Friday, October 17, 2008

The Moderator

Down-on-her luck writer takes cheesy job as moderator for Oprah-type discussion book clubs.

The novel alternates the writer's life, unfinished novel, and reflections on great literature, on the one hand, with the debased yet surprisingly touching literary discussions of suburbanites in whose lives we become engrossed in "Spoon River Anthology"-style vignettes of suburban ennui.

(Based on an idea by V. L. Forman).

--E. R. O'Neill

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Double Vision

In the 1960's, two young women who play body doubles to adorable teen actresses (along the lines of Hayley Mills) have a lesbian love affair.

Each is secretly in love with the actress for whom she doubles.  Instead, the women dally with each other, on the periphery of Hollywood, in the penumbra of fame's spotlight.

Period costumes, backstage drama, gay directors, lesbian costume designers, conniving agents, the like.  

A Todd Haynes film.

--E. R. O'Neill

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Three Weekends: A Short Story.

A short story.

Alternative title: "Tebaldiani" or "Poor Thing."

A gay couple, Mark and Daniel, are on the verge of a breakup--this despite what brought them together--their love for Maria Callas and hatred for Renata Tebaldi. If you want to get them mad, just talk about how the Tebaldi fans (the Tebaldiani) went to the Met when Maria appeared there just to boo poor Maria. The nerve!

Mark and Daniel would break up now, but they've rented a cottage on Fire Island for three weekends, so they have to wait.

On the first weekend, it seems that everyone is deeply in love--or on the make. Mark and Daniel are neither-nor.

On Saturday night, Daniel lingers at the disco after Mark leaves. Daniel goes home with an anonymous bodybuilder. Getting back to their cottage, Mark doesn't even ask for sex. Daniel imagines Mark can smell the testosterone right on him.

The next day, Mark meets Jacob--who's ridiculously similar to Mark in every way. They compare notes on menswear designers, restaurants, bridge, even favorite kinds of clouds (cumulus are vulgar, they both agree). Daniel isn't jealous, he's relieved. It all happens so naturally! Mark will be better off, Daniel tells himself.

The second weekend, Daniel bows out and lets Mark go to Fire Island alone, knowing full well Mark will consummate the affair with Jacob, and then he (Daniel) will soon be off the hook. The whole thing will end naturally--because of Mark, not Daniel. Daniel will be able to leave guilt-free.

The third weekend, Mark and Daniel go for their last weekend on the island, probably their last weekend together. Jacob's there constantly, almost flaunting this blossoming relationship.

But just as they're all to leave, Jacob reveals his deep passion for--Renata Tebaldi! Mark and Daniel take turns heaping scorn upon her, humiliating Jacob.

Mark and Daniel have a good laugh on the ferry ride home, and they talk about Maria. How Maria suffered, poor thing.

Perhaps Mark and Daniel will give things just one or two weekends more.

--E. R. O'Neill

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


A two-person play in the most traditional vein.

An aging has-been Broadway star, long-since forgotten, molders in his Connecticut abode.

His manservant offstage is never seen.

The star spends his time replying to fan letters written decades earlier: now he finally has the time.

Remarkably, one recipient a reply some months back shows up at his doorstep. She cherishes the memory of a performance he gave long ago. She can remember the most minute detail.

Sadly, many of these details are wrong. It is not clear if she actually saw this performance, misremembered it, or mixed up this actor with some other.

Or is she sent to exact some strange revenge?

The two become locked in conflict--which can only mean, given the logic of commercial drama, that they will end up in each others (wrinkled) arms.

The angry has-been ham and the dotty would-be fan: a match made in heaven.

--E. R. O'Neill


A movie.

It takes its title from a book that circulates amongst the characters.

The book promises quick solutions to difficult life problems.

We see the characters and their problems. We see they have the book--each of them comes across it differently.

Than at a few points each's story is interrupted for a voiceover passage from the book, explaining how their problem could be 'solved,' more or less instantly, or sometimes long and painfully.

The book's advice is very strange and completely out of touch with the complex realities of human suffering.

The characters never try these solutions, or only do so half-heartedly.

Indeed, we're not sure if they've really read the book, or merely happen to come across it, and then the book's edifying wisdom is shared with the viewer.

Instead, the characters continue to screw up their lives in yet more creative ways.

Remarkably, some of their lives get better--quite suddenly, either through a change of heart, or through chance.

Others just continue on in the same ruts with no end in sight.

A comedy.

--E. R. O'Neill

Notes for a story.

A very honest man--scrupulously so--encounters a ruthless brute.

The ruthless man brutalizes the honest one, who is fragile and over-reacts: he breaks down.

The honest man's reaction is so painful that the brute feels ashamed and tries to assuage the man he's hurt.

But the victim rebuffs him and won't be consoled. And so the brute feels some small degree of shame--a new emotion for him.

Later, the honest man finds an opportunity to harm the brute. It requires doing something unethical--a very small wrong indeed--but he takes the action, even against his own better judgment.

This disrupt the honest man's life. He goes off-kilter. All his habits are disrupted. He cannot maintain his ordinary equilibrium. The very orderliness of his existence has been endangered.

Slowly the honest man recovers his dignity. But he finds a small opportunity to abase himself--when no one's looking. Then he goes back to normal.

Meanwhile, the brute has become obsessed with a rather plain woman whom he had ignored in the past. He shows all signs of being in love with her.

But when he holds her in his arms and makes love to her, he closes his eyes he sees before him the face of the poor honest soul whom he harmed so callously.

--E. R. O'Neill

Saturday, August 9, 2008

My Life In...

Autobiography as series of "My Life In..." chapters.

My Life in Hotels.

My Life in Haircuts.

My Life in Bands.

My Life in Short Stories I Never Wrote.

