In For a Penny: Three the Hard Way

Charles Lewis listens to his other self. Both of them

King Ghidorah

“Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
— Matthew 6:34, King James Version

I hadn’t planned on writing about anything too serious for today’s entry. I’d planned to just do another “Of Olympic Proportions” piece about how the festival finally started last night; how much fun I’d had at the Opening Night party; how stoked I am about my script being read THIS SATURDAY, YOU GUYS; how my cast will be dressed like a box of Crayola crayons-turned-sentient-attractive-people; and how much I’ve been looking forward to this all year.

Then… reality set in. And, as reality often does, it sucked. As a San Francisco native with a bit of an obsession with the Freudian model of the human psyche, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that my Id and Super-Ego had a field day with the election results.

It started with my Id all excited for the election, then my Super-Ego pointing out that I’m currently a resident of Daly City.

Id reads the election results and wants to burn something; Super-Ego points out that as an SF native he shouldn’t, because that sort of thing (from post-game “victory vandalism” to the shooting that ended Hallowe’en in The Castro) is done by people who are not from our city.

Id is angry that many of those same out-of-towners-made-residents who voted for this shit; Super-Ego looks over the numbers of long-time residents and natives who inexplicably didn’t vote at all.

Id says that he better not find out his techie friends voted for this turnout; Super-Ego points out that the election process is private for a reason.

Id feels angry at all the people who are flooding his FB wall with posts saying “RIP, SF. Time to move to Oakland/Alameda/Portland/Chicago/NY/Austin/Pittsburgh/London/Narnia/Zamunda”; Super-Ego looks over the housing stats of each of those places and sees that it would be just trading one problem for a new one in a different geographical area.

Id is angry at friends who actually did move; Super-Ego points out that it’s futile to fault people he cares about going where they have the best opportunities to thrive.

Id is angry to hear that in addition to election woes, a friend of his in the tech industry just lost his job; Super-Ego suggests that someone with this friend’s vast experience (more than 15 years) could bounce back.

Id wants to use all of his money to stay and fight for his hometown; Super-Ego mentions that he has very little money, what with lacking a full-time job.

Id is pissed that he hasn’t been hired for full-time jobs for which he’s overqualified, especially after getting pretty damn far in the interview processes; Super-Ego points out that job interviews – like auditions – only give you control over the words coming out of your mouth and the ones on your resume. The rest is up to the folks behind the desk.

Id hates the new character one-shot posters for Star Wars: The Force Awakens; Super-Ego also finds them aesthetically horrendous.

Id is pissed that he’s missed the latest episodes of his favorite shows, as well as the premiere of Ash vs. Evil Dead; Super-Ego says that work (and lots of it for someone lacking a full-time job) has to come before recreation.

Id is pissed that the Twin Peaks reboot has been pushed back to 2017, and that the Log Lady died recently; Super-Ego points out that Lynch’s negotiations last were would inevitably stall the show.

Id and Super-Ego continue to use their dissatisfaction with the election to point out all the flaws in the
entire world.

As these two go at it, “Regular” Ego’s eyes are glued to the screen of his laptop. He reads a really inspiring write-up of the election on VanishingSF’s FB wall; he reads a special offer via PM regarding next year’s Olympians Fest; he reads an offer for a paid on-camera role for this Thursday (today); he begins receiving photos of clothing options from the cast of this Saturday’s Olympians reading; he hears a knock at the front door and answers it to find his adorable raffle prize(s) for said reading delivered by UPS; he thinks of how after the festival he’ll turn this one-act into a full-length after the festival; he looks through monologues for an upcoming audition for a company with which he likes working; he watches the kick-ass trailer for Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq; he reads about The Orbit Room re-opening; he reads about the upcoming Star Trek tv show.

In short, he thinks of a few of his favorite things, and then he doesn’t feel so bad. This three-headed beast heads out the door to go jogging on a lovely sunny day.

Super-Ego points out that the state desperately needs rain.

