Posts Tagged ‘jaws’

“We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Bandage”- by Alison Grambs


Every summer Americans gather ’round the television set to take in the Discovery Channel’s annual broadcast of Shark Week. From hour-long specials on the science of shark behavior (“that shark didn’t mean to eat that entire South African family. It was merely investigating…”) to extensive interviews with attack victims (“Dude! It had eyes as black as a doll’s eyes and I was like, dude! that thing just took my foot off!”) the arrival of Shark Week has always been something I eagerly anticipate. In fact, I react to news of a local shark attack with pretty much the same enthusiasm meth addicts demonstrate when their local drug dealer has a sale. After all, my favorite movie of all time is Jaws; and I’ve got a bevy of movie memorabilia to prove it.

Over the past few years, however, my interest in Shark Week programming has diminished. Dramatically. Even the promise of an episode revealing gruesome footage of real shark attacks and the semi-masticated limbs of their unsuspecting limbs doesn’t suck me in the way they used to.

You see, everything changed for me the day someone I love got attacked by a shark. 

If you saw my husband, you’d never know he had been bitten by a shark. It was Thanksgiving Day 2012, and unlike the Pilgrims and Indians at Plymouth Rock in 1621, my husband and I were fighting. The issue of contention was the fact that, due to my family’s holiday plans, Tommy, a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan, was going to miss watching the Big Game on television. 

“What’s the big deal?” I’d replied, reminding him that a) he had gotten to actually GO to the game in Dallas the year before and b) we were recording the game.

No matter. Tommy simply could not be consoled. And for the next half hour or so, I was forced to watch my usually mature forty-something spouse throw what can only be described as an extremely juvenile tantrum. Stomping  around the apartment. Muttering under his breath. Shooting me dirty looks. Hissing a slew of four letter words that I’m certain the Pilgrims would not approve of. It did not matter to my husband that our ancestors had suffered far greater hardships back in 1621. Homesickness. Small pox. Inevitable starvation. Apparently, Tommy’s suffering was worse. More stomping, more cursing, and  more four letter words came at me. And just when I was about to toss Tommy’s special edition Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader Barbie doll out the window in a show of force, it happened…

Tommy, who happens to be quite tall, and happens to have a rather large head, made the mistake of moving his tantrum from the center of our living room to the perimeter of our living room where, dangling from a heavy duty hook and line of extra-strength fishing line, hangs a very large, very wide set of very real jaws from the mouth of a once very alive, now very dead, very big Bull shark.  

The jaws were a gift to me from Tommy a few years ago, and while we both acknowledged that hanging them from our living room ceiling might result in the untimely death of someone down the road, we just assumed that someone would be an expendable guest and happily went about hanging them.

So, there went Tommy’s giant head. Crashing into those very large, very sharp, very serrated teeth. For a moment, my husband did not move, nor did he curse. This was a bad sign. Then came the silence. Even more of a bad sign. Then the moaning followed by the awkward swaying to and fro of his body. Out of the dozens of large, sharp Bull shark teeth dangling from our ceiling, one of them had struck my husband in the forehead.

Part of me was horrified, (of course); but part of me was excited (of course). I mean, come on! I had just born witness to an actual shark attack. I thought back to everything I had learned during previous summers of Shark Week programming. Call 9-1-1. Demand an ambulance. Look for signs of shock. Stanch the bleeding. Ice any severed limbs. Contact the Discovery Channel to arrange for interviews. Hire an publicist.

As it turned out, there was, in fact, blood. To my disappointment, however, just a drop though. In fact, I draw more blood out of my own veins while shaving my legs every morning. Tommy’s shark bite didn’t warrant so much as a  bandage, although he did feel it necessary to purchase about five hundred over-the-counter ointments and salves from the corner drugstore regardless, just in case the wound ‘busted open’ and he was ‘in danger of bleeding out’.

Suffice it to say, Tommy survived the shark attack, rendering me inarguably unqualifed to put in that call to the good folks at Discovery Channel. Instead, the only call I got to make was the one to my folks in which I was forced to explain that we’d have to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on television, rather than in person, because, well, Tommy is injured. Alas, my parade viewing plans got ruined and Tommy got to watch the whole friggin’ Dallas Cowboys game like he wanted. (Guess Mom and Dad felt sorry for him almost dying and all.)

