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This is going to seem like a stupid question, but can you get Fritos just anywhere? It's not just a Texas thing, right? I can go into a store in Phoenix or LA or Berkeley and get Fritos? (well, okay, not Berkeley, because I'm sure the Frito is an oppressed species or made of GMO corn harvested without a reparations ceremony presided over by a Jainist or is shaped like a labia and therefore misogynist or something. But maybe Oakland.) Damn, I love Fritos.

Also, Fritos are like the grossest thing ever. Please pass the Fritos. Pop me open a Lone Star while you're at it. I need something to wash down these Fritos. I don't know what you send in to get the taste of Lone Star out of your mouth. I'm sure you good people will have some suggestions.

And yes, I remember the Frito Bandito. And Casa De Fritos at Disneyland. I know people know what Fritos are, but I can't remember the last time I was in a store on the west coast and there were Fritos. Tostitos, sure. Every kind of lame-ass potato chip imaginable, yes. But Fritos? Well, we shall see. If I make Fritos the Official Corn Chip of [ profile] mcbrennan will they send me a case of 'em or will they sue for defamation? Tough call.

All I have had for food today are two slices of cake and 13 Fritos, so I may be a bit buggy. Also all the good music is on the other computer. I forgot my iPod when I left Berkeley. This is the pre-divorce laptop and it has only pre-divorce music, all of which I hate. All 65 gigabytes of it. Fuck you, 13,991 pre-divorce songs. Your naïve doe-eyed reality is as dead as grunge, Phil Rizzuto and representative democracy.

I had no breakfast, lunch or dinner, but I did have a good meetup with my wayward lunch date, who it's safe to say has some potential future involvement with my movie, and so we had a good chat about movie-related matters. I also got to spend some nice time this evening with my generous host, who I will miss as I head off to Phoenix, that land of peril and promise but mostly peril.

Plane's in the air at 3:15 central, lands at 3:15 pacific. Two hours of my life will disappear without a trace, except for vague memories of being groped against my will by horrible creeps. It's Daddy Day Camp all over again.
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Monday. 12:30pm. Blogging from bed. Eating a package of frosted mini-donuts. Listening to Astral Weeks. Order has been restored to the universe. Though I just passed a mirror and I thought--gee, Daryl Hall has really let himself go. Might be time for a beauty treatment, is what.

No real plans for the next couple of days, except hopefully a meetup with a good friend of [ profile] explosivo. I may go exploring in a bit, get some Tex-Mex, check out the local Goodwill (literally and figuratively). I'll probably stagger into a screening or two. But mostly I am very tired, and in the name of both physical and psychological health, pushing myself too hard is off the agenda for the duration. Hopefully I'll just go have fun, relax, enjoy Austin, which is a city more or less built for enjoyment. I mean, only if you like film, food, music, weirdness, and Fritos. Lots and lots of Fritos.

Memo to [ profile] shoombala: "thank you" seems insufficient, but thank you. :)
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I'm....gads, where am I, actually? "The Hideout". Fitting. I am in "The Hideout" on Congress and seven-thish. It's a coffeehouse. Of course we all know I don't drink coffee but I'm having a strawberry banana freezy-smoothie thing. That song that's been stuck in my head since last Wednesday, Lucinda Williams' "Lonely Girls", started playing over the PA the instant my ass hit the chair. My compliments to the music supervisor.

The screenwriting-conference portion of the festival is over. Most everybody's left town. Yesterday the Driskill Hotel was the epicenter of the nouvelle vague of contemporary screenwriting. Today it is a meeting place for what appear to be drunken government expense-account conventioneers from the National Park Service. The good news is my chances of getting laid just quadrupled. The bad news, fuck off, make your own wood/timber/splinters joke. "That's not tree sap," etc.

Every year on Sunday morning AFF has a "Hair Of The Dog" brunch, which, on the off chance you've sobered up overnight, you can launch a guerilla counterattack on your liver. I didn't go. I had a real breakfast with real food and then went to two entirely unglamourous but hugely informative meetings about financing and budgeting. I passed up not one but two sessions on craft--and god knows I needed 'em--but what can I say, there is something sexy about the phrase "hot costs". It's not just an informational daily accounting sheet, it's a handy truism.

