Tuesday, April 23, 2019

I sure could've used a helpful smile last Thursday

I'll never again shop at the Hy-Vee Food Store at 7910 Cass St. here in Omaha.

Chalk that up to a young sacker named Kyle.

At 1:34 PM on 4-18-2019, I pulled into the parking lot of the supermarket in question. I'd been a steady, loyal customer at that Hy-Vee for twenty years, and that Thursday, I was in a hurry and trying to get shopping done prior to going to my own job in a local plastics factory.

After putting a trio of letters in the mailbox in front of the store, I ran inside the store...ahead of two other customers who were about to walk in.

Kyle, who was changing the trash bag in a wastebasket in front of the store, saw me, and told me: "Don't ever do that again...cutting in front of customers."

I turned around and saw Kyle.

I was flabbergasted.

I tried to explain myself, and that I was in a hurry, and that the week hadn't been too cool for me...but Kyle didn't want to hear from me.

I tried to apologize. Kyle still didn't want to hear from me.

Kyle told me- three times- to move on. Each time, he gestured me away from his view.

The way I see it, young Kyle was trying hard to show off his White Supremacist views.


At 1:36 PM, I found a manager on duty: Chris. And I told him about Kyle and about the way Kyle treated me.

Chris assured me he'd talk to Kyle, and assured me that I'd done nothing wrong and that I had no reason to apologize.

Got my shopping done at 1:48 PM that Thursday, still angry about the way Kyle treated me.

I even yelled inside the store...and that got me a reprimand from another manager on duty, Wendy.

So, to try and smooth things over, I apologized to Wendy and to the cashier who waited on me, Kay Lynne. (Kay Lynne and I had been able to get along quite well...and in fact, Kay Lynne showed much more understanding of the situation than Wendy.)

I continued to fume at my own job and couldn't wait to get home to send a nasty email to the store director at that Cass Street Hy-Vee (also known as the Peony Park Hy-Vee; a famous amusement park previously stood where that supermarket now does).

The angry email got sent off early last Friday; the next day, I heeded the message at the bottom of the receipt and took Hy-Vee's survey...and doggone right, I mentioned the 4-18-2019 incident.

In both documents, I mentioned that I'd never again shop at that particular Hy-Vee.

The store director emailed me and apologized for the whole thing.

Still, I'm going to start shopping at the Hy-Vee at 51st and Center Sts. here in the Big O.
I don't want to turn my back on the chain that promises "a helpful smile in every aisle."

I like Hy-Vee's wide selection...and that's the biggest reason I'd been shopping there all these years.

What I don't like is seeing racism in action.

And that's what Kyle, like too many others in my life, showed me.

Too many millions of Americans have felt emboldened ever since that walking toilet bowl gave that inaugural address on 1-20-2017...or ever since he won on 11-8-2016.

Kyle showed me he's one of the emboldened.

And I don't EVER want to be in his company again...for any damn reason. 


Thursday, February 28, 2019

Frozen retribution?

Every time I get up these days, I can't help thinking about this current winter...one of the worst and most severe we've had here in the United States in a long time.

This weekend, here in the Omaha/Council Bluffs/Bellevue area, we're slated to receive more frozen precipitation. (Sorry...I don't feel like using the "S" word that rhymes with "crow.")

Through yesterday, according to WOWT (the local NBC affiliate),
the Omaha Metro has picked up 48.0" of the frozen stuff. (Last winter, through 2-27-2018, 14.6" had fallen around here...an area in which the average had been 21.0".)

The local record for frozen precip for one winter: 67.6", which took place around here in the winter of 1911-12. 

Lots of demoralized people around here right now. 

Let's face it: I'm one of them, too.

When it comes to why the winter of 2018-19 has been so brutal, with its frequent blizzards teaming up with long stretches of bitter cold, some people will tell you it's all cyclical (and that we were spoiled around here the previous two winters).

Others tell you that it's all because America is paying for its sins.

Still other folks chalk it up to climate change. 

After all, the fact that the world's average yearly temperature has risen- with most of the twenty warmest years in the world's history having taken place since 2000- has made storms (winter and nonwinter alike) more frequent and more violent.

With all that, and humanity's role in bringing about climate change, atmospheric forces (according to some folks) have told us that the bill is due.

What's your take on all this that's going on outdoors? 

