No, Virginia, The Patriots Are Not Cheaters

“It was hard to swallow because I always felt something happened but I didn’t know what it was and I couldn’t prove it anyway. Even to this day, I think something happened.” – former St Louis Rams head coach, Mike Martz

“There isn’t a day that goes by since 2003 that I haven’t questioned … that there were some things done that might have been beyond the rules that may have given them a three-point advantage,” – former Carolina Panthers GM Marty Hurney.

“Do your job. Maybe the one word that isn’t in that’s implied is ‘Do your job … well.  It could be enough to make the difference.” – Bill Belichick, New England Patriots head coach

Not sure when you’ll be reading this but I’m typing this a few hours before the kickoff of the 2019 NFL Season. There’s a lot to object to about the NFL. As an organization, they still not remotely take domestic violence seriously. They have a commissioner, Roger Goodell, who does not understand the basic difference between right and wrong. The participating athletes sometimes suffer debilitating injuries that even the millions they make doesn’t always make up for. If you’re a consumer who chooses not to watch football, quite frankly – I don’t have a counterargument for you.

I still like football. For all of its flaws, many of the participating athletes will tell you it’s an amazing game with incredible rewards not often found elsewhere. I’ve also found the game of football to be an incredibly accurate metaphor for the game of life. Whatever one does for a living, or even in personal relationships, we’re all engaged in game of inches. We’re all fighting and clawing through bombarding obstacles just to move forward be it one yard, fifty yards or one inch. I see so many parallels between football and life when it comes to missed catches, punching it through to the end zone, even embracing our rivals. So I remain a fan. And as one who learned to love football in the fair city of Boston, I remain a fan of the New England Patriots.

In February of 2019, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady lead the Patriots to their sixth Super Bowl win. I actually had to stop and count for a second (wait is it five or six?) Their Super Bowl record as a coach and quarterback combo is 6 wins, 3 losses. There are some combos wishing for that playoff record or a similar ratio for their regular season. That particular Super Bowl stat is kind of unheard of. And there’s a good chance they’re not done. Entering this season, Belichick and Brady are both widely recognized as the greatest coach and greatest quarterback of all time. Sure, that’s some that disagree and those are some hella fun barstool debates that will happen every Sunday between now and next February.

But there still remains a large portion of the population that think the Patriots are cheaters. That their success can be summed up with stealing some defensive signals on video tape or even more ridiculous – deflating footballs. Not only is this a false narrative, it’s an unhealthy one that actually does more hope to the people crying “CHEATER” than it does the Patriots.

Even as a Patriots fan, I’m going to be as objective as possible here. And I ask you, dear reader, to do the same. I ask you set that piping hot hatred aside for these pages because as you’ll my point here is not to get you to love or even forgive the Patriots. Because many people hate the Patriots, not for any kind of cheating, but for their success.

I don’t want to go down to deep a rabbit hole – this is actually still a post about screenwriting – but it’s easy to point out how flawed the accusations are.

In 2007, Eric Mangini famously reported the Patriots for videotaping defensive signals on the sideline. No getting around it – Patriots broke the rules. When confronted, Bill Belichick offered an explanation that he misinterpreted the rules as to mean videotaping signals was fine as long as the video was not used during said game. Commissioner Goodell didn’t buy it so fines were levied.

But the stigma was created by many fans everywhere because it offered a great comfort. It offered the sigh of relief, “SEE! The Patriots aren’t really that good” They had something they could use as an excuse should their team lose – are having already been defeated by – the Patriots.

Now, here’s the thing in the NFL. It’s not really great defense to say “everyone does it.” But everyone does it. There are probably about 32 teams that videotape signals in the NFL. They will be videotaping signals this weekend. You know who else videotapes signals – NBC, CBS, FOX and ESPN. Hell in 2006, when the Miami Dolphins tried to buy a bootleg videotape of Tom Brady in practice, ESPN’s John Clayton dismissed it because videotaping your opponent is just part of the game. He was much harsher when the Patriots were busted, of course, because the Dolphins are established NFL winners while the Patriots were decades-long losers. They just can’t be that good, right?

Rulebreaking is not an anomaly in the NFL. It is a woven part of the game. Teams use violations every game to their advantage. Some of those false starts and off sides calls that get a flag thrown? Strategy to throw off the other team or move the chess pieces around.

The Patriots broke the rules and they got punished for it.

But if one is to be honest – people aren’t mad the Patriots cheated. They’re mad the Patriots won. The St Louis Rams Greatest Show On Turf was supposed to cement their place in NFL history as perhaps the greatest offense to ever play the game. They were supposed to roll over the Patriots like the Bears did way back in the Rock-N-Wrestling days. This is something numerous longer fans of football told me. Instead, the Patriots pulled off an upset over the Rams shifting the paradigm and changing the balance of power in the NFL.

What happen next is actually heartbreaking. The St Louis Rams were back on the field the next season. Did they compete in the  Super Bowl? Not until this year would they return. That’s a 17 year gap. 17 chances they had to return. 17 chances to get that second ring. 17 years later, they were back in LA. In the meantime, the Rams suffered a collapse that was hard to watch. They were consumed by the bitterness of the loss. They never got over it and as result, that team never even came close to touching that greatness again.

Kurt Warner has said on NFL’s “A Football Life” that the loss changed their culture and an atmosphere of negativity poisoned the team. Running Back Marshall Faulk continues to preach that the Patriots cheated and videotaped their practice. But that has long been debunked with no shred of truth. Marshall Faulk is one of the greatest running backs to ever play the game. He defines elite athlete but he clings to this accusation in a way that’s maybe more validating than the wins he accumulated.

Most sad of all – it’s not easy to recite this but – former Rams head coach Mike Martz gave damning testimony that the NFL pressured him into not accusing the Patriots of cheating. Where was Mike Martz? In a cabin in Idaho. Why? Because ever since that Super Bowl ever single coaching gig he got ended in miserable failure. In one of Martz’s final stints as offensive coordinator, NFL cameras caught his quarterback Jay Cutler scream “Tell Martz I said ‘fuck him.’”

Bill Belichick is competing for his seventh Super Bowl win as a Head Coach this year. Mike Martz, unemployable in the game, told ESPN this “It was hard to swallow because I always felt something happened but I didn’t know what it was and I couldn’t prove it anyway. Even to this day, I think something happened.”

One can’t blame Mr Martz really. It’s comforting to say, “they cheated” or the even more pathetic “I don’t know what they did but they did something.” That’s a lot easier to say then “I lost. I failed. I wasn’t good enough, not that day.” But quite frankly, everyone has to say that on those terrible days. That’s not limited to football and failure is something no one is immune to.

