Almost Plausible

Ep. 3

Chicken Noodle Soup

15 February 2022

Runtime: 00:39:22

What’s more comforting than chicken noodle soup? Whether it’s homemade or out of a can, there’s just something about it that we all love. In this week’s episode, chicken noodle soup steps into the spotlight. Once again we accidentally pitch a few existing movies, but we don’t chicken out, and eventually settle on an idea that we all feel is just as comforting as the soup at the center of the plot.

References

Transcript

[Intro music begins]

[Thomas]
Well, we know the idea works then.

[Emily]
I like the idea, if it’s the same chicken.

[Thomas]
I was like, how do we do that?

[Emily]
You make it just the last chicken.

[Thomas]
Exactly. It’s been living in their truck the whole time. They didn’t know. No, it’s been living in their car because their car is a coupe.

[Shep]
Booo!

[Emily]
That one gets a gold star.

[Shep]
Alright. He got his pun out of the way for the episode.

[Intro music]

[Thomas]
Hello, story fans. Welcome to Almost Plausible, the podcast where we take ordinary ideas and try to turn them into stories. I’m joined in this endeavor by my wonderfully creative co-hosts, Emily-

[Emily]
Hey.

[Thomas]
And F. Paul Shepard.

[Shep]
How are you doing?

[Thomas]
This week’s idea is a classic comfort food, at least it is in North America, chicken noodle soup. We start each episode with a pitch session to see what ideas everyone has come up with. We’ll choose our favorite idea and then hopefully come up with a story that’s at least almost plausible. I’ll get us going this week. My ideas for chicken noodle soup are that for whatever reason, the soup has magical properties. I was thinking something along the lines of Like Water for Chocolate or The Ramen Girl. Perhaps it gives the people who eat it perfect clarity on an issue they’re struggling with or allows them to relive a happy moment from their childhood. Maybe it even allows people to see a small glimpse of the future.

[Shep]
I like that one. I can imagine that, like a magical old person type situation where they make the soup and you go in to talk to them and complain about whatever problem you’re having. And while you’re eating the soup-

[Thomas]
Yeah.

[Shep]
Then you come up with, “Oh, that’s… That clarity. I see. The issue wasn’t with my daughter, it was with me. I was the asshole.”

[Emily]
Medium with a soup recipe. I like it.

[Thomas]
My next idea is a comedy about a small town that holds a street fair every autumn where one of the main events is the annual chicken noodle soup contest. The story would focus on a cast of off the wall characters who all have their own reasons for wanting to win. We see the depths they’ll sink to just to hold the title of best chicken noodle soup in the county.

[Emily]
And see, I like that one because I came up with almost the exact same idea.

[Shep]
Yeah. There are a couple of movies that are like this. There’s one movie, the butter carving…

[Thomas]
Butter is what it’s called. My final idea is a woman reminisces on her life while caring for her daughter, who is home sick from school. As she prepares and serves chicken noodle soup, she thinks back to when her mother did the same thing for her and later taught her how to prepare the classic dish. She recalls how early on when dating her husband, she invited him over for dinner and made chicken noodle soup. Perhaps there’s a war and she helps soldiers convalesce with her soup. Chicken noodle soup may not play a super critical role in this story, but it acts as a touchstone for many of the important events in her life.

[Shep]
I can see that one. If it’s kind of different points in her life where it’s chicken noodle soup so people react differently to it. Perhaps her daughter doesn’t like it and complains to the mom that it’s salty or it’s watery or whatever. But she has all these positive menus… (menus?) positive memories about chicken noodle soup. This particular recipe of chicken noodle soup, her husband, her departed husband, he loved it. Was he lying to her? Was he just saying that? So all the times that she’s made chicken noodle soup for her husband over the years, he didn’t like it and he was just being polite. The only one who was ever honest with her was her daughter.

[Emily]
I was thinking more along the lines of it would be sort of like a story where she’s at the end of her life, her daughter’s making it for her. Like, she’s got Alzheimer’s or whatever. Her daughter’s making her chicken noodle soup, and that’s bringing back some of the touchstone memories for her throughout her life.

[Thomas]
I like that. That’s good.

[Emily]
And so you can do it very disconnected, too, and make it more like how Alzheimer’s works, where you’re in time and place randomly.

[Shep]
Yeah, I like that as a framing device.

[Thomas]
Yeah. I think another benefit of that is that you can still have that moment where the daughter doesn’t like the soup-

[Emily]
Yeah.

[Thomas]
And then later comes around on it.

[Emily]
And then she makes real- You’re just going to end up sobbing at the end of this movie because of the beauty of the soup. Yeah.

[Shep]
Yeah. That’s the goal. The audience’s tears gives us our terrible power.

