Ian and the Bishop – A Short Film

If you don’t want to read my long winded diatribe about making movies and dreams coming true then here is this movie. I sincerely hope you enjoy it.

 

Oh – You would like to read about my love for filmmaking and how important friends are? Okay. Well then, here you go.

Ian and the Bishop started as a novel. It was about a character that was depressed and started drinking again only to be forced into saving himself by a new acquaintance and his drunken alter ego. It was based off of a very real character in my life that got thrown into a romantic dramedy setting because that’s what I know how to write. I got 4 chapters in before I realized I was writing a screenplay, not a novel.

For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to make movies. I saw the film “Tall Tale” when I was a kid and it clicked in my head that this wasn’t just a fun story unfolding in front of me. This was a creative endeavor that real human beings put an incredible amount of hard work into and then came out on the other end with a finished product. I wanted that. I wanted to tell a story. But one person can’t make a movie, or at least, not the movie I wanted to make.

So I called my friend Dylan. He’s everything I’m not. He’s a wildly talented creative mind with a knack for the aesthetic piece of life. I needed him to say yes before anything else could actually happen. I was driving through New Haven, Connecticut on my way to Long Island for work way too early in the morning late in 2012 and called him with an epiphany.

“I want to make a movie.” I said.

“Umm. Okay. What kind of movie?”  He replied.

“I don’t know yet. But I want to make one.”

“Oh….Alright then. Sure.” And Dylan was in. Way easier than I expected.

That week I took my fledgling novel and turned it into the first draft of the screenplay. When it was done I sent it to Abigail. She was the second piece of this puzzle that was absolutely essential to making a movie. She’s my box. And by that I mean, I come up with over the top crap and she brings me back down into a place that can actually happen. Everyone needs that kind of person in their life, and she’s mine. I sent her an email with the screenplay attached that started with, “Hey. Remember when you told me months ago that this novel would be better as a movie? Well…you we’re right.” She was both excited that I told her she was right and taken aback by how much work I had done in such a short amount of time. So, Abigail was in. We’re moving right along.

Then, very quickly, it all became super real. We were scheduling the audition date to fill out the cast. I was filling out paperwork/asking my favorite local restaurant locations very politely to secure locations. I was writing a shot list (basically, making the movie in your head before a camera even turns on) which I had never done before. We were editing the script. A lot. The final version of the script is very different from how it began. Dylan, Abigail, myself, and two script editors (Allie Rivera and Robert Pinney) helped me out a great deal in that department. The entire ending is different from how I first wrote it because all of them knew it had to be.

I asked my roommate Elliot Smith if he could be the Prop Manager because he knew how to get things. I asked my other roommate Ryan Gentner and friend Adam Carner to be additional cameras on the project – which by the way, some of my favorite shots came from both of them plus Dylan taking my ideas and making them better, which is exactly what a talented crew is for. I asked my friend Mike Storiale, the most well organized and level headed human being I know, to run the production from a logistics stand point. He made a calendar, which should not be overlooked. The hardest part about making a movie, hands down, is the schedule. Getting everyone in the same place at the same time. It is a true nightmare and Mike and I threw it at the wall and then hoped it stuck. Thankfully it did. I then asked my friend Marc Gibson to be a production assistant – the jack of all trades on a movie set – and he also obliged. He also ended up playing my older brother Tom in the film and in my opinion steals every shot he is in.

A few weeks before the casting call I realized movies require a hair and makeup artist. It is in this area where I was lacking in the friend department. When I came to this realization I scoured Facebook for people posting pictures of hair or makeup jobs they had done. I came across a friend I hadn’t talked too at length for a while – but her work was stunningly brilliant and I knew she would be perfect. I called Dylan and asked him if he thought Stephanie Gagne would help. He replied with something like, “I don’t know, probably, maybe just ask her?”

That’s something else I learned while making this film. Sometimes, if you just ask someone to do something, they will do it. It’s crazy. So I asked her, and she said yes. And through the movie I started talking to her and her fiancé/current husband JR who became a production assistant on IatB and would later become a Producer on the new film we made this year. But more importantly, he is the most passionate and enthusiastic person I’ve ever met. Through just asking I added two crazily talented individuals who made the movie that much better as well as two amazing friends. I asked her to be a part of the movie in early 2013. Last weekend Elliot, Marc and I were in their wedding party. The crew/my best friends screamed Africa by Toto on the dance floor at Steph and JRs wedding at the top of our lungs. Twice. I fucking love making movies.

The crew was set. But I still needed to cast 6 characters. 4 women and 2 men. Tavis and Marc filled the two male roles, bringing more talent to them that I could have ever imagined, but we still needed the women. Abigail ran casting like a well-oiled machine, and all I had to do was show up with a script and watch strangers say words that were once only in my head. They each read for two parts – the girl breaking up with Ian in the first scene and the female lead whose name was Emma. I was nervous to say the very least. Without an Emma, we had nothing. Just some pieces of paper that resembled a story.

As the auditions were happening we were finding very good actresses. They were beautiful and talented but they weren’t Emma. I knew Emma. She had been in my head for a year at that point. I knew her favorite book was The Fault in Our Stars and that her dream was to be a dancer. I knew she loved her father but missed her mother every day. I knew she wanted to go on adventures but she believed an adventure alone wasn’t an adventure at all. She wanted someone to make her better than she already was. And that person was Ian.

