Thursday, March 30, 2006

A Sign of the End Times?

As I said I would, I've been playing with my DVD collection today, getting some movies I have yet to see 'out of the way', so to speak. I finally got through Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West which was an amazing experience. As anyone who has seen it knows, there is very little dialogue over the course of the film's almost 3 hour running time, but what is said is classic. I don't think I'll ever forget Henry Fonda saying, "How can you trust a man who wears both a belt and suspenders. he can't even trust his own pants." Jason Robards also has a cracker of a line when Charles Bronson turns him in for the $5000 reward which went something like this:

Harmonica: The reward for this man is 5000 dollars, is that right?
Cheyenne: Judas was content for 4970 dollars less.
Harmonica: There were no dollars in them days.
Cheyenne: But sons of bitches... yeah.


Once I finished with OUaTitW I moved on to one of my Criterion Collection discs which I've never found the time to watch before now. The disc in question is David Lean and Noel Coward's Brief Encounter and I'm watching it as I type this. It's quite well done and, for someone who's used to Lean's epic films, it's a nice change of pace to see him handling something a bit more intimate.

Anyway, to get to the point of my title for this post, I was inspired by picking one of my Criterion discs to check out the Criterion site and browse through their catalogue and check out some of the essays they have posted on their site (the same ones they include with some of their releases) when I ran into this.

Now, I understand that there are some movies Criterion and I will differ on as being relevant or true classics of the form, but I didn't think anyone would have perceived Armageddon as something worthy of getting the Criterion treatment. Seven Samurai, sure. Brazil, sure. Heck, I'll even go so far as to say I'm not completely opposed to including the films of Kevin Smith (based entirely on their indie street cred), but having Michael Bay's overbloated action/sci-fi/disaster epic on the list just boggles my mind.

Maybe I'm being overly harsh, maybe I need to watch it again. I have friends who think it's an underrated movie (albeit not a classic) so maybe I'm missing some great kernal of genius that Bay has injected into it. Now that I think on it a bit, it's possible that it's being included for Bay's dynamic directorial style (which is undeniable), but this essay kind of asserts that the story has some merit as well.

Well, I'm missing too much of my movie while typing this stuff up so I'm going to get back to it. The two lovers are kissing on the bridge and the Rachmaninoff is swelling. Time to run.

mike

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Watching Deadwood

Actually, in all fairness, I'm not specifically 'watching' Deadwood so much as watching the Audio Commentaries to the series. I've acquired a set of the DVDs (damn HBO for charging almost a c-note for these things) and I'm just loving every little bit of it. From the episodes themselves to the documentaries and other treats, Deadwood is probably one of the more satisfying DVD sets I've laid my hands on in a while.

David Milch comes across as a pretty interesting guy and I get a kick out of listening to him talk (even if it is sometimes an agonizingly drawn out experience). Also, as a history student myself I find it especially satisfying to find out how much research and thought has gone into the show. They make changes to suit their storytelling purposes but, for the most part, they've gone to great lengths to create a tangible, realistic representation of Deadwood of the period. It's always great when you find out that a show that you love has smart people behind it who are trying.

And for anybody checking in, I apologise for the lack of posts of late. The wife has been doing some work on the computer and she's been hogging the machine all week. Considering there's a considerable sum of money attached to what she's doing, I'm not raising a fuss over it. I'll just have to settle for playing with my DVD collection some more while I wait for some time to free up.

Until then...

mike

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Ooo...Awkward

Looks like my troubles with e-mail yesterday weren't troubles after all, just an odd quirk of the mail delivery system. Despite getting retuned mail messages every time I sent something they apparently got every single message sent.

Here's the note I received this morning from PopMatters...

Mike:

We got your submission. It came through like four times. So, no worries.

Cheers,
Sarah


I'm a little embarrassed now, but at least they'll know that I'm really interested.

At least it's one less thing I have to worry about. And I'm used to having pie on my face so, like the e-mail says, no worries.

