Thursday, January 03, 2008

Chromatic Harvest

As near as I can tell, it all began with Dashiell Hammett. I suppose many things did and still do, but I'm referring specifically to the pairing of a color name with the noun "harvest" for the purposes of a title to something. In 1925, Hammett published his novel Red Harvest, which, I note with amusement in light of the theme of this article, was based on his experience as a Pinkerton agent. Aside from also inspiring the name of a Norwegian industrial metal band, some claim Red Harvest provided inspiration for Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo. Also, a line from the book inspired the title of the Coen Brothers' Blood Simple.


Less directly — possibly not at all, really — Red Harvest would seem to have also inspired Blue Harvest, which was the working title of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, used during the shooting of principal photography to allay the already ravenous legion of Star Wars nuts from stalking the cast and crew during shoots. A purported horror movie, Blue Harvest bore the tagline "Horror beyond imagination." According to the Wikipedia entry, the Blue Harvest logo initially appeared anywhere a film's title should: shirts, caps, coats, buttons, signs, invoices and stationery.


The words appeared in the famous Star Wars font, however, so maybe they acknowledged that they weren't fooling anyone. It is still used for a Star Wars fan site. But that unused tagline seems funny to me now, given how colossally terrible Family Guy's Star Wars parody was. (Thirtieth anniversary of the source material or not, it ended up coming off as just thirty years too late. To reinforce the datedness, it actually features a one-line cameo by Helen Reddy. Bleh.) What I found lame, scores of people seemed to love, however. This episode two was titled "Blue Harvest."

Given the half-serious/serious rivalry between The Simpsons and Family Guy, it's interesting that The Simpsons too bought into the color name-plus-"harvest" trend — or at least the one that began with the fake Star Wars title — by codenaming the film that hit theaters last summer Yellow Harvest. (Yellow Harvest is also the title of a Star Wars-related blog.)

As near as I can tell, the line ends there. Though I found no shortage of Google hits for other colored harvests, I can't imagine any of them are Dashiell Hammett references, Star Wars references, or even third-generation Family Guy or Simpsons references. Nonetheless, for your perusal:
  • "Purple harvest" seems to be a popular word pair when writing about wine, I gather, based on its use in this Time magazine article, this book about Napa, and this photo of grapes. But I suppose this one makes sense.
  • "Green harvest" is a no-brainer. It's used for everything from seed companies to superfood shakes.
  • Orange harvest even more so.
  • Another band is called Black Harvest. They look scary.
  • There's some reference for Pink Harvest, as the title of a autobiographical book by author Toni Mirosevich. I'm not sure why it's called this, but the Amazon.com description seems to imply that the author and protagonist is a lesbian and her family resides in the former Soviet Union.
  • The Ash-Gray Harvest Spider probably doesn't work, either, but it was referenced in an American Naturalist article by the famed Clarence M. Weed.
  • A few matches for "White Harvest" pop up. They make me uncomfortable, possibly because I'm white. The White Harvest Trading Company, for example, makes the vague — deliberately vague? — promise of helping people in need... somehow. I'm sure they're nice people, and surely not as creepy as the White Harvest Christian Camp and Conference Center. And the entirely polite-sounding website infoplease.com claims that E. Cobham Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable identified a "white harvest" simply as "a late harvest, when the ground is white of a morning with hoarfrost. The harvest of 1891 was a white harvest." Which is all well and good, but disconcerting through its use of the word "hoarfrost." (It's not as bad as it sounds.)
  • Finally, there's Brown Harvest, which sounds like either a fancypants chocolate company or the result of eating Indian at a shady restaurant. It's also a book — a noir parody and almost certain the only one in this bulleted list that references Hammett. Unfortunately, given my latter estimation of what the words "brown harvest" brings to mind,
    there's another hit for Brown Harvest on a vaguely familiar-looking website titled Award Annals.
EDIT: The list has been updated with Indigo Harvest, Blueberry Mauve Harvest and Flesh Harvest. (Totally not the right kind of flesh harvest. And totally disturbing.)

ADDITIONAL EDIT: Okay, so apparent the blog called Yellow Harvest is actually Star Wars-related and not "Star Wars-themed but not really Star Wars-related," as I originally said. According to its debut post, Yellow Harvest the Blog is dedicated to Yellow Harvest, a "Force-Cast BF2 Mod." I haven't the slightest idea what that actually means or if any of that capitalization is necessary. If the Force-savvy could clarify, I'd be endlessly appreciative.

3 comments:

  1. (Yellow Harvest is also the title of a Star Wars-themed but not really Star Wars-related blog.)

    I disagree! I run that site and we are very Star Wars-related. What you're missing here is that the site is for a Battlefront II mod based on the number-one Star Wars podcast on the net, The Weekly Force-Cast.

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  2. So I see. It has been ammended.

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  3. The Force-Cast (http://www.theforce.net/podcast) is the official podcast of TFN and Rebelscum. They release weekly episodes dedicated to all things Star Wars. Several fans of their show (including myself) have decided to create a Battlefront II mod based on the personalities and in-jokes from the show.

    ReplyDelete