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Posts Tagged ‘writing’

I resisted watching Californication for quite a while.  There were a couple reasons why I didn’t want to give the show a chance.  First was the name of the show.  I thought it was a pretentious and juvenile name when the Red Hot Chili Peppers came out with the song years back, and found both the music and lyrics supremely lame.  It didn’t help things that the song was a radio “hit” and I heard it all the time.

Second was that it struck me as weird and strange that the role on its surface seemed to hew so close to star David Duchovny’s personal life.  He was married to Téa Leoni, an actress who I’ve always thought was both beautiful and talented, and his marriage fell apart due to his sex addiction.  Duchovny’s role on Californication, Hank Moody, ruins the most important relationships in his life in large part because of his inability to stop sleeping with any willing woman who crosses his path.  Like, if you’re struggling with sex addiction I’m baffled as to why you would take such a role?

So I resisted for six years, despite quite a few actresses on the show that I find gorgeous (Natascha McElhone, Madeline Zima, Mädchen Amick, Eva Amurri, Carla Gugino, Natalie Zea).  Then about a month ago while channel surfing I ran across some reruns on Showtime and, since there wasn’t anything else on settled in and watched a couple shows.

Somehow, I got hooked and went back and started watching the show from the beginning.  I mean, Hank Moody is an emotional wreck, an alcoholic womanizer, self-destructive and emotionally devastating to the people he loves.  But damn it, David Duchovny is so charming and charismatic in the role that I kept finding myself rooting for him despite his many, many flaws (though I did find out later that it’s not just Duchovny but his acting and the writing together that makes the character appealling– the writing took a noticeable dip in Season 3 and the Hank Moody character wasn’t nearly as good as the 1st two seasons, but thankfully the writing seems to have picked up in Season 4).  And the other main characters are largely quite colorful, engaging and entertaining as well.

As I realized that I really liked the show and was going to be watching all the seasons On Demand, I pondered why the show had really hooked me so and realized that it catches me from a lot of different directions.  The core appeal I think is the relationship Hank has with his daughter Becca, and how much he desperately loves her and attempts to keep that relationship alive despite the chaos he brings into his life.  It appeals to me as a dad who tries hard to stay close to my own children despite not living with them.  It also resonates as the son of  an alcoholic womanizer, who was just as self-destructive and emotionally devastating to the people he loves… only my father didn’t make nearly the effort with his kids that Hank Moody does.  So I can watch Hank Moody from his daughter’s perspect as a sort-of “do over” as to how it might have been if my father had made the effort.

Also, Hank Moody is a writer–  a novelist who has also dabbled in screenwriter.  I have long had aspirations of doing both myself, so it’s nice to see a little bit of writers-craft popping up here and there in the storylines.

He’s also madly, deeply and thoroughly in love with fairer sex and admires everything about them, an outlook that resonates with me as well.  Of course, Hank Moody looks like David Duchovny so with those looks and that attitude the character has women dropping their clothes for him far more often that most of us mere mortals out here in the real world.

There are quite a few layers to Hank Moody that make for a compelling character.  At his core, Hank is a damaged boy looking for love and acceptance, which makes him sympathetic.  Wrapped around that core is a self-destructive alcoholic that doesn’t seem to really want to change his ways, which makes him unsympathetic.  Woven into this layer is the womanizing, which taken as a whole is a bad thing, but individually it generally plays into Hank’s love of women and fascination with every woman he meets, which makes it feel less bad and more sympathetic.  The writers also tend to use his encounters with women to generally wreck major havoc in Hank’s life, often in quite humorous ways.

Draped over top of those layers is a mix of funny stuff — a healthy dose of life knocking you down when things are looking up, life kicking you when you’re down, and a revolving door of hilarious recurring characters and guest stars.  Rob Lowe in particular is fucking brilliant in his over-the-top role as a big name Hollywood actor.  And then there are some people who play twisted versions of themselves– Rick Springfield had a recurring role as a total degenerate version of himself.

Particularly fascinating is watching daughter Becca grow up, from a pre-teen in Season 1 to a college freshman in Season 4, and how her relationship with her father has evolved.

