January 2, 1994

Linda came into the city Thursday for Miss Saigon with David and Liz. Good show. I’d spent the day with Mark Netter brainstorming Prince of Persia: The Movie. Came up with some pretty good stuff, in six hours of concentrated rambling. This could be a fun movie to write.

On Friday, December 31, Oscar and Julia Neidecker-Gonzales drove up from DC on the spur of the moment, Karen and Wendy in tow, to join Linda and me for the matinee of Angels in America (Part One). Another good show. Then we got dressed to the nines and went out for New Year’s Eve, to a party downtown in SoHo. It was a good party, still jumping when we left at 4 a.m. in search of 24-hour hot bialys. Some memorable moments with people I’ll never see again. I wish I had just one picture of me and Linda and Sam that night.

Mailed off Yoana’s Yale application on the way to dinner, from the 8th Ave. Fed Ex station. Oscar approved of her essay. [His sister] Karen is applying too. Wouldn’t it be great if they both got in?

It was a good trip to NY. Didn’t get any work done, didn’t even try, but I saw a lot of everybody I wanted to see. New York has so much that San Francisco doesn’t have. Mainly what it has, for me, are memories. Layers on layers of them. 29 years’ worth.

“In Honduras I feel alive. Here, I feel dead,” said Karen (one of the few times she spoke the entire weekend, although she was always listening). That’s kind of how I feel in San Francisco.

In New York, for me, even the ghosts are alive.

Maybe that will change. Maybe it’s possible to transform your relationship to a place by the life you bring to it. Maybe by living intensely enough, risking all, I can bring myself to life in SF. Bring SF to life around me.

That’s my New Year’s resolution for 1994.

January 3, 1994 [United flight 3 to SF]

Still boarding. Damn, I could have spent another ten minutes talking to that staggeringly beautiful Argentine girl who’s going to London. Actually, the reason I got up and fled so suddenly was that the conversation was going so well, I didn’t know where to take it from there. Better to leave it as one of those encounters suspended in time, connected to nothing. It was pretty bold, for me. I crossed the room just to talk to her.

I lost my little book full of phone numbers. Oh well. A clean break with 1993.

January 4, 1994 [San Francisco]

A heck of a first day. Got up at 7, met Robert at the gym at 8, worked out for an hour and a half and then to the office for a LONG, FULL day getting back into the swing of things.

Caravan Pictures passed on Prince. Too bad.

Got Nicki started on mocking up a test dialog sequence (from The Lady Vanishes).

Tomi’s still obsessing about Dragon and Pete. If she mentions it one more time I’ll scream.

Robert’s full of energy and is cranking away. An invaluable partner.

January 6, 1994

The boys (Mark and Noel) are back in town.

Yesterday was MacWorld. Demoed Prince 2 for journalists. The product everyone was excited about was Myst (which won the Eddy last night, like Prince 1 did a year ago.)

Afterwards Robert and I went over to Drew Pictures (Iron Helix) for a party of developers like us. There were the Journeyman Project people, the Critical Path people, the Alice to Ocean people, and others. Not in attendance were Rand and Robyn, the heroes of the day. It was really good to meet all those folks who are in the same boat we are. We got to compare notes about sales, publishers, royalties, advances, budgets, etc. Reality check.

New publisher to check out: MediaVision.

Today I wrote a letter of recommendation for Yoana (first draft).

Nicole got a first pass dialog scene mockup up and running. Fun.

Greg called from my apartment in Paris. The Seine is overflowing its banks. I miss them all.

January 7, 1994

24 hours after I sent in my visa application, the French Embassy called. They’d received my application and, in their opinion, “that’s not the way to proceed.” The nice lady explained to me that since I’d answered “oui” to the question “Do you plan to carry out an activity remunerated in France?” my application would be rejected tout-de-suite. She suggested that I come to the embassy in person so we can sit down and figure out how to fix it.

“And by the way,” she added, “it’s absolutely necessary that you come in person to show us how to pass level 4 of Prince of Persia.”

