Tag Archives: writing

Lest we forget!

I know!

I’m always either talking about my upcoming new house, or about cruising around the Hinterlands in my nifty Honda Fit, or about how much I love animals, even when the deer were munching merrily away  on all my various blossoming flowers all summer — it’s easy to forget that I’m actually A Writer!

Well, lest we forget, I’ll take a quick moment to remind you that I am one!! And yesterday, the prestigious Black List gave my Untitled Cleveland Drama TV pilot script (aka Cleveland’s Burning) a really positive review!! I was so thrilled.

It began, “There are some really engaging stories teed up for all the characters in the Robinson family that allow anyone watching to get invested in some aspect of the show. ”

And closed with, “This series has potential. The story itself provides an interesting way into the fight on civil rights and does a great job of bringing the audience in through the lens of the Robinson family. The members of the family are all set on their own journeys that are ripe with great character drama and conflict that could create a compelling series.”

So, off we go, gang!! It really just made my day.

On other fronts: the appraisal of the new house is happening Monday (!!) and after that, we CLOSE and the house becomes MINE! Then I will actually feel like I’m really moving & I can announce it to everybody. Explaining the new house to my cats will be at the top of my list of things to do. I know they will be really excited.

Some of my cats when they’re really excited!

Okay, gang. I’m going to go collapse on the couch for awhile and watch an old Sherlock Holmes movie on my iPad. Now that the weather’s warming up, I have a terrific sinus headache. Yay.

Thanks for visiting, though! Have a terrific Saturday, wherever you are and with whatever you’re choosing to celebrate in your corner of the world! See ya!

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Is it a comedy or just bad writing?

One thing about living in the Hinterlands: Even while I do have an AMC megaplex within walking distance of my rental house, it only shows really big budget movies, or absolutely anything animated for kids.

Because of the craziness of the holidays, along with the continued snow and below-zero temperatures around here, I haven’t been able to get into the nearest city and see any of the movies I really wanted to see: Lady Bird, 3 Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, and The Man Who Invented Christmas, to name the top 3.

Well, thanks to that #NationalScreenwritersDay this past Friday, I was able to download a ton of amazing screenplays for free.  Of course, reading a screenplay doesn’t necessarily mean you get a true idea of how the movie wound up telling the story, but it still gives you some great visuals and at least you do get to read the basic plot.

I have been so eager to see 3 Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri since back in November, when a producer out in L.A. first raved about it in an email. I watched the trailer and thought, Hmmm, this is really, really violent, but Frances McDormand is in it and I trust her choices and her judgement… So I still wanted to see it. I literally had no clue whatsoever that this movie was a comedy.

I began reading the script before it won the Golden Globe over the weekend and I thought the script was just horrible. Really, just a downward-spiraling potpourri of hate, violence, and awfulness. I was dumbfounded. I thought to myself, the only way this endless collection of horrific cliches would work is if this were a comedy….

Of course, once I found out that it was, indeed, a black comedy, it became brilliant. Funny how that works, right? (But it’s also peculiar how a comedy might not necessarily read like one on the page, isn’t it? How you really do need good direction and great acting to help your vision come to life.)

I’m in the middle of reading Lady Bird right now, which, in my opinion, is just terrific writing. So visual. So charming. It just leaps off the page. Next in line are Mudbound and The Disaster Artist. And I still have dozens of scripts left.

It’s actually really cool to just live out here in the middle of nowhere, no distractions, the snow still sprinkled about, and read a whole pile of screenplays. Oh, I actually watched (streamed) The Big Sick on Amazon last night. I’d been wanting to see that for months. I adored it. It was the perfect blend of comedy and emotional tension. They did a great job with it.  (Oh, and back before Christmas, I streamed Marjorie Prime and I really loved that. I found the pacing so hypnotic. I was just riveted.)

Since I am going on and on about movies, it occurs to me that I never mentioned having seen the current remake of Murder on the Orient Express. I only wrote that I had plans to go see it. Well, I saw it. As always, I loved Johnny Depp, but he’s in it for about 5 minutes (literally). The rest of it, I could have done without. Why they remade it after a number of great versions of it already exist, is —yes! — a mystery!

Okay, I’m gonna get on with real life around here today. Still so much paperwork-type stuff to do regarding the new house. Then some of my own writing to do. Thanks for visiting, gang! I leave you with this wonderfully atmospheric tune that I’ve been playing a lot lately. it seems to go well with gently falling snow…

All righty! See ya!

(PS: After listening to the above song a bazillion times, I got curious about watching the movie of the same name that came out earlier this year, written by Allan Loeb. I really liked it! Very messy and romantic. Had a real “New York in the 1990s” feel.)

