Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Technical difficulties...

Today after work, I went to Verizon and got a new router, hoping it would make a difference in the number of times I get dropped or frozen out of Fios, and might make some radio streaming better. It did, to an extent. I can now stream programs off KCRW (tho' not their Eclectic 24, despite it playing fine via an app on my iPhone). But I've found while testing the new equipment out that I still have moments of...oh, let's just say, indecision from Fios.

If this wasn't also happening to the new computers we have at work (those use AT&T as their WiFi service), I'd say it's just the age of my computer. But obviously it's not. It's just the second-rate service offered by too many American companies...and not just the technical ones.

For example, I learned a while ago that when I buy new clothes, I need to try on everything. Even if I'm considering two pair of the same pants or shirts. Because invariably one will be a slightly different size from the other. I even had that happen with some Haines pocket tees that I bought online; all three fit me differently even though they were supposed to be the exact same size.

Same for pens and manila folders and phones and books and food and politicians -- you name it. There's minimal consistency in quality, anymore. In anything. Makes me nothing but wary.

Enough about that. The reason I reworked a story into a new location, yesterday, was a lead to someone who wanted a site-specific script. It would take me 2 days to shift KAZN from LA and Moscow to Marseilles and Casablanca. Might even make it better. It's over to them, now, so we'll see what happens...but if I ever get myself unstuck from OT, I may change it, anyway.

Guess one of my technical difficulties is, I'm addicted to writing screenplays...

Monday, September 29, 2014

Out with the old, in with the redone...

I spent the evening reworking a synopsis into a new script set in a whole new location. Here's what I came up with, now titled Vengeance (yes, it's a bland title, but it works for now)--
JEAN-PIERRE BASSIR, a young rugby player from Marseilles, sneaks into Morocco to find the man who murdered his parents and his wife. The elder Bassir was a bank manager who discovered his bank was laundering arms and drug money from Morocco, so he and Jean-Pierre's mother and wife were killed by a car bomb. Afterwards, JP (as his friends call him) careened towards suicide...until a man named LEGRIS told him who was behind the bombing. Now JP has no interest in merely ending his own life; he plans to destroy his father's murderer by having the man kill him and be held responsible for his death.

His focus is on PAUL CHARPIN, a notorious arms dealer he traced to an estate just outside Casablanca. Charpin's wife died years ago, leaving him with two children -- ABRIELLE, a lovely young woman now attending university, and ISSAM, who is under severe pressure to succeed at the Lycée Lyautey.

With the help of his mother's half brother, YOUSSEF, JP arranges to meet Abrielle and Issam; he wants them to unknowingly help him in his plan. But he falls in love with Abrielle and beings to wonder if his life may have meaning, again.

Before he can rearrange his plans, JP is almost killed in a gunfight, signaling Charpin knows who he is. So his fate is set. He uses Abrielle to get into Charpin's compound, plants evidence to suggest he was beaten and killed, there, and sets himself up to be taken prisoner.

But Youssef is on Charpin's side, and helps him not only capture JP but remove the evidence he left behind. Then JP is taken out on a boat into the Mediterranean to be tortured and killed.

After a vicious fight, he manages to escape and now plans to just kill Charpin. Only he finally begins to see clues that he's out to wreak vengeance on the wrong man...and realizes this is really a plot to kill not only Charpin but Abrielle and Issam and blame him...a realization that may be too late to save two innocent people from death.
I used Frédéric Michalak as the idea for JP. He's an actual rugby player in France and was in their best calendar from a few years ago. I had to sell it when I was broke in SAT, but it brought in a nice dollar.

Quelle domage...

Sunday, September 28, 2014

New plans for OT...

Okay...I've started reworking the foundation of the story, and it's going to get a lot simpler. More compact. To start with, I've shoved the background exposition into a prologue that sketches out what happened prior to Jake's meeting with Mira in Paris. Probably 10 pages of yap-yap-yap cut to 1.5 pages. I can still reference details from then as we go along, but it makes the opening a lot cleaner, and if people want to find out more, they can read RIHC6.

I'm also shortening the time between when Owen vanishes and Jake goes looking for him. Three months now seems too long, especially after Owen having just been in a trial; Jake wouldn't wait more than a month to contact him to find out how things went, even if he is preoccupied with Tone's crap.

I'm keeping it in Palm Springs. Nothing else really works, including just not naming the city. Comes across as being too coy. So I've sent an e-mail off to the Riverside County DA's office to ask about how things are handled, now that their administration building is no more and they're 10 miles from the Larsen Justice Center. Same for the Riverside Sheriff's Department, that manages the Indio jail, part of which is also being torn down.

