The week from hell, "Familiar" update, "Nova, " and more...

• Sunday, May 31, 2009 2 comments
My stomach has been upset for the past several days, and there are so many different things wrong, I can't even guess which reason is responsible. I want out of this house, I want something to do, and most importantly, I want it to be something I can't screw up.

I feel like I'm screwing everything up. This week has just been awful, and the worst parts of it I've either a) got nothing to say about or b) can't talk about here. The short of it all is that my nerves are shot and my judgment is crap, and maybe worst of all I know how far off my game I actually am, which is really frustrating in its own way. Especially knowing myself, anyway.

It all seems stupid, put so plainly.

This week hasn't been an entire waste. I got my long boxes in, which puts one small concern out of the way, and I finally found an acceptable, affordable laptop bag for the new computer [a father's day sale, of all things. Jesus]. Also found an online army surplus store that looks really promising, www.armysurplusworld.com, especially since the ones in the area have been sort of a letdown. Though I did hear about one the other day that I might try and get Justin to check out with me. Plus I still need a ride to pick up my comic books from Cheryl's, and tell her about Dad... in case she hasn't heard yet.

So, yeah. Lot of shopping-related things on my mind. And I got a haircut. It's weird, during Dad's service, while I was in the suit, I kept thinking how I should have gotten one before. And it's been so hot lately -- I just got all of the back hair chopped off, hardly touched the front. It's nice to have it off my neck, and even though it sort of looks like a girl's style, I'm kind of pleased with it. Can pretty much do whatever, and it manages itself. If nothing else, it was a nice chore. A task to do.

Some writing got done too. I came up with two new "Trendsetter" scenes, and worked on the outline a little bit -- mostly just rearranging chairs, in a literary sense, but helpful in getting an idea of the arc of the story. I was worried about that a lot, a few weeks ago.

Talked to Kyle yesterday about "Nova" -- he enjoyed it, which was encouraging, because I did feel like there was a little something there, and it was a nice distraction to work on it. He gave me a nice idea for an opening scene, and just fooling around today, I think I finished the ending of it. There are five or ten pages between what I have, and what I came up today.

I get a report on how many people download any given file I post -- though only one person took a look at "Christmas on the Titanic," I know "Nova" has been downloaded at least six times, and if you did read it, I'd be interested in what you thought, or maybe something you'd like to see in it. I'm going to finish it, just because it's practically done anyway. I'm not trying to call anyone out, but if you want to post a comment here, or e-mail me [Re: mojo.wire.productions@gmail.com], I'd appreciate it.

Also got a photographer lined up in the next couple weeks for work on "The Familiar." This was good, because for at least one location, things have gotten kind of pressing.

Actually, that requires a little explanation. Post-Bennington, I went on this weird-ass tear where I didn't sleep for a week and wrote this screenplay called "The Familiar," which was, among other things, about vampires on Elk River. There's a long explanation as to what brought those strange bedfellows together, but the part of it was me putting all these places I'd seen or passed by so much as a kid into something I was working on. And the look it really important to me, like I know, if I get to make this movie, that these places will have to be reconstructed to fit what I want. And my memory's not so hot, and even Elk River changes... some, as time goes on. So getting it just right, having it documented seems really important. One of those things I keep talking about doing.

Naturally, one of those places is Dad's house. Access to it now may not be as easy, or may even be impossible if his wife has to sell the trailer, move out of the lot. Now was the time. So I threw up a note on Facebook, luckily first responder was who I had in mind. She's good, I'll probably put some links to her work on the blog, the closer we come to working this out, but I have high expectations.

And it would be nice, and useful, to have a photographer I could call or bring in on things, someone who I'd... not trained, exactly, but worked with from the beginning. And the whole idea, my whole "master plan," was to get other people involved, get other artists breaks, too, and this seems in that vein. I'm looking forward to it, and it'll be nice to have that to get lost in. I've had some thoughts on how to fix the screenplay [Re: The Familiar], so this might bring some new inspiration. It's also just nice to look ahead.

Also talked to my friend Shea. He's a comic book artist, littler frustrated he hasn't had anything to draw. So I told him I'd try and put something together. Need to call him, see what kind of thing he's looking for.

I hate this heat. I miss Vermont in the winter. Wrapped up in my coat, with all the beautiful girls in their scarves, pale skin and nice smiles. I'm romanticizing. But it was perfect. I wasn't. I think I'd do it better now. But who knows?

Mom mentioned my Birthday. It's hard to believe that's almost here again.

Christmas on the Titanic.

• Thursday, May 28, 2009 0 comments
I did another short this morning, and this one seems kind of noteworthy.

You can download it here.

"Noteworthy" might be pushing it. But this does have the much celebrated beginning, middle, and end, not to mention it's self-contained at around 15 pages. The flaws in the scripting seem like they're manageable if not fixable with some time too. It's also slightly closer to "Trendsetter" in spirit, which might help loosen up some new ideas.

This story was mostly inspired by the Team Dresch song "Don't Try Suicide," with two or three lines of dialogue lifted straight from the song. In another draft, these would probably be removed -- it doesn't quite fit in the places I put it, but I kind of liked that jarring effect it created. The song itself interests me because it tells a story that I felt like I was trying to put together myself a long time ago, and gave up on.

