Friday, November 30, 2007

Of Sketches One

I finally plugged in my scanner and went to work scanning my some of my sketches.

Hipster Kids.

"He drowned me."

A model.

Ginny Osbourne, inventer/adventurer.

Hotel Chevalier faces.

Natalie Portman from Hotel Chevalier.

Of Scrubs and Surprises

This was a really nice video.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Of Princesses and Paupers

I got home from Thanksgiving and Shannon and I immediately decided to see I'm Not There, the Bob Dylan "bioflick." The movie was quite good, though I admit I was confused through most of it. There is a great revelation moment at least halfway through that helped me understand the film, but on the whole it was exceptionally well done. While Across the Universe was made in the editing, the "jumping around in time" in "I'm Not There" was obviously a decision on the script level rather than post. All in all, good stuff.

Monday brought more work - a relatively easy day of getting lunch and running across town. During the day, the lady and I thought an evening date would be fun, so after work we met up on Hollywood Blvd at the El Capitan to see Enchanted. The tickets were way too expensive, but I decided to treat since the lady purchased Andrew Bird tickets that afternoon. There was no show before the feature (unlike the sing-and-dance we saw before Ratatouille) but after we found out there was an actual attraction.

Me: There's a thing after.
Shan: What is it?
Me: I think you can take pictures of all the princesses.
Shan: Skip it?
Me: Are you kidding? We are getting our goddamn money's worth.

The movie commenced and it was exceptional! The lost Golden-Age Disney film. Didn't take itself too seriously, was filled to the brim with references to past Disney films (my weak spot) and was just really entertaining. While there were one or two moments where I thought "...huh?" it was still way better than some of the Disney animated movies that came out in recent years (take THAT, On the Range!). Also, the animation? STUNNING. Even the CG stuff was stylized in a way that wasn't distracting. Disney truly has a hit on their hands.

Following the movie, I dragged lady fair to the Enchanted Tent attraction. Disney knows how to do it right. It was like going to a mini-Disneyland attraction! A man announced our entry, all the Disney princesses were dancing or standing at their own diorama. Video games (we battled it out on Guitar Hero 3), arts and crafts, actual costumes, photo references comparing Enchanted to every other Disney movie, princesses; a whole smorgasbord of kiddy fun. We walked around, gawked at how over the top it all was, then watched little kids run up to their favorite princesses (already wearing dresses) and hugging them as if they were real people. Adorable.

We left, exhausted and in good moods and caught up on Heroes. I dug the episode, but I wish there wasn't "one more episode." Rushing this season will hurt it in the long run, methinks. Spreading the season out would have been nicer.

Yesterday (Tuesday) was a busy day. I would out of the office most of the afternoon evening, so exhausted I actually passed out at a red light. Shan and I went shopping then returned home to catch up on America's Next Top Model. Heather (the model with mild autism) almost got the boot but thankfully she looked so effing gorgeous that she stuck around.

First photo and latest photo:

Incredible, right? Heather is by far my favorite this season. Nerd, geek, good looking, awkward. I'd by lying if I said I didn't have a crush. Here's hoping she takes it. I always love an underdog.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Of Scenes from a Play

The following are select scenes from the past five days. They will appear in chronological order.

SCENE ONE - In Which Our Hero Receives the Only Call of the Afternoon.

Interior. Good Humor Television Offices. Evening.

MICHAEL sits at his desk, waiting for phone calls. The PHONE rings.

Michael: Tom Werner's Office.
Michael: Hello?
Michael: Hello?
Michael: ...Tom Werner's Office.
VOICE: May I speak to Marcy Carsey.
(Marcy Carsey is not in this office. In fact, she is never in this office.)
Michael: Hold on one second.
(Puts the phone on HOLD. Michael LEANS over to the next desk where another assistant, SCOTT, sits on the phone.)
Michael: I've got a guy looking for Marcy.
Scott: Who is it?
Michael: I don't know.
(Scott shrugs. Michael takes the guy off hold)
Michael: Hello?
Michael: Sir?
Michael: I can't reach her, can I take a message?
VOICE (speaking insanely fast): Ya, this is Jim *********, I wrote a western book and I wanna produce it into a movie.
Michael (writing this down): Alright, can I get your phone number?
(He gives it. The man is still chewing loudly right into the speaker.)
Michael: Thanks, I'll deliver the message.
VOICE: Great.
(The man HANGS UP.)

