Feb. 12th, 2012

humbleminion: (Default)
Yeah, so still plugging away, very very slowly, on the superhero novel.

THe general shape is starting to become clear, though certain aspects of character, implementation and (especially) the ending are still veiling in the swirling mists of 'dunno' at this point in time. And then there's, y'know, the minor detail of actually sitting down and spitting out a quarter of a million words or so. Particularly difficult in summer, when the temperature in my study hits 37°C pretty regularly and the CPU on my computer overheats and shuts itself down if I have more than two applications open at once.

Have been reading/watching superhero stuff as inspirational material. The novels ... vary, wildly, from the worthless to the pretty good. The comics are so self-referential and incestuous as to be almost completely incomprehensible to someone coming at them without 30 years of backstory knowledge (and people wonder why the comic book business is circling the drain!) Which leaves TV and film. Heroes lost me pretty early, No Ordinary Family only lasted a handful of episodes, and while I'm very much enjoying Misfits, so far it's another one of the costume-and-codename-free modernist deconstructions of superpowered people so not so much use to me. Kim Possible is always reliable though, and I'm pretty sure I've raved about that show before and you should all go and watch it, because it's awesome.

Most recent film was Green Lantern, and wow, what a waste of a couple of valuable hours of time that I could have more usefully spent picking lint from my navel or sorting the contents of my lentil jar by size. Anyway, it made me think a bit about the Bechdel test. The movie failed the test, in case there was any doubt. It failed the test probably harder than any film I've ever seen before in my life, even the ones like Saving Private Ryan which didn't have any femae character at all. Green Lantern had exactly ONE female character, so was never going to have two female characters having a conversation about anything. It also was scripted so that the only female character didn't get to talk to anyone but the male lead, and even when she did, she only ever got to talk ABOUT the male lead. But she shouldn't feel lonely, because in this dreadful piece of rubbish that's all that ANYONE ever got to talk about. Bleh. Seriously, I defy anyone to watch that film and come back with anything even remotely resembling a motivation, conviction, personality, or character analysis for anyone other than Ryan Reynolds. Every action taken by everyone in the entire movie was driven entirely by the needs of the plot, which meant the needs of the main character. This film didn't have a cast, it had one guy, some CGI, and a bunch of backup singers.

But from a writing perspective, where does this leave me Bechdel Test-wise? I can certainly write better than the Green Lantern scriptwriters (though so can most gibbons, so this is not a rousing endorsement), but I could very easily fall into some of the same traps. I'm writing with a male 1st-person point of view character. There's room for digression, and heavy use of flashbacks using 3rd-person pov with a different perspective character, but Bechdel-wise, it's a tough thing. I've also got the superhero gender imbalance thing to deal with. Men traditionally DO outnumber women in the classic superhero groups, and I've got solid plot and theme-related reasons for wanting to stick with that tradition, early on at least. Unfortunately, tokenism really bugs me when I read it or watch it myself, but I find myself locked into using (with a certain amount of lampshading) token female characters in deliberately cliched roles. Writing female characters in their traditional superhero roles as 'the girlfriend' and the like without provoking female readers to throw the book across the room before they get to the good stuff it going to be a tough gig. Fortunately, I'm the only bloke in my writing group, so at least I've got a test audience to bounce stuff off, who will no doubt slap me down if I mess it up too badly...

And apropos of nothing in particular, I wish the butterflies would stop flocking into the house and dying all over the place. There are sad little pairs of patterned orange-black wings scattered all over the place, like kiss-marks from someone wearing some seriously gothic lipstick. I feel like I'm stuck in the 'sinister symbolism and foreshadowing' bit of the horror movie, before the monster shows up.
humbleminion: (Default)
Marinated bbq pork

Ingredients
150ml ketchup (not tomato sauce)
6 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 orange
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cumin seeds (or equivalent cumin powder)
1 tsp fennel seeds
3 gloves garlic, crushed
salt
about 1.2-1.5kg pork fillets, about 3 or 4 depending on how long they are

Method
Grind the fennel and cumin seeds to powder in a mortar & pestle. Juice the orange, then grate off the rind (not the white pith - leave as much of that behind as you can), and throw away the rest. Mix everything except the pork and salt together well.

Lay the pork fillets down parallel to each other, nice and close together. If any are tramatically longer than the rest, trim off the skinny trailing end and use it to bulk out the skinny trailing end of the shorter ones. You want the finished product to have about 3 or 4 equal length rows. Using metal skewers, skewer the fillets together crossways, perpendicular to the length of the fillets. Press them together nice and close. Salt both sides generously, then place in a non-reactive dish (ie, ceramic, plastic or coated metal, not stainless steel!) and pour the marinade mixture over it, making sure both sides and the ends are well covered. Leave to marinate for 6-8 hrs.

Place on a rack under a grill, or else on a bbq. Cook on medium, every 5 minutes turning and coating generously with the leftover marinade when the side exposed to the flame starts to dry out. When it's cooked, approx 20-30 mins, the marinade on both sides will be darkened and no longer liquidy. Remove from the heat and let stand for about 5 mins to let the juices settle before serving. Carve cross-ways, parallel to the skewers, for best effect. It looks a very dark and heavy but is actually quite sweet, fruity and light - serve on a hot day with some green salad, white rice, corn on the cob, and an assortment of bbq sauces. Grill some peaches if you want to go the extra mile. Leftovers go very nicely cold in a baguette the next day.

Serves: Lots. probably 4? Depends on how many side dishes you whip up (you do need them, sorry - this one is too samey just by itself)
Difficulty: Lots easier than it looks. the worry with pork is overcooking it so it dries out, but the marinade and the thickness of the fillets when compared to pork chops etc makes this a lot more forgiving than most pork dishes. Keep an eye on it though.
Kitchen Mess Factor: Yeah, cleaning the grill can be a bugger. Not much else though
Date-impressing quotient: Maybe not so much. Tastes good, but it's a pretty blokey presentation. Not really an intimate meal for 2 kinda dish. Goes great if you're catering for a group at a party or bbq though, gets you much more brownies points than just chucking on some sausages.
Cost: Pretty reasonable, if you can get the pork without breaking the bank, but still not an everyday moneysaver kinda thing. Go to the butcher rather than the supermarket.

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February 2012

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