Sunday, April 5, 2009

Happy Birthday

I can't believe it's been nearly a month since I've written anything here. A month... right. Try A YEAR and nearly a month! Excuses? There are none. Reasons? Because no one cares, and neither do I. I mean, it's not this NON-journal I'm talking about, it's those stories in question, which have been sitting somewhere still and alone. Gathering dust, if a computer file can gather dust. But why waste more time talking about it?

Today is the first day of the last day of the remainder of the first day of the last day of your life, more or less... so they say. So the crucial thing isn't to make excuses, or lament the past and the things not done, but to get up tomorrow and... go to work. Go to a job. Take a lunch break for no reason other than they aren't paying you for it and you need the break. Get off work, go home and directly to bed. If I accomplish anything, it seems, it's going to have to be during work, or from bed.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

I Did Not Attend Church This Morning

So this morning I finally decided that I would be brave enough to do it: I would read over my "final" manuscript of stories-- Nine Lies-- which I finished and haven't looked at since last May. Would I decide that it's total shit? Would I decide that it's a masterpiece? Both of those extreme reactions seem like crazy-person response, but I was secretly hoping for one of those verdicts. Because wouldn't that be a whole lot less depressing than the realization that I usually come to after rereading this work after setting it aside for several months: that it's good, it's promising, but it needs work.

Hopefully I would feel more positive than after the last time I had completed a "final" version-- sometime in the early 2000's. At that time I had printed out many copies and sent them to various friends and readers, only to decide later that the whole thing needed an overhaul, and I was mortified that I had sent it out at all. Several years passed and then I decided to restructure the whole thing and turn it into a novel. After completing that, I decided to turn it back in to separate, but somewhat connecting, stories. That is where it stands now. Or should I say, sits, on a shelf.

With the aid of absolutely no caffeine this morning, I read the first story, which is rather long, called, "To Havre and Have Not." I have never worked on a story so much as I have worked on this story. I feel like if I was a Mason, I would have single-handedly built one of those grand Masonic halls, except that it wouldn't have a practical use-- 9 doors, 9 rooms, all opening on each other and going nowhere. But let's not bring the Masons into this; I just like the buildings. The memory of writing this story feels like I painstakingly passed my whole body through the eye of a needle. Well, maybe not that. More like I drove back and forth across the country a few times.

Anyway, I feel removed from this story now. I didn't remember at all how I had restructured it. My reading was as objective as it's ever going to be from me. It's not the most reader-friendly story ever written. It starts out making you think it's a straightforward adventure narrative-- or such a story with flashbacks. But then it becomes something else. Set in that weird little pocket of our history between the Y2K (non) crisis and Sept. 11, it was written later, knowing that things would get worse and worse and worse. I feel like this story is about my last desperate attempt to hold onto something-- which I end up losing forever.

I read it. It didn't put me to sleep. I didn't cringe. It actually surprised me, even though I've read those words, in one form or another, about 4000 times in the past. I like this story. I more than like it, but I don't want to sound pretentious, or like a crazy person-- though maybe I am pretentious. And a crazy person. Am I just a pretentious crazy person? But this isn't about me. It's about the story-- and I liked it. At this point, I don't feel like I have any more rewriting to do. Now for the next 8 stories.

Friday, March 7, 2008

More Of The Same

It's March. Not only is it March, it's 7 March. Thing are not different. They are exactly the same.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Things Will Be Different

Things will be different once it is March. No more being depressed about things that are out of my control. I will change the things I can't control, control the things I can change, and what's the difference? It used to be if I didn't like what was on TV, I'd KICK IN the screen. Now I change the channel. It's called maturity. After all, I'm pushing 40. And the wrong way. I saw something today that froze my blood. And it was when I looked in the mirror. It's time to stop feeling sorry for yourself, I said. Later I revised that. It's time to stop talking to yourself like you're another person. And time to stop talking to other people like they're you.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Thank You For The Extra Day, February!

...because I need an extra day. I have spent all of my time job hunting... because making enough money to pay my rent and my bills HAS to be the priority right now. Wow... that sure is a boring way to start out a journal entry! No wonder I haven't written much lately.

Should I be concerned that no one-- not my dearest friends or my closest colleagues or my antsiest agents-- has asked me about the status of my "9 Lies" manuscript, the most important thing to me in my life? That's what happens when you take nearly 20 years to write something and burn out a lot of willing readers on the way. I'm not concerned, except for realizing that I need to read it myself, again, carefully, as 9 months has gone by since the completion of the last, "final," revision. That is my next scary project.

