Thursday, January 28, 2010

I was gonna make a soul/sole pun, but palms are not called hand-soles.

Today has been an interesting day.

So I got up relatively early (considering it's a Lazy Thursday and I have no classes) and went to the campus Copy Center in order to sort out my Hitchhiker's script. While there, I learned two important things: one, that the Copy Center only uses WhoCash (a kind of Brandeis-only debit currency), which I don't have, and two, that they don't do scanning. Well. This left me with two equally annoying and time-consuming options: either go to the library, try and find/figure out their scanner, input the entire thing by hand and then farm out the picture files for printing, or type up the damn thing myself-- which will make for a cleaner, better-edited script, which the cast can print on their own time, but is a huge bitch for me. So I have to do THAT at some point, and won't that be fun?

Then I had to e-mail Lena and respectfully withdraw my application for Final Battle. I'm only now feeling well enough to record all my audition stuff, and so I hadn't looked, since I've been here, to see if I'd packed my camera charger. Which, fun fact, I didn't. So I'm stuck with two days until deadline, a still-sore throat, and a paperweight instead of a camera. Adding to that how incredibly busy I'm going to be this semester, I just... something had to give. However, there's still a possibility I can perform with them in the chorus or something, because Lena is AWESOME and is giving me a chance. But any thoughts I had about being, for example, Ginny Weasley... well, it ain't gonna happen. Which is fine; just a bit sad.

Then I found out J.D. Salinger died. I... I'm very zen about it; it hasn't made me want to cry or anything. He was a hermit, and very old, and all in all it was a good life. But the world is just a little more phony, perhaps, now that he's not in it.

So there are all these tiny things that add up to misery put together, even though I'm actually in an excellent mood and having a WONDERFUL time at school so far. When I'm in the thick of it-- hearing Professor Flesch lecture about Shakespeare; or meeting the COOLEST MIDYEAR IN THE WORLD named Rachel tonight at BCBC and talking with her for an hour about how fanfiction leads to better writers and readers when done right; or singing with my girls in UTO (we added two to our family last night!) I feel like I'm on top of the world. I'm engaged and learning and so, so happy to be here. But when I come home to catch my breath, and I start thinking about it all-- the stuff still looming in the distance, the homework I haven't yet done, how many directions I'm throwing myself in this semester-- it feels like I'm drowning.

So I called Hayley. And we bitched and moaned at each other for a while, sounding thoroughly wretched and cleaning out all the tiny nicks and cuts that add up to so much more. It's funny, because, like, we're both in a really great place... but sometimes, you just need to whine and complain.


My palms are on FIRE right now because the weather did this weird snow-rain-wind-blizzard-snow thing in the course of, like, an hour and a half, leaving a very fine coat of ice on the ground, which I then proceeded to slip on like a Stooge. Not my proudest moment.

So where do I stand? I have homework to do tonight--reading more stories from Arabian Nights, and studying up on Richard II for my first quiz tomorrow. Reading for Kosta's class, for the first time, which I'm sure will go over my head. I still haven't unpacked my suitcase. I have 70 some odd pages of script to transcribe asap, and a UTO meeting on Sunday that will dictate my schedule for the rest of the year. Have I mentioned we're recording a CD? We're going to pick our normal three nights a week to rehearse, then set aside who knows how many Saturdays to go to the studio and record. We're also selecting a date for our Spring Concert. Which would be fine, except I'M DIRECTING A PLAY THIS SEMESTER. I don't have a script yet, which means I haven't planned auditions. With no auditions there's no cast, and with no cast there's no schedule. Once I have that, I need to find the times where we can rehearse THAT, that won't interfere with the rest of my life, and cross my fingers and HOPE that Ryan didn't schedule a play performance for whatever night UTO chooses for the concert.

I'm sorry. I don't even know if any of that was coherent. The moral of the story is that I'm very stressed, and for good reason. So many tiny things. And the only thing that will solve it all is time.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I know I know I know. I said this was going to be a daily blog, and now I'm starting to get lazy about the skipping of the days. I know. And I'm sorry.

I have been busy, my friends. Due to the courses I'm taking, I have a huge amount of reading to do for homework. UTO has been holding auditions, and tonight's the first night of BORG with the newbies, and, like, there's still the massive looming monster that is the play I'm supposed to be directing. Which is terrifying. All of this would be a handful on its own, but I'm also watching Doctor Who with Marlena, and as most of you know... once you start daydreaming about the TARDIS, it's incredibly hard to stop.

Anyway. I have a little two-hour window here to blog and get shit done before I run off to club administration stuff for the rest of the evening. So I guess I'll tell you an anecdote.

