LB: TVWriter™ in the Time of Covid-19

Yes, it’s true. Yet another website – this one – is updating its policies for the duration of the C-Plague.

After giving it a great deal of time and thought, I must regretfully announce that delivery of the remaining Feedback for entries in PEOPLE’S PILOT 2019 is being suspended until, well, until further notice, I’m afraid, and certainly until this coming Fall at the earliest.

Similarly, PEOPLE’S PILOT 2020, formerly scheduled to open for entries June 1st, is also being suspended until further notice, and I’m as regretful about that as I am about the Feedback.

The Covid-19 situation may well be the most stressful event I have faced in my life. I’ve had to face the possibility of death before, due to such things as the Vietnam War, my two heart attacks, quintuple coronary bypass surgery, and most recently prostate cancer treatment and surgery, but the current pandemic has me in a much stronger grasp.

At this point in time my psyche just plain isn’t as resilient as it once was, nor is my ambition anywhere nearly as important to me as in the past. I feel a duty to fulfill my obligations – which is why I’m announcing a postponement instead of outright cancellation – but I’m simply unable to do so.

Compounding this is the fact that for past weeks I’ve been running TVWriter™ and PEOPLE’S PILOT entirely alone. The kind and wonderful people who have helped so much in the past are dealing with their own virus-related and personal issues. Which is as it should be, but taking care of business has unfortunately become more difficult and time-consuming than ever.

FWIW, my original reaction to this time of self social isolation, was, “Hey, great, I love working alone, especially when the work is writing. Been practicing it for years and should be at the top of my game!”

Over the last month and a half, however, I’ve come to realize how much more is involved here than writing. I have a wife I love beyond measure, plus four children and seven grandchildren (including two I haven’t yet met), plus a pair of amazing dogs, and the overarching awareness that any or all of us I could die any time now overwhelms everything else. Period.

To put it bluntly: I would never forgive myself if I didn’t spend as much time as possible attending to my loved ones while there is still the chance to do so, and I hope that those who read this will understand that feeling. Our lives aren’t only about writing. They’re about being there for those who love and need us and doing everything we can for them.

What’s that? Did I hear somebody ask about the TVWriter™ website itself? And my Master Class?

After thinking long and hard about what I’m capable of doing and what I need to do to remain, well, myself I want to tell you all that, yeppers, kids, I fully intend to continue  updating TVWriter™ daily (in the slightly abridged form it’s been for the past few weeks, but the voice underlying everything will be mine and mine alone. Which reminds me to say, “Please humor me, gang, if I make too many blogging mistakes, grammatically, tonally, and everything in between.

Similarly, I will be continuing the Master Class Sessions and their once/week meetings because I love, love, love ’em. Period.

To reiterate, because I once read in a book about essay writing that this is the place where I’m supposed to do that:

  • Larry Brody’s PEOPLE’S PILOT 2019 Feedback has been indefinitely suspended
  • PEOPLE’S PILOT 2020 has been indefinitely suspended
  • TVWriter™ will continue to be updated daily indefinitely
  • LB’s Master Class also will continue indefinitely

Welcome to Generation Covid. No matter when we were born, we’re all in it together.

Love You Mean It, and please stay healthy and safe!

LB

Larry Brody: Live! From Paradise! #90 “Dyeing”

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THE USUAL NOTE FROM LB: From the summer of 2002 to  the spring of 2010, Gwen the Beautiful and I were the proud and often exhausted owners of a beautiful Ozarks property we called Cloud Creek Ranch.

In many ways, the ranch was paradise. But it was a paradise with a price that started going up before we even knew it existed. Here’s another Monday musing about our adventure and the lessons we learned.

Oh, and if y’all detect any irony, please believe me when I say it comes straight from the universe and not your kindly Uncle Larry B.


by Larry Brody

A couple of weeks ago I did something embarrassing.

I mean really embarrassing.

I dyed my hair.

And it’s all the fault of…well, I’d like to come up with some universal symbol of evil, but even though I’m as out of touch with myself as the next guy I know the sad truth: My own vanity’s to blame.