I will be happy when the movie THE POOL gets in some theaters and people can see it, because it is a movie I love, and my distance from it allows me to be more objective than I can be with my own writing. I just feel honored to be associated with it, and also felt honored that it was nominated for a Spirit Award, held last weekend. Because the "low budget" John Cassavetes Award listed directors, producers, and writers with the pictures, I was invited to the event. I really wanted to attend for moral support for Chris and Kate, and because it's been WAY too long since I've been to LA, and because I thought I might be able to discuss "craft" with that Diablo Cody, and also maybe hit up Schnabel for a job of some kind. But being unemployed, and with the last of my credit card cash advances quickly running out, and with the credit card companies using this opportunity (kicking a guy when he's down, that is) to raise my interest rates and lower my credit limits, I couldn't make the ceremony and had to check the internet periodically for results. I always wondered what it would be like to be nominated for something and lose. I guess it kind of made me feel... churlish and disgruntled is the word I'm looking for. I noted that the film that beat out The Pool had been advance DVD mailed to me (as a Film Independent member and voter), which means they sent a lot of those out! "Are we kids or what?" --to quote J.J. Hunsecker in "Sweet Smell of Success." Call me a sore loser, but just don't call me "loser."

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

not being a smartass for once

Every year at this time I have some kind of a birthday, which I know would be more healthy to celebrate than to see as a countdown toward death, but you know, I don't see a glass as half empty or half full, but as a glass that possibly contains poison. This is also the time of the Sundance Film Festival, which I have attended several times in the past, including last year, with Chris and Kate and a lot of the makers of the film "The Pool"-- including some of the Indian actors and crew. I have never started a year out with such optimism. Then followed a lot of disappointment as the film struggled to find a distributor. It now has a distributor, at least, and after countless viewings, much thought, lots of discussion, divorce, dreams, and separation, I still believe it's one of the best films out there. I argue that my objectivity on this matter is possible, and I don't feel like it's going out on much of a limb to predict that "The Pool" will find a large and very enthusiastic audience, no matter how slowly.

At the same time, I started being disappointed at film after film after DVD after movie-going-experience, to the point where I stopped going to the movies or even watching them at home. Part of that was due to packing, moving, going insane from packing and moving, and recovering from insanity. I admit that I haven't seen much of what I think I might like that's out there now, but on the other hand I find myself not caring. I still care deeply about books. What has happened between me and movies? Is it just me, just the movies, or both?

I feel like the next few months will tell me a lot and answer a lot of questions about my future with various art forms. There is something to be said about quitting everything and then starting over-- it's a good time to separate what's really important to you from the things you were just doing because you always did them.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

New Everything

Due to the overwhelming lack of response to the "name change" survey, I decided to change the name as well as the entire look for this online journal. It never really knew what it wanted to be anyway. Now perhaps it has a new purpose: Randy Russell trying to find readers for his collection of stories, titled "Nine Lies." The first reader may well be himself, at which time he may decide to embark on yet another harrowing 9 month editing freakout!

Or maybe not. We'll see. Stay tuned. Hopefully this new look will be easier on your eyes. The old one was really bugging me. Every time I saw it I thought of the USC Trojans, and the name John David Booty kept going through my mind. John David Booty, John David Booty, like an endless nightmare.

Thanks to Frankie Latina for the photo. It's a scene from his upcoming movie, Modus Operandi. Happy 2008 everyone!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

World's Most Difficult Job

Q. What is the world's most difficult job?

It has to be replacing the paper towels in paper towel dispensers. There are many, many different kinds of paper towel dispensers, but they are all a nightmare to keep up with. Some have locks, and it's really easy to lose the key. Some are just really uncooperative. And people use really a lot of paper towels! Even if they just pee, they wash their hands (with soap!) and then dry them with like 18 paper towels. Even if a paper towel dispenser held like ONE MILLION paper towels, it would still have to be filled sometime, and in that case it would be such a big job no one would want to deal with it. And the key would be lost... it's just a really big problem, you know? And no one likes those blow dryer things, except weirdos.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Vegan option preferred!

Does anyone know how to make a word file into an RTF file without the destruction of property or the loss of human life???

Monday, July 16, 2007

More Answers

What about "I don't know" don't you understand?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


No news.

No news is good news.

Whoever came up with that one was an idiot!

Oh, wait. That was me.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Karl Lagerfeld

Here is a quote from Karl Lagerfeld from a profile in a recent issue of The New Yorker: "Let's get out of here."

Monday, March 12, 2007

Currently listening to: Full Moon Forever

Oh, one other thing you might teach your kids: don't grow up to be complete fucking assholes. That's a bit of advice that seems to have fallen by the wayside.

