Tuesday, August 14, 2012
To head on with a bit of a story: One of my favorite books out there is Frankenstein. It has been since I read it 8 years ago. I love the Creature and I adore Frankenstein and, really, the whole thing. It has actually been one of my secret dreams to write a screenplay for the book, something very chilling, dark, and touching. Something not like James Whale's movie (and don't get me wrong, I'm not hating on him). So when I found out about this play, it made be very happy. There's the music, which is absolutely up my alley, and the imagery, which is also intensely pleasing. Also, I very much love Cumberbatch. I have somehow entirely missed Jonny Lee Miller as an actor, however, now I love him too.
Actually, when I found out I could see this screening, I was positively ecstatic. To use my newest phrase: I was uncontrollably excited. It was the complete truth. I knew I was going to love this. It was something I was just oozing to experience. I simply glowed with pure excitement for about 2 hours.
While on the metro coming back, my dad asked me, "Did it live up to your expectations?" The answer was yes. It did. It absolutely did. I was completely correct in my uncontrollable excitement.
I honestly don't think I'm just playing a fangirl here. My dad's words were, "That was absolutely amazing." Perhaps that phrase sounds... Flat. After all my hubbub about running around uncontrollably happy, that phrase could sound too simple, but it isn't. It is spot on. Danny Boyle's Frankenstein was just absolutely amazing.
To top it off, I also got to meet two Sherlock lovers who happened to be dressed up as Sherlock and Mycroft. I chatted with them (this was Mycroft's third viewing, apparently, which goes to show how good this is), made friends, was ecstatic with them, and that meant it was a wonderful evening.
So I most definitely give this screening/play a very excitable:
5 out of 5 stars.
Saturday, August 11, 2012
I think the hardest thing to rate about this is that I'm a big fan of British and black comedy. (Black as in "dark," as in depressing. If you must know, I'm a big fan of Romanian comedies, for example. So when I say "comedy," I must admit that my sense of humor is a bit... Different.) Now the reason why I make note of that is that sometimes I have more trouble gauging American comedies, especially of this variety. Also, partly because I will always rank In the Loop as my top political comedy.
I've got to admit, a lot of the audience laughed at points. For not knowing who was in it, I was a bit happy to see John Lithgow in it, or "Kenny" (Jack McBrayer from 30 Rock). Overall, it sort of... It happened, to put it that way. It was a movie and I was watching it. I pretty much had the same feelings as when I watched The Dictator.
It's a little hard to really say much on the movie. Maybe if I was a bigger Will Ferrell fan, I'd enjoy it more? Maybe if I was more into American comedies like this, I'd also enjoy it more. I don't know. The dialogue didn't always intrigue me. Or perhaps, a lot of it didn't. Again, I can't tell if I'm unfairly thinking of In the Loop, because the dialogue was just a constant stream of amazing, while here, it was crude and rather disjointed. The movie was trying to juggle different things--the story, the comedy, even trying to make us feel for the characters or care what happens to them. The problem is, however, it felt more like a switch--comedy on, comedy off. There were precise moments in which we are specifically supposed to say "ah, I care about him!" And this is where I compare it to In the Loop. We care about Simon Foster because of his bumbly-ness, or how horrifying this entire situation is. Later, he tells us, in a moment of complete despair: "a distant voice in the back of my head goes 'oh shit' like a car alarm in the middle of the night." No matter what's happening, we can always feel what the characters are emoting. Malcolm is angry, frustrated, rushed--of course, this makes sense, he is, in general, a very angry human being, but Simon gets flustered and confused. He's all bumbly and completely means well. They're all humans. And they're hilarious.
With The Campaign, I can't really think of many great moments as I can in In the Loop. Or perhaps, I can't think of great moments. There was no major one liners or fantastic impacting moments. I did sort of enjoy Karen Marumaya, but in part, she was rather dripping with sarcasm and her scenes were fairly small. I also felt that John Lithgow was a little wasted as an actor. He's a wonderful actor, but his role was a little too bland. Lithgow, as we've seen now from both 3rd Rock from the Sun and Dexter, he can be great in a comedic or villainous role.
