Watch Your Fucking Mouth

Al Swearengen

I’ve been reading a lot of unproduced screenplays recently, and a few things have been jumping out at me. First off: a lot of writers fumble on structure. A lot of what I’ve read has shown clear signs of competence but wandered around plotless for upwards of fifty pages. Some writers can pull off plotless, but most of them are novelists.

The other thing I’ve noticed is that a lot of writers are really bad at swearing. I’ll read a script full of characters saying fuck every other sentence and it just rings untrue. I always feel a bit silly when I ding a script for “too much swearing”, so I’ve been trying to put my finger on what bothers me about it. I’m no prude, and some of my favorite scenes and movies are full of swearing, so what’s different about these scripts?

I think the key difference is that these writers are swearing by default. They probably swear a decent amount in their own lives, they’ve watched plenty of movies full of swearing, so they throw in swearing because that’s how people sound, right? The problem is that they forget to make their choice of words about the characters saying them. The swearing is about the writer, not the characters.

People who accuse writers of laziness when they use vulgarity are missing the point. Swearwords aren’t automatically lazy; it all comes down to how you use them. Some of the greatest scenes in film and TV revolve around characters who swear up a blue streak, but they work because those moments reveal something about those characters and deepen our understanding of their feelings and motivations.

Here are a few of my favorite examples:

1) Steve Martin blows up at a rental car agent in Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

Up until this point the character has been mild-mannered and relatively patient, but he’s been through such an ordeal that he finally snaps and lets loose in the way only a man on the edge would do. The way he swears also tells us something about him as a character; it’s like a dam bursting, this sudden barrage of profanity pours forth from him and he’s punctuating every fucking word of every fucking sentence with another fucking swear word.

2) Peter Capaldi (the next Doctor Who!) in pretty much every scene of In The Loop.

Malcolm Tucker swears constantly and with evident relish. He terrorizes everyone around him and uses words like knives. He isn’t content with throwing out a “fuck” here and there, he rants and raves and spins absurd metaphors and embellishes every sentence with an acidity that jumps out of the screen at you.

3) Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross.

David Mamet wrote this scene for Alec Baldwin. It isn’t in the stage play, but it’s by far the most famous moment in the movie. Baldwin is in the zone here, he’s all rhythm and rancor and cool energy. He swears for emphasis, to make a point, to hammer home his message and it flows like poetry. Say what you will about Mamet the man, but when he could write, he could write.

4) Bunk and McNulty in The Wire.

Two characters communicate entirely through the word fuck and it’s hilarious. They give every variation of the word its own meaning. A large part of this relies on the talent of the actors and their delivery, but the humor is there in the writing. The great part about this scene is that it shows us that the characters know each other so well that they can communicate with only one word.

These are all excellent examples of writers using profanity to tell us something about their characters. Swearwords are words like any others; they have a certain bite and relish to them, but if they are used poorly, they clang and fall flat just like any other.

So, what’s the takeaway? Should writers avoid profanity in their scripts? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe they really just need to hear their words read aloud. I feel like a lot of the problems with dialogue become glaringly obvious when the words are read aloud. Mainly, though, it’s a matter of deciding why a character swears and how they swear.

The Nature of a Good Plot Twist

I finished playing Heavy Rain last night, and it got me thinking about plot twists and their function in storytelling. Heavy Rain is a game that places itself firmly in the “thriller movie” genre, for better or worse. It’s great at building tension and getting you to care about the characters you meet and control, but it falls into the trap that undermines so many thrillers, namely that its endgame centers around a “shocking” reveal that doesn’t actually make any logical sense.

(Just a quick warning: this rest of this post will contain spoilers about movies that are old enough I will assume everyone has seen them. There will be no Heavy Rain spoilers, however.)

The problem with plot twists, see, is that by nature they should make you jump out of your seat or gasp in horror. You’d never expect that [CHARACTER NAME] was the killer in Heavy Rain, after all, and you are of course horrified that you empathized with the character while playing. That’s the root of the problem, though; in order to make the twist ending truly surprising, the game’s writers decided to fill the story with red herrings and give no real concrete clues about the real killer’s identity. They didn’t want you to figure it out ahead of time, after all.

