Megiddo, The Illogical Conflict & Propaganda Sampler

February 27, 2007

I spend a lot of time reading.  I don’t read fiction anymore.  I haven’t in several years.  Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve read any fiction (other than mythology or George W. Bush speeches) since finishing University.  I prefer non-fiction: mainly history, philosophy and science.  My main preoccupation is conflict in the twentieth century.

Right now I’m reading ‘The Order of the Death’s Head’ – a history of the SS & biography of Himmler (the chicken shit farmer), Heydrich (psychopath), and other players.  These guys were unbelievable. 

Himmler was a wimp who weilded his power like a humungous penis.  Heydrich was so cruel, even the most hardened Nazi rejoiced when he was assassinated (1942).

Back to conflict, I don’t know if this is true or not, but I don’t think there’s been a peaceful day in recorded history. 

Speaking of recorded history, here’s an interesting fact:

The first battle ever recorded by eye-witnesses (chronicler’s of the Pharaoh) was fought between Thutmose III and the King of Kadesh at a place called Megiddo.  The Hebrew word for Megiddo is Armageddon, which is the supposed location for the last battle in recorded history.

Megiddo is 10-15 miles south-south-east from Bethlehem.

St. Malachy will have you believe Pope Benedict XVI is the last in his prestigious line.  The most accurate calendar ever devised ends on December 21, 2012, less than six years from now.  Khufu’s stairwell depicts great fires and destruction for these days.  All prophecy points to now as the most turbulent time in the history of humanity.

Is this true?

Wars have been fought for many reasons and even more excuses – territory, wealth, power, retribution. 

The worst reason for war is religion, but that is the most often cited reason for conflict.  It is impossible to settle differences of opinion regarding religious ideas because religion, by it’s very nature, is illogical.

One side must destroy the other and establish it’s hegemony.  This is the logical end to an illogical conflict.  So it kind of makes sense that the first and last battles in recorded history would be fought at the same place.

Damn…I did it again.  I started with one thing in mind and ended up writing something completely different.  This was going to be about WWII propaganda.

Here’s something I came across the other day…


Not what I meant.

February 27, 2007

Relationships are weird.  So are people.  I don’t pretend to understand anyone, but I do try to switch paradigms.  I try to think with other’s minds.  I watch people, wonder about their history, their desire, their motivation.  What are you thinking about?  I wish I could listen, unfiltered. 

People are angry more often than not.  We feel alone.  We are surrounded by strangers who feel alone.  A million faces with the same absent expression.  We’re all in a hurry and everyone is in our way.  If you’re not with me, you’re against me.  Let’s fight with our cars, body language, senselessness. 

Let me email you in language free from semantics, so you’ll never truly grasp what I mean.

Television is a source of false reality and shallow conversation; the playground of inactivity.  Television breeds dissatisfaction, showing you everything you’re not but should be.  The real programming on TV is commercials.  Broadcasters put various shows on air to ensure you’re on the couch for the commercials.  The television watches you as much as you watch it.  You can sit in front of the TV with your family for an entire evening and not speak a single word. 

People get pissed when you talk in a theatre. 

The Internet brings the world to my fingertips and I find it invasive for all the accompanying shit.  I spend more time keeping things out, than bringing things in.  Computers aren’t spamming me, sending me digital disease, or trying to take me over – people are. 

These media are not bringing people together.

People had more to say when there was less opportunity to speak.  Conversations rarely move in an upward (positive) direction.  They will start positive and gradually degenerate as the participants run out of things to say.  We are talking more shit today than ever before.  The problem with shit is it bogs you down.

 This is not the direction I planned on following from the beginning at all!

Anyways…the point is that we’re feeling alone and the distance between us grows daily.


Bullspit!

February 27, 2007

Pour your life on the page.  Don’t edit.  Spit it.  If you have to think about it, it’s not your life.  It’s the life you want.  I use instinct more than I think.

If I can’t be honest with myself, I have a drink. 


Give the Man a Fish

February 27, 2007

I give the man his fish every day. 

I was blessed with a bounty of fish.  The man is cursed with a craving the laze in the glory of the sun, catching praise from the off-shore breeze, worried more about granules of sand than survival.

I tried to teach the man.  His eyes glazed over like those of my many fish.  I am sure he didn’t hear a single word. 

He humoured me for my fish.


The Writing Cycle

February 25, 2007

Okay, now I am procrastinating.  I don’t want to start working yet.

So here’s a little something called the ‘writing cycle’.  I don’t know if it’s actually called the ‘writing cycle’, but that what I call it.

1. Concept – The idea.  This is (without a doubt) the most difficult, frustrating and rewarding part of the process.  You are never more free than at this moment.  What is the story?  What is the point?  Who is the hero?  What is the conflict (incl. villain)?  How is it resolved?  You should always have an ending in mind.  A weak finish will ruin all preceding good work.  The resolution you have now may not be the same as the draft version, but that does not diminish the importance of having a destination from the beginning.  Toss ideas away if there is anything remotely similar.  If ideas are too valuable to you, then you don’t have enough and shouldn’t be writing.

