Chapter Seven of Below the Line, a saga that begins with a prologue—a little life, interrupted

In the middle of the water where the cactus stands,
where the eagle raises itself up,
where the eagle screeches,
where the eagle spreads his wings,
where the eagle feeds,
where the serpent is torn apart,
where the fish fly,
where the blue waters and yellow waters join,
where the water blazes up,
where feathers came to be known,
among the rushes,
among the reeds where the battle is joined,
where the peoples from the four directions are awaited,
there they arrived, there they settled....
They called themselves Teochichimeca, Azteca, Mexitin.
They brought along the image of their god,
the idol that they worshipped.
The Aztecs heard him speak and they answered him;
they did not see how it was he spoke to them....

________________translated from the Nahuatl, Tlalocan 6, no. 4

North remembered vaguely stumbling into the combi—the VW bus that had brought them to Tres Caballeros. And he had some recollection of the odor of gasoline that threatened to make him spill his considerable luncheon feast right there in the front seat of Lil' Amigo's pride and joy. But the answer to the question of how they were going to get back to Chiliverde at a reasonable hour evaded him completely. That they were caught in a monumental traffic jam, with the sun flopping on the horizon like a strangled fish, he had no doubt.

The afternoon had grown thick with el sol's effort to push its way through the noxious oxide byproducts of internal combustion engines. Shadows had become long but indistinct, as though a veil of uncertainty had been drawn across the city.

Don was definitely unstable. He tried to focus outside the van's dusty, wiper-streaked windshield. Red taillights coiled away from him like plastic fluorescent serpents, intent on mocking his failure to see one of anything. Aided in his effort by a quick right turn on the part of Lil' Amigo, North turned to find the girls all lumped in a heap in the back of the combi. Nobody said anything and it was plain to see some damage had been done.

"I love a parade," he managed to squeeze out in the direction of Lil' Amigo, referring, he supposed, to the traffic jam ahead. The kid, who looked too young to drive and was wearing totally mirrored sunglasses that appeared spackled with birdshit, nodded back at him. He was driving to the right of vehicles that were themselves straddling the white line on the right side of what passed for a freeway in these parts, on the goddamn shoulder of the road. The van teetered—Don thought—at a perilous angle, threatening to roll over and spill Don's drink at any moment. Lil' Amigo beeped the pathetic Volkswagen horn and gave the assembled vehicles the stick-finger of disdain. Fuck you. Some things transcended language Don thought he thought.

North reached forward—twice—to try and turn on the radio. The radio was, as usual, quite elaborate, in the manner of most of Bernardo Ballone's Chiliverde Chariots: Tape Deck; AM/FM; CB and even two shortwave bands, plus an equalizer. There seemed to be a lot of news on. Mexican News. Devaluation of the Peso Top Story. Fuck. Mariachi Shit. Mexican Montovani. An Ad for Playtex Tampons, he thought it sounded like.

He was praying for a little Crosby, Stills, and Nash when Lil' Amigo pipes up:

"You like Chac Mool?"

Jock Mal, Don thought he heard him say. Like, a Mean Mexican Jai Alai Player. Lyle Alzado. Refrigerator Perry. Don shrugged his shoulders:

"Zit godda beat?"

Lil' Amigo took both hands off the wheel, snapped his fingers excitedly and for too long a time, and reached into his side door pocket to come up with a cassette, one of those nine-dollar jobs with the metal wheels and fancy leaders. He handed it to Don and stated simply:

"You like Chac Mool!"

Somebody had done a very intricate pen and ink drawing on the home-made tapebox liner and filled it in with water colors: a kind of mummy-looking thing with a flat head, lying on its back with its legs drawn up and a sort of small tabletop balanced on its knees. Like an idol, Don guessed, but colorful: red and blue and white and green. There were puffy white clouds gathered over the figure and rain was falling down in great blue drops.

Lil' Amigo again snapped his fingers in some kind of bullshit salsa rhythm. He pointed to the drawing: "Chac Mool. Very heavy." Don looked at him through weighted eyelids. "Better than AC/DC!"

