Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas 2008!

Every Christmas we write a Christmas letter and include it with our Christmas cards. Because there are so many people who only read the blog, I repost it here on Christmas Day.

This year, the Mrs. wrote the letter with very little input from me, and it shows. No spelling or grammar errors. No secret subliminal curse words. No photos of children crying.

We are going to be with family pretty much non-stop from Christmas Eve through New Year's Day, so there will be very little internet/blog time. After the first of the year, though, there may be some more. And possibly pictures.

Hope you have a Happy New Year. See you in 2009! Here is the letter:

Merry Christmas 2008!

Recently we wrote this letter from underneath the city’s annual coating of ice. We now pass it along to you, Internet Friend, even though it’s now considerably warmer.

It’s 25° (F) and sleeting outside. Traffic’s a mess. What better time to curl up with a warm laptop and let you know how much we are warmed by having you in our lives?

Now’s the part where we’re supposed to give you the readout of what happened this year. In the macrocosm, of course, it was a year a lot of people will want to forget. But in our own world, things went pretty well.

Big blessing of the year: RT didn’t have to travel except for fun. For a consultant in a we-all-travel-up-to-100% company, that’s amazing.

CT took 12 months off from boards, politics, volunteering, and zoning, in order to get some sleep. RT celebrated this by immediately getting onto the board of the Dallas Screenwriters Association, where he is beloved by his peers & works hard. CT goes to DSA meetings with him to practice her schmooze & gaze admiringly at RT. He had some scenes in the monthly DSA scene readings (if you’re in town on a Tuesday, give us a call). He’s also working on a book of screenplays, with the encouragment of his DSA friends. (For the backstory on this, visit RT’s “26 Films” blog at http://blog.26films.net .)

SALON continued! (www.invisiblemarketing.net/musicsalon) Hosted 2 jazz concerts (January and August), and wayyy back in February we had a lovely piano/oboe classical concert. Pleased that our little community of music appreciation continues to appreciate. Hoping to audition some new SALON musicians in 2009. Had trouble finding a home with a piano for a Nov/Dec SALON, but got to hear the musicians perform at a local Episcopal church instead. They were amazing.

This year was a pretty musical year. We renewed our subscription with the Dallas Opera (highlight of last season was Tosca; the best so far this season was probably Die Fledermaus). Interrupted by some sinus infections, CT began working with a Belorussian pianist (from Minsk!) on the Rachmaninov Vocalise and a song by Mike Capps called “Easter Wings” on text by George Herbert (http://www.ccel.org/h/herbert/temple/Easterwings.html ). Hopefully you’ll get to hear this stuff in 2009, either live or recorded.

RT also had a musical year. Within a few weeks of 2008’s advent, we owned Guitar Hero 1, Guitar Hero 2, AND Guitar Hero 3, with all the instruments and electronical accountrements appertaining thereunto. Our living room looks like a rock rehearsal. We added Rock Band 1 (without the drums) during the summer. He is quite the shredding axeman now. Everything from Stevie Ray Vaughan to Guns N Roses to Eric Clapton to Metallica pours out of our speakers. He jumps into the air while shredding and is more fun at parties than ever.

Other musical highlights: hearing Alison Krauss and Robert Plant live on tour. (Amazing show, very interesting musicians) And the Ft Worth Opera’s festival season: Turandot.

Travels took us to:
– Albuquerque and Santa Fe, NM for our 5th anniversary + catching up with Seretha/Stan & family
– Chicago, IL for Filmspotting meetup, Seattle for RT’s annual company holiday party
– Houston for time w/the Eppersons (now displaced by Hurricane Ike)
– Atlanta/north Georgia for a family reunion.
CT also went to San Diego, Las Vegas, and San Antonio for conferences.

Oh, and CT’s old trusty steed finally died at the ripe old age of 15 (~180,000 miles). Her Prius made its debut in our garage in October. It’s getting about 51.8 mpg, city and highway. Just in time for gas to go on sale for half price.

Please drop us a line and let us know what is going on with you as well.

In these volatile times, we wish you an energetic, healthy, blessed, and providential 2009.

More of us on the internet:

CT on Twitter: https://twitter.com/jucundi

CT on Delicious (fondly remembered as del.icio.us): http://delicious.com/InvMarketing/

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Passive-Aggressive Guide to Giving Christmas Gifts

Every holiday season, millions of people review their Christmas gift list and ask themselves, "Why am I getting THIS person a gift again?"


Our lives are filled with people that we don't really want to gifts to, but feel contractually obligated to do so. Maybe it is your least favorite niece or nephew who accidentally spilled Kool Aid on your beautiful leather couch. Maybe it is the co-worker you secretly don't like, but you're getting gifts for everyone on your team so you have to get a gift for this person, too. Maybe it is someone close to your significant other and you've never quite figured out what it is your S.O. sees in this person.

It doesn't matter; what matters is that you have to buy a gift for someone you don't particularly care for. It is a tough place to be, but this guide will help you find the perfect gift that is both passive and aggressive at the same time.

The main thing to do is to not think of gifts as objects - think of gifts as a message. A message that says, "I am supposed to like you and do something nice for you, but my heart is not really in it. So I am honoring the letter of this gift-giving law but not the spirit." There is a deep vein of tacky in everything about Christmas for this sole purpose. Tacky Christmas ornaments. Tacky Christmas clothing. In fact, Paul McCartney let the world know how much he passive-aggressively hates it by penning the worst song ever and then associating it with Christmas.

The key to being passive it to avoid the "watching with glee as the person opens the present" experience. You don't want to see the flash of disappointment as someone opens an ornate package only to find it contains tube socks. Well, maybe you do, but if this person also doesn't like you, the passive-aggressive gift might lead to a fight, and the whole point of being passive is that you want to avoid a fight while remaining as annoying as possible.

By hiding from the gift opening experience, it opens the door to writing the passive-aggressive note. The passive-aggressive note is a long-honored tradition by people who pride themselves on being "helpful" in quotes when everyone knows good and well they just want to be as grating on the nerves as possible.

Classic example - For Christmas, give a person a Diet Book with a sweet little note on the cover page that reads, "I know you have been struggling for some time, and I just wanted to help. Merry Christmas!"

This example accomplishes so many things at once:
  • It takes on the veneer of being helpful.
  • It is really snarky and more than a little insulting.
  • It is personalized.
Personalized gifts are KEY to being passive-aggressive. Everyone gets tacky gifts from their passive-aggressive friends. But truly passive-aggressive people simply REGIFT the tacky present. The best way to block the regifting process on a hideous present is to personalize the hideous present.

