The Bag Means Your Mind

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

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Life In Technicolor

Last night I attended the Coldplay concert that was held here in Philly. It was my first concert. Well, not really. I've been to many concerts. Most of them with an old girlfriend who was crazy about music. Me? I was along for the ride and much, much more interested in post concert coitus than Sting's heartfelt expression of Fields of Gold. Much more. No, my friends, this time was different (though the lure of said coitus never really diminishes, but I digress). This time I sought out the tickets. At the time I had a hope of who I might go with, but that was secondary to the event. Before I get into that, how 'bout some backstory.

In 2002, I watched a pilot for a new series on FOX called John Doe (which I watched faithfully until the bastards canceled it). The pilot ended with John Doe watching someone on a ship. There was this awesome song playing over it as the show ended. Immediately I marshalled the power of the internet and began to dig. Turns out that song was from a band called Coldplay and it was called Trouble. I got the album it was from, but I didn't really listen to it. A year or two later my future ex-wife gets me their next album A Rush of Blood to the Head. And true to form I listen to Clocks and not much else and put the album away. Flash forward. X&Y comes out. This time I get it and listen to the album and realize that I really like this stuff. Then I go back to the other albums and find that: "Hey there's some great stuff here." Flash forward to March of this year. I find out that not only is a new album is coming out, but that Coldplay is coming to Philly. I pre-ordered the album, downloaded Violet Hill and knew that I was going to their concert, even if it cast aspersions on my sexuality (thank you very much 40 Year Old Virgin).

Yesterday, the cosmic tumblers clicked into place. The weather was nice, the mood perfect. The woman I had hoped would go with me back in May was on my arm (and I didn't even need to employ any sense-altering drugs to do it!). We take our seats and suffer through the opening acts. Then it started. I wasn't quite sure how I'd feel, what I should expect. I don't like idol worship, and always bristled when I'd see dewey-eyed teenagers gushing over rock stars. Part of me was wondering if I'd devolve into that which I despised, that I'd turn into some blubbering sycophant not unlike Peter Griffin watching Barry Manilow on that very special Family Guy episode.

Not to worry, my humanity remains intact. The show started in an explosion of energy. The crowd was cheering, giddy with anticipation. Life in Technicolor wafted through the arena as they took the stage. As it concluded they jumped right into Violet Hill and everything just took off from there. Each song had carefully choreographed lights and lasers. The band played in front of a wall of video. Throughout the arena interesting video globes were suspended from the ceiling.

The pomp and circumstance are fine and nice, but the meat of the evening was supplied by Chris Martin and the crowd (more on them later). He exuded an energy and an emotion that just kind of washed over the audience. You just get the feeling that he is exactly where he wants to be, doing exactly what he wants to do. And while watching him, you get the impression that he's just letting it all hang out. He's not very graceful, performing this kind of awkward dance dictated by the music. But instead of being self conscious about showing his personal rhythm, he lets it out. I'd like to have that kind of comfort level with myself. To say this is me and fuck all y'all if you think it's stupid. I'm not there yet. Not even close.

The other component of the evening was the audience. Coldplay designs their set lists with sing-a-longs in mind. And when the audience starts to sing and you are singing as well, it kind of turns into a communal event. It feels good to be around people who share a common interest, a common passion. Probably has something to do with why we're social animals and why people gravitate to groups and why cults attract members. So when Coldplay started playing In My Place and the entire building sang "yeah" at the right moment (you know what I mean) it was just a rush of good feelings. Kind of like the scene in Almost Famous where the entire bus is singing Tiny Dancer. Like that, but with twenty thousand instead of twenty. It's moments like that, that make communism not seem like such a bad racket*.

It was special, very special, and I'll certainly fork over the requisite money units to see them perform again when the time comes.

*but it is

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The Six Month Plan (Update 1)

I'm going to be posting updates along the way. Hopefully it will keep me honest and on track. These first steps are proving difficult. I've got 3 months to bang out a story and it seems like a long time. It ain't.

I'm a month in and I've figured out some of the key conceits of my story. I have some of the main characters, and for the time being I'm going to focus on them. I need to find out who they are and how they relate to one another. My feeling is that if the characters are fleshed out, the situations that will give them the most trouble will become apparent. I'll be using the Enneagram to mold each of the characters. And if I'm able to truly understand their emotional underpinnings, when they interact I can more clearly compose situations that will bring about the most strife. Easy, right?

In addition to all of this I've identified a key phrase that serves one of the central themes of the story. "Winning the lottery is a good result from a poor decision." When designing a character, I think it is important that his or her job/hobbies/circumstances should somehow reflect the core of that character, the theme of the story, or reveal some irony. Harold Crick is an IRS auditor in Stranger Than Fiction. The profession just resonates with who his character is.

In Batman: The Dark Knight, there was a line about how a crusader who lives a short life is a hero. But a crusader who lives long enough will eventually become the villain. That line, that idea just kind of burrows into the story and embeds itself as a central statement (in a good way). So I'm looking for that idea that permeates the story. I'm guessing it isn't a first draft revelation.

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Seven Songs: Yet Another Meme

Ryan tagged me on this. It's an interesting meme in that music has become more a part of my life in the past months. This is due in no small part to a video game called Rock Band. I sing vocals in the "band" I play in on the game along with 2 of my friends (drummer and guitarist). My singing voice isn't great, but it isn't bad either and the game has really honed my pipes to an extent. As a result I've taken quite a liking to songs that really speak to me that I can also sing decently. Sometimes the lyrics speak to me, sometimes it's how the notes resonate through me.

I've been a fan of Coldplay for a long time, and especially lately with their new album. So without further adieu, my seven songs:

Amsterdam by Coldplay. At first I didn't like this song much, but I revisited it a few months ago and it just took off. The song is slow for the most part, but really picks up and digs in at the end.

"Stuck on the end of this ball and chain.
I'm on my way back down again.
Stood on the bridge tied to the noose
sick to the stomach.
Say what you mean
but it won't change a sin.
I'm sick of the secrets.
Stood on the edge tied to the noose.
You came along and you cut me loose."

Lucky Man by The Verve. If Amsterdam is 1, this is 1A. I discovered this a month or two ago. It is from The Verve's one and only album (a new one hits in August) Urban Hymns. You might remember the hit Bitter Sweet Symphony that came from it. Lucky Man is something special.

Warning Sign by Coldplay. The lyrics don't really call to me or reflect anything in my life, but the feeling in Chris Martin's voice combined with the piano when he sings "But the truth is ... I miss you." it really resonates. Perhaps because the bittersweet speaks to me more than anything else in this world.

Lost? by Coldplay. My favorite from their new album. The acoustic is the better of the two versions methinks, but it's really a toss up. Again the lyrics don't speak to me, but I find myself continually singing and re-singing the line "Oooh I'm waiting till the shine wears off."

Space and Time by The Verve. This is another one where the lyrics don't mean much to me. Hell, I might even passionately disagree with the philosophy behind the words, but I can't argue with how the notes just echo within.

Jumper by Third Eye Blind. I like the emotion in this song, and it's not of the typical in love/out of love fare. It's about a love so deep that you'd sacrifice a relationship if it meant saving a life.

Learn to Fly by Foo Fighters. Probably my favorite song to sing in Rock Band.

Bonus Track:

I'm Going to Go Back There Someday by The Great Gonzo. This song is deeper and more heartfelt than a song from a kids movie has a right to be, and it has a wonderful line:

"There's not a word yet
for old friends who just met."

It echoes my bittersweet nature perfectly.

So there it is (like you even cared). I'll tag my buddy Pat with this one.

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