RT @AdMollusc: Got to birthday party for son of @caseykieranmom & @RobyMB, but was disappointed that there weren’t any cockfights.
Happy Birthday to Kieran Scott Brown. You’re only 3 once. Enjoy.
We all know it’s going to be Andy Bernard, right? #theoffice
Whatever the copywriter equivalent of “Hovering Art Directors” is, I’m doing it right now. #collaboratingcopywriters
If poorly crafted, the brochure I’m writing could cripple a city’s entire transportation future. No pressure. #panicwriting #beerme
Doing a mock radio-call in. I’m “Ted from Boston”. #splendedsplinterontheline
Anyone for a meetup at Mos Isley Cantina? I need to make a stop at Toshi Station and pick up some power converters first. #StarWarsDay
Check the accuracy of quotes you use to express your personal thoughts on world events. Misrepresentation is folly. - Abraham Lincoln
Hello. My name is Elder Price. And I’d like to share with you the most amazing book. #southparkdoesbroadway
Little Stacey Park is the Pacific Palisades of Austin playgrounds. Well behaved kids. $300 strollers. We don’t belong here.
Sean Bailey, President of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Development
Barry Josephson, President of Josephson Entertainment
Once Upon a Time…
Yes, it’s cheesy to start with the familiar opening line to countless fairy tales. Yet, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate way to start this note. Fairy tale stories usually begin on the underdog hero or heroine longing for something (love, adventure, rich dwarfs who own a diamond mine) and told through song and dance while accompanied by friendly woodland creatures.
While I lack the pre-requisite rodents and vocal skills, I too long for something. A chance. A chance to tackle one of Hollywood’s plum open writing assignments, Enchanted 2.
The traditional route for a writer to land a gig is to go through their representation. My reps would get me on the list of considered writers and arrange a meeting. In the meeting, I’d explain how I was the writer who could tackle Giselle’s newest adventure and craft the story that the creative team is looking to bring to the screen.
As an unrepresented writer, there’s seemingly not a snowball’s chance in hell of that happening.
E-mails and query letter are yet to get my fresh screenwriting voice into the right hands. That’s fine. It will happen. While the traditional avenues are closed, I wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity to get my name out there for consideration on writing this movie.
I want to be the writer you hire. I have the talent and enthusiasm for this script.
I’m the rare guy who enjoys a well-choreographed dance sequence as much as seeing massive CGI robots destroying large cities. But, as a father to two young boys, I’m finding that family films lean towards the silly and uninspired. I want to change that. Enchanted delivered a well told tale that was smart with heart. It’s the kind of story that I want to watch. It’s what I write. I want to be a screenwriter, but I also want my kids to be inspired by what I write. If we can see great movies together, so much the better. Everyone wants to see great stories. It’s what made us interested in the film business.
No two people get discovered by Hollywood in the exact same way. This is certainly crazy, but I wouldn’t be doing this without complete confidence in my writing. My samples prove it. You’ll see it too.
Let’s chat about Enchanted 2 and see if fairy tales really do come true.
The comparisons start the moment the first baby picture is posted.
“He has your eyes.” “Those are her grandfather’s cheeks.” “Got his old man’s chin.”
I was never concerned with ‘who got what’. It seems silly to brand our children over dimples, eyelids and muscle tones. Our children were soup cans and we’re looking up the ingredients on the label. As far as I knew, we were creating children, not cloning them.
Good looks, charm and a winning smile aren’t the only things we pass on to our kids. I’m learning this the hard way. The very hard way.
My kids are stubborn. They talk back. Refuse to listen. Can’t calm down easily. Want instant gratification.
Like son, like father.
You can guess what happens when stubborn children melt down in front of their stubborn short-tempered father. It’s not pretty.
I consider myself pretty good with words, but I cannot, for the life of me, accurately describe how awful a human being I feel about this. I’m a bad father. An awful father.
You never want to be the pathetic dad who can’t control his kids as they scream at the top of their lungs in Nordstrom. You cringe at the angry “Where do you think this is, Sears?” looks from the employees. Mostly, these tantrums happen at home. When they happen in public, they rarely end well. Last week, I didn’t appreciate Casey calling me “idiot” in a crowded store. That was not a good day. For him or me.
The easiest excuse I have is stress. I’m stressed about everything. Money. Commute. Work. Those are the surface stresses. My macro stress comes from a deep and emotional place. I’m stressed about NOT being there for my family enough, physically, financially and emotionally. Deep down, I know that a million dollar salary and working from home wouldn’t make me a better dad.
