Sunday, August 27, 2006

Okay, no snake trailers this time, but...

Well, kids...I've been busy. I am now the resident of 2018 Broad Street, room 1831 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and it's pretty sweet in here. Haven't had time to breathe in the past couple of days with all the orientation things they've been throwing at us. It's been cool, though, I'm starting to get to know the city. Took public transportation, ate Indian, went on a bus tour of Philly's murals, painted part of the mural myself (along with about 90 other Messiah Philly students), watched (yes, just WATCHED) a crazy frat party happen next door, went to the Philly Sovereign Grace church, and saw Little Miss Sunshine at the Ritz (AND I enjoyed it, in case you were interested).

I think I like Philadelphia. I've been doing so much, I almost forget that I have to go to classes tomorrow. But Temple seems pretty cool, and I've got a frakking awesome schedule lined up. NO classes on Thursday/Friday, bee-yotches! Also: I'm in Screen Directing (which was very hard to get into, and I'm honestly still not sure how I got in), 60s/70s New Wave Cinema (which should be fun), and (drumroll please) it looks like I'll also be able to take the advanced screenwriting class! (Well, the actual name of the class is "Writing for Media II", but that makes it sound like I'll be writing scripts for flash cartoons or something. In reality, It's a screenwriting workshop) This is really good for me, because I was wondering if I'd be able to write consistently with the school year going on. Now I'll be able to do it for homework! And unless I'm completely mis-understanding the class description, we should come out of the class with a completed screenplay (or at least a completed draft of a screenplay).

So needless to say, I'm excited. But right now, I've got a first day of class that starts tomorrow at 9. And I should probably get my sleep. It's funny how 9 o'clock seems early to me, especially since it hasn't even been a week since I had to get up at 6:30 to clean toilets every morning.

Oh school. You took way too long getting here.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Motherf*cking Superlatives on a Motherf*cking Weekend

This weekend was probably the best of my summer. Perhaps my life. Let me ', there is too much. Let me sum up. No, wouldn't be cool enough...let me 'splain, THEN let me sum up the boring parts.

(1) Snakes on a plane. I could write a whole post on why this movie is awesome, but I feel like you'd either (a) agree, which would mean you've already seen it, or (b)disagree, in which case you have no soul. In short, It was easily the most fun I've had at the movies this summer - and possibly my entire life. It was completely shameless in giving the audience (aka ME) what it wanted: Sam Jackson killing snakes (via Tazer, makeshift flamethrower, and speargun), snakes killing people (Biting a girl's boob, a guy's pecker, and a python [unhinged jaw and all] swallowing a man WHOLE), and - of course - "The Line" (you know which one I'm talking about). Now, it might just be the hype and all of the anticipation of that line due to it being added in during re-shoots, but lordie...that line (and the whole build-up to it) really might be the best line in any movie EVER.

In any event, I just think it's amazing that this is the first movie in the history of cinema where most of the audience is really only paying 8 bucks to see ONE LINE. And it's worth it. it's that satisfying. Anyway, moving on.

(2) (this one is probably the best part) After the movie, we all went to Denny's, mostly due to the fact that it's the only place around here that's open after midnight on a Friday night. Now, I've been served by a lot of waiters and waitresses in my time, even been one myself, so I feel like I know what I'm talking about when I say: Our waitress, the one that served us at Denny's at 1 o'clock in the morning was the best waitress I've ever had. That might not sound so great, since I just made a similar superlative statement in the last paragraph, but it's true. Here's why, sequentially.

1. She was hot.
2. She had a great attitude. Not a "great attitude" in that she was perky and chipper all the time. She had an attitude. and it was great. Adds to number 1.
3. She complimented my striped shirt. At least I think she did - her attitude (see number 2) made it harder to tell. In any event, adds to number 1.
4. She had dreds (or really, the beginnings of dreds), adds to number 1.
5. Her name was Jena. yeah, with one N. Adds to number 1.
6. She swore. This was when two of our plates dropped to the floor (not really her fault), and she said "F*ck" in quite a loud voice. adds to number 1.
7. She stole other people's food from the line to make up for the spilled ones. adds to number 1.
8. (the kicker - and hence why it's the longest)

She heard us talking about Snakes on a Plane, and mentioned that one of her friends who works for a movie theater had given her a 35mm print of the trailer of the movie, and she had it sitting out in her car. She jokingly said that the bidding would start at $20. I happened to drop the fact that I worked in the projection booth at our college, and if I could get my hands on one, I would play it in front of every movie (the truthfulness of which is debatable, but nobody knew that).

