a shot at the title VI: still shootin’

At the premier, Pablo, Pee-Wee, and Dick Earnhardt were all decked out in their tuxedos. Kathrine was wearing her Louis Vuttoin gown, smiling and waving to the cameras. Even Dillon made an appearance.

I just threw on a clean shirt and cologne and called it a day.

At the press junket, I was asked “how would you describe this film?”, I said:

“Well it’s got some tits, dick, goblins, and swords. It’s alright I guess.”

We all sat down in our seats. When the title This Tastes Like Ass appeared on the screen, I fell asleep.

Pee-Wee nudged me when the end credits were rolling. The audience was walking out and wouldn’t make eye contact with me.

I went home and cracked open a beer. “Take that Hollywood!” I said. Then went to bed.

The next morning, critics presented their reviews:

“A cinematic experience that can’t be matched. It’s literally impossible,” read the Fort Worth Telegram.

“The filmmakers were clearly drugged out of their minds, but damn it, it works. It’ll make you horny. It’ll make you laugh. It’ll make you depressed to the point of insanity. But there’s something there that transcends the capabilities of human language,” read the Des Moines Register.

The reviews were unanimous: the gratuitous nudity, the unsimulated sex from A-list stars, the excessive violence, the absurd and almost non-existent plot…it was unique in the history of film. Nothing could compare.

When I accepted my Academy Awards (not THOSE Academy Awards) for Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Screenplay, I said:

“All you mother fuckers doubted me. You said I was too old, too stupid, and too ugly to make it in this town. Well now look at me. I’m up here and you’re down there. You’re all sick and pathetic.”

Kathrine received her accolades as well. As producer, she was awarded the Best Picture Oscar (again, not THOSE Oscars). She later succeeded Dick Earnhardt as CEO after his untimely death from viagra poisoning. She became the toast of the town.

But my point was made.

A reporter later came to me and asked, “Now that you’ve conquered Hollywood, what are you going to do now?”

I responded, “Go home and take a shit.”

a shot at the title V: the final round

The dailies started rolling in.

Kathrine and I screened the raw, unedited cut with Dick Earnhardt, CEO of Trainwreck Productions. After the 14 hour version was finished, silence fell over the room.

“Sir, I can explain,” Kathrine said.

“Kathy, please leave the room,” Mr. Earnhardt said.

She pushed her chair away from the table and left in frustration. I sat there eating my crackers.

“Pretty good shit, huh?” I said.

Mr. Earnhardt stood up and paced across the room. He took one shot of whisky. Then another. He sat back down at the table facing me.

“I’ve spent $900 million on this production,” he said. “I’ve given you every possible resource, every possible opportunity to see your vision realized.”

Mr. Earnhardt paused.

“Bob Oglesby was a great man. He’s a legend in this town. He believed in you and your talents. He thought that you were going to save this industry,” he continued.

“Damn,” I said as I munched.

“And Kathy has done everything she can to fuck that up,” Dick concluded.

I dropped my crackers.

“Really?” I asked.

“Son, this is my last hoorah. I’ve made so much money that I could bankrupt this county, and have. I’ve banged every prostitute, male and female, from here to Denver. I’ve done every drug that can be taken. I was popping viagra before it was cool to do so. I haven’t done an honest day’s work in 20 years and hope to never do so again. In short: I do not give a shit.”

“So, what are you telling me?” I asked.

“The board wants me out, they say Kathy is the future. This is her production, but I’m in control of the money. So I am giving you a blank check to complete this film in the way you see fit,” Dick stated.

I sat back in my chair.

“In that case, I need $200 million.”

a shot at the title IV: shooting blanks

When Kathrine arrived on set, she was pissed.

“Why are there elves, knights, zombies, elephants, strippers, piñatas, ghosts, conquistadors, clowns, aliens, hot air balloons, ninjas, and Mel Gibson here? What happened to the Nazi storm troopers and decaying dead bodies? I thought that this was a film about the atrocities of World War II?” she asked.

