14 May 2008

a surprising first.

I know I'm a relatively intelligent person but I've never been evaluated to any impressive results at any point of my academic career. But, with the final grades from last semester in, I've finally done it. Nick Campbell got straight As for the first time in his life. You're totally surprised, aren't you? How has Nick Campbell gone through his entire life and NOT gotten straight As?

I imagine it has something to do with my wanting to play video games and jump on the trampoline instead of studying in high school. Those things may actually have had a lot of impact on my first year in college, too (minus the trampoline). To a lesser extent I could blame my fake autism (which isn't real autism -- just a collection of antisocial behavior and a lack of conventional communication skills that makes you think, "Is there something wrong here?").

I have a bar now. It has been set. I can get straight As. And I have. I present to you: Nick Campbell, Sometimes Overestimated but Slowly Climbing Toward the Goals Set by the Self-Imposed Pressure of His Perception of His Genius Super Student, Maker of All As.

03 April 2008

(pt 11)


[David, Squibs and Rob sit on the couches at David's apartment, staring at the blank television. David's apartment is what one would expect of a one-bedroom in which he lives alone: not a sanitary hazard but essentially minor squalor with mismatched furniture, barren cupboards but an impressive movie collection.]

So you've been without TV for --
Two weeks. Just me and the internet.
And you can't even watch movies?
Nope. All that comes up on the screen is that thin line across the middle.
[flips a large piece of black plastic with his foot] And what is this plastic shrapnel?
That's to the back of the TV. See, when it used to do this I'd hit the back of it and the picture would come back up. One day I hit it and it caved in. So I started hitting the other side. And then it caved in and now the entire case is broken off.
So now there's nothing to hit.
Exactly. So I'm left with the thin line. Sound is great but no picture.

[There's another period of silence. David looks at his watch.]

What time is it?
Six thirty.
[to Squibs] And when does the movie start?
Eight fifty.
Right. Right.
So what's going on with that guy from the studio?
Well, "studio" is a strong term. Right now they're more kinda like an investment firm. At least that's what my friend told me. They seemed really interested in the script though. He said he was going to show it to his boss.
Cool. Cool.
Yeah, that'll be great.

[There's another period of silence. David repositions himself.]

God, your house is boring without TV.
You're telling me. You've only been here for fifteen minutes. I have to live here and stare at the three DVDs I bought just before it went out.
You can watch them on your computer.
It's not the same.
Like watching it on that thing was any better. How old was that set?
Six, seven years.
It was like a dinosaur. Doesn't even have component inputs, does it?
[to Squibs] So, what's going on with you and that girl Jessica?
What do you mean?
She's pretty hot.
Yeah, I think she's cute.
Are you going to ask her out?
I don't know, man. I think there are rules. We have the same advisor and we have to work together everyday.
She's really hot.
[as Rob laughs] Ha yeah!
And, you know, smart and talented.
And just fantastic-looking boobs.

[Rob backhands David's arm as David tries to make the international symbol for breasts. David breaks his pose and laughs.]

She wants me to read part of her thesis and tell her what I think. Should I offer to let her read part of my thesis?
Sure. If she says she's too busy you'll know that she's not that into you. But if she says that she will then I think you have a shot.
It's like show and tell. I'll show you mine if you show me yours. Starts off with your boring papers but then it turns into books you like, music you listen to. Maybe then you play a little show and tell with just a touch of nipple. Pull your shirt down and show the top of yours and then she shows you the top of hers.
[staring at David but talking to Squibs] Have you finished any part of your thesis yet?
Nothing I want to show the world.
So it's a moot point then.
Yeah. But I might finish a part just to give her something to read.
Oh, you'll give her something to read.
What? David -- get laid.
It's not like that, you know? She's just -- really cool. We have a good time.
That's really cool, man.

[There's another bit of silence.]

It's kind of nice not having a TV here. We get to sit around and just hang out instead of rotting our brains with television.
Right. Just quiet. Chill.

[More silence.]

Who wants to go watch "The Twenty" four or fives times before the movie starts.
Yeah, let's get out of here.


30 March 2008

examples of promos if i were to host Saturday Night Live.

[Amy Poehler stands alone with musical guest Feist in the foreground. As she speaks Nick rises slowly from below the shot, doing the elevator gag while staring at his watch.]

Hi, I'm Amy Poehler with this week's host, Nick Campbell, and musical guest Feist.
[pokes head out of imaginary car, looks around] This isn't my floor. [goes back inside car; pokes Amy in the back to push floor button and to close elevator doors]

[Nick stands with Tina Fey and a couple members from the group Death Cab for Cutie.]

Hi, I'm Nick Campbell, hosting SNL this week with musical guest Death Cab for Cutie.
I hear you think I'm a cutie.
[looking straight ahead at the camera] Bite me, Fey.


[Nick stands with Jorma Taccone.]

Hey, I'm Nick Campbell and I'll be hosting SNL this week with musical guest Foo Fighters -- and that's ka-blammy.
[deadpan] What happened to Ka-Blamo?
I mean Ka-blamo.
Good, that's better.

29 March 2008

an open letter to olivia munn.

Olivia --

While watching a recent episode of your program, a few questions came to mind that hopefully you can answer for me.

  1. Come clean, Munn. I know it's not widely acceptable for females in Hollywood to say in the open whether or not they've had work done to their appearance but it's time you dealt us the truth. Do you have robot eyes? Don't deny it.
  2. Are you afraid someone is going to paste your face over someone else's body and try to pass it off as you -- like the next time you look up "Two Girls One Cup" you'll see a video of you doing work on a mug?
  3. Does the behind-the-scenes activity on your set play out more like Sports Night, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip or West Wing?
  4. Are you as bored as I am during the "In Your Pants" segments? I'm not sure what I expect for those pieces but with the build-up, everyone saying girls are going in my pants throughout your broadcast and then the the intro with a young woman moaning I always feel deflated when it's just about a guy being disinterested in his partners. It seems like a lot of hype. Take a page from Sue Johanson's book or read Regina Lynn's columns and explore Nerd Sex a little more. Teledildonics is fast-growing field.
  5. G4 employs a great many good-looking women as hosts and your show awkwardly tries to squeeze in as many segments as possible featuring half-naked models. Do you feel the reason for this is to balance out the scary folk showing up on Cops and Cheaters (aka the other 85% of programming on your network)?
  6. Who would win in a decathlon of host duties: Kevin Pereira or Joel McHale (there will be a physical challenge involved -- much like Double Dare)?

Thank you for your time, your patience and your understanding. I hope you'll take some of my suggestions to heart. I'm telling you: teledildonics. It's like sex without all that bothersome 'leaving the house' nonsense.

26 March 2008

(pt 10)


[Inside the restuarant Rob works at after close, the first shoot is being set up. Squibs oversees Ryan and Sam setting up the equipment and cheap lighting equipment while David goes over lines with Kyle and Beth, both of whom are dressed with matching uniforms and waist aprons. Rob talks to a large part of his fellow staff who are acting as extras.]

First of all, thanks for sticking around after close for everyone that worked tonight. I know you guys are all tired and probably smell a little bit like onion rings but, since most of you work for $2.15 an hour, you guys are used to being cheap labor.

[Everyone laughs. Rob picks up a small bulletin board with pieces of scrap paper pinned to it.]

This is what we have to accomplish. We're going to attempt to get through these tonight. They're all really easy scenes, mostly just dialog between Beth and Kyle, and we're going to get some B roll to fill in and then you're free to go. I'd also like to thank you guys still working in the kitchen to make some food for everyone. You guys are superstars. We'll start up in just a few minutes.

[He puts the board down and walks toward Squibs, who gives him a thumbs up, and David, who does the same. David and Rob sit down in chairs near the camera.

Okay, let's rehearse it a couple times first, then we'll shoot it. Whenever you're ready, Beth, you start.

[She takes a breath and walks over toward Kyle. Sam practices the movements by panning with her. Kyle and Beth start their scene.]

[whispering] We totally cast the right girl, didn't we?
I think so.
Any girl that can work a black cotten tee like that is the right girl for the part.
[smiling] Pay attention, man
Seriously, she's looking foxy.
I know. I'm trying to listen.
[after a brief pause] Do you think we should put in some different shoes. Like some strappy sandals or something?
There's no way anyone working in a place like this would be serving tables in strappy sandals. You want to be comfortable if you're going to be on your feet all the time.
What about those athletic sandals? And, ooh, capri pants! Or, like yoga pants or something.
That's like the worst combination ever. She's not lounging around the house. What are you talking about?
All right, all right. I just want it to be perfect.
By putting her in give-ups? Why not just have her in sweats?
Because that wouldn't be as hot --
What? I don-- oh my God. It's a foot thing, isn't it? You want her to show off her ankles?
Who would it hurt?
Me. You hurt me. I know too much about you now.
[loudly to interrupt their whispering] Guys!
How was that?
I'm sorry, let's run through it again real quick because Jabberjaw over here was flapping his gums.
My gums do not flap.
Sorry. Let's take it again. [to Squibs] How did it look?
Good. It looked good.

[Beth and Kyle take their marks again as Sam resets the camera to its initial position. They wait for a cue.]

[to David] You got anything else for me?

[David doesn't respond. Rob turns back to Beth.]

Whenever you're ready, sweetheart.

