Sunday, November 4, 2007

Half-finished books, a writer's strike, and a trip down memory lane


I'm stalled a bit in my reading, half way through Of Human Bondage, by Somerset Maugham, (which I'm reading for the Outmoded Authors Challenge) and half way through Suite Francaise, by Irene Nemirovsky, which I'm reading for my book group meeting (this Wednesday night--yikes!).

I'd like to blame the AMPTP (Hollywood studios). That's because my husband is a writer and is probably going on strike tomorrow. He's got his red WGA (that's Writers Guild of America) t-shirt ready to wear, and he's thinking of printing up blank signs for himself and his co-writers to carry on the picket lines. Get the joke? Writers not working=blank signs.

Needless to say, we've been on an emotional roller coaster at our house for the last couple of weeks. The strike looms, officially starting at 12:01 Monday morning. But there's word that there is some negotiating going on at this very moment, and tentative hopefulness that there is headway being made in the back rooms to avoid the picketing tomorrow. So the nail-biting continues until morning.

Maybe if the negotiations are fruitful at the last minute, I won't have to figure out how to feed my children on ramen noodles and macaroni and cheese for the next six months, after all...but I'm not holding my breath.

If anyone's interested in a more detailed (and writer-friendly) take on the whole WGA strike, visit Deadline Hollywood Daily or United Hollywood.

I also took a detour around my other reading and read two books about Scottish childhoods, in honor of my dad visiting this weekend. One, called A Childhood in Scotland, by Christian Miller, (and mentioned by Tara at Books and Cooks recently) had absolutely nothing to do with how my father grew up, but was a fascinating read anyway. It told the story of poor-little-rich-girl Miller, who grew up in a castle (that clearly cost a fortune to keep), but who was deprived of warmth and attention. Just the descriptions of the details of running the estate are worth reading, and the eccentricities of the landed gentry were by turns amusing and horrifying.

I also read The Heart is Highland: Memories of a Childhood in a Scottish Glen, by Maisie Steven. It's a charming little memoir about life in a glen near Loch Ness in the 1930s and through WWII. The prose isn't scintillating, but I found the book sweetly funny, and it took my dad, who read it through in a few hours, on a nice trip down memory lane. And fortunately for me, the memories it brought up for my dad about his childhood sparked some great conversations on our visit this weekend.

Does anyone else have a particular book that brings up (hopefully pleasant) childhood memories? I'd love to hear about it...

15 comments:

litlove said...

HOw interesting to be married to a writer! I followed both links but found the sites to be so technical in their descriptions that I don't understand what the striks is about. Can you tell me in layman's terms? And the very best of luck with it all - hopefully it will be resolved very soon.

heather (errantdreams) said...

Get the joke? Writers not working=blank signs.

*groan* That's terrible! (And brilliant)

I hope things get resolved soon!

Gentle Reader said...

litlove--sorry, we're so buried under the minutiae of this thing, I realize it's hard to see the forest for the trees! Here it is in a (rather large) nutshell:

Basically, the writers now get "residuals", a percentage of their original fee, whenever their product is re-used (shown again on TV, anywhere in the world). In an age-ist business with little job security, residuals function as a de facto pension, and many writers count on residuals to get them through the lean times.

A few years back, when contracts were negotiated, the writer's guild settled for a very reduced residuals formula for DVDs, which had just become a money-making proposition.

Now that movies and TV shows are being shown on the internet, and other forms of "new media" are arising, the writers want to get residuals for this arena--they don't want to make the same mistake they made on DVDs.

The Hollywood studios don't want to give the writers any residuals on any "new media", and want to roll back residuals altogether.

The two sides are at an impasse. This morning my husband donned his red WGA t-shirt and headed out to the picket line to join the rest of the staff of his TV show! We are officially on strike.

By the way, actors also get residuals. The actors' guild contract is up this summer, so they are fighting the same fight. Many actors will be joining the writers on the picket lines.

Does that make sense?

Gentle Reader said...

heather--I groaned, too!

LisaMM said...

I'm sorry your husband is striking. You made the details of the strike very easy to follow (I wasn't clear from what I read exactly what was happening) and I hope the writers get what they want and deserve. Love the blank picket signs, LOL.

Gentle Reader said...

lisamm--thanks for the good wishes!

Dewey said...

Good luck to your husband with the strike!

I get stalled in my reading like that, too.

Childhood books that bring back memories: the Pippi Longstocking books, the Trixie Belden mysteries, and all the Beverly Cleary books.

Gentle Reader said...

dewey--I'll tell my husband you're sending luck :)

My books like that also include the Beverly Cleary books. And From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. And the Anne of Green Gables books...

J.S. Peyton said...

I hope everything works out for your husband. Funny ideas like the blank picket sign is exactly why writers should get whatever they're asking. I'm sure the tv and film studios will realize that soon enough.

The children's book which holds a very special place in my heart in the reading rainbow book, "Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plains." It was the first book I ever made a conscious effort to memorize, and I think I fell in love with the art as much as I did with the story.

Tara said...

Ugh, sorry the strike is affected you. =(

I'm glad you enjoyed the Christian Miller book - the other one sounds charming as well. When I posted about it, some people recommended Memoirs of a Highland Lady by Elizabeth Grant...I bought a copy but haven't gotten to it yet - it's huge! But looks like a great read.

Gentle Reader said...

j.s.--I love Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain, too. I didn't read it as a kid, but my older son read it when he was in 2nd grade, and I remember it fondly!

tara--I'll have to look into the Elizabeth Grant book--thanks!

Matt said...

The blank sign joke is very bright but horrible. I heard the last strike in 1988 lasted for 3 months. Hope it will get resolved sooner than that.

I am half finishing Lust.Caution because I'm reading both the original Chinese text and the translation at the same time. I can speak better than I read Chinese so it's better to have the translation handy whether I'm stuck in a word or two!

I enjoyed reading Nemirovsky a lot. The extreme circumstances that the book delineates had different people together, evoking something indestructible. Their mind’s eyes could see through the troubled heart which can be comprehended only when one looked back in life. The enemy is no more than a human being–who is looking for happiness, the unhampered development of his abilities, the fruition of dreams–all justifiable desires that were constantly thwarted by certain selfish national interests called war.

I've got her new one on the night-stand, looking forward to reading it. :)

Gentle Reader said...

matt--thanks for the good wishes. I'm glad you're making your way through Lust.Caution. I think it must be so great to be able to read something like that in the original language. I really wish I spoke more than one language! I'm enjoying the Nemirovsky, too. She's a very good storyteller, and the characters are so awful sometimes that they're fascinating--watching their fates is sometimes like watching a train wreck...

litlove said...

Wonderfully clear now, thank you!!!

heather (errantdreams) said...

Best of luck to your husband and his compatriots. Those residuals are important!