Thursday, November 17, 2005

Super busy

Hi guys. I can't stay long, as I'm super busy (the title of this post might have given the game away!). I'm working on a project which could get funding to be made in Australia, of all places. Apparently Hugh Jackman went to school there. Anyway, the project is a movie (of course!) and it's called Goth Whitlam: Maintain the Sullen Rage.
It sounds great!

Ok, more later. Bye!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Two Words

As I lie here convalescing in the John Cassavetes Wing of a certain private hospital my mind is as active as ever - maybe more so, as the brain pan is positively brimming over with great concepts for film and television. Some time ago I pressed the button that summons my nurse and had her bring me a black Bakelite telephone - there's several lines out at my bed-side of course, but none seemed to be exuding sufficicent gravitas to PLACE A CALL TO STEVEN BOCHKO!!!

Which I did just then.

Do you know what I said? Just two little words, and then I hung up. These were those two words.:

Vampire Dinosaurs.

OK, I'm going to go have a power-nap! More later, bye!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

My Descent In A Bathysphere (of Hope and Hell)

For a time it seemed as though I would never re-emerge into God’s healing light. Several times I almost gave up – but each time an inner Neal spurned surrender and railed at the gibbering dark. Railed, and roared, and never surrendered until finally I emerged from my foetid cocoon into the clean and honest air – caked in excrement, unshaven, almost insane it is true – but ALIVE!

It began, as these things quite often do, with the innocent purchase of a bathysphere. Diligent readers will no doubt be aware that the last six weeks have been far from an easy time for me. The demise of my cherished “Space Indians!” project had left me more fragile than I was willing to admit to myself, culminating in that unfortunate lapse when I ran over Robert Downey Jr twice.

Some nights I’d come home and repair to my private screening room – but instead of watching a few reels of a classic feature, you know what I was doing? I was sitting in my Laz-Y Boy recliner screaming. Sometimes I would scream for several hours at a time. Several weeks passed – several weeks of screaming – until finally Paquita came to me, wringing her poor old cataractic hands. She was so nervous, poor old dear! She hadn’t understood my screaming regimen at all. In fact she said,

“Senor. Neal, usted tiene un craziness en su cerebro y debo irme si este griterío terrible continúa, el coto de los santos usted.”

To which I replied, my heart welling with compasión for her:

“Oh, Paquita – there can be no talk of you leaving. I must continue my screaming, but had I known the anguish it was causing you…had I only known….”

That very moment I decided to find a quiet place to scream! Finding a quiet place to scream took a little longer. Eventually though, I found the perfect thing on on eBay – a bathysphere! The Otis Barton Oceanological Institute delivered my purchase promptly and all seemed well. Had I only known that my bathysphere would take me to a dark and sunless place I would not have purchased it so blythely.
One particularly testing day I was struck by a powerful urge to scream, and drove home in order to do so. I’d had a few drinks as I stumbled down my garden path, a path that was paved not with good intentions but the ominous foreshadowing of Krazy-Paving! The last rays of the sun played about the hatch like rabbits made of honey as I settled comfortably into my screaming chair. A shadow passed across the sun as I pulled the hatch closed, the bolts sliding into place like ominous bolts.

My nightmare was about to begin.
OK, more later! Bye!

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Interesting proposal!

Well, I've just been asked to give some advice on a new project, which is going to be a sequel to Oliver Stone's powerful issues-based film The Doors. Apparently, for this sequel Jim Morrison didn't die, but survived somehow, becoming a crusader for father's rights, and taking part in many dangerous stunts.
(If you're not sure, Jim Morrison is mainly famous for taking his penis out of his trousers onstage, and for inventing the anagram.)
If you've got any great ideas for this blockbuster, which looks like it's going to be called 'Goodbye Mr Mojo: Hello Fatherman!', leave a comment.

Ok, bye!

Monday, July 04, 2005

Straight from my brain to your face!

Here are some great ideas, fresh milled from the Ideas Mill in Wurmaltown (pop. 1) :

Neal Wurmal's Private Menagerie
I think that I should start my own private menagerie, full of exciting and exotic animals. Some of these animals (eg. tiger, lion) will be symbolic animal embodiments of parts of my personality. In case this is not clear to all, there will be an explanatory brass plate next to each animal's cage. For example:
Neal Wurmal's The Tiger
This noble tiger beast shares many characteristics with Neal; both are good jumpers, both are noble and brave, terrible in their anger when angry. The tiger, like Neal and Benjamin Franklin before him, enjoys a little sleep in the afternoon.
If there is any problem with keeping the exotic animals, stuffed ones could be used instead. Visitors would be whisked past them on a small train, twice - the first time slowly, so they can do their reading, and the second time very quickly, to give the illusion of movement.