But let’s just say for the sake of argument, the Patriots are dirty low-life cheaters. They stole that game from the Rams.

 Here’s the rub.

What happened to the Rams after that game – that’s still not the Patriots fault. 32 teams are going to face heartbreaking losses this year. How they respond is not the responsibility of their opponents.

Martz’s Rams had several more seasons to compete for a title. They became a shell of themselves. Kurt Warner returned to the Super Bowl in a valiant but losing effort to the Steelers. He’s admitted it took years from him to get over the first Rams loss but now has embraced a much healthier attitude about looking at life. In other words, instead of sour grapes, drink the fine wine.

The best answer – and quite frankly, best defense – for the spygate allegations came from one of their fiercest opponents, then-Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Bill Cowher. Mr Cowher knows more about football than you & I combined. The idea that his team, his dominant, kick-ass steel curtain Pittsburgh Steelers would lose a game because of stolen signals on videotape was an idea he found insulting to himself and his players. He’s gone on the record several times dismissing the idea: https://www.espn.com/blog/pittsburgh-steelers/post/_/id/4294/cowher-dismisses-impact-of-spygate

It’s a great summation of this problem. If one thinks their team is being beat by deflated footballs and stolen signals – one’s team has much bigger problems than the Patriots.

“But, Tim, you’re rationalizing their cheating.” Nope. I’m arguing that speeding tickets should not be treated like committing murder.

I don’t have to turn to the Patriots or any Boston propaganda. I actually can turn to one of their most hated opponents for this defense because they understand what competition is all about – adapt and overcome.

This is a phrase I’ve heard from several professional athletes I’ve worked with. Adapt and overcome. Adapt and overcome. Adapt and overcome. Great advice that works on and off the field.

Here’s the reality of football people don’t want to talk about – it’s not a fair game. “But it’s supposed to be!!!” Sure, but it’s not. Without even pointing to the numerous 60 – 10 scores that liter college football let me ask this question – let’s pit the Kansas City Chiefs against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Know what’s fair about that game? Nothing. Not one Goddamn thing. Oh wait, both teams wear red.

“But it’s supposed to be an even playing field!” That’s the ideal sure and the NFL introduces a lot of parity into the league. But barring major injury – anyone really think the Patriots, Steelers, Seahawks, Chiefs and Rams are missing the playoffs this year? Also, the NFL does not care about an even playing field. Google NFL Winnipeg for more.

“Saying other teams cheat is no defense for the Patriots!!” It sure isn’t. Just because other teams steal signals doesn’t mean the Patriots should be forgiven or overlooked for videotaping signals from the sidelines. However, in the context of the NFL where the Jets were caught deflating footballs, where the Vikings were caught heating footballs, where Bill Parcells would open stadium doors to effect the wind during field goals, where players are fined every single week for dirty hits and suspended for banned substances – please don’t insult my intelligence by telling me the NFL is some pure wonderland of innocence. It is good & evil, right & wrong, man’s  strength & flaws, angels & demons, all vying for every inch between the 20s.

Also, want to call the Patriots out for Spygate. Fine. But there’s a looooooong list of teams who committed similar crimes that received no such outrage. That’s the very definition of double standard. 10 teams break a certain – “it’s all part of the game.” The Patriots break the same rule – “THEY’VE ALWAYS BEEN CHEATERS AND THEIR SUPER BOWLS DON’T COUNT!!!!”

No. That’s not how it goes.

There was a Super Bowl between the Ravens and the Niners a few years back. The refs let the players play hard to the part where certain rules were neglected all game. So the Niners were constantly holding illegally – but no calls from the refs. In the end, when one of the Ravens was seen holding one of the Niners illegally there was mass outrage from the Bay Area. But that’s not how it works – you can’t accept an overlooking of the rules that benefits your team, then cry foul when it doesn’t. That’s truly not fair.

“But the Patriots look for any competitive advantage and bend the rules as much as they can!!!”

Read that last sentence again. People have said that like it’s bad. Quite frankly, if your team is not doing that, the Patriots aren’t the ones you should be mad at. There are self help seminars all over the country teaching people these lessons. There are corporate meetings all over the world right now employing this strategy. This is something I see in the entertainment business all the freaking time.

Look for every competitive advantage and use the rules – even bend them – to your favor. Yes. All the time do that. That’s great. That’s how many great things have been achieved across all walks of life. 

And this is probably one of my biggest grips with the bitching about the Patriots. Want to be mad at them for Spy Gate? Fine. I get that. I mean, again, if you’re going to mad teams for that kind of infraction, there’s another 31 other suspects but OK. But to mad at the Patriots for doing what they need to do to be successful – that’s the very height of bitterness. That’s completely irrational. It makes no sense and it sums up on the unhealthiest philosophies out there – “In order to lift myself up, I’m going to pull you down.”

Only it just doesn’t work that way.

Playoffs. January 2015. The Ravens accuse the Patriots of using an illegal formation to get certain players open as receivers. One problem – it was not remotely illegal. Just wasn’t used that often but perfectly legal.

The Ravens lost the game. They would not return to the playoffs until 2019.The less said about those 4 years for the Ravens the better. Well, it is worth mentioning they’re a team which publicly said Ray Rice only backhand slapped not punched his fiancé.

None of that is the Patriots’ fault.

The very next game, the Indianapolis Colts GM Ryan Grigson -tipped by the Ravens who were mad they lost the previous week – complained to the NFL about a deflated football. Everyone heard about this one. Deflategate.

I won’t spend a lot of time debunking this because I really don’t have to. A simple google search does it since the New York Times, Neil DeGrasse Tyson and even high school science fairs have alllllll debunked deflategate. Wired magazine even debunked the Tom Brady cell phone smashing because without destroying the server, destroying a cell phone is pretty meaningless. Even the Indianapolis beat reporters demanding Belichick & Brady’s heads have printed mea culpas regretting they even touched this story.

“But Brady was suspended” Sure was and an NFL even said it was because they wanted the Patriots punished more for Spygate so this was a make good.

The Colts went on to win 3 or the next 4 Super Bowls. Correction – they collapsed in historic fashion. Instead of trying to improve, they clung to the false notion “if only the Patriots didn’t cheat, we’d be Super Bowl Champions.”  No, they didn’t and no you wouldn’t be, Colts. GM Ryan Grigson & Head Coach Chuck Pagano (who would never back the deflategage allegations) were embroiled in a bitter power struggle which saw both lose their jobs. They work on other teams and both in a lower capacity. The Colts mismanaged their talent so bad, they placed the incredibly talented Andrew Luck behind a porous offensive line which saw Luck accumulate years of injuries. He just retired from the sport.

