Saturday, December 09, 2006
I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.
It's true what they say...we invent our own lives. There is no little man behind the curtain pulling our strings. Unless we put him there for the purpose of pulling our strings because we felt it was necessary for there to be a little man pulling our strings to make us feel better about not pulling our strings ourselves.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
I hate movie titles, not all of them, obviously. Just the ones with no imagination.
The Culprits (in no particular order)
#1 Teen Movie Titles:
Whatever it Takes, Drive Me Crazy, Get Over It
One word, GENERIC. These titles could be anything. They're all teen movies, but I'd be hardpressed to tell you which one's which or even what the difference is between them.
Why? Because the movie is about mean girls.
Even Better Title-
The movie Heathers is about a group of mean girls, all named Heather.
#2 Those #^&$ing -ING titles.
Being Julia, Leaving Las Vegas, Finding Nemo, Finding Neverland, Finding Forrester, Owning Mahowny...or any title with an -ING VERB + WHATEVER.
These bother me far more than they should but for some unexplainable, guttural reason, they irk me like no other. They just feel lazy. Take any title, change it to an -ING + WHATEVER title and see what I mean. Casablanca = Leaving Casablanca, Citizen Kane = Explaining Kane, Vertigo = Getting Dizzy on High Ledges.
Being John Malkovich
Simply because To Be John Malkovich sounds odd.
Even Better Title-
The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, The Killing Fields, The Howling
In the first and third, it's a noun. In the second, it's an adjetive. Don't ever use it as a VERB then.
#3 The Overly Poetic/Vauge Titles
Ask the Dust, Advice from a Catterpillar, The Science of Sleep, Requiem for a Dream
It pains me to put Requiem for a Dream with these, especially since it gets its name from the book, but life's tough and this title is vague. Seriously though, Ask the Dust? The second is an Alice in Wonderland reference, but that is still one clunky title. The Science of Sleep? What is this, a lecture?
A Beautiful Mind
Marginally, marginally better. Only by a little bit and that's only because it has to do with the story.
Even Better Title-
Snow Falling on Cedars, Smilla's Sense of Snow
Snow's makers made a good choice sticking with the book's title. Poetic, and a beautiful image. Smilla's Sense of Snow is clunky and odd, but Smilla, raised in the snow, can pick up more by looking at it than you and me. So therefore it's apt. Ask the Dust?
#4 Mouth Mumblers and Sentence Confusers
These are harder to define. The best example:
"Dude, I just saw Saw."
"You saw what now?"
"Yes, what did you see?"
"Not see, Saw!"
"See saw? That doesn't sound like a cool movie to me."
Sunday, November 19, 2006
I love my camera, 4.2 megapixels and at its highest quality it can just about take print quality photos. Just about...But unless you nail your subject to the ground, by the time you adjust the manual settings, it'll be gone, gone, gone. Also, the mere act of pressing the button that takes the picture down can make the picture blurry. It's a tightrope when you want to take a quick snap. Then you take a picture like this one and all is forgiven. Not the world's greatest photographer, but at least out of twenty pictures, I take one I like.
Must remember to fight the temptation to upgrade to a new camera. Don't need a new one. I need to learn to use the one I have to its fullest. It's like those new DVD formats. Aren't DVD's enough? We need Blu-Ray and HD DVD? No thanks.
I'll have this camera 'til it falls apart in my very hands.
Friday, November 17, 2006
Right in the J's, next to James Joyce.
It's dumb, but it helps, even if I don't write prose.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
The story is, Damocles lavishes a great deal of attention to his king and tells the king how lucky he is to have all he has. The king grows tired of Damocles' constant jabbering at how great the king's life is. So the king tells Damocles that they will switch places for a night. So Damocles sits at a feast and is treated like he was the king. He loves it, the attention, the power and whatnot. It's only at the end of the night that he notices that above his chair, hanging from the thinnest of strands, is a sword. Damocles is mortified to learn that sword was there all night and at any point could have fallen on him, certainly killing him.
It had been placed there by the king, to show Damocles that while it might seem great to be the king, there's a price for everything and that power and position in society are no guarantees of happiness. Easy come easy go.
