Writing in the Dark,, an apt metaphor for anyone who has ever tried to tap out words on a  backlit screen.  This book, a collection of essays gathered by Max van Manen, shows how "different kinds of human experience may be explored, the methods for investigating phenomena contributing to human experience…the process of inquiry, reflection and writing…a valuable and rich resource".   That is to say, writing is an attempt to reflect what goes on inside us.  Inside us is where "story" occurs.Scott Popjes maintains a busy schedule, writing, producing and editing major theatrical trailers, promos and EPK's and developing and producing TV series and films, such as "The Remarkably 20th Century" and "The Long Ride Home".  Born and raised in suburban New Jersey, this everyman director/editor loves making movies.Ernest Hemingway - The man who ran with the bulls.  His literary sparseness and compression, well-worn and well-earned, captured the attention of critics and public in a volatile age.  In 1952, he received the Pulitzer for The Old Man and the Sea.   In 1954, he received the Nobel Prize for his "powerful style-making mastery of the modern art of narration."  He wrote from life.  Until his life subdued and rescued him.Will Shakespeare - Aka "The bard".  Arguably the best English writer to ever glide pen to page, populist hero as well as aristocratic raconteur, though we wish he had used all women instead of all men to populate his plays.  (Not a prejudice, just a fact.)   His sonnets remain divine.  Rare is the writer who can scribble successfully in one genre, let alone two.  Some postulate this poet and playwright was, in fact, more than one man…or woman.  What would he have done with film, we wonder?Though he produced fewer than 40 paintings, Dutch painter Jan Vermeer is one of the most respected artists of the European tradition. He is known for his serene, luminous interiors populated by one or two figures. Vermeer grew up in Delft, Holland, joined the painters' guild in 1653, and worked as an art dealer to support his wife and 11 children.  In 1672, war with France ruined Holland’s economy and Vermeer's business failed.  Soon after, he died of a stroke at age 42, leaving his family bankrupt.  Vermeer's paintings were largely forgotten for nearly 200 years, until 1858 when a French critic began to write admiringly about his work.  Interest in Vermeer surged again recently with his work exhibited at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  Contemporary writers have also been inspired by him, including Tracy Chevalier whose novel Girl with a Pearl Earring imagines the life of the girl in Vermeer's painting of the same name. L.Ron Hubbard - Whatever you may think of his other worldly beliefs, the full body of L. Ron Hubbard's work includes more than 5,000 writings and 3,000 tape-recorded lectures, spanning five, highly productive decades.  A humanitarian and adventurer, he  believes, "There are only two tests of a life well lived: Did one do as one intended? And were people glad one lived?"  We add, "And can one write about it, anyhow?"Johannes Vermeer's "Lady Writing a Letter with Her Maid" records a prior chivalrous age where class decorum reigned.  (Oh, well, you can't have everything.)   One of the most talented painters in the Dutch Golden Age, that's the 1600's, Vermeer's work was forgotten for centuries.  The most brilliant artists of any century are probably never discovered, their paintings hidden till ruin, their pages dropping to dust in unfound attics.  We find this oddly comforting.  No martyr of time, this particular masterpiece hangs in the National Gallery of Ireland.  Definitely worth a gaze.Jules Verne - Ode to childhood and the player within us.  Verne was born, aptly, in Nates, France in 1828.  He promptly ran off to become cabin boy on a merchant ship but was caught and sent back to his parents.  Thus constrained, his imagination wandered.  He wrote story after story, became very rich, bought a yacht and resumed his initial intent - to sail around the world.  Or Europe anyhow.   Our favorite remains Twenty Thousand Leagues.
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First-Place Winner, May - October 2014
Screenplay Contest - Teleplay/Short Series

"Life in the Fast Lane"

Written by Debi Calabro

Nancy Paton


Debi’s passion for writing started at a very early age winning poetry contests in elementary school and looking forward to writing weekly letters to her “Grandpa Taft” a descendant of President Taft. She opted to skip college and go straight into the job market working her way up to branch manager at an international bank. During her time at the bank fellow employees often complemented her on how she has a knack for writing reports, memos, etc, leaving her to think that perhaps she should look into this writing thing.

After her first child, she stopped working and studied the art of screenwriting by reading many books on the topic and attended many creative writing and screenwriting courses. She wrote her first screenplay about fifteen years ago and gained representation fairly quickly at Earth Angels Literary Agency in Los Angeles. To date she has written seven feature film scripts in a few different genres and one TV pilot. She has a project in development at this time entitled, “Out of Brooklyn” with very prominent attachments. It is listed on IMDB.

About five years ago she’s become very involved in the sport of horse racing and is a proud owner of a filly who’s father was a Preakness winner. This prompted the idea of Life in the Fast Lane.

Additional Writer Information:


A diverse group of race horse fans are drawn together for better or worse.


Life in the Fast Lane is a TV pilot dramedy about three groups of people, a divorced couple and their wild teenage daughter, a gay couple and a billionaire couple.