None of that is the Patriots’ fault.

So while everyone else was crying cheater, while the NFL actually changed certain rules like the eligible receiver play they used against the Ravens or revisiting the catch rule because it cost the Steelers a win over the Patriots, while everyone else was screaming, yelling & moaning – the Patriots just went to work.

The Patriots won in 2015 after Belichick stared down Pete Carroll and spooked him into throwing. (I’m not convinced Lynch punches it through anyway, was 0-5 from the goal line that season but still)

The Patriots won in 2017 wearing down an explosive Atlanta Falcons team to mount the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history.

The Patriots won in 2019 in a defensive slugfest that saw them make just a few better plays than the resurgent Rams.

Since 2015, they appeared in 4 Super Bowls. They lost 1 of them.

From 2002 to 2012, they appeared in 5 Super Bowls. They lost 2 of them.

To think that is because of stolen signals (something that is super common even without videotape) or deflated footballs is at best, completely misinformed and at worst, total madness.

The Patriots lost some of those Super Bowls. You will hear no accusations of cheating from them about Tom Coughlin’s Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles, who won with a quarterback considered a backup.

After losing an upset to the Eagles, the Patriots took the offseason, got some rest and got to work. They won the next Super Bowl. The Los Angeles Rams averaged 30+ points a game in the regular season. The Patriots held them to 3 points.

I listen a lot sports radio. I hear it all the time. “How do they do it?” “This has to be the year they collapse.” “They can’t be this good year after year.” “How are they still around?”

There’s no secret. There’s no mystery. It’s on the walls of their locker-room. Hell, it’s on T-Shirts they market to the general public. It’s the mantra and motto of the entire organization:

“Do Your Job.”

And as Coach Belichick’s quote at the top clarifies – do your job well. As well as you can. Every day. Strive to improve. Do Better. Whether you win or lose. Do Your Job. Do it well.

This another reason why I’m a damn proud Patriots fan. This philosophy has done so much for me and my accomplishments. Do your job.

In the screenwriting world, there’s a lot of snake-oil out there for sale. Writing is a difficult task to not only engage it but to even wrap one’s head around. I have an aptitude for it. I enjoy it. I love sitting at my desk. I’ve had a ball writing this!

One thing I’ve learned being a writer of numerous projects that have gotten off the ground and enjoyed by millions of people – is there is no magic bullet to make it easier. There is no “do this on this page” cheat map. There is no trick. There is one magic formula – sit down and get to work. Put one word after the other in the best voice you possibly can. Then put one page after another. One scene after another. One script after another. Keep putting the words down.

In other words: Do Your Job.

But what if the words aren’t good enough. There’s answer for that too – adapt and overcome.

That’s the secret. That’s the magic formula. Do Your Job.

The Entertainment business is probably even more unfair than pro sports. I see and hear it too much – “they’re not THAT good a writer, they just happen to know the right people.” “Oh the only reason so-and-so got that gig is because they slept together.” “if I was a different color and different orientation, I would have gotten that job,”

And it is all BULLSHIT. Time spent complaining about that should be time spent doing one’s job, honing one’s craft, arming oneself against the unfair obstacles that will be thrown your way. I’ve been in entertainment since 2003. I’ve been screwed over and given rotten deals many times. It’s part of the game. These pages aren’t filled with complaint about that. Instead, my laptop is filled with screenplays. Doing My Job.

“But, Tim,  there IS cheating that happens out there. It must be called out and punished.”

That’s right. There is. And it should be. As I said about the Patriots have been punished (falsely in the case of deflategate) so it’s long past time to move on.

And that cheating in life is not going to go away. Vent to your partner. Bitch to your friends. Go ahead, get it out of your system. But then – adapt and overcome. Do the one thing you can do in the face of life’s unfairness – Your Job.

Because if you don’t, if you let it eat you, if you let it color your lens, if you continue to scream at phantoms and bitter false narratives, it will poison your progress. There will be failures. Defeats. Hearbreak. Hell, rejection is practically the currency of a screenwriter. Get up. Shake it off. Move on to second down.

Bill Cowher stuck up for the Patriots. He didn’t get caught up in the cheating accusations. He’s a proud Super Bowl winner & one of the most respected coaches in Super Bowl history. He did his job.

Tom Coughlin stuck up for the Patriots when they were accused by Mike Tomlin of messing with in stadium communications. Tom Coughlin beat the Patriots to win the Super Bowl. Twice. He did his job.

Bill Belichick’s Patriots have been called cheaters, frauds, fakes, every name in the book. Hell, I’ve been harassed publicly for wearing Patriots T-Shirts. They heard it all. And they did their job. They’re 6 and 3 in the Super Bowl.

So as we begin this Season, the Stairway to Seven. I present the 2019 New England Patriots.

Tom “Tom Brady” Brady

“Double J Jeff” Jarrett Stidham

Brandon “Fortune Favors The” Bolden

Rex Burkhead-ing “To The End Zone”

Damien “The Omen” Harris

“My First” Sony Michel

“King” James White

James Develin “Eggs”

“Lucky” Philip Dorsett

Julian “Ladies And” Edelman

Josh “Flash” Gordon

“Better Call” Jakobi “And” Myers

Gunner “Run All Over Youski” Olszewski

Matthew “Saved By The Bell” Slater

“Nefarious” Demariyus Thomas

“The Carney” Ryan Izzo

Matt “Belichick’s Other Favorite Sport” LaCrosse

Jermaine “Eliminator” Eluemunor

“Bill And” Ted Karras

“Love” Shaq Mason

Joe “Me So” Thuney

Marcus “Laser” Cannon

Korey “Ritchie” Cunningham

Isiah “Doesn’t Lose He” Wynn

Michael “First And” Bennett

John Simon “And Simon”

Chase “Better Get The Catch” Winovich

Deatrich “Word To The” Wise

Adam “Don’t Call Me Malcolm” Butler

Byron “Colin” Cowart

Lawrence “What A” Guy

Danny “Give “Em Hell-ton” Shelton

“Money In The Bank Champion” Jamie Collins

Dont’a “Inferno” Hightower

Elandon “On Ya” Roberts

Kyle “He’s Van Nuys” Van Noy

Ja’Whaun “Yes, I Do Drive A” Bentley

“The Clique” Shilique Calhoun

Stephon “Not Gil Less” Gilmore

Jason “No, I’m Devin” McCourty

Devin “No, I’m Jason” McCourty

“Mighty” Joejuan Williams

Terrence Brooks “No Quarter”

Nate “Siskel And” Ebner

JC “Just Catchin’” Jackson

Jonathan “Break Your Bones” Jones

Obi “Wan Kenobi” Melifonwu

Patrick “Everybody Wang” Chung “Tonight”

“Big Ben’s Favorite Target” Duron Harmon

Stephen “Gotstokicksi” Gostkowski

Jake “Beetle” Bailey

Joe “Find Your Beach” Cardona

 

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Mean Gene Okerlund 1942 – 2019

“Bobby Heenan taught me, be the first one up and the last one to go to bed.”