[Thomas]
Yeah, exactly.

[Emily]
Yes. Helps make our broth.

[Thomas]
The secret is they’re actually making tears soup, and we want it really salty. Well, those are the ones that I came up with.

[Emily]
I’m going to start with the repeat, just to get that one out of the way. I have a small Arkansas town famous for the chickens they raise. The community leaders get together to organize the Great American Chicken Noodle Soup Off, and they invite the best chefs and winners of regional amateur competitions to attend. The contest ends up being between a famous TV chef, firefighter, stay at home mom, and a couple of other random characters. And it could be mockumentary style, like A Mighty Wind or like a straight movie, like Extract or Butter.

[Shep]
I can see that going either way.

[Emily]
Yeah. I think it could be as hilarious and quirky either way. I think.

[Thomas]
I think mockumentary is a really good framing for that.

[Emily]
Yeah. Because then you’re also selling the town. Like, not only are you selling chicken noodle soup, you’re selling the town. And I picked Arkansas because Arkansas is a large market for chicken growers. I don’t know if you knew that.

[Thomas]
I didn’t.

[Emily]
Tyson is headquartered there, I believe.

[Shep]
Well, there’s our funding. Let’s get this started. Skip all the other ideas. This one can make money and that’s what this is about.

[Emily]
Another one I have is basically think Hallmark original movie. Christmas movie, without the Christmas. Instead of Christmas, we replace it with chicken noodle soup. So a young workaholic suddenly struck ill due to stress. Something like chronic severe shingles outbreak causes him to have to take time off of work. And in that time that he takes off of work, he goes to visit his Nana, who raised him basically because his parents were absentee for one reason or another, because maybe they were workaholics or alcoholics or some tragic backstory.

[Shep]
I like if they’re workaholics because he’s a workaholic.

[Emily]
Yeah. I was thinking that was probably a good tie-in. And so they have a special bond. And so she makes him her homemade chicken noodle soup that always comforted him when he was little. And then he just starts to feel better right away. And she teaches him, finally teaches him the recipe and teaches him how to make it. So when he goes back to the big city to resume his job, every time we feel stressed out, he’ll make the soup and, calms and centers him. And then he’s able to continue on with his ways. And he tells a co-worker who’s struggling with some sort of stress related things like, “Well, I have this fabulous chicken noodle soup recipe. It’s going to save your life.” And then his co-worker is like, “Oh, this is amazing. We have to mass market this,” and they try to mass market it. Lots of things go wrong. And I don’t know. I want them to both be men and fall in love by the end of the movie and have it all be because chicken noodle soup. That’s as far as I got with that one. I kind of fizzled out at the end like most Hallmark movies do. It’s just like yadda-yadda-yadda, they fall in love, everybody’s happy.

[Shep]
What’s the, speaking of Hallmark Christmas movies with gay men, what’s the one this year? Single All the Way?

[Emily]
Yeah, I do actually really want to see that one.

[Shep]
Me too.

[Emily]
It looks cute.

[Shep]
It’s super cliche. It has zero surprises, you know, going in, how everything’s going to go.

[Emily]
Yeah, right. Just two men. It’s amazing,

[Shep]
Yeah, that’s a comfort movie. That’s a-

[Emily]
Right?

[Shep]
Chicken soup in movie form already exists.

[Emily]
That’s why I was thinking, if we’re making a chicken noodle soup movie, it’s got to be a Hallmark romance movie. And then my last one is, in a world lost to climate change in nuclear war, one man begins an epic journey to gather the ingredients for a pot of chicken noodle soup to save his daughter from certain death.

[Thomas]
It could even just be because he wants the soup.

[Emily]
Yeah, that’s true. Could just be he’s like, “You know what I miss? Chicken noodle soup. I’m going to fucking find everything I need to make chicken noodle soup.”

[Thomas]
Or could be for somebody that he’s interested in. Like, they’re like, “Man, I really miss chicken noodle soup.” And he’s like, “Here we go. I’ve got the plan.”

[Emily]
You can do it like Zombieland, where they’re just traveling across country trying to figure out where they can get the ingredients to make it because they’re, all resources are gone.

[Shep]
Yeah. One of the main ingredients is meat though. Where are you going to get meat?

[Emily]
That’s going to be the last part.

[Shep]
No, that’s his daughter. That’s what he raised his daughter for is to make soup. Just a modest proposal.

[Thomas]
It’s chick in noodle soup.

[Emily]
Chick in noodle soup.

[Shep]
Yeah, it’s in the title.

