Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fantastic Lines

I anticipate the new season of So You Think You Can Dance like a trip to Disney. It’s magical. It’s exciting. And at times it’s hot, hot, hot. And while Disney may promise me long lines, SYTYCD often features “fantastic lines”.

Every week there’s a Nigel Lithgow or a Mia Michaels comment about someone having “great lines”, “fantastic lines”. I hear that and I know they are a beautiful technical dancer, but really. What exactly is a “great line”?

A good line is absolutely indispensable to the classical dancer. A dancer is said to have a good or bad sense of line according to the arrangement of head, body, legs and arms in a pose or movement.

A great line stretches through a dancer’s fingertips and toes.

And a fantastic line exemplifies an ethereal grace that makes me run to my computer and update my facebook status with “A-mazing”.

Soooo—as I watched Glee the other night (PS—awe-some) and Schuster challenged the group to perform a perfect duet for the chance to win a dinner for two at Breadsticks, Kurt decided he’d sing by himself. And snarky cheerleading witch Santana retorts with

“How can you do a duet by yourself? Isn’t that like vocal masturbation?”

Now that was a fantastic line.

And after I cleaned up the Diet Coke that had spewed out my nose, I thought about fantastic lines in novels. In television and movies. In songs. How a fantastic line can totally make a movie for me. How cleverly executed dialogue makes me not want to put a book down.

And then I thought about… what makes a line “fantastic”?

Well, there are the classics:

“Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.”

“Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

Or those lines that break my heart as it’s breaking Heath’s of House of Night:

"Last time I saw you, I said that it hurt too much to love you. But I was wrong about that. The truth is it hurts too much not to love you.”

Or it could be a powerful opener:

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. (1984—George Orwell)

Yep - lines we never forget. But what makes the line epic? What makes it unforgettable?

For some people, it’s the poignancy of the words or the timeless beauty in them. The line may be something many people connect to. Or maybe two ill-fated words that take your breath away.

For me—the most epic lines and the ones that tend to stick with me—are the funny ones. The LOL, pee-my-pants moments in a book or movie that leave me laughing for days. Like Ron Weasley’s attempts at talking to Harry on a telephone in the Goblet of Fire. Or Alan’s wolf pack speech in the Hangover.

Here are just a few more of my favorites:

• Does Barry Manilow know that you raid his wardrobe? (Bender—The Breakfast Club)

• Without rules, we all might as well be up in a tree flinging our crap at each other. (Red Forman—That ‘70s Show)

• Gazzy:"What does that mean?" (points to sign saying Stay off third rail)
Fang:" It means the third rail has seven hundred volts of direct current running through it. Touch it and you're human popcorn” (Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment)

• “Because you are the superhero fledgling. I’m just your more attractive sidekick. Oh, and the herd of nerd are your dorky minions." (Aphrodite: House of Night)

• I just like to smile! Smiling's my favorite. (Buddy—Elf)

Rachel Hawkins, author of Hex Hall, recently discussed “Bringing the Funny” at the Writeoncon kidlit online conference this summer. She said, “I never set out to write funny.” She wanted to write a dark mystery, but then she wrote a character’s impression of her new creepy boarding school.

“Awesome. I always wondered what it would be like to live in someone’s mouth.”

And, well, she delivered "funny".

That’s how it is with me. On a daily basis, I can be snarkier than Alex Russo and as corny as Wayne and Garth (sch-wing!). But I ne-ver see myself as funny. I mean, I write stuff that has me stifling a giggle or two, but I don’t particularly think it’s that funny and I certainly don’t set out to write that way.

And yet, my betas comment with frequent “LOVE!” or “Bahahahaha”. One agent, upon rejecting my story, commented on my funny and feisty narrator and added, “The supporting cast is just as lively and funny as Jamie.”

So here’s a little of my funny… (from Mind Rants of a Teenage Superhero—Jamie, recuperating from a blow to the head, realizes she got hit by a spirit flag)

I spent half the night worried about getting body slammed to the ground by a two hundred pound linebacker. Instead, I get pummeled by Yolanda’s death stick. Nice.

So I’ll keep bringing the funny.

Cause for me, funny delivers a most fantastic line.

1 comment:

  1. Great post. I'm a big fan of SYTYCD too!

    One of my favorite lines from a novel is the first line of Pride & Prejudice. It's beautiful and it really sets the tone for the entire book.

    But I think my all-time favorite lines come from Vonnegut. I was going to cut and paste one or two of his in here, but they're all so darn good, so here's a link instead:


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