Friday, September 28, 2007

Old Day Jobs: Satellite of Solitude

Three months. That's how long I survived working the graveyard shift at the J.P. Morgan presentation center, down by Wall Street. 1am-9am, Saturday night through Wednesday night. I thought I could hack the hours because a car service would take me to work each night, from wherever I wanted to be; I assumed the 1am start time would allow me to maintain a social life.

In effect, it was like trying to hang out with people before breakfast.

The hours were ungodly. The financial district becomes a ghost town. The trains don't stop on weekends. It's like living in another world from everyone else. This eerie shadow world. I couldn't sleep during the day—not in that shitty Chinatown apartment I was living in. It was a desk job at a poorly-managed pres-center, and it was the most physically debilitating job I ever had.

TNG Temps had placed me there. "TNG" was Timothy N. Gilson. His office, at the time, was coincidentally at the same SoHo building where the P.R. firm was. I had found an advert for his agency at the back of The Voice, at a time when I was desperate to exit my second tour-of-duty at McGraw-Hill. Tim hosted a three-week night class teaching us how to use Word, Excel and PowerPoint in the context of a presentation center, and then he set out trying to place us at different investment banks.

I'd quit McGraw-Hill thinking that I had a job lined up. I'd specifically asked for a day shift. Tim tricked me into the graveyard shift slot. At the time, I needed the money and didn't have much of an alternative.

But I was getting physically ill working those hours. I gave Tim the what for. And finally, at the three-month mark, he told me that there was a day shift position opening up at Bear Stearns.


October 2000. That's when I started working at Bear.

They placed me in the "satellite office". At a building a few blocks away from the main building. The idea was, if the computer system went down at the main office, they could fax documents over to the satellite office where operators like me were standing by to complete the edits.

In reality, we got very little work at the satellite. And there was very little supervision. So for a time—for the year that it lasted—this was the absolute best job I ever could have hoped for!

At J.P. Morgan, stressed-out i-bankers would lean over your shoulder as you made their edits for you. At the Bear satellite office, I didn't have to deal directly with ANYBODY.

The hours were 8am-4pm, but we rarely got any work before 10am. I'd clock in at work, run back downstairs, grab breakfast and a newspaper. We didn't have internet access there, but I got pretty good at keeping up with current events by reading the paper every day. Sometimes I'd take a nap at my cubicle.

The best part was, it was a great writing environment because there were so few distractions. I got some good writing done at the satellite of solitude. It was the best "day job" experience I'd ever had. So, clearly, those days were numbered.

Lasted about a year before they just folded us satellite operators into the main center. September 11th taught us how to fear again, and they started some massive layoffs, which I somehow survived. Lessons learned at the satellite office were applied toward outsourcing work to India.


Six long years. That first year at the satellite, then five additional rollercoaster years. I went through some times where I hated working there.

But the strangest thing is, at the very end, when I gave my notice that I was leaving in September '06... I was in a great position there.

I actually didn't mind working there. I was working directly with i-bankers as a "pres-center liaison". In a decent group working with decent people. My hours were great, Monday through Thursday, 8am-6pm. (Three-day weekends!) I was permanent with full health benefits. I was well-liked, well-paid, especially considering I graduated from college with no marketable skills. Hell, I even won the "employee of the year" award that last year.

That was the most peculiar thing about leaving. It was my first experience leaving a job that I hadn't grown to despise.

I wasn't leaving because I just couldn't take it anymore. I was leaving because I felt it was time to leave. I was leaving to pursue the career I'd set out to pursue when I was a little snot-nosed kid. I had my doubts about the financial logistics of leaving when I did, but I'd played it safe with day-jobs for the better part of a decade and I knew it was time to take a big leap of faith.

I know that several of my old Bear coworkers lurk on this blog. I fucking see you motherfuckers! Well, it's been a good year and I haven't had to crawl back. These have been some longer-than-usual entries, but I wanted to remember what I've gone through to get to where I am today. I know I'm a fucking lucky duck. I don't take it for granted and I'm burning the candle at both ends to keep this ride going.

"Pat yourself on the back some more, why don't you?" heckled the Gay Horse.