[Thomas]
I like the idea that they’re driving around and they see, because it’s been a thing the whole time, like “Where are we going to get chickens?” And then the first place they go to, there are like chickens walking around like, “Holy shit.” But then they can’t catch them, or there’s like, one. And they’re like, “My God, look.” So that’s like a thing that keeps popping up every once in a while. Every town they go to there’s a chicken, but they can never catch one, and it disappears. And they’re just like, “Where did it go?”

[Shep]
Yeah. That’s Zombieland. That’s, everywhere they went-

[Emily]
There were no Twinkies.

[Shep]
To look for twinkles, there were like an empty box where twinkies were.

[Thomas]
Well, we know the idea works then.

[Emily]
I like the idea, if it’s the same chicken.

[Thomas]
I was like, how do we do that?

[Emily]
You make it just the last chicken.

[Thomas]
Exactly. It’s been living in their truck the whole time. They didn’t know. No, it’s been living in their car because their car is a coupe.

[Shep]
Booo!

[Emily]
That one gets a gold star.

[Shep]
Alright. He got his pun out of the way for the episode.

[Thomas]
Shep, what do you have for us?

[Shep]
I had a very similar idea where the soup is magical or it has rare ingredients, magical ingredients, and/or a lost family recipe, both of which kind of already been pitched. Or possibly my third pitch, a chicken named noodle soup, who is destined for the pot, who was raised to be chicken noodle soup, who then learns what the purpose of his life is for. To be food. You know, for kids, like in an animated movie.

[Emily]
I’m going to burst this bubble. And this was made, and it was called Chicken Run.

[Thomas]
Oh, yeah.

[Shep]
Dang it.

[Emily]
But there was pie. They did go into pie.

[Thomas]
They went into food, though.

[Emily]
But they did. Yeah.

[Thomas]
Yeah, I forgot about that.

[Shep]
Coming up with ideas is hard.

[Emily]
I mean, Chicken Run was a really good idea. It takes place during World War II. There’s Royal Air Force chicken.

[Shep]
Yeah, I’ve seen it obviously because I’m pitching it.

[Emily]
Yeah.

[Thomas]
So you said earlier before we started recording, you hoped your subconscious was working on this all week. And it looks like it was.

[Shep]
Yes. Not in a good way. Original idea, subconscious, original!

[Emily]
I do like the idea if possibly the chicken makes, being aware of its new purpose in life, and four kids, realizes that the ultimate sacrifice of providing the meal for the farm family is the right thing to do and willingly goes into the pot.

[Shep]
Yeah, that was my intention was that they’re like, “You know, I had a good life. I had a better life…” Like, maybe it escapes from the farm and goes into the wild and discovers that wild animals are freaking starving all the time and living in constant fear of being eaten. And it’s just an awful, horrible life.

[Emily]
See, that’s different enough.

[Shep]
So which one of these do we want to go with?

[Thomas]
Yeah. I was just going to ask, what are we liking?

[Shep]
I like the Alzheimer’s lady.

[Emily]
Yeah, I like the touchstone of chicken noodle soup throughout the life. I think that one’s got legs.

[Shep]
I’d like it if it’s as Emily said, if you use that Alzheimer’s as a framing device where she constantly feels like she’s moving through time, you know, perhaps triggered by smelling the chicken noodle soup. She walks into the kitchen, and then it’s the past. And so it takes her a moment to figure out what’s going on.

[Emily]
Right? Yeah. I like the idea of the whole movie is her daughter preparing the soup to feed her and she walks in and she hears her like, chopping and, chopping the celery or whatever, and that harkens her back to her mom or something. We can start out very linear.

[Thomas]
Well, I think you have some really nice edits there, like you said, walking into the kitchen and literally it’s like you cut on her, going through the doorway, and then suddenly it’s the 1940s or whatever.

[Shep]
Do we see her as an old woman at the beginning, or is that a twist that she’s old and these are her memories?

[Thomas]
If you’re going to do jumping through time, I think you need to do it where you know what’s going on.

[Shep]
Do you need to know what’s going on from the beginning?

[Thomas]
I guess if you’re doing it linearly, you don’t.

[Emily]
You can frame it in a way where it doesn’t have to be known right away. Like you just see somebody preparing chicken noodle soup and an old woman walking in.

[Thomas]
That’s true. It could just be the daughter making soup for the mom and they’re talking and like, you never give away in their interactions that she has Alzheimer’s. You just see that there are things that are reminding her of her life.

[Emily]
Right? Yeah. And they can jump. They can still jump. And then at the end you can have it be like she says to her daughter, “Thanks, Mama,” or something like that.

[Thomas]
Yeah. Make it more clear that that’s what’s been going on this whole time.

[Shep]
Wait, who’s saying, “Thanks, Mama”?

[Emily]
The old lady is telling her daughter, “Thank you, mom, for making me this soup,” because she doesn’t know that her daughter is her daughter. She thinks it’s her mother.

