Wednesday, May 13, 2015

I cannot vouch for the content of this post

I have no idea what to write about today. So I'm going to try something. I’m always asked how you solve writer’s block (like I’m an expert). One thing I suggest is to just start writing. Anything. Sometimes just jotting down stray thoughts can unlock your imagination. And if you’re writing a script just start a scene. Just let the characters talk to each other.

That said, I’m going to follow my own advice. This is an experiment, but I promise three things. I will write this quickly. I will not censor myself even if the thoughts are fragmented or don’t segue properly, and I will post it (even if it ultimately turns out to be total crap). The thing about experiments is that they could fail. COP ROCK and MICROSOFT BOB leap to mind.

Make that four things – I will not go back and edit. In other words, I will allow myself to be a lazy horseshit writer. Rewriting really makes a difference – as this post will probably prove.

On the other hand, there are writers like Larry Gelbart who can compose a script straight through, without corrections. I don’t know how they do it. I’m as mystified by that as I am people who can break the Enigma Code or build a dresser from Ikea.

Gelbart used to write his scripts in longhand on legal pads with black Sharpies. And the pages would all be clean. And legible. When I used to write longhand it would be on UCLA binders and I would have 24 hours to transcribe it or it would be lost. My handwriting is so bad and I had so many cross-outs and arrows and lines squeezed into the margins that if I didn’t type it within a day I had no idea what I wrote. Of course now I understand they don’t even teach cursive in school. Somehow I can’t picture the US Constitution hand printed. That is if Founding Fathers even bothered to spell out entire words. “provide 4 the common defense.” “U need to be 30 2B a senator.”

Listening to RichBroRadio.com. They’re playing “Say a Little Prayer” by Aretha. Great Bacharach-David song. I love Burt Bacharach’s music, but some of Hal David’s lyrics – I dunno. From “A House is Not a Home” comes the brilliant lyric “A chair is still a chair/ even when there’s no one sitting there.” What the fuck? “Chair” seems to be a key word in stupid lyrics. What’s that Neil Diamond song? “I Am/I Said.” I think there’s a line in there something like: “And no one heard at all/not even the chair.” Deep.

Does Neil Diamond still wear pirate shirts when he performs? That’s just not a good look for middle-aged Jews.

See the HBO documentary on Scientology. It’s frightening and if you didn’t think Tom Cruise was an idiot and a tool this will convince you. What I didn’t know was the hot Persian girl from last season’s HOMELAND was a Scientologist and assigned/ordered to be Cruise’s girlfriend.  Like he can't get laid on his own?  He needs a religious leader to pimp for him?  Tom and the exotic hottie got into a fight and he banished her. Maybe the problem was she’s a better actor than he is. Paul Haggis (writer/director of CRASH) was also featured. Remember he and I got into a friendly debate during the last WGA strike? He too is a FORMER Scientologist. Once upon a time a scathing expose like this would topple the institution in question. But today? Does anything really outrage us anymore to take action? Oh, right. Brian Williams was suspended. CITIZEN FOUR is another terrifying documentary that won’t correct any unconscionable injustice but did win an Academy Award.

Uh oh. I’m getting political. Whenever I do I can expect a rash of angry commenters. And speaking of commenters -- yes, Anonymous, we get it – you don’t like readers. Move on. See, this is why I like to edit. I say “commenters” twice in two sentences. Normally I would go back and change one of them.

What photo should I post? Lots of possibilities but since there’s nothing specific I’m going to go with Natalie Wood. Does everyone have that one actor or actress they never got over? That’s probably normal and healthy (unless it’s Tom Cruise – seriously, he’s a fucking imbecile).

Okay, I’m wrapping it up. I don’t know how interesting the actual writing was. And I’m not going back – so excuse me if there are typos or words missing – but if I didn’t just post this I could probably get a few days worth of topics from this exercise. Stupid lyrics, the value of rewriting, penmanship, the Scientology movie – maybe a parody where the Pope has to talk a nun into sleeping with Mel Gibson. None of those ideas were in my head a half hour ago. The point is – ideas lead to other ideas; even if some are bad. But a blank page or blank screen leads to nothing. Start typing.

