Monthly Archives: October 2005

lkb-w = 6/12

10/17/05

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Darling sweet little Lucybug. You turned a whole half-year old this weekend, and I didn’t get you anything. Well, I got you several issues of In Style Magazine that you edited thoroughly, and there is my bottle of saline solution you like to gnaw on, and then there was the spoon we stole from Goode Company in Houston, but there’s nothing on earth I could give you that compares to how rich you have made our lives.

I used to read sentences like the above and roll my eyes, but being a parent to you has reminded how myopic I have been for so much of my life. Shit, I used to hate wedding rings because I said they were a showy reminder of “ownership,” but if I were being honest, it was mostly because I felt so far away from being in love. When I saw parents doting on their kids, I immediately wanted to take a road trip to Calgary, Canada and do tequila shots on top of their Space Needle – presumably because becoming a father meant the end of all spontaneity.

Man, spontaneity can suck balls for all I care. It’s such a shoddy drug in comparison to the opiate you provide by even a half-smile. Is it possible to still rock and/or roll and have a kid? I don’t know, but watching things through your eyes easily provides the same amount of glee that the “Xanadu” soundtrack did for me in 1980, and that’s saying something.

We haven’t kept strict documentation of your development, certainly not the way my mom did, but we figure we can always go back and look at the pictures with their time stamps. It’s much more accurate now: when I was a kid, there would occasionally be “OCT 71” or something printed on the back of pictures, but that would be the date the images were processed, not when they were taken, and if you knew how long certain rolls of film languished at the bottom of my mom’s purse, you’d know how off-base those could be.

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at 1 month (5/11/05), almost 3 months (7/1/05), and 6 months (10/14/05)

Here is where you are: as long as we’re not traveling, you go to sleep around 7:30pm, I “dream feed” you at midnight, and you wake up with your mom around 7:30am (or some variation therewith). You have 2-3 naps a day, and the longer they are, the happier you are, and the longer you sleep at night. Don’t ask me why this happens, it just does.

You are desperate to crawl, but can’t quite get it together. You like standing up almost as much as you like putting everything – including Chopes – into your mouth. We are going to start you on “solids” next week, but right now, there’s nothing you like better than a spoon, or the Mickey Mouse we got you at the Disney/ABC lot a few weeks ago. Something you find utterly fascinating: the way brown liquid called “coffee” seems to start in a cup, and then disappear into Mom and Dad’s face. You think this must surely be magic.

You’ve noticed that everyone else “talks,” so you are giving that a go, with varied success. You’ll stay quiet for hours, and then give us twenty solid minutes of what I can only guess to be Serbo-Croatian.

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editing In Style Magazine

But mostly, you smile. All day long. To strangers, to family. You stop people on the street, you light up long lines, the entire country wants to talk to you. I’m suddenly understanding what it must have been like to sit at the cheerleader’s table in junior high school. Your belly-laughs, usually occurring in the car or while naked waiting for the bath, should be bottled and sold as an antidepressant.

Mostly, what I have learned from you is this: you are so willing to be happy. You find no solace in misery. When you are done being tired or hungry, your natural state is delight. Me, I used to cling to my cynicism, sarcasm and negativity like rotting wood barely afloat in the ocean. But you ask: what if our resting state was always on the verge of giggles? Obviously, my writing would be pathetically twee, but I think of the many seasons I wasted on my precious indignation, and wonder why you didn’t come along to pull me out of the water a little sooner, my little pumpkin pie spice.

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falcon cannot hear the falconer

10/16/05

I promise I’ll get back to being a good “online diarist” and all, but we just pulled into Dallas and got Ol’ Ironsides to sleep, and I thought – why should I write a blog when my sister Michelle just got back from the Gulf Coast and has an amazing treatise on her website? Why should both of us Williamses have to work at the same time? Thus, I encourage – nay, urge you to go read her wonderful account of her 10-day journey into the damaged heart of disaster-struck America. For those of you with short attention spans, there are pictures. And since Blogger is weird, feel free to come back here to comment.

yellow rose of taxes

10/13/05

Sometimes I read the comments on the blogs and think, shit, I should write less. You guys are way more fun than I have been lately. All that changes now, as Salem has joined me in Houston, and I’m here in his hotel room stealing his internet connection. He’s had an airplane-bottled-sized Dewar’s and I’m waiting for the good stuff for tomorrow.

