Posts Tagged ‘randall colburn’

Death in the Making, Chapter 2: The Heist

December 7, 2009

Note: All spelling and grammatical errors are there for a reason. And now… 


Chapter 2: The Heist 

Raymond sat in his office typing on his computer. He was tired. He tilted back in his chair. He opened his drawer and pulled out a pack of cigerettes and a liter. Raymond lit a cigerette smoked it and checked his watch “6:30. Half an hour left.” He said breathlessly. He lay back and fell asleep. Then there was a knock on the door. “Hello.” Someone said. “Anyone there.” The person opened the door and walked in. “Allll right. Now let me look for this.” The man said. The man opened drawers and looked. “Man. Where is it! Ahh the computer!” The man said. He opened the disk package and pulled it out. Then the man left. “This is finally gonna get me some respect.” The man said quietly.  


“Hey yo, bro, what’s up.” Drake was on the phone with his brother Sam Drake.  “Yeah whadayya need.” Sam said groggily. “Look we finished the park and we need some people to come and test it. And I thought you and your kids and whoever else you want to bring.” Drake proposed.  

“I’d love to! Great I can’t wait to tell the kids! I’ll bring the assistent manager, too. Chris Links. That’s his name. A real smart fellow.” Sam said excitidly. 

“Where’s Jimmy and Andrea now?” Drake said. “There in the family room watching some dumb predictible show. Full House I think. And Andrea hates her name so call her Andy. She really likes it.” Sam said still excited.  

“Okay go to the airport on Saterday and there will be a helicopter waiting for you at about 8:30am. Got it.” Drake said.  

“Got it. See ya.” Sam ended.  

Drake hung up smiling. He was happy. He liked seeing those kids. He got up from his chair and left his office. Right when he left he heard fast footsteps coming at him. Suddenly he felt an arm push him into the wall and he watched a dark figure burst past him with something in his hand then he ran on the elevator. “Man who was that in such a hurry?” He wondered. Drake checked his watch. “Well time to go.” 


Raymond burst through Maxs doors screaming, “Why’d you take it!” 

“What are you talking about!” Max yelled back.  

“You stole the computer chip that runs the whole stinkin park! Y’now what could happen if that fell in the wrong hands! It could destroy the park entirely!” Raymond was still screaming.  

“I didn’t steal a thing so shut up!” Max yelled at the top of his lungs.  

“Then who did steal it!” Raymond said so high he didn’t recognize his own voice.  

“Okay, okay. Slow down. We’ll find out who it was.” Max said trying to calm him down.  

“Your right. The person who stole it probaly doesn’t even know how to use it. I mean there probaly won’t be any problems.” 


“Okay, okay, that was funny but watch this.” Jack Russell said. He, Kasey, Drake, Steve Hicks, and Cooper were making jokes and faces. Jack blew his cheeks and pulled out his ears. “I’m a monkey! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.” 

“Oh, that was good but watch this. A clam tongue.” Steve Hicks made his tongue look like a clam. He was in his fortys and had long blonde hair. He was quite normal.  

“7:00 time to go.” Cooper said quietly.  

“Bye everybody. And remember tomorrows the tour.” Drake said waving.  

“Yeah it’s gonna be fun.” Casey replied.  

What I remember: I’ll begin with what I can’t remember, and that would be where Steve Hicks came from. Or why I felt the need to give him, the “quite normal” one, a special introduction in this chapter. More “worker” characters are added as the story continues, minor ones whose main purpose was to die a ridiculous death. Yet, with an already full palette of characters to choose from, I included Steve Hicks, the “quite normal” one in this scene, goofing off with the others. Steve Hicks actually goes on to play a major role in the story, but I’m completely puzzled as to his origin. I don’t even think he had an action figure counterpart, although the “long blonde hair” description makes me skeptical of such an assertion. Maybe I just wanted somebody older. I take great pains to point out his age, something I didn’t do with any of the other characters. Regardless, keep your eye on ‘Ol Blondie. 

