Thursday, February 28, 2008

On fires and asses, and one being under the other.

So the Serious Moonlighting theatre group in Prince George is staging a reading of "Dinner and Drinks" tomorrow night.

As I understand, a "reading" involves a bunch of theatre types gathering together in room, sitting around with a copy of the script, and, you know, reading it. Except reading it out loud. And sort of acting while they're reading it.

Given the structure of the play itself (a bunch of people sitting around in a restaurant talking to each other) , a reading of the play is pretty the show, easily 95% of the show. There will probably be less food involved. And the waitress character probably won't move around so much. So that'll be different, but other than that, people sitting around talking, yeah, that's the play, in a nutshell.

I would have loved to have day-tripped up to PG to watch the reading, just to have the opportunity to see a bunch of other actors reading these lines. I know how they sounded when read by the group of 7 actors that *I* had on stage for the show last year, but different actors have different instincts, and the initial reading instincts are often different from the way a performance is gradually shaped over the months of rehearsal. So watching a dry a reading of a bunch of different actors would have been cool. Unfortunately, my car isn't really in road-tripping shape. So I'll have to sit this one out.

Having this reading, though (and seeing myself referred to in an email as "Williams Lake Playwright, Todd Sullivan") has sort of reminded me that I should get off my ass and do some sort of something as a follow-up. I mean, I do have a variety of writing projects on the go at the moment, and I have sort of bounced from one to the other lately, depending on what particular project appealed to me, but this moment does make me think I should maybe focusing on a new play. If only because it's really only been a play that has allowed me to feel any sort of success as a writer, and because it would be kind of cool to follow up with another sort of success as a writer.

And it's a lot easier for me to actually get a play from having-been-written stage to actually-doing-something-with-it stage, thanks to my involvement in the local theatre here. In can bring a script to the executive, say, "Hey, I want to do do this script," and very likely get a thumbs-up approval on it, unless they really hate the script. Or really hate me. Which has happened before.

Novels, on the other hand, mean shopping the product around from publisher to publisher, editor to editor, until someone says, "Yeah, okay, we'll do that." And then they sit on the book for two years before it goes out, and when it finally gets into bookstores, maybe 10 copies get sold, and those are just from friends and family. Which is sort of a sad prospect.

The novel writing still calls, though, even if the odds of success are slim-to-none. And I *have* been picking, little bit by little bit, at "Epiphanies". Which makes me feel pretty good. Even if it's only been little bits of work done on it.

But still, there's plays to write. And even though my intention after "Epiphanies" was to go back to editing work on "Waiting for a Miracle" I should probably distract myself with a little work on a play. Something. I mean, I've got three or four to choose from at this point. I could even work on them all, bit by bit. That wouldn't be a bad idea at all.

In retrospect, I've got very little to say here. All this "I should be writing more" crap has found its way out quite a lot in the last few months. I guess the reading was just yet another reminder, and it seemed like a fine excuse to blog, when I'd sort of neglected this space this past week.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Best laid plans

So, like I intended, I sat down to spend time some on some technical work with the novel last night. However, unlike I intended, I decided that chopping the current chapter into two, in order to facilitate the chunks that were missed, wasn't the best approach. Because, as I sat down to it, I realized that what was missed didn't seem to be enough to justify a chapter.

So, instead, I decided to weave into the current chapter. This approach would actually allow me to accomplish a couple of different things.

First, it would allow me to get at what was missing -- essentially, at least one confrontation with a character that A) we needed to be reminded about; and B) needed to become at least slightly more threatening, as well as a scene where the main character and narrator gets fired (which is somewhat necessary to do what I plan to in the epilogue).

Second, by weaving this material into the current chapter, it will make the chapter even longer, and even more rambling, which was the intention for this chapter from the get go. I want to try to stretch out over twenty pages, jumping all over the place, without any sort of direction, and adding even more to it would help accomplish that, as the way it was originally sitting, I had given up on it before it crossed the 20 page mark.

Thirdly, it keeps me from breaking up the one-chapter-on, one-chapter-off pattern of the flashback scenes, which would have happened if I had only added a single chapter before the current one.