Talking about the wayside, I guess maybe I will go back and tell that story, I mean the real true story about what happened in Iowa. Since there are so many people clamoring for it. Ah, yes, Iowa. It's hard to talk about, the painful memories, the horror. No, it wasn't that bad. I personally acted in a way that I'm not proud of. I suppose, before criticizing people all over the place, I should remember that I haven't, myself, always been the model citizen.

I'm sorry, I just feel like I'm living in the twilight zone. (Not the show, fuck that, the real one.) I feel like at the last full moon the moon stayed full. Can you imagine how that would feel? The full moon not passing. The full moon forever.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Questions about Problems

I'm kind of wondering if I should go back and continue where I left off with telling the real story of when I lived in Iowa so many years ago, the true story of what happened upon which I based the story I called "The Pool," on which, eventually the movie, "The Pool" was based, kind of. I started telling that story, but then I got caught up in going to the film festival, all that. So I'm trying to decide whether I should get back to it or not, or if that ship has sailed.

Or the train left the station. I'm still working on my novel, "9 Lies," of which "The Pool" is a part. I mean, it's done, but there is still revising to do, and changes to make, before I can finally be confident that I won't want to mess with it anymore two years down the road. As always, I'm faced with a few difficult questions, and some hard decisions. Also, the task of writing a synopsis. Tell your kids, if you learn one thing, (besides computer shit), learn how to write a synopsis. Everything else will fall into place.

More on this, all of this, as I get increasingly afflicted with February/March disease.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Rage At Dawn

Back in Milwaukee, but except for seeing my cat, Louis, I'm not exactly thrilled about it. It's cold here, and not just the weather, it's the attitudes of the people. I find that the Midwest is the least friendly place I've lived. People seem scared and suspicious of each other. I know that the film festival is an artificial environment, but it was nice for a few days, going to a movie and having the person sitting next to you start up a conversation.

I'll have to go back and look at my notes to see if there's anything else I want to write about. I've been too busy trying to spit phlegm into appropriate receptacles to get much else done. Here is something from my notebook yesterday:

I'm at the BSP (Brady Street Pharmacy), it's two degrees outside-- I actually feel good today-- felt like shit the last two days. I'm not sure if I don't feel better at high altitudes-- maybe I should try to move to a high altitude. Or maybe it's just the adjustment-- I got a migraine right after getting there, then no headaches at all, and then I got a migraine right after getting back-- yesterday-- a HUGE migraine-- but I'm not sure I didn't need to "catch up" on sleep, if that's actually possible. I slept a total of ELEVEN hours yesterday!-- (in four sessions)-- an all time record for me!

The first movie everyone was talking about was HOUND DOG, because of the controversy about the young actress in a rape scene. Then it was ZOO, about men having sex with horses, or the other way around. It's always sex, or crime, or perversion, or something twisted or disturbing that you hear people talking about. At least until distributors start buying movies, and then your hear about what "got picked up." To be fair, though, people do ask you what you've seen and how you liked what you’ve seen. There are a lot of movies, it's hard to figure out what to go see, and that's the best way.

The old Italian guys here at BSP are talking about-- movies! So I eavesdrop-- they're arguing about if something was a classic or not-- can't tell what they're talking about-- please don't let it be LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE. I listen for clues-- they argue-- then one of them says, "It was with Randolph Scott." Oh! They're talking about a movie that was made 50 years ago! But next they're talking about horses having sex-- they can't be talking about ZOO, can they? No-- I listen some more-- the conversation is about whether race horses can be artificially inseminated or not-- not whether it's physically possible, but whether it's allowed legally, within the regulations of horse racing.

Now, it's a little later, and they're talking about whether the size of steam tables has changed over the years. I feel at home. I feel much better.

Friday, January 26, 2007

kind of a postscript

It is only several minutes after I wrote what I just wrote. I was trying to beat the clock and hit the "publish" button just before midnight so that it would say Thursday instead of Friday. So I didn't spellcheck or even proofread, and then just hit the publish button at, well, actually, 10:59, thinking that it was almost midnight in the CENTRAL time zone... so I was an hour early. However, it still said Friday, and I didn't get to spellcheck or proofread, so I apologize for all the mistakes!

What am I going to do next?

Spring Break 1980

Every time I go somewhere like this, I mean a place with a lot of people gathered, be it Mardi Gras, the Super Bowl, Indy 500, or Kentucky Derby, or in this case, a film festival, I seem to find myself with a group of people trying to find a place to go as a group and have a quiet moment among the crowds of drunken idiots. Maybe not so quiet, but I presume everyone would like to be able to talk at least, and hear what the other people are saying. It's nice to get out, of course, if you've been at "home" for hours and hours. Anyway, I'm not being critical of the idea, but what always seems to happen is having trouble finding a place where a group larger than four can sit comfortbably, and then when we do find a place, it's too loud to hear anyone talking. I then sit and stare and possibly mediate and space out-- all as kind of a survival technique. We did this tonight, once again, it's so famailiar, it's really pretty funny. But I decided, as I have lately in such situations, to just go home, do something else, and then get up in the morning and start something new. I'm much happier that way.

