Monday, December 31, 2007

Emily's year in review

It's time for the old 2007 wrap-up. This time last year I was getting a tattoo to remind me to stay focused on my goals and not lose myself again like I did in 2006.

So here I am, 365 days later.

I made my first short film. I don't have it yet because my editor has fallen off the face of the planet with my footage.

I wrote a cool script with Writing Partner. We're still working on the kinks but all in all it's solid material.

I wrote most of zombie script that I am now calling Not Dead Yet. I think it represents a turning point writing wise for me because it's more solid than anything I've written in the past. I think I finally have an action script worthy enough to pass around town.

I wrote a script that sucked. We'll not discuss that anymore.

I fell in love.

I got dumped.

I got depressed.

I got better.

I went on a horrifyingly bad date.

I went on a mediocre date.

Due to some poor financial decisions, my credit score sank like a mob informant locked in cement shoes.

I learned to do some cool kickboxing moves.

I got a new laptop.

I got mugged.

My car got broken into twice.

I moved.

I got worshipped by Russians.

I picketed with WGA writers.

I injured my foot and walked with a cane.

I tasered myself in the leg.

I danced.

I karaoked.

I made new friends.

I lost old friends.

I hung out with awesome Maggie at Battlestar parties.

I met some of you guys.

I had a couple of epiphanies.

Good things happened, bad things happened. In the end it all balanced out I suppose. I still don't know where I'll be at midnight tonight. I might be alone, I might be at a party, I might be swimming in the Pacific. But I'm looking forward to a new year and an opportunity to start again.

And there are some people I need to thank for helping me get through some of the tougher times. I would name them but then the people I don't name because I'm annoyed at them for being whiney and manipulative would get all mad at me.

But there are people who helped me this year, especially during some of the more difficult moments. You know who you are. Thank you.

Happy New Year, everybody! I hope 2008 gets you agents and contracts and stuntwork and TV staff jobs and lead roles in film and lots of candy!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Zombie script is like good porn

When I was on the plane to LA two days ago I sat next to another screenwriter / director. I mentioned that I had the black list scripts on a disk and he asked to get them from me. The disk also had copies of several produced scripts and a folder with every single script I've written in the past three years on it.

I knew I was getting a laptop for Christmas so I put all my scripts on the disk to transfer to my new computer, see.

So when he went to transfer all the blacklist scripts he also slid my script file over onto his computer. I quickly told him he didn't want all that - it was my work.

"Oh I see," he said with a smile. "You heard I was a director and you 'accidentally' gave me your scripts."

Oh dear God no. Most of the stuff on there should never see the light of day in its current form. It's like somebody stumbling on your porn stash. Some of it's high class material, some of it's obese geriatric women with facial hair.

My bad scripts all tend to have the same problem and I've written about it before. I like to write action but I'm not a Navy Seal so I tend to write situations I have absolutely not experience in.

Ever since I started kickboxing that's gotten better because I now know how fight scenes work, but I still have difficulty with some of the more complex plot elements.

Inevitably there comes a moment in each script where I have to carefully stage a series of events that I'm unsure about, and that ends in one of two ways: I either stop writing under the misguided assumption that I will get back to it as soon as I figure it out, or I bullshit the events and hope nobody notices.

For instance, I wrote a script years ago where some characters spend a night walking from Downtown to Hollywood. I got a little mixed up trying to figure out the route they would take and what kind of things would happen along the way, but instead of getting my lazy ass in my car and driving the route I used the Thomas Guide to make some crap up.

And so I end up with plump old ladies.

For the past month that's where I've been on this zombie project for which I still have no title. The progress bar has gone nowhere because I stopped writing to figure out how to get past a big set piece I have never seen and know very little about. And even after I met with Ex-Boyfriend who knows a few things and talked to a few people and did lots of research on the internets, I still wasn't completely sure about it. I found reasons not to work on the script because I wasn't sure I could get over the hurdle. I had psychological impotence.

Then yesterday I said to myself "Self!" I said, "You know this. Now write the damn thing."

And I sat down and closed my eyes and imagined the scene and started typing. And I got through the scene. And it's believable. And it's a hot chick with big boobies banging a studly man with sixpack abs.

I fear I have lost my more wholesome readership with this metaphor. I also think I'll be getting some weird Google searches for a while. Whatever. This is my metaphor and I'm sticking with it.

So now the hard part is over. The next part is the big final climactic battle, where my biggest decision is how I'm going to use the flamethrower to blow stuff up. I've been carrying that flamethrower around for months waiting to use it.

So I have a lot of crappy scripts in my collection but I don't think Zombies will be one of them.

And thanks to some help from a member over at, I now have a title for the script: Not Dead Yet.

I guess tomorrow I have to do some kind of obligatory year-end post.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Home again, naturally

I'm back in LA. Yay! I love North Carolina and I love my family but it gets really boring really quick over there. Give me my smog-filled, earthquake-riddled land any day.

I sat next to two guys on the airplane who talked. One was another writer, so that was cool. The other was a flustered Biblical studies major/actor who over enunciated every word and was way out of his league in the Shakespeare discussion and somehow thinks having a bazillion dollar acting degree from a university in Colorado that he has to break his back to get into is more useful than taking inexpensive acting classes with working performers here in LA. I'm a big proponent of continuing education, but sometimes I think people go for the degree just to say they got it.

That was pretty awesome, though, having a philosophical discussion about Shakespeare with two dudes I just met on a plane.

Being in NC didn't really feel like a vacation because every waking moment was taken up by Mom's plans except for the one night I got to spend with a friend.

Now that I'm back in LA, though, I have a few days before the new semester starts and I have to break in a new batch of kids who don't know about my sarcasm and tendency to threaten violence to any child who talks while I'm trying to explain how awesome Hamlet is.

In the meantime I want to watch some movies. I have some ancient Blockbuster gift cards that may or may not be any good and I'm going to walk up to Larchmont and get a couple of films. Then I'm going to relax and have a drink and watch movies all night with the cat who has been so lonely and has really been looking forward to the quality time.

He may or may not have had a cat party while I was gone. I swear I had more catnip before I left.

At any rate, plead the case for your favorite DVD. What should I rent?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

How I got my wedding dress

I'm waiting for Mom to get back from Curves so we can go get the wedding dress to take it to the resale place. They were really excited to hear we were coming. I think most of the dresses they get are Aunt Tilda's thirty-year-old poofy sleeve number from her second marriage. Maybe that means I'll get more money.

Mom tried to get me to go to Curves with her. No thanks. If my workout's gonna be dictated to me it will be by supremely hot Trainer who occasionally can be coaxed to lift up his shirt and show me his abs, not by sixty year old ladies in sweatpants who believe every woman on earth has the same body.

Anyway, now seems as good a time as any to explain what happened with the wedding. I met Ex-Fiance while I was working for a horrible newspaper in eastern North Carolina. He was working for one of our competitors as a news reporter. I thought he was cute. We dated.

Then I decided to move back to Raleigh and become a teacher and I figured that was that because I wasn't interested in a long term relationship.

But he kept sticking around. He came up on weekends and sometimes I went down to visit on weekends and that was the pattern we adopted. I had no friends where I lived and everybody at work was married and older so there was no alternative. That's life in North Carolina for me. Ex-Fiance's friends were my only friends.

Time passed. Years passed. We downed massive amounts of wine on the weekends and ate at the same pizza restaurant. We played Knights of the Old Republic on X-Box.

Then I decided to move to LA to become a screenwriter. I asked if he wanted to come with me because I was afraid of moving alone. He responded by asking me to marry him.

We were on a trip to New York to stay with friends. We walked to Central Park, one of his favorite places on earth but a place that means absolutely nothing to me, and he pulled out a claim check for a jewelry store and popped the question casually.

I thought he was joking at first, but then said yes because that's what you do. You say yes. It's not like there was anybody else out there trying to marry me. I was used to him.

The ring was my great grandmother's. He had gone to my mother and gotten it, but it had no stones so he took it to the only jeweler in town who would put stones in it (there were better jewelers twenty miles away), but the jeweler got sick so Ex didn't have it when we went to New York, hence the claim check. When I did get the ring back the amethyst in the middle (my idea) was deeply flawed and one of the braces holding in a tiny diamond on the side was not properly set so it kept picking at my clothes. I was always having to dig pieces of lint out of my ring.

