I’m heading off to NYC and then up to Boston for Readercon. Looking at my calendar between now and September it looks like the longest stretch of time that I’m home is twelve days.
So tonight, even though I had stuff to do, Rob and I went on a date. We went up to Ohana Hawaiian restaurant where my husband ordered spam musabi as an appetizer. I do not understand this snack.
After that we biked to the Roseway theater to watch Toy Story 3. The warnings that it was a) really a horror film and b) would make me cry were both accurate. Once again, Pixar proves that they understand character and story. Also, as Rob points out, their films are beautifully edited and paced.
I’m going to go through my checklist again and then crawl into bed with my sweetie. It’ll be a week before I see him again.
My column this week looks at the films of Roald Dahl.
There are few authors who have had as profound an influence on the fantasy movie genre as Roald Dahl. It's not just that so many of his stories have been adapted for the screen, but also that he was himself a fantasy screenwriter. You might think you know a Roald Dahl movie when you see one, but I'm willing to bet that a couple of his masterpieces will surprise you.
It’s like I’m the Scrooge of Thanksgiving. Leftovers? Bah! Humbug.
In America, nothing matches the archetype of “Feast” like the Thanksgiving dinner, which conjures images of tables groaning with food. But all that bounty comes with a price: leftovers. Sure, with that first turkey sandwich you're living the good life. But how long before the dread sets in? More cranberry sauce? Another helping of sweet potatoes? Soon you start to fantasize about all new meals. And what better way to do that than with fantasy, which offers bounties both fantastic and filling. Herewith, my top ten leftover alternatives.
Today Rob and I walked up to Alberta to Fuel, which was my favorite coffee shop when I was living here before, and had pastries and coffee while surfing apartment listings. Besides price, we have a very small list of hard and fast criteria.
We’d like to be able to walk to the grocery store and be close-in so getting downtown is easy. Architectural charm would be nice. But most apartments can get eliminated by lacking a gas stove. We like to cook and neither of us wants to go back to electric.
We only looked at one today, it is Labor Day after all, but we have three appointments set up tomorrow.
This evening we walked up to McMennamin’s Kennedy School to see Up which was as wonderful as everyone has told me it was. Loved it a lot.
Have you ever had this nagging thing that you knew was wrong, but you couldn’t figure out what? For the last two years, I’ve known that the props work wasn’t satisfying, but I didn’t realize how much I missed the world of puppetry until coming down here this weekend. Some of it was performing, but more of it was hanging out with puppeteers.
We had dinner last night with twelve puppeteers, only three of whom spoke English as a native language. It was this great wide ranging conversation about art and connection.
Today we performed twice, which went well. I got to see the short film series Heather Henson curates, Handmade Puppet Dreams which I’ve been wanting to see for a couple of years now. Here’s one of the pieces, Incubus by Lyon Hill.
Before you watch this, you need to know that these are puppets and are being performed in real time. I tell you this, because otherwise it looks like animation or photoshop. No. Puppets.
See! Totally inspiring.
Afterwards we went out to dinner and I just…I’ve really missed this. Puppeteers talk about their in ways that writers don’t. I mean, we’ll sit around and say, “I’m thinking about doing this one man show…” and everyone will join in this collaborative discussion without (most people) without ever trampling on the other person’s vision. I love writing, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve missed collaboration.
I’m off to Orlando today. While I’m in transit you can swing by AMC to check out my top 10 list of Fantasy Chick flicks. There are two films that I genuinely like, plus eight that for me range from “run-screaming” to “not my cup of tea.” Can you guess which is which?
For the film shoot last week I needed furniture to represent ten different scenic locations, all shot on greenscreen. Besides dealing with the usual greenscreen parameter of avoiding reflective surfaces I also had a fairly tight budget. This meant that some of the rental furniture I picked up wasn’t in stellar condition. You’ll notice that this table, which has a very nice form, has gaping cracks which were repaired with gorilla glue, leaving nasty white scars all over it.
This particular rental house doesn’t mind if I give their furniture “a little love” so the white scars were acceptable. Most rental houses don’t want you to do anything to their props. Rightly so.
While we were renting out the Little Shop of Horrors puppets, the number of times they came back with horrendous “repairs” or “enhancements” that took a lot of labor to undo.
Just a note: When renting props, unless you have specific permission in writing from the prop house, don’t do anything to the props that you can’t completely undo. And make sure you undo it before returning the prop.
For this, since the practical antique value of the piece is gone, I was able to take the easy route. I mixed up two tones of paint to match the wood tone. Using a stiff bristle brush, I worked it into the gorilla glue, taking some care to match the grain of the wood.
Once I finished that, I gave it a once over with furniture polish and voila. A table that looks rustic, but not trashed.
I signed up to do props for a film this week. It was only two days of work and looked like a fairly light load. I did a half day on Tuesday lining up furniture and planned another half day on Wednesday to pick up the hand props. Unfortunately, things imploded when the verbal bid I got on furniture came back as a paper bid that was ten times higher than the phone quote.
So, all my Tuesday work was undone and it meant that Wednesday became about finding furniture. To make things crazier, one of the prop rental houses was in New Jersey and normally only an hour and a half away. It took me three hours to get there. Upon arriving, my vehicle wasn’t large enough and I had to make two trips. I got about half an hour of sleep all told.
Thursday was the day of the shoot and I somehow managed to actually have everything there. Largely because I hired Emily DeCola to be a runner and do last minute shopping in the morning. It was an insane and brutal schedule that I don’t recommend.
As an antidote to the entrails post, you can swing by AMC to take a look at my column on mothers in Fantasy film. I don’t know about you, but my mom is fantastic all on her own.
Mother’s Day is here and lest you need reminding, none of us would exist were it not for them. Fantasy has a high incidence of orphaned characters, but once in a while mothers do show up. Here are the ten best moms a fantasy girl could ask for.
The first dragon I fell in love with was Smaug from The Hobbit. Both clever and fierce, he was a force to be reckoned with, and a character that endeared me to his species. But he’s hardly the only dragon that’s captured my imagination through the years. Fantasy skies are thick with the beasts, and I’m here to tell you who flies highest. (Caveat: I write this list knowing full well that I’ll reorder it the moment The Hobbit hits theaters.)
(Tor Books — August 21, 2018) Continuing the grand sweep of alternate history laid out in The Calculating Stars, The Fated Sky looks forward to 1961, when mankind is well-established on the moon and looking forward to its next step: journeying to, and eventually colonizing, Mars. Of course, the noted Lady Astronaut Elma York would like to go, […]