It’s one of those days, when my head is swirling with ideas, but there’s no obvious (or even non-obvious) plot line. So, I’ll just lay them out, one-by-one. Maybe one of them will lead to a plot line for you.
ALMANAC: Terrible snow in northern Japan, Britain and the east coast of the United States. They have been killer storms, in that at least one person has died. The story of one of the deaths in Hokkaido is a peculiar one. An NHK television reporter on his day off was driving in the forest, hunting deer, according to the Mainichi Shimbun. Three roadside assistant workers set off to rescue him after he got caught in the blizzard, but both of their trucks got stuck. They called for a snow plow, but it didn’t arrive, so one of the workers left to the car to check his surroundings, and he got lost in the snow and died. Snow is no joke, folks. If your hero and heroine are stuck in a snowed-in cabin, don’t send them out to look for help unless they’ve got a long rope tied to the front door. And if they are arguing in a car that drives into the ditch? Make sure they clear the exhaust pipe so they don’t get carbon monoxide poisoning. Unless, of course, they want an unhappy ending.
ALMANAC, PART 2: Cheerful news! Today is the Doll Festival of Japan. Families with young girls typically set up a diorama (that can range in size from a small cabinet to a 5-foot high staircase of decoration) depicting an imperial wedding in the Heian era. The full set has all the props – the bride’s sewing kit and rice cooker, all the way up through the Ministers of the Left and Right, the musicians and three hand-maidens, all topped by the bride and groom on the top tier. It’s like Barbie on steroids, with a good dose of historical drama. Traditionally, children could play with the dolls, but these days, the fancy sets are upwards of $1500, and for display only. The dolls must be promptly put away tomorrow, or superstition says the girls in the family will have trouble finding marriage.
RANDOM JAPANESE IMPERIAL TRIVIA: Murasaki Shikibu wrote The Tale of Genji during her time in the Japanese imperial court during the Heian period (she wrote between 1000 and 1012). According to Wikipedia, it is sometimes called the world’s first novel (and then Wikipedia goes into a bunch of qualifiers – world’s first modern novel, the first psychological novel, or the first novel to be considered a classic. Whatevs. Early lady writer, outwriting the dudes.) While it’s got romantic elements, it’s not really a romance in the RWA sense of the word – more like a soap opera. Worth a look if you’ve got a snow day on your hands.
SPRING IS COMING!: Despite all the snow, the days are longer and warmer here in Hokkaido, and a romance writer’s heart turns to fancy. I got a good dose of vitamin D while shoveling snow in the sunshine.
BOOK CLUB: The David Bowie memorial book club has chosen Puckoon by Spike Milligan for its March offering. I haven’t been able to keep up with the book club that started in March – January’s Hawksmoor was very hard to buy, and February was too short and busy for me to read The Fire Next Time. But Puckoon sounds like one of those comedies that are very easy to read, but wallop you with a good dose of reality if you stop to think about it. Kind of like the Black Adder series. Plus, it’s available by ebook, so I might give it a whirl.
I KNOW A MAN, WHO KNOWS A LADY, WHO IS RELATED TO A GAL WHO KNOWS THIS GUY: I’m talking about allusions here. For the past week, clips from Mel Brooks’ very funny yet horrifying movie, The Producers, have been showing up in my feed. The Producers is about two con men who hatch a scheme to make a failing Broadway show that they can embezzle the heck out of, but their plans go awry when the atrocious thing actually turns into a hit show. Then this morning, this five-minute video showed up on my feed, from Jimmy Kimmel. It’s about a couple of con men who hatch a scheme to make a failing presidential campaign that they can embezzle the heck out of . . . . Starring Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane, with an amazing cameo by Chloris Leachman. (Yes, she’s still alive! Yes, so is Mel Brooks! At least at the time of this writing. Hang in there, guys, and keep making good art!)
ALMANAC, PART 3: In like a lion, out like a lamb. Maybe ferocious beginnings can lead to sweet endings. Or is that too boring? Let’s discuss.
And that’s a digest of my undigestible thoughts this Saturday morning. Have a productive weekend, or at least one that nurtures your mind and body.