Thursday, August 31, 2006

Adventures in medical care

I'm technically on vacation right now. My track was on for eight weeks, then we get eight weeks off before coming back in November, but I was offered the chance to teach for the entire vacation and make a shitpile of money, so I took it. I'd love to actually take a vacation and work on my script since I haven't really had a weekday off since February except my brief reunion trip, but when you're juggling bills the way I am you can't afford to turn down the extra dough.

My thyroid glands started swelling up on Monday. By Tuesday it was getting hard to eat solid foods, but it was the last day of the semester and I needed to clean out my room for the teacher coming in. I was being moved up to the top floor for eight weeks so I could move back in November. Don't try to figure it out; our school's a little retarded. By Wednesday it hurt to talk and I couldn't even swallow water without pain, but it was the first day of the new semester and I couldn't leave a new set of kids with a sub, so I went. At this point I'm on a liquid diet, but even that is too painful. I consumed about 800 calories total yesterday, including a bowl of soup I forced down.

What's been really annoying is how delicious my neighborhood smells. I want food but all I can do is chug down fat free chocolate milk.

Last night I finally took a flashlight and examined my tonsils. White stuff. Strep.

So today I went to the doctor. Not the urgent care center five miles away, but the fancy doctor's office by the airport forty-five minutes from my apartment, which is the only doctor in town my medical plan will allow me to go to. After waiting almost an hour, a tiny Asian man comes in, does the exact same thing with the flashlight I had done the night before and says "Oh yeah. You've got THE TONSILITIS." Then he writes a prescription for Penicillin and I'm out. Total actual time with doctor: 4 minutes. They did not validate my parking.

Then there was the nurse in the elevator who kept going on and on to the other nurse about how fabulous her lunch was. It was so much food that she had to take half of it out in this styrofoam container she kept waving under my nose. Had I not been so malnourished, I'd have punched her.

The doctor's office scale put me at 135. I've been going to the gym like gangbusters for six months, losing about a pound a week, in a valiant effort to get myself down to 135. I haven't been to the gym in a while because they fired Trainer for no good reason and he's the main reason I go to that ghetto place, so I'm trying to get out of my contract and follow Trainer to his new gym. At any rate, I'm wondering if it's even worth it. Fuck gyms. I'm going to publish a book: Emily's Involuntary Anorexia Diet. It'll sell millions. Just close off your throat and you won't be abe to eat food anymore.

I tried to drink one of those chocolate Hershey's Kisses milkshakes for lunch because I've got calories to spare today, but it turns out those things aren't actually good. At least I got some Penicillin, although why it takes five pharmacists an hour to fill one prescription is a mystery I will never unravel.

I have a feeling I'm not going to be able to go to work tomorrow either. That's one of the problems with a job that requires you to talk all day - it requires you to talk all day, whether you can or not. Screw that. I'm staying home. Expect some progress on that progress bar.

Somebody else has your idea

One of these was a spec and one of these was a pitch, but they both sold in the same week to two different production companies:

Movie #1: A college student decides to debunk the urban legend of the Mercy Killer, a killer who makes his victims' deaths look like suicides, only to discover that he is all too real and has chosen her as his next victim.

Movie #2: Set in the world of urban legends on college campuses, with one horrifying legend in particular turning out to be true.

I guess they think we've all forgotten about Urban Legend by now.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Brutal killing makes me weepy

Saturday night I watched the penultimate season one episode of Rome. I like Rome. Period pieces are so hard to pull off on television, but as we've all learned, HBO likes nothing more than to accel at a challenging project.

The episode is called "Spoils" and it's about Titus Pullo's descent into the squalor of Rome's prisons and gladiator ring. He's been arrested for murder and must now pay the consequence.

First of all, the characters on this show are complex people. Every episode my allegiance changes as more people betray those who love them or put themselves on the line for others. I'd like to add Mark Antony as my eleventh favorite character on TV. He's loyal to Caesar beyond reason but he's rutheless. He's honest. He makes no apologies for who he is and he doesn't stand for hypocrisy. He's the man with the least scruples but at the same time the one character you can trust to do exactly what he claims he will. James Purefoy is also brutally hot and occasionally appears buck naked. Yay.

But what I loved about this particular episode was the gladiator scene. MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD.

