Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Radio in the Woods by Mark Anthony Given

            I READ THAT when I twelve years old my first year in the Boy Scouts.  I practiced Marine Knots and Morris Code and read Survival Manuals so that I could find my own Walden Pond and contemplate the secrets of the universe.   I threw my cell phone out one window and my watch out the other when I crossed the Montana State Line hitchhiking from down South, I was going to do it after all, strip down to the bare essentials of life, live in the woods and just listen.  See what happens.  With no house payment, no car note or insurance, not even energy bills, phone and cable TV, I could live on my One hundred and twenty dollars every two weeks Workman's Compensation, sleep on the ground and study The Torah and then the Talmud.
           IN HINDSIGHT "Grizzly Gulch, Montana doesn't sound like a good place to get commune with Nature and live in peace and harmony.  I asked Ellen Baumler the historian at the Montana Historical Society in an email why it was named that, she said because it was full of Grizzly Bears but I never saw none.   I saw plenty running around in my mind the first month or so.  I was scared to death, didn't have a weapon unless you want to count my Leatherman and Family Size Dollar General Heavy Duty women's hairspray and a Bic Lighter, which is precisely what I planned to use.  I kept that sum bitch shook up and set on rock and roll right where my hand laid at night too.  I can't tell you how scared I was for at least the first six weeks and when nothing happened.  In fact, the scariest thing happened, and it happened a lot, is, the silence was deafening and every once in a while you would hear a loud crack and something falling.  The lousy weather has tree's laying all crazy and end up somewhere where they can't be supported for long, and at some point just snaps, cracks and bang onto the ground.  After living out there a long time I realized that 99% of what you hear is just nature doing its thing, the scariest thing you are going encounter is your own fears....
               JUST LIKE THOREAU'S "On Walden Pond," 'cabin he lived in for two years, two months and two days, was not actually in the wilderness, Grizzly Gulch is just on the outside of the South side of Helena, Montana and begins the border of the Helena National Forrest.  I knew I had to stay near a major hospital in case I get injured.  I thought it would be a Rattlesnake bite because right by me were a bunch of rocks in an old limestone quarry was hundreds of snake.  From June to August you could throw a rock onto the pile of rocks, and you would hear dozens of them rattling.  The worst part about where I was the dozens of test holes in the ground.  Probably three feet across and deep enough you couldn't shovel no more.  There was so much Gold found in this part of Montana, it was virtually laying on the ground.   Locals still dig holes looking for it.  The most significant Gold find was discovered just a foot under water along a stream gleaming in the Sun by an Indian, in Gold Creek, Montana. 
             I SLEPT IN THE WOODS laying on the ground was a closeness to nature as I was going to get.  With my ear to the earth, I could hear anyone within fifty feet of me, even if they were trying to be quiet.  That's why I wasn't really afraid, anyone coming near me had to ford a landmine of holes in the ground just big enough you can walk into and break your neck in if you're not careful.  Even if you can't see at night to good you have to do what the animals do;  listen.  Walk a few feet and stop and listen.....

           I ATE AT a homeless shelter in town called, God's Love, Inc., they were in the business of caring for the least of us when they needed it most with, day-old bread, volunteers and people working off fines.   I knew if I didn't bring any food to my camp I'd have a better chance of not seeing any bears....
           I TRIED TO READ the Bible at least ten times and never got past chapter ten.  I later found out it tells two stories two different ways (Creation and Cain & Able); it's designed that way to weed out the wannabe scholars by pure confusion, that renders the reader wondering if the textural error was either everything or nothing at all and should they continue.  I was determined to read it.  To me, if someone else has done it, I can probably do it too.   Just like when I studied law, I had too read each page four or five times and write it down and look up every word I didn't know, I can still do it.  It's just going to take me a little longer......but I will do it... and I did.
          AFTER I GOT set up in the woods,
where I was just ten minutes down hill to God's Love, less than twenty minutes to a great hospital at St. Peter's in Helena, Montana, stripped down to the basic essentials of life, and not having to work, several hours of day studying The Torah, it was the end of April 2015.  After I got done with The Torah, the first five books of Moses and took six months, I knew I had a chance of reading all of it, and that I had to read The Torah again.  It's just too important to read just once, you're supposed to continue reading it every day, even if just a little bit...
           MY ONLY ENTERTAINMENT was an AM/FM CD player, and I listened to that thing twenty-four seven and had the local Montana Public Radio and the National Public Radio station schedule memorized.  Forced myself to listen to almost entirely Classical Music, #MORNINGCLASSICS which I still do to this day.  Two o'clock is #PERFORMANCETODAY,  usually recorded live symphonies' music.  Then began borrowing Audio Books on CD from the Lewis and Clark Public Library, and they have hundreds.    I was utterly content to be honest with you, but I knew I couldn't spend a Montana winter in a plastic tent.  I actually did do it later,


See also:  http://thegrizzlychronicles.blogspot.com

To be continued.
Originally written for Montana Public radio's writing Contest that mentions "Montana Public Radio."