So, it comes down to me. I need to shift my attitude. Adjust how I try to deal with them. Calmly react to the times when they fly off the handle. I try being their friend. But, I come off as ‘dad’, with his rules and restrictions. Casey has this way of referring to entities he can’t quite name as “The Man”. I’m sure I’ll be “The Man” during his teenage years. Oh, won’t that be fun?
It’s not as easy as “if they’d just listen”. I’m not exactly Mr. Conformity. We become individuals and express our true selves by throwing caution to the wind. Marching to our own beat. In a way, children are mini-entrepreneurs. By trying to institute rules, am I knocking down their entrepreneur spirit? Will they take the easy route for the material reward rather than struggle to achieve what fulfills them? Does the short-term goal of pleading with them to simply brush their teeth hurt them in the long term?
Children have the best jobs. They spend their days playing pretend. Exploring. Creating. Imagining. Creating works of art that they bring home to share. I work in a “creative” industry. What are my days filled with? Frustration. Indecision. Pressure. I certainly don’t rush home to show my kids the latest print ad I wrote. They derive nothing from it.
I need to shift my attitude. I need to re-think my “role” as a father, and as a person. My kids aren’t obstacles, they’re the answer. I need to be more like THEM.
Learning from my kids is a reoccurring theme in my life. You’d think that I’d learn how to act upon it by now. But in worrying about the gas prices, car repairs and Red Sox, you lose sight of the bigger things in life. You can’t see three or four years down the road, because you can’t think a day ahead. It’s that whole cracks in the dam thing. Right now, I’m plugging holes. I need to build a new dam.
If my kids pick up my bad habits, do they also pick up my positive ones? The signs point to yes. Casey loves drawing and imaginary role-playing. Kieran loves tossing a baseball. They both get sucked into Pixar movies very easily. Their imaginations run wild. These are very good signs.
We’re a mere few days away from a weeklong trip to Walt Disney World. I’m certain that this won’t be a postcard-perfect vacation. A trip to Target can be an overwhelming experience for a toddler, You can imagine what pirates and giant mice will do to a small tot. I’m sure a meltdown or two will occur. But it’s a chance for them to see the world in a completely new way. Maybe it’ll be the kick in the pants I need in order to be the person I was put on this planet to be.
This trip is a chance to hit the “reset” button. A week away from deadlines commutes, late night writing sessions and distracting twitter reading. I’m going to a place love with the people who mean the most to me (yes, the Red Sox are playing in Orlando the first day we arrive). I get to focus on my family and, in some ways, connect with them. They’re growing up with a fascination for Disney, a company that I still derive daily creative inspiration from.
A vacation can’t solve all of my problems. Patience and time will do that. But it’s a trip that will let me focus on becoming a better dad by focusing and embracing the passions that I share with my kids.
Like father, like son.
The early morning journey to day care has become rather treacherous. Over the past few weeks, we’ve encountered not one, but two waterfalls. The double dips lead us into a cavernous flume, where plundering pirates lurk at every cove. We then find ourselves in the middle of a raging battle between a majestic Spanish fort and a ship of pirates. We duck as cannonballs fly over our heads, many splashing into the water mere feet from us. Thus far, we’ve managed to arrive safely every day. Still, I’d rather avoid pirates than safely cruise along with Happiest Cruise That Ever Sailed ‘Round The World.
With our Walt Disney World trip looming, I’ve started feeding the boys a steady diet of music from Disney attractions. They’ve taken an audible tour of the Haunted Mansion and heard the birds sing words and the flowers croon with clips from the Enchanted Tiki Room. I read somewhere that it’s a smart idea to prepare kids for upcoming vacations by talking to them about where they’re going and show them photos or video to give them a better understanding of where they’re going.
My collection of music from Disney attractions and shows is excessive. This isn’t just “Grim Grinning Ghosts”. Want to hear the entire show of the old Journey Into Imagination? Got it. Never saw the Porto Paradiso Water Carnival at Tokyo Disney Sea? Borrow my Music of the Parks CD and hear what it sounded like. From Orlando to California, Tokyo and Paris, you’ll find music from attractions classic and closed. Some people like to visit Adventureland, I want the background music loop too.