Overall, The Campaign was a little punchy. "Laugh," and "Feel touched." "Feel sad now." "Laugh again." Sort of big neon signs saying "this is going to be funny," rather than having each moment flow well, each character feel real. When jokes are made in comedies, I rather it feel more natural to what's happening, rather than punching me in the face.
If I had to rate this, I'd say maybe 2 1/2 stars out of 5.
Friday, July 20, 2012
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
I loved LOST. I didn't get into it until the summer right before season 6. My best friend, HaeWon, had started watching it, then she directed me to it. I remained a season behind her, but we watched it all in that span of 3 months. Then as season 6 came out, we waited, watched, and waited. Then it ended. Then... I had no idea what to think.
To start, I loved LOST. I didn't always necessarily like the characters, but I did often find things interesting. Actually, some of my favorite characters were ones like Ben and Locke. (As a side, amusing note, I had a bunch of weird dreams that summer about being Ben and fighting Locke.) Anyways, as the series progressed, I experienced what most likely other people did: confusion. I was really looking forward to season 6, assuming that each episode was going to be a fantastic wrap-up. One after another. I felt like I'd be fantastically pleased and awed. I didn't care if they were all in purgatory or what. I just wanted to feel very pleased at the end.
The saddest fact was that I wasn't. I believe I checked, several times, that there was not another episode after the finale. I'm glad I only started watching the show right before season 6. If I had watched it for all the years it ran, from beginning to end, I would have felt very angry, wasting all that time wondering, worrying, feeling excited about the show.
I honestly really enjoy a lot of it... I also dislike a lot of it too. Unlike some of my friends, I don't have complete hate for it. I rarely have a complete hate for anything. I can usually find SOMETHING useful. (There are exceptions, often if they regard Christopher Paolini or Kevin J Anderson.) LOST had some great aspects. Some of the reasons why I enjoyed it, maybe it wasn't necessarily the best. Like the smoke monster noise. It's just pleasing to me. Other things, like the feeling one gets from season 1, I very much enjoy. I loved the idea of this bunker. What's in it? What are the numbers? What is going on?
The problem, of course, is that we, the audience, are led on for such a long time. Mysteries latch on to mysteries. Each time we get closer to an answer, we're given a new mystery to both distract and bring us further from it. This... Is a problem. I remember watching a TEDTalks video by JJ Abrams. One thing always struck me and that was that his concept of mystery was very far removed from mine in one particular fact: that a mystery should remain a mystery. I do not believe that. The reason why I read or watch mystery tales is that I want an answer. I want to try and guess what the answer was.
To throw out a random example, the mystery of who Amber was in House, episodes House's Head and Wilson's Heart. (I happen to be a large House fan, by the way. And I also happen to find them one of the best episodes in the show.) I remember watching that with Michael, the two of us watching in gripping wonderment as to who this woman that was dying was. We were trying to figure it out, of course. For some reason, it never crossed our minds that it was Amber... Why? Why did it take us so long? I don't know. But then there was the final moment when the woman held that necklace and asked "Who am I?" and I caught on first. I gasped in horror, "Oh GOD...." and then a second later, Michael caught on and we both shared a look of sadness and fear. So yes... The mystery? That was... Honestly very fun and all, but in a sense, it never reached its full potential until we found the answer. The answer was the climax (the sort of orgasm of the tale) and that was the most painful, fulfilling moment.
