Monday, December 27, 2004

Canada comes Calling

Well- Holly and I made a purchase today. In the true spirit of Christmas, after recieving more than we need or want in the form of gifts, we proceeded to go to the local malls and bookstores to spend even more money on ourselves. While browsing through the 3 for $25 used DVD collection at the local Blockbuster, we spied a copy of a little movie called "Decoys". It looks like a movie that you wouldnt pick up at the movie store for fear that others might see you looking at the back... and it is one of those movies. But this movie is special to Holly and I. This movie is a milestone in the life/career of TJ McCloud. This is his soundtrack debut.
Let me explain. Some of you know this story- others may not. About a year and a half ago, I got a call from a very serious sounding lady who said she represented a film company. I said- "..ok... great... what can I help you with?"
She asked me if I was TJ McCloud and I said something smart like... "Last time I checked."
Yeah. Cute.
Then she asked me if I was the writer of a song called "The Airplane Song", aka "Miles Between Us".
"Yes, that's me", I said.
"The director of a movie we are producing would like to use your song in his film. Are you who we need to speak to? Should I talk to a manager?"
"Nope. Im all those people."
So here I am on the phone with someone who wants to put one of my songs in a movie. Thoughts start to rush through my head. What if its some amazing indie flick that will win every award at Cannes? What if it gets picked up by some major for distribution and the song becomes an anthem for broken-heartedness everywhere? So We begin to talk about the movie.
"Where are you located? Is this a full length picture, like not a student film or anything?"
She assured me that it was in fact a fully budgeted, full length film by an independent Canadian film company.
"Oh." Canada. Hmm.
"Well, what kind of film is this- genre, or whatever?"
"Well- it's a sci/fi-horror film"
All my Hollywood daydreams withered on the vine.
An independent Canadian sci-fi horror film.
"Alright- uh... whats the plot- I mean does this song even work for y'all?"
She began to explain the plot of the movie. "Aliens, disguised as college sorority girls, are killing all the young men on campus."
Sounds reasonable enough.
A horrible thought went through my head.
"This isn't a porno, right?"
She laughed. No, of course not. She described it as featuring only minimal T&A. She actually used the term T&A. Ok.
"What's the budget for the song?" I asked, realizing that there could be something good to come out of this.
" Two hundred dollars, American."
Immediately I realized that there was no way anyone, let alone anyone I know will ever see this movie. No chance of Grandma coming across TJ's music in the middle of an alien sex romp- no chance that any of my friends will see the movie and realize that it was not as big a deal as I might allow it to seem... only good can come of this. Two hundred dollars I could use at this point, and the ability to say I have a song in a movie. Deal. Let Canada have the song.
I agreed and told them to send me the papers to sign. They did, I signed and I never heard anything else about it.
Earlier this fall, at the close of the recording process for "Kind of Life", Donnie Boutwell and I were sitting in his studio mixing one of the songs. Donnie is a sci-fi junkie and keeps the sci-fi channel on 24-7, even while he is working, just with the sound down. As we listen to the music, staring absent-mindedly at the TV screen, a trailer for a movie comes up. All I see is college girls, aliens, and the title- but I knew, just knew that it was the one.
"Donnie!!! TH-TH-THATS MY MOVIE!!!!"
"That's my movie- the aliens- the college girls- it's called "Decoys"- that's my movie!"
I hurriedly told him the story. The movie was coming on the sci-fi channel that evening at 7 oclock. I called Blake Howard and we got together to watch it. At this point, I didnt even know if they ended up using my song or not. I never heard anything back from them and figured that if the movie had gone into sydication for national TV- they might let me know. Nope. This little indie Canadian horror film had made it into the television... my television. I was kind of pumped... but nervous. This movie could really be bad.
We watched. And watched. And watched. Then, at the end of the movie- after all the alien vixens had been melted, burned, staked or gunned down, the main character and his girlfriend finally got together. Insurmountable circumstances had brought them to this final moment and they were proclaiming thier love for one another and in the back ground- shhhh... here it comes. The Airplane Song. How sweet. I had thought that there was no way to make a sad song about losing love fit into a monster-fest, but I was wrong. Here- at the end of the movie....
And then she turns into an alien and eats him. End of movie. Roll credits.
I laughed for a long time. I'm glad they killed my song like they did.
Since then, i have gotten the occasional email from Nova Scotia asking where to find the song... Apparently it was a hit in Canada. Cool. I mean, it's no Phillipines... but what the heck.
My In-laws stumbled on the movie in the video store (look for it at your local Blockbuster), and knowing my song was in it- rented it, sat down and watched it. They blushed when they told me they had seen it. I did too. Grandma, to my knowledge, has not seen it yet.
So- here we are at Christmas, spending money at Blockbuster's that we really don't have, on a movie that we really won't watch, as a momento for the time when Hollywood- well, not Hollywood... Canada came knocking on TJ's door.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Clark W. Griswold

