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* * *
So today I get a call from my agent (yes, I feel pretentious starting out any kind of a sentence or journal entry like that) and he mentions that MTV films has a project they'd like me to come in and discuss writing. My history with MTV films since I sold Book Of Leo has been pretty pleasant. There was a book they gave me to adapt that I knew how to make into a great film and MTV got behind me, but alas, the executive at the studio wouldn't approve me as the writer as she claimed she "wasn't a fan" of Book of Leo. Her loss. But back to Mtv films -- I like them. I really feel like they are trying to do movies that push past formula. Election is a good representative of that.

So I get the idea they are looking for me to write and my jaw drops. It's basically an idea I've been working on making as a film with me writing and directing for the past 6 years. It's my baby and my agent and manager know that I plan on directing this movie this year.

Now here's the rub -- I know I could walk into MTV films and give them a take that would knock their socks off, but it would then preclude me from making my "baby" down the road...and that's not something I would ever choose to do.

So I'm gonna pass on the love from MTV and stick with my original vision which could be in production by this summer. It will be done low budget which means under 10 million and I will be directing it. I'm just cleaning up the script right now and making it sterling and then we'll be going out to financiers and actors probably next month.

Even though I stand a good chance at getting the MTV gig, it's not worth it to give up the dream just yet.

Just goes to show you how even your most personal original ideas are not as unique as you may think they are.

I do hope to work with MTV films in the future. I like the fact they are coming out of woodwork seeking me. Smart people.
* * *
So I'm listening to Notorious B.I.G while I'm writing today. The new album that Diddy put out with all the duets. I actually listen to Biggie a lot. His lyrics honestly speak to me. There's a song on there called "Hold your Head" that just knocked me on my ass. Biggie has always been one of my music staples. He's a prophet.

There's part of me that feels connected to him. This was happening with me before he was killed. Maybe part of it was because he was chubby and still could get laid and be cool but mostly it's his words. Biggie has a way of talking about the demons inside his head that didn't sound fake. He wasn't putting on a character when he rapped about his problems. He was authentic and authenticity is something I strive for in life both as a human being and as an artist.

I spent a large portion of my life trying to be all things to all people...maybe I wasted time that I'll never get back trying to be the perfect Joe for everyone else, instead of who I am now.

And I think it's that struggle that I share with Biggie. In one song he can rap about buying his Mom a mansion and living it up and in the next song he can rap about how he thinks he's a piece of shit and is going to hell. He was torn, like most of are. We all want to be good...but we all have a little thug in our head who gives us options of not being so good.

And with me, it's never more evident than my desire to fight back. There's that piece of me that wants to take on all my enemies (perceived and real) and decimate them and then there's the piece of me that says, just focus on your own life and make yourself happy. Forget about them.

I'm a fighter. I don't like taking the shot to the jaw without swinging back. Since I've gotten married, I've had to learn even more not to react. Not with my wife mind you, but with other people. People who hurt us, criticize us and embarrass us. I've had to learn that sometimes not fighting back and not getting into the middle of the battle is the right thing to do. But it's hard not to.

There are people in my wife's family who have been so insensitive and downright evil to us and we don't fight back. We just move on and away from it. It's my wife's choice and I respect it, but it never stops me from wanting to be a fighter and taking them all on for hurting the both of us. But she's right in the way we're dealing with it. I never realized how right she was until I thought about how I dealt with this shit in my own family.

In my family I have cousins who told me I would never be anything. That I was fat and I was a loser. They would tell me this hateful shit when I was just a little kid. In more recent years they were saying they won't believe I'm a screenwriter until they see my name up on a big screen. They made me feel like I was a liar and I was bad. I had an Aunt actually ask me if I was gay because she never met any of my girlfriends. Family really can suck.

How did I deal with it? I cut the bad people out of my life. I never took them on. I just forgot about them except in times of reflection like this. I let my actions speak. I took the hurt and the pain and used it as fuel. The best revenge is living well. That shit's the truth.

But don't doubt for a minute that the Biggie inside me wasn't thinking of loading up the glock and rolling up on all of them.

But there's no point. My wife is right.

