klugulablog

Prepare to face the ultimate boredom...
an ongoing description of my life, loves, thoughts, fears, work and lustings.

Monday, December 14, 2020

2021 To-Do List Extravaganza!

'tis the season once more.  And so, let me take a little breather and check up on my progress in 2020.  Does it matter that this was one of the weirdest, most stressful and oddball years of my lifetime?  I think not.  I've been running under the belief that this has been my most productive writing year EVER, but this recap will certainly tell the ultimate tale.

So let's get right into it, as we look at each of 2020's items on the "to-do list extravaganza", and how it all turned out!

1) Finish Rope-A-Dope: the feature script I've been working on with my friend Motown.  With a plan to call it "done" by the end of January, 2020, I can anticipate tabs for 2nd, 3rd and 4th drafts.  Currently, there are no plans for a reading or to submit to festivals/competitions. 

How did it go?  This is a big old DONE!  Motown and I continued to work on this, pre-pandemic/quarantine, and met up in person to finish up our final draft (only weeks before lockdown began).  We're keeping our eyes/ears peeled for potential interest on this piece.  So happy to add this completed script to my list of spec scripts.

2) Finish Trip Having begun another feature script of my own (Trip) late in 2019, I'll put this on 2020's list.  Tabs will include the usual multiple drafts, out to readers, reading/reading prep.

How did it go?  DONE!  I had a virtual reading, completed several drafts, including the all-important "final" draft.  This marks completion of my 12th feature spec script -- sometime in April of this year!

3) Trip to Festivals:  The usual tabs for these tasks.  And as is the norm, I'll plan to submit to at least 5 festivals/competitions.

How did it go?  DONE!  I've already been selected for 6 film festivals/competitions, with a few more to still hear from.  Trip also marks the most entries EVER for one of my scripts.  Throw enough s*** at the wall, something's gotta stick, right?

4) Complete 1st draft of SCRATCHER:  Considering I didn't make my 2019 goal of 40k words on this (my first novel), this goal could prove to be quite a monumental undertaking.  But, I've got a whole damned year to make it happen.  So on the list it goes!  This will require ONE tab on my board

How did it go?  FAIL.  I don't quite recall, but I don't believe I did ANY work on this.  So, hopefully, 2021 will see some serious work on this novel-in-the-works.

5) Complete ESP:  This is the feature script collaboration with my buddy Scott.  While we don't yet have a first draft, I've proposed to him that we have the script out to readers by the end of the first quarter in 2020.  Even if that doesn't come to fruition (it's a bold goal), as long as this piece is "done" by year's end, I'll be ecstatic.  Tabs will include the usual multiple drafts, out to readers, reading/reading prep, etc.  Unsure of festival/competitions for this piece, so will not place that on the list or in the tabs.

How did it go?  FAIL.  Not that this didn't see some good, productive work, but finding time to align schedules, proved to be a block to getting this one done.  Not even a first draft yet, I plan to make this a high priority in 2021.

6) Move Penelope's Site:  Putting this on the goal list again, as it needs to be completed.  Frankly, I believe this will end up being less work than anticipated... meaning, once it's done, I'll wonder why it took so long.  (see explanation from last year's list, above).  One tab needed for this.

How did it go?  FAIL.  I've realized that moving this over to give my friend Penelope total control, would require more work than just keeping it up for her, adding items, updating, etc. as needed.  So not a "fail" per se, just a better understanding of time management.

2020 tab board!  Empty pins equal completed tasks!

7) Passports Renewed:  It seems this next item on the list -- is a recurring one for years.  And seemingly one of the more simple ones to actually complete.  I need to get my passport renewed.  What are the chances of some international travel in 2020?  Who knows, but for heavens' sake, I need to be prepared, right?  So back on the list it goes.  One tab needed for this.

How did it go?  FAIL.  Obviously, any and all intended international travel was put on the back burner.  Can't imagine why.  We'll see if this might be an option in 2021!

8) 30k Words on ISLAND HUNTERS: Mentioned above, my second idea for a novel, tentatively titled "Island Hunters" saw an initial inspiration and some beginning work (a bit of writing and brainstorming) in 2019.  My hope is to have a completed first draft of the other novel idea in my head, so for Island Hunters, I'm going to shoot for 30k words written in 2020.  Do-able, but with so many other projects, we'll simply have to see how it goes.  One tab needed for this.

How did it go?  DONE!  I put a lot of work into this project, in the first half of the year.  While I surpassed the 30k words, I've not looked at this piece in at least 5 months.  Hoping to get a first draft of this novel-in-the-works in 2021!  It'll definitely be back on 2021's list! 

9) Read 12 Books:  Made my goal of 10 books read, in 2019.  So gonna up the ante and make it ONE book per MONTH.  How ever will I achieve this?  Tee hee.  Obviously 12 tabs on the board for this task.

How did it go?  Currently at 9 books read.  I mean, I still have 2.5 weeks left in the year to complete three more books.  Do-able, but will leave this unmarked at press (either Done or Fail).

10) Movie Franchise Screenings:  Since my "see every Oscar Best Picture winner, yet unseen" task failed so miserably in 2019, I figured I'd try something else, seemingly more prone to find completion by year's end.  I'm tasking myself to update my education in several well known movie franchises.  Many of these, I've seen a good chunk.  Some I've seen only one.  Bottom line, fill in the gaps on these series.  I'm going to put 10 different series on the board.  The goal is to revisit those I know or have seen, and move into all of the sequels/prequels, etc. which (til now) are foreign to me.  10 tabs, 10 franchises.  Franchises on the list:  The TerminatorThe MatrixAlienPredatorJames Bond (a frigging massive undertaking), Back to the FutureGhostbustersIndiana JonesPirates of the CaribbeanRocky.

How did it go?  FAIL.  I just never made it.  You'd think that with all of the time in quarantine, that we'd have passed this with flying colors.  Of all of these, we revisited the original The Matrix, and never even got to the sequels.  This is a major fail.  Ugh.

11) First Draft of Screenwriter:  A brand new feature script idea, which came to me at the tail-end of the year.  I am hoping to get at least a first draft in on this baby.  One tab.

How did it go?  FAIL.  I barely even remember what this potential script was about.  Not one word, one minute spent on this piece.

12) Three Acting Gigs:  While I've not been pursuing much in the acting world as of late, I'll put this back up there, in the hopes that some fun opportunities will arise.  Three tabs for this goal.

How did it go?  DONE!  I shot two short films in quarantine, for other folks.  I also shot my short film Chair (it's in post) and did a few cold virtual readings and rehearsed virtual readings.  Happy to say I did quite a bit on the acting end during this year.

13) 5 Projects for KSC:  My script consulting business (Klugula Screenplay Consulting - as mentioned above), created in the first half of last year.  I'm going to get back into promoting it and will plan to complete at least 5 editing/consulting gigs within 2020.  Five tabs.

How did it go?  FAIL.  I did three total "test run" gigs for folks, but did not make the intended five goal.

14) Physical/Mental Health:  While not easy to quantify success, I believe if I continue in my current therapy, continue my daily exercise, and potentially introduce some smarter eating habits in 2020, that'd be a success.  I'm not getting any younger, and with "the diabeetus" ever-present in my life and my body, continued steps toward healthier living, can only benefit me.  Let's do it!

How did it go?  DONE!  I finished therapy with one therapist, and started chatting with a new one.  While my diet is still a never-ending battle, my exercise has continued.  I've also taken to (almost) daily meditations to try and keep my anxiety at bay.  While not "cured" by any means, I feel like I've taken adt'l steps to being physically and mentally healthier!

