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Monthly Archives: November 2012

Meditations on Fools — by Jack

One after the other

Ed Wood, Derek Zoolander, Shaggy and Scooby, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Ron Burgundy, Donna Noble, Falstaff, and the holy trinity, Larry, Curly, and Moe. What do these cinematic and literary icons all share? Their ineptitude for logic and common sense. In other words, they’re fools.

I’ve begun work on a new spec scripts (finally) and decided to make the theme of the story centering on the archetypal fool. So in preparation I’ve begun meditating and ruminating. It seems that every comedy has a fool of some sort. In sitcoms, there’s usually the idiot character. Friends had Joey, Seinfeld had George Castanza, and The Simpsons may have the greatest fool of all time, Homer. In film, we’ll watch whole stories about Forrest Gump, Everette McGill, and Don Quixote.

Sometimes they exist to amuse us and make us feel better about ourselves. They dance through life, as random happenstance protects them from danger, completely unaware. (Think Baby’s Day Out)

But sometimes the fool is not so lucky. These ones are trapped by their short comings, doomed to make the same mistakes over and over again. I sympathize with this fool. Their struggle is a reflection of our own wrong headed but continued behavior. Ed Wood is a difficult movie for me to watch for this very aspect. I will point out that this fool is, many times, not a fool at all. But someone who views the world in such a new way, he is rejected. Moneyball‘s Billy Beane is a primary example. And although he is right, it doesn’t make him any less tragic.

Why is the fool a necessary part of our pop culture? Maybe it reaches back to when we were children. We were cruel to the fool in class. The crueler we were to them, the more we distanced ourselves from the possibility we could be one ourselves. We lacked the sympathy and compassion to do otherwise. As we grew older, we viewed our parents as the fools. (In many teen geared sitcoms, the parents are the bumbling idiots, completely out of touch with reality.) And as we graduated into adulthood and came to see the expansiveness of reality, some of us started to view ourselves as the fool. Taking chances we couldn’t possibly guarantee the success of. Or getting ourselves into complicated situations where, in the confrontation of the moment, we acted foolishly. While in retrospect, the wiser choice seemed so obvious.

Have you ever heard of candy floss?

Have you ever heard it called candy floss? WTF Britain?

These two sides, the fanciful fool and the regretful one…I want them to meet. Set them at odds. I want to take the pained lamenting man and have him grab the dancing moron by the shirt collar and demand answers and ask confronting questions. I want these two to hash it out. And at the end I’ll have them reassemble back into one and see if the fool has changed. I honestly don’t know if he will. I’ll have to find out when I write the story. But in the meantime, I want to take a good good look at him and for a second pretend…

The image I see is of a man, hunched over in his bar stool cradling his pint. It’s a rare moment for him, or perhaps only a moment he has when he thinks he’s alone. I’m not sure if he can identify where his life has gone astray. I’m not even sure if he is even aware of it. He is on a path that he cannot change himself. When he notices that you are there, that he is no longer alone, he spins in his bar stool raising his glass. He pats you on the back or maybe playfully punches you in the arm. He tells you something and he’s so excited to tell it to you. To him it seems like an incomprehensible epiphany so profound that it must have been bequeathed by God himself. And you would be happy for him if you’d not heard it a dozen times before. You offer to buy him a drink. He laughs, dismissing your offer in an attempt to hold on to his dignity. You realize it is painful for him to accept your kindness. But he cannot afford not to. He tells you stories with inflated details and unlikely happy endings. He gives you unsolicited advice and improbably business secrets. And when it’s time for you to go he claps your forearm, pleading that it is far too early for a departure.

You want to comfort him but it is too much. The notion being that any help you render will not possibly bring any sort of lasting change. He now knows the time is at its end and release your arm. He gives you a smile and a thanks, then says he’ll get you the next time. You wish him luck. He swirls around in his bar stool another couple of times.

Just some thoughts.

You know what Mr. T pities.

Does he really need a sign?

–Jack Out

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Posted by on November 30, 2012 in By Jack, Writing

 

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Ask Mack! — By…c’mon, figure it out.

The guide.

One day I’m sitting in the apartment, wasting time watching Hulu. I noticed I left an OkCupid tab open and to my surprise found a half dozen IM messages from some chick.

PANDAmonium: So I’ll be up front- I’ve come on to okc to ask for some feedback

PANDAmonium: on a guy matter

PANDAmonium: also im NOT a phone sex operator or scammer

PANDAmonium: yes i am serious about all these things

PANDAmoniumWhy the hell am i messaging you? I put u on my faves list apparently some time ago (I add people who seem interesting) so no, I don’t know u in person

PANDAmonium: and im not wacko despite the out-there ness of this message!