Casey McDougal was my Emma. She nailed it. From the moment she walked into the audition room until the moment we wrapped, she embodied that character. She made decisions that I didn’t write that made Emma real. When she left the audition I resisted the urge to chase after her and beg her on my knees to take the role. Thankfully she took it anyway, minus the begging. When I watch this film now all I can think is, “That is my Emma. And within every wonderful flaw, every matter of fact smile, and every time she hits Ian out of pure frustration, she was absolute perfection.” I thank the stars every day Casey came into our lives and I think Ian does too.

With that I need to take a moment to thank JD, Grace, Sehee, Samantha, Marc, and Tavis. I am incredibly thankful you all took the time and helped me create something so important to me. The movie is better because all of you were in it.

One more technical note before I go. Movies are made up of pictures and sounds. Sounds are half of the experience. We used most of the money from the Kickstarter campaign to buy microphone equipment that has served us well. Problem was, we never made time to really learn how to use it prior to shooting, so the entire shoot was a long uphill lesson in sound design. Some of the movie was only recorded in mono; some of the movie had the mic pointed the wrong way, etc etc. Sometimes it’s just bad. And I had to come to terms with that. A large reason this film took a year and a half to release is because I hated how it sounded. But with some elbow grease and a few hours of Dylan’s magical editing a year later we made it the best it could be. When you all watch our next film (Zer0s, coming to YouTube October 3rd) you will notice the sound is better. That is because my friends (specifically JohnRob, Marc, and Elliot) took it upon themselves to be better the second time around and they succeeded.

Making this film was an incredible learning experience and by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I never went to film school. I just wanted to make a movie. It was my dream. The thing I thought about late at night while staring at ceilings. And then I somehow tricked my friends into helping me do so. AND THEN I asked for donations to get us off the ground which exceeded my expectations and we were funded within the first two days. It was and still is pure insanity.

This film is not perfect. Not even close. But it’s done. And my friends/crew, family, and Kickstarter backers should be incredibly proud of themselves. You guys helped create something from nothing and to me that’s beautiful. Thank you so very much.

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Bill

I met Bill because a Spanish man was furiously masturbating for 8 hours straight 2 feet away from me.

…Yeah.

I had broken my ankle playing dodgeball, or as I was telling people, “I fought a bear. And you should see the bear. But you can’t see the bear. Because he is dead. I fought a bear and murdered him.” I was on a lot of morphine guys, you must understand that. And as a side note I totally get morphine addictions. It’s the best. I could have broken a few more of my bones for fun while on morphine and laughed it off like I just saw a child fall in the supermarket after screaming bloody murder for more Oreos. It was pure hilarity.

I got to the hospital at a brisk 10pm and was told by a scary German doctor that I wouldn’t have surgery until the next morning. So after he massaged my bones around and my girlfriend at the time left for the evening I got wheeled into a room and they told me to go to sleep. What they don’t tell you is that they are going to wake you up every two hours to check your vital signs but they will only give you pain medication every 3 hours or so. So every time those horrible horrible people (they were great but when you’re in pain you say mean things to nice people) woke me up, the nurse and I would just sit there and listen to the man on the other side of the partition really giving it to himself. At first I played it off as normal because that’s what the nurse was doing. She was acting like she was sitting at a coffee shop on a bright sunny afternoon. Maybe everyone does this in the ER? I don’t know. I’ve never been to one. I could be the prude one in this situation. But, just to make sure I wasn’t a straight crazy person, I made sure to mention something to the nurse before she left to restart the countdown of waking me up again in two hours.

“Hey” I said “so, that guy?”

“Oh yeah. I thought you couldn’t hear him. He is here a lot. He doesn’t know any English and tries to scam doctors out of drugs.”

“And…the….”

“Oh right, the masturbating, yeah he does that almost the whole time.”

It was at this point that I realized I was absolutely the crazy person because my response was verbatim, “oh. Well. Alright then.” And then she left. And he stayed. And I tried to sleep to the soothing sounds of what I can only assume we’re two birds of prey fighting for scraps.

The next morning my surgery was scheduled for 10am so they started to give me morphine at 9. It was the best, for the record. A minute or two into that magic erase liquid seeping into my veins like molasses in January my mother walked in. Panicked is the word I’d use for her. And justifiably. Her first born was in the ER. He hadn’t been since he was a baby. I get it. But again, I was on drugs.

There was hugging. And lots of “how’s” and “whys.” To which I slurred back one cohesive word –  “IdunnoMom.” Then the silence hit where she just looked me over in anguish. Then that silence was broken by a Spanish man beating his crotch to a pulp.

“What’s that?” My mom asked.

“A Spanish drug addict jerking himself off,” I replied with a smile on my face and my eyes rolling into the back of my head.

My mom freaked out. She called nurses. She yelled at doctors. She yelled passive aggressively at the Spanish man which did not deter him in the slightest. He was persistent if nothing else.

Hours later my surgery occurred. More drugs. Some new pieces of metal holding my leg together and a lifetime of knowing when it’s going to rain hours before the sky darkens. All great things. When I awoke I was being wheeled into my new room which prompted me to break out into a rousing rendition of “on the road again.” Fun fact: you can scream in jubilation post-surgery and no one will stop you. Give it a hearty try if you get the chance.

