Big giant head


In Other News

Preparations are afoot for Zoe's upcoming birthday.

Grandpa Jack sprang for a giant clubhouse/swingset/jungle gym/slide thingie -- one of those huge redwood monstrosities that takes up half the back yard -- and it's going to be installed Thursday. And then Saturday is the day of the big party, so we're preparing ourselves for an onslaught of dozens of screaming kids, kids who will be screaming with excitement because we're also trucking in a petting zoo and a pony ride. A clown may be included. I fear for our lawn.

Yes, we're going completely overboard for this. But what the hell, it's her first birthday party. You don't turn three every day, after all. But we'll be paying for it every day...for months.


Tuesday - March 9, 1999
No Time

I don't really have a lot to say tonight... No, wrong. Let's try that again.

I have a lot to say tonight but I don't really have the time. Better.

After months of sloth and an intermittent work schedule, suddenly I find myself working a lot and pressed for time. I've been working maybe three days a week, teaching two classes per day lately, but for the next month I'm doing five days a week and there are a few days where I'm teaching three classes. Tomorrow's one of those days: I have classes at 8:30 and 1:00 in Long Beach, then a 4:30 class in Hawthorne. This schedule's making for long days and a lot of driving, but the rewards are long cash and...well, longer cash with the mileage allowance.

It's good to work, it's good to make money, but damn, could it have come at a worse time? I promised my agent a SportsNight script in two weeks and the very next day learned that I'd have virtually no time in which to write it. Oops. I'm still doing it, of course. Like I said last time, this is my last go 'round on the staffing E-ticket ride and it would run slightly counter to making the most of that ride to put off writing the script, but it'll be hard. Doubly hard, now that I've been breaking the show down. Still, I'm shooting to have it in the can by next Saturday.

My process when readying to write a new spec is to tape several weeks of the show in question, then sit down with pen and pad to watch it and take notes. And more notes. And more notes. I work out how many scenes there are per act, where and what the beats are in each scene, how the stories unfold, how many stories there are per episode, how those stories interplay, how much and what kind of physical comedy there is, how jokes are set up and paid off, how scenes are entered and exited, how the acts break... Etcetera, etcetera. As you might imagine, the Pause button gets quite a workout.

I've been doing this with SportsNight and all I can say, now that I'm spelunking beneath the outstanding veneer of the show, is: Wow. This is one tight show. Previously I'd have told you off the cuff that they probably have an A and a B story, which is true. But they also usually have what borders on C and D stories as well. These may not rise to the level of full fledged stories, per se, but they're integral to the episode. A passing D story remark in Scene Two can and does pay off the A story in Scene Seven so strongly that the show would fall apart without it. It's remarkable how complex the episodes are. This show is written like a Swiss watch -- and I don't mean Swatch. It's a wondrous thing to see...and a little intimidating, too. I hope I can do it justice.

Hmm... I guess I had more time than I thought. Although looking at my watch I see that I didn't; I just took longer on this than I'd anticipated and now I'll lose sleep because of it. Ah, the sacrifices I make for my readership.

Until next time...


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Copyright © 1999
Chuck Atkins