Monday, October 30, 2006

Later I'll pee in your coffee.

Today I had to pretend to like people. It's the first day of a new semester and I have a new senior English class. In it is a boy we'll call Jose because there's always a Jose. Jose used to date Mayra. They had a baby together, they were voted cutest couple in the school, they were never apart and always held hands in the hallway. Right after Jose lovingly supported the birth of his first child, he dumped Mayra for a little bottle blonde chippie. Mayra was in my class last semester, so I've grown to hate this boy.

Then today the boy and his chippie show up in my class and struggle to keep their hands off each other. And I have to pretend this doesn't bother me because I'm not supposed to take sides. Half of teaching is acting.

The teacher who was leaving my classroom wanted to take my books. I offered her a deal to trade one set of books for another and she didn't want to make that deal so I didn't let her have my books. We had to have this fight in front of two classes worth of students so it was a polite, smiley argument where we worded everything as if we were really just looking out for everybody's best interest when really we were punching each other in the face psychically.

I wonder how often in a given day people do that. Fake niceness. They don't do it enough in scripts. People say what they mean far too often in stories, when it's what we don't say that both tells the story and provides better conflict. The whole class knew that other teacher and I didn't like each other. I think they were disappointed that we didn't get into a fist fight, but that would have made it a different story. My day is usually a comedy, not an action pic.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Stay away from the Jello.

Raise your hand if you were hung over Sunday. Yep.

Every Halloween I'm the same thing: Buffy. I love Buffy. Being Buffy makes me feel badass. I even have a sharp wooden stake a shop teacher made me one year, which very nearly got me in trouble with the cops in Chapel Hill, but we don't need to go into that. The point is, this year I wanted something different but still heroic. I was gonna be the invincible cheerleader from Heroes.

I shouldn't have waited until Saturday to shop for the outfit. The costume place was packed with people but short on cheerleader costumes. I found something close to what I was looking for in a child's size.

So I wore this:

Not exactly heroic, but very comfortable, even when I puked in the bushes. Unfortunately I'll probably have a scar from where I backed into the outdoor heater with my exposed calf.

I'd like to publicly thank the rugby players who helped me to the car. I know I was proclaiming my ability to walk on my own, but I was lying. Thanks fellas. I wish I knew who you were or remembered what you looked like.

And thanks to my girl for magically getting me into my pajamas. It was nice to wake up with pants on.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Why I love actors

I love actors. I know that's not the popular theory because everybody thinks of actors as dramatic premadonnas who demand too much and give too little, but I love 'em. Most of my LA friends are actors. Maybe I still love them because none of them have blown up yet. A couple of them are about to, so I'll probably be able to start hating them when that happens.

Actors are passionate people. They have to be able to call up their emotions at the drop of a hat and I respect that. It's easy when I'm in my office staring at a computer screen with mood music playing and nobody else around, but surrounded by a camera crew and preparing to share your performance with the world? No way.

I can write the words all day long, but without someone talented to read them, nobody will ever know what I have to say. We should love them for that alone.

I don't know how they find me, but they do. And they all want me to write them the Oscar-winning part even though I keep explaining to them that I write TV and that nobody pays me yet. "Yeah, but when you do make it," they tell me, "I'll audition for that part I like." Actors are so optimistic. They have to be. There are thirty thousand of them competing for one part, but they have to be convinced they'll get it or they would give up and go home. Their optimism rubs off. Hell, all their emotions rub off. That's why they're actors.

The men all want Brad Pitt's career. They also want to have his body in Fight Club. I don't know what the women want, but I think I'll start asking. If you ask what kind of role they prefer, it's almost always the villain. Actors love playing villains because it's more of a stretch. It allows you to do things you'd never do in daily life because your conscience won't let you.

I should be a casting agency. You name it, I got it. Need a spunky Indian princess? Got one. Need a hot, tall, Germanic blond hero? An all-American boy next door? A dark, disturbed musician with the sexiest voice you've ever heard? A funky gay best friend? Got all those and more. And they're all fabulous.

Well, all except that one guy. I don't know what his problem is.

The best part about having a harem of actors as some of your best friends? In a few weeks I'm going to pay them pizza and beer to do a table read of my spec pilot. And that will be very cool.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

How I spent my weekend, part three


Arrival at 7:15 during Volunteer Coordinator's big speech about how important that book for the room is and why we shouldn't lose it. As people dispersed to their various locations I grabbed a donut and a walkie-talkie and got to work.