The other day, Kosta told us the story of how he met Rudolf Peierls, also known as one of the Manhattan Project physicists, and the guy who discovered that plutonium is even more susceptible to splitting than uranium. "It was in the 1970s, when I was just a Little Tsipis" Kosta said (which I love, because it reminded me of how Maureen Johnson refers to her past self as "a little mj") "and there was a conference about nuclear energy in the Balkans. Everyone who was anyone was there. Everybody important, and also Little Tsipis. I was freshly married, and so of course I brought my wife. Oh, she was a sexy thing! One of the nights of the conference, there was a dinner party. And my wife, well, she always wants to be noticed. So she came outside wearing this little skirt, probably as big as a, uh, like a napkin. And we hear a grouchy old man voice shout 'Go put something else on-- you're going to catch your death!' ... and that's the one time I met award-winning scientist Rudy Peierls."

I love Kosta.

And, oh. Because this is Sounds Passing Through Sudden Rightnesses, after all, I'll leave you with this excerpt from my Film textbook:

"The experience that art offers us can be intensely involving. We say that movies drew us in or immerse us. We get absorbed in a book or lost in a song. When we can't finish a novel, we say, "I couldn't get into it," and we say that music we don't like "doesn't speak to me," as if it were a sluggish conversational partner.

All these ways of talking suggest that artworks involve us by engaging our senses, feelings, and mind in a process. That process sharpens our interest, tightens our involvement, urges us forward. How does this happen? Because the artist has created a pattern. Artworks arouse and gratify our human craving for form. Artists design their works-- they give them form-- so that we can have a structured experience.

For this reason, form is of central importance in any artwork, regardless of its medium. The idea of artistic form has occupied the thinking of philosophers, artists and critics for centuries. We can't do justice to it here."
Take that, indie snobs who slather ideas to film like that makes it a movie. Yeah, I'm looking at you, Jim Jarmusch. Stop hiding behind that tree, Richard Linklater. I see you. THREE-ACT STRUCTURE RULES.

... I'm sorry. That went to a place. It won't happen again.

Bye kids!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Love, Today

To catch you up: I spent most of the weekend in bed, being sick. It's getting rather tiresome.

Last night I stayed up until an ungodly hour trying to help Marlena delete a virus from her computer, which wasn't very helpful for anyone because I had to get up early for UTO. We had our first rehearsal, and then sang at the Activities Fair, and then aggressively recruited for an hour and a half. Then, after a brief break, we went dorm-storming for the midyears. I haven't even THOUGHT about my homework, which is bountiful.

But I've been keeping myself entertained.

If you've never read them but love Doctor Who, PLEASE look at the Television Without Pity recaps. I mean, first of all, TWoP is a wonderful website full of very clever people-- Strega's Angel recaps are smart and stinging, highly critical but also very accurate... and they're the reason I call Angel's team the Ministers of Grace, which is fantastic. (Everyone needs more Hamlet references.) And hey, I still to this day think of Melinda Clarke as Lady Heather because of Joanna's work on The O.C. But the Doctor Who recaps-- done by a guy named Jacob-- are just... I do not have the words.

"Indescribably wonderful," I'll go with.

It's like taking a college course in Doctor Who-- or at least, the first two seasons. Things get sparse for three and four (but that suits me fine, because a) I haven't watched them yet and b) I'm a Rose fan) but from what I've read so far... wow. The close readings are so analytical on every level... it transforms a show that I dismissed as merely "cute and clever" into something far more cerebral, far more valuable. Jacob goes off on philosophy, on Campbell's Hero's Journey, on Milton, on grace. This guy is SMART, and he makes me see the series in a whole new light. Excellent, thought-provoking reading. If you like Doctor Who, or are an English major-- or, like me, are both-- this is can't-miss. Or if Doctor Who isn't your thing but you're a television buff, search the site. See if it has your favorite. I guarantee you'll learn something new.

For now: I have so, so much homework. I try not to think about it, but I'm going to have a SHIT TON of reading this semester... and until I get the script photocopied out of my Hitchhiker's radio play book and into a workable format, my hands are totally tied-- as well as the hands of my potential cast and crew. I've bitten off a lot for the spring; here's hoping I can chew it all.

[Edit: reading the series 1 finale recap, and Jacob just went literary alchemy on my ass. OH MY GOD HE'S THE JOHN GRANGER OF DOCTOR WHO. SO HAPPY.]

Friday, January 22, 2010

Oh, hello.

Weird moment... it's currently 20 to midnight, and I was staring at my computer, trying to figure out why I was feeling so restless... I'd kind of forgotten, today, that I had a blog. Like, at all. So I didn't plan anything to say.

Ummm. I'm still sick, which sucks. Getting really tired of it hurting to swallow and not being able to breathe through both nostrils at once and not being able to decide if I'm chilled or overheated. Sick blows. Not to mention, I still need to record all of my callback materials for the Final Battle, which are due by the end of the month, but I can't so long as I have no voice.

I had class today, which feels like a million years ago. Let's check in my notebook for interesting facts, shall we?

