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.


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!