Sunday was easier than Saturday. No Pixar, for one thing. Plus, classes ended a lot earlier in the day and we had enough volunteers to go around. I spent most of the day in a chair in command central, answering phones and solving problems as they filtered in while VC handled the big stuff.

Biggest problem of the day: Tim Minear's A/V stuff was not set up or working or something. All I know is there was a thing with a white board and a projector and the A/V guys were all over it for a long time. There was some frantic radio traffic for half an hour. Tim Minear was so cool about everything. His assistant was all over it so he could relax and teach his class. He even came back an hour before his second session so he could spend more time discussing story ideas. People followed him out of the room before lunch like little baby ducklings and he just trucked along, happily answering questions. A swell guy.

Ran a lunch room again. If you were up in the Meridian room I stamped your hand. A smiley face. We ended up with well over 100 boxed lunches left over, so a crew of us
broke down the boxes and pulled out apples, cookies and chips to feed to the hungry crowd at the closing ceremonies. We felt really bad throwing out the sandwiches, but nobody had enough energy to go find homeless people to feed.

Sat at the computer taking back the books and checking people out. We got every single book back. We did have a few speaker noshows, but one of those was a guy who showed up one minute after his students all left and two of them had cancelled a week earlier but it never made it down the pipeline.

The volunteers did a good job. I definitely made new friends, which was my main purpose in going to the Expo anyway.

Most of the volunteers went to help clean up the ballroom when all was over but I stayed in the volunteer room chatting up VC's cousin, who, as it turns out, grew up where I went to college.

As people filtered out one after the other, all that remained was A/V guy, VC and VC's cousin, three guys who have known each other for a while and were working this thing for four days. Then there was me, the new kid, the interloper. But they included me when making plans for next year, and I appreciated that. I am so down for doing it again. Probably because I enjoy the power. I had people under me.

It was like summer camp as we were all leaving. Hugs and business cards flying freely around the room. I had no business cards so I wrote all my info on leftover name tags. The Expo taught me that I need business cards.

I passed by the bar where the scribosphere meet-up was taking place but I was so worn out from two days of constant running around that I just wanted to go home and sleep. I wish I'd have at least stopped in to say hi, but I was afraid if I did that I wouldn't leave because I know how I am about conversations and meeting people. I had to be at work the next morning at 7:15.

As it turns out, they accidentally held over my sub so I didn't have to be at work at all yesterday. I wish I'd have known that before I showed up on time.

So that's the Expo. Look for me next year. I'm the little blond with the walkie-talkie and the loud Southern accent.

Monday, October 23, 2006

How I spent my weekend, part two

First off, let me establish that this post will teach you nothing about screenwriting. This is all about the visceral experience of running around next to the guy who's next to the guy who runs the show. If you want the vicarious Expo educational experience, check out Maggie's posts. Hers are far more filled with useful information. I am filled with something else entirely.

That said, I give you...


There weren't enough volunteers Saturday as some people neglected to show up. So while there were supposed to be two or three "break roamers", people who run around to give the volunteers the occasional bathroom break or to disseminate information, instead there was just me.

So I'm thinking, break roamer. Okay. I'll get to sit in on classes in snippets as I casually go from room to room all day.

Hell no.

So this is how I ended up with a walkie-talkie and an attitude, unintentionally making people think I worked for the magazine.

Let me tell you something about Volunteer Coordinator (VC). For some reason he doesn't want credit for anything so I'm not going to say his name, but I can't let his contribution go unnoticed. Without VC the building would have imploded. Chaos would have erupted, dogs and cats would be permanently cohabitating, there'd have been anarchy. There were complaints all day long about the crowded rooms, the temperature, the parking, the food, the building layout, the cost, a million other things that weren't under VC's control. Not once did I hear this man raise his voice to anyone. Even when he was confronted with thirty people shouting his name and tugging on his sleeve, he dealt with every single one of them fairly and honestly and without malice, and he did it all for a paltry sum. He's a truly decent human being and anybody who was there owes him more than you realize. I feel lucky to have been his sidekick.

The Pixar thing was packed to ridiculous proportions as the line of people overflowed out the door and around a piece of the building. Fortunately, the planners had called for overflow rooms all over the building. Unfortunately, the audio feed was absolute shit. That kept pretty busy the A/V guys and girl, who were very cool, hard-working people who never stopped going all day. I didn't hear much of the Pixar presentation, but I understand it went pretty well. I occasionally went by a room and heard the audio and they were doing a bunch of stuff about Toy Story. I have no idea what else they did because I was racing pell-mell from one place to the other bringing people water and information, answering questions and generally handling whatever minor irritations seemed to keep buzzing their way into the volunteer room.