Nowadays the term Sword of Damocles has become shorthand for impending peril, but I prefer to think of it as don't judge another person's life by your standards. You might find they don't have it as easy as you think.
Midas Touch has become shorthand for being extremely successful. This ignores the intent in the story where having a touch that turns anything into gold turns out to be more curse than blessing. Another case of, be careful what you wish for. Nothing comes without a price, after all.
The way that language usage and point of view changes over the years is fascinating. I mean, with just the right strategy and lots of time on your hands, you can turn a "good" word or phrase into a bad one and vice versa.
But remember...be careful what you wish for.
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Sunday, October 29, 2006
Especially hard is when you return to fiction with a twist ending. It doesn't age well. That's not fair, The Usual Suspects is still a good movie, but the participation in the mystery is gone the second time. The Sixth Sense holds up in the same way. There's some works that can still be rewarding even afterwards, but for the most part, "You can't go home again."
I wish that you could somehow. Just last Oct. 25th, the last issue of one of my favorite comics appeared on the racks after a SIX MONTH delay. That issue was Seven Soldiers of Victory #1.
Wait, #1, last issue?
I'll explain...Seven Soldiers of Victory was a "megaseries" (30 issues) beginning with Seven Soldiers of Victory #0, followed by seven 4 issue miniseries based around one of the seven soldiers, and culminating in Seven Soldiers of Victory #1.
So seven characters each with their own mini that could be read independently and two bookends to tie it all together. Written entirely by Grant Morrison and drawn by several artists.
They came out every other week. What I enjoyed best was the mystery building over the course of the series and the slow trickle of revelations every issue.
Now that the whole thing is over I've re-read the whole thing and it still holds up well. It's a great read.
But it'll never live up to the first time when it was all fresh and new.
What I wouldn't give to be able to make myself forget the project everytime I read it.
I've read plenty of books over and over again. I'm on my seventh with Catch-22, my second with Slaughterhouse 5, fifth with East of Eden. That doesn't even compare to how many times I've rewatched movies. The story is what attracts us the first time, the execution is what makes us come back.
I know what happens in East of Eden, but I could never remember the details that make it come alive and will make it live even on my future sixth and seventh time.
I guess what I love most in life are stories, the ones lived and the ones read.
So next to my Catch-22 and my Casablanca does my Seven Soldiers of Victory go.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Sunday, October 01, 2006
Friday, September 15, 2006
Saturday, September 02, 2006
Friday, September 01, 2006
Keep moving, nothing to see here. Just trying out my PDA to see if I can post directly from it when I'm at an internet cafe.
I effing hate writing at home. It's so cave-like, what with it being underground and all...and home to the mole people. Not much for conversation, but they keep the place tidy.
Sometimes the world opens up and you see yourself for what you truly are...not guilty of half of what you kick yourself about.
And it feels good, you know, to free yourself from the prison guards and inmates your mind conjures up, like your own personal Sing Sing. Like Captain Jack says, "There's what a man can do and what a man can't do." Just a matter of being realistic about both.
So my dear readership, both of you, it's time to rededicate myself to my poor neglected screenplay. I'm going to open up the box and see if I poked airholes big enough for it to breathe.
Here goes nothing...
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Sunday, August 27, 2006
For my birthday one year, we celebrated at this poncy restaurant with a big outdoor area. Can't remember which birthday, but I was young enough that I still brought invitations for everyone in my class as opposed to my specific friends. Birthdays in El Salvador were a pretty standard affair when I was a kid. Venue, clown, pinata, cake, followed by presents. To my great joy, my father had gotten the clown from the channel 2 show to be at my party.
I don't get along with my father. He has a very narrow idea of what he wants from a son and I'm happy not to oblige. My father wants a son who is a carbon copy of himself in word and deed. A son who would never go against his father's word no matter how wrong it was. So it's a big disappointment to him whenever we meet and he remembers that I'm not him. That's his dream, that's why I'm a junior. My son is supposed to be the third and his the fourth and so on the legacy goes. I joke with my sisters that I'm going to let the future Mrs. name the boys just to spite him.
