If you're like me, and I know I am...

Thursday, July 28, 2005

The chickenshit way out

You know, it really bothers me when people think that suicide is the "easy way out." It isn't. If you fear Hell, guilt, pain or the unknown, taking a handful of pills, eatinng a bullet or sitting in your garage with your car engine running is definitely not easy.

Let's assume for one second that the desire to kill yourself isn't based on a one time, quick decision. No one is happy as Larry for 40 years, gets their Verizon bill, sees $200 in overages and blows their head off with a shotgun. Me mate Mark's uncle killed himself last week after 20 years of physical pain and mental anguish strapped into a wheelchair. Does that sound fucking easy? The guy thought about killing himself for two fucking decades. He talked about gassing himself, but ended up using a gun. That surprised a few people, but not me. No one wants to hurt themselves, but no one wants to fuck it up either. I'm sure he thought it would be painless to sit in his car with his radio on, maybe a favorite tape. He'd have that door closed, maybe a pipe going from the tailpipe in through his window. He'd fall asleep gently and never be in pain again ... unless he fucked up or someone found him. Then he might be retarded in addition to stuck in a God damn wheelchair.

I stuck a gun in my mouth once about 10 years ago. I really wanted to pull that trigger, man, but I was so fucking scared that the caliber wasn't big enough to the do the job that I'd just end up with a profound lisp and severe brain damage. But what really fucking scared me was the idea that maybe all those fucking Christians were right and there is a Hell and the only surefire way to get into it is suice. That is something to fear. God will forgive you for murder, rape, theft, being a Republican, but I thought, what if I kill myself and wake up in someplace where I am not only NOT dead and at peace but suffering the tortures of the damned? What if my punishment is just to keep on feeling the way I did at that moment forever?

I'm not saying anyone should kill themselves, but those shiny, happy motherfuckers who run around poo-pooing anyone who's offed themselves as a chickenshit coward have no idea what kind of shit people with suicidal ideation put themselves through or what kind of shit their brains foist on them.

I recently had a solid month of panic attacks. And I can tell you, I wasn't fearing Hell any more. I know for damn sure that if I'd had a gun, I wouldn't have hesitated to kill myself because this wasn't just the hard-core depression of 10 years past. This was full blown axiety attacks day in and day out. No loving deity could possibly hold you responsible for ending that kind of human suffering. But I used every fucking trick in my bag to keep going this time. That bag was full of decades worth of mental gymnastics. Some worked, some didn't. Eventually, the attacks subsided, but I live in fear every day that they will come back as unexpectedly as they started and I might have the means to finish the job.

And talk about the weather pt. 2

So my dad did get his hearing aid today as planned.
I had agreed to meet him at my sister's house three
blocks from mine at 11 a.m. So, of course, he shows
up at my house at 10:20 a.m. and honks his horn
like I'm supposed to bound out of the house immediately
in glee to be going on a fun adventure. Fuck that shit. I called
down to his cell phone and told him to go back to
my sister's house and wait 'til 11.

"I don't want to be late."
"We've got and hour and 10 minutes!"

Fuck, it's like no matter what the fuck I do, he's got
to create a situation where I'm wrong. I wasn't late.
Yes I was fucking asleep, I didn't go to bed until 3.
My god damn alarm was set to go off in 10 minutes so
I could get up, shower, use the toilet and get to my sister's
house by 11 so we could make the five minute drive to the
mall so he could get his god damned hearing aid at 11:30
so he can have something else to bitch about for the next
10 years.

We show up at the hearing aid place 45 minutes before his
appointment. The hearing aid people got 15 minutes to kill
before their first appointment which isn't my dad, but of
course my dad thinks if he gets there early enough, they'll
squeeze him in so he can do ... what? Nothing. He's fucking
retired, has nothing to do, but he figures he can get "something
done" if he gets this over with early enough. Well, shit, why not get
something done before you roll up to my house and honk like a
god damned hayseed. I live in the "big" city. We don't go for that pulling up
and honking the horn shit because when you honk your horn,
hundreds of people from hundreds of houses look to see what
asshole is outside honking his fucking horn.

Best part is, he still had to wait 10 minutes after his appointment
time to get in so I guess that's one for my side whatever my fucking
side is.

Then when he does get his hearing aid put in, he has the fucking
balls to say "huh?" and "what?" to me about three times because
he isn't just deaf, he's been zoning me out since I was like 10 or 11.
I'm sick of daddy issues ... I'm sick of being fucking ignored ... I'm
sick of being accused of mumbling, not talking loud enough and
shouting. Because there's a difference between talking loud enough
and shouting, you know, you can speak up without shouting.
You try explaining yourself rationally at 23 dB.

Then my dad decides to just fuck off and go "get some things done."
My nephew and I actually wanted to hang out and maybe, I don't know,
chat. But all through lunch, my dad hasn't got one god damned thing to
say. It's a fucking joke. Maybe if he'd gotten the fucking hearing aid 20
or 30 years ago when he first needed it, there would actually be something
to say besides "no I don't want any of your fucking hot peppers" and "can I
borrow some money?" You think it doesn't feel like shit to only talk to
your own father when you need something bad enough to put up
with all the fucking bullshit talking to him entails?

I am completely unsatisfied. That fucker owes me something for years of
emotional abuse and ignoring me.

Real People

Americans aren't even real people to me man. Real people
would take a fresh slice of tomato and mozzarella drizzled in
olive oil over a MacDonald's cheeseburger any day. I brought
fresh tomatoes from my dad's garden to work today. The taste is
amazing, but of course there are a few blemishes. It's a trade off.
That shit they sell in the stores looks good but tastes like
cardboard. Real people would relish the opportunity to wash
off a nice fresh veg with its flavor and vitamin content intact, but
not Americans. If it ain't shrink-wrapped and expunged of any
and all connections to nature, dosed with preservative, sodium
and high-frustose corn syrup, most Americans won't touch it.

