Showing posts with label Lee Marvin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lee Marvin. Show all posts

30 December 2019

Trouble and Strife - Cockney Rhyming Slang


Several months ago author Simon Woods asked me if I could write a story for an upcoming collection of stories, Trouble and Strife. The concept is to take a word or 2-word combination from cockney slang and write a story about it. The Cockney slang was developed in East London back around the 1850s for criminals and street merchants to communicate to each other in a code that others wouldn’t understand. For example they would use the words “bacon and eggs” for the words legs. And then to make it more confusing they might only refer to the first word instead of the complete words. So a phrase might go something like: “Check out those bacons over there.” 

Here is a video explaining the rhyming scheme better than I can:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=La7Tg5e547g  And you can find a list with several slangs here: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Appendix:Cockney_rhyming_slang 

Editor Simon Wood explained the following rationale for creating the anthology:

“Cockney rhyming slang is something that’s engrained in everyday British speech.  It’s distorted our mother tongue to the point that half the time people don’t realize they’re using it.  Even Americans don’t realize it.  “Chewing the fat” is pretty common in the US but it’s rhyming slang for “chat.” My mum is technically a cockney but my dad tossed around the odd gobbet of cockney rhyming slang all the time which baffled me as a kid until he taught me.  I love rhyming slang.  I love its creativity and imaginativeness.  I like that it keeps you on your toes when you’re having to decode a conversation while you’re having it.  I especially love the colorful phrases rhyming slang kicks up.  They paint a picture—and that was how I wanted my writers to feel.” 



Once I understood what Simon was asking for my mind shot over to a particular scene in the 1990s Scottish film Trainspotting when the characters are actually watching trains and not shooting up heroin. One character (John Lee Miller’s Sick Boy, I believe) turns to Ewan McGregor and says he’s “fuckin’ Lee Marvin.” 

Image result for trainspotting
My odd inspiration

I’ve maybe seen the movie twice and probably not in 15- 20 years, but somehow I recalled the moment when I heard a cockney rhyme and knew what it meant. So I wrote a revenge action story called “Lee Marvin” that would fit within the famous actor’s repertoire. The story kicks off with a tall, white haired protagonist who has been double-crossed, shot, and is starv…very, very hungry.  

Image result for lee marvin
Smilin' and Starvin'
Here are a few more stories featured in the collection as described by their authors. 

Babbling Brook (for “crook”) was one of the first Cockney phrases Simon mentioned when recruiting a story from me. I immediately thought, what if Brook was a person...

When I put a list of Cockney slang in front of me, Dicky Dirt jumped out at me. I didn’t know what it meant, but it sounded like the nickname of a buddy back home. Gweez, Bucket, Kirch, Nuts, Dong, and Snout are all people I grew up with. Dicky Dirt would fit right in. When I learned that it was the slang for shirt, that was cool, because a couple of my friends wear shirts. You know, if there’s a funeral or wedding.

My story "Barnet Fair" is set in a hairdresser's salon called . . . Barnet Fair. Two reasons. First, my favourite Cockney rhyming slang is the stuff I've heard and even used my whole life and didn't know was Cockney rhyming slang. I never wondered why a hairdo was called a barnet (and me a linguistics graduate!) [[just like I always thought "brassick" was the word people were saying when they had no money, because money = brass and it's sickening to have none. In my defence, how could anyone get "boracic" = boracic lint = skint = broke]]. The other reason for the story was my swooning in delight after reading Renee James' Seven Suspsects, whose protagonist is a hairdresser (note: this is not a cozy) and the way it brought back memories of my own days as a Saturday shampoo girl. 

When Simon told me he wanted a short story for his anthology, Trouble & Strife my first thought was, Wife. That quickly morphed into Wife Beater and I knew that Trouble and Strife was the story for me. Trouble was, that title had already been taken so I muttered a few choice Anglo Saxon words and tried to choose something else from the list of available slang terms. But I couldn’t shake Wife Beater, which is somebody who beats up his wife in England but a sleeveless vest in America. Then Trouble and Strife became available again and I had my story. Now all I had to do was write it. The proof being, you’re reading it now.

My story is “Pleasure and Pain.” I travelled that March with my son through Germany’s Black Forest and we came upon many small towns, with people who seemed guarded. They were friendly but there seemed to be something hidden. With the gray and the rain it added to the shroud. So I said to my son, this would be a great setting for a story about a town hiding secrets.

I selected “Tea Leaf” which means thief. The phrase instantly evoked a burglary for me, and allowed me to explore a question I’ve always pondered. What would I do, if I were caught in a store robbery, and I suddenly realize that one of the robbers is someone I know?



Other stories in the collection are:

Angel Luis Colón's "Bunson Burner"
Paul Finch's "Mr. Kipper"
Jay Stringer's "Half Inch"
Sam Wiebe's  "Lady from Bristol"

You can get your copy of Trouble and Strife directly from Down and Out Books, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other upstanding vendors. 


Wishing everybody a happy New Years along with extra reading and writing!





