Archive for January, 2008

Script Updates

Last night was the third meeting for my Script writing class, but the first time my work was ripped apa… I mean, critiqued. And I fully agree with one of the biggest points, regarding a major scene that I had submitted. It was, after all, my first (formatted) scene that I was drafting, and was writing more to get something on paper… some of the information may get recycled, but I decided that a majority of the scene, the way it was originally written, anyway, would be gone during the revisions.

Now, for more statistical information. My “master” script is currently about 13 pages, with about another 5 that are written, and “in progress” for next week. Personally, I am thinking (hoping) that the final “draft” length is around 100-120 pages. For the terms of the course, I need to have about 65 pages. I am guessing that means “quality” pages, which is what I would like to have, anyway.

With that said, something which I know is going to be a bit problematic (and may seem weird when looking at my work, compared to the rest of the class), is I am writing this script a bit irregularly. I am not writing from the beginning, and slowly plugging my way through to the end. I am writing from around the spectrum – writing the individual scenes and sections, and piecing them together inside the “master” script. It’s what is working for me, to get my mileage up.

Go me.

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This one is totally random, and any guys that read this will be able to identify with it. Ladies, just consider yourself “clued in” to one of the strangest things in the human male psyche (just in case you are interested)… And it is something I was reminded of after I got done with my class last night…

Most public men’s rooms are designed so there is a section of urinals, and a section of actual toilet stalls. At restaurants and retail stores, there are usually only a few, maybe three of each, at most. But in larger men’s facilities, there is a surprisingly common phenomenon.

Making space. Quite simply, keeping an open urinal between two people, as long as traffic permits. In the event that there are both open stalls and open urinals – but not enough to maintain the “spacing”, a guy will go to the stalls. Only in the busiest of times will someone not see that space left…

Random, I know, but at least it’s out of my system now…

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Surprises Over Potter

It has been several years since I first read Sorcerer’s Stone, but I recently reread it (as a class requirement). Personally, I forgot some of the details from the book, and when we watched the movie (again, in class), I was thinking about how the items were abridged for the movie.

However, in the course of the discussion (namely, why it has been considered contoversial), someone mentioned the ending to book seven… part of it, anyway. There were students in the class that were like, “What? Harry what….?” I, personally, was shocked at their reaction. First, with the amount of press that the book received…. Second, um, hello… based on the sales it had, you are telling me that you haven’t read it yet?

What rock have they been under?

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Updates and Moderate Grumbles…

It has been a few days since my last tidbits on information, so here’s the new skinny.

I have finished my first 10 pages for the “Four Corners” script project. Already starting on that item from my resolutions list. I say “my” as opposed to “the”, since I am not really going chronologically. I am writing in scenes and segments that I will later be piecing together in the correct order. I know the general story line (have for years, actually), but there are certain scenes that beg to be written at different times. How it will all turn out, I don’t know, but I am enjoying the ride.

At the same time, I am using Final Draft – a software package that was suggested by Ben (and others), and that I got back in the summer. I honestly cannot think of an easier way to learn the form (at least, from a layout perspective). I tried using another piece of software the other day (after first using Final Draft), and while the interface was similar, I had already been spoiled. At least I know what I will be using for drafting my scripts. Enough of the commercial, time to do more updates.

I had my first massage last Thursday night. MC had arranged one for me as one of my Christmas gifts. Ugh, I did not realize how tight my back was before I went in! If you’ve never had one, I highly recommend the experience.

There has been significant progress in another item in my resolution list: the office. I have managed to clear 75-80% of the “stuff” that was on the floor. I actually had more completed, but with some of my school items, I have had to sacrifice a little, for the short run.

There is one thing I am not thrilled with about academia: reading patterns. I like reading, but I like to (try) and focus on a single work, going from beginning to end, and devoting my full attention to it, immersing myself in the world the author is trying to create. If you notice my “Currently Reading” list (which, as of 24 Jan 08), has four titles “in progress”. That bugs me a bit, because I have to stage my reading time a bit better. Of course, the other side is that if I don’t layer my reading, I could easily end up stuck with things unread for class. Like “Grapes” – at about 450 pages, if I don’t start now (knowing how dry, no pun intended) that read may be, I may not finish but the time it’s time to be discussed next month.

