Thursday, March 20, 2014

I'm a Twit, and Other Revelations

So, first thing: I’ve joined that adult ball pit of ampersands, hashtags, and bad abbreviations: Twitter. Can U blieve it? @SieJames

Twitter has all the self-absorption and addictive monitoring of Facebook, but with fewer words. Smaller chunks of creamy indulgence, kind of like bite-sized Three Musketeer Bars. Love me. Love me! LOVE ME! my @ pleads, scanning the twitterverse for Followers. I’ll like you if you like me! I’ve made a platform! Come sit on it! Listen to my words! LISTEN TO MY WORDS!
This is the book you're
gonna have to go g


In more productive news, I’ve decided to tackle my need for a writing deadline head-on by imposing one on myself. I’m going to follow the directives of a book: The 90-Day Novel: Unlock the Story Within. It’s written by Alan Watts, bestselling author of Diamond Dogs. It’s all the rage out here in Hollywood, with friends of mine involved in 90-day screenplays, 90-day stage plays, and, for all I know, 90-day haikus. In his book, Watts wants you to write fast, without any left-brain criticism or revision, just to get the story down on the page. He’s got the whole three months mapped out, and by the end of it, you’re supposed to have a first draft. What could possibly go wrong?

My first step is to commit to the program by telling everyone here that I’m doing it. No backing out; or else what will my tens of readers think of me? The second step is to invite YOU to share in the pain fun. I’m sure that there are some budding authors among you who have been wanting to get a novel out of their head and onto the page. Let me be your kick in the butt! Join me! I’ll check in with you and offer inspiration and/or threats. C’mon! I want to start April 1st, so you have plenty of time to get the book and be ready to go. This is your chance— you could have a first draft by summer!

I’ve already got one cohort, my friend Holly Myer, with whom I worked on Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness. She was the casting assistant at Nickelodeon, and is now a casting coordinator at Dreamworks. I discovered that she also writes when I came across her blog, Unemployed on Purpose, which she is now wanting to turn into a book, complete with her own drawings. Holly is kicky and fun. She is also, I should mention, twenty-six, which means she will not get any of my “McMillan & Wife” references. That may be a problem. It also means she’s up on all that social media jumble that pains me so. I bet she LIKES to tweet. We’ll be live-tweeting the whole 90 days! (is that a thing?)

Here’s how I sealed the deal with Holly (on Facebook, of course):

Holly Myer:  So maybe April 1? or before? your call!

James Sie: Hmm... April 1 has a nice ring to it, but maybe that's just me wanting to procrastinate.

Holly:  No, it sounds good! There's an "I'm not foolin' ya" joke in there somewhere

James:  And while it'll probably just be you and me, we'll give it a shot. Forward!!

Holly:  GO US!

James:  Oh, this'll be good. I can already see I'm going to be the crusty curmudgeonly one.
Not sure yet of the format of the reportage... I guess it depends on how pithy we are.

Holly: Gotcha. Well, I'm up for whatever format allows me to properly express unapologetic optimism

JamesOy. All right, grandpa needs his shut-eye. 

Holly:  Thanks! And FB is good! I'm also on Twitter & Instagram @hollymyer
if you want to follow me for on-the-hour Zac Efron updates

James Sie:  (Long sigh)...             yes.

You can tell Holly is young by her lack of punctuation at the end of her instant messages. Call me old-fashioned, I like a good period.

Join us! We can shake our collective heads at Holly’s unbridled positivity. And then she can teach us how to set our VCR’s DVR’s. Take a look at Holly's take on our little challenge here. And let me know if you want in on the challenge by posting in the comments section below, or private message me on Facebook. Or... (long sigh)     you can tweet me. 

update: Holly informs me that, yes, you can live-tweet anything. She once live-tweeted a mixed tape. Clever girl.  

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Black Magic of Threes

"I have of late--but
wherefore I know not--lost all my mirth, forgone all
custom of exercises; and indeed it goes so heavily
with my disposition that this goodly frame, the
earth, seems to me a sterile promontory, this most
excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave
o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted
with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to
me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors."
—Hamlet, Act II scene 2

This entire week I've been restless and malcontent. Life has felt dull and blunted; the savor has gone from my existence. I have, of late, lost all my mirth. What could be causing me to skulk about like a Melancholy Dane?  Is it the limbo of a book on the verge of being published, but not yet so? The trepidation of the next project, ever-gestating but fearful of the page? The ending of one series (fond farewell, Kung Fu Panda!) without a new one in sight? Or does the fault lie in our stars, a retrograde Mercury or a Moon void of course?

Or, could I be swearing off of computer games yet again?

Ah yes. It's time for another round of Give up Games for Lent. Last time was a few years ago, and since then I've managed to shed myself of flinging birds, vegetable-eating zombies, words with friends (and myself), even crosswords. In fact, with the exception of the Simpsons: Tapped Out, I've managed to steer clear of almost all games.

Until Threes.
Must. Get. To. 384!!! 

This little, simple app is a quick trifle— push 1 & 2's together to make 3's. Push 3's together to make 6's, and so on. Nothing, right? A quick one-off while waiting in the pick-up line in school, or as my Starbucks soy latte is being brewed. That's what I thought. Then, these tiny gaming sessions, these insidious little grains of 1's and 2's, started expanding and filling up my head like so much digital quinoa, spiraling out of control. Soon, there was no time to read, to ponder the universe, to write; only Threes, Threes with its jaunty little soundtrack and ironic soundbites. Threes, the gateway game that led to me twisting texts, spelling towers and uniting runes. Damn you, Threes!

My beloved Springfield... surely all
this tapping is teaching me SOMETHING.
So I've stopped games until the Resurrection.  I haven't gone cold turkey, though; I still get to play Simpsons once a day ( I do have a civic responsibility to my little town, after all) but nothing else. Serving as my Methadone is a great language app— Duolingo—which is teaching me Italian (it's free!) and has a game-like interface. I tried to convince Doug that my mind game— Brain Fit— should also be allowed, but he has vetoed it, coal-hearted blackguard that he is. Maybe, just maybe, if enough of you think brain training apps are good and valid and tell Doug, I'll be allowed to play! Post your comments! Clap your hands! BELIEVE! BELIEVE!

Duolingo, Italian: I've still got three hearts! Buono! 
It's been hard. No little pop of excitement to cap off a chore, no endorphin release to look forward to between dinner and dishes. Just... me. However, this morning may have marked a turning point. I woke up (after having sprung forward an hour, no less) clearer in my head. The sky was roiling with white clouds, the outside was still redolent with jasmine, and there was an almost priapic sense of anticipation in the air. Maybe this respite is doing me good. Maybe I'll get something productive done...

Or maybe I'll just conjugate a few Italian verbs.

Che Buono!