The only thing I'm not sure of is whether or not adding the material to the current chapter helps to fix what I was starting to fear was a pacing problem at the end of the book. Assuming there was a pacing problem. It was just sort of a gut feeling, and nothing I knew for sure -- and likely not something I'll know for sure until I finish it, leave it for awhile, and then go back to read it over again at some point in the future.

Of course, if that pacing problem *is* there, then it'll mean a pretty serious hack-and-slash edit job on the last third of the novel to fix it. But I'm going to go ahead with it this way anyway, for now. Because it's what seems right.

Novel work is on the agenda again for tonight, then I'll probably drift to something new tomorrow, just to keep things in my head fresh. It occurred to me last night that I should have a comedy of some kind on the go at the moment, for the days when I'm feeling, you know, funny, and not dark and gloomy. Which, lately, has seemed pretty unlikely, but I think I may be dusting off "Guts" just to be on the safe side.

Monday, February 18, 2008

On Writing

So, in the interest of trying to get more content in this space on the progress of my other writing projects, here's a little update.

After finally hacking out the annual Academy Awards predictions (late, though not quite as late as last year, if memory serves me correctly) it was early enough for me to jump from that onto a completely different project -- a one act play tentatively titled "One Act Play."

Basically, it's a play about a character in a play who, upon discovering that he's going to die at some point in the play that he's in, refuses to accept his fate, drags the playwright on stage, and the two of them end up in a heated discussion that ends up being about life, death, misery, happiness, and the relationship between a writer and his characters. It's sort of a crazy, brain-hurting, experiment in meta-writing that I may not ever see through to completion, but the idea first started jangling around in my head last week, and I figured I might as well try to put some of it down on paper, just to ensure I didn't completely forget it. I don't know specifics about where it's going to go at this point, just vague notions of their conversation, and the idea of the character stepping into and out of a variety fictional situations, conceived of by the playwright.

The only problem I see with this particularly project is that it's pretty much unstageable, as the playwright actually appears on stage, and I don't want it to just be an actor *playing* the part of the playwright. That's not really meta enough for me. It'd have to be me. Which means that we could conceivably put the play on stage here, but not anywhere else. Which is fine, because I wouldn't imagine anywhere else would have any interest in a pompous meta-theatre experiment like this. I'm not sure the local theatre would be interested in a pompous meta-theatre experiment like this either, come to think of it.

On the writing agenda for tonight: I'll hopefully be returning to "Epiphanies" at long last, for some mostly mechanical work -- specifically, splitting up the most recent chapter to facilitate the addition of the chapter I think I missed while I was speeding ahead towards the resolution. I don't foresee a lot of creative work tonight, but this mechanical work will have to be done at some point before I can press on with the novel. And I do want to press on with it.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

2008 Oscar Predictions

Looks like it's Oscar season again. And it looks like the writer's strike has come to a close in time to make sure that comedy writers in Hollywood would still be able to write some likely painful and awkwardly funny jokes for the ceremony. Because even hacks need to feed their family.

As has become a tradition for me, I'll be predicting the Oscars. And, as is generally the case, I'll be making these predictions without any effort to see any of the films in the list. Because it's a whole lot more fun to be judgmental when you don't have any idea what you're talking about. Obviously, I won't be able to forget the films that I've already seen, and I won't be able to completely ignore the buzz I've heard about other films, but all in all, I think I'm going into this just as unprepared as usual.

The two big nominees this year are Paul Thomas Anderson's "There Will Be Blood" and the Coen Brothers' "No Country For Old Men," which makes this sort of an interesting year for me, as I'm enormous fan of both filmmakers. I'll be in a tough position, though, as I'm a bigger fan of Anderson, but have not yet seen "Blood" yet, so there's a very good chance I'll be tipping my hat in his direction perhaps more often than I should.

Still, we'll find out come Feb. 24, when the winners are announced.

And now, without further fucking around, my Academy Award predictions, fresh from being yanked out of my ass.

