Monday, February 28, 2011

THIS is about as exciting as my life gets at present. Bla bla books bla. Bla bla a bit 'o writing, bla.

The Oscars were last night. Underwhelming, they were. First of all, the duo of James Franco and Anne Hathaway fizzled. A dud, simply put. Franco is a creepy little cretin anyway, but I had hopes that he would be creepily funny, at least. No. Not at all, really. Anne Hathaway tried to be his perfect foil by attempting to be bubbly but she only came out exceedingly, strainingly obnoxious. Beautiful, but terrible, and not in the literary way. Anyway. As I've whined before this was not a good year for movies, but for once I think most of the films that were nominated were deserving, and I didn't really feel like anyone was robbed or edged out, except maybe Chris Nolan and Ryan Gosling, but eh. They are favorites. They will survive. I wasn't ecstatically happy about many of the winners, except for possibly Colin Firth who is precious in every way and David Siedler, the King's Speech writer who is wonderful. I was surprised and a little miffed to see Social Network get the shaft (with the exception of Sorkin's amazing amazing script), and even more grumpy to note that True Grit got NOTHING (zip!!!! really guys?!), but that was not shocking. TG revived the Western but it is not as timely as its competition, and I suppose everyone's sort of tired of the Coens. Overall I felt The King's Speech was a worthy winner, however seeing it completely absorb all of the awards was a little disapointing and dull. The only wins I was particularly crabby about were Natalie Portman's and Melissa Lao's. Both deserving, however others in their categories were much more so. Michelle Williams should have won for Blue Valentine, and, as much as I really love Melissa Lao (both in The Fighter and in Frozen River) I was really rooting for Hailee Steinfeld, whom I just think is marvelous. And her speech would have been precious, surely.

The screenwriting categories were packed with goodness this year. Not like last year when Precious/Hurt Locker won, both undeserving scripts in my opinion. The one really unfair blow I thought was The Social Network being thrown into the adapted category with True Grit. Unfair on all accounts! Two completely amazing scripts like that, and SN not even a real adaptation (though if it were in the original category it would have to have competed with King's Speech, which is also a wonderful screenplay.

Now I'm just musing.

When I win one or both of those categories (in the same year, of course), I think I would mainly discuss my parents. I kept thinking about that, when the recepients brought up their families. How proud they must be. What a wonderful thing to be able to say, my kid just won an Oscar on the teevee last night, didja hear?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Another End Times Dream

So my subconcious has a real penchant for the ambiance of Philip K Dick or something, because I continue this strange series of cold, dark, apocalyptic dreams. Except Paul Bettany was in this one, as were my parents. But mainly Paul Bettany being disarmingly attractive and awesome.

Firstly, I think my subconcious was trying to pin down an atmosphere and time period throughout the dream, because it seemed to alter slightly from point to point. It started out a bit like a behind the times Czech village, and everyone dressed somewhat oldfashionedly, but it was still now, as in we all had cars and seemed to talk mostly normal. And in English. Anyway, everyone from the area had kind of gathered in the same place. There were some political discussions happening and alot of trials had been going on in reference to the government. In the midst of all that, there had been some kind of cruxifiction, literally. Some citizens had dragged this Christ figure into this nearby chapel and blamed all of the tummult on him, and apparently got so frenzied about it they had him killed right there in the church in a way brutal manner. I did not see it happen, but word somehow got to me. Not that many people seemed to care all that much about it, though, being upset with the bigger scheme of things. I went to the chapel to find mourners for the crucified fellow there. We were all wearing black. I hadn't known him but I was of course saddened and horrified that all this had happened. Apparently the murder had been pretty violent because there was blood in spatters all around the interior of the chapel. One of the few cleaners was Paul Bettany, looking all sickly and whatnot and wearing this big black cloak. I felt like I knew him (probably because he was Paul Bettany-- except of course he wasn't the movie star paul bettany, he was paul bettany playing this fellow), so I started talking to him and it turns out he was the one that was ordered to kill the Jesus guy. I don't think he was all there to begin with, but the murder had made him all guilty and crazy and he was frantically cleaning up the patches of blood. at one point he started crying and I told him to go away and I'd make sure it was all clean and he ran off.