I think this is why very few storytellers can pull off a truly stunning twist that holds up under scrutiny. If a writer works to make her story internally consistent, she may layer in too many readable clues and people will write off the twist as “predictable” and feel cheated. The easiest shortcut to making a completely unpredictable twist, then, is to make that twist completely illogical or at odds with everything leading up to it. This will at least ensure a visceral shock in the moment, but ultimately… the audience just feel cheated in the light of day. Six of one, half dozen of the other.

There are the occasional successful twists, of course: The Sixth Sense, Fight Club, and The Usual Suspects come to mind. From what I can remember of the first two, clues to predict the twist were layered in throughout both movies. If you go back and re-watch them a second time, knowing the twist reveals the story rather than undermining it. Of course, there may be those of you out there who figured out the twists halfway through because of the clues.

The Usual Suspects treads in kind of dangerous territory, however, in that its twist ending makes you question why everything you just watched even matters. If the entire movie is a lie told by Kevin Spacey’s character, why should I even care what happened? I think what helps Usual Suspects is that it is such a well-made movie we forgive it for playing with such a hackneyed trope. It’s rare that “it was all just a dream!” is used as anything but a cheap gag.

I think the best twists are often so subtle you may not even realize they are there. I would argue that Minority Report has a twist ending, for example, although everyone who saw it with me disagreed with my perspective. My argument was that when Tom Cruise’s character is arrested and put into cold storage, everything that happens after that is a dream, thus explaining why he is rescued and everything works out positively for the characters. The end of the movie doesn’t pull back the curtain and reveal this, however, so it is entirely up for interpretation. The only clues you are given are a few lines from the jailer character about whether his charges dream while they are in storage.

In any case, I’d love to play another game in the style of Heavy Rain, if only the makers could be convinced to forego the showy twists of thriller movies and focus on things like character development and an internally consistent story. Surely there is a way to work in shocking reveals without causing massive inconsistencies and plot holes.

Who watches The Watchmen? Definitely not the Heroes writers.

First off: a disclaimer. I’m going to discuss this week’s Heroes’ episode in my post, so if you’re spoiler averse, please stop reading now.

With that out of the way, I think those of us who are current on the newest season of Heroes can all safely agree that the show is a complete mess. By the same token, I think if you are current on the show, it’s because there’s still something about it that keeps you hooked and ready for the next episode. It’s almost as if it has some kind of charisma that makes you want to forgive its plot-holes and serious lapses in writing.

It’s why I keep watching, and keep hoping that the writing will rise above the current level and the writers will avoid any serious lapses in logic or character motivation. I have a feeling I will continue to get my hopes up only to have them dashed yet again.

This week’s episode, “Villains”, was a particularly good example. It focused entirely on a flashback seen through the eyes of a “dream-walking” Hiro. It was nice to have an episode that centered on characterization as opposed to express-train “save the world” plotlines, but at the same time it only introduced more serious logical lapses to an already overstuffed storyline.

Considering how this season has been received in the press and by fans, this episode felt like a last-ditch effort to remind the folks at home about the good times from season one. A number of familiar plot points from the first season were revisited and fleshed out from new perspectives. For the most part these details weren’t much more than filler, but one storyline did at least have an interesting premise, namely that Sylar’s descent into murder and mayhem wasn’t entirely his own doing.

Essentially the roles are reversed here, with Noah Bennett as the manipulative Company man (“villain”) who wants Sylar to keep killing so that they can study him, and Sylar as the relative innocent (“hero”) who truly regrets his initial act of violence and tries to commit suicide out of guilt. Sylar is a fascinating character, and I do like seeing more of his backstory, but I do wish that it didn’t have to come at the cost of the imposing air of menace he cultivated throughout seasons one and two. That isn’t my biggest problem with this storyline, however; my real issue is with the involvement of Kristen Bell’s character, Elle.

In this flashback storyline, we are told that Bennet and Elle partnered together to study Sylar. Elle was sent in undercover to draw him out of his shell by befriending him. She has second thoughts, however, and begins to have sympathy for Sylar as they become close, and she asks Bennett to back off.

