Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Shopping, Christmas Trees and Christmas Plays

Thanksgiving Dinner at the Lipps household in Manhattan Beach

Oh, what a difference a month makes. Or three weeks. Or two weeks, four days. Whatever.

The point is, lots of cool things goin' down, G.

My German producer was in LA for a while and we attacked the screenplay relentlessly for a few weeks. He's back in Germany now. At the end of our whirlwind mauling of the script we decided to invite a few crackerjack actors (RD Call, Larry Cedar, Tara Lynn Orr, Micky Shiloah, Paul Elia, Joe Hulser, Trevor Peterson) over to my place and sit around the living room and just read the derned thing out loud. The afternoon went off without a hitch and accomplished precisely what we'd hoped: at the end we knew pretty much what worked, what sounded good, what snapped and popped and what sucked. And more than I'd like to admit did, in fact, suck. But that's a good thing. Best to see this stuff now.

The important thing is that by the end of the reading we both knew we had something very workable, something that, with the right handling and in the hands of a sassy director, could possibly morph into something extraordinary.

In other news, Christmas approaches and my wife and I have been on a holy shopping quest. I'm a terrible shopper. Normally not an indecisive man, I suddenly become Bob Newhart when confronted with a shopping decision. Yesterday Angie and I wandered over to the Sherman Oaks Mall (one of the nicer ones around) and I found myself walking back and forth to two different stores trying to decide between two gifts for her. Several times I visited each store. I'm sure they thought I was casing the joints. But I finally made a choice and bought my wife's Christmas present. At one point I was overwhelmed with a slight panic attack and nearly bought her something really generic just to get it over with (I seriously considered a huge painting of a horse, something we already have, and some cool Pottery Barn coffee cups - a gift that really says 'I Love You' - at one point). But in the end I found something she'll probably like and the flop sweats ceased.

My in-laws, Dr. and Mrs. Lewis, were in town for a couple of days and we took them out to a new restaurant (well, new to us) called OFF VINE and then to the perrennially delightful 'Bob's Holiday Office Party.' The restaurant, while certainly cozy and romantic, turned out to have average food at best and a waiter who gathered our orders and then apparently took a sabbatical in Eastern Europe. We didn't see him for about a month. And when he did come back he announced he was leaving and hinted it might be best to tip him now rather than later. Nonetheless, it is an awfully nice place, but the food, once it finally arrived, left a great deal to be desired. It's always a bad sign when the plates are too hot to touch without rubber gloves because they've been sitting under warming lights for so long.

And then we took them over to the Hudson Theatre to see the play. We were a tad concerned about this. Bob's Holiday Office Party is an equal opportunity offending play. I wrote a long blog about it when we took it in last year. No one escapes unscathed in this piece. Angie and I love it. Just when you think they can't possibly be more offensive, they are. So we worried a bit that Rex and Rosemary (Angie's mom and stepdad), proud Republicans that they are, might be a bit shocked. We needn't have. They loved it and guffawed (literally) all the way through it. In fact, the next day, Rex told me, "I'm so glad you didn't drag us to that 'Streetcar Named Desire' play. I've seen that damn thing a dozen times.'

It took us a little while to get into the swing of the Christmas season this year but we finally got the tree up and decorated. We did it in shifts this year so as not to get burnt out too soon, I suppose. First the tree stand sat there for a few days and then the tree itself, unadorned, stood in the corner incongruously and then finally we put the lights and ornaments on it.

The in-laws (Rex and Rosemary) have rented a big condo in San Diego this year and the whole Lewis/Peabody/Morts clan is meeting there for a traditional Christmas. Which I personally love having grown up in a family that considered Christmas an opportunity to buy each other Jim Beam and cartons of Lucky Strikes. The holidays always culminated in a joyously festive fist fight.

Angie and I are taking a 'suite' nearby so we can travel with the dogs and we're looking forward to seeing the whole gaggle of relatives in one spot for a change.

In any event, the Christmas spirit is finally upon us. The writing is going well, the film I've been shaping for about eight months is now a tangible entity, a thing that's actually going to happen, and the foreseeable future is rife with possibilities. Life is good.

See you tomorrow.