Update: I just received another e-mail from PopMatters, this time from the Film/TV editor (the last one was from the top editor, I believe). I'm thinking that if I get the gig, this'll be funny, but if they hate the samples I sent, I'm just looking like a real jackass right now.

mike

Friday, March 24, 2006

Submitting to a Higher Power

Welp, I just sent in my submission for a reviewer job over at PopMatters. I had to put together two past writing samples and write up a brand-spanking new one that, if accepted, will be run on the site as my first contribution.

I'm looking forward to hearing what they say. The site is a pretty good place for pop culture analysis and they have some really good people writing for them. I'm especially impressed by their reviewers tendency to review the bonus features on a DVD in the same manner they would the main feature. As a features junkie, the site has been a help to me in the past when deciding between purchasing alternate versions of certian movies on disc, so it'll be fun if I end up joining the club, as it were.

The only unfortunate aspect of the whole deal is that the work is all without pay, so it would be kind of a return to the same-old same-old for me. On the plus side, they promise a lot of swag like preview copies of movies and tickets and the like.

Anyway, I'll probably hear back within the week as to whether or not I was accepted and I'll be sure to post notice here if I am.

Update: My submission mail seems to be bouncing, so this may all have been for naught. I'm going to explore this problem over the next 24 hours or so and see what comes of it. I'm hoping it's just a tech problem and not some other reason (like I was late submitting, or something).

mike

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Movie Watch

I finally got around to picking up a copy of Dominion: Prequel to The Exorcist on DVD the other day. It's a movie that I've wanted to add to my collection for some time but never found the time or money to actually do so (that, and there always seemed to be another disc with more attractive features to devour). Anyway, as much as I like having the movie on disc with the full Dolby Digital 5.1 audio and all that stuff that makes piracy 'just not worth it', more than anything I was curious and eager to hear the audio commentary track with director Paul Schrader. The interviews I've read with him since it was announced that Dominion would be given new life have all been very insightful to how I watch the film and the industry in general (it was through Schrader that I first learned how Hollywood treats theatrical releases as adverts for their DVD releases).

Needless to say, I had high hopes for what his audio track would be like.

Unfortunately, what I've heard so far doesn't sound too engaging. It's actually kind of dull, to be perfectly honest. Maybe it was more the province of William Wisher and Caleb Carr to talk about the themes and ideas being presented in the movie, but I think by not discussing them much, if at all, Schrader missed an opportunity to continue the discourse that began over 30 years ago with Blatty's original novel and its film adaptation. Blatty and Friedkin do so on their commentaries and interviews on the various Exorcist DVDs and I think that they're an important part of the overall experience.

I know it could be argued that Schrader has already discussed these things in the interviews I just cited as having read (which he does) but I've been a fan of this body of work for many years and was maybe wanting just one more excuse to have this film stand out in comparison to the PG-13 Harlin version.

Ah well, at least there's a host of deleted scenes to get into when I'm done with the commentary. For that matter, just having this movie in my collection at all should be considered a bonus feature unto itself. What's that saying about being thankful for the things one has?

Later!

mike

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Out of Sorts

As the title states. I am feeling pretty out of sorts today. I'm not sure where the restlessness is coming from but it's been bringing me down all day. I've tried various solutions but not even my usual happy stuff is doing the trick. So, I'm hanging out, doing laundry, watching Battlestar Galactica audio commentaries and wondering what I'm going to do next.

At the moment, I'm listening to the commentary for episode 15, "Scar". It's one of the better episodes of the second season and the writers (David Weddle and Bradley Thompson) join Ron Moore for the chat so there's some neat trivia being tossed around. Usually Moore does the track solo, which is almost always great, but it's cool to get a different perspective every now and then just to add some colour. And who better than the writers, right?