Once again, Prince of Persia saves my neck. I went in, she helped me make the necessary changes with white-out, and introduced me to everybody in the office as a celebrity. The only problem was, by the time I got out of the embassy, it was after 4 p.m. and my car had been towed, but that wasn’t her fault.

January 9, 1994

Went back to the office on Sunday, found the boys there. I took pity and invited them over for dinner. Cooked spaghetti. Noel made garlic bread. We drank two bottles of wine. It was fun. They really are just kids.

January 13, 1994

Jon and I drove up to Broderbund to meet with Ken, Harry [Wilker], and Ed Auer, in the long-table board-of-directors conference room. First time I’d ever been in that room.

It was easier than I expected. It turns out they’re not all that hot to do Prince 3 in the first place, so what have we been arguing about? We parted on friendly terms with expressions of desire to work together again on something, etc. Load off my mind. Now we can just concentrate on Express for a while, while Robert and I leisurely dream of Project X.

Robert and I have been meeting at 8 every morning to lift weights or play squash.

Bit by bit, Express is coming together. Maybe I’m just stupid, but I don’t feel overwhelmed by it yet. ’94 is off to a good start.

January 17, 1994

There was an earthquake in L.A. and a big storm in NY. It was a crystal clear day, cold and sunny like Martin Luther King’s birthday. Robert broke up with Julie. I nearly got rear-ended on the Embarcadero but turbo and good tires saved me.

January 19, 1994

Robert’s leaving for DC tomorrow. “I don’t know why I’m going at this point,” he said. Poor guy.

Today in a massive surge of effort I got organized, cleaned out my desk, and printed out the complete, 300-page (so far) Express Bible. Robert got the new network running (christened: Hopey).

Nicki left for Sundance with Terry (earthquake victim). Jon left for Dallas.

It’s going to be a lonely week in the office.

January 25, 1994

Robert’s back. Took him to dinner at Pasha’s. Jilal was delighted to see me after such a long absence (since the Prince 2 party). “It’s like you’re a hero,” Robert said.

Robert’s in a new frame of mind. He’s done mourning Julie and ready to face the future. “From now on, when we go out, we go OUT.” He wants to take an Italian class.

Hashed out some good points on the screenplay at lunch with Tomi today. It’s amazing, we keep fighting and it keeps getting better.

January 30, 1994

Mark and Noel made their milestone. Robert and I took them to dinner at Fog City Diner.

I’m going to L.A. Wednesday to meet an agent recommended by Dick Gersh.

January 31, 1994

Sent off Yoana’s financial aid forms. The last of it. Whew. That turned out to be quite a project.

I’ve spent about $300K so far on Smoking Car. At times, I idly wonder: what if everybody just up and left? I guess I’d write off the loss and go back to France. The money seems as unreal as everything else.

For the moment, though, it looks like we’re doing it.

February 6, 1994

Went to LA, met Fred Amsel. Tooling about quakestruck LA in a blue Miata with the top down.

Dinner with George, Sue and Mario.

Last week was great. We really cranked on Express.

February 7, 1994

Drove home from my date with Eileen with a big stupid grin on my face and stood outside in the rain after locking the garage door enjoying the sensation of the drops splatting on my head. What can this mean?

February 15, 1994

A day in the slough of despair. At the office till 10. Last night it was 1 a.m. Everything but work seems to have fallen away. How did that happen?

February 17, 1994

quand le ciel bas et lourd pèse comme un couvercle
sur l’esprit gémissant en proie aux longs ennuis
et que de l’horizon embrassant tout le cercle
il nous verse un jour noir plus triste ques les nuits

it’s been like that these last couple of days.

Just called Patrick. Oh man I want to go to Paris. Just for a week even. I need to do something to shake me up, get me out of this cycle of work and work and

Johnny tu n’es pas un ange

February 19, 1994

Yesterday was a big day at the office. Don is back! Oh sweet relief. I hadn’t realized how half-scared I was that he’d never come back from Australia. Nicki’s graphics tests are looking promising. Robert and the kids are cranking. This game is going to be awesome.