Oh. I was one of many people in this development session with a few bigtime studio development execs, and the execs were defending why they avoid new talent like the plague (liability issues) but they value festivals like this because sometimes they find "breathtakingly original new voices", and Mary P. Hansell, the screenwriting competition director said--I swear to god--she said "like Cait--there, in the back, Cait's been a finalist or semifinalist here twice and our judges think she's one of the best and most original new writers they've ever read." What can you say to that? Thank you, I guess, which I did.

The development execs smiled and nodded, and took off early.

So I went to see a movie tonight--Juno, at the Paramount. Diablo Cody wrote it, Jason Reitman directed it, Ellen Page and Michael Cera are in it. It was very funny, very touching, sharp, witty, stylish.

It was almost exactly the same movie as Dramatis Personae.

Okay, no. There's no transgender or queer content, and it's not set in the 80s--but like Rushmore, Napoleon Dynamite, Superbad, it had a retro 80s feel, right down to the plastic novelty telephones and vintage 80s toys, cars, clothes and language scattered throughout. I swear to god I sat though a meeting not eight weeks ago where a guy told me a movie like the one I was pitching could never get made, yet here I am staring at it. The lead character is a whip-smart teenager in big trouble (the marketing materials use that exact phrase!)...rapid-fire pop-culture dialogue...christ, the kid even orders a scotch from an adult before the second act. It's like the big-budget commercial heterosexual version of my movie. I am so fucked.

What should I do, you think? Heighten my language and characterizations even more? Go to great pains to drive hard away from the similarities? Leave it as is, hope Juno is a big hit and mine gets picked up as a movie "like that big hit movie Juno?" Do nothing and not worry about it? Go write something else? Is this just a giant opportunity that my massive ego is preventing me from seeing? I think maybe.

Mine is better, you understand. Sharper, dirtier, funnier, more stylistically and thematically original. I'm still confident in the material. But I don't know if that stuff matters.

Anyway. So I'm a bit discouraged tonight. I probably succeeded in doing what I came here for--make this contact or that contact, build my relationship with the AFF people, etc--but it feels like I'm perpetually (and unsuccessfully) playing catch-up. I suppose I should just do what I do, write my own stories and let the chips fall, etc, etc. But dammit, I cannot continue to live like this, this fucking hobo existence. I would very much like to go home, instead of to this city and that city and this guest room and that guest room. And I am not getting it done.

I did come up with about 10 new screenplay ideas while I've been here. When I get home I'll take a few weeks and write the best one. And who knows. Maybe something good will happen.

I'm in Austin until Wednesday afternoon, then it's off to Phoenix for a week or two. Then back to Berkeley. Then? God knows.
badatapologies: (caitie austin 2006)
I am back at my new friend and generous host Nell's house. Thanks to hard lessons learned last night, tonight's drunk-wagon bus ride was not a life-threatening debacle but merely a gigantic pain in the ass. Okay, it wasn't even that, but it did involve what the Texas department of weights and measures has officially certified as a fuckload of walking. With a 30-pound backpack. After ingesting a big-girl portion of organic vodka. I'm dumb as a post, and I'm frequently pretty feeble, but say what you will about me, I am not made of quit. Cheese, maybe.

The conference wrap party was a madhouse, at McCormick and Schmick's. I got lost on the way so I used 1-800-GOOG-411, Google's new free information line. I am not being compensated for this endorsement, but I do highly recommend it--it's better and more reliable than the various other 411s and it costs nothing. Please make a note of it.

Meanwhile. The party, yeah. I latched on to various people I'd already met, as I am wont to do, so Herschel Weingrod and Scott Alexander got the special bonus round of [ profile] mcbrennan whether they liked it or not. See how much you have in common with famous screenwriters, dear reader? And I met some new people, hung out with Dawn (former AFF screenwriting czarina, now in LA) and my friend Richard from Outfest. I was, in a word, social. I made an effort. Said a brief hello to the very funny Larry Wilmore from "The Office" and "The Daily Show" who I kinda-sorta met last year. It was getting late so I ran for the bus with only minutes to spare...and then realized I'd just run three blocks in the wrong direction. That's Vodka 360, the organic vodka. Please make a note of it.

I had but one glass, by the way. I tried to be good. But they were pouring film-industry portions. I'd regained my childhood midwest-southern accent by the time I left the place.

Took the bus to 45th and Lamar, walked to the Walgreens in search of late-nite bananas, found only fried foods and carrot cake, bought them, slogged them two miles home and dispatched them with extreme prejudice. I'm serious. You would not believe the epithets I mumbled at that carrot cake as I ate it.