True story: not 15 minutes go by before she comes back to the table with a small roll of film in her hand. "Because I believe the support of the arts, I want you to take this", and hands me the trailer. My knees go faint. My mouth drops. And I motherf*cking took it.

So I am now the proud owner of a 35 millimeter print of the Snakes on a Plane Teaser Trailer. And Jena probably got the biggest tip of her life.

Oh yeah. Adds to number 1.

Hard to believe there was more, but there was. I'll keep it short, because I think this is long enough as it is.

1. Hamburgers from the grill at Chad's house.
2. Playing Dead Rising at Linaburg's (The Zombie Mall video game. one of the funnest times you can have on a console [yeah, that's right. Another Superlative])
3. Sushi. Only my second time, and the kind I got (that everyone was raving about) really wasn't that great. But it was good, all the same.
4. I bought my first pipe. And we smoked it. A good time was had by all. I would say it was the BEST time I've smoked that pipe, just to add another superlative, but that'd be cheating.

1. Last pre-Philly church service. Said goodbye to people. Two of my good friends (who are 6 and 5), presented me with pages from their coloring book to remember them by. I almost cried.
2. Watched a Deep Space Nine episode on my computer. Not a great one, ("The Darkness and the Light"), but not a terrible one, either. It's pretty representative of how chill my afternoon was.
3. Finished outlining Act I.

And that's all kids. That was my superlative weekend. And I of course capped it off by writing a blog entry about it while listening to Johnny Cash.

Although out of many scenes are customarily in Act I of a screenplay? I finished Act I, but I feel like I did it too quickly (in the movie. In real life, I feel like I should have finished it ages ago. But that's just my self-loathing coming in). What do you guys say? Eh? Anybody?

Anyway, Be well, all y'all.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Obstacled course

I just ran into my first obstacle in "Gone" (and by "obstacle", I mean MY obstacle in writing, not my protagonist's obstacle to overcome in order to achieve his object of desire. And all of those other words they taught us in screenwriting class). It's kind of comforting in a way - that the initial thrill has worn down, and now it's down to the nitty gritty of actually writing the durned thing. Makes me feel more in tune with the reality of writing it; it's not just some abstract thing anymore, it's something I have to wrestle and work with in real life.

I'm hard-core into outlining right now - which is something different that I'm trying. I'd always heard of people just trudging through the dreaded first draft to get it all down on paper, and then go through re-write after re-write: one for structure, one for dialogue, et cetera, et cetera. I've tried that a couple of times, but it didn't work for me (and by "didn't work for me" I mean, "didn't get very far before I gave up, sobbing that I'd never write again"). Part of it might have been pure and simple lack of motivation on my part, but I think at part of it was the resistance I had to just getting through a bunch of stuff just to get through it, since I knew I would re-write it all. So, when I started on this, I figured: if I'm just going to re-write every word in the first draft, why not just make a really, really detailed outline of everything, and treat THAT as a first draft? Then when I'm "rewriting" it, I'll just type it out and it'll all be one big happy screenplay.

Anyway, that's what I'm trying for right now. It's turning out pretty well for the most part; I end up writing just what happens in a scene - whether it's a summary of actions, or actual dialogue written out. You guys tell me if you think what I'm doing is completely crazy and stupid, or actually makes sense. Anyway, moving on...

