Monday, December 31, 2007

Last Stop of 2007

Impromptu, last minute, I ran to a comedy club last night. Had the briefest exchange with a random girl on one of those online personals sites, she mentioned that she performs comedy.

I'd known about the show for a few days, but it was on complete impulse that I decided to check it out. The venue was within walking distance, showed up ten minutes late, but decided, what the fuck?

$15 just to walk in, 2 drink minimum with drinks $9 and up, it was pretty criminal. Strip club prices without the strippers. Just... comedy.

I was slightly concerned that I'd totally missed her set, but this was one of those what-the-fuck situations. I'd stay for a while then take off.

Then I saw her. It's always slightly surreal to see someone in the flesh when you've only seen an online pic. She was about to hit the stage for her set. She glanced about the small audience and our eyes met. And for a strange, brief moment, it felt as if we were friends. Even though we'd practically said nothing to each other via email. I'd asked her where she performed, she gave me a list of venues. That was it. I hadn't written back. Yet here I was.

Then I saw her set. And found every reason why I wouldn't want to date a comedian. It was bad enough having been in a relationship with another writer, having personal moments cannibalized and distorted for someone else's "work". The thought of being fodder for someone else made my skin crawl.

Sneaked out after her set. No words exchanged. Another dead end.
xxx xXx xxx
Okay, 2007, you fucking bitch. Tonight, it's over.

I'm done. Done. Onto the next one.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Nightmare Theatre

There are other worlds than this.

Keep your eyes open and your wits about you. View only if you dare.

(And if you're not at a job with a firewall that blocks YOU TUBE videos.)

Happy Birthday to Emma Wunsch today. And thus ends an inexplicably Wunsch-thick weekend series.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

We Call It The Gulag

He was walking home carrying two fistfuls of grocery bags when the older woman crossed his path. It was Emma's mother, who he hadn't seen since her daughter's wedding in late August, despite the fact that she and her husband lived just a few blocks from him.

He had seen Mr. and Mrs. Wunsch on the street, here and there over the span of time he'd been living on the Upper West Side. They were always generous hosts whenever he was over as a guest of their daughter and son-in-law's, but he'd never stopped them on the street to say hi. It wasn't in his nature to initiate idle palaver with people he was tangentially acquainted with.

But he was in the middle of one of his take-care-of-everything days. He'd paid his bills, done his laundry, dropped off his dry-cleaning, scheduled a haircut and stopped by the grocery to restock his empty fridge. The year was rapidly closing shop and he felt generous. Every so often, he liked to force himself to do something against his nature—to act like regular human beings might act—which is why he decided to follow her into the pharmacy to say hello.

"Hi there," he said, approximating a neighborly smile as Mrs. Wunsch looked up at him.

She wore a vacant, expectant expression on her face as she looked straight at him for a good 20 seconds. An expression that said nothing more than, Yes, boy, what do you want from me?

It gave him pause. She wasn't going to help him out with his magnanimous gesture and he immediately began to formulate an exit strategy when her face brightened with recognition.

"Oh, HI!" she said, finally. Interrupting his mindless approximation of chit-chat. "I guess you're on strike."

"Yes," he confirmed, thankful for the introduction of a subject that stretched beyond the weather. "It's bad timing for me and I've had to return to my old day job. But you do what you have to do. It's important. Hopefully, it won't drag on forever."

She nodded, her smile fading. She glanced down at his grocery bags. "How can you afford to shop at the D'agonstino's? They mark up their prices so much!"

"I know," he said, approximating the guilty look of a child caught doing something he really shouldn't be doing.

"We shop at the... we call it 'The Gulag'," she confided, referring to the large Food Mart situated a block from his apartment. He didn't want to tell her that it reminded him too much of the ghetto supermarket he was forced to shop at during his darkest years in Brooklyn. The sharp scent of industrial disinfectant permeating the aisles.

"I go there for some things, but there are some things I like at the D'ag," he offered. Her smile fading further beneath her indifference, he lifted his grocery bags with his friendliest grin. "Well, I'd better get this stuff back!"

She brightened again, at the indication of his departure. "Have a happy new year!" she said.

"Happy new year to you!" he volleyed back as he launched out of the pharmacy. Warm with humanity.

Friday, December 28, 2007

All the Old Paintings on the Tombs

Nothing like a day to catch up. Laundry in the basement. Sort out the Fortress a bit. Long overdue haircut. Bills paid a hair before their due dates. Restock the fridge. Get some clothes to the dry cleaners, if I'm feeling particularly ambitious. Things to do to start the new year with a slightly cleaner slate (if not an entirely clean one).

