Sunday, October 20, 2013

What its like to get cancelled

It was a Friday afternoon at 1pm and I was standing in the line at Jamba Juice making the most important decision of my life. Which energy boost should I rock in my Strawberries Wild? Energy is simply B12, there is a lot of it in 5 hour energies. It is quasi effective and also slides under the banner of healthy because, hey, it's a vitamin, must be an organic surge. But there is also the caffeine shot...they both cost the same requisite 25 cents and more or less cause the same effect, but for whatever reason this is always a very hard choice for me.

Caffeine just seems like it has a better chance of working, but California law also stipulates that the menu let me know that this will cause me to be ingesting an extra 25 calories...sorry I know I'm stalling and the line of impatient customers behind me is growing, god dammit.

*iPhone 5 with the new iOS text sound*

I look at my phone in a desperate move to find an answer.

"You owe me three bucks."

I knew immediately. I had lost my job.

See, I wasn't just out getting a smoothie for sport on a Friday afternoon, I was depositing my boss's paycheck at a Wells Fargo. It just happens by fortunate coincidence that there is a Jamba Juice next door. My boss and I have a cursory understanding that if I do her a personal favor and deposit her check, I can take an extra 5 minutes and get myself some fruity goodness.

I left the line, the gay aspiring actor asked me if I was all right? "You can have an energy and a caffeine, I'll only charge you for one." But I needed to go outside and sit on a bench to process the gravity of what had just happened.

6 Months ago I made 3 bets with one of my best friends:
1. Ironside would see episode 6.
2. Ironside would receive a back 9.
3. Ironside would be renewed for season 2.

We had oft made jokes about these bets and even that day I had told him, "if we survive the day, I think I'll owe you 2."

We did not survive the day, and while you might assume it was a shitty way to console a friend, there is no way he could have assumed that I had not heard. By the time I got in line at Jamba, Deadline was already announcing our doom.

Texts started flooding in from my coworkers, "fuck" literally within 5 minutes of our producer telling us it was over, the entire town knew.

Immediately everyone goes into a subtle depression. Even if you kind of expected it, you never see it coming. While working on a show everyone sort of brainwashes themselves into thinking, "this is it, this is the next big thing." You think of how you will rise the ranks season to season and eventually achieve your goal which is a vastly different position than whatever you are doing at that moment.

I got back and the doomsday mentality had already set in. A sense of shock transforming into "What now?"

I got back to my work and was immediately handed an adult beverage. While I sipped my champagne, I read the comments on ratings blog TVbythenumbers. Comments heralded the move by NBC, thrashing our numbers and lamenting the fact that it hadn't happened sooner.

"Thank God NBC woke up and cancelled that stinker, good riddance, what were they thinking even greenlighting this remake that NO ONE was asking for."

I have no idea who the fuck these people are that comment on tv blogs, because it is certainly no one in the industry. Because people in the industry would know that 300 people that were working their ass off at their respective careers just lost their jobs. It's morbid really to celebrate the cancellation of a television show. Can you imagine if an American company went under, letting go of all of its employees, followed by a comment section that said "Toldja Toldja Toldja!!!"

But it's the nature of the beast. I don't contend that the show was the greatest thing ever, but people gave it their all. I imagine folks unfamiliar with TV thinking that NBC execs just throw some money at a half assed idea, pick up 8 of their friends off the street and tell them to make it happen.

That's not how it works. Network writers make a lot of money to do what they do. But they are not hacks. 50% of the people in LA want to be writers, there is a reason the people that get paid to do it are employed. But sometimes, for whatever reason, it just doesn't work.

I've been "relieved of my duties" 3 times in my life. The first time it was my last day at The Gap before I started my Freshman year at IU. I was carrying a 50 pound metal sign and my boss did not like the form in which I was carrying it. I threw it over my back and said "I'll carry it like Jesus carried the cross then, God forbid I knock over any urban plaids." She fired me for insulting her Jewish heritage. The second time I was fired for writing this blog (which was totally warranted) and the third was after I was reassigned once one of my projects had ended.

There is a quote in The Mighty Ducks that goes, "Losing isn't that bad once you get the hang of it." And really it rings true. No one should ever aspire to lose, but the initial sting numbs and you learn to carry on.

