Dodging a Bullet Point!
A few weeks ago, a friend came into the city to visit and we met up for dinner at his favorite steakhouse in midtown. He’s been to this restaurant many, many times. When we got there and he claimed his reservation, the head waiter fawned over him relentlessly, because he was such a valued diner. He was filling our water glasses as soon as we sipped the water. He hovered to make sure everything was up to expectations. He announced that dessert would be on him. Then a celebrity entered the restaurant and the obsequious waiter disappeared as he shifted his attention to this new arrival. We barely got our dessert (he tried to talk us out of it) and it took 30 minutes to get the check. We had gotten thrown over for the new king of late night TV, Greg Gutfeld...
I woke up the other morning flashing back to my younger days, to my “performing career.” Not sure what triggered it.
You ought to know that my family is full of hams and attention seekers. I realized now that the idea of performing always tugged at me. I would watch the comedians on TV and the classic old movies and they called to me in some manner. But I was stranded on the island of Staten, long before it became the comedy powerhouse it is today. Back then I had no mentors, no guide posts, no teammates. There were things I would attempt, things that were shots in the dark.
I remember when I was 6 or so, my young uncles, only a few years older than me, putting on their version of “The Soupy Sales Show” for the family and some neighborhood kids. They cribbed the jokes, gags, puppets, props and puns from the show and acted it all out in the family room. I remember this very well. So, obviously, things could be done...
A Dog's Life & Death
This'll be a long post because I can't bring myself to write a short one...
We lost Niko, the canine member of our family. He was 12 and developed a tumor on his liver. Outside of some arthritis, he was acting fine until the last 36 hours of his life. He was a beautiful collie/shepherd mix. I used to tell people he got by on his looks. He was a calm, friendly dog unless you were a delivery guy coming up the front walk, then you would think he was a rabid wolf.
I grew up with dogs in the house, but Niko was my first dog as an adult. My wife was afraid of dogs growing up, then became used to them, from being at my family's house. But never what you would call a “dog person.” She remained reluctant to give in to the kids...
Countdown to Love - Gi60 Style
From Oct. 21-23, a one-minute version, "Countdown to Love," is part of Gi60 evening of 1-minute plays. You can get tickets here. Theater seating is sold out! But you can see it online! It's an amazing bunch of authors and actors!
ETA: Months later, I remember to add the YouTube link...
It's been announced that my radio script, "Cupid is As Cupid Does" was the winner in this year's MTB Audio Drama Scriptwriting Competition, which celebrates exciting aural storytelling!
The script is an adaptation of my short story that was published in "Love and Other Distractions: An Anthology by 14 Hollywood Writers." You can pick up a copy today. All proceeds go to charity!
The story is a sequel of sorts to my film script "Lost Claus." I've been working on several episodes of a project I call "The Nick Files," where the detective character, Nick Flebber, is called in to solved other odd-ball cases. I started adapting them to radio, getting the idea from the time I took the film script and knocked it down to a 15-minute sketch for Prairie Home Companion. They didn't produce it, but I sent it around to various radio groups and it's been produced. I followed that up with an adaptation of my book "Author in the First" and then found a home with the Lakes Area Radio Theater. They have produced "Never Say Never Neverland Again," "The Leprechaun Job" and "Spoiler Alert" but I'm still waiting for them to post the shows online.
Wow, this post went off in a lot of directions at once.
I got a certificate of achievement! My screenplay, "Hitler's Script," was a finalist in the 4th Dimension Independent Film Festival!
They said they thoroughly enjoyed the work and want me to send us more!
On my way, baby!
RIP Beverly Bonner
Actress and performer Beverly Bonner died. I learned this from a reply to an email I sent to her and some others. I don't have many details, except we knew that she wasn't in the best health for the last several years. I've only found a couple of posts about it on Facebook.
She's best known as an actor in several cult-classic horror movies, "Basket Case" being the best known; a movie I didn't see until about a year ago. I met her online about 10 years ago, responding to a Craig's List where she was looking for comedy sketch writers. She had settled into a relationship with the Broadway Comedy Club, producing all types of shows in the club's early slots, where she used my material from time to time.
She was boisterous and had a raspy voice that sounded like she had to explain things to lots of people over the years and had to make herself heard. And made a fuss over everyone she came into contact with.
This is the woman who asked me to write up an idea she had for a short horror comedy, which became "Steamed." It just started making the festival circuit this year, and we couldn't fully enjoy it because COVID. She did go to one festival in Scranton, PA, just last month (October 2020), where she told us the film got great reactions and she looked like she had a good time. I didn't attend. I hope COVID wasn't involved.
It's been a couple of days since I found out and I'm still processing it. Shock, sadness, anger. To be truthful, I guess we were more co-workers than friends and she was always had some hustle going on; most I sidestepped. She often made my introverted self retreat and that's on me. Just last week she emailed me about setting up a website for the movie and what would be a good time to call. It's not something I'm good at beyond Weebly, but I gave her a time. There was no call, which wasn't unusual for her, she always eventually did call. A while ago, I did set up a page on my site to promote the movie, Steamed, which is about the peak of my abilities. Before that, she called me a few weeks earlier, as I was building my backyard shed, and she was so pleased about the reaction to the short that she was making plans to produce more and wanted to know if I wanted to be part of it. I said "Sure."
But, to be honest, my first reaction to the news of her passing was selfish and now I have that guilt on top of all the other feelings. I read the email from the member of the production team telling me about her. When it finally registered, I thought, "crap, there goes the movie." Awful, right?
Then, naturally, her producing partner just found out the film got into another festival. They're still figuring things out. She was a tough cookie and was always working to make her next break. She saw an opportunity to use some of the chit she had from her horror fame and try to build off of that. And she thought that I might be able to make something of it. I'm sorry the timing didn't work out for her.
I had been noodling with the idea of doing a couple of blog posts about how Steamed came about. I still made do that.
Some year, right?
The Amazing Maskoroni - Flowers
Yes, quarantine has lasted awhile now. And things get weird. I've been working out of my basement for months now and finally I reached a tipping point. I saw other people posting cute "COVID" videos and messing around online. And I was a little jealous, but really didn't have anything to do that I thought would be clever. Then I dreamed this up. Literally. I woke one morning with the whole concept of a masked magician having come to me in a dream and I actually remembered the dream! Then it was a matter of doing it in a practical manner. Then I fired up the old webcam and started playing around with the idea! And here we are. So, ladies and gentelmen, the wizard of lockdown, the pandemic prestidigitator, The Amazing Maskorini!
Stalkin' Good News!
I got word this week that the short horror/comedy I co-wrote, "Steamed," has been selected to screen at The Yellow Fever Indie Film Festival in Northern Ireland! I'm so excited for my co-writer/director/horror icon, Beverly Bonner, and the rest of the crew and cast. I even had a cameo in it! Fingers crossed!
One of my odder writing gigs was a freelance job I had from 2007 to 2013, writing for the conservative news site, Newsbusters.
Freelance writer, still hacking away.