Cover letter for the position of La Brea Tar Pits Puppeteer: Triceratops and Saber Toothed Cat, Full Suit (part-time)

A cover letter for an actual job with the above title.

To Whom it May Concern,

Attached please find my resume in application for the position of Puppeteer – Triceratops and Saber Toothed Cat Full Suit (part-time) at the LaBrea Tar Pits. As you can see from my resume, my nine years of experience working in the entertainment unions as well as my entirely useless academic background will not lend themselves in any way to success in this role. I also do not enjoy being hot or wearing large heavy costumes. Or interacting with multiple small children at once. All of that said, as nearly anyone on my facebook feed can attest, I am very enthusiastic about puppets (I’ve hosted not one but TWO sock puppet parties) and cats. Certainly more contemporary cats than over-sized hell beast cats with canine incisors the likes of which has not been seen since evolution eradicated the need to fell colossal herbivores with a single chomp — but I digress. Anyway, I like cats and puppets and dinosaurs so I think we’re good to go.
a96a708525b7bb69bfba52e5e2a5c80e
I do have a few questions about the job though – and certainly a cover letter is the place to include those, so I’ll continue. First, you do realize, of course, that you are asking someone to have the range and ability to play Pleistocene as well as cretaceous, right? Who else is applying — Meryl Streep? Not to mention being asked to switch between hunter and hunted, mammal and lizard, with not so much as an act break? Is this an Equity job? Just checking.

Moreover, I would love some advice on preparing for the required audition. In terms of monologue,Brecht or Chekov? Do you have a preference? Because I’ve narrowed it down to Masha from the Seagull or the eponymous Mother Courage.

Finally, according the job post, “a physical examination from a medical doctor” will be required of finalists for the position. Why? Just because you require someone who can “carry 73 pounds on back in a crawling position, supported by arm stilts for periods of approximately 20 minutes multiple times a day. Weight distributed on forearms, shoulders and back. Restrictive straps at chest, waist, arms and thighs. Extremely hot, claustrophobic full suit puppet with limited sight range. Saber toothed cat puppet has animatronics, with internal mechanisms for movement and sound amplification run by external remote control operator”? That seems extreme. I’m more concerned with whether or not I will be able to eat snacks while inside the suit and whether or not the aforementioned animatronics will in anyway prevent me from texting with the other Pleistocene mammals, instagramming pictures of crying children and calling my agent to ask if he’s found me a better gig.

Thank you for your consideration. Please feel free to contact me for references or with questions about my resume. I look forward to hearing from you…. but if I had to be honest I’m really looking for more of a full-time thing.

Sincerely,

Ursula Lawrence

Advertisements

All Female Reboots for 2018

Ramba

Hardened combat vet Jane Ramba (Kate McKinnon) is languishing in a brutal maximum security prison when her former boss, Col. Johnson (Melissa McCarthy), approaches her with a deal. If Ramba goes to Vietnam to help find  American prisoners of war, she will earn her freedom. Ramba accepts the challenge but swears she won’t engage in violent combat. However, when her new  Vietnamese boyfriend Co Bao (Kristen Wiig), is killed by American forces, Ramba takes matters into her own hands and writes a screenplay based on his life. She calls her old college roommate – now a junior VP at Paramount – to pitch the project. Unfortunately, the friend tells her, the studio is just really focused on its own catalog right now and even then only wants something that can be done with minimal rewrites.

Dead Poets’ Society

Karen Johns (Leslie Jones), a young manager in feature development with a bright career ahead of her, leaves the Hollywood rat race to teach English at an all girls prep school in New England. Once there, she unsettles the staid faculty with her radical teaching methods – in particular, assigning students to write screenplays adapted from source material in the public domain. When the mother (Kate McKinnon) of a promising student (a youthful Kristen Wiig) complains to the headmistress (Melissa McCarthy), Karen loses her job. The student is made to sign an in-perpetuity deal with a pretty decent studio — but, changed forever by Karen’s teaching, stands her ground and shuns convention  by accepting a second semester internship at Sony in rights acquisition.