We are sitting by the deathbed of 2007. Feeding tube is out. Certainly did crash hard, didn't it?

My 32nd birthday is coming on fast after New Year's. I creep toward my mid-30s. The annual debate whether or not to do anything at all. I always seem to be on uncertain ground around this time of year, so it's hard to feel like celebrating. Last year, I was unsure how the Paramount project would progress—it ended up progressing very well, but around this time last year I didn't know what was going to happen.

In theory, I ought to just keep a positive attitude about "it all", and have something somewhere. It's just that the dreaded guest list always turns into a weird political affair. Which is why I try not to blog about it, whether I end up having one or not.

"It's Emma's birthday on the 30th, asshole," spat the Gay Horse. "How bout one last 2007 shuffle of the iPod, for her sake? Is that the absolute LEAST you could do, crybaby?"

Emma Wunsch Shuffled 5:
1. "Queen of Apology", The Sounds
2. "The First Taste", Fiona Apple
3. "What If", Coldplay
4. "Mrs. Leroy Brown", Loretta Lynn
5. "Now (And Then)", Billy Corgan

Emma Gaffney Bonus
"Mourning Air", Portishead

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Under a Cherry Moon

Taking Monday the 31st off from work, motherfuckers.

Yeah, you heard right.

Do I really need this day off?

"NO!" said the Gay Horse. "You don't even have any New Year's Eve plans, loser!"

"NO!" said the Average Frustrated Raccoon. "You need the money, asshole!"

"NO!" said the Escaped Tiger. "Work will be quiet and they will dismiss you early, shit-for-brains!"

Well, I say...


The first day off that I've specifically requested since being forced back on the factory line.

No, it's not especially difficult work. Not exactly heavy lifting. Rather, it's a daily endurance test. To get through a 10-hour stretch of day without losing your mind. I've been back for over a month now and I'm remembering how easy it is to lose focus. To not touch that script-in-progress for days on end. To get home and pass out early, sleep through till morning to start the nowhere cycle all over again.

I say, ENOUGH!

... for a little 5-day patch, at least. Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. An oasis to recharge. Get some more writing done. I've been back over a month and it already fucking feels like I never left. Like the past year of writing full time was a bleeding dream.

Like the Horse said, I've no concrete New Year's Eve plans. I don't feel particularly inclined to be somewhere I'll be subjected to a bunch of couples kissing @ the stroke of mid. Even (especially?) if they're friends of mine. There's nothing quite so insulting as other people's happiness, round this time of year.

The saddest thing? My TREO calendar informs me that the only date of note coming up is Nick Gaffney's birthday on January 4th.

Ain't that a kick in the head?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Smells Like Holiday Spirit

Nothing like the holidays to cheer you down. To remind you what you haven't got. Every day is the perfect day for a pity party. Especially when you have a blog.

Left the Manno Compound painfully full last night night. Come famished, leave painfully full: that's how every holiday visit tends to go down. In the car home, we talked about the things we couldn't talk about in full company. Some things I wish I could talk about here—but won't, out of respect.

Had an odd dream last night. All my dreams are pretty odd, but this seemed odder, for whatever reason. Perhaps it was exacerbated by the food coma.

Like all odd dreams, the scant 2 hours that have passed since I woke up have obliterated most of the narrative thread. Leaving just fragments of details. A partial cast list. Nicko was in it. (Maybe because J&D were talking about the Nicko/shroom/party incident right before they dropped me off home last night.) Starlee was in it, too. I think she introduced me to a friend, on the street. In front of a brownstone. In San Francisco. Don't recall much else about the dream except that, like most of my dreams, it left me feeling vaguely uneasy.

Which is my status quo. Vaguely Uneasy.
Let's start over. December 26th. 2007. It's quiet as death at the office. Not a fresh death—fresh death is ruled by decomposition, which can be gaseous and clamorous. This is an empty, desiccated death. A pronounced absence of life. There are people here, but they float past like ghosts. Unaware of me or my purpose for sitting here for 10 hours.

I have nothing to look forward to, yet I cannot wait to go home.

Hold that tiger!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Hang On To Your Hopes, My Friend

That's an easy thing to say, but if your hopes should pass away—simply pretend... that you can build them again...