Friday, February 13, 2015

Your Name Here by Mark Anthony Given

History will be kind to me for I intend to write it. -Winston Churchill


            I HAD THE two best movies, the best male actor, best media hype with the comeback story and first time unheard of author and bombshell break-out star who was really fifteen playing a thirteen-year-old. And nobody knew who I was.  If it wasn't for the big ass Oscar's in each hand and eyes lit up like I had a light bulb in my ass I was glowing!  I couldn't believe I actually did it. Stealing Oscar started out as a story that became a movie that became a story how the Oscar got stolen.  Twice.
            THE BLINDING LIGHT S's, the paparazzi flash I couldn't see ten feet in front of me except out of the corner of my eyes and the only thing I recognized in the fifty faces in front of was the guy who picked me up at LAX, who said he was my Agent. I wanted to start swinging and make a run for it except strangers blocking my every move somebody was going to get hurt. I had a joint burning in the back of a limo facing the Beverly Hills Hotel, I will tell you on the way...           
            THE SCREENWRITERS BALL at the Oscar's After Party in the shrine in the basement at the Ambassador Hotel is the high temple of Entertainment, in downtown Los Angeles.  Everyone in the movie and entertainment business, i.e., singers, get together to slap each other on the ass and high five and badmouth your enemies and, see what your competitors are up too.  The religious ceremony is complete with the spirits of the human wreckage left a stain on the American conscious.  F. Scott Fitzgerald and Tennessee Williams on the wall next to Hemingway and Ayn Rand and Goldsmith and Talese...     and it was right next to the hotel kitchen where Bobby Kennedy got his brains blown out by a lunatic.
              WINNING BEST Original Screenplay for Paradise Montana set off small regiments of highly dedicated paparazzi flash bombs.  It was all so disorienting.  Especially when what is the hottest ticket going for a few weeks in winter was written ten years earlier when I first moved to Montana and met a woman working in housekeeping at a four-star hot spring and resort, out in the middle of nowhere.  The first time I took her bar hopping, she got knee-walking drunk and told me she came to Montana with her twelve-year-old daughter to kill herself and her daughter on her fortieth birthday, just around the corner.  I looked at my watch because I was stone sober and a little bell went off in my head, 

"That would make a 'helluva screenplay!"  