Eventually I got a walkie-talkie. People look at you differently when you have a walkie-talkie. Ever want instant respect? Put one of those on your waist band. Ever want to be hated? Make sure you have the volume way up when you open the creaky door and walk into a postage stamp sized classroom to look around while the teacher is revealing the secrets of the universe.

There were three main areas where lunch boxes were distributed, so I was put in charge of one of them. If you bought a Gold Pass or a lunch ticket you got a box and permission to see the speaker. If you didn't pay ahead of time, you were on your own. No speaker for you.

There was no speaker in the room where I was, but it said there was on everybody's ticket. So I told the people in line that they could get their food but the speaker, Michael Arndt, would be in another room and simulcast just like the Pixar stuff. People grumbled but accomodated.

Then another volunteer came up and told me the speaker would in fact be in the room. I announced that to all the people in the line and they happily got their lunches and sat down.

Then VC came up and told me the speaker would be in another room and simulcast and there would be nothing going on in the room where I was. So I announced that to the room. For some reason, they didn't pelt me with their veggie sandwiches. Some even thanked me for being so quick with the information. I must have some kind of charming voodoo I didn't know about.

I believe this was about the time the people got stuck in the elevator. There were firemen. It was funny, though probably not for the people who were in there. Everybody was a little afraid to go to the 18th floor after that, especially when the A/V guys almost got stuck in it again.

After lunch is a blur to me. I don't remember it, just that I was really tired later and collapsed on the floor in a heap. Somewhere in cyberspace there is a picture of me laying in a chair, a thousand-yard-stare planted on my face, my mouth wide open and possibly drooling.

I ate three large cookies, a turkey sandwich with brussel sprouts and drank about fifty-seven Pepsis during the day. My stomach hates me.

Friday and Saturday we shared the Marriott with Concord Law School. That was a big pain in the ass and we wouldn't have had nearly as many problems or all those tiny rooms had we not had to give up rooms to the law school. But just before Pixar let out the 900 or so people watching the post-lunch presentation, a 50-year class reunion began in the hallway. Fortunately they moved into a ballroom just before the presentation ended, but for half an hour they blocked the only route of escape from the ballroom floor. Several of us were trying to figure out how we could steal some of their drinks from the bar. We did not succeed.

Then there was the networking party. You had to buy tickets to that, but the party started early and we were tired, so I'm sure we missed some people. If you got free artichoke pizza, bully for you. Drinks were still at least $5.50.

Some of the volunteers got together and played "two truths and a lie." That's how I learned that I suck at that game. I got every single one wrong. That's at least 20 times I fell for a lie. People were purposely guessing against me. Then I got one right just as the bar closed, and that was the signal that it was time to go. The bar closed at 11. Why did the bar close at 11? I don't know.

I had so much fun and met such cool people I volunteered to do it again Sunday. Or maybe I just hate myself.

By the way, a bunch of people have been asking why the Expo wasn't held at the Convention Center this year. The answer is simply that it was all booked-up in advance. According to the guy in charge of A/V, who busted his ass this weekend for minimal thank-yous, the Convention Center isn't that great a prize anyway. Perhaps if we hadn't been sharing the Marriott with a law school and the geriatric crew, people would be complaining a lot less.

Tomorrow, SUNDAY.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

How I spent my weekend, part one

Whew. I can breathe again.

Friday at the Expo I met Maggie, who is pretty damn delightful and somehow recognized me as I was meandering by at lunch. I saw David Ayer and learned a thing or two, sat in on Joel's informative and cheerful lecture and introduced myself, then watched Harlan Ellison interview Ron Moore in one of the more hilarious conversations ever to be set on a stage in front of hungry screenwriters. They mostly talked about Harlan's book and why we should all buy it. But it was informative too, not because Moore talked about how to break in, but because he talked about crafting a series and how he made the creative decisions he eventually had to live with. The reason? Exactly what you thought: Ron Moore has big brass balls.

