Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fun 'n Games With Willow

My daughter loves to play games with me.  We have quite a collection of board and card games at home, and we've been teaching her to play more and more games as she gets older.  One game that we like to play from time to time is a classic.  Cribbage.  It's a favorite between Micah and myself, and Willow and David both learned to play when they turned about eight years old.

Cribbage is great for kids.  It makes them practice their math when they are tallying their points.  During the summer, any little bit of review is probably a good thing, since Willow's arithmetic ability tends to get a bit sketchy when she isn't working on it every day, day in and day out.

So last night Willow challenged me to a game of Cribbage.  Like any good sport who has had the gauntlet thrown, I accepted the challenge.  For much of the game, I was in the lead, with Willow trailing me by less than ten points.

Finally, we got to the home stretch.  I had pegged to within four points of winning.  She had thirteen points to peg.  I was the dealer, which meant I got the crib (and the potential for more points) but she got to count her points first at the end of the hand.  Woudn't you know it, but the girl ended up with this ungodly hand worth 16 points.  Grr.  She won.

By this time, it's late and time for her to go to bed.  So I tell her that tomorrow we'll have to play a re-match game.

She said to me, "I'm going to win."  The confidence in her voice was irritating.

"Yeah, right.  I'm going to win," I said.

"Nope." Willow responded.

"What makes you think I won't?" I asked her.

"Because.  That was just a warm up," she gestured to the cribbage board like a queen surveying her lands.

Slam! Ouch! I was punk'd by my own 9 year old!  I don't know who has been teaching my daughter how to trash talk, but she's goood.  I was so flabbergasted that I couldn't say anything.  Then I grabbed her and tickled her.  She giggled.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Micah's Birthday

Micah turned 44 last Saturday.  Of course, if you listen to him tell it, I turned 44 and he is the one who is still 40 years old.  Hah!

It's amazing how company coming over kick-starts our latent house-cleaning abilities and we go into overdrive before company shows up.  Anyhow, not only did we get the pig-sty of a house clean, but I made steak bites in the crock pot, baked and frosted a cake, set up the table, got stuff ready for hamburgers, and a bunch of other little things.  All on Sunday morning.  I feel supermom-ish.  The kids were even cooperative and helped.  Even Micah kicked in, even though it was his birthday celebration.  It was nice to have us all working together so cooperatively.  (If only we could do this all the time!  If you have the secret to weekly cooperative family house-cleaning with no bitching or moaning, let me know!)

So our company came over.  My dad was early.  The rest of the guests were a bit late, but that's okay.  It gave us a little more time to get ready.  After we cleaned off the table, we got out the Zombies board game and played like we were shotgun-wielding survivors violently clearing a path to the helipad so we could steal a chopper and flee the zombie hoard and save ourselves.  It was fun!!  And, since it was Micah's birthday, I let him win.  No, really.  I did!

So, here's to being 44, Micah.  Happy birthday!  Another year older and another year wiser.  Conquer your fears, take the reins to your life, and live it up. 

Delayed Justice Premiere

Sunday the 20th happened to by my husband's birthday, but to his credit, he didn't mind that instead of throwing him a birthday party on that day, we threw it the next day so that I could go to a Stumptown Movie Maker's barbecue and watch the premiere of Delayed Justice, the short film I worked on back in July.

The barbecue was fun!  Almost all the cast was there, and a we had a few of the crew and some folks from our Stumptown group there, besides.  Our former Organizer, Marcus Eikenberry, was the host.  It was Marcus's official going away party for our group, too, since he's moving out of state. 

It has occurred to me I need to have a new organizational meetup for Stumptown, since I'm the new Organizer for the group and I know I'm going to need some help.  Time to get crackin' on that...

Anyhoo, the premiere was great and I enjoyed watching how Craig put the edited version together.  It's always fun to see how something I worked on turns out after editing and music and whatnot.  Especially since my position in the crew wasn't involved in the filming or audio, I had no idea how it would look or sound.  I found myself nervous!  I don't know why. I guess for Craig's sake I was crossing my fingers that everything worked out well. 

I didn't have anything to worry about.  It was fine.  He gave all of us who worked on it or were in the cast copies of the film, too. 

I wonder if I'm going to be nervous like this for every film I'm ever involved in?  I know I have been so far, especially my own baby, Prognosis.

One of the nice things about going to the barbecue, too, was the insistence of our hosts to take home leftovers.  Mmmm.  Steak.  :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Quilt In A Weekend

Like the title of the post says, I sewed an entire quilt in one weekend.  Granted, it was lap-size.  You know, the standard size for those lap throws you see for sale.  52" X 78"or some such thing.  I don't know the exact measurements, since I haven't measured it yet.  It's the first quilt I've ever sewn.  It's so colorful and cheerful!