As Pullo sits in the gladiator ring sadly waiting his demise, the gladiators try to egg him into fighting because nobody wants to watch a straight-up execution. The mistake they make is in bringing up Pullo's military regiment. He goes ballistic, yelling out the name of his regiment as he slices through gladiators left and right. But there is an endless stream of men and Pullo, though an extraordinary badass, is still only a man and eventually they will kill him. His best friend Varinus, the former superior officer turned politician watches in pain, unwilling to risk his career to help his metaphorical brother.

At this point while watching it I was screaming at my television, tears flowing freely down my cheeks, "Save him! Damn your career! Just save him, please!"

Now that's good television. I was completely relieved when Varinus finally couldn't take it anymore and stepped in to save the day. I thanked him profusely, wiping the tears away.

That's why I love television. Somewhere in a writer's room a bunch of writers thought up that plot point and together with the director and a bunch of brilliant actors and crew people took it to the screen and made me feel a genuine emotional connection to people who supposedly lived centuries ago. Amazing.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The best of this week's essays


Choose one of the following questions to answer.
1) Why are the authorities in The Crucible so resistant to believe the girls are lying?
2) What are Reverend Parris' motivations in support of the witch trials?
3) What role does sex and sexual repression play in The Crucible?

You can guess which question most of them tried to answer. Actually, most of them just gave me a summary of the plot. Here are the most memorable responses:

"The story I'm going to write about is named The Crucible written by the author author miller. I will be explaining this story in this essay I'm going to write. I will be writting three body paragraph to tell you my three favorite parts of the story I liked the most."

"In one way Mrs. Proctor knew that she had failed him because she didn't satisfied him. For example when the time of having sex she would just lay there and wouldn't do anything, Mr. Proctor would always do all the work."

"After Proctor had said that he had sex with Abigail, Marry Warren talk too and said that Abigail was the one doing witchcraft and that she was a bitch."

One down, six more to go

Even though the progress bar hasn't moved this week, I have been working on my spec pilot in my head. In the beginning I had a vague idea for a concept that had potential. If you read my post about my favorite TV characters you know how much I love characters who blur the line between good and evil, so the cornerstone of my script is a plan to turn the view of a superhero on its head and I'm pretty thrilled with the mission statement I've established.

My problem has been in developing the characters. I'm trying to play with cliches without having my characters become them, and that's always a challenge. I'm a little worried about giving my characters personlaity quirks just for the sake of quirkiness, because it feels like everything's already been done. So I was thinking about one of my characters, the protagonist's best friend who's a guy with no real conscience who does a shady job for a living, but a job that would get him laid with ease. I was trying to figure out his angle, how to flesh him out and give him more personality, and I remembered something Bill Martell wrote about giving your character a trait that's the opposite of their normal behavior. So I gave my guy a domineering girlfriend. What if this badass criminal who feels no guilt at all about punching some innocent guy in the face repeatedly crumbles at the slightest word from his girl? That's a quirk that adds a little comedy potential in addition to giving us a little more humanity in the guy. I'm basing him on an actor friend of mine who would never be whipped but who makes a fantastic villain, and I really hope he doesn't mind me using this picture of him. He looks exactly like my character needs to.

This guy is now my favorite character in the story. My protag is going to have to get more interesting to keep up.

But then I worry that his new character quirks have probably been done too. I guess there is no real way to be completely creative. There's only 36 dramatic situations, after all, and only so many different ways people can behave. But after all this time we're still surprising each other, so I guess that's something. I can only hope my characters charm everybody else the way they're charming me.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

So good so good so good.

Are movies so great because they echo our true lives, or are they pushing us to become more like the fictional versions of ourselves?

Last night I joined the guy from Fever Pitch at the Red Sox/Angels game. Thank God the Sox won because I think I'd still be hiding in the bathroom to avoid his Hulk-like behavior at the ballpark if they lost. Instead, I got hugs and high fives and generally cheerful behavior.

I was Drew Barrymore, but without the laptop. I asked a question about fastballs and got a twenty-minute demonstration of all the pitches that exist. There are more than I thought, and boy do I not remember most of them. I felt like I was in baseball class, but it's more fun than it sounds. Baseball fans kind of light up when they teach you things. It's adorable. It really was like hanging out with Jimmy Fallon.

There was a fist fight nearby between fans of the opposing teams. Why does an Angels fan from LA pick a fight with the big-ass dock worker from Boston? He had a beer-induced concussion and was carried out on a stretcher.