Travis Richardson is originally from Oklahoma and lives in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. He has been a finalist and nominee for the Macavity, Anthony, and Derringer short story awards. He has two novellas and his short story collection, BLOODSHOT AND BRUISED, came out in late 2018. He reviewed Anton Chekhov short stories in the public domain at www.chekhovshorts.com. Find more at TSRichardson.com

11 October 2016

Killing Me Softly With Your Song…or Anything Else You Have Handy


As mystery/thriller writers, we know there are certainly a lot of ways to kill someone. As Kid Shelleen (Lee Marvin), says in “Cat Ballou”: “Guns, bottles, fists, knives, clubs – all the same to me. All the same to you?”
But let’s face it – been there, done that – and these are pretty mundane and ordinary ways to off someone. If you want to kill someone in an interesting and unique way, especially if you’re a character in a movie or book, you have to let the creative juices flow, like Herb Hawkins (Hume Cronyn) and Joseph Newton (Henry Travers) do in Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt (even if not in script format or what ended up in the film):   

     
Herb (Cronyn): You folks are getting pretty stylish. Having dinner later every evening.
Joe (Travers): Ha ha!
Herb:  l-l picked some mushrooms.
Joe: You don't say?
Herb: Mushrooms mean anything to you, Joe?
Joe: I eat 'em on my steak when I'm out and the meat's not good enough as it is.
Herb: If I brought you some mushrooms, would you eat 'em?
Joe: Suppose I would. Why?
Herb: Then I've got it. The worst I'd be accused of would be manslaughter. Doubt if I'd get that.   Accidental death, pure and simple. A basket of good mushrooms and...two or three poisonous              ones.
     Joe: No, no. Innocent party might get the poisonous ones. I thought of something better 
     when I was shaving. A bath tub. Pull the legs out from under you, hold you down. 
     Young Charlie (Teresa Wright): Oh, what's the matter with you two? Do you always have to 
     talk about killing people?
     Joe: We're not talking about killing people. Herb's talking about killing me, 
     and I'm talking about killing him.
     Mrs. Newton/Emmy (Patricia Collinge): Charlie, it's your father's way of relaxing.
     Young Charlie: Can't he find some other way to relax? Can't we have a little peace and quiet 
     without dragging in poisons all the time? 
     Mrs. Newton: Charlie! She doesn’t ' t make sense talking like that. I'm worried about her.

***

Of course, there’s always poison. Sure it’s been done before, but what hasn’t. So maybe get creative with it like this bit from The Court Jester:

    Hawkins (Danny Kaye): I've got it! I've got it! The pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the             pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true! Right?
    Griselda (Mildred Natwick): Right. But there's been a change: they broke the chalice from the                 palace!
    Hawkins: They *broke* the chalice from the palace?
    Griselda: And replaced it with a flagon.
    Hawkins: A flagon...?
    Griselda: With the figure of a dragon.
    Hawkins: Flagon with a dragon.
    Griselda: Right.
    Hawkins: But did you put the pellet with the poison in the vessel with the pestle?
    Griselda: No! The pellet with the poison's in the flagon with the dragon! The vessel with the pestle        has the brew that is true!
    Hawkins: The pellet with the poison's in the flagon with the dragon; the vessel with the pestle has          the brew that is true.
    Griselda: Just remember that.

Uh, okay.

***

So let’s talk about some creative ways to kill someone, though this list will hardly be complete.
And here’s a starter list of many fun, fab and creative ways to die as found in movies:

Poison string – James Bond
Light Saber – Star Wars
Captive Bolt Pistol – No Country for Old Men
Painted to death (gold, of course) – Goldfinger
Odd Job’s Hat – Goldfinger / James Bond
Chain Saw – American Psycho and, of course, The Texas Chainsaw Murders
Infection – Night of the Living Dead, V for Vendetta
Getting stomped to death by Ryan Gosling – Drive
Getting shower rodded to death by Ryan Gosling – Drive
(I could just list all the killings in Drive here and have a pretty good list…)
Getting stabbed to death by an ear of corn – Sleepwalkers
Wood chippered – Fargo
Getting raked to death - Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
Getting skulled by a Louisville Slugger – the Untouchables
Getting blasted from a cancer gun – Videodrome
Getting run over by Bozo – Toxic Avenger
Sliced and diced and decapitated by flying glass – The Omen
Getting impaled by a stalactite – Cliffhanger
Luca Brasi getting garroted in The Godfather
Steak-boned to death – Law Abiding Citizen

And let’s not forget the multitude of “fun” deaths in the Saw movie series with its mélange of creative and grisly deaths: http://sawfilms.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_deaths

This list of creative mayhem is by no means exhaustive nor complete. It’s barely the tip of the iceberg – in fact, I’m sure someone was iceberged to death in the movies…like in Titanic.

             
Oscar Wilde puts it pretty well in The Ballad Of Reading Gaol:

Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword.

So what are some your favorite ways to off someone that you’ve read about or seen in a movie? Hmm…

***

Please check out my story Deserted Cities of the Heart in Akashic’s recently released St. Louis Noir.




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