And about my readings: Yes, I am rereading HP Sorcerer’s Stone. It’s been years since I have read it (after the movie came out), and it is required for my “Film” class. And, no, I have never actually read either Grapes of Wrath or Huck Finn before (also for class). So, in that respect, I guess I am also putting a dent in my reading goal, as well.

And on Tuesday, before my class, I ran a sub-10 mile. And I still had a little bit of spring left! I still have a long way to go, if I want to try and actually last through a biathlon or short (5K-ish) race, which I would like to do.

Which pretty well catches us up… I’ve already gotten a couple more pages written for the script, and am working on arranging another trip for later this year, as well as some “lighter entertainment trips”…

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Happy Days

Well, still working towards my 10 pages that will be due on Tuesday night, as well as awaiting my “textbooks” (funny thing is, I already had half of the “required” books anyway… and some of them I had gotten years ago for other classes or reasons…)… So my weekend will be filled with working on cleaning the house, and writing.

And reading. On the “fun” side of things, I am one short chapter away from finishing Babylon, and between reading my textbooks, I am going to try and make a concerted effort to push into my “other readings” – especially trying to work my way through Lodger.

The news that makes me really happy today, though, is that the dates for the 2008 leg of the extended Snakes and Arrows tour has been announced. The closest date will be in Charlotte near the end of the tour (unless I decide to go to DC… no thanks). There is also news of a live CD in the works, which I am currently guessing would be from the original 2007 tour… of course there is also rumor of a concert DVD project as well, which really starts my year of right!

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Returning to the Classroom, Revisited

Now that both of my classes have met for this week, and all of my course materials are ordered and en route, I have some updates.

If you remember me mentioning a classroom “that I remember sitting in for my Intro to Fiction Writing”? Well, it turns out that that very same room is the space I sit in for my Tuesday night course. The decorations (furniture and paint) have changed quite a bit, but it’s the same room. “No freakin’ way,” I mumbled as I walked up to the door, inwardly giggling in reflection of that post the other day.

I also stand very well correct that I will get a lot of writing accomplished this semester. The goal for the script class is 65 pages by the end of the semester (or complete a script). “Homework” for next week: 10 pages. But getting quality pages – not so much a concern right now (I do have to learn the form, after all), but by the end of the semester the quality will be one of my main concerns.

In other news, I have my my first trip of the year to the rec center (last night) and am in slight pain today – muscle soreness from lack of recent (ab)use, but it does feel good. Thanks to the little bit of work that was done in the summer and early fall (which, I was trying to force some results on a tight timeline), I have given myself a decent enough place to start.

I was able to run a mile in about 12 minutes (timing and distance are not 100% accurate as I was going by a clock, not a stopwatch, and did some extra distance in the 12 minutes). The idea here, while that time may seem insanely slow, I am having to deconstruct my past while doing this. There was a time when I was able to roll out a mile-and-a-half at around 10 minutes, with energy to spare – but the last time I actually had to run anything close to that was in the fall of 1999, and close to 40lbs ago. Between my bout of muscle atrophy in 2000 (long story), and 3 years of restaurant management I am starting from close to scratch. I’m not thrilled with the time, but I know I have to rebuild, so it is a decent enough place to start.

Now it’s time to try and get some scripting done…

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An Example…

… of stupid people pissing me off. I personally try to avoid discussing politics or religion – they are very hot topics with many people, and I detest soap-box pontifications that tend to devolve into personal attacks. But, I recently received this in an email message…

