Deterred? Me? Never!

Just...a little...farther...
Just…a little…farther…

And so another half-marathon has come and gone, along with my latest attempt to break the much-desired time of 1:55.

This time it was the SF WiPro on Sunday morning. There was a lot more uphill along the course than I expected, but I’m proud to say I didn’t stop on any of them.

End time: 1:57:28, for a pace of 8:58, which is actually pretty good for me. And taking all that uphill into consideration, it ain’t too shabby. It gives me confidence of how I could do on an entirely/mostly flat course.

Was I disappointed about still not hitting my personal best? Sure, but it’s in the past and now I can look ahead and get ready for my next race in August.  I’ll do my best for that one and see what happens. If I beat 1:55, great; if not, there’s yet another race in October.

For me, training for and running in these races is a lot like working on a script. I work at it when I can. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it isn’t. It’s a tremendous effort that takes a lot of dedication and commitment, and success does not come easily or quickly.  However, the payoff for when it does go well can be extremely gratifying.

Most importantly, no matter how hard things may seem, or how much I feel like giving up, I keep going.

Every single time I put myself out there, either for a race or a script competition, it’s a challenge to myself to do better than the last time. If I don’t get the results I’d hoped for, the next step is to figure out how I can improve.

I like to think I’ll eventually break 1:55, and my writing situation has been steadily improving, both in terms of skill and career development.

It’s been a long, tough effort, but my proverbial finish line is somewhere out there. It just takes a while to reach it.

-Movie of the Moment – ABRAHAM LINCOLN, VAMPIRE HUNTER (2012) It sucked.

So close I can taste it

Not my first choice for a celebratory meal

You know that feeling when you’ve been working on something for a very long time, and then you get to the last part? The little voice inside you saying, “Don’t stop! You’re almost there!”

That’s where I am with this edit/polish.

One scene remains to be rewritten. I did a lot of last-second rewriting throughout the whole thing over the past couple of days, but this one’s pretty important – wrapping up some minor subplots. It would be too easy to fall into the trap of putting too much into it, so this is going to take some planning.

It was a challenge to go through this as both writer and editor. Not only did I have to make sure everything was working in terms of the plot, story, character development, and that kind of thing, but also had to keep an eye out for spelling mistakes, overuse of prepositional phrases, repetitive dialogue, etc.  End result – leaner, tighter, faster-moving pages.  I hope.

Also nice – page total down 4 to 111, and I already know a few things here and there that could be taken out, or at least changed.  Part of that will also depend on the feedback and comments I get from the select few I’ll ask to read this latest draft. Count me among those who appreciate constructive criticism.

-Movie of the Moment – DARK SHADOWS (2012). Entertaining, but poorly written. Too much tell, not enough show. Lots of set-ups without payoffs, and vice versa. Characters disappear for 30+ minutes. Didn’t like the ending either.  Just because you like the guy who wrote PRIDE, PREJUDICE & ZOMBIES or ABRAHAM LINCOLN, VAMPIRE HUNTER doesn’t mean you should have him write your movie. Incidentally, the trailer for the latter made K laugh harder than anything in the movie we came to see.

I thought Johnny Depp did a pretty good job as Barnabas, but I wonder how he would do in a non-quirky role. (Although I am interested to see the forthcoming LONE RANGER, but not because of Depp).

Not necessarily something I was looking forward to, but glad I only paid $6 to see it. Also – way too many trailers!  Ben Affleck’s ARGO looks really good. Adam Sandler’s THAT’S MY BOY looks like total shit.

-If you’re in the Westwood area of Los Angeles this summer and want to get really serious about writing a screenplay, you can’t go wrong by clicking here.

If BUFFY had been on the History Channel…

I’ll have a LUCY progress update tomorrow.  I didn’t get to work on it over the weekend because there was a ton of hockey stuff for V, as well as the latest in my culinary repertoire of making a roasted eggplant soup with goat cheese dumplings, which ate up (no pun intended) most of my Presidents’ Day afternoon.  Suffice to say, I was wiped by day’s end.  It also didn’t help that the soup had to cool off before you could eat it, which is why we had Thai food.