And now a film project:
Neal Wurmal's George Bernard Shaw
I don't really know a helluva lot about GBS, but bio-pics about him are pretty thin on the ground - and these things always smell of Oscar. Orlando Bloom will star as George Bernard Shaw, Kate Winslet will be a singing woman and Ray Winstone or Lou Gossett Jnr will be a police-man (or "potato-peeler", as the Cockneys would have it in their idiom). It will end with the famous boxing match, which George Bernard Shaw won if memory serves.

OK, as usual, more (great ideas) later! Bye!

An Unpleasant Phone Call

OK, I've just returned from my dedicated phone room where I was obliged to take a rather unpleasant call from someone purporting to represent Robert Downey Jr. At first, this individual was oily unctuosness personified; imagine if you left a big tub of "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" out in the Arizona sun for ten days. Then imagine you gave that tub a law degree. Well, that's what I was talking to. (Not really - I am deploying a metaphor.) Here's some choice exchanges - I'm recording ALL of my calls these days, so the transcript is correct in every particular. (Thanks extended to my P.A Sherilynn, for typing up the transcript).

NOT BUTTER: Given that my client is clearly the injured party, I'm aghast that you've seen fit to launch this battery of what I can only characterise as frivolous, nuisance law-suits.

ME: Given that you are clearly an idiot, you should shut up. What do you call boiling liquid cascading over the tender flesh of your upper thighs? (Probably a good weekend for you - but not for me!)

NOT BUTTER: My client is in hospital with what I am told are serious injuries. Whilst I understand that the injuries you sustained are painful, one could not describe them as debilitating.

ME: Do you think I ENJOY running over someone twice in my car?

NOT BUTTER: It's curious you should say that. We have a witness who says that you were laughing as your car mounted the curb and drove over Mr Downey for a second time.

ME (with great forbearance): I was not laughing. I was crying. With pain.

There's much more, but I think you get an idea of exactly the sort of of sewer-monkeys one is obliged to deal with. (One aspect of this business I've kept totally secret; just before I lost control of the car for the first or second time, a bright light flashed in my eyes - I think I might have been experiencing an epiphany!!) Honestly, if I thought it was such great fun to run over Robert Downey Jr twice, then why haven't I been doing it every day, all of my life? Why is this the first and only time I have run over Robert Downey Jr (twice) if I enjoy it so much?

I say again: I wasn't laughing. I was crying.

Now I am trouble with the Vaquero Ranchero people.

Careful readers of this blog will recall (and I recommend careful reading, as I have a lot of useful information to impart to "young" or "young at heart" film-makers and writers) that in the past I've had some run ins with Piano-Men, and troubled actor and Piano-Man Robert Downey Jr in particular. In the past it's all been in the spirit of good fun - the sort of raillery and joshing that high-powered professionals at the top of their game will indulge in to relax and let off steam. Up until now.

You might also recall me mentioning in passing a few days ago that whilst the Vaquero Ranchero is indeed a great car for the urban cow-poke, it is let down by a flimsy and dangerous cup-holder. In fact, that cup-holder is a DEATH TRAP, and I can't believe the car was released with this extremely dangerous flaw in place.

I can't say too much about this right now because of looming legal issues, but there are some facts I want to share:

1. That on the morning of Saturday 3rd July 2005, Neal Wurmal did (accidentally) hit Robert Downey Jr with his car.
2. Said impact caused the Vaquero Ranchero's internal cup-holder to dislodge, in so doing spilling (superheated, extremely hot) liquid onto the legs of Mr Neal Wurmal.
3. The pain and shock of this super-hot liquid searing his legs caused Mr Wurmal to involuntarily drive over Mr Downey Jr a second time.
4. I was not yelling and screaming with rage (OK, when the coffee was giving me third degree burns, I was yelling like anyone would - but not with rage) as I drove over Mr Downey a second time.
5. There's been some pretty mischievous and malevolent stuff written about this whole unfortunate incident so I just want to say that anyone who says I would deliberately drive over Mr Downey in anger has something wrong in their brains. And the only reason I was "unshaven, clad only in a house-robe" was that I was driving down to Bennie's to pick up some a cherry danish and some dry muesli for my breakfast.

OK, more later! And stay safe!