February 24, 1994

I could write 15 pages every day just about what happens at the office, but who’d read it?

February 25, 1994

My last day. Lined up enough stuff to keep Nicki busy for the week I’ll be away. Drove over to Don’s and spent a happy hour comparing photos of train compartment interiors, cross-referencing car numbers, and trying to determine which ones might have been “ours” in 1914. I have a dream job.

I’m going to Paris!

February 27, 1994 [Paris]

Greg and Patrick met me at the airport. Greg was holding a sign that said “Smoking Car.” Patrick handed me the keys to the Peugeot. I drove us back to the Ile St-Louis in a light rain and heavy traffic. Strange and wonderful and haunting to be back. Six months bridged, the gap closed in a single 11-hour leap of a Boeing 767.

Patrick and I decided that Sandrine must come to SF immediately. We descended into the smoke-filled “atelier” where Emmerich lay on the dusty wooden floor silently smoking, called Sandrine in Argentan and told her the news. She was euphoric. She can’t wait to get out of France.

I am the bringer of light and energy. As soon as I arrive, things start to move. Nice effect to have on people. If only I could bottle it.

February 28, 1994

Patrick’s having a rough time here. It’s been hard for him to see everyone going off to start a new life in San Francisco.

For the past six months in SF, I’ve been soothing myself with the fantasy: if this game blows up in my face, I can always go back to Paris. Now I’m facing the reality that 8 rue Boutarel is no longer home. The only unusual thing about this situation is that when I moved out, I didn’t take my stuff with me. It’s still here.

It’s funny how you never know your real reasons for doing things until long after you’ve done them.

March 2, 1994

Today Patrick and I drove to the Armistice clearing to take another look at that car of Marechal Foch’s, now that we know better what we’re looking at. Patrick shot two rolls of clandestine photos of the exterior while I distracted the guard. Had a late lunch at a brasserie in Compiegne, and I slept through the drive back to Paris through stop-and-go traffic.

Greg and I went to Aquaboulevard (hideous place) to play squash with a guy named Philippe, who turned out to be pretty cool despite working in the Ministry of Finance. Patrick joined us at Bateau Ivre for another smoke-filled, two pitchers-of-wine, till-3-a.m. conversation. Ah, France. It’s starting to come back to me.

Sandrine said goodbye to everyone in Argentan telling them she’s going off to America. We’re expecting her in S.F. on the 20th.

I had lunch at Delphine. Dany gave me the names of a couple of people to contact at EA and Sony.

The deeply ironic link between the 1918 signing of the Armistice and the 1914 Orient Express is explored on pages 184-87 of my graphic novel memoir Replay, and in the related Replay Annex entry.

March 4, 1994

Drove to Neuilly for lunch with Denis, Dominique, and the two marketing people who constitute Psygnosis France. Then to the B.N. for a couple of hours of O.E. research with Patrick and Greg.

Went to Lobna’s place at Trocadero and sat on her bed and watched her TV movie, Leila: Née en France.

All my exes live in Texas
That’s why I reside in Tennessee.

March 9, 1994 [New York]

It’s snowing.

March 13, 1994 [San Francisco]

Three days back. Crawling into full gear at the office.

Mark Netter’s coming up from L.A. to help organize the test shoot.

We interviewed Francesca Prada to be a production manager or assistant.

Visited Don Grahame. It was his birthday.

Happy hour at Mondo Media with John Evershed, etc. There were giant life-size cardboard cutouts of Eileen everywhere.

March 15, 1994

Mark Netter’s here. He’s crashing at my place tonight. Tomorrow we’ll get an early start and dive right into it.

Things are starting to jump.

Been playing lots of squash.

March 16, 1994

A good first day. Set Mark up with a desk and a phone. He fits in splendidly. This is, really, quite an assemblage of people. It feels like we’re just hanging out and fooling around but, by God, we’re getting it done. This shoot is going to happen.

