The Tractor Bar, Los Lunas, NM

I ran some errands this morning, moving large numbers of ones and zeroes about the globe, then I headed out into the desert to look for locations. It was good to be on the road again. I stopped at a truck stop along I-40 for Gatorade and found a key prop for Pirates sitting on a shelf of unlikely tourist crap. I thought to get sunscreen as well.

Wild Horse Mesa Bar Not long after that I was on a little two-laner, windows down, radio blasting, and I felt it. The road. Only this time I was out there to look at the road and really see it, rather than just be swept away by the beauty of it all. My destination was the Wild Horse Mesa Bar, whose giant, fading OPEN sign, red letters four feet high, was lying. The little open sign in the window, one that at least was capable of telling the truth, was also lying. The bar was closed. Only the dog on the front sidewalk was honest. The building is trapezoidal and there is not enough room inside for anything except actors and crew. We’ll have to bring shade for everyone else if we try to shoot here.

On the other hand, I can’t imagine them hesitating to allow us in to shoot. If everyone on the crew bought one beer, I suspect it would be their best week in years.

On I went, taking fewer pictures of straight road as I realized that straight road was not going to be a problem to find. When there was a stretch with interesting terrain about, I stopped for a look-see. Eventually I reached Los Lunas, and the next bar on my list to check out. It was the opposite end of the spectrum, from the Wild Horse, being a modern brewpub.

Ahhh, a microbrew IPA in the true overhopped American style. There’s nothing better. I came in snapping pictures, telling them I’m scouting locations for a movie. They are familiar with the festival here, as they are a sponsor. Hopefully that will make them more amenable to being a location as well. They’ve been very accommodating so far, giving me al little mini-tour. I got the feeling that the woman I was talking to was in charge right now, but I don’t know if her decision-making mojo goes beyond that.

After this I’m heading out into uncharted water, to see what I can find on the East side of the Monzano Mountains, but it will have to be good to justify travel times. I better have some good food here to make sure I last the journey.


Woke up at the late-late hour of 6:00 this morning. Jet-lag bonus is already wearing off. I spent the early morning taking frame grabs of the casting video to send to fuego, and reviewing the performances again. Seeing the footage, my opinion on a couple of the early performance shifted for the better. Ruthie 2’s stock rose dramatically.

That info sent, I emerged from my haven in time to bid the breadwinner of the household a fond adieu as he set off for work. That left Yoyo and me to fend for breakfast and later to go out to a variety of stores to spend a large amount of money. Listerine, check. Flashlight keychain, double-check. (They were on sale for three bucks. The packaging made a big deal about how the LED would last for 100,000 hours, even though the battery would only last 25. Reassuring to know that when the bulb reaches the landfill it still has most of its useful life ahead of it.) The batteries are not replaceable, so I bought two. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished for a flashlight keychain when coming home to my Prague apartment in the dark.

But that has nothing to do with Pirates. I spent much of the day with Yoyo riding shotgun, including the time I spent with Rudy. He had picked up the nuclear warhead prop from a friend, but it was not what either of us expected, I think. It has taken me some time since seeing it to put my finger on where it falls short, but now that I look back Rudy was already responding to the problem before I even saw the prop. It doesn’t look dangerous. There may be some historical accuracy in this piece of metal, but I want people to be afraid of this thing, to know that in the wrong hands something like this can kill millions. Part of the magic of the script is that somehow you don’t think this thing is in the wrong hands at the end.

There was a moment during casting yesterday, when I realized there was depth to the script. For me, writing is about making a good story, and if you can go back later and discover nuances and complexities, all the better. Those subtleties were shaping the story as you wrote it, but only later can you go back and really understand them. After the second Ruthie had auditioned, I spoke briefly with the guy reading the other lines in the dialog. In the script it says, “Ruthie looks unimpressed.” He was rolling over that moment to get to her next line. “Pause there,” I said. “It’s the first time Ruthie affects Moab. That look is important. Let it work.”

Now, at some level I knew that this was a skirmish between the two for respect., but I had not articulated the significance of that moment so clearly before. At first, his capitulation seems like an expression of his weakness, but later you understand that his earlier speech was not bluster at all, and his backing down was out of respect for her strength. At the time, the line just felt right. Write the story first, worry about the significance later.

No action from Smithers. No word of Seldom Seen Smith. The time to write an inflammatory e-mail from a panicking writer/director draws nigh…