"Oh, Bueno!" said Don, coming to a semblance of his senses and scooping the tape into Lil' Amigo's deck like it was a long-lost Beatles album with Pete Best and Ringo on drums. "In that case...."

The kid started leaning on the VW's horn as the first few measures of music blared out of what seemed like two dozen speakers but may have only been ten. The three girls in back didn't hear a note, lending new meaning to the phrase 'dead to the world.' Don was marveling at their degree of drunkenness and the various angles and planes of their splayed and skewed limbs, like Raggedy Anns at the end of a very long day. Likewise, he marveled at what he perceived to be one of life's truisms: that Heavy Metal was Heavy Metal was Heavy Metal whether it was in English, Spanish or Bad Taste.

Lil' Amigo gunned his van forward into a hole in the traffic, got into second gear, and they were off, on the second Mr. Toad's Wild Ride of Don North's totally...

North was drunk enough to forget that he'd been holding a huge glass of Mexican Coffee between his knees. Hot liquid, whipped cream and the cherry sloshed onto his lap. Don slapped at it with his free hand, licking the stuff off his fingers. It tasted good, like candy. He slam-dunked the cherry back into the glass for later, slugged down a good hit of the concoction for courage, and reached for the sissy handle above the door for security. Lil' Amigo was shooting for the Grand Prix of Demolition Derbys, no question about that.

The VW careened down the right side of a hopelessly crowded off-ramp, swung a hard left, and a right, and they were on a dark, unfinished boulevard, basically a lower level of the freeway with curved sides, something like an aqueduct. Loose gravel pelted the underside of the van like machine gun rounds. Lil' Amigo was dodging his way around furloughed bulldozers, dumptrucks, and 55 gallon oil drums that had kerosene lamps on top and Cuidado or Alto written on the side. The lamps, for the most part, had been lit. The sun had disappeared behind the forty foot high concrete wall that ran parallel to the road and was covered with political slogans in garish electric colors.

Communist, Don thought. To die, at night, in a country that was leaning left, at the hands of a boy with dubious taste in music and bird shit on his glasses, it was too much for North to consider. He sucked a long stream of hot coffee, Kahlua, and tequila through the little straw Tres Caballeros had so thoughtfully provided, that he might not get whipped cream on his chin. If he lived to fish the maraschino cherry from the bottom of the glass, his day will have been good. Life grows simpler the nearer to its end you get.

The music of Chac Mool grew more demonic; loud, like thunder in a dream. There was a swishy kind of electric guitar riff that reminded North of sheets of rain, falling in a rush, like monsoon one time hard by the South China Sea. In a way, the music was beginning to relax him. There was an odd sense of security in knowing one measure was going to be the same as the measure proceeding it, the same way that that measure had been identical to the one before it, and on, through to the beginning of the unnatural life of a song by a group called Chac Mool whose lyrics he couldn't understand but whose song, he knew, would end in a manner similar to that with which it had begun.

The familiar circularity of extreme inebriation had overtaken Don North. The roadway, the barriers, the kerosene lamps and the political graffiti had begun to rotate on an axis that ran through a hole in the back of his brain, out the windshield of the van, and on towards an infinity of possibilities that was less unpleasant than it was inevitable. Faster and faster his living dream turned, Alto Cuidado Alto Cuidado racing past his peripheral vision. There was a queasy feeling in the pit of his stomach that he knew could come to no good end. He reached for the flimsy handle of his window and slowly, with great effort, began to turn it. It turned in the opposite direction of his lifedream. It was wrong. There was a feeling of notrightness ...something would have to give.

Don felt a sticky sliver of warm air rush through the tiny crack at the top of his window. He tried to stick his head through the slipstream of his lifedream which was spinning erratically now, starting to tumble. There was a feeling he might go flying end over end, crashing through the oil drum barriers into some dark place in the night that was stretching out in front of him. Alto Alto Alto. Don felt himself start to fall forward. He held out both hands to brace himself against the dashboard. Great pressure, inertia, was forcing his head towards the windshield. They were going to crash. They were going to die. He saw his face from the radio's point of view. His eyes were exploding with the force of the impact. His teeth would tear through his lips and shatter on the cassette deck in little pieces that would lie on the floor of the van, unclaimed, in the rain in some wrecking yard in a dark corner of the world's most populous city. He had wasted two thousand dollars on new crowns.

