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Friday, October 28, 2011

SHOWDOWN AT THE INCREDIBLE HULK: IN WHICH CHRIS LUGS A 'MACHINEGUN' TO THE PARTY


Nick Corea

Everybody warned us about Nick Corea. Nick likes to get into your face, they said. Knock you back on your heels to see how you react. But if you survive the introduction, you might - just might - land a gig on The Incredible Hulk.

Chris bristled. "What do you mean, get in our face? I’ll double gobble turkey stomp the son of a bitch if he fucks with me and my partner."

Nick Corea, as I said, was the number two man at The Incredible Hulk and its driving force.

"He’s not a bad guy, Chris," Jeff (the EatAnter) Freilich hastened to assure us.

This was before Galactica '80, but after Jeff’s sojourn as story exec at the (thankfully) short-lived Mrs. Columbo series. He’d parted company with Chris Trumbo and won himself a spot as a producer on the Hulk.

"He’s an ex-Marine," he added, as if this explained everything. "Very creative. And smart. Really, you’ll like him."

"Can’t be that smart if he was a Jarhead," Chris said. "Only thing they know how to do is fix bayonets and charge."

As I mentioned before, Chris had been a LURP in Vietnam, sneaking around the Cambodian border and other places the U.S. wasn’t supposed to be. He admired the Marines, but was too much of an Army man to admit it in public.

"What kind of things does he do?" I asked Jeff. "To get in your face, I mean."

"Well, I know your agent sent him a sample of your writing, because I saw it myself," Jeff replied. "It was pretty good, too."

"Of course it was fucking good," Chris growled. "We wrote it, didn’t we?" He hated being condescended to, a habit Jeff had formed after donning a producer's hat.

The spec script in question was "Crosses," a movie about a bunch of thieves in Berlin at war’s end. They are trying for one last big score to finance their escape before the Russians burst into the city with blood in their eyes. We’d never sold the movie, but had optioned it many times and considered it one of our finest scripts.

"Sure, sure," Jeff said. "And Nick will have read it, and liked it too, or he wouldn’t have had you guys come in."

"Okay, so what's our script have to do with it then?" I wanted to know.

"Well, maybe nothing," Jeff said. "But sometimes - I’ve been told - sometimes he holds up the script, and says, 'I’ve read your script, and here’s what I think of it.' And he drops the script into the waste basket."

"Asshole," my partner hissed. Such a threatened act was an affront to his artistic dignity.

"Now, Chris," Jeff soothed. "He only does it sometimes. Probably he won’t do it at all to you guys. I’m just warning you, so you’ll know not to get pissed and just laugh it off."

"I’ll tell you fucking what," Chris said. "If Corea pulls shit like that you tell him that I will immediately drop to the floor and I’ll run through the entire drill of setting up and locking and loading a fucking M60 machine gun. And then I'll open up on his ass."

"What’s that mean?" Jeff puzzled. "Is it bad?"

"Tell him," Chris said. "If he really was a Jarhead, he’ll know."

"He might cancel the meeting," Jeff warned.

"Then he’s chicken shit," Chris said. "Tell him that too.

Jeff never did tell Corea. He sort of passed along the word to the rest of the staff. By the time the buzz reached Corea, the story was so blown out of proportion that some people thought Chris was going to bring a machine gun into the meeting.

Corea was not a guy to be intimidated. It only made the meeting more certain than ever.

Come the showdown:

When we entered Nick’s office the meeting was packed with producers, (Karen Harris and Jill Sherman among them) story guys, assistants to the assistants of The Main Assistant. Everybody was here for the showdown. They were crowded on either side of the room, making an aisle. At the far end, Corea sat at his desk. Short beard on a hawk’s face, rugged build. Clad in a voluminous Hawaiian shirt over cammie trousers.

As we entered, he leaned back in his chair, hands behind his head, lips twisted in a wry grin. He nodded at me, then looked at Chris. An unsmiling Chris stared back.

I could almost hear Fistful Of Sergio Leone music shrilling in my ears.

Nick suddenly dropped his hands and came forward. He picked up a thick sheaf of paper in one hand. Held it over the wastebasket by his desk.

"I read your script," he said. Then waited.

Without a second's hesitation, Chris dropped flat to the floor - legs outspread. Then he quickly and smoothly went through the complicated By The Military Manual motions of setting up an M60 machine gun on its tripod, then locking it and loading.

He swung the imaginary barrel around and aimed it directly at Nick. "Fire when you’re ready, partner," Chris drawled.

Nick barked a short burst of laughter. "Shit," he said. "You didn’t leave out a single beat. All twenty steps."

"Twenty one," Chris corrected him as he rose to his feet.

Nick dropped the script back on his desk. "Crosses, he said."It was a good read."

"We know," Chris said.

Nick waved and we took the only two empty seats in the room - directly in front of his desk. I could hear the others breathing sighs of relief and whispering to one another.

Incredible Hulk Pilot
"Okay, guys," Nick said. "What do you want to do?"

"A motorcycle gang story," Chris said. "You get to see a Hulkout on a motorcycle." He made motions of a head exploding through a helmet by way of illustration.

Nick nodded. "Heard you once had a PR contract with Hell’s Angels," he said.

"It’s still in effect," Chris said. "I took over from Hunter Thompson after they kicked shit out of him." Chris grinned. "I told him, 'Hunter, you've got to learn to get along with people.'"

Another short bark of laughter from Nick. Then he said, "Okay, guys. Tell me the story."

So we did.

NEXT: LOU FERRIGNO AND THE HARLEY HULKOUT

THE COMPLETE MISADVENTURES: IT'S A BOOK!


THE VITAL LINKS:
The MisAdventures began humbly enough - with about 2,000 readers. When it rose to over 50,000 (we're now knocking at the door of 110,000) I started listening to those of you who urged me to collect the stories into a book. Starting at the beginning, I went back and rewrote the essays, adding new detail and events as they came to mind. This book is the result of that effort. However, I'm mindful of the fact, Gentle Reader, that you also enjoy having these little offerings posted every Friday to put a smile on your face for the weekend. So I'll continue running them until it reaches the final Fade Out. Meanwhile, it would please the heart of this ink-stained wretch - as well as tickle whatever that hard black thing is in my banker's chest - if you bought the book. It will make a great gift, don't you think? And if you'd like a personally autographed copy you can get it directly through my (ahem) Merchant's Link at Amazon.com. Click here. Buy the book and I will sign it and ship it to you. Break a leg!

THE STEN COOKBOOK & KILGOUR JOKEBOOK





Two new companion editions to the international best-selling Sten series. In the first, learn the Emperor's most closely held  cooking secrets. In the other, Sten unleashes his shaggy-dog joke cracking sidekick, Alex Kilgour. Both available as trade paperbacks or in all major e-book flavors. Click here to tickle your funny bone or sizzle your palate.    




EMPIRE DAY 2012 - A COMMEMORATIVE EDITION

Relive the fabulous four-day Stregg-laced celebration.  Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever. New recipes from the Eternal Emperor's kitchen. Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever. Sten's thrill-packed exploits at the Emp's castle. How to make your own Stregg. And, did I mention, Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever?




2 comments:

  1. Thanks, my friend. Wait'll you see the Harley Hulkout next Friday.

    ReplyDelete