“We wrote another draft,” I said. “It’s now a fantasy film set in the Middle Ages. I thought Dillon told you.”

“That’s it!” she replied. “I’m pulling the plug on this project.”

“But you already spent $430 million on advertising costs alone. The studio will be pissed.”

“James, you listen here,” Kathrine continued. “Do not go behind my back again. I will put you back on the streets.”

She stormed off. I walked up to Pee-Wee.

“What’s on the schedule for today Pee-Wee?” I asked.

“Today we’re shooting the scene where the hero and villain are jousting to save the princess…with their penises.”

So I grabbed a coffee before I started the morning meeting with the cast and crew. Dillon showed up strung out and agitated.

“I got to talk to you about the script,” he told me.

“What’s up?”

“When the princess says ‘you saved me’, the hero has to blast ropes all over her right then, or else he’s just blowing his wad too soon.”

“Dillon,” I said. “We talked about this. The hero has to blast ropes all over the villain. That’s how he defeats him. Or else the script just doesn’t make sense!”

“Well I can’t direct this film if you’re not giving me the creative freedom to do my job?”

“So are you walking?”

“I’m walking.”

And just like that, Dillon was out of the picture. The cast and crew stood around, waiting for direction.

I looked over to the two male leads.

“Welp, Bill (Shatner) and Chris (Pratt),” (But not THOSE Bill Shatner and Chris Pratt). “Whip them dicks out! We’re behind schedule!”

a shot at the title III: money shot!

“I’m Dillon J Dudenburg. I’ve directed softcore porn. I’ve directed hardcore porn. I’ve also directed episodes of Dharma and Greg. I’ve studied under David A. Pryor, Andy Sidaris, and Godfrey Ho. I’m ready for the Big Screen. However I have some concerns with the script.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“I think we need to make the lead a heterosexual. I don’t think the Chinese market is ready for that sort of thing. But we can keep in all the gay sex,” Dillon replied.

“So the main character is straight, he just has sex with men?”

“Correct”

“I think that’s an excellent idea Dillon,” Kat interjected. “James, you need to prepare a fourth draft.”

“Very well,” I replied. I called over my production assistant, Pee-Wee.

“Pee-Wee, take note: make the main character less gay.”

“I think this has been a very productive meeting,” Kat said. “Dillon, thank you for your input. We’ll be reaching out to you shortly.”

We shook hands and Dillon exited the room.

“What do you think?” Kat asked.

“I enjoyed Take Me To Pound Town IX as much as the next guy. But he’s an asshole. I don’t think he understands my work at all,” I replied.

“Come on, James. Making films is a collaborative effort. Dillon has style, a creative flair. He is the best director for the job.”

“Or the best one we can afford,” I said.

Kat walked away when Pablo, my agent, called.

“Great news!” he said. “Kat and I have finalized your contract.”

“Oh wonderful! What did you get?”

“Well, now hear me out…”

“Pablo, what did you do?”

“Your contract is 15….“

“15..?”

“….hundred dollars. Which, of course, 45% of that goes to commission.”

“Pablo, you shit the bed on this one.”

“BUT BUT BUT you get sole screenwriting credit and 100% of the merchandising rights!”

“Pablo, the script is no longer an action romp in outer space! It’s now a melodrama in 1942 Stalingrad! What merchandising rights could there be?!”

I hung up the phone and looked for Kathrine. She was back in her office. So I climbed up the fireman pole and stormed in.

“So what am I? Your slave?!” I asked.

“First rule of Hollywood: you’re only as good as your agent,” she replied.

“The only way I can profit off this film is if we sell Nazi SS action figures! You think you can push me around? Well you got another thing coming sister!”

I slid back down the pole and found Pee-Wee.

“Pee-Wee,” I said. “When do the sets go up?”

“Uhh, Tuesday I think.”

“Load up on crank and call Dillon. We’ve got work to do.”