In an early draft, I had Jake being taken to the city of Riverside for a confrontation with the DA but shifted that to a DDA in Indio. Now it looks like it will be a mishmash of both...which actually works out better. They don't give him time to pee before he's hustled over to Philby's office, and it's rather hard to do when you're in a car going down a city street.

Who knows? By the time I'm done with this restructuring, my magnum opus a la Beethoven may wind up being a piano concerto a la Satie. Pleasant. Not bombastic. But not as rich and overpowering as the Ninth Symphony.

That'd be a switch...said Tolstoy as he spun in his grave (wondering how I had the nerve to bring him into this).

Une autre de Billy Wilder...

I put this here because I want to watch it later; it's an hour long.

Writing is very hard work, and having done both writing and directing, I tell you that directing is a pleasure and writing is a drag. Directing can become difficult, but it is a pleasure because you have something to work with. You can put the camera here or there, you can interpret the scene this way or that way, the readings can be such or such. But writing is just an empty page—you start with absolutely nothing. I think writers are vastly underrated and underpaid. It’s totally impossible to make a great picture out of a lousy script. It’s impossible, though, for a mediocre director to completely screw up a great script. –Billy Wilder

"Sunset Boulevard", c'est moi? Je ne sais pas...mais...

It's from 2002 and has German subtitles, but it's fascinating to watch and learn about a Hollywood masterpiece.

Lovely inspiration...

I have to share this, it's so wonderful...
...and gives me ideas about Jake, since he refers to himself as a wolf.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Rearranging the dirt...

The nice thing about a catastrophe is...well, not to be all Pollyanna and crap, but you have to rebuild. Ruined structures get torn down and new ones, stronger ones, go up in their place. Hopefully. Anyway, I've already begun the clearing away for new foundations.

For example, I just learned that the administration building that housed the Indio branch of the Riverside County DA's office is being razed to make way for a newer, larger jail. The offices in there have been moved temporarily to Palm Desert, a good 10 miles away. Which led me to other aspects of the story that were outdated and incorrect.

Like how, in the attempt to make Owen a wonderful guy, I was ignoring the reality of Palm Springs -- that it's nearly half-gay, skews older than average, and many of them are supporters of the GOP...even with its fanatical anti-gay attitudes. I knew a couple of Log Cabin Republicans, and while they were nice-enough people, nothing really mattered to them except that vile party's tax-cut policies, because nothing else really affected them.

So a lot has to be adjusted. The push of the story is still good, but more research is needed to make certain I'm still grounded in truth instead of a Hollywood-dream-style community caught in a fag's fantasy. I even read up more on the Warm Springs sting of 2009 that resulted in 19 men being entrapped and arrested for "indecent exposure." That crime requires a jail sentence and registry as a sex offender, and the DA at the time pushed to try all of them for that crime instead of the lesser "public indecency."

That caused a huge uproar in the gay community, and they pushed back, pointing out that straight couples get a pass despite numerous complaints of straight sex in parking lots while gay men get targeted even though no one actually lodged a complaint. The Palm Springs Chief of Police wound up having to resign (after it was found he used disparaging language against gay men) and the Riverside DA got kicked out, to his shock.
I think David Mason Chlopecki's photo was taken in Palm Springs, to give you an idea of what the place can be like.

Problem is, that DA was replaced by another Republican, who then pushed through the charges in spite of having received massive gay support. It also exposed a rift in the community between those who appreciated how the gay community had saved Palm Springs from becoming a nothing desert community and those who felt the fags were being bullies and tossing their weight around.

Final story is, 16 of those 19 men now have criminal histories (3 had the charges dropped) and that DA's en route to his second term. Even after having been caught destroying the political signs of his opponent. And yet, there are still gay men who support Republicans.

Talk about self-loathing queens.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Inspiration needed...

This is Alex Minsky, whom I've mentioned in my blog, before. He was nearly killed in Afghanistan by an IED, and did lose his right leg. He spiraled into despair and alcoholism, but turned his life around and is now a model and fitness guru. He's still in his mid-20s.

I'm making shameless use of him, right now, not because he has a beautiful smile but because I need something to kick me in the ass and keep me going on OT. If he can overcome that hideous experience, I can overcome the chaos in my feeble brain.

A problem I've been ignoring...and which this mess has finally forced me to admit I've been pulling back on the truth of my characters, too much. Mainly because of the vicious reaction I've gotten from some of my earlier works. Well fuck that. Kitty just got whipped, bringing out my inner Tasmanian Devil, and Tas don't take shit off nobody.

Be warned.

And FWIW, this is how Alex proudly stands:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Better now than never, I guess

This was a nice little personal earthquake. Just a 7.8 on the Richter Scale. Smoldering ruins abound but so far I'm able to stand up and walk out of the chaos. I think. The sudden collapse of OT shook me up...but I'm too vested in the story to just toss it aside. So on Saturday, I'm going back to page 1 and stripping out everything that no longer works. Guess it's better to know now than after I'd sent it out for feedback.

