I create context. I also write blog posts:

Finding Use In A Broken Stick.

Posted: December 31st, 2010 | Author: | Tags: , , | 2 Comments »


While I was home on break, I went to a hockey game with my family. Being in the rink reminded me of a pivotal hockey memory, one that I’m going to remember for a long, long time.


I was fortunate as a kid that Amerk games were a pretty regular occurrence, thanks to an aunt and uncle who used to allow my brother and me to tag along and holler nonsensical taunts until our throats went dry (’cause when you’re four, shouting “your mother was a toaster and your father was a snowplow!” makes total sense…). They picked us up on Friday nights and, as habit dictated, we got to the rink early, dropped off our coats at our seats, and walked down to ice level to watch the warmups.

Because our seats were on the horseshoe at the end of the arena the visitors defended twice, and because the Amerks end was always crowded, we usually stood watching the visitors take shots. It was good, ’cause we already knew all the Amerks but this gave us a chance to scout the other teams and figure out who we — and the hometown team — should be on the lookout for. And I particularly enjoyed the closeup view of the goalies.

On a particular night that I can recall, we went down to watch the warmups the way we always did, as the Hershey Bears took the ice. I was probably only six or seven then and I don’t remember much of the night, but there are some things that still come to mind: the old green leather seats and the buzz from the high bay lights hanging from the rafters that were turned off during the periods, and the slick steps that became slicker when beer was spilled and slush melted from boots. And there was the billboard at the other end of the ice that reiterated what we were all thinking: “Boy could I go for a Genny now?” (well, I’m not sure I was thinking it then, but I bet everyone else was…).

The pre-game warmup is generally a pretty casual affair. Players get the blood flowing and their hearts beating, goalies get a feel for the puck, and coaches rarely involve themselves. So the show lacks any real excitement; you don’t see many big saves, you don’t see puck battles or defense being played, and I’d bet there’s never been a check thrown amongst teammates before the game starts. But you get to see players loosened up, horsing around a little and enjoying themselves. They’re focused, but not in the way they are during the game.

And so, sometimes they interact with the fans.

At some point during the shootaround, Hershey’s goalie broke his stick. Leaving players to shoot on an empty net, he skated towards us to the bench to get a new one. I watched as the equipment manager chose a replacement from a stack behind the bench. I couldn’t wait to play pro hockey so I’d have an unlimited supply of sticks to choose from (though, being only six or seven years old, I’d never actually broken one myself, so I didn’t really need a backup, let alone a closetful of them). And as the goalie was handing the broken stick over, he tapped it on the glass in front of me and said something to the equipment manager. I couldn’t hear what he said, but as soon as he skated away, the equipment manager motioned for my uncle to come to the glass then pointed at me. As soon as we understood what he meant, he lofted the stick over and gave me a thumbs up.

I don’t remember much about the game, except that it went into overtime and that I was probably the only Amerks fan rooting for the Bears to win it. I also remember the goalie’s name: Scott LaGrand.

It’s rare that the warmup is better than the game — and rightly so — but I was the envy of every kid in our section and every kid we passed on the way to the car that night. On subsequent nights in my bedroom, I pretended to defend an imaginary goal from imaginary opponents with that stick. When I began playing goal a few years later, I made sure the tape job on my sticks followed the exact pattern. I even used the same brand for a long time.

I’m still not sure who won the game that night, but who cares? I remember enough.


You Are Hereby Cordially Invited…

Posted: December 13th, 2010 | Author: | Tags: , , | 3 Comments »

Here’s another two pager that didn’t make the cut, but it’s one I really like. In fact, I think it’s going to make it into something bigger later on, when I find it. But I think it stands on its own well enough, too. So here goes:

INT. KITCHEN

A GUY and a GIRL stand at the counter. There’s a stack of envelopes and a stack of cards in front of them. GIRL picks one up.

GIRL

(reading)

You are hereby cordially invited-- No. We’re not doing this.

BOY

What?

GIRL

You can’t “cordially invite” people to a funeral.

BOY

Why not?

GIRL

Well, for starters, I don’t think people send invitations to funerals.

BOY

We’re about to.

GIRL

We’re really not. And if we did, we wouldn’t “cordially invite” people. It’s a funeral, there’s grieving and peace to be made. We’re not inviting people over for cocktails.

BOY

There won’t be cocktails, either? You’re taking the fun out of this.

GIRL

Fun? Dad died.

BOY

Right. And while he was dying, he went out of his way -- which is hard for someone who’s dying to do -- to make sure it was still fun and not at all gloomy, the way most dying people are.

GIRL

You don’t think he’ll mind that we’re making a mockery out of this?

BOY

Who says we’re making a mockery? And no, I don’t think he’d mind.

GIRL

Wouldn’t you mind?

BOY

No. I’d be dead.

GIRL

When I die, I hope you’ll--

BOY

He’s dead! And he spent the last thirty years in jail because he murdered someone. If we can actually care about things after we die, he’s got a lot more on his plate than some fucking funeral invitations!

