Chihuahuas in the Igloo

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(It’s Thursday already, and I’m just now posting this blog from the weekend. I tell you, this job I have at the moment sure is sucking time away from my frivolous pursuits.)

I continue to find myself in that vague world of “the check it in the mail.” The absurdity of it all is that this should be coming from some financially irresponsible deadbeat such as myself. Funny, but it’s coming from other people. Checks promised to me.

Such as just last Saturday when I was hired to video the Family Day at the Blue Star Arts Complex. Well, I can’t grouse too much. They quickly paid most of the artists and presenters on the spot. And I do believe I was a last minute after-thought. So, I guess I can wait a few days.

The best thing was the convenience of it all. I packed my equipment into my trusty thrift store laptop shoulder bag and walked two blocks to the San Antonio River, hopped across the cement blocks of the low water crossing, climbed up the levy of the right bank, and there I was. One o’clock until four. I got a bit of a sunburn. I don’t know how many people they were expecting, but it seemed a great success. At the most crowded, I would guess there were about three hundred people.

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There were booths scattered across the parking-lot with various activities. Silk-screening with the Stone Metal Press. There was a woman letting kids make “fossils” out of shells and starfish and et cetera pressed into sand and then covered in plaster. Beaded jewelry. Clay sculpture. Papel picado. An environmental booth where, among other diversions, you could put on a pair of rubber gloves and dig in a fish tank of mud for a worm and some other critter, and then place it under a microscope.

One of the guys at this booth was walking around with a mug of mate. I only knew what it was because of the iconic metal straw. I’ve been curious about this drink for awhile, but I have never gotten around to tracking it down. When I asked him about it, he explained that the dried mate could be found fairly easily in San Antonio. He said that his mother in Paraguay sent him the stainless steel straw (they have a bulbous sieve at the far end to filter the mate, which is coarsely cut like tea). He offered me a taste. Very refreshing in a minty and grassy sort of way.

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Over by the river, Deborah was setting up chalk and colored sand for kids to make a mandala on a circular part of the bike trail that passes through Blue Star.

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Saturday night I headed over to Russ’ place. He was firing up the barbecue. Pete and Lisa were there. He’d tried unsuccessfully to track down Andy and Dar (but I’m thinking they might have made a get-away to the coast). It was the perfect night to sit in the backyard eating too much food. If only those hyperactive chihuahuas next door had been locked up in a soundproof box (now that I think about it, that Igloo cooler that Cooper was sitting on would have been just the right size).

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Sunday I decided to put in an appearance at the Overtime Theater. SALSA (San Antonio Lonely Screenwriters’ Association) were gathering for their monthly public reading. First Sunday. For some reason, they were also slated to screen Operation Hitman, the film I did for IFMASA. Mary Harder had been given the script for IFMASA to use, and she initially wanted to direct it herself, but for some reason she offered it to me. The writer is the talented Richard Dane Scott. Who, no surprise, is a SALSA member. So I had a chance to talk a bit with Richard. I hadn’t seen him since the 2007 Austin Film Festival. Also, Gabi Walker and her mom Alicia were there. Gabi was the costar of Hitman. I told her I’m trying my best to write a script for her before she becomes too famous for me to afford. Here we have a photo op moment with Alicia and Gabi.

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And here we have a poor photo of the reading. I believe that’s the back of Nikki Young’s head, producer of Operation Hitman.

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Gabi had to leave before the film screened (it being a school night). It was for the best, actually, because technical problems popped up, and the DVD refused to play.

No great loss for me. I’ve already seen it. But because of the vagaries of this dreadful technological blunder called the DVD (especially the hardware and software used to create homemade DVDs), every venue which wants to offer these sorts of screenings need to work out all the tech bugs in their system and, please, do at least a preview dry run of all material to be screened (not all DVDs and DVD players are created the same).

I can’t slight the Overtime. They are not a film venue. The reading went off very smoothly. It was a feature script titled The Devil’s Right Hand, by Terri Spaugh. A western. The actors did a superb job. They’d familiarized themselves with the roles well enough, so it was more of a performance than a simple table read. There were about a dozen actors on stage, most who I’d never seen before. All very talented. John Poole, who runs the Overtime, acted as the narrator. This meant he read the action lines. And I have to say, the level of writing was very impressive. Damn good action lines (and I’m not being facetious — this is really where you hold the reader’s attention, and if you’ve written a spec script you had better hold the reader’s attention). But the dialogue was another story. Many of us have this problem with dialogue in screenplays. Too damn chatty. Films work much better with information conveyed by actors expressions and various visual cues (unless you’re Whit Stillman or Wes Anderson). This stuff isn’t for the stage. Ultimately it’s not a huge problem, really, as a canny director will strip out about 50 percent of the dialogue and make the piece stronger (unless this particular director wrote the script, and thus has no objectivity).

I hope these SALSA readings continue. It’s a one-stop shopping opportunity to sample local playwright / screenwriters as well as actors.

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