It has been too long since Molly died, and I’ve moved into a for real house and got a new pup. So to break my long spell I updated my About Me page. What do you think? Any suggestions?
It has been too long since Molly died, and I’ve moved into a for real house and got a new pup. So to break my long spell I updated my About Me page. What do you think? Any suggestions?
Let’s play pretend. OK. Let’s say this is who you are: You’re male. Mother died at say age seven, father soon after, perhaps ten. You were shipped off to a boy’s school with all the neglect, abuse and buggery that entails. You got on other boys’ good-side by doing their work for them. They all got A’s, but you neglected your own work. You attached yourself to a more forward boy. First in class, with your help. He’s a dick, but he protects you. Or at least he leaves you enough space to exist without the need to assert yourself too much. You can tolerate him, let’s say.
You graduate, you’re a professional. You and your school “friend” go off to finish your studies together. You pick up a strong habit of general laziness, debauchery and letting your buddy direct your life. He starts a business, you follow him into it. You’re his grunt, and his secret. He’s got the ego to push himself forward, you’ve got the brain to work out his professional problems for him. And you don’t care about credit. You get to continue your anonymous life, drifting. He gets to use you. You let yourself be used. You have no sense of deserving anything else. Anything better.
You stay up all night. You drink. You keep bad company. By your late twenties, you’re a person of wasted talent with no idea of how to turn the life that repulses your soul around. And if you did know how, you don’t even know if it’s worth the effort. You’re life is already a waste, to you, a “might have been.”
So let’s say something turns you around. Of course, it’s a girl. A perfect girl. A female so far above you, so ideal in your mind that you’ve turned her into a “goddess” that you worship, but of whom you’d never be worthy. So you hang out in her presence, around her among others. You don’t speak to her too much. But you’re there.
So, obviously, a woman so perfect would get a lot of attention right? And there HE is. And fuck him, but he’s so perfect. He’s just got to be for her. Not you, right? So why not make sure? You finally go to her and speak to her. You tell her you love her. All the words rush out in a torrent. But she doesn’t stop you. She’s even encouraging. And then, you do what you have to, you spell every microscopic, disgusting detail of yourself. You lay a perfect picture before her eyes of the ruin you would make of her life if she chose to be with you. Surprise! She agrees. But she’ll never betray your trust in opening up to her, and wants to save you (you of all people!). So you simply promise that she will save, just by letting you do anything for her or the people she loves.
So, having spent a few minutes with this guy, what do you think? How do you feel about him? What sort of person is he? What sort of future does a man like this have? What sort of future does he see himself as having?
Most importantly, what if he actually got his chance. What if he (you) did have the opportunity to save her and her loved ones by making one great sacrifice — this life you hate. And what if that sacrifice not only completely failed, she died in the process. Everyone died but you. You lived — were, in fact, saved…what would you do? How would you feel?
Thoughts? Feelings? Please play with me?
I want to stay in…get things done.
Bowie understands. As usual. And people who love winter can go do their lumberjack and I’m OK thing. Just leave me be. I don’t want to go out. I’m sick and things aren’t getting done that I want to do. I’ve figured out a few things though.
Firstly, my goal of writing an outline in a week was not attainable. I realized this the other day. Someone asked me what was the best way to refine their writing project. So I gave them the old schpiel. Find a few words that describe the basic themes. Words like Love, Revenge, Ambition, Betrayal, Wonder, Coming of Age — the basic stuff we all get: sex, death and all the stuff in between. Fix a genre with one or two sub-categories (sci-fi action/drama). And explain the plot in one or two sentences (A college-kid must decide whether his Uncle killed his father, and struggles with how to react to that knowledge, while tearing the lives around him apart). It’s Jaws meets Terminator. What have you. Basic stuff.
And then it hit me, that I needed a dose of my own medicine on the writing front. I’ve been looking too carefully at the individual parts and the esoteric stuff that I’d lost perspective on my own story, and I need to go back and do this to my tale again.
So, that’s my new focus for this week. Would i’twere so simple. I just can’t seem to feel well. People want me to do stuff and go outside. And as usual, I’m convinced I have walking pneumonia, and I’m slowly dying. But aside from my hypochondria and feeling less sociable than usual (which is never particularly social), I’m becoming less than pleased.
