Hitler’s mother seriously considered having an abortion, but was talked out of it by her doctor.
The best indicator of a person’s character is how she treats those who can’t do anything for her.
Qu’ils mangent de la brioche. Marie-Antoinette (1755-1793) Let them eat cake.
Saint John Golden Mouth (Ἰωάννης ὁ Χρυσόστομος): After his death in 407 CE he was given the Greek name chrysostomos, meaning “golden mouthed” in English, and Anglicized to Chrysostom.
Maya (Sanskrit) The mistaken belief that a symbol is the same as the reality it represents.
A rabbit can eat a mushroom that would kill a human.
Darwinian Man, though well behaved, At best is only a monkey shaved. W.S. Gilbert (Princess Ida, 1884)
Ponte (Italian) An extra day off, taken to add a weekend to a national holiday, just as we did here last Labor Day. Ponte is literally a bridge. The Pope is sometimes called Pontifex Maximus, the greatest bridge builder, because s/he builds a bridge to god. This title, as with many other titles in the Catholic Church, was taken from the Roman religion. Mozart’s librettist wrote a long and entertaining memoir in Italian. His name is Lorenzo Da Ponte. One of the most common names in French, it’s like Smith or Jones, is DuPont, from the bridge.
Le dessin est la probité de l’art. J.A.D. Ingres (1780-1867) Drawing is the real test of art.
If you don’t put on your left sock first, you’re a tad unusual.
Nothing is more annoying than a low person raised to a high position.
This is a Picasso, very early. Maybe 1912.
Young people think that old people are foolish, but old people know that young people are foolish.
ζῷον δίπουν ἄπτερον An animal, two legged, featherless. Plato’s definition of a human.
Diogenes the Cynic thought he would have some fun with this so he plucked a chicken and brought it into Plato’s Academy saying: οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ Πλάτωνος ἄνθρωπος. (Here is Plato’s man.)
When Custer was having his Last Stand, the population of the USA was about forty million.
Oh, Shenandoah, I long to hear you, Away you rolling river. Oh, Shenandoah, I long to hear you. Away, we’re bound away, ‘Cross the wide Missouri.
Choose the puppy whose tail wags in sync with its stride, a sign of calmness.
I’ve been on so many blind dates, I should get a free dog.
Forty-five out of every 100 Americans don’t read books. Newspapers, yes, but not books.
Nurses are special people, they’re science minded, they have big hearts, they have a lot of soul, I could go on and on because I’m married to one.
You can eat the whole water lily. It’s all edible.
In 600 CE, the center of European window making lay along the Rhine River. The Romans called this place Colonia Agrippina and the Germans called it Köln and we call it Cologne. This was the home of the Ubii whom Julius Caesar called friends… most of the time.
Great skill and a long apprenticeship were required to work with glass, and those prerequisites are reflected, so to speak, in the name that was used for a glassmaker: ”gaffer” meaning “learned grandfather.”
So prized were the gaffer’s exquisite artifacts that the opening in the gaffer’s furnace through which he blew glass on a long rod was named a “glory hole.”
Let others praise ancient times; I am glad I was born in these. Ovid (43 BCE – 18 CE)
Couples who married in Las Vegas: Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson; George Clooney and Talia Balsam; Michael Caine and Shakira Baksh; Elise Piliwale and Sam Andrew.
One of the United States was named for Julius Caesar… kind of. England’s island of Jersey is a corruption of “Caesar’s island.”
When love, skill and beauty work together, something very lovely can happen.
Fe que no duda es fe muerta. Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1937) Faith which does not doubt is dead faith.
Franco laureato. Franco Scalzo is graduated from the university and crowned with laurels. Viva Franco!
The great Library of Alexandria, Egypt, was known as ψυχῆς ἰατρεῖον, the hospital of the soul.
By decree of Ptolemy III of Egypt all visitors to the city were required to surrender any form of written media in any language in their possession which were listed under the heading “books of the ships”.
These writings were then swiftly copied by official scribes. Sometimes the copies were so precise that the originals were put into the library and the copies were delivered to the unsuspecting previous owners.
This process also helped to create a reservoir of books in the relatively new city.
Octopuses (octopodes? octopodi?) often have one little eye for seeing things in sunlit waters and one big eye for peeping in the deep.
The giraffe has seven cervical vertebrae just as we do. Your seventh cervical vertebra is that bump between your shoulder blades.
You can imagine that the giraffe’s vertebrae are rather larger than ours. The mouse has seven cervical vertebrae too.
εὕρηκα ! I have found it! This is the state motto of California, presumably referring to the immense reserves of gold, silver and counterculturalists found underground in that state.
Archimedes is supposed to have said εὕρηκα ! , but the story is almost certainly apocryphal.
It goes somewhat like this, that Archimedes was taking a bath, and he noticed that the level of the water rose as he got in and so discovered what is today known as Archimedes Principle, that the volume of water displaced must be equal to the volume of the part of his body he had submerged.
This meant that the volume of irregular objects could be calculated with precision, a previously intractable problem. He was so excited that he ran through the streets naked and still wet from his bath, crying “I have found it!”.