Most real people would be ashamed to live as wastefully as
Americans do.

Real people would fight for their rights as workers and take
advantage of every chance to vote.

Real people wouldn't shit on education and the educated.

Real people would spend more time with their kids than they do
watching TV.

Reeal people would be ashamed of how stupid and ignorant they

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

And talk about the weather

So my father, who's been deaf more or less since some time
in the 70s when he was working in an industrial plant without
proper earplugs, finally decided to get himself a hearing aid
this week. Before this week, he refused to get a hearing aid for
a couple decasdes. His ex-wife forced him to get one from a
traveling salesman back in 1984. The guys sold him a piece
of shit and then, mysteriously never came back to find out
how things were going. This gave my father all the excuse
he needed to keep people shouting at him for the last 21 years.

"You need to get a hearing aid."
"I HAD a hearing aid and it was a piece of shit."
"That was over 20 years ago!"
"Forget it."
"Oh, I'll have some."

You know how impossible it is to have any kind of relationship
with someone who can't hear you, more than likely doesn't want to
hear you and is a terrible guesser? I've had endless arguments with
my father because he just assumed I said something angry and hurtful
and responded in kind. He never answers the phone and
when he does, you better not be anywhere people can hear you.
I can't call him from the break room of my place of work because
everyone will look at ME like I'm nuts for shouting into the phone.

My father is deaf in exactly the range at which I speak. So I am
the one person in my family he finds hardest to hear. When I was a
kid, he used to accuse me of mumbling all the time. It really pissed
me off since I most certainly was not mumbling and no one else in
my life has ever accused me of that. If anything I over pronounce to
compensate. My father's disability was always everyone else's
problem. Everyone talks too fast, everyone talks too quiet and fully
99 percent of the people of Earth who don't have high-pitched voices
are mumbling.

The funny thing about my father's decision to get his hearing aid
finally is that my sister and I stopped brow-beating him about it
some time ago. We got plenty damn good and tired of never being
able to get ahold of him. If you wanted to see my father, you actually
had to drive 20 minutes north and hope he was at home. Because
my father hates the phone, he's always been partial to the drop-in
as well. I'm not. I don't often wear pants round the house. I'm casual
and if someone knocks on my door, it means I will have to get
dressed before I can answer it. Occasionally, I don't hear him
honking in my driveway. Consequently, my dad doesn't drop by
much either and I don't see him very often. He drops in on my
sister all the time because someone is always home and
wearing clothes. He'll drop in at 7:30 in the a.m. even so...
I'm pretty lucky in this.

I'll have to ask what made him change his mind when he
can actually hear me. But I wonder if it will really make a
difference this new found gift of hearing. I think he liked
being deaf. I think he liked to think people felt sorry for
him even though all that shouting just made everyone
pissed off.

Star Wars fans, your taste is in your ass!

One is often confronted these days by deluded Star Wars fans
who insist on telling me how fucking good Episode III really was.
REALLY? Then why is it that I have this terrible aftertaste of SUCK
in my mouth?

Last night, I had this intellectual discussion with a classmate of mine
who not only thought III was great but that he actually liked all six
Star Wars flicks equally. Now, how in the fuck can you have a
reasonable conversation with someone like that? Star Wars and Empire
were clearly superior to every other movie in the series and for very
clearly established reasons: great scripts, direction and decent acting.
And NO MUPPETS ... besides Yoda was really more of a brilliantly
articulated puppet than a fucking muppet cackling like Animal from
some deleted scene from The Muppets take Manhattan.

I don't mind so much if people like shit, but they so seldomly will admit
that what they like is shit and they insist on convincing you that it ISN'T
shit as well.

90 percent of EVERYTHING is shit and just because you like it doesn't
mean it's good, fuck-o. I like Night of he Comet, a mid-80s B science
fiction flick starring a bunch of no names running around from Zombies.
It's awful AND I like it. Summer School starring Mark Harmon is also
one of those crappy movies I just love. See? No psychic disconnect,
no mental trauma, just the plain God's honest truth: some things we
like even though they aren't high quality.

But try convincing most people that their taste is in their ass and they
get offended. Like it's my fault they think Taco Bell is Mexican let alone
GOOD Mexican. MacDonald's is bad for you but people still eat it. Richie
Rich comics suck ass, but if I'm on a roadtrip I like them.

My whole thing is that if I am arguing on the basis of certain well established
principles of film criticism (direction, script, acting, editing) that a movie
is just not very good, don't come back at me with THE FIGHT SCENES
WERE AWESOME! Especially if the fight scenes were definitely NOT
awesome, but were in fact quite boring and unsatisfying.

If the acting is done in front of green screens and feels like it, then the
movie loses points.

If decent actors give lackluster performances, then the director fucked up.

If Padme says, "Hold me, Ani, like you did by the lake on Naboo." Then the writing
is just shit.

If the action doesn't even jazz me, then there is something wrong with it.

If there is more shit flying at the screen in the first five minutes of a Star Wars
movie than there was in Saving Private Ryan, the idea of a space battle has been
lost ... check out Battlestar Galactica some time bitch.

If the director himself says he isn't a very good director and doesn't like directing,
then chances are he isn't going to put much into it and should turn it over to someone
who gives a shit.

If you are the Sith Lord emperor of a system of government spanning the galaxy.
You JUST OVERTHREW the old government and Yoda is coming to kick your ass,
you might want more than two guards on the door to your office.