Should I have ignored this crazy person? Yea probably. But a mix of curiosity and sympathy with a dash of inflated ego proved I would choose otherwise. 

BigMackAttack: I was afk. (away from keyboard, for those unfamiliar with internet abbreviations) What’s up?

PANDAmonium: you responded yay! Okay so can I get ur opinion about this…thing?

BigMackAttack: shoot.

PANDAmonium: It’s kinda complicated…stupidly so…but I’ll try to not give alllllthe little details…and perceived details etc. So i had this guy teaching improv — I took his class — Now he’s about 27 and on a side note has a gf (who is also a model) — I’m 98% sure there have been messages, signals, communication if u will- that indicates he wants to fuck me

BigMackAttack: …okay…

PANDAmonium: I want to….plus im into him (as in like him…and on a side note im a feminist so the whole gender divisive women=all emotions men=all sex Annoys the crap out of me…I don’t subscribe to it)

BigMackAttack: You’re not really making any sense…

PANDAmonium: Which part?

BigMackAttack: Like all of it.

PANDAmonium: I’m also almost 100% sure at least 2 people if not more know about this thing we have (aka nothing really…but something u know?)

Why am I still talking to her?

BigMackAttack: Okay. Hold up. Let me ask you some questions. See if I can’t sort some of this out.

PANDAmonium: allright

BigMackAttack: So this improv instructor, have you and he ever hung out outside of class?

PANDAmonium: Well not just the two of us — we’ve been to this bar with ppl from class

BigMackAttack: Does he ever talk to you specifically at this bar?

PANDAmonium: well not like to just me…

BigMackAttack: What is your physical interaction like?

PANDAmonium: physical interaction?

BigMackAttack: Like does he ever put his arm around you? Ever tap your thigh or arm when he makes a point?

PANDAmonium: this one time I gave him a back massage!

BigMackAttack: Oh! That’s big. How’d he react to that?

PANDAmonium: he gave like a high pitched squeal he wasn’t expecting it — he was talking to another girl… but he WAS BEING FUNNY!!!

BigMackAttack: How long have you known him?

PANDAmonium: bout 6 months

BigMackAttack: Shhhh…yea…It’s not looking…

PANDAmonium: k k I know, but so like he does an improv show after class and I go to them a lot and he knows I go to them a lot

BigMackAttack: …

PANDAmonium: and like a lot of his scenes are about like marriage or like one of the topics was “proposal”

BigMackAttack: I think you might be reading into–

PANDAmonium: But he like looks at me when he does them!

BigMackAttack: So there’s eye contact.

PANDAmonium: not exactly, but he turns his head this way, and its towards me and one time he held his hand with his finger up over his forehead…so it was like…you know…?

BigMackAttack: A penis?

PANDAmonium: well yea…and this other time—

BigMackAttack: Okay I’m going to stop you here. Have you ever been on stage before? Like a real live performance?

PANDAmonium: in high school I did Grease

BigMackAttack: You remember those light?

PANDAmonium: yea?

BigMackAttack: How well could you see specific people in the audience?

PANDAmonium: oh 😦

BigMackAttack: All the stuff he does in improv, you have to discount. You’re wasting time if you think you can dissect any of that. If you and this guy aren’t talking outside of class or his show, I’m not seeing any evidence.

PANDAmonium: but theres this energy

BigMackAttack: Doubtful. But here’s a way to test for sure. You have a monologue you’ve been working on, I take it?

PANDAmonium:  not really

BigMackAttack: Wait, you’re an actress right?

PANDAmonium: well, yea but I do improv

BigMackAttack: Get a monologue. Like yesterday. Once you’ve got it memorized, go reserve one of the rooms in the drama building, ask him to help you with it. If you two spend the whole time working on your monologue, he’s not into you. If you two get distracted talking about each other, if you feel that chemistry, then you know.

PANDAmonium: That’ll work?

BigMackAttack: You kidding me? You’ve any idea how many times girls asked me to “work on a monologue” with them?

PANDAmonium:  *O_O*

BigMackAttack: Be careful, though. If he has a girlfriend, you might piss people off or end up with a bad rep. If it were just college, that’s be one thing. But, this is the theatre world. You’ll see these people long after you graduate. I guarantee it.

