Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday Morning and I'm running late

So, the semifinals of the CS-Open scene-writing contest was held at 7:00 PM last night; I'm not making excuses (OK, I am making excuses), but that is not usually my time of peak performance. I tanked.

I attempted a scene with a high degree of difficulty, a veritable Triple Lindy of literary acrobatics. The premise was something like: your protagonist double-crosses his ally and his ally is double-crossing him. I tried to stage it in a 2nd Grade classroom where two boys attempt to cheat in order to win some unknown prize. About midway through the hour and a half, I realized I'd written myself into a dark corner and was well and truly fucked.

I decided to have the boys speak as Shakespearean actors in juxtaposition to the condescending tone of Miss McGonagal their teacher. A problematic child named Nadine ( runs out of the classroom giving our boys the chance to conspire.

It was a bad idea poorly executed.


Now the Australians are mucking around, hungover and stinky. I'm going to have to say farewell and drive myself cuz they're never going to rally. Blistering drunk last night after my trainwreck of a scene.

I've got a 10:35 pitch with Bold Films and I'm not feeling terribly bold. At least we're in the AM, though, which is nice.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

What's the 'O' stand for?

It’s morning now, paper-boy early and I’m back at the folks’ place trying to capture the mood of the expo yesterday, I didn’t sit through a single session, it was all pitching all the time. My first meeting with Manheimer went well, I thought. She asked for my email address which I took for a good sign. I felt more loose for the second one with Cine LA, but didn’t stick it, got lost talking about myself (a bad habit of mine). I’m a writing narcissist, in love with the sound of my own scratching pen. I spent my youth listening to my mother tell stories, gossiping on the phone and it’s reflected in my story-telling. It’s like the truth but better. Which reminds me I overheard this guy talking about Freud…
“Freud had a primitive conception of the human mind. If I am going to understand how the human mind processes a film visually, I need to know…
(drowned out by buzzsaw noise. I was outside and there were construction crews setting up for the auto show).

“There is forgetting…”
(In new pen. Fuck, another pen bites the dust.)
This guy must be a filmmaker or cinematographer, he’s talking about Freud and working the viewer based on the views of psychology vis-à-vis Freud’s.

“Transferrence…Difficult moments cause defense mechanisms – there are 23. Freud’s daughter had a better grasp, vital…”

Baah…Gotta go.

4:00 Session
Again crowded. Sat outside (see Freud) wanted a cigarette, didn’t have on.
Victoria Wisdom – she looks like a skinnier Tracy Ullman. Stands up there after griping about not getting her apple juice and starts with:
“You all are writers and you’ve been talking about writers. I’ve got a different psychology…”
(No shit, she said ‘psychology’ – I think she used the word wrong, but still…)
“I make movies. You have to learn how to find opportunities.

(Something about an email from thee Dali Llama)

“Learn the rules so you can break them.”

Amen, sister. A-fucking-men.

Then I have a bunch of notes trying to incorporate what she was talking about into my Gone Postal story, which I don’t have to go into here, you can see how it looks now, here: http://

To summarize her session(s) (because I stuck around for her next one, as well), they kicked ass. I totally reworked my pitch, it was the most insightful and practical sessions I’ve gone to so far. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Howard Allen and Mark Sevi, they were really good at teaching the craft, but you can write the best script in the world, but if you don’t know how to sell it, you got a popcorn fart.

Ugh, it’s now 6:44 in the am on Saturday and I’ve got twelve hours before I write in the semi-finals of the CS-Open scene-writing competition.

I’m feeling kind of sick, I threw down two naproxen on top of four cups of coffee at 5 in the morning, and I’m no mathematician, but that’s an ugly equation not even quantum mechanics can solve.

That’s OK, I made some sausages, all will be well soon, don’t you fear, no don’t you fear little belly, you’ll have pork product soon, that’s a good boy, who’s a good boy…

cursor flashes
cursor flashes
cursor flashes
fuck you, flashing curser

gotta run...

Made it to the semi-finals of the CS-Open, baby!

11-14-8 6 PM at the rip-off Italian place across the street from Staples
(Scrawled on my notes from my second attempt at the scene-writing contest. I adapted the Gone Postal idea to the premise, just as I’d adapted The Cat idea to the first session.)

So, I wrote this shit in black (referring to the aforementioned notes) for the second screen-writing competition, not knowing I could have picked up my first one. After I go through the angst of writing another one, they tell me I can pick up the first which got a 92. I was already IN the semifinals.

I think the second one was pretty good, too.

I asked the woman what would happen if I got two, thinking maybe I could try to do two in the next round, but she didn’t quite get me. I was too happy to stick around and try to explain.

