Monday, August 29, 2011

Earthquakes, Part 1

Around the end of June, I dreamed of an earthquake.  It was so violent, it literally shook me out of sleep.  I could've sworn I was lying on a bucking bronco of a bed, and I thought it was strange, because the Shaby Shack is situated on a granite hill that absorbs tremors.  (Totally true.  You all are gonna wanna come see me when the Big One hits.  We'll still be standing.)

I don't usually have intense dreams like that, unless I take a handful of Benedryl to knock out the allergies.  But here I am, gripping the mattress, staring at the ceiling, jumping on Facebook to see if anyone else is posting about a monster tremor.  Did this really happen?  Was it just me?

Turns out it wasn't real.  It was just me.  And it was an unfortunate omen of what was to come.


My Golden Gecko Gymnast movie is gone.  The bright side is that it wasn’t my idea, it probably would’ve hurt so much more if it was.  The other bright side is that it wasn’t because of the work that I did that it died (like if I had turned in a really shitty outline.)  It is, quite honestly, not my fault. 

I went against my better nature, and told people this project was happening, because there was zero reason to think the rug was going to be pulled out from under me.  I had a contract.  I had a payment schedule.  I had notes from my creative exec that I incorporated into a second draft of the outline.  I turned in the outline.  I got paid for the outline.  There were meetings, and emails, and a company with a track record of animal movies, all of which I took as evidence that yes, yes, this is happening, and Amy is On Her Way.

I turned in the outline on August 1st.  On August 4th (sister Agatha’s birthday!), I got an email from the creative exec saying that everything is “sort of on hold.”  The creative exec went on to praise all the work I did, and how impressed she was with how quickly and thoroughly and seemingly effortlessly I was able to incorporate all her notes (that “effortlessly” was basically a 24/7 IV drip of Red Bull)  “I will get you produced one way or another, with this project or another one, so hang in there with me,” Creative Exec says, “I'll be in touch soon!”

Okay.  Okay, no problem.  I’ll just switch gears and go back to rewrite Red Llama, so I have something to work on until Golden Gecko revs back up again.  No problem.  None whatsoever.  I could use the break, really.  I’m not that big of a fan of Geckos.  Sure, I’ll write a gymnastic movie about them, but they’re kinda freaky looking, and I’m much more down with Llamas. 

The following Monday, August 8th, I get another email saying the Gecko movie is officially dead.  Not my fault, it’s a matter of the Company Powers That Be not liking how much this movie is going to cost (I never got an idea of how much that was) versus what they thought their rate of return would be, and pulling the plug before we went any farther.  Much like how Universal has pulled the plug on several projects lately like The Dark Tower, and At The Mountains Of Madness.  The Geckos are apparently too expensive to train or something.  I honestly don’t know, and they wouldn’t tell me.  They just offered copious apologies.

It's basically like, I went walking in the jungle, a Golden Gecko jumped into my lap, I played with it for about a month, it gave me a small check, and ran back into the wild, never to be seen again.

Looking back now, from that Thursday to Monday, I feel a bit like Wile E Coyote, speeding off the cliff and remaining airborne for longer than normal, and in that five seconds before freefall, thinking everything was fine, not realizing the truth of the situation, that there’s about to be a terrifying fall and a painful splat.

In those blissful five seconds, you don’t know anything’s wrong at all.

At all.


(Continued next week.)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Zen Doggie

To be honest, things are not great.  I know, I know, less than a month ago, they were awesome.  And now they are not.  And I have been forbidden to talk about why.  Which is awesome.  So I still have awesome in my life, heh.

Somewhere in my house back home, there is a postcard, or a coffee mug, or a calendar image for the month of June or something, and the motto is "When All Else Fails, Hug Your Teddy." It's not this image here, but along these lines:

And though we're not at the "All Else Is Failing" part, I increasingly find myself going to seek out Pepe the Dalmatian in the garage.  Because he is, most of the time, the most Zen dog I know.

If it's not first thing in the morning, when he wants to play ball, if it's not on a run, when he wants to fly like a bird, Pepe the Dalmatian is downright mellow.  His brother Pembleton is batshit crazy all the time, but Pepe is calm, cool collected.  And I can spend hours stroking his muzzlepouch, and staring into his eyes, and observing the blissful vibes he gives off.  