15) Complete Bear:  Inspired by an in-person visit with an old friend and former co-worker, this supernatural thriller (a feature screenplay idea) should be a hoot to tackle.  The usual tabs here: multiple drafts, register with WGA, reading/reading prep, out to readers, etc.

How did it go?  FAIL.  While this script saw some work in the first half of the year, I didn't even get to a completed first draft.  Back on the list for 2021!

16) Bear to Festivals:  As usual, plan for 5 festival/competition entries for Bear, so five tabs on the board.

How did it go?  FAIL.  Obviously, since the script was unfinished, no festival entries took place.

17) South Dakota Trip:  It's been discussed, that we'll return to my homeland for my eldest niece's high school graduation in the summer of 2020.  Hoping for another epic road-trip to SD (36 days), as we did in 2017.  Lots of planning to be done here (if the stars align for it to come to fruition).  One tab.

How did it go?  FAIL.  Um.  World-wide pandemic much?  No massive road trip, but what we had planned was a real barn-burner!  Next year, maybe?  Won't count those chickens before they've hatched.

18) Produce The Chair:  See notes above.  I don't think this will be such a massive undertaking, that it'll elude me for the second year in a row.  Many tabs for this one (pre-production, production, post, etc.), but putting it out into the universe to find completion.  And since I plan to act in this piece, that could be an adt'l tab off the board from the "Three Acting Gigs" task above!  Bonus!

How did it go?  DONE!  So, this is not technically completed, as I've done no work in post.  However, pre-production and actual shooting are done, and that's no small feat.  Which means, I'm gonna give myself a little leeway and chalk this up to success (despite post-production still looming -- that'll be on next year's list!)

19) Completed Unknown Screenplay: Since there were some write-for-hire screenwriting gigs in 2019, and since I always find other script ideas to pursue, I'll make this group of tasks as generic as possible.  I'm going to put in for five tabs -- for five drafts of ANY script (not already specifically listed above).  This could be one of my own, or one which I will (note "WILL") be hired to write in 2020.

How did it go?  DONE!  I conceived of and completed a feature script called Boys in 2020.  Inspired by something I "saw" in a daily meditation, I started this one in May and completed all steps in September.  It's already out to over a dozen script competitions/festivals, with 2 acceptances already!  Much, much more on this project in 2021!

20) Mom Died Rewrites/Steps:  While there is no promise that this project will move ahead in 2020, by placing this here, I'm telling the universe that I'm ready, willing and able to do adt'l work on this piece.  So I'll put "Mom Died Project #1" and so on on the tabs.  This could include rewrites, but any potential steps for this script, will warrant taking a tab down.  I'll do five total, and hope against hope that Mom Died moves up the ladder in the new year.

How did it go?  DONE!  I'm calling this one good.  I teamed up with Canadian filmmaker, Audrey Cummings and we're developing the piece for potential production.  With that, I've done three rewrites on the piece over 2020.  High hopes that this will move ahead in 2021!  Yay!

And so, here's the wrap-up for 2020:  10 DONES (if I make my 3 more books read in the next 2 weeks)!  That means 10 FAILS.  But that's not too shabby, considering how past years have added up!

And, as is the case in prior years, I simply must make note of my other accomplishments (which were not foreseen at press for last year's to-do list).

  • Was hired to pen a feature script.  I've completed two drafts of that piece thus far and am awaiting producer's notes.  There will be more work on this in 2021.
  • I was also hired for another feature piece.  Right now, working on a treatment with the producers, before moving into the writing of the script itself.  More work on this in 2021 as well!
  • Began writing a new feature script called, "A Stench in the Nostrils of God".  At press, I've got about 70 pages on a first draft!
  • Wrote a short 5-page film called Immolation, which I intend to self-produce/direct in 2021.
  • Filmed several video pitches for some of my feature scripts.  Inspired by a "Virtual Pitch Challenge" at ISA, where my pitches for Boys and for Trip both landed finalist placement, I ended up doing pitches for other scripts, beyond the ones I entered.
  • To relieve boredom for myself and others during quarantine, I created "Klugula Reads His Classics", where I took old writing pieces (from all the way back to age 10) and recorded 5-minute (or so) episodes, daily for 50 days!
  • I joined my friends Joel and Ryan for multiple episodes of their long-running podcast, "The Movie Show with Joel & Ryan".
  • Was interviewed for "Voyage LA", regarding my business, Klugula Screenplay Consulting.
  • Made the decision to move ahead -- planning to produce/direct my script (mentioned above) Boys.  Very preliminary plans are already underway.
  • Speaking w/ friends Hank and Arielle, we've decided to work on a new script together, for potential production in the latter part of 2021.  I've written about 10 pages on that piece, tentatively titled, You Can Never Go Home.
  • Wrote a few articles/reviews for Tom Holland's Terror Time.  Still keeping that "film criticism" muscle toned up where I can!
  • Started work on a new feature script (got about 10 pages down) called Say Uncle!

So with all of that (again, a pretty productive 2020, considering!), here's my "To-Do List Extravaganza" for 2021!

1) Finish Bear.  Putting all of this in one number.  This will include the usual multiple drafts, reading prep, reading, protection w/ the WGA, reader's notes and festival entries.  I think I've got about 30 pages done on this, so a solid start!

2) Finish A Stench in the Nostrils of God.  Same thing here: multiple drafts, notes, protection, reading, festival entries, etc.

3) Finish a first draft of Island Hunters.  I don't expect to get beyond that point, but a first draft of a novel would be a massive writing milestone.  I think it's totally do-able over the next 52 weeks!

4) Finish a first draft of Say Uncle!  I like this idea, but with all of the other major projects, I figure this will take a back-seat at some point.  So if I can at least finish a first draft, that's a great start!

5) Finish ESP.  If Scott and I can get our schedules aligned, I want to put this one to bed.  It's a great idea, but we've gotta commit to push ahead.  So this is multiple drafts, reading/notes, etc.  Not sure of festival entries, so I'll just put up tabs for five of those!

6) Immolation Pre-production, shoot, post-production and potential festival entries on this short film I wrote.  I'll be directing/starring/producing.  Make it work!

7) Finish / Post-Production on Chair.  Since this was shot in the summer of 2020, and I've taken my sweet time to edit, etc. in post, this carries over to 2021!  Potential festival entries?  Depends on the finished quality, of course!

8) Finish first draft of Scratcher.  This has been and will continue to be a daunting task.  With no work done on this in 2020, asking a lot to make this big milestone, but you never know!

9) Unexpected Screenplay.  As I've been doing over the past few years, setting aside a non-descript "unexpected screenplay", since ideas come out of nowhere, and can't be foreseen at press.  So the usual drafts. reading, protection, festivals, etc.

10) Boys I will continue to submit this piece to festivals, and will begin work in a "soft" pre-production... shot lists and the like.  I'll fill out this list as I make up this year's tabs.  Lots of things that can be done on this project, before we "for real" move ahead to make it!  Multiple tabs.

11) Finish Hired Gig #1.  This is the script I mentioned above (a hired gig which came to me in the second half of 2020).  Plan to complete this with intentions to submit to production companies for consideration.  Multiple tabs.

12) Finish You Can Never Go Home.  This will be the usual multiple drafts, reading, protection, etc.  Won't plan to submit this to festivals, as the intent is to produce it with Hank and Arielle.  Multiple tabs.

13) Finish the Hired Piece #2.  Plans to complete this other hired gig.  To keep it purposely vague, will put this down for 4 total steps/tabs.  Four tabs.

