Tuesday, February 10, 2015

This Is The End

This blog has had a good run—several good runs, actually—over the years. Things change, though, and life moves on.

This is the final post for In My Copious Free Time, and comments are now closed. My thanks to everyone who read, commented, agreed or disagreed, and linked over the years. It was a great ride, and I’ve appreciated your support.

Take care, and best to all of you.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Broken Eden

I spent ten years as a struggling, almost successful screenwriter. The first five years were one of the best times of my life. The second five years, not so much.

Broken Eden was written near the end of those second five years.

By this point, the agent who had actually signed me had left the business, and I’d been inherited by the name partners of the boutique agency I was with. So I was now a writer with an agency but no specific agent. On top of that, both agents already had their own rosters of clients bringing in regular commissions, and though I’d had some interest, including an option or two over the years, I was still a writer they were trying to break. Even worse, my last spec script had gone nowhere, and the one before that had provoked real disagreement, not just between the agents and myself but between the two agents as well—and had also gone nowhere. Worst of all, I was pushing forty, which for a still struggling screenwriter may have been the single biggest hurdle to my staying in the game.

Simply put, the next screenplay I turned in was going to be do-or-die for me, and I knew it.

That meant it had to be commercial with a capital C. It had to be plot-driven. It had to be high concept, an idea we could pitch in one sentence (something I had always had trouble with) and not a script anyone who read it could come back and say, “This should really be a novel.” It had to have large action set pieces. It had to have characters you could see specific, name actors playing. It had to be big and exciting, with a story that moved. It had to be read-able, because for all the talk about scripts just being the blueprint for a film, someone, somewhere, has to slog through it to the end, and you better make sure that person gets more than a bland set of verbal schematics sitting dead on the page. Above all, though, it had to be fun—especially for me, because those second five years had had a distinct lack of that very thing.

In a nutshell, I needed a Hail Mary career pass of a script.

Broken Eden was what I came up with.

Kindle | Paperback

Sunday, December 21, 2014

EXCLUSIVE: Sony to remake Footloose

One of my old Hollywood contacts has leaked me this exclusive footage from Sony’s upcoming remake of the American classic Footloose...

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Piece of Eternity

I spent ten years as a struggling screenwriter. The first five years were one of the best times of my life. The second five years, not so much.

A Piece of Eternity was written early in those first five years.

I had spent my twenties writing three novels, with three different agents and far too many editors praising a manuscript, then passing on it, but always wanting to see my next one. And almost always saying, "This is so visual, it should really be a screenplay." I took that as a compliment early on, generally mumbled some neutral acknowledgment and ignored it a few years after that, then finally started wondering if I was writing in the wrong field altogether. So in my thirties, I switched, and life got wonderfully bizarre.

I landed an agent in Hollywood fairly quickly, after she read my second and third attempts at a screenplay. (Even I didn't want to read my first.) The third one even found some interest with the first producer who read it, which put me in a strange position: I had a project (supposedly) coming together, but I had never made the rounds of meet-and-greets with a calling card of a spec script. My agent and I both agreed the second one was better as a follow-up than an introduction, and a micro-budget indie producer was interested in it anyway. And that third one needed a budget to give even the most artistically minded bean counter the vapors. So I needed another one, a big yet affordable one, and quickly.

A Piece of Eternity was the script.

Kindle | Paperback

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I Only Drank The One


I swear.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Jesse Pinkman, Street Therapist


A bad neighborhood, where TWEEKER and TWEEKETTE argue.

TWEEKETTE: You’re holdin’ out on me!

TWEEKER: I ain’t holdin’ nuthin’, bitch!

A ratty car squeals to a stop at the curb beside them.

TWEEKETTE: It’s Jesse Pinkman, Street Therapist!

JESSE: I can help, yo!

TWEEKER: Got any blue?

JESSE: I’m outta that life, man. Now I do therapy to redeem myself, ‘cause if I know anything, it’s meth-heads. But I do my therapy on the street, ‘cause I’m still an outlaw.

TWEEKER: I really need some blue, man!

JESSE: And I need a state medical license, but the DEA ain’t gonna let that happen either. What’s the problem here?

TWEEKETTE: Tweeker’s holdin’ out on me!

TWEEKER: For the last time, I ain’t holdin’, bitch!

JESSE: Hey! Don’t call her a bitch, bitch!

TWEEKETTE: And stop holdin’ out on me!

JESSE: Meet her needs, yo!

TWEEKETTE: He never tells me what he’s got hidden away in there!

JESSE: Narrate that fat stack of feelings!

TWEEKER: But all she wants is the blue, man!

JESSE: Yo, the blue is just a cover for your deeper issue.

TWEEKETTE: Oh, it’s all about the blue!

JESSE: It is not about the blue, alright?! And what’s with you expecting him to take care of you? You got, like, daddy issues or something?

TWEEKETTE: I don’t have daddy issues!