I’m also drawn to several other things when I read this chapter: 

The first signs of my love for the seemingly banal. The scene of the guys making dumb faces serves only to introduce Steve Hicks, something that could’ve been easily done in a more plot-serving way. It’s a pointless scene, but I kinda love it. Why? Because it makes the characters more than just devices. Plot is not my strong suit. It never has been. I would say I handle plot more effectively in this book than in any of plays. The prologue gives us a beast and a mysterious death. Chapter One gives us the threat outsiders in an unstable environment. And Chapter 2 gives us a “heist”. Of course my 11-year old self wasn’t quite sure what a “heist” was, but a villain has been established and Max’s ambivalence is a bright flare of doom. I’ve even manufactured a magic “computer chip” that HOLDS THE KEY TO EVERYTHING (but ends up becoming fairly MacGuffin-ish, if I’m not mistaken).   

Regardless, the wheels are turning. It has begun. But that doesn’t change the fact that, more than anything, I just love to see characters existing in their element, acting like idiots. Sure, we’re defined by what we do, not what we say, but we shouldn’t discount our moments of fellowship. I feel as if a great deal of my personal character can be gathered by simply watching me quote shit with my friends at the bar, or tell a story about some relationship that went horribly, hilariously wrong. The way we react to people, the way people react to us at our most comfortable, so on. 

I’m also reminded of a recent reading of my play, Pretty Penny (which opens this Feb. by the way!), wherein an actor questioned a scene where a character gives his credit card information to a phone sex operator before the “fantasy” begins. His claim was that it was long and pointless. My claim is that more character could conceivably be found in that moment than in the rest of the play. There’s so much there, and even in Death in the Making I seemed to understand that. That there is a value in the seemingly mundane.   

I also can’t wait to dissect the villain’s “chilling” exit line in later chapters: “This is finally gonna get me some respect.” Why? Because (SPOILER ALERT) it has nothing to do with “respect”. I suppose at the time I was just trying to offer him some sort of motivation. I also wonder if I even knew who the villain was at this point. Either way, if I remember correctly, the villain’s motivations end up being much less interesting than if they were fueled by inadequacy. Too bad I abandoned what could’ve been fertile ground for something much more base and superficial. 

Lord knows it’s not the first time. 

Beautiful: He, Kasey, Drake, Steve Hicks, and Cooper were making jokes and faces. 

Embarrassing: There in the family room watching some dumb predictible show. Full House I think. (I have no idea what my beef was with “Full House” at the time. I thought I loved it. I thought that’s where my current nostalgia came from.) 

Raymond’s deduction that the boss stole the “computer chip” that “runs the whole park.” 

Stay tuned soon for Chapter 3: The Victims, wherein we officially meet Sam, Jimmy, and Andy Drake, as well as “assistent manager” Chris Links, who was modeled after this doll: 

Pee Wee, motherfuckers.


Death in the Making, Chapter 1: The Meeting

November 23, 2009

Note: All spelling and grammatical errors are there for a reason. And now…

Chapter 1: The Meeting

Chapter 1

“What are talking about Silas disapeering! That lazy bum is probaly just lying around at his house!” Max Wicks yelled. He was the leader of the company “Max Parks” “Max Amusement Parks.” He was at a meeting with his associates. He was a greedy man who looked just like a used car salesman. The assistint manager Raymond Perry who was quite weak and skinny was across the table yelling back. “We found his body! How could you think he was lounging around at home?! And anyway from the looks of it he died about a week ago.” Now he was scared because he needs to pay his rent and if he gets fired he can’t pay.

“Guys, we still have to decide who’s going to test it out.” Kasey the sound engineer said. He was the strongest of the group. He had scraggaly black hair and and always wore tank tops and jeans.

“Any Ideas?” Jack Russell the youngest of the group said.

“Hey I have a brother who owns a chain of amusement parks. He could bring his kids and anyone else.” Michael Drake said. He had white hair and he was the cutest one.

“We’ll call ’em and they’ll we’ll see what happens.” Raymond said quietly.

“Waitm what’t this about kids! Kids are a pain in the butt. Those whining little brats annoy me!” Max yelled.

“They’ll pay.” Mac, the nervous one, said.

“Okay, they can come.” Max said.

