29 September 2006

crymes and mister meaners

Being a card-carrying Wile E. Coyote-grade Super-Genius™ is not all sunshine and lollipops, kids.

Yeah yeah, I avail myself of the complimentary "deep-muscle massage from over-busty lingerie models" service, and the all-you-can-eat pot pies are a plus, too, but still... with such honors come responsibilities. At least, I choose to act as if such is the case. Or at the very least blather on publicly as if it were true.

And one of these alleged responsibilites might well be the job of walking the blogosphere with my little yellow psychic hi-liter clutched in my hammy little fist, locating and identifying and offering color commentary upon episodes of abject unsmartitude, moments where someone says or does something so stupifying that all you can do is pause, hands on hips, and then scratch your head and slowly whistle.

And, friends and neighbors, I am here to report the sighting of just such a moment.

The place? A blogsite known a The Bag Means Your Mind.

The alleged perpetrator of the stupifaction? One "Thomas Crymes," a childish cowardly nom de plume if ever I heard one.

The comment in question?

"I’m doing it for the experience itself."

Now, far be it from me to ooze hostility and pissiness (and "fuck you, gomer" to anyone who suggests otherwise...), but surely this ranks among the dumber statements I've seen in the past 17 months.

Crymes (think about the ironic accuracy of that clearly fictional name for a moment...) claims that he will be taking a stab at stand-up comedy in the coming weeks. He has no experience with such, nor has he ever suggested that he has any interest in such, nor has he ever uttered anything remotely like a humorous comment or idea before.

(Note— Crymes once *did* draw some smattering of laughter when he uttered some still-undetermined four syllable sound in response to now-forgotten comment during a breakfast at the Austin Film Festival, but that was later re-classified as a misunderstanding when witnesses discussed the event and realized that Crymes had in fact NOT said "Fuck Bea Arthur as originally thought. That would have been funny, but that was not what he said.)

It is entirely possible that Crymes (again I point out how deliciously appropriate this obviously fictional alias is...) is an intelligent man. Yes, his blog postings and comments near-conclusively suggest otherwise, and the photo he chooses to use as a bio picture on that site helps the cause not one bit, but being the generous loving sort here we like to give the benefit of every possible doubt, so for now we'll claim (though not believe) that Crymes might well have a well-developed nervous system. But if such is the case—if Crymes (again, could he be any more obvious here?...) does in fact possess the ability to respond and react to simple stimuli—how could he have uttered such a strangely moronic concept?

Think about it (as Our Man Crymes surely seems to have not) and tell me what sense can be drawn from that statement: "I’m doing it for the experience itself."

Using the same logic described by this greasy fart of a comment, Crymes (OK, I'm hurting myself with laughter at the clumsy transparency of his intended canard...) surely will soon announce his intention to soak up many other novel and heretofore unexperienced yet equally pleasant experiences:

• french-kissing a wolverine
• giving himself an all-over body scrub using a Stanley SureForm "cheese grater" rasp
• subsisting for an entire week on only prunes and canned corn
• making hours of passionate love to a lamp socket
• volunteering as a human piñata at a party for a 12-year old team of Little League All-Stars
• calling an independent insurance agent and asking to hear details on all possible products the agent might have for a middle-aged man with income.
• having his fillings replaced with fresh amalgam
• simulating childbirth by having a ten-pound Butterball turkey forcibly pulled from any bodily orifice into which a ten-pound Butterball turkey might first be forcibly rammed

Clearly, "experience" is way-overrated, yet Crymes (seriously—I just peed myself a little...) understands that not one whit of such self-evident capital-t Truth. Instead he apparently insists upon getting his ticket punched by as many moments of undeniable unpleasantness and scream-inducing terror as can be managed.

"Good day, kind sir. My name is Crymes and I'd like to have a hernia installed!"

"Pardon me, but my name is Crymes and I'd like to experience a gun shot wound, please!'

"Hey there hi there ho there! Crymes is the name and unclear on what 'turkish revenge' is what I am. Can you demonstrate?"

"Happy Arbor Day! Call me Crymes and then usher me into the experiential world of blunt force trauma!"

"Guten tag, Frau Blucher! Ich bin Crymes and ich wanna stand in front of yon brickenwall and maken with zee badjoken, okee dokee, ja?"