I'd never been to a major league game before because we don't really have any teams in NC. It's a basketball state. But I had so much fun I wish I had tickets to tonight's game too. I think I'm a baseball fan now.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Just when you think the world is against you...

I'm not exactly the world's most organized teacher. My class is laid back and most days I do my lesson planning the night before or that morning on the way in. I know the general idea of what I'm going to teach, but I don't lay out my lessons in advance, and I don't pay careful attention to the objectives and state standards and agendas and other stuff we're always supposed to do to look good on paper. On paper, I look like the worst teacher ever.

In the classroom, however, I get things done. My kids don't always realize they're learning because I don't like to shine the flashlight on the material. I like my education to sneak in when you're not looking and clock you over the head and run off with your woman. That conversation we had about herpes? That was really about the archetype of the goddess figure. Take that, guy who taught that boring methods class. We all know how much I idolize Joss Whedon in my writing life, but Frank McCourt is my teaching idol. I think Teacher Man was written just for me. That tiny Irish man doesn't have time for crappy rules that ignore common sense and I'm the same way.

Still, yesterday a colleague of mine told me I was in trouble. I'd already had a talking to about my pacing (I get off topic and spend days discussing stuff not at all related to the play we're reading, and this makes the play go on for infinity) and I've been caught several times not writing the day's objective on the board or dressing way too casually for education. Then a crazy lady supposedly wrote me and another teacher up for not working hard enough to keep pot smokers off the stairs near our classrooms while we are supposed to be in those classrooms teaching. I have an outside balcony room which I love, but it means I get ditchers out there and I have to shoo them into the building. Apparently the crazy lady didn't think I was doing a good enough job. Probably because while she just yells at them, I tell them that if they don't leave I will just keep annoying them to death with my obnoxious voice until they go to class. My way gets better results. I think she's jealous.

The point is, I was feeling pretty demoralized going into a meeting with my boss. Everybody had to have this meeting at one point or another, but I just knew I was going to get reamed for my lack of professionalism even though my kids are learning. Because that's always bugged me about teaching: a teacher can be the most organized, lesson-planning fool in the world but still spend the entire class period doing worksheets and watching videos, and they get all the accolades because they cross their Ts the right way. Meanwhile, the one who's really teaching gets yelled at for failing to fill out the proper forms on time. In an ideal world I'd be able to do both, but I'm a writer. You know how we are. I'm amazed I remember to put my pants on properly.

So I go into this meeting and my boss is very pleasant and gives me a few pointers and I listen waiting for the big blow of insults, but they don't come. Instead she says the following: "I'm happy. Because when I walk into your classroom your students are smiling. And it's not because they're not doing anything, it's because they're learning."

And that's why I get to keep teaching upper-classmen. I'm good at it. Apparently.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Ten TV Characters I Love the Most

So Joss Whedon posted his top 25 favorite TV characters, and since I'm attempting to become a prettier, less feminine version of him and I love making lists, I'm gonna copy him and make my own top 10 list because 25 is too hard.

My Ten Favorite TV Characters

10)Weyoun, Star Trek Deep Space Nine. He was a vorta. You might think I'm coming out of left field on this one, but hear me out. Weyoun had some of the best facial expressions, and he did it all covered in latex. He rarely let anything ruffle his feathers. He was always charming and poised and completely devoted to the Dominion. Whenever they wanted to kill him they could just clone him first, so he could die a lot and still show up on the show. But I liked the first Weyoun best, the one who was seducing the Cardassians. He was funny.

9)Vic Mackey, The Shield. Talk about your moral ambiguity. No character in television history has made me more confused about my values. He'll give a prostitute money to get food for her son, then beat the shit out of a suspect and steal drugs from the Armenian mob. He loves his wife and kids, but has no objection to crazy sex with a confidential informant. Perticularly during the first season, I often found myself spending hours puzzling over how I feel about Vic. I have no idea what's going to happen to him when it's all over, but I want to find out.

8)Illyria, Angel. She's blue and she's unfamiliar with our puny human ways. If they had to kill Fred, I'm glad they replaced her with the coolest morally vacuous chick they could find. She's curious about everything and at the same time thinks it's all beneath her. And she considers Spike her toy and wants to keep him as a pet. In the finale she says "I shall make trophies of their spines." And she does. It's just a shame we didn't get more time to know the crazy broad.