He takes a breath. She tries not to cry.

BOY (CONT’D)

So I say we throw a party and we all tell stories about the fun times we had and we’ll leave the gloomy shit to the newspapers.

Now she does start crying.

GIRL

I guess you’re right.

BOY

There’s no reason this can’t be fun. He might not have showed it very well, but he cared about us and this is the way he wanted it.

GIRL

All right. I’ll call mom and tell her the invitations are ready to go out then.

BOY

Good. I’m going to buy stamps. You can cry for now, but this weekend’s about having fun.

CURTAIN.


The Christmas Movie

Posted: December 9th, 2010 | Author: | Tags: , | 3 Comments »


I’ve been writing a lot of short scripts the past few days in preparation for Writers and Books’ Two Pages/Two Voices contest this year, so I’ve been away from the blog and away from the script I’m currently wrestling with. It’s been a process to get myself in the “two page” zone, but I’ve got a few under my belt and I’m zeroing in on one or two that really work for me.

Here’s one that I like, but that I don’t think I’m going to submit.

INT. OFFICE

On the window-side of a desk piled high with unread movie scripts sits an AGENT, a cocky old bastard in his sixties. Across the desk is his timid, soft-spoken writer, with a look about him that you see in a kid visiting the principle’s office for the first time; it ain’t defiant.

AGENT

Oh, for Christ sakes, Billy. You’re not gonna give me another one of these fucking sad Christmas stories this year, are you?

WRITER

It’s not --

AGENT

Cause I’m telling you right now, I can’t keep shopping this. Nobody wants to feel bad when they’re watching a Christmas movie. They want a cute little kid with no front teeth, they want a poor family that gets rich, and they want a happy fuckin’ ending!

He picks up the script.

AGENT

Let me guess -- you’re giving this to me right now, I haven’t read it yet. I’m just guessing here: it starts in a hospital. Someone’s grandmother just had a heart attack, right? Cause last year it was a tumor and the year before that the dog died.

He opens the script.

AGENT

(reading)

Interior. Intensive Care Unit. University hospital. Three children stand around a hospital bed where their grandmother is recuperating from a heart attack. Snow flakes fall outside the window.

He puts the script down.

AGENT

Jesus Christ. The “snow flakes outside the window” is a nice touch though.

WRITER

Are you going to keep reading?

AGENT

No! It’s awful. It’s shit. It’s a hundred and twenty pages of garbage that nobody wants to see. But at least there’s no cussing on the first page. Last thing you want is to start with the cussing early on. Your audience’ll think you’re some sorta cretin.

WRITER

What would you like to see instead?

AGENT

Right now I just want to know what in your childhood was so fucking bad that you come to me every year with this “babies are crying, everbody has cancer” bullshit? I can’t sell it. You gonna tell me you had a wife or something die on Christmas so you wanta bring everyone else down too? Cause I gotta say -- and I don’t mean to sound crass here -- but I gotta say, nobody fuckin’ cares about your wife who fuckin’ died on Christmas. So what is it about you?

WRITER

I’ve never even had a wife.

AGENT

Tough break.

WRITER

I don’t know. I just think Christmas carols make for sad soundtracks.

And quietly Sinatra’s version “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” rolls in as snow flakes begin to fall outside the window and the writer hangs his head and we

FADE TO BLACK.


All I Ask Is That You Don't Suck.

Posted: December 7th, 2010 | Author: | 4 Comments »


Dear Internet Providers:

I’m going to give one of you 50 bucks a month. My standards are low, my expectations few: Just don’t suck.

But apparently it’s not going to be that easy. I’m looking for an internet provider for my second story apartment in Centereach (apparently, the “second story” part of that is important to some). I would like to call you in the next week, give you my credit card information, and have you take fifty dollars from me at the beginning of every month. Just like that! I ask very few questions, I tip the delivery guy, you’re in you’re out and we’re done. But who am I going to call?

Optimum, you’ve got access to my wallet right now. But you’re never consistent with speed — in fact, it’s dipped fairly low recently, into my “this sucks” zone — and I can’t stand you. Your service never feels like help but more often feels like I’m asking permission for something.

Verizon, I’ve never had your internet service, but you were my cellphone provider for a while there and you weren’t all that impressive. I’ve heard only great things about Fios, though, so I’m hopeful. But if it’s so great, why do you need me to sign a one year contract? Shouldn’t you be confident that your amazing download speeds and friendly customer service will keep me happy?

Aol: the field is bleak. Do you think you have the non-suckitude to give it one last go?

Yes, I’m desperate enough to invite Aol* to the dance. And if Compuserve or Prodigy are still out there, well, I could be talked into giving them a listen, too.

Whatever happens, I just hope one of you steps forward and doesn’t suck. That’s it. Here I am, my money’s sitting here on the table. Who wants it?

Sincerely,

Pete

* = Note it’s no longer all capitalized… Rebranding, yeah!

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