The Shawshank Redemption

Alicia Hobart (Kate McKinnon) is accused of a brutal crime she didn’t commit – and only two days after being fired from a lucrative SVP position at Warner Brothers. Probably, she suspects, for taking too many meetings with writers pitching original screenplays with no proven built-in audience. Sent to prison, she befriends Justine Lomax (Kristen Wiig), who teaches her how to navigate the tough world of a women’s prison – but more importantly, teaches her about life. Alicia, in return, teaches Justine how to request old screenplays from the prison library and rewrite them without compromising the brand. Alicia is eventually exonerated and leaves Justine behind – but not before securing a three picture deal for her at a mini-major with underutilized IP. Years later they are reunited on the red carpet at the Academy Awards where Alicia pretends not to recognize Justine but later runs into her in the bathroom and asks if she’s got “anything good lying around and ready to go.”

Bladerunner

Junior creative exec Jenny Diaz (Leslie Jones) lives in a nightmarish post-apocalyptic future in which the studios have completely run out of IP to reboot. Nonetheless, the evil studio boss (Melissa McCarthy) insists Jenny find at least four more properties in the vault – preferably tent-poles that could go some way towards reversing the studio’s overall losses from Q4 2017. Jenny intends to obey but not before she meets Megan (Kate McKinnon), a VP of current from a rival studio with a vibrant TV division. Over noodles at a hot new ramen place, Megan tells her that she has at least six anthology series that are not yet fully exhausted. Sadly, Megan’’s time as a TV exec is half that of a normal film exec as the turnover on the small screen side is faster than you can say “development hell”. After hearing that Megan’s been fired, Jenny goes to her house and finds a treatment for a series based on a movie based on a true story folded into an origami turmeric shot on the stoop. Ridley Scott on board to direct.

Jaws

A ferocious she-shark (Kate McKinnon) is terrorizing the idyllic beach side community of Amity Island. Her latest kill? A young exec who probably deserved it because she said something to her boss about “maybe just optioning some totally new stuff for women.” The mayor, Mary Murphy (Leslie Jones), disregards the orders of local police chief Amanda Douglas (Kristen Wiig), and insists the beaches stay open “at very least until LA USD starts back up.” Luckily, an indie film producer (Melissa McCarthy) with a mysterious “story editor” credit that no one understands, happens to be vacationing on the island. She rents a boat and taps a grizzled old sea captain (also played by Melissa McCarthy) to help her capture the beast. They don’t find the shark but the film crew she brought along gets some nice b-roll for a new docudrama she’s developing for Netflix (and based loosely on a British series of the same name).

JFK

1963 – Dallas. The first woman president of the United States, Joan Kennedy (Kate McKinnon), has just been assassinated. Theories as to her killer abound but a young D.A. (Kristen Wiig) with something to prove is the only person brave enough to find the truth. Her investigation leads her to a shell-shocked senior VP of production (Leslie Jones) who is trying desperately to inject some much needed franchise-potential into an otherwise dull biopic. The two of them give up looking for the assassin fairly quickly but succeed in obtaining life rights for nearly all of the still-living secondary characters.

Fried Green Tomatoes

Pretty much exactly the same as the original.

Liberté, égalité, kookeré.

Image

In 1793, the French had a revolution – and they decided they needed a new calendar to go with it. The below explains a little bit about how it worked – no knowledge of French history needed — or given for that matter.

The French Revolutionary calendar is comprised of 10 months. One month was comprised of three ten-day weeks. Days were 10 hours long and hours were made up of 100 minutes. A minute lasted 100 seconds. French radicals, drunk on that certain je ne sais quoi of enlightenment rationality, we’re totally into the metric system. They were so drunk, in fact, that their new system actually modified the fundamental length of a second. Seconds got shorter precisely because hours got longer. 10 hours in a day with one hundred one-hundred-second-minutes each, meant that an hour would have taken about 145 “normal” minutes while a second was just .864 times the length of a conventional second. New clocks were manufactured to display decimal time, but weirdly, did not sell well.

