THE PEOPLE’S PILOT ONLINE WRITING CONTEST HAS BEEN CANCELLED

by Larry Brody

Some of you have gotten in touch to remind me that for the past several years the PEOPLE’S PILOT has opened on June 1st and to ask if an opening date has been set for PEOPLE’S PILOT 2020.

I hate having to say this, but there won’t be an opening date this year, and right now it looks as though the competition that has become synonymous with  TVWriter™ to many people probably won’t be back for quite awhile, if ever.

The following notice, which I posted on the PP landing page yesterday (at both https://peoplespilot.com and https://tvwriter.com/contests-the-peoples-pilot/) hits the salient points:

The PEOPLE’S PILOT Writing Contest has been helping new TV & film writers get the recognition they deserve for 20 years.

The current cultural, medical, and financial climates, however, have made it impossible for TVWriter™ to continue with the PP.

We believe it is imperative to correct the political, ethical, business, and public health problems that have caused so much recent suffering, and are channeling the energy formerly used for running our signature competition to that end.

We look forward to the day when The People’s Pilot can return. In the meantime, please be aware that:

For me, this is a very sad announcement.

I created the PP and have overseen 28 different runnings of the contest over the past 20 years. (For 4 of those years the PP was so popular we held it every six months.) This is the end of an era in my life.

The stresses all of us in the U.S. have been subjected to for the past three and a half + years have been affecting me more and more recently, probably because of my age and its attendant illnesses, including a recent battle with cancer.

No, I’m not going to die from that cancer. I had surgery four months ago, and the ever-able Dr. Dimitri Kuznetsov, got it all.

But these days I’m much more aware of the fact that I’m 75 years old and mortal as hell. And as a writer who spent most of my working life writing and/or producing TV shows like Police Story, Hawaii Five-0, The Streets of San Francisco, and on and on, I find myself wondering how much I’ve contributed to the glorification of guns and violence and general bullshit machismo that has and is causing so much harm.

I’ve been doing an overabundance of overthinking lately, and the regret that’s caused, combined with the fact that over the years PEOPLE’S PILOT has taken more time, effort, and toil than everything I do regarding TVWriter™ has brought me back to the primary feeling of my young adulthood – “It’s time to make this world a better place!”

But how do I do that when I have so much less energy than I did when I was that young man?

Since starting TVWriter™ in 1997 and completing the break from active TV work that I began in the early ’90s, I’ve dedicated myself to helping new writers master their craft and create meaningful and fulfilling written work.  This has become as important to me as my own writing was.

The way I see it, the thing I do best in my life these days is the teaching, mentoring, consulting thing. So that’s what TVWriter™ and I are going to concentrate on from now on.

Well, that and the actual living my life in a way that allows me to spend more time with my family and those I love.

Oh, and speaking of spending my time, I am now facing the fact that no matter how much I would like to get all of the PEOPLE’S PILOT 2019 Feedback out to its entrants, that just ain’t gonna happen.

To make up for that, I’ve expanded my online teaching schedule and will be offering Special Discount fees for the TVWriter™ Advanced Workshop or LB’s Master Class to qualified PP 2019 entrants. I also hope to be able to make a discounted Basic Workshop available to the remaining entrants, but that may take awhile.

An email with the deets will be winging its way to the involved parties next week.

That’s it for now. Stay healthy. Stay safe.

And don’t forget to WRITE!

LYMI LB

 

 

Larry Brody: Live! From Paradise! #98 “Horse Brothers”

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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

When I first settled into Paradise I thought about how good a place it would be for our horses, Huck the Spotless Appaloosa and Elaine the Not So Wild Mustang.

After all, they’d been living for years in Southern California,
where the only way to make grass grow is to spend more money watering it each month than people in most other places spend on their mortgages.

Cloud Creek Ranch has a fair-sized pasture complete with a spring fed pond that my neighbors swear hasn’t gone dry once in the last fifty years. I envisioned the two horses grazing contentedly—with me looking on instead of schlepping hay as I’d been doing back in L.A.

That dream, however, got blown out of the water early on.

Because Huck’s been my equine brother since he was a foal, and as far as he’s concerned he should be living in the house, not outside. And certainly not as far outside as the pasture.

“I can’t see you from down here,” he told me. “Can’t hear your voice or Gwen’s. No way I’m staying that far away.” And he backed up his talk with the kind of horse screaming that made it sound like he was going through torture that would put me smack dab behind bars.

So instead of chomping their way through the pasture, Huck and Elaine inhabit a corral about ten feet from the main house. Sure, grass was growing quite well there when we put up the fence, but it’s a lot smaller than a pasture and a week later the grass was gone.

