Friday, January 27, 2012

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I didn't blog Monday, but I have an excuse!

Excuse as follows - I was in the office of my favorite producer re-editing reality show sizzle reels.  Fingers crossed that we hook one.  We've had a great deal of passing interest, but so far no solid bites.  Sigh.

The other thing I've been up to (besides brain eating headaches and uselessness inducing insomnia) is researching how to write a grant proposal.  Conclusion: writing a proposal is a whole lot like writing a book report.  I feel like I'm back in third grade.

The scary bits are the other research.  Or frustrating.  Yeah, frustrating.  Finding what grants you may or may not be eligible for, and the pages of criteria are farking daunting. (Farking is not a real word.  But I'm using it anyway.)

My adventures searching for a real grant writer to do this instead were...interesting.  The big guns were either way too expensive (yeah, the really good ones charge up front fees that make me question my career choices), or far more interested in broader social issues projects.

The smaller guns were mostly useless.  They ranged from people who had never gotten funding/never written a proposal but they got an A in high school English class, to people who's correspondence was so mind blowingly awful that I wondered if they could write their own names correctly within three tries.  And yes, the ones that couldn't spell or construct a sentence wanted money.  Some of them, a lot of money.  I do wonder if they get it.  More likely, someone told them what a great writer they were in an elementary school class some time ago, and they have a huge reality disconnect.

So fuck it.  I'm doing the grant proposals myself.  At least I can write my own name.  And I got straight Os on those third grade book reports.  So I'm hoping that something I did in elementary school will have a direct correlation to something I'm doing $^#%$% years later.  (That one is a word.  Just not one I care to share.)

Some of the following posts will be my continuing adventures in grant proposals, how my kitty mood swings from adorable to incredible asshole in seconds, and how I still don't want to wear pants. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Why I don't edit or proofread these blogs.

Every work of fiction, every piece of text you expect an audience to pay for should have an editor.  Not just your mother/cousin/English teacher, but a bone fide, knows-what-they're-doing, kick butt editor.

That said, I don't even proofread this blog for errors.  Let completely alone edit for content, or logic.

That may seem horribly lazy or counterproductive, or a thousand other negative things, and you're probably right.

This is why:  I have the most evil inner editor on Earth.

Every writer has one; that little person living in your head that makes you go back and check the spelling, polish your dialogue until it gleams, questions whether or not the chosen word is just right for the situation or not.  Usually, this creature is not a bad thing.

Mine is a hellion.  A dominatrix with six inch steel blade heels that will settle for no less than absolute perfection in my fiction.  That will have me reading the entire dictionary and thesaurus for the absolute right word - no exceptions or substitutions allowed.

This is a bad thing.  She is not quiet as I write the first draft of anything.  Rather, she stands behind me, one flashing silvery heel buried in my shoulder, and twists every time I mistype a word, wonder about spelling, or can't think of that perfect adjective.  The slightest interruption?  My fragile bubble of writing is shattered like crystal on concrete, and no amount of yelling or meditation will get it back.  The rest of my writing for the day is shot.  I've kept going after that break.  That infuriating distraction that no normal person can understand, where the page has vanished, my characters cavort around me, and words flow like champagne.

At those times, I write words that are sometimes so beautiful that I can't believe they came from me.  The words outside of inspiration are insipid pap, bland soldiers plodding along through the waist deep muck of mediocrity.  It happened just now.  I try not to snap, because it makes me seem mad.  In both senses.  Perhaps I am.

I don't edit or proof these for two reasons. The first, is that this blog is a conscious effort to try and get that inner editor to shut the hell up for a while so I can produce, rather than spending three days building, tearing down, and reconstructing the perfect paragraph.  That is not an exaggeration.  This bitch is evil.

The second, is my lack of confidence with my own writing, which has to do with the inner editor.  That's why she's so strong, of course.  She wants me to make sure that each of these posts is pristine.  Perfect and error free.  As a human, there is no such thing.  Therefore, if left to her devices, I would never even finish these posts.  There would be no blog,  I would just keep revising forever.