The big disconnect is that when we meet Elle for the first time in season two, she is a daddy’s girl and an immature mess, completely sheltered and reliant on The Company for everything. In her scenes here, she seems much more in-control and mature, not to mention moral. In addition to that complete change in character, there are scenes later in season two where Elle saves several characters from a rampaging Sylar. I don’t have the episode in front of me to watch, but from what I remember there wasn’t even a hint of a shared history when they confronted each other.

You could, perhaps, explain some of this away as a case of a serious mind-wipe or manipulation performed on Elle so that she doesn’t remember what happened with Sylar, but that seems like a lazy explanation for what is, on the whole, half-assed writing. This particular storyline felt like it had some potential to be interesting, but it barely stands up to any kind of scrutiny. Overall, this week’s episode amounted to nothing more than plotholes interrupted by filler.

In conclusion, I think Heroes is best appreciated when you don’t analyze it too closely. I liked this week’s episode a lot more when I first started writing this post, and my opinion seriously went downhill from there. Doesn’t mean I’m going to stop watching, though. Shameful, really…

Austin Film Festival: Day… um… All The Rest

So when I first started attending AFF, I had a fairly ambitious plan to blog daily about my experiences, but… as you may have noticed, this went by the wayside pretty quickly. I’m a blogging wuss, I know, but what can I say? Attending more than 12 hours of festivities in one day tired me out pretty quickly.

Here’s everything I attended after Thursday:


“TV Drama Today”
“Finding the Voice: Dialogue”
“Writing Comedy for TV”
“A Conversation With Glenn Gordon Caron
“Film Texas BBQ Supper”
Reservation Road


“Juno: From Script to Screen”
“Production Team: Friday Night Lights”
“Conference Wrap Party”


Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist


Neal Cassady


Two Tickets to Paradise

Continue reading “Austin Film Festival: Day… um… All The Rest”

Welcome Back, TV Premiere Season

Here we are again… another year, and even more new shows to watch and watch fail. In the past few years I’ve paid much closer attention to the premiering shows, and I tend to check out anything with promise.

Of course, this means that I also end up watching plenty of shows that get canceled. Studio 60 is the most prominent example, of course, but I also watched Smith (I could tell after the pilot that it was done for), Help Me Help You (I had actually forgotten about this show), and Andy Barker PI. Studio 60 is the only one I really miss, but I started missing it a few episodes in after it never quite matched the promise of the pilot. It would also be nice if Andy Richter could find himself a successful show.

Earlier in the week I had a more ambitious goal to write a full review of every new show I watch, but I’m scaling that back a bit because I’m feeling lazy. I have, however, decided to rank the new shows I’ve watched so far:

Sam and The Devil1. Reaper – This is a must-see. The creators did a good job of establishing likable characters and the humor is right on target. The premise is dealt with in a fairly absurd way (“Sorry about that, son… we sold your soul to the devil to save your dad’s life!”), but overall that works for the tone of this show.

The actress who plays the love interest didn’t quite mesh with the rest of the show, but she was a late addition, replacing another actress, so hopefully things will gel more in later episodes. In fact, the most negative review of this show on MetaCritic says that “Reaper is strictly for fans of movies like Superbad.” How can you go wrong with that?

The main character from Journeyman2. Journeyman – I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this show. It gets major points for throwing in a completely unexpected twist, which is pretty impressive for a brand new show. I also liked that the character was resourceful enough to deal with the problems that time-jumping could cause for his life and marriage in the present.

I’ve read it did terribly in the ratings, however, so it may not be long for this world. Hopefully it’ll get some buzz and start holding on to more of the lead-in from Heroes. If you missed the premiere, you can watch the whole thing on NBC’s website, or you can buy it on the iTunes store, thanks to the funny ways of television production (just because it airs on NBC doesn’t mean it was produced by NBC).

Chuck at Buy More3. Chuck – This show was highly entertaining, but only if you can ignore the serious gaps in logic in the setup. Somehow Chuck is sent an email full of a huge number “encrypted images” that contain intelligence from the NSA and the CIA. When he watches a slideshow of these images (it apparently takes all night) he wakes up with a brain full of crazy intelligence that has been interpreted by the computer that the images were stolen from.

