How I Grew Up to Be the Monarch

After my mother dropped me off at the new house, I don’t know that I ever saw her again.

I had everything I needed. The house was tall, well built, surrounded by similarly tall, well built houses. I knew that if I ran out of anything here, I could leave, journey over to the neighbouring homes and there would be more.

I almost ate myself out of house and home. I was voracious, like I was eating to fill a part of me that was missing. Only now do I have an idea of what that missing part might be.

Monarch Crown
My Monarch’s Crown: A newly emerged monarch that I raised from a caterpillar, decided to inflate its wings here before starting for Mexico. From a few years ago.

I loved it so fearfully. Despite the beauty of my home – floor space galore, fresh air, incredible views – it was filled with poison. Poison that could kill people many times my size. I still hid from them; I didn’t know that I had taken the poison into me. I had the house. It was the perfect place to hide; I felt completely safe there. Like I said, I didn’t know it was poison that kept it standing.

I’m not much for blaming, I don’t think. Despite being a hairless child in a house full of poison, it’s not my parents’ fault. If it is, it’s not like they had a choice. You go about your day-to-day business and it doesn’t leave much brain power to observe the big picture. You start your kids off as best you can – like, I assume, their parents did before them. Like a rocket, you give it fuel and a direction, and once it launches, there’s not much you can do. Parenthood is like launching a rocket from the rocket you’re in. While millions of other rockets are flying and launching their own rockets all around you.

That analogy seems very singular. I don’t think I ever met my dad. I know what my mom did for me. I know what my dad tried not to do for me. I guess he thought not being there was the best thing he could do.

They went on long trips. They invited me to go south, to places very warm. They had been all over. They weren’t afraid to travel. Like I was. Am. I imagine them, their thoughts; they feel safe when they aren’t home. That must be why.

How do I know all this? They left me pictures. Many, many pictures. Pictures that I can see, even when I’m not looking at them. Of them. Of the places they’ve been. Of places I could go too, if I become so inclined.

There’s one picture they didn’t give me. It’s mine. A picture of a new home.

It’s very different than this house. It’s much smaller, a rental really. A bachelor pad, although I’m not thinking of getting married or have even considered what sex I am. And darker. I wouldn’t have the view any more, but it’s okay, I’ve been wanting difference lately. It will still be my home. It will still be safe. More safe. Nobody will accidentally drop by. I’m not planning on telling my mother where it is.

It’ll be quieter. No more yelling coming through the walls, making me hide. My father gave me vigilance. In this new house, I won’t have room for it.

It won’t be permanent, the new place. I’ll grow. That’s what people call it, right? Working on yourself. Growing. A change of location is certainly traumatic enough to affect further change. Or so the pictures tell me.

Everything from other people is just pictures. Flat ideas with a bit of colour. We just give pictures to one another. The only thing that isn’t a picture are the moments of life. They have dimensions. They are multi-sensual.

I think moving to the new place is what I should do.

I don’t know why I think that.

Since it’s so small, I can’t take anything from here to there.

I’ll only take one thing. After all, my mother must have wanted me to have it. She picked this house.

So it’ll just be me and my poison.

And I’ll work on myself. I can see big change ahead of me. It’s just pictures now. But in them I look larger. Blazing. Like I don’t care who sees me.  Ha! I don’t even know how I’ll fit in the new place.

Maybe I’ll feel like traveling. Mom and Dad looked happy in the pictures from Mexico.

Writing in Chains and Cages

Here’s my latest movie script, “The Tickville Vampire”.

img_0943

Actually, this is only Act II.

In my past three forays into screenwriting, I charged headlong with a premise gripped tightly in my hands and a warrior’s passion ka-bobbing my heart. The results were mixed. I loved some of the scenes, some of the characters the coolest ever birthed, some of the story-lines had more twists than a pack of Twizzlers, but I worried that the overall thrust of my beasts might have been dispersed.

This time: more prep.

And yes, I fret that the spirit of my critters may now be held down by chains. Their bite blunted behind bars. But that’s a battle for the days of scene writing and dialogue creation.

Already, going OG with all this scene arrangement on cards has me feeling a little smarter, a tad more prepared and I can see I have a few jack-in-the-boxes that the audience won’t have ever seen on a screen before.

And they’ll love me for it.

So ‘scuse me while I forge a few more iron links and steel bars.

Save

Save

Take It to the Grave

It was fine to go looking.
You were free to buy the drinks.
But someone who goes touching
They’ll go home and they will think.

I heard it from your mouth,
But the voice was your dad’s.
Answer to your brother,
For problems, he did have.

So:

Do I take it
to the grave, dad?
Do I take it
to the grave?
How can she even know, dad,
If I take it
to the grave?

War was done, boat docked,
Left so fast, shoes burned fire.
Headed home, married your mom,
In love with a heart for hire.

Got back home and had my life.
Fifty years it burned ‘nside.
Till one day, I told her all.
Next morning, I woke, she died.

