It’s 3 AM… Is This A Blog?

I was asked to write a “blog” for The Almost Guys website. I’m going to be honest. I’m not crazy about the idea. I don’t read blogs. It’s probably the name that initially put me off the whole trend. Blog is a horrible name. Is it short for something? I don’t know and I’m not really interested enough to find out. I’m also very traditional about the written word. I know it’s old-fashioned but words should be on pages that have a smell. And you should be able to put a coffee cup on top of people’s ideas. They seem to carry more weight that way.

A “blog,” as I see it, is a journal. Right? Honestly, I’m not against writing journals or diaries… if, you know, you’re a thirteen year-old girl. When I was a kid, Journals were “Private Journals” and Diaries were kept locked. I remember how junior high school girls squealed and clutched those cloth-covered books to their chests if you ever found yourself lucky enough to be inside their rooms and threatened to take their journals and read from the multi-colored inked pages.

So, blogging is basically writing a journal and posting it on the world wide web for everyone. That includes 1.3 billion Chinese (if they can translate your precious musings) and over a billion in India (many speak English, or something that sounds vaguely like English when I call my credit card company and ask them to waive my late fee). Why does everything have to be so public? Reality shows and thousands of hours of video-taped lives. I can’t stand to watch one more TV show with families submitting home videos of their kids hitting their father in the nuts in an infinite variety of ball-racking scenarios. Everything private is now on display for public consumption. Those guys who do the Jackass show on MTV even take shits in public. And worse, I laughed. I laughed pretty hard, actually.

The first question that comes to mind as I write this blog is, “Who gives a shit?” What kind of jackass really thinks that what he has to say is so fucking riveting that insomniacs will stumble upon it and read until the sun comes up? What do you write about? Funny stories? Hi-brow for the intelligentsia (whoever they are)? Low-brow for the groundlings? When I was nineteen I had an attack of food poisoning and got explosive diarrhea on a Greyhound bus traveling to Boston. Is that a topic for a blog? It was funny and disgusting. They probably had to de-commission the bus after I was through with it. And the final insult was that the beautiful girl seated next to me got up to use the bathroom after I was finished. She walked down the aisle, opened the door, quickly slammed it shut and came back to the seat next to me. Is that the kind of stuff people like to read? I could write about standing in line for the Tower of Terror ride at Disneyland next to the world’s most intolerant, bigoted transvestite. She/he kept referring to a group of minorities as “a bunch of freaks.” And then she/he was angry with another group of kids who were “rowdy weirdos.” He was six foot three and wore a dress with a delicate floral pattern. How about a little tolerance, fella’… or, lady? Is that a blog topic? How about battling depression? Existential despair?

Hollywood. Working in Hollywood. That’s the kind of stuff I’m expected to write about, here. Honestly, though, it’s a horrible business and it’s painful to talk about it. Okay, here’s a couple quick examples…

I’m developing a television show right now. The notes I received on my last draft of the pilot were, “It’s too smart.” So, now what? Make it stupid? Does America really demand stupid programming?I took an old college friend to a celebrity party in the Hollywood Hills and we got drunk and mooned an ex-member of The Monkees. Fortunately, the mooned Monkee was pretty hammered as well. I’m not proud of that. But does it make for good blogging? Probably. A week later I was having dinner at an old Hollywood haunt with Michael Keaton (shameless name-dropping that we love so much in this business) and Michael says, “Don’t turn around now, but there’s a Monkee behind you.” I turn around immediately and see the same Monkee that I mooned the week before. I didn’t see recollection register on his face, but I kept my ass hidden. I’ve since learned how to behave at parties with celebrities and the lesson here is: watch who you show your ass to, Hollywood is a small town.I once delivered a pitch over a speaker phone in a conference room to a studio executive who was getting his tires replaced at a garage and I had to keep shouting over the pneumatic tool that tightens the lug nuts.I turned down directing the teen comedy, American Pie. Probably not the best decision of my career and the kind of thing that may send the weaker ones off the roof, but the draft that Universal sent me was titled, “East Grand Rapids High.” It’s really all in the name, isn’t it? If it had been called “American Pie” at the time, I would have jumped at it. Heartbreak. Near-misses. Soul-crushing disappointment. That’s Hollywood.We all want to show-off. Don’t we? That’s what blogging really comes down to. We’re obsessed with media attention and we all want to experience the ephemeral joy of having the klieg lights sweep over us – if even for just a moment – to be lit up like a satellite for everyone to see. It’s something we can cling to through the dark, 3am moments of existential despair. Or maybe it’s just cool to see our names and pictures somewhere. We are all convinced that we’re a click away from being discovered. You don’t have to come out to Hollywood and hang out in diners like the starlets of old. You can just sit in your boxers, eating and farting in an uncomfortable chair and publish your own videos and blogs on a laptop. “Hey, look at me. I’ve got a blog. I don’t have shit to say, but I’m writing stuff anyway. I’m gonna’ put my limited vocabulary and the rudimentary arithmetic of my own reason on display for the whole world to pick through. And here’s a bad digital picture of me, too.”So, I’ll give the blog a try. Just forgive me if it isn’t spectacular or inspired. Don’t give me notes. I get enough notes and criticism from development executives. If you think it sucks… well… with over a billion people in India, there’s gotta’ be somebody in, let’s say Punjab, who might find it mildly interesting at 3am, India Standard Time.

– Eric Fleming

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