obligatory halloween post!

Bradbury. Halloween. 'Nuff said.

Halloween is probably my favorite holiday, not just because it’s 4 days before my birthday (which is not meant to sound like I’m trolling for presents, but if you’re feeling generous, who am I to stop you?), but because it’s so darned fun. Costumes, candy, the supernatural. What more could you ask for?

There’s a Halloween City store a few blocks from our place. We went there to get part of V’s costume (more details in a minute).

For some reason, these places only seem to have decorations of a darker nature. Nothing like greeting trick-or-treaters with your place covered in props for low-budget horror movies. Where are the happy jack o’lanterns and cartoony witches?  Do I have to find a Hallmark store for a more innocent line of decorations?  Since I have no idea if there are even any IN San Francisco, we went down the hill to Walgreens and got some glow-in-the-dark ghosts for the front window.

Getting back to V’s costume, after years of Batman and Jedi Knights, this year K suggested a French waiter.  She loved it. This stems from V constantly repeating the narrator on Spongebob (“Seex ow-ehs lay-tair…”). We got a vest, which came with two tie options. A stick-on mustache from Halloween City lasted one afternoon, and was easily replaced with mascara. Her hair slicked back with cheap product. Still working on the towel over the arm. But after all is said and done, she’s ready.

Also different this year is that K and V will be going to a friend’s house for trick-or-treating while I stay home to give out candy.  We don’t get a lot of kids, but we’re part of the neighborhood association list of designated houses, and I’ll be taking advantage of the downtime to work on either script or outline.  Still debating what movie to watch – maybe THE FRIGHTENERS. Haven’t watched that in a long time. Gotta be careful not to dip into the candy bowl too much. K bought Peanut Butter Cups – one of my few weaknesses.

What are your plans?

Adventure covered in feathers

Rich on so many levels

Apart from seven longboxes of comics taking up a lot of space in the closet, I have about 2-3 bookshelves of assorted material that could be classified under trade paperbacks and graphic novels.

I’m kind of choosy when it comes to what I read.  First and foremost, it has to be well-written.  If it ain’t, then I’m not interested, no matter how pretty the art is.  Boring material is boring material.

George R. R. Martin, author of GAME OF THRONES, has said that comics contributed heavily to his love of reading. I’m working on passing that love to my daughter as well.

While V has been tearing through the Harry Potter books for school, a few weeks ago she asked if she could read one of my comics.  We pulled out a few she might be interested in:

POLLY AND THE PIRATES by Ted Naifeh. I got this at APE a few years ago, complete with autograph

SUPERGIRL: COSMIC ADVENTURES IN THE 8TH GRADE by Landry Walker. A tpb of a miniseries from a few years ago.  Fun take on the character.

But she seemed especially interested in THE LIFE AND TIMES OF SCROOGE MCDUCK and the supplemental COMPANION, both written and drawn by Don Rosa.

I’m not a huge Disney person; Pixar’s stuff is more to my liking.  But I like adventure stories. And I like historical fiction.  These books have both.  And keeping with the Disney theme, most of the material is G-rated, with a hint of innuendo thrown in here and there.

We follow important chapters in Scrooge’s life, starting with his youth in Scotland and the ensuing adventures around the world.  Each story incorporates real-life history and tidbits from Disney duck-universe creator Carl Barks’ decades of work.  I didn’t have a problem with Rosa utilizing as much as he could of the latter, but knowing where a minor story detail came from didn’t have much of an influence on my enjoyment of the story.

V started off reading them herself, but I think she enjoyed it more when we would read them together, which basically meant me reading all the dialogue aloud, incorporating appropriate accents where necessary.  I suspect K enjoyed it as well.  It was fun, but harder than you think.  Amazingly, all my Scottish lines made me sound like the chief engineer on the Starship Enterprise.

I’m just glad V is warming up to the idea of reading for pleasure, and not seeing it as a homework-related chore.

Oh yes, that’s much better

In recovery mode!

I can’t explain it.

Once again, I do the midday traffic shift and break through my writer’s block.  If I could write in there every day, there’d be no stopping me.  But I’ll take what I can get.  I’m scheduled to do it again Monday, so who knows what will come of it?

I’ve been stuck in the section just past the overall midpoint in terms of making my protagonist (which in this case would be Lucy herself) drive the action. While I liked what I had before, she was too passive and re-active, so I’ve been trying to figure out how to really make her the engine that drives the story.

Positive news – I took one scene from before, which in retrospect was pretty dull,  and turned it into a thrilling chase sequence that incorporates a minor character I thought I wouldn’t be able to use, ends with Lucy’s circumstances changed AND moves the plot and characters forward.

