Sunday, August 13, 2017

Reality Slap with Brian Johnson


Years ago, while working on my second full-length screenplay, I joined a website called Simply Scripts..where aspiring screenwriters share their completed drafts in a message board and other aspiring screenwriters will read and critique them on the forum. That's where I met Brian Johnson, aka "The Crazy Artist."



Brian was the first person outside my friends/family/teachers circle who thought I had any kind of talent for storytelling. He was wrong...but his critiques and praise were most appreciated. "The Crazy Artist" was an awesome guy, and an even more awesome author. Among the two dozen or so scripts I read on Simply Scripts, his was by far the best. I actually printed out a copy of Justus and kept it in my collection (I still have it) because it's the kind of thing I would read again and again. 

Brian had submitted Justus to a script evaluation service, where it was given a grade of 98 out of 100. And the agency still passed on it. My script got a 60, mostly because I didn't make any spelling or grammar mistakes. The story itself was far inferior to a story that was not good enough to get Brian a screenwriting rep. And so, inadvertently, Brian was a big reason why I stopped writing screenplays. 

Brian's script didn't break down the doors of Hollywood, but he does produce low-budget horror flicks and even has a few iMDB credits. I bought The Black Mountain Madman for my horror-loving nephew a few years ago, and he dug it. Justus wasn't a horror story or a thriller, it was a teen romance for "bros" - if that makes sense.


A few years later I re-imagined my "kid with cancer" script as a young adult novel, but by then I had given up the goal of making some kind of career out of writing. All I wanted to do was complete the story, have fun writing it, and maybe self-publish it. If I had any allusions/delusions of becoming a published author they died for good when I discovered John Green.

I don't write stories anymore, but I've conjured up an alternate universe for myself to escape to every night - one in which I've corrected most of my real-life failures (while tweaking a few others to play out differently) and became a successful author and YouTuber. Basically I'm a younger John Green, but single and slightly more neurotic.

 Also, I look more like this guy...

   ...than this guy
 



Escaping to this world and expanding on my fake-life story satisfies my creativity while saving myself the time and energy of actually having to do the work (which would be impossible with my wife & kids anyhow.) Sometimes, farming reality for ideas keeps me going. And sometimes it makes me want to shut it all down.


I'm about to turn 30.. and I'm at a crossroads. Two years ago, my life was perfect. My third YA novel was a huge hit, I had 2.2 million followers on YouTube, and I was in love with a girl who was sweet and supportive and super fit, and she understood and enjoyed my sarcastic, scattershot sense of humor. Life was good.

My "side hustle" was a 9-to-5 gig building homes for my father-in-law's construction company. He was very flexible about me taking less hours whenever I was on deadline, and more hours when I didn't have anything to write or critique. Home building got me out of the house, gave me a sense of purpose (and decent benefits) and kept me in shape. 

And it helped me build my dream home.

Once I saw seven digits on my bank statement, I bought some property near Anaheim, California - where I've lived since fleeing my psycho father fifteen years ago. Over the years I had drawn and redrawn plans for my dream home, and promised myself that if I ever had the financial and human resources to build it, I would make that dream (within a dream) come true.

When construction on my home began, my girlfriend and I were getting serious. And so the rooms were built with her in mind - a large master bedroom with a walk-in closet, his and hers sinks in the bathroom, large kitchen, open dining room, sun room, home gym, reading room, etc etc. 

But then, just six months after the house was finished and lived-in...we broke up. Like many couples across the country, the election caused a rift between us. It was never an issue that I was liberal and she was sort-of conservative, but her parents were hardcore Christians and hardcore Trump supporters. It confounded and frustrated me that such otherwise pleasant people could be so gullible. I ended up arguing with my girlfriend by proxy, until she chided me for being judgemental.

It didn't help that I was less than supportive about her new sales job - which she enjoyed doing, and was quite good at it - because I saw how hard she had worked in college and believed she could do more. "I'm not a character in one of your stories" she said during one of our arguments, "you don't get to decide what happens to me."

