Coming Attractions

Good afternoon. Gigi the parti poodle here and I must tell you it was bath week again. I dread the event. And this time after I finally managed to shake my fur enough and get dry my owner sprayed some blueberry scented grooming/conditioning spray on my hair and made me smell nice. To be honest I rather liked that part. At least the Maltese got sprayed first…

And I got a haircut yes, I did.

Stop intro bombing my introductions!

But I did! I got a haircut and I look handsome. I am a handsome Maltese.

If you say so. Both of us Canus lupis familiaris hope you are having a happy holiday season and without further ado, here is my novelist.

This week I thought I’d update you on what is going on with my books. In about two weeks I’m going to be offering the Kindle version of Chicane FREE for five days. If you’re not familiar with my story it is a short novel set in Colorado in December. The protagonist is a young troubled former race car driver who must face his demons as he is forced to take a harrowing journey from Nederland to Bolder during a brutal blizzard. It’s a fast suspenseful read and I will keep you updated on the dates you can download the book this holiday season.

Also, my third book in the Musicology series entitled Musicology: Volume Three, Twist! will be releasing on or around January 11th, 2021. Here’s a little bit about the third installment in the satirical series:

As Musicology’s season narrows down to the final seven contestants, producer Devon Daniels enlists the kids in a bizarre charity event. Max becomes desperate to keep his favorites in the competition. But Ruby has other plans and enlists the help of an old friend who spins the show in an unexpected direction. As the weeks wear on the kids begin to go stir crazy living in the mansion and one of the judges finds a way to take advantage of the situation.

That said, I was given a project this morning I thought I would share with you. It may be one you’ve already done, and it is not an earth shatteringly new idea but as it is the holiday season it is a good one to do. The project is to simply list ten things your grateful for, so I thought I’d share my list:

TEN THINGS I’M GRATEFUL FOR

  1. Gigi and Tucker
  2. Having the ability to write stories
  3. Amazon Publishing
  4. Being introverted
  5. Having a Blog
  6. Not being afflicted with Covid-19
  7. My personality type is exceedingly rare
  8. A college education
  9. Parents who taught me to be frugal
  10. Living in the Great Northwest

I hope you get the time this week to write your own list and continue to enjoy the holidays!

My Books

You can check out my books Chicane and the first two books in my Musicology book series Musicology: Volume One, Baby! and Musicology: Volume Two, Kid! on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback editions. You can also check out Musicology’s web site at www.musicologyrocks.com and vote for who you think will will Musicology!!!

STREAM OF THE WEEK: SECRETARY (2002)-Peacock

Okay, this one’s kind of sexy but it’s a lot of fun and one of my favorites from the 2000s. It is based on the short story from Mary Gaitskill’s short story collection Bad Behavior. Lee Holloway (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is a young woman recently released from a mental facility for cutting herself. Needing a job and unable to break her bad habit she finds she has an unusual talent for typing and after passing her test she applies for a job as a secretary at the law office of impeccable Mr. Grey (James Spader). Mr. Grey has a difficult time keeping secretaries as he is an unusual perfectionist who likes to raise orchids. But upon finding out about Lee’s proclivity for cutting herself their professional relationship takes an enlighteningly odd turn. The actors have fantastic chemistry, and it is well worth the watch.

SMART MOVIES FOR SMART KIDS: THE GODS MUST BE CRAZY(1980)-Amazon Prime

This is an utterly charming film for adults and older kids alike. Comically set up to run like a National Geographic film the story focuses around a bushman named Xi (N!xau) who lives a simple life with his tribe in the Kalahari desert. One day a Coke bottle is thrown out of an airplane by its pilot and lands in the middle of the tribe’s land. At first the bottle is thought to be quite useful to them. But then fighting ensues over the ownership of the bottle and when one of the children is hurt Xi decides the best thing to do is to return the bottle to the gods. On his journey to carry out the task Xi runs into a biologist, a journalist/schoolteacher, and some very zany revolutionaries. A must-see modern classic.

SCREENWRITINGU FREE CLASS FRIDAY: STRATEGIES FOR GETTING A MANAGER

You can sign up for the class here which is at 12:00 noon PST on Friday December 4th. This is a teleconference.

WALKING

Oh, goodie, goodie it is Thanksgiving! My name is Tucker, and I am a Maltese. I just saw a television show my novelist adores and the episode showed you could drop turkeys out of helicopters! They fall to the ground and then you can catch them and eat them…!

You idiot! Turkeys cannot fly…Good afternoon and Happy Thanksgiving. Gigi the parti poodle here to introduce my novelist…

Yes, you can drop turkeys out of helicopters and then chase them and eat them for Thanksgiving dinner. It is like an Easter egg hunt with turkeys.

It is most definitely not like an Easter egg hunt! It is shocking and horrible! Did you even watch the same show I did?!

Pretty turkeys drop out of the sky and you chase them and…

Without further ado, here is my novelist. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

I was delighted to find out the Peanuts specials are being aired by PBS, the heroes of the holiday season. Sometimes thinking different translates to signify evil, greedy, sanctimonious, narcissistic, über-scum who take pleasure in robbing children of the cinematic joy they look forward to during the holiday season. Not to mention A Charlie Brown Christmas is a story that focuses on anti-commercialism.

