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February 17th, 2013

I've done all the dumb things

It's a learned skill, figuring out an idea is a bad idea. As actual writers know, you have to generate so many of the buggers. Douglas Adams said, "An idea is only an idea. An actual script, on the other hand, is hundreds of ideas bashed around, screwed up, thrown into the bin, fished out of the bin an hour later and folded into thick wads and put under the leg of a table to stop it wobbling. And then the same again for the next line, and the next, and so on, until you have a whole page or the table finally keels over."

(Written before word processors, but you get the point.)

In thinking again about the story I'm trying to finish, dammit, I remembered what I once considered for its ending and thought Whoa, it's good I didn't actually write that. It was, in retrospect, terrible and possibly insulting to my friends who are New Yorkers. (It was a Matrix-y explanation for why 9/11 happened.)

OK, let's see if I can get out the other bad ideas, from both my works and others':

  • I drew a one-page comic strip in high school about a day in the life for a guy in the future. At the end, his home computer (somehow) panics as it warns him that police are about to arrest him. OK, computer panic is weird enough, but at first I wrote it not only panicking and warning him, but also saying "I love you I love you I love you..." Maybe it thought that was its last chance to say so? I came (partly) to my senses and erased those lines. The ending still didn't make much sense, though.

  • Earlier, in junior high when I knew less, I wrote a junior high-level bit of satire for the irregularly-published school paper about a bad day at school. An exaggerated, everything-goes-wrong day at school. Relatable, at least! (Though I think I wrote it in second person, with "you" this and "you" that. Arty.) But how to end it? I'm not sure why I ended with my main character relieved that a teacher told him not to worry about working in the class, as it was an art class. What teacher ever tells a student to slack off? And I'm sure I wasn't making a point like "art class is worthless," because I KNEW ART WAS AND IS IMPORTANT AND VITAL AND OFTEN REALLY FUN -- and I definitely got into art come high school -- but if I were making that point, I could've really sold the idea. Why would the character be relieved? Plus that's no real twist. The story petered out. I know, endings are hard.

  • Another junior-high-era story (by the way, like most of us, I didn't experience junior high so much as survive it) had a student fight a monster that burst out of the gym floor, Hellmouth-on-Buffy the Vampire Slayer-style...then get into trouble for being late to his next class. The end, followed by paraphrasing Will Smith's rap song: "So to you, all the kids all across the land, there's no need to argue, TEACHERS just don't understand!" OK, that at least reflects my fondness for how "Weird Al" Yankovic writes new lyrics to songs (more cleverly than that, but still), but WOULDN'T THE TEACHER HAVE HEARD THE GIANT EXPLOSION? Or at least have heard of it? Like, someone had run down the hall and yelled to everybody "Holy crap, there's a crater in the school gym floor"? Teachers notice stuff! Especially obvious stuff!

    Teachers, I apologize for my unfair characterization of y'all.

  • Okay, I actually think this is a good idea, but I can't do anything about it as it's for a book I refuse to read ever again: Eoin Colfer's And Another Thing.... I was annoyed by the attempted follow-up to Douglas Adams's The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, and very early in the book, the one glimmer of hope I had that it'd be worthwhile petered out: Colfer describes an old man, and the description made me think Maybe that's main character Arthur Dent...but old and having gone back and forth in time and space so that, somehow, he's become the Man in the Shack who's so important in the second Hitchhikers novel! Think about it: Arthur Dent, ruler of the universe! Even if he is addled. That excited me. It seemed elegant. Then I read on and found that that was not so...and my interest deflated. (I was surprised recently to find that Colfer's book actually got some good reviews; when it was reissued in paperback, it had no blurbs, which I took to mean there were no positive reviews to quote.)

  • I loved the 1980s TV show Sledge Hammer! Certain the show would be cancelled after Season 1, the show runners ended the season with Sledge accidentally nuking Los Angeles. We then saw a cartoony painting of a wrecked L.A. (as Sledge's boss Capt. Trunk yelled "Hammerrrrrrr!") and the words "To Be Continued/ Next Season?" I was happy when the show got renewed; I was less impressed when the Season 2 premiere just said the second season took place five years before the events of Season 1. A cop out! Outrageous!

    I would've been happy with a deus ex machina beginning. Because I'd seen the episode of The Young Ones where God shoots lightning to first shock a character then cook a chicken, I wanted God to turn out to be a Sledge Hammer! fan. God, shocked by the ending, would turn back time and find a way to keep the bomb from ever being a threat in the first place. Then the show would go on like nothing had happened! Extreme solution, but dammit, that's better than a cop out. Except maybe the producers decided it should be a copout, to make fun of copout endings of other shows. My idea? Too involved for that. But I can still picture it. Like I can picture this:

  • "Mistah Kurtz? He Dad."




    (Entry title from this song! I like this song.)