For example, a Christmas sweater with a big goofy reindeer on it can always be re-wrapped and sent to your Uncle Murray next Christmas. HOWEVER, a Christmas sweater with a big goofy reindeer AND a monogrammed name of "Mitch" on it... Well, Mitch, you are stuck unless you have a kid with your same name and you want to punish the poor child.


Because children receive the most presents at Christmas time, they also receive the most passive-aggressive gifts. Ask any child how they feel about getting clothes for Christmas and you will hear a heartfelt tale of woe. It is possible to take passive-aggressiveness up a notch, however by giving children wonderful gifts that are sure to drive their parents insane.

For example, give the child a book of knock knock jokes. Or, better yet, give the child a set of drums. Or a collection of fun silly polka songs. The success of Barney the Dinosaur comes directly from passive-aggressive relatives giving presents to the children for the sole purpose of driving the parents beyond the border of nutsville.

In fact, a lot of industries are based on passive-aggressive gifts. The impulse buy aisle before every check out counter is a hotbed of passive-aggression. Nothing quite says, "I didn't think of you until the last minute, so here is a can of peppermint bark," than waiting until the last minute and buying a can of peppermint bark.

So there you go. Buy something crappy. Dress it up. Personalize it. Write a passive-aggressive note. And then run far, far away.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Photographic Evidence of the Most Recent Post

Thanks to the diligence of my mother, who still has some of my artwork from first grade, the picture of me and the mop was discovered.



The photo is in bad shape with lots of scratches on it. I tried to tweak it a little so you can see all of the details. In this one, I lightened it so you could see the dress.



This one I darkened so you could see the detail of the line drawing on the face.


Yes. Dork runs deep in my blood.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

How Legends are Made

I once told my Anonymous Male Cousin how the family legends grew around him. "When you were a kid, you did all sorts of cute-but-crazy stuff. You climbed up and subsequently fell off kitchen counters. You left the family Thanksgiving dinner, only to show up minutes later with your pants and underwear around your ankles, asking someone to help you snap up. You climbed out of your room window and ran away from the babysitter.

"Everyone told these stories about you. And when you grew up, people only told stories that aligned themselves with the earlier stories. No one knows you have a philosophy degree. No one knows how involved you were in student government. All we know is that you fell 50 ft. off the side of a mountain because you also fell off the kitchen counter tops when you were three. You already set up the legends that would define the rest of your life before you started kindergarten."


I say this because, in some real respects, he didn't know what he was doing when he was a kid starting family legends about him. Just like I had no idea what I was doing when I started a legend about myself.

Thanks to the power of Facebook, I am reconnecting with several people from my high school. And every once in awhile I get the same question. Sometime the person doesn't remember me very well, they can't quite place the face, but they remember the one big thing I did that no one else dared to do.

Sometimes I wish the questions were about other areas of my high school experience. "Aren't you the guy who placed second in the State Journalism Contest?" Or "Aren't you the guy who gave that speech at the National Honor Society where you said, 'No one wants to have good character because at an early age we are told good character comes from eating Brussels sprouts?'"

No. They all ask the same thing.

"Weren't you the guy who took a mop to prom?"

Yes. I took a mop to prom.


In keeping with a long personal tradition of putting faith into completely faithless women (a tradition shattered by my loving wife), I asked a young lady to prom. A young lady who promptly forgot about the commitment and made nebulous other plans for the same evening. And then this forgetful soul decided not to really communicate this forgetfulness to me until mere hours before I was to pick her up.

Left in the lurch like this, I did what any sane person would do. Put a dress on a mop and ask my brother to draw a face on a piece of paper that I could tape to the mop.

And then I went to prom, danced until my heart was content, and got my date home by 10.

One of the reasons we were home by 10 was because the two post-prom parties I had been invited to suddenly decided to un-invite me as soon as they saw my date for the evening. I mean, it is totally cool to dance next to a guy and his mop while "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" blasts in your ears, but to be seen with the same guy and his mop in a party afterwords... that crosses a line.

I know I am a strange guy. And I know it takes a lot of bravery to be friends with the strange guy, especially in high school. That night was one of the few times I have seen my strangeness outpace other people's bravery. I learned that people, even your close friends, can tolerate eccentricity up to a point and then after that, you are on your own. Like all lasting wisdom, this has helped me in the long run, but at the time... man, it hurt.

That night is a little bittersweet for me. I was handed lemons, made lemonade, and then came away from the experience feeling like I had been kicked in the teeth.

Until a few weeks after prom, when we had our senior assembly. All of the Seniors got to go to the auditorium and be entertained with a slideshow of our Senior year set to the timeless music of Garth Brooks. And there - smack dab in the middle of it all - was a picture of me dancing with a mop.


And the crowd cheered.

And the legend began.

Part of me wants to set the record straight - this was nothing more than a bold and audacious move by a lonely guy with nothing who couldn't catch a break on an important night.

But another part of me just wants to let the story stand as is - this one time, this dude took a mop to prom and it was totally awesome.

So, yeah, I did something legendary. And for the rest of my days, a certain group of people will know me only as That Guy Who Took a Mop to Prom. I don't mind. I'm just glad I didn't have to fall 50 ft. off the side of a mountain to get there.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Wedding Photos Scattered Along Garland Road

This is what I get for walking to Starbucks instead of driving like most people in Dallas.






Wednesday, December 03, 2008

When Someone Asks Me to Post, How Can I Refuse?

So Tera tagged me on her blog.



In case you don't want to read the picture, here are the rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you and post the rules on your blog.

2. Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself.

3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.

4. Let each person know that they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

At first, I did not know what to say. So much about me is completely normal, sane, and unremarkable in every way. But, you know, I was TAGGED with an internet thing, so I might as well give it the ol' college try.

1. In my notebook, I have about two pages of Facebook statuses I plan on using to entertain my Facebook friends. Examples of statuses I have used include, "M. Robert would have gotten away with it if it weren't for those meddling kids," and "M. Robert is sponsored by viewers like you."

2. When I was younger, I thought skin color/race could be transferred from person to person. It wasn't until after I started kindergarten that I realized I would not eventually get to be a cute little African-American kid. And, yes, I was sad about this.

3. I have a Texas accent that comes out when I drink or when I pronounce the word "nuclear." And yes, I do pronounce it the same way W. does. I have worked on this, but to no avail. I totally recognize this makes me sound like an idiot.

4. I memorized every line of The Muppet Movie when I was younger and my brother and I would perform huge chunks of the film for anyone's amusement with each of us acting out all the parts. I could probably still do the Doc Hopper French Fried Frog Legs jingle if you asked me to do so now.

5. I have never worked in the food service industry. I have done just about everything else, including retail sales, janitorial services, professional writing, hospital work, crude Flash animation, training videos, and house painting, but not food service.