Last year, I put too much on hold because of “life”– not even my own. That made me feel like a good human being for tic. But when my own health took revenge in a bout of bronchitis, I figured I’d outdid the “others” thing. Then there was the holiday we do not mention. And now I’ve gotten back to work, people still want to do stuff like that’s normal in February because they’re insane and my body is in revolt again.
I think the best thing for me to do is stay in my pajamas until April. Going outside makes me sick. Activity gives me asthma attacks. My sinuses don’t like the dry air. So I’m staying in, getting better and getting some things done for me. I just don’t care about going outside. I don’t care about much that isn’t in my sphere of interests on a good day. So, I’m not over-extending what little brain power I have left. Just let me write and play Battlefront and color and leave me be. Also there’s my violin. Jeez, I have a lot to do. How am I’m supposed to take care of outside stuff. I feed myself and my animals. I walk my dog. What else do you want from me world?!
When the spring comes, I will feel better. Although that’s another bad time for the allergies, but I don’t mind it because it’s nice out. I’ll still find ways to ignore people and stuff. But this is what I’m rocking for now. Don’t believe in modern love or winter.
I don’t know how you make up people, but here’s how I do it. First off, when I say “make up people”, I actually mean create a character. I’m of the mind that writers simply call it “character creation” because it sounds more sane. It’s not. At least for me. But I get into it, so I suppose I enjoy it. Here’s how it goes for me.
Let me make clear I’m speaking of intentional characters. These are the ones I’ve intended to be in the story from the get-go. There are other characters that sort of end up happening because plot, but I always try to give them the love they deserve too. This just isn’t about them. The intentional ones get lots of time. I usually first look for a model for this person. An actor, a performance, an actual person, another fictional character. But it helps me to have a visual model. They may experience some drift over time, but once I “cast” my character in my mind it’s a go. And characters that refuse to find a model are infuriating.
I do the written exercises. I write several pages of their biographies, and I do Syd Field three “P’s”. That is: What are their Personal lives like? What is their Profession? And what do they do in Private? My personal favorite is what they do in private. What one does when one is alone is probably more telling than anything else. Rocky Balboa tells stories to his turtles. Gollum talks to himself. Dexter kills people. Walter White just sits there, thinking. And often revealing what a character does on their own is where some wonderful story telling sneaks in.
Obviously, this requires a lot of thought. And how I deal with it is role-playing. I consider my self as this other person and pretend to be them. I do this normally while going about my daily routine. I imagine what they would say or do in various situations. How they walk. What their speech patterns would be like. How they act and react. And if you ever catch me seeming not myself, it’s because I’m trying that person out on you.
I’ll tell you what though, it’s more difficult to be some people over others. I’ve written so many different people from different times and circumstances, I’m not even going to list them. And, yes, of course they all get a lot of me. But, to my mind, finding what’s “like me” in a character is finding what makes them human, to my mind. It’s what makes them sympathetic. And even a “bad guy” ought to have that. But the worst are the ones that reflect back on “like me” something I’m not overly-keen to see.
My latest fellow is probably the worst of a fairly varied lot that includes both the innocent and the wise, as well as the murderous and distasteful, and a lot of places in between. But I just had to pick a depressive this time. It’s very difficult to be objective with someone who is already “like me” in a way that I’m less than excited to admit. He’s a lot worse off than myself in some ways, and I pity the guy. But it’s like looking at your pores in a magnifying mirror, or trying on bathing suits under florescent lights. Uncomfortable.
So even if my carriage of myself may be off, or I may seem a bit down. Don’t fret. I’m taking an honest look at man who of himself, would have this to say, “Think of me as one who died young. All of my life might have been.” And remember that I’m giving him a lot more life than he ever expected or would have wanted. So, he’s in for a lot more pain than he already has. Torture time! Poor guy.
Maybe if I can pity him, I can do the same for others who may or may not be a bit “like me.” Maybe I can even find room in my heart for just me.