2. Outline 1 – Short version (beat sheet) of an outline detailing the salient features of the narrative.  Here’s where you start reigning yourself in.  There is less and less freedom from this point on.  General points – how do we meet the hero?  The villain?  How is the conflict established (inciting incident)?  What hurdles does the hero encounter?  Does the hero succeed at overcoming hurdles (moral deficit)?    Who helps the hero?  Who hinders the hero?  And how?  You already have an ending in mind, there’s your last point.  Get there.

3. Character Outlines – Figure out your characters.  Give them minds of their own, not yours.

4. Outline 2 – Long version (step outline) of outline 1.  Flush out your points.  Start establishing scenes.  This will become the bible for writing the screenplay.  Be detailed.  This should include everything but the actual dialogue.  You need to know the who. what, where and when.  You need to know what the characters are thinking and doing.  You need to write everything down.  This is when the story is written.  There should be very few unknowns once you begin writing the first draft of the screenplay.  Keep in mind, things always change once the characters are given a voice – be free to follow their thoughts.

5. First Draft – I work with a partner.  At this point, we split whichever Act we’re going to write first.  It’s not always Act One!  We write our share separately, piece it together and review.  The review is not an edit.  We read what we’ve written to make sure we’re still writing the same story as each other.  We make sure our characters aren’t too far apart, etc.  More often than not, and much to our surprise, our first drafts usually come together seamlessly.  I think that’s due in large part to the detailed planning of the Outline.  We split subsequent Acts and follow this process until complete.

 6. Edit 1 – Unequivocally the most arduous, time consuming and boring part of the process.  Page by page, line by line, word by word, read through.  I read our scripts cover to cover at least ten times while we’re working on it.  Fix dialogue inconsistencies.  Rewrite scenes that don’t work.  Remove superfluous scenes.  Don’t kid yourself, those scenes are in there.  The one question you always have to ask is: does this scene/line/action move the story along?  If it doesn’t, take it out.  Fix the pacing of the story.  Weigh scenes against each other.  Identify important scenes and make sure you didn’t write them into insignificance.

7. Let other’s read it.  Get impressions.  Make changes accordingly.

8. Start from point #1 (above) and write something else.  This is very important.  We’ve read the script at least ten times at this point.  We are not reading it anymore, but looking at the pages.  We can’t find any more mistakes or problems, even though they’re clearly present (as time always proves).  When you’ve finished the next screenplay (up to point #7 above), do not start another new script, but return to the original (next point).

9. Edit 2 – A number of months have gone by since we’ve looked at the screenplay.  We read it again – almost always feels like someone else wrote it!  Mistakes are clearer.  It is easier to refine the material.  Go through the script just as you would for the first edit.  What you do from here is up to you.  I wouldn’t recommend getting hung up on anything in this edit.  If it doesn’t work at this point…it won’t.  Leave it to die or visit it as if it were a sick relative in the hospital.

10.  Start the process a third time.  When you reach point #7, return to the second screenplay for the #2 edit.  The idea is to use the time it takes to write a script to let another script cool-down.  We stay one script ahead of ourselves.  There’s always something that needs to be edited.  The cool-down process is essential.  You need to be able to distance yourself from your work.  The only way to do so is to get up and walk away from it.

This is the cycle we follow.  It’s only a process.  There is nothing here about story structure, character or plot development, revealing information to the audience, playing with mass psychology, etc.

Three quotes are always in my mind:

The sources of the following two are unknown to me. 

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write.”

A child, who would grow up to be a great writer (don’t know who), and his classmates were asked to write an essay based on a story from The Bible.  The essay was to be whatever length each student thought necessary for their particular subject.  When it came time to submit the essays, every student handed in at least two full pages of writing, except for one.  The boy who would grow into a great writer submitted a single sentence and received top marks for the assignment.  His essay was based on the Wedding at Cana – “The waters of Cana saw their Master and blushed.”  [I would like to thank Mr. Gn for passing this bit of wisdom on to his son, who shared it with me.]

And finally…

The Duke of Wellington wrote a very long letter with a post-script something to the effect of, “My apologies for the length of this missive for I have not the time to write anything shorter.”