6. The first professional author I ever met was William H. Armstrong, the man who wrote Sounder. He signed my copy of Sounder and wrote a nice little note in it for me. I was in second grade and did not appreciate the experience until I was much older.

7. Whenever I get tagged or sent something I have to perpetuate, I break the chain. And, yes, I have done this to poor Tera before.

Monday, December 01, 2008

10 Ways for a Screenwriter to Procrastinate

Now comes the time of year when I double-dip. There are a lot of things going on right now - the end of the semester, the looming holiday, etc. And, as much as I hate to say it, this blog will be neglected like that irritating guy in the office probably was when he was a child.

With that in mind, I am placing on the blog an article written for another publication.

As some of you know, I am on the board of the Dallas Screenwriters Association. One of the benefits of being on the board is that I get to write an article for every DSA newsletter about whatever the heck I want to write about. So here is the article I am submitting. When it appears in the newsletter, it will be edited and refined into something sweet and dainty. But for now, I present it in the raw, crude form.

10 Ways for a Screenwriter to Procrastinate

The end of the year is a time to reflect on what you have accomplished and look forward to what you plan to do in the upcoming year. Being a writer, I tend to procrastinate more than the average person. But being a creative writer means that I can invent wild and wonderful ways to explain why my procrastination is really a productive use of my time. So instead of making a set of ten New Years resolutions, I am making a list of ten great ways to procrastinate.

1. Creative Screenwriting podcasts
Creative Screenwriting magazine is a great way to read interviews, script analysis, and industry news. The magazine also offers a series of downloadable audio interviews with prolific screenwriters like Charlie Kaufman, Paul Haggis, and the Coen Brothers. Senior Editor Jeff Goldsmith asks insightful, interesting, and entertaining questions.
http://creativescreenwritingmagazine.blogspot.com/

2. The Treatment Podcast / The Business Podcast / Martini Shot Podcast
KCRW is the Santa Monica-area public radio station, and they feature many radio shows (also available as free podcasts) that focus on the entertainment industry. While the radio station offers quite a bit, three shows in particular stand out head and shoulders above the rest.

The Treatment is a one-on-one conversation between host Elvis Mitchell and notable writers, directors, or actors.
http://www.kcrw.com/etc/programs/tt

The Business is a weekly summary of entertainment industry news as well as in-depth interviews on certain business aspects of the industry (for example, foreign sales, video on demand, etc.).
http://www.kcrw.com/etc/programs/tb

Martini Shot is a short, sweet, funny view of what it is like to be a working television comedy writer.
http://www.kcrw.com/etc/programs/ma

3. Self-reliant film / HD for Indies
For those of you who are passionate about digital film cameras and cinematography, or for those of you who want to your cinematographer about the latest tech toys, this is the website for you. Written by a group of working editors and cinematographers, it goes into great detail about the nuts and bolts of filmmaking. The Self-reliant film website focuses on all aspects of production from creation to distribution while the HD for Indies website focuses primarily on camera technology.
http://www.selfreliantfilm.com/
http://www.hdforindies.com/

4. Screenplays Wanted
While not updated nearly enough for my tastes, this is an aggregator blog for companies or organizations that are seeking open submissions for screenplays. Think of it as an open job board on the internet.
http://screenplayshollywood.blogspot.com/

5. LinkedIn
Part of being a writer is being a professional. And part of being a professional involves networking professionally. LinkedIn is a social networking website (like MySpace or Facebook) but it focuses strictly on business networking. Update your resume, connect with business partners, look for work, and recommend people with whom you have had positive working experiences on this website.
http://www.linkedin.com/

6. Trigger Street
Kevin Spacey’s pet website project is a place for people to upload their screenplays and have them evaluated by embittered, frustrated screenwriters. Ha! Just kidding. This website allows people to join, review screenplays, and upload their own screenplays for review. The advice is free, and sometimes is not the best quality. However, if a writer ever wants to go through an experience akin to getting notes from a studio, this is the place to go.
http://www.triggerstreet.com

7. By Ken Levine / Jane in Progress
Writers write, and some of them write blogs.
By Ken Levine is the blog of veteran television and comedy writer (as well as former DSA guest speaker) Ken Levine. Mr. Levine has written for such shows as M*A*S*H and Frasier.
http://kenlevine.blogspot.com/
Read about his trip to the DSA here:
http://kenlevine.blogspot.com/2007/08/live-large-think-big.html
Jane in Progress is the personal blog of Jane Espenson, former writer and producer of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and current staff writer for Battlestar Galactica. She has great advice about the craftsmanship of writing and she also lets you know what she had for lunch that day.
http://www.janeespenson.com/

8. The Simply Scripts website
This one is recommended with caution. Many of the scripts offered by the website are not scripts at all, but instead transcripts of the film (dialogue only, no stage directions). It also hosts a series of unproduced screenplays. However, if you sift through all of that, there are some legitimate screenplays available for download. If a writer uploads earlier, rejected draft on a personal website or if a studio releases copies of the screenplay to the public in hopes that it will generate Oscar buzz, the Simply Scripts website links to it.
http://www.simplyscripts.com/

9. The Graveyard Shift
For those of you who are fascinated by police dramas and police procedurals, this website, run by a retired police officer, gives insight into the details of what it is like to work on a police force. Learn about fingerprinting techniques and how CSI labs really work.
http://www.leelofland.com/wordpress

10. Hulu
Now that you have been productive on the internet for a few hours, take some time to watch some free television and film on the internet. Remember, when you watch six episodes of 30 Rock, it is not goofing off, it is research.
http://www.hulu.com/

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Complete Work of Fiction Not Based on Reality in Any Way Whatsoever

Welcome to Consultant! The exciting text-based interactive adventure where you are a consultant at a large corporation!

You are in YOUR CUBE.

You are basking in the warm glow of the Kick Off Meeting where everyone went around and introduced themselves and their teams. You are pumped and excited and ready for work!

You have 10 turns before your TPS REPORT is due.

> Send EMAIL to BUSINESS CONTACT


You type out an email explaining who you are and what INFORMATION you need to create your TPS REPORT. You hit SEND and the email goes to the BUSINESS CONTACT.

You hear the faint sound of crickets as you wait for a response.

You have 9 turns before your TPS REPORT is due.

> Go to BUSINESS CONTACT CUBE

You are in BUSINESS CONTACT CUBE.

The BUSINESS CONTACT is a gruff, busy person. “Why are you here? I don’t have time for you!” snaps the BUSINESS CONTACT. The BUSINESS CONTACT begins a long rant about how this company is going down the toilet, how they keep hiring unnecessary consultants, and how the BUSINESS CONTACT could probably do your job better than you.

You have 8 turns before your TPS REPORT is due.

> Ask for INFORMATION

“I don’t have time to give you INFORMATION!”

You have 7 turns before your TPS REPORT is due.