Everything will be fine.  Everything will be fine.  Everything will be okay.  Please scratch my chest, I can't reach it.  Everything will be fine.

I even got video of it tonight.  Ignore the little clicking crooning noises from behind the camera.  That's me.

But damned if you don't get a tiny sense of the awesomeness that is Pepe Zendoggie toward the end.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Patience, patience, whatever...

There are many things I love my friend Winifred for, but one of the best reasons was that she was the first one to introduce me to the Frantics' sketch "Boot To The Head" when we were in high school.

We were old school, so we just had it on audio tape, but now it's become a rite of passage for various karate clubs and high school drama teams to perform it as well.

This is probably the best one in terms of camera work and skill. Plus you get a slo mo version of Unchained Melody at the end.

One of my favorite quotes of all time, "Ed Gruberman, you must learn patience," "Yeah, yeah, yeah, patience, how long will that take?"


Monday, August 01, 2011

Basil Diva Dog's Turn At Bat

Here’s Basil Diva Dog, the ever aloof older brother who loved to laugh at Ginger Puppy whenever he could. He’s calmed down a lot now.

I would say these are Basil Diva Dog’s twilight years, except that brings to mind the awfully written books and movies. So let’s just say that every day is a Senior Day for Basil Diva Dog. He’s still got a pretty great life. He’s just old. Getting older. And older.

So while last year was the year of Ginger Puppy As Metaphor For You And God, it looks like this year might be Basil Diva Dog’s turn at bat. Let’s see if I can turn it out.

I and my upper body strength will once again be playing the role of God. Basil Diva Dog will be playing the role of Some Of You Some Of The Time, Or Someone You Know, Or Someone You Knew, or Someone You Once Were, Or Someone You Might Be Now And Don’t Wanna Tell Anyone. It’s all good.


This is you, Basil Diva Dog. This is you, and this is you a lot of the time. Sleeping.

I remember, BDD, when I first met you, years and years ago. It wasn’t this house. There wasn’t a youngun named Ginger Puppy running around either. It was just you, and your house, and I entered your life for two and a half weeks and you really weren’t sure about me. I wanted nothing more than to take care of you, to feed you, to pet you, to love you. And you didn’t want any of it. Except food. You were okay with being fed.

You didn’t want my love. You didn’t wanna sit in the living room and watch rom coms either. It’s okay, Notting Hill kinda sucks. I swear I was only watching it for research. Roger Dodger, though. I liked that one.

I would sit in the backyard and work on my storytelling. You would keep your distance, choosing to lie down in a spot that was far enough away for you to still keep tabs on me, but not close enough where I could pet you.

All I wanted to do was love you. I’m such a huge dog person (if I’m playing God, I have to say I love all creatures great and small, but you know what I mean.) I just wanted to make you happy. And what made you happy was me keeping my distance.

After two and a half weeks, your owners came back, I left, and maybe you thought you had gotten rid of me for good. Too bad for you that I got on so well with your owners and this whole idea of dogsitting that I soon became your permanent guardian for when your owners were away.

So I would come back. I would again want to love you and brush your fur and feed you. You again rejected everything but kibble. That was okay.

Changes were afoot. A move to a bigger house. There was that first Thanksgiving in the new house where you would snooze in a patch of sun on the living room rug because the furniture hadn’t gotten there yet (I need to scan that photo in.) The foyer was full of scaffolding that both you and I would have to duck through in order to get upstairs. You got through it quicker than I did. That was okay.

Then you got a sister! You got a sister! Man, you thought you hated me? You hated your sister SO much more. I was only there some of the time. Your sister was there ALL the time, nothing but a bucket o’love to you, and you really would’ve killed her if you could’ve. Instead, you settled for bullying her most days, and humping her other days, to where she’d flee under the desk by my feet for protection. You really were a mean sonofabitch, Basil, you really really were.

And yet I never stopped loving you. You were mean, you were aloof, if I came home and greeted Ginger Puppy before you, then you’d race back outside and not come back in. I’d have to go out there with a flashlight, through underbrush and overgrowth, tripping over loose stones and fossilized poop just to grab you and bring you back in.

But I always went after you. Because I loved you.

I grew to know you better. I know you like your ears rubbed. I know you like your cheekbones scratched. I know you hate tummy rubs (again, a first for me.), I know you hate being picked up and carried anywhere. I know you’re an independent dog, and the only person you show open affection for is your dad. Your first dad, because your first dad bought you before he got married to your other dad.

