Friday, December 11, 2009

Progress report: 11'2 thru 11'24

A lot of notes that I now have to sum up. This is the second post based on my mid-October thru early Dec bout of note making. It's a bit depressing because I've spent my life this way, making notes for unwritten fiction. By now the process feels dumb even when it's working. Yes, I'm getting results, but couldn't there be a smarter way of doing so, a way that doesn't drag out so long it takes up phases of my life? [ update,  Also, I notice that I have eight days listed with "nothing." Eight days off out of 23 is going pretty easy on yourself. ]

Anyway, I filled a notebook and a half, 320 pages of longhand. 

I recapped maybe the first third of the material here. Now to resume:

Nov. 2    11:47 am thru 4 pm 
  spec about cables underfoot in sound stage, scene between Harry and Constance at Tony's garden party, pretty well fleshed out, lasts 3 pages, back to lot layout, list all tech personnel present for a shoot, where are unused lights kept?, diagram of set and soundstage, diagram of zones of traffic from sound stage door to set, what's difference between head grip and gaffer?

Nov. 3     nothing

Nov. 4     nothing 

Nov. 5     4:50 pm thru 8:50 pm
   lot layout: where Louie's office, where design guys? if shows share building, do Eppinger and Michaelman run into each other on the stairs? layout of show's 2 floors, whose office goes where (makes more sense when I remember to include projection room), list when different producers started, finished
   extras: remarks of thuggish med students at next table, plus notes about possible pop history books 

Nov. 6     12:30 pm thru 5:25 pm
  3 pages of describing Caesar's assassination based on what I remember reading God knows where
  more floorplans for where the offices go

Nov. 7     nothing

Nov. 8     nothing

Nov. 9     nothing

Nov. 10    11:50 am thru 4 pm
   emblem design sketches, plus how the emblem sparked art director to do Outpost: Eppinger insists on summit meetings of design team; costume designer described, his love life; Taj's horn and its last-minute design change; evolution of Taj's part, its alienness

Nov. 11     nothing

Nov. 12    3:05 pm thru 6:10 pm
   more emblem design sketches, Epp's summit meetings again, how he and art director (Palfroy) hit on final design for Outpost, cast changes from pilot to series, CG's views on acting, the actors who were dropped after pilot, Donegal's role in show, back to the layout for Top Deck (Command, Deck 1, whatever it's called).

Nov. 13    1:35 pm thru 5:35 pm
   sketches of Deck 1 layout, now with the double wishbone turned into curve broken in middle by Harry's command post. Still don't know if curves toward or away from Harry's post.
   Harry's buttons panel; Palfroy (the art director) and E, their fizzled friendship; Len's view of his daily life; how Len rallies the affiliates to keep the show on the air -- pages and pages about that.

Nov. 14     2:55 pm thru 6 pm
   table of when different design elements of series were decided; the Hyacinth design guy and how he figured in the process; how his ideas bounced thru Palfroy's thinking to provide key elements of the final sets, but switched around and repositioned; Palfroy's experience of the design process; Epp and Perry Bren, the costume designer; uniforms

Nov. 15     1:10 pm thru 2:10 pm
    first and final cast lineups compared for ethnicity; the Korean cast member

Nov. 16     1:35 pm thru 3:45 pm, 4:05 pm thru 5:55 pm
    rundown of characters' viewpoints;
    CG and Doug; CG and acting, his rise, his character's style; CG meets with producer about giving Taj a "signature"; evolution of character's rationale and schtick, that of his character's alien race (the Suvok). 

Nov. 17     1:46 -- 5:47 pm
    CG's view of acting; Seven Samurai and Taj; more about CG's rise, its ups and downs; more about Taj's style; Harry in 1970s, a king among the fans; CG's and Olsen's acting tics; CG's acting technique, what he looks for in a "good" scene

Nov. 18     2:35 -- 5:38 pm
    Olsen's physical habits when scene is being shot; more on CG's view of acting, how it ties into his view of life; CG's "sucking-in" for Taj; how producers/writers handle CG/Taj; Olsen as actor; Olsen and CG's late-series disgruntlement; CG recalling Len's "Life Is Fair" triumph, making it sound like Len was being obsequious. 