“If you were to hang the chef for making a great taco, you will have hung an innocent man.”

“Hillbilly, I don’t want to spend the weekend shoveling horseshit.”

In 2012, I had the great privilege to work on the (so far) only season of WWE Legends’ House. I pride myself on being cool around celebrities but when I had to interview Mean Gene Okerlund for soundbites, I was genuinely star struck. I stumbled over my words, couldn’t ask questions clearly, ugh, it was awful. But Mean Gene being a 40 year pro thought nothing of and easily carried me through the interview. I was beating myself up and I learned in that moment to never again be star struck – he was a colleague, a coworker, not a celebrity.

 
It’s no exaggeration to say that Mean Gene became one of my closest friends on the entire cast & crew of the show. I asked a few questions about Wally Karbo & Verne Gagne and he knew I was legit. I got so good at interviewing Mean Gene he would request me daily – “you’re interviewing me today, right, Timmy?” We got our interviews down to where I got the bites I need to with one or two word questions. Mean Gene did indeed become my colleague, my coworker – and my friend.
 

It’s a wild thing to work closely with someone who was such an ingrained part of your childhood. But Gene Okerlund could not have been nicer, more cordial and above all – more professional. He was an industry pro who was game to do anything to make the show everything it could be.

Gene was also always complimentary to folks, making sure people were smiling and laughing. One time in an elevator at a casino, it was just me & Gene. A grandmother and her young grandson came on. Gene could be have been quiet, kept to himself but instead lit up and told jokes to the young boy. He then says to the grandmother “Anything goes wrong at this place, you send them to me.” No cameras looking. No one looking. Just Gene wanting to make people – everyday people – feel good.

My girlfriend at the time visited us on set. Gene was very taken with her and would ask the other wrestlers if they met her. “Hey, Hacksaw, did you get a look at the armpiece on this kid? Stunning!” he would bellow across the dinner table. Yes, that’s an antiquated saying but Gene was from another era and the intention was of the highest calibre.

Gene paid me two enormous compliments. It’s legend in the business that Gene like an after dinner cocktail. He didn’t say no to a before dinner cocktail either or one during. Several days he’d say to me “Timmy, when are we drinking?” I pride myself as one who never drinks on set or during. But after hours, the second to last day of shooting, myself, another crew member got to enjoy a nightcap with Mean Gene Okerlund & Pat Patterson who shared with us some of the best stories of their time in the business.

The second one came a few weeks into the shoot. I kept my experience on the small indie scene in the early 2000s to myself. I wanted to the wrestlers to know me as a TV Producer with a wrestling knowledge. When I opened up to Gene that I did in fact go to pro wrestling school in Rhode Island and reffed some indie matches, he beamed. “You should have gotten in the business! You’d have done great!” I don’t regret my decision to concentrate more on TV & movies than wrestling especially as I’ve been involved with producing wrestling from 2011 – 2018. So in a roundabout way, I did get in the business. To have the endorsement of someone with the success of Mean Gene Okerlund give me his own personal stamp of approval, well – that’s one award no one will ever be able to steal off of my shelf.

I never asked Gene for an autograph or to record a voicemail message as some other folks had. He had become a friend and that seemed wrong. When I got home from the shoot, I was delighted and flattered to see an email from Gene thanking me for all my hard work and the hope that we would work together one day. And it wasn’t lip service. A LinkedIn request soon followed. Unfortunately, we didn’t work together again but during the time with Lucha Underground, I got the chance to reconnect with Gene at a convention in Chicago. He lit up seeing me and was ever bit the gentleman his sterling reputation suggests.

Safe travels to my dear, long-time close personal friend, Mean Gene Okerlund who leaves us at 76 years young…

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Sing Your Songs

The last time I wrote a long form blog was to articulate why I was a supporter of Hillary Clinton and ally for women’s equality. Shockingly, the case for was defeated in favor of a rich, white con-man whose false promises appeal to the rage and fear generated by an ever changing world.

Election night of 2016 was a stunning moment. Looking back, I’m ashamed at my own response. I saw people openly weeping. I heard too many stories from those close to me about the hopelessness and hurt they were feeling. The glass ceiling was firmly back in place. Voter apathy was never more damaging. White nationalism was made mainstream. The thousand lies from a man who were not equal to the sin of one lie from a woman. The idol of the rich, white man (on both sides) was revealed as the real symbol of America – not the shining city of the hill that Ronald Reagan once so nobly described.

As someone firmly rooted in the Left, I have no problem saluting Ronald Reagan. Or George W Bush. Or George HW Bush. Or Mitt Romney. We’re not in a Left vs Right struggle now in America. We’re in the midst of a moral crisis in which we as a nation are deciding who we are.

Now, I want to be clear about something – it is now more than apparent that a hostile foreign power interfered in this election. We do not have a legitimate President at the moment. The office is filled but it is vacant. He should not be recognized and how that story plays out is a long way from over.

But the Russian interference does not take away from the rampant “fear of the other” on the side of the right. Nor does it take away from the exceptional privilege on the left. To put the needs of a progressive ideology over the needs of the many pretty much cancels out said ideology.

So who are we? What are we doing?

Election night when they called Florida for Trump, it felt like the death blow. The path to victory was pretty murky after that. Like a lot of folks when dealing a befuddling question, I took to social media. I went on to facebook and wrote something along the lines of:

“OK, if he wins, what do we do?”

Despite being a scatter-brained creative who likes to color outside the lines and fill his blog with typos, I’m blessed with a healthy sense of pragmatism. Yes, I know how oxymoronic that sounds but that’s where I like to live. I would have no success in the arts if I didn’t have a strong sense of practicality.

So what do we do?

It’s late June, 2018. The election has only become more stunning. The unthinkable nightmare is the new normal. I cannot believe he’s lasted this long. I’m a lot more upset about him now then I was when he was declared victor. And with 2020 around the corner (for you younger readers – time really flies by as you older) it appears that he maybe there even longer.

In the almost 2 year timeframe, I and many others have marched in protest at the injustice and rampant corruption. I know people who’ve not only volunteered but have become involved. As in running – and winning! – in local elections. There is a blue wave. It is real. It is not future tense. It’s happening.

