Friday, August 9, 2013

On the Nose

When I was in film school, we had an expression we used when we thought something was a little too convenient.  We would say that the story was "A bit on the nose." 

For instance, if I were writing a screenplay, and my character happened to bump into the love of her life, just moments after breaking up with Mr. Wrong:  her bags are already packed and he just so happens to have two tickets to Paris.  It is just a perfect twist of fate that she turned the corner and smacked into him.  This is a story that is a little on the nose. 

Because in reality, one of them probably has an expired passport, she is going to lose her job anyway because Mr. Wrong was actually her boss, and the love of her life is probably leaving the U.S. for tax evasion.

(At which point, I would re-write the plane tickets to be for the Cayman Islands or somewhere with... ehh shelter)...

Which movie would you like to see?  I guess whichever story you prefer, says a little something about how you see life.  Hopeful and optimistic? Or perhaps a little cynical and jaded. 

If I were to write myself as a protagonist at this stage of my life, I would probably say that I fall somewhere in the middle of the two extremes.  Which is actually a good place to write from.  It is having enough innocence that you can still maintain an open mind about things magically falling perfectly into place.  While at the same time, arming your hopes and expectations with a little dose of reality: so you don't have too far to fall when someone lets you down. 

A person's age tends to have some direct correlation with their life experience.  Their life experiences greatly affect their overall point of view.  Their point of view is what we come to know as their character.  See how that works? 

Now suppose you are, oh I don't know: the local friendly bartender.  And it's another day/another dollar for you my friend.  Life isn't exactly glamorous.  But you keep your head down, you show up on time and you do a pretty damn good dirty martini.  And then, as a total hypothetical, you are faced with quite possibly one of the most obnoxious bar guests... IN THE UNIVERSE.

If it were a movie, you would say; "No way, that's too much.  People don't actually say things like that."  The customer hovers over the bar, studying your every move.  He has very vocal opinions about the job you are doing for him.  "That's a bit light. This one has more than that one." 

Then he proceeds to study and evaluate the other bartender, saying "Well I never... that is meant to be stirred, not ever ever shaken." OK dude. WE GET IT...  


But characters like that don't really exist, do they?  Wouldn't that scene be a bit on the nose?  Aren't characters written that way a cliche? 

I would say yes.  However... sometimes things do land right on your nose: tennis balls, glass doors you didn't see closed,  cappuccino foam... assholes.  Oh wait a minute, this is hypothetical right? 

Well, thank goodness life isn't really full of spot on, stereotypical, jerk-faces like the ones we might write about in the movies.   Can you imagine how annoyed I would actually be??  

Each day begins anew.  And with each day, an opportunity for a re-write.  A recipe for for failure might actually be a recipe for success, if you take away a single ingredient. 

So maybe stories in the day to day life of a bartender aren't always oscar worthy.  But they sure make it interesting, even if the roles we play are a bit on the nose. 


Bad Attitude Cocktail

1/2 oz Vodka
1/2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Rum
1/2 oz Tequila
1/2 oz Triple Sec
1 oz Amaretto
Splash of Pineapple, Orange and Cranberry Juices
Shake together and poor into a tall glass. 

photo credit:

photo credit:




  1. What I like most in a story is an "on the nose" moment that turns out to be anything but the expected. Unfortunately, when this occurs in real life, it is not so much fun.

    1. I love those kinds of stories too. That show Once Upon a Time does that. It's so great!!