Now I realize that the fact that the fact that my husband was, in fact, attacked by a shark should have me tuning in to Shark Week like gangbusters all these years later. But the incident actually had the opposite effect on me. Truth is, I’m bitter. Thanksgiving Day 2012 was our one shot at getting on Shark Week. Lightning doesn’t strike twice, people, and the chances of my husband ever being attacked by a shark again, be it in the ocean or our living room, are pretty much nil. A

Three different abodes and five years later, those Bull shark teeth aren’t even on display anymore. Neither of us can bear to look at them. For Tommy, the mere sight of them causes PTSD. For me, the mere sight of them causes DGOSWPTSD (Didn’t Get On Shark Week Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.)  They’re crammed into a storage container on our terrace along with the air mattress we use for camping. The same air mattress that, oddly enough, deflated last week on our camping trip due to a small puncture wound in its casing. 

Hmmmmm. Wonder if the folks at Shark Week would want to investigate?




“THE END?” – by Alison Grambs


Watermarked ImageSome time in between my dream of  becoming the first Sherpa to scale Mount Everest wearing clogs, and my vision of opening and operating the nation’s first Cineplex/Vomitorium, I decided to become a writer.  

I guess it makes sense.  

I mean, I’ve got a degree in English Literature, and can recite the entire Alphabet by heart (although, admittedly, I sometimes forget about the letter “Q” because I don’t think we really need it as a general society.)  Anyway, the point is, my degree and the Alphabet certainly gave me a leg up in the literary world, so I felt an inward gravitational pull to pursue writing.  Thusly, (writers use impressive words like thusly) I worked hard, practiced typing on all forms of keyboards, virtual and real, read a bunch of books by people who were already professional writers (they all used the word thusly by the way), and eventually managed to publish a few books.  One of them has even been translated into Romanian, where I hope copies are still flying off the shelves in the Barnes & Noble wing at Count Dracula’s castle.

But like so many writers of non-fiction eventually do, in recent years, I have turned my focus towards writing novels.

Now, a few years and a lot of index cards, cork boards, notepads and Post-Its later, I am still in the passionate throes of writing my novels.

Since I first began working on my novels I’ve had several bouts of Writer’s Block.  

The first bouts were due to the fact I couldn’t quite settle on a plot for any of my novels.  (Turns out that writing a novel actually requires this plot thing.)  Originally I considered penning a historical  novel – because those get made into hit television series starring the oh-my-god-he-can-even-make-gout-sexy Jonathan Rhys Meyers, whom I would very much like to meet… and strip, piece by piece… of all that armor he wore on The Tudors… with my teeth.   However, that ambition was quickly discarded when I realized writing historical fiction  requires doing research…something at which I, frankly, suck.  So a legal thriller it would be then, I decided, delving into a few Scott Turow and John Grisham bestsellers to get a feel for the judicial system.  But the idea of having to spell out ipso facto and other Latin words proved nothing short of daunting to me.  So, bye-bye went that impulse as well.   Should it be a romance novel then, I wondered as I tapped away at my computer like Jack Nicholson in The Shining.  (“All work and no plot makes Alison a bad writer. All work and no plot makes Alison a bad writer. All work and no plot makes Alison a bad writer.”  Well, considering the fact that I have never  read a romance novel, and cannot say, let alone type the word vagina without giggling uncontrollably, that literary impulse flew out the window just like my parakeet did back in college.  

Ultimately, I made the active decision  to not box myself into any literary genre and just began to write whatever came out of my over-bleached head.

Problem solved… not!

Sooner than you can say “Supercalifrackingisreallybadfortheenvironment”  I found myself embroiled in an inner battle to come up with working titles for my three novels in progress.  Woe was me, though, as all the good titles have already been taken by far better novelists.  But being the problem solver I am, I resolved that issue by titling my three respective novels,  “Read This”, “Read This: Volume II“, and “Read This: Volume III”.  

Problem solved…. not!

Next problem I faced as a novelist was coming up with a gripping/compelling/memorable opening sentence.  After all, everyone who is anyone knows that all the best books have a great opening sentence.  Trouble brewed once agains as the best sentence I could come up with was:


Fearful that “The” might not launch my  career the way say, “Call me Ishmael” launched what-his-name’s, I tacked on a few nouns and verbs to my ‘The”.   Lo and behold!  This act of constructing a complete sentence proved remarkably effective.  Before I knew it sentences began to accumulate on the pages before my eyes!  Mounds and mounds of paragraphs followed, turning into long chapters!  Enough chapters, in fact, that I had to order a printer from! Woo hoo!

Problem solved… not!

Chapters are all well and good, but as it turns out, on top of all the other tedious criteria I’d bumped into, turns out  novels are supposed to have  endings.  Well, guess what? All the good novel endings to all the best stories ever written have already been taken.  So, now I find myself in that uncomfortable literary stand-off.  Do I work really, really hard to come up with three endings to my three incomplete novels?  Or do I just leave them as is and forget about the endings  entirely?   I mean, come on.  Aren’t endings overrated anyway? 