And I think that's a life lesson. In the end it's not about fighting people to prove them wrong. It's not about taking on and hurting back the people who have hurt us.

It's about being true to yourself. It's about building yourself up. It's about ignoring those negative voices. Striving to be better. A better person, writer, husband.

It's about eliminating the haters not through violence but through apathy. I mean seriously, who really has time for that shit. Life is short and there's way too much I want to do. Fuck'em. You can't be nice? Go away.

The best revenge is living well.

I think Biggie knew that. I think he had a lot of people put him down when he was a kid. A lot of people tell him what he couldn't be. In his surroundings he probably didn't always have the choice of walking away from it. I'm sure he had to scrap to survive.

I wish he got to live longer. I wonder what he'd be writing/rapping about now. I won't even speculate. The only thing I know is that it'd be real.

Artist: Notorious B.I.G. (Feat Bob Marley)
Song: Hold Ya Head

Lyrics :

[Chrous: Bob Marley - sample from "Johnny Was"]
Woman hold her head and cry
Cause her son had been shot down in the street and died

Woman hold her head and cry
Cause her son had been shot down in the street and died

[Verse 1: Notorious B.I.G.]
When I die, fuck it I wanna go to *hell*
Cause I'm a piece of shit, it ain't hard to fuckin' tell
It don't make sense, goin' to heaven wit' the goodie-goodies
Dressed in white, I like black Tims and black hoodies
God will probably have me on some real strict shit
No sleepin' all day, no gettin my dick licked
Hangin' with the goodie-goodies loungin' in paradise
Fuck that shit, I wanna tote guns and shoot dice
All my life I been considered as the worst
Lyin' to my mother, even stealin' out her purse
Crime after crime, from drugs to extortion
I know my mother wished she got a fuckin' abortion

[Chrous: Bob Marley]
Woman hold her head and cry
Cause her son had been shot down in the street and died

[Verse 2: Notorious B.I.G.]
I swear to God I just want to *slit* my wrists and end this bullshit
Throw the Magnum to my head, threaten to pull shit
And squeeze, until the bed's, completely red
I'm glad I'm *dead*, a worthless fuckin' buddah head
The stress is buildin' up, I can't,
I can't believe *suicide's* on my fuckin' mind
I want to leave, I swear to God I feel like death is fuckin' callin' me
Naw you wouldn't understand
You see its kinda like the crack did to Pookie, in New Jack
Except when I cross over, there ain't no comin' back
Should I die on the train track, like Remo in Beatstreet
People at the funeral frontin' like they miss me
My baby momma kissed me but she glad I'm gone
She knew me and her sister had somethin' goin' on
I wonder if I died, would tears come to her eyes?
Forgive me for my disrespect, forgive me for my lies

[Chorus: Bob Marley]
Woman hold her head and cry
Cause her son had been shot down in the street and died

[Verse 3: Notorious B.I.G.]
I reach my peak, I can't speak,
call my nigga Chic, tell him that my will is weak
I'm sick of niggaz lyin', I'm sick of bitches hawkin'
Matter of fact, I'm sick of talkin' (*echoes*)
* * *
An "Open Assignment" sounds like it should be the wet dream of every living screenwriter. In a nutshell, the studio's and production companies in Hollywood have their own ideas that they want to see developed. If you're a "hot" writer they usually want to hear your "take" on these ideas.

For instance you go into a meeting with a studio executive who tells you, "I want to make a movie about mud wrestling", it's your job to go home and think up the story for this mudwrestling epic and then come back in and pitch it to the exec. If they like your take on it, you get the job and now it's time for you to go home and write Mudwrestling the Movie.

I guess for some writers this is like pushing a button. I say the word mudwrestling and they instantly come up with a story with Wil Ferrel as a guy who resorts to mudwrestling to save the family home or something. Kind of like Dodgeball with mud.

For me, this is excruciating. Maybe because I'm so new to the world of open assignments, but when I hear an idea I spark to it, until I go home and realize I'm trying to write to the execs idea and not to something organic I've been through.

I'm an organic writer. Book of Leo, while not entirely autobiographical, has a lot of me in it. It's where I come from as a writer and director. It's got to be personal.