End Scene.

SCENE TWO - In Which Our Hero Overhears a Bickering, Elderly Couple.

Interior. Las Vegas Airport. Day.

Michael sits waiting for his plane to leave for Pittsburgh. He sits behind an ELDERLY COUPLE.

Man: You know what I... Are you listening to me?
Woman: Yes.
Man: You know what my rule is for reading?
Woman: Yes.
Man: If I don't like what I'm reading on th-
Woman: Yes.
Man: -plane I don't-
Woman: I know, you close the book and never open it.
Man: That's RIGHT.
Woman: You've told me this twice already. You've told me every time we've flown.

End scene.

SCENE THREE - In Which Our Hero Learns About His Past and the Rules of Letting Someone Tell a Story: Know the Ending.

Interior. Trolley Ride through Pittsburgh. Day.

A trolley is FILLED with family members. The eldest sit in the front, along with Howard Smith, Michael's father.

Howard: Their Grandfather died the night before and it's against Jewish tradition to cancel the ceremony, but they refused to have it anyway. Grandma and Grandpa got married in the Rabbi's study.
Aunt Marion (my great aunt): Yeah he (she mumbles, continuing the story)
Howard: Wait, here's the microphone.
(Howard hands the microphone to her to continue)
Aunt Marion: ...and he-
Howard: No, Aunt Daisy, start from the beginning. (to the rest of us) Aunt Daisy has a great story!
Aunt Marion: Oh...okay. Our grandfather woke up the day before the wedding and got dressed in his full tuxedo. I asked "where are you going?" and he said he was going to Lester's wedding! We said "Grandpa, that's tomorrow!"
(She tells this story rather deadpan, not emphasizing anything specific. The trolley laughs)
Aunt Marion: So grandpa undressed, went upstairs and died.
(Aunt Marion hands the microphone back to a very stunned Howard. Awkward silence. Half the trolley isn't sure what they heard. Then roaring laughter explodes from anyone under 90 in the trolley. The grandparents are confused.)

End scene.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Of Morals

A new game has graced the shelves of Best Buys and Gamestops by the name of Mass Effect, a showstopping sci-fi space opera from the people who brought you the immensely popular Knights of the Old Republic (Star Wars) and Jade Empire. The most interesting part of this new game is not the story, which I've heard is good, or the visuals, which I've heard is also quite good, but rather a mechanic that deals with morals. You either choose to be a paragon or renegade (good or bad) and while it doesn't quite influence the large overarching story, it does directly affect how you get there. Massively. Large story arcs depend on how you treat those in the game around you and, while I haven't played the game but instead read a fair amount of interviews about it, it seems as though the decisions you make aren't easy; they're downright cruel.

This isn't the first game to do this. Old Republic (one and two) had similar ideas where you'd play Jedi or Sith and you'd get powers depending on which side you decide. Be merciless and power or follow the light! Bioshock had something similar where you'd choose to harvest evil little girls for power or save them and affect the ending. Even games like World of Warcraft are jumping on the bandwagon, forcing you to choose whether you'll take down diseased individuals for "the greater good."

I find the morality aspect of gaming (which is just now really getting its legs) to be a positive turn. Most games out right now are roller coasters, forcing you to ride the same trail. While the rides fun and memorable - you do it once and you're done. With games like this, it just makes you curious to know what the other choices would bring you. What happens if you save instead of harvest? Makes you want to play the game twice, no?

Parents complain so much about how violent the games have become. Stuff like Grand Theft Auto are just overkill (literally). But when was the last time you played a game like that and felt bad about what you're doing? With the recent games like the aforementioned, consequences on your character are reflected by your choices. There was a game called Fable where every time you lost a battle, you would earn a scar. Kinda like, oh I don't know, real life? What better way to hammer home that concept of choice than a video game?

Well, a book, but you know what I mean. Tim Schafer called games "wish fulfillments" and they are to a certain extent. But what I like the most about this morality stuff is that, yes, I am playing a sci-fi space RPG in a world that obviously doesn't exist, yet I'm still making choices that influence my character. That's something you really shouldn't ever forget, but I get the feeling that we do. Sometimes you need something like a game to remember how people perceive you - whether its a renegade or a paragon.