34 comments:

Scott Cason said...

Who is SHE?!!

Oat Willie said...

The old writers' standby of typing total enraged gibberish to wake up the muse. Happy to join the gibber, but how about pix of Natalie from "Bob & Carol..."

ally said...

One random Sunday after I moved to NYC about 20 years ago, I turned on the tv and VH1 was having a Cop Rock marathon. I did not leave my apartment until I saw all 11 episodes. OMG, it was bad, but I simply couldn't leave until I knew how it ended. I've had over a thousand Sundays since then, but I still have a soft spot for Cop Rock and the absolutely pointless day I spent watching it. So yes, Cop Rock was a failure and by all accounts one of the worst tv shows ever, but I appreciated the work that went into it.

tavm said...

Oh, Ken, I can totally understand your Natalie Wood fixation. To paraphrase Bevis and Butthead, "Wood is part of her name...heh, heh, heh..."

Roger Owen Green said...

If I know what I want to write about, I can write. sometimes, I just throw a bunch of unrelated bits together, and sometimes, something coherent happens.

Igor said...

My hunch is the unconscionable injustice depicted in Citizen Four will be rectified by a bullet to the back of the head - an American bullet from an American gun held by a Russian hand. (Or maybe a Bulgarian hand, like the one that held the umbrella that killed Georgi Markov.)

Igor said...

... as ordered by a Russian President.

Tom Quigley said...

One of my adolescent crushes was Shelley Fabares of THE DONNA REED SHOW and several Elvis movies. When I finally lived in Los Angeles in the 1990's it took me writing a parody of her '60s pop music hit "Johnny Angel" and a mutual friend to finally meet her, but I did -- and she was just as lovely in person as I could have hoped. You ain't gonna see me posting pics of her on a regular basis on my blog, though. :-)

Igor said...

@tavm -

The spokesman for UK's Labour Party is Ed Balls from Outwood.

Johnny A. said...

When I read that NBC had ok'd COACH with Craig T. Nelson signing on, my first hope is that Shelley will also return. Say, Ken, with your connections to MASH and to Capt. Hunnicut, maybe you could get the scoop for us?

I don't think Neil Diamond is close to middle age any more.

Anonymous said...

since you asked, you need more photos of
Jennifer Aniston

Please.
Thank you, and do more "core" dumps like this, which is what I thought you were doing most of the time.

Anonymous said...

Great post Ken. I recall Christopher Nolan described how he wrote "inception" - never to have the writer's block. Just write and dream, he said.


Today is a long day at the office, got 11 scripts to read.
Big lunch. Big coffee today.

Remember,
Keep re-writing
and keep watching
the movies you love!!!!

Paul Duca said...

Interesting you mentioned "I Say A Little Prayer" and "A House Is Not A Home"...both songs were interpolated (added) into the score of the Broadway revival of PROMISES, PROMISES, from which comes "Turkey Lurkey Time"

Curt Alliaume said...

Ken, you think Neil Diamond is still middle aged. Heh.

VP81955 said...

Ken, stream-of-conciousness writing doesn't become you. Just my thought.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

In the latest hollywood reporter, they ask several show runners how they overcome writer's block. Some said they don't get it, some say they just keep writing, and one said, "I masturbate".


Naomi Larson said...



* Your writer’s block tip was a swell one… Perhaps reading Ken Levine’s Blog is the cure for writer’s block…if not, it’s certainly food for thought…
Listening to #jango ... that Matchbox 20 (lol), song be like That ...."she spends her days up in the north park,
Watching the people as they pass
And all she wants is just
A little piece of this dream,
Is that too much to ask
With a safe home, and a warm bed,
On a quiet little street
All she wants is just that something to
Hold onto, that’s all she needs".....DEEP #life

David G. Whitham said...

I don't care what writing exercise you need to use to solve writer's block, but if it includes Natalie Wood, I hope you have to post these exercises daily.