When I first started this blog, one of the things I talked about was how I like to take long walks. I find they helped me think. I also mentioned that I liked to walk outside instead of inside. Apparently, there is science to back me up. The Psychology Today article, Surprising Benefits of Taking Your Creative Mind for a Walk from December 28, 2018 discusses the importance of walking and aerobic exercise to boost creativity and build a better brain. You can also find this article renamed as Your Brain Was Made For Walking in the Reader’s Digest November 2020 issue as well as online under the title Need To Spark Creativity? Go For A Walk. And yet another short article called Want To Maintain Total Cerebral Brain Volume? Keep Walking from Psychology Today April 19, 2019 continues to emphasize the benefits of walking.

Now I must admit my history of walking has been a little insane. When I was in college, I had a job working at a hospital gift shop on the weekends. I would walk all the way from the University of Washington campus on both Saturday and Sunday mornings up to pill hill and take the bus home at the end of my shift. I kid you not. It was almost a three-hour walk. You could not do something like that now because it could be dangerous. But at that time when the Pacific Northwest was a less violent place you could, and I did it almost every weekend for a year. A couple of times I walked from the University of Washington campus to Northgate Mall. It took me just about as long.

One of my daily routines in college was to walk from my dorm down the Burke-Gilman Trail to HEC Edmundson Pavilion to work out and then back again. This was much shorter than my near three-hour walks mentioned above. This was fifteen minutes each way. But it was consistent day to day walking with a workout in between.  

Nowadays I walk for about an hour a day when I go for a walk which I do on days when I am not doing other exercise and I of course walk Gigi and Tucker as a separate walk. I exercise almost every day.

Now I am not advocating that writers should do a three hour walk five times a week. But I do think it is good for writers to walk regularly, as in an average of thirty minutes a day not just to think but for the sake of boosting their creativity, their health, and their sanity. My experience with writers is every one of them could use all these assets. So, after you’ve wolfed down all that turkey, ham, tofurky, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, vegetables, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie or whatever you had for dessert get off your duff and go for a walk so your brain doesn’t shrivel up and turn to dust.  

My Books

You can check out my books Chicane and the first two books in my Musicology book series Musicology: Volume One, Baby! and Musicology: Volume Two, Kid! on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback editions. You can also check out Musicology’s web site at www.musicologyrocks.com and vote for who you think will will Musicology!!!

STREAM OF THE WEEK: COLD TURKEY (1971) ScreenPix

If you thought convincing people to wear a mask was hard check out this little gem. Written and directed by Norman Lear (All in The Family) this satire centers around the town of Eagle Rock, Iowa where almost all the residents except the Reverend Clayton Brooks (Dick Van Dyke) and his bedraggled wife Natalie (Pippa Scott) smoke…although they used to, and a few politically extreme whack jobs. Looking to help the tobacco industry get some cheery publicity evil and eccentric PR man Merwin Wren (daffily played by Bob Newhart) suggests awarding a prize of $25,000,000 to the town that can quit smoking for thirty days. Wanting to escape his bankrupt municipality and move to a larger parish Reverend Brooks campaigns for the town to take on the bet and even starts smoking again to reestablish his addiction so he can go through the same withdrawals as his flock. He finally gets everyone to sign a pledge to stop smoking and Eagle Rock ends up being the only town eligible to compete for the prize, but nefarious works are in play to thwart their efforts.   

SMART MOVIES FOR SMART KIDS-THE PEANUTS MOVIE (2015)-FXM

After you watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving head on over to FXM and check out The Peanuts Movie, a 2015 stop-motion/computer-animated flick with the whole Peanuts gang. This film was inexplicably snubbed for the Oscar and instead the dreary, near unwatchable, blatantly sexist Anomalisa secured a nod and for some reason the grossly over rated and possibly worst Pixar movie ever made Inside Out beat out the superior Shaun The Sheep Movie for the win. That said The Peanuts Movie is a charming and delightful film and the first 3-D outing for the Peanuts movies. The story has The Little Red-Haired girl moving into the house across the street from Charlie Brown. With the help of his wildly imaginative beagle Snoopy, his sister Sally and his friends Linus, Marcie, Peppermint Patty, Schroder and a skeptical Lucy, Charlie Brown uses his sweetness and honesty to try and find ways to impress his beloved neighbor. A side-story penned by Snoopy featuring Woodstock and his bird buddies, parallels though the tale.  

SCREENWRITINGU FREE CLASS FRIDAY

ScreenwritingU is doing a free class today, Friday, 11/27/2020 at 2:00 pm PST. Usually their classes are at noon but today it is at 2:00pm. It will be an analysis of The Queen’s Gambit. You can sign up for the class HERE. It will be a teleconference as most of their classes are.

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

Good Morning. Gigi the Parti Poodle here once again to…

I am here too. I am Tucker the Maltese.

What do you want, imbecile?

I want to talk about all the video games I have started playing because it has been raining outside and I do not like to go for walkies in the rain.

Nobody cares about your insipid video games.

I am playing Goat Simulator. I play as a Goat and I run into buildings and things.