TO BE CONTINUED

shot at the title II: shots fired

“Bob’s dead,” Pablo told me over the phone. “He was garroted in his garage. Cut his head clean off. Yakuza is suspected.”

“Holy shit!”

“Horrible ordeal. Anyways, a new producer has been assigned, Kathleen Kennedy. Not THAT Kathleen Kennedy. She wants to meet with you ASAP.”

So Pablo and me returned to Burbank to meet with this new hotshot producer. When we arrived, the guard stared blankly at us and said, “Elevator’s broken. You’ll have to climb up the old fireman’s pole.”

So we climbed up to the fourth floor where Mrs. Kennedy was waiting on us.

“Call me Kat,” she said. “Can I offer you a water or soda?”

“No thanks,” I replied. “I’ll take a scotch. Just started drinking again.”

She handed me the drink and sat down behind her desk.

“Let’s get down to business gentlemen,” Kat said. “Bob was a visionary. He knew what he wanted and went after it. I intend on carrying on that vision.”

Pablo and I nodded.

“The studio supports this project and will give us the resources necessary to see it through,” she continued. “That being said, we have some notes about your second draft.”

“What kind of notes?” I asked.

“The studio feels that we need to establish a plot, characters with motivation, sensible dialogue, and cut back on the violent gay sex,” she replied.

“So just make it regular gay sex then?”

“We’ll revisit that question when we see the third draft,” Kat said. “In the meantime, I want to meet one on one with you.”

Pablo looked over at me then exited the room. Kat poured a scotch for herself.

“So what took you so long?” she asked.

“What do you mean?”

“You’re a middle aged man. Divorcée. Never held a job for longer than 2 years. You’re balding, overweight, and heavy drinker. You’re probably a diabetic and won’t live to see 70. Now you’re in Hollywood. So why now?”

“I just put one foot in front of the other ma’am. Better late than never.”

“This is a tough business,” she said. “Everything’s changing and we need fresh minds to keep us one step ahead. And to me, you’re a dinosaur. So listen to me and listen good: stick with me and I’ll take you to heights you never thought possible. And if you stray one bit, you’ll be just another washout that litters this town.”

I just shrugged.

“All I want is booze money.”

a shot at the title

So I was crying in a corner, just minding my own business when the FedEx guy delivered a letter.

“Have a good day sir,” he said.

“Fuck off”

I opened the letter. It was from Bob Oglesby, Head of Productions at Trainwreck Studios. It read:

Dear Mr. Less

We read your screenplay ‘The Virtues of Drinking Bleach’ and have a few notes. Please reach out to your agent Pablo Dunbar to set up a meeting. We are having trouble reaching him.

Best Regards,

Bill

So I finished crying and called Pablo. When he answered the phone, I heard some screaming followed by gunshots. Then silence.

“This is Pablo,” he said.

“Hey! Bob Oglesby has been trying to reach you. Where the hell have you been?”

“Sorry I’ve been in Thailand on the set of the new Paul Schrader film. I’ll reach out to Bob soon.”

That week, Pablo and me drove out to Burbank. When we arrived at the studio, the doors were locked. Out of the third story window, Bob yelled: “Sorry, I’m the only one here. Everyone has COVID.”

Bob threw down a rope and we climbed up. Then he offered us a Bloody Mary.

“No thanks,” I said. “I just got my one month chip.”

Bob shrugged and downed the drink himself.

“Now boys,” Bob said as he sat down behind his desk. “Let’s get down to brass tacks. We all want to make money. A fuck ton of money. And the only way to do that is to give the audience what they want. And they want sex. They want violence. They want full on sexual penetration. They want erect penises. They want sopping wet vaginas. They want tits. They want ass. They want to see EVERYTHING.

Unfortunately we can’t give that to them. We have to abide by what they call ‘rules’. Plus we have to consider the Chinese market. So we looked at your screenplay and said that this is the next best thing. Therefore, after all the sexual harassment lawsuits are settled, we are fully prepared to give this thing the green light. What do you boys think about that?”

Pablo and me looked at each other.