If your Yoda and you're going to kick the ass of the Sith Lord who just overthrew your
government, you might want to bring at least ONE other guy to help you take him down.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Journey Beyond Tour '05

This weekend was the '05 Journey Beyond reunion
for me and several of my friends plus associated
hanger's on. Journey Beyond or JB is a role-playing
game of the old school variety. It is isn't a computer
game. It isn't a video game. It is game in which men
with dice and character sheets (of paper) in hand act
out a variety of situations determined by the game's
referee known as the Echo Master.

Now, you've never heard of this game; it isn't sold in
stores or anything. This game is made up from the fertile,
plagiaristic minds of its creator and participants who take
characters such as Wolverine, Dr. Doom, HHH, Darth
Vader and whover else trips their trigger and use them
in this off-the-wall universe of multiple dimensions and
arcane power sources to try and kill each other mostly.

I played back in high school. I had a character based
roughly on Mad Max who was a scrub in this universe.
No special powers to speak off, just some weapons, some
armor, a car and a mission to terminate whoever I was paid
to terminate.

It was fun. Steve Thomas, the erstwhile Echo Master, had
and still does have a quick mind. He is a decent improvisor
who works out a good plot beforehand and then makes it
work as factors change. The thing that I figured out over 20
years ago is that Steve is really playing two games. One game
is JB but the other is favorites. Not so much that he only ever
lets one or two people have everything they want, it's more of a
mind game. Steve likes to manipulate things and screw with
people's minds. It's not an uncommon trait among Dungeon
Masters and other gamers, but it is particulary striking with Steve
because he hides it so well. I quit originally because Steve got
mad at me and I was pretty sure that the character I was so
attached to would get whacked in some terribly legitimate manner
if I ever attempt to play the game again.

Steve would deny this, but I think he really gets off on playing God.
I don't blame him. Who wouldn't love to be able to fuck with his friends
and associates on a regular basis, have them come to you begging
for die rolls and favors for which, they occasionally barter. There was
one douche bag back in the day who would buy stereo components,
CDs and food just to get an extra savings throw or a made-up sword
with special powers. It was sick. Even last weekend, someone offered
Steve the last peanut butter crunch for some little favor.

What I don't understand is why anyone would subject himself to this kind
of summary character/personality assessment and emotional extortion.
Especially for 25 years or more. It seems obvious to me that some
characters and their players do much better than others with no apparent
explanation to anyone who isn't playing the game. Eveyone in the game
who comes out on top is convinced it is due to their superiority.

Granted I've seen some dumb shit moves and callow pretend behavior that
was a reflection of the players true personality, but who the fuck plays a
role-playing to be just as big a loswer in their fantasy world as they are in
their real life?

The answer is no one, of course. The whole point of fantasy is that it is
supposed to be better than reality. This is the shortcoming of all role-playing
games though, not just JB. It's just that JB is the only game I even get near
these days. I couldn't possibly play an RPG with strangers and I can't manage
to have a reunion with my old geek buddies that isn't all about Journey Beyond.
I get to see an occasional movie or have dinner with one or two of them, but when
we are all together, we are playing JB.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Behold ye unbelievers and tremble ... with laughter

Omigod! This MUST be the sure proof that God is indeed
watching over the United States because it couldn't just
be an optical illusion! Tyler Uetz of Iowa CCI sent me this.
Apparently, this "gem" has been circulating around the
Internet to prove, among other things, that God prefers
the United States of America over every other nation on
Earth. Clearly, othewise you could see Sundogs when you
hand any large piece of translucent clothe between you
and the sun.

Some of the other things proved by this flag and the hubbub
surrounding it are: Americans are a bunch of fucking cavemen
with little to no science background and that anyone who
thinks that "cross" looks cross-like enough to be sent from
heaven is also a fucking caveman with about a sixth grade
science education.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Gold Bless Corporate America

I live in America. At least I'm supposed to live America. Recently I realized that the name of my country had been changed to Corporate America. Corporate American is much more democratic it seems, but because any fucking idiot can get ahead here. In Corporate America, idiots can get ahead and they can make sure that no one with anything more on the ball than them doesn't get ahead.

Corporate America can't lose like regular America either. In Corporate America, we can talk about family values while fucking up the world so our children will have to compete with mutant hordes over eating and mating rights. In Corporate America, we can pour millions of gallons of shit into rivers and streams poisoning everyone's water and it's OK because in Corporate America, we drink bottled water any way to show everyone else in Corporate America that we are of a high enough status to afford the shit.

In Corporate America, we value style over substance because we aren't smart enough to what substance is in the first place and because people of substance are probably smart enough to show just how stupid we are in Corporate America.

In Corporate America, we don't have to be right or left wing, we just have to contribute to both sides of the political spectrum in order to make sure we can go one fucking up the world without anyone saying a damn thing against us.

In Corporate America, anyone who says anything against us is probably just a commie anyway.

In Corporate America, no one will want for anything so long as what they want isn't to be free of Corporate America. In Corporate America, you will wear expensive sunglasses and watch flatscreen TVs, drive a new SUV every year and send your children to private schools run either by Catholics or businesses who will teach your children that things are much better now that we have eliminated liberal bias from our textbooks. The Indians welcomed settlers to their lands because they didn't know anything about farming or raping the local wildlife. It's good they done that, it really is.

In Corporate America, uneducated douchebags will sit on all the important boards and make all the decisions for us so we don't have to think at all. We can sit on our asses watching TV and reading news about which celebrities are fucking crazy or fucking chicks 16 years younger than they are.

