The Pickled Pirate is still a work-in-progress. It's now over 50,000 words in length. I've been working very hard on it... Nearing the end, however, but now I kind of wish I had the solid ambition to make a series out of it. Maybe it will be, one day!
Also, the story has a new title. The title will be a secret until ... until it isn't a secret anymore! (Evil cackle here.)
One of my favorite things in life are those potholes of space and time and words I call A Writing Coincidence. In which I will write something, somehow slip into a Jungian consciousness in which I know things that all others know, whether they're dead or alive, and it will appear in my story. This has happened before. There's even a tag for it on this journal.
The Pickled Pirate takes place in May, 1931 in Toronto, Canada. While writing yesterday, which I figured was about the 31st of May in the story, the characters kept complaining about how hot it was. Edmond, the protagonist, said to his boss, "It's unseasonably warm." Meanwhile, all our wee constable Edmond wants to do is get out of his uniform to stop the unfortunate but natural occurrence of ass-sweat (poor Edmond). Or stick his feet in Lake Ontario...
So I wondered... Was it really that hot in Toronto in May, 1931?
Yes. Yes, it was.
According to the weather archives, which I accessed using this site, on May 28th and 29th of 1931, it was 28.9C (about 84F) degrees both days. On the 30th and 31st, the temperature returned to a more comfortable and average 17.8C and 19.4C.
That's pretty interesting. I say, stroking my somewhat imaginary goatee.
What's even more interesting is that two days before in the story, it'd rained a little. According to the archives, it rained a little two days before. And it was foggy one evening, but fog isn't mentioned in the archives... We will never know if it was!
I'm more accurate at predicting the weather in 1931 than I am the proper dates in my story, it seems. I might have to make some edits so it ties together well!
Whenever I write historical stories, I always try to use proper dates. For instance, I say in the story that May 26, 1931 is a Tuesday: I will check and make sure that May 26, 1931 was, in fact, a Tuesday. It was. (Not that I'm implying I'm the only one who does this, or that I am, to borrow from Snape, "an insufferable know-it-all...")
I try to do this with weather, too. This might stem from the fact that I'm a weather nerd. Or it's a druid thing, IDK... Or both!
If you ever read The Information Man, you'll see that they argue a little about the uncertainty of Thanksgiving. Even in Canada, like their southern neighbor the USA, they hadn't decided on a proper date for Thanksgiving.
I've also noticed lately that, when I'm writing (like actually sitting down for hours and working on something), I tend to look up a bit of research about six times during that writing span. It might be anything. A word. Whether Sweden was in World War I (no, they weren't). What color of fedora was popular in 1931 (Detective Ferris's is "fawn" colored). But, yeah, I'll have about six items of research on any given writing day...
If I finally do finish The Pickled Pirate after months of working on it, we should all give our silent thanks to Misha Collins, who plays an impeccable Detective Ferris in my head. Before that started, I was really struggling to get a grip on the characters...
But for those of you who read this and might be writers, or just students, or just downright curious, here's a literal side-by-side comparison of Draft 1 and Draft 2.
|Draft 1||Draft 2|
It'd been a long time since Riddien had watched an angry Kwinn storm from a room. The sensations it evoked were far from pleasant. Often enough, Riddien had wished Kwinn had stabbed him with the end of his famous sword rather than abscond with the stillness and silence of a parish monk. Whether he'd said something silly or stupid, Riddien wasn't sure. His companions, still seated at the thick table there at the pub, were quite certain.
"You're really not good at this speaking thing, are you?" Trill, his flat-featured face and watery eyes of his people was certainly cut out for making a guy feel stupid, even without the rhetorical questions.
Already, the back of Riddien's neck burned. He recognized the symbol, left over from his long, difficult relationship with Kwinn. There he was, trying to be the good guy, say the right thing, and it was always Kwinn who got a little too offended, always the one who wandered away and, somehow, worsened Riddien's feelings. As if he had feelings to spare.
"I was just trying to—" he started to say, interrupted by Trill's twin sister.
|Ages had passed since Riddien Slance was required to observe Kwinn, at the peak of anger, storm from a smoky pub. Sensations caused by Riddien's heated inspection of Kwinn's departure were far from unfamiliar. Dust, blown from the hurt, gave Riddien a clear view of feelings he'd repressed for three years. More than three bygone years, too, for his warmth toward Kwinn over the last two weeks was difficult to disregard entirely. Their complicated history, full of wonder and magic and mayhem, seemed compressed into the difficult fortnight just behind them, also full of wonder and magic and mayhem. |
Across the previous two weeks, moments drifted upon Riddien when he wished Kwinn would stab him with the end of his famous sword rather than flee with the stiffness and silence of a parochial mystic. Riddien had grown more used to one, rather still hoping for the other. If Kwinn had made the slightest motion of showing his anger toward Riddien Slance in the form of physical violence, Riddien would've preferred it. Such action would've provided Riddien with something of Kwinn to grip and squeeze. The Kwinn who ran off without a word, with just a slight curl in his lip and a faint gleam of revenge in his eyes, he was a Kwinn too squirmy and illusory to grip and squeeze.
