My Year in Review

Well, Christmas is over now, and in less than one week it looks like I’ll be able to say goodbye to 2017 and greet the New Year. I have to say, all in all, this last year has treated me remarkably well.

But before I get into that I feel that I should recap; some of you may remember that there had been published, some years ago, excerpts from my personal diary (check the archives). This was done without my consent and under the erroneous belief that I had somehow perished in either a fight with a gun wielding quadruple-amputee, or in a fire that – according to the intro to the published diary – consumed my “home, garden, and life-sized wax figures.”

Most of this is not true. There was no fire, I am not dead, and damn it all my wax figures are not life-sized (they’re 7/8th scale). The guy with the gun (street name: Nugget), well, that happened, but I was only maimed, not killed. Now – how the excerpts had come to be in a stranger’s hands has never been revealed to me, nor has the reason for the publication. I can only assume that some rival held a grudge. Consequently I had no one to sue, and was forced to confront the newspaper that published the excerpts with threat of legal action. But who knew the Canton, Ohio Repository had access to such big-time lawyers?

Anyway the point that I’m trying to get at is that while the story of my demise was untrue, I have to admit that the content of the diary was, in fact, written by me.

The truth: Lizzy did, in fact, take Sarah and run off to the Batu archipelago with Marcos, the pool-boy (not our pool-boy, someone else’s). This life-changing event set me on a downward spiral that manifested itself in many terrible ways, not least of which was the introduction of Prancercising® into my daily routine, and the week I spent in bed in the dark, sobbing and covered in sprouted kamut.

But, as they say, all wounds eventually heal. I did meet a woman along the bike path in Long Beach, and for a while I thought that our relationship would be a game-changer. Ultimately, though, her lengthy criminal record, lack of a home address, and inability to communicate in anything other than grunts proved a deal-breaker.

Also true: a film was made based on my novel on the migratory habits of the Black-tailed Godwit. Sadly, though, the actor C. Thomas Howell proved an ill fit for the subject matter, particularly considering the challenges of playing not one but two major roles: the heroic male lead Riz Gluant and his 4 year-old niece Dakota. There are some non-disclosure issues here, but let’s just say that after the ninth on-set meltdown the production had to be suspended. I just feel bad for the director, Dustin Diamond, who was trying in good faith to turn a new corner career-wise after so many years playing “Screech” on Saved by the Bell.

But that was years ago. Last I heard, Lizzy left Marcos and has taken Sarah to Paris, where they are both wildly successful snow-suit models and are dating the same man, a twenty-two year old Mime named Guy (pronounced like “Ghee”) who busks next to a dumpster behind the Fragonard Perfume Museum. They seem happy.

But back to 2017. Over the years I have become increasingly disillusioned with life in California, particularly in regards to the people there just being cool with everything and constantly saying things like “it’s all good,” and “no worries,” so last January I decided to take the leap and finally relocate to a place where I know I will be happy and where I will be accepted for who I am. Maybe you’ve heard of it – it’s an “Intentional Community” in an unincorporated patch of fallow land about 50 miles west of Tobyhanna, Delaware, populated only by Native Americans with a paralyzing fear of Bundt cakes. That they have accepted me – I mean, I love Bundt cakes! – is remarkable. It’s not much, but it’s home.

And I have, against what seemed like terrible odds, found love again. She makes acorn flour all day and wears the pelt of an albino Marmot on her head. Her name is Adsila, which I’m told means “Gathers Blossoms.” However she won’t let me touch her and calls me “Mafu-shanna,” which I’m told means “Hides Behind Bush.” Still, though, I am happy.

Professionally, I’m fine. I’ve stopped writing novels and essays and prefer to restrict my literary output to tiny, meaningful things that I scratch into the port-o-potty walls. I never get any feedback, but I, personally, think they’re pretty good.

So that’s been my year. In just a few short days I’ll be celebrating the start of the 2018 with all the members of my new community. I’ve looked into it, and apparently they spend New Year’s Eve engaging in a meaningful, contemplative ritual that involves interpretive dance, chanting, homemade lotions, over-cooked noodles, and lots of male nudity. I can’t wait!

Oh, and I’m hoping they’ll let me bring my wax figures! Fingers crossed!

Happy New Year!

-J

 

40 Minutes – A Commercial Script on Spec.

40 Minutes – A Commercial Script on Spec.

 

INT. HOME OFFICE – DAY

A young man, LAWRENCE, sits quietly reading in a comfortable chair in his home office. There’s a cup of tea on a small table by his side, a decorative lamp emits a warm, soft light nearby, and classical music plays in the background. He’s wearing a comfortable sweater, and the book he is reading is “How The Mind Works,” by Steven Pinker.

