Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thursday, March 18, 2010
Waxing Moon
Sunny and beautiful

I spent most of the morning putting together pitches for two script writing jobs. Even with all my clips at hand, it still takes longer than I’d like to fashion a strong pitch individual to each opening. We’ll see. I have my doubts they’d hire a woman for either of them, but it was worth a shot. One would be steady and fun, and even at my regular rate. The other’s a little more ambiguous, and would be a one-off. We’ll see. At least I tried.

Went to my local library to pick up state tax forms, since they no longer mail them — and, of course, they only have the basic forms, not the schedules I need. Hopefully, can get them online. And they didn’t have any of the research books I need for the short story. I can’t wait to get back to Greenwich next week.

Wasted too much time on stupid stuff in the afternoon, but got another good section of POWER OF WORDS into the computer, fleshing it out, filling out my tracking sheets, solving logistical problems, adding scenes were necessary.

Prepped for the talk at my old middle school today.

Finished Louise Erdich’s SHADOW TAG. While it was fascinating, in many ways, I had some trouble with it structurally. She doesn’t use quotation marks to set off dialogue. Granted, she’s published 13 books that sell well and earned that right. But it kept pushing me out of the narrative constantly instead of making me experience what the characters experienced. I was constantly shoved out and reminded that I was a voyeur instead of a character, and disconnected from the experience. So, overall, it didn’t work for me. The only other two books of hers I’ve read are LOVE MEDICINE and THE BEET QUEEN. I don’t remember if she made that stylistic choice in those. i do know that, if I pick up another book of hers and the stylistic choices are the same, it goes back on the shelf. I respect what she’s achieved enormously, but, as a reader, I need to feel that I am within the narrative, not outside it until I’m interrupted or put the book down. With this book, I was excluded from the characters’ experiences.

The only show I watched last night was HUMAN TARGET. They put so much backstory into this episode that they’re taking the fact they’re on the bubble pretty seriously and giving the audience answers for some of the questions posed in earlier episodes. They should have just about finished filming the initial series order by now, and, in the next few weeks, should know whether or not they’re coming back. They brought back my two favorite female guest stars from earlier episodes. I liked the structure and the pace of this episode. There was a revelation of a piece of information in Guerrero’s backstory that I initially felt I didn’t believe/didn’t work for me. However, the creative team has kept its contract with the audience thus far, intriguing, challenging, but not screwing us, so I’ll trust them for now on it and see where it goes. I also felt Jackie Earle Haley was being reined in during a few scenes and he was having to overcome the direction, instead of the direction supporting his work, especially towards the end. I’d like to see the show renewed, and see where they take it in the next season. They fulfill the requirements of the genre formula, but also move beyond it in certain aspects, and I think, if given the chance, the show could blossom. It’s come a long way, just in the episodes aired so far. I started watching the show because of Haley, but I keep watching it because I’m interested to see how it grows, and I’m learning a lot about structure, and what does and doesn’t work for me as far as weaving multiple strands in and out over time.

Wrote a few more pages on the short story last night after HT. Much better use of my time than just having the TV on because it’s there.

In the middle of the night, Elsa hooked her claw into my eyelid. Not the eye Iris injured a few months back, the other one. It didn’t get all the way through the lid to the eyeball, but the lid is pretty torn up. It was an accident, I iced it and put antiseptic on it, but . . .ow. And no eye makeup for me for awhile. Not that I wear it that often anyway, but I am in public today, so . . .

I’m running late. Off to the school. I don’t know why I agree to do these things. I’m always tied up in knots beforehand. The kids really get excited, though, because I talk to them like they’re people, not “kids” and I don’t censor myself at all. In other words, I’m really surprised the teachers want me back!

Devon

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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday, February 28, 2010
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Gray and gloomy

Yesterday was mostly about the conference, which is as it should be. We are buckling down to work. It’s a smaller conference than the Muse, so it’s easier to give the students more individual attention. It’s easier to work in depth with a dozen students than over a hundred, which is what I’ve sometimes had.

Comcast is driving me nuts. I’m kind of shocked by how badly Comcast sucks. I’m managing to get the work done, but I’m worried about the live chat this afternoon. I’m deeply grateful I have Optimum back home.

Cooked tuna steaks for supper, which was great. Watched the Olympics for a bit. Fox’s idea of supporting HUMAN TARGET was to run a marathon of the few episodes already aired on FX — but with more commercials and cutting scenes, most of which were Jackie Earle Haley’s, which royally pissed me off, since I think they’re the best scenes in the show. People work so hard to put on a show — 18, 20+ hours a day, and, having worked on hour-long dramas, I know how hard it is. And then the network messes around and makes stupid decisions. You know the old adage, “Those who can’t do, teach?” — which isn’t true if you get a good teacher. What is true is “Those without a creative or commonsensical bone in their bodies become network executives.”

