Thursday, September 30, 2004

Polonia Brothers #4

John Polonia tries to explain his actions at the sneak preview of RAZORTEETH given to some of the cast, crew, and their families post-party. Posted by Hello

Polonia Brothers #3

Me, Brian Berry, and Brice Kennedy at the Polonia Brothers surprise birthday party, with John Polonia in the far background and Dave Fife trying to get into the picture. Posted by Hello

Mio nome è Nessuno, Il

I guess I was a bit premature on my news of Christopher Sharpe wrapping production on SEX MACHINE, as he is going back for a few more scenes. If you're in the Oklahoma City area, check out his blog, which includes a call for extras here.

I got two nibbles yesterday on some interesting projects that I hope I can report more on later.

As I have mentioned before, I write book reviews for a magazine called "Pomp and Circumstantial Evidence" that comes out in conjunction with the Magna Cum Murder Mystery Conference. In case you don't get the magazine or go to the conference, here are my latest reviews:

By Michael Connelly
Longtime fans of Michael Connelly’s work might be duly surprised at the outset of his latest novel, which features the sudden death of Terry McCaleb, the FBI profiler hindered by a heart transplant in the thriller Blood Work (and the movie of the same name). Although the death appears to have been by natural causes, Terry’s widow thinks otherwise, and brings in retired LA detective Harry Bosch (the star of his own series of novels, who crossed paths with McCaleb most notably in A Darkness More Than Night) to find out the truth. At the same time The Poet, a notorious serial killer who has cropped up in Connelly’s work before, seems to be back from the dead and wreaking havoc in Las Vegas. How Connelly picks up characters and plot threads from a handful of his other novels and weaves an edgy new work from them will be immensely satisfying to his faithful readers, but somewhat confusing to new ones. Still, the mystery elements stand on their own merits, and Connelly delivers a strong entry.

By Mark Haddon
Bittersweet story of an autistic boy who decides to uncover the mystery behind the killing of a neighbor’s dog, reasoning that there shouldn’t be any difference between an animal’s life and a human life. Unfortunately the boy begins to uncover painful truths about his own life at the same time, but as the story is told from the emotionless boy’s point of view the devastating facts are delivered rather matter-of-factly. A wholly original novel with a unique protagonist, with fully-realized drama and humor springing from realistic characters and situations.

By Walter Mosley
Walter Mosley has used his reluctant detective character Easy Rawlins to chart race relations in Los Angeles from the post-World War Two era forward in a literate and compelling series of novels (and a solid film version of Devil in a Blue Dress, with Denzel Washington). The latest outing, Little Scarlet, is especially strong, taking place in the uneasy days after the Watts riots of the 1960s. A young black woman is killed after protecting a white man from a beating, prompting the police to once again conscript Easy to go on a mission to places they cannot reach. Easy feels the world shifting under his feet as he delves deeper into the killing, and the changing cultural landscape, with his steely-eyed friend Mouse by his side. A dynamic mystery in a mesmerizing political and social milieu.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Polonia Brothers #2

Bob Dennis (AMONG US), me, Brice Kennedy (PETER ROTTENTAIL) at the Polonia Brothers' surprise birthday bash. Posted by Hello

Polonia Brothers #1

An All-Star gathering at the Polonia Brothers surprise birthday bash. Back Row: Bob Torpy, Bob Dennis, Ken VanSant, Brice Kennedy, Gale Largey, Todd Carpenter, John Polonia, me, Steve Torpy, Steve Hensley, (front) Mark Polonia, Dave Fife. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Giù la Testa

The truth can finally be told--the secret road trip I was taking this weekend was to a surprise party for the Polonia Brothers in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania.

My brother and I joined such luminaries as Bob Dennis from AMONG US, Brice Kennedy from HOUSE THAT SCREAMED 2, Dave Fife and Steve Torpy from RAZORTEETH, Brian Berry and Ken VanSant from PETER ROTTENTAIL, and Todd Carpenter from, well, damn near every movie the Polonias have ever made. There were about 50 people all told and lots of good food and drink. The Brothers were duly surprised, if not stunned, and the bash went well into the night.