For instance, to harken back to some literary classics – in Peter Benchley’s Jaws, did we really neeeeeeeeed to know what happened to the shark after Quint got swallowed whole and the boat began to sink?  No.   And in The Exorcist, did we really neeeeeeeed to know that the creepy girl with the spinning head was able to spit demons out of her throat and resume normal life as a teenager who just happened to have been possessed by the Devil himself?  Nooooooo. And in Into Thin Air do we really neeeeed to know that all of the climbers on Mount Everest actually make it to the summit unharmed only to discover there is a White Castle drive-thru up there at 28,000 feet?  Nooooooooo.

Let’s be honest.  Once an ending is established in a novel, all the possibilities are squashed.  Where’s the fun in that?

So, at this point in my hearty endeavor to become a bona fide novelist, I’m focusing solely on the beginning and middle of my works- in-progress, and am most likely going to just leave the endings off entirely.  Who am I to be so presumptuous as to tell anyone how a story ends, right? Much better to make them pay $ 26.00 for a book that leaves them hanging, if not slightly baffled… if not completely inclined to sue me and the publisher I don’t have.

Problem solved….totally!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take a break from writing the beginnings and middles of my three novels and hit the local White Castle…


(see how cliché that is?)









As the Academy Awards® roll around and those of us who get into such things begin the mad dash to the cinemas to catch up on seeing all the nominated films, it occurs to me that, despite all the pomp and circumstance of the Oscars… despite all the golden statuettes handed over to all those big name Hollywood stars, there is a never an award given out for the best Extra.


For Extras are the nameless, faceless, and often union-less master thespians without whom most movies could not exist – the throngs of unappreciated actors and actresses who work in the backgrounds of pretty much ever major movie worth seeing these days. They are the brave souls getting hit with the flying bullets in our favorite mafia movies. The intense thinkers in the jury boxes of our favorite legal thrillers. The gadget-laden space people dodging asteroids in our favorite alien movies. The stethoscope-wearing doctors and nurses healing the sick in our favorite hospital movies. They are the shriekers getting their limbs chopped off in our favorite horror films, and the weepers in our favorite romantic comedies.

Yes, as far as I’m concerned, background players are the unsung heroes of cinema. For without them, prison riots cannot happen. Funeral scenes cannot happen. Wedding scenes cannot happen. Mass chainsaw murders cannot happen.

That being said, it is my hope that this year, the Academy will find a way to honor at least one artist with a golden statuette of his or her very own. This film year was a year of fabulous crowd scenes, disaster scenes, courtroom scenes, war scenes, mob scenes, dance scenes, and sporting event scenes. And without the highly skilled Extras who made those scenes possible, I dare say many of the nominees for Best Film this year would not be in the running.

For what would Lincoln be without that band of hopeful background abolitionists? What would Silver Linings Playbook be without the gaggle of football fans gathered in the tailgating scene? And what, pray tell, would Zero Dark Thirty be without all those brave souls willing to play terrorists? Would The Impossible have seemed so impossible without all those extras getting swept up in the tidal waves? Would Django have been able to get unchained without the support of all those slaves willing to rise up for the righteous? And would Les Miserables be quite so miserable were it not for all the miserable people in the background.

I think not!

So, for a moment, let us pause and imagine that there is a special award to be given out on February 24th, 2013 for Best Performance By An Extra. And let us imagine, for a moment, that this is the speech we would hear from the lucky winner, Ms. Jane Doe:

(Jane Doe arrives at the podium after an awkward forty-five minute walk from the back of the auditorium to the stage to receive her award. She is wearing a gown from the Hillary Duff clothing collection sold at participating Wal-marts. She is crying tears of joy.)

“Oh… Oh my god. I just can’t believe… wow. I’ve won the Oscar! I’ve dreamt of this moment since I was a fetus, and wow, geez, I just can’t believe it’s finally happening.

(Audience says a collective ‘awwwwww”)

First off, I’d like to say that it is an honor just to have been nominated. But now that I’ve won, well, I have to say that the nomination thing sort of pales in comparison. (Pointing to the other nominees in the category.) As for you losers… ha ha. I don’t mean that. You’re not losers. I mean, well, yeah, actually you are losers tonight, (winks at the camera) but you know what I mean. Seriously though, I loved all your work this year. And I just want to tell you it’s an honor to share this category with you. Myra- your work as Osama bin Laden’s 12th wife in Zero Dark Thirty was nothing short of captivating. Larry – you blew me away with your role as Crazed Eagles Fan #42 in Silver Linings Playbook . Ricky? Your role as drowning tourist #201,000 in The Impossible, was breathtaking. John – your work as Civil War Amputee brought tears to my eyes. Martha- you were a master in The Master, as Cult Lady # 4. And Wanda – I had no idea you could play a fish like that in Life of Pi.