Org-Chart Shuffled 5:
1. "Too Deep", Girl Talk
2. "Love in War", Outkast
3. "Starman", Seu Jorge
4. "Love is a Game", The Magic Numbers
5. "Twenty One", The Cranberries
Bubble-Graph Bonus:
"Love", John Lennon

TGIF Reading:
Facebook Suicide Clubs

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Old Day Jobs: School Publishing

January 1998. It had been about a month since I'd quit my job at the P.R. firm and I needed the work. Adecco had gotten me some temp work at a school publishing company, which paved the way toward a full-time position. An assistant position, working for the marketing managers of the Science and Technology books.

It was a big deal for me at the time. The managers I was working with were the nicest folks. The full-time position would mean more money and actual health benefits. Better yet, they knew I was a writer and were wholly supportive of me pursuing it on the side.

I wanted the job. But it was a few weeks before I would know whether I was going to get it. Those were some trying weeks. I was still burning from my bad experience at the P.R. firm. I needed some financial security. There was another job I applied to at the time, as the personal assistant to a cosmetics executive—but I'd have to work out of this woman's apartment and the pay was low and the benefits nil.

If I didn't get the job at McGraw-Hill, I was either going to move out to L.A. and join all the other frustrated dreamers trying to break into the movie business... or I was going to join the army. Either way, I was ready to jump out of a plane.


After I quit the marketing department at McGraw-Hill, I'd hoped to put the company behind me. My exit wasn't a showstopper like in the P.R. firm, but it was ugly all the same. The department was filled with retired schoolteachers and bitter housewives—and they'd cultivated a suffocating, oppressive environment. My unhappiness there had been building for a while, and I was glad to be out...

Alas, a month with no work left me desperate to take the first temp assignment that Adecco offered me:

Right back at McGraw-Hill. Two floors lower. In the "electronic design prepub" (EDP) department.

McGraw-Hill was the only place I worked where I quit twice.

The first time, it was after about a year of working as an assistant in the marketing department.

The second time, it was after about a year of working as an assistant in EDP.

I would have been content to work in either department indefinitely, were it not for some fucking awful managers I had to work with.

Both positions started well, but grew distorted and unbearable with time. This happens when you treat adults like children.

A trollish old woman I had to work with in the marketing department, by the name of Veronica Senior-Newell, once asked me what I studied in college.

"Screenwriting," I told her, matter-of-factly. "I'm going to write for the movies."

"Yeah, sure you are," she scoffed. This unpleasant grotesque who probably just barely finished high school, with her awful stench of cheap perfume married with a ripe body odor.

Oh, how I wanted her dead.

When I quit McGraw-Hill for the second time, I had lined up employment at another temp agency altogether, called "TNG Temps"...

They promised me a much higher pay-rate than Adecco. Working at investment banking firms...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Old Day Jobs: The P.R. Firm

December 1997. I had been working at the small public relations firm for about three months. It was my first regular job after graduating from college, with a useless degree in Dramatic Writing. I was living in the West Village with my sister at the time, the office was in SoHo, and it was the perfect position for a person with no marketable skills.

I was an office assistant, helping a team of publicists with anything and everything. I'd put together media lists, do mass press-release faxes, file receipts, stuff envelopes, fetch soup for the big boss, make deliveries and pickups. I was very well-liked and they wanted to groom me into a junior publicist position.

Of course, I was adamant about not becoming a publicist. This was a day job, not a career. From the start, I wanted a day job that afforded me the time and space to write on the side.

Worse yet, while most of the publicists were great to work with, one was an utter douchebag.

Dan Schwartz. Yes, Dan Schwartz at Trent & Company.

Dan Schwartz was a prissy, balding, hissy-fit throwing cocksucker. This middle-aged asshole would throw preschool-level tantrums at the drop of a hat. And I took most of it coz I didn't work for him ALL of the time, and it was my first regular job, and I was just a fucking office assistant.

But I was getting paid shite. And this wasn't a career job. And one day in December, three months after I'd started working there, Dan Schwartz started yelling at me FOR NOT RUNNING TO ASSIST HIM FAST ENOUGH, and I fucking lost it.

I've got no idea what the fuck I said to him, but I was yelling it, and I was yelling at the entire office. "Dan Schwartz is a fucking baby! I don't need this, I QUIT!"

I grabbed my coat and I stormed out of there. Trudged home through a gray December snowfall. (Back then, it used to snow in the winter.)