14) Three Acting Gigs.  As in previous years, will hope to have a few acting gigs fall into my lap.  Goodness knows I'm not seeking them out via auditions!  Three tabs.

15) Three KSC Gigs.  Hoping to again drum up some business for my screenplay consulting business.  Will work toward three paid gigs on that front!  Three tabs.

16) COVID Vaccine.  Not work related, but gonna put this on the list!  A wonderful milestone, right?  One tab.

17) Read 12 Books.  Gonna shoot for this again, since it's only 1 book/month for goodness sakes.  Hoping to really focus on Stephen King and filling in those gaps!  Twelve tabs.

18) Mom Died I'm not sure how/where this will go in 2021, but gonna put 3 tabs up on the board, as "Step One", etc... keeping it vague.  I figure there will be work on this in the new year, but not sure on specifics.  Three tabs.

19) First Draft of The House Up the Street.  This is a big ask of myself, but putting together and self-publishing a collection of my short stories (from age 10 and up) is a long-standing dream I'd like to accomplish.  No time like the present, right?  And I've found a website where doing this in chunks is possible, making it more feasible to handle a few stories a day.  Multiple tabs - making it 10 tabs of 10 stories each.  One helluva start if I can get 100 pieces committed to the computer!

20) First Draft of ULIFTB.  A book idea I've had for some time, I reached out to a dear friend and writing colleague to potentially work on it with me.  She agreed, so we're gonna move ahead on it in 2021!

ADDITION AFTER INITIAL POSTING:  21) Record Video Pitches.  I recorded several video pitches in 2020, for my spec scripts, and so I will continue to mark those off of my list, including some expected completed scripts in 2021.  So that's 6 total in the new year (4 completed scripts and 2 new ones!) So 6 tabs for this group of tasks.

ADDITION AFTER INITIAL POSTING: 22) Video Profile Shoot.  I joined ISA (an online screenwriting community) and will be shooting/posting a video profile in the new year as well.  One tab for that!

And that's the big list for 2020!  Not sure if I missed any biggies, or if I neglected to mention all of my 2020 accomplishments, but overall -- happy w/ this year and have very high hopes for a fresh start in 2021!

Happy Holidays, everyone!


Monday, November 16, 2020

A Eulogy for Michael Klug

Hey friends.  I took part in a virtual weekend retreat over the past three days.  It was conceived of and brought to fruition by my college chum, Dayna.  It was about "Personal System Disruptions" and included frank talk, goal-focusing, meditation and what your legacy might be.  Part of that last bit, included creating a eulogy for yourself... part fiction / part fantasy.  But all about what you wanted people to remember about you.  In essence, what do you want your legacy to be, and what do you have to change to make that a reality?

So.  It was my favorite part of the retreat weekend, and as the other eight attendees shared their eulogies, it certainly became a very emotional and touching session (the final of six sessions).  Intimate and vulnerable, but enlightening.

But before I share my eulogy (which was a great joy to conceive of, write and then share), please check out my friend Dayna's website.  It's all about her personal journey, in light of some very trying times for her and her husband, over the past year or so.  And so she wants to help people, with ideas like "disrupting their personal systems"... indeed, challenging the status quo in our lives and reaching high and far to achieve dreams, both old and new.  But what's standing in your way?  Lots of questions we need to ask ourselves.

https://extraordinaryextraordinary.com/

Keep an eye out for Dayna's upcoming retreats.  I was part of the maiden voyage and I highly recommend it.

And now, here's my eulogy, as shared with the group:

If there’s one thing you should know, or remember about Michael Klug, it’s that he loved zombies.

Zombie movies. Zombie toys. Zombie books. Zombie video games. Zombie apocalypses – real (remember 2035, jeepers!) or imagined.

At an early age, via exposure to the horrific visions of filmmaker, George A. Romero – Michael set out on his lifelong love of horror, and specifically, that of the walking dead.

It informed his nightmares, his writing, his career, his friendships and yes, even his love-life (don’t ask).

Via an undefined, primal fear of flesh-eating monsters, Michael found out who he was. He then embraced this fandom, took it beyond just a hobby and stalwartly followed that path into the darkness of monsters.

The trajectory of his writing and his life (his first short story, completed at age 10, was a piece entitled “House of the Dead”) was simply never in question.

What did evolve from that initial interest, was his recognition, like that discovered many years prior, by Mr. Romero – that the zombies and the physical danger they presented, were wholly incidental to the problems humanity creates for itself – in family dysfunction, civil unrest and poor communication. It was never the fault of the zombies – they were just following deeply-ingrained instincts to consume. It was the humans and their faults which always led to their downfall.

By telling these stories of families and their unhealthy relationships, against the backdrop of mindless, shambling corpses overtaking the world, he discovered his own shortcomings, his own neuroses and his own personal obstacles. Certainly, these writings were a form of self-therapy, but ultimately – these decades of work in the writing field, opened his mind and eyes to the fact that he was no different from his fellow humans: Damaged, but not beyond repair. But those necessary repairs, would not come easy.

So as we stand over Michael’s grave on this blustery fall afternoon, to say our final farewells – make note of the fact that those muted knocks from within this casket – are nothing to worry about, for it was Michael’s last wish that he be the very first human to actually return as one of the undead. That’s why cremation was simply not an option.

But have no fear. He won’t be out to feast on your flesh, or to pry into your skull for some juicy brains. No – he just wants to add some additional time to his clock of existence to watch more zombie films, to pay further tribute at the altar of Mr. Romero, and to take some adt’l deep dives into his own zombie fiction, now armed with amazing insights into the real thing.

At his life’s end, and at this new beginning, we sturdily place Michael on the same pedestal as his former idol. Taking the lead from Mr. Romero many years after Romero’s sad demise, and continuing Romero’s legacy of the undead and making it his own, Michael made flesh-eaters personal (in every sense of the word) and single-handedly revived this long “dead” horror subgenre.

Michael… as you stand there side by side with George in the murky haze of “are we or aren’t we dead?”, we know that you will – at the same level of productivity, ingenuity and adoration as George – shamble off together into the sunset, “brain”-storming some new ideas about how best to dispatch a zombie and welcoming the next generation of zombie artists, undead experts and flesh-eater fans.

Michael leaves us for this new chapter, having won two Oscars (one of which was the first ever for a zombie film), three Golden Globes, a handful of BAFTA’s and a Pulitzer for zombie literature (a new categorization to accommodate the ever-expanding “zombie storytelling” movement, which he worked tirelessly to grow).

We wish his widower well, as he deals with the daily dusting of their houseful full of collectibles and the reorganization of their palatial home to allow this “differently-abled” Michael easier access.

And one final reminder, fellow mourners. When you see him, please don’t shoot Michael in the head. He’s just trying to remain productive.

Rest in your new undead flesh, Michael.





Thank you again, Dayna.


Friday, May 15, 2020

My Favorite Bathroom in the World

This is not my photo, but is an image directly across from "my favorite bathroom in the world".
I've posted on my "Cheap Therapy" blog about my ongoing "poo anxiety".  That phobia (for which I actually saw a psychiatrist for a time) which gives me deep and overwhelming anxiety, in "no-escape" scenarios (in traffic, as an example) where I believe I might crap my pants, and must then deal with the fallout of potential panic attacks, related to said anxiety.

While it's never actually happened (knock on wood), it's something I continue to deal with.  Although, in the current pandemic/quarantine, it's become less of an issue, as I'm at home, going out only once every two weeks for supplies.  There's simply no place or necessity for this particular phobia at this time.  That being said, these infrequent trips to the grocery store in this "new normal", still sees some bits of "poo anxiety", and perhaps at a more heightened level.  I mean, with businesses closed, there are far fewer "pit stops" available, should the need arise to expel my bowels, right?  No winning, here.