That's not the only reason I don't get along with him, but it's the one I'm mentioning here.
Now when I think back to that moment when the clown from channel 2 showed up, I get a fat smile on my face. I remember dad got an extra back-breaking hug that day. It was great. The clown guy was great. Probably my favorite birthday from my childhood. Afterwards, once the other kids had left, the clown returned, without the makeup and funny costume. My father reintruduced me to him. I saw that behind it all, he was just an everyday guy and it didn't rob me of the magic of it one bit. Looking back I'm surprised it didn't. That's just what the old man is too I guess, just an everyday guy.
I'm not one for nostalgia, but considering how tempestuous things are between my father and I, it's nice to have a handful of happy memories like this one to remember it's not all bad.
Saturday, July 29, 2006
He rejoined the others. "Must have gone the other way," he said.
Saturday, July 22, 2006
I'm convinced my wireless card is some sort of futuristic assassin sent back in time to drive me crazy and dead. Like the Terminator, only less explody and more cerebral.
Saturday, July 08, 2006
Also, moved into a new place, been playing Tetris with the furniture. Haven't quite got it right yet. Still trying to get the rack to fit next to the iron maiden. What exactly is the proper Feng Shui for a dungeon, anyway?
Hardly see the new roommates at all. Need to figure out which ones are human beings and which ones will require staking, beheading, filling the head with garlic before the beheading, dousing in holy water, unprotected exposure to sunlight, and whipping (gently, of course.)
Someday the roommates in the 2nd category will thank me for it, and we'll share a hearty laugh. At least I will anyway.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
“It’s not as bad as you think,” he told Canby, “I can’t even feel it really. I’ll be okay.” A piece of metal had torn right through his arm. It bothered him not at all.
Canby patted him on the shoulder, smiling weakly. Their car was totalled.
“Chicks really dig scars, right? How long do you think the rescue people will be?” Canby felt guilty about the relief that the metal through his brother’s arm gave him. He was so focused on it he didn’t realize a bigger piece metal had torn his back badly or that the cell phone lay smashed a few feet away from them, at the foot of the tree they hit.
Friday, May 19, 2006
There I am, minding my own business when a little blackbird swooped down by my shoulder. Thought nothing of it so I kept going. Then the bird, again, and a thud against my shoulder as it flew by again. That freaked me out...
...but not as bad as today. Walked out of the house, thought, "Hmmm...wonder if that bird's gonna do that again." Sure enough, flew right by me once. Then again, only this time, right by my head! Always swooping in from behind, too.
What, he can't face me like a man? See how he likes it when I start packing a tennis racket.
Someone at work told me it's a sign. If it is, I don't want to know for what. If kamikaze blackbirds are the universe's way of telling me to shape up and fly right, I don't want to know what it does when it tells you to quit smoking. Does it rain lunchmeat?
If it wants you to stop embezzling money from your company, do pandas come out of your eyes?
Neglecting your bills? How about being run over by a clown car?
I'd hate to even begin to think what offense would get you targeted by an army of Ninja Zombie Doom Nuns.
Or, they say those whom God wants to destroy he first drives mad. Maybe that's it. Some day I'll be found babbling and incoherent, going on about how "The blackbirds made me do it."
"The birds, the birds!"
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Me + Bills = Broke
Me + Moving = Bye, bye savings (again)
Me + Stress = My script not getting done = More stress
They really don't prepare people for this sort of thing in high school.
Sunday, April 30, 2006
Also, what's the name for when someone is a hypochondriach but for other people? There's a term for it, though I forgot.
Sunday, April 02, 2006
A few blocks from work there's a fire hyrant where someone wrote the words "Create Dangerously" in gold letters.
Yesterday, in the rain, a couple huddled close to each other. He held the umbrella over their heads. He was over six feet, she was close to five. Even though she was still getting wet, she seemed happy.
I get a religious feel from the Giants' stadium when it's empty. I don't like to watch baseball but I like ballparks. Maybe churches should have grass indoors, then then wouldn't feel so much like tombs.