Kind of symbolic, no?

The night we got engaged his favorite basketball team got into the final four. When everyone told him congratulations he thought they were talking about the game.

Then we moved to LA. I paid for the move. I paid for the apartment. For four months I paid all the bills. He never could seem to find a job. He kept saying he was looking for one but wasn't satisfied with anything less than news reporter, even temporarily, so while he drank more and more and went out to hockey games I laid on the couch, exhausted from working at a school that didn't yet have its shit together so I could pay both of our bills.

I'd get up at 3 am to go to the bathroom and he'd be on my computer playing some video game where you conquer other cultures.

I dreaded sex.

Then I started to make friends. I went to the gym and got First Trainer. I was at the gym as much as possible because I didn't want to go home.

Because of First Trainer, I cut way back on the drinking. Then I told Ex I'd like him to go a week without drinking. He agreed. I marked the bottle. The very next day after he promised to stop there was less vodka in the bottle. I confronted him. He said it must have evaporated. I marked it again. The next day there was MORE vodka in the bottle than before.

He's not too bright.

One day two months before my wedding I was addressing envelopes for the wedding invitations while watching TV. I saw that credit card commercial where that girl in her wedding dress runs and hugs her friends because she's so happy.

"What an idiot," I said.

I looked down at the cards in my lap. I realized what I had just said. That's when I knew I didn't want to get married.

He didn't take it so well. Before he moved out he would get drunk in the middle of the night and come into the bedroom to demand to know why I wanted to break it off. He finally moved out.

He took me to lunch a few months later to catch up. We were going to try to be friends. When the bill came he discovered he had no money. I paid.

It's the last time I paid for anything. I haven't seen him since.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

It's just a symbol

Mom and British Grandmother have decided I should sell my wedding dress. This dress is beautiful and only worn twice by me in the shop. I never even wore the final version since I called off the wedding right before the alterations were finished. It's been sitting in storage ever since.

This is a $1400 dress. It's perfect for the girl I was then, but I guess Mom's right. That dress is kind of dramatic and fit more for a princess than the practical girl I am now. If I get married it will probably be on a beach with no shoes on, not in some fancy gazebo with 200 people watching.

Still, it's a beautiful dress. I don't regret not getting to wear it, but it's hard to let go of something that came with that little girl dream of the big blue wedding.

That was my dream, anyway. Lots of blue. Even the cake was blue.

So that's what I'm doing tomorrow - taking one last look at the dress I never wore and handing it over to the people at the resale place to see what they can get for it.

2008: the year of moving on.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas, baby!

I'm in North Carolina again! With trees! And barbecue!

My flight went fine. I slept as much as I could and I read the script for Passengers, another black list entry. I was not impressed, but it passed the time until I was ready for my uncomfortable nap.

Last night I went to British Grandmother's house where most of our tiny family was there and we all had a fabulous time. We are a hilarious bunch of people. Dinner with my family is a bit like a Stoppard play, especially when Stepdad decided dinner and coffee was the time to tell the story about his days in Nicaragua and the boy he met there whose intestines fell out through his rectum because of worms.

Yay, rectal bleeding story! How Christmasy!

But British Grandmother and Stepdad conspired to give me this brand new Dell Inspiron 1520 laptop in midnight blue. British Grandmother always gets me $100 so I don't have much cash on me because I knew that money was coming. But not this year. She switched things up. She has no idea what this computer does - I had to hook her new DVD player up and show her how to use it last night - but she knew I needed it. She's completely mystified at the fact that the entire machine fits in this little box. With the fifteen inch screen and four USB ports and the DVD control on the front. And the silicone cover I almost tested by nearly dropping the laptop directly from the box to the floor last night because I was surprised at how heavy it is. It's a thing of beauty.

Stepdad even managed to find a place that would put Windows XP on it so I don't have to deal with all the Vista bugs.

I think I'll take this over the cash.

I promised to thank her when I win my Oscar for the screenplay I'm going to write on it. I also gave her lots of British foods including spotted dick. She flipped because she hasn't had that in over a decade. But it's fun to say, isn't it?

What did you give your grandmother? Oh, I gave her a spotted dick! She put it right in her mouth!

Now I must change for lunch, where I will show my British grandmother the beautiful gift she bought me that she has no idea how to use. Then we will all hear stories about the time my Bachelor Uncle blew up all the mailboxes in the neighborhood or the day my Hyper Uncle tied younger Bachelor Uncle to his bike and made him chase him around the block.

We've put a moratorium on rectal bleeding stories at the dinner table.

Yay Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

If you don't hear from me again, check baggage claim

I'm packed, the cat is taken care of and I have a ride to the airport.

I'm passing through Detroit on Christmas Eve Day and the Weather Channel is predicting snow showers so let's all hope really hard that Emily doesn't end up spending Christmas on a bench across from the airport Starbucks next to Bobbie Jenkins from New Jersey and his eight sugar-addicted children.

I'm sure I'll be fine. Either way you won't be hearing from me until Christmas day because I'm not bringing my laptop. I'm bringing a screenplay, a magazine and The Once and Future King. That ought to be enough to keep me busy.

Have a Happy Christmas everybody! That goes for you too, Jews and Atheists! Eat lots of candy and bask in the glow of new stuff!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Eight shows action writers should see

The DVR schedule is starting to look a little peaked. Thanks to the AMPTP's greedy asses we won't be having and new scripted shows any time soon, so the regular TV watchers among us have had to turn elsewhere for our entertainment needs.

I think we can all agree: reality TV sucks. So what else is there?

Well I am pleased to say, quite a bit. It's high time more people started watching all those educational channels. They're not your mom's Learning Channel anymore. But these networks aren't just good for entertainment, they're terrific fodder for writing material, particularly those of us who write action.

After long nights of dedication and fierce attention-paying I have compiled a list of my top eight documentary style shows that can make your writing better. Eight because that's the number of shows I felt like listing.

8) Future Weapons. Discovery Channel.
Mac the former Navy Seal picks a cool weapon, finds out how it was designed and uses it to blow stuff up real good. He finds out what these weapons are good for and how they work. And blows stuff up real good.

Negatives? Mac isn't exactly the most exciting narrator and the show's format is a little dull, and it seems to be designed for an audience with a basic familiarity with guns so I always feel like I'm missing some information. But if you like guns this show is for you.

How is it useful to writers? When you write an action flick it helps to sound like you know what you're talking about. If you know the difference between a rifle and a shotgun and use the proper gun for the proper occasion it can really help the realism in your screenplay. Plus, if your characters ever need to call out a weapon by name, here you go. Just watch this show and look for one you like.

7) Gangland. The History Channel.
Each show follows a different violent American gang throughout its development. They manage to get interviews with former and current gang members and really go through what it takes to join the gang and stay in it until you die or go to prison. They usually follow a notorious gang leader's career and how it affected those around him until his inevitable downfall. My students love this show.

Negatives? It gets a little dull sometimes, and it can be annoying to watch all your interviews with a blur over people's faces.

How is this useful to writers? Not only are there stories galore in every episode, but if you ever need a good villain for your story, just watch and episode of Gangland. You get a real feel for gang politics that you can use to flesh out your antagonist's motivations.

6) Last One Standing. Discovery Channel.
Badass dudes travel to out-of-the-way locations and fight each other and natives in epic battles. They punish themselves and each other and often get hurt pretty bad.

Negatives? This is about the psychology of the guys fighting more than the technique, so unlike Human Weapon (#2), they don't show you how to do any of the moves and it can be a bit melodramatic.

How is this useful to writers? The show lets you look at the culture of fighting. You see how the guys train and psych themselves up for a fight, which is great for character development.

5) Dirty Jobs. Discovery Channel.
How have you not seen Dirty Jobs? Mike Rowe travels around the country learning how to do the nastiest jobs America has to offer. Ever wanted to know how you jerk off a farm animal? Mike's done it.

Negatives? Sometimes I feel like Mike himself is too clean for this line of work, but then again maybe that's why the show works so well.

