For those of you who have been staying up nights fretting over the state of my laptop, it is now fixed. I have some very smart, very reliable friends. Very patient friends that still talk to me after I call from another country demanding tech support at four in the morning. Friends that miss their lunches to help me out. Good friends.

To counter my good luck with the laptop, my printer splintered, and a piece of it is now no longer attached. It had a paper jam and then popped. And my iMac now likes to crash once a day, whenever I decide to use the stupid dial-up.

I know. Fascinating.

A screenplay of mine made it to Quarter Finals in a contest, which means it was one of the top ten percent of the entries, but not actually worth the prize money, or worth being one of the top three percent of the entries.

So right now I’m keeping my head down, buried inside my computer, working to crank out another screenplay. I have to just ignore all the other stuff, the things I have no control over. I can’t schedule meetings. I can’t make anyone fall in love with these movies. I just have to keep writing the stories because they entertain me. If someone else likes them, well, that’ll be cool. Once I try and figure out the “game” of it all, I start second-guessing all of my choices. I stare at a blank page for an hour, able to talk myself out of writing anything.

So right now I’m in the middle of something, and I almost hate it, which means I’ll finish it, hate it some more, let someone read it who doesn’t hate it, have that person tell me why it doesn’t suck and then I’ll rewrite it until I don’t hate it and then I’ll send it out to have people I don’t know tell me why they don’t like it enough.

All this and no paycheck, too? Why didn’t I sign up for this earlier?

That sounds like I’m bitter. I’m not. But it’s still strange to me that I just keep wanting to try. As a kid, I hated being told I “couldn’t” do something. My mom likes to tell the story of when I wanted to learn how to draw. I didn’t understand perspective. Mom pointed this out and apparently I stayed up in my room for a few hours and didn’t come down until I had figured out how to make a train look like it was driving away, or draw a table that wasn’t a square with three legs.

The part of the story she probably doesn’t know is that I once paid a girl to draw an ice cream cone for a Mother’s Day present. Mom kept going on about how great the drawing was, and I got jealous of the girl in my class that could draw ice cream cones. So I holed up in my room again and taught myself how to draw ice cream cones.

I’ve done this with several other hobbies. I still can’t play the guitar, but that’s because I make anyone who tries to teach me go insane. Same with driving a stick. I don’t think I’m a very good student. I want to absorb the knowledge immediately like Number Five, and then move on to the next thing. And if it doesn’t come naturally, I tend to stop trying. Like guitar. The stick shift. I just figure, “Not for me.” Learning a new language. Painting. These are the things I can’t do no matter what. But something keeps me wanting to write stories, plays, screenplays, and sketches. Even when nobody reads them, or people cut them from shows, or they get rejected. Even when I know they aren’t as good as someone else’s stories. I don’t know why I don’t get so discouraged that I quit.

Maybe it’s because I can imagine the finished product. I can’t write a song or see a painting in my head. I can’t hear myself conversing in French. But I can see the story’s end. I can imagine the pages in my hand. I can visualize that ending. That’s probably what pushes me. That’s why I don’t stop running even when I know I’m not going to be as fast as the guy running next to me. I can see the finish line. And I do find some comfort in knowing that the finish line is very far away. I don’t have to be perfect yet. I’m not posing for pictures for a long time.

Besides, right now I’m just waiting for the finish line of Austin Powers in Goldmember, which has been my most-anticipated moment of the summer, since Run, Ronnie, Run is being held indefinitely.

And I’ll just come right out and say that I spent good money seeing Reign of Fire. I didn’t want to see the movie about dragons, but sometimes you just get outnumbered. Sometimes it’s eleven in the morning on a Sunday and you’re in Burbank and you’re next to five people chanting, “Dragons! Dragons! Dragons!”

It is not a good movie. I don’t think you need me to tell you that. It’s a movie about dragons taking over the world. Christian Bale is lispy. The CGI is dripping from every cell. But what’s with the lousy blue-screens? And, not to ruin the movie for you, but there are surprisingly few dragons in the Dragon Movie. Anyway, you should rent it just for the amazing work of Matthew McConaughey, who looks like a demented Santa’s helper in this film. I don’t understand his acting “choice” of grunting with every exhale, and wheezing with every line. I don’t know why he has to chew stumpy, nasty cigar butts. It looks like he’s got his nasty beard hooked around his ears. I don’t know why he delivers every monologue in a pore-dripping close-up, with his eyes wild in every direction, acting like a crazy coked-up Leprechan, but God love ‘im for doing it. Hysterical. Christian Bale doesn’t know he’s in a bad movie (what with him always three seconds away from quoting lines straight from Braveheart), and Matthew’s chewing more scenery than actual scenery-eating dragons.

And I saw Jared Leto outside Road to Perdition later that night. At first I thought it was Jude Law, as they wear most of the same face. But I can’t imagine Jude Law wearing the jaunty beret and skate pants that Jared Leto was in. I was like, “What’s with that stare? Oh. Jordan Catalano .”

And the saddest thing: from behind, Jared Leto looks like an eighth grader. He looked like every skater boy I ever had a crush on. Jaunty beret and all.

You shut up. You weren’t there. My high school pickings were slim. A jaunty beret can be awesome on the right thirteen-year old. But on a grown man? Not even if you’re Matthew McConaughey.

No, wait. I did see Matthew McConaughey wearing one of those beret hats the first time I saw him dancing at a bar. And you know? He looked hot.

“Well, all right, all right.”

Okay, just go see Reign of Fire. It’s pretty damn funny for a non-dragon Dragon movie.

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