But is it enough? And does it quell the feeling of helplessness when children are screaming in cages for the simple fact that they were born a different color?

So what do we do?

It’s been an odd feeling for me. Recently, Murder Made Easy played at the Dances With Films Festival here in Hollywood. (We played the Chinese Theatre – I mean, HOLY SHIT) I had the great fortune of meeting a slew of great filmmakers. They had noble stories of how to fix the world, confronting today’s problems, tackling inequality and breaking the injustice at its core.

And then they’d turn to me and say “What’s your movie about?” Sheepishly, I responded “well, it’s an old fashioned murder mystery.” At times it felt like one going to a civil rights protest but their main contribution was bringing the snacks for everyone.

However, everyone lit up. Smiles widened. When asked by the festival what I felt people should walk away from Murder Made Easy with I said simply, “Fun. Indie movies can be fun.” Several  of my fellow filmmakers concurred, telling me, “we need fun movies – especially today.”

Love letter to Agatha Christie aside, I do actually write stories which tackle the human condition, how we hurt each other as we help ourselves, despair, isolation, self-destruction. Those are things I like to write about. And again – it’s fun.

So for a few hours though, a movie can help us deal, can keep us sane, can help us catch our breath as we continue to say “no more” “enough” and “resist.”

We need to keep marching. We need to keep calling. We need to keep protesting.

And the artists out there – we need to sing our songs. I believe it was Johnny Cash who said after 9/11, an artist had to put pen to paper. Just to try to understand.

Our attention spans have become hyper-focused on the moment. Yes, we are in a national moral crisis. But it’s easy to forget we are in just the latest national moral crisis.

The DNC called me a few days after the election and told me that we are doomed without fundraising help. I told them, if we doomed, I’m not going to waste my money on a futile gesture. The poor fellow on the other side didn’t have much of response. His talking points were to point such an awful picture that people would scared into giving over money.

My experience has taught me that fear can be a terrible motivator. There is a strong argument agains that sentence but in this situation, I refuse to believe in doom. I’m not blind to the threat we’re under. I’m not turning away from the blatant racism that the US government is perpetrating at the border. And I’m not going to rationalize a single thing this administration has done.

But the path out, I believe, is through one of hope.

The more we believe we’re doomed, the more Putin has won. But the fact is we have a track record with some of this stuff.

We as a nation did not accept slavery. We fought our way out of that. Yes, massive prison reform is needed. John Legend sang his songs and is bringing attention to that.

The unrest we’re facing today kind of pales when compared to the 1960s. Sure, the hippies grew up to be the 80s Reagan’s and yes, red hats remind us that the desire to segregate remains strong. The marches must go on. And as we march we must remember – it was not a sense of “we’re doomed” that drove people across the bridge in Selma.

I didn’t defriend or block any Trump voters on facebook. I actually talked someone out of voting from Trump when I should them a speech from Trump where we said he would proudly eliminate her job. I get why many are turning their backs but I’m not sure that’s the answer. Nelson Mandela shook hands with his captors upon release from prison.

Sing your songs. Many who voted for him rationalized injustice, ignored racism and embraced their fears. Sing your songs. Let them know. You’ll be surprised how many will hear you.

It’s easy to feel like being creative is a waste of time. But look at many of your favorite artists and movies. I don’t need to see your collection but I know some if not many were inspired by times such as the one we’re in.

Sting sang about fields of gold but he also sang about the exploitation of the working class. “Brass watch, a check, maybe three weeks to live…”

Every look up the “Sunday Bloody Sunday” U2 sang about?

The heavy metal I grew up on featured some of the harshest criticism of war out there. And speaking of, the final episode of Blackadder Goes Fourth – a sitcom – is possibly the most powerful piece on World War I that I’ve ever seen.

Children are being ripped from their families. I’m seeing the new tax laws just brutalize people’s finances. Around the world, we are no longer being recognized by the allies with whom we defeated genuine evil.

Future generations are going to look back on these very days and ask “How?” Just as we do looking back on the insanity of slavery and the absurdity of segregation.

So sing your songs. We need them. Nope. It won’t fix everything. It won’t replace practical action like protest, volunteering and getting involved. But they will help.

We need to laugh. We need to hope. We need to be inspired. We need to counteract our worst ugliness with our purest beauty.

In pain? Sing your song – someone else in pain needs it. Badly.

Helpless? Sing your song – it will help someone else.

Hopeless? Sing your song – it will bring hope to others.

Sing your songs. They will drown out the vile hatred that comes screaming from under a red hat.

My signature for all my writing correspondences for a while has been “Keeping fighting the good fight.” It’s a phrase that can be traced back to the Bible. And I used it as an anthem of encouragement to my fellow writers as we all face times of rejection and self-doubt. It takes on a much more literal meaning nowadays.

So dear reader, we will talk more soon. Until then, keep fighting the good fight and sing your songs.

Below is one of oldest and dearest friends who’s been an inspiration to me, Genevieve, singing her song on one of the Sing for Hope pianos in New York City. Go on and give her page a like, then go sing your songs.

https://www.facebook.com/genevievemusicpage/videos/634820003545975/

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A Note About Ron Greenfield

Hello, dear reader and hello, dear listener. A lot has happened since I had the chance to sit down and write in these pages. The election we all wanted over and done with is finally over and done with. And like with so many things we rush through, many of us wish we had a second chance at it to get it right. 2016 turned into 2017. Many celebrities have left us. Many new babies have joined us. The New England Patriots pulled off the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.  A movie I wrote is currently wrapping up in post. More on that in the coming weeks and months. And on top of other constant changes in the dance of life, I’ve accepted a position at a cable network which has taken up much of the time I dedicated to this venture.

But I don’t want these pages to go idle completely. I’m delighted to report that traffic for the blog and currently paused podcast has held steady since November, 2016. I have several more topics and announcements to explore the next few weeks but as I’ve been thinking about my first post for 2017, one name kept coming to mind…

Ron Greenfield.

I hope many of you heard my interview with Ron in 2014. If not, it’s embedded below. I first met Ron over twitter (where I’ve done a ton of my networking) as he was expanding his “Aspects Of Entertainment” brand. Our conversations were easy, enjoyable explorations of this funny thing called Show Business. Ron had been there, done that on his extensive career. I, on the other hand, had only been in the biz for 10 years or so at the time so I was just getting warmed up.

Ron and I had several great conversations over Skype and email. He always knew how to offer advice without telling you what to do. When talking about my search for representation, I’ll never forget his simple pearl of wisdom – “Just remember, Tim, there’s representation and then there’s representation.” A great reminder. Ron had been in the trenches with many Hollywood luminaries bringing promotions, designs and shows to life. He didn’t like to bash anyone and he was never snobby about what he achieved. In fact, he struck me as just as fascinated and full of wonder for Hollywood after his career as he was before it all started. And even in his “retirement” he worked tirelessly on his website and putting together his collection of interviews.

