Archive for the ‘Reality’ Category

Trailer for “Altar Rock” is here!

Friday, March 8th, 2019

India Eisley and KJ Apa as Tillie and Niko.

KJ Apa plays Archie Andrews in the number one CW show, Riverdale, and India Eisley just starred in the TNT miniseries I Am the Night with co-star Chris Pine.

“Altar Rock” is in final editing stages, and here is the first trailer for the film, due to be released late this year.

James Remar as FBI Agent Cantrell.

Scott Atkins as Marco

Filming at the title location, “Altar Rock”

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“Altar Rock” finally to editing stage.

Friday, April 21st, 2017

Who knew a film could have so many more obstacles to overcome once it’s already been filmed, but the good news is that “Altar Rock” is finally being edited for a release later this summer or fall. And further good news is that co-star KJ Apa is a rapidly rising star appearing as Archie Andrews in the second season of “Riverdale,” the Number One show on the CW Network. Plus, he plays a high school student on that show, and in our movie he’s an older cab driver on Nantucket, so the delay will not affect the story.

Tillie and Niko, the romantic leads (India Eisley and KJ Apa)

James Remar as FBI agent Cantrell

Scott Adkins as Marco

Marco and Niko together

Tillie on phone to Niko

Niko driving his cab

Filming prep at the title location, “Altar Rock”

Filming a scene on the beach

Screenwriter Wayne Carter, India Eisley, Sydney Park and Exec. Producer/Co-screenwriter Kristin Alexandre

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Now in post production…

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016


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Now in Production

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

“Altar Rock,” the suspense-thriller feature I co-wrote, is now in production in Duxbury, Massachusetts. Here’s the latest press release so far. This is a hugely ambitious project for an independent feature and I have my fingers crossed they can bring the production in on budget and with no major snafus. It’s a miracle any independent film can get this far these days so to be in production is already a huge achievement, but when you see the finish line close by, you just want your vision to finally cross that line. But it was thrilling to visit the production, have my son spend a week with me, and to witness the 75-man crew, cast and equipment mounting this production – to see his father’s work come to life. Proud moment.

Altar Rock cast

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Gregory Pace/BEI/Shutterstock (5689832ck) KJ Apa CW Upfront Presentation, New York, America - 19 May 2016

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Gregory Pace/BEI/Shutterstock (5689832ck)
KJ Apa
CW Upfront Presentation, New York, America – 19 May 2016

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… in pre-production

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

Altar Rock
When you haven’t submitted a blog in months, something must be going on. Fortunately, it’s all good. The suspense-thriller feature film, “Altar Rock,” I co-wrote with executive producer Kristin Alexandre is in pre-production for a shoot this Summer and I have finished revisions based on notes from director Andrzej Bartkowiak (pictured below). Below is an announcement about the film in Variety.  I may use the blog to update news on the production, so stay tuned if you are interested. Otherwise, please enjoy my archive blogs for now.


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Encounter with a small, humble and shocked comedienne

Saturday, September 6th, 2014

(UPDATE: Very sad to see Joan passed away September 4, 2014, but I stick by the re-telling of this story as I know one tough and funny broad would appreciate.)

Originally posted June 1, 2010

Dear Joan,

Remember this letter in the Los Angeles Times Calendar section for June 17, 1984:


When is NBC going to wake up and give Joan Rivers her own late night talk show? They don’t have to get rid of Johnny Carson – just put him on after David Letterman. Then Joan could have the best laughs, Johnny the last one, and we’d all be happy.

I was moved to write the letter because Johnny Carson’s show had been getting a little stale of late, and every time you had guest hosted, the energy lifted, the gossip barbs flew out like cluster bombs, and I was entertained.

And I guess my letter entertained you, because the day after it ran in the paper I got a phone call from your assistant in Las Vegas, where you were currently performing. The assistant said you saw the letter, were very grateful, and you wanted to personally invite me to attend your next nightclub show when you were in L.A.

