“Windy City” Enters Its First Screenwriting Competition

My first feature screenplay, “Windy City,” has been entered into the 2007 ASA International Screenplay Competition. The quarterfinalists will be announced by February 28, 2008, with the semifinalists coming out April 30 and the final winners being announced at the awards ceremony at the end of September, 2008.

As much as I dread (and typically fail) at self-promotion, it’s nice to be back on the contest scene. Æsop’s Council of Mice was my last animated film to play the film festival circuit, following the relative success of my award-winning debut Marboxian. Owing mainly to financial difficulties, I wasn’t able to do much with Mice, and I’ve had to focus on making a living since.

It’s been mentioned a few times here, but maybe it’s time to introduce the thing. Windy City is a classic city mouse/country mouse story written by someone who’s been both. It has airships and fantastic cities, natural and manmade disasters, and a whole laundry list of other exciting things. But that’s not why you’ll fall in love with it. The real movie is about a boy from the valley and a senator’s daughter from the city — Dan Assurbani and Nineve Sherrib — and how their lives meet and grow more and more complicated.

Windy City started life as a treatment six or seven years ago. At about this time last year, I dusted it off and set about cleaning it up. Somehow the treatment became a full first draft by April, and I had some friends with a bit of theatre experience over to do a cold readthrough. I sat on the lessons I learned from hearing it out loud, and the remaining issues I had with it, picked at it for the next few months as life got complicated again, and finally — in four days at a friend’s house in coastal Maine — burned through to a second draft in late August.

It’s been an interesting year. Wish Windy City luck.

A Different Hill

In my dreams there’s another Boston.

Where the Fenway and the E train should be there’s an expanse of rundown, uninteresting concrete buildings. Maybe there’s another line south of the E train.

Last night, after the flat concrete section came a neighborhood of steep hills with equally rundown platforms, roughly where Roxbury should have begun.

To the west, where Brookline should have been — or at least the no man’s land between the D train and Coolidge Corner — was a shabby, Allston-like, busy Y-shaped intersection. There was a place I needed to go which was on the far side, behind the intersection, and hard to reach.

To its west, the ground sloped steadily upward for a mile or more. At the top (very high up), looking down over the city, was an abandoned set of concentric concrete terraces, enormous, an expanse of disused parking around a building that wasn’t used anymore. Sumac and other fast-growing trees were taking hold heavily on the slope.

One night, there was a posh place above MassArt. The street sloped gently upward and broke at a compact building with a glass foyer. The main street curved to the right there. Another, smaller street broke off just before the curve, behind a wedge of brick brownstones, and continued up the same hill; it was much more neglected, and seemed to be where people lived. Maybe that hill was the same as the first. Maybe they were all the same hill.

Amazon.com’s MP3 Store

Overall I’m pleased with the Amazon mp3 store. Good interface. Good prices. Previewing tracks and albums is intuitive, the samples are high quality, and you don’t wind up with a desktop full of little .rm files after previewing them all.

The selection can be lean, even with slightly out of band tastes. I can only find one full VNV Nation album, while Rotersand turns up a remix album, and Seabound is MIA. That said, discovering new acts based on what you already know is easy and — dare I say it — fun, at least in the heavily incestuous world of electronica.

I didn’t enjoy having to install an application to download full albums. I also didn’t enjoy being forced to purchase using “one click” — why can’t I shop and then check out? I read through the terms of service, and there’s no mention of watermarking or inclusion of my account info in the files, but I wouldn’t call that conclusive. Will I get a nastygram from Amazon if someone swipes my SD card? Hopefully we won’t find out.

Once I’d made my purchase and installed the application, the downloads were quick. On my Mac, the Amazon application created an “Amazon MP3” folder in my music folder and generated subfolders for artist and album in the iTunes style. The tracks were automatically imported into iTunes, although I found it odd that the application didn’t create a playlist of the album. One question I haven’t found an answer to is whether, like in iTunes, I can purchase the remainder of an album for the (discounted) album price if I have already purchased tracks individually.

Bottom line, Barry Adamson’s “King of Nothing Hill” sounds great in iTunes, will play in TCPMP on my Palm Zire and can ride a thumb drive to my client onsites. At the same album price offered on the iTunes Store for a track that’s locked to play only in iTunes on my own machine, I’d call that a deal.

“Dead Dog” by Nicholas Ozment

Pseudopod Horror Podcast #055

Not a bad story. The language was very well used. I found the black dog myth and the narrator’s guiltless infidelity a bit hard to lash together thematically, and some of the descripive passages and long flashbacks made my attention wander.

