So Jim Macdonald and I were sitting around the office this afternoon, and – as happens with writers – we fell to discussing Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest, and how Hammett had managed to come up with one of the handful of infinitely reusable plots. Dickens’s A Christmas Carol is one; likewise Chaucer’s “Pardoner’s Tale” and Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. Plots like these, once their first artist discovers them, can be remixed, remade, adapted, or otherwise messed around with almost ad infinitum and still retain their energy.
Red Harvest – originally a fix-up of four short stories from Black Mask magazine – was part of the inspiration (along with other Hammett works) for Yojimbo by Kurosawa. Then Sergio Leone adapted/translated/stole/was inspired by Yojimbo to make A Fistful of Dollars, and Walter Hill subsequently did the same with Last Man Standing.
“If they were to remake Red Harvest as a Muppet movie,” Macdonald opined, “it would still be a good movie and I’d watch it.”
“If they did,” I wondered, “who would play the Continental Op – Kermit or Fozzie?”
And Macdonald replied, “Miss Piggy would play the Continental Op.”
“You mean, a gender-flipped Muppet Red Harvest?”
And I had to concede that he was right. Miss Piggy would absolutely rock a trench coat and fedora. And she’s probably the only Muppet who could believably do hard-boiled noir.
Here’s Forbes Magazine – which really ought to know better – in the midst of an otherwise unexceptional article about the impact of the mega-success of Black Panther on the movie industry’s current reliance on producing a year-round series of blockbusters:
This is an entire pre-summer slate of would-be event movies getting steamrolled by one very big tentpole.
Squint a little with your mind’s eye, if you can, and try to picture what would you would be seeing, if this were a literal image.
Right. You’ve got a chalkboard getting squished by a support pole (I’ll even make it easier for you by assuming a circus-tent-sized wooden mast, rather than a flimsy aluminum pup-tent sort of thing) attached in some fashion to a piece of heavy road equipment. Which puts us squarely in Toon Town, if it puts us any place at all.
The moral of the story, if there is one: If you’re going to commit metaphor, for goodness’s sake take moment to visualize the whole thing first
Meanwhile, it’s domain-renewal time again for the Doyle and Macdonald web site, where there can be found links to all sorts of things, including sample chapters from most of our novels and a contact link for our agent, plus a lot of other stuff. Donations toward its upkeep – because web hosting doesn’t come for free – can be made via the Buy Me a Coffee link in the sidebar here.
What’s happening this weekend on March 3 is that my spouse and co-author, Jim Macdonald, is going to be doing his stage magic at the Vermont Winter Faire in Essex Junction, Vermont. This is an indoor faire, being held at the Champlain Valley Exposition event center.
Once again, he’ll be doing walkaround magic all day; this time, he’ll also be doing a stage performance at 2:30 PM.
If you’re in the area, come by and give him (and all the other vendors and performers) a look!
While idly mousing about the internet the other day, I followed a link to this page, which is all about an artist in Texas who’s been re-imagining images of classic Western heroes using female models, with awesome results:
And my thought, instantly, was “Damn, I want to read the books that those are the covers for!” Because behind every powerful image is a good story.
Jo (who deservedly often has Homeric epithets like “acclaimed” and “award-winning” affixed to her name) ran the Farthingparty convention in Montreal from 2006 to 2014, before time-management issues and the stress of worrying every year whether or not the convention would draw enough members to break even brought the run to an end. She’s coming back now with the new Kickstarter model, which she explains in detail on the project page.
I really really want this Kickstarter to succeed. (Yes, I’ve already thrown in my mite, and will throw more as more becomes available.) Farthingparty was the closest convention to where we live,† and I think we made every single one of them, even the one which we had to do as a Saturday day trip because we were moving one of our offspring into their dorm in Boston on Sunday. I’ve missed it ever year since it ended, and having a new convention we could attend in Montreal would be a wonderful thing.