Was I being punked? It turns out not. I got another call soon after saying I had been put on the V.I.P. guest list for your appearance at Carlos ‘n Charlie’s nightclub on Sunset Strip. Did I have any guests I wanted to bring? Well, my girlfriend, Danette, of course. We had been dating for a little more than a year, and wow, this would surely impress her.

We dressed in our finest 80’s nightclub wear; me in skinny tie and a textured jacket of multi-colors with the narrow lapels; my girlfriend with shoulder pads and the hair teased big.

When we arrived we were escorted to the front row of the club, just like the scene in Goodfellas where Ray and his main squeeze get the V.I.P. treatment. And for the next hour or so we heard you call every famous woman on the planet a ‘bitch,’ with scathing tales of venom, spite, gossip, and frankly, hilarity. Kathy Griffin owes everything in her act to you. Donald Rickles, who also knocked celebrities down to size in his act, was tame by comparison. He only called them ‘hockey pucks.’ You wielded the “B” word like a light saber. And we laughed our asses off. Or maybe we just felt compelled, since we were so conspicuous in the front row.

The show ended and, sure enough, we were invited backstage to meet you. You didn’t even wait for us to get to your dressing room. You came charging out of the room with a big smile on your face and your hand extended in generous friendship.

And that’s when it happened.

My girlfriend fired the “B” word right back at you.

“There’s the BITCH,” Danette loudly announced as you approached. I guess I forgot to mention that she was an actress, had just watched your act for an hour and a half, and probably wanted in on the fun and was playing it back to you. Don’t they say that imitation is the greatest form of flattery?

But it was something you definitely didn’t expect, and you stopped cold in your tracks like a mime hitting an invisible wall. Your smile disappeared. Your extended hand drooped faster than a granny tit from an unhooked bra. There was what seemed like an eternity of awkward silence.

But you’re a professional, and it took you only a few more moments to recover, put the hand up again and address me with gratitude.

“I read you letter in the Calendar,” you said, “And you made this old broad very happy.”

I don’t remember much past that. I’m sure you looked at Danette and shook her hand and tried to say something pleasant. But the bloom was off the rose. It was obvious at this point we weren’t going to be invited to party on any further that night with you or your entourage at the Beverly Hills Jockey Club, or go for blintzes at Cantor’s Deli, or anywhere else, for that matter.

You had been bitch-blocked. You weren’t that hot on meeting us anymore.

And for that, I’m sorry. Once you got past being playfully called a ‘bitch,’ you might have found us a fun couple. We could have had a few laughs.

But I guess you didn’t have quite the sense of humor when you were given a taste of your own medicine. What’s that they say, “You can dish it out, but you can’t take it.”

So for possibly dampening your evening, and not being welcome to hang out longer, I’m sorry.

But there’s no way I’m sorry for my girlfriend calling you a ‘Bitch.”

That was classic.

I had to marry that girl.

Twenty-six years later, we’re still together, and we recently went to a Kathy Griffin concert and listened to her call every other more famous woman a ‘bitch’ for ninety minutes.

Despite the laughs, I won’t be writing a letter to the newspapers praising her anytime soon.

And as far as bitches go, you’ll always be our “Number One.”

— A. Wayne Carter

Postscript – It’s clear now that Joan River’s offstage persona was completely different from the one she used onstage or on camera. Stories abound of her humble demeanor, generosity and support for good causes and underdogs. But it’s also understandable how anyone attending her shows or watching her on the E! channel might confuse the two. Let’s not canonize her. God knows Hollywood is full of egos that need taken down by size, but it’s also a breeding ground for insecurity and damaged and fragile psyches, and she often fired indiscriminate of the potential harm to the target. She should know. But she would no doubt be gratified to see her ‘other side’ winning the media coverage, and for that, she can truly rest in peace. 

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Encounter with a terribly shy man wearing a beret

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

robin williams

As we mourn his passing, here’s an excerpt from my book, Hollywoodaholic: Confessions of a Screenwriter about my encounter with Robin Williams. A sweet man, an incredible force-of-nature talent, and completely different persona offstage than on.

