Movies about writers – Barton Fink

“A writer writes from the gut. Our gut tells us what’s good and what’s merely adequate.” ~ Barton Fink

Barton Fink is a weird movie. It’s starts out pretty straight forward and then everything goes batshit. Barton is a celebrated playwright (notable for making blue collar workers the heroes of his dramas) who is invited to Hollywood to write a movie about wrestling, which he knows nothing about.

There is a certain amount of typewriter worship but since it’s set in 1941 I guess it can be overlooked. It’s not like he can just switch over to his netbook or anything.

There was a lot of good stuff about the way random things around the writer can inspire thoughts and inspiration for writing. They can take you down a path to a new place you might have thought about otherwise.

Braton says that writing comes from great inner pain, and that without it he can’t create anything good. The pain is part of what drives him to share something with the rest of humanity. The other writer, Mayhew, by contrast says he just likes making things up. He doesn’t feel the need for pain to inspire him. He is also portrayed as a lecherous, drunken fool who is inferior to Barton. The lesson here is that you need pain to create good stuff.

I didn’t like the sequence where Barton goes to celebrate finishing the script and goes a bit crazy, demanding that the others respect him. “I am a creator!” Fink screams to uniformed servicemen. He argues that his head (brain), and his glasses are his uniform. That his writing is the way he is serving the common people. They beat him up. I was on their side, to be honest.

Then John Goodman goes crazy, burns the hotel and chases a cop with a shot gun repeating “I’ll show you the life of the mind” referring back to what Fink had said to him earlier.

Overall, this isn’t exactly the kind of inspiring look at the creative process that I was hoping for. I’m not sure if I enjoyed it, but it was certainly an experience.

cooking success

Spong Drops are a big thing in my family. Only Nan could make them exactly right – with light fluffy sponge baked just so. My sister, my mum and me have all tried and failed to recreate them in past years. But lately I was thinking that I’ve upskilled heaps in baking. I’ve gotten so much better through practice and learning through reading.

For our October birthday celebrations I decided to try making sponge drops. I can remember making them with Nan, and her pearls of wisdom “you have to have the oven on fan bake” and “these beaters are no good, my ones at home are much better”. I have Nan’s recipe carefully printed out in my own 12 year old handwriting with circles over the lower case ‘i’s.

I made good sponge drops in October, but I made one major mistake: one of the egg yolks broke into the egg whites and that meant the whites didn’t get as stiff as they should have. The resulting drops were still very good, they tasted right and although they were pretty flat they were declared a success by my family. We can all remember Nan’s ones pretty well, she used to make them every time she visited.

On Friday night I resolved to make sponge drops again for Thanksgiving dinner dessert – my reasoning was that they are light and easy to eat. We’d have heaps of pie as well and I thought they’d be a good counter point. I was careful to separate the eggs over a third bowl, one by one so it didn’t matter if one broke. I didn’t break a single yolk, it all went perfectly. I even used my Nan’s method of egg separating (hold the egg insides in your hand and let the white drip through your fingers. It’s a bit gross but very effective.) I beat the whites extra hard, concentrating on being patient and beating after every addition of sugar and the egg whites. The batter looked perfect and behaved differently from the last lot I made.

The drops baked in our hot oven in just about 4 minutes, a lot quicker than the 15 I have on the recipe, but they came out rounded and puffy and then folded down into crinkle top pikelet-looking things, just like Nan’s. Yesterday I added the cream centre (some with jam inside at Lee’s request) and covered them with icing sugar. I tried one, heart in my mouth…

They’re good. I think I managed to make them like Nan did. The final (true) test comes this morning, I saved some for my Mum and Dad to try. Sally who had never had them before, declared them a ‘mouth party’ which is very encouraging and there was general appreciation after dinner, along with the chocolate covered strawberries and various pies.

But it was both moving and exciting to get so close to the perfect turnout on this particular recipe. I want to say that my Nan was guiding me, but I don’t think she was. I think I’ve just accepted her wisdom and learned enough skill of my own.

Speaking of Thanksgiving dinner, the other thing I am very happy with myself for cooking is the turkey. I bought it, defrosted it, removed the giblets and neck (ew), washed it thoroughly, rubbed the inside of the cavity with lemon and salt, filled it with moist, flavour giving things and roasted it and it came out awesome.

Here is the recipe I used. The secret to the not-drying-out is all the oven bag. The meat was lovely, not dry at all, just flavourey and good. It was a big 5kg turkey and it was well admired. I feel like a proper 50s house wife or maybe just a proper hostess of Thanksgiving dinner.

It was awesome to see all my friends and eat all the delicious food they brought too. Sophie’s cornbread, Sally’s mashed potatoes and the corn and the broccolli and the peas…it was all so good.

This Sunday, suffering from an overeating hangover I am thankful to my husband, who carved the bird and made the gravy. To my lovely friends who are so much fun to be around. To my Sookie Stackhouse dress for keeping me cool on a stinking hot night while looking pretty. To the internet for providing advice and excellent recipes. To my Mum and my Nan for teaching me so much about cooking and giving me free range in the kitchen when I was growing up and curious.

