August Osage County…Film vs. play

Sometimes theatrical plays don’t translate well onto the screen.  I suspect, based on my reading of the play (I have not seen the production), that this might be the case with Tracy Letts Pulitzer Prize-winning play, August: Osage County, vs. his movie adaptation.  

In the play, the first line of the prologue is revelatory. “Life is very long…” (10) This intensely dark comedy epitomizes the term “baggage” with the unfolding of every single character within the play, and Letts uses their dysfunctional personal and interpersonal dynamics to set the tone in the storyline, which drives the plot forward.  This is certainly the case in the film as well.  The audience is told that life is long against a backdrop of miles flat Oklahoma fields and cattle.  

There is no doubt that Meryl Streep lived up to her reputation, and executed a brilliant performance as Violet the cancer-laden, vicious, pill-popping, abusive, bitter Weston family matriarch (and untamed shrew), who is at the helm of her family’s extreme dysfunction.  As good as Streep was, and even with the all-star cast in this adaptation, the film has some issues.  Let’s start with the fact that the trailer sets this film up as a comedy, but in no way is this storyline comedic, in fact, it is epitomizes that worst kind of individual and family dysfunction.  It’s brutal.

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Violet, who is suffering from mouth cancer, spews venomous words in rapid fire against every member of her family–to include her daughters, following her husbands suicide.  Violet is toxic and overbearing; she is nothing short of a monster. Roberts plays her eldest daughter Barbara, who is the acorn that didn’t fall too far from the tree, also does an amazing job, but having two characters that are this “large,” seems to take away from the intensity of the other.  

Some of the themes so present in the play are muddied when adapted over into a film.  Such as the disconnect present in a family who are aimlessly going through the motions of life, and none of them are on the same page. At times, it felt contrived.  Also, the dinner-table scene goes on and on, and is somewhat stifling. 

At the core, this story is about abuse, and generational abuse shared between all the women in this family, and the many skeletons that are in their closets.

Plotting your way to a compelling screenplay

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be teaching a webinar on PLOT for The Writers Store on December 18 from 1:00 – 4:00 (Pacific Standard Time).

ABOUT THE WEBINAR

Screenwriting structure can be daunting to the best of writers if the elements are not properly understood.  In fact, screenwriting has more structure than any other form of creative writing, with the exception of certain styles of poetry.  While each element is vital to the art of screenwriting, plot is probably the most misunderstood of all. It is not story.  

Even though we can isolate each element of structure, and compartmentalize how they function in a script, this is not about a formula for writing, but having a greater understanding of the building blocks that make a story great.  Carla says, “Screenwriting is not like any other kind of writing, because it is for a visual medium.  While the elements of story (plot, storyline, character arcs, story arcs, and good dialogue are also shared in creating a work of fiction, there are a couple of fundamental differences in the process of writing for the screen.”  One major difference is the use of exposition to drive a plot forward.

Carla currently teaches screenwriting at Santa Barbara City College Continued Learning and holds regular workshops in Montecito.  She has written a dozen original screenplays and two have been optioned.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:

  • The difference between plot and story
  • How action is used in the plot to advance the story
  • The relationship between plot, story and character
  • Is plot just about a random sequence of events?
  • Plotting = planning
  • Timing is everything: How does timing influence the evolvement of the story?
  • How character creates plot

WHO SHOULD ATTEND?

  • Novice and advanced screenwriters
  • Screenwriters who want a better understanding of plot
  • Writers who want to learn more about the craft of screenwriting
  • Writers who want to challenge themselves
  • Screenwriters who write in all genres
  • Screenwriters who want to learn
  • Anyone “truly” interested in writing a industry-acceptable, compelling story for the screen

For information or to sign-up, please click on the following link:  

http://www.writersstore.com/plotting-your-way-to-a-compelling-screenplay/

Good news!

Recently, I posted something about WriterDuet.com, the free online screenwriting program that allows you to write collaboratively, seeing all edits as you write. Whether you’re writing with a writing partner, or as a group, or working on screenplay solo, WriterDuet is a great program; it has my endorsement.  Another wonderful perk…WriterDuet has a page for outlining, story-boarding and creating index cards. With the flick of a finger, using the command key, we can go back and forth between our notes, and insert right into the script!

With the increasing popularity of WriterDuet, there have been requests for a desktop version, which is in the works. This will be fully compatible with the free web app, and will feature offline access to your scripts while saving your files automatically to your hard drive.

