Friday, December 26, 2008


Lately, as my ten-year high school reunion quickly approaches in 2009 ('s not 'til September, but'll be there before you know it!), I find myself very nostalgic.

I find myself thinking about the Good Ol' Days. More specifically, the years of--wait for it!!--1993 to 1999. In other words, middle school through high school. I mean, I've always been a nostalgic person anyways, trying to stay in touch with old school chums from the past. But in the last month or so, it's become sort of an obsession [BLOGGER'S NOTE: Really?!?! You obsessed?! NO!!]

Thank you, Facebook.

Seriously, it's gotten really bad!! I find myself searching for old friends all. The. Time. And when I can't find them, I "friend" other people that I may have had just the slightest tangential relationship with (if only to sort
of leap frog to see who they know). You know, the kind of person whose name and face you recognized in a school setting--passing by them in the hall or whatnot--but if they ever approached you on a dark and deserted street to say "hi" or try to shake your hand, you'd probably mace them first, ask questions later? Yeah, those are the people I've been friending. Fuck, even the teachers will do.

Thinking about it now, I'd be a damn good private detective. I've turned into a one-man

It's gotten bad. Like, I went scavenging through my old yearbooks, the other day. I went on a quest to find those too!! I actually went through Dimension X...The Abyss of Nothingness...The Bermuda Triangle...The Eighth Circle of Hell known as--DUM!! DUM!! DUMMMM!!--My Closet. Once that was accomplished with much bloodshed, I went on a hypomanic joyride down Memory Lane.

It was fun. Wish you were there. Though, all I brought back was this lousy T-shirt.

The thing is, looking back through those yearbooks, I saw all of the crushes and the school bullies and the popular people that seemed so important to me then and the only thing that goes through my mind now is this: What the fuck was I thinking???

All of the "popular" girls I thought were hot at the time, look something akin to mountain goats or worse. The "popular," hunky guys that the girls swooned over look like pimply boobs who should have been riding on the Short Bus. As for the now decidedly gawky-looking, malnourished school bullies, well, I just have images from "Bad Santa" or "Step Brothers" playing in my head. Ya know, there's just something completely invigorating about seeing grown men beating the living shit out of their tormentors, no matter what age they are.

It's so funny how 10-16 years puts things in perspective.

* sigh *

I've grown so much.

What makes me kind of blanch, too, is how I was so completely convinced that the friends I had at the time would be my "friends forever." You think I'm joking and kidding around, but going through those yearbooks, I was in shock and horrified by how I creepily scrawled in red pen "friends forever" on the actual photos of my friends.

Yeesh!! Maybe some Zoloft might have been in order for me then as well.

But yes, those were the good ol' days. In my opinion anyway. But I can say that now. The truth is, I try to remember the person I was then and I wonder to myself, was that person me at my best? Was that person happy? Who knows? I don't think a person so incomplete as who I was then could truly answer that question. I think I had to go through more experiences. There were more obstacles that needed to be hurtled over. As the High Priestess of Soul, Nina Simone, once sang...You've Got to Learn.

We all have to get from point A to point B and,
let's face it, I'm still not there yet.

Though, every step closer is something to smile about.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Running To Stand Still

It's been two weeks since I wrote my last entry.

but it's felt like Forever.

It's time to come clean a little bit here. I've been seeing a shrink again. Two, in fact (because one's never enough, right?). It's been since about September, actually...something like that. I see a psychiatrist--an MD who has been in the biz for 30 years or so to prescribe medication--and a therapist to talk through whatever issues I'm having/going through. In other words, she's trying to help me figure my shit out.

I decided to go back for many reasons,
a few of which I'm no longer at liberty to discuss on this blog. Mainly, I'm just not a happy camper. Sure, I have days where I'm content with The Way Things Are, but the space between Being Content and Being Happy is a wide one indeed. I have high highs and low lows. It's the way it has always been.

But then, that's just one of the many symptoms of my diagnosis: Bipolar II.

I'm not going into details about Bipolar Disorder II or what it feels to be diagnosed with it (relief, to be honest--it's something that I can put my finger on, something that can finally be dealt with!). What I am going to talk about here is the medication I'm on: Sertraline.

It's taken a while for it to kick in and on the way there, some of the side-effects have been downright nasty. They would include increased sweating (at first, anyway) sexual side-effects (adios orgasms! You are sorely missed) and, worst of all, Writers Block.

For the life of me, I couldn't figure out why, every time I started writing, I'd completely draw a blank and/or get drowsy. And then I's the medication.


It has taken me two days to write this. I began on Saturday night. This is how it goes: I start and I begin writing...and then I start to get drowsy. Like, really drowsy [BLOGGER'S NOTE: God, Hal!! That's usually what happens to the people who read your shit, not the other way around, man!!!!]. And then I kind of just...blank. And then I give up. I close the window and lay down or read my book.

On the plus side, it's been a while since I've actually been able to concentrate long enough to read a whole book. I've already read one ("Watchmen") and now I'm 100 pages into a new one: "Case Histories" by Kate Atkinson. Great stuff. Pick it up, but only once because, after that, you won't be able to put it down.

Needless to say, it's been a mixed bag of emotions, conflicting feelings. I'm happy that I've been able to Ya know? I just feel really mellow, chill. I'm not quite as jittery, tense. I like not worrying about everything. It's nice. But I'm frustrated and scared, too, because what if I my ability to write wasn't a talent...but a symptom? What if it was just a more subtle, functional biproduct of a hypomanic state, an inbalance?

In other words, have I lost my mojo? Did I ever really have it? Is it worth giving up in order to be at peace...or do I give up the meds and continue doing the one thing I know I'm good at, my one "discernible talent" as I've said, regardless of the the Quality of Life that I'm living? Is it ever possible to have anything both ways? Why does everything have to be so black and white? Why does everything in this goddamned life have to be a fucking tradeoff?

It's starting again.

I can feel the drowsiness washing over me. I'll have to lie down soon. But this isn't over. I won't let it win. Being a writer--good or bad, depending on your own tastes--isn't just something I do anymore. It's who I am. And I've had many different identities over the years. I've been many different variations of Hal to get to where I am, to get to this point.

This is the one I want.

And like so much that has come before, it won't come easily. I'm going to do what I've always done whenever there's conflict, whenever there are obsticles in my way that I need to overcome, whenever I'm on the verge of losing something I love.

I fight.

Tooth and nail, I fight.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Digital Neurotica

So, I finally joined the digital world a couple of weeks ago.

That's right! I now have a nifty digital camera!! And lemme tell ya, I'm going nuts with it!! I mean, seriously, if there any opportunity for a photo op, I'll take it.

In other words, I've turned into the Caucasian version of Justin. Whether that's an image anyone wants in their head is a matter of personal taste. Hey, at least I don't wear clothing rejected by Heath ("Let's put a smile on that FACE!!") Ledger on the set of "The Dark Knight."

Yeah, yeah...I'm an ass. He knows it. It's ok.

And why not, right? These are the times to be taking photos. We're young, life is exciting!! I love that I can just snap a photo and just plug it onto my computer. I mean, for the longest time, I was known for being Justin's "photo bitch." And as awesome as it was--and still is, when I haven't already beaten him to the punch--to be given his extra copies, it's really fucking cool not having to wait.