Moreover, the revolutionaries decided that the old system of naming months for Greek gods and days for Catholic saints smacked of the Ancien Régime and religious superstition and simply would not do. Instead, they named each month after the environmental condition with which it most corresponds (Snowy! Hot! Harvest Time!). They then designated each day a particular fruit, vegetable, herb or mineral – unless the numerical date ended with a five or a zero, in which case it was named for an animal or a tool. If you’re imagining that life under the French revolutionary calendar was sort of like a never-ending game of 20 questions, you’re probably right.* Imagine trying to make plans…

Pierre: Bonjour Jacques!

Jacques: Bonjour Pierre!

Pierre: I am sorry to hear that your cousin Françoise was beheaded.

Jacques: Oui. But to be fair, he was not a friend of the people.

Pierre: Oui c’est vrai.

Jacques: I do wish I had gotten his recipe for Coq au Vin, though. He made a great Coq au Vin.

Pierre: Yes that is too bad….Speaking of Coq au Vin, we should have lunch next week!

Jacques: Is that in two days or in five days?

Pierre: Next week starts in 3 days.

Jacques: Ah ok. Are you busy on Dandelion day?

Pierre: I am. But I’m totally open on Goat day!

Jacques: Excellent! Goat day lunch in the snowy month it is.

Pierre: Goat day is in the windy month.

Jacques: Right! …. I really need to get one of those page a day calendars.

Pierre: Oui. I recommend it. Also flashcards help. Anyway, I really must go. We’ve been chatting for nearly 100 seconds!

Jacques: A whole minute! Ok – see you next week! Au revoir!

Pierre: Au revoir!

(*Some dramatic license taken here. People actually referred to the days by their decimal names — ie., Second Day or Ninth Day — but that’s still confusing.)

Also, years were reset to one. So for example, today’s date would be Parsley day in the 220th year of the 3rd French Century. I’m not even going to bother figuring out what time it is.

Of course, you can’t actually tinker with lengths of time (even seconds) and not expect things to get a bit thrown off. Or hugely thrown off, in this case. If the system were still in use, there would have been periods where wintery conditions (like, real world January) corresponded with months with names meaning “Summer Heat” or “Flowering.” Moreover, the fact that there were 12 months with 30 days each meant that there were five or six extra days at the end of each year that had to be dealt with. This “intercalary” period was known as the sanculottides – though not because it was pants-optional or even business casual. These “complementary days” were named for the radical peasantry without whom the revolution would never have happened and each day was named for a romantic aspect of this class – virtue, labor, genius, honor, conviction and of course, revolution. Appropriately, workers were to be given these days off. Which was nice, especially considering that under the new calendar everyone had far less free time than they had prior to the revolution (one day of rest for every ten days worked – before the day of rest occurred every 7th day, aka Sunday). Per Robespierre, “Hey Sanscoulottes, just our little way of saying merci!”

In sum, the whole grand experiment was a total mess and no one took to it at all. In fact, Napolean abolished the system entirely in 1805 (or in the 12th year of the first French century). The calendar was revived briefly in 1871 during the Paris commune where it was used for a brief, and no doubt frustrating, 18 days. The legacy of the calendar is also pretty slim. Students of political theory are familiar with the month of Brumaire, of course, and according to wikipedia, the dish Lobster Thermidor is at least indirectly related to the month of the same name (Thermidor — not lobster).

Below see the original decree making that made the new calendar law. If you don’t really care about the history but just want to know what crazy day it is, go here: www.twitter.com/JacobinCalendar.

Image

Buy My Life Rights! An FAQ for Interested Investors.

Why should I invest in your life rights?

GREAT QUESTION. Nothing can get made in Hollywood these days that isn’t based on some sort of source material. If you want to make a movie that isn’t based on a real life event or spun off from a book, newspaper article, sketch comedy show, video game, amusement park ride or celebrity tweet you might as well give up now – it’s not getting made. So what’s a budding film investor to do? Option! But there’s a problem there, too… rights are expensive and almost everything is taken. But guess what hasn’t been optioned? That’s right — my life story! Bam!

What is the scope of the rights I am about to buy?

