Other Worlds

28 03 2008

Today, the Scribble prompts us with “Out Of This World”. Though the clear encouragement is to discuss space and the like, I’ve decided on a slightly different tack. I hope you don’t mind.

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Other worlds exist. I know this to be true. I’ve visited a few myself. The thing about these visits though, is that it’s technically untrue to say that I’ve visited. For you see, when I enter these worlds different from our own, I’m not really myself anymore.

Some of these worlds are vastly different from the one you and I spend most of our time. Some are eerily similar, with one or two things different. Some seem to exist in this world, but in a different time. Often times, I kid you not, they pay me to visit.

The first time I was paid for visiting, I found myself propositioning a seventeenth century whore in France. As she and I walked across the dirt road to my shabby home, four vampires in human form walked by. One of those vampires would become pregnant, and then sacrifice herself for the sake of her child. Another of those vampires would be the father of that child, and would evntually find his soul again and become a champion. That was a fun world to visit.

Less fun was the world in which I was one of a group of Mexican travellers, filthy and sweaty, journeying through the sweltering canyons in search of the Virgin Mary’s image upon the stones. Hundreds of us, some family, most strangers, walked for miles and miles to glimpse the side of the rocky wall. I can’t honestly say whether or not I saw what I sought, but I did see a shimmering light, a reflection, maybe, and I knew intuitively that everyone else saw it, too. We all looked on, hopefully, eagerly.

Then there was the time that I was mostly myself. I was at the Food Court in one of the malls of this world. We were in Los Angeles. I was enjoying my day, almost ready to resume shopping, when suddenly there was an announcement: “Attention, attention! Please evacuate the mall immediately! Repeat: please evacuate the mall immediately!” We later learned that foreign terrorists had released a deadly gas through the ventillation system of the mall. As we ran toward the exits, I spotted many who were not as fortunate as I was. Frothing at the mouth, bleeding at the eyes, dying. The horror of the situation remains with me to this day. Were it not for a hero named Jack, and the rest of his unit, who knows how many more would have suffered the same fate?

On a lighter note, there was the time I was in what appeared to be our world, but in the 1970’s. I was at a dance club, when two men — one short and with curly hair, the other tall and blonde with a long-ago-broken nose — entered. The short one was clearly hopped up on some kind of drug, so he barely noticed when he bumped into another man. Oh, but he noticed when the other man challenged him to a Dance Off. And oh, what fun it was to watch and cheer for the two competitors.

There exists a world where I am a high school student in a town called Arcadia, where Joan, a fellow student, believes she can see and have conversations with God. There’s a world in which I’m at a club that Big Momma barrels through to catch the bad guy. There’s a world where I’m a student at a fictional college where everyone is Accepted.

I’ve been spared by the evil vampire Angelus, saved by Jack Baur, and I’ve seen both Starsky and Hutch. Because between “Action!” and “Cut!”, these worlds truly do exists. They aren’t actors playing parts, they are realities unfolding.

People ask me sometimes why I want to be an actor. I say, why wouldn’t you want to live a life where everyday the impossible becomes not only possible, but probable? I wouldn’t want anything else.

— ldi





Dear 7-11 Cashier

28 03 2008

Dear 7-11 Cashier –

Hey, man. What’s up? Not much with me. Cool.

So, I don’t wanna seem like a dick, but I have a quick request: when I’m buying a thing of ice cream from your store, and the little placard thingie says that it will be $4.99, and then you ring it up, and you and I can both clearly see that the total is $4.99 because the LED states it on your and my side of the register in nice, bold, big green numbers, please don’t tell me that my total is in fact $5.oo. Then, when I mention this discrepency, please don’t argue with me like I’m not right, and claim that there’s a single cent in tax, when we both know that’s a complete fabrication on your part.

Furthermore, once we’ve sorted all that out, please don’t proceed to get all pissy with me when I ask for my receipt. I think in general, and I’m not trying to tell you how to do your job, you should maybe just assume that all customers want their receipt. Just, you know, go ahead and offer it to them all, and if they don’t want it, they’ll probably ask you to throw it away, or they’ll throw it away themselves. I’ll bet you’re concerned because you think that if it gets thrown away, the company’s losing money, and your boss will fire you, right? Is that it? Well, let me assure you, 7-11 Cashier, that the company expects customers to want their receipt. They actually count on it. I promise.