We don't have enough statues in the city. I look at pictures of old European or Asian cities and that thought strikes me. We need a more majestic and haunted look to our cities. City planning via Tim Burton. We need more statues...if only for the sake of pigeons.
Saturday, April 01, 2006
Imagine the Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons, "Ahem...this my dear sir is a Bizarro shirt. Notice how the color of the shirt is purple rather than the traditional Superman blue. Also, the "S" logo is backwards." You know, the guy who thinks he's better than everyone who isn't a fanboy.
So in the effort to not be that guy, I will not be writing anything about how the movie V for Vendetta isn't as interesting as the comic book.
(By the way, Bizarro is what you get when you try to clone Superman using primitive Earth science. It comes out pasty white and it says the opposite of what it means. Ergo, "Hello," is goodbye, and "Goodbye," is hello.
...yes, I'm a dork.)
I have to admit to some disappointment in the careers of certain promising, young movie directors like the Wachowskis and Bryan Singer. The Wachowski brothers made Bound, which was a promising movie, but now all they make is big budget stuff directly or indirectly based on comics. Bryan Singer made the Usual Suspects, which is one of my favorite movies. Now he's going for his THIRD comic book movie with the Superman movie.
I dunno, where did all the promising filmmakers go?
Christopher Nolan who made Memento? He made Batman Begins.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
It seems hard to think of new things to write about. It's not though. I can think of at least five things that would be worth writing about.
1) The strangely Zen state of mind I go into while riding the crowded L-Taraval train back home.
2) That scientists think they have discovered how to make bionic limbs that will be several times stronger that regular ones.
3) The simple pleasures of going for a walk even when your feet are killing you.
4) The possibility of theater undergoing a dramatic 21st century reimagining.
5) The joys of being a teacher's aide for a screenwriting class full of 18-year-olds who like nothing more than Sci-Fi and action.
There, five whole things I could talk about for hours and yet I've opened my Blogger account several times, written half an entry and deleted it.
It's not like I'm terribly busy either. I want to do it.
I wish I could say I've spent my time meditating on a whole new film grammar in which to express myself. Something that takes the symbolism of David Lynch and combines it with the humanistic touch of Pedro Almodovar to create a cinema that rewards repeat viewings with stories that are so multifaceted that you discover new things everytime you see it.
Mostly I've been hiding in my room, making blueprints for the unstoppable robot army I hope to unleash upon the world someday.
Sunday, February 05, 2006
I could chuck the rest to be honest.
I got a friend request from a girl saying, "Just checkin out ur profile, If u wanna b friends just hit me up sometime." The picture was of a reasonably cute early 20's girl wearing a tight tee shirt and sucking a frozen popcicle. Instead of appealing it was appalling to me.
The bad grammar didn't help either.
It's sad, I couldn't tell if she's a serious friend request or a stealth ad for a dating web site. I don't answer friend requests from people I don't know anyway, but once in a while I get these requests along the lines of, "U cute, me want to meet you. Nothing serious," and it makes me want to spay and neuter a huge cross section of the population on the site.
Browsing through MySpace I see too many profiles with people trying way too hard to be sexy. Welcome to MTV World, where skank is akin to Nirvana.
I miss subtlety.
Saturday, February 04, 2006
The other day at work I was asked to do something only to find I'd done it already and completely forgot about it. I've had this since I was a wee little one. I remember one time in high school I'd forgotten to do bring a book the teacher had asked us to bring only to find it hidden away in one of the many caverns in my backpack. Once I needed bus fare only to find I had put some money in a pocket of my jacket that I never check.
It's almost like I'm conspiring against myself in a good way. My sense of timing and my selective amnesia work together to bail my ass out of trouble without my knowledge.
I half expect to one day find a treasure chest full of gold with a note that says,
Pay your debt, take a vacation, and when you come back, start a business.
Love, J from Three Years Ago."
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
So if you were to take a time machine to the dark ages and hand them an iPod they would worship it as a magical singing talisman way after the batteries ran out.
This, of course, after they burn you at the stake for being a witch.