The van's tin horn sounded. Long and mournful in his life dream: Beeeep Beeeeep Beeeeeeep. They seemed to be stopped. North caught a streak of red and white that moved across his vision from right to left, like a gate opening at the end of the great unfinished highway of life.

"Hey!" came Judy's voice from the rear of the van. "We're here!"

A dusky guard in a blue uniform with a cigarette dangling from his lips waved them through. There was a reel of film painted in blue on the wall of a building directly opposite, illuminated in the van's headlights. Next to the film was a sign: Bienvenidos a Estudio Chiliverde.

"Hey!" said Lil' Amigo, working his jaws furiously from the adrenal rush of the journey. "You like Chac Mool?"

Don North ejected the tape, placed it in its elegantly hand-crafted slipcase, and held the package up to the boy.

"I'd like to hang onto this a while, hunh Lil' Amigo?"

"Sure! No problem! I like their new one more! You keep it!"

"Terrific," said North. "¡Con mucho gusto!" He swung his body heavily out of the van, standing with some difficulty and sliding back the door for the girls. They spilled forth from Lil' Amigo's Deathmobile, chattering like birds and remarkably refreshed.

As he watched the girls flutter to the stairway like cheerleaders sleepy and giggling after an away game, Don thought he felt the night turn quickly cool. Light and delicate drops of rain fell softly through the air, pattering quietly in the dust.


Ana Maria Cadena had brewed five big pots of coffee in two hours. Everybody, it seemed, had the same idea: a quick dinner and a few drinks to get them through the production meeting. The office was really starting to fill up now. Mostly, it was the Art Department. Props was here. Wardrobe. Two guys she hadn't met from Special Effects were discussing napalm with great expertise. Smiley was hanging out in the outer office with his strange stripling apprentice, though she didn't see anybody who might be the editor. Transportation American was here but Bernardo Ballone wasn't. She wouldn't take bets he'd show. He'd spent three days negotiating with the Mexican army over equipment. It was a delicate matter, and probably the most important matter at the moment.

Neither production manager had arrived yet, though Luis, she knew would not be late. Jack, the American, she was not so sure about. Her first instinct was he would be trouble. Things had not gone well so far, and now that the company had arrived, it could only get worse. Potential trouble spot. Make a mental note.

Both gaffers and key grips were enjoying beers, no doubt their first of many tonight. The sound man, his boom operator, the set decorator and the makeup artist were playing cards with the Mexican construction coordinator and one of the two American production assistants, as well as the unit publicist who was American but looked Mexican. Nobody from camera had yet arrived.

Jacques and Jessica and their gang were arguing among themselves over the best way to motivate their peones. Ana could see that Rosita, sitting quietly by Wendy in a corner nearby, was embarrassed. The pinche gringos sounded so idiotic, speaking of the Mexicans like they were so many head of cattle, too dumb to think their way through a situation. Ana was used to it. It was prejudice, pure and simple, unconscious though it may have been. It was the one thing about Norteamericanos that really stuck in her craw. But she hated to see Rosita exposed to it all the same.

A delivery boy arrived with the pizzas, followed closely by Smiley and his apprentice who took the boxes from him. Ana had ordered pizza for Steve Cates and his stuntmen. They were still rehearsing at the Lincoln Center set. Most of the stunt doubles would go home, but she was sure Steve would bring his two right-hand men to the meeting. And Theodora would be there, of course. She and Steve had been inseparable, the girl had confided, ever since they'd met on the set of ROMANCING THE STONE, which had done heavy location work in Durango. Ana hadn't had the pleasure; she'd been too busy with FALCON.