Nov. 19    nothing

Nov. 20   nothing

Nov. 21    3:20 -- 6:20 pm
  [ had to write this on back of pp. 175-79 "Sky Facts" printout because I forgot notebook ]
  Olsen and acting, his "high attack"style, his attempts to impose a rhythm for the whole scene, other people's parts as well, and the resulting conflicts w/ directors; descriptions of some directors; Olsen marking scripts, remarking them after dir shoots down his scene ideas
  Bolton's viewpoint
  matchup between fan memories and real-life origins of same
[ extra: fantasy novel sketch about kids stranded in empire of Sujok Taj ]

Nov. 22  3:35 -- 5:55 pm
   Tony and acting, Harry and acting -- his embarrassment over sci-fi, the pervasiveness of the kiddie-stuff feel and how it bows his spirit; damn boots that don't fit; how his embarrassment shows up in line readings, fan memories of same

Nov. 23  12:45 -- ?, 5:12 -- ?
    Harry's declining role in show; how Harry, Cg and Washington Ferris react to Olsen's on-set power plays

Nov. 24    1:10 -- :55, 2:22 -- 5:21 pm
    Tony and Olsen, course of Tony's career in series; W. Ferris and his worldview, career in series
    [ couple pages about Cafe staff, false starts to short stories about superheroes.
       Nice parody blank verse about being a critic:
  The juice that wiggles, the nose that selects,
   the acumen that admits no lacuna. 

And now someone being a jerk in Joe Mankiewicz-ese:
   I am never wrong. But sometimes my truths are inappropriate to their context.  ]

    ** Still need to go down episode list and mark CG's ups and downs **

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Political styles

Just saw a clip of Alan Grayson, a Fla rep who’s the Dems’ designated loudmouth. He comes off like one of those top-of-the-minors “hip” comedians who do commentary about celebrities for cable shows.  He’s not bad at it, has some authority and style, but the Republicans would never use him. Their loudmouths are more like car salesmen, brash and definite as opposed to drawling and definite. Whether or not they’re gay, you’re not supposed to think they are, whereas with Grayson gayness is a clear possibility and wouldn’t make much difference to his act.

Clip via TMP.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A typical Canadian-American encounter

After nine years of knocking around Montreal, I've finally managed to get thru the paper work and become a recognized legal resident. I'm not a citizen yet, that's a couple years down the road, but I'm going to get health coverage and pay taxes up here. 

Yesterday and today I visited the government bureaus where you receive your Social Insurance number (like our Social Security number) and apply for your Medicare card (like nothing we have in the U.S. unless you're 65 and up and/or live in Massachusetts.

All went smoothly. At each office you file in the door, get a slip of paper, sit in bucket seats and look at a screen where your number comes up. Then you go off to have papers stamped and/or handed to you by a bureaucrat sitting without very much desk space and not at all far from other bureaucrats. Everyone is polite and they know what they're doing. I guess I waited 20 minutes at the Social Insurance office before a lady talked to me. That was by far the longest wait at either office. My dealings with the lade herself took maybe five minutes.

She was 40ish, a blond English Canadian of a type that I think may not be so common here in Montreal, radiating benign nicey-niceness. She spoke good French from what I heard, which you don't expect from someone so wheat-blond.
I offended her because, when she was explaining to me what a Social Insurance number was, I caught on a bit early. "Oh, okay, it's like Social Security," I said. "We've got something like that. Okay, I'm all used to all that." The last bit was to let her know I knew all about what she was explaining at the moment, namely the precautions one must take not to let one's number slip out.

She kept on, explaining how the program provided for old-age pensions, and I said, "Right, yeah, it really sounds like a close equivalent."

A few moments later she handed me my number on a printout, and I said goodbye. It surprised me that she was glaring. For the moment before I left, when I looked at her to say bye, she no longer seemed benign.

Thinking about it later, I figured she wasn't used to being interrupted. To tell the truth, what put the thought in my head was the memory of my brother quoting a sitcom, How I Met Your Mother, that sent the characters up to Ontario. One of the characters was Canadian but living in the U.S., and the fellow behind the Tim Horton's counter reproached her as no longer being a true Canadian. "You come in here talking fast and not saying hello," etc. Maybe he also said she interrupted.

Anyway, that's me, the American cutting short the Canadian, signing up for the government's generosity and taking about the program in question as an "equivalent" of one back home in the U.S. The arrogance of it, eh? No thought of fitting in.

On the other hand, my French has become halfway decent over my decade here, and at the Medicard office (run by Quebec, not Canada proper) I had the pleasure of speaking with a pretty young woman who dropped English and switched to French once we established that she would speak slowly. In general I like the French Canadians more than the English, but I think everyone says that except for English Canadians.    

Ah well

Joe Klein faults Obama's Afghanistan speech:

Ronald Reagan would have done it differently. He would have told a story. It might not have been a true story, but it would have had resonance.

I'd prefer a true story, thank you. Had enough of the other kind last time around.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Am I my crazy politician-author's keeper?