[Shep]
Well, that’s sad.

[Thomas]
So I’m assuming that the present day takes place in present day, right?

[Emily]
Would be easiest. So it could look like the daughter’s making it for just a family dinner. We’ll start out with that. She’s prepping the vegetables to go into the pot, and the mom walks in to the kitchen and then, like you said, goes back to and we’ve pick a memory point in time. So the mom is going to have some kind of, like really awesome story that draws you in to her whole life story. I’m thinking, like, how The Joy Luck Club does. You learn all these interesting things about how they were raised in China, and it’s so different and fascinating. And their daughters don’t know this because their daughters are only knowing that their mom is the harsh mother trying to make them have a good future. So, I mean, maybe we have the mom… got to pick points to come across.

[Thomas]
Is she going to experience it linearly?

[Shep]
No, I vote no, nonlinear.

[Emily]
I vote no, too. I like nonlinear, because then you can reveal surprises about the past that affect… even within that time frame, you have the mid future and the mid past and they connect. But one can surprise on the other.

[Thomas]
I think we kind of have already talked about some of them, like her being a little girl and her mom making it, making it for her husband. Maybe there’s a war. If it takes place now and she’s in her 80s, let’s say, that would have been the 40s that she was born in. The 30s or 40s.

[Shep]
What year is it?

[Emily]
I mean, we can do present day. It could be like the year 2000 or something. We can have it take place on New Year’s Eve, 1999. They’re making chicken soup because the computers are all going to crash.

[Thomas]
The big reveal is they’re in their bunker.

[Shep]
What a twist.

[Thomas]
I guess there’s not really a war that, I mean… I guess that’s not true, actually. She could be volunteering with veterans after Vietnam or the Korean War. When was that?

[Emily]
The 50s. She could have been a nurse in the Korean War. If she was born in the 30s, she could have been a nurse in the Korean War. Makes chicken noodle soup for the guys. Yeah, I’m going to go with this one. She is a nurse in a MASH unit in Korea, and everybody’s sick of the mess hall food, the gruel and whatever. And she’s going to… They’ve got local chickens. They’ve got stuff to make, the things they need to make. So she’s going to make the guys chicken noodle soup.

[Thomas]
There’s a soldier that she’s… her and the soldier are super flirty. And so them trying to catch the chicken and get all the ingredients is like them flirting.

[Emily]
Yeah. Okay. And they’re building their relationship and they’re falling in love.

[Thomas]
But it’s not the dad of the daughter. It’s some other dude.

[Emily]
But you don’t know that yet because you’re going to find out later he died.

[Shep]
I like movies that are puzzles.

[Emily]
Okay. So we get to that where they’re gathering the things and you don’t see her finish the soup in that one. I don’t think you get to see her finish. We start with the beginnings of all the soups, and then the ends of the soups tie the stories together. Does that make sense? So we’re going to revisit this time again later, and then we’re going to find out he died.

[Thomas]
I like that. That you go through the whole story thinking, “Oh, okay. So that happened and she had this affair or whatever.” And it turns out, no. Before she could finish making the soup, some terrible tragedy happened and he was killed. He never even got to try it.

[Shep]
Sad, which is what we’re going for. I’d like it if each memory were tied to a specific ingredient. So as the soup is being prepared, “Oh, here is the time to add whatever spice.” And then that’s when she remembers that time in the military when they were waiting for that shipment of spice so that they could have finally all the ingredients to make the chicken noodle soup. And then it was time to catch the chicken because you wouldn’t do it until you have all the ingredients.

[Emily]
Right.

[Shep]
And that leads into the flirting with the guy.

[Emily]
I really like that. That each scene is an ingredient in the soup.

[Thomas]
It makes sense, too.

[Emily]
Yeah.

[Thomas]
It would be interesting if there were like a scene where she’s learning to make the egg noodles from scratch. What are some other scenes that we need to have her experiencing?

[Emily]
I think she should lose a parent.

[Thomas]
Is the chicken noodle soup served at the funeral, or is it just like, the family is gathered to mourn the parent and they’re like, “Oh, let’s make this chicken noodle soup,” or she just does it because she’s like, “Oh, this will comfort everyone in this time of grief”?

[Emily]
Yeah. Maybe she’s making it as a funeral food. Funeral dish.

[Shep]
Oh, it’s her mom’s funeral, and someone else brought chicken noodle soup for her family, and she hates it because it’s not her mom’s recipe. So she makes her own chicken noodle soup for her family based on this terrible (because it’s different) chicken noodle soup.

[Emily]
Yeah, I like that. And that’ll be her struggling… I mean, that’s the one where you see her make the noodles from scratch. That’s, part of what makes that particular chicken noodle soup great is that it’s, like, all homemade.