Re-Charge, Re-Group, Release! Rejoice! 2018

I’m so excited because, for the past few days, I’ve been BETA testing an online course for learning Galilean Aramaic.  (This is an ancient Galilean dialect, and is an all but extinct language, but it is the dialect that Jesus spoke. If you’re interested in learning it, and being a BETA tester, you can sign up at The Aramaic New Testament website.)

Loyal readers of this lofty blog no doubt recall that before I was inundated with re-writes of both The Tea Cozy Murder Club script, and the Cleveland’s Burning script, I was re-learning Biblical Hebrew and was beginning to learn Ancient Greek.  Even though the script-writing projects haven’t died down, the fact that I finally seem to have a permanent dwelling place on my horizon again, made me think I should get back to Biblical Hebrew, at the very least.

In the middle of that, though, I got a month’s free membership to a really cool online French course, and even though I’ve been doing really well in that course, especially after not having read or written a word of French in 5 years, I don’t really think I’m likely to go back to France and I don’t see any reason to keep studying French, after having studied it for about 40 years…

Well,  I’ve taken to the Galilean Aramaic like a fish out of water! I really have.  I just love it. At age 57 ( my age right now), I see things in terms of being the last chapter of life.  I don’t want to spend/waste anymore time on anything French, or on re-learning Biblical Hebrew, and I don’t really have a burning desire to learn Ancient Greek at this point (my desire always lay in wanting to read the Septuagint in Greek, which I’m thinking is not really likely to happen!).  But it became crystal clear to me that in whatever time I have left (of course, I’m hoping for another 40 years), I would really like to concentrate on learning Galilean Aramaic!

It’s a really exciting feeling. Even while I know that the best laid schemes o’ Mice & Men…  regardless: to know the house & the town I want to live out my life in, the projects I want to get written before I die, the books I still want to read, the histories I want to study, and now the language I hope to master. It just feels so invigorating. So joyful.  An emotional clarity that feels so focused.

It’s no longer about “what should I do next for my career?” or “what should I study next in order to move my career to the next level?” or “where is the best place to live in order to make the career networking more efficient?” All that stuff — it’s done. I did what I needed to do; studied everything imaginable until the cows came home (they eat a lot but it’s great having them home, haha); I networked all over the world and met so many incredibly creative and talented people. However, now I’m just going to do what I enjoy doing and simply live my life.

Well, after the move, I will. Eck!

By the way, if you’re a screenwriter or want to be, ScreenwritingU and Stage 32 are sponsoring National Screenwriters Day. If you join in promoting it, you can download 100 award-winning and award-nominated screenplays for FREEEEE. So check it out.

BTW, #NationalScreenwritersDay is January 5th, which is also the Eve of  Epiphany.  Tradition has it, if you don’t get your Christmas decorations down by tomorrow evening, you have to leave them up until Candlemas, which is February 2nd (!!), or it’s bad luck. So get on it, gang! Nothing worse than seeing all those Christmas decorations hanging around until February…

All right! Have a great day, folks! Thanks for visiting. See ya!

 

Happy, Happy 2018!!

Well, except for yesterday’s “reblogging” of Ted Nottingham‘s recent video post, I haven’t been here since before Christmas.

So you probably don’t know that we had a white Christmas here! Yes! It snowed Christmas Eve!! What could be better? (BTW, I had the happiest Christmas Eve ever — probably in my whole life. And not just because it snowed; the snow was more the proverbial icing on the top.) Just so much great stuff going on and so much exciting stuff to look forward to.

And we had a seriously white –and freezing cold–New Year’s Eve here last night.  More snow than the Hinterlands has seen in a while, with temperatures below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.  Loyal readers of this lofty blog no doubt recall that I love snow! So these frosty developments only cause me to rejoice. Yay!

I was very tempted, yesterday, to jump into the sporty Honda Fit and drive deeper into the Hinterlands to see what my new house looks like in the snow! But, well, as  much as I love the cold and the snow, I really, really love not driving around in it. So here I remained.

One of the reasons I am having the happiest holidays, ever, is because of that new (very old) house. And I’m sure I will have plenty of winters ahead wherein I will discover what that house looks like in the snow, but that doesn’t keep me from thinking about that great house all the time now. I just love that house, and I can’t wait to live in that strange and crazy tiny town (whose location, btw, cuts more than an hour off my drive to & from New York).