April 30, 1984

Dear John,

I haven’t worked since I last wrote you some two months back or so, but that’s not unusual. I’ve been living off my tax returns from last year and going to meetings.

Recess, which I wrote several years ago, has come to the forefront again. I asked my manager to send a copy to director Tony Richardson (The Loved One, an Oscar for Tom Jones). He’s an eccentric British director with a taste for the bizarre. Sure enough, he liked it a great deal and invited me up to his house to meet him. He has this huge, tropical-style plantation in the Hollywood Hills complete with exotic macaws, parrots and free-flying lovebirds in an adjacent outdoor aviary. He wouldn’t let me talk about any of his work, but went on raving about my script, saying it was the funniest thing he’d read in a long time. Now this came as great relief and vindication to me because, for seven years, all I’ve heard about it from the studio people and readers and such is ‘what the hell is this?” or, ‘this is too strange and will never get made.’ (The episodic plot, including adventures in the army and on an anchovy boat, narration by a character with a 10-year-old mentality, and a theme of innocence amid worldly corruption are oddly similar to a picture that would get produced ten years later called Forrest Gump.) Suddenly, here was an Academy Award-winning director erasing layers of abundantly applied doubt. He mentioned that he’d been talking to Robin Williams and would like to give it him. I left floating on air, but keeping an inward and skeptical vigil.

The next week I’m sitting outside an office waiting to go into a meeting with a story person who works for a cream-of-the-crop management firm (Woody Allen, Eddie Murphy, Williams, etc.) about something completely different, and suddenly Robin Williams walks in the back door. My first reaction is surprise, and my second is; ‘What’s that purple-covered script he’s carrying?’ People in the office get up to greet him and I’m standing there with my head twisted around trying to see the script and going, ‘could that be…?’

It was. My body shudders with a start and he’s standing right in front of me and I reach out my hand and introduce myself, ‘Hi, I’m Wayne Carter.’ He shakes my hand, looks at me oddly, looks down at the script, then looks up again and we both freak out. He goes, with revelation, ‘You wrote this script?’. I nod and we both freak out again. Meanwhile, his manager has to come out and is wondering what the hell is going on. Robin explains he was coming by to give him this script to read and consider, and here’s the author right here.

His manager freaks out. He thinks this is some sort of conspiracy. We try to explain that it’s a total coincidence and that Tony Richardson had sent the script to Robin. Robin and the manager excuse themselves and disappear into his office for some low conversation. Robin is backing away from me going, ‘this is very interesting, very interesting.’ He means the script.

I have to go to my regular meeting with one of the manager’s assistants, only now everyone in the office is abuzz with what’s happened and I am getting all sorts of attention and feel like a celebrity. I go into the meeting, explaining the coincidence again. Five minutes later, Robin’s manager joins my meeting, with interest. He’s still trying to figure out what’s going on. He listens closely and thinks aloud that what I’m pitching now (The Man Who Had the Ability to Enjoy Life) might be something for Eddie Murphy or Joe Piscopo.

Now, you might wonder (or not) how I’m handling myself through this whole shebang. Well, the answer is, I couldn’t have been cooler. And the reason is because, truthfully, I was numb with sickness. I had woken up with a sore throat, a cloudy head and the beginnings of the flu, so by the time I hit this meeting, I had backed away from my body as if it were some distant entity, and everything was coming at me through a shrouded, invisible tunnel. Hence, a total lack of nerves.

Anyway, the upshot of the thing is that it’s being talked about now between Tony, Robin, his manager and with feelers to the studio. I’m not holding my breath. My agent and I suspect his manager will try to steer Robin away from doing something this off-center, but you never know. The point is, if Robin wants to do it, and we already got Tony, THAT’S a package, in Hollywood terms. So I’m hoping, with caution. If nothing else, I had those moments; an Academy Award-winning director enthralled with my work; and that heart-stopping coincidence in the tiring life of a screenwriter when Robin Williams walked through that front door carrying nothing but one purple script, and I flinched and thought, ‘Could that be mine?’

