Braaaaains

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So, Friday night at midnight kicked of the 2011 Short Screenplay Challenge. Halloween weekend… great, fantastic, thank you so very much. I spent Saturday roaming around on 3 hours of sleep watching Puss in Boots with my 7 year old sister, taking her to the park Halloween-fest, making my Halloween costume,  going to a party – and getting completely smashed, sleeping too late today, and with the 3 hours I had from the time I woke up until the time I had to go to work I lazed around watching the R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour marathon I recorded yesterday (because I’m roughly 12 years old…) instead of thinking about what to write for this challenge.

Our assignment was – Genre: Drama, Location: A pizza shop, Object: A copy machine. Bah humbug … drama?! No thank you. I don’t really feel confident with what I wrote this time around, and I didn’t particularly have fun with it either. These challenges are hard (well its not a challenge if its not hard) but at least I usually have fun with them. This time I was just grumpy. I am not sure how we will place, but even if we bomb this round we still get to go through round 2 and maybe redeem ourselves (that is, my husband and I… no I’m not two people referring to myself as ourselves….or am I!? mwuahaha).

Anyway, onto something a little less grumpy — Halloween! This year I dressed up as Ursula from The Little Mermaid and my husband dressed up as some sort of mishmash guido from Jersey Shore. He painted his face bright orange, that doesn’t come across well in pictures but it was really funny. He also drew “abs” onto his stomach and would go around lifting his shirt to show everyone his situation.

I wish the picture I had for myself was a little better, for some reason I didn’t get many good pictures this year – oh well. I made the necklace out of “Model Magic”, I also made some seashell earrings but they broke and I didn’t have time to fool with making  new ones or fixing the broken ones. For the dress I took an old black dress that I had and 6 black stockings. On one side of the stockings I painted them a light purple with acrylic paint, and then when that dried I painted on suction cups with a darker purple. I sewed the stockings to the dress and blamo done. It took a lot longer to actually do than I thought it would though, thus the almost 0 sleep I had.

Also, there is a reason for this title — we ate brains! We went all over town looking for brains – pig, cow, anything we could find. My favorite was in Wal-Mart. My BFF  (see, I told you I was roughly 12) went up to the guy stocking the shelves, “Do you have any brains?” Yeah, might want to re-state that question next time. At any rate, Kroger was our savior, they had pig brains. Which were of course then fried up and fed to everyone at the party. At some point my husband talked our friend into eating a fried brain and peanut butter sandwich. The worst part was he seemed to genuinely enjoy it.

Halloween is truly the best time of the year!  Everyone dresses up in something, you have an excuse to get smashed, and my husband can find a real reason to force feed people brains. Actually the sad part was everyone seemed a little to willing to try the brains… myself included.

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The Universe

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As far back as I can remember, I’ve been intrigued by the universe we live in. I can’t really even explain why, it just grabs my imagination and blows my mind to shreds. You remember in elementary school when we’d study things for a week? Egyptian week, fractions week (pass please!), adverbs week, and yadda on and so forth? The solar system week was always my favorite. I remember in the 4th grade my teacher said we would not be studying about the solar system that year, because we already knew about it. My little geeky 9-year-old heart was shattered! I was really really disappointed. In college, though, I took two Astronomy classes. Take that Mrs. 4th grade teacher!

Lately (much to my husband’s annoyance because I won’t shut up about it) I have been watching The History Channel’s The Universe, and The Discovery Channel’s How the Universe Works – Yes… I am a ginormous nerd. But these shows just have so much crazy and wonderful information in them, that you would never think about. You know, important things, like “Sex in Space”. Ok, maybe I giggled like a 12-year-old for a minute when I saw that there was an episode devoted solely to sex in space, but honestly, turns out that is a really important thing to study. If we ever have any hopes of braving the vast yonder that is  our solar system, we have to figure out a way to procreate out there. And as of right now, we cannot. Turns out that life as we know it (I mean humans and other animals) need gravity to develop properly in the womb.

But other than our being able to colonize space, the whole idea of the universe is mind-boggling to me. Just thinking about it makes me feel so small. Our tiny little brains are such a joke to the universe. The silly wars, prejudices, protests, murders, etc. that happen on our extremely small area of the universe just seem so trivial when you step back and think about it all. I mean, where did it come from? My tiny human mind cannot grasp the idea of never-ending, always expanding, always present space. I feel like I can almost grasp it, but there’s just something there in my mind blocking it.

Not to mention all the different things that happen in space! Its amazing! Pulsars, quasars, super-massive black holes, stars, planets, galaxies…I mean in our solar system alone our planets (and moons!) are all so different.  The moons of Jupiter are almost more interesting than Jupiter itself – they were made over from Jupiter’s formation and they are all so different. How does that happen!? It’s even possible that under the ice of Jupiter’s moon Europa that there are liquid oceans that harbor aquatic life!

