Saturday, December 27, 2008
I always thought those were rather artificial, of questionable educational value, and distracted you from the real task of getting your actual writing done.
The distributor is now requesting that we put together stories where the lead character is a 15-year-old boy, plus or minus a year (COP DOG's 12-year-old lead would be too young for next year's slate); with an animal ala COP DOG, but we're already using a dog in another movie and couldn't afford something like a bear and definitely not something aquatic! (did you know that chimpanzee actors are governed by roughly the same working condition rules as child actors?); it must of course be about 90 minutes long; limited locations and limited number of parts, including non-speaking parts because, at these budgets, extras are expensive too (unless your family members all have a lot of free time); should be humorous but maybe with a little heart (er, sentimentality -- but not during the first ten minutes! The first ten minutes should be fun); and there must be a family aspect, i.e. adult or other members of the family centrally involved (don't ask me, that requirement is pretty vague).
It'd also be good to include a holiday theme -- but Christmas is used in another project and we need holidays that also resonate in Europe -- so no Thanksgiving and Halloween isn't so great either.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
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J'aime and Gary have had to suffer a disastrous drop in pizza quality. I'm fond of Round Table Pizza. Though individual restaurants vary, when they're on they're one of my favorites. And 40 minutes for good pizza is an easy trade-off.
Besides -- I think it's legal to drive like 150 in Washington if you're east of the Cascades.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
|From Brooklyn and New York|
Di Fara is two stops away on the Q train. I suspect one of the ingredients is Crack, given that I can't bear going a week without it. This addiction is complicated by the fact that it's pretty much too busy to eat there Friday through Sunday, closed Monday, and can get sorta busy during the weekdays too.
I suspect it might be the best pizza place I've eaten at, since I'd have a tough time choosing between it and Casa Bianca -- but I grew up with Casa Bianca so that gives it a hometown advantage.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Essentially, what proposition 8 does is recast an old law that was ruled unconstitutional by the CA courts as a constitutional amendment -- and, in theory, make it impossible for the courts to rule it unconstitutional.
If this proposition goes through then why would ANY future propositions ever be worded as anything other than a constitutional amendment? There's no downside to doing so since the only requirement is still a majority of votes cast -- and this way the people who got the proposition on the ballot knows that they can simply bypass the judicial branch.
Only a fool would ever word a proposition as a law -- they'd all be constitutional amendments.
In effect, this method would simply eliminate the judicial branch with regard to propositions. And, if I were bringing a challenge before the court, I'd make absolutely sure to point out that okaying prop 8 would be tantamount to writing their branch of government out of existence.
Friday, November 07, 2008
Thursday, November 06, 2008
It is interesting to get a deeper picture into just what all goes on in a transition -- just how busy it is and what sorts of things they need to do.
We can start a pool about what hour gets filled with the "puppy-hunting" activity.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
UPDATE Jan 26, 2009 -- a better version of the trailer was uploaded to YouTube, you can even get a high quality video if you want. I've swapped that out below:
The following clip goes in and out of focus a bit. This is the credit sequence:
Sunday, September 28, 2008
COP DOG now has it's own webpage and trailer -- and poster.
Unfortunately, the player they're using can't be embedded and I also can't download the video to put it on YouTube -- but you can go to its webpage to view it.
I also had a few problems with the high-bandwidth version -- the pop-up window only showed part of the viewer for some reason.
At any rate -- it's a nice, peppy trailer -- and includes my favorite scene to write, the gum CSI scene...
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
The two-hour premiere of NBC's top drama "Heroes" was down 25% compared with last year's one-hour opener, taking an expected hit following a creatively middling second season and an extended nine-month hiatus prompted by the writers strike.
I found out about the Heroes premiere last night at about 10:05, which, oddly, isn't one of the factors they mention in its ratings decline -- fortunately, there's a repeat showing on the weekend that I can DVR.
This is that mystery period of the year where shows you like may or may not start running at any time. I suspect the big networks have their schedules run by people who still act like it's the 80s when there were only 3 or 4 channels and everyone knew everything that was happening on them.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour, scooped
1/2 cup oats (Quaker oats work fine)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (or more) chocolate chips
Melt the butter in the microwave then mix the sugar and brown sugar in so it dissolves. Dissolving the sugar like this makes for a more "cake-y" cookie. For thinner, crispier cookies let the butter get to room temperature by leaving it out.
Then mix in the egg and vanilla.
Then add flour, oats, baking soda and salt. You can simply scoop the flour for this (which packs it down tighter, thus giving you a little more) instead of having to do the annoying scoop then measure into a separate cup thing.
Add in the chocolate chips after you've gotten the dough nicely mixed.
Bake 10-12 minutes
I highly recommend parchment paper when cooking -- just tear off a sheet and lay it on the pan. The cookies cook more evenly, don't stick, and the pan doesn't need to be cleaned.
