Wednesday, October 22, 2008

On Muzak, Squirrels, and Mega-Mouths

Ernest Hemingway wrote an immortal ode to "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place." One would think that clean and well-lit is all one should require for getting decent work done.

One would be wrong.

Every day I take my little girl to kindergarden and sit in a nearby cafe that, blessedly, has wireless internet access, where I work for the few hours she's in school.

On the surface, this is a great plan. I get three hours of billable work, uninterrupted by the distractions of home, dog, laundry, well-meaning friends, and political telemarketers. In reality, however, it has some very real snags that I had failed to take into consideration beforehand.

For one thing, the configuration of the server / internet access allows me to receive e-mail and get online to do research, but it prevents me from sending anything. If I know that my work will require on-the-spot messages, I have to plan ahead and drive 10 miles down the road to Panera's. Inconvenient, but not insurmountable.

Another thing involves the twin evils of fluorescent lighting and it's bigger, more annoying brother Muzak. Oh. My. Everloving. Head! Some days I just HAVE to leave. I have no idea how the poor saps who work here can stand it. It's insidious. It's persistent. It gets into your head, into your subconsciousness, and sucks your soul dry. The cafe here at Apple Valley plays the same CD over and over and over and over. Until you know that "Lara's Theme" is followed by "Memories." And driving off a cliff suddenly seems like a warm and fuzzy alternative way to spend an afternoon.

These glitches are nothing, however, compared to The Mouth. I don't know his name, and I don't want to. But he works here, and EVERYTHING that goes on in his head comes out of his mouth for others to share and enjoy. Unlike most sound projecting equipment, he does not come equipped with a volume control. And he is incapable of speaking a sentence -- any sentence -- without using the word "like" more than twice.

Today was no exception.

I, and every other person in the cafe / store within a 100 foot radius, was treated to a lengthy story about a friend of his who, like, stayed at this friend's house and, like, went to eat, like, breakfast, but, like, the milk was kind of lumpy. And he thought, like, "Well, maybe this is buttermilk, and they, like, like it that way." So he, like, poured it on his cereal and was, like, eating breakfast when his friend came down and was like, "Dude, that's disgusting..."

This narrative gem was immediately followed by, like, a story about this flying squirrel that was, like, trapped in a garage and these two friends were, like, trying to get it out. And they, like, moved into one corner -- but the squirrel, like, moved past them into the other corner.

I tried headphones and iTunes and favorite songs. But even Bon Jovi's version of "Hallelujah" couldn't win over Muzak and, like, squirrels.

Clearly, I need to find another place to work. Which sucks. But I guess it's better than, like, eating breakfast with spoiled milk.

Project Updates

The Major Project for the V.I.P. client continues and appears to be on track. A major segment of it should be out of my hands by Friday, which leaves only two other major components to be completed.

Earlier this week, I did a "help me in a hurry" infomercial script for a client who throws small jobs my way from time to time. I've written several of them for the client over the years and, must confess, I've never seen the final product. It'd be kind of interesting sometime to see how they turn out. Maybe I'll ask for the YouTube version -- just for grins and giggles...

Also earlier this week, I had a producer ask to see one of my screenplays. Which is exciting, but I'm holding off on the yee-ha'ing until an honest-to-God option comes along. Crossing my fingers and holding my breath, but refusing to turn blue.

I also did a little work for a director / independent producer friend of mine. We're trying to come up with the best way to sequence his current project. I had some ideas and sent them his way. I plan to talk with him tonight, to see what paths he wants me to pursue.

Finally, my friend, who I've been mentoring as she puts together a proposal for a riveting memoir, has finished the proposal and is awaiting my edit / commentary / polish on the project. I'm very excited about the possibilities for her book, and am honored to be involved in the creation of it. I'm also terribly impressed with her work ethic and her stick-to-it-iveness as she learned everything she could about putting a proposal together. She followed my instructions (imagine!) and has created a very professional looking package. Further bulletins as events warrant on that front.

That about covers the writing end of things here. The eternally growing "Sera Bear" got spayed and microchipped this week, so she's laying about the house recuperating. And Robert has been working on developing several websites for various clients, so there is no shortage of things to do in a day.

Thank God I don't have to, like, capture a squirrel. I wouldn't, like, have the time.