A Kickstarter campaign for the desktop version has been launched, and we’d love your support, and greatly appreciate your help promoting this campaign: www.kickstarter.com/projects/1721272044/writerduet-collaborative-screenwriting-software

Please check it out! 

 

 

Unintentional eavesdropping

Unintentional Eavesdropping – A Very Short Story

She pulled up in a black Mercedes-Benz convertible.  You can visualize the type—blonde hair swaying in coastal breezes, Chanel sunglasses (the rhinestones were a bit of an overstatement), sporting flawless porcelain veneers; a perfect 10, and dressed in Ralph Lauren’s newest line of active wear.  I watched her get out of her car; walk over to the parking meter, insert some coins and proceed to walk toward the crowded coffee shop that I was sitting in.  She opened the door and made her way to the counter, placing her over-sized Coach handbag and her over-sized key ring on the counter-top.  Lifting off her shades, she proceeded to carefully place them on the top of her head.  All of thirty seconds into her wait, when the barista paid no attention to her, she loudly cleared her throat and glared at the young girl (who must have been all of 18) with an expectant, irritated look.

After ordering her soy latte, she walked toward me looking for a place to park, and chose the table right next to mine – a window seat.  She sat down and put her coffee on the table and her handbag on the chair next to her and then began to unpack everything in her purse in search for lip-gloss.  Just when her lips were moist enough, a handsome man in casual attire, also holding the keys to a Mercedes and a leather folder joined her.

At first, I continued with my own reading agenda, but it didn’t take any time at all before I was utterly distracted and unintentionally eavesdropping.  In fact, I was no longer reading, but taking notes on what I was hearing.  It wasn’t like I planned on it.  I don’t normally do such a thing, but this couple was pretty hard to ignore, and the more I heard, the more curious I became.

Their conversation did not go as one might expect.

“Here’s what you can afford and not afford”, he said as he pulled out a number of multicolored coded graphs and wheel charts out of his folder.

The woman then reached into her purse and pulled out a piece of paper.  She unfolded it and showed it to the gentleman saying, “I re-worked my numbers and this is what I came up with, but I’m probably underestimating where we’re actually at.”

 He grabbed the paper and carefully compared it to his notes and then articulately went over a list of things she forgot to add.

“Let’s talk about the assets lost with this last upheaval.  I know you can make this work with a little bit of ingenuity.  The boat is not going to yield a profit even if it’s sold, and some things can be trimmed back.  Like your monthly spa days, tennis club membership, and the rather high clothing budget for everyone.”

He held up the color wheel naming off the categories as related to their importance.

“But, there’s no way I can cut back the kids clothing.  With all of their sports activities, school and social events, I don’t see how they can be included in this.”

Expressionless, the man leaned backwards and forwards in his chair a couple of times.  Perhaps he was uncomfortable; perhaps he was annoyed, or perhaps his boney ass hurt (neither of them were sporting any extra body fat).  Closely, he leaned in over the table and said, “If the additional $300,000 was still available to pull from, it would make things a whole lot easier.”

Additional $300,000 dollars? My curiosity was soaring!  The suspense was all-consuming.  Who was this man?  Was he a debt consultant, an accountant, a friend?

About this time there were a continual stream of sighs coming from the woman, and a rhythmical nervous tap occurring with her right foot under the table.  Observably, she wasn’t very comfortable with the conversation.

“When is the IRA money accessible?” she said.

He ignored her question, looked down at his watch and said, “Oh, hey… I’ve got that thing.”

She responded, “Oh, right…

They both stood up at the same time, he very matter-of-factually leaned over the table and kissed her saying, “See you at home.  I’d like salmon for dinner.”

The End
Copyright2013 ©CI

SOS…SAN FRANCISCO, PLEASE HELP FIND SEAN SIDI

I normally don’t post this kind of thing, but a friend of mine (another writer), who lives in San Francisco sent me the following to re-post. There is a young man who has been missing since May 21st in San Francisco.  He is 19 and has a traumatic brain injury which makes him very fragile.   Please read the following, and re-post if you feel led. 
Thanks so much!

 
 

I normally do not post anything like this on Poetic Shutterbug but this particular case is personal.  Sean is a regular visitor to the Botanical Garden in San Francisco, where I work.  I have seen him many times at the garden, as it is one of his favorite spots in Golden Gate Park.  He is a friendly and sweet guy who because of his previous brain injury is very fragile.

I and some of my coworkers were shocked and extremely saddened to hear of his disappearance on May 21st, a month ago.  He was last known to be in the area of Golden Gate Park when he went missing.