I was reminded of my favorite public restroom in the world (the little that I've explored), when the announcements began to pour in that Vegas, and indeed, some of the Caesars properties were preparing to slowly/safely reopen.

Having dealt with my "poo anxiety" for so many years now, it's become clear that places like malls or amusement parks, and indeed casinos - are a safe haven for my ridiculous (but very real) poo anxieties.

And that clearly comes from the fact that bathrooms in such large public places are at a premium.  If I feel the need to go #2, there's a restroom every three steps.

I have honestly come to the conclusion that this is one of the main reasons why I so adore my time on the Las Vegas strip.  Yes, I love gambling, people-watching, the Vegas vibe.

But is it even more important that I don't have to focus on the needs of my bowels in a public place?

Anyway, I wanted to share these insights about my favorite bathroom in the world (per the entry's title).

One of the traditions my other half and I follow while in Vegas -- whether we're staying at Flamingo, Harrah's, Bally's, Planet Hollywood, Paris, Caesar's Palace, Cromwell or Linq (we're strictly Caesar's property folks, cuz that's where we get the freebies and the deals) -- almost every morning of our stay, we'll frequent the Denny's on the strip (w/in Casino Royale) for breakfast.  And yes, I do so love Denny's coffee, and it's a cheap meal.

Part of our tradition, following breakfast, is to walk across the strip to and past The Mirage and make our way to The Forum Shops for a little browsing/buying -- it's also a tradition that I'll stop at the Magnet Maximus and pick up three fun/goofy magnets (part of that shop's ongoing deals) to further expand that collection in my home.

As we work our way through The Forum Shops, it's inevitable that my morning Denny's coffee, will put my bowels into high alert.  It's a common reaction to coffee, yo.

So rather than take advantage of the many public restrooms stuck in among the high end shops, I'll try and hold it.  Because once we cross over from The Forum Shops into The Forum Casino of Caesar's Palace - I'm but a few steps away from my favorite bathroom in the world.

Directly across from The Colosseum, situated between several banks of slot machines and bill-changers, there's a sign proclaiming, "Restrooms".  But where?  Well, they're on the level below the casino.  An up escalator and a down escalator.  No stairs.  Once you reach that lower level, you'll pass by a shoe-shine stop.

And inside (the men's room, at least), the stalls are set apart from the urinals and sinks.  And generally, it's never terribly packed.

I find an immense sense of relief as I sit my butt down on the toilet.  And not just because I can "let go", but there's a glorious sense (I've experienced it countless times while using this particular restroom) of anticipation, relaxation and excitement.

Weird?  Sure, but here's why.

It's usually at this point, as I descend the escalator, that the other half and I will part ways for the day.  He likes to walk the strip, while I like to stay inside and wander the properties, gambling here and there, shopping, etc.  Knowing that we'll meet up later for an early dinner at The Laurel Lounge in Caesar's Palace.

But as I sit there on the head, I love the fact that the day will take me where it takes me.  It's a calm, non-busy restroom.  My wallet's full of cash (generally, dependent upon how I did at the slots the night before).  The entire day of gambling and wandering is ahead of me.

It must be noted that if we have obligations in the form of meeting someone else for dinner, or going to see a show (I HATE obligations in Vegas), that there is some anxiety.  I want to wander the strip, all day, every day.  Sure, I love the shows, but knowing that if I find a slot machine that pays and I wanna sit there for hours, that I can.

The relaxation I feel while sitting on the toilet of that bathroom on the lower level of The Forum Casino in Caesar's Palace - is just the best feeling.

Hard to explain, apparently.  But this is my favorite bathroom in the world, and my favorite moments of relaxation, in my anxiety (poo and otherwise) filled mind/brain/life.

And yes, in this quarantine, I'm ITCHING to go back to Vegas, to this oddly relaxing environment, and to my favorite bathroom in the world.

I won't be making a trip to Vegas anytime in the near future, but knowing that Vegas and indeed this bathroom, are ultimate relaxers -- sure makes it seem like bliss right now.


Saturday, December 28, 2019

2020 To-Do List Extravaganza!


It's that time again already?  Sheesh!

As is always the case, let's examine my entire 2019 list -- figure out the high successes and the lowly failures.  Obviously, with my patented tab board, I have a good idea on my progress throughout the year, but as 2019 comes to a close, all will be revealed.

So here are my last year's tasks, followed by a brief explanation as well as a stamp of "FAIL" or "DONE".  Let's do it!

1) "Sid's Apple Rewrite (s)" -- In anticipation of completion of my 10th feature spec script in 2019, I have been toying with the idea of marking that milestone, by returning to my very first screenwriting experiment, the feature spec "Sid's Apple".  It's near and dear to my heart, but I've not revisited it in a long time.  Which means, I've developed significantly as a writer since I first started on that project about 15 years ago.  So I've no doubt it's gonna be rough as hell!  But I do still believe in the story itself.  And I loved the characters.  I'm putting this on my list -- to include on the "tabs board", the usual.  But since it's already past the multiple drafts arena, I'll reckon it needs 3 drafts to bring it up to speed.  This includes one new rewrite, out to readers for notes, one adt'l rewrite (post notes) and then a reading (as well as the planning stages) and then a final rewrite before submissions to festivals.

How did it go?  Yeah.  No.  Nothing.  No need to discuss this one any further.  Stamp it with a big ol' FAIL.  With all of the other projects I see happening in 2020, I think Sid's Apple will remain safely in retirement.

2) "Sid's Apple" to Festivals -- I submitted the script way back when, to one lone festival (it got nowhere).  This will be a fun experiment.  Looking forward to it -- anticipating 5 festival entries for this property.


How did it go?  Well, based on #1's fail, I certainly would not be entering festivals with a script which received no attention, right?  FAIL.

3) Unnamed Project -- This was heavy on my list in 2018, and will hopefully continue to receive attention in the new year.  I've no confirmation on that, and certainly can't discuss details -- but I'm putting it on the "tabs board" for an adt'l 5 vague steps -- listed simply as "Unnamed Project Step 1" and so on, as I obviously don't know exactly how many incarnations (if any) may materialize.  Hopefully this exciting write-for-hire gig will come to full fruition in 2019.

How did it go?  This project saw no action, but not due to me.  The "biz" is a slow one, for sure.  While I am still in contact with the producers, this piece didn't move ahead in 2019.  So will let this one rest, until the time comes for it to explode in great successes!  However, FAIL

4) Passports Renewed -- As in previous years, this has been on the back burner.  This year, it must get done (hopefully because it has to -- see #3 on the to-do list).

How did it go?  Nope.  FAIL.

5) Produce "The Chair" -- This is a short story/monologue I wrote and performed in high school.  I've often looked back on it with great pride.  And I think, with some reworking, it could make a helluva short film.  So with multiple steps (including rewrites, pre-production, production and post -- as well as potential festival entries), this will be a big project in 2019.  I plan to produce and act in the one-man piece (I've a director in mind and have already reached out -- there is interest).  Fingers crossed.  This could be an interesting process.  And goodness knows I need the experience and the reel fodder.

How did it go?  While I chatted with two producer/director friends, even did some rewrites on the piece, it did not come to fruition.  Perhaps in 2020, it'll find its way to done, but for 2019, FAIL.