Best Foreign Language Film
  • Beaufort (Israel), in Hebrew
  • The Counterfeiters (Austria), German
  • Katyń (Poland), Polish
  • Mongol (Kazakhstan), Mongolian
  • 12 (Russia), Russian

My Pick: 12 (Russia), Russian

Justification: We don't get too many foreign films around these parts, so obviously I haven't seen any of these. Also, unless you're a seriously major film geek (or a foreign film got a surprising amount of buzz) you don't hear too much about the foreign nominees, which means very little buzz to go. So I'm picking "12" just because I think the title is cool.

Best Visual Effects
  • The Golden Compass
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
  • Transformers

My Pick: Transformers

Justification: I can't believe I actually sat through this entire movie. It made my head hurt from about twenty minutes in, and it never let up. The characters where two dimensional, I didn't give a rat's ass about any one of them, and the dialogue was cringe-worthy. But the one thing you can't take away from the film is that it's visual effects were astounding. And pretty much the only thing that made the movie worth watching. Here's hoping the sequel does us all a favour and gives us more giant-robot fist-fights and less "story" -- or whatever the fuck they want to call the crap going on between the giant-robot fist-fights.

Best Sound Editing
  • Karen Baker Landers and Per Hallberg - The Bourne Ultimatum
  • Skip Lievsay - No Country for Old Men
  • Randy Thom and Michael Silvers - Ratatouille
  • Matthew Wood - There Will Be Blood
  • Ethan van Der Ryn and Mike Hopkins - Transformers

My Pick: Transformers

Justification: I'm still not entirely sure of the difference between the sound editing and sound mixing categories. Maybe if one of them was sound *design* I'd be able to figure out, but it's not. So I just...I don't know. All I know is that a bunch of giant robots beating the crap out of each other makes for a lot of sounds going on, so I'm picking "Transformers."

Best Sound Mixing
  • Scott Millan, David Parker, and Kirk Francis - The Bourne Ultimatum
  • Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff, and Peter Kurland - No Country for Old Men
  • Randy Thom, Michael Semanick, and Doc Kane - Ratatouille
  • Paul Massey, David Giammarco, and Jim Steube - 3:10 to Yuma
  • Kevin O'Connell, Greg P. Russell, and Peter J. Devlin - Transformers

My Pick: 3:10 to Yuma

Justification: Pretty much just because I've heard good things about it, so I thought I'd throw them a bone, you know.

Best Live Action Short
  • At Night
  • The Substitute
  • The Mozart of Pickpockets
  • Tanghi Argentini
  • The Tonto Woman

My Pick: The Mozart of Pickpockets

Justification: Pretty much just the title again. But, I mean, could you imagine what the Mozart of Pickpockets would actually be like? I mean, imagine how nimble his fingers would be, as deft and dextrous as a piano-player's I'm sure. Also, he'd probably be really good. At pickpocketing.

Best Animated Short
  • I Met the Walrus
  • Madame Tutli-Putli
  • Even Pigeons Go To Heaven
  • My Love
  • Peter and the Wolf

My Pick: Madame Tutli Putli

Justification: Are any of these Pixar shorts? Because if any of these are from Pixar, that's my pick. Unfortunately, I have no idea if any of these are from Pixar, and I'm not allowed to look shit up on this, so I'm picking "Madame Tutli-Putli" because the name makes me giggle.

Best Original Song
  • Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova - "Falling Slowly" from Once
  • Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz - "Happy Working Song" from Enchanted
  • Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz - "So Close" from Enchanted
  • Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz - "That's How You Know" from Enchanted
  • Jamal Joseph, Charles Mack and Tevin Thomas - "Raise It Up" from August Rush

My Pick: "Falling Slowly" from Once

Justification: Apparently "Enchanted" has a 3/5 chance of taking this category, so they'd be the smart bet. The only problem is, I'm not currently placing the name, and I heard that "Once" was sort of pretty good, so I'm throwing them a bone too.

Best Original Score
  • Dario Marianelli - Atonement
  • Alberto Iglesias - The Kite Runner
  • James Newton Howard - Michael Clayton
  • Michael Giacchino - Ratatouille
  • Marco Beltrami - 3:10 to Yuma

My Pick: The Kite Runner

Justification: This movie (and the book it was adapted from) came up in conversation a few weeks ago, even though I'd never heard about it. Apparently it has something to do with the history of strife in Afghanistan, which means it'll probably have a powerful, poignant score. Or that's what I'm hoping, at any rate.

