Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Stages of Grief

This has got to be one of the funniest bits from Robot Chicken that I've ever seen.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Falling in love is a pretty spectacular thing.

The butterflies in your stomach when she calls. The way she smiles at your bad jokes. The wink she gives for your good ones. How her hair falls just so over her shoulder.

Tomes have been written about the subject.

But a very close second to falling in love is a broken heart.

To grieve over lost love is so uniquely human, that it can't help but be romantic.

To love is one thing - everyone can do that. Even a moron can fall in love. But to mourn lost love - to embrace the emptiness that comes with unrequited love - that, I think, is what separates some of us from the rest.

I remember one night in particular. And one particular girl.

We called ourselves Red Team, while my roommate and his girlfriend were Blue Team. The four of us had some great adventures together and were inseparable. For months on end, it seemed like Red Team and Blue Team were unstoppable.

Until, that is, Red Team decided to sleep with someone else.

"I think I want to stay here," she said, as I tried to leave the party.

And stay she did.

The next day, after I'd sobered up, I was in agony. I felt devastated. Annihilated. I sat at the pool all day, just staring off into the distance - smoking cigarettes. Writing.

It was beautiful.

You can't get that sort of inspiration on your own.

An amputated soul can move mountains.

So now, as an inevitable breakup with my on-again off-again girlfriend of two years grows closer and closer, I can't help but be a little disappointed that there's no real chance of any sort of heartbreak once it's finally over. Which is a shame.

Because sometimes I think I don't miss falling in love so much as I miss having a broken heart.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Coming to Terms

I'm still struggling with finishing the first draft of our next spec.

Annabel turned in her first draft to me like two weeks ago, but I haven't been able to finish my rewrites quite yet. Thankfully, being mother to what must be several hundred children, has given her the patience of a saint. Because she definitely puts up with a lot of shit from me.

I miss the old days where I would do my work, come home, and all I'd need was some booze, tits, and maybe some hot wings - and I'd be happier than a pig in shit. I even started to write with this mindset - and it was easy. At first.

Now days, you put in me in front of Final Draft, and I turn into an artsy fartsy type - all indecisive and emotional.

I think a lot of it has to do with coming to terms with failure.

I guess part of me wanted to hit it out of the park with our first spec. I would go as far as to say I kind of expected to. Unrealistic? Sure - but when aren't I unreasonable? It's part of my charm.

So a lot of what I've been going through with this spec is coming to terms with the fact that I didn't hit it out of the park on my first go-around. And even though I feel our current concept is much stronger and much more marketable, I might very well fail this time too.

I hope not, but the probability is that I will.

And a lot of the time I've been taking to finish this first draft has had to do with building up my ability to cope with that probable failure.

See what I mean about being emotional when I try to write? Any minute now a giant beer can is going to fall out of the sky and crush me to death.

Slowly but surely I'm getting over this artsy fartsy shit, and I'm jumping back into writing with cock in hand. And pretty soon the first draft of the new spec will be done - and a whole new batch of feedback will be given.

And the process will repeat itself.

God, writing sucks.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

My First (Not So) Gay Experience

Growing up in a city like Los Angeles, one usually becomes acclimated to different cultures and lifestyles at an early age. Your friends and neighbors tend to be people from all walks of life.

I think that's why I find myself comfortable and at home regardless of my surroundings. I joke with and tease anyone as if I were a part of their culture, and they of mine. Most people seem to respect that sort of candor.

Life is only socially awkward if you allow it to be.

I remember the first time I had to come to terms with a weird situation.

I had two really good friends growing up - they were brothers. The older one, sixteen, happened to be gay. The younger one, thirteen, while a lot more meek and girly, was not.

Their parents were the owners of a chain of restaurants, while mine were not - so, naturally, we hung out at their posh estate in the Hollywood Hills a lot more than my tiny little apartment in Hollywood.

We had some great times there. Adventuring through the brush and hunting lizards like we were Crocodile fucking Dundee. Swimming in their football field sized pool. Playing every video game ever made. It was like hanging out at Disneyland.

One day in particular stands out for me.

I should have known something was going to happen because we kicked off the day by shooting the gardener. No, you didn't read that wrong.

The poor guy was minding his own business, plucking the weeds and trimming the bushes on the hill across the street. Unfortunately for him, we were bored teenagers with a fully pumped and loaded air rifle. And he bent over a lot.

Yes. We shot him in the ass.

After we got yelled at by our parents, we found ourselves bored again - and this time with no air rifle.

We had a good two hours to kill until we were scheduled to attend a house party down the street, so we decided to try on some clothes and see what we looked best in.

I had just come out in my spiffy new party clothes when the older brother exclaimed, "Someone looks good!" If only he'd stopped there...

"The girls are gonna be like, Ooooh Dan," he shouted.

And that's when he went to grab my balls.

