A million years ago, I was in the worst-ever-mounted production of Arthur Miller’s allegory of McCarthyism, The Crucible. We knew we were horrible. All of us. It hung over the production like a fog or nerve gas. At the end of our final rehearsal before opening night, the entire cast & crew gathered on stage for notes. The exhausted, defeated director ambled quietly down from the back of the house and looked at each of us in turn. For a moment of eternity, he stared at us. When he finally spoke, it was quiet, slow, and carefully enunciated.

“Act. Better.”

He walked out the nearest exit, and for the duration of the run, we never saw him again.

I was reminded of this story several times while casting Cowboys & Engines this week. We saw a handful of women for our female lead who were outstanding, and one or two for our male lead. Most of the rest were patently mediocre. And then there were the real standouts. The actors so bad we literally had to fight not to laugh at them. The actors I wanted to send flying from the room after 8 seconds (like a rodeo cowboy) but let finish out of politeness. The actors who were so belligerent before they started reading I already knew I hated them. The actors who had been kind enough to completely rewrite the script before coming in.

A few were truly notable. One man came in to read for a different character than I’d called him for, and did an entire, painfully slow, overacted death scene standing in the middle of the room, staring at the ceiling. Another turned almost physically into Snidely Whiplash when we asked him to read the villain. Then there was the Frenchman who has apparently just started acting despite the fact he really doesn’t speak English. His language skills were so bad, he couldn’t even pronounce the French words in an English script. Like “battalion.” And let us not forget our tall, manly Russian girl who plainly thought the entire enterprise — herself included — was utterly ludicrous.

To complete the quote in the title, we have a saying in porn: “If we can’t have good acting, we’ll have a LOT of acting!”

Casting sessions aside, things are moving behind the scenes. The project is beginning to take on a life of its own, and has started to feel like something that’s just going to get bigger and bigger, in a good way.

In the non-C&E world, Russia is happening. We have confirmed plane tickets and hotel rooms, which usually means the trigger has actually been pulled. This will be my 13th country, which is pretty exciting.

I was supposed to see Blue last night, but she wasn’t feeling well. However, I got a serendipitous invitation to come over from XJN, which led to an awesome, and surprisingly violent, evening. For those who have asked, have I still got a girl I can’t have stuck in my head? Yes. Two of them, actually. However, I’m working through both of them (in completely opposite ways, but that’s a blog I will never write unto itself).

Today is more editing and budgeting, tomorrow I’m shooting for a web series I’m in, Monday & Tuesday more casting, Wednesday meetings… ad infinitum, ad naseum. Really, I have so much to do for so many projects my head is spinning. I shouldn’t be whoring around at all. The problem is, when I’m motivated, I’m horny, and I’m feeling extremely motivated. Catch 22.

I’m sure there are worse problems I could have.

Your Thought For the Day

First off, welcome to my newly-redesigned blog. Hope you like it, ’cause I did it myself. Well, me and a fresh install of Artisteer.

Vega’s been out of town (way out of town) for a while, now, so things are quiet on that front.

Blue came over Wednesday night. We had an amazing time — as we always do — and I finally sent her home around 2:30am. During the course of the evening, we looked up the origin of the phrase roman à clef, decided I need a memory foam mattress and realized I need to take her to the breathtakingly strange and awesome Museum of Jurassic Technology. It was a delicious evening. And I needed it, as this week has been intensely bittersweet.

On Monday, I got word from a company I’ve done lots of work with that I’m going to be relegated to directing the shittiest, low-budget features you can possibly do and still complete a movie. It was a real slap in the face. The kick in the balls was swallowing my pride and taking it with a smile because I’m in constant, dire financial straits and can’t afford the luxuries of ego, self-esteem or convictions. Still, I can’t help but wonder how many fucking awards you have to win…

I made the mistake of trying to vent to the wrong friend, and was utterly shut down. That was fun. Luckily, a different friend was there to rant right alongside me several hours later, and I was able to laugh it off the next day. Y’know, in a bitter, dying-on-the-inside kinda way.


Speaking of funny, while I was tidying up my place before Blue’s arrival, it struck me that I’ve decorated with a lot of broken clocks. I contemplated for a moment, then this struck me:

I like surrounding myself with broken clocks. They give me the illusion that I can stop time.”

Of course, that’s what this blog is. All writing, really, is just an exercise in freezing a moment of time. Writing is photography for the mind.

On the upside, I’ve added several scenes to Cowboys & Engines, to flesh out the story and the world, and I’m really happy with what it’s become. I’m getting to that stage where I wake up thinking about it, and it runs as a subroutine in the back of my brain all day long. I’m excited about this like I haven’t been in years. I sent the script out to several people whose opinions I value, and the response has been overwhelming. If we can pull this off, it’s going to really shine.