(Ultimately the hard-ass manager did steer Williams to another project because he thought Tony Richardson -an Academy Award-Winning director, no less – wasn’t hot enough for Robin. I understand why Williams, who offstage is terribly shy and polite, needed a hard-ass manager, because you get the idea he would say yes to everything just to be a nice guy. But I still have a few sleepless nights thinking about what his appearing in my screenplay would have meant.)

P.S. – Robin Williams used to occasionally come in to the Comedy Store on Sunset Boulevard and go on after the last comedian of the night and just play for 90 minutes or so. You had to find out about these appearances through some inside intel, and my best friend was a stand-up comic who appeared there. So when my parents were visiting me from Maryland one time and I got the word, I dragged my poor 60 year-old father and mom to the Comedy Store and waited until 12:30 a.m. when Williams made one of his surprise no-time-limit appearances. We didn’t get out of there until after 2 a.m. and my dad was nearly catatonic, but I just had to expose my parents to the most electrifying and funniest man on the planet besides Richard Pryor (who might’ve shocked them a bit too much).

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I think it’s gonna be a long long time

Monday, July 14th, 2014

(Summer reruns while I work on a script. Here’s a favorite. Don’t forget to check the archive)

I live less than 50 miles from Cape Canaveral, formerly Cape Kennedy, and formerly Cape Canaveral before that.  Talk about an identity crisis.

And now it’s going through another one: What’s the mission?

This week there’s a scheduled launch of an unmanned Ares rocket, which could replace the Shuttle, now on its last scheduled flights in … well, forever. NASA has submitted several mission proposals and budgets to the government, but the government’s got its own budget problems. How can we send a spaceship to Mars when we can’t get our own Earthship in order? Why should we go back to the moon when we’ve already been there? And are we content to just send astronauts up like janitors to regularly empty the Porta Potty on the Space Station?

I find these choices and questions somewhat sad.

Fifty years ago, in 1960, I was playing with my Cape Canaveral toy set as an excitable young boy growing up in Maryland and dreaming about our great big space adventures to come. Our rival superpower, the Russians, had beaten us to space with Sputnick, and now President Kennedy was promising we would beat them to the moon within 10 years.

And, by golly, we did. In the most amazing run of technological breakthroughs, NASA team dedication, personal sacrifice, and fast track government and popular support this world has ever witnessed, we went from stranded on Earth in 1960, to stepping on the moon in 1969.

But we dreamed much bigger than that.

Our favorite prime time television cartoon at the time was The Jetsons, where a family like ours lived in a penthouse perched in the sky and traveled around in their own personal flying saucers. They also had a cool robot pet dog that fetched the newspaper. (Paper newspapers? In the future? Now that’s science fiction).

Our favorite books were science fiction treats like The Martian Chronicles and R is for Rocket by Ray Bradbury, who wrote of international space travel, aliens and other worlds as if they were already here, and a natural part of our daily life experience.

We went to the movies and watched 2001: A Space Odyssey, which evo-leaped us in the single tossing of a bone from raging primates to commercial passengers on celestial spaceships waltzing through the galaxy to “The Blue Danube.”

David Bowie sang about Ground Control to Major Tom in Space Oddity, and Elton John picked up on Ray Bradbury’s working stiff astronaut theme by singing as a Rocket Man, who punched a clock and did his job five days a week, but also had time to ponder why he was, “burning out my fuse up here alone.”

Star Trek, Space 1999, and Star Wars delivered us warp speed to a time where we had so distantly moved on to exploring (and fighting with) other worlds that living on Earth wasn’t even an afterthought anymore.

And beyond going to the moon … none of these things happened.

And none of them likely ever will. At least the way we’re headed now.

It was all just a fever dream fueled by huge leaps in rocket technology, hope, and great expectations.