> Explain your VALUE

You begin to talk about what you bring to the table, your years of knowledge and experience, and how the BUSINESS CONTACT can use you to make the workplace a better place.

The BUSINESS CONTACT cuts you off. “If you want to really help me, you will get me some COFFEE.”

You now have an URGE TO THROTTLE.

You have 6 turns before your TPS REPORT is due.

> Suppress URGE

You take a deep breath and clench your teeth in a forced smile as you imagine horrible things involving grub worms and man-eating Gila monsters happening to the BUSINESS CONTACT.

The URGE TO THROTTLE fades…

You have 5 turns before your TPS REPORT is due.

> Go to BREAK AREA

You are in BREAK AREA.

The break area is a nondescript area with COFFEE and DONUTS. There is a SMARMY DEVELOPER here, scribbling notes on a notepad.

You have 4 turns before your TPS REPORT is due.

> Greet SMARMY DEVELOPER

You offer a hand in friendship to the SMARMY DEVELOPER. The SMARMY DEVELOPER doesn’t take your hand but instead eyes you up and down for a second, barely registering your presence. The SMARMY DEVELOPER begins to scribble on the notepad again.

You have 3 turns before your TPS REPORT is due.

> Explain your VALUE

You begin to talk about what you bring to the table, your years of knowledge and experience, and how the SMARMY DEVELOPER can use you to make the workplace a better place.

The SMARMY DEVELOPER doesn’t even look up from the notepad. “I could do anything you can do, and I could probably do it better. You probably don’t even know JAVA.”

You have 2 turns before your TPS REPORT is due.

> Explain your JAVA KNOWLEDGE


You explain that to make yourself more effective in the workplace, you took it on yourself to learn JAVA. You have even made a JAVA slideshow application for your grandmother so she can look at photos of all her family mixed in with photos of flowers, sunsets, and kittens. After impressing her with your extensive knowledge of JAVA, you are now her favorite grandchild.

The SMARMY DEVELOPER doesn’t even look up from the notepad. “I could do anything you can do, and I could probably do it better. You probably don’t even know C++.”

You have 1 turns before your TPS REPORT is due.

> Flatter the SMARMY DEVELOPER

You explain to the SMARMY DEVELOPER how you are new here and someone told you that the SMARMY DEVELOPER was by far the smartest, most insightful, and hardest working person in the organization. You go on to explain that you were told the SMARMY DEVELOPER is the only person in the entire company who could possibly help you in your predicament. The SMARMY DEVELOPER is the hero of the company and everyone knows it.

While you wax poetic about the SMARMY DEVELOPER, the SMARMY DEVELOPER sets down the notepad and nods in agreement with you. The SMARMY DEVELOPER looks pleased. “How may I help you?”

Your TPS REPORT is due!

> Ask SMARMY DEVELOPER for INFORMATION

“Oh, yes. The information for the TPS report. I am very familiar with that. It resides in the most obvious place. Directory M backslash qmv backslash cp001468 backslash Ricky backslash To do 020892 backslash Halloween pictures backslash TPS backslash INFORMATION. Frankly, I am surprised you did not find it on your own; it practically advertises itself.”

You begin to thank the SMARMY DEVELOPER and get interrupted. “You might not have security PERMISSION to access that server, though. You should probably talk to SURLY PROGRAMMER before you try to get the INFORMATION.”

You have 10 turns before anyone realizes your TPS REPORT is overdue.

> Get COFFEE

You grab two coffees, one for yourself and one for the BUSINESS CONTACT.

You have 9 turns before anyone realizes your TPS REPORT is overdue.

> Go to BUSINESS CONTACT CUBE


On the way to the cube, your SUPERVISOR stops you in the hall.

“Have you delivered the TPS REPORT already?”

You have 8 turns before anyone realizes your TPS REPORT is overdue.

>Sing and dance for SUPERVISOR

In a remarkable feat of dexterity, especially considering you are holding two coffees, you begin to barrage the SUPERVISOR with industry buzzwords. “We’re on track synergizing our processes with a going forward attitude. It is practically money in the bank, holding our client’s hand and ensuring maximum profitability in a downturn market. It is win-win all the way. A-OK. ASAP. BYOB. RSVP.”

Your SUPERVISOR smiles and nods in approval, not realizing that you have avoided answering the question.

“Carry on.”

You have 7 turns before anyone realizes your TPS REPORT is overdue.

> Go to BUSINESS CONTACT CUBE

You are in BUSINESS CONTACT CUBE.

The BUSINESS CONTACT snatches the COFFEE from you and makes a joke about always wanting to have an Administrative Assistant. The BUSINESS CONTACT starts to make more jokes about having you wash cars and handle dry cleaning while you are fetching COFFEE.

You now have an URGE TO THROTTLE.

You have 6 turns before anyone realizes your TPS REPORT is overdue.

> Go to SURLY PROGRAMMER CUBE

You are in SURLY PROGRAMMER CUBE

The smell of stale potato chips permeates the air. The SURLY PROGRAMMER hunches over a keyboard, typing away, only acknowledging your presence with a small grunt.

You have an URGE TO THROTTLE.

You have 5 turns before anyone realizes your TPS REPORT is overdue.

> Ask SURLY PROGRAMMER for PERMISSION


You explain how you need INFORMATION for your TPS REPORT and the INFORMATION only resides on a server that you do not have PERMISSION to access.

The SURLY PROGRAMMER sighs heavily and keeps typing. The SURLY PROGRAMMER nods towards a towering stack of FORMS.

“You need to complete all of those FORMS and get APPROVAL from a DIRECTOR. When the FORMS are returned to me, you will get permission in six to eight weeks.”

You have an URGE TO THROTTLE.

You have 4 turns before anyone realizes your TPS REPORT is overdue.

> Threaten SURLY PROGRAMMER

You huff and puff and invoke the name of the BUSINESS OWNER and the DIRECTOR as you explain how your assignment is mission critical and if SURLY PROGRAMMER wants to put a SURLY CAREER on the line by stopping you for doing what you do best, then go right ahead. You will make sure everyone in the company knows SURLY PROGRAMMER is fully responsible for everything falling apart. After you are finished there will be a long line of people in SURLY PROGRAMMER CUBE asking for PERMISSION.

The SURLY PROGRAMMER pouts slightly, but with two deft keystrokes gives you PERMISSION.

As a show of gratitude, you promise the SURLY PROGRAMMER a DONUT.

The URGE TO THROTTLE fades…

You have 3 turns before anyone realizes your TPS REPORT is overdue.

> Go to YOUR CUBE

You are in YOUR CUBE.

Before you is your computer. You click a few keys and realize you have PERMISSION to INFORMATION.

You have 2 turns before anyone realizes your TPS REPORT is overdue.