Sam Adams Sad Adams, Martin Frick, funny.

Whose a guy gotta fuck to get a beer in this place? Amateurs.

I can’t believe I spent $35 here last night for a beer a glass of jug wine and leftover gnocchi. The only thing worse is coming back. Fuck, N-EL.

Two lesbians sat down next to me and I think the far one thought I was trying to pick up on her girlfriend. She was from Ohio, going to the Laker game, apparently they’re 7-0, don’t know who won last night.

In a hurry...

JB meets and falls in love with Rosie, the proprietress of a pawn shop, her brother Hector is the Meth Kingpin of the Pacific Northwest. He hooks them up with Spencer, a well-connected lawyer, pulling the strings behind the scenes to foment revolution.

Spencer is Adam Sandler, a great role like Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder.


15 minutes to pitch. Everyone is walking around telling their stories, practicing their pitches. It’s hot. I stole a chair and am sitting at a window sill because all the tables in the Galaxy Café are full. Gotta shut down, I’ll post this later, probably from home.

Tell me more...

Johnny Boston botches the job, gets shipped back to Seattle where he learns everyone he’d trusted had tricked him, and his love interest, Rosie (Penelope Cruz) has been kidnapped by her brother, Hector (George Lopez). To redeem himself, Johnny organizes his crew, takes a USPS semi and a convoy of support vehicles south to the last bastion of the Federal government in the western states, Orange County. After a shootout at South Coast Plaza Johnny’s arrested by the Feds, but not before he shoots and kills Hector, in front of Rosie who informs Johnny she’s pregnant with his child.

Friday the Fourteenth

Fuck me, but that was grueling, CS-Open scene-writing contest. It reminded me of taking a final when I was at Berkeley; long tables, an empty blue book, You get a question you have no idea how to answer so you gotta make shit up. Being a slacker in college, missing classes and then going into the final blind prepped me well. 1:45 first pitch, Manheimer – mafia, heist neo noir, dark comedy
2:05 Cine LA international locations, thrillers

Perfect for Gone Postal
It’s a political thriller with the sensibilities of The Daily Show
Think drunk James Bond meets Hitchcock’s accidental hero in North by Northwest.

Hapless loser (Luke Wilson) works the night shift at the Post Office, he and his buddy (Wyatt Cedak) steal the junk mail and sell it as recycling to get beer money.

It gets out of hand, all the post offices in the Northwest start doing it, attracting the attention of the mobster who has amalgamated recycling into his waste management business. Marco, who is really a Jewish kid from the suburbs fashioning himself as a Mafioso, blackmails them into using the USPS distribution network to run drugs and guns. To extricate themselves they turn to a man who is masterminding the secession of the Western States of America.

Johnny Boston is trained (a la Sarah Palin) to be an emissary on a diplomatic mission to Korea in search of international allies for the new WSA.

Friday, November 14, 2008

In Glendale

It's the morning of Day 2 and I have a bunch of notes from yesterday, but my brother-in-law is coming to pick me up in 38 minutes and I don't know if I can type them up in time. In short, I went to some great sessions. With the nagging suspicion that this thing might be a rip-off, I had fairly low expectations, which might have something to do with my positivity (?).

Sorry, I'm typing this on my mom's computer which is unfortunately situated in the path of the rising sun. Damn sunlight causing horrible glare. I can't work under these conditions!

A woman named Wisdom shed some light on the pitching process and I think I've honed Gone Postal. It's a Political Thriller with the sensibilities of The Daily Show. A drunk James Bond as Hitchcock's accidental man in North by Northwest. Good vehicle for Luke Wilson with Wyatt Cenak as his partner in crime.

LA is beautiful today, the Santa Anas have blown away the smog, San Gabriels pasted against blue sky and I'm reminded why so many people love living here. One chucklehead in UCLA garb talking to another chucklehead in USC garb talking Pac-10 football in front of me in line at Starbucks reminds me of why I didn't and wouldn't. And apparently Santa Barbara's on fire.

OK, no more, I have to get out of the light, this is killing me. The combination of a wine hangover and this glare are not two great tastes that go great together. No, I don't know what that means. Ugh.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Before the sessions started

Guy walking by whistling the Looney Tunes tune.


