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2008-08-08 - 12:12 p.m.

Met up with B. last night, at Friends. I got there early, had a fancy beer, and then he came in ten minutes after seven, in dark blue and black, his stretched-out frame moving toward me like a lanky teenager on stilts. We talked about his screenplay, which I don't really know how to talk about because I've never read an actual screenplay. There are guidelines, rules to how you talk about different kinds of writing. Sonnets must do this but they don't need to do that. Modern poetry can do pretty much anything as long as it absolutely does this or that. Fiction, I can usually talk about, and memoirs, sure, but screenplays are totally different. They're so skeletal they lend themselves to confusion, I learned. In a movie, you can pretty easily differentiate between five or six different, say, middle-aged white guys. This guy clearly has a mustache and is a bad guy. This other guy is overweight and has an accent, and so on. But in a screenplay, you have none of that. It's just MR. GOLDTHWAITE and then he says three words and then there's the stage direction stuff and then, half a page later, three more words of dialogue from someone else. It's easy to forget who's who, especially when three of the characters are cops. It's not very fun reading, but I can see that B. has some amount of talent for it. He knows his movies and is modeling this one on the political thrillers of the early seventies, a period he called "the golden age of American film." It's a period of American film I know very little about, too. He had some good ideas about my stuff, too. I've shown him four chapters so far (40 pages) and he's helping me find themes, the carried-forward ideas that will tie the whole thing together.

We ran into an old friend of his. B. knows everyone in town. He was in dozens of bands. He played bass. He's been with tons of girls and has lots of stories but is surprisingly shy and a little anxious and jittery. This other guy, sitting at a small table with a pretty blond girl he was clearly working on, waved us over. He's a film-industry guy and later I learned he started a company that does, like, mini-movies for companies that look like actual movies but which are really advertisements for cars or cell phones. Anyway, he had that laid-back aggressive thing that you see in movies, as portrayed by professional actors. He cursed a lot and, when he liked something, he said he'd like to "nestle up with" that thing. As in, "You ever seen this late-60s show 'The Prisoners'? It's not like super-camp like a lot of those shows were back then. It's something totally different. I don't know if you Netflix or what but I'd like to throw a party, get a whole bunch of 'The Prisoner' on DVD and nestle up with it for a weekend." That's pretty close to how he talks, but with more "fuckin's."

Then, after driving home, I had trouble parking. The city's disallowed parking on a long stretch--four or five blocks--of Guilford Avenue for repairs. They've put up those orange-and-white-striped barrel things and on the barrels someone's stapled heavy-paper signs. On those signs, someone's written, in black marker, the dates for which you can't park on Guilford. It was about 12:30 and I didn't want to drive around any more, so I parked in front of one of the barrels. Then I sort of shifted the barrel (they're weighted with sand) a half-car-length off of the edge of the sidewalk, so that it might look, to a cop, that it wasn't entirely clear to me, the driver, that to park there was not allowed. And then I did a quick look up and down Chase Street, removed the sign, held it over the guardrail high above I-83, and let it float gently down, one, two, three seconds, onto the highway's shoulder.

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