Tuesday, July 31, 2007
It actually will be good to get away from the routine for a few days. I've been working too damn hard lately.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Friday, July 27, 2007
Time to get ready for piano class.
Did a lot of work on the Flower edit late yesterday ... rendering now to a Flash file to take a peek. 120M so it will take a while. I could use a better computer but I'll get by ... I am going to add 1G of memory, however! It's on order.
Waiting for approval from John D. of my adaptation of his short play. Always a tricky thing. Sometimes an author loves you, sometimes hate, for the changes you make. I turned a ten-minute stage play into a five-minute film. I like it -- a much lighter, sweeter tone than anything in my own work (always darker).
Next week I have my last essay interview scheduled for Wednesday. Maybe Thursday or Friday I finally can get into the archives.
A trip to Idaho coming up. Looking forward to it.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
I'll be directing my first short from someone else's script. I'm adapting a short play by John Donnelly, a fine actor (Scrapple...) as well as a playwright.
And Hollie Olson is searching for the location for her script, Piano Bar, which I'll also direct. She will star.
I have one more interview I want to do. It's time to dig into the newspaper archives.
I don't much participate in the social events associated with the arts but on September 15th I'll make an exception because it's an event being put together by folks who matter to me, a Slabtown celebration to celebrate NW Pdx, or at least what the neighborhood used to be, and the historian at McMenamen's (yes, they have one) asked if I'd read from Christmas at the Juniper Tavern, my "classic" of the 80s. I said yes. Interestingly enough, a week prior someone from the NW Examiner asked if I'd perform some Guthrie music for the event but I haven't performed in so long I'd have to start rehearsing now and I don't have the time for it. I declined. But reading from JT is a snap, it's in my blood, even if I seldom actually do it. My agent at the time said of NW Pdx in the 80s, "this is the way Greenwich Village used to be," and told me to fight against it changing. Fat chance. We couldn't even save more than three trees in the huge orchards next to us. The building has begun, by the way, on one of the homes. I hope they don't do them one at a time (there will be eight, I think) but this may happen. Not a pleasant sight, though H gets more upset about it than I do. I save my angst for more literary matters.
It's a long slow process rendering files and making DVDs. I'll practice piano while I'm waiting.
An interview after work downtown with an actor from the 80s. My next-to-last one, I think. I need to get into the newspaper archives soon.
An irrelevant if pretty starlet gets a DUI and the media go ape for days. What is the contribution of all this hot air to global warming? I like this notion. It's not fossil fuel. It's human hot air, all this endless babbling and gossip.
If we still have a culture 100 years from now, I wouldn't be surprised if its honored writers from this era are people relatively unknown today, perhaps someone writing a blog for a few dozen readers. An Emily Dickinson of our times, whose writing is kept private but whose writing is existential, a search inward. Writing inside-out, not outside-in in today's fashion.
I need to try and get some sleep.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
So you get through it and get back to work.
Postpartum depression (also postnatal depression) is a form of clinical depression which can affect women, and less frequently men, after childbirth.
Two issues. Audio, always the major challenge with low end technology. These problems are not solved but made as best as possible. The other area is continuity, here made more difficult than it had to be because of poor directing. However, the problems were solved for the most part, though I had to make compromises to do so. Sometimes I had to make a tighter shot than I would have preferred to eliminate background continuity problems. On another occasion I had to use my second shot choice because of actor continuity I should have been on top of at the shoot.
Despite all this, I am delighted with the video, which continues my improvement. I'll hope to get it up on YouTube today. I'm making Flash files now ... I like to watch them on Flash for final approval. Takes a while to render each file.
If I get these up today, I think I'll spend the afternoon in the yard doing chores and listening to Gerry Mulligan and Chris Connor. And spend time in the park with the dog.
I'll upload to YouTube at the university, which will give me a chance to check my campus mail and such.
Monday, July 23, 2007
But the more I experience making digital short films this summer, the more I feel myself moving toward the director's side of this argument. Consider the ending of Scrapple. I edited the ending today and love it -- but it's not the ending that's in the script. Indeed, the ending never worked during readings, and at the shoot we played with it and I overshot everything. Putting it together in the editing software, I cut a lot of lines and rearranged others, resulting in something that same "in spirit" but pretty different in detail from what my "screenwriter self" had written. The director won this argument, or the editor, because what results is stronger than what's on the page.
I just have fine-tuning to do in Scrapple now. I need to put it in three parts for YouTube, then assemble it whole for DVD. I like it, a definite improvement over the last one. This is the name of the game, improvement. Onward.
Thoreau, Taxes, Disobedience
and he was not happy to hear, the next morning, that his tax had been anonymously paid for him. Now released, he was again left with no choice: "I proceeded to finish my errand, and, having put on my mended shoe, joined a huckleberry party who were impatient to put themselves under my conduct; and in half an hour -- for the horse was soon tackled -- I was in the midst of a huckleberry field, on one of our highest hills, two miles off, and then the State was nowhere to be seen."
I have all day to work on Scrapple. I should finish it this week. Next to get serious about, Honky Tonk.
