I did not see Boogie Nights, so my introduction to Heather Graham was her role as CIA agent Felicity Shagwell in the second Austin Powers movie. And, I hate to say it, but I thought she was the movie’s weakest link.
Why do I hate to say it? Look at that punim. She's so pretty and seems like a lovely, nice, harmless person, doesn’t she? As I was watching the movie, I felt kind of bad for her, like she was out of her league. She didn’t quite have the edge to play a CIA agent, even in a comedy. When I saw her on screen, I didn’t think highly trained government spy; I thought la la la la la la la giggle giggle.
I was so relieved when I loved her in The Hangover. She was adorable as the sweet, naïve stripper.
My career advice to her: less action roles, more fluff.
That, however, is the exact opposite advice I would give the word stuff.
(No rhyme intended)
As an action word, stuff is brilliant. It's such a strong, descriptive verb:
Austin Power's suitcase was full, but he still managed to stuff in his Swedish penis enlarger.
Using stuff shows the reader how desperate he was to take the penis enlarger along. You can almost see the sweat dripping off his brow as he's trying to get the zipper to close around (groan) the (grunt) pump. Phew! Got it!
It was a tight fit, but Austin Powers stuffed his ....
Oh, never mind.
As a noun, however, stuff does nothing for me. It sounds so cheap. One of my students just used stuff in an essay describing her wonderful mother:
My mother has done so much stuff for me over the years.
Stuff! Really? Is that the best you can do? It makes all her mother's wisdom, kindness and support seem so ordinary and blah.
In fact, in the sentence above, simply taking out stuff would make the sentence sound better.
I know that I have warned against using absolute words, but here I go: when it comes to choosing nouns, we can always do better than stuff.
Am I being too stuffy?