Saturday, February 9, 2019

"Jim Boston, how could you skip a month from your own blog?"

Well, here's how:

Last month, I stumbled onto the world's biggest social network and educational center for creatives in movies, television, and the stage.

And I got hooked!

It's none other than Stage 32, and right now, it's up to 500,000 members worldwide...more people than live here in Omaha (by itself, not counting the suburbs). 

For almost three years, I've been trying to kickstart a pursuit that hooked me from 1980 to 1994: Screenwriting.

When I was still attending Iowa State University, I bought a paperback copy of the script to the 1973 classic "American Graffiti." I really liked the way George Lucas (the movie's director...that's right, that George Lucas!), Gloria Katz, and Willard Huyck wrote the story.

Bought a couple of handbooks on writing for TV and for movies...and I've still got one of them to this very day: "The Television Writer's Handbook," a 1978 publication Constance Nash and Virginia Oakey teamed up to bring to the world.

Then in 1979, as an elective, I enrolled in a screenwriting class Joe Geha conducted. The chief project for each class member was a 30-minute script...and I ended up concocting a TV sitcom pilot called "Long Way," about two women who drove a truck for a Central Iowa soft-drink bottling company. (I worked at such a company during the summers of 1976 and 1978...and liked it!)

The next year, I moved here to the Big O, where I tried and tried and tried to come up with movie scripts (when I wasn't working for a local inventory service). I subscribed to Writer's Digest as well as something called Hollywood Scriptletter, a newsletter that, in the mid-1980s, was renamed Hollywood Scriptwriter.  

Through WD, I found out about the Peggy Lois French Agency. Armed with another TV sitcom pilot ("Edna's Garage," about a New Orleans auto mechanic and her crew), I tried to get representation through that Sun City, CA firm...but I was told: "You haven't had enough life experience." 

Not even working for my dad at his own Des Moines auto-reconditioning firm during the summers of 1969-72 and 1977 (as well as most Saturdays from 1969-72) supposedly counted to the PLFA staff. 

Well, in the middle 1980s, I joined a screenwriters' support group. In those pre-Internet days, we mainly wrote letters to each other. Things were fine...until a letter from a Phoenix member named Willi Waltrip stated that I should give up trying to write scripts and, instead, peck out novels.


I dropped out of the group, stopping trying for a few years to write scripts, then got back into it by 1990- two years after I'd moved from Omaha to Sioux City, IA. 

Between 1990 and 1994, I'd typed out four more screenplays...then packed it in as I started hitting the unemployment lines as the used-record-and-tape-and-CD store I moved to Sioux City to help launch got ready to call it quits.

I was through trying to cook up screenplays. That was it.

Until 2016.

Three years before that,
Nick Holle (who teamed up with Michael Zimmer to helm a 2012 documentary about the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest and Festival, "The Entertainers") gave me his Power Mac G5 computer...originally purchased by a former OTPP contestant,
Brent Watkins (who teamed up with his wife Jackie to help produce the documentary).

This Power Mac had- and still has- a copy of Final Draft 6. (Yeah, I know...that was five Final Draft iterations ago.)

But since 4-18-2016, I've been using that copy of Final Draft 6 to get back in the screenwriting race, cooking up a fresh-out-of-the-box, 2010s effort and refurbishing three others (two from the 1980s and one from the 1990s). 

I've learned a lot from logging onto Richard Botto's claim to fame
...especially when it comes to how a spec script should look. First of all, I learned that, in today's screenwriting, you don't refer to camera angles in a spec script. You keep character descriptions to, basically, age and traits. 

And every scene, in addition to being "EXT." or "INT.," must also be labeled "DAY" (if not "MORNING" or "AFTERNOON") or "NIGHT."

I've never been more fired up about writing scripts than I am right now, thanks to Stage 32 (named after Paramount's Stage 32, a property that previously was in the hands of the old RKO Studios; in fact, "Citizen Kane" was filmed on that very stage).

And I can't wait to pitch my stuff, either. Stage 32, matter of fact, has a page full of listings for pitch sessions.

Well, all I can say after that is: Log onto stage32.com to see what all the hoopla is. And if you'd like to see any (or all four) of the screenplays I've loaded onto Stage 32, just visit stage32.com/profile/673680/scripts_screenplays. 

Thanks, thanks, thanks for reading "Boston's Blog!"