No one on my show deserved to lose their job, but it happened. It's the nature of the beast. No matter how bad our ratings were, the construction guys were still building amazing sets. The special effects guys were making it look like people really were getting shot and the costumers were outfitting the cast in realistic hip modern outfits.

But it doesn't matter, because this is what you sign up for.

Once we realized that Friday would be our last shooting day, shit just kinda went off the rails. Our props guy informed us that all the "prop booze" was in fact real and we poured cocktail after cocktail telling stories about the past and what we planned to do next.

I am one of the lucky ones, I'm an office guy, so I will have 3 more weeks of employment to pack up the office and figure out my next move. Others were slowly sipping drinks while updating their resume and desperately making calls to see if they could maybe have a job on Monday.

It's a fucked up game. There is a reason so many people wash out of entertainment, it really is a crap shoot and the nature of the beast is soul crushing...but

There will be another show. Someday. If not tomorrow, television as a medium of entertainment is unlikely to cease to exist. There will be a bit of panic, but if you truly believe that everything will be ok, people are more than likely to land on their feet.

And sure, it sucks to start over. When you spend 70 hours a week with people, with one goal, it does become a family dynamic. Some of the people from the show I will never see again. But they'll rebound, or maybe they won't. Maybe all of this nonsense will leave them disillusioned to the point that they pack up their bags and head home.

But for me, that is not an option.

Everyone comes to LA dough eyed with dreams of becoming a star. Obviously it doesn't work out for most of them, if it was that easy everyone would do it. But for the people that KNOW, eventually, things will work out...their time is coming. Life is a war of attrition. A lot of people will decide that either their goals are too difficult or just not worth it, but if you find yourself in the minority of people that know they will succeed, it's only a matter of time before that rings true.

At 7pm I went to a buddy's place and played drinking games until the rose. Largely similar to any other Friday night.

"What are you gonna do now?"

I'll figure it out.

There is always a way to figure it out. Maybe you go back to shopping at the dollar store. Perhaps you file for unemployment, but if you keep on trucking there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

This is a small town and you never know could happen. If networks could read the future first season shows wouldn't have an 80% cancellation rate. Nor would a guy that pitches a series about show choirs have been laughed out of his first meeting.

It's a roller coaster ride for sure, and definitely not for the faint of heart.

So Monday morning I'll go to work and start carrying thousands of files out of the office and load them onto trucks that will take them God knows where. I'll answer all of the texts and emails offering me condolences by saying "it's all good, shit happens." And I'll start sending my resume to every show in town with a 1% response rate.

But in the mean time I'll be hanging out at the beach, writing my own material and then I'll unexpectedly get a call one day from a guy who was an assistant in the writer's office.

"Hey man, I sold a pitch, it's going to pilot, do you want to come work with me?"

10 seasons later we're vacationing on our yachts off the coast of Cyprus, because ya...that's how it works.

Keep your head up.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to dat ass

Ever since I started writing I always had this one story I desperately wanted to adapt. I would always fantasize about the opening scene...

There is some devastatingly handsome guy at a bar, leaning up on the rail...cocky smile like he owns the place. He's talking to some babe over beers. Let's say it's Zac Efron, perhaps in his post heroin rehab comeback. So right as he is about to take this chick home (this chick has some fucked up ears but a banging body) this little fairy comes and tells him he needs to come with her NOW.

And the viewer is like...wait a second, this arrogant bro was about to go slam this dime, but now we're living in a world with fucking fairies? Ok...interesting. We pull out a little and realize everything in the bar did look a little off. Very wooden, and our protagonist is all decked out in green...Wait, no fucking this some sort of retelling of Peter Pan?

No. It's not.

So our hero steps out of a tree. Yes the bar was in a tree. He pulls out a green hat out of his bag and pulls it slowly over his sandy blond hair, then for the first time we see him unsheath his long silver sword. (Not a metaphor for his penis) and stare at the fairy awaiting instruction.

Navi (that's the fairy's name) explains to our guy that some evil monster has taken a beautiful princess hostage...blah blah blah some faint song from our childhood starts softly playing, crescendoing to...