Ron was fully committed to yet another new venture when ill health forced him to put the pen down for a bit. The fight was as valiant as any I had seen but on November 9th, 2016, Ron Greenfield left us at 66 years young.

Ron was a tremendous supporter of myself and these pages. It is only fitting that I return here in 2017 with a tip of the cap to top gent, talented artist and good friend to so many creators – Ron Greenfield.

Ron’s fantastic website Aspects of Entertainment is filled lots of wisdom and knowledge about entertainment:

http://www.aspectsofentertainment.com

Ron’s Book Perspectives Of Entertainment is available here:

http://www.amazon.com/Perspectives-Entertainment-Ron-Greenfield-ebook/dp/B00B2Q5H36/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1413309395&sr=8-1&keywords=Ron+Greenfield

The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing

http://thedanandtravisshow.libsyn.com/

and 

The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”

http://www.chronicrift.com/

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I’m With Her…And Not Just Hillary.

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“When everyone looks good, everyone looks good.” – pro wrestling axiom.

It’s always been my intention to keep politics out of the blog but with the Presidential election less than two weeks away, I find it hard not comment on the implications of what we’re the edge of.

A quick disclaimer: This post is not meant to be Anti-Republican or Anti-Conservative. How one votes is their business and as a storyteller, my first question for my audience is not “who’d you vote for?” Maybe one day over some cold refreshment, I’ll share which Republican principles I passionately agree with. (Stay the hell out of my script, government.)

This post isn’t even meant to be Anti-Donald Trump. Though let me add for the record. I, Tim Davis, Screenwriter, TV Producer and former pro-wrestling referee hereby reject Donald Trump because of his rampant bigotry, racism, homophobia, sexism, White nationalism, penchant for sexual assault, his disrespect of our Democracy, his possible sociopathic tendencies, fraudulent business practices and pathological lying. In whatever order you’d like. So actually, I guess yeah, I’m very Anti-Donald Trump. Sorry, Donald. Next time don’t be such an asshole.

Oh, go ahead and sue me Donald. I could use the publicity. Hey, maybe I’ll get to meet Jessica Drake in court! I mean, I don’t know who that is.

So suffice to say, I’m voting for Hillary Clinton. And the idea of putting Hillary Clinton on the same scale as Donald Trump is at best, intellectual dishonest and at worst, completely delusional. Saying Hillary Clinton is just as bad as Donald Trump is like saying “this Big Mac I just ate for lunch was almost as bad as the day my entire family was killed in a house fire.” And that’s not an exaggeration. Churchill was a sexist alcoholic. Anyone calling him as bad as Hitler would be deemed nuts.

I was for Hillary before I was for Obama. And with respect to the honorable Senator from Vermont, he was unable to dissuade me away from supporting her. I’m not voting for Hillary Clinton because she’s not Donald Trump. (I can think of no living or recently retired politician I would not pick over Trump.)

I’m voting for Hillary Clinton because she’s the most qualified candidate to run for the Presidency in my no longer short lifetime. She’s the single toughest politician I’ve ever seen in said lifespan. She’s overcome more smear, more attacks, more lies, more so-called scandals, more debasement, more sheer persecution than I’ve ever seen. They started on her long before Obama. I remember so many grown-ups in the 1990’s: “Who the hell does she think she is? She’s the first lady! She needs to learn her place.”

Oh, she learned her place alright. Her place is first one across the finish line of every political battle she’s had. Dick Morris and Trey Gowdy are in a “where are they now?” file while Hillary’s on the cusp of her biggest win yet. There’s a name for people like that in sports – Champion.

After all that the overt and covert sexism our society has thrown at her, Hillary stands poised to become the first female President of the United States. And in an election cycle that can only be described as surreal, she’s become the overwhelming rational choice for sanity everywhere accumulating the most votes of any candidate so far.

So yes, I’m voting Hillary. I’m one of the quiet majority that is actually VERY EXCITED AND ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT VOTING HILLARY!!!! Sorry news narrative, all the Hillary voters I know are crazy psyched about it. Yes, we actually do indeed like her.

And not only am I voting for Hillary, I’m voting for equality. No, not because we need a “token female President” to catch up with the rest of the world. But because the prejudices of America still need to be overcome. Voting for Hillary is my way of not listening to the inherent sexism of our society.

If Hillary Clinton were a man, her popularity would be through the roof. If Hillary Clinton were a man with the last name Kennedy, she’d have a statue by now. “BUT THE EMAILS!!!!” George W Bush (hell of a painter) and Karl Rove (yikes) deleted 5 million White House emails. No one cared. A woman does an infinitesimal percentage of a similar infraction and society at large is scandalized? That right there is sexism 101. If you’re mad at Hillary’s emails and not mad at W’s, I highly suggest you have some gender-equality figuring out to do.

And you know something? I might have deleted the same emails. It’s politics. It’s a tough business. Show me your favorite politician and I’ll show you similar corruption. It’s more ridiculous than deflate-gate at this point. (How’s that ratings drop, Goodell? Good job.)

It’s quite remarkable that when I ask people often very specific reasons why they dislike Hillary I get two kinds of answers either a) long debunked conspiracy theories (she has in fact murdered zero people) or b) these vague, amorphous blanket judgements. “I can’t explain why I just don’t like her.” Who’d have thought ambiguity could spark such passion?

“She’s shady…she’s suspicious…she’s mean…I just don’t like her.” She’s arguably the most vetted politician to get this close to the oval office. As far as the mean stuff goes, I’ve never seen her more harsh than her male counterparts which leads me to wonder if there’s some kind of sociological thing going in our culture. Does her yelling to defend herself remind us of when Mom used to yell us to finish our chores? Do we as a culture not like seeing women in such forceful roles?

“But she wrote mean emails about the Bernie campaign” So what? Seriously, so what? Welcome to big league politics. Bernie himself said he wrote mean emails about the Clinton camp! And I should hope so. They were fighting a high stakes game. Remember when Obama called Joe Biden stupid on a conference call? Upset about that one? Of course not, because men are expected to do that. A woman does it – GASP! Spare my blushes!!

Hillary hasn’t had to break a glass ceiling. She’s had to break through a glass ceiling that was covered in concrete while covered in mud and shackled in chains that spelt out “Double Standard.”

And she is far from alone. Hillary represents the plight of far too many women who don’t get paid as much male counterparts, don’t get the respect they deserve and are still pushing past second class citizen status.

