Friday, September 11

I Will Not Read Your Fucking Script

Josh Olson was cornered at a party by a young man and his girlfriend. The young man recently spent a year of his life writing a screenplay, and was about to submit it to a contest or whatever--but he wants a professional opinion. Is this any good? Who better to ask than someone who's been nominated for an Academny Award for his work on A History of Violence, right?

Olson knew he should have said no. He barely knew the guy but he knew the girlfriend, and so took the 2-page synopsis, read the crap, and tried to thoughtfully put down words on paper. The e-mail took him longer than several movie rewrites, and later, another mutual friend comes up to him. "I heard you pulled a dickmove on Whatshisface."

This is why Josh Olson--and any sane writing professional--will not read your fucking script:
Which brings us to an ugly truth about many aspiring screenwriters: They think that screenwriting doesn't actually require the ability to write, just the ability to come up with a cool story that would make a cool movie. Screenwriting is widely regarded as the easiest way to break into the movie business, because it doesn't require any kind of training, skill or equipment. Everybody can write, right? And because they believe that, they don't regard working screenwriters with any kind of real respect. They will hand you a piece of inept writing without a second thought, because you do not have to be a writer to be a screenwriter.
Screenwriters never really get the respect they deserve. Olson relates an anecdote about Picasso, who was approached by a guy at a party and asks Picasso to draw on a napkin and he'll pay him. Picasso does it, hands the drawing to the man and asks for a million dollars. "What, but it took you thirty seconds to do that!" Picasso shrugs, "Well, it took me fifty years to learn to do that in thirty seconds."

The anecdote underscores the fact that writers are never really perceived as professionals. Olson compares this with asking a house painter friend to paint your living room on his day off, or asking a surgeon to take out your gall bladder over coffee. Writers get paid to read someone's work and give their professional opinion on it. Nobody really just wakes up and goes to the gym, and suddenly realizes, "But, oh, I can do a triple bypass on someone right now." The same way with writers.

Elsewhere, a really bizarre internet true story by Olson: The Life and Death of Jesse James.

Thursday, September 10

Campbell's Sticky Tape Soup

Eddie Campbell with God: "I knew it! All of existence is held together with paper clips and sticky tape."

While waiting in the dentist's office last weekend, I realized I didn't bring any books with me. I snuck into the Powerbooks branch downstairs and went through their sale pile. And there, waiting for me was a copy of Eddie Campbell's The Fate of the Artist (New York: First Second Books, 2006). At 85% off and Php119--and a first edition at that--it's a steal and very much worth it. Managed to finish it over two dental visits.

The book's title page declares that this is "an autobiographical novel (1) , with typographical anomalies (2), in which the author does not appear as himself (3)."

What this means:

(1) The author has suffered a kind of "domestic apocalypse." He has disappeared, and what's left on the floor of his storage space was this scrawled picture of god as a smiley. We hear about Campbell's various neuroses through vignettes told by his daughter Halley, old Honeybee comic strips which portray the travails of a married couple from the last century, and other passages which portray the author as a hypochondriac, depressive, obssessive artist. But then again, which artist is not like that?

(2) The book is a collage of sorts. You have the aforementioned Honeybee strips, the interviews with Halley, the brief prose passages which are bookended with found objects, and sections which look into the tradition of comedy, humor and obscure artists, and even a comics dramatization of O. Henry's "Confessions of a Humorist" featuring Eddie Campbell who is not exactly played by Eddie Campbell.

(3) It's not Eddie Campbell because there's a guy named Richard Seigrist who appears as Eddie Campbell.

It's a very playful book. At 96 pages, it's a short one, but manages to give us a sustained meditation on "the lonely demands of art amid the realities of everyday life."

You can read an excerpt here.

Wednesday, September 9

The Ex-Future First Lady

This comes from the Professional Heckler and reminds me so much of the stories I heard before:

Top 10 Messages Left on Korina Sanchez’ Answering Machine

No. 10: Hello ‘nak, si Nanay Cristy Fermin mo ‘to. Isaisip mo sa tuwina, ang Poong Maykapal ay hindi nagbibigay ng pagsubok na hindi kakayanin ng Kanyang nilalang. Malalampasan mo ‘yan ‘nak. Teka lang, ‘nak, ‘yong pangako mong sobre, ‘di ko pa natatanggap.

No. 9: Hi Korina, sa ABS-CBN newsroom ‘to. We’re all here! Guys, altogether now. One… two… three! Ang saya-saya!

No. 8: Hello Korina, Cynthia Villar here. I don’t expect you to believe me but… ramdam kita. Andun ka na eh! Todo-effort ka na eh! Nag-leave ka pa nga ‘di ba? ‘Tapos, biglang uurong?! Ang sakiiiiiiit! Ang sakit-sakit! Tisyu! Penge akong tisyu!

No. 7: Hi Ma’am, si Abby po ito, secretary ni Dr. Palayan. Gusto pong malaman ni Doc kung gagamitin n’yo pa ang luma n’yong pisngi. Naiwan n’yo raw kasi sa clinic last week.

No. 6: Korina, this is Mel. Yup, Mel Tiangco. Wala lang.

No. 5: Hi Korina, si Sharon ‘to. What you said about Kiko was hurtful. You were never his partner. You are not his wife! Kaya ‘di mo siya nirerespeto. Madrasta ka lang! Madrasta!

No. 4: Hi friendsheeeeeep, this is Kris. Alam mo, I heard your interview sa radio last week and in fairness to you huh, may potential ka sa drama. Promise! Sabi ko nga kay Ms Charo, i-guest ka sa MMK eh. O sige, need to go. Nangungulet na si Josh eh. Humihingi ba naman ng one gallon of ice cream. Gosh, he’s consumed two gallons already ‘noh. Ahah-ahah-ahah! Bye sis! And give my regards to Vice President Mar.

No. 3: Korina, it’s Conrad De Quiros of Inquirer. I just realized, I might have erred in saying that Mar was power hungry. He’s not. But you are!

No. 2: Hon, alam kong nandiyan ka. Alam kong nakikinig ka. Sagutin mo naman ang tawag ko oh. Bakit ba ayaw mo ‘kong kausapin? Ilang beses na ‘kong nag-sorry sa naging decision ko ‘di ba? ‘Tsaka sabi mo sa press, okay lang sa ‘yo ang nangyari. Hon, hello? Hon? Tang-ina hon, ‘pag ako napikon si Noynoy ang papakasalan ko.

And the No. 1 message left on Korina Sanchez’ answering machine…

Hello Korina! Apologies for what happened last week at Club Filipino. Nagmamadali kasi ako kaya nabundol kita. Siyanga pala, si Karma ‘to.

And from Good Times Manila, news about the "strange guttural noises" from Korina Sanchez's house.

Thursday, September 3

Bibi on a Mission

A bunch of stories that we took up in Creative Writing 10 recently all had to do with stories of childhood and how they handle time: Snow by Julia Alvarez, Reconnaissance by Tara Sering, Forever Overhead by David Foster Wallace (no photo), and Pet Milk by Stuart Dybek (also no photo.) So the class was divided into four groups, one for each story, and they had to figure out the story's plot and timeline and present it to class.

Since the reporting happened after the long break, I didn't really expect a spectacle, but was pleasantly surprised to find out that all the groups were huddled and ready to go. There should be four pictures, one for each story, but the kids with cameras in the class managed to "accidentally" delete the photos so these are the only ones I have.

If you're part of this class and you *do* have photos, please share with the class. Thanks.

The rest of the album is here.