Giles Goat Boy

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Disappointed With Galactica

So I watched the first episode of Season 3 and I was hooked. I started at the miniseries and watched the whole show. I skipped episodes after a while, there was definitely variance in the level of quality, but I was really digging it. And then I got to the cliffhanger season-ender that immediately preceded the beginning of Season 3.

I was so disappointed! The new planet was full of doom and foreboding from the get-go. There was nothing about people being excited to start a new life, nobody with any credibility believing in it for a second. What a weak choice! They could have done a whole season about the dream of New Caprica, about how difficult it would be to start a new life on a new planet - it would have been the American dream writ large. And the return of the Cylons would have been so intense if both audience and cast had been deeply committed to this new possibility. Instead it was just like watching an idiot walk into a trap. They looked like suckers for even being there in the first place.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Uh Oh

I had a funny idea for a scene. I have a scene partner in an acting class who's black, Muslim, maybe a little bit of a drama nerd, and in some ways a very typical sweet-tempered Texan. I like rap music, and I was just listening to Redman, and I had this mental image of her coming to the door. If you don't know rap music well, just take it as given that Redman is not the typical music of sweet-tempered, well-mannered, religious Texan drama nerds, and if a given individual of that description happened to be black, that would probably not be enough in and of itself to sway her to becoming a Redman fan.

Redman is rowdy.

Anyway, having gotten this funny image, I thought of a way to amp it even further. There's a New Orleans rap classic whose chorus goes, "I'm the nigger nigger nigger." I know a white guy who loves this song. He used to be a music journalist, it's one of those songs that was huge in New Orleans and I never heard it. Actually this guy's half Indian, half Dutch, but when I translate him into this scene in my mind, I make him an average white guy who happens to be a former music journalist, because it's funnier that way. This is what I picture: I'm rocking out to that song, instead of the Redman one, and my scene partner comes to the door. I'm suddenly embarassed, but it gets a thousand times worse when you hear my roommate, this white guy, in another room, saying the words along to the song. He comes into the room still parrotting the song, suddenly notices the INCREDIBLE faux pas, and goes oh shit.

It would have to be an incredibly compassionate and fair script for a scene like that to work -- but the truth is, everybody knows white guys who listen to rap and are absolutely comfortable with saying the N-word, if they're parrotting a rap song, yet totally uncomfortable with it if they're hearing it said to somebody it might actually describe. That kind of tension, that kind of irony, that's comedy.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Britney Spears Never Went Crazy

She was crazy to begin with.

I've been saying it for years. Every so often she does something I like musically, but let's face it, not very often. "Toxic" and the one she did with the Neptunes, maybe something else. But if you turn the sound off and view Britney as a movie star in the genre of fashion and dance video - which is what any pop star really is - then the number of things I like her in skyrockets. Her music is frequently terrible, but her videos are awesome.

Her insanity, for me, has always been part of her appeal. When she was at her apex, she was working out six hours a day, every day. Can anyone doubt that this is insanity? I have professional training in hypnosis, extensive training, and the most I can manage to do at the gym is an hour and a half a day. That's with a ton of deliberate brainwashing. That's with professional training in brainwashing and deliberate effort to wash my own brain. She was doing four times that much without the benefit of any hypnosis that I'm aware of. She was going on pure unadulterated madness.

And it worked.

For me the moral of the story with Britney Spears has always been that sometimes insanity works. She hit her apex of fame around the same time as I hit the worst starving artist phase of my life, where I just couldn't even bring myself to do anything but creative work I believed in, and yet I couldn't get anybody to take the slightest commercial interest in anything I did. For various complicated reasons I was living in the middle of nowhere with no access to pop culture except MTV. It was a time of immense frustration, and here was this chick who was totally hot, appeared to have all the money in the world, made this terrible music with these awesome videos, and appeared to have absolutely no idea that her music was awful. Britney became totally fascinating to me. Was she a fortunate fool? Was she a crafty shark? How did Britney Spears happen?

One thing I learned was that she was touring shopping malls, playing shows for free, when she was fourteen years old. She tried to get paying concert venues but failed. She tried to get free concert venues, but failed. Eventually she (and her mother) got a series of shopping malls in an area of I think two or three states to host her free singing tour. Can there be any doubt that this is madness too? A free tour of shopping malls? Can you imagine how hard you'd have laughed at any of your friends if they tried to do that when you were fourteen?

I can imagine how hard my mom would have laughed at me if I had tried to get her to book me a singing tour of shopping malls when I was fourteen.

Pretty hard!

If through some implausible freak occurence Britney Spears is reading this blog, here's what I have to say to you: go crazier. Quit the drugs, but keep the shaved head. Better yet, turn it into a mohawk. Who cares? It's your prerogative.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Moronic Innocence

So recently I finished a screenplay, and I tried to show it to a bunch of friends, associates, co-workers, clients, and miscellaneous humans who I like for one reason or another. The lukewarm-ness of the reception I got kind of boggled my mind. I've always known that a huge number of scripts circulate the city of Los Angeles (and its gigantic metropolitan area) but it didn't occur to me that people would regard the fact that I, the great Giles Bowkett, had written a script, with the same indifference they would give the news that some random mere mortal had written a script.

Just goes to show how wrong you can be. Of all the people I've asked to read it, I've gotten only one of them to actually do it. One person! Nobody else is even curious to find out if it's any good at all. And these are people who generally seem to have pretty good regard for me.

What this means is that writing a good screenplay is either a lot harder than I ever guessed or a lot easier. Maybe writing a good script is so hard that everybody expects screenplays to suck; maybe writing a good script is so easy that the only hard part is selling it. I really don't know. All I can tell is that nobody seems to even have any idle curiousity about my script one way or the other.

But I think the answer is probably that writing a script is hard. Here's why. This is a screenwriter's advice to other screenwriters, about how to get an agent:

First, write a great script. Now, be very careful to have only one copy of it. Immediately upon writing FADE OUT, THE END, take that single copy and place it in a small, sturdy safe. Close and lock the safe. Take the safe directly to your basement, dig a hole seven feet deep, and place the safe in the hole. Refill the hole. Lock the basement door securely, and then go to bed.

The next day, get up and go to the basement. The place will be lousy with agents, several of them already involved in a bidding war over your script.

That's from a screenwriting site, a post by one of the writers of Shrek.

He also mentions that he told this to a huge classroom full of screenwriting students at UCLA and they were all ready to lynch him, because the implication, of course, is that the script you love oh so much, the one your entire heart and soul have been invested in, the masterwork never equalled before or since, is in fact almost certainly a steaming pile of crap.


Fortunately, even though the probability of my sucking as a screenwriter is apparently quite high, I'm definitely a good programmer. Possibly a very good programmer. So that's something, at least.