While on the subject of commentaries, I'm really glad that BSG has continued with the online goodies, unlike the other shows who dabbled but never really committed to the practice. I'd love to get more Stargate or Star Trek comentaries but, unfortunately, the production companies or PTB in charge of those shows don't feel as if it's worth it, I guess.

Anyway, "Scar" is almost over so I'm going to go and see if I can't shake off some of these blues. Take care.

mike

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Silver-Tongued Devil...But I Love Her

On a daily basis I envy my wife's ability to say what she thinks without any fear of repercussions.

I've actually been enjoying her latest string of rants over on our family blog (more her mouthpiece than anyone else's, to be perfectly honest) which have targeted everything from family to politics to society in general. It is possible, I suppose, that I find it so entertaining because none of it has been directed squarely at me since she started blogging a little while ago, but it is fair to say that she's sharp as a tack and worth a gander if you want to see what happens to a firecracker of a redhead after she's had several cups of coffee.

mike

Forward Momentum

After a lot of thought and mental sketching I finally sat down yesterday and wrote a handful of pages on my Smitten script. I already had a couple on the go, but I went in, reworked what I had and continued on for another five pages or so taking the story to it's first real change of locations.

It was a pretty good feeling being able to fire those pages off like I did after...well, 2 years of thinking about them, I guess. Granted, it's not like I spent two whole years working out the dtails of the storyline or developing characters, but it was an off and on sort of process that occured over that period of time, so I'm counting the whole thing. The idea itself is even older than that, but who's counting.

Anyway, as I was saying, it felt good to finally get some of those scenes out of my head and on to the page. I doubt that what I have will stay exactly as it is now (heck, a week ago the whole set-up of these pages was completely different so I have no allusions about the dialogue changing over time) but as long as I keep the forward momentum going and I get to the end, I'll have a complete first draft to deal with and I can shape and mold it as I please at that point. Also, if I do manage to find an artist who was willing to turn it into a comic book with me, than I'm sure he or she will have some input as to how the story unfolds and some of the details will change accordingly.

As I said before, the story was originally meant to be a screenplay but I decided to change it to a comic book script after I realised that I would never be able to produce this as a film on my own. Finding an artist and collaborating on a three or four issue mini-series sounds a lot more doable from where I'm standing, although I'm not exactly sure where I would start to find an artist, never mind one who was interested in a small romantic comedy. Ah well, finish the script and then worry about the artist, I suppose. First things first, right?

My wife was able to offer some encouragement in the form of some positive criticism. Being my first real foray into an original fictional story, I gave her the pages I had to read over and give some opinions on. Being my second harshest critic, I figured that she would be able to set me on the right track, not to mention the fact that she helped me break the story in the first place so she should know if I was screwing up the idea. Her response, as I said, was a positive one. She was happy with how the intro came out and liked the dialogue citing it as fairly natural, which is good. At this stage she feels that I fit into the better-than-average category, so that's fairly encouraging to hear. As long as she wasn't just trying to be a cheerleader for the project, which I doubt.

Among other reasons, I'm actually writing this post as a way of avoiding tackling the next scene which introduces the rest of the protagonist's group of frineds as well as bringing the boy-meets-girl aspect of the story into the mix. Considering the nature of the story, she really has to click with the audience right off the bat in order to sell the idea and I'm nervous about being able to get that just right. I have some ideas about how I might achieve that but I've yet to settle on something as of yet, so I should probably go work that out now.

Later!

mike

Monday, March 13, 2006

DVD Film School

In an interview I once read with James Mangold he said that film school wasn't really necessary for someone who was interested in learning the art of filmmaking. The skills and techniques that you need to make a good film are all things you can learn through either trial and error or through alternative sources such as books and the like. Film school, in Mangold's view, was instead a place for making contacts and possibly hooking up with a mentor who can help you along with the process.