She paid the boy, throwing in a healthy tip as insurance against future emergency orders. Too bad he'd have to ride his little motorbike back in the rain. It was only a drizzle, but it seemed to want to keep up a while. Rather unseasonable, she thought, though God, if it's going to rain, let it rain now and not when we get outside with the tanks and helicopters and pyro.

"All right!" crowed Don North, who had made a remarkable recovery from his stupor of an hour ago. "Pepperoni for the kid, Ana Maria!" He started foraging through the pizza boxes. Ana smiled. North was like an over-grown kid, a jumbo-sized Peter Pan.

"Anybody wants pizza before Little Donald finishes it all better hurry up!" warned Ana. "And there's beer in the fridge!" She hurried out of the path of the rush of pizzalovers. "It's Budweiser!"

Ana Maria Cadena retreated to the relative peace and quiet of the kitchenette, across the hall from the room with the big table where the meeting would be held. There was room in the corner, where the American beer had been sitting before she'd had it refrigerated, and Ana Maria sat down in the corner on the floor and watched the people walking back and forth between the offices and into the room with the big table.

She was feeling blue. It was, she knew, the first of the series of letdowns that accompany the delivery of any modern motion picture. The groundwork had been laid. They had prepped and what-if'd and factored and made-do and substituted and corrected and proposed and submitted and speculated. They had planned and spent and bought and built and painted and sculpted and argued and rebuilt and proposed again. They had hired and fired and cajoled and encouraged and begged and pleaded and promised and delivered.

And now the only thing left to do was shoot the movie. Ana watched from her kitchen corner as Laszlo Miljacovich entered the hall that led past her to the room with the big table. He was wearing an electric yellow slicker and wading boots, as though he were heading for a wet and windy location instead of stepping from an Ostentoso. Knowing Laszlo, it was a joke. His round red smiling face resembled, she thought, Santa Claus. With Laszlo, dressed in similar foul-weather gear, was his son, Gabor. Gabor was the camera operator. UNTITLED was his first feature. He had, thought Ana, all of his father's charm and none of his talent. But he was young. Perhaps he would learn.

"Camera's ready!" called Gabor, which got a laugh from the company because anybody who's ever watched a film unit in action knows most of the day is spent lighting the set. Camera worked harder than anybody, though it was arcane work; difficult to know what they were doing unless you understood the process. Gabor grabbed a Bud off the table in the room across the hall and headed for the pizzas which had been decimated by Smiley and his apprentice and the others.

Laszlo stopped in front of the kitchen and peered down kindly and inquisitively at Ana Maria.

"You are being punished?" he queried.

"I am praying," she answered.

"For rain?" His Santa Claus eyes twinkled.

"For peace and quiet."

"I wouldn't bother," said Laszlo, rocking his head resignedly.

Ana nodded. She looked very tired. Laszlo reached into the pocket of his slicker and pulled out a package of mints. Chocolate ones, from the airline. He opened the box and held out a candy for Ana, remembering, for the briefest second, a German soldier in a poncho in a city in the rain in his childhood. Ana smiled. She took the mint. Laszlo held out his arm grandfatherly.

"Would you honor me with your presence at this long and boring affair? I would fall asleep without you." Ana brightened. Laszlo was a good and kind man. He was also a bit of a lech, though a little of that was charming in a man with the edges smoothed down. She stood, snuggling herself against him, though the slicker was shiny with cool wet rain.

Ana's hair smelled clean and Laszlo brushed it with the corner of his mouth, more like a lover than an uncle might, but innocent nonetheless. Ana was smiling up at him when Gerry Gold flew into the corridor from the outer office. He was still wearing his tennis togs which revealed his bandaged knees. He was half-yelling half-whispering at Judy, who had herself accounted for one of the pots of coffee that Ana had brewed.

"Let's just leave it!"

"But Gerry—"

"Just fucking drop it, OK, Judy?!"

Gerry spotted Laszlo looking owlishly over his shoulder at him and hurried to embrace his director of photography. Ana retreated quickly, noting that Judy was quite upset.