“Um, Mr. Wicks you have the park documents to fill out.” Cooper, the security guard said as he opened the door. He was a fat slob who hardley ever talked. He had a crew cut and wore a police uniform.

“Meeting ijurned. Go back to work.” Max said going back to his office. “Oh yeah Jackson. You finished the track right.”

“Right.” Jackson said. He was a resourceful person. Wearing a white shirt and a yellow sleeveless jacket. And a light brown shorts.

Everyone walked away. Drake stopped Mac in his tracks.

“Yeah. Um yes Drake.” Mac said nerveously.

“How do you think Silas died? Cause he had those scratches on him and he had that weird mark on his head. Drake said scratching his head.

“Um. I don’t really know. I mean I didn’t do it. I mean…I don’t know okay!” Mac yelled and he ran on the elevator and was gone.

“Kasey, hey Kasey c’mere. I need to ask you something.” Drake yelled. Kasey came up to him. “Do you know what happened to Silas?”

“Don’t ask me. Me and my family were at home eating dinner when that happened. I mean it happened at 8:00 and we had a late dinner.” He looks at his watch. “Look man I gotta go. Bug in the sound machine.” He threw some cable on his shoulder. “See Ya.”

“Yeah bye.” He watched Kasey walk in the elevator and go down.

In a minute the room was empty and he was alone in the room. He stared at the window fogdusted window. He wiped off the fog off the window and stared. Then he thought he saw something burst through the trees. “Just my imagination.” Drake said to himself. “Just my imagination.”

What I remember: Where these characters came from. If you read the previous post, you’ll know that each of these characters was based on an action figure from my collection.

Max Wicks, the owner of Max Parks Max Amusement Parks:


Big Boy from Dick Tracy! (Could not find the action figure pic.)

Raymond Perry, the weak and skinny one:

Not making this up.

Worf from Star Trek! (NOT weak and skinny. An odd choice.)

Kasey the Strong Sound Engineer:

Like a nice Jason Voorhees.

Kasey Jones from the Ninja Turtles cartoon and films (played by Elias Koteas!)

Mac, the nervous one:

As played by Dustin Hoffman in the film!

Jack Russell, the young one:

This one makes the least sense.

Corporal Dwayne Hicks from Aliens.

Michael Drake, the cutest one:

I had such a crush on this dude.

 Corporal (something) Drake from Aliens.

Jackson, quite possibly be my favorite character of the novel:

This looks nothing like the actor in the film.

Robert Muldoon, a small character from Jurassic Park.

Cooper Michaels, the security guard who wears a police uniform:

I had an earlier, less stupid version of this action figure where his arm wasn't grafted into an eternal clothesline.

The Big Boss Man!

As you can see, my tastes were all over the place. My love of Dick Tracy facilitated an early interest in the mystery and variety of genre fare. Jurassic Park and Star Trek bred within me a love for adventure (not to mention my early leanings towards heavy themes). Aliens satisfied my bloodlust. TMNT offered the goofiness and humor (not to mention backflips). And WWF taught me there’s nothing wrong with a good ol-fashioned ass-whoopin.

What these disparate entertainments have in common is ensemble. They created worlds that focused on many journeys, not just one, offering a slew of interesting and diverse characters, all coalescing in the wake of one (or several) catastrophic event(s). 

This is what I wanted with Death in the Making, to bring these action figures, from such vastly different universes, together into one. To break down walls. To create dialogue. What would happen if they were all brought together? What would they become? Who would be good? Who would be bad? Who are these people in relation to one another? These are the silly questions I still ask myself because I love character. More than plot, more than theme, I love characters and I love ensembles. And Death in the Making is where that all began.

Of course, there is always one central figure at the center of these stories, whether it be Dick Tracy, Jean-Luc Picard,  or Sam Neill. You guys have yet to meet that central figure. That’s what Chapter 3 is for, and it’s something I’m excited to explore.