Paul in his cloak-y, post-Jesus slaying get up. Actually that part of my dream seemed pretty well-rooted in the atmosphere of what I remember of The Reckoning. Except thank heaven Willem Dafoe wasn't there (though technically he was Jesus in The Last Temptation. Weird little tie-in, there). Also, how hilarious is Willem in this picture? He looks like he's about to whine about not getting any cookies.

Once we had cleaned everything there was some kind of a makeshift memorial service for the dead guy, and sat in to listen. This would have been a good movie scene but I can't remember gleaning any information or emotion from whatever happened in there. After that I left the chapel to go join my parents. Whatever this government issue trial thing was, it was a big attraction, and apparently we had family come from out of town to be around for it. Thus, we had many cars, trucks, and even a black limo for all this extra family. Some kind of political decision had been made around the time that I reappeared in the parking lot, and everyone who wasn't going to join in a riot was getting in their cars to go. Then everything got all crazy and violent, and the riot started to pose a threat to my family (who had also very stupidly brought my little sister along). Then Paul Bettany came back, all enraged and protective in this really awesome WHITE suit and pistol, and the crowd shrank back and left my family's car alone. I jumped out at this point and hugged Paul goodbye, and he gave me this crushingly wonderfully sad hug. It was really quite romantic in a tragic, weird way.

Paul in his post redemption get up. Actually he did look quite a bit like this and everything, except the suit was damn, 1940's and WHITE.

I think I almost came out of the dream at this point, but wielded myself back to sleep in hopes of bumping into the guy again, ha. But of course he was dead, sacrificing himself for my family and trying to expunge the guilt of the murder.

So my parents and I then arrived back at home with all of our long, black cars. And ringo, my geo metro was there, too. The house was a strange culmination of houses I know and houses from other dreams. The front entry way was especially like that of my now deceased third cousin (or something) who lived in Paso Robles. I gave her a shadow box once, I had made a scene of swans on a pond out of that crayola foam clay, arranged it in a small open box, and stretched that colorful, sticky cyran wrap over the front of it. I was obsessed with that cyran wrap. Anyway, the house looked like hers, kind of. I was depressed to be there. My dad and mother were exaggerated versions of their real-life selves-- my father in his own little world, not listening to anything and not interpreting a single thing properly, my mother desperately unhappy (and apparently having an affair with someone that was at the rally. or thinking about it. this is the result of reading The Awakening, probably). A peculiar storm had been brewing throughout the dream, and now it was coloring the sky in spooky ways. Dad did not notice. Our extended family left, or some of them did. My little sister was three, and small and cute, and dressed... like a tiny mime, complete with striped sweater and french beret. She was not terribly bothered by anything. My parents mumbled discussions with themselves while I looked out our huge window at the cars on the street until suddenly-- the cars started to roll backwards, all of them. A jarringly eerie, cinematic image if ever i saw one. Top that, Chris Nolan. So down the hill the cars are going, and I freak out and run outside. Ringo is among the black cars, rolling slowly to the bottom of the steep hill. I get some huge strip of fabric, wrap it around the car, and haul the thing back up the hill all by my own self (ah, ringo). My father has meanwhile followed all of the other huge black cars to the bottom of the hill, trying to save them by himself. My mother, having had quite enough, was putting Dory the mime in our hovercar (which had appeared magically and did NOT roll down the hill). I had a feeling she was going to be gone for a long time, so I ran up to her and demanded an explanation. She said she didn't really have any answers for me, and I went bonkers. "You don't get to leave me!" I said, or something like. "I am a graduate! People are not allowed to leave ME anymore, I LEAVE THEM!!" Perhaps the only part of the dream that requires absolutely no interpretation. Aside from my attraction to Paul Bettany. Anyway, mom finally says something like "well, I was going to go for good, but I'm not sure now. He (dude she was having an affair with) wrote me this letter (she presents me with a manilla envelope), and it's wise. I just don't know, now." But she got in the car with Mime Jr and floated away. Dad came back from the car chasing because the storm had gotten heavy and scary. We sad inside, staring out the back window at a shed we apparently had in our backyard. "Don't worry!" Dad kept saying "The shed will be fine! Nice and sturdy," like he had no idea or concern about anything that had been conspiring over this whole maddening day. I excused myself and went into our (pink...) bathroom and took out the manilla envelope to read this big life-altering letter. Then, suddenly, I was afraid.

