Bad: A Memoir of Good & Evil
Couldn't Call It Unexpected
Cyn & Tangents
Lead Paint Double Date Set Diaries
Moving to Mars
New Roman Times
Saint Red
Suspension of Disbelief
What Fools


Lead Paint Set Diary
Or, What You Will

By Deric McNish

Sunday, November 17, 2002, 3:00 PM:

I still haven't quite gotten the hang of this yet. It takes enormous concentration. When I let my mind wander, I make mistakes.

For example, I had a meeting scheduled with J for three this afternoon. He'd asked if I'd like to do a movie with him, Jordan and Nic, and of course I said yes. Today we were going to discuss the film.

"cool... how about sunday at about 3 pm at the starbucks at union square (around b'way and 16th i think). if that doesn't work, feel free to suggest another time or place. see you soon... jm," he'd written.

Now, I hadn't ever done it in public before. I was too scared, I guess, too afraid somebody would catch me, slippery fucker though I may be. I'd done it a million times alone in my apartment, of course. So there I was, at 3 PM, at the Starbucks in Union Square, just like J had said. But no J. I got a cup of joe and a table and pulled out a book. I don't remember what it was, but I know the cover was silly so I tried to hide it in my lap. I can never remember what I read, that's another problem.

At about 3:15 I started to get worried. How many Starbucks are there in Union Square? Surely not just the one. I seemed to remember one closer to the Virgin Megastore. I was in the one near Barnes and Noble, but wasn't there another one nearby as well? What if J was waiting in one of them, cursing me to hell?

I didn't want to go looking for him, because, my luck, the second I left would be the second J walked in looking for me. So I really had no choice. I had to search the other Starbucks before J had a chance to take a single step.

I can't really describe how I do it. There's no magic word or special gesture, no enchanted bracelets I clack together, no potion I drink or suit I don to make me what I am. It's more like a frame of mind, a particular way I focus my mind when everything else seems to slow down around me. A singularness, an intention, then it happens. The person next to me takes a sip, but lets the scalding hot coffee rest against his lip. The woman behind me with the laptop computer pauses mid keystroke. The woman on the cell phone that hasn't stopped yapping since I arrived finally falls silent.

I picked up my things, left my coffee, and trotted out the door. There was no sense in running, because I'd just get winded before I left the store. I'm in terrible shape. But I tried to keep a brisk pace anyway. They might still have been able to see me. I haven't frozen them, after all, just sped myself up.

So I jogged down to the Starbucks near the Virgin and look through the window. No J to be seen. I entered anyway, just to be sure. It was a similar scene to what I'd left in my Starbucks, and still no J. Just to be absolutely sure, I swiped the bathroom key from behind the register and checked the toilet. There was a young, artsy couple in there, his fingers buried deep in the folds of her vintage jeans. No wonder those bathrooms are always out of order.

I checked the coffee shop in the Virgin Megastore, but no dice. I walked all the way back to Barnes and Noble, thoroughly pooped from my attempt at jogging. I went up to the coffee shop on the fourth floor. Again, nothing. I stopped though, to stare at the fifteen or so despicable people who, sans beverage, sans cookie, sans everything, sat at the tables in the cafe and read magazines, books, or just chatted on their cell phones, just taking up space. For them, time is as frozen as it is for me. One case in particular really got my goat. Wealthy little thing, all decked out in what, to my admittedly untrained eyes, looked like a wardrobe that cost more than my apartment did. She sat there, with her bag on one chair, her portfolio on another, and her fat ass on the third. No coffee did she drink, no nothing, she just sat there with a magazine and her cell phone, while other people, paying customers, had to stand with their drinks. I rummaged through her purse. Penelope was her name. How predictable. How nauseating. She carried $173, so I took it. I also smashed her cell phone with the heel of my shoe then inserted it back into her manicured hands.