Thanks a lot for your time.

— ldi





The King Has Entered The Small Building

28 03 2008

I just finished watching the movie The Mist, based on the Stephen King novella of the same name. For what it’s worth, I enjoyed it. I remember hearing some complaints about the ending, and now that I’ve seen in, I sorta get it, but really, how would you have ended it? The world is saved, everyone lives prosperous lives, the dead are revived, the disgruntled are settled, and the two arguing groups find common ground? I say there’s a place for a swell, happy ending, but it just wouldn’t have fit here. I’m not sure the ending they decided on fit here either, but like Frank Darabont or Stephen King mention, “There was like, two hours of movie before the ending.” Well put, Frank Darabont or Stephen King.

But this is not a movie review.

No, today we talk about something that’s been bothering me of late. The subject of violence in movies. Note, please, that it’s not the violence itself that bothers me. Recently, a work friend of mine invited me to a table read of a script written by a kinda-friend of his. Afterwards, this work friend of mine and I talked about the script. Without giving too much of the story away, I’ll just tell you that most of the script is a relatively dark comedy. However, about halfway into the script, a couple of guys discuss some killings which included some pretty gruesome torture. Later still, a main character himself is tortured to within an inch of his life.

I don’t mind violence in movies. I don’t even mind torture in movies. I’ve seen all the SAW movies, and as long as they keep having interesting twists that I don’t expect at the end, I’ll probably continue seeing them. No, I don’t mind violence in movies; I do mind violence in movies where the violence just doesn’t fit. If you include a graphically violent scene in a movie, you better either be making a movie where the violence is the reason for the movie, or a movie that has earned that violent scene.

This kinda-friend of a work friend of mine’s movie neither had non-stop violence, nor earned the violence it did have. When I mentioned this to that work friend, he disagreed, which is cool. However, his main point seemed to be that these days, you need to have the violence in order to sell the movie.

So I guess what I’d like to do is to clarify what I mean by earning your violence. Because I refuse to believe that mindless violence is really what people want these days, and if you haven’t earned your violence, then your violence is, indeed, mindless. So, how do you earn it? I say two ways: character and story.

Yeah, I know. You’ve heard all this before. But that’s because it’s true. Why do I care that somebody just got decapitated? Or impaled? Or eaten? I don’t. Unless, that is, you’ve made me care. Let me know who these people are. I don’t need their whole life history, but I’d like to know a bit more than, “This guy is scared because someone is chasing them. And the someone chasing them is angry because the script told them to be.”

I used to be a fan of horror movies. But recently, I saw a billboard for some movie. Maybe it was The Ruins, I’m not sure. That was so weird to me. Even as I was looking at the billboard, I wasn’t sure what it was. As far as I’m concerned, so many of these recent “horror” movies are interchangeable. P2, The Ruins, Captivity… I don’t know what these are anymore. I really have no interest in seeing them, and that leads me to believe that that’s because they aren’t being advertised well, and that leads me to believe that that’s because the studios just don’t care anymore. As long as people are flocking, why change? Of course, it’s really just a cyclical practice, right? At first, when SAW came out, people flocked because it was something kind of new. Then the studios started making more and more, and eventually that’s all there was, so people had no real choice but to see the movies. Remember when The Real Cancun came out, and everyone was freaked because if this was popular enough, it might have meant the end of scripted movies? So, when it bombed, everyone breathed a sigh of relief? Remember that? Well, the truth is that if the studios had kept at it, kept making “reality movies,” eventually they would have become successful. People won’t stop going to the movies, so if they give us fewer options, we’ll just have to take it.

So I had all but lost my faith in horror movies.

I just finished watching The Mist. Thank you. Thank you for making a movie about, get this, people. There’s the dad who wants to keep his son safe (and thankfully, it never gets into cheesy Tom-Cruise-War-Of-The-Worlds territory, where danger makes him realize that he should be a better father), the woman convinced this danger is the wrath of a vengeful god, the man who rather be smart and dead than foolish and alive, the soldier in love. So, what did all this character building and backstory and history accomplish? It made the deaths matter. When one person died, or killed another, it impacted us. It wasn’t just another death to get the killer closer to another death to get the killer closer to the eventual showdown with the hero.