Best Makeup
  • Didier Lavergne and Jan Archibald - La Vie en Rose
  • Rick Baker and Kazuhiro Tsuji - Norbit
  • Ve Neill and Martin Samuel - Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

My Pick: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

Justification: Rick Baker has a long and respected makeup portfolio...but, come on, "Norbit"? Fucking "Norbit"? You can't be serious. I refuse to even acknowledge that it was nominated. So PotC it is, then. Even if I can't even begin to tell what was makeup and what was CGI in that flick.

Best Film Editing
  • Christopher Rouse - The Bourne Ultimatum
  • Juliette Welfling - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
  • Jay Cassidy - Into the Wild
  • Roderick Jaynes - No Country for Old Men
  • Dylan Tichenor - There Will Be Blood

My Pick: No Country for Old Men

Justification: Alright, we're finally starting to get to some of the interesting ones now, even if editing might be tough to call. Are they looking for the flashy, 10-cuts-a-second kind of editing? Are they looking for the subtle sort of editing you can barely tell is there? Are they looking for complicated, dramatic cuts? Who the fuck knows. But I'm going to go with "No Country for Old Men," mostly because I've seen it, and it was pretty well edited.

Best Documentary Short
  • Freeheld
  • La Corona
  • Salim Baba
  • Sari's Mother

My Pick: Sari's Mother

Justification: No idea what it's about, but if it involves a mother, and it's a documentary, it probably is supposed to make you cry about something. Which is as good a reason as any for it to win.

Best Documentary Feature
  • No End in Sight
  • Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience
  • Sicko
  • Taxi to the Dark Side
  • War/Dance

My Pick: No End in Sight

Justification: Yeah, I know, Michael Moore is, like, the patron saint of this category these last few years, but I'm going to go against his health-system documentary and pick what I think (and hope) is a film about the war in Iraq, which is an issue for more on peoples minds at the moment. Especially amongst liberal Hollywood types.

Best Costume Design
  • Albert Wolsky - Across the Universe
  • Jacqueline Durran - Atonement
  • Alexandra Byrne - Elizabeth: The Golden Age
  • Marit Allen - La Vie en Rose
  • Colleen Atwood - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

My Pick: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Justification: Haven't seen it, haven't even checked out a single trailer, but from the poster design (which is about all I can judge it from) it looks like it's sort of dark, stylized, period costuming, which is hopefully enough adjectives to get it the statue. And by hope, I don't mean that I'm hoping the film wins for the film's sake -- I couldn't give a shit about the film. I'd just prefer to be right about my prediction.

Best Art Direction
  • Arthur Max and Beth Rubino - American Gangster
  • Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer - Atonement
  • Dennis Gassner and Anna Pinnock - The Golden Compass
  • Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
  • Jack Fisk and Jim Erickson - There Will Be Blood

My Pick: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Justification: Pretty much the same as last time -- dark, stylized, and period.

Best Cinematography
  • Roger Deakins - The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
  • Seamus McGarvey - Atonement
  • Janusz Kaminski - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
  • Roger Deakins - No Country for Old Men
  • Robert Elswit - There Will Be Blood

My Pick: There Will Be Blood

Justification: Okay, I'm just gonna come right out and say this. I love Paul Thomas Anderson. I mean, sure, I love his films too. But I seriously love that *man* as well. At least in interviews and documentaries and stuff. I don't know what he's really like, I've never met him, but when he's being interviewed, he's just so manic and animated. And he's really super cute and smart too. So I'm going to dropping a whole lot of predictions on "Blood" from here on out, I think. Even though I haven't seen the film yet. I hope it deserves them.

Best Animated Feature
  • Persepolis
  • Ratatouille
  • Surf's Up

My Pick: Ratatouille

Justifcation: It's Pixar, right? Isn't it? I don't know, honestly, but a bunch of people talked about it, so yeah, it'll win. Because people talked about it.

Best Adapted Screenplay
  • Atonement
  • Away from Her
  • The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
  • No Country for Old Men
  • There Will Be Blood

My Pick: No Country for Old Men

Justification: It's tough call, actually, as my gut says it could go to "Diving Bell." But so much has been said -- and almost all of it good -- about how effectively the Coens adapted "No Country" that I can't help but put my prediction there.