  • Tags:

    "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"

    A bullet-point review of/ thought collection on yesterday's movie, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey:

  • It's a comforting movie, and that's a quality I like. Yeah, that's the word: I like being in this world, or at least the interpretation of it that Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and now Guillermo Del Toro (plus many others) have given us. I went in knowing that the film was partly awkward: while the first trilogy of films was telling the most important story in Middle Earth's history, this version of The Hobbit is telling about part of a thing that will become the most important story in Middle Earth's history, so it's not as epic -- and, of course, J.R.R. Tolkien's source material is simpler, more kid-friendly and more episodic than what he later wrote in The Lord of the Rings. But the filmmaking language Jackson et al are using is the same language used for their version of the epic part. That (and the length since they're expanding this relatively slight novel into three films) has been awkward for some viewers, but I tried to be prepared for that. And I just appreciated seeing the world again, going through it at a mostly slower pace.

  • So I smiled a lot. And got worried at times, appropriate to the more dramatic moments. I wasn't as moved by this film as I was by moments in the earlier films -- keep in mind, I choked up at the Ents marching to war in The Two Towers -- but I accepted that as a consequence of this being a smaller story. And it still works lots better than Jackson's version of King Kong, but I'm not sure that's a high bar. (I also haven't seen Jackson's adaptation of The Lovely Bones.)

  • By the way, was it good or bad that none of the trees Bilbo, Gandalf and the dwarves got caught in were Ents? They may have been able to more easily get away, but also, OH NO ENTS BURNING AND AT RISK OF FALLING...

  • One of the dwarves seemed like Dwarf Karl Urban. Wonder if terri_osborne agrees or disagrees with that comparison. I know she doesn't mind being reminded of Karl Urban.

  • "Oh good, that's not real bird s***." -- actual thought I had after first seeing Sylvester McCoy as the wizard Radagast.

  • No surprise, the technology that creates the image of Gollum is incredibly well-done -- and definitely advanced from The Return of the King, which is good and to be expected since that film's almost 10 years old. (Whoa.) And I'd been impressed with how they'd done Gollum back then; I was even more impressed now. (I've been impressed with Andy Serkis's performance from the start.)

  • I waited to see this because I didn't want to get too wrapped up in my fellow geeks' "ZOMG WE ALL MUST SEE THIS" reaction when it came out -- and honestly, I wasn't sold on making the story into three films, though I sort of understood why they'd first wanted to make it into two films. So I'm keeping a slight distance from it. In fact, I'd initially thought that I'd wait until the film was playing in one of Portland's many second-run theaters. I'm stil glad I saw it, but I don't know if I'll revisit this trilogy the way I revisit the LotR films. It'll have to do with how well the filmmakers stick the landing on this trilogy. I'll hope, but not with baited breath. Besides, I like breathing.
  • Rearrange the letters in 'phantom'...

    ...and you get "Phat Nom."

    A Phat Nom would be the Best Meal Ever.

    That is all.

    More

    More. It's possible. Doing more, I mean.

    I was going to post about how I visited the century-old SE Portland skating rink that, if you're a Leverage fan, you saw in the episode "The Van Gogh Job," and left with a flier for the hours and events at the rink because I'd like to roller-skate again...but it'd be much more interesting to post about how I'd gone skating again, right?

    I can't do that yet. And I'm worried I'll set off a little personal mental landmine: too often, when I say "I want to do something" or "I'm going to do something," it's as if the thinking of that thought makes me feel I've already done what I said I wanted to do.

    Thinking ain't the same as doing, but sometimes I have to tell myself that.

    Oaks Park is a neat place. It's also a manageable trip to there from my place -- I walked there and back this afternoon -- so I should take advantage. The rink there is open at least six days a week, sometimes more; it's only $6 a skate; I should take advantage of that! I HAVE THE LEGS FOR ROLLER-SKATING. And the ankles. But I haven't.

    I may not have roller-skated since the 1980s; maybe I last did it in the 1990s, but that's unlikely. I've never used in-line skates. I can't remember if I've ever ice-skated; I'm guessing no. Doesn't interest me. Roller-skating does. So why haven't I done it?

    Chris, I'm giving you permission to do it one of these weekends. You'll like it. Sincerely, me.

    I still had a good walk to the rink then up to SE 13th Ave., the central street of Sellwood, while being impressed at the sight of the moved-over Sellwood Bridge (seriously, last month engineers lifted the bridge and moved it over, 30 to 60-plus feet, to temporary supports so a new bridge can be built where the bridge used to be; HOW OFTEN DO YOU MOVE A BRIDGE?!), enjoying the moderately cool weather, and getting some reading in. But I tend to do that. You know I walk a lot; you know I read a lot; but how many times can I say that?

    I can say more. I can do more.

    Later Edit: Also, people play roller derby at the Oaks Park rank. It's a lot like this (as kylecassidy photographed it; scroll down). I COULD WATCH THAT. Why haven't I?