I suppose it would come as no great surprise, given the nature of this blog, that I adore the work of J.R.R. Tolkien. Personally, one of the most enlightening elements of the special features of the Extended Editions of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit (now officially the Middle Earth Saga) is hearing the writers of the films discuss the difficulty in translating Tolkien to film. But it isn’t the length or density of Tolkien that troubles the nights and days of Phillipa Boyens, Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson most, but the distinctly unprofessional style of his narratives. Tolkien, after all, was foremost a professor of linguistics who made up fake languages and an alternate universe on the side. In fact, taking a step back to view the scope of what he has written for and about Middle Earth, it verges on monomaniacal madness.
But then there’s the undeniable success of both the books and films to attest to the deep meaning and love that so many people find in Tolkien’s work. So, let’s toss the style sheets and the outlines, the synopses, log-lines, character breakdowns and pitches for a moment. Let’s look at what writers can learn from the greatest amateur of our age.
1) Write something that you, yourself, would like to read. The driving force behind The Inklings, Tolkien and C.S. Lewis’ group of literary friends, was the lack of modern literature that they found interesting. While Da-da, surrealism and absurdism reigned between the First World War and the Second, naturalism and social-realism seemed to dominate after. But for Tolkien, neither complete rejection of all meaning and the past, nor the hard-bitten acceptance of the post-nuclear world would do. If anything, by reaching into the literary and mythological past, Tolkien strove to re-write (and, thereby, to right) the wrongs of the world as he experienced it. By recasting old heroes and stories in a frame for the modern audience, he strove and found in that fertile ground new meaning and new relevance. It just so happened that in his traumatized times (and ours), he wasn’t alone. The moral for writers being: if you feel the lack, then likely others do as well.
2) The importance of being named. Naming is ancient magic. A name gives form and reality to the formless. Naming a star, a weapon, a space-mission, a child all still hold resonance somewhere deep in our human soul. Names came first for Tolkien, and yet are sometimes problematic. Sauron and Saruman spring to mind as a sticking point, but are they? True, these names are but one of many for these two characters. Like most in Middle Earth, they are known by various names in his various tongues. But while a pro might never have two antagonists with names so close in sound, doesn’t the sound also link them? Those sulfurous S’s and thunderously rolling R’s are evocative of their particular form of evil. Just as the cozy familiarity of Sam, the woodiness of Frodo, and brightness of Merry and Pippin all give us character information before we ever get to know them. Which leads me to…
3) Trust your audience. Not everyone will be enchanted into the dense, footnoted, and appended world of The Lord of the Rings. Like any good myth, Tolkien plops us down in the vaguely familiar world of the Shire before whisking the reader to “the heart of the forest” where, as Joseph Campbell noted, “the journey begins…where it is darkest and there are no paths.” And what holds for the journey of the reader, holds as well for the writer: every story is a journey, an adventure. Tolkien dared to lead us into a world-apart, into territory he himself was still discovering, and his lust for the thrill of discovery draws us with him. Perhaps this world is not for all, but then again, not everyone wants to live in a world of giant CGI robots and Adam Sandler movies either. Like a wise and forbearing Gandalf, Tolkien suffers the reader, gives us sign and sage advice, and leads us with him, and we follow, even to the Fires of Mount Doom (and the appendix on calenders).
4) Little heroes in a great big world. If Superman were never Clark Kent, no one would ever care much about him. Where is the human connection with an indestructible alien? The same holds for the hobbits of the world of Tolkien. We might all admire and wish to be like the heroic men and women, elves (and even dwarves) that populate Middle Earth, but at heart most of us are closer to the hobbit who wishes for nothing more than to sit in his favorite comfy chair by the fire tucking into second breakfast. And here lies the heart of Tolkien. His faith in the essential goodness and decency of common folk to pass through the worst of times may have been forged in the fire and fog of war, and that unwavering faith ultimately forms our bond to the high-flung drama and darkness of his creation. It gives each of us the hope and strength to believe that we too might be able to combat the evils we face in our daily lives, no matter how small we may sometimes feel.
Finally, as writers, Tolkien reminds us that we are the ring-bearers. We must decide. And though it may be a burden that drives us nearly to despair and madness, hopefully we will find along the way a Sam and a Fellowship to keep us on our path and pick us up when we stumble. As for a Gandalf, well, as I said, Professor Tolkien has passed through fire and shadow before us, so that we might know better the way.