Best Original Screenplay
  • Juno - Diablo Cody
  • Lars and the Real Girl - Nancy Oliver
  • Michael Clayton - Tony Gilroy
  • Ratatouille - Brad Bird
  • The Savages - Tamara Jenkins

My Pick: Juno

Justification: Juno has recently gotten labelled as this year's "Little Miss Sunshine" -- which is basically another way of calling it "The Little Indie That Could" (even though its indie status is somewhat debatable). I don't see it pulling in any major awards, so it'll likely take this one. Also, it's about a complicated and controversial topic that totally hasn't ever shown up as part of some crappy ABC after-school special: Teen pregnancy.

Best Supporting Actress
  • Cate Blanchett - I'm Not There
  • Ruby Dee - American Gangster
  • Saoirse Ronan - Atonement
  • Amy Ryan - Gone Baby Gone
  • Tilda Swinton - Michael Clayton

My Pick: Cate Blanchett

Justification: Cate Blanchett *IS* Bob Dylan.

Best Supporting Actor
  • Casey Affleck - The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
  • Javier Bardem - No Country for Old Men
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman - Charlie Wilson's War
  • Hal Holbrook - Into the Wild
  • Tom Wilkinson - Michael Clayton

My Pick: Javier Bardem

Justification: Dude was creepy as fuck. Also, that hair.

Best Actress
  • Cate Blanchett - Elizabeth: The Golden Age
  • Julie Christie - Away from Her
  • Marion Cotillard - La Vie en Rose (La môme)
  • Laura Linney - The Savages
  • Ellen Page - Juno

My Pick: Ellen Page

Justification: Well, they're sure not going to give Cate Blanchette TWO awards. And didn't she already win an Oscar for playing Elizabeth, like, ten years ago or something? So that would be weird, to have two awards to the same actor for the same character. So I'm thinking, maybe Juno gets a little extra lovin' over here. You never know.

Best Actor
  • George Clooney - Michael Clayton
  • Daniel Day-Lewis - There Will Be Blood
  • Johnny Depp - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
  • Tommy Lee Jones - In the Valley of Elah
  • Viggo Mortensen - Eastern Promises

My Pick: Daniel Day-Lewis

Justification: I haven't seen it, but apparently if you have seen it, and you don't think that Day-Lewis is an absolute shoe-in for this, then you're a crackhead. And a stupid whore. A stupid crackwhore. And Hitler. Also, I love Paul Thomas Anderson.

Best Director*
  • Paul Thomas Anderson - There Will Be Blood
  • Joel Coen and Ethan Coen - No Country for Old Men
  • Tony Gilroy - Michael Clayton
  • Jason Reitman - Juno
  • Julian Schnabel - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

My Pick: There Will Be Blood

Justification: I love Paul Thomas Anderson.

Best Picture*
  • Atonement
  • Juno
  • Michael Clayton
  • No Country for Old Men
  • There Will Be Blood

My Pick: There Will Be Blood

Justification: I love...okay, seriously, do I need to keep saying this?

Alright, that's all of 'em, at least according to Wikipedia (and we all know how trustworthy Wikipedia is, don't we?). I'll be back sometime after Feb. 24 to analyze the winners and beat the crap out of myself for all the picks I got wrong, plus a fair share of gloating for the picks I got right. See you all then!

*In my heart, I'm actually pretty sure that the Best Picture and Best Director wins have a better chance of going to "No Country For Old Men" as that picture is getting significantly more buzz from the critics than "Blood" is -- I'm just going out on a limb because I'm hoping to see some love for Mr. Anderson. I LOVE YOU PAUL!

Those who forget the past are condemned to probably be a lot happier

I've been reading through old blog posts lately. Not sure why. But I want all the way back to day one and started reading (and occasionally skimming) through the whole archive. And it's...well, it's interesting, to say the very least.

A lot of is a like sitting down and flipping through a photo album, except I can't do that sort of thing, because I don't usually take pictures, and when I do, they don't end up in a photo album. But that sort stroll down memory lane is a bit like what reading blog posts from 2004 and 2005 and 2006 are like.

