I was watching Fail Safe. I rarely catch the start of this movie, so it was nice to see it on DVD. The ban on commentaries continues, so I had to go to IMDB, where I saw this trivia:
The US also declared DEFCON 2 at the start of the Gulf War in 1991. The stated sequence of colors is correct - blue, green, yellow, red. Omitted is white, DEFCON 1 - imminent and all but unavoidable nuclear war.
I was astonished - I'd lived through DEFCON 2? Was was I doing? How was I not even aware?
Reason 1: Well, I was in a theater on January 15, 1991, watching Edward Scissorhands after work with some friends. Oddly, before the movie the projectionist showed an image of the UN building accompanied by the national anthem. We commented that was weird, but guessed the theater owner was fond of the UN for some reason. NPR let me know we were at war on the drive home.
Reason 2: It all depends on what you mean by DEFCON 2: evidently it isn't a universal defense condition. The strategic command may be at one defense condition and the Army another. (It also depends on what you mean by 'Gulf War', the Internet seems sure it means Bush the Younger's Shock and Awe, not Bush the Elder's Desert Storm, but this interesting article from the 1991 Baltimore Sun plants it on G.H.W. Bush.)
I am giving the novel a rest until Christmas. Still, I woke up this morning hashing out a scene in my mind: a scene in which our heroine scrabbles though some nuclear waste in a mine that is on the outskirts of her depression-era oil boom town.
My thoughts in order:
I need to revise that scene so there is more "show" and less "tell."
Is that scene before or after the scene where she's sick?
Is she sick from radiation poisoning while she's rappelling down the side of the church?
It's so weird that I don't remember what section that scene is in.
Did I delete that scene in some early revision? I need to check my synopsis.
Why is there nuclear waste in 1931? That's an anachronism. I might need to take that scene out entirely.
That was followed a full five minutes later by, "Why am I convinced there's a nuclear radiation scene in my book?" And then I fully woke up.
I think it took so long because my imagined description of the wooden bins in the mine where the radioactive waste is stored was so compelling. I could see them, I could see her scrabbling away.
I blame the two obvious catalysts: 1) I have gone several full days without thinking, "I should be working on the book," and 2) clearly Kiss Me Deadly and its incongruous radiation made a great impression on me.
For duration of the pandemic, my social circle hasn't been too touched by the Covid. One co-worker had an asymptotic case, and one co-worker I technically never met died, as did one good friend's close relation.
That was last year. Two weeks ago, two close friends got Covid from two different sources. Thankfully, they were both fully vaccinated, and both got monoclonal antibodies so they made it through. One person had left her bubble and her mask behind, but still kept six feet away from others. The other stayed in her bubble, but one outside visitor took down the entire bubble.
I know there's an uptick in cases, but two friends in one week? In response to the uptick, the authorities say everyone needs boosters. It seems so wrong, though, to have the US already getting boosters when entire countries haven't gotten over 10% vaccinated at all. And there are only 50% vaccinated world wide.
This is not even close to being over, especially with the new variant, and on top of that it's getting closer to home.
It was nice to have Thanksgiving week to devote to finishing up the empty spots in the book and the hard spots. The hard spots were ultimately not that hard, because I allowed myself to do a crappy job, to be fixed later.
Then again, I refer you to every painting I've done for the last three years, and as you know I don't go back and fix the bad spots.
Gary immediately said "I want to read it," and I shut that down. It goes against my theory that if you want to do something, you have to do it really badly first.
What is remarkable is how much free time I have now. I am taking off for a few weeks. I might go in and fix quotation marks. (There are many quotation marks finished up with apostrophes. Or more often, less than signs, for some reason.)
My inner child and I had a cocktail of vodka, Chambord, and grape Kool-aid to celebrate.
In the past, icebreakers at work were easy. "Say your name, your department, and one interesting thing about you --" and boom, born with an extra thumb, on to the next person.
Ice breakers are harder now, because we have zoom meetings every day, and the extra thumb has very little impact after the first time, so we have fifteen minute debate topics.
Cake or pie? (Pie won by a slim margin.)
Thanksgiving: Buy or bake? (Fifty-fifty.)
Nina or Pirate? (There was no debate, we were all Ninjas.)
Given that the daily meetings are only 30 minutes long, I thought it was odd they devoted half the given time to Would You Rather Fly a Dragon or Be A Dragon (fly), and I was initially impatient.
After six months, it dawned on me that it was actually beneficial to begin the day arguing. If I start the day telling Joe he's a fool for preferring cake, it's much easier to say "I think you are also wrong about the placement of the copyright on that PDF" at the end of the day.
Are they doing this on purpose? I don't know. I suspect they are. Perhaps we could debate that when we are all back from Thanksgiving break.
