Local film: Revolting

We went to see the premier of the locally produced indy film Revolting last week—a fine movie.

It’s the story of a writer of serious plays, who had written one frivolous piece for his wife that had gone on to be a huge success, launching his wife’s acting career, and making the local theater group a bunch of money.  Now divorced, and with his serious plays all flops, he finally gives in to pressure to write a sequel to his one lighter piece, only to have his characters start complaining about the quality of his writing—at first on the page, and then in person.  And, since he visualizes his characters as the local actors likely to play them, the result is confusion for the character and humor for the audience.

I’m always a big fan of movies that accurately portray the writing life—movies like “Shakespeare in Love,” for example—and that’s where this movie is at its best.  The scenes where he’s preparing to write—dusting and cleaning his workspace, arranging his paper and notecards in perfectly aligned rows and stacks—are wonderful.

Unless you’re local to Champaign, I don’t know if you’ll have much of a chance to see “Revolting,” but if the opportunity arises (and you’re interested in accurate portrayals of the writing life), don’t miss it.

There’s a surprisingly active bunch of local filmmakers.  We’ve previously seen the local films Disconnect, Act Your Age and Press Start, after having gotten started seeing premiers of local films with “Gamerz” which was shown at WorldCon in Glasgow—also a locally produced film, but local to Scotland, rather than Central lllinois.  All are worth seeing, if you get a chance.

Taiji, manuscripts, database

Today was Taiji class.  The instruction is following an interesting direction.  It’s our third class, but we have yet to do a taiji form.  Instead, we’re learning pieces.  We spent two days doing the upper-body parts of Cloud Hands one-handed.  Today we did them two-handed for the first time.  Separately, we’ve done several bits of footwork:  shifting weight, empty step, etc.  We’ve not yet done anything that combines upper-body and lower-body motions.  However, I have a strong sense that we’re building a proper foundation.  By the time we do our first actual piece of the form, I expect we’ll have most of the moves for doing the whole thing.

Got some writing-related work done today.  I put two manuscripts in the post.  I also revitalized my old submission-tracking database, which I hadn’t gotten properly set up when I got a new computer several years ago.  I wasn’t actively submitting manuscripts, so it didn’t seem urgent.  Then when I started sending them out again I didn’t want to wait to get my tracking system working, so I just did the tracking in a spreadsheet.  Today I got the old tracking system working again, and moved over all the data from the spreadsheet.  So, I once again have complete submission information for all my manuscripts, including a few old manuscripts that hadn’t yet been submitted to every market.

Contributors copies of US Airways Magazine

US Airways Magazine is running my Wise Bread article Understand Capital Costs in their section “The Gist.”  It appears on page 22 of the October 2009 issue.  I got my contributors copies in the mail today.

I’m not sure what day they actually change out the magazine onboard the planes, but I assume for the next month or so airline passengers will be reading my article!

Jackie on the Bus

Jackie on the Bus (photo by Philip Brewer)
Jackie on the Bus (photo by Philip Brewer)

We were both heading out yesterday, Jackie to downtown Champaign for lunch and then a meeting with her fellow spinners, I to the south end of the research park where the Fitness Center was letting local Yahoo employees (and friends like me) renew our discount memberships.

Jackie’s bus left three minutes before mine, so I had a chance to take this photo.  I did some pretty heavy processing in iPhoto, mostly adjusting the levels so as to emphasize Jackie’s face at the cost of washing out things like the brick wall behind the bus.  I’m rather pleased with the way it came out.

Getting outdoors

"Bee on Clover" by Philip Brewer
"Bee on Clover" by Philip Brewer

I do fine at getting outdoors enough in the summer.  In the winter, though, I’m prone to spend far too much time indoors.

There’s a sidewalk around the interior of our apartment complex that makes for a fine short walk.  (It takes about seven minutes, so I think it’s probably close to a third of a mile.)  In the summer, I might do that walk at any time.  In particular, I do it while I’m writing, when I find that the prose isn’t flowing.  That’s usually a sign that I’ve taken a misstep in the story, and a seven-minute walk is often just what I need to figure out where I’ve gone astray.

In the winter, though, I don’t do that, because the cold and the snow turn the little walk into a big production.  Changing into outdoor clothes (and then out of them again) can easily double the time for taking a quick walk, so instead of being seven minutes it’s a quarter of an hour.  Plus, I figure if I’m making that kind of investment of time, I ought to do more than just walk around the block–I should get a real walk in, or run an errand.

That kind of thinking leads to trying to optimize my time–scheduling my walk not when I need a short break from writing to get back on track, but when I need to go to the bank or pick up something at the grocery store.  And if I don’t have any such chore to justify the outing, I tend to just stay indoors all day.  (One of the few upsides of having a regular job was that it did get me out every day.)

Since I know I’ll feel better if I do get out everyday, even if just for a few minutes, I’m thinking of creating an artificial errand:  taking a picture.  I figure it’s something that can be added onto any actual errands I have–I can just bring the camera along.  If it seems like a day for a longer walk, I can take the camera along for that, too.  And if it’s not a day for a long walk–if I’m busy, or the weather’s bad–I can just as easily take a picture on a short walk.

When I get a picture that I’m pleased with, I’ll post it here.  This one’s from a day or two ago.  When I was a boy, one had to be careful walking across a field of clover because there’d always be bees around.  This summer, finding a bee on a clover was a rare treat.

Angel of Memory

My dad got a copy of The Ninth Letter, the University of Illinois literary magazine, and after looking at it sent it along to me.

The goal of this issue seemed to be to produce a physical object was as important as the content, and what they’ve produced is full of stuff–posters, cards, etc.

One thing in it was set of pieces of cardboard to be folded and then assembled (with the addition of a penny as a weight) into a little cardboard toy called the Angel of Memory.  Jackie put it together.  I grabbed this video with my camera.  I forgot that there’s no easy way to rotate video, so you’ll have to turn your head 90 degrees to the right to see it properly.

angel of memory

(I may be missing some trick, but it seems that you have to follow that link, and then click on another link in the page that comes up to see the video.)