I do hope, that as I continue this daily exercise, I shall be able to use what I've learned here in my fiction writing.  And hopefully be able to work through those well meant interruptions without flying into a frustration induced mini rage.  (Non well meant interruptions are exempt - I can still get pissed off about them.)

Friday, January 20, 2012

I feel like a failure, and quantum physics of light (as per request)

My illustration class, that I'd worked myself up into a tizzy over, has be cancelled due to low registration.  I can't express how disappointed I am about this - but that is not going to make for a fun or interesting blog.  Hadn't been back to school in years, and feeling the creative rut and winter blahs.

And the weevil headache.  Still.  With any luck, it'll consume the pain centers of my brain and I won't have to feel it soon.

My buddy Shadoe requested a post relating quantum physics to lighting on set, which is a great poser.  (I could have taken the easy way out - FireSign Theater - but why start now?)

The allegories are probably going to be tenuous at best, but I'll give this a go.  Might as well start with a mini science lesson.  This is all really basic layman stuff, so feel free to skip it if I'm boring.

Quantum mechanics is fun science for the geektastic laymen like myself because its a relatively new set of studies, and some of the mysteries are intriguing.  I won't pretend to understand the majority of the math (never got past Calc III - I warned you that I'm not that sharp), but we can hit some of the basics.

What is a quanta, anyway?

A 'quanta' in layman's terms (the ones I can understand) are basically the minimum amount of physical interaction of any particle.  For quantum mechanics, this usually refers to the energy of an electron - the teeny particles that whirligig on the outside of an atom.

Metaphorically, this could relate to the amount that I care about a film after running a 16 hour day when production refuses to provide a second meal.

In actuality, I only deal with this at the most rudimentary of levels as an electrician.  While I don't think about this much on set, electricity is, at it's most basic level, the effect of excited free electrons attracting and repelling each other - induced by agitating them through some other power source, typically a generator.  Couloumb's law,  the Leyden jar, all that fun stuff, if you want to dig deeper.   When on set, I'm much more concerned about balancing power and voltage drops, so this is kind of fun for me to write about (thanks Shadoe!).

Ahem, moving on.

For the purposes of this post, let's skip Planck and head right to Einstein. (Planck was more about thermal transfers and radiation, rather than the next theory, that relates more.)

The great light wave/particle weirdness (not really a debate) kind of starts with the discovery of photons.  A photon is like a single, teeny packet of light.

This again, isn't something we think about much on set, but if electricity didn't work this way, we wouldn't have lightbulbs. Thank Heinrich Hertz, who discovered that you could get light from metal. Light bulbs were being developed all over the world before this, but I feel like it was Hertz and Lenard, who came up with the fact that frequency of emission, rather than intensity being responsible for light emission, helped make the lightbulb a practical invention rather than an interesting novelty that both ate tons of power and was hot enough to melt your face off if you got too close.

I'm tangenting again, sorry.

Anyhow.  A dude named Louis de Broglie grabbed onto that wave/particle debate, and ran with it.  While light is a series of particles, those particles behave like a wave.  Without that, we wouldn't have diffraction (the way light can bend, as well as split into colors) and lighting tools would probably be very different than they are.  Lenses like Fresnels, for example, wouldn't 'soften' a beam the way they do, and a great many other tools like gels just wouldn't function in the same way.  While learning the theory doesn't change how light works, it does give us a greater understanding of how to manipulate light, and methods for developing new tools, or fashioning low rent versions of existing ones.

If light didn't bend, for example, reflectors wouldn't work.

Another tool that takes advantage of the wave theory is called a cookaloris, or cookie.  (I don't know where the name comes from, and haven't been able to find a satisfactory answer.)  This is a solid piece of material - usually wooden or metal for those with a budget, I've made them from cardboard - that creates shapes when placed in front of a light.  One of the most interesting details of these, is how you can 'focus' them.  The farther they are from a light source, the clearer and sharper the edges of the shape.  Closer, and you get a softer, less dense shadow with fuzzier edges.