6) The Costume People -- As this was optioned in 2018, and 3 adt'l rewrites completed (as well as a second table read), I'm hoping this will come to fruition in 2019.  And since there will be dozens and dozens of steps involved, I'll have to figure a smart way to put it up on the "tabs board".  Perhaps several vague "Step 1", and so on.  We'll see.  But I have a feeling The Costume People will be a high priority in the new year!


How did it go?  Sadly, the piece was not re-optioned (that was a possibility) and remains un-produced.  But, if you are interested (my avid readers of 4), it's once again available to option/buy!  :)  FAIL.

7) New Feature Spec Completed -- As is my new smart way to tackle this, I'll not suggest any particular property to be done.  Whatever strikes my fancy... that's the way to go.  And so on the "tabs board", we'll have the usual multiple drafts, out to readers for notes, prep for reading, reading, etc

How did it go?  Rousing success on many fronts.  My 10th feature spec, Mom Died was completed (many drafts) and protected.  I held a reading and the script was done by mid-year.  DONE.

8) New Feature Spec Script to Festivals -- Whichever script this turns out to be, planning for 5 festival entries.

How did it go?  I submitted to several festivals, and am pleased to say that I placed in five separate festivals/competitions.  Official Selection at FilmQuest, Semi-Finalist at Screamfest, Semi-Finalist at Table Read My Screenplay: Austin, Top 13 Finalist at Nightmares Film Festival -- and I'm thrilled to say that I WON the Horror Genre competition at Creative Screenwriting.  While I've placed in several competitions over the years, I've never actually WON something, so this was another screenwriting milestone.

Also on the Mom Died front, it's out to several interested producers at the moment.  High hopes mixed with realistic expectations -- swirling about right now.  Fingers crossed that Mom Died will make some progress toward a sale and eventual production in 2020.  DONE.

9) 2nd New Feature Spec Completed -- Since I'm taking journalism and film criticism off of my plate, there's absolutely no reason that I can't complete 2 (that's TWO) feature scripts within the one year.  And so #9 here, is an exact replica of #7 above. 

How did it go?  While I worked on two adt'l features (both collaborations), and made some good headway, I did NOT complete a second feature script (see notes below on my progress on those two pieces).  But as far as "completed", that's a FAIL.

10) 2nd New Feature Spec Script to Festivals -- Whichever SECOND script this turns out to be, planning for 5 festival entries.

How did it go?  No completed script, no festivals.  FAIL.

11) Lose another 20 lbs. -- I've done quite well in 2018, including a steady stream of workouts beginning at the year's mid-point.  Of course, travel, sickness and schedules have not allowed me to be perfect all of this half year, but I've done quite well.  At press, I'm down to just below 190, and I think I could use a few more off of the old gut.  If I can get back to my semi-ingrained regiment, I would love to lose those last pounds, and then start building back up with some muscle.  I've so got this.

How did it go?  I didn't lose the pounds, but can't feel bad.  I've been working out practically everyday, since mid-2018.  I'm building muscle as well, which weighs more than flab, right?  So the fact that I didn't LOSE pounds -- well, I'm not gonna worry about it.  As is, I'm hovering right around 190 lbs. at the moment, so I'll take this as a win, although technically, it's a FAIL.

12) New Headshots -- Self-explanatory.  Old ones are now over 2 years old.  Make it so.

How did it go?  While I didn't get a complete session, I did get some lovely new shots from my buddy, Vanessa.  So, DONE.

13) Read 10 Books -- Shouldn't have to put this here, as it should be a given.  But I want to hold myself to it.  And with stress levels high this year (and my inability to handle it properly), I need some way to keep my blood pressure down.  And reading is an obvious escape.  So it finds its way onto this massive to-do list.

How did it go?  At press, I still have one book left to read, but will easily complete it before year's end.  Gonna repeat this one in 2020!  DONE.

14) 3 Acting Gigs -- While I only did one of the three acting gigs I wanted to -- in 2018, it was a feature film role and it was a blast.  So not gonna be too pissy about that.  :)  Three tabs on the board, three acting gigs in 2019 -- feature films, short films or stage plays.  It's all good.

How did it go?  One.  Only one.  And while I loved helping out my friend Katherine, with a small role in her new short, I literally was on set for probably half hour.  Still, it counts.  But, that is only one of three intended acting gigs.  Soooo... FAIL.

15) Watch All Best Picture Winners -- As I won't be reviewing films this year, I'd like to get back to watching movies for the simple pleasure of it.  I've going to attempt to watch every Best Picture Oscar winner (those I've not seen, of course) and fill in those gaps in my movie education.  Goodness knows HOW I'll work out these tasks on my patented tab board. 

How did it go?  All best intentions were laid.  I cut out tabs for each of the 48 films yet to be seen.  And when all was said and done, I watched FOUR of the 48 films.  While I'm thrilled to have seen classics and further educated myself cinematically, this is a giant FAIL.


16) 40k Words on "Scratcher" -- Putting this back on the list.  Would love to really push forward on this first novel.  Perhaps with no journalism on the to-do list, this might be more plausible.

How did it go?  Years past, this piece saw NO work of any kind.  While I ultimately didn't make this goal, I did put in a lot of work on this in 2019, writing almost 18,000 words over multiple chapters.  I filled out a lot of character histories and am getting a stronger idea of where the story is going, including working on an outline.  So happy to have done some work, but didn't reach 40k words.  So FAIL. But expect to see plenty of goals on this for 2020.


17) Book of Movie Reviews -- Depending on legalities/technicalities, I'd like to put together a physical book of my 400 or so reviews from the past 4 years.  It'd be relatively simple (he says now), since they're all written.  We'll see how this goes.  Not sure how I'd make my tabs for the board, as I don't have any idea of how many actual steps it might take.  And with my retirement from film criticism, this would be a good way to "bookend" this experience.  Ahem.

How did it go? 
Nothing.  Not sure this will ever see the light of day, based on potential legal questions.  No repeat on this for next year's list.  FAIL.

18) Apartment Updates -- We've been in our current apartment for close to a decade.  And there are things we can do to gussy it up a bit.  We're thinking about new tile in the kitchen and bathroom and perhaps some new carpet in the bedroom.  There are plenty of other things we want to do, so this task's presence on the "tabs board" might be wishy-washy.  We'll see how it develops.  Putting up 5 total tabs on my board -- for this arena.

How did it go?  Clocked in 4 of the 5 intended projects (took the tabs down), but missed the fifth and final.  But of course, plenty of other projects happened (one I wouldn't consider as "major").  But if I'm being technical, FAIL.

19) "House Up the Street" Update -- While there was some legit work done on this project in 2018, not near as much as I would have liked.  Putting this back on the list... will determine (down the road) how to handle the tabs.  It's all of my short stories and poetry, etc. from writings dating back to 1984.  I wanna put them all in one place!

How did it go?  Not even the slightest looky-loo at this massive project.  Remains to be seen if it'll find a spot on 2020's list.  FAIL.

20) Move Penelope's Site -- Didn't get to this in 2018, but must still work toward its completion.  I built and manage a website for actress Penelope Sudrow.  But I need to find a way to get it into her control, as I don't feel I have the time to give it the attention it requires.

How did it go?  Nope.  Didn't happen.  FAIL.  But expect to see this on 2020's list.

21) Home / House -- Still holding out hope that we'll be able to leave behind communal living and move into our own single family home.  Perhaps 2019 will be the year this happens.

How did it go?  Still in our same apartment, but the hope always remains that we'll find a more permanent and more separated living situation.  But, as seen above, we did do many improvements to our little corner of the world, so adt'l happiness there.  :)  FAIL.

22) International Travel -- Of course, I need to get the passport in order (see above).  I've never been anywhere, and my other half is a seasoned world traveler.  It's time to expand my world horizons.  Why not make it happen in 2019?