I know some of you who read this don't care for gaming and may even look down upon it, especially the violence factor. But these kind of games are no different than a Choose Your Own Adventure "novel." The one CYOA book I used to read was "Escape from Wacky Island" or some such nonsense. No matter what decisions I made, I always died a pretty gruesome death. I think I was nine or ten when I read these. There really is no difference than a creepy/violent book like that to the video games I've described above. In the end, to me at least, it's about the story and any way to make it more enticing or deep wins points in my book.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Of Sparkles and Sunshines

I am extremely disappointed in myself that I stopped watching South Park years ago. In Middle School, I watched the series first episodes with rapt attention. But as years went by my attention fell onto other exploits and South Park was lost in the fray. I started re-watching (semi-religiously) last year with Shannon as she was a rabid fan. They were good, if not great episodes. But it's THIS season that has really rekindled my love of the show. Imaginationland alone is an incredible endeavor, (perhaps) due to the overwhelming amount of references that littered those episodes. Excellent writing and excellent commentary have made it a must-watch for me just in time for this season to end. The most-recent/last episode of the season was also particularly side-tickling. Entitled "The List" we watched as the girls made a list (obviously) of the cutest guys in the class. Having found out I was number three on a list of the cutest Syracuse film majors (sultry blond Joe Moore was number one and tall/dark/handsome Colin Bannon was number two...or vice versa, it doesn't matter) this episode really cracked me up. I never knew how much power those lists had on our feeble minds. Of course, being number three, I don't really care either way.

This season is already drawing to a close. We've got three more episodes of Heroes (seven less than there should be, in my opinion, since it took nine to get the season going) and the last episode of The Office (for now) premiered last night. Soon we will all feel the cold hard grasp of the strike when we realize that we only have episodes of A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila reruns to keep us warm on dem lonely nights.

I'd like to take a moment and talk about what I'm currently watching (or, by next week, what I used to watch). Does that sparkle with everyone?

Mondays are Heroes nights, plain and simple.

Tuesday nights we usually use as "catch-up" nights, since there really isn't much on.

Wednesdays is our busy night. We've got Pushing Daisies and America's Next Top Model, followed by Project Runway, which is great as per usual. For Top Model, we're currently rooting for Heather, the mildly autistic dynamo with a heart of gold. Project Runway looks like it could be good this year, but I don't really like anyone that's on it yet. The crazy art teacher marionette designer makes me want to actually sit down and give it a chance. South Park has also graced the Wednesday night lineup.

Thursdays is our Comedy Night Done Right...night. We usually skip My Name is Early, simply because Shannon don't dig it and I don't have anything invested in it to watch. If we're laptop gaming we'll usually leave it on as white noise, but otherwise we skip it. 30 Rock I've been starting to watch more religiously, solely because I get a pretty good laugh out of it. My biggest problem with it is that most of the jokes I see a mile away, too obvious/too easy. This past episode was pretty good though and there is enough going on that I'll watch next weeks as well. The Office is a given, being the best "sit-com" that's on cable, and this season has been pretty great. Last nights was more heartwarming than usual, what with Michael Scott fighting loyalties between a bitchy girlfriend and a supportive company in order for Jan to win "a whole lotta guacamole." A great episode and sadly the last.

Friday and Saturday are dead nights, except for The Soup. If we watch television, it's usually DVDs of whatever show we're catching up on. Right now it's Angel and The West Wing, depending on our mood. I'm sure we'll move to Dead Like Me next, being such big Pushing Daisies fans.

Sundays are a mixed bag. Usually we just watch The Simpsons and (sometimes) Family Guy, but we don't really care enough to put the time in.

So yeah, that's our schedule. It seems like we watch a lot of television...which we do. But I'd rather watch any of these shows in lieu of seeing a movie these days.


Of Hypotheticals

I have a hypothetical question for you.

You're in an elevator bringing lunch up to your boss. If someone in the elevator, a stranger, attempts to guess what's in your lunch bag and guesses incorrectly, is it a social faux pas to laugh, say "nope" and then not tell him what's in there?