[The scene rehearsal starts again. Just as it's getting underway Rob and David hear something behind them from the crowd of waitstaff. They turn around and see Sara, dressed in a tank top, a hoodie and jeans, talking to some of the people, friends of hers through Rob. Rob gets up, taps David to pay attention to the scene, then walks over to his girlfriend.]

[whispering] Hey, you. Decided to swing by and watch?
Actually, you forgot your keys. I would not have been pleased to have to let in in the middle of the night.
You would probably have just left me out there.
Nah. I'd think about it for a few seconds. But then I'd eventually get up.

[They smile then kiss. Ryan, holding the boom, frees up one hand to slap Sam in the shoulder. Sam looks up from the lens.]

[whispering] Gah. What?
Check that out.
What? [looks back at Rob and Sara] Oh, who is that?
I think that's Rob's girlfriend.
What? How did Rob pull ass like that?
Hey, that's my sister.
Rob is doing it with your sister?
Ugh, do you have to put it like that?
Are they together together? Or is she dating other people?
Are you trying to hook up with my sister?
[slapping Sam on the arm] Hey, pay attention.

[They go back to their jobs in silence for a few beats.]

But growing up you've had to walk in on her in the shower or something at least once. How does she look naked?
What is wrong with you?

[David turns back to Kyle and Beth who are waiting, arms crossed. Rob goes back to sit in his seat.]

Sorry about that guys. So, how was it, David?
Um, I, uh -- [leans over to Rob] So heels would be way over the top, right?
One more time, guys, sorry.

[With a sigh, Beth and Kyle take their marks again and Sam resets the camera. Rob nods and the scene begins again. Outside of Kyle and Beth there is silence for a few moments.]

So what's the story with you and that girl over there? Are you guys serious?
[in a normal tone] Excuse me?
Hey, are you guys going to pay attention or am I doing this because I hate sleep? Because I don't. I would rather be sleeping at 2am.
[walks from behind the camera toward the actors] Okay, Beth, you cheat that way a little bit. Make sure of where you are in regards to the camera. Kyle, when you're talking to her try not to sound too smooth. You're being smooth but you have no idea that you are. Beth: you're doing great. Keep it up, okay? We're shooting for real this time. Quiet, everyone.

[She nods and he walks back toward the camera, looking at Rob and David.]

You two: get your lives together.
[after a couple stunned beats] Okay. Places. Here we go.


20 March 2008

(pt 9)


[Squibs, Rob and Beth Austin sit in Squibs's living room joined by two other men: a tall young man of medium build and classicly handsome features named KYLE and another man, fit and with a larger frame, named VICTOR. They sit facing each other in stools and chairs in a semi-circle around the couch. There is a long awkward silence. Finally the phone rings to break quiet and Rob picks it up almost immediately.]

ROB: Where are you?

[David is driving, phone to his ear.]

DAVID: How'd you know it was me?
ROB: Where. Are you.
DAVID: I'm passing by the Dunkin Donuts now. I'll be there in a couple minutes.
ROB: You know we're all sitting here staring at each other, waiting on you.
DAVID: Who's there right now?
ROB: Everyone. Me and Squibs. Vicks and Kyle. Beth has been here for almost forty-five minutes now.
DAVID: Oh really? Didn't we say 11?
ROB: 10.
DAVID: Are you sure?
ROB: Everyone else got here by 10.
DAVID: Because I could have sworn --
SQUIBS: [whispering] Where is he?
ROB: [mouths "Close" to Squibs; then speaks aloud to David] 10, dude. We said 10.
DAVID: 11. Well, I'm almost there so I'll see you momentarily. [As David goes through a green light, sounds from the crosswalk signals pierce the air to aid the visually-impaired in crossing the street.]
ROB: Wait, are those the chirps from the crosswalks? Are you still downtown?
DAVID: Well, yeah, but I'm almost --
ROB: Come on, man!
DAVID: It's not that big a WHOA!

[David swerves then quickly corrects himself, the sound of a car horn blaring from a growing distance.]

DAVID: I almost just got into a car accident.
ROB: That's great.
DAVID: And it wouldn't have even been a cool one. It was one that was easily preventable. That was lame. I'm going to get off the phone.
ROB: Get here faster. [hangs up the phone; to everyone else] He'll be here shortly. Sorry for the wait.
KYLE: [after another awkward pause] So your name is Beth?
BETH: Yeah, I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name the first time.
KYLE: Oh, Kyle. Kyle Wedge.
BETH: [to herself] Kyle. Kyle Wedge. [then to him] Nice to meet you.
KYLE: You, too. Have you ever done anything like this before?
BETH: No, not really. I mean I've done plays at school and things like that but never a movie. Have you?
KYLE: I've worked with these guys before on some smaller things.
BETH: Oh. Okay. And you're playing --
KYLE: I'm playing not the fiancee.
BETH: Oh. So I guess you and I are about to get a lot closer then, right?
KYLE: [laughs] Yeah, I guess so.
VICTOR: I'm Victor by the way.
BETH: I know.
ROB: All right we're going to start up without David. Sorry to keep you guys waiting. So, what you have in your hand is a vast majority of the script. We're still working on some details with the ending.
SQUIBS: [to Rob] Do you really hate the idea of her being married the whole time?
ROB: It's too much. We can talk about it later. Let's do a table read. You know, minus the table.

[Everyone laughs lightly and readies their scripts. Rob starts to flip through.]

ROB: Did you all have a chance to go through at least some of it? [everyone makes some signal of affirmation] What'd you guys think?
KYLE: It's certainly different.
ROB: Than our other stuff? I know. We thought we'd try to make something people actually liked for once.
VICTOR: So, pretty much, the fiancee is not really in most of it.
ROB: He's here and there. We've got some web cam sequences where you're talking to Beth from overseas. You're around in the beginning and you'll probably be present a lot more in the end, depending on what ending we decide on.
SQUIBS: Possibly even married the whole time.
ROB: Not that. [turns to Beth] Okay, Beth: what did you think?
BETH: I thought it was good. I read the sex scenes. I thought they were really hot.
ROB: Yeah, David wrote those. They really have to be perfect.
BETH: [to Kyle] Oh, so no pressure or anything, right?
KYLE: Right?
ROB: We know we picked the right people for this so we're not worried. The real question is are you comfortable with them?
KYLE: Me? I'm great.
ROB: Not you, goofus.
BETH: I'm fine with them. They seem tasteful and, like I said, really hot.
ROB: Great. Good. That's really good. Okay, you guys want to get started reading?
KYLE: Is there a place you want us to pick up from?
ROB: Um, yeah. Let's start early on. There are a couple scenes I want to see -- if they work or not. Let's go to page twenty: the first time Beth goes to Kyle's house. I want to see how this scene juxtaposes with the proposal scene later.
KYLE: Okay. Should I just start with "Here it is?"
ROB: Yeah, sounds great.
KYLE: All right.

[Kyle gives Beth a small nod and she nods back. Their voices transform into performance type: louder, clearer, more articulate and with emotion.]

KYLE: Well, here it is.
BETH: Wow, it's huge.
KYLE: Yeah, I got a little scared the first time I walked in here.
BETH: It's also ... you can tell a bunch of guys live here.
KYLE: Yeah, I just have no idea what to do with the space. I can't decide on anything.
BETH: Just needs a woman's touch is all.
KYLE: Something like that. So -- do you want the tour?
BETH: Sure.
KYLE: I mean, you can basically see everything already. Up these stairs is the kitchen and my roommate's bedroom. The living room is down here and the bathroom is right over there. My other roommate's bedroom is right here and up those stairs is my bedroom.
BETH: Can I take a look?
KYLE: Um, yeah, sure, of course.
ROB: They go upstairs. Kyle doesn't even have a door and two of his walls are actually large pieces of plywood nailed to a 2x4 frame so they can stand freely on the floor. Otherwise the room is neatly kept with a queen-sized bed, a computer desk and modern furniture.
BETH: Do you not have walls?
KYLE: This is actually just supposed to be like lofted extra space or something. Someday I hope I'll have walls.
BETH: What do you do for privacy?
KYLE: Oh, I don't mind really. It's not like I have anthing to hide.
BETH: Oh really?
KYLE: Yeah, it's pretty much a one-man show up here.
ROB: There is a small pause after Kyle's self-deprecating joke. He puts his hand on his stomach.
KYLE: Are you hungry? I'm starving.
BETH: Well, I --
ROB: Oh, am I keeping you from something? Sorry about tha--
BETH: Oh, no no. I just, you know, have this boyfriend that's supposed to be coming into town this weekend and I should be getting home and clean or something, I guess.
KYLE: Oh, I didn't know you had a boyfriend.
BETH: Yeah, well, I think I might be breaking up with him soon.
KYLE: Oh, really? That's too bad.
BETH: I guess that depends on how you look at it.

[Rob and Squibs laugh to themselves. The two break character as Rob interrupts them.]

ROB: Great. That was really cool. I think we just need to make sure that she's being flirty and he is kind of clumsily catching on. This guy really isn't all that smooth and doesn't totally realize that she's hitting on him.
BETH: Even though she came up to his bedroom and is talking about breaking up with her boyfriend?
ROB: Do you think that he should catch on?
BETH: I don't know. Is he that dumb?
ROB: We're going to say yes.
KYLE: He's not a stupid guy though.
ROB: No, just, you know, oblivious to this kind of thing.
KYLE: Okay cool.
ROB: All right, let's move on to the proposal scene. Rainy in the park on Valentine's Day.
BETH: So cheesy.
ROB: That's the point. He's romantic but in a very conventional way.
SQUIBS: He's just like a guy's guy and he's doing what he thinks he's supposed to do. Valentine's Day equals romantic.
ROB: Right. So, Vicks, if you want to pick it up as they're walking along the park path.
VICTOR: Yeah, all right.