I'm pretty fucking pissed about this. And my self-confidence is down around my knees. And all it took was one comment from one character to set the destruction going, like a massive line of dominoes lined up for miles. Thanks a lot, guys; all that work and I'm back to the beginning.

I still don't know what the hell happened. It may have been me trying to shoehorn in some ideas that just weren't right for the story. Like Owen insisting on defending himself at his trial for public indecency, when he knows a damn good lawyer who will take the case and do it right. Something I mention more than once as regards that lawyer with other characters.

Or maybe it's how I'm trying to find ways to tie Jake's growing uncertainty about Antony in with the anti-gay push by newcomers to the area. Or maybe it's just plain setting this in Palm Springs. Or maybe I was being too damned coy with the real reason for what's going on and got so damned coy, I lost sight of the narrative reality.

I don't know. I just know that right now my head aches and I'm damn near ready to give up on the whole stupid idea of writing. I don't know why this story is causing me such turmoil...or why it's become such a devil to deal with. It's just a mystery story. Shit.

And that may be the's really more than that and I'm denigrating it by suggesting I'm writing something like Earl Stanley Gardner's Perry Mason books. I'm not. I'm writing a story about a man coming to terms with the truth of himself. That's what the final chapter was always about -- Jake accepting his own horrifying reality...and how it nearly destroyed him...and could, still...

I don't know if I can handle that...

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Here we go again...

One of the major plot points of The Vanishing of Owen Taylor turned out to be a worm that just collapsed the story around me...and as of now, I have no idea how to get around it. I've gone blank. Setting the story in Palm Springs doesn't work. At all. But it's so intrinsically a part of the story, I have to change the entire premise to keep it there. The whole reason for everything to be happening. Which means a page one rewrite.


Excuse me while I do a crash and burn...

Monday, September 22, 2014

Families keep mattering

I got through another chapter of OT, tonight, and would have done more but family interfered. Gotta love it. 1600 miles means nothing when you have cell phones and need to kick some butt.

I'm going to Hong Kong, again, just before Thanksgiving, so I may not be able to do the NaNoWriMo challenge to write a book in 30 days. Which I do want to do, this time. It'll get me going on reworking A65 or CK or something into a book and set in stone what I want the story to say. I'm still aiming at doing it for A65 because I think it would be perfect as a nice summer read. Plus I know people in the book business who might be willing to give me feedback on it...especially the British ones.

I finished reading Sol Saks' book on comedy writing that really isn't so much about comedy writing as writing in general. I wasn't too impressed except I found out he was one of the originators of Bewitched  and wrote the pilot. His book's more a self-confidence builder than anything else...which works for me.

Hell, anything works for me, right now...

Sunday, September 21, 2014

I am NOT "Ready for Hillary"

I made the mistake of donating to a couple of individual Democrats' races for Senate and The House of Representatives, and now I'm on every goddamned mailing list there is from the Democratic party, not only begging me for money because it's our last chance to counter that idiot, Boehner, but because I'm told I'm ready for Hillary Clinton to run for president.

Well...I don't want her. And I told the DNC that, as well as a few others. Do you think they listened? No. The begging only increased. So now they all go into Junk, and I'l be damned if I give them another penny, even if I agree with the person running.

I had this problem once with the GOP. A guy at work, who's a die-hard Republican, sent my name and information in to them with a small donation, so suddenly I was getting inundated with requests for money from CREEP. At my work address! They wouldn't stop when I asked them to...or when I demanded they I started sending them really nasty Photoshopped images of Bush 2 doing S&M with American men dressed as soldiers, telling them they'd better remove my name from their mailing list or I'd get even nastier. I'd discovered what all could be found on the Internet and made serious use of it. So the mailings finally ceased.

As for Hillary, I hate it when someone is anointed the nominee without me even being given the chance to vote on it. And I wouldn't vote for her, anyway; I don't trust her. I'd rather Elizabeth Warren run, or Al Franken. They know what they're talking about and aren't afraid to say it. Ms. Clinton is nothing but political speech and bullshit.

But I won't pull the same stunt with them as I did CREEP. I'll just dump my junk mail, because I'm still closer to the Democratic line than anything else. But if those bastards do push Hillary's nomination through without so much as a question, I'll vote Green, again. I will not vote for the lesser of two evils, anymore.

That's what got us Obama and his continuation of Bush 2's policies.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

This time the charm?

