Monday, February 23, 2009

The American Coming-of-Age Story

Having recently watched Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist I got to thinking about the typical American coming-of-age story. I was a little disappointed that this particular film centered around high-school students, as I felt that the dialogue, actions and awareness portrayed by the characters was more typical of an early 20's character. It seems unrealistic to me that high school students would be allowed to traipse around NYC all night, driving, going to clubs, playing in bands, barfing in bus stations, without so much as an ID check from a bouncer, or a phone call from a frantic parental unit. I was reflecting on why this choice was made when it dawned on me that if they were to give these characters 20+ status it would interfere with the whole formula for the American Coming-Of-Age Story. The formula is precise. High school student nears graduation and faces minor or major crisis of identity and life focus. Student must decide what college to attend, and deal with current relationship and living situation in attempt to ready themselves for the roller coaster ride of dorm living collegiate existance. If you were to make a character over 20, still living with their parents, the message you send is that they have no ambition and will not succeed without attending college.

When did this highschool-college-career formula become so prevalent in American cinema? Is it still valid, considering the current economic forecast? Not to mention the amount of post secondary graduates who don't even use their degree in their career, the amount of students who have to work to save money before attending college, and the technology available today that teaches some kids certain things that a computer science grad from 3 years ago couldn't speak to. All this being said, will the coming-of-age story ever see the end of its reign? Or perhaps it is just too close to the hearts of so many to be knocked down a peg or two by the cruel mistress of reality.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Nature Of Things. Without Suzuki.

I've had several recent conversations with friends lately regarding the nature of happiness. I may have previously blogged about this, feel free to move on with your surfing if this is the case. In my experience, one of the most popular answers to the question "what do you want out of life?" has always been some form of the word "happiness". I'd say it's consistency level is right up there with "world peace" at the Miss America pageant. This answer, I think, is borne out of a severe misunderstanding of the nature of happiness. Happiness, as a feeling, is fleeting by nature. I feel happy when I have my first cup of coffee in the morning. I feel happy when I get to go to the movies with Derek. I feel happy when my family comes to visit. Sometimes I even wake up in the morning feeling happy, in general (this is rare, as the mornings and I don't tend to get along). I think many people define happiness the way I define contentment or satisfaction. Further to this, they expect it to be constant. They request that happiness be a permanent fixture. I really don't think this is possible. How can we demand that something which is an emotion and therefore fleeting by nature, to be constant? And what would we do if it was constant? If happiness was permanently experienced, would it not become the status quo? What would we want to feel on a good day, if we were happy even through the worst day?

I really and truly believe that we were not designed to be happy. We are designed to strive for our goals, experience success, failure, pain, love, hope and a whole other gamut of crap, none of which lasts forever. Joy, however, which by nature can be experienced at the same time as pain, failure and anger, is a different matter. Maybe if we can bridge the definition gap between joy and happiness, we won't feel so off kilter when we're on an extended hiatus from our fleeting friend. When happiness eludes us, there is still something to fall back on.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

8 Pages...Or Less.

Tonight I am writing...and second guessing...and writing. I am trying to fit a short story into 8 pages of script. I am trying to make that script low budget and location friendly. I am trying too hard. Writing is for getting the story on paper. Re-writing is for the other stuff. I know you are likely already aware of these facts. I, however, need the visual reminder.

I am not ready to disclose the premise of the story quite yet, but I can tell you that I have high hopes for it, which in my case means high anxieties as well. Perhaps this will be a lesson in remaining emotionally unattached to my stories. Is that even possible? I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cop Out Day

If I write anything today, it will be good material for a sequel to the film "Waiting", entitled "Waiting 2: Wrath of the Wait Staff" so I will spare you, and instead pose this question:

If reincarnation was the rule, and you could choose what you came back as, what would you choose?

I believe I would choose a sea turtle.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Five By Five

My exercise today is to write five pet peeves accompanied by five log lines or mini summaries loosely based on them:

1: Being blamed for something I didn't do.

2: People who think anything but a g-string constitutes granny-panties.

3: Parents who cannot stand up to the mind games of their three year old.

4: Co-workers who get away with laziness because they possess a minimal amount of charm.

5: Unsolicited advice on a consistent basis

1: A woman is found jobless after she is accused of embezzling large sums from her company. A few days later, agents show up on her doorstep questioning her about her connection to a terrorist cell. Soon after she is accused of the murder of her elderly grandmother, whom she cares for. Not trusting anyone, the woman goes on the run, in an attempt to clear her name and track down the person who has set her up.

2: Local DJ and avid womanizer rates his conquests on his popular "hot-or-not" website. His plans for blogging domination are thrown askew when he falls for the Queen of the Cat-Ladies, and his priorities begin to shift.

3: Welcome to baby Stepford, where the kids are in charge and Cheerios are serious weapons. Don't expect cuddles and colouring, these kids have worn down their parents through months of parental weakness. They hold the strings now, and plan to keep it that way.

4: Wilson Wicks has spent his whole life doing things by the book, and being walked all over. His best assignments given to the pretty girls, overlooked for a promotion, given instead to the lazy, yet charming bus boy, critisized by the parental unit for being less athletic, and more antisocial. When Wilson finds a manual at the used bookstore on how to charm his way through life, he begins to notice a dramatic change in how others respond to him.

5: Abby Watts, known as Dear Abby by her friends is the queen of friendly advice, even when its not asked for. Solving peoples problems is Abby's heroin, until the day she recieves an anonymous document on her doorstep, outline all her shortcomings and offering a suggestive "fix" for each mistake.

OK, so some of these are uber lame, but it's a valuable exercise. Favorites? Least Favorites (*ahem* Baby Stepford). Let me know.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Pandora's Box

Still have not won the Power Source war, but the battle rages on.

I have been struggling with my writing lately. It seems that when I try to tap into my creativity, I also crack the dark cellar door to my subconscious, causing sleepless nights, crazy dreams, and hyper active thought patterns that result in many a dropped dish at work. I'm trying to find the balance between being uninhibited in my writing without losing complete functionality in the real word, where I must still make appearances on a daily basis.

I am writing tonight, we will see what becomes of the sleep patterns. If anything worthwhile comes out, I will post it.