Sometimes all it takes is one post to drop into a mindset that I had three or four years ago. And I go, "Wow, I had almost completely forgotten about that." Sometimes I'll read something that had made me angry or depressed me, and it's written in a secretive, veiled way, so as to not potentially hurt the feelings of others involved, and I'll find myself thinking, "Wow, I don't remember what I was talking about at all."

Sometimes memory escapes us, and it's gone forever. And I'm inclined to think that sometimes that's a good thing.

I read through some very painful blog posts from around 2005 and 2006, and it just about broke my heart to have to live those moments again, if not in my own shoes, than at least in the shoes of someone nearby who had seen it all, and had known it all, and had known how it was all going to turn out.

Sometimes forgetting really is better. And sometimes loving and losing isn't all it's cracked up to be, despite what some shit-for-brains philosophers might try to tell you.

The one thing that I did find interesting were the occasional references to things that I was writing at those various points in my past. Some of them like "Dinner and Drinks" that was first mentioned in 2005, eventually went on to completion. Others were just quick references to things I can't even recall anymore. Stories that had disintegrated before they'd even made much of an impact on the paper I was putting them on.

But it got me thinking...wouldn't it be cool to be able to dig out more of those moments? To have a better record of the ideas as they come to me, as they expand, as they shift and change and either vanish or struggle their way to completion? Yes, that would be cool.

Which is why I'm going to put this here.

There's a story...or maybe it's a play, I'm still not sure yet...called "The Stain." It's about a stain that someone discovers on his carpet, except he doesn't know where it came from. Or, at least, he says he doesn't know where it came from. And as he talks to his therapist about his concerns about this stain, he gradually starts to drift towards the truth. And this stain, I think, may have something to do with rape. And not just any rape, but one of the most agonizingly awful rapes imaginable.

I'm not completely sure, but it could go that way.

Because what's the point of putting it down if it's not going to be something agonizing and awful. Whether it's a rape or a heartbreak. Whether it's fiction or it's real. Agonizingly awful is where I live. Or where I should be living. I'd probably be there a whole lot more if the decor didn't suck so goddamn much.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Obligitory, bitter, post-Valentine's Day rambings

You love her
But she loves him
And he loves somebody else
You just can't win
And so it goes
Till the day you die
This thing they call love
It's gonna make you cry
I've had the blues
The reds and the pinks
One thing for sure

Love stinks

— Love Stinks
J. Geils Band

When I got married, our Master of Ceremonies made a bit of a flub during one of his speeches. Now, consider, that this man was not only a journalist, but a theatre-junky as well, which means A) He should know the importance of proper word use; and B) He should be comfortable in front of a room full of people, and not mangle his words because he's nervous.

He was talking about marital advice, and how he had once heard that, to live happily ever after, don't marry someone you can live with. Instead, and this is what he said, "Marry someone you can live without."

Which, when you think about it, is pretty poor marriage advice.

I think he meant to say, "Marry someone you can't live without," because that seems to make a bit more sense, and a better punchline for that statement. But in the last couple of days I've been thinking about this line, and this flub, and about the people you can't live without, and the people you can't live with, and how sometimes, because life is cruel and God hates us all, they're the same person.

I'm sure we all have some first-hand experience with the idea that love will turn up whenever it wants to. You don't get to call on it. You don't get to say, "Hey, love, that hot chick on the other side of the bar with the killer cleavage, you totally need to make me fall in love with her." You can maybe fall in lust with her, you can maybe even approach her and pick her up and have a few weeks of psychotic, sweaty, drunken sex. But when all that's said and done, you might have fallen in love, or you might have discovered that she chews her celery sticks way too loud and you can't stand sitting a the dinner table with her. And given the way things usually go, it'll probably be the latter.

I've done my share of falling in love, and done my share of getting my heart busted up because of it. I'm mostly okay with that, because that's that's just sort of what happens in life. You have some good times, you have some bad times, and at the end of the day or the end of the year or the end of your life, there's a balance.