Fantastic. As I was saying…

I also run people over and make them sad.

You are a twit. Without further ado…

Here is our novelist!

That is MY line!

Here is our novelist!

This week I have a special treat for you. Once upon a time I was fortunate enough to take a class from Stewart Stern. He was a highly gifted screenwriter who wrote the screenplays Teressa, Rachel, Rachel, The Rack, and Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams. He penned the TV Mini-Series Sybil andthe adaptation of The Glass Menagerie (1973). He also wrote the documentary The James Dean Story as well as Benjy which won the Oscar for Best Documentary, Short Subject in 1951. But you probably know him best for having written the legendary screenplay Rebel Without a Cause, one of the finest films ever made.

When I took Mr. Stern’s class, one of the things he discussed was the importance of interviewing people to help writers create their characters and write their stories. And when he did, he gave us a list of Cross Interview Questions to ask our subject.

To be honest sometimes I have interviewed people to write my stories and sometimes I haven’t. Sometimes I’ve relied more on research from reading books, studies, and other resources because of the nature of the project. But it is important I think to know the type of questions you should be asking your subject should you choose to do so. Naturally, depending on your subject you might add questions in this list to be more specific. Like for instance if you are interviewing a baseball player you are going to be asking specialized questions that pertain directly to baseball. But in addition to those specifics these are superb questions to ask any person. Here they are:

CROSS INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

  1. Describe your childhood home and the people in it. What did it look like? Feel like? Smell like?
  2. What were your happiest times?
  3. What were your most unhappy times?
  4. What were your three secret wishes as a child?
  5. Who was your inspiration while you were growing up?
  6. Is there some lost toy or possession you wish you had again?
  7. What do you do for work?
  8. What do you do for fun or enjoyment?
  9. What’s successful in your life and relationships? Do you share your life with someone?
  10. What’s not working that you want to change?
  11. What is your deepest passion?
  12. What’s the biggest obstacle you face in fulfilling it?
  13. What are your three secret wishes now?
  14. What else would you like me to ask you?

KEEP EYE CONTACT. BE AVAILABLE. ASK FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS

My Books

You can check out my books Chicane and the first two books in my Musicology book series Musicology: Volume One, Baby! and Musicology: Volume Two, Kid!on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback editions. You can also check out Musicology’s web site at www.musicologyrocks.com and vote for who you think will will Musicology!!!

STREAM OF THE WEEK: CON AIR (1997)-Prime Video

All is right in the world again because Amazon Prime is streaming Con Air. Let’s face it. There are just some deep profound feel-good movies that are good for the soul and this is one of them. Nicholas Cage leads an all-star cast as U.S. Ranger Cameron Poe who comes home from the military one dark and stormy night to find three scum bags hitting on his wife Trish (Monica Potter) and does what any average American guy would do: he kills one of them in a street fight. He is sent to the big house for involuntary manslaughter and after putting in seven years hard time is paroled and has the worst luck of catching a plane ride back home with some real sons of guns. The leader Cyrus “The Virus” Grissom (played with gleeful menace by John Malkovich) and his buddies Nathan “Diamond Dog” Jones (Ving Rames), rapist extraordinaire Diamond-23 (Danny Trejo) and “Pinball” Parker (Dave Chappelle) highjack the plane with the help of Swamp Thing (M.C. Gainey) who, shock of shocks, can fly aircraft and apparently drive fire engines as well. Along the way they pick up the ever-cheery Garland Green (Steve Buscemi) better known as “The Marietta Mangler” who apparently likes to wear women’s heads as hats. Green is not involved with the gang but that doesn’t stop him from having tea with a little girl. Poe must use his skills and wisdom and the help of the young whip smart Agent Vince Larkin (John Cusack)  to throw a wrench into these creeps scheme if he is to make it home in time to deliver a stuffed bunny to his little girl on her birthday.

SMART MOVIES FOR SMART KIDS: THE POINT (1971)-Amazon Prime

An older animated film but a smart one for kids ages 3-100. Musician Harry Nielson penned the story (and screenplay with Carol Beers), wrote the score and sang all the songs for this wonderful classic narrated by Ringo Star. A little boy named Oblio is born into a kingdom called Pointed Village where everyone and everything must have a point…pointed head that is. But Oblio’s head is round and when he beats the Count’s son at a game of Triangle Toss where children (and dogs) catch triangles on their pointed heads the Count talks the king into seeing Oblio’s nonconformity as illegal. Oblio and his trusty dog Arrow are banished from Pointed Village to wander through the Pointless Forest. Mike Lookinland who plays Bobby on The Brady Bunch voices Oblio.   

Writing Groups

Good afternoon. It is I Gigi the parti poodle once again. I am delighted to say I had the opportunity this week to study poodles like myself climbing chain link fences. It’s a most auspicious experience. The poodle in these videos is often depicted with other dogs in a pen of some sort. But only the brave ingenious poodle attempts to escape…unless of course you happen to be a greyhound and can leap over the fence all together. But I had to marvel at the ingenuity of the fellow members of my breed. It is a sport I plan on taking up soon. It will be great fun making my novelist chase me. I adore watching her panic. Without further ado, here is my novelist.   

