30 Days Minus 2 of Writing, Day 15: or else

My head is spinning.

I feel exactly like Linda Blair in The Exorcist after 15 days of participating in "30 Days Minus 2 of Writing."

I feel exactly like Linda Blair in The Exorcist after 15 days of participating in “30 Days Minus 2 of Writing.”

Not literally, like that demon-possessed girl’s head did in The Exorcist right before she upchucked all over the room. That was gross and scary, and I would never do that. Besides, my neck is so stiff most of the time I can barely look left and right, let alone face north while looking south.

I mean “my head is spinning” metaphorically. As in, My head is spinning like the basket in a washing machine when it’s on the spin cycle.

Wait, that’s a simile.

Anyway, what was I talking about?

My head is spinning. Why?

Oh, today’s prompt, Or Else. I spent 7 and a half hours thinking about it last night, and I can’t imagine a writing scenario in which I’d use “or” and “else” next to one another. It just isn’t right. Consider this example from a dramatic screenplay I’m working on about a high school English teacher turned professional superhero bowler:

Masked man, brandishing a handgun in a bank: This is a robbery! Everybody give me your money, or else!

Pudgy man, holding a flaming red, 20-pound bowling ball: Or else what?

Masked man: Give me your cash, or else I’ll shoot you.

Pudgy man: You don’t need the “else” in that sentence.

Masked: What!?

Pudgy: The ‘else’ is totally unnecessary. You can just say, ‘Give me your money, or I’ll shoot you.’ It’s the same for me. I could say, Put down the gun, or else I’ll throw this bowling ball at you. But it’s better to say, Put down the gun, or I’ll throw this bowling ball at you.

By the way, put down the gun, or I’ll throw this bowling ball at you.

Masked: Oh, right, you’re going to bowl me to death. And what are you, a high school English teacher? Shut up!

Pudgy: How do you know I’m not a superhero whose superpower is hurling bowling balls at supersonic speeds?

Masked: Look, give me your cash, or I’m going to pop a cap in your fat ass.

Security guard, quickly sneaking up behind the masked robber with his service revolver: Drop the gun, or I’ll blow your head off!

Pudgy: Excuse me, but you shouldn’t end your sentence with the word ‘off.’ It’s incorrect to end a sentence with a preposition.

Security guard: What!?

Pudgy: Well, I don’t mean to be picky, but to be grammatically correct, you should say, ‘Drop the gun, or I’ll blow off your head.’

Security: That sounds stupid! Nobody talks like that!

Pudgy: Maybe so, but it’s correct.

Masked: Is everybody here fucking nuts?

Pudgy: No, clearly we’re not fucking nuts, if that’s even possible, which I highly doubt. We were robbed, and now we’re discussing grammar.

Masked: I don’t want to discuss grammar!

Pudgy: I don’t, either. I want to go bowling. But you started this mess, not me.

I went through writing scenario after writing scenario like this last night, desperately trying to figure out if there was a correct way to use or and else together. But the scenes always ended up like this one. Botched.

It’s driving me insane.


I’m not sure what’s wrong with me, but there’s got to be a connection between my problems and this writing competition sponsored by Nicky and Mike over at We Work For Cheese. For more responses to today’s prompt, visit them now, or else.

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21 thoughts on “30 Days Minus 2 of Writing, Day 15: or else

  1. You can never be too up on your grammar. Because you may end up as a tutor for illiterate adults and be asked about grammar rules all the time, and then you may realize how difficult it is to explain linking verbs while holding chalk in front of a sea of orange jumpsuits.

    So if you could write a script for that, I’d be much obliged.

    • I could, actually. Would you mind if the prisoners were women? I love movies about women behind bars. If you’d like, I’ll write you into the script as the hot teacher who gets held captive during a prison riot and subjected to all sorts of indecencies. That would be some good movie-making.

    • I couldn’t agree more, Nora.

      On an unrelated note, I cannot comment on your blog using any computer or mobile computing device I own, and I own several. I am, however, reading along like everybody else.

      • I don’t know why my blog does that to you. However, if you leave a comment, it does show up. It just sticks it in my spam folder. I intentionally check the spam because your fabulous comments should be read by the world.

        • Oh! That’s good news. I also discovered something else just now, and that’s that I can leave comments on your blog using Google Chrome instead of IE or Firefox or Safari.

          I tried it on P.J.’s and Nathanael’s blogs, however, and it didn’t work.

          Computers are mystifying.

  2. Oh, man, Mike it really sucks to be you. You’ve really over thought this – more than the rest of us. Me I would have explained it as follows. There are two pretty girls, Beverly and Elsie. Who would you rather ask out? Bev or Else? Ya see. It works!

  3. The only thing worse than the fashion police are the grammar police.

    Am I the real life person that you are basing your screen play on? (Oops, I ended my sentence in a preposition.) If I am the inspiration for your English teacher character, my super power is not bowling. Just wanted to clarify that.

    • You were on my mind when I was writing this, especially when I needed to know what a preposition is and why you can’t end a sentence with one. I never took grammar in school.

      Uh, I’m afraid to ask, but what is your superpower?

    • Absurd, anyway. I was so tired I just wrote down what popped into my head. Thank god it wasn’t what normally pops into my head.

  4. While this is an exceptional piece of writing, Michael, I’m a little disappointed that your head isn’t literally spinning. More than a little disappointed, really.

  5. Oh, Mike…your cleverness is showing again. The absurdity of this scene was just admirably funny. It would be great to see this bank robbery scene play out in some graphic novel with gritty visuals.

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