With the rest of the dialogue I just played it by ear, and went for realism by my standards. There's a lot of parroting for only 15 pages. I greatly over use "BEAT" [no surprise there], and I do a couple of things which strike me as kind of masturbatory; the spirit of the conversation about Cobain is pulled from my "Walks with Angels" short, and I hated putting in a character who was a writer because that almost always reeks a little of Mary Sue-ism. My only defense is that I really wanted to get the "Christmas on the Titanic" thing into the story, and this was the only way that sprung to mind.

Just thought I'd share. Unlike "Nova"[ which I might actually try and finish], under normal circumstances this would have probably gotten deleted, or at least gutted for use in something else. But with my mood lately, I think I let the miserableness of it charm me a little bit.

If you can't impress yourself, I guess.

God, I want to get out of my head and do something.

Inheritance.

• Wednesday, May 27, 2009 0 comments
I ordered 12 comic book long boxes the other day. I woke up this morning to a notice that they had shipped.

When my parents got divorced, there was this... adjustment period, where a seven year old kid and his now absentee father have to figure out how the world, and their relationship, is going to work from here on out. It is entirely common for father and son to find some activity in which they both enjoy, and proceed -- which at first seemed difficult, because my dad liked... alcohol, and pornography, and exotic fish, while I lived mostly in a fantasy world and spent most of my time quietly reading or watching television. Plus, I was sort of a mama's boy, and Dad and mother, as you might expect, weren't on the best of terms.

It's so weird to think of now. Mama's boy, but idolized my father. Neither of those things would last. Still.

The local K-Mart had recently added a book section, and between the crappy paperbacks and the crappy magazines, they had started selling comic books. This wouldn't last either -- six months to a year later, you couldn't get comics there, but it was a nice place to start. They had the only things that remotely interested me -- Spider-Man, Sonic the Hedgehog, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles [Archie Comic's version -- by far still my favorite, though not as highly thought of as others]. I started putting toy money towards comics, and that was the beginning for me.

I was new. Taking care of the books was the last thing on my mind, and I took them everywhere. And since I didn't have much money, nor many options, I read the same few over and over again, and it wasn't long until, eventually, Dad saw me with them. I didn't think he'd be interested -- Doug, my step-dad, never had a problem with the hobby, but Mom really disliked them, so in between indifference and hate, I didn't expect Dad to even have an opinion. And my normally talkative dad didn't say anything about them. Another thing Randall did that nobody got.

Except.

A few weeks later, Dad, my aunt, her daughter, and myself had all packed up for some... rustic excursion or something similar, and when I hopped into the back seat, Dad handed me a brown paper bag with powdered doughnuts, cartons of cigarettes, and comic books to hold.

I still remember them really well. It was part one and three of Marvel's "Trial of Peter Parker" -- a small storyline in the now much maligned "Clone Saga." The fight scenes in them were Spider-Man versus a hulking, scarred man in a bright pink cape called Kane, and an bodacious, yet Adam's apple-sporting blond named "Stunner." I was in heaven. In a three hour trip, I must have read those comics about a hundred times a piece. There were two others in the bag though I didn't look much at. Not for lack of trying, but because Dad kept them in the passenger seat while my aunt was driving.

"Superman."

I didn't get "Superman." I read them, of course, but it was all vaguely over my head, and I still didn't understand a lot of the stuff that the writers [mostly John Byrne, I think], were trying to do with the character at the time. Besides, there has always been a lot of public opinion against the Man of Steel, so I sort of went along with that. Dad loved them though, and pretty soon he was getting all 5 [!] Superman titles in the mail. Now, looking back, it's funny, because when I asked him how he could read a character as "lame" as Superman, Dad pretty much said what I'm saying now -- that as a kid, when he'd read "Superman," he didn't quite understand what was going on in the book, and now, reading the character, he felt like he was coming back to something he'd been missing. By high school, I'd understand.

So that's five books for both of us a month [5 Spidey's, 5 Supes -- the 90's were something], plus single issues of characters we enjoyed -- the X-Men, Daredevil, Green Lantern, Silver Surfer, the Hulk, Steel, Thor, Superboy, Captain America... and eventually things like Titans, JLA, Avengers, and Fantastic Four. If it had spandex-clad do-gooders? We were there, snatching them up.

We were those kinds of comic book fans -- we both had subscriptions and pull lists, would pass books back and forth, and weren't above buying something to complete a crossover or just because we liked the cover. You can always tell the hardcore comic book fans because they'll buy stuff they don't even like -- mostly out of loyalty to a character, or just a hope that something awesome will happen in the book and it'll pick up again. My dad didn't have a lot of income as a professional paper boy [well, he was a district manager, but even he wouldn't want anyone to parse words], and I was mostly just mooching off parents and getting a pittance for mowing lawns. And all of that went to comics.

As one might imagine, eventually we managed to compile quite the collection -- and not between us, but each. My collection today fills more than 10+ Rubbermaid tubs [holds more than long boxes, and keeps out silverfish, but... not the best for the books, as spacing goes], while Dad's collection should at least be able to rival mine, if it isn't bigger.

