The Dog Next Door

My friend Victoria brought it to my attention that I have yet to write anything about the actual contents of the screenplay I’m writing. this is just the kind of thing that I’m apt to forget. I know what kind of screenplay I’m writing so I just assume you do too. As the great bards of Siam Shade once sang: “Why don’t you know in my head!?”

The story is called The Dog Next Door. It first began as a writing exercise for Takako, when I tried to get her back into creative writing. Originally it was just about a girl who is visiting her grandparents and starts trading food and water to the neighbor’s abused talking dog in exchange for stories. Takako, who is a fan of murder mysteries, suggested the story go in that direction. I tried but I never quite got it.

That was almost 10 years ago… but like the wind shapes the stone through the centuries, I have eroded these impenetrable ideas into a framework for what I think is going to be an amazing story. The story is less about the murder in the dog’s story now and more about the girl who has never been let to grieve the death of her father, after he kills himself and a carload of teens in a fatal drunk driving accident. The mother and daughter lose everything to the courts and eventually have to move back in with her estranged parents in a bad part of New Jersey. Hilarity and family drama ensues.

I’ve always been a fan of magic realism. Rumiko Takahashi is my template. There were elements of magic in her family dramas that didn’t necessarily propel the narrative. They were almost incidental. That’s key.

Here’s hoping I can share more soon.

Belgian Chocolate Milk Society

I’m a firm believer that you create magic all around you just by being yourself and giving in to your more adorable base urges. My groundless need to drink Belgian chocolate milk at Whole Foods’ yesterday lead to our naming of our writer’s collective after the silky, delicious carraggean filled desert milk.

As for the collective itself, well… aside from the fact that we never actually got to my or Fizz’s submissions for group critique, it was interesting. There were a few rules set in place that made the game more like a complex writing exercise than a natural critique. First a little background info, everyone submitted a minimum of either 2 pages of a story or 5 pages of a screenplay. There were five of us and we allotted about three hours for this first meeting.

The rules were simple but evolving; when your story is being discussed there is a cone of silence in effect for the writer. Only after the group has thoroughly exhausted all possible suggestions is the writer then allowed to put everything in context. It was a flawed but somehow more thrilling version of a think tank: an imagine tank. How can you critique two pages of the barest traces of an idea? You just make shit up stream of consciousness style -sometimes interjecting with a savvy pop culture reference to make yourself seem smart. Though to be fair, I think all my self aggrandizing references were useful observations. I’m sure everyone thinks theirs were useful observations too.

It almost feels like training for working on the writing staff for a show like The Office. The humor that came out of our interactions was honestly funnier than anything we were writing. I mean, there were two Brians there. Myself and a bearded fellow. We couldn’t decide how to differentiate between us. Do they call me, boo? No. No one outside of my Japanese rock world calls me that. It’s a nickname from a very specific time and place that belongs to history. Incidentally, I can’t wait ’til my daughter cocks her head up at me quizzically and asks me why that man called me ‘boo.’ We tried out Stewdog, but it came at the expense of everyone’s dignity. Every time JB used it on me I wanted to pound back a brewski and belch like a frat boy. It got so ridiculous that I eventually told them to call me Stevesie or Steve Z, which was supposed to be a sly The Life Aquatic reference but got a laugh for, what I believe, are other non Wes Anderson related reasons. Uncultured barbarians.

We’ve decided to meet again next week when my turn in the stocks will come. I may have a very different take on things then.

For now… Proost! (That’s Danish for Cheers!)