Oh man, Global Warming and Nuclear Winter (which, for the purposes of brevity I'm just gonna refer to as "Science" from now on) was such a brain-killer. Kosta is still adorable, but the thing is, his cute Greek accent isn't exactly a help when he's trying to explain Pauli's Exclusion Principle (which I still don't entirely understand). Not to mention, he fell off a ladder and broke his leg and shoulder over the summer, so his handwriting is uncharacteristically poor. I get why he wants us to have a rudimentary understanding of physics before we plunge into our actual discussions-- I mean, if we didn't, then this would be a politics course. But at one point he stopped and asked "How confused are you?" and one girl blurted "Remember when you said you wanted to make us NOT afraid of science? It's not working." I walked out of that classroom with a MUCH deeper appreciation of Leonard and Sheldon... because fictional physicists on CBS sitcoms should really be my benchmark for scientific knowledge.

But it'll be okay.

Shakespeare was awesome because Professor Flesch is super amazing awesome fantastico. He said he was considering posting recordings of the lectures as a podcast-- if he does, I'll be sure to link you. I dunno how many of you would want to listen to an hour and a half Shakespeare lecture when you didn't HAVE to, but believe me it is so totally worth it. We discussed Sonnet 73 and the first two acts of Richard II, which I kind of don't like so far, but whatever. At least the in-class analysis is interesting, even if the play itself isn't my favorite.

Short Stories with Plotz is also still fun... and I'm also still a total nightmare to have in an English class. I mean. I'm sure my professors appreciate it, but I'm also sure my peers can't stand it-- I just can't. make myself. shut. up. Granted, I'm at Brandeis, so I'm hardly the only overeager know-it-all in the room itching to contribute to class discussion, but... god, I even annoy myself sometimes. Some highlights from Professor Plotz:

"I dunno how fresh Moby Dick is in your mind, but-- well. I hope it's at least slightly fresh; there's nothing worse than rotting whale meat. Anyway--"

"The key to a lot of these fables is looking for two separate lines of interpretation. For example, is Oedipus the story of a-- oh dear lord, I almost said 'motherfucker.'"

"Right, see, it's like that dance movie, with the British boy... what's it called... Dance, Billy, Dance?"
"I think you mean Billy Elliott."
"I like my title better."

Stay in school, kids. College is fun.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

An Uncommon Hobby

If you follow me on twitter, you may have noticed that every once in a while I post these little cartoons; model sheets for things that I like. Outside of people I met through doing this, I've never heard of anyone with this odd little hobby-- so I was thinking I would explain it to you.

Around probably 2002 I found a wonderful website called Superbuddies, a forum where people talked about nerdy things in general and comic books in particular. Around this time, the animated series X-Men: Evolution was getting very popular. What a lot of the artists on Superbuddies did-- and what I then learned to do-- was take the model sheets of the characters, and "frankenstein" them. That is, mix and match parts, take things here and there from screenshots, to create new art from the old. It's not quite photoshopping and it's certainly not freehand art, but it does require a certain amount of skill. For the past near decade, it's a skill I've been honing, on and off.

Often, the mark that I really like something is that I'll end up creating art for it. Superbuddies is a really great community, and they were my only online friends for most of my teenage years. However, once I found the Harry Potter fandom on youtube, I kind of drifted away from 'buddies, which I still feel guilty about. Not to mention, my interest in art waned as I focused more and more on my writing. However, I'll sometimes still get the itch to make something-- especially if I know I have the "right parts," coming from a huge collection of cartoon art I've amassed over the years on my hard drive.

To make a long story much shorter, that's how come you've been staring at what is hopefully recognizable as an animated Rose Tyler while you've been reading that.

While working on her, I listened to the album Subcontrario (In Stereo) by my sister's friend Trevor Giuliani probably twelve times on repeat. If you're looking for new music in your life, here's a taste of his:

In about an hour, I'll be off for dinner with the UTO girls and our secret santa gift exchange. And I promise a slightly less media-heavy blog post tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Witty Blog Title Goes Here

Hokay! To start off with, I’m going to talk about Bridget Milhokovich so Hayley will stop calling me a bitch. (As with yesterday, beware spoilers.)

First of all, a thing you should know about me: I tend to like the same sorts of characters, as everyone does. For reasons that are completely beyond me, though, my favorites tend to be either spunky little sisters (Phoebe Caulfield, Ginny Weasley) or vulnerable popular girls (Cordelia Chase, Quinn Fabrey). Hayley and I share a mutual, rare but deep love of Parvati Patil, for example. So it surprised exactly no one when I said that Bridget was my favorite character in the Jessica Darling series.

But it also has nothing to do with my personal preferences and everything to do with the masterful way Megan McCafferty wrote the books. I’ve read each exactly once—I’m hardly as good an authority as Hayley or Marlena, so bear with me if you don’t agree or if I get something wrong. But you know? I don’t think I am. Wrong, I mean.