[Victor clears his throat and straightens his back, slightly poking his chest out. David comes in sometime during their dialogue.]

VICTOR: Well, at least it's stopped raining for a little bit.
BETH: Yeah. You know we could have just stayed at home. We didn't have to go out for a walk today.
VICTOR: I really wanted to get out into the open for a bit.
BETH: You don't think they'll have open space at the base?
VICTOR: Not like this. Not with you.
BETH: Aww.
VICTOR: I'm going to miss you, Beth. I'm going to worry about you all the time.
BETH: You're going to worry about me? I should be worried about you. You're the one travelling to a foreign country.
VICTOR: I know, but, you're going to be here all alone. I'm always going to be wondering what you're doing.
BETH: That's sweet.
ROB: Victor stops and looks onto one of the hills.
VICTOR: Hey, isn't that the spot you like so much?
BETH: Yeah, my little tree.
VICTOR: You want to go up there?
BETH: It's a little muddy I think.
VICTOR: No, come on. It'll be fun. You can get a little dirty.
ROB: Victor all but pulls Beth behind him as he races into the muddy grass and up the hill to the tree. At some point, Beth lets go of his hand as she tries to tread lightly through the wet grass and muck as to not splash herself with wet dirt. She meets Victor up there, who suddenly looks nervous.
BETH: What's going on?
VICTOR: You know that I love you, right?
BETH: Yeah?
VICTOR: And me being shipped off is not my decision.
BETH: You did join the Army.
VICTOR: But, you know --
BETH: I know, I know.
VICTOR: I want to spend all my time with you, all the time. And, hopefully, you'll want to make a life with me.
BETH: Vick, what's --?
VICTOR: Beth --
ROB: He falls to one knee with a squish.
VICTOR: -- will you marry me?
BETH: Oh, Vick.
VICTOR: It doesn't have to be right now. Although if you wanted it to be right now I think we could do it in the next couple of weeks before I leave. But we can wait for me to come back or you can come out and live with me or I don't know. I just want to be with you.
ROB: Beth looks down at the work shirt she's wearing, sporting the logo of the company at which she works with her new friend Kyle. She hesitates for a moment before looking back into his eyes. She's never been able to say no to him.
BETH: Yes, Vick. Of course I'll marry you.

[David hits Squibs on the arms.]

DAVID: You snuck in that line about being able to get married before he ships out.
SQUIBS: So sue me. I think it's a good idea.
DAVID: It's not going to happen. It's ridiculous. Who does that?
SQUIBS: People do it.
ROB: What'd you guys think of those scenes? Do you think they work well together? Does one seem far-fetched because of the other?
BETH: I think it's fine. I mean, when they're talking on the phone earlier you can tell that Victor has this power of her. So, like, even if she didn't want to get married she probably would because she can't say no.
ROB: Good, good. Okay. Well, I know that you have to get to work by 11:30 Vicks so I guess we'll just do a couple more scenes and then wrap it up for today. I think we should all thank Mr Ten O'Clock here for showing up.
DAVID: 11. Sorry for getting here after you guys. It sounds great. I think we're only going to do one more of these before we start shooting next week so if there are any scenes you guys have questions with or anything, let's try to work them out before we start rolling.
SQUIBS: But, real quick, by a show of hands, who thinks the idea of her getting married and being married the whole time is an awesome plot twist.
DAVID: No one, Squibs. No one. Just stop it. You're embarrassing yourself.
ROB: All right, let's go to the first web cam scene.


16 March 2008

on being a schmuck.

I saw this thread on Lifehacker about being a good tipper and have to say I'm pretty embarrassed about the tipping habits listed in the comments.

20% is minimum. It's also a lot easier to calculate. If you're going the extra mile to figure out 15% (Divide the bill by 10 and then divide that amount by 2, then add them together) you are a schmuck. Just divide the bill by 10 and double it. Include drinks (they were served to you, weren't they?). Include tax (what's it going to do, bump your tip up a a dollar?). And round up for crissake.

By tipping less all you're doing is making the wait server mad. It's not constructive criticism. You just look like a schmuck that doesn't know how to tip. If you really have bad service and you can't give the server the benefit of the doubt (busy night, training, close relative passed away that morning), talk to the server or, if necessary, talk to the manager. Granted, I probably would never do this but poor tipping says nothing but "I'm cheap."

I pretty much adhere to this for everyone in the service industry when I'm tipping on top of a bill/fare. Attendants, carry out people, hotel service I can see tipping three, four, five dollars (depending on the estblishment) but restaurant service is 20% at least.

Also: If you split the check between people with cash and people with cards and play the "take the cash out, put the rest on the card(s)" game, make sure the people with cards tip on the WHOLE BILL. If it's one person, they should be tipping on the whole bill for everyone. If it's more than one person filling out receipts, make sure they collectively write enough tip in for the person to be paid properly. I'm told that whenever a server hears "take the cash out, put the rest on the card" they know they're getting a terrible tip due to confusion.

15 March 2008

tornado ... or the cloverfield?

I was on the East/West line, right at Georgia State station somewhere between 9:30 and 10:00 last night. The train stopped just after leaving the platform and the announcer came over the loudspeaker. "Ladies and gentlemen, a tornado has just touched down in the area. We have to clear the tracks before continuing." Immediately, all of my fellow passengers got up to a window to look out. I was skeptical. My entire life, my mom, a woman who has claimed to live through many tornados in her time, always told me they sounded like trains rumbling across the ground. I couldn't really hear a sound outside of the car so I assumed there was a better chance of the Cloverfield monster attacking Atlanta than a tornado. After taking a quick glance out the window, I went back to reading my book.

We were just outside of Grady Hospital and the scene on the highway was of flashing blue and red lights. The rest was darkness.

The train started and stopped several times, presumably to allow people to clear off more of the track. A ride that usually takes five minutes took twenty before reaching Inman Park Station. Many of the buildings on the south side of the track I don't know very well, and a lot of it is a train yard. But between King Memorial and Inman Park is a building that I'm very familiar with (since it's right near my house): the Fulton Cotton Mill Lofts. People started to gasp as we passed it and I saw a corner of the building completely collapsed. Everyone kept asking what building it was so they could tell the people at the other ends of their phone conversations what was wrecked.

I was still convinced it was wind damage. I walked home in the rain through a dark Inman Park. People were standing outside Shawn's as if they were going to wait out the storm and still make their reservations. Streetlights were off, lightning flashed through the sky and only the faint flicker of candles coming from windows let me know that I wasn't in Omega Man. Otherwise it seemed like a normal storm: the rain fell moderately, the wind wasn't bad at all and I couldn't see any other structural damage. I called Katie and told her to pick up candles on the way home (they brought back birthday candles -- there was an understandable run on regular candles).

Power came back the next morning and I figured everything was okay. My mom called me worried but I figured that was just my mom. But then other people started asking me if everything was all right. I didn't understand why until I left to go to the school library.

Auburn Ave, closer to downtown, is a disaster. Condemned buildings are collapsed, telephone/electricity poles are snapped in half, no one could travel down any road continuously due to closures. Every park I passed smelled like wood chips, many of the trees releasing their characteristic odor from their collective injuries. Rubble from buildings spilled into the streets. When I got to downtown I saw what most of the news agencies were talking about: windows from any building higher than four or five stories were knocked out, the glass from the Georgia-Pacific Plaza hanging precariously from some; debris covered sidewalks not along the main Peachtree St drag; parts of buildings looked imploded. That's when I realized it really was a tornado. I took pictures of some of the things I saw with my camera phone, including some idiot pacing the street the phone wearing a green top hat and green beads (for the obviously cancelled St Patrick's Day Parade). That's when I realized something else.

I wasn't alone in taking pictures. People walked up and down the streets with cameras, both professional and amateur, snapping pictures of bent sign posts, twisted streetlights and smashed windows. Last I heard (or read) no one was seriously injured but there is a more subtle tragedy. I have never seen people more interested in downtown than I have today. People were strolling down sidewalks, pointing out the broken pieces from last night. I have never seen so many people outside, excitedly looking around the city. Which means the event where I've seen people the most excited to see Atlanta is when it has been physically injured and people can have a taste of its destruction.

13 March 2008

(pt 8)


[Donna sits down in front of the camera and it is readjusted to frame her properly. She smiles into the lens and looks off camera whenever someone talks to her. She smiles brightly and laughs a little.]

DONNA: So, do I --
DAVID: Just say your name.
DONNA: Hi, I'm Donna Widmore. Um, should I read the part?
DAVID: Uh, yeah, sure. Let me introduce to you everyone real quick. The guys behind the camera are Ryan and Sam. This is Jake Squibs, he's our director of cinematography. This is Rob, he'll be reading with you today and my name is David. Rob and I are co-directing.
DONNA: Hey, nice to meet you all.
DAVID: Okay, so, I guess, take it away.
ROB: All right, are you ready?
DONNA: Definitely.
ROB: Great.

[Donna clears her throat and looks over the script one last time, her face turning serious before looking at Rob.]