I love taking photos of all of my friends and family. If I've learned anything these last two years, it's that a.) life is short and b.) happy times can be even shorter. For better or worse, photos can make them last forever. This may have been the best purchase I've made since my iPod.

Yeah, this is kind of a short entry, but like last year, it's getting to that point where I'm running out of creative steam and I just really don't have much else to say, at this point. In other words, be expecting a mid-season finale until January. You should see my script. I'm stuck on page 130. Fuck.

On a personal note regarding the camera, better late than never, right?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


A show of hands, please, from all of the people who read this blog that don't already know I'm a total geek. a lot of you know this already. Great!!

Yes, I have and will always embrace the geeky side of life. It's in my nature. As far back as I can remember, I've been a superhero fiend. Growing up, my dad and I collected comic books together. Friday night would be our night to head over to the Cosmic Comics and Science Fiction in Harvey Oaks Plaza and pick up the latest Marvel, Darkhorse, DC and Image books [BLOGGER'S NOTE: On a personal note regarding Image Comics: FUCK YOU, ROB LIEFELD, YOU LITTLE TWERP!! Your art sucked and your professionalism in the comic book industry was a smear in the annals of the medium!! No man should wait 9 months between comic books!! Douchebag!! That is all.]

The comic book store was like my own little retreat, my fortress of solitude. Of course, since I couldn't drive at the time, it was a fortress of solitude for two. I used to love hunting through the boxed jungles of plastic bags and boards, each containing a binded, nail-biting story of heroes, villains and vigilantes. I wanted to be a superhero. Okay, I didn't even really care if I had superpowers. I just wanted to fight crime in a costume.

Is that weird? Yeah. It kind of is.

I mean, let's think about it for a second. It's pretty ridiculous, the whole concept of putting on some goofy-as-fuck costume and saying to yourself, "Tonight, I'm gonna go out and fight the forces of evil." It is. I mean, in the real world, if someone pulled that shit, we'd probably have them committed. I mean, what a wacko, right? I mean, tights? Really? Hello?!

And yet, in the world of comic books, it's widely accepted. Truth be told, I always wanted to live in that world. I always felt safer when I read comic books. Maybe it was because--even for just a little while--I was able to believe in a world where, even though danger lurked around every corner, masked heroes could swoop in and save the day...a world where justice would always be served.

Which is why I'm actually fairly shocked and slightly embarrassed that I'm finally getting around to reading Alan Moore's groundbreaking, Hugo Award-winning 1985 masterpiece, "Watchmen." It's considered to be the Greatest Graphic Novel of All Time. I mean, this baby has it all: Costumed avengers, pirates, action, flashbacks, sex and brutal intensity. It was truly made with the comic book geek in mind.

What makes it so special is that it doesn't just portray all of the costume crusaders as earnest do-gooders. These masked avengers are all-too-human. While the main storyline (i.e. former superheros brought out of retirement to solve the murder of one of their own, even as the country is on the brink of a third World War) is brilliantly realized by Moore and artist Dave Gibbons, it's the characters that, for me, are paramount to the whole "Watchmen" enterprise.

These aren't cuddly people. Many of them are "damaged goods" with emotional and/or mental problems. Others are rotten to the core (one hero was actually a Nazi sympathizer--and you just know how I feel about that--while another shoots the pregnant Vietnamese mother of his child during the War in Vietnam).

And yet, they are compelled to do what they do. Because it's right. Not only is the story and the characters bad-ass to the gazillionth degree, it's also sexy as hell. It makes wearing a costume almost fetishistic--and not even in a "Batman and Robin," rubber nipples kind of way. There are some pretty steamy things that go on in this graphic novel--especially for a "funny book": there's nudity galore: butts, breasts and penises are all bared.

In other words, this is not your friendly neighborhood "Spiderman."

This is popular fiction at its most adult and gritty. And I love every frame of it. Each new chapter--hell, each new page--reveals a new layer to the story that you'll never predict.

I'm sure that most of you fellow geeks reading this are probably saying to yourselves, "WELL, DUHHHH!!" But you have to realize, it's been a really long time since I cracked open a comic book. In a way, I'm sort of like one of the Watchmen: coming out of retirement.

The movie comes out next March and I'm sure that Zach Snyder, the dude who directed last year's "300" (also based on a popular graphic novel), will do as much justice as can be done for such a dense, rich book. At the same time, how can it live up to the brilliance of its pulp namesake?

It won't. It's can't. It shouldn't. It will be what it is and if Snyder gets it even half as fucking fantastic as the graphic novel, we should all be thankful.

The trailers have been awesome. Like, I think I'm having a boner awesome.

Goddamn, I can't wait 'til March 9.

In fact, like Dr. Manhattan, I already am there.

Oh, and before I leave, a question for you, dear readers...

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Monday, November 3, 2008


Tomorrow, I will be heading out to vote for Barak Obama.

Yes, it will be the first time I'm voting Democrat. Yes, you can take as many swings at me as you wish after I say this: I voted for Dubya not once, but twice.

And the truth is, I still really don't know what Obama stands for besides "hope and change!" Does anyone? Really?

All I know is that Obama, to me, if elected, will be a game changer. And I think that's just what this country needs. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing but respect for McCain as a war hero. The guy is a class act in my book. But I just see this country and what Bush has done to it. I mean, really, since the Civil War, have we ever been more at odds with ourselves as a country? And for that matter, have we ever been more hated by other countries? Half the world thinks America is one giant, bloody tampon rag for Chrissakes!!

The idea that, if McCain wins the election, we could be in for four more years of the same shit, truly frightens the piss out of me.

And maybe Obama is an arrogant prick. Maybe he will turn out to be a horrible fucking president.
Who knows? Maybe this and maybe that. Either way, it's gotta be better than what we've got sitting in the Oval Office, right now.

Give peace a chance? Fuck that. Let's give it up for hope and change!!

Love him or hate him, I think we all need a fresh start.

Each and every one of us.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Hal's Terrible, Horrible, Sorta Good, Very Bad Day

Today was supposed to be a good day. By all accounts, it should have been a good day.

I mean, hell, I found out today that I'm a permanent writer for The Reader, not just a Joe Schmo, dude-off-the-street freelancer. Starting this week, my name will be at the front of the paper with the rest of the Editorial Contributors.

This is what I've wanted since Day 1!! And my wish was finally granted!!!

And then, at my other job, like a rug swept out from under me, my caring, understanding, nurturing, tolerant boss (there's an acronym in there somewhere, boys and girls. Go nuts!) pulled me away from my desk and told me I'm on the verge of being fired from my job, that I got a U (read: failing grade) on my latest monitoring and, in turn, would receive a second written warning for doing so.

Oh, and it gets much, much better!! On a call, last week, I asked a colleague of mine for help and they--by misunderstanding me, to be sure-- led me to the wrong answer, which I gave to the agent on my line, which she passed to her manager, who passed it on to MINE!!!!

So, basically, I received two written warnings just last week in addition to the one I already had received in February (which, in all fairness, I deserved)!! My manager--God bless her and her Grand Slam people skills--told me that she had every intention of "terming" (terminating) me, but the Powers That Be decided to combine the last two warnings into one and spare me for another day.

In other words, right now, I'm livin' on the edge, livin' on a prayer and livin' on borrowed time. Long story short: I'm just livin'.