When I started watching the show I thought that the series had ended, but I’ve now learned that there will be a final season next year.  I’m certainly curious to see how the stories end for Hank Moody and the characters in his life.  I suspect there are going to be at least a few sad endings in store, but the eternal optimist in me is hoping for more happy endings in the balance.  It’s been a heckuva ride so far.

Have any of y’all watched the show?

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See the tabs at the top of my blog?  One is my “About” page and one is called “Best Of.”  I created the Best Of page to make it easier for readers to find some of the posts that I or others consider some of my best writing here without having to wade through the blog month by month, searching for keywords, or clicking tags.  It occurred to me that I haven’t updated my Best Of page in over a year… so I have corrected it.

Enjoy!

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So after I loaded and posted my rather poor, poor pitiful me blog yesterday, WordPress congratulates me on my 2 Year Blogiversary (back on May 26th)… making me feel rather guilty about spoiling such an occasion with such a downer!  So let me remedy the situation with a proper bit of retrospect and introspect…

May 26th, 2011 I put up my very first blog post (…She’d Be Creative).  I’d been separated for over a year and was beginning to try and figure out what the next phase of my life would look like.  One thing I knew was that didn’t want to spend it alone, and I’d been doing a lot of thinking about things I’d learned from my failed marriage, and what sort of person I’d like to share my life with in the future.  Since there are a lot of single people out there, and a lot of divorced people out there, I thought writing my blog through that perspective would give it focus and a narrative that people could relate to and hopefully find interesting.

I go into more depths about the origin of this blog in the retrospective I wrote one year ago today (My Ideal Woman — One Year and Counting!).

I have to say, I’ve found it harder and harder of late to find stuff to write about here.  While I’ve been around the block a few times in my years, my experiences with the opposite sex is rather limited compared to many people my age and gender, especially given my self-imposed moratorium in writing much about my ex.  She and I had a very long and tangled story over the years, and given that we share children who are still very young I don’t feel comfortable airing too many details here in a public space.  She has certainly inspired quite a few thoughts and musings on this blog, but mostly I’ve kept it anonymous who and what specifically I was talking about.

Of course, when I started this blog I’d hoped that I’d have been able to get out there and meet people — women specifically — as friends and maybe more, and figured this blog would build on my musings of my past and hopes of the future with reflections on the present.  Obviously, that hasn’t happened, and so my updates to this blog have seriously floundered of late.  For that, dear readers, I apologize!  Because I write this blog not only for the good it does me to gather my thoughts in an orderly way, but also for the great feedback I get from so many of you.  WordPress tells me I’ve gotten 1,095 comments from you these past two years, and that there are 103 followers of my blog.  That’s both mind-blowing and humbling.  Your words have sustained me these past two years– you’ve brought me smiles when I’m feeling down, you’ve made me laugh, you’ve made me think, and you’ve brought me changes in perspective.  You’ve given me confirmation that while I might sometimes be lonely, I’m not really alone– that my words aren’t just flashes of electrons in the silent darkness, but that there are some really awesome people out there who read me, who care what I think, and are moved by what I’ve written enough to share their own thoughts and reactions.

So in honor of you, and the time and energy you’ve invested in My Ideal Woman over these past two years, I pledge to do better.  Sure, life isn’t really unfolding as I’d thought it might, but honestly, when does it ever?  I’ve got some ideas for things to write about that will hopefully bring up the level of new content here, and hopefully you’ll find it worthy of your time and your comments going forward.

Now damn it, where’s that football?

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Words for Dad

When it started to become clear that Dad was not going to be making it out of the hospital, I left for a little while to go to work.  On the drive in, I started thinking about his funeral.  I’m a very emotional guy, and when I go to funerals tears flow freely and I get choked up.  Often at funerals there’s a time where people can stand up and say a few words about the dearly departed.  Many times there were words I wanted to say, thoughts I wanted to express, but then my throat would catch and the tears would flow and I’d remain rooted to the seat and the thoughts would remain in my mind.  I just knew that if I stood up to try and say something I’d just start sobbing and be unable to string together a coherent thought.