(holding up award proudly) You, my fellow nominees! I share this award with all of you. But I’m taking it home. Sorry. ha ha!

(audience laughs)

Um…. (fumbling for speech in her cleavage) I had no idea I was going to win here tonight… I mean, oh my god… I just can’t believe… geez. Wow… Um. There are so many people to thank. Um… First off, I’d like to thank the Academy. This award means that, after all those years of studying the Stanislavski Method… training at HB Studios… auditioning for all the hottest extra roles out there… well, I guess I’ve finally made it. So thank you. As Sally Fields said, “You like me! You like me!”

(Audience laughs and claps.)

Um. I’d also like to thank Jesus, who has blessed me with this award tonight.

(Audience claps again, and a few people shout out ‘Amen”)

Um… oh gosh, this is just so overwhelming. Um. Thank you also goes to my acting teachers. My dermatologist. My dentist, for giving me this beautiful set of porcelain veneers. My dry cleaner. The man on the bus who pulled the piece of toilet paper off the back of my skirt. My husband, who has been so understanding when i’m away for all those long minutes working on movie sets. All my friends who have paid full price to see my movies… (holds up her middle finger to the camera) And that’s for those friends of mine who were big, fat, cheapskate jerks waiting for my movies to come out on DVD.

(Audience laughs and boos)

Wow! I just can’t believe I’m up here, ya know? Truth is, there were times in my career when I just didn’t think I was gonna make it, ya know? Getting fired from playing a Fava bean in The Silence of the Lambs cost me two agents and a publicist. And then there was the time I almost got beheaded for real in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. And the time Mr. Tom “I’ve Broken Oscar Records” Hanks kicked me off the set of Forest Gump for eating that stupid box of chocolates? Well, here I am!

You said I could’t do it, but I’m a SURVIVOR!

(Audience applauds.)

Um… uh…. (Jane Doe begins crying) I’d like to dedicate this award to my parents who couldn’t be here tonight because they’re dead.

(audience is now crying with her, fully aware that Jane Doe’s parents were killed recently in the line of duty when filming “Jaws: Part XXIII”)

But Dad, if you are watching from up there, (pounding her heart with her fist and looks up to Heaven), it was your performance as Stormtrooper # 140 in Star Wars… and your amazing performance, Mom, (pounding her fist against her heart again and blowing a kiss up to Heaven) as the cat in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.… that inspired me to go into this crazy extra business. Your strength and dedication to the craft of background work is what got me through this difficult movie project, and I just hope I’ve made you proud here tonight.

(Audience claps and cheers)

That’s right, Mom and Dad. A faulty mechanical shark may have taken your bodies, but your hearts are here with me always!

(Audience stands up and cheers loudly.)

No, no, please. Take your seats.

(audience takes their seats obediently)

I also dedicate this award to my Gramma, whose was robbed of her rightful win for this award seventy-two years ago for her amazing performance as the Gust of Wind in Gone With the Wind.

(Audience gasps, remembering Gramma Doe’s outstanding performance)


(Audience claps and gives another ovation.)


(Audience gasps defensively, then sits down as the orchestra begins playing.)

Wait! Stop playing!

(Producer comes out on stage and tries to remove Jane Doe from the podium. She clings to the podium with her left hand and smacks the producer over the head with her Oscar. Producer is knocked unconscious, falls to the ground, and is kicked into the orchestra pit by Jane Doe, who proceeds with her speech.)

Lastly, I want to thank the cast and crew and everyone involved with the making of the best movie made this year: Piranha 3DD.

(Audience hoots and hollers, confirming once and for all that “Piranha 3DD” was, in fact, the best movie of the year.)

Playing Buxom Piranha Victim # 465 was the role of a lifetime for me, and… (crying once again) I just thank you all so very much for the honor and privilege of being a part of this cinematic wonder. And unlike some people I know, I performed this tour de force without doping…

(Orchestra begins playing again as about six other producers come on stage, along with twenty armed Navy Seals, to remove Jane Doe from the podium)

Oh, I see my time is running out. Must dash! Thank you all so very much. I love you! I love you! (being dragged away by the neck now) And please remember to follow me on Twitter!