Monday, April 26, 2010

Okay. I'm About To Intimidate A Windmill. Again

A couple of days ago I was staring at a blank computer screen (“You are getting sleepy, sleepy …”) and in the background the Governor of Arizona was signing a declaration of war against illegal aliens.

I was intrigued.

In the first place, the Governor of Arizona looks like the product of bad casting.

(“No no,” you would cry, “She’s not the Governor. She’s the Governor’s ex wife’s obnoxious Aunt Florence who is the first one eaten by the pod people... in the swamp … on Mars”)

In the second place, I was attracted by the obvious and loud opposition to the law the Governor was signing.

“Illegal aliens and the crimes they bring in are overrunning the state,” the Governor says. “They have to be stopped.”

I’m not sure why, but this seemed to many to be a radical concept.

“Sanctuary,” I know of one alien claiming. “Give me sanctuary.” And this person was taken into a church, housed, fed, and encouraged to resist deportation.

Would the church be as willing to take in a bicycle thief?

What’s the difference?

By best estimates, there are millions of illegal aliens in this country. Not thousands, not tens of thousands, not hundreds of thousands – millions. I can’t even fathom that many people.

And, being illegal, they don’t pay taxes on anything.

They don’t pay for fire departments, road repairs, or city lights, yet they use these services every day.

These millions of people also get health care. Free.

The children of illegal aliens attend our already over filled public schools. Again, there is not even a beginning of financial support from their parents.

There used to be a rational that “they are filling jobs nobody else wants.” With unemployment standing at about ten per cent, I don’t think that excuse still works.

The one cry I hear from opponents to this law is that of racial profiling. Aliens must carry identification when they are out in public. This strikes me as funny. I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t carry identification with them.

It isn’t that I don’t feel sympathy for suffering people – I do. But breaking the law and stealing from the government is not a good way to start a relationship. I’m beginning to feel like I’m being pushed – and worse, secretly scorned and laughed at.

And that is a mistake.

They have attracted my attention

The last I knew, laws were still being enacted and enforced in this country by the majority.

And the last I knew, that was still me ... and the Governor of Arizona ... and one or two other people..



Friday, April 23, 2010


Julie Morrison and I are now in day 23 of Script Frenzy. The story has evolved, having started with our only very vague guideline that a romance would evolve between the two central characters in a small independent film studio. (This is a contest, after all. Blah blah romance fills pages quickly, and with only blah blah thought required to ladle this stuff out.)

Yeah, well, from past experience I should have known better.

Julie has this great heart for the badly downtrodden. Before I knew it, we had battered women camped out in the second floor of our “studio.” To give depth to the pain women can go through, it’s revealed that our central female character has made some unwise decisions in the past. As a result – and without going into a lot of detail – she is kidnapped by a man she had crossed, and (at this point in the story) about to be forced into amateur porno films. Heavy stuff here. Heavy heavy heavy. (On the other hand, and taken completely out of context, Julie’s line “A naked girl will attract attention” seemed to me to be something of an understatement.)

So much for our blah blah shallow quickie romance story. Oh well, Jennifer Lopez probably wouldn’t be interested anyway.)

Now. Although my writing partner and I don’t suggest to each other what to write, we do exchange technical suggestions. (Her contributions encourage me to add depth to my writing – something that doesn’t come natural to any man. For my part, having worked most of my life in television, film, and theatre, I can offer technical details that give a story a bit more creditability.)

All this is background to the story I’m about to tell you – true story – about the time I was asked to direct a series of porno films. In reading a gazillion posts on lots and lots of blogs, I don’t recall that subject coming up very often, so you might find it interesting.

It was right after I had won my second Emmy, and I was riding pretty high. I was regularly directing regional sporting events on television, one network was interested in me, I was doing specials of every kind, and on the side producing/directing commercials for a large advertising agency. (If you are over 30 and watch television at all, you’ve seen some of them.)

I had worked with “Dan” and his crew from the agency for a couple of years. Once or twice a month they’d take over a studio after normal working hours and we’d crank out commercials until the sun came up (and employees started coming in.)

Dan and I got along great. After a session or two, I had learned what he was looking for in general, and we became part of a smooth and efficient team.

After one particularly long and difficult shoot, Dan and I were having breakfast together when he broached the subject of adult films.

“I’ve been producing films for about two years now,” he stated flatly.

“Porno,” I questioned.

“We call them Adult films,” he corrected.

“What happened to your old director,” I asked.

"He moved on,” I was told. No other information was asked or given.

Here was the offer. We would produce ten films in ten days. An empty building would be our studio, equipment would be rented from the agency, and we would start each evening at seven, and must be completed by sunrise the next day.

Dan would produce, I would direct, and the two techs – camera and audio – would come from the agency, in fact would be men I had worked with on several occasions. “Talent” would come from a waiting list at the mega university that in many ways dominates the capital city in this state.

I was to be paid $200 per night – not a great amount of money, but at the end of ten days I’d walk away with $2000, tax free. Similarly, the techs were to be paid $150 each. The female talent each night would earn $200, and her male partner would be unpaid.

That was it. I was impressed with how incredibly easy it all was.

I declined the offer. I would love to say I was filled with indignation, but I wasn’t. There was no indication that anyone involved was being forced in any way to participate. Money was the draw, and at that time in my life I didn’t have the moral or religious attitudes that would later influence my life.

So I said “no.” Overall I counted at least 25 people who would be involved in the total project, and I didn’t think that many people could keep a secret.

Dan accepted my decision graciously, and nothing more was said. Three years later he moved to Denver.

All this was a number of years ago, and until Julie and I started this work, I had totally forgotten about it. I don’t know, nor care, if the “business” continued or ended.

On the other hand, I’m impressed as to how easy it all appears to be.



Monday, April 19, 2010

Day 19 of Script Frenzy. The last dozen or so pages are pretty good. Hmm. We may have something beyond blah blah blah. Wouldn't that be funny? 

Day 2 of holding auditions for Richard III. I can easily cast Lady Anne, Queen Elizabeth, and Queen Margaret. I still have no Richard and would like stronger male supporting characters. In the theatre there seems to always be more talented women than there are men. With the men I have so far, their female counterparts would eat them for breakfast.
Day 1. Are you kidding me? Is it that time of year already? A-a-a-h-h-h-h-h!!!!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Script Frenzy, day 17

The object of the contest is to write a 100 page story in 30 days.

Julie Morrison and I are now at 60 pages, working at it with some but not great effort. Most of the time we have been ahead of the daily page number goals set by Script Frenzy.

We started with no plot nor outline. Simply, one of us would write a page or two, and then the other person would add to it, building a story as we go along. 

What started as a romantic ghost story has turned toward searing drama. Once again I, with the perception and sensitivity of a sea snail, am w-a-y-y-y out of my depth.


Monday, April 12, 2010

When I Have Fears

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charactery,
Hold like rich garners the full ripen'd grain;
When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love;--then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.

John Keats

Friday, April 9, 2010

Script Frenzy, part two

Day 9, 34 pages complete.

Julie Morrison  and I have once again partnered to enter this annual writing competition. The goal is to write 100 pages of words in 30 days. So far we're slightly ahead of where we should be.

Last year we wrote a script. This year we're writing a novel.

Next year we'll likely write another script.

Fewer words.


Saturday, April 3, 2010

It's That Time Again.

Getting back to what I'm supposed to know what I'm doing.