My ninja-like reflexes kicked in - I zigged to the left, and zagged to the back - but I was too slow for his superior homosexual agility.

He managed to firmly grasp a hold of a single testicle. It was the first time anyone, let alone a man, had touched one of my jubilees.

I think he realized what was happening, because he quickly let go of it and apologized. Either that, or he saw the terror in my eyes as his jaws of life clenched onto my little kiwi.

I didn't know what to do.

Part of me wanted to panic. Was he hitting on me? Did this mean I was gay? Was my Dad going to disown me now? All these things rushed through my head as we stood around in awkward silence for a good three seconds.

Until I said the two magic words, "You fag." And we all broke out into laughter.

Needless to say, the moment passed just as quickly as it came, and what could have been a weird situation ended up being a funny story we told for months afterwards.

While it wasn't a life-changing moment, I think it was one of the many good lessons I learned at that young age. No, I wasn't gay. Yes, he still was. No, he wasn't hitting on me.

Sometimes a grabbing of the balls is just a grabbing of the balls.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Head versus Heart

The toughest obstacle when it comes to writing, for me, is the battle between my head and my heart.

In most areas of life, I follow my heart. It's the one true barometer I have. You usually can't go wrong following your heart - It tells you when to persist, even if the odds are stacked against you. It tells you when to admit defeat, even if you want to cling on to hope. Karate here.

Writing, on the other hand, seems to be counter-intuitive from the rest of my life. It seems to call upon my head for a lot of the decisions my heart should be making. Your head is a dangerous place to be stuck inside of - It makes you overthink things, long after they've lost their flavor. It causes you second-guess yourself, even when you have no reason to. Karate not here.

I should have been done with the first draft of my new comedy this past Sunday, but I've been stuck inside my head for longer than I care to admit.

What if I fail? What if I can't do this?

My heart tells me I'm doing the right thing, and this is a great script.

My head tells me I'm crazy, and taking a year off from my career is suicide.

I don't like failing. I've never failed at anything I've put my mind heart to. I've screwed up a lot of things after I've after succeeded at them, but I've never failed.

So my heart and my brain continue to duke this out, while I'm caught in the middle - paralyzed from writing. I'm not completely stalled, but slow enough to where I need to kick this puppy into gear before it's too late.

My heart says this script is the one.

If only I can stop listening to my head.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Great Bambino

The Sultan of Swat.
The King of Crash.
The Colossus of Clout.
The Great Bambino.

Also known as Babe Ruth - the man who called out his home run to center field.

"What do you think of the nerve of that big monkey. Imagine the guy calling his shot and getting away with it." - Lou Gehrig

No, this blog isn't really about Babe Ruth - but there's a reason I bring him up.

We're almost done with the first draft of our latest feature spec, and I'm feeling pretty damn good about it. Really good. I think this may be the one, ladies and gentlemen.

A high concept comedy with all the makings of my first spec sale.

Never the one to shy away from putting my foot in my mouth - I'm going to go ahead and call it out now. This spec is going to be my ticket into an illustrious screenwriting career.

Other than that, I really don't have much to say, unfortunately. I'm knee-deep in this first draft, which should be done by this weekend.

I'm excited.

This is the one.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Bad Internet. Bad.

One thing I haven't really gotten the hang of yet is forcing myself to write.

Just sitting myself down at the keyboard and pretending someone is holding a gun to my head. And writing.

I can procrastinate 'til the cows come home, so this is a skill I'm going to have to teach myself at some point or another. But with the interwebs so readily available, how can I ever even start?

The internet is such a huge time suck, it almost seems like I'm going to have to go someplace with my laptop and no network card. Some sort of parallel universe where the tubes have become clogged with porn, and the internet is not even an option.

I can't tell you how many hours a day I lose into the black holes of Wikipedia and YouTube. Or the various podcasts, blogs, and message boards. The internet is one giant time suck - and its evil purpose is to stop me from writing.

Is disconnecting myself the answer? I sure as fuck don't have the willpower to not click just one more link.

All I know is I need a system free of distractions where I can just force myself to write.

Any suggestions?

Monday, August 6, 2007

The Lawn Gnome Incident

When I lived in North Carolina, I would always notice an abundance of lawn gnomes during my drive to work. It seemed as if everyone had one. Staring at you with those glassy eyes as they stood guard. Bearded, porcelain gods.

Something had to be done to stop them.

It started like any other night, with drinking and games of pool at our local watering hole. Nothing terribly out of the ordinary. Until, that is, someone showed up with some acid.

Acid in and of itself makes for interesting times as it is - but combine it with boredom, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Or one hell of an adventure.

After the bar had shut down, we were relegated to take our debauchery home with us. Unless, of course, someone came up with a better idea along the way. And that they did.

"Dude, I think that lawn gnome just flipped me off."

"Yeah, I fucking hate lawn gnomes."

"Tell me about it."

"We should steal them..."

