Upcoming Readings (if the world doesn’t end)

So, all of these awesome things are happening and just my luck, the world’s going to end. Damn those Mayans. But if for some reason the world doesn’t end I hope to see you at one of my upcoming events. First off, Rough Men Stand Ready has been doing amazing. We have put every dime that we’ve made from selling them back into an account to fund the next run. We have funded two runs and we’re halfway into funding the third. I will be reading from my story The Broken Man at four readings around Portland next month.

The Broken Man is a story I wrote after my deployment to Haiti back in 1995. I went over there as a teenager and quickly realized that life wasn’t valued the same by everyone. I also felt the toll soldiering has on a person. The story is about how a young soldier deals with the violence, death, and the surreal. Here’s an excerpt:

“The Captain and Sergeant Primeaux went off to talk to the villagers. The rest of the squad surrounded the medic and beaten Haitian still screaming in pain, but as the minutes ticked by his screams died to grunts. Sheehan couldn’t help but look at him wailing there in his own piss and blood. He wondered if the man knew where he was, if the man on the ground knew he was going to die soon. The medic still had more bandages, more gauze, more tourniquets, and probably morphine, but he didn’t use any of them.

Sheehan tried to ignore the grunts and gasps the medic called agonal breathing, the body’s final attempt at getting enough air. The young private decided to focus his attention anywhere but at that man. The villagers had gone back to their shacks except some of the kids stayed outside to see the soldiers so he waved at one.

“Gimme dolla, gimme chocolate.”

Sheehan said he was sorry, but he couldn’t give them anything. The kids were curious and made hand motions for Sheehan to take off his helmet. He could tell by their actions they had never seen white people hair before. They smiled and joked, children no older than ten laughing and playing, less than 5 meter from a man that lay dying, a man they helped kill. The beaten man gasped raspy from the back of his throat and every few minutes he regained enough consciousness to cry low.” 

Come out and hear me read with Mike Francis of the Oregonian, Miah Washburn and Tommy Houston of A Rock or Something, and other veterans at these dates and venues:

January 17th @ Rogue Hall on PSU 7p-9p
January 18th @ Berbatis downtown 7p-9p
January 19th @ Big Dog Coffee in Oregon City time TBA
January 26th @ Bar alla Bomba on E Burnside and 11th 7p-9p with a special bourbon tasting from 4 Spirits Desitillery from Corvallis Oregon.
Another amazing thing happened- my good friend Archie Washington received a grant from the Regional Arts & Culture Council to help produce one-act plays written, produced, directed and acted in by veterans this summer. The one-act plays will run from July to September and A Rock or Something will be helping out. I’ll definitely write at least one of these plays and may direct, produce and even act in some others.

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First Day Rush and Rushes

This is fun. To see the words I put on paper come to life is amazing. This really is the best short we’ve done so far. I’ll post the link to the first days rushes. I don’t want to give it all away before you see the finished product but I think it’s important to show people the process. We shot the beginning scene repeatedly until we got what works.

The story is about two guys that hang out at the American Legion. Barry is a 20 year war vet, but every time he tells a story his time in the military seems to grow. Gil is a Z list actor who plays the parts no one else will play. These facts don’t keep them from reminiscing about the times where they used to be someone. The fact that they never were anything doesn’t stop them. Their younger selves chased windmills their memories create, believing themselves the heroes.

Well here are the rushes for the first scene, first shoot. We have an early morning with a rushed day of shooting tomorrow so I’ll post more then. The first five minutes or so are Gil’s close ups, the last half is Barry’s close ups and I have to say that I did learn a lot by watching Barry. He is a veteran actor that we’re lucky to have on this shoot. His facial expressions really tell the story, sometimes better than the dialogue.

The Quixote Club: First Day Shooting

It was cold.

Ramon, Archie and I showed up first and hung out on the corner freezing in the winter sun. Ramon bought coffee and a dozen donuts from across the street. After a couple minutes Archie went, then I did. Finally I found which door to knock on to remind Papa Ferruzza to unlock the restaurant. We found the room we were to shoot in was set up for a holiday party, Christmas tree and all.

We hurriedly moved tables and chairs. Sometime in there Ben showed up with lights and cameras. Soon we were turning the pizza place into a Legion Hall. I had to make a run for thumbtacks, duct tape, and a staple gun. At one point we realized we were missing one doctors coat. Brown and Kristina showed up. We ran through my close ups, while we waited for poor Barry who was just hassled at his storage rental place for forgetting a number on the combination while trying to get the rest of his wardrobe. After doing all the close ups Archie realized I wasn’t wearing the mirrored aviators, so we wasted more time.

Oh, but finally we got on track somewhere around noon.

Tomorrow’s the first day of shooting

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It really surprises me how little time I really have. For instance, I have been trying to post this blog and send an email out to the crew of The Quixote Club since 4pm. I volunteered at the Friendly House today in NW Portland. It was a holiday party for bi/gay/lesbian/transgendered senior citizens. That was very fun and awkward for me since I didn’t have time to change from work and had to go completely overdressed in a suit. Then I was able to hit the gym before coming home to dealing with teenage drama and watching baby Jackie. Somewhere in there I’m trying to produce this shoot.

I don’t think I thanked Papa Ferruzza enough. I’m going to put a picture of him in here.He’s been so kind to us and he’s not charging us to shoot at his place. He’s a great guy also, not to mention the food is amazing. If you haven’t tried it you should. In fact, come down while we’re shooting tomorrow from noon to two or three, when the place is open.

We’ll tomorrow morning I’m going to stop by work and then take the rest of the day off to finally shoot The Quixote Club. It’s a funny little story. I’ll put up some pictures of the shoot and write about how it went. I already have a few ideas about the next short film, but I’ll wait on that.

I have a baby sitter for tomorrow and all the props, cast and equipment is ready to go.