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, my...how 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 just...do. 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 say...it'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.