The Bag Means Your Mind

A delightful mix of insightful comments and ignorant assumptions about screenwriting... and such.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

I Accept the Nomination

I should start off by saying that I'm not a political person. I mean I care about this country, but at the same time I don't (another topic). So I come before you today to tell you that, as of early this morning, I secured the Republican* nomination to run for President of the United States.

I was overwhelmed. I edged out Bill Clinton 51% to 49%, and I was a write-in when I went to the polls that day. Oh, and if you're concerned that I've begun experimenting with hallucinogens I can tell you that this all happened in an incredibly vivid dream.

Allow me to break down every disjointed and nonsensical moment (that I can remember).

I was at this place. I guess it was a polling place, but it was as if there was only one vote and Republicans from all around the country had to converge on one spot to vote. Like some sort of rally. I suppose it would be as if the Republican National Convention was also a one and done primary of sorts. I don't know. Just run with it.

I find that I'm on the ballot and a picture of me (not unlike the picture you'd upload to a community web site (OK so I'm signed up for on-line dating. Wanna fight about it?). So somehow it's down to me and ol' Bill. Of course it seemed perfectly natural that he was a Republican and would be running for President. You know I'm not even sure that he was President before in my dreamverse.

Anyway the votes are being tallied, and I'm thinking there's a chance. My father is next to me telling me that he hopes I'll pull it out, but that he thinks I'll probably come up short. By the way, my father is normally very supportive in real-life (tm). I'll drowsily pontificate that I was projecting myself onto my father. But there is probably more to it than that.

A guy comes up to make the announcement. All eyes are on him. He starts talking. The anticipation is killing me. I'm thinking, "I can do this. I can win this. Holy crap I could win this! I'm not ready." A big screen behind him displays the results. I win by a slim margin. There is thunderous applause, and everyone starts hugging me.

I won't kid you, it was pretty damn cool.

Suddenly I find myself arriving late to another gathering. This is where the candidacies for both parties are announced. Picture both Conventions happening at the same time in D.C. and after the vote the candidates and supporters converge on one place for a ceremony and party.

I file into the back with my ex-wife (I'm guessing still my wife in the dream), but I barely interacted with her. She was just there. It is standing room only. Some old ladies who are sitting down recognize me and inform me that I shouldn't be standing. They clear a seat for me. I reluctantly sit.

The speech is boring and if I wasn't so elated by my victory I might have been nodding off. Then I started to think about what this nomination meant in terms of my life. Would I have to quit my job to campaign? What dirty secrets were they going to dig up about me in the coming months? Could *I* really be President? I could. I really could.

Suddenly, the ceremony is over and the old lady next to me tells me I should get going.


I wake up before my alarm has a chance to sound. Reality has become surreality and it takes me a full five seconds to realize that I had woken up from a dream. I was disappointed and relieved at the same time. I'm not sure that combination of feelings is possible in the real world.

So what does it all mean? It could be prophetic. Not in the sense that I'm going to be President some day (I won't), but that my world is about to change, and exciting things lay ahead. Or the explanation could be more mundane. I'm waiting for someone to get back to me about my script. I'd sent them the script the day after President's Day and planned to contact them next week after a month. Or maybe it was because I mentioned to friends that someone told me of a documentary where Chris Rock revealed that he wanted to be President early in his life. Or perhaps I was unconsciously recalling e-mails from a group of friends who are more politically active than I. And so on.

Like most things in life, your point of view is crucial. You can choose to believe in things happening for a reason, or things happening through a confluence of random variables aligning for no reason. I've always been a purpose-minded individual, and I'm reminded by a line of dialog from Signs that has stuck with me: "Is it possible that there are no coincidences?"

I don't believe that I'm receiving some message from the cosmos, but I don't discount the power of the human mind, patiently compiling data, having this sort of meta-conscience of its own. I think it's trying to tell me what I know at my core and is obfuscated by layers of uncertainty and self-doubt.

I can do it. I can do this. My life is going to change in exciting and frightening ways. Consider this another in a long line of wake-up calls. Literally.

* I know the large majority of you reading this out there are of the liberal persuasion. Though I won't categorize myself as a Republican, I can only say that the world seems to make most sense through a conservative lens. We all have lenses.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

My First (and probably last) Meme.