BLOCK: Pilot “THE HUMAN EQUATION”
EXT. HOLLYWOOD BLVD – DAY
Clayton “Clay” FORRESTER wears a modern desert fatigue jacket with a Marine Corps badge, jeans, aviator shades and cowboy boots. His last name is stenciled above his jacket’s front pocket and across its back. He’s built like a cowboy, lean. He takes long strides, but keeps his fists balled up in his pockets. He’s into his thirties, but his hair has already begun to grey at the temples. His face is handsome, changing from stoic, stone-set jaw, to “aw shucks” charm.
If he walked down the street in any American neighborhood, you’d peg him as a survivalist and try to avoid conversation. But here he blends right in with the rest of the freaks: tourists in loud Disney shirts, guys dressed as Superman, women dressed as Marilyn Monroe in the white dress, X-men and Storm-troopers, junkies, hippies, street performers, tour guides, the occasional ‘incognito’ celebrity, and a dozen other wannabees walking down the street full of people past ‘Old Hollywood’ hotels in varying states of decay or gentrification, garish store fronts and souvenir shops.
CLAY (V.O.) People ain’t born in this town. They all just kinda pour outta the sticks and crap towns. Drain here like a giant toilet. Wanderin’. Looking for somethin’, someone, anyone to notice. Stand out from the herd. Show them the way.
INT. CLAY’S RENTED ROOM – EVENING
A toilet FLUSHES. Clay sits down at an old formica-top table in his Spartan, shabby rented room. All his gear is stowed in a sea-bag with his name stenciled on it. The tiny bed is made to military precision, a military-issue handgun by its side. He looks like he could move out in a minute. He pours some cheap brandy into a bottle of chocolate milk, shakes it up and chugs it down.
Before him lies a sketchbook, pencils and a set of Rapidiograph pens. He has sketched out a page of panels, as in graphic novels, depicting himself on the street amid the sea of people and his room as already seen. He inks in a panel of himself sitting alone at his table with this caption:
CLAY (V.O. as he works) There was this poem we learned back in school. ‘I am nobody. Who are you? Are you nobody too?’ Hey, I’m nobody…
Clay’s writing trails off. He leans back in his chair and closes his eyes.
EXT. VENICE BEACH – NEXT DAY
Clay, in his get-up, stands out from the crowd by how much clothing he is wearing. In a place where everyone is showing off their body, their tattoos, piercings, hairstyles, etc. he looks as though he had been dropped into the scene from some other world.
He watches a legless Vet begging from a distance. A VOICE CALLS HIM back to the world.
MAN’S VOICE (O.S) Forrester! Forrester! Yo, Clay!
Clay turns and focuses his eyes on MIGUEL, a young man about Clay’s age wearing cargo shorts and combat boots. Miguel approaches Clay, who still seems lost. Clay submits to a ‘bro-hug’.
MIGUEL Clayton Forrester, what da fuck?
CLAY Aw, hell. Rodriguez? Miguel? Jeez, I thought I was seein’ stuff.
MIGUEL Well there’s no mistaking your dumb, hick ass.
CLAY Yeah, I guess.
MIGUEL So, what landed you in this shit-hole?
CLAY I dunno. I got stuff…things, ya know.
MIGUEL No man, I got no fucking idea what you’re saying, as usual, right? Come on. Let’s get a beer.
INT. BAR – LATER ON
Clay and Miguel sit at a darkened bar having some beers.
MIGUEL You just dropped off the earth, Clay. Med-vacced out. Shipped home. Fucking Keyser Soze-ed, just, poof, disappeared.
CLAY Yeah, I had some…
CLAY Yeah…spent some time out ‘Twenty-nine Stumps’.
MIGUEL Just what you needed, more desert.
CLAY Don’t I know it. It was ‘observation’ and all that. Half-way between here n Vegas. Figured I try my luck here.
MIGUEL Your family?
Clay shakes his head.
MIGUEL Sorry dude. I hate to say it, but I had the same idea as you.
CLAY Oh, yeah? What’s that?
MIGUEL Combat engineer, right? Thought I could like be some kind of military adviser or do pyrotechnics for the movies. Turns out you need all kinds of civilian certifications and shit. Besides, well hell, you know what it’s like. The looks, like they think you’re gonna have some kinda Nam flashback any second. ‘But thank you for your service.’ Assholes.
