Monday, March 26, 2007

Go Scare Yourself

Horror just gave birth to terror.

Joe Hill's debut novel, Heart-Shaped Box, is so hip and so frightening that you can expect to see some scaredy copy cats next year.

Aging metal rock god, Jude Coyne, is enjoying his semi-retirement on his reclusive farm with his beloved dogs, current groupie girlfriend, Georgia, and a creepy hobby, collecting objects des macabres. In his collection Jude owns a used hangman's noose, a signed confession from a witch, and a cannibal cookbook. Now Jude is about to add a ghost to his collection. The spectre resides in an old-fashioned Sunday suit and he's on a revenge mission.

Hill employs a tone that is gleefully morbid and drives a plot that plunges and flies like a rollercoaster trying to dump all of its shrieking passengers. Sprinkled liberally with snarky humor and ghoulish jokes, teens will get a kick out of this novel that pays homage to Stephen King.

This book was discussed on The Walt Bodine Show 's Book Doctors program March 12, 2007. 2007. KCUR 89.3

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Movie Set: Take 1

Well, THAT was interesting.

My friend Jim asked me to be in a short film he is directing/producing/editing/acting, etc. Apparently the only quality I had to possess was red hair and a colorful bra. Julia Roberts better watch out!

Filming began at 8 am this morning. Which means I got up at 6, showered, made enough coffee to see me through til lunch and hunted around for a book. When I get to the set, I sign a release allowing my image to be used, blahblahblah.

The whole filming process was a combination of fascination, tedium and patience. The other two women on the set know exactly what is supposed to happen. I don't, and this is my first visit to the set, so I receive special explanations. First, I am told that even though I have agreed to film in my colorfuol bra, the creative process is still developing and the director thinks maybe a series of shots of the scene WITHOUT the bra would work in the film. I think, "This is how self-respecting actresses get caught naked. Last minute changes." But I trust this guy and he says there won't be anything risque' and I believe him.

The director then explains how the day's shooting will go and shows us all the set. SS is watching the monitor and contolling the camera. The director and LL will be in the first scene. I am to watch how the scene is set up so I will know what to do for MY scene. After observing the first five minutes I know all I need for my part.

After that, I got two words for filming a movie. Bo. Ring. Well, the process is boring, but I wasn't bored.

I shuffle to the back of the set and munch on some fruit and nuts that were left for the crew (there's only four of us). I read my book. I crunch on an apple. 45 minutes goes by. The director is done with the first scene and now we have to watch what he calls "dailies." This is both dull AND funny. It's dull because we're watching the same scene over and over. It's funny because we all know what was going on while the scene was being shot. LL's stomach was growling. Her hand began to get sore from holding the book. Then the director pops the headphones off and scans the set. "We're going to have to reshoot the first scene. There was too much noise in the background." Apparently, growling stomachs and apple munching sounds carry MUCH better than anyone expected.

The director and the first actor set up the shot again and I return to my chair at the back of the set. I throw away my apple core, pick up my book and only turn pages when I can hear the director giving directions.

I don't really have anyone to talk to. And I don't know anyone besides the director anyway. The other actor is nice, but I don't have anything to say to her after the idle pleasantries. I wonder briefly if this is what it's like for bigname actors. They can't ALL know each other. It must be kinda awkward. I thought so, anyway. If anyone asked me about LL I could tell you how big her boobs are and the rhythm of her heartbeat and how curly her hair is. I'd say she was friendly, but I don't know her well enough to say anything else. And we were almost naked!

Finally we're ready for my scene with LL. She and I take off our shirts and get in position and I let the director arrange my hair. I giggle to myself as I realize that our hair, mine and LL's, are the starring feature in this scene. The director says, "Added bonus! You have a tattoo. Let's get that in the shot."

So. What do you think about while you're filming a scene? Here's what went through my mind: Don't breathe too loudly. I can hear LL's stomach gurgling. I can hear LL's heartbeat. Ba-bump-bump. Ba-bump-bump. Time to move my head to the center. I think I have to pee. My toes are cold. My arms are uncomfortable. My neck is getting a little stiff. Time to move my head to the right. The director rearranges my hair again. I start to drift off. Oh, we're done?