Ana hated the way certain kinds of American men hugged other men who were not particularly close to them. Gerry hugged Laszlo too tight and too long and then the two of them walked into the room with the table and the company. Ana looked questioningly at Judy who shrugged it off and said:

"You have a cigarette?"

"I thought Gerry didn't like you smoking?" Ana replied.

Judy thought a second and then made her declaration:

"Fuck him," she said, and then, while she was accepting the cigarette Ana offered: "It's an old Jewish saying." Ana took a cigarette for herself, lit them both, and Judy held the door to the outer office open, motioning for Ana to follow her.

"I want to thank you for this afternoon."

Ana sat on the sofa underneath a mocked-up one-sheet for the picture featuring Deirdre, Jeff and the statue. She spread her arms on the back of the sofa and crossed her legs. Ana's legs were very long and very shapely, like those of a ballerina who was too beautiful for the corps, and Judy felt a familiar twinge of jealousy that she knew she could never lose.

"It was nothing," said Ana Maria Cadena. "I was glad we were there. Gerry was acting the pendejo."

"I know," said Judy. "It's his greatest talent."

"They would have put him in jail you know."

"I know."

"He is not in Beverly Hills."

Judy smiled:

"They would have put him in jail in Beverly Hills too. I've bailed him out before."


"Yeah. He gets like he's on PCP or something. He doesn't drink or do anything. He's just on a natural high. It pisses people off."

Ana spoke very seriously, removing her hands from the top of the sofa and placing them in her lap:

"He should try not to piss people off."

The door opened and a stranger slipped into the room. His hair and green wool jacket were lightly flecked with rain and he smiled at Judy and then at Ana Maria. Ana Maria noticed first that Judy had brightened considerably and second that the stranger was quite tall and blonde. She turned to him, swinging her head slightly so her hair lay on her shoulder and not in her face. The man stood in the doorway a beat. Ana was aware of the noise from the rest of the company. She stared into the smoke of her cigarette in the ashtray as though it belonged to someone else. The man spoke at last:

"'m I late?"

"No!" said Judy a little too loud and perhaps too musically. "Everybody's inside. This is just girl talk." Ana smiled and turned her body slightly towards the stranger who closed the door behind him.

"I don't think you two have met," said Judy reluctantly. "Will Stover, this is Ana Maria Cadena."

Stover waited for Ana to extend her hand, and when she did, he took it, noticing that it was moist, as a baby's in a carriage in the summer sun. He couldn't help but notice also that the line of her neck and shoulder was gorgeous as a poem, that her legs would put a Lamborghini's flank to shame, and that her eyes were interested. Subdued, but interested.

"Will is our editor."

Ana raised her eyebrows and nodded her head slightly.

"So!" she said, turning her gaze to Will. "It is a pleasure."

"Ana is the one we can't do without," said Judy.

"Locations and second assistant," demurred Ana Maria Cadena.

"Deus ex machina!" snorted Judy with her college education showing.


"A long story," said Ana. "Another time?" She stood.

"For sure," said Will Stover. Ana left, returning to the company.

Will enjoyed watching her walk.

"You need a phone number?" asked Judy sarcastically.

"A drink!" answered Will. "Something warm. It's starting to pour out there!"

Steve Cates and Amanda arrived with Jeff Brock's stunt double, wiry Lou Randall, in tow. Judy made the introductions. Cates reminded her of the sort of sun-burnt surfer-types she'd known, well-muscled and assured. His girlfriend was willowy, taller perhaps than Deirdre Malone, and coarser, with the small-town Southern girl still very much in evidence. She was at least fifteen years younger than the stuntman.

"I admire your work," said Will Stover, referring to APOCALYPSE NOW, two of the STAR WARS, and four or five of the biggest action films of the past ten years.

"You're the guy who makes it work," said Cates graciously to UNTITLED's editor. "Me and Lou just do our thing."

Judy checked her watch. They had a few minutes.

"So how'd it go today?" she queried.

