Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas is coming!

And we're getting the hell out of Dodge!

(Or Seattle, rather)

This blog will take a temporary holiday as I stuff my face some more.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

On a personal note...

It’s the holidays so once again its time for…

Stuffing your face.

With all manner of unhealthy things…like booze, cheese, nuts, cookies, brownies, booze, eggnog, cake, pie, booze, turkey, ham, booze, cranberries, booze and more booze.

So here’s the thing…

This August I committed myself to working out on a more regular basis and started eating not just healthy but to “maximize my performance”. It was a little intense, actually, going from one day a week max to six days a week, cardio & weights. I wanted to get in shape and lose some weight. I ran. I did the elliptical trainer. I pumped iron. I started talking with an Austrian accent (okay, not really).

And I did get in shape. In fact, I even ran a mile in under 8 minutes, which for me, was pretty damn impressive seeing as how back in August it was tough just to finish running a mile at all.

So I was in shape. But my weight stayed exactly the same.

Okay, I lost, like six pounds. Finally, after over three months or so…

Six pounds.

Most days in September and October I got on the scale, saw that I was the exact same weight as the month before, and exclaimed “what the f--!”

(I still say that now.)

This holiday season my workout schedule has suffered. I’m lucky if I go jogging just one day a week. I’ve also been eating like crazy. Working in an office you get access to all sorts of free lunch, cookies, candy, brownies, etc. And the holidays bring out the baker in everyone. There are devilishly good cookies sitting not two feet from me right now.

But here’s the fun part…

My weight is exactly the same as it was two months ago when I was working out furiously and paying attention to my eating habits.

The conclusion is that it doesn’t matter hard I try. My body wants to be this weight. It will thwart all my best efforts. Granted, I know I should workout to remain healthy, and will continue to do so, but will no longer hope for a slimmer, shapelier me.

So I might as well at least enjoy whatever food I want whenever I want. Like cheese. I love cheese. I know its just flavored fat, but still…I’m salivating thinking about it right now.

Cheese and wine. Or beer.

This holiday season I’m going to eat and drink and be merry.

Here’s to stuffing your face!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Real Theater, Real Fast

I’ve been invited to participate in the upcoming 14/48 Festival in January as a “virgin writer”.

I’m totally pumped.

Not for the festival, just because someone is calling me a “virgin” again.

CUE Madonna song…

Okay, not really. I’m actually totally jazzed about doing this festival. Slightly honored, and raring to go like a racecar before the green light. But I gotta admit to being slightly anxious. In a good way.

I mean, I’ve written a screenplay in 21 days, right, so how hard could it be to write a ten minute play overnight? Or two?

For those who don’t know, the 14/48 Festival is “the world’s quickest theater festival”! There will be 14 plays conceived, written, rehearsed, scored, designed and performed in 48 hours.

See, how it works is they give all the playwrights a theme to write on, as well as a cast size, at 9 pm on Thursday night and then we go write our plays by 8 am the next morning. We hand it off to the director and actors to rehearse. Then they perform it that Friday night.

We don't get to bask in our glory too long, though, because then we get a new theme and do the whole thing all over again for Saturday night.

If you’ve never experienced a 24 hour play festival, either as an audience member or as a participant, then you just haven’t lived yet. Up until now I’ve only enjoyed them as an audience member--except last year when I volunteered to usher the 14/48 festival in the summer. (Which, I gotta say, everybody there totally rocked, was really nice, professional, and just a fun bunch of people. Which is another reason I’m excited about being part of this festival—I have this thing of wanting to work with fun, nice people. Don’t know what that is about…how weird, am I, right?)

For more info, check out their website.

You should totally mark your calendars. See the shows. Or better yet. Volunteer to help out. They always need ushers and set builders and what have you. C'mon, it'll be fun.

And now back to your regularly scheduled Monday.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Thousand Words

Pictures do so much more than words.

While I’ll always support “le mot juste”, I do love a good visual.

There’s that old maxim, “Show, don’t tell” and that’s tied into the same idea. Telling us the main character is tired is not as effective as describing red eyes with bags under them, ruffled hair, pallid skin and a body moving slowly, as if about to fall asleep.

Also visual gags are more funny sometimes than wordy gags.

Shorter is better.

This is actually very important in plays, and even more important in screenplays. Even though plays do have more words and dialogue, so much can and should be conveyed through stage pictures and the gestures of the actors. Also, audiences receive a lot of information via the set, costumes and lighting design. For instance, in Beckett’s Happy Days, we have a woman buried in a pile up to her waist and chatting merrily as can be with her husband, sitting in a chair nearby. Not much more needs to be said there to add to that picture, even though Beckett continues to pile on more and more meaning (no pun intended…okay a little…).

I’m learning this lesson as I work on the office Holiday Play. As some know, I work in a major non-profit with a lot of smart people. MDs. PhD.s. Scientists. Doctors. All kinds of intelligence in the room, usually. Smart people are not necessarily good at writing jokes. Also, references to science articles and organizations are not necessarily the stuff of comedy.

So there are some challenges there.

Basically I’d really like to insert some fart jokes. Or some blue humor. Anything.

But I can’t.

I work around it by inserting jokes with gags that set up the punchline delivered in the form of a picture (projected via PowerPoint). Our show is modeled after The Daily Show and they do this quite effectively. I won’t go into the tedious details of analyzing why it’s funny, but needless to say we’re able to cut a joke down from a paragraph to one line because the picture tells the whole story.

Something to remember when writing your scripts. If I can show this in some visual way, how do I do that? How can I cut the words down?


Now, if you’ll excuse me, I only have till tomorrow to make some props…like a fake ransom note and some sock puppets.

Monday, December 10, 2007

AMPTP fights back--take that writers!

Finally, a producer from the AMPTP is explaining things!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Thinking about writing

It is said that thinking about writing is not writing. Only writing is writing.

And that’s true.

But thinking is important. Too many writers out there don’t think first before they type something up. Most people these days are so quick to say something that they never stop to ask themselves if they have something to say.

Only writing is writing. And that’s why it’s important to write something every day. It could be writing in your blog, writing a scene, a synopsis, a cover letter, a grant submission, a poem, a song, a dirty limerick, whatever…The point is exercising your creative muscles and finding different ways of communicating ideas through the written word.

I used to think that only sitting down and typing on a play or screenplay was really writing. Truth is, there are aspects of writing that you need to do in order to ensure that the writing goes well.

I like to call that…thinking.

Thinking is an important aspect of writing. Thinking can be outlining. Thinking can be visualizing the end product. Imagining scenes. Fleshing out what your characters look like (are they rough around the edges or polished?). Thinking about what the set should look like (an apartment? A subway platform? A park?) . Thinking could be simply asking the question, “Is this the kind of play I’d like to see on stage?” or “Has this been done before?”

My December will likely be my thinking phase. I have many projects bubbling and they need some time for me to jot down ideas and let my mind wander a little bit. Before I start writing.

And then the holidays will be upon us (as well as a trip back East to visit family and jaunt around NYC for a few days).

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Those wacky striking comedy writers

This is funny clip courtesy of

Of course, the unfunny part is how the strike is still going on...