How is this useful to writers? Settings and characters. I don't know about you, but I'm tired of seeing advertising executives who work in a high rise in New York City. Every Episode of Dirty Jobs takes you to an obscure new place and an obscure new occupation nobody's ever written about.

4) The Directors. Reelz Channel.
Each episode follows a director throughout his career, interviewing actors and writers and people who've been there at important moments.

Negatives? Every episode looks like it was filmed in the eighties even thought it's much more recent.

How is this useful to writers? Well duh. Listening to a director talking about his choices is always a good thing for a writer.

3) Myth Busters. Discovery Channel.
Please tell me you've seen Mythbusters. Adam and Jamie, two former special effects guys, and their crew test out common legends to see if they're true. From this show I have learned that you should touch metal before you touch the gas pump if you've been sitting in the car at the station, you cannot talk to each other while freefalling from an airplane, and throwing a lighted match into a pool of gasoline will not start a fire. Plus, they blow stuff up real good.

Negatives? Some of these myths are pretty obviously not true and anyone who thinks they are is kind of retarded.

How is this helpful to writers? Most of the things they investigate are things that happen in films. So the next time you decide to make your hero flip his car upside down under a crane to use the crane hook to take a bomb off the bottom of your sports car before flipping it back around and casually driving on you merry way, you may want to consult with these guys first. If you care about realism.

2) Human Weapon. The History Channel.
Jason Chambers, a brutally hot and badass MMA fighter, and Bill Duff the former wrestler and football player, travel around seeking out different fighting styles. After a week of lessons, one of them fights a champion in that fighting style. I've learned a ton of new moves from this show. Discovery Channel is producing a clone of this show in January, but this is the original.

Negatives? Bill kind of sucks.

How is this helpful to writers? We all know a fight seen can't just say "They fight." It has to have some detail. If you can't learn kickboxing you can watch Human Weapon for ideas on how to stage your fights in a realistic and creative way.

1) Man vs Wild. Discovery Channel.
This is a man who has no trouble getting laid. For one thing, his name is Bear Grylls, so there's automatic cool points there. He travels around with a backpack demonstrating how to survive on your own in the wild. He eats raw goat testicles and drinks the liquid squeezed from a giant piece of elephant shit, and he wades his way through frozen rivers filled with parasites. I love how he doesn't try to be all macho because he may have a posh British accent but he's way more badder ass than all of us. When food tastes nasty he says so. When he's freezing his ass off he says so. When he needs to get naked and roll around in the dirt to survive he does so. He is bat shit crazy.

Negatives? Did you not just read what I wrote? How could there be any negatives? Sheesh.

How is this helpful to writers? If you're ever trapped in the wilderness with your laptop and a pocket knife you'll be thanking Bear Grylls.

Friday, December 21, 2007

What's your thing?

I have begun to really settle into my thing.

You know, the thing. The thing that all your scripts have so everybody knows it's you. People look at your films and nod and go, this has to be an Emily Blake picture. Well, hopefully they won't look at your films and think it's an Emily Blake picture. Unless you're films are really good. Then I'll gladly take the credit.

Like Shane Black. We all know his thing. You're not going to see Shane Black make a kid's movie. Okay, there was Monster Squad, but that film includes excellent quotes like "Wolfman's got nards!" (to which I still say, why wouldn't he?) and "I'm in the god damn club, aren't I?" which made watching an otherwise silly film watchable.

But that just proves my point. Shane Black isn't touchy feeley. Charlie Kauffman isn't linear. David Lynch will make me want to put lit cigarettes out on my eyeballs.

Actually, that would be kind of Lynchian if I did it slowly and in black and white while dressed in a pink tutu.

There should be more David Lynch parodies.

Anyway, I think part of what we do as newbie writers is try to form our writing identity. Mine's been slowly coming together but I think after six years of working on screenplays I've finally settled in.

I already knew I liked violence. But controlled violence. Violence with a bittersweet ending and even though everybody's got a gun nobody gets shot. I like to have people face each other and yell and point guns but then somebody backs down and we end in stalemate.

I think that's my thing.

I know because Bamboo Killers has it, my zombie movie kind of has it and now a short film script I just edited this morning has it. Even my TV scripts tend to have it.

I like standoffs. I don't really know why.

I want to have the reputation for being the one to call when you need a tension-filled conflict between people who don't trust each other but need each other. And fight scenes. I do fight scenes well. And I can write fast if necessary.

So producers will be like "Call up that Emily Blake. She's good with tensioney standoffs that lead to big fist fights!" and other producers will say, "Is that a girl?" and the first producer will say, "Yes! And she's cute! Let's give her candy!" And I'll walk in with my pigtails and be all adorable and write scenes where people kick each other across the room yelling out very foul language.

This is my thing.

Do you have a thing? Is there one consistent element that people can find in all your scripts so they know to call you when they need it?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

What is an American?

It's the end of another semester and that means essay time.

This week's entries: Using the American literature we have studied in this class and literature you have read on your own, write an essay explaining what you think it means to be an American.

Responses of note:
1) A true American is someone who feels pride for America and try to help with the environment or in any way that they. America has been through a lot, for example to Great the Depression, it was a time in which the stock market went down and not many people had jobs.

2) I think being an American means to actually being born here and not coming from another state.

3) I think to be an American is to live and be born in America; because to live in this continent means freedom.

4) Malcolm X views on the way to solve issues in the black community were violent. but he knew how to use rights he had has an american to get around the law.

I have learned much today about my country.

A cry for help

I think I helped save a kid's life yesterday.

This kid, "Brian," has always been a surly boy. I've taught him for two years now and he's very smart, very fat and growing fatter, and hates the world. He's not a bad kid; he's actually very nice sometimes and helps people with their assignments. When we couldn't figure out how to transfer a video from a Mac laptop to a PC desktop he figured it out so the group - not his - was able to do their presentation.

But he's always really crabby. He doesn't eat lunch with anybody and doesn't have any friends. It's not because he's an outcast. Frequently the other students in the class invite him to lunch but he always turns them down. Even though he always acts like everybody else is a complete idiot the kids respect his opinion when he speaks. My students are amazing people.

Lately he's stopped doing any work. He's ballooned to obesity levels. He sits with a glare on his face the whole class period.

There's another kid, "Victor," in the class who drives me up the wall. Victor loves to hear himself talk and does not stop talking no matter what's going on. He has the attention span of a gnat but needs attention constantly. When he's absent I get to teach. So every time Victor interrupts me to make some lame ass joke Brian asks me if he can kill him. I always say no, but act like I'm considering it. It's been an ongoing joke for a year now.

But yesterday it turned serious. Brian didn't seem like he was joking. And when Victor mumbled something under his breath Brian turned to him and said, "I'll break your neck."

"Do it," Victor said.

Brian got up out of his chair and grabbed Victor's neck.

For about a second I thought he was going to murder him. I really thought Brian was going to break his neck. The rest of the class still thought it was a joke so nobody did anything, but I saw their faces as Brian tried to put Victor in a choke hold. This was not for fun.

Both of these boys are considerably larger than me so all I could do was stand next to them and try to talk Brian into letting go. Eventually he did, then returned to his desk.

They glared at each other for a while as I tried to calm the class and return to the lesson.

My boss came in to make an announcement about textbooks. I followed her out and told her what happened. She took Brian away.

She talked to Brian. The counselor talked to Brian. Then the nurse, then his mom.

It turns out Brian has been thinking of killing himself. He stopped doing homework, started talking about killing people, started being mean to everybody. Nobody noticed. So he tried to strangle a student.

Finally the boy got someone's attention.

He's been set up with a doctor to get some help losing weight so he can be physically healthy and he'll be seeing a therapist starting immediately.

I'm really glad he tried to strangle Victor. If he hadn't, he might have tried to kill us all.

If only it would shut Victor up.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Hanging chads

Hey, I just realized this is my 500th post. Yay, me. I'm a wordy bastard.

Last night I had the opportunity to read Danny Strong's screenplay Recount. It's number one on this year's blacklist, a list of most anticipated scripts scuttling around town at the moment. It's about the Florida election debacle of 2000 that brought us our current glorious presidential administration.

The big question I had going into the read was, will this be interesting? Because 1) it's about a political election, much of which was dedicated to counting little holes in sheets of paper and 2) we already know the outcome.