7)The Chief, Battlestar Galactica. I know most people would choose the captain or the president or Baltar, but I love Chief Tyrol the most. He loved Sharon so completely he was willing to risk his career to be with her, and she turned out to betray him. But that didn't matter because the Chief is such a good man that he forgave her and even blamed himself for not being able to protect her from Callie, with whom he has his own issues. Plus, he built that cool spy plane.

6)JD, Scrubs. This is my only shout out to comedy.
JD is adorably goofy. I love his outlook on life - so hopeful and appreciative of what he has, yet when things get serious he always knows exactly how to hit it home. I would gladly hang out with JD any time, I just wouldn't date him.

5)Jayne Cobb, Firefly. Dumb, muscular, sex-crazed, hilarious. I adore Jayne. Hell, he's the hero of Canton, how can you not adore him? I always wanted to know why a guy like that would follow Mal around with such blind devotion. There was so much backstory and so much potential in his character. I'm sorry the world will never get to see it. And if you haven't seen Firefly by now, you're missing. Go rent it. Or better yet, just buy it because you'll want to watch it over and over again. And Jayne will make you laugh every time.

4)Logan Echolls, Veronica Mars. I agree with Joss on this one. Logan is complicated as hell. He managed to start the show as the stereotypical asshat rich kid until we learned about his life, and then we all fell in love with him collectively. I cringe every time he tries to sabatoge himself. It's impossible not to respect him because Logan is who he is and refuses to apologize or fake anything. If I was ever in a jam in Neptune I would call Logan first, then tell him to call Veronica's dad.

3)Original Cindy, Dark Angel. She manages to be the gay character and the black character and it doesn't seem forced at all because Valerie Rae Miller owns it. Her vocabulary alone is worth its own dictionary. I wish I could talk like that and get away with it. Hell, I wish I could call myself Original Cindy. Plus, she put herself on the line for transgenics several times when she could easily have kept her head down and stayed out of trouble. She's one awesome chick.

2)Spike, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. He's run through every emotional state possible on that show. He's been evil, pathetic, sweet, angry. He's saved the world a couple of times, but his best scenes were during his struggles as a monster trying to be a man. There is a scene in the season seven episode "Beneath You" when he lays his vampire body over a sizzling cross in the church, demanding to know what God wants of him. He's comic relief so often that when he plays it tragic, it's to perfection. Plus, his sex scenes are steamy. That man oozes sexuality.

1)Aeryn Sun, Farscape. She's beautiful, she's badass, and she looks good in leather. One of my favorite lines in all of television is from a season one episode when Aeryn busts open a prison cell and rescues John Chrichton. Stark, John's fellow prisoner, asks who she is. "That," John Chrichton replies with a glowing smile, "is the radiant Aeryn Sun". That about summed her up for the rest of the series. She was half of the team that sold the romance around which the show rotated, one of the best on-screen romances ever. Plus, she wore a battle pony. She's so cool.

Who's in your top ten?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

If I actually knew you, you could crash at my place.

So it's getting on in August, and that means it's time for the annual blogosphere question that haunts all aspiring screenwriters across the land: Should I go to the Expo? I hear the worry in your voices, the fear that the ridiculous amount of money you drop to fly to LA and stay in a hotel may only result in hours of boring power point presentations and maybe a free pen. Well, I went to the Expo last year, so let me share my experience and let you decide, because I am nothing if not full of ancient wisdom. Well, full anyway. I just ate dinner.

I didn't exactly go to the Expo as a normal paying customer last year. If there's one thing teachers are famous for, it's our underwhelming salaries, so I volunteered to help so I could get in free. When you volunteer you work one day, and that means you get to use your special pass to go to whatever seminars you want the other days, which is peachy because anything outside the keynote speaker room is extra. We volunteers stand at the door in our free T-shirts and make you look like an idiot by throwing you out if you didn't take the time to read the directions. If you had, you'd have known that you had to buy tickets to this thing ahead of time, loser. Get out and take your composition notebook and your big dorky messenger bag with you.

On my day off I only sat in on Bill Martell's seminar and I actually learned something and wasn't bored. I'm a teacher; that's the best compliment I can give.

I'm pretty sure most of the speakers were not that good. I don't recommend spending your money on the seminars unless you've looked the speaker up and know they have more credits to their name than sitting next to Shane Black one time in film school and copying off his notes. They tend to say crap you could have learned better by reading the columns on Wordplayer.