Friday, July 01, 2005

Slick Limerick

Hi Guys, an old girlfriend who is an EXTREMELY SEXY LADY ;) once helped me through a rough patch. She showed me that poetry can really be part of a healing process. Anyway, I was in Limerick in '93, and though the surrounds are beautiful, they're a morbidly depressed people. Nonetheless, when I was walking around, I'd try to think of the people speaking in their giddy, funny verse. But eventually this was untenable, so I started imagining more surly, dour dialogue, but retaining the same rhyming format. I was also doing a little road-safety campaigning at the time, so some of those elements have been put in there in a pretty subtle way if I do say so myself. Here's my fave of them. It's called "We're Gonna Get Ours".

"We're Gonna Get Ours"

With her head laid out on the dash
A 98 Olds had crashed
From the road it had lurched
To oak trees and Birch
Preacher reads: Dust to dust, Ash to ash

And crowd reflection begins
On her loves, her life and her sins
Could it all have changed
been rearranged
if she weren't separated from her own limbs?

Though some lives are blessed
Sure as suns set in the west
and as tides follow moons
Bad drivers die too soon
Somehow, we’ll all find our rest

‘Cause there’s no mighty Zeus
Staving Reaper's noose
It’s dirt, ground or clay
To which we get laid:
We are our own golden goose'

(or geese)

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Orlando the Pyrate! Merchandise

A couple of years ago, to coincide with the release of a certain major film my attorney says it would be wiser for me not to name, I scribbled down some merchandise ideas on a cocktail napkin and sent them to my guys in the Phillipines - and now the proto-types and blanks have finally arrived! Yay! I am going to make a MINT with these toys, which I call "Neal Wurmal's Orlando the Pyrate!"
Notice how his sword is also a mirror, thus appealing to boys and girls.

This is a very sexy and subtle toy.

There is something a bit "off colour" about that slogan, and I am going to have it changed.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Wrenching yet beautiful sadness.

Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Bad things happened to a person with the initials "NW"; they rubbed his nose in the dirt, they tried to ruin his Pac-Man bio-pic, they shot-down the beautiful space-swan that was Space Indians!, and then they picked up that swan and used it to wipe their coke-addled noses. That made "NW", a man of vision who only ever wanted to share his beautiful visions so sad, that you know what he went and did?

He died.

Of sadness.

When people died in the Viking-Times, they would put the special dead person on a boat and set the boat on fire, and if they had been a person who had created a particularly moving and powerful cave frieze (for example ) then they would all gather round as the boat floated up into the sky, and say things like, "Now that he's gone, I miss his genius", and "Why didn't we understand because now we never will ,although his cave friezes ALWAYS made me see things in a new and exciting light". Some of them would be so overcome with emotion that they would weep for the rest of their lives about the special man who was gone, particularly if they had ever been mean to him, or screwed him on a development deal.

I had a funeral in my house last night. It was solemn, heartfelt and deeply moving. Paquita and I were the only attendees. I'd made a beautiful origami boat (actually Hamano Kazuna-san on Sunset made it ), and I'd inscribed on the side of it with a special pen ("NW" wrote his first screenplay with that pen) the beautiful message:


I solemnly set the boat on fire, and even more solemnly pulled the lever that would send it to its watery Valhalla. Overcome with emotion, Paquita tried to leave the bathroom at that stage, but I grabbed her upper arm and patted it comfortingly. She's old now, but at the end she just looked me in the eyes and said,
"¿El jefe, sobre cuál en infierno santo era ése? ¿Usted ha ido loco otra vez?" I'm not ashamed to say I was crying like a baby at this point so I simply looked into her eyes and nodded in empathy. I could understand her pain.

So requiescat in pace, NW. I've changed my name by deed poll, and from now on I'm going to take a lot more ownership of my projects. I wanted a name that projected inner strength, a certain nobility of spirit, perhaps - who's to say? - some genius, certainly a name that showed that whilst it's owner took joy from life he wasn't gunna be taking no shit-sandwiches from it so in the end I settled on "Neal Wurmal".

Now I have to change all my stationary.

I guess I've matured as an artist because at the moment I don't really feel like writing about happy space-pilot Captains in space. * The world is dog eat dog, every cat for himself and my new project reflects this ugly dystopian vision.
It's provisionally entitled "Neal Wurmal's Thirst Hunger: The Thirstener" and is part of a projected sci-fi quadrilogy. Imagine a world where everyone is thirsty all the time. Somehow, there is a man who has some water - lots of it! - but he is a selfish man. He keeps all the water to himself, and teases all the thirsty people by washing his cat in the water sometimes. Then there is a man, "The Thirstener", and he has a lot of good ideas about water. The people don't listen to the man, and they get more and more thirsty. Will The Thirstener win?