I should probably not need to say when I’m telling the truth or not. Before I left Galaxy Café I heard this from the same guy who interrupted me and who was now interrupting some poor woman who’d been typing. blah blah

“I’m happy, I just finished my treatment.”
“Oh, yeah, what’s it about if you don’t mind my asking, don’t want to steal your idea.”
“Oh, no problem, ideas exist in space, I’m manifesting mine in a script.”
“So, what’s it about?”
“It’s a historical drama, a Western.”
“So, it’s based on real events?”
“Yes, a character named Charlie Parkhurst.”
“Charlie Parker, I know Charlie Parker, let me tell you about Charlie Parker…”
“No, not Charlie Parker, Charlie Parkhurst, Charlie Darkie Parkhurst.”
“But Charlie Parker was a jazz musician, I thought you said it was a Western. I know jazz…”
“Right, no. It is a Western, Charlie Darkie Parkhurst was a stage coach driver…”

I stood up, gave her a smile and tried to sneak into the speakers' green room, got kicked out now I’m scrawling this atop a trash can.

Getting here, Part II

Dad got me home last night from LAX. Dropped me off here this morning, well actually by the service entrance where they’re packing up boxes, big crates for the auto show emblazoned Toyota, Mercedes Benz, the rest, GM, Ford, et al bailed not bailed out going out of business. And here we are, lots of people looking (or trying to look) like writers, and players, “He wanted to sell the rights for $10 million!” loudly said by passerby as I walked into the airy foyer. No lie.

My mom sent me off with bananas and nuts, the irony of which I didn’t note until squatting over beer shits in crappy bathroom stall. I haven’t told her I’m on the meds, psychiatrist told me to; so how could she know. I would have took no offense either way.

Home. LA. A few years on Bainbridge, nearly two decades in the Bay Area and I hardly recognize the place. Last time I was down here, down by the convention center, none of this existed, no Staples (Fabulous Forum you’re not), no…, well, I don’t even know what else is down here but it looks like a lot of gentrify (simper fi, gentrify?)

Oddly enough, I came to an auto show here once with Dad and Uncle Bob, had dinner at the Hofbrauhaus (gone, of course) old beer hall, alpine scenes, murals with cows and blonde pigtails (on Heidi not cows), polka music and a woman who’d walk around with a Polaroid taking pictures and selling them framed in cheap cardboard.

The Pantry’s still there and I might go check it out just so I can write about how it’s not like it was in the old days when I’d put the phones on hold and leave the office for lunch with Dad and the crew: lawyers, accountants, a secretary or two. There or Philippe’s or Taix or Canter’s or, or, or Denny's or sumpin'.

Now it’s bananas, nuts and I’m going to roam the hall.

Getting here, Part I

So, I got loaded the moment the wife dropped me off, beers on the ferry, beers at the Pioneer Square Saloon, it was reverse commute. I love drinking going east, and west, oh, who am I kidding, I love drinking. I go to Hotel 1000 and have a happy hour Guinness at BOKA just cuz it was so fucking unnecessary, peel the labels off the lemons in the bowl before me, placing them on the plastic shielding my ID...purity purity purity purity…

The SDMA meeting was fun, we’re going broke and need desperately to bring in some money, I suggested a Holiday Party for the Unemployed. You’ve been canned, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun.

Had a few drinks with Cynthia and I bolted for the airport, got lost, somehow missed the bus tunnel, walked back to the one before Benaroya Hall, but missed the last ride to the airport by 4 minutes. Had to go wait in misty Seattle rain on Second until the 7:05 194 which got me to the airport 20 minutes late for an earlier flight. Baah.

Had my corkscrew confiscated at security, a beer and bacon cheeseburger, then a seat between a guy from Mexico who’d moved to Alaska, and a guy from Alaska who’d moved to Mexico. Miniature tennis match head movements. “I’ve never lived in Alaska or Mexico,” I offered, trying to participate. I passed out until the beer cart came round.

Thursday morning, the welcome pack

So, the first time I try to “write” anything at this screenwriter’s conference (with some cheap giveaway pen) the fucker doesn’t even work, and I end up with biting invisible scrawl…carved into paper at a spot which I’ve now reached and must write across like speed bumps, bumpbumpbump. The inky tip won’t even retreat…bumpbumpbump. “PeopleJAR,", yeah, that sounds good. “Connecting screenwriters worldwide.” Just buy better tchotchkes.

I’m feeling shattered, my hands shaking as I write, as I tried to fit my badge in lanyard, as I flip through envelope holding “Golden Pitch” tickets which turn out to be yellow (I want my money back!)

This is a better pen, suits me, sloppy and loose. Looking through program...AWG...supporting writers, blah blah. Now this would be funny…Actone “trains Christians for careers in mainstream film and television.” I could go undercover, pretend to not have drifted (RAN) from Catholicism, and use their services. When I win the Academy Award, I stand up and say, “I’d like to thank the dark lord, Satan, without whose help none of this would have been possible, oh, and Actone, the self-righteous pricks trying to infiltrate the secular with their doctrine. Thank you, thank you very much.”