Saturday I volunteered. Last year I worked the big room with the keynote speakers and I liked it, so I figured I'd do that again this year. Either way I didn't want to be stuck in a classroom all day. Those of you who were there know about the California rooms. For those of you who weren't, let me explain. Half the rooms at the Marriott that were reserved for the Expo were the size of the head (as in bathroom, for those nautically challenged) on a Russian nuclear submarine, and most of them filled up with people spilling out into the hallway as the air got thicker and thicker with the odor of screenwriter B.O. I did not want to get trapped in there all day, and when you volunteer that's what happens: You get stuck in one room all day. The upside is you get to sit in on all the classes and take notes, and all you have to do is take tickets whenever somebody comes in. The downside is, you get stuck in a classroom all day.

I don't sit still. I spend all day in my job on my feet talking. The truth is, teachers make the worst students. We're used to running things, not kicking back and watching.

So I had to have the Marquis room with the Pixar people. I set my alarm for 4:45 a.m. to make sure I had enough time to hit the snooze and be out of the apartment by 6:00 to get to the volunteer room as the first in line like last year. My alarm never went off because I forgot to switch it over to the weekend setting. So I woke up at 6:15, cursing.

I got in the car at 6:30 and raced down Western to hit the 10 West. Ramp closed. I took the 10 East to Normandy. Ramp closed. I guessed Vermont must be closed too so I trucked it south down Normandy, really hoping I could figure it out from there. I did, but I ended up as one of the last ones in the room. No Pixar for me.

This is where I begin to believe in fate. There were about five people left and only tiny, submarine bathroom rooms left and Volunteer Coordinator turned to me. "Do you need an errand runner?" I said.

Thus begins my weekend of adventure.

To be continued tomorrow.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Expo day one ramblings

I'm here. And I'm wondering how many of you have walked by me while I sit here during the long lunch break across from the bathroom, noodling around on my laptop. Some guy just walked by an applauded the fact that I'm actually writing. I'm not sure this counts.

That guy would be cute if he hadn't pinned his Expo catalogue to his chest with his backpack strap. Dude, that is so nerdy.

This is a nice location. It's a lot quieter than last year. If you don't come until Friday you may have trouble finding it; it's downstairs in the Marriott. It took me a while to find it, but at least I parked for free, and you'll have to torture me before I tell you where because you are not taking my spot.

I spent an hour in traffic on the 10. I had to pee the whole time. You know that Simpson's episode where Grandpa's bladder ruptured while they drove past several bathrooms and the world's largest toilet? That was almost me. Thank God for Burger King.

My feet stink. If you walked by me just now and smelled them I apologize. My shoes were in my gym bag for three days with little to no ventilation.

Lunch was lonely. I ate a Von's sandwich and grapes and I forgot my Ipod. So I sat and read Seven Seasons of Buffy.

Interesting talks so far. There's not much going on, but there are a few interesting speakers. I'm surprised by how many people are here today. The main speaker room is like three degrees, so bring a sweater, and I can't find a water fountain, so bring money.

The volunteer coordinator remembered me from last year. I must be more obnoxious than I thought. I just wish I could find the two friends I made. I keep thinking I see them, but I'm hallucinating.

If I had a digital camera I would take pictures. Man, we are a dorky looking people. There's a dude staring at me. Either he thinks I'm hot, thinks he knows me, or is disgusted by the odor of my feet. It's probably the feet. Jesus, they smell bad. Maybe I should put my shoes back on.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Teaching rant #3

Our college prep counselor is a lunatic. She once grabbed a friend of mine's package and she took a picture of herself holding up her arm and smiling as her submission for a TB test thinking she could just send that in, and she did it right in the middle of a seminar. Then she asked my friend if she could pay him for sex. Today she decided the entire school should take the PSAT.

Sophomores and select Juniors will be taking it. Freshmen and Seniors will take the practice PSAT (that's right - the practice practice test). Our kids aren't eaxctly the best behaved students in the world. Also, they're in homeroom for this, which is not a really structured classroom to begin with. So I'm in homeroom for three hours with 30 freshmen trying to force them to take a test they know doesn't count for anything.

I spent the first half hour struggling to get them to be quiet and pay attention to the test with no results. So I gave up. I really hate homeroom. There's no set curriculum but we're still expected to teach them something. I don't have a classroom, but for some reason the guy who's room I'm in has no homeroom while I have to travel here to babysit these freshmen. It's completely stupid, and so is this ingenious plan to make every kid in the school take a practice practice college entrance exam.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Goodbye, Fred

This has been going around the blogosphere. Good question. One well worth weighing in on. What is your favorite all-time TV scene?