It’s late October and all, but getting off the plane in Houston still feels like you’re walking into a soiled gym sock. Humid, hot and sultry. Yet I still quite like this town, the bastion of our current administration, because it has a kick-ass mall with an ice-skating rink, and an Oshman’s where you can get Vans and other skating shoes for, like, twenty bucks.

This is also where we came exactly a week after September 11, to attend Tessa’s father’s funeral, so this place – along with New Orleans – will always have therapeutic, palliative properties despite being a bit incongruous. It’s like a baby’s transitional item: it was there when we needed it.

Lucy has yet to have a transitional item, by the way, but she is VERY partial to the tiny cardboard box that used to contain my bottle of Excedrin. She’s at the age when we can no longer stick her in some weird crib in a foreign hotel room two time zones away from reality and expect her to say, “cool, y’all. Why don’t you just go hang out at the pool?” She’s very happy to be awake in Houston, but she’s not terribly psyched about sleeping there.

Displaced Katrina victims are everywhere. We got the last crib in the hotel. Opulence combined with destitution equals a basic honesty. Wish you all were here, and yes, I’ll invite everyone to a party one day. As long as nobody’s creepy.

cue horn: wah-wah-wa-a-a-a-ah

10/12/05

I’m sitting here in Houston at a nice hotel paying tons of $$$ and yet still I get stuck on dial-up. I’m taking this as my Columbus Day Holiday – but I have one thing to add. I’m no longer planning fun things. If you want to do fun things, you’re going to have to plan them, invite others, and then you can invite me if you’d like. This is the end of the “cruise director” portion of my human development. Not an overly emotional decision, just an epiphany of sorts. That’s all for today.

P.S. Yesterday’s comments are amazing.

sperm bank mix-up comedy

10/11/05

Okay, CODE WORD. Too busy packing.

Today’s question is: have you ever voluntarily walked out of a movie, and why? I ask because I’ve never done it, as much as I’ve wanted to. I actually took a date to see “The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover” at the Varsity in Chapel Hill, and we were the only people left for the last fifteen minutes. And I think my mom and Sean walked out of Made in America.

And you?

float some flotsam

10/10/05

A few things…

1. I have been playing this game like crazy. Don’t click on the link, seriously. And don’t blame me if much of your fleeting youth is spent trying to spell “trammeling.” Which I did.

2. I am going to Texas on Wednesday to play golf on the course that Tessa’s dad designed. It’s called Blaketree National, and according to Avid Golfer, “the best-kept secret in the South.” Given that the South has a LOT of secrets – just ask Faulkner – I’m assuming this is a really awesome golf course.

Oh yeah, and Tessa hates golf and makes fun of me for playing. I told her that I needed a sport I could play with my friends when we’re 87 and pooping our pants.

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3. Speaking of which, Lucy is such an awesome little tyke. She had her first date with Stasia’s li’l boy Noah (above) and promptly tried to plant one on his face, which freaked him out, and rightfully so. We told her on the way home that most guys find that kind of frankness refreshing only in theory, and in reality they just get kind of weirded out.

It’s funny, as a parent, reading news about child-rearing as you’re actually in the act. The American Academy of Pediatrics came out yesterday with a report that pacifiers lower SIDS risk and that babies shouldn’t even sleep on their sides. Lucy liked her pacifier for about two weeks at some point in May, and now she throws the thing across the room. And we put her to bed on her side for her first four months, because she refused to sleep on her back.

Apparently they don’t like side-sleepers because the babies rassle around and end up on their bellies, and the AAP really hates that. We were pretty good about using the foam sleep positioners, however, – we crammed her into position and turned her on her other side like a hot dog every few hours. So it is possible, and she thanked us for it by being an excellent newborn sleeper.

Next up: fire-roasted chili peppers and chicken vindaloo!

4. My sister Michelle got on a computer for about ten minutes yesterday while working as a Red Cross leader on the Gulf Coast. Here’s her brief post.

5. Fresh off winning Best Musical at the Fringe Festival NYC, my brother Sean and crew have a new play going up at the end of October, a horror show just in time for Halloween called Hail Satan. Don’t forget to visit Mac’s Hollywood-influenced trailer for the play.

6. This year, I left my pumpkin patch to the elements. Sure, I gave it everything it needed to grow: manure, mulch and a perfect location… and then I left for the summer. I was rewarded with the biggest haul of my pumpkin career, and guess what? I won’t get to pick ANY of them because I’ll be three thousand miles away until November. Shed a sad tear for the jack-o-lanterns that could have been.