There is no point to a mystery if there is no answer. If there is no answer, then why bother? To liken it... Over the winter, I discussed a story I wrote with a professor of mine. It was about a man in his late 50s. A man who had nearly everything. But my professor told me that he disliked it... It felt worthless to read it. Why read a story without hope? The man kills the one person he loves. So what? His life was hopeless, things happened, and it is still hopeless. There is no point in reading the story. There's no climax, really. Maybe exciting things happened, but nothing substantial does. Essentially, it was just wasted time. And anyways, if there was a point to it, it was to say that there is no hope in life, so live your live in despair and die unhappy. What a wonderful message. So I learned that day that if there's ever something to a story, it's that there needs to be a change... If there's hopelessness in the beginning of a story, there needs to be a ring of hope at the end. If the world is in chaos, it needs to end in order, and vice versa. If there is a mystery, there needs to be an answer. Perhaps, sometimes, there is an exception to this, however, as a general rule, it appears that this is how good stories are written--change happens.
That's one of my problem with LOST. A lot of fantastic and interesting things happen, however, at the end of it all, nothing changes. I'm still wondering what that damned polar bear was doing there. And honestly, I feel the show fell too short for my expectations. There was, at some point, and I'm not exactly sure where, but I think I blame the time stuff, when suddenly, I didn't like what was happening and I was only watching for a certain character (like Ben's back story) or to get an answer for a certain mystery.
I think my biggest problem, however, with LOST was that there was a lot of potential... A lot of potential for things really great, really interesting, and that it didn't always reach that. That sometimes, it almost came to a wonderful point, but that it fell short. I can't decide if LOST was more like Icarus or Daedalus... Either the writers tried too hard to reach something and wasn't able to achieve it, or it never quite tried at all... Above all things, this bothered me the most. I dislike unreached potential. If someone is an absolute crap writer because they will never be able to see how bad they are, are proud of what they are, then there's nothing to be done. That is a rare occurrence, honestly, that I'd say there is a purely bad writer out there, however I'm sure they exist. (In fact, I already listed two, especially one whose name starts with a K and his last starts with an A.) I feel I can accept that. However, I absolutely hate wasted potential. It's what keeps me up at night, contemplating on some failed story (or at least in my opinion) and thinking how it could be fixed.
I suppose I should note... I don't think that my opinion is necessarily the perfect one in the world. I could be wrong and I know I am on some things (I just don't know what--it's just an assured likelihood). I don't mean to sound conceited, saying "oh, yes, all these stories are terrible because I have such a great ability." This is, just, more or less, my opinion. I do think there's merit to what I just said about LOST. I mean, and I feel like I keep repeating this, but I do love a lot of certain aspects. There's something to the story that has such a specific feel and I like it. I just wish there weren't some major, glaring problems, especially with how mystery was handled. I think you could, perhaps, say that this is a call to others to, possibly, write better. So I hope it sort of works, or inspires people...
Saturday, June 09, 2012
In this case, it's my newest project, Theatre Magic. I have so much there, so much forming, and it's been around for some time. Not my longest project, but it's honestly a pretty old one, too. I can't tell what it is. I think I'm over-worrying about the comic portion. It is most certainly a comic. I've figure that one out a while ago. The problem, however, is that I'm worrying. Is it comic enough? Is it fast enough? Will people be interested?
Other times, I start to worry because I read other comics. I look at Sandman or Allan Moore's work (both are highly influential to me, primarily Gaiman, but through him Moore is too). I start to worry... These works feel so much more adult to me. Mine feels tiny and childish and cartoonish. It feels silly and cheap. Worthless. I feel like this project is a mockery of Sandman, somehow. That I just want to re-skin the series as this theatre realm with gods and a poor unfortunate soul wandering in the midst.
It just happens sometimes. Even if I look at things not related to my comic, superhero stuff or when I flip through House of Mystery. I worry that these great people who wrote all these things... That I'll walk up to a booth to chat to someone with my manuscript in hand (or possibly my query letter) and hand it to them and they'll look at me like I'm an insane little twat. I don't even know what they'd do then... Call in some guards and haul my ass out the door and I'll be banned from a convention forever. (It's not realistic, I know, but this is just what I think.) Maybe my idols, my inspirations will be there. All of them, even. I'll have this crowd of people I admire and they'll see me, the greatest writing failure in all of history.