Did just over 1000 words on one of the short stories, which was good. Did notes on another piece. Worked on my next assignment for the humor workshop. My first two assignments were well-received, so hopefully, I’m on the right track. It’s a challenge, but I like it.

Word from home is I received a royalty check — always like that. I think I’m going to use it for a pottery workshop in May. I haven’t been able to afford the 14-week course, in either financial or time-related terms, but there’s a one-day introductory workshop in mid-May I’d like to get into at the professional studio next town over.

That’s pretty much it. I commented on exercises in both workshops this morning. I have a live chat on freelancing as a career not a hobby (look out, content mills, I am saying exactly what I think of you), commenting on more exercises, working on my assignment, and, hopefully, getting more writing done. The plays are percolating, so once I get home this week, I’ll put time into those. I have to get two of them out to my producer by mid-March, and well, tomorrow will be March.

Back to the page.

Devon

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and milder

Just a quick check-in, I’m headed out the door to work a job in CT all weekend. Yesterday was mostly spent on ANGEL HUNT — made more cuts to the first third of the book, got rid of a lot of dialogue that went around in circles, dumped unnecessary adverbs, made the description active instead of passive. I’ve cut nearly 4K out of that section, which is close to what I needed. The initial scene, which used to run just over 4 pages, is not 2 1/2. Yes, I lost some of the verbal sparring between Lianna and Lucius DeWitt, but the scene is tighter and has more resonance with the rest of the piece. Zeke’s first mention is now on p. 8 and his first appearance is on p. 11. I’m thinking of having another short scene with him somewhere in the first nine chapters. He’s not named yet, but his presence is both felt and foreshadowed. Whereas in the serial, I had to draw everything out as long as possible, now I’m cutting and reshaping to make the story move and make every element that appears matter in the overall story. Do I lose some fun and interesting interactions? Yes, of course. But, overall, it makes for a stronger book. I even managed internal cuts the fight scene with the Witch Hunter, and yet get everything done in it that I needed to get done.

Printed it all out — a total of 22 pages cut from this section, it’s shorter and tighter, which is a good thing. Will take the chapters with me.

Since I have to gut Chapters 10 and 11 and restructure them completely to make a bridge into the next section of the book, I might combine those two chapters. I can probably make a few internal cuts with the sphinx — although it’s one of my favorite sequences — and tighten the other two challenges that gain her entrance into the Library. Also, more has to actually happen within the library; the reason for the attack has to be clear, and she has to leave the library with tangible facts that help her in the hunt, not just personal insight.

I’ve got my work cut out for me.

Did some outlining on a project and some work on one of the short stories.

Spent most of the afternoon and evening watching the Olympics – watched the Men’s Hockey, Finland vs. Belarus (Finland won, 5-1). The Finnish team looked good,a nd it was a good game. Lindsey Vonn got the gold, good for her, although all the crashes on the course were disturbing. I felt the cameras were far too intrusive after her win, but she’s done so much press leading up to the event that it wasn’t a surprise. I much prefer Shawni Davis’s tack of giving minimal time to the press before he competes, and talking when he’s done. A similar rule should be enforced for athletes as we enforce for the actors backstage — no guests after half hour, giving actors time to get into make-up, costume, and headspace for the performance. And believe me, I am the ultimate Dragon at the Gate when someone wants to mess with my actors!

My favorite, last night, was, of course, the snowboarders. One can’t help but admire what they do out there, and how could anyone not love what Shaun White brings? People tend to forget just how smart he is, in addition to his athleticism. He’s built himself a business empire in a really smart way. He gave an interview when he was about 14 saying it sucked that he got kicked out of school for lack of attendance, because he was getting A’s, and that if he was a figure skater or a horseback rider, they’d have taken his sport more seriously. He’s being taken seriously now, and he deserves it. I also like and respect the fact that he does a lot for other people and causes that interest him without manipulating everything he does into photo opportunities. He’s public when he’s performing, and he delivers. And then he goes off and lives his life and does what he believes in. He knows when to have fun and when to be serious, and he’s smart enough not to buy into his own press. For a 24 year old, he’s got his head screwed on pretty straight. And one of the things i really enjoy about the sport as a whole is that the joy is still in it, the excitement. I think a lot of the joy has gone out of sports like figure skating and swimming and some of the rest, because they’ve been over-corporate-tized. Yes, snowboarding’s gaining a lot of corporate sponsorship, but they don’t seem to have the minute-to-minute control over the athletes that a lot of other corporate sponsors do, and I hope snowboarders in general retain their free spirit, let’s-push-it-further quality.