So many possiblities. So many great show, so many great scenes. But one that I love above all others?

In season five of Angel, Fred - sweet, innocent, surviving Fred - is consumed by the amoral ancient demon Illyria in the episode "A Hole in the World". I adore Illyria. She wants to keep Spike as her pet and she analyzed a petri dish by putting it in her mouth. But in order to bring on the awesomeness of the big blue meanie, Fred had to die. I can watch that scene over and over and I will collapse into hysterical weeping every time.

Everybody loves Fred. The love of her is strong enough to send Angel and Spike across the world, working together to save her. Gunn tears through employees of Wolfram and Heart looking for the culprit who caused the tragedy. Lorne is helpless, so he drinks away his sorrow in the bar. And Wesley holds her, reads her The Little Princess and watches her die in his arms. It's not just that we're sad to lose the only member of the team who'd never committed any sins, but it's the loss of those left behind that we really feel. Wesley's grief is almost unbearable. He waited for years before he finally won the girl, and now that he just got her she's leaving forever to be replaced with a demon that will follow him around in her body. All of these boys love her, so we love her, and we don't want her to go. And then there's her last words: "Why can't I stay?" as she trembles and fades into oblivion. The one person who didn't deserve it is the one person they take. The definition of tragedy.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

What could be worse?

My school, for all its violence and disfunction, has some really cool features. One of those is the presence of the culinary class, which every Wednesday and Thursday serves a three-course meal to teachers for five bucks each in a room set up as a restaraunt. Last week they served a Fall menu - Cornish game hen and stuffing, apple streudel and salad. I know. You'd be more willing to put up with kids throwing things at your head too if you could have Cornish game hen for five bucks two days a week.

As we were chowing down a teacher complained that the stuffing was underseasoned. "There's nothing worse than bland stuffing," she said. I stared pensively into space for a second and said, "Raping Clowns."*

Everybody at the table looked up at me, puzzled.

"You know," I said. "Clowns that rape. You said there was nothing worse than bland stuffing. I was just throwing that out there."

The other teachers at the table did indeed agree that raping clowns are worse than bland stuffing. It made them bitch a lot less about lunch after that.

"You're such a writer," said the original teacher as she yanked a piece of hen from the bone and shoved it in her mouth.

That got me thinking: that sounds like a challenge to me. So here it is, everybody. What else is worse than bland stuffing? Go.

*I deny any and all similarities to Rape Bear. I find clowns much more frightening and came up with the idea of a raping clown entirely on my own. Please don't sue.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday night's all right for typing.

This is not the post I teased. We did have a poetry slam and the kids did impress the hell out of me with their poems, and I don't have any pictures because after I took them a student stole the yearbook camera which pissed me off so much I really don't want to talk about it.

So I'll talk about my scrapped plans for tonight.

I bought tickets to the premier of Hard Scrambled tonight, just assuming I'd find somebody to go with me. I was excited about the idea of meeting Beth Grant, who was probably going to be there, because she and I are on a path. She's from my home state and she went to my university 30 years before I did and she was in some of my mom's acting classes and she's friends with a Friend From Work. Friend keeps trying to find ways to introduce me to her with no results. Finally I was going to go to this movie and introduce myself. Then it rained.

I drive a Jeep Wrangler. I know, I'm enormously cool. But the problem with Wranglers is that when the roof is down it takes five Personal Trainers and a physicist to put the damn thing back up. I've asked some of my stronger male friends but they are incredibly lame. Seriously, I don't care about your pinched nerve or your hangover. I'm trying to stay warm in the morning while I drive to work. I'm planning on hitting Personal Trainer up with a cute girlie plea on Tuesday so maybe he'll get his buddies to help. Anyway, my roof is still down and it's raining. And nobody will come pick me up, even for a free movie ticket. Plus I don't have cash to pay for parking. So I scrapped the movie. Beth Grant and I will have to get aquainted some other day.

Since I had to eat $20 on the tickets I decided to make my night worth the loss. I'm not going to lose enough money to buy a meal at Chili's just to sit and watch this week's episode of The Nine. So I busted out my laptop and started typing. And I just finished the first draft. Forty-six pages of awesomeness. I can't remember the last time I felt this thrilled about a first draft. All I need is some baseball jargon I'm waiting for a friend to help me with as soon as he gets off the girl he's nailing. Then I'll have to not touch it for a week even though I'll constantly wake up in the middle of the night with a desperate need to change "looks disgusted" to "cringes". I must resist. I won't touch it until I haven't seen it for a week. Then I'll do edit number one and send it off to two of my friends (Get ready, Mark. Here she comes.)

