Venetian Ladies, Frank Cadogan Cowper
Took a walk down Second Street. It’s warm today, sunny and windless. Wide enough for the carriages that once traversed it in Long Beach’s early days, Second Street runs one way, parallels Ocean Boulevard and the long sweep of beach. It’s lined with towering date palms and magnolia trees with hand-sized creamy white blooms always out of my reach, and distinctive homes dating from the late 1890s through the 1940s. A few may date from the fifties, but most of them are great old houses–a Craftsman next to a Spanish hacienda next to a California bungalow next to a Cape Cod. I love looking at them in their architectural splendor. They’ve got character. There is a two-story Craftsman painted two shades of yellow, amber accented with lemon. Its front yard is my favorite, a tangled riot of rose bushes, nasturtium, trumpet flowers, and other verdant flora I can’t identify. A single yellow rose blooms on a bare bush near the fence. Whoever bought the brick house a few corners down has placed two wonderful Hindu statues to each side of the steps. I walked as far as Redondo Avenue, crossed to Ocean and to the bluff. People are out and about, walking dogs, bicycling, strolling in the sunshine. Acacia bushes sweeten the air, and white sails speckle the wrinkled, sky blue sea. Overhead hangs a sliver of moon, a brushstroke of white on cloudless blue, and westward the sun lays a glittering path to the horizon. A lovely Sunday afternoon.
Last night I finished the last dvd of the short-lived television show, PROFIT, and listened to the commentary by the writers after. The commentaries are excellent learning tools for how to write stories for television. One of the writers commented that writing for television is better, creatively, than writing for movies because in movie screenplays too many hands get in the pot but in television, there’s no time to rewrite and rewrite and revise and change and have all these other people putting in their two cents; the script has to be done as written, for the most part. So a television writer’s vision will hit the screen just as he or she envisioned it, while a movie screenwriter is lucky if the screenplay is left alone. The writers talked about creating the characters and how character is structured to fit into story and how story is affected by character. PROFIT, ran 1996-1997, starred Adrian Pasdar, superb as the psychopathic Jim Profit, and was dark, sharp, character-driven, a cutting edge show ahead of its time, canceled after one season because it was too cutting edge for Fox. (It received great critical reviews, but the viewing audience couldn’t hang with an antihero whose lover was his manipulative, treacherous, sexpot stepmother beautifully rendered by Lisa Blount. In fact, in the original script she was actually his mother–OMG. One of the writers said a CBS executive they pitched to basically threw them out of his office when he heard that.) Fox suggested stepmother–okay!). Nowadays it wouldn’t raise an eyebrow, and would be on cable. As Stephen Cannell comments, they didn’t just push the envelope; they tore it. I loved it; hope the dvd is for sale somewhere so I can add it to my collection.
Today’s work was Project B, and last night, I wrote a page on the rewrite of a short story, “A Terrible Thing”, which will need a new title once the rewrite is done, I think.
I hate to see Sunday come to a close.