Monday, October 29, 2007

Some Information about That Class I Took and The Rest of the Weekend

I spent about 17 hours of my weekend taking a class that was supposed to help me become a better writer in the world of writing things for television or movies. I am not going to address whether or not I feel as though my abilities in the aforementioned sphere have been augmented by this intensive course as I have no way to judge such a thing seeing as the last time I wrote a script of any kind was nearly a year ago and I have not, in the seven or so hours I’ve been out of class, written anything. The same can’t be said for my classmate, who spent most of today writing fifty-some pages of a spec script - a follow up episode to the pilot the instructor of the course gave us. I can’t imagine doing this (both writing such an enormous amount in a short period of time or writing so much for something that sucks so bad), but I can’t say that my use of the past three days’ time has been any more respectable, in fact the exact opposite is probably the case.

Listen, I’ll explain a couple things. The course was taught by a guy, Jeff Strauss, who knows a pretty good amount about being successful in the world of writing very standard sitcom fare. The guy wrote for “Friends” for a number of years, and has also worked on “Reba,” so you can really get a feel for what other things he’s done might be like. Despite the fact that the credits to his name did little to excite my confidence in his depth of character or understanding of humor the guy did a reasonable job of filling up enormous amounts of time with anecdotes I’m no longer able to remember as I write this, while occasionally dropping pieces of information one might find useful. The only trouble with the useful things he did teach us is the fact that they could probably be just as easily communicated in a book on the same subject, and I happen to know that many such books exist as I have been constantly told to read them by people who live across the living room from me. This is all sort of besides the point though, what I really want to tell you about is what I actually did accomplish with my weekend in this class, and that’s a small amount of non-dramatic writing that contains a very small amount of utility.

Let me clarify: I wrote two (very) short stories, one poem and one rap (the subject of both being one Jeff Strauss), one piece of dialogue, and a number of fake letters from famous people. One one of the short stories and the piece of dialogue were class exercises for which we were allotted 20 minutes, while the fake letters from famous people were used mostly as a means of entertaining Muffin and myself as we sent them to one another via Bluetooth as the classroom itself was not equipped with any kind of internet. Finally, the second short story is a realistically fictitious account of what happened in the class. It’s far from finished, but I promise you will get to read it upon its completion. I will, however, share with you the piece of dialogue I wrote (and had to read aloud to a room full of non-receptive listeners), both the poem and the rap as well as the letters from famous people.

"A Poem about Jeff Strauss"

This is a poem about Jeff

LOOK AT MY SOUL PATCH!

LOOK AT IT LOOK AT IT LOOK AT WHAT I’VE DONE
With my facial hair.
To my facial hair.
At my facial hair.
I made a soul patch with it
I am a soul patch with it

Souls get Holes

Every
Soul
Needs
Patching


My shirt is blue, my jeans are blue.

I AM JEFF


WHEN I WAS AT TUFTS I DIDN’T HAVE A SOUL PATCH BHAAAA


This poem might, to those who have never seen or met Mr. Strauss, be a bit confusing. It's important to know, and I probably should have mentioned this fact, that Jeff has a soul patch, a form of facial hair that I find to be almost impossible to look at and infinitely upsetting. I speculate that most of his power comes from this feature of his, and as such most of what I've written relating to him has what might seem an undue amount of focus on the square of hair just above his chin. Anyway, here is the rap about Jeff Strauss I wrote, it is in the style of the old school.

"This is the rap about Jeff"

WELL MY NAME IS JEFF STRAUSS
AND I ROCK THE HOUSE
WITH MY FLY SOUL PATCH
I BORE YOU TO DEATH WITH MY VERBAL BOUTS

I TAKE SCREENPLAY DUMPS
YEAH MAN I SHIT SCRIPTS
IF I’D BEEN ALIVE IN THE 60’S
I WOULDA OWNED BEWITCHED

NOW WHEN I SAY “SOUL” YOU SAY “PATCH!”

[16 minutes of call and response until drum loop ends]


Again, I can see how this might be upsetting to people who were not in the class. I should also explain why everything is written with caps lock on: it was the easiest way to share the information found on my laptop's screen with Muffin who was sitting next to me. He has pretty bad eyesight, and we both wear glasses, so it was important to take that into account when sharing our extracurricular writing activities with one another.

Now, here are letters that it would appear famous people wrote to Muffin and Me while we were in class. There was another letter from Stanley Kubrick to Someone in the Class that did not survive the great OSX upgrade/frustrationfest my computer experienced this weekend (more on that never), but you might like to know that the letter from Kubrick was the best of them all.