When I got back to my NEW room it was 10pm. My mother had gone ballistic for hours which was just long enough for her to convince the hospital to put me in a single room turned into a double with a cloth partition in the center.

When everyone was finally gone I was left alone in a dark room with my ankle pounding and swollen with 2 hours until I could have any more drugs. And I started to cry. As you do when your life is taking a sudden negative turn you didn’t expect and you’re no longer on morphine. A few whimpers in I sniffed loads of mucus in hard (gross, but true) – and during said sniff the television on the wall across from my bed and in the middle of the room turned on. It was on Fox News.

“Bill O’Reilly is a fuckin’ moron.” A low raspy voice rang out into the void of darkness now lit by Bill O’Reilly’s forehead. I opened my eyes and looked over to the blue cloth partition. I had no idea anyone was over on the other side until then. Probably because I wasn’t hearing anyone violently whisper in a language I couldn’t comprehend while flogging his own bishop to no end.

“Ha. Yeah.” I wiped the tears out of my eyes like he could see them.

“I’m Bill. You are?” He asked like he actually wanted to know.

“Ryan.”

“How old are you Ryan?”

“I’m 22. How old are you?”

“Old enough.” Bill pushed his words out with force like if he didn’t sharp shoot them into the world they’d dissipate before he could say them. “What are you doing here? This a vacation for you? Palm Springs or this? Those your options?” Bill was funny.

“I broke my ankle playing dodgeball. Although I’ve been telling people I fought a bear.”

“Yeah I’d stick with that story. The first ones not so great.”

“I caught the ball though! That’s what counts. I got the guy out and held onto the ball through twisting my leg like a pretzel.”

“Yeah, well. Alright then. Still. I’d stick with that bear story of yours twinkle toes.” Bill was really funny.

Bill and I talked for the next 12 hours straight. We covered everything. My College years. His prison years. His Harley collection. My Kia Sorrento. His family. My family. Bill O’Reilly’s stupid face. Favorite kinds of rocks. The best and worst nurses (the tall one my mom yelled at was the worst. She was bad at sponge baths. Scrubbed too hard.) How morphine rocks our socks off. His terminal cancer. Everything.

The chemotherapy didn’t work for Bill. He said it made him sick and he’d “rather be dead than do all that bull shit again.” So that’s what he was going to do. “I got 3 days. Maybe 4.”

I wanted to ask if that scared him. Thankfully I didn’t have too. “Good riddance!” He raised his voice slightly and coughed. It was lung cancer from smoking since he was 13, hence the John Wayne-esque tones coming from his tar ravaged throat. His words, not mine.

We only stopped talking for an hour in the morning when Bill’s entire extended family came to say goodbye. Bill reacted like they were going to too much trouble…like they were trying to pay him for lunch and he was shoving the credit card into the waiters face assuring them that he’s got this. His brother had ridden Bills Harley to the hospital and parked it outside so he could look at it from his window and say one last goodbye. I don’t know why but that’s the part that still makes me cry sometimes.

Bills wife was long gone. The room consisted of Bills brother, a gigantic balding man with a goatee and a riding vest on. His cousin was also there. Also huge. Also bald. Same vest. There were 3 other impressively large guys he called brothers as well but they weren’t and they also had the same vests on. One older woman whom never said aloud who she was to Bill was there as well. She only talked about whiskey. Bill loved whiskey and she just so happened to bring some. And by some I mean a lot. Bill was pleased.

As the family members cycled in and out of the room they would say hi to me when they got to my side of the partition that was still blocking my view. When they’d say hi Bill would yell “that’s Ryan! He fought a bear!” Bill was really very super-d duper funny.

At the end they all cried along with Bill. Through the tears I could hear Bill over and over “y’all are being pussies and it’s wearing off on me.” They’d all laugh quick and then go right back to sobbing openly with each other. When they all left I didn’t say anything for a few minutes. I didn’t know what to say.

“What do you want to do, Ryan?”

“What?” I was startled by the conservation. Bill wasn’t crying anymore. He was back to spitting his words.

“You’re young. What do you want to do now?”

“Well, I guess I just want my leg to heal.”

“No!” He shouted it. “After that you idiot. You have an after. So. What is it?” I had an after and he didn’t. That’s what he meant. I thought about it quickly.

“I want to be happy.”

“Oh yeah?” You could hear the smile while he talked. “And how you gonna do that?”

“I honestly don’t know.” I honestly didn’t.

“Do you want some advice?”

“Yeah. Please.”

“When you’re really really sad just put your hands up in the air and scream like your life depended on it. It releases endorphins into your brain or whatever. You’ll feel better immediately. Also get a dog that loves you.” There was a few seconds of silence. “And that’s pretty much it.”

“Thanks” I said. You could hear the smile in my voice. “I will.”

My eyes grew heavy from not sleeping the entire evening and I slipped into a deep sleep while watching more Fox News in silence. Two hours later they woke me up and handed me crutches. I was leaving the hospital. I put on regular clothes and stood up for the first time in three days. I lumbered on over to the wheelchair and through the sweat and the pain I got myself into it. The nurse started to push me out.

“Wait!” I said turning around to say goodbye. I was in such a daze of drugs and pain that I’d almost forgotten.

