Friday, August 31, 2007

Grrrr. Then, Ahhhh.


Starting tomorrow, it will be illegal to reincarnate in Tibet without the permission of the Chinese government.

I would be laughing hysterically right now if I weren’t so pissed off.

The superficial silliness of this new law belies more evil intent by the Chinese government. With this law in place, when HH the Dalai Lama dies and reincarnates, the Chinese government will be able to legally imprison the new Dalai Lama –- if he chooses to reincarnate in his homeland.

This way they’ll be able to do what they did with the last Panchen Lama -– whom they kidnapped and imprisoned when he was six years old in 1995. They then of course named their own Panchen Lama. Who, interestingly, seems to be very complimentary about the Chinese government’s handling of Tibet.

Fucking makes me go fucknuts.

Hey Greg, you have some pull over there. Can you talk to these people please?

Okay, let’s end with good stuff. HHDL would like that.

Today is my son’s second birthday and my father’s 69th birthday. We’re gonna have a kickass pizza-and-waterslide party tomorrow. Wanna come?

Recently, as I write, I’ve been mainly listening to two stations on iTunes radio: Ambient Popsicle from Groovera and Secret Agent on SomaFM. Check ‘em out.

But right now I’m listening to Art Pepper’s The Trip record. Great simple-and-beautiful jazz.

Currently reading Right Livelihoods by Rick Moody. Though it sounds Buddhist, it’s not. It’s a collection of three novellas and the first one is fantastic –- quietly funny and loopy about a retired guy who lives on a posh island and believes he’s uncovered an international plot to take over the island… though he’s not about to let that get in the way of his drinking or his dancing with driftwood sticks on the beach. Love it.

(If I were good at making links, I’d do so to make it easier for you to find these things. But I’m not. Sorry.)

Teen daughter comes home tonight. Baby daughter slept curled on my chest like a walnut half for two hours last night.

Feeling better. Ahhhh...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Thank You, Mr. Booker

This happens just about every time I'm at some gathering where small talk is required.

STRANGER: So what do you do?

ME: In what circumstance?

STRANGER: For a living.

ME: Oh, I'm director of development for an independent television production company.

STRANGER: Cool! So you make TV?

ME: Well, I used to be a producer, so I used to actually make the shows, but now I'm in charge of development.

STRANGER: Cool! How does that work?

ME: I'm sorry, I think my ankles are on fire. Excuse me.

But now, I have a quick and easy summary I can reference to help explain what my professional life is. Thank you, Mr. Charlie Booker, for this helpful primer:

Monday, August 27, 2007

No Lifeguard On Duty

I dove into D Line revisions on Saturday night.

Into the shallow end.


I started at 9. The boy was asleep, the girl was nestled with Mom and Nana as they watched Take The Lead.

It was a perfect set up for me. I had the notes of some trusted readers. I had my own notes as to what I wanted to do, having gone through the entire script several times. I had free time. I had Charles Lloyd’s Hyperion With Higgins playing. It was quiet. Dark.

I started nodding off at the keyboard around 9:30.



Thankfully my son is a wunderkind and pulled me out (though I outweigh him by 165 pounds), performed CPR, expelling all the water from my lungs, and then crawled back into his bed with his stuffed octopus.

But the baby slept pretty well last night, so I’m not particularly exhausted now. Went for a long bike ride yesterday afternoon. That always helps with energy and ideas. Maybe I’ll take the boy out for a run in the jogging stroller after work.

And then… then I dive back in. Trying not to knock myself out this time.

PS: Thanks for all the kind words about the wee one!

PPS: Realized I should do a Dismal update. We have written offers from three distributors/sales agents and a verbal one from a fourth. Once that fourth set of paperwork comes in, we'll go over all of them, hem and haw, decide, question our decision, undecide, argue, have a couple drinks, stare at the wall, then decide and sign. So hopefully in a few weeks I'll be able to announce the distribution deal we went with and you all can start buying multiple copies of this film, or start pestering your local theater owner to run it if the deal includes domestic theatrical...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

She's Here

Born Monday at 11:21am. 7 lbs, 14 oz.

Mainly purple for the first few minutes.

Perfectly healthy and wonderfully beautiful.

‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky.

