Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Confessions of a Cryptozoology Addict

I have a confession to make. It’s something that I’ve tried to keep under wraps for a while now, but I suspect that those closest to me have already seen the signs and will no doubt soon stage an intervention. So it’s time to come clean.

My name is Carrie, and I’m addicted to monster hunting TV shows. 

I’ve always been into the ghost shows – recreationally, of course. For years, my DVR has been filled with shows like “A Haunting,” (not to be confused with “The Haunted”, also excellent,) “Celebrity Ghost Stories,” “Haunted History,” and of course “The Dead Files” – I loved them all. I even hate-watched those did-you-hear-that ghost hunting shows, in which a bunch of bros stumble around in the pitch black, antagonizing ghosts into making a distant thump or scratchy, inaudible EVP

But, I could quit anytime, I thought.  

Then I started experimenting with more hardcore stuff. Crossover shows that featured both ghosts and monsters, like “Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files,” “Monsters and Mysteries in America,” and my favorite, “Paranormal Witness.” Suddenly I found myself craving more information on Bigfoot and Nessie. I would lie awake thinking about the Chupacabra. The Moth Man and Jersey Devil haunted my dreams. I wanted more crypto

This is about the time that Betsy and I came up with the idea for Sasquatch, Love, and Other Imaginary Things. This brought two of my favorite things together. I could indulge in my obsession while we wrote a quirky, romantic comedy. I mean, how could we possibly write a story about searching for Bigfoot without knowing the full “Monster Quest” cannon back and forward? Brilliant!

But, I was lying to myself and everyone else when I said that I needed to binge watch every season of “Finding Bigfoot” as research. Things started to spin out of control and soon, I was Nexflixing documentaries and scouring cable for anything with a mythological beast. I blew through “Mountain Monsters,” “Ten Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty,” “Swamp Monsters,” “Cryptid: Swamp Beast,” and “Alaska Monsters.” I even dug up some vintage episodes of “In Search of” hosted by Leonard Nimoy. Classic. Delicious.

Now, I’m not saying that I believe in all of this stuff. I’m actually sort of a skeptic. But it doesn’t matter whether I believe or not, because THEY believe. The people on these shows. The witnesses. The hunters. They all have personal, emotional stories to share about their experiences, and that’s what I crave. That ancient delight that comes from sitting around the campfire, scaring the crap out of each other. I can’t get enough of hearing folks tell their individual tales of spooks and goblins, monsters and beasts, the strange and unusual. 

And if those tales happen to be accompanied by cheeseball dramatic re-enactments or infrared camera shots of midnight Squatch hunts, well, then that’s just fine with me. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Nice is Different Than Good*

Musical theater geeks, Carrie and I ditched our husbands one night over the holidays and headed to an independent movie theater in the east village to go see Into the Woods. While there was much to be excited about, including some stellar performances (hello, Chris Pine!), we couldn’t help but leave a little disappointed. 

Not at first, mind you, but it creeped up on us, the more we thought about the sum of all of the film’s parts.
In fact, our friend who joined us, who is not as versed in musicals as we are, remarked that it was really boring and slow. To which we replied, “Wait until you see Sunday in the Park with George, or A Little Night Music.”

She asked if A Little Night Music was about vampires. 

Sigh. If only.**

Anyway, it got us thinking about how important structure is to any work. While the acting, singing, and production were all great, what left us cold was the removal of the structure that made Into the Woods work so well on stage. Without most of the transitions, asides, and narration, some of the darker themes and allegories just didn’t come through. This was felt most deeply in between acts. 

There should be a major shift and separation between happily ever after and what happens after happily ever after, which one could argue is the whole point of the play. If we, as the audience, don’t see and feel the frustration and disillusionment the characters experience, we can’t take that journey with them. 

As writers, it was a good lesson about the importance of narrative arcs, structure, and transitions.  Plus, did we mention Chris Pine?

*lyric from "I Know Things Now,"  from Into the Woods
** For the record, Assassins is our favorite Sondheim musical.