Not that knowing the outcome is always bad. We know the boy will get the girl. We know Oedipus already married his mom. We know Romeo and Juliet are going to die.

Oh, ummm spoiler warnings there, guys.

The Democrats lose.

But it's the way they lose. The story follows a member of the campaign as he desperately tries every possible way to count the votes that were lost in the election and you just ache for him because so many cards are stacked against him in a state run by the other guy's brother.

There were moments in this script where I was really rooting for the Gore campaign, hoping somehow they'd beat the odds and celebrating every time they won a victory. Then I'd remember that I already know what happened and I'd get sad.

That's a hell of an achievement for the script.

It's very clear who the good guys are in the story. Strong doesn't really try to be impartial, and I think that's what prevents the script from being too dry. You have to root for somebody. At first I was worried that he was making the Gore campaign look too noble and righteous, but not only did that stop bothering me as I got more involved in the story, but the script also hinted at some of the flaws the self-righteousness created in a fierce competition with the devious Bush campaign.

For the Bush camp, winning is everything. For the Gore camp, the whole world is a beautiful place and we must all be fair and honorable and dance in the forest with the fairy creatures who live under the waterfall of ambrosia.

I'll be interested to see how this script lands when all is said and done. Hollywood's a liberal town but America is a conservative country. Either way if this film gets made it's gonna piss some people off.

I want to write a script that pisses people off. Good on you, Danny Strong.

Monday, December 17, 2007

A day at the movies

I used to have a whole crew of people who loved action movies. Whenever the latest one would come out I knew exactly who I'd be seeing it with and if I saw it without them it was the greatest sin in the world. But times have changed and my friend base has shifted and all my current friends are into romantic comedies.

So yesterday when I wanted to see I am Legend I had nobody to call. I went by myself. To the Grove. During the Christmas shopping season.

With the big crowd it would have been easy to sneak into a movie, so there was an usher guarding one entrance out of the dozen or however many screens that theater has. The film he was guarding: Alvin and the Chipmunks.

I'm glad I got there early because it ended up being a full house. I found a nice little spot in the corner in the top row, where I was joined by a preteen girl and her mother. The girl felt the need to explain things to her mom the entire movie.

The protagonist is sitting by himself in an open space surrounded by zombie vampires who are quickly closing in on him.

"That's dangerous," the girl told her mother.

The protagonist is eating pasta.

"He's eating pasta," the girl told her mother.

I imagined myself whapping her upside the head with my cane.

"She's hitting me with the cane," the girl would have told her mother.

Overall I really enjoyed the film. I wish the CGI hadn't been so obviously CGI, but I guess they probably tried makeup and it looked like a B horror film. And the product placement is incredibly distracting in the beginning. I support product placement; it helps pay for the film and as long as it's not too distracting it adds to the realism. But when you're paying more attention to the TBS ads in post apocalyptic Times Square than you are to the action on screen, or when you know the main character is obsessed with Barilla pasta sauce even though he can choose from any pasta sauce he wants in all of the grocery store and for some reason still goes for the cheap crap in mass quantities, you know there's too much product placement.

Wow. That was a hell of a sentence.

Other than that, though, it was a terrific film. I spent most of my time feeling sad because Robert Neville is so lonely and everything just seems to keep getting worse as the story goes on. Still, I wish I hadn't gone alone. There was so much suspense in this film I kept gripping my own arm to comfort myself, but I was so nervous I was not much help.

"This is suspenseful," the girl said to her mother.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The frozen tundra of Mom's house

The great migration has begun. This is the week LA starts to empty out. Last year I stayed and my parents came here for Christmas and I've never seen such nice and easy traffic patterns in this town. Everybody went somewhere else.

My turn doesn't come until the 24th. I'm arriving in Raleigh at 11:30 on Christmas Eve Day after a flight that leaves at midnight. Woohoo. The thing I'm most worried about is the cold. I haven't been home during winter for three years now and I'm not sure I can handle it. It doesn't help that Mom likes to keep the thermostat set to Ice Castle. I asked her to please turn it up while I'm home. "I don't want to be miserable while I'm in your house," I said. "I will pay you for the heating bill if you need it," I said.

Who could say no to that bit of passive aggression?

My mother, apparently. "I can't replicate LA weather," She replied. "You'll be fine in a sweater and socks."

Well played, madam. The game has begun.

It will be 55 degrees in my mother's house in December. I'm not kidding. That's what she sets the thermostat to. So my Stepdad and I sit bundled up and shaking like we're the damn Ingalls family living on the prairie because my mother is so tight she won't pay an extra five dollars or so to keep the heat up for five days. When I get back I might be short one toe because of the frostbite.

Stepdad usually has to fight this battle alone but when I'm home he has reinforcements so his boldness increases. I'll pass the thermostat in the hallway and turn it up. Mom will pass it and yell at us and turn it back down. Then Stepdad will pass it and turn it back up. She's outnumbered but she won't go down without a fight. Eventually we negotiate terms and end up raising the temperature by five degrees. This has been our way every winter since I've been alive. You gotta be persistent to survive in my family.

If I'm not frozen I plan to use the time to finish the first draft of the zombie script. I had to acknowledge that maybe my problem isn't all character arc. Some of it is logistics. What I'm asking the characters to do is something very technical that I have no idea how to do, so I called for reinforcements. Ex-Boyfriend and I thought up this story together and he knows a lot about the things I'm writing about so I bit the bullet and called him and we had a very nice meal at Doughboys (Go there. After School Special. Thank me later.) and smoothed over my logistical problems. So I have to remember that for next time. If I'm stumped it's okay to get help.

Even if the person you're getting help from is evil. Just kidding, EX-B, I know you're not evil. Just completely out of your crazy, brain-damaged mind.

Don't worry. He knows what I'm talking about.

Anyway, hopefully I'll come back to LA in two weeks with all my toes and a completed screenplay on my new laptop. If all goes well. I'm especially worried about the toes.

EDITED TO ADD: Mom and I have negotiated to an agreement of 68 degrees. That way nobody touches the thermostat and I don't have to drag myself around the house wrapped in the ugly green electric blanket.

This gives me hope. If Mom can agree to raise the temperature in her house for a week, the AMPTP can unfreeze their hearts long enough to make a deal with the WGA. It's a Christmas miracle.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

You shall not pass

I'm at an impasse in my zombie script. I have a situation where a character wants to go off alone and sacrifice himself for his family but his family won't let him. The stuff he has to do involves turning some dials in a control room except the electricity is out so his wife has to turn on the generator in another room. But then the dials don't work so he volunteers to do something dangerous to save the family.

Or does he? I can't freaking make up my mind. Does he try to turn the dials by himself and then she shows up to turn on the generator? Or does she go with him in the beginning and then he tries to go his way alone after the first thing doesn't work?

I'm so confused!

I keep going back and forth, deleting and rewriting and rethinking and revising and I end up each day exactly where I began.

In all my writing I've never had this problem before. I either know exactly where I'm headed or I realize that my script sucks and stop for good. But this script doesn't suck. I just can't make up my mind about what my character needs to do.

I guess my problem is that his arc is his need to be a man and protect his family. His wife kind of wears the pants, and he loves her but at the moment he feels like he has no control anymore. So he needs to go off alone and save the day and feel like a man.

But she's not ready for that yet. She understands his need but is still pissed at him for something he did earlier so she doesn't care that he wants to be all manly, she's not going to let him be stupid. She cares about him but she's not sure she wants to be with him anymore.

In the meantime they all need to learn that they need each other.

And the son needs to save the day because nobody ever lets him fight and he's finally getting his opportunity.

So I've got all these balls in the air and I don't know how to juggle them. And I'm a sequential writer. I need to know what just happened to keep writing so I don't feel comfortable skipping ahead and coming back. Thus, impasse.

Maybe I should just make a damn decision and write it one way. I can always come back and change it.

Okay, I'll do that. Thanks for the advice.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Faint praise

Yesterday after the rally my sexy Kathleen Turner voice turned into Marge Simpson and then disappeared altogether. Since I'm still coughing and sneezing and the idea of trying to communicate to a bunch of rowdy teenagers without the assistance of speech seems to daunting right now I took another sick day today.