And these character building moments, combined with keeping the monsters shrouded in mystery for a while, made the violent images stronger, because we a) cared about the people, and b) knew that the movie had accomplished so much with so little, so that when they finally did show us stuff, it stood out.

So thank you, The Mist, for letting me enjoy a horror movie again. And really, thank you Stephen King. You’ve given us worldwide horrors, nightmares personified, and literal battles between Good and Evil. But I’d say some of your best stuff comes from throwing a small group of people into a cramped building or room, tossing in a threat, and seeing how they react.

— ldi





Stating A Mission

26 03 2008

Hmmmm… I’ve been thinking a bit about this blog recently. Haven’t been writing a whole helluva lot in it, but I’ve been thinking. The way it all started was that my fiancee started a blog a good while ago, and she eventually got something of a fan base, and she then encouraged me to start one of my own.

So I decided, what the heck? I had been maintaining a blog over at myspace for a couple of years, but I was always very aware of who was reading the thing. Granted, there weren’t many reading it, but all who were were people I actually know. Which was the problem. Because, you see, when you know the people who read what you write, and they are also the people who, chances are, you’re going to be writing about, it makes it difficult to be completely honest. Not that I’m a lying bastard who has many faces or anything, but let’s face it, sometimes we shroud the truth a little. Like, I love all my friends dearly, and I can tell them anything, but I might sometimes choose not to. Or I might fear that if I write something, void as writing is of inflection and tone, it might be interpreted as serious when I meant it as sarcastic. Or, and this was really my main concern, my little cousin was a reader of the blog, and sometimes I’m angry or upset at my family, or something’s going on that I don’t want them to know about just yet, and so I would have to choose not to blog about something for fear that it would get back to them. Didn’t I deserve a place where I could be completely who I am, without fear of hurting someone’s feelings just by expressing my own?

I thought I did.

And so I came to wordpress. And I was full of positive energy, thinking here finally was that place. And what did I do? Did I write honestly? Express myself truthfully? Well, yes. And also not yes. Everything I’ve blogged so far in this blog has been honest. I’ve not lied, but the thing is, going back through the small amount I’ve contributed, I realize that it doesn’t really sound like me. Everything is how I feel, but it’s not necessarily how I’d say it if I was talking to someone.

Thing is, I’m a funny guy. I wonder if that’s shown through here so far. Another thing about me is that I don’t always know what I’m saying, even as I’m saying it. And yet, with every post here, save for the dialogue with the two guys talking about finding a wallet, I’ve gone to great lengths to make sure that I was impressed with what I’d written. What I mean is that I’ve tried very hard to make you, the hypothetical reader, think, “Wow. Here’s a guy who is smart and sweet, and other things that I deem positive.” And the thing is, as much as I really do want you to like me, I want you to like me, and I’m not sure you know me yet.

Which begs the question, “How is blogging to impress you different than blogging to spare friends’ feelings?” I say it’s not different.

People so often feel the need to impress, no? Like, talk to a guy fancies himself a film-fan. Ask that guy for his top five favorites. You’ll hear things like, Welcome to the Dollhouse or The Seventh Seal or Casablanca. You won’t hear, for example, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare or Road Trip or the remake of Assault on Precinct 13. Which is not to say that that first group isn’t genuinely on that movie fan’s list, nor that that second group isn’t particularly bad. It is to say, however, that that second group would never even be considered as an answer because the guy answering is trying desperately to impress the guy asking. I’ll go obscure or classic or foriegn, they think. That’ll do the trick.

So, how to get over that and make this blog a genuine insight into my psyche? Well, I think I’ve figured out a way. See, one of the reasons I blog so rarely is that I always want to have something important-seeming to say. And then, on top of that, I want to say it in a way that sounds deep or wise. So what I’ve decided is that I will make a goal for myself to blog at least three times every week. What this will do is force me to sit down and say something. Chances are I won’t have three well-worked-out things to say every week, but that’s kind of the point. I’m trying to get over being “perfect,” and trying instead for genuine.

In real life, I stumble over words, I think I know things that I don’t and therefore make a fool of myself, I tell stories that don’t have endings or points. I’m flawed. I’d like to start reflecting that.