It seemed like J was just late. So I decided to go back to my original Starbucks. On the way, I stopped at the Petco to look at the kittens. I tore open a bag of treats and left a little pile of them in each of the animals' cages. I also peeked downstairs where they do animal grooming. There was a very perturbed partly shorn shitzu. In the nearby bird room, there was a monstrous little girl who was violently clutching a cockatiel. I pried the poor bird from her fingers, set it back on its perch, and filled the girls hands with kitty poop.

I sat back at my table at Starbucks and relaxed. The world started rolling again all around me. I sipped my coffee and it was still very hot. I took out my book again, but didn't read more than half a page before J came in.

He was very effervescent, cheerful, not like how I remembered him in college. It was good to see him. It turns out he had gone to a different Starbucks, but sought me out here. I must have just missed him. We sat together, drank coffee and caught up. I told him what I've been up to, and realized in the process how lame my life is. "So, Deric, what've you been up to for the last two years?" "Nothing. How about you?" I was very eager to get him talking about himself.

He's working with retarded children now, making lots of short films (not of the retarded children, or at least, not that he mentioned anyway.) Then he told me about the movie, about how the idea germinated while he was in college and now it was time to finally make it. It sounds great! The premise of two guys licking a wall and getting high on paint, living an illusion then coming to terms with their own uselessness, I could identify with that. The whole bit about the shrew though was a little confusing. But, hey, I'm just an actor!

Cinema visionary Jay Marks.

Anyway, to make a long story short, he said he was going to finish the script soon, then we could get to work on it. We will do one day with just me, one day with just Jordan, then one weekend with the both of us.

I splurged tonight and had dinner at the Red Lobster, even ordering a couple of their expensive but very yummy drinks. I had some ill-gotten dough to spend. I left a big tip.

Saturday, December 21, 2002, early morning:

I had to get up really early today to catch the train. I took Metro-North out of Grand Central to Croton-Harmon station. It was a beautiful ride, along the Hudson all the way. When I got to the station, though, nobody was there to meet me. I started to get worried. There are two Croton stops... Croton-Harmon and Croton-Falls, I think. Croton something or other.

So if you think I just sped myself up and ran to the other station, you're crazy. It's just as stupid for me to travel miles by foot as it is for anyone else, it just takes me less time. I get just as tired, though. Anyway, J finally showed up. He'd gone out the night before with his coworkers and partied hard. I guess working with retards (developmentally challenged?) can be stressful. So we woke up Nic with a telephone call, drove to J's parents house and got to work. J brewed some coffee, then we went through the costume things I brought. After picking out what I was gonna wear, he dropped a bombshell on me. He decided he wanted to shoot what, for my character, was really the climactic monologue of the movie, instead of another scene. Well, I hadn't memorized it. Yippee friggen skippy.

We went up to his room and rehearsed a little while waiting for Nic to show up. I sat on J's bed (his room was something between an opium den and a bordello, with blood red walls to boot) and performed the first scene. He had some intelligent insights and direction, I tried to incorporate them as we continued to rehearse. When Nic showed up, J went out to the garage to set up the shot while I got dressed and ran lines with Nic. It was a driving shot. Nic's car was parked in J's garage and some blue sheets were hung up on the drivers side. The camera was on the passenger's side. Nic stood at the hood, and I drove towards him as we shot the shot. It seemed to go well, except it was so fucking cold. I was thinking more about the weather than the character's business. Oh well.

So, the next thing was the shower scene. J gave me a towel and told me to strip down. Meanwhile, he steamed up the bathroom and set up the shot. I wet myself (with water) and we filmed the poem.

Deric undressing.

It was still pretty early in the day and we had to shoot the last shot in darkness, so we had some time to kill. I had to learn that monologue, but we were all pretty hungry so we went to a diner first. At Nic, J and the waitress's insistence, I got a burger with fries and gravy and cheese. Nice, tasty. J paid with a giftcheck from one of his student's parents.

