Working on a Series

Angus and Jack
Angus and Jack said HI

This month my screenwriting course had us work on a variety of episodic and serial writing projects.  This included not only TV, but also a web series, video games and comics.  Having come to this course as a novelist, I never really considered writing on a show.  I am humbled and amazed at the amount of work that has to go into season arcs, episode construction and execution.  When people complain about a show, I will be able to say now with authority “you have no idea what you are talking about.”  It is hella hard.  As a staff writer, you are also taking someone else’s creative property for the most part and executing it the way you are told to do.  Can you craft a story that fits that world? Yes.  Will you be in control of its execution? Rarely.  Like adapting a novel the screen results in hard decisions being made by forces beyond your control, you may put all the work in but have very little say in changes or direction.  Think about that next time you decide to hate Tweet a writer! 🙂

I had to publish a blog post on my mastery journal about what it was like to be a staff writer, if you are interested, you can read that HERE.

The Soundtrack of My Life…So Far

     It’s no secret that we are music people. Aside from all three monkeys playing instruments, Little Man and Little Monkey both are performers. I hope that in some measure, it is because music has always been a requirement in my house, whether in the car driving to the store or at home in full “clean the damn house” mode, there has always been something blaring for everyone to dance and sing their hearts out to. Recently, I was having a conversation with Middle Monkey about an old episode of Ally McBeal where it was discussed how everyone has a soundtrack song, something that defines them, their go-to melody but as much as I love music, and all types of it, there is no way I could pick just ONE song. Songs tend to define periods of my life…it seems impossible to pick just one. For that reason, I present the soundtrack of my life so far…

Bad Bad Leroy Brown (1973) My parents where music people in their youth. This is the first song that I can remember singing at the top of my lungs in the backseat of the car and getting in trouble because I said “damn town” in the lyrics. What can I say, I was a rebel early in my life.  Later I would find that this was the anthem of the Redcoat Marching Band because of the line “junkyard dog”…I felt vindicated sitting next to Granddad in his seats in Sanford Stadium.

You Sexy Thing (1975)/Play That Funky Music (1976)/YMCA (1978)  These songs began my life long love affair with funk music and disco.  With Earth, Wind & Fire, The Bee Gees, and all things Village People, I learned that shaking my groove thing was something I loved to do.  It also made roller skating pretty damn cool too.

Heartache Tonight (1979) This song is why I love all things Eagles.  I was 11 and the cool teenager down the street (Angie) who drove a T-Top Trans Am told me every time she heard this on the radio, she knew she was going to get into trouble before the night was over.  She was grounded from using her car often and had to take the bus so I knew this was both true and the greatest thing I had ever heard.  Later in my life, many times I would use the same excuse when Rock Me Like A Hurricane came on.

Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough  (1979)  First album I every saved literally every piece of spare change I could find around the house until I had enough to go to the record store.  This is the memory of Michael I retain, along with that of long gone record stores.  I miss them both.

Rappers Delight (1979) My first pirated song.  I would sit at the radio with an old school tape recorder, wait for it to come on and record it over and over again until I got the whole thing.  I knew it backwards and forwards and still to this day, LOVE THIS SONG.

Black Out (1982)/Photograph (1983)/Shout At The Devil (1983) This started my Freshman year in high school and pretty much defined where I was headed for four years musically.  While I still threw in Beastie Boys and Run DMC while rocking my fat laces, this is what I bought and these are the concerts I went to see.  This music was particularly helpful in drowning out the family when you wanted to pretend they were not there…LOL  IPods now make it much easier to use any music to do this.

Your Love (1986)  Every time I hear “Josie’s on a vacation far away…” I can’t help but be transported. This album marked the beginning of me trying to figure out what being a grown up was.  I am not sure I did very well at that but post-graduation, you do what you can with what you think you know. 

Kiss (1987)/Brass Monkey (1987)  Who doesn’t love Prince and the Beastie Boys?  These were my favorite getting ready to go out to the disco songs.  Greatness.

Silent Lucidity (1990)/Jeremy (1992-video)  These songs became significant because of my oldest two monkeys.  One loved Silent Lucidity as a lullaby and Middle Monkey would have been named Jeremy if she had been born a boy.  Two great and theatrical bands from the Seattle sound.