I don't know. These are troubled, uncertain times. Actually, the genesis of this project is rather interesting. I was driving along the freeway in my Vaquero Ranchero* and because I was thirsty I reached for the fruit-latte in the cup-holder, accidentally spilling it. Because I was so thirsty I got to thinking, "Why is there no word for when you are starving to death - but for water?" I could only think of "thirst-hunger" - and from that the project was born!

OK, more later! Bye!

* Though it's fertile ground I may return to! Also, the Vaquero is a very good car, but with a flimsy cup-holder!

Monday, June 27, 2005

The Anguish Machine

I have never been to Paradise
I have been to me.
It’s lonely here
Wherever I am.
(I am at me, but if ‘me’ doesn’t know where ‘I’ am, what help do ‘I’ have?)
My emotions are like a tumble drier of emotion clothes
The jeans of sadness
The tank tops of despair
The underwear of contentment
The socks of love
And the combat trousers of unfulfilled creativity.
They spin, and sometimes you think
You can see which one is which.
But in the end they are a kaleidoscope of emotion-wear
Albeit slightly drier than some earlier stage
But still a bit wet.
Now that the power has been turned off to the tumble drier of emotion clothes
Who will take them from their prism/prison
And dry them with the pegs of companionship
And encouragement?
I don’t know. I wouldn’t have written something this
Personal if I knew. Would I?
It could be you.
Is it? Leave a comment if so.

Friday, June 24, 2005


Look, I'm sorry if this post is a bit intense for those of you with weak stomachs or whatnot. That's just the way it is. This is the TRUTH, and as Jack Nicholson said, if you can't handle the truth, get the hell outta my hotel.

I really don't know if I can be bothered with this stuff any more. You know, you put your heart and soul and everything into something and then some smug fatcat in a stupid suit of some kind just says, 'oh, this isn't angled the right way to our native American teen girl demographic' or something, and it's over. Done. Your dreams scattered on the wind like so many quite light pieces of rubbish, or litter, if you prefer.

This is what happened. You might remember that I mentioned a while ago and again yesterday that my project Space Indians! had been given the green go ahead for a pilot. Everything was in place: Chris Columbus had signed up to co-direct (he actually made contact through this site!), and Orlando had come on board to be happy space captain Captain Chris Columbus. I knew the marketing angle would be great – Chris directing a pretend Chris, but in space, and fighting against space indians, led by their tribal leader, played by Christopher Lambert. His son was going to be Lou Diamond Phillips, but he had to pull out fairly early on, due to being tied up with the prequel to Bats. We were screen testing just yesterday for the parts of hundreds of space indians and also for the crew of the ship (and yes, there were some very attractive women here, desperate, as they say, to get a part – but don’t worry, my casting couch is for napping and blue skies thinking only!).
So this was all great. It’s an exciting position to be in, preparing for your pilot to be made. You might have read my entry yesterday, about a typical day in my life. Well, I don’t think there’ll be too many more of those. I am SOO upset, I don’t think I’ll be able to continue in this business any longer. I’m serious.

This is why. When I got to work yesterday, my PA handed me a message. It said could I call some guy from Fox Searchlight, as he had some important discussion points about Space Indians! he wanted to bring up, and why had I been avoiding him? I said I haven’t been avoiding you, I’ve just been very busy, but my PA, Sherilynn, said that it would be easier for him to hear me if I spoke to him on the telephone, rather than through a note. I pretended to laugh at her little impertinent joke, but then gave her my stare which says: “Do NOT undermine me. Not now, not ever. You understand? Huh? Huh?” Then I went into my telephone room.
This room has a number of telephones in it, some of which are used for special purposes. I decided a relaxing, general purpose telephone would do just fine for a conversation like this. Little did I suspect I had dialled into an aural minefield of betrayal and traitorous behaviour. How could I?

The conversation went something like this. (It might not be 100% correct, as I became flustered, but it IS the truthful essence of what happened, and this is what I aim for in all my creative endeavours. Or rather, I did. What a bunch of rubbish.)

Me: Hello, you left a message with my PA about the pilot for Space Indians!, which has the director Chris Columbus attached (not literally!) and also the famous actor Orlando Bloom in it?

[Note: When I am speaking in brackets, I tend to lower my voice a little, drop the volume, and alter the angle of my mouth to the telephone, so the listener understands the structure of the sentence, and the placement of the parentheses (brackets).]

Guy at Fox Searchlight: Hi Neil, yeah, we just had a few issues that needed ironing out. Firstly-

Me: Shoot.