Since I'm pretty much the only cookie-eater in the house I'll only use about one third the first night (enough for 6-8 cookies) then split the remaining dough into two batches and put them in little plastic containers to use at a later day.
Monday, September 08, 2008
What a suprise!
Watched Cop Dog with my family and when it was over (after lots of 'happy tears' as my daughter said) the kids raved that they wanted to watch it again - right now! They've since watched it twice more. The cast is great, the dog is fantastic! Funny, touching movie for both adults and the kiddies.
Liam S. 12:08am Sun 7 Sep
I'm hoping that Liam doesn't happen to be related to anyone involved in the movie. Given our budget there's a decent chance we couldn't afford anyone international.
Anyway, you are warned -- monitor your glucose levels before watching.
Friday, September 05, 2008
PLEASE HELP ME URGENTLY
I am in hurry writing you this short message and I am sorry I didn't inform you about my traveling. I traveled to Malaysia and i got my self stranded. I am really stranded in Malaysia because I forgot my little bag in the Taxi where my money, passport, documents, cell phone which i have all my contacts and other valuable things were kept on my way to the Hotel am staying, I am facing a hard time here because i have no money on me. I am now owning a hotel bill of $1,200 and they wanted me to pay the bill soon else they will have to hand me over to the Hotel Management, I need this help from you urgently to help me back home, I need you to help me with the hotel bill and i will also need $2,000 to feed and help myself back home. So please can you help me with a sum of $3,200 USD to sort out my problems here. I am sending you this email from the city Library, I will appreciate what so ever you can afford to send me for now and I promise to pay back your money as soon as i return home. So please use the details of one of the hotel managers below to transfer the money to me through Western Union money transfer because that is the only way i could be able to get it fast and leave since he has a valid ID to pick up the money for me from the western union. This is the detail below....
Name: Adam Sanchez
Address: 24B Jalan Loke Yew, Bandar Melaka, Malaysia
Text Question: To whom
After you have send the money, email to me the western union money transfer control number or you can attach and forward to me the western union money transfer receipt so that i can pick up the money fast and leave. Right now, i dont have any acess to phone communications because the phone in my hotel room had been disconnected due to too much bills imposed on me, i only have acess to the computer at the library where am sending you this email right now.
Hope to hear from you soon. The embassy here has already promised to give me a covering traveling papers that i will need to have my way back home, all i need right now is the money to settle up the bills and leave.
Thanks and get back to me soon.
Jaru does know Gabrielle (not well enough that she'd be coming to Jaru for help though) and the message appeared to come from her email address (a Hotmail address) -- so perhaps someone broke into Gabrielle's account. You can imagine how distressed Jaru was.
Anyway, the message is a SCAM. You can find a similar message at this link, but set in Nigeria.
You can also find almost the exact same scam if you scroll down into the comments section on this page (quoting here):
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Apparently Cop Dog, alias Marlowe, will be showing on Sky Movies Premiere over the next few days -- here's a link to listings of its current showing times (as of August 29).
On Saturday it's playing at 4 (GMT I suppose), then at various afternoonish times after that.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
The problem with having your car stolen in Brooklyn is that you park a 5-10 minute walk away on one of a dozen identical blocks and constantly have to move the car around to deal with street cleaning issues so all these blocks start looking familiar since you've parked in them at least once.
And, while I had high confidence that I remembered where I did park the car originally, the fact that the car wasn't there is potent evidence that I'm mistaken. It's either that or, like some incredibly lame light comedy about bumpkins moving into New York, our car was stolen within the first two weeks of being here.
(My actual first thought was towing -- but all the various services have no record of towing the car. Apparently, they don't tow cars in NY until they can make a bundle off the unpaid parking tickets.)
After scouring a three block radius, going to the police precinct, and trying to file a report, I must conclude that I am, in fact, living in some incredibly lame light comedy.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Because Jaru has many very good friends in New Jersey, we're looking at Highland Park. There have been 15 apartments advertised for Highland Park over the last month and we've set up three appointments for next Tuesday to look at them.
Because Jaru's school is in Brooklyn we're also going to look in Brooklyn. There are 100+ apartments advertised per day in Brooklyn and the only guy who replied to my email for an appointment wants God to steal my money.
Brooklyn apartments also frequently want your tax returns, copies of W2s, three months of bank statements (shouldn't have bought all that porn on the ATM card!), and a colonoscopy.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Thanks for the email. My name is Green Gin,I own the 1 bedroom apartment address 8 Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11215. The apartment is available for you to move if you are serious about moving in and also want you to know that it was due to my transfer that makes me my wife and Son to leave the house and also want to give it out for rent ,so we are looking for a responsible person that can take very good care of it as we are not after the money for the rent but want it to be clean at the time and the person that will rent it to take it as if it were its own. So for now, We are here in west Africa, our new house.
I personally wanted to Sale the apt before but I and my wife decided to put it out for rent.If you could promise us to take very good care of the Apt,the you can send an email with the information required. One Mr. smith called me about the apartment,I told him that I cant give him the apartment because he is married with 4 kids ,I do not want his children to get my property damaged.