> Create TPS REPORT

You mind relaxes in a moment of sweet bliss as you crunch numbers, create graphs, and ensure that all the document formatting is correct. You quickly Save and Print the document.

You have a TPS REPORT.

You have 1 turns before anyone realizes your TPS REPORT is overdue.

>Go to MEETING

You are in MEETING

The BUSINESS OWNERS and EXECUTIVES and SUPERVISORS and STAKEHOLDERS are in the meeting. Your BUSINESS CONTACT is about to present the findings from the TPS REPORT.

“Where is that TPS Report?”

>Hand TPS REPORT to BUSINESS CONTACT

You offer the TPS REPORT to the BUSINESS CONTACT. The BUSINESS CONTACT takes it and makes a joke about how good help is hard to find. Everyone laughs.

You now have an URGE TO THROTTLE.

> Suppress URGE


Congratulations! You have successfully survived 23 turns as a consultant! Your score ranks you as – TEAM LEAD. Try playing again for a higher level!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Statute of Limitations Has Passed

Sometimes there are stories you take to the grave. Sometimes there are stories you wait almost twenty years to tell. That way the parties involved are either dead or retired. I say this because this entry is a big tattle on my high school guidance counselor. Dude, you better be retired, that is all I'm gonna say.

I am not a fan of educational bureaucracy, and mandatory counseling sessions are one of the worst things I have to suffer through. I am one of those people who already knows what he wants and tries to work towards it. In fact, most of my clashes in college happened when I knew what I wanted, and my academic advisers instead encouraged me to goof off and find myself (another blog entry in the making).

However, I was not always this way. The big "moment of not knowing what I was going to do" that happened in my life occurred in my junior/senior year of high school. Choosing a college and a subsequent career was beyond my little pea-pie head. I liked learning, but I only had a vague idea of how to turn the talents I had into a way that could generate lots of money, fame, and power.

After taking the SAT, I started receiving all sorts of college recruitment packages. This was absolutely awesome, until I looked at how much it cost.

I did not have any money when I graduated high school (thank you, Billy Joel for making such awesome music that I spent all my money on you). I wanted to get all sorts of grants and scholarships, but didn't know exactly how to get my hands on all of that filthy lucre.

My only option was to... talk to the counselor.

"I don't know what school I should go to. And I'm broke. I don't know what to do..."

"You have a girlfriend?"

"No."

"Well, get a girlfriend. Girlfriends do wonderful things."

"Um... yeah... I was thinking of going to Brown."

"Why Brown?"

"I don't know. I read a book where one of the characters graduated from Brown. It was a good book."

"Two years ago I had a student go to Brown and take the campus tour. He came back to me and you know what he said?"

"What?"

"Ugliest. Women. Ever."

"Ok. I was also thinking of one of the Ivy League schools. Like Columbia or something in Boston."

"There are a lot of ugly girls in the Northeast, you know that?"

"I didn't."

"Well, there are. Hideous. Ones you tell your buddies 'thank heavens she has a good personality.' What you need to do is focus on one of the state schools. UT. North Texas. A&M. There are some beautiful looking women on those campuses."

"I see."

"So. That's all I've got. Go to a state school. Get yourself a beautiful girlfriend. We good?"

"I guess so."

"We good?"

"We good."

"Ok, then."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Forcing Culture on People Not Quite Ready for It

So this weekend the Mrs. and I started off our opera season tickets with a traditional staging of The Marriage of Figaro.

The Marriage of Figaro is a pretty funny opera about everyone trying to sleep with everyone else, and everyone getting jealous because they secretly suspect everyone is actually sleeping with everyone else.

There is a bunch of nonsense about Prima Nocte, aka the Lord of the Manor getting to sleep with his servant's wives on their wedding night (portrayed in a very unfunny manner in Braveheart as well as in the life of Genghis Kahn). Anyway, this is a very serious and horrible thing that happened throughout Western Civilization, but when Mozart handles it, it proves to be pretty funny.

Plus there is this almost-incest plot point that is very funny when you watch it, but really frightening when you try to describe it to people later on in your blog. So I shall not mention it.

Anyhoo, at our opera there was, I kid you not, a Girl Scout troop going on a field trip to the opera. And during the three intermissions, the Troop leaders had the uncomfortable job of explaining to the young ladies the great culture they just witnessed.

Being the horrible eavesdropper I am, I kept sneaking out to listen to conversations like this.

"Why did his mom want to marry him?"

"Oh, she didn't really want to marry him."

"But-"

"Weren't the dresses beautiful? And when she sang that song, wasn't her voice pretty?"

"But what about the mom-"

"It was all a big misunderstanding. And that is why some people laughed."

"I don't understa-"

"I think the dresses in the next act will be even prettier. Don't you think?"

"I guess."

Normally, this is where I butt in and set the record straight, but the poor troop leader was having enough problems without me providing an interpretation of the performance that did not focus on costume design.

Ah, Western Civilization, you have presented yet another great challenge to future generations. Thank heavens we weren't watching Lucia di Lammermoor which features people hanging their... ah... reddish-stained bedsheets outside their windows on their wedding nights, proving that the young lady was indeed virginal. I would hate to explain that great cultural milestone to a group of underage girls. ("Wasn't her bloody dress... pretty?")

For more about the rich cultural heritage of Prima Nocte you can read about it here.

Or listen to this:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

How Big is Will?



My brother as a baby.

Leper Colony! A fun party game for children!

"Ok, kids. One of you is a leper. Everyone look under your chairs and see if you have the red spots!"


The children all look under their chairs.

"It's me! Me me me me me!"

"Hold still and let me put the leper spots on you. Ok. Now your job is to count to ten. After that, whoever you touch will also become a leper and will get the spots."

"1... 2... 3... 7... 9... 10! TAG!"

"AAAAHHHH! NO FAIR!"

"Leprosy isn't fair. Come here and get your spots. Now we have two lepers. Count to ten and we'll see who gets tagged next."


All of the children run around and scream.

And run.

And scream some more.

One after another, the children get tagged and then get their spots. Soon all of the children are covered in spots.

"Ok. Now you are a leper colony. You are shunned by the outside world. But there is hope and redemption in the form of the special holy cupcakes. After you eat these cupcakes, you will be able to take the spots off of you."


"AAAAAHHHHH!!!! CUPCAKES!!!!!"



***

What you have just read is an example of the fun and edu-tain-tional game where children learn about the horrors of leprosy, as well as a valuable spiritual lesson in the form of cupcakes.

Leper Colony! is a simple and fun game designed for a large group of children with natural tendencies to run around and scream a lot for no good reason. With Leper Colony! you give them a reason to run around and scream - they have a horrible disease.