If you do know me, and I write about something in here one day and you’re convinced I’m talking about you, and you feel a certain way about it, let me know. Let’s start a dialogue. I’m a pretty open guy, so chances are you won’t read something here that comes as a complete shock, but like I said, I’m going to try not to censor myself because it might upset you.

Who knows if this whole thing will work out. For all I know, couple weeks from now, there’s another post, “I’ve decided to write a post a month, but it will be the most perfect, enlightening, eye-opening post ever… until the following month.” Who knows? Let’s find out together.

— ldi





Explain This To Me

21 03 2008

Another Sunday Scribble, this time about what confuses me, what I just don’t get.

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You know, when you think about all the ways it shouldn’t have happened, wouldn’t have happened, couldn’t possibly have happened, it’s a wonder. When you think about all the things that had to line up in exactly the right way, had to fall into place just so, it’s pretty amazing.

And yet it did happen. You were at that camp, I was forced to go to that camp. I, the shy kid who never made any friends, felt a connection with you, the beautiful girl who has trouble being around large groups of people. That connection was so strong that we both got over our independent fears of being sociable, and we began to talk. There were others, sure, friends we made, phone numbers we exchanged. But I think, even if we didn’t know it at the time, when each of those other connections was severed, it made sense. Those other connections were never meant to be for the long haul. Those other connections were best friends, which eventually turned into camp friends, and again eventually into, “What was her name?”s. And it made sense. But, even as that was happening, and we were sad about the loss, I think we knew. We knew that we weren’t destined for that. Our connection was meant for the long haul.

And even once that was established, and we didn’t have to worry about losing touch, the world kept lining things up just so. Neither of us kissed the other first. Instead, we both just fell into the kiss, like it had always been there, waiting for us to find it. And who said, “I love you” first? In the darkness, I whispered it. Then you said it, slightly louder. I almost didn’t respond, assuming you were responding to me. In the silence, I said it again, only later learning that you had never heard me that first time. We are the only two people who have ever both said, “I love you” first. That makes us magical.

And even when nobody else understood us, when nobody else accepted us, the world still was on our side. When one of us would move to another city, making the distance between us even further, the other of us would just happen to be moving as well, keeping that distance the same. That is, of course, until the fateful move that shortened that distance to no further than the next room over. Yes, and even that was fated. Your job made the move to Los Angeles mandatory, while my career necessitated the same move.

Then came the real test: would living together, seeing each other every day, become a nightmare that neither of us expected? No. Instead, it led to neither one of us proposing marriage, but both of us knowing that day that now was the time to buy a ring. People ask us, “What’s the story? Did you get down on your knee? Did you propose to him?” But we don’t have a story. We don’t need that. We don’t need everybody else to “get” us. We just need to get each other. And we have.

So, what is it that I don’t understand? What boggles my mind these days? I was going to talk about how I don’t understand why you love me. But the truth is, I do understand. It’s the same reason I love you: we fit, plain and simple. So then I was going to question how two people who are so right for each other could, despite the odds, actually find each other. But I understand that, too: the world said, “Yes.”

So I guess what I don’t understand is that, though I’m aware of all the bad things in the world, the hardships, the sadness, how can it be that there are people in this world who can look out into this crazy place, and genuinely not believe in love?

— ldi





You Know, They Do Comedy While Standing Up

20 03 2008

All right, readers, today I try something out for the first time. I’m trying a “3 Word Wednesday”. Just like the recent Sunday Scribble, 3WW was recommended to me by the lovely This Girl Remembers, who can be linked to right over there. No, to the right. Down. No, too far, back up a bit. Okay… stop! Yeah, there’s her link.

Anyway, 3 Word Wednesday is, as far as I understand, exactly what it sounds like. Three words are given out every Wednesday, and those three words are then incorporated into each participating blogger’s blog. I have a feeling I’m supposed to tell you what those three words are each week, but here’s what I’m thinking. Chances are you’ve linked here from the 3WW site, which means you already know the words. If you happened by this blog some other way, then maybe not knowing the prompt will encourage you to check out 3WW for yourself, which would totally ripple. Also, if I tell you the words, you may be taken out of the post a bit, since you know that there are these specific three words I had to include, and so you might be questioning whether or not they actually fit in, or if I had to twist some stuff to make it fit. So yeah, I think I’m not telling.

