Monday, May 29, 2006

Monday Meme

From here: What kind of lunchbox did you have as a kid?

Roy Rogers. And I remember bonking some kid over the head with it, which broke the thermos inside, and the nun in charge of the 2nd grade set the entire lunchbox outside the classroom as if it now contained unrestrained nuclear material instead of a metal jar full of broken glass.

No lunch for me.

Two More Movies

Over The Hedge - Cute, funny. Steve Carell as the squirrel is a riot. I LIKE A COOKIE.

Boondock Saints - This has been out for a while, but last week was released in an unrated version on DVD. There's some art in this craft that works, and that's NICE to see when so often it doesn't.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Told You So

Italian tempers flare amid "Da Vinci Code" controversy

"Two members of Italian town council lit the pages of the controversial novel by Dan Brown, as an outraged crowd yelled "buffoons" and "Taliban" and threw rotten tomatoes.

In the Italian town of Ceccano, two members of the town council burnt a copy of the book "The Da Vinci Code" on Saturday one (day) after the movie opened in cinemas." (MORE)

Rest of the Story

Five On Friday

From this link I found this list and I offer this meme to the world. Or, at least the small part of the world that scrolls past my blog.

1. What was the last book you read?

Dead Run by P. J. Tracy

2. What book(s) are you reading now?

The Thieves of Heaven by Richard Doetsch
The Shooting Script by Laurence Klavan

3. Do you have a library card? Do you use it?

Yes and yes.

4. How do you choose a new book to read?

Read the back cover synopsis. If it's not about serial killers, I'll take it.

5. We all had to read books in school. Which was your favorite? Your least favorite? Do you think you would feel differently about them if you read them now?

Favorite - Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger. Wasn't that everyone's favorite?

Least favorite - Mill on the Floss by George Elliot and Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad.

Would I feel differently? I think not since I can still remember that classroom, teacher and the strong desire to bang my head on the desk so I could pass out before another chapter was forced upon me.

Mill put me off English novels for a really long time. I'm just now reading Pride and Prejudice - one chapter before bed. That's when I read those books I should have read in school but managed, with child wit and wicked deliverance, not to.

So, there's my first meme. I tag anyone so inclined.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Epiphanies and Other Disasters

A New York literary agent told me, if you can get some attention with your writing but still don’t sell, you’re doing 80% right and need to figure out what the 20% is you’re doing wrong.

I’ve been trying to do that ever since. I bought “The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need,” and two more after that. I even bought a grammar book. Another one. Not that I think I need help with grammar. (Except for those stupid hads.)

So, I hadn’t looked at last script I finished for six weeks. This is very hard for me to do.
  1. Because I can’t look at it without rewriting.
  2. Because I don’t like to wait.
Conventional screenwriting wisdom says finish a script, put it away for a while, and you’ll come back to the rewrite with a fresh outlook. Like I said, I hate to wait, so I have never, NEVER, done this.

One of the improvements in my work fostered by SAVE THE CAT is that I moved more quickly on to the next script. I fell in love with new characters. Got enmeshed in a new story, and moved out of the previous script’s world. Voila. Didn’t feel like waiting anymore.

Yesterday, I was preparing to send my WESTERN THAT IS ACTUALLY A FAMILY DRAMA to two more contests, so I’m reading it and it’s been a nice long while and it occurs to me –

WHAT I DO WELL is character development. Yeah, that’s what I’ve been told. I write people, readers love to love. Arc, please, I can make them arc like that thing in St. Louis.

And dialog. Yep. Each one sounds different from the other.

WHAT I’M NOT DOING WELL is well, I noticed these well-defined, loveable characters seem to be milling around talking to each other a lot. What!?! How’d that happen?

I’m reading and thinking is anything ever going to happen in this story? Oh wait, there it is in Act 3. Jeez Louise. This can’t be happening, I say to myself.

Self says back, It’s a character drama.


I check with First Reader and he says, there’s stuff happening. They’re figuring this out and that. Learning about this other.


So, maybe I should take my loveable characters and send them on a scavenger hunt around Europe to uncover an ancient conspiracy. Except that’s been done. Maybe my recent DaVinci Code viewing is why my story seems quiet in comparison. Maybe it’s because I noticed when they stopped to talk, the film slowed down, even though they were talking about interesting stuff.

Who knows? Apparently, not me.

Oh well, I’m progressing along the learning curve like a tortoise walking backward. At least I’m still having fun, I say to myself.

Self says back, This is fun?

Just shut-up and open your hymnal to #190 Mishandled Elliptical Constructions.

Friday, May 19, 2006

THE Movie -- One Opinion

One small disclaimer about me as a movie reviewer.

I saw the movie Friday afternoon. Yes, I rushed right out to one of the first showings and it was only partly to loft a finger at Church Officials who said I was too stupid to know what's good for me.

First impression -- the book was better.

I know admitting a fondness for popular fiction is declaring to the world low brow taste, but I liked that book.

Second impression – parts of the movie are brilliant.

The DaVinci Code is a lesson on pesky exposition. They had more than 2000 years of backstory to deal with, and although director Ron Howard used some interesting techniques and beautiful visuals to accomplish the backstory reveals, every time someone had a story to tell, the movie limped to a stop. And they did it over and over again.