My childhood imagination soared on those expectations.

And now, as an adult, I don’t even want us to spend one more dime to go anywhere else in the universe. I just want us to get Earth … right. I don’t want us to burn one more drop of ultra high octane rocket fuel further depleting the ozone layer and exposing the Earth to deadlier levels of radiation. I don’t want us to send one more man or woman into space unless it’s for some reason to really help us back here on Planet Earth, today. It’s not enough to live on the fantasy of what travel through the universe can deliver us anymore. We’ve got to deliver here, first.

This isn’t some tree-hugging idealist writing.

This is … merely a realist.

A realist who doesn’t think we need to completely abandon our dream of space, but just abandon the last century’s model and method of how we get there.

The next leap in evolution could be some matter-anti-matter dylithium crystal device breakthrough that beams us throughout the universe without burning fossil fuel or using any more precious resources, but it won’t be constructed from any blueprints left behind from the existing technology paradigm. It will be another great leap of imagination that re-invents the way we meet the stars.

You see, I’m still hopeful that we will explore the space beyond, and maybe even live there one day. But the realist in me now understands we must  find the way way out by better exploring the space within.  That’s where we’ll find even greater answers to the questions of what’s out there. That’s where the bigger mysteries wait to spark our inspiration and be revealed. And that’s where the next phase of space exploration can begin.

Maybe Cape Canaveral will still be the harbor for this new evolution and rename itself Cape Higher-Consciousness.

I can’t wait for that play set.

— A. Wayne Carter

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Watching Bill Maher, Religiously

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

(Summer reruns while I work on a script. Here’s a favorite. Don’t forget to check the archive.)

I watch Bill Maher, religiously. Every week. Like church.

He speaks truth to power in a manner so cool and rational and funny, it’s refreshing and entertaining beyond shit.

No matter who the guest or panelist is, he has a way to instantly disarm them with pure reason. It’s hard to argue when someone is brandishing the cold, hard, indisputable facts.

Unless, of course, the subject of religion comes up.

Suddenly, this cool, calculated rationalist begins ranting and raving; practically foaming at the mouth about gullibility, ignorance, stupidity and the ‘fairy tales’ of the believers.

To quote Shakespeare, “Methinks thou doth protest too much.”

How is a raving atheist spewing contempt and intolerance for believers in Jesus or any other faith any different than an evangelical Christian on the other side spewing condemnation and intolerance for heathen non-believers?

They are really mirror images of the same basic intolerance.

Who CARES what someone else believes? Nobody really knows. Why does it bug you so much, Bill? If someone wants to believe in Jesus, Mohammed, Scientology, Leprechauns, or the magic underwear of Mormonism, what’s it to you?

Sure, if someone uses religion to incite hatred and violence and war (as so often has been done throughout history, past and current), then expose it and condemn the hypocrisy of the agenda behind it. But don’t become one of them.

CNN has a religion column and 90 percent of the people who post comments to the column appear to be atheists angrily mocking or condemning the idea of faith, God, or religion. Religious columns online provoke more responses from atheists than actual followers of one faith or the other. What does this say?

Again, methinks they doth protest too much.

I have a theory that many atheists, and probably Bill Maher included, are burned believers. Why else would they get so riled up over what someone else believes?

At some time in their lives, perhaps in the early devout Catholic upbringing of the half-Jewish Bill Maher, they fervently believed in something. Maybe it was the power of prayer. Maybe it was the saving power of grace. Or maybe it was a miracle that just didn’t come through. They lost a parent or precious loved one or even a pet; the bully unjustly got away with his crime; or their parents stopped loving each other and divorced. So they threw away prayers or faith in anything beyond belief in the random cruelty or callousness of life, and embraced pure rationalism.

And now, any time someone else brings up faith or religion, it stirs their blood and those inner emotions and triggers a deep anger at something they once might have believed in and have since lost. How DARE someone else have faith in something?

It’s just a theory.