I knew that no one would expect me to get up and speak at my father’s funeral… and yet, at my core I’m a writer, and words are what I do– they’re as much a part of me as my arms and legs.  I felt that I had to put together words to eulogize Dad and I wanted to try and share them with family and his friends.  I know that I could have simply printed it out and handed it to people to read, but that seemed like the easy way out.  You only get one chance to say your final goodbye to your father, and speaking the words I wrote was the best way I could think to do it.

I printed it out in large font, front and back, stocked up on quite a few tissues, and went on up.  I know reading from a sheet of paper doesn’t make for the best public speaking, but I figured it would help keep me focused and keep me from choking up.  I did try and look up some during the eulogy, and I somehow managed to make it through, in large part I think because I did my best to inject some humor into the words to battle back the tears.  Everyone seemed to love what I had to say, and that made me even more happy with the decision to speak.

I’ve got the entirety of the eulogy behind the cut.

(more…)

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Hi all!  Sorry I haven’t updated in a while… I have to admit, I’ve been distracted by a new toy.  No, not THAT kind of toy, sheesh– where your mind leaps to when I let it!! 😉  No, my ancient and decrepit cell phone was really starting to become a problem with a lot of quirks and issues that I finally gave in to Verizon’s incessant reminder that I’ve eligible for an upgrade for months now.  As I perused the options available to me — and reading the feedback comments for each device — the only newish phone that didn’t cost a mint that had nearly universal praise was the iPhone 4 (the original iPhone 4 from about a year ago, not the newest iPhone 4S).  Everyone seemed to love it, and since I’m already 1/3 of the way into the iPool with my iPod/iTunes, I figured– why not?  The deal was good, the phone looked sweet, and I felt ready to see what the hub-bub over smart phones was all about.

I got the phone Monday afternoon.

a screenshot of my actual phone

Those of you with smart phones are probably smiling and totally grok what’s happened to me all week.  Yeah, I’ve been sucked in by all the super-sweet stuff this phone does, downloading apps, browsing the net, staying in touch with all my social networks whenever I feel like it.  Trying out the camera and the video recorder, making ringtones.  It’s nuts!  It’s awesome!  How/why had I resisted so long?!?!

Of course, one of the first things I downloaded was the Word Press app, and I’m pretty stoked about that.  See, some of you write some rather risque stuff (some with pics!), and honestly most of the time I have for checking the computer comes when I’m at either my full or part-time jobs.  Neither place I feel totally comfortable rolling the dice and checking my blog reader at… plus, at my part-time job at night the computer and browser are so ancient and out-of-date that I can’t even bring up the reader there.  It kinda blows my mind that I can bring up the Word Press reader on my phone there but not on the computer…  Anyway now, with this app, I can pull up the reader anytime and see what you guys are writing about without worrying about curse words or details about sex or raunchy pictures.  I’m stoked!  I feel like I’ve been a bad blog follower of late because the only time I’m able to really keep up is late at night once I get home after my two jobs.

Now, finding time to compose some blogs… that’s a different story.  Trying to type stuff on the phone is maddening to someone who’s fingers fly typing on a keyboard as fast as mine do.

So, my questions are:   how’ve y’all been?  Anything big going on I might have missed?

And, most importantly… what are the MUST HAVE apps for a smart phone?!? 😉

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My friend Silly G has created a new blog, partly inspired by a flurry of fun Tweets regarding cocktails, BBQ, hot tubbing and flash parties.  If you love grilling and love cocktails (and seriously, who doesn’t?) then be sure to check out her blog and give her lots of encouragement to share more of her tasty creations!!!  She’s a talented writer and quite fun to read.

Link Love ====> Sear To Perfection

Her About Page is very amusing, here’s part of her story there:

One day missgrill decided to start looking for love.  She had heard over and over again that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.   In the attempt to hook a man, she started barbequing like never before.