And now I start to worry, because it sounds like I'm saying all these "me me me" things. It's not that I'm trying to be self-centered about all this, really. It's that I feel like I'm trying to belong into this circle that I don't and I'll be horrendously embarrassing for others, not just myself. Like "how dare she come in and ruin our cool writing club!? We're awesome people, why did she even bother? She can't write worth a damn!"
And then my cat, Cheerio Kitten, comes over and tells me "Wiiiiiii" and I chuckle and that's how my night goes. Worrying, worrying they my writing is crap, that my stories are weak and silly, and Kitten attempts to impart wisdom, but I cannot understand it.
Friday, June 08, 2012
I adore that this person made up a list of songs for Hardy, Stewart, Churchill, Schenck, and Webber. I particularly love that he made up things for why all these people went to school.
Thursday, June 07, 2012
Forgive me brother, flying high in cheer,
I sicken, knowing I, that rightful heir
To throne of ill repute, do grossly fear
That all of this you hear is not my care.
For oft I do despair that time will show
My words are all but lies, that you will think
Me just another monster that you owe
To win against, defeat, to bring to brink
So please know I speak now with utter truth
I still do love our years of boundless youth.
I wish I could rebuke the hate I feel
And be your brother, not in this despair.
Saturday, June 02, 2012
This is how I work. I have these three books in my lap, listen to music (get distracted by internet), and eat crisps. Then I doodle and sketch out the panel layouts per page as I write more detailed descriptions in the notebook. (I later then enter them in "official" manuscript form).
This project is called Theatre Magic and it's a comic. There's something I've always loved, and that's theatres. They're like raw energy to me--raw creative energy. There's actors ambling about, playwrights and dramaturgs, a mish mash of costumes and props that do not belong together, and the world in a set of scenery. So many minds take part and so much creativity flows through. It's ever changing. Props get sacrificed into new forms and costumes are ripped apart to make wonders. The stage is an age-old form. I would say it most likely transcends the written word, for in its own way, verbal tales are their own acting and theatre. Everybody acts, everybody pretends, and the theatre is the temple of human nature. And so, that is why I am writing this.
(I know I haven't said much on the project, but sorry, I'm keeping it that way for now.)
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Saturday, January 28, 2012
I rambled down the cramped dirt road. To my right, there was a sheer cliff face. To my left, a row of Victorian houses, each with their own personality. Some had moss covered rock fences, others had wood sheds. Before I arrived here, I tried to remember what this place was like. I had been bogged down, always wistfully desiring to return to this summer home, but there was always a reason not to go—there was a new project due, I had just finished a project and didn't want the hassle of driving up here, my fiance and I had planned a romantic getaway in our house. I was just busy. Then she died. It came as a surprise. It wasn't like I thought she'd live forever, but she was 32.
I passed the white, the green, and the eclectically painted homes and reached the Maine House. It was owned by our uncles, but my sister loved it so much, they passed it down to her. As a sort of family tradition, we all held a share of the house. It was a family house. It was for childhoods and summer.
I pulled into the dirt and gravel parking spot. I looked out across the treeline and at the foggy and grey expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. Waves roiled up against the beach. The three small islands were still squatting in the distance. I could hear the crashing. That soothing sound of the mysterious ocean. I stepped out of the car.
I placed a hand on the cool rock fence, moss growing out of the cracks. There was a metal gear stuck in a rock. The rock was warped. I sat down on it. When we used to come here as children, we arrived in a mini-bus. We'd stock pile the back with everything we needed for the two weeks and more. My sister and I would have our own seat. When we'd arrive, we were all tired—my dad was the worst off, of course, but as children, we just hated the sedentary blandness of driving for 8 hours. We wanted to scatter, run along the beaches, clamber up the cliff path, check out the local, yuppie hotel for interesting people, fellow kids, and when we were older, some hottie.