Jessica, as a person, is… well, very interested in people. She very rarely likes them, but she’s highly observant, if highly opinionated. As narrators go, she’s not always the most reliable… but somehow, McCafferty’s hand bleeds through in really surprising and wonderful ways. Jessica will often fail to imagine others complexly… but even though Jessica refuses to see it, we as readers get the sense LONG before she does that Bridget is a worthwhile individual. We start paying attention to her, Jessica’s brief mentions and off-handed remarks, and we see things Jessica doesn’t. And it works for everyone else in the story, too. Do you think it’s an accident that Hope’s name is hope? Come on, now. Hope is the epitome of idealized friendship, far more of an idea than a person. And by showing us these things by using Jessica’s voice, McCafferty establishes her books as some of the most nuanced and rewarding reads I’ve ever had.

Anyway. Today is 01/20/2010, and a hearty congratulations to Bridget and Percy.

On to other stuff! How was my German Cinema class, you ask? Well. We spent a good half hour playing a Get To Know Ya game, which was all kinds of fascinating, I can’t even tell you. … well, no. To be fair, there was one pretty awesome moment. One of the things we had to say was our favorite movie, and a girl in the far corner finished her little speech not with her favorite but by declaring “And my LEAST favorite movie is Avatar. Bring it on.”

I love this girl, and want to be her friend.

We spent the second half of class watching, Black Rider, a 1993 short film about, well, a black dude ridin’ a bus. In Berlin. Next to a racist old lady. We talked about the Nazi-era undertones (a silent crowd, no one speaking up against xenophobic comments, the prejudices of the old versus the tolerance of the young, blah blah blah). It was pretty interesting, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy the class.

Because Adam was curious, here’s the list of films we’re going to see:

  • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
  • Pandora's Box
  • The Blue Angel
  • Maedchen in uniform (Girls in Uniform)
  • The Wonderful Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl
  • Aimee und Jaguar
  • The Marriage of Maria Braun
  • The Murderers Are Among Us
Of those, I’ve only ever seen Caligari; yay for learning new things!

*returns to computer hours later*

Hello! I just went to my first BORG meeting of the year. We played Werewolf, which is my least favorite game, and people asked me when auditions for the play will be, to which I had to reply that I don’t know, because the play isn’t cut and I don’t have audition materials or a casting list or a room. Oops! Here’s what you missed:

“Man, now every time someone says ‘doctor’ I look up. It’s a problem.”
“Oh, have you been inDoctorinated?”
- Me and Matt

“So either Shannon is the werewolf, or she’s being very sneaky and has a devious plan.”
“It’s okay. We’ll be lynching her next round anyway; possibly for fun.”
- Katie and Mac

“By the way, guys, we’re gonna have the Dune discussion on February 10th.”
“Can we call it the Dunescussion?”
- Me and Matt

“See, I like Doctor Who because it’s the only world where Mal would make a better Companion than Inara.”
- Me

(Provided we remain entertaining, I may post BORG best-ofs every week. We’ll see!)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

School is awesome!

QUICK NOTE: there are spoilers for Perfect fifths in the first two paragraphs of this blog post. Read at your own risk. (HAPPY, Marlena?)

Okay, so when I twittered earlier about TARDIS-related daydreams, Hayley texted to yell at me for not marking today's occasion: as it is January 19th, today is the day Jessica Darling and Marcus Flutie cross paths for the final time in Megan McCafferty's novel Perfect Fifths. I promised her that I would blog about it so she wouldn't be mad anymore.

Well, I lied. But I have good reasons! First of all, the thing I want to actually discuss-- that is, Bridget and Percy's marriage-- doesn't take place until the 20th. So I can talk about it tomorrow and have it still be relevant. And for another, today was my first day of classes, and I would really like to talk about that while it's still fresh in my mind. So, sorry Hayley. But I'll get to it.

In any case!

Today I had three of the four classes I'll be taking this semester, so let's just tackle them in order, shall we?

My first class was Global Warming and Nuclear Winter, which I'm only taking because I need a science class. Luckily, the professor is very well aware of this. "I know why you're taking this course," he said. "It's because you want science credit. But I'm here because it's fun! So, you'll just have to suffer with me while I have fun." Hee! On the board, he'd written his fully notated name: Doctor Professor Kostantinos Tsipis. And yes, he is just as adorably old and Greek as his name suggests. One by one, he started crossing off parts of his name until we were left with just "Kosta," which is what he wants us to call him. Cuuute!

Anyway. 70% of the class is the final research paper, and he emphasized over and over again that he doesn't care about our grades: he just wants to make sure we learn something. This is so refreshing I cannot even tell you-- not to mention reassuring, given that this is a science class and that's scary. But he knows that! "I want you to become unafraid of science. Humanities majors are PETRIFIED of science-- they're allergic to it. I want to cure that!" The emphasis of the course will be on understanding the importance of numbers and why we quantify things; we're meant to ask questions. This is a class about humanity: the problems we face as a species, and our tendency to learn by experience.

