Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Thursday, September 18, 2014

About-face...

Okay, after whining about GPS yesterday, I have to give it props, today. It saved me while driving from Harrisburg. There's this nasty stretch headed for Corning where you're traveling over township roads and have to change from one route to another that's gotten me turned around more than once. This time, letting the GPS bitch tell me what to do, I made it through in record time.

It's a pretty drive, for the most part, up along the Susquehanna River for miles then over rolling hills of trees just beginning to change colors for the fall or open fields of fully grown corn stalks. The big drawback is so much of it is on two-lane blacktops with only the occasional passing lane. So if you get caught behind a slow-going rig or farmer, it's torture.

Something else I've have fun with on this trip is checking out the WiFi in different hotel chains. The service at the Best Western in Long Island City has improved to where it's good, not great, while the service at a Holiday Inn was next to impossible to use. The best was the La Quinta in Harrisburg; super fast and easy to get onto. Too bad the bed wasn't the most comfortable.

Through all of this, I carried my printout of OT, but got only a few chapters dug into. I guess it wasn't worth the effort; I can always make notes and transfer them once I'm home. Now I have a mountain of laundry to do and piles of paperwork to go through...which will be dealt with...eventually.

I didn't get to have Return to Darian's Point read by actors in London. Dammit. I really wanted this. But I've finally gotten it through my thick skull that winning competitions isn't about how good the script is; it's more about how the committee making the decision "feels about it." I was actually told that by two different contest organizers, so went back and saw other e-mails from contests that said the same damn thing -- that non-comment of how "it's all so very subjective." Talk about dense, on my part.

I'm glad the script got this much recognition, but the contest route means nothing to me, anymore, especially considering the cost of the damn things. I could have bought a new car with the money I've spent on entry fees over the years.

Back to the drawing board...and the thought of turning my DP scripts into books.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

GPS Can Bite My Ass

My work phone has Google Maps on it, so I can find my way around...and it's a pain, to be kind about it. The routes it likes to send you on are not always the best ones...like insisting on going up the Van Wyck Expressway in NYC instead of the Grand Island Parkway because it's more direct to JFK (even though it's always packed with heavy traffic)...or vise versa when you're in a cargo van (they aren't allowed on NYC Parkways). And the only way it seems you can change it is if you deliberately ignore it and let it yell at you; then it adjusts to your settings, but not happily.

However, today was the epitome of Google Map insanity. I'm in Washington DC, staying at a hotel just outside the 495 loop, and I need to get to Silver Spring. It's morning rush hour so I know it'll take a while, and the location I'm headed for is on a side road down a dozen other side roads by a park, so I input the address...and Goggle took me off this ramp and turn left here and right there and get on this road and follow it to that fork but stay left...when all it had to do was let me travel along the 495 to the second exit farther and go left...and I'd have been there in half the time.

Then I'm trying to get from Baltimore's Airport to hit the 83 for my return to Buffalo (I'm staying overnight in Harrisburg). I get to the 695 and I know that connects to the 83, so I'm toodling along in VERY slow traffic (it's like the 101 in the morning between Woodland Hills and downtown LA) when Google startles me by saying, "Take the exit for I-95 North." I'm thinking, maybe the traffic isn't as bad that way, so I do it. And it takes me into downtown Baltimore. As in, the city streets. Where you not only have to worry about drivers who know nothing about driving, but pedestrians who think the streets are to be crossed wherever and whenever they want. For miles. By the time I was on the 83 (which, apparently, does not have a direct connection to the 95) I was ready to pull out an Uzi and blow away a few hundred people.

THEN...in Harrisburg, it turns out taking me off the freeway and down some back residential streets is a more direct route to my hotel than just following the freeway around.

It's times like this you wish technology was still in the stone age...so you'd have the damn stones to throw at people when they pissed you off.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

NY Does not do well in rain...

