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 02, 2009

Taking Stock, Literary Allusion and Big Brains

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.

Before I dive in to things, I thought I should mention that my school chum, Sarah Freligh, is blogging about her writings at Sort of Gone. There are wonderful things about writing and reading and, lately, pies.

Summer Doldrums

This week was a little saner than the last two, but only by a fraction. And I believe that was because nothing was happening with regard to the great relocation of the Archive. And nothing will for a couple of weeks while all the arrangements are settled. That's good an bad. Until we're in the new spot the tension over something going awry is palatable. Meanwhile, I'm in the entertaining position of coordinating shoots planned for the space and figuring out how to work them around the day job. I just can't call in and then turn up down the hall being a producer (not that I've ever done anything like that). This means all those three day weekends will be taken up by production work. Blah. I'm also annoyed that I haven't had my quotient of awful pop culture this summer. We've been so busy or I've been too tired to see giant robots or boy wizards. Now the big, undoubtedly stupid fun of GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra is upon us. We have to tour the new soundstage next weekend. The following week, we'll be in Philadelphia. I am quite vexed by missing the opportunity to rot my brain and eat popcorn. What can you do? We have a Pilot Presentation to finish and too many other things pulling our attention. Maybe we'll catch them all at the dollar theaters before they go to video.

Finding Focus

The uproar over the day job caused a lot of general upheaval in our routines. I think it took Jon and I a solid week before we could really focus on our respective tasks for Blood Oath. For me, the distraction meant a complete shut down on everything I was writing or planning to write. Even cooking wasn't helping me settle down. I ruined more dishes that week than I have in years. This was particularly frustrating, because I now have places to show off my food. A lot of my favorite chefs have their own facebook pages or websites where they want fan contributions. I've already put up a half dozen photos. It's been fun getting feedback. I haven't been able to cook anything complex until yesterday. I made some stocks. Those are my zen exercise. It is a very simple substance but the making of it is an art of patience and precision. The better cookbooks harp on the importance of stocks to many things created in the kitchen. Anthony Bourdain's cookbook does a lot of yelling in instructing how to get them right. He is personally obsessed with good stock in his favorite soups. There is a tiny restaurant in Vietnam that holds the distinction of making his favorite thing to eat. It's a soup for which excellent stock is made daily. I really enjoy the process. The pot must be left to do its work, but it cannot be neglected. And the stock can be ruined in the beginning if the ingredients aren't what they should be and in the proper proportion. That can't be known until the weight of the bones is known. It took hours and hours, but I have enjoyed a lovely bowl of soup from the chicken stock. The house smells of thyme and garlic. I am a happy girl as I write this.
As for the writing, that got back on track as I got further into A Moveable Feast. That book is very much about writers writing. It makes a body feel guilty for not writing diligently every single day. However, I'm also feeling indignant about not having lovely lunches in cafes and terribly sharp but witty conversations with artists and writers over drinks not to mention delightful picnics in the Luxembourg Gardens. But that's another matter entirely. I'm usually resentful about not doing such things. Reading the book made me feel guilty and inspired enough to struggle through sentences last weekend. I'm now getting trough paragraphs fairly well this weekend. I feel better physically when I can write and when I can cook. Traveling won't slow any of that down. For some reason, I write a lot in my head while I travel. Almost the entire first draft of A Soldier's Choice was written in my head while we were in Atlanta attending Dragoncon. And I will be cooking as well. That's a little nerve wracking as it's been such a long time since I cooked for family. But it will give me something to focus on while I'm there. Of course there are family tensions and sensitive topics to tip toe around. Where there is family, there are tensions. No one knows about the memoir yet.

Literature and Pop Culture
As I bandy about tidbits from Hemingway, I wince a little. I don't want to sound like some sort of reading snob. It's funny that every time I read the book in public, someone assumes I'm a teacher. Alas, the graying hair no longer qualifies me to be a student. When I say no, I get a look like 'well, la di da reading Hemingway when you don't have to.' The thing is, I think that A Moevable Feast has pop culture appeal. There is a lot in the way of enjoying food and booze and sex. There is scandal. Hem is something of a wise ass. I think that mental barriers are erected every day in the minds of school children that classic literature is dry and boring and has nothing to do with current reality. And once that cap comes off at graduation, they are never thought of again. Unless a really hot movie version of one of the books comes out. And that's regrettable. Fortunately, there are solutions out there in pop culture. I often see wonderful references to literature in my favorite subversive programs. I think that teaches should consider including these sorts of things in the way they teach literature. The best reading of an Edgar Alan Poe poem I have ever heard is by Homer Simpson. Actually, aside from Garrison Keillor reading Sarah's poetry on NPR, Homer's version of The Raven is my favorite poetry recital ever. I would totally use that if I ever taught the poem. But it doesn't stop there. Futurama's episode, The Day the Earth Stood Stupid, as some wonderful commentary on Mark Twain, Herman Melville and Jane Austen (photo to the right). I also find that the entire episode was a thesis worthy exercise in metafiction. And it's not just the cartoons that have a keen sense for the literary. Stephen Colbert has often made highly amusing and involved literary references. Aside from coming up with two tiles by J.D. Salinger that I could actually read, he had a brilliant analogy between baseball and Jane Austen. Take a moment to look at the clip HERE. And please forgive the blasphemy at the beginning of the clip. Mr. Colbert is actually very Catholic, and thus blasphemes like only a Catholic can. There is a down side to this mixture of the literary with pop culture. I was processing an edition of A Tale of Two Cities and all I could think about was Montgomery Burns reading 'it was the best of times, it was the blurst of times? Stupid monkeys!'

Travel Bugginess

Those familiar with me have heard of my legendary prep for any type of journey. It is no exaggeration. As soon as there are plane tickets, I compose The List. On The List is everything item that I can think of that either of us may need during a trip. It is detailed down to safety pins and a cork screw. But, Deb, I am often told, there are all night supermarkets or drug stores in most cities now. You can get what you may forget. To that I counter that foreign travelers to the American Film Market have been so often dismayed by the lack of these facilities anywhere near the host hotels, that they have complained online often. There are drugstores and markets within a few miles of the hotels, but that doesn't help if you don't know what direction to find them. And the cabbies aren't much help. I've been in similar situations when I really needed some essential but forgotten toiletry. In some cases like my last stays in New York or when we last stayed at a Philly hotel. There were stores on the same block as the hotel. After a certain hour of the night, I'm not going out to shop. And it's always at that hour of the night when certain toiletries become essential. And I've never found a corkscrew when I don't have one. So I'm neurotic – really neurotic, but I am prepared. The big drag with this trip is that the apartment is too compact for me to leave a suitcase out and open in order to arrange and re-arrange our items for travel. That will call for a bit of creativity and some artful stacking along the back of the sofa. Hopefully, I won't drive poor Jon crazy.

1 comment:

Sarah Freligh said...

If you forget anything, give me an E-shout. I'm happy to bring it with to Philly.