Look, it's not exactly a secret that I hate my job. I've always been fairly vocal about that fact on this here blog o' mine. I mean, I love my co-workers (well, most of them. Odds are, if you're reading this, you needn't lose any sleep, 'cuz I think you're swell) but I despise the endless, unnecessary duties that upper-management heap upon the shoulders of myself and my team (usually, because corporate hasn't a clue how and where else to delegate the work) and the utter bullshit, backstabbing bureaucracy that runs rampant within my
department and the company.

But goddammit...I do my job. And I try to do it well.

For a long time, I won't lie, I stopped caring. I gave up and just didn't give a shit. About any of it. I gave up. I mean, let's face it, I've been at my place of employment for over eight years (fuuuuuuuck) and I was over it by year five. How the fuck people make it to the Quarter Century Club is, to me, one of life's Big The Bermuda Triangle, Amelia Earhart and that powdery cheese stuff in Kraft Mac & Cheese!!

But since February, when I got that first written warning, I've tried to keep things in perspective. I may not like my job, but I do need my job. I do care about my job. Whether I hate it or not, I want to do well.

For the U I received, my boss caught me on a bad day. I won't lie and I won't make any excuses. I gave the agent the wrong answer. It was an accident. It was careless. There you have it: she got me...dead-bang. But unlike several months ago, when I couldn't have given a shit whether I gave the right answer or not, these days, I come to work with my A game on and I play to win. When I gave that answer, in my heart of hearts, I thought it was the correct one. I was wrong. And that's why I'm so utterly disgusted with myself. It makes me ask questions I no longer have an answer to and, as a result, frustrate me to high Heaven: Have I lost it? Even at my best, am I no longer fit for this job?

I will say this, in my defense, my boss hates me. It's not an excuse. It just is. I know it and most of my co-workers know it, too. She's not subtle. She plays favorites and she talks about me behind my back which, of course, gets back to me. Why? Well--spoiler alert!!--we live in the Real World and, news flash, people fucking talk!! And make no mistake, if I do get fired, I will not go down without a fight.

So, yeah, today was supposed to be a good day.

And, to a certain extent, it was. I'm proud of the direction my writing career is taking. As for my job-job, well, who knows, maybe this will be the kick in the junk that I need to start looking seriously into getting a new job. You know, one that doesn't make me want to blow serious chunks all over my
undersized sweat pants-wearing, socially inept, buck-passing boss whenever I see her nod her head, go "oh, yeah! Yep! Yep!" and smile condescendingly at me.

Wait, wait, wait!! That gives me an idea...

Got Ipecac?

Monday, October 13, 2008


Oh, what a week I'm having!!

Talking about going from the sublime to the ridiculous.

In the course of three days, I went from interviewing Tracy Morgan from "SNL" and "30 Rock" for a feature story to reviewing the man, the myth, the legend that is Pauly Shore ("OWWWWWWW...bud-dy!") as he performed live at the Funny Bone.

In regards to the latter, well, let's just say I can do reviews in my sleep. That type of writing has always been my specialty--opinionated shit. After all, you know what they say: Opinions are like assholes. Some just stink more than others.

The Tracy Morgan piece, however, I'm pretty fucking proud of. It's my first celebrity interview and, yes, it's gonna actually be published. I won't lie. I was extremely nervous as I was getting ready to talk to him. I mean, this guy is known for his crazy antics and his in-your-face brand of comedy. Hell, the few times I sat front row center at a comedy club, I nearly shit myself in fear when the comedian addressed/made fun of me.

So, actually talking to a comedian and a major Hollywood star one-on-one, to me, was as exhilarating as it was daunting. No, I take that back. I was fucking terrified!! I mean, I'm just this geeky, awkward Jewish writer with basically zero experience interviewing anyone. [BLOGGER'S NOTE: Shit, he can't even get through job interviews without breaking a sweat--and with those, his only requirement is that he blather on about the one thing he's great at talking about: Himself!!!]

How green can you get, right?!

In the end, though, despite my nervous laughter and my tendency to talk over him, I think I did a good job at drawing information. I won't lie, I'm sure I sounded like a newbie, and a couple of times, he became a little volatile regarding certain topics--nature of the beast, I guess, when it comes to interviews--but I think Tracy and I got along really well. In fact, we had a pretty hilarious back and forth regarding the many variations of how to use the word "motherfucker." I laughed my ass off (and that, my friends, is a lot of ass!!), during that point in the interview.

So, yeah, ultimately, I had a good time with Tracy. He's a fun, genial dude with a lot to say.

A little on the cranky side, but whatever.

God, I love being a writer. What a rewarding week.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Writer's Gift

I once wrote that it's not easy being a writer. I stand by that statement.

There are many of us, out there, who are just no good at saying the things we truly feel, so we write it down. We lay ourselves out on the line on paper or electronically. It's our way of drawing out the shit that's inside of us.

And sometimes, like with anyone, we tend to go a little nuts. we write things that we don't really mean. It happens.

Last night, I didn't mean what I wrote. Well, I did and I didn't.

I did in the sense that I miss the hell out of her--you. Sometimes, so much that it hurts. And I know that, at this point, maybe you're wishing I'd just shut the fuck up about it, that I'd just let it go. Maybe you hate me. I don't know. And I suppose that one day, I will be able to let it go. Maybe it will be a week, a month, a year. Who knows? I certainly don't. All I know is that one day, in time, my heart will settle down and stop beating so quickly, so hard, every time I think about what was gained and what was lost. Again.

I didn't, however, mean what I wrote when I seemed to imply that I wasn't proud of all that I've accomplished in such a short time. That's not fair to me nor is it fair to all of those who have given me such encouragement, such positive and negative feedback, during these last few months. I am so very proud to have such a wonderful group of friends that provide a never-ending supply of love and support, a family that would suffer any embarrassment or irritation and indignation that I heap upon them because of their unadulterated love for me.

I am a truly blessed man.

Last night, well, what can I say? I was feeling sorry for myself. I threw a pity party and I was the Guest o' Honor.

I am going to keep writing this script. I am not going to give up. I made a promise. And I intend to keep it. But here's the thing. When I made that promise, I think, deep down it was a promise to myself more than anyone else. This is a story, loosely-based or not, that I will hold dear to me for all time.

It's the story of my life.

Someone's gotta tell it.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Dr. Horrible

So, I watched "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog," the other day.

For those unfamiliar with it, it's a three-part online fantasy/musical/comedy (!) from Joss Whedon, the criminally brilliant mind behind the "Buffy," "Angel" and "Firefly"/"Serenity" universes. It boasts a bravura turn from Neil Patrick Harris (DOOGIE!!!! Man, that guy's got talent to spare) as an aspiring--but misunderstood--super villain. Nathan Fillian is superhero Captain Hammer, Horrible's arch nemesis. The absolutely lovely (and completely crush-worthy) Felicia Day is Penny, the object of both mens' desire.

So, yeah. long story short, the shy, awkward Dr. Horrible wants to rule the world, defeat the arrogant, air-headed "corporate tool" that is Captain Hammer and win Pennie's heart. And without getting into details about the events that unfold, Horrible gets what he wants. But in tragic Joss Whedon fashion, he loses everything, too. In the end, none of it really matters to him.

These days, I sympathize with Dr. Horrible. It's like, lately, I'm finally on the upward swing. I'm writing for a pretty big paper in Omaha, I'm going to be doing my first celebrity interview with Tracy Morgan, I'm getting my stuff out there and I'm writing a script that a lot of people seem to be digging. I'm even talking to a couple of gals that seem genuinely interested in me. I should be happy! These are high times for me!! Finally!!