Anyway, here’s my post. I hope you enjoy.

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LIGHTS UP.

A man, FRANK, is on stage, clearly searching very hard for something. There is also a table with a WALLET on it, center stage. After a few seconds of searching, Frank’s buddy, JOE, enters.

JOE: Hey, buddy. You ready?

FRANK: Do I look like a man who’s ready, Joe?

JOE: I’d say you don’t. (beat) You lookin’ for something, Frank?

FRANK: Wow. You should really be a detective, Joe, what with your keen observational skills and all.

JOE: Yeah? And you should be a… jackass-head, with all the… stupid. (Joe considers his insult, settles on feeling good about it.) Anyway, the implied question was, “What are you looking for?”

FRANK: My wallet.

With Frank’s back turned, Joe spots the wallet quickly, since it’s clearly in the middle of the room in plain sight.

JOE: Say Frank, this wallet you’re looking for, it wouldn’t happen to be brown, would it?

FRANK: (back still turned) It would.

JOE: With a chain attached to it, perchance?

FRANK: That’s right.

JOE: Any money in it?

Without looking, Frank reaches out, grabs the wallet, and tosses it to Joe.

FRANK: I don’t know, see for yourself.

Frank goes back to searching, leaving Joe confused.

JOE: So, you knew where it was?

FRANK: (still searching) Of course, it was right there in the middle of the room, in plain sight.

JOE: Well, I know that. It’s just, you seem to still be looking for it.

FRANK: Right.

JOE: Hey, quick question: Why?

FRANK: Oh. Because I hate stand-up comedians.

JOE: Oh, okay. Hmmm… you know, usually Frank, I dig being your friend, I really do. But sometimes, it’s like our friendship is a tangled ball of Christmas lights, and I’m just looking for the plug. You know, the one thing that’ll make sense of it all. (Frank looks up, confused, so Joe is blunt) I have no idea what you’re talking about.

FRANK: Stand-up comedians. You know, they do comedy… while standing up.

JOE: (boiling) I know what a stand-up comedian is! I just don’t know what the hell your hatred of these beloved clowns has to do with us being late to the movie because you can’t find your wallet that you already found!

FRANK: Okay, okay. Good grief, calm down. Stand-up comedians, they’re always like, (mimicking a stand-up comedian) “I was talking to my friend the other day, and he said he was looking for his wallet everywhere and finally he finds it in the last place he looks.” And the the comedian pauses for the supposedly humorous punchline, “Well, I sure hope it was in the last place you looked, because once you found it, you stopped looking.” Frickin’ hate those smug bastards.

Joe takes all this in. Quietly seething. Then, through gritted teeth:

JOE: So, you’re telling me that we’re late to a movie that I really wanted to see because you, what? Want to prove a stand-up comedian wrong?

FRANK: (simply) Well, I refuse to live in a world where a joke — that I never even understood, by the way — goes unchallenged and is just assumed to be correct.

JOE: Get your coat on, we’re leaving! I’ve had enough of this, for crying out loud!

 Joes yelling spooks Frank into submission.

FRANK: Okay, geez. Keep your pants on, I’ll get my coat.

As Frank EXITS to retrieve his coat, the tension subsides, the room calms down.

JOE: You know, I always heard that joke with your keys, not your wallet.

Frank ENTERS, coat on.

FRANK: Really? (he considers the difference, starts laughing) That’s actually really funny. (he picks up his wallet, while decidedly not looking at it; now he’s cracking up with laughter) Keys! Because of course you would stop looking after you find them. It’d be the last place you looked because you already found them. And you probably have to be somewhere important, right? I mean, of course you’d stop… that’s hilarious, how do they come up with that stuff?

Joe shakes his head at his good friend, as the two men walk toward the door, and EXIT. As the door closes behind them:

JOE (O.S.): You got your keys?

The door slams shut.

FRANK (O.S.): Crap!

As the men shake the door voilently from outside,

LIGHTS OUT.

— ldi





The Past, Present, And Future

18 03 2008

Sometimes it’s tough being me. I try to be very aware of certain things, like when an opportunity for growth or change presents itself, but I don’t always act on it. Lately, I’ve been trying to be better about that. It’s almost like I’ve been working on the outline of the story that will eventually be my life. Right now, I’m trying to add character development, maybe even get an arc in there.

