Tuesday, February 26, 2008

"You call him Dr. Jones, doll!

C'mon, this is just funny...weird, but funny...

And I wish I had thought of this idea first.

This comes from Funny or Die.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Say What?!

I'm bummed that Cate Blanchett did not win last night for her role as Jude (aka Bob Dylan) in I'm Not There. I'm sure Tilda Swinton did a fine job, but seriously...

Otherwise, mostly not suprised by the winners, though haven't seen No Country For Old Men yet, but now want to even more.

All in all, the most endearing moment of the night was when Jon Stewart pulled out Marketa Irglova so that she could give her acceptance speech. Very classy, Jon. And she was delightful and inspiring, sharing words of hope and believing in your dreams.

And really, that's what that crazy city of Hollywood is all about.

And the second most endearing night was from Diablo Cody, writer of Juno who proclaimed, "This is for the writers!"

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Rock on, Miss Piggy!

So this play of mine GREEN-EYED MONSTER, pictured here in the premiere in NYC at Brass Tacks Theater, has now taken on a new life in the character Suzy's monologue, which is published in the Audition Arsenal series. It is now being referred to as the "Miss Piggy" monologue.

When I was teaching my Making Monologues workshop at the KCACTF festival in Laramie, I used this monologue. It's funny, it's active, and it works for explaining some of the concepts of character, objective, tactics, and language, etc.

After the class a student came up to me and said, "My friend used that piece to audition for grad school in London. And she got in."

That made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

I told another teacher who knew about this student and she said, "Oh yeah, they loved that monologue".

Okay, so this monologue is entertaining and fun and funny. People like doing it. Like watching it. It's not Shakespeare. It's not Beckett. But it works and people like it.

And some talented woman got into grad school using words I wrote. Now, I know her talent got here there (and maybe her grades) but there are a lot of good monologues out there and she chose mine and it served her well. Indirectly, I helped her and that's so cool.

Reminds me why I write in the first place. No award, no money, no production fills me with that kind of fulfillment.

Speaking of awards, the OSCAR race is on! Who will win? Who will cry? Who will wear the bad outfits?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Back from Laramie...

And I see a letter from the O'Neill Theater Center.

Fully expecting the rejection chimes of "We're sorry, but..."

Instead I see, "We are thrilled to inform you that The Albatross has been selected as a semifinalist...from a field of 735 scripts, yours joins the narrowing pool..."

I swoon. I feel lightheaded.

I try not to think about the fact that only about 10 playwrights get to experience this wonderful workshop of their play in the month of July. It might be me. It might not.

I try not to think at all...

Besides, I'm too tired from a long day of flying across the country.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

He's Back!

Yesterday I spoke of hats, well, the man with the hat is coming back! Not until May, but still...they just released the trailer for the fourth Indiana Jones film.

You can watch it here.

I'm drooling again just thinking about it...

Friday, February 15, 2008

Sex with Gods and Other Fun Stuff

I’m reading Peter Brook’s version of The Mahabharata right now.

I’ve read about the production, of course, as almost every theater student has, but have never actually sat down to read the full text (which is never as good as seeing the show, but that’s like a 9 hour commitment…).

It’s interesting, full of sex, violence, death, destruction, creation and love.

Why am I reading this piece now?

Well, I’m going to India next month for two weeks and so I’m trying to learn as much as possible about the people, culture and politics. While I'm there I'll be pretty busy with meetings but I hope to see at least at little of the culture, like the Kathakali or hear some music. Here's a picture of an actor, not from a kathakali show, but some other form of song/opera:

That is one big hat!

And speaking of big hats...I’ll be in Laramie, WY next week for the KC/ACTF Regional festival. Not quite as intense as India, but still…exotic in its own way…and cold. Very cold.

In other news…

It’s official! I will be teaching a Playwright/Director/Designer Theater lab called Working on a New Play at Bellevue Community College in the Spring quarter. I’m preparing for the class now and am very excited about the work we’ll be doing. If you’re interested, the class is Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30 to 5:00 pm.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

We’ve won the battle, but will we win the war?

Don’t get me wrong. The WGA strike is over and I’m very happy that the 92.5% of the WGA voting population is happy about the terms of the deal. Here’s to hoping we can go a shorter span than 20 years before our next raise of 4 cents on the dollar.

But, seriously, even though there was support for this strike in massive efforts as yet unseen for writers in the past century, I still can’t help but wonder about the population of people who have no clue how scripts get written and shows get made.

They think its easy money and that the writers are all driving BMWs. So did we educate any of these people that most writers are either unemployed or barely making their rent? I don’t know. I hope so…but then...well...

America is dumb. A lot of them like reality TV.

So that’s why I think its great we got this strike over with, but I still think there’s a war to be fought…

Now, the next question is “will the AMPTP try to screw the actors out of a good deal in June?”

Or will there be another strike bringing us yet more unwelcome reality TV.

Monday, February 11, 2008


We finally watched this movie this weekend.

Can I just say I LOVE IT.

It's a simple "guy meets girl love story"...only with complications and things don't quite work out the way you expect...Like life.