I re-started my edit of The Vanishing of Owen Taylor from the beginning and slashed my way through 5 chapters. Some bits needed to be cut completely, some needed to be changed around, some just wanted a bit more clarification...and this time I rushed nothing. I want my current draft to be ready to read, for feedback.

I was also in discussion with Jake about who to make the final villain, and he's finally on the same page as me...or else, I am with him. I never know, anymore. But it's his story so I need to listen...and he led me to an interesting commentary...or tale.

There's a story about a caliph who asked Maimonides, a Jewish scholar, to explain the Talmud. We're talking about volumes and volumes of rules about religious morals and behaviors and conduct and philosophy as regards Judaism, and do it in the time he was able to stand on one foot. This was in the Middle Ages, in what is now Spain but was then controlled by the Moors. Maimonides responded,  "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. All the rest is commentary."

That's probably the best way to view writing possible -- keep the core of what you mean, remember the rest is commentary.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Okay, after whining about GPS yesterday, I have to give it props, today. It saved me while driving from Harrisburg. There's this nasty stretch headed for Corning where you're traveling over township roads and have to change from one route to another that's gotten me turned around more than once. This time, letting the GPS bitch tell me what to do, I made it through in record time.

It's a pretty drive, for the most part, up along the Susquehanna River for miles then over rolling hills of trees just beginning to change colors for the fall or open fields of fully grown corn stalks. The big drawback is so much of it is on two-lane blacktops with only the occasional passing lane. So if you get caught behind a slow-going rig or farmer, it's torture.

Something else I've have fun with on this trip is checking out the WiFi in different hotel chains. The service at the Best Western in Long Island City has improved to where it's good, not great, while the service at a Holiday Inn was next to impossible to use. The best was the La Quinta in Harrisburg; super fast and easy to get onto. Too bad the bed wasn't the most comfortable.

Through all of this, I carried my printout of OT, but got only a few chapters dug into. I guess it wasn't worth the effort; I can always make notes and transfer them once I'm home. Now I have a mountain of laundry to do and piles of paperwork to go through...which will be dealt with...eventually.

I didn't get to have Return to Darian's Point read by actors in London. Dammit. I really wanted this. But I've finally gotten it through my thick skull that winning competitions isn't about how good the script is; it's more about how the committee making the decision "feels about it." I was actually told that by two different contest organizers, so went back and saw other e-mails from contests that said the same damn thing -- that non-comment of how "it's all so very subjective." Talk about dense, on my part.

I'm glad the script got this much recognition, but the contest route means nothing to me, anymore, especially considering the cost of the damn things. I could have bought a new car with the money I've spent on entry fees over the years.

Back to the drawing board...and the thought of turning my DP scripts into books.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

GPS Can Bite My Ass

My work phone has Google Maps on it, so I can find my way around...and it's a pain, to be kind about it. The routes it likes to send you on are not always the best insisting on going up the Van Wyck Expressway in NYC instead of the Grand Island Parkway because it's more direct to JFK (even though it's always packed with heavy traffic)...or vise versa when you're in a cargo van (they aren't allowed on NYC Parkways). And the only way it seems you can change it is if you deliberately ignore it and let it yell at you; then it adjusts to your settings, but not happily.

However, today was the epitome of Google Map insanity. I'm in Washington DC, staying at a hotel just outside the 495 loop, and I need to get to Silver Spring. It's morning rush hour so I know it'll take a while, and the location I'm headed for is on a side road down a dozen other side roads by a park, so I input the address...and Goggle took me off this ramp and turn left here and right there and get on this road and follow it to that fork but stay left...when all it had to do was let me travel along the 495 to the second exit farther and go left...and I'd have been there in half the time.

Then I'm trying to get from Baltimore's Airport to hit the 83 for my return to Buffalo (I'm staying overnight in Harrisburg). I get to the 695 and I know that connects to the 83, so I'm toodling along in VERY slow traffic (it's like the 101 in the morning between Woodland Hills and downtown LA) when Google startles me by saying, "Take the exit for I-95 North." I'm thinking, maybe the traffic isn't as bad that way, so I do it. And it takes me into downtown Baltimore. As in, the city streets. Where you not only have to worry about drivers who know nothing about driving, but pedestrians who think the streets are to be crossed wherever and whenever they want. For miles. By the time I was on the 83 (which, apparently, does not have a direct connection to the 95) I was ready to pull out an Uzi and blow away a few hundred people. Harrisburg, it turns out taking me off the freeway and down some back residential streets is a more direct route to my hotel than just following the freeway around.

It's times like this you wish technology was still in the stone you'd have the damn stones to throw at people when they pissed you off.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

NY Does not do well in rain...

