Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas World!

For those of you who don't want to download a screenplay, here is your gift. (Copy/paste the URL into your browser.)

www.stickleyandjones.com/funstuff/Merry_Christmas_2007.zip

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas Filmspotting Listeners

Merry Christmas fellow Filmspotting Listeners!

For those of you who need me to explain the elaborate in-joke, here it is.

In episode #166 of Filmspotting somewhere in the 50:13-1:01:50 point, Sam van Hallgren pitched a movie idea to the ether, hoping the forces in the universe would somehow make it so. This movie was entitled Haitian Divorce. (You can go here and scroll down some to see a nifty little poster for it.)

In a mad fervor brought on by lots of caffeine, sugar, and Dance Dance Revolution, a 62-page-third-act-is-missing script for Haitian Divorce somehow appeared on my computer.

And now, here it is for your enjoyment.

Haitian Divorce

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

This explains a lot about me, except I'm not what you would call... a girl


Your Score: Marcie


Wishy-Washy: 46%, Mental: 71%, Physical: 6%




Marcie is Peppermint Patty's best friend, and secretly loves Charlie Brown. She is always willing to help Patty through class and with homework, and plays on her sports teams even though she would rather be doing something else. Always address people you respect as "sir".




Link: The Peanuts Character Test written by timberlineridge on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What to do, what to do....

I am craving some milk. Specifically, I am craving 128 fl oz of Tuscan Whole Milk.

Amazon has a listing, but is it the right 128 fl oz of Tuscan Whole Milk for me?

Thank you Amazon reviewers!

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Blog Reaches a New All-Time Low

I try to make these blog posts interesting and, if nothing else, my own thoughts. Posting videos is one thing, but writing blog entries for the sole purpose of asking you to read someone else's blog entries is something I don't feel comfortable doing. And I really don't feel 100% comfortable linking to other blogs where I commented with a note saying, "Hey world! Look at my comment! I'm so brilliant!"

But... Karina's Spout.com blog post today is a really good/interesting one. And not only was I the first to comment on it (resisting the impulse to post the word "First!"), I am (as of this writing) the only person who came up with another possible storyline for an Arrested Development movie.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Top 10 Movies I Wouldn't Mind Seeing Sometime in the Next Few Months

My last two Top 10 Lists were not in any specific order. That's not the case with this one. If it is not on the list (No Country for Old Men, Enchanted) it probably means I've already seen it.

10. Charlie Wilson's War - Interested to see if Aaron Sorkin has learned his lesson and finally decided to curb the self-indulgence a little. Not really a great selling point, but that is why I want to see the film.



9. The Darjeeling Limited - I consider Wes Anderson a local filmmaker, even though his current ties to Dallas are tangential at best. His films do capture a sensibility that I do equate with Dallas, so it would be interesting to see how this film fares. I know a lot of people didn't like this film, so it will be interesting to see how big of a mess it really is.



8. Elizabeth: The Golden Age - Speaking of films that I heard were spectacular messes... Seriously, though, my first exposure to Cate Blanchett was the first Elizabeth film, which I really liked. You know, the 6 through 9 portion of this list are the "meh" kind of movies for me. Most of the movies I see just make me angry, so if the film doesn't look like it will greatly offend me, it makes the list.



7. Sweeney Todd - I saw a really bad community theater production of this a few years ago, so would like to see it done up right and proper with actors obviously dubbed with operatic voices. Oh, wait, they're singing the part themselves... oh dear.



6. There Will Be Blood - I have a real love/hate relationship with P.T. Anderson. All his movies occupy this space where they constantly teeter between sheer brilliance (Magnolia) or utter craptacular disaster (Boogie Nights). This insane little dance makes him interesting if nothing else.



5. Michael Clayton - I heard a lot of good things about it, and I've always admired George Clooney's business decisions even if I don't always care for his acting/directing choices. The man is always willing to lend his presence to works that otherwise wouldn't get made. Every movie you pay for in the theater is a vote for what you want the next three years worth of movies to be. I would rather George Clooney (and Stephen Soderberg, for that matter) get my money than Michael Bay.



4. Persepolis - I read and really liked the book and Marjanne Sarapi, a cartoonist whom I have never met or interacted with in any real way, is one of my 400 dearest MySpace friends. I sincerely hope, however, that they decide NOT to do white subtitles with a black and white movie.



3. Atonement - Once again, I've read the book so I know the ending. I like Kiera Knightley and freely admit she has done some of her best non-Bend it Like Beckam work with director Joe Wright. Most importantly - the trailer blew me away.