This raises major questions, like: How was someone able to send an “email” full of millions of images and possibly terabytes of data? Why on earth did the NSA and the CIA put “all of their secrets” together on one computer? Why did they encode all of these secrets into images? Was it some kind of secret training program, i.e. a more efficient way of teaching someone intelligence data? That would certainly make slightly more sense than the explanation given in the pilot.

I sound pretty negative about Chuck, I know, but I really did laugh a lot, and all of the previews make future episodes look even better. Maybe they’ll do a better job of explaining the premise in later episodes, or maybe I’ll stop caring if the show just gets generally better. I’d also accept it if they started making fun of their own premise. It would be more in line with the style of creator Josh Schwartz’s previous show – The OC.

Katee Sackhoff, the best thing in Bionic Woman4. Bionic Woman – The problem with this one is just that Katee Sackhoff is too damn awesome. In a perfect world, she would play the main character, but only if it meant she could also finish Battlestar Galactica.

Michelle Ryan as Jaime Somers is certainly nice to look at, but didn’t really hold her own against Sackhoff in the pilot. Some of the dialog was fairly clunky, especially her speech at the end of the episode. I wonder how much of this can be chalked up to a British actress trying to do an American accent – not everyone can be Hugh Laurie or Colin Farrell, after all. This show wasn’t a complete disappointment, but it definitely did not live up to my expectations. I’ll keep watching for as long as it is on air to see if it improves.

Other than those four shows, I’ve also got Dirty Sexy Money and Gossip Girl waiting to be watched, and this upcoming week I’m recording: Cavemen (too awful-sounding to miss), Carpoolers, and Pushing Daisies. Pushing Daisies has been getting ecstatic reviews, so I hope it lives up to the hype.

Why Aren’t You Watching The OC, Bitch?

Okay… I’ll be upfront about it. I love The OC. Despite the fact that _everyone_ I know who used to watch it now turns their nose up at it like two-day-old fish, I’ve stuck by it, and those folks are seriously missing out on some damn fine television. A rollicking good time, even, if I do say so myself.

The fourth season episodes so far have been great, some of the best in the show in a good long time, possibly reaching the quality of the first season (blasphemy!)

Tonight’s episode was a riot, and there is one good reason why: Autumn Reeser as Taylor Townsend!

!{float: left; margin-right: 1em;}/images/autumn.jpg! Not only is she pretty nice to look at, she is absolutely hilarious to watch. Her character is really well-written, but it helps that she’s such a talented performer.

Taylor was already my favorite character last season when the character was just a guest role, so I was definitely crossing my fingers in the hopes that she’d be added to the cast full-time… lucky me!

…Except The OC might not last after this season because none of you jerks are watching it. Jerks.

Seriously, though… the third season was kind of a drag sometimes, but it was still good, and the fourth season so far is leaps and bounds better than seasons two and three combined. It’s rare for a show to have such a resurgence in quality after two kind of shaky seasons, but here we are.

So… this is my call to all of you fair-weather fans… start watching The OC again. Watch one episode and you’ll forget what the hell Mischa Barton even looked like because a far better actress has taken her place front-and-center. So there.

Tasks: 1) Bend. 2) Cheese it!

My mom has politely requested that I update my blog more often. I’ve been letting down my faithful readers, apparently. Hi Mom!

!{float: left}/images/chair.jpg! Tonight Beau and I went and saw “The Puffy Chair”:, which is a little indie film directed by two brothers from Austin, Mark and Jay Duplass. The basic premise of the movie is that Josh, a 20-something former musician, has bought a big, puffy chair on eBay, and has planned a road trip to pick it up and deliver it to his dad as a birthday present. Apparently his dad had the same chair years ago, and Josh thinks it will make a nice present.

Initially, he plans to make the trip by himself, but the night before he is going to leave, he has a fight with his girlfriend. To make it up to her, he invites her along on the road trip so that they can spend some time together – she had already said that she wanted to come along for the ride. Things start off well enough, but when they stop to visit Josh’s brother, Brett, he invites himself along, too.

This just makes things more complicated, but because this movie is anything but formulaic, Brett is not the sort of character who causes conflict by being wacky – he’s just another person along for the ride, someone who gets in the way when the couple is trying to be intimate, or asks questions about what is going on when they’re fighting.