The view from my hotel window, this morning. A nice steady soft rain that sometimes got to be monsoon-like. Unlike LA, where when it rains people drive faster, driving in this city in the rain is like taking lessons in how to go so slow, you're headed backwards. And how construction on the freeways does not stop for a little precipitation. Cannot have the natives think they can get around easily in Queens; they might come to expect it.

So a drive to JFK that should have taken 20 minutes took an hour. Same for when I left to head for DC; a 15 minute drive took over an hour, especially crossing the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. Again, going so slow you're all but retracing your tire tracks. Crazy.

But soon as I was in New Jersey, the rain stopped, and the drive to DC was so uneventful, I had to stop a few times to keep from falling asleep.

At least I got here and saw the job and got my hotel -- a Holiday Inn with minimal WiFi that's next door to an Ikea -- and got some more done on OT. I need to spend about a week on nothing but the story instead of this stop and go crap I've been doing, because it gives Jake too much time to reconsider things and suggest changes I don't want to make.

And point out places where I'm missing opportunities to advance the story is Antony, now. He's snapping at me over the representation of his character in a couple of moments.

I still feel like I'm missing something in the story and can't figure out what it is. Like there's an aspect that would help clarify things and I can't see it...or I'm too focused to allow it in or something. Even having this space to let the story settle hasn't made it clear. I guess all I can do is keep plugging away and hope the revelation comes.


Monday, September 15, 2014

TOQATM and Bette

I don't know why, but all day while slamming through packing this collection of books in time to be picked up, the score for this movie was drifting through my head. And that is all I have to say...
Guess I'll have to watch it, again, when I get home.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Totally geeked out...

Today I saw an Apple I motherboard that still works. It was designed in 1975, is a bit larger than my laptop, and is in near pristine condition. Somehow a Mac guy connected his iPad to it and was able to write a program! Still! It's going to be offered at auction at Bonham's in San Francisco, and they have no idea what it will bring; it's too recent an acquisition. I have gone so fanboy, it's not funny.

Okay...Adam and Casey and I have had a nice little discussion and we've come to the conclusion The Alice '65 is as good as it's going to get as a script. Except for correcting typos that might get pointed out to me (of which I am sure there are plenty), I'm making no more changes. The next step is to tell the story as a book, like I did The Lyons' Den. Which I wouldn't mind doing. I'm happy with how LD turned out; I just need to work up a strategy to get it selling better.

Looks like I'll be taking a trip to the Genius Bar, again. My laptop's e-mail connection is weirding out, again. It keeps asking me for my password, but even though I input it, it rejects it. Dunno what's going on -- if it's age or something wrong with iCloud...but I've also been having trouble with my iphone, so it may be the cloud.

Did a little work on The Vanishing of Owen Taylor. The first section is pretty tight and sets everything up nicely, I think. I almost talked myself into changing what the mystery's about, again, but quickly talked myself out of it. I think I'm just skittish about how it will come across. Jake isn't, however; he's ready to be done.

God, so am I...

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Cleveland town...

I've never actually been there, but today I took a drive down to pick up my awards from The Indie Gathering.

All three are for Return to Darian's Point. As I understand it, the statue is for Best Horror Script, the plaque is for Best Feature Script, and the certificate is to verify it. I'll pop it into a frame when I get back from DC and put it on the wall. Verification that my work is likable.

I got to town a bit early so looked around the waterfront. Cleveland's building a new stadium for the Browns or the Indians or both, which didn't even begin to interest me. I think it's pathetic that billion dollar companies insist cities, counties and states give them hundreds of millions in tax breaks and funding so they'll build a place for their teams to play a couple times a year.

That's why LA doesn't have a football team -- the city and county told the NFL, "Fine, you want a team here with a new stadium, we're happy to have it. But you'll have to build it without taxpayer dollars." And the NFL tossed a fit and spit and moaned...and after fifteen years there is still no football team in the nation's second largest market. I don't care if they ever get one.

But the lakefront does have a couple of museums -- for Rock & Roll History and Science -- and a nice park and some boat rides, so it's a pleasant space. Very open.

The wind was brisk and Lake Erie was whipped up with whitecaps, none of which came out good in my photos, but the lake freighter was impressive, up close.

I drove on to my appointment...and saw the inner city looks like the rust belt is still intact. Much like sections of Buffalo. Rather sad. Coming back, I drove over the Cuyahoga River.

Randy Newman's song continues to resonate...

Friday, September 12, 2014

And it's done, again...

I spent the evening working on A65 and have it completed. I even cut it down from 112 pages to 110. There wasn't a lot to be gotten rid of or changed -- just moments where I was pushing the story too hard and not being willing to lose a joke that wasn't really comfortable where it was. I like the build of Casey's and Adam's relationship. It feels normal and natural...exactly what I'm after.

