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Back to Rational Thought

It’s been a week, and I’ve realized that maybe I’ll neither die nor have my soul sucked out through my asshole. At least, not for a few months. I’m settling down, mellowing out, and trying to get used to this place. There are some cultural oddities, like the millions of people roaming the street desperately wanting to be a part of something called “the biz”* and a general consensus that lazily wrapping Christmas trees around palm tree trunks isn’t the stupidest thing in history, that I haven’t really gotten used to yet. Mostly, though, it’s just like a gigantic Schaumburg, and as some of you know, I spent the better part of 23 years roaming the suburban jungle in search of Smashing Pumpkins records, discarded Playboys, and pot, so it’s much easier for me to do the electric slide into The Wood than I anticipated. Like I said, I’m not all there yet, and maybe I never will be, but it’s a little more familiar than I thought it would be.

Did anything interesting happen this week? No, but I’ll continue rambling anyway. Let’s see…I was zinged by Earl Hamner, former Twilight Zone writer and creator of The Waltons. He asked me about my writing process, and I told him I start by drinking an enormous cup of coffee, at which point he cut me off and asked, “Have you tried gin?” Being mocked by him was definitely the highlight of my week.

I got in trouble for making fun of directors. It was mild trouble, not you’re-banned-from-the-studio trouble. It’s apparently pilot season, and they’re filming tons of stuff on the lot. Yesterday, the roadway to the commissary was blocked off for shooting. It’s lined with bungalows that can be transformed, with minimal redressing, into quaint suburban homes. On our way to lunch, we saw a director and cinematographer muttering on top of a 30-foot scaffolding. When we came out, they were still muttering, and I said, “They’re filming a pilot here, right? I’ll bet that’s the crane shot.”

It’s a pretty well-known fact that many pilot episodes feature a dazzling crane shot, wherein the camera—affixed to a crane, hence the name—pulls back and away from the action to give an exciting, sweeping panorama. It’s the most cliché shot in the history of television, and they do them in almost every pilot produced in the last 20 years because, simply, cranes don’t usually factor into the budget for episodic television. Sure, they do it once in awhile, but it’s not an every-episode kind of thing. However, since they generally have more money and time to play with while shooting a pilot, why not break out the crane?

And how about this for comic timing? As soon as I said that, and my classmates chuckled, and then a crane turned the corner down the blocked-off suburban street, which led to guffaws, which prompted me to continue my mockery of the crane shot, which got the attention of the director, who shed a lone tear I’m sure. My professor apparently witnessed this and whispered the suggestion that now that I’m in the thick of things, I should maybe keep the mockery to myself, because you never know who’s listening. It’s not an easy thing to get used to, coming from a background that revolves primarily around mocking people to their faces, but these sensitive Hollywood types need their egos stroked, so a-stroking I will go. I’ve had a great deal of practice.

Finally, I got lost for the first time since I got here. Whoever designed and named the roads in this area was smoking some fine crack. At any rate, it took me 45 minutes to find a Target (and when you think of that bullseye imagery, it just becomes funnier, doesn’t it?) because in spite of what the map may say, the road I was looking for (Empire Avenue) does not intersect with the road I was on (Hollywood Way) in any way I could idenitfy.

Here’s the best part, though: after I finally found Empire Avenue, and then I found the Target, and then I did my shopping, and then I went home, I decided I’d take Empire back the way I came. Since clearly it didn’t intersect with Hollywood the first time around, I naturally assumed it would when I was going back. I am dumb as a goddamn rock, so yes, I got lost a second time. To add insult to injury, as I attempted to navigate myself back to my apartment, I passed—you guessed it—another Target, which is apparently closer to where I live. “Store locator,” my ass.

I’m on page 83 of my first draft, and it’s going reasonably well so far. The last 20 pages are kind of assy, but it should be reasonable enough to fix.

*I’m one of these people, and I hope everybody else feels as pathetic about it as I do…

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