How did it go?  Plenty of travel in 2019, but nothing international.  Perhaps in 2020?  FAIL.

23) De-stress -- This is a bit enigmatic.  But it's become clear that I no longer handle stress well.  So I need to find a way to keep my blood pressure and neurotic worrying to a minimum.  Find a new way to meditate perhaps?  Or a new exercise regiment to include more calming yoga?  This remains to be seen, and certainly will be difficult to quantify come year's end -- whether success was reached or not -- but it's a necessary thing for me to take on in 2019.

How did it go?  I'm gonna mark this as DONE.  Reason being, I finally reached out to a mental health professional, to deal with my (sometimes) crippling anxiety.  While it was toward year's end when I finally began therapy, it's a beginning nonetheless.  While I'm not necessarily less-stressed (a big event happened toward year's end, which did a number on my already heightened anxieties), the fact that I'm trying to handle it and am receiving treatment -- it's a win.

NOT ON THE LIST, BUT OTHER STUFF I DID IN 2019:

But -- as is the norm for my To-Do List Extravaganzas, there are plenty of other projects (which I did not foresee at the year's start) which will need to be addressed and recognized.  Just because I didn't get some specifics done, doesn't mean I was lazing around (at least not all of the time!)  :)

In August, via a friend of a friend, I got a write-for-hire gig -- crafting a feature screenplay.  This entire process (contract negotiations, drafts, notes, etc.) took about three months.  Ultimately, I'm happy w/ how the script turned out, I was paid and completed three drafts.  Where it goes from here?  Well, we shall see.  Bottom line, I got paid to write an entire feature screenplay.  That's a career milestone for sure.

I spent a good deal of time on two feature screenplay collaborations (as mentioned above) -- throughout the year.  One with my friend Scott, and one with my friend Motown.  The script with Scott has seen a lot of action, but we're not yet close to a first draft.  The script with Motown, we've completed a first draft and are currently working draft two.  We're hoping for completion of this project, by the end of January 2020.  Expect to see BOTH of these projects on my 2020 task list!

Throughout the year, I reviewed a few films for Tom Holland's Terror Time (part of my "soft retirement" from film criticism) and was called back to Horror Freak News in October, to cover Screamfest for my 6th consecutive year.  I watched pretty much everything at the fest and wrote 9 articles to document it all.

I'm at the very bare beginnings of a new feature screenplay (currently titled "Bear") -- based on a story told to me by friend Liz.  This project will be on 2020's list.

I've also begun another feature screenplay called "Trip" (in the beginning of December).  This will also be on the task list for 2020.

I also had inspirations on several other writing projects, including an idea for another novel called Island Hunters (done a bit of writing and brainstorming) and the latest -- another feature script idea, pilfered from a detailed dream.

I was also contacted about another write-for-hire gig.  There have been discussions, but no contract as of yet.  I hope to see this come to fruition in 2020.

And finally, in 2019, I started a new business (creating the website, design, products, etc.) for Klugula Screenplay Consulting.  It's meant to offer feedback and script/story/editing services to writers, working on their feature or short screenplays.  While it's gotten good feedback, it's not exactly taken off.  But I plan to double down in 2020 and absolutely see it thrive.

End of 2019.  Empty pins = DONE.  
With all of this examination, I only came up with 5 "DONE" and the remainder of these tasks landed in the "FAIL" pile.  Wait, didn't I change "Fail" to "Undone" last year?  Hmmm... I'll be sure to make that the norm for 2021's list.  Sounds much nicer.

So with the 2019 recap, let's see what's in store for 2020.  (note: while I went over my usual 20 item quota in 2019, I plan to stick with the usual 20 items for this incarnation).

1) Finish Rope-A-Dope: the feature script I've been working on with my friend Motown.  With a plan to call it "done" by the end of January, 2020, I can anticipate tabs for 2nd, 3rd and 4th drafts.  Currently, there are no plans for a reading or to submit to festivals/competitions.  

2) Finish Trip Having begun another feature script of my own (Trip) late in 2019, I'll put this on 2020's list.  Tabs will include the usual multiple drafts, out to readers, reading/reading prep.

3) Trip to Festivals:  The usual tabs for these tasks.  And as is the norm, I'll plan to submit to at least 5 festivals/competitions.

4) Complete 1st draft of SCRATCHER:  Considering I didn't make my 2019 goal of 40k words on this (my first novel), this goal could prove to be quite a monumental undertaking.  But, I've got a whole damned year to make it happen.  So on the list it goes!  This will require ONE tab on my board.

5) Complete ESP:  This is the feature script collaboration with my buddy Scott.  While we don't yet have a first draft, I've proposed to him that we have the script out to readers by the end of the first quarter in 2020.  Even if that doesn't come to fruition (it's a bold goal), as long as this piece is "done" by year's end, I'll be ecstatic.  Tabs will include the usual multiple drafts, out to readers, reading/reading prep, etc.  Unsure of festival/competitions for this piece, so will not place that on the list or in the tabs.

6) Move Penelope's Site:  Putting this on the goal list again, as it needs to be completed.  Frankly, I believe this will end up being less work than anticipated... meaning, once it's done, I'll wonder why it took so long.  (see explanation from last year's list, above).  One tab needed for this.

7) Passports Renewed:  It seems this next item on the list -- is a recurring one for years.  And seemingly one of the more simple ones to actually complete.  I need to get my passport renewed.  What are the chances of some international travel in 2020?  Who knows, but for heavens' sake, I need to be prepared, right?  So back on the list it goes.  One tab needed for this.

8) 30k Words on ISLAND HUNTERS: Mentioned above, my second idea for a novel, tentatively titled "Island Hunters" saw an initial inspiration and some beginning work (a bit of writing and brainstorming) in 2019.  My hope is to have a completed first draft of the other novel idea in my head, so for Island Hunters, I'm going to shoot for 30k words written in 2020.  Do-able, but with so many other projects, we'll simply have to see how it goes.  One tab needed for this.

9) Read 12 Books:  Made my goal of 10 books read, in 2019.  So gonna up the ante and make it ONE book per MONTH.  How ever will I achieve this?  Tee hee.  Obviously 12 tabs on the board for this task.

10) Movie Franchise Screenings:  Since my "see every Oscar Best Picture winner, yet unseen" task failed so miserably in 2019, I figured I'd try something else, seemingly more prone to find completion by year's end.  I'm tasking myself to update my education in several well known movie franchises.  Many of these, I've seen a good chunk.  Some I've seen only one.  Bottom line, fill in the gaps on these series.  I'm going to put 10 different series on the board.  The goal is to revisit those I know or have seen, and move into all of the sequels/prequels, etc. which (til now) are foreign to me.  10 tabs, 10 franchises.  Franchises on the list:  The Terminator, The Matrix, Alien, Predator, James Bond (a frigging massive undertaking), Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, Rocky.

11) First Draft of Screenwriter:  A brand new feature script idea, which came to me at the tail-end of the year.  I am hoping to get at least a first draft in on this baby.  One tab.

12) Three Acting Gigs:  While I've not been pursuing much in the acting world as of late, I'll put this back up there, in the hopes that some fun opportunities will arise.  Three tabs for this goal.

13) 5 Projects for KSC:  My script consulting business (Klugula Screenplay Consulting - as mentioned above), created in the first half of last year.  I'm going to get back into promoting it and will plan to complete at least 5 editing/consulting gigs within 2020.  Five tabs.