Adam's messing around with me was him being happy, too. As are Casey and Gertrude, and we like it when Gertrude's happy. A lot's been cut from the story that I could easily work into a book -- more about what happened with Adam's father...and Casey's dad...and a more complete explanation of what's happening -- but the script has enough to make it work.

Tomorrow I'm headed down to Cleveland to get my awards from The Indie Gathering, and Sunday I'm off to NYC, again. Then I'm driving down to DC and headed back to Buffalo by car, on Thursday. It's a pretty drive, through rolling hills of forest in a thousand shades of green...and maybe some fall golds. I've already seen leaves beginning to drift down.

Wonder if we'll get snow, already?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

My characters piss me off...

Sometimes. Not always. And I know how this sounds...and maybe I am psychotic...but at least it's a fun psychosis and not something dangerous. I hope.

Anyway, Adam was messin' with me. First he sent all these little notes about changes he wants made to The Alice '65, then he did a walkabout on me when I tried to get going on it. But tonight, I worked it through the first act of the script.

We're not talking major changes -- shifting the location of one scene, cutting some language, adding in some of Adam's reticence earlier, things like that -- but they help. So far it's not so much a new draft as another polish. I'm also getting rid of some too-easy jokes that seem rather juvenile.

Everybody else is sitting, waiting their turns, politely. Adam's just being a daftie.

Of course, as Adam shifts so does everyone else, in response. The biggest is with Orisi and his "I'm important and you're not" speech. It's shorter, terser and (I hope) funnier. But you never know.

The humor throughout this script has never been the laugh-out-loud kind. I can sort of get away with the romantic-comedy moniker, but it's really more like just pleasant in the funny department. Which I like. Romantic comedies rely more on the chemistry of the leads to make them work than the humor.

Great pairs -- Spencer Tracy & Katherine Hepburn; Cary Grant & Irene Dunn; Clark Gable & Claudette Colbert; Cary Grant & Rosalind Russell; Doris Day & Rock Hudson; Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan. (Oops, almost forgot Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck.) It is my fervent dream to add Russell Tovey & Eliza Dushku to that list, with a bit of help from Gertrude.

Who says I don't aim high?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Totally lost...

Adam...where are you? This isn't the time for hide-and-seek or Whack the Mole. If you changed your mind about the ideas you sent me for A65, say so. Silence is not golden, right now.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Unintended helpfulness

I'm reading a book on writing comedy, by Sol Saks, that is proving to be less about making people laugh and more about telling a good story. His rules --

Be brief, simple, clear, bold, relevant, recognizable, controversial, unpredictable, original, and salable.


Be courteous, reverent, or obedient; honor thy mother, father or any predecessor; have a false straight line; go past the punch line; explain; apologize; be innocuous; conform; be tentative; or be untimely.

His seven deadly sins of writing?

Bad Timing

The book is 30 years old and dated as regards what he considers funny...more smile-worthy...but it's reminding me of how I'm guilty of doing some of the no-nos and not doing the yes-yeses. My books have been controversial, unpredictable and bold, no question...but salable? Only barely. So, I read to write in writing to be read.

Hopefully it will keep me from drifting off into stupidville...but you never know.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Deadwood completed

All the nonsense I had to finish from the last 3 weeks is done and gone...and I've got a nice little headache from it. But I feel good. My checkbook is balanced. My credit cards are in order. I'm set up to do a couple of jobs in NYC and Washington DC, next week. I'm going to Seattle for the book fair, next month. Looks more and more like I'll be doing Hong Kong, again, but not Toronto, and will be in NYC the second week of December.

Oh...and Return to Darian's Point is in the Top 100 for Table Read My Screenplay, which is set in London, this year. I won't find out if I got it till I'm on the road...and Jesus God, how I'd love to win this one; it means a staged reading of my script by British actors before an audience. Oh, I so want to go to that. I'd even pay my own way...which I think I'd have to do.

I wonder if my Jet Blue points will work going to Heathrow? And how likely do you think it is that maybe Zac Efron would read as Perry? I get giggly just thinking about it. Yeah, totally a dream.

What's funny is, this came just 20 minutes after I learned RDP didn't even make the first cut at The Austin Film Festival. wins The Indie Gathering, does well in TRMS, and gets dissed totally in Austin. Not that I'm surprised, really. When Blood Angel was a Quarterfinalist in 2007 I went to the festival and read some of the winning scripts...and they were awful. Maybe I should be grateful; I don't know of a single winning script from Austin that's ever been produced.

And that's my sharky-snark for the day...

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Dead days work wonders...

It took me a while to get going, this morning. I had a ton of laundry to do and my whole system was out of whack...but I still managed to get back into The Vanishing of Owen Taylor and begin streamlining it. I really need to go through and make a list of all the characters, locations and time-frames; I realized I accidentally added 15 months to the whole situation between Jake and Tone from RIHC6.
Not cool...but that's what's so great about taking time off from your writing -- it gives you space to get a clearer view of what's happening.