[Thomas]
I was thinking the noodles would be like her learning how to make those noodles. And so that craft aspect of it, because that’s a pretty big moment in learning that recipe.

[Emily]
Right.

[Thomas]
I was thinking for the funeral, one that maybe it would be too salty or it’s not enough spices, or maybe it’s just like all of the spices together are one ingredient. So the salt is too much salt. There’s not enough thyme, there’s no bay. Like, whatever it is.

[Shep]
Does the dad play into it at all?

[Emily]
Her father?

[Shep]
Yeah, like the mother has died and she wants to make this chicken noodle soup, which, if you recall, the dad likes but doesn’t really remember how to make, but is trying to help her recover the recipe. “How did mom make these noodles? What did she do?”

[Emily]
Can he have early-stage Alzheimer’s? And we hint at that because that’s a hereditary thing.

[Thomas]
It’s pretty good.

[Shep]
This pitch session is hurting my heart.

[Emily]
Yeah.

[Thomas]
Yeah. Really.

[Emily]
It’s not sci-fi or funny. What’s wrong with us?

[Thomas]
Great. We’re going to have a downer episode this early in our podcast.

[Shep]
Yeah. So that scene ends with the dad becoming more and more confused as it’s clear that his mind is going.

[Thomas]
Oh, yeah. He totally thinks the daughter is the wife. And he’s like, “Oh, I’ve always loved your soup.” She’s like, “No, dad.” That’s good. I like that.

[Emily]
That makes me sad.

[Thomas]
Yeah.

[Shep]
Yeah, that’s the goal. That’s how we know it’s working.

[Emily]
Okay, next sad scene. We’ve got a dead soldier boyfriend, dad with Alzheimer’s, helping her make soup at her mom’s funeral, after her mom’s funeral-

[Shep]
The sick daughter-

[Emily]
Sick daughter. Yeah, it should be her, like, ten or twelve or younger.

[Thomas]
Oh. She literally doesn’t have time to make the soup. It is the best chicken noodle soup, but it is a time intensive process. She’s a busy working mom. Maybe the husband is already out of the picture at this point, for whatever reason. And so she’s like, “I really want to make this. My daughter’s sick. I will buy some chicken noodle soup.” And the daughter is like “This is terrible.” Like canned soup. “I don’t like this.”

[Emily]
So she stays up all night and makes the soup for her. So she has it the next day.

[Shep]
And that she’s too tired at working it’s fired. No, obviously, I’m not really suggesting that.

[Emily]
No, I think that could be like, the high note is that she’s like, “No, you’re right.” She sacrifices a time on a project or something, and she doesn’t get fired, but she sacrifices something. Maybe she has to call in and pawn off a project.

[Thomas]
We want to have happy memories in there as well. So maybe it is taking the day off.

[Emily]
Yeah. She stays up all night, makes the soup so her daughter has it and can be comforted. And then she ends up staying home with her and snuggling with her, and they watch movies and are just happy and everything is warm and fuzzy.

[Shep]
Is she still a nurse?

[Emily]
Yeah.

[Thomas]
Is that what her profession is, or was that just the thing she did during the war?

[Emily]
I would think that would just still be her profession, because if she’s going to be a working mom in the 60s, nurse is usually the only…

[Thomas]
Plus weird hours…

[Emily]
Yeah.

[Thomas]
Long shifts. Makes sense.

[Emily]
And I don’t think the dad’s necessarily gone, or isn’t in the picture. I think he’s just away. Business trip, in that particular scene. I think that her husband should still be present. We don’t need to make her life that depressing. She’s not a single mom.

[Thomas]
Well, I think this would be a good time for us to take a quick break. So we will do that and then come back and see what other scenes we can come up with for chicken noodle soup.

[Break]

[Thomas]
All right, we’re back. Let’s keep this story going. What is next? What ingredient do we want to focus on next?

[Shep]
How many ingredients are there?

[Thomas]
Kind of depends. I mean, there are probably a dozen different ingredients, but half of those are more spices, which we could kind of lump together into one category or one ingredient.

[Shep]
One of the triggers is the chopping sound. Right. So, like, chopping up celery or carrots or whatever. So that’s one of the scenes. Something triggers that.

[Emily]
That could trigger, chopping, okay. So she’s, (19)30s, kid, right? So depression era, right?

[Thomas]
Sure.

[Shep]
Depression era.

[Emily]
She was born in the 30s.

[Thomas]
She probably born in the late 30s, though, wouldn’t she?

[Emily]
Yeah. Still depression era.

[Thomas]
But if she has depression era parents-

[Emily]
Yeah, she has depression era parents. So they’re still living on a shoestring.

