Stupid, Part II

Yes, I should be working on my Impossible Task for This Week. Instead, I find myself moved to chronicle yet more of the Parade of Lunkheads that seek to intrude into my life on an ongoing basis.

Here is the latest episode: as you know, I recently directed a musical version version of Judy Blume’s Superfudge. You know because I kvetched about the concern over the word “stupid” earlier. Well, another “problem” with the source material is the fact that it addresses the existance of Santa Claus – it is, after all, aimed at an older demographic than the Dr. Seuss canon. But. Begged to find a solution that did not include scissoring out the middle of the show (and my favorite musical number), here is what I came up with:

Earlier (during that number), the sixth grader Peter, in retaliation for being made to write letters to Santa for all family members (in order to appease his younger brother Fudge), has asked Santa for an iPod. Soon after this number, Peter, in Greek Chorus mode, tells the audience that everybody got what they wanted, except for the iPod. Fudge enters and they talk about their presents (Fudge rather sweetly saying he would have gotten the iPod, but he doesn’t have that much money)(who does?)… and Fudge admits he hasn’t believed in Santa in quite some time. He just goes through the motions for his parents.

My subversive solution for this: While Peter and Fudge have their conversation in one corner of the stage, behind them, in the opposite corner, Santa enters the family living room and places an iPod box with an enormous bow on the table… then, hearing that the kids don’t believe in him, he snatches the box back up and leaves in a huff.

For the most part, the audiences have loved it. But… and you could have predicted it… there have, thus far, been two mothers in the lobby after the show, screaming at the staff that the theater has irreparably damaged their children for life. One even returned later for a second bout of screaming, and had to be told to leave or be removed from the premises.

It’s like working retail, except for the outside chance at work benefits.

The Real Problem

…is when I have nothing to say, I don’t say it.

I mean, even if what I have to say is utterly asinine, stupid, or inevitably embarassing to me in the future, I’ll generally say it. But I really hate people who talk to hear their head rattle, as my sainted grandpa used to say. Ergo, my long bouts of silence.

But I did finish the Incredibles review. Let the rejoicing begin.

And In Today’s Meeting….

“What I’m concerned about is getting from the cinematics into the games.”

“Well, that’s Freeman’s department.”

“You mean the games that haven’t been invented yet.”

“I’m sure that your transitions will give us some sort of indicator of where to go.”

“In other words, you want me to take you from Point A to Point B without having any idea of where Point B is even located.”

“That’s your genius.”

(Lengthy pause)

“Do I have to start shooting you guys?”

Ah, Lulls

The trouble with them, of course, is that you spend them waiting for the storms.

Superfudge has opened, and not a moment too soon, as I was feeling the creative card in my brain seriously overheating. The past few months seem to have put a serious strain on it. Then again, I can’t be sure how much of that creative exhaustion is due to the fact that none of the stuff I was working on was truly mine. The scriptwork that occupied the year to date was for a idea I had submitted to the focus groups, sure enough, but by the time its official writer was shuffled off script duties, it was no longer my vision. All I could do was attempt to link the story points in something approaching a logical manner.

One of the unexpected perks of writing so regularly again is my return to the world of reading. Though I still can’t set aside enough time to read an actual book – though several sit by my desk, waiting their turn – I’ve returned to my first love, the medium that taught me to read at the tender age of four: comic books.

I gave up the monthlies years ago, during one of my frequent fiscal crises, and now wait for the trade paperback collections to come out. My wait for some stories to conclude thusly is longer, of course, but there isn’t that agonizing wait between issues. Especially since the higher-profile comics have a way of slipping off-schedule.

Currently, I’m catching up on Warren Ellis. Friends blink at me, the unstated question being, “Catch up on Warren Ellis?” Yeah, I’ve lived in a cave for quite some time. I’m the Unabomber without the body count. Forgive me.

But what a wonderful odyssey it is, finding this wonder in huge, bookshelf-worthy chunks. It started with a recommendation for The Authority – between this and Moore’s Miracleman and Watchmen, I think the revisionist superhero story has reached its zenith. I have chewed my way through Planetary and Global Frequency, re-reading them frequently. My next course is what Ellis refers to as his “2500 page science fiction novel”, Transmetropolitan.

And while not exactly a new discovery for me, I was trolling Half-Price Books during a long lunch and discovered a couple of the small, thick Dark Horse collections of Lone Wolf and Cub. I had read the comic religiously back when First Comics was reprinting them. When First went under (taking with it my beloved Grimjack – a pause, please, for mourning), it was rumored that financial skullduggery had scotched the idea of the series ever returning to this shore. So I was pleased to see these books at my local store, but somehow never managed to pick one up.

Well, now I have to own them all. Good heavens, I had forgotten how masterful a storyteller is Kazuo Koike.

The short story is one of the toughest forms to master, and both of these men excel at it, in a medium that insures I can have a satisfying reading in a half-hour or less, the experience made more dense, rather than simplified, by the accompanying pictures.

In other, nagging, real-life concerns, I have, at least, updated the Upcoming Disc entries at Attack of the 50 Ft. DVD, and gotten the B-Masters site up to date. Still working on my review of The Incredibles, because God knows, what the Internet needs is another review of The Incredibles.


Superfudge opens today, another piece of baggage I can wrap in brown paper and stow away in a corner where it won’t clutter my life quite as much. Of course, it would not go away without incident.

In the final days of rehearsal – when I am struggling with being unholy sick of the show and trying to figure out what’s wrong with various scenes, how it can be fixed, and the cast is trying to deal with multiple (far too fast) costume changes and a high-concept set – I get a note from the director of the theatre:

“Did I hear Andrew say something was stupid?”