In Corporate America, everyone will work for Corporate America and anyone tries to compete is a traitor. Trial lawyers (not working for Corporate America), reporters (not working for Corporate America) and teachers (not working for Corporate America) will be shot on site for wasting everyone's time and, more importantly, their money.

We'll talk a good game about family values and God because to do otherwise would hurt sales. Racism and intolerance will be eliminated so that everyone can concentrate on overconsumption. Obesity will be encouraged so that everyone can get diabetes and other health problems so that they can all contribute to the pharmaceutical corporations who help make this country great.

Soon, we won't need a standing army because we will outsource that to the Philippines. There will be no such thing as illegal immigration because all the people's of the Earth are welcomed to come to Corporate America and work for jack shit.

Whatever happened to Little Oscar?

Remember "The Tin Drum"? It was a great movie based on a great book by Gunter Grass. Of course, the movie sticks in my mind better, but the story was about a kid, Little Oscar, born in Nazi Germany who, at the age of 3, decides he isn't going to grow up. He has a tin drum and screams as so to break glass.

But what is most amazing is a fact about David Bennent, the actor who played Little Oscar, that I did not realize until recently. David Bennent was just like Little Oscar in that he was a perfectly formed handsome dude who just stopped growing. What I didn't know was that just like Oscar who, at the end of WWII decided to start growing, Bennent didn't start growing until his career slowed down. He was 19 years old and 4'2" in 1985 when he played Gump in "Legend." After that film, things slowed for Bennent, but he started growing until he hit 5'9". Here's a recent pic of Bennent in Spike Lee's "She Hate Me."

Director Ridley Scott said he thought it was a psychological thing. Because Bennent's success was tied to being small, he didn't grow until he wasn't getting work for being small any more.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Boom boom boom what happened to my room?

They blew up The Towers at ISU today. I have to say it was about time.
Back in 1988, when the towers were only about 15 years old, they were
already in pretty shitty condition. There were long red rust stains running
down the side of the building. My step-father is a contractor, he said that
was a pretty sure sign that the rebar used to reinforce the concrete was weak.
Considering that chunks of concrete often fell from the building, I think he
was right. I mean, the guys a fucking mason for Christ's sake.

Nothing in the modern era is built to last. Everything looks like shit and even
the stall doors in most men's rooms I've been in don't fit. It's disgusting.

But back to the Towers. I suppose it would only be fitting for me to say something
about the good times I once had in the Towers. But basically I just got wasted there
a few times.

Beam me up, Scotty

James "Scotty" Doohan died Wednesday. I feel like an old friend I haven't seen in years has left us for the other side. Doohan used to resent the fact he had been typecast as Scotty, but later in life, he learned to embrace the fact that millions of Star Trek fans loved him and were inspired by his performance.

Star Trek is not just another TV show; it's art. The best kind of art. Star Trek makes those of us affected by it wish for a better world and in many cases actually strive for it. It is not socially retarded to be affected by art even if that art is considered less than high culture by snobs. For myself, I know that Trek is a common form of popular art but it isn't just mind candy. It is morality and ethics, respect and potential, wonder and mystery.

The actors who showed us these things are dear to us and rightly so.

We'll miss you Scotty.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The Good and Bad Times

My man Mark Schonberg is in town this weekend. He's back from South Korea to do some training in Kansas just 2 hours away from me. That's cool. I won't be bothering him every weekend, but I plan to be down in his neck of the woods once or twice over the next year. It's not easy for me to not have many of my old friends around. The one's who are around have lives, kids, shit to fix up around the house or much better friends than me to hang out with.

And when my friends do come around, it just isn't the same as it ever was. That's to be expected. I'm not a fucking moron. I don't even WANT things to be the way they were back in 86 or 91 or whatever. I just want the times to be good. That's not too much to ask I think.

Some of my friends do act like they expect the old days though. They expect me to crank the 80s tunes or drink like a fish or play games I don't want to play any more because I played them 20 years back. I'm not into a lot of that shit any more. I may not be rolling in duckets or have five kids, but I do use my brain for more than a hatrack. I keep up with events; I read; I watch good movies; I fucking write; I keep company with a younger, hipper crowd that hasn't lost their will to give a shit and it keeps me young in a good way.

And there are some very bad ways to stay young too.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Fire Rove

Sign this petition.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

All the Small Things

As one gets older year by year and hence closer to the inevitability that is death, one thinks that one MIGHT be able to take great pleasure in spending time with one's contemporaries. But one's contemporaries are just as likely to be as different from you as anyone else so you can't count on that.
I've got friends who read this blog every day and that's all the contact they need from me apparently. I don't get emails or phone calls. I don't even know why I have a cell phone frankly. It never rings.
People wonder why I'm hostile. I guess it's a cyclical thing. I'm hostile because I can't seem to get the very least that other people have and take for granted and I can't get those things because I'm hostile.
I get these cracks on my fingers along my knuckles that turn red and bleed. I'm sure it's something common... and disgusting... like chapping or impetigo. But I imagine it's the rage I feel on a daily basis purging itself out through my fingers ... especially now that I'm off anti-depressants. Anti-depressants, more than anything, kept my anger at bay by allowing me to turn off the running thoughts process that kept me obsessing over that little irritant, like a hangnail, that just wouldn't go away. I'm on a low boil, my frustration at medium. Now, free and clear of drugs, I get angry and stay that way for a few days. It's hard on the old psyche and the body. It's exhausting.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Little Bigot

You're gonna love this one. I'm in class tonight doing one of those "get to know each other" exercises. I listen politely to this douchebag talk about where he's from with my usual general interest. When I say I'm from Council Bluffs, he says (and I shit you not) I heard Iowa girls are stupid.