[Thomas]
And they’ll have whatever habits they picked up.

[Emily]
I was thinking the chopping of the vegetables could trigger a memory of her father chopping wood to fuel the hearth to cook the soup, because my great grandparents still had wood burning stoves for ages. Like, my mom remembered my grandma having a wood burning stove.

[Shep]
Yeah. I grew up with a wooden burning stove. That was what we had.

[Emily]
So I’m thinking the chopping of that reminds her of her dad chopping things to boil the broth and whatever. Maybe that’s the trigger to the memory of her in the kitchen with her mom listening to the dad outside chopping wood.

[Thomas]
It’s the chicken stock. That’s the ingredient we’re talking about. No part wasted-

[Emily]
Yeah.

[Thomas]
Depression era parents. You save every part, you use every part. We take the bones from our chicken dinner, and we make another meal using that. And so. Yeah, the chopping of the wood is he’s preparing to build the fire to boil the bones, to make the stock.

[Shep]
So it’s not the celery, but it’s the sound of chopping celery.

[Emily]
Celery and carrot go into the stock, too, to make it more flavorful. They’re using the ends of it-

[Thomas]
Oh, yeah.

[Emily]
And the onion peels and throwing it all in there. But I just like the chopping and the chopping. Making a connection.

[Shep]
Yeah. I like the, like you said, putting all the ends and everything in there.

[Emily]
Yeah.

[Shep]
Because it fits the use-all-parts, throw-nothing-away depression era mentality.

[Thomas]
It’s nice how well all of that ties together.

[Emily]
Right?

[Shep]
So that’s her as a kid. We have her in the war. We have her with her daughter.

[Thomas]
She has to meet her husband. We haven’t done that yet, have we?

[Emily]
Yeah.

[Shep]
Yeah, her and her husband. So I think we’ve covered her immediate family.

[Emily]
So I think maybe the husband is the chicken because he’s afraid of commitment, and they’re not married yet. She’s trying to catch that chicken. Is that too on the nose?

[Thomas]
As long as you don’t draw a ton of attention to it, I think it’s fine.

[Emily]
Oh, this is her seduction plan for him. They’ve been dating a while, and she’s invited him over finally to prepare a meal for him and she’s going to make the chicken noodle soup that’s going to make him want to marry her because she’s a happy homemaker. Right?

[Shep]
Is she a homemaker or is she a nurse?

[Emily]
But in the 50s, you’re going to want to catch a guy by tricking him into thinking you’re going to be a stay-at-home mom, but you’re not giving up your career because she’s a progressive woman.

[Shep]
Or. She did give up her career for a while. And when she went back later, after her husband leaves or whatever, or dies.

[Emily]
Or when her daughter goes back to school, starts school and she realizes, you know, “I’m unfulfilled, I could be a nurse. It won’t take a lot of my time.”

[Shep]
Ha ha.

[Emily]
Lies.

[Shep]
But she would know that she was a nurse.

[Emily]
Maybe he leaves her. Do we want the husband in the picture later?

[Thomas]
Later as in present day?

[Emily]
Or does he leave the family? Do they get divorced? Does he die an early death? I think maybe having them get divorced, honestly, it trends well with the storyline.

[Shep]
He could come back later if he’s still alive.

[Emily]
Right? Because I was thinking if she’s going to make this fabulous dinner to try and catch him as her husband, right? She’s going to show that she can be domestic. Maybe there’s always been a problem with that. She wants, she’s too career focused or whatever. So she’s going to make the soup to show “I’m a homemaker. I can do this.”

[Shep]
Best of both worlds. She can have it all, it’s the Sixties.

[Emily]
But she can’t find the right kind of chicken.

[Shep]
Like, what if the butcher, whatever it is that she wants, the butcher doesn’t have already processed, but they have live ones. If she wants to butcher it.

[Thomas]
Like, herself?

[Shep]
Yeah. If she grew up on a subsistence farm, post-depression, then she would know how to butcher a chicken.

[Emily]
Yeah. So she’s like, “Okay.”

[Thomas]
She’s a nurse. Blood doesn’t freak her out.

[Emily]
You could totally butcher a chicken.

[Thomas]
Maybe she has a butcher that she regularly goes to, to get her chicken. And as you said, he’s out of the chicken. So she has to go somewhere else. And that’s where she meets her husband. He’s also shopping for chicken. I don’t know that I like the idea that they’re both reaching for the same package of chicken. That’s a little too handy.

[Emily]
Maybe he’s confused…

[Thomas]
Maybe he has a question.

[Emily]
About what, he’s like “I don’t cook.”

[Thomas]
He’s like, “Can you help me?”

[Emily]
“What’s the difference between a boiler and a fryer?”