GAFS: Firstly, we're really excited about the prospect of working with you, and we think Space Indians! is a really great, brave, exciting piece of cinema. I know Frank Darabont is very excited about doing the rewrite…

Me: Hey, hold up! Nobody said anything about any rewrites, GAFS. I’m an auteur, you know, which means nobody touches my scripts but me. Nobody. Well, ok, the actors get to touch them a little...and so do some other folks...but it’s only touching, not rewriting. There’s a difference. Anyway, I don’t really see that we need to discuss that aspect any further (if at all). What else did you want to bring up?

GAFS: Ok, we’re a bit worried that you’re all over the internet claiming that we’ve given the go-ahead for you to shoot a pilot. That’s simply not true – we said we’d be interested in something about a space pilot-

Me: Exactly. So stop talking about riddles. You want a space pilot, I’m making a space pilot. Is this worth me paying for this telephone call to overseas?

GAFS: Ok, Neil, umm… Look, there are a few issues, as well, with the script you’ve sent us. First of all, we feel it’s a little, um, insensitive to the Space Indians…

Me: You know that’s the idea, GAFS. The indians weren’t exactly sensitive to the explorer Chris Columbus (not the film director) when he discovered America, were they? So why would space indians welcome a courageous and happy space pilot into space if they wouldn’t even let him into a country on Earth? Answer me that, Mr Knowledge. It’s simply an intrinsic part of the project.

GAFS: Ok, um – there’s also the matter of the, what was it, five or six extended shower scenes featuring Columbus, not to mention the weird dream sequence where he has sex with his mirror image while the ghosts of massacred Indians watch, cheering and applauding…

Me: YOU were the ones who said the movie didn’t skew to the teen female demographic, GAFS. YOU were the ones who begged for some romantic interest in the story. Get real, you twerp. Who wouldn’t want to see this, that’s what I want to know…

GAFS: I’d advise you against calling me a twerp, Mr Wurmel. You really don’t want to lose me as a contact in this business…

Me: Ooh, you’re angry. Did anyone ever tell you that you sound like you look handsome when you’re angry? (Heh heh heh)

GAFS: Look, Neil, that’s it. We no longer have any interest in Space Indians!, and we no longer have any interest in you. I can barely understand what you are talking about. Here’s some advice for free, Wurmel – take your head out of your ass or you’ll find yourself rolling downhill faster than I can say ‘fuck you’. Goodbye.

Me: Oh, hahaha. Really funny. Are you recording this? Is this for the Christmas tape?


Me: Come on, GAFS. I’m onto you! Stop winding me up, man. Hahaha. You got me. I admit it.


This went on for some time, until I realised he was serious. They were dropping the Space Indians! pilot. And what’s worse, as can be seen from the conversation above, they were dropping it FOR NO GOOD REASON.

Well, frig them. And frig you if you are laughing at me. And frig you, too, Harry Knowles, you fat fuck.
I have really had enough of this baloney. What the heck is the point of toiling away for hours at a time on projects DESIGNED TO ENTERTAIN people, to BRING a little happiness into their dreary, depressing lives, when these soulless, faceless money making robots just say ‘No, this isn’t going to play with the midwestern housewives.’
HOW WOULD THEY KNOW? Are they themselves fat, stupid midwestern housewives? No, they aren’t. These people will watch what they are told to watch. For God’s sake.

I am so mad and upset right now I feel like I could punch this computer, and I would if the skin on my knuckles wasn’t so sensitive. What’s the point of carrying on if your work is only going to be dismissed like so many soldiers at ease? I may as well just get a tiny little video camera and make some videos and watch them by myself in the dark at my house while eating some hard food.

Do you know what? I think that’s what I’m going to do.
Actually, no, I’m not. I’m gonna get a normal, boring job, working for some kind of office or something, and not do any more movie magic. I know nobody cares about me. I’m so sad and disillusioned I don’t even know if I care about myself any more.

This will probably be my last post.

