Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Romanticism of Writing

There is a certain amount of romanticism to writing. Just look at the film montage that was shown at Sunday's Oscar telecast. However, there are very few movies that accurately portray the writer at work (the worst being Diane Keaton in Something's Gotta Give). But for every romantic idea, there is the harsh realities. It can be pretty fucking boring at times. There have been plenty of times when I sit in front of the computer screen and just stare at the cruel white of a fresh Word document. Then I usually go solve a Soduko puzzle, or check out any number of websites that seem to devour the time I set aside to write.

My desk faces a wall that has a large poster of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid on it. To my right is another wall; this one has a poster of Miller's Crossing. There is the usual mess of miscellaneous papers littering the tiny desk, which get pushed from one side to the other, depending on what I'm looking for. This is my little corner, and for the most part I enjoy it. But it is far from the ideal writing area that has french doors through which you can see a beautiful backyard and garden. But if Soduko can occupy too much of my writing time, just imagine how much time I'd spend admiring the view. So, the corner is good for me.

Of course the garden view would be nice, but I think the ultimate place to write would be a quiet pub where I could sip at a pint of Guinness and tap away at my laptop on a lazy afternoon. As nice as this would be, it would be selfish. I'm not a full-time writer; I have to find pockets of time in order to write. So, I tend to write as I interact with my family. There are plenty of times when my son comes up to me while I'm writing and wants to look at photos on the computer, or watch the lastest trailer for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. There are times when my wife will ask me questions while I'm in the middle of a sentence. And there have been a lot of moments when my daughter needs a bottle - right now! My output would increase tenfold if I did go to that pub and order a glass of stout, but I don't think I'd trade it for the short bursts of interuptions by those I love. Does that make me any less of a writer? I don't think so. That isn't to say that if I ever do become someone who could sustain his family by writing full-time I wouldn't send the kids to daycare during the day while I wrote, but at the moment that isn't the case.

No, my little corner is fine for me. The small desk works OK, and I can continue shuffling papers around as needed. And I can stop every once and a while and watch the TMNT. I'm a writer (and it took me a long time to identify myself as such), I just need to do it my way. Is it the romantic idea of the writing life? I guess for me it is.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Is it me or were the Oscars really boring? It seems that Ellen was trying to be the anti-Jon Stewart, who got a lot of flack for making fun of Hollywood last year. The beginning montage with all of the nominees who have never won an Academy Award was pretty good, but it wasn't as good as the filmed spoofs that Stewart or Billy Crystal have done in the past. And what was up with the gospel choir? That might make a good American Express commercial, but it seemed a little forced for an Awards show.

The best joke was by Robert Downey, Jr. who made fun of his drug addiction. Written with a little help from Carrie Fisher? I love Fisher's writing. She's actually one of my favorite novelists. If you've never read Postcards From the Edge, do so.

OK, the best parts of the Oscars were the wins for Scorsese and The Departed. I would have been a little upset if the National Lampoon Vacation wannabe Little Miss Sunshine had won - not Crash over Brokeback Mountain upset, but close. However, Alan Arkin was very good in that movie and deserved his win. I wonder if someone had a peek at the Director's envelope before the show since three other so called "Movie Brats" of the 1970's were chosen to hand Scorsese his Oscar. For those who aren't familiar with the term, when the old studio system was in crisis at the beginning of the 1970's, a new generation of filmmakers came in and revolutionized Hollywood. Those directors were: George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppolla, Steven Spielberg, Brian De Palma and Martin Scorsese. If De Palma were up on stage then we would have known that who would win had been leaked.

Oh, and the backlash that Scorsese win was with one of his lesser films is bullshit. The Departed was fantastic.

Writer William Monahan and editor Thelma Schoonmaker also deserved their statuettes.

Some of the awards I was disappointed by: Best Original Screenplay to Little Miss Sunshine over Pan's Labyrinth. Labyrinth's loss in the Best Foreign Language Film category (it's three wins were pretty cool, though). Jennifer Hudson's win (Enjoy the high because your journey to oblivion began once you stepped off that stage).

Highlights: the Pilobolus dancers. Michael Mann's montage film on America in the movies (I need to see that again. Even such a short film Mann shows his brilliance). Will Farrell, Jack Black and John C. Reilly's song and dance.

Overall, boring show, but most of the wins went to deserving reciptients. Now, speculation for the 80th Academy Awards... and let's hope they talk Crystal into coming back.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


I got Police tickets! Fenway, July 29. I can't fucking wait.

Monday, February 19, 2007


A good friend of mine has posted a short film he made a few years ago that dealt with his struggle with bi-polar disorder. The film is called Dysphoria. It is very avant-garde and contains some brutal material (not intended for those under 18), but the powerful images and its message won't disappoint. You should check it out.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Mr. Mom No More

I have rejoined the workforce. No more mid-afternoon cuddling with my daughter while listening to Radiohead Lullabies until we both fall asleep. No more sharing movies that she will be too young to watch in a few months - she doesn't mind the violence, language and nudity at the moment. No more messy lunches (of course, we'll always have supper). No more trips to the store whenever we feel like it. No, I'm back to being a normal and responsible adult with a normal schedule.

