Sunday, March 19, 2006

Understanding conflict


Time to think about our veggie garden. We're late this year. We usually plant our seedlings much earlier. I'm not sure why the late start. Perhaps on some level we are too aware that we are going to have to move this year and are saddened by the prospect of having to leave our garden. Will we find another home where we can plant a few tomatoes? I constantly think about moving. I can't not think about moving because I hate moving. Who doesn't? I'm trying to be very positive about the whole thing, but inside I know I am conflicted about how I feel.

Well, for now we will focus on this years garden and hope we can enjoy it's full cycle.


While procrastinating today (it is Saturday after all, part of my weekend) I was thinking about some of the cast of characters outlined on an earlier post of whoville and thought about Rupert, who can be seen here. Poor Rupert indeed. He is now been prescribed an anti-anxiety drug to deal with his conflict. Rupert’s mum is trying out the anti-anxiety drug for two weeks to see how he does. The Rescue Remedy in the water just wasn’t enough. Once she described Rupert’s behaviour to our super-fantastic vet, the vet suggested the drug. After all we’ve been regularly calling Rupert the “Big Guy with the Big Issues” because of his obsessive behaviour with regards to Ruggles of Red Gap. Now Rupert even recognizes and responds to the rather long name that we've given him.

Anywho…sitting with Rupert after his first dose today, I noticed how he almost didn’t care that Ruggles was in the room and yet Rupert was still his same loving self. He seemed calm, happy. Oh the kitty prozac.


one of the books I am currently reading is
The Way of the Screenwriter. I picked up this book for various reasons. Some of the concepts are familiar to me and it’s a refreshing approach to screenwriting not encountered in other more traditional approaches to the craft. The central idea of the book is that “story is a living thing. And you don’t work on a living thing, you work with it.”
The formula for conflict in the book is something I’ve always connected to in my studies and have found it to be useful whenever working with any type of story. The formula looks like this:

Conflict = Objective + Obstacle

So let’s see if I understand using my cast of characters as an example. If Rupert is the protagonist of this story…(you can see where I’m going here), Rupert wants to be the baby of the family. However, he needs to accept his new role that makes him the middle boy cat of the family. The motivation behind Rupert’s objective is that he will remain the special guy in his world and thus the pecking order will be maintained. While Rupert is third in the pecking order after Chengo and Penny, Rupert likes it this way. He likes the triad.

Enter Ruggles. Conflict can be between: Rupert and another cat, Rupert and himself, Rupert and an external force (a part of Rupert’s world). Ruggles is a big obstacle for Rupert. Ruggles is the new “baby” cat of the family and gets special attention. This threatens Rupert’s position and upsets the comfortable triad combination that Rupert has been enjoying up until now. Internally, Rupert struggles with what is his new role? How does he fit into this new quadrupling? He is internally conflicted. Can he still be the baby cat? If he tries to maintain his baby cat role won’t Ruggles dominate? The third type of conflict Rupert faces is external. Rupert’s world has most recently been disrupted by his new meds. An anti-anxiety drug was a difficult choice for his mum to make, but she is trying it for a couple of weeks (on Rupert, not herself). Now when Ruggles enters the scene, Rupert is disinterested. While Rupert remains his same old self, his desire to attack Ruggles, while still a flicker in his eyes, has been subdued.

I hope I’ve understood conflict properly. Yes, I may be certifiable but I like my ridiculous diversions. Any comments, suggestions, and interpretations you would like to add?

Just wait until I get to the chapter on theme…


An early morning shift started my day. No matter how early I get to bed the night before, I toss and turn because I can't help but be concerned with the prospect of having to get up three or four hours earlier than I normally do. It is glorious to be up at that time though. The sun rose and the air was sharp, clear and cold. I felt like going for a run, but that's not possible for me yet since I'm still treating my achilles injury.
When I arrived at the Forest who-Hill home I found out that we would be catering a Bris. This was a new experience for me. I mentioned the Seinfeld Bris episode to a co-worker and of course there were many jokes circulating as we set up. Seventy-five people attending a Bris in someone's home. What do we do during the ceremony? Retreat to the kitchen? Have breakfast? I had to hover near the door just in case any latecomers arrived. Being adjacent to the ceremonial room, I chose to cover my ears, fearing the inevitable wail from the baby. From my viewpoint I could only see the "audience". With hands over my ears, I watched the crowd wince and turn away. One woman walked out of the room and retreated to the buffet table. The baby was suprisingly calm. He spent the rest of the catered breakfast sleeping in his mother's arms, only rousing once to wail as if briefly recalling and then he drifted off to sleep again unaware of the mass of people there just for him.

After my shift I strolled along St. Clair to Corso Italia (my favorite stretch of St. Clair) to window shop. I took my time getting home and the early morning affect finally kicked in when I sat down at home. Surfing through the t.v. channels I stopped on Seinfeld. It was indeed the Bris episode. I had to watch.


red jane said...

I can't believe that Seinfeld episode was on! How strange! I like the conflict solving formula, if I can call it that. It's the same for us as actors in figuring out what our objectives are and how to play the scene. What do we want, how do we get it and what stands in our way. I'll have to look for the book. Anything to keep me inspired right now- I'm tv'd out!

Wandering Coyote said...

I hear you about moving. My LEAST favourite thing to do, I can tell you. But enjoy your garden, sp! You're lucky to have one.

What is a Bris, by the way?

sp said...

w.c., hmm how can I describe what a Bris is...well, simply put it is a Jewish tradition that is a ceremonial circumcision.

I will enjoy my garden this year more than ever. I wish I could take it with me.

Wandering Coyote said...

They have catered parties for THAT???