Welcome Gentle Readers

This blog tends to wander from its main purpose -- updates on my fiction. I do have updates and excerpts of my work. But I also write about my obsessions -- food, friends and pop culture and my weird life in Los Angeles. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Film, Food, Writing and Spider-Pig

Food, Film and Me

What follows is a lot of rambling. I’m becoming more like my southern relatives as I get older. There is a point in all of this.

Food has been center stage for me of late. It’s a large part of A Soldier’s Fate. I’ve actually made all the recipes in those books. It plays a role in the Cop novel, Freak Experts (more on that later), and it looms large in my personal life. My day job is located near no eateries. Even with a car, it would take too long to find something and get back in time. So I’ve been cooking more. And that’s a good thing. It’s easier to try to eat right when there is no alternative (yep, given the option, I’ll still go for an In and Out Burger). And it’s not a chore, really. I’ve been hooked on cooking shows since The Galloping Gourmet. I had a chance to watch the old shows on the Food Network a while ago. They were as funny as I recalled. From there, The Frugal Gourmet sparked my fancy. I started cooking for my family around then.

It was The Food Network that really opened up my culinary world. I’ve watched it since the beginning and have a stack of recipes from the website that is several inches thick. I never thought of myself as more than someone who could follow a recipe until recent years. Last week, I was able to re-create an amazing meal I had at the Bistro of Santa Monica by figuring out what the key ingredients were. And I’ve figured out how to make my favorite appetizer (tex-mex eggrolls). I found a recipe that was close to the one I had at the Cheesecake Factory (the only thing I haven’t had there is the cheesecake).

I have not been alone in becoming a Foodie. Over the years, it’s been easier and easier to find exotic ingredients in regular supermarkets. You should have seen the face of the Acme Markets manager in Philly when I asked for Panko Flakes 15 years ago. It’s easy to find almost anything mentioned on a cooking show now. And the Foodie thing is all the rage in films this year. We thought one of the best scenes in Spiderman 3 was the omelet making scene between Harry and MJ. Not only was it a flat out sexy scene, the omelet was perfect (they are not supposed to be brown on the bottom). I admit to being really geeky in noticing that the food was correct in that scene, but I’m not alone. The film makers behind Ratatouille hired the renown chef behind The French Laundry restaurant to consult on the kitchen scenes. They actually made all the dishes scene in the film and then digitally animated them. It was a cartoon and the food looked amazing. Now, the whole rat thing, I still shudder over. I enjoyed the film, but admit to getting freaked out by a number of the scenes.

The food in movies things is a pre-occupation for me, because I’ll have to be the food stylist on the short and or feature we’re developing (I say that because we may skip the short and do the feature – we don’t know right now). The entire short revolves around a meal of fried chicken and biscuits. The food has to look appetizing on camera. It doesn’t have to be that edible (in film, it often isn’t), but I’ll make sure it is for the actors’ sakes. And we have to have several plates to replace food that has lost its looks. Neither the short nor the feature will have the budget for a stylist, so that will be me. I make good fried chicken, and I’ve made biscuits good enough to get past my southern Grandmother. I’ve even fed cast and crew on three different shoots. I cook to relax and focus, so I often cook during production meetings. But this will be a lot of pressure. Maybe it’ll get me a food show. (Food Tips from a Mad Black Woman)It would have to be set in Paris. Okay, now I’m digressing. I know how to make the food. I’ll have to get some pointers from an actual stylist on how to make things look glossy and what not for the camera. It should be a fun thing to learn.

Pop Culture Comes Home

A few weeks ago, while on our way home, we saw searchlights. That’s not odd for LA, but it is weird on a weeknight and in a part of town with no theaters. As we passed the lights, I could see a huge sign from the freeway. Our neighborhood was one of the LA locations with a Quik E Mart . There were long lines for weeks, but we finally decided to go. It was surreal, to say the least. I have to commend the guy manning the Squishee machine. He actually said in a reasonable Apu impersonation ‘Thank you and please come again.’ I was impressed. And I enjoyed that Squishee and the accompanying brain freeze. The movie was a blast. It was very inappropriate and delighted in being so. And for reasons I simply cannot explain, my favorite thing from the film was:

Does whatever a spider-pig does
Can he swing from a web?
No he cant
He's a pig
Look out,He is the spider-pig

On the Writing Front or Pile it On!

I am nearly finished the first draft of A Soldier’s Fate. Oh, I’m very pleased that Ann Cain will be doing the cover. I really loved her work on A Soldier’s Choice. And the plot for the third Surrender novel, The Legacy of Surrender is well underway. The memoir about my family is slowly coming together. It sounds like an insane juggling act, but aside from the occasional notes on the memoir and Surrender book, my focus is A Soldier’s Fate. In the midst of all this, Freak Experts, my cop novel, has started percolating once more. I had a real block on that book for a few key reasons. I really wanted to do the story that happened before the script for the film takes place. But that wasn’t really working for me. The crime plot was not as strong as what I have in the script. I had many of the same problems writing the novel for Demon Under Glass. Adapting our film was far more difficult than I ever thought. When I decided to stop fighting the script for Freak Experts and include it with flashbacks from the partners’ first case, the block went away. I can’t get to it for some months, but I know what I want to do.

That brings up another problem. I had never planned on writing a romance novel for the film ‘The Gunslinger.’ That’s what the film that needs the fired chicken dinner. We had intended it to be just a romance novel for the small screen. However, since we’re doing a trailer for The Gift of Surrender, I’m now given pause. It would be a shame to put a short up for a romance and not have a novel to go with it. I just don’t know when I could write it. Ah well, that’s for another blog.

Next week (hopefully), the rehearsal for the shorts.

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