Ok. Bye.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

A Life - In a Day! (Not really)

Hi Guys, thanks a lot for the fantastic response that I've got from a number of you. Sometimes, as an auteur, it's easy to feel disconnected from your public. Anyway, I've been asked if a documentary team can follow me around for a couple of weeks next spring, and I'm giving it a thought, so accordingly the producers asked if I could give them a run-down of a day in the life of this here Mr. Joe Average, cinema dept ;). I thought some of you guys might be interested in the rough-cut of my day to day life:

6:15AM: Wake up. Shower. Meditate in sun-room for 20 mins.
7:15 Large bowl of All Bran. Persimmon. Custard Apple (though these have been giving me gas, so lately I've been eating nashi pears instead). Double decaf Nespresso. Double Nespresso. Chocolate Éclair. Dry yoghurt. Grapefruit juice. I try and eat quickly, focussing only on what is going into my mouth next. But I'm a busy guy and don't want to waste time: eat fast and live hard has always been a motto (although I've been thinking of changing this to 'eat hard and live fast').
7:30 Pack lunch - I try to eat the driest food I can, but combine it with a drink, and mix it together in my mouth. I always feel a greater sense of involvement with the food if it's still getting itself together once I've ingested it. So, dried fruit, (more) dried yoghurt, Dasani water (endorsement deal), milo, milk (ingested separately). Get dressed.
8:00 Go outside and start car so engine warms up (this greatly reduces engine wear and tear)
08:45 Drive down the studio offices.
09:00 Meet Sherilynn (PA) and have another decaf Nespresso. She'll go through my appointments for the day. Usually start at 0930 but today it's an easy morning - first meet 0945, but it's an important meeting: Coke's product placement rep is wanting to chat about the possibility of getting some product into my Ancient Egypt project. At present they're wanting us to develop a Coke heiroglyphic. Terry, the art designer for the film is a bit of a wag, and said we should get drawing with it coming out of an ancient Egyptian Mummy's arse with 'you can't beat the feeling' written next to it - RLMFAO at that one!! I still said no, however.
11:00 Big Meeting: Todd Beamer's wife and agent - I've got the job of convincing her that the sitcom is going to be a fair and accurate portrayal, and that, though the flight attendants are definitely gonna be hot, there's not going to be any actual infidelity beyond, in the words of one producer "that fag giving him more rum and nuts than is really normal".
13:00 Lunch - and a passagiatta. Digest the morning and wet-dry combo lunch.
13:30 Meet my Agent and close friend Simone Buchanan. This will probably drag on as she's having some troubles at home and I'm trying to give her some emotional support (her family sounds like a real nightmare!)
14:15 Got off lightly, leave the meeting. Nespresso. Solid writing /development time.
16:00 Screen tests for Space Indians pilot - that's right guys - we've got a Space Indians Pilot.
17:30 Drive home
18:00 Quiet time. (No-one in the house may speak – we find this very relaxing. But sometimes awkward)
18:30 Dinner, usually meat.
19:30 As my way of "giving something back", I usually spend an hour thinking up charitable foundations that don't exist yet; "Survivors of Nepotism" is one that I think could "plug a hole" - as the little Dutch boy said when he put his finger in the dyke!!! (That is not as rude as it sounds, by the way)
20:30 Work on my memoirs for 15 minutes.
20:45 Drink small tin of sweetened condensed milk (for energy) and eat 3 25g bags of "Hula-Hoopz", mixing wet and dry ingredients in the kisser as usual in preparation for my evening exercises:
20:55 I have invented a new "dance-style", which is also great exercise. Someday I might actually get around to making and releasing my exercise video. Anyway, my dance style is a melange of martial arts, tai-chi, jazz ballet and break-dance. It really is very good, and never fails to "wow" people, whether conducted on the dance-floor, or in the privacy of my own study.
21:00 Exhausted, I sink into a Laz-Y Boy Recliner in my private screening room (I converted the laundry, so it is small but intimate). Often I will screen some of The Classics to recharge the old mental batteries. Tonight I screen the first hour of "Mac and Me", and by the time that Mac drinks the poisoned Coca Cola I am so moved that my weeping causes Paquita (still alive!) to rap on the sliding door and ask whether I am OK. Yes, I say, for what is the point of explaining further?
22:00 Answer fan-mail, correspondence, check the internets.
23:59 I lay my downy head on my downy pillow on my downy bed, and switch off the light. But my mind is still whirling with amazing visions!

Well, I sure hope you enjoyed my day as much as I did! OK, more later! Bye!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Walk the Walk

I think I mentioned that I "did" the Great Scottish Walk the other day. Well, some folks didn't quite believe that I could get around the course, but I'm delighted to direct those cynics here. Put that in yer pipes, you guys!

Okay, bye!

The fax of life (part II).

Rat-a-tat-tat. Ka-boom. Rat-a-tat-tat. Click click. Footsteps. Boom (barrel one). Boom (barrel two). Boom (barrel one again). Boom (barrel two again).Boom (barrel one). Boom (barrel two). Boom (barrel one again). Boom (barrel two again). Silence. Whispers. Silence again.