2. Juno - Once again, sold by the trailer and the really positive word of mouth by every film blog I read. I liked Thank You for Smoking and am interested in the follow up. Plus, there is a mini Arrested Development reunion which was awesome.



1. Protagonist - And now you know my sneaky trick. I made a Top Ten list just to get you to read about how great Protagonist is going to be. Jessica Yu is a great filmmaker and anything she touches will be at the very least magical if not transcendent. This film looks like it swims in the same water as Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control (one of my favorite movies). Jessica Yu reminds me of why I love movies in the first place.

Seriously, check out this trailer.



But more importantly, check out this interview with director-of-goodness Jessica Yu.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Top 10 Christmas Gifts that Show You Are Very Close to Someone

Every year, people give gifts because they have to. Ideally a gift is supposed to be a way to say, “This item is a symbol of our relationship. I am showing you how much I know you and care about you by giving you something I know you want and/or need.” And if we needed any proof that we do not live in an ideal world, we need to look no further than that package of tube socks beneath the Christmas tree.

With that in mind, I decided to make a Top 10 list of non-generic, possibly offensive to someone who doesn’t really want them, gifts. The whole idea is that if you give this gift to the right person, that person will be touched beyond belief. But if you use it as a generic gift, you will probably run into trouble.

1. The Story of Chickenman – The people who love Chickenman really love Chickenman. And anyone who doesn’t love Chickenman will probably not be happy with a 14 CD, 273 episode collection of his adventures.

2. TV B Gone – This is a universal remote with only one button – Off. For people who hate TV in public places or just people who want to cause mischief at the local Best Buy or Circuit City. People who love TV won’t understand the point of the device.

3. Innocence & Despair: The Langley Schools Music Project – So there was this music teacher who tried an innovative way of teaching choir where the students just had to make noise and didn’t have to worry about such petty details like tempo and pitch. And then he recorded it. So anyone who is interested in educational theory and children singing off key, this is the album for you.

4. Men, Women, and Chain Saws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film – For the intellectual feminist horror fan in your life, here is a book that doesn’t focus solely on Buffy the Vampire Slayer in a vain attempt to intellectually justify a creepy Sarah Michelle Gellar fascination.

5. Recovers by Yat-Kha – Tuvan throat singing of your favorite songs. People who love the songs might hate the sound of Tuvan throat singing and people who love Tuvan throat singing might hate these commercial sell-outs, Yat-Kha. It takes a very special person to love both Tuvan throat singing covers.

6. Marantz PMD670 Solid-State Recorder – For a very special person, a portable, solid-state recorder with XLR inputs is a joy to behold. For everyone else, it is a very expensive paperweight.

7. Hollerin’ – The winners of the 1975 hollerin contest in Spivey, North Carolina made an album of pig calls and other assorted hollers. For the hollerin’ enthusiast in your life.

8. XKCD T-Shirt – There is nothing like making an admittedly very funny programming joke and then placing it on a T-Shirt so the wearer will be forced to explain the joke to every single person who reads it.




9. Ubuntu – “Hey, I thought you would enjoy this free UNIX operating system, you know, for your laptop or old computer or something. It fits on a CD.”
“Um… I guess that’s kind of awesome.”

10. A Morse Code watch - For that special person who loves telling time in Morse code.

Bonus! A bag of hops – Home brewers cannot get enough of this. To non-homebrewers, it is… just a bag of hops.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Top 10 Great Places to Waste Your Time on the Internet – 2007 Edition

This is the time of year when people are making Top 10 Lists. Top 10 Movies, Top 10 Albums, Top 10 Books, Top 10 Magic Television Moments, Top 10 Wittiest T-Shirts, etc.

Well, I am not qualified to make any of those lists. I am not a slave to the now, and I don’t really have the time to sample every piece of culture that comes down the pike.

However, I am qualified to point you in the direction of some great websites where you can waste hours upon hours.

So, here it is, my Top 10 Great Places to Waste Time on the Internet. (Ok, it is more like Top 18 list.)

1. Homestar Runner – Web cartoons! This is a perennial favorite. The only downside is that they aren’t consistently funny, but if you had to create a cartoon a week, you would run into the same problem. They’re either brilliantly funny or just kind of strange.

2. The Onion/The Onion A.V. Club (tie) – My dream job is to work for this place, but still maintain a salary I can live on. Sadly, being bitter and funny and having a great salary are mutually exclusive.

3. Aquarium Drunkard/Gorilla vs. Bear (tie) – I troll a lot of .mp3 blogs, and these are two of my favorites. Aquarium Drunkard is a great source of music, but Gorilla vs. Bear is local and focuses on the Dallas music scene.