I still think this is the worst-handled coverage of any Olympics I’ve ever seen. There’s no artistry — and, if you’ve seen well-covered sports, camerawork for sports is a special skill. AND good reporting is an art. The fact that the TODAY show has the unskilled, unqualified, unprepared Jenna Bush Hager running around asking lame questions rather than hiring qualified sports reporters who cover the various sports year-round shows how far the coverage has fallen.

I did sneak away from Olympic coverage here and there to watch most of HUMAN TARGET. The episode was a good, one-hour action movie. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the lack of development in the antagonists still bugs me, I still enjoy the scenes with the three leads, and can’t wait to see what Jackie Earle Haley brings to any scene he’s in. His choices are detailed and clear without being self-indulgent. So, even when I know where a scene’s going (and I’ve fallen into the rhythm of the show, so there are very few structural or plot surprises for me at this point), I look forward to what he’s going to do next. I had problems with the camera work in the last scene — it felt as though the camera’d slipped down a few inches instead of set where it needed to be set for the scene, and the framing annoyed me. Fox is not showing another episode for three weeks — the ratings are decent, although they’ll probably drop off during the Olympics, but they’re not giving the audience a chance to grow by shifting around time slots and then not showing it for a few weeks. Very frustrating.

But what I’m learning from the show I’m applying to my own work, when appropriate, as far as structure — and I’m more conscious of making my antagonists more dimensional!

I meant to stay up and watch the Czech vs. Slovakia hockey game at midnight last night, but I was too darned tired. I had weird dreams all night, so don’t feel well-rested.

I need to grab some breakfast, finish packing the writing bag and head out. Will try to post from the site — at the very least tomorrow, I’ll post the link to the essay.

Enjoy!

Devon

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and cold

So this has been an interesting journey. Not only has going down the rabbit hole with Eddie in REDEMPTION KILL been difficult, necessary, and fascinating, but it helped me with the revisions in ANGEL HUNT.

Eddie in REDEMPTION KILL is called a sociopath, but he’s not. He’s on the precipice of making a choice that will either take him down the road of no hope and no return, or one that could give him a small measure of peace, closure, and the potential for a fresh start, depending upon his choices in the course of the book. Danica (who has plenty of her own issues) is very careful to make sure the choices are Eddie’s, and that she’s not manipulating him. Honestly, at this point, I don’t know where he’ll end up. In ANGEL HUNT, Lianna is desperate to save Zeke, in spite of the fact they’re antagonists. While part of Zeke wants to be saved, he’s too far gone, and the only thing he’s capable of doing is destroying Lianna. I’m not sure how that will play out at the end, either, but I’m a lot closer to finding out than I was a week ago. Yes, Zeke is even a bigger, darker, more complex mess than Eddie, and no, Zeke wasn’t in the serial of the same name. I’ve been wrestling with the revisions of ANGEL HUNT for over a year, almost as badly as Lianna and Zeke have wrestled inside the story. It was interesting that Eddie’s struggle in REDEMPTION KILL helped unlock the problems in ANGEL HUNT. Eddie and Zeke are hugely different, with hugely different motivations, although they both live in enormous pits of despair, yet devoid of self-pity.

And the Lianna-Zeke relationship brings “dysfunctional” to a new level while Danica and Eddie, although in a line of work that would horrify a lot of people, somehow craft a healthy relationship in unhealthy circumstances. The comparisons/contrasts are fascinating. ANGEL HUNT is a few drafts closer to getting out the door than REDEMPTION KILL, but I find it interesting how the two pieces feed off each other, and how REDEMPTION KILL somehow unlocked the blocks I had with ANGEL HUNT.

And of course, as I’m writing it, I’m a little bit in love with both Zeke and Eddie as I’m writing from my female protags’ POV, and then, when I get into Zeke’s psyche (not a place you’d want to be on a bad day) and Eddie’s psyche for the flip sides — well, it’s quite the journey.

It is very similar to good use of the method the way some actors do. I’ve certainly seen enough abuse of “the method” as an excuse for self-indulgence and bad behavior, but when it’s used as a tool to reach a goal rather than as the goal itself, it can help produce some excellent work.

To top it off, I wrote most of a short story as well, which I hope to finish and polish in the next few days.

There’s been a lot of discussion about how there’s a lack of pilots this upcoming season written by women. And yet, two of the features coming out that I find most intriguing were written by women: SHUTTER ISLAND and the ALICE IN WONDERLAND adaptation with Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter (oh, I am so there for that one — can’t wait to see what he does!) I’d like to see more women scripting and showrunning action, paranormal, drama, and procedural shows as well as intelligent comedy, but I’m also excited that two of (in my opinion) the most intriguing upcoming releases are written by women. Yes, they’re both adaptations of books by men, but I think that polarity will help strengthen the pieces. If those two films are successful, I think it will open the doors for a lot of talented women, the way Kathryn Bigelow’s work (over quite a few years) has opened doors. Someday, maybe gender won’t matter and we can reach what most of us actually working in the business want — that we are judged on the basis of the work’s quality alone. But we’re not quite there yet.