I was excited because of all the money I stood to make, and unlike everyone else working there I had no obigations to anyone but myself so all the money was profit in my head.
I knew on my first day I was going to quit. It was just a matter of when.
I hated every day of it. Waking up at 5am so I could get there at 8am. Driving all day. The actual carpet cleaning wasn't bad but it required hustle I just couldn't muster. Every day I'd be partnered with a different person. There was the wisened elder statesman of the group, who was the king of the salesmen but a poor conversationalist. He refused to drive the van at all and heaven help you if you changed the radio station. Then there were the young guys. Really great guys who married young for whatever reason and worked their asses off. It shocked me to find out one of them was two years younger than me and already had two kids.
Then there was one weird guy no one wanted to work with. I called him Odd Duck. Usually he worked alone and I can tell you that is tough work. The boss put me with him several times so he could train me. This guy had the worst interpersonal skills coupled with the best of intentions. We'd talk movies and actors and he would ask questions like, "If you were stranded in a deserted island with (ACTOR X) and there was no hope anyone coming to rescue you, would you sleep with him?"
I told him I don't answer dumb questions, but he'd press it for hours. I began to understand why he worked alone.
Once we got done early and he asked me if it would be okay for us to do one last job for the day for a family member. It was a no pay deal. I wasn't doing anything so I said yes. We drove to a little gated community (it wasn't as fancy as that name implies). We were to clean the carpet of his ex-sister-in-law's house. I didn't ask questions, it was none of my business, but I could make out the story from what they said to each other and from the things in the house itself. It was a fresh divorce, there were still pictures of the happy couple hanging on walls and in the closets neatly hung and pressed were men's shirts. By the way he kept repeating her name during conversation I sensed a hint of longing on his part. She was nice for the little time I met her, but she wasn't really with us there in the room. When we were done he said he was sorry it had taken longer than he thought and he thanked me.
A few days later Odd Duck asked me if I wanted to team up on a regular basis. That day was my second to last.
Friday, January 27, 2006
What will come out of it? I don't know, but whatever it is,
I hope it has big effing teeth.
The better to bite people with."
That's my mantra for the moment. Although I don't repeat it over and over again. I write it on every little scrap of paper, cocktail napkin, post it note, etc. I do this all the time, I latch onto a phrase and write it everywhere. I open Word on my computer and I type it as big as it'll fit on the page completely and then I find the best font for it out of the 50 million I have.
This is what I do instead of writing.
When I asked my favorite screenwriting teacher if my procrastination spelled doom for my career she told me, "That's how I know you're a writer."
I'm hoping I'll be doing this instead of my usual procrastination methods. Although in my pursuit of the best looking mantra I can make I have taught myself Photoshop in record time (Word wasn't doing it for me anymore neither in amount of time wasted nor design-wise).
Any writing is better than none, right? Right?
Thursday, January 26, 2006
"No," I said.
"You don't even know what I was gonna ask."
I said to her, "You were gonna ask me for 30 cents." She looked at me, shocked, like I looked into her most private hell and drew it out for all to see.
She was so out of it she couldn't remember she'd already asked me for 30 cents not even five minutes prior. It felt like I broke something. Hearing the exact number might have been too much for her and in that moment she realized some truth she couldn't face. She went away embarrased. I hadn't meant to be mean.
This city will break your heart if you let it.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
The dentist decided to remove all my wisdom teeth at the same time, which meant putting me under. Partway through I woke up. I was still numb but I could feel people touching my mouth and I could hear them. There was a white paper sheet over my face and a bright lamp pointed right at me. The team of dentists working on me looked like shapeless white blobs and I was so zonked out I couldn’t make out what they were saying.
Then the thought struck me. This has to be how alien abduction stories began. Bright lights, unable to move, people probing you, unintelligible language…it all adds up. Some yokel out in Devil’s Rectum, Middle O’ Nowhere gets drunk out in the woods, passes out and then has flashbacks of having his wisdom teeth pulled out. Eventually it becomes local lore, and then national, and then the X-Files comes along and elevates it to cultural phenomenon.