MIGUEL So at least I figured I got the Bill, right? I never cashed out my benies. So now I’m going to college.
CLAY That so? Good for you.
MIGUEL So, how you doing?
CLAY I can’t afford where I’m stayin’. Seems like you can’t find no place to stay here that’s decent that don’t cost a million dollars.
MIGUEL Huh. That’s funny.
MIGUEL Nothing, I just heard someone I know on campus say just the opposite.
CLAY Oh, yeah? What’s that?
MIGUEL That she found a decent place cheap, put down the security and all, but can’t find someone to split the rent with her.
CLAY I could.
Miguel turns quiet.
MIGUEL I don’t know, Clay.
CLAY Why not? There something wrong with her?
MIGUEL Not really. She takes a lot of non-requireds. Out of the way stuff. Nerdy, I guess. Sticks to herself.
CLAY To tell the truth, quiet and nerdy seem about right to me just now.
MIGUEL Yeah, well, you don’t know CK Block.
CLAY Why? She some crazy chick? Guys? Drama? All that stuff?
MIGUEL CK? No way, man. She’s just kinda…weird n’ …
CLAY Stuff? Well, I guess I’m ‘weird n’ stuff’ myself. Set up a meet.
MIGUEL Alright, I’ll text her. But whatever happens is on you, got it?
CLAY I got it. Always were a jumpy sonofabitch, ya know that?
EXT. CAMPUS TEA & COFFEE SHOP – SAME DAY
Clay sits waiting on a bench. Miguel shows up.
MIGUEL Glad you found it OK.
CLAY Got here faster’n you.
They walk towards the entrance to the shop. Miguel stops and turns to Clay.
MIGUEL Man, I gotta just tell ya. She beat a dead pig with a baseball bat.
MIGUEL In the Criminal Science lab.
CLAY Well maybe it was like school stuff…homework. Just quit making excuses n take me to see her. Can you do that?
MIGUEL Right on. But I warned ya…
CLAY I know, wash your hands an’ all that…may we?
INT. TEA & COFFEE SHOP – CONTINUOUS
The bright, smartly decorated shop is full of students talking, studying, playing on tablets. Clay takes off his shades. Miguel points to a high, long bar-table against the far wall.
MIGUEL There she is.
Clay moves through the crowd with Miguel following. CATHERINE KINCAID BLOCK has her back to him. She has several cups of tea lined up in front of her on the bar. She studies them intently. Miguel steps up behind her and taps her on her shoulder.
MIGUEL Hey, CK. This is Clayton Forrester? The guy I texted you about?
A pale but animated face turns towards them. CK Block is diminutive with short hair, dressed in vintage/thrift store cast-offs. She has sharp features and an ageless, pixie look. Her eyes are intense and beaming.
CK I have found it! Here. Take a sip.
She pushes one of the cups of tea into Clay’s hands. Clay gives his ‘aw shucks’ smile, shrugs and drinks some.
CK That’s enough. What do you taste?
CLAY Tea? Some kinda orangey flavor?
CK That’s bergamot. Anything else?
CK Thank you! I have to send a quick text.
CK whips out her phone and dashes off a text. As she finishes, Clay mindlessly raises the cup to his mouth again. CK’s hand darts out and grabs the cup from him.
CK I wouldn’t do that.
CLAY Why not?
CK Nothing. Not to worry. Unless you’ve been drinking.
She takes a sip of the tea, smiles, and sits it down on the table.
CK I’m sorry. It’s just impossible for the average individual to poison another anymore. Homeland Security and all that…and the lily of the valley. But you…I’m sorry, who are you?
MIGUEL This is the guy I texted you about the apartment.
CK hops from her stool, wipes her hand on her shirt, and extends it to Clay. He towers over her.
CK Catherine Kincaid Block. I think people call me CK.
Clay takes her hand.
CLAY Pleased to meet you. You can call me Clay…
CK quickly withdraws her hand from the embrace.
CK (interrupting) Lance Corporal Clayton Forrester. US Marine Corps, Combat engineer, specializing in Explosive Ordinance Disposal and Battlefield Clearance. Three tours in Iraq. Diagnosed PTSD. Divorced. (in response to Clay’s questioning look) You should change your social media passwords. ‘Monkey’ is one of the most common, and a fair bet if you use one as your profile pic.