The size of his stash is actually something a mystery to me. Around the age of 15, I stopped going to see my dad, and instead we'd go out and do things, or meet at my grandmother's. The only reason for this, really, was that I had a particularly busy year, and slowly but surely my room at Dad's had been cordoned off for storage, which meant I really had no place to stay there anymore. And at the time, that was fine.

But being away also let Dad's collection grow beyond my watchful eyes. It's actual size is a mystery to me, and may in fact be far smaller, or far larger than I expect.

Dad had a lot of possessions, but as far as items you'd expect the family to descend upon, and cut up amongst themselves, he had very little of interest. When asked, it actually took me a minute, because in a way [and I love you Dad], he was a bit of junk pauper, and I couldn't think immediately what of his I'd want to have.

But then I remembered. All those trips to King's and Cheryl's. All those days spent in the car, quietly reading, not talking, and passing books back and forth. And "oh, I like this," "you'll like that," and "what did you think of this?" And me asking if I could borrow this book or that, and him just saying, outright to me, "Randall, those comics are as much yours as they are mine."

So that's what I want. And dammit, I don't have a single place for them, but that's what I want, so I put in the order for the boxes, and it shipped today. And I still have no idea how I'm going to manage being in that house for the first time since... forever, but I'm going to have to go. I have to get my inheritance.

He loved those stories. All of this, the writing, the Mojo Wire, the movies and the comics? They're partly for him, to write one of those stories for him. To put his [my] name on one.

I'll stack them to ceiling if I have to.

Site changes.

0 comments
A quick note to all four of you who occasionally read, and to myself, for later reference.

A few changes have been made to the blog, with certain information removed. The release of this information over the past month was premature, and the contributors here [Re: me] apologize to all parties involved. The intended goal here at the Mojo Wire has always been to chronicle and cultivate all aspects of the creative process, and in our zeal, we have regrettably done quite the opposite.

Appropriate backups have been made to the altered posts for the sake of my own records, but they are no longer accurate, and thus, unavailable to the public.

Information and updates on other work, such as "Trendsetter," "Calamity Cash and the Town with No Name," etc, will still be available regularly.

-The Management.

Still at it.

• Monday, May 25, 2009 4 comments
Short post. Not a lot to report.

Recently gotten my hands on a certain well-known and oft-used screenwriting program. At first I thought it might hinder me, having to learn something new, but I've actually found it kind of helpful. All the bullshit involved in doing a script in a program like Word -- formatting, margins, changing the text size, keeping proper page numbers, and so much repetition... well, honestly, I never realized how difficult it made writing. With a good chunk of the "chore" gone, I've found I can sit down with the program and just type out little scenes about whatever really easily. And more things seem worth keeping too.

It makes it a lot easier to just do little exercises, or toy with a side project or idea without committing like I would with a "real" project. There's no guilt of exhausting myself on something stupid with all the repeated "INT"s and "EXT"s, and Beats.

Did this last night [Link removed -- sorry, if you'd like to see "Nova" email me at mojo.wire.productions@gmail.com]. Feel free to tell me what you think. Currently working on using watermarks in .pdf files. It's slightly more complicated than I expected though, but I don't think I'll be too disappointed if someone steals this, of all things.

"Nova," like "The Infamous Dan Cody," was largely inspired by the work of Bucky Sinister. Ironically, Bucky posted this earlier today, while I was midway through the work. It's a beautiful poem by the late George Tirado called "Angels." I hope everyone else likes the poem as much as I did.

I have been trying to keep busy. Writing little things like this, or on more pressing projects like "Trendsetter." It's difficult, because most of the work is stuff I need to be in my own head for, and being in my head right now is like being in a minefield. Wrong thing gets dredged up, and I go right back to being useless again.But I'm trying. Having ideas for TS helps, and just being able to stretch a little and write in these short, go-nowhere screenplays feels helpful. We'll see if it is.

Recommend going here. Meant a great deal to me, when I read it, and was glad the author didn't go with his gut and remove it from the rotation.

On professionalism.

• Thursday, May 21, 2009 0 comments
I have been trying to figure out how to move on. When Steven died, I basically turned this blog into a shrine for a week plus. It was nice, fitting, and I benefited from that. But giving it some thought, I've decided doing the same for Dad right now just wouldn't be right.

There are several reasons for this. The first is, Dad had a service, and I spoke at it. Much of that mourning process wasn't available with Bach, and what I did here was to make up for that fact. It also helped me to reach out to others, which, for the death of my father, isn't really going to help. There's a perspective I have on this that seems... unlikely to be matched.

And maybe, on some level, a lot of my life has been spent writing about my father. And a lot more of it will go to the same. Somehow, a week dedicated to writing about him doesn't strike me as much of a tribute in that context.

Other things. I wondered, earlier, if this space was doomed to become a mausoleum. Selfishly, I don't want that, because more selfishly, this place is often helpful to me. I don't want to lose that. More importantly, there is a level of professionalism I at least try [Re: pretend] to maintain here. I'm still writing, I'm still working. Things are happening on the projects I'm working on. And this blog is for that.