But I would also remind atheists or non-believers attempting art that almost every great masterpiece in the world of art or music was inspired by faith in something bigger than, or beyond the ego or rationalism of the artist.

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (that’s Jesus in man’s ‘Joy’ there)

Mozart’s Requiem

The Beatles “Let It Be”

Michelangelo’s Pieta or David or Sistine Chapel

Even a secular artist such as Paul Simon found his greatest inspiration in gospel music when he composed, “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

And what would Soul Music – think Marvin Gaye, Al Green or Otis Redding – be without the ‘soul?’ Probably just lifeless, uninspired programmed crap like the Black-Eyed Peas, “I Got a Feeling,” who’s only inspiration appears to be greed for a dance floor remix that has a shelf life about the same as milk.

John Lennon sang “imagine no religion” in his classic, “Imagine,” but he wasn’t talking about God or faith. He meant the use of religion by men as a form of control over others. And keep in mind he wrote this song after extensive experimentation in primary therapy writing cathartic songs like, “God,” and “Mother,” where he was screaming about the loss of … well, his mother. It happened when he was young. He probably prayed to have her in his life and felt betrayed. And he got angry. And later … he protested too much.

But he must have made his own peace eventually forgiving everyone else their silly beliefs in faith or God or religion or alcohol or pills or magic underwear, because one of the last NUMBER ONE hit songs he ever had was the very positive and cheerful, “Whatever Gets You Through the Night.”

It’s all right. It’s all right.

Here’s a simple test to determine whether you believe in some form of God or spiritual life.

Have you ever meditated? Do you believe in the power of meditation?

We’re not talking prayers. Prayer is ASKING for something from above or beyond yourself.

Meditation is LISTENING for something beyond yourself.

If you believe in the power of meditation, then you are not an atheist.

Because meditation is going within yourself to find a silence or inner peace beyond the chatter of your own mind.

It’s letting go of the ego or mask of identity you’ve created for yourself that pretends you really are separated from anyone or anything else.

It’s going within to find that inter-connectivity.

In physics, it’s called The Unified Field Theory. Everything in the universe; solid, gas, or liquid is really just dancing particles of energy suspended in space. Everything really is just ONE thing in a field or matrix.

In metaphysics, this inter-connectivity is called the Collective Unconscious, or Universal Consciousness.

In religion, followers call it God.

And to poets and dreamers, it’s called … Love.

Believe in that, Bill, and you just might find the inner peace and tolerance that evade holier-than-thou zealots who simply can’t “live and let live,” or “Believe what you want, and let believe.”

Believe in that, Bill, and you just might believe again.

I believe in you, Bill.

— A. Wayne Carter


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Blowing my bile along the Nile

Sunday, May 25th, 2014


Here’s a tale from my book Hollywoodaholic: Confessions of a Screenwriter, where I was taking a break in 1978 from my unrelenting quest for work as a writer in Hollywood to take a trip to Egypt with my father. Aside from providing one of the bucket list goals of my life to climb the Great Pyramid (I bribed a guard $5 to look the other way), it also produced the following account on another, less noble, experience


July 1978

0001006-R5-E226I had just stepped off the ferry on the east side of the Nile in Luxor, Egypt. I had also just finished the most expensive can of Seven-Up east or west of the Atlantic. The temperature was 120 degrees and I could almost feel the pool of carbonated water in my stomach slowly beginning to bubble. I cautiously made my way up the bank of the river toward the taxis and the tour buses, regretting all forms of transportation and inconvenience that had put me in this spot: Regretting getting up at four a.m.; Regretting an hour taxi ride through Cairo to the airport; Regretting an hour and a half wait before scrambling onto a plane that was overbooked; Regretting another hour in the air listening to the woman next to me scream about her ears popping; Regretting a dusty bus ride and the polluted fumes of the ferry as it chugged across the Nile. But most of all; regretting  spending a dollar-fifty for a 15 cent Seven-Up that was in my stomach not five minutes before it decided to go up for air in spectacular fashion.