Sean is 19 years old and has a traumatic brain injury which makes it imperative that he be found ASAP.  There have been searches conducted both in Golden Gate Park, the Ocean Beach area and personally within our garden (the botanical garden).

For all the details you can visit his website at http://www.seansidi.com

21st century moms – multitasking proficients

My latest feature article published in Ventura County Reporter:

21st century M.O.M.s

Masters Of Multitasking

By Carla Iacovetti 05/09/2013

“Mother love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible.”
– Marion C. Garretty

The role of motherhood has dramatically changed over the last 100 years. During much of the 18th and 19th centuries, women did not do much outside of the home. A woman’s success was measured by her ability to care for her family and maintain order in the home. She was the center of the family, and all of her duty was fundamental to her roll as the mother.
Carol Costello Casey, grandmother to the local Curran surfing family, was a full-time working mother and loved every minute of it.
“There was nothing like watching my children grow,” she said. “Nothing is more important in life than being a mother. I’ve been fortunate to have three wonderful children, eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, and I greatly treasure each and every one of them.”
A native of Boston, Casey left at 18 after she married a marine. The young couple lived in North Carolina and Florida, and then made their way to the San Fernando Valley, eventually ending up here in Ventura County.
Though working full-time was less common during Casey’s early years of motherhood, she managed to work and successfully raise three kids. Even with a full-time job, Casey always focused on the family and diligently strived to nurture her kids.
“I’m so proud of my kids and how they have raised their own families. It’s been humbling to watch the legacy of this family continue to develop,” Casey said.


Carol Costello Casey (right) with her daughter Debbie,
who is the mother of Timmy, Nathaniel, Joshua and Taylor Curran.

Casey admits that being grandmother to the famed surfer Timmy Curran was exciting, but it did not ever take away from her love and devotion to any of the other grandkids.
“All my grandkids are the same in my eyes. Each have unique personalities, talents and abilities, and I’m forever proud of them all,” Casey said.
It was fun to pick up a magazine and see her grandson’s face on the cover.
“What amazed me the most with Timmy is that his personality never changed,” she said. “He was this funny, happy-go-lucky, normal kid, who was making a lot of money and gaining a lot of popularity in the surf world. I credit his stability to his parents — they did a great job of raising Timmy and the three other boys. Joshua works in the television industry, Nathaniel is also a pro surfer, and Taylor, who has recently graduated from high school, is also competitively surfing.
“Timmy’s break happened when surfing was just taking root and the sport was being appreciated for the sport itself — the timing was right. It’s hard to fathom that I have a celebrity for a grandson because I don’t think of him that way. He’s my first grandson, and like all the others, he holds a special place in my heart.”
“Mothers work so hard,” she continued. “I think all of the expectations that surround motherhood makes it all the more challenging to raise a family in today’s world. I admire mothers today who can juggle the responsibilities of home life, work and all of the extra activities and do a great job of raising a family.”
Even though the dynamics today have become more intense, Casey believes that a child’s behavior and how it develops in life are very dependent on family life. “After all, family life is all you have. It’s the only thing that you have that really belongs to you.”

It’s complicated …

Because most families require two incomes, life has grown a little more complicated.
“My advice to working moms is to have quality time together around the dinner table. Turn off the television, set the cell phones aside, and spend time talking as a family together — listen to one another,” Casey said.
Even though life was busy for Casey, sharing a weekly meal together became a family routine.
“I think it’s important to establish that pattern when they’re young. With the world going at a much faster pace, there are a lot of distractions today; but if a mother will make this a priority, her kids will thank her later,” she said.
While women still share the experience of pregnancy and endure the pains of labor, the life of today’s mother is complicated. In fact, nowadays a mother needs to be a multitasking proficient.


Amanda Armitage at Disney’s California Adventure with her twin sons.