What made this quilt come about is that I haven't seen a friend of mine in quite some time.  Months.  I missed her and we had always talked about doing some sewing together, since she is an avid quilter and I've always wanted to learn.  So I asked her if she minded if I stay for a weekend and we sew to our hearts' content and she said sure!

The weekend of the 13th and 14th I went to her house.  She showed me how her garden was faring, I got to eat delicious fresh-from-the-backyard, truly organic produce and we gabbed and gabbed.  It was fun!  Oh, and while gabbing, we sewed.

I love this batik fabric and the zoo animals!
This was a challenge for me.  You see, I bought a $600 sewing machine back in 2003.  I got it on sale for $400 and had every intention of using it to sew my baby girl some clothes, since Willow was only about two years old at the time.  But instead, I ended up trucking.  I never did get around to using the machine.  Not once.

So here it is, eight years later, and I'm looking at my machine, flummoxed.  I can't find the instructions and the cord is still in it's wrapper.  It's a brand new machine, essentially, but I don't remember the way the sales lady showed me how to use it.  My friend was a godsend.  She showed me how to thread the needle and fill up the bobbin and how to adjust the tension, replace the feet, what the different feet were for and even explained how the different stitches worked.

Did I mention I'm a complete novice?  I used my mom's machine back in high school to peg my jeans and to sew a robe costume back when I was in the drama club (and if memory serves, my mom did most of that), but that's about it.  I have never followed a pattern or anything like that.  Mom had shown me how to sew on a button ages ago, but that was about the extent of my sewing knowledge.

Note the uneven stitching.  Hey, it's a start!  

So my friend put me to work on a strip quilt.  It was super easy, since it just entailed sewing a bunch of random strips together.  They all had to be cut the the same length, but the width didn't matter much.  Variety actually is good for a quilt like this, anyway.  Too uniform, and I imagine it might look weird.  Anyhow, so I sewed and sewed and sewed and sewed.  We started about 3 or 4 pm on Saturday afternoon and worked until about 11pm, with about an hour break for dinner.  Then started up again the next morning around 9 or 10 and I stopped around 2:30.  By then, I had the front and the back done, the batting between them, and had quilted them together.  I still needed to patch a pair of shorts, so I started working on that while my friend sewed the only part she sewed on the whole thing.  She showed me how to attach the edging of the quilt.  I sewed everything else!  It was cool!  We had to leave by 4 because my friend had other appointments, so she wanted to make sure I could leave her house with the project pretty much sewn up (haha!  pun intended).

Anyhow, I still need to do a little bit of hand stitching around the edges, but I'm out of thread.  As soon as I can get to a store and buy some, I'll be finishing that little tidbit up.  But I'm so excited.  I made a quilt!  Me!  And it's beautiful!

I would really like to thank my friend for her patient coaching and for the use of her materials.  Thank you, thank you, you know who you are!! Love you bunches!

*I knew the moment I showed my dad the quilt, he would say, "Good!  Now you can come over to my house and sew some stuff for me!"  Sure enough, he did EXACTLY that!  I had to laugh.  He's already got his own sewing machine and can sew just fine, thank you very much.  :)  I love my dad.  He's so funny.

My Dad's Debut On The Big Screen!

So it was time for the 48 Hour Film Fest again this month.  I participated last year on the writing team for Nomads Liars and Thieves.  This year, I didn't participate, but my dad did.  He acted in one of the short films.

For those of you not familiar with the 48 Hour Film Fest, participants are given a genre, character, prop and line of dialogue they must include in the script, then write, rehearse, shoot, edit, etc. an entire film up to seven minutes long all within 48 hours.  It's a huge challenge and a lot of fun.

The genre of the challenge will change from team to team that signs up.  However, the rest of the items are the equalizers--they are the same throughout the teams.

This year it was the following for my dad's group:
Genre - Thriller/Suspense

And for the teams as a whole:
Character - Mac or Meg McGill, Explorer
Prop - Wig
Line - "Looks like you're in over your head"

My dad got to play Mac McGill, the shady character who plays with the  bear corpse's teeth.  Thursday, I went to the showing of his film at Hollywood Theater and got to watch his film and about 12 other teams compete.  There were other groups of folks competing, too, but on other days and at other times.  I didn't get to see them all.