4. Stickfigures in Peril/I can has Cheezburger (tie) – What would the internet be without funny pictures? Stickfigures in Peril is one of my favorite Flickr groups. And, yes, I know every cool person on the planet hates hates hates websites dedicated to cute cat pictures with funny captions, but some of these are just REALLY FUNNY. Like this one:



5. Overheard in New York/Overheard in the Office/Overheard at the Beach/Overheard Evreywhere (tie) – Eavesdrop and send transcripts of the conversation to everyone on the internet!

6. Indexed/XKCD (tie) – The things printed on these websites are proof positive that the funniest and most insightful things also happen to be the simplest.

7. Audition – One of my favorite podcasts that focuses on culture and intellectual pursuits. If I were to rank these in order of most important on top, this would be #1. Instead, I ranked this list by the amounts of time I waste on the websites.

8. Go Fug Yourself – After listening to the lofty and high-minded Audition podcast, you can go to this website and read all sorts of snark-snark-snirk about fashion disasters. For fun, you can be like me and not really understand why the commentators are so offended by such and such outfit because bright yellow plumage looks just fine on her.

9. Despair/The Bacon Show (tie) – Ok, Despair is so bleakly and cynically hilarious that it can sometimes depress you. Which is where a blog dedicated to bacon recipes comes in. Because it is bacon, it is inherently good.

10. Bully Says: Comics Oughta Be Fun! I read waaaay tooo many blogs and websites about comics and webcomics, but this one is my favorite. A stuffed bull reads comics, P.G. Wodehouse, and sometimes does fun little projects.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Blog Post to Hide the Previous Blog Post

I know my mom reads this blog, so I'm creating this post just to move the post with the cussin' down a level.

Oh, look, a really fun internet video thing!

My New Respect for Profanity


Here's a little secret about me - I'm incredibly classist as far as profanity is concerned. If you use profanity around me, I will associate you with the lower classes. Cuss words got their start on the streets and in the rural communities and I think that is where they should stay - they were rude words for rude functions and rude objects. Yes, there is a rough poetry in them, but it is like making sculpture out of waste material - you do the best you do with the limited qualities of what you have and as soon as you get something better you switch to it.

Educated people, people with more opportunity and a greater propensity for a larger vocabulary have more words for more situations. They don't need to rely on the overused seven or eight four-letter street words from the gutter to get their point across. They have better words.

That is why it always struck me as hilarious when writers (especially screenwriters) would cuss up a storm (I am talking to you, Creative Screenwriting Podcast). They have an unlimited word palate, yet insist on sticking to a limited set of words that barely make up a handful. Are they serious? Are we supposed to respect them for saying fuckity fuck fuck every two sentences? Are we supposed to think this makes them more street? More gangsta? Cooler than anyone else? More working class?

Seriously, can you imagine a CEO of a start-up going to meeting of potential investors and saying, "I got my monkey ass to Harvard and got my fucking MBA from some cockmonkey professors who really had their shit together. Would you mind writing a two million dollar check to invest in my kick ass company so I can start making bitches out of my customers?" Now pretend you are a writer trying to get someone to invest in your film and you selling point is the phrase "Tom-fucking-Cruise and Stephen-fucking-Spielberg." Seriously, writers, you come across looking like idiots, and then you have the gall to wonder why no one takes you seriously.

So that's my bias. When someone cusses around me, I usually think they're not intelligent or cultured enough to find the right word to fit the situation so instead rely on a crutch word of some sort. Plus it shows me that their mommas didn't raise them right.

But then I decided to take on the challenge of National Novel Writing Month - write a 50,000 word novel in a month.

I have just finished and submitted the novel to the word count validator and it approved of my work, bestowing on me this nice little graphic to put in my blog. This was an insane and stupid thing to do. November was a very busy month and squeezing in the time to eek out 50,000 words was almost too much.

My only saving grace was profanity. Thank heavens I have characters who like to cuss! Thank heavens there are these words left when I ran out of the right words! When the appropriate words dried up, when the most exquisite phrase filled with irony and insight wasn't available, there were these fix-alls.

When I was angry or upset, or, better yet, when a character was angry and upset (surprisingly, those two moods aligned themselves with a fierce regularity) there were the old tried and true cluster of four letter words there for me to use. And here's the awesome thing: If a character repeats the same word 100 times in a row just to bulk up your daily word quota (i.e. "Booger! Booger! Booger! Booger! etc.), it is considered shameless and stupid unless, of course, that character is cussing up a storm. In that case, it is called brilliant characterization. Such is the culture we live in.