Eaten. Crushed. Burned out by horsepucky. Anyone who knows horses knows how that goes.

And anyone who knows horses also knows what corral life means.

Schlepping lots of hay.

And, in the late winter and early spring, trying to find enough of it to schlep. Especially if the horses are totally devoted to alfalfa.

In California, Huck and Elaine dined on alfalfa that was moist and sweet and ribboned with little purple flowers. And why not? Alfalfa thrives there. But in

Paradise the ground is too hard and rocky for long alfalfa roots. The hay’s got to be imported, and as time slips further and further behind the last summer cut, alfalfa becomes more and more scarce.

Last year’s drought conditions have added to the problem, and to cut to the chase, last week I started feeding the horses bales of Bermuda, orchard, and Timothy grass, and the result has been One Mighty Battle of Wills.

Huck hates the stuff. And let me know it from the beginning.

“Pfaugh! Yuck! You call this food?” His voice rose shrilly. “It’s not even soft enough to be bedding for a pig!”

He shook his head. Pawed the ground. Squealed and reared. Kicked the water trough.

And when Elaine came over he wouldn’t let her touch it either. He pushed her away, and when she returned hungrily he nipped her. One of those horse authority bites that takes a smaller chunk out of whoever it’s directed at than an anger bite but still hurts a lot more than a bite filled with horse love.

“Don’t do that,” he said. “Don’t let Larry B see you eat this junk. We’ve got to stand firm. Hold out for what we deserve.”

Huck’s been standing firm since that first day. Making a bigger show of his disdain for what every other horse accepts without a problem with every meal. He’s even taken to running at the flakes and scattering them or pushing them outside the fence.

Except that it’s all for show.

Late at night, when he thinks Gwen the Beautiful and I are asleep…when he’s sure no one is watching—yes!—that’s when Huck saunters over to the strewn Bermuda and orchard and Timothy grass, like a street dude whistling and looking at the sky, and starts scarfing it down. Lets Elaine join him in the repast.

And in the morning, when most of the hay has “magically” vanished, he swivels his big eyes at me and screeches, “Alfalfa! Alfalfa now! You @#%$!” and turns up his nose at the Bermuda et al I give him instead.

At first Huck’s attitude angered me. Now, though, I find myself watching and laughing at his refrain:

“Fight for what’s yours! Don’t let The Man see you bend!”

I couldn’t ask for a better horse brother.

Or one more like me.

Larry Brody: Live! From Paradise! #97 “Magical Overtime”

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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

Lately it seems like Cloud Creek’s magic has been working overtime.
In addition to my face to face (well, okay, more like a face-to-the-top
-of-his-fuzzy-back) meeting with Draco the Ghost Dog, Gwen the Beautiful and I have been dealing with some ghostly scents and a very specific ghost sound.

The scents have been good, actually. Otherwise I would’ve called them “smells.” Or “odors.” Said the right way the word “odor” means something most foul.

But these scents have been genuine “aromas.” The first one is in what we call our Great Room, the big downstairs area of our log house. The minute you walk in the door it hits you like tobacco smoke from a well-worn pipe.

And not just any pipe either. It’s the warm, soothing scent of a medicine man’s ceremonial pipe, passed around by Indian People gathered in a sweat lodge, or at a healing.

This makes our whole house smell like a kind of healing. Warm and comforting. Whenever I’m at my desk I inhale and think of the times I spent with good friends on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, and the Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico.

Can a house be tender? Ours now is.

Over in the Annex, where Burl Jr. the New Groundskeeper sleeps, we’ve got another new scent as well.

Not food, although the trailer was busy for about a year cycling through food faves in an attempt to find one we’d love.

No, this time it’s what some snobs might call “cheap” perfume, but I’ll characterize as—oh, how about “inexpensive?”

I’ve got to keep my response positive because this scent too is familiar.

It’s my late mother-in-law’s perfume.

Entering the Annex has become just like walking into Gwen’s mother’s house when she was alive. The first time Gwen sniffed it she couldn’t help herself. Immediately, she called out, “Mom?”

I was more formal. I said, “Laverne?”

Miraculously, both of us were answered immediately. By the sound from the wall clock that’s the only one of my mother-in-law’s belongings we brought back here after she died.

It’s a QVC collectible thingie that strikes the hour with four bars of any one of several Disney songs in its repertoire. On this particular occasion it played Laverne’s favorite: “When You Wish Upon a Star.”

“It’s Mom all right,” Gwen said.

“The magic of Cloud Creek strikes again,” I said. “It’s brought your mother here to live with Burl Jr.”