Anyhow, it was fun to get to go and support my dad and all the other filmmakers out there.  Kudos to all the hard work for all the teams who signed up.  It seems the films just get better and better each year!

Two Weeks Since My Last Post...

and I've had a ton of fun, too.  I've been busy busy! 

Let's see...I've gone to two Stumptown events, watched my dad on the big screen at the 48 Hour Film Festival, spent a weekend quilting for the first time and catching up with an old friend of mine, planning and having my husband's birthday party, and all sorts of other things.  But rather than cram all that stuff into one blog post, I'm going to break it down into bite size pieces and blog about them separately, I think.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Luna Turns Into Cujo

Élé pops claws in order to catch the elusive pink ribbon.
Today I got some cat de-wormer medicine I ordered off the internet.  It's been a while since I've wormed them, so I figured they're due.  That, and they haven't had flea medication in a long time and I thought I might have seen evidence of worms, but I wasn't sure.

So I looked at the dosing and directions for application.  There were two ways recommended for feeding the kitties the worm paste.  One, I could squirt the goo directly into the kitties mouth.  That seemed a bit forceful, so I opted for the second one, squeeze the gooey mess onto a paw and let the kitty lick it up.

So I went over to Élé, who was lazing about in her favorite snooze spot.  I took her paw and squeezed the appropriate dose of light brown goo over her paw.  Instead of immediately licking it off, she jumped up and flicked her paw at me and bucked a couple of times like some sort of wild bronco, and then raced across the room, splattering worm paste all over herself and everything she ran past.  And while she looked like she had front row seats at a monster truck rally with dots of fresh mud covering her here and there, there was actually far less goop on her than there was over the rest of my room.

Okay, so that didn't work so well.

With Luna I figured I would opt for the technique I originally discounted as too forceful and mean.   Luna kitty was sitting on top of my dresser (the only place in the house where I can put the kitty food that the dog can't get to it and eat it).  I went over to her, made her open her cute little fanged mouth, and squeezed the de-wormer gunk in her mouth.  I expected her to swallow the stuff.  I did NOT expect the reaction I got.

Luna went into a giant shaggy wet Saint Bernard routine.  Only instead of her body doing the shaking, her head did.  With her mouth open.  De-worming medicine sprayed all over my dresser, the wall, me, and the cat.  This brown spray was made all the more impressive because as she did it, she jumped off the dresser.  So it also made it on the floor.

Apparently, this medicine causes instant saliva production, because within seconds she had a long stream of slightly foamy gooey worm medicine saliva dripping from her mouth.  Ever seen the movie Alien?  My cat reminded me of the alien when Ripley meets the alien face to face and that second jaw pops out and all that drippy saliva drops down low and gross.  Only Luna was a kitty alien with shit-colored drool.  Yep.  And my kitty made a bee-line for my bed, with an eight inch long medicine loogie hanging from her jaw.  I tried to catch her, but to no avail.  (Luna should try out for football.  She has some really great evasive maneuvers.  If she could catch a football, I'd be rich.)

I finally caught her, but not before she dragged her sickly looking spit all over my bed.  My bed looked like somebody had eaten a bad bean burrito from a gut truck and gotten sick all over it.  Yuck.

About an hour later, the kitties finally had the gunk cleaned up off themselves.  I doubt they got one quarter the medicine they were supposed to have.  I think in the future I'll just squirt some of the medicine in with their wet food.  Maybe they'll eat more of it then.  It won't be as entertaining, that's for sure, but at least I won't have such a big mess to clean up.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Keeping My Schedule of Assignments

Boy, I should have done this a long time ago!  I've already finished the three act structure/beat breakdown on the script I'm working on.  I've also mostly finished the note card part (I'm kind of going out of order).  Last night I started working on the character bios.  At this rate, I'll have the script finished before the end of the month.  That would be awesome!

I have to say that this script is based on a novel Micah and I are working on.  It was actually his brilliant idea to begin with.  I've helped him hone it and turn it into something workable.  He came to me and said, "I've got this idea for a novel, but I can't write to save my life and I know you can.  Can you help me?"  Or words to that effect.  Maybe he didn't say "to save my life".  Maybe it was, "can't write worth beans"?  I don't remember.  Anyhow, the point is he asked me to help him.

Micah is an awesome storyteller.  But when it comes to the written word, he scribbles out garbled prose that I suppose could pass for English, but more likely reveals that he has been taken over by a pod person who has control over his hands.