I guess it's important for me to stress I'm not okay. I'm not moving on yet, and things are a long way from getting better. My dad died. I can't think of anything that fixes that. Time, maybe. But I'm not feeling that right now. Something, though, tells me this isn't the place for my grief right now. We'll see if I feel the same way in the future.

The Mojo Wire marches on, however.

To my father.

• Saturday, May 16, 2009 1 comments
I read this at my father's funeral. Rarely do things written in the black book get to be put here too. I typed it up at my family's request, but I feel I should post it here as well:


My name is Randall William Nichols II. Named for my father.

People sometimes ask me what it’s like to be a “II,” a second. I think of it being like a paper crown. Your dad, your namesake, is like a king to you. And when you’re young, believe me, you are so proud of that paper crown. You flaunt it, you treat it like a prized possession, and you mimic your father’s every move – you idolize him.

But that doesn’t last forever. You grow up, you come into your own, you get rebellious [Dad would appreciate that – “rebellious”]. Your paper crown feels silly, and unoriginal. On some level you want desperately to be rid of it, to be your own man, and get away from that legacy. And you fight it, and try to take it off, until eventually you realize that one day you’ll have to wear the real thing. And suddenly, it’s not so bad being a “II”.

So you put that paper crown back on, because you have grown up a little now, and you realize being someone’s successor is not so bad. It’s an honor, actually, and all those similarities you worked so hard against, all those things that tie you and your namesake together, you’re proud of them again.

Humbly, I admit I was getting there. I wasn’t there yet. But in the last year, I’ve spent more time with my father than I had in a very long time. Perhaps ever. We’ve run errands together, told each other stories, commiserated about those we’d felt had wronged us, talked about comics and movies, and wasted so much time in that way where wasting time is completely okay.

And we’d talked about the future. Not just what I was going to do, what we were going to do. He expected to see it. He was making plans.

Which is why this is so hard, and why I wish dearly I wasn’t putting my paper crown away today. My name is Randall William Nichols II, but now I am the only Randall Nichols. It is my inheritance. And a lot goes along with it, more than just a passing resemblance, shared body language, or a single, slightly droopy eyelid – something Dad and I shared. Something only some of you may know about him. I’d like to share that with all of you today.

My dad didn’t sleep. He did, actually, but not during normal hours, he was always a night-owl. Most don’t ask why; they assume it was the job at the newspaper, the work at the Shop-a-minute, his time spent as a partier and a ne’re-do-well. But it wasn’t that – it wasn’t just some bad habit for dad, because my dad was, let’s face it, a worry-wart. And his mind just couldn’t slow down at night, not with everything out there that might go wrong, that had gone wrong, and all the things he might not have tried hard at. Not to mention people he might have failed, or felt like he’d failed. People he cared about. Because for dad, caring and worrying – they were interchangeable.

There is a good chance if you ever talked to my father, called him a friend, or a brother, or father, or son, shared a meal with him, or listened to one of his stories, then he spent some time in his life worrying about you. And even if you were at odds with him, even if the rest of the world had written you off, if you came to him, he’d help if he could. Because he worried about you. What you thought, what you were going through, how you felt – he cared. And then after, when he had done his best by you, he would worry he hadn’t done enough. He couldn’t stand the thought of letting anyone down – even though he knew, sometimes, disappointment was unavoidable. We all let people down, sometimes. And that bothered him too, deeply.

And with those thoughts, with that weight, who could sleep? It can make you so tired. And I know he struggled, because too often he and I would be able to call each other at two a.m., and find the other awake, anxious, and lucid. Wanting to talk about anything, save for whatever was on each other’s minds.

But there was really no alternative for Dad. He loved you all, as you are, and if a few sleepless nights were the price of that love, it was no contest for him. He’d choose his friends and family every time.

And that’s his legacy, my inheritance, and my head is heavier for it today. In some sense, it is a burden we all share now, because a man who thought of us all so often, who talked of in his stories and put us in his prayers, isn’t here to do that anymore. And we’re worse for it today.

But we’re better for knowing him, and though he left us far too soon, I feel almost happy for Dad, because there are no more sleepless nights, no more worrying. He can finally rest.

I love you Dad.

--Randall W. Nichols II
[May 15, 2009]

Dad's Obituary

• Tuesday, May 12, 2009 0 comments
Randall William Nichols

Randall “Nic” William Nichols, 51, of Elkview went home to be with the Lord on Sunday, May 10, 2009, at his residence.

He was a district supervisor with Charleston Newspapers for 18 years and was a medical assistant with the Veterans Administration.

Randall graduated from Herbert Hoover High School and graduated with a medical assistant degree at Everest Institute College.

He was preceded in death by his stepsister, Diane L. White.

He enjoyed hunting, fishing and spending time with Luke.

Surviving: are his loving wife, Lisa Kay Fullen Nichols; mother, Geneva M. (Nichols) Cole of Elkview; father, Ronald William Nichols of Summersville; son, Randall Nichols II of Elkview; stepdaughter, Amy LaDawn Nichols of Elkview; brother, Roger A Nichols of Elkview; and stepbrother, Kelly Cole of Clendenin.

