28 November, 2010

A Fistful Of Titles

Do you want the truth? Can you handle the truth?

I have been asked by one of my newer readers about the titles I attach to my posts - whether those posts be essays, images, or quotes. To that person, the titles seemed familiar - yet somehow a little random. They couldn't quite figure it out.

They aren't, and it's become something of an intellectual game for me. With only a single exception, each of the roughly 100 titles used so far begins with a movie title - which I then change in some fashion.

Those changes usually reflect minor tweaks of the original title - an added word or the substitution of a rhyming word. Sometimes the number of syllables is important to me, and on other occasions it's the rhythm of the phrase or the first letter of a word. If the change is too large (such that no one would recognize the movie title behind my title), then I look for another.

That's not to say the selected movie titles are always obvious to everyone, but once you know that there is a game behind the titles, the movies start to become more conspicuous. I wouldn't be honest, however, if I didn't admit that part of the game for me has been to see if and when folks would notice. And who might notice.

I did have one reader ask me if I ever used a title from a movie whose theme or plot related directly to the theme of my post. There is no good reason why I might not, but when that has almost happened (and it has), the title usually works for my post without any changes to it. I see less creative exercise in that, and therefore, it is less enjoyable for me.

What happens more often is there is a movie title that works for my post without any alteration - sometimes really well - even though the movie's content is unrelated. That's a greater temptation and frustrating, but to use the title unchanged would mean being unfaithful to my original concept.

The success of my title tweaking varies. Some titles are far better than others, and there are a few with which I am very pleased. Some, to be candid, are simply too much of a stretch. There may come a day, of course, when I have depleted the catalog of easily usable titles - although given the number of movies released each year, that is hard to imagine. Or ... I may simply tire of the game.

For now, however, the game is afoot.

By the way, can you find the one title that is not a movie title?


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