That Fucking Tax Fellow Be After My Cash

My future financial health’s not looking too good. Uncle Sam wants chingos of dosh–I’m thinking extension, ’cause I’m having a chore just keeping myself in cheap tacos and digital video tape. I guess what I really need is a job. But there are so few things I’m qualified to do.

I’ve been digging through stuff that I might be able to sell. I’m thinking of sending some books off to the auction house that occasionally employs me. There is one homely looking book I’ve never bothered to research. It’s an ex-library book with a rubber stamp on both front and rear pastedowns. True, the university library of the stamps no longer exists, but I have such an aversion to selling ex-library books that I just kept putting it aside. So, today, for some reason, I decided to do a bit of research. I don’t have much in the way of bibliographies and general reference books anymore, so I was mainly looking at a few online sites. I could only see mention of on-demand reprint copies. Recalling that I still had my password to Americana Exchange, I looked through their database. I could see no auction records. Just a listing from three rare book dealers’ catalogues: 1938, 1959, and 1963. No auction records at all. There’s another auction database I should check. But it could well be that no copy of this first edition has come up for sale in decades. Given the fact that it’s a Texas Ranger item, it should get a fair amount of auction action.

The book is Mustang Gray; a Romance, by Jeremiah Clemens, Philadelphia, 1858. This appears to be the first and only edition. From Wright: “A fictionalized account of the exploits of the famed Mabry Gray, who served in the Texas Army, fought at San Jacinto, raided Mexican ranches with other ‘cowboys,’ and commanded the ‘Mustanger’ company in the War with Mexico.”

Check out the Mabry Gray article on the Handbook of Texas Online:

http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/GG/fgr24.html

I’m hoping that Mustang Gray, plus about 4 nineteenth century surgery books, a signed Bill Burroughs, and a leather bound Félicien Rops art book will generate the funds needed to sate the IRS appetite when my extension period abruptly comes to an end, October sometime.

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There’s a feature film script I have had in the works for maybe a year and a half. The working title is “Tunnels Under the Tower.” I must admit that most of my notes are scattered through three or four composition notebooks somewhere in the clutter of my home. I know I was also generating scene information onto 3×5 cards. These cards are what I really want to track down.

The story has been resurfacing in my head lately. A few weeks back I was asked by Nikki Young to give feedback on the kids in her young actors’ class. Two very accomplished girls were doing a scene from “Tunnels Under the Tower,” which I had given to Nikki over a year ago when she asked for any monologues or dialogues I might have for her to offer her students. The scene that the girls read was initially written for a boy and a girl, but it worked well enough regardless of gender.

Today, while biking along the Mission Trail, I took a rest on one of Carlos Cortez’s faux bois benches near Mission Espada. There’s a big pecan tree on a rise of ground about a hundred yards to the west. One of the scenes in the film will take place with the leaves of that tree dipping down and forming a canopy to frame the shot looking across the river as the two young protagonists walk along, speaking those same lines that Nikki’s girls had performed.

“Tunnels Under the Tower” is a film I’ve sketched out pretty tightly in my head. As I was taking a break on that bench this afternoon, I talked my way through all the chief scenes, characters, and character motivations, conflicts, and agendas. I was happy to learn I had retained almost everything. I just need to get back to working on the script.

I initially came up with the most basic kernel of a story. A dying matriarch is trying to get her son to reunite her with her former best friend–a last chance to say goodbye. As I began to flesh things out, I found myself casting most of the roles with some of my favorite local actors (some who know me, a few who don’t)–often going so far as to use their names for the characters (I plan to make changes in a later draft). I also made mental notes of most of the locations–pretty much all downtown, south-side, and west-side. The places where I spend most of my time. I’d always planned to direct and shoot this thing myself. And because I want to create something simple and do-able, my plan is to limit the film to 50 scenes, each averaging a page and a half. This translates into 50 one and a half minute scenes, for a total run-time of 75 minutes, and this is long enough for a feature. Furthermore, none of these scenes will have more than five camera set-ups. And finally, no more than ten locations. The number of characters is something I don’t want to aggressively trim down. I believe there will be 20 speaking characters.

My biggest concern about this, as yet unfinished, script, is that I want to get it into a polished draft, and start shooting before Gaby Walker (one of the most amazing actresses I’ve ever worked with) is too old to be believable as my young co-protagonist. Little Gaby’s growing up so fast.

Currently I’m inclined to shoot the movie in HD on a DSLR camera. I’m intrigued with the thought of using my Lumix GH-1, but if money ever comes my way again, I’m thinking to up-grade to the Canon 7D. Audio acquired separately with a solid state device.

Time to get back to writing.

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