who dat? contest.
first correct answer:
hotmail down! can't retrieve winner's name right now. sorry.
Stee, having gone off on a week-long bender involving binge gin-drinking, a jail stay, and sex with strangers in exchange for cigarettes, warily opens the door to his apartment, remembering he left his little readers alone without food, water, or entertainment…
That's how I feel right now. A bit guilty, a bit scared, but mostly happy to find you all alive and well, and only a bit pissed-off for having been abandoned for so long. Thanks for that. Right now I'm spending my last hours in Madison, Wisconsin, sitting in my sister's apartment, drinking a Mr. Pibb, and listening to an old Tribe CD. There has been so much in the last week. I'll start at the beginning and see how far I get.
Pamie flew into town on Tuesday morning of last week, on a mission to find an apartment for her two-week away move to Los Angeles. Being the wonderful guy I am, I took off work a couple days early and dedicated myself to finding her a livable, nice apartment in a non-scary neighborhood. I failed. We spent that first day finding a few good places. The problem with the lady's situation was that she had no time to wait around for the application process to go run its course. Also, she's not exactly the best applicant, on paper. She lives in Texas. They couldn't meet her boy. They don't have jobs. She worked her charm on many a landlord, and we just had to wait and see. We even got yelled at by one rat-faced landlord who turned on us with mock-indignation at the notion that she would want to see an apartment before signing the lease. I know -- what nerve of her! Anyway, I think we probably spent the night drinking and watching Mr. Show and smoking cigarettes. It's been a while, but that's probably a very good guess. The next day we continued the battle, but we soon ran out of listings and the black cloud settled over my friend, increasingly growing silent, sad, and scared in the passenger seat. What helped: some very loud Beatles, and a couple hours at the arcade. When I kicked her ass at the Japanese dancing game, and she claimed that a kid told her afterwards that her side was actually broken, I knew she was feeling better. That night I imagine we ended up drinking somewhere. Again, it's just a guess. At some point there was the disappointing Best in Show. At some point there was coffee. At some point we were probably what those of you who know us would expect: we were both on our laptops, I was working on Road Rules, she was on the floor doing an entry and monitoring forums, sharing an expensive bottle of champagne that's been in my fridge for five years and lighting each other's cigarettes. We probably also got no sleep and slept through the alarm to take me to the airport. Yes, in fact that's exactly what happened. We're stupid that way.
We made it to the airport and I sent her back to my place in my car with maps and instructions and she claims to have made it home fine and that everything went well over the next 24 hours alone in my apartment…I cannot confirm that at this moment without seeing my car and my cat alive. Meanwhile, I was flying to Chicago (they showed me Field of Dreams and this is how out of sorts and sleep deprived I was: I cried during Ray Liotta's first entrance. Tears. Sitting in the middle of two dry-eyed women. Traveling does that to me. Puts me on serious edge. So does the year 2000, for that matter. Fucking Kevin Costner.) and then to Madison, where my sister picked me up. There was dinner. A movie. Drinks. Seeing her friends. I bunked down on the couch for a few hours sleep before having to get up to catch my bus back down to Chicago to get my flight for Austin. Naturally, I slept through 3 alarms once again and missed my bus by two hours. Panic. Panic. Hysteria. My sister raced my ass around town to find a rental car. I got a car and, everyone telling me there was no way I'd make it to Chicago in time, I took off anyway, leaving my sister shaking her head. Well, once I found the fucking highway (goddamn Madison), I set the cruise control for 90 mph, cracked open a Diet Coke, lit a smoke, and prayed. One of those things paid off, because I made it to O'Hare a half hour before my flight. I dumped the car in the very expensive long-term parking (calculating that missing my bus would cost me over 200 bucks) and sprinted to my gate. Fucking O'Hare, man. That goddamn neon walkway I've talked about before. Hate it. Hate it. Hate it. They used to have free sodas and shit to keep you from crying, but I guess they realized no amount of caffeine could stop the inevitable and they stopped that. I got coffee and got on the plane. I don't remember that flight. I imagine it went fine. I was smart and got a direct flight, despite the higher price. I think I probably did some work and slept. All I know is that every flight I've had so far has been Crying Baby Flight, and so the other day I bought a CD-player walkman and some CD's for the express purpose of arriving in LA tonight without a migraine.
Later. I'm sitting on my flight to Denver now. My pilot is doing a John Wayne impression. I don't know, man. Sitting on the tarmac in Madison listening to the new Radiohead and trying to knock some of this out before I have to put it away and the guy in front of me puts his seat back, inevitably, rendering it impossible for me to type at all. The guy next to me is also working the laptop, but he's writing memos and shit for some job in Cincinnati (he's a loud talker).