So, for the above-cited remarks, on this the Twenty-ninth Day of September, in the year 2006 AD, I hereby welcome one Thomas Dalrymple O'Shaughnessy Gort Cudahey Cudahey Ingmar Crymes into the International Hall of Dumpth, conveying to him all rights and privileges attendant with such titles.*

Mr. Meaners B

* currently, "none"

20 September 2006

update: not gone—just not here

As has been the case for the last, oh, eight years, things ‘round here have been hectic. Again, I’ll try not to bore with too much gazing of navel and absorption of self, but between Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Little league board of directors, youth soccer, youth football, dance, PTA, elementary, junior high, and pre-school stuff, believe it or not “useful time” sometimes seems a rare commodity hereabouts, especially for something as absolutely pointless and inconsequential as a damned blog post saying “too busy to post.”

One script did reasonably well in a pair of decent contests. Another script plods slowly along, with a major second act problem hopefully (knock on wood grain) resolved and a smooth path to a happy snappy sappy conclusion well in hand. Another script lies where it has for months—completed yet dead in the water as I and the co-writer seem incapable of finding a middle ground for compromise on the last round of edits and re-writes, (leaving us with a script that we BOTH loved in a previous draft, but which we now kinda hate if either of us lets the other do what they claim needs to be done to improve the project. Oh well.).

Another project started, exploded into happy excitement, then suddenly tumbled into pissy annoyance and anger when I found (despite a fair amount of due diligence done before I started work) that there is another project already filmed, in the can, and awaiting release—a project which is so similar to my little dream scene that there seems little point in even thinking about work on myvariation on this theme.

So it’s back to the rom-com, hopefully the home stretch wherein I bring this lumbering beast in for something like a workable landing. A producer wants (or wanted...) to see this thing “as soon as it’s done,” but now I’m just praying that the end result doesn’t win a special commendation for Special Achievement in the Provocation of Waves of Nausea. (No, it’s not bad, but the fear is always that it’s Not Good, and Not Good is the same as God Awful in this business...).


Meanwhile and anywhooo... I’ve also been trying to get caught up on some of my long overdue reading, with scripts from a number of friends for which I owe notes and comments (if you’re one of those, understand that I’m slogging slowly forward through the pile of stuff I foolishly agreed to look at and will make every effort to offer some sort of response as soon as I find time, energy, opportunity, and wakefulness coincide).

I’ve also read some scripts from pro writers, scripts for projects which are currently in various stages of development. I’m finding that I seldom enjoy these reads, as I usually end up shaking my head and wondering what the hell it was about the project which garnered the interest and attention of a studio or star but which so totally eludes my understanding. Yeah, yeah... “there’s no accounting for taste,” etc., etc., etc.,, but when I read a script and find that it has A-list attachments, has been shot and is slated for release, and all I can do is say ‘I am SO glad that my name is not on this 110-page pile of dogshit,” it seems there is an issue there worth considering.

Am I that odd in my tastes and preferences? Am I that critical and petty? Or might it be that when I see a script which has basically no character development, no action, no compelling dilemma for the hero, no thoughtful or interesting or unforeseen resolution to said problem, but does seem overflowing with moments of maudlin clumsy sentimentality and clichéd pathos, that maybe some confusion is in order? Jeez... I read some of this produced drivel and start to wonder if my biggest problem is over-thinking: that maybe my scripts would be a helluva lot more marketable if I were to start writing at a fourth grade level of emotional development and intelligence.

[And, yes—for those scoring at home, I totally accept the pomposity of that last statement. Bite me. And remember: just ‘cuz I’m a pompous blowhole does not mean that I am wrong.]

So... not a lot of fun for the old blog, but then, disappointing three or maybe two folks hardly seems a tragedy of much import. Methinks the blogosphere will muddle on in my absence.


07 September 2006

warning track power

In baseball, that phrase—"warning track power"—is used as a friendly jab at those hitters who seem able to hit the ball hard or frequently but who don't have quite the pop to put the ball into the seats for a homerun.

"Close, but no cigar," in other words.

And right now, that's kinda how I feel about my screenwriting efforts for the year. I entered Queen Of The Sky, my based upon factual events WW2 story, into both the Nicholl Fellowship contest and the Austin Film Festival contest.

A week or two ago I got word that Queenhad dinked out of the Nicholl contest as a Top 10% finisher.

Today I got word from AFF that Queen had dinked out in the second round of AFF with a Second Round finish.

"Warning track power."