I’ve been a freaky Disney audiophile as long as I can remember. I’m pretty sure I drove my parents nuts by blasting my Official Album of Disneyland and Walt Disney World album thought the house. They probably grew immune to “Baroque Hoedown”. That’s fine. It was my way of punishing them for my cruel and prolonged exposure to Chuck Mangione’s “Feels So Good”.
Music plays such a huge part in the Disney theme park experience. Think back to how the 1939 theme of The Tower Of Terror is emphasized by the ragtime jazz music piped into the hotel’s lobby. The same effect happens in the Jungle Cruise queue, as well as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. It can instantly transport you to a certain place or a certain moment. Much like that song that’s forever connected to the memory of a girl or guy, the sounds of Disney parks instantly take you there.
It’s my hope that by playing Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, and other them park music, that the boys won’t be completely freaked out by the experience. It won’t be too scary if they’ve heard it all before. I’m aware that I may be removing some of the “magic” by doing this. At the same time, playing the queue music for Big Thunder Mountain won’t make the coaster any less scary to a four-year old.
Maybe it’s not so much a child preparation technique, as it is a way of getting myself excited for our trip. It’s Sara’s first time to the “Florida Property”, and it’ll be Kieran’s first Disney park. And it’s never too early to build up an immunity to “It’s A Small World”.
Learning that your spouse’s job may be on the chopping block doesn’t liven up one’s morning commute.
One day after re-entering office, Rick Perry’s solution to balancing the Texas debt was not by raising taxes or dipping into the Rainy Day fund, but by laying down proposed budget cuts. One of the first industries to receive a hand-slapping was public education. Specifically, pre-kindergarten programs, teacher incentives, classroom technology and arts education teachers were targeted to be trimmed from the 2012-2013 budget.
The possibility of chopping arts education comes in on the same day the University of Texas Longhorns sign a deal with ESPN to create their own network, netting them $300M in cash. While there’s a big difference between a high school JV team and the beloved UT Longhorns, I can’t help but think that this state would rather lay off hundreds of arts and technology teachers than cut one football from the athletic department’s budget. I’m really torn with giving Texas my tax dollars sometimes.
These cuts are yet to be debated and discussed. All or none of these cuts could come down. But, if you’re an arts teacher, like my wife, how do you handle this news? Do you buckle down, work harder, stay later and make yourself an invaluable part of the system so that they CAN’T let you go? Or do you bury your head in the sand and merely hope it doesn’t happen to you?
Either way, your fate isn’t up to you. You’re just a line item in a legislative document. Mortgages and day-care bills aren’t factored in.
My wife busts her ass. Busts. Her. Ass. There are late nights of entering grades, lesson plans, selecting music and cutting/gluing/pasting paper to popsicle sticks. There’s no overtime pay. No performance bonus. You get the summer off, but smart teachers are always thinking of next year’s lessons. The job never stops. Yet, for some, it could.
What are her options if she’s let go? Apply for the scant few positions left in the Austin area? Substitute teach? Day care teacher? Part-time job at The Landing Strip (damn straight I can strut my stuff on stage for some dollar bills. But, I digress).
If every teaching position across the country was wiped off, what do our teachers turn to?
What’s their Plan B?
My solution? Reinvention.
I’ve stopped thinking about myself as a “copywriter”. It’s just a title. It doesn’t define who I am. Everyday, I’m using my abilities and passions to tell stories. There are hundreds of “jobs” that could use someone like me. I’m finally at a place in life where, despite the doubts, missteps and other bumps along the road, I’m creating a life built around my skills. Instead of trying to wedge myself into an industry or profession, I’m trying to live my most authentic life and be a storyteller.
Maybe it’s time BOTH of us think like that. Sara’s never really discussed anything other than teaching. There never really WAS a reason to think otherwise. The world will always need teachers. But, with the possibility of her job being eliminated, is it time for her to look at what industries or other professions she can use her passions and skills in? We all know people who change professions and become a teacher. I don’t know of anyone who got out of teaching to do something else?
It’s not for me to say. Sara’s a strong willed person, and the rock of our family. When DirecTV pisses her off, she bites back. Hard. She’ll make up her own mind about how to deal with this possibly looming event. It’s better to think about it now than to not have something in the works.
Layoffs usually aren’t related to poor performance. It’s what we do after the axe comes down that shows us what we’re really about. Is it the permission slip we’re looking for?
I’m not sure what her Plan B is. But I know that, whatever happens, she’ll make it work. She doesn’t let anyone tell her what she can or cannot do.