I feel guilty sleeping in. I have to keep reminding myself that that's what sick days are supposed to be for.

I just wish I could get some damn exercise because my inability to run or box is starting to have a negative impact on my waistline.

Anyway, the other day this Desperate Guy posted something on Wordplayer that I thought was interesting. It was an ad, essentially, trying to drum up interest in his script. It was promptly deleted by the wise Moderator, but not before I had a chance to copy it.

Desperate Guy claims to be involved in some kind of lawsuit that's nice and vaguely described. In the process he explains how awesome his script is. He swears any day now his film will be casting and has had incredible responses from people on his website. Also he's "very popular on myspace even after getting banned several times."

Here is his synopsis:


LAME SCRIPT the film combines a supernatural thriller with true love, and is based on a book called, "Something Boring" by Desperate Guy.

Imagine a love so true that even death cannot defeat it; a young woman victimized and her rapist mysteriously killed, her parents disbelieving the truth, for that truth is as haunting as the spirit that lingers in the home they live in. This supernatural thriller combines love and life beyond that of this life!

Negotiations with financiers are being completed and LAME SCRIPT is preparing to cast for this thrilling movie! Announcements for auditions for both major and minor roles will be posted.

And here are some of the emails people everywhere have been sending him about his amazing, wonderful and in all other ways perfect film:

Dear Desperate Guy, Reading LAME SCRIPT the script, I'm enthralled in the love story of William and Cass with its gripping descriptive and the reality based scenes you have created. In Act 1, I'm frozen in horror. In Act 2, I'm in a conundrum of plotting to kill or forgive Eric for his butchery. In Act 3, my eyes are red from crying when William and Cass reunite that I found such elation I've yet to have in my life. I couldn't believe that a script could lift me up so high and inspire me to believe that I someday can meet a man like William. This is my excuse to write to you. I have a question I wanted to ask Desperate Guy. If you're truly him, please tell me that you're in-love when you wrote LAME SCRIPT the script. It's wonderfully detail from a woman's insight and perspective, not a man. This script is better than Spark's, Notebook. I know people in the industry and I will help get this on the screen because the audiences worldwide need to experience the romance of William and Cass in LAME SCRIPT the script. Thank you. Thank you very much from a woman that found her heart reading your story. Michelle.

Hi Desperate Guy,

I'm so interested in playing JOSEPHINE MASTER I can't wait to audition?
Please keep me posted when casting begins. I also can't wait to read SOME OTHER LAME SCRIPT...I believe the character you mentioned me playing last
night was "Venus Jenkins" a rap star with an "untimely death"...I've
definitely rapped in the past and can still do it today given the
chance..please let me know when casting begins for this as well.

I'm an actress who is looking to be a part of something great, and
something with substance...the characters in your script/movie have

Let's make history together and bring this to the big screen.


Tanya Thompson

Hi Desperate Guy,

Hope this isn't a question that you're tired of but how do I become a character in your movies? Do you do lots of audition? I'm fresh out of college and don't know what I want to do in life. I starred in an indie before but it was stopped due to lack of funds. It was a fun experience and I'm thinking of trying again. What do you think?

Jasmine Nguyen

Thanks for letting me see the coverage on LAME SCRIPT. Whoever wrote it is a total idiot. The plot is great and believable. The dialogues are romantic and realistic. The industry is looking for movies that will make them money and LAME SCRIPT will make them money. If this nutcase doesn't see it by the positive reviews of your script, you should get rid of them. Ever since the writer strike started in the entertainment industry, you should hold on the rein for a great ride to success Desperate Guy. I will send it to my people for coverage worthy of the story. You are going to have to make changes but not to the story. Get a great director and you got a vision of gold. Take care, Brad

There's more of course. A script this evidently brilliant has loads of praise.

It's obvious he wrote all this himself, which makes me wonder something. Is he just oblivious? Does he think anyone in the industry is going to take him seriously by reading this? I know a lot of people in Hollywood exaggerate their accomplishments, but what do you tell yourself when you make up coverage like this? How do you not feel like a massive loser?

Let's examine his choices, shall we?

I'm not sure whether to be sad for this guy's desperation or mock him for his stupidity.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Sickness will not stop me from skipping work

Today I took a sick day so I could go to the Indie rally at Paramount. It was supposed to be a fake sick day but it turned into a real sick day when I woke up at 4 am coughing the kind of cough that feels like some tiny creature with sharp nails is clawing its way up your esophagus until I fell back on my pillow making the wimpery noise Wesley makes in The Princess Bride after Count What's-His-Face sucks one year of his life away. I'm really glad I took the sick day.

Just before 11, as I was feeling somewhat better, I took my cane and hobbled up to the studio for the rally. My foot is almost completely healed so the cane is more precautionary now than necessary, but I'm still worried about a relapse and it was a solid style choice. My voice is all scratchy from the coughing so I sound like Kathleen Turner. I should karaoke some Janis Joplin.

Then I wandered around in circles for three hours. It was boring at first. I kept walking next to John August but he was in deep conversation and I didn't want to interrupt to say hi so I never did even though he specifically told us to say hi. I never do what I'm told.

He spoke at the rally, as did Robin Swicord and everybody's favorite Jewish curmudgeon, Harlan Ellison. I was so excited when I saw him in the crowd because he's fucking hilarious, and he didn't disappoint today. He suggests we all try a little more violence toward Nick Counter and his cronies, except that he is in no way advocating violence. Just a suggestion about stomping on his neck until the blood squirts out. Even the local news camera men were laughing.

It's possible I'm in some of that footage since I was standing to the left of the podium. I instinctively hid my Pepsi from sight of the cameras to make sure product placement didn't interfere with the amount of usable footage. How indie of me. I only hope my boss doesn't see it and notice how not at work I was, but it's possible I was obscured from view by the creepy old guy who kept pushing forward with his sign in everybody's face until he was practically licking Ellison's elbow.

Fortunately after the speeches when I had to return to walking in circles I was saved from boredom by British Guy, an aspiring screenwriter finishing up his graduate thesis and trying to figure out how the hell he's going to pay his bills since his visa will only let him work in the film industry. We got along famously seeing as how he is absolutely adorable and has a very appropriate level of facial hair that suggests he only shaves when he has to to remain comfortable. It's my favorite level of facial hair.

At 2 we looked around and realized there were only eight people left walking back and forth so we did that old LA business card exchange and went our separate ways until we meet again.

Now I will eat some soup so I don't wake up in the middle of the night coughing up a piece of my spleen.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

My work is blocking blogger now. So while I can read other people's blogs I can't comment or post on my own. So instead of wasting time posting comments and blogging, I wasted an extra half hour looking for a proxy server so I could then post comments and blog. Take that, district overlords.

Everyone should have a cane. I found a reasonably stylish one yesterday at Rite Aid, of all places, and I've been stomping around on it ever since.

It's really annoying when every single person you see asks you what happened and you don't have an exciting story to tell, especially since half the people asking have never said two words to me before. Please, people. You don't care. You're just curious.

My story: I got jumped in the Target parking lot and I kicked the guy in the head, knocking out three of his teeth and giving him a concussion but spraining my foot in the process. It helps with my street cred.

When I went to the Sweeny Todd screening last night I wore a leather trench coat so I'm pretty sure I looked like a super villain. They call me Ms. Chiquita. (They actually do but I'm not going into detail as to why.)

Speaking of villains, Sweeny Todd was kick ass. If Charles Dickens and Edgar Allen Poe hung out and sang songs composed by the Phantom of the Opera, this is what they would have created. And I mean that in a good way.


It's basically a dark comedic horror musical. It was a story about the perils of revenge, but the antagonist is not completely clear here because at some point there are many characters doing horrible things. And that goes perfectly well with the opening where a bright, innocent sailor sings about how great London is and is interrupted by Sweeny Todd singing his own version where London is a place filled with vermin.

That theme is carried all the way through the film. Everyone's a sinner, nobody's innocent and we all deserve to die. But the people who believe that are the ones who get screwed at the end by their own actions, so while everyone keeps preaching despair and disgust, the true message in this story is that obsessing over revenge will blind you to any opportunity for happiness.