I have editing on the docu to do as well but a very distant December deadline. Yet I'd like to do it this summer while my mind is in that groove.
Going to Idaho in August. While there, will do a video interview with Brad Crooks, my godson, who also happens to be a damn good blues harmonica player.
I like the return to a more normal pace, after two weeks of running around 12 hours a day.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
In 1658, playwright/actor Molière, having been given a theater in the capital by the King, is back in Paris after touring the kingdom of France with his company of players. One day, a young lady asks him to follow her to the deathbed of her mother... Thirteen years earlier, Molière already runs a troupe but goes broke and is thrown to prison. Fortunately (?) his debt is covered by Monsieur Jourdain, a rich man who wants him to help him rehearse a one-act play he has written with a view to seducing a beautiful bright young widow, Célimène. As Jourdain is married to Elmire, and is the "respectable" father of two daughters his design must remain secret so Molière is introduced into the house as Tartuffe, an austere priest... Written by Guy Bellinger
This is not even about Moliere's life but apparently is a concoction suggesting the origins of Tartuffe. So this is probably irrelevant in a real sense, but of course "reality" has nothing to do with anything in LaLaLand.
If this film bombs, I'm worse off because most producers would not get past the title (Moliere has been done and it stinks). But if this film is big, well, I would be better off.
But what a weird story this sounds like! Does anyone see the extraordinary drama in his actual life?
I love everything about John Carney's Once, from its concept and writing, to the directing -- and especially the performances of its two leads, Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, who play two musicians estranged from their "significant others" who meet and click musically and become friends. I call it a "pop opera" because songs are integral to the development of the narrative, music is at the root of the story on many levels. The "once" in the title refers to the magic that can happen "once" in an encounter (for "forever" as Hollywood has it) but that has no future. Everything happens in a short time, now, intense and real, even life-changing ... but then the individuals must face their pasts and move on, alone. This is an intense and real, even sensual, love story with no more sex than a kiss on the cheek, which is no small accomplishment in today's world of erotic hype.
It's not for everyone. During the credits, a woman behind me said, in that tone of voice reserved to comments on the dress or hair style of another, "I love your new ..." (when the tone is pulsating with pejorative subtext), "Wasn't that cute?" Then, on the way out, we met friends of H's who said, "The music was so awful! So intense!"
I didn't expect to like this in the first several minutes of the film. The music was the issue. God, do I have to listen to this street singer for two hours? But it ends up he is talented (the leads wrote most of the songs themselves -- indeed, their characters are called "guy" and "girl," suggesting they played themselves) and his songs have great variety. And when the two are together, musical magic happens.
What a fine genre-bending film!
I outlined a new short, "Like Mother, Like Daughter," based on my play Waitresses, which picked up some awards 20 odd years ago. I can cast the two leads from actors I've already worked with this summer, and the 3 minor characters can be cast the same or with new auditions -- but the two women are the focus, and I have them (Judith Richmond and Kate Mura).
Have my contract signed and ready to mail. Do this on the way to town. Yet another "marriage" with an agent begins. Serial monogamy run amuck. But I do need to write some new screenplays, or rework some old ways, to take advantage of this good, new connection.
The grass has just about stopped growing for the summer, at least at its earlier fanatical rate. A good thing, given how busy I am.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
If I get her permission, I'm putting up Mary Flower's "Terminal Rag" on YouTube. It's so good, I can't imagine why she'd say no, but we'll wait and see.
Made a little progress on her documentary and also a little progress on Scrapple and cooked one hell of a good dinner.
I'm going to have an honest practical chat with the new guy. What I can write, and what he can sell, and see if there are any intersections. There are genres I simply cannot work in (horror, for example), and he needs to know that. He liked Ullie because it had a young female lead. All of these practical (alas) parameters come into play in the marketplace. Now that I'm making my own, totally my way, it's less "painful" to kiss the big ass of LaLaLand ... or at least sniff it. We'll see. Onward.
First, surprising news. I've been offered a contract by an agency in Sherman Oaks, probably the "best situated" agency I've heard from in years. They are especially interested in "The Brazen Wing" and "Ullie@phishing.scam." Yeah, I'm signing with them. Why not? But how many damn agents have I had over the years? Too many to count. Only a handful actually did something for me. However, it's one of the parameters of the writing game. And, like I say, this one is better situated than my recent relationships in this regard.
Thursday finished shooting Scrapple -- and the ending finally came together! For the first time, actually -- we got it just messing and playing with it, not quite improv but free form. And I think this one may turn out better than the last.
And I finished the first rough cut of the Mary Flower piece. Probably the highlight of the summer (actually I hope not: I'd like one of the dramatic pieces to turn out best of the summer) because she is so damn good, mostly what I have to do is stay out of her way! This definitely is a piece that could be over-edited. Yet, I want to make it interesting. The rough cut looks really good. It's long and will be a huge file: an 18-minute piece, about half of which are complete songs. The hard part will be saving this for December and the review! I may show it around privately before then.