Main Street in Park City reminds me exactly of Daytona Beach, Spring Break 1980. I say 1980 because that was the last year I went somewhere on spring break, among all the idiots and screaming idiots. I'm one too, or I was back then I guess. I am still, just not screaming quite as loudly. Okay, I'm not screaming at all. Maybe I should scream once in awhile. Maybe that would make some kind of at least different impresson...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

This day or that day

Already several days have gone by without me being able to update this journal, which is too bad because I've forgotten the last couple of days. I saw three movies in one day, which may have been Sunday, which is too many for me to see in one day because they all kind of run together. I'm not going to write any kind of reviews or impressions of any of them because I'm not paid to do that, and there are plenty of people who are, and I find that kind of thing painful to write. Actually, there are plenty of people who AREN'T paid to write that kind of stuff who LOVE to do it anyway, and so there you go.

Yesterday was the first screening of The Pool, which was exciting, it looked good, the first time I've seen it really finished. My attempt to be objective about this movie that my friends made, and I had some hand in as well, has destroyed all possibility for me to be objective about any other films here. One of the things that people regularly ask you here is what you've seen and how you liked what you've seen. Which is fine, and understandable, and I do that too, but it's a bit taxing.

So those are my excuses for not writing about films I've seen. We did have a dinner with a celebrity chef last night at something called Chef Dance. It was at some place with at least four different names, or maybe it was four or five places together. There was high security, we had to get wristbands and show them to eight or nine different security people to finally get in this back room with long tables, and a huge kitchen, lots of cooking going on, waitpeople bringing out one after another courses (with a lot of time in between), and the best part, some real characters hanging around, watching the door, maybe? Or the joint owners? A lot of them looked like character actors in the parts of restaurant owners, bouncers, hit men, etc. Now I'm thinking that maybe they WERE actors, kind of there auditioning, waiting to be discovered. It might work, too. If I was looking for some actor to play a Russian Italian gangster who might beat the shit out of someone, I would have approached one of these guys.

Okay, more later, I hope. I mean more on this day, which was yesterday, if I get the chance, and this day, which is this day, doesn't get in the way.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Saturday (I think)

I'm at the Eating Establishment for breakfast--this place is exactly the same! That's kind of comforting. I just beat the crowds--now they're piled up in the vestabule, waiting for a table. I'm the only asshole by myself here--though I'm sure not the only asshole! I order an omelette-- and then, attempt, it's worth a try-- when I decline the wheat toast I ask for extra potatoes. They might say no, but at least that tells them that I'm not some Atkins Diet freak. The waiter says "sure" -- then he also brings me an extra bowl of fruit!-- which is really nice of him-- plus the potatoes! There are too many potatoes-- a massive heap-- I try to eat them all, along with the entire pot of watery golden west coffee (Hunter Thompson described some coffee that way once, so I always thnk of that when I get those copper colored plastic thermal pots they leave on your table).

Yesterday Chris, Kate and I went to the HQ to get lanyairds and shit-- it's at the Marriott that used to be the Olympia Park (or some similar name). Crispen Glover is in the lobby, with a small crowd around him. Did I overhear that Johnny Rebel might be making a surprise musical apperarnce? We can only hope my ears were deceiving me. We go upstairs and get the lanyairds and shit. Doing much the same thing is Mike Bonanno, one of the illustrious "Yes Men" who I first met at this same spot (well this town, and film festival) 11 years ago. Then later I see, at Albertson's, James Westby, a filmmaker from Portland who I haven't seen in like eight years-- he recognized me, said "hi"-- He's made a couple of films since I saw him last. I was auditioning for a small part in one of his films-- but the guy who played Les Nessman on WKRP in Cincinatti got the part!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

On The Plane

Some people love flying, and with all due respect, I'm not one of them. I could elaborate, but there are people who have described their distaste for flying with much more flowery language than I have at my command. And I imagine there are even people who actually hate the ACT of flying more than I do, but they make strong prescription drugs for those individuals. One nice thing, though, there are actually PEANUTS like in the old days. There were a lot of years when it was either tiny pretzels or wheat covered peanuts. Today there is a choice: it sounded like they said, "Some chips, peanuts, bit-off cookies, cream cheese with chives, or crackers." I assume that you can't get the chives (a vegetable!) without the cream cheese or viceversa, but what would you put it on? Crackers is a separate choice, which I don't really consider, since I'm not a fucking parrot. "Some chips" sounds kind of left-over, as does "bit off cookies," even more left-over. So peanuts-- they gave me two bags-- and they're easy to open-- so you don't have to struggle with it, peanuts flying all over. I open the bag, pour them out-- four peanuts. I open the second bag-- not much better-- five peanuts. That makes nine. Okay, I'm exaggerating a little bit-- maybe there were like 14 peanuts altogether.