Sacha Baron Cohen got instant, constant laughs as the competing Italian barber and of course Alan Rickman, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter did their usual skillful performances, even more impressive here since all of them are actors, not singers. Nobody even knew if Johnny Depp could sing at all but he kept promising he could so the producers trusted him, right up until the first day of shooting. He sounds pretty damn good to me.

When I was a kid my mom gave me a tape of Barbara Streisand singing a bunch of musical numbers. I knew the ones from The King and I and West Side Story, but most of the songs I had no idea what shows they came from. Last night as I was watching the movie I got really excited as soon as Sweeny Todd crooned the first line of "Pretty Women" because I knew it. Then later came "Not While I'm Around" which I also knew. For years I had theorized what kind of story those songs were connected to. I assure you I never thought they were part of a story about a barber who likes to slit people's throats.

In short, I am happy to say that the film lives up to the hype. It's definitely the best R rated horror musical comedy in the theaters this Christmas.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

My right foot

I think I have tendonitis in my elbow. I guess that's what happens when you punch things too much. I work up yesterday with a cold and a headache followed me around all day until I got home and took some red ibuprofen. Then around lunchtime I stood up for no reason whatsoever a massive jolt of pain shot through my foot. I've been walking with a limp ever since. I think it's sprained. Can you sprain the side of your foot?

I think someone with some kind of science fictiony device has swapped health with me. I'm looking at you, Maggie. If you start breathing well and I suddenly develop asthma I know who to blame.

I need a cane. Where does one purchase a cane? I want one with flames on the end like Dr. House. Then I'll be all snide and catty and harass Robert Sean Leonard.

It's not stopping me from seeing Sweeny Todd tonight though. I don't care if my date has to carry me in on a stretcher, I'm going to that screening. So expect a review of that tomorrow.

I'll be taking Thursday off to go to the indie filmmaker rally at Paramount which is right up the street from me. I am, after all, an indie filmmaker even though I as yet have no film to show for it. I'm beginning to think my editor ran off into the sunset with the footage.

Anyway, if you're out there I'll be the girl who looks way too young to be using a cane.

Monday, December 10, 2007

This is our future, America

Today I had projects due in both my English classes. (Our school is block schedule so I teach only three classes a day for 95 minutes each. The third class is yearbook.) First period was supposed to create a play that could be a deleted scene from The Crucible. So they had to imagine a scene that could have been in the play but wasn't and perform it for the class.

Four groups. One forgot their play so they got up and did an interpretive witchcraft dance, which although not the assignment was still pretty hilarious. One group got up, had their play written out, copied and followed the assignment perfectly. One group didn't have their presentation because the one person who had the only copy of the play failed to appear. I told them that would happen. The fourth group didn't even try. When I asked them for their play they shrugged. They spent three days gossiping while reassuring me constantly that they did indeed have a plan. They did not have a plan.

As you can imagine, I was disappointed.

But no matter, because my second period would be presenting their hero projects and that would definitely not suck because I gave them three weeks and constantly checked on them and helped them understand their stories. And they know what a huge part of their grade this is so they'd get it right. Right?

Seven groups each got a hero in literature. They had to read the book and present the story to the class in a creative way, then explain a little about the culture in which the story was created, then explain how the hero of the story follows the monomythic hero's journey.

Group one (Oedipus) had nothing. The person who had their entire play failed to appear. I told them that would happen. This is the lazy group, hence the reason I gave them the easiest topic, so I kind of expected nothing to come of it.

Group two (Iliad) had their video ready to go. It was shot beautifully and well edited and at the end I was eager to learn who the director had been. It was the most sweet yet lazy, useless giggly girl in the whole room. I was amazed and impressed and then annoyed. I wonder if she realizes how much she'll need to understand literary interpretation when she's a filmmaker? I'd hate for her to waste her talent because she never wanted to read a book. Maybe this project will wake her up. But even thought they had a great video in black and white of the kids in togas fighting each other, Group Two didn't discuss the hero's journey and paid very little attention to the history.

Group three (1001 Nights) shot their movie on a crappy digital yearbook camera and recorded it onto the yearbook Mac laptop (three of the girls in the group are on my yearbook staff) and expected all 37 of the students in the class to gather round the laptop and watch their video. Except the sound doesn't work. So they couldn't show their movie.

Group four (Faust) had a great quiz made up but no presentation whatsoever. During the THREE WEEKS I gave them to work on it they kept reassuring me they had a plan. They did not have a plan. I'm not sure what kind of miracle they thought would occur when they stepped in front of the class, but it failed to appear. I told them that would happen.

Group five (Don Quixote) did have their video. It was funny and had some clever editing moments but didn't include any hero's journey information or anything about the history. It was also fairly obvious that they hadn't cracked the book, but managed to watch the movie very carefully.

Group six (The Aeneid) was missing 3/5ths of its members. The girl who had the finished video was one who failed to appear. I told them that would happen. But one of them had an unedited version so they popped that in an we watched it. They used dolls and tiny army men to tell the story and it was funny even though nobody in the room had a clue as to what the hell was going on. The video camera was so old it looked like stop animation and it was kind of red. No hero's journey, no history. At this point I was beginning to cry.

Group seven (Song of Roland) was saved by the bell. They were the group that worked the hardest during the three weeks of preparation so I think - and hope against hope - they'll do okay tomorrow. They're doing a puppet show. Interesting, since in high school I had done a puppet show on The Song of Roland that was really well organized and beautiful and had a soundtrack because I get way too into projects and feel like I have to one-up everybody else. Anyway, I hope their project doesn't suck.

I'm taking home the three videos I watched today to see them better and give a more accurate grade. Maybe after I take a closer look I won't want to stab myself with a spoon.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

How to deal with mildly famous people

I've got this friend from back home who has yet to visit LA and is terribly curious about what the rules are about celebrities out here. I've been explaining that you have to pretend you don't know who they are even if you're the biggest fan ever.

Also, do not stalk them. And hey, all you people who buy those star maps just to stand outside and munch on cheesy popcorn while you watch Johnny Depp's LA house not move? What is wrong with you?

Go hang out with that Jack Sparrow impersonator on Hollywood Boulevard. It will be far more entertaining and less draining on your soul.

But if you do happen to meet a celebrity you have to play it cool.

For example...

Last night I once again attended the Thrilling Supernatural Suspense Action Comedy Hour of Awesome or some complicated title at M Bar in Hollywood followed by a bluegrass performance. Once again, funny. Performing in this fine piece of entertainment bliss were the following people: Amber Benson, Adam Busch, John Di Maggio, Tom Kenny, Samm Levine and a bunch of other people you've never heard of but have been steadily working in LA for years.

Actors attending the show but not performing were Danny Strong, Ed Helms, Julia Duffy and Rider Strong.

The Friend who brought me to this show introduced me to Amber (who I met before but it was so long ago I know she doesn't remember) and we had a conversation where we discussed the pitfalls of being a young teacher in a ghetto school. That girl is an absolute doll and now she might actually remember me.

Then later on I was also introduced to Danny Strong and had a brief interaction with him where he told a story about how some woman thought he was in Jurassic Park. Oh yeah, because he is the spitting image of Wayne Knight. I met Adam Busch once before, so as Friend put it I've now met two-thirds of the evil trio. Now I just have to go to karaoke and sing with Tom Lenk. I wonder if knows any My Chemical Romance?

So as I was talking to Amber and then Danny, both of whom were really nice, I followed the rule about fandom in LA. I mention to neither of them that I own every episode of Buffy on DVD, have a couple of scholarly books about Buffy and a collection of Buffy teleplays and I've memorized every line and note in the musical episode and have dressed up as Buffy three times for Halloween.

So the conversation went like this:

ME: Oh, that's interesting.
AMBER or DANNY: Yes, well it's interesting stuff I'm talking about right now.

And here's what was going on in my brain:

ME: Holy crap! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep! This is so awesome!

I'm a dork. But they don't know that. And that's how you avoid embarrassing yourself in front of your favorite celebrities; pretend you are completely unfazed.

I also learned that Sponge Bob (Tom Kenny) is kind of hot in an Adrian Brody sort of way. Bender (John Di Maggio) smokes looooooots of pot. And Ed Helms makes the same concerned, jaw clenching facial expression when he's watching a comedic bluegrass music performance as he does when he's punching his fist through a wall on The Office.

