The Journal of Literary Satire | Hastilly Written & Sloppilly Edited

RSD | RSS I | RSS II | Atøm | Spanish

Support Submit
From the Y.P.aRchives Fun, Fickle Fiction (for Free!) Fact, Opinion, Essay, & Review Spectacular Features, Calendrical Happenings, Media Gadflies Poetry & Lyric Advice, How To, & Self-Help Listicles Semi-Frequent Columns Letter from the Editors Disquieting Modern Trends Interviews Interviews with Interviewers One-Question Interviews The Book Club Media Gadflies Calendrical Happenings Roasts Correspondence (Letters To and Letters From) Letters from Y.P.R. Letters to Y.P.R. Birthday Cards to Celebrities Pop Stars in Hotel Rooms Shreek of the Week of the Day Polish Facts: An Antidote to the Polish Joke The Y.P.aRt Gallery Illustrious Illustration Photography Photomontage Graphic Design Logo Gallery What's Up with That? Fuit Salad Nick's Guff Vermont Girl The M_methicist Daily Garfield Digest New & Noteworthy Contributors' Notes Et Cetera, Et Cetera, Et Cetera The Y.P.aRchives
Commons License
This journal is licensed under a Creative Commons License and powered by Movable Typo 4.01.
Y.P.R. & Co.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

My Writers' Strike Diary

Michael Rottman

Day 1
In Which I Announce My Solidarity.

The statement is finished, polished, deadly. I have joined my fellow scribes—I didn’t use the word “scribes” in my statement because it’s pretentious, though I’ve always loved it—in the heady struggle to shut down the entertainment politburo. The Man has been put in the corner. No stopping now: here I make my stand.

Granted, I am not a member of the Writers Guild of America. Nor am I American. I am one of many Canadians who support their brothers and sisters during this strike. Are we not one under the quill? I am also not a member of the Writers Guild of Canada, the Writers’ Trust of Canada, the League of Canadian Poets, or PEN Canada, although they are aware of me through my entries to their contests. I do contribute to Quill & Quire, with my subscription money. And I am not currently “employed” by a television company or movie studio, though that may change once they finish reading my pitch e-mails.

But it’s too late—I will not write one word for them, sign multi-year contracts with them or endorse cheques from them. This fight is too important. My statement has been posted on the wall at Java Joe’s, the bulletin board at the library, and some of the better telephone poles. And on my blog… eventually, when I finally get it up and running (why is it so hard to pick font colors?). My heart is pounding, but hey, you don’t swim against the historytide. (Historytide. Sounds like a time-traveler’s festival day. Hah! That’s one idea you’ll never exploit, Weinsteins!)

Day 2
What timing: the last two agents finally got around to sending me their “can’t use you right now, maybe in the future” letters. Damn right you can’t use me. Not going to give me the chance to thumb my nose at table scraps? I don’t blame you.

Can’t wait to reject the first slimeball who offers to pay me. But calm down, calm down—my statement is in the system, those offers are going to dry up. Once they begin, I mean. Then they’ll dry up.

Looks like Steve Carell has joined me in solidarity with the writers. Good on him.

Day 4

I stood outside Rogers headquarters with my blank picket sign. Everyone looked puzzled, but no one stopped to talk or spontaneously join the revolt. I had copies of my statement, just in case. Windy, very windy. No hotdog vendors in that part of town. (Metaphor? Use later.)

I decided people weren’t seeing the irony of a striking writer holding a wordless sign. (Or is that the opposite of irony?) So I paid a possibly homeless man to stand next to me with another sign that said “SCREENWRITER ON STRIKE” and an arrow pointed at me. He was shaky on his feet and wouldn’t hold the sign straight and went looking for cigarettes, and when I tried to show him how to hold his sign properly he screamed not to touch him or take his pills. I picketed alone after that.

Finally, someone stopped and asked about the sign. I had to explain it. “Oh, a blank sign, like in that cartoon,” he said. “That was clever.” I checked on-line later. Sure enough, there was the cartoon with writers and their blank signs.

I bemoan the lack of originality in our society.

Anyway, just as I was about to pack it in, a woman stopped and laughed at the joke and called me clever. Thought of telling her the truth, but she had really cute glasses. She asked if I had written any screenplays she had heard of. I told her about my update of The Littlest Hobo, where the dog is more of a superhero and he can talk, and there’s a terrorist cat, etc.

She said she hadn’t seen it. I admitted it was still just a treatment. She asked why I was in front of Rogers, since they’re only a cable provider. I said something about wheels within wheels.

