Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Two Brief Quotes from David Hasselhoff

"Everyone goes crazy when I put on my blue shirt."

"This is The Hoff, signing off."

Oh, and he has the words "BACK HOFF" embroidered on the back pockets of his blue jeans. In case you were wondering...

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Only Dream I've Ever Written Down

I often have ridiculously wacky, intense, complex dreams, but rarely remember much of what happened once I wake up. Here is a glaring exception:

Dream I Had the Morning of November 20, 2004

I was trying to sell some scripts/ideas with my friend Kenny to a guy who ran a production company in a huge, opulent, modern skyscraper with a hotel, casino, offices, and condos. I had all the paperwork in a bag on the end of a fishing pole or something, that’s how I was carrying it, for some reason. Security was tight and I couldn’t get down the hall to the man’s office from the grand staircase. I was hanging out on the landing, waiting to see if Kenny could sweet-talk the doorman into letting us in. We were determined to see this guy.

The lobby was huge and old-fashioned--dark wood everywhere, kind of like the lobby to a swank hotel. Some guy came up to me and asked what I was doing there, what was in the bag. I told him it was full of great ideas and scripts for movies and that we were trying to meet with the guy at this production company to see if he would buy them. The guy was really pessimistic about our chances and said that we would never get in to see him and even if we did he would just steal our ideas and not give us any money. Office-type people kept breezing past us on their way up or down the stairs. I kept looking down to make sure my bag was still there, on the end of the fishing pole-thing. I kept looking over to see how Kenny was doing. And looking at this guy next to me who seemed to be waiting to see how it all turned out. Then I looked down at my side and the bag was gone. All our ideas! I got pissed. I ran down the stairs and told Karl the bag was stolen. The guy who had been hanging out with me, watching, came with me. “I just had it on the end of this fishing pole and then I looked down and it was gone!”

The doorman follows us as we walk slowly up the staircase and then run past the security guards just in time to see Skeletor pop out of a room, look at us, and immediately run away, turning the corner, leaving a trail of evil laughter. We chase after him. As soon as we turn the corner, we see this petite woman dressed kind of like Peter Pan. She is Skeletor’s second-in-command.

She doesn’t actually ever attack us, I don’t think. But she seems to be in charge of making sure all the evil things keep after us (flying things, snakes, etc.). She runs into a door and we follow-- the doorman and security guards are now not really chasing us, but on our side against what they immediately identify as pure evil.

When we enter the doorway, it leads immediately to a rickety, old, narrow staircase in a house in the rundown suburbs somewhere. There is a window and it is open. The petite Peter-Pan-girl floats outside the window, above the driveway, watching. I am now alone. I come down the stairs and everything starts to shake, things are falling over, kind of like an earthquake. There is a chest of drawers with a display case/glass-doored-cabinet thing on top of it, on the next landing below me. Things start falling out of it and crashing to the floor. I’m dodging huge stuff that suddenly starts flying at me. I grab a brick and heave it right at the Peter Pan girl, knocking her to the ground. I race through the doorway on the lower level and into a narrow hallway.

The hallway leads to a huge open area on one side of a large, modern office building that has a wall of windows looking out over the city, kind of like an observation deck, but not; there’s probably one on every floor, just an open area with desks, tables, chairs, lamps, kind of a lounge. The other five people (Kenny, the watcher, the doorman, and 2 security guards) are suddenly with me again and we run into this area. All kinds of huge flying insects start coming at us. Thousands of them. Some are big, some are smaller, they’re sort of not easy to see, almost transparent, and you can really only see the flutter of their wings.

I pull out a Nerf Dart Gun and start shooting them out of the air. The Peter Pan girl watches and laughs, in charge of all these bugs. Everyone else starts shooting Nerf Dart Guns and throwing anything they can find, and just trying to kill them all, and we seem to be doing a good job, despite the fact that we can barely see them and there are thousands of them. I keep shooting the darts at them and the dart carries all the way to the window and smashes them against it. I am amazed at how accurate we are. But some of them miss. I only have three or four of them, so I have to repeatedly run over and pick up or peel off the window all the darts and reuse them. I keep doing all these unnecessary somersaults and barrel rolls and looking over at everybody else, in the shit, swarmed by them, but killing them slowly and steadily. We finally kill them all. Peter Pan still floats outside, chuckling deviously, unfazed.