I asked my lawyer about this. He was all, ‘basically you can do whatever you want with them once you buy them.’ You can make a movie, write a book, develop a tv show, and produce action figures, parade floats or even snacks such as sandwich cookies shaped like my cat or cheese doodles the color of my hair. He also said a bunch of legal stuff that I didn’t understand including something about exclusive rights in this universe as well as any and all future universes – which, if you think about it, is a pretty good deal. We don’t even know if future universes exist, yet you would already own something in them. Talk about starting with a leg up! Plus I believe I have a lot of intergalactic appeal.

What makes your life story interesting? Have you overcome adversity – physical, mental or otherwise?

Did you see that movie about a guy who gets his arm stuck under a bolder in a remote part of the desert and has to amputate it in order to free himself and save his own life?? That was a true story! I have not done that. I broke my wrist once at summer camp and after spending 24 hours applying ice packs in the infirmary the camp nurse finally agreed to take me to a local hospital for treatment. That was an ordeal! Also, I was illiterate until I was nearly five years old. Eventually, however, I overcame surmountable odds and learned to read. I have very few memories of those early years but I have no doubt that I persevered even as the stigma of illiteracy was most keenly felt.

What about romance? Have you ever “met cute” a future partner or had a steamy, forbidden affair?

I have met several nice young men online – though their life rights will have to be negotiated independently.

Have you been witness to or taken part in any notable historic events?

Who do you think you are, Merchant Fancypants Ivory?

But if you insist… I survived the great blizzards of 78,79,80, 81-87, 88, 89, 90, 91-93 and 94 – 2011. I also voted for the first black president.

I am buying the rights to your entire life — do you have any plans for the future that might make a good story? Do you plan to go on any adventures or take on any formidable challenges? What can I expect over the next several decades?

I fear change and  generally seek to minimize all risk of physical harm. My motto is “safety first!” and my other motto is “fear the unknown!” I also avoid setting unattainable goals, am conflict averse and aim to maintain the status quo in all aspects of my life.

What else do I get for the money?

I will throw in my cat’s life rights, too – if the price is right.

Are there domain names available that might be of use to me once I own your life rights?

Yes! Unfortunately, www.ursulathemovie.com is taken. As is www.ursula.com and www.ursula-themovie.com. That said www.amovieaboutursulafilm.info and www.ursula-thefilm.tv are both still unregistered as of this writing! I have also owned www.geocities.com/ursulamovie since 1996.

How much?

One million dollars OBO

Blood Drive Apology Letter

Last week  everyone who works in my office building received an email from the building management. The subject line was “A New Bulletin Has Been Posted for 250 Hudson” and the body of the email read “Blood drive apology letter.” No such letter was attached however, and as I had (perhaps wisely) not attended the blood drive the week before, I had no idea what management might be apologizing for. I have some ideas though. What follows is what I imagine the missing letter might have said…

Dear Tenant,

The Management would like to offer a sincere apology for last week’s blood drive. Several factors marred the event and we felt it was appropriate to offer the following explanation(s). Please feel free to contact us with additional questions or concerns.

First and foremost, we regret that the blood drive staff was somewhat under qualified. In retrospect we recognize that this was primarily a scheduling error — as any good New Yorker knows, it is nearly impossible to find a good phlebotomist in the city during the month of August. Unfortunately, with all our reliable blood drawers down the shore, we were forced to recruit from the ranks of itinerant labor who congregate daily in the parking lot of the New Brunswick Home Depot. As it turns out, learning how to properly draw blood is  not “one of those things” that can be easily learned by watching an eHow video. Ditto if English is not your first language and you are watching the video on someone’s phone in the back of a pickup truck en route from New Jersey.

Furthermore, it was probably ill-advised to hold the drive on Bring Your Child to Work Day. As a rule, the Red Cross does not require that individuals under the age of 8 indicate whether they’ve ever had sex with a man who’s had sex with another or man or used intravenous drugs since the year 1977. As another rule, the Red Cross does not take blood donors under age 8  – our bad.