I'm not going to lay down any bullshit in this one. Most of y'all who read this know what my script is about, what it means to me, why I'm so fucking passionate about it. A good friend of mine, Joel, the other day, asked me if I was okay, emotionally, with writing what I was writing. I understood what he was asking and I appreciated him asking it, but truth of the matter was, yeah...I was fine. Peachy keno. Perf!

Until Saturday night, early Sunday morning. That was rough.

I wrote a scene involving the lead character, Brody, calling up his soul mate Mia, one year later, after he'd told her to take a hike. He tells her that he'd tied up whatever loose ends that had needed to be tied and that he was wanting to try things again if she was willing to do so. But it's too late. She's married. There's a teary, gut-wrenching goodbye and it ends with her by herself crying.

Fade to black.

Now, she and I both know that that, in real life, that phone call never happened. The conversation took place online, home of inexpression and textual misunderstandings. And to be honest, I really don't know if there were any tears on her end. What I do know, however, is that, looking back, I'm glad it didn't happen on the phone, because I was a mess just writing the fucker. I can only imagine what I would have been like in Real Life. I would have had to hang up on her.

That fucking scene truly took the piss out of me.

Not just the writing of it, but just...what it meant. For me, it wasn't just a scene that I was writing. Creative liberties or not, it was a moment in my life that I was reliving, putting it down on paper. A moment that, I think, truly shaped my mentality on Love and Romance; how, well, timing truly is everything.

In other words, that scene opened a Pandora's Box of old wounds, demons and emotions. And I so should have seen this coming, too.

I'm finally getting where I want to be, I have all this good shit happening, and yeah, it's nice to be writing my goddamn heart out again. I'm working my ass off on this script
, working toward a great finished product!! But what then? What the fuck do I have to show for it?! Yeah, it will be splendid to have gotten everything out of my system!! Sure, it would be amazing to (cross your fingers) see it up on the screen, but what then? A round of applause? A million "atta boys!" and/or pats on the back? Money?!

Great! Super!! Fan-fucking-tastic!!

But see, the truth is...

I still miss you.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Getting Strong Now!!!

I'm on page 52 of "Five Years Apart."

To quote the late, great Steve Gates: "FUCK, YEAH!!!!!!!"

That is all. :o)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"Tuesday's Gone"

The one...!!

The only...!!

Enjoy the show!!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Can You Dig It?

Who would want to see this?!

That's what I thought to myself, many, many moons ago, when I was reviewing a movie for my high school newspaper, The Hoofbeat.

The film in question, which I actually loved, was Neil LaBute's 2008 squirm-inducing (in a good, uncomfortable way) "Your Friends & Neighbors." The film, starring Ben Stiller, Jason Patric, Catherine Keener, Nastassja Kinski and--Mr. Two-Face himself--Aaron Eckhart, was about a bunch of unpleasant, supremely unlikable people and their relationships with one another--sexual or otherwise. It was one of those good train wreck movies where you have to watch through your fingers because the confrontations are so intense and charged with hate and bile.

You ever hear the phrase, let the fur fly? This movie is exactly why that phrase was created.

Anyway, being the masochist that I am, I was the only one in the theater, I think, who gave the sneak preview I went to positive marks. After the film ended, people--the ones beside myself, anyway, that were brave enough to watch the film in its entirety--were practically screaming at the sweet-as-pie comment card girls, grabbing them by the lapels and spraying all kinds of mucus, spittle and bile in their faces. Thinking back now, perhaps the movie had done its job better than those audience members would have ever cared to admit at the time.

Huh. Go figure.

I never wrote the review. I thought to myself, there is no one--not a soul!!--that I could recommend this film to (especially not to those reading a high school newspaper!!). I'd be lynched!!

So, again, I asked myself Who would want to see this?! In other words, in my eyes anyway, I dropped the ball. Let's think about this for a second: For ever 30-50 people who would have read that review [BLOGGER'S NOTE: Who the fuck are you kidding, dude?! It's a goddamn high school newspaper!! Who's gonna read that shit?! I mean, half the football team couldn't even read!! For serious!! Get the fuck over yourself, STAT!!] and hated the movie with a bloody passion, there might be one person, maybe two, who might have come out of that movie feeling as invigorated as I did when I left the theater. See, there is always someone out there, waiting to be touched.

Even if it's a touch of toxic.

Anyhow, I only bring the movie up because yesterday, I had my dad read the first 37 pages of my script (Think fast!! As of right now, I'm up to page 43. My, my, pages fly!!)

I believe the words he used to describe it were, to be exact, "self-indulgent psychoanalysis." He also added, "no one will want to see it."

Yeah? What's your point?

I may as well add that when I asked him if there was anything he did like, his response was "no, not really."

Here's the dealio, people. That hurt. That stung!! I mean, I'm used to receiving criticism (hello, Anonymous!), but that came from the person I admire most. He would never admit it, but I could see it in his eyes: The man hated my script.

But here's the thing. After I got to thinkin' 'bout it, and with the help of another truly gifted writer I respect and admire immensely, I was able to reach a conclusion that I've always had trouble coming to grips with.

Simply put: Not everyone's gonna dig my shit.

So, my dad doesn't like my script. Big deal. No, this is not me getting defensive about it or doing the whole bitter grapes thing. I'd like to think of it as me growing as a writer. You can't write everything for the masses. And even if you do, there are bound to be people that you will, without a doubt, disappoint. C'est la vie!

Sometimes, you just have to write for you.

And this script? This gigantic, epic thing I've been writing/obsessing over for the last month? It's very, very personal. As many of you have come to realize, whether it be from reading the script itself or by just reading between the lines of several of my latest entries, this thing is very much autobiographical. Yes, the names are changed, but it's a story of great sadness in my life, but it's also one of the dizzying, happiest times of my life.

And believe me when I say this: It's not just for me I'm writing it. You know who you are.

So, who is going to want to see this movie?

Everyone. Or no one. The truth is, I really don't care.

Later on, I asked my dad if he, in his opinion, thought I should stop writing it. You know, was it worth pushing forward and finishing it? Without hesitation, he answered "yes." When I asked him why, he responded with a very interesting answer:

"Because it's important to you."

At first I thought that was a completely condescending cop out on his part--and to a certain extent, I still do--but now I just have two things to say in response...

1.) Fair enough and 2.) Damn straight.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Break the Cycle

It all started with good ol' "Law & Order."

I was sitting at the kitchen table with my folks on a Sunday afternoon, a few months ago, having brunch. I asked my dad, "what's on tonight? What are we watching?" He answered back, "Law & Order: Criminal Intent,"

Wait a second
, I thought. That already happened. We just watched that. What the fuck?! But we hadn't just watched that. In fact, a week had passed by between the two episodes.

Had I somehow lost a week of my life? No, of course not. That's fuckin' stupid. No, I was very aware of myself and my actions. I just let time pass me by. It's like I let it flow through me rather than flow with it. Story of my life.


So, what's, ah, little OCD boy to do? Break the cycle. Or, at least, try my best to.

Lately, I've been trying my damndest to stay away from "do-overs." If something feels like it's becoming routine, I switch things up. I'm determined not to live my life, Nick at Nite style. Constant reruns.