Then I woke up.

ps, annnnnd the dude that works at coffee bean just totally saw me scanning attractive paul bettany pictures. embarrassing.
ok, so the guy sitting WITH the tuturro guy is talking about his son in law who apparently is the screenwriter behind the new spiderman franchise.

shit. what should i do??

Fox in the snow, where do you go?

So. Hello. Hilarity of hilarities, it turns out that not too long after that very last blog post my old computer did up and die on me, and has been dead all of this time. I am currently undergoing the time-consuming, money-draining process of fixing the dear, and therefore I am undergoing severe internet/typing facility withdrawal. Pain. Lots of pain, as Watt would say in Knight's Tale. My line of entertainment has been very much removed in general, as my television also committed suicide sometime last month during all the carnage. This was not a problem as I've never been much of a tv person and mostly like to watch movies via netflix or dvd-wise, but with computer deceasal (not a word, i am aware, however I like it as it is and therefore shall make no effort whatsoever to change the thing) this has meant no mind-easing entertainment at all! Also my bike chain is broken. So unless I decide to go on walks, which I probably should but don't want to late at night since I was almost pounced last time I tried it (true story for another time), I don't really have the productive option of exercise. So, dear reader, what on earth have I been doing with my time? Reading! Reading! Reading! I made my to-read list for the year and have been blazing steadily through it, reading five books at a time (as per ush), never ceasing! My eyes and mind grow stronger, I'm sure. I have completed about ten or so books since the death of my computer, which certainly says something about the level of distraction that these here mind boxes create. Or something like that. Anyway. I have read completed Dog of the South, a new favorite, along with True Grit, which I love equally. I have decided to read all of his novels. There are not many (I am not heavy!), and topping off Norwood a few days ago means I only have two left. I have also read an assortment of other things, like The Awakening which I quite liked, and Rebecca which was, I suppose, good in a gothic sort of way. It's a good story, anyway, with a great ending, even if the characters are nails-on-chalk-board-y. Still reading Ulysses. I think I've gotten lost, actually, and I'm not smart enough to discern the assigned voice and themes of each chapter well enough to be able to tell one from the other. Mostly Bloom and Stephen wander around THINKING things. Which sometimes carries me away with them, and sometimes leaves me on the banks wondering why on earth they would want to go out to see in a thought-boat like that. Oh well. Maybe some of that is the point. Maybe Joyce was not expressing much of any feeling, just exercising his abilities (though I essentially doubt this. Especially where death is concerned).

My life is moody (not me, oh no). Ironically, after all my big talk of biding my time here and all that I quickly decided that I couldn't. That there is no clear reason for me to bother living here anymore. Everything's a bit of a dead end, really, from my personal growth to my finances to my work to my relationships (mostly) to, especially, my writing. Of course the ole writing's at a bit of a dead end now anyway due to dead typing machine, at least so far as screenplays go, though I am still jotting down short stories, outlines, treatments in a somewhat freshly purchased notebook with a pleasant black and white pattern on the cover. Anyway. Point is, everything here is dried up. I am in love with Ventura still, thankfully, however I hate where I am in my life, and sticking around here isn't going to do me any good. It is not improving matters. For a few weeks I was simply upset all of the time, about everything, especially my fear and guilt about not really doing anything-- not being able to do anything good in any capacity. I Then realized, as they say in True Grit, there's nothing for it. I hate myself right now (moreso than usual) because I don't really care about very much that I've got here. My job does not pay me very much nor does it offer me any hours. The writing part-- a great joy at first-- has devolved due to business issues. I am now a glorified retail clerk, really, and not a very good one at that, according to them. So, then, underpaid and unappreciated at a job that isn't even the sort of job I should have? Foolishness. Gracious me, Bentley, what's the point? The nice homebase of close friends I once had here has vanished, now people come and go, and I resent them because I should have been much busier than they much sooner. With things that I love. Anyway. All this to say that I have been searching for work and residence out of state, in any place affordable, any place interesting. If things continue as they are, I will unfortunately be left with two options: return to Denton, Texas, where I will die, or retreat to North Dakota, wherefrom my friend Amanda offers me free residence. I would not mind ND at this point. I mean, it will probably depress me and it sure ain't gonna further my career right away, but I could see myself at least writing up there and making some money to pay off the serious debt that is even now breathing its nasty-smelling garlic breath down my neck.