Now we watch dailies again. Boring. I watch for a minute and am utterly unimpressed with my image. So I go to the bathroom and get another handful of nuts. LL and I are walking around the set in our underwear. We know we'll just have to do this again and there's no point in getting dressed and neither of us brought cover ups. But we don't need them. The set is very warm. We do the entire scene again, all the angles. On the very last angle, the moment we're done, the director says, "That's the shot." As LL and I get up from the bed and pull on our tops and I fish around for my glasses, the director cues up these latest takes. At the very last take, he and SS tap the monitor screen and say, "That's the one. Look at the hair and the contrast." The director turns to LL and me, smiles and says, "We're done. Thanks for your patience and cooperation." It's taken two hours to get the necessary ten seconds of film the director needed.

I'm informed that I have two more scenes to do and the director will call when he's ready to schedule them. But in those scenes, I get more costume than just a bra.

I learned quite a bit about the creative process and how it bloody changes from moment to moment. Because most of my responses during the course of the shoot were, "Whatever you want" and "It's okay with me" and "Yeah, I can do that" I've been deemed "flexible" and "easy to work with" and "likely to work again."

Now, THERE'S a talent. Shrugging and saying, "fine" whenever someone asks you something.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Read this

No, not ME!!!

M.Toast! She was in the Kansas City Star this morning for The Hivemind

Go. Shoo. Read in good humor.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

#19 in the Transit Epiphany Series

I'm on the Maxx and bored with reading. So I start watching my fellow passengers. No one is doing ANYTHING interesting.

Then this grizzled old guy limps onto the bus wearing a hunter's cap and using a cane. He's wearing grubby, ripped pants and he won't sit down, choosing to lean against the steel bar up front so he can rasp at the driver. "Whadda ya mean, why do I go there? Why do people rob a bank? 'Cause that's where the money is. That's why I work the Plaza." He shakes his dirty Starbucks cup near the bus driver's ear. "That's where the money is."

I fish in my wallet for some change. I figured that story was worth it.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sage wisdom from a wisegal

My sister cracks me up. Here, calm down already.

Calmness in our lives
I am passing this on to you because it definitely works, and we could all use a little more calmness in our lives. By following simple advice heard on the Dr. Phil show, you too can find inner peace. Dr Phil proclaimed, "The way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you have started and have never finished."

So, I looked around my house to see all the things I started and hadn't finished, and before leaving the house this morning, I finished off a liter of Diet Pepsi, a bottle of Zinfandel, a bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream, a bottle of Vodka, a package of Oreos, the remainder of my old Prozac
prescription, the rest of the cheesecake, some Doritos and a box of chocolates.

You have no idea how freaking good I feel! Please pass this on to those whom you think might be in need of inner peace.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Librarian takes to airwaves

No, not ME! Mr.Nice Guy!


You'll laugh. This is a great podcast with some sparkling humor and witty commentary on some of the stupider stuff in our society today. Mr. Nice Guy is smart and fun.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Radio Daze

I totally sukked. And if you want to hear it for yourself here's the link to the Walt Bodine Show's Book Doctor's segment.

I'll be back sharing bits of popular reading wisdom on May 17. That's me, defender of the lowest common reading denominator everywhere. Don't step on the cape made of NYTBR reviews.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Heartland on the Homefront

Sandra Dallas is one of the best kept literary secrets in the Midwest. Her books cleverly disguise themselves as historical women's fiction but then pack a wallop at the end to jolt even the most jaded reader.

Dallas' strengths are her realistic and likeable characters, their unique observations about their sometimes ordinary and sometimes extreme situations, and her deft mixture of easy pacing with page-turning pockets of action.

One of my favorite books of all time is The Persian Pickle Club. It's a Midwest historical mystery and I defy anyone to know "whodunit" before the last page of the book (TomA says he figured it out and his theory works for me. But he's a literary genius, so he doesn't get to play in the same sandbox as all us lesser reader-mortals.:))

Dallas' latest novel, Tallgrass, is set in a time period she has not yet explored, but in a place she knows and loves well, wartime Eastern Colorado. Rennie Stroud is the youngest child in her family, living happily on her parents' sugar beet farm during World War II. Her brother has enlisted in the service; her sister has moved to Denver, and an internment camp for Japanese-American citizens has been constructed next to her father's farm. The townspeople are suspicious, frightened and prejudiced, but Rennie's father exhibits tolerance and wisdom beyond his years and the time period. Everyone is living warily, yet peacefully, until the violent murder of a young girl on another farm bordering the camp.

Fans of Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson will find something to enjoy in this novel.

This book was discussed on The Walt Bodine Show 's Book Doctors program May 17, 2007. KCUR 89.3