We should steal them. It sure sounded like a good idea at the time.

So now we have a trunk full of nearly two dozen kidnapped lawn gnomes, and the sun is going to start coming up at any minute. Maybe this wasn't such a great idea.

Someone thinks they heard them talking in the trunk. While under normal circumstances this person would have been dubbed a moron, this wasn't one of those times.

We pulled over to try and listen to what they were saying in the back. One person confirmed they could hear them - plotting.

And that's when it happened.

"Dude, we pulled over right in front of their leader. Don't look, don't look."

We all looked.

Sure enough. There he was, in all his glory. The King Gnome. How did we know he was the King Gnome? He had a pitchfork.

He stared at us. Motionless. Judging us.

"I think he wants them back."

"He totally does. I can tell."

"We should just do it, this is getting weird."

It sounded like a good idea at the time.

Quietly, and very suspiciously - four strangers slinked out of the car that morning to drop off twenty-five lawn gnomes on a poor, unsuspecting persons front lawn.

When we finished, we couldn't help but stand back and revel at our creation.

Separate, they were just lawn furnishings. Decoration. But now. Together. They had purpose.

They were an army.

An army of lawn gnomes.

They were our minions. And while we had to go home and pass out, we would not forget about them. In fact, we promised we'd return to check up on them the following night.

But when we got there the next day, they were gone. Even the King Gnome had disappeared.

Some might say their owners came and picked them up the next morning, or that the owner of the house relocated them - or maybe that they were confiscated in some sort of investigation.

But I like to think they're still out there somewhere. United.

An army of gnomes. Marching as one.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Movie Moments

You ever find yourself with a group of friends making lists of your favorite movies, or best lays, or greatest fights? That's your High Fidelity Moment.

Do you remember the first time you heard a song or band that was so perfect, you felt like they were speaking to you? That was your Almost Famous Moment.

Or your Office Space Moment - to find that perfect opportunity to slip in "two chicks at the same time" during casual conversation.

Life is a lot more interesting if you view it as a series of movie moments.

Anyway, the last couple weeks have sucked. Not very many movie moments to speak of.

I've been full of self-doubt when it comes to my writing, and have been avoiding working on my latest feature spec at all costs. There's a lot of pressure in writing as it is, and a looming 12 month deadline doesn't make things any easier.

I needed a movie moment to get me out of my rut.

I wanted a Taxi Driver Moment.

Unfortunately, I've already been shaving my head every morning since I was 19 - so I couldn't exactly sport a mohawk to fulfill that moment.

So I did the next best thing. I shaved my goatee.

That might not seem very significant to you if you have a full head of hair - but believe me, when it's the only hair on your entire head with the exception of your eyebrows - it's a big fucking deal.

Don't judge me, bitch.

And a funny thing happened when I shaved it... I started writing. And writing.

Not only did I feel reinvigorated and was writing again, but I came up with a much-needed climax to the current project I'm working on. And it works.

I gotta tell you, though - the life of a writer sucks. It's a sick roller coaster of emotions. One day you're feeling confident and on top of the world, and the next you're wondering who you're tying to kid by thinking you can do this for a living.

But, we need to work through those rough times in order to get to the good ones - because there's nothing more satisfying than writing something you're proud of.

So, the next time you're having some self-doubt or are in a rut when it comes to your writing - give yourself a cool movie moment.

You never know, it might just work.

And speaking of work you're proud of - if you remember, last month I talked about a small exercise we did on the Artful Writer forums. We had to write a five page short on the theme of dealing with a bully.

Here's mine - FLY BALL

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Nicholl Fallout

This is a strange week in the screenwriting world.

People are finding out whether or not they made the Quarterfinals of the Nicholl Fellowship.

Since I didn't finish my first spec in time to submit to Nicholl, I get to watch as an outsider at the developments. And I'm of two minds about it.

First, there's part of me that feels both disappointment and joy for friends of mine who did or did not make the cut. I really feel bad for those who didn't, and genuinely congratulatory for those who did. Natch.

But that's not why I'm blogging about it.

I'm blogging about it because my evil side has decided to come out and play this week.

This isn't a pretty side of me. It's definitely not one I'm proud of. But it's a part of me, for better or worse.

So, here I am, embracing my evil for the world to see.

I know we're supposed to all be happy and hand-holding and shit, and for the most part we are - but I've gotta admit, there's a couple of you out there that I just can't stand. And when you got your rejection letters this week, I couldn't help but grin a little bit.


Some people just rub you the wrong way. I'm sure there's lots of people who read my blog and walk away thinking, "What a self-promoting blowhard." And really, they wouldn't be too far from the truth.

But I'm okay with that. I'm an acquired taste.

Most people are.

So, for those of you who didn't make the quarterfinals - Better luck next time, and keep your chin up.

For those who did - Congratulations. You deserve it.

And for those few of you I wish testicular cancer upon - Well...