Cowboys and soldiers are MY kind of crap

Through some miracle unbeknownst to me, my Adobe reader at work was up and running, so I was able to read through Patrick Sweeney’s GHOST TRAIN.  Due to time constraints, I got halfway through, then finished it at home.  I want to read it again because I’ve got some questions that a second read may answer.  Comments will be posted Monday.

In the meantime…

K is out of town for the week, so while it may mean the usual readjusting of child care and a slightly different menu (my dishes tend to run simpler when it’s just me and V), it also means I tear through the stuff I put on Netflix I know she won’t watch.

Which usually means westerns, WWII flicks and cheesy recent releases.  Not so much of the first two categories this week, but some of the stuff I’ll be watching over the next few days includes: GI JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA (which looks really, really stupid, but I can’t help myself), THE LOSERS (mixed reviews), and THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (I read the book, but don’t have any desire to see the upcoming American remake).

I regret not being able to do much with LUCY this weekend, but this whole parenting thing is quite time-consuming.

Speaking of which, V got HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON for Hanukkah.  She loved it when we saw it in the theatres, but I think I’m more interested in watching it again than she is.  Which is okay.

She’s really into Miyazaki films lately.  HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE. KIKI’S DELIVERY SERVICE.  She wants to see MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO.  Tonight’s feature is CASTLE IN THE SKY.  I saw it when she was really little, but don’t mind having it in the house again.

I don’t know which is more fun to watch.  The movies or her reaction to watching them.

Someday she may even want to watch STEAMBOY, which is just wicked cool.  It was made by Katsuhiro Otomo, the same guy who did AKIRA.  While AKIRA is cool to look at, the story just gets too confusing.  At least for me.

What’s playing at your place?

Title? We don’t need no stinkin’ title!

Okay.  I’m back from a rousing hockey tournament at Lake Tahoe, where V’s team came in 3rd out of 6, including their 2 wins with her in goal.  In fact, she was awarded the MVP puck for their 8-1 victory on Saturday night.  Overall, it was very exciting.  Cold, but exciting.

Just before we left, I was introduced to, a screenwriting review/forum website (Kevin Spacey is one of the founders). Part of the way they work is having members review other members’ scripts.  I haven’t submitted anything yet, but plan to in the near future.

But it was the forum that especially intrigued me.  I decided to take the plunge and posted a question about my logline for LUCY.  I did that on Thursday afternoon.  By the evening, I had a few responses and something like 75 views.  What’s cool about the set-up is that you can opt to get an email notification that somebody’s responded to your post.  A lot of the drive up to Tahoe was spent checking them out.

I have to say I got some really good feedback, and even better, got what I feel is a stronger logline for the story.  I thought about posting that 3 Stooges one just to see what people think, but I’ll hold off for a little while.

Speaking of which, I sent in the old LUCY logline and the 3 Stooges one to the logline contest.  Neither one won, but honestly, I don’t really think that much of some recent winners.  I may try again with the new LUCY one.  It’s a wait-and-see situation.

-As much as I thought/hoped it might happen this weekend, I didn’t get a lot of work done on the outline.

So now that I’ve got an outline I like much better, I felt I had to start over with it, albeit with a few minor changes.  But as I was looking it over, there didn’t seem to be much I thought had to come out.  There are still a few places where I may have to make some slight readjustments, but it may not be as daunting a project as I originally thought.

And I may have stumbled onto a solution for moving the story along.  All I have to do now is figure out how to incorporate it into the story. Which I think I can do

Movie of the Moment:  A few to go over. First the original BAD NEWS BEARS. The other girl on V’s hockey team owns this, and we watched it on Saturday afternoon.  Watching it now as a parent is a lot different than when I was a lot closer to the age of a lot of the cast.  It was really weird watching Walter Matthau, especially since I’ve seen more of his work in recent years.

But the story and the writing still hold up.  Some good jokes sprinkled around here and there, but more would have been nice.  It’s also really weird to have a PG movie from the mid-70s have so much mild cursing in it.  From a writing point of view, the character development is strictly textbook, but effective.  What was also clever was that only a handful of scenes are set inside; a majority are set at the ball field.  And you get to know almost all of the kids on the team; just a handful don’t serve much purpose.  I know they made a remake with Billy Bob Thornton a few years ago, but I don’t see the point.

The other movie was LOST IN SPACE, only because it was on TV today while I was working.  I saw this in the theater back in 1998, and enjoyed it.  Not a lot, but worth the $6 for the matinee.  Incidentally, this would be a great choice for the Filmsack guys.

But looking at it today, it really drags in some places and the dialogue doesn’t really do much for me.  I still don’t understand why they didn’t just kill Gary Oldman’s Dr Smith.  He tried to sabotage their mission and they still let him live?  Ridiculous.  And don’t get me started on the cgi monkey alien.  Lame.