This can be explained with the double slit experiment, performed by Thomas Young and Augustin Fresnel (eh? eh?  There he is!  In case you were wondering where the Fresnel lens came from) in 1827.  You can read up in detail on your own - basically, they discovered a diffraction pattern in light waves when objects (in this case, walls with slits) were placed in front of an object.  More objects also create further diffusion, resulting in layers of harder and softer shadows.  I use this sort of thing all the time at work.

Honestly, Shroedinger and Heisenberg's principles, interesting as they are, can only come into play in the most metaphorical of senses when talking about film lighting.  Mostly the effect that I don't know whether or not this next gig will suck giant donkey balls until I get there or not.  Ahh, uncertainty and the cat in the box applied to freelancing.

Wave function collapse, on the other hand, is integral to making light look the way it does.  As a light wave travels through the air, those teeny particles encounter resistance.  That resistance causes the wave function to collapse and the particles to disperse, meaning the light doesn't go on forever.  In industry lighting, we call that 'fall off', basically where the cast light begins to dim, and finally disperses completely.  Without this happening, we couldn't create dramatic scenes with high intensity key lights and deep shadows.

Some of the other things, like electrical fields, are practically important for safety reasons - like not starting fires and electrocuting actors and co workers.  While you don't have to understand the deeper math involved, having a basic understanding of how electricity works helps ensure the safety of the set.

A quick example would be that using a carrier (most typically an extension cord) that's too small for the voltage draw can start a fire.  Instead of those excited particles running all the way to the lighting unit, they 'flood' the carrier, escaping in the form of heat.  Too much of that, and you can melt the cable, or your co worker.

So, that's my attempt to relate quantum physics theory with practical, on set use.  I hope you enjoyed it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

So I'm trying to blog every day

And this is the beginning of the attempt.  I've opened this page with absolutely no idea of what I'm going to write about, so it'll be a bit stream of consciousness (that's the highbrow phrase for 'I don't know what to say so I'm just going to babble a bunch of random shit and post it').

My big fear is that I'm not that interesting, and I don't have that much to talk about.  What could I possibly do or say every day to keep you guys entertained for five minutes?  Back when I used to babysit, it was much easier - I had kids who were into one thing, and could be entertained for weeks with the same video tape.

...this is going well...

Anyway, things on my mind right now.

I'm taking an illustration course at SVA this semester.  Its been about a decade since I was in school, so I was nervous about that.  Currently, not having a list of needed supplies, not knowing if I can afford them, is taking a back seat to the fact that the school hasn't scheduled a room for the class yet, so I have no idea where I'm going on Monday.

Yeah, the class starts in four days, and I don't know WHERE.  WTF.  I'd forgotten about that particular bit of college joy over the years.  I'm remembering it now.  Hoo boy, am I ever.  I'm the kind of person who wants all that information the week before.

The hot water in my building isn't currently working, so I can't have a shower.  This has not happened here before.  Not fun.  I am also not the sort of person who loves exhilarating plunges into crystalline mountain streams while some invisible dude yodels into brisk mountain air.  First, that shit is COLD.  Second, who the hell is that creepy yodeling dude?  I don't want him looking at me.  What if he's actually invisible, and not just over the next mountain range?  Invisible yodeling creepers are way scarier than the garden variety kid at the end of the block with binoculars.

This is why I shouldn't watch regular tv.  The commercials are way too scary.

I've had a headache for three days straight.  Which sucks.  And I try not to whine about it, but trying to get any proper fiction type writing done while there's a weevil behind your right ear trying to bore into your innocent, unprotected brain matter is nigh impossible.  Then I have guilt and anxiety about not getting anything done, plus a brain weevil.


What do you guys want me to write about?  I've written about writing, photography, film, life on set, and personal junk; cool stuff I find, and stuff that just annoys me.  What do you like to read about the most?  I'll try to do more of that.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Oh %&$^, where do I live again?

This happens to me every time I have to fill out a form.