Even though it was about 10 hours' driving each way, it was worth it in the end. Professionally, it was good to meet so many of the people from the movies, and hear about all of their other work and projects. Personally, it was a fun road trip and a good party. I think the Brothers regretted later the surprise element, as it was rare to have so many actors from so many different features there at once, and if someone like myself had thought to bring a script who knows what might have happened. Even more alarming, an irate webzine reviewer with a well-placed pipe bomb could have done untold damage to the b-movie industry.

Credit the Polonia Brothers, though, for having so many loyal friends and coworkers, which no matter what people think about their films speaks highly of them as people.

I got a sneak preview of RAZORTEETH while I was there, and will say that if you are a fan of killer piranha you will think this one descended from on high.

Of course I will post some pictures of my adventures over the next few days.

Until then, give me a shout at

Friday, September 24, 2004

Per Un Pugno Di Dollari

On Fridays I like to do a meme, so here's one from my pals at Four for Friday, right off the top of my head:

Q1: Breakfast: Do you eat breakfast every morning?
Yes, I like to have a bagel and a big mug of tea every morning if I can.

Q2: Lunch: If you could have lunch today with any two or three people you wanted (dead or alive), who would you have lunch with? Also, if you were able to eat that lunch at any location on the face of the planet, where would that be? And finally, if you could choose to eat anything you wanted, what would you have?
Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and his date; at an ice cream stand I stopped at in 1987 at the foot of the Great Wall of China; a BBQ sandwich and a chocolate malt.

Q3: Dinner: On average, how many nights per week can you be found cooking dinner for yourself or for yourself and others at home in your own kitchen?
I cook for the family Mondays, Wednesdays, and sometimes Saturdays. My menus: grilled stuff, pancakes and french toast, chili, spaghetti, buffalo strips, leftovers.

Q4: Generally speaking, which do you feel you have more of in your life... control or influence?
An odd fourth question; I think influence, but when you're at the bottom looking up it's hard to tell which is greater, or if it matters.

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Thursday, September 23, 2004

Sex Machine #9

Leather Girl and henchman in a reflective moment between bouts of mayhem in Christopher Sharpe's SEX MACHINE. Posted by Hello

Sex Machine #8

Some bad guys with low self-esteem get ready to put the hammer down in Christopher Sharpe's SEX MACHINE. Posted by Hello

Quel Maledetto Treno Blindato

I have received a lot of comments and emails over my last post about getting an agent; do you really need one, do you need to be in the Guild, pros and cons, and so on. I guess to clarify I would say I think having an agent, and to a certain extent being in the Guild, would be beneficial to getting certain kinds of projects; but I am afraid that it would be detrimental in being involved in certain other projects that you might want to be involved in, but can't (although I don't think it's nearly as complicated in the WGA as it is for the Screen Actor's Guild). So here's another hot-button question: what about psuedonyms? I think no, never, I would never do something I wouldn't want to put my real name on. And that's held so far. But many, many people have, for all sorts of reasons. Have I thought of a psuedonym? Sure, it would probably be my somewhat autobiographical protagonist from my Letterman Scholarship-winning script "West Coast Campus," Buster Sampson.

Over lunch I went to the local gaming store and played a new card game called "Dungeoneer" with my pal The Caveman. You run a hero through a random dungeon (made up of cards from the deck with sections of map on them) while playing cards out of your hand to help yourself (like spells and magical weapons), then playing cards on your opponents (traps and monsters) to hinder them. You basically try to win by accomplishing little missions, or more simply by killing your opponents. It has a more complex mechanic than it lets on at first, but it's fun. I'll have to try it again before weighing in for sure, though I did win the first game by wiping out the Caveman with my one-two punch of some sort of evil dragon and a monster with two tails.

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Just kidding.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Zorro's Fighting Legion

Damn, according to Netflix I've rated over 1,000 movies. I've seen a lot of flicks, I guess.

I've decided I need to take another spin at finding an agent. It's tricky, as you often can't get an agent unless you have something produced, but of course you can't get something produced unless you have an agent; just like it's hard to get into the Writer's Guild without having a sale to a guilded production, but of course you can't sell a script to a production that is going to be made through the Guild unless you happen to be in the Guild already. I guess I should say that it's more than tricky.

I'm probably going to have to stop typing in a moment as I am bleeding from the eyes.