And Adam Busch, frontman for his folk band Common Rotation, has a really easy and natural way in front of the audience. I mean, he's an actor so he kind of should, but it felt like I was watching a long-time friend on the stage instead of Warren the evil guy who got his skin ripped off. Hey, actors aren't their characters. Who knew?

The biggest hit of the night was the bluegrass performance of the Nellie Furtado/Timberland/Justin Timberlake collaboration "Give it to Me". That was good stuff. Minor celebrities are lots of fun when they get together.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Zombies and boys who could become zombies

Last night I started talking to a guy who seemed cool even though he was 26 and therefore a bit younger than I like. But about five minutes into what had begun as a fun conversation he told me he had only ever had one girlfriend and she lasted six months and since then he'd only been with one girl who exclaimed wonderment at how huge his penis is. He wanted to know if this was true. He wanted me to give him an assessment of how big "big" is.

I changed the subject. He asked me again for a penis assessment.

I told him I did not want to talk about his penis. He said technically we were talking about other people's penises and could I please answer the question? I walked away.

OMG. That's all I'm saying. OMG.

Now, to get your mind off that, a scene I wrote this morning for the zombie movie:


The shelves have been completely ransacked. Blood and rotten body parts litter the floor between ripped up rolls of toilet paper and pregnancy tests.

Zombies can be heard next door moaning and banging against the door to the hardware store mixed with the sound of sporadic gunfire from the boat, but the pharmacy itself is serene in its destruction.

Except for the smell. Kate wrinkles her nose and grabs a can of Febreze off the floor and sprays it liberally.

She hops over the counter and slips on the remains of a dead body right in the spot where she had planned to land gracefully. Kate crashes to the floor, grabbing at the counter and knocking over everything on it.


A TRANSVESTITE ZOMBIE looks up at the sound of the crash. He/She begins to wander over to the smashed open windows of the Pharmacy while her buddies continue to stare at the Hardware Store and moan.


Kate has a slip of paper in her hand with various medicines listed. She picks through the pills and jars of liquid medication that line the walls behind the pharmacy desk and puts them in her bag.

Transvestite Zombie appears in the smashed doorway at the front of the store. Her tattered dress flows behind her as she stumbles in barefoot, no doubt having lost her fantastic spikey heels.

Kate is oblivious, busy concentrating on figuring out which multisyllabic name was the right medication.

Behind Transvestite Zombie, another zombie appears. Then another.

Kate puts both medicines in her bag, takes one last look at the list, then turns to hop back over the counter-

And comes face to face with Transvestite Zombie.


They stare at each other.

You look fabulous. You might want to retouch your foundation though, honey. Makeup's over there.

She backs up, gun out, sussing out which way to handle the now half dozen zombies before her.

She checks her ammunition. Not good.

Transvestite Zombie sniffs the air, displeased.

The zombies stop, not sure about the counter or the smell.

Kate picks up her walkie.

(into the walkie)
Uhhh boys I need a little-

She's stopped by a loud screech, followed by static. She looks at the walkie. It's got masking tape around the bottom. "FIX THIS PIECE OF SHIT!" Is written across the tape in black marker.

(to herself)
Oh come on!

She drops it on the ground.

She takes her gun and shoots Transvestite Zombie, who stumbles and falls.

The other zombies begin to climb over the counter. Kate shoots wherever she can, but more seem to keep coming. Some move around the side to try coming over the counter that way.

Kate fires her last round of bullets and then she's out, but zombies are still advancing.

She grabs a broom leaning in the corner and holds it out like a weapon. As zombies approach, she knocks them out by a quick sweep of the broom. She twirls it, then knocks another one down. She pushes it into a zombie's gut then rams it into the same zombie's open mouth.

She kicks the zombie off the broom, flips it around and backs against the wall at the back of the drug shelves. The zombies close in-

And drop one by one to the ground as gunfire erupts behind them.

Kate ducks down and pops a few more zombies with her broom. All the zombies that were in front of her are piled on the floor in a lifeless heap.

Her husband stands behind them, offering his hand to get her up.

Get what you needed?


He picks up her gun and walkie and they both hop over the counter, where Josh is holding off the forces of the undead with a steady spray of bullets.

Kate grabs her gun from Chris along with the box of bullets he holds up for her.

They all line up and shoot together like any good family should.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Jump Little Children on Scrubs

I just wanted to share my excitement. I was just watching this week's Scrubs episode, "My Number One Doctor," and the last song at the end played over the poignant stuff was a terrific song called "B-13" by Jump Little Children.

The band is from Charleston, SC. I saw them open for Rusted Root years ago in Raleigh and immediately fell in love.

They are amazing but haven't gotten much attention out of the southeast. Every time I play any of their music for somebody they always want to know who the hell that band is because they sound fantastic.

So I'm very happy because being played at the end of Scrubs means people will be googling the song to figure out who the band is. Well here you go googlers. There was no video for B-13 but here's as equally excellent song called "Broken." Listen and fall in love.

High school's next top model

Last night was the second annualesque fashion show at my school. Our school is unique in that we have a teacher dedicated to teaching kids how to design garments and sew them. It's a very popular series of classes and each year the teacher throws a fashion show to showcase the work of the students in the class. Last night we had ours for this year.

I was once again a model. I've lost weight since the last one and I've been working with Trainer on my runway walk (he's a model) so I was feeling pretty good in my pajama pants.

I'll post a picture as soon as I have one.

It's amazing to see what these kids accomplish. Any time some jerk makes a comment about how Latino and black kids from the ghetto are stupid and incapable of success I want to grab them by the skull and push them into that room to see how they managed to take a little piece of fabric and turn it into a wearable outfit in 8 weeks, some of them with no prior knowledge at all.

Most of the kids just show off their work, but the students who really want to go for it design six outfits as part of a collection. Those kids go into competition. The fashion teacher brought in four judges from the fashion industry to decide the winner, who gets some kind of prize and a lot of prestige. This year it was the girl whose boob popped out of her dress on the runway. I'd question the coincidence of that except most of the judges were gay men.

The teachers all modeled in the last group to go. There are over 150 faculty and staff at our school and about a dozen teachers promised to model. Five of use showed up. Those flakey losers didn't know what they were missing.

Since the show started at 7:45 and it was 10:00 by the time we hit the runway, only about fifty people were left in what used to be an audience of over 200. We worked it anyway.

I modeled a pair of pajama pants that matched the shirt a friend of mine modeled. We worked that damn runway. When I got to the end one of the judges said, "Come on, show us something!" so I popped my hip twice like Trainer and I had discussed then turned around and strutted back to the center of the runway to wait for my partner to do the same. When he got back to me I turned around and bumped into two other teachers who were standing immediately behind us waiting. We ended up having to push past them and nearly fell off the runway, so all that cool I'd been working on was kind of blown. But by then all the kids were gone anyway so nobody I knew saw anything.

One of my companions modeled her wedding dress. She gave Fashion Teacher a design concept and a few weeks later there it was, not quite ready for the wedding but good enough for the runway. One of the hooks was broken and the ribbon we were supposed to lace the back with was too short so we had to knot it with another one, so it looked ghetto as hell, but still - the girl got a wedding dress designed for her for the cost of half the materials. My never-worn dress cost $1400.

Then again, Mine doesn't look ghetto in the back, but hers won't either once it's finished. She kept losing beads all night as they slid off their threads.

We had a transvestite model who was some friend of a teacher. He was very pretty and skinny and worked those ridiculous spikey heels like he was born in them. All night the big question was whether or no his boobs were really his boobs. They were not.

I'm really glad I went to Pollo Loco before the show because we were never allowed to eat the food. We also had to change in front of the boys because we were in the gym with absolutely nowhere to hide the whole night. When we asked Fashion Teacher about it she said, "Welcome to the world of fashion." Yes, but this world of fashion includes horny teenage boys.

Speaking of which, one boy who was modeling silk boxers went out there with a boner. He kept his hands over his crotch when he was backstage but when he got out there he just let it go. My modeling partner and I were doubled over in fits of laughter because we are evil.