I don’t know, I just can’t stop thinking about the universe and all the amazing and wonderful and large mind-blowing things that it provides. They say that we are literally made up of the matter left over from the sun’s formation. I suppose we don’t really think of it in this way but we truly do owe our existence to the universe.

At any rate, there was one truly amazing image that I have fallen completely in love with from one of these shows (I think the Discovery one, but I can’t remember). It is of Saturn taken from the Cassini spacecraft.  This is such an amazing and beautiful image. Here, Saturn is eclipsing the Sun from Cassini’s view, which you can see poking out the bottom left of Saturn. You might have to blow the image up to see this, but there is what looks like a star just outside the top left of Saturn’s rings, in between the really bright and prominent rings and the faint rings. That is actually not a star… it is Earth! This image is just incredible.

Also, scientist have put together a model of what they think the universe looks like. It’s pretty hard for us to actually get a good look at our universe since we are kinda smack dab in it (heck we can’t really take a picture of the Milky Way galaxy either). But thanks to computers we can now look at models of what the universe looks like – and it is AMAZING. Galaxies form together in clusters, sort of like galaxy neighborhoods, and these clusters form together to make what looks like a web.

I can’t even begin to describe the way watching these images make me feel. Tiny, small, insignificant – those are words that come to mind. Another thing that I keep thinking about is how our knowledge keeps expanding and growing. First we learned of things in our own neck of the woods like our sun and solar system, then we discovered we were in the Milky Way galaxy, then we began learning of other galaxies, and so on, we keep learning more and more….what if our Universe is just some small and insignificant part of something much larger? It’s almost too much to be thinking of.

…Especially at 6 in the morning…

Short Screenplay Challenge 2011

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Earlier this year my husband and I participated in the NYC Midnight Screenwriter’s Challenge and much to our surprise we ended the competition at 3rd place!  The challenge was broken up into 3 rounds, and in each round writers were put into groups of about 20-25 writers each. The top 5 screenplays from each group went onto the next round of the competition.

It was a pretty great challenge, each round was different, and we never knew what genre or character we were going to be assigned until each round began. I honestly didn’t think that our first round screenplay (14 pages I think?) was good at all, but somehow we managed to get through that round in 5th place – which was the last place a screenplay could be in to advance to the next round. Our second round screenplay was a little better and we ended it in 2nd place. Once we completed our 3rd and final round screenplay (5 pages) in about 3 hours, I knew we were doomed. I had no hopes at all of finishing in the top 5 – but somehow we actually finished in 3rd place! Even if we hadn’t placed at all we both had a really great time writing and working together, and have plans to do this more often in the future for full length screenplays.

Starting Friday the NYC Midnight folks are hosting another challenge – Short Screenplay Challenge 2011. From the sound of it its going to be a little different than the Screenwriter’s Challenge. There are 4 rounds and everyone competes in the first two rounds. Each screenplay is 5 pages long and there are 2 days to complete each screenplay. There will be an assigned genre, location, and object. It will be interesting to see how this challenge will be different from the previous challenge. I’m nervous about how we will do, but no matter what we will at least have 2 more short screenplays to add to our collection.

Contemplating the Journey

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I recently found this book hidden away on my bookshelf of poems by young writers in Appalachia, which includes a poem I wrote in the 11th grade.

 

I wonder about all the places I’ll go,
For right now I don’t really know.
I do know what I would like life to be
But for now I’ll have to wait and see.

I want to take the right path on this long journey,
I do not ever want to be in a hurry.
If the road forks, which way will I choose?
Always the right way so I’ll never lose.

Maybe someday I’ll go into space.
Or maybe I’ll stay on earth in one place.
Maybe I’ll be in a famous band,
Or just sit back and be a fan.

I could grow up to be a famous writer,
Or maybe that writer’s favorite teacher.
Maybe forever I’ll stay where I am now
But I could find my way to India somehow.

I do know that my life will be great
Always full of love and never hate.
And in the end God will lead me
To the place where I will rest, for eternity.

This was for an assignment, I can’t remember exactly what the assignment was but I know it had something to do with life’s journey. It is weird to go back and read this, though. My Junior year of high school was 10 years ago. Where has life lead me since then? I graduated high school. I went to college. I fell in love. I transferred colleges to study film, which was my true passion, not graphic design which was what I had been studying. I moved in with my boyfriend – a few years later we got married. I was forced out of college due to no financial aid when I was only 6 classes away from getting a BA in film editing and an AA in screenwriting.

I feel like I’ve honestly accomplished nothing. For the most part I do love my life, and I do know that one’s life is greatly relying upon the decisions that a person makes. But I just feel that I’m pushing 30 and stuck.  I have been entering screenwriting competitions with my husband – we actually won 3rd place in one (whoohoo!). But those are the bright spots in an otherwise uncreative existence.

I do try to stay positive and live a “come what may” existence. Some nights though I just lay in bed unable to sleep thinking “What am I doing here? I’m supposed to be out there in the world, doing something!”

Hey at least now that it looks like we are going in the direction of commercial flights to space, I might actually have a shot at that whole going to space thing!