Some loyal readers might recall that after my first script sale, details of which appeared in Hollywood Reporter and Variety (though it has not to date gone past development), I sent letters to every agent I could find--and got not one single response. Perhaps I will have better luck this time. We shall see.

Until then, give me a shout at

Monday, September 20, 2004

The Phantom Cowboy

I went to see Neil LaBute's "The Shape of Things" this weekend at Ball State University. A young art student takes on a nerdy guy as as sort of a reclamation project, but what exactly this "project" entails becomes more and more sinister as the play progresses. I thought the theatre students were excellent talents and I liked some elements of LaBute's play, though I figured out the twist ending about ten minutes in. He has a lot to say about the nature of art, especially performance art; I liked the scene where the nerd says, basically, that Picasso never took a dump and called it a sculpture.

There's a movie version, also by LaBute, that I'm going to try to snag off of Netflix to compare. Really a bitter pill, and I've thought a lot about it since. I know LaBute has been accused of being sexist and misogynst and several other -ists from time to time, but all I know for sure is that brother sure must have taken a bad p-whippin' once upon a time.

Next at Ball State is "Bat Boy," written by this guy, who directed a microcinema feature I really liked called NOTHING SO STRANGE (and you can read my review of it here).

It turns out the people of England like AMONG US:

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Friday, September 17, 2004

Sex Machine #7

Frank, Claire, and Owen enjoy a pause in the carnage at Owen's bowling alley. Posted by Hello

Sex Machine #6

Frank's pal Owen pining away for Frank's gal Claire; he runs a bowling alley, he's sort of like, well, a Frankenstein. And you thought your love life stunk. Posted by Hello

The Big Gold Dream

This week's meme comes from The Daily Dirt:

1. Who is your hero?
Jimmy Carter, currently spending his retirement building houses for homeless people.

2. Your angel?
William Goldman, whose words have saved me from screenwriting despair before.

3. Your best friend?
Matt Booty in the 70s (currently at Midway Games in Chicago), my brother in the 80s, my wife in the 90s.

4. Your imaginary friend (when you were younger, if you had any)?
A real kid named Jackie who only became imaginary when he moved away and I still pretended he was around.

5. Your favorite TV personality?
TV Horror Host Sammy Terry in the 70s, MTV VJ Martha Quinn in the 80s, Jerry Orbach in the 90s.

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Thursday, September 16, 2004

Sex Machine #5

When you're a Gen-X Frankenstein, sometimes only a beating will do. Posted by Hello

Sex Machine #4

"The Old Man" and his organ-harvesting crew want our humpty-dumpty hero Frank back in the fold. Don't do it, Frank! Posted by Hello

The Shattered Eye

In another disaster update (following up on the Daryn Kagan dating Rush Limbaugh story reported yesterday), I was watching the Weather Channel last night and caught a glimpse of Captain Anderson's in Panama City, the site of one of the top five meals I ever ate in my life, which looked to have been directly in the path of Hurricane Ivan, as part of the roof and sign seemed to be somewhere farther down the beach.

The dominoes keep falling.

For those keeping track of my homemade winemaking, I bottled off my Cranberry Shiraz, a rich and fruity summer wine, and started a drier fall Gewürztraminer that hopefully will be ready for Thanksgiving. I hope to publicly debut my Shiraz at a surprise gathering a week from Saturday, details forthcoming.

So this week a Hollywood pro came and spoke at the local college and apparently told everyone not to move to L.A. because it was full of evil and you would just get chewed up and spit back out. One wonders how aforementioned Hollywood pro is making it himself, and why he doesn't move away; but what really made me think is how this is like the microcinema world, where there is always someone telling you a cautionary tale about how you'll never sell your project and nobody will ever see it, and yet this person is currently working on something right that second. Probably these cautionary tales are worthy, and these people are just trying to save others agony, but the painful truth is that once that little spark inside you starts, it is incredibly hard to stamp out. Perhaps a better lesson might be that you do not have to move to LA or NY to make movies, that in fact they can be made anywhere.

