So you’re too old to write a book, huh?

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People think of all sorts of reasons as to why they can’t write. Yesterday my reason was I was tired because I’d been up late the night before, sick from something I ate. It was 8 PM, and as I plunked myself down in front of the TV to watch something, anything, off the TIVO, I congratulated myself for taking it easy. “I deserve some down time,” I thought. “I’m tired,” I thought. Then this morning I was reminded of this story, which I’d read about before: Brian May, guitarist for the band “Queen”, has recently completed his dissertation and oral exams for a PhD in astronomy.
It took him a while to finish his dissertation, obviously. He was busy writing some of the best rock songs ever recorded and touring with the band Queen. Thirty years, but he did it.
What was my excuse again? Oh, yeah… I was tired.

CBS Was Warned on ‘Kid Nation,’ Documents Show – New York Times

The New York Times explains why I’m glad I: 1) write novels and stories rather than shoot TV productions; and 2) that I never entered my kid into a reality TV show.

CBS puts kids into danger for “Kid Nation.”

But after the production ended in mid-May, the parent of one child in the production complained to state officials that the children’s treatment bordered on abuse. Four children received medical treatment for accidentally drinking bleach, one child was burned on her face with hot grease while cooking in an unsupervised kitchen, and most of the children were required to work 14 hours or longer per day. They received a payment of $5,000 for their participation.

Who are the parents who put their kids into this thing?
Update: the first thing I thought about when reading this story was this novel: Battle Royale.

Everybody jump on the Oprah Express

From the “What the F()@$ Was He Thinking” Dept.: Author pretends to be Oprah Bookclub pick.
I’m surprised anyone noticed.
This is so sad, but not too far removed from sending materials to an agent or editor with “requested material” printed on the envelope when the agent or editor hasn’t ever even talked to you. Some people are so desperate for success (in whatever form they think it should come) that they set aside how the world works and leap. At least in this case the guy leaped and only made himself look like an ass. Sadder cases are those who leap and cheat/steal/hurt others, all in the name of a few bucks, filling the hole in their soul, or maybe just to get their name in the paper.
The ironic thing is, I think that this whole affair makes for a compelling story. If only he’s written it instead of doing it.
From his website (via the Cape Cod News):

“I am very honored that my new novelette, Crossed Paths, has been selected as an edition (sic) to Oprah’s Book Club. This prestigious recognition paved the way to my appearance on “Oprah” in May 2007. Click here to view a copy of the transcript from the show.
Crossed Paths, based on a true story, is also being developed into a feature film.
– From a recent version of Bill Schneider’s home page, www.billschneider.us, which also featured a five-page transcript of what he claimed was his appearance on Oprah Winfrey’s TV show. (See below)
“I am very happy that my novelette, Crossed Paths, is also being developed into a feature film.” – From www.billschneider.us yesterday.

Research

Times Square New York CityResearch can be fun. A WIP I’ve been working on demanded – demanded, I say – that I get a small digital camera and head to Times Square in New York City. The fact that I live in NYC, and work about a 1/2 mile from Times Square makes this easy. Thing is, there was a day when I would have said, “I don’t know the details about ‘Topic X'” and as a result I either would fake it, making my writing derivative (by stealing from TV shows, movies and other’s writing), or I would avoid it completely, avoid writing about my lack of knowledge, and let the story wither. This time was different.
Times Square New York CityI have a digital camera, but it’s kind of big, so I asked for some advice from my brother. “What camera should I get – small and good quality images?” He had an old one he gave me for next to nothing. I think he only charged me because I wouldn’t have taken it if he hadn’t. Then I had to head over to Times Square. It’s been in the 90s here for a while, with humidity, so I waited until a day when the haze blew away and walked over during my lunch break. It was a hot, long walk, but I got some great photos and my research was complete.
Times Square New York CityWhat I needed was some shots of how the advertising in the Square is connected to the buildings. In essence, I wanted to see the nuts and bolts of the giant screens, the billboards, and the building facades. The fact that I saw several thousand of my closest friend along the way was a bonus.

NYC rules to require film permits for… well… everybody

It’s always nice with government tries to control how art is produced. Here in NYC Mayor Bloomberg has decided that everyone who plans to film in a public place should get a film permit (this would be for two or more people in an area with a camera for more than 30 minutes, or for two or more people in an area with a tripod for 10 minutes).
Guerilla filmmaking is one of the fastest growing and exciting artforms out there today. YouTube gives a wider audience to these small filmmakers than any format in history, and their ability to shoot on the run with very little budget forces their creativity and technique in interesting ways. To demand that they get the same license required of a “Law & Order” shoot is ridiculous. I’ve been a part of guerilla filmmaking. It’s not obtrusive and the public is so unaware of its existence that there is no public support for these new rules. L&O on the other hand shuts down entire streets for hours at a time. I used to live in a part of Brooklyn where “The Squid and the Whale” and “War of the Worlds” were partially shot. Entire streets were closed off for days. A show called “Stella” filmed around the corner from me one afternoon inside a building and their trucks blocked two streets for four hours. Now they want three guys with a handheld camera and a script written on a napkin to get the same permit and shell out the same insurance forms as the big guys?