I guess it was good that I didn't have much opportunity to really focus on OT while I was in LA. And since The Alice '65 is now knocking at my door (and people want to read it) I'm going to take a bit more time before I dive completely into Jake and Tone's world; I had the printout and was making notes as I cleaned my clothes.

For A65, I just need to do a polish to work in the ideas I had for Adam and Casey, then get it off, but I can only do that on my desktop; I don't want to buy a new version of Final Draft since I'm pulling back from scripts...but I can use the program to do plays, and The Cowboy King of Texas wants me to do that. Dammit. I can't think about this, now; I'll think about it, tomorrow.

My flight home was actually quite nice. We were in a 737-800 which has 8 emergency exit doors instead of 6, 2 of which only have two seats beside them and an extra space next to the door. I grabbed one of those and, since the plane wasn't full, no one sat beside me. That gave me three seat-back trays to work with...and I used 'em all. Totally fun.

So I guess now I have to take back some of my attitude about Southwest...

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Headed home...

I'm at LAX using the okay Wifi after finally finding a power source at Southwest's Terminal One. Man, it so shows how much better Jet Blue's Terminal 5 is. There, you can have all sorts of meals, have them delivered to your gate, find power sources all over the place, free WiFi without having to jump through hoops, and even free music in the main lobby, at times. And in the planes you get videos with your assigned seat, with some interesting information...and their prices are not that much more.

Southwest...there's a tiny food court, a couple more separate restaurants with limited seating, even the MacDonald's is closed down and it all feels very crowded. You have to watch a video or answer a question before you have access to free Wifi, and then you only get it for 45 minutes at a time...when it'll let you in. And it's still the cattle car line where if you don't pay the extra $12.50 for Early Bird Checkin, you wind up in B or C boarding group and sitting in a center seat.

My next trip to LA will probably be on Jet Blue...even if it means going into Burbank.

I had a nice meal with Kasey Sixt, the last real friend I've ever made. She just completed a promotional video for Edwards University and does all sorts of thing to keep herself going. She's one of those people who have to schedule in time to sleep. She once almost got my gothic horror script, Darian's Point, made through a company in Canada...and almost sold it to a Hollywood Producer...only it didn't work out. But those were the closest I've come to getting something actually produced.

The production credits I do have as a writer are for rewrites I did for other people's work. Not my preference. Anyway, she the second friend of mine to suggest making DP into a book...something I'd been thinking about, in general.

I wonder if I'm being told something, here?

Friday, September 5, 2014

Uncertain direction...

I was having dinner with some friends, last night, and told them a bit about Carli's Kills. My oldest and best friend, Karl Armstrong, who's an assistant editor at Paramount, popped up with the idea that Carli would make a great series of books, a la Jack Reacher. And that got Carli's attention...did it ever.

She knows I've considered using Jake Blaine in a series of gay mysteries. I even have a basic plot worked out for the next one -- Jake is asked by the Danish Government to investigate a soldier's death, because the Americans who handled it labeled it a suicide, and indications are that it was not.

That's as far as I've gotten, really, because I have so many other things I want to focus on...but Carli's got her mind going on the possibilities, and she already likes the notion of a woman being just as hard and strong and driven as a man. The positive thing is, this may take her away from the screenplay idea for a while and let me finish OT in peace.

Not that my other characters will let me. Today I got a nudge from Eric Smiley, the lead in Delay En Route. He's thinking of setting the script in 1982, when the G7 was having a summit in France.

And Cal wants me to make The Cowboy King of Texas into a play. NOW! And Adam's got ideas for The Alice '65 to make it better.

Jeez...I really need a long vacation away from everybody, even those in my own mind.

Thursday, September 4, 2014


Okay...I finally made my pilgrimage to Point Dume. I try to come out here every time I'm in LA to walk in the sand and let the Pacific mess up my pants. I don't know why I keeping doing it; I just know if I don't I feel incomplete. Maybe it's because I want to remind the muse or the fates or god or whatever that this is where they lied to me...or let me lie to myself; I'm not sure which.

This begins 15 years ago, because this is where I'd come to call a friend of mine who was dying of cancer. He was deteriorating fast, so I described the ocean's waves to him...and the rocks and floating gulls and the elegant breeze and the colors of the sky and the vivid silence. He was too weak to hold the phone to his ear so his son was doing it for him, but he heard me. He whispered so. He died two days later, and I swore I'd go all out to get my career in film going.