Thanks to the recent holidays, plus my birthday and requests for pictures from readers of this space, I’ve been forced to see myself through the lens of a variety of cameras. And my reaction every time has been the same:

“Who the !@#*! is that?”

Because—guess what?—that old boy with the dingy, washed out gray hair is not who I see in my mirror in the morning when I brush my teeth. Or reflected in the window of Sweet Jane’s antique shop whenever I peer into it to wave as I go by.

He couldn’t be.

What I see there is a man I know well. Myself. Thin face, slight smile, dark lines. A touch of my father in the mouth and jaw. A bit of my mother around the eyes.

Oh…and light brown hair.

So what’s this gray business in pictures? Is it a trick of the light—no matter where I am? A product of the flash going off—even when no flash is used? Do wicked little invisible Anxiety Spirits gather ‘round every time someone gets me in their rangefinder and do a quick tint just to drive me nuts?

It’s not that I mind aging. On the contrary, I’m proud of myself for having survived as long as I have considering the obstacles just plain old everyday life thrusts into our paths.

I’ve got no objection to the new spots on my face or the softening of my belly or the creasing of my skin. I’m aware of these and so many other symptoms of the fatal condition that is life. And I don’t think I’d mind the hair thing so much if it was, say, white or silver. Definitive. Strong.

Right out there.

Anything but this insidious, invisible-to-me-except-when-snapped gray.

Learning that other people have seen my hair in this flawed coloration for quite a while hasn’t exactly made me feel better either.

“Gray? Well, I guess I’d describe you as having gray hair,” said Sweet Jane said when I asked her. “But it’s not something I’d dwell on.”

Beside her, Brannigan the Contractor snickered. “Gray? Gray? Absolutely right your hair is gray! What do you mean you can’t see it? It’s right there all around your face!”

Then there was Gwen the Beautiful. “Yes, your hair is gray,” she said. And then, quickly, seeing the look on my face: “A beautiful shade of gray that I get to look at everyday.”

“How have I missed it?” I said. “Am I that blind to myself?”

“As a mother,” Gwen said, “I’ve learned that the best answer to that question is in an old poem. Something about ‘What a rare gift it is to see ourselves as others see us.’”

“The poet who wrote that didn’t mean it literally,” I protested. “He meant that we should know ourselves better. Our hearts. Our souls.”

“Well, then let me tell you what I’ve learned as a woman,” said Gwen. “If you don’t like what you see when you look at yourself, change it. And that’s pretty easy to do when all you’re talking about is the color of your hair.”

Which is how it came to pass that two weeks ago we went to Wal-Mart and laid out six bucks for a box of #60 Light Brown Acorn hair color. After which we came home and Gwen did the deed.

When she was finished I looked at myself in the mirror.

I looked the same.

Out came the digital Nikon. Snap. Snap. Snap.

Download—

And presto! There I was. Larry B with the light brown hair.

“I look the same,” I said.

But I don’t feel the same. And instead of feeling more like myself I feel less.

Because now, everywhere I go, without saying a word, I’m lying about how I look. About who I really am.

And you know the problem with telling a lie. Once you’ve started you’ve got to keep going, just to keep from being found out.

Wonder how much a brow lift will cost?

Hmm, I think I’ve just gotten past the shame….

Larry Brody: Live! From Paradise! #89 “Runnin’ with the Wind”

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THE USUAL NOTE FROM LB: From the summer of 2002 to  the spring of 2010, Gwen the Beautiful and I were the proud and often exhausted owners of a beautiful Ozarks property we called Cloud Creek Ranch.

In many ways, the ranch was paradise. But it was a paradise with a price that started going up before we even knew it existed. Here’s another Monday musing about our adventure and the lessons we learned.

Oh, and if y’all detect any irony, please believe me when I say it comes straight from the universe and not your kindly Uncle Larry B.


by Larry Brody

Live! From Paradise!
Column #89
By Larry Brody

My life took an unexpected turn last weekend. I’m still sorting it out.

Gwen the Beautiful and I had planned to visit Wanda the Arkansas Angel. But a phone call changed that.

“Hey, it’s Zeph. I’m in the neighborhood. Got time for me to drop in?”