But when I turned he wasn’t there. “Where’s Bill?” I asked the nurse in a panic.

“Oh him? It’s time for his sponge bath so he’s down the hall. I’ll say goodbye for you.” I reluctantly accepted her offer and was wheeled down the hallway.

As I was adjusting in my seat and waiting for the elevator to come I heard some screams from down the hall.

“Ow! Owwww! Woman I’d rather see my ex-wife than you.” His voice echoed through the hallway. “You’re the god damn devil!”

And I smiled. Because I never saw him but I knew him. And he knew me. And I never had to say goodbye. But mostly, because I knew that giant nurse was scrubbing him way too hard and he would hate it if he knew I told all of you about it.

And I miss him.

My Favorite Tree

There’s this one gigantic evergreen tree that stands alone in an open field near my house. It is big and tall enough to be the world’s Christmas tree, I always said to my Mom. I truly envied it. It had all the room it could have wanted to grow. All the space it could have ever asked for to flourish and every bit of sky above it to be rained upon and to gain the light of the sun. This tree had pride.

One day while driving by I saw a crowd gathered in the open field. In the center of them all stood a lowly tree stump protruding with gusto from the ground where the tall evergreen used to stand.

I parked on the side of the road and walked over to the crowd, pushing my way to the front. “Where did my tree go?” I offered up to no one in particular.

An older gentleman with heavy brown boots and weathered corduroy suspenders chirped up, “Someone came in the night and took it.” The crowd murmured tiny notes of agreement.

I dropped to one knee, my pants soaking in the morning dew from the ground. My eyes fixed on the stump. It was like someone grabbed the linchpin out from the machine that ran me. The tree was a part of home. When you get off the highway you pass the poorly painted building, you see that crazy lady yelling at her eight dogs, and you gaze upon the magnificent lonely tree. But not anymore. Someone had taken that from me.

The top of the stump was not a clean cut like it had been sawed off. The bark that remained was angled and sharp like it had been pulled into two by the hand of God.

“That’s not what happened.” A little voice no one could hear but me said out loud. As I turned my head I saw a little black haired girl in a white sun dress with pink flowers all over it holding her father’s hand. Her words had been falling on tall ears. Her other hand was holding on tight to an old book that was practically falling apart.

The little girls gaze met mine momentarily before she looked back at her tree. “What do you think happened?” I kept as quiet as I could to try and keep this a private conversation between the obvious child and the little girl.

“I don’t think anything” the girl scowled at the thought that she was only hypothesizing, “I know where my tree went.”

“Okay. I’ll bite little lady. Where did it go?”

“It left.”

“Left?”

“Yup. It had grown all it could here.” She looked over at me for a moment to see if I got it yet. I didn’t, so she continued to explain. “I used to come to this tree every morning and read it this book about the rain forest. Every time I talked about the number of trees in the rain forest the wind blew and the branches swayed. It was my tree but I knew it wouldn’t be forever. One day it would have to move on. Today is that day.”

My eyes blinked uncontrollably. “Why did it have to go?”

“Because it was looking for friends.” She said as a matter of fact.

“But you read to it every morning. Weren’t you its friend?”

“Yup. But I’m a person. It wanted to go somewhere where the other trees were.”

“Like the rain forest?”

“Yup. Like the rain forest. I guarantee you” Her eyes locked in on mine, stolid and true, “You go to the big rain forest and one tree there will look nothing like the others.” She looked back towards the stump. “He had to go find where he belonged.”

“But doesn’t that make you sad? You lost your tree. The place you used to go every morning to read your book.”

The little girl shook her head. “Nope. I feel just fine. He was never my tree. I was just borrowing him from the ground and this ground was just borrowing him from anywhere else on earth it could ever be.”

“But, aren’t you going to miss it?” The crowd started to disperse and the little girl got pulled by her father in the other direction. When I looked up for an answer she was skipping away. As I gathered myself I realized that on the ground next to me now was the little girl’s tattered book. In a tizzy I picked it up and stood to walk towards the father and the little girl.

“Hey!” I yelled, “You forgot your book!” The father didn’t notice my yelling at all as the little girl turned back, but only slightly.

“That’s okay! I was only borrowing it!” she yelled and smiled before turning back around and continued skipping. I turned back to look at the stump, then down once more at my new book, and held it tight to my chest.

Now when I go home I pass that poorly painted building –

I see that crazy lady yelling at her eight dogs –

And I sit down to read about the rain forest and think about that one tree that doesn’t look the same but is right at home. And so am I.

Once Upon That One Time – Chapter 3

Click Here for Part 1 and Here for Part 2

We didn’t eat or drink anything while we were at the castle and the world was a barren wasteland. So we all cooked Kate’s stabbed body outside the castle and made coats from her skin, which totally helped us out. Everyone was psyched minus GBaby and his Emu but they were skin hungry and asked to eat all the skin themselves and we were like, no we need coats, so we didn’t care that they were sad. Marc called dibs on the torso. Everyone obliged.

Ralph, my flying polar bear that spits acid out of its butt and mouth and sometimes ears and nose took off along with Seph and Abigail, leaving everyone else on the ground. For the record, at some point in this story everyone starts flying as all the animals have the ability to fly but they must become in tune with their master in order to do so. Ralph and I were tight, so he could fly already. Seph and Abby were like two peas in a pod who could tear apart antelopes, so they were good too. Marc and his Rhino “Carl” were close but they were always fighting about who has the better beard/horn so they just weren’t there yet.