So we got back to J's with plenty of time to study lines. I tried to concentrate on them, and managed to get the gist of them down by the time it got dark. This scene happens when I climb onto of Nic's car and shout at God. J had a bunch of shots planned, dolly shots, close-ups, etc. I was fucking freezing my ass off on top of the car. On top of that, I wasn't 100 percent on the lines. At one point, between shots, I went inside to warm up while J set up the next one.

I decided it was time to make time, so I sped myself up. I went back upstairs to J's room and rested on the bed until I was warm and cozy. I think I fell asleep because suddenly I was very groggy and stiff. I took care of the stiffness part, leaving J a hidden surprise somewhere in his room. I shook off the grogginess and headed back downstairs. J and Nic had moved only slightly from their last positions, so I knew I hadn't been found out. I worked on my script for a little while, wrapped myself up again, and rejoined them outside.

Deric studies the script.

Everything went off without a problem. J drove me back to the station. I got home around 10.

Saturday, January 4, 2003:

We were supposed to start filming in Binghamton on Saturday, but because of the impending snow and my utter lack of anything to do, I went up on Friday. It was a very nice drive, but the snow began to fall in earnest before I got to Broome County. The roads in Binghamton were terrible. I was driving my parents' Cirrus at the time and I was very grateful for the anti-lock brakes. I got there early, so I hunted Jordan and Devon down at Fat Cat Comics and surprised them. I had to stick around the store while they completed their transactions, but soon enough we were on our way. I had parked on an incline, so it was difficult getting back onto Main Street. I parked in an unplowed lot behind The Whole In The Wall restaurant and bid farewell to my car. Even as I stood there gathering my bags the windows and gray surfaces of the car were blanketed in white.

Thus began our little drama with J. He'd left a message on my cell asking about my plans, whether or not I'd left and whether or not he should brave the snow. We spent the next two days glued to as J mulled over whether or not to come. It was Saturday afternoon before he decided to stay home. Oddly enough, it didn't snow that night. Still, the roads were terrible and the shoot would've been screwed up one way or another. We made plans to try again at the end of January.

The rest of the trip was fun, of course, although we were mostly stuck in Jordan's apartment because of the snow. At one point we had to shovel out the cars. That was one of the times I was very glad I kept my little secret. If Jordan knew what I was capable of he'd have expected me to do the cars by myself.

We tried to make a bit of progress on learning the lines, but since it was no longer pressing, and since we still didn't have the last few pages of the script, it wasn't foremost on our minds. Luckily Jordan has enough games and snacks to last a nuclear winter.

Saturday, January 25, 2003:

I took the train to Long Island on Saturday morning to steal a car from my parents. J had offered me a ride to Jordan's but I anticipated staying past Sunday. I pulled a little stunt on the train. I've been getting more and more reckless, or daring, maybe, with my skills. I didn't want to buy a train ticket. Being unemployed as I am, I deemed it irresponsible to spend more money than absolutely necessary. Right before the conductor reached me, I darted back and lifted someone's monthly pass. After the conductor checked it and moved on, I returned it to its unwise owner. I was on the road by about 10:30 or 11. I flipped on 1010WINS. Snow was on its way.

I took the minivan this time, but didn't bring any CDs or VHS tapes to listen to so I was forced to listen to my dad's collection of doowop, oldies and the occasional Beatles CDs. It was a long trip. I can speed up myself but I can't speed up the car. My ability would've made a 3.5 hour car ride feel like 3 weeks. So wasn't it ironic that I got pulled over for speeding. Guess it's become a habit. Anyway, I freaked out for a minute, then came up with a plan. Once the policeman opened the door to his cruiser I sped over there, lifted his ticketbook and tossed it into the gutter.

"Do you know why I pulled you over son?" he asked.

"Yes, sir, I'm very sorry, I was going a little faster than I should have. I'm really a safe driver, I took a course and everything, I just wasn't paying attention..."

"Well, I'll let you off on a warning. Drive safely now."

What a nice man.