A couple of days ago, one of my managers at the Bookstore asked me if I would join him and some people for a table read of a script that one of those people had written. I wouldn’t be reading any of the parts, I’d be reading the stage directions. Well, normally, I would have thanked him kindly, declined, and been on my way. Thing is, I found myself saying something like, “Well, let me check my schedule,” and actually meaning it.

Why this change? Well, part of it was due to the fact that a friend of mine recently told me about this thing called iscript, which basically is a thing where a writer or writers will send in his, her, or their script, and then iscript will choose readers to read the script aloud, record it on a thing, and then send that recording to the writer or writers. Cool idea, except they don’t have actors read it, and no direction is given, and it seems that a lot of it doesn’t even involve the readers responding to the other readers’ performances; it all feels kinda stiff and bland. To me! I don’t know, maybe it makes sense for some aspiring writers. Anyway, because of that, I’d been thinking of doing a similar thing, but with a small group of actors, and recording a performance, instead of just a bland recitation. So, part of why I said I’d think about the invite was to get a sense of how a table read works, and also to be a part of one, albeit in a stage directions capacity.

But really, the bigger reason that I said I’d think about it, and eventually agreed to do it, was because I’m at a point where I really do want to try new things. I want to do things that are outside of my comfort zone, things that I normally would just say no to without ever really considering them. I mean, how am I going to fulfil those actor-y dreams if I can’t even say yes to anything I’ve never tried before?

Another thing I did, just yesterday in fact, was to go to my old high school. I grew up in a city called Covina, and I don’t know if any of you have ever seen the movie IT, but if you have, then you’ll understand that Covina is a lot like Derry. For those who don’t get that, Derry is basically a town that you can’t ever really leave. Not in a weird, force-field kind of way, more like, you either never really move out, or if you do, you find yourself back there at some point, probably permanently. It’s that kind of place that just kind of feels like home, you know? It seems simple, easy. When you’re growing up there, you believe you can do anything, go anywhere.

So, I went back to Covina, because we’re having a picnic in the park reception after the wedding, and we wanted to scope out the Covina Park, the park I grew up going to. Afterwards, I wanted to visit my old high school, and visit “that special teacher”. You know the one. Everybody had one, or if you didn’t, you knew somebody who had one.

Anyway, I’m sitting in the parking lot, and I start freaking out. It was a mixture of a freakout. There was the sweaty palms kind of I-was-a-total-geek-in-highschool-and-I-still-am-and-yet-I’m-willingly-going-back-in freaking. But there was also this one, which I didn’t expect: what if that teacher didn’t recognize me? Or, worse yet, what if he did, but I hadn’t grown into a person that lived up to his expectations. So, I almost turned around and left.

I’m glad I didn’t.

I walked through the school, probably looking like a kind of creepy guy who shouldn’t be allowed to roam a high school hallway. My hair was messed up, I didn’t have a back pack, I was wearing sandals, I recently sprained my ankle, so I’m walking with a limp. To a casual observer, I might seem like I fit in, since I still look really young, but if you looked closely and paid attention, I clearly didn’t belong. And that’s almost creepier than like, a guy dressed in black, wielding a knife. Because that guy, you just get outta the way, but the subtle guy might be upon you before you ever notice. Sorry about this tangent. Those were just the things floating through my head as I was walking to the teacher’s classroom. Like I said, I was freaking out.

So, I finally see him, only his head is now shaved, and he has two kids, so I had to look really hard at his face to make sure. “Mr. Kearns?” And do you know what happened? His face lit up, all smiles. “Hey! I was just thinking about you the other day. Somebody had your year’s yearbook out, and we saw your picture! How’ve you been?” And we talked. Only for about five minutes, but still. I’m engaged, oh! to who?, you don’t know her, I’m an actor in L.A., that makes sense, I also write, I always thought you would, you always broke down movies really well, well, it was great seeing you, yeah, come back soon.

Immediate recognition, no disappointment. Thank you.

So, in the past couple of days, I’ve looked ahead to my future, when I’ll be a person who regularly considers new things. Hopefully. I’ve also looked back at my past, and seen how far I really have come.

I may not know what’s next, have all the beats worked out, but for the first time in a long time, I’m really excited to find out where this story is going. And that’s something.

— ldi