Luggage would stack up by the door as we lugged in our blankets and pillows—not because the house didn't have it, but we always brought a little of home here. It made us feel safer.
I pulled out the key to the house and unlocked the front door and entered the mud room. The house was strange, thinly built, as though it would whisk away like in the Wizard of Oz, and the rooms nestled together in odd angles. The mud room was a rectangular room, small, and opened to bother the kitchen and to the dining room. No one went through door to the dining room.
The kitchen was torn apart—there were no bowls, no flatware, no food in the fridge. There were two boxes on the kitchen table, something that was to be left behind, but beyond that, the kitchen was empty. The entire house was like this. The bare skeleton remained—the furniture, little odds and ends that didn't matter, but the charm was gone.
Tomorrow, the new owner was going to arrive. I would give him a little tour, even though he already had one with a real estate agent, but it would be one between owner to owner. It would be a silent passing of stories. The new owner and his family would make new memories and I would make my last one.
I wandered through the house, watching the waves and the three islands out the window, innocuous in the daylight, the fog dissipated in the sunlight. The second floor, filled with bedrooms, four to be exact, all in their silent state. Our parents always reserved the nicest room for themselves. My sister and I, we often shared a bedroom, and yet sometimes we'd brave the nights alone. Each bedroom had its own share of nightly terrors. In the attic, the effervescent presence of ghastly things seemed saddened today. There was always stuffy feel that mingled with that fear that you were being followed, being watched by some long past soul. The scorch marks in the one room never helped the matter. Neither did the despairing state of the attic bedroom and the murky red water in the abandoned bathroom.
Night would fall in several hours, so I left the house to visit the cliff path. As I left the house, the porch swing creaked goodbye.
The path was rather iconic—rocks, moss, pines, and rich brown earth. It was never a difficult climb. It was just a perfectly, friendly forest scene. The path leveled off and the pines always ended. Short, stocky blueberry bushes scattered around and I watched my step for the rocks formed nooks and crannies. It was always like walking into a barren land to me, despite the blueberry flora. It was the sky and the ocean. There was a harsh, glaring blue and grey. The world was bright compared to the pine walkway. Down this rocky and blueberry patch, the pines grew back. I always contemplated about this spot. Why so barren? My sister thought it was from a creature from beyond. Once, we found bones in the pines.
I walked to the pines up ahead and sat down on a rock ledge in the middle of the pathway. I used to bring an old laptop up here to write. It was usually a failed venture. The scenery was always more interesting than the screen. There were gauges in a tree nearby. Every summer, we'd find them up here. Only once we walked further among the pine path. We found a dense forest with two wooden slates forming an X across the entrance. Due to the thickness of the trees, we couldn't see far past the blockade. The path quickly delved into shadows. We never even dared each other to go further. We just stared into it, then left.
I wandered the pines for a while, feeling whatever beast it was watching me. Usually I felt that trepidation—would I become its next snack? And yet this time, I wasn't afraid. It had been about 10 years since I've been here last. It must of wondered where I went. It must have been thinking about how I have grown. I thought that it would be getting older, maybe it had its own family now. Maybe it was the son, hearing tales of two little girls running through the woods and now it finally has seen one of them. A monster fairytale, just as it was a fairytale for my sister and I.
I left the pines, passed the barren blueberries, and clambered down the pine slope and walked down to the yuppie hotel for dinner. I made sure to grab a handful of mints as I left, just as I always did as a kid.
Night fell as I stalked the house alone. As the sun set, I sat on the screen-covered porch in a wicker chair. The porch swing continued to swing at a lazy pace, back and forth, creaking along the way. Every so often objects moved in the house. It seemed a beneficial or neutral spirit, more minding its own little business than attempting to harm the two little girls that would stalk its movements in fascination. We would camp out at night, watching the swing. Sometimes we'd leave little gifts on it. When it became too dark to see, I left the porch, ensuring to place a mint on the swing.