Monday, December 24, 2007

Deliver Us from Evil

A few days before Christmas, a betrayal. From my last friend in the world: TECHNOLOGY.

I should have noticed it early Saturday evening (when I got home from Friday evening festivities). The DVR box didn't seem to have amassed any new programs. Not that there was any one thing that I was highly anticipating, but there are always flotsam and jetsam that I send the old box to retrieve for me, like the obedient dog I never had.

By Sunday, it was more obvious. My fucking Scientific Atlanta 8300 HDc (Hi-Def DVR, from Time Warner Cable in NYC) box wasn't obeying any of my god-damn recording orders! At under 30% capacity, it wasn't a question of harddrive space—and even if it were that, there should have been a warning. Most disconcerting of all was that there was NO warning. No indication of errors.

There has always been an unspoken Master-Slave relationship between Man and his Machines. And this machine had no excuse beyond flagrant disobedience.

I tried to troubleshoot on my own. It will record manually, but it won't record any program that I tell it to record in advance. Not even 4 minutes in advance. Pre-recorded programs seem fine. But there are NO error messages concerning why it won't record anything in advance.

I've had some minor issues with the box since I swapped it for my old, busted box a number of weeks ago. My old Scientific Atlanta HD box barely gave me a lick of trouble until it utterly died on me. This slightly newer HDc box doesn't seem to have any aspects that are improvements in functionality. Everything just seems to work slower, more cumbersome, and just worse. And refusing to record programs, with no discernible reason, is just the final affront. THAT'S WHAT I'M PAYING IT TO DO!

It uses different software than my old box. That seems to be the core of the problem. And accounts I've read via GOOGLE don't motivate me to call the atrocious Time Warner customer service, or take the time to swap this box out for yet another one. The online verdict seems to be that these efforts are futile. This mourning, before heading off to work, I did a little reboot of the damned abomination. I'll see if that bitchslaps some sense into it when I get home...

Nothing like working on Christmas Eve. I don't think I ever did it when I worked here before. Even if I wasn't going anywhere or doing anything, Christmas was my little break.

But alas, I need the money. And we're being offered the merciful bounty of getting to leave 3 hours early today. I assume it should be pretty dead today, which means I should still have plenty of time for reading—even a little writing, if I get that ambitious.

Finished reading THE FOUNTAINHEAD last night and I'm onto ATLAS SHRUGGED—I hope that's the one that includes Big Daddies harvesting Little Sisters, and people shooting bees out of their hands...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Let's Get Together Before We Get Much Older

The exodus is here.

Friday, December 21, 2007

So Much Potential

What some people don't get about my day job is that it's basic design. Not hardcore design, like those kids who see the world in hexadecimal codes. It's rudimentary, fast-food design. Based on a template that other people developed. Like the difference between a sous chef in a proper restaurant and a guy who nukes burgers at McDonald's.

Occasionally—and this is usually where I get into some trouble—I get handed the jobs that stray from the template. Because I have some raw, uneducated instinct for design and I don't panic too badly about straying from the box. So occasionally at work, I have to deal with some people who don't really understand what I do and try to explain the CONTENT of what they're trying to create with me.

That's where it gets a little annoying. Because I have no understanding of, or interest in, the content of what I'm creating at work. It's utter gibberish and I'm content for it to remain gibberish to me. At the day job, my only interests are lines, contrast, clarity, legibility, flow.

If that, honestly.

Ultimately, my only interest is in covering my hours and getting paid. Getting a job done and out of my way so I can go back to reading my book, or writing a little.

Trudy—The Horse with No Friends—trotted speciously into the empty slot where the Gay Horse had not been seen in quite some time. He was uninvited (which was not so unusual for him) and he had no great purpose to appear at that moment. Like a subnormal child climbing onto a stage, only to stomp about with no fear of intention or interpretation.

The readers gawked at him with skepticism. Yet another character in the growing Misanthropic Menagerie. Random. Grotesque. Vaguely obscene, in the right light.

Whispers amidst the crowd. "I know the blog's been treading water, but is this really what it's devolved into? A parade of animal pictures?"

Trudy let out a long, insolent bray.

Then trotted off. Alone.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Statutory Grape

Just for laughs, some of the worst band names of 2007...

Chevy Metal!!!

The Color Fred!!!

The Dead Kenny Gs!!!

"Dja hear the new Shitdisco album?"

"Shitdisco is suh-hoooo played out, dude! The latest Crabshitter is fucking TIGHT, though...!"