The office manager called me. Said that Dan was ready to apologize. But I was done with that job. I felt bad for losing my cool, I was pissed that he made me lose my cool, but I figured... maybe I just really needed to get out of there... right before the new year...
Got a call from Platinum Dunes, Tuesday night. No concrete news to share on the "Butcherhouse" front. They're looking for the right director, waiting for a production slot to open up, etc...

... but they've really liked working with me on that project and want to find ANOTHER project we can work on together!


I've got about a week to pull my shit together. They want to hear about some of the scripts I'm working on, on my own. They also may have some properties that I could get attached to. Some comic book stuff, perhaps.

Suffice it to say, I am thrilled to death.

Also, it seems that my L.A. agent just became a father. I didn't even know he was pregnant!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Pop, Lock and Drop It!

Anyone here go to ShowBiz Pizza Place as a kid? It was a pizza place attached to a big arcade, along with an animatronic rock band. Chuck E. Cheese always got more media acknowledgments, but ShowBiz was the place that I knew. It had far better dead-eyed mascots.

The animatronic band was called "The Rock-afire Explosion". They played cover songs. When there was a kid birthday, the gorilla playing keyboards, Fatz Geronimo, would talk *live* to the kid. It was the ultimate "fuck you" to the smart-alecky kids who assumed that all the animatronic *musicians* were NOT in fact sentient machines...

"I hear it's Billy's birthday today, where's Billy? That's a nice BLUE sweater you're wearing, Billy...!"

Doubting kids would go into cardiac arrest over this bit.

Viddy this helpful instructional video from 1984...

Please note the vaguely threatening tone he takes on as he cautions operators not to lose their temper. What kids didn't see were the animatronic mobsters that ran the joint...

But it was the canned cover-tunes that really got the place pumping...

Grownups who want to mix pricey mediocre cuisine with animatronic bullshit can go to The Jekyll & Hyde Club in NYC. Sadly, arcades are dead. Oh, the things we leave behind...

It is hard to believe that it's been about a year since I walked away from the day job. I haven't been on Easy Street, but this is the longest stretch that I haven't worked in an office since I graduated from college. Oh what a ride it has been, people! Oh what a ride...

I sense a theme week brewing... I may as well concentrate on a fucking theme, because I can't friggin believe that October is next week...

Gosh, it was real nice talkin to ya! I'll see ya later!!!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Playstation 4

I guess the Playstation 3 is such a resounding success that Sony's already talking about the Playstation 4 release.

In case you didn't realize, I was being sarcastic about the PS3 being a success. It's currently in third place among the latest consoles. It's overpriced. Has a poor selection of games. Sports inferior versions of games available on the XBOX 360. And its outlook doesn't look good for a while.

They screwed it up. It's coming on a year since it's been on the market but I'd say it's going to be at least another year before it can become an attractive console to own. They're about to introduce a controller with "rumble" in it, which it should've had from the beginning. In about a year, it'll probably be the console it should have been at the outset.

Yes, I own one. And I use it almost exclusively for playing DVDs and Blu-Rays. Which is fine, but it should be a game machine. It's part of the deal with being an early adopter, but it's annoying that these companies release, essentially, unfinished hardware.

The PS3 and Windows Vista. Two expensive products that were released way before they were ready. I hates it. It kills me.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

I Am Not My Brother's Keeper

The things I do for you lucky people. Like gathering together my favorite interweb videos, to like share.


Scare Tactics was a great prank show. Using practical effects, and horror/sci-fi tropes, to bring something unique to the prank genre...

The best ones have the victim reacting REALLY STRONGLY like this Bigfoot one. In many of them, the mark seems genuinely traumatized. I love those the most, because I've become so numb I can only feel emotion through the reactions of others.

As with all prank shows, some episodes are more successful than others. The level of success really depends on three factors:

1. The quality of the premise.
2. The quality of the execution of the premise.
3. The mark's reaction throughout.

Some of them are really good until they fizzle at the very end. A weak response from the victim, upon the big reveal, can be real anticlimactic. Such as this video wherein the mark is led to believe he's got a volatile parasite in him. It's great right up to the reveal -- at which point, the victim doesn't seem to know how to react to the prank.

This guy wins the Bill Paxton Award:

There's a nice build here. He reacts strongly but he's a good sport at the end. Great ending, well played, bro.

I like to call the next one, "That Thing You Lay In When You Die". His end reaction is sort of non-existent, but his language struggle kept me laughing.

This one has a Shining/6th Sense vibe. It builds really nicely, but the ending doesn't have a real punch.