I go to pick up a dart by an overturned desk and see a bunch of the bugs in some kind of cocoon/larvae stage, clinging to the underside of the desk. “Oh, shit, guys. Check it out. We have to kill all these before they mature.” I lean in to get a good shot at one of them and hear a hiss and see movement. An enormous black Cobra snake is coiled up menacingly in the shadows. “Fuck! Look out for snakes!” We start killing the larvae but some of them shed their cocoons and fly out at us.

I decide everyone here is fine, they’ll kill them all eventually...maybe I should keep up the pursuit of Skeletor. So I run out this door at the other end of the U-shaped hallway/lounge area and suddenly find myself in the same old rickety staircase, staring out the same window, at Peter Pan, the earthquake happens again and I throw a brick at Peter Pan and run into the hallway and find myself in the same lounge, with everybody still fighting off these bugs. I keep doing this, in a loop, over and over, and every time I keep asking if anyone’s killed the snake yet, if anyone’s seen the snake. And nobody answers me and I keep expecting everyone to be killed by this scary big snake the next time I run through.

One of the times through the staircase, I hear Peter Pan say something like “one of these times you’ll make a mistake, you won’t be so lucky.” And then I hit her in the face with a brick, but I’m scared. Wondering if my accuracy will fail me next time. Then I run into the hallway/lounge and see the snake slithering off the way I have been running my laps, towards the other door. I run up behind it--I’m running super fast, by the way, barely even touching the ground, breaking all laws of physics and my shoes have wings on them now, like Hermes/Mercury. I catch up to this rapidly escaping snake and stab a letter opener through its neck and keep flying by. It hisses and flails around, pinned to the ground, and I get the feeling that it isn’t going to die for some reason, from this should-be-fatal wound. I run through the door again and this time I’m outside, in scrubby grass along an empty rural highway. I’m flying right above the ground, all I see is this patch of grass, as if I’m in a speeding car and just looking out the window at the grass on the side of the road as it whizzes past. I don’t see any farms or buildings or sky or anything. And I see a huge rat running along in the grass. And I hear Peter Pan say, “He doesn’t even realize that he’s the rat now.” The rat is Skeletor, I say to myself. And I’m right along with it, moving at the same speed, flying above it, and I don’t know what to do. Should I swoop down and catch it in my hands? What do I do next? What will happen? And then I woke up.

Evidence That We Are Fucked

A newspaper article from September 29, 2004, that I, for some reason, copied into a Word file many years ago, and which seems to support my claims in the 'Vault' entry which follows this one:
Family Chicken Feud Turns to Gun Battle

BLUEWELL, West Virgina (AP) - A family meal erupted into a gun battle after a father and son clashed over how to cook chicken.

The two men argued Sunday over the best way to prepare skinless chicken for dinner.

"It started out as a physical confrontation, but it escalated until both of them were shooting at each other,'' Detective Sgt. A.D. Beasley of the Mercer County Sheriff's Department said Monday.

Beasley said each man fired a .22-caliber handgun at the other. Harley Shrader was struck by a bullet that went through the upper part of his right ear and lodged in the back of his head. He was treated at a hospital and released. The elder Shrader was not injured.

Jackie Lee Shrader, 49, was charged with malicious wounding and wanton endangerment. Harley Lee Shrader, 24, was charged with wanton endangerment.

...I wonder who they're gonna vote for in the upcoming primary. Is Larry the Cable Guy running? How about Jack Meehoff?

From the Vault-- Thoughts - 11/14/05

Not quite sure where to begin here, except to say that right now I feel I am holding on to my sanity like a hopeless bum clings to a fifth of bourbon, as he huddles next to a fiery trashcan in a filthy alley on a blustery Northern night, wrapped in a urine-soaked Army jacket. I know that’s all so poetic and exaggerated, as I sit in my comfortable, tastefully-decorated Los Angeles apartment, listening to good music, drinking bourbon and Coke, and typing on my thousand-dollar laptop. All the same, the sentiment rings true, the emotions are there, for however long they may persist, and there you have it. From the heart. Honest.

I have some work lined up for three days this week and plans to drive up to San Francisco to spend Thanksgiving among friends, so it’s not like I am going to lose my shirt and/or starve to death and die alone and be forgotten. But there’s just such a dreary, world-weary, give-up-the-fight, what’s-the-point-of-trying-to-make-it-in-this-shitty-world wave of emotion riding up through me that I can’t ignore it. I must explore it, I must put it to paper and see where my thoughts lead me.

To clear up a point, I am not suicidal. In fact, as I sat through “Good Night and Good Luck” this afternoon, as the report of one of the newsmen’s suicide came across, I thought to myself “what the fuck is the point of suicide? Why would anyone choose to give up on life? Why not live for your ideals, live for yourself, live for the possibility of something better to come along?” Move to Mexico, hide in the mountains, and live off the land.