Now what the fuck do think I'm SUPPOSED to do with this bit of fucking bigotry? I told him he was wrong to say it and should apologize. He gives me this "Well, that's what I heard. That's what I was told." The dude's from Pakistan, so he thinks there are fucking loopholes, apparently.

I told him, I've known a lot of Indians, would you like me to tell you what they have to say about Pakistanis? No, because it's irrelevant.

Fuckin' asshole. Even if that shit were true and Iowa DIDN'T set the educational standards for the US, my freakin' mother and sister are Iowa women. Little bigot.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Fuck nice

Apparently, I walk into a room like I own it.
This, according to some of my new computer
tech friends I've been training with. They are
all quite young, 18-22, in fact. I do well with
that demographic.

Here I go again making a new generation of
friends who think I'm cool, but who will likely
find some major personality flaw in me shortly
that they can despise. It's funny really, in that
not at all funny kind of way that guys like me
live on and on like some fat immortal meeting
new people who are a lot like other people I know.
Anyone who likes me usually doesn't do so right away.
They usually have to "figure out" after a few days or
couple of weeks that I am smarter than I look or
more expressive than they thought I'd be. Then I fuck
it up by getting annoyed with them or arguing about
some bullshit that doesn't matter.

In the end, I'm just not a very nice guy. I don't aspire to
being nice, because I don't see nice and good as the
same thing. I'm sure there were some very nice people
living near Dachau, but that didn't do anybody living IN
Dachau any good, did it?

Some of the worst fucking people I've ever known were
"nice." Matt the secret necrophiliac, Todd the poser fuck
and his mother the Indian hatin' bitch, Mrs. Smoley the
newspaper teacher who wanted me to find Jesus, but did
nothing when she heard I ran away from home ... except
make me stay after school to listen to her preach.

Because I have a low frustration threshold, I can't be teased
because I have issues from WAY back. I ultimately cannot trust
anyone who likes me because I hate myself and can't
possibly be wrong about that. Can I?

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Flying Nachos Movie

I worked on this movie script with two other dudes back in 2000. It's rough as fuck because basically the director was an incompetent A-hole who couldn't write for shit yet insisted on rewriting my dialogue even though ideas and dialogue were basically why I was brought on. It doesn't have a title, but I took to calling it "The Flying Nachos" movie after this one gag that should never have gotten into the movie but in fact made it all the way to production... where it failed miserably to work as planned.



anthony (v.o.)
So it's like this deserted little island, right?...

Image PANS slowly right to the face of ABE, mid 20s, and then past him and back into black.

anthony (v.o.)
...And there's these five people who just show up. All of a sudden one day, it's like they just vanish, you know?. And then they're here - on this island...


anthony (v.o.)
...They're from different places, different backgrounds. None of them know each other or how they ever got here - or why they're here, if there even is a reason...

Image PANS slowly right to the face of MARVIN, mid 20s, and then past him and back into black.

anthony (v.o.
...They can see this other land mass, shrouded in mist, way off in the distance, right? But it's so far away, there's no telling if it's the mainland or just another island...


anthony (v.o.)
...And nobody's got any clue how to get there, anyway. Of course, everybody has an idea. One guy who knows nothing about the sea wants to build a boat...

Image PANS slowly right to the face of JORDAN, late teens, and then past him and back into black.

anthony (v.o.)
...Some CPA thinks they should light a signal fire on the mountain with his glasses or something...


anthony (v.o.)
...Another one wants to hang-glide across, off this big rock. Hell, one of 'em even thinks they can swim across...

Image PANS slowly right to the face of DALE, mid 20s, and then past him and back into black.

anthony (v.o.)
...So there's all these ideas, but nobody really buys anybody else's and they won't cooperate. They're all getting a little cynical...


anthony (v.o.)
...And things start to break down, socially. The thing is, none of 'em's sure how to get across...

Image PANS slowly right to the face of HAYLEY, mid 20s, and then past her and back into black.

anthony (v.o.)
...And they don't really even know where they are. The only thing they have in common is, none of them's content to just sit on this island...


anthony (v.o.)
...So they all go off on their own, right? Eating fruit and hunting pigs, or whatever - they don't have a clue...

Image PANS more quickly now, back to the face of Abe, and then past him and back into black.

anthony (v.o.)
...They're working on these ideas they don't understand to get to some land they don't even know...

Image PANS quickly back to the face of Marvin, and then past him and back into black.

anthony (v.o.)
...There's no shortage of criticism or failure, and they don't really seem to be making any progress...

Image PANS quickly back to the face of Jordan, and then past him and back into black.

anthony (v.o.)
...No one's getting across, and now, no one's even getting along. Everybody thinks everybody else is out to get them...

Image PANS quickly back to the face of Dale, and then past him and back into black.

anthony (v.o.)
...And now they're even starting to doubt themselves. Then, just when they're about to give up...

Image PANS quickly back to the face of Hayley, and then past her and back into black.

anthony (v.o.)
...Just when it looks like they're never going to make it...

Image PANS very quickly past each of the five faces in succession, rapidly accelerating.

anthony (v.o.)
...Just when everything seems to be spiraling out of control...

Spiraling image has nearly become a blur, when it cuts to

int. basement - evening

A close-up of Anthony.

...Something happens.

He glances around for a response. He and four other guys - Abe along with WESLEY, STEVE and NICK - sit around a card table, which is littered with role playing books, maps and dice.

Why a desert island? I mean, it's so ... Gilligan. It throws me off.
I like it.
(cutting them off)
What do you mean "something happens?" What happens?
You know, they start to make it - gain a little ground. Maybe the boat guy learns how to seal his cracks or the beacon guy makes like, some primitive reflector or something. I'm not done yet.