Three Points for Perspective

February 24, 2007

I have to write today or tomorrow.  I haven’t written proper since June of last year.  Bloody editing and rewriting.  Writing is the experience of the first draft; purge of the mind, splurge on the screen defiling the peaceable white.  It’s a new scene, that’s all.  Exciting still because I haven’t written in a while.  We rushed when we wrote the first draft of this particular screenplay.  Eleven weeks from concept to completion (Oct – Dec 2005).  The concept was simple and the structure pretty much wrote itself.  A psychological thriller with some supernatural elements.  Whatever…I don’t really speak highly of anything we write.  I’d rather speak honestly, so far as I understand honesty.  It was a strange time for us.  My back was out of commission (spasms) the entire time we worked on it.  The content is somewhat discomforting and a little more than depressing.  I would take Casey (the 100lb dog, aka Dumpster) for walks every night around 10p.  Good time for smoking and absent minded thinking (dreaming).  But living in that nightmarish place with that cursed family and the pale boy was terrible.  I started hallucinating in the dark forest on my nightly walks.  The souls of these poor, mishandled children would cry out to me.  Sometimes one would rise and stand amongst the silhouetted trees.  I appreciated the experience of fear because it helped me to understand that the common denominator of all emotions is sorrow.

The idea started with what seemed to us a simple question: what is the worst thing that could happen?

Not so easy to answer.  We struggle with it for a while.  I asked almost everyone I encountered.  The general consensus was ‘death’ of some sort, whether it be one’s own or a member of one’s family.  We disagreed with this, to an extent.  We thought the worst thing would be to cause permanent serious psychological damage in a child, but to leave them alive to live with the torments of their mind.  But we did not want to work on something horrible like that.  No one would want to read it, let alone watch it.

We decided on something else.  The idea is actually based on a true story, but I don’t really want to say which because you’ll have nightmares if you learn about it.  A terrible man did a terrible thing to beautiful little budd of a girl.  But our screenplay is entirely fictional.  The question grew into – what kind of justice would best suit a deed such as this?  The retribution of man would not suffice.  It had to be something greater.  But from whence would it come and what is it’s structure and form?

We had to write this screenplay quick.  It was a miserable experience, yet delightful from a creative standpoint.  The first draft was long.  We have finally taken the time to correct that, amongst other things.  But we had to let the script sit for more than a year before we were ready to look at it again.  We aren’t building a reality this time around, we’re refining one, so it’s not as mentally invasive.  Thanks be to the graces.

There is a relatively small group of people who have read our screenplays (so far!).  We are hesitant to put too much out there because we are still in the formative stages of the learning experience.  Funny, we both went to university for the full term and studied writing – I think it was our major…if such a thing existed for this program.  The program in which we were enrolled is recognized as the best media program in Canada and one of the top programs in North America.  Having been through it, statements like that don’t hold much credibility – only my opinion.  We learned alot at school, but have learned so much more since we started writing together, free from the constraints of academia.  The general consensus of this small group is that this particular story is our strongest (again, so far!).

I have read that writers should not seek representation until they have written a minimum of six screenplays.  Not something they told us in school!  It didn’t make sense until we wrote our third screenplay.  This is where the real lessons start – number 3.  There are problems with your work, but you have to go through the full writing cycle a few times before you can recognize them.  You need three points/dimensions for perspective – length, width and depth.  The fourth point quantifies time.  The refining process starts with #4 and never ends.  However, if you are a credible and able writer, I imagine by the time you are writing your sixth screenplay, you are working with professional quality.  I don’t know.  We haven’t worked that far along.  We might be close, but we’re not ready yet.

One of the many nice things about our partnership is that, although we specialized in writing, we each took alternate paths in our secondary learning.  He went down the more practical production road and I took a more philosophical route, exploring social theory (basically anything to avoid group work!).  I studied heroes, villains and anti-heroes in fiction and reality.  I learned I am a post-structuralist by nature, not by nurture.  The best heroes are those that cannot be or would not want to be replicated by common people.  Heroes should either be Gods (hero) or devils (anti-hero) among men.  Anything less is not of true heroic proportion.  Heroes serve to instruct, either through action or inaction, deed or misdeed, etc.

When our roads re-converged, we were better for being well-rounded.

As of tomorrow, we should be finished the second draft of this screenplay.  It is much improved.  I don’t know if it’s better.  I can never really know, it’s for others to decide.

Feels good to be close to writing again.  I guess that’s my point.


A Saturday Morning Joy Song

February 17, 2007

Many days I awake in a daze, never wonder what life is about.  There’s something I will muddle.  I’m gonna step in a puddle.  The sound of one hand slapping fills me with doubt.  My car is a glass jar in a thick traffic jam.  It’s not a slick car, not as nice as your’s are, but it got me to where I am.  I got a job where I can’t hobnob or even flush with the executive.  I fill every day with all work and no pay.  If you lend me a shit I might have something to give.  When I’m alone in the dark, I mend my mangled dreams.  But the weaver wavers, drops the needle and lets slip the thread.  It fills me with dread ’cause there’s so many splits in so many seams.  Bloom is doom, rain never brought me gloom, so it’s not me you need to save.  Never think, never wonder, live in fear of thunder.  I’m gonna wander blindly to my grave.