Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Master Class

Thursday night I was due in Pacific Palisades at 6:45 to give my online screenwriting "master class." Unfortunately, for some reason passing understanding, George W. Bush decided to drop in for a little visit to perhaps the one state in the union that hates him the most, snarling traffic on every east-west artery in the city. This turned what should be about a 25 minute journey into a hour and twenty minute nightmare, making me about half an hour late for my "students." A thick fog had settled in as well, transforming this tony seaside enclave into something out of "The Shining."

I had never met the guy who ran the website, only spoken to him on the phone. Instead of the slickster L.A. entrepreneur I had pictured, I was greeted instead by a jolly, fiftyish hippie with a wide smile and long gray hair who looked more like Jerry Garcia than any industryite I'd ever met. He introduced me to his (cute!) assistant, who would be doing the typing for me, and his wife, who brought out trays of sushi and cocktail shrimp, along with two chilled bottles of chardonnay for us. Jerry Garcia explained the process while pouring us both some wine, and I warned them both that I was a fast talker and to just hit me or something if I needed to slow down (he ended up hitting me a lot!). The wine had relaxed me from the sick traffic I had just slogged through, so I was ready to roll.

I took questions from aspiring screenwriters around the world for about the next two hours. They asked everything from what I looked for when I read a screenplay from an unknown writer (guts, style, an original voice, content that makes me think) to where I thought the movie business was going in the next five years (having to seriously re-evaluate how we deliver content a la what iTunes has done for music). I guess I said some good stuff, because at the end a few of the students were gushing about how I had made them want to return to writing. I always try to be honest and direct in situations when people are asking me for advice and I know the chardonnay helped that along.

After we finished with the chat, I hung around and drank wine with Jerry Garcia and Cutie Assistant until well after midnight. We had one of those long, far-ranging conversations about the business that I used to have with my mentor Charlie almost every couple of days back when we worked together, and that are so scarce amongst the more political, cautious people I work with now. Cutie even played poker so we had a lot to gab about and I gave him my business card so he could put me on the list for his home game ;)I staggered out of there at 12:15 and (slowly) drove home to Showcase.

Showcase was in NO mood for a drunken me when I came in, and he kicked me out of his room, for fear that I would throw up somewhere in it (which, I might add has only happened ONCE, not counting that time on side of his car). After watching 15 minutes of the Tivo'ed WSOP, I passed out.

At 6:30 in the morning, I woke up with a serious headache, still dressed, and still on the couch. I staggered into my bedroom and changed clothes. About 10 minutes after I laid back down, I jumped out of bed and barely made it to the bathroom where I hurled over and over again. Whether it was bad shrimp or a pathetically weak tolerance to alcohol, I'll never know. All I know is that I kept on hurling for the next 6 hours. No way I was making it into work. Or to the American Cinematheque awards honoring Al Pacino that I was supposed to attend that night.

Once there was nothing left to vomit, I did get to play in the Poker Stars Whil Wheaton dot net Invitational along with 152 others. I didn't last long, placing a lousy 98th, but I did jump into the $3 Rebuy immediately afterward, where I just missed a cash, coming in 176th of 1421. Only 3 rebuys this time ;)

Showcase just walked through the door, back from a weekend in Berkeley, so it's time I lavished him with a little of the attention he so loves (and occasionally deserves).

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