For instance, I just watched a funny, full-throttle zombie movie from my pal Scott Phillips called THE STINK OF FLESH that was shot all in New Mexico, and of course there is the very promising SEX MACHINE from Christopher Sharpe of Oklahoma City, and a goofball vampire comedy from my pal Joe Sherlock called BLOODSUCKING REDNECK VAMPIRES in Oregon, and a thoughtful sci-fi movie from New England called GHOSTS OF HAMILTON STREET, and I have to give a shout out to fellow Hoosier Peter O'Keefe and a great little short called LULU TAKES A LOVER. And these are just off of the top of my head, and stuff I've watched recently.

One of the great things about microcinema--you see places, people, things you don't see from Hollywood. And for some people, people like me, that's a powerful magnet.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The Keep on the Borderlands

Whenever I write a post where I mention the lonely and oft-desperate lives of writers I always get a handful of emails from people in the same boat offering sympathy/empathy. We are all alone, but we are going through the same things together. I think that makes it better.

I was stunned to learn that Daryn Kagan of CNN is dating Rush Limbaugh. She's dead to me now. Now Linda Cohn has moved up in the #1 spot in the "In Case I Become A Widower" sweepstakes.

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Sex Machine #3

The Leather Girl, a bad girl with a heart of gold (leaf) that is after our spare-parts hero Frank in Christopher Sharpe's SEX MACHINE. The last two photos point up the main problem with shooting a feature in Oklahoma City, which is the lack of attractive women to cast. Posted by Hello

Sex Machine #2

Roommates Zoe and Claire confront a welcome/umwelcome intruder in Christopher Sharpe's SEX MACHINE. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Sex Machine #1

With director Christopher Sharpe's permission, I thought I might post some pictures from SEX MACHINE, currently wrapping up principal photography. Here we see our pieces-and-parts protagonist, Frank, in a post-coital moment of introspection with Claire. It is called SEX MACHINE, after all. Posted by Hello

Destination Moon

The household woke up this morning with tales of vivid dreams; my wife dreamed she was happily pregnant (!!!), my sixteen year old daughter dreamed she was married to John Cusack, "only when he was about 20 and hot" (!!!), and I dreamed I went to an Indigo Girls concert in a small town (?!?!). Interpretations welcome.

Poking along on two spec scripts and trying to keep the feelings of dread and failure from grasping too tightly to my chest. It is that quiet time between projects that the voices of self-doubt begin to whisper to writers. Perhaps it's time to start looking for an agent again.

During this lull I thought about posting the script for RAZORTEETH, due out next summer, but I think the script has changed so much that it might not be recognizable. Once I get a peek at the final cut I'll decide.

Someone found my blog by typing into a search engine Did John Dalton have lots of friends and boarding up for hurricanes and threesome story Debbie John (!!!).

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Friday, September 10, 2004

Spear and Fang

I try to do a meme every Friday, so here's one from Four for Friday:

Q1: If you were able to possess any supernatural power, what would that power be?

Is seeing the future a supernatural power? If not, I'd like to have a familiar. I think my current real life super power/supernatural power is the ability to always find a good parking space.

Q2: On this day in 1935, at the Bonneville Salt Flats in north western Utah, famed English speed demon Malcolm Campbell blew through the 300-miles-per-hour barrier to set a new land-speed record of 310.13 miles. What percent of the time you spend behind the steering wheel of your car would you say you drive faster than the posted speed limit?

Hardly ever, once my son starting racking up speeding tickets, as I tried to live by example. Before I got a few speeding tickets, always for (what I think) are ridiculously low speeds, like 62 in a 55 and 30 in a 20 (in a state park--I told the ranger I thought I was the first guy ever to get a speeding ticket going 30 mph). Then I hear from some cute college girl who cries her way out of 90 in a 55 or a guy that charms his way out of the same. I've never got a warning. Every time I've been pulled over, ticket. Offsets my parking space power, I guess.

Q3: Can one live alone with just having friends in their life, or are we human beings only complete if we have a family of our own, i.e., a husband/wife/partner and children?

It works for me, but it ain't for everybody, so don't push it. One can live alone. I know some people that married the people they thought they 'should' marry but really wanted to be single and some that want so badly to be in a family but can't find someone. Finding and keeping a family really is almost a supernatural power.

Q4: What is one thing that you could start doing today that would immediately improve the quality of your life?

Start running again like I keep saying I will.

Until next time, give me a holler at

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Lair of the Beast Men

A great update on Christopher Sharpe's SEX MACHINE over at his journal, here.