All you need to play Leper Colony! is a collection of red dots (which can come from construction paper) and a mild adhesive so you can stick these dots all over the visiting children (crazy glue is not appropriate - glue sticks are borderline acceptable).

The rest is up to you and the power of your imagination. If you want to encourage the children with great stories of leprosy or dramatic, yet clinical descriptions of what the disease is and what it does to people, then by all means do so. The beauty of this game comes from its flexibility.

Have fun!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Another Creative Challenge Lands at My Feet

So my friend Sherri blogged about her recent trip to a church's alternative to Halloween party. A party that featured such exciting, non-ghost-and-goblin-themed games like "Cover the Bleeding Man in a Loincloth with Band-Aids."



I grew up going to events like this, so I feel that I am coming from a safe place when I openly mock them. And, if you read the comments on her blog post, there will be a little note from me which reads, "All I'm sayin' is that there should have been at least one game about leprosy."

Because Sherri is not one who lets a snark go without a reciprocal snark, she responded with a nice little, "if you develop a leprosy game concept that I can actually execute given the restraints of my limited time and budget, I will have it at Colin's birthday party in January. And I'll post pictures."

When people ask me, "Where do you get your ideas?" I should just point them to this blog post. Because now I have an idea that I want to see happen.

Sometime before January I want to develop, Leprosy! A Game for the Whole Family and post it here on the blog. I only hope the job, the holidays, the screenwriting, the book publishing, the schoolwork, and all of the other nonsense doesn't get in my way, because this has to happen. Leper love is upon us now.

And who knows? When all is said and done, this game may involve pasting band aids on a man in a loincloth.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Time for a *hic* celebration!

Today I just passed a major milestone for work, and might have some room to breathe for awhile. There is just so much to celebrate in this world and one of the better ways to celebrate is to drink heavily.


And what a surprise because today I received my quarterly Wine Club shipment from my favorite winery, Humanitas Wines. For those of you who haven't been around me after I have a sip of wine and become a completely insufferable know-it-all, Humanitas Wines is a non-profit winery that donates a portion of each sale to a food bank based on your ZIP code.

So while I'm chugging away this delicious wine, hugging strangers, and telling them how much I love them and how freakin' beautiful they are, a portion of my money goes to a North Texas food bank.

So I feel good.

Anyway, bundled in with today's wine shipment was a nice little note from the Proprietor of Humanitas Wines, Judd Wallenbrock, telling me that he now has a blog. A blog about whatever he wants to talk about, which includes wonderful, wonderful wine.

So here it is:

www.drinkcharitably.com

In case you hate wine and think it is strictly for snooty snoot snoot snobberbums, I will also let you know that I also mail order beer. Beer not available in North Texas. Specifically, Moose Drool.

I drank Moose Drool on a vacation to Portland once and absolutely fell in love with it. Unfortunately, the distributor does not deliver to Texas. So I mail order it from a place called Liquid Solutions. You, too, can order it here.

And, wouldn't you know it, Liquid Solutions also has a blog.

I think this is a wonderful idea - booze and blogs. I now follow both of these blogs.

The only downside is that now I will be tempted to drink and comment.

So if you decide to follow these same blogs and see a comment from me to the effect of, "YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL AND I LOVE YOU!!!! LOOOOOOOVVVVEEEE!!!! Um.... uh... BLLEEEEEAAAARRRGH!" you will know I am in my happy place.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Thursday, October 16, 2008

And This is Why They Call It Work

"What's wrong? You look upset."

"You don't KNOW why I'm upset?"

"No."

"Well, THAT'S why I'm upset!"

"Sooo... now that I know why your upset, there's no need to be upset."

"NO! That makes it so much worse!"

***

Repeat this conversation about twenty times an hour and you might have a general idea of how time at the office has gone this week. Things are looking better in the future, but I might not be posting for awhile.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I Agree with about 90 Percent of This, but There are Some Good Ideas in It, Nontheless

A psychologist gives a lecture on the differences between liberals and conservatives and why they are both necessary for society to function. Anytime he uses the word "tribe" or "tribalism" I agree 100%. There are other nitpicks with other areas, but I want to share the information instead of picking through it, pointing out the stuff I don't like.

It is about 20 minutes long, so feel free to skip it if you are busy.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Really Good Sequel

The Post Where I Re-Post from Another Blog's Post

I waste a lot of time on the internet.

Every once in awhile, I find something that I think is awesome/funny/worth my time. I then show it to the Mrs. who reminds me that I have a lot on my "To Do" list and maybe I should get off the internet for awhile.

So here is the latest blog I found - KinderTrauma.

Specifically, what makes it awesome is this post.

And even more specifically this picture.



Was this a complete waste of my internet time? Discuss.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Making Money? Off of blogs?

One of the great things about having your email associated to your blog is that people you have never heard from send you emails.



Here is one I received recently:

I'm the webmaster of [website removed]
I wanted to know if by any chance you would be interested in doing an unbiased review of our site [website removed] on your blog http://tmtomh.blogspot.com/

If you agree you can choose between receiving a product sample or receiving a payment.

If you choose the product sample instead of the payment the sample is yours to keep and you don’t need to send it back.

The product sample that you can get is %product and you can see it there: %product_url

Please let me know if you are interested.

Thank you
Z. R

If you want to receive more paid review proposals, just click the following link:

[link removed]

***

Ok, seriously, have you read my blog? My last two posts were about commercializing suicidal tendencies and doing everything I can to make dogs misbehave. And the one before that featured a drunk, pill-popping baby.

Do you think the intelligent, wealthy, and smokin' hott (with no 'g' and two 't's) people who read such high-brow material are just clamoring on my unbiased thoughts and feelings about your website? Probably not.

And while I'm at it, after reviewing my blog, what made you think I use it to do reviews of other websites? And how exactly does one review a website, let alone do an unbiased review? (I found it very clickable, so I give it four stars.)

And what the heck is a %product?

Monday, October 06, 2008

He Died with Dignity

We were at a party this weekend when a friend told me his dog, Brutus, had died.

Brutus was a great dog for telling stories about, and I often find myself telling Brutus stories at parties. So, in his memory, I will share a few with you.


He was an English Bulldog. In other words, he was huge, stupid, and happy all the time. He loved to play and to play rough. One of his best pals was a Doberman down the street. They would "play" by biting each others faces. The Doberman would knock Brutus to the ground, bite into Brutus' jowls and then drag him around the yard. After this, Brutus would stand up, his face covered in bloody teethmarks, and kind of jump up and down, as if to say, "Again! Again! Do it again!"

It was a little horrifying to watch, but after a few moments, Brutus' sheer glee at being ripped apart from another dog was contagious. If we tried to break up the "play fight," Brutus would sulk and look disappointed. "Don't you know you're being hurt?" we would ask Brutus while scratching behind his ears. "Don't you know you are in pain?"


