Saturday, February 26, 2011

Over The Hill

You might notice that my writing is strikingly more mature from this point forward.  That's because about three hours ago, I turned thirty-two.*  Now I can buy cigarettes and Four Loko and look at naked pictures of my fellow adults.

This "turning of the page" merits some hindsight (specifically, forty-eight hours worth).

In the last two days of my "immature period," (as it will come to be known), I was particularly prolific.  I completed a fourth draft of the musical, T (music and lyrics by Melissa Carubia), which will open (and close) at ImprovBoston this June.  I sent two more letters to agents regarding my young adult novel.  I also completed a fourth draft of my screenplay, which had languished inside of me, marinating in my creative juices since its  reading in September.

For the moment, let's not dally on T.  After all, it's going to get a lot of blog-face-time in the future.  And let's not dally on my progress in getting my young adult novel published.  Those efforts are well-documented.  Instead, let's compare my screenwriting career to that of those who have "made it" and see how I stand.  Shall we?

After all, this is a competitive business.

Let the games begin!

William Goldman

He published his first novel at twenty-six, but his first big screenplay hit was Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which came out when he was thirty-eight.  Of course, by that point, he had published five novels and had three plays produced on Broadway.

Point: Goldman  (0-1)

David Mamet

His first screenplay, The Postman Always Rings Twice, came out as a movie when he was thirty-four.  He later won an Academy Award for a screenplay he had written several years earlier, around age thirty-two.

I think he did some other stuff, too, but I doubt it was all that well-received.

Point: Toss-up (0-1)

Manoj Nelliyattu Shyamalan

. . . if that is your real name.

His breakout film, The Sixth Sense, came out when he was twenty-nine.  Since then, he has made every effort to break back in.  Now, at age forty, he's somehow several steps back from where he started.

Plus, I satirized his ass when I was writing for MOSAIC at age 28.

Point: Me (1-1)

Christopher Nolan

His career took off at thirty with Memento, and he has never looked back.^

Impressive.  Especially for a Brit.

Point: Nolan (1-2)

The Epstein Twins

Casablanca came out when they were both thirty-three.  I imagine they finished the script around age thirty-two.  Toss-up, right?

Wrong.  Not only are there two of them, but they had help from at least three other non-family-member writers.  Thirty-three times years times five people is . . . well, I'm not a math guy, but suffice to say that I have some time to catch up.

Point: Me (2-2)

Herman K Mankiewicz

Citizen Cane is widely considered the greatest movie of all time.  Unfortunately, it took him forty-four years to get there.

Point: Me (3-2)

Mario Puzo

It took him until age forty-nine to pen The Godfather.

I'm really racking up the self-esteem points.

Point: Me (4-2)

James Cameron

The Terminator came out when he was thirty, and he's never gone back from there.^^

Point: Cameron (4-3)

Guillermo Del Toro

His film career started when he was twenty-nine.  (Point: Del Toro)

Then again, I personally hadn't heard of him until two-thousand-and-six, when he was forty-two. (Point: Me)

Then again, he did write Pan's Lanyrinth.  (Point: Del Toro)

And his spanish is marginally better than mine.  (Point: Del Toro)


Point: Del Toro (4-4)

So far, it's a tie.  And because it's my birthday, I get to choose a tie-breaking opponent.  I choose:

Abraham Lincoln

He became president at age fifty-one.  As far as I can tell, he never wrote a screenplay.

Also, thanks to John Wilkes Booth (an actor, by no coincidence), he never will.

Point: Me

It's my birthday, and I win!

*For example, when I was thirty-one, I might have written, "That's because about 1 hr ago, I turned 32."

^ Ha.  Get it?  The movie Memento . . . plus "never looked back."  Ha!

^^ Ha.  Get it?  The movie The Terminator . . . plus "gone back."  Ha!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Step Too Far (And Two Steps Too Slow)

Last Thursday, I played in an intramural basketball game.  Our team lost 104-50.  Worse, at the end of the game, the dominant team (i.e., not us) was whirling, dunking, leaping, laughing, alley-ooping, hitting half-court threes and generally being tall and strong.  (Picture the Space Jam aliens before everyone drinks the Jordan-juice at halftime). 