While Greg’s important post at the Web of Lies a few days ago reminds me how depressing the world can be, this wee lass reminds me how fantastic it can be.

Last post I mourn the loss of a young and gifted artist named Ringo. This one I celebrate the arrival of this lovely girl.

A little yin for your yang, people.

Am I happy, or in misery?

As for writing, just before she was born I finished my first pass at full revision notes on the hard copy of the D Line script. Next up is tracing each character’s arc to look for weaknesses, then making the changes to the script itself.

Last night I was soothing the baby girl at 3am when the toddler boy cried out from his room. Went in to check on him, babe in arms, and found he had terrible diarrhea, spilling out onto his PJs, his mattress.

Purple haze all in my mind, don’t know if it’s day or night.

Gonna be like this for a while.

But I’m gonna do my best to finish up this script soon.

Baby’s doing well. Teenage daughter says she might come home from college for the weekend.

Whatever it is that girl -– by which I think Jimi means “those girls, that boy” -- put a spell on me.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Mike Wieringo, one of my roommates my freshman year of college, passed away last Sunday, apparently of a heart attack. He was 44 years old.

Mike was a fantastic guy –- wildly talented with his comic book art, very funny in a dry, self-deprecating way… and the only person I’ve ever known to fall asleep standing up at a party. You should see the praise the people in the comic world are writing about him –- Google him, you’ll see how respected he was.

Toward the end of our year together, I screwed up one night and was an inconsiderate roommate –- loud and stupid. Rightfully, Mike got pissed -– and there was some tension as we parted ways.

Over the years I kept up with his career from afar –- seeing his work in some comics (I’m admittedly not a huge comic fan, but I do maintain a subscription to Iron Man, the comic I loved as a kid) and checking in on his website ( now and again to see his daily blogs and sketches. I kept telling myself I should write to him, to reconnect, but I never did.

I got back in touch with his brother Matt -– another roommate, and another talented artist and hilarious mofo, with an encyclopedic knowledge of film -– a couple years ago… but never did with Mike.

Wherever he is I hope Mike knows I always thought he was cool as shit and that I’m sorry I was an ass.

Last night, thinking of Mike, I wrote to my high school biology teacher to thank her for being such a great teacher and role model -– someone from whose bag of tricks I stole almost every day I taught. This was something I’ve been meaning to do for years.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Totally Boring

Some preliminary progress in terms of the D Line rewrite. But only a little bit, and in fits and starts. Haven’t been able to devote any real, consistent time to it.

But the nursery’s looking good, and we’re ready for the baby, whenever she decides to join us.

At this stage what I’ve been doing is compiling the notes that I got –- the ones I agree with I mean -– and then going through a hard copy of the script and writing my own notes about what I want to change, add, delete, rework. Sometimes my notes are specific, with the action and dialogue I want, and sometimes they’re fairly vague placeholder stuff like “Add scene where Michael fails to help Moses.” And sometimes it’s a mix.

But so far, I haven’t come upon any insurmountable problems, so that feels good.

I need to finish that step, and then I want to go through each of the major characters’ story arcs, tracking just their scenes, to make sure they’re all sound, noting on the hard copy wherever there are problems. Then I’ll dive in and actually make all the changes.

And, judging how things normally go with a newborn, that’ll probably be Fall of ’08.

But I did finally read and write notes on Ryan’s comedy script -– though I still owe Jeff the same on his horror/thriller. Sorry Jeff.

By the way, Ryan had a script he wrote for a short optioned, so that’s very cool. It’s always nice to have validation, so I bet he’s psyched –- even though he’s playing so cool he’s not even blogging about it.

I've been cheating a little. I told myself to focus just on the D Line rewrite, to get through it so I can move on, but I keep finding myself jotting down setups and dialogue for this action-suspense thing I've had in my head for a few months...

Toldja. Totally boring post. But hey, I posted.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Got tagged by Greg. Wrote a song about it, like to hear it, here it go:

1. My first year trying to be a writer I made about $14,000. And a good chunk of that was for the part-time work I did at a preschool program at a rec center. It’s a tough business, writing. That year, my daughter and I didn’t have enough money to buy good ornaments for the Christmas tree (we lost a box of them, I think in a move, and had to replace them) so we made them. Out of things like milk jugs, toilet paper rolls and Star Wars figures. Those are still my favorite Christmas tree ornaments.