The idea of the “main character” is something that has oft-frustrated me as a writer. When Arthur Kopit saw my play, Lamp & Moth, in Kansas City, his complaint was that it had no central character. Further revisions have remedied that to a degree, but not without some grumbling. I often find myself disassociated from “main” characters in most art. They’re often bland everymen, heroic in all the wrong places. Or raisonneurs from the author who can’t help but smash his grubby fingers all over a perfectly good story. Or genre robots so patched together from the canon that they trade blood and guts for empty cardboard witticisms.  They’re written with such blandness because we perpetuate the idea that audiences need to identify with someone  to enjoy something, which is, of course, bullshit. It is in this identification that we remove all the shit that makes us human, all the things that anyone could actually identify with on a more profound level.

Having said that (who caught Curb last night?), Sam Drake, my ostensible “main” character, is guilty of at least a few of those crimes. And Jimmy Drake, my childhood surrogate and likely main “main” character, is a lot worse. But these guys, this group, delineated (like the TMNT) by only the most base character traits, are at the heart of this story…at least as I remember it.

There will probably be a lot more talk about ensemble as we continue this journey. There’s certainly many more characters to meet in our immediate future since my 11-year old self was a kindred spirit to one David Milch, who never met a character on Deadwood he didn’t want to spin a yarn about.

And so it goes…   

 Beautiful: In a minute the room was empty and he was alone in the room. He stared at the window fogdusted window. He wiped off the fog off the window and stared.

“We found his body! How could you think he was lounging around at home?!

Embarrassing: Now he was scared because he needs to pay his rent and if he gets fired he can’t pay.

He had white hair and he was the cutest one.

“Um, Mr. Wicks you have the park documents to fill out.”

“Don’t ask me. Me and my family were at home eating dinner when that happened. I mean it happened at 8:00 and we had a late dinner.”

Rock of Love Bus, Episode 2: The Black Hole of Britney

January 18, 2009

First off, my apologies for the tardiness of this post.

Secondly, is there a more pathetic creature in all of humanity than Britney (aka Cleavageface #6)? I speak to the endless conflation (and this dovetails nicely with my previous post) of lust and idolatry that constitutes so much of what passes for love in this day and age.

Hunky Uncy Bret Michaels is not that attractive. He’s not that talented. He’s a greasy bundle of hair, mascara, genitals, and doggie barks. And he does not like it when people want to express their undying love for him. It clearly makes him uncomfortable. Why?

Because Hunky Uncy Bret likes boobs. Big ones. And nasty old-man Michaels sex.

But even moreso: Because you don’t know him. And Bret has enough self-awareness (having done this for two seasons), to acknowledge this.

The women who’ve been on the show have openly spoken about how they literally spend minutes with the man during the filming of the show. Yet this woman believes so desperately that this man is her soul mate. We laugh at people like Britney from our comfortable distance. We laugh at her because God, how could anyone ever fall in love with HIM? And so quickly?! It’s just all so ridiculous and unbelievable!

But there’s more truth than meets to the eye to Rock of Love.  I look around me, I look at these people who morph their lives for people they barely know, who utter “I love you” like it’s just a logical step instead of a complicated emotion. I look at these people so desperate to hold, to kiss, to fuck, the way they turn themselves inside out for it. I look at myself, at the self-control it takes to never let lust, or desire, or idiocy to dictate a relationship. At how often I fail at that.

And then I look at Britney on Rock of Love Bus, the girl who wrote five pages of wedding vows for Bret, who embarrassed herself with a sloppy lapdance in an even sloppier bikini, who was mocked incessantly by the rest of plastic furnaces (at times justly due to her blatant racism against Cleavageface #12 ((the black one))), and I can only witness another example of a woman (much like Femi on Bromance) made empty by our country’s slick and slimy amalgamation of lust and worship.

Does Bret want lust? That goes without saying.

Does want worship? Sure!

But how does he want them? In check. In equal measure. Worship him onstage, bone him off.

Like politics and religion, you just can’t mix the two.

This shit is depressing.

From the ether:

  • How clever was it to put Britney in the alien bed? Ah, the othering of the other.
  • Cleavageface #20 (Ashley) is a prime example of how excessive plastic surgery can freeze you in time, if not nullify large clumps of your brain. This woman exists in the black hole of ninth grade frosty whore.
  • I like when Bret gets drunk and drops the loving, best friend act.
  • Brittania thinks Bret is the hottest man she’s ever seen. And I believed her when she said it. I just…I…this, this is absolutely ridiculous…
  • This show is hard to watch.

