Scorched Earth from Poteet to Bastrop

Every few months my landlady sends her handyman over to my place to attack the grounds with a lawn mower, weed whacker, and leaf blower (the second most useless contraption ever invented). I easily become accustomed to the dandelions nosing up to peek at me through my kitchen window and the chiggers growing fat from the blood of those squirrels foolish enough to come down from the trees. And just as this domestic jungle has become another backdrop to my daily grind, I’ll wake up at the ungodly hour of eleven to the sound of a gas powered lawn mower. Two hours later, this frantic assault will have ended. As the dust settles, I will inevitably look out on one of the worst jobs of lawn mowing I have ever seen. It resembles my head, when I cut my own hair — just on a larger scale.

I do my best to avoid the handyman, but this time around, he knocked at my door. He had finished mowing, whacking, and blowing. And, yes, as I opened the door, it looked like a battlefield out there. “Bosse,” he said, in his irritating deferential manner, as if he were shortening the proper form of address, you know, Lord Bosse, the stern but fair master up at the manor house. “Yeah, what’s up?” “Landlady said that Debbie in the other apartment thinks something died up in the attic. What do you think? Says she smells it.” I told him I wasn’t smelling anything rotting. He nodded and then said he’d go up into the attic through the hatchway on the back porch and plug up any animal holes he saw. I wished him the best of luck. I would have gone back to bed, but, hell I was already up. I went into the kitchen to make some coffee.

About 15 minutes later, as I was pouring out my first coffee of the morning, I heard the guy stomping around up there. And then I heard a series of strange sounds. It was as if he was tossing a metal chain, and letting it fall to the attic floor. This happened several times, and then it stopped. I supposed the guy was just dicking around, and I thought no more about it.

That is until I came home later that afternoon. The whole place reeked of moth balls. I finally realized what had happened. The handyman was up there earlier flinging mothballs all over the attic. This is supposed to keep animals away. Hell, it’d keep me away. I hate the smell of minty camphor. And after several days, the smell hasn’t begun to diminish.

I’m tempted to call up my landlady. “Oh, hello Trudy. I didn’t think I’d get your answering machine. Well, I hope you’re doing well. I’m just calling to let you know that because your handyman has seeded the attic with some horrible-smelling toxic substance — I’m thinking mothballs — I’ve tossed a dead possum up there (don’t worry, I found the poor beast flattened at the intersection of S. Alamo and Probandt). The carrion has finally become ripe enough that now I can barely smell the mothballs. So, don’t fret. All’s well. Cheers!”

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I was over at C4 late this afternoon putting in a couple of hours working on a video editing job which has become more involved than it should. Around seven I decided to take a break. I set the alarm, locked the door, and walked down to Tito’s for a leisurely dinner. When I got back to the space, I made sure to pull out my little slip of paper on which I had written the security code. It’s just several numbers, but me and numbers just don’t get along. Hell, I’m not sure if my zip code is 78210 or 78201. And even though I’ve had this same cell phone number for over five years, I have to fish out a business card when someone asks. That, or cruise over to my website. I unlocked the door, stepped inside, and faced the security panel. I held up my note and keyed in the numbers. Good. And I was just about to turn away when the alarm went off. Frantically I keyed in the numbers again and again and again. I took a deep breath. Looked at the note as calmly as possible. Then I realized I had been transposing the two final digits over and over and over. I did it right this time. Sweet silence fell down. Damn, that alarm was loud.

I decided I was done for the night. If the cops were to come storming in, I’d rather be long gone. Too many news stories out there with taser-happy cops with frisky trigger fingers.

I think I’ll keep my JVC video monitor at C4. And I need a USB hub. A second pair of cupped headphones. And I really need to buy either an Apple keyboard, or one of those FCP keyboards. Some of the important Final Cut Pro short cuts don’t work on this tiny laptop keyboard. Oh, and a nice goose-neck desk lamp.

Also, I need to make friends with the alarm system. If only security codes could be a series of words. Spumoni – migraine – tungsten – fungible – cuticle? Yeah, I’ll remember that. You can keep your 9 – 7 – 2 – 8 – 3. Numbers? They’ll be the death of me.

“Erik?” asks the voice in my cell phone “Yeah, who’s this?” “Look, dammit, we don’t have the time for introductions, and you don’t have the security clearance to know my name!” “Hello? What?” “Okay, Erik, there should be a timer sitting on top of the bomb.” “It’s counting down, man. It’s at 57 seconds!” “It’s simple. Take a deep breath. You see that numeric keyboard beside the timer?” “I do.” “Great! All you need to do is punch in five numbers, in proper sequence. We have the code, so it’s going to be smooth as spreading peanut butter in July. Just type in 9 – 6 – 3 – 1 – 2. That’s it. Got it?” “Yes. Here we go: 9 – 6 – 3 – 2 – 1–” “NO! Asshole! 1 – 2! 1 – 2!” But it is, of course, too late. Scorched earth from Poteet to Bastrop.

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Speaking of my estranged relations with numbers, I finally processed all the incoming DVD submissions for Josiah today. We don’t have 88 submissions, as I’d claimed (allowing for a press release bragging “almost 90 submissions”). We actually have 92 submissions (allowing for a new press release bragging “over 90 submissions!”).

This will be a year of three nights of some very strong, polished, and groovy and funky short films.

Please mark your calendars. July 9, 10, 11. Each night we’ll have different films. Come one night, two, or three. Come join us for two reasons. Let the young local filmmakers know you support them — there will be dozens in attendance each night. Also, there is some top-notch work that will entertain and inspire you. I’ve only seen a smattering of the submissions (I’ll view them all over the next few days), but I can already tell that this will be out best year yet. That’s saying a lot. Our first and second years had some fine work. We also have so much animation this year. Come and be amazed.

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Tuesday night was the inaugural mixer for the 2009 San Antonio 48 Hour Film Project. This is it’s third year in San Antonio. And this is the first year that Michael Druck is running the local component of this incredible international event. I was thrilled to learn that Druck was taking over the reins. He knows everyone in town. And, better yet, he’s loved by all of us. He’s a master of promotion and bringing people together. So, I was not surprised to see the huge crowd of local filmmakers, actors, and curious wannabes converging on the Olmos Perk coffee shop last night.

I’d love to run a team of my own, but I believe I’ll be out of town on the weekend in question. But I’m giving it some thought. Hell, I might even drive in from an out of town gig to throw myself into a frantic weekend. Now that I’m writing this, it doesn’t seem so impossible. So, Druck, don’t write me off the possible list yet!

I’m anticipating the best year yet for the San Antonio 48 Hour Film Project. Druck will get people in a froth. So, and I’ve a bit of experience in this line of work, you might want to head over to the website and sign up your team ASAP.

http://www.48hourfilm.com/sanantonio/

Maybe I’ll just sign up and then figure out how to finesse my August schedule. Because, you know, I don’t want to wait a few weeks and then find that it’s all booked up.

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