Wrote in a role for Eileen as Gregor’s comrade-in-arms (formerly Constantin, now a woman). I was sure Tomi and Robert would show me no mercy, but to my surprise they both agreed it’s more interesting this way.

March 20, 1994

Spring cleaning. My place is once again ship-shape. A few more pieces of furniture acquired in the course of a Saturday spent zipping around town with the top down. Today Tomi saw my place for the first time. She was impressed. I like it myself; it’s got a sort of warm comfortable masculine feeling.

Stopped by Don’s and saw the first partial test render of the corridor wall. Wow. This is going to be amazing.

Friday at Broderbund with Robert. Spent the morning spreading sunshine on three floors. Lunch with Ken Goldstein. It’s good to stop in now and then.

Sandrine’s coming in tonight.

March 21, 1994

Sandrine’s asleep in the other room with “Arizona Dream” playing very low on the stereo.

Had Robert over, cooked pasta. Bottle of wine Sandrine brought on the plane. First meal at home in ages. Even doing dishes felt good. I should cook at home more often.

March 24, 1994

Today Mark and Francesca took over the office. They had people coming and going, phones ringing off the hook. An amazing first day. There’s no stopping the test shoot now. Just write another $20,000 worth of checks and boom.

It’s terrifying, actually. The thing is out of my control. I’ve created a monster.

Sandrine misses Patrick, she doesn’t speak English yet, the future is uncertain, and I’m too preoccupied to be cheering her up the way I should be.

I understand why people take sleeping pills. I’d do just about anything right now to lose consciousness.

March 31, 1994

Terry gave Tomi and me notes on the screenplay. Some good ideas. Francesca gave me a backrub. I needed it.

The pace is exhausting, exhilarating.

April 6, 1994

The Shoot!

It’s 10:45 pm and I am going to SLEEP big time but before I do let me say

it was great —

Sat with Donald till 1 am last night rendering the images we used today,

up at 6:45 this morning to be at City Stage by 7:45,

the machine has done its job and now it is going to

c r a s h

April 7, 1994

Postman brought the mail this morning. Thick letter from Yale. I could read through the envelope the words “Welcome to Yale.” They’ve offered Yoana a full scholarship.

Wow!

If I get run over by a truck tomorrow, at least I’ve done one good thing in my life.

Post-shoot, the project is starting to move.

Mark, Nicki, Robert and I went to Varitel at 9 pm to sit in on the D1 transfer. Watched the footage for the first time. Looks pretty good, except for a few glitches which fortunately shouldn’t pose a big problem.

Life is sweet.

April 12, 1994

Film night. Showed Waiting for Dark, Suspended Abbey, Ivy and Ice, and (at my insistence, over Mark’s protestations) My Night in Bohemia, which everybody loved. Good fun.

Tomorrow is Mark’s last day.

I asked Eileen if she’d like to play a Serbian terrorist and get to fight on top of a train. She yelped: “Oh! I’d pay you to let me do it!” Heh heh.

April 17, 1994

Work work work

Been going out every night with Sam and Sandrine.

Those two are TIRING me. I’m not twenty years old any more.

April 19, 1994

Full day at the office

Flat, Stale, Weary and Listless, Attorneys at Law.

Dinner with Dany Boolauck. We talked about women, life, love, ambition, etc.

Siomara called from Cuba! Yoana’s going. They’ll send her in June or July to stay with relatives in Miami, learn some English, buy some clothes before she starts Yale in September.

Wow.

March POP royalties came in at only $12,000. Whump! I just spent $30,000 into capital this month. A few more lean months and I could start to be in trouble.

I’m cranking on the character logic.

April 20, 1994

Francesca’s first day. We took major strides towards getting the office organized. Bringing order out of chaos.

Nicki’s first day back. She got the character walk up and running in Director. Looks like the alignment is OK. We’re days away from that magic moment when we’ll see a real character walking against a real rendered background.

Dinner with Robert, Nicki, Terry at Campo Santo.

