Anyone For A Happy Ending?

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Thursday, June 30, 2005 0 comments

The problem with starting anything is that you inevitably have to finish it.

I've often said that beginnings are easy, but it takes real talent to end things well. You can apply this principle to relationships, movies, books, cocaine, whiskey, pornography, screenplays and Monopoly.

The only way to ensure success is to craft a finish that leaves you satisfied with the journey as well as the time that you've spent arriving there. The ending doesn't have to be happy (because most good ones aren't outside of Asian massage parlors), but it must be true and it needs to fit with the overrall arc of the relationship or story or drug.

I was recently reminded of the importance of conclusions after reading Dan Brown's "Angels and Demons."

Brown came out nowhere when "The Da Vinci Code" broke and 'A&D' was a previous book featuring the same main character from the Code. I have always been a sucker for books or movies that deal with secret societies (except for that shitbomb "The Skulls" with Joshua Jackson) who try to wield their mighty influence on the world and I was really enjoying A&D until the last 100 pages when I have to assume that Brown went insane or was simply working on an impossible deadline.

I won't ruin it for anyone who might read the book, but let it be said that Brown should be ashamed of himself for writing an ending that is implausible and an insult to the intelligence of at least some of his readers.

His putrid conclusion was even worse because I had enjoyed the first 3/4 of the book, but it's a testament to the power and elusive nature of endings that his abrupt foray into absolute crap turned a good read into something that I can't recommend to anyone.

This problem is also becoming increasingly relevant because our second screenplay badly needs an ending.

We need something good like "Lost in Translation" and not what we're currently working with which is akin to "Signs."An ambigious whisper beats aliens who can destroy everything on our planet yet are foiled by tap water EVERY single time.

The irony is that I'm at a loss on how to end this blog, so I think I'll just stop typing . . .

because that's another good rule of thumb for endings - always leave them wanting more.


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Get in my belly...

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Tuesday, June 21, 2005 0 comments

In the midst of my post St. Johns funk I almost forgot about my meeting with a New York City modeling agent right before we left the country.

This was the culmination of a fitness photo shoot I had done for a coffee-table book several months ago and through a complicated process I had been referred to this agent who books models for fitness, runway and commercials.

I met him at Northpark mall, and in anticipation of this I had been dieting for several weeks. He was in town for a modeling convention and the fact that he was one of the keynote speakers helped solidify his credentials for me.

I was nervous about the mall sitting, however, and I kept picturing this guy sitting in a chair at the Nordstrom’s dressing room and having me parade around in a series of revealing outfits while he ate pistachio nuts and made loud catcalls in his East Coast baritone of a voice.

Luckily, this was not the case as we meet in front of Dillards and had a bite to eat at La Madeline.

The agent told me he liked my look for fitness modeling and he also said I had a strong “commercial” look, which might translate into him pushing me into some TV spots.

I thought he noticed my hard dieting work had paid off until he said this was all for naught unless I gained 10 pounds.

The irony was that I had dropped almost that same weight through dieting and now I was being told to put it back on or he said it “was nice meeting me, and he wished me luck in the future.”

So, I am now eating everything I can find and have already gained 3 pounds thanks to a Lemon cake from Costco, Red Stripe, protein shakes, Pop Tarts, gallons of milk, pasta salads, eggs, red meat and red wine.

It’s a hell of lot more fun to put it on than to take it off, and once I gain the weight I’m supposed to send this agent some digital pictures and if he thinks that it’s enough then he’ll bring me out to New York and introduce me to clients.

We’ll see if this actually pans out as I’ve found that most people are at least half full of shit and some are nearly ¾.

In the meantime, life is good as I’m eating like a champ and feeling no remorse about anything that I put in my belly. Just point me towards a buffet and steer clear because the only way to tackle a project like this is to be fully committed and I rarely do anything half-assed.

Who knows, if I keep eating like this I might soon look like Tobey Maguire. And he’s Spider-Man.


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Bury Me In St. Johns . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Sunday, June 12, 2005 0 comments

There's no better feeling than going into something with high expectations and then having the actual experience raise the bar to astronomical heights of greatness.

And so it went with our trip to St. Johns.

St. Johns is a tiny U.S. Virgin Island less than 9 miles long and can only be reached by a 20 minute ferry ride from the Red Hook dock on St. Thomas; a much bigger island that looked nice but also one that we never felt compelled to visit during our stay.

After a brutal travel day that started at 4:30 a.m., we stepped off the ferry and met our Villa representative, who like most of the people working on the island was nice but vaguely flighty, somewhat slow and yet she still got the job done.