Cap'n Bob said...

Any post that lambastes the Scientology Crime Syndicate is jake with me.
I think "Say a Little Prayer" is Aretha's best song.
In fandom, this kind of writing is called nattering. I enjoy it.

Jabroniville said...

It seems like everyone has a negative opinion of $cientology now except for $cientologists. A big expose ripping on them really won't change that, and they'll go on being what they are. The only thing that would make an impact is their leader David Miscavige could be arrested for the crimes he allows to happen (or commits himself).

Did the American public used to get outraged by huge breaking stories like that? I'm too young to remember.

Jon B. said...

Ken, I think the implication about the hot Persian girl from HOMELAND was not that Tom can't get laid on his own, but that, well, he needs a vetted beard, if you know what I mean (and not that there is anything wrong with that).

MikeK.Pa. said...

Saw the GOING CLEAR doc and went out and got the book of the same name by Lawrence Wright on which it was based. Very thorough and well researched and worth reading.

Regarding Natalie Wood, I was working at a newspaper when I heard the news on late Sunday afternoon that Thanksgiving weekend. I had been married less than six months. For a week I was in a deep funk over her death, as if I had lost someone in my family. My wife couldn't understand it and I couldn't explain why.

Natalie was just so vulnerable that everyone felt they needed to protect her. To die the way she did - in water, which she feared - made it only more tragic.

I've never seen a bad photo of her. Keep them coming whenever you get stuck for a photo post. I won't mind.

Johnny Walker said...

I really enjoyed that! Your stream of consciousness is entertaining and manages to stay coherent. Perfect stuff for a talk radio DJ... as I said at the time you did your MARILU shows. Seriously, I usually DESPISE DJs as they scramble to say anything to fill the airwaves, but, as the above post confirms, you're able to stay entertaining, interesting and coherent.

There, that was all straight out of my head, too. Not nearly as entertaining, though.

D. McEwan said...

I thought the Scientology documentary was brilliant, and gave further fuel to our drive to tax churches.

Dixon Steele said...

Having just read Bacharach's memoir last year, it was interesting to learn that virtually every song started with David. In other words, BB needed the lyrics before he could write the music.

Including "chair".

David P said...

Is there a post? I got as far as the picture...

Clarence Odbody said...

I liked Cop Rock.

Ron Jacobs said...

Aloooow--hahhhh!

Cup of tin-lined coconut.

http://tinyurl.com/neo57jz

Zap -- you are Post-Morganized

!!!

Ron Jacobs said...

To the youth of the world, from Israel and Jacobs. Aloha oh aku.

https://www.facebook.com/ron.jacobs.1272

gottacook said...

Dixon Steele: Thanks, I didn't know there was a Bacharach memoir. One of his most gorgeous songs has Hal David lyrics that boil down to "I am totally submissive to you, even though you rejected me" - but when I (attempt to) improvise on it at the piano, I don't have to think about the lyrics. ("Any Old Time of the Day")

Similarly, a wretched TV drama script has been known to elicit terrific music; my favorite example is the third-season Star Trek episode "The Empath" with original score by George Duning (best known, probably, for From Here to Eternity).

D. McEwan said...

Clarence, I'm with you. I enjoyed Cop Rock, and watched the entire series twice.

RCP said...

At least Hal David wasn't responsible for "like the circles that you find in the windmills of your mind."

Greg Thompson said...

Listen to the whole song, Ken! It's not all about chairs. Hal David starts with "a chair is still a chair" in the first verse, then broadens it in the next verse to "a room is still a room," then brings it home with a "a house is not a home." That's some nice songwriting structure IMO and one of my favorite Hal David lyrics.

Ex-Microsoftie said...

Fun fact: at the post-mortem meeting to explain why Microsoft Bob went so sideways, Bill Gates was so impressed with the person responsible for the product that he suggested he would like to see more of her. That woman, Melinda French, is now Melinda Gates. So I would say that at least one person probably thinks of Microsoft Bob as a successful product.