0001006-R5-E227By the time we got to the Valley of the Kings, my “reputation” had spread throughout the tour group. Some were actual witnesses, and others got the news second hand. As we entered the cramped tomb of King Tut, I became distinctly aware that, while everyone else was pushed together, I had plenty of room. I walked over to the rail to look over the sarcophagus, an open path miraculously parting through the people. One could get used to this kind of exclusivity, and I began to identify with young Tut himself, strutting (in this case wobbling) around freely as people backed away in awe of his power. I began to realize that respect is a two-way street. With Tut, it was admiration for his royal heritage. With me, it was fear of soiled personage. Midway through the guide’s long and melodramatic lecture, I beat a hasty exit for round two.

0001006-R5-E232The air in Ramses II tomb was thick with limestone powder. As the group descended further and further, eager to reach the final chamber, I stumbled along fifteen yards behind, looking anxiously back and wondering why each tomb was getting successively longer and deeper than the last – each exit becoming more of a challenge to reach before desecrating some sacred and priceless hieroglyphic. A walk became a jog, a jog became a sprint. And by the time we got to the last tomb, I knew that I could be a NCAA track star if only they lined the track with ancient hieroglyphics, heated the place to 120 degrees and sold me a can of Seven-Up for a buck fifty just prior to the race.

0001006-R5-E230At the city of Thebes, I sat smoldering in the back seat of the otherwise empty taxi realizing that I had been poisoned and was dying. Not by the Seven-Up, but by a glass of water the night before at a club in Sahara City. Bottled water is a must for travelers in Cairo and I remember the empty bottle sitting next to the glass of water I had just drank, but wondering about the ice cubes.

Peddlers selling authentic ancient Egyptian coins manufactured the night before were relentless. They gathered around the taxi I was sprawled over in like flies around decaying matter, rubbing their fingers together to indicate they wanted the stuff you could rub, not the stuff you could clink. I just sat there, my eyes rolling around, my tongue hanging out, balanced precariously in the taxi and thinking how amusing it would be if I finished dying right there and just plopped over, sending them all scampering off in fear believing they had begged me to death. Of course, I knew I was trapped. 0001006-R5-E233Trapped in a frantic tour of every damn ruin, statue and tomb in Luxor, losing every drop of water I tried to put down, along with all my enzymes. I was the one giving out the souvenirs everywhere instead of picking them up. And salvation was all those forms of transportation away, plus one.

I sat alone in a sagging horse buggy, a limp pile of flesh, bobbing along mindlessly, trying to create sparks by rubbing my crusted lips together rapidly. If I could do that, I could ignite my leather tongue and I’d go up in flames in an instant. My fate was not that merciful. It was one more sightseeing stop. One more melodramatic lecture. One more souvenir left to mark my visit.

0001006-R5-E246The Temples of Karnak were revealed to me through fingers of my right hand spread across my face awkwardly trying to keep my body from slumping over onto the road and rolling in the dried camel shit. A jovial, Nubian buggy rider rested there, staring at me along with a robed peasant and a guard. As I held myself propped there for the good part of an hour, they babbled to each other in Arabic. Probably, I thought, making bets on when I’d slip from my own fingers and roll in the dried camel shit. To their disappointment, the tour group finally returned and my comrades dispersed, and I had all those forms of transportation back to Cairo to look forward to.

The plane was an hour late. The taxi took two hours winding its way through the Cairo traffic, but I didn’t mind. I had made it back after an entire day in the scorching Sahara desert without one drop of water, Seven-Up was back to 15 cents and there wasn’t any dried camel shit in sight.



Looking back on this event some 36 years later, I realize the experience was only slightly less dignified than the treament you receive working as a screenwriter in the studio system.

Oh, and here’s one for the bucket list. Look closely at the top of this shot of the Great Pyramid. And then check out the size of the stones below to see why you need someone to show you the way up (which is a lot less scary than the way down).





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