I love when this kind of thing happens.

Next up – Indians!  Or are they?  This IS a Western, y’know.

My work schedule gets a little more back to normal this week after Monday, so I’m really hoping to make some long-delayed progress on DREAMSHIP.  I’ll get this thing done yet.

2-4-6-8! C’mon gang, let’s motivate!

Everybody deserves their own cheering section

Some days the words just won’t come, no matter how much you want them to.

I’ve read lots of accounts where some established screenwriter talks about how they have to sit down and write, even if they don’t feel like it.  But they’re getting paid to write.  Most of us are not.

But what if you want to, like really, really, aching to get it done, but you can’t put words on the page?  Or you’ve been stuck at a particular point, and still can’t figure out how to move forward?

How do you get past this dreadful feeling?  It ain’t easy.  It also doesn’t help much to read high-quality scripts. Those are the competition, and my stuff has to be equally as good, if not better than them.  Somedays it’s hard to think my scripts will be that good.  But I take a look at my earlier work, and see some definite progress.  Maybe I have a shot after all.

I also remind myself that I like doing this.  It’s fun.  If it got too work-like, then I would dread sitting and facing the empty white screen.  But it’s not, and I don’t.  This is what I was meant to do.

Things are a little hectic around here, so my dedicated time to write has been severely limited. But I’m working on fixing that, or at least, arranging to be able to write.

Once I do, conditions will improve, blocks will be torn down and pages of oh-so-impressive work will flow forth. See?  The creativity is already starting.

I feel better already.

-Movie of the Moment – MARS NEEDS MOMS (2011). Mars kidnaps Earth moms to extract their child-rearing abilities. Boy accidentally comes along, sets out to rescue her. Neat idea, but poorly executed. Overall, kind of dull.  Clever use of motion capture technology, a la POLAR EXPRESS, but too many parts just dragged along.

It was obvious that Joan Cusack was the mom, but I didn’t realize it was Seth Green as the boy (with a younger actor providing the voice).  Apparently this had the 12th-worst opening in US history. I can see why.  This was also based on a Berke Breathed book (creator of BLOOM COUNTY), which I haven’t read.  Feels like when they take a short source material and try to stretch it into a feature film, the material always suffers.

-Sorry to report that ScriptShadow did not choose my Zombie Western for the Halloween week Amateur Friday script. Can’t that I’m too surprised. I wrote that about 8 years ago, so the writing’s probably a little weak. No complaints, though. Maybe they’ll use the Jewish Cook, Chinese Restaurant script in the future.

Feel free to write in and tell him so.

Argh again

Summing up my mood quite nicely

Ever have one of those days where you think you’re going to have a breakthrough moment, but nothing does?  Or the answer to a nagging problem seems just out of reach, but then you realize it’s even farther away than you thought?

That’s what’s happening to me right now with the LUCY outline. I’m stuck in a section right after the midpoint, and can’t figure my way out of it.  Which is really frustrating.  I really like everything that’s led up to where I am now, which has apparently become a big ol’ unscalable wall.

I’m waiting for that one little spark of creativity to put things back in motion.  More importantly, trying to force it out will make its appearance even less likely, so I have to step back, take a deep breath and other kinds of relaxation cliches.

Regarding the DREAMSHIP rewrite, progress on that front has also been slow due to working a ton of split shifts (morning and afternoon drive), reading and commenting on scripts, a freelance project and the usual daily routine.  I used to shoot for 3 pages a day, which is a pretty good system, but lately I may have to alter that to an hour a day because it may be easier to acheive.

Part of my frustration also stems from wanting to be done. This is more of a ‘sense of accomplishment’ standpoint, rather than ‘I just want this to be over!’ one.  I know I’ll finish this eventually, but prefer it were sooner than later.

And now, return of the Movie of the Moment with still another double-hit. First, THE CRAZIES (2010), a horror about a small town in Iowa that gets hit with a virus that turns its victims into mindless killers.  Some good moments of suspense, not as much gore as I was expecting, and a female lead who can’t stop wandering into dangerous situations.  Nothing special.

Second, REAL STEEL (2011), or as some like to call it, ROCK ‘EM SOCK ‘EM ROBOTS: THE MOVIE. V was keen on seeing it, so we took in a matinee.  Basically, this is ROCKY with robots. It was fun and pretty predictable. I didn’t mind seeing it in the theatre, but wouldn’t have had a problem with watching it on Netflix.

While the special effects were high-quality, I was most impressed with the acting of Dakota Goyo as Hugh Jackman’s son.  The kid really holds his own.