There was already talk of a Project Greenlight 2, so as soon as the rules were laid down, I arranged to shoot a scene to submit for consideration. I got some good actors, called in come favors, shot plenty of footage to work with, knew exactly what I needed to do, and I'd even taken into account some possible problems so had worked out a way around them. So after everything was transferred to an external hard drive, I drove out here to, in effect, say thanks...and show I was keeping my promise.

It was night, and the drive to Point Dume's parking lot was chained off, so I walked the mile to it. No moon, but a billion stars overheard and the incessant rumble of black waves rushing onto the sand. I got to the rocks and held the hard drive aloft, and I saw a couple of shooting stars. I whooped.

I also came out here to make the promo-video for the project I wanted to shoot, and stood on a moss-covered stone to plead my case. But that was during the day and much easier to do.

It was the next morning that the lies began to reveal themselves. To start with, the video had crap sound, but no problem -- I'd recorded the actors reading their lines onto a DAT tape. Only that tape vanished. Completely. I never got good sound for it. So even though the editing went exactly as I expected, my scene sucked.

Not that it would have mattered. I'd chosen the worst scene possible to present -- 4 guys getting ready to go on a hunting trip. No one liked the characters and I didn't even make the first cut, thanks to the negative reactions. Good sound would have been moot.

Then it turned out Project Greenlight was just an excuse to do some reality TV, that Ben Affleck & Matt Damon never intended to make good movies this way; that's why they kept choosing not only projects that were questionable (A Christian boy convinces a dying Jewish boy that he has to prove he's worthy of heaven; an underage boy falls in love with an older girl and makes it with her, even as she's about to get married) but let directors do such stupid crap, you had to wonder who was in control. And don't get me started on how every one of the winners of PGL had connections to them or their production company.

Here is where I began to back away from film, in steps and stages. Not consciously, at first, but looking back I can see the difference in my attitudes. Here is where I returned to writing books and short stories as well as scripts...and slowly began to lose my dreams about film. I do still dream, sometimes, but it's more from a sense of nostalgia than need.

Because on that night, as my hopes and prayers filled the sky and I thought I'd been given a sign that all would work out...I was just being set up for another fucking. And part of my heart disintegrated, once I finally caught on.

So maybe that is why I go to Point Dume whenever I can -- to remind the fates that I'm still here...and I'll never be there...and ask them if they're proud.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Jake's getting antsy...

He's ready to start having fun with OT, again. Maybe lots of fun. Lot more fun than I planned on. Way more. Dunno what's going on here, but this is the first time he's let me see him laughing. I think he's finally caught on that the whole situation in Palm Springs is too ludicrous to be taken seriously.

Or...maybe he doesn't want to be a tragic muse, after all. Problem is, my grasp of humor is questionable, at best. I can do a sort of wit and jokey dialogue, but actually being funny? The feedback is usually, "Keep your day job."

Of course, there's no way OT will be a comedy. But it never hurts to add a bit of levity. Who was it who said, "Comedy is tragedy taken to its logical extreme"? Did anybody? Have I coined a saying?

All I know for certain is, it wasn't Shakespeare, Milton or Marlowe.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Packing books, again...

I'm dealing with a library that has not been moved, dusted or cleaned in what looks like decades...and it's distressing. We're talking about books from as early as the mid-Eighteenth Century to modern volumes, some of them truly wonderful. But they had a problem with mice/rats and roaches...and the tell-tale signs are everywhere -- from droppings and trails to wheat-paste bindings and acid-free pages eaten away. That's what's so distressing. Many of the books are completely ruined, though parts might be salvageable if rebound.

It hurts me to see books in this condition. I understand why this happened; the owner's been unable to get about for some time now, and it seems no one else had really thought about checking the back rooms, where the worst of this was. But still...

They did bomb the place about a year ago and that appears to have driven most of the critters out, if not all. Now everything is getting packed and the new owners of these books will determine what next to do. I'm just working on one portion of the library, which may be the worst area.

I'm reminded of a library of books on magic and games that we packed up for Heritage Book Shop a few months before the owners announced the store would be liquidating...7 years ago. That man had stacks of books all over his 2-bedroom apartment. 12-15,000 of them piled into a maze that only someone skinny could get through. Wasn't easy for me, in parts.

For that, we used 230 banker's boxes, and it took me and another guy four days to complete the job. It wasn't far from the shop so I rented a small U-Haul cube truck to ferry them over, and hired some guys on a street corner to help carry them down from the apartment and upstairs into the store.

Turned out this man was an obsessive compulsive, who had dozens of bottles of cleansers and bags of soap and toilet paper and paper towels and cans of soup...and we had to clear everything out...but aside from the dust, the place was clean. We gave a lot of stuff away.

That library wound up going to a museum, and I didn't have to buy paper towels for the shop till it closed, nearly a year later.