CLAY Hold up now, you hacked…?
CK’s face doesn’t register having committed a violation.
CK When Miguel texted me, I thought it prudent to learn who I’d be living with. Let’s see, you’ll want to know about me: I use an e-cigarette,spend a lot of time on my work. If you find me lying on the sofa not speaking, don’t worry, it’ll pass. I like music. The place has two bedrooms and two baths. I already moved in, but we can swap rooms if you’d like. All you need is half month’s rent, and you can move in tomorrow. Sound good?
CLAY Half month’s rent. Sounds good.
CK Then it’s settled. Give me your number, and I’ll text you the address.
They exchange numbers.
CK Until tomorrow then. Oh, love the Travis Bickle look.
CK turns back to her ‘tea’ before Clay can respond. Clay and Miguel turn towards the exit.
CLAY She just poisoned me.
MIGUEL I’m sorry, man. I’ll make up some excuse for you.
CLAY Why? I’m taking the apartment.
MIGUEL You’re kidding, right?
CLAY She’s the first stranger in this town who’s even looked at me twice. Besides, it’s half-rent.
Clay puts his shades back on as they exit into the sun.
Block: The Human Equation, TV Pilot WGA registration: I267101
Jessica Lakis, 2015
by, Jessica Lakis
INT. HOTEL ROOM – NIGHT
A large and expensive resort hotel suite decorated in dark tropical wood. Well partied in. Empty bottles with big red labels announce ‘Cacique’ guaro with an Indian chief head. Male and female clothing intermingle, mixed with carved iguanas and turtles and pamphlets that read ‘Pura Vida’ and ‘Bienvenidos a Costa Rica!’
The room’s bar has a large statue on it. It’s a trophy: a giant gold ‘V’ with a right fist holding a baseball. It reads: ‘Cy Young Award, 2007, Brian Leppzinger, National League.’
A CRASH OF GLASS
MAN’S VOICE What the hell are you doing in there? Look, can you go now? Go? You know, vamos?
Outside the hotel bathroom stands BRIAN LEPPZINGER. Brian is a young, fit man. His beard is scrubby and his hair needs a cut. He’s wearing boxers and a t-shirt.
The bathroom door opens. A PROSTITUTE wobbles out.
PROSTITUTE Vamos mean we go.
BRIAN No, you go.
PROSTITUTE I need taxi.
BRIAN Alright fine, hold on.
Brian goes to his wallet by the bed and pulls out several thousand colone notes.
PROSTITUTE No colones. Dollars.
He flips a couple of hundred dollar bills at her.
PROSTITUTE Taxi cost more.
BRIAN Damn those Costa Rican taxis. He flips her another couple hundred.
PROSTITUTE No party more?
BRIAN No. Not for you. You go home.
He corrals her towards the door as she stumbles over the furniture and trash. She kisses her finger and places it on the trophy then puts her finger on his right arm.
PROSTITUTE Big ball player.
Brian opens the door and forces her out.
BRIAN Wrong arm.
HE SLAMS THE DOOR SHUT.
Brian goes over to the trophy.
BRIAN Pura vida baby.
CUT TO: EXT. BEACH BY RESORT – SAME NIGHT
Brian speeds along the beach in a golf cart. He gulps Cacique from the bottle.
BRIAN Pura vida, baby! Yeah! Pura vida! Cy Young baby! Right here!
He CONTINUES SCREAMING and drinking as he veers the golf cart sharply towards the parking lot. It hits a parking barrier and flips.
Brian’s shoulder hits pavement. The rest of the cart falls on top of him as THE BOTTLE SHATTERS.
CUT TO: INT. DEL REY HOTEL ROOM – DAY
A different hotel room. Looks like someone vomited pink and gold on it in the 60s. An empty Cacique bottle on the nightstand. FROM OUTSIDE LOUD REGGATON MUSIC.
Brian pulls himself up from the pillow and sits on the side of the bed. His beard is longer. He looks ragged from late nights and drink.
BRIAN Trumpets and airhorns.
He makes his way to the shower.
