Carpenter Quest: My Six Year Adventure To Meet A Personal Hero

We all have those people we always would have wanted to meet, people who have done great work in the military, politics, public service, and of course, those who influence us in the realm of fiction and imagination. Being an aspiring storyteller, one director who has been a great influence on me is John Carpenter. I had been wanting to meet Carpenter for some time, and yesterday marked a satisfying conclusion to that quest spanning some six years.

Not only is Carpenter an auteur of the horror genre with such classics as Halloween and The Thing, but he has also explored romance with Starman, comedy with Big Trouble In Little China, action with Escape From New York, satire with They Live, and suspense with Assault on Precinct 13. Carpenter is easily in my top ten favorite directors, nestled alongside other masters such as Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, and Hayao Miyazaki. I came close to meeting the director before, but sadly missed my chance back in college.

I had started to frequent horror film conventions in high school and soon found myself going to a little place called HorrorHound. At such places, I met figures like Michael Biehn, Linda Hamilton, Lance Henrisken, even Jamie Lee Curtis. One convention however, I missed the chance to get my ticket. I think it may have been school, concerns about money. For whatever reason, I just didn’t pick up that ticket while I had the chance. The star guest at that convention was John Carpenter.

I didn’t exactly feel dejected. I had assumed there would be another chance. After-all he was only 63. What could possibly happen? At that time I don’t think it had quite sunk in that life, sadly, has an expiration date.

The last few years were eventful, from graduating college, to starting my book, to moving out of the country and into the city. Our friend over at Monster Legacy was even lucky enough to catch one of Carpenter’s live shows on his recent musical tour. However, last year I began to wonder if my chance to meet the director had passed me by. I blew the chance, I thought. That was my one opportunity to meet Carpenter and I’ll never get it again.

Then I got a message on social media. Carpenter was appearing at The Grove in Los Angeles to sign copies of the recently released book on the making of Big Trouble In Little China, possibly my favorite film by the director.

I think what persuaded me to take the chance was the passing of Leah Adler, mother to another favorite director Steven Spielberg. I frequented Leah’s restaurant, having eaten there some five or six times I had planned to go again upon the completion of my seventh draft of my novel to celebrate. I figured it would be a better idea to wait and not spend too much money. I also had a fantasy of taking my family to the restaurant and meeting the hostess. Neither of those things will ever happen. Ironically, I missed those opportunities for the same reason I missed meeting Carpenter back in college.

Was that just who I was, I wondered? Was I just the kind of guy who played it safe?

Yesterday I finally threw my arms up with a resounding “Fuck it.” In death Leah taught me it was okay to take a chance, to fly off the handle and just go for it every once in a while. Yesterday I went for it. I rolled up a poster, brought a couple of copies of the book for some friends, and called into work. I took the day off.

I left for The Grove at eight twenty and waited for the next six hours. I explored some of the stores, got a ten dollar bag of candy, jotted down some notes on various books and scripts, and waited. I could barely sit still as the clock ticked ever closer to two o’clock. Perhaps I had missed something and wouldn’t be able to meet him after all. Something had to go wrong, right?

No. On this day everything went right. I was towards the front of the line on account of being early. It was moving fast so it would only be a few moments for us to speak while he signed the books and poster.

There was a question I always wanted to ask Carpenter.

“When are the Coupe De Villes having a comeback tour?” For those who don’t know, that is Carpenter’s band which he had with Nick Castle (who played the killer in Halloween) and Tommy Lee Wallace (who went on to direct Halloween III and It). The trio are referenced numerous times in Carpenter’s films, and even did the incredibly fun theme song for Big Trouble In Little China.

Carpenter laughed and said “Nah man. We’re too old.”

He signed my poster and books. I told him thank you and wished him a pleasant day, and he wished me the same. In an unexpected perk, I was able to get a quick picture taken with the director to commemorate our brief encounter.

meeting-carpenter

I know I’m still young at twenty eight years old, but the last few years have been urgent and fearful for me. I am about a third of the way done with the ride that is life, maybe a little more, maybe a little less depending on the choices I make. But I head towards death with not the same optimism I once had. As chances pass my by in life I really wonder if that is the end and no other opportunities will present themselves.

What happened yesterday taught me that there is such a thing as second chances. If I can get a second chance at meeting as talented an artist as John Carpenter, who knows what other opportunities will present themselves? I just need to keep my eye out and do what I did yesterday, and not be afraid to seize those moments.

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Godspeed Lady Spielberg: A Tribute To Leah Adler.

Last night I got a text from a friend informing me that Leah Adler, mother of Steven Spielberg and restauranteur extraordinaire, passed away at 97. She went peacefully as I understand, in the company of family and friends.