There's a "Hair Of The Dog" brunch at 10am, then panels at 11:30. We're pretty much done by 4, then there are screenings I'm really looking forward to, especially this and this. If last year was any indication, most of the Hollywood bigwigs will clear out by 2pm and then we serious cinéastes (otherwise known as aspiring but thus far woefully unsuccessful Hollywood bigwigs) can actually relax and enjoy some movies. Which do not begin screening til like 3pm the rest of the week. Ah, Austin Film Festival, how I love you.
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Gone Native... Austin Film Festival, October 20, 2006

I don't have a camera phone--or a friend to take the picture, for that matter--but I pretty much still look like this photo taken at last year's festival. And in fact, I left the hat at home but the creepily perfect, grown-in-a-tank Dos Equis girls gave me an identical one yesterday. I would have photoshopped out any extra age-lines anyway, so just use your imagination. I do have a DV camera with me, and have been making my usual snide remarks to its nonexistent audience, but I don't have any way to get its stills and video into the computer. Count your blessings there.

I'm in the Driskill in a secret hidden location above the bar, listening to the piano man play "Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime." There's something about bars, old bars especially, that are eternal. One imagines this same setlist, these sights, these sounds, those conversations, that fragrance, 20 or 30 or 40 years ago or more. Only the lack of cigarette smoke places us firmly (and thankfully) in 2007.

Dinner was some kind of pita thing. I didn't feel like seeing Oliver Stone present Born On The Fourth Of July because I am a jerk. Sadly I am not feeling well, so I have found a hidden chaise longue and am longuing. We have now moved on from "L.O.V.E." to "Someone To Watch Over Me", played at a sprightly player-piano allegro. The bar is packed, or I would saunter down and try to be social. I may try to walk a block or two to the place where ol' Uncle Billy Bell had his picture taken 120 years ago...he may have even stayed at this hotel, who knows.

The trouble with giving up and calling it a night is it takes more energy to go home than to sit here and twitch like so much electrocuted bullfrog. But I suppose I should stop pestering the friends' list. Hope your evening is a delight, wherever you are.
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I'm in the echoey, high lonesome upper whatsit of the Driskill. Above the lobby, the big ole open space between the Grand Ballroom and the Maximillian room. Terry Rossio just walked by, but otherwise it's just me. Checking email, charging up the laptop, enjoying the entirely fraudulent feeling of having a drafty 125-year old hotel almost to myself. It's The Shining with a dumpy old blonde chick.

Had dinner with Jim Dauterive of King Of The Hill earlier, over at the Texas Legation Museum, which after a few Dos Equis I was calling the Tubal Ligation Museum. They have a big BBQ wingding every year and lest you think we were on a date, Mr. Dauterive just happened to accidentally sit down with me. But we did chat up a storm. Also in our party was a young lady who's a finalist here at the festival, and has been a finalist or semifinalist four times, but is so discouraged and depressed by years of Hollywood rejection that she's giving up writing and moving back to Hawaii. If I could "move back to Hawaii" I might very well give it up as well, but since I have no place to move back to and literally nothing else in my life, I must soldier gamely on.

I kid. I wouldn't give it up for anything. It's who I am, and I'll probably be composing my own obituary on my deathbed. Probably lead off with "whoops".

As for dinner, I am in Texas, and I was sitting with Hank Hill's godfather, so I did drink beer and I did eat barbecue, actual moo-moo barbecue. Only a Sith deals in absolutes, people. Eating meat's not going to be a commonplace thing, but in case I haven't made this clear, I am officially out of the self-denial business.

I was going to go to a screening at the Paramount--in fact I made it all the way in and sat down--but then I realized the film in question was likely to be a bit depressing, and it conflicted with something else I wanted to see this evening.

Oh, and a boy took me to lunch. Literally, a cute young man approached me out of nowhere, told me how much he liked my script and bought me lunch. I was in the back of a seminar on writing dialogue, and he said "I'm kind of surprised to see you in here--I've read your script, you hardly need anybody's advice on how to write dialogue." Swoon. All was going well until the conversation turned to his wife. Unsurprisingly, he only loved me for my brain, perhaps my least favorite 30 pounds. He's a reader for the festival, and an aspiring writer (I originally wrote "He's a reader for the festival, and an aspirin." Lightweight.) So I answered lots of questions about my "process" and craft and my "career" and then I patiently reminded him he was talking to a writer with five dollars in her pocket and whose house key reads "Toyota". By all means, follow my example, young paduan. Someday this entire lobby can be yours.