Memorial service will be 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 14, at the Hafer Funeral Home Chapel with the Rev. Ted Tawney officiating.

Friends may call two hours prior to the service on Thursday.

Online condolences may be sent at www.haferfuneralhome.net.

Hafer Funeral Home, Elkview, is in charge of the arrangements.

Source : Charleston Gazette Newspaper [Click for link]


For those who left comments on my previous post, thank you. Your thoughts and sentiments are appreciated, and I will try to respond soon.

In Loving Memory of Randall William Nichols [Sr.]

• Sunday, May 10, 2009 4 comments
My dad died today [May, 10, 2009].

I've been trying to think of what to type here. I'm just going to go with something straightforward.

My grandmother knocked on my door a little after noon, opened the door, and asked if I was there. She couldn't see because her glasses were tinted, and I had the curtains closed. She asked me if anyone had called -- I didn't think so, but I was pretty out of it. I had started sleeping again on Friday-Saturday, and was trying to take advantage of that while I could. Without saying much else, she left.

My uncle [Roger, my dad's brother] and his wife knocked on the front door not long after that. It took me a minute to compose myself, and when I opened my bedroom door, I met them both face to face. They said something to the effect of "Your grandmother needs you at your dad's house," which is, even with a sleep-addled brain, a strange statement. I asked what they were talking about, and the reiterated that my Grandmother needed me there.

I'm a pretty resistant person. I asked why again, and they told me my dad had died.

I took my time getting dressed after that. There didn't seem to be any reason to hurry. There was a crowd at Dad's house, and my grandmother told me the only reason she didn't say anything when she opened the door was because she didn't want to tell me and just leave. And I felt somewhat... thankful for that. Rest of the day sort of went from there.

I don't know what killed him. We'll probably find out from the ME in the next couple of days. He was only in his fifties. He wasn't healthy, but he wasn't so sick that anyone was expecting this. He was a cancer survivor. He was on a lot of different medications for a lot of different things, and though the things weren't fatal, maybe the pills were. Maybe it was a heart attack, or an aneurysm. I don't know. The reason why isn't that important to me right now -- the end's still the same.

Not sure what to do next. Some things will happen naturally. Family will come on their own. But I need to be there for my grandmother. She's a strong woman, but she's outlived her oldest son and I can't imagine that. And a lot of things that I took for granted while dad was here, I'm going to have to figure out how to do without him.

Little things are creeping in too. The way he'd shakes his head, and say "yeah." That's what I'm thinking about right now. It wasn't something most people did, a full-body movement for an affirmative. I don't know.

I miss him.

I wonder if this place is going to become a mausoleum?

I don't know if I'll post more this week. Maybe yes, maybe no. Feel scattered, might need it. Might not be able to stand it.


P.S. Couldn't think of a way to work this in. My brother Aaron, and my step-dad, Doug, stopped by to check on me. Can't say I felt better after, but it was nice. Meant a lot. Lot of people were in and out all day, but I want to remember that one.

Randall Nichols, Co-Director.

0 comments
The big news tonight is that Kyle offered me the position of co-director on "Trendsetter," and despite some hesitation, I have accepted.

I may be being overly-cautious here. I didn't study the technical side of film or directing while at Bennington, even though both options were open to me. Wasn't much interest. Writing has always been my number one pursuit, and I am very worried that my on-job-training will cause hold ups in the filming of "Trendsetter," and I honestly don't want to steal the spotlight from Kyle. I am also moderately worried about my reputation; I can, at times, be difficult to deal with, and I fear that being in a position of power where people have to do what I say might make me seem even less pleasant.

Despite these apprehensions, I said yes because Kyle thinks me doing this is what's best for the project, and my philosophy since the first draft has been that Kyle's the boss. I trust his judgment on this, and he has assured me that if things start to go horribly awry, I can step down. Besides, it means a lot to me that he thinks I can. All told, and not that I'm looking at any of my projects as trial runs, but I probably need the experience, as Casey has been nudging me to direct "Un-Filmable" post "Clean/Electric City."

But that's getting way too far ahead of myself.

So, add "Co-Director" to the resume to be.

Other news. I had some excess energy tonight, and even though I hadn't gotten all my reading done [Finished Casey's thing -- I've had it longer -- and made notes, starting on Kaley's], Kyle suggested I write a short, and I found the idea kind of fun [my day-to-day writing lately has been scribbles of dialogue on legal pad or tweaking "Trendsetter"]. The ten-minute scene I wound up with isn't something I think Kyle would be interested in, but I'm going to post it here for him and anyone else to look at, if they so choose. You can download the .PDF at the following link:

"The Infamous Dan Cody"

I warn you ahead of time, it isn't very good. About the coolest thing in it I stole from Bucky Sinister, but he has allowed me to take from his poems in my private work before and I don't think he'll mind this either. Bonus points if anyone reading can identify where I got all the characters' names from, too.