…And fight they do. One of the best things this movie does is unflinchingly portray a couple dealing with some pretty serious issues and constantly picking at each other or fighting. Somehow it manages to do this while still being funny, but it’s definitely not a “romantic” comedy. It’s, well… a relationship-roadtrip-nightmare comedy/drama.

The stylistic choices made in the movie really help it all seem that much more _real_. The movie was shot on digital video, like many indies nowadays, and that combined with the handheld camera throughout most of the movie makes it seem like a documentary. The characters really felt like people I know.

You can check out a trailer for it at “the Duplass brothers’ website”: I’d recommend it, but I don’t know if it would make for a good “date” movie…

you look like a perfect fit

This past Saturday night we had the first public “cathedral for a while” event. Basically we had a party at “beau’s”: house, but it wasn’t just any party. The whole inside of the house was decorated, all of the furniture was re-arranged, and there was a stage set up in their living room. Over the course of the night, there was music, theatre, film, and even archery.

When we first started talking about this whole thing, I honestly wasn’t sure how I was going to participate. the earliest meetings coincided with a general funk that lasted about a solid month, so I had a hard time seeing much further than my own feet for a while.

Of course, everyone insisted that i *had* to come up with something, but I held my cards close to my chest for as long as possible. I didn’t want to commit to anything, and I especially didn’t want to commit to anything that other people would rely on me to do.

But, as it turns out, we kept having meetings, and we kept talking about being creative, and even though I wasn’t having any ideas, it was nice to be in that general soup of creative thought.

The idea had been floated that we should try and assemble a documentary from some footage Aaron had taken of Tony competing in an Air Guitar Championship. His character was named Rockbot. “Why not”, they said, “make a Rockbotumentary?” This was tasked to me, since I have the computer with video editing software. I don’t remember whether or not I actually agreed to do this. I probably did.

After a certain point, however, my general noncomittal stance evaporated and I decided to take it seriously after all. The thing that probably got me going was the first night of actual editing. Beau and I sat down and managed to put together an opening sequence that was, in our humble opinion(s), sheer awesomeness. We cracked up every time we watched it. But the rest of the footage still needed something more – we had performance footage, but we didn’t have the story of the event.

The following night I called Tony and asked if he had time to do an interview so that we’d have something to intercut with the performance footage. Luckily, I caught him at a good time and he was able to come over and sit down for a little while. I did my best to interview him like I thought the professionals would, and I ended up with about 20 minutes of interview footage.

Beau came over about 20 minutes after Tony left, and we started editing again, now with interview footage to work with. This was the Thursday night before the party, and we wanted to get it done as soon as possible. There was some worry that we just wouldn’t be able to finish it in time, but we soldiered on through and managed to wrap it up that same night.

I think I can feel confident in saying that the “Rockbotumentary” is one of the best things I’ve ever put together in iMovie. It’s definitely the first movie we’ve made as a group in a long time that we took seriously. That doesn’t meant that it’s not funny, of course, we just wanted to make something that wasn’t a joke for once.

Anyways, enough of my chatter. Why don’t you check it out for yourself?


(Note: Requires Quicktime 7. Update your systems!)

luke = jesus, get it?

…right, anyways…

after i finished farscape, i was seriously considering cancelling netflix, simply because i couldn’t really justify using it as much anymore, and also because i want to cut back some on the time i spend in front of a tv. but i waited too late to cancel it this month, and perhaps some things are inevitable anyways, because i do want to watch more…

tonight, i watched all three and a half hours of “Oliver Stone’s 1995 film about Richard Nixon”: it was really amazingly excellent, and if not for the pee break i had to take halfway through, i would have been mesmerized the whole time through. it was kind of amazing how Stone made the whole thing into something Shakespearian, and at the same time also made Nixon a strangely sympathetic character.

i also went home this weekend for my mom’s graduation from graduate school, and we all watched Sideways, which was as good the second time. the scene where Miles and Maya sit outside and talk about why the like wine is still, hands down, one of the best scenes in cinema from the last couple of years.