I hadn’t heard that voice in almost a decade, since a rookie cop named Zeph was assigned to take me around Cowboy City while I shot a movie there. He was bright, helpful, a good guy, but although I was happy to hear from him this wasn’t the best time.

Zeph caught my hesitation. “I’m in trouble,” he said. “I need your help.”

That’s not something you say no to. I gave him the directions to our little corner of Paradise.

“I’ll be there tomorrow morning,” Zeph said.

The Zeph I remembered was a man of his word. That hadn’t changed. The next morning a battered old Dodge pulled into our clearing. Out popped an older, troubled version of the eager young man I remembered, his sandy hair now tinged with gray.

We did the welcoming embrace thing, and I asked if he wanted coffee.

“No thanks,” he said. There was an edge in his voice.

Nervousness?

“No time,” he went on.

No. Not nervousness.

Desperation.

“C’mon,” I said. “Let’s talk.”

Decker the Giant-Hearted accompanied us down the trail to the Original Settlers’ Cabins. These days, the cookhouse is just a three-sided shell, and the main cabin looks like it’ll follow suit any day.

“Some wreck, huh?” I said.

“Reminds me of my life,” said Zeph. And then, in a torrent:

“I’m on the run, bud. Ten years a cop and now I’m on the other side. They put me undercover a couple years ago. I was always Mr. Clean so nobody wrong knew me. Made me the perfect nark.

“I met users and dealers and smiled and became their friend. Played ‘em off each other. Set ‘em up. Put ‘em in the slammer! I was awesome at my job.

“Then I met Ruby. She was a crystal meth addict but hadn’t lost her looks yet. We fell in love, and I straightened her out. She flew through rehab! To celebrate, I left my wife and daughter. Ruby and I became one.

“The PD put me into a big sting operation. Our little Podunk City squad and some Feds. My ticket to a promotion. After it was over I’d be a lieutenant, and off the street.

“I was worried about how Ruby would take it when she found out I wasn’t the bum she thought. Decided to force the issue and told her straight out. She freaked. And then she made a very bad move.

“The Feds had given me a bag with $10,000 for the big buy that would break a very bad guy. The day before we were set to roll, Ruby and the bag disappeared.

“I found Ruby five days later,” Zeph continued. “She was zonked out of her head ‘cause she’d spent every penny in that bag on crystal. The Feds figured out what’d happened. They wanted her. And the PD wanted me.

“There’s a right way to do things and a wrong one. I was crazy in love, and I made a choice. Threw Ruby into my undercover car and took off with her. Anything to keep her out of jail.”

“Where is she now?”

“She bailed in Tulsa. Turned herself in and said I’d put her up to it. Now everybody’s after just me. I loved her, Larry! I feel all broken inside. Like somebody crushed my spirit. And I think that somebody was me.”

Decker jumped up on Zeph. Put his paws on Zeph’s shoulders and licked his face. A face that already was wet with tears.

Zeph patted him. Turned to me. “Thanks for the talk. Feels a little better now, getting it out.”

Without another word, Zeph headed back up the trail. As I started after him a gust of wind blowing from the southeast stopped me. I turned to face it.

“What’s going to happen?” I said. “What’s he going to do?”

“What he has to,” the wind said. “Just like everyone else.”

And then:

“You did good.”

“I didn’t do anything,” I told the wind. “I wanted to make everything better. But I just let the man talk.”

Another gust plucked my hat from my head. Sent it sailing. “I was talking to Decker!” said the wind.

Larry Brody: Live! From Paradise! #88 – “Cloudcreek’s New Gym”

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THE USUAL NOTE FROM LB: From the summer of 2002 to  the spring of 2010, Gwen the Beautiful and I were the proud and often exhausted owners of a beautiful Ozarks property we called Cloud Creek Ranch.

In many ways, the ranch was paradise. But it was a paradise with a price that started going up before we even knew it existed. Here’s another Monday musing about our adventure and the lessons we learned.

Oh, and if y’all detect any irony, please believe me when I say it comes straight from the universe and not your kindly Uncle Larry B.


by Larry Brody

No sooner had word gotten out that part of Gwen the Beautiful’s regimen for regaining her health was exercise than we got a call from Wanda, the Angel of Arkansas.

