Unadulterated Travel

I love the feeling of travel for the sake of travel, going places with no real agenda, except to explore and maybe visit people. Usually, I've done this kind of travel abroad, but this winter, my husband and I decided to do a little ten day east coast tour, starting in Boston and ending in Raleigh. We visited a cousin of mine up in Boston, and checked out tourist sites like Harvard Square and the MOMA. Then we made our way down to New York, and stayed with a good friend in the Village. Living in LA, I miss that gritty feeling of an old, crowded place, of tiny restaurants and bars, with shady characters lingering on street corners. Our neighborhood in lower Haight was like that--not that I can really complain about living by the beach, but sometimes you just want a little grit, and NYC was a nice little taste. After that, we did a little trip out to the NJ suburbs as well, to drop in on Ameet's cousin who just had a baby boy two weeks ago. The baby was so adorable, but man, sometimes I can't believe that we're all grown up. Ameet's cousin and her husband are in their late 20's and they've got the huge home in the suburbs, the luxury car, the perfect Pottery Barn furniture... It shouldn't be shocking to Ameet and I that this is what people do when they "grow up," but man, we're definitely a ways off from that. Anyway, then we were off to DC for a couple days with my good friend Kathy, and finally, a quick flight down to Raleigh. Coming home to my parents' place was so relaxing--I literally crashed for twelve hours... The best part was heading to the movies on Christmas day. It was awesome because it was pouring down rain, one thirty on Christmas day, and there was a huge line for tickets. Both day time shows for Dream Girls were sold out, sold out!! Beyonce is unstoppable, everything she does is gold... There was quite a ruckus for tickets... But alas, my family safely got tix for Pursuit of Happyness. A heartwarming story, but the film dragged a little in middle, the plot felt slightly repetitive, but it was good to see Will Smith break out of his action hero roles and do something deeper. We only have a couple days left here, and we'll get in some more shopping (not that I should do any more), and see a couple of friends. Overall, this trip has been the much needed break that we both needed. I'll be fully charged once we get back!


Interactive Entertainment

Technology is moving unbelievably fast these days. I used to feel like I was pretty up on things, especially because I worked as a multimedia designer for so long. But lately, everything is moving faster than I ever imagined. I knew Web 2.0 would be all about the moving image, but I never imagined it would be on cell phones and other mobile devices. I just got a Palm Treo 700p, and it's amazing. I can connect to the Net off that thing from anywhere, and it's pretty damn fast, too. The thing that fascinates me is that digital storytelling, the idea of film and gaming and merging has taken on very new forms, as well. The whole LonelyGirl15 phenomenon is interesting, though ultimately, it is a lot like television. Recently, I've been very intrigued by Second Life, a virtual world where you essentially become a character in this universe. It's fascinating, because it truly is like living a "second life." I've taught a course called "Digital Storytelling" for a few years, mostly recently at Otis College of Art and Design. In the past, I've taught it from the perspective of developing a video game script, and students essentially come up with their own ideas, and then chart out the story and write a ten page treatment. It's interesting, and the students like it because it forces them to think it ways they never have. To me, this kind of model was the essence of digital storytelling. But now, there are so many other types of inetractive storytelling, so I've decided to adjust my course a bit for next semester. I've decided to reconfigure the course and call it, "Digital Storytelling: Second Life Narratives." Instead of students developing original story ideas, we are going to build a presence in Second Life. Students will pitch ideas for the space we develop, then they will create characters who inhabit that space. There will be a hefty writing porition for the class, especially in terms of developing a backstory for their chracter. I will spend class time helping them develop their online persona and creating a life for their characters. It's very different from what I've done in the past, but it should be interesting to see how my students develop their character and what adventures they face. What's nice about teaching at an innovative school like Otis is that they encourage teachers to develop courses like this one that use technology in interesting ways. It's exciting for me, as well, because I get to play with a new technology.


Trimming the Fat

Having struggled with one particular screenplay for the past year, I was terribly frustrated with myself. And while my writer friends and even Ameet told me to let the damn thing go, I just couldn't--that's just how I am when I get something in my head. I'd write and rewrite this script and go in circles in terms of the plot. Nothing I did seemed to make any sense, and I was getting very bogged down in complicated plots and too many characters. I did put it away for a couple months, and then suddenly, something just clicked with it. I don't know what it was, but it just came together. I decided to dig deeper into the emotion, and simplify the plot. I also went through and got rid of every, single character that didn't make sense or that I didn't need. I actually found it much easier to write the damn thing, because I didn't have so many characters to focus on. I worked it and worked it, and finally got to a point where I felt at peace with it. I hardly ever feel this way, but for some reason, I was like, it's done. I know it. Then I had a script reader give me notes, and lo and behold, all my fruits of labor paid off--they said that it was a well written, clear and interesting script. Even my husband, who started looking at me funny every time I mentioned this script, like I was crazy and just really needed to let it go, read it and thought it was good. I have to say that was the best feeling ever. After toiling for something for so long, I finally feel excited to hand it off to two managers who liked one of my other scripts, but wanted to see something more commercial. It's exciting to feel good about something I've written!