CUT TO: INT. DEL REY HOTEL BAR & CASINO – SAME DAY
The Del Rey Hotel Bar & Casino is a large old building in the grand style of Spanish imperialism. The interior looks one part Costa Rican tourist trap, one part ‘gentleman’s lounge’ if the ‘gentleman’ in question were Donald Trump on the low-point of a ‘Fear and Loathing’ bender.
There are large screen TVs playing news and sports channels. Their din of Spanish and English echoes the conversations of the mix of seedy gringos in loud tropical print shirts, well-dresed Ticos, and the occasional business man. They are all drinking in the middle of the day.
TOM sits at the bar reading USA Today. Tom is an older man. He has white hair and the flushed face and stomach of a man who likes good drink and good food, but he’s tan, well-groomed, with white shiny teeth, and wears a neat, subdued print, button-down shirt with pressed khakis. He could 50 or 80.
The headline of the sport’s section reads: ‘Leftie Zinger Leaves Phils: Cy Young winner walks one year into contract.’ There is a picture beneath. It’s of Brian.
TOM (TO NO ONE) Goddammit! Just…Goddammit!
Tom folds the paper and looks generally annoyed at the world for a moment. He motions the DEL REY BARTENDER for another drink. He’s having Johnny Walker neat.
Brian enters and takes a seat across from Tom.
BRIAN Hey, uh, key-er-oh…Bloody Mary…with Cacique…con Cacique.
DEL REY BARTENDER Con gusto.
Tom looks over at Brian.
TOM You really drink that local rot-gut?
BRIAN Yeah, I kinda got used to it.
TOM You could get used to gasoline too. Doesn’t mean you should drink it. Hey chief! (to the Bartender, LOUD AND SLOWLY) MAKE IT WITH VODKA…CON VODKA…GREYGOOSE. YO COMPRO.
DEL REY BARTENDER Bloody Mary with Grey Goose and you’re buying. Con gusto, senor.
Tom turns to Brian.
TOM There fixed you up.
BRIAN Didn’t have to.
TOM I know. I wanted to. I wanted to buy The Zinger a drink.
Tom taps the sports page.
BRIAN Oh. Yeah, well thanks…
TOM Thomas O’Mallory. I’m Italian. Call me Tom.
BRIAN Brian Leppzinger. Half German, half Polish.
TOM Does the German half try to take over the Polish half?
Tom extends his hand. Brian takes it. Tom has a vice-grip handshake. Brian extracts his hand as his drink arrives.
TOM You drink that and tell me if it isn’t better than that guaro shit. It’s better right? Right?
Brian gulps some down.
BRIAN Yeah, I guess it is.
TOM Goddamn right it is. ‘What is, is, and what ain’t, ain’t.’ You know I’ve been following you since you were drafted? Right outta high school. You come from Philly right?
BRIAN Yeah, the Northeast.
TOM Hate Philly. Dead town. Never could make anything stick there. Not even my second wife. Gotta kid there too. Probably stupid like his mother. She was from the Northeast. You staying here?
BRIAN I’ve been in San Jose for about four months…since the accident and all…
TOM Revisiting the scene of the crime, eh? You staying here, at the Del Rey?
BRIAN Yeah, just sort of..
TOM Drinking. Whoring. Feeling sorry for yourself. Jesus. This is no place to stay. Fucked up, son. You fucked up. But ya gotta put it behind you. Can’t carry the past around with you. Weighs ya down. At some point you gotta put that gunny-sack down and walk on.
TOM Look, I can see you’re a nice young man. But you’re stuck on a position. You gotta get off it. I’ve got a good little business going on here. I gotta nice house and a girlfriend, well, you know. Anyhow, how about you come out to dinner with me tonight at the White House. They have real American steak there. Not that rubber they eat here. I’ll bring my girl and her sister. You’ll like her.
BRIAN Oh, I don’t know. I’m kind of tired of…
TOM Oh, no, the sister’s not one of those! She speaks English. Wants to go to school in the States. Look it’s just a good time, good company, good food.
BRIAN Yeah, OK, sure.
TOM Great. Meet you here around six. Then we’ll go get the girls.
TOM Great. I gotta check in at the office. I’ll see you at six.
Tom makes the “check” sign. Puts some money down and waves away the change.
TOM See ya, son.
BRIAN Wait. What’s the girl’s name?
