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Hit a bit of a dry spell with the blogging; I just haven’t felt like I have much new to say. The medicine continues to work well and I’m getting a lot done. I’m through page 21 on Express #1, but the last two pages have been a little sticky. Watch this space for the conclusion of Express #1 and the beginning of Express #2… at some point. Today I have a bit of classic children’s poetry with inspiration from my dear friend Rebecca: Continue Reading »

As usual it took more than a couple of days to get this up, but I didn’t want to post it until I reached a stopping point I felt good with.   This section briefly introduces an element of mystery in the overall story (big thanks to Matt H. for the idea). I’m working my way through  page 18 right now, and I probably won’t post the rest until I finish out the issue, on or around page 23.  I’ve made some progress on issue two which is going to cover some of the back story for DEREK and GRACE. Issue three will be big on excitement, and involve organized crime. I’ve got some ideas for the bigger events beyond that, but issues four and up are a bit nebulous at present. I hope people are enjoying it. Thanks for reading.

EXPRESS – #1 : Heavy

PAGE 7

PANEL 1 (UPPER THIRD: 1/3 WIDE: FULL OVERLAP PANEL 2)

DEREK LOWE now wearing the grey jumpsuit and cap. Picks the photo up and studies it.

DEREK LOWE (To Himself)
Yeah, eleven will be fine. Vertical door bar is well polished no scuffs. Base plate has a one inch scratch toward the hinge end Lock at the base is a Wuxi. Time here is about 3:30 in the afternoon so it’ll be 5:30 in the morning there. I’ll wanna make sure I don’t hit any early risers. OK. Good to go.

PANEL 2 (FULL HEIGHT: DOUBLE WIDE)

High corner view of the WAREHOUSE; DEREK stands in front of the chalkboard(Left). Arrayed across the floor of the warehouse are 16 doors set into individual brick walls. Each door is different, and each door is numbered with spray paint stencil on plywood. GRACE has a hand truck and is walking toward the door marked 11. Continue Reading »

Let me tell you about the inside of my head.

Imagine Robin Williams doing stand-up, or if you’re not old enough to remember when Robin Williams did stand-up, imagine Eddie Izzard instead. He’s standing in a big empty space, talking at high speed, and everything he says leads into another connection that leads to another comedy bit, some of it isn’t as funny, but there’s so much energy and speed that the overall effect is pretty amusing. Now imagine that your stream of consciousness comedian is having an off night. Maybe he suffered blunt head trauma just before coming onto stage. He’s still talking very quickly, but it doesn’t make much sense anymore. Continue Reading »

Went back to the doctor yesterday after almost a month of taking my medicine. The doctor agreed that upping the dose is probably a good plan, and I’ve got a prescription for the higher dose. Will my insurance company allow the pharmacy to give it to me before my current supply runs out? Who knows?! When I do finally get the new medication I’ll be interested to see how big the difference in effect will be. Having a third data point will hopefully give me a better idea of how different things are supposed to be. I’ll have to be sure to take this one pretty early in the morning just in case the duration is substantially longer.

In addition to upping my meds I’m also trying some different strategies for time management. Rather than just giving myself a to do list I am putting everything in a schedule. By giving myself specific times when I have to do things I can maintain focus, and better force myself to stop goofing off. That having been said. Writing time is unfortunately over (spent most of it working on the Express scripts: look for part 2 of issue 1 tomorrow or Friday), and it is now time for cleaning.

I know I haven’t updated the blog this week, but I have not been neglecting my writing.  Here’s a chunk from the beginning of some comic scripts I’ve been working on. The basic idea behind the story revolves around the questions “What if a person, in a world without super powers, woke up with a super power (say teleportation)? As far as he knows, he’s the only one. He’s not brave enough, or noble enough, to become a hero. He’s not ballsy enough, or evil enough, to be a villain.

So what does he do with his amazing ability? He carves out a business sized chunk of grey area all for himself.

