Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Process Letter G4-3

Annotation 7: The Member of the Wedding
Annotation 8: The Bear
The General Bibliography
The Annotated Bibliography
Course Equivalents

Dear John,

I find it amazing how the subconscious can juxtapose the damnedest things. I spent last night at my girlfriend's place, and although this happens a few times a week, I always have the strangest dreams. She lives on the fifth floor of a high rise above 13th Ave which is a busy one street going into downtown. She leaves the door open at night, so the ambient sounds of the city come in. This is pleasant at night, but the morning traffic is so invasive, that I wonder how healthy it is? By comparison, my house is in a quiet residential neighborhood, and when here, we wake up to the sounds of birds and crickets. Anyhow, while still asleep, the sound of traffic was invading my dream in an odd way. The dream was the worst kind. Occasionally, I dream I'm in the military again. Although I reflect on my experience with a sort of bitter-sweet fondness, these military dreams are horrifying. It's like I'm the man I am today and I'm stuck being in the Army, and the fear of this is simply that I don't want to be there. So, in this Army dream, the dorms at Goddard where like military barracks, and you and our advising group were a squad on our way to graduation. I was panicked because I was not prepared for whatever it was we were supposed to do. The panic worsened as I was shuffling through papers trying to find what it was I needed to do. The sound of the shuffling papers was so loud that I was getting more and more stressed about the activity. As I woke up in a freight, the sound of the traffic five floors down proved to be the same sound as the shuffling of papers. I realize that so much of the horror of a dream is lost in the telling that the recount here seems silly. Janice was in the kitchen, nearly ready to leave for work when I charged through looking for my notebook. I had this horrible fear that I missed a deadline- the deadline for this packet. Needless to say, it's already been an intense day. As I write this letter, the sense of urgency has subsided somewhat, but I'm still feeling kind of funny.

Life in Denver is getting more and more frustrating. If I let my mind wander outside of Denver, I realize life everywhere is frustrating. Can you believe the climate of the country right now? These last few weeks have been unbelievable, haven't they? The political, economic and well-being of the country, as crazy as it sounds, has been on my mind in recent weeks. Business has slowed down somewhat, my house still hasn't sold, nor do I think it will any time soon. And the looks on people's faces as I wander the streets of Denver are dreadful. Last Sunday night I went to the PS Lounge, a Greek bar on East Colfax, for a drink. Knowing my tendency with gin, I opted to bring only ten dollars which is a rough translation of two gins and a tip. The bar was empty, there were two Russians in a booth shouting at one another in their own tongue. At the bar, Pete, the old Greek who owns the place was talking to the bartender. I've never seen the place with an equal number of patrons to workers. I waved to Pete when I sat down. “Hello Thin man,” he said. He calls me this because of the years I ran a bar called the Thinman. As I settled into the first G & T he came over to sit with me. We talked about the good times. He recounted the forty years of the PS Lounge. He kept buying me drinks. The Russians were behind us, their conversation reaching fortissimo. I kept wondering, how are things going to continue here in town? Economic ruin is one thing, loss of morale is something else, but why does it have to happen in the Autumn? Things are so much more grim as the threat of winter approaches. And that's when it occurred to me, it's time to dig-in for wintertime. An economic winter, what a thought, right? Well, as midnight approached the PS Lounge, I left. The cool walk home through the neighborhoods, city park and the golf course would be a quiet and welcomed treat. There were no cars on the street, no people walking, and I didn't see a single prostitute on Colfax. The sheer abandonment of town was something I'd never seen before, not even during the wild snow storms of March. Has the mood here changed that drastically, or is it my perception of things? Well, John, what do you think? Are you noticing similar things in Norfolk?