The guy gave me a look, awkward silence filled the metal box and the man walked out, responding gruffly when I wished him a nice day.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Of Justin and James

After typing the title, I realized how much it sounds like "From Justin to Kelly." We shall overcome.

First of all, I would like to touch on some recent casting news. Justin Chatwin, the brother who should have died but didn't in War of the Worlds, and James Marsters, Spike from Buffy and Angel, will both be acting in the Dragonball movie as "Goku" and "Piccolo" respectively. Now, my brother LOVED Dragonball Z and, in the later years of Middle school, I had watched many an episode with him. It is utterly embarrassing to reveal this, but whatever - I wasn't obsessed, I'm just familiar with it. Honestly, I think it's more embarrassing for these guys. Really? A live-action Dragonball movie? I can't see it happening, especially with those hairdos. You can't even say the plot line of the show without sniggering. And the fan boys, oh the fan boys. I went to college with a guy who wore a Dragonball silk button down shirt. I cannot wait to see the trailers: "He had to save the world using seven dragon balls to make a wish to stop the bad guys to save the world." It'll look ridiculous. I read in the casting thing that Spike will be playing a character named "Piccolo." The names familiar (see above) so I did a google search to find a picture.

I am laughing out loud. But Marsters was effing awesome in Buffy, so who knows? Either way I'm not going to see it, but I have to admit, I am mighty curious. I can give you three guesses what we'll see at Comic-con next year.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Of Layers and Slayers

After (almost) exactly three months, we finished the entire series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Wow.

The show never ceased to amaze me. Every aspect about it charged me. The demon/vampire supernatural stuff hit my love of, well, the supernatural while the character development (and I know I sound "pretentious" saying that) just kept me riveted. I mean, there was an entire season, an entire season, about Buffy realizing why she should be alive. That was the main plot. One huge arc.

There is no reason why anyone should skip over the show.

But I wonder, was it actually just the show that was so incredible, or was it because I watched every episode with Shannon; Laughing and crying and just enjoying every minute of it?

The show is a testament to good writing and good storytelling. The arcs, the villians, the stories, the jokes. It was all there.

We just picked up the season eight comic and we still have Angel to go.

The story isn't done.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Of Killers and Fillers

I use AOL instant messanger a lot. On many (if not most) occasions, I use it in lieu of the phone. And because most of my conversations have occured online, I have realized what my two least favorite words are.

"Indeed" and "Yup."

Why do I hate them so? Because they are conversation killers. I would rather have the person type "I'm not really interested, but cool" or even just "cool." Fine, be disinterested that I, too, enjoyed the latest episode of "Pushing Daisies" or that I hate the amount of news that celebrities get but don't deserve. Or that I just congratluated you on finishing your film or some nonsense.

Indeed is funny (weird, not ha-ha) because not only do I get the feeling of disinterest, which is fine, but there's this smugness that comes with it as if to say "yes, I am already aware, MORTAL."

"Yup" is a similar creature, but I hate it for a seperate reason. "Yup" is like saying...well, let me give you a for instance.

One: How's it going?
Two: Fine
One: That's great! I'm glad your life is going so well.
Two: Yup.

And the conversation is done. I'm giving you a chance to brag, but since you'd rather just end it, "yup" is the weapon of choice. Listen, if you're going to end a conversation, I'd rather you just don't respond. Or sign off suddenly. Or even say "I can't talk right now" or "I don't really give two shits." Any of those would work!


Thursday, November 8, 2007

Of Suspensions and Disbeliefs

The strike has officially affected our company. I cannot go into extraordinary details about it, mostly because I'm not 100% sure of the details, but our development deal with a rather large distribution company of brothers (wink wink ) has suspended the aforementioned deal. We're not the only ones. Our wonderful CEO has been gracious enough to keep us all on financially until the holidays and after that it's up in the air. I'm honestly afraid to ask a lot of questions because I do not want to write myself out of the company, but it certainly is a weird feeling.

While Feature Film is doing fine (the scripts have already been written so there is plenty to go on) television is all ABOUT the writers. The future of TV is considered grim (by some). I personally have a "wait and see" attitude as to how this will affect television in the long run. Some think that the flux of reality shows will put the nail in the coffin while others suspect that the boom on the Internet will do it. I have no doubt that either will directly influence the outcome, especially since this whole strike is about the Internet.