So that's the big lesson learned from my novel-writing experience:

Sometimes it is fun to cuss.

That, and my mind is now goo.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Wherein I Use the Blog to Warn Everyone about the Clarion Suites in Augusta, Georgia

Hi. I am writing this from the Clarion Suites in Augusta, Georgia.

Let me describe our stay here.

Our check-in was wonderful - wow, what great customer service. It really made us feel like we were in for something enjoyable. We were all excited and happy about our stay.

But when we got to our room... eh, not so much.

I understand that all hotels aren't created equal, and rooms like these might not be up to snuff. So when my wife complains that the closet door closes only with the aid of a swift kick, I can say, "You know, we don't live here."

I am not even bothered when she points out dirty footprints on the bathmat, dirty bed linens, a little rust, a paint job left over from the 1980s, toilets that tease you if they are actually going to flush or not when you press the handle, and even a few electrical outlets without covers on them. This I can deal with. It is not like we went out of our way to look for a $400 a night establishment.

But what I can't deal with is a housekeeping service that comes into the room, takes all the pillow cases off the pillows, and sort of starts cleaning the room, but then leaves everything unfinished. Because that is exactly what happened. I feel like they thought we were spies and just went through our stuff, looking for the secret microfiche, leaving us to deal with the mess afterwards.

There is a nice little sign in the room. "If you aren't 100% satisfied, the room is free." Next to it is a survey we have to fill out and mail to Clarion. A survey that does not have an address on it, so we can't actually mail it, though.

But that is not the big deal. The end all, be all happened tonight when this little guy came in our room to say, "Hey there! What's happening? Welcome to the Clarion Suites!!!"



Here's a close up, in case you don't realize what is exactly happening here.



Unfortunately, our little friend had an accident involving me trying out some patented ninja moves involving spinning high kicks and steel-toed sneakers.

Hey, don't look at me. I asked him if he wouldn't mind being my sparring partner, and he seemed perfectly ok with it, and that is what I will continue to say to the jury if this ever comes to trial.

Anyway, after much debate that involved the word "Ew," we decided to leave him for the housekeeping service that may or may not ever come.

Here is a photo of the thank you note we left.


Thus ends our stay in the Clarion Suites in Augusta, Georgia.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

How Did This Happen?

This is the result of my main blog, tmtomh.blogspot.com:

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And this is the result of my can-he-be-serious joke blog of nothing but stupid jokes, wtfdvds.blogspot.com:

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Status Report on the Writing Thing

So I have passed the 20,000 word mark on the 50,000 word novel I'm writing for National Novel Writing Month, or as it is affectionately called, NaNoWriMo. My novel (working title Personal Myths) is about a reality show that invades a Literature class for a semester. Right now, I have really mixed feelings about the quality of the work (or lack thereof), but I think it might shape into something interesting after four or five dozen major rewrites.

But perfection is not what NaNoWriMo is about. It is about words on the page, even if by words we mean the word "very" repeated several hundred times.

I am currently 2555 words behind schedule, but I haven't done today's writing yet. I'm supposed to average 1667 words a day, so if we assume I hit the required 1667 words today, I'll only be behind 888 words. Which is nothing. I've written blog posts longer than that. (Please don't fact check that last sentence, and just accept it as the truth.) So I think, all things considered, I'm in good shape.

I have a NaNoWriMo page where you can follow my progress, see bar charts, and read an excerpt. It is here.

In other writing news...

The Slamdance Horror Screenplay Contest pushed the due date back from October 12th to November 12th and then again to November 21st. I had one screenplay ready by that first deadline, and I was aiming to have two done by the second one. Now that I have an extra week, I think I can squeeze that third screenplay in. As you can probably guess, these are not examples of my best work. They are low budget horror films written expressly for a low budget horror film contest. I do not plan to use these to get an agent or to drum up independent financing so I can get my personal vision on a screen near you.

Years from now, when people accuse me of forsaking my art and selling out, I will calmly point out that I sold out right at the beginning when I decided to write a screenplay called Zombie Prom Queen. It has zombies in it. It has a prom in it. And then it has a zombie prom in it. That's how good it is.

This blog post was 396 words long.

This Ad Backfired

I hate to say it, but I have been secretly craving a PS3 for some time now.

Then this ad comes out and all it does is reinforce the idea that the PS3 is the console for me. Which probably says more about me than I would care to admit.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Strong Bad Comic Creator

There is this great little Strong Bad Comic Creator over at Homestarrunner.

I made one.

Here it is. Double-click it to make it big.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

In Case You Are Expecting Things On This Blog...