She looked up at me from her bar stool with the saddest eyes which and an image of all the faraway mountains you see everywhere you look in Montana.  A haunting quality that did seem like a good place to die.  A few years after we separated I found an old sixty-nine cent notepad she used as a 'Day Planner, of sorts and grocery list. I found a folded copy of flyers like you see at public laundry's and public libraries, with the phone number and email address to contact her, where you can just tear one off.  In just a small paragraphs she wanted everyone to communicate with her because she had received a direct message from God and it was imperative that we all contact her at once....
           YEARS LATER she contacted via email and I mentioned it to her, then asked directly what the message was.  I told her she owed me for being such a good guy and she knew I was trying to get to heaven and gave her my Key's to the Kingdom Speech and demanded to know.  She backpedaled a little bit then admitted she was waiting until she had enough follower's and that she was standing by for further instructions.....
             HER BASKET CASE PROBLEMS should be the least of my worries, but she's the one caused all this because after describing her and her hot to trot twelve-year-old daughter's full-court press depicted in Paradise Montana,  besides nearly ruined a good man, she caused traffic jams in broad daylight where ever it was screened. 
              THE PRODUCTION COST was the Catering Budget on a current full feature film.  A couple lost souls in Montana at a Hot Springs and Resort in the winter time.  Couple campgrounds, plenty of exteriors, an apartment in a section eight complex on the outskirts of a small town, three or four bars downtown and that's it.  Nothing exploded.  Nobody got shot.  No car chases.  One old Subaru camping in Yellowstone Park in an early scene.  Hotel and catering provided by hotel On Location....  The only thing that Blew Up was the Box Office.
                IT WASN'T HER fault though.  I blame it all on that two-bit washed up hack actor, and now new wife actress chose for the leads in Paradise Montana.  Everything about them seemed wrong for the part because I wanted a five-star movie star in at least one of the roles, not some used up has been, hadn't a hit since the seventies and finally Bam!  My 'Two-Bit Masterpiece and Opus and Best Original Screenplay Award and Best Male Actor.  Fuck me running!  A performance of a lifetime after stewing for thirty years about his miserable career coincides with realities madness, lust, and suicide.  The whole time in filming you could see he really wanted to fuck that young girl too, just like I did, knowing he, like I did, never would get the one thing he wanted most and never did.   AFTER HE KILLED it on film and fucked her in real life and after being plucked from obscurity, married the Third Principle in the movie the hotness herself "Brittni."    
     I HAVE SOUGHT long and hard to perpetuate my "Fame,"  so I wrote lame ass stories about my life of crime and posted them for free on Internet blogs. Carpet bombed excerpts in the Comment section of every newspaper or magazine Crime & Courts section or usually in the "Crime of the Day" sensation story and where people are spouting off about one side or another. I always thought some big shot television producer looking for the next big thing, or something like it, would see that my little criminal viniets would translate well into eighteen to twenty-minute reality television's best fuck of the month club.  I just didn't know how valuable they were...
               I ONLY HAD five copies in twenty, thirty, forty; twenty Twenty-seven and fifty pages and they all were stamped by a major motion picture and "PRODUCTION COPY.  Three were roughed up and two almost new with beverage stains.  With my newly minted "PRODUCERS PASS," hanging around my neck in Jewish Green banging around together with a familiar "STUDIO PASS," with a band of Blue at the top indicating Highest Clearance at a glance, at exactly nine-thirty before the last Oscar is officially awarded, I strolled up to the back door, and they began to swing open for me everywhere I went.  Except there wasn't anyone there. After Party means closer to daylight in Hollywood. So sitting down in the almost empty banquet hall watching mainly employees doing final preparation's and people still working on lighting and entertainment set up.  I left the first copy on the fifth row dead center in front of the stage, on the second row.  A small side room of banquet tables with refreshments was set out, just a plate or two out of perfect order I turned the largest copy over and laid flat down on the tables and half covered with a large stack of napkins.  Made sure it had a punch stain on the back and left it.  Along the outer walls were mid-level production companies and small film studios tables all marked off.  Walking around I set down on one of the big booths along the far wall and acted as if I had shoe problems until I looked up and saw nobody was watching, I stick a copy folded up between the seats all but just an inch or two showing like it got stuck down there when someone got up not realizing they pushed the papers between the seats.  It's kinda dark.  
                 FURTHER, TOWARDS the front I do the same trick and then just sit back like I was just taking a rest and watch the stage.  Before I get up, I slide a small copy between the table top and the table top spread where you will only notice it if you're sitting there.  I got up and moseyed out throwing my clear punch cup in the can by the back door, I walked out to get in the rental car and stuck a copy in the bush where an opening has created a pathway over small barriers between the front of the cars, I knew busy people would want to park if they had been here before.  Instead of walking through the whole hotel, the back door was the front door for those in the know.
            JUST LIKE ME, Jasmine Jones wanted to be famous.  Let's face it; everybody does;  some people want it more than they need it.  Fifteen years on movie production studios she wasn't satisfied organizing, cajoling, producing and know what worked and what didn't.  She had what every successful big-time movie maker has to have;  a massive Rolodex of getting things done.  But she didn't have a creative bone in her body.  As a Third Assistant Line Producer, she could get a table at the back of the Academy Awards and Oscar Screenwriters Ball, which was the Siberia of the Entertainment Industry.  She recognized the bone white paper from seeing them on sets, and the Production Copy told her it was in production, i.e., being made.  She first saw it lodged in some stems and branches of small foliage separating the cars in the parking lot.  She dislodged it, folded it in half and stuck it in her purse.  Sitting in the back of the banquet hall on the comfy bench seating after she settled down the pulled on the fifty-page copy, she began reading "Paradise Montana and Original Screenplay by Mark Anthony Given, by small reading light on her iPhone.
    When the head of Calibre Motion Pictures seen the beige or bone white Production Copy of the Original Screenplay for Paradise Montana by Mark Anthony Given, it was interesting, but not as impressive as the biggest Movie Company in the world, the Major Motion Picture Company was making it.  He at first left it laying on the banquet table with used paper plates and spilled beverages and used napkins.  He sat down at a party table but didn't take his eyes off the door to that little side room to the banquet while his mind trying to make sense of what this could mean.  Just knowing a particular movie was in production could send a stock owner into overdrive.  He couldn't stand it after about five minutes and went back in there walked straight to it, with his back to the world he bent over the table reaching for a napkin and folded the twenty odd pages up and slid it into his inside bread pocket, spun around anticipating everyone watching him, but there was no one there....
               CHIEF OPERATING Officer of Calico Movie Production Studio's seen his Brass Ring in the banquet hall just sitting unwrinkled on a chair, that dozens of people walked past and only he understood the "Production Copy," Screenplay stamp on it, meaning the most significant movie studio in town making a movie nobody has heard of, by someone know body knows.  He too submitted to curiosity and watched it for nearly twenty minutes and went over to where it was, and sit next to it, pretended to make a cell phone call,  and after looking around, picked it up, folded it in half and stuck it in his breast pocket.  