I’m still glad I put myself out there.

Day 9
Went to IMDb and tried to remove some of my movie reviews. It isn’t easy. I may have to write to the webmaster. What happened was, I remembered I had offered Eye Magazine my services as a film critic, and had included the IMDb URLs in my résumé.

I called Eye and explained that I can’t shill for the film industry now, and asked them to remove me from consideration. The intern I spoke to didn’t know what I was talking about. Clearly, my résumé has already passed into the upper echelons. The only thing to do is to sabotage my work samples.

Ellen DeGeneres is the worst human being alive. I wrote a scene where she’s marched through the streets with a dunce cap on, like they did in Mao’s China.

Day 18
Those trolls have struck again, posting smack on message boards about “greedy, lazy” writers. For four hours today I did nothing by seethe at the ignorance on website after website. Didn’t give them the satisfaction of a reply. Historytide will vindicate me.

Tried to put the girl with the cute glasses in my new short story, but the character kept turning into a girl with cute nipples. It actually flows better that way.

I’ve suspended work on my autobiography, which as yet does not have a publisher, and in any event will likely be published years after my other projects. (Who knows how long this strike could last?) Decided that if the writers get a raw deal, I won’t include these entries in said autobiography. That would be shafting my brothers and sisters.

Might consider putting these entries on my forthcoming blog, merely to inspire others. That’s okay, right? As long as Time Warner or somebody doesn’t try to chisel a book deal out of me, which seems to happen to some blogger every other week. Hacks.

Day 21
Appalled. APPALLED I am over how much money this Gregor person wants to design my blog. What happened to the grassroots web I knew, where everything was free? Should have known better than to look for help on Craigslist, the internet version of moneylenders in the temple. They need a good Jesus-stomping.

These “satirical” video clips are for shit. This is helping the cause how?

Day 24
Went down to the café during Lorraine’s shift. Opened my laptop and shut it a few times. Lorraine didn’t notice. When she served my frappuccino, I slammed the screen down really hard. That she did notice. Eye contact! I told her how I was itching to work, my raw forge was stoked, but I couldn’t turn my back on my fellow scribes. She nodded! She saw my resolve and my innerstruggle! (New combined word! Idea: Austrian city called Innerstrügel. Birthplace of a conflicted Nazi.)

She said, “I thought maybe something was wrong with your coffee.” Then she started wiping where my laptop had knocked over the cup. That must have distracted her while I told her about the W.G.A., because she walked off while I was still talking. Someone else brought my bill. So that didn’t go quite as planned, but maybe now she’ll remember my usual. “The usual,” I’ll say, and she’ll smile knowingly.

Day 27
Dad says I broke the hinge on the laptop. Wow, so in tune with our battle! He whined that the fifty bucks I pay in rent doesn’t also cover use of his stupid, obsolete iBook. I told him to get out of the basement.

Went to picket in front of that film studio on Eastern Avenue. Didn’t stay long. There’s no foot traffic. Plus, there were a bunch of loitering teens with those flat-brim ballcaps on. I didn’t want to chance anything. They would mock my determination.

New script idea: conflicted Nazi falls in love with waitress only to find she’s …? Not Jewish, that’s too obvious. Incontinent? Nazis would hate that.

Day 45
I feel good enough to diarize again. Lorraine has been avoiding me. To hell with her.

Finally got up the courage to make my first online post expressing my concerns over the return of late night talk shows, and the trolls tortured me for writing “Jon Daily”. Don’t these people have anything better to do?

W.G.A. negotiating side deals with certain companies. Hope? I’ve changed my cover letter template just in case. Added a reply card. Production execs can check boxes with “willing” or “unwilling” to compromise with writers, then send the card back to me, so I can judge contracts accordingly.

Day 62
Wow, women on daytime TV have much better hair than I remember.

No calls today. Realized that when Eye Magazine does make its offer, I could accept, then launch missile after missile at those corrupt studio potentates in the form of scathing reviews, or star profiles that suggest massive weight gain.

So chain me up, Hollywood. I dare you—chain me up. Because that’s how Samson pulled the walls down.

I’ve decided on forest green for the blog. Gregor says that costs extra.

Day 77
Rumor: American networks have bought Canadian shows to fill slots. Hobo: The Reckoning not among them. Do I have the strength to be disgusted?

“It is not a world of men.” So true, Mr. Mamet. So true.

Michael Rottman has been rated X by an all-white jury. His work has appeared in Yankee Pot Roast, The Morning News, McSweeney's, and Cracked.