(Note: Yes, I am aware that I am talking about two features in the above and not television shows, somewhat apples and oranges. But while fewer women are writing/running upcoming pilots, two of the big feature releases are written by women. I found that interesting).

Moved script meetings to next week so I don’t sabotage myself. Some other opportunities have landed on my desk and I have to sort through them. The Universe is pushing me towards a particular location with several script opportunities, so I will see what happens. In another case, I was asked to do some script doctoring. I hate the script. I tried to refuse diplomatically, and the producer didn’t seem to get it. I was finally very blunt and said, “I find your script offensive and demeaning to women.” His response, “Yeah, but will you punch up the dialogue?” I made it very clear that no, I would not. They need someone enthusiastic about the script to do good work on it, and since I can’t stand it, I am not that person. And before those who haven’t worked in the biz start yapping that professionals should be able to write anything, when it comes to work like this, there’s way too much at stake to do something you despise and for which you have no respect just for the dough. Yeah, Faulkner did it and it nearly killed him. I’d rather have less money and a more peaceful soul.

Also was invited to do some guest blogs by two different publishers, which is exciting, for their house sites. One of it deals with pop culture and has to get out the door ASAP. I’ve also got to complete the assignment for Confidential Job #1, which is due tomorrow, and I need to get it out the door in the morning, since I leave for a site job around noon.

Huge snowstorm on Wednesday here. Loved it. Also enjoyed an early Valentine’s Day celebration — since we were snowed in anyway, we decided to make the most of it. 😉 We had about a foot of snow, not too bad.

LOST was a huge disappointment on Tuesday. There were no surprises; it’s unfolding the way I figured it would, but hoped it wouldn’t. I knew where every scene was going by the second line in the scene. The production quality is great, I like the actors, I like the writing, but I don’t find the big choices in overall mythology satisfying. The days I happen to get around to watching it, I will try to enjoy some of the moment-to-moment stuff, but I’m pretty sure I’ll feel cheated by the end –as I’ve felt cheated most of the past four seasons. That doesn’t take anything away from the phenomenon it created. It is simply not personally satisfying. The in-jokes and the way some stuff circles around but other stuff contradicts itself is fun in the moment, but isn’t adding up to the type of whole I wanted from the piece.

And I’m getting really stubborn about HUMAN TARGET, now, digging in because I don’t feel Fox is supporting the show adequately. I’ve worked on a few of those myself — big early hype and then suddenly, no more promos, no more support. Here you are, busting your ass on 14-18 or more hours a day on the set, giving your all, and the network turns its back on you, not even running regular promos. It sucks. I also think the show’s improving week to week. Are there things that don’t work for me on the show? Yes, mainly the under-developed villains who I don’t feel challenge the protags enough. Last night’s villain was better developed — I still wanted just three or more sentences FROM HIM, out of his mouth, to really take his character where I needed it. There’s too much ABOUT the villains and not enough direct character development. The action scenes are well done, and some of last night’s were especially clever. And in the first scene, as soon as she’s waiting alone on the bridge, I knew she was Doyle’s daughter, even though it was a surprise to the other characters in the mid-way reveal. But the things that work for me really work, primarily Jackie Earle Haley’s work and anytime the three leads are in a scene together. HIs scenes in the van during last night’s episode were darkly hilarious. He can do more with a sideways look than most people can do in a three page scene. His character loves to push other characters’ boundaries to see what they’re made of. I feel that the network is abandoning the show after hyping it a lot early on instead of giving it what it needs to hit its stride, turning it into more of an underdog than it should be. I know, like my measly viewership means anything, right? I didn’t say there was LOGIC involved, just stubbornness! 😉 And I have to admit that I learn just as much or more from what I think doesn’t work in the show as from what does.

Good first writing session this morning. I’m going to have to go and dig the car out later on, before everything freezes and I need a pickaxe to get the car out. Then, it’s work on the essays, Confidential Job #1, and packing for the weekend job.

No matter how deeply involved I am with Eddie and Zeke right now, a deadline is a deadline, and I don’t blow deadlines.

Devon

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thursday, February 4, 2010
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Had a good afternoon’s work at the Greenwich Library. Found both what I needed and what I wanted, which is a good thing.

