Current Project

Here’s a bit of the short story I’ve written, which I am adapting into a webseries.  I hope to shoot in 2 or 3 months.

Prepare to hear more about this in the near future.

A lot more.

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Love Sucks

By Shawna Benson

It’s so hard to meet people these days.  Everyone is so disconnected now, keeping touch over the modern equivalent to tin cans and string.  It gets even worse when you live in the city, like I do.  It’s nearly impossible to meet quality men in the city.  I know some people meet their future spouse at work, but I deal with lawyers enough all day; the last thing I want to do is be married to one.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being a lawyer.  Sometimes I even get to help people.  In those moments, you feel useful, and honestly, there isn’t a better feeling in the world than when you are contributing something, rather than taking.

People are always taking in our society.  I try to give back, but this is why I don’t believe in karma or the law of attraction or any of that new age nonsense.  It seems to me that if there really were a great big karmic ledger somewhere, I’d be more than overdue to have someone special in my life.  I hardly think Scooter counts.  Scooter is a great dog, but I need more than a furry companion to take for walks.

I need a man.

I know what you’re thinking.  That’s not very progressive of me.  Admitting to “needing a man” must set back feminism at least 30 years, right?  Well, Gloria Steinem, I’m not a fish and a man is not a bicycle.  I have needs, you know.

Look at this guy – he’s got to be kidding with his stinky-ass cologne and the obscene globs of gel in his hair.  I’m not saying I’m the best catch, but if this is as good as it gets in here tonight, I am definitely going home alone.

Definitely.  Okay, maybe not.  I’d like to think I can just go home, throw on my sloppiest pajamas and curl up on the couch with a book, but inevitably something takes hold of me as I sit and ponder the dearth of gentlemen in the world.  I start the evening looking for a life partner, a mate.  Gradually, once the terrain is surveyed, I’m happy to settle for someone to talk to, just for the evening.  By the end of the night, I’m eyeing the guy by the jukebox who reeks of Wild Turkey and Polo.

It’s not easy to acknowledge who you are and what you need to make yourself whole.  Let me tell you, I went to a therapist for months before I learned the truth.  I had been wrestling with this question of why I couldn’t keep a relationship going, why the man I was with always seemed to just…shrivel up and die.  My therapist suggested that my extreme use of language to describe my situation was a sign of job stress.  That was the last time I saw the therapist.

I did finally learn what the problem was, but it wasn’t a therapist who helped me understand.

It was a gypsy.

I was at the farmer’s market, trying to decide between the asparagus and the Brussels sprouts for dinner, when this woman sidled up next to me and started looking at the peppers.  She leaned across me to pick up some gorgeous habaneros when I heard her mutter, “You don’t have to be alone, you know.”

It was like she had reached into my brain and pulled out the thought I was having.  As I stood there, asparagus in one hand and sprouts in the other I was having one of the great revelatory thoughts of my life.  I wasn’t just weighing a produce decision in my mind, but I was contemplating a much bigger conundrum: why can’t I keep a man around?  And it was then the thought popped into my head: I am going to die alone.

But there she was.  I hadn’t even noticed her, so narcissistic was I, wrapped up in my own little drama.  And as soon as she said it, I knew she was right.

“Excuse me?” I asked her, because how could I say anything else.  This woman, a short, round innocent little thing – like she stepped out of some kid’s storybook of what a kindly older woman should be – she smiled at me.  Instead of answering, she paid the man for her peppers and handed me a card.  Naturally I had to read it: Svenja Kamengorski.  Gypsy.

Gypsy?  I may have even said it aloud, but she wasn’t around any longer to hear it – she was gone.

I went home that afternoon (having decided to cook kale instead of asparagus or sprouts) and sat at my kitchen table, staring at the card.  Why did she give me her card?  Why does a gypsy even have a business card?

So of course, I googled her.  I mean, she has a business card, she obviously is hip to the modern age!  Sure enough, I found her website, but it was for an at home floral business.  I almost gave up right there, until I noticed a little icon at the bottom of the page.  I looked again at the business card, and noticed it this time – the same design – an ornate lettering inside a circle.  To anyone on the site, it’d just look like a logo, but I had a hunch…I clicked on the icon, and sure enough, I got this page that just had her address.  I will say she was nice enough to link a google map on there, so I could get directions.  I’m not sure I’d have found her if not for that map, because she lived out in the middle of fucking nowhere.

I’d heard about this town where psychics, aura readers, and gypsies lived.  It was like a giant circus sideshow, but with a grocery store.  I had done a little research before I went there, trying to find out what kind of town this gypsy woman had chosen as her home.  I was almost tempted to try out some of the other “offerings” in the town; would the aura reader tell me why I was always so hungry to have a man, or should I go to the tarot card reader?  In the end, I chose to see the woman who had chosen me.  What I learned about Svenja was that she kept a low profile in that town – she had no storefront with voodoo witchcraft or mysterious trinkets.  She was supposedly a reincarnation of a more notable gypsy from one of those Eastern European countries you can’t really pronounce…the old world.  The one mention of her I did find indicated that she was a specialist in helping people find their true selves, who it is they are and what they need to fulfill their destinies.  That was exactly what I needed.

I drove up to the town on a Saturday.  I hadn’t told anyone where I was going, because I knew what people would say.  After all, I’m a lawyer, an intellectual, and the idea of someone like me going to see someone like Svenja… it wouldn’t make sense to them.  They’d think I’d gone round the bend and send me back to the idiot therapist who thought all of my problems were related to stress.

It was actually a really nice drive.  One of the things I realized was that I don’t get out of the city nearly enough.  I’ve never considered myself to be a “hippie,” but being out away from cities and traffic and noise was great.  I remember that one of the guys I dated last year was a total outdoorsy-type.  He’d go hiking and camping and fishing…he wanted me to come with him once, so I did.