Oh yeah. I'm stoked. If I pretend the camera thing didn't happen, this has been an awesome week. Well worth losing $20. Still wish I didn't have to miss Beth Grant, though. But whatever. I've got a spec pilot. Jane Espenson would be proud.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Sign in, please.

Okay, so I'm averaging a pretty good regular readership now, but many of you still haven't ever said anything. So it's time for the intros. Say hi. Who are you and what are you all about?

Tomorrow I'll post about my junior class' poetry slam. There will be pictures.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Time for the Expo

I got my official notice last night that I'll be volunteering Saturday. I'll probably be in the big room with the keynote speakers, so come look for me. If you see a volunteer who looks like me and has my name, that's probably me, so say hi. I might be doing cartwheels. I'll definitely be yelling at people.

Monday, October 09, 2006

I love LA

My next door Neighbors are both actors with lots of actor friends. We go in and out of each others' apartments at will, just like in the dorms. Today when I got home I saw that Boy Neighbor had been in my place watching TV and picked up a script I'd left for him to read, so I went next door to see if he'd had a chance to look at it yet and to ask why the hell he didn't close my door when he left.

I issued a cursory quiet knock and opened the door. They were filming a movie. The Sound Guy, a friend, flashed me a dirty look as I pulled the door to a close.

Share my joy.

This was an exciting morning for me. I finished my skeletal draft.

I never start typing anything until I've index carded the whole script. I color code the cards and place them neatly on the bulletin board I've attached to the wall in my office at home. Then I forget all about the index cards and type. The only time I look at them is when I'm stumped, which fortunately isn't that often because I just skip over the parts that throw me. But the cards mainly serve as a starting point and a writer's block remover.

Then I do a skeletal draft. I start at the beginning and write until I come to a scene I'm not feeling. Then I skip it, leaving in its place a note about the basic scene that needs to go there, something like "Mike tells Ethan he wants to quit but Ethan refuses to accept his resignation." Then I move on to the scene I do like. I usually have five or six of these major holes in the script on the first pass. Then I get to the end, write out the last scene, print it out and go through to fix the holes. That's what I call the skeletal draft, and this morning I finished it. And for me, 39 pages is a lot for a skeletal draft. I tend to write short, but that's almost long enough to be a complete episode already.

Many of my writer friends always ask how the hell I write at work. I didn't for a long time, then the wireless Internet disappeared from the room I work in during my conference period. (I'm travelling, which means I don't have a classroom.) And as we all know, the Internet is both your best friend and your worst enemy when you're writing. But the past two weeks I've written up a storm because I've been sitting in a room with nothing but my laptop and no Internet, just ITunes and Movie Magic. I didn't even mean to finish my draft today. It just happened.

I can't remember the last time I felt this certain about a project either. Usually when I finish the skeletal draft I feel uneasy about certain scenes, like they're just not working and I don't know how to fix them. But not this time. I'm feeling good. I'm knocking this sucker out of the park.

Of course, all that could change tomorrow when I have to start filling in the gaps.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

What the kids are saying these days

Teenager Observation #2: They have their own language.
But you probably knew that already. Want to make your teenage characters sound like real adolescents but can't understand that crazy stuff they say? Here's some slang words you can throw in. Most of what I can share as yet only applies to South Central LA teens, but they'll catch on to the rest of the country sooner or later, and you'll already be prepared. I can only think of a few good ones right now, but I'll update the list as I think of more. Another day I'll compile a list of Spanglish words. Those are awesome.

For reals - Obviously this means "for real" but it is far cooler because extra consonants are hot.
Bootleg - Broken, busted, useless. As in, "Miss, that whiteboard marker is bootleg. You need a new one." This comes from the common use of bootleg DVDs, which are notoriously unreliable and usually look like crap. This is one of my favorite words to use.
Barely (pronounced "burley") - Something so recent you haven't had time to react to it yet. This is definitely a phrase used exclusively by Latino kids, but it will grow. It's a result of a mistranslated Spanish phrase. Example: "I didn't have time to do my journal. I just barely got here."
Myspace Freak - Someone who spends all their time on Myspace. The kids are nuts over the damn thing. They all have one. In fact, if you really want to learn about teenagers just go on Myspace and look around. I've known principals who've made up secret identities on Myspace so they can read about what kind of crazy pranks the kids are planning, which they are dumb enough to post on their profile.
Emo - the musical genre. Short for "emotional hardcore". Sappy music set to hard core rock with lots of key and time signature changes. These used to be punk kids, but now they've toned it down a bit. If you want to make them feel like outcasts you say, "fuck emo".