Up in first class, behind a why-bother curtain that looks like one of the flight attendants is hanging her nylons to dry, do they really have it any better? I bet not really-- no smoked salmon-- probably an individually wrapped Famous Amos cookie and a "mile-high mojito." You always think the rich people have it better, but really they don't, not much. But they're not going to tell you that. They're too busy trying to convince themselves.

Friday, January 19, 2007

More You're NO Help

It's my birthday right now, but no one knows it or they might have humored my latest suggestion at least a little but. It might have required a bit of additional shooting, and I fully realize that at this late date that's a tall order, but we dwell here on the edge do we not? That was my exact question... and was met with blank stares.

Anyway, my idea was to end the film with some kind of an dance number, maybe a dance contest in which the Indian youth comes to the United States, travels across the country, and gets on one of those new TV shows that are like talent shows. I'll admit, I haven't actually seen one, but I can imagine that they might be like the old "Little Rascals" show. Am I wrong?

So, against all odds, he wins the contest, and it's pretty heartwarming and also funny. But then, because we still want to have a message, you know, other than, all you have to do is believe in yourself and all that, the Indian youth gets mixed up somehow with a battalion of soldiers being shipped out to Iraq. Laughter, tears, horror, vomit, Let's go!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Just Trying to Help Out

Everything's been pretty hectic, as you might imagine--or maybe you don't imagine--I mean, I guess I wouldn't if I wasn't here--I'd prefer to imagine tranquility, harmony, and quiet. Anyway, everything is hectic. I'm not much help, having no technical skills whatsoever. Did I already say that?

Well, okay, it's the last chance for last minute changes, what do they call that? Eleventh hour? Something like that. It's time to question EVERYTHING, every decision that made perfect sense three months ago now seems like it was made by a TOTALLY INSANE person! Who was this insane person who made these decisions? Who hired a RUMMY as captain of this ship?

I'm talking about the movie, The Pool. We're leaving for Sundance Film Festival in a couple of days. A couple of us. Others coming later. Anyway, my last minute suggestion was CHANGE THE BEGINNING of the film! Open with Venkatesh, the main character, lying facedown in the pool, riddled with bullet holes. But get this, he's doing a VOICE-OVER. He's narrating the story from the dead position. How did he get there? It’s a grand mystery!

Well, needless to say, my suggestion was met with all manner of derisive comments. I can understand it's not really in the SPIRIT of the film, plus would be hard to pull off (requiring re-shoots, and an entire narration track), but I thought being pelted with OBJECTS was a little harsh. I'm just trying to "take it to another level" after all. Give me a break!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

More Truth

Anyway, so in Iowa City, where this story starts, the name thing got REALLY complicated. Besides the name of my closest (male) friend, whose name was Chris (the same name as my co-worker), I met a young filmmaker named Chris, though we’ll get to him later. I used to frequent a restaurant called Hamburg Inn #2, which you can tell is a REAL restaurant name, because who would ever call something by that name, especially if you never ate hamburgers there? Also, there was no Hamburg Inn #1. Okay, I admit to having frequented the place not for the bad coffee or average breakfasts, but because I was infatuated with a waitress. This is hard for me to admit in the days, now, that I no longer find my myself infatuated by waitresses, but maybe the younger (male) readers of this journal could find themselves sympathetic with such folly. SO where this gets particularly complicated is when I found out the waitress’s name (they didn’t wear name tags, customers referred to her by name CONSTANTLY) was, yes, Chris. It now occurs to me that it would be GREAT if that wasn’t her real name, but a WORK alias which she used, realizing that the fantasizing, infatuated hoards who learned her name and thus recited it in an almost abusive fashion, was a name of a fictional personae, the cute waitress, and she was no more that person than she was the fantasy of that person contrived by the drooling (mostly male) clientele. But, actually, probably, her name WAS Chris.