This one isn't that funny, but I like how intensely the victim reacts. It's not showy, she's not screaming, but she clearly needs to be consoled afterwards. In fact, it looks like they end the bit prematurely because she looks too freaked out.

I'm moved by this guy's reaction as he really seems to think he's about to be executed.

This mummy premise seems like one of the more far-fetched scenarios, but it's saved by how thoroughly the victim buys into it. She also reminds me of Calamity Jane, a little.

There are a ton of these segments online. I highly recommend them. Part of the appeal for me is how they take these familiar genre setups and plug a "real person" in there. When I'm writing, I'm always thinking, "How would a real person react in this bizarre situation?" With this show, you get a range of reactions. From simple, quaking fear to fight or flight aggression.

Good fucking show, kids. Right on, that's cool!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Fright Night

Apparently, "they" are looking to remake (reimagine) one of my most beloved 80s horror movies, Fright Night.

Now, the obvious thing to do would be to tell my new agents that I want my name thrown in with the list of writers being considered for this project. But just because I loved the original movie doesn't mean I'd love working with the people who are remaking it.

And to be honest, I'm still a little scared about taking on a really high-profile project. "Butcherhouse" has been great so far because nobody's been talking about it. No scrutiny because all the development's been under the radar. "Fright Night" is a movie that certain people have fond memories of: I'd have a big target on my head.

But hey, if they're gonna remake it... it's not like it's Citizen Kane...

Well, we'll see... I've got a lot of original material I'd like to write out, too...


Hey, do you like stories? Here's a good one.

I'd like to tell a story at THE MOTH. But performing gives me too much anxiety.


Have you heard about The Jena 6? I saw Mos Def at a rally on the news. I was at the gym and it was on CNN. The subtitles weren't on so I didn't know what the story was, but the chyron said "Jena 6", and I looked it up when I got home. It's pretty fucked up.

x xxXxx x

Is everyone watching KID NATION? It's like "Lord of the Flies" meets "Deadwood". I throw the word "love" around rather cavalierly on this blog, I know, but I do love this show. For so many awful reasons I won't subject you to...

"You're so cool, Brewster!" cackled the Gay Horse.

Peter Vincent... VAMPIRE KILLER!!! Shuffled 5:
1. "Cool as Kim Deal", Dandy Warhols
2. "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?", Shirelles
3. "Back Off Bitch", Guns N' Roses
4. "I Am The Album Cover", Fucking Champs
5. "Peter Frampton Must Die!", I Hate You When You're Pregnant
Evil Ed Bonus:
"Leather", Tori Amos

Thursday, September 20, 2007

My First Love

Christ, how I loved Kristy McNichol when I was a kid.

Love is an angel disguised as lust. Come on now, try and understand...

This wasn't anything so dismissive as "puppy love". I must have been about seven years old when I discovered her in The Pirate Movie, and I knew what I fucking wanted...

I wanted Kristy McNichol.

I might not have known what I would technically do once I had her. But I had a deep, primal feeling that I would figure it out.

I'm not sure what prompted me, recently, to bump "The Pirate Movie" up on my Netflix queue. But I did, and I watched it again, after many years.

This is one of those movies that I saw a million times as a kid, every time it played on cable. I had no idea it was a critical and financial bomb. I just found it utterly captivating.

A strange concept, in hindsight. A sort of modernized spoof on Gilbert & Sullivan's comic opera The Pirates of Penzance. With songs lifted directly from the opera (with partially revised lyrics), mixed in with original, modern-styled pop songs...

The combination of music styles is jarring and incongruous, but I didn't notice it as a kid. On a class trip, we went to see a production of The Pirates of Penzance, and I was actually confused because they didn't perform any of the pop songs...
Of course, watching it again, I remembered what a volatile crush I harbored for Kristy McNichol. She is completely fucking adorable in the movie—regardless of what anyone says about the movie. She exudes the aura of the prettiest girl next door.

There was a girl in my 4th grade class named "Carrie" who looked like her. I had the worst crush on her. But I was just an Average Frustrated Chump back in the 4th grade. I had no pick up artist techniques. I didn't know how to open sets, or neg, or display high value, or kiss-close. You've got to understand, this was the 80s...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

(In Defense of) The Pick Up Artist

I've been meaning to call attention to one of my favorite new shows, The Pick Up Artist on VH1.

