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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, June 14, 2009

Hooky, the Hays Code and Naughty Noir

Warning: If you find yourself here via a google search for such things as TV shows or films, recipes or cities, this blog has some facts. However, this blog is one author’s very twisted musing on many weird things. It is sometimes graphic in content. If you read on, don’t write to yell at me.

This was a really weird week in the day job part of my life. There were some air conditioning problems at the Archive. Since the building is hermetically sealed, that became a problem for the equipment and the personnel. On Monday, we were given the option of leaving early. And we were offered the option of skipping Tuesday entirely while the problem was being fixed. Strangely, this has become a tradition at this job. Every spring, there seems to be an equipment problem that ends the shift. When this happened in past years, Jon and I would go to the movies. The first year, we went to see Ratatouille. The second year, we went to see Speed Racer. This year, we went to see UP. And for those writing me about seeing the new Star Trek film, you haven't been reading my blog, you naughty people. My position on all things Trek has not changed. I'll see it when it's on Netflix. Maybe.

Back to UP. Young or old, this story is an amazing experience. It is hysterically funny, especially whenever the dogs are on screen. It is incredibly touching without being treacly and the characters all ring true. UP is an incredible achievement in American animation. I'm used to Japanese anime being brutally unflinching and honest and wildly funny in turns, but only recently have I seen that same complexity in American animated films. UP is in the same realm as Miyazaki's Spirited Away for its stunning storytelling. Run out the door now and see that film in 3-D. The blog will be here when you get back. The free day off was made complete by a lovely breakfast at our favorite French bakery cafe. That was a good day.

The rest of the week was odd because of a shift in the schedule at the Archive I mentioned last week. Our days are a little longer to give us every other Friday off. In July, we have all the weekends off because of a fluke with where the 4th of July falls. The days off are great for us, because of the work we're doing for our friend as she gets ready to launch her new business and the work we still have on Blood Oath. We aren't under any pressure yet in the countdown to pre-production on the films. We've done all we possibly can on those short of having the funding. Thus, we have about a month and a half before the really running around being crazy starts (and the whining and some times, crying).

Thus far, the longer days haven't been a problem. Surprisingly, the commute home is shorter in time. We seem to have missed the worst of the street traffic be departing an hour later in the afternoon. That's kind of strange as rush hour itself lasts until after 7pm on the freeways. I'm not arguing with it. Long, slow commutes make for one cranky Deb.

Busting Writer's Block

Longtime readers of the blog know that the way I get past writers block is to write something wholly unrelated to whatever is being blocked. It was a tip offered by one of our landlords, the late Stanley Ralph Ross. This advice has proven quite useful to me over the years. It has also produced some very strange fiction. This includes most of the fanfiction I've written as NovaD. Fanfiction is a good diversion from writer's block. I'll never have it published save for maybe on NovaD.org, so there is less pressure about polish. The writing is an exercise to help me work out problems with another piece of prose.

It's Jon's fault that I chose this subject for a writing exercise. He's been watching everything available (three series and four movies) on Space Battleship Yamato. In the US, the first series ran under the name Star Blazers. I watched Star Blazers (see Youtube intro) when I was an undergrad in college. It was the first cartoon series I'd ever seen that was a serial and it ended each episode with a countdown to when the Earth would be destroyed. Of course, my Hubs, anime boy, has seen everything Yamato and owns quite a bit of stuff on it as well. Anyway, he's watching all of this with new English translations to answer some questions he'd long had about some of the fan translated scripts he'd read over the years. The revelations he made have caused a week long e-mail argument between him and one of his anime friends. I have mentioned in the past that this is a house of uber-geeks, right?

Anyway, Jon's watching a little bit each night after he done with editing. I wasn't really paying attention until the films and series I hadn't were running. Then, I noticed something curious and intriguing. The villain and the young hero from the first series had become allies. In fact, there seemed to be something intense between them. Even Jon was startled by what the new translations revealed. This development was particularly obvious in the last film It is thought that the former arch villain has finally met his end in a surprise attack on his home world. The young hero is devastated. He leaves a bouquet of bouquet of white roses and vows never to forget the man. At the end of the movie, our young hero is about to be destroyed by the enemy. There is no escape until the former villain appears to save him. He is all put purring the young man's name while sniffing one of those roses. Jon knew where I was running with that. Of course, I have to layer in layers including survivor guilt and a flirtation with Stockholm Syndrome in conjuring a situation that is realistic to the series in which the young hero could be seduced by his former enemy. It's been fascinating if strange. The story will only see the light of day on NovaD.org.

The exercise became quite involved. It is now a four part arc. Well, somewhere in the middle of the first part, I figured out why I hadn't gotten very far writing the first story in the memoir about my mother, Adventures with Miss Patty. Dancing with the German at Happy Hour in New Orleans was two paragraphs long until this morning. Now, it's six pages with the end clearly in sight. I had been having trouble with the frame for the story. I suddenly realized that it should be very much like the blog – conversational with all the segues that I use every week in giving all the details of a particular incident. The pages began to flow. It was very satisfying, especially after the story had stagnated for so long. For some reason that I can't really explain, the conversational style also keeps me from crying over the details. Weird, huh?
Noir and Naughty

The other indulgence that has preoccupied me in the cause of my writing is film noir. I'm writing a most naughty romance (and I mean really, really naughty), and I need to remind myself of how to write naughty and snappy dialogue without being the least bit explicit. I just watched the initial scene between Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity that was amazingly sexy and naughty but classy and snappy. I watched Mildred Pierce on Tuesday. It's one of my very favorite films. The plot was tight. The dialogue was razor sharp, and the acting was impeccable. The Hays Code certainly kept writers, directors and actors on their toes. I plan to avail myself of the liberalities of these modern times and have my characters do the most unseemly things that I can imagine. But their dialogue will always be clean and classy.

Yes, I'm still working on the comic art work for Blood Oath. And the cookbook. I'm really good at multi-tasking, and I don't sleep much. Fortunately, I have a shorter work week for a while.

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