Tout passe. 
-l'art robuste
Seol a l'eternite...

            IT WAS TOWARDS the end of the month, and I was broke on my ass when I got an email from Calixo Universal Pictures that broke the camels back carrying millions of dollars.  Eventually, they overnight me a print out of every story I ever wrote, monetized them to their standards and proffered a final offer for my entire catalog and everything I write for the next seven years.  Five years if I generate a set limit of revenue

               CALICO STUDIO'S is prepared to pay One Million Dollars the US for the Rights to Paradise Montana.  Please provide banking information and routing number at your convenience.

 "Mr. Given?"
 "Ted Zimmerman, Creative Control Agency," 
did you get my email?
 "I'm looking at it now...."
              I can have the money there in fifteen minutes, but you will have to come to California to sign the Contracts.  Especially and future work.  We are going to call it a signing bonus but really want you to know we consider it first dibs on anything else, movies, stories, more screenplays....?
              How soon would I have to be in California.?"
              Due haste, Mr. Given.  We will make all the arrangements, get you to the hotel and back to LAX.  
Spend a few days, back home on Monday...
                Let me get my banking information to you, you confirm when you're ready to send the money, and I'll let you know then. Call me right back.

               VERY NEXT EMAIL Calebra Movie Production makes the same offer..... The phone starts ringing.... Now it's Calebra calling....

Life is a festival only to the wise. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

               FROM SECTION eight to 90264  overnight I was waiting in the bank in a little town in Montana when the smile on my banker's face I was sweating from the waiting area of the bank,  I could see him through the clear plate glass petitions, and he knew what I was waiting for.   It can't be that easy; real life always has a last minute catch right?   It wouldn't be in the Real Life Heist tradition if there weren't just a little slight of hand.  For Calizo to wire me millions of dollars, I had to convince them that I had already made a firm commitment to their rival Columbia Pictures Productions.   It seems you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but you can give him a new bone... 
             I KNEW THIS LITTLE hillbilly town didn't have a limo service and for some reason, a taxicab just wouldn't do. I walked the mile or so back to my little section eight apartment.  It was the longest mile of my life; I couldn't wait to get home because none of this is real until I am sitting in my living room looking at my computer screen at my bank account sitting in my chair I bought at a thrift store....

            THROUGH A RARE paradigm shift of reality where twenty-two milligrams of an inch sends a Golf Ball eighty-eight feet the wrong direction where anything can happen my whole life changed a couple of million dollars in the right direction.

              SOMEWHERE NEAR THE TOP floor of the Beverly Hilton Hotel with an ocean view when the sun sets it looks like you can see all the way to Hawaii.  The strong smell of fresh cut flowers and gallons of fresh fruit and cheeses and smoothie machines paid for by Calico Universal Pictures a large white FedEx package contain nine original copies of my one hundred and fifty seven pages with exactly thirty-six places awaiting my live signature executed in the Great State of California to claim jurisdiction and that I could not sign them in Montana.
                  I DULY SIGNED twenty-five times and paused at the last signature line on the last page and suddenly looked very important and folded it up and placed it in my top pocket without signing it and everyone watching knew exactly what it meant I laid on the table between us a large manila envelope which could be read a new unheard of work "Bumpin the Curb by Mark Anthony Given," it looked like the vault copy of The Wizard of Oz, and then told them to get out of my suite and make me an offer in seventy-two hours or nine am Monday morning.  I made sure I had all their eye contact an and in full disclosure that I was in daily contact with Calabria Universal Movies.  A couple of million dollars later we were all in love again.  