"Smooth," said Cates. "We've got some good kids." He explained, for Will's benefit:

"Stunt guys today don't know the old tricks. There's not so much physical stuff anymore. I can find a guy to crash an airplane by looking in the phone book, but fighters I gotta teach." He threw a roundhouse playfully at Lou Randall who parried it neat and quick.

"Louie, here, he's a natural. My main man."

"We'll be ready," said Randall. "And the Mexicans are good, they really are."

"They're hungry," added Cates. "You were hungry once, Louie, remember that?"

"I'm hungry now. Any eats?"

"Ah!" said Judy. "My department. There's pizza in the conference room. Anthony should be here soon. You better grab some."

Luis and Jack, the production managers, arrived. More introductions followed as they all made their way to the conference room.

The atmosphere around the big table resembled a family reunion. Many of the company had already made trips down that fall. Acquaintances were renewed. The Art Department, of course, had been at Chiliverde since July. They were the experts on things Mexican: where to eat, what to see. They were relieved, it seemed, to be surrounded at last by countrymen. There were hugs and kisses; mutual friends noted; rumors acknowledged, denied, amplified.

Will Stover met Smiley Ochoa at last. He felt he knew the man, since they'd discussed equipment and Will's preferences, as well as Anthony's, since before Thanksgiving on the telephone. He was impressed with Smiley's intelligence, his friendliness. Other department heads experienced similar sensations. There was the sense of a large, ungainly, complicated machine slowly lubricating itself, gearing up for action.

Judy Silver took this in, with great pleasure. In a profound way, this was her family. She had built this machine, intricate piece by piece, based on her gut feelings in interviews that stretched back almost a year already. She and Anthony and Gerry had argued and cajoled and agreed, finally, that this group of individuals would be the center of their world for months to come. What it was all about, however—the motion picture that would result from their interaction in the days ahead—was something else again. Nobody could predict the size, shape or color of their baby. UNTITLED was, as Anthony Essex had put it in a candid moment, "like any movie ever made, a crapshoot."

Gerry Gold got the feeling almost immediately, as he glanced bright-eyed around the room, that his company could cure cancer. He toted up his coup on mental fingers: Laszlo Miljacovich—two Academy Awards; Jacques De Cuir—nominated three times, should have won twice; Steve Cates—best large-scale stunt coordinator working. There were less-experienced people aboard—wardrobe, the editor, many of the Mexicans. But these had been hand-picked by Anthony Essex and Anthony was—without a doubt—his ace in the hole.

"Ladies and Gentlemen of the Academy," Gerry would say, "words cannot describe the emotions I'm feeling tonight. This is, literally, a dream come true." He would fondle the heavy gold statuette, remembering the heartache and the shit he'd taken during it all. "Ten years ago, I read a book I loved. Tonight, I stand before you in gratitude...and...I wanna tell ya something—I just read another great book! Jacques, Steve, Will, Tony...let's do it again!" The applause would wash over him, and girls who looked the other way would change their tune. He would be a winner. He had always wanted to be a winner.

Gerry checked his watch: shit, he didn't have his watch. He craned his head around to glance at the script girl's watch: it was a SwatchTM, one of those trendy things from Switzerland, probably cost thirty bucks. The script girl was not his type, though he wouldn't kick her out of bed: a mountain-woman, muscular, from San Bernardino with frizzed-out hair and faint acne scars on her high cheekbones. Anthony liked her cause she wasn't too cute and she spoke Spanish. It was a minute and a half to seven. Gerry decided to start the meeting:

"Unh, kids!" He rapped the table lightly with his knuckles but the noise in the room was great and nobody paid attention. He rapped harder:

"You guys wanna gimmee your attention up here a minute?" They quieted down. Heads started to swivel; there was a noise of pizza being chewed.

"While we're waiting for Anthony, I wanna welcome you all to our home away from home here—except for the natives, of course—"

He smiled awkwardly and nodded towards Ana and Smiley and Luis. "—but welcome to you too, obviously." The Mexicans smiled indulgently.