Only television I watched last night was HUMAN TARGET, which, I’m happy to say, I think is starting to hit its stride (spoiler alert). The supporting characters were interesting and well-written, the villain was more fleshed out than in the past episodes– and played by William Mapother, who’s probably best-known for his role as Ethan on LOST. I don’t mind knowing who the villain is from the get-go as long as the conflict between protags and villain is an interesting journey. I still would have liked to see more development in Mapother’s character — they’re able to reveal a lot in a few words for the other characters, they need to do it with the villains — but at least this time, there was a sense of actual threat in it all. No scenes with the three leads physically together this time, but the paths they were each on were interesting enough so it didn’t matter. As usual, Jackie Earle Haley’s work was outstanding — the details about where he chooses to put emphasis — the way he tossed the phone aside, or dumped the cassette to put in the other cassette,or how he leans against the car waiting for a meeting — all those details reveal a lot about character. Loved Guerrero’s tough love scene with Winston on the phone disarming the bomb — I don’t for one second believe he didn’t know which wire to cut, he simply knew how to push Winston into making the right choice. My only issue was when Guerrero shot a character first in the back near the end. Of course, actor and/or character might well retort, “I’ll shoot him anywhere I damn well need to in order to get the job done”, but to me, that was the only thing that rang a little false in the episode — although I really liked the last shot from the downed character’s POV. I’m enjoying watching the piece develop, both character-wise and structurally. I keep doing production breakdowns in my head as I watch, though, “Oh, he only had to be on set two days, tops, to do that” — that kind of thing. I find it a fun, instructive hour. Especially since I’m pitching and in meetings for various scripting jobs right now, I’m getting back into that mindset. Hmm, I wonder if that make my cable bill a tax deduction? 😉

I had weird dreams last night that woke me up, but they fled before I could get a handle on them. I did, however, have other dreams that helped me in both POWER OF WORDS and REDEMPTION KILL. I did the pages I figured out — managing to solve two plot/logicial problems in a single short scene, yay me — and am about to spend some time on REDEMPTION KILL before I go and take care of mundane things like grocery shopping.

I’m not going to be abe to attend the art opening I was invited to tomorrow night because of the weather — I hear Philly’s set to get nearly a foot of snow, and they’re waffling on how much we’re going to get, just saying it’ll be more than we got earlier in the week. Well, my larder will be full, I’ll have gotten more paper from Staples, so I can stay cozy and writing all weekend.

Sounds good to me.

Devon

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday, January 31, 2010
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and bitterly cold

I watched WATCHMEN last night, and, of course, I have a lot to say about it. The person who gave me the DVD thought I would either love it or hate it. My reaction wasn’t that absolute and simple. And remember, I’m not familiar with the graphic novel, so I’m coming to it fresh, without any preconceived expectations for the piece. And from my own rather odd frame of reference.

SPOILER ALERT. I discuss my reactions in depth. Don’t read it if you haven’t seen it and don’t want details. Skip to the next bold subheader.

I always felt held at a distance from the piece, very aware of being a voyeur instead of being embraced and included in the world. As someone who prefers the immediacy and intimacy of theatre to film, that happens more often than not when I watch a film — also, thanks to film school and working on film sets, there’s usually a part of me that’s looking at all the production elements; it’s a very rare piece that sucks me in completely and takes me on a journey to the extent that I’m not aware of production details. That’s the downside of working in the business. It’s harder to be fully drawn in.

I thought the look of the film was absolutely gorgeous, production values and art direction stunning. I loved the period detail and the way historical detail was woven into the film’s alternate reality. I liked most of the casting. Unfortunately, I pegged the villain in the first fight sequence with the Comedian, and got impatient with some of the characters during the course of the film for not seeing it or suspecting it sooner. Rorshach’s getting derailed every time he discovered something made sense, but the other characters’ unwillingness to see bothered me without more depth to why they wouldn’t, which ties in to a later comment.

I didn’t find enough musicality in the piece overall — by that, I mean every scene had equal heaviness. I’m not talking about adding in comedy or anything like that, but I felt the absence of scenes that swelled contrasted with quieter, more intimate scenes. The tone was too even throughout. I realize that one of the themes was that these characters don’t have lives or friends outside of each other and they’re now disconnected from each other. There was a lack of dynamic from scene to scene that made the overall arc seem a little flat. The cadences of Ozymandias, Night Owl, and Dr. Manhattan were too similar. They. Spoke. As. If. Every. Word. Had. Equal. Importance. The exception was when Dan and Rorshach have their argument that leads to Rorshach saying, “You’re a good friend.” That was pitch perfect.