One creative solution I thought was very nice was how they dealt with the symbols and Robert Langdon’s figuring out the symbols. How many times have we been told as screenwriters, don’t write what we can’t see. Don’t write what a character is thinking. We can’t see that.

Here we can. When Tom Hanks as Robert solves a tricky puzzle, his thought process is visualized before our eyes. Much better than meaningful looks or staring into space.

Up to the big explanation of The Last Supper, the movie was great. From there it crept ever more slowly toward the end. And, if you’ve read the book, you won’t be surprised.


I used to hang out with a group of women who had in their number both feminists and professional religious. We had long discussions about how the world turned from a feminine divinity expressed in paganism to a one God, male-only Divine. How this happened, what evidence was left, what it meant for women -- then and now -- are important, interesting questions that are covered in the film BUT they are expressed by the whacko, obsessed, psycho villain.

One part of me thought, no one will take this seriously or understand the implications. Another part of me recognized Screenwriting Lesson #9789 – who says what is as important as what gets said.

Pardon me if that’s been obvious to you since Screenwriting Lesson #1, but I’m ...

  • A Slow Learner
  • Pedantic Beyond Hope Of Recovery
  • A Flake
I enjoyed Tom Hanks as Langdon. I didn’t expect to. His gentle scoffing during THE BIG EXPLANATION made me want to have a nice long talk with him.

Part of the audience at the matinee I attended, laughed at the BIG REVEAL. That same part laughed at the ending. Five people down front applauded.

Impromptu discussion groups formed during the exit. What I overheard was they liked the movie. They liked the book more. People, waiting in the long line for the 7 o’clock showing, called out, “How was it?” People leaving, smiled and said, “Good.”


The idea of the Feminine Divine and how history and the Church have treated Mary Magdalene and women is old news for feminists and others who resist patriarchal authority.

If you’re interested, I suggest you read the source material.

The Nag Hammidi Library is a collection of fourth century papyrus manuscripts, translated from Greek to Coptic, discovered in a jar in 1945. Published in English in 1978. Link to the book at Barnes and Noble in sidebar.

Included are the Gospel of Mary, Thomas and others. Some of it is similar to the Gospels that were included in the Bible. And some is not. It’s not a beach read, by any means, but if you’re interested in theology and alternative thinking, try it and see for yourself.

Personally, none of this conjecture troubles me because I’m ...

  • Liberal
  • Tolerant
  • A Flake
The real hero of The DaVinci Code is that ancient librarian who preserved these manuscripts so we could have different voices to ponder.

“Now I see you contending against the woman like the adversaries. But if the Savior made her worthy, who are you indeed to reject her?” The Gospel according to Mary.

Who indeed.

Just Because

I'm a juvenile delinquent at heart and a borderline heretic, I offer this link.

Church Sign Generator

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Resist Unreasonable Authority

Not that I'm an anarchist or anything, but let's hear it for those who resist authority.

Moviegoers Ignore Vatican

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Who Left The Inmates In Charge?

Dear Reader, if you have tender sensiblities, move along now.

I'm going to talk about religion.

Cruising the news this morning, I came across this article.

The second-in-command at the Vatican has already called for a boycott of the upcoming film, The DaVinci Code.

I thought, that should insure big box office.

In a documentary about to be released, Cardinal Francis Arinze says, "Those who blaspheme Christ and get away with it are exploiting the Christian readiness to forgive and to love even those who insult us. There are some other religions which if you insult their founder they will not be just talking. They will make it painfully clear to you." (My emphasis.)

The news article continues, "This appeared to be a reference to protests by Muslims around the world over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad."

Excuse me. To what conclusion should we leap?

Does the Cardinal suggest violent riots or some sort of Christian jihad against uppity authors?

Should Dan Brown move next door to Salman Rushdie?

Has everyone gone insane?

I know a woman Episcopal priest who was talking about the Mary Magdalene connection a good ten years ago. It didn't become news until men got involved.

In my opinion, a person's faith should not be threatened by a book or a film. But people and freedom can be threatened when faith turns to intolerance.

When Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ was playing in our local theater, the other screen was showing Hildago. The line stretched around the block. Most of the people were waiting to see Passion. There seemed to be a definite fervor embracing many in line, and I'll admit, I was anxious to see Viggo. A woman behind us, explaining to her companion that this was the third time she would be seeing Passion said, "I wish Mel would make a sequel so we could have a movie like this every year."

I said to my husband, "What would they call that? Resurrection 2, Return to Golgotha?

A cowboy in front of us, turned around and smirked.

The woman in front of him, turned around and frowned at us.

My husband shushed me.

As the line inched forward, the start time for Hildago came and went. I said, "I think there should be two lines. One for Viggo and one for Jesus."

This time the cowboy spoke up and agreed with me. I got shushed again by my husband, and the woman in front of us let four people waiting for the horse movie cut in front of her because Passion started a half hour later.

Okay, I was rude. But I didn't threaten anyone who didn't agree with my taste in film.

I think everybody should take a deep breath and remember what Alfred Hitchcock said.

"It's only a movie."