These writing assignments are hardly personal though. It turns screenwriting into this computer flow chart formulaic process where you're looking for your act II pinch before you even know who your main character really is. I compare it to fitting a circle in a square. At least for me.

The idea of adapting a book allows a writer to find their own take on the source material, but when the source material is merely an idea, you're kind of lost to fumble around and look for inspiration with things that have already been done. I think this could be part of the reason why you see so much of the same at movies. I think they're being written not from an organic place but from a business standpoint and I'm not sure that's the best thing.

But every writer needs to make a living and we all want to keep hanging 55'' plasma's on the wall so we try to nail these assignments because they are already set up with studio's or producers and they pay well and they pay quick.

I just wonder how many other screenwriters out there go through what I go through when I get offered these things. Currently, I'm working on takes for 8 different writing assignments. This feels like it's an exercise in futility and it also takes me away from writing my own ideas.

I'm probably not cut out for the open assignment game, although that could just be me trying to make excuses for myself.

I do know this. In the next month, I'll either have landed one of the 8 or I will have sworn them off for eternity and will just focus on my own movies.

It's all a learning process in the end. I think I know the right way to do this for myself and that's to find something inside me that inspires me and to write that.

But then the shiny gold writing assignments tempt you mercilessly. You sit there and think, "I can do this" or "If I don't do this, they're gonna pay someone else to do this"....

In the next month I'll let you know how this all goes. Right now I don't sound optimistic, but that's really the old self esteem rearing it's ugly head. I know if I come up with a great take on one of these I'll get them...it's just learning how to write from a different perspective.

Some people must be great at it and I imagine some people suck at it. Let's see where I end up.
* * *
So in the spirit of good journaling I'm going to be as truthful in here as humanly possible. Of course there are names I can't name if I want to extend my career in Hollywood, but I will try to be as open as possible about what is going on in my life and career.

I guess I should say, my intention here is to connect with people and maybe inspire a few who feel like it's all pointless and they want to give up.

I think we all have a lot to learn from each other and when I say that, I don't imply that we are going to learn earth shattering truth's that we previously did not know...I mean we all have a lot in common with each other and sometimes the best lesson I can get out of life is knowing that there is someone somewhere going through something I'm going through or something I may be going through or even something I hope to go through. We're all cliche's. It's all been done...blah blah blah. But sometimes I think we feel like we're the only one's to see such pain and feel such things and well, that's just not the truth.

The real truth is journaling brings out my edge. Being a screenwriter in Hollywood, you can lose your edge fast. Mostly that's because they pay you gobs of money and you feel like you've accomplished the life long goal and then you sit back and reflect on where you came from and don't have as much to say.

Having waited 9 years for this kind of success, I feel I'm a little more grounded in reality. It was only a year ago I was working at Progressive thinking up ways to get out of work. I actually had a great plan where I would pretend I was passed out in my cube in the hopes of going home early. I never did it, but I came close.

What I did do this time last year was stop going to work like Peter in Office Space. About a year ago this time Michelle and I went on a cruise with my friend's Tim and Tim and their wives. When we returned from the cruise, I just didn't feel like going back to work...so I didn't. I stopped going. I lied to them and told them I had my wisdom tooth pulled and then eventually when I couldn't claim the wisdom tooth keeping me out anymore I decided to just tell the truth. When my team leader Jason would call me and ask me if I was coming in, I would just say "No, I don't feel like it". I eventually did return to work but that was only because I knew I was quitting soon and giving notice and work is actually a fun place when you know you're leaving. I used to come in and delete all my voicemail messages in the morning and then just putz around and chit chat with everyone at work. That, I enjoyed.

But thinking back to a year ago, I was done in so many ways. I mean, I had decided to stop going to work. My wife knew I was doing this and to tell you how cool she is, she supported this behavior. I think I thought they would eventually fire me and I could collect unemployment, but it never got that far. I got another job offer and left Progressive and then I finished the rewrite of Book of Leo and the rest was history.

So I'm hoping that only a year ago I was dropping out of society will help me keep my edge and help keep me grounded. I have a lot to say about life and about people and the way we live. As long as I keep that intact, I'll be okay out in La-La land.