The view from my hotel window, this morning. A nice steady soft rain that sometimes got to be monsoon-like. Unlike LA, where when it rains people drive faster, driving in this city in the rain is like taking lessons in how to go so slow, you're headed backwards. And how construction on the freeways does not stop for a little precipitation. Cannot have the natives think they can get around easily in Queens; they might come to expect it.

So a drive to JFK that should have taken 20 minutes took an hour. Same for when I left to head for DC; a 15 minute drive took over an hour, especially crossing the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. Again, going so slow you're all but retracing your tire tracks. Crazy.

But soon as I was in New Jersey, the rain stopped, and the drive to DC was so uneventful, I had to stop a few times to keep from falling asleep.

At least I got here and saw the job and got my hotel -- a Holiday Inn with minimal WiFi that's next door to an Ikea -- and got some more done on OT. I need to spend about a week on nothing but the story instead of this stop and go crap I've been doing, because it gives Jake too much time to reconsider things and suggest changes I don't want to make.

And point out places where I'm missing opportunities to advance the story neatly...dammit...as is Antony, now. He's snapping at me over the representation of his character in a couple of moments.

I still feel like I'm missing something in the story and can't figure out what it is. Like there's an aspect that would help clarify things and I can't see it...or I'm too focused to allow it in or something. Even having this space to let the story settle hasn't made it clear. I guess all I can do is keep plugging away and hope the revelation comes.

Again.

Monday, September 15, 2014

TOQATM and Bette

I don't know why, but all day while slamming through packing this collection of books in time to be picked up, the score for this movie was drifting through my head. And that is all I have to say...
Guess I'll have to watch it, again, when I get home.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Totally geeked out...

Today I saw an Apple I motherboard that still works. It was designed in 1975, is a bit larger than my laptop, and is in near pristine condition. Somehow a Mac guy connected his iPad to it and was able to write a program! Still! It's going to be offered at auction at Bonham's in San Francisco, and they have no idea what it will bring; it's too recent an acquisition. I have gone so fanboy, it's not funny.

Okay...Adam and Casey and I have had a nice little discussion and we've come to the conclusion The Alice '65 is as good as it's going to get as a script. Except for correcting typos that might get pointed out to me (of which I am sure there are plenty), I'm making no more changes. The next step is to tell the story as a book, like I did The Lyons' Den. Which I wouldn't mind doing. I'm happy with how LD turned out; I just need to work up a strategy to get it selling better.

Looks like I'll be taking a trip to the Genius Bar, again. My laptop's e-mail connection is weirding out, again. It keeps asking me for my password, but even though I input it, it rejects it. Dunno what's going on -- if it's age or something wrong with iCloud...but I've also been having trouble with my iphone, so it may be the cloud.

Did a little work on The Vanishing of Owen Taylor. The first section is pretty tight and sets everything up nicely, I think. I almost talked myself into changing what the mystery's about, again, but quickly talked myself out of it. I think I'm just skittish about how it will come across. Jake isn't, however; he's ready to be done.

God, so am I...

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Cleveland town...

I've never actually been there, but today I took a drive down to pick up my awards from The Indie Gathering.

All three are for Return to Darian's Point. As I understand it, the statue is for Best Horror Script, the plaque is for Best Feature Script, and the certificate is to verify it. I'll pop it into a frame when I get back from DC and put it on the wall. Verification that my work is likable.

I got to town a bit early so looked around the waterfront. Cleveland's building a new stadium for the Browns or the Indians or both, which didn't even begin to interest me. I think it's pathetic that billion dollar companies insist cities, counties and states give them hundreds of millions in tax breaks and funding so they'll build a place for their teams to play a couple times a year.

That's why LA doesn't have a football team -- the city and county told the NFL, "Fine, you want a team here with a new stadium, we're happy to have it. But you'll have to build it without taxpayer dollars." And the NFL tossed a fit and spit and moaned...and after fifteen years there is still no football team in the nation's second largest market. I don't care if they ever get one.

But the lakefront does have a couple of museums -- for Rock & Roll History and Science -- and a nice park and some boat rides, so it's a pleasant space. Very open.