But even though I can say that I'm okay with the whole love-and-then-heartbreak thing, I also need to say that I think I've pretty much given up on it anyway. Again, not because I'm tired of the heartbreak -- I mean, shit happens. It's because I'm pretty sure I've met the woman I can't live without. And now I'm living without her.

This might seem like a contradiction. I guess it is. I have an easier time with it because, while she might be the person I can't live without, she's also someone I most certainly can't live with it. And it's one of those situations where love, because life is cruel and God hates you, points you in the direction of someone who is just totally, completely wrong for you.

And it doesn't matter how much you admit that to yourself. It doesn't matter how much you say, "If we ever lived together, we'd probably kill each other within in three months." It doesn't matter how much you say, "We just don't have those many things in common." It doesn't matter how much you say, "She has horrible taste in movies and she's too driven by wealth and success and she doesn't even seem capable of understanding the attempt towards art." It doesn't matter how many times you say any of those things, because you're madly in love with her, and you can't do anything about that.

Because life is cruel and God hates you.

This idea -- being in love with someone who is just totally, completely bad for you -- beat the shit out of me emotionally for a very long time. And it still shows up now and then to give me a good solid punch in the kidney. Because it's such a contradictory idea. It tears your brain up. It drives you mad. It makes you wish that you were dead...or at least cold, heartless, cruel, and incapable of love. Or drunk.

But that's the way it goes sometimes. Life is cruel. And yeah, God probably hates you.

And you can't do anything about life's cruelty or God's hatred, so you soldier on. You say, "Meh, fuck it," and you try to forget about it, and even while you forget about it, you have to concede that you might as well give up on that whole stupid love thing at the same time. Because you've already done it -- you've already found the person you can't live without. But goddamn if you can live with her either.

The idea of not falling in love sounds bad, I guess, to some of the idealized romantic types, but it really isn't. It's surprisingly comfortable. Surprisingly safe. And it isn't even so much that you're running from the pain. The pain, broken hearts, crap like that, it isn't so bad. It's all part of the balance of life. All you're really saying is, "Been there, done that, found about the best I'm ever going to, and that didn't work out so well. Might as well call it a day."

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Commentary Commentary: Trainspotting

So it turns out that this week's commentary isn't from a film as old as I'd like (it's a 90s flick, but let's not pretend that's old) but I blame that partly on the recent realization that, in spite of my fondness for many films of the1970s, there aren't too many of them on my DVD shelf at the moment. Perhaps that something I should be adding to my list of things to do in 2008 -- expand the eras covered in my film collection.

The Trainspotting 2-disc "Collector's Series" set features two commentaries, one with director Danny Boyle, and one featuring Boyle, screenwriter John Hodge, producer Andrew Macdonald, and actor Ewan McGregor. In the interest of attempting to ensure there was never a dull moment, we opted to go with the track involving more people.

Which, it turns out, is actually not a commentary track per se.

Most commentary tracks involve people sitting in front of a television, watching the film, and talking about the film as they watch it, so that they are commenting directly about what is currently on the screen. This almost gives the experience that you are sharing the room with these people, as they reminisce about the process of making the film. Trainspotting's commentary (which, apparently, was borrowed from the Criterion Collection Laserdisc of the film) is actually taken from a series of interviews conducted in 1996, and edited together in a way that gives the impression that they are, sort of, talking about what you're seeing on the screen. Even if they aren't.

Because of this format, while the track does provide insight and information on just about any and every phase of the production -- from finding the novel, to adapting the novel, to making the movie, to reactions to the movie -- it sounds, for the most part, like four people who aren't in the same room together. When one person is talking, one person talks until his train of thought is done, and then someone else talks for awhile about something different and not entirely related to what the previous person had been talking about.

Which is fine, I guess, as far as its ability to convey information to listener. The problem is that it's terribly fun.

One of the best parts of group commentaries is listening to the interaction *between* the participants in the commentary. Hearing them laugh together as they reminisce, hearing them occasionally talk over one another as one person starts a story and another finishes it, hearing them ask each other question. The Trainspotting commentary, for all the information it provides, is painfully dry. It could have, and probably should have, been a lot more interesting. I don't place the blame on Criterion, who originally put the commentary together for the laserdisc at a time when commentary tracks were a new thing, a time when they were likely still figuring out exactly what a commentary track should be. And I can't entirely blame those who put together this new DVD collection either, as they simply might have been unable to pull the original participants together for a brand new commentary. In fact, it may very well be that there is no one to blame here at all, but in the spirit of the film, I'll blame heroin.

