In Other News

I've done some tweaking on this page here tonight.

There are apparently some folks out there who have been deprived of my brilliance by some coding snafu (probably propogated by yours truly) that rendered my main column -- that screed over there to the right -- a tiny two word wide unreadable mess. I've adjusted the tables to specify a 750 pixel width, which means those of you viewing at 640x480 are going to have to scroll from now on, but hopefully ("it is hoped," for you English majors out there) this will fix that weird glitch.

While I was at it, I figured I might as well increase the font size so you can read it without getting nose-grease on your screen. What the hell, your optometrist wasn't paying his kickbacks on time anyway.

Keeping in mind that I've done the fixes on this, I fully expect that something new will go wrong now. Let me know if it does, will ya?


Sunday - May 16, 1999
Paint and Print

There's home improvement going on around here again. Bathroom remodeling this time around.

Hold on now, wait a second before you run screaming to grab up your kids and put them somewhere safe, let me finish. You're probably expecting the usual tale rife with woe, replete with bloodshed and cursing and projects gone sadly awry. You're wrong; everything's going fine. Work is progressing at a good pace, there has been no cursing or bloodshed, everything is proceeding according to plan. You'd almost swear you're watching Dean and Jo-Jo on TLC.

But then, Beth is doing the work, not me.

She decided late Friday night that she wanted to put a fish theme on Zoe's bathroom: just a little fishy wallpaper border up at the top is what she had in mind. But then the project grew, as these things are wont to do. She decided she might as well paint to match if she was putting up the border, and she had to strip the old wallpaper to do that, and if she was going to go to all that trouble to slap blue paint on the wall she might as well spice up that plain blue paint with fishy effects in the paint itself, and... Let's just say it mushroomed.

So bright and early Saturday morning Beth was off to the rental yard where she picked up a steamer to take the old wallpaper off, then she hit the hardware store for a painting kit that features a roller with fish cut-outs and a how-to video, and then she spent the weekend in the bathroom scraping and priming and generally doing a damned good Bob Vila impression.

She did bring me into it twice, against her better judgement, to take down the light fixture and remove the toilet tank so she could get the wallpaper behind it, but those tasks were accomplished with no high voltage accidents, no porcelain breakage, no bloodshed, and not very much cursing. Aside from those two things, though, it's been All Beth All The Time.

She's about halfway done now; all that's left is to paint and put up the border. I don't see how she's managed it without the required injuries and anger, but somehow she has. In a word, she rocks! My masculinity would probably be threatened by this if I weren't feeling so lucky that she hadn't asked me to do it in the first place. Hell, I might even have her connect the water line to the fridge, a project I still haven't finished myself.

While Beth's been oozing testosterone, I've been engaged in more leisurely pursuits: I've been reading scripts for the contest I'm judging. I said the other day that I had 17 scripts to read, but I was wrong. I had 23. I've since whittled that down to about 15, and in the process I've discovered that I really don't like reading for contests.

It's not that they're so bad, because for the most part they're not. The level of competition I'm seeing here is surprisingly high, much higher than I'd expected. What I don't like is that I have to give notes on each script, and I'm finding I'm really uncomfortable doing that.

Each script represents hours, days, weeks, perhaps even months of work. More importantly, each script represents someone's hopes and dreams. Everyone who entered this contest is hoping their script comes out on top, and that coming out on top will open doors to them and change their lives. Some of them, knowing the odds are stacked pretty high against that, are hoping to make the second-to-last cut so they can parlay that measure of merit into an agent or executive read, which might open doors and change their lives. Nobody wants to go in the first round.

I know exactly how they feel because I'm one of them: my Everybody Loves Raymond is entered in this contest. (No, it's not on my reading list. Damn.) My Frasier got dinked in the first round last year (unfairly, I think, but everyone thinks that) and it was a serious blow to my ego. Only losers and hack wanna-bes get cut in the first round. You suck if you're out in the first round. Everyone wants to survive the first round, which means they have to get past me and my fellow first round readers.

So that's weighing on me as I read these scripts and make my assessments and write my notes -- notes that will go back to the writer. Of the handful of scripts I've read, only one (a Sex and the City) has been really good, good enough for me to give across-the-board high scores that will probably help advance it to the next round. The rest have been pretty run of the mill: nothing glaringly bad about them, but also nothing sparklingly good. And I have to say that in my notes. I have to say why.

I have no problem doing this with a friend's script, when I'm helping make it better, but it's a whole 'nother ball game when it's a stranger's script and me not liking it probably means dink!!! Those notes I'm writing are going to be read over and over with a heavy heart, dissected and dissected again to find some deeper meaning, some clue that I'm just a moron and it was all a big mistake. I'm the guy with the Stop sign, the bouncer who won't let you in, the person saying "you're not good enough."

I'm the guy stomping dreams into the dirt. I don't like being that guy.


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Copyright © 1999
Chuck Atkins