This actually relates to my Weird Science entry.

The Pick Up Artist, and its host "Mystery", may be the subject of some ridicule. And the "seduction community" as a whole may be a big target. But I think it's fucking fascinating. At its heart, this is a show about guys trying desperately to talk to girls.

Not just talk to them, but have women see them in a different light. Sure, a guy can have a veritable dogpile of platonic female friends, and that's just a bloody lovely way to grow old alone. But these are lonely guys who want to be in some real relationships.

It's not some misogynistic conceit. Some of the techniques may be dismissed as sleazy and manipulative, just by the nature of being "techniques", but the goal isn't necessarily just to get laid.

It's not Seduce & Destroy. I'm not sure what The Venusian Arts teaches—the VH1 show doesn't deal with how men should develop a relationship, but merely how to get into one. Sure, these aren't the only methods to get into a relationship... they're just more options.

What's fascinating and sad is that there is such a gulf between men and women that something like this exists. There is a demand that is being supplied. There are books and classes and bootcamps, marketed to all these lonely people. With all the lonely people in the world, you would think it would be easier for people to walk out and make a connection. But no. It is fucking vicious.

The downside of the show is the downside of a weight-loss show like "The Biggest Loser": they shoehorn their premises into a Reality-TV template wherein someone has to get booted off each week. These are people with real problems that need help.

I'm gonna pitch a reality show called "Suicidal Tendencies". We get 12 suicidal cases and one hottie therapist. Each week, the person who isn't getting happy fast enough is kicked out of the therapy program. And handed a loaded gun. The host's send-off catchphrase could be, "Go fuck yourself." Or, "Do us all a favor." Or, "Maybe your father was right about you."

I should really get back into therapy...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tell Me You Hate Me

I like the new HBO drama Tell Me You Love Me. Mostly because it's a depressing-as-fuck meditation on dysfunctional marriages. Or perhaps the inherent dysfunction in all marriages.

No, it's not the funnest hour of television. It's sort of like someone turned "Eyes Wide Shut" into a tv show. Without the secret costume sex orgies. (And everybody loved "Eyes Wide Shut", right?)

Okay, I know I'll be in the minority here, but I'm used to it. TMYLM is fucking oppressive and I adore it. It's an adorably oppressive look at sexual dysfunction in marriage. That should be the tag line.

Web user dies after 3-day online binge?! I'm coming on 3 *MONTHS* myself and I feel terrific!

Thank you, NY Times Online!

Monday, September 17, 2007


If you want be a party animal, you have to learn to live in the jungle.

John Hughes completely corrupted my tastes. I grew up on a steady diet of his pop culture—including everything influenced by his pop culture—just like a new generation's growing up on Judd Apatow movies.

I could have sworn I'd previously written an entry on the seminal Weird Science, but I can't seem to find it.

It's your basic suburban-teenage-male sex-fantasy. Unapologetically male. Unapologetically fantasy. (The "science" in the movie is just recklessly nuts.)

And yes, I privately worshiped this movie.
I recently revisited it via the wonders of HD cable. No, it doesn't quite stand up as well as Ferris Bueller or even Sixteen Candles. But I refuse to dismiss it as a "product of its time" or my firm affection for it as a byproduct of childhood nostalgia. That's reductive and avoids any attempt to look at what was there to try to figure out what I responded to...

Weird Science is about loneliness. Sexual frustration. Women as objects of both desire and fear.

These two socially awkward boys build this fantasy woman, and—rather than a Frankenstein monster (which the film initially suggests)—she turns out to be a sort of Mary Poppins Sex Goddess. It really is like a Mary Poppins story. She appears by magic, bolsters them with magical life lessons, then disappears with the wind.

She has them throw a big party. Everyone's invited but the two boys are so socially awkward that they end up hiding in the upstairs bathroom together through most of it. As crazy as the movie is, this character detail is nicely observed. It's a small touch but it's very real. I know that as much as I fight social awkwardness in my adult life, I can still end up hiding in the bathroom if I'm at a party where I don't know anyone.

Anthony Michael Hall was sort of the Shia LeBeouf of his time—the charismatic geek. And Ilan Mitchell-Smith... well, he was just a genuine geek...

Kelly LeBrock, suffice it to say, was just disgustingly hot. A virtual parody of hotness.