Whether Riddien had dropped an unwanted phrase, or if he had delivered an unappealing joke, couldn't be immediately decided. Perhaps he'd been speaking a bit unrefined. Sometimes his voice tipped into cadences brutal, intonations unsavory. Yet these were flavors of his character Kwinn had tasted throughout the years, and would not, therefore, be so shocking that he'd need to escape.
Riddien's companions, still seated at the thick table in the center of the pub, were quite sure Riddien had been in the wrong.
"You're really not as good at this speaking thing as you think you are," said Trill. His flat-featured face and his watery, white-blue eyes of his people cut a thorough and mean stare. "There's a lot about you that you think you're good at, and you're not really all that good at. Takes a lot more time to learn these things, it does."
Contents not edited....
I thought Zandry of Bonewood would be released within the next week... and it still might... except I'm going to rewrite "Last Time in Summervale."
When I read through the whole ebook yesterday, "Last Time in Summervale" is by far the worst. It doesn't seem to fit with the other stories, thanks in part to its lower quality of prose and abrupt scene shifts. Simply put, it's not as refined as the others. Since I like the story, the concept of it, and the characters, I'll just rewrite it.
Well, back to work!
Here are my responses!
pain (ful) memories
moon "la mia madre la dea selene"
A lot of my phrases don't make sense... my associations are too far apart for that. Whoever heard of a poetry mass? Although I might go to church if they started having poetry masses! And, of course, I am fluent in Sea Speak! Some of my responses are pretty standard. For instance, "ice cream." Maybe I'm hungry.
I'm not getting much out of this book, however. And I don't necessarily agree with the definition of "bad poetry" the author uses. A bad poem is one that is "vague and blurred." Oh, really? I read a lot of poetry that's just like reading an inner monologue, and I find that bad (and boring)! Also, he avers that bad poetry is "thrown at us by every corner of the world because people do not pay attention to what they're writing." No one pays more attention to what they're writing than writers, be they poets or not.
The book, How to Write Modern Poetry, isn't widely available anymore, but if you want to take a peek at it, Google Books has it here.
And have a stanza from one of my "bad poems," summing up my feelings for vociferous writing pundits.
If it's a wholesome metaphor
your hands and morals prowl for,
I've been silenced by stockings,
porn, the kinks and kicks of my kind—
the gags of political sex:
Ah, well, in retrospect, "made it through" is overstating...
Our Modern Maidens
This is a fun jazz-age romp. Really much better than you'd expect, and much better than the ratings systems ... at least everywhere that I've read about this movie... would have you believe. But I've always had a history of liking two-star films more than those with three or four stars. This is also a silent film, although it has a "sound effects track," which is what I called it without knowing its proper, technical name. This means that it has the occasional sound effect added in, like laughter, applause, music (other than the score) ... and maybe some squealing car tires. (I've already forgotten.)
Here's IMDB's one-sentence summary: A flapper charms a diplomat to procure her fiancé a career opportunity, while the fiancé starts a relationship with her best friend.
If it sounds a little strange, yes, it is. If it sounds like a plot you'd see in a film today, you're not wrong. It just wouldn't be as much fun as this kitschy 76-minute romance of rich people having the time of their lives, and then feeling down when they don't get what they want!
Anyway... When I say Jazz Age, I mean it! The film hit theaters in September of 1929, with a young and beautiful Joan Crawford as Billie. Joan sports a Frodo-inspired haircut, funky shoes, cloche hats ... and starring next to her real-life fiance, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Did I mention that he also plays her secret affianced in this awesome, "pre code" frolic? Did I mention yet that it has a riveting Anita Page as "Kentucky," Billie's best chum, and totally in love with Billie's beau Gil?
Through happenstance, Billie runs into the diplomat, played so convincingly by Rod LaRocque. Looking to get Gil away from the apron strings and having him settled at a Paris embassy, Billie pursues Abbot the diplomat in the hopes of buttering him up long enough to propel Gil through the red tape. Billie's carefree tendencies, and her amour with Gil just between him, her and the fly on the wall, soon comes back to bite her in the rump. Meanwhile, while Billie's running around with Mr. Pencil-thin Mustache, Kentucky is getting along marvelously with her old friend Gil. And I do mean marvelously! Actually, while watching the movie, I thought Gil and Kentucky were cuter together than Gil and Billie. It really did keep me on the edge of my seat wondering how the whole thing would work out. I wasn't disappointed.
