The Bag Means Your Mind

A delightful mix of insightful comments and ignorant assumptions about screenwriting... and such.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Report from the Road: Paris Edition

This will be my one and only mega Paris post. Forgive the lack of accents and other squigglies, as I don't have the time for such foolery.

The shock of being in a strange land hit us almost immediately. I felt isolated, almost unable to talk to anyone out of fear of exposing who I was (as if my suitcase and the "I just crapped my pants" look I had in my eyes wasn't a dead give away).

Armed with a train map, we attempted to navigate Paris' mass transit system. In a word, unnerving. First we had to buy a train ticket. We heard that most Parisians know English, but that doesn't mean all, so dealing with anyone was a touch and go situation in my mind.

So we approach the ticket window and Jessica starts to apply the French that she learned to find out that real world(tm) application is difficult. She handled herself well, much better than I. The woman at the ticket office was very helpful, and soon we had our tickets in hand and headed for the platform. Now just because you know in your head how the trains are supposed to work doesn't mean you don't have the fear of the almighty Burger King in you that you are going to board a train whose one and only stop is somewhere in Bangladesh.

So we board the train and hope we are going the right direction. And after a stop we find out we are on the right track (so to speak). We traverse Paris' sprawling outskirts which really aren't that different than New York City's urban sprawl. Just a lot older and slightly nicer. It felt like we were in the thick of things.

We had to change trains twice to get to our destination. And aside from some initial indecision and mortal fear, we found our way just fine.

The real fun began when we left the bowels of the metro station. Paris may be beautiful and all that, but could they give a brother some reliably placed and easy to read street signs? We wandered and ambled, but the streets were confusing at best and it took us over a half hour to find our hotel which was less than a two minute walk from the metro station.

The hotel is very nice. the rooms are small but cozy. The beds are a different story. They seem to be designed for a 4'9" Parisian with severe back pain. I can feel each individual unyielding spring within and my feet hang over the end. Picture Herman Munster trying to sleep on an ottoman. The walls are also thin. Strike that. they seem to actually amplify the sound around us. Last night I heard some guy's whispered prayers.

After we settled in and took a nap it was off to the Champs Elysees. It is a beautiful stretch of road lined with lit trees and bustling with people. We ended up dining in an Italian eatery (so sue us). I was hesitant, but let me tell you that I had the best meat-filled ravioli in my life. I tender (and quickly reject) the idea that I have it every day for every meal. It was that good.


After three days I return to this post with a thousand yard stare, clutching a single bloody beret and a jagged piece of a crème brulee dish. I type this frenetically as the "na na na na" siren of a police car draws near. It's been an adventurous vacation to say the least. OK, that is a bold-faced lie. Our mission behind Parisian lines has yielded little more than grey skies and a parade of restaurants and Museums. Not that that's a bad thing.

The food in Paris is excellent. It is also very pricey. I honestly don't know how the locals afford it. For any non-fast food eatery, expect to drop between 30 and 50 euros (lets call that $40 to $60 for the yanks out there) for ANY meal. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, it doesn't seem to matter. Our latest meal, which consisted of two sandwiches, two glasses of wine (a Coke is about as expensive as a glass of wine BTW), crème brulee, and chocolate crepes came to about 40 euros.

Jessica learned very quickly that coffee in Paris isn't the guzzling variety. An cup of espresso, 4 euros, comes in a non-refillable, thimble-sized cup. A more familiar cafe creme (equal parts espresso and crème) is 6 euros, that's a 7 dollar cup of friggin' coffee! Sip it like your tasting every single molecule.

Bottom line is that if you want to eat real food (and why wouldn't you), plan on a 100 euros a day food budget per couple. Just eat and pay no attention to the banker in the corner.

After a couple fifty dollar gut-punch lunches, the siren's song of fast-food will entice you with a promise of food for two for under 20 euros. I had a meal or two of fast-food to somehow plug the hole in my pockets. One night we had a late night meal at Quick (French fast-food that is a notch below Mc Donalds). Tonight I grabbed a Royal Cheese (Quarter Pounder for those of you who didn't see Pulp Fiction) from Mickey Dees. Unhealthy, but admittedly tasty and familiar.

Enough about food. Let's talk museums! Yeah! Snore. I mean parts of them are interesting, but I'm not the type of person to lose myself in painting. But I do have a new found respect for artists back then. They had a cool scam going. "Hey baby, you are so beautiful I want to sculpt you in the nude. And so long as you're naked..."