It has some intellectually fascinating ideas but no, it's not a great movie. Though it's sort of a perfect pop confection. I'd shy away from trying to remake it—if only to avoid the stigma of a remake—but I wouldn't mind writing something inspired by it. There's a gleeful absurdity to that movie that I think Hughes managed to pull off coz he wrote and directed it. People were a lot more forgiving in the 80s.

It's worth noting that Hughes recycled the geeks-save-the-party- from-the-scary-Mad-Max-bikers plot maneuver in his script for Some Kind of Wonderful, which itself was a sort of remake of his own Pretty in Pink.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

I'll Have That Water Now

Bob Odenkirk scares me.

Now I'm nervous about the meetings I'll need to take. But this is what the world is.

Then I read about Iris Yamashita's story, the Japanese-American woman that Paul Haggis tapped to write the screenplay for Letters from Iwo Jima. That's the kind of story I like to read... while I'm waiting for this game to come out:

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Loneliest Days of Our Lives

There's a thousand you's; there's only one of me.
—Kanye West

I've made a decision on which talent agency I'm going with. I could wait to take meetings with more of them, but I don't want to draw this out any longer. There's a strike on the horizon. Gotta go with the gut feeling here. It's not the biggest agency, but they've got some good, lifetime clients like Philip Seymour Hoffman, and John Sayles—who's got a perfectly enviable career as far as I'm concerned.

Christ, I've been sick all week. Queasy-like. Not my most productive of weeks. Spotty sleep. In need of a bit more air and sun. Trying to get my groove back. It's even been a crap week for blogging.

Have you read about monkeys and pigeons? That's how lonely the world is. Animals are crossing species lines to make connections. Anything to hold onto. To maintain a sense of humanity in this barren wasteland.

I have been in a blacker mood than usual. Probably goes hand-in-hand with feeling unwell. I just feel sublimely alienated. I harbor a lot of contempt in my heart for a lot of people; for a lot of types of people...

Pardon my obliqueness. Part of contemplating what I want to accomplish with my life has been thinking about why I need to succeed.

I need to succeed because of all the people who didn't believe in me over the years. I need to succeed because of all the bitter people who'd like to see me fail (even though they'd never admit to it). I need to win out coz I fuckin deserve it.

I know some people who don't deserve one happy moment in their fucking lives. But the world doesn't dole out happy moments fairly.

"Doctoring other people's pictures without their consent, are we?" harrumphed the Gay Horse.

"I had to," replied Malice.

Fountainhead Shuffled 5:
1. "Heaven is a Place on Earth", Belinda Carlisle
2. "The Last Supper", Andrew Lloyd Webber
3. "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me", Oleta Adams
4. "Oh What A World", Rufus Wainwright
5. "Soothe", Smashing Pumpkins
Atlas Shrugged Bonus:
"Leaving Hope", Nine Inch Nails

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Goliath Cometh

My mom comes all the way down to the city—I encourage my mom to come down to the city to attend a screening of the new Paul Haggis movie In the Valley of Elah because Haggis and Susan Sarandon are supposed to do a Q&A after the screening. And my mom is a huge Susan Sarandon fan.

Well, imagine my mom's disappointment when the bitch doesn't even show up!

Honestly, they announced it as they were letting us in and my mom wanted to leave. I get invited to a lot of special screenings through the WGAE, and this was a chance to impress my mom with some star wattage, and she gets bupkis. I suggest we stay in the off-chance Sarandon changed her mind and decided to show up at the end. Or one of the other stars. But no, all we got was Paul Haggis, who my mom wouldn't know from a rock on a beach.

For the record, I hated Haggis's near-universally praised CRASH, but I loved ELAH. And my mom stayed awake for most of it. And I only made her stay for a few questions of the subsequent Q&A. (I wouldn't normally leave during a Q&A, but I figured I owed my mom for the Sarandon disappointment.) Monday, I went to a screening of Sean Penn's Into the Wild, which featured a Q&A with Sean Penn, Catherine Keener, Marcia Gay Harden, Hal Holbrook and Emile Hirsch. But all my mom got Wednesday was a disheveled Paul Haggis.

x - xx - X - xx - x

Kat Von D was on Letterman and Letterman asked her what the rough price-tags would be for some of her ink, if someone were to get it done at her shop. He pointed to a large Beethoven portrait on her thigh.

Well, that one's pretty large, so it might cost... a couple thousand...

Two grand, really!

Well, probably more than that...