This might be a good place to relate a medical condition I have, a gluten intolerance called celiac sprue, which I discovered while living in Iowa City and during my tenure at the Hamburg Inn #2. See, my initial infatuation at this place (besides the fascination with ALL non-chain establishments that serve breakfast to customers who can sit down for and drink coffee for excessive time periods) was the very, very large cinnamon rolls, one of the regional Iowa specialties I grew fascinated with while living there. These cinnamon rolls were nearly as big as a dinner plate, and baked fresh and hot were covered with about an inch of thick, glistening, white frosting. To eat a whole one by yourself would be enough to end your day right there, and indeed, many of my days ended in such a fashion. The wheat gluten involved, and in the toast, in such breakfasts didn’t help matters. When the crack medical team at the University of Iowa Hospital discovered my condition after a couple years of very expensive head scratching, I was quickly on the road to a renewed healthy, and a new life, though I kept one foot comfortably in the grave through heavy drinking. The reason I mention this is because it doesn’t exactly make for good fiction when everyone is drinking beer except for you (beer is made from fermented barley, which is wheat, and off limits) or you go out to a pizza place and eat a salad. But this is a true story, so there you go. And the thing about this detail that makes me feel better, thinking about it now, is that I am not entirely sure that I didn’t develop this waitress crush AFTER giving up the cinnamon rolls, and so perhaps I can be forgiven for replacing one infatuation with another.

Now, if this isn’t all complicated enough, the new woman who would soon enter may life went by the name of, yes, Chris. This will come a little later, but I just want to mention it now because it is kind of crazy. I was considering changing THAT name right from the start, but I am just worried that doing so, changing ANY names, would compromise the integrity of the truthfulness of this story. So I’m not going to change it, no matter how much confusion it causes. That just reminded me of something I read awhile ago in the local newspaper from my home town, Sandusky, Ohio. Apparently there is a couple there, a man and a woman, and they are BOTH named Chris Smith. You can imagine when they met, it was funny, something to joke about, and then to their horror and delight to find out they were attracted to each other. It wouldn’t be so weird once you got used to it, but it might be an ongoing source of annoyance anytime you met new people. Anyway, what is even WEIRDER is that the newspaper discovered that there was ANOTHER couple in this SAME TOWN (of only about 30,000) who were also both named CHRIS SMITH! I could barely believe this when I read it, but there is was in the newspaper, one would like to believe they check their facts and all that. So there you go. There are odd coincidences with names all the time, and this is the real world.

Oh, the fact that I suspect that anyone reading this might think I’m making it up, reminded me of another odd occasion involving names that came up during one of my less illustrious jobs over the years, vacuuming the large carpet at the Lerner’s clothing store in the Northland Mall in Columbus, Ohio. I was the only man working in this woman’s clothing chain store, and all the women addressed each other by Miss or Mrs. Or Ms. And then their last name. Miss Smith, and Mrs. Jones, I can’t remember any of the names now, except for two, which were so shocking to me that I was nearly derailed by a surrealistic, hallucinatory distraction every time either of them were referred to. The names of these women were: Miss Liberty and Miss Justice! Now this is a true story (and if you stop to think, why would anyone make up something so idiotic) but EVERY TIME I tell this to anyone, I get the sense that they simply do not believe me. I can see it in their eyes, in their body language. I say, “yeah, and their names were Miss Liberty and Miss Justice,” and the person I’m telling it to is overtaken with a weariness, a sadness even, a disappointment in me for not making up more interesting, more meaningful, and more BELIEVEABLE lies.

But it’s true, Goddmamnit.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Update on Movie

Okay, I was right in the middle of that story, and then the holidays came around, not that I did anything on the holidays, but I was still disrupted. Actually, I tried to clean my kitchen over the holidays, but I only got as far as moving all the pots and pans and shit into the bedroom so I could clean. I didn't get around to cleaning, and now the pots and pans and shit are in the bedroom.

Actually, we just kept right on working on the movie, The Pool, over the holidays. Well, actually, my co-workers kept working on it while I attempted to clean my office. I got everything off the shelves and onto the floor, where I've been tripping over it for days now, but the project stalled out due to my kitchen cleaning project (see above). As soon as they (my co-workers) would get a new edit of the movie done, we'd wait until nightfall and then watch it in our state-of-the-art screening facility.

The reason we wait for night is because we have to wait for all the other offices close up for the day and go home (this wasn't an issue over the holidays, by the way) because there are women working in the other offices and it might inconvenience them not to be able to use the women's bathroom. Yes, we use the lady's lounge as our screening room. That is because it's the most movie theater-like room in the building. When they remodeled this building, they went all out on the gal's toilet—it's like one of those old-fashioned lounges, with lots of mirrors and couches and a big white wall that we project the movie on. We move a few more couches in, and really, it's pretty nice. For some reason they didn't do much to the men's—it's pretty much like one of those at a filling station where the door is around back—it's always cold, it's small, and there always seems to be water dripping and a sewer gas smell. They clean it every day, though, that being the big difference from a filling station. Oh, and I realize there is one woman, Kate, working in our office, but during screenings she uses the bathroom before we set up the projector, and then gives us a hard time about the sorry state of the men's—like it's our fault or something.