Learned a few things from trying to get this onto the page. Don't tend to keep straight-to-Word screenplays, even shorts, and certainly not without copious notes and outlines. First of all, I think my fear of exposition has gotten crippling, because there was so much while writing this I wanted to do, and just didn't. Also, I think the whole "rad" thing from "Trendsetter" has given me a scare, because a lot of the slang I stripped out of this, while I was writing it. It is also gluttonous with the "beats" and "BEATS," and for the first time ever, I realize I'm doing that more for readers than for people actually saying the lines. It may be a little too strict of me, and I think it'd probably be good for me to trust my actors/readers more. Not saying I'm ready to do that yet, just saying the idea is germinating.

Also, it's just kind of terrible.

Considering doing another. As I said, was tempted to just delete this, but there might be something here. If nothing else, I know I want to write more about psych wards.

Please, if you read that... thing, don't hold it's against me. I'm actually a pretty okay writer, sometimes.

Should be sleeping. Head is killing me thanks to allergies, and the sun is already up. I loathe spring.

More soon.

First sleep in days.

• Saturday, May 9, 2009 0 comments
Dozed off last night about one, my body finally deciding to give up after the sleepless week from hell.

Woke up a few minutes ago, my laptop's screen kicked on when I got an e-mail from Kaley. Resisted my urge to respond immediately -- she sent me a couple of her things to read, and I'd like to read them before I do. Casey sent me something a couple of days ago too, which I'm only about half way through, so I might just take the day for reading. Feeling pretty mellow after actually getting some sleep.

Speaking of things friends of mine have written, John recently told a story on the Bathroom Monologues in "Twitter style" and today he's providing the trade paperback version [Re: the whole thing in one post].

Spoke to Sam on the phone for a bit last night. Really good to hear from her, just fun to spend the evening talking to someone you're close with. Have missed that with her.

Sinuses are killing me this morning. Between this and the post-sleep euphoria, I feel a little like my head's wrapped in cotton. Hopefully the mix of caffeine and antihistamines I've started will get me situated. Might be my own fault, the congestion -- spent yesterday cleaning my room, ironically trying to make some "space to breathe" and kicked up a lot of dust. Need to finish up, but I'm waiting for some storage boxes I ordered.

Money's going fast. Surprised actually. Hoping to stretch everything a bit more. Not exactly sure how budgeting is going to work on "Clean/Electric City" yet. Figure I'll be taken care of during the work, but until then, need to be more economical. Then again, I've been buying a lot of books lately. Still need a few new articles of clothing. Hoping to maybe hit the beach this summer. Can't be helped if it happens. Need to have some fun occasionally, doesn't hurt to enjoy myself a little.

Attempting to sell a few things on eBay again. Not going well.

Neighbors are having it out next door. Fun couple, bipolar psychopath meets redneck burnout. "Welcome to the K.V.B." They're moving his trailer out today, already seen a sheriff's deputy who found the miracle diet that only gets you fat from the waist up. Lots of screaming.

No plans for another post today, but it's early yet. Lot could still happen.

Cheers.

With respect to J. G. Jones.

• Monday, May 4, 2009 0 comments
I wonder how many of my blogs have begun with "My mood has dipped considerably"?

My mood has dipped considerably, for no discernible reason. As anyone reading or talking to me lately might have noticed, things are going pretty well, and I have been pretty upbeat, especially when compared to how cheerful I usually am.

Likely culprit is, unsurprisingly, lack of sleep. I'm not sure about anyone else, and this is strictly x=1 of me, but insomnia tends to hit me in one of three ways. The first is just neglecting to sleep -- this tends to include getting busy with something and just losing track of time, and usually includes everything from choosing to not sleep, to "forgetting" to sleep [yeah, it does happen]. This first way isn't insomnia in the strictest sense, but I do lose a lot of sleep this way, and like traditional insomnia even when "choosing" to stay up, I rarely feel as though it something within my control. The second way is a general lack of feeling tired -- most people will recognize this as exhaustion but the inability to nod off, when you become easily distracted, your mind seems interested in anything but lulling off, and a great deal of this time is spent staring at the ceiling or the back of your eyelids. Sometimes this manifests with me physically, an itch from having my head on the pillow, a scratchy throat that induces coughing, or feeling like there's something in my eye when there really isn't. This was what hit me this morning, while trying to squeeze in a few hours, though admittedly, it's not the typical offender for me.

More often than not, what I'm struck by is a sort of pre-bed panic attack, the anticipation of, and the exhaustion after, not to mention the extend duration of the panic itself, being the chief reason for being unable to nod off to dreamland. Ironically, it is during these spells I'm most productive -- possibly because sleep typically isn't my goal, calming myself down is, and a lot of my notes and blog entries come from bedside rantings trying to reign myself back under control. Sometimes, it works.

Woke up this morning in the upright position, propped up with my back against the wall, in exactly the same position I remember being in the night before when sleep seemed so far away. Pretty jarring, since there were no dreams [strange for me], and it felt like no time had passed. A blackout? Doubtful, but I have been running on an hour less than usual for the past couple nights, so I suppose it's a possibility. There were definitely a few things done on my computer before I'd slipped off like that, because I don't remember typing what was on the screen upon waking.