14) Physical/Mental Health:  While not easy to quantify success, I believe if I continue in my current therapy, continue my daily exercise, and potentially introduce some smarter eating habits in 2020, that'd be a success.  I'm not getting any younger, and with "the diabeetus" ever-present in my life and my body, continued steps toward healthier living, can only benefit me.  Let's do it!

15) Complete Bear:  Inspired by an in-person visit with an old friend and former co-worker, this supernatural thriller (a feature screenplay idea) should be a hoot to tackle.  The usual tabs here: multiple drafts, register with WGA, reading/reading prep, out to readers, etc.

16) Bear to Festivals:  As usual, plan for 5 festival/competition entries for Bear, so five tabs on the board.

17) South Dakota Trip:  It's been discussed, that we'll return to my homeland for my eldest niece's high school graduation in the summer of 2020.  Hoping for another epic road-trip to SD (36 days), as we did in 2017.  Lots of planning to be done here (if the stars align for it to come to fruition).  One tab.

18) Produce The Chair:  See notes above.  I don't think this will be such a massive undertaking, that it'll elude me for the second year in a row.  Many tabs for this one (pre-production, production, post, etc.), but putting it out into the universe to find completion.  And since I plan to act in this piece, that could be an adt'l tab off the board from the "Three Acting Gigs" task above!  Bonus!

19) Completed Unknown Screenplay: Since there were some write-for-hire screenwriting gigs in 2019, and since I always find other script ideas to pursue, I'll make this group of tasks as generic as possible.  I'm going to put in for five tabs -- for five drafts of ANY script (not already specifically listed above).  This could be one of my own, or one which I will (note "WILL") be hired to write in 2020. 

20) Mom Died Rewrites/Steps:  While there is no promise that this project will move ahead in 2020, by placing this here, I'm telling the universe that I'm ready, willing and able to do adt'l work on this piece.  So I'll put "Mom Died Project #1" and so on on the tabs.  This could include rewrites, but any potential steps for this script, will warrant taking a tab down.  I'll do five total, and hope against hope that Mom Died moves up the ladder in the new year.

And there you have it, folks.  My laundry list of tasks on my annual To-Do List Extravaganza!  Hold me to it, and we'll check things out in just over 52 weeks!  Let's tear some tabs!

Have a safe, productive and fun 2020!



Saturday, October 12, 2019

The Final Sign That Theatre Etiquette is Truly Dead. RIP.

Well.  I should be working on reviews, but I simply have to get this off of my chest.

As many folks know, I'm covering Screamfest for Horror Freak News - for the sixth consecutive year.  It's a tradition, and I'm thrilled to be part of the Screamfest family.

It's become an epidemic of sorts, for bad behavior by movie-goers.  Talking, texting, looking at their phones, etc.  My other half (it's now become its own tradition at Screamfest and other festivals we usually attend) calls out folks who bring out their phones to check messages, etc., thus lighting up the darkened theatre - IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FILM.

Generally, folks will quickly hide their phones, give a quick passive-aggressive look in our direction (we always sit in the back - another tradition) and we all go on our merry ways for the remainder of the screening.

But tonight - after 5 years of attending film festivals - I experienced something brand new, as far as bad theatre etiquette.

We sat down for one of the feature films this evening.  Not a packed theatre, but an okay house.  We were again in our usual seats (phones off) and ready to fall into the world of the film.  This particular piece was one I had on my schedule as "I will review this one."

I think it was a total of three times we had to tell a group of people (we now know was cast/crew for the film being screened) to turn off their phones.  One person was admonished twice by my other half, and then a third time by myself (and my other half chiming in).  The usual backwards glances of anger (or whatever).

Look.  I get it.  This is your film.  You're celebrating your showing at Screamfest.  And I congratulate you.  Screamfest is a big deal and you made it.

But here are a few things I think should be kept in mind.

Isn't the old saying/belief that once you make your film, complete it and release it -- that it's no longer yours?  Isn't that true of all art destined for an audience?

The last straw for both my other half and I (yes, we left the film with probably 20 minutes remaining on the run-time) was when we called out a DIFFERENT person in the SAME group, for taking photos/video of the film.  This particular person got out of his seat, came up to us and explained that he was the film's DP (Director of Photography).  My other half quickly replied that we were press, there to review his film.  This person then quickly returned to his seat, and we left shortly thereafter - the experience ruined via our complete removal from the film and its story (by that point, how could we not be?)

The thing is, the cinematography of the film was actually quite good (no doubt it would have been praised had I watched the entire piece and then penned a review).  Having a screening experience of lovely vistas and riversides upset by the creator of said loveliness (because he had to take pictures of his -- what I'm assuming is -- completed film).  That's irony, right?  Hammered home in a big way.

And I can sort of understand (certainly not forgive) the general public for less-than perfect behavior in the cinema these days.  But the filmmakers themselves - who should certainly know better, or strive for better etiquette?  Frankly, this whole experience is mind-boggling.

I won't call out the film we walked out on, nor the film's cinematographer by name.  That's just not nice.  But c'mon - wouldn't you want press to have the best and ultimate experience, thus allowing them to get lost in your film and then write a glowing review to hopefully further your film's success?

And if that sounds like I'm touting the power of the press as being TOO powerful, then how about this?  Even if I'm just a regular viewer, who came in off the street to check out a film festival screening, perhaps on a whim, or for my first time.  What about that?  Good old-fashioned word of mouth (and subsequent social media praise from the people) - that's not bad, right?

I've been going to the theatres less and less, because of entitled behavior from other patrons.  But getting this kind of nonsense from a filmmaker at an elite festival screening?

Well, the chances of me returning to the cinema more frequently - have fallen yet again.

And of course: DISCLAIMER.  I in no way blame Screamfest or its amazing organizers and staff for any of this.  They're salt of the earth and awesome.  And before EVERY block, they do remind folks to turn off - AND KEEP OFF - their cell phones during the screenings.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Jealousy & Surface

"Jealousy is an ugly thing.  And so are you, in anything backless."
Sophia Petrillo to her daughter, Dorothy Zbornak.

I've gotten used to a healthy mixture of jealousy and pride when I see the accomplishments of so many of my creative friends.  There's always the "I'm so damned happy for you", but then the little tingle of "I wish that had been me".  I've grown accustomed to it and accept it.  It's part of my life in "the biz".  Perhaps unhealthy, but acceptable in my eyes.

But where my jealousy starts to go off of the rails -- is when I see happy, normal, well-adjusted family lives.

I simply don't have that -- although I had glimpses of it throughout my childhood.

And yes, I am aware that the photos and posts and lovey-dovey stuff we see, sometimes hides the true pain and resentment underneath.  People put up their best faces. 

But I don't even have the surface peace so many might enjoy.

Yes.  I've come to consider my other half as family.  And I try not to take him and our 20-year relationship for granted.  But my immediate family is so damned disjointed now, it's hard to believe that it was ever an actual unit -- if indeed, it actually was.

So many folks are dead now, or were never present in my formative years -- or in some cases -- both.

(this is all coming to a head because of my biological father's recent death -- and our lack of a relationship for the past 35 years).

I see happiness between multiple generations, and I crave it.  Have I been conditioned to want this, or believe that this is "the tops" as far as familial bonds?  Whatever it is, I find myself longing for such bonds.

Large family gatherings -- where we play cards, eat hearty, homecooked meals and listen to old stories from the past.

It's not as if I never had this -- there were years of happiness, but over the past two decades (was the death of our matriarch and my beloved grandmother, the beginning of the end?) -- things have dwindled, until I'm at my current point.  So many of my elders (both close and far) are dead now.  My relationship with my mother is nothing more than surface talk about the weather.  I love my siblings, but only speak to one of them on the regular.  I have little to no contact with extended family -- cousins, aunts, uncles -- outside of the surface connection that is social media.