So I made it into Austin, tired but none worse the wear, and found Pamie sitting at the bottom of the escalators, waiting for me. She'd given up the house hunt and left my place in another great friend's capable hands -- and arrived just a little bit before me. We caught a cab to her place and deloused. I case you don't remember or don't care that much and wasn't paying attention (I totally understand), I had to have my trip to Madison interrupted at the last minute when I made it to finals in the Austin Film Festival Screenwriting competition for my comedy script. It was down to me and two other scripts, and the head of the festival convinced me that it would be a very good idea if I got my ass down there. The fact that he had nothing to gain by my presence (ie: my $700 ticket to the festival was paid as a finalist) led me to believe I should listen to him, cough up the money and go. (The plane ticket and hotel would be reimbursed if I won.) So Pamela drove me to register and I signed up for the only round table event I could attend, for the next day, and we bailed. I think there was drinking. Probably there was drinking and smoking and talking. We saw friends that I met last time I was in town, at SXSW. The ubiquitous Ray was in town from LA. Of course. I think we drank and maybe got food -- but it's unlikely there was food. That just ends up happening. Eventually, we ended up at the comedy theatre to catch the very funny Matt opening for the very something Jake Johannson (I misspell his name in protest of having to see him). His funniness long being a point of contention between us, it was ironic that he was in town. Pamie is the fucking queen over there and we got in free and drank for free and came and went from the show as we pleased. More friends came. There was drinking and lots of smoking. At one point in horror I thought I'd smoked a pack of cigarettes in three hours (she later found the full pack in her car.) Singing happened. The place closed. Eventually You-Want-To-Know-Ray took me back to his wonderful friend's house and let me crash. We sat in the backyard and drank Natural Lights at 4:30am and I was really in fucking Texas at that point, and even more so as I went to bed in a strange girl's bed (alone, thank you) and woke up four hours later, wondering where I was and in which state and where I was supposed to be. I got a ride into town and caught a shitty roundtable discussion on structure. The one good thing was that I got to meet Polly Platt. She was incredibly nice and offered some good advice -- not withstanding her revelation that while writing Pretty Baby she drank each day starting at noon and wrote until she passed out -- and that by the time she finished the script she had built a wall of Bud bottles in her backyard.
OK, I'm drinking a beer now. It's only 4 back in LA, but I'm still on Austin/Madison time, dammit. And my typing neighbor moved seats, so I have an empty two-seat row and no one in front of me. Sweet United Express. A clear row, Radiohead, my laptop, and an MGD at 35,000 miles. Yee-the-fuck-haw!
So after a lot of stupid questions (not from me) I bailed and met the P in the lobby of the hotel. We were both a bit dressed up and nervous. We had a mission. We were heading to a new fancy-pants nightclub for the awards luncheon. We got there early and walked around and I tried not to trip too hard. The P failed when I asked her to tell me a story to get my mind off things, but I forgave her. She was my Fiona for the event, and while I'm very much a loner, this was one time I did not want to be alone. Lose or win, I wanted someone close there. She is good. We found our tables -- mine was 9 up front and she was like 50 or something -- and parted ways. I was instantly bored by my table-mates (a couple managers and a couple other finalists) and Pam and I met at the bar for a drink and a smoke. One of the managers pulled me aside and told me he'd already read my script and wanted to meet back in LA. Fine. Nice guy, but pushy. Pam, meanwhile, was cornered by this trippy actress; Pam had no idea who she was but I instantly recognized her as someone I saw in SubUrbia on Broadway and subsequently auditioning for The Louie Show, where I used to work. She didn't remember auditioning for Louie Anderson's nineteenth failed vehicle, but I assured her she did. She was nice. Strange, but nice -- like most people I would meet at the festival, actually. We missed dinner (having not eaten at all the previous day, like idiots) and got back to our tables just before the dais was taken by the head of the festival. Luckily someone didn't show up at my table and I waved the Pam over. I had my Fiona next to me. Sweet. So the competition starts with about 4000 scripts and is broken into 3 categories. Family. Adult. And Comedy. The distinctions are bullshit as is the disparity in prize money (having to do with the original grants) but that's how they do things around the AFF. So the family winner was announced first, and she was this middle-aged, nice woman sitting next to me. Fuck. I was screwed, because there was no way they were going to seat two winners next to each other. Fuck.
Speaking of "fuck." The stews just handed me a weird looking sandwich and a cookie. I'll just stick to the MGD, thank you.
So BJ, the nutty, very nice head of the division announced the three comedy finalists. This was it. I grabbed my Shiner, took and swig, and watched his mouth as he announced the winner. The first word, was the first word of my script. Then came the whole title. Then my name. Then the clapping. Then Pam grabbing me. Then, I think I, like, shrieked, but we'll keep that to ourselves. Run run run. I ran up the long ramp to the dais. Hug BJ. Take the mic. Cameras. Applause. Lights in my eyes. There was a split second where I thought I'd pulled a Marisa Tomei and just imagined my name was called. That would have been pretty sad. But it was me. I talked. I joked. I didn't look like a fool, apparently. I thanked three people who mean a lot to me. I thanked BJ and the AFF. I realized people like Polly Platt and David Chase and Paul Mazursky, and agents and producers were all watching me. I smiled and left the stage. Oh, and I got a trophy! A beautiful typewriter on a base. Heavy. They're engraving it and mailing it to me.
More tomorrow, bitches…
Anna thought stee was gone forever.
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