Jim’s Thursday Inspiration prompt today sent me down rabbit trails of thoughts and googles. First, I recalled the funny slogan for Saul Goodman, the lawyer in Breaking Bad. It hinged on the emphasis of words. You don’t need a criminal lawyer; you need a criminal lawyer. Subtle, right? What a great character ~ though, as I’ve noted, I didn’t care for the spin-off. I learned also that the BB producers meant for Bob Odenkirk to do only a couple shows in S2, but Saul was so popular they kept him. That’s what happened with Aaron Paul as well, which is hard to believe now. BB without Jesse? Crazy.
Generally, though, I prefer my fiction to be some traditional version of good guys win/bad guys get caught. That’s always more satisfying, amirite? Yet there are exceptions to every rule, and BB was one. The Sopranos was another. The appeal for me in both hinged on the great characters and excellent acting, not to mention stellar writing. People forget about that, but without the writers, what do we have? Nothing! Here’s a great song about what’s supposed to happen when you do the crime: “I Fought the Law” by the Bobby Fuller Four, 1966. This is a cover, please note, as the original was written by Sonny Curtis of the Crickets. (I’m experimenting with not plopping vids directly into posts, for a cleaner blog appearance, so click if you want to listen to the song on YouTube, or don’t.)
I also thought about the ways people use the word “crime” and how I’ve read and heard it as a verb occasionally lately. I looked that up and found an interesting article from Merriam-Webster on the topic and also about verbing nouns generally. Playing with language is a lot of fun, though I’ve mostly stopped doing it here, as it confuses or irritates people, and unlike some, I am not “writing just for myself.” I care about how my audience reads my words. But when I text with my girls, we are super playful with words and it’s so enjoyable. I also eschew most punctuation in texting and casual social media comments. But here’s the thing about words and rules: they are all invented. Yep, every one of them in every language has been MADE UP by people at some point! I wouldn’t lie to you, my loyal fans. There was a time when all we said was ugh. Actually, I still say ugh a lot…
That’s not to say there shouldn’t be rules. I’m in favor of ’em, arbitrary as they are, because a commonly understood structure is important in clear communication. You have to know the rules to break them, as the saying goes, otherwise you simply look like an idiot. That was the beauty of lolcat speech, where the usual rules of spelling and grammar were twisted into new, interesting sentences. I enjoyed that so much! I also enjoy reading British writers, who have a slightly different way of using English and punctuation than American writers ~ fewer commas, for one thing. As usual, with Americans, the idea is if one comma is good, why not supersize and use 100? Ugh. Long before lolcats though, writers such as E.E. Cummings and James Joyce were bending language in their work. Sorry, we boomers/millennials do not get credit for starting this trend! Here’s one of my favorite songs from last century with several instances of wordplay: “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” performed by Nancy Sinatra, also in 1966, and written by Lee Hazelwood.
“You keep lyin’ when you ought to be truthin’
You keep losin’ when you ought to not bet
You keep samin’ when you ought to be changin’
Now what’s right is right, but you ain’t been right yet”
Great prompt, Jim!
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