Still, to a certain extent, there are some traditions worth keeping.

Yeah, I still spend my Sundays at the folk doing laundry, but I usually leave afterward.
In and out, ya know. Plus, I now have detergent and bleach at my place, too. That way, if I want to make plans or, ya know, not spend the whole day waiting for laundry, I can just do it at my place and hang out, do whatever, ya know?

I think it's healthy to spend time with my family. I love my family. I just don't know if it's healthy to spend all of my time with them. I don't want them to think that I need them, that I depend on them.

Don't think for a second that I don't know how harsh that sounds. I don't mean to be a dick when I say that. I just can't have my life stuck in a constant, never-ending loop.

Then again, there is Chinese Friday night. Can't miss that, right? That tradition is nearly 15 years old! How can I break that?!

Well, I I can do whatever I want. It's my life.

And I want to live my life...not recycle it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Screenwriting 101

It was supposed to be an epic romance, an affair to remember.

And make no mistake, it was, is, and will be that, but I think I'm going to take "Five Years Apart" in a different direction.

It's going to have everything I originally planned, content-wise, but I think there are deeper, richer themes t
han that of romance and--in keeping with what I wrote in my last entry--Happily Ever After that should be emphasized.

Now, I don't want to mislead people. The movie is still about love: pure unadulterated, intoxicating love. It's going to be a very romantic movie. But as we all know, sometimes, for better or worse, things just don't turn out the way you want them to turn out. That's one idea that this script is really going to explore in-depth, as well as delving into themes of family, responsibility, that grey area we all know as Right & Wrong and, ultimately, self-actualization.

I think, for this movie to truly work, I think the characters need to grow up, learn a little before they get what they want. And for one or two of the characters, just like in Real Life, what they want isn't what they're necessarily gonna get in the end, even after they make positive (or negative, depending on how one looks at the behaviors of the characters) changes in their lives.

Speaking of growing up, I'm cutting the character that's based on me pretty close to the bone and, in writing this character, not gonna lie, I'm really nervous about whether or not people are going to embrace him or not.

He's kind of a whiner. I mean, he cries...a lot. Not only that, but he's a creature of habit to the extreme. Not only that, but he's kind of, well, a depressed person. The opening scene pretty much explains him to a T. We find him getting dumped by a girl who thinks he's a really sweet guy, but he's just too much. He's always on. He's an onion of neuroses with layers upon layer of quirks.

But what kind of a story would it be if our hero didn't experience some sort of growth? It would be flat, static, and one-note.

Here's the thing: I don't want this movie to have any villains.

I don't want to necessarily judge any of my characters. They're just people doing what they think is right for them at any given moment. They are people who aren't bad, just complicated. They are people who are misunderstood. In other words, characters we thought were complete douchebags in the beginning may become more sympathetic as the story progresses, while, on the other hand, characters who we maybe were rooting for in the beginning might become less likable. And then things might just double back again. Who knows?

Well, me, actually. Only I know how this movie ends.

The truth is, there's a lot of fertile ground to explore in this script of mine. And lucky for me, a lot of it is Based On A True Story.

Well, at least 90% of it. The names and places were changed to protect the innocent and, well, the less so.

Seventeen pages down, five years to go.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

All The Small Things

So, my story got cut.

You know, the one with the CSI: NY guy? Yeah, they they deep-sixed it.

Basically, my people couldn't get a hold of his people. I found out about two days prior to the due date (Friday, 9/5, at noon) that the story wasn't going to happen.

And ya know? I was okay with that. And I'll tell ya why.

Last Tuesday, I knew we were getting close to the wire and the window for my editor to get a contact, much less an interview scheduled for me, was getting smaller and smaller. Plus, she had a funeral to go to that day. She asked me if I could make a few calls, do my own little investigation.

So, I did some Googling and I found a name and a number for the Director of Development for the gala and he put me in touch with the Executive Director of the organization sponsoring the gala, the top of the food chain, and I was able to conduct a half-hour phone interview with her. I learned a lot about her nonprofit organization.

Alas, they cut the story.

The reason I'm okay with it is because my editor was so impressed with all of the legwork I put in and my resourcefulness, that she asked me if I'd still be willing to write a shorter version of the story (of course!). She also informed me that, because of my hard work, she'd keep me in mind for a lot more stories in the future.

See, it all worked out in the end.

Several months ago, I wrote about how I had to believe in happy endings, that I had to believe in the idea that good things come to those who wait. Well, I still believe in happy endings.

I don't think that will ever go away.

However, I think I now lack that bit of boyish, naive optimism that embraces the notion of Happily Ever After. There are no grand, sweeping finales in this life, no neatly gift-wrapped packages.

And the more I think about it, that's probably the way it should be.

For me, happiness for me has always been about the small triumphs, the tiny victories, the random acts of kindness, tenderness, selflessness that can occur each and every day. Happiness, for me anyway, is when I can go to bed, each night, close my eyes, sigh, and think to myself, ya know what? I have an amazing group of friends and a wonderful family that loves me...or Today was a good day. I did a good job with this and/or that and I'm proud of myself.

[BLOGGER'S NOTE: WTF?!?! Watch! I guaran-fucking-tee you that, any second now, he's going to write "love means not ever having to say you're sorry." Wait for it!! It's like, hey, who's up for a quick round of "Kumbaya?!" Jesus, what a sappy-ass entry this is!! Oh, well. It's his fuckin' blog. I guess he can do whatever hell he wants with it, so whatevs. Who the hell am I, right?]

It's all about the Little Things.

I mean, really...if we all attained True Happiness in one fell swoop, whether it be in the form of another person ("wuv....TWUE WUV!!" as the late, great Peter Cook exclaimed in "The Princess Bride") or otherwise, what would be the point of living? What would give us that forward push, that drive to keep moving forward.

It brings up that age-old question of what do you give the person who has everything???

Do I have everything I want? Of course not. And I probably never will. But that's the point of life. It's not about what you don't have. It's about what you have and, for some people, it's about what you can live with. It's is not about the finish line. It's about the fight, the slow, upward climb and having the knowledge that you did everything you could to get to where you wanted to be, needed to be.

Though, there's no harm in hoping and wishing for the best.

Today, I got on the stairmaster at my local Jewish Community Center and I went nearly two minutes without having to hold the sides for support, due to my bad balance. That's two minutes more than what I've been able to do in the past.

That, right there, is a Happy Ending, a little something to cheer about.

And yeah, in this cruel, sometimes unfair world we live in, I'll take it with a smile.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Scene It, Done It

For those parties interested, I have officially completed the first scene of my new script, "Five Years Apart."

Gotta say, I'm a little rusty in terms of remembering all the different formatting hot keys with my good ol' Final Draft screenwriting software, but I'm gettin' there.

I decided to give my old alcoholic screenwriting teacher the finger and forgo the 12-point plot outline. I'm just diving into this fucker and, I've gotta's high time indeed. I know exactly where I'm going on this one.

Sort of like my life, these days.

As the kids, these days, like to say. Team Hal is full of WIN!!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Shelter From The Storm

No, this blog is not becoming a G-dfest.

But I just want to write that, despite what I wrote about G-d being lame when it comes to the bringing The Funny, I also believe He/She/It is a compassionate G-d, who listens to our prayers with an open heart.