So we all were heading towards The Disciples layer to see what’s what cause we figure we need to see this evil guy for ourselves if we are gonna choose a side although the thought of choosing a side other than our own left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. Abby and I spotted a pack of other people at a camp from afar in the middle of the barren wasteland with tents set up and fires going somehow.

We both went down to hovering above the ground and then told everyone to speed up. Adam could not keep up so we left him and his regular iguana there. When we got to the camp site it was empty and the fire that was just lit was now doused. As we entered the center of the encampment, several human beings came out from behind the tents and surrounded us. From the crowd of maybe 20 human beings, all riding some sort of medium sized mammal, 3 mid-20’s gentleman came forward who were the leaders of the group we would come to know as The Range Riders. Their names were Collin, who was riding a Silverback Gorilla with laser eyes, Mitch who was chillin’ in the pouch of a giant kangaroo, and The Steve was riding a brilliant red bull named China Shop. I walked up to Collin cause it turns out we knew these guys, especially Collin because he’s my younger brother and his longtime friends Mitch and The Steve were now leading The Range Riders who live off the land and have no faction, like us. Also they set fire to most things.

Collin said, “Hey, what are you guys doing?”

I replied “We’re heading towards The Disciples layer to see what’s what.”

Elliot said, “We heard The Chancellor is a real dick.”

“Yeah,” said Mike “We want to see it for ourselves.”

“I’m on an Emu!” exclaimed GBaby. Everyone ignored him except Pat who gave him his patented stern nod of acceptance.

“Well,” said The Steve “I wouldn’t do that if I were you guys. It’s a total poop shoot.”

“Why not, also hi. I’m JR. It’s very nice to meet all of you. I really like your Gorilla, he looks top notch.” said JR, the ninja scientist. His giant Elephant Flounder high-fived him with his trunk.

“That shit sucks over there” said Mitch “Ole Chancy Chancellor is a real dick. His cult and him do weird shit all the time like move the continents back together. It’s a real drag. ZING.”

“That all sounds stupid.” Said Marc while poking his Rhino in the face to make sure Carl the Rhino knew what was what. Carl did not approve.

“Stop poking Carl, Marc. He’s going to retaliate.” Abby said making a solid point.

“He knows the rules,” Marc said “I’m the king of this here domain.”

“Alright then, just wait for him to impale you I guess.” Abby said while teaching her eagle about the importance of hydrogen bonds.

“My roots are growing out!” Steph yelled out of nowhere, “which makes me look like I’m not even trying.” Steph said even louder while looking at her hair through a mirror that she made out of crushed limestone while riding full speed on her translucent jaguar on the way to this moment like a true boss.

“Does that really matter right now, ladyface? We’re over here trying to save what’s left of this weird world.” Asked Michael.

Steph replied, “Uhhh yeah it does Mike, I’m over here lookin’ fierce, and it’s the main reason we’re constantly doing so well, so, like, whatever shut up.”

“Yeah,” Collin said “Just maybe never go over there bros. Nothing good can come from going over there and messing with that crazy dude.”

“This guy seems like a real ass hole” I said. “Someone should sick a large animal on him to eat him while he is still living.” Everyone concurred. “What do you guys say? You wanna go fuck some shit up for the sake of fucking some shit up?” Everyone cheered except for Adam because him and his iguana had just gotten there in time for us to start walking again.

“This is bull shit guys” Adam said while wearing shorts all the time.

“Hey Adam,” Elliot piped up for the first time in a while cause I forgot he was here for a second, “When you gonna finally teach that iguana to be at all useful?”

“When you don’t cry at the end of Toy Story 3, dick.” Adam said with malice, punching at the sky in heat.

“Shut up ya good gosh darn fuckface!” Elliot boisterously threw his words like anchors into the sea, “It’s a sad story about love and loss. WHATEVER DON’T EVEN. SHUT IT WITH THE YA KNOW. I CAN’T EVEN RIGHT NOW.”

“BUT CAN YOU EVEN?” Steph cheered.

“NO. I CAN’T EVEN. THAT’S THE POINT OF TALKING IN CAPS LOCK.” Elliot took a breath and calmed down. Koo and Stew, his penguins who were underneath/attached to his feet looked up at Elliot like he was a crazy person which is an unsubstantiated fact maybe.

“You guys should go before the sky turns off the light.” Collin said.

“That was a weird thing to say,” I replied “But you’re right. Let’s head out.”

“I’m still on this Emu!” GBaby once again said out loud for some reason. No one cared still and we all moved on. But GBaby didn’t care cause he lives his life like nobody is watching except for his Emu who is always there so it’s a pretty straight forward system for living that he is comfortable within and he doesn’t have to explain that to anyone, so he doesn’t. Then the Emu made a face like he was saying “whaaaaaaaat.” We all laughed and we went on our way.

Once Upon That One Time – Chapter 1

My name is Ryan, I’m 50 years ahead in time of whenever you are right now, and shit has — Just. Gotten. Real.