Y'ouch. I'd better sock away some nickels...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Blood Soup

Sorry for the delay in today's entry, I've been a bit under the weather.

Bozo's taking off to Ireland tomorrow to help throw a little family reunion/surprise party. Bon voyage, sicko.

For a person with as much extended family as I've got, I've got zero contact with any of them. I've got a cousin somewhere in the city that I've met with *once* since childhood, and she grew up across the street from me.

I might change my name to Malice Supertramp, burn all my money and get lost in the wilderness.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Can we all agree that the official title of 4th Indiana Jones movie sucks the big one?

It sounds like a shitty Choose-Your-Own-Adventure title.

I'm the biggest Steven Spielberg apologist there is, and I'm sure it's cool in context, but really... Kingdom of the Crystal Skull??

If I was a kid and someone asked me, "Do you wanna hear a story about the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull?", I'd say, "Hey dickweed, just tell me bout that Temple o' Doom one more time, willya...?"

HAPPY 9/11, EVERYBODY!!! Six years and still truckin'!

Let's keep laughing, yeh?

Monday, September 10, 2007


Witches of Eastwick was on one of the HD channels recently and I watched it again. 1987. Directed by George Miller. Written by Michael Cristofer, based on the book by John Updike. It sorta plays like a precursor to Big Love, now.

There's some good writing in it. The witchcraft aspect is left curiously unexplained. The three women just stumble on these abilities and never really question them. But it works. And the women are really good in it. I forgot how good Cher could be back in the day, before the plastic surgeons ruined her. Jack gets excellent seduction scenes to play with the three women. And in the arguably overwrought ending, he gets to do his best impression of Michael Ironside.

Six Feet Under's Richard Jenkins has a great turn as the quietly pained husband of a woman who's consumed by the urge to rid the town of the new evil. A small part, but impressively played. Veronica Cartwright gives her best madwoman performance, but it's Jenkins that you really feel for. This is a woman that he deeply loves, and he cannot help her... because she is so far gone...


Everyone catch Osama Bin Laden on the MTV VMA's?


When you've got the chance, listen to the streaming audio of this This American Life show on Break-Ups. Starlee's got a great opening act, but I love ACT 2 which features an old archived interview with 8-year-old Betsy Walters which first aired on NPR's All Things Considered in 1987...

Little girl trying to deal with her parents' divorce writes a letter to then-mayor Ed Koch, asking him for help in trying to understand her folks' divorce. Koch writes her a nice letter back, but she is NOT satisfied with his response.

I wrote Ed Koch a letter when I was in second grade. It was a class assignment—I think we were learning how to write proper letters—and I chose to write one to tha mayor. My letter expressed my deep concern about the threat of poisoned Halloween candy. Well, Koch musta loved these stupid kid-letters, coz he wrote me back and Ms. Santana put his personalized response letter to me up on the wall.

I've weathered many disappointments since then...

Friday, September 07, 2007

Guns before Butter

We can do without butter, but, despite all our love of peace, not without arms. One cannot shoot with butter, but with guns.
—Joseph Goebbels

Guns will make us powerful; butter will only make us fat.
—Hermann Goering

The old Guns or Butter model. Fleeting comfort, or stopping power? Defense versus civilian spending. What does the nation want? What does the nation need? It begs you to look at the bigger picture. The longer road.

Now, I'm not a Nazi about it, but right now I've got to choose guns. My focus is entirely on survival. Sure, I cannot wait till I can afford to laugh it up. But for now, I'm still operating on the assumption that I can lose this entire game in the blink of an eye. And I can't let that happen.

Because this is all I have. Lest we forget.

So, the official word from the Western Winds is that we're still waiting... but it's unlikely that our production will go pre-strike.

Let me recap, class. There's a general, perfect-storm threat of strikes from the three major screen guilds: Writers, Actors and Directors. The deadlines are a bit all over the place right now, but the general idea is that the (potential) strike zone would be around June of 2008. So there's a scramble in Hollywood to focus on the productions that would go BEFORE that.

We've been gunning for a pre-strike greenlight, but we don't have a director in place. And that could take some time. And then we'll have to develop the project further with the director.

So... while it's unlikely at this point that we'll get a "pre-strike" production, let me emphasize—they still want to make this. "We'll just have to wait a few months," I'm told.

Just a few more months...