Ahhh man, I get hard just thinking about it. Live action Zelda movie starring Bro Link fucking up all of Hyrule while also crushing all of the pussy from the Shadow Temple to Lon Lon ranch. It's true, I spent months of my youth playing that video game in my basement. Politely declining backyard baseball games due to an undisclosed illness, straight up in the basement in the dark eating a Domino's pizza with my Nintendo Power guide telling me exactly how to 100% Ocarina of Time. I firmly believe that I could have been a professional athlete had I spent half the time I spent playing Zelda learning how to catch a pop fly.

But I didn't. So now I'm a 26 year old production assistant with an advanced knowledge of a video game that came out in 1998. But it wasn't all for not because I could still bust out the Bolero of Fire if someone handed me an Ocarina. And look, I probably won't get to write the big screen adaptation of the movie ever (it likely won't happen...thanks a lot Prince of Persia/Mortal Kombat Annihilation) but consider the following my audition. The next 5 stories I will tell you are not even loosely correlated to the game or eachother, but take notice Hollywood producers. This is my voice.

Since we need something to structure this rant around let's roll with the 5 best songs that could be played on the Ocarina.

5. Minuet of Forest

When I was in college there was this epic party thrown by this frat that will remain nameless. The party was called *redacted* (sorry if that tipped my hand) basically it was this 500 person rager with a live band and every hot piece of ass in the greater Monroe county area. It started off innocent enough. Beer baths, jungle juice, finger banging a freshman on the dance floor...standard fare. But as things started thinning out people would disappear into rooms with closed doors and then reappear 20 minutes later with ambition of watching the sun rise. As confident as I am that everyone at that party was blown out of their skull on copious amounts of cocaine, so to is my confidence that every female that works out at the Universal City LA Fitness has fake tits.
It's amazing, these girls show up in yoga pants and sports bras with impossibly perky d-cups. I'm always trying to do a few bench sets and get the fuck out of there but I just can't fucking leave. I've been trying to figure out some sort of causation for this anomaly but I have failed thus far. All ages, all nationalities. Hard bodies. Perfect tits.
The best part is all the meat heads approach them and ask them on dates, offer them a spot...I'm not sure whether to sport wood or laugh. My trips to the gym are all fun and games until I get to the steam room/sauna/hot tub and I am just straight up assaulted by gays. Nothing is more offensive than trying to relax after a work out only to find a couple massaging each other in the hot tub. It's not even a gay/straight thing. Couples workouts are fucking miserable, regardless of your sexual preference. I just think that 60 year old gay couples think that because they are so old, they don't have to play by the rules of decency. Whatever, I just get in my car, leave, drive by Vivid entertainment and go into work at Universal. Wait a second, now that I think about it, Vivid is a porn company. I have definitely jacked it with that logo superimposed in the lower right hand corner of my computer screen.

Mystery solved. Every girl at my LA Fitness has been turned out by the Bang Bros.

4. Epona's Song

Ok, one of the most contested battles on the internet for OC enthusiasts is the notorious love triangle between Seth, Summer and Anna. I never got too deeply involved because I was a Ryan/Marisa guy all the way. As you all know, Seth chose Summer (because Anna was from Pittsburgh and people from there always lose) and Anna went on to star in one episode of Entourage and then quit acting. The end.
However, I think a far more compelling love SQUARE were Link's choices of babes in Ocarina of time. So you have Saria, Link's childhood friend who turned out to be a Sage, which I believe is like a goddess? Then you have the horse girl Malon, who TOTS wanted to fuck Link the entire time. Finally of course you have Princess Zelda. Let's do a quick pro/con.

Pros: Goddess, strangely erotic green hair
Cons: Elf ears, unclear rules on mortal/immortals banging out

Pros: DTF, gives you free milk
Con: Ginger, rides horses*

(I heard a rumor when I was growing up that girls that ride horses MUST have full bush, because it acts as some sort of vaginal padding when riding bareback. I have no evidence that such a practice is commonly accepted, but I blindly accept this as fact)

Pros: Super fucking hot, rich, princess
Con: Ok let's be honest, we're going to save that bitch and fill that gash all the way to the top. Rule 1 in life, always choose royalty son.