Writer’s groups are awful. I’ve been in a few and I never liked them. Maybe it’s because I’m a thinking writer and not a feeling one or rather an Analyst as opposed to a Diplomat. Those who are extroverted writers like ENFJ and ENFP types tend to write screenplays. Those who are introverted like INFJ and INFP types tend to write novels and poetry. I am none of these types and yet here I am writing novels and have written screenplays as well.

That said intuitive thinking Analysts are wired to want to write a book. Observe this article. The desire to write a book is equally strong between intuitive feelers and intuitive thinkers and higher than both sensory judgement personality types (Sentinels) and sensory perceptives (Explorers) by 24%. The combined number of intuitive feelers and intuitive thinkers in the world at large is only 20% with an even distribution of each group taking up 10% of the world’s population. The likely reasoning for an intuitive writer to pen a book is to get ideas and points across as opposed to romanticizing writing. Novelists who are Intuitive Thinkers include Ayn Rand, Jane Austin, C.S. Lewis, Sylvia Plath, Emily Bronte, Lewis Carroll, Isaac Asimov, Franz Kafka, Harper Lee, Robert A. Heinlein, John le Carre, Dorothy L. Sayers and Screenwriters like James Camron, Stanley Kubrick, Dan Aykroyd, Tina Fey, David Cronenberg, Christopher Nolan, Federico Fellini, Larry David, Diablo Cody, Terry Gilliam and Steve Martin.   

So, by that rational, intuitive thinkers can and do write fiction. When we go to write a story, we usually have a plan or a theory or even a theorem we want to put into action. We are not there to figure out how we fit into the world or necessarily express ourselves. We are there to test our experiment and see if it works.

The challenging part of working in a writing group is a feeling writer is going to approach a story differently than a thinking writer. Feeling writers want to transform people. Thinking writers want to transform the world. As Sherlock, a thinking character says, “Will caring about them help save them?” to which Watson replies “Nope.” to which Sherlock says, “Then I’ll continue not to make that mistake.” I find the groups that are easiest to be part of are those who do not judge each other’s work. These are often timed writing groups where everyone writes together for a set amount of time be it thirty minutes or forty-five minutes or however long the group chooses. What these types of groups help you do as a writer is continually create. Or at least they should. If you are in a writing group and you must create for a half an hour or better, it allows you to do one of two things: continue moving forwards in the story you are writing or focus on creating a different story you have in your pipeline. For instance, if I am spending most of my writing time rewriting a story, I may choose the time in the group to play with a different way to write a scene. Or if I am just putting a final polish on a story I might use the time in the group to start writing scenes for the next story I intend to write and not focus on the story I am presently dedicating most of my writing time on.

I should probably mention at this point that writing groups can be done with Zoom or Hangouts Meet, or Microsoft Teams or Zoho Meeting and a few others. Now is probably not a great time for writers to be meeting in person.

But even with doing timed writings I find working in these groups challenging. Probably because I am an introvert and I find the most difficult part is the social interaction. If you have never been in a timed writing group usually everyone reads aloud what they wrote at the end of the thirty or forty-five minutes. That is not so bad though I must admit I read the work I’ve done better to individuals outside the group. But usually people want to talk to each other afterwards or before the actual work times and that’s the part I do not care for. It is inevitable but horrific. I think it is the NFs and the extroverted NTs who like this part. I would rather just get back to my writing.

My Books

You can check out my books Chicane and the first two books in my Musicology book series Musicology: Volume One, Baby! and Musicology: Volume Two, Kid! on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback editions. You can also check out Musicology’s web site at www.musicologyrocks.com and vote for who you think will will Musicology!!

STREAM OF THE WEEK: RUSHMORE (1998)-Prime

One of favorite Anderson Movies is easily Rushmore and it is now streaming on Amazon Prime. It’s the story of a brilliant but overly ambitious youth named Max Fischer (brilliantly played by Jason Schwartzman). Max has either started or is involved in every extracurricular activity at Rushmore, a private academy for boys. Max’s mother died and his father is a barber. This is, of course, his downfall. A new young teacher named Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams) starts teaching the younger students there and Max falls for her because he misses his mom. He enlists one of his new friends, a wealthy businessman named Herbert Blume (Bill Murray) to help build an aquarium for her, but Herbert unexpectedly takes a liking to Rosemary as well. A must-see movie.

SMART MOVIES FOR SMART KIDS: CLIFFORD’S REALLY BIG MOVIE (2004)-Prime

This is a cute movie for younger kids that is pleasant to watch. Clifford the Big Red Dog (John Ritter) realizes he costs too much for Emily Elizabeth (Grey Griffin) and decides to run away. He is followed by his pals Cleo (Cree Summer) and T-Bone (Kel Mitchell). On his journey he catches the eye of Larry (Judge Reinhold) a likeable fellow who runs a small traveling circus made up of stray animals. Larry is more than delighted to bring Clifford, Cleo and T-Bone on board. Larry’s circus becomes a great success until a spoiled little girl named Maddison plots to take Clifford and keep him for herself.

SCREENWRITINGU FREE CLASS FRIDAY: IS YOUR SCREENPLAY MISSING THIS?