So:

You should take it
to the grave, son.
You should take it
to the grave.
Your wife will never know, son,
If you take it
to the grave.

You wander to our bed,
Sleep easy as the leaves.
Put pillow to your head,
You clutch, your rib cage heaves.

While you were gone, missed you.
Called your dad’s, checkin’ in.
You weren’t there, hadn’t b’n there
Hadn’t been, hadn’t been.

So:

What did you take
To the grave, dear?
What did you take
To the grave?
My heart will never know, love
Since you took it
To the grave.

(Repeat last chorus)


“Laughing Kookaburra Gravestone” by Toby Hudson

Auditions and Improvisation, Part Duh

Can an audition be both a failure and a success?

Sure.

You can be all prosaic and sentimental and say, “Well, I didn’t get the part, but I felt really good about the work I did.” *barf*

Or “I was sick and I had to work and I didn’t get the lines down, but I still went and did my best. *gag*

Or at the very least, “Wow, that stank, but I added to my auditioning experiences and it’ll help me down the road.” *sigh*

Yep, all valid, if a little optimistic and flighty for me. (I’m a negative son-of-a-bitch when things aren’t going my way. You’ll get used to it.*)

One of my auditions threw a whole new twist on this idea of success within failure.

Warehouse13_logo

It was for a show called “Warehouse 13”. My character was either a principle part or a guest star. He was a slightly over-the-top know-it-all with a side of muscle. The audition was a scene in which he slimily comes on to the lead female.

Ooookay, let me rephrase that: he makes a verbal attempt to pick her up.

No, I didn’t get the role. That, obviously, is the failure part.

Since he was rather over-the-top, it inspired me to play loosey-goosey with some of the lines. The one bit I remember doing was taking the line:

You can call me Stan.

And then some kind of direction to smile cheesily or waggle my eyebrows at her. I changed it to:

You can call me… any time  you want.

And then mimed handing her a card with my phone number.

I also used my Dusty Rhodes lisp to further emphasize his rural towniness. **

The audition went gangbusters. Yes! Me, Mr. Depressingly-Cynical-on-a-Good-Day is saying it went well. Maybe what happened later has coloured it so rosily.

No, I didn’t get the role. That, obviously, is the failure part.

The success actually happened a few months later when Warehouse 13 was starting its next season. They asked my agent if I would play the part of the chauffeur to one of the leads, played by CCH Pounder, or “Mrs. Frederic”.

WH-13-S02x11-20.Mrs_.-Frederick-neurocap
CCH Pounder’s reaction to her new chauffeur.

Continue reading Auditions and Improvisation, Part Duh

I Constantly Script Everyday Interactions

INT. COFFEE SHOP – DAY

The intensity on THEO and ADDY’s faces doesn’t match the bright friendliness of the coffee shop they’re sitting in. Their coffees are half gone.

Something clearly has set Addy off.

ADDY
So, what are you trying…
what did you want from… this?

THEO
What? Having coffee? Nothing.
Just… nothing.

Addy stares at him.

Theo’s shoulders fall. He looks at their corpses of a muffin and a nanaimo bar.

Finally, he looks back to Addy.

THEO (CONT’D)
I’m trying to seduce you.

Addy shakes her head. She knew it. Starts to gather her purse and coffee.

THEO (CONT’D)
Not in a sexual way, or even romantically.
Maybe ‘seduce’ is the wrong word.
Is there a word for seducing somebody into
becoming a friend?

(off her look)
It should be organic, I know. Natural.
Like, like at first sight.

When I didn’t hear back from you after my
stupid e-mail where I slid in a mention of
my first marriage and asked you what you’re
favourite monster was, I panicked.

Like, ‘Oh that was too much. Unnatural. Over
the top. She thinks I’m a childish weirdo.’

So I invited you to coffee, masking it in
some imagined business commonality. The
industry. Movie making and scripts. An  old
actor and a young director.

A long pause where she continues to look at him, trying to understand.

THEO (CONT’D)
(looking down at the corpses again)
I don’t know how to do this.

ADDY
Yeah, this isn’t really the usual way.

THEO
(quietly)
Yeah. Guess I’ll have to script it another way.

ADDY
What?

THEO
Nothin’.

CUT TO:

EXT. COFFEE SHOP – DAY

Through the coffee shop window, Theo and Addy say nothing; he looking at the table top and she looking at him.

I Drink to Remember

I drink to remember.

My first little wife was a rusty nail.
Old-fashioned glasses made her eyes so pale.
Too much lemon, squeezed her heart up tight.
I left when she asked, without a fight

I drink to remember.
Over the lips, past the gums,
Wine, ale, lager, rye  and rum…
A whole life bottled up and on the shelf,
Let’s all drink to remember.
Here’s to your health.

Went back home to my red-cap dad,
Hopped up daily in his ice-fishin’ shack.
Pissed down the hole and fish came up
Drunker than my dad hip-deep in his cups.