i still have this idea knocking around in my head that i should go through my movies, one by one, and write a review of each one based on a repeat viewing. i.e., the idea being to write about how the movie stands up on further reflection, and compare how i felt about it the first time to how i felt about it now. some of these would be more interesting than others, of course.

about a week or so ago, i found this nifty website called “backpack”:, which is intended to help with organizing your thoughts and projects.

it would be useful… if i sat down and took the time to put things into it.




i just watched a really entertaining, refreshingly dark movie called “Rick”: i saw it on the shelf at “i luv video”: and picked it up cause it had an interesting cover, and i’m kind of a Bill Pullman fan, if it is possible to be such a thing (a lot of critics like to make fun of him for being bland; i think he’s a great character actor with a talent for the weird).

what made me rent it is that it was written by daniel handler, he of lemony snicket fame. it was kind of fascinating to know that the author of a series of children’s books had also written a very R-rated dark comedy. luckily, my impulse to rent it paid off. the movie was inspired by an old Italian tragedy, and did not shy away from the death and darkness common to that sort of thing.

The best part was when a character named Buck handed Rick his business card, saying “I started my own company,” and the business card had printed on it:


_My Own Company_

I was pretty well sold after that.

Kurt Vonnegut, Creative Writing 101

From Bagombo Snuff Box, by Kurt Vonnegut:

Creative Writing 101

Now lend me your ears. Here is Creative Writing 101:

1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
4. Every sentence must do one of two things… reveal character or advance the action.
5. Start as close to the end as possible.
6. Be a sadist. No matter sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them… in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

The greatest American short story writer of my generation was Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964). She broke practically every one of my rules but the first. Great writers tend to do that.

Notes on "The Boring Life and Unremarkable Death of Henry Herman"

Jeff’s Notes:

Inspired by Pavement’s “Shady Lane,” particularly the line “You’ve
been chosen as an extra in the movie adaptation of the sequel to your

The premise is that one day our main character Henry is reading the
newspaper or watching TV or something of the sort and he sees an ad
for a movie production that needs extras for a crowd scene, so he
decides to go and check it out. He gets chosen, and we watch what is
apparently one of the climactic scenes of the movie being filmed.
Strangely enough, the main character of the movie-within-a-movie has
the same name as Henry, and as he starts to find out more about it he
discovers that several other characters have the names of people he

He also discovers that the current movie is a sequel to an earlier
movie, which he goes and rents. As he is watching it, he becomes more
and more disturbed because the movie is about his life. (Ex: our movie
starts with a shot of him eating breakfast, and the rented movie
starts the same way but with a different actor playing Henry.) It
turns out that the movie was based on a book – now out of print – so
he contacts the publisher to see if he can figure out what is going

When they meet for a lunch date, the first thing the publisher says is
“How very postmodern or you, Mr. Herman, to show up for a lunch date
after you’re already dead!” Turns out that the book is called “The
Boring Life and Unremarkable Death of Henry Herman (an Autobiography)”
and it has his picture on the back cover. The publisher says that he
always thought it was funny that someone wrote an autobiography “where
they died at the end.”

However, there is nothing Henry can do about the book or the movies;
the rights have been sold by mysterious unreachable persons, so Henry
decides that all there is for him to do is to sneak onto the movie set
to sabotage things. Every time he shows up for a scene they are
filming the character’s death scene, and every time they’ve re-written
it and are doing reshoots because they weren’t happy with the earlier
versions, and the more Henry watches the more he wants to find out
what happens in the movie.

Our movie will end with Henry dying somehow, most likely in a very
random and “unremarkable” fashion.

Note: the movies-within-the-movie should be absurd and over-the-top,
having rewritten his life and turned it into a thriller or some sort
of heightened drama; the actor “playing” Henry shouldn’t look at all
like him, and whereas Henry’s job is dull, the moviemakers have made
it so the same job seems somehow heroic.

Mark’s Notes:

I don’t know what kind of tone you were going for or intended. Anyway
these are just some notes and ideas I’ve come up with for the movie.
Feel free to like them or use them or not, I’m just hoping it inspires
you to write something.

