Thursday, May 10, 2007

Vegetable Suspense.

In case you were wondering, they were sugar snap peas. Sugar snaps are a hybrid of English peas and snow peas.

Okay, you can all go back to what you were doing.


I did it.

I farted around the first half of the day and avoided it. But eventually I was bored with all the distractions I created for myself, and I hate being bored, so I sat down and made myself push through to the end. 111 pages.

Two scenes in particular I know are not right yet, and I'm sure to discover all kinds of other problems, but I'm going to let it sit now for at least a week before I look at it again, because I want it to feel slightly unfamiliar when I read it straight through.

Think I'll go out and get drunk tonight.

Scary Endings.

I told myself as I was going to sleep last night, "Tomorrow is the day." But now I'm feeling chicken. It would be much easier to just read my Alice Munro book or look at Internet porn all day instead of finishing the first draft of my screenplay.

I'm so close to the end of the story. Just a few short scenes. I'm not saying it'll be done -- it's a big hairy beast at this point and I know I'll be working on it for a long time -- but I will have written the story straight through from beginning to end. The first pass. It's a huge milestone.

The draft will be about 110-115 pages, a good length I think. I can trim the fat and still have a feature-length script. (A page equals a minute of screen time, so you want it be be at least 90 pages.)

But, endings are hard. Everyone knows that. Endings are the hardest part. So I'm shaking in my boots this morning.

When I was writing a synopsis for the Sundance lab program application, I came upon a new idea for an ending, which read well in the synopsis, but now I'm not so sure. It contains a surprise. Not a Sixth Sense-type surprise, just an unexpected turn in the characters' lives. And now, as I try to create the scene, it feels like too much is happening right there in the last few pages.

I love neat stories, but generally I'm a fan of the open-ended. The original ending was less an ending than just a point where we stop and walk away from these characters. The lead character was obviously changed by the events in the story, but subtly, and in a way that wouldn't have a big effect on his life except over time. The change was interior. Interior can be a problem for film, but stories where most of the action is emotional or psychological are the ones I find most interesting on screen.

Here's an idea: write two different endings. That could be less scary because I won't be committing to anything. I don't know -- two endings just feels twice as scary as one ending.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Peas and Dreams.

It's 7 a.m. I woke up at 6:30 and couldn't get back to sleep because suddenly I'm not sure if the sugar snap peas that I blanched and froze last Saturday are not actually English peas. Finally I just got out of bed. I almost always wake up at dawn, with the light and the birds, sometimes lie there as long as an hour, but I seldom have the energy to rouse myself, and eventually I go back to sleep and wake up again at 8:30 or so.

In my dream this morning I was at my dream hotel, the one with yellowish light and tangled sheets in the room I am always -- because these are dreams -- trying to get back to. I never do, I am always waylaid in elevator banks and long hallways.

Monday, May 7, 2007

It's All About the Cilantro Pesto.

J. is doing a cleansing fast and only consuming a concoction of lemon juice, maple syrup, sea salt, cayenne pepper, and water for three days. So I'm cooking for myself. I'm completely enamored with the cilantro pesto I made last week. I already went through the first half pint and took another one out of the freezer.

Last night for dinner, I lightly sauteed asparagus and spring onions (from our CSA box this week), added some cooked rice, cilantro pesto, and crumbled feta cheese and tossed it till everything was warmed through. Delicious. The feta is especially good. It's Armenian or Bulgarian or something, I can't remember, but it's creamy and rich and tasty, and it was not expensive.

Today for lunch I made a sandwich with a Quorn pattie (those meatless things that vaguely resemble chicken but they're made with some sort of cultured fungus or something -- they're very tasty) on toasted Italian bread with salad greens (from the CSA), roasted poblanos, feta, and .... cilantro pesto.

I harvested the cilantro just in time. I noticed today that it's beginning to bolt. In other garden news: we lost one of our tomato plants to a virus. It was the really big one, a yellow pear. But the other two look healthy, the watermelon vines are creeping quickly here and there, the cucumber plants have several pretty yellow blossoms on them, and I saw a few tiny, tiny green beans on the vines this morning.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Spooky Weird.

J. and I are watching the first season of Six Feet Under on DVD. I haven't had a TV for many years, so I missed it the first time around. When I was house-sitting for a rich friend in West Hollywood a few years ago, he had a couple episodes TiVoed, so I watched them, and I was seriously underwhelmed. This was around the fifth season, and it reminded me of thirtysomething, which I thought was the most boring show ever: a lot of middle class people sitting around complaining about their pseudo-problems.

But, because so many people said to me you can't come in on the middle of it and I should give it another chance, etc., I did. Well, of course it's amazing. It's a thrill. Real art on TV.

Clare is a dead ringer for a good friend of ours in Nashville who was around Clare's age when we were spending time with her and her family. Our friend even did one of those wilderness trek things, though she didn't get busted for pot as far as I know. Now she (our friend) is a student activist at a college near Seattle.

Here's what's weird. You know the scene in the art gallery, the opening of Brenda's brother's show of photographs? The exhibition is called Private/Public. The artist character in my screenplay is a photographer, and I have a scene which takes place at the opening of a show of his photographs, and the show is called Public/Private. No kidding. And, just like in Six Feet Under, the photographs are of people who are doing private things and have no idea they're being photographed. How fucked up is that?

I should say it was called Public/Private. It's not called that anymore.


As I was waking up this morning, I dreamed I was at a convention in a huge hotel conference center. During some downtime in the activities, all the conventioneers were socializing and relaxing in the hotel lobby. Most of them were in the large main lobby where there were lots of big sofas and chairs, but there was also a smaller smoking lounge. I was in the smoking lounge talking with some friends, but the smoke was bothering me, so I went to the main lobby, where I saw my parents. I sat with them and chatted for a while.

I noticed that a couple people were smoking here too. My mom and dad grumbled a bit, but they didn't want to confront the smokers. I stood up -- by this time several people were smoking and the room was starting to fill with smoke -- and, trying to be very nice guy, smiling, non-confrontational, I don't want to judge you but just FYI, announced, "There's a smoking lounge right around the corner where you guys can smoke, because this is a no smoking area."

One of the smokers, a woman who looked to be in her mid-fifties wearing a denim pants suit and lots of make-up -- what they used to call a bottle blond -- stood up, and I don't remember exactly what she said but it meant, "We're not going anywhere, mister." I said, "If you and all the smokers will either put out your cigarettes or go to the smoking room, I'll wrestle you."

Suddenly three guys surrounded her and yanked her pants suit off in one sweeping gesture (it was attached with Velcro) to reveal a bright spandex superhero outfit. Her hair got bigger and across her chest was a sash that read "WWF World Champion." Everyone moved to the edge of the room, the three guys pushed all the furniture against the walls, and one of them started marking a big square on the carpet with masking tape. The lady wrestler was bouncing on the balls of her feet and punching the air. She looked serious.

I went up to the guy with the masking tape and said, with my hand at the side of my mouth so nobody else would hear, "Just for like 2 minutes, okay? "Cause she'll beat the hell out of me."

That was it. I woke up.