Speaking of Shane Black, when the boy wonder tried to show up in cognito on the last day he gave his cell number to William Goldman. Some douchetard actually looked over his shoulder and copied it down. I would love to have been in on THAT phone conversation.

At any rate, after I listened to Bill I went to hear John August talk in the big room and learned some things there too. For one thing, I learned that John August is very wise and adorable as hell and that some aspiring screenwriters are amazingly pretentious. I pretty much spent my whole first day sitting alone and listening to other writers go on about how awesome they are and how much everybody else sucks.

The second day I got there early because it's first come, first served in choosing your spot for the day. They make you pick a spot and then you stay there all day, and I wanted the big room because that's where David Koepp, Paul Haggis, William Goldman and my personal hero Joss Whedon were going to be during the day. This is where my teacher advantage really showed itself. Most writers can't get up before noon. I was the first one in line, bitches. 6:30 a.m. I was not going to miss Joss Whedon.

That's how I made friends. There were two really cute guys working the room with me all day and I made friends with them both, one of whom later did me a huge solid that I didn't deserve. I wish I could say I'm still friends with them, but I didn't do a very good job of maintaining. Maybe this year I'll see them again and rekindle.

Anyway, that's also how I had fun. I worked one seminar and learned that most guest speakers are actually kind of common sensey and not really worth the extra ticket price. Then I sat in the big room all day, doing cartwheels (Literally - I made you wait so I could practice gymnastics. Kiss my ass.) while people waited outside clamoring to get in and tracking down microphones so people could ask questions. Anybody who marched up to the mic in the middle of the room to ask a question - that was all my doing. You'd have had to yell if it weren't for me. I'm also the reason no cell phones went off during Joss Whedon's interview. I used my teacher voice to threaten everybody. I wonder if he appreciated that. Oh, and on the video there's one lone cheer for the mention of the X-Men comic. That would be me. I'm all over that bitch in real subtle ways.

Joss Whedon actually looked at me for a minute when he walked by. I buckled like an idiot and stared at him, open-mouthed and shaking. So much for being cool when you come face to face with your hero. Nathan Fillion did not look at me, which is unfortunate because I would have handled that better.

I stayed in that room most of the day and heard all the keynote speakers. That's all I really wanted and that's what I recommend you spend most of your time on. Jeff Goldsmith is a great interviewer, and you get far more out of his conversations with the writers than you will from most of the people trying to justify their pay on the side.

The point is, I had fun and met people. And absolutely without question if you go you must stay for the networking party, a great opportunity to connect with other writers. One word of warning: don't mention podcasting to Jeff Goldsmith unless you're really into it and want to talk about it for three hours.

Do not bother with the pitch fest. Massive waste of time.

If you feel up to it the Open is worth it. I'm not brave enough to try, but I loved watching the scripts presented the final day and the winner definitely got a well-deserved push in the old career. The downside is that you miss everything else that's going on while you write.

So there you are. If you go let me know and we'll meet up for drinks.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

We at White Board Markers have no sense of humor that we are aware of, ma'am.

So I suck at comedy. Last time I tried writing a comedy it turned into some kind of generic teen movie with no real jokes. In the five pages of my Earl spec I have completed thus far I only have one real joke, and that's a comment I overheard someone say at the beach that I thought would be perfect coming out of Randy's mouth. The irony is, my dramas include some great comedic moments. I guess I'm funnier when I'm not trying.

So I'm finally giving up the ghost and ditching the comedy. It's time I accept that I'm not funny. Hence the disappearance of the Earl spec from the progress bar.

The good news is its replacement. I was flopping back and forth between two ideas for a spec pilot and neither of them worked. One was a comedy that didn't really lend itself easily to the episodic format, and the other was an expensive sci-fi that had a lot of elements of existing shows. Then I realized that an action feature I was twisting around in my head would make a perfect TV drama unlike anything on the air at the moment but still following a commercial mold. And if Heroes takes off on NBC this fall I'll be in the perfect position to pitch it.

I'll just add Earl to the ever-growing pile of specs I never finished. I learned my lesson. No more comedy, Emily. Stick to what you're good at. Action drama with morally ambiguous characters.

