Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Technical difficulties...

Today after work, I went to Verizon and got a new router, hoping it would make a difference in the number of times I get dropped or frozen out of Fios, and might make some radio streaming better. It did, to an extent. I can now stream programs off KCRW (tho' not their Eclectic 24, despite it playing fine via an app on my iPhone). But I've found while testing the new equipment out that I still have moments of...oh, let's just say, indecision from Fios.

If this wasn't also happening to the new computers we have at work (those use AT&T as their WiFi service), I'd say it's just the age of my computer. But obviously it's not. It's just the second-rate service offered by too many American companies...and not just the technical ones.

For example, I learned a while ago that when I buy new clothes, I need to try on everything. Even if I'm considering two pair of the same pants or shirts. Because invariably one will be a slightly different size from the other. I even had that happen with some Haines pocket tees that I bought online; all three fit me differently even though they were supposed to be the exact same size.

Same for pens and manila folders and phones and books and food and politicians -- you name it. There's minimal consistency in quality, anymore. In anything. Makes me nothing but wary.

Anyway, the reason I reworked a story into a new location, yesterday, was a lead to someone who wanted a site-specific script. It would take me 2 days to shift KAZN from LA and Moscow to Marseilles and Casablanca. Might even make it better. It's over to them, now, so we'll see what happens...but if I ever get myself unstuck from OT, I may change it, anyway.

Guess one of my technical difficulties is, I'm addicted to writing screenplays...

Monday, September 29, 2014

Out with the old, in with the redone...

I spent the evening reworking a synopsis into a new script set in a whole new location. Here's what I came up with, now titled Vengeance (yes, it's a bland title, but it works for now)--
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JEAN-PIERRE BASSIR, a young rugby player from Marseilles, sneaks into Morocco to find the man who murdered his parents and his wife. The elder Bassir was a bank manager who discovered his bank was laundering arms and drug money from Morocco, so he and Jean-Pierre's mother and wife were killed by a car bomb. Afterwards, JP (as his friends call him) careened towards suicide...until a man named LEGRIS told him who was behind the bombing. Now JP has no interest in merely ending his own life; he plans to destroy his father's murderer by having the man kill him and be held responsible for his death.

His focus is on PAUL CHARPIN, a notorious arms dealer he traced to an estate just outside Casablanca. Charpin's wife died years ago, leaving him with two children -- ABRIELLE, a lovely young woman now attending university, and ISSAM, who is under severe pressure to succeed at the Lycée Lyautey.

With the help of his mother's half brother, YOUSSEF, JP arranges to meet Abrielle and Issam; he wants them to unknowingly help him in his plan. But he falls in love with Abrielle and beings to wonder if his life may have meaning, again.

Before he can rearrange his plans, JP is almost killed in a gunfight, signaling Charpin knows who he is. So his fate is set. He uses Abrielle to get into Charpin's compound, plants evidence to suggest he was beaten and killed, there, and sets himself up to be taken prisoner.

But Youssef is on Charpin's side, and helps him not only capture JP but remove the evidence he left behind. Then JP is taken out on a boat into the Mediterranean to be tortured and killed.

After a vicious fight, he manages to escape and now plans to just kill Charpin. Only he finally begins to see clues that he's out to wreak vengeance on the wrong man...and realizes this is really a plot to kill not only Charpin but Abrielle and Issam and blame him...a realization that may be too late to save two innocent people from death.
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I used Frédéric Michalak as the idea for JP. He's an actual rugby player in France and was in their best calendar from a few years ago. I had to sell it when I was broke in SAT, but it brought in a nice dollar.

Quelle domage...

Sunday, September 28, 2014

New plans for OT...

Okay...I've started reworking the foundation of the story, and it's going to get a lot simpler. More compact. To start with, I've shoved the background exposition into a prologue that sketches out what happened prior to Jake's meeting with Mira in Paris. Probably 10 pages of yap-yap-yap cut to 1.5 pages. I can still reference details from then as we go along, but it makes the opening a lot cleaner, and if people want to find out more, they can read RIHC6.

I'm also shortening the time between when Owen vanishes and Jake goes looking for him. Three months now seems too long, especially after Owen having just been in a trial; Jake wouldn't wait more than a month to contact him to find out how things went, even if he is preoccupied with Tone's crap.

I'm keeping it in Palm Springs. Nothing else really works, including just not naming the city. Comes across as being too coy. So I've sent an e-mail off to the Riverside County DA's office to ask about how things are handled, now that their administration building is no more and they're 10 miles from the Larsen Justice Center. Same for the Riverside Sheriff's Department, that manages the Indio jail, part of which is also being torn down.

In an early draft, I had Jake being taken to the city of Riverside for a confrontation with the DA but shifted that to a DDA in Indio. Now it looks like it will be a mishmash of both...which actually works out better. They don't give him time to pee before he's hustled over to Philby's office, and it's rather hard to do when you're in a car going down a city street.

Who knows? By the time I'm done with this restructuring, my magnum opus a la Beethoven may wind up being a piano concerto a la Satie. Pleasant. Not bombastic. But not as rich and overpowering as the Ninth Symphony.

That'd be a switch...said Tolstoy as he spun in his grave (wondering how I had the nerve to bring him into this).

Une autre de Billy Wilder...

I put this here because I want to watch it later; it's an hour long.

Writing is very hard work, and having done both writing and directing, I tell you that directing is a pleasure and writing is a drag. Directing can become difficult, but it is a pleasure because you have something to work with. You can put the camera here or there, you can interpret the scene this way or that way, the readings can be such or such. But writing is just an empty page—you start with absolutely nothing. I think writers are vastly underrated and underpaid. It’s totally impossible to make a great picture out of a lousy script. It’s impossible, though, for a mediocre director to completely screw up a great script. –Billy Wilder

"Sunset Boulevard", c'est moi? Je ne sais pas...mais...