Nick is clearly a little annoyed.

So, we gonna play or what? Kasob needs a new Sword of Wounding and Anthony's story ain't gonna get it done - no offense.
(ignoring Nick)
Okay, the thing is, do they make it or not?
Screw it, I'm rolling.

Nick goes on with the game as the conversation continues.

I don't know. I haven't really thought about it.
Could there be a mermaid in it? I mean, if they're on an island anyway...
That'd be kind of cool.

Anthony shrugs, looking quickly back at Steve.

I don't know, Tony. It's like, there's this bunch of losers who eventually graduate to mediocrity. Who cares?
Maybe they have to break down and start eating each other - like Alive, only with more action.
Okay, now that's just gross.
I don't know, man, it's just an idea. I gotta take a piss.

Anthony pushes away from the table and walks away as Nick continues rolling dice and checking charts.

(shaking his head)
I don't like it.
It's a start.
It's so Outer Limits.
(nodding, impressed)
No - I mean, it really is Outer Limits. I saw it last week on TNT. I think Robert Kulp was in it.
Really? Anthony just ripped it off?
Well, close enough. They crash-land on some distant planet, and they try all of the same stuff, only there's like aliens and volcanoes.
Well, so who cares if they get across the water? They're still stuck on another planet.
(rolling his eyes)
There's no island, dipshit. They're just on some planet. Anyway, they all end up dead.
Yeah, hack boy must have fallen asleep before the ending.

Nick shakes his head and rolls the dice again.

(not looking up)
Speaking of hack writers, when's your next poetry night there, Allen Ginsberg?

Nick smiles over at Abe, who just chuckles to himself and shakes his head.

It's tonight, and I'm more of a disciple of Walt Whitman. At least the crowd seems to think so. You guys should come out sometime. I think I'm starting to reach some people.

Wesley nods, impressed, while Nick goes back to the game.

People are gonna clap no matter what. Like pretend you really suck, you think anybody's gonna have the balls to boo you?

int. bistro - evening

A MAN sits with his date at a small table.

Get off the stage, you no-talent piece 'a crap!

The cafe is packed with critics, some booing a little, some laughing at their gutsy neighbors. Abe sits by himself on the stage, reading from a crumpled piece of notebook paper.

He tries to finish his awful poem over the growing chaos, doing his best to ignore the quiet criticism. After several lines, he moves his head quickly to avoid a flying platter of nachos.

Marvin sits at a table with ALEX and ZACH, both in their mid-20s.

(very upset)
Damn it, Zach, why'd you go and do that?
(pointing to the stage)
The guy really sucks, dude. He deserved it.
I don't care, man. I paid six bucks for those and I ate like three. You don't just go and throw somebody else's nachos.
I don't even know why we come to this fag show. Three-fifty pitchers of the Beast ain't worth this. I'd pay three-fifty to wait in the car.
How 'bout six bucks? Would you pay that, you nacho-stealing bastard?
Forget about the six bucks and the poetry and the nachos and everything else. Where we're headed, you can have all the nachos you want.
I hope you mean Mexico, dude, 'cuz the band ain't even getting us nachos. Not unless you booked us at Rey's Cantina again.
Fame and fortune. That's where we're going. We're the best rap-core band in Iowa, my friend. One break and we are Mahatma.
marvin & zach
Gandhi. Mahatma- never mind.
Fine, we're awesome. I'm just not ready to start counting our profits yet, you know what I mean? Six bucks is still a big deal.
How long you gonna be sore over the damn nachos?
You threw 'em like 10 seconds ago. I don't think I'm way out of line, yet.

Suddenly, their attention is diverted to the stage, where a MANAGER stands at the microphone.

Excuse me. Whoever threw the nachos can pack up your things and head toward the exit, because your evening is over.

int. zach's garage - night

Marvin, Alex and Zach are jamming in the dusty, poorly lit garage. They seem to have no skills. Marvin plays guitar, with Alex on bass and Zach on the drums.

All of a sudden, Alex stops playing and raises his arms.

That's it! I quit!

The "music" grinds to a halt.

What's up?
We sound like trash - like a garage band, which is exactly what we are.
(to Zach)
What the hell are you doing back there? You plan on singing tonight?
What's the point? You guys play so loud, you can't hear me anyway.
The mic will be here any day now. You still have to practice.
Who ever heard of a band where the drummer sang lead anyway?

Subtly, from the background, a gentle guitar riff is heard - soft and mellow, but pretty good. It gets slowly louder as the brothers argue.

I tell you every time we practice - I will sing lead.
But I wanna sing lead!
So what are you complaining about!?
I want to play the guitar.
Oh really!? So what? I'm supposed to play your kit?
That's cool with me.
Yeah, okay. That's a really good idea. Except - I can't play the fuckin' drums!
Yeah, like I'm Dave Grohl over here.

Finally, the background music becomes too much.

(spinning on Marvin)
What the hell are you doing!?
(looking up)
I'm practicing.
Well, if I hear Amy Grant needs a guitar player, I'll let you know. Maybe in the meantime, you could give hard-core a try.
I though we were rap-core.
Shut up.

Suddenly, they hear tires screeching in the driveway. They stop to listen as a car door slams. A second later, something thuds off of the garage door and they hear a voice outside.

jordan (o.s.)
You guys suck ass!

ext. zach's garage - same

The garage door is lifted, and the band members stand there staring out, angry expressions turning to confusion and pity. Marvin's eating some generic nachos.

Parked at an angle in the driveway is a rusted out old car, with Jordan standing outside the passenger door in an inspirational high school football T-shirt.