You can sign up for the class here. Classes are at Noon on Fridays PST.

PSYCHO

Good afternoon. If you do not know me, I am Gigi the parti poodle and I am the owner of a novelist. Specifically, the one who writes this blog. I had a splendid Halloween barking at children who took the treat bags my novelist put together and set outside the door so children could pick up Halloween goodies and social distance. That was great fun. I also lay on the couch near my novelist and watched Psycho. Unfortunately, the Maltese took part as well. It is an astounding film even to this day. I do not believe I should go into the motel business. However, at times I look at the Maltese and think I would not mind giving him a bit of a scare during his bath. Without further ado, here is my novelist.

I had the great pleasure of re-watching Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece Psycho this Halloween. What is so remarkable about the film isn’t just the masterful direction, the brilliant score, the spectacular set design, the extraordinary script (based on Robert Bloch’s novel) or the astonishing cinematography all of which were passed over for Oscars (it was nominated in four categories: Best Supporting Actress for Janet Leigh, Best Director for Alfred Hitchcock, Best Cinematography for John L. Russell and Best Art Direction for Robert Clatworthy, George Milo and Joseph Hurley). What stands out for me about this film is the accuracy with which both Norman Bates and Marion Crane’s psychology are executed.

Now this is not just based on the acting, although the acting here is iconic. It’s the details and every facet of their existence in the film. Marion is shown as competent, intelligent, attractive and normal. Familiar even. The name in Hebrew means “bitter” and the name in French means “little beloved”. In contrast is Marion’s sister Lila. Her name means “night”. In the first scene in the hotel room we see Marion wearing a white brassiere and slip as she rolls around in bed and converses with her boyfriend Sam Loomis. Sam must give most of his money away in alimony which keeps he and Marion from getting married and their affair secret. Marion is also in her early thirties which in 1960 would add to the desperation. She is not yet married. In her mind Sam is her last chance.

The fairy godmother character comes in the strange form of her boss’s client, an unlikable misogynist named Tom Cassidy. He has $40,000 he wants her boss to put into the bank for his eighteen-year-old daughter who is about to get married which Marion offers to do. Remember, Marion is in her early thirties and this guy’s daughter is eighteen. I can’t imagine that didn’t sting just as much as Cassidy’s unwanted flirting. Also note in this same scene Marion is dressed in white just like she was in the hotel room.

Under normal circumstances Marion would have taken the money to the bank. Someone with her personality would do so. But desperation forces her to make an uncharacteristic choice. Instead she feigns a headache, takes the money and drives home to pack her bags and head for Sam in California. Note that while she packs her bags, she is no longer wearing a white brassiere and slip. She has instead changed into a black brassiere and slip. This is symbolic of a couple of things. One is Marion’s shift from a logistical person to someone trying to be tactical. Secondly her contrast with her sister whom we have not yet met but has been mentioned in her conversation in the hotel room with Sam. Innocence and impurity. And finally, life and death. Looming in the background of course is a shower.

Marion’s conscience haunts her on her route to Sam. She becomes tired and pulls off the road where a policeman finds her. She talks to him and manages to drive away but is concerned she may get caught. She finds a used car dealership and looks for a new car in exchange for hers. But the policeman is not far behind. He parks across the street, leans against the car and watches her. Marion becomes more desperate. She offers the salesman more than the car she wants to trade hers for is worth. She excuses herself and goes to the bathroom to retrieve the proper amount of money to secure the car and get out.

As she drives her paranoia helps her brain to concoct conversations, ones she imagines the policeman and the car salesman are having about her. Marion has committed a crime and now she is beginning to project her thoughts onto other people. Sound familiar? Marion and Norman are mirror characters. They may be on opposite sides of sanity, but they parallel each other.

The character Norman is based on real life serial killer Ed Gein, who was a profoundly disturbed and heinous man who liked to perform his own version of taxidermy. In order to make this a tolerable observation of Ed’s habbits, Marion’s last name is Crane and Norman happens to have a collection of stuffed birds. Norman’s traits are, for a film made in 1960, remarkably accurate for a psychopath. His stutter for one. Psychopaths tend to double words in their speech. This is a relatively new discovery and yet, here is a film made fifty plus years before that research depicting this trait. Also, Norman is constantly eating and offering food. Psychopaths have essentially three things they focus on: sex, money and food also a relatively new discovery. And here the movie depicts Norman’s fixation on food. And we know he fixates on sex made obvious by varying observations especially the peephole from his office to Marion’s room where we see Marion take off her clothes and once again we see her in a black brassier and slip indicating not that Norman looks at her with love but rather with lust.

Norman is also twitchy and jittery. Psychopaths are often misdiagnosed with ADD at an early age. One great scene depicting Norman’s twitchiness is when he and Sam have a conversation at the motel. Hitchcock made certain to put Norman’s tapping forefinger in the forefront of the shot.

My Books

You can check out my books Chicane and the first two books in my Musicology book series Musicology: Volume One, Baby! andMusicology: Volume Two, Kid!on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback editions. You can also check out Musicology’s web site at www.musicologyrocks.com and vote for who you think will will Musicology!!!