ROB: I don't understand why you're so upsest.
DONNA: I just need ROMANCE. I just want a guy to show me he loves me everyday. I don't need diamonds or anything. Just flowers or a note or something to tell me that I'm SPECIAL.
ROB: And he doesn't do that for you?
DONNA: It's the same with every relationship. Things start off great but then it tapers off until I don't get anything anymore. I just want to feel APPRECIATED. Do you think you can DO that? Do you think you can show me you love me EVERY DAY?
ROB: I think I can.
DONNA: Are you sure?
ROB: You just have to give this a shot, you know? But I think I can.
DONNA: I want to BELIEVE that you can. Can I BELIEVE it?
ROB: I can try real hard.
DONNA: [collapsing into a normal composure; smiling] How was that?
DAVID: Very, very nice. Thank you so much.

[A new girl sits in front of the camera and looks into the lens. She looks a lot more nervous.]

DAVID: Okay, just state your name.
FIORAIA: Um, right now?
DAVID: Yeah we're roll--
FIORAIA: Fioraia Nadia.
DAVID: Okay. Are you ready with your part.
FIORAIA: I actually prepared a song and dance.
DAVID: Oh-kay but we don't have room for that. Just read the part on the page and you'll be f--
FIORAIA: I thought there'd be a piano or something. I brought sheet music.
DAVID: This isn't a musical.
FIORAIA: It's from Les Miserables.

[Another girl sits in front of the camera, reading the sheet as she seats herself. She looks over at David.]

DAVID: Say your name please.
CONNIE: Connie Regina. So is this girl a bitch?
DAVID: What? No.
CONNIE: It just kind of seems like she's spoiled or you know --
DAVID: She's just young. Her expectations are really high, that's all.
CONNIE: Seems like her head's infected with too many movies.
DAVID: Go with that. Rob's going to be reading with you here. Whenever you guys are ready.
ROB: You ready?
CONNIE: [takes a breath]> Okay.
ROB: I don't understand why you're so upset.
CONNIE: I just need -- ROMANCE. I just want a GUY to show me he actually LOVES me. Everyday. I don't need diamonds. Just FLOWERS or a NOTE or SOMETHING. To tell me that I'm special.
>ROB: And he doesn't do that for you?
CONNIE: Oh -- it's the same with every relationship. Things start off great but then -- then it tapers off. Until I don't get -- anything -- anymore. I just want to feel -- I want to feel APPRECIATED. Do YOU think you can DO that? Do you? Do you think -- you can show me you love me -- show me EVERY DAY?
ROB: I think I can.
CONNIE: [her eyes well up a little] Are you sure?
ROB: You just have to give this a shot, you know? But I think I can.
CONNIE: I really want to BELIEVE that you can. Can I BELIEVE it?
ROB: I can --
CONNIE: SHOULD I -- believe it?
ROB: I can try real hard.
CONNIE: [looking down at the page again] And you're sure she's not supposed to be a bitch?

[A striking young woman sits in front of the camera, fixes her hair and looks directly into the lens.]

DAVID: State your name.
BETH: Beth Austin [she smirks]

[Later that evening, Squibs, Rob and David are watching the auditions at Rob's house. David pauses on Beth's face and points at the screen.]

DAVID: That's her right there.
ROB: Are you sure?
DAVID: Am I sure? You guys saw her. She has got everything. She's hot, she read well --
ROB: Some people read better.
DAVID: But they didn't look as good as she does. I mean, look at her. She makes me want to make sweet love to the television. I'm not even sure I can contain myself.

[David gets up and walks toward the television, unzipping his pants. Squibs and Rob laugh. David turns just before getting to the TV.]

DAVID: But you see what I mean. She looks great on camera.
SQUIBS: She does that.
DAVID: And she read well enough to make the script work.
ROB: Connie really read it well though --
DAVID: Oh, please. Connie's a hag.
SQUIBS: I thought she was cute.
DAVID: Fugly. Hurts my eyes even to look at her.
ROB: That's a little much. Squibs is right: she's a cute girl.
DAVID: Cute isn't good enough. We need drop dead gorgeous. We need someone so hot it almost doesn't matter what she says. And then we deliver with her actually saying something. That's what we want.

[Sara comes out of the bathroom.]

SARA: You're fly's down.
DAVID: Oh, thanks. [zips up and moves out of the way]
SARA: Oh, she's hot.
ROB: She might be the lead in the movie.
SARA: Oh, yeah, you should totally get her to do it. She looks great on camera.
DAVID: What do you say guys?
SQUIBS: She does look good.
ROB: [sighs] All right.
ROB: We have our leading lady.
SQUIBS: Awesome.
ROB: We just need to finish the script now.
SARA: Worry about that tomorrow. You guys should celebrate with some pizza from downstairs.
ROB: So you're hungry then?
SARA: Yeah, a little bit.
ROB: All right. Squibs, you hungry?
SQUIBS: I'll come down for a slice.
ROB: You in?
DAVID: Yeah, I'm going.

[Everyone but David stands up and collects their wallets and keys. David gets up to shut down the display equipment and, whilie everyone is filing out of the place, David contemplates doing something different. He runs is hand over the TV, letting the static shock him. He unzips his pants a little bit before thinking better of it and walking away.]


06 March 2008

(pt 7)


[David and Squibs are sitting in a small university office, talking. Rob comes in during their elegant, refined conversation.]

SQUIBS: What about Olivia Munn?
DAVID: Olivia Munn is a stone cold fox. Don't get me wrong. I wouldn't push her out of bed. I might even pay top dollar just listen to her say the word "bed." I'm just saying there's something a little weird about her.
SQUIBS: That she's painfully attractive?
DAVID: It's her eyes, man. There's something not right.
ROB: What are you guys talking about?
SQUIBS: You know Olivia Munn? She hosts that show on G4?
ROB: Isn't that the video game channel?
ROB: No, I've never seen her.
SQUIBS: You've never watched it?
ROB: You must have confused me for a fourteen year old.
DAVID: Anyway, there's this girl on there --
SQUIBS: Woman.
DAVID: -- there's this chick on there who is, I have to admit, straight up foxy, but she has something weird going on.
ROB: Like a mole or goiter or something?
DAVID: Like she's dead behind the eyes.
ROB: Like she's dumb?
DAVID: Oh, is that what that means?
ROB: Well, what's behind the eyes that can be dead?
DAVID: Huh. Anyway, it's not that she's dumb or anything just -- she's got like a fixed stare or something. Like her eyes never change.
ROB: Like a robot?
DAVID: Yes! That's it! She's got robot eyes!
SQUIBS: No. What? Robot eyes?
DAVID: Don't deny it, Squibs. She's got the robot eyes. Never change, never move.
ROB: Maybe it's botox.
SQUIBS: I don't want to believe that.
DAVID: Yeah, I don't know. Botox? To host a show that features internet video of kids getting hit in the balls? It seems like too much work. No, I think she's got natural robot eyes.
ROB: You mean like Scarlett Johansson?
DAVID: [excited at the new revelation] Oh my God she totally does have robot eyes!
ROB: You've never noticed that?
DAVID: I see it now.
ROB: It's all a little too perfect with her: smart, the voice, the body. And then you look into those vacant eyes and realize that she's probably a robot.
DAVID: I can't believe I didn't pick up on that before!
SQUIBS: You guys are crazy. They are a couple of beautiful women, nothing wrong with them at all.
DAVID: Except they need RAM upgrades so they can make some expressions with their eyes.
SQUIBS: Like you're looking at their eyes anyway -- Jessica!

[Squibs stands up as JESSICA, a fellow doctoral candidate and instructor at the university, stands in the doorway, clipboard in hand. David looks up at her and then back at Squibs, mouthing the word "nice" to him. Squibs tries not to pay attention.]

SQUIBS: Everything good to go?
JESSICA: They're ready whenever you are. There are about fifteen girls out there. They all have the parts and are reading them over. Are you guys ready?
SQUIBS: Not quite yet.
ROB: We're waiting on the kids to come in with the camera.
JESSICA: Where are they?
SQUIBS: They're on their way.
JESSICA: Okay. Well, just give me a nod when you're ready. [she turns to walk and sees the camera crew come down the hallway] Speak of the devils. Ryan. Sam.

[RYAN and SAM rush in with a small camera and some sound equipment. Ryan, in sneakers, a wind-breaker and beat up college ball cap, is foiled in fashion by Sam, dressed in black loafers, khakis and a long-sleeve checked shirt. They begin setting up immediately.]

RYAN AND SAM: Hey, Professor Louis.
SQUIBS: What happened to you guys?
RYAN: We got stuck in traffic and then they had problems pulling the sound equipment for us.
SAM: Pulled a uni for us first then said they didn't have a shotgun for us. You remember that episode of Seinfeld where he's talking about the rental place not saving a car for him? It was like that. We reserved the mike but they said they gave them all away.
RYAN: It was pretty bad.
SAM: I was about to lose it with them.
SQUIBS: Who was running the equipment desk today?
SAM: Pat.
SQUIBS: He seems to have it together. Doesn't he?
RYAN: Yeah, but his heart just isn't in it, you know, doling out equipment all day I don't think.
SAM: Doesn't mean he can't do his job. I mean gah.
SQUIBS: Did you get the mike?
RYAN: Yeah, he found one finally.
SQUIBS: Okay, good. Oh. Rob, David -- this is Ryan and Sam. They'll be on the crew, probably for most of the shoot. There'll be a few others that come in and out but these two will be around for most of the days.
ROB: Great.
DAVID: Welcome aboard.
JESSICA: So, wait a couple minutes and send the first girl in?
SQUIBS: Please. And thank you again, Jessica, for helping out.
JESSICA: Oh, of course. Did the free-writing techniques I suggested help out?
SQUIBS: They did. Thank you.
DAVID: They were interesting.