I drink to remember.
Burns the throat, warms the gut,
Feels like you’ve travelled 12 miles on your butt.
A whole life bottled up on the shelf.
Let’s all drink and remember
What we love about ourself.

MinnehahaLiquorsSign640
Creative Commons/Andrew Filer

Auditions and Improvisation

A week ago, I auditioned for the role of “Drunk Guy” in a show that is executive produced by Norm Hiscock, he of “Brooklyn 99” and “King of the Hill” fame.

This new show is called “People of Earth”, which is a take on how we stereotypically expect aliens to address us. (I think “Yo, you with way too many toes!” or “Hey, you who were nuked by a semi-sentient Cheeto!” is just as likely.) Here’s the show’s premise from the breakdown I received from my agent:

OZZIE is a serious journalist saddled with a dubious assignment. Tapped to write an article about StarCrossed, an alien abduction support group, Ozzie finds himself surrounded by a group of oddballs who swear they’ve had “encounters.” Initially dismissing them, Ozzie gradually learns that he has more in common with these “crazy bastards” than he’d care to admit. Eventually, Ozzie must come to terms with one of two things: 1) He might be experiencing a nervous breakdown, or 2) The small, upstate town of Beacon, New York is about to be invaded by aliens.

“We pay our writer’s a lot of money, so let’s use their words, ok?”

And the character I went for, “Drunk Guy” is about as deep as his name implies:

Male. 30-48 years old. Obnoxious and drunk, he is a regular at the bar. He butts in on Ozzie and Father Doug’s conversation…ACTOR, 3 scenes

I, as Drunk Guy, don’t just “butt in”. Oh no, I make jokes at the expense of Father Doug. Little gem’s like “What ya havin’ Father? Blood of Christ?”

Continue reading Auditions and Improvisation

Sigi Schmid: A Nonsense Story

Art by Dan Hillier

Sometimes I bother to do those infernal “Morning Pages”. It’s an exercise that’s essentially a punishment for calling yourself a writer. Sometimes stuff comes out, sometimes not.

One morning it was this.

Let’s pity the kid named Sigi “Clop” Schmid.

Whose hair was all platinum and looked like a lid.

Sigi was portly, and he was short and red.

He’d rhyme off capitals, off the top of his head.

He knew how to avoid, abscond and capitulate,

But getting some love was the task he did hate.

“It all comes down to that,” Sigi said with a sneer.

“We don’t need food as much as that career.

“It’s not that I disagree or wish it any other,

“But the only love I get is from inside my mother.”

“No you don’t,” cried his mom, doing the wash.

“I haven’t loved you a drop, your heart I’d squash.

“It’s freakish and dominioned,”  she yelled as she hung,

“I saw the MRI!”  and to Sigi that stung.

Continue reading Sigi Schmid: A Nonsense Story

Man-pon Commercial Script

DIK WIX COMMERCIAL #1

1960’s suburbia feel.

INT. MAN CAVE – NIGHT

Suburban men sit around the table for their regular game of poker.

WINNING MAN
Read ’em and weep, ladies! Double 69! Ha!

They moan as the WINNING MAN displays four queens.

AMY’S HUSBAND
(getting up)
More like “read ’em and leak”. I gotta take a whiz!

CUT TO:

INT. HALLWAY – NIGHT

SFX: Toilet flushing.

AMY’S HUSBAND exits the bathroom and heads down the hall to go back to the game.

AMY
(o.s.)
Did somebody forget something?

REVEAL:

INT. TV ROOM – NIGHT

The hallway opens up into the TV ROOM. AMY sits in a big leather Lazy-Boy, rye and coke in a tumbler in one hand, cigar in the other. Smoking jacket and slippers.

AMY’S HUSBAND
What’s that, hun?

Amy points with her cigar toward her husband’s crotch. There’s a darker patch where a couple of tiny drops of wee wee must have soaked through.

AMY’S HUSBAND (CONT’D)
(embarrassed but relieved)
You are a life-saver!
 

AMY
Here, kiddo. I was thinking of you on the way
home from work.

She tosses him a small box. He catches it and holds it up to the side of his face so the camera can catch it and his face in the same shot.

AMY’S HUSBAND
(reading the box)
“Dick Wick”? But this isn’t my usual man-pon!
AMY
That’s right. It’s better!

CUT TO:

INT. MAN CAVE – NIGHT

Back at the game, but this time it’s Amy’s husband who’s raking in the chips. Amy stands behind her lucky man, hand on his shoulder.

LOSING MAN
When you went to the loo, you must have stuck a
horseshoe up your bum!
Amy’s husband reacts as if he’s been caught cheating, but then Amy smiles confidently and says…

AMY
Not even close.
She laughs, and the men join her, even though they can’t possibly know what the joke is.

Dikwix box

Actor, Writer, Curmudgeon