Because, you know, drugs are bad.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Commentary Commentary: Fight Club

So there was no new commentary track this week (I was distracted by a sudden addiction to "Heroes" after my roommate plugged his portable hard-drive containing the first and second seasons into my Xbox), which is sort of good, as I'm a little bit behind in writing about the commentary tracks in general, so I've got a (brief) opportunity to get myself caught back up again.

So, *last* week's commentary track was on the film Fight Club, one of my favourite movies, and, I think, the best movie about the feelings of meaninglessness that were such a part of the 90s, as well as the frustration those feelings bred. It's not the best film of the 90s (for my money, that's Paul Thomas Anderson's "Magnolia"), but, I think, definitely the best film *about* the 90s.

In my ever-not-so-humble-opinion.

This viewing of Fight Club's commentary followed the previous week's theme of listening to writers talk about their work. We skipped the director and cast commentaries and spent two hours with the novelist and screenwriter for the film.

And it was...well, less than compelling, to say the least.

Chuck Palahniuk, the author of Fight Club (and a hell of a novelist) is clearly excited by the opportunity to talk about his book, about the adaption, and about the film. And would wouldn't be? It has to be overwhelmingly exciting for any novelist to have a book made into a film for the first time. And to have it turn out as brilliantly as "Fight Club" would be an even better experience.

Unfortunately, all of Palahniuk's efforts to spark up conversations with screenwriter Jim Uhls are just words bouncing off the man like a tennis ball bouncing off a brick wall. Uhls simply doesn't want to talk. And when he does break the silence, it's generally to praise a particular moment from his own screenplay. He has almost nothing positive to say about other facets of the film, or about the novel the film was adapted from, and you almost get the sense that the man is frustrated novelist only working in Hollywood to pay the bills, and frustratingly jealous of the success that Palahniuk has had as a novelist.

Or maybe he's just not the talkative type. Though dropping someone like that into a commentary track is, perhaps, not the best idea.

It's unfortunate, as I think a commentary track with Pahlaniuk and someone more conversational would be interesting. The man's a great writer, and giving him the opportunity to talk about the changes from the book to the film, the things he didn't like, the things he did, would be an interesting few hours. It's just that these few hours spent with "Fight Club" weren't those interesting few hours.

Maybe next time.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Writing when it's not-writing

God, it's tough sometimes to make yourself write something, when what you're going to write isn't what you want to write, and what you want to write isn't going to get written because you put it off for too long and now it's too late to get started on it. But you feel like you need to write something anyway, because you're trying to do more of that, that writing, even if all you're going to end up writing about how much a pain in the ass it is to write when you're writing something that you don't much want to write.

Which is what this is.

So, seriously, if you want to skip this, I won't blame you. Hard to convince you to read something I don't really much want to be writing in the first place.

But here it is anyway.

I should be working on a short film script I've promised some teenagers to cobble together for them, but it's too late to really get the ball rolling on it, because I know it'll take awhile for the ball to reach a decent speed, and by then I'll be all energized from the act of creation and I won't be able to sleep. And I have enough trouble with that already.

I should also be putting some working into an old story idea that got some new material today, or a brand spanking new idea that started rattling around in my head on the drive home.

Of course, I should also be putting some work into the almost-but-not-quite finished novel, because, seriously, I need to get that fucking monster out of the way before I can really make any progress with anything else.

Oh, and there was an editorial I really wanted to try to write for this week's newspaper. That didn't pan out so well either.

Where does the time go?

How can I have the best of intentions for all this writing, and then watch as whole days just whoosh by me without anything getting done? How does that happen?

I didn't even lose the evening to video games today. Sure, I played for a bit, maybe 90 minutes, but that's hardly anything.

90 minutes.

That's shorter than some movies.

That's less than half the running time The Godfather.

It's nothing.

But still, nothing done today. No progress made on any number of projects. What the hell?