There was that one day where I wasn’t working, I was eating my lunch, and you came up to me. One look on your face and I KNEW something was wrong. That’s how well I know you, Basil Diva Dog. I scooped you up and off we went to the vet in Pasadena, where your daddies already had the foresight to put me on the family contact card in case of such an emergency. The vet was showing 101 Dalmatians in the lobby, which cracked me up. An hour later, and a diagnosis of severe constipation with a med remedy, and you were somewhat okay. I think you were more pained that you had to come to me for help. You were probably embarrassed that you were all backed up, and there was nobody but me, ME, the one you DON’T LIKE, to help.

But I helped you. I always would help you, Basil Diva Dog. Because I love you.

You have had cases of Nasty Butt. I have had to put you in the tub and clean up your backside. It’s not a picnic. There are fewer things less pleasant than Nasty Butt and the smell of wet fur. Sometimes I can’t eat for the rest of the day.

But I do it for you. Because I love you, Basil Diva Dog. Occasional Nasty Butt and all.

And now here you are. In your senior years. In the month since I last saw you, you have significantly slowed down. If I see you in another month, I’m sure you’ll be slower.

Because you are old, you sometimes have trouble walking. Our walks of years ago, where we’d hike all the way up to the Griffith Park Observatory are long behind us. Last month, I could take you on a ten minute walk. Now, Ginger Puppy and I walk when you’re still sleeping in the morning. You sleep a lot.

You’ll do the standard dog shake, slip and fall down. The wood floors are not your friend anymore. The inside stairs, even without scaffolding of years ago, are no more for you. The outside stairs are sorta okay. I carry you out to the Official Pee Spot Under The Magnolia Tree in the backyard, then leave you alone. Your daddies, currently in Israel, have emailed me to say you can make it back inside on your own, so I leave you alone… but I’ve seen you on them like this… So hesitant. So tentative. But yes, you do make it the rest of the way.

I will carry you up and down this house of stairs. Last year, I carried your much heavier sister after her leg surgeries while you laughed at her. Now I’m carrying you. Your sister isn’t laughing at you, though she has every right to. She’s leaving you alone to do your own thing.

I’ve also watched you stop and look around, kinda like this. I think you forget where you are, that this is your house, that you used to romp through these rooms unabated, full of aloof energy, which I didn’t think was possible until you showed me what it looked like. Now I carry you, showing you the same rooms you used to romp through on your own. I tell you what each room is, we look at all the nice furnishings, we take our time. Maybe you understand. Maybe you don’t.

In the past, when I would hang in the backyard and write, you’d wait until I opened the cabana, so you could go inside and snooze away, far from me. These days, you can’t make it up to that top level. Flora and Fauna showed up on Saturday for pool time. We brought your crate up to the cabana (technically, I carried you under one arm, and held your crate with the other arm, because I am God and I have amazing upper body strength), and got you settled in. You went into your crate and slept for the rest of the afternoon while Flora, Fauna and God had martinis in the pool.

I will carry you around. I will make sure you are included, that you are not left out, even though there are no martinis for you.

You are old now, Basil Diva Dog. You, who used to hate being picked up and being carried around, are now nestling onto the back of my shoulder whenever I pick you up. (this isn’t the greatest picture, it’s a self portrait. It looks like I have no right arm, but then again, I’m GOD! I don’t NEED two arms! HA!) Maybe you feel like you’ve given up. Maybe you feel like there’s no point in resisting. Maybe you simply don’t understand what’s going on. That’s all possible.

But I am here for you, Basil Diva Dog. I was always here for you, even when you didn’t want me. I loved you, even when you didn’t love me. I took care of you, I fed you, I walked you, I washed your Nasty Butt. I watch over you now. I still feed you now. I carry you now. I clean away your eye crusts, I rub your ears, I scratch your cheekbones. You will never want a tummy rub, and I think that’s weird for a dog, but that’s okay. I do all these things for you even though your feelings for me never rose above Bare Tolerance. I love you now.

I loved you then. I love you now.

Maybe you don’t want me. Maybe you do want me. Maybe you do want me and you don’t know how to show it. Maybe you don’t remember who I am. It’s all okay.

I never left you. I will never leave you.

Because I love you, Basil Diva Dog. I really truly do.