As you may or may not know, Paul is, in addition to being a kick-butt guest blogger and short story writer (check out this short story and this short story collection, as well as his story in Ride), is a producer and writer for Leverage.
Paul just recently sent me this email:
How goes it these days?
Seeing as how you’re such a fan of LEVERAGE — the show I wrote for that’s on Sunday nights on TNT – I thought it might be fun if you came out to Portland, Oregon where we shoot the show, and did a little cameo. I could create a small walk-on role for you, perhaps as a Portland bike messenger?
You could see the production, meet the actors, dine on some craft service, visit Portland, and generally enjoy yourself for a day or so.
Since you give so much to others, and rarely think about yourself, I thought it might be nice to give you your own little moment in the sun! Or rain, seeing as how we shoot in Portland.
No need to thank me, as this is something I very much want to do.
As you might expect, I am intrigued by this opportunity. As you might also expect, however, I have some questions and suggestions, which I am pleased to now present in the form of…what else?…an open letter.
An Open Letter to Paul Guyot (and everyone else at Leverage)
Thanks very much for your generous offer to include me in an episode of Leverage. As you no doubt expect, I am more than inclined to accept. That said, I’ve spent a few minutes thinking about this opportunity, and would now like to run a few questions and ideas by you.
Questions and Concerns
This will be the first time I’ve been on television since ninth grade, Paul. And so I’ve got a few general questions and niggling concerns I hope you can clear up.
- Hair : I don’t know if you’ve noticed in any of the pictures I’ve put on my blog, but my hair is beginning to thin. Or, more specifically, the hair on the top of my head is starting to thin (the hair on my back seems to be picking up the slack, however). And by “starting to thin,” I of course mean that I have an adorable little peninsula of hair on the top of an otherwise bare forehead zone. The attached photo should demonstrate the state of my hair (or lack thereof) quite well, as well as the somewhat alarming fact that my forehead looks like it belongs to a Sharpei. So my question is, will you provide me with a hairpiece for the show? Or should I buy one myself? Or should I grow a combover just as fast as I can?
- Beard : Since you are filming in Portland, I am growing a Portland-ish beard with all possible haste. You will be glad to know, I think, that I grow a thick, lush beard, at approximately twice the rate of most men. Believe me when I say that in the below photo I have been growing this beard less than a week.
I am nevertheless concerned about the state of this beard for two reasons. First, it’s becoming evident that my beard is going grey. Do you have people who can de-grey-ify it? Second, can they take care of trimming it into a less pedestrian shape? I am capable of only the most pedestrian beardscaping techniques.
- Weight : I have heard before that the camera adds ten pounds. Could you do me a favor and have a disclaimer at the beginning of the show, when it airs, saying that due to unforeseen technical issues, in my case it added 35 pounds?
- Diction : I have a slight diction problem, Paul. Specifically, that I am a mushmouth. My “d’s” come out as “j’s.” My “p’s” come out as “b’s.” My “k’s” come out as “g’s.” The only vowel I ever pronouce is the schwa. I recently stopped using fricatives altogether. Will this be a problem? Perhaps you could have me overdubbed, or sub-titled? Or have me hold up cards? Or, right after I say something, have the actor I say it to repeat it back, as if to make sure they remember what I just said (but in actuality to help viewers understand me). Or perhaps you should just have me overdubbed. In which case, I would like to have James Earl Jones be the guy who overdubs me. I think that would be believable.
- Breath : I have terrible breath. I’m sorry. You may just want to give the actors I’m interacting with a heads-up on this fact. You may also want to keep the room well-ventilated, and perhaps have a scented candle burning nearby.
- Face asymmetry : Could you give your FX guys a heads-up that the left side of my face functions only at about 70%, and they may want to do some CGI work on my face afterward?
- Appearance Trademark : You may want to have your legal guys check and make sure that Stanley Tucci hasn’t already trademarked the way I look. So you don’t get sued and stuff.
This is, of course, your show and I would never want to presume to tell you how to write a story. That said, I have a few ideas for how you might want to work me into the plot. I think your viewers would enjoy any or all of these.
Idea 1 — Have the episode be about a midpack endurance cyclist : I think people would really be interested in endurance mountain bike racing, if only they knew more about it. How about if the whole episode centers around me training for the Breck Epic, culminating in lots of action sequences – with dramatic and exciting music in the background – of me racing and finishing midpack in the race.
At some point in the training montage (because, obviously, there would need to be a training montage), I could take a fall, in slow motion (you’ll need to get a 5′7″ stocky stuntman for this part). As you go to commercial, there would be concern about whether I will be able to even participate in the race at all. (Don’t worry, though, in the next scene it becomes apparent that I want to continue on, in spite of the obvious pain, because that’s what midpack endurance cyclists do.)
I could have a dramatic, powerful monologue about how, for me, it’s not about finishing first. It’s about confronting my limitations and then busting through them. I would make my eyes look fierce and my voice steely, dramatically quiet, and less-mushy than usual for this speech.
Maybe the regular actors could be my support crew during the race or something, so they don’t feel left out.
Idea 2. Have the episode be about a beloved cycling celebrity blogger : Did you know that there are 20 million blogs in the US, alone? Obviously, blogging is white-hot, and yet there are no TV shows I am aware of tapping into this massive demographic.
I can imagine an episode where all the regular characters discover a blog written by a really interesting middle-aged guy who likes bikes. Before long, they’re all totally addicted to the blog (it’s my blog by the way), and are ignoring the job they’re supposed to be doing right then.
The blog helps them keep their sanity, because the job they need to do (stealing a maguffin back from someone who shouldn’t have the maguffin in the first place) is impossibly difficult.
And then, in an awesome plot twist, by reading the blog they figure out the missing piece to the job that’s had them stumped. High fives ensue! They execute the job flawlessly, and leave a comment on the person’s blog thanking him for saving the day.
Then, in a surprise twist, the blogger rings their doorbell just as they post the comment. “How did you get here so fast?” they ask.
“Oh, I have my ways,” I reply, with a sly wink. The regular actors look at each other, shrug, and the show ends with a giant group hug.
Idea 3. Have the episode be about a guy who really likes Mexican food: What if there were a guy (played by me) who really really liked Mexican food, but – because he loves Mexican food and therefore notices these kinds of things – discovers that all the good Mexican food restaurants in the area are starting to put more and more refried beans in their burritos, cheapening the product without reducing their prices.
The Leverage gang discovers this is true, and finds out that it’s because the Mafia has bought all the Mexican restaurants in the area, using blackmail or threats or something. And now they’re money laundering and making exorbitant profits on their burritos, both at the same time.
So they start their own taco stand, making really great burritos, probably with fantastic guacomole (I can help with that). The client (me) spreads the word and soon it’s the most popular taco stand in the area.
When the Mafia tries to buy the taco stand using threats and blackmail and stuff, the Leverage gang demands a bunch of money because they’re the last decent taco stand in Portland. Then they disappear, give all the money to the original Mexican restaurants, and I teach them all how to make really good guacamole so they can regain their clientele.
And the Mafia can’t do anything about it because they spent all their money on that super-expensive taco stand or something.
I’ll let you figure out the plot niceties.
I think you’ll agree these are all really good ideas, and I won’t blame you if you want to use all of them (I’ll of course expect to get fair compensation).
I look forward to finding which of these you like best, and am excited to be a part of the show!
The Fat Cyclist
PS: You know what would be cool? If I became a recurring character in the show.