Friday, April 28, 2006

Calming Calendar Chaos

One of the things that Stephanie and I spoke about earlier this week was the need for me to jump back into the "swing of things" with Dr. Warson's Back Book as soon as the Emergency Edit for He Who Will Not Call was finished.

Well, the edit is finished, and it's time to get back to writing work.

Stephanie wanted me to write out a realistic Project Map for May that would enable me to finish the project by the end of the month. I spent a little time doing that yesterday. I then went one step further, and wrote in ALL of my daily and weekly time and work commitments. I also wrote in time commitments that I'm aware of that will necessitate being away from the project (driving to the airport, entertaining house guests...).

It seems like such a simple, obvious solution to getting a handle on the project -- and it is, in a way. I told Stephanie that I'd done a sort of similar map for March, and another one for April. In both cases, Emergency Projects arose that necessitated a restructuring of my time commitments.

Knowledge of past shortcomings, however, should not be allowed to stunt future successes. It was a good exercise to do the Map (again). It reminded me that the project still need shepherding, that there is less margin for error now than in March, that my "schedule" is fluid, and extremely difficult to plan in advance, and that I have a heck of a lot to do in a short time.

If you're looking at the backside of a big project, I would encourage you to do the same sort of exercise. Mentally determine how many hours you need to Get It Done. Then take the month of May (starting Monday, at a theater near you -- ready or not!) and make a plan. Be realistic. Allot a certain number of hours a day to work on the project. See what it's going to take to either finish the thing, or at least make a sizeable dent in it.

Then, stick with it. Past unforseen emergencies, past scheduling difficulties, current social and professional stresses should not color the Map. Start afresh, with a clean calendar slate, and make a Plan.

Recent Entertainment Rundown

* Aeon Flux -- Nearly unwatchable. Style over substance all over the place. A movie made without a screenplay. Beyond awful (which is unfortunate, because it could have been cool).

* Tristan & Isolde -- Better than I expected. Didn't think I'd be able to buy James Franco as anything but a two-dimensional character. Pleasantly surprised. Also glad to see Rufus Sewell as someone other than The Bad Guy.

* Casanova -- It's difficult to be objective about any movie with Heath Ledger in it, 'cause I'm a fan. But 4 of us watched this the other night and we all enjoyed it enormously. One of the most fun movies I've seen in awhile. The "R" rating is inexplicable. "Tristan & Isolde," at PG-13, had much more of what makes for an "R." I'll watch it again and again, but since Mr. Ledger's in it, that goes without saying...

* Stay -- I saw this in the theater, and don't mind admitting that I didn't "get it." I liked it, but didn't get it. Robert and I discussed it and, after much conversation, he hit on a Theory. Watched the DVD recently with Karen, who hadn't seen it, and realized that Robert had hit upon the Key to the film. Makes much more sense the second time through. Interesting direction and a freaky, non-linear story line make it worthwhile, regardless of whether the plot is accessible or not.

* Take the Lead -- Fun to watch, but impossible not to view it as a "Dirty Dancing" remake. Inspired by a real person, but I'm sure so much license was taken with the story that the real Pierre Dulaine (the ballroom teacher who taught dancing to inner-urban kids) wouldn't recognize himself. Still, the theatergoers laughed at all the right parts. And the dancing really is cool.

* Lucky Number Slevin -- Skewered in some reviews as uninspired, unimaginative, and a rip-off of 10 year old films like "Pulp Fiction" and "the Usual Suspects." Made me wonder if the reviewers saw the same movie I did. Extremely entertaining. Josh Hartnett (another one who usually makes 2-dimensional character choices) does a very good job. A stellar cast, crazy story line, interesting visual composition, and creative direction make this my favorite current release. I'd see it again.