I have a half-way finished blog post that isn't quite ready to go, so I'm putting it off until Christmas. Which is kind of sad because it was about torture in entertainment (specifically comedies about torture) and that theme fits more with Halloween than Christmas (unless, of course you are a Grinch).

However, I am going to take a one-maybe-two month break from the ol' blog because I will have too LITTLE time on my hands, particularly where writing is concerned.

Because I know some people read this, I thought I would warn you ahead of time - it is not going to be updated for some time.

Here is my writing schedule for the next two months (and remember, the writing schedule often takes the back-burner to job, family, and household chores):

Current writing projects - I am trying to enter three different scripts in the Slamdance Horror Screenplay competition. Currently, I have one completely finished one, and two half-finished ones. The deadline is November 12th, so I need to finish those two halfway done ones. There is a good chance I will only finish one of the two by the November 12th deadline. To give you an idea of the high-concept, lowest common denominator type of work I'm churning out, I'll give you the title of one of my scripts: Zombie Prom Queen!

Future projects - I am participating in NaNoWriMo this year. The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. Sounds like a lot until you break it down to 1,667 words a day. I write emails longer than that. Anyway, this idea has been cooking for awhile and I already have an outline, so I'm excited about getting it finished. Working title of the novel: Personal Myths.

After November (and NaNoWriMo) ends, the December projects are the annual Christmas letter (which will turn up on the blog) and a super secret project for the fans of the Filmspotting podcast.

Next year, I want to start out by writing another spec script for The Office (I have a brilliant idea for a show and it won't leave me alone) and then get another screenplay ready for the BlueCat Screenwriting contest in March.

So that's the pie-in-the-sky ambitious writing schedule through Spring '08. Hopefully, I'll work some blog posts in there, too.

P.S. I will still update my other blog, WTFDVDs, on a regular basis. As you can probably tell, it doesn't take much to maintain that one.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

My Rant about Cable Television Shows

Despite the fact that I occasionally write television spec scripts, I am one of those people who inherently doesn’t like television. However, I have to admit I obsess over certain shows when they get good.

And when I heard all sorts of people talking about how Dexter was nine kinds of awesome, my curiosity was roused. So I tried watching the critically acclaimed show and couldn’t get any further than Disc 1 of Season 1.

Let me tell you, Dexter is not nine kinds of awesome. It is like half of awesome, and not the awe part. It is some.

Here is my problem – people who develop original programming for cable really love breaking their own arms patting themselves on the back for creativity. “You can do things in this show you can’t do on normal television!” they exclaim. “We advocate complete creative freedom! We believe in quality more than anything else!” and that is just not true.

They believe in objectionable content. Nudity, sex, violence, whatever you can’t show on regular television.

And here is the tricky part, the show has to convince the viewers each week that this excessive amount of objectionable content is not gratuitous, that it is indeed necessary to the plot.

The only way to work around this is, of course, to have the entire premise of the show based around sex and/or violence. The main character is a serial killer. The main character is a Mafioso. The main character is Larry David.

The problem with a premise like this is that the longer the show continues, the less plausible it becomes. The classic example of this is Murder She Wrote . After 12 years of solving a crime a week, no one ever caught on that you should not invite this woman to your birthday party, because a guest was going to mysteriously die. And, yet, week after week they did this.

So you have a premise of a show where someone dies every week. Or someone gets raped every week. Or someone gets tortured every week. And the writers have to go out of their way to conform to the formula even when the storyline or the character development makes it reasonable to deviate from the show formula. It creates monotony, fatigue, and boredom.

Because the mantra is “This is something you can only get on pay cable,” somehow this means that you can’t do anything that could appear on just any old television station. You can’t have a show like Friends, you have to twist it into a show like Friends with Benefits.

So when I see shows like Dexter, all I see is marketing and formula. I don’t see creativity. I don’t see something interesting. I just see plain old television.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Buffy Report - Season 3, Disc 2

While the entire blogosphere seems to be documenting the new fall season, I am stuck squarely back in 1998. You see, I have never watched (or really cared to watch) Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

These are words of blasphemy to many of my close friends and relations, so I am quietly trying to work my way through the show just so I can at least understand what they are talking about when they resort to a pidgin of pop culture references and show quotes.

On a high level, I really did not like Season 1, but really enjoyed portions of Season 2. Two discs and eight episodes into Season 3, I am back to feeling lukewarm towards the entire endeavor.

From a technical side, Season 3 seems to be both a step forward and a step backwards. I don’t know if they upgraded camera or cinematographers (probably both), but the show looks better than it ever has. The lighting is very moody and fun.