I roll off the bed, onto the floor. I switch off the night-light. Not yet fully awake. I'm near the window and even though it's humid, I'm sweating. I get out from under the bed and crawl my way into the wardrobe/dresser.

Nothing can prepare you for the smell of cordite, unless you've smelt it before. For a moment it was quiet, but still dark outside. For a moment you couldn't see the stars for the smoke - fires were burning all around. The rumbling meant the animals were stampeding. I must have drifted off. I don't know how long I'd been in the closet for. I was awoken by Aunt Heidi racing into the room. "Quick Nellbohr (this is my African name) - we've got to get out of here" she whispered so loudly she was almost talking. My pulse was racing at 110 in the shade (there was minimal shade - it was still night). Two of the house-servants ushered us out and into the Defender. What a sturdy and reliable vehicle that is. And we drove off into the night. Roadsides were lit up with flames all along the way. A rebel uprising was in full swing. We had to escape. Though it seemed traumatic to me, I can't imagine how it was for Heidi and Theo. Theo had stayed behind to try to tie up loose ends, fix up some financial issues and try to leave the farm in a state whereby somehow, someway, they might be able to return. Theo was also doing all he could for the staff. If they were seen to be 'collaborating' with a white hegemony. there's no telling what could happen to them. There were rumours they could have been made to participate in a ceremony called 'Baab-Schnagel-Wurst' a ritual wherein people have to play an intense game of tunnelball (using a medicine ball) at gunpoint until they physically expire after which they'd be forced to eat a foot long bushmeat hotdog. These people are monsters. Quite often these days I wake up crying, and know I am reliving the horror of those moments.

We were off at speed, and it's certainly lucky that Aunt Heidi had been a tractor-puller in her youth. She didn't stop at red lights and rarely did she 'give-way'. We drove through the night, eventually ending up over the border and into South Africa at dawn. A long and tiring journey. Sometimes power steering is a real blessing. The relief was palpable - a deep relieved sigh was breathed my from palp.

Theo wasn't so lucky. Thank God he didn't get roped into any kind of sport. But much of the farm was destroyed. Eventually he got away from the homestead. But that's just where his difficulties started. He had collated most of the important documents he needed from his study before he left - but there's only so much of 3 large filing cabinets that you can carry whilst fleeing. The upshot is that the estate was left in a kind of suspended financial animation. There were large amounts of money (literally millions) in bank accounts that he was unable to shift. Not just Theo's money, mind. Community money. It took him years to do so. Day after day he'd tirelessly fax potential investors, in a bid to find someone who would be able to effect a speedy financial transfer. Rejection after rejection came through, if people responded at all. Email after email would go unanswered. All that had to do was open an account for a transfer and they'd receive 10%. Of MILLIONS OF DOLLARS. That was ALL THEY HAD TO DO. It would have been so simple. Eventually, he shifted the money. But in many ways he was a broken man. He'd lost a lot of money, but more than that, he'd lost a lot of spirit and a lot of faith in human beings.

Sometimes, that we as people can be so heartless and so cynical gets to me*.

Often, in my mind's face I revisit these times. I think of the water buffalo. The zebra. The sway of the long-grass in the hot wind. The red, red sunset and the hyena's laugh that comes like the unwanted extra portion of a 2-for-1 deal. And I think of us, our own stampede away from danger. Our own run in the darkness. Our own journey. out of Africa.

Neal gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Range Rover in the writing of this entry.

*Overcoming this informs a lot of my work.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Busy Weekend

Sorry for the lack of posting action. Had a very busy weekend, and even managed to walk the Great Scottish Walk! I was pretty proud of myself - a full 12 miles. Who says this ole movie-maker is outta shape?!

Other good news: Mattel are distinctly interested in getting 'Wahabi-Barbie' into the shops. That, guys, has been helluva one hard slog. Barbie is of course a bit of a 'super-brand' and the idea of making her a hardcore Wahabist represents a pretty profound change of direction - and not to mention lifestyle - for the doll, especially in these uncertain times.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Great news!

One of my favourite film critics, Jeffrey Dugong, BA, has started his own site. He's a deep thinker and really appreciates that movies are the most important art form of our times.
Check it out!

