Wednesday, August 29, 2007

twenty per cent

On August 13th I received an email saying my submitted screenplay was in the top 20% of those entered into the Nichol's competition. This means that about a thousand scripts were better than mine, but about four thousand were worse.
It actually felt very good to get this email. Prior to that, I'd only learned that my script didn't make it into the top-5%-quarterfinals. I started to wonder if the script had been rejected right away as being too weird or whatever. I remember saying to Rodrigo, "It sounds funny, but I feel bad for my characters. I cared about them so much. I wanted them to be understood."
I'd obsessed over the screenplay from last fall until the week before the deadline, when I mailed it. I took a screenwriting class in the 1980's, and wrote a script I was embarressed to read again last year. Since then, I hadn't written anything in that format. Somehow, at the end of last summer, dialogues started to occuring to me, as if dictated by God. I typed them in, tried to put them into story format, and realized it had to be a screenplay. I looked up "screenplay" on Wikipedia and learned about the Nichol's competition.
By the week before the deadline, I knew I didn't have the best screenplay in the world. "It isn't going to win, should I still send it in?" I asked Rodrigo.
"You've been working towards this deadline. You may as well, " he replied.
Twenty per cent may not seem like a great writing credit. But it gives my writing some validation. I'm not a total flake raving about something that's completely incomprehensible to rational beings. Was that worth the $40 entry fee?
That, along with the sense that I tried, and took myself seriously, makes it worth it to me. Those who know how very cheap I am (and how short our funds last summer) may be surprised to hear it.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

ear buds

I finally flew on an airplane last weekend, for the first time since the nineties. The airline was called Airtrans, which I don't think I even heard of before a month ago. They gave out pretzels, which I'd been told not to expect, nowadays; and they also gave out ear-buds.

I found a station in the on-board XM Satellite radio playing beautiful opera, and tried to put the ear-buds in my ear. They fell out. I pushed them in deeper. The one in the left ear stayed, but hurt my ear. I took it out and tried again. I tried listening with the earbuds held close to my ear but not so much in that they hurt, but there was too much of a swooshing sound interfering with the music.

I felt like a technological neophyte. I wondered if there was a trick to them that I just hadn't learned.

The lady next to me had brought her own white i-Pod ear buds, so I thought maybe the expensive ones are more comfortable. I looked around the airplane, trying to see other people with airplane-issued black ear-buds. Across the aisle there was a teenager, and in front of him a 50 or 60ish year old gentleman. They both had black ear-buds, and they both seemed content. I checked the orientation of the bud wires with respect to their ears--yes, I seem to have got that right. I couldn't notice anything they were doing that made the buds work for them.

A day later I complained to my sister Frannie about the ear-buds. Frannie has been flying a lot lately, and should know about them. "I think our ears are shaped differently," she said. "I can't get them to fit comfortably either."

All this time I've been envying those silhouttes dancing with abandon in the iPod Shuffle commercials. Now it turns out that I don't want to be among them. Cheap ear phones, like the kind I got on a Virgin Atlantic flight years ago, always worked fine. But now they're probably harder to obtain.