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February 7, 2008:

NUMBER EIGHT

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, the big news around these here parts is that at one-twenty yesterday afternoon I finished my new novel. I began writing on January 1st, so it was five weeks and one day. I suppose I was just a man on a mission, and I just became very focused and very disciplined, writing at least seven pages every day, seven days a week. While I’ve certainly done that number of pages in a day I’ve never done that number of pages EVERY day seven days a week. It was a fascinating book to write for any number of reasons, but what helped it go faster was that the characters were already created, rather like the Kritzer books. The first Kritzer book took a little over nine months to write. The second took seven months. The third, and longest (by over 150 pages), took four months. All the other books have been faster, save for the short story collection, which was written over the course of about ten months in between other things. The last book took eight weeks. In any case, I’m done with it unless my muse Margaret has any comments on the last fifty-five pages. If she does, I’ll do those cleanups right away. As most of you know, by the time I finish, I’ve already done the rewrites – I never move on until I rewrite sections I’m not happy with until I AM happy – sometimes I polish, clean, and revise up to ten or fifteen times, so what I come out with is usually close to being exactly what I want. So, book eight is now finished. If anyone would have told me back in 2001 that I would be writing a book a year I would have told them they were certifiably nuts. But here we are, and the writing of these books has provided me more enjoyment, creative satisfaction, and joy than almost anything else I’ve ever done. I’ll let it sit for a couple of weeks, then I’ll print it out and read it and make sure I’m happy with everything, before we start the proofing phase, which usually takes quite a bit of time. Speaking of quite a bit of time, yesterday was a day that was here and gone. I got up a little later than I’d planned, packaged up about seven items, got them shipped, and then jumped into the writing. I wasn’t quite sure how many pages it would take to finish the book, but it ended up taking six. After I finished, I ran off to do some errands, then came back and did some revising and futzing and fixing. Then I decided to have a celebratory dinner, so I went to the Pig ‘n’ Whistle and had a yummilicious chicken Caesar salad and mac and cheese. It was just what the doctor ordered. Then I went next door and saw Victor/Victoria, which was part of the Outfest Film Festival.

Last night, I saw a motion picture entitled Victor/Victoria at the Egyptian Theater. There were about two hundred people in attendance, the majority of them gay, so I was hopeful for a fun reaction to the film, which we got in spades. And there was an unannounced special guest – Miss Lesley Ann Warren, who was Oscar-nominated for her performance in the film. I must say, she looks pretty terrific. Before the film began we were warned that the print was a little soft, focus-wise. That seemed very odd to me. The film started, and immediately I was quite concerned because the MGM logo was completely faded and the main titles were hideously yellow – the weren’t soft, however. But then, after the first couple of shots, the color was basically fine. I think the print was warped or something, which may have caused it to lose focus now and then. The sound was also erratic – fine at times, hard to hear at other times. Then the color began to fluctuate from scene to scene – sometimes fine, sometimes greenish, sometimes yellowish. It almost made me think we were seeing some kind of reject print, some sort of mis-timed answer print that should have been junked. Certainly of the many times I saw the film in a theater, nothing like that was in evidence.

It was great to see the film on the big screen, the kind of big, lush film without CGI that they don’t make anymore. Wonderful production design, gorgeous costumes, and real actors who never seem to have the need to whisper, and yet they are completely real in their characterizations, even Miss Warren, who is very larger than life, as she should be. What a great cast of farceurs it is, too – Miss Andrews is wonderful, James Garner proves again that he was a fantastic comedic actor, Alex Karras is terrific, and Robert Preston is at his best as Toddy. Miss Warren almost steals the film from all of them – it is her finest hour. The script ranges from perfection to clunky, and the dialogue has brilliant lines and terrible lines. The film has always felt a little long to me, and its final ten minutes don’t quite maintain the hilarity. Of course, pulling everything together is Blake Edwards who, at that point in his career, was so hit and miss it was astonishing to watch. He was making great films (this one, 10) and horrid films (too numerous to mention) – but when Blake is on, there’s nobody better at film comedy, especially widescreen film comedy. There are gags in this movie that are as hilarious as any ever put on the screen, and it’s Mr. Edwards’s visual genius that makes them so. I always use the cockroach scene as an example of what he does best – if you’ve seen the film in the theater with a full house you know how incredibly funny it is and how long and loud that laugh is. I don’t know any other director who would have shot that scene the way he did – and after twenty-six years, last night’s reaction was the same; the laugh must have gone on for a full minute (that’s a long time for a laugh). I didn’t care for the score all that much when I first saw it, but it’s grown on me over the years.

What am I, Ebert and Roeper all of a sudden? Why don’t we all click on the Unseemly Button below before these here notes become longer than my latest novel.

Today, I shall be printing out pages, Xeroxing pages, delivering pages to my muse Margaret, and then awaiting her verdict, which I’m hoping will be positive. I may or may not be having a meeting with Mr. Kevin Spirtas, and I’m hoping that some overdue mail arrives today. Otherwise, this will be the first day that I will not be writing since January 1st. Whew! Oh, I’m sure I’ll do a little work at the piano, but mostly I’m going to try and take it easy today and tomorrow.

Tonight I’m supposedly seeing a reading of a play, but I have not heard word one from the person who invited me, so I’m not sure if it’s happening or it isn’t happening.

Tomorrow, relaxation will be the order of the day, and then I’m seeing a show at LACC in the evening.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, Xerox, deliver pages, relax, perhaps have a meeting, perhaps see a play reading, and perhaps pick up some overdue mail. Today’s topic of discussion: What are your favorite film and TV performances of Mr. James Garner, one of my favorite actors ever. And what are your favorite Julie Andrews performances? Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, as I celebrate the finishing of book number eight.

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