I told him to do write the novel, we would have to be on the same page about all the particulars.  I had him come up with fairly basic character bios/history and we worked on those and refined those, as we brainstormed.  Then I had him give me the bones of the story--the arc of what he thought should happen.  We took that, and wrote up a chapter outline of events happening for each chapter.  Then we brainstormed some more and elaborated on that, too.  Now, I'm just writing, writing, writing.  I made Micah go through all those other processes with me, because I wanted write what he had in mind.  If we didn't see a character in the same way, I would end up writing the character in a way he doesn't like.  Most of my inputs and ideas in the story he has liked and we have incorporated.  And he has respected my input when I have had to shoot down some of his ideas and explained to him why they probably won't work.  Overall, though, he had a solid idea with excellent potential to make a kick-ass story.  I'm proud of him and I'm proud of our work together on this project so far.  It's been fun!

Anyhow, all of this work we've put into the planning of the novel have really helped me when it came to my assignments for the script.  It's made this process much faster, since I already know the characters and story so well.  In some ways it's a little difficult though, because I have to figure out what to cut.  Scripts can't have everything a novel does.  It's the naked version of the novel.  Already Micah is worried about certain things being cut, but he knows not everything can go in and it is bound to be different.  I mean, how else do you pare down 300+ pages into 100?

So I'm looking forward to finishing the novel and especially the script.  I'm hoping that I can make this process this easy for all my subsequent scripts.  I'm in the process of doing research for my next script--a biopic--already.  Whee!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Not Happy, Not Happy At All

So I was doing some research for my script I'm working on. At its most basic level, the script involves a man who gets vengeance on a kidnapper who molested his child. Out of curiosity, I decided to see how many sex offenders live near me. I checked out the website Family Watchdog.

I was shocked.

A bunch of little green and yellow dots popped up all over the map of my zipcode. I'm thinking that all these green and yellow dots had harmed kids. It was inconceivable to me. There are literally dozens of these dots. I started clicking on them and got the photos and addresses of men and women who had raped, sodomized, and abused people. Five of these offenders live within about a mile of me. Three of those five within half a mile. One of those three lives literally two blocks away.

I figured out that a yellow dot means a rape. But the other green dots seem to be a smorgasbord of convictions for various sex-related charges. Finally I found the legend. None of the dots are red in my zipcode. Red dots mean that the convictions were sex crimes committed against children. Thank God for no red dots!

But then I got to thinking about it. While there may not be child molesters in my vicinity, I'm still surrounded by rapists, abusers, and sodomists. Yikes!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

There Is NO Reason For Me Not To Make Films!

Gulp. The world's largest stop-motion animation shot on a Nokia N8. from Nokia HD on Vimeo.

This movie is a very good example of why I have absolutely no excuse as to why I haven't made more films. This little animated short was "filmed" on a goddamn phone. A phone! I need to get my ass off the chair and get out there. No excuses!

Scriptwriters Anonymous

Monday I hosted the quarterly meeting of Scriptwriters Anonymous.  It was great!  I got there at 5pm (an hour early).  Another couple of people showed up a half an hour later (Wow! We're all super punctual people!) and the last one showed up right on time.  I hadn't met the last guy before, so that was nice meeting a new person.  Well, it didn't take long before we were all sharing fun stories, sharing our scripts and script ideas, egging each other on and demanding that we finish our projects and being fast friends.

The best thing about it all is that we were all laughing and having such a good time, that we hardly noticed time passing.  Next thing we knew, it was 11pm!   You know you're having a good time when five plus hours pass by like just a few minutes.

Anyhow, the great thing about this is that even though we were having so much fun, we actually DID get a lot done.  We decided to schedule ourselves some assignments.  Here is our plan:

Due August 15th:  A three act structure breakdown of the scripts we want to write.

Due August 29th:  The back story, character biographies and character descriptions of the main characters of our scripts.

Due September 24th:  The scene outline and break down of the script scene by scene.  (Note cards work great for this process.  For those unfamiliar with it, check out the book Save the Cat.  You can find it at Amazon.  http://www.amazon.com/Save-Last-Book-Screenwriting-Youll/dp/1932907009)

Due October 28th:  The first draft of the script.  Share our drafts with each other.

November 2nd:  Swap our notes on the drafts of each others' work.

With this schedule, we could conceivably write four scripts per year and edit previous scripts during the early weeks of the next script in the line up.  That is exciting! 

Stay tuned.*  I'm hoping that before the year is out that I will have at least one salable script (maybe two, since I already have one script that is finished with the rough draft and needs editing).  Hopefully an agent is in my near future...

*Feel free to challenge me from time to time to see how well I'm adhering to my schedule!  I could use the encouragement!