Amanda Armitage is the full-time IT director for John Muir Charter School and the president of Ventura County Mothers of Multiples (VCMOM), a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization that offers support for parents of twins or higher order multiples. The organization was originally founded in October 1952 as the Ventura Mothers of Twins Club.
Armitage’s involvement with VCMOM is interesting, particularly because she never really wanted children.
“My husband and I weren’t going to even have kids, but we enjoy life and thought it would be fun to procreate!” she said.
Amanda and her husband, Jesse, are also comedians who do competitive improv at Ventura Improv Company (VIC). The couple met at VIC, and when she was pregnant with twins, she performed in a contest at VIC and won.
There are two ways you can look at having dual births: Double trouble or a double blessing.
“Finding out I was pregnant with twins was exciting but sobering. When Jesse and I saw the ultrasound together, all my husband could do was cuss repeatedly,” Armitage said. They quickly began to realize that things would significantly change — starting with dual car seats, a different car and a new place to live. The list kept growing.
“Today, we are very much hands-on parents, and Jesse is extremely involved,” she said. “I have an awesome, rockin’ husband that helps out! Our fraternal twin boys just turned 7 on March 24th, which is also their dad’s birthday.”
Even though Armitage never felt like the motherly type and did not plan on walking down this path, she’s happy with their decision.
“I’m so glad I didn’t miss out on being a mom. It’s so crazy — the minute they were born I felt so connected. No one can possibly prepare you for this kind of bonding. You really don’t understand this until it happens. Once you see your baby for the first time, you’re a gonner! It’s instinctive!”
“I love being a mom. I work full time, and I have a husband, but my boys come first. You really don’t need a lot of ‘stuff’ to be a good mom. Just get down with them. Spend that little bit of extra time with them,” Armitage said.
At the VCMOMS, Armitage likes to encourage new moms. She believes today’s moms put too much pressure on themselves by wanting to do everything right, and it can wear a person out. “In the end, that isn’t good for yourself or for your children.”
The American Sociological Review posted a recent study about the busyness of working mothers.
“Working mothers spend significantly more time multitasking at home than working dads. And those mothers aren’t happy about it,” the report stated. According to the research, which was performed at Michigan State University, a large percentage of working mothers were on “overdrive.” Sociologist Barbara Schneider co-authored the research paper revealing that the mothers experienced a lot of stress and strain from the time they walked in the door each evening.
It is true that working mothers have numerous obstacles to face. Learning how to manage the home front, corral children and stay on top of a work schedule is no easy task. Often times, moms need support, especially if they are new mothers with unusual circumstances.
Becoming a mother has given Armitage a greater appreciation of mothers. It is the bigger reason why she has become so involved with VCMOMS. “I just want to be the voice of encouragement to other mothers — those who are blessed with multiple births — letting them know that they’re not alone.”
Being a new mom is exhausting, but even more so when you have multiple births. “It’s not just exhausting, but it can be emotionally challenging. The responsibility of making the right decisions for a mom and your newborn babies can be daunting,” Armitage said.
Armitage encourages other mothers to embrace diversity and not to be so hard on themselves. “Don’t be afraid to be yourself,” she said.
Life-long Ventura County resident, Tori Hall is also the mother of identical twins girls. Izzi and Nickey Hall turned 4 in March. Tori is a single mom.


Tori Hall with her twin daughters.

“There is no family history of twins in either my family or my ex-husband’s, and it is safe to say I was in total shock when I found out I was having twins. I had no idea how I would adjust to that,” Hall said.
“I’m five feet three inches and very tiny. I had a lot of complications. At 20 weeks, I was put on bed rest and could not go back to work. It was a very stressful pregnancy,” said Hall. She had a medical disorder that caused her cervix to shrink during the pregnancy, and there was a serious risk she might lose fetuses.
“I ended up going through a divorce when my girls were a little over a year old. That would be hard enough with one baby, but with two … it was nothing short of exasperating, and something needed to change,” Hall said.

It takes a village

“My ex-husband and I planned on starting a family, and we were excited about it, but you’re never quite ready for double duty. Learning to go back to work and not having a partner at home was really challenging,” Hall said. It took time for Hall to find a happy medium, but she attributes any success she’s had to her “village.”
“I’m grateful for my village, which encompasses grandmothers, family members, friends, my daycare support and my ex-husband, who has been tremendously supportive,” Hall said.
Mothers today have to be more than prepared. Juggling the balance is not easy. There is pressure from the work front.
“You know, we’re supposed to be there and focused, but when your kid is home sick with a fever, it makes it hard to give 100 percent. Being a working mom is hard. I don’t even believe that women were ever made to do all of this while raising kids. It’s not an easy task. I’ve been fortunate enough to have understanding supervisors, but that’s not always the case,” Hall said. She never takes a normal lunch break. Her lunch hour consists of running errands, going to the grocery store and taking care of family-related business.
“I can’t even describe how fortunate I feel being allowed to have these two little girls.” Motherhood enthralls Hall, and she wants to take it all in and cherish each day with them.
News of the Boston bombings has been very hard for her to watch. “I can’t really watch it. That kind of sadness and loss, especially the loss of a child, is just far too overwhelming.”
Hall focuses on the here and now, realizing the impact that it will have on her kids later.
“My kids are at formidable ages. I’m always trying to teach them ways to communicate and teach them whom they can trust — like firemen, policemen or anyone in uniform like their dad, who is a tech sergeant in the Air National Guard.”
Having identical twins holds particular challenges. She strives daily to make sure her girls realize that they are distinctive and individual, and that includes her monitoring the way they dress. Hall purposefully does not dress them identically because she wants them to develop independently of each other.
“My advice for single moms — get a village. It will make life a lot easier. Don’t think you have to do this all alone. Motherhood is hard. You need help, so embrace it,” Hall said.
The mothers of the 21st century have come a long way, and there is no doubt that the grandmothers of yesterday might find the barrage of multitasking requirements a bit challenging, if not overwhelming, but there is one thing that unites the young and the old — motherhood. It is what connects all life, even in the midst of a complicated and imperfect world. It is where the imperfect is perfectly wonderful. 

