Monday, December 22, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
A winter wonderland. Of course that's easy for me to say...now that we have power again. Spent the first 36+ hours of the storm cooking on the wood stove and helping ourselves to plenty of gravity-fed water. While we played Scattergories by candlelight and via built-in lights on the bills of our LL Bean baseball caps. Made some fun memories this storm.
Friday, December 05, 2008
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Review by Dana Biscotti Myskowski
Part drug dealer, part counselor, all drifter, the forty-something character John LeTour of Paul Schrader’s LIGHT SLEEPER is both charming and captivating. We might despise what he does for a living, but because he genuinely cares about the people that surround him, other readers may find themselves as I did: rooting for this unlikely hero.
The script is a quick and delightful read because Schrader writes for his audience. Sure, ideally the screenplay will eventually serve as a blueprint for a film as this one did. But before it can make its way to the can it must first capture the attention, admiration, and accolades of the film financiers, actors, agents, cinematographer, studio execs, and more.
One of the difficulties in reading most screenplays is the inclusion of industry formatting. Instead of using standard slug lines, Schrader begins one sequence with the title “CONFESSOR LETOUR.” In the next line we learn when and where we are, but from the onset we understand the thrust of the story. Hence we read on anxious to learn about this remarkable character who is more than just a drug dealer to his clients, but a confidant, a counselor, an in-person hotline operator, and even—occasionally—a friend.
The dialogue is equally enthralling. Call me picky, but I enjoy hearing characters actually speaking to each other—listening or deliberately not listening—rather than diving into tangents as the writer suddenly realizes he needs to develop a plot thread.
Schrader also writes as people speak. In short sentences. Using nouns and verbs. One word, when necessary. Really. And an occasional simple expression, foul or not. It makes for a quick and enjoyable read, one that can easily fit into the hectic routine of just about any reader.
Grab LIGHT SLEEPER* and slip it into your beach bag, carry on, or glove box to read the next time you need to fill a few minutes. You’ll be glad you did, even if the subject matter falls a bit outside your ordinary world…or triangularly within it.
Schrader, Paul. Light Sleeper. London: Faber and Faber, 1992.
* Now you'll have to settle for the trilogy collection of Schrader works that includes the mesmerizing TAXI DRIVER, LIGHT SLEEPER and AMERICAN GIGOLO, also published by Faber & Faber. (Apparently they've discontinued the single issue screenplays of LIGHT SLEEPER and TAXI DRIVER, though you can score a used copy.)
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
We moved to New Hampshire on my son's 10th birthday, leaving behind the rural Berkshires and moving to the somewhat more populated hill town of Henniker, home of Pat's Peak Ski Area.
"This is the worst birthday ever!" our son scolded us as we loaded up the minivan that morning. Two hours of pouting later we pulled into our new driveway and unloaded. "Can we play now?" my son and his younger sister wanted to know. "After you unpack your underwear," I answered, handing them each a box.
The kids plodded to their rooms, resentful of having to complete yet more work. Within minutes a screech erupted as they found not skivvies, but scooters.
They took to our suburban-esque street: a quarter-mile paved loop with about twenty or so houses facing an open green. Within three passes on their new scooters, they trailed kids like the Pied Piper. Stopping for a quick drink of town water from the tap--a luxury we well-users had never before known--my son proclaimed, "This is the best birthday ever!" and within seconds he returned to the street with his new posse of friends.
Moving to New Hampshire meant introducing my children to the Old Man. Fortunately, I wasted no time. Just days after I'd acquired my new "Live Free or Die" plates, we made the trek to that now infamously faceless ridge. All three of us marveled that the jagged rock really did resemble a man, before hopping back into the van and driving south to meet dad for dinner.
A couple years later I was tapped to write a climate change script for the state's Christa McAuliffe Planetarium. Upon interviewing scientists, I learned that the corridor of air mass that moves over the White Mountains and out to sea is charmingly nicknamed the Exhaust Pipe of the country, for all the pollutants that the wind currents carry our way.
As I stare at the back of our year-2000 state quarter, I speculate that perhaps the Old Man couldn't hack the air up there anymore.
Tomorrow as we greet refugees to our country in a volunteer holiday dinner at a church in the state's capitol, I wonder if they'll consider their first Thanksgiving their best day ever or the worst. I'll have to bring along a New Hampshire quarter and introduce them to the Old Man; I think he would have liked that, with or without a new scooter to cruise around on.
(NOTE: The above was inspired after stumbling upon NPR's State by State story that they did earlier this fall, and that they will discuss on Thanksgiving Day. The story on Blog of the Nation will focus on the book State By State: A Panoramic Portrait of America, compiled by Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey and featuring 51 writers.)
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
It's an early-autumn day like any other in upstate New Hampshire: chilly, breezy, and fragrant. Well, fragrant if you happen to enjoy the scent of wood smoke billowing from every chimney in the village.
"You don't smoke," Clay admonishes his cousin's widow.
"Not those stale, nasty cigarettes Hatch likes," Marjorie responds. "But a smooth, carefully hand-rolled cigar..." She pauses as she takes a drag, "...is like the gentle caress of an accomplished lover."
A corner of Clay's mouth rises, though in truth he's uncomfortable hearing a woman speak so bluntly, so seductively. It is, after all, the mid 1950s and Clay's been a one-woman man in a small town all these years. Until now. But what’s adultery stacked up against the multiple murders that have recently plagued this sleepy hamlet?
