Friday, September 21, 2007

Everyday Epics


This assignment is about making something big out of the ordinary.

First, to come up with an idea, you'll be making two lists of ten. Side-by-side.

The first list is stuff you need to do regularly, whether it's once a week or once a year or once every few years. Make sure you include stuff that requires the involvement of other people. So, if you do your taxes by yourself, it may not be a good candidate for this. But if you use an accountant or tax service, perfect.

Here's a sample list..

1) Go to the dentist
2) renew my driver's license
3) buy stamps
4) get an oil change
5) visit my family
6) celebrate an anniversary
7) get a haircut
8) celebrate my birthday
9) take cat to vet
10) vote

The second list is one or two things that would either prevent you or inhibit accomplishing this ordinary task.

1) forced to go to new dentist who is a relative
2) counter person hates me
3) long line and slow service at post office
4) usual place closed, have to go to a chain, have an undecipherable coupon
5) my uncle will be there
6) fighting with spouse, but trying to have a nice time at favorite restaurant
7) favorite barber not there, have to use the female stylist
8) everyone wants to make it a bigger deal than I do, or vice-versa
9) cat does not want to go
10) the person checking people in is ultra-pro the party opposite of mine

So, pick the one you think might have the best scene potential. I think a very simple, common task works best for this. I like the idea of going to a chain for an oil change. There are ways to heighten it. It could be a very expensive car. Maybe even an antique, but definitely has a strong emotional connection for the owner. The mechanics keep trying to pad the bill with petty crap. The car owner, who used to use the same guy for the last twenty years, just wants to find an honest mechanic he can trust and build a relationship with longterm.

The assignment is to take a common task or event and turn it into an epic adventure. But keep what makes it an epic true-to-life and personal. A hurricane can certainly make a trip to the vet an adventure, but having such a strong external force can override the characters and relationships. It also takes it out of the realm of common and ordinary. Try to keep the elements as ordinary as possible. In buying stamps, a postal worker doesn't need to go, well, postal, but they can certainly be power-hungry or attention hungry. We've all dealt with difficult relatives or service people. Have that be what makes the scene an adventure.


If you want to get five dollars off the cost of your ticket, go up to the box office and say "I heard Tristan Tzara was a pansy." Then giggle like a schoolgirl.


Yesterday, I asked...

"Matt Wilkinson of Portland, Oregon tried to impress his ex-girlfriend by doing what?"

24% picked "Juggling hand grenades"
- Nope. Besides, it was only one. With a bowling ball and a chain saw. No danger at all.

15% answered "Climbing Mt. Hood naked"
- Nope. Rope burns and frostbite. Puts bad image in my brain.

15% chose "Setting himself on fire"
- Nope. But wouldn't that suck if he did that and it worked? He have to endure a painful, crispy, crunchy love life.

46% got it right with, of all things, "Putting a snake in his mouth"

According to the Associated Press, snake collector Matt Wilkinson of Portland grabbed a 20-inch rattler from the highway near Maupin, and three weeks later, to impress his ex-girlfriend, he stuck the serpent in his mouth. He was soon near death with a swollen tongue that blocked his throat. Trauma doctors at the Oregon Health and Science University saved his life. "You can assume alcohol was involved," he said.