This was pretty much an epiphany for me since I had convinced myself at that point that I wasn't going to be any good, no matter how much I tinkered, unless I went through a 'real' film program at a 'real' film school (a dream which was previously dashed on the rocky banks of cold fiscal and geographic reality). Every now and then I need one of these confidence boosters, and Mangold's came at a time shortly after I completed my first short film which didn't turn out anything like I'd hoped it would and I was feeling pretty down about the whole thing.

So I started reading about various aspects of filmmaking - like screenwriting, directing and producing - and I had found some very good materials that have given me loads of ideas that I can't wait to implement sometime soon. I'm actually feeling pretty confident that I'll be better equipped for when I get behind the camera the next time, hopefully resulting in a superior product to my last effort.

Now, having said that, one part that still intimidates me is dealing with actors. They're kind of a wild card to me and it's an aspect of filmmaking that I haven't seen covered very thoroughly in the books that I've come across. Strangely enough, the one place where I have received the most, and best, advice to date on dealing with actors, and the process they go through while preparing for, and acting in, a film are the various and sundry DVD commentaries and special features I've been watching and accumulating for the last few years. When you think about it, if you have a bit of academic or practical background in the field and understand how a film gets made, listening to these guys and gals talk about their craft is incredibly informative. Everything from what they experience on set to how they prepare for a roll and how they interact with the camera is covered by these interviews and commentaries, and the best part of it is that it is coming from the horses mouth. Instead of listening to or reading Joe Schmoe's thoughts on the craft, you're listening to someone like Al Pacino talking about what he's seen and learned over the course of his his 30 year career.

I use Al Pacino in that last example because I'm watching the Insomnia commentary with Christopher Nolan as I write this and am finding it quite good from a technical/creative standpoint. There was also a great conversation feature where Nolan and Pacino interview each other and reveal a lot of good little bits about their respective crafts. It just made me think of how many of these features I've watched in the last few years (especially since trying to learn new things about film and the process of making them) and how valuable DVDs can be to the aspiring filmmaker. That could just be a way to justify my enormous collection (which my wife is beginning to resent) or it could be the underlying reason for why I'm always on the lookout for the next disc purchase and the potential treasure trove of features lying in wait. Either way, I think it's kind of an interesting observation.

mike

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Synchronicity

I've always been a firm believer in the idea of synchronicty or serendipity having an enormous influence/impact on our lives. In the past, I've experienced many things that one would normally chalk up to coincidence or chance, but with such alarming frequency that I have had to put some faith in an overarching, guiding force in the universe.

Now, before you think I'm waxing all philisophical on you, one area where I tend to experience this phenomenon is in my entertainment - comics, TV, movies and music - and today was a perfect example of this.

Case in point. The other day, I picked up Gilbert Hernandez' Palomar from the library. I've been watching Los Bros. Hernandez from the sidelines for years, but had yet to truly get my feet wet with their body of work. While I'm in the middle of reading it, I stumble upon the first Fantagraphics collection of Love & Rockets at a local bookstore. I don't remember ever seeing it there before, nor at such an affordable price ($6.99 CAN), so I can only chalk it up to serendipity that it was, quite literally, dropped into my lap as it was.

Another example of this would be the latest DVD I bought this week, Christopher Nolan's remake of Insomnia from a few years back. You know the one starring Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank? Anyway, I picked it up for a steal of a price (I'm just a sucker for those can't miss 'em deals) and was remembering, as I purchased the disc, the Criterion Collection release of the Norwegian version and the last time I saw it sitting on a shelf at a Rogers Video thinking, 'maybe I should pick that up sometime'. Flash forward to the very next day and a trip to the library downtown and guess what I find? That's right, the Norwegian version of Insomnia just sitting there on the shelf almost like it was waiting there for me.

And just in case you think I'm stretching it a bit, bear in mind that I was at a different library earlier in the day but they didn't have any interesting DVDs to take out so we went to this other one later on.

To a lesser degree, there was also an instance today where I was finishing up Nick Hornby's About a Boy and talking about the movie adaptation with my wife (making specific comments about the Weitz brothers who made the flick) only to find myself stumbling upon a short Weitz brothers interview while at the bookstore today.

