Does swearing mean you’re unintelligent?

I don’t typically think about how often I swear. However, recently a friend of mine commented on it. “You’re better than that,” he said. It bothered me. While he didn’t know it, he basically just said, “I’m better than you. Be more like me.” Dick move. I don’t begrudge my friend. He didn’t really think about what he was saying. In fact, it turns out he was repeating something someone had told him. I’m sure it was meant to be a pep talk. A motivator for me to strive to be a better person. But it wasn’t. It was a judgment.

Not more than a week later I was engaged in a conversation in which someone told me that he or she viewed people who swear as less intelligent. This flipped my pancake. Once again, with a smidgen of subtlety, someone insulted me to my face.

“I swear. Do you think I’m unintelligent?” Turns out she did. The finer point was that cursing makes you sound unintelligent. It doesn’t matter whether you are; the perception is there.

To me, this judgment is narrow-minded. Swearing should have no bearing on the perception of one’s intelligence. But it does. I realize I can do little to influence people’s perception of this. But since there are dozens of blogs out there telling us to stop swearing, it only seemed fitting to have a counterpoint.

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Happiness is a Warm Gun

Guns

On the set of my second movie, Victim’s Song, we had a gun. It was a prop gun. It only fired blanks. That being said it was loud as hell and had a muzzle flash. So I wanted to make sure people didn’t play with it.

I should back up. Read More

Turkey Hill Iced Tea in L.A.

Those closest to me know that I have an addiction to Turkey Hill Iced Tea. It’s an iced tea made by the Turkey Hill company. Which was born in Lancaster Pennsylvania; just like me. I grew up drinking gallons of the stuff. It’s the best. All other teas are #2 or lower. When it came time to make the move to Los Angeles I knew I couldn’t take the tea with me. It was a local brand. My addiction was coming to an end.

My first week in Los Angeles I walked into the local Ralphs supermarket in search of a THIT substitute. To my chagrin I could not find a gallon of tea of any kind. None. I asked the box boy where they kept them and he laughed, “Why would anyone want a gallon of iced tea?” I murdered him quickly and got the hell out of there. Ralphs be damned. I will have my tea. In this life or the next.

CUT TO:

Years laters. After going through countless subpar substitutes I had abandoned hope. My salad was officially tossed.

And then…

TURKEY HILL ICED TEA in Los Angeles!!!

One day I walked into Ralphs and there it was. Staring back at me like an old lover. It had been so long. Would our love still burn bright or had it been extinguished forever? After a bit of awkward conversation I just went for it. It felt so right when it hit my lips. Yes, this is what nature had intended.

They didn’t have gallons. They had half gallons. It would have to do. Soon my refrigerator was choking on it.

Everything was beautiful. Everything was right. (minus global warming, terrorism, disease, war related deaths, and the collapse of the US economy)

And then one day I walked into Ralphs and she was gone. No Turkey Hill Iced Tea. I went to another Ralphs. None. Then another. None. And other. The same. My lover had abandoned me. Weeks had gone by. I talked to the store clerk. When are you going to get more THIT? He said they weren’t selling well enough. Ralphs wasn’t going to carry it anymore.

After some digging I discovered that Turkey Hill is owned by Kroger, which is owned by Ralphs. I promptly wrote all three begging for the return of my tea. Ralphs took a week to respond and their email was the equivalent of spam. Kroger has never written me back. Turkey Hill finally wrote me back after about 10 days. Below you will find our email exchange.

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My Lasik Experience

I recently had Lasik eye surgery.  As many writers wear glasses I thought it might be worth noting my experience with it.

THE CONSULTATION

So there I was.  Sitting in the waiting room at a Laser Eye Center.  Knee bouncing in nervous anticipation.  Could have been the thought of eye surgery, could have been because Must Love Dogs was playing on an a Plasma TV just next to my head.

I had been wearing glasses full time since I was about 14 years-old.  I wasn’t blind without my glasses, but it was pretty much a bitch do anything without them.  I tried wearing contact lenses a few times.  Each attempt met with disappointing results.

So there I was.  Just looking to hear what my possibilities were.  They called me in and walked me through a series of tests.  Before I knew it they were offering me a same-day procedure discount.  Being a poor writer, you bet I went for it.

THE PROCEDURE

If you’re not familiar with the procedure here it is in a nut shell.  They slice open a flap on your cornea and shoot lasers into your eye to clear a path to your retina.  There are different options in technology as far as how they slice your cornea and the types of lasers involved in recalibrating your eye.  This customization is how the pricing changes.

In Pre-Op they handed me a list of what seemed like 1000 fun facts about the surgery that I needed to initial.  I’m sure it was all just legal cover-your-ass stuff.  But here are two of the fun facts.

  • You may never see as well with the surgery as you did with your glasses or contacts.
  • You could go blind.

There were many other jaw dropping ones that, sadly, I can no longer remember.  But I’m sure they’re very rare.  I know a lot of people who have had Lasik and they all loved it.  Not one complaint or horror story.