Akiva Goldsman, who wrote it (as well as BATMAN & ROBIN, but also A BEAUTIFUL MIND – go figure), has become more of a producer and has thankfully let his writing career diminish.  While I love the concept of the movie, this one just felt forced and could have been a little shorter.  Still, to me it’s one of the slightly better 60s-TV-show-based films, as opposed to that big ol’ chunk of cinematic Velveeta known as WILD WILD WEST.

Now just try to get that gigantic steampunk spider-tank out of your mind.

You’re welcome.

Is this uphill climb getting steeper?

So I got to around page 22 or so today on the outline.  It’s slightly different than the previous version, but something still seems…off.  I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but it’s like you know there’s something important you have to do, but can’t remember what.

I still like the way the story is developing, but since I’m essentially eliminating one of the subplots (for now), it makes moving ahead a bit harder.

I also seem to keep going back to the previous draft, and that may not be helping.  Especially since that’s what I’m trying to move away from.  That may become more evident as this draft advances.

It also doesn’t help that I’m not plotting ahead enough, so to speak.  I don’t like just taking a stab in the dark and seeing what could work.  I really need to figure out where things are going and how to get there.  I already developed the plot points, and now need to fill in the blanks between them.

Surprisingly, the only version of the previous draft I have is a hard copy from about 2 months ago.  This was the super-detailed one, where each scene breakdown was about 4-5 sentences long.  Even though I won’t be using all of them, some of them I had completely forgotten about, so seeing all that detail and characterization was quite the pleasant surprise.

And even better, I may be able to salvage some of those for this latest draft.  Which would be cool.

V has a hockey tournament up at Lake Tahoe this weekend, so what I’m hoping is that during some of the downtime, I’m able to make some good progress.  Because Lord knows, I don’t plan on being outside if I can help it. A high of 30 degrees?  Are you kidding?

As long as I come home with all my extremities intact and functional, I’ll be fine.

A step back, but that’s good

Making good progress on the outline.  Up to just past page 45.

But my creativeness keeps nagging me to expand on the third of three subplots, which I need to do anyway.  It really needs the most work.

I went through what I have so far (as part of my standard condensing of each scene into 1-2 sentences) and realized I’d forgotten that while I want both bad guys to be bad, the first one needs to be REALLY bad.  Even better, they’re so much more fun to write.

So for the time being, progress beyond the halfway point is on hold while I reconfigure the story to accomodate the changes I want to make.

Can’t explain it, but I relish the challenge.  Very much so.

Movie of the Moment: A double hit covering the past few days. Watched CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS with V.  I liked it a lot; clever, good animation and jokes, and good writing.  In her usual way, V didn’t want to watch it, but then really got into it.  This happens a lot with her.  Someday she’ll just accept the fact that I won’t let her watch crap (the exception being the live-action LAST AIRBENDER – that was HER idea).

The other film was THE BOOK OF ELI.  I almost turned it off after the first 20 minutes because nothing really seemed to be happening, and the washed-out look got annoying.  But I gave it a chance.  It got better, and had a really great twist at the end.  Still hard to imagine Denzel Washington as an action star, but he did a pretty good job.

Leaps and bounds!

Apparently not being able to work while AT work has its benefits.  Or at least work on MY stuff.

V had a hockey game yesterday morning (which they won 6-0, including a killer performance by their amazing goalie), but there was a lot of downtime before the puck dropped, so I made the most of it by once again barreling my way through the latest part of LUCY’s Act Two.

Once I abandoned the Mormon wagon train idea, things really seemed to take off.  I got our heroes into a new situation, while figuring out how to have everything work towards the latest plotpoint of the Page 45 twist.

And it worked.  So much so that I was able to have more things happen BEYOND that, and I’ve even started working on a way to bring not only one bad guy, but BOTH into the situation, so everything culminates in a wonderfully big mash-up at the halfway point.  Goosebumps, I tell ya!

Honestly, I’m really happy with the way things are progressing.  Of course, I have no idea where I’ll be in the story, say, a week or two from now, or what will be happening in the story, but that’s the point of this outline.  Figure out what works, what doesn’t, and what might.

I also keep reminding myself that there’s still a long way to go, but oh, what a hell of a journey it’s turning into.

Movie of the Moment: I took V and her best friend to see TANGLED yesterday.  Really impressive, but I think the adults in the audience liked it more than the kids did.  We don’t have issues with all that kissy-lovey stuff.

And I couldn’t help but look at it from the writer’s point of view.  Some textbook stuff here and there, but the writer, Dan Fogelman, who’s written a few other Disney films, is well-known for being somebody who can really make you FEEL for the characters (at least according to Carson Reeves at Scriptshadow).  I thought he did a great job.

And even better, V has no desire whatsoever to see the horrendous-looking YOGI BEAR.  We’s raising that child right.