I say this because I feel just as cynical about the world today, a world far worse than the world of McCarthy-era Red Scare politics and the fear of nuclear war, if you can believe that.

Because I live in a world--“we” live in a world--that has swallowed that whole now-hilarious episode and not learned from it one bit.

Because we live in a world that is, in actuality, MORE vulnerable to nuclear annihilation, or some other worse fate our beloved scientists might be dreaming up right this very moment--beneath a football stadium near you!

Because we live in a world where people believe what their corrupt politicians tell them, what their corporate-biased news anchors tell them, what greedy deranged televangelists tell them, and what their own debased morals and warped thought-processes lead them to believe all on their own.

Because we live in a democratic world where the majority rules and the sad reality is the majority of this country, and the world, aren’t intelligent and tolerant enough to prudently govern themselves. Not that I’m saying I know of any political system that would rule more effectively than our American pseudo-democracy--I’m not that arrogant or deluded--but rather that this world has arrived at a point where we are unable to effectively function at all, under any political system, with any ruling class, elected or otherwise.

I was reading “Point, Counter Point” earlier this afternoon, as I could say of almost any afternoon for the last two months because it has been taking me an inordinate amount of time to read through this particular Huxley novel, and not for the first time, a passage struck me as particularly astute, even today, many decades after it was written. The two most intelligent characters, of the dozens that play a part in the story, were having a discussion about the future of the world, the future of society, the future of man, and the causes of the problems man and society are facing. A very broad topic that essentially boiled down to the fact that, over the last several hundred years-- or more, but at the very least since the onset of the industrial revolution-- man has been systematically bringing about its own demise with great ignorant glee by subjugating itself to the machine and absurdly specialized labor, all in the name of progress.

One of the characters, Mark Rampion, suggested that if the world is to be salvaged for his children, then we must abandon the machine and the youth must be taught to exist as “natural beings.” In other words, as I understand it, as men and women who are able to survive in this world by themselves: hunter-gatherers, free-thinkers, versatile laborers, consummate social beings. They must learn to have emotion, tolerance, free-thinking critical intelligence; they must know how to love and respect and provide.

Decades later, things are much worse than probably even Huxley could have imagined. Men and women across the globe have master’s degrees in useless fields like “communication consulting” and “public relations” and “financial management.” Where would these people be, should the fabric of society be rent irrevocably and we were to subsist on our individual skillsets? If money couldn’t buy you respect and admiration and survival? They would starve to death, they would have no idea how to survive on their own, and, ironically for some, no idea of how to actually, effectively communicate with people who aren’t begging to be TOLD something, to be brainwashed.

“Communications” today is a one-way street. People study how to convincingly TELL people what they want and how they can give it to them for X dollars. The American people, and by extension all those in Europe and Asia and beyond who have become an extension of the great corporate-conquistador, America, no longer devote any time to actually thinking for themselves, doing research, DOUBTING what somebody in authority tells them, thinking critically about issues of political, social, or moral importance. They are too busy consuming, keeping up with the Joneses, escaping into one of the many products put forth by the $10 billion a year video game industry, or the inane world of homogenized television sitcoms or forensic dramas or tough-cop series or manipulated-“reality” shows. They are too busy racing cigarette boats across man-made reservoirs or sun-tanning on billion-dollar cruise ships or downloading crappy over-produced drivel from the corporate music industry or being scared of terrorists or trying to survive after a hurricane wiped clean their life’s slate. Or, as is the case for most, too busy working two or three minimum-wage jobs to afford baby formula, McDonald’s cheeseburgers, and a volatile tenement home.

We shake our heads with disbelief at a time when McCarthyism went unchallenged by the popular media (til Murrow), without stopping to realize (most of us) that we live in an even MORE restrictive media environment today. One that derides “leftist” protests against our President or our Congress or our nation’s foreign policy. Any attempt to question a matter of policy, or speak out against an alleged wrong, is met with dismissive ridicule. Rights are violated, speech is suppressed, events are fabricated. These “crazed leftists” (read: Communists! Terrorists!) threw stones at honest blue-collar policeman! They hate freedom! They wish Al-Queda lived in the White House! They all read these ridiculous things on the Internet, these lies, these fabricated stories that say your government is dishonest, manipulative, greedy, selfish, and hypocritical! Never mind the truth behind it; the truth will never get out. Nobody believes the educated and honest minority.