That said, though, I still have to get through the bank appraisal and the closing before I will know for 100% certain that it is my new house, even though it feels like home already. However, because of the looming bank appraisal and the official closing, I haven’t actually announced to people that I have a new house — except, of course, to you, gentle readers, who reside all over the world…

Another reason that it’s been the happiest of holidays here is because one of my theater projects with Sandra Caldwell in New York City is on track for Off-Broadway. I can’t discuss the details yet, and won’t be able to for a while, but things are going so great with that project.  I am so excited. And, out in L.A., TV-pilot shopping season begins in January (which is, of course, officially upon us!), so I am very excited about the prospects of my Untitled Cleveland Drama (once known as Cleveland’s Burning) very soon being sold.

The other thing that makes me so happy, of course, and the thing that makes all the other above-mentioned things a lot less stressful and even more delightful, is my new friend.  His personality, his experiences, his approach to life continue to surprise me anew every day.  He is such a cool guy and just so darned fearless.  It is such a joy to have someone in my life whose response to things is “Let’s do it!”, instead of giving the long litany of all the negative things that could go wrong with any given idea, as most people do.  God knows, I have been inundated with negative people throughout most of my life, going way, way back to my wee bonny girlhood, so he could not be more refreshing, nor his arrival in my life more perfectly timed.

All right, on that delightfully cheerful note, I’m off to the kitchen to make a huge pot of soup on this cold, snowy, frosty day.

Have a terrific 2018 wherever you are in the world and with whatever you’re doing. As always, thanks for visiting, gang! See ya.

 

Still Alive!

I know; you’d never know it by how long it’s been since I’ve posted here!

BTW, thanks to everyone who sent comments to Iris re: her new book of flash fiction (post below), and also to those of you who bought it! She is a great writer. (And a good friend of mine.) Even if you don’t buy her book, you can find a whole lot of her flash fiction (and poetry) all over the Internet.

I won’t go into detail about all that has been going on here. Nothing terrible; just intense. Pace never stopping.  But last night, I got a great night’s sleep, and today I feel energized again. So, onward.

First and foremost: Here’s where I’m going either Tuesday or Wednesday of this coming week!

I can’t wait! I haven’t been to an actual movie theater in months. Nearly a year, in fact.

Loyal readers of this lofty blog no doubt recall that I am a huge fan of Johnny Depp‘s. And one thing I really love about him is that he doesn’t bleach his teeth. And I’m not talking about his hideous Jack Sparrow teeth, but just his regular old teeth — just like movie stars  from days of yore who simply had teeth.

Once, a few years ago, I tried watching the much-acclaimed movie, Mud, starring Matthew McConaughey.  From the start, it reminded me, for some odd reason, of Tender Mercies (which I liked a lot better), but I stuck with it, until McConaughey, a hermit on a deserted island in the middle of (sort of) nowhere, hiding from the law, etc., opens his mouth and reveals a set of stunningly blinding, bright, white teeth.

What kind of lone-hermit-fugitive, living on crumbs of food brought to him by a couple of rogue boys,  is that??!! I lost all interest in the film from that moment forward, because I could no longer believe in any of it. It all just became Matthew McConaughey with a set of artificially gleaming teeth. I could not focus on a single other thing, so I gave up watching it. And came away thinking, Wow, Tender Mercies was such a great little movie. Where did the years go?

Anyway!

Yes. I am officially incredibly behind schedule on the theatrical adaptation of my teleplay, Tell My Bones. Only because way too much has been going on in my life (which I’ll discuss in detail at some later date), that I cannot seem to: a.) find enough time to get enough writing done; and b.) concentrate when I do have enough time to get enough writing done.

Just this past week, I went through that ridiculous thing where I took some very decent writing and decided it needed to be revised, yet again, only to discover that I was completely out of my mind! Not the best frame of mind in which to undertake anything! So, now, I gotta go back and re-do the redo-ing! Arrrgh.

I decided that what I must do, if I hope to achieve anything at all with this adaptation, is channel Jean Toomer. So that’s next on my list. Channeling Jean Toomer. If you hear weird incantations and smell strange wafting aromas coming from my corner of the world, that’s what’ll be going on. I’ll be channeling Jean Toomer.

On a similar, less silly note, however; I spoke with Sandra yesterday and in no uncertain terms, she informed me that there will be a staged reading in NYC for one of our other theater projects this coming February or March, and not only must I absolutely attend this time (loyal readers of this lofty blog will no doubt recall that, even though I’d bought 2 brand new dresses, I never made it to NYC this past September to attend the opening night of Charm, in which Sandra had the lead, and to which many  important casting people and theater investors were going, because I was trapped in this “have to buy a new house” nonsense out here in the Hinterlands). And not only am I going to have to absolutely be there this time, I absolutely have to have the revisions of Tell My Bones done and ready to go and right there with me.