EXPRESS – #1 : Heavy

PAGE ONE

PANEL 1 (UPPER LEFT QUARTER; HALF WIDE; SLIGHT COVERAGE PANEL 2)

Close-up on DEREK LOWE’s mouth against a sky background.

DEREK LOWE
I’m sorry Mr. Han, there simply isn’t anything I can do for you. Your package is too large for my service to handle. Worldwide Express has a hard limit of 20 kilograms on all shipments.

PANEL 2 (ABOVE CENTER QUARTER; FULL WIDE)

Wide DEREK LOWE (panel right) rising from a leather office chair. MR. HAN (panel left)rising behind a desk. Distance between LOWE and HAN and big windows to indicate large high office.

MR. HAN
I would like you to reconsider Mr. Lowe. It is vitally important that this item gets to Shanghai as quickly as possible. I will triple your regular fee.

DEREK LOWE(under breath)
Triple. (Sigh)

PANEL 3 (BELOW CENTER QUARTER;FULL WIDE)

HAN and LOWE now standing straight still at a distance.

DEREK LOWE
Mr. Han you drive a hard bargain. Very well, Worldwide will take your package to Shanghai. Do you have my manifest prepared?

PANEL 4 (LOWER LEFT QUARTER; 3/8 WIDE; PARTIAL COVERAGE PANEL 3)

Close-up MR. HAN handing over a manila envelope.

MR. HAN
May I ask about the photograph we were asked to include?

PANEL 5 (LOWER RIGHT QUARTER; 3/8 WIDE; PARTIAL COVERAGE PANEL 3)

Close-up DEREK LOWE’s mouth sly smile.

DEREK LOWE
We have learned over the years that when you work as quickly as we do it pays to have a visual reference.

CAPTION (GRACE)
Did he ask about the photo? Continue Reading »

It’s been about a week since I last updated on how things are going on my medication there haven’t been any big new changes to report, but I had an encounter the other day that I think is reflective of the changes that I’m making.

I was picking up some pizza from Peppino’s (a local pizza place), and I was in a hurry to get home because I was on a lunch break. My phone was plugged into its car charger, and figuring that it wouldn’t take long to grab the pizza I left it in the car. I pop inside wait in line for maybe 45 seconds, and as I come up to the register the girl behind it says, “Carry out for Andrew , right?” This is neither a surprise or a problem. I am aware that I probably order pizza too often, and since this pizzeria is both near my house and better than the corporate options I am a carry-out regular. It’s what the girl said after she took my money that made my stomach clench and my mouth go dry, “No headphones today?”

What follows is a rough transcription of what went through my head in the second before I said, with a nervous chuckle “Nope, not today”: Here I am talking to a person who I see perhaps twice a month for upwards of six minutes at a time, and to her I am “That guy who’s always wearing headphones” so much so that she feels compelled to mention it when I don’t have them. I don’t know how to feel about it really. Is it a bad thing? Am I one step away from being “blue-tooth headset guy”? Am I worse than that? Is it ok that I have my headphones in while waiting for pizza, even though no one else does, because it is pretty boring? Was it like this when I was “that kid with a book”; reading and eating by myself at restaurants? Have I been shutting out the world? Have I been thinking about this too long? How do I respond? Ok, It’s not a big deal; just laugh it off.

I never really thought before about how my need for constant stimulation affected the way that people see me. Will that change? Should it change? Always new things to consider with a shifting brain. I’ll keep you updated on how it pans out.

Solid acting and lively action make Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is better than the previous two films in the franchise, but it’s to overdone to retain the series initial greatness.

On Stranger Tides has many things to recommend it: it’s a fun action-packed romp, has an talented cast that act to the hilt, a soundtrack that brings new life to familiar themes, and the grand visuals that the series is known for.  The biggest problem is that it is simply too much. Too many action sequences, too many grand visuals, too much plot stuffed into a lighthearted adventure film.