STREAM OF THE WEEK: MARNIE (1964)-Peacock

In a salute to Sean Connery I thought I would offer up one of my favorite films of his. Wonderfully it is also directed by Alfred Hitchcock and stars Tippi Hedren. If you watch the trailer to this film, you will hear Hitchcock say, “Marnie is a very difficult picture to classify.” It is indeed. Marnie is a young woman who appears harmless. But she is anything but. In fact, she has a passion for embezzlement and lying. But unlike Marion in Psycho Marnie does not appear to have guilt about her crimes. When she steals from the wrong firm a complex and sinister young partner named Mark figures out what she has done and hunts her down. Because that is what Mark does, he hunts. If Marnie tries to leave him, she’ll go to prison. If she stays, she remains his prey. Marnie is based on the book by Winston Graham.

SMART MOVIES FOR SMART KIDS: The Adams Family (1991)-Netflix

Although Halloween is over, I still think this is a fun film for kids. Steeping in droll humor, The Adams Family is about the famous eccentric family sans Uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd) who appears to have gone missing for twenty or so years. Realizing this a con artist (Dan Hedaya) joins forces with a woman named Abigale Craven (Elizabeth Wilson) to have her strange adult son (also Christopher Lloyd) pretend to be Uncle Fester in order to cheat the Adams Family out of a large sum of money. But they underestimate the charm and wit of Gomez (Raul Julia), his wife Morticia (Angelica Houston) and their two lovely children Pugsley (Jimmy Workman) and Wednesday (Christina Ricci) all of whom make “Uncle Fester” feel right at home.

SCREENWRITINGU FREE CLASS FRIDAY: GREAT CHARACTER; GREAT SCENE

You can sign up for the class here. The class is at 12:00 Noon PST this Friday 11/6.

ANATOMY OF A SCENE: MEET MAX BUCKNER PART 2

Hello. I am Tucker and I am a Maltese. I am filling in for Gigi the parti poodle today because she had to have a bath and she does not like baths. They make her moody which scares me. I do not like baths either. I had to have one too and it scared me. Our internet went out today and our novelist was not sure she would be able to post. I do not like it when the internet goes out. That scares me too. Halloween is this weekend and little humans in scary clothes come to the door and make me bark. They scare me but it is fun to bark at them. My novelist gives them treats. I do not get Halloween treats. I wish I got Halloween treats. I guess a lot of things make me scared. Nothing scares me more than Gigi though. Poodles are scary. Happy Halloween. Here is my novelist.   

Today I am continuing my anatomy of a scene with the first chapter of my novel Musicology: Volume One, Baby! This second part of the scene which takes place at the bar of the Viceroy Hotel in Burbank, California introduces Ruby Diamonds. Ruby in my mind is a rock and roll diva much like Ann Wilson, Stevie Nicks, Pat Benatar, Debbie Harry, Lita Ford, you get the picture. She is the quintessential aging California beauty with her blonde hair and tan skin. Men want her and women want to be her. She has what we’ll call a checkered past and was known for doing outrageous things onstage and off which get mentioned here and there throughout the book series. And she is Max’s Achilles heel. Max believes that when Ruby left his label Master Lab Records for Merciless Pig Records, she ruined his life. But he is still madly in love with her. I like to think he is on board with becoming a mentor for Devon’s show the moment he sees Ruby enter the bar. He would never admit this of course but he is.

Ruby has given up her vices and come to embrace a healthy west coast lifestyle. She claims to no longer drink and instead imbibes on many styles of green tea. At the bar however she orders a non-alcoholic cranberry juice and soda. This was something coworkers I used to know ordered and I myself have been known to drink one on occasion. Ruby has a maternal quality to her and is the matriarch of the story. She is the only one who can get Max under control when he loses his temper or goes off on one of his tirades. Ruby is used to his redundant outbursts and manages them expertly.

The reason the novel is called Musicology: Volume One, Baby! is because Devon always calls everyone baby. The second novel Musicology: Volume Two, Kid! is in reference to Max who calls everyone kid including Ruby the first time he says hello to her. Instead of saying, “Hi, Ruby” he instead says “Hi, kid”. This is also a hint that despite his attraction to Ruby she is younger than he is, and he sees her as a child he took under his wing, a daughter of sorts.

Devon tells Max and Ruby they are going to embark on a road trip. This of course gives Max and Ruby a way to become reacquainted and provides the reader some insight into their relationship. Devon also introduces the shows new judges: rock star Robbie Sexton, Bonnie Lake another rock diva and Dick Dandy a comedian. Both Max and Ruby are befuddled as to why Devon hired a comedian to be a judge for a singing competition. But Devon essentially explains he’s an assclown and assclowns get ratings.

Ruby doesn’t need the Musicology gig. She is a multiplatinum selling-millionaire with world-wide fame. Max, on the other hand, has not fared as well. He has made a lot of money, but his record label has slowly tanked. And now it’s in chapter eleven bankruptcy. Ruby does not know this until this scene plays out. And when she does get the information, she shows compassion for Max and agrees to go on the tour. That said even before she walks into the bar Ruby knows she is going to take the gig because she has an agenda. Her reason for taking the gig, which are not shown in the scene, are based on her compassion for Max just like her concerns about his financial difficulties.