Had a great meeting with Satine Phoenix, who is going to do some of our character design for the piece. Got everyone on the crew started on their own projects, and things are moving along.

Last night, I got together with Amber Rayne at a downtown ramen place that I believe K & I discovered and introduced to the porn community, by and large. Now it’s a common spot for the DTLA porn crowd. Red goes there all the time, and while I was waiting for Amber to show, Kimberly Kane, her boyfriend Igor, and Nate Liquor arrived.

Amber had actually already done some rough sketches based on the script, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with.

Today, I have to make the Grand Circle Tour into the Valley of Timesuck, then come home and pound out what promises to be the worst parody script I’ve ever set hand to. I mean bad. Should take three hours to write.

I’ll post some choice bits of dialogue. When I’m done, it’s back to work on C&E… because I can’t stop thinking about it, and that’s a miraculous thing.

I got up at 5 am Friday morning to head to Comic-Con before traffic got horrendous. My plan was to get to San Diego, find parking, grab breakfast and have time to prowl the exhibit hall for most of the day. And it worked. The drive was relatively painless, and I only had to wait in line for half an hour to get a breakfast sandwich at Subway.

I should interject here that I am one of those people who thinks Comic-Con has completely outgrown its fishbowl, and continuing to have it in San Diego is a disservice to the fans it claims to cater to. Of course, having to wait 45 minutes to pay $19 for a cheeseburger will do that to you… but that’s a blog for another day.

The fact is, I’m not a very good geek. I don’t care about meeting comic book writers or artists. I’m unconcerned with how the LGBT community is portrayed in genre fiction. I don’t want to know how to cosplay any Buffy characters. During a normal SDCC trip, I spend the majority of my time prowling the exhibit hall anyway. I just don’t have the patience to wait for hours to get into the ballroom or hall H to see 5 minutes of a film that isn’t coming out for a year, or listen to Shane Black answering questions only a fan would ask (i.e., retarded ones). Watching all this going on around me, I decided Comic-Con is just Burning Man for people who read books.

I would have skipped it completely, but this year I had two reasons for going. The first was to make face-to-face contact with as many steampunk craftspeople as possible to source props and costumes for the short I keep mentioning, and in that regard, I was very successful. The second was to attend the screening of Natural 20, a short made by my friends John & Brusta, which was screening in the SDCC Film Festival. That went very well, and they won best humor short.

Not the worst Black Widow at Comic-Con. By far.

As it happened, this was my first time being at SDCC by myself, and it was a fairly lonely experience. I would see something cool or interesting, and had no one to discuss it. Two years ago, Comic-Con was all unfortunate mother/daughter Silk Spectre teams, which Mischief & I mocked mercilessly. Last year, it was bad Baronesses. This year was a plethora of embarrassing Black Widows and Harley Quinns, and I couldn’t share the pain. Tweeting “Huh. Batman is 5’2″ and fat. Who knew?” just isn’t the same thing as getting to say it in the moment.

Since I had a spare professional guest badge, I had originally planned for D to come down with me for the day, but our mutual poor communication skills fucked it up. Then, when she realized I was there alone, Vega began threatening to come down and join me which wasn’t going to happen. Again, too high-maintenance for Comic-Con, and I wasn’t about to add that stress. So we text-fought over that for a few hours while I walked the halls.

Alice & 50 Baht arrived that night. I met them for dinner after the Natural 20 screening, gave them my badges so they could spend Saturday & Sunday at the con, and headed home.

I spent most of the weekend editing a piece I shot for a pay-per-view channel, although I did get talked into going to Vega’s house Sunday night… See this conversation to figure out how that happened. We didn’t end up making a screening of Savages, so Vega got to sit through Prometheus, which she hadn’t seen, with a butt plug about the size of a coke can stuffed in her. Scary movies get her excited anyway; as a result, I don’t think she could even tell you what happened in the movie.

When I got up to leave around 3 am, she kept her promise and didn’t say a word about me staying. Tonight, I turned down a cooked meal to work, and I don’t know when I have a free night to see her again. I have plans Wednesday, I’m doing the Dark Knight marathon Thursday, seeing Blue Friday, and covering the Urban X Awards Saturday.

In the meantime, I had several ideas for Cowboys & Engines on the drive to SD. The more progress we make, the more excited I get about this thing.

Even the Venn diagrams wanna rub it in…


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A slap is just a kiss with an exclamation point. — Bryn Pryor