WRITING SUBMISSION: ROB KOROTKY
According to a press release sent out by the hiring PR Company, Base Camp Communications, there were a lot of writers who applied. Here's an excerpt from the press release which appeared on several forum sites:
Screenwriter Rob Korotky was chosen from more than 150 journalists that applied for the reporter position. Applicants included contributors to The New Yorker and Wired magazines, sitcom writers for NBC, Johns Hopkins University poetry masters candidates, and a woman
that “…graduated three hours ago. Seriously. I need a job!”
The submission process for Expedition4am began with sending an email outlining my qualifications, both writing and outdoor sports. Based on my writing and outdoors resumes (a couple paragraphs sent via email) I was selected for the next round. The second round involved submission of a writing sample, based on 3 questions from Base Camp communications. Fifteen writers were selected for this round, which would eventually determine the person chosen as the "Gonzo Reporter."
Here's my writing submission -- the 3 questions with my answers:
Question 1 --
It is dark. You're 60 miles outside of Alamosa, Colorado. You're
traveling in a 1977 Dodge Royal Monaco Brougham station wagon (no,
really you are). The axle falls off (no, really, it might), throwing
your roof rack full of gear into the path of an oncoming semi (that
doesn't stop), your crew mates are passed out. What the hell just
ALAMOSA BOUND -
Ever have one of those dreams where the world is coming to an end, only to wake and discover that the world IS coming to an end? For most of the crew that was the experience this morning as the beloved Land Barge met its demise.
I was in the passenger seat, Mike at the wheel, everyone else happily asleep with visions of sugarplums and a stripper named Rachelle dancing through their heads. Out the windshield the Milky Way lit the heavens and the glow of the moon glistened off the asphalt ahead of us. The low rumble of the Land Barge’s 7 cylinders (that’s right, one is not firing) and the faint crooning of Johnny Cash playing softly over the AM/FM provided an almost harmonic lullaby for this carload of circus freaks.
Mike seemed to be on autopilot. Eye’s front. One hand lazily draped over the wheel. His lips moving occasionally as if he actually knew the song on the radio.
As for me... my eyelids drooped as I looked around at the dark gray landscape. Sleep felt like it could overtake me at any second. In fact, I may have drifted out of consciousness for just an instant before I heard this:
Now if you’ve ever had a wild cougar attack you in the dark and latch onto your throat, then you have a rough idea of my immediate sensation. The demonic sounds erupting from the underside of the Land Barge, combined with the spin-cycle motion of the rear end of the car, sent an immediate spike up my spine and caused my throat to close in a final gasp for air. My eyes shot wide open and I looked to see...
Mike grabbing the steering wheel with BOTH HANDS. The thought “Holy shit this might be serious!” immediately zapped through every synapse in my brain. Then suddenly the world entered hyper-real slow motion as...
The car lurched and swerved, accompanied by a cacophony of metallic clanging and crunching sounds...
Mike tugged back and forth on the wheel in an effort to gain control...
Meanwhile, up ahead... LIGHTS, of an approaching big rig. Closing the gap.
More violent motions by the Land Barge. Unnatural UPWARD motions!
For a split second I caught a glimpse in the side mirror-– sparks and the REAR AXLE toppling end-over-end into the ditch. Spray of dust and weeds.
Just then the car spun a 360 right in the middle of the road. All I could make out was the whip-blur lights of the oncoming semi truck, the driver of which was most certainly shitting a brick as a massive ‘70s station wagon careened out of control directly in his path.
Now, I’m not a religious man, but I sense it was most likely by the grace of God that we avoided a head-on collision. Perhaps it was Mike’s deft driving skills... or perhaps it was simply the physics of a two-ton, Detroit-built juggernaut sans rear axle. Whichever the case, our lives were spared.
Our gear, however, was not so lucky. It had been haphazardly bungee strapped to the roof rack after a hard evening of drinking. During the spin it was sent flying and exploded upon impact with the massive front grill of the Peterbuilt. I can only suspect that a few items were instantly vaporized.
When all motion stopped... including the beating of our hearts... the mood became surreal. The echo of screeching metal and squealing of the semi’s air brakes slowly faded into the calm night landscape. It was replaced by the melody of chirping crickets. Then, as dust settled and the stench of burnt rubber filtered into the car, we glanced around at each other and tried to breathe once again.
A brief moment passed, air filled our lungs, and a grin grew across Mike’s face. He threw an arm over the bench seat and in a calm voice offered the rest of the crew, who had been sleeping, a good morning greeting-- “Wakey, wakey, eggs, ham, and bakey.”
Thus was the end of the Land Barge... and the beginning of our morning.
Question 2 --
Cell phone in the backcountry or not? Why?
Technology has allowed us to see distant planets. It has given us the ability to witness events on an atomic level. It has even hooked me to YOU via the internet and craigslist. I don’t see any reason for excluding technology such as a cell phone.
On the other hand, there are several reasons for bringing cell phones:
a) with the right web servers/coding, AND a cellphone camera,
pictures can be automatically uploaded to the site via cell
phone. Thus adding to the journalistic value of the web
b) a cell phone can save our asses, or call a tow truck, in the
event the car loses its rear axle.
c) we can use a cell phone to order pizza or place bets with
d) like that New Zealand guy on Everest, we may want to use it
to call our loved ones in the event we are about to die on
e) Y’never know when your agent might call with a more
lucrative and less risky gig.
Question 3 --
Can you tell us what you would find valuable (from a journal entry
point of view) from this scenario, and what you could bring to the
fouram.pro website the following day:
After a long, hard, night of roadside Mexican food and Pabst Blue
Ribbon, the group is making their way to a local trailhead for a hike.
Some of the members are getting a harsh reaction to the Cowboy coffee
that was served campside that morning. Unfortunately, one of the members
gets an instantaneous blow out that soils a brand new pair of Patagonia
Rhythm shorts. We're talking major catastrophic loss of control here.
First of all.is this funny? Or, is this something that we need to keep
on the down low? Write how you would treat this event, or not?
Is this funny? You’re kidding, right? A burrito & beer blowout is the essence of funny. Scatological humor is timeless, having graced the screen in Cinema for the past 100 years, appeared in writings such as the Canterbury Tales and even on the stage of Ancient Greek Theatre!
The root question is why is it funny? The answer is because it passes the basic rule: Comedy is merely tragedy that happens to someone else.
Certainly it’s not one bit funny if YOU are the person experiencing a burrito & beer blowout. But how could any writer worth his salt not capitalize on such a situation?! It’s Gold, Jerry. Gold!
The key in this case is to set up the story, otherwise it’s just gross. It would have to include a recap of the prior evening’s events to set up the uncomfortable morning situation. Then build tension and suspense as the morning events unfold. After all, this is a volcano rumbling and preparing to erupt! It’s Mount Saint Helen’s, and the audience will see the dangers looming. The big questions in their minds: WHO will take the bullet in this intestinal game of Russian Roulette? And... what will be the result of the explosion?