However, it seems like the very sharp editors from Season 2 decided to move on to bigger and better things, leaving the show runners with the lowly interns and high school students who have been sitting around, not paying and not learning anything since the last time they fiddled with the editing dials, which I assume was either never or merely Season 1.

What I am really saying is this - We all know Sarah Michelle Gellar uses a stunt double, but at least make an effort to preserve the illusion of reality. Season 2 did a good job of hiding this with editing, but in Season 3, they don’t even try. That (combined with the obviously paper mache monsters) was one of the most annoying aspects of Season 1. There is nothing less terrifying than an obvious sock puppet, except maybe an obvious sock puppet in poor lighting.

The greatest strength of the show it also the greatest weakness – it captures the feeling of high school. No, it is nothing like real high school, but it captures the exaggerated “everything is a life or death moment and all my problems are the center of the universe” feeling that is prevalent in most high school students. And while this overwrought attitude might resonate with the teenage demographic, to the cranky old guy it comes across as excessive underlining and exclamation points.

Here is my brief summary of the first two DVDs of Season 3.

Buffy loves a man who is no good for her.

SHE LOVES HIM!!!

BUT HE’S NO GOOD FOR HER!!

AND IT IS TERRIBLE BECAUSE SHE LOVES HIM AND HE’S NO GOOD FOR HER!!!!!!!


TRAGIC!!!!


So now that I’ve dished out some negativity, I will share some positives. Not surprisingly, they all focus on the character development. .The strength of the show lies in the characters and their interactions.

Two characters, one minor, one major really stand out so far.

The Principal
He is hilarious and menacing all at once, conveying a debilitating Little Man Syndrome with a mere stoop of the shoulders accompanied by a scowl.

Cordelia
Here is a stereotype fleshed out and made real. Is she smart? Is she stupid? Is she secretly nice underneath all that mean? Or is she really mean with flashes of niceness? I have no idea. Just like I have no idea what is going to come out of her mouth next. But yet, she is an amazingly consistent character. That kind of unpredictable fun is what makes her character such a deep fried pile of awesome.

So that is my report on what I’ve experienced so far. Now that I have put my thoughts in writing, I am sure the people who have seen the show and know what happens next will point out how silly my analysis is.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Appreciating Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson has a new movie out (technically a feature film and a short film), and it is now fashionable to bash him. Slate ran a poorly-researched puff piece calling him a racist… er… or rather… someone who mishandles race in his films. Both Slate’s Dana Stephens and Fresh Air’s David Edelstein managed to use the word “twee” in their reviews, which indicates to me at least that they’re all using the same Word-a-day calendar. (This coincidence isn’t as baffling as the year 1999 when all business and financial journalists suddenly decided to describe every executive as “a man who looks like he was raised on organ meat.” But I have digressed.)

I have a fondness for Wes Anderson, because he reminded me what a director does.

Let me explain – I don’t like to really comment on movies until I’ve waited a week, because more often than not my impressions change drastically as more time passes. As much as I may enjoy Michael Mann or Ron Howard films while watching them, they completely evaporate after a night’s sleep. Seriously, I know I’ve seen Last of the Mohicans and Ransom, but I do not remember a blessed thing about either of them.

I had the opposite experience with Rushmore. I saw it in the theaters, and walked out thinking, “That was pretty good, but nothing super special. Still, it was an enjoyable little movie.”

But over the next couple of days, I found myself thinking about the film more and more. I wound up going back to the theater to see it at least twice more.

My like for Rushmore grew to love which in turn grew into something bordering obsession. I bought the soundtrack. I actively sought out the movie poster. If someone built a Max Fischer action figure complete with velvet curtains and put it on eBay, I’m sure I would have bid on it.

It culminated in my purchase of the Rushmore screenplay, which I passionately tore through during a lunch break.

For those of you who loved the Rushmore screenplay, I commend you. However, the screenplay I read was crap. Bad dialogue, poorly contrived situations, and a weak conclusion.

Just to prove I wasn’t insane, I re-watched the movie with the script close by (for reference).

And it lined up perfectly. The movie was everything in the script, plus enough goodness to make it a quality experience.

Every once in awhile, I forget that for every person you see on the screen, there are about twice as many people behind the camera. I forget that not only are there writers and lighting technicians, but there are directors who hold everything together and guide all parties in the same direction.

And, whether you like his films or not, he is able to guide many different people in the same direction to create a singular vision of art.

Sometimes it is easy to forget. Directors like Wes Anderson help us remember.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Scriptapalooza Entry - The Office: Guitar Heroes

So I finished up my spec script for the Scriptapalooza TV contest and am prepping to mail it before the October 15th deadline.