Today H is doing art at a Saturday market all day, so I am going to cook up some kind of feast or other, between editing things. I finished the first part of Scrapple, which will be in 3 or 4 parts, looks like. Again, the music is the fun part. A trombone I added at the end! Sounds better than it reads.
Well, busy busy. Onward.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Well, today the same thing happened. A widely published and respected poet was trying to access Oregon Literary Review. He could get to the title page but not beyond it. He had emailed one of my editors, who apparently didn't understand the question or problem because she kept telling him to "refresh the page," and he kept doing so, and nothing happened -- he was still at the title page. So the editor passed him over to me. I immediately saw the Denmark problem returning, so I told him to click the section headings, which were live links (and told him how to watch for the arrow turning into a finger at a live link), and this should solve his problem. It did.
I still try imagining someone staring at a web page, trying to will it to go somewhere else.
The technological generation gap takes other forms. The responses to Moments thus far go strictly by age, from wow!!! to zzzzzzzzzzzz, from A to D or maybe even F. Old farts dig it! Younger folks don't seem to. Interesting. I don't think it's the subject matter. I think it's the technology. I think old farts are amazed that I made something that "looks like a movie" and the younger generation, which knew more about video at age five than I'll ever know, finds nothing much to suggest video proficiency.
I'm exhausted, mentally and physically, but dear old Gerry Mulligan is providing much relaxation.
MOMENTS: PART ONE
MOMENTS: PART TWO
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Finished a rough cut of part two of Moments this morning. A major interview for my essay this evening. A non-stop day.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
The two major problems I encountered were both my fault. One line is delivered wrong in all five takes, and it's my responsibility to catch and fix something like that. I used the least wrong delivery, with the actress off camera, even though it's an odd spot for a reaction shot.
In the other problem, in a closeup in the kitchen, a shiny surface behind the actress reflected my shirt in the frame! However, I was able to slide the face over to one end of the screen, hiding this, and looking very artsy fartsy, alas, with the setup. But I wanted the close shot.
You are constantly making trades in a practical process like this. When you have a problem, you do the best you can, trying to maximize what you are able to do.
However, I am in fact very pleased with the first section. I worry the second section may be too long ... I may look at ways to trim it. It will be a harder section to edit, technically, because of some visual parameters I've established for this part.
I still have to decide on how to present my ending, too. It's a tad surrealistic.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Salinger and the Holden Life
Sunday, July 15, 2007
A shoot this afternoon, a scene from Honky Tonk, working with one of the actresses for the first time. Meanwhile going to play in Finale, seeing what sounds I can create from an oboe and also from a baritone sax.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Friday, July 13, 2007
The shoot yesterday resulted in some very good footage. I'm delighted. This one is shaping up.
I'm thinking of future projects utilizing some of the actors I'm working with now, making interesting pairings.
We're making our Idaho trip later this summer.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
A good shoot yesterday afternoon again. Back today to the piece that's messier in coming together, hoping to see progress.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
A writer with talent, who knows how to tell a compelling story, needs to tackle this subject matter. There's lots of evidence on the table now to make a compelling case, an incredibly gripping read. Someone please do it before I pass on.
Memories, memories. The essay I'm researching brings on more.
Later today, an outdoor shoot on a very hot day. But it's a short scene and we should be done in less than an hour. Tomorrow, another afternoon shoot, indoor, a project that hasn't come together yet.
How the Universe Got Its Spots: Diary of a Finite Time in a Finite Space by Janna Levin is probably the best book I've read that communicates something of the inner life of the scientific mind. I believe I know a bit about this since I published a number theory article in Mathematics Magazine when I was a teenager. Through high school I obsessively kept my own "math journal," an amateur's obsession comparable to Levin's, an astrophysicist chasing all the Big Questions, but who also is in a relationship with a musician and who writes about her personal life. The convergence of the personal and the professional seldom gets such riveting treatment as here.
Is this math useless? Should I stop staring into space, which manages to be disarming by not staring back - a delicious emptiness with a few bright sparks too distant and too old to return a threatening glare. Shouldn't I be more concerned with my ordinary life? Or maybe what I really should say is: shouldn't I accept the ordinariness of life? My friend Prudence keeps asking me, does it affect you, what you think about all day? Does it? I'm not sure. Does it change your world view? I don't know. How do you carry it with you? How can I know?
Nothing is as it seems. Our bodies are mostly water. Water is mostly empty space. Empty space is a harmonic played on a fundamental string. Quantum mechanics says that nature is fundamentally grainy when we focus closely enough. The fundamental grains are made from a handful of different kinds of particles: quarks, leptons, photons, gravitons (which are the quantum units comprising a gravitational wave) and the like. A fairly thrilling theory threatens to overthrow this atomistic assumption. If we looked at the fundamental grains, we would not find point particles, but instead a collective of identical strings. The notes of the string correspond to the different particles that appear to make up the world. So ultimately there is not a handful of distinct particles but only one kind of something, a string.
If you want to get a glimpse into the life of a scientist, read this book.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Monday, July 09, 2007
Sunday, July 08, 2007