In other Denver news, I've stayed quite busy. I'm going to be interviewing filmmakers, and audience members at the second annual G.I. Joe film festival on October 9th. This film festival is so weird. It's stop-motion animation with those little G.I. Joe dolls. Check it out at www.gijoefest.com, you'll agree, it's weird. I know the producers of the festival, and it is a great honor to work with them. I guess the interviews are part of a documentary to help them promote the festival. I got a sneak peak last weekend, and it is exciting. Oh, and Saturday I got a hard copy of “The Speer Bridge” which was a short (7 minutes) film I acted in last May. If you're interested in seeing it, I'll figure out a way to put it on the Internet. “The Speer Bridge” is the third film I've been in, and I can say the finished product is much more interesting than the process. It's probably an ego thing with me, I like to see the finished product, but I think the work is so boring. During this project, I wasn't even close to being off book when I showed up for the first shoot. The scenes are done again and again and again and again, well, you get the idea- it's boring. This short is pretty cool, the director did a good job.

Well, down to business, I send you packet three with great excitement. All these odds and ends were pretty easy to accomplish once I got started. The bibliographies, as I stated in my Process Paper, would have been more beneficial had I done them at the end of each semester. Likewise, the same is true for the course equivalents. I am grateful to have these things as a requirement for the program. Having these finished at the end of the program, it really gives me a sense of accomplishment which is something I value. Additionally, I have the last two annotations included. There isn't much I want to say about them.

Work on my manuscript is going well. I did look up Aisling, you were right, I had that misspelled. Aisling means dream, which I knew, but what I didn't know is that it is a relatively new name. You and Jeanne differed on one major point. Your thoughts on Aisling were very different than those of Jeanne's. Jeanne thinks the major relationship in the story is that between Carmichael and Frau Gernhert, rather than the Carmichael and Aisling. Needless to say, that has been a difficult thing to think about. I'm starting to think more about Frau Gernhert, and those thoughts are helping me out. I'm pleased with the focus on her character and that relationship. I've had a great mode of work too. I realized today after the fear of the dream was wearing off that I have only three weeks left to work on this before submission. What a thought that is. I'm pleased with my work habits, and I'm pleased with the project too. I suppose if I'm honest, I'm pleased that it is almost complete, and my, how fast the time goes.

Well, until next time John, be well. I look forward to your response. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Process Letter G4-2/Goddard


Annotation 2: “Kneller's Happy Campers”
Annotation 3: Things that Hang from Trees
Annotation 4: The Fox
Annotation 5: The Easter Parade
Annotation 6: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
The Process Paper

Dear John,

Thank you for the prompt return of packet one. For some reason I thought the manuscript didn't come back until the third packet. In a way, I'm glad this was my misunderstanding. While I was planning the semester, I made sure everything else was finished early so I could focus on the revisions. So, I am grateful indeed to be able to focus so heavily on my manuscript.

I find it funny at how small this packet feels. Not counting this process letter, I only have 30 pages written, which makes this the shortest packet to date. I've already got all my work finished for packet number three, and that packet is almost half the size of this one. Again, more time to work on my manuscript.

Things are settling down here in Denver. The DNC was unbelievable. I thought about you so often during the daily events. It's unfortunate you couldn't have been here for it. The crowds of people were astonishing for the relatively peaceful streets of Denver. As an aside, I've seen crowds of people in my time, hell, I lived in Mexico City. I've known a crowd. These crowds were different. The marching protests ran the gamut. Of course, anytime there is a group of twenty people, the Jesus-folks always show up. Their banners and chants reminded me of those cyclops men in The City of Lost Children. The preachy ones always baffle me, I mean, really, what do they do in their everyday lives? The anti-war folks made me happy, I'm glad they still exist. Even the silly signs “make love, not war” made me giddy. I suppose I have always believed as much, but rather than saying such things myself, I'm generally busy making love, or trying to. There was even a group of people trying to stop bird porn. Yes, that's right, bird porn. Apparently, looking at birds causes sexual arousal. Now taking that one step further, John McCain is an avid bird watcher. The people on the streets were such a treat to see.
The mood of the entire convention was positive. People were happy, excited, and a feeling of hope pervaded. During the nightly speeches, every restaurant, every store, and everyone with a radio downtown had every word blasting. People were cheering in the streets. It reminded me of all the ticker-tape parades of LIFE photographs of times gone past. And above all, we were making some serious money. I've been in the service industry for a long time, and I have made great money, and this convention reminded me of the olden days when people had money, and people went out. I suppose that was a time before fear rose and the economy fell. For the first time in many, many months, my optimism has grown. I don't believe the next DNC will have the same mood that this one had, but sometime in your life, promise me you'll see one. I suppose the GOP would be something to see too, if you like police, bullets, gas, and one anger mob.