Like 95% of the people entering the contest, I decided to write a spec script for the most popular show on television, The Office.

Here it is.

If you are really interested in how I've progressed as a spec script writer, here is my entry to last year's contest.

I am also available for birthdays, bar/bas mitzvahs, and proms. Tip your waitresses, please.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Realms of the Deeply Unwell

Colleen Doran posted this in her blog, and as much as I don't like reposting posts of things that have been posted, this was an incredible article about some of the wickedness the internet makes possible.

http://www.laweekly.com/news/news/the-life-and-death-of-jesse-james/17427/?page=1

And it is not just the story, it is the way the story is told. Do you need an example of the incredible prose?

Here's some:

So I hear it through Tania that Audrey has decided to move to Colorado to be with Jesse. She’s quitting her job. Packing her stuff. Leaving her home. To be with a guy . . . that she’s never actually met.

I point out to Tania that pheromones have a lot to do with mutual attraction — what if the smell’s off?

“Oh, they thought of that,” Tania tells me. They exchanged “special pieces of clothing,” she says.

To smell.

I imagine two people, one in L.A., one in Colorado, sniffing each other’s underpants to see if they can handle living together, and I say, “Jesus, that’s fucking insane.”

“You shouldn’t judge,” says Tania.

I beg to differ. This is why we have judgment.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Cadver Calculator - Most Disturbing Blog Thing I Have Discovered

The Cadaver Calculator asks you a series of questions and decides what your dead body is worth on the cadaver market. (I assume this means med schools using bodies for dissection, not some sort of strange black market based on dead body practical jokes.)

Anyway, according to this Cadaver Calculator, my dead body is worth $4425.00. So if I ever star in a zombie movie, I'll know how much to ask for.

Wouldn't it be great if this was around when the movie It's a Wonderful Life came out. Good ol' George Bailey could have used this to see if he really was worth more dead than alive.

$4425.00The Cadaver Calculator - Find out how much your body is worth.

JustSayHi - Free Personals

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Office - Lost Dialogue Unrated Director's Cut Thing

My hobby is screenwriting, which can be a fun and inexpensive hobby if you work hard at it.

Because the film and television is so competitive, another new and entirely different industry has grown up around breaking into the film and television industry. If you say, “I want to be a screenwriter,” there are dozens and dozens of people who will tell you, “You can only be a screenwriter only if you pay me money so I can show you how it is done.”

If you do this, your fun and inexpensive hobby becomes a REALLY EXPENSIVE hobby. Plus the advice you get from people you pay isn’t always the best.

I was at a writing workshop one time and the person leading the discussion said, “You see on the table before me twenty books about how to have a successful career as a screenwriter. Out of all of these books, only one of them was written by a person with a successful career as a screenwriter.” It was true. The rest of the books were written by people who made a living writing books and conducting seminars on how to be a screenwriter.

But that is beside the point. Once you say, “I’m a screenwriter,” there are a million billion screenplay contests for you to enter.

Some of them are very fun but don’t have prizes, like this punchline contest by Ken Levine. (Actually, the real prize was his advice to aspiring writers, which he posted here.)

And some of the contest have thousands and thousands of dollars worth or prizes in the form of magazine subscriptions and discounts on their screenplay reading and reviewing services.

One of the screenwriting I like the most is the Scriptapalooza TV contest because they ask people to write scripts for existing television shows.

This has lead to a few awkward social situations. I remember talking about my script for Arrested Development where Gob decides to open a women’s clothing store, but all the clothes are the same size – the size of a woman whose proportions Gob considered attractive. That way, he could use the store to score.

Apparently, I got a little passionate about pitching to this guy because he responded to the whole thing by saying, “Dude, you really get into your fan fiction.”

Ugh. Hate to sound all snotty, but what I do is not fan fiction.

Here’s why:
  1. Fan fiction is almost always bad. I like to think my stuff is not bad.
  2. Fan fiction often ventures into the world of wish fulfillment, which makes it bad.
  3. Fan fiction often ventures into the world of slash fiction (sexually explicit encounters between fictional characters) which tends to make it either bad or just creepy (I’m talking to you Harry Potter fans!).
  4. I am not writing scripts to fulfill some creepy fan fantasy. I am writing to show that:
    1. I know the formula of the television show in question.
    2. If asked, I can follow the formula and do it with a flourish.
  5. Do people really write fan fiction about The Office or Arrested Development? If so, why?
In the one book actually written by a person with a successful screenwriting career, he says that you need to watch out when making a script that focuses on a television guest star of some sort. It hurts the producer's feelings if you totally ignore their characters.