But I'd be lying to you if I didn't say I was scared shitless that I'm going to lose what makes me "me" right now. I don't ever want to look back and think I let success take away all the pain and humor that made me unique.

I think it's important that I never feel like I'm fitting in. It's where I come from. No matter how socially acceptable I may be, the fact remains that I always feel like I'm on the outside of life looking in. It's my point of view and it's a big part of me.

So if you feel more like "there's me and then there's everyone else" I feel you.

I've been feeling a little "out of my head" of late, but this space is helping me start to find myself again.

Being a writer you spend a lot of time by yourself and you can get lost in the solitude and start to feel like you have nothing to say.

Journaling helps you get past that. So if you want to be a writer, keep a journal. Write down what you're thinking at a precise moment. Write down how you feel. You'd be surprised how writing can help you feel differently and remind you who "you" are.
* * *
I was about to update my journal when I saw the date and instantly realized that today, indeed, is Friday the 13th. I remember in my younger years where that would be very scary and cool. Almost like some dark holiday. I expected to witness beheadings and virgins being sacrificed and dark cloaked satanists roaming the streets with goats.

Sadly, none of those things happen. Although I think it would be quite a kick if on one day a year the satanists and practitioners of the dark arts took to the streets in a bid for understanding. And Halloween doesn't count. No self respecting satanist or warlock would have anything to do with a day associated with that much high fructose corn syrup.

Was Friday the 13th a big deal before the movie came out? I'm too young to know and too lazy to research. It would be sad though, if all the clamor about a Friday and the #13 had to do with an R rated slasher movie with a mute killer.

I prefer my killer's to not be mute. I like a killer with panache. A killer who can turn a phrase and lop off your head is aces in my book.

I never really got into the Friday the 13th movies nor did I get into the Halloween movies. I honestly watched them as a kid hoping to see some breasts. Even a good shot of a young starlet in her underpants got my juices flowing. Horror movies to me equaled sex. It was in horror movies that I was able to see the most nudity. Like that scene in the Re-animator, when head of the doctor (sans body) goes down on the naked blonde chick strapped to the operating table...that's some good shit. Back in the days of VCR's, setting up the timer to record Re-animator (I'm not sure I should be using a hyphen, but fuck it) was the thing to do.

I guess horror movies of the 80's never scared me, mostly because I was scared shitless by 3 movies of the 70's that pretty much popped my cherry. Carrie, The Shining and The Omen pretty much scared the ever living shit out of me. Piper Laurie as Carrie's mother was one of the most terrifying things I had ever seen as a child. Now, when I watch it and I hear her refer to her daughter's "naughty pillows", I can have a laugh, but as a kid, that shit just fucked me up. I couldn't even watch other movies with Sissy Spacek in them until I was like 20. And to think of all the years I went without watching Coal Miner's Daughter!

But those were classic horror movies. The utter creepiness of The Shining really messed me up, although as a child I was more afraid of Shelly Duvall in those awful costumes than Jack running rampant with the axe. What was up with all those woolen leggings, Shelly? And as for the Omen, again it was the nanny who made me shit my pants.

As I'm writing this, I'm sensing a pattern. Piper Laurie in Carrie, Shelly Duvall in The Shining and that fucked up nanny in The Omen...I guess what really scares me are non sexual middle aged crazy fucking women.

If Freddy Kruger came at me, I'd laugh at him and ask him to butter my toast, but if Piper Laurie came at me with a worn copy of the bible and a Jesus statue, I would run for my life.

So that's it. That's what scares me. Women I don't view in a sexual manner. That's my horror.

Happy Friday the 13th you all.
* * *
* * *
Great. I'm sitting here trying to write and what happens into my email inbox but one of these inane surveys that I feel compelled to complete and now can't focus on my writing. So here goes.

1. What time did you get up this morning?
10:30am. It was a late night last night with me and plas...we watched Alexander on HBO in HD.

2. Diamonds or pearls?
I would wear neither. I guess on a woman it would be the bling, since girls in pearls makes me think of waspy republican chicks, which while I had a phase where they appealed to me, after meeting enough waspy republican chicks one starts to realize that you'd rather drown them than spend time with them.