PANDAmonium: didn’t think about that…thx

BigMackAttack: np

PANDAmonium: feel free to message me if you ever wanna ask me something or if you want my number…

BigMackAttack: That’s okay.

Mack Landers

–Mackified for your entertainment

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2012 in By Mack, Dating

 

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Marty’s Half Dozen: Chapter 2 — By Jill

Slow night.

Continued from Chapter 1.

Day 94

“Nothing ever changes, Jill.”

Marty’s lip trembles as he blinks to hold back his tears. I’m terrified. How could a person, so sensitive, so in touch with humanity, turn into this…monster? The bar is silent. Every single person’s eyes are fixed on me.  I have no idea what to do.

Marty breaks the silence. “I’m tired, Jill. Then he commands, “So pour me the drink.”

Day 5

It was a slow Tuesday at work. At first I was relieved as I was finally able to get comfortable behind the bar. But after about four hours I wanted to pull my hair out. There was me and a quiet and silly homeless man spending his “spare change?” money. I had nick-named him Sloppy Joe. I couldn’t help wishing Marty would come in. He and I didn’t really have a chance to talk the other night as I was perpetually in the weeds.

The front door opened and I sharply turned my head like a dog left home all day. But no Marty. Just a young couple. They immediately went to the back then started gratuitously making out. I could have gone over to them to ask them to order or get out, but when you’re working a painfully slow shift, you don’t really want to do anything. So I left them to their public privacy.

In your face!

Eventually, I couldn’t take it anymore and rested my head on the bar top. After what felt like seconds, I was awakened with a startling thud. Indentations in my forearms and cheek mirroring the rivets of the bar top paired with the warm apprehensive tingling sensation of the chest and neck were indicative of an ill-timed nap. I surveyed the bar. PDA couple, Sloppy Joe and…was it…could it…yes! Marty.

He was sitting in the exact same stool from a few nights ago. Black trench coat, hat resting beside him and his briefcase propped open on the bar. That explains the thud. I approached him as he sorted through his papers.

“What’ll it be stranger?”

“1/2 dozen hot buffalo wings and a club soda with lime.”

He ordered matter-of-factly, not looking up from his papers.

“Sure, you don’t want a Negroni?”

“A club soda with lime will be fine, thank you.”

Nothing. Nada. He is a customer. I am an order taker. I was a little heart broken. Maybe he had gotten drunk the other night before he came into the bar. Hell, maybe I had imagined the whole thing to begin with.

“You want those less cooked, so their not crispy, right?”

He gazed up from his papers and took a good look at me.

“And if you don’t want a drink, Can I make it a ‘Marty’s Half Dozen?”

“Why that sounds magnificent, Jill.”

He smiled and went back to his papers.

***

When his food finally came up he put his papers away and we started talking. I told him about New York and my mistakes with Mack prompting me to move back to Seattle. We were interrupted by PDA guy.

“Excuse me. Can we get some service, please?” he demanded.

“Thought you two wanted your privacy.” I quipped.

He sneered then, “Two shots of Patron.”

After dealing with him I went back to Marty. “Can you believe those two? This isn’t a motel.”

“Well, I don’t take to his rudeness, but at least you can be happy for them.”

“What? Why? It’s disgusting.”

“I guess so. But I walk through this city, riding its buses, and with the constant overcast, I find myself surrounded by so much solitude, so many grimaces, and utter contempt. It’s nice to be around someone enjoying themselves.”

“Well it doesn’t make me feel any better. It makes me feel angry. It feels unfair.”

“I know. Believe me, I know. That’s hurt. That’s loneliness. You wonder why love has been kept from you. Rationalizing that luck simply just hasn’t gotten around to you yet. But when you see two lovers there, in front of you, it’s real. Like being picked last for baseball, there’s no denying the problem is probably you. And you sink deeper.

But that breeds something dark within you, Jill. I used to have a friend. She’d  say that we should always feel the joy of others. For the longest time, I rejected that. But I’ve found that she has a point. Something magical happens when you spread the good.

“Sounds like some cheesy after-school sentiment to me.”

“Maybe it is.”

With that he left me a 20 for his wings. “Hey Marty, one thing before you go. You always do the club soda thing. You ever drink?”

“No. Never.”

“Why not?”

“Let’s just say, I lost something very very special because of it. And I’ve been wandering ever since. But that’s a story for another time.”

“And you still, ‘spread the good'”?

“Yes, I have to.”

He put on his coat, packed up his briefcase, gave me a smile, and went over to Sloppy Joe.

“Have one on me.”