One of the front lines in the battle for equality is my own industry – Hollywood. There’s been much written and talked about in regards to gender issues in the movie and TV business. There’s good news – progress and awareness for the issue has grown in the past few years. There’s bad news – there’s a hell of a lot more than needs to be done.

I don’t know what the answer is. I’m just one guy trying to sell some screenplays and making some movies I hope you’ll enjoy, dear reader.

I do know we need to talk about it more. I do know that Hollywood, our culture at large and the living generations have a lot to figure in regards to equality. Being quiet won’t help. Being defensive, yelling and screaming won’t help. But talking about it might.

So allow to share with you some experiences I’ve had and why I’m proud to write in these pages – we need gender equality in Hollywood right now.

The majority of bosses I’ve had in the Entertainment Business have in fact been women. Actually, the majority of bosses I’ve had in my life had been women. Most of them were great – driven, passionate, inspirational leaders. A few of them were shit – power-hungry, insecure, abusive. I could say the exact same thing about all the male bosses I’ve had. Because women, like men, are people.

Things are improving in Hollywood, albeit too slowly. But I noticed something this past year that I found very interesting. I did an enormous amount of pitching. The majority of “yes, I’d love to read your script” came from women. Like A LOT. I don’t have the exact stat (writer not a mathematician) but I’d guess it was around 70% of my “yeses” came from women. It got to the point where I was only seeking women to pitch to. (And uh, don’t give me the “but women execs are nicer than men execs” No. No, they are not. No one has the time to waste on a sympathy read.)

I can’t tell you why this track record has happened. No, I’m not flirting with them or bribing them or anything like that. I pride myself on professionalism. Maybe it’s because my stories are more intimate character dramas concentrating on people over concept? Or maybe the concepts I have appeal to the female demo that’s growing in genre? Maybe because I treat these women like equals and with respect? Maybe none or all of the above – I don’t know and I don’t ask. Once I get a yes, the script is mailed with a big “Thank You.”

People fear equality in an irrational sense. “If we give X more jobs, then there will be less jobs for us.” Before you email with examples of that happening, studies have shown that equal opportunity has lead to growth and expansion in many industries. An interesting read on the subject here from someone who I’m guessing is not a bleeding liberal: http://conversableeconomist.blogspot.com/2012/08/equal-opportunity-and-economic-growth.html

In other words, THEY are not coming to take YOUR job. THEY are coming for THEIR job which may in fact create a lot more of YOUR job. My own experience say my opportunities in my industry increase exponentially because of an increase in women gatekeepers in Hollywood. So keep ‘em coming, I say, I got a lot more scripts to pitch.

Inclusion is vital in Hollywood. There’s a limited number of plot lines and jokes. There’s a limitless number of ways to tell those plot lines and jokes when all ethnicities, cultures, orientations and genders (oh, the people who think there’s only two – they’re in for a shock this next century) are brought to the table. And no it will not be done at the expense of the White Man.

It’s always interesting to hear those who voice opposition to equality. Some basically say “I will not let you do to me what I’m doing to you.”

My girlfriend is writer. It makes me furious to think opportunities will be denied her just because she’s a women but I know they are. It’s happening and it needs to change. Some of the best producers I know are women. Some of the most kick-ass people creating their own brands and kicking down doors are actresses. The new trailblazers in the industry bring new stories, new visions and new frontiers are in fact women. “Murder Made Easy” a feature film written by yours truly, just wrapped production and our producer was a woman who was smart, tough and invaluable in making sure we got every shot we needed in the schedule and budget allotted.

When I look at who has inspired me the past few years as I fight this good fight in screenwriting, the majority of them are women.

While we have a long, long way to go and I certainly have not been perfect in this area, equality should be a no-brainer. Putting barriers in front of someone is asking for those same barriers to be put in front of you one day. I put these words on the page saying I stand with the moral justice that is equal rights for all. But there’s a selfishness to it, because I’ve seen the benefits to my own career the equality has brought. I want those people brought to the table because they may be the exact people who will look at me to write their stories.

Or as Hillary Clinton put it at the Convention: “when any barrier falls in America, for anyone, it clears the way for everyone.”

I’m with her. Because she’s for me.

Don’t forget to vote for freedom, for democracy and for equality.

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The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing

http://thedanandtravisshow.libsyn.com/

and 

The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”

http://www.chronicrift.com/

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Pulling Into Station

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Hello Dear Reader and Hello Dear Listener,

As you’ve probably noticed by now, I’ve not recorded any new episodes of the Handsome Timmy D Express since 2015. There is a very good reason for this. Several in fact. Beginning in January 2016, my screenwriting workload grew exponentially. Thanks in large part to several years worth of networking, some screenwriting awards and increased experience in writing of course, I was able to hook up and work with several independent producers and directors to write a myriad of projects currently in varying stages of development. In order to make sure I hit all my deadlines, some things had to go on the back burner and well, sadly, the podcast was one of them.

Starting and making this podcast was one of the very best decisions I’ve ever made as some the above opportunities were in fact a direct result of the connections I made doing the show. I enjoyed just about every single second of making every single episode. However, I’m a one-man operation without interns or staff so the challenges of making a top quality show became harder and harder.  And I do NOT want to put out  substandard product. Over the course of March through May, I tried to schedule several episodes but found my workload was such that I couldn’t make the time work. Editing, promotion, posting across social media outlets, copy etc, while all very very fun, can take up an entire workday and with several screenplays being juggled those hours become more precious. In fact, I was hoping to announce new shows in the fall but a movie shoot schedule pushed that back as well. Never say never, maybe I’ll record a new season of episodes in 2017. I’d love to be able to make it work, but at the end of the day I am a screenwriter, not a podcaster about screenwriting.  I will still be blogging when I can various thoughts, quibbles and anecdotes from the world of writing when I can. And hopefully you’ll get to see one of these movies I’m writing sooner than later.

I’d like to express my deepest gratitude to every single person that listened. Based on the numbers of the various feed, many thousands of people, maybe even tens of thousands of people tuned in across over 90 countries. I would have been thrilled to hit 10 countries but to have someone from at least 90 countries tune in is almost impossible for me to comprehend. Thanks so much, everyone and the episodes are still archived on the site’s index for your listening pleasure. And quick-fun fact about podcasts, people are still discovering the show every day. I hope the information and insight offered by my guests remains timeless and helpful to all listening whenever and wherever they tune in.