It was around this time that I met my current girlfriend. She's intelligent and creative and funny, and our social/political beliefs are a perfect match. She's also established herself in social media, and has carved out a nice little career in the entertainment industry.

That's...sort of the problem.

You see, she can't do what she does from Anaheim. She has to live in L.A. And she wants me to live in L.A. with her. But... Orange County is my home. All of my friends are here, all of my family is here (except for a few aunts and cousins in CT) and my house is here. The house that I built exactly the way I wanted it, big enough for my future wife and our future kids and our future pets.

And so now I have to choose between two parts of a perfect life. Do I stay here, in the town I grew up in, and live in my dream home alone? Or do I sell it, rent it, leave it.. pack up all my shit, and live with her in Los Angeles?

Sometimes I think it's just a house. You'd really choose an inanimate object over true love? But is it true love if she's forcing me to make the sacrifice? "I'm not a character in one of your stories" I could say to her, "you don't get to decide what happens to me."

She's out of the country now, but she'll be back tomorrow. I have one more night to sleep on it. And when my head hits the pillow, I will imagine my life with her, and without her...




And then I wake up. And I am not in my dream home. I am not an author. I am neither famous nor successful. And I am definitely not dating Taryn.

You know who is?

Bryan Johnson.


That's Bryan with a 'y'...as in, Y don't you stop dreaming about my woman and worry about your own life, son. 


And so I shall. When I return from my brief blogging hiatus I will be more grounded in reality, for better or worse. I will write about actual, tangible things that happen to me - instead of obsessing over girls and whining about what I never got to do with my life.


I'm getting too old for this anyhow.


 ~

Saturday, August 12, 2017

My Celebrity Soulmate

A long time ago, in the early aughts, there was a stupid little website that determined your celebrity match based on one thing: your birthday. Said website used that single piece of information to determine that I was a 100% perfect match with... 


 Dominique Swain

Yes, it appears that the star of Lolita and, um...other stuff? was meant to be the mother of my children because... we have the exact same birthday. (No wonder that website is long gone.)





There is a website that determines your celebrity match based on your Twitter feed... but I'm not on Twitter. However, I did find this The Astrologer thing, which functions sort of like the old website I remember - except it doesn't determine compatibility strictly by how close your birthdays are. (Which is good, cause I did not want to get matched with Cara Delevingne)

Here's what The Astrologer spit out:


MatchMe Profile
Rule



  harmony
Harmony
  excitement
Excitement
Soul Connection

Communication

Romance

Passion

Shared Values

Commitment

About
Rule

Heidi Klum
Age: 44
Gender: Woman
Bio: Model


  harmony
Harmony
  excitement
Excitement
Soul Connection

Communication

Romance

Passion

Shared Values

Commitment

About



Yasss! Suck on that, Seal. 

I don't know what those meters mean, or how they can produce such a detailed "compatibility report" based on my birthday and a general age range, but it was kind of fun to see the results (Besides, we all know who my real celebrity soulmate is..)

What celebrities do you share your birthday with? Do any celebs share your exact birth day? Who is your "celebrity soulmate", according to The Astrologer (or your own source)?


~




Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Not Buying it

Three of my favorite artists have released or are releasing new music... and I'm not buying any of it. The reasons are as varied as the artists...

Muse released "Dig Down" as a stand-alone single:


Seems kind of pointless to download this track when it will surely be on the forthcoming album ..though there is no forthcoming album scheduled. I added it to Mah Birffday Plaeelisst, and I'll try to play it sparingly until there is an album. My wife is a hardcore Muse fan (they're called "Musers") and once the CD hits stores (if there are still CDs by then..or stores) she will play the crap out of it.  

As for my favorite band, and their forthcoming album...

Well that sucks. 


Here's a suggestion: ditch "Young & Menace", leave everything else alone. I trust you guys.