In general, Jackie Earle Haley’s performance as Rorshach was my favorite, with the most dynamic, the best use of voice and physicality, and (as Haley does in HUMAN TARGET in a very different way), he finds his character’s unique rhythm and stays true to it, responding to other characters in a flow that feels completely natural. He’s also not afraid of stillness — too often actors freeze in scenes where they have to be still, but not Haley. He can be absolutely still and reveal more than most actors do at their most active. Another interesting response he provoked in me was that, while I felt compassion and understanding for Rorshach (even when I disagreed with his choices), I never felt pity. There were times I felt PITY for each of the other characters, but I felt COMPASSION for Rorshach. I can think of a whole list of actors who would have tried to make him a more sympathetic character by eliciting pity or sympathy from the audience and playing up his past as victimhood, and I think Haley made the stronger choice. Also, in the scenes where he wasn’t wearing the mask, he managed to convey enormous vulnerability in addition to his toughness, even when snarling. It’s one of those examples of the layers and dimensions you get when you put the right actor into the right role

It was interesting what the actors brought to characters who, basically, are unlikeable, for the most part. I almost felt it was like SuperHeros/SuperFlaws. Their flaws were magnified even more than their strengths, which I thought was interesting. I thoroughly enjoyed Jeffrey Dean Morgan as The Comedian. No matter what the genre, what the role, Morgan can always be counted on for a thoughtful, intelligent, dimensional performance. Just when it seems The Comedian is irredeemable, he turns on a dime and has an insight that calls out an equal flaw that another character tries to hide. Again, I can run through a whole list of actors who would have wanted to make him more sympathetic, or just been wooden in the role.

I wanted to see more of the team’s past work together. I wanted to see how they’d worked together (or not worked together) in the past so that their disconnect from each other had more of a basis. The map scene didn’t give me enough, nor did the scenes with the Comedian and Dr. Manhattan in Vietnam. I had mixed feelings about the whole Vietnam thing anyway, but that was more because that war defined me as a person very strongly than any logical story element. I would have never forgiven Silk Spectre II and Night Owl if they hadn’t gone to get Rorshach, and I wasn’t really sure why he hung back (unmasked) when he saw them followed into the alley, unless he wanted them to get a taste of what they left behind. I assumed that was his reasoning, but I could be way off the rails. There’s talk of Night Owl and Rorshach being partners — I wanted to see that, and how that partnership broke down. If there was more on the ties that bound them and separated them, the refusal to realize Adrian was behind it all would have made more sense. Rorshach was going to get and accept and act on the truth no matter what, but there needed to be more dynamic in the others’ choice to turn a blind eye. I realize there’s a time limit on a script, and I don’t know if that was in the graphic novel, and maybe it wasn’t in the movie because it wasn’t in the novel and they stayed true to the novel, but I missed that. I also got tired of the gore after awhile. Although the violence was somewhat stylistic, I kept going, “Oh, you’re not going to do it that way, are you? Yep, you are.” And shaking my head.

The ending in Antarctica angered me. Ozymandias left alone wasn’t justice, in my opinion. I think the tiger should have reformed and ripped his throat out. To me, that would have been poetic. And really, a female antlered tiger (her name was Carla)? Really? Are we working with animal hermaphrodites here? That and Rorshach murdering the dogs (though I understand why he did it) angered me in the wrong way. Rorshach’s death also angered me, although I realize he was also asking Dr. Manhattan to end his pain. Well, that’s what I got from his eyes, anyway. Again, I could be wrong. Showing the destruction of New York City — really, can all these filmmakers who weren’t in NY for 9/11 put a moratorium on scenes showing the destruction of NYC for about thirty years or so, because those of us who lived through it and actually lost people we cared about in it have seen the real thing, and don’t want to see someone’s twisted vision on film. To me, that was irresponsible filmmaking, whether it was true to the novel or not.

The following scene with Laurie, Dan, and Sally was a much-needed breath and had some lovely work in it, but not enough to make up for the previous sequence, and the final scene at the newspaper was simply annoying. There was a lot I liked about the movie overall, and some performance details that really stood out for me, but the ending was unsatisfying. I am interested in hunting down the graphic novel now, because Stacia Kane mentioned that its ending is different, and I want to know the difference.

It’s definitely worth seeing, I liked more than I disliked, and I’m sure people have a wide range of responses to it, especially if they’re not familiar with the world of the graphic novel. And again, I come at it from a very different angle than most people.

Back to Real Life and Writing

So it’s the end of the month, which means my January wrap-up is on the GDR site. Got more done than I realized, but not as much as I wanted.

Characters are chattering in my head from different projects. It’s like tangled yarn in there, and I’m trying to gently sort it out to see who belongs in which project. If some of them don’t shut up, I’ll have to kill them off. Way too noisy.

I was frustrated with my music yesterday and mentioned it on Twitter. A guy named Blake McKibben sent me a link to one of his songs and I liked it, so I bought the album on iTunes. It’s got lyrics, so it’s percolating music instead of writing music, but I like it.

There’s percolation going on, which means a lot of wandering and muttering, but when it’s sorted, it should make the writing go more smoothly.