Also, it's worthy to note that teenagers these days cuss a lot more in public than they used to. My kids in North Carolina did not cuss in class ever unless they wanted to get sent home, but in the hallways you could hear "fucks" a plenty. My LA kids don't really censor themselves at all. Nine year olds cuss around here. It's not disrespectful, just how they talk. Sometimes they apologize, but usually they don't even realize they said anything offensive. So go for it. Realistic teenagers cuss like Army Rangers.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Hooray for fictional football

I don't sit down on my own to watch football, but I do enjoy the occasional game with friends, and I do understand the game for the most part thanks to never missing a home game in high school, even though our quiz bowl team had a better win record.

I was in marching band, as if you needed more evidence that I'm a massive dork.

I'm from a Southern city but I taught for four years in a town where the school football game was the big event on Friday nights. I haven't seen the film Friday Night Lights, but I was deeply interested in seeing what the show could do. Sports dramas just don't tend to do well.

Holy cow. Best pilot since Lost, and it might have been better. I was drawn in to the characters right away. They got really developed personalities and embraced Southern culture without being stereotypical dumb rednecks. I'm really tired of all Southerners being typical dumb rednecks. But these boys had a wide variety of behaviors, and although they acted like very aware and well spoken teenagers, they were still believable as adolescents.

It helps that they're using real Southerners, even if it's not written by a real Southerner. Hey, I'm a real Southerner with experience dealing with high schoolers. I could write for this show.

And oh, Kyle Chandler. You can coach my team anytime.

But I digress. There was a game. This was not the underdog team, but it's so important to them to win since everybody's expecting it that I was completely rooting for them. I actually shouted and threw my arms in the air every time they scored a touchdown, just like I was watching a real game. I ordered the players to run to the endzone every time they had the ball. I don't know much about this fictional football team, but I really hope they win.

I'm already thinking up spec ideas. Don't miss this show.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Would you?

Recently I've been afforded some interesting opportunities. More than once I've been in a position to sleep with somebody who could get my script into the hands of a TV producer or a connected agent. It's not an opportunity to sleep with someone for a job; merely the chance to let my work speak for itself in the right hands. Nobody's issued it as an exchange of services or anything; nobody's asked me to whore myself out. And these aren't even ugly dudes.

So that brings me to the ethical question. I'm not asking for advice; I have my method of handling the situation. But I'm curious about how other people view the scenario. If you knew that a J.J. Abrams or an Aaron Sorkin or a Weinstein was going to look at your script and possibly jump start your career and all you had to do was sleep with a PA or a cinematographer or a grip, would you?

Monday, October 02, 2006

One page

I'm a little late to the party, but here's my post for Red Right Hand's challenge. It's from my Supernatural spec.

I made it a jpeg but it was too blurry to read. How the hell do I turn it into a picture? I'm dumb. In the meantime, here it is, copied and pasted.


Dean is slumped in a chair right next to the crib, bleeding all over his chest. John sits on the rocker in the corner, holding baby Sam and rocking him gently.

It's just going to keep happening.


You think it matters whether or not you live or die? Sam's the one who matters. If you can't protect him, what are you good for?

I've done plenty of good on my own.

Temporary fixes. The bad guys are still out there. And when your body is finally rotting underground, they'll keep coming. They won't even remember your name.

Dean's getting pissed.

Then I'll cut down as many as I can before that happens.

Baby Sam starts crying.

See? Sam's psychic. He knows. You're small time. You've got a good handle on the minions, Dean, but when it really counts you can't come through. Sam's the one with the future. Your job is to protect him.

He throws baby Sam up in the air. Dean runs to catch him, but falls out of the chair onto the floor. He's too weak.

While Sam drifts slowly to the floor, John gets up and stands over Dean, who struggles to get up.

Well? Are you gonna get up?


Dean sits up with a start and a gasp. A light shines into his eyes. Dean shields his face. Could he be out of the cave?

It's the flashlight. Cassy shines it on him. When she sees his hand blocking the light she moves it away.