Monday, August 14, 2006

My Jordan's name was Steve

There is a Jordan Catalano in every high school. The hot, broody guy who never gets upset and either plays sports or guitar. He drives a car that he knows how to fix if it breaks down, he has lots of hair that falls casually in his face when he's thinking too hard, he smokes, he knows how to lean against lockers just so, and he doesn't give a damn about your authority when he wants to skip school to go to the beach and surf. And every single girl in the school, whether she admits it or not, is madly in love with Jordan Catalano.

Oh sure, you can tell yourself that Brian Krakow is the guy. He's nice, he's funny and he really gets you. You don't have to work too hard with Brian. There's no sense of danger, no reason to worry because Brian will always be there. Nobody else appreciates how awesome he is, and really, he is awesome. I swear. He's got personality, you just gotta see it. And nice eyes. He has nice eyes. I'm not kidding.

Most of us try Brian Krakow. Many of us end up marrying Brian Krakow. Hell, you might actually be Brian Krakow, and that's okay because Brian wins in his own way. He's in this for the long haul, when the girl finally gets tired of chasing Jordan around and getting hurt when he doesn't emote enough to suit her delicate needs. Because Jordan's not an emoter. That's why he had to get poor old Brian to write his love letters. But that doesn't mean every girl doesn't still want Jordan Catalano.

It doesn't matter how many girls he's cheated on or how many hearts he's broken, or how many times he's patted you on the head and told you what a great sister you'd make. One of these days, Jordan will turn around and see you and realize you're beautiful and change his ways. He'll be the Warren Beaty to your Annette Benning and you will live happily ever after driving around in his car looking cool and making all the popular cheerleading bitches jealous.

Until you're in your mid-to-late twenties. Then Jordan Catalano is kind of a loser. But a boy who used to be Jordan Catalano - that's hot stuff. The reformed bad boy who still maintains some of that residual coolness, the responsible possible father of your children who admits he's made some bad decisions in the past but is so glad he cleaned up so he could meet you and make you his woman. That guy is hot.

The truth is, we never stop wanting Jordan Catalano. We'll always regret not having him, and getting him as an adult is kind of a conquest in itself. That's what makes him such a great character. My So-Called Life nailed every high school girl's dreamboat - hot, broody, nonchalant and a little bit stupid. Poor Brian never stood a chance.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The best of this week's student essays

Prompt: What is a hero? Use a character from any film you have seen recently to define what it means to be a hero in today's society.

Memorable responses:

"[Spiderman] gets to swing around all day and when theirs is trouble he could sens it with is spidy seens know that is ganster. I also like his attitude he is not a cold blooded bastard that acts fuck up. Neither a consided muthefucker he acts like himself just who he is suppost to be."

"Then they say a girl name Lisa so Terminator start shooting they had to take Lisa were they stay at. They had to take the robots a way from her. The boy name Alan he was helping Terminator fight."

"But I think if Superman really excist in this time he would have to be Hood and get to know all the gangs of LA and he probably would be Black with nappy hair and with muscles. But he would be cool with the Bloods and the Crips and that would be his reason for his Red and Blue outfit."

Friday, August 11, 2006

Smallville killed my family

My response to Claude's post ended up running so long I decided to plant that sucker over here.

These are the reasons I can't stand Smallville.

I love superhero stories. The good versus evil, innocents in peril, righteous conquering all despite the frailty of human nature - it's that Joseph Campbell monomyth we've all had beaten into us repeatedly in writing seminars and classes. I even took and entire eight week period in my senior English class to focus solely on the hero in literature, and it's turning into the most fascinating curriculum I've ever used. So even though Superman isn't my favorite of the tights-wearing saviors (I'm a Marvel girl), I was still pretty damn excited about Smallville. I watched the first two seasons pretty diligently, but I just couldn't take it anymore after that.

First of all, Tom Welling, although still brutally hot and I'd totally nail him, is like 57 by now. I'm all for actors who can pull it off playing teenagers, but he was already too old to play the role when they hired him. Now it's just silly. They must have to use Superman's actual heat vision to keep his five o'clock shadow at bay.

But I can get past that - suspension of disbelief and all - if only they didn't water it down so much. Smallville got all WB'd out. You know: predictable, pretty people over-enunciating as they have long discussions about why they keep doing the same things over and over every episode. It's like Dawson's Creek if Dawson could bale an entire farm worth of hay in ten seconds and if he whined a lot more while doing it. In fact, have you ever seen Clark do anything other than bale hay? What the hell do they grow on this farm? Fences? Dirt? Dirt fences?