I am intentionally only displaying this as a “small” image. If you have an ounce of free thought that you like to exercise, just trust me that it is bad. The main statement is about a pending “picket” of USMC Camp Lejeune in response to the Lauterbach case.
You know, it’s funny (and sad)…
1) Last time I checked the information on the case, the issue WAS between a man and a woman – where are they making the connection to homosexuality, using the Lauterbach case as their base point?
2) I appreciate their right to “free speech & demonstration”, but I think they are missing part of the point – they are trying to “picket” one of the main organizations (the USMC), and Locations (Lejeune) that is responsible for allowing them the freedom to picket.
3) They are also doing the one thing I despise the most – aligning on a fundamentalist point-of-view, and taking scripture out of context and using it for their own agenda (like plantation owners that would often quote “Servant obey your masters”, and conveniently leaving out the part that say “Master, take care of your servant”.)
According to a Letter to the Editor in the Jacksonville paper, this group is the same one that pickets the funerals of fallen soldiers. “At the most horrible moment of your life, the loss of a child who fought in a war to defend our rights, [they] show up to yell and scream horrible things to those attending the funeral. They hold up signs that tell you your family member deserves to burn in hell.” The person who wrote the letter goes on to say that, “They [the WBC] have twisted the Bible into a war against the US military and have decreed that God hates the Marines.”

I looked up some information (thanks to Google & Wikipedia), and was really disturbed as I read more about the WBC. First off, they are not “Baptist”, in the fact that they are an independant church (and, often called a cult). The label fits.

I can see a church having an anti-homosexual agenda – while I don’t agree with targeting people based on sexual orientation – it is not a new idea. They [the WBC] don’t like it, fine, I got that. The disturbing points start coming from some of the other picketing that they do. At funerals – for fallen soldiers (from the Iraq war), for those that died during the West Virginia mine collapse, at the Westwood Mall reopening (after the shootings in Dec 2007), as well as proposed pickets of the funerals for the victims of the Amish school shootings (2006) and the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007. They are also staunchly “anti-everything except us” (including Muslims, Jews, Catholics and Protestants alike), going so far as to state that virtually everyone except their group will be found in hell.
They apparantly believe that as long a woman remains “pure”, she will not have a period – “as menstration is a curse from God upon lustful women” [They apparantly have never taken biology classes. And as I read that, I could not help but think of Stephen King’s Carrie.] Their view of the US Military is almost as intelligent: that “soldiers did not join the military out of a sense of patriotism, but because they are “lazy, incompetent idiots” unable to find work elsewhere” [coming from a military family, and initially pursuing the military myself, I have two words for them. Bull. Shit.]
The other disturbing item that I read, is that the “congregation” (of about 100 people), is essentially one family (maybe, about 10-15 people are not actually related), and that any marriages must be “from within the church”.
Personally, I despise their type of fundamentalism. Yes, they have a right to their opinion, and the right to voice that opinion, but their comes a point when they should learn to respect the fact that most people (like myself) really don’t give a damn about their opinion – other than the momentary flash of anger and frustration that some people can be so narrow minded and hypocritical.
And, I’m sorry, but can any church with “fag” in the website address really be taken seriously, and not instantly seen as a collection of people that needs a lot of therapy?
But, maybe that’s just me being… I don’t know… an open-minded, thinking person.
Maybe they need some “special kool-aid”… or asbestos suits?
Your thoughts?

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Or, should I say “Macbooks”? I was looking at the Apple site earlier today, and they had a message stating, “Check back for big news, coming out later today.” And I did. This is just too cool. A super thin notebook, that is practically wireless. Sweet.

The only immediate catch to the device is ports & drives. There is only one (1) USB port, which is easily solved with a hub, if there is that much of a need for multiple external devices at one time, and there is no optical drive. It would have to be an external drive.

But, the cool thing about that problem is that the external drive can either be directly wired (using the USB port), or through a (wireless) network connection to another computer. Yes, I said using another computer’s optical drive. For installing software as well.

As I said, though, if there is “multiple device juggling”, the one USB port is going to get old, or it’s going to get a port. Personally, I know it would get a little problematic for me if I am doing a lot of stuff on my iPod. I have an external hard drive that I keep my media on (over 80GB in music, over 200GB if you include everything else – podcasts, shows from iTunes, etc.). Or printing. But, I imagine I can get around some elements that those problems could incur – especially the iTunes issue. Have a small library, a “travelling” library that lives on the laptop, and the “master” library on a home computer.

But that is me thinking way ahead of myself. The $1800 price tag (with $99 for the external optical drive) is enough for me to not rush out and get one yet, but it has earned a spot on my “cool list of things to check out and consider in the future”.