[As Jessica looks at her clipboard, Squibs shoots David a dirty look. He shrugs back at him.]

JESSICA: Good, good. Okay, so the first girl that'll be sent in is -- Donna. Okay?
SQUIBS: Okay. [picks his clipboard off the desk and reads it] Donna Widmore?
JESSICA: That's the one.
SQUIBS: All right. Thanks again, Jessica.
JESSICA: It's no problem, Jake. [smiles and walks away]
SQUIBS: All right. You guys set up?
RYAN: [attaches mike to the camera] I think we're close.
SAM: Tape's in, power on, can you hear through the mike?
RYAN: [slips on headphones] Keep talking.
SAM: You know what annoys me most about that guy behind the counter? That he had the balls --
RYAN: Got it. You can stop talking now.
SQUIBS: Okay. I think we're ready.

[Squibs sits back down in his chair and Ryan and Sam sit on the edge of the desk. They all wait silently for the first audition. David waves Rob to lean in closer.]

DAVID: [quietly] Did I just say "welcome aboard" to these guys?
ROB: Like you were the captain of a fun ship.
DAVID: Where did that come from?

[DONNA comes through the door, script in hand. Everyone else in the room turns to her as she timidly at first steps into the office.]

DAVID: Donna?
DONNA: Yeah. Donna Widmore.
DAVID: My name is David. Nice to meet you. Why don't you take a seat over there for us?


number four.

For the past couple of days I've had a blog post planned out. It was going to be mushy, something about spending most of my life watching him helm my favorite team, going through a spectrum of emotions over the course of his career, feeling the sense of legend that has been passed around these last few years. I was going to talk about how I have so many mixed feelings: sadness for the departure of a familiar piece of my life, relief that someone so worthy of praise is going to leave the league on a high note (sort of -- not necessarily his last play but the season on a whole), anticipation to what the future of the franchise is without its franchise quarterback. I was watching when they took Majkowski out. I was watching those heart-breaking games against the stronger Cowboys. I teared up after that amazing Raiders game. I felt jubilation after the first Super Bowl win for my team in 29 years and emotionally-drained after each tough, season-ending defeat.

I had a lengthy blog post planned to talk about number 4 and how he has made me feel so much concentrated stress in the three hours I'd watch a game but equally made the game fun to watch and made it just that: a game. I had so much to say.

But I think NFL Network, ESPN and the rest have kissed his butt enough the last few days.

Thanks, Brett. You did good.

28 February 2008

(pt 6)


[A week later, Rob walks up to David's apartment door and knocks but then quickly enters. David is sitting on the floor in the living room among several magazines. He is wearing only a t-shirt and boxers.]

ROB: Hey, man.
DAVID: [not even looking up from the page] Hey.
ROB: Are you going to get ready?
DAVID: Yeah, yeah ... in a second.
ROB: Because, you know we have to be at the school in like half an hour.
DAVID: Yeah, I know.

[There's a small pause. David stares at the magazine.]

ROB: So we should probably go now.
DAVID: Right.
ROB: So get up!
DAVID: Let me ask you your opinion about something.
ROB: Okay.
DAVID: Take a look at this girl.

[David shows Rob the picture in the magazine. He's looking at porn.]

ROB: Wow, that's a lot of vagina.
DAVID: Yeah, but look past that. Her eyes.
ROB: Did I just catch you in a moment?
DAVID: What?
ROB: You know, did I just catch you -- you know --
DAVID: Oh no, no, no. Well, maybe a little bit but nothing serious. I am sitting in a bunch of porn.
ROB: Why are you sitting around in a bunch of porn?
DAVID: Research, buddy.
ROB: For the movie?
DAVID: I want to have a clear vision of what I want before going down there.
ROB: And you're going to find it in these magazines?
DAVID: It'll help me get an idea.
ROB: [picks up a magazine and flips through it briefly] Unless your girl needs to be skilled in spreading her buttcheeks like this classy gal [shows the picture to David] I'm not sure you're going to find her in the pages of Juggs.
DAVID: Did you know that was a real magazine? I thought that was just in Married ... with Children.
ROB: I don't know if we really want a porn star look for the lead.
DAVID: But see, this is what we need. Someone that can be so hot you'll disgrace yourself to her but can still have a kind of warmth or normalness about her.
ROB: Normalness? These aren't space aliens, David.
DAVID: You know what I mean though. Someone that's extremely hot naked but still has a lot of character about her. Like something deeper.
ROB: So, what, you're flipping throgh porn mags to look at everyone's eyes?
DAVID: Sort of, yeah. I mean boobs aren't bad either but I'm -- I'm doing research.
ROB: Did you buy all of these as the same time?
DAVID: Yeah. In retrospect I probably should have spread it out over a couple of days.
ROB: You get some weird looks?
DAVID: Girl scouts were selling cookies in front of the store.
ROB: Oh no, not the kids.
DAVID: And one came inside for something or other, to go to the bathroom or something, looked right at me, then at the stack.
ROB: Did she say anything to you?
DAVID: "Why do you need so many?"
ROB: Shut up. Really? She knew what they were?
DAVID: I don't know. I mean, I was buying ten magazines. Maybe she thought they were just a bunch of Sports Illustrated or something but I felt like a monster.
ROB: A foot fetish magazine?
DAVID: Excuse me?
ROB: [bends down and picks up a magazine from the floor] A foot fetish magazine. I've never actually seen one of these in real life.
DAVID: Yeah.
ROB: All that's in here are feet. Were you looking for the perfect feet for her, too?
DAVID: Why I have this is neither here nor there. [takes magazine and tosses it aside, standing up]
ROB: Aw, gyah-- [turns his head away in disgust]
DAVID: We just have to make sure this girl --
ROB: Dude, hide the boner.
DAVID: Oh, sorry, man.
ROB: You have to stop obsessing over this one part. We've got three to cast today, mabe more depending on how we write the script. We have more than just this girl to pick.
DAVID: All right, all right.
ROB: And he's poking out again.
DAVID: Ah, jeez --
ROB: So go think about baseball and get dressed. Squibs is already down there with the crew.
DAVID: Okay.

[David heads for the bedroom but Rob puts his hand on his chest to stop him. Rob smiles.]

ROB: So feet, huh?
DAVID: More like calves.
ROB: Never would have guessed.
DAVID: And ankles.
ROB: Really? Ankles?
DAVID: At least it's not toes, right? [heads for the bedroom]
ROB: Yeah, like that's weirder than ankles.


26 February 2008

news roundup: 25 Feb 08.


Old News

  • US hails Hezbollah leader's death [BBC News]
    To me, this sounded a little immature for a country run by grown ups. Even if the world would be a better place, you don't have to come out and say it. That's not making any friends. Have we stopped believing in political capital?

Not News

In continuing the trend of making fun of the most popular comic strip tabby in the funnies, here is Garfield minus Garfield, a series of Garfield strips without Garfield in them, revealing Jon Arbuckle as the truly schizophrenic person he is (dude has conversations with a cat and feeds him lasagna).

24 February 2008

the blur of awkward speeches.

I don't know why I never thought about this before. All these years of agonizing through the lengthy, embarrassing, melodramatic and, at times, boring ceremony, all I had to do was pause it for an hour, do some homework as I wait and fast forward through the parts that I don't want to watch. Three performances of songs from Enchanted? Zip. Awkward speeches? Zip. Painfully long montages? Zip. God bless you, modern breakthrough in "time-shifting."

We say hurray for: Diablo Cody (Best Original Screenplay, Juno), Javier Bardem (Best Supporting Actor, No Country for Old Men), and Marion Cotillard (Best Actress, La vie en rose). It was nice to see people honestly excited to win an Oscar.

I change the subject (ding!) to give you a tasty video (that won't resize properly for this blog). For Final Fantasy nerds from the old Super Nintendo days and who are equally unimpressed by Garfield comics, this, by Lasagna Cat, is freaking hilarious.

21 February 2008

(pt 5)


[After turning the lights back on, the tribal flute music off and blowing the candles out, the three sit around together trying to come up with the story. Each sit with legal pads of notes in front of them.]

