Here are some of the articles I’ve been reading this week, about writing and other topics. I try to read for breadth as well as depth, and some weeks it’s more about breadth! Below are a few of my favourites this week:
I’ve been watching an old gangster film, the 1939 Warner Bros. picture “King of the Underworld”, with Humphrey Bogart and Kay Francis. What always catches my notice in these films (aside from the occasionally TSTL gangsters) is the language they use.
“All right, doc, don’t get sore.”
“Hey, fella, don’t tell ’em that a dame tripped me up.”
“Maybe he’s got a gat!”
“Say… whaddya mean?”
“You’d better scram!”
From Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:AlCaponemugshotCPD.jpg)
Of course, the movie gangsters (or rather, their writers, mostly) stole from the real gangsters. In his article on Huffington Post, Jeffrey Gusfield notes that the actor Edward G. Robinson sat at the back of the courtroom during part of Al Capone’s tax evasion trial and took notes.
Some of the phrases they used are still heard today, but most have gone by the wayside. Or, if they are used, it’s purposefully, to seem old. Phrases like “it’s the bee’s knees” or “the cat’s pajamas” originated in the 1920s (though I’m pretty sure a gangster wouldn’t be caught dead saying such silly things!) When’s the last time you heard someone called a “Mrs. Grundy”? Probably never, except maybe in an Archie comic book. (Mrs. Grundy = a priggish, prudish, person.) Of course, don’t call a gangster that–he’s liable to take you for a ride if you do.
It’s pretty tempting to write my gangsters this way, and to use lots of the 1920s and 1930s slang, but a few choice phrases can go a long way. However, I know I’m going to have to work in a “You ain’t sore, are ya?” into the dialogue somewhere. It’s just too classic not to use!
Check out some more 1920s slang here, and below is a clip from the film ‘The Roaring Twenties’, starring James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart.
Visiting my blog today is the awesome Kerry Freeman, author of the upcoming m/m contemporary baseball romance, Pine Tar & Sweet Tea. I asked Kerry about her favourite baseball film, and she has obliged (especially after I admitted I’d never seen it. Oops.)
Here’s the blurb for her book, and scroll down to read her post!
After playing eleven years in the Minor Leagues, Coach Matt Hawley has returned to his tiny Alabama hometown to lead his old high school baseball team to their first state championship. At the other end of the state, René Días, who left the Major League after one season, is getting his team ready to defend their state title for the second straight year. One is in the closet. The other is between relationships. Neither has any intention of hooking up at the state tournament.
Then they see each other.
Pre-game lust turns into an intense one-night stand neither man can forget, and when their best friends embark on a romance, Matt and René are thrown together again. This time they decide it won’t be for just a single night.
But the fear of disappointing his minister father and shaming his family forces Matt to keep one foot in the closet, even as he and René find their lust is maybe something more. Will Matt endure a life of hiding or will he surrender and become free?
Why Crash Davis Is the Perfect Romantic Hero
Recently, I was shocked to learn that not everyone has watched Bull Durham. *cough*Alyssa*cough* It is not just the Best Baseball Movie Ever (TM), but it also features one Crash Davis, the perfect romantic hero. And I am ready to back up that statement.
1. He is flawed. Oh, God, but is he flawed. He drinks too much. He fights too much. He’s a smartass. (Although I don’t necessarily consider that a flaw.) Besides, perfect people are boring.
2. But he tries. He’s been in the minor leagues for 12 years. His body has taken its share of abuse. Still, when he’s asked to go to single-A ball to train a young pitching phenom, he does. Because he’s a ball player, and that’s what true ball players do.
3. He wants the girl, but he won’t make a fool of himself to get her. He makes it clear what he wants and waits for her to choose. Because he knows she’s gonna choose him. Eventually. Right?
4. He has a way with words. And boy does he.
5. When things don’t go his way, he creates a new path. I don’t want to spoil the end of the movie. Let’s just say Crash doesn’t drown in circumstance. He takes action.
So, go rent the movie. Don’t make me wag my finger at you. *cough*Alyssa*cough*
Kerry was born and raised in Alabama, and she grew up swearing she was going to get the hell out of Dodge the instant she could. Turns out Dodge ain’t so bad, and she never left. Alabama’s version of a city girl, she married a country boy, and the adorkable couple lives in a small town with their two socially awkward dogs.
Kerry loves to write about love, and it turns out most of the voices in her head are men. She also loves to write about the South, so most of her stories end up there, one way or another.
A tomboy and a geek from way back, Kerry has a day job but dreams she will one day write full time. She has a weakness for yaoi, Japanese stationery, YA, and ginger-haired singers from Britain. She owns an impressive t-shirt collection. Nowaki & Hiroki are her homeboys.
Here’s a little snippet from the first draft of my 1920s gangster novel, The Orpheus:
Finally, she felt his hands on her hips, his fingers dipping beneath the lace of her underwear, finding the hollows of her hipbones. She opened her eyes as his hot breath brushed her stomach. He kissed her there, just above her bellybutton, and she carded her fingers through his dark hair.
“Please,” she whispered.
And I’m going to leave you with that. Happy Thanksgiving! (for my Canadian friends)