At least, until they become the majority. As soon as the opinion poll of 100 people at a North Carolina NASCAR event reveals that 51% of the “country” doubt their President’s integrity, wheels roll into motion. The “hard-working, truth-seeking” press that “works for you” suddenly starts to question the President and our government. But not before, because until that number breaks fifty those 49% are all communist quacks who hate freedom and don’t believe in God. Why? Because, as an obscure man named DJ Quik once said, “if it don’t make dollaz, it don’t make sense.”

Our media panders to the majority because that is where the money is. They are businesses. The media is not unbiased, can never be unbiased, as long as they exist to make money. They are, in fact, INHERENTLY biased. They depend on advertising revenue, which is based on viewer/readership. Why would they report unfavorable information, no matter how true? Do you think FoxNews would ever report that NewsCorp was found guilty of tax fraud? That would be absurd. Do you think Universal Pictures would ever release a movie that showed the world the environmental atrocities committed by its parent company, General Electric NBC Universal?

Media aside, however, the scariest thought I had today is that even if 100% of the country thought our President lied to us, and our government helped him lie to us, and the media and corporate world conspired to help them all accomplish this, what recourse is there? Are we to fire our entire government and start over? Are we honestly to believe that this new government wouldn’t eventually end up equally as arrogant, manipulative, and selfish? Who, when given the power men and women in government have, would not end up serving their own interests?

And what does it all matter anyway when the country is actually ruled by big businessmen who are not elected, people who never do the time for crimes even when they’re convicted? Occasionally, when offenses become too egregious, are too obvious, can actually be proven, accidentally get leaked to a rival media conglomerate that acts out of pure self-interest, corporations go down (Arthur Anderson, Enron, WorldCom, etc.). But do the orchestrators of these massive swindles ever truly “pay the price” for their arrogance and deceit? Nope. They get a slap on the wrist, pay a fine equal to perhaps 5% of what they stole, if we’re lucky, and then move on to head up some other company, the taxpayers foot the bill, if any, and we all collectively forget.

We forget because nobody in the media follows up or demands that anything be done. Because the entire system we have set up feeds into the corporation. Who funds political campaigns? Powerful corporations and the individuals who are rich as a result of working for or owning stock in those corporations. Who owns the media? Powerful corporations. Who pays for television shows, radio programming, newspapers, magazines, websites? Powerful corporations, through advertising dollars. Who can afford, in this competitive environment, to lose a sponsor? Who wants to shoot themselves in the foot?

How do we expect anyone to serve justice when everyone lives only to serve themselves? When everyone strives to make it rich at any cost? When job security preempts any moral judgment? How do we ever expect to change this? Socialism? Right. The mere word would cause 80% of this God-fearing, terrorist-fighting, “freedom”-loving nation to hurl rocks at each other until we all lie bloody and cold.

And yet, socialism is no worse and no better. It is just as flawed. Why? Because at the heart of it lies faith in your fellow man. We would have to have faith that everyone does their fair share, that those who work for the state have the interest of the people at heart, that nobody will become corrupt, that nobody will take advantage of anyone else. How on Earth would that ever happen? Man is too corrupt, too selfish, too lazy, too gluttonous by nature to ever allow any kind of fairness into the world, to ever allow harmony and ‘goodwill toward men’ to actually overpower the evil within us.

And so here we are...hopeless. Pessimistic, negative, demented...or is it? Has there ever been an organization of men that could prove wrong anything I have said? Has there ever been a period of man’s existence where there was no war, no fighting, no back-stabbing, no gluttony, no dishonesty, no selfishness? How could we ever think that by INCREASING the population, INCREASING the ethnic, religious, and political diversity, that we would have a BETTER chance at peace and harmony? Who would ever think that by downgrading every man, woman, and child to a cog in the wheel of industry, we would increase happiness, satisfaction, morality, and honesty? The only way we can combat the dreary conclusion to the human experiment which at this point is, more or less, unavoidable extinction by our own hands, a suicide of sorts, is to, as Mark Rampion, and by extension Aldous Huxley, suggests-- rewind to a simpler time. Forget the machine, forget specialization of labor, forget “progress.” Get back to nature. Invest in man, instead of the machine, instead of profit. Would it work? Doubtful, but it seems our only chance.

Do you think we’ll take it? Do you think 51% of the world would ever request that opportunity? Doubtful.

Why? Because there ain’t no money in it.