I mean, come on.

There are a number of other times that I could go into to cement my argument, but I think you're starting to see the picture that is forming here.

I don't know if everybody experiences these sorts of events or if it's just me but I do know that I have a lot of days like this (sometimes involving mysterious cheques arriving in the mail) and I can't help but think that there's probably some ineffable universal design at work. Granted, that could be bad news for people like my mother-in-law (she's always getting short-changed when she goes shopping), or my kooky neighbour (people keep stealing her stuff but leaving our house alone) who, more often than not, can't seem to catch a break. Still, I'm pretty confident that there has to be some checks and balances in place, so they're probably getting breaks and I just don't know about it.

Knock wood, I guess.

On a somewhat unrelated note, now that I have all this Hernandez Bros. work lying around the house, I'm reminded of the fact that Eric Reynolds (of Fantagraphics Books) gave me Xaime and Gilbert's phone numbers some time ago for an interview which never got off the ground due to my not using them and calling them up (something for which I am still kind of kicking myself over). Maybe I'll have to remedy that sometime soon. Could be a fun interview. Could be the interview to start the ball rolling again. I dunno. I'm just thinking out loud as usual.

mike

Friday, March 10, 2006

Getting Back in the Game

I know my wife will probably choke when she reads this post, but I've started to get the urge to contact some people and get myself back into freelancing. I'm not talking full-time, or anything, just a part-time gig like I used to have when I was the Features Editor over at Siver Bullet Comicbooks - but maybe with pay, this time.

I don't know what I would focus on if I went through with it, but it's likely that I'd start with the comic journalism again, interviewing folks and writing articles and the like. A few years ago the interview was the big draw for an online magazine but that soon changed. Instead of 'who has the best interview' it shifted to 'who has the best celebrity columnist'. Then the fans were looking for the best rumour mill and then it came back to the columns, only this time it was the up and coming writers who caught everyone's attention (so far,though, I've yet to see any of the 'hot young things' that were all the rage a while ago make anything of themselves in the industry as a whole). Now, it looks like the interview is, once again, a prime focus on the sites, creating a possible haven for me and my favourite pasttime.

I've been sitting here at my computer for the last hour trolling sites I used to write for and sites I'd like to write for, debating on whether or not to contact the editors there to see if they'd be interested in giving me a crack at writing for their mags. Looking at all the material on their sites, I'm thinking there is genuinely something I can offer that they don't currently have in great quantities. You see, while I think that there are many, many creator interviews and 'glad they could take the time away from their busy schedule' chats on these sites, very few of them could be considered (at least in my opinion) any good beyond the absolute basics of disseminating information to the masses.

Now, before I really ruffle some feathers, I think the nature of publishing on the web has a lot to do with that. When you put up new information daily instead of weekly or monthly as the print mags do, you end up with a mass produced sort of feeling to your content. But unless you have a shitload of people writing the stuff, or a handful of extremely talented writers, it's not going to come off very well in the end no matter what you do. I've done the cookie cutter interviews before and, while they serve their purpose, they also steal a little bit of your writers soul every time you do one and not endeavour to change something about them.

And then there's the repetition.

I used to hate the magazine culture and publicists that enforced exclusives and absolute control of where and how much information was getting out at any given time. Now, not so much. When every website has an interview with a new artist and they all ask the same questions, of course the artist is going to repeat the same thing he said to the first guy and the guy before him (or gal - I'm not trying to be sexist, here). I just ran across this with some Steadman interviews that I found at their website (free streaming audio folks - the whole catalogue of their music as well as rarities, live tracks and videos). Everyone wants to ask about 'the Paul McCartney connection'. There's only one answer to that and it's the same one they give every time.