“I’ve got just what you need,” she said. “A professional multi-gym. C’mon down here and get it.”

“What’re you doing with a professional home gym?” I said.

Wanda sighed. “Know how I work with parolees? Well, there was this boy who needed a job before they’d let him out of prison. He’d been a prize fighter before, so I helped him set up a boxing camp here at my place, for kids.”

“You’re amazing,” I said. “What happened?”

“How about we just say the gym set’s in my garage and the prize fighter’s on the lam and let it go? I plain don’t want to see the thing anymore.”

Wanda measured the gym. I measured the bed of my truck. Almost a perfect fit. I hunted around for some help and, finally, Brannigan the Contractor and Doug the Dog Breeder “volunteered.”

We three Good Ole Boys highwayed it to Wanda’s last week, and after three hours of lifting and cussing and sweating and cussing and trading tales about what mighty muscleheads we used to be and cussing the gym was on the truck and we were back on the road.

“Now that’s what I call a fine day’s work,” Doug the Dog Breeder said.

“Got my blood pumping!” roared Brannigan. “I’m ready for anything!”

“Good,” I said. “Because we’ve still got to wrestle this thing into the storage shed and set it up.”

“And I’d love to help you!” Brannigan said. “But I think I hear Sweet Jane’s siren call.”

Doug turned to him. “Well then, we’ll see you at Larry B’s first thing tomorrow morning, right?”

Brannigan hesitated. Doug’s eyes drilled into him.

“Right,” said Brannigan. “First thing.”

“First thing” turned out to be about noon. I woke up with both shoulders aching and could hardly lift my arms. Doug reported that, “My back’s so frozen up I’m using my hair to sweep the floor.”

As for Brannigan:

“Knee replacement surgery! That’s my future!” he announced as he eased himself out of his pickup and limped to the shed.

It took until sundown to set up the gym.

The first casualty of the day was my tailgate, which went flying off when a strut got lodged in just the wrong place.

The second casualty was one of the crossbars supporting the shed’s roof, which went flying when another strut bashed it in a wronger place.

The third casualty was the gym itself. Only one of its weight stations worked the way it should.

Three Not Quite As Good As We Used To Be Ole Boys stood in the doorway, shaking our heads.

“You hear what I hear?” said Brannigan. “I believe it’s time for dinner, and Sweet Jane.”

“Isn’t that my name she’s calling too?” Doug said. “Call us if you need us, LB.”

“Some time in April’d be good,” Brannigan added. “I should be almost recovered by then.”

So there I was, alone and left to do what I do worst. Take machinery apart to try and make it work, and then put it together again.

Sometimes, though, you get lucky. By four the next morning everything was functioning the way it was supposed to—except the pull-down bar, which plain refused to budge.

Exhausted though I was, I made myself oil everything up. Gazed at the gleaming metal maze. “It’s all right,” I said. “I love you anyway.”

The multi-gym seemed to awaken from a long sleep. “That prize fighter put me together wrong,” it said. “He mixed up a couple of pulleys. If you switch them around I’ll work. I promise I will.”

As it spoke, I knew exactly which pulleys it meant. I switched them, just like the gym said. Re-connected the bar.

Pulled…

And up the weight stack slid!

I thought Wanda was doing us a big favor by giving us the gym. She thought I was doing her one by removing it from her garage.

But the truth is it’s the “professional multi-gym” that scored. Together, everyone involved in this little project gave it back its purpose. Its life. And it knows it too.

After the first time Gwen worked out, she came back into the house and gave me a big kiss.

“The gym says to tell you, ‘I love you,’” she said. “And it also says, ‘Thanks.’”

Getting Notes for Your Writing – The Screenwriting Life #1

Here’s an outstanding video (podcast?) for all screen and TV writers. It’s the first in a series featuring Meg LeFauve and Lorien McKenna, whose combined credits include writing and production on such films as Inside Out, The Good Dinosaur and Captain Marvel, and we’re hoping it will be followed by many more.

From Popcorn Talk