Then again, it was mostly gibberish. Entirely possible I was sleep-typing, or I just don't remember the struggle between my brain and body while falling asleep. Worrying about this too much seems ill-advised.

Had a dream I was working with Ron Howard the other night. Weird. I'm not exactly a huge fan, but it was interesting. Very vivid. Strange.

Saw Kyle last Thursday. Justin and Staci took me with them to the movie premiere they were having for this little film they made for one of their professors. It was funny, though I imagine I was missing a few of the in-jokes, but it gave me and Kyle some time to talk about "Trendsetter," and a couple of the other people there chimed in too. It was also nice to share the news with everyone about my possible job, especially since I so rarely have any good news to share.

On producing, I thought I might get a little more informed. I graduated as a writer, after all. Picked up "The Pocket Lawyer for Filmmakers" by Thomas A. Cromwell, and the "Indie Producers Handbook" by Myrl A. Schreibman, partly for a refresher, and partly for self-improvement.

Back to "Trendsetter" for a minute. A friend I met through Glen [don't have many other kinds of friends back here anymore], a really down guy named Ian Nolte, had read the script [that glutton of a short], and had a few thoughts that he shared with me while we were all having dinner. All of it was helpful, especially the note that there was a bit of a separation between the movie's gimmick [the letters], and the film's plot [pretty much everything else], which was particularly striking to me because it has been on my mind a lot lately while doing re-writes, and I have been trying to work the gimmick into the movies plot in some way that really makes it matter. Regrettably, with my decision to take this movie in a less traditional way, and not make it your usual three-act with the weirdness at the center, driving the story, the "trend" becomes like one of Hitchcock's McGuffins. And my fear is that something this expansive might be too big to be a McGuffin.

Ian mentioning it at all makes me feel a lot less crazy for agonizing over it as much as I have been lately. Still a big decision. Seeing a problem and fixing it is hard. Trying to decide if something is or isn't a problem is a lot harder. At least for me.

Ian also called it a romance. He didn't mean it like I took it, but if I'm being honest with my little blog, that's been working on me since it was said. It's difficult to explain, but I always feel like I'm working so hard to get as far away from convention as possible. I can't get away from the subjects I'm dealing with -- connections, misery, relationships -- but the thought of "Trendsetter" in a video store with that little red sticker on the box that says "Romance?" Something to work on. Not a mistake I can let my audience make.

[Paused here, re-read last paragraph, shook my head.]

I'm getting arrogant. "Trendsetter in a video store." Going to Sundance with the closest thing to a male best friend I've ever had. Been thinking, even talking about doing "Un-Filmable" of all things. Thinking about the future -- living... not here, having a social life again. A girlfriend. Seems wrong, like I shouldn't be setting myself up for disappointments. Have plans, do my best to make them work out, but these fantasies are not good things.

One thing at a time.

Going to watch more movies, have to, self-imposed homework to get me on task at putting "Trendsetter" back together. I have a stack of DVDs I've gotten behind on. Last night was "Wristcutters" which hit me just right -- like "Thumbsucker" or"The Royal Tenebaums" did. Dark comedies, with something to say. A structure that doesn't quite fit what all the other movies have. The kind of movies I'd like to make, I guess. Because there aren't many of them, and they're the kind I like to see.

Really striking, hilarious bit in "Wristcutters" that I hate to spoil, but has stuck with me all night. After Zia and Mikal spend a night together, sleeping on the only beach they've found since they "offed," they wake up to find the rocky coast strewn with used needles and condoms. Great image, and they barely gave it to us at all, just a glimpse, enough for the disgust and hilarity. Amazing.

Also? Tom Waits.

Just read all of "Y: The Last Man" this past weekend. Justin handed it off to me, after borrowing it from Ally. Had it on my list of comics to check out for a long time, being a huge Brian K. Vaughn fan, and enjoyed reading it, even if the whole series only took me a few hours to get through. I liked it a lot, whole series was a really enjoyable ride, and I felt good when I finished it. Vaughn's dialogue wasn't as tight in this as some of the other stuff of his I've read though, but the characters were good, with a plot line involving an Israeli solider named Alter really grabbing my attention, and building to a final showdown between her and the main character, Yorick, which actually paid off in the end. Some of the scientific stuff was totally lost on me, as often happens when I'm reading science fiction, but it never bothered me, which was a rare accomplishment.

And there are little things that are still with me about "Y" too -- the beautiful girl with the scar from the church, the looks of rage and indignation on the militia women, the garish, anti-feminist message the removed breast of the Amazons managed to convey while knowing the characters were hoping for the opposite intention... the cover art is what's always talked about with "Y" but so much about Pia Guerra's work on the interiors seemed just perfect to me. No offense meant to J. G. Jones or Massimo Carnevale, of course.

Shalom.

Clarification -- my last post on the "conspiracy."

• Friday, May 1, 2009 2 comments
On my previous entry, I received this response from my late professor's niece. It is important for me to respond thoroughly, so I'm placing it here.

"Wow! Our worlds collide again! I was bored and thought I'd check back in to see if you heard that Bennington was doing a memorial service for Steven on May 17th.

My office overlooks Rebel Hill and Clement Park. I work for the Jefferson County Public Administrator here in Littleton. Since April '99 I have learned 3 things about Columbine.