I don't want either of those options. So I continue to apply away to places near and far. I got a call from one of them yesterday, only to learn, tragically, today that they are offering 50 cents less on my salary than I am being paid now, and its a job with people with special needs, and I would have to drive up for an interview (which would be okay, if i might get paid heap'um big moneys, but no). I'm sad now. I had dreams of setting up someplace new and green, someplace I was supposed to be. I'm not supposed to be here. So where am I supposed to be? It really wouldn't be so terrible if I had the consolation of writing and writing well, but I don't even have that now. Therefore I am a vaccuum of money, time, and effort. Tears too.

We rally, though. We read Charles Portis. Bet he didn't use a laptop in the day.

Today is definitely a beautiful day. I am in Santa Barbara using my friend's laptop while she's at work. Driving up the coast this morning I listened to nostalgic 90's tunes and belted them loudly with windows rolled down and all pistons firing. It was a nice moment of solidarity with myself. Hahaha. That reminds me of reading Harriet the Spy as a 10 year old and reading that one part where Harriet goes into the bathroom after something triumphant, gets on the toilet, and writes in her notebook: "i love myself." Strange that I should remember that, exactly, just right now. Anyway, moments like that on the coast (not the toilet) have been reminding me lately to enjoy and love the things that do surround me while they do, because I will miss them when things change. And I will. I will miss all of this so much, even the horrible stuff.

A dude that looks suspiciously like John Tuturro in Barton Fink is sitting at a table a few feet from me. His comically circular, thick glasses, worn sweater, and brooklynese make me like him and dislike him all at the same time.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

To write, or not to write.

So Ulysses really is a heckuva book. It stresses me out trying to read it, so I've taken up Dog of the South, a slightly obscure book by the author of True Grit. It's quite good and has kept up my attention thus far. He is a great writer, I think. I always have mixed feelings about a movie fad shining light on what was nearly forgotten, usually because the people who knew it was there all along feel de-valued, as if their support didn't count. However I'm really glad that the film True Grit has inspired a huge wave of appreciation for Charles Portis. I would not have even known that TG was a novel if it weren't for the Coen Brothers's praise for it, and now reading another of his books (because I couldn't even find a TG copy!) is very rewarding and surprising. And hilarious. And set in Belize.

Anyway. Last week I went to Santa Barbara for a writer's panel that the film festival was putting on. The film fest there has gotten very heavy-duty, with very impressive people showing up every year. Last year I was bummed to miss it, so this year I made an effort. The writer's panel had the writers of Toy Story 3 (or one of them, who also wrote Little Miss Sunshine and is therefore a hero), The Fighter, The Kids Are All Right, The King's Speech, Get Low, and The Social Network-- IE Aaron Sorkin, the one almost-household name in screenwriting (the others are all auteurs, meaning directors also, like Quentin Tarantino, PT Anderson, Wes Anderson, The Coens... most of the great writers are also annoying great directors, or personalities like Tina Fey. I think only Diablo Cody is well-known as a screenwriter, and that's partially due to her loudness and stripper history-- don't get me wrong, I adore her). Sorkin is a really respected man-- I even noticed that on the dvd for the Social Network that his is the first name billed. Impressive, and deserved. Anyway, so it was this lovely panel with all of these amazing people, talking about how they first got involved with their recent projects and how they write and what they do for writer's block, how they managed with some of their stories being based on real-life events, and so on and so on. I got the most out of Sorkin, the writer of King's Speech, and the LMS writer, Michael Ardst. Sorkin is just basically genius. King's Speech writer had a fascinating story about what led him to write the script (he was a stutterer as a child and King George was his hero, he researched Lionel Logue, who, thanks to the royal family, had become a little secreted footnote in George's public story, he contacted the Queen Mother for her approval and she granted it, with the provision that it be written after her death-- she lived another 25 years, as he was writing the movie he discovered his own uncle was a pupil of Logue's, upon the film's overwhelmingly warm reception he began to cry because he felt he, as a stutterer, had finally been heard... yeah, cool guy), and Michael Ardst, the youngest there I think, had alot of applicable, friendly advice. The writers talked about the importance of having WRITING space (a luxury to those starting out), a regime (KS writer gets up, writes in bed, gets up, goes to his window, and writes until midafternoon, when he finally has to give up and chill out or go for a run. If necessary, he will resume after dinner. I thought this sounded like an excellent plan), people who will listen to your ideas. One of the writers, I can't remember which, said that he was once told that the most vital thing to do is pick one point, the finale, to head towards, and think of the entire script as running towards it, every single scene. I think the most valuable suggestion, however, came from Michael Ardst when he was discussing the creation of hilarious Spanish Buzz from TS3 and the VW horn/cop scene in LMS. When you're at a dead end, and your script runs dry, and your characters are in trouble, just make a list of every possible thing that might happen. Even if it's dumb. And your answer will eventually pop up. WHY HAD I NEVER THOUGHT OF THAT? GENIUS. SIMPLE, simple, genius.

