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With the Right Software, Who Cares About Story?

Rita Ractliffe of Van Nuys thinks she may have found the source for some of the ridiculous story lines on TV and in the movies. A company placed an ad in a weekly newspaper for software aimed at those writers who want to concoct “seemless” plots (see accompanying).

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TURNING TO GOOD WRITING: The 16th edition of “Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations” includes these bits of movie dialogue:

* “A boy’s best friend is his mother.” (“Psycho,” screenwriter Joseph Stefano)

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* “Ben, I want to say one word to you, just one word--plastics.” (“The Graduate,” screenwriters Buck Henry and Calder Willingham.)

* “Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.” (“Klondike Annie,” screenwriter Mae West.)

* “Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.” (“All About Eve,” screenwriter Joesph Mankiewicz.)

* “One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I’ll never know.” (“Animal Crackers,” screenwriter Morrie Ryskind.)

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* “Maybe just whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.” (“To Have and Have Not,” screenwriters Jules Furthman and William Faulkner.)

I don’t know why exactly, but that last line, uttered by Lauren Bacall, has always been my favorite.

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OF ALL THE INSULTED CITIES . . .: While the Bartlett’s index lists quotations about such cities as New York, Chicago and San Francisco, there are none for L.A. Guess this is still a minor league city.

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But the book does contain comic Fred Allen’s wisecrack, “California’s a wonderful place to live--if you happen to be an orange.”

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A SEAMY PLOT? On a whale watching cruise out of Marina del Rey, Evelyn DePoister of Santa Monica noticed a sign that I find disturbing (see photo). I mean, whatever happened to the old sailors’ dictum that in the event of an emergency, it’s women, children and humor columnists into the lifeboats first?

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CATCH OF THE DAY: In a story on offbeat local occupations, the L.A. Downtown News discussed the career possibilities of being a dead-fish plucker.

Mike Weiss of the Westwood-based Job Factory told the newspaper that after a shipment of fish arrives in this country, someone is needed to wade into an industrial tank and remove the critters that have perished. Without a plucker, Weiss noted, “the other fishes will eat the dead fish until their bellies burst.”

Pay: About $50 per day. Don’t even ask about lunch.

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WHAT TURKEY CHOSE THAT ONE? On Monday, Tom Bratter, this column’s radio expert, was listening to KGIL-AM (1260)--"Your Station for Memories"--when it aired a commercial that said, “Bloomingdale’s after-Thanksgiving sale--going on now, ends Sunday, Nov. 29.”

Noted Bratter: “It’s only 4 months old but I guess that would qualify as a memory.”

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As for the “don’t kiss your reptile” warning to pet owners printed here, Jerry Parsons wrote: “I, too, would think such a warning would be unnecessary, but that is not the most superfluous sign dealing with reptiles I have seen.

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“In a public park in Florida, I came across a sign next to a pond that said, ‘Do not feed the alligators.’ Right next to this sign was another that said, ‘No Swimming.’ I think the first sign pretty well covers both situations.”


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