She took us to our rental car, a Grand Vitara SUV with the emasculating name of "Lady Lisa" painted on the side in prominent lettering. I was hoping for the "Red Robin" vehicle, but "Lisa" turned out to be the way to go and taking the sage advice that Tom Jones has been espousing for years - we treated her like a lady all week long.

Our villa, "Plumeria," was a 10 minute drive from the ferry dock, and situated on Gift Hill.

The outside gate was painted white and we were surrounded by colorful flowers that the owner cultivates year-round at the villa. The inside was even better as we had a large wooden sundeck with 4 great lounging chairs, a swimming pool, 2 air-conditioned bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms, a large modern kitchen, a huge sitting room with satelite TV, a stash of boardgames, comfortable couches, more flowers that grew in small patches along the walkways, and an outside dining table that sat beneath a shaded gazebo.

Not too shabby.

But the view from the deck trumped the lodging as every morning, afternoon and evening we were staring at crystal-blue water and the neighboring island of St. Thomas.

The first night was saw the most spectacular sunset that I have ever seen anywhere in the world, and I knew that was a good sign that the rest of the week would follow along a course of sloth and beauty or beautiful slothfullness as the case may be.

A typical day went like this:

8:30 a.m. - Rise and cook a big breakfast at the villa and eat under the gazebo while watching St. Thomas wake up and come to life.

9:00 a.m. - Stumble to a deckchair and drink multiple cups of coffee while alternately reading a book or slathering on suntan lotion.

11:00 a.m. - Pack sandwiches, snacks, water, snorkeling gear, books, towels, and drive "Lady Lisa" to a gorgeous beach that you didn't have to share with thousands of other tourists.

3:00 p.m. - Return to villa and lounge on deckchairs and drink a few Dos Equis while the day starts to cool off.

6:00 p.m. - Drive into the heart of town, Cruz Bay, or along the coast to Coral Bay to find a resturaunt for dinner and watch the sunset.

9 p.m. - Play scrabble or watch a movie at the villa.

11 p.m. - Go to sleep.

Rinse and repeat this process nearly every day for a week and you understand the inherently lazy but perfect nature of the trip.

The beaches of St. Johns were as great as they had been advertised with Trunk Bay being the crown jewel. Although you have to pay $4 to get in, the beach was easily worth it as the sand was soft and fine and white and the water was so clear and blue that it almost looked fake.

But it wasn't and the excellent snorkeling solidified that fact as we saw exotic and colorful fish, a giant tuna and possibly a barracuda (sp?).

Cinnamon Bay and Hawksnest were right behind Trunk for overrall beauty, and then Maho and Salt Pond Bay were also very nice.

The only problem with the beaches was getting there, however, as the road system on the island was sometimes challenging and always windy and steep.

They also drive on the left-hand side over there, but I found the change refreshing as I had gotten too lax in the States and needed the shift in driving conditions to keep my mind focused on the task at hand - which was having enough horsepower to make it up the mountainous pathways and not getting us killed with any crazy left turns.

Livestock was the final challenge that the road system presented us as we encountered cows, donkeys, wild mountain goats, deer and a giant pig during our various trips across the island.

The possibility of vehicular doom was a small price to pay, however, for the rewards which came around every turn as you would suddenly find yourself overlooking lush hillsides that fell away to the pristine ocean waters surrounding the island.

The only real problem we encountered during our stay was the extremely high cost of food. This was due to the fact that St. Johns has to import virtually all their food from other countries, which means that the prices were frequently doubled and sometimes quadruple the cost of the same goods you find in the states.

For instance, a 24 pack of bottled water goes for around $7 at the grocery store or $5 at Costco, but on St. Johns it was $22. I don't mind paying a premium for water, but I did flinch when a USA Today was $3.50 and a dozen eggs was $4.

Only a fool or a pessimistic babboon would quibble about this matter, so we quickly accepted the nature of the beast and focused on enjoying the island and avoiding Kenny Chesney.

We were successful on both counts, and it was truly a sad day when we were forced to leave our villa behind and board the ferry that took us back to St. Thomas en route to Texas.

Now we're home and the real world is beating down the door.

On St. Johns we had no cell phones, our villa phone never worked properly, I never got on the Internet despite the prescence of a Cyber Cafe in town and I saw not a single McDonalds or Starbucks for the entire week.

Now, it's emails to return and phone calls to make and work to perform.

My mind is still in St. Johns, however, and it was a rude shock to open my front door this morning and not see St. Thomas in the distance. Then I got in my tiny sportscar and the roads were straight and level as I drove to the grocery store, where I didn't have to pay nearly $6 for a loaf of bread.

I already miss St. Johns so much I could cry. But I won't.

At least not in front of people.

No promises.


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