2. This is my dream possession:

Everyone knows that when you have kids you don’t have much money, space or time to buy a lot of things for yourself. This actually works out okay for me, because I’m not that into things. Thankfully, my wife is not shy about telling me when it’s time to buy a new pair of Levis. But this bike, man I’m aching to buy it. Tricked out, it’s only about six grand. That’s not so much, right? Right?

3. I can sleep pretty much anywhere at any time. If I’m tired and there’s nothing else I need to do and nothing else stopping me, I can take a nap anywhere.

4. I have a little bit of an OCD thing in that if I have to mail a bunch of letters, I’ll count them a few times in between putting on the stamps and putting them in the mailbox. This has become much less of an issue in the age of online banking. So thanks, Bank of America. Oh, also, I often do a countdown from 10 when doing a task with a definite ending –- like filling a glass with water –- pacing it so I start with 10 and hit 1 at the end. It’s kinda like I find the 10-beat rhythm of it. Weird, right? I don’t get it myself. I bet only my brother thinks it's cool, but he's a drummer and loves anything about rhythm.

5. Sometimes I think about becoming a physicist or a biologist – can’t decide which.

6. I think it’s shameful that I'm not bilingual. I mean, I can get by in rudimentary French, and I muscled through trips to Mexico, Guatemala and Costa Rica, but it’s terrible how monolingual I am. Arrogant American bastard. I so want and need to learn Spanish. Gotta get on that.

7. I am absolutely and utterly bewildered by this Bush-Cheney administration.

8. I donate to charity often, as requests come up, but for 15 years I’ve also been sending monthly donations to these people: My wife is friends with some of these people: and now we also give monthly donations to them. But still, I don’t do enough for the world. There are so many people out there who have it off so much worse than me -– so much that we’re not even in the same game. I know this, so why don’t I do more? Actually, I should get on that before I go learn Spanish.

9. My junior year of high school, I got third place in the two-mile at the state champion track and field meet. Hey, you take your glory where you can find it. I was determined to win the next year, but then I blew my knee out training for cross country my senior year and so did not compete in track that year. Or ever again. So much for glory. Now I think back to when I could run two miles in less than 10 minutes and I weep. Openly.

10. I am neither smarter than, nor a better writer than, our friend Greg at the Web of Lies and Deceit. (See his tag post.)

Now, in terms of tagging others, I’ll just do Jeff of Gimpdom 149. He's new to the fold and we'll welcome him this way (plus I think most of the others have already been tagged…).

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Inspiracion Mexicana

Yesterday at lunch I listened to the Creative Screenwriting podcast of their interview and Q&A with Guillermo Arriaga.

I really love his movies, or the ones I’ve seen at least: Amores Perros, 21 Grams, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, Babel. All very complex, very smart, very stylish. I love the way he leaves a lot for the viewer to do, not answering every question, how he interweaves storylines so powerfully, how the characters in his films are fantastically fucked up and authentic.

A few times I’ve been a little confused by some of the connections between his multiple plotlines. Like Chieko, the Japanese girl in Babel. She was absolutely brilliant -– both as a written character and as played by Rinko Kikuchi –- but the connection to the other stories felt a bit forced. Her father gave the Moroccan guy the gun? A little too tangential, compared to the rest?

(Of course, who am I to judge, right? At lease Arriaga has some freaking movies in the theaters…)

But anyway, he’s one of my favorite screenwriters so I was glad to listen to him talk -– he spoke mainly about Babel, but also about his process in general. And to tell you the truth, it sounded a lot like my process. And he's so honest and unapologetic.

In fact, he was downright inspirational.

I decided that I’d go home and plow right into D Line, feeling validated that the way I write, and the type of stories I create, might just work. Especially this script.

I was so pumped up that after I finished dinner, gave the boy a bath and tucked him in bed…

…I put together a bookcase for the boy's room and worked with my wife getting the nursery ready for the baby.

Sorry Guillermo, mi companero, I failed you.

But tonight! Tonight I write!


(And I'm a jerk, Ryan and Jeff, for not having gotten to your scripts yet. But tonight! Tonight I read! Maybe?)