For further proof of this, all you need to do is look at Gustav (lame fucking name for a storm, by the way, if you ask me. Why the hell don't they give these storms a bad ass name, Gordon, Garcia or, oooooh, Guster!!! Forget Hannah, man!! How about--and I'm just throwin' it out there--Hal?). We prayed and he most certainly listened.

This could have been so much worse.

And to whom it may concern, I'm glad everyone is safe and sound.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Greatest Joke Ever Told

Ya know, way back in the day, when I was a sad little boy trapped inside the walls of a hospital, my dream was to become a world-famous comedian.

Yeah, you heard me.

I would plunge myself into the bajillions of joke books that people would bring me as gifts, apparently trying to cheer me up (it worked, guys! A very belated thanks to all of you's!!!) and laugh myself silly. I would then proceed to annoy my parents and whoever would come and visit me by repeatedly telling the same jokes, over and over and over again.

[BLOGGER'S NOTE: Just to clarify, after a certain point, during my luxurious, 18-week stay at Immanuel Hospital, I began to regain enough mobility in my upper body that I could hold and turn the pages of a book. That, and flop about in my bed to the sounds of Billy Joel on my Walkman. Strangely enough, even with upward- and lower-body mobility, my dancing has not improved. In fact, my dance moves have curiously remained the same as when I was paralyzed. Go figure.]

In other words, I really haven't changed much since age seven, have I? I'm still saying and doing anything I can to get a laugh or a smile out of The Next Guy (or Gal), even going so far as pushing it down their throats and/or humiliating myself in the process. Anyone who has seen me rubbing lotion all over my half-naked body or wearing nothing but cut-off jean shorts in a shower--and for those who have seen it, you know that's not even the half of it!!--in Mr. Erik's now-legendary (infamous?) "Tuesday's Gone" music video needs no further proof of the above.

However, of all the jokes that I've read or told, none of them can hold a candle to the one delivered by one of the characters in Noah Baumbach's splendid-yet-little-seen 1995 film, "Kicking & Screaming." The joke goes as such:

How do you make G-d laugh? Make a plan.

At the risk of getting off the subject for a moment, the film revolves around a group of college graduates who have no clue what to do with their lives, once they finish school. As a result of this sort of paralyzing fear of the unknown (sound familiar?), they stick around campus, providing witty, sarcastic commentary on life as they know it--as that very same life simultaneously passes them by. It's a very funny movie that deals with post-college life and relationships realistically and honestly.

I love it.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. It's not like I hadn't heard a variation of that joke before. Growing up in my parents' house, I'd always hear my mom say "we make plans and G-d laughs."

It always stuck with me. It's so true.

We always have these grand plans when we're young. We think that as soon as we graduate college (or whatever our idea or point of Look, ma! I'm all growed up is), we're just automatically gonna be spoon-fed our shimmery, shiny, gold-tinged dreams: A job (CHECK!), marriage (CHECK!), children, a house, two cars (CHECK, CHECK, CHECK!!), et cetera, et cetera. Since my own college graduation, I've come to realize that's the biggest joke of all.

And it's almost always on us.

I'm not exactly proud to say this, but I haven't been to shul (synagogue) since May. It has nothing to do with me not believing in G-d. It's not like that at all. I believe in Him/Her/It. I do. I just think G-d's sense of humor is a bit too much for me to take sometimes.

So, yes. I have surpassed the I don't believe in G-d phase of my life and have now reached the What's it all mean, G-d? phase. I guess I'm moving up in the world. I dunno.

Here's the thing: The reason I used to not believe in G-d was because of all the bad shit that happened in the world. Ya know? I use to say things like, "How could G-d let the terrorists do that?" or "If there's a G-d, how could He let The Holocaust happen?"

I would always get the same reply or, at least, a variation of it. It all came down to the fact that G-d gave us free will.

Ah, yes. Free will: The ultimate cop out.

Okay, people. Maybe I'm an idiot (and if you think I am, well, take a number!), but if G-d has a plan and it's all part of G-d's plan, then where the
does the free will part come in? You can't have both an Almighty Plan AND free will?! Wouldn't the two things cancel each other out?!

What the
?!'s the the deal: I believe that G-d has given us free will. However, I also believe that every once in a while, The Big Guy likes to look into our lives and say to Himself, "This shit is getting booooorrrrrring. Maybe if I just--no, I couldn't! Well, maybe...I could just pull this one...little...string and.......whoopsy daisy! Did I do that?! Oh, well. What's done is done, I guess. Man, oh man, this is gonna be GOOD!! This is gonna be so GREAT!!"

It's like a group of TV writers that trap themselves in a corner (read: "Alias" or "Prison Break"). You know what I mean? It's like the writers have this ongoing, labyrinthine plot and then, when they themselves have no idea what the hell is happening on their own show, they throw in a twist in the season finale that has nothing to do with anything, that changes everything we know about the show, rendering almost all of what's come before as superfluous and, ultimately, pointless. And then a character arches a oh-so menacing eyebrow and proclaims--wait for it!!--"HA! Just as I planned!!"

I've come to the conclusion that G-d likes to put us in sticky situations so he can watch us squirm, wriggle around and, ultimately (but not always, because variety is, after all, the spice of life, right?) claw our way out. Truth be told, G-d would be an amazing TV sitcom producer. In fact, I'm pretty much convinced, at this point, that many of the television producers of the '70s were, indeed, touched by The Hand of G-d.

I can just totally see one of the Deity-inspired pitches:

Hey, fellas! Put down your cigars!! Have I got a pitch for you!! Not sure where it came from, but here goes!! We've got a male swinger livin' with two buxom broads! But wait 'til ya get a load o' dis one!! You ready?! He's gotta pretend to be one o' them homosexuals my daughter keeps tellin' me about!! You know?! To fool their wacky, old-fashioned landlords?! Can you imagine all the hijinks?! Wouldn't that be just a real riot?!?!

Look, I believe in G-d.

I love G-d and I truly, in my heart, believe that G-d, for all of the crap he's thrown my way throughout the year, loves me. There is a Higher Authority out there, people. He's watching us. And, yes, as paranoid as I can be, sometimes--not always, but sometimes--I take great comfort knowing that G-d is watching over me. It is G-d who has helped me get to this point in my life.

And that, most certainly, is not a bad thing at all.

I just think that sometimes, He/She/It has a really shitty sense of humor and really, really bad comedic timing.

No Smoking!!!

It's been two years!! AT LEAST!!

There is no rhyme and there is certainly no reason reason for this, but in the last two days, I have had these major cigarette cravings!!

No, for the record, I have NOT acted on them.

Thank G-D!! But it's getting bad.

I am not stressed. I am not unhappy. In fact, I am happier than I have been in ages, what with my writing finally taking off again and getting my mojo back. Cigarettes should be the last thing on my mind, right now, at this point in my life.

I mean, in the 2+ years since I quit smoking, I've had cravings here and there, but I have not smoked one cigarette. But these cravings--the ones that I've been having for the last few days--have been BRUTAL!!!

Why is this happening?!? Like I need this shit, ya know?


I will not smoke cigarettes. I won't. I love being able to breathe, exercise without gasping for air (most of the time) and/or coughing. I enjoy being able to taste everything that goes into my mouth (yeah, I know how that sounded. Being serious now, right now, folks).

I hate Bronchitis and Smoker's Cough is awful.