The wind was brisk and Lake Erie was whipped up with whitecaps, none of which came out good in my photos, but the lake freighter was impressive, up close.

I drove on to my appointment...and saw the inner city looks like the rust belt is still intact. Much like sections of Buffalo. Rather sad. Coming back, I drove over the Cuyahoga River.

Randy Newman's song continues to resonate...

Friday, September 12, 2014

And it's done, again...

I spent the evening working on A65 and have it completed. I even cut it down from 112 pages to 110. There wasn't a lot to be gotten rid of or changed -- just moments where I was pushing the story too hard and not being willing to lose a joke that wasn't really comfortable where it was. I like the build of Casey's and Adam's relationship. It feels normal and natural...exactly what I'm after.

Adam's messing around with me was him being happy, too. As are Casey and Gertrude, and we like it when Gertrude's happy. A lot's been cut from the story that I could easily work into a book -- more about what happened with Adam's father...and Casey's dad...and a more complete explanation of what's happening -- but the script has enough to make it work.

Tomorrow I'm headed down to Cleveland to get my awards from The Indie Gathering, and Sunday I'm off to NYC, again. Then I'm driving down to DC and headed back to Buffalo by car, on Thursday. It's a pretty drive, through rolling hills of forest in a thousand shades of green...and maybe some fall golds. I've already seen leaves beginning to drift down.

Wonder if we'll get snow, already?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

My characters piss me off...

Sometimes. Not always. And I know how this sounds...and maybe I am psychotic...but at least it's a fun psychosis and not something dangerous. I hope.

Anyway, Adam was messin' with me. First he sent all these little notes about changes he wants made to The Alice '65, then he did a walkabout on me when I tried to get going on it. But tonight, I worked it through the first act of the script.

We're not talking major changes -- shifting the location of one scene, cutting some language, adding in some of Adam's reticence earlier, things like that -- but they help. So far it's not so much a new draft as another polish. I'm also getting rid of some too-easy jokes that seem rather juvenile.

Everybody else is sitting, waiting their turns, politely. Adam's just being a daftie.

Of course, as Adam shifts so does everyone else, in response. The biggest is with Orisi and his "I'm important and you're not" speech. It's shorter, terser and (I hope) funnier. But you never know.

The humor throughout this script has never been the laugh-out-loud kind. I can sort of get away with the romantic-comedy moniker, but it's really more like just pleasant in the funny department. Which I like. Romantic comedies rely more on the chemistry of the leads to make them work than the humor.

Great pairs -- Spencer Tracy & Katherine Hepburn; Cary Grant & Irene Dunn; Clark Gable & Claudette Colbert; Cary Grant & Rosalind Russell; Doris Day & Rock Hudson; Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan. (Oops, almost forgot Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck.) It is my fervent dream to add Russell Tovey & Eliza Dushku to that list, with a bit of help from Gertrude.

Who says I don't aim high?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Totally lost...

Adam...where are you? This isn't the time for hide-and-seek or Whack the Mole. If you changed your mind about the ideas you sent me for A65, say so. Silence is not golden, right now.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Unintended helpfulness

I'm reading a book on writing comedy, by Sol Saks, that is proving to be less about making people laugh and more about telling a good story. His rules --

Be brief, simple, clear, bold, relevant, recognizable, controversial, unpredictable, original, and salable.

Do NOT:

Be courteous, reverent, or obedient; honor thy mother, father or any predecessor; have a false straight line; go past the punch line; explain; apologize; be innocuous; conform; be tentative; or be untimely.

His seven deadly sins of writing?

Timidity
Deference
Obscurity
Pomposity
Blandness
Bad Timing
Imitation

The book is 30 years old and dated as regards what he considers funny...more smile-worthy...but it's reminding me of how I'm guilty of doing some of the no-nos and not doing the yes-yeses. My books have been controversial, unpredictable and bold, no question...but salable? Only barely. So, I read to write in writing to be read.

Hopefully it will keep me from drifting off into stupidville...but you never know.