That didn’t go so well.  Suffice to say, I never saw him again after that weekend.

I pulled into the tiny town with only a gas station and a Moose Lodge to its name and drove down the dirt roads to a little ramshackle house.  I swear this house was at the end of the world.  The road just kept going and going for miles and every time I thought I had gone too far and missed it, a little sign with her name on it would pop up, pointing further down the road.  She wasn’t kidding about the floral business.  After miles of dusty, rocky road, I pulled up to a house that appeared to reside in the Garden of Eden.  I have no idea how she got those trees, flowers and grass to not just live on the rocky outcropping, but actually thrive there.  That was proof enough that there was something otherworldly going on.

I knocked on her door.  From somewhere inside this cottage was some music from the 1920’s or 30’s.  I wasn’t surprised when I saw an actual Victrola playing the record.  The door opened and… well, first, let me just preface this by saying that Svenja is a really nice lady.  I didn’t know what to expect when I got there, and she couldn’t have been more cordial and accommodating.  But when she first opened that door, I thought, ‘my God, this woman is going to kill me and hide my body.’  I mean, honestly, the idea wasn’t that farfetched.  Svenja looked very normal, like someone I might find living down the street.  Granted her street and mine are very different, but you get the idea.  What made my blood run cold were her eyes.  They were black, like tiny onyx stones drilling into my skull, assessing me.  Her pupils were so dark and large I almost couldn’t see the whites of her corneas around them.  Of course, it was dark in that house, so that’s probably why her pupils were so dilated.

She nodded to me, as if I was exactly who she was expecting and ushered me inside her house.  Immediately I smelled exotic spices and herbs.  When I asked if she made potions, she noted it was her turn to make goulash for a potluck dinner.

I guess even paranormals have potlucks.

{To Be Continued…}

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Posted under randomness, writing

This post was written by Shawna on January 26, 2011

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Southland Review

My preview of the 3rd season premiere of SOUTHLAND is posted at Seat42F.

Posted under reviews

This post was written by Shawna on January 4, 2011

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2011 – New Year, Same Blog.

So this is the new year.  I don’t feel any different. — “The New Year,” Death Cab for Cutie

The beginning of  a new year means time to reintroduce myself to the masses…which hopefully will lead to more life on this blog (it was really depressing how little traffic I saw here last year — I’ll do my part (i.e. actually blog), if you do yours (i.e. read and COMMENT)).  So let’s get the introductions out of the way first, then move on to other business.

Hi.

My name is Shawna Benson.  You probably don’t know me.  If you do know me, save your pithy or sarcastic remarks for my Facebook page.  I’m trying to run a professional looking blog here, guys.

I have had an online/web presence since 1992.  I realize that may be before some of you were born.

I have been tilting at the Hollywood windmills for 8 years now (officially — unofficially, as in, before I moved to Los Angeles, add 2 years…I don’t because I didn’t know what the hell I was doing then).  2010 was the year I finally saw some progress.  I sold a webseries, which I am writing with my friend Bernie Su (more on this stuff over time, when I can reveal more information publicly).  Meanwhile, I’m writing my own webseries to produce this year, and I also write TV reviews and commentary for Seat42F.

I also write with my sister, Julie.  She and I have had a sci-fi drama pilot optioned in the past, and we continue to develop scripts under our “Irregardless Productions” banner.  While I’m busy trying to get a webseries launched, she’s busy being Josh Friedman’s assistant on the “Locke & Key” tv pilot he’s writing/producing for Fox.  She’s also one of the funniest writers I know.

Specs — I have a lot of them.  If you are wondering why anyone has ever bothered to come to this blog, it’s because I used to do a lot of analysis of which shows were “good to spec” — I still do this from time to time, but less as an entire post, and more as shows come up that deserve attention.  Also, at this point, you’d better be writing a spec pilot besides a show spec anyway, as it is more likely to get you read and staffed.

No, I have not been staffed on a TV show.  Yet.

I also get a lot of traffic for my Newbie’s Guide to San Diego Comic Con.

As you can probably tell, I’m on all the social networks, practically.  My moniker on Twitter is @TeelaJBrown.  There’s a story to the nickname that goes back 15 years there.  If you google “TeelaJBrown” most of the sites which appear point to me (Livejournal, Amazon Wish List, etc, etc).

I also have a secondary twitter account which will probably see more use this year — @shawnabenson.

Okay I think that’s the introductions out of the way…

Why should you visit this blog…more than once?

I don’t know that I have a good answer for that, but I’ll tell you what I use it for, and you can decide if it’s something you’d like to read from time to time.  I blog TV, what I like, what’s good, what works (or doesn’t).  I recently blogged about AMC’s THE WALKING DEAD.  I’ll link to my Seat42F articles and reviews.  I blog about writing in general, and about tv writing in specific when the mood strikes and I feel I have something to say that hasn’t already been beat to death on other screenwriting blogs (see the blogroll on the left).  I’m going to try to revive the “Movie of the Day” posts, but rather than commit to one every single day, I’ll commit to one every time I see a (new to me) film.  I wish that were every day, but I have a DVR backlogged with TV episodes of about 20 series that I currently watch and stay current on.

Sometimes I blog about events in my life, particularly if they are related to writing or my career.  I’ve also been known to relate a story or two from my past.  Your mileage for those types of posts may vary.

So that’s me.  That’s my world.  I’m a 36 year old chick living in Hollywood working to break into this messy business of show.

And now that I’ve updated the blog for 2011, I have 3 scripts to write and 3 articles to finish… see you around Solar de Cahuenga.

Posted under randomness, writing

This post was written by Shawna on January 2, 2011

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