Behind him his bookshelf reveals Lawrence’s taste in literature: philosophy, English history, a large volume of Shakespeare’s works. Several tasteful pieces of framed art decorate the walls around him, and a small window overlooks what appears to be a well-groomed garden.

It is the room of a scholar, an academic – a man of refined tastes.

The door opens and Lawrence’s wife SANDRA enters quietly.

SANDRA: Hey hon – sorry to bother you…

Lawrence finishes the sentence he’s reading before responding. He closes his book and smiles.

LAWRENCE: No, you’re not bothering me. I was just taking a bit of a break from all my blasted research.

SANDRA: Oh, poor you. Any breakthroughs?

LAWRENCE: (shakes his head) Not yet. I’ve gone through everyone – Ben Jonson, Christopher Marlowe, the Earl of Derby, the Earl of Rutland, the Earl of Southampton, the Earl of Essex, Sir Walter Raleigh…

SANDRA: What about Bacon?

He waves a dismissive hand.

LAWRENCE: Don’t mention that name! He’s old news honey – old news. There are already volumes and volumes –

SANDRA: (interrupting) Um — sorry. I just wanted to tell you that I’m going to meditate now in the sunroom.

LAWRENCE: Oh, fine…that’ll do you some good. Sorry love, here you are trying to break away and I’m just rambling on…

SANDRA: No, really, I love to hear about your work! I just want to start now so that I’ll be done before the duck is finished.

LAWRENCE :(nodding) Sure. So, forty minutes?

SANDRA: Yep. Twice a day!

LAWRENCE: Well you go meditate, and don’t worry about that duck. I’ll check on it – you just enjoy your nirvana!

She chuckles.

SANDRA: Yeah, right. I’m lucky I can remember my own mantra!
They both laugh heartily for a sustained beat. Eventually the laughter trickles off.

LAWRENCE: Alright, go on now. There’s a small chance I may be napping later, but if not I’ll see you in forty minutes.

She blows him a kiss.

SANDRA: (smiling warmly) Thanks, hon.

She closes the door quietly behind her.

Lawrence looks at the door thoughtfully for a beat, smile still on his lips.
Suddenly, in one motion, he loses the smile, tosses the book aside and jumps out of his chair.

He tiptoes excitedly over to the door, holds his breath, and carefully opens it. He peeks out.

INT. LAWRENCE’S HOUSE – DAY

At the end of the hallway and through the house a bit of the sunroom is visible. Sandra, who has just entered the room and is partly visible, puffs up a pillow on the couch by the window, sits down, and settles in for her meditation.

INT. HOME OFFICE – DAY

Lawrence slowly and noiselessly closes the door and exhales. He looks around the room, then rushes over to his desk. He opens a small drawer, digs around inside, and pulls out a hand-held digital stopwatch.

He sets the stopwatch to 40:00.

He pushes START.

CU OF STOPWATCH

It immediately begins to count down: 39:59…39:58…39:57…

He rests the stopwatch on the desk, then opens a different drawer. He quickly tosses its contents onto the floor, winces as the noise, and reaches deep inside, to the back of the drawer.

LAWRENCE: C’mon…

His eyes widen as he pulls an unopened pint of whiskey out of the drawer.

LAWRENCE (CONT’D): Yes!

He turns to the bookshelf and removes the volume of Shakespeare. He reaches into the gap between books and pulls out a large pack of cinnamon gum. He quickly places the gum and whiskey on the small table next to his cup of tea. He picks up the mug, drains it of any remaining tea, cracks open the pint of booze and fills the mug, with the used tea bag still hanging out of it, to the brim.

It’s too full to move without spilling, so Lawrence takes a long, careful slurp from the mug before putting it back down on the table.

He sits down in the chair, rubs his face with both hands, and exhales.

LAWRENCE (CONT’D): Forty minutes.

He takes another swig of his booze.

CUT TO:

INSERT – CU ON STOPWATCH

It reads 36:00

Lawrence is on his chair, laptop obscuring his middle. There’s a large bottle of lube on the table next to his mug of booze. Classical music is still playing softly in the background. His arm is clearly moving in his lap and he appears to be in a state of deep concentration.

CUT TO:

INSERT – CU ON STOPWATCH

33:49…33:48…

Lawrence fidgets with the stereo in the corner of the room while simultaneously wiping his hands with a decorative towel and juggling the stereo remote. After a bit of a struggle, he manages to navigate away from the classical music. He scans over several stations: Country, Jazz, Pop, Mexican Bandas music.

LAWRENCE: (under his breath) Aw, fucking shit…

Finally he finds some speed metal. He winces at the volume, taps it down a couple of notches on the remote, and nods.

He tosses the remote on top of the stereo and it tumbles, unnoticed by Lawrence, onto the floor behind it.