After I arrived, there was plenty of time to relax before J was supposed to get there. Jordan and I ran lines a little bit, mostly the early scenes that I already knew. We weren't entirely sure how the script was going to end. J arrived, and soon after Nic did as well with Johanna in tow. J laid out the plans for what would prove to be a night to remember. We were going to do all of the outdoor scenes tonight, starting with the major dialogue and leaving the wide or textless shots for last.

Jordan, Jay, Nic, and Deric prepare to face the cold.

In order to minimize our time in the cold cold night, J gave us lots of time to get our lines down cold. I knew all the stuff we were going to do on Sunday, but was starting almost from scratch on the outdoor stuff. I thought I might have to take another of my special "study-breaks" in order to save a little face.

It was about 9 or 10 before we ventured out. J had staked out a location on what seemed to be a quiet street. He drove everyone there in his van. The first shot was the shrew monologue, I think (it all seems to melt together now that I'm warm). I didn't think I knew it that well, but as I knelt on the freezing cold ground my mind managed to spew out most of the words in some semblance of the right order.

Deric between takes of the Shrew monologue.

I can't remember what was next. There were so many different shots that night. As with the first night of shooting, I was more concerned with fending off frostbite than with Sweeney's problems. It was friggen cold! Still, things seemed to go fairly well. We had moments in J's car when we were able to warm up and study the next scene, so I didn't need to take a "study-break" of my own. There was only one time that night where I felt it necessary to do my quickstep.

Several times throughout the night cars full of drunken teens and hillbillies, students and townies alike would roar down the street then come to a quick stop in the middle of our shot. Invariably, they'd shout something like, "Y'all need some help?" or "Can I be in your movie???" Very amusing. Since every time that happened we had to start from scratch, it became rather tedious after a while. It was still dark out but not far from dawn when a load of brats came swerving by in an SUV, no doubt a gift from some apologetic parent, "If you go to SUNY, sonny, I'll buy you that Range Rover!" A sensible financial arrangement for any parent, really. Well, they charged past us, braked quickly, then reversed their car right back into our shot. They spewed some garbage from their mouths and laughed at their own clever, drunken remarks then sped off. I was out of sight from my fellow filmmakers at the time, so I decided to catch up with that SUV.

I could still see it moving, inching forward though it was probably barreling at about 30mph. I caught up with it and opened the rear passenger door. The seat was empty so I settled in and shut the door. It was nice and warm in there and I was happy to get out of the cold. Much to my surprise and, yes, I admit it, delight, there was a bit of fellatio occurring in the third row of seats. The nitty gritty of it was hidden by a mop of mousy brown hair, but there was no doubt about what was going on. The recipient of said head sat in the center of the bench seat like a king with his knees spread wide and his arms stretched like Jesus from headrest to headrest. Another young gentleman sat in the seat next to me, fiercely clutching his own raging boner through the fabric of his jeans. In another hand he held a makeshift bong, cunningly crafted from a bottle of Avanti. The chauffeur of the vehicle had his eyes on the buxom bimbo sitting to his right. Beer cans on the floor... these people were poster children for the evils of adolescence. They didn't even look old enough to be college kids, though they were likely underclassmen at the university.

What to do, what to do, I wondered. I'd be doing mankind a favor if I flattened their tires and got them off the road, but then they'd be too near to our filming. So I had to do something that would sober them up and send them home to their books. Luckily, I had to go to the bathroom. There was a foamy forty in the blonde's lap. I dumped out the beer and replaced it with my own brew. I took the boned toker's stash for myself. It's been a while since I smoked up, maybe I'll use it this week sometime. I pried Miss Fellatio off then I giggled at the little object of her affections. It wasn't even hard. How sad. So for her benefit only, I set her lips down on the toker's pole.

Having done perhaps disproportionate damage, I decided to bid them adieu. I reassured myself though, that by hastening their festivities, I may have saved their very lives!

Deric after conducting some mischief.

