Thursday, November 30, 2006

Back to Los Angeles; Or, the Situation of My Meatloaf

Hello again. It seems eons have passed since I last wrote, and since Jenifer and I ventured to L.A. and back again. And eons since I’ve been able to get back to actual screenwriting. But now that my protagonist is nearly out of Norway and facing the ice storms of December, I guess I can let you in on my recent doings.

Our trip to L.A. was an exploratory journey in two senses: establishing relationships and scouting locations for the move. I pitched to some industry types I’d met through the Austin Film Festival or online channels while Jenifer visited a number of neighborhoods to see where we might unload our belongings, at least initially. There’s still no definitive timeframe for either effort coming to definitive, tangible conclusion, but the sense of imminence, especially on the move, could not feel much more imminenty.

Any trip requires appropriate preparation, and, boy, was I prepared. I Google-Mapped the hell out of my various destinations, triangulating every conceivable pathway between them. I wasn’t going to be stranded in Beverly Hills Adjacent, nosiree.

Another key part of the pre-trip prep (trep?), especially for screenwriters with needy, anxious metabolisms, is food. So, I thought to myself, I’ll make a meatloaf. (Or as Eric, the only other mortal to sample it, likes to call it, meatcake. It is somewhat dense.) This would be a simple way of preparing multiple, portable servings of savory and economical protein to be enjoyed whenever the grumblings arrived.


I had mixed the ingredients the night before so that I would be able to pop it in the oven for the requisite 90 minutes of cooking time before going to work. For reasons that are not entirely clear to me, this is also the exact amount of time it takes me to get ready in the morning.

7:00 am—the all-important Time of Departure for an eastbound white-knuckler on Route 422—was fast approaching and the meatloaf was finally finished. I pulled its bubbling mass from the black maw of the fire pit and placed it on the counter. I would cut this thing to pieces, I would, and I selected a J.A. Henkels steel blade for the deed. A blade forged, not coincidentally, in Solingen, Germany, the heart of medieval swordmaking.

I’m not a licensed volcanologist, so take this observation with a grain of sea salt, but cutting a meatloaf before it has cooled will generally result only in frustration and a steaming pile of ground beef.

I had failed to take into consideration the required cooling time. I was late. I was sinking deeper and deeper into the rush-hour maelstrom. There was no choice, therefore, but to fuss and stomp and scream to the heavens for an exemption of basic thermodynamics just this once. Ryan mad! Ryan smash! These actions, of course, are also subject to the laws of physics and therefore occupy linear time.

Jenifer waited patiently, laughing all the while, as I collected my scattered things and thoughts and whatever dignity I once possessed . . .


Later, having survived another day deskbound at the Sphere and having been whisked to the airport by Tom's Taxi Service, I found myself hungry for dinner and realized to my horror that my trusty bag was a little too light and unbulky. There was my stack of Google maps, my USB drive, my copies of Breakfast With Sharks and the I Ching, but little else. Certainly no box of meat. It was gone. Destroyed by the Empire.

A quick survey of the corridor revealed no Death Squad Commanders or other agents of evil, so I considered the possibility that my meatloaf was in the trunk of Tom’s car. So far he hasn’t said otherwise. Maybe I’ll get an irate e-mail in another week or two. Or maybe I'll end up the unfortunate subject of one of Tom's stand-up routines.

I’d like to say that Jenifer and I had a good laugh over the whole affair, the futility of stressing out, the nonsense of getting worked up over nothing. The irony. And we did. And then we bought some eight-dollar wraps.


Implications, implications. I don’t know, maybe because I got all my anxieties out early, the trip was productive and fun. I also wasn’t confronted with the challenge of eating crumbly beef bits with my fingers while airborne and eavesdropping on the tales of an honest-to-God French Foreign Legionnaire speaking in a David Blaine-esque monotone. Did you know that for breakfast they have a piece of bread and a bowl of coffee and then go for a 20-kilometer run?

We managed to get from our hotel—featured in last night’s episode of CSI: New York—to all of our destinations with ease. The industry folks I met with were generous, supportive, and interested, and also really cool people. One of my meetings was held at Elixir Tonics and Teas, a tranquil Zen oasis tucked away on Melrose.