You guys suck.
Yeah, we got that part.
(staring offscreen)
What the hell is that? A Slurpee? You threw a Slurpee at my garage?
That's pretty rude, man.

Sure enough, a Slurpee lays near the edge of the driveway.

Jordan climbs back into the car, a little scared.

int. car - same

Jordan climbs in next to SAM, who's driving. CLIFF sits in the back seat. All three are similarly dressed, in jerseys and inspirational T-shirts from high school and all are late-teens to early-20s.

Let's rock 'n' roll!

Sam slams the car into "drive" and steps on the accelerator.

ext. zach's garage - same

Of course, in "drive," the car screeches forward, a few feet onto the lawn. The band members just stare at the pathetic sight.

While Sam negotiates a slow three-point turnaround, Zach picks up the Slurpee and heaves it at the car.

int. car - same

The car screeches out onto the street, the Slurpee in the middle of the windshield.

(smiling broadly)
Those guys sucked ass, dude.

Everybody's laughing, clearly pleased with their prank. Jordan trades a couple of high-fives as Sam switches on the wipers to lose the Slurpee. Unfortunately, it just makes a mess.

That pussy Zach used to play football back home, can you believe it? Big, stupid faggot.
Well, he is big and stupid.
And a faggot. So when did he play?
Well, he graduated just before our freshman year, so... the year before that, I guess.
I bet the pansy hasn't worked out in six years.
I been working out.
Oh yeah? You still beefing up? You still gonna play for the Bobcats?
Believe it, dude. I'm not gonna count on a scholarship, but I'll play.
You worked any of this out with the coach?
Not yet, but he'll give me a tryout. I got mad skills. If I keep hitting the weights like I been, he can't resist.

int. gym - day

Jordan's face shows amazing strain as he attempts to conquer the bench press. The camera pulls back to reveal very mediocre weights on each end.

He seems to be making no progress, but he doesn't have a spotter, so he just continues to struggle. When it becomes clear he won't be lifting it, he has to try to squirrel out from underneath.

Just as the bar hits the bench, his unclipped weights spill off one side and the unbalanced bar topples to the other with obvious commotion.

Jordan falls off the side of the bench and scampers to his feet, looking around nonchalant.

dale (o.s.)
What a sorry, pathetic...

The camera pulls back to reveal Dale, dressed in a camouflage T-shirt, watching the spectacle with his friend, CAMERON.

(shaking his head)
That loser wouldn't last 10 minutes in basic.

Cameron just smiles and shakes his head.

I'm serious. I've seen guys twice that tough crawl home like scared little schoolgirls.
But not you, right? Army snipers don't get scared?

Dale starts a set of dumbbell curls.

Don't call me that. I never said I was a sniper.
Oh yeah, I know. Jimmy just got confused. Sniper and Private almost rhyme.
I'm serious. I thought I could trust you guys when I told you about some of my assignments. But you blow everything out of proportion and you can't keep a secret.
You need to lighten up. So, are you gonna finally go out with us this weekend?
No, I gotta report to base by 0600 Saturday-
Come on, man. Every weekend. What's so important down there, anyway?
You know I can't tell you.
Yeah, right - classified. Gimme a break. We ain't been at war for like 30 years.
Well, if you really want to know, I'll tell ya.
Yeah, yeah, I know. And then you'll have to kill me.

ext. field - day

Close shot of Dale's face.

Listen up, because I am only going to say this once. When you ignore instructions, when you fail to work together as a team, when you're more interested in halftime oranges than in the triangle defense, you're not gonna win many games.

He's talking to a team of happy, young children, all seated nearby on the sideline of a soccer field.

Anyway, 12-4 ain't that bad. We're getting a little better each week and we'll win one soon.

A little hand shoots up near the back.

Every five minutes, Erin.

The team laughs and ERIN just tilts her head at him, her hand still raised.

What is it?
Mister Private Grady?
That's me.
(smiling broadly)
Marcy thinks you're cute.

MARCY, next to Erin, buries her blushing face in her arms as the crowd sounds a collective "Oooooh!"

Well, to tell you the truth, I think Marcy's very cute, too. But right now, it's time to get your gear and get your sodas and go-

Suddenly, MAJOR HAWKINS walks in from the side, smiling.

You're good with the kids there, ain't ya Grady? You know though, youngsters, what he's better with?

Dale cringes in the background as the children ask a collective "What?"

Latrines. After Private Grady here shines up the urinals, they look so much like mirrors, I feel like I'm whizzin' on myself.

ext. bleachers - same

Hayley sits in the bleachers with DONNA and several other parents, watching through a window and waiting for the class to end.

He's so good to those kids.
God no. Hawkins is a pinhead. No, I mean Dale. He seems like a good kid.
Oh yeah, he's a sweetheart. I just hope he doesn't imitate the Major too much.
Hey - I was gonna ask you. I got a pair of tickets for the ballet next weekend and I wanted to give you first shot.
I don't know, Hayley. It doesn't really appeal to me too much. The first time you're up there, though, I promise I'll be front and center.
Well, that might be a little while. My last three auditions haven't exactly been stellar.
(Donna frowns)
It was all the last guy could do to not laugh at me. It's like all they want anymore are middle aged women who look like eight-year old boys.
It'll work out for you. Just stick with it.
Well, I split my evenings and weekends between Erin and dancing, but I don't really feel like it's going anywhere.

The children begin to stream out of the rec room.

Just hang in there.

Hayley just smiles, kind of sad, as Erin walks up to her.