An additional arrrgh… and a bit of a grumble, grumble; crap, I’ve got to get this done already!

So I anticipate being completely crazy for the next few months.  But, after THAT, the TV pilot-shopping season begins in L.A., and as most of you know so well by now, my pilot (once known as Cleveland’s Burning but now called Untitled Cleveland Drama) is on the slate to be shopped and all of us involved could not be more excited! So, you know, exhausted as I am, things are looking super-duper UP.

And that said, I gotta scoot and tackle that channeling of Jean Toomer around here. I hope you have a really sublime Saturday, wherever you are and with whatever you’re tackling. I leave you fondly with this . I’m currently playing it nonstop in my swinging little Honda Fit all over the Hinterlands. So sit back, relax, dream, and keep swinging, gang!

Thanks for visiting! See ya!

 

A mish-mash of heartache

I know, it’s been forever since I’ve been able to get to this blog.  This month has just barreled along.  Every project imaginable seeming to intersect with one another, so that I have had way too much to do and am getting not a whole lot completed. Yet.

Still no official word on how much my mortgage has been pre-approved for, so this limbo I’ve been living in for one whole year now is really getting tiresome.  [Read: Depressing.] Now that I know for sure that I have to move again, I really, really, REALLY want to just move and unpack my boxes, take a look at all my cool STUFF once again, and start living my life.  Books, movies, music, furniture — there’s so much of my stuff that I’d like to have access to! And, yes, photo albums.

This weekend marks not only what would have been Tom Petty’s 67th birthday — (if you live in a cave, perhaps you don’t know that Tom Petty suddenly died a couple weeks ago) —

Tom Petty, as he looked a zillion years ago, on his first album cover; an album I bought when I was a wee bonny lass; an album I still have somewhere in deep storage and can’t get at…

But also, this weekend marks the anniversary of the death of my very best friend in all of life and the world as we knew it. Paul died 18 years ago tomorrow, and I am astounded that 18 years can disappear in the wink of eye. What went by even more quickly, gentle readers, were the 22 years that he and I were best friends.

I cannot imagine that I am old enough to have a best friend who has been dead for 18 years. And, no insults intended for any folks I know who are still alive, however, life has simply been pretty empty without him in it.

I knew it would be that way the day he died. That everything would be a little less beautiful from then on. He was so funny, so talented, so adventurous, so compassionate, kind, caring. And he always had my back. He was the living definition of a best friend. (We met in the high school drama department. He built our high school theater sets. He went on to work in the movies as a set designer/set builder.)

Anyway. I was hoping to find a digital photo of him to post here today, but alas, I could not find one. And ALL of my tons of non-digital photos of him are packed away in boxes that are in deep storage, too. So frustrating.  I want my life back.

However, while searching through tons of flash drives for possible JPEGS of Paul, I found a ton of other photos that broke my heart. So it’s been a  rough morning. But cathartic, too, I suppose.

Earlier this month would have been John Lennon’s 77th birthday, had he not been murdered, 37 years ago, only a handful of weeks after I had moved to New York City.  John Lennon was my very first hero, from the time I was 10 years old. I found this lovely photo of him on a flash drive:

John Lennon with son, Julian.

I also found 2 rather different photos of myself taken by my dear, departed friend Paul:

Me, on the porch of Paul’s beach house in North Carolina, when he was working on the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.
Me, in the bedroom of my East Village apartment, in 1984, when Paul was visiting from DC for Thanksgiving. I’m a spry 24-year-old here.

I also found a digital photo of a photo from my long-ago wedding. Hard to remember that I used to not have a ton of silver hair…

And hard to believe we’ve been divorced now for 14 years, after having been together for 11 years before that. But we’ve managed to stay friends…

And a few years before one of my alleged “friends” turned out to be the most awesome b*tch, EVER, I used to have fond memories of Paris. I no longer have fond memories of Paris, so it was startling to discover these photos on a flash drive and to recall that I once loved Paris. From my first trip to Paris, when I was so happy:

Looking down at the street from my friend’s apartment on the Left Bank, late at night. I can still hear the laughter and the clanking dishes coming up from that cafe.
Her cottage in the country was right on the river. here’s a shot of her boat…
And — if you can believe how lovely this is!– the weeping willows at the edge of her yard, right on the river.

It was a strange feeling, to recall that I had once loved Paris. I guess it’s time to reclaim parts of my life from people who totally suck. What do you think, gang?