Warm of body and heart, I returned to the set. The sun was nearly beginning to rise when we congregated in J's minivan to discuss our options. Thoroughly pooped and frozen, we decided to call it a day. We would have to return once it got dark the next day to finish the few shots that were left. We gathered the equipment and headed home. On the way back, J smoked a bowl. I felt like a hypocrite.

When we woke the next day it was snowing. It seemed that there had been some sort of cosmic judgment against this film. We decided to press ahead with the indoor shooting and hope that the snow would clear up by nightfall. The indoor shots went very smoothly. Jordan and I already knew the lines for all those scenes, and it was much more pleasant shooting in the warmth.

An odd picture from the set...

At about five we decided to go get a meal. The plan was that, if there was a break in the snowfall after eating we'd go directly there and film. As it turns out, when we filed out to the cars, the snow had died down so we went directly to the set. It was still snowing when we got there, and I expected J to break us for dinner. But he believed that the shots would be alright with the snow so we went ahead with filming. The streets were barren this time, because everyone wanted to avoid the snow. With only minor complications, such as continually wiping the accumulated snow off of Nic's car, we managed to get all the shots done very quickly. There were some fun shots where the camera was mounted (held, really) in the back of J's van while it drove away to get a wide shot.

Inside the 'dolly' before it drove away from Deric.

Off to Friendly's! I wore Jordan's top hat and he wore a monocle. We must've seemed a motley bunch as we sat down to eat that evening. There were still a few more shots to go, but they were all indoors. Nic was going to head back home after the meal because he had work the next morning. J did as well, but he was determined to finish the movie. The meal was scrumptious, as we were all starving by that time.

We said our goodbyes to Nic then headed back to Jordan's apartment. While filming, all the space heaters and J's lighting equipment blew a fuse in Jordan's house. They didn't have a spare, so Jordan and I braved the snow and took my car out to find another while J took a well-deserved nap. We ended up at Wegman's, the only place besides the more distant Wal-Mart that probably had what we needed. I asked a very bored cashier where I might find fuses and she turned it into a store-wide effort. The friendly but very annoying people eventually let us proceed to the right aisle where we found something that looked appropriate.

We descended into the hellish, frightful pit below Jordan's building. I thought it was fantastic! It looked like the ideal set for a horror movie. Of course, I gushed over it to Jordan, but he wasn't in the mood for new ideas. One movie per weekend, he'd insisted. The fuse didn't fit. We sullenly clomped back upstairs. Jordan took another look inside his cabinet and found, you guessed it, an extra fuse. He went back downstairs and restored the power. J woke up and we finished filming. The last shot of the day was the last shot of the movie, the graveyard scene. After that, we recorded a few pages from the script in case J needed them for voice-overs, and we were done!

Jay checks the scripts for anything we missed.

Jordan packed the pipe with apple tobacco and we passed it around, celebrating a job well done. J packed up his equipment and started his midnight drive home.

Deric and Jordan smoking the celebratory pipe.

I ended up leaving Tuesday morning. Monday was mostly sleeping and games, I don't specifically remember anything that happened.

Sunday, March 9, 2003:

Jordan Short-Lined it over here on Saturday to spend some time with me and Eric while Devon was away in Michigan for Spring Break. J had e-mailed us about a week before telling us that the movie was finally done, and that it was really good! I told him of Jordan's visit and suggested a Sunday viewing party at my place. And so it came to pass that J and Nic braved the winding roads of New York City to come to my humble abode in Queens. We watched the movie and, boy howdy, it was swell! I don't want to ruin it for any nosy people who happen to be reading my most private diary, but I will just say that it was great. We wolfed down a few pizza pies and set up the movie again to make a copy. Jordan and I watched it while Nic and J smoked.

We set up my computer for the third viewing so that we could record a commentary track. We all huddled around the microphone and chatted about the movie. It was a lot of fun and will be a cool addition to the final product.

Go to Jordan's Version