I would like to say that I fell silent these last few days because of overwork but it's more because for the first time in a long while I don't have a new project in the hopper. People always say about screenwriting, "well, it's feast or famine," but notice how most people mention that when it's feast instead of when it's famine. Nobody wants to draw attention to themselves when it's famine.

So I got a GPS for my birthday from my wife and tested it while camping with her family. All the guys thought it was great and all the girls wondered why you couldn't just look at a map.

And I am getting a new driveway poured, and I am watching a lot of a great show called Freaks and Geeks on DVD via Netflix, and I read a good Avengers storyline borrowed from my pal Doug called "The Red Zone" which takes place around Mt. Rushmore where I recently visited with my pals from Microcinema Fest, and I had a prostate exam this morning.

Now faithful readers are caught up on everything, except that I started a new spec script about superheroes, another one like the Shakespeare adaptation that I've wanted to write for a while, but hopefully this one won't be met with a roaring tsunami of indifference. Though it probably will.

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Friday, September 03, 2004

The Wrecking Crew

Here's a meme from my pals at the Daily Dirt:

1. What is your favorite movie of all time?

I have always said Dr. Strangelove though I rarely rewatch it; so if I was basing it on rewatching movies it would end up being When Harry Met Sally or Jesus Christ Superstar, which I seem to watch every year at the appropriate season, and maybe every now and then in between. Some others I like are listed in the column on the right.

2. What is your most-hated movie?

There is a lot of banal crap in Hollywood and elsewhere, but I don't hate it per se; so I would have to pick something that has some evil intent, like Triumph of the Will or perhaps to some degree Birth of A Nation.

3. What book would you like to see made into a movie?

Colonel Sun by well-known British author Kingsley Amis (written under the pen name Robert Markham), a James Bond novel published after Ian Fleming's death that few people seem to know exists. I would love to direct this myself. I wonder where the rights are on this?

4. What movie has the best soundtrack?

Saturday Night Fever, bar none; though I do listen to O Brother Where Art Thou a lot.

5. Which movie have you seen more than any other?

When I was growing up my mom made me sit and watch Grease and The Wiz with her a lot. By my own reckoning, I suspect it is A Christmas Story, based on its appearance at numerous family gatherings and young nephew's sleepovers; with It's A Wonderful Life and The Wizard of Oz rounding out the top three.

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Thursday, September 02, 2004

Death of a Citizen

I had to dig my old college transcript out of a file cabinet and had sort of forgotten that I once got a C in the very scriptwriting class that I teach now. Loyal readers' degree of surprise will be based entirely on how much they liked AMONG US and PETER ROTTENTAIL.

It was taught by an older instructor who had once written extensively for radio drama. This was in the waning days of his teaching career and he missed a lot of days because of illness. I was a shaggy-haired kid in a Who t-shirt who thought he already knew everything and had nothing to learn, and never suspected that other shaggy-haired kids would think the same thing about him in the far future, when he would stand up in front of a class with a buzz haircut and a tie and teach the same subject.

I'm sure that to some degree I was a pain in the ass, and undoubtedly deserved a C. So years later, long after his death, I tried to make amends.

He had donated his video collection to the university and it was being stored untouched in a storage area that was now needed for something else to be stored that nobody wanted. I had a chance to take a look at this collection before, it was presumed, all of his tapes were going to be run under a big-ass magnet and recycled en masse. There were hundreds of videos that my former teacher had meticulously typed a synopsis for on index cards, and stuck in each box, which had color-coded construction paper sleeves that were also full of typed information. Unfortunately most of these would be considered bootlegs and could not be stored in a library system. It broke my heart to see all of this go to waste.

So I carefully culled out the actual purchased tapes and donated those to the university library in his name, then went through crate after crate, looking at every bootleg, and selecting a few dozen rare or classic movies that I set aside to form a department "library" of tapes for students to look at "for historic purposes only." Then I took a few dozen that I wanted to watch or have and stuck it in my office, and I am eating a ham salad sandwich and looking at that very same box right now. After a few weeks I had gone through everything and let it go off with a clear conscience.

Hopefully one day when I am dead some ill-favored student will pay me back in a similar fashion. It's how the world goes 'round.

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