So Tavis tagged me, and the meme actually intrigued me so here it is. Guess the movie from the quote. Forgive me if all aren't verbatim. I know of only one person alive who has a chance at all 15. Some are easy. Others are even easier. Have at it.

1) "I did not know how empty was my soul, until it was filled."

2) "Fuck fish."

3) "You're just a tourist with a typewriter."

4) "She's not too young for me. She'll be twenty-seven in four years."

5) "Satan Claws is out there, and he's getting stronger every day."

6) "It's a dick thing. A D. I. C. K. thing."

7) "When there was no meat we ate fowl. And when there was no fowl we ate crawdads. And when there was no crawdads to be found, we ate sand."

8) "The last great opportunity of a lifetime. An entire world at war, and I'm left out of it? God will not permit this to happen. I'm going to be allowed to fullfill my destiny!"

9) "Some mistakes, I guess we never stop paying for."

10) "I'm not saying it about someone LIKE Kibner. I'm saying it about Kibner."

11) "I'm haunted by waters."

12) "You couldn't hear a dump truck driving through a nitroglycerin plant."

13) "True power is derived from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic cermony."

14) "I'm not talking about sex and penetration. I'm talking about penetrating beyond the veil of the flesh."

15) "What we do here and now. The books we read, the homework we do, will affect us for the rest of our lives. You gotta believe me. This is important. This, is who we are."

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Saturday, March 08, 2008

No Country for Bad Analysis

There's been a lot of hub-bub about the ending to No Country for Old Men (NCFOM). Some people love it. Some people hate it. Very few come out with a deep sense of meh. Me? I think it's an excellently crafted movie that pushes only a few of my buttons. What intrigues me is the river of misdirected anger over the ending (Yes, there are spoilers ahead).

To say NCFOM is great movie with a bad ending is a misstatement. For if it has a bad end, it also has a bad beginning, and probably a questionable middle. The movie begins with Ed (Tommy Lee Jones). The Coens, if nothing else, are scientists with typewriters*. They have an intimate understanding of storytelling as evidenced by their volume of excellent work. They don't leave dangling participles and EVERYTHING they do in a story has a clearly designed function.

If NCFOM begins with Ed, it must end with Ed. From the beginning they define this as Ed's story. Now Llewelyn (Josh Brolin) seems like the main character, but he isn't. He might be a very strong secondary character, but this isn't his story. Now if this particular tale must end with Ed, then, I'm guessing, the only way the people who hate the ending are going to enjoy themselves is if Ed somehow catches or otherwise confronts Anton (Javier Bardem). If that were to happen it would undercut the purpose of the movie, negate the title and would also be patently ridiculous.

I spoke with my friend Ryan after the movie and we came up with a practical and simple logline for NCFOM: An aging lawman retires. In all fairness I'd probably add a little something to it: An aging law man nearly gets involved in a search for a brutal killer before retiring.

Anton whisks through Ed's town and kills a few people on his way to bigger and better things. Ed finds the dead people, and being an aging law man with an eye on his rapidly approaching retirement, steps aside and lets the feds handle the case. His interest is in Llewelyn and his wife. He's concerned about Llewelyn, and he actually goes and tries to find him, but he's too late and finds the Llewelyn dead and well out of his jurisdiction.

Ed goes home, he retires, and I'm guessing the federal agents (never seen) handle the rest. Now, we are interested in Llewelyn and his story. But his story only exists as an accent or juxtaposition on Ed's existence, and a reminder that life, in all of its drama, goes on whether you are retiring or vacationing or cleaning the house.

So I maintain that if you despise the end, then you really despise the movie itself, even though you found the dialogue to be crisp and Llewelyn's story to be compelling. The Coens set up and executed a story and they followed the rules they set up for themselves to a T. People were upset with Llewelyn's death happening off-screen. To me it made sense. On a structural level, it reminds us that this is not Llewelyn's story.

A story about Llewelyn is not called No Country for Old Men, and it does not have Ed in it, except maybe as some sort of cameo. It's probably called No Rest for Young Men Who Find Two Million Dollars in Drug Money.

Or something snappy like that.

*Yeah, next to no one uses those things, but you know what I mean.

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