Our last night in L.A. we had dinner at Toi on Sunset with fellow writers Shawna and Warren. I had met Shawna at Austin in October, and Warren through The Artful Writer, where he was an early champion of the teaser video Tom and I made for our script American Jedi. The next morning, we had a sun-drenched breakfast with Fun Joel at Delice, a French bakery, before heading to the airport. We had a great time, and were thankful for a sense of the community awaiting us. Even without the meatcake, I did alright.


I can’t leave you hanging. So here is the recipe for Ryan’s Authentic Meatcake for Superheroes (six servings).

Ingredients (amounts approximate):

½ cup raw milk

2 organic, free-range jumbo eggs

½ cup Trader Joe’s Double Roasted Salsa

½ cup Amy’s Premium Organic Family Marinara pasta sauce

½ organic pepper (yellow, orange, or red), chopped

Several shakes Trader Joe’s Coarse Sea Salt

6 grinder-turns Trader Joe’s Black Peppercorns

Dash Frontier Seasoning Blends Mexican Fiesta

Several squirts Woodstock Farms Organic Stoneground Mustard

2 lbs. organic, grass-fed ground beef

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Assemble all these pretentious ingredients, in order, in a big-enough casserole container and mix together with your hands. They will get quite cold. You can always imagine that you are playing with fresh Tauntaun guts. When you’ve produced a uniform mass of red stuff, place in the oven. Let cook for 90 minutes. Get ready for work. Write a scene or two.

When the time is up, remove and test the temperature. When it reaches 160 degrees F, let cool for a nice long while. Cut in half and then each half in thirds. Or cut crazy shapes if you like. I don’t care. It’s your meatcake.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Yoga Video: I Was Robbed!

Jenifer's yoga video has now entered the Long Tail. She and her one-man film crew Derek DiGiacomo worked hard to bring you an instructional video that departs from the "aerobics model" usually adopted by yoga videos.

They called it “Foundations in Yoga,” but I thought a better title would be “Ryan Rasmussen’s Yoga for Superheroes.” See that guy in the tight red supersuit?* Yep, that's me. The Talent. Sure, you might want to know that the video illustrates yoga practices such as mantra, intention, pranayama, asana, meditation, and prayer. Or that Jenifer really knows her stuff and has studied with folks like Sri Dharma Mittra, Beryl Bender Birch, and Shiva Rae.

But we all know what you're really after. And I don't blame you. I'm not a one-tusked cookie gobbler like Lord Ganesh. Look at him, trying to steal my thunder. In gold, no less. Talk about gaudy.

Ah, well. If you can look past all these grievances, you'll find the video available here. Thank you for your support.

*Capeless for safety.

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Amazing Race Comes to Finland

Those of you who followed our trip to Scandinavia last summer have a chance to see Finland on the tube tomorrow night. The competitors on The Amazing Race travel from Madagascar to Finland, visiting Helsinki, Tampere, and Turku. Jenifer wishes to stress that she is the one in our household who watches this show religiously, lest anyone get the idea that I watch any television at all. Nope, not me. I write, write, write. Not even a little bit of TV for me. Not even Scrubs, My Name is Earl, or The Office. Very busy.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Dee Dee Dee!

Hey Yinz, this is Tony*, stupendous industrial designer, keeper of The Money Pitt, human party favor, and world-class doofus. He's also a proud resident of Pittsburgh, the latest stop on my whirlwind tour of the planet. And this is pretty much how I feel lately, trying to keep it all together, it being the writing and job searching and trip planning and general writerly duties.

I braved the wilds of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, armed only with rest-stop Starbucks that tasted like cigarette butts (like I would know), for Tony's Halloween party. As I focused on the road ahead, I thought how this could be the last trip to Pittsburgh for a long while. Lately, each thing Jenifer and I do seems like it's the last time -- a favorite restaurant, a familiar haunt.

And yet we don't know when. It's rare that we can see very far ahead, but now the stakes are higher than usual, the goal clearly defined. Moving to Los Angeles doesn't happen by accident, and I'm not the kid right out of college. We get attached to people, places, things. But we are not these things. We need to let in and embrace the new, reach out for the experiences that will change us and shape us, witness the interplay between event and character, write the story. And sometimes that requires patience. And the occasional "Dee Dee Dee!"

*Tony and I met when he audaciously disrupted my third birthday party with Big Wheel rumblings in the alley. I promptly marched onto the scene and thumped the earth with my bright green, oversized Wiffle Bat to let him know who was boss. We've been BFF ever since.