April 25, 1994 [Santa Clara]

Strangely comforting to wake up in the anonymity of a hotel room.

Spent all day yesterday at the CGDC in Santa Clara. Gina Smith interviewed me for NPR. Margot Comstock invited me to be on a panel about “Passion and Integrity in Game Design.” Lots of people came up to me and told me they’d played Karateka and POP. Lunch with Rob Martyn. Dinner with Rusel and Alex, who is now his girlfriend. She’s really cool. He met her at the same party I met Eileen.

April 26, 1994 [San Francisco]

Left CGDC yesterday after lunch leaving Robert, Mark and Noel to carry the Smoking Car banner to the banquet. Driving back in the rain, I rear-ended a Plymouth. Had to have my car towed away. It looked expensive.

I went to the office, found Francesca and Nicki there. Went to dinner with Francesca (Michelangelo’s), drank a bottle of wine.

When Sandrine saw me she said: “You must have been hurt in the accident, because you smell bad. I could tell when I kissed you. You should take aspirin and go straight to bed.”

Woke up at 5 a.m. (comme d’habitude). Everything means something, even a car accident. I’ve been living life as if it were a game to be won. Life is not winnable. I need to give myself room to breathe.

April 27, 1994

Long talk with Robert. He’d been stewing over a lot of things and it was good to get them out into the open.

I’m not the world’s greatest communicator. Tomi once said to me: “You’re not manipulative, but sometimes your manner makes you come across as a manipulator. People think you’re trying to pull something over on them even though you’re not.” Now I have corroboration on that, sort of, from Robert, and (indirectly) Mark and Noel. I need to learn to be more blunt and straightforward.

Next week I’ll make a point of talking to Mark, Noel, Nicki, Tomi, and (of course) Robert individually. Ask them their hopes, fears, etc., talk about what they want out of this situation and what I (we) want from them. Get those employment agreements written and signed! Wipe out ambiguities! etc.

Got a cavity filled. While I was still high on nitrous I took a walk around the block, saw a pretty girl going into Café Claude, walked out with her phone number and her friend’s. I should go to the dentist more often.

April 28, 1994

Talked with Mark and Noel. I think we’re squared away.

Signed the lease, picked up the keys to my new apartment. Sandrine was there to give me a kiss.

April 30, 1994 [on the plane]

I’m going to NY to see my dad and some other people I love and don’t see very often.

Gotta keep reminding myself that the most important reality doesn’t thrust itself on you clamoring for your attention. It’s up to you to notice it and see it and pull it out into the light and give it its due. That’s what makes you active and not passive. You can’t just idle along waiting for crises to develop.

[Chappaqua] Morris picked me up at the airport, brought me back to the house in Merrick, had a sandwich at a deli, changed and drove to Suny Purchase for the André Watts concert. Dad was shocked to see me; he had tears in his eyes. He couldn’t believe I’d come all this way just for his birthday.

This event is detailed in Chapter 7 of my graphic novel memoir, Replay. You can see the related Replay Annex notes for page 219 and page 226.

May 1, 1994

Who am I?

The challenge I face now is, somehow, to integrate all the different parts of me into a whole being. I’m split geographically between Paris, NY, Havana, SF; my heart is split between my friends, my family, my loves, my work; I rocket back and forth between these poles of attraction as if speed were the way to be in all places at once. Trying to lose myself in action, creating challenges so drastic that they force me to change, to grow, to meet them.

The course I set for myself when I left SF nearly four years ago has made my life richer and more adventurous than I dreamed of. Now, I’ve gone far enough in the direction of outward action. It’s time for the pendulum to swing back. Time to pause the frenzied quest for excitement, to seek meaning in the everyday, the familiar.

Work is a part of my life; but it’s not me.

My goal should be to be content with myself, by myself. With my family and my friends.

To become myself. Become who I am.