[Thomas]
Maybe he does know and that’s just his way of flirting in the store.

[Emily]
Yeah, maybe. I like that. That’s a good one. And she’s like-

[Thomas]
Yeah, I can see that conversation naturally happening. He’s like, “How do I cook? Like, what should I do to cook this?” And she’s like, “Why are you buying it if you don’t know what you’re making?”

[Shep]
“I thought there would be instructions on the other side, but there’s not. It’s nothing.”

[Thomas]
She’s like, “All right, I was going to make this soup anyway. You can come over and have some.”

[Emily]
Because this is the fifties and you trust people and randomly invite them over.

[Shep]
So we have her with her parents. We have her in the army. We have her meeting her husband later. Not the guy in the army. We have her at her mom’s funeral. We have her with her daughter. We have her daughter with her. That’s six scenes, or six points in time.

[Thomas]
So if each one lasts 20 minutes, between ten and 20 minutes, that’s a feature length right there.

[Shep]
Yeah. So we just need whatever it is about the soup that ties all of the scenes together.

[Thomas]
How does it all come together at the end in the big “And it turns out this thing happened and that happened. And it’s like the second half of each story, right?” It doesn’t have to be every story. Is there a second half to the funeral?

[Emily]
No, I think that’s a standalone.

[Shep]
I don’t know if-

[Emily]
That could be the midpoint. Where that’s the one. That’s the complete story where we see, she makes it and then it’s revealed that her dad has Alzheimer’s and-

[Shep]
Calls her by her mom’s name.

[Emily]
Calls her by her mom’s name. And she’s like, “No, dad, but have your soup.”

[Shep]
Right.

[Emily]
“It’ll warm you up,” or whatever. “Just like mom made,” or whatever. Like that.

[Shep]
And that’s the hint that at the end it’s going to be her.

[Emily]
Yeah. And then that one’s encapsulated. And then maybe in another scene when she’s talking to, like, she’s making the soup, we see her making the soup with the husband and they ask about previous partners or what’s their life story because they’re getting to know each other. And then she reveals in the story that she thought she was going to get married before, but he didn’t make it out of the war. And she says, “Funny story, I was going to make this soup for him, but he passed away before we got all of the stuff we need.”

[Thomas]
Is that a story she tells her husband, or is that something that she kind of never does? What, is she telling the daughter all of these stories? And that’s how, we’re seeing them through her eyes, obviously. Because I’m trying to think of the narrative structure of the whole thing, where it’s like, what is the reason why she’s reminiscing? Or like, how are those reminiscences being expressed? So is she saying, “Oh, that reminds me of this time?” Or are we just peering into her brain?

[Shep]
I think you don’t narrate it. You’re just peering into her brain. So she hears the chopping, and then she’s in the past where her dad is chopping wood. The framing device is her daughter making the soup. So after each visit to the past, her daughter is doing something else and some other ingredient, the smell of the thyme or the boiling of the water or whatever triggers the next memory.

[Thomas]
So how much time are we spending in the present in between stories? Is it literally like 20 seconds as she looks over in the, you know, smells the fresh thyme? Or is there several minutes where they’re having a conversation?

[Emily]
I think you can have several minutes because I was thinking one scene, she could be like, “Oh, you need to add more of this. So and so likes that.” And that could be the name of the soldier from the war. And she’s like, “Who’s that? Who are you talking about, mom?” So I was thinking also her granddaughter could come in at one point, and that’s what triggers the memory of her taking care of her daughter when she’s sick. And she’s like, “Oh, you’re making the sick soup,” or something like that? Because that’s what they call it or something. Her granddaughter calls it that. And then she remembers her daughter being sick.

[Thomas]
I guess we don’t never came up with what is the thing that triggers the memory of the daughter. Like, what is the ingredient?

[Emily]
The salt. Just the pinch of salt. Because the canned soup is too salty.

[Thomas]
Right.

[Emily]
And so her daughter comes in and is like, “Oh, you’re making the blah, blah, blah. Can I add the what-? Can I help?” And she’s like, “Sure, you can add the salt, but not too much. We don’t want it too salty.”

[Thomas]
Yeah, that’s good.

[Shep]
So why is she making the sick soup? Because her mom is sick.

[Emily]
Yeah.

[Shep]
Yeah.

[Emily]
Because her mom is having a bad day.

[Shep]
Her mom doesn’t know that she’s sick.

[Emily]
Right.

[Thomas]
Yeah.

[Shep]
So how does she talk to her daughter about why she’s making the sick soup when she can’t really say, “Yeah, grandma’s out there.”