(And in a perfect My Big Fat Greek Wedding moment, he handed out a scientific notation cheat sheet that had the etymological origins of the number prefixes. Like, for example:
Million = 106 = mega- (from "μέγας" ["big"])
HOW. CUTE. IS. THAT? Also, he makes his lowercase "a"s like lowercase greek alpha: α, which is very confusing to read but also extremely endearing.)

My next class was Shakespeare, which is in a huge lecture hall. That's nice, though, because I really got a feeling of Brandeis community in there. Margaret, one of the girls in UTO, sat behind me; Tal, this one guy who ALWAYS ends up in one of my classes, because we're on the same academic track; Ian, the president of the Comic Book Club, and at least three members of Hold Thy Peace, the on-campus Shakespeare performance group... they were all there. As was the hot TA from my Indie class last semester, we'll see if I get him this time. The professor, Flesch, was highly recommended to me by Talia, and I can see why: he's dynamic and interesting and so, so passionate about his subject matter.

He's also a huge nerd. He talked about Star Wars when describing how Shakespeare's intentions towards his histories are evident in that he didn't write them in chronological order, and what his thematic treatment of Henry V's life said about him as a creator. And then, when we were discussing our Shakespeare's Complete Works copies, he talked about how radical an idea it was-- and still is-- to make a Complete Works for plays. In the Elizabethan era, "works" were treatises by Aristotle or Plato. They were not just ordinary plays. The first person to compile such a thing was Ben Johnson, a contemporary of Shakespeare's. "You have to admire the audacity of it," said Professor Flesch. "A lowly playwright publishing his own material in an anthology of 'works.' This is almost as if Joss Whedon would go and collect Buffy scripts and publish them... oh wait." HEE!

Oh, and later, when he was talking about the importance of iambic pentameter, he used not the example I was expecting ("My chest of drawers divide amongst my friends," thank you John Green) but one from Total Recall: ("You know how much I hate this fucking planet!" which is an example of a feminine ending) and one from regular life at a diner: ("I'll have the special and a glass of Coke," which is masculine. "Or 'diet Coke,' if you're worried" he amended.) In any case, we'll be reading Richard II, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, Antony & Cleopatra, and A Winter's Tale, which is pretty much a play per week and a half. I have to say, I'm excited to read A Winter's Tale, and I'm not sure if it's because it's the origin of the name Hermione, or because it includes the stage direction "Exit pursued by bear."

Tal followed me to my last class, Birth of the Short Story: Gods, Ghosts, Lunatics. It was immensely gratifying, because that class was filled with what I'll call my English Posse-- the kids I took the 100 intro course with, who will stay with me as we all fulfill our majors. Talia, Chef, Rebecca, Tal... it's really awesome that we have our own little corner of the room. We read three pre-genre short stories, and argued over what defines a short story and what makes them effective, and I've missed English classes. I love film studies and I'm glad I took two film classes last semester, but balancing them out with two English courses this semester feels right. I really love analysis and critical thinking and class discussions and defending interpretations. It's too bad one can't make a career out of it.

But hey, that's what this blog is for, innit?

Anyway, I think I've kept you long enough, Gentle Readers. Tomorrow I have my German Cinema: Vamps and Angels course (which I did NOT select purely for the name, but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a contributing factor) and then I'll be mostly settled in for the spring. As for now, I'm off to check up on my favorite web comics and then probably rewatch the World War II episodes from series one of Doctor Who. Later, kids!

Monday, January 18, 2010


Firstly, a note: to those of you who wandered over here from Hayley's blog, welcome! Glad to have you. She's a pretty awesome girl, huh? (Edit: Oh, my god. I didn't even mean to make the joke. It just came out like that. THAT WAS NOT A REFERENCE. Anyway.)

I'm sorry for the obnoxious title, but I've just got back from my first UTO meeting (that is, for those just joining us, Up the Octave, the all-girls a cappella group I sing with on campus) and, well. We kind of just shout "ladiiies!" a lot at each other. They're an absolutely wonderful group of people whom I never would have met if I didn't sing, and I'm really lucky to have them.

See, like. I've known about a cappella music since I was just a little girl. My older cousins were both in groups, and my high school had two groups (which expanded to four over the course of my being there). For me, it's always been a sign of the musical elite. They're fun and talented and, just... being in an a cappella group MEANS something. It means a) that you got chosen, that you're worthy and wanted, and b) that you kind of get a new family, especially when dealing with college groups. It's a wonderful little subculture.

My first semester, I didn't get into any. I hadn't in high school either, but I'd always chalked that up to high school groups resorting to blatant favoritism and popularity contests (which is true). But college was supposed to be different, and better, and... well, frankly, I'd wanted to go to Brown, and I hadn't gotten in there, and I just wasn't looking for or expecting any more rejection in my life. It kind of ruined the first half of my freshmen year, because after that I stopped trying: I basically lived like a hermit in my dorm, except for going to class.