My Life in My Favorite Songs.

Each chapter devoted to different facet of experience.

The whole emerges, somehow.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Move Over Apple-tini: Meet the Matcha-tini.

Matcha green tea.


Toast: may your platelets never stick together.

--E. R. O'Neill

Monday, July 28, 2008

Novel Entertainments.

A new form of entertainment emerges.

It's a sort of movie, but it happens in a different sort of building.

People lounge there for hours and hours at a time--no one ever asks you to leave--and you can eat as much food as you like during the process.

The movies are normal enough: there are characters, and they have problems and fall in love, and all that stuff.

But the characters are kind of odd. They act strangely. They say "hello" at the end of conversations. They say "I love you" before eating dinner. Some of the little rituals are wrong. The logic of feelings and actions seems upside-down.

People are very taken with this.

The new moviehouses with their infinite quantities of food start out with just a cult following. But slowly they spring up everywhere. More and more people are taken with the delectable food, the charming laziness of long hours spent watching rather inconsequential and odd events unfolding slowly.

People spend hours and hours inside specially-constructed movie theaters watching these strange moving images.

Which is very convenient, because when the aliens who made these movies arrive, it's that much easier to eat the now-fattened audiences.

--E. R. O'Neill

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Short survey of my work until now. It will take the form of brief capsule reviews of everything I have done: various bands, short stories, short films, film reviews, music videos, etc. Autobiography as self-excoriation, or vice versa.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

On Being Short.

A book length essay/meditation on being short, a la Koestenbaum, David Shields, Barthes.

Ruminations on the life stages of the short person. The dread, the resignation, the celebration, the shame, the pride.

Brief sketches of the lives of famous short people.

Interviews with short people.

A book for the little ones!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Zombie Inc.

A 20-something guy desperately needs a job.

He finds one at a new corporation.

But all the other employees are zombies. (Think Being John Malkovich meets Shaun of the Dead.)

All very nice--dressed in corporate attire.

They only groan when the copier doesn't work. Other than that, they're quite articulate.

It's quite easy being the first in line, as everyone shuffles slowly along, no matter what the destination.

Popular in the cafeteria? Human flesh, of course.

Our hero of course is attracted to the slackers. There's even a really pretty zombie he has a crush on.

But he rises too quickly in the corporate ladder, and all the slacker zombies resent him.

There are even not-so-quiet whispers of tokenism--promoting the living above the living-dead, just to show they're 'fair.' (The black zombies are like "same ol' bullshit.")

--E. R. O'Neill

Doggie Motels.

Dog owners now have high-priced digs for their pets.

Eventually, of course, there will be low cost, even rundown alternatives.

I can't wait for the shitty doggy motel.

By the side of the road.

Rooms smell of pee.

Bedspread's been chewed on.

Near a doggie truck stop and diner.

Little doggie whores wandering around outisde.

Scary dog making dangerous meth-laced kibble in the next room.

--E. R. O'Neill

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


When his beloved life partner Bill dies, Jason becomes distraught. He's untethered, spends time building a shrine to Bill in the apartment that they shared.

One day, quite by accident, Jason discovers Bill's secret: he had another lover--Alex.

Jason can't believe it. Was everything he thought about Bill wrong? Was their life together a lie?

After much delay, Jason meets Alex. Alex dismays Jason. Alex doesn't seem to think about Bill, doesn't cherish his memory, rarely thinks of him. How can someone so special to Jason mean so little to Alex? How can Bill have expended affection in this person who cherished him so little?

Slowly, the two grow closer. They spend a night together.

Jason imagines he's found a new Bill.

But Alex moves on--thoughtlessly, carelessly, as if nothing has happened.

And Jason must get on with living.

--E. R. O'Neill

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting: The Hollywood Remake.

A wealthy man covets a series of six paintings.

He competes with a wealthy antagonist to acquire them--by legal and other means.

The two collectors, as it happens, also compete for the favors of a handsome young man.

The first collector explains to his young lover that the paintings, though seemingly unconnected, contain a secret meaning, a meaning which can only be discovered by re-enacting them.

The collector hires actors--including people known to the young lover--to act out the paintings for the young lover to observe.

As in Hamlet, the staging of the scenes aims to provoke a confession in the young lover of his infidelities.

Many confessions do indeed come forth, but they are minor.

The mystery of the paintings remains hidden until the collector reveals his theory that there must have been a seventh painting, now lost or destroyed, which explained the meaning of all the paintings and proved their connection.

That painting was at one point in the possession of the young lover's family. It was that family that was responsible for stealing the painting from wealthy collector's family--and sending them to the gas chambers.

In restaging the final, missing painting, the wealthy collector is, it turns out, staging his own death. The effect on the young lover is so profound that it causes his death, too, but in the process it reveals to the dying collector that, whatever his faults, the young man did indeed love the collector.

The scene has been staged for the benefit of the rival collector, who gets to find out that the young man who toyed with his affections was merely playing.

And the two deaths in turn cause the missing painting to be recaptured in the form of a crime scene photograph, which passes, as do the rest of the paintings, indeed the very house where the stagings and deaths have occurred, to the ownership of the now lonely and bereaved collector who now becomes entombed with his possessions--and his memories.

--E. R. O'Neill

(With apologies to Raoul Ruiz and Peter Greenaway).

Friday, April 11, 2008

Some Must Watch.

"For some must watch while some must sleep.
So runs the world away."

An offbeat anesthesiologist discovers a novel method for curing insomnia.

Unfortunately, it has remarkable and unexpected consequences.

People who use the method start falling asleep whenever anyone else does.

A result is whole cities that fall asleep in waves and threatening to put the whole world to sleep forever.

Until an intrepid, nerdy young boy....

--E. R. O'Neill