[Thomas]
Maybe it’s as simple as she’s like, “Oh, why are you, who’s sick? Or why are you making the soup?” She’s like, “I’m making it for you, mom.” She’s like, “Oh, you don’t have to do that. I don’t need it.” Again, it’s one of those little hints where the daughter is like, “No, you are sick.”

[Emily]
Yeah.

[Thomas]
But the woman is saying like, “Oh, no.” I feel like the only thing we need to come up with now is kind of how the movie ends. What is that big reveal, that she has Alzheimer’s? And what is the last moment of the film?

[Shep]
The very last moment is her in the past having chicken noodle soup. It worked. She’s having a happy memory.

[Thomas]
Is it her in the past or is it just her happy in the present?

[Shep]
No. In the present she’s got Alzheimer’s. She doesn’t know what the fuck’s going on. In the past when her memory is clear, maybe it’s her and the guy that she loved in the war.

[Thomas]
Yeah, that’s what I was thinking.

[Emily]
The true love.

[Thomas]
I was just about to ask which memory? But yeah. Is it even that, or is it just her? And we recognize her from that time period? Although does that imply that she was happy then when she clearly wouldn’t have been? I mean, maybe he does get to eat the soup in that scene.

[Shep]
Oh, yeah. In that scene, he didn’t need it in real life. But in this memory-

[Emily]
Yeah. Because Alzheimer’s gives you false memories, too.

[Shep]
In this memory, it’s her and him eating the soup.

[Emily]
They’re sitting out a little bit away from the mess tent on their own, just the two of them, because they put in all the hard work. So they’re taking the big break and they’re just sitting and he’s like, “Damn, you’re right. This is the best chicken it’ll soup I’ve ever had.”

[Shep]
Or maybe it’s not during the war. Maybe it’s sometime after the war and they’re back in the United States because it’s a false memory. She can do whatever she wants with it. So maybe it’s a time later. Maybe it’s the time that she made soup for her husband. But it’s not her husband. It’s the guy from the war. Don’t explain it. Just show that scene.

[Emily]
No, I like it. I like it. Because then it shows that-

[Shep]
That’s her regret.

[Emily]
That was her moment. That was her time.

[Shep]
Is there anything else that we’re missing or is that it? Do we have it or not?

[Emily]
I think we have a very solid base, a very good…

[Shep]
A good stock to build a soup on? It just needs the seasoning of details.

[Emily]
Yeah.

[Thomas]
Yeah, exactly. It’s all those little details that we don’t have. But.

[Emily]
That’s someone else’s job.

[Shep]
I mean, that could be our job. We could do that. But not in an hour.

[Thomas]
We could.

[Emily]
We could.

[Thomas]
Not in an hour.

[Emily]
But that’s not what we’re here today for.

[Shep]
Right.

[Emily]
Although this one… We say this every week, but this one, this one is the one I want to see. This is the one I want to be sobbing, wrapped up in a blanket on the couch-

[Thomas]
Eating chicken noodle soup. Yeah.

[Emily]
Eating chicken noodle soup, just sobbing away.

[Shep]
Yeah, I don’t think I’m the target audience for this.

[Emily]
Oh, it’s 100% me.

[Thomas]
I will say, of the ideas that we’ve talked about, chicken noodle soup struck me as, “How is this going to be a movie or a story?”

[Shep]
Right.

[Thomas]
And even like I said in my pitch, I don’t think it’s going to be that central. I think it’s just going to be this one little “Oh, by the way, this part of her life had chicken noodle soup in it.” But no, it actually ended up being remarkably central to every part of the story. I think we did a good job.

[Emily]
Yeah. And you get a good recipe for chicken noodle soup out of it.

[Thomas]
Just in the credits.

[Emily]
Honestly. Yeah. I think when it’s released on DVD, because people still buy them, you get a copy of the recipe.

[Shep]
A video of someone making… the actress from the movie.

[Thomas]
The video during the credits is her daughter’s YouTube video teaching everyone how to make the soup.

[Emily]
Oh!

[Shep]
Ha ha. Okay, now I kind of want to watch it.

[Emily]
Yeah.

[Shep]
Thomas. You pulled me around.

[Emily]
I like that.

[Thomas]
Well, let us know what you think about the story we came up with for chicken noodle soup. Would you go watch this movie? You can get in touch with us via email or social media, links to those can be found on our website: AlmostPlausible.com If you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to Almost Plausible wherever it is that you regularly listen to podcasts. And lastly, we have a huge favor to ask of you which is to please tell people about the show. The best way for any podcast to grow is for its listeners to tell other people to check it out. Whether you post about Almost Plausible on all the social media sites or just casually mention it to a friend, everything helps. Thank you for listening and my thanks to Emily and Shep for joining me. We’ll see you next week for another episode of Almost Plausible.

[Shep]
Bye.

[Emily]
Bye.

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