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Saw it on IMAX. Loved it. I'm sucker for those Potter books/films. I'm hoping against hope that she writes enough of them so I can get a crack at adapting and directing one in the future.

4. What is your favorite TV show?
Lost. Six Feet Under is my all time favorite, but it's off air, so I'll go with Lost which I am addicted to like high fructose corn syrup. And yes, I think Michael is imagining Walt speaking to him on the computer. I don't think it's really happening.


5. What did you have for breakfast?
1/2 a bowl of Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch and 1/2 a bowl of All Bran. I do this so I can still feel like a kid and start to feel like a senior citizen worried about bowel movements all in one glorious bowl of cereal.

6. What is your middle name?
Umberto (Albert)

7. What is your favorite food?
Steak fries or pizza with shrimp and roasted red peppers. Can you tell I have a problem with carbs?

8. What foods do you dislike?
Broccoli, potted meats and olives. Pickles make me wretch too.

9. Your favorite Potato chip?
I do like those Reduced Fat Cape Cod Potato Chips. There's also some Kettle cooked Dark Russett chip from Utz that is kick ass.

10. What is your favorite CD at the moment?
"O" by Damien Rice. I think the whole thing is fucking brilliant. "Amie" might be one of the most moving songs I've ever heard.

11. What kind of car do you drive?
A 2006 Ford Explorer Limited. Love it.

14 Favorite drink?
Kettle One Gimlet on the rocks.

15. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would it be?
Florence, Italy. Tokyo. London.

16.What color is your bathroom?
White. I like it.

17. Favorite brand of clothing?
Polo, Michael Kors, J Crew, Ben Sherman.


18.Where would you retire?
Rye, NY or Greenwich, CT.

19 Favorite time of day?
1pm. I think it's because I love lunch.


21. Favorite sport to watch?
Baseball first. Then Basketball and Football are tied.


22. Who do you least expect to send this back?
I didn't send it to anyone, unlike the person who sent it to me.

23. Person you expect to send it back first?
see above

24. What laundry detergent do you use?
Tide with febreeze is pretty nifty.

25. Coke or Pepsi?
I've had a long romance with diet pepsi that is currently ending. I'm giving up soda for seltzer. I just had a moment about a week ago where I sat and read the label on diet pepsi and thought to myself this slurry in a bottle cannot be good for me.

26. Are you a morning person or night owl?
Night Owl. It's when I get most of my ideas.

27. What size shoe do you wear?
13

28. Do you have pets?
Oakley the 12yo 110lb magical golden retriever

29. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with your friends?
Besides the plasma screen and the fact that I'm doing what I love for a living? No.

30. What (who) did you want to be when you were little?
Batman

31. Favorite Candy Bar?
Twix, unless you call a resse's peanut butter cup a candy bar although to me it's just a cup.

33. What are the different jobs you have had in your life?
I worked at Barnes and Noble, Record World, I was a cousnelor at fat camp, I sold TV's at Tops Appliance City, I worked as a telemarketer for American Bankcard, I tested walking shoes for Consumer Reports magazine, I worked for one day for the husband of the woman who was Carol on Magic Garden in his audio something business, Progressive Insurance, Unitrin Direct Insurance....I think that's it. Oh, and I sold bootleg porn tapes (there was no internet in those days) in high school for an incredible profit.

34. Favorite season?
The Fall. It has that sharpened pencil, go to work, cozy sweater kind of feeling.

35. Nicknames you've had?
Cujo (when I played high school footbal)
Joe Love
Joey Love
Joe Lover
Big City Joe Love
Big City
G
G Love
Asshole

36. Piercings:
None.

37. Eye color:
Black eyes, like a doll's eyes.

38. Ever been to Africa?
No

39. Ever been toilet papering?
Yes, I think I did a lot of this kind of tomfoolery at Fat Camp.

40. Love someone so much it made you cry?
Most definitely.

41. Been in a car accident?
Yes.


43. Favorite day of the week?
Saturday. It feels like I should go play touch football, go out to lunch, catch a movie and go out to dinner all in one day, although I rarely do any of that on a Saturday. It just feels full of possibility.