I have to say that the stay-at-home dad thing wasn't the big boost to my writing output as I had hoped. She seemed to know exactly when I sat down at the Mac - and she sure as shit wasn't going to share her daddy time with any computer. (She also didn't like to share her daddy time when he tried to eat his lunch either.) But I'm hoping now that I have a schedule again, I'll find some time to actually write - or at least be able to eat lunch again.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I'm Such a Geek

I should be ashamed of myself. I went out at midnight last night so I could pick up a copy of Stephen King's Dark Tower comic book. Comic shops around the country opened early this morning so dorks like me could rush out in sub-zero weather just to get their hands on this comic.

OK, the book is fantastic, but it's no excuse for running out in the middle of the night. The last time I did something this geeky was when I spent a day waiting in line for advanced tickets for The Phantom Menace. I'm glad I wasn't disappoint with the results of my nerdness this time.

My wife made fun of me a little bit because I went out, but she already has July 21 blocked out (I think I have to take the kids away for the day) so she can sit with a friend of hers and read the last Harry Potter book, front to back. I stopped at the third one - aren't they just the same book told over and over? But as much as I kid her about it, I can totally understand. And don't get me wrong, my wife is no where near as geeky as I am. Her only geek type activity revolves around Potter and the Lord of the Rings movies (but most of her Tolkein attention is focused on Viggo).

But I have found myself reading comic books again. The Dark Tower book is not the only one I've been reading. I've also been reading Preacher, Fell, 100 Bullets, Hellblazer, The Walking Dead, and a few others. I've also started my son on Spider-Man and Superman, which he loves.

So, I guess I'll embrace my nerdish side. There's no denying it. Say it loud and say it proud:I'm a geek, and always will be.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Beware the Aqua Teen Hunger Force

This is an e-mail response I sent to a listserv of the University of Southern Maine replying to a discussion on terrorism versus freedom of expression after yesterday's "scare" in Boston.

First thing, Free speech is a right, not a privilege. A privilege is your driver's license. However, if the Bush admin. had its way, we'd all need a license for the First Amendment.

On the marketing campaign, these devices were up in every other major city for weeks without a single person calling in. Even after the initial call (when authorities did the right thing by checking it out), the bomb squad should have had enough training to realize that the contraption didn't have any explosives. Yes, they really overreacted and the arrest of the two numbnuts (who made complete asses of themselves) was a CYA move by the Boston police. Even the judge at the arraignment questioned the validity of the charges. Plus, as Stephen Colbert pointed out, if you want to really get people's attention, you'd use Frylock instead of the mooninites.

So, this leaves the question of freedom of expression (even in advertising) versus national security. How much of our freedoms are we willing to sacrifice to feel safe? I think it's funny that there has never been a "there's nothing to fear but fear itself" speech out of this President, but there has been plenty of action to suppress free speech. Of course people are scared. Our government and the press has done nothing to quell these fears. Response to terrorism: attack Iraq - which had nothing to do with Al Queda. In fact, bin Laden hated Hussein and others like him inside the Arab world more than he hated the United States. Misinformation, lack of information and ignorance fuels fear. Take Iran. Right now, the neo-cons are salivating over the chance of invading Iran. But they refuse to tell us, or what they refuse to believe is that Iran is made of a very intelligent population that is ruled by a small group of sadistic, wrong-headed, despiteful, evil, oppressive, scum sucking, idiotic islamic priests. It is the only theocracy in the world. Even President Ahmadineja has very little power, as much as we tend to think differently. But, the majority of Iranians do not like their government. Over the past ten years, protests have ballooned in numbers, people are more outspoken. This has all been met with terrible retribution by the priests to further squash the opposition. But the Iranian people are on the verge of forcing change themselves - as long as the US doesn't fuck it up, which is definitely the road we're on. Diplomacy and openness would be a far better alternative to bombs, as the Baker Commission suggested (and Bush is completely ignoring). But it is the people in power in both Washington and Tehran who manipulate with fear. In the US, it is the fear that terrorists will somehow defeat us (fat fucking chance of that happening); and in Iran, it is the fallacy that Israel (with US backing) will sweep through the Middle East and treat every Arab and Persian as they do the Palestinians. Don't forget that the horrible reign of the (US backed) Shah is still in the memory of many Iranians - the foundation of much of the hatred toward us. Mao said that religion is the opiate of the masses, suggesting faith can be used to manipulate society; but I say fear is the opiate in this new century.

How do you fight this new opiate? Information. And not only within the social sciences, but with culture and the arts. When books and movies cross the borders, the people (not the governments) begin to understand one another. For this reason, those in power continue to squash freedom of speech, because the free flow of information is not in their best interests if they want to control their people. So, it is much easier to blame the Aqua Teen Hunger Force for scaring the shit out of people than it is to blame themselves - and leads one step closer to suppressing the scape goats and red herrings of fear, then stopping themselves.