I’m also thankful to the weather, for finally starting up summer. I’ve worn dresses three days running now and I love it.

Things I Love Thursday

I’ve finally started reading the amazing book Zombies vs Unicorns and it is freaking awesome. The first story is by Garth Nix (<3) and has both a unicorn and a zombie in it, and then there was a teen-boy gay love zombie story which *really* reminded me of Ash from our Buffy game, an urban fairy tale with a smart talking unicorn and a bunch of unicorn babies and then I read a really scary one about the zombie apocalypse…they're excellent. It's an excellent book.

Someone pretended to be a time traveller.

Rory’s book club.

Lunch with darling friends. Laughing in the middle of the day really makes work much more enjoyable.

Sleeping. I wasn’t well Tuesday night/Wednesday but I got lots and lots of sleeping done instead of going to work and work up around 4.30pm feeling peachy. Nice one.

Looking forward to the weekend where I shall have a lot of friends over for Thanksgiving dinner and then on Sunday I’m seeing my parents for lunch and stuff. Turkey! Turkey! Turkey!

Meg Cabot’s Thanksgiving thanks list of things she’s grateful for. It’s lovely.

This ‘It Gets Better’ message from Pixar. So much love.

PTA – New game

My Tuesday night group has started a new game of Prime Time Adventures. Our direct inspirations are: Supernatural (but not as dark), League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (in the 1980s), and The X-Files. But set in the 1980s.

Celeste is playing an FBI agent, Helen Smith, who is a cyborg. Here’s Helen. Her issue is humanity, mostly around losing it and becoming unfeeling. Did I say becoming? She’s already unfeeling.

Her partner is played by me and I decided to be a werewolf. I like playing male characters in tabletop games so I went with Will Cantrell for a name and this pretty boy for the face…

The perfect thing about using Taylor Kitsch for this character is that it turns out he was in The Covenant with Stephen Strait who I used as my other major PTA character Sam in “The Other Side”. Fate, man.

Will’s issue is intimacy, as in, he doesn’t want it. As werewolves go he’s pretty laid back, but there is one thing that really gets on his nerves. That would be Svend’s character…

Dr John Dorian is a grey alien, but he has this nifty disguise that makes him look human. John learned about humans by watching television and taking university courses. He doesn’t really get a lot of ways people relate to each other and his issue is curiosity. This can be infuriating. Initially he was arrested by agents Smith and Cantrell but their boss talked to his boss and there are politics around it and he’s been assigned to them as a consulting specialist.

Then there’s Vincent, aka Tyger Mars, legendary pop star. He works for the FBI and is a mad scientist. However after the second episode the producers decided this character wasn’t gelling with the team and he was replaced by a new character with a mysterious connection to Helen.

In the first episode agents Cantrell and Smith were escorting John in custody back to base following some cattle mutilation incidents. They hit a unicorn on the road, stopped to help it and found the people who had been chasing it. They were connected to some sort of illegal mining operation involving a whole lot of homeless kids who had been forced into labour there. Tyger was called in since he has the biggest vehicle, John healed the unicorn, there was a massive raid on the mining camp in which

Will took out most of the guards with stealth wolf tactics, Helen destroyed their weapons cache and all the kids were rescued. One girl took a particular shine to Will, who was distinctly uncomfortable. John forgot to do his part during the raid and was stuffed in a backpack by Helen so he wouldn’t get into more trouble, Tyger failed to comfort any of the kids once they were in his tour bus. We got some insight into Helen and Will’s working partnership when they met up after a gigantic fight.

Helen: It’s about time you caught up.
Will: Caught up? I’ve been saving the –
Helen: How many times have you discharged your weapon?
Will: I haven’t.
Helen: There you go.

Finally there was a confrontation with a mysterious vampire called Hitchins who seems to be Will’s ex partner.

Vamp: I see you’re still kissing Washington ass.
Will: See you’re still kidnapping children and using them for slave labour.
Vamp: Ain’t none of these cattle gonna be missed.

There was a tussle, the vamp flew away in bat form and the agents returned to the bus to finish things up. The kids were all sent to foster homes, the girl with a crush asked Will if she’d ever see him again and he was forced to say yes and John Dorian was assigned to the agents as a permanent advisor due to politics with his home planet. Tyger caught up with his band and they headed to New Orleans. Apparently last time they were there something….happened. Something that must not be spoken of.

A fine time was had by all and we agreed to play a 5 episode first season.

Things I Love Thursday

Weird in Wellington continues to be amazing. Is it wrong that I want to stick something totally random out on out balcony to attract his attention and maybe make it onto the blog? Maybe? Also he has made me notice the little things around me more. I was always prone to notice street art of the stencil or mural kind, but suddenly I’m seeing all these stickers everywhere…

I’ve been going running again and I have to say, I don’t actually love it yet. BUT I love that I am doing it and that it will get easier the more I get back into it and that soon, soon, soon it will be fun again. I’ve gone every second day since Wednesday last week. Except I was lazy and stayed in bed on Tuesday but then we played high impact team supercharge laser force for half an hour for team building and that definitely counts! I was dripping after that I can tell you. The post-run stiffness is easing off and although I’ve had some trouble with lactic acid in my ankles that’s slowly improving too.