You waste as much energy when you throw away an aluminum soda can as you do when you pour out half a can of gasoline.
A piano is harmless. The danger is the threat posed by the piano player.
Humility is the real force.
Gâchis (French) Strong epithet for an opportunity-bungling, inept handling of a situation by a really talented entropist.
One thing that I have noticed is that musicians aren’t good dancers, and dancers aren’t good musicians. Despite the fact that the genes for rhythm and interpretation are right there on the chromosome very nearly allied, there is some serious divide between playing and dancing to that playing. I’m not sure what that means, but I’ve learned to live with the fact that, as a dancer, I am a complete ninny.
When divorce breaks up a one car couple, who gets the car? The same one that got the house… the wife.
So, if you ever see me dancing, you’ll know that I’m in trouble.
Or, as Agnes De Mille put it, a good education is usually harmful to a dancer. A good calf is better than a good head.
I promise you that I am drawing no conclusions whatsoever from this statement. Dancers live, perhaps, in a more sophisticated milieu than musicians.
More cars are stolen annually in the United States than the total made per year in Russia.
Why did she have to do all that heroin? For that matter, why did I ?
At least I don’t have the gambling gene. I completely missed out on that one. As far as I am concerned, the lottery is a tax on people who are really bad at mathematics.
James Gurley always said, “Well, someone’s got to win,” and I thought, “Yeah, but it ain’t going to be you and me, my brother.” We already won. How much luck do you want for one lifetime?
Rasa (Sanskrit) The mood or sentiment that is evoked by a work of art. I like this word rasa for so many reasons.
Rasa reminds me of La Raza, the Hispanic word that means “race,” but is closer to “la familia,” or even nosotros.
The word rasa refers to the essential oils of a fruit or the perfume of a flower.
The thrill of esthetic pleasure, the powerful emotional sentiments that come up when a person truly experiences a work of art.
Then, there was a “restaurant,” really a stand, in the Pike Place Market of Seattle called Rasa Malaysia. I had the impression that it was a whole chain of places. All the vegetables were fresh, they were expertly prepared, everything was tasty, or, as the Japanese say, oishii. I loved this place, Rasa Malaysia, and will always stop at one wherever I am.
Good, wholesome food, deliciously prepared. So, I am assuming that the rasa in Rasa Malaysia is the same rasa as the Sanskrit word.
The full theory of rasas has an esthetic vocabulary for describing the excellencies, the essences of very different phenomena.
For more than 1,500 years, Hindus have talked about nine distinct rasas at least one of which will be present in any work of art.
There is the erotic rasa, Shingara; the comic rasa, Hasya; Karuna, the pathetic rasa; raudra, the furious rasa, and , so the Indian pantheon.
I like it that rasa and la raza are so close in essential meaning, but, yet, mean almost opposite ideas.
Sometimes I wonder if the word “race” has any meaning at all in the USA, or anywhere else, for that matter.
We are all so mixed, and for a long time too, that it is probably best just to assume that we are all the same.
Grasshoppers have white blood.
She says she’s 70, so probably a few years older, but not bad, right? I love Raquel, always did. She was smart, beautiful, full of salsa, and she did the Dick Cavett show with Janis and held her own.
Laura Albergante Visconti. I love her name.
Remember? This guy wasn’t even Jewish, but he took this name so that people would assume he was.
The Visconti were viscounts, which is like a vice count, but they came to have much more power than their name suggests.
They were dukes of Milan for many centuries, and they fought alongside the condottieri that they hired.
Condottieri were the mercenary soldier leaders, or warlords, of the professional, military free companies contracted by the Italian city states and the Papacy from the late Middle Ages through the Renaissance.
In Renaissance Italian, condottiero meant “contractor”, and was synonymous with the modern English title Mercenary Captain.
In the Italian of that time, “condottiero” acquired the broader meaning of “military leader”, not restricted to mercenaries. Renaissance mercenary captains are usually called capitani di ventura.
In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the Italian city-states of Venice, Florence and Genoa were very rich from their trade with the Levant, yet possessed woefully small national armies.
In the event that foreign powers and envious neighbours attacked, the ruling nobles hired foreign mercenaries to fight for them.
The military-service terms and conditions were stipulated in a condotta (contract) between the city-state and the soldiers (officer and enlisted man), thus, the contracted leader, the mercenary captain commanding, was titled the Condottiere or condottiero.
Un condottiero drawn by Leonardo.
Says here that people are supposed to play and work their best when the temperature is between 63 and 73 degrees Fahrenheit. This is probably an ethnocentric notion. There may be some people in the world who would find that a little cold. Works for me, though.
I can’t have music in the background, such as in films or recorded books. When I hear music I can’t hear anything else.
Rêve à deux (French): A mutual dream or a shared hallucination.
Noi leggiavamo un giorno per diletto, Di Lancialotto, come amor lo strinse, Soli eravamo, e sanza alcun sospetto. (Dante)
We were reading one day for delight about Lancelot, how love constrained him, we were alone and without any suspecting.
Thank you for being here.
Sam Andrew Οὖτις ἐμοί γ’ ὄνομα. Nobody is my name.