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snapped last week by a neighbor… *snif*

flame-retardant bridges

10/9/05

Over the last year or so, I’ve avoided talking about The Pink House movie for a variety of emotional reasons. Folks who have read this thing since 2002 – which is probably my family, three friends and the FBI – will recall that fully a third of my entries used to do with post-production on the film. I’ve gone on about reshoots, the screening of the rough cut, and even when we were utterly betrayed.

The last of these three proved almost impossible to overcome: Tessa and I had spent so much emotional energy by then that “getting back up on the horse” never happened the way we would have liked. Some wounds are too deep, and sometimes you really do wait for a savior that never comes.

I bring this up because the movie Waiting… came out on Friday (if you’ve been watching “My Name is Earl” or Comedy Central lately, you’ve seen the ads) and writer/director Rob McKittrick has been keeping a tell-all blog about the various people that helped him and tried to destroy him along the way.

Here was a guy with zero connections who went from being a waiter at TGIFriday’s in Orlando to making a real film with Hollywood backing. If you’ve got 15 minutes, start from the beginning of his blog and read all the way through, because I’ve never seen a more honest account – and outright name-calling of those who probably deserved it – in the history of indie film. Sure, you’ve seen exposés of celebrities and directors long after their careers are assured, but Rob is just starting out, and his honesty is the sort of thing every agent in Hollywood would BEG him not to put in a blog.

Perhaps this video of him fighting with Luis Guzman might whet your appetite. [Scratch that: we met Vanessa Lengies today, and she said it was a prank. We didn’t believe her at first, but she was right! -mod.]

God knows when it came to the Pink House movie I kept my mouth shut. I could say things about certain actors, certain members of the crew, and a particular demon that would have you enrapt, but we were always so afraid, so worried that it would all come back to haunt us. That some producer at a big studio would get wind of my attitude, and it would be just enough to make them say “forget it.”

As it was, we never exactly finished the film the way I wanted it. We ran out of funds $30K short of our goal, and it was just too much. After a screening of the movie in front of some friends and family down in Tribeca – yes, the one YOU attended – we made some massive editing changes and tightened it up. After a screening in Chapel Hill where students got to give notes (along with laughing a lot, I might add), we did one more big tweak and sent our impossibly-long-gestated baby to a bunch of festivals for this winter and next spring.

We’ve foregone the festivals on everyone’s lips (Sundance, Toronto, etc.) because we just don’t have the production machine or feature-film connections to be even remotely in the running. Instead, we’ve chosen smaller festivals in towns we love, towns we want to visit, and towns that contain people that we adore. We think we could have a great time with our little indie comedy, and maybe close that chapter of our lives with an award from somewhere delightful. Possibly even see it on Comedy Central one day. Or just put those lessons learned in the back of our brains to use again, possibly sooner than we expect.

And “Waiting…” by Rob McKittrick? The tiny film he had worked on since 1997? Blew expectations out of the water this weekend by grossing $5.7 million with an average of $3,450 a theater. All without holding his tongue.

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funny candid of Tessa and me, first Pink House shoot, 2001

Lord’s to-do list: 1) taketh 2) giveth

10/6/05

Who probably should have died:

Keith Richards

Elton John

Billy Joel

Don Rickles

Robert Byrd

Joey Bishop

Rich Little

Danny Bonaduce

Ann B. Davis

Kurt Vonnegut

Who should have stayed a little longer:

Jim Henson

Peter Sellers

Jerry Orbach

Richard Fariña

John Ritter

Chris Bell

Kirsty MacColl

Audrey Hepburn

Paul Lynde

John Lennon

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feel free to add yours

sleeping with the television on

10/5/05

Let me tell you a little something about television, or more succinctly, how TV shows are chosen. This is the very quick, scaled-down version so you don’t have to buy that book “How TV Shows are Picked For Dummies.” I’m not implying you’re a dummy, by the way. I hate how those books make that subtle implication. Except for Divorce for Dummies, which really is for dummies.

Anyway, each network hears about 4.3 billion pitches during “development season” for dramas, which lasts roughly from “after the 4th of July” to “just after Labor Day.” Some years the development season goes on much longer for a variety of reasons (like this year), and some networks don’t like the concept of seasons and will develop when they please (Fox does it occasionally because of Major League Baseball, and networks like HBO and Showtime play by their own rules).

Somehow you have to get a meeting with one of the networks in order to be one of these 4.3 billion pitches, and if they like the idea – or they like you – they will buy your pitch. Each network will purchase about sixty script ideas this way each development season. Stop me if I’m getting any of this wrong, Jen.