After it was all over (it was too short! too short!!!), I got to speak briefly with Kids are All Right writer lady and KS writer guy. KAAR lady was a little pissy with people, but she was nice enough to me and we discussed character a little bit. I didn't like the Kids Are All Right, but I really appreciated the character of Jules who is a lost and kind of apologetic person who's written very well. So we got to talk about her. I also got to tell KS writer fellow how much I liked KS. Me and my parents went to see it, and my dad-- who never goes to movies-- loved it. His way of showing appreciation is slapping his knee and giving the screen a repeated and spirited thumbs-up when a character does something that he likes (no kidding, he really does this), and he did this throughout the movie. It made me think of how much my dad related to King George-- my dad wasn't a stutterer, but he's never felt like he's very smart or could do anything very well, even when he's had to, much like George, and I think he saw himself there. And I keep thinking, how funny, some middle-aged ex-mechanic with a special needs kid in Texas is identifying with a British monarch. That's pretty cool. So anyway, I told the writer this, and he just smiled and shook my hand and said "I like your dad."

Tomorrow I'm going back up to see the virtouso awards, where Hailee Steinfeld from TG will be, as well as other supporting actors from amazing movies this year. I have a weird suspicion that Jeff Bridges will be there, considering he lives in SB and might show up to support HS. One can hope. Anyway.

Dear Ringo has not been working for two weeks, so I've been bike-riding everywhere. This has been a good thing, because I've been meaning to start doing that, and I've felt better physically. Sadly it is VERY hilly in this part of town so coming back to the house is murder. A few days ago I took the beach route and promptly lost my new phone. No phone, no car. And at one point my computer, which really is due to die any day now, threatened to quit me. This combined with my already-feelings of being my own island just about made me crazy. I don't know what it was, but I just felt completely mad, sitting in my room, wondering what on earth I could do to feel like a member of society. I feel so terribly cut off. I mean, I guess that's been one of my little neuroses for years, feeling all alone and disconnected why me bla bla bla, but at present it feels overwhelmingly tangible. I find that generally when I feel this the most that I have been a bit out of contact with God and He's trying to communicate something, but at this point I'm sitting and quietly listening, when I have the energy, and I'm not hearing anything coming down the wire. I feel so left to my own devices-- all of my good friends are gone. I'm left. Bereft. This annoys me. I'm graduated. I should be the girl leaving everyone else. Eventually, is my consolation, but all of my savings (what little there was) is gone now due to cars and phones and I'm still surviving and sulky. Not even sad, really, at present, just sulky like a five year old with a sense of entitlement. Where are MY friends? Where is MY fabulous life? I've really bided my time for 23 years, wouldn't you say? When can I have some real fun? When can I stop feeling lonely, and not vulnerable or pathetic or stupid? I don't have to feel this way for the rest of my life, do I?

An acquaintance and relation to a friend of mine happens to be a mechanic and offered to work on Ringo. While he was doing so, he brought up the fact that he had read a story of mine and loved it, related to it, etc etc... in that second, my heart exploded. Just that bit of appreciation from a nice person, one whom I don't know all that well, made me feel so grateful that I wanted to cry. I fancied him for the whole day, until I realized that I seriously need to get out of here. Or get some help. Or something. I have too much going on in my head to keep it to myself on this island of mine.