Gary spent the week claiming that he was unable to chew because of his recently extracted tooth. "DO NOT MAKE ANY FOOD FOR ME FOR THANKSGIVING I CANT EAT ANYTHING NOT EVEN YAMS.'
Unfortunately I had already stocked up early on the Turkey Day supplies, and when I say supplies I mean items fully prepared by the grocery store. Pint of dressing. Pint of cranberry relish. The only cooking I intended to do was the turkey and reconstituting a packet of powdered gravy. I cooked everything from scratch last year and set off the smoke alarm -- not worth it.
I suppose I could freeze everything for twelve weeks from now when Gary's mouth is healed. I anticipate I will spend Thanksgiving day, Black Friday, and the weekend nibbling on Thanksgiving, while Gary spoons mashed potatoes on his tongue and swallows without chewing, poor guy.
I had a dim memory that I enjoyed watching Vivien Leigh in That Hamilton Woman, so I recommended to Gary that we watch it.
IMDB claims this was Stalin's favorite movie. (He gave it 5 hammers and sickles.) It was also Winston Churchill's favorite movie. (5 victory signs up.) I don't know why it was their favorite, unless they felt Lord Nelson was the star of the show. Laurence Olivier keeps being pecked apart by munitions until he dies, totally unconcerned with what will happen to his courtesan.
(I had to check up in that, and it seems he actually plead with the English government that they would establish a fund for her upkeep in her later years. And of course, that's demented. I mean, "I know my wife won't give my lover any money after I die, so I want the government to take care of that.")
At any rate, Gary has nothing in common with Stalin or Churchill, and he kept up a running commentary that was so negative that I left the room just after Lady Hamilton meets Nelson's wife.
So, it was disappointing the second time around. However, I feel Stalin and Churchill's accounts might bear more significance than mine.
The first time I kissed Gary, there was nothing. No sparks. No chemistry. Then I went home and went to bed and resigned myself to a cold loveless marriage, because I did really like him.
I don't know what happened, but when we kissed after our second date -- wow. Lots of chemistry. Big beakers of chemistry. There was no alcohol swirled in the chemistry either time, so it wasn't that. Big catalyst that second time though, whew.
What would have happened if I'd written him off after that first date? That's the lesson kids: always go for a second make-out session.
I remember twenty years ago Mom bought herself some embossed monogrammed stationery, and did the same for me as a birthday gift. She made no comment on what it cost.
I hoarded the last piece for twenty years, until the other day I used it for a thank-you note. I tried to buy some more, and GOOD GOD is embossed stationery expensive.
And it is strange, because there is no longer such a call for nice stationery -- and frankly, though mine was lovely, I am sure there is special elite stationery that has even higher status. I'm sure my Old Guard New England stationery would be superseded by QEII royal warrant stationery.
[minutes later after researching even better brands]
Jesus and all the heavenly host, seven hundred and fifteen dollars for a box of 50 notecards? And it isn't even royal warrant stationery; it's from Gwyneth Paltrow Goop endorsed paper maker Sugar.
Lord. That put me off. Made me realize that wanting the best is a fool's game. I will stick with the non-customized Amazon thank you cards I have in the drawer.
Over a month I graphed it, starting with this drawing on my laundry room wall. (The laundry room wall is the best expression of the variety of winter light - I should paint the contents of the laundry room, like the iron, instead of the birdbath and the sundial. It changes colors dramatically.)
I know Kiss Me Deadly is a 1955 classic. And yet, weird. I suppose I should say "innovative." But no, some of it is just weird. Weird beyond the suspension of disbelief. These weird things kept pulling me out of the snappy dialogue and interesting characters and gorgeous sets.
Weird Opening Credits. They roll the wrong way, scrolling from the top to the bottom. Think the intro to Star Wars only with credits.
Weird Chloris Leachman: In her first film role, Chloris Leachman rocks the short hair. I've only ever seen her in long hair roles: Phyllis Lindstrom, Frau Blucher. It's hard to identify her.
Weird Reactions to Mike Hammer's lack of sex appeal. So the filmmakers have this anti-hero, Mike Hammer, who is an ass, and you can tell the filmmakers are men because at least two women are introduced to Mike and immediately kiss him. (Not counting sympathetic whore/assistant Velda.)
Weird plot twist that was not in the book: Introducing a Light Bulb in its first role as The Threat of Nuclear War. I spent the conclusion saying, "I don't think that's how radiation works."
Weird Ending. So [BIG SPOILER], the evil woman opens the box that contains the light bulb, and the radiation is released, and in the restored ending Mike Hammer and Velda stagger away to the beach, suggesting they survive. Which of course they don't, given that Mike had a radiation burn a few hours before, and Velda's going to die of cancer in a month, at best, if she everyone in LA isn't dead already. THE END.