May 25th, 2006

taking a break

Three things on my break

1. Nuts! Cashews, specifically. They count as actual food, and I had them with my lunch, and this seems like progress. And lunch went better than breakfast did. I'm still skeptical of dinner (grilling out with the visiting relations for Grandma's birthday), but it's Mother and Dad's house, so I can get myself soup or toast or cereal if I find I'm not up to whatever hunks of meat are on the menu.

2. I'm not sure how to convey to the reader of Dwarf's Blood Mead and The Mark of the Sea Serpent that they should just assume all adult males are bearded. I would say "unless the text says otherwise," but the text isn't going to say otherwise: this is not a society that is much for shaving. I could have endless loving descriptions of whose beard is trimmed short and whose is flowy and whose is kind of scruffy, but this is more likely to give the reader the impression that I am obsessed with beards than that they are the standard around those parts. (And heaven forfend that anyone should ever think...well. It's barely less obnoxious than elaborate fixations on other secondary sex characteristics, in literature written for general enjoyment, is what I'm saying.)

Hmm. There are foreigners. Maybe the foreigners -- but the thing is, while I expect that the foreigners would be more clean-shaven at home, they have just crossed a very cold sea in the middle of winter, with lots of men per boat. Even tepid water for shaving is not going to be at a premium, and their faces will be cold. I suspect that many more of them would have beards than would if they were at home.

I think I've done pretty well with Lisved's small slenderness not being particularly generally appealing in this culture while still appealing to Thrand (so that the point is not "skinny people suck" but rather "such standards are not universal"). I hope I have. I hate it when authors get that wrong. (Edith Pattou, I'm looking at you!) But this is more a visualization (and smell and feel) thing than a social point, really.

Hmmm. Revisions, bah.

3. Bad casting can really ruin a movie. I'm not sure that the musical version of "The Producers" would have been good with someone other than Uma Thurman as Ulla (there is still, for example, the matter of Matthew Broderick to contend with, and the matter of Will Ferrell), but the difference between her dancing and Lee Meredith's in the original was just plain depressing. I have liked Uma Thurman in other roles -- "Gattaca," for example, and somewhat in "The Truth About Cats and Dogs." But she was not supposed to be any kind of free spirit in either. The difference in body language plus the plot difference where Ulla suggests that they go to Brazil meant that all of the movie that dealt with her was about a calculated little schemer, not someone who was enjoying herself. Bleh.

I feel like John D. MacDonald on this point, but sometimes Travis McGee is right and exactly choreographed sex appeal is really not the thing.