Then there was Pete. Poor Pete, the only black guy in Smallville. His only purpose in life was to show up at the last minute and tell Clark somebody was in peril, unless it was the one episode a season where they gave him a one-episode hobby like hot-rod racing that put him in the peril, leaving some other perifferal character to alert Clark to Pete's dangerous temporary interest. That is, until the day they packed him off to the land of discarded TV token minorities. Right now, Pete is somewhere playing pool with that Latina from The OC.

But most importantly, the only people who ever really suffer on that show all deserve it. Clark always saves the day. I've literally called the moment the whoosh sent him onto the scene to catch somebody just as they were falling into the ravine, or facing off against a bullet, or slamming their head into a wall over stupid plot devices. Okay maybe that last one was just what I was doing in my living room, but still. At the end of one season they actually had the gumption to blow up Chloe. I was excited. I hate Chloe. She doesn't talk like any high school girl I've ever taught, not that Lana does but maybe Lana's just pretentious. Chloe's annoying. Anyway, after trying to kill her and making Clark save her like four dozen times, they blew up Chloe. Yay. So I tuned in the next season and there's Chloe, not blown up at all. It was all a ploy by Lex or something but I don't really know because that's the last episode I watched.

And what the hell is up with this picture? Seriously?

But speaking of Lex, what's up with a rich dude hanging around with high school kids all the time? Where I come from we call that creepy. And don't get me started on the actual town of Smallville. I haven't spent a lot of time in Kansas, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't look so remarkably like Vancouver. Canyons? Caves? Ravines? Foresty mountain passes? Really? In Kansas? Dammit, Smallville, make an effort here.

I have to go watch an episode of Buffy now to calm me down. Nobody's safe from peril there.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The first cup is free, but after that you have to pay.

I don't like most drinks. I don't drink coffee, tea, milk, diet sodas or anything that claims to be healthy. That leaves water, lemonade and Dr. Pepper. Oh glorious, glorious Dr. Pepper, how I love your caffeinated tangy sweetness and your perky aftertaste. You are the only real beverage I love.

So it's a bit odd that my room became the hub of coffee-addicted students. After the umpteenth time I yelled and kicked desks to wake up my first period, I was told that only coffee would keep them up. When my ex moved out he didn't take the coffee pot, so I brought it in the next day.

A month later, the coffee pot has consumed the identity of the room. All three classes have a self-appointed coffee maker who gets the water and starts the brew, and I keep a small bank next to the pot for donations so that every Saturday I can go to Vons and buy any specific coffee needs we may have for the week. The kids sometimes go through three pots per 95 minute class period. Occasionally they show up with mugs of their own and little cartons of milk.

I have been forced to make a treaty with the vast ant population that regularly marches up to the table to take inventory of my sugar stock. Initially, I had a container filled with sugar, but by the end of the first day the ants raised a flag over it and claimed it for their own in a fairly disgusting display of insect pride. I switched to Splenda packets, but they never give up hope. The still come by every now and then and sniff around, and occasionally get away with a little spilled non-dairy creamer. They share my distaste for the coffee itself, though.

Yes, I am caffeinating the youth of South Central. Most likely, I have hooked them on the liquid crack so they spend the rest of the day as wired little freaks searching for their next fix. But boy do they love coming to my class.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

An ode to Pink Bag

Sometime an accessory is so fabulous you just have to take a moment and appreciate its existence. I bought Pink Bag for six dollars from a street vendor in Rome. It's some sort of knock-off of a really expensive brand called "Pinko Bag", which may or may not be some kind of Communist purse.

I love Pink Bag. I love Pink Bag first and foremost because it's not pink. I get weird looks sometimes when people puzzle out why it claims to be a color it is not. What's that bag trying to say? Does it have an identity crisis? Is it color blind? Is that girl carrying it kind of an idiot? It makes for a fine conversation starter.

Pink Bag is so cheap that it's just an empty sack inside. No pockets, no special zippers, no fancy schmancy bells and whistles. Just a little perfectly-sized bag, big enough to hold all the crazy shit I carry - and I carry a lot of emergency supplies in that sucker - but small enough to fit snugly around the shoulder and tuck in close to the body so as to never be a burden on my comfort.