While museums aren't the hippest show in town, Versailles was the shiznit. The opulence, the decadence, the indulgence. Mind-boggling. I now know exactly why it's good to be the king. The guy build a house on his property just for his mistress. Talk about a booty call. While the inside of the chateau was stunning, the gardens were unimpressive. A gloomy sky loomed over silent fountains and tarp-covered statues. In my mind I could see its beauty, but in reality it was a drab mess.

So I'm betting you are wondering how Paris the city was and, more importantly, how rude were its inhabitants? In my humble opinion, Paris is not unlike New York City or any other major metropolitan city. There is trash, graffiti, and vandalism. People are busy going and coming and they only say as much to the next person as need be. The wait staff at all the places we visited were courteous and friendly and I have nothing bad to say about any of them.

Paris felt a lot like NYC to me. A cleaner, older, and shorter NYC to be sure, but NYC nonetheless. All in all it was a good trip.

Oh, and the crème brulee was fantastic. Great job on that one France!

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Paris Bound

Today I leave for Paris. This will be my first time in Europe. Based on intelligence I’ve gathered I expect an oxygen based atmosphere and a gravitational pull that is at least on par of what I experience here on Earth.

Yeah, it feels like I’m going to the moon, unsure if I’d be stricken by some affliction on my first inhale of European air. I mean what if France invades the U.S. while I’m there?* Then what? Do I learn French and start striking?

Despite my trepidations, I’m sure I’ll have a swell time. Apparently there is some sort of tower over there and some old dead guy has a really big house you can walk through. I’ll also try to get my hands on one of those state-issued berets that all the people there get and take a mime class.

I’ve heard a lot of mixed things about the French people as a whole. The ones I know personally are very nice. I’m going there expecting to meet good people, and doing my best not to play the part of the ugly American. It is fascinating to me though, the cultural differences and that some of the reasons we Americans are seen as rude is because things we do in the states that are considered normal practice can be construed as rude elsewhere.

All in all, I’m confident that if I treat them like a culturally superior race of atomic supermen they will take to me just fine.

Assuming the Internet stretches into France, I will endeavor to blog about my journey, and pass on any information I turn up about the rumored tower.

* That is too rich. I’m saving that for my act.

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Monday, December 11, 2006


Well, I’ve hit my mark. The 2nd draft of Win is complete aside from a read through to correct typos and possibly implement some minor alterations. The good news is that I managed to reduce the page count from the original draft by about 29 pages. The bad news is that it’s still running long (136 pages), but hey this is a football epic right? I’ll get it to 120 by hook or by crook.

Now I’ll send it out to be evaluated by some peers. After the new year when I’ve cried sufficiently over their comments I’ll give it another pass and move on to my untitled non-football project*.

It feels great to be done . . . for now.

*It’s this great Rugby film about guys playing Rugby on a Rugby field. It will play great in the States. Does anyone have a Rugby net I can borrow (I want it to be authentic)?

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Friday, December 01, 2006

How Does it Work?

Sometimes the creative process amazes me. Last night I sat down to write a montage sequence in my script. I had a general idea of what I wanted to accomplish with no real idea of how it was all going to work. So I sit down and start writing the only part I could see which was the very beginning. So as I’m writing, it just starts to come, and I find the device I want to use throughout the sequence. Before I know it, it's finished.

Now I’m not saying it's particularly inspired or anything, but sometimes it amazes me how things come to be, how something seems to spring from nothing and how during the act of merely doing, your mind presents solutions to problems practically on demand. I mean I know the mind works on things subconsciously, but it was interesting to see it all play out in the matter of an hour.

A few days ago I was hitting the Act II finale* and I’m looking to Act III dreading it because I’ve been unhappy with it. It’s one of those things where you read it and you know its gunked up, but you have no idea what the solution might be. I decided not to fret over it, hoping a solution would present itself. If not, I’d just write what I had, and hope that would jar something loose. Well, just prior to finishing Act II, the idea hit me and things kind of fell into place right when I needed them to.

I don’t know if it is THE answer, but it is the answer I need for this particular draft. I’m sure all writers have similar stories, I’m just sitting back and saying “Dude. That’s cool,” taking a little time to marvel at this thing we call a mind.

*It involves large men, a leather ball, and a lot of cursing.

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