3. Requiem of Spirit

So there is this movie called LA Story. It stars Steve Martin. This story is not like the story in LA Story, but it's a very LA story...or moreso it is a story that is #SoLA.
I was at this random party in the hills a few weeks back after a movie premiere, it was pretty lame, but there was this chick that was super into me. She ends up inviting me back to her house where she promises to make me Cheese Quesadillas. We get back to her house and instead of making cheese quesadillas she proceeds to take me to her bedroom and felatiate me. Which is cool...BUT. Lately I've been putting a lot of time and effort into the cheese vs. blowjob debate, so instead of my usual "just last at least 30 seconds so this isn't embarrassing" thought process I couldn't help but wonder what type of cheese she might have used in those quesadillas. I assume it would have been a sharp or mild cheddar, but WHO KNOWS she might have gone rogue and used an aged garganzola. I was so deep in my internal debate that I failed to notice 10 minutes had gone by. No one likes to suck on anything for 10 minutes, unless it's a sour apple blowpop. I switched my train of thought to, OMG last at least 30 seconds, and 4 seconds later it was over.
I made up some excuse and Ubered it to the nearest In N Out, when I approached the drive thru I ordered a triple double. The cashier politely assumed I meant 3 patties and 2 cheese slices (like that 3rd cheese slice is really going to send my cholesterol over the edge when I'm ordering a triple cheeseburger at 2 in the morning) I corrected him. Naw mahfucka...cheese patty, cheese patty...CHEESE.

The next Monday at work I went to make myself a small bowl of cottage cheese and instantly became aroused. I have inexplicably developed a Pavlonian response to cheese that a blowjob is imminent. The two are forever linked in my subconscious, so I either need to contract Leo to incept me, or the next time old girl domes me up I better be eating a cheese quesadilla, I feel like that could break the curse.

2. Prelude of Light

I am going to a wedding in a month in Springfield, Illinois. I thought, hey what the fuck is in Springfield? The Lincoln home? You bet. I'll get myself a little culture in central Illinois. Today when I googled the site I was greeted by a nice fuck you that read "due to the government shutdown, all national parks have been shut down." Ya that's right, those fucktards in Congress get paid to sit on their couch but the old lady selling post cards in the gift shop at Lincoln's house is out of a job. Fuck you America, but you know what...I don't blame you. I blame Sex and the City.
We once lived in a society where people got jobs and paid their bills. But now every upper middle class female that thinks office life is boring moves to New York to "pursue her dream as a writer." Because OMG Carrie Bradshaw's apartment was like SOOO nice...and I'll work 2 hours a day and just go out to drinks with my besties and gossip about all the pole we smoked the previous week. Look at Lena Dunham, she's TOTS living her dream.
First of all, Carrie Bradshaw looks like a horse, and via the transitive property we can assume that she does not shave her bush...and no one should aspire to look like a 50 year old French nudist. 2nd of all, print is dead and no one reads your blog, so stop being an apathetic little cunt and either make an honest living on the pole or hit up your parents for more cash. Because if I can't roll on ecstacy checking out our 16th President's boyhood home due to a government shutdown, I may be forced to watch Girls reruns on my Doubletree's tv while I wait for the wedding to start...but hey, Free HBO!

1. Zelda's Lullaby

I haven't decided who I would cast as Zelda yet. Perhaps we'll do Shailene Woodley. Right after Link hookshot's Ganon in the eye and then piledrives his sword into his eye (freeing Hyrule and rescuing the princess) there will be this awkward moment where Zelda doesn't know how to react to the levity of it all. I mean Link DID bang Malon AND Saria on his epic journey, but hey he's a fucking stud and he saved the day. I imagine it is exactly like the closing scene from The Spectacular Now, except instead of a cut to black and an ambiguous ending they share a sensual kiss over Zelda's lullaby. She then leads Link to her Royal Chamber and they consummate what will inevitably go down as the greatest power couple in Video Game history. (Fuck Mario, he's a blue collar plumber with a retarded younger brother and by far the worst playable character in Super Smash Bros)

So there you have it Hollywood. My audition tape. You want an outline? Nope. Story? Nope? Just have Nintendo or the Japanese fuck who owns the rights just go ahead and send over the paper work and a few bottles of vodka. I'll give you the single greatest cinematic masterpiece since Grown Ups 2. And yes I understand that it is far from likely that I will receive the Academy Award for best adapted screenplay, I'm sure I will have ample time to make a rousing speech when I accept the best original song oscar for Nocturne of Shadow Dubstep Remix.

Jesus...did I mention I've already been fired once for writing this blog?