I secretly believe that guest stars in your script are secret indicators that they are fan fiction, so I don’t try to use them. All elements for a successful show (premise, cast, etc.) are part of the show’s formula. That's the theory, at least.

But all of that is beside the point. The point is that I’m in the middle of a script for The Office and I thought of a good dialog exchange that is perfectly in line with the tone/spirit of the show, but doesn’t fit in my script. So I thought I would post it on the blog. And all of the blah blah blah before this section is just over-hype and set up for four lines of naughty talk.

My parents are not allowed to read past this point, because of a naughty, yet literary, word I normally refer to as "hoo-haa."

Here is the Cut Scene from my Office Script that is not Fan Fiction:

Jan
We are not going to have this discussion, Michael

Michael
Come on. We’re not like that, Jan. We’re not the Vagina Monologues. We’re the Vagina Dialogs.
Dwight
(dawning realization) Then that would mean that you also have a-
Michael
Shut up, Dwight.

***
And if that wasn't funny enough for you, this is guaranteed to cause some laughs.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

If you got anything from my dorky MySpace account in the past 48 hours - delete it, please

It looks like my love of Kanye West and 50 Cent rap-off videos has compromised my dorky MySpace account.

Apologies to the person? People? who were affected by this. I am more than a little upset by this whole thing, but MySpace Tom with the incredibly poor posture assures me it is now all fixed.

So... to make sure you don't feel your time is complete wasted with this blog entry, here is a music video comprised of old church revival footage - once again showing that video cameras and church services shouldn't mix.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

How I Spent my Colorado Vacation

To all of the three of you who expect this blog to be updated regularly, you might have noticed that I haven’t been posting for the past two or so weeks – even the embedded-video-that-doesn’t-really-count-as-a-post posts haven’t been popping up as often as they normally do.

There are a couple of reasons for this and they all boil down to me not having too much time on my hands.

It is good for me keep busy. I don’t spend as much money and fewer things blow up. Plus, I get to go on vacation.

Yes, not only did I get to go to Portland earlier this year, I also got to go with the Mrs. to Colorado.

How can I afford to go on two vacations? I sold a mountain. See? Here is a photo of me selling it.

The secret to good salesmanship is this – NEVER TAKE OFF YOUR HEADPHONES. As long as you are listening to happy music, you feel better. And if you feel better, you will give off a more positive impression. And giving off a positive impression means effective salesmanship. I would go into more detail, but you will need to attend my $99.95 half-day seminar to find out the incredible technique of my amazing Seven Steps to Selling Mountains (and Molehills) Method.

Colorado is a very beautiful state. I am genuinely surprised that it is possible to build anything there, because there is so much raw, wild, aggressive nature. It is easy to imagine going to bed one night and the next morning discovering that your front yard has been reclaimed by nature.

You think I'm joking, but one morning we went through a park with a paved walking path.

And the next morning, the mountains and scrub brush swallowed it whole!

In the struggle of Man vs. Nature, Man's only defense is the same one I used against my brother when we were younger - Man sits on Nature and calls it funny names.

Here is a photo of Man scaling up nature...

...and here is a photo of Man sitting on Nature, using the full force of his hefty buttocks and and saying, "I'm not getting up until you say that you are secretly in love with Arlene Moffit! Because I know you are! You are! You are! You are! MOFFIT LOVER! You're a MOFFIT LOVER!" Then Man bounces a little to drive the point home.

It wasn't all nature and hiking trails for us, though. We saw the famous Boulder Falls...

...and we also saw the truly incredible Air Force Academy Chapel.

The Air Force Academy Chapel has a Wednesday night Buddhist service which struck me as odd, because aren't Buddhists supposed to be pacifists? Why would they be in the ARMED SERVICES? This is yet another reason I marvel at the U.S. Armed Services, they can do these sort of things with a straight face and no one thinks it is ironic. Well, no one but me.

We ended our whirlwind tour of the state in Denver, where we got to see the spider bite on my cousin's arm. Her dad almost got on a plane to make sure it was ok, but we took this photo to prove to him that it was indeed NO BIG DEAL, and then we promptly forgot to email it to him that evening. Soooooo.... yeeeeah... That's why we're placing the photo on the blog about a week and a half later. So now eveyone knows the spider bite is NO BIG DEAL.

While I was there, I often asked myself where Kat(e) was. I kept seeing her handiwork everywhere.

And I also saw the BEST SIGN EVER! Seriously, if you only learn one thing from my trip to Colorado, learn this - NEVER LEAVE BABY UNATTENDED!

In conclusion, I like Colorado.

Happy Trails!