“His girlfriend’s not going to like that,” said Gwen.

“Hmm…come to think of it,” I said, “he may not like it either.”

Regardless of how Burl Jr. feels about Laverne’s presence (and he’s too smart a kid to say), I can tell you how I feel about another magical occurrence centered in our house.

It’s a sound, and like the tobacco “aroma” it emanates from the Great Room.

But from a specific place in that room.

The northwest corner.

My desk.

And, like my mother-in-law’s perfume, the sound is of something Gwen and I know quite well. In fact, we know it better than any other sound in the world.

That’s right. It’s the sound of typing. Except louder than any computer keyboard should ever be.

Click. Clack. Clickity clack….

In the wee hours of the morning. Like three a.m.

Clickity clackity click.

While we’re sleeping and no other human is in the house, and nothing—absolutely nothing—is anywhere near the computer, which is powered down and still.

Clackity click clack.

Has there ever been a film called The Attack of the Ghost Writer?

Well, someone should get on it. Maybe I’ll call one of my old Hollywood writer friends and invite him to stay here awhile.

Better yet, I’ll call and invite him to switch houses for a spell.

A spell long enough for Gwen and me to sleep straight through just one night without—

Click. Clack. Click-clack!

I know I sound like I’m complaining. But regular readers here know that’s not the case. I’m bedazzled by the magic that pervades the mountaintop property we call Cloud Creek Ranch.

And I’m curious. So curious it makes my mind ache.

I want to know:

What in the universe is causing all this?

What does it mean?

And, more than anything else, I want to know: Why?

As usual, if you’ve got answers I’d love to hear ‘em. Drop me an e-mail any time. Meanwhile, don’t you worry. I’m on the case as well.

Larry Brody: Live! From Paradise! #96 “Naming the Hens…”

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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

When Gwen the Beautiful and I first arrived on our mountaintop we were the proud but clueless inheritors of a dozen chickens left behind by the original owners. The brood consisted of three roosters and nine hens.

We had a big black rooster with a Rastafarian “hairdo.” A bigger yellow rooster who ruled the roost. A tiny banty rooster who got pecked any time he so much as looked at a hen.

And the hens he barely got to see were something indeed. Three big yellow hens who looked like divas from the Metropolitan Opera. Three plump red hens like dowagers in a Victorian novel. Three striped hens who would’ve made perfect throw pillows exactly as they were.

We gave all the chickens names, and took care of them as best we could. But time and attrition and our ignorance thinned out the group.

Maybe the fact that we named them all after food had something to do with it.

Although we didn’t eat them, it could be that the universe developed a hungering of its own for Chicken Cacciatore, Lemon Chicken, Chicken ala King, Cajun Chicken, Chicken Teriyaki, Orange Chicken, and—alas!—the big guy known as Stir Fry.

In a few years the banty rooster, “McNugget,” was the only guy left, and his harem was down to two yellow hens and two striped.

A young writer in the area came to the rescue, trading five Leghorn hens from his grandfather’s coop for some lessons in television writing. The Leghorn Girls, Lulu, Lola, Layla, Lila, and Trixie, were instant favorites with McNugget, and also with me.

Ah, what wonderful times we had together!

They clucked.

I sang back. “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” in the most chickenlike voice I could muster.
They ran all around the chicken yard.

I cleaned up what they left behind.

They ate delicious, nutritious meals of chicken scratch and egg pellets and the cheapest white bread I could find.

I tossed out the scratch and the pellets and the pieces of bread.

It was fun, actually, even if we ended up with more eggs than any two people ever could eat. I thought it would never end.

Then came our two blazing summers. The soaring temperatures and a disease the County Agent couldn’t identity took two of the remaining original hens and all but one of the Leghorn Girls, one by one.

‘Bye, Lulu.”

“So long, Lola.”

“Hasta la vista, Layla, and Lila too.”

I tried my best to keep them alive, including antibiotics and a trip to the bird vet in Springfield, Missouri. But nothing worked.

I failed.

I cried.

Well, why not? They were like people to me. Friends. Every bit as individually distinguishable as our dogs and horses. More, even, than our cats.

After we said good-bye to Lila, Gwen said, “That’s it. No more chickens. We’re done.”

“Right,” I said. “We’ve still got McNugget and Chicken Vesuvius and Trixie. Let’s leave it at that.”

But that big, empty chicken yard sure looked forlorn. And feeding a measly three chickens just didn’t give me that Farmer Brody buzz.

So when Karen the Post Lady said, “My neighbor has Silkie hens he doesn’t have room for,” I said, “Put me down for twelve.”

At which point Gwen said, “Twelve hens?! What re you thinking?!”

