Blog Archives

Tales from the Script: Part 1 (Partnering Up)

I’m at a pivotal point in the screenwriting process.  I thought for my own piece of mind I’d share the journey it took to get here.  I don’t know where this story will end.  I certainly hope it has a happy ending.  Let’s start from the beginning.

I’ve written a lot of screenplays.  Most of them were through my twenties.  I burned all my bridges in radio and television, moved back to Michigan and had the first “real” job of my life working in a Toys R Us.  Over the next few years I went through my Kevin Smith phase.  I first wrote my “Clerks” about a guy who was working in a big box toy store cleverly called We B Toys.

Next when I was in an unhappy relationship and feeling like I was hundreds of miles from where I wanted to be, I wrote my “Dogma” about a couple in an unhappy relationship who die and get stuck in Purgatory…which happens to be a small town in the middle of nowhere.

After that, the unhappy relationship ended so I wrote my “Chasing Amy” about a guy who ends his unhappy relationship and starts a non-romantic relationship.  I guess it was also my “When Harry Met Sally”.  The main character in that one was a struggling stand up comedian.  At the time, I hadn’t stepped foot on the comedy stage yet, so it was just a way for me to get out the material I wrote without having to actually perform it.  Coincidentally, the arc of that character kind of mirrored what I ended up doing creatively in real life years later.

So, after those first few attempts at screenwriting I started doing stand up and seemed to have a knack for it.  Most of my creative juices flowed into that outlet.  Friends asked me if I wanted to partner up with them on scripts, but for one reason or another it never really worked out.

Last year a fellow performer named Lesley Braden and I met with some other performers about starting a sketch comedy group.  That didn’t work out, but Lesley and I found that we worked really well together.  She pitched me her idea for the story we ended up writing and I loved it.   It’s like what they say about love.  You find it when you’re not looking for it.  I wasn’t looking for the perfect screenwriting partner, I just happened upon her!

Next time, I’ll talk about the story.

Dennis’s Guide to Public Restrooms

When you’re on the road all day it’s inevitable – it’s going to come up. You’re going to need to use a public restroom. Quite possibly for #2*. I have spent the last several years at a job that requires me to drive all over Michigan and Ohio, and I have spent plenty of time in public bathrooms. So I give to you Dennis’s guide to public restrooms!

Are you a public restroom novice? Don’t know which ones to use and which to avoid? There is an easy rule of thumb. When stopping for a much-needed potty break, refer to this scale:

#1. – Retail stores – usually the cleanest – most major retailers have a policy about cleaning them at least daily, and the employees themselves have to use them.

#2. – Restaurants – Usually pretty gross. With the constant flow of people in and out, the staff is too busy to keep them clean. Especially at fast food places, those are the worst. Try to avoid.

#3.  – Gas Stations – Almost always Gross. I have seen things in gas station bathrooms that would horrify some.

#4.  – Rest Stops – Last resort. Gross, rarely cleaned, and if rumors are to be believed, havens for illicit behavior (dirty sex stuff).

Retail bathrooms are the best, but some are better than others. My top 4 by chain:

#4. – K-mart – Not terrible, it’ll do in a pinch. The toilet paper at K-mart is pretty weak, though.

#3. – Target – Usually decently clean, but fairly busy bathrooms. Not for the shy.

#2. – Toys R Us – Surprisingly clean and usually empty in my experience.

#1. – Wal-mart – Surprising, right? It seems, though, that they have  a several times a day cleaning policy there. Rarely do I ever see a dirty bathroom at a Wal-mart. Also, they usually have two sets of restrooms in a store, one in front, and another in the back by layaway or site-to store pickup. The one in back is usually less busy, mostly used by employees. Also, if you have no shame, they often have a family bathroom in the back, which affords you a totally private experience.

Of course, your results may vary. Get out there, don’t be afraid to poop in public! Remember, everybody poops!

* (#2 is code for poop.)