And then I also found this photo. This was the beginning of the feral cat madness! Here are Tom, Huckleberry, and Becky, on the swing in the backyard of my old house. This was when the 3 were stray kittens, abandoned by a neighbor who moved away and simply left them. The kittens began living in my backyard. In this photo, I hadn’t been able to trap them yet. This was before they had a truckload of un-adoptable feral kittens in my basement.  Yes, before my life was overtaken by the lovely 8 cats who now allow me to live with them (actually, I love them dearly):

Tom, Huckleberry, and Becky enjoying the great outdoors, as wild, untamed kittens! I think was in early fall of 2012.

I also found quite a big bunch of digital photos from the old house, back when the house & yard were beautiful, before the developers contracted to buy it (and never did, after dragging it on for 3 1/2 years) and then the house fell to pieces. Such a sad, sad thing for me. But here, again — I never allow myself to think of the old house, because it became such a nightmare of heartache for me. To suddenly see these photos of how lovely it was before it all fell to ruin. It awoke all those feelings I had buried away of how much I had loved that house.

Of course the saddest part was, that Bunny died the day after we moved from the old house and moved into the current rental that I’m in.

And that was exactly one year ago.

So this weekend also marks the first anniversary of Bunny’s death. I miss her so much.

A selfie of me and Bunny at the old house. I can’t remember which one of us snapped the candid shot! Probably me, since Bunny almost never had her phone with her.

Oh gosh. Well, all right. Life goes on, regardless of how happy I am, or often am not, about that idea.

However. On the happy front, a long-time friend of mine in NYC, Iris N. Schwartz, has a new book out! Keep glued to this blog for a great Q & A that I did with her earlier this month, in support of her new book.

Have a great weekend, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, gang. And keep in mind that time freakin’ FLIES, so love the heck out of whatever and whoever you love while it’s all still vibrantly alive in front of you. A word to the wise is sufficient, as the saying goes.

Thanks for visiting. See ya.

 

Getting to be that splendid time of year!

Yes, as this picture illustrates, it’s the time of year where I go for a ride on my bike, with my terrier tagging along, while I wear what was once referred to as a “coolie hat.” Now the word “coolie” is politically incorrect in most parts of the world and we’re supposed to refer to it as a “conical Asian hat.” However, it doesn’t quite trip off the tongue in the same vivid way. So we need a new word.

I guess we could call it my “cool” hat.  Which would not be a lie, but neither would it give you any accurate idea of what type of hat I’m really wearing, and if you were “visionally challenged” (or “blind”, in the old 20th-Century version of English), you’d be strictly on your own as far as understanding what comprised a “cool” hat. (Although if you’d been visionally challenged since birth, the whole concept of a hat would be in the realm of the somewhat fantastical altogether.) (By the way — do not use the word “visionally” out in public or at a party where you’re trying to attract the attention of someone “cool.” It is not, in fact, a word. I’m making it up.)

Anyway. I digress. I don’t actually have a bike, or a terrier, or any type of hat whatsoever.

However. Yes, autumn is beginning to arrive! My favorite time of year! The heatwave broke on Wednesday evening. The temperatures are down where I like them best: around 70 during the day and way down in the lower50s-upper40s at night. My cats are friskier than ever, since I leave some of the windows open until it really, really gets cold outside. And the cats are so darn cute when they’re being frisky. And cute cats make me happy.

Things are looking good on all fronts. Including revisions of my theatrical adaptation of my script, Tell My Bones. So I’m happy.  I’m still waiting to find out the amount I’m pre-approved for on my mortgage, though, so that’s making me a little antsy. I don’t like that limbo feeling.  But I’m guessing I will find out one day next week.

James Tabor has announced the itinerary for his 2018 Tour of the Holy Land. Each year, I tell myself that “next year, I’ll be able to afford to go.” And then I keep hoping that he’ll, in fact, have a tour the following year. These are not theological tours of Israel, by the way,  but archeological/biblical/historical tours. They hit all the places I would truly love to see with my own eyes, with none of the dogma.

Even though the tour is actually really affordable considering what it offers, I still can’t imagine — what, with getting ready to buy a new house, and all — that I can afford to go in 2018.

That is why I direct your attention to the link at the top right-hand corner of this blog! (Top-right, if you are facing the blog; top-left, if you have somehow managed to get inside the blog and are looking out…) Yes, that’s right. All you need do is buy me about two thousand cups of coffee (anonymously, if you prefer), which in turn puts $3 per cup into my Paypal account, and then I will finally be able to take that trip with James Tabor to the Holy Land.

James Tabor in Ceasaria

I’m officially thanking you in advance for all that coffee: Thanks, gang! You guys are the best! I’ll be sure to send plenty of postcards!

Okay! I gotta scoot. Gotta get back to the revisions of Tell My Bones. Thanks for visiting, gang! Have a terrific Friday, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing. See ya!