I should be down there seeing some scrappy young filmmaker's heartfelt story about Iraq or something, but instead I am going to haul my Lifetime-Television-For-Women saddlebags up to the Bob Bullock museum to see this. What can I say, I'm that kind of girl. I wish they were showing the "Taming Of The Shrew" episode. How I loved that.

There's a party at 11. Not sure if I'm going or no. Still kinda shaky on the physical side of things. Shh, don't tell anybody. A friend of mine from Outfest is here, so that's fun. And I talked to literally like seven people today, so I am on. a. roll. with the socializing. I sometimes wonder if the only thing I'll ever be good at is blogging about being bad at things.
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I am sitting in the lobby of the fabulous Driskill Hotel, feeling a little like Bob Hoskins in Mona Lisa, only there's no high-class whore involved, or Michael Caine, and in fact despite my recent cupcake binge I bear no resemblance to Bob Hoskins. But I'm a Hoskins-esque smidge out of place, and Neil Jordan would be a decent bet to direct a movie about my life, so the analogy is not entirely preposterous. One day I hope to actually stay in this hotel instead of loitering in the lobby like 130 pounds of insousciant, pixieish,, Bob Hoskins.

Polite of you not to ask what the other 40 pounds are doing. Thanks much.

So far, so good. Nice day. Warm. Freezing cold in the hotel, as if the Driskill A/C is single-handedly trying to defeat global warming. Film Types everywhere. And I do mean types. There's a certain reductive value when you've been to a lot of these things; you can learn to spot who's who without a guidebook. The slick, manic, manicured intensity of the agent, the sport-casual producer, the disheveled anonymity of the Successful Writer, the up-and-comers who all seem to look like Beck, the distressingly callow, calculating ambition of the Recent Film School Graduate-Slash-MBA Who Loves "The Godfather" Series and Everything Scorsese Ever Did And Also "Memento". Many, many of those guys.

And of course, the fatally flawed, slightly past-her-prime gal-with-a-past trying to make good. There's one in every crowd. So I'm told.

I love "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore". And "The Conversation". Get off my back, mob movie fans.

Interesting meeting with Nicholas Kazan, which was fun. "The art is in what you withhold," says Nicholas Kazan. Must not have been much art in my last script since I didn't withhold anything. He had lots of valuable tips like that.

I'm off to a welcome party in a minute. There's an overnight "grown-up" party which I may or may not attend since I was sinking before the ship left port. But we'll see. I love Austin and I'm glad to be back here, but so far I've been too tired to make any friends at the festival. But I shall gather myself up and get back in the ring momentarily.
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I'm in the Austin-Bergstrom international airport....specifically in front of a large stainless-steel intestinal behemoth that has belched forth Every Bag But Mine. I am promised by the people they pay to promise these things that my bag will be here within the hour. A plaintive girl singer's song echoes through the place, and it's live, as you'd hope, all achy steel guitars and Texas blue lonesome. We reach.

Meanwhile, apparently while in LAX I dropped or otherwise lost my entire bag of makeup and medicine. I'm sure some honest person turned it in to the lost and found, who I'm sure promptly dumped it, but I'll call. I'll be back through there in a couple of weeks. It's not so much that it was necessarily valuable but I don't even remember what was in it. Maybe something good. Gr.

The flight was fine. Flights. Were. Plural. I have not flown by myself in many a year, so it was weird. There are many AFF staffers here with signs beckoning forth the various and sundry festival VIPs arriving today, but I am not one of those, so I will be taking le transit publique to my host's house. Wee complication is at this exact moment I have no idea where that is. But I can't leave the airport without my wayward satchel o' panties, so there's time to sort all this out.

I did have to hack into my ex-spouse's T-Mobile account to get this connection. Does that make me evil? I tried calling first to ask, but there was no answer.

Could use a bite to eat but I don't want to cut into my bus fare. This should be quite an adventurous week. Think good thoughts.
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Remember when I used to use this blog to complain incessantly about Natalie Merchant or go on and on about my feeeelings instead of constantly flogging my career?

Yeah, neither do I. Anyway, this morning the Austin Film Festival made it official: Dramatis Personae (and its author) made the semifinals at this year's AFF screenwriting competition. I am, of course, delighted, and I'll be headed to Austin next month for the festival, so if you're there, do come say hello.

We now return you to "Mr. Belvedere", already in progress.

...and my apologies if you're hearing this twice, beloved writing-filter friends...


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