The Victoria's Secret fashion show this was not, but man did we have fun.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Epic high school romance

This morning an epic romance just moved one more notch on the rising action slope.

"Evelyn" was dating "Leroy" for over a year. They were in my homeroom always kissing sweetly and holding each other. Evelyn looked out for Leroy and kept him in check because he was always one mis-step from prison. Leroy got Evelyn's name tattooed on his arm. She dumped him. They got back together. She dumped him again.

She started dating his best friend, "Alvin."

Alvin is also in my homeroom. But according to Leroy it didn't bother him. He was okay. I'm stupid so I thought it would all blow over.

Leroy hates this school and came to me for advice on how he can get out of it without dropping out, so I gave him a ton of info about how to get his GED and he agreed it was a better route for him. Any day now he'd be leaving school to start at the nearest community college.

In the meantime he was emailing Evelyn threats to send girls to her house to beat her up. He was avoiding his arrest warrant for his part in a robbery. He was broken hearted and descending more and more into depression and chaos and I didn't see it until today.

I saw it today because right before the bell rang to start class, Evelyn ran up my desk where I was typing up my last blog entry and said, "They're fighting."

She didn't have to tell me who "they" was.

Leroy and Alvin were standing outside, circling each other like great cats, shouting insults while a gym teacher tried to stand between them.

I usually don't wade into fights because I'm small and don't feel like getting hit despite my many kickboxing lessons, but since I know these two boys and they both respect me I lightly grabbed Leroy's shoulder and reminded him that he didn't need more trouble.

They weren't throwing punches but they were about to. Threats were thrown back and forth.

I should also mention that while Leroy is the one with the criminal record, Alvin is a thug. Evelyn has questionable taste in men.

As they separated and two girls offered to sweep Leroy to safety, Campus Security showed up. (Campus Security is hot, but now's not the time.) Both boys were arrested. I wanted to give Leroy some advice but all I could do was look at him, helpless and sad.

I returned to my classroom where Evelyn was doubled over in tears. It turns out Alvin has been walking her to and from school every day because she was afraid Leroy would do something to her. He's been going into her classrooms and tagging on her desk. He keeps following her around when he sees her, telling her how he wants to hurt her.

And he tells everyone he knows that he doesn't care about her anymore.

So now I'm trying to push him on the GED route, get him taken out of my homeroom even though I'm probably the only teacher he connects with and possibly get him arrested for his threats toward Evelyn. I'm afraid we haven't reached the climax of this story and I worry about what's to come.

I really like this kid. It breaks my heart.

Teenage love is a bitch.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


In high school I worked at Boston Market for ages. One day I was making pot pies before the store opened and I felt really sick, like, please somebody-stab-me-so-I-can-stop-feeling-so-sick sick. After my boss yelled at me about the pace with which I was pouring pot pie mix into little tin containers I nearly passed out, then drove home and actually did pass out. Turns out I had pneumonia. I missed three whole days of school.

That's the most days of school I ever missed in a row.

The first time I gave blood I ran out to the field half an hour later to play ultimate frisbee. I saw spots in front of my eyes, but I made the best catch ever to end the game in our favor.

In other words, it's kind of my way to not admit that my body has limits.

Lately I've been feeling pretty down. For the past two weeks I've had three emotions: angry, sad or slightly less sad. Lots of things have been piling up and I've had difficulty getting excited about anything. I started worrying that I'm not really me anymore. I didn't know who I was, but I was afraid it wasn't me.

Then yesterday was bloodmobile day. I gave blood at 1pm despite the ridiculous hoops I had to jump through to prove I was over 17 since my ID and blood donor card were both in the purse that was snatched. Anyway, I gave blood. And as the nice lady slid that needle into my arm I realized it was Tuesday. Tuesdays I work out with Trainer. While all the other boys and girls were passing out and throwing up I jumped up and ate my Cheez-Its on the way to fourth period, convinced that I'd be ready to punch things by the time I got on my boxing gloves.

At 5 I was all ready to go at the gym and Trainer and I started our workout. I did some pushups and stuff and kicked the bag and excitedly showed Trainer the double elbow I learned on Human Weapon and I was fine.

Then came punching time.

I got on my gloves and punched Trainer's mitted hands for about one minute, then something went horribly wrong. I felt my inner-elbow throb where the needle had been four hours earlier.

Trainer looked at me as I weakly threw my arm at his mit, my mouth wide open.

"Are you okay?" he asked.

"Do I look that bad?" I said.

I looked down at my elbow. Blood was leaking from my needlestick and running down my arm.

"You want to do kicks?" Trainer said.

"Sure," I replied enthusiastically as I wobbled and slid to the floor.

He ran and got me some paper towels then sat on the floor next to me.

As I blotted up the blood now gushing from the bruised hole in my arm Trainer offered to give me a free session later in the week.

"You don't have to do that," I said. "This is my fault. I shouldn't have given blood."

"No, I was on the phone a lot earlier and you've had a bad week. I'll give you a free session," he said.

"You don't have to-"

"Emily, shut the fuck up. Tomorrow at 6."

"Ok," I said. Then I looked at my bloody arm and started laughing hysterically. That's the moment when I knew I'd be okay.

"I feel better," I said through cackles.

"I think you're delusional," Trainer said.

"No," I said. "I'm gonna be okay. Look at me. I'm an idiot! I gave blood and then tried to kickbox. Who does that?" More laughter.

"That's because you're a charger," he said.

Then he bought me Chinese food because I have nothing in my refrigerator.

It was a good day.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

All I want for Christmas is some sleep

My first period is writing an essay on The Crucible. Yesterday I walked around the room helping them with their first drafts, going from kid to kid to make suggestions. Several kids kept stalling and I told them, "Wouldn't you rather write the paper right now while you're stuck in class anyway and I'm here to help you than wait until you get home, have other things to do and I'm not there?"

Today the rough drafts are due so the kids can peer edit. The same kids who were dragging ass yesterday came in with no essay today, sat down and asked me, "So how do I start?"

Some days this job just blows your mind.

In the meantime, I'm getting ready for Christmas.

For my present my Stepdad is getting me a new laptop so I'm very excited. I gave him a few suggestions - thanks to all those who gave me their recommendations except all you lunatic Mac people - so hopefully I'll get something superior to the Acer Travelmate I'm currently rocking. It doesn't even have Word and it heats up to about the temperature of the sun after ten minutes and if you unplug it while it's still on it goes all blue-screen-of-death.

My mom got me a plane ticket to North Carolina. I have issue with that as a gift because really that's a present for her as much as it is me. I wasn't planning on coming home this year but she really wants me to. It'll be good though. I can use the quiet for a few days and I am almost jumping out of my skin with impatience over an evening I have planned with an old high school friend. So I'm glad I'm going.

Unfortunately the flight leaves from LAX at midnight on December 23 and arrives in RDU at 5 am Christmas Eve Day. Because my flight is so close to Christmas every single person I know in LA will already be gone so I'm trying to figure out whether or not to save money by taking the bus to the train to the shuttle or spend $35 on a cab or park my car in one of the lots near the airport for $65. Then there's the matter of what to do about the cat. If I leave him alone for five days he'll destroy my apartment so that's another $35 to get somebody to come play with him for a couple of days.

But I still have three weeks to solve that problem.

After I arrive in the Old North State my mother wants to go shopping for the little stuff she's going to put under the tree for me, then I have to make black bean spirals for the evening's family thing (we always have assorted appetizers for dinner on Christmas Eve and then the big meal the next day), then we go to some new church I have absolutely no attachment to because the Episcopal church my family went to since I was a child has started suggesting that God does not hate The Gays. Then we all have our evening family get together where inevitably the discussion will turn to how awesome and misunderstood poor George Bush is and my Uncle and I will suddenly get really excited about the cheese balls so we can suppress our desire to speak out.

I can't wait to do all this while jetlagged.

I can't bring my laptop on the plane to watch episodes of Buffy like I usually do because I'll be bringing back a new one and my current one shuts down unless it's plugged in. So I think I'll be reading Writing Drama until I fall asleep. Dear God, I hope I fall asleep. Otherwise I might tumble face first into the chip dip right in the middle of my British Grandmother's rant about the liberal media.

I love my family.