It's from 2002 and has German subtitles, but it's fascinating to watch and learn about a Hollywood masterpiece.

Lovely inspiration...

I have to share this, it's so wonderful...
...and gives me ideas about Jake, since he refers to himself as a wolf.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Rearranging the dirt...

The nice thing about a catastrophe is...well, not to be all Pollyanna and crap, but you have to rebuild. Ruined structures get torn down and new ones, stronger ones, go up in their place. Hopefully. Anyway, I've already begun the clearing away for new foundations.

For example, I just learned that the administration building that housed the Indio branch of the Riverside County DA's office is being razed to make way for a newer, larger jail. The offices in there have been moved temporarily to Palm Desert, a good 10 miles away. Which led me to other aspects of the story that were outdated and incorrect.

Like how, in the attempt to make Owen a wonderful guy, I was ignoring the reality of Palm Springs -- that it's nearly half-gay, skews older than average, and many of them are supporters of the GOP...even with its fanatical anti-gay attitudes. I knew a couple of Log Cabin Republicans, and while they were nice-enough people, nothing really mattered to them except that vile party's tax-cut policies, because nothing else really affected them.

So a lot has to be adjusted. The push of the story is still good, but more research is needed to make certain I'm still grounded in truth instead of a Hollywood-dream-style community caught in a fag's fantasy. I even read up more on the Warm Springs sting of 2009 that resulted in 19 men being entrapped and arrested for "indecent exposure." That crime requires a jail sentence and registry as a sex offender, and the DA at the time pushed to try all of them for that crime instead of the lesser "public indecency."

That caused a huge uproar in the gay community, and they pushed back, pointing out that straight couples get a pass despite numerous complaints of straight sex in parking lots while gay men get targeted even though no one actually lodged a complaint. The Palm Springs Chief of Police wound up having to resign (after it was found he used disparaging language against gay men) and the Riverside DA got kicked out, to his shock.
I think David Mason Chlopecki's photo was taken in Palm Springs, to give you an idea of what the place can be like.

Problem is, that DA was replaced by another Republican, who then pushed through the charges in spite of having received massive gay support. It also exposed a rift in the community between those who appreciated how the gay community had saved Palm Springs from becoming a nothing desert community and those who felt the fags were being bullies and tossing their weight around.

Final story is, 16 of those 19 men now have criminal histories (3 had the charges dropped) and that DA's en route to his second term. Even after having been caught destroying the political signs of his opponent. And yet, there are still gay men who support Republicans.

Talk about self-loathing queens.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Inspiration needed...

This is Alex Minsky, whom I've mentioned in my blog, before. He was nearly killed in Afghanistan by an IED, and did lose his right leg. He spiraled into despair and alcoholism, but turned his life around and is now a model and fitness guru. He's still in his mid-20s.

I'm making shameless use of him, right now, not because he has a beautiful smile but because I need something to kick me in the ass and keep me going on OT. If he can overcome that hideous experience, I can overcome the chaos in my feeble brain.

A problem I've been ignoring...and which this mess has finally forced me to admit to...is I've been pulling back on the truth of my characters, too much. Mainly because of the vicious reaction I've gotten from some of my earlier works. Well fuck that. Kitty just got whipped, bringing out my inner Tasmanian Devil, and Tas don't take shit off nobody.

Be warned.

And FWIW, this is how Alex proudly stands:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Better now than never, I guess

This was a nice little personal earthquake. Just a 7.8 on the Richter Scale. Smoldering ruins abound but so far I'm able to stand up and walk out of the chaos. I think. The sudden collapse of OT shook me up...but I'm too vested in the story to just toss it aside. So on Saturday, I'm going back to page 1 and stripping out everything that no longer works. Guess it's better to know now than after I'd sent it out for feedback.

I'm pretty fucking pissed about this. And my self-confidence is down around my knees. And all it took was one comment from one character to set the destruction going, like a massive line of dominoes lined up for miles. Thanks a lot, guys; all that work and I'm back to the beginning.

I still don't know what the hell happened. It may have been me trying to shoehorn in some ideas that just weren't right for the story. Like Owen insisting on defending himself at his trial for public indecency, when he knows a damn good lawyer who will take the case and do it right. Something I mention more than once as regards that lawyer with other characters.

Or maybe it's how I'm trying to find ways to tie Jake's growing uncertainty about Antony in with the anti-gay push by newcomers to the area. Or maybe it's just plain setting this in Palm Springs. Or maybe I was being too damned coy with the real reason for what's going on and got so damned coy, I lost sight of the narrative reality.

I don't know. I just know that right now my head aches and I'm damn near ready to give up on the whole stupid idea of writing. I don't know why this story is causing me such turmoil...or why it's become such a devil to deal with. It's just a mystery story. Shit.

And that may be the problem...it's really more than that and I'm denigrating it by suggesting I'm writing something like Earl Stanley Gardner's Perry Mason books. I'm not. I'm writing a story about a man coming to terms with the truth of himself. That's what the final chapter was always about -- Jake accepting his own horrifying reality...and how it nearly destroyed him...and could, still...

I don't know if I can handle that...

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Here we go again...

One of the major plot points of The Vanishing of Owen Taylor turned out to be a worm that just collapsed the story around me...and as of now, I have no idea how to get around it. I've gone blank. Setting the story in Palm Springs doesn't work. At all. But it's so intrinsically a part of the story, I have to change the entire premise to keep it there. The whole reason for everything to be happening. Which means a page one rewrite.

Shit.

Excuse me while I do a crash and burn...