ROB: So what do we have?
DAVID: Well, let's go over the story again.
ROB: All right.
DAVID: So, we have a guy: decent-looking but shy who just got out of a long relationship. Then we have this drop-dead gorgeous girl who is trying isn't trying to get of her relationship but meets the guy and suddenly wants to get out.
ROB: Right.
DAVID: So the girl and the guy start to date, even though they are both fully aware that she is in a relationship. She ends up, because she can't break it to her boyfriend, getting engaged --
ROB: See, this is where you lose me a little bit. We're supposed to believe that even though she's messing around with this guy she's going to say yes to a marriage proposal?
DAVID: You don't think it could happen?
ROB: It doesn't sound logical to me.
SQUIBS: Well, it doesn't have to seem realistic to us. I mean, that's our job, right? Set up the situation so it make senses to everyone else?
ROB: Yeah, I guess. So the girl and the guy stay together.
DAVID: Right, they stay together. The boyfriend, now fiancee, ships out overseas for like a year or six months or something.
ROB: So he's gone.
DAVID: Which gives the boy and the girl time to get to know each other better.
SQUIBS: And they're really hesitant at first.
DAVID: Yeah, really hesistant but eventually they just can't get enough of each other and so ensues the relationship.
ROB: And the eventual choice.
DAVID: Yes. So, any moments you guys come up with?
ROB: Okay, I got this image of, like, the first time they see each other after she gets engaged. Like an uncomfortable lunch where they call it quits.
DAVID: Okay.
ROB: Something that seems clearcut, like it's really the end. Like, "We can't see each other anymore." Nothing drawn out. But then when they walk away they realize they can't do it.
DAVID: Okay, that's decent.
ROB: What do you have?
DAVID: I have this fight sequence planned out when they finally meet, the boy and the fiancee.
ROB: Oh yeah?
DAVID: Yeah, I figure it'll be something for the guys that end up seeing the movie. Just like a killer fight sequence.
SQUIBS: Like, with choreography?
DAVID: Well, I don't think it needs to be that intensive. Just, you know, two guys scrapping. I picture it in the rain or something. Water flying off the face.
SQUIBS: You want to try to shoot in the rain?
ROB: Also, you're pitting a guy in the military against a shy kid? He's going to get pummeled.
DAVID: Maybe that's the point, you know? Maybe the guy gets knocked out. Build some sympathy.
ROB: But it's not going to be a fight sequence. I mean, the military guy would knock a regular dude with no combat experience out in, like, a second. Especially if the military guy is mad.
DAVID: Maybe the kid has some karate classes he's taking?
ROB: [after a short pause; turns to Squibs] What do you have, Squibs?
SQUIBS: Well, I thought about this for the ending: what if the girl turns out to actually be married at the end?
ROB: What?
DAVID: Please. What, is she also going to take off her mask and reveal she's really an alien, too?
SQUIBS: You guys don't like it?
ROB: I think the premise is unlikely as it is. That might put it over the top.
DAVID: We don't have to be M. Night Shyamalan for everything. I don't think we need a twist.
SQUIBS: Just a thought.
ROB: We'll keep it in our back pocket. So I guess we'll just keep writing?
DAVID: Yeah, based on the stuff we can agree on, let's just write a couple of scenes this week. Try not to make the dialogue too mushy. Let's make it reasonable.
ROB: Sounds good to me. What about casting? Who are we going to get on the cheap?
SQUIBS: The regulars I would imagine. Kyle sounds like a good choice for the lead. Victor is a pretty good size for the fiancee. But I don't know about the girl.
DAVID: I don't think we know anyone that'll fit the part as well as we'd like.
ROB: Or at least are willing to take their clothes off.
SQUIBS: Are we going to actually have to have auditions?
DAVID: Yeah, I guess so. How are we going to do this? Flyers? An ad?
ROB: [smiling] Is there a brothel in town?
DAVID: I think we can get legitimate actresses for this thing. We're going to write a solid script with a good opportunity to showcase some talent. Sure, there'll be some nudity and, yes, it may be gratutious --
ROB: Right.
DAVID: -- but it'll be tasteful. Squibs can frame it up and make it look like Dave LaChapelle was slumming it with us for a few days. Right, Squibs?
SQUIBS: I think I can make a hot naked girl look pretty.
DAVID: That's all I can ask. So we'll pull all this together, write some pages, maybe get your lady friend at school to help us organize the auditions, and we'll get the girls somewhere to test for us.
SQUIBS: Sounds good to me. By the way, the crew should be all together in the next couple of weeks after exams.
ROB: Awesome. Guys, we are really going to do this, aren't we?
DAVID: We really are. One week. Auditions for the female lead. I'll make up the flyers.
SQUIBS: I feel like we should all put our hands into the center and yell, "Go team!" or something.
ROB: We will never do that. [David concurs by shaking his head.]


20 February 2008

to grate against my being.

Serj Tankian, the worst part about System of a Down, has a solo album out? What for?

14 February 2008

(pt 4)


[A few days later, David and Rob approach a first floor apartment. They have notebooks and Rob carries a laptop. As they come up to the door, the notice it open slightly.]

ROB: Is the door open?
DAVID: It is. It's dark inside.
ROB: Is Squibs even home?
DAVID: I'll call him real quick. [pulls out phone and dials number]
ROB: This is the time we were supposed to meet him, right?
DAVID: Yeah, he said five.
ROB: Maybe he's taking a shower or something and left the door open for us.
DAVID: Who leaves their door open while they take a shower?
ROB: So, what's the other option? Someone's casing the place?
DAVID: [closes phone] He's not picking up. Um, maybe. Maybe someone is.
ROB: Well, I don't see any forced entry.
DAVID: What are you? CSI? There are a million ways to get in here without having to break the door down. What if they used the Hide-A-Key?
ROB: [picking up the flower pot that hides the spare key] Still there.
DAVID: [whispering in a rasp] And keep your voice down! Did you ever think they put the key back after they were done?
ROB: [also whispering] Why are we whispering?
DAVID: So they can't hear us.
ROB: There's more than one robber?
DAVID: Probably two. They work in teams.
ROB: Do they also wear black and white stripes like the Hamburglar?
DAVID: I'm being serious here. We don't want them to hear us.
ROB: You're being ridiculous.
DAVID: Should we call the cops?
ROB: Do you think we should go inside?
DAVID: Not even a little bit. Wait, did you hear that?
ROB: Here what?
DAVID: That sound. I think I hear voices.

[They are silent for a moment and listen near the door for sounds.]

ROB: I hear some music I think.
DAVID: Music? No way. Those are voices. Listen, I'm going to go into the parking lot to call the cops. You stay here in case they come out.
ROB: What? You're going to leave me here to fend for myself against thugs while you run away?
DAVID: I'm not running away. I'm calling the police. Just shout if you need help.

[David goes to walk away but is stopped by a loud scraping sound. There is something attached to his foot.]

DAVID: What is it?
ROB: [pulls the note off David's shoe] It says, "Take off your shoes before you come in."
DAVID: Oh, that's right. He got new carpet.
ROB: Let's go, numbnuts.

[The two walk in and find Squibs in his living room, sitting on the floor, surrounded by pillows. The room is dimly lit and smells of fresh incense. Candles are scattered about the room not so much for light as for ambiance. In front of Squibs is a pile of supplies: a pile of printer paper, boxes of crayons and clipboards.]

ROB: Hey -- man.
DAVID: What is this?
SQIBBS: Trying something a little new. A colleague of mine does this with her students in her writing class.
DAVID: What's that music?
SQUIBS: Do you like it? It's Native American flute. I think it's kind of relaxing.
ROB: How do you have Native American flute music?
SQUIBS: She let me borrow the CD.
DAVID: Is she hot?
ROB: Where do you even get a CD of Native American flute music? And what are the crayons for?
SQUIBS: To write with.
ROB: With crayons.
SQIBBS: I just thought since we're trying something new we should try a new way of going about it.
DAVID: And her students just put up with writing in crayon for their higher level education?
SQUIBS: Just try it. Go ahead and put the laptop down and we'll get started. Just try it out. She swears by this.
ROB: Can't hurt I suppose.
DAVID: She'd better be hot.

[David and Rob put their stuff down and reluctantly sit on the floor among the pillows and writing supplies.]

SQIBBS: [in a soothing voice] Now, what we're going to do is try --
ROB: Whoa, whoa, whoa.
DAVID: Are you going to talk like that the whole time?
SQUIBS: Well, I have to try to keep up with the mood.
ROB: So we'd have to talk like that, too?
SQUIBS: We're trying not to to be jarring during the creative process.
DAVID: You've got to be kidding --
ROB: Now, come on, man. Let's try it out. Go with it.
SQUIBS: Thank you, Rob. Now let's continue. We're going to try some brainstorming exercises. Clear your minds. Allow yourselves to not think for a few seconds and then let's talk about the first image that comes to mind. David?
DAVID: [after a couple moments, sighs, then in soothing voice] Well, the first things I saw --

[Rob cracks up and David follows quickly as they break into laughter. Squibs is disappointed.]

ROB: [laughing] I'm sorry, Squibs.
DAVID: [also laughing] I'm not. That was real stupid!
SQUIBS: Come on, you guys. Really? You couldn't even hold it together for ten minutes?
ROB: Did you really expect us to write in crayon?
SQUIBS: Just as a change of pace, get you out of your normal routine.
DAVID: Then what? Were you going to hang our outlines on the refrigerator? [starts to laugh again]
SQUIBS: What a couple of classy guys you are.
ROB: Sorry, man.
DAVID: And where did you get all the candles from? Did you buy them all for tonight?
SQUIBS: No, I had them around.
DAVID: It smells like a Bath and Body Works exploded in here.
SQUIBS: -- Y-Yankee Candle Shop

[Rob chuckles as he pulls it together but David falls over laughing. Squibs smiles and then laughs a little, too.

SQUIBS: Yeah, she is hot.
DAVID: [stops laughing and sits up quickly, pointing] I knew it!


why tv is awesome, pt 4.

07 February 2008

(pt 3)


[Back in his apartment, Rob is talking with Sara as she does dishes and he cleans up the kitchen.]