The movie was pretty much finished being edited back in September, but we're now watching for the fine tuning, the little things that, if you know anything about editing, or movies, or art, or anything, you know that these little things are crucial—they are pretty much what makes the difference between a masterpiece and a floating turd. Watching the movie in the restroom causes us to keep turds on our minds, as in, “pay attention to these small details or else.” I mean, it's not going to be a turd no matter what we do at this point, but we want it to be the best it can be. I mean, my co-workers do, even more than me. I want to get my office cleaned up before I trip over anything else. Fortunately, it's a group effort! The film, I mean—I mean fortunately it's not just me, because I kind of have the habit of leaving things on the floor where everyone trips over them.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Little Background

I was living in Iowa City, where I broke up with my girlfriend. We were still friends, but no longer living together. I had to move into a crummy little place on the outskirts of town, near the highway, that looked like a cheap motel but rented by the month. I worked at a telemarketing company part-time and made barely enough money to get by—well, not at all enough. I was borrowing more and more money on credit cards. This was the start of the time when the more you borrowed on your credit card, the more credit they would give you and the more new credit cards they would offer. And indeed, the telemarketing place where I worked was in that very business, soliciting for large banks, offering credit cards to people over the phone. I realized then, seeing who got credit cards and who didn't, that all you had to do is tell them you were making $40,000 a year and they would approve your new card.

So I was kind of starting a new life there, though what I suppose I should have done was move out of town. But I wasn’t ready to move yet. I was drinking a lot and felt kind of lost. The summer was the hottest one I can remember, along with heavy rains. Every morning it would rain and then stop and the sun would come out and it would quickly heat up, causing steam to rise from the wet ground. There always seemed to be a haze in the air, and that, together with my heavy drinking, gave the time a soft-focus, magical quality, or sometimes a nightmarish quality, depending on the cards dealt to me that day by my advancing alcoholism. A beautiful, mystical world filled with love and hope and possibility on Monday, followed by a crushing depressing, bugs crawling on my skin, the roots of my hair growing inward, choking my brain, on Tuesday.

The weeks were long and short, but heat and the rain seemed eternal. By Friday or Saturday I would allow myself a breakfast at the Hamburg Inn #2 where I had a crush on a waitress, I’m embarrassed to say now. That is a world that I've long since left behind, the having a crush on the waitress at the diner world. Or maybe that’s what I’m embarrassed to admit—being over that. OR sad to realize. It’s over, it’s all over. But, really, when I look back on that time, I wonder how much of that I really felt, and how much was a lie I was telling myself. I was manufacturing a crush to fill a void. That was all I was doing. Maybe it’s not so different than the fantasy about the movie star. You don’t REALLY think anything will come of it, or that there is a chance in HELL of even having a cup of coffee or even a genuine exchange of niceties with the person. Of course I knew this at the time, as well, right? I knew that it wasn’t a real crush, it was a fictional world, myself as a story—not necessarily to make a happy ending—more, just as a desperate attempt to imagine a world worth living in. But I knew the difference, right? Of course I knew the difference between my manufactured crush and the real world of love and obsession. I may not have known if the bugs crawling on my skin were real or not, but I think I knew the difference between fantasy and real love.

Okay, then came the event that really shaped my life during this time period. I was trying to cut down on drinking, and so I started running, even though the heat was ungodly. I measured out some courses through the suburbs and tried to get out early, just after the rain stopped, for a run. It was on one of these early morning, nearly delirious from a hangover and the heat, runs—through the kind of magical, misty morning suburbs—from the top of a hill with a romantic, idealized vista—that I saw the pool.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


If I had the know-how to add a lightning bolt next to that TCB, I would, but I don't. That means Takin' Care of Business in a Flash, to those of you who aren't familiar with "The King." We stopped at several service stations on the way back from Chicago looking for TCB lightning bolt key-chains for our new shipping and receiving company, but we were unable to find anything remotely Elvis-oriented other than those cheesy sunglasses. In an extended moment of temporary insanity due to the stress induced by the tense situation at customs, we were seriously considering starting a new side business. It felt good to be truck-driving, moving guys with precious cargo. Especially on the legal side of the law, with nothing to hide. The waitress at "The Sugar Bowl" joked with us like any good Midwestern working guys, and the guy at the airport tried to show off his forklift handling skills by loading the film into the back of the van all at once. But we were like, "safety first," and put it in by hand. Countless metal boxes, a thousand pounds of film. We opened them up, and checked off the check list, and then into traffic, to the secret editing location. I tried to get my coworkers to let me off for some X-mas shopping on Michigan Avenue, but fortunately they would have none of that. I probably wouldn't have been able to find the key-chains at Neiman Marcus or Saks Fifth Ave anyway.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A note on the use of NAMES in this text

