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Gastroliths as McGuffins, and Cabeza de Sauropod recipes.
I can't tell you how grateful I am for the responses I've been getting
to my questions so far. They've given me a lot of meat to work with.
I do feel that based on a number of comments I've been getting that I
should clarify some of the plot elements I'm working with. There's a
story concept that Alfred Hitchcock called a McGuffin -- it's an item
or concept that is of value to a number of different characters, and it
forms a focus for action in the course of the story. Ever see the Woody
Allen movie What's Up Tiger Lily? In that film, the action centers
around a recipe for egg salad. A map leading to a treasure chest or a
lost mine? The crown jewels? A vial of medicine? The keys to the vault?
They're all McGuffins, and what they are isn't as important as the fact
that people will do things to get them.
In my script, the McGuffin is some sort of valuable mineral that's
present in the gastroliths in at least one herd of seismosaurs. Until I
find out about something that makes more sense, I'm using emeralds.
(Any suggestions or ideas here are plenty welcome.)
The story is set in a version of the Morrison environment that is being
used as a dumping ground for undesireables, the way that North America
and Australia used to be used by the British Empire. Up the time
stream, maybe fifty or seventy-five years from now, there is a market
for gastroliths comparable to the market for quartz crystals that is
associated with the New Age community. In other words, they aren't
valuable for what they are; they're valuable for what people think
about them. One minor plot detail involves the idea that when
gastroliths are harvested, the harvest has to be filmed in order to
verify their provenance. Film, not video -- video is too easy to fake.
Undeveloped virgin film is regarded (perhaps wrongly) as verification.
While it may be possible to find piles of disgorged gastroliths
littering the landscape, they aren't given the same value. And it's not
like the people who buy the gastroliths in order to partake of the
energies of the sacred behemoths connect the little verification
sticker with an animal being slaughtered and gutted...
Anyway, when my lead characters are harvesting from a Seismosaur, they
find that it's been ingesting, as I said, emeralds. Or whatever more
convincing alternative I'm presented with.
The assumption here is that the animals will tend to ingest particular
gastroliths from particular locations in a habitual fashion -- that if
one Seismosaur has been gulping down emeralds, that others in the herd
will have done the same, and that they will tend to return to the
source of the emeralds in order to get more. I'm also assuming that
this will be part of their seasonal migration.
Since this is kind of a significant element of the plot, I'd appreciate
any help you could give me in rationalizing the situation as well as
telling me why it ain't feasible... but any thoughts on this will be
more than welcome.
A minor joke that will probably only be appreciated by y'all is that in
my scenario, sauropod heads are plenty tasty. (PETA ain't gonna be
giving me any funding any time soon, I guess.) Think of the way the
buffalo hunters would kill an animal and eat nothing but the tongue...
I'm thinking that the way to cook a sauropod head would be to braise or
barbecue it. Any thoughts on what kind of Morrison wood would be
suitable for barbecue? Nobody's bragging about their ceder-smoked
brisket. How would you cook a sauropod noggin? (Okay, now I'm getting
silly. But still, cabeza de Seismosaur tacos with guacamole. Mmmm....
Make the new guy eat the eyes. Tell him it's a compliment; they're the
Also, I'm at the point where I have a rough treatment of the story.
I'll have a more finished version by Wednesday, and a full treatment by
next Wednesday. If anybody's interested, I'd be happy to send it to