Bromance, Episode 3: Friendship vs. Idolatry

January 17, 2009

One of the main goals of modern Christianity relates directly to one of the buried themes in the latest episode of Bromance.

When we think of the sermons of Joel Osteen and other “hip pastors” we see, over and over again, the idea of God as Friend as opposed to God as God. For many fundamentalists, this creates an uncomfortable tension. How can you be friends with something you worship, something you revere, something you emulate? 

Our Man Jenner is obviously an idol in the eyes of MTV. He is a goal, something to be achieved. He is a Pop God, evidenced by MTV’s long-lingering eye of gratuity as Brody lathered his lean, tattooed body in the shower. He is what MTV believes America wants to be: a man made famous by the life he was born into, a man with beautiful genes, a man with talents that have no bearing on his fame. Brody Jenner is a desirable personality. Thus the reason Ryan Seacrest thought it was a good idea to create a show revolving around his ego. Thus the reason thousands of people from all over the country applied for his friendship.

So where do our contestants fit?

Do they want friendship? Or do they want worship?

And more importantly, what does Brody want?

In this latest episode, Brody challenged the guys to plan an activity for them to engage in. Luke built a mini-golf course, Chris F. did some pathetic stand-up, and Femi…well, Femi went a little off the deep end.

In previous episodes, Femi has come to tears discussing how this show is an opportunity. His past is littered with loss and legal issues, and as much as Femi talks up his neighborhood and his lifestyle, it’s obvious the man is miserable. Femi wants a savior. Femi wants the escape his friends who’ve been “shot in the back” never had.

This means his stakes are exponentially higher than his comrades. And this makes him dangerous.

This showed more than ever in this latest episode when Femi decided to get a tattoo as part of his planned activity. The tattoo was his last name, written along his left side in Olde English. Femi emphasized the importance of his family as his reason for getting it. What made everyone a bit unsettled, including Our Man Jenner, was the fact that this was an exact replica of Brody’s tattoo (showed to us so cleverly during the obnoxious shower scene between Brody, Frankie, and the Sleaze).

All of the guys (all more than bothered) pointed this out to Femi, but he didn’t say much to that. This was an act of friendship to him, something to make him stand out.

We see here the embodiment of the Friendship vs. Idolatry conflict at the heart of tonight’s Bromance. Femi’s tattoo is an act of worship, buried within the justification of his “individuality” (which he links to friendship). Like Christians who grow Jesus beards or flagellate themselves, desperate to feel closer to their Lord, Femi’s act is one of sacrifice and idolatry.

Yet Brody keeps him. Why? Because Femi has “passion.”

Or: Femi’s character is one above the others, and the producers see the potential.

See, this is not friendship to Femi; this is salvation.

Bromance as religion.

I like where this is going.

Re: Hiatus

January 12, 2009

Hello friends.

Forgive the lack of posts as of late but (along with birthday celebrations) I’ve been in Seattle the last several days  to attend a reading of my play, Verse Chorus Verse, at the Seattle Rep. Rest assured that reviews of the latest episodes of Bromance, Rock of Love Bus, and Confessions of a Teen Idol will be posted within the next couple of days.

I’m currently sitting in a coffee shop in Olympia, Washington (Kurt Cobain’s old stomping grounds and the home of K Records), sipping some delicious hot chocolate and amazed that it’s not raining. Expect a few more thoughts on this trip with future posts, but I will add this post-script:

I’m staying with an amazingly friendly and talented playwright, Bryan Willis, and his wife and son. I found out this morning that after spending a great deal of the evening noshing and conversing, their 9-year old son asked his mom if I could move in with them.

Is there anything more lightening?

It’s easy to feel old sometimes. That doesn’t mean it’s necessary. There is life. And it happens while you’re unloading box after box of baseball cards from the trunk of a car under a warm, wet Northwestern sky.

No revelation. Just a reminder.