My Books

You can check out my books Chicane and the first two books in my Musicology book series Musicology: Volume One, Baby! andMusicology: Volume Two, Kid!on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback editions. You can also check out Musicology’s web site at www.musicologyrocks.com and vote for who you think will will Musicology!!!

STREAM OF THE WEEK: IT FOLLOWS (2014)-Peacock

I am not usually a fan of horror movies as a rule. But this little indi film is fantastic. A young college woman goes out on a date and engages in a sexual encounter. She wakes up to find her wrists tied to a chair and her date telling her he has passed on a very unusual STD. Something terrible will now start following her. And if she doesn’t have sex with someone else and pass it on, it will follow her till it catches her and it will kill her. The terrible thing can take any human form. It is slow moving but relentless, and it never ever stops following. A chilling and engaging Halloween treat.

SMART MOVIES FOR SMART KIDS: MONSTER HOUSE (2006)-Peacock

An unusual and interesting tale. A thirteen-year-old named DJ has been watching his neighbor’s house from across the street and discovers things are not quite right. The house is owned by a crotchety old man named Nebbercracker (Steve Buscemi) who, if you dare to traverse his lawn, will take your toys away and you will never see them again. But that’s just the beginning. When DJ’s parents take a trip on Halloween eve and leave DJ with a babysitter named Zee (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and her boyfriend Bones (Jason Lee) he has to enlist the help of his friend Chowder and a plucky prep school student named Jenny to find out what Nebbercracker is really hiding.

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ANATOMY OF A SCENE: MEET MAX BUCKNER

Good afternoon, Gigi the parti poodle here once again to introduce my novelist. This has been a more subdued week. My novelist has released her book and things have settled down to a languid pace as she prepares to release the third installment of Musicology in early winter of 2021. I am not fond of the dark mornings that come with the midrange of fall. I miss waking up in daylight. My novelist, like most novelists is insane and rises in the caliginous early hours. I myself cannot face the day until I have seen the sun rise and had my first cup of water with dental liquid. I am looking forward to Halloween which is fast approaching and barking incessantly at the strange children who take treats out of the bowl situated in front of the door. But enough of that rubbish. Here is my novelist.   

This week I thought I would start an anatomy of a scene with the first chapter of the first novel in my book series Musicology: Volume One, Baby! called Meet Max Buckner. When I originally wrote the story there was not a call girl in the room with Maximillian Buckner. The scene simply ran as it was three in the morning and Max got a call or rather three calls from his old buddy Devon Daniels. However, it was brought to my attention it would be cliché to have the story start with Max waking up in bed. So, I decided a good solution would be to have someone in there with him in order to make him active and not sleeping. This way he wasn’t being woken up at all but rather interrupted. The bottom line was there had to be a bed in the first scene because the bed is going to come back to be important later in the book series. And so, I added the call girl.

The reason I named my protagonist Maximillian Buckner seems obvious. He is a man who is about money. He’s the producer, the guy on the business end of music. He’s also the father figure in the story.  I thought it would be amusing if I let the reader in on Max’s physical description and his personality by the way he answers Devon’s call. First, he ignores it. Then he picks up the phone and throws it across the room. Then he screams profanity and takes his sweet time retrieving his device. As he proceeds to take Devon’s call, we find out he’s a smoker, and he likes expensive Russian cigarettes. He has garish but champagne taste with his gold Zippo, crystal Cartier ashtray, leopard print flip-flops and silk leopard print robe. We also get a small hint of his rock and roll lifestyle with his shaggy mane of hair. When I described his hair, my thought was it looked like Bender’s haircut from The Breakfast Club. I would not be surprised if Max has lit a few matches with his teeth.

When Max answers the phone the reader finds out early in the story this is not an average day for Max. His divorce from his second wife finalized the day before. This indicates Max is at the end of one journey and about to embark on another, especially when Devon tells Max he has a proposition for him. And so, Max’s call to adventure begins on page one.

The fact that Devon continues to call Max shows something about Devon’s character. He is not one to give up. The boat could be sinking, the meteors could be falling but Devon persists. He would have dialed Max’s number over and over till he got a reply. And he’s resilient. Max is gruff but Devon couldn’t care less. He just goes about his chitchat buttering up Max. He has a proposition and he’s out to get an answer. Devon is slick, sleazy, has impeccable taste and likes to spend money. He wears expensive designer ties and at the bar where we cut to next, he orders a trendy drink. Max on the other hand sticks to his guns. Though he too has taste he is more traditional than Devon and always orders Jameson Whiskey.  

It was important to me to pick a song Max would play in his car on the way over to the Viceroy to set the stage. It had to be about a subject that fit the story. I played around with a few ideas and settled on “Gold” by John Stewart. It has a wonderful haunting quality so if this were a movie or you went and played the song after you saw it in the book it would evoke a certain mood that was not necessarily comic but not necessarily dark. But would hint to the reader that this book series walks a tightrope between humor and drama. It is said of “Gold” by John Steward that “the song takes a light-hearted but cynical view of the recording industry in Los Angeles”. And for me that could not have been more perfect for this story.