– So the movie opens with a series of shots showing how boring this
guy’s life is. As the movie progresses and the details of his
autobiography come to light, the sequence is repeated more and more
but every time adding something more “interesting”. Splashes of colors
on the walls behind him, stuff like that. The sequence is shot again
using incredibly tight telephoto lenses with soft light. As the movie
progresses and these sequences showcasing Howard’s (or whatever his
name is) life continue it transforms and transcends just the basic
bland moments that are his life. He does the same thing every time but
it’s shot in such a way that makes it beautiful. We see the art in his
mundane, boring life.

– The main character should get a dog midway through the movie. It’s
simple and kind of cute, but let’s say we do one of the aforementioned
sequences and midway through one of them (let’s say he’s sitting down
eating dinner), the dog barks. He smiles and goes to pet the dog,
leaving the shot entirely. Him getting a dog and loving it is a really
simple little thing for most people, but for this character (and the
audience) the dog really enriches his life. We should set the movie up
so that, while his life is boring and monotonous, small & simple
things totally enrich it and make it well…nice…? The dog is also
one of the only characters that misses him when he dies…

– Howard Herman (is that his name? I can’t remember) has a really
boring and uninteresting life, but at the end of the movie both he
and the audience should feel really great about it all — the life
that he has led. I don’t know if this was the original tone and mood
you had for the movie when you conceived it, but I think the story
would work great as sort of a feel-good movie. At his death the main
character understands his life was kind of pointless and meaningless
— but he feels pretty good about it. At the credits people should
walk away from it feeling like their lives have been enriched by
knowing this simple little guy died happy.

– Howard gains access to the film location as people realize that it
is his autobiography that the movie is based on. He mostly hangs by
the craft services table.

– The main character should develop a kind of friendship with the
actor who is playing him in the movie. The actor is vapid and very
self-involved but seeks out Howard for “tips on how to get his
character right.” At one point the actor laments to Howard (in a very
self-absorbed and vapid way) that “this whole acting thing is for the
birds.” He comments about how he is always being interviewed and
hounded by paparrazi but his own life is very meaningless and
uninteresting — that he is cursed to always pretend to be somebody
else. That people aren’t interested in him at all, but rather the kind
of job he has – one in which he is always pretending to be something
he’s not.

– If one were to ask Superman what it is like to fly, he would tell
you he wouldn’t know. He is much too busy saving people that he never
stops to think what the act of flying actually is like. Something
along those lines should appear somewhere in the film. A quote by one
of the characters or something. Maybe the actor says it to the main
character in passing…I don’t know…

– Howard should establish a friendship or maybe a love-interest (even
though I really don’t want to turn this into a romantic comedy) with a
woman who works at the book store. She doesn’t like his book – she
thinks it’s boring, pretentious, and self-important.

— The way Howard dies: Although there are very little details in his
autobiography (the book should end with something like “And then I
died.” or “My death wasn’t anything spectacular.”) he dies in some
sort of accident involving himself and the actor portraying him. I
keep thinking car accident but I think something bizarre and freakish
would be better. Everybody rushes to see if the actor is okay (he has
a small scratch on his forehead) but everybody neglects Howard who is
bleeding profusely and breathing slowly. He dies with a smile on his
face. The only thing that misses him is his dog.

well comments are temporarily gone, but worry not

well comments are temporarily gone, but worry not. i actually do have a guestbook that i haven’t been using. if you want to sign it, the link is at the bottom of each post.

soon enough (hopefully) I will receive in the mail a usb pen drive, which is a little 64 meg hard drive that plugs into your usb port. it doesn’t need a power supply and fits on a keychain. with that in hand, i will (probably) be able to redesign/finish this site and start posting videos and pictures, which will be nice. and i will be able to continue using the doohickey in the states, as opposed to my printer which has an english plug.

last night we went and saw a show called closing time. it was about a pub in northern ireland full of alcoholics on the last legs of their ruined lives. it was the best thing i’ve seen so far, although the story was a little cliche. the best (and most disturbing moment) is when one character is kicked out of the bar. he’s just revealed that his wife and kids have left him, and he is absolutely plastered – so much so that he is shaking. to top that off, he has been messing around with the bartender’s wife. as he is leaving, he goes to finish his pint and starts crying into the glass. while he is bawling he forces himself to drink it. it was a really striking moment.