But also, and I remember someone talking about the film, it's the idea of "Once I get that job" or "Once I get to the city...things'll be different". There's a lot of hope in the struggle of life.

And the music is phenomenal.

Go see it.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Puzzling Aroma and a High School Flashback

My shirt smells like cigarette smoke…

I have no idea why…I’m trying to remember the last time I wore it. It’s relatively new and it’s been worn only so many times…

It reminds me of when I was a teen-ager and my older sister would steal my shirts so that she can wear them to a club that she was definitely not old enough to be in (she was cool and had a fake ID—I was soooo not cool…). Actually, she mostly stole my sweaters (it gets cold in the winter in Reno). Then she would sneakily put my shirt back in my closet, thinking I perhaps would not notice the smell of cigarette smoke.

And you may be wondering, were my shirts so feminine that a woman could wear them out for a night on the town? Or was my sister perhaps, manly enough to wear an obviously men’s shirt?

You’ll never know.

(Actually, the sweaters were pretty lame…it was the 80s, y’know.)

At any rate, I think its time to wash the shirt.

Monday, February 4, 2008

This just astounds me...

Take a look, America, this is what you want...

According to MSNBC, that is.

"Time to re-think the strike" is the name of the article, written for and paid by the producers, otherwise known as NBC.

What bugs me about this article isn't just that they get all the facts wrong, although that's part of it. They have managed to paint the writers as evil wrongdoers who want to "bring the TV people to their knees".

Oh, you poor, lonely, misunderstood producers...everybody always trying to take your money away from you...

We don't want that, actually, because we like to work and put money on our table. Its not that we want a pay raise (well, okay, yes we'd like 4 more cents on a 19.99 DVD, that's true--we'll call that "our first raise in twenty years", how about?). The truth is we just don't want a pay cut (like when people buy movies over the internet).

The absurd part is that even though some reality shows do well, its hard to make the argument that we don't need any more scripted shows every again. I mean seriously, all I hear every day from people is complaints about how there is nothing good on anymore...When will the strike end?

Maybe soon. They are back in talks. And its not because the writers are worried about the "wrong tactics" but because producers realize if they don't get their scripts into production soon, their whole year is screwed.

Also, what's fun about this article, is they keep trying to bill reality shows as "nonscripted" when everyone in the business knows this is not the case. Those are non-union writers working there, writers usually getting less than they are worth, no healthcare, and unpaid overtime.

Yeah, sign us up for more American Gladiator! That's really what america wants to see, steroids in tights.

It doesn’t get easier, does it?

“If we wanted easy, we wouldn’t be show people”.

That’s still one of my favorite lines from my newest spec script about the children’s theater tour.

I like it because you can easily substitute “show people” for “writers”.

Last night I finished reading Dennis Palumbo’s book, Writing from the Inside Out. I’d recommend it to any writer of any medium anywhere. (Another book I’d recommend is Gary Garrison’s Playwrights Survival Guide—also chock full of goodies to help you keep your sanity). Palumbo’s book is based on essays he wrote for his column in the WGA newsletter and details many of the struggles all of us have, whether we’re writing our first spec script, our tenth novel, or our hundredth sit-com.

It’s a great book to dig into when you need gentle reminders that “writing is hard” and “you’re not alone in your misery.” And hey, who doesn’t need that?

Near the end of the book, there’s an essay saying that writing never gets easier. All writing is hard, whether it’s a fast action flick or the latest winner of an Oscar for dramatic picture. Writing a non-fiction essay is hard. Even writing a blog is hard (if you don’t believe me, try writing one…). And even though the more you do it, the better you get (one hopes), it never gets easy. As you acquire more skills and technique, the harder it gets to rewrite (because that’s what writing is really all about anyway).

Of course, the more you write the more opportunities you have to receive joy and fulfillment from your work. And that’s pretty great. Because if you’re looking for fulfillment solely by monetary rewards or accolades, that may not happen as much as you like, and when it does, the high you feel from your accomplishment won’t last long.

This is why there are many people out there who write one or two plays or screenplays that never go anywhere and the writer just throws in the towel…because they really thought it would be easy…You write a flashy script, sell it for a million bucks, and its all downhill from there…

Yeah, like with any business endeavor, that’s a nice fantasy but not realistic. Building a writing career in TV/Film takes a lot of time. Not everyone has sold their spec for millions of dollars and if you want the real scoop on that, go here.

When I think of the things that my writing has given me over the years, I usually think of the people that I’ve worked with, the friendships that I’ve made, and the shows that have come together in such a way as to be purely magical moments of my life. And also, if I wasn’t such a great playwright, I never would’ve gotten a date from the woman who became my wife (it’s a long story, but it’s true…)

For a sample of some of Palumbo’s wisdom, go here for a great article partly about the film Adaptation, but mostly about how even the most successful writers still struggle with insecurity, doubts, fears, and painful writer’s block.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Writing is like Poker

Not really.

By the way, as cute as my poker players may be tonight, none of them are as cute as Drew Barrymore. But they probably play better than her.

Actually, they probably don't.

And if you're wondering, this movie Lucky You...really sucked.