I'll admit, I was pretty psyched up at the idea of running-and-gunning full-force into production. And while somewhat disappointed, I'm still at a uniquely advantageous spot. With a sniper rifle. And I am not alone.

Thursday, I spoke with an agent from PARADIGM and set up a meeting for Monday. A manager from Circle of Confusion also called to check in with me. I've got enough reps interested in me. I wish it didn't take so long to set up these meetings. It'd be a lot easier if I could teleport instantly between here and L.A. That would help oh so much. Especially when I'm sick of this cruel, ailing, godforsaken city...

Goodbye to you...'ve been wasting all my time...

I do hope you office-jobbers who don't watch the vids @ work are watching these at home. In this one, you've GOT to wait until they whip out the kazoo. It'll fracture your jaded little hearts.

I love how serious they are in all these videos. They are not just having laughs: they are focused on performing these numbers properly. And any time little kids sing songs ripped from the hearts of world-worn adults, it is fucking solid gold. Two little English girls, doing their condensed song-covers for the camera tripod. Well played, little women, well bleeding played.

"Nazi politics and underage British girls?" sniffed the Gay Horse. "Scavenging along the borderline of propriety today, are we now?"

Fat of the Land Shuffled 5:
1. "Victory (NIN Remix)", Puff Daddy
2. "I Would Die 4 U", Prince
3. "Go To Sleep (Little Man Being Erased)", Radiohead
4. "Banquet", Bloc Party
5. "Bingo", M.I.A.
Firestarter Bonus:
"L.A. Woman", Billy Idol

Here's an extra vid, for MERILLON:


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Poor People Gonna Rise Up...

... take what's theirs...

Nick(/Emma) enjoying the Wii I've granted them. It must be nice to be in a loving relationship *and* have fun with the Wii.

Of course, everything I love betrays me eventually...

No word yet from the Western District, so don't ask.

Spoke with my lawyer briefly, he told me about an agent at Paradigm who's interested in me. In passing, he also mentioned agents at two other agencies who *weren't* interested in me based on the script—but he reassured me that "it was just personal"... Personal taste, I think he meant. He tried to explain further—that these two agents just weren't looking for "genre-writers"—but the damage was done.

This is my problem. It's the people who DON'T want me that I fixate on.

Some scattershot links for you today, and I'm not even going to try to make them relate:

Food Network Fires Mario Batali!

New York City restaurants are like that Pixar movie!
(Hint: not Toy Story.)


Don't you know, you better run run run run run....


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I Predict a Riot

No word yet. Which is still the speed I was expecting. Hope to hear something this week, but it's a funny business. Another payment just came in, which is good enough news for me.

Did a spot of snooping on the stats of that other blog I keep, and it appears that last month persons from Paramount, CAA and New Regency checked it out. I get so embarrassed when these people GOOGLE me up and find all the internet detritus.

I just hope The Powers That Be don't make me shut down the other blog. It may be lame but it's fuckin' mine!


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Help Me If You Can

Goodbye Summer. Hello Fall.

And now we wait, helplessly, on news of our immediate future.

Will it come today? Will it come next week?

These are the days to lose sleep.

It's encouraging that Rob Zombie's Halloween Remake took top honors at the box office this weekend. The horror genre's still got some life in it, naysayers.

Whether that helps us or has no effect on us... all we can do is wait and find out.


Monday, September 03, 2007

The Broken Hearted People

Correct me if I'm wrong, but nothing beats Labor Day. A gift to the working men and women. The laborers. A long kiss goodnight to summer. One last, gasping fit of laughter.

This could change as everything changes, but I'm trying to crank out a spec script on the side called "The Broken Hearted". An action movie, mixed up with a romance. Or anti-romance. I was kicking it around a few years ago, in a different form. Then things changed. And now I'm trying to reimagine the idea while retaining the core premise. A bad breakup that comes back to haunt the protagonist.

Let's give it up for Fiona and Emily, playing Misanthropy Central ALL WEEK...


Sunday, September 02, 2007

September Dawn

I can't ruddy well believe it's come to September already, O My Brothers. Honestly—September? Really? I barely touched Summer. (And I wasn't quite desperate enough to touch Spring...)

Autumn in New York is the half-skip and a jump between Summer and Winter. I've got a lot to accomplish before this year's done for, and I've got no idea what that entails at the moment.

How do you think I do it? (I DON'T KNOW!) What makes me so good???

Life is about to get stranger...