Create your balance. Design your life.

Musing #26: Shooting SERGEANT ZAYDIE (Which Sounds Terrible)

I love me my word play. (My guru Carrie Fisher is a master of it!) But I also love me my grammar.

(See what I did there? I crack myself up.)

My original, sans-parenthetical title was most certainly not composed with a deliberate double entendre. The dark reality of my inadvertent word play became apparent to me only after the first time I spoke the original title aloud. As the added parenthetical editorializes, the original title sounds terrible.

But “shooting” is the correct term for what I did. And what I shot was my first film, SERGEANT ZAYDIE. “Zaydie” is the Yiddish term for grandfather, and my paternal grandfather’s peculiar infantry service in the European theater of World War II is the subject of this documentary film.

Still, the fact remains. The original blog title sounds terrible, which is precisely why proper application of the rules of English grammar are so vital, particularly in this disgusting era of Internet-justified mass linguistic peasantry. Note the difference:

A)    Shooting SERGEANT ZAYDIE (This is the proper formatting for a title in the English language, dating to the no-font-option days of typewriters.)

B)    Shooting Sergeant Zaydie (Suddenly, I’m riffing on SAVING PRIVATE RYAN and shooting my own beloved grandfather.)

Honestly, I could go on and on and on about the shabby 21st-century state of the epically beautiful English language. But no one reading this column for what I sincerely hope is fun wants a damn grammar lesson, and I know it.

Suffice it to say that one of the reasons I so love the rules of grammar is that my command of them is exactly what makes me a fantastic legal secretary. (If I do say so myself.) That particular skill of mine is what has always financially facilitated my ongoing steerage of Scylla and Charybdis.

Permit me to offer a big-sisterly suggestion to the aspiring starving artists of New York’s tomorrow:

If there is a market anywhere in the world for whatever your weirdest talent happens to be, it’s here. Know what it is that you do better than most, and employ it for the sake of employment…EVEN IF IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOUR ULTIMATE GOAL. At the very least, be creative about ways to pay for life in this wonderful, exorbitant town. Most New Yorkers are something other than what they do. There is no shame in it.

I wield my command of the English language in order to pay for my life. It sure beats waiting tables. Here’s a Tweet proving just how passionate is my love of grammar:


And below are two more relevant Tweets. Well, three Tweets, if you’ll pardon the indulgence. Dolph Lundgren is just never not funny to someone of my generation. Read from the bottom up, of course:


Words are so damn cool!

I’m totally stalling, here, in case you couldn’t tell.

You: “No kidding. This English lesson is a nightmare. When does the film shoot come into it?!?”

Alas, here’s the truth of the matter…

I have spent all day writing this post. But, ultimately, I cannot post any of what I’ve written. What came out of my fingertips as I composed turned out to be precisely the text I’ve been intending to write for the narration of SERGEANT ZAYDIE. As such, I would do my film irreparable harm by sharing its secrets in this medium.

Oh, how the challenge of Scylla and Charybdis steerage functions on multiple levels!

But I’ll not leave you totally hanging, dear readers! Film is, fundamentally, a visual art form, is it not? Thus, here’s presenting a sneak peek at some of the raw images from my cinematic directorial debut, SERGEANT ZAYDIE:


Me, Directing (Nervously)


Want an explanation? See the film!


Baba (Yiddish term for grandmother), Rolling Her Eyes at Zaydie’s Trademark “Dirty Old Soldier” Routine


Me, Setting a Shot (More Confident By Now)


Sergeant Stripes


Nazi Dagger, Spoil of War


Closeup, Reich Eagle on Hilt of Nazi Dagger

Cool, right?!? I’ve got lots I intend to teach with this film. And it’s all just too special to spoil here. But if you’re interested in my thoughts on the unrivaled power of film as teaching mechanism, tune in next Friday.

Until then, sorry for the deflection! But prepare for the coming of SERGEANT ZAYDIE, and “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”



  1. Your grandfather has a Nazi Dagger? I hope you write about that in the future.


  1. Musing #30: Oscar, LeVine Style (Teach Your Children Well, Part IV) - Work Life Balance Protection Agency | Work Life Balance Protection Agency - […] of Musing #29: THE GRADUATE and The Evil of Censorship. The following shall conclude my film-based “Teach Your Children…
  2. Musing #31: Bizarro King Lear and The Port Chicago Disaster - Work Life Balance Protection Agency | Work Life Balance Protection Agency - […] clearance arranged for by Mad Dad on the grounds of his father’s WWII service (the subject of my in-post-production…
  3. Musing #33: Hollywood Blind Items Have Poisoned My Soul (or, Part of Your World) - Work Life Balance Protection Agency | Work Life Balance Protection Agency - […] think the items were about my sorry ass! But that’s the thing. These are tales of film industry denizens, and…
  4. Musing #45: The Limey Election, as Told by Yanks (and 1.5 Canucks) - Work Life Balance Protection Agency | Work Life Balance Protection Agency - […] he still be allowed to exercise that right? … I also feel that, as a veteran with two sons…

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: