Monday, July 26, 2010

The Cat Wised Up

Person normally in charge of feeding this behemoth is on a trip to acquire a new fire truck.

Team B, person perennially distracted, wondered why she hadn't seen the cat yesterday.

Normally, cat will seek us out to make clear his wish to be fed. We pretend to acquiesce whereupon he runs down the hall to wait by his dish.

It's a long wait.

He returns. Same results.

Hey, it's the only exercise Fat Puff gets.

Eventually, we feed him.

I always wondered why he didn't figure us out sooner, but you know, cat.

Since I killed the Resurrection Rose, I went looking for the cat to make sure I hadn't accidentally starved him to death in one day.

After only fifteen years of pondering the problem, the cat figured out how to tip over the cat food bag and help himself.

Potius sero quam nunquam.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fire Season

Late afternoon, July 16, a fire started in Brown's Gulch.

First on scene, all the volunteer fire departments in the county.

When the feds arrived, they named the fire, the Lakeside Fire which didn't make sense because the fire was nowhere near Lakeside.

You could see it from Lakeside -- close enough for government work.

Sunday night, the area looked like this.

Approximately 800 acres burned.

Death of the last Montana unicorn has not been confirmed.

Emulate the Greats

I Write Like . . . came across this test surfing, you know, when I should have been writing. I copied my first chapter, farked tenses and all into the form and got this.

I write like
Dan Brown

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Um, oops or yea? Can't decide.

Oh, I liked DaVinci Code but seems like Brown attracts detractors to his writing like flies on ... well, you know.

So, I put in the second chapter, ditto the tenses and got this.

I write like
Isaac Asimov

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

A little better. Perhaps my plot moves with the speed of Dan Brown and the intricacy of Asimov.

Now, this next is verifiable Weird.

I copied in the first eight pages of my latest script, which happens to take place in Ireland and got this.

I write like
James Joyce

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

yes I said yes I will yes.

Liked that better, but how weird is that? Ireland for the Irish.

So, then I put in a blog post and got Dan again.

Tried with a blog post in which I cursed and got . . .

I write like
Chuck Palahniuk

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Right, um, who?

Yeah, yeah, looked it up.

Guy who wrote Fight Club, a novel turned into a movie with Brad Pitt and Edward Norton and one good line.

So, notice no women turned up?

According to an article on this nifty little test, there are only two women in the data base and one of them is Jane Austen.

If the badge came up that said I wrote like Jane Austen, I'd break all my pencils, throw my computer on a bonfire and take up bungie jumping.

I wish I wrote like James Lee Burke.

I just finished his latest, The Glass Rainbow. He evokes setting so well, I found myself stopping to stare out the window to think about the picture in my head.

Or Harper Lee. Who wouldn't want to write like her?

Oh well.

Guess Dan and I will always have Paris.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Miss Me?

This is where I've been.

Currently without power or phone.

Everyone is okay, and the fire is contained.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Is vs Was
Not to Mention
All Those Hads

Day 6 in the turning a screenplay into a novel project and I'm staring into space.

Page 2 of the script. Page 5 of the novel.


That's about the right ratio but jeez.

Write. Write. Write.

Am I off this page, yet?




I've written before about attempting a novel. Every time -- changing to past tense from present tense freaked me out, and I ran home.

Back to a script, I mean.

This time, it's not bothering me that much, I'm not sure why. Either this is a vomit draft and I'll go back and fix it later, or I'm committed to doing something different, dammit, or I took a big dose of Doubt B-Gone.

Besides the inherent brevity of scripts, I've developed a minimalist style that works well in my screenplays, but is not translating effectively in a long form prose project.

Enter our hero. Describe him please.

ah -- what?

Can't I just picture Kevin Costner, write a few telling quirks and be done?


How about -- Picture Kevin Costner or better yet Jake Gyllenhaal a little older as if he played a Sheriff in a small Montana town.

I've noticed one novel writing convention is to have the protagonist stop and take note of the situation by looking in the mirror. Voila, character is described.

Dave looked into the mirror. It was like staring at a poster for a Kevin Costner movie.

I finally put [COMING} and moved on. I'll go back sometime when I don't have Kevin and Jake on my mind.

Describing the setting, I noticed my short, choppy yet evocative sentence fragments.


I'll go back to those too.

When I hit the dialog -- man, she goes like sixty.

So, now I'm on page 10 of the novel and page 5 of the script. I probably wouldn't be noticing this so acutely if I wasn't keeping the script in front of me as I write.

This is a script that I loved and everybody, EVERYBODY else, hated. It was cursed with bad timing, reminding people of an atrocious news story that occurred about the time I started marketing.

Nothing I could do about that.

It is also the most carefully plotted and outlined script I've ever done, so that should put me a little ahead of the game turning it into a novel.

Kevin Costner look-a-like, Sheriff Dave wondered how it would turn out in the end.

Me too.

Stay tuned.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Fleecing the Wannabes

I’ve talked about this before, but over the 4th of July weekend it blew up in a very interesting way.

Someone who reads as a judge for a well-known contest posted a blog about how she whittled down the pile of scripts she had to read, by quickly tossing those who were written by obvious neophytes.

What would cast one in the neophyte pile?

Incorrectly formatted Title Page.
Address from somewhere other than Mecca.
Script setting somewhere other than Mecca or environs.
Bad dialog.

The poor overworked dear would give the neophyte a few pages to grab her lofty attention, but she could tell if someone could write by page three. Recognize a good writer by page ten. Anything else, oblivion.
Allow me to digress --

I’ve heard that I can tell if a person can write in one, two or three pages before from self-proclaimed screenwriting experts and let me just say, Bullshit.

End of digression.
Someone on the Done Deal Forum tumbled to the blog and the contest and posted a link, and we’re off to the races. Link to the discussion at Done Deal. And here

The conversation flashed over to MovieBytes and Zoetrope.

The blogger in question posted a retraction and apologized for being “snarky,” but insisted her method was standard in the Industry. Anyone who didn’t agree was either filled with hate or (surprise) a neophyte.

And so it went from those outraged to those in the well-if-that’s-the-way-it-works, that’s-the-way-it-works camp.

I am nobody’s expert.


Unless the contest rules state scripts may be eliminated after reading the first ten pages, someone needs to read the script.

If the contest rules state scripts entered will be read by judges, someone needs to read the script. To take the entry fee and not read the script is fraud.

If you reject a script based on the title page, the writer’s address or story setting, you’re a jackass.

If you then send out into the blogsphere that’s what you did, you’re an idiot.

Support for this blogger was in the nature of that’s how real producers do it. They don’t read an entire script if they think you suck by page three.

Again, nobody’s expert.

I’ve won a few screenwriting contests, been invited to Mecca for meetings, developed a list of producers who will read my new work based on what they’ve already read of mine, but I haven’t crossed the big finish line yet. I am stuck in that particular Hell of Close.

Real producers pay someone to read scripts and write coverage to promote pass or consider, and you better believe those guys read the entire script whether they like it or not.

If the script gets a consider, the producer reads it. Now, they may read only the dialog. I’ve had that happen and it made me want to put my hands around their throat, but so be it. Move on.

I entered the contest in question in 2009. The report I received was grid scoring and a few comments. The comment area was filled with misspellings. I had read a blog post by the purveyor of the contest about how typos absolutely drove her bananas, so I figured, dipshit, and moved on.

And the point, friends and neighbors . . .

Screenwriting is the modern gold rush. Screenwriters are the new miners slogging through the dirt work with hope of a rich find. As with the original gold rush, the people who made the most money, the reliable money, were the people who sold the miners food, levis, gold pans and tents. For every miner who went broke, there was a fat storekeep enjoying the good life.

We've replaced gold pans and levis with books, software, classes, coverage, forums, fee-based advice, dvds.

Is there good and helpful advice out there? Yes.

Are there reputable contests? Yes.

Are there rats in the woodpile? You better believe it.

It is now and has always been easier to fleece the workers than do the work.

So, pay attention.

Don’t spend money like a drunken miner.

Keep working.

Friday, July 02, 2010

The Trouble With Terriers

Is that they are unresponsive to pain. This means you can not beat them into submission. A quality I admire, but I wouldn't want to test it, ever. Every Welshie I've ever owned (with one notable exception) has been soft to correction which means it didn't take much to get them to mind.

That exception being the former Naughtiest Puppy In The World, Gracie, who, if you rashly try to scold her, will respond with a Travis Bickle impression.

A few weeks ago I noticed Gracie was acting as if her hips hurt her. Oh no, I thought. Can a twenty pound dog have hip dysplasia? (Yes. Uncommon but possible.) One night, she couldn't get up without help. Rushed to the emergency on-call vet. He said she was having a muscle spasm in her back, gave her an anti-inflammatory and recommended rest.

When the meds ran out, Gracie was only slightly better. I had obsessively cruised every canine hip dysplasia site on the Net, looked up muscle spasm in dogs (another horrific problem) and tortured myself with thoughts about putting this sweetheart, naughty pants of a pooch to sleep.

Off to our regular vet we go. This vet says it seems more of an injury than a disease process and recommends xrays to check and a different anti-inflammatory med. She noticed that Gracie's neck was stiff. We found two separate sore spots on her back. I was so focused on a potential hip problem (for which there is no good outcome) I hadn't noticed her neck.

The xrays were clear. No hip dysplasia. Nothing wrong the vet could see. We're sent away with a new med, trial bottle of Glucosamine and orders to make her rest. The vet thinks Gracie reinjures herself as soon as she feels a little better.

We wonder, what the heck happened to this dog?

Woodpeckers made a nest in one of our trees and weakened a four foot section which broke off and fell in the yard after a rain. Did that land on Gracie? We found her barking at the fallen tree limb afterwards.

Mule deer move through our yard every night in their grazing pattern. Most of them are new mothers this time of year. Gracie thinks the deer should play ball with her. Did a deer kick her?

One of our Golden Willow trees has a trunk slightly slanted that every dog we've every had at this house has learned to climb. Gracie likes to use this tree to surveil the neighborhood. Did she fall out of the tree?

We don't know because we have never once heard her cry out in pain.

If a tree fell on me, they'd have heard me in Nebraska.

The new medicine works better than the old one, but that makes our job more difficult as now she feels good enough to play. We've hidden all the balls and she gets this look on her face that I recognize. I know I put those car keys right there!

The last time I saw my ball, it was next to the bird bath. Who moved my ball?

She's not her old self yet. Still stiff in the morning and she sleeps more now. In three weeks she's scheduled for a recheck. I can tell how she feels and when the medicine kicks in. I wish she could tell us what happened.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Toilet Seat Is Always Up

I joined a gym called Tiny's run by a guy named Dave.

An actual gym, not a fluffified sports club like where I used to work out.

At the new place, I don't have to listen to Yuppies opine about the next 5K or whether little Ferdinand is on the fast track to Harvard enrolled in Pretentious Pre-School or if sunscreen should come in three digit strength up here under the Big Sky.

Just a nod from fellow travelers and to each his own.

I like that.