I've been toying with the notion of writing my autobiography -- for many years now.  And it seems, with the emotional tolls I've been struggling with over the past week (between my father's death and my aunt's death today) -- that now might be a good time to dig into this quagmire of memories, resentment, joy, pain and everything in between.  I've got a lot to get off of my chest, which is why my working title on the autobiography is "Cheap Therapy".

But the point of this discussion, is the feeling of jealousy -- as I see friends with deep and seemingly strong connections with their elders, their cousins and most notably, their parents.  Pictures of a happy family (and all that this encompasses -- at least in my goody two-shoes brain) make me feel bad that my family is so broken, so disconnected and so beyond repair.

I can't discount the love and connection I have with so many chosen family members (friends with whom I share a bond) and of course, my husband. 

But the human mind and the emotions which inhabit it -- are strange things.  I can't just shut off this need for a larger family unit.  I had it, and apparently, I want it back.

"Cheap Therapy".  That's the name of the game here.  And even if I never actually tackle the ol' autobiography, and throw all of my dirty laundry up for everyone to see, marvel at and judge -- there's always this blog to let off some steam.

I'm glad your family units are wide and vast and healthy.  And of course, I don't wish anyone ill-will -- but I would love some of that over here, to share with me and my hubby.

PS.  Writing this on a half bottle of wine...

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

"Dad"

Just a matter of hours ago, I was informed by one of my cousins, that my biological father, Leland Klug, had died.

I posted a blurb of sorts -- over on Facebook, suggesting that a longer blog on the subject (this one here) was forthcoming... as there are a lot of things for me to process, in light of this news.

My mother and father divorced when I was just finishing up with first grade.  My older brother and I were put in the custody of our mother, and she moved us back to our hometown.

A very brief time later, my mother remarried and we moved across the state -- where I lived until I moved away post-college and in the early stretches of adulthood.  While not an ideal childhood overall (plenty of tales for another time), my stepfather was a great guy -- supportive, in every meaning of that word.  He was a good father, no question.

My biological father, however -- basically vanished after the divorce.  Child support payments ended, as did mail correspondence, phone calls and visits.

My older brother and I have the same final memory of face-to-face contact with our dad -- when he came to our new home on the other side of the state, picked us up for a week of touristing around The Black Hills -- all of this when I was in about 4th grade.  He lovingly called my stepfather, "Dead-Head Fred" (perhaps a good indication of the inappropriate things my brother and I were exposed to as children -- Yes, badmouth our new stepfather -- I'm sure that's good for kids to hear).

And that was the last time I saw this man in person.  What age is an average 4th-grader?  8?  I'm 45 now.  Quite a stretch.

There was an additional greeting card (hidden in a card from my paternal grandparents -- also had little contact with this entire side of the family following the divorce) when I graduated high school.  I recall breaking down at the sight of his unique, tell-tale penmanship, and then opening the card to see these well wishes from the man who had deserted us.  My best friend was thankfully with me when this all went down (thank you, Eric).  Clearly some issues with my missing father at that point in my life -- were unresolved. 

He always signed any correspondence with, "Love, P.W.K."  When I was a kid, he was always known as "Pee Wee".  Thus, Pee Wee Klug (PWK).

I have a hard time recalling much correspondence/contact with him throughout college and into my post-college years.  I know that he had remarried (Nell later died.  I had never met her or some step-siblings who exist).  The last time I recall actually talking to him (on the phone) was around 2003.  I had already been with my other half for a few years, and I don't recall the impetus for us getting into contact.  I wanna say it was good old-fashioned curiosity.  And I think that was it.  Of course, about a decade ago, I reconnected with my Uncle Stan (out of Tucson -- and my dad's older brother).  He was a bitter old gay man (i.e. an absolute hoot) and a writer as well.  My other half and I hit it off with him, and once we moved to Los Angeles, visited him frequently.  And I was reunited with my two aunts and some cousins -- whom I'd not seen in probably 40 years!  Last year, Uncle Stan died.

And there were mentions to me (and to my other half -- whispers as not to upset me) that Pee Wee wasn't doing well.  Lots of health issues (including the diabetes I have the pleasure of dealing with -- from both sides of my lineage, thank you very much).  But honestly, I figured there'd be a call when he had died, and that I would acknowledge the information and move on with my day.

After all, what connection do I have to this man?  He was never there for me.  I have memories of him up until the age of 8.  And he had failed to do his job (in practically every way, aside from siring me) as a father.

While I had developed a good relationship with Uncle Stan, and had totally mourned his passing -- what would my reaction be when I got that call that Pee Wee was gone?

Well, today, I can answer that question.

There were tears.  There was also anger.  Resentment.  Pain.  Confusion.

I barely knew this man, and here I was -- in sort of a whirlwind of emotions (which continue at the present moment).  Why should I care?  Why should I grieve?  He clearly didn't give two shits about me or my brother.

Is it a deeper, primordial response to your immediate ancestor's expiration?  Something buried inside of my brain which "knows" that he's gone?  After all, I wouldn't be who I am (biologically and via his absence) without him, right?

I don't like this feeling of helplessness -- as far as properly (and finally) defining what I'm feeling.

Of course, I called my older brother with the news, and we had a long conversation.  Obviously, I won't discuss his thoughts, as that's not my place.  But I can begin a basic understanding that "I (we) was short-changed" -- for so many reasons.  No contact with the complete other side of my family, no relationship with the man (sperm-donor) who helped create me.  Growing up feeling (knowing) that my own father didn't want anything to do with me?  Who does that?  And what does that understanding (to a fucking 8 year old) do to a kid and his psyche and his sense of worth?

I know there are probably other factors which were at play while I was growing up.  And there are too many of those "what if's" to go through at this venue.  But the fact that there are still "what if's" at all -- is a problem.

I'll never have all of the answers.  But I hope (as my brother said) that there will be some sort of closure (albeit, never 100% complete -- there simply can't be now).

I guess I secretly wished that one day, there would have been an apology, a reconciliation -- CLOSURE.

But it's not meant to be.

I liken my feelings to the loss of a great celebrity.  Someone whom you've admired from afar -- and then they were suddenly gone.  "I just always thought they'd be around.  They were a constant in my life.  And now they're gone.  I didn't know them personally, but there was a connection of some kind."

Is it the same thing here?

I didn't know this guy (other than the first 6-8 years of my life) -- but there's a connection and a sense of loss.

Is it because he's now gone, and there is no possible forthcoming apology or much-needed closure -- and there never, ever will be, that I can now put the entire matter to bed -- to place him in the 100% memory box?

Sure, I didn't get the ultimate, death-bed apology (sorry I neglected, deserted, ignored you boys... and I apparently never loved you either) -- but the simple idea that I now KNOW THIS FOR CERTAIN -- is it's own form of closure?

I do believe this will be an ongoing process -- processing my anger, my resentment, my pain and those very real (although mostly hidden) feelings of desertion?

Fuck.  I mean really -- fuck.  It's not a grieving scenario.  It's an "all of this shit is coming up in my brain, my memories and my emotions".

As it is -- the only thing I can say is, "RIP, Pee Wee."  And that's the best thing I can say... 'cause he sure as hell wasn't a "Dad".

Thank you for your time.

And BTW, I had a passing thought, just a week ago -- that I'd be getting this call very soon...  And today, here it was.


a little bit 'bout klugula...

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Hollywood, California, United States
I like zombies...A LOT.

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