"I just heard that Rape Ape is playing MSG with Harmonica Lewinsky opening..."

"Any rumors of surprise guests...?"

"I'm hearing, possibly... GAY WITCH ABORTION!!! Either them or Izzy Stradlin and the Ju Ju Hounds..."

"I am sooo there! Allora, cominciamo..."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Seasons Greetings (from Hell)

Birthday salutations to everyone who's turning the big Three-Ohhh today. You know who you fucking are, don't make me say it.

Everyone enjoying your holiday cards this year? My agents @ Paradigm sent me TWO *IDENTICAL* cards. Should I be offended by this? Is it, in fact, more of a slight that I am so low on their radar that they didn't catch this obvious clerical error?

I'm just dreading the possibility of them calling me before the year's out to "check in" with where I am with the phantom spec script I've been yammering about.

Got a card from "my friends" at Paramount. Much better than the one I got from them last year, complete with fake sigs from people I've never met. Still, I'll settle for the illusion of having friends any day. (And he does!, interjected the Gay Horse, hiding in the wings.)

Wrote pitiably little last night. Maybe a handful of sentences. I get hung up on the stupidest, simplest descriptions...

The doors that connect subway cars to each other. Through which you can (used to be able to) pass through to an adjacent car, if you happened to be stuck in a car that was too crowded or had an unpleasant stench. THOSE DOORS, what are they? They're not "emergency exit doors", are they? Merely "subway doors" implies the regular, automatic sliding doors that serve as the ingress/egress. "Doors at the end of the subway car" is so inelegant, too.

How about the booths in subway stations? I guess they used to be referred to as "token booths", back when you had to queue up to purchase a packet of tokens. So, what... "subway station booth"?

THIS is the cockamamie bull-dookie that I can waste an hour on. This is (part of) my hell.

Man, this year is certainly fizzling out on an anticlimax...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Nothing like some long, cold, dark walks home from the salt mines during a work week. Really puts the world into perspective. Do you know what I mean?

I am a slow fucking reader. I've got a tendency to read at the pace that I'd be reading the text aloud. Hearing the words in my head. Which is totally fucking wrong, apparently. Probably why I didn't actually get through half the books I was supposed to read throughout my school years. Over half the books, really. Shocked, aren't you?

I think screenwriting actually makes it worse because the form requires a spareness to your writing. Whittles down your patience for *real* prose.

But I'm steadily making my way through THE FOUNTAINHEAD. Helps to be chained to a desk for 10 hours a day. The writing is head-spinning. And the story... I think it's just what I need to be reading right now. My blood is cold and full of menace.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Why So Serious?

I wonder if the writers strike will be over by the time this comes out...

I'm just about holiday partied out. A whole lot of partying for a holiday season I'm pretty grim over.

December 17th. It's absurd how swiftly time flies when everything's a mess. And yet the prospect of months more of this fucking strike feels like staring at an eternity.

No news. No progress. Some new tactics from the WGA that may or may not pay off, but nothing worth holding my breath for. Just pacing my expectations. Making slow progress on a new spec script I'll have ready when business starts up again. 45 pages in. Some big, splashy set-pieces to go. Don't know how much sense it'll make, or whether it'll add up to anything more than a ride, but I can worry over that when I look back at my career...

Please let it be dead at work this week. I do my best work in dead places.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I Need Someone to Hold Me (But I'll Wait for Something More)

A few paces from the taxi, I puked on the sidewalk. Some spot between Thursday night and the wee hours of Friday morning, Upper West Side. Hadn't eaten since the WGA holiday party at the Friar's Club on Wednesday night. The decision to crash the Bear Stearns holiday party on Thursday was as last minute as possible. But I had to do it.

All right, neglected blog, here's where I catch you up.

Some nameless fucking girl I thought was cute back when I used to work at the company. Never spoke to her back then, never had a reason to. I go off and have my little Hollywood adventure for a year before my writing career gets derailed by the strike. So, I'm back at my old job, and Nameless Girl is still there.

Still, I don't think much of it. Until some BOZO FRIEND of mine puts it into my head, "Hey, you should talk to her coz I think she's in your gettable range..."

Suddenly it turns into a holy mission. This writers strike didn't happen because writers needed a fair cut of internet residuals. It happened because the Cosmos wanted to force me back to my old day job so I could talk to this Nameless Girl. Because the universe revolves around me.