Other news in Denver, autumn is near, and my house hasn't sold yet.

The packet work was pretty easy for me to do this go around. My annotations were fun, mostly I enjoyed the reading. Etgar Keret's novella was more stunning the second time I read it. I'll get into that more in a minute. I enjoyed reading The Fox more than I liked annotating it. I think of all the books and annotations I've been through, this is the first time for that. I'm sure there are entire courses out there on this little book. By contrast, I loved annotating Mark Haddon's book. Funny thing too, it was one of the worst books I've ever read. If you should meet Mark Haddon at a party, please don't tell him, and heaven forbid he should read anything of mine. Incidentally, the biggest treat of the entire semester's reading list was The Easter Parade by Richard Yates. I grateful to have read it, and I can honestly say I've never read anything like it. I chose to write my annotation on the secondary characters, but there was something much more striking about the novel on a personal level. The year in the opening of the book is 1930, and it opens with divorce. As I thought about the lives of the Grimes sisters, the dates of the novel's events became more interesting. Yates wrote the book in 1976. I was born in 1972, making me the tail end of Generation X. My parents, like so many of my generation were divorced when I was young. I know parents are still divorcing today, but not like it was in the 1970s. I think his book was popular in its day because of this pandemic of divorce, parenting and childhood. I'm sure this statement would have to have plenty of research, so I'm leaving you with a thank you for the recommendation, the novel meant something to me.

Back to Etgar Keret. I could loosely place this book into the dystopia genre. I've become very interested in the dystopia during my time at Goddard. Shortly before I started at Goddard, I reread Orwell's 1984, and Huxley's Brave New World. My first semester, I happened to chance upon Zamyatin's WE, which absolutely blew my mind. In the same fashion, Keret's “Kneller's Happy Camper's” was similar to the others. There was a society slight off from regular life, there was a girl, and a quest. What struck me was ideal in Keret's story was how cool and hip they were, and how simple the desires of the characters were. I doubt Keret's book will go down in history as one of the great dystopia's of the 21st century, but it is worth the read.

Since I have already written all the annotations I need to, my reading has taken a different turn. I recently read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and it has replaced Wuthering Heights as my favorite novel. Shelley had a bit of the taste of the dystopia, but that's not why I loved it so much. I'm still puzzling over who the narrator really was, was it Mrs Saville who received letters from Robert Walton who retold the story told by Victor Frankenstein himself? Brilliant. I followed up Shelley's novel with a curious little science fiction novel by Pierre Boulle. Neither one of the 2001 or the 1968 film adaptations could give Boulle's Planet of the Apes the justice it deserved. Boulle's views on animal testing are very clear, and the human race in his story get their just rewards. The next book on the docket is the grandfather of dystopia: Utopia by Thomas More. I guess when it comes down to this dystopian interest of mine, these books can never exist unless there was once a utopia. And I don't believe any of these books can come true for us, as we have never had utopia. We live in a mis-topia, I suppose, but the satyr in these novels are stimulating.

Well, enough of this droning on, at least for now. Thanks again for the quick reply on my manuscript. I have looked over your notes, and I tend to agree with most of what you've said. As far as the comma splices at the end of the dialogue in the story, I was completely unconscious of it. I see the errors of my way now, and I assure you these are the first items to be corrected. I look forward to the work with excitement.

Thanks for all your hard work, patience and diligence, I appreciate working with you.