Come to My Window (1994)/Longview (1994)/Fly (1997)/Slide (1998)/Happy Day (1998) This string of albums represent a period in my life where I struggled to find my footing as an adult and make decisions solely based on what was best for my kids.  I am not sure that they were always the correct decisions but it’s what’s made them what they are (and they are pretty damn awesome) so I will take it.  (I don’t care who you are, Johnny was smoking hot in that Slide video…:)  To this day, Better Than Ezra remains one of my all time favorite bands and I continue to see them in concert at least once a year.  As a side note, though its not the best recording, I put that video up for Happy Day because we were at that show.  Middle Monkey texts me from the front row simply with “Happy Day!!!”  As a mom who has tried to give my kids great musical experiences and positive songs to embrace, this made me very emotional…

Happy (2003)/Ugly Side (2003) Another of my all time favorite bands and I was sad to see Socialburn fall apart and Blue October not really regain the epic feeling generated with the History for Sale album.  I cross my fingers on both.  This marked a transformative and largely painful part of my life that lingered for another six years.  Still looking for the sheet music for Ugly Side because that’s a tattoo I am still waiting to get.

So What (2008) This is the anthem for my resergence.  I think this was when I conceiously decided I was entitled to a great and glorious life.  Many Pink songs have this feeling and she is one of my favorites.
Breathless (2008)  Another great BTE song, these were lyrics I sent to a wonderful man.  I felt I knew him my entire life (even though I was 19 when we first met) and to be reunited in our advanced age seemed impossible.  Despite the odds, that broken soldier came back into my life and we are both much better for it.  He was so touched by the lyrics that he went out to buy the album and we have been together ever since.  It was a glorious day when I could take him to his first BTE show.  This band continues to by my road trip music, my need-to-feel-better music and my in general go to band.  Lucky for me, they have tons of material and all of it great!

Hot Chocolate (1970’s) What goes around, comes around.  I play Hot Chocolate’s Greatest Hits in my car, open the sun roof, crank it up and make my kiddos sing at the top of their lungs with me.  It feels good.  Here is hoping the music and art of being silly rubs off on them.  I would be so happy to hear, years later, one of them does the same with their kiddo in the car.

     While certainly not comprehensive, this is a list of those songs for which strong emotional responses are produced.  They are so ingrained in my life, it is impossible to hear one and not be transported back to those times, both good and bad.  Music is powerful in that way.

     If posed the same question, what’s your soundtrack?  Can you put it on just one song?  I hope some of you have the same wonderful problem as I!

Beekman Seeds, Week 2

This past week, we finally got everything started for the garden with my Beekman heirloom seeds. Considering what it looked like before, I was happy how it turned out. Since we are in a rental and potentially moving this year, we wanted something portable that could go with us if we move. I also have not spent time learning to cultivate container gardens (other than herbs) but I have read so much lately of the ridiculously amazing things people are doing in small spaces. (A wonderful book that I found for a resource in making these things amazing is Gardening In No Time by Tessa Evelegh.)

We found these great bins at Costco that we altered by drilling drainage holes in the bottom. I put a layer of rock in the bottom to assist in drainage and then filled with dirt. Of course, I had some help:

Jack approves the dirt selection

Once everything met Jack’s approval, we planted four of the heirloom seed packets that were ready (carrots, turnips, spinach and radishes) as well as one bucket of garlic and onions and one of potatoes. Many moons ago when my boyfriend was a child, he described to me a manner of growing potatoes inside a stack of old tires. While it seems odd, the pinching off of some leaves and cover with dirt in multiple layers over time made a lot of sense. We are trying this in a container this year to see how it works.

I already have some sprouting and will put those pictures up next week. Have you planted something yet? It’s good for the soul, try it!

It does help if you have some help…even if that help is kind of
 lazy for the most part.  🙂

Mango supervises the project

 Have a great week everyone!  Peace to you.

I Beekman, do you?

Fabulous-Beekman-Boys Pictures, Images and Photos

Last year, we had the great good fortune to happen upon the Fabulous Beekman Boys on Planet Green. Often the discussion in our house has revolved around dreams of having a farm. While each of us have different reasons for wanting one, Little Monkey bases this decision on wanting four fainting goats she can name Ennie, Meanie, Miney, and Moe. No, I don’t know why.