Tbh, "Y&M" will probably grow on me after a few spins..when Folie a Deux dropped I liked "Disloyal Order of Water Buffaloes" and "I Don't Care"..but I didn't care for the rest of the record. It took me three years to give Folie another chance..and now I love 90% of it.

As for this chick...

 
A post shared by Taryn Southern (@tarynsouthern) on



I have seen her American Idol fail, and I have heard of her comedy album (which is unavailable anywhere - and that isn't really her thing anymore) and I have played maybe one or two of her cover tunes.. but I have yet to familiarize myself with her original music. 

Now I have an opportunity to purchase an entire album of Taryn tracks.. and I don't think I'm going to. Electro-pop isn't exactly my genre, and I can't listen to it in the car - for two reasons. D is cool with me watching Taryn's videos, but spending $10-15 of my sports card money on an EDM CD would be a tough thing to explain. Plus, knowing how much TS is all into future tech, there probably won't even be a physical album - and I can't download iTunes just to buy this shit. 

All of this is outside the fact that I'm not in a good place with my Taryn crush at the moment. When I pulled that pic off her Insta this morning, I caught a glimpse of a more recent pic. Apparently she's in Tel Aviv, for some exhibit on 'the female form'. Cause she can just decide to go anywhere in the world, at any time, for any reason. Must be nice. 

I was feeling a little frosty towards her when I read some of the comments on the museum pic. All these anti-Israel people equating her visit with supporting terrorism. Just like the hyper conservative Hillary haters who loudly unfollowed her because she didn't bow down to the Donald. Sigh...

Naturally she was very diplomatic and doesn't ever fight fire with fire. She's too smart for that.

I have Jewish friends (okay, Jewish bosses) and I have Muslim friends...and I have liberal friends and conservative..family members (sooo many conservative family members...) and if you want to call me a snowflake because I cant handle the constant bickering and vitriol being thrown around from all sides, for any number of reasons (none of them valid) then fine. I'm a fucking snowflake. Melt my ass or leave me alone. 


What was I talking about? Oh yeah...music. 

I don't think I can buy the new Taryn Southern album, but if I do..I'll be sure to review it here. Cause I know y'all are as curious as I am haha.


Have you bought any new music lately? Let me know in comments :-)



~











Saturday, August 5, 2017

Islands

All of the girls I crush on are islands.





Secret places for my head and heart to escape. 

Distant paradises, far from the cold reality of everyday life.


I've been island hopping for a decade, starting with one nearest to me. I explored the surroundings, learned everything I could about the native species, and built a nice little home for my heart.



Then it got too dangerous. Tsunamis of reality crushed my meager existence, hitting far too close to home. I nearly lost everything. I had to get off Angela Island. 


There was a small island in the distance. Nothing sustainable, but it would make for a temporary escape. Katelandia. 




Then the weather there got unbearably hot, and I had to find another home. But where?





Joy Isle. 


This would be my permanent escape. It had everything I needed - natural beauty, accessibility, and a vast, sustainable garden of thoughts and dreams. 

It was perfect. It was home.




It was too dangerous. The weather was unpredictable. I accidentally burned down parts of the forest. The fruit was too sweet. The crops would grow, then die, then grow again. And when they grew, they grew too big.


I had to get out of there. But...where would I go?


For a while, there seemed to be no escape from Joy Isle. I began to think I'd die there. 

And then I found it, far off in the distance.


Southernland.




Yes! This was perfect. So much beauty, so much vegetation. So much...life. I could live off this land forever. And it was soooo far away from the real world it was like a star in a different galaxy, burning brighter and brighter and drawing me in to all of its splendor.





But oh my God, that light is so bright! Being too far from reality is frightening. The wildlife here is of a different species. It simply cannot be tamed. 

I can't stay in Southernland. Far too intense for me. Paradise is supposed to be relaxing.


None of these islands have brought me any peace of mind. They all become uninhabitable and destroy me from the inside. There is nowhere to escape.




Perhaps I should jump in the ocean and drown. I can't swim back home. I've gone too far.



~