Pink Bag's days are numbered, though. The seams on the inside have started to unravel and get caught up in the zipper. I patiently pull out the Swiss army knife because I keep that in there too, and cut the loose threads, but they soon return. The glittery letters that embody Pink Bag's identity have faded to a dull dust of color over the smooth black surface. It's like watching your favorite pet get weaker and weaker until the day you have to run off to the vet and put it down. Scratch that, it's like watching your favorite accessory become old and busted. Because I love the damn bag, but I love my cat more.

So this is for you, Pink Bag, for however much more time we may have together. I don't care whether you go with my oufit or not, you will always be a part of my wardrobe until the day I have to cut you open with scissors because your zipper will no longer run on its tracks. There will be other purses, but there will only ever be one Pink Bag in my life.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Waiting to Exhale a rain of bullets on your ass

Scott the Reader has an interesting post and discussion about female screenwriters and it got me to thinking. I love action scripts. I'm just not a romcom girl. Give me explosions and cool martial arts battles and swords any day and I'll be happy, as long as it has substance.

So most of my scripts are action-oriented, even my TV specs. I managed to work a fist fight into my House spec, and don't get me started on Supernatural and the ridiculous level of violence I plugged into that one. But I also gravitate toward female protagonists, and that's something seriously lacking in action scripts.

TV has plenty of hot, ass kicking-chicks with substance. Sydney Bristow, Buffy Summers, Xena. But films? Aside from Ripley, who else is worth watching?

Catwoman, Elektra, Aeon Flux, Ultraviolet - not exactly setting the world on fire.

I have a theory as to why. Men did most of the writing and directing, first of all. There is a credited woman on Catwoman and Aeon Flux was directed by a woman, but men still dominated the story construction, and they definitely own the studios. That's bound to affect how the women are written.

But I think it goes deeper than that. All the women who lead in action pics tend to have one thing in common: anger. They're all so pissed off at life and eat men for breakfast, and that's not an appealing hero for men or for women. Take Ripley, without a doubt one of the best female heroes ever. She started as a tough woman, but one with vulnerabilities. She's genuinely hurt when the doctor turns out to betray her, and she runs scared from the Alien much of the time in the first movie. In the second one, she's much badder ass, but she's only that way because she's afraid and she wants to protect those she loves. She's still a woman, after all.

And that's what's wrong with the third and fourth films, among other things. There's still a remnant of that femininity in Three, but by Four she's so angry and confused that's she's a turn-off as a character. She's just a big ball of rage and not really a woman anymore. A woman doesn't have to be enraged to be tough.

What do you think? Am I full of crap or am I a storytelling genius?

My kids are a riot.

This morning I nearly passed out, I was laughing so hard. My kids are a funny little bunch, especially when they're not trying. Apparently, "Marco's" girlfriend ran off with his best friend and he's very upset about it, so he's been talking a lot of shit to the friend. But when the friend offered to fight Marco, he balked and ran across the street, and "Stephanie" finds this unmanly. So they got into this long volley of insults about whther or not Marco should have fought his friend. Then "Juan" chimes in to say that he thinks it's not worth it to get in a fight over a girl, at which point Stephanie turns on him and uses her sharp whit on both boys at the same time, all while I'm trying desperately to get the conversation back to The Crucible by interjecting a lot of "okays" and "yes, but it's Danforth's turn to talk," all while trying really hard to control my laughter. The whole time Stephanie was applying her mascara. She barely even looked away from the mirror. Then in the middle of it all another student let out a loud shriek because he couldn't take the bickering anymore.

I wished I had a video camera. All I kept thinking about was how I hoped I didn't forget the exhange because it would make beautiful dialogue in a teen comedy.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Ten years can improve a lot of bad haircuts

Bonus points to the person who can find me in my shiny blue dress. I'm kind of easy to spot. Taking this picture nearly cost the photographer his life as he stood in traffic, but I think it was worth it. We look fabulous.

I am so glad I went to my high school reunion. I ended up having such a good time that I missed my flight and stayed an extra day. Totally worth the cost of the flight.

It's funny how the core of what we were has never changed. People got better looking and more mature and happier with who they are, but the popular people are still charming and the dorky people are still a little awkward and the same people end up hanging out with each other.

I was surprised by how many people knew who I was. Some of them I had no clue as to how the hell I knew them, but I was glad to see them anyway. One thing that was weird was being hit on by boys I used to play hackey-sack with at lunch. I guess I'm not just "one of the guys" anymore. Also, I apparently just missed out on being named best dressed, not bad for a girl whose standard high school uniform was a flannel shirt and baggy jeans.