The problem with using people’s real names is that it can get confusing, you can get them mixed up, and they are hard to remember, because in the real world sometimes two people close to each other have the same name—especially in the case of first names—but sometimes the same first and last name as well. Like, for instance, my closest (male) friend, in Iowa City, at the time of the beginning of this story, has the same first and last name as a current co-worker, who is the person I currently see more than anyone else. Am I supposed to change one, or both, of those names to make it easier to read? Am a supposed to change names like: Mark, Bill, John, Susan, Linda, and Cathy to names like Scooter, Biff, and Wanda so that they are easier to remember? I guess if this was fiction, I would definitely do that. But this is a journal, a diary, and if they pay me enough, a memoir—so the names, sorry!—have to stay the same. The names have NOT been changed, no one is innocent or protected, but I’m not including last names, so the reader will just have to fill those in. While it might make it a bit harder to read, it’ll make it a lot easier to type.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Another Note from The Publisher

This journal is for informational purposes only. We will attempt to bring you updates on the status of the movie "The Pool," and in conjunction with the website (see links) and other websites (see links) create both a wealth of information and an interesting diversion for filmgoers, friends, and family. The fictional character "Randy" has been created to give the ongoing discussions more of a personal and human feeling, but the reader should in no way infer that there is any truth whatsoever to “his” statements and the relation of “his” adventures.

We also want to make clear that this is not a 9 to 5, Monday thru Friday venture, and there were people here working, if not around the clock, very late, on this last weekend. One needs no more evidence than the disappearance of a dozen El Rey bean and cheese tamales and two full bags of El Rey lemon tortilla chips to know that the office did not sit empty except for the cats.

Friday, December 8, 2006


Though there are no weekends here. Every day is another Sunday. At one point this week there were about eleven of us sitting around the office discussing just how Chris and Kate should send that film from India back here to be edited. Craig’s List. By camel. UPS. Just send the parts we need. DSL. Edit it there. Use a private courier. A private jet. That big-ass Russian plane they flew the Calatrava over in. Or, was that Russian? Someone call that Cudahy guy! Smuggle it with illegal aliens. Hire people to duct tape it to their chests. Portion it out, put it in condoms, and up the butt. Or swallow it. In a fake heal. Wait! It's not illegal, you're off on the wrong tangent. Send Indian guys with it here. Send Wisconsinite's over there. Meet half-way, perhaps.

All of the arguing and hubbub and speculation reminded me of this song called "The Experts" by Fuzzhead on their CD "I saw the best minds of my generation ROCK." It sounds like the tape kept running in the studio while a bunch of guys argued about how to best redesign and soundproof their recording area. It's classic. The situation here was classic as well. Why no one is making a documentary can only be attributed to that ole documentary burnout that has afflicted us all.

Thursday, December 7, 2006


There is chaos in the office, with everyone scrambling to do this and that, while using whippets and this and that, and trying to keep a good attitude, and the happy-go-lucky atmosphere that has served us thus far. I was wondering if I could change the name of this ONLINE JOURNAL, which is the name on the top of the page, the title... I did some experiments, and yes, I found out I COULD change it (I'm not sure, entirely, that I want to call it 9 lies.) My tests (in changing the title) were successful, which led me to say to myself, "Yes I can." Which gave me the idea of changing the name to YES I CAN. I have done this, but I may change it back.

Meanwhile, chaos in the office. The film (the actual, physical FILM) of "The Pool" is in India and needs to find its way back here to be edited, so that it's done in time to show at the Sundance Film Festival in January. Chris and Kate are in Bombay now, trying to figure out how to send the film back. So far, all possibilities are impossible. It is either too slow, or far too expensive. Everyone here is running around, looking up possibilities on the internet, and speculating. There is a lot of speculation. There is a lot of cheese being eaten, from The Netherlands, and coffee, and El Rey chips. No whippets, actually, though we are getting desperate for answers and diversions.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Publisher’s Note: Disclaimer

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author(s)'s imagination(s) or are used in an entirely fictional way, and are not meant to bear any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, locals, or institutions. Any resemblance or similarity of this work to actual things in the world is entirely coincidental.