Heard an interesting tale on the grapevine as to the fate of a project with which I was once involved. Quite a few months ago, I was hired to fashion a pitch for a project, with the prospect that if it was picked up, I would continue to develop it for X fee. I did it, including snippets of dialogue and character, since those are my strengths, and I was paid per the contracted rate for the pitch. The people to whom my client pitched the project loved it and wanted to move forward. However, my client decided that he wanted to spend less on the writing, and slashed the fee moving forward by two thirds. I refused. He hired someone cheaper. The people who wanted to fund the overall project where horrified at the drop in quality and dropped the project.

What can I say? You get what you pay for.

Of course, the client blames me for not agreeing to work for a pittance. Bite me. The money was there in the budget and we’d talked about rates before he hired me to do the pitch. I delivered. He tried to screw me. Buh-bye.

I can’t be happy about it because ti’s always sad when a project dies in the water, but this is a case where what could have been a creative, positive experience was killed because the middleman doesn’t respect writers or writing. And it was important for me to stand my ground and not set a negative precedent.

Writing today. I’m on a site job tomorrow, but it’s more of a case of just being present in a supervisory capacity I can take the laptop and work on my writing for the bulk of the day. I think I might take another crack at trying to finish the play BLOOD SOUP for my producer before working on the three-hander. My cell doesn’t work at that site, but the last time I was there, the wireless does, so we’ll see.

Good first writing session this morning; let’s hope it set the tone for the rest of the day.

Devon

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Yesterday was a lousy writing day. I kept getting chills/fever and be out of it for a few hours. Then I’d feel better and try to get some work done, then it would hit again. One lung is fine again, but the weaker lung is still in trouble. It’s the one that always took longer to heal all those years when I struggled with constant bouts of pneumonia and bronchitis (from the time I was a kid until I was in my mid-thirties). I’ll focus on lung clearage and keep trying to rest, and should be back to sort of normal in a few days.

February’s well-booked, and most of it is filled with gigs that aren’t dependent on the web host — thank goodness, because, yet again, 1and1.com was completely useless yesterday. I could read email, i even managed to respond to ONE — and then, nothing.

I tried to download the FTP thing that’s supposed to make it possible to pull my webmail files and IT DOESN’T WORK ON A MAC. In fact, I didn’t even hit the download button, because it clearly states it’s only for Windows. Now, why the hell did they tell me to use it when it doesn’t work on a Mac, and I’ve clearly told them in every email that I’m on a Mac? Fucking idiots, pardon my language.

And, honestly, i felt too lousy to keep looking for something that worked. I’ll have to get back to that when I’m feeling better.

Didn’t get much writing done. Frustrated with the play because the tone’s too heavy and it’s supposed to have a lot of humor in it. I can’t write it and then layer in the humor, because the humor has to grow organically out of character and situation. So I have to attack it from another angle.

The WIP is going slowly, but okay. This particular catalyst happened, the new character is in to add to the conflict, the chemistry’s working, yeah, now if I only had the energy to keep up the kind of pace I had in the last couple of weeks.

Watched some TV yesterday. Liked HUMAN TARGET episode better than the first two in some ways, but there were a few things that really bothered me. They probably won’t bother most of the audience, but they bothered me. First of all, again, I knew who the villain was in the first shot in which the villain appeared on screen. Second, I never feel there’s any actual threat from the villains, because they’re not well-developed characters. For the hero to really shine, the villain has to be a good match and a real threat. In the first three episodes, they haven’t been. Third, they never named the poison — they had Guerrero make a vague reference to it being “airborne and lethal.” He’s my favorite character, but, um, DUH. And yes, it came through the vent, but was it released into the overall ventilation system, or just in the single apartment? Not naming the poison (a creative team choice, not an actor choice) was a lazy and illogical choice on both writing and research levels. In spite of the cute banter between Chance and the female op about the ear piece, again, a lazy creative team choice. She’s a pro; she’d expect him to have an earpiece. It made her look unprofessional. If the villain was really such an important DC mucky muck, he would have had an apartment, not a hotel room.