For All Those Tweens Out There That Wanna Learn How to Make Love

Check out the following movies*:

1. Masculin Feminin
2. Carnal Knowledge
3. My Night At Maud's

*if you have good taste and enjoy movies not made by the Wayans Bros. or DisneyInc.

Goodtime Charlie and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Month

This month has not been one of my best. It seems as though, in one near-fell swoop, the universe is desperately trying to offset the bottomless bounty provided to me upon birth (eyes, lips, hair, brain, humor, abs, nose, buttocks, charm, fashion sense, unit, fingernails, etc etc etc etc hahahaha...).

There is no God [or if there is, may he strike me dead on the spot...I DARE HIM! See? He didn't. That's just as much proof that he doesn't exist as anybody can offer me that he DOES exist], but if there were, I would tell him to go fuck himself. Why? Here are 9 reasons why:

(1) Until a few days ago, I hadn't worked in six weeks. I was (am) broke. And that was after taking a few months off to write a script. So I've been semi-paralyzed by financial woes present and future. Which is why I was looking forward to a free week-long trip to Big Sky, Montana. Montana was fabulous--skiing, relaxing, New's-Years-Eveing it in the hot tub--until mile number 2499, when (2) my car stopped working 2 miles from home.

Don't worry, though, it got fixed rather quickly, and (3) for only $1200.

No sweat. I'm loaded. Well, at least I thought I was--then (4) my only two paychecks for fall 2007 bounced because the payroll company went out of business due to yet another embezzling corporate asshole. Subtract $1000 from my bank account, leaving my balance (5) at an impressive -$660.

"Shit, dawg, my life majorly sucks right now," thought the douchebag inside of me, but he was wrong--it was actually pretty good at the time. Everything is relative. I went out to my car a couple saturdays back, only to find (6) my front license plate missing, as well as the license-plate holder. Huh. Whatever. Then I noticed (7) the tickets on my windshield--one for parking in the spot for more than 2 hours, the other for having no front license plate.

Later that night, despite the vortex of negativity ominously swirling around me, spirits were high after seeing 'There Will Be Blood' and having a few drinks with a friend. I drove home, parked my car, and walked three blocks to my building, thinking about whatever random shit runs through my head at any given moment (the lyrics to the theme song to Mr. Belvedere?). Well, right across the street from my place, a couple kids from the neighborhood decided to (8) stick a knife in my throat and relieve me of my new iPod, my phone, my car/house keys, my wallet, and the $6 cash that was inside.

Luckily, when I pleaded for my keys back ("Leave me my house keys or I'll pee on you through my pants!"), one of the gentleman was kind enough to throw them into the street for me. As a result, I thankfully didn't have to spend the night clutching my knees and muttering to myself, in a pool of my own filth, on a sheet of cardboard outside the post office, but instead was able to get inside and grab change to cancel my credit cards and such. Well, except for the one that was closed "until 9am Eastern for a system update," which was then rung up for a hundred million dollars worth of gas all around Los Angeles (you're welcome, oil cartel!).

I don't have to pay for the gang's gasoline addiction, obviously, and I have complete confidence that the police detectives who pound on my door every other morning at 7:45am "to get a few more details for the case" will catch the little shits and get my $6 back, but it still sucks. That little iPod was so cute!

Oh, (9) and I'm fat now, by the way. So that ain't cool neither.

The Assassination of the Oscar-Nominators by the Hero Goodtime Charlie

So, I have something to get off my chest, despite the fact that I hate whining:

No Oscar nomination for Brad Pitt?
No nomination for Jesse James for Best Picture?
Juno and Atonement? Really?

I mean, I realize nobody saw this movie ($3.9 million domestic, $10.2 million foreign) (budget=$30million, for those of you keeping score at home)

But nobody saw There Will Be Blood ($9.8million worldwide)
or No Country for Old Men (OK, so people actually saw this one...but still...), either. And they got nominated for all the big ones.

Can anybody in the know explain to me why this movie was so secretly released, so quickly pulled, and so glaringly ignored? It was my favorite movie of the year. And I'm a genius, so I know what I'm talking about.

Hal Holbrook for Into the Wild? Really? Really? Was that necessary? Does he have ass cancer or something? Are we supposed to feel sorry for him? Is he even an actor? What were Sean Penn's directions to him? "Act old, dude. Great, love it, print it."

No nominations for Gone Baby Gone? Despite thinking it would be a total pile of shit, due to my feelings toward Ben Affleck, this movie was great. Casey Affleck was great. The writing and directing were great. Great great great, great; great.

Maybe I should hold my own awards show this year...I'll keep all my fans out here in cyberspace posted. Assholes.