Day 94

I’m still terrified, but I stick to my guns. “Marty, if you want a drink, you’re going to have to go somewhere else.”

“No Jill. You’re going to pour the drink. Or you’re next.”

And that’s when it occurred to me. That when the best of us fall, they do the most damage.

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2012 in By Jill, Marty's Half Dozen, Restaurants

 

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Another ending — By Mack

She doesn’t even use the recycling bin.

It was a few months ago.

We’re walking back to the apartment. There’s all this tension. The conversation is awkward and flat. Somethin’s up. Somethin’ she needs to say but either doesn’t want to or doesn’t want to deal with the fallout. I’m 98% sure she’s about to break things off.

I’ve felt this coming for about 3 weeks. Last week I crossed from suspicion to being pretty damn sure. The change in the texts, that’s a big red flag. When you first start, they’re like Christmas presents. You’re damn hungry for them. Over time you relax, but they still got that hint of excitement. That immediacy to respond, when that goes, then you know you’re in trouble. Granted, people get busy. Involved. They’re “going through something.” But if they’re still into you they’ll find a way to get back to you. They’ll give you an “authentic response.” Not a cookie cut one. And the divide grows from there.

We’re a block from the apartment. 98% sure. It’s funny because there’s still 2% of me that’s still in denial. Maybe it is all in my head. Maybe she really is going through something. For some stupid reason I think that if I get her back to my room, get her in my bed, I can somehow fix it. I don’t know, remind her of the physical connection? Maybe I just want her one more time.

Then she stops. She looks down. Brushes her hair out of her face. Then looks up at me. It’s this moment, this second, where I’m sure it’s coming. But it hasn’t happened yet! She’s still mine! This look is coming from one place, the place of her being my girlfriend. When she opens her mouth and says what she gonna say, it’ll be from somewhere else. Foreign. Independent. And I won’t be welcome anymore.

My mind has jumps to a month ago. The last “good” time we had together. I say good, I mean fun. I had already started to figure the break up was coming. But it was something I could still fix back then. We’re outside the hospital, playing like 6 year-olds along the fence of this closed cafe. Her eyes were so different then. Filled with…I don’t know…some kind of wonder. It was like she was drinking me in.

She hops off the fence, grabs my hand, runs across the street demanding we lie in the grass. The thought of an ant or spider crawling on makes me roll my eyes. As I light my cigarette, I wonder if she’s too young for me. But it’s too late, she pulls me down. She gives me that look again. It makes me feel like some sort of diamond. Girls don’t usually make me feel precious. It is a damn sweet memory.

In the now. She begins to speak. The thing that I hate, is that what she’s gonna say, it changes that memory. Like, corrupts it. Making me question it. For a while, I just assume it was a lie. How could she be so damn in love with me then and now…nothing?…”thanks for playing, here’s a copy of the home game.” I’ll eventually figure it was a misunderstanding.

She says the words I know she has to say. All of a sudden I’m so damn hot. I glaze over a bit. She talks. When I was younger man I might have pleaded and begged. When I was younger. but not quite that young, I might have attacked her. Been vile. If I did truly feel like she was the “one” I might lay it all on the line pouring my heart out. But deep down I know she wasn’t. At least not from our relationship so far. What’s funny is that I really wanted her to be the “one.” But I’m starting to believe I may not be capable of feeling that for anyone. So instead of all those other actions, I just…comply.

We reach an understanding. As much of one as I think we can reach. And we have that goodbye kiss. That take in all and everything you can. It is a mix of sweet familiarity and the pain of euthanized hope. I feel her tears on my cheek as we pull away half an inch. Just breathing, thinking, feeling. Lingering in hesitation to let go. That uncomfortable heat returns. It’s an anxious feeling, but I stomach it for as long as I can. We eventually
we do let go and slowly back away from each other.

Thank you’s and pleasant words are exchanged. I ask her what she’s going to do. She says she’s gonna stay at a friend’s tonight. Then I clarify, I mean with the roommate situation.

“I’m moving out.”

“Gonna go to Brooklyn or somethin’?”

“Actually, I’m going to move back to Seattle. I’ve been thinking about leaving New York for a while.”

So long…

It’s the 2nd gut bomb of the night, but I didn’t see this one coming. I figure it’s for the best. I watch her leave for her friend’s for the night. There a good breath of relief. The anticipation of doom is finally gone. But of course I’m sad and somewhat angry. But mostly sad. I’ll miss Jill.

-Mack-ified for your enjoyment.

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2012 in By Mack, Dating

 

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