On Stranger tides has Captain Jack Sparrow(Johnny Depp) shanghaied by former flame Angelica(Penélope Cruz) and her boss Blackbeard (Ian McShane) into searching for Ponce de León and the fountain of youth. Chasing after are Captain Barbossa ((Geoffrey Rush)newly commissioned into the King’s Navy), Master Gibbs ((Kevin McNally) conscripted by Barbossa), and the Spanish fleet (who also want to find the fountain).

The entire cast works hard for this one. Even the young actors playing the lovers Syrena(Astrid Berges-Frisbey)and Philip(Sam Claflin) give their all.  Here though, we hit one of the snags in the piece, the aforementioned young love.  As hard as these actors are working the characters they are given are entirely two dimensional (Oh, by the way, I made the mistake of watching this one in 3D, but I’ll get back to that.) existing only to provide drama to a single element of the story. Which brings us around to the largest flaw of the film: too many plot-lines.  Blackbeard, Angelica, and the Spanish are after the fountain of youth, Barbosa is after Blackbeard, Jack just wants to take Angelica and get away from all of them. To avoid confusion: those are the SIMPLE goals. There’s also: special chalices,  mermaid hunting, young love, revenge, eternal salvation, different revenge, a magic sword, long lost family, pointless zombies, and prison escape.

Let’s talk about the prison escape. We open the movie on Jack rescuing Gibbs from prison, and being summarily captured himself; then escaping again. There are parts in this sequence that had the potential to be some of the best in the entire series. Rather than simply following Jacks “best worst pirate” shenanigans we are treated to a sequence where Jack carefully, and unnoticed by those watching him arranges a room to facilitate his escape. It’s a fantastic bit, and is more  reminiscent of Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock Holmes than the Captain Jack we know. It’s just the sort of thing to push the series in a positive direction, more reminiscent of Holmes and Bond, but it’s thrown away with a bit of deus ex machina. Time and again through the story are these glimpses that perhaps Jack is more than just a fast talker and a practiced swordsman, but they are quickly discarded in favor of more grand setpieces.

Which is another problem with the film: there are actually too many action sequences. I imagine that every time someone told Jerry Bruckheimer about a scene he said, “That sounds great, what if it were also…” (on fire? racing down a busy street? exploding?) I’m not saying I’m in favor of an action adventure in the style of Sophia Coppola, but an insufficient balance can make the action feel repetitive.

Also on the subject of things being grand: wherever they are looking for the fountain of youth it’s not where de León went. I’m sure there are parts of Florida with mountainous terrain and stunning high vistas, oh wait, no there aren’t.

Now on to the subject of 3D. I chose to see the 3D version of the film because the showtime fit better with my schedule than the 2D time. This was a big mistake on my part. One of the flaws I find in 3D movies is that dark scenes tend to be murky and hard to see. It’s no good then that several of the major action sequences (out of the admittedly large number of action sequences) take place by torchlight. These night scenes develop a sort of Greengras-esque freneticism because half the time you can’t tell what’s going on. The action sequences in the light were largely well done and entertaining (aside from the fact that there were just too many), and I’d honestly be willing to give the movie another shot in 2D at some point, but even clear visuals and well done action don’t fix the larger flaws.

There are several other good things in the film. The Hans Zimmer score is as solid as ever, but with a twist of proverbial lime. For this one Zimmer added a Spanish guitar flare, with the help of guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, to his familiar PotC themes. The guitars give the score a different flavor, while maintaining the swashbuckling atmosphere. Also, despite my earlier complaint, the sweeping island vistas, crowded cities, and swaying ships all look great. There’s no lack of consideration for set design, or for costumes; which never lack for interesting detail. Perhaps what works in the design department is what overcomes the rest of the film there’s no sense of editing, no feeling that anyone ever said, “Do we really need that to tell the story?” Healthy editing could have put the series back on top; instead of allowing it to be solidly average.