April 20, 2008

The Doors documentary is slowly slipping into shape. Every day though is intense. I'm trying to keep track of a hundred hours of footage in my brain, sifting through it over and over to glean the richest pieces. And the brain doesn't shut off when I turn out the light.

Thankfully, things have been quieter over here on the weedy side of The Loftes. I've found that working out for an hour when I get home helps me sleep. Yes, The Loftes has a Fitnesse Centre too. Usually the place is empty when I get in there around 6:30. That's why I was surprised to see a guy in a white track suit smashing some weights around last night when I walked in.

I was still on edge from another notice I'd received from the Management that morning:

Dear Tenants, all are invited to a special evening with Capt. Rodeo from the 24th Precinct on Sunday near the Cafe Nooke. In light of the recent "incident" Capt. Rodeo will explain proper use of your personal firearms on an individual basis. Muffins and lattes will be served.

That's why I kept an eye on my gymmate. He was about 45, short and thick with a knotty bald head and a sharply protruding chin. He looked like he might have come from a 1-night stand between Popeye's father and Bluto's mother. He did a set of bicep curls with two 50lb dumbells, threw them to the floor and suddenly walked up to me, gasping for breath.

"Hey, dude. I'm Tregor."

When his hand came up I flinched and almost counter-punched. But it was a handshake he was offering. Nonetheless, when I took it I kept looking in his squinty little eyes to see if he knew I was the Tom who'd yelled out the window for him to shut up only one Tuesday ago.

After 5 minutes I still saw no sign of recognition. By then Tregor had decided I was his new best friend. I told him I'd been studying boxing for 3 years. He said he could tell. We talked about a couple of fights we'd seen recently and then he said,

"I used to fight; bareknuckle in Reno. See my hand? No knuckles. All wore off. I fought 2 minute rounds until one of us coont get up. An' I'll tell you, Tommy, many times that person was me."

As close as we'd become I still didn't feel totally at ease with Tregor. I kept wondering if Donny had actually told him my name. And I suppose him telling me he'd spent two thirds of his life in "carceration" might not have helped. He said he'd been one crazy motherfucker. He'd shot people, been shot, stabbed, run heroin, sold coke, sold women, lived high, lived low--all his experiences serving only to prove to him that the world was one giant shithole.

"Well, Treg," I said. "I guess I've felt that way too sometimes but you know, life's not all bad."

He squinted at me for a long moment. "Yeah, maybe you're right, T. See, I've turned my whole life around now. I've got a samurai sword in my apartment. Sharp as shit but I've never even used it."

"Good for you," I said.

"Yep, I got a lot of things goin' on now. I run my own security company. Called 'Hey You.' Every heard of it?"

"No, I'm not really from here."

Tregor stepped up close again. "See, my current fiancee is in the adult entertainment business. And a lot of those adult stars--chicks now I'm talkin' about--they get hassled. A lot sick fucks out there, Tommy. These dirtbags start followin' these girls. Stalkin' 'em. An' me, I'm stalkin' them. See, a stalker never looks behind him. He's always lookin' ahead, focusin' on the girl he's stalkin'. So I just ease up on him, tap him on the shoulder and say, 'Hey You--that's the name of my company--and BAP I give 'im the tazer."

"You're allowed to shock people?"

"You bet yer ass. 450 volts, motherfucker. Then he's down and I'll give him one or two bootkicks in the head. Always aim for the ear--that hurts like shit. You should hear 'em scream. Then I'll drag 'em up, look 'em in the eye and BAM BAM give 'em a left then a straight right to the teeth  just so they remember me."

"Wow. Sounds like a pretty intense business, Tregor."

I was about to start some shadow boxing when he stopped me. He stepped up and peered at me closely. "What apartment are you in, T?"

"399," I lied.

"Lookin' over the pool?"

"No, I'm way in the back." This was true.

He stepped closer. "You ain't never been in a fight, have you?"

"How can you tell?"

"Your nose ain't broke. See mine? Broke at least 35 times. I set it myself at least twice. First time I broke it I was between some girl's legs. Doin' some conny linguous."

I stared at him. "And you broke your nose?"

"Yeah. I was into it. You ever done conny linguous?" Tregor asked with genuine curiosity.

I admitted I had.