If you look over my body of work you'll notice that, in the past, I've gone to great lengths to try and make my interviews somewhat different from the next guys piece. Hours have been spent reading other people's Q&As, reading previously published works and even looking over my own past interviews to see if I've been asking the same questions too often (patterns breed cookie cutter pieces - not good). It's really very important to me to try and make each interview a little bit better than the last one, and if I can cater the questions to each individual subject then I'm half the way there.

Anyway, I'm starting to digress here, aren't I? If I don't stop ranting, I may start naming names and then I'll be dragging out the trebuchet. No point in burning the bridges before I've even begun the journey, is there?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some editors to e-mail before the wife gets home.

mike

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Bowie, Besson & Minimoys, Oh My!

Reuters has this little snippet on the latest project from Luc Besson. I've been waiting for years to find out when and what he was going to direct again. It seemed that after The Messenger he was no longer interested in getting behind that camera. Sure, he wrote Kiss of the Dragon, the two Transporter movies and Unleashed, but he had a visual style that was fairly distinctive and I miss seeing it in his projects.

Anyway, this little animated project is something I will definitely be keeping an eye out for.

mike

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Confessions Confessional

The other night I watched George Clooney's Confessions of a Dangerous Mind with my brother and was blown away by how fun and brilliant this movie is. I'm actually not sure how I managed to avoid this flick for so long. I really like George Clooney, as an actor and a filmmaker, so it must have been just laziness. I haven't seen a movie with a script this sharp since Fight Club. I've never been a big follower of Charlie Kaufman - even though I really enjoyed Being John Malkovich - but after seeing this movie, I'll probably hunt down Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Not entirely dissimilar to when I discovered Wes Anderson movies.

As I do with any movie that gives me the ol' wa-POW! to the brain, I'm lending it out to everyone who'll pay attention long enough to be handed the disc. I just handed it off to my parents so I'm looking forward to seeing what they thought of it, and before that I passed it along to a buddy at work. I also have yet to show it to my wife, so I'll probably get another viewing or two out of it in the near future.

Check it out if ya haven't and post comments if you do. I'm curious what y'all think.

mike

Sunday, March 05, 2006

From Cerebus to Gun-Fu

I was pretty surprised to see this interview over at The Pulse. One of my 'favourite' interviewers, Jennifer Contino, takes a crack at the always interesting (but not always likeable) Dave Sim. Dave has apparently written a one-shot for Howard Shum's Gun-Fu series which is a send-up of the ol' Sean Connery area Bond films. I'd be curious to check this out just based on the fact that Dave's written it, but seeing as how I'm currently slogging through Dave's 'Chasing Yahweh' nonsense in my quest to finish off Cerebus, I'm interested to see something from him that doesn't involve religion, Woody Allen gags or lengthy text pages.

I guess Gun-Fu is out this month. YOu can also check in on CBR for another Dave interview here.

mike

Saturday, March 04, 2006

5 is the New 0

I have to say, I'm pretty happy with myself. After going from staring at a blank page for an hour last night to 5 pages of script today, I think I can say that I have officially began the latest draft and version of Smitten.

I don't write a lot of fiction so it's not something that comes very easily to me yet. If you asked me to come up with 20 questions for an interview with someone at random, I could probably do that in a pinch. If you wanted them to be particular or in-depth, that would take me an hour and access to a computer. But fiction remains a strange animal to me. Something I have to really work at to make it come alive.

So I was a little surprised when my opening (which I had worked out the night before) went from a fairly straightforward narration to something a little less obvious but closer to the overall theme and concept of the story. While I still haven't decided if it's the way I'm going to go with it in the end, it's still a departure from what I had already established, and it was an unexpected one that happened through almost no outward effort of my own. It's a neat feeling to have whatever instinct is in control of that impulse take over and an encouraging one, as well.

Now, if you're a writer and you're reading this, you're probably thinking that I'm like a kid who's just discovered that flicking the light switch up and down makes the bright light come and go away, but I'm still fairly new to this experience so, nyah!