(all smiles)
Hi Mommy!
Hi there, sweetie. Did you have fun?
Yeah! We lost by eight. And I told General Hawkins that you said he sleeps with boys.

int. dressing room - night

A door is flung open and MONTANA enters, heavily made-up and wearing little more than a robe. She stares off-screen, a little confused.

Are you out of here already?

Hayley stands by a mirror, tucking in her shirt and adjusting her makeup.

Yeah, it's Erin's birthday tonight, so I have to take off.

Montana rounds a corner to change clothes, off-screen.

Well, that's pretty lucky. You get to entertain the quiet evening crowd and then bail before the real sleaze starts showing up.
(cringing a little)
Sorry about that.
montana (o.s.)
Don't worry about it. There's enough girls tonight - nobody'll have to double up.

int. strip club - same

Hayley makes her way through a side door and heads toward the bar. Wesley, seated near the front, grabs her arm as she passes.

Hey there. You got a phone number?
(pulling away)
I don't think so.

She continues toward the front, as Wesley turns to Abe, seated at the same table.

Her loss, am I right?
I don't really know, Wes. I mean, I'm sure you're a great piece of ass and stuff, but...
Well, to tell you the truth, I'm probably not that great.
Anyway, I checked out that book Nick recommended. Hopefully, the real Walt Whitman can teach me a thing or two.
That's great, Abe. Maybe I can teach you a thing or two myself, if you know what I mean.
I don't really know what you mean. But anyway, fine, teach me whatever. I gotta take off, though. I want to read some of this and work on my stuff for tomorrow.

Wesley tries to flag down a waitress, not really paying attention.

That's great, buddy. Then you can make some more poems and whatever.
Yup, I guess so.
(noting the lack of attention)
Unless, of course, the damn Commies show up.
Yeah, you always gotta be ready for the Commies.
(toward the bar)
Hey! Can we get another pitcher over here!?

int. bistro - night

The crowd sits silently, staring up at the bar. They're not captivated, but they're also not booing.

Abe is in the middle of his poetry reading. Somehow tonight, he seems surprisingly mediocre. There are no vocal critics in the house.

When he gets finished, the silence remains and a couple of people in the back even offer some mild, disinterested clapping.

Abe's face lights up like Christmas.


Credits roll over a montage of images and are scored by music strikingly similar to the riff played earlier by Marvin.

Jordan works out in a gym with some small dumbbells and flexes his meek physique in a mirror.

Dale plays some softball with his class of third grade cadets.

Hayley takes some ballet lessons with a group of elementary age girls, including her daughter, Erin.

The last image is a sync-sound cut of Marvin, as he plays and sings the closing music.



kim (o.s.)
Hey, it's Abe, right?

Abe steps into the black frame, which turns out to be a close exterior shot of the bistro. KIM stands nearby, mid-20s.

Yeah. That's me.
Well, I uh, I thought your poetry was pretty decent tonight.
Oh yeah? It spoke to you?
It was okay.

They walk into the distance, chatting.

The camera pans to the right to watch them leave, but continues panning, until the image of Anthony, the cameraman, shows up in reflection in the bistro's front window.


Amber Alert!

On Aug. 10, me old Daily buddy and fellow editor Amber Billings will travel from Augusta, Ga., where she is a copy editor for the local newspaper, to Phoenix, Ariz., to donate her left kidney to her 30-year-old cousin, Jeanneanne "Annie" Roberts, who is dying. Annie, who lives in Yuma, Ariz./born in DSM, was born with spina bifida occulata, neurogenic bladder and chronic kidney failure. Her family was told she would eventually need a kidney transplant and now that time has come. Amber will give her kidney to Annie during surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona. The cost of the surgery and medicine is covered by Annie's insurance but Amber's transportation, lodging and lost wages due to the surgery are not covered.

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the National Transplant Assistance Fund in Annie's honor to help cover Amber's expenses and lost wages. Any amount, no matter how small, will be greatly appreciated. Send donations to:

3475 West Chester Pike, Suite 230
Newtown Square, PA 19073
Please write in the memo line: In honor of Jeanneanne Roberts
Make checks payable to: NTAF SW Kidney Transplant Fund

More information: www.transplantfund.org

All donations sent to NTAF in Annie's honor will go directly to Amber and Annie.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

War of the What the Fucks?!

I was talking about the new War of the Worlds movie
with a few people at work tonight. Several of them ...
SEVERAL, mind you ... threw their hands over their
ears and said "Don't tell me how it ends!"

Considering that this movie is based on a famous movie
that came out in the 50s and an infamous radio play
that aired in the 30s and a classic story by HG Wells
in 1898, I figure the average person should FREAKIN'
KNOW that the aliens in war of he world die at the end
of the movie!

Why the fuck is this a big secret to ANYONE? I'm not
the most literate guy in the world. It's not like I've
read everything under the sun. In fact, I'VE never
read the story or listened to the radio broadcast OR
sat through the entire 50s flick, but somehow SOMEHOW
I know that the aliens die at the end of War of the


I dunno, man, maybe there is something about being
alive and paying attention to the trivia around us
that pays off in tiny ways. I've caught the ending to
many movies so I probably caught that one.

Here are some other spoilers in case anyone makes
movies from these stories:

In the Bible, Jesus dies, but then he comes back.
In Hamlet, everyone dies at the end.
In the Devil and Daniel Webster, Webster outsmarts the
In Humpty Dumpty, all the king's horses and all the
king's men could NOT put Humpty together again. I
repeat they could NOT do it.
In Sleeping Beauty, the prince kisses her and she
wakes up.
In Curious George, the monkey goes to live with the
man in the yellow hat.
In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Willie Wonka
actually GIVES Charlie the factory!

Hope I didn't ruin anything.