Lead role, Sal, is usually in trouble with his ex-wife Sonia since he’s such a screw up but she’s still in love with him and often falls victim to his charming ways. The ongoing conflict between them is usually stirred up by their teenage daughter, Jessie. Sal enjoys taking Jessie to the track with him, something that drives Sonia completely crazy since Sonia is trying to steer Jessie away from anything unpractical and to get her interested in going to college. Jessie, being a chip off of Sal’s block, doesn’t want to hear it. At the track Jessie starts to admire very wealthy racehorse owner, Maria and wants to be just like her. Sal, who accidentally bumps into Maria one day at the track, tells her how much his daughter admires her. One thing leads to another and they eventually wind up in bed. Gay couple Ryan and Michael purchase their first racehorse with the commission Michael receives selling a very expensive house. They befriend Sal and Jessie at the track one day and wind up winning a big stakes race together and celebrate at an upscale racetrack restaurant. This new found friendship will set up the ground work for the next episode when Maria purchases a condo from Michael and he eventually finds out it’s her little love nest for her and Sal.

Other future episodes will include Maria’s husband, James, getting very suspicious of Sal and Maria, calls some of his friends from “the old neighborhood” to teach Sal a lesson. Maria becomes pregnant with Sal’s baby. She’s thrilled since James is sterile and having a baby is something she’s been yearning for. Sal is not as thrilled. Maria lies to James and tells him she was artificially inseminated.

Jessica finds out about this and has mixed feelings. Though she feels bad for her mom on one hand, she’s intrigued since now she will have an in with Maria on the other.

The season will end with Maria having the baby and dumping Sal leaving him to believe she only used him to have a baby.

With this disparate bunch of characters and the backdrop being the sport of horse racing there will be plenty of material to sustain a fun, endearing and entertaining show for years to come.


The Life in the Fast Lane screenplay, copyright, and story idea below are owned by Debi Calabro. No copying of any of the below pages is allowed unless approved by owner.





SAL MANCUSO, 48, scruffy, lean built, strangely handsome with a
slight limp, wearing a very worn baseball cap with Yankees
logo, walks up to the cashier, HARRIET, 55, skinny white woman
with bad teeth and dyed black hair in an upsweep alla nineteen-fifties.

He pulls out his very used wallet and takes out a twenty.

Hello, Mr. Mancuso.

Hey Harriet. Twenty bucks on the five
horse to win.

You must have a lot of faith to put
all of that on one horse.

Got a hot tip.

She picks up a racing program, looks, then she shakes her head.

From who, the Easter Bunny? She’s the
longest shot on the board. What
happened to your handicapping system?

A hot tip’s a hot tip.

She looks at the program again.

A Pavese horse is running in the same
race. Why don’t you box your horse
with it?

The hell with Pavese.

She hands him his ticket.

Good luck, Sal.

Sal takes a deep, nervous breath then takes the ticket and
leaves the window.


Sal walks down steps then pulls down a stationary folding chair
and sits facing the track.

                      ANNOUNCER (O.S.)
It’s post time!

Sal turns his cap around. He sees the FIVE HORSE fussing a
little about going into the starting gate.

Come on.

The horse is the last to enter the gate. Now all the horses are
lined up inside the gate ready to go.


And they’re off!


Sal watches intently.


The horses are running down the back stretch.


Sal rises to his feet as he watches the horses run around the

Come on. Come on.


The horses run past the clubhouse.


Sal’s almost out of control.

Yes! Yes! Yes! ...No! No! No!

The race is over. He plops down on his chair then turns his hat

A couple of MEN, look like regulars, walk up the steps toward

How’d ya do, Sal?

He puts a thumbs down.

                       OTHER MAN
Never bet against a Pavese horse.

They continue walking toward the club house with smart alec
grins. Sal rips up his ticket in little pieces and throws it in
the air like confetti.


The winning horse enters the winners circle with it’s happy
owner’s, JAMES PAVESE, 45, short, average looking, decked out
in designer everything and his wife MARIA, 42, attractive, a
little taller than him probably because of the Christian
Louboution heels she wears and also sporting the fanciest

A couple of others enter the area and a picture is taken.

A SPOKESWOMEN, 35, sophisticated, steps over to James and Maria
holding a trophy with a horse on it.

I’d like to present Mr. And Mrs.
Pavese with this trophy on behalf of
the Whitney family.

She goes to hand James the TROPHY but Maria intervenes and
takes it.


Not your five star restaurant. A couple of people placing food
orders, a couple of others on line waiting and a few sitting
eating simple food items.

Sal sits alone at a table eating a burger and fries with a
racing form and a pen and paper. He appears to be working on
some serious mathematical equation.

SCARE CROW (45), scrawny black man, sits down at Sal’s table.

                       SCARE CROW
You still working on your handicapping

Hey, Scare Crow.

                       SCARE CROW
You know. I tried using your very
fancy method but I got nothing but a
lot of confetti.

I don’t remember giving any guarantees
but my system’s probably better than
hot tips or hunches.