Original Article:  Ventura County Reporter

Abercrombie & Finch—time to ditch your CEO!

It isn’t often I decide to go on a little rant, but tonight I’m feeling the urge.  Someone on my Facebook page posted this article in Elite Daily about Abercrombie & Finch’s CEO, Mike Jeffries, and his extremist, prejudice views against overweight people.  He “hates” fat chicks!  He’s “not bothered by excluding fat people,” and considers anyone who is overweight less-than cool—part of the unwanted, undesirable crowd.  Admitting that he has very exclusionary ideals Jeffries said, “A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong.” He continued to criticize other clothing companies who try and embrace all sizes by carrying XL and XXL sizes.  Jeffries declares that “fat chicks will never be a part of the in crowd,” nor does he want overweight women wearing their brands.

This really is an outrage. I think people should boycott this store. If the CEO hates “fat chicks,” what kind of message is this sending to kids today? Whether you have prejudice against a skin color, a gender, a political stance or religious belief, it’s just plain wrong. You know, Hitler had an elitist mindset and spread his beliefs in racial “purity” and in the superiority of the “Germanic race”—what he called an Aryan “master race.” This kind of thinking is dangerous and shouldn’t be supported.

Speaking of Abercrombie & Finch CEO Mike Jeffries: “He doesn’t want larger people shopping in his store, he wants thin and beautiful people,” Lewis said. “He doesn’t want his core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing his clothing. People who wear his clothing should feel like they’re one of the ‘cool kids.” – Robin Lewis, The New Rules of Retail

Original article: http://elitedaily.com/news/world/abercrombie-fitch-ceo-explains-why-he-hates-fat-chicks/

 

Remembering Sandy Hook…

What transpired at Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday is incomprehensible.  Cruel acts of violence are never easy to understand, but when the lives of innocent children are taken, it casts a horrible shadow us all.  It’s cold, it’s frightful, and it’s unsettling.  We want answers, and we want it to stop.  Honestly, I’m not sure we’ll ever get answers or make sense of this horrendous act of violence.

Today, my prayers exist on many levels.  I pray for the families of these victims.  May God comfort them in their mourning and allow them all to find solace in His love and the memory of their loved ones… I pray for the leaders in this nation–for wisdom in how to help to make certain these kind of evil massacres never happen again.

Thank you to all those who have reached out in love to assist in the healing process.

“Even hundredfold grief is divisible by love.”  ~Terri Guillemets

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Delicious, quick and easy!

Great, great recipe, and she’s right… It’s quick, easy and tasty!

TASTE...and See

Sometimes cooking can be a real pain in the _ _ _ _ especially when you’re tired, or in a hurry.  This is a great little recipe for just those moments.  It’s fast, easy and seriously tasty!  Try it–you’ll like it!!!

FRESH SPINACH AND TOMATO SALAD WITH PENNE PASTA IN A PARMESAN OLIVE OIL, LEMON-GARLIC DRESSING 

INGREDIENTS:

3/4 pound penne pasta or small rigatoni

1 bag fresh, organic baby spinach

2 large, ripe tomatoes (diced)

3 cloves fresh garlic (crushed)

3/4 cup fresh shredded or shaved parmesan cheese

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

course black pepper to taste

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large fresh-squeezed lemon

3 fresh basil leaves (minced)

LET’S GET COOKING!

In a stock pot boil water to cook the pasta.  Cook according to directions (al dente).

While the pasta is cooking, put the spinach, 2 cloves crushed garlic, the parmesan cheese, and the tomatoes in a large salad…

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