Thursday, July 24, 2014

Chat Box

I thought of a couple of neat things about the origins of tonight's ADVENTURE TIME episode. One is the title! "Thanks For the Crabapples, Giuseppe." We slapped that on the outline as a placeholder, never dreaming it would make it so far. Or maybe we did dream it would make it so far. I can't remember. We write these outlines so far in advance! And we start talking about them even earlier... I really can't remember whether this is true, but I think the first small inklings of "Thanks For the Crabapples, Giuseppe" came from a real face-to-face in-person chat Adam and I were having about ON THE ROAD and related literature in May of last year, probably not work-related at all, or so we thought, and then Pen and Kent came into the conference room and you know how it goes! Everybody starts talking and suddenly something clicks into place and there's the beginning of a story, maybe. Yet, several months later, when it came time to get the actual outline done - this raw material to be handed off to Seo Kim and Somvilay Xayaphone (who took it and exquisitely realized it and made it into something and elevated it with their writing and storyboarding) - I recall it as one of those rare times when we were right up against a deadline, and there were still some holes to fill. It was getting near the end of the business day (and week) out there in Los Angeles and both Kent and Adam had pressing meetings to attend... I remember that Pen was online from some remote location but we could not see or hear him via our video-conference apparatus for some reason... I thought we were wrapping up, and so did Adam and Kent... so the meeting ended with Pen and I a couple of stragglers, kind of texting each other in some kind of chat box... is that a thing? A chat box? Well, there was a box and we were both typing into it. I am going to call it a chat box. And as the clock was ticking down, and I was thinking about the people waiting for me just up the street at City Grocery Bar, Pen typed something like, "The poem needs to be written out." There's a poem in the episode, and Pen wanted us to decide exactly what was in it. It was supposed to make the Ice King cry, potentially. And up until that last possible moment it had only been indicated in the outline by something like, "Ice King reads a sad poem." So I just started typing iambic pentameter into the "chat box" - a simple ABAB rhyme scheme - while Pen typed things back like "Ha ha!" and "Yea!" Egging me on in the most pleasant way. I am not saying it was GOOD iambic pentameter, and the words don't even make sense if you think about it, and it's just a few quick lines, less than half a sonnet (closer to a quarter of a sonnet in the final episode, because two lines got cut), but it was quite a rush, I mean, this iambic pentameter pumped me full of adrenaline, I felt like an old-timey newspaper reporter, like Hildy Johnson (pictured) in HIS GIRL FRIDAY, for example. Like, we're getting this in under the wire! Like, "Get me the city desk!" So afterward I raced up to the Grocery and there were Dr. Theresa and Megan Abbott and Ace Atkins, as I recall it, hanging out on the balcony, and when I arrived they could tell I was pretty elated! Just from the mental experience of having to hurry up and write a poem. And then I recall it was a very pleasant evening and all sorts of nice strangers came out on the balcony and everybody was having a great time and I was thinking about what a fun job I have.