ROB: So I wasn't entirely sure "the idea" was really so big. They told me what they wanted to do and, I mean, I guess it could work but it'll take a really rock solid script I'm not sure we're capable of writing.
SARA: What's it about?
ROB: It's about this guy who has just come out of a long-term relationship and falls for a girl he works with, only to find out she has a boyfriend.
SARA: Lame.
DAVID: [from the couch, not taking his eyes from the television] Wait.
ROB: The girl says she keeps wanting to break up with the boyfriend but ends up getting engaged because he's going to be shipped out in a few weeks.
SARA: And that's the end?
ROB: That's the beginning. Since the fiancee isn't in town, she still runs around with the other guy. The guy is really good to her and the fiancee is pretty was absent even before he shippeed out so they stay together and play house while he's gone. Then there's a pretty dramatic confrontation between the fiancee and the other guy near the end.
SARA: So it's about the struggle of this girl having to choose?
ROB: Right. Sort of. We want to do some of it from the guy's point of view, too.
SARA: So, question: why does the guy stay with a girl he knows is engaged with someone else?
ROB: I justify it like this: he just got out of a long relationship with another girl and is looking for something different and dangerous. Enter this girl. She's both different and dangerous. So he struggles a little bit, too, as he tries to reconcile being at her place and seeing pictures of the finacee everywhere and being in what is ostensibly a relationship with this girl.
SARA: Huh.
DAVID: I think you think too much. The reason why he sticks around is because of all the hot sex we're going to show he has.
ROB: Oh, and the hot sex. Almost forgot about that.
SARA: So, let me get this straight: you're going to make a movie about a girl who's engaged that has to choose between the man she promised herself to and the new man who may be perfect for her?
ROB: Pretty much.
SARA: [stops cleaning and smirks] Who's going to play the girl?
DAVID: Ppsh, not you.
ROB: You'd want to play the girl?
SARA: Sure, why not?
ROB: Well, there are a lot of scenes planned where the girl and the non-fiancee are either naked or in their underpants.
SARA: It might be fun. Are you going to play the guy?
ROB: Certainly not. We're going to get someone else.
SARA: Oh. Well, it still might be fun.
DAVID: No way.
SARA: Why not?

[She crosses over to the couch. David doesn't take his eyes off the screen yet.]

DAVID: Because we need someone hot to play the girl.
SARA: I'm hot.
DAVID: [laughs] No, seriously.
SARA: What? People tell me all the time that I should model.
DAVID: For who?
SARA: You don't think I'm hot enough?
ROB: Of course you're hot enough.
SARA: [to Rob] You have to say that.
ROB: But I really think that.
SARA: Anyway, I think you can use me. Do you want me to audition for you right now?
DAVID: I caught the matinee of that show earlier and was not impressed.
SARA: Oh, see, you didn't even see me get into it. I'm super hot when I'm actually having sex.
DAVID: Oh my God gross.
SARA: [leaning in closer to David] When I'm heaving and then I arch my back --
DAVID: Oh gross --
SARA: -- and I'm all moaning and whispering.

[She starts to moan, gasp and whisper PG-13-rated dirty things. Rob laughs but David has to turn off the TV to express his contempt.]

DAVID: That's disgusting! There is no way you are going to be in this movie. No way. I am NOT going to be forced to see my sister naked.
SARA: Again?
ROB: Stop being so weird about your sister. It's not her fault she's got a great body.
SARA: That almost sounded like you weren't sucking up.
DAVID: I've had to hear that from everyone since she got boobs. I'm tired of talking about it.
SARA: Ooh, who do you have to talk about it with? Anyone I know?
DAVID: When do you want to start writing this thing, Rob?
ROB: If you want to put a couple scenes down tonight, I'll write a couple scenes, too, and we can go over them tomorrow night or something after I get off work. Squibs is getting us a crew?
DAVID: Yeah, said he had a couple kids in mind.
SARA: All right. I guess I'm going to take a shower before work. Should I lock the door, David, or were you planning to come bursting in there, too?
DAVID: [gets up and throws the remote down on the couch] I'm going home.


03 February 2008

giants ... win?

We live in a world of uncertainty and chaos, of lightning strikes and rolls of the dice. This universe has no construct. I know this is true because I just watched a montage, set to Audioslave, of the New York Football Giants winning the Super Bowl over the, until now, undefeated New England Patriots.

31 January 2008

(pt 2)


[Rob and David walk into the diner. David points down to a booth where a man they call SQUIBS is sitting. The two walk toward him and sit in the booth, David beside Squibs.]

ROB: Hey, Squibs.
SQUIBS: Hey, what's going on, man?
ROB: What are you doing down here? Shouldn't we be teaching right about now?
SQUIBS: I don't have classes on Fridays.
DAVID: Squibs helped me come up with the idea.
ROB: Really? You guys hang out?
DAVID: Yeah. What? Do you think that when you're not around we just sit at home and wait by the phone?
ROB: Kinda.
DAVID: No, we do all kinds of stuff.
SQUIBS: Well, all kinds is kind of pushing it.
ROB: Why don't you guys call me?
DAVID: We can talk about your hurt ego later. The idea --
ROB: All right. Lay it on me.
DAVID: You know how we make our shorts, right?
ROB: Right.
DAVID: And you know how we think they're brilliant but people don't seem to watch them ever.
SQUIBS: My parents even blew me off for the last one.
ROB: That's kind of cold. But I kind of understand.
DAVID: Right, because we're making stuff for us and not other people. I mean, we thought the modernized, twenty-minute version of was going to catch on.

[The three men reflect on their last short for a moment, thinking of the Director going through the pains of the creative process rapidly as he himself is trying to direct a short. They laugh.]

DAVID: I mean, we laugh but that was a good idea, I mean really good. That was smart as hell.
ROB: But there was no way that was going to be popular.
DAVID: Exactly. We keep sabataging ourselves by being artists, you know? Our own special brilliance is holding us back.
ROB: So what's your plan?
DAVID: We take it mainstream.
ROB: Excuse me?
DAVID: You heard me. We go mainstream. Instead of writing the next think piece flop that no one wants to look at, we write something sappy and gooey --
SQUIBS: But with something for guys, too.
DAVID: Yeah, like a couple hot sex scenes or something to keep everyone interested.
ROB: So you guys are talking full-length?
DAVID: Right! We can write complex, intellectual shorts. We should be able to write a vapid, clichéd full-length no problem. Just ignore all our sensibilities and pull it down.
SQUIBS: And we could probably do it better than they can. Just tweak the stuff we hate.
DAVID: Exactly. Write something better. Like, what do you think would have made The Notebook better?
ROB: Oh, lots of things. Believablility for one --
DAVID: Right. And Rachel McAdams topless couldn't have hurt.
ROB: Certainly not.
SQUIBS: She's really hot.
DAVID: Smoking hot. And that's what we need to do: get some ridiculously good-looking people, write as bulletproof a script as we can because, chances are, the good-looking people are going to also be ridiculous idiots.
ROB: Why not just get good-looking people that can act?
DAVID: All right, listen. I'm not just talking about the best-looking girl that can act. I'm talking about someone that you would snap your neck for if you saw her on the street. Someone with charisma and power on screen.
SQUIBS: But we're poor.
DAVID: Right so there's no way we'll be able to pull down that kind of package and luck out with strong acting, too. But if I had to choose between the two, between hot or a good actress, the good-looking girl is going to get noticed quicker and more people are going to love it than if we have some slouchy-looking people that can act falling in love.
SQUIBS: And it's not like we're writing Shakespeare or anything.
DAVID: Right, they just need to stumble through the lines, pout their lips and look hot.
ROB: You guys have really been thinking about this? How often do you hang out? I mean, do you -- go to bars and stuff?
DAVID: Yes, we have more fun without you. Listen! This is a good idea, man. What do you say?

[The server comes over and the three men relax into their seats.]

SERVER: Sorry, I didn't want to interrupt before. Did you guys want something to drink?
SQUIBS: Diet Coke.
DAVID: Um, I'll take an iced tea.
ROB: Coke and a water, thanks.
SERVER: Okay, I'll be right out.
DAVID: [after a couple beats for the server to walk away] So? What do you think?
ROB: How long do you think this will be?
DAVID: 75, 80 minutes. Tops.
ROB: And how will we do this? I mean, it was fine when just the three of us were doing shorts with a couple of other actors but, if we want this to look good and to end up as long as you're saying, we're going to need a bunch more people to help us out.
DAVID: That's where Squibs comes in.
SQUIBS: I teach dozens of kids bored with theory that are just dying for the chance to work on something. They'll do it for free.
ROB: So, seriously, you guys? You want to make a sappy love story?
DAVID: We have the rest of our lives to be artists. Let's get recognized.
ROB: [to Squibs] And you're definitely in on this?
SQUIBS: I have a buddy that just started at a new independent that said his bosses were looking for something just like this: a low-budget sleeper they can buy to help get them started.
DAVID: What else do you have to do other than serve people their cheese dip at the bar?

[Rob takes a moment to answer as the server comes back with the drinks. David looks back up at the server and suddenly feels embarrassed.]

DAVID: Not that there's anything wrong with serving people cheese dip. It's just that we have this thing --
SERVER: Save it. Are you guys ready to order?
ROB: We're going to need a second. Thanks.
SERVER: Take your time. [walks away]
DAVID: So. Are you in?
ROB: I suppose I really don't have anything else to do.
DAVID: That's the half-assed spirit I was looking for!
ROB: Let's do this.
DAVID: All right. This is going to be it, guys. Let's be everything that's always made us sick.

