Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

It's My Crypt Tonight

Everyone, no matter how tough or how fictional he or she is, has a weakness. For some, it may be a physical weakness or vulnerability. For others, it might be behavioral (e.g. too trusting of others) or something they’re no good at. Or, it could simply be something they’re powerless to resist, such as chocolate, or reality TV.

Achilles’ fatal flaw is legendary: Though the rest of him was impervious to pretty much everything, his heel was surprisingly vulnerable to poisoned arrows. Likewise, everyone knows Superman’s biggest weakness: people whose first and last name both start with the letter L (i.e. Lois Lane, Lana Lang, Lex Luther, Louis L’Amour).

I believe the most amusing discovery of a character’s shortcomings may be from Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, when Officer Palumbo says, upon being shot: “Bullets! My only weakness! How did you know?”

For easy reference, I’ve compiled a short list of some other famous weaknesses:

Adam & EveTalking snakes
Green LanternWood. Or the color yellow. Yes, seriously.
Humbert HumbertPrepubescent girls
James BondHas his martinis shaken, which bruises the gin
Keanu ReevesEmotion; can only convincingly pull off “Whoa.”
King HippoLeaves his stomach unguarded when he jabs
King MidasGreed; everything he touches turns to mufflers
Marty McFlyBeing compared to chickens. Or the color yellow.
Pedro CerranoCan’t hit a curveball
Pinky & the BrainWhere are they going to find a moose wearing rubber pants at this hour?
Sarah PalinWhen mouth opens, words come out
Sherlock HolmesThe loving embrace of the neighborhood opium den
VampiresSunlight, garlic, crosses, holy water
Vampires (modern era)Mopey teenage girls
Wicked Witch of the WestPersonal hygiene.1

When it comes to writing, I know many of you liken me to a god, the way my words flow so effortlessly from my pen.2 Not that I use a pen. Nor do the words so much flow as they spit and sputter, inconsistently and with great effort, like I’m summoning the dregs from the bottom of a liquid soap dispenser. Nevertheless, many of you put my work up on a pedestal.3

Yet I am not infallible. Last week, in fact, I learned my greatest weakness as a writer: Setting.

I can interject a sentence or two of description here and there to help highlight a scene's location, but anything beyond that and the writing becomes dull and stilted; the story crumbles. My strengths are in the characters, the action, the dialogue. For an exercise on setting for my writing workshop this past week, I tried writing three different stories five different ways, and came out with fifteen different pieces of crap. Each time, although I could picture the setting quite vividly in my own mind, on paper it read like a 6th grade book report. And not a good one.

I’ll work at it. Eventually, my descriptions of settings may become passable and enhance the other aspects of my writing. But the important thing is that I’m now fully aware of my weakness. Thus, until I get this chink in my armor buffed out, you likely won’t catch me writing any long, descriptive passages.

In other words, I’ll be keeping my Achilles’ heel far, far away from your poisonous arrows.

1 That’s what happens when you can’t bathe and you surround yourself with monkeys.
2 Some of you, on the other hand, liken me to lichen.
3 Up there, no one can read it.


  1. Perhaps you are a lesser god, such as Amphitrite, Charon, Aosopus, or Dionysus. This doesn't mean, however, that you are going to be spending copious amounts of time hobnobbing up on Mount Olympus, so don't get too comfy in Zeus' chair.

    This may mean, however, that you could produce the children of a lesser god, and as all know, Marlee Matlin always ends up winning the Academy Award when that scenario presents itself!

  2. I meant to say this a while ago, but wow... all that just to get to that one horrible joke. That is totally something I would do.

    Sir, I applaud you.