I'm sweating over this thing FOR WEEKS at work. The whole thing was just way too built up in my head. Days of aborted attempts. Some really stupid gambits and sorry follow-throughs.

I was psyching myself out for all sorts of reasons... that I'll probably explain to a therapist one day...

I figured, if the company just had a holiday party it would be a much easier environment to chat her up. I wasn't even in the mindframe of wanting to pick her up. I just wanted to get to know her a little, find out if she was cool. AND I COULDN'T EVEN DO THAT!

But it wasn't looking like there was going to be a company holiday party. And for real, I was just about to put the whole bloody affair out of my mind. Until my shift starts winding down on Thursday and I start hearing people buzzing about the holiday party they're about to go to...

"You should come!"

"For perms only, but we could sneak you in..."

Of course, I already had plans because I didn't know there was gonna BE a fucking holiday party!

I clock out for the day and run over to the DGA Theater, where I'm supposed to attend a screening of THERE WILL BE BLOOD with my friend Dave. I'd seen it already, but there was going to be a Q&A with Daniel Day Lewis and Paul Thomas Anderson after this screening.

I bring Dave into the theater and I explain my predicament. I NEED TO GO TO THIS HOLIDAY PARTY. Even if it ends badly. Even if nothing happens. I don't want to live the rest of my life imagining what might have happened if I'd gone to that party...

I expected Dave to give me a great big booster speech, like from some John Hughes movie: "Sometimes you just have to say, 'What the fuck?' and crash a fucking party. If you don't go to this thing, you're going to regret it for a very long time. What are you waiting for? Go! Go now!"

Dave said none of that. But I'd already made up my mind that I was going to ditch Daniel Day Lewis so I could try to have an awkward conversation with a Nameless Girl at a fucking company holiday party...

Which is exactly what I went and did...

... and she was kind of a bitch.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Some Say It Was a Sign

And now for my Andy Rooney entry:

I'm not sure which is worse: Christmas or New Year's. Which one wins the bullet-in-the-head award?

Christmas wants to edge it out because I actually used to like that fucking holiday. Growing up. That Toys 'R Us Time of Year. I can still enjoy it as an adult—when I'm flush. (Which I'm not.)

Aside from the gift-giving routine, I've got no home to go to. Okay, I do, but no home that feels like home. My pop's in the cold north. My sister's out west, with her surrogates (in-laws). I've got my mom's open invitation, but that's not my home. It's her husband's. And there's nothing to do in that house except stare at the ceiling and contemplate the emptiness.

Or I can latch onto friends and their families.

New Year's is another bag of nails...

It's not quite as meaningful. I've just had a few good New Year's Eves. But if you're not in a relationship, it just turns into one of those sad, awkward things—especially if you're at a party. Cheers at the countdown. Try to look away as other people lock lips.

I cannot stress enough how thoroughly I loathe other people's happiness.

These are some dark days. Writers Guild-AMPTP negotiations broke off again on Friday. I've been plugging away at my new script, but there really is little hope of this strike ending before sometime in January at the earliest.

Another week at the salt mines ahead. Apologies for all the emails I haven't returned. I'm busy overcomplicating my life.

Congratulations to those lucky fucking Broadway stagehands, who've finalized their new contract. That feel good for you, fuckers? Gonna have a sweet little Christmas, are you? 19 days on strike, how did you ever manage to keep your spirits up?

Friday, December 07, 2007

Some Say It Was a Warning

How are you people getting on without me?

Had to cut down and prioritize. I was treading water anyway. One of the problems with trying to maintain a blog.

Word on Negotiations looks grim. I continue to brace for a long, bad trip.

New script's coming along steadily. More on it when I'm feeling stronger about where it's at.

Check out this Scorsese short. It's a commercial, but it's fucking Scorsese and Thelma and Hitchcock.

Monday, December 03, 2007

I Can't Live

Wake me up when December ends...

Getting back to some serious, "real" writing, which means the frivolities of gay horses and frustrated raccoons will have to take a backseat. All for a good cause.

Bad news for graveyard shifters (on top of the lousy hours). I lasted three stinking months on graveyard life. IMHO, there are a lot of factors with these "new studies" that tend to skew the numbers. Still, there's a reason it's harder to staff those shifts...

First snowfall of the winter season was real pretty. Walked down Central Park West and it was hard not to crack a smile. Even when your heart's in the gutter. You look around and the world's been transformed into a winter playground overnight.

2007 was going so well for a while. One more month of it. 2008 better swing up sharply...