He did not know this. He was big and stupid and happy all the time.

My favorite game to play with Brutus was a little thing I called, "Where is your dignity?" I would talk real excited and go, "Where's your dignity, Brutus? Where? Where is it?" And I would look around the room in an overly animated way. Because Brutus was not very bright, he would not look where I was looking, he would just stare directly at me and wag his tail.

Then I would scratch him behind the ears, "Where's your dignity? Where is it? Where is it?" Then he would strategically shift his body so I would no longer be scratching behind his ears, but rather be scratching his butt. He loved having his butt scratched. There was one part of his body, at the base of his tail, that acted like a little dog button. If you scratched this one spot, Brutus' legs would collapse and he would flop on the ground. Then he would clumsily roll over and expose his stomach for more scratching.

When I would scratch his butt and hit the magic dog button, Brutus would flop. I would then begin rubbing his belly with an overly-dramatic, "That's right! You have no dignity! No dignity at all!"

There was one time when I attended a Christmas party at these friends house. There were holiday sausages and sugar cookies galore. Brutus came up to me and nudged me with his butt, practically begging me to ask him about his dignity. Instead I offered him a little bit of Christmas sausage in exchange for some amusing dog tricks.

"Sit," I said. Brutus just looked at me and wagged his tail so hard that it looked like he was just wagging his entire back half. "No, sit," I said and pressed gently on his back side.

My fingers must have brushed the magic dog button because he collapsed and stuck his legs up in the air, begging for is tummy to be rubbed. Figuring that this was as close as I would ever get to having him sit, I went ahead and gave him a nice piece of Christmas sausage. And another. And another.


I guess Brutus' delicate digestion wasn't prepared for the rich goodness that is Christmas sausage that probably came from a marching band fundraiser, because shortly after downing a half pound of the stuff, he began to eek out really smelly dog farts.

"Brutus, what have you gotten into?" asked his owners. Brutus looked to me, hoping I would intervene for him, but, sadly, I betrayed the poor dog's trust and pretended to be very interested in the decorative tinsel. They decided to move Brutus out of the house and into the yard. Of course, they didn't realize that I had not only fed Brutus the Christmas sausage, but more than a few sugar cookies.

Let's just say that when the sugar hit his system, he decided to run in circles. Without stopping. For three hours straight. For the rest of the evening, if I ever needed a little holiday cheer, I would look out the window, see this white blur going in circles, and I knew Brutus was happy.

And I hope, where ever he is, he is happy now.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Yet Another Reason I am not in Advertising

So this weekend, my wife bought a Prius.


I will have to admit, it is a pretty neat car. When you turn it on, the engine doesn't start - you just run on electricity until you reach a certain speed. Which means it is a very difficult car to lock yourself in a garage with, hoping to die of asphyxiation.

Morbid thoughts like this happen to me all the time. But usually the follow-up thought is pretty interesting. For example, my follow-up thought to this was, "Hey! That would make a great commercial!"

Just imagine...

A sad sack of a guy shuffles through his house, his limp hand drops a note. The camera zooms in on the note, revealing, in beautiful cursive penmanship, that his One True Love has found someone else.

The guy shuffles into his garage, closes his eyes, and starts his car.

Time passes.

Nothing happens.

Time passes some more.

Nothing happens.

Out of frustration, the man rests his head on the steering wheel. Immediately, the car radio springs to life, belting out, "It's a Sunshine Day" by the Brady Bunch.

The garage door rises, filling the air with light.

An announces coos, "Things are looking up. The new Prius."

Aaaand now you see why I didn't pursue a career in advertising.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Pure Nightmare Fuel

These dancing monstrosities haunted my dreams when I was a child. Thank you television from the 70s, but thank you even more to YouTube for allowing me to confront my childhood fears.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Cost of Friendship

Alex is my #1 friend.

I say this because Alex is listed first in my Blackberry address book. I do not know any Aarons or Abbeys, so Alex appears first in the list.

This is important to know because my Blackberry accidentally calls Alex all the time.

Here is how it happens - I wear my Blackberry on my belt thanks to this handy dandy belt clip. And every once in awhile, my belly decides to seep over my belt and rest oh so gently on some of the Blackberry buttons, which in turn tell the Blackberry to start calling people.

I do not know when this happens, but I do know that Alex gets called more than anyone else because he is the first person in my address book. If a certain button is pressed three times in a row, the Blackberry goes "{click} Open Address Book. {click} Make Call. {click} Call this person."

And since my belly does not often scroll down the list in the address book... BOOM! Alex gets a call.

Today I had the distinct pleasure of eating a very large Tex-Mex meal and then shortly afterwords calling Alex and apologizing for my phone repeatedly calling him and sharing with him the joy of the gurgling sound my stomach makes when it meets up with combo fajitas.

"I am sorry my phone does this, Alex," I said. "And I don't want to make you feel bad because I only call you when I am gaining weight. Try to think of this in a positive way. You are my belly buddy. And to celebrate our chubby-wubby friendship, I am going home and doing some sit ups for a few hours."

So this whole post is a long way of letting the world know what kind of torture I put my friends, especially long-suffering ones like Alex, through.

That and the fact that during our conversation today, Alex said, "You should blog about this."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Being a Member Has Its Rewards

I am about to leave for a trip to Atlanta and may not be near the internet for awhile.

But before I leave, I am happy to share some webisodes written and directed by my fellow Dallas Screenwriters Association Board member, Michael Shriro.

See more funny videos at Funny or Die


See more funny videos at Funny or Die


See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Sunday, September 14, 2008

My Cultural Heritage

Not a day goes by when someone doesn't stop me and ask, "Excuse me, sir, but how did you get so funky?" And then I am asked to demonstrate how to bust a move.

This usually ends with a round of applause, some gratuitous "whoop whoop"ing and maybe a few choice words that end in -izzle. Fo' reals, ya'all.

The sad truth of the matter is this - I did not do anything to learn how to be funky, how to perfect the flow of my verse, or how to drop a beat. All of these are just a product of my rich cultural heritage.

Check it out, ya'alls:



It cannot get better than that. I am weeping from the pure funkatude and funkadelic funkyness of it. THIS is my cultural heritage. In fact, I am pretty sure I am related to all of these people. We get together, all of us homies in our hood, and we immediately fall into a nice little groove.

And this is a beautiful thing. Fo' reals, ya'all.

Shout out to my home slice Alex for sending me this video.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

David Foster Wallace 1962 - 2008

Reading, and by this I mean serious reading, has become a luxury. If the book is really entertaining, you know there will be a movie or television show made out of it, so, seriously, why bother? Books take time to read and very often the time spent reading can be used entertaining yourself in some other way1. With the emails and the text messages and the (dare I say it) blog entries2, it has become increasingly difficult for someone who considers him or herself a reader3 to sit down with a nice fat juicy book with wild digressions and insightful rambles and thoroughly entertaining prose.