I threw two logs in the fireplace and lit the newspaper. We always kept plenty of wood in the outside basement. I watched as the wood crackled, reveling in the warmth. I stood, keeping my hands warm. After some time, I stood by the bay window, staring out at three ghost lights that hovered over the three islands. Our father always told us that they were lighthouses, but when my sister and I dug through some newspaper clippings in the attic, we found an article about three widows, their husbands lost at see.
The fire died down. I turned on the lights as I headed upstairs. We had a system, my sister and I, in order to never be caught in the darkness. We would turn on a light, turn on the next closest one, then turn back to turn on the first light. We kept up this chain. The shadows couldn't get us then.
On the second floor, I paused at the first bedroom. It was the white room. It held a double bed. I opened the door and peered in. Empty. The linens were gone. The first time we came here, we found a porcelain doll resting on the pillows. She had black hair, black, shiny eyes. She wore a white dress and black buckle shoes. She should be in some box somewhere on her way to a storage unit. No matter where we place her, she always appeared back in this spot.
I closed the door and opened the next one. The yellow room. It was small, very cramped, and the walls angled oddly. We always felt time was slow in here. Even the light seemed yellow in here. At night, you could hear a faint voice singing an indecipherable lullaby.
I moved on to the third room. There was a pair of twin beds in here. A dresser stood in between the windows facing the beds. We always found candy in there, like magic. We theorized that this room once housed a pair of young tricksters. I was going to sleep here tonight. I turned on the lamp and closed the door and walked to the window. The three lights were still flickering in the distance. I listened to the waves crashing. The sea was always beautiful at night.
In time, the lamp flickered and went out. This happened a lot in this room, only at night. The door creaked open. That never failed to send a shiver of terror down my spine. A stomped my foot on the floorboards. The lamp turned back on. The door closed. I smiled.
I slept on one of the beds. I had brought a sleeping bag for the one night.
I woke up to the sun shining on my face. I sat up. Today, I had to give the key away. After I dressed and brushed my teeth, I walked down the hall to check the white room once more. The doll wasn't at the headboard.
I packed my sleeping bag and my toiletries. I ate a Nutrigrain bar and sat on the porch. An origami lily made out of the mint wrapper sat on the porch. In time, the front door knocked. I pocketed the lily and answered the door.
A man stood there. He had horn rimmed glasses and a mustache. He smiled and somewhat unassuredly asked if this was 98 Club Rd. I invited him in. I gave him the tour. He asked about the pipes and about the fireplace. I told him they worked fine, ever since the house was built. After the tour, I gave him the key. I told him I was going to walk on the beach one last time before leaving. We shook hands and I left.
It was low tide and I clambered down the glittering and iron-red rocks. I walked along the beach for a mile. I turned back and walked along the base of the cliff face that the pine path perched upon. My sister and I used to collect crabs and sand dollars. I used to hate the beach; something in the sand felt like maggots burrowing into my skin. Once, we dug a hole until we found sand worms. They were terrifying, their heads reminding us of tapeworms. Their bodies were segmented and they were very long. In horror and disgust, we never dug deep enough to find them again.
After a while, I headed back. I clambered back up the rocks for the last time. I passed the house for the last time. As I headed to my car, I heard a howl. It was loud. I turned to look at the pine path. Standing among the woods was a furry wolfman. He was tan. We stared at each other. He left, the bushes and trees cracking and swaying as he passed.
I thought about the theories my sister and I had about the Maine house. The timeless room. The porcelain doll. The vigilant ghostlights. The trickster twins. The spirit on the porch swing. The wolfman. I wondered how much of the house was real. How much of it was fantasy. I ate at some crummy diner along the way home. By the time I reached my home, it was midnight. I threw my keys on the couch and headed up to bed. A porcelain doll sat on the pillow, her black eyes shining. She wore a white dress and had black shoes. Her hair was black and perfectly straight.