“Sounds good?”

“Good,” Bob said. “But we have a few notes for you. First, gay sex. There’s a lot of it.”

“I assure you that it’s all in service to the plot,” I replied.

“Oh yes, I noticed,” Bob said. “What I mean is that I want more of it.”

“For the film?”

“Yes”

“So you want more gay sex in a martial arts film set in outer space?”

“Yes”

“Anything else?” I asked.

Bob stood up from his desk and looked out the window. “Boys,” he said, “Hollywood is dying. Too many kids on YouTube drinking cat piss for a laugh. Too much internet pornography. Too much competition from the streaming services. The days of good storytelling, of compelling performances, of sweeping scores, of looking at the silver screen in awe and wonder…they are coming to a close.”

Bob paused and looked me in the eye.

“I’m counting on you to save my job,” he said.

I looked over to Pablo, then back at Bob.

“In that case,” I said. “I’ll have that Bloody Mary.”

occupational burnout

They say that rewriting is the actual art of writing.

Thank god I’m not a real writer.

Writing is homework. I’ve never liked homework. I enjoy the immediacy of art, the spontaneity. Unfortunately writing is the only medium I can do.

Let me be real for a sec: I’m suffering from burnout. Not just from this blog, but from things in general.

Life’s too short. We can’t spend our entire lives looking at a screen. But we’re headed in that direction.

Rarely do we stop and think how amazing it is that we can experience anything. Consciousness is an extraordinary phenomenon.

I watch my son experience the world for the first time. I’m envious. It’s beautiful to watch. He appreciates life far more than I do.

Children understand something that we don’t. They aren’t burdened with the baggage of cynicism and jadedness that life hands us. They see the world for the miracle that it is.

It sounds naive, but we need to see the world as a child does: it’s beautiful, it’s sublime. Words are merely an approximation of what can be described.

Why waste this brief time being a cog?

Why waste it on hate and loathing?

This is just pointless meandering on my part. I’m just a day dreamer. Not a writer. Not anybody important.

I just need a break.

Maybe I’ll be back tonight. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe I’ll never come back here. 🤷‍♂️

But thank you for reading. 🙏

put an end to my misery

I’m always tired.

So, so tired.

I was playing skee ball at Chuck E Cheese when Ed started hootin and hollerin.

“Don’t make me drop your ass kid! I’m packing my 9mm,” he said. Ed was getting the tables ran on him by a 2nd grader.

“Pipe down Ed,” I said.

“This is bullshit!”

I went back to minding my own business when a father confronted Ed.

“I will shove this skee ball right up your ass if you talk to me like that again!” Ed said to the man.

“Say, let’s settle down and have another beer Ed,” I said.

So we went back to our table, enjoyed some pizza, and watched the animatronics. Then Ed pulled out a pipe.

“Wanna do some crack?”

I reluctantly agreed, but it turned me into a beast at air hockey.

“Aren’t you guys too old to be at a Chuck E Cheese?” some mom asked us.

“Shut the fuck up bitch!” Ed replied as he threw the hockey pusher at her face.

The manager told us to leave.

“The problem with today’s kids is that no one beats the shit out of them anymore!” Ed yelled at the top of his lungs.

He then went on stage and pissed all over Munch’s Make Believe Band.

“Fuck this place!” Ed said. “We’re going to Dave & Busters!”

Oh, You’re Into Politics? How Embarrassing!

Sorry that I’m plugging another Medium article. Especially one about politics.

Yuck!

But gotta get some eyeballs over there.

Good luck!

And apologies!

link.medium.com/FsyuxhYa1ib

“It’s a tale as old as time: man has fallen from Grace, Creation has been cursed, but God will restore Order in an apocalyptic Revenge.

Chaos will be no more, and mankind will forever live in Peace under this coming Kingdom.

It’s a powerful idea.

It’s also fantasy.

But we are sold this fantasy outside of the religious institutions. This eschatological mentality has infiltrated the supposed secular realm of politics.”