You ain't gonna get me, this time!!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ne Me Quitte Pas

The other night, I wrote that ultimately, I'm the only one who can make myself happy. While that is absolutely true, sometimes, I need to get a little help from my friends.

Ya know, when I think of my group of friends, I picture one of those photo mosaic collages, where all the little photos are arranged to make one larger photo or picture. Every little bit helps. If one little piece goes missing, the picture just looks a
Well, lately, a few of those photos have gone away or, soon enough, will be leaving my collage.

I'm not going to lie: It's something I've been dreading.

Don't get me wrong. I'm excited for their accomplishments and optimistic about their futures. Make no mistake, I love my friends with everything I'm made of--more than myself, sometimes--and I want nothing but the best for them when it comes to their health, happiness and successes. but still...It sucks knowing that they won't always be around, that we won't be able to hang out at a moment's notice or that the weekly traditions we had will now be considered as "special occasions." And no, never before has the phrase "only a phone call away" sounded more dreary and depressing.

What can I say? I'm a needy person. I need my friends.
I've said it once and I'll never stop saying it: They are truly the lights of my life.

It's the Tinas, Kevins, Justins, Eriks, Marys (DING!! There you go, sweetie! Your first mention!!), Courtneys, Matteos, Crystals, Dereks, Sharons, Andys, Joels, Joes, Glens/Waynes/DJ Magics, Heathers, Sergios, Saras, Sarahs, Clarks, Evans, Cowboy Curtises, Kristis, Christinas, Nicholes, Stephanies, Matts, Kyles, Sams, Amandas, Russes, Tammys and Trees that help make life just a little more bearable on a day to day basis.

Yeah, like I said, ultimately, I'm the guy who has to flip the switch when it comes to getting my life started and making myself happy, but knowing that I have so many absolutely wonderful, beautiful people behind me certainly makes it that much easier.

As many of you may or may not have heard, my Master Plan is to be gone, out of Omaha, by Jan. 31, 2009, when my lease goes up. The plan is to move to one of the following three places: Minneapolis, Philly or New Orleans.

Yeah, yeah, yeah...I know what y'all are thinking: Oh, shut the fuck up, Haliboot! You've been saying you're gonna move for years!! Give it UP!!!

And it's true. I have been planning on moving--or, at least, telling myself I will--for years, but it hasn't happened. I either lack the balls and chicken out or I end up running short in The Fundage Dept. This time, though, I'm going to make it happen if it kills me!! [BLOGGER'S NOTE: Wait. That doesn't make sense. I know that was supposed to sound persuasive and dramatic, but wouldn't, like, dying kind of defeat the purpose? That's kinda stupid. Oh, well. I'll shut up now. Keep going.] I've been online, looking up jobs at each of those places, doing research, looking at cost of living expenses. I've been trying to save money. I'm really trying to go the distance here.

Anyway, I think the reason that maybe I'm kind of getting all solemn about people leaving is that I realize that, as some of my closest friends begin to move away--or even just drift apart from me--and as I get closer to my projected move date, it's really getting closer to that point, ya know? That moment before you've reached the Final Destination. The calm before the storm.

The Beginning of the End.

Hold on tight to those photos.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Tomorrow Is My Time

I remember once convincing a whole group of people in a bar that I was this big-shot Hollywood screenwriter-producer-director.

The ultimate hyphenate. The Zach Braff of "The Big O."

I told them about this new film that I had just completed. It was done, completed, finí the can. They believed me. I had everyone in the room fooled.

Everyone, that is, but myself.

The truth is, up until recently, I hated going to places where people would have the potential to ask me what I do, what I've been up to and where I was headed.

Hated. It.

Because the truth is, up until recently, I didn't do much of anything (other than work at Marriott) and I sure as fuck had no idea where I was headed. Let's face it: These last few years, I've been stuck, living one day at a time, talking the talk, but never, ever walking the walk.

It's over. I'm done talking. The time to act has already begun.

Ya know? It's taken me years to figure this out, and now...I finally get it. I have to stop depending on all these external things that I think are gonna make me happy: A girlfriend, DVDs, shiny new toys (preferably ones that don't involve lubricant, thank you very much!!). For so long, I've been trying to get a girlfriend, that special someone who is going to be the source of all my happiness, the one who is going to complete me. I've gone on J-Date, I've been set up by different people, I've met people in bathrooms. [BLOGGER'S NOTE: okay...that was a one-time deal. Never again!!] But the truth is, the only person who can make me happy is me, myself and I.

I need to do better at taking care of myself, working on myself. I can't expect to love someone fully if I don't love myself, if I'm not a happy person. More importantly, I shouldn't put the brunt of responsibility for my ultimate happiness on anyone else's shoulders but my own.

Ya know, last year, I received an Anonymous comment (okay...I received a lot of anonymous comments, last year. But that's an ugly chapter in my life that I don't really like talking about anymore. Water under the bridge, ya know?) from my ex Liz's old roommate Nathan. It went like this:

save you? for fuck sake man, SAVE YOURSELF. if you sit there and yearn and pine for "ms. right" to just show up and sweep you off your feet, well you better have a comfortable chair and a damn good book on hand, because IT'S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. women in this world dont want to deal with the psychosis of a man who cant get his life in order. most of them want to mold you in to their "perfect man" but that starts with you. it starts with you being a man to begin with.

Harsh, right? I remember being so angry with that comment. I was enraged!! But ya know what? There is a bibles-worth of truth to it. I am done pining and I am done whining. From now on, I am going to really start focusing on getting my life together, working toward a career, actual endgame. I need to get myself back on track. The good news is that I'm well on my way. I'm done being the guy who is on the outside looking in at all the successful, happy people out there.

I'm done being stuck.

Wait. PAUSE!!!!!!

It's funny. I keep using that word, "stuck." But ya know? I don't know if it's applicable. No one is stuck. Not you. Not me. My life? Your life? It is what you make of it.

Ever since I got the job at that newspaper, The Reader, I have felt my confidence level rising each day.

Just the other day, I made a pitch to my editor to spearhead a TV page for the paper. It seems like a lot of publications have one, these days, and when it comes to TV, I am like a walking, talking TV encyclopedia. I know, live, breathe, eat and drink TV. I am knowledgeable about shows from the '50s until yesterday. Plus, with my experience heading a TV/Entertainment column at The Omaha Pulp for nearly two years, as well as that paper's entertainment page, I think I would be a great candidate to spearhead such a project.

It got shot down, but ya know what? I didn't care. I was just so pleased with myself--ecstatic really!!--for displaying such newfound hubris.

In fact, everything lately seems new and improved.

I got my first paycheck, yesterday. Do you know how fucking amazing that made me feel?! For the first time in four years, I was paid for my writing, my work! Sure, it was only $18.20, but it's a start. It's something I can work with.

That was yesterday.

Today, I was given my first major assignment! I am going to be covering a Gala hosted by one of the lead actors on CSI: NY. I'm actually going to be conducting my first celebrity interview!!! And to think that it was only three months ago that I was on my couch, crying over the big, bad choices I'd made in my past. Boo fuckin' hoo.

As Phil Collins once said, just take a look at me now.

For the first time in years, I am no longer saying to myself, great. Another day. Here we go again. On the contrary, I'm not saying a fucking thing.
My mouth is shut and my eyes are wide open.

Life is beginning for me. I can feel it coursing through me.