       "A Screech and a Bang!'s movie rights were sold independently, and the blinding flash mobs was from its premiere opening at a Chinese joint on Santa Monica Boulevard.  The flame of Fame's heat caused the hair on my arms to singe and felt like a lite suntan and smelled of money.
          EARLY MORNING HOURS poolside at the Beverly I returned just after nine am and a FedEx sizeable overnight package contains nine original copies of a one hundred and fifty-seven-page Contract for my Professional Services requiring it be executed or physically signed in the Great State of California.  At my convenience of course. 
             I ALREADY HAD two million cash in my account but apparently that was an Advance, I now had to initial every page and sign my name everywhere it said, "Your Name Here"  It took almost fifteen minutes with several pauses another couple million dollars was now routed to my sole bank account, and I could leave with the Cashier's Check Signing Bonus and all twenty-seven lines duly executed .
              THERE WERE SEVERAL people there, and I didn't know whose assistant was to who's attorney, so I just kept my mouth shut.  They all witnessed me sign off on everything, again except for the very last most crucial page and everyone there knew its significance and my history of the ball curving left when it should have gone right...
                        ANOTHER COUPLE MILLION dollars were pending on my iPhone, so I was taking my time.  When they told me it was on the way, I started signing, slow and easy.  There were so many people standing around I didn't know who were lawyers and who were assistants from the hotel.  All were there to witness and sign off on this deal.  On the very last page, I sat back in the fat cushioned chairs and just stared at the suddenly extra glowing white, and everyone knew the significance of this.  Two million dollars is a lot of money, and my cell phone buzzed in my pocket, and hopefully, it was from my bank's email confirming receipt of bank routed transfer of two million dollars cash.  
             THE SUN WAS going down over the Pacific ocean I paused to smell the roses after looking at that, and I thought I could see all the way to Hawaii, I could smell the ocean competing with a dozen fresh cut flowers and men's cologne and cigars I folded up the last page and stood up and slipped it into my top pocket looking around to see everyone was watching.   I wondered how many noticed I folded it up before standing up and sliding in my pocket without signing it.  I reached into my camouflaged back woods backpack I always carried sitting on the floor and removed a large manila envelope and on its side was only written, "Paradise Montana and Original Screenplay by Mark Anthony Given Fall 2014 and sat it down between us.  It's what they just paid for in full.  
             I DETECTED A SLIGHT smile, and good vibe appeared in the room, and everyone just stared at it.  I left all nine copies where they were and didn't even pick up a copy for myself.  I didn't pick up the big white business size envelope I knew contained a large Cashier's Check for Two Million dollars and, excused my self to go to the bathroom.  When I came back, everybody was gone with my first Screenplay.  
            MONDAY MORNING nine o'clock sharp a large overnight Fed Ex box of another nine copies, one-hundred and fifty-seven-page Contract for Two-Million dollars with the ever allusive Two Million Cashier's Check due at signing.  After signing my name right there where it said, "YOUR NAME HERE," exactly twenty-six times over a fruit spread and fresh cut flowers and strong coffee in the air.
              JUST WHEN THEY all thought we were finished and about to get up and leave, the very same Beverly Hills Hotel Suite with all the windows standing wide open high up in the sky, I leaned back and relaxed while the assistants hurried to organize all the copies and to wait on me, sign the last page, and away we go.  I didn't bother standing up this time, but I did fold it up and slip it into the same pocket and my cell phone buzzed in my front right pocket, and you know what that means.  I take it quickly to just glance at the email alert from my bank confirming the receipt of Two million dollars in my account.  
                    NOW DON'T hog the joint and get out of my limo... 
#STEALING OSCAR 3,614 Words The New Story by Mark Anthony Given
8:26 PM 2/6/2015


Copyright 2014 by Mark Anthony Given

 All Rights Reserved 28 USC 1746, Invoking 90 Stat. 2541 and
Article 2(4) of the Berne Convention for the Protection
of Literary and Artistic Works
7:27 PM 2/6/2015

STEALING OSCAR took a shortcut to fame and fortune.  From 'story to the movie to fame.  I GOT TIRED of waiting for my 15 minutes of fame, so I made it up...

Other Stories by Mark Anthony Given

On facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mark.a.given


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