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Avia S-199 in Israeli Air Force Service

Archive for June 2008

A little screenwriting

One problem I wrestled with in this script that I haven’t worked on in five days was the depiction of the passage of time.

In my treatment, I have one paragraph ending with “In his apartment, he writes. And writes. And writes. And drinks.”

The next paragraph in its entirety is: “Tom tries to sell plays (in a montage) and gets nowhere. Every contact has a reason his writing doesn’t work for them.”

A kudo to moi for recognizing that that second bit is a montage, but take that kudo away for failing to recognize that the first bit is also a montage, or should be one.

Two montages in a row just isn’t going to cut it. Yet these scenes only exist to point out how hard and how futilely Tom works on plays. My solution? To intercut the two montages, which become greater than the sum of their parts.

  • The cell-like room contains only the bare necessities. A wooden crate sits half-filled with notebooks and stacks of paper. Tom takes a slug from his hip flask. He lights a cigarette and dangles it in his lips as he grabs a notebook.
  • He flips to the middle of the notebook and starts reading. He paces wildly and gesticulates in silence.
  • After another drink, he sits at a table. He removes a safety pen from his pocket and starts writing in the notebook.
  • A middle-aged REDHEADED WOMAN behind a desk speaks to Tom.
  • Come back next week, next week. Our reader hasn't had a chance at your play yet.
  • Tom scribbles furiously, pausing only to suck shots from his hip flask.
  • A bookish play PRODUCER, essentially a grown up version of Abrams, lectures Tom.
  • I do like it, I do. Although it needs some revision. Not rewriting, mind you, just revising, to tighten the threads that run through each scene. And can you cut the cast in half? We are not made of money, you know.
  • Tom sighs and shakes his head - he's heard that before.
  • Tom writes and finishes a notebook. He slaps it on a pile of six other notebooks, grabs a fresh one, and keeps writing.
  • The redhead again speaks with Tom.
  • How about next week?
  • Tom pauses writing to take a drink - but his flask is empty. He lays his pen down and heads for the door.
  • The 1920s' version of a HIPPY consoles Tom. ACTORS mill about in the background.
  • It's very good. But it just doesn't fit in with our program now.
  • Tom stalks the streets. He heads into a speakeasy that operates quite openly.
  • The businessman in charge here talks to Tom.
  • Perhaps you were a little too prejudiced in scene fourteen for our audience, but then again perhaps you weren't.
  • Tom writes more. He takes a slug of whisky, smiles to himself, and writes twice as quickly. The room is filled with notebooks.
  • The redhead again. And Tom.
  • TOM
  • Madame, time presses. I'm off to England come September.
  • You realize that in the theater biz speed means six months?
  • TOM
  • Then perhaps your reader ought to return my manuscript.
  • The redhead thinks a moment and remembers something. She goes to a bookshelf filled with books and manuscripts and pulls a manuscript off the bottom shelf. She blows a heavy coating of dust off it and hands it to Tom.

Works nicely, don’t you think?

I will rock you

OK, so I only finished fifth out of 17 in the Second Annual Infamous Writer’s Hockey Pool. But I won the supplementary Hockey Props round. To quote fading rabbit DMc, “Suck it!”

And last night I moved into a tie for second in the Irrational League. My transaction for the beginning of June was dropping Justin Germano for Russ Branyan, who has already contributed a dinger.

I’m in a bit of a rush, so I can’t bore you with stats. Let me just say that it’s a miracle my team is doing so well with Smoltz out and Chris Young dealing with a cracked skull. Those two were half my keepers. Long live Ludwick!

Electrical Bugaloo 1 & 2

Sunday, we ran out of hot water. Technically, we ran out Saturday night, but I only recognized the problem Sunday. We’re old hands at this by now. It’s the fuses for the water heater. Even though the fuses display no evidence of blowing, changing them revives the water heater. I guess they’re displaying evidence of sucking. Is it hard to replace the fuse box for the water heater with a circuit breaker?

I just went of to start the rusty piece of Odyssey I call my vehicle to do carpool and the battery was dead. It worked fine yesterday and I did not leave the lights on or anything like that. My visiting father has our other minivan this week, but our kind carpool partners covered for me. He’s coming over today so he can help me jump start the thing and at least get it up the driveway so both vans can fit.

I haven’t been writing yet this week. Yesterday I spent most of the day at Concordia eating lunch with and briefing the new grad students. They seem keen, and younger and more international a group than normal. There are 26 or 27 of them, which is less than I deal because I teach in a lab with only 25 computers, including mine. I hope they can get their laptops online – the wireless that blankets that room is flaky.

As part of yesterday’s orientation, three graduating graduate-diploma students talked to the incoming class. One of them went out of her way to praise the stats and numbers teaching I do. That warmed my heart. I teach numbers and statistics to my students who are not skilled at math. These are not unintelligent people, they just have trouble with numbers. If they were good at numbers, they’d be engineers. But I manage to teach concepts without resorting to numbers. It’s important that they can read statistical analysis and reports and understand what is going on, understand how to avoid taking numeric conclusions at face value.

The student who praised that part of my course asked the graduate program director for more of that sort of thing. I felt good because this student looked like a sleeping cod in those classes. Lecturers get feedback from anonymous evaluations at the end of every course but rarely learn how the teaching carries through the long term. It’s nice to feel appreciated in that way.

God-damned car.

Not much writing today

I woke up, feed the two children who grace downstairs with their presence and then polished off what they left behind with a coffee. I read the paper, then drove with Child Three to pick up a friend and bring her over. I ran the dishwasher, set a load of laundry to washing, and started to fold the three baskets of clean laundry that have been sitting in our bedroom for a week.

Then Child Two asked me to drive her to a friend, so I did that.

I’d like to get more laundry folded but I have an intro lecture to give to the Journalism Department’s incoming class of graduate students tomorrow. I can talk on that stuff off the top of my head but I’d like to prepare the syllabus for my summer class, which starts Thursday, before I go in in the morning. So I’ll be working on that for the next few hours.

Later today, I have to take my girls to bass/guitar lessons and go shopping, once I figure out what to do for supper. It’s a bit hectic for me because Elvi is in Pittsburgh for a blacksmithing conference.

Last night, I tried to meet a friend I haven’t seen in 15 years. He sublet my half of the apartment when I took off for California. We tried to connect at St. Sulpice, which has to be the worst place to try to meet someone with its 17 rooms and four terraces. Apparently we were there at the same time, but we did not see each other. Occasions like that lead me to consider getting a cell phone.

Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh, the wife spent last night lesbian-bar hopping.

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