Along those lines, my guests took time out of their busy schedule to appear on my podcast for free. This was a non-profit operation. No one was paid a single dollar to take part and I can assure, I didn’t make a single dollar from the show. All I could offer was getting the word about their projects. This was just about spreading information and generating buzz in the digital do-it-yourself age. I can’t express my gratitude enough to every guest who appeared: Matt The Cat, Megan Karasch, Mike Doto, Dan And Travis, Chelese Belmont & Shannan Leigh Reeve of Beleeve Entertainment, Brian Veys, Joe Lidster, AJ Feuerman, Arnold T Blumberg, Talia Harari, Stephen J Llorens, Chris Garcia, Rizelle Januk, Mike Sundy, Ron Greenfield, Stephen Scaia, Rick Dominicus, Gordy Hoffman, Tom Krajewski & Jen Muro, Tom Grey of Player Piano, Simone Bailly, M. Dal Walton III, Sammi Kat, Dan Mason, Rory LaPointe-Smith, Paul O’Brien, Jon Matthews, Crystal House, Kyle C Mumford, Ramon Hamilton, Travis Rust & Stacy Gueraseva, Chavo Guerrero, Simon Guerrier, Gregor Collins, Daphne Ashbrook, Chuck Slavin, Jennifer Sharp, Kyle Newmaster, Amy Reynolds and Elizabeth Lombino.   These folk are all doing spectacular work to add to their sterling resumes and they have my best wishes for continued success.

I also have to thank John S Drew (who made the above photo), Dan Lackeye and Sean Reiser for linking to my show which provided a ton of new listeners. I did my best to plug their shows back and hope I was as helpful to them as they were to me.

Now, if you’re still looking for some great podcast to check out about the creative world for the upcoming holiday weekend or any weekend in particular, let me throw these options out there:

The closest thing to my podcast is “Making The Sausage” from fellow screenwriter and all-around top gent Nick Rheinwald-Jones. I had the good fortune of meeting Nick at the wonderful Austin Film Festival. Like myself, Nick found real industry pros to interview for his show about how the nuts & bolts of a creative profession works. He’s collected some great guests so far and there’s a lot of knowledge on his show:  http://previously.tv/shows/making-the-sausage/

For some criticism and analysis of the latest happenings in the entertainment world, check out the Hollywood Picture News. Loren Erlanger and Ryan Thompson along with some special guests dive into every possible detail examining how and why things work in the ever-changing world of TV and movies: http://hollywoodpicturenews.com/

One of the good guys in the podcasting world is Kenny Mittleider. He’s one of the passionate and knowledge fans of all things “geek” out there and offers several podcasts covering it all: http://geekyfanboy.blogspot.com/

Don’t forget there’s still plenty of great podcasts on the network I was proud to be a part of, John S Drew’s Chronic Rift: http://www.chronicrift.com/ Including of course, the Dan & Travis show who are the first guys who put me on internet radio waaaay back when.

And if you’re just looking from some great old music to discover, you’ll never go wrong with Matt The Cat as he explores The Juke In The Back: http://www.jukeintheback.org/

Thanks again everyone. It’s uncertain world these days, as it is most days, so I hope it’s a safe and happy 4th of July Weekend. Keep fighting the good fight!

The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing

http://thedanandtravisshow.libsyn.com/

and 

The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”

http://www.chronicrift.com/

 

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The Blank Page

Blank Page

A lot of writers fear the blank page. Much has been written about that empty, white monster staring back at a hapless author bereft of ideas who doesn’t know how to fill the space. And for many aspiring, new writers the blank page can be one of the scariest obstacles to face.

I have a confession to make. And I make it with no braggadocio but this is a fear I can’t relate to.

I just can’t. Mainly because I can’t recall any time when I was scared of the blank page. Maybe writing term papers in college but I even tried to make those fun much to the appreciation of my professors. I’m hard-pressed to remember a time when the blank page filled me with any kind of trepidation, nonetheless dread.

Not only am I not afraid of the blank page, I actually like it. OK, here’s the real confession – I love the blank page.

Love love love it.

I remember being in a museum years ago and a young art student was setting up an easel in a room to paint, I’m guessing, a reproduction of a painting on display. Or maybe it was the most brazen art forger in town but either way it was a fascinating juxtaposition of both sides of the journey. On the wall hung the completed piece after God knows how many years of practice, discipline and struggle. And just a few feet away was a young person just at the starting line, organizing their paints and brush while the large white canvas waited patiently to be filled with visuals that could make the eye go “Wow.”

Is it really that different for us writer? Our ideas are the paint. Our words are the brush. The blank page is literally the writer’s canvas, waiting patiently to be filled with our expression that will hopefully make the mind go “Wow.”

The blank page is the beginning. Chapter one, paragraph one, sentence one, word one.

The blank page is like the last day of school right before summer break. It’s that delicious anticipation of leaving the real world behind an entering another place, another reality or the endless confines of the imagination.

Where do you want to go? Gotham City, Tatooine, the prom except this time you’re the best dancer our there, the middle of a football field, a World War I battlefield, deep space, the deepest ocean (Jim Cameron’s probably driving a submarine there now) – you can go anywhere you want through that blank page. It is a writer’s own personal TARDIS.

I mean, come on. How awesome it to type stuff like:

FADE IN:

EXT. DEEP SPACE – NIGHT (ESTABLISHING)

The blank page was my gateway to every story I’ve ever wanted to write. I feel very fortunate that I always saw it like that. Something else that happens to me every time I finish the first draft of a script and I mean, EVERY SINGLE TIME, that I hit fade out and date the cover page – I want to go on again. Like when you were a kid (or an older roller coaster enthusiast) and you finish the roller coaster and your first thought is “I don’t care how long the line is, I want to go AGAIN” or when you put your favorite song on repeat.

I want to do that again and again and again. I cannot date too many cover pages.

And the way to get there is through the blank page. So as result, I see it not as this daunting white beast staring back at me from the abyss. Instead, the blank page is possibility, imagination, an old friend of never-ending potential.

The blank page is EXCITEMENT.

Besides, if you blow it on the first few pages, you’re going to rewrite them anyway so seriously no pressure. In my experience, Act One of a script or the first 25 pages get rewritten exponentially more than the rest of the script. Those first blank pages are where you can really screw everything up or to put it another way – it’s where you can really have fun.

The top of the mountain is the goal but you can’t get there without starting from where the rock bursts from the ground.

My suggestion is don’t run from the blank page. Don’t fear it. Embrace it. It’s our canvas. It’s where we find our stories, sometimes even find ourselves. It’s where we face our fear and discover our bravery.

The blank page is where we become writers.

*And if you’re wondering what’s happening at night in Deep Space, then I’ve really done my job.

The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing

http://thedanandtravisshow.libsyn.com/

and 

The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”

http://www.chronicrift.com/

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