I was fortunate enough to meet Leah a few years ago, and it is an evening I shall always treasure. It is easy to forget when you look at someone famous that they are people just like the rest of us, fortunate though they are. Steven and Leah shared a wonderful relationship for these last 70 years, and my heart goes out to him and his family for suffering this terrible loss.

Many articles have flooded the internet about her passing, and most of them I’ve noticed don’t really talk about her as a person too much. This is a shame as Leah was a very unique human being who even without her family’s fame is someone I would have loved to know better. After searching the internet, I decided to put together a little tribute to Leah, talk about her life, her outlook, some experiences she had with Steven, and the night that I was lucky enough to meet her.

Aleha ha-shalom.

I am blessed to have known you, however brief.

The Lady With The Peter Pan Haircut: A Tribute To Leah Adler

The Ideas Have Already Begun

It has been four days since I completed my 6th draft of my novel, the fantasy adventure epic Never Heroes. Though the draft is done, the writing continues. It there is one thing I’ve learned about this writing oriented head of mine, it’s that the old fella doesn’t much like to rest.

The ideas have already started coming in.

It is a curious thing about writing. Sometimes your best ideas only come when you have bad writing in front of you. That’s really where writer’s block comes from, fear of writing crap. Sometimes however, that’s the best way to write good stuff. Write some crap and then you can look at it, recognize why it is crap, and fix it.

This is not to say I believe my novel is crap of course, but it is not without its issues. Now that I can see the issues, that is one step closer to fixing them.

To edit a draft may well be the most fun you’ll have during the writing process. For instance you’ll see a bad line of dialogue in front of you, you’ll look it over, write an alternative, and then you can pat yourself on the back for giving your story an extra bit of spice.

Still, I’m working to restrain the old neural pathways. I have some other scripts that need a good fixing instead. I’m mainly focusing on Scarlet Gate, my werewolf script. Aside from the novel, that script is the one project I have that’s the closest to where I want it. I figure focusing on another nearly completed project would be a much better option than just starting a new one right out of the gate.

I’ll be starting more new ones once the book has been finished proper. Hopefully I can restrain myself from jumping directly into the sequel.

 

6 Drafts Down

The idea for my fantasy adventure epic began ten years ago. Back in 2013 I finally decided to bring the idea to life in my screenwriting classes. In the summer of 2014 I began writing it as a book with friends and family contributing their stunning artwork and creative input. In 2015 I completed a third draft and thought that would be the end of it.

In the opening months of 2017 I completed a sixth draft of my fantasy/adventure epic, Never Heroes. It runs 18 chapters, 431 pages, 161,124 words, and gives me the feeling that we’re at long last almost finished.

Zhyx the Red Dragon meets River

In this illustration, Zhyx the red dragon meets his longtime companion, River the Flatlander, for the first time in the fantasy adventure novel, Never Heroes.

The story of Zhyx the Great Red Wyrm, more simply known as ‘Red’ and how he is shoehorned into becoming a great hero, has been a passion of mine that has spanned almost a decade. I thought completion was near last year before we hired an editor, who actually charged a pretty reasonable price for her services. Given my current economic situation, I couldn’t resist.

I received much constructive criticism during that time, and of course because of that I realized the story was far from finished. There were many flaws in the narrative I cooked up. Inconsistencies that could not be excused no matter how hard I tried. It was time to do another draft. I began the process back in November of last year.

Heavy the Dragon and River

The giant dragon Heavy drools at the prospect of eating River, one of the protagonists in the upcoming fantasy novel, Never Heroes.

It was the biggest overhaul the novel went through since I made the transition from first draft to second. Originally the story followed the prototypical chosen one narrative, with the chosen hero of course being the dragon. That idea was immediatly nixed. A relatively minor villain was another dragon known as Heavy. He quickly rose the ranks to become one of the antagonists with the most exposure.

But the changes weren’t enough. My climax was stale and tedious, characters were introduced and discarded when they should have been expanded on, other characters were expanded on when they didn’t warrant that much focus. These were just the beginnings of some of me and my editor’s many issues with that last manuscript, the 20 chapter, 382 page, 138,640 word draft five. As of now, most of the big issues have been dealt with, to varying degrees of success.

Zhyx The Giant Red Dragon

The final illustration for the novel, Never Heroes. This images shows the colossal red dragon, Zhyx, towering over the adventurer Major Celice Arietta who has come to steal his favorite piece of treasure.

So what awaits Never Heroes now? As much as I would like, work isn’t done just yet. There is still a final polish to go through in order to fix things up so it will be presentable and better paced, but after that I shall finally, both literally and figuratively, close the book on my first novel.

I’ll be letting the manuscript rest in the meantime before this final push to the two most liberating words any writer can ever type. The End.