Things I liked: Jackie Earle Haley’s work, which is why I keep watching the show. I was never familiar with his work as a child/teen actor, just his work as an adult, and I really like it. HIs performance in LITTLE CHILDREN ranks up there in the top handful of performances I’ve seen in my life that I find completely unforgettable — and is one of the few film performances on that list — most of the others are theatre performances. I should be familiar with his earlier work — we’re close in age — but it wasn’t stuff I watched, and once I started working in theatre in my late teens, I was working all the time and didn’t get to see much unless it was the work of people I knew in the theatre. I like the rapport between the three leads — it doesn’t even bother me that there’s not a regular female character in the mix yet, the way it usually would. I liked the touch of having Guerrero read the manual for the defibrillator. It would have worked better had Chance not done the same thing in the airline cockpit last week, but will work even more strongly if, next week, Winston uses a manual for something — that gives us a tie between the three of them; they’re all ready to learn whatever they don’t know to get the job done, and they don’t come into the situations knowing everything. A none-of-my-business creative choice: Rather than finding the antidote in a hotel fridge, I’d rather Guerrero pinpointed the poison, the antidote and either knew how to make one or knew someone who could. Again, that feeds into several shaky logistics in the writing, and I might be more aware of the details because of my own research into poisons and the close way I followed the several news stories that were the basis/inspiration for the episode. The look and style of the show are good; I like the way the actors work together. The pace was better in this episode than the previous two. The writing’s still a little surface for me; too many logistical lapses (which could be fixed in a word or phrase; you don’t need a big scene) and the villains need to be more three dimensional and more lethal. But as long as Haley’s around peeling back layers of Guerrero. I’ll keep watching.

Back to the page today, and some stuff to get out to my new publisher. I’ve also got to go grocery shopping — a woman cannot live on red wine and mayonnaise alone.

My characters call. I must respond.

Devon

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thursday, January 21, 2010
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and mild

Just another quick checkin, because the writing is going very well and I want to keep as much momentum going as possible. I’m eating, sleeping, dreaming this WIP. It’s put the steampunk behind a bit, but, fortunately, I’ve got time and space before that deadline, and can roll with this piece, since it’s on fire. I had to work out the logic of the piece within the WIP, but now that that’s figured out, the characters are chattering, several unexpected ones have come forward to demand attention, and they’re all surprising me in the best possible way. So I’m running with it. I’ve used up two entire ink pens in two days.

I need to accept that fact that most first drafts still work better for me in longhand.

Yesterday was good. I drove up county, picked up my friend. We visited a disappointing store, but had lunch at a great little restaurant, and caught up on life, the universe, and everything. It was good to see each other again.

Came home, took a nap, did some more writing. Didn’t watch much TV — I want to like HUMAN TARGET (I have a weakness for a good action show, my guilty pleasure) but, in both episodes that aired so far, I’ve gotten ahead of the story far too early, and spotted the villain in the character’s first shot. It’s a little heavy-handed for me. I keep watching because I like Jackie Earle Haley’s work in it. He’s taken what could easily be a two-dimensional cardboard cutout character, and given him detail and elegance. The costume designer also served him very well — the elegantly, expensive casual costume choices perfectly ironed, the matte shine on the boots, etc., support the character. But the writing and the direction is off for me, especially the pace of the direction. There’s a heaviness and too many pauses in the dialogue scenes (except for Haley’s work — he stays true to his own character’s rhythms). They don’t need that much weight to counter the action.

The final proofs for the anthology essay arrived — I’ll try to turn them around today, so it’s not hanging over me this weekend. They’re due Tuesday, but I’d rather get them finished earlier rather than later.

Although pulling myself out of my own WIP to proof an essay on someone else’s work will be difficult. I’m in the headspace of only being passionate about my own work at the moment.

But a deadline is a deadline, so I better get over it.

The weekend’s work is cut out for me — I’ve got the work that needs to get done on site in Philly, I”m taking the WIP, the steampunk, and the notes for the new play. I’ve got to get started on that. It’ll be interesting to see if I can switch between contemporary realism to steampunk to comic noir mystery over the course of the weekend.

Or maybe my head will just explode and the cat will lick my brains off the floor.

Going to CT this afternoon to take care of the laundry, throw the last few things in my suitcase. The backpack will be easier to take than the big writing bag, so I have to pack the backpack this evening with the computer, the iPod, the writing files, the book for the bus, and I have to throw the travel yoga mat into the suitcase. I’ve got my bus ticket, and I’ll pick up my train ticket this morning. I’ve got to travel into the city during rush hour, which means I’ll have to stand in the vestibule with my luggage for the nearly-hour long train ride in. Ick. But then I sit on the bus for a few hours, so it all works out.

The books from Strand arrived: FRANCIS BACON: THE TEMPER OF A MAN (about Shakespeare’s contemporary, not the painter), and SHAKESPEARE AND CO.: CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE, THOMAS DEKKER, BEN JONSON, THOMAS MIDDLETON, JOHN FLETCHER, AND OTHER PLAYERS IN HIS STORY. Yes, I’m back to feeding my Shakespeare obsession, even though I doubt I’ll actually get to write that book this year.

The Deanna Rabyourn books have not yet arrived; I was hoping to read them on the trip. Oh, well. Time to pull some others from the TBR pile.

Got to get some housework done before I head out to do laundry. I’m sure my head will remain filled with the WIP. What’s that expresson? “Chop wood, carry water.” It’s amazing how the mundane tasks feed the creative juices.

Back to the page.

Devon