I know, that’s confusing, and I don’t care. Listen, I don’t have a lot of time. Only like, the next few hours, and then all hell is gonna break loose. Before that happens I’m writing everything that has happened in this past year to me, my friends, and the race we still call human beings. That hasn’t changed. A bunch of stuff has changed, but we still get called that, so there’s at least one win for us. Chock that shit up to the score board, ass holes.

49 years from where you are right now is pretty much the same. It has cars that don’t fly and run on crude oil, it has solar panels that no one uses except for like 3 people and they’re always so uppity about it, and the President of the United States is a white dude and has been since that one time that other thing happened. Then it all went haywire. Because white people are the worst. In case it all goes badly I’m going to write down everything that’s happened as quickly as I can and then put this letter into the time capsule code named “Plot Device” that can very actually go back in time and warn everyone what this planet has become – which is full of ass holes.

See, it all started when this science lab where scientists were paid to do science did something other than science. They might of accidentally sort of started a chain of events that ended in all of the remaining animals on the earth to evolve into genetically enhanced versions of themselves that you could tame if you had the balls. After that, the rest of the animals (who were not already paired up with a human being) were killed off or went to the woods or something, point is they are gone. Now the only human beings and animals left on this earth have their friends and each other. Some notes that are important to the story and that I won’t explain because there isn’t time and also fuck you is that some of these animals can talk, and some can’t. The ones who can’t talk aren’t called dumb to their faces cause that’s just mean but…they are. Sometimes that matches up with the human riding them, sometimes it doesn’t. Whatever blah blah so on and so forth.

Other important things include that there are about 1000 people left alive on earth, the sun is getting hotter each and every day, Pangaea is a thing again so the land is just all mushed together, and there is an ongoing war between the two factions called The Colony and The Disciples Inside the Calamity Kingdoms. I didn’t choose those names, someone else did. Also there are The Outlaws who aren’t really a faction, they are just people who don’t give a shit and are on their own side. That’s where my friends and I come in.

We are the leaders of The Outlaws. Pretty sweet, right? Yeah, I know it totally is.

Are job is to fuck shit up. For everyone. All the time. No matter who is doing what, we fuck it up. We figure the sun will roast us alive, the seas will swallow us whole, or everyone will end up getting stabbed in the face – so we might as well have some fun before any of that happens.

Before I go on with all that has happened in the past year I have to tell you about my crew. I can’t just start using names and telling stories without you knowing some background on these people. First off there is no leader, there are alphas and betas but we all decide what to do together. We aren’t some group of douche bags with one biggest douche bag who thinks they know best. No one knows best. People who think they know best is what got this planet into the situation in the first place. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I’ll tell you bout my peeps.

There’s Abby and Mike who are married to each other. Abby, the cunning and the bold, rides Sepharoph (Seph for short) who is the king of the eagles. Mike, the logic and the balance, rides Jasper, the aging moose who is as wise as the amount of years he’s been alive grant him to be. Elliot, the wildcard, rides the Emperor Penguin Duo Koo and Stew who are strapped to his feet and make ice with their belly’s so he can slide around everywhere. Koo and Stew and stronger than most penguins and don’t like each other or change or learn lessons. There’s also Pat, who is on a brown bear that hasn’t changed at all.

Stephanie and JR are here too, they are engaged to be married on a mountain. Steph, the no bullshit go-getter and JR the deceptively kind ninja scientist ride on an albino Jaguar named Bertram and an Elephant the size of a house named Flounder, respectively. Marc, the hungry and bearded, rides a Rhino named Carl with steel for a horn that Marc forged himself in an erupting volcano. As for me, I’m on my trusty flying polar bear named Ralph who shoots acid out of every hole he has in his body. (that includes his butt)

Adam is on an iguana. GBaby is on an Emu. Kate walks. Also there are others who I will get too later as their story wouldn’t make sense yet.

So all of us are in the outpost like a year ago and then some shit got to shakin’, and I mean shaking bad. The earth basically had a fuckin’ heart attacked and changed all of its shit up. The Chancellor, the dick head leader of The Disciples, built a gravity device that brought all of the continents together again because, and I’m quoting Mr. Chancellor here, “Who needs friends when you made the continents friends once more.” Sad as shit, I know.

As all of this is going on my friends and I are all sitting around, probably intoxicated, and being all like, “woah what’s going on?” Then we found out everyone was going nuts and dying and we said to ourselves, “let’s ride our animal friends into the night and see what’s to do.” So we all jumped aboard our animal friends except for Kate because she walks and went to the biggest building we could find immediately which was a liquor store that was made to look like the Lincoln Memorial. Inside we see the guy standing behind the register who is set atop a big fucking lion.

“Whatchu doin’ fools?” said the guy with the big fucking lion. Then we proceeded to explain to him what was happening outside and he was like “we should drink” to which we were all like “yeah that makes sense.” So we all start getting fucking wasted and next thing you know we sleep through the next few weeks and wake up, only to go outside and see a barren wasteland with nothing left standing as far as the human eyes can see. Seph, Abigail’s eagle friend, flew into the sky and told us that she could see something so we all hopped aboard our animals and headed off once more.

Except Kate. She got stabbed by that Lion.

That Time My Blind Date Stood Me Up Because She Was Going to Jail

I must preface all of this with a statement: This story is true. I changed one name because this is a real story and I don’t want to offend anyone, but it’s a story that I’ve been telling to friends for years and that I finally figured I’d write down. So here it goes.