I'm ready.

Here we go...!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Tale of Two Cummings

So, a friend of mine, the other week, was bored at work and she wanted me to tell her a story.

Nothing specific.

Just something to help her pass the time. So, I racked my brain, trying to think of something good until, finally, it came to me: one of the funniest yarns that I have in my arsenal of Tall Tales and Legends.

And yes, it even beats The Legend of Crusty Nipple Girl, Bathroom Sally and The Fan of Death [BLOGGER'S NOTE: Trust me...ya don't wanna know 'bout the latter story. Hell, I don't even wanna know that story...and I fuckin' lived it!!]. Though, it's not quite as, um, unseemly.

So, with that, ladies and gentlemen....without further ado...tonight, I present to you...

Um, HELLO?!?! Read the fucking title head above, geniuses!! What? Do you need me to wipe your arses, too?!?!


Once upon a time, I had a major crush on this girl in high school named Kirsten. She was, like, the coolest girl. She wasn't super popular, but she was That Girl, the one that every guy secretly wanted. She had her nose pierced, she had long, blond hair (which is usually, ya know, not my bag. I've never really been one for blondes. I mean, who really needs that much fun, anyway?), big, saucer eyes, down to earth, easy to talk to. Loved indie films (she was the one that first introduced me to "Swingers.") She was awesome!

Anyway, after I finally grew some hair on my shmeckel, figuratively speaking, I invited her to my Halloween party. I thought for sure she'd say no, but she accepted my invitation and came at--er--to to my party. I was soooooo excited!!! I was like in a state of nerd euphoria!! I couldn't believe that The Girl of My Dreams was at my house ( parents house, but still...!!). Anyway, she got along really with my friends and we all had a blast.

The End.

...But not really.

So, a couple of weeks later, on a Friday, she approached me in sixth-period English and asked me out to a movie for later that night. Let's just say this: In that moment, I think I dropped about a good 10-15 pounds. Anything that I had eaten, two hours prior to our conversation, may as well have just gone in one end and out the other.

I. Freaked. On the inside, of course. Except for the smell. Hmmm... [BLOGGER'S NOTE: He's kidding, people. He didn't really shit himself. STOP IT, JACKASS!! You're embarrassing yourself!!]

Later that night, every fiber of me was giddy and tingly and excited. I paced around my parents foyer, looking forward to her grand arrival in my parents' driveway.

I waited. And I waited. And I waited...



...Until finally, she called me up to tell me that she was still getting ready (who "gets ready" for a movie?!?! I mean, really?! It's a fucking movie, for G-d's sake!! You are in the dark!! This ain't "Project Runway," yo!!) and that two of her guy pals, Zach and James, were going to pick me up instead of her.

Leave it to my mom and dad to be like, "we've gotta meet these guys before we let you drive with them." It was so embarrassing. I mean, here are are these guys I've never really talked to in high school, from my class, who were going to escort me to see the Love of My Life....and my parents wanted to, like, talk to them?!?!

About what?! Fuckin' world peace?! The conditions of the rain forests?! UGH!!

Anyway, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum got in and out my house really quickly, but not before mom put on her usual "I'm Hal's mom and aren't I just fabulous?!?!" while my dad did his usual, cool, calm, very-Bostonian "Hi, how ya doin'?"

After I practically shoved them out the door, we began driving toward the address that one of the two dudes had written down: 144th and Cumming Cir. Or something (it's been a while, alright?). I was like "Oh, my GAWD!! I KNOW THAT AREA!!!" We all high-fived each other (that was probably the first and only time I ever high-fived anyone during my high school career). So, I led the way, navigating Zach (who I'm sure was completely wasted on some herb. Or something.) how to get to the circle.

When we finally arrived at the the house, I leaped out of the vehicle before Zack could even put it into park. Who could think about auto safety when my own Princess Buttercup was waiting for me?

The porch lights were on, beckoning me. I ran to the front porch with, arms wide open, ready to embrace my Lady Love. James lumbered up the steps, behind me, until we were both on the porch. I took a deep breath...







I rang the doorbell and knocked simultaneously, practically shattering the glass with my hairy-knuckled fists.

All of a sudden, a bald, stern-looking man came to the door. He had this who the hell are you and what are you selling?! look on his face. He opened up the door and suspiciously asked us, "How can I help you boys?" I blurt out "We're here to pick up Kirsten...your daughter!!" He gives us the ultimate, searing what the fuck?! look, followed by a tense, awkward 30-second silence. Without warning, he startles us by screaming, at the top of his lungs, "KIRSTEN!! CAN YOU COME DOWN HERE?!?!"

Dear, loyal reader. What happened, after that, I will never, ever forget.

Like, seriously. Never. Ever.

This 10-year-old, freckle-faced girl with pig-tales came bounding down the stairs and stopped next to papa bear, looked up at him and, with big, inquisitive eyes, asked "yes, daddy?"

He gestured to us and asked her, "do you know these boys, Kirsten?" She looks us up and down with those big, adorable eyes, vigorously shook her head and said, "nah ah!!"
Let's just say that before that dude could even think of grabbing his shotgun, we were already in the van (yes, a appropriate for the circumstances). Apparently, we were three miles away from the correct address and when we arrived, Kirsten was ecstatic to see us.

She barely, however, spoke a word to me. And the movie, "The Man Who Knew Too Little," (starring Bill Murray in decidedly one of the most grating, godawful movies ever made) sucked my post-pubescent balls. Apparently, my invite to the movie was her way of reciprocating for me inviting her to my Halloween party.

To be honest--and this should really come as no surprise--the journey itself to see Kirsten was the highlight of my night, possibly my high school years. I never, ever hung out with those two guys again. Every now and then, though, we'd bump into each other and joke about going to see "Kirsten."

* Epilogue *

I became me. Am still working on becoming me. Will let you know how it goes...

Zach and James graduated high school (on time, too--impressive!!), stoners or not. Though, I later found out that James tragically died by accidentally OD-ing on heroine. It's a shame, too. He was a really nice guy to me, all throughout high school and into college. What a fuckin' world.

Kirsten, on the other hand, moved to NY and became an actress, never to be heard from again. Sometimes, I wonder if she ever made it to The Great White Way or if maybe she fell into the abyss that all failing/struggling actors go to die.

Cats, that is.

Ooh...could it be?!

Is this happening?!

Can you feel that?!


I feel a sing-along coming on...!!!!

See the dew on the sunflower
And a rose that is fading
Roses wither away
Like the sunflower
I yearn to turn my face to the dawn
I am waiting for the day . . .

Not a sound from the pavement
Has the moon lost her memory?
She is smiling alone
In the lamplight
The withered leaves collect at my feet
And the wind begins to moan

All alone in the moonlight
I can smile at the old days
I was beautiful then
I remember the time I knew what happiness was
Let the memory live again

Every streetlamp
Seems to beat a fatalistic warning
Someone mutters
And the streetlamp gutters
And soon it will be morning

I must wait for the sunrise
I must think of a new life
And I musn't give in
When the dawn comes
Tonight will be a memory too
And a new day will begin

Burnt out ends of smoky days
The stale cold smell of morning
The streetlamp dies, another night is over
Another day is dawning

Touch me
It's so easy to leave me
All alone with the memory
Of my days in the sun
If you touch me
You'll understand what happiness is

A new day has begun

I bid thee all a good night.