TOM Yours is Vanessa. Mine’s Roberta. Goddammit I hate that name! Tom turns to leave then turns back.
TOM And get a shave. Jesus. You look like shit.
Brian is left alone at the bar.
Recent screenplays by
CHILDREN OF SATURN focuses on the struggle of a small community to maintain their humanity through a desperate fight to stay alive in the cold isolation of a shipping outpost on Saturn’s moon Titan.
BLOCK, “The Human Equation” Pilot for hour-long series. When broke and lonely Marine Clayton Forrester moves to Los Angeles, he discovers more than just a room-mate in the mysterious, super-nerd extraordinaire, Catherine Kincaid (CK) Block.
Dear Sir, (Letters to a Union Soldier)
20 minute non-traditional narrative.
by, Jessica Lakis & Michael Mullan
DEAR SIR traces the interconnected stories of a Civil War soldier and a modern young man who shares his name as they struggle with both their common dreams and individual fates.
The impetus for DEAR SIR began when film-maker Michael Mullan discovered a gravestone at the Gettysburg National Cemetery that bore his name. Further research into archives revealed the historical Lt. Michael Mullin to be an Irish immigrant who once lived in Mullan’s old neighborhood in Philadelphia.
Finding this coincidence too great, Mullan and Jessica Lakis set out to create a way for the two men to communicate over time. This resulted in the creation of a “journal” for Lt. Mullin. Writer and co-director/producer, Jessica Lakis, based her writing of his fictitious “journal” on available biographical information, research into the Irish experience of emigration and the American Civil War, and contemporary writing samples. The result of this effort often misleads viewers as to the journal’s authenticity.
Filmed mainly in Pennsylvania on a shoe-string budget, DEAR SIR went on to become the only selection of an under-graduate film at the 2000 Student Academy Awards. Among other honors, as well as local and national airing, “Dear Sir,(Letters to a Union Soldier)” continues to catch the attention and hearts of all who watch it. A fitting tribute for a true labor of love.
By, Jessica Lakis
Logline: THE BLOOD DHARMA weaves an exotic tale of love, betrayal, and revenge set against the terror of the Indian Mutiny against the British.
Synopsis: Rajput warrior IKSANDER is left for dead at the foot of his beloved’s funeral pyre. Saved by a mysterious stranger, and aided by an unlikely band of confederates — he seeks vengeance on those responsible. THE BLOOD DHARMA is part John Ford/Kurosawa yarn and part David Lean period adventure. The main drama and conflict arise from the clash of the worlds of the native rajputs and that of the British East India Company.
Iksander is a military leader from a noble line He lives to serve his lord, THE RAJAH, but his heart belongs to the Rajah’s sister RADHA. His preordained world is torn from him when the fearful Rajah agrees to sacrifice Iksander’s life for a treaty with an ambitious East India Company agent to ensure his title. With Iksander left for dead, Radha kills herself in grief. An Untouchable and a mysterious man who live in the mountains rescue Iksander from death. Iksander’s life as a dutiful servant is replaced by the desire for revenge. But Iksander’s journey will do more than test his strength; his beliefs, views on duty and caste, and even his selfish quest must all be challenged if he is to achieve vengeance.
JAMES STUART CAMPBELL is an agent of the quasi-military British East India Company. Unlike the nobly born Iksander, James has relied on his intellect and cunning to rise to his position in life. He is tasked to make favorable trading terms with the Rajah’s opium-rich kingdom or annex it. From his residence, complete with British-style furnishings and rose bushes, capturing the kingdom is a chess game with the reward of advancement and wealth if he wins. His only human care — frighteningly so — is for his niece and ward, YOUNG ALICE, who he calls his “pet.” But Young Alice is seventeen, and as she begins to become aware of life outside her isolated world with her Uncle, grows harder for James to bend to his will — the first crack in shattering his illusion of control.
Framed as NARRATOR/ALICE’s reminiscences to her daughter later in life, Alice is the bridge, the frame, and our access to both worlds. A chance encounter at a train station brings up disturbing questions about her past and experience of the horrific Indian Mutiny against the British. Alice mixes the legend of Iksander with her own first-hand knowledge to weave the stories, the fates of the characters, and their worlds together — a tale of love, betrayal, destiny, and revenge in the lost world of colonial India.