But I did manage to finish the book, then the script of ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER, both by Seth Grahame-Smith, who also wrote the hit genre mash-up PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES.

I’ll start with the book. I’m a huge fan of US history, so I was looking forward to it.  K liked P&P&Z, but thought I would really enjoy this.  It starts out with an introduction told in first-person narrative, then shifts into a historical ‘record’.

It takes the concept of Lincoln having kept a journal of his vampire-hunting exploits, including how his mother was killed by one to pay a debt to a land-owner.  This is the trigger that sets up Abe’s lifetime goal: eliminate all vampires.  Clever.

It seems like Grahame-Smith started with Lincoln’s history and applied vampire elements where they would fit best, including his first love being killed by one, and the brilliant notion that vampires were the biggest supporters of slavery (and therefore the Confederacy as well).

It was a quick, easy read, and definitely would make for an entertaining movie.  I just had a few problems:

1. The cheesy-looking ‘photographs’.  Grahame-Smith even acknowledges a friend for her ‘Photoshop genius’.  I realize photography was in its infancy, but they just look silly.

2. The idea that John Wilkes Booth was a vampire himself.  Not bad, but doesn’t work for me.  I think it’s taking the vampire idea a little too far.

3.  A major character throughout the story is Henry Sturges, a vampire who helps Abe learn how to fight and defeat them (a self-imposed penance).  Henry is always offering Abe the chance to have someone he deeply loves be turned into a vampire; Abe always refuses. SPOILER ALERT!  The book ends in 1963, at Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech (in front of the Lincoln Memorial, of course), and Henry and Abe are there.  I didn’t like it.  It seems like a cop-out.

Personally, I think it would have been better to have Henry assisting other prominent figures as vampire hunters through history (Teddy Roosevelt, Charlie Chaplin and Elvis come to mind.  Admit it.  Elvis as a vampire hunter would absolutely kick ass.)

Now for the script, which was on last year’s Black List.  It takes almost the same approach.  It’s all told as history, but with a ton of Lincoln narrating in voiceover.  Maybe a little more than necessary.

It also does a bit of jumping around, chronologically, just to establish the Lincoln-vampire backstory/connection.  This is followed by some big sequences, including when Lincoln met Henry, Lincoln with Mary, and pretty much the latter half revolving around the Civil War.

What I found very interesting was that for the most part, the script started out very similarly to the book ( at least from a historical record point of view), then seemed to take a wild turn into flat-out action-adventure. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it came across as very in-your-face about it. “Hey, this is the exciting part, so pay attention!”

And since every story needs a bad guy, the idea of a ruling vampire is introduced.  I realize he’s the brains behind the vampire movement, but he doesn’t appear in that many scenes, so his role in the story isn’t as big as you would expect.

After the big showdown, it really speeds through to the end.  There’s only one scene regarding the assassination at Ford’s Theatre, and even that’s barely half a page, then it jumps ahead to 1965, with Henry and Lincoln side-by-side in Washington DC.  Again, I didn’t care for it.

It will be interesting to see what changes, if any, are made before this hits the big screen, which it appears it’s going to.

Tentatively scheduled for a June 2012 release, directed by NIGHTWATCH, DAYWATCH and WANTED’s Timur Bekmambetov, with Benjamin Walker as Abe.  I suspect this will be more popular on Netflix than in theatres.

I once again suggest that if this can be made into a feature film, then why not my idea of THE 3 STOOGES: UNDERCOVER G-MEN?

Movie of the Moment:  V’s afterschool is doing several dance numbers (none of which she’s involved in), including a Wizard of Oz storyline, which includes ‘Ease on Down the Road,” so we watched THE WIZ.

It was okay, but probably would have better to see the full-on Broadway version.

And you don’t know what difficult is until you try explaining 70’s black culture to a 21st-century child.