So in a month or two I'll be out of work, unless the strike is resolved by then. I saw a news story about how the strike could last ten months, at the very most. That is quite a long time.

What will I do with the time? Honestly, I'll probably join the picket lines. January is a long ways away (although it seems to be rushing fast) and a lot could happen between now and then. It is an uncomfortable feeling, once again knowing that the gig will be up and my future uncertain. But Werner, the saint, will continue to pay until the new year. And I'll continue working for him.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Of Slights and Strikes

I saw this on John August's blog and I had to post it here.

Of Heroes and Villains

I didn't get a chance to speak on my Heroes thoughts, so I figured now (with the downtime I have at work) would be as good a time as any. To say that this was a turning point in the season wouldn't really do it justice. For some reason I found myself in the minority of those who are actually enjoying this season of Heroes. I don't hate the twins, I don't hate West and Claire and I didn't mind Hiro hanging out in Feudal Japan for what seems like a lifetime. Everything came to a close and I have to give Kring props - the plot lines all intersected in a way that didn't bother me, nor in a way I saw coming.

The big reveal was that Adam, the villain we must all fear, is Kensai. This is huge. A villain so hell bent that he lived through thousands (plus?) of years just because of a lost love is so freaking fascinating that I cannot wait to see the season continue. And the fact that Maury (Parkman's "nightmare man" father) working for him just tops the cake. My lovely girlfriend called out that Hiro would become the Kensai he admires so, and she was right. But what I really dug about this realization was that he grew into it - Hiro proved himself. He didn't just take the position, he made choices and ended up becoming the great Kensai. Bob and the paintings piqued my interest as well, especially the stuff with Mohinder sealing his fate in killing Noah.

I enjoyed it and look forward to next week.

I finished the first draft of my spec, just in time for the Writer's Strike! It's funny, I read this infamous email going around by "The Shield" creator Shawn Ryan wrote as his own feelings on the strike, coming from a writer/producer/show runner point of view. Something that people seem to forgetting about this whole strike is that the writers WANT to work on these shows. They love them. It pains them to put the pencils down to simply ask what should have been given to them in the first place. Ryan goes on talking about how badly he wants to work on his shows and how much it hurts them to not look over the new footage or come up with a better line of dialogue. It's not easy to stop working on something you love so much and we should all realize that.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Of Quips and Scripts

Months have passed and dust has been collected. But no more. With a deep breath I've decided to return to this blog and regularly update with my feelings on such things I have encountered. The truth of the matter is that I have been cheating on you, blogspot, with my high school blog. I am now over it and can now give you my full attention. I know I have to build back up our trust, but I know in time things will return to the way things were.

Or rather (since I only had one post) the way things should have been. My full attention is with you now and I promise I will not be persuaded otherwise. Let's get this show on the road.

In my absence from this dusty blog, I have gotten a job with Good Humor TV, Tom Werner's television company. Werner co-exec produced such television greats as "The Cosby Show," "Roseanne," "That 70's Show," "3rd Rock from the Sun" and "Grounded for Life." He also has a film company which produced "Let's Go to Prison" and "The Brother's Solomon." Suffice to say I am learning oh so very much about the television development world and I couldn't really ask for more.

Because of this, the writing has flowed like water. And by water, I mean water from a California river - it comes, thin and dirty, but arrives regardless. The spec of mystery (except to some) is nearly completion of a first draft and I am happy with the results. Writing for television feels like I have to relearn script writing - the concept of the three acts is tiresome for some reason. While the basics are the same (dialogue, action, etc) the format differs somewhat. At least, that's what Final Draft 7 leads me to believe. Figuring out where to break the act and to keep you reading is an interesting science and I haven't figured out the right chemistry to get it to work.

Last month I was paid to rewrite a science fiction script about the last man in the universe titled "Humanity's End." I did what I was paid to: the scripts vaguely resembled each other much to the chagrin of the man who wrote my checks. Alas, it was finished and I handed it off to him. It's been over a month now and I have yet to see what's happened to it. While I know that he will rewrite the script again (which is fine with me - it's his story) I am disappointed that he hasn't contacted me further to talk more about his thoughts about it. An email shall be sent!