It was a dark time in Leahland.

Anyway. A lot happened over my freshman year winter break, which resulted in me coming back to Brandeis extremely focused on building a life for myself here. I'm now the secretary of two clubs (one of which is UTO), and I'm directing a play for the other, and I have friends here (imagine that!) and I just...

I suppose the moral of the story is that things are never how you expect them to be, but that's no excuse not to try. My first semester in UTO (which would be spring of last year) I was the only newbie in a group that was very upperclassman-heavy. It was a little isolating. But then, due to a lot of circumstances, we lost more than half the group. And things have changed SO MUCH for the better-- even though, for a few dark moments, the few of us left actually considered just ending the group. The newest group of girls are engaging and silly and sweet, and I am more fond of them than I can describe. I'm not a particularly average person, and so I've kind of gone out of my way to make a non-standard life for myself here at school, with my nerdy little nook of friends. But UTO is my bastion of normality; my one genuinely pure college experience. When I party (which is not often), it's with these girls. I can gossip with them, and we're recording a CD together... it's just pretty all-around wonderful.

Anyway. I didn't intend for this entry to be about my history with a cappella, but it just kind of happened. Tomorrow I start classes, and then it's BAM into the thick of things. So we'll see how I do, shall we?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Well this is odd.

Hello, readers!

Tonight I'm coming to you from a guest location-- my mother's desktop. I've relinquished my laptop for the evening, to be defragged and backed up before I go back to school tomorrow. Shana's gonna drive me, and then Monday I suss out where all of my classes are (I have to try and find my way around the new science building, eek!) and then Tuesday I start classes. Exciting! And a little scary.

(I still don't have an ending for my play. I should probably work on that, huh?)

So, what's new in my life, you ask? Well. Aside from a sinful amount of Doctor Who (which is absolutely adorable in every way), I had a nice hour-long conversation with Hayley. Which is always a good time. Aaaaaand. Um. I ate some cheesecake? It was good.

I don't want to talk terribly much about Doctor Who, because a) I'm only just at the start of season 2, and I don't want to contradict myself or be proven wrong or say anything I'll end up regretting, and b) I don't want to spoil anyone, and by Anyone I mean Marlena (Hi, Marlena!) but there is one thing I want to note. I really appreciate all of the hugging. And not just between Rose and the Doctor. It's everyone. Which is, to borrow a phrase, fantastic. I dunno what it is, but now I feel like American television is, like... afraid of non-intimate physical contact. Which is ridiculous and counter-intuitive and inane. Friends hug. They high-five, and get giddy over stupid things, and... even though it depicts a world of fantasy, filled with aliens, it's a profoundly human experience, watching Doctor Who. And I love that about it.

Friday, January 15, 2010


So Dollhouse was crazyinsane and I've just started watching Doctor Who (series one, with Nine) so... yeah, sorry, no post today. Because my brain is exploding. You understand, don't you?

The Doctor: [opening Rose's phone] Tell you what. With a bit of jiggery pokery-
Rose: Is that a technical term, "jiggery pokery"?
The Doctor: Yeah, I got a first in jiggery pokery, what about you?
Rose: [playing along] Nah, I failed Hullabaloo.

I already love them. So much.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

As and Bs

More reading of Jane Espenson's blog, more thinking about Keeping Faith... the days, how they do bleed into one another.

That said. For a while I've been thinking about entering this contest, which is for Dollhouse essays, the best of which will be judged by Jane herself. I've been brainstorming since they announced it, but today I finally figured out what the hell it is I want to say-- stemming from a realization I had a few weeks back when I thought about how DeWitt would make an awesome captain of the Enterprise. I won't tell you anything else, because it is a contest, after all; if I a) don't get it in on time, or b) am not among the winners when they announce in April (a veritable lifetime away), then I'll post it here. I think it will turn out really well with some aggressive editing and a bit more research, even if it is a tad exoteric.

In the process of writing the first draft, I went downstairs to tell my mom about it-- because she knows a little about Dollhouse and a lot about Star Trek and I figured it would amuse her. In doing so, however, I ended up drawn into a conversation with my grandmother about why Dollhouse is an important show and how come it's a shame they canceled it, what "dystopia" means (though it shocks me she'd never heard the word before, as she's an extremely intelligent woman), and the importance of smart entertainment. That questions of philosophy are valid no matter what medium they're presented in, and why that's why I'm so keen on getting into the industry myself, and making a product that a) I can be proud of, but mostly b) that I myself would want to consume. We ended up talking about what a Kindle is and why it was a scandal when they removed 1984 from the system without warning anyone, and how irony is awesome, and it just... it's having conversations like that that make me confident in my recent career choices. I'll catch myself in the middle of a sentence, deeply analyzing something, or making connections to other sources, and I think-- "oh, damn. I actually know my shit. I sound smart." But that's not why I keep doing it, y'know? I talk about this stuff because I'm passionate for it. Which makes for a very nice cycle.