Ladies and gentlemen, Jen Chambers!

Anyway, these sixty scripts are usually written by people who already had deals with the network, or already have a show on the air, or are some kind of newbie with a hot idea. Out of these sixty, about 7-10 are chosen to be shot as pilots. You know pilots as their better name, the “season premiere,” but there are plenty of shot pilots that don’t go anywhere. In fact, there are festivals dedicated to them.

Perhaps three or four pilots make it to the airwaves: in the last few weeks, you might have seen “Prison Break,” “Surface” or “Commander in Chief.” If the pilot and subsequent 2-3 episodes do well in the ratings, the network orders more (which just happened to “Everybody Hates Chris”). If it doesn’t, it is cancelled (like “Head Cases”) and one of the other un-aired pilots might get a shot at mid-season. “Grey’s Anatomy” was introduced at mid-season last year and became a hit.

You remember the career cliffhanger I was mentioning last week? Well, I can’t reveal any details, but I can say that something wonderful happened to us today, something deep in the long list above. What could be better than to tell stories for a living?

what I do know is we’re here and it’s now

10/4/05

The nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court scares the shit out of me. Liberals and progressives are breathing a cautious sigh of relief because the right-wing nutjobs are frothing at the mouth, but I think it’s a ploy and we’re being had. She could be the biggest disaster on the Supreme Court since Clarence Thomas, and it’ll be slipped right under our noses.

I’ve heard several opinions saying Miers is a “selection borne out of weakness,” but when has that ever held true for the Bush/Rove administration? These are people that promised to be “uniters” in 2000 and then became the meanest bunch of motherflubbers since the Whigs. In 2004, they thought 51% of the electorate meant a “mandate.” These people have never cared what anyone thought of them, shoved through as many insanely ideological circuit judges as possible, tried to outlaw gays in the Constitution, kept sending American kids to their deaths in a war that nobody wants anymore, and people think that Miers is a choice made from weakness?

“Oh, but Katrina and Iraq and Abu Ghraib and DeLay and Frist, etc.,” you might say, but I think that only makes these people more brazen. They could be on a drowning raft in a lake of fire and still maintain that they create their own reality. Look at Bush’s statements today: that she is “never going to change.” Glad to know that arguments are useless in front of her, which is always a great characteristic for a judge hearing cases.

She is getting this job because of a decade of loyal, dogged, unwavering service to BushCo., and she’s been appointed to the Supreme Court, whose main charge is to provide checks on the Presidency? And she’s never argued a case? Has no paper trail? When did we become so used to this kind of unbelievable mediocrity? This is THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT. Does that mean anything anymore?

And the more I delved into my soul on this one, the more the question kept coming up: when did we become so used to such mediocrity in our entire world? I don’t want to get too touch-feely and metaphysical here, but grant me this one question… in a world where everything could be so much better, why are we satisfied with things being so shitty?

There is a commercial on right now – by Toyota, for the Prius and Highlander Hybrid, no less – that asks a simple question: What would it be like if the air were clean again? It’s beautifully shot, with waving wheat and sensational sunsets over Scottish shores, and though it sounds like a cliché, it really does put the viewer into a sort of reverie.

Why do we have to be scared to get on an airplane? Why are there metal detectors at schools? Why is there Islamic fundamentalism? Why do progressives and conservatives hate each other so much? Why is there any poverty in this country? Why is the Arctic ice cap melting? Because men, or mankind, causes all these things to happen, and with a few tweaks – tiny blips on the great historical timeline – we could be free of them all.

I love a conspiracy theory as much as the next red-blooded American, but I don’t believe there is a 100mpg engine being hidden by Exxon-Mobil, nor do I think there is some solar panel made of spinach that achieves 85% efficiency. But having said that, WHY AREN’T THERE?

To be satisfied with the way things are, I don’t know, I can’t live like that. Which is why, much to the snickering of the right-wing commenters on this blog, we choose to drive a Prius and got solar panels for our house. Sure, it won’t “pay for itself” in the next ten years, but that’s so utterly missing the point.

There’s still so many instances of such beauty in the world: state parks, basketball, that girl in the cafeteria who likes you, the Painted Desert, Lucy in her giraffe jammies… but it only serves to highlight the despicableness of everything else.

I’ll stop there, because I’m sounding like one of those Kid Power public service spots they used to show after Schoolhouse Rock on Saturday mornings. But I would like to know how all of you think we got so okay with things being so rotten.