“If it’s in the script, yeah, he said it.”

“We can’t do that. I get complaints.”

“Now let me get this straight. You chose this script over a year ago. Longer, since it was a year ago that you were begging me to direct it. It’s been in rehearsal for over a month. And just now, at the eleventh hour, you want a script change??!!

The problem is that I’m never that articulate when I’m angry. And angry I was, since I’ve been dealing with similar problems in the show since day one. Judy Blume seemingly made the error of writing the book from the viewpoint of a sixth grader, and then addressing things like how babies are made and the existence of Santa Claus. The problem wasn’t really with Ms. Blume’s prose, which is quite popular with its target audience, or the stage adaptation of it – the problem was I was spending too much time dealing with Other People’s Problems with the material.

And this is a very, very old pet peeve of mine, which I’ve been dealing with for over a decade now: the demonization of the word stupid. It is a perfectly good word, but having apparently solved all other problems, the prevailing standard in educational circles is that it is a bad word, and is, in fact, referred to as “the S word”. Which was, I had thought, a four-letter word signifying fecal matter. Shows what I know.

I am told that the word is outlawed so that children cannot use it against other children. I suppose this can be viewed as a good thing, as the kids will then have to avail themselves of other adjectives available to them in English language, leading them to increase their vocabularies by including such phrases as “big dummy dumb-head” or “contumacious lickspittle”.

I’m sorry, this reasoning has always struck me as, yes, stupid. Even – to use a word I never use in this context – retarded. Congratulations, you have just made a new swear word, and rendered it even more powerful by placing it in the same category as the old, venerable swear words.

At the very least, this is primitive magic: the hope that by erasing a symbol, you erase the thing it represents.

I wound up cutting the line entirely. There was also a bit associated with it, of all the adults on stage looking at the character disapprovingly, but that was not enough. That was also cut.

But that’s one more brick laid in the stronghold that is an ongoing project, the stronghold that will eventually isolate me from the strange nattering beasts that claim to be the same species as myself, but they ain’t fooling me.

People can’t be that stupid. Not on my lonely little planet, anyway.

Things To Possibly Do On That Rare Day Off

1. Sleep.

2. Read a book.

3. Watch a movie.

4. Play City of Heroes for 18 hours straight.

5. Catch up on correspondence.

6. Shop for groceries.

7. Clean home office – that path to the door just doesn’t cut it anymore.

8. It seems you have a wife. This bears investigation.

9. That kid running around may also be yours, too.


10. Work on your taxes.

Stoopid gummint.

On the Other Hand…

Last week, I got to walk into a crowded meeting room, open up my notebook computer and say, “Alright, you have me for a half hour. What’s up?”

It was sort of like being Tony Stark. Except for the whole good-looking technological genius superhero billionaire alcoholic thing.

On the other hand, I solved all their problems, so I guess the “superhero” thing isn’t entirely out of line.

Ooooh, I get arrogant when I’m tired, don’t I?

The Third Season of Twin Peaks

As Beckoning Chasm points out, this has become the blog equivalent of the second season of Twin Peaks, with unresolved cliffhangers aplenty, and your protagonist seemingly trapped inside the Black Lodge, apparently incommunicado for all eternity. (Add to this the fact that Blogger has now lost this lengthy post twice.)

Yeah. Well. Here is how it goes in my little life:

The video game project is the Energizer Bunny of my professional side – it just keeps going and going. This current phase can’t go on too long, as the production end has postponed their phase twice now and made it clear they are not doing so again. Presentation of the (almost but not quite) final scripts was made to the folks at Baylor Friday, and they judged it good, with a few minor tweaks.

I still have a ton of ancillary material to write, but the part of the project that ate enormous gouts of my time like Saturn consuming his children appears to be just about over (haven’t I said that before?).

Now, a year ago, as I was wrapping up my direction of a stage adaptation of Henry and Ramona, I was asked to commit to directing another children’s play, this time a musical version of Judy Blume’s Superfudge in a year. A year from now? I replied. I have no idea what I’m doing a year from now. I may not even be alive. Oh come onnnnnnnnnn, was the rejoinder. Oh, well, the game project will be over by then, and I’ll need the money. Sure.

So. Juggling three creative endeavors (time to revisit the first video game project, apparently) at one time. And, oh yes, I’m performing at church again tomorrow. Not Satan this time. I’m Doubting Thomas (which is also stunningly apropos). I feel the creative card in my brain overheating.

The net result of all this, of course, is dropped balls. There is a phone call to a producer I was supposed to return last month. I haven’t. I hope that number is still on a piece of paper somewhere on my desk. There is, in my home office, a cleared path from the door to my desk. There’s a CD I burned for a friend, sitting next to my computer, making mock of the fact it hasn’t made it to the post office yet. I still have to do my taxes.

I used to watch a movie a day. I’ve watched one movie in the last two months. Well, and some episodic TV, to unwind after a long night at the computer.

The ones that hurt, though, are the balls that drop simply because they are not paying gigs or family-related. The pixels you are staring at now is one of those. The archiving of reviews at the B-Masters site is fitful at best. I’ve barely poked my head into the B-Movie Message Board – thank God there are three other moderators. The Bad Movie Report hasn’t seen an update since November of last year. The one that rankles the most, however, is Attack of the 50 Foot DVD, for which I do receive remuneration of a sort. Given a day, I could do something there.

I’m not being given a day.

So for all of you who read this – both of you – that is the cluttered, hectic state of my life. It’s nice to have a brain that everybody wants, at least for the moment, but it would be nice to spread that evenly over the bread of my life instead of having it sit in one cold lump in the middle.

It’s not that I don’t love you anymore – but you knew what you were getting into when you married a cop.