Next week I will continue with my anatomy of Meet Max Buckner.

My Books

You can check out my books Chicane and the first two books in my Musicology book series Musicology: Volume One, Baby! andMusicology: Volume Two, Kid!on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback editions. You can also check out Musicology’s web site at www.musicologyrocks.com and vote for who you think will will Musicology!!!

STREAM OF THE WEEK: THE BIRDS (1963)-Peacock

I was once asked to name some terrifying movies that rely on little if no gore. One of the first films to come to mind was Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. One of the most interesting notes about the movie is there is no musical score. Only electronic bird sounds for which Bernard Herrmann was the sound consultant. Bernard Herrmann did many of the scores for Hitchcock’s films. One of the things I like about this story is it is something that might happen. In fact, bird attacks are apparently getting more common according to experts. If you were to take a screenplay class for instance, you would probably be told that a horror movie should be about a subject that would most likely never occur. But Hitchcock has made a couple of truly terrifying films where the situation was possible. For instance, there really was an Ed Gein for whom the character who bares the title’s moniker Psycho is based on. I highly recommend The Birds which holds up fantastically over time. It is based on the book by Daphne du Maurier who also penned Rebecca, another one of Hitchcock’s greats which won the Oscar for Best Film.

SMART MOVIES FOR SMART KIDS: SPACEBALLS-Netflix

Okay, this one is for older kids as it is a little raunchy. But if you have a tweener or young teenager who has never seen it, I do recommend giving it a try. An obvious spoof on Star Wars this film had me laughing throughout. Mel Brooks wrote, directed and stars in this classic comedy taking on the Yoda role while  accompanied by John Candy who plays the Chewbacca role, Rick Moranis who plays the Darth Vader role, Bill Pullman who plays the Han Solo/Luke Skywalker role, Daphne Zuniga who plays the Princess Lea role, and the voice of Joan Rivers and the physical mime talents of Lorene Yarnell as the droid. Dick Van Patten also comes along for the ride as the King and father of the princess. Funny, goofy, satirical and whip smart this is an incredibly fun ride.  

MUSICOLOGY: VOLUME ONE, BABY! IS FREE ON AMAZON!!! AND MUSICOLOGY: VOLUME TWO, KID! IS NOW AVAILABLE!!!

Good Afternoon. Gigi the parti poodle here and thank you, I am feeling much better this week. My daily meals have been upgraded to canned food. I adore it…even if I must share it with the Maltese. It is the same gourmet brand but softer. And I deserve it…the food that is, not the Maltese. I am most proud of my novelist this week. She has released the second novel in her series. The book is called Musicology: Volume Two, Kid! I could not be prouder. I assisted her in designing the advertisements. What would she do without me? I am also delighted her films this week center around one of my favorite directors, Alfred Hitchcock. I adore the macabre. And it is a fitting season for it. Without further ado here is my novelist.

Musicology Volume Two, Baby is now available on Amazon as a Kindle book and a paperback! This is the second installment in the Musicology comedy/satire book series.

As a celebration of releasing this book I am offering the first book in the Musicology series Musicology: Volume One, Baby! FREE now thru Sunday, October 18th!!!

I will keep you posted on the release of the third book in the series coming soon. And I will be offering another book deal upon its release. Please enjoy and HAPPY ROCKTOBER!!!!!

My Books

You can check out my books Chicane and the first two books in my Musicology book series Musicology: Volume One, Baby! and Musicology: Volume Two, Kid! on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback editions. You can also check out Musicology’s web site at www.musicologyrocks.com and vote for who you think will will Musicology!!!

STREAM OF THE WEEK: SHADOW OF A DOUBT (1943)-Peacock

Since it’s Rocktober I thought it would be fun to spend the month choosing lesser known Hitchcock films for my stream of the week picks. Peacock offers some wonderful ones to view. The first movie I have decided to feature is Shadow of a Doubt. Shot in glorious black and white it is a marvelously malevolent film about a young woman named Charlie and the uncle she is named after. Uncle Charlie (coolly played by the fantastic Joseph Cotton) is in some hot water and has decided to go visit his older sister’s family who welcome him with open arms. And no one adores Uncle Charlie more than his niece Charlie (Teresa Wright). Uncle Charlie loves to shower his family with lavish expensive gifts, especially the emerald ring he gives his niece (the importance of the ring harkens back to the series I did on the importance of props in writing and the prop exercise). But upon the visit of men looking to interview the family Charlie begins to doubt the true nature of her uncle as things become more and more harrowing. Look for Henry Travers (Charlie the Angel from It’s A Wonderful Life) and Hume Cronyn who have some delightful scenes together.

SMART MOVIES FOR SMART KIDS: DISTURBIA-TNT

This one is for the older kids. A clever young adult film loosely based on Hitchcock’s Rear Window, it’s the story of a teenager named Kale (Shia LeBeouf) who through a series of unfortunate events has found himself under house arrest. But all is not bad. A new family has moved in next door who happens to have a teenage daughter named Ashley (Sarah Roemer). With the help of his buddy Ronnie (Aaron Yoo) Kale sets out to meet the girl. But on the way he starts to notice something amiss going on at the house of his other new neighbor, Mr. Turner.

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