Over the summer, Boyfriend and I celebrated not having to move from the glorious apartment that we found last August.  It was a big deal for both of us.  Since we've lived together, we moved every single year.  I moved around a lot before that.

Still trying to wrap my head around the idea of 'home' and setting up a space.  The first two or three places that I moved into after college, my roommates and I would fix up and decorate, only to have it then sold out from underneath us, or an unscrupulous landlord suddenly jack the rent up by double.

Now that I'm thinking about, I've probably moved at least once a year every year since 1998.  Holy crap.  Didn't really do the math until now.  That equals roughly a fuckton of different living spaces; some with roommates, some not; some houses, some apartments;  everything from what felt like a timeshare on part of a bathroom in Manhattan, to a five or six bedroom Victorian house with one of those octagonal side-tower deals.

It makes a little more sense now, that I've been having trouble settling in and making any big home purchases.

The other problem, is that I often forget where I live.

Not the actual place, per se.  But the addresses meld together into taffy like amalgams of actual places in my brain, leading mail to end up at places I lived at three years ago, addresses I've never been to, or best, places that don't actually exist.  I'll put the street number of one place, the street name of another, and a zip code of a third (or a zip code misremembered or dislexified so that it doesn't exist at all).

I had that happen again this morning, as I was signing up for a class that I can't really afford, but more importantly, can't afford not to take any longer.

Its a weird, sinking feeling, when you try to fill out the address lines on the form, and can't remember what they are. (Though not as bad as realizing that you've just written alpha numeric pudding of several different ones, and have to ask HR for the paperwork back because you've just managed to screw up your own address...)

I messaged Boyfriend in a panic.  'WHERE DO I LIVE? AAAAAAGGGGH!'

He hasn't responded yet.  Maybe he thinks I'm screwing with him.  I would, but this time its serious.  I was looking around for mail, but I was actually trying to be productive this morning and do some cleaning, so I threw out all the junk mail.

Let this be a lesson - never clean the house, because then you won't know where you live.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The 'I'm still five' edition, where I have a case of the 'why'.

First of all, happy New Year, everybody!

Boyfriend has the day off, so we made grand plans to do some major housecleaning.

Umm, yeah.  As of four p.m. today, we have assembled the last of the new bookshelves (more on that tomorrow), extracted six cases of books, and watched an episode of Dr. Who.  All while still in our pajamas.  Because that's how we roll on days off - gnarly and unshowered, ready for an emergency nap attack.  Which totally happens.

Anyway, I'm craving chocolate cake.  Knowing that any bakery worth going to is probably closed today comes second to the distasteful idea of having to take a shower and actually get dressed.  But we do have cake mix. WOOOO.

(Yes, I do understand the logic gap in laziness that requires me to bake rather than put on pants.  Its just one of those things.)

There's this recipe for rum scotch cake that I absolutely love.  Its super dense, moist, chocolately nirvana.  If anyone wants to try it:

I don't bother with the glaze or the nuts - who puts nuts in chocolate cake?  You put more chocolate. Duh.  I'm out of chips, but I do have a chocolate bar that I'm willing to sacrifice for the cause.  What I do not have, is instant pudding mix.

In the interest of 'no pants Monday', I've started a search about what in the pudding mix is so important to the cake.  Apparently, it makes the cake more moist.  But no one seems interested in WHY.  So far, I've spent about an hour on research trying to figure out what it is that makes this ingredient so magical.  So far, its either saltpeter or animal bones, or some other archaic ingredient that I don't really understand.  Boyfriend thinks we should just suck it up and get dressed.  I totally think we should try making saltpeter in the kitchen, which he says doesn't even go in food.  Whatever.

Boyfriend says we'll blow up the kitchen.  I still think that beats putting on pants, but I think I'm going to get outvoted. The cat is usually neutral, but boyfriend is bigger than I am.

Maybe I'll just go to the grocery store in my pajamas.  They're all festive, with champagne glasses and confetti on them - totally in the spirit of the day.  And it will still be No Pants Monday.  I win.