Ok, bye!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Two new projects

Apologies for the lack of continuation in the 'Fax of Life' narrative - it's just that I've been working on two exciting new projects in the worlds of film and television. I will get back to it, I promise!
With Wimbledon fast approaching, my mind got to thinking about the movie of the same name which was out last year. While I thought that was a great movie, really touching, I did think it neglected to cover one of the major aspects of the international tennis circuit - namely, hardcore lesbianism. So, to put that right, I'm producing a film that covers that very angle, and is going to be called 'Advantage Ms Navratilova'!
The other project is a sketchuation comedy for television, called 'What Would Jesus Do?' In it, Jesus is put in all sorts of awkward situations as we wait to find out what he would do! Hilarious!
If you have any ideas for situations you would like to see Jesus try to get out of, leave a comment!

Ok, more later!

Monday, June 13, 2005

The Fax of Life (Pt. I)

There was a time when I was a younger man when I thought I should go forth and see some of the world. I was at a loose end after finishing my Aquaculture and Culture degree, and thought that an expanded worldview couldn’t hurt any future involvement in world cinema. But the world, as they say, is a big place. And whilst Europe holds a certain continental allure, I’d always had a sense of wonder about the dark continent: Africa*. As a kid I’d always pretend to be a strong Ibex bounding away as a weaker colleague got mauled by a leopard. Our lounge room was the savannah and the sink in the adjoining kitchen the majestic Victoria Falls. I’d scour jumble sales for ivory that Old Dears would pretend was porcelain: I was going to have some sort of elephant in our house, even if it was a dead one! So when I got to the travel agents (Darryl Travel, West End – Hi Darryl if you’re reading this), there really was only one place I would be flying into.

I got the 08:15 to Jo’burg (Johannesburg). Conveniently, my Aunt Heidi and Uncle Theo had been working between Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique. They arranged to pick me up at the airport in their late model Land Rover Defender. A beautiful vehicle capable of genuine all-terrain driving, not the pointless, voguish Escalade favoured by the hip hop fraternity. Frankly, that’s a “wack, bitch-ass ride” if ever there was one. Nothing could dent my mood (or car). I had touched down on the continent that gave birth to all humanity, and we were off to the family estate: Het-Rozeland van de Flamingo, which translates roughly to land of the red sunset wetlands with flamingos. It’s a bit clunky as a name, but people don’t realise that a lot of the really cool estate names are already taken. Anyway, the place grew in my affections whilst I was there, and even if there weren’t any flamingos, I couldn’t have been happier for the first few weeks of my stay.

Each day would be spent travelling parts of the estate, driving about, searching for exotic animals, high-plains driftin, playing cricket and soccer-football with the locals. We’d eat food grown on the estate, and fish from the rivers. The sun was warm, but the afternoon breeze a respite and the birdsong hypnotic as we waded in the croc-free waters til our feet got wrinkly and life-preservers chafed.

Sadly, such a paradissic lifestyle couldn’t go on forever. Theo (who it turns out isn’t really my Mum’s brother – his wife is Mum’s sister), soon found himself in a terrifying situation. For a long time he’d worked within foreign affairs in South Africa, and other parts of Africa, including Nigeria. And for all of this country’s natural beauty, it, like many countries in Africa, has suffered from irresponsible governance and the odd horrific regime. And when corporations decide to exploit both the governments, the people and the environment, life can get pretty hairy (not literally.) Anyway, Uncle Theo had been a consultant on a series of large deals that involved diamond mining companies paying local communities for access to their towns and surrounds. Some of the companies would do the right thing – help build infrastructure, creating roads, hospitals and drive-ins and the like. Others would ‘slash and burn’ like they had gonorrhoea.

But it was up to Uncle to broker such deals, acting as conduit between these parties, and by doing this work, he’d be able to fund his estate, and provide sanctuary to both animals and locals alike.

But on the night of the 14th of June, 1998 all of this changed. Everything changed.

OK – part two later!

*not the ‘Dark Continent’ as Freud called it – though I do like to visit that place every now and then – LOL!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

It's good to know I still command Respect (on the Block).

I've been blessed in my life, but that doesn't mean I've forgotten what it's like to be On the Block. I'll never forget my Block, and that's one of the things that lends my work its distinctive "Edge". I was recently addressing a group of less fortunate kids who were loitering on the street corner, and one of them respectfully referred to me as one of their heroes! For these kids, growing up on the mean streets this was pretty much the ultimate compliment, as I imagine most of them huddle around their trash-fires at night wishing there really was a certain Caped Crusader in the way normal kids wish Santa Claus would bring them an Aibo. Anyways - wow! - these kids thought of themselves as my "wards" in much the same way as Dick Grayson was Bruce Wayne's (Burt) ward because as I left one of them said, in his distinctive patois,

"Bye-bye, Batty-Man."

It's got me thinking about becoming involved in mentoring in a more serious way! OK, bye!