"Good for you, Tommy. Girls dig that. Bein' around the adult entertainment business you learn a few things. Check it out. Straight chicks would rather do a muff--divin' scene with another chick than have to get it on with a dude. You know why?"

"No, I don't," I confessed.

"Because they don't have to deal with a guy's bullshit. With another chick it's just lickety-split and then, 'See you tomorrow, Candy'. With a dude it always gets weird and personal. He's always askin', 'How was it for you, babe? Do you dig me? Was I the best you ever had?'"

Tregor walked away from me then turned back with a weary sigh of disgust. "You see, T? Men are scumbags. All of 'em. And you know what? Women are too."

I couldn't stop myself. I said, "Well, Treg, that kind of leaves out any hope for humanity, doesn't it?"

This time he stared at me for a full 10 seconds. Finally he said, "You know what, Tommy? I like you. You got a positive attitude. That's somethin' I been workin' on. I'm havin' a party on my balcony Thursday night. I want you there."

"Oh, thanks, Tregor," I said. "But, I'm getting up pretty early these days."

"Fuck that," Tregor snorted. "Come by for 10 minutes. There'll be some ladies there from the adult entertainment business. You won't be disappointed. Plus, I wanna show you this genuine samurai sword I got."

Before I could reply he shook my hand and walked out.

Hey Anthony,
Thanks very much for taking the time to resend your comment. I really appreciate the detail you put into it.
I did work very hard on the screenplay for Oblvion to weave apparently unrelated elements together. Some were hammered in, some came completely by accident. As soon as I discovered I would have a dwarf in the last scene I realized I needed to give him a name. I thought of Tito originally because of the Yugoslavian dictator (I felt the character should have some of that pomposity) then I realized with a little effort I could set up a series of mispronunciations that would not be totally unexpected (Toto–Wizard of Oz) but would massively piss Tito off.
The film itself was one of the most exciting times I’ve ever had on the set; second only to Delirious. There was a sense with Oblivion that we were just a bunch of lost, mad children putting on our own play in someone’s garage.
I strive for that now on every set.
I sincerely appreciate your comments and support. Never underestimate how rewarding it is for a filmmaker to receive real, tangible proof that their work has affected another human being.
Hello! I don’t save my posts either, here’s a repost… I saw Living in Oblivion again as a result of getting Johnny Suede, enjoying the movie and commentary track, finding your blog (thanks for the writing advice, totally helping me out) watching Delirious, and then watching Living in Oblivion after last seeing it over a decade ago at the Enzian Theater.
Comedy is hard, has a short shelf life, yet despite the span of 12 years Living has running laughs throughout. There’s so many great lines, and it works so well as a movie. The Tito jokes are brilliant, as is the entire cast. I remembered the burger daydream going into it, and came out of it amazed at the many details, reactions, and payoffs. Recent comedies rely on personalities and improvising to get the laughs. I guess it’s telling that Living has only 1 deleted scene, whereas other comedies have plenty of cut gags that run on too long. Reminds me that the magic happens in the writing, not just the set.
I really appreciate the Q&A on the DVD. Thanks for putting the time and effort in doing the commentaries and extras for your DVDs, plus this blog. I’m getting a lot from them.
Best, Anthony Torres
You are going on Thursday, right? Can’t wait to hear about it!
Hey Erik,
Thanks for writing. I’ll tell Tregor he’s got to come find you and go a couple 2 minute rounds with you.
I sincerely appreciate your support of my films. You know they comprise the efforts of many, many people. I feel blessed every time I get the chance to make one.
Hey Tom! Thanks for keeping this blog. You are one of the few filmmakers whose films I always check out no matter what.
Your Tregor story is basically the story of my entire youth.
Keep up the good work and get paid this time.
Thanks Elaine,
It does make one feel proud to have prompted a spit take.
Nothing like conversating with real people as Tregor would say.
My best to you.
Ok, we’re back to a clear monitor and moving on to writing! And your positive attitude and sense of humor amidst so much are things which set you apart.
Hope the Doors project keeps going well.
I want to sincerely thank you for the biggest laugh I’ve had today!
Please note my writing time will be postponed for 5 minutes while I wipe down my monitor from spewed Diet Coke. Your blogs should come with a label: “May cause instantaneous laughter. Don’t have a mouthful of soda while reading.”
Thanks muchly!

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Independent Filmmaker & Musician