JESSE: Hey, I know daddy issues, okay? So no more half-measures. We’re going full DMV-2067 psychosociable science here.


JESSE: Yo, this is science! Like, with beakers and robots and shit. Let’s try a role play –

Tweekette pulls a gun on Tweeker.

TWEEKETTE: Gimme your blue, Tweeker!

JESSE: So not what I had in mind…

TWEEKER: Pinkman! Help!

JESSE: What, you think I got some magnet hidden away here to pull that gun from your old lady’s hands?!

TWEEKETTE: I said gimme the blue!

JESSE: She’s got a gun, bitch! Give it to her!

Tweekette shoots Tweeker.

JESSE: Yeah… Um… I’m gonna give you a referral.

Jesse peels out, fleeing the scene.

TWEEKETTE: I shoulda stayed in grad school…

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

24: Trek Another Day

Apparently, Yeoman Janice Rand in the original Star Trek series was the Chloe O'Brian of her day...

Damned rips in the space-time continuum, always switching people in parallel universes...

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Perfect. Beyond. Words.

A sadly accurate commentary on the Internet and our times...

I would have been so screwed on that bubble tea question, too.

(H/T: Commenter Book at Monster Hunter Nation)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Righteous Outrage of the Pussycat Houses

Joy of Apartment Living #261: That perpetually angry neighbor who has daily tirades at one poor person or another on the phone, usually with all the apartment windows open so that everyone can share in the outrage.

Today's tirade was a bit less understandable than usual, but I did manage to pick out five specific phrases:

G*****n it!

What the h**l?!

This is b******t!

I am *not* complaining! Pussycat houses!

Even the dog looked up at that last one, and I seriously considered going up to the neighbor's door and asking for an explanation. The curiosity was that overwhelming.

Then I remembered this was, you know, that neighbor...

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Andrew Klavan: "The Debate Is Over"

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Suggested Readings for the Krystal Ball Book Club

Back in the days everyone assumed I would go for a PhD in English Literature, I heard time and time again how “author’s intent” means nothing. In other words, it’s not what the book means to say, or even actually says, it’s whatever meaning you can find within (or impose upon) the text.

In fact, one reason I left that path was the many tortured reinterpretations I would have had to swallow—and create—on my way to Shangri-Tenure. Krystal Ball of MSNBC, however, clearly took this idea to heart when she declared George Orwell’s classic Animal Farm to be a warning against capitalism, complete with the pigs as Mitt Romney “maker” 1%ers. And when people took issue with this rather ground-breaking interpretation, Krystal stood her ground like only someone who had read an entirely different book could.

And thus the #KrystalBallBookClub was born.

Because what other classic books could be dramatically misrepresented to promote a blatantly political agenda? The possibilities are literally endless, once the sheeple are awakened and the scales removed from their eyes, but I suggest the following, in no particular order:

The Old Man and the Sea: Hemingway’s cautionary tale about the dangers of overfishing.

A Wrinkle in Time: Dry cleaning, patriarchy, and why women have always paid more and earned less.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: John le CarrĂ©’s compelling argument for government-funded job-retraining programs.

Fear of Flying: Erica Jong examines the perils of airline deregulation and lack of FAA oversight.

The Color Purple: Alice Walker’s insightful look at how swing states determine presidential elections.

The Lord of the Rings: Tolkien’s classic tale of how nine men fought the odds in their quest for marriage equality.

Dune Messiah: Bob Woodward’s insider account of how the Obama administration won the Arab Spring.

The Happy Hooker: How enlightened federal environmental management makes for happy fisherman (and -women).

Fat White Vampire Blues: Andrew Fox’s game-changing investigation of how the Koch Brothers fight their own clinical depression by creating income equality.

The Hobbit: Tolkien’s timeless classic of how ignorant Tea Partiers from flyover shires should just stay at home.

Jurassic Park: Michael Crichton’s expose of how the GOP lost the youth vote.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven: Mitch Albom’s heartwarming tales of the MSNBC green room.

and of course,

Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site: How shovel-ready stimulus saved the U.S. from a second Great Depression.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A Married Conversation About the Pizza-Welfare State

"Is that the piece I was eating?"

"It was just sitting there."

"I was going to finish that."

"But it was just sitting there."

"I thought you might see it, ask if I still wanted it, and then bring it over to me when I said yes."

"What, you expect the pizza-welfare state to just bring you a slice simply because you want it?"

"The pizza-welfare what?!"

"This is America! Get up off the couch and get your own slice!"

"You mean from the pizza you ordered online with a credit card and had delivered?"

(pause) "Can I bring you a slice, my love?"

"Don't forget the plate."

Friday, May 2, 2014

Seriously, California?

Got this in the mail yesterday with the new checks I ordered.

Seriously, California? I mean, seriously?!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: White House Press Corps Attacks Jay Carney Over Benghazi Memo