Sullivan links to "an interesting and intellectually honest" post about Palin's book by some kind of Christian winger. The winger thinks the book gives no indication Palin has a "political or governing philosophy." After reading it, in fact, he's pretty sure the ex-gov is minus "the intellectual skills needed to be an effective President." The fellow adds, "Most important, she does not seem to recognize this and shows no sign of getting them." Poor Palin is "sensitive to the charge she is 'dumb,'" he tells us, "but has not been given the tools or the teachers who can help her." He tacks on this troubled parenthetical: "(Has she sought them out?)"

Yet the man still digs the lady: "She seems a splendid person who has lived a remarkable life ..." So the winger must be classified as a critical Palinite, which is quite different from a non-Palinite. The identifying mark of his kind shows up in the "has not been given" comment. Lovers of Lady Dynamite think that not much actually depends on this vigorous, stand-up, take-charge leader of guys and gals ("an effective mayor and governor," says the winger, "an excellent chief executive in Alaska"). For anyone else, the standing assumption would be that intellectual development is impossible without some voluntary seeking after knowledge and understanding; we call it curiosity and having a mind of your own. To a Palinite, this consideration can be at best an afterthought, a dull twinge that shows up in parentheses. Nothing is up to her, no matter how close to home it may lie.

Dig this:

Her publisher did not fact check this book well (if at all). She was badly served by her publisher and editor. People who criticize me for nit-picking her use of quotations miss the point. I am a fan . . . though now a weary one . . . and I found the errors. The publisher had to know that her critics would check every fact.

In short, he found out that this "splendid person," in giving "her side of things," could not be trusted to tell the truth. And he decides that this is the fault of her publisher, who should have hired someone to take the lies out of her mouth like an orderly taking sharp objects away from a mental patient. And why should the publisher have done this? Because otherwise Palin's enemies would have more ammunition to use against her.

Why is that HarperCollins's problem? They're not in charge of her political viability or personal reputation. She is. But a Palinite knows only love, not reason. Sarah is the sun, and her shortcomings are clouds imposed on her radiance from without.

update, I must disclose that Andrew Sullivan also feels that HarperCollins is at fault for not requiring the use of a fact checker. But I think he just has it in for Adam Bellow.

Friday, November 27, 2009


I just spoke out boldly in a thread at the Comics Journal message board. Why? Because something was being said that struck me as obviously wrong. Yet stating the obvious took me 45 minutes and a sizable block of text. If anyone takes notice of my post, I'll find that my key points have been ignored and that I have misconstrued key parts of the posts that I'm responding to. How ghastly it all is. How I wish I could go to bars instead.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Progress report: Nov. 1

This is really depressing. I've been working on my novel for years and years and years, and that's understating it. Now I've added this extra lump of a project, the blogging of my day-to-day progress. How could it be anything but a waste of time? And yet I don't want to back down and lose face with my nonexistent audience. Which is the same reason I'm still trying to write the book.


Nov. 1: I find written down: "11:30 am to 2:10 pm, read turq[uoise] folder material, edited book excerpts, Len's waiting for Janey at drugstore, etc." This means that I dug out a turqoise folder full of drafts and notes, and that I wrote in line edits for excerpts from pretend books and for a disturbing little scene where the hero waits for his girlfriend in downtown L.A. and wonders what if she's left him, would his life actually feel like a better fit if he didn't have to love someone?

Then: "2:25 pm to :50, these notes." That means I spent 25 minutes writing two pages of notes: What sets would my fictional tv show have, how many guys would be needed to move a segment of a set, what segments would make up the show's various sets, on what decks would the various locales represented by the sets be found. (My fictional tv show is about a space station that is divided into "decks," as in Deck 1, Deck 2, etc.)

The notes show that this was the day that I hit on an idea I especially like: each major set assigned to a deck would have the same centerpiece: a round, black-metal stand on which is placed a duo of off-kilter almost-rectangles that are made of glass and lit up with a different color, depending on the function of the deck in question (blue for science, red for engineering, I suppose). The idea is that these sites are all redresses of the same basic set. The difference in the centerpieces' color would underline the differences between the sets; the similarity in the centerpieces' shape and position would underline that all parts of the space station belong to a single greater entity.

Then: "10:30 pm thru 12:30 pm." Notes about which sets would be in which sound stage, speculation about how much movement between sound stages there would be -- get all the scenes done in one sound stage before moving to the next, or switch back and forth? More of that sort.

A name for one of the tv show's characters: Valerie Korova.

Parody of a parody of T. S. Eliot:

The unsought corridor, the unwelcome grave,
the smile that yields no deliverance.
Rough calculations to an uncertain end, with failure
the foredestined shrub of our diminutive landscape.

Admittedly, the bit about the shrub and the landscape is a bit rich even for a parody.