Sunday, January 13, 2008
Sunny and cold
Yesterday was an intense day. I spent most of it at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. What an amazing place! I got plenty of detailed research done for all three of the Gwen/Justin books, and found details to incorporate into the revisions of TRACKING MEDUSA, so that when I deviate from established myths/stories/history, it’s grounded firmly enough in fact so the imaginative aspects can fly.
The Egyptian exhibits were astonishing, as were those from Japan, China, etc. The Qiin dragons were my favorite, and I learned how to distinguish between the male and the female. The energy around the unwrapped mummies was particularlly intense — you can see how all the legends rose up around the findings in the tombs.
They also have an excellent Mesoamerican exhibit, which merely strengthened my belief that, in NATIONAL TREASURE 2, it was NOT Olmec used on those plaques. The Olmec glyphs I studied here are quite different in style, shape, and content. It’s more likely they used Mayan glyphs and figured nobody would notice or care. Wrong! I think it would have made more sense to create a fictional culture, toss in a line saying it was a little-known society between Olmec and Mayan, and then let their imaginations fly free, instead of calling it something that actually exists, but not bothering to do the research.
I took lots and lots of notes and nearly a hundred photographs, mostly for my own research. Well, all of them have to be for my own research — I was only given permission to photograph if I promised not to publish them, and that includes on the blog. Sorry.
Finished the last few chapters of the read-through of TRACKING MEDUSA. I’ve written about 20-30 new pages of material in the past few days, and fixed quite a few lapses of logic and streamlined that story of what they’re actually tracking so it makes sense. I’m having some mathematical difficulties, since I’m mathematically challenged, but when I get home, I’ll sit down with a calendar of the early 20th century and a calculator and figure out if I’m dealing with two generations or three. I still have about another 30 pages of new material, and then I can start the actual line edits. I’ve done a bit of it, but I need to focus on the language as much as the structure, once I’ve smoothed out structural problems.
Also, several other stories are perocolating. HORSEMEN RIDING, the apocalypse story, is pulling at me, but when I try to write it, it’s not formed enough yet for me to do so. I’m still at the pacing and muttering stage with it.
I tried to watch TIMELINE yesterday, which came highly recommended. Spoilers ahead, so skip down a bit if you don’t want it spoiled for you, although it’s old enough now that you might not care. It was a decent movie that just missed being great, and that made it more frustrating than it if was just bad. Based on a Crichton novel, directed by Richard Donner, with a kick-ass cast including Gerard Butler, Billy Connolly, Anna Friel, Neal McDonough, David Thewlis, and it had some beautiful visuals. But again, there were holes in plot and character that annoyed me. I’m not sure how much of that was due to script problems, or choices made in the editing room which just didn’t work. Some of it may have been my fault — I was pacing and muttering and trying to sort out HORSEMEN RIDING with this on in the background. Thewlis was underutilized. Connolly was game, but again, his role was underwritten. Butler was given the best and most interesting arc. Once McDonough’s character was killed, the piece couldn’t hold me, and I only paid attention to the last fifteen minutes. I was annoyed because of his character’s inconsistency — the duplicity was not developed in a believable way. At the start, he was the go-to, take charge guy, which makes sense if he’d been there before and concealed it. But by the time of his death scene, when the script had him beg and plead for his life in a way that didn’t make sense with the way his character arced to that point — I was angry at the script. One of the pleasures of McDonough’s work is that he makes it look easy, but when you break down the performance, there are layers. There’s a lot going on, but without visible pyrotechnics. The actors who work so hard so their performances scream, “Look at how hard I’m working!” — those are the ones to watch out for and not trust. They can be a flash in the pan in the right role, but can rarely sustain a varied career. There were a couple of those in this movie. The ones you don’t see sweat, like McDonough — those are the ones with the widest range, usually. They also tend to be the most fun to work with. Butler was good, and given the best material. It had the feeling of something that started as an ensemble piece but was rewritten on set due to certain charismatic qualities of certain actors. And that can really bite one in the butt, because it becomes unbalanced. The two actors who, I think, were initially considered the leads were underwritten, although they tried to overcome the odds. Oh, and maybe I missed it, but why did Billy Connolly’s son sound like a California surfer dude? Now I’m curious to look at the novel and see how that’s balanced.
Started work on the material for Confidential Job #1, which is much more complicated than I expected, and it’s due tomorrow, so I better get my act together.
I worked on THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE this morning, and got some done on the next story with the HEX BREAKER characters. It’s as yet untitled, although, for working purposes, it’s currently called WYATT because it’s through Wyatt’s point of view.
Better finish packing and do what I’m paid to do here. I’m on the demon bus from hell back to NY this afternoon, trying to outrun the storm which is supposed to dump 5-7 inches of snow tonight.
Wish me luck!
THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE — 2,356 words out of est. 90,000
WYATT — 1,157 words out of est. 20,000