I don’t know why, but I really love entertaining. You know, having people in my house. I am currently planning a Thanksgiving dinner for Saturday week and I’m having excellent fun looking up new recipes on foodgawker and making my mouth water as I imagine delicious turkey and other foods. Mmmmm turkey.

Honourable Mentions: My friends and my family, articles that encourage me to keep on Dreaming the dream, Museum lets you play every video game ever, karoke (Yeah, I shredded my throat singing Dream On again but I got applause so I care not!), got tickets to see Harry Potter 7 tomorrow night woo!, reading good books, making the effort to submit my writing, the PTA game my Tuesday night gamers are playing, Lego minifigures, fooseball, Chrome’s gmail checker, new books, milky bars, eskimo pies, weather hot enough that I can wear my sundress and that my new regency dress is ready for hemming!

Fall actual play report – 211 ‘Consequences be damned’

Darius heads into school with Calvin and Megan as entourage. He is greeted by his personal assistant/body guard/awesome guy Brett McAndrews (played by Adam Baldwin) (Or guest star Fraser, depending on how you look at it). He has a cup of tea ready and waiting for Darius. Brett, has of course, been working for Darius for some time. Back when Darius first posited that Global Warming was a problem – Brett was there. He gives the morning’s messages to Darius.
Brett: Bono sends apologies, he can’t make it to the Spring Fling. The Governor wants Darius’s view on the latest fiscal reforms (he’s waiting on hold).
Darius: Of course. (turns to camera) This is awesome!

Alex is waiting in home room, preparing Darius’ regular spot. After home room he talks to the Governor, he borrows the principal’s office to have a bit of privacy. He also has a think about solving quantum physics.

Alex has been at school all night, working on Spring Fling stuff with the kids from shop class. She hovers outside the principal’s office waiting for Darius. She tells him that she’s emptied out her college fund so it can go towards a band for the dance. He tells her thank you but they don’t need the money. Darius then prises her for her work on the tables and gives her a peck on the cheek. Brett says good job to Alex but it doesn’t sound quite as sincere.

Megan follows Darius around like a lovesick puppy when she’s not in class. Darius invites them all to a meeting at his house after school, around 5pm. Brett updates Darius on the snerglewurts (spelling? I don’t know, Fraser made it up) nest. Darius says they will need two tanks of liquid helium.
Brett: I’m not sure if we can source 2 tanks of liquid helium –
Darius: Make it happen!
B: Of course, sir.

Calvin shyly asks Darius if he has time to talk alone.
Darius: Yeah, of course. I always have time for my friends.
Calvin: That’s awesome.
D: How about lunch time.
C: Great, thanks!

(cut to lunch time…) Calvin approaches Darius’s private table and is asked to sit down. He is offered tea, which Brett assures him is expensive Rooibos. Calvin nods, but is not so impressed with the expense.
Darius: So, what did you want to talk about.
Calvin: I just wanted to ask your advice. I kind of, haven’t asked Alex to the Spring Fling yet and I think she’s annoyed about it.
Darius: Did you forget? Or did you assume that you’d be going together?
C: Uh. I guess it slipped my mind. Or…I wasn’t going to go? But it’s your big night so of course I should go.
D: Right, well, you might have hurt her feelings. Girls like to be asked.
C: Right.
D: Do you want me to talk to her about it?
C: Would you? I mean, that would be amazing.
D: I’ll think about it.
C: Oh, I wouldn’t want to put you out. I mean, you could just tell me what to say and I’ll do it.
D: Well, what you should do is apologise, tell her you didn’t mean to take her for granted. Ask her properly, maybe give her some flowers. (Other amazing advice follows.)
C: What should I wear when I say it to her?
D: Here’s what I think you should wear: Black silk shirt, black tie, black jacket, black pants, black dress shoes. And white suspenders.
Calvin thanks Darius for his help, gets up and walks straight out of school to go clothes shopping. As he walks out he passes Megan who blanks him, she’s walking into the lunch room.

In the lunch room Tiffany and Aurora are telling Darius how much they like him and how available they are as dates for the spring fling, either separately or together. They are sycophantic, standing and holding pinkies and asking when he is going to decide who to take. He says he’ll do that tonight. Megan busts through the middle of them, breaking their pinky hold. He asks Megan to sit down as the cheerleaders leave.
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Christmas Parade photo

Today I moseyed out into the sunshine and went to watch the Christmas parade. I took my camera so I could get a couple of photos of my mother in law marching with the Air Force band. They were right near the end of the parade so I took some other photos too. I’m really pleased with this one:

I was watching Dorothy and the other denizens of Oz approach and I was looking at her pointe shoes and wondering why…then she handed the leash for Toto over to the Tin Man and started dancing. She did pirouettes, leaps, lots of the prettiest ballet moves. It was awesome.

Also, I found Wally.