There is a strange connection between writers and readers, because you cannot lie on the page. Words leak out of writers in a way that they cannot fully control and the words are absorbed by the readers in a way that can be described as deeply intimate. This is why people obsess over books in a way they rarely do over other things. 4

I really love David Foster Wallace's books. He had something to say about who we are and where we are going as a culture. His books are fun and entertaining and baffling and frustrating and wonderful. He adamantly refused to ever produce anything at an eighth grade reading level.5

And reading his work helped you feel smarter. Whether it is the detailed analysis of brain chemistry in a footnote of "Infinite Jest," or his brilliant deconstruction of David Letterman's entire shtick in the short story "My Appearance,"6 his work inspired me to not only be a better writer, but to be a better reader.

And that is something I have to thank Mr. Wallace for. His work made me want to be better. In his short time in this world, he created works of art above and beyond anything I am sure I could create my entire life. I wanted to be a better reader for him and a better writer in the vain hopes that I could cobble together some words that might someday, maybe, make an impression on him.

Thoughts of loss inevitably become selfish, and my selfish thought is this - I am not going to get more books with the name David Foster Wallace printed on the covers anymore. I won't be able to read what he thinks of the 2024 election. And I will never get to meet him to tell him to his face how much I appreciate what he has done.

I appreciate you and your work, David Foster Wallace.7 May you find the peace that eluded you.


Footnotes

1There is another blog entry idea for the world. "Why do you read?" I tend to read for two main reasons - entertainment and information. Sadly, the whole idea of being entertained is more or less monopolized (in my life at least) by film and television. There are strengths and limitations in each medium, of course. For example, you never have will the distinct pleasure of complaining about Kevin Costner's horrible accent when you merely read "The Adventures of Robin Hood." And why would anyone want to experience the "Adventures of Robin Hood" without complaining about the accents is quite beyond me.

2Yeah, I said it.

3Which I do.

4That is another blog entry idea. How people who are obsessive over novels are different from people obsessive over actors, comic books, or movies? Because it is a different kind of obsession - an obsession that quite literally gets under your skin. Words can affect the mind in a way few things can outside of recreational drugs and possibly sharp rocks. I endlessly quote books. A sizable portion of my conversation comes from other people's words.

5As someone who writes technical manuals for a living, this whole "eighth grade reading level" is a big bugaboo for me. The original idea came from newspaper marketing departments - newspapers should be readable by the general population and the general population reads at an eighth grade level. I had an editor who lived by this and scratched out every one of my words that broke the three-syllable barrier with the note "eighth grade" next to it. I kept responding with the phrase, "isn't this document supposed to help the person get smarter?" but to no avail. There is nothing quite like being continually asked to dumb it down for this mythical person who just won't get it unless it is dumbed-down.

6This is one of my favorite pieces of fiction from David Foster Wallace, and the short story I use to try to get people to read him. It is one thing to hand them a book over a thousand pages written in an eight-point font8, but it is something else to hand them a short story about an pill-popping, aging actress going on the Letterman show. When I try to get people to read any of his non-fiction9, I show them the book "A Supposedly Fun Thing That I Will Never Do Again" which is a real showcase of his essays.

7The whole footnote thing is my way of crudely imitating his writing style. A lot of David Foster Wallace's work is comprised of footnotes. I even want to say in some of his books, there are one or two footnotes that are longer than the chapters they footnote.

8This infamously-dense book would be "Infinite Jest."

9Which is just as good or better than his fiction.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Love Languages

There is this book out there that is about love languages. It is like those ubiquitous Mars Venus books. It is a book purchased primarily by newlywed wives who give it to newlywed husbands for the purpose of using the book to talk about the relationship.

Of course, what newlywed wives don't realize that their husbands got married so that they would never have to talk about the relationship ever again.

I say this because early in our marriage, I was presented with such a book. With a typical "I-do-not-realize-the-powers-I'm-tampering-with" attitude, I ignored it entirely, explaining that I had a stack of other books that really needed my attention first, especially considering the fact I had no idea if Spider-Man would win or not. I mean, the Green Goblin has a flying glider. How can Spider-Man possibly compete with that?

A few months after being presented with and subsequently ignoring the love languages book, an attractive single lady friend of ours told us how the love languages book totally changed her life. Because this woman was pretty, I feigned interest in the book. Which led to a "why-don't-you-ever-feign-interest-for-me-anymore" discussion with the Mrs.

Which eventually led to us discussing the relationship for a looooooooong time. Which is what the Mrs. wanted in the first place. I could have avoided this situation entirely by just reading the book and discussing it with her waaaay back when she wanted me to.

This, of course, reminds me of the Republican Vice Presidential candidate.

When I read about her, it is like there are two voices in my head and they are speaking two completely different love languages. And because there is not any common ground between these love languages, I cannot make up my mind what I think about her.

Here's an example:

One part of the brain goes, "I am very concerned about her lack of foreign policy experience."

The other part of the brain goes, "Dude. Vikings!"


One part of the brain goes, "In the brief time she has been in the national limelight, there seems to be a lot of inconsistencies between what she says she stands for and how she actually behaves in office."

To which the other part of the brain retorts, "Duuuuuude. Vikings!"


And finally the first part of the brain goes, "Neither political party truly represents your views on the issues, why even consider breaking with your tradition of voting for third party wackos in presidential elections? Especially when your reasons for subverting your principles are trivial bordering on nonsensical?"

The response?

"Duuuuuude. Vikings!"

Monday, September 01, 2008

Coming Fall 2008

Ok, everyone. I've been working on a book entitled 26 Short Screenplays for Independent Filmmakers.

Here is what the cover looks like:



The purpose of the book is to provide a set of tools for independent filmmakers to use to stretch their abilities. Each screenplay focuses on a different area of production, whether it be a car chase scene, a meet cute scene, or even a simple conversation over breakfast.

Each of the short film screenplays is designed to be filmed quickly and on a budget. If you have the cast, and you have the crew, all you need is a script to produce. That is what the book 26 Short Screenplays for Independent Filmmakers provides. And with the screenplays available under the Creative Commons license, any profits you make off of the screenplays in the book are yours to keep.

There is a web site, a blog, and a T-Shirt shop right now (the T-shirts all read, "Of course I'm wearing black. I'm an independent filmmaker.").

The actual book will be available sometime fall 2008 (I'm hoping late September/early October).

Um... Ta-Daaaaaaa!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Because I haven't posted in awhile

Here are some videos.





Big announcement coming soon.