I've always been told and always believed that the key to getting it right is to just write no matter what. Even if it's complete and total crap, you at least have something to work with if you write something down. If nothing else, it becomes a template of what not to do. And sometimes, you hit the nail on the head and discover new and interesting ways to portray a scene or a line of dialogue that you may not have thought of otherwise. But you have to write or absolutely nothing will get done. So write I will, and odds are, I will be posting updates here about the progress I'm making as well as any and all frustrations I may be going through as a result.

I have to hit the sack, now. I work in about 6 hours and my eyes are kind of dry and groggy.

Later!

mike

Friday, March 03, 2006

Lloyd Lends Support to V Film

I jut caught this on the SciFi Wire this morning. A lot of people have criticized the adaptation for being unfaithful to the original but when one of the creators comes out and says he likes it, I can't think of a better endorsement - unless he was bribed to say nice things about it.

There's also been word that if this movie does well, Warner Bros. will greenlight the Watchmen film which they purchased off of Paramount after their new management killed the project.

I'm looking forward to seeing V sometime this month. I think it'll be a winner.

mike

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Structural Engineering

I've spent the better part of two weeks hammering out what I thought was a pretty good structural foundation for my screenplay-turned-comic-book-script, Smitten. I had most of the details worked out and mapped out the events to span roughly three or four issues of a 22 page comic book. With most of the nuts and bolts out of the way, I really only needed some tweaking here and there to increase plausability in some of the situations, and to make the relationship line more believeable since the whole story sort of hinges on me selling that one to the audience. I mean, when you're doing a script where you have two characters coming together in a romantic relationship but one of them is absent for 99% of the story, you've got some big hurdles to overcome.

On the plus side, I think I've successfully wrestled that angel.

Tonight, I had a bit of a rap session with my wife where we worked out some of the old problems and came up with some new ideas that will, I hope, flesh out a couple of the characters and add some much needed humour to the whole thing. We also talked about how I can make the first act turning point and the story's climax more true to the original concept while simultaneously adding some dynamism that will help me avoid hitting some very big clich├ęd moments. I'm really excited about where this could go, now, and I'm going to start the hard part (the first draft) as soon as I can get past the fear of starting a new project.

I'm doing everything I can to avoid actually putting words to the word processor right now (hence the posting) but I'm planning on, at the very least, getting a page or so down before I hit the sack tonight.

Wish me luck!

mike

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Listening to F. Scott

About 5 years ago, or so, I discovered the writing of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Not that I wasn't aware of the guy and his work before that, it's just that I discovered how much I enjoyed his short stories and novels which, subsequently, made him one of my favourite writers to date. There is just something about how he puts words to paper. You can tell that he's agonized over each and every word, phrase and paragraph. His prose has an almost lyrical quality to it and the stuff he writes about just plain interests me.

So, it should come as no surprise that when I saw an audiobook of the short stories of F. Scott as read by the likes of Robert Sean Leonard, Blythe Danner, Campbell Scott, Peter Gallagher and others, I picked it up. I caught it during one of my library trips and figured it would be great for driving to and from work. I'd read some of the stories before so they would be a refresher, but there were some I hadn't, so it would be the best of both worlds.

Unfortunately, what I've discovered (and should have known having attempted audiobooks in the past) is that Fitzgerald's prose loses something for me when interpreted through someone else. Robert Sean Leonard's "Diamond as Big as the Ritz" and Danner's "Bernice Bobs Her Hair", for example, were far less entertaining for me this time around compared to when I first read them. I don't know if it's the actors trying to act the characters and parts, or if there's something wrong with the cadence of it, but it just doesn't feel right.

I've heard three of the stories so far, with three yet to go, so I'm not going to give up on the tapes altogether. I mean, you never know, right? It could be the actors. If not, I'll just go and finish The Beautiful and the Damned when I'm done Hornby's About a Boy (which is fabulous, I might add).

mike