In unrelated news, I've also been listening to Next to Normal a lot (yay, youtube.) It's a brilliant show; while I don't plan on doing this often, in the spirit of a perfect punctum I want to share one of the songs with you-- again, if you don't want spoilers, you probably shouldn't listen:

Oh, man. When Gabe comes in with that first "catch me, I'm falling?" That's a punctum. A sudden rightness. It's not much about the line itself, though it is catchy-- it's all about its placement within the song, and thematically within the show. Out of context, it's unremarkable-- but in context, it makes you gasp at how perfect it is. Definitely my favorite moment of the show.

Catch me, I'm falling-- faster than anyone should.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Do Minears Decieve Me? (sorry. that was bad.)

As I mentioned yesterday, I've been rereading Jane Espenson's blog. And in order to make my life easier, I've started a Word document entitled "Jane Go-Tos" for when I'm too busy to search through her whole blog and just need a tiny boost. She's the most brilliant person; here's an example I just added--
"Anyway, I'm certain the makers of Little Miss Sunshine looked at this film [Living Dolls]. In addition to pageant moments that are captured perfectly, I spotted the most lovely overlap. Both films feature a character working on one of those little handheld slide puzzles. In both films it's the same one: when solved, it forms a picture of a happy face. Nice. Isn't that a perfect symbol? "Want to be happy? Then work it out."

"And the thing that’s best about this little puzzle-symbol? You don't notice it! I didn't remember seeing it in the movie at all until I saw it again in the doc. The effect is subtle to the point of invisibility. Anything more obvious than that, and the artifice of the script will jump out at you and then you’re in trouble.

"So use symbols if you want to, but use a light touch. We've all seen torn photos, empty shoes, empty picture frames, wilted flowers... and they tend to smell like... huh... what is that? Oh yeah, writer."
So, so true. Subtle symbolism is hard but poignant, and she makes a good point: you should put effort into using the right one. Because going for tired visual shorthand isn't adding depth; it's sheer artistic laziness. (A fun sidenote: the blog entry I took from is entitled 'The Crash of Symbols,' which I think is sheer awesomeness.)

So while we're on the subject of scripts, I wanted to talk about the other thing I've been doing today-- reading through my Firefly Official Companion: Volume Two. It contains a second handful of the original scripts of the series-- I've owned the first volume for a while. It's incredible to have access to these scripts, especially considering that Firefly was on the air in 2002 and that, like, they're so... different. From each other, that is. They're remarkably similar to the final shot products (which is not always true on television shows like this). But the different writing styles shine through in script just as easily as they do in prose; the personality styles of, say, Jane, as opposed to Joss Whedon or Jose Molina or whomever... it's as clear as the differences between Hemmingway and Fitzgerald.

And to make a long story shorter: I fucking love the way Tim Minear writes scripts.

Who's Tim Minear? Only the god king of failed TV shows. He was a co-executive producer on Firefly, Wonderfalls, and Drive, three wonderful series that were canceled by Fox before they had the chance to grow. He got his start working on Angel, and has since done many wonderful things-- including write several awesome episodes of Dollhouse, which were made available online after airing.

And the way he writes is brilliant. He actually makes use of the script not just as a reference document for the director, cast and crew, but as its own written medium.

Take for example 'Belle Chose,' Dollhouse episode 2.3. You remember the one. With the killer and the living dolls? And that great open? (If you haven't seen Dollhouse and would like to avoid spoilers, skip these next indents):
CLOSE: a BEAD of SWEAT trickles from Aunt Sheila’s hairline. The mannequin is perspiring? And now she MOANS.

No use in moaning about it.

Now WE SEE that these aren’t mannequins. They’re real women being used as mannequins. Paralyzed. Horror.
God. Just, the way he captures that moment. What a perfect tone set for the director and actors. A simple "horror." That's all you need. And at the end of the teaser--
Terry eyes the crowd. He spots a PROFESSIONAL WOMAN. She’s roughly the same look of “Aunt Sheila.”

WE SEE Terry has the loaded syringe at the ready, hidden at his side. He takes one step off the curb -- BASH-CRACK! He’s HIT by a CAR. Yeah, you heard me.

"Yeah, you heard me." That kills me. Or take this example, from his Firefly script "Out of Gas" (regarded by many as the finest episode in a series of fine episodes):
BOOOOM! A horrific EXPLOSION from the back of the ship, at the engine room.

