Monday, November 19, 2007

God Bless the Damned Children


Sitting in Borders. Fleshing out a new screenplay. A horror movie about forgotten evil crawling from the earth. Released by greed and ignorance. A new dark age for mankind.

There’s a kid across from me. Looks about 16. Black shoes. Black pants. Black shirt. Black trench coat lying over a chair.

He seems like prospective audience for the movie I’m writing.

He’s reading intently. So intently, his eyes seem determined to burn holes through the pages.

I strain to see the title of his book. What do 16-year-old kids who dress in black read while sitting in Borders? If I'm writing a horror movie, I want to know what this young man is reading, because maybe it's what I should be writing.

And not just reading, but reading on Sunday. That’s what day it is. This young fellow could be surfing or playing video games. He could be smoking a doob on the railroad tracks. He could be masturbating to internet porn.

We didn’t have internet porn when I was a kid. The search for porn was like an Arthurian quest.

But this fine young gentleman is in Borders reading.

Reading hardcore. Moving his lips as he scans the pages.

Let me guess. Manga? That's what the young folks like nowadays. I learn forward, cock my head to the side, squint my eyes.

He's reading the Satanic Bible.


Pay attention, Hollywood. The Satanic Bible is your next feature. Starring Ed Norton as Satan and Scarlett Johansen as his nude living altar.

Heck, I didn’t even know that Satanic Bible book was still around.

I remember when I was his age. I dressed in black and read that book too.

Well, not quite read it. More like flipped through and went, eh?

I study the young man in detail. His face is acned. His mouth has no visible teeth. He could be from the fish race people in a Lovecraft story.

I wonder if his appearance has any correlation with his literary choices.

Yep. It’s good to know your audience.

About 30 minutes after writing this piece, a strange yet in retrospect completely predictable thing occurred. The young reader was confronted by a freshly-churched Christian, and for the next hour went round and round with her on topics of salvation, damnation, reincarnation, and the utter hypocrasy of the Bible.

Besides learning that the young man was most definitely going to hell for reading that book, I also learned that he was actually 23 years old and in the military.

Go figure...

Monday, November 12, 2007

How to Support Writers During Strike


The writers strike is on. Despite being a combination of two of my favorite things, writing and fighting the man, I wish there was no strike. It's going to cause a lot of hardship for current writers and make things even harder for younger ones trying to break in by ways other than scabbing.

There's a lot of long-winded articles out there on the nitty gritty of what is happening. For those who want to cut to the chase, it's simple. The internet is going to be huge business for Hollywood and the writers want a piece of it.

I think it's completely reasonable that that writers get a chunk of internet profits and refuse to participate in the system if they don't. Writers create the stories and characters that propel the entire Hollywood ship of state forward, while at the same time suffer being rewritten, second guessed by over-caffeinated marketing chicks, and generally humiliated by uncreative, crass capitalist, coke addled idiots at each step of the production process.

Writers deserve to be compensated for not only thinking of the clever shit that keeps these moguls and their minions knee deep in drugs and whores, but for coping with their script-skimming bullshit every step of the way.

Here's some information from a WGA friend of mine on how you can help, even if you're not in the Writer's Guild:

There are tons of things you can do to help...

Picket with us at any studio, M-Th, either shift: 9AM - 1PM or 1PM -

You can volunteer to answer phones and make calls from WGA
headquarters (same shifts as above, plus a 5 - 9 PM shift if your
evenings are free).

Monday they need volunteers to assemble signs.

6 PM each night at the WGA is van unloading and reloading.

Write letters or make calls to networks, movie studios, and the
companies that own them (ie: Viacom,General Electric, Sony, Disney,
etc.) saying they are losing their business because you do not support
companies that treat the greatest andmost creative minds of their
companies with such utter lack of respect and decency. A current deal
on the table insists the studios should get to dicide when they pay us
for running shows or films in their entirety without paying the
writer, claiming it's only "promotional", even if they are being paid
to air it, surrounded by paid advertising and commercials. It's
ridiculous. They have shown no interest in making a fair deal at all.

Sell any stock you have in said companies... And let it be known why.

...SO much you could do. Thanks for ANYTHING you do. Every little
bit counts!!! Tell all your friends!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Into the Wild


One of my peasants saw Into the Wild the other day and reported thus:

Finally! A movie that deals with real themes and people and shows us places that really exist that we have never seen before. A movie not about James Bond with amnesia. A movie not about cops fed up with the justice system and going on killing sprees. A movie not designed to sell toys, Happy meals, and other consumer crap.

Into the Wild is about as far as you can get from a Hollywood movie while still being anchored in production value, the English language, and comprehensible storytelling technique. It reminded me a lot of 70s road movies like Easy Rider and Two Lane Blacktop -- movies allowed to meander, explore, and contemplate nothing less than existence itself.

Unfortunately, I don't think many people are buying tickets to see the dang thing. That's too bad, because this is a beautiful movie to immerse oneself in, with spectacular location photography in wild and unusual locations, not to mention seldom seen ones like L.A.'s skid row.

Go to a theater to see skid row? Yeah, I know, kind of a strange notion. But I'm tired of seeing Santa Monica Pier in every other movie made. Fuck the Westside. Fuck New York. Show us Vince Vaughn on a combine and Catherine Keener in a Winnebago.

Despite not being good box office, my prediction is that quite a few people will still end up seeing this movie, since it's going to get a ton of Oscar nominations. If it doesn't, then Pluto is going to crash into the earth tomorrow. Ironically, when people see this movie it will be from the comfort of their living rooms, the very thing Wild's anti-hero Christopher McCandless leaves behind in his search for truth, beauty, and a quiet place to read. What irony, in fact, that McCandless' story of existential escapism and anti-consumerism was made into a movie.

Good source material helps, and John Krakaeur's original book is truly an original, giving the McCandless story an historical context. His description of 9th Century Christian monks that got fed up with Iceland for becoming too crowded and therefore rowing off to Greenland is priceless.