Clichés-“R”-Us

May 4, 1994 [San Francisco]

“A candle just brought in gradually lit up the study and its familiar details became visible... When he saw all this, he was overcome by a momentary doubt of the possibility of starting the new life of which he had been dreaming on his way. All these traces of his old life seemed to seize hold of him and say, ’No, you will not escape us and will not be different, but will remain as you have been: full of doubts; full of dissatisfaction with yourself, and of vain attempts at improvement followed by failure, and continual hopes of the happiness which has escaped you and is impossible for you.’”

Last night I walked into my apartment reading a letter I’d just opened, picked up the phone, checked my messages, scratched my ass, and didn’t even realize I wasn’t alone until Sandrine spoke from the other room: “Bonjour Jordan!” She was curled up on the couch with a book and couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed her there.

Broderbund/EA merger is off.

Prince 2 Mac signed out today.

Saw Diana up and walking against Don’s rendered corridor for the first time. Pretty damned impressive.

Ordered pizza. Spent a quiet evening at home reading Anna Karenina and listening to music. Wow... I got my wish.

May 5, 1994

It’s a clear deep blue night. Sandrine and I spent the evening packing. In six hours, we’ve turned this place from fully lived-in to a pile of sealed-up cartons. That’s gotta be the fastest packing job I ever did.

Showed Tomi the new apartment. She approves.

May 10, 1994

Last night I had dinner with Tomi in Mill Valley (Goro’s Robata) then drove back to Folsom St. to visit Donald. He was just at the point of starting to do finished renders, finally, after eight weeks of work on the sleeping car. We drank champagne.

Tomi is sure Donald was the laughing naked man she saw on the Golden Gate Bridge a few years ago. That worries me.

May 11, 1994

Tomi came over in the morning and we spent a merry hour rearranging furniture until Robert got here. It was a scheduled “retreat day” for the three of us to work on the story. I’d say we did OK, if only on the morale front.

Robert saw Clara last night and is a happy man. We sat on the roof in the blazing sun with the city spread out before us while Tomi napped below.

Yesterday, Yale told me the State Dept. will absolutely no way ever give Yoana the visa. I was so upset about that, I didn’t even write it in my journal. I broke the news via fax to Aarón in Madrid. Today, Yale called back and agreed to go ahead and issue the I-20 anyway and hope for the best.

Stayed at the office till 11 p.m. Donald brought over the first set of renders. He’s been working around the clock.

May 13, 1994

Offered Patrick a summer job. Assistant director for a CD-ROM game. (The director is afraid of being so besieged with technical stuff, he won’t be able to focus on the actors.) He’s coming next week. Great!

Donald brought by a more complete set of renders. For the first time, we can click through the train and it actually looks like a train. Wow.

The next three months until the shoot are going to be killer. Basically, they’re the most important three months of the whole project. I need to

  • finish writing the screenplay
  • systematize and pull together all aspects of the game design
  • make a deal with a publisher and/or get an infusion of cash from somewhere
  • record all the dialog
  • storyboard and mock up the NISes [non-interactive sequences]
  • pre-production: casting, costumes, etc.

And then we shoot.

Three and a half months from now, the shoot will be over and post-production begins. What happens between now and then will determine the course of the rest of the project.

No time for vacations, no time to lose focus. Got to keep my head clear, body in shape, emotions on an even keel. Focused. Organized. Efficient.

Everything I do outside the office now is only to keep me sane and in form. It’s not the main show.

This is what I chose a year and a half ago when I left France. I could have kept travelling and remained a free spirit, but I chose this. A chance that comes once in a lifetime if you’re lucky. I took it, now here it is.

Don’t begrudge a minute you spend on this project in the next three months.

May 14, 1994

Spent five hours with Donald setting corridor eyepoints.

May 15, 1994

Housewarming party was generally deemed a success.

May 17, 1994

Gary Rosenberg met me for coffee early this morning on Taylor & Sacramento and told me stories about my grandfather. Touching guy.

A new installment of Jordan's "30 years ago this week" journal will be posted here next Wednesday. Thanks for visiting!

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