"I hope you all don't have too much planned for later tonight, cause we gotta lotta ground to cover here, which is why I figure we better get started." A low murmur ran through the group. Judy had edged over to Gerry. She whispered:

"Shouldn't we wait for Anthony?" Gerry gave her a withering look, as if to say 'I'm in charge here, goddammit!'

"Anthony probably got held up in your traffic—" again a nod to the principal Mexicans, "but he gets here anytime between now and..." he craned a look at the Swatch in front of him "...oh, one AM or so, he'll find us."

A collective groan issued forth.

"I've been going over the board for the first three weeks, with an eye to picking up a couple days here." He turned to the production board behind him. There was much shuffling of chairs. Judy was uneasy. She heard the door in the outer office open and close and she hoped it wasn't Bernardo Ballone with bad news from the Army. Many in the company heard the door too, for they waited expectantly, half-counting the steps down the corridor to the room with the table.

Sir Anthony Essex appeared at the door in a porkpie hat graced with a green feather. An umbrella was rolled tightly under his arm. The crew broke into spontaneous applause. The director allowed it to build expertly, let it peak and start to die as he bowed gracefully, and never took his eyes from Gerry Gold, who was feeling most definitely upstaged.

"Thank you sincerely," said Anthony. "I assume you like my chapeau."

They guffawed and he had them in the palm of his hand.

"I may be tardy," he said most particularly for Jerry's benefit, "but I am not wet. At my age that is an accomplishment." More applause. Polite. They were settling down to business.

"Those of you I know...I am happy to see again. Those of you I don't know...I hope you're aware of what you're facing. We have a difficult proposition before us. I shall endeavor to keep our heads above water, though if tonight is any indication," he glanced towards the window and the rain clouds beyond, "I advise scuba apparatus for the frail and elderly.

"Seeing as how I haven't had my breakfast yet, I'm sure you're all much better prepared than I to discuss impediments to shooting on Wednesday. I'd like to ask two questions..." He turned to Jacques De Cuir and Jessica Salkin:

"Is the Art Department ready?"

"We will be," answered Jacques, in all honesty.

"Good." He turned to Laszlo:

"Mr. Miljacovich's equipment has arrived?"

"It has," affirmed Laszlo.

"Excellent. Since we have no transportation or special effects of note for the first day, I'm going to bed. There is a case of rather good native champagne on its way here, along with something perhaps a bit more palatable than that." He pointed, with a finger of ghastly disdain, at the pizza.

"I urge you to enjoy yourselves, and I bid you goodnight."

A kind of surprised murmur followed by applause broke out and then two peones with the wine and food arrived. Anthony kissed Judy on the cheek, whispered something encouraging to her and was gone, walking slowly away from the room with the table.

Gerry Gold stood slack-jawed by his production board and Don North couldn't believe what he'd witnessed. There was a flash of lightning and a nearby jaguar-growl of thunder, and then the rain began in earnest, pounding on the roof of the room with the table as though it had been sent to entertain a god.


On Hollywood and filmmaking:

Below the Line

sex drugs and divorce

a little life, interrupted
  1. Hecho en Mejico
  2. Entrances
  3. Sam's Song
  4. Hemingway and Fortuna
  5. Hummingbird on the Left
  6. The Long and Drunken Afternoon
  7. Safe in the Lap of the Gods
  8. Quetzal Birds in Love
  9. Angela in Paradise
  10. And the machine ran backwards

a secondhand coffin
how to act
Right. Me and Herman Melville
Scylla and Charybdis Approximately
snowflakes and nylon

I could've kissed Orson Welles
the broken dreams of Orson Welles
the last time I saw Orson Welles
The Other Side of the Wind

Below the Line
Charles Durning
completion bond
Film Editing
Film Editor
Final Cut Pro
forced development
HD Video
king of the queens
Kubrick polishes a turd
movies from space
Persistence of Vision
Sven Nykvist
Wilford Brimley

21 Grams
Andrei Rublyov
Apocalypse Now Redux
Ivan's Childhood
The Jazz Singer
The Sacrifice
We Were Soldiers
Wild Strawberries

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