My mother is wonderful. She is loving and caring and always wants what’s best for my brother and I. But, I am 26 now and you can kind of tell she’s getting antsy for me to be in a relationship that eventually leads to grandchildren. This manifests itself quite often in sentences that start like, “There’s this great girl I know that you should so on and so forth plus other words.” When she says that now I always refuse the offer for two reasons. The first is, when I meet the girl of my dreams I don’t want our story to start off with, “Well, my mom!” The second reason is this story I’m about to tell you.

In 2011 my life was a weird roller coaster full of long hours at work (which I was traveling every week to Long Island for, staying for 5 days, then coming home for the weekends) and treating myself badly. That’s all I did for a solid year. Within that year my mother started to offer up female candidates for me to meet and after a while of vehemently refusing, I said yes. Mostly to make her stop asking, but secondarily because, “Hey, it might work!?”

Her name was Greta. She lived down in New Haven, 30 minutes away from where I reside, and worked with my mom. All my mom knew about her was that she was a nice mid-twenties human being who always got a ride to work, played roller derby, and was not a lesbian. Oh, how did my mom know that last part you ask? Well, that got handled pretty quickly with this pointed sentence from my mother, “So, you gay?” To which Greta replied, “No.”

So as modern technologically based love stories go, I added her on Facebook. I was spending my weeks in a hotel so I had a lot of free time on my hands which I  used that one week to talk to Greta constantly. We told each other about our lives, I told her I liked drumming and writing, she told me she liked hitting people while on roller skates – so it was going well.

The next week I decided to take a leap. I hadn’t gone on a proper date in a very long time so I just came out and asked her. And she said yes! I was flabbergasted. We were going to go to a coffee house that’s near her house (she didn’t’ have a car so driving somewhere wasn’t an option) and meet around 12pm on Saturday for some dark coffee and light conversation.

The entire drive down I had all the windows open and the music blasting to try and keep me from sweating bullets while my mind raced about what I had chosen to wear and what I’m going to say and more importantly, where I’m going to park my car in New Haven so that someone doesn’t steal all of my belongings. I finally parked around the corner (still 20 minutes early) and wandered my way to the coffee shop. This place was awesome – filled with Yale professors grading papers and Yalie students being students who go to Yale. I was a bit out of place with my forest green plaid long sleeve and dark jeans, but Greta and I had talked recently about how she loved dark flannel shirts, so I went for it. I go up to the counter, look at the menu that is one million options long, and say “the double espresso please” because I’m an idiot.

After I got the tiny shot glass of a drink I sat down and started looking at Facebook, the way you do when you’re trying to pass time. While not paying attention my body decided to drink the espresso like it was a normal coffee, so within 5 minutes it was all gone. Still 10 minutes to go until she arrived and my leg was now in a full blown tremor. I saw a newspaper on the ground near me and picked it up because every moron spouting their opinions and personal records on Facebook were making me angry so I opened up the newspaper to read. It was a bit of a futile endeavor though due to the fact that my hands were shaking so badly I couldn’t read any of the words. So I put the newspaper down and found a clock above the counter. Still had 5 minutes. So I sat in silence for what I thought was going to be 5 minutes.

5 minutes passes. I’m watching the door like a hawk and checking my phone for the time every few seconds. She’s not there. 10 minutes passes, nothing. 20 minutes, nothing. I called her phone number, it was turned off. I Facebook messaged her, got no response. Half hour late, nothing. Called her again, still turned off. At this point I had a little bit of hope left but my buzz was leaving me so I got another drink – it was a regular coffee this time.

40 minutes late, nothing. The coffee I ordered came with a napkin and back in those days I had a pen in my pocket at all times for some reason so I took it out and started drawing. Pointillism is the kind of painting that is just little dots up close but when you zoom out it makes an actual picture. I decided to try it out with a painting of palm tree on a tiny island in the middle of a lonely ocean. Not a metaphor at all.

When I looked up from the finished drawing, she was an hour late and my coffee was all gone. So, with my symbolic tail tucked between my legs I got back in my car and drove home. That weekend I told my friends about the date that wasn’t which they said they were sorry about and I started to move on with my life – a life where people ditch me for utterly no reason….that is, until we got to Monday.

My Mother had called to ask how the date went on Saturday and I had told her she didn’t show up which was odd, because I thought we were getting along well. My Mom, the protective lion mother she is, was not at all happy with her son being ditched and marched into school on Monday preparing to demand an answer. But low and behold, Greta was not there. In fact, no one knew where Greta was until the end of the day where a notice came from the State of Connecticut expressing to her place of employment that Greta would not be showing up for a very long time.

Turns out Greta had committed her 3rd DUI in 3 years about 6 months prior to the date day. In this final DUI she caused a 4 car pileup on a bridge that injured 4 people including an infant. Greta was taken to the hospital and after being cleared was told to wait in her bed for the police to arrive to ask her questions. So she did what any fine upstanding citizen would do – she waited for the doctor to leave and then fled the scene. The next day the police found her at home hiding in her closet and brought her to jail. She posted her bail, and had a court date set. That court date was the morning of our date day, where she was told she would be going to a Connecticut based correctional facility for 3 years for her crimes. After she got this news she apparently wasn’t up for coffee.