They gave me a Xanax to help calm down during the surgery.  Only problem was, they were operating on me only 15 minutes later.  I’m pretty sure it takes longer than that for the body to ingest and distribute a drug properly.  Maybe not LSD.  I was laid out on a reclining chair.  All the while my mind raced with thoughts of Tom Cruise in Minority Report when he had his eyes swapped out.  Son of a bitch!  The Xanax wasn’t working.  I’m a big guy.  One wasn’t enough.  I need two.

They put some kind of numbing drops in my eyes.  Everyone was telling me to relax.  It’s go time.

Everyone told me not to move.  Lasers in my eyes.  Got it.  Don’t move.  Here comes the cornea cut.  Call me a baby.  This did not tickle.  It wasn’t horrible, but it certainly wasn’t painless – and you try not to move.  So now the eye is open and they’re playing laser tag with my retina.  This didn’t hurt, but it certainly wasn’t comfortable.  What did it look like?  I was going to insert the scene here from Fire in the Skywhere the aliens bring that needle probe down on D.B. Sweeney – but that’s too hyperbolic, and that scene freaks me out too much to watch again.  Ugh.  Stupid aliens.  The procedure lasted about 5 minutes per eye.  When it was done they ushered me into a dark room to wait for fifteen minutes by myself.  After a few tests I was released.

I stumbled into the hallway, ready to leave, finally feeling the effects of the Xanax.  At this point I had plastic shields taped over my eyes and a sweet pair of regulation sunglasses.  Afternoon now.  I headed home with a list of things I could not do for the next five hours.

  • I could not watch TV
  • I could not look at a computer monitor
  • I could not read
  • I could not sleep

Basically they told me to go home, close my eyes, and sit in the dark for 5 hours.  But don’t go to sleep.  And mind you, sitting in the dark after taking a Xanax, sleep is the thing you want most.  I listened to TV for 5 hours, then went to bed.

The following days consisted of a series of 3 different types of eye-drops taken at different times, sleeping on my back with plastic shields taped to my face, and trying to shower without getting water anywhere near my eyes.  They gave me a couple of Vicodin for pain but I did not experience any post-surgery pain.

But what about the vision?

DAY 1

Immediate improvement.  I could read signs at a distance.  I still had some blurred vision here and there.  It was not 100%.  I saw a lot of halo-effect on lights at night.  However, I was told that I will continue to improve over the next 2 weeks.  So far, success.

9 DAYS LATER

Despite the fact that I’m still seeing things blurry, my vision is checked as 20/20.  Still seeing halos on night vision.

28 DAYS LATER

I still see halos at night.  My vision is great in the morning but during the day it gets worse; as if my eyes are fatigued.  Sometimes it takes a second for my eyes to focus on things.

I see much better now than I ever did before without my glasses.  However I wouldn’t say I see as well as I did with my glasses.

Oh well.


Screenwriting and depression

Hey, Fus.  Where ya been?  It’s a fair question.  I haven’t been on here in almost a month.  Truth is I fell into a bit of a well and it took awhile to climb out.  I was depressed.  And that caused me to stop writing.  Which depressed me more.

At first I was just taking some time off because I was hunting for an agent/manager.  I’ve been writing like a madman but it’s all for naught if I don’t get it into people’s hands to read.  I was lucky enough to get some feedback from a manager and a working screenwriter.  But that’s all I got.  And then, when I should have gotten back to work, I didn’t.  I can’t explain it.  I kept waiting for the inspiration, the passion to return.  But it never did.

I wasn’t a zombie.  I went to work, made jokes, lived life; but I wasn’t myself.  This, my friends, was my depression.  Perhaps mild when compared with others, but depression all the same.

So how did I occupy my time?  I obsessed over a new email address for a month – finally changing it, twice.  I watched a lot of 60 Minutes and House.  I started painting, took a boxing class, learned to make bread, started drinking scotch, played a lot of Madden.  I did a lot of stuff; none of which was helpful to my career.  I wanted to get back to work but it seemed like such a distant thing.

I suppose I’ve had seasonal depression before – when I lived on the east coast.  But this was summer in southern California.

And then the epiphany came.

My entire life I’ve been plotting, working, writing, scheming.  Passionate.  Motivated.  And suddenly I wasn’t reading any books, or writing any blogs or screenplays.  I wasn’t pushing myself to work harder and be better.  I didn’t want to make myself better.  I wanted to be told I’m okay.  Which is a primal thing.  Everybody needs a little pat on the back now and again.  But being okay would mean nothing needs to change.  And there is no stasis in life.  Things are always changing.  Stasis is death.

When depression hits you’ve got to find a way to power through and keep working.  There’s only so much life to go around.

So it’s back to the factory for me.  I’m writing this blog.  I’m reading a book on playwriting.  And I’m rewriting my script again.

And if that doesn’t work, I’m taking some drugs.

Farwell to Blake Snyder

Anyone who learned anything about screenwriting in the last decade has probably heard the name Blake Snyder. His popular book Save the Cat has become the book on screenwriting structure. August 4, 2009, he died from a pulmonary embolism.

It was one of the first books recommended to me and instantly became a favorite. I was lucky enough to meet with Blake on a number of occasions. He was always very nice and I couldn’t help but be impressed by how much he genuinely wanted to help writers. His contributions will be felt for generations. He will be missed.