And I said, “Okay, make that six.”

So for the last few months we’ve had nine chickens. Eight hens and their very happy banty man.

The Silkies are small and fluffy and cute. They run to greet me like toddlers when I come in to feed them and take their eggs. They stay close, and they join in the chorus when I do my “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” concert.

How long will they live? Got me. But I’ve learned a lot over the years. I know more about chicken diets. Their need for ventilation. Meds to give. And I’ll be watching them more closely than before.

There’s one thing I won’t do, though, and that’s name them. I’ll keep my emotional distance by letting them be just “the chickens.” No personal feelings involved.

But they do make me smile. Like they’re my little girls….

And, as I think about it, the little one that makes friends so fast—she kind of looks like a Gertrude to me. No, make that Gertie. And that one there in the back—if I ever saw an Ethel she’s the one….

Larry Brody: Live! From Paradise! #95 “Speaking of Friendship…”

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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

One blustery day Burl Jr. the New Groundskeeper and I were outside clearing out the raised garden beds at the back of the clearing so Gwen the Beautiful could plant Paradise’s second best crop—tomatoes.

(The Number One best crop, of course, is rocks. And no one’s got to plant ‘em. The rocks have got “growing wild” all worked out.)

“Ouch!” Burl Jr. dropped the vine he’d been pulling at. “Dumb stickers!”

I laughed. Burl Jr. fixed me with a hard look. “What’s so funny?”

“How polite you were,” I said. “Even though you were hurting and annoyed. That made me think of what Brannigan the Contractor would’ve said if he’d been in your shoes.”

“He’d be swearing a blue streak,” said Burl Jr. “He’d be going on so loud and so long that the crows would be crying for him to give them a chance to talk.” His brow furrowed. “What’s with you two guys anyway?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, you’re such good friends. But you’re so different. Brannigan’s a yeller, whether he’s happy or sad. He’s always got something to say and no problem pushing right in to say it no matter what anybody else thinks or wants. I know people around here who’re scared to death of him.

“But you,” Burl Jr. went on, “you’re Larry B. ‘Larry B. Good’ some folks call you. Or ‘Larry B. Proud.’ ‘Larry B. Smart.’ You’re like a spy. Hanging around quietly and watching. Not like somebody who’d be Brannigan’s friend at all.”

“I don’t know about the ‘Larry B. Good’ thing,” I said, “but I watch so I can learn. And one of the things I’ve learned is that Brannigan’s not who people think he is. That’s only an act.”

Burl Jr. went to work on that vine with a rake. He nodded toward what he was doing. “Got to keep myself safe,” he said. “So who’s Brannigan really?”

“He’s a man who loves to draw. He did a little sketch of some cabins he wanted to build to replace the hay shed over there, and it was so good it looked like it should be framed. When I told him that he got all red in the face and shy and mumbled about how he’d wanted to be a cartoonist when he was a kid.”

“Brannigan the Contractor drawing Spider-Man? Ha! No way.”

“Brannigan the Cartoonist drawing Dilbert would be more like it,” I said.

“He’s a Dilbert kind of guy? Who would’ve thought?”

“There’s a lot of things about him no one would think. I remember when he and I first met. He really liked the property and wanted to see more of it. We took a walk down to the Old Settlers’ Cabins, and then to where the creek used to be.

“About halfway down there it was like he and I had disappeared and been replaced by Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. We turned into eight year old boys, creeping through the woods. Pushing through the brambles, on a Quest for the Source. Brannigan was convinced that if we could find where the spring the feeds the creek had been buried by bulldozers we could uncover it and make it flow again.

“We didn’t find the spring, but we had more fun that I’d had in years. You should’ve seen Brannigan, spotting tracks he decided were made by Bigfoot himself! He got so caught up tracking that thing I didn’t think I’d ever get him back up here.”

“Brannigan with an imagination? You’re rocking my world, dude.”

“He uses his imagination too. Know what he does on weekends? Goes to craft fairs selling beautiful hand carved candlesticks…and the hands that carved them are his.”

Carefully, Burl Jr. untangled the vines from the teeth of the rake. “So why does he hide that part of him?” he said.

I pointed to the rake. “Why’d you say you were using that?”

“To be safe.” A smile crossed Burl Jr.’s face. “Oh,” he said. “But that still doesn’t explain why you’re his friend.”

“I’m Brannigan’s friend because I’ve seen what a brave man he is. It takes courage to open yourself up to someone else, even for just a minute, and be who you really are.”

“Is this who you really are?” said Burl Jr.

I grabbed a spade. Started turning over some earth. “We’ve got work to do!” I said.