44. Favorite restaurant?
Harvest on Hudson

45. Favorite flower?
Orchid

46. Favorite ice cream?
Ben and Jerry's Cookie Dough pretty much does it for me.

47. Disney or Warner Brothers?
If we're talking cartoons, then Bugs Bunny kicks Mickey Mouse's ass all over the park.

48. Favorite fast food restaurant?
McDonald's feels like it should be the answer but I think that is just due to media conditioning. I think Wendy's is pretty much the best. Those giant greasy squared burgers are pretty sublime. I do like In and Out burger in LA though.

49. What color is your bedroom carpet?
Blue.

50. How many times did you fail your driver's test?
One time. My Dad wanted me to fail because he didn't want to have to add me to his insurance so I learned how to drive on a Honda Accord and he made me take the test in a Chevy Caprice Classic which I had never driven and couldn't parallel park if you paid me. After I failed he felt bad and let me take the 2nd test in the Honda.

51. Before this one, from whom did you get your last e-mail?
Bluelfy. I get about ten a day from those bastards.

52. Which store would you choose to Max out your Credit Card?
Circuit City. Yeah, I'm a geek.

53. What do you do most often when you are bored?
Eat, surf the net, get restless and do nothing and make comments about how I'm bored.


54. Bedtime:
Sometime between 2am and 3am. I need to go to sleep earlier.


56. Last person you went to dinner with?
My beautiful wife.


57. Ford or Chevy?
Ford, baby. I've owned 3 different Ford Explorers and all 3 have been wonderful.


58. What are you listening to right now?
Nothing, except the clicking of the keys.


59. What is your favorite color?
Various shades of blue. Baby Blue, Royal blue and Navy all are wardrobe staples.

60. Lake, Ocean or River?
I guess I'd say Ocean because I like the sound of it. But I honestly love all 3.

61. How many tattoos do you have?
None.

62. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
I don't fucking know.

63. How many people are you sending this email to?
None.


64. Favorite Cocktail?
Kettle One Gimlet on the rocks.


65. Red or White wine?
Red, unless it's King Estate Pinot Gris which I love.


66. Where would you go for a girls or boys weekend get-a-way?
Vegas.


67. What do you want to be?
A good writer and director.

68. Republican or Democrat?
Neither.

69. Favorite Family Vacation?
Walt Disney World in Orlando Florida. Got to see my Dad act like a big kid. I loved it even though I couldn't stand all the fucking parades my sister dragged us to. I loathe parades.
* * *
The Plasma Screen is mounted. I watched the Knicks, Lost and Invasion in luscious HD tonight.

So 9 years for getting the screen up was a little on the high side. I told you I was an alarmist.

* * *
Last night I tried to hang a 55'' plasma screen on my wall with my wife.

I have a long history with home improvement projects and frankly the history is not good. Usually I start out full of hope and optimism that I can do exactly what the directions describe...but inevitably the project turns into a mass of stripped screw heads, lost patches of skin on my hands, missing parts, damaged walls and lost hope.

Last night was not different.

Why do we think we can do these things when history has told us over and over again we cannot? This goes back to childhood when my Dad would have me help wallpaper a room only to give up 12 hours later and hire a professional. It's in my blood. I'm genetically predisposed to fail at these endeavors.

So knowing this, why do I even try?

I guess the reason why I do this is my personal belief that as long as you keep trying you will eventually get it right. Whether it be riding a bike, relationships or the rumba...the more times you try something the closer (I believe) you get to accomplishing it.

I have this belief because this past July I sold a screenplay to Universal Studios titled Book of Leo. Sean William Scott is going to star in it. This was major for me. This was the winning lottery ticket.

http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117927199?categoryid=1236&cs=1

At the time I was working in Auto Insurance as an adjuster, which means I was the overweight guy who came to your house and took pictures of your car, commiserated with you about how dumb all other drivers are and then handed you an estimate that the body shop would scoff at. How did I end up in that career? I'm not sure.

I remember getting married 2 years ago and being close to selling Book of Leo (it was called Pushing 30 then) and the next thing I knew everything fell apart and I needed a job. I ended up at Progressive Insurance mostly because I was intrigued by the little white SUV's you see on the road with Progressive name plastered all over them. They call those things IRV's which stand for Immediate Response Vehicle's which I can assure you that the response is rarely immediate. Anyway, I saw someone driving around in one of them and they looked somewhat happy and since I liked driving and liked to listen to talk radio, I thought I should check out this Progressive thing.