[They laugh for a second. When it winds down, Rob gets a serious face.]

ROB: But seriously, when you guys go out, a phone call couldn't hurt.
DAVID: Let it go.


27 January 2008

'i' and 'the' are boring.

Sitting at home in front of blank word processor document, the main points of an academic paper or creative writing project rolling around in my head, I can't help but get the song "Jeremy" stuck in my head. I've never been a big Pearl Jam fan* but there is something striking about this song, especially from a writer's perspective.

Sure, of course, there's the fact that lyrics are topical and poignant, the experience of hundreds condensed into four or five minutes and released years before those hundreds would know the rash of high-profile school violence that ravaged the media. There's the tell-tale bass-line beginning and the memorable video. But why I'm always reminded of "Jeremy" is the first line: "At home, / drawing pictures / of mountain tops / with him on top, / lemon yellow sun ... " The song doesn't start off with "I" or "You" or even "He" ... not a "The" or "A/An" ... nothing like the typical starting point of so many stories. In fact, we don't even get a third-person pronoun until the fourth line, an active sentence with Jeremy's name until the refrain, and details that this tale isn't told in the third-person omniscient (instead it is first-person limited -- not from Jeremy's point-of-view) until after the first refrain (second or third stanza depending on what lyrics you're looking at).

This is a good reminder for me whenever I start to write: don't just relay the story -- drop people in. Not that there isn't something to be said for starting from the beginning but we are so inundated with texts beginning with articles and pronouns/subjects I find it more interesting to use different sentence structures to spice it up a little. Not only does it grab readers from the beginning but it also prompts me as a writer to be more creative with how the sentence, then paragraph, then page is constructed. So now, as I start to write an abstract for an undergraduate research project I'm working on, I have the video for that song running through my head.

Thanks for the inspiration, Eddie. Sorry that whenever I do impressions of you it sounds exactly like my impression of Scott Stapp.

* My mom bought me Vs to help me expand my musical tastes beyond the Ren & Stimpy CD I had and my slow but increasing fascination with the Johnny Mneumonic soundtrack. They (my mom and her best friend who was visiting for the week) played it for me and tried to get me to listen to the whole song. I felt trapped and called out so I pushed through the adults and left the room, crying. I point that out as the reason I never caught on to the "grunge" movement. I was 12 at the time.

24 January 2008

(pt 1)

[A young woman, SARA, brushes her finger against a CD collection, her fingernail tapping onto the side of each jewel case. She's not searching for anything in particular, just browsing, until she finds something that makes her eyes open wide and a grin develop on her face. She pulls the CD from the tower and turns to her boyfriend, ROB, sitting on a couch across the room of his studio loft.]

SARA: Oh, you've got to be kidding me.
ROB: What's that?
SARA: This, this might be a deal breaker. We may have to part ways after this.
ROB: What are you talking about? There's nothing in there that's that bad.
SARA: [holding up the evidence] Don Juan Demarco soundtrack.
ROB: What?
SARA: Are you serious? What?
ROB: I will defend that CD to the death.
SARA: You're not serious.
ROB: Oh, I'm serious.
SARA: You're going to defend the soundtrack with the Bryan Adams single.
ROB: First of all, "the one with the Bryan Adams single" is about every major motion picture of the early 90s. Second, Bryan Adams is the great romantic songwriter of our generation.
SARA: You are completely insane.
ROB: Put it on.
ROB: I'm telling you. Put it on. I defy you to not want to make sweet love to me while playing that song.
SARA: Well, you're certainly not getting laid with language like that.
ROB: I'm telling you.
SARA: All right --

[Sara puts the CD in the player and, as it loads, she skips to the song and presses play. The opening chords of "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?" strum through the speakers. Rob raises an eyebrow and nods, prompting Sara to laugh.]

ROB: Don't try to deny it. Let it take you away.
SARA: Oh yeah. Oh, you're totally right. This song it -- cuts like a knife.
ROB: Don't fight it, Sara. Let that sweet, sweet Canadian voice inside your heart.

[She giggles and starts to slink mockingly over to her boyfriend, almost immediately breaking into laughter. She moves over to him and mounts him, grabbing his head.]

SARA: You, sir, are ridiculous.
ROB: It's Bryan Adams, babe. What else can I do? I'm only human.

[They laugh again and kiss. He pulls her in closer and they kiss for longer to her pleasant surprise. He starts to rub his hands on her sides, across her shoulders and places one on her neck. She smiles.]

SARA: Maybe you're onto something here.
ROB: See, I told you.

[Clothes start to shed. First his shirt, then hers. Their hands start to grab and pull at each other. He slips her bra straps off her shoulders then goes for the fastener only to be confonded. She smiles again.]

SARA: I got it, I got it. [She unhooks it with the ease of experience.] See, not that hard.
ROB: I'm going to get it one day, I swear to God, I'm going to get it.
SARA: It's not that important.
ROB: [between kissing] I'm going to get it and then just surprise you with it in public, just unhook it when you're not paying attention with one hand --
SARA: And then what?
ROB: Oh, and then I'll, uh, I'll --
SARA: Don't tease me. What would you do then?
ROB: I'm not teasing. I'm just -- distracted.

[She is going to work on this belt. His hands are on her hips, pulling at her skirt though not immediately trying to pull it off. She starts on his pants just as the front door opens wide. Standing in the doorway is DAVID, Rob's best friend and, therefore, somewhat accustomed to not having to knock before entering.]

DAVID: [immediately averting his eyes, even stumbling away from the doorway but returning only to repeat it] Oh Jesus Christ.
SARA: [trying to cover herself up] David!
DAVID: Oh, Christ, don't you lock the door before -- doing that -- thing?
ROB: It was kind of spur of the moment.
DAVID: You didn't have time to check the doors first? Jeez--
SARA: You didn't have time to knock?
DAVID: Fair enough. Just, uh, I guess, meet me downstairs when you're, uh, finished, Rob. Oh God.

[David walks away and Sara jumps up to shut the door, only to have David pop back in for a second.]

DAVID: Are you guys seriously doing it to the Don Juan Demarco soundtrack?
SARA: Get out!

[He leaves and she slams the door.]

[Ten minutes later, Rob meets David downstairs outside his building.]

DAVID: That was quick.
ROB: Easy. The mood was kind of shot after her brother busted through the door.
DAVID: Sorry about that.
ROB: Yeah, there'll be other times.
DAVID: Gross.
ROB: You want to get a bite across the street?
DAVID: Yeah.

[They start to walk toward the diner across the street. David shakes off the scene previous.]

DAVID: So why I was busting in there in the first place was because, Rob -- I have it.
ROB: You have what?
DAVID: The idea.
ROB: The idea?
DAVID: This is it, man. I finally have it. It's the one, I know it.
ROB: Different than the last "the one?"
DAVID: Why do you have to say it like that? Live-action peanut-butter jelly time: that's gold.
ROB: I can't wait for this.


22 January 2008

dear prospective film student.

Outside of the actual production elements you will eventually learn, the following is a short list of the concepts you will become familiar with as you progress towards a degree. And by familiar I mean very intimate. And by very intimate I mean you will get married, have kids and learn to hate each other but refuse to get divorced due to the belief that benath all your frustration, existential torpor and general ill will there lies a deep, meaningful connection.

21 January 2008

the green bay packers.

I was raised with green and gold blood. I have worn a cheesehead proudly. I watch games superstitiously, not watching when I think I'm bad luck, changing shirts and socks whenever I thought it might help the team. The time I've spent daydreaming about catching a pass by Brett Favre or pounding through the Bears defense on a reverse or running back a special teams play may amount to months of my life. The games I can watch I live and die on. The games I can't plague me until I know the score. A storied football team out of a small town in Wisconsin is one of the few things that can truly stress me out.

I am that guy who screams at the television to make me feel better.

My mom is from Milwaukee and my dad has always been a Green Bay fan (though he's from California) so the legacy was passed down to me with my interest in football. My brother Josh never really cared for sports (though now he admits that he doesn't like to hear that the Packers lost) and Chris seemed to always align himself with teams that gave Green Bay trouble (the Cowboys in the 90s, the Bears of late) but, as the picture of me when I was three wearing a Packers sweatsuit would indicate, I've always been true. Even through the 4-12 season before Holmgren (and after). Suffering through "Majik" Don Majikowski's twilight seasons and watching a young, brash quarterback take over in that fateful Bengals game. Yes, Green Bay.

So to watch them twist and gnash in agonizing defeat yesterday was heartbreaking, especially after such a stellar performance last week against the Seahawks. Ian told me before the game, and I hold with this now, that the New York Giants aren't really that good -- they just make you play the worst football of your season (he's a Bucs fan). Green Bay beat themselves with penalties and missed opportunities. And it hurts.

Katie has suffered the entire season by being forced to watch incessant NFL Network programming but now I can't even bear to turn the television on because there might be someone that says something negative, something about them being a fluke, about the possibility of Favre retiring, about the competition to be the team to make the Patriots 19-0 or, worse, that the better team won the NFC title.

I work on Sundays at the Store and I ran from there last night to catch the majority of the game (I got home near the end of the first quarter). But with the Super Bowl in a couple weeks, I know I can take my time getting home on February 3rd.

Next season is going to be their season though. I can feel it.