As for the problem, I was having trouble deciding how to depict the Aliens, or whether to depict them at all. As it's written right now, I have the old sci-fi standard of "Aliens pull images out of guy's mind to represent themselves" as what he encounters onboard the craft. I like this a lot more than having him inside an actual physical craft - which would probably look cheesy no matter how big the budget was. But more than that, it wouldn't get across the mystical/angelic quality about the Aliens that I'm trying to convey. The problem is, I don't think the "memory representations" really work in that respect either.

So, what am I doing? I'm biting the bullet and leaving it as it is (which, I know, essentially means doing the same thing as if I were writing a first draft normally. This way feels better. leave me alone) I really want to make this screenplay the screenplay that I finally get through, and so I'm going to make it through this outline if it kills me. You probably don't know how hard this is for me to do. I'm someone who likes to get things right, and will very often stop and work on something until I get it just the way I want it. Unfortunately, experience has shown me that this is NOT the way to get screenplays done.

So I am leaving it for the re-write.

Which I WILL get to, godsdammit.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

"Gone" has arrived.

Okay, so partly because of Greg's comment about it being "Sci-Fi on a budget", and partly because of Emily's comment of just doing what I feel strongly about, I think I chose "Gone". I say "think", because I just started outlining it last night on a whim, and - wonder of wonders - it really seemed to fit together well. A lot of what I write seems to have strong emotional resonance, but not a lot going on, or vice versa. I think (so far, at least), that this seems to be a good balance of both.

And although I'm still getting used to the idea of people that are essentially strangers commenting on my blog, apparently they give good advice. But don't worry, I still love you, all of my real-life friends. I even put up that "comrades in blogging" sidebar all of you love so much. See? See?

In other news, I realized that I - similarly to Liz - seem to have four obsessions that I go back and forth between. Although rather than liking Theater or Dance (if my memory of that conversation serves) my list goes a lot more like this: Reading, Writing, Watching, and Gaming. "Reading" usually meaning Sci-Fi or Fantasy, "Writing" meaning screenplays, fiction, or blogging, "Watching" meaning TV or Movies (or even YouTube clips at times), and Gaming including PC gaming, Tabletop RPG gaming, or board gaming. Most of this summer I've been in a Reading rut (well, "rut" is probably far too negative a word to use, but I like it, so I'm using it anyway), with a bit of watching thrown in. Recently I seem to be in a Gaming/Writing mood, having played Risk and Settlers of Catan within the past week, and finally starting work on "Gone". In addition, I feel very little motivation to finish the Harry Potter book I have sitting on Chad's coffee table, or the copy of "Sunset Boulevard" I have out from Netflix. Meh. I'll get around to that sometime.

Well, in any event, I'm probably gonna go work on the outline now. Either that or play StarCraft.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

I've taken my first step into a larger world...

I'm not sure, but I think I've made my first foray into real blogdom. On a whim, I left a few comments on some screenwriting blogs (I actually frequent a large number of those. It makes me feel like more of a writer without actually doing anything hard like, you know, writing. I'm actually a very bad person). But, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, this caused other people to come here and visit my site (hence the comments from new people on earlier posts). So now, for the first time ever, I've got readers that I don't actually know in real life.

I'll be honest, it's kinda scary. But again, this makes me feel like more of a writer without actually writing. Well, I suppose that's not strictly true, since I'm writing right now, in this blog. And this blog pretty much makes up about 80% of my entire body of work. Is that sad? I feel like it probably is.

In any event, I feel more motivated to get back to work on writing something. My only question is: what?. I'm constantly plagued by having too many projects/stories that I'm working on, and not being able to focus my energies on just one. This results in having many half-completed, or even half-started stories lying around. The current dangling-plot-threads-of-my-life are:

1. "Duck Hunt". I've told many of you about this one before, since I started work on it freshman year. It's basically a low-concept story about a guy who is trying to hold on to his past; everything has changed from where it was a few short years ago (or even many long years ago). The embodiment of this (and the structure of the main plot) is his search to find a Nintendo Entertainment System, which his mother sold at a yard sale years ago.