But I have a request. Referencing the “mini generation gap” comment I made on “The Apple Tree Man,” could we hear a bit more from the under 40 crowd on future Pseudopods? I’m sure doing abhorrant things with a wife and kids at home is viscerally arresting once you have them, but trust me: down here, clawing our way into a dead and cynical global economy, there is horror aplenty.

DIY Coms

So let me get this straight. Now I get to watch…

  • Shitty commercials
  • Shitty commercials that look like they were made by amateurs
  • Shitty commercials that were made by amateurs

Notes on the Matewan “Massacre”

From a description in Christopher M. Finan’s “From the Palmer Raids to the Patriot Act: A History of the Fight for Free Speech in America”

The Matewan “Massacre” would make an interesting, if challenging film. Starts out with a classic Western-style showdown. Escalates to open warfare.

“Passengers on the Norfolk and Western trains went through the battle zone crouching on the floors of the cars while glass crashed overhead.”

  • Sid Hattfield (28). Police chief, former miner. Shot Albert C. & Lee Felts. Gunned down on courthouse steps.
  • Albert C. Felts. Shot mayor Cabbell Testerman. PI for Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency, deputized in neighboring town. Hired to evict fired miners.
  • Cabbell Testerman. Mayor & town druggist. Authorized the arrest of the detectives for carrying arms within town limits.
  • Miners. Payed in company scripp. Fired when they joined unions.
  • Baldwin-Felts Agency Detectives. Seven killed by miners in initial gunfight, rest fled across river.
  • President Warren G. Harding. Sent in Federal Troops.

OUTSIDE

  • Rev. John Haynes Holmes. Eloquently denounced the violence on both sides.
  • The ACLU. Only a few years old. Spoke out against the underlying causes.
  • The courts. Widely abused injunctions to suppress meaningful picketing. Used sedition laws unevenly to ban violent pro-union publications while allowing employer publications to advocate violence openly.

A Chart of the Pressures Facing an Essentially Straight Modern Woman

Concept: An attempt to understand said topic, rendered in the form of a nautical chart.

Software: Inkscape

Download:

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License.

See Also: My previous infographic of the second Lancet study of Iraqi War Deaths at one per pixel, and photos of “the island” near my home town in Maine.

Plugins

The following are the plugins in use on the Space Toast Pages, in the order in which they were installed. Note that plugins should be saved into Blosxom’s plugins folder with no file extension: do not add .cgi or .txt, for example, or they will not run.

Excludez

Available here. Prevents Blosxom from reading designated directories. Necessary to keep certain text files in the old pages directory from appearing as Space Toast Pages. Minimal setup, no headaches.

Blox

Available here. Automatically inserts paragraph tags and line breaks. Big time saver. Minimal setup. Has an optional “wiki-like” markup system, on by default, which was disabled after it mangled a Creative Commons license. Grinds JavaScript to a bloody pulp. (Would do well to disable itself inside comment tags.)

File

Available here. Allows the contents of text files to be inserted dynamically into templates and stories. Used to add the “Current Addiction” to the sidebar. Minimal setup, no headaches.

MoreEntries

Available here. Creates the “Next” and “Previous” links that appear at the bottom of the page when needed. Smart about when to add the links and when not to. Basic setup minimal, but changing the default wording and styling of the links requires digging through Perl code.

Meta

Available here. Required by the Entries_Cache_Meta plugin below. No setup, pain-free.

Entries_Cache_Meta

Available here. Allows a story to specify its posting date. Needed to backdate the old weekly issue Space Toast Pages and to keep Blosxom from treating edits as brand new postings. Poorly organized variable configuration slows setup.

WritebackPlus

Available here. Invites readers to post their comments about Space Toast Pages. (Hint: Dig through the >Run Fight Heal Magic line.) Complicated setup, but not out of line with total functionality. May need to be rethought if comment spam ever becomes a problem. Update: Was rethought when Comment Spam became a problem.

The problem of Comment Spam will receive its own posting shortly.

Letter to CNN

Dear CNN:

If you want to show your class, next time a Presidential debate ends, don’t talk. Don’t say anything. Just give us an hour of lovely American music — Sousa, Copeland, Gershwin — and allow us to think, discuss, and form an opinion. Is consideration no longer encouraged by the people of CNN? Every person you cut to after the debate walked into your studios with an opinion they wanted to deliver before the American people on prime time tv. That’s the candidates’ job.