CUT TO:

INSERT – CU ON STOPWATCH

29:00…28:59…

With speed metal in the background, Lawrence is in the middle of finishing his mug. He looks around furtively, pours more booze into it, and drains it.

In the process the old teabag falls out onto his face. He flicks it off his cheek and flies through the air, landing with a SPLOT on a framed picture of Lawrence and Sandra that sits on his desk.

Lawrence looks at the picture.

CUT TO:

INSERT – STOPWATCH

28:00 and counting.

Lawrence, at his desk, does a rail of coke off of the picture.

CUT TO:

INSERT – CU ON STOPWATCH

24:05…24:04…

Lawrence whispers into his cellphone.

LAWRENCE: (slurring) No, no baby…I fucking love you…you know that I fucking love you, Crystal, right? You know I miss you…

He’s suddenly distracted by a restrained RAPPING sound. He looks around, startled.

LAWRENCE (CONT’D): What the fuck…(into the phone)I gotta go babe…yeah, I’ll call you tonight…

He hangs up his cell and struggles to listen over the Metal in the background.

More rapping.

It’s coming from the window.

JUMP CUT TO:

Lawrence helps a man enter his office through the window. They’re both struggling, swearing and laughing under their breath.

LAWRENCE (CONT’D): What the fuck are you doing here, Mickey? This is fucking crazy…

CUT TO:

INSERT – CU ON STOPWATCH

22:00 left.

Lawrence and MICKEY, goateed and scrappy-looking, have pulled up another chair and are playing cards at the small table.

Lawrence pulls from his pint, now nearly empty, and Mickey fishes out a bottle of his own from the pocket of his flannel shirt. They’re both smoking.

CUT TO:

INSERT – STOPWATCH

It reads 16:23…16:22…

Lawrence and Mickey pass a funky, glass-blown pipe between them. Smoke fills the room.

LAWRENCE: (really slurring now)…and I was like, “what the fuck?” I mean, there’s feathers and blood fucking everywhere, right? And I’m supposed to get out of there in time for my 10:30 class? What the fuck?

Mickey exhales with a deep cough, and nods.

MICKEY: I hear you man, I hear you…

JUMP CUT TO:

Lawrence and Mickey, a few moments later and still at the table playing cards, are frozen in their chairs, listening. Lawrence holds the pipe in one hand and the other hand rests over Mickey’s chest, as if to still him.

LAWRENCE: Shhhhh….did You hear something?

They’re both very still for a beat.

JUMP CUT TO:

Lawrence awkwardly shoves Mickey through the window and back outside. Micky is only visibly from the waste down, but his voice is audible from the other side of the window.

MICKEY: Alright, alright, I’m fucking going…what the fuck, slow the fuck down, man…

CUT TO:

INSERT – STOPWATCH

12:42…12:41…

Lawrence sits on the floor near the stereo. His eyes are closed and he’s moving his head to the Speed Metal in the background.

On his lap is a plate of greasy duck bones. He has grease all over his face and hands. He’s holding a bone up to his face and chewing breathlessly.

CUT TO:

INSERT – STOPWATCH

10 minutes left.

Lawrence, his face a greasy mess, his hair and shirt disheveled, is back in his chair, laptop on his lap, his arm jerking furiously.

FADE TO:

INT. HOME OFFICE – LATER

Everything about the room is a mess – speed metal plays endlessly, there’s smoke in the air, the table is out of place, there’s a dirty plate of duck bones overturned on the floor near the stereo and the bottle of lube is laying sideways on the floor near Lawrence’s desk, leaking out copious amounts of goo onto the framed picture of Lawrence and his wife. Several of the framed artwork now hangs off-kilter on the walls behind Lawrence. The Tiffany-style shade of the decorative lamp is askew.

There’s a small, torn-up baggy with some coke still visible inside it strewn carelessly over the top of the desk.

The pint of booze, empty save several dirty, crushed cigarette butts at the bottom, sits on the floor near the office door.

Just visible behind the bottle are two feet – the camera pans up to reveal Sandra, a look of utter horror on her face.

Lawrence is in his chair, his eyes closed. His laptop balances precariously over his knee, the screen revealing the homepage of some ghastly porn website. His pants are unzipped widely.

Sandra coughs.

Lawrence opens his eyes with a start. He looks around, disoriented, before settling on Sandra in the doorway.

He stares back.

A beat.

CUT TO:

Black screen

ANNOUNCER’S VOICE: (V.O.) Want to get away?

CUT TO:

INT. HOME OFFICE- CONTINUOUS

Lawrence stares at Sandra, his expression growing more pained.

He opens his mouth to explain.

He’s interrupted by the loud, clear BEEPING of his stopwatch.

Lawrence closes his mouth as the beeping continues.

FADE TO BLACK.

THE END.