Without a single visible burn scar , she boasts the following major dating accomplishments since May 2011:

  • burned 1000 kg of lump charcoal
  • grilled 1 million rib-steaks
  • mixed 442.7 cups of rub
  • too many dates that watched her light charcoal cause they’d never seen it before.
  • barbequed 350 racks of ribs
  • sucked back 682 cases of beer

All this and she has yet to hook the man the man of her dreams.

One day missgrill decided she was sick of spending too much money on prime cuts of meat to feed dates that never became her man.  “Enough is enough.  No man gets the privilege of tasting my barbeque until he has proven his worth.”

From that point on she barbequed just for herself and her friends.

(Oh, and her original blog about love, life, and relationships is great fun too—->  Three Months to Forty)

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I’ve talked a couple times before about the Virginia Screenwriters Forum and my hopes for rejoining the group (Musings on Sex Scenes, Climbing Out of the Social Void?).  I was an active member for about six years before having to drop out nine years ago due to the time pressures of two small children and picking up a part-time job to go along with my full-time job.  Well, last night I was finally able to attend their monthly meeting!

The bad news is that it’s a much less comfortable venue than it used to be.  Before, we got to meet in this really plush conference room in the basement of one of the downtown banks, with a huge hardwood table surrounded by these super-comfortable leather seats.  Man, it was nice!

Nowadays the group meets in a multi-purpose room in old renovated warehouse that has been converted into a public Arts building called Art Works.  They push together two much smaller tables, and there are flimsy folding chairs to sit in.

Still, comfort aside, there was something electrifying sitting around the table with 15 other writers, talking about storycraft and the nuts and bolts of screenwriting.  In my very first post here on my blog (…She’d Be Creative) I talked about how much I missed being surrounded by that sort of creative energy, so even as I worried about the chair collapsing beneath me, I felt like I was home and surrounded by “my people.”

After news and VSF business is gotten out of the way, we get into critiquing the first 30 pages of the two scripts for the meeting.  After the screenwriter talks a little bit about his script, each member is given the floor for 3 minutes to offer a constructive critique.  Then things are opened up for an open discussion with back-and-forth between the writer and the group, with suggestions and brainstorming.

I was a bit nervous about whether or not to say anything during my 3 minutes.  As a “guest” I was told I could just listen in without having to say anything.  But I’d read the scripts and the old screenwriting muscles had kicked in, and I had a few ideas I wanted to share.  My heart pounding in my chest, worried I might say something stupid due to being extremely rusty, I went ahead and spoke.

The writer was attentive and took notes.  The others around the table smiled at me, nodded, even jotted down some notes too.  By the end of the 3 minutes I felt much more at ease, and my confidence grew that maybe I still had “it,” or at least a rusty remnant.

To make things even better, there were some women around the table wearing no wedding bands, ranging in age from 20 years younger to about 10 years older, all of them radiating that creative writer’s spark.  I wanted them to read my writing!

To make things even more better (heh), the group has received some grant monies to expand its services beyond the monthly meetings.  Starting next year, every quarter they’re going to have local actors read our 30 page scripts in front of family, friends, and anyone from the general public who wants to come, held at a really cool local theater downtown.  This will allow our writers regular opportunities to mingle with actors, stage managers from the theater, and any casting agents or other people in the business of making movies who might show up.  As a new member, my script will go to the bottom of the list of seniority, but I can still get a charge from listening to the others and meeting all these creative people.  And eventually, someone on that stage will be reading something I wrote…

The VSF is now on summer hiatus, and will resume meetings in September, so I’ve got the rest of the summer to write 30 pages, polish it, and submit to the reading committee.  I’ve had a movie idea that’s been percolating in my mind for about 5 years now, but as I drove home details started bubbling up to my mind.  I thought about it last night as I drifted off to sleep.  Today at lunch I could barely read my book because scenes and characters kept popping in my brain.  Finally I just had to cut lunch off early and pound out about 800 words, worried that I might forget some of the cool stuff that has suddenly started jumping inside me.

(this is NOT an actual screenshot of my script…)

I’m two and a half pages on my way…  of course, maybe I need to also re-read some of my old screenwriting books too 😉

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