Paranormal Activity 3

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Like any married couple celebrating an anniversary would do, my husband and I set out to watch Paranormal Activity 3 tonight. The barista conjuring my autumn harvest breve assured me I would most likely pee my pants, so off we trotted to the theater in high spirits.

And pee we did! The story might have been completely flat, but holy mother crapping hell that movie scared me to death. The lights will stay on in our apartment tonight, that is for sure. I’ll also be checking under my bed, leaving the closet door open a little and warning the cats if they make a peep they are going outside!

By the way, why did we think playing the “Bloody Mary” game was  a good idea as kids? I’m scared of practically everything (balloons included) but for some reason there we’d be in the bathroom with the lights off taunting the mirror – bloody Mary, bloody Mary, bloody Mary. Oh hey by the way when bloody Mary pops out she’s gonna kill you.

Man we were brain damaged as kids!

Ahem, back to what I was saying. Paranormal Activity 3 is probably not a movie you’d want to watch over and over after it hits the DVD shelves, but it is a fun way to kill an hour and a half. You may have to shell out a few thousand dollars on therapy afterwards but hey, its all in good fun, right?

Dirty Laundry

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One of the best things about working at a call center is getting to participate in Customer Service Week! It rolls around every October, and for a week my company gives out prizes, has raffles and scavenger hunts and fun little things like that. They also hand out these cheap gifts with their logo on it, like stickers, balloons, and…concave mirrors?

I’m not sure why this was something I needed…but there it is.

For some reason it was sitting upright, like in the picture above, on top of my dryer. Now, my dryer is usually covered in piles upon piles of unfolded laundry, because who the hell has the time to fold laundry anyway? But last night I got the bright idea to fold up some laundry and live like a human for once, and apparently unknown to myself I had uncovered this mirror.

So, I’m standing there, minding my own business pouring out some laundry detergent when I look up and there is this person in my bathroom…staring at me! I freaked out — I’m talking screaming – squealing – gasping – you name the terrified sound, it came out of my mouth. It took me way too long to realize that I was looking at myself! My husband even came running thinking I’d hurt myself – little did he know he was apparently married to an insane person.

Moral of the story? Never fold the damn laundry.

NaNoWriMo

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NaNoWriMo is coming up again soon. Right now, we have a little under 11 days to go. This will be my second year participating in the event, and I’m extremely excited… and very worried. NaNoWriMo is short for “National Novel Writing Month”. It’s when insane people from all around the world come together and decide to write a novel in 1 month (or at least write 50,000 words). 30 days, 50,000 words. Yikes.

The one thing that scares me about this competition is failure. Its one thing for me to decide to do something, its another for me to actually follow through. In fact, I rarely follow through on projects I begin. Do you know how many blankets I have began to crochet that are laying around this place? Too many. I’ll find a pretty yarn and get  a pattern and dig into it eagerly. 5 rows later its collecting dust.

Last year I began the NaNoWriMo challenge without an idea of what I even wanted to write. I know everyone around me knew I wasn’t actually going to write a book – because lets face it, 50,000 words is freaking ambitious for a person like me. And 6 days into the competition sure enough, I hadn’t written a damn thing. Then something hit me, a fire to actually do something, and a vague idea  that I wanted to write a fantasy novel. I had no idea what type of fantasy novel, and I had no idea who my characters were going to be. So without any clue what I was doing, I sat down and let my fingers do their thing across the keyboard.

I sat up in bed with my laptop listening to Muse every single night for the rest of that month. Even though I was almost a week late starting, by the time November 30th rolled around I had my novel. Was it any good? No, its pure garbage. I recently re-read it and I can’t imagine letting anyone else look at that. Of course, what I have is a rough rough draft that was once a non-idea.

And let me tell you it was a wonderful experience writing that rough rough draft. I had no idea where I was going with my story, who my villains were, what my heroes could do – I honestly knew none of it. I would sit down each night after work and pick up where I left off,  learning something new about my story every time. This reminds me of something Stephen King said in his book On Writing about honestly being the first reader of his books – because he’s reading a new story as he’s writing it. That’s how I felt last year, as I pounded out my 50,000 words.

Well, so the novel I wrote isn’t amazing, and should never be read by anyone…ever. But I do have a pretty good idea now, that can be rewritten into something a little more digestible. It will also probably need to be split up into more than one novel because as I read it it became obvious I didn’t have an audience – the novel starts with a scrawny 5 year old boy and ends with his marriage. That’s going to appeal to roughly…no one. At any rate, I had fun writing my story, and I actually accomplished something that even my husband wasn’t holding out on.

This year, I actually do have a plan. I’ve been working on this plan in my head and writing out the logistics of it for a couple of months now. I know the character’s names, and I know a little about what they are like. I know the situations they are going to get into and maybe more important than any of that,  I know the audience – Young Adult.

So, I count down to November 1st – excited to start my project and force myself into working on this novel – and nervous that I will fall on my face a week in and never go back.