Joan Crawford was a damn firecracker, if you've never seen one of her early movies. I don't even know what modern star I'd be able to compare her to... Well, I thought she had great presence, used up space well with her arms and posturing, and she had magnificent use of her eyes. Strangely, it's Anita Page who often gets credited with using her eyes so well. The thing I loved best about Anita Page was her hair. Am I superficial? I did, though. I loved her hair. It was fluffy, bleached, bobbed and wavy, completely destroyed by chemicals and products, but it was epic. I also loved the affectionate relationship between Billie and Kentucky. Precode or not, these girls were sweet together, and, sadly, affection like that is often lost in entertainment these days. (Because you wouldn't want to put ideas into people's heads — this is where I doff my hat to you, oh writers/creators/staff of Rizzoli & Isles!) Billie and Kentucky had a lot of on-screen time together, while, interestingly enough, I don't remember Mr. Pencil-thin Mustache and Gil saying that many words to one another.
Traditionally, I'm really hard on male actors of the silver screen era. Most of them were fine to look at, but most of them were rather atrocious in the talent department. This film happens to have two of my favorites: Rod LaRocque and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Fairbanks first captured my attention in the 1937 release of The Prisoner of Zenda, the best adaptation of Anthony Hope's novel. It wouldn't be hard for Fairbanks to play a bombastic swashbuckling villain, I suppose—but he did it with such ease and affability it was hard not to realize the depth of his talent (despite the DNA of his awesome gene pool). But both of these men are splendid in Our Modern Maidens. Rod's a little over-the-top, perhaps, but that was en vogue then, and I won't hold it against him. Fairbanks was splendidly subdued, and while watching it I felt that he was holding back a little, really into his character... or just trying hard not to outshine his lustrous bride-to-be. (Fairbanks and Crawford were married about four years.) Another reason to enjoy this film? The men were pretty—pretty AND pointless. They served as plot points around which our female protagonists parried. I like it when a man's importance is turned down a notch or two.
There are two other films in this "series." Our Dancing Daughters from 1928, and Our Blushing Brides in 1930. The films are unrelated, except in style and feel. I'd like to see them too someday. I think I'd enjoy them. If you'd like a visual romp at the end of the jazz age, before the downfall of world economy brought on by the Great Depression, you'd like Our Modern Maidens.
Relative Strangers, 2006.
I couldn't finish this one. I couldn't even get thirty minutes into it. Since I spend a lot of my time writing novels in which the characters from small, rural towns are NOT squeezed into stereotypes, the characterizations of a country couple in this film really annoyed me. It just wasn't funny to me, being too stale and overdone. But is there any more believable couple appearing in a film together besides Neve Campbell and Ron Livingston?
A Damsel in Distress - 1937
Believe it or not, Joan Fontaine dances — a little — in this movie!
I know, I couldn't believe it either... not until I was seeing it. She was pretty adorable in this movie. Loved her costumes—they were so perfectly suited for her and her character (was there really much difference?). Loved the schemes Fred Astaire had to come up with to get to her. There's a lot of twisting with standard film ploys, and that was entertaining. Also fun were the Gershwin songs I wasn't really familiar with... and the few that I was familiar with, like "Foggy Day." I found George Burns and Gracie Allen to be annoying and, thankfully, forgettable. I found Reginald Gardiner to be one of the secret highlights of the film, including his hilarious escape to burst into song to avoid his mistress from eyeballing him and belittling his love of opera. The consummate professional, Constance Collier, is also in this film (as the one eyeballing her opera-lover butler). I would've enjoyed it more had the comic relief come directly from Astaire, who certainly showed that he was capable of it, or from Reginald Gardiner... and not from George and Gracie.
Who are these editors and readers? Seriously, WHO?
It's not quite as awful as one of the books I read recently, in which it was Big Foot and not Bigfoot, Area 59 instead of Area 51... among other things that made me writhe and roll my eyes. (There might've been reasons for using Area 59 instead of Area 51.)
But "could care less"? It made me rather angry, actually... and then I started to feel sorry for these people.
I did have high hopes for a rom-com that wasn't 1) set in NYC; 2) not told in first-person prose; 3) had an unglamorous woman in it with an unglamorous profession.
Too many books, too many writers... I suppose they're willing to give up quality for a sale. Thus... quantity > quality.
For the record... I couldn't care less. You probably couldn't, either.
edit: ... this is such a pretentious post... I'd given thought to deleting it, but... but no! I want to keep track of items of this variety.