                       SCARE CROW
Harry the Hat’s pissed. He used your
little system there and got burnt a
few times. You know Harry doesn’t like
to be burnt.

Again, I didn’t give any-

HARRY THE HAT (45) big as a house wearing a big hat is walking
toward Sal’s table. He’s with a couple of other THUGS, same age
but not quite the same size as huge Harry.           

Oh shit.

                       HARRY THE HAT
There you are you piece of shit.

He goes right over to Sal, picks him up from his shirt and
pulls him close to his face.

                       HARRY THE HAT
You guaranteed me your method works.

Scare Crow looks very surprised.

                       SCARE CROW
Me too!

Sal quickly turns to Scare Crow. Scare Crow quickly gets up and

                       HARRY THE HAT
I lost two large using your fucked up

I’m trying to make it better. Look.

Sal points to the pad and paper with math scribbling on it.

Harry the Hat looks, picks up the pad still holding onto Sal.
He throws the pad down on the table then Sal onto his seat. A
couple of people look over but that’s about it.

                      HARRY THE HAT
It better work, Mancuso. You owe me.

He walks away. Sal continues to sit looking defeated.




Huge, perfectly manicured suburban mansion.


Maria quickly enters her home carrying the trophy leaving the
door open. She disappears into the next room as James enters
and closes the door behind him.

Maria, I’m going to jump in the shower
to get ready for tonight.

He heads for the staircase.

                       MARIA (O.S.)
James! Come here a minute!

He does what he’s told.


Maria is staring at the trophy that’s now on a shelve with many
other trophies to do with horse racing. James enters.

Look at this.

James looks at the trophy collection.


You don’t see it?

James looks again.

What it are you talking about?

She points to the new trophy.

This horse has a penis.

James steps up to the trophy to take a better look then
chuckles a little.

Oh. Look at that. Very detailed.

Yeah, it’s very detailed alright.
Jenny’s Dream is a filly! The Whitney
is a race just for fillies! They gave
us a male horse trophy!

Maybe they ran out of girl horse

Marie looks blankly at James.

How did you ever become a billionaire?

James goes over and hugs her.

I couldn’t have done it without you
baby cakes.

He gives her a kiss. She gives him a snooty little smile.

And don’t you forget it.

Maria quickly walks out of the room. James goes over to the
trophy again to take another look. He looks under the horse,


Your normal neighborhood place where one would go to escape for

Sal’s sitting at the bar eating a hamburger and drinking a
beer. ANDY, 45, bartender/owner, heavy New York accent, is
leaning on the counter not too far from Sal. They watch a
Yankee game. A Yankee strikes out.

And they pay them millions to do that?

Remember how good you was in high
school? You could’ve been a Yankee if
it wasn’t for...well-

If I wasn’t a complete nut job as a
teenager and wrap my car around a

Yeah, that. They were fun days though.
Except for ...

Andy gestures towards Sal’s leg as Sal takes a big gulp of his
beer and continues to watch the game. Andy tends to another

CONNIE, 48, kind of scraggly but cute, enters the restaurant
wearing tight black pants and top. She sees Sal and quickly
fixes her hair with her fingers. She goes over to him and puts
her big tote bag on the chair next to him.

You got money on the game?


Connie pulls out a black apron from her bag and starts to put
it on as Sal takes a bite of his burger.

Go to the track today?


I’ve still never been to Belmont.

It’s fifteen minutes away. Why don’t
you just go?

I don’t want to go by myself. I
wouldn’t know what to do.

Ya just go to a window, place a bet
and ...lose.

Connie smiles at his snide remark.

Are you still looking for a job?

Sal just gives her a, “what do you think” look.

                       CONNIE (CONT’D)
Remember Fat Kim from high school?
Well, she’s not so fat anymore.
I ran into her the other day. She
married some big shot that works for
the Mets.


We exchanged numbers. I could give her
a call and see if her husband could do
something for you. I mean, baseball
was always your thing.

I’m not exactly young enough or fit
enough to be a ball player.

No. Not a player. Maybe something in
the office or, something like that.
You know more about the game then
anyone I know.

Sal smiles at her.

Thank you.

She just stares at him. The spell is broken when A YOUNG COUPLE
enters the restaurant. Connie picks up two menus.

You still have the same phone number?


She nods and goes over to the couple to greet and seat them.
Andy goes back over to Sal.

She’s had a crush on you since we was

Yeah, that’s what a need. Connie Fusco
in my life. It’s bad enough Sonia
thinks I had an affair with her.

Sonia. At least she was able to keep
you in line ...for awhile.

What a you mean? I’m in line.

Right, the line at OTB, Belmont, the
Big A

A right. A right.

He gets up, pulls out his wallet and opens it. Empty.

Oh, I could’ve sworn-

Forget about it.

I’m going to the track with Jessie
tomorrow. Maybe she’ll bring me luck
and we’ll come back for dinner with

Andy just looks at Sal with a slight smile.


Sal gives his friend a little nod and leaves. Connie watches
him walk out the door as she waits on the patrons.