Visions of me on the road in the little white truck danced in my head. Progressive also told me they were looking for people to come in and work in the creative marketing department so I was even more game. It was even hinted at that with my filmmaking background, I could soon be making those cute little Progressvie commercials.

So I applied, lied my ass off in the interview pretending I was a team player and I was looking for a position that I could grow in for the next 20-30 years and next thing you know I got the job.

Well...It's the worst the job in the world. All of you Progressive people out there? I feel for you. Basically the job is to talk to angry people on the phone and then go out and meet with the angry people and try to get them to take less money for their car accidents and "injuries" and make Progressive more money.

Imagine a year full of trips to the Bronx trying to settle phony whiplash claims with people who barely spoke English, but were masters at the game of turning a minor fender bender into a five thousand dollar whiplash claim. Oh and let me not forget to mention the insensitive assholes who you work for there. Well, they're not all insensitive assholes, some of them are actually sensitive assholes.

The year I spent at Progressive I lovingly refer to as "My Purgatory".

I gave up writing while I was working there. Why? Because they worked me like a fucking dog. My hours were Tuesday through Saturday 10-7, which in Progressive's world means you don't take lunch and you stay till at least 8pm if you really want to show how dedicated you are. I generally left at 6:55pm. I'm sure there's a whole file that discusses how my leaving 5 minutes early showed I was not fit for a promotion or some shit. And to be honest, that file was right.

During my purgatory at Progressive, I put on weight and just became a miserable guy. I did meet a lot of great people I worked with who were in the same boat as me, but overall I was depressed.

I'm surprised my wife stayed with me...but then last year I met my manager Tariq, well I never really met him, he was in LA and I was in NY. He had read Pushing 30, loved it and wanted me to make some changes to it and he would take it the studio's to sell it.

Of course, over the past 9 years I've met a hundred people who have promised me similar things so initially I did nothing and just kept doing the insurance thing because that was working out so well...

But then I had that moment when I realized that if I didn't at least try one more time, then I was basically telling myself my future was insurance and all of the time, love and effort I put into being a writer and director was for naught....so I did a rewrite of the script per Tariq's notes and the rest is history.

It sold July 20, 2005. I was sitting in my underwear watching Seinfeld on TBS with my golden retriever Oakley when I got the call. It was July and it was hot so give me a pass on the whole underwear on the couch thing.

When I was out in Los Angeles Sean William Scott's production company allowed me to use his bungalow on the Universal Studio's lot. That was very cool. All the tourists in being carted around in the trams that give tours of the Universal Lot were taking pictures of me as I lugged my laptop from my rental car. I wonder who they thought I was? John Candy and Chris Farley are dead and I have too much hair to ever be confused with James Gandalfini.

Anyway, alone in Sean William Scott's bungalow I was doing some rewrites on Book of Leo and needed a quiet place to work in. When I walked inside the front room of his offices, there had to be at least 500 screenplays on bookshelves. All of them movies that people want Sean to be in. At least 500 and he said yes to mine?

My script sold to Universal on a Wednesday, Sean got it on Thursday and said he'd do it on Friday. I wondered how long all those people who sent him those 500 scripts waited to hear if he even was interested in it.

9 years I had been trying to sell a script to a major studio. I tried so many times and got so close so many times to getting one of my movies sold/made...but in the end, it took 9 years. Some people wait longer. For some people it will never happen. I know I'm the exception and not the rule. I know I'm fortunate and blessed.

So I guess that's why I still try to do home improvements. I guess that's still why I'll strip the screw heads and break the wall, curse up and down and make my wife feel like it was all her fault...because somewhere inside me I know if I keep trying I'll eventually get it right.

That's my message to anyone who happens upon this journal. No matter how many times you screw things up, no matter how many times you fail...success is still possible.

If I can do it, you can.

Now I'll go back to watching my plasma screen that is laying on 2 ottoman's since it'll be 9 years before I can get it mounted to the wall.
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