Friday, 2 March 2007

Death by Misadventure: The Screenplay - Part 4

Yes, I know.

Part 3 of my screenplay ended rather abruptly.

We followed Grundman (from a safe distance) across a mile of desert and watched while he littered the ground with beer cans, cigarette butts and a half-dozen saguaro corpses until he reached Ha:san. Then he and the story stopped dead.

No, our narrator didn’t walked out on us. I just wanted to add suspense. Hey, that’s show-biz.

(FYI. I may not be able to get Tom Selleck to narrate after all. He’s not returning my calls. Maybe Al Gore will agree to follow up his solid venture into film making with a guest spot in my movie. I’ll make a note to phone him. And there’s still been no word from anyone about a pet coyote.)

The narrator (Tom, Al, whoever) will next read three short sentences directly from the book upon which my screenplay is based. (pg. 192, Jack Ruby’s Kitchen Sink, Tom Miller)

“Finally David Grundman encountered Ha:san. A couple of rounds didn’t do it. Ha:san, 125 years old, remained erect.”

The camera will move in for a close-up of Grundman’s sweaty face as he surveys the damage he has wrought thus far.

Seconds slowly tick by. He casually takes a last swig of beer, a final draw on his cigarette and flicks the butt onto the bare soil.

We have time to ask ourselves, What’s he thinking? Is he going to wise up? Curse himself for doing so much damage to other living things? Go get a bigger rifle?

Grundman bends down, reaches for the box of shells sitting at his feet.

The narrator reads, “He moved slightly to another angle and pumped a few more slugs into the splendid 3,000-pound saguaro, but it refused to fall. He tried again from farther over.”

Though Grundman’s face registers frustration he is determined to best the cactus. So he picks up a saguaro rib from the ground and starts poking at Ha:san’s lowest arm, which has grown almost five feet in its 70 years.

(To those who are surprised by the man’s stubbornness or stupidity, or both, may I just say for the record that you shouldn’t be. Mankind has been doing much the same thing to the planet for the last 100 years in countless other ways. You should be used to it by now. Sorry, back to the screenplay.)

Grundman’s poking finally dislodges the arm, which rests about four feet above him and weighs close to 500 pounds.

I could stop right here to build more suspense but that’s so old, so been-there-done-that.

No. Instead, what follows will take place in ultra-slow-motion in true Sam Peckinpah-fashion.

The 500-pound arm falls to the ground. It breaks Grundman’s neck on the way.

Then Ha:san, suddenly unstable, starts wobbling, and falls onto the lifeless man as well, piercing his face and torso in hundreds of places.

As the movie screen gradually fades to black three things will happen simultaneously.

We’ll see the county medical examiner fill in Grundman’s toe tag with the following words; cause of death – external compression of the chest - 04/02/82.

We’ll hear the ballad Saguaro that contains the line “One mighty arm of justice came hurtling toward the ground”. (Michael Stevens, Austin Lounge Lizards)

And we’ll be asked by the film’s narrator, “How will mankind’s movie end?”

Thursday, 1 March 2007

Let it Rain...Ice Pellets

As I write I can hear ice pellets tapping on my windows, and occasionally the overhead light flickers off and on. Even so, I pray for the bad weather to continue long enough to cancel school tomorrow. With temperatures hovering around the 0 mark I know I won't freeze to death if the hydro goes out and I have a lot of blankets. I don't mind missing my morning hot shower if it means a few precious hours to huddle inside a sleeping bag with a good book.
I've been thinking about how unprepared I really am for a hydro outage. I have no alternate source of heat, no radio that doesn't need electricity, no gas stove, no extra batteries for my one flashlight. I do have a package of 100 tealights (I could sit in my wok and light a few but there wouldn't be enought room for my daughter...?) I could run out to my car when I get really cold and sit idling in the driveway and catch up on the news at the same time, doesn't seem environmentally friendly however. My clothes dryer is gas but would be a tight squeeze!
My fellow blogger Espresso recently wrote (blogged?) about how we've become accustomed to a comfortable way of life, and that sacrifices would be required to live a "greener", potentially planet-saving lifestyle. Can we, will we, make those sacrifices? I've been thinking about that alot, and maybe our thought patterns need to make a shift. Perhaps we can look at personal (and hopefully industrial) changes as a challenge, a game, a competition. For my brother, it could mean hours and hours of crazy fun with computer graphs, pie charts and pages of statistics! I like statistics too, though I'm not nearly as compulsive as he, well almost, maybe, no, not at all.
So, I've been looking into Bullfrog Power ( ) which provides electricity from totally renewable resources. My current hydro company charges me 5.5 cents per kWh for the first 1000 kilowatt hours, and 6.4 cents thereafter. Bullfrog Power charges 9.1 cents per kWh. If I used 1000 kWh in a month I would pay an extra $36.00 for Bullfrog Power, peace of mind - priceless! The game then is making up the difference ($36.00) elsewhere - I haven't figured out the savings yet (I'll get my brother working on it) but by using compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) instead of the incandescents I now use I might save enough to cancel out the hydro increase. CFLs use 2/3 less energy than incandescents. Let's make the switch now, before incandescents get banned and there's a run on CFLs, otherwise we could all be in the DARK!

Death by Misadventure: The Screenplay – Part 3

In my last post I described, in brilliant detail if I do say so myself (and I do), the slow growth of Ha:san, a stately 125-year-old saguaro cactus (found in the Sonoran Desert an hour’s drive northeast of Phoenix, Arizona) and one of the two main characters in my screenplay (hopefully, a soon-to-be released motion picture worthy of several Oscars).

The second character is David Grundman, a 25-year-old man wearing a dark-blue t-shirt, dusty jeans and scruffy leather boots, last seen “slipping a shotgun shell into his 16-gauge and preparing to blow two empty beer cans into smithereens”.

Twenty minutes before our protagonists meet for the first and last time, Grundman finishes loading his rifle, takes aim and confidently pulls the trigger.

The noise alone would have knocked over the beer cans had the red-hot stream of buckshot not found its mark. Before the large spray of dust and gravel settles every tiny creature within a one-mile radius of the blast has skittered off to find safe refuge.

Grundman spits toward the middle of the dirt road, opens his third beer, lights a cigarette, turns and walks into the desert.

As he hikes unknowingly but unerringly toward Ha:san he passes several wolfberry shrubs and squat mesquite trees but shoots not a one, intent on shooting saguaros only. They make easy, immobile targets, almost humanlike with their arms in the air.

He starts with smaller saguaros and works up to bigger ones, each time shooting at their ribs, so that without support, the cactus falls over dead.

In the silent desert the final fall of each cactus makes a thunderous noise and as Grundman’s sixth victim, a statuesque 18-footer, crumbles before our eyes, we hear Johnny Cash singing the chorus of a gritty funeral dirge, as follows;

“And you could have it all, my empire of dirt. I will let you down. I will make you hurt.” (Hurt, American IV: The Man Comes Around)

Pretty darn dramatic, eh? (I’ll be right back. I'm going to go reserve a tux for next year's Oscars.)

Finally, after leaving a filthy trail of beer cans, cigarette butts and dead saguaros, grundman encounters Ha:san.