2. "Gone". A different spin on an Alien abduction. A man is abducted from a cabin in the Poconos on his wedding night. 10 years later, he is returned exactly as he was, to a world that has aged ten years without him. He has to deal with a wife who thought he had run off, a 10 year old son who doesn't know him, and trying to readjust to life in a hard world, all while having full memory of his abduction. Interestingly enough, the Aliens didn't prod and probe him as has always been reported - his stay on the Alien craft was euphoric, the Aliens almost angelic. Which makes the transition to the cold, hard world that he came from all the harder.

3. "Tiberius". This is the "Sci-Fi epic" that I always said I've been working on for the summer (although I started it a while ago). I'm trying to write out a synopsis here, but it's honestly pretty hard - I'm realizing as I write it that the story really is all over the place. I've got tons of themes, a lot of color added in, but nothing hard and fast to point to as "that's what the story's about". It's got a lot of plot problems, but I really like the characters and their backstories, as well as the backstory for the universe I have. Just throwing this out there.

4. "Altair Netch". Not so much a real project as something I write when I feel bored/writer's-blocked. It's the ongoing story of Altair Netch, private eye, who lives in New New York in 2278 trying to eke out a living taking pictures of illicit affairs for clients. When, one day...she walks in. I think, at least - I haven't really got that far yet. I think I'm gonna throw in something about parallel universes eventually, cause those are always fun. Like I said, this is just a "for fun" project, nothing really serious, probably nothing that'd ever get sold.

5. "The Office spec". This is my "Hey, I wanna be a TV writer...I really should write a spec script". I think most of you know what a spec script is, but it's a script written "on speculation" - basically it's a fanfic that you write to show off your l33t writing sk1llz in hopes of getting a job someday. I'm trying to spec "The Office" - which is one of my favorite shows (as I have previously mentioned) - but I really haven't got much farther than starting on the outline.

Okay, so there you have it. What do you guys think? I won't make this a voting contest, cause I think that's kind of silly. Let me hear what you think, and I'll make the executive decision. In the meantime, I think I'll catch up with Altair Netch. Or maybe watch an old episode of The Office.

So yeah, that was Chad, he's a jerk.

Real life update: I moved into Chad and Amy's house yesterday (my ex-roomate and his wife) because Messiah College housing, in it's infinite wisdom and knowledge saw fit to kick me out without a place to stay. All normal summer workers are just moving to whatever room they're in for the Fall (an extrodinary amount of which happen to be in Kelly, by the way). Of course if you're cool like me, or Dan, or Matt, or Brian and living abroad/in Philly next semester then you are, in a very specific sort of way, effed up the a-hole.

But thanks to my benevolent ex-roomate (and now current housemate), I've got a place to stay, a ride to work, and food for eating. Not to mention all the geek talk I could possibly want.

I just hope they can keep the sex noises down across the hall.

Silly Matt

Matt left blogger open, sitting on my living room coffee table. Silly Matt.

All of his various monkies now belong to me...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

So it's official...

Warner Bros. announces Batman Begins Sequel, titled "The Dark Knight". Cool. Bale set to return as Batman, and Chris Nolan set to return as director. Cool. With me so far? good. And the curveball is... who's the Joker?

If you were too lazy to click the link for whatever reason, then you missed out on the fact that the actor portraying the most legendary comic book villain is none other than everyone's favorite oscar nominated gay cowboy: Heath Ledger. Please, let's hold off on such clever witticisms as "Brokebat mountain" or similar tomfoolery. I must admit, when I first heard I definitely thought it was a joke. Then I got a little upset. Then I got a lot upset.

But then I cooled down. He's a good enough actor (or so I'm told. I still haven't seen Brokeback Mountain, so I can't really judge that). And I wasn't so sure about Christian Bale or the entire first movie when I heard about it, but he turned out to be spectacular. But one thing's certain: nobody (and I mean nobody) was expecting this. Which tells me that Nolan has something up his sleeve.

I've got faith in Christopher Nolan, and I pray for his personal safety if he screws this one up (as every other Batman director has done on his follow-up film). Now let's just hope that those Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the Penguin rumors are true (2006: competing for Best Actor Academy Award. 2008: competing for Batman's disaffections. oh the irony)