We spent our extra time catching all the episodes as they popped up on our DVR and laughing along with Josh at Brent’s need to channel Martha Stewart (as so frequently I do) and became big fans of the diva on the farm, Polka Spot. When they guys announced that they were taking viewer questions for their holiday special, Little Monkey was quick to offer several for Polkie. I registered her once she narrowed it down but I didn’t hear back from them and it eventually slipped to the back of my mind. Imagine our surprised when, as we are watching the holiday special, once the guys head to the barn to ask Polkie a question, we hear “Emma Harris from Arlington, Texas asks…”. You would have thought Little Monkey had won the lottery. She recorded it and forced everyone visiting our house over the next two weeks to sit down and watch the holiday special with her. She called her dad (who lives out of state) to inform him of her celebrity status and was dismayed to learn he didn’t even know there was a Planet Green nor who the Beekman Boys were (this resulted in him loosing a multitude of cool points with her). A visit to the farm is now on the family bucket list and once circumstances and finances change, I will be getting her there one way or another.

This year, the Beekman Boys have partnered with Williams Sonoma on a package of heirloom seeds and a community gardening project. Living in a rental with very little yard, we are relegated to a small, long space currently covered in ice and snow, but I couldn’t turn Little Monkey down. She is very excited about growing plants and the idea of expanding from pots of herbs on the porch to raised beds with tasty edibles. I am excited to see her have so much fun learning about something that she can use when she has her own space to grow when she is older.

Site of future most awesome garden

I am by no means a master gardener so it will be interesting to see what I can do and what I can’t with what I am given. If you are interested in joining us, you can still get your seeds and sign up. If you have a Twitter, I would recommend following along with the guys and all the action.

Happy planting!

Good Stuff

I don’t know if anyone else is ridiculously hooked on Persons Unknown but I just can’t stop watching it and wondering how it will end.  Hands down its the best depiction of true psychological warfare I have ever seen.  When cast members incorporated lines from one of my favorite poets, I thought I would post that here as it reminded me how great that poem really is.  If you haven’t seen it yet, I would recommend it for any sci-fi/fantasy/weird X Files type fans there may be out therE BUT you MUST watch from the beginning.


THERE is a wolf in me … fangs pointed for tearing gashes … a red tongue for raw meat … and the hot lapping of blood—I keep this wolf because the wilderness gave it to me and the wilderness will not let it go. 

         There is a fox in me … a silver-gray fox … I sniff and guess … I pick things out of             the  wind and air … I nose in the dark night and take sleepers and eat them
 and hide the feathers … I circle and loop and double-cross. 

There is a hog in me … a snout and a belly … a machinery for eating and grunting … a machinery for sleeping satisfied in the sun—I got this too from the wilderness and the wilderness will not let it go.

There is a fish in me … I know I came from saltblue water-gates … I scurried with shoals of herring … I blew waterspouts with porpoises … before land was … before the water went down … before Noah … before the first chapter of Genesis.

There is a baboon in me … clambering-clawed … dog-faced … yawping a galoot’s hunger … hairy under the armpits … here are the hawk-eyed hankering men … here are the blond and blue-eyed women … here they hide curled asleep waiting … ready to snarl and kill … ready to sing and give milk … waiting—I keep the baboon because the wilderness says so.

There is an eagle in me and a mockingbird … and the eagle flies among the Rocky Mountains of my dreams and fights among the Sierra crags of what I want … and the mockingbird warbles in the early forenoon before the dew is gone, warbles in the underbrush of my Chattanoogas of hope, gushes over the blue Ozark foothills of my wishes—And I got the eagle and the mockingbird from the wilderness.

O, I got a zoo, I got a menagerie, inside my ribs, under my bony head, under my red-valve heart—and I got something else: it is a man-child heart, a woman-child heart: it is a father and mother and lover: it came from God-Knows-Where: it is going to God-Knows-Where—For I am the keeper of the zoo: I say yes and no: I sing and kill and work: I am a pal of the world: I came from the wilderness.