DEAR MLS,

HEY OK ITS ME ARONSORKINISITARONSORKINYESITSAARONSORKIN OK SO HI LISTEN I WANTED TO THHHHHANK YOU FOR WATCHING MY SHOW STUDWESTWINGSPORTSIO60NIGHTTHE ALL THE WAY TO THE END EVIN THO NOBODY LIK IT OK I AM RITING LETTRS TO EVERYONE WHO WATHED IT SO HERE IS YOUR LETTER OK THANK YOU GOO

DBY

E

RN SORKN

--

DEAR MUFFIN

THIS IS TAKESHI MIIKE. I AM VERY DISAPPOINTED WITH YOU FOR LETTING YOUR GIRLFRIEND AND ALSO YOUR OTHER FRIEND WATCH ONE OF MY MOVIES. YOU SHOULD HAVE TRIED HARDER, YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE LET THIS HAPPEN.

I NEVER WANTED IT TO BE LIKE THIS

TM

--

DEAR MILES,

I GUESS YOU'RE WONDERING WHY IT TOOK ME SO LONG TO WRITE THIS LETTER. WELL, I GUESS THE ONLY EXPLANATION IS THAT I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU TO WRITE A LETTER TO ME. WHEN I GOT TIRED OF WAITING, I WROTE THIS LETTER. WHEN I GET TIRED OF WRITING THIS LETTER, I WILL SEND IT. I HOPE YOU ENJOY MY SONGS BECAUSE I WRITE ALL OF THEM THINKING ABOUT YOU AND WHAT A COOL GUY YOU ARE.

XOXOXOXOXO
JOHN DARNIELLE

PS
I LOVE THAT YOU GUYS CALL ME MONTY N GOAT. THAT IS HILARIOUS. ANYWAY BYE

--

DEAR MUFFIN,

THIS IS JEFF STRAUSS. YOU MIGHT BE WONDERING HOW IT IS THAT I AM WRITING A LETTER TO YOU AT THE SAME TIME AS I SIT IN FRONT OF THE CLASS EXPLAINING INFORMATION ABOUT PIAGET. DON'T WORRY ABOUT THIS. LISTEN, DURING LUNCH I TOOK A PRETTY SERIOUS SCREENPLAY DUMP. I THINK IT'S A GOOD START, BUT I'D REALLY LIKE YOU TO READ IT OVER TO GIVE ME SOME FEEDBACK ON IT. YOU COULD EVEN DO SOME EDITS OR RE-WRITES IF YOU LIKE. TALK TO ME AFTER CLASS.

ALSO, I WANT TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT YOUR FACIAL HAIR, BUT THAT'S REALLY A CONVERSATION BETTER HELD FACE TO FACE - OR FACE TO PATCH AS IT WERE.

REGARDS,

JEFF STRAUSS

And finally here is the short piece of dialogue I wrote in order to better understand whatever it was I was supposed to be understanding in the class. The scene is this: a friend calls his friend on the phone to tell him something.


G:
Hello?

R:
Oh my god dude you’ll never even believe it

G:
what? Who is this?

R:
it’s Royce man, I’m down at the convenience store and it is just insane what is going on down here

G:
what do you mean? Are you alright?

R:
What? Of course I’m all right I’m calling you to tell you about how what’s happening

G:
so tell me already

R:
George Clooney is down here and he is so upset

G:
George Clooney? Like George Clooney George Clooney?

R:
yes exactly George Clooney George Clooney

G:
What’s he doing? What’s he so mad about?

R:
who knows what set him off but he is just furious. He is screaming at everybody in the parking lot

G:
What’s he saying?

R:
it’s hard to even tell at this point he’s just sort of deteriorated into syllables, you know? Oh- oh no he’s coming this way

G: Is he going to hit you I mean does george clooney get that angry

R:
oh he looks that angry right now

G:
is he still coming after you?

R:
n- no not anymore, he got distracted by a parking meter. He’s yelling at it now

G:
what?

R:
ohp now he’s trying to, he’s trying to pull it out of the ground and the police are here

G:
are they arresting him?

R:
they’re trying, man I mean you don’t just arrest George Clooney when he’s like this

G:
I guess not

R:
anyway listen I should probably get out of here I don’t want to have to answer like a million cop questions, considering my record and all that they might think I was involved

G:
alright I guess I’ll talk to you later?

R:
yeah mean I’ll give you call

G:
bye


That's about it for that I guess. Also, as promised, I carved that pumpkin mentioned previously on this blog. I consider the outcome to be a full success, especially given the limited visual nature of the source material. You will find a picture of my accomplishment immediately below these words.


3 comments:

Muffin MacGuffin said...

First!

alex said...

veronica mars, VERONICA MARS, veronica mars

Philip said...

All poems must involve weapons hidden in innocent looking food items.