on sunday i went and saw a movie called “christie malry’s own double entry,” which is not in fact a porn. the main character, christie, is played by one of the guys from lock stock. double entry refers to a type of accounting system where debits are put on one side and credits on the other. christie decides to apply this principle to his life. when something bad happens to him something good has to happen in response. it’s actually pretty disturbing, because the stakes keep getting higher and higher and he starts doing some pretty horrible things in the name of revenge.

other than that, i haven’t done much except get a small crush on this girl from american university. oh well.

last night we went to see a show called hyperlynx

last night we went to see a show called hyperlynx. it was a 90-minute one-woman monologue that focused on globalization and the (late) author’s opinion thereof. everyone in the class HATED it, some more vehemently than others. i think i’ve decided that i thought it was an interesting failure. i think that i shared this opinion with one other person (out of about 50 or so). I thought it was interesting because of some of the topics that were… well… lectured about. (that was the main complaint of the other theatre majors – that it was less a theatrical play and more like a lecture thinly disguised.) the thing is, i agreed with pretty much everything everyone else said about the play – it was badly written (as a play), haphazardly acted, and very much a lecture. it was pretty cliche… and the main character wasn’t exactly sympathetic. however, the author brought up topics and issues i am interested in. these things held my interest for the first half. of course, the play was incredibly anti-american and very one-sided in it’s presentation.

according to the playwright, america is a country founded on “genocide and hypocrisy” because American settlers killed native americans and stole their land. okay. so… the first point is that these settlers were not at first “american.” they were europeans who became americans. my second point is that civilisation was founded on genocide. i mean, come on… everyone killed everyone “else”. in huge numbers. americans were not the first, nor have they been the last.

the second half of the play was written in reaction to september 11th. unfortunately, the author was suffering from leukemia while the play was written and died a few months later. i got the feeling that if he had been well and had continued living… he would have rewritten this play. a lot. what we got to see was probably a first or maybe even second draft, probably written off the top of his head and in a moment of passion. as such, it was very muddled and pretty heavy-handed. some people were pretty offended. i personally was not offended, per se… but i thought it was notbale how incredibly tactless some of the writing was. especially considering this guy was a hero of the british theatre.

while i was watching the play, i really was fascinated. i was also half asleep… before the play. i mean, i woke up some when i watched it, but i wasn’t exactly processing all of the information. i suppose i was in a susceptible state, but i was interested. by intermission, everyone else had pretty well decided they hated it. one of our professors was apparently furious.

of course, i think that’s one of the wonderful things about theatre… its ability to piss people off. in this case it was sort of unfocused and shabbily written, but it still caused some pretty extreme reactions in my classmates.

aaron and i had another run-in last night. during the intermission, we were talking about the play. he was telling me that he thought it was too much like a lecture and that he didn’t like it, when he suddenly cut off what he was saying and said “but you’re making that face again where you know you’re right and you think you’re better than me…” or something like that. i can’t remember exactly what he said, but it that was the gist. apparently i was smirking or smiling or making a face something like that. this made him think i thought he was a moron or something.

thing is, i was just making a face. i disagreed with him, but i didn’t think he was a moron… or that i was better than him. i just disagreed with him. he freaked out, though, and in reaction i snapped back at him… “i’m glad you know what i’m thinking aaron. thank you for telling me.”

the whole thing was just a mess because he does this all the time. i do something to me that seems insignificant, or that i’m not even thinking about doing, and it pisses him off. and he remembers things, things that didn’t even cross my mind. and he brings them up. after i saw him in grease, i wrote him on aim and said “his hair looked funny”. he brought this up a week and a half later because he said it was an underhanded compliment… that because i hadn’t said anything about his performance it was actually a put down. this, of course, mystified me to no end, because it was a joke. taken completely out of context because we didn’t actually have a conversation.

it’s actually pretty frustrating dealing with him sometimes. we’ve actually gotten to know each other a lot better so far this semester, but we grate on each other’s nerves in ways i haven’t experienced in a long time.

i would write more, but the lab is getting crowded and i must go. leave comments. they make me happy.