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.

18 January 2008

a modest question.

Do you think Conan is better without writers?

12 January 2008

why tv is awesome, pt 3.

In an effort to become more relevant in an increasingly convergent media universe, Fox and NBC have teamed up under Hulu.com to offer us a single place with quick-loading, high-quality clips and episodes of existing media properties like 30 Rock, The Simpsons, Keeping Up with the Kardashians. It's just one step closer to my vision of the broadcast networks aligning with already established video portals. CBS/YouTube is not that far off. In the meantime, you can embed clips of John Krasinski on Conan.

10 January 2008

dear drivers.

Normal rain in Atlanta will inevitably fill up the gutters along the surface streets. When you see a pedestrian along the road, clinging to his jacket in order to keep his schoolwork dry while huddling under an umbrella that is probably too small for him, try not to hug the curb and send a wave of dirty rainwater crashing into him like he's on a fishing trawler in "The Perfect Storm" (the weather event, not the movie).

And I know some of you must do it for fun. It looks fun. And some of you do it to test out some fancy new tires. I get it. It's good to make sure your investment is working for you. But a wall of water was heading my way so big tonight that I thought I was shooting the Pipeline without a board.

Just think of the poor cats having to walk in that, hoping beyond hope they can come home at least 65% dry.


Nick Campbell

06 January 2008

dear myspace community.

I've been lambasting MySpace for the past few months. Though I wouldn't say that I've jumped ship for Facebook (because, wow, would that be embarrassing) I do appreciate its layout, better coding structure and extensibility contrasting your spam-filled, corporate-owned, be-<table>'d existence. But one thing called me back.

The opportunity to force (or at least suggest) my musical taste onto a captive audience is very attractive to me. I used to hate profiles with music on them because it usually slowed load time to a crawl and the auto-play feature reminded me too much of the early days of the internet when I was trolling fan sites and was subjected to the background MIDI. But, now that there is control over the the auto-play function, I not only incorporate the music player into my profile, I find new songs for it every couple of days. This, my dear community, is where you come in.

Not every song I want to inflict on others is on the site (or at least not on the site as far as I want to explore it). So I encourage you, friends, to upload the songs I want to play for others. You might ask why I don't do it myself.

I don't want to get in trouble. Here's a short list.

  • "Thunderkiss '65" by White Zombie
  • "Bounce" by Timbaland
  • "Possibly Maybe" by Björk
  • "Never Say Never" by Queens of the Stone Age
  • "Learning (alwaysnewapr)" by onelinedrawing
  • "Xerces" by Deftones
  • "2 Rights Make 1 Wrong" by Mogwai
  • "hjartað hamast (bamm bamm bamm)" by Sigur Rós
  • "Elite" by Deftones
  • "Appolonia" by Team Sleep
  • "It Could Be Sweet" by Portishead
  • "Better Things" by Massive Attack
  • "Glory Box (Mudflap Mix)" by Portishead
  • "Backstage Girl" by DJ Shadow
  • "Somethin' Hot" by The Afghan Whigs

Those are just a few of the songs I've been looking for but couldn't find. Help me out, copyright quasi-infringers.

05 January 2008

getting to world 1-2.

Television Content Warning: TV-MA

Content Warning: It's a little racy from here on. Sort of. Viewer discretion is advised.

[A bedroom is dark except for a light coming through a window, a combined effort from a nearby streetlight and the moon desperately trying to compete with it. SHE lays on the bed, almost annoyed, wearing a bright pink prom dress and a golden tiara with pink flats to match. HE walks in almost completely nude except for a large red cap and a fake mustache.]

He: We're so going to do this.
She: Oh my God.
He: We're are totally doing this.
She: You look like a child molester.
He: Come on. You said you would play along.
She: [sighs; unenthusiastic] All right.
He: I can barely see your face. Are you wearing the tiara?
She: Yes. It's the second-best part of the outfit.
He: What's the best part?
She: You'll find out. So, you decided not to go with the overalls?
He: Well, I was going to do this thing where I unhooked them and let them drop for the big reveal.
She: Of what?
He: You know -- my penis.
She: Oh right.
He: But then realized that might have totally ruined everything.
She: I might have walked out.
He: Exactly. Then where would I be? Just a dude standing alone with a fake mustache and some overalls around his ankles.
She: And a funny hat.

[There's a small pause as they both mentally prepare for their role-play.]

He: So should I call you Toadstool or Peach?
She: Oh, definitely Peach.
He: Right on. Right on.
She: [seductively] Thank you for saving me. I'm sorry to have caused you so much -- trouble.
He: Should I respond in that fake Italian accent he has?
She: Oh God no. Maybe we'll aim for the earlier games.
He: Or like in Mario 64?
She: Sure. [clears throat] Let me do something -- special -- for you.
He: Okie dokie.
She: That's not going to work.
He: Okay, okay.

[He kneels on the bed and holds onto her lacy, poofy dress.]

He: This is nice.
She: Shut up.
He: I think you could pull this off out in public. Just tell people you're on your way to homecoming.

[They laugh as he starts to make his way into her dress.]

He: It's like moving through a cloud.
She: Right, right.
He: If the cloud was made out of doilies.
She: Are you lost?
He: No, no. I think I'm good. [beat] Ooh, mushrooms on the underpants?
She: Just trying to get into character.

She looks away as he pulls off her panties, tossing them aside then winces slightly and smiles, closing her eyes.]

He: This is a delicious cake you have here.
She: Well, I told you I'd make one just for you.

[He is within the dress for a few minutes before struggling back through the lace to resurface, hat askew but mustache in tact.

He: Are you ready?
She: Save me.
He: Here we go.


Was that too much?