To see the colorful readings of Charles and every other Olympians participant, please purchase tickets at

In For a Penny: Of Olympic Proportions – My Twitter-fied Script

Silverstein - The Missing Piece

“Right side and with intensity, okay?”
“Is that everything? It seemed like he said quite a bit more than that.”
– Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation

There’s no way I’ll be able to top yesterday’s anecdote about Meryl Streep dreams, but I empathize with the plight of my fellow ‘Pub columnist. As you read these words, I’m mere hours away from the first rehearsal for my Poseidon-based script, The Adventures of Neptune: In Color! It’s one of the few things I’ve written for which I’ve felt genuine optimism once it was done. And I think that’s earned, considering I spent several marathon sessions over the past five days trying to edit the damn thing.

My play was selected to be a one-act, which I’ve written for the festival before and had every confidence I could do so again. Then I started researching. A lot. I never stopped researching, but once I began putting words into these characters’ mouths, I couldn’t make them shut up. To further complicate matters, the post-audition casting process resulted in me getting a truly kick-ass roster of Bay Area actors. So naturally I wanted to write material specifically for each of them.

The result could easily be the length of Once Upon a Time in America, but all I need is a “GoodFeathers” sketch. Realizing that my way-too-long story would require a bit of pruning, I found inspiration in a rather unlikely source: Twitter.

I remember years back when the late Roger Ebert joined Twitter. In fact, I remember years before when he specifically said he would NEVER join Twitter. He already had his regular long-form blog and implied that Twitter’s truncated form made real discourse all but impossible. He wasn’t entirely wrong: at its worst, Twitter is the medium for the sort of oversimplified opinions and patronizing platitudes formerly reserved for bumper stickers, fortune cookies, and novelty t-shirts.

When he finally joined in 2009, he would say months later, “Twitter for me performs the function of a running conversation. For someone who cannot speak, it allows a way to unload my zingers and one-liners.” That stuck with me. I forget what year I joined Twitter, but there was a period of months – maybe even a full year – where I just forgot about it and didn’t use it. (It’s this non-desire to “keep up with the Joneses” that has kept me from joining Instagram, Snapchat, Tinder, etc.) But since I was a teenager, I’ve always held an appreciation for the democratic way the internet gives everyone a voice, even those with which I do not agree. If I was going to be on Twitter, I’d try to follow Ebert’s example and try to put some thought into what I typed. Short thoughts, but thoughts nonetheless.

This has proven an invaluable practice when editing scripts. Not every line needs to be “The Aristocrats,” some can just be dirty limericks on bathroom walls. Still, my biggest fear is that when the edited version is read aloud it makes no sense, but I can always say I planned it like that.

Nottingham babbling

It takes me longer than others to finish a script because I usually write on a typewriter. I bought on a whim in college in 2000 and have gotten great mileage out of it since. Obviously it has a few disadvantages – no SpellCheck, errors have to be corrected manually, people in other rooms complain of the noise – but I feel those pale in comparison to the advantages I’ve gained from it – I’ve become a better speller, I predict and stop grammatical errors, and when I don’t hear the noise, then I know I’m not writing when I should be. I also can’t just take out a single line or page at my whim, because typed pages don’t self-edit. If I want to change something, you’ll likely have to change the entire script.

I’m reminded of a quote by John Milius, a writer I’ve always admired. In a 2003 interview, when asked about writing new drafts, he said that he “look[s] at a script like a gunstock [..] it has to be shaped right, and the finish has to be right, and you have to bring out all the qualities that are in the wood.” I agree with that. When I rewrite, I don’t think of it as replacing one LEGO piece with another, I think of it as playing Jenga or moving one ace without bringing down the entire house of cards.

I won’t know until this evening whether or not I’ve succeeded, and I’ll still have one more rehearsal and an actual reading left. For now, I’ll just finish hole-punching these 280 FedEx-copied pages whilst all you good people do the right thing and blow up the hashtag #SFOlympians6.

Charles Lewis III - Poseidon - typewriter

Charles Lewis III deprived himself of food and sleep to edit his script, so you should all come see it on Saturday – Nov. 7. To pre-order tickets and find out more info, please visit