The reason she didn’t have a car and didn’t drive to work herself was that she couldn’t have a car. Legally. The Government didn’t let her. I didn’t know if I felt better or worse about the situation. On one hand I understood the predicament she was in. What was she supposed to say to me over coffee, “Oh my future? Well, probably a lot of working out and not talking to strangers! Hope I look good in Orange!” Probably not the most uplifting of scenarios for her. On the other hand if I had just gotten convicted and sentenced to jail (which she had to report to 3 days later) I would have needed a drink badly – and what better person to pull out of a coffee bar and into a real bar than a complete stranger. Then you very obviously run away with them. This movie writes itself.

Needless to say I haven’t seen Greta since…in fact I never met her in the first place. But out of all the date stories I have, this one is probably the most interesting to tell and easy one to speculate on. And because I fancy myself a bit of a novice screenwriter I just HAD to try it out as a script. So, CLICK HERE – this is the first 10 minutes of a movie based on what I thought should have happened between myself and Greta, but with new characters names and a fictional back story. Hope you enjoy it.

 

I Forget What Love Feels Like: Free Write

I forget what love feels like. That sounds overly dramatic, and it is. But hear me out. The last time I was in love was almost three years ago now. I remember being within love. I know that everyone experiences the state of love differently. For me it’s always been a very cerebral process of adding an asset to my life and then adapting to being plural by making the relationship better than both its parts. My brain does that by itself. That is not an effort that I wrote down years ago and then repeated due to overwhelming success. In fact, every relationship I’ve ever been in has failed. If you’re not currently in a relationship or married, every romantic relationship you have ever been within has failed. That’s one of my life hypotheses I always harp on along with white people being the worst kind of people hands down. Those are two of my strongest beliefs…..yeah. Come on over, ladies.

Let me get back to my initial point. If I was to act out a love scene right now, which in the future I will most likely have to do since I write films that have me in them and I use films to act out relationships I wished I had in the first place –  so chances are I’ll have to act out being in love at some point in future, it would be just that. Acting. Acting to me is remembering. Remembering that time you felt that feeling, extrapolating it, blowing it up, and then putting it back together with everything you have and performing those moments in time. And right now I’m having trouble remembering.

When I was in love I was a better person. Well, not better. Nicer. Yeah, I’ll go with nicer. My demeanor towards the world as a whole was brighter, at the very least. I am now three years out of love and my view of the world is filled with bird shit on the windshield that wasn’t there before. Turns out though, that most of the time I prefer the bird shit. It’s just those nasty moments before sleep where you can’t help but feel alone in the bed that is meant for two and only serves one. Those moments in time are easy to act out. I have memories of being alone that are from last night. Not a very far reach.

I’ll take it from another angle. My favorite love sense is touch, which is not my favorite life sense (smell, for those baby birds out there wondering.) The best way I can explain it is….Okay, here is a scenario.

You are in bed with your significant other. A person whose faults you’ve come to terms with. You wake up before them and they are facing the other direction. They moved a bunch during the night, hitting you in the face multiple times, but you love them so you resist the urge to beat them with a pillow in the dark. Their body figured out around 4am that it wanted to be the little spoon and it took that position against your will. That’s not the way you wanted to sleep, but you didn’t want to wake them up and you have to get up in a few hours anyway for something you don’t want to do, so you settle in as big spoon and fall back asleep. Now, you’re ass hole internal alarm wakes you up 10 minutes before the actual alarm goes off. You roll slightly to turn the future alarm off then your body rolls over to see their back. They didn’t put on a shirt the night before. It was warm when you two went to sleep. Now it’s cold and they are asleep but shivering. Their back is full of goose bumps. Your hand runs over their shoulder, feeling the bumps against your skin. The hair on their arms raise up to meet your touch. Their torso adjusts but they don’t wake up. You put your hand in between their shoulder blades and wait for your hand and their back to be the same temperature. Then you move your hand over to their arm to keep the part of their body the covers aren’t reaching warm and you watch the goose bumps fade away. You kiss the back of their neck and then slip out of bed as to not wake them. When you’re getting dressed they wake up and watch you without saying anything. Right as you’re about to leave they make fun of you for wearing that piece of clothing from your old life; the shirt or the shoes or the pants that scream “single and not trying to impress anyone.” Their reward for making fun of you is a kiss goodbye. You turn around halfway out the door and show them a tender spot on your face. “You did it again you know. I’m going to have a black eye and the entire world will know who did it. It was you, by the way. I don’t want to be coy about this, you beat me in your sleep, and I’m gonna hashtag the word beat when I tell Facebook what you’ve done.” Then they give you the finger and say “I love you” simultaneously.You say you love them too and now the rest your day is a countdown until you can love them in person again instead of looking in the mirror and poking your eye to remind yourself of how love is a particular kind of insanity that you can’t believe you’re lucky enough to be a part of.

That’s what love feels like to me. I can describe it in detail. I can act it out. But I can’t actually experience that moment right now.

Love is learning the shape of someone’s back.

Love is forgiving them for the terrible things they do in their sleep.

Love is learning the amount of noise you need to make to “accidentally” wake someone up before you leave for the day so that the last thing you do before you go is say goodbye. They will think it’s a coincidence it happens every time but it’s not. It’s only the byproduct of you not being able to live with the thought of it not happening.

Also sometimes, I mix up forgetting something with wanting something.