I came home deeply aware of my physical inferiority and my left groin muscle.  Then, I saw this:


Clooney's already got 788,859 "like"-rs to my 52.  (Who's counting?)  Now, he's also got a 10' X 4' mural in Cincinnati immortalizing him.  And look at it from further away:

Who's that he's touching?  That's right.  God.  YHWH.  Allah. 

I could be mad at George Clooney.  But I'm not.  He didn't ask to be up in the air with God.  He probably wishes the mural was out of sight.  He thinks he's of an unbecoming age, and seeing himself there on the wall is intolerable cruelty.*

So I blame Mark Schmidt, the artist, because like all artists, he's making life harder for the rest of us (specifically, me).  He's raising the bar.  Now if I'm going to be ready when the fame train pulls in, I can't just be published and have "like"-rs.  I have to be ripped so that when someone paints a mural of me, I'll look even better than that handsome devil up there.

So thanks Mark Schmidt.  Thanks.

By the way, your name is boring. And I can beat you at basketball.

*Okay, that one's a stretch.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I'm Not Dead (Just Boring)

It's been eleven days since I last posted to my blog.  I'm sure some of you are starving for an update on my propulsion toward relevance.

Well, yesterday I made some burritos. 

Today, I had a mediocre meatball panini and some sweet potato tater tots.

. . . 

Is that really all I have to say? 

I could tell you about how in the last two weeks, I've queried four more agents regarding my (young adult) novel.  I haven't heard back yet, though.  These things take time.  

I could document how on Friday, I had an inspiring lunch with a co-writer, battled with my screenplay until it hurt and I cried "uncle," considered becoming an alcoholic or drug addict (seriously), and retackled the screenplay on Saturday with more success. 

I could tell you about how today, I spent 8 hours with a friend trying to finish a film with the working title "Man Puts CD in CD Player."  We got 55 seconds of footage but . . . but nothing.  (Don't worry, the film has a happy ending!  It involves finger tapping.)

I could mention how last Thursday I worked front-of-house at the Modern Theater and, after the show, watched some well-known poets autograph books and thought "Man, that's going to be me some day."  And maybe I'm just dreaming, but maybe I'm right.  

I could mention how I've committed myself to writing 30 minutes a day, and I've been plugging along, but that tonight my commitment involves documenting drivel.  In fact, my work many nights involves drivel.  But it's part of the process.  

I might add in closing that I still think my life is interesting, even if I've gone two weeks without anything "blog-worthy."  I mean, sweet potato tater tots?  I'd never even heard of that. 

. . .

You know on shows like Inside the Actor's Studio or E True Hollywood Story where they make everyone seem so interesting?  You know when you read someone's bio in a playbill and think, "Wow, that person has done a lot of things and probably never washes dishes." 

Lies.  The path to artistic success is lined with absolutely stupidly boring tasks.  And sometimes absolutely stupidly boring blog entries. 

I have to go now.  I need to shave, shower and wash my dishes.  Tomorrow's a new day, and a new week, and there's lots of exciting stuff ahead.

Somewhere ahead. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Groundhog versus e-psychic: A race to the bottom

Let's take a look back at one of my recent posts.  Actually, you know what?  You take a look.  I've already seen it.

Now take a look at this.

It's time to revisit that age-old question:  which is a better prognosticator, or a groundhog?, my e-psychic, predicted that between January 27 and 30, I would win a $7,500 grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.  Early this morning, February 2nd, I found this in my inbox:

"Thank you for applying to the 2011 Artist Fellowships Program of the Massachusetts Cultural Council. While we regret to say that your work was not recommended for funding, we want you to know your investment of time, energy, and vision in creating new art in the commonwealth is deeply appreciated."   

(. . . while you slowly freeze to death in your little artist hole . . . )

You can peruse the artists who will have appreciable heat this season here.  Suffice to say that the rich get richer. 

The groundhog, in the meantime, predicts an early spring.  Is this some kind of tag-team practical joke?

Okay, psychics of all species.  What's the deal?  Are you doing this on purpose?  Either get your act together, or else point me the way to a mammal (or e-mammal) with a clue.  And maybe a space-heater.