For anyone who wanted to give blood but was told they were ineligible due to borough of residence, we stand corrected — the Bronx is technically not a malarial region.

Sorry, too about the spillage, the hepatitis, the vampires and the vampire bat.

In closing, we would like to once again offer our most heartfelt regret. We look forward to seeing everyone at the “do-over” blood drive in October (Halloween themed!) — this time there is absolutely no chance we will forget the apple juice and cookies.

Sincerely,

Building Management

Cultural Capital for Chimps

A study released this spring claims that chimpanzees, like humans, mimic the actions of higher status members of their groups. Of course, being a sociology nerd, I immediately thought of Bourdieu — as did the author of this article. Here’s the relevant passage:

“In societies around the globe certain influential figures, to use the concept of anthropologist and philosopher Pierre Bourdieu, benefit from “cultural capital” because of their social prestige in a given society. (…)Now, a new study (sic) suggests that prestige is an important factor in other primates as well. By employing a simple behavioral experiment these researchers demonstrated that chimpanzees, when given a choice between two nearly identical tasks, will choose the one they previously witnessed a high-ranking member of the troop perform.”

Very exciting news. But how will these chimps make sense of this new observation? Shouldn’t someone rerelease Distinction, but adapted to this new audience? I thought so.  To that end, here is my small contribution to the monkey sociology canon.

Scenes from my spec scripts of The Wire and Friday Night Lights.

As writers we should always be working to develop our skills, learn new voices, hone our craft, blah blah blah. On the other hand, sometimes it’s easier to just come to terms with our  limitations and move on.  For example, there are some tv shows that, as much as I may enjoy them, I could never attempt to write. As evidence, here are two excerpts from my as-yet-unwritten spec scripts of The Wire and Friday Night Lights.

The Wire

Open on:

A desolate urban corner. Late afternoon.  The decline of the American city — laid to waste by deindustrialization, the dismantling of the social safety net and endemic  racism  — is evidenced by the boarded up windows, a non-working stop light and general blight. The blight is, in fact, quite general.

A DISAFFECTED YOUNG MAN – about 20 years old – African American, leans against a wall of one of the buildings. A very nice car enters the frame and pulls up next to the young man. A MAN gets out of the car. He is also African American, he wears a suit and is about 30 years old.

Disaffected Young Man: Hey. What’s up?

Man: Hey. I’m looking for some drugs.

Disaffected Young Man: I don’t know anything about drugs. Don’t talk to me. I will get mad!

Man: Come on! I know you know where some are. Either the kind you smoke or the other kind. Give me them!

Disaffected Young Man: Please leave my sight. I’m not kidding around!

Man: Give me the drugs!

Disaffected Young Man: I’m serious. I have weapons.

Man: Plural?

Disaffected Young Man: Well, some other people I know also have weapons and we will look for you and possibly hurt you.

Man: Look. Even though I recognize that my animosity towards you is caused by — and is central to the reproduction of —  the deeply racist ideology that maintains our shared oppression and economic  marginalization, I am still very angry at you.

Disaffected Young Man: I share that opinion. Nonetheless, how do I know you’re not a cop?

Man: If I were a cop would it matter?

Disaffected Young Man: That’s true. Even the institutions that we accept as legitimate maintain their authority through force as well as other, more subtle, means of coercion. Also, some cops like drugs.

Man: Yes. I like drugs.

Disaffected Young Man: So it’s true. The corruption is coming from within the system.

Man: Meh.

Disaffected Young Man: I will take you to the drugs. But I still hate you.

Man: You suck.


Friday Night Lights


It’s Friday night. The Panther’s arena (or area where they play football… field?) is packed with fans. It seems like the whole town of Dillon is out for the Big Game. Everyone is dressed in blue and yellow.

The PANTHERS are on the field. Also, there is ANOTHER TEAM. They are dressed in purple and white uniforms. Everyone is wearing a helmet. Except the COACH. The coach does not wear a helmet.

Coach: Throw the ball! Do it!

They play football.

Referee: They did it! They scored a point! It’s official!

The crowd rejoices and the Panthers look happy. The other team looks sad.