#1 - the grief remains prolific! Students and Parents of students who died are experiencing something completely unimaginable. Their grief manifests itself in many ways... conspiracy theories abound....anything that will ease/justify/explain the pain of the horror they will live with every day. Who can judge this unless we've experienced it?

#2 - There are valid reasons from within the community to believe cover-ups, lies, lack of due diligence and other possibly negligent activities took place in the investigations and prosecutions of Columbine. There was immense pressure for answers and for someone to blame. 10 years out and I think we have more questions than answers.

#3 - no matter how much research is done, no matter how much investigation was done, those who experienced Columbine first hand have a story to tell. We'd be wise to listen to it. We may learn something. If nothing else, it might help them heal from an unimaginable trauma.

Best Wishes,
Cara"

First off, Cara, I want to thank you for informing me about the memorial service for Steven. I had been told by one of my fellow alumni when it would be held, but traveling to Bennington is regrettably not a financial possibility for me at the moment. The impact of missing it is lessened by the many people who also cared for Steven getting in touch with me through Facebook, or this blog. Still, not being able to attend weighs no less on my mind.

I also would like to point out that our worlds collide in a third way, as when a great deal of information was released about the Columbine shooters, it was with Steven's help that I was able to request digital copies of some of the files and transcripts on the two shooters at Columbine. I had very little clue how to go about getting such information, and Steven gave me a great many tips, as well as allowing me to search a few directories I would have had to pay for if he had not "loaned" me access to his accounts. Rarely was there a time when I showed interest in something that he wouldn't encourage me to follow as far as I wanted or could. That excitement at the pursuit of knowledge was just one of the many things that made him such a wonderful teacher.

That said, you bring to light some excellent points, and I in no way wished to belittle the grief and pain the survivors of the Columbine shootings went through. After experiencing something so traumatic, it is natural that coping methods would vary wildly, and many would turn to alternate explanations and conspiracy theories in order to make some sense of the violent upheaval of their lives. I would never dare deny any of these people the right to seek their own truth, and come to their own decisions about what happened. I make no judgments on them or their decisions, beyond saying that, within reason, anything that can bring them comfort or allow them some sense of normalcy is absolutely acceptable. In fact, it is paramount.

I also want to say I understand the inclination of the community to lean towards these conspiracy theories. The cover-ups during the investigation, like the Open Space meeting, were terrible. And it is difficult, after being lied to, to then have the truth revealed and not immediately ask "but is this just another lie?" Faced with the evidence I've seen, I've chosen to believe that the information revealed after these cover-ups that were cracked by independent investigators and the media are true. But I am not a part of the Jefferson County community, and in a community like that what is or isn't as true may not be as important as the trust that was violated.

Furthermore, we would nearly all like to find greater purpose and meaning for the whys and hows of the world, and nothing calls for an explanation more than tragedy. However, and it is difficult to say this without sounding cold, there is what people experience, and what actually happened. My intention was never to belittle any one's perception, only to emphasize the conclusions the evidence available points to. If I did the former by attempting the latter, I can only apologize, with all my heart.

The reason that I chose to defend these conclusions that I, and many who are far, far more informed than I have thus far come to on this series of events with such vigor actually has to do with something you said in your comment with an elegance I could not -- that "those who experienced Columbine first hand have a story to tell. We'd be wise to listen to it." I believe this sentiment to be absolutely true, and though I realize to some it may look like it is I who am dismissing numerous eyewitnesses while the conspiracy websites hold up the survivor's accounts as sacrosanct, I think it is actually the other way around. The pain and perseverance of the people of Jefferson County is greater than anything I've ever experienced, and when reading accounts or interviews, I do my very best to be thoughtful and open. To my eye, the conspiracy addicts are the ones who could care less about listening, and only want information to support their wild claims that the government is out to take their guns, or are quietly working behind the scenes to establish some New World Order. I find this kind of exploitation angers me, and my previous post was a response to those feelings [as well as a deep want for my few visitors to not think I agreed with the claims of a website who's URL was posted in my comments section].

Cara, I really want to thank you for such a thoughtful response. I had noted you living in Littleton earlier, but it slipped my mind while writing these entries. As a member of that community, I hope you didn't find anything I said to be offensive. It was not my intent, but I certainly understand that any "outsider" purporting knowledge of something that hits close to home should be careful to not overstep, lest he become as callous as those he takes issue with. And worse, hurt those who should never be hurt again.

There are still many questions, but I don't think we should disregard the answers we have because of them. On this subject, that is my belief. But beliefs can be dangerous things, and because of that, it is my hope that this will be my last post about Columbine for awhile. This is merely a production diary and brain dump for a humble artist, and if I ever hope to be productive again, I should probably not take up arms against every crackpot on the internet. Some things are beyond my means.

Still, the comments section to this post is open for anyone who wishes to leave a response, be they thoughtful and illuminating like Cara's, or merely curt and dismissive like a few of the others. The only warning I offer to that second group pertains to the conceit of my blog, which is that I will have the last word. My certainty in an uncertain world.

Best wishes to all.