A side note. One of the items that they rolled out at the same time is a new feature through the iTunes store: movie rentals. That, they say, is another reason why they don’t have issues removing the optical drive. Instead of carrying around DVDs, you can just rent movies from iTunes, and carry them on the computer. Once they are watched (as often as desired, within 24 hours of starting the movie), or after 30 days, whichever comes first, they disappear. But at $3 a pop… that’s part of why I quit renting movies.

The cost gets to be crazy after a while, and difficult to justify. $3 for what basically amounts to a single viewing. Now, I have Netflix. Yes, it technically runs about the same cost per movie, the potential is there for it to, very easily, be less – should I lock myself away for a time and watch a lot of discs. But there are no late fees which, with busy schedules, can get tacked on fairly quickly. All Netflix has to do is get the “View on Demand” compatible with the Mac OS, and things will be truly great with the Macbook Air.

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Returning to the Classroom

Classes started (for me) last night. There is a line from a song in Avenue Q, aptly titled “I Wish I Could Go Back To College” that goes: “But if I were to go back to college/… I’d walk through the quad/ and think, “Oh my God…”/ “These kids are so much younger than me.”

As I sat in class last night and briefly glanced around at the rest of the students, I would guess that the average age would be around 22 or 23 – a full eight years younger than me. During a break, I walked down the hall and passed a couple of rooms. One, a corner room along the outside of the building was labeled “Do not leave room unattended. Lock door when not in use.” And I remember when it was actually used as a classroom. I remember sitting in there for Intro to Fiction Writing, and in a similar room on the other side of the building for Intro to Poetry Writing.

I was looking at buildings as I passed, thinking about the classes I had, and remembering the buildings before rennovations were done (adding elevators in some, adding wings in others). I have walked around campus before, but this is the first time since Spring 2003 that I’ve walked as a student.

Talk about “old” feelings…

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Steady as She Goes…

Things have been steady at work the last few days… a lot of calls, and between calls, I’ve been trying to get myself ready to return to the classroom. I am actually a little nervous about going back. I will be taking two classes, due in part to a computer error that I was able to capitalize on, instead of my originally intended one class.

Here I am, 31 years old, going back to school for the third time. This time, though, I was able to stay in the “real world” for… wow, over four years before going back. And I am still, technically, going to be in the real world, since I am only going to be a part time student.

Besides my nerves, though, I am looking forward to the classes. One, in particular has held my attention for years since it was originally being brought into the curriculum – after I initially graduated, naturally. Script writing. I know virtually nothing about the format (other than the bits and pieces that I have read on structure, or while reading scripts for Theatre and English lit classes) – but nothing as far as writing within the form.

Fiction is (theoretically) easy. Start at a point, and can move freely between time and space within the confines of the story, painting pictures as thick and detailed as is desired during each scene. There can be pages of descriptions and details, various stages of activity, between lines of dialogue.

Poetry is also (theoretically) easy. Blank verse is unformated. With a little work, a book of forms/styles can be found at a book store, or sample formats can be found online. With those forms, words are arranged to form a certain meter and sound pattern, a certain amount of repetition or rhyming patterns, and a fixed length. Picking the right words may be difficult to present the desired thoughts or images, but there is a defined form to work with.

Scripts, to me, are more of a mystery. Maybe it is due to the specialized nature. They are unique. They are discussed in school, much like prose and poetry – disected in literature classes, or from the vantage point of a diector, determining how to stage a production – but there is no real disclosure of the process. Growing up, writing stories and poems used to be part of the curriculum – even if they were only written in response to the lesson at hand (using this authoras an example, write your own poem about the topic.)

Maybe it is because a script is a general term. The format changes, based on the plans for a project. A TV script will look different than a movie script, which is different than a stage script. Stage scripts are the most often seen and discussed script forms, but even then discussions revolve around the content (or the production aspects, in theatre classes), not about the composition.

How much direction should be provided? Character descriptions? Settings? What about the oft used “montage”? What about any specific “credit” plans (having a brief scene open the movie, then having the credits cut in as a pause)? All of these are things I am hoping to learn, and tweak, during the course of the semester.

From there, I am hoping to have enough insight that I might be able to develop some script ideas for graphic novels in the future, as well. But first, I must begin conquering the basic conventions of the form, so that I can truly appreciate the differences.

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