He settles back into his chair and swallows his scotch--nearly choking on it. As he struggles for air, he manages to sputter, "Soda...there's no soda in it."
"There's supposed to be soda in it?" Marjorie asks.
Clay wonders if she's hurt by his reaction. Guessing she is, he says, "No, no. Scotch this good doesn't need soda." He sips gingerly the second time around.
And as he and Marjorie settle into their coy game, outside the razor-thin windows the first snow begins to fall, bringing with it an appearance of unearned innocence and silence echoing the eternal silence that has already frozen their river-bound valley town.
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
It's our 21st anniversary today.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
...A time to try a few new things on for size. Or to sleep, if you're lucky enough to be the dog.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Saturday, May 03, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Job Applications are OUT: I collected my last reference letter over graduation weekend, returned home and sent out applications to EVERY commutable university and private high school position in the state (all beginning in the Fall of 2008)—even when the job was somewhat of a stretch for my credentials.
Shorts are IN: Am working on two short screenplays in anticipation of possible 2008 shoots. One is the long anticipated PROVIDER/NEXT IN LINE (The “Niki” short, as Director Mark Constance, DGA AD, and I refer to it) and the other is an all new Nathan Hale project with DGA Director Adam Jones who, last I knew, was hanging around 66th and 3rd in NYC.
Short plays are IN, too: I am writing to contest specifications for a ten-minute coffee-house setting with 2 to 4 actors. I’ll have it read next weekend at playwrights group where, as I understand it, three or more members ALSO have written plays for the contest. Yey team! I’m also trying a Hale-Jones experiment in the coffee house…can’t wait to see if it perks.
The Adjunct is IN the building: and in the classroom as of NEXT week. I’m scrambling to prepare my two classes. I’ll be teaching Image & Sound, filling in for a professor on sabbatical, so I am stressing out as I try to sort through all the material. (I do have the first five quizzes typed up and in to be copied, and I’ve sketched out the first two classes already….) And I’m teaching Media Writing for the second time ever; a few changes to the virgin syllabus from last semester, plus the AP Stylebook is newly updated, which changed seven of my ten quizzes. Ouch.
The Individual Adjunct is also IN: I’m excited to be working with a gifted writer in an Independent Study arrangement as he pens a feature-length script. I’ll be dusting off PLOWING UP A SNAKE, an adaptation of the Merle Drown novel by the same name, as I revise along with my student and exchange ten pages of script with him each week. And I’ve also begun advising on two internships—one student is at High Point Communications this semester, while the other is interning at WMUR TV. Fun!
The Son is MOVED: and onto semester number two. He has a cell phone this semester…and if he doesn’t answer my every call, he soon won’t have a cell phone this semester (consider that a warning, kiddo!). He has TWO entries in this year’s Minimalist Exhibit at the NH Institute of Art. One, in particular, is fabulous…and I’m hoping to add it to my own collection when the sale begins on the 1/17. KA-CHING!
The Daughter is pondering: whether to remain at her current high school or transfer to another. We’ll all make a decision in another two weeks. It’s rough going back and forth in the meantime. And this week she faces midterms, but she heads into them well-positioned. All A’s and B’s. She’s incredibly hard working, as also evidenced by her work schedule at the ski resort in town. Cool!
Another contest popped up this week: a flash fiction around the theme “beneath the bed.” I had just been to the dentist for a filling, an event that meant nightmares for me beforehand (I am soooo dramatic!). Guess what was under my bed in the story? We’ll see if the contest organizers think my idea has any teeth….
And I’ve been pondering an “Are we there yet?” writing prompt for Symphony Space’s latest Selected Shorts competition. I penned an essay that I enjoy, but it’s not the short story they’re looking for. I still have time, however. Who knows if it’ll come to me.
And of course I’ve been polishing NIKI SWEET TALK MOVES and am ready to move the latest draft out to my producer once the Writer’s Strike lifts. Here’s hoping that negotiations happen SOON.
In the meantime, I’m casting for the reading of NIKI SWEET TALK MOVES, to be held at UNH-M on April 17th at 7 p.m. Need to get to the character breakdowns this week and make a few calls to folks who have expressed an interest.
I’m also moving UP: to a first-floor in-home office! It’s exciting…but too much WORK. Oy. I’m hoping to be settled by the time classes start at UNH.
So that’s it. Nothing but the same old, same old, without the packet schedule. Except that a friend of mine and I ARE adhering to the packet exchange schedule in an effort to remain focused as writers. Gotta stick to that Mosley time, after all. In our G-1 semester, visiting novelist Walter Mosley advised us that if we are to succeed as writers, we must set aside at least two hours a day to devote to our craft. Preferably the same two hours each day, uninterrupted. So please refrain from contacting me between 4 and 6 a.m. Thank you!
And thanks for stopping by. Cheers!
Monday, January 07, 2008
Congratulations to all of my classmates who walked and talked Sunday!
The trudge is over....
And yet it's just beginning.
Good luck 2008 graduates!
Thanks to all of you who have followed my blog all these semesters. An update as to what is next will soon follow....
(Photo above features rocks off the coast of Cliff Island, Casco Bay, Maine, taken by my hubby; the sketch is one of my son's early drawings, one that did not make the cut of his art school portfolio, but which has always been one of my favorites.)