By-line: (n) a printed line of text accompanying a news story

During a season when I was writing some screenplays for small, independent films, I realized it was necessary to come up with a “crafty” title, which was then coyly explained through a by-line.

Without the by-line, the title might appear to be obtuse or inaccessible. Of course, the by-line doesn’t give away the plot, but it does let you know what adventures lie ahead.

Many parts of our society should have clever titles, but also an informative by-line. Without the by-line, the name of the company, the idea, the movie or the business can often be clumped with other unremarkable but similar endeavors.

Case in point–“hamburger joint” is not a name, but rather, a condescending attitude about the lack of originality in fast food. So McDonald’s not only offers a signature, but also tells you how many billions they have served. Burger King wants you to know you can ‘have it your way.” And Wendy’s advertises square burgers.

But think about it: since the words “liberal, conservative, Republican, Democrat, Christian” and even “American” do not immediately evoke a common understanding, it becomes necessary to introduce a by-line. For instance:

Liberal: we give a damn about people.

Conservative: we want to keep the government out of your everything.

Republican: we believe the people should have freedom–all of them.

Democrat: we believe it’s up to the people who have much to give much.

Christian: you know…Jesus.

American: I love my country as long as my country is loving.

We need a by-line.

Just the other day, somebody asked me if anyone ever calls me a fat person. I replied, “They sure do. But I always give them my by-line: Fat but still gettin’ around, not complaining and trying to make the world a better place.”

Join us daily for a personal take on the words from the dictionary beginning with aardvark.

Published by Jonathan Cring