Have you ever seen Christmas Vacation?
I feel like Clark W. Griswold. I think that he and I are pretty much made of the same stock. I usually start off whatever it is I am doing with the best intentions, however ill-planned or misconcieved. Things rarely turn out like I think they will- and usually for the worse. I tend to make decision that myself and those around me end up paying for- one way or another. So this year- I want to tell you about our trip - because i am Clark W. Griswold.
It is good to be here in Chicago with the in laws- mainly because we werent sure we would make it. After leaving town on Wednesday night- we started the two hour drive to Paducah, KY to pick up my in law's dog that was staying at my aunt's kennel. Well- it was on the way to Chi-town, anyway. Did I check the weather? Yes. Did I believe the weatherman? Not really. About Clarksville we got into some snow. No suprise, really, we knew there was a storm coming but thought we could beat it into KY. uh huh.
After two hours of driving 25 miles an hour, pulling over every ten minutes to beat the ice off of the wipers, we finally came to a stop. Us and every car on I 24. Traffic had backed up for miles and miles and miles and miles. This was at about 7:30 pm. We figured there was a wreck and we would get clear in an hour or so. Sure. CLark would look on the bright side too, i bet. Nope. Four hours come and go. Surely we wont be here much longer. Tick, tock. Another four hours, worried about gas, we shut off the car and got out the blankets. Nada. No Highway Patrol, no snowplows, no National Guard. All night long we sat on the Highway, waiting for something to happen, within eyesight of a Days Inn and and Hampton. Did I bring food and water? No. Just Diet Coke and a loaf of Christmas bread that was a fortunate gift from Holly's work.
If we could just get off the Highway... We thought about abandoning the car- but what if the line starts moving? We thought about trying to offroad it- (after all, we are in the Rav 4) Nope. The other cars started to empty around us- people getting out, conferring with each other, trying to get some news about the situation. Nada. No radio address, no loudspeakers on the highway- nothing. At some point- we had to use the restroom. But do we trek out into the snow to find a dead bush? Do we go outside and pee in front of the other thousand people standed behind us? We are already too cold for our own good. What do we do? Thank you, Diet Coke bottles.
Will we ever leave this patch of snow on 24? Will they just come to dig out our frozen bodies when it suits them? In the morning- someone gets news. They are clearing the road- it will be a few more hours. Like Four. Apparently- the Kentucky Patrol, Highway Divisions, and the National Guard all decided that we could just wait it out until morning. No attempts to clear the roads until then. Meanwhile- I was awake and bleary eyed at four A.M., convinced that someone would come any minute. Thanks for that. Merry Christmas.
After Fourteen hours sitting on the same patch of I-24, we finally started to move. The two hour trip to my aunts house turned into a twenty one hour adventure, complete with camping( in our car), snow skiing(my car did the skiiing) , and mild frostbite (my big toe is still kind of numb). So- this Christmas I am thankful to be anywhere but there. Lesson. Do not try to beat nature. You are not smart enough or strong enough to think that seventeen inches of snow cannot stop you from getting to your destination. Lesson. Do not travel without food, water, and large empty bottles with good-sized openings. Lesson. If your Christmas plans end up on the national news, it is usually not a good thing. Lesson. Do not travel with TJ. (some of you already know this.) So- merry Christmas. Clark would be proud. Play Ball!

Friday, December 17, 2004

Holiday Happiness

Well- like some of you know- I love the Holidays. I love the weather. I love the friends and family. I love the commercials. I love the presents. I love the food. For me- Thanksgiving to NewYears really has become the pinnacle of my year. But this was not always so. I used to hate the holidays.
There were really several reasons for this. One- it was hectic. We had, growing up, several branches of the family that were usually pretty close- so it was always, at least for my selfish teenage brain, cleaning and hurry and traffic and travel and stressful- not to mention the holiday performances. Yes- for those who dont know- I was in the monster of an extra-curricular activity we like to call ShowChoir. (Also known as "Show-Queer") At several points through the year, myself and eleven other misguided youth would don sequined vests and bowties and sing and box-step the new year in with an extra helping of yuletide cheese.There are pictures that I have tried to supress. I mean, we got down.
Christmastime was the worst. We performed at every corporate dinner, nursing home, and church luncheon in the city, it seemed, all for the joy of doing it. I have to admit- I did enjoy it. At that point in my life- as now- i would do anything to be in front of people. But what it really did was kill my love for Christmas music and quashed my Holiday spirit. I didnt realize it at the time, but as I now have some time and perspective on these events... i know that had I continued in that vein- Christmas might have been lost on me. Now I would probably love to do it- minus the sequins- but then- I think it was just too much. Yuletide overload.
So, now.. as Christmas represents a break from the song-and dance routine and a great excuse to eat sugar cookies, I love it. I love the chance to take a breath and enjoy the people I take for granted through the year. Maybe my dog and I will bond... (he hates me- loves Holly. go figure.) Maybe I'll get the Return of the King extended version...(Holly are you reading this?) And finally- maybe, just maybe I'll make some time to thank God for the amazing life that He has blessed Holly and I with. Love you guys- Merry Xmas, yall. TJ