Don't get me wrong—I'm not trolling for praise nor am I peddling false humility here. The script is good. I know this, I can accept and admit this. A Top 10% Nicholl finish is nothing to get depressed about, and the second round punch in Austin gets me some additional cool roundtable opportunities plus an always-useful discount on my badge. But still... I was kinda sorta secretly hoping that maybe this year I'd finally make sufficiently solid contact that I finally launched one a little farther, far enough that there would be no doubt that "ya know, the kid's got pop."

Instead, it's just a loud out. And now I have to suck it up and stand ready to spend some more practice time in the cage, taking BP and seeing if I can find just a few more feet on the end of my swing.

The finish in both contests is encouraging to a degree, and I'll use the placement in both contests as an aid in trying to market the beast to whatever folks out there might be willing to look at the script and possibly help find some commercial use for it, but for now I have to take the finish as source of motivation to keep on working, keep on improving, keep on swinging hard and praying for good wood.

"OK, meat. Gimme the gas. Throw that double-A cheese in here and lemme show you what I can do...."
loving the smell of pinetar in the morning B

01 September 2006

return of the golden days

Look—I love my kids. In fact, if I didn't love the filthy little ingrates so damned much that I am constantly willing to volunteer for (career) suicide missions with the PTA, Little League, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Junior Knights Templar (curious to see if this helps the old hit counts locally), I might well be a hell of a lot farther along on the impossible dream of screenwriting fame and glory.

But I do, so I am not, and this is the life we have chosen.

Still, it was happy dancing time around here this week as The Daughter ("kneebiter the last") finally started back to pre-school for the year. I knew that this summer was going to be a fully loaded bear and a half, but somehow even with that understanding I still underestimated just how insane the distractions would be this year. I won't go into all the ridiculous detail, but let's just say that "precious little serious writing was accomplished these past few months."

This is not to say that i was totally unproductive on the old career front. Somehow I managed to visit LA not once but twice and made some cool connections during those trips, and even had some preliminary meetings with producers and folks of relevance.

But at the end of the day, it's about the words, baybee, and since school let out in May I just ain't been putting enough of them down on paper.

On screen. Whatever.

But now a new day has dawned, and three days a week I again find myself able to do one of my favorite things in the world: lock the door, turn off the phone, slap on the headphones and disappear into Story World. This week I finally finally (FINALLY!) was able to bring all guns to bear on the structural problems in the long-stalled RomCom. I'd already found a big piece of the puzzle last week (thanks, J.O.), but thanks to a few days dedicated to squeezing my brain until Thought Juice dripped out, I found a few more loose wires and misconnected pieces in there. Now that those problems are identified and straightened out, a fairly straightforward and "simple" completion of the draft in the next week or so seems possible.

MEANWHILE, I got word a few weeks ago that QUEEN OF THE SKY, my based-upon-fact WW2 war drama, had managed a Top 10% finish in this year's Nicholl Fellowship. No, that's not nearly so nauseatingly cool as a Semifinalist letter (like Scott the WRITER managed—go get 'em, kid), but still, given that I fully admit that the script has an annoying flaw in its last act structure—one which I continue to bang my head against the wall to try and solve—I'm pretty proud of the showing. Parts of that script rank among the strongest writing I've done, and I am defiantly proud of most of the script. if I can just figure a solution for that damned last act hiccup, and then find someone willing to throw a big huge pile of money toward the production of a period war drama featuring a female lead in a non-triumphant role, all will be just hunky dory.

Plus, in the "Always Cool To Note" Department, I've got all sorts of odd ideas and inspirations swirling around like moths around a vapor lamp. I have the big list of already-logged ideas and dream projects, and then a few more have swirled into the fringes of my consciousness of late as well, including a potentially cool idea to give commercial and dramatic appeal to a project I have long wanted to try.

And then there's the weird Spaghetti Western idea which got tossed back into the freezer but which I STILL want and intend to work on just as soon as I clear some space on the work deck, and then there's the wild collegiate comedy project that I've been threatening to try for twenty years, and of course there's the long overdue page one rewrite of my old goofy newsroom comedy... and I'm too damned pugnacious and relentless to fully abandon the partner-written adventure/romcom, as I still feel there's just too much cool stuff there to walk away without making at least one more effort to find the project some sort of home...

And now—at long last—I find that for at least three golden shining wonderous days a week, I again have opportunity to actually wrestle these 'gators into submission.

March or die, soldier. There'll be time for rest in the grave.