Zoe is on her feet in an instant. She lunges for Kaylee as --

-- a giant BALL OF FIRE roils from the back of the ship, filling the aft corridor. Zoe shoves Kaylee clear of the doorway, but the big ass FIREBALL bursts at the doorway. Zoe is knocked back hard by the concussion of the blast, her body glancing off the dinner table, then hitting a wall -- god-damn hard.
Minus several points for saying "the doorway" twice, but plus several million for sheer economy of language. There is later in that episode a moment where Simon restarts Zoe's heart with a shot of adrenaline. And rather than tiptoeing around the obvious homage, Minear embraces it-- the script reads simply, "Ready for the big Pulp Fiction moment? 'Cause that's always funny."

In the script, it says that.

I don't expect everyone else to share my mad love of script-writing, but I hope you can see why that's so effective. There's more to writing a good script than constructing a good episode of television-- though certainly that should be first and foremost in the writer's mind. But Minear goes that extra step. He writes like how he talks, peppering the stage directions with "goddamn" and "fucking" and "maybe." Like how you'd tell a story to a friend.

Ultimately, it makes his scripts pop, make the stories more real and visceral, and gives you a deeper connection to the characters.

... Whooo. So I think maybe I'm getting the hang of this. Imma try to balance my new Daily Dose blog schedule with the original "Sounds Passing Through Sudden Rightnesses" mission statement-- that is, talking about art and what affects me as a creator. You'll probably see a lot more posts like this one. Hopefully.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I'm TIRED. Can't we just be Death Eaters?

Things I did today:
  • Got an Amazon package that included Five Seasons of Angel, which I proceeded to begin to read.
  • Signed up on, which you should do if you know Bre Melvin or are interested in amateur filmmaking or like Zelda or, preferably, all three.
  • Reread Jane Espenson's blog some more ( for Keeping Faith inspiration, and because it's awesome. You should read that no matter what you like.
  • Got a callback for Lena's Final Battle musical, which is tremendously exciting and a little intimidating.
Things I did not do today:
  • Read Dune, which I'm supposed to have done before I go back to school. But Dune is boring and endlessly complicated. So.
  • Find an ending for Hitchhiker's, which I should also do before I go back to school. See above.
I fear this is tremendously boring to you all. Which is why I've never kept a diary-- I'm boring to me, too. Unlike Hayley (or Sarah Vowell or Maureen Johnson or any number of other people) I'm not incredibly skilled at the art of anecdotal non-fiction. So you'll have to bear with me. (Bare with me? No. That's probably something quite different.)

My dad shaved his beard this morning. It's the first time he hasn't had facial hair since his wedding, and it's incredibly disconcerting. He looks like a stranger.

(Isn't your life so enriched by knowing that?)

Urrgff. Blogging is HARD.

Monday, January 11, 2010

In which I try my hand at daily blogging.

Hi, kids!

Now, don't get too excited. We all know I can be a terrible liar when it comes to blogs. But I think I may try and update this thing like a normal person for once... just to see what it's like.

So, what have I been up to in the past, oh... six months or however long it's been?

Well. I watched Angel for the first time and it became one of my favorite things, ever. I was elected director of the BORG play-- we're going to do selections from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy radio plays, and I'm cutting them now. I've read a few books.

But two or three days ago, I figured out how to turn Keeping Faith from the novel that's always been a part of my soul into the movie in my head and my heart and my hands. Which is amazing and feels like fate and I just...

I've never thought that I had the ability to write a full novel. I think in terms of characters, and not in terms of plots-- I've never been the kind of person who can start a story from a premise.

But film, I think, provides a fantastic cure for that: the clear-cut three-act structure. One valuable thing I learned from taking Screenplay with a rule-abiding Hollywood school writer at the same time as I took American Independent film is that... I hate independent film. I don't like experiments, I don't like vagueness, I don't like surreality. I like clean setup and payoff, and snarky banter, and happy endings.

Perhaps you're less surprised by this revelation than I was.

In any case. Keeping Faith, close as it was to me, has always been about my deep knowledge and love for Faith and David as characters... I've never really had a plot to go with them. I know certain circumstances of their lives, but events alone do not a plot make.

But thank you Syd Field, thank you Marc Weinberg, thank you Joseph Campbell-- I have a beginning and an end, now, and they came to me when I was least looking for them. I haven't even thought about Faith or David in months. So all I need is a middle and a few thousand dollars, and the movie's practically done already.

Oh, yeah, that's something that's... happening. This story is my baby. And I'll be damned if it never gets produced. I'm too much of a crazy control freak about them not to write/direct/cast the thing myself, so I guess it doesn't matter how little regard I have for traditional indie film: looks like I'm gonna be a part of it. It will take me years, but... this feels right. I can't not do it.

And hey. There are plenty of people who make three-act indies that subscribe to formulas. I'm not breaking new ground here. Just look at Imagine Me & You.

No, seriously. Go look at it. It's a good movie.

So... how'd I do? Crazy and random enough for you? I can't imagine why you'd want a daily dose of this, but it promises to be interesting, if nothing else.