This week, spring bloomed here on the East Coast (at last!) and I had a flurry of conference calls with Hollywood folks (new project!). With Southern California and movies on my mind, I scrolled through the WordBowl archives to revisit a flash fiction piece inspired by a word suggestion from Los Angeleno(a?) Jan Ostergard, which I share with you below.
Do you have a favorite word? I would love to see it! Drop it to WordBowl HERE
“conundrum” is from the brain of Jan Ostegard who profiles musicians/actors/authors/filmmakers, writes about all manner of creators/creation, and is a “Phantom Creations” co-conspirator.
These executives were presented as important, but none wear ties. Confusing, business-makers dressing same as artists. Do they want to be artists? No one handed him a business card, which prevents him from addressing anyone by name. None of them have been to Japan, one says he has not left California except for tripping a road to Mexicali.
Rhythmic, mexxxxicaaallleeee, a word for Satoshi to stretch-beat-pulse into a fight sequence soundtrack. He wishes Satoshi was here. His producer only agreed to send him, alone, after many requests from the film festival — hinting, awards — and calls from studios.
He wants to ask these movie executives why interest in his film. Hollywood is big movies, big explosions, big stars for global audience. Japanese film is for Japanese. They discuss remake, “Americanize”, colonial word, to make something not from America into an American thing. The conversation whirls, smiles stretch across faces, English whips through his head before he can fully translate, they interrupt, overlap, agree, agree, agree.
He struggles with the order of the words, multiple negatives, questions within a question. Any answer may offend his hosts.
Perhaps he misunderstands, his many years of English inadequate preparation. He has not slept on this side of the globe, the elastic hours snap him awake.
They keep turning to his film festival escort— Reena, difficult for him to pronounce — who speaks a bit of Japanese. His English is much more, but she is native-speaker so they are reassured.
Important he does not make a mistake. Making a U.S. film changes everything. He looks around at expectant faces, laughs a moment after everyone else. The room nods. Smiles, handshakes, laughing bows. Exit. Reena hugs him, says they never meet with anyone that long, ever. Time for drinks with naked women at hotel pool. Did she say this? She says, this is just the beginning, of the night or his U.S. career, uncertain.
Their arrival greeted by an aquarium-lounging, bare-breasted mermaid blowing kisses through scarlet lips; they join a parade of ropey women in flimsy dresses, led by the trajectory of their impossible breasts. Hollywood, hard masquerading as soft, or the inverse. Poolside, everyone smiling at their barely-sipped drinks, scanning potentially prettier parties, whispering names of spotted celebrities. Thumping music impairs his hearing, he surfs waves of laughter more easily with every florescent cocktail.
Sushi appears, the rice is wrong. A man as indiscernible as any American waves over a Taiwanese Toy Tycoon who orders shochu, which this bar does not stock, settles for a bottle of premium tequila. They converse in English, their common language.
No one is attending the festival, but all are impressed Scorsese is introducing his film. Their party swells, lights shimmer, bright-haired, big-teethed girls spill across laps, mermaids all.
Reena is with him again, skin glowing, her American breasts inviting his admiration, as big and welcoming and possibly insurmountable as America itself. He asks, again, if Scorsese-san watched his film before agreeing to introduce to American audience. Reena laughs, what did you say?
“conundrum” (which started out as a much longer story and required considerable whittling before it was suitable for you to read here) was written with a gorgeous sake and perfectly pickled vegetables at Wasan (east village, nyc)
Do you have a word just begging for a story? Send it in!