If you are still interested, Note that the rent is going to be $1000 Inclusive Utilities.I will like you to give me a call on this effect to know how serious you are.
below is my phone number
0112347032367105 or +2347032367105
YOU CAN CALL AT ANY TIME, if serious.
1) Your Full Name
2) Your Full Address & Phone Number
4) Marital status
5) How many people will be living in the house?
6) Do you have a pet?
7) Do you have a car?
9) Duration of lease/Rent
11) Your Picture if available
I personally will actually come visiting you at September as our new tenant.
Looking forward to hear from you with all this details so that i can have it in my file in case of issuing the receipt for you and contacting you. Await your urgent reply so that we can discuss on how to get the document and the keys of the house to you.
If you are still interested, kindly let me know so that I can delete the ad from from crigslist...
NOTE THAT THE KEYS WILL BE SENT TO YOU via FED EX to your personal address
As a man of God please I am giving you all this base on trust and again i will want you to stick to your words, I am putting everything into God's hand, so please do not let us down.
If you whore out your supposed religiosity enough perhaps you'll be able to steal a little extra money!
Cleverly, the crook merely mentions "God" without going into specifics regarding religion. Being New York, you don't want to accidentally offend marks who follow a different faith.
Sunday, June 08, 2008
Friday, June 06, 2008
I'm moving in 24 days. There is no need to cart around an additional 3 heavy hardcovers. I can't even play a game in lord knows how long.
UPDATE: Willpower lasted until 6 o'clock. Anyway, I can use the exercise when moving.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
One thing about assignments is that the outline and structure is far more fixed than when you're doing things yourself. The people buying it want to know pretty precisely what they're getting.
I'm also working with the director on this (in fact, it's his idea I'm developing) and he wants it to have theme and character arc, some real moment of drama that we can pull out of it -- the heart of the story. So we bounce around some ideas and lay in the sketch of that for the outline.
But it's not until I'm halfway through the first draft that what feels like the correct heart starts to show itself. And it's not until I'm fully through the first draft that I hit the full theme and character drama that makes me feel this can really work.
And these are things that just never emerge, even from a detailed outline (for Marlowe the outline was over 20 pages, and the script was only 95!).
Which makes me think that the heart of a story is an emergent thing. It is not so much something that you put in there the way you put set pieces and characters and reversals in there. It is something that arises in the interstices between those bigger pieces of structure -- small moments of character, small changes in dialog, and so on. And when I did hit on the heart of the story, what I mainly did to bring it out was mainly go back and make subtle alterations to scenes.
In a real sense, the plot didn't change at all -- just some flavor bits around the plot. Which is frankly a bit nerve-wracking because I think the story felt quite a bit worse before, and that means that the difference between a good story and a mediocre one could be nothing more than a pageful or two of words out of the 100 pages of script.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Monday, April 14, 2008
Forget spiders and ants -- research has found the strongest creature alive: the gonorrhea bacterium.
A human with the proportional strength of gonorrhea could lift 10,000 tons -- or the naval heavy cruiser, USS New Orleans. Whereas proportionate strength of a common house spider purportedly allows lifting up to 10 tons, one tenth of 1% of what Gonorrheaman could lift -- and pathetic ant-strength would only let a 200 lb guy lift 1,000 pounds.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Saturday, April 05, 2008
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Monday, March 31, 2008
Also, my scene in the film, a true gift to cinema, is apparently staying in, so before long I'll have a Bacon number of 3.
I'm in Marlowe with Billy Unger who was also in National Treasure: Book of Secrets with Ed Harris, who was in Apollo 13 with Kevin Bacon.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Monday, March 24, 2008
And does a good job! He also writes weekly op-eds that appear in the L.A. Times.
Another famous alumni of my year is Clark Peterson, one of the producers of the film Monster.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
But I'm also discovering a wide variety of fun Independent Games. Manifesto Games has a good selection. Play this Thing offers daily reviews to point you towards interesting stuff.
And there's an annual contest called the Independent Games Festival that has a great list of "Best of" for various years. Many of the games appear to only be sold via their own website.
I just started playing last year's winner, Aquaria -- which is a very fun arcadish, adventurish, puzzle-solving RPG -- albeit a bit chicky. Here's some video:
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
“For the first time, some Republicans are rethinking Hillary as their first choice,” said Alex Castellanos, a veteran media consultant who recently worked for Mitt Romney’s campaign.
Later in the article this is mentioned:
“I usually get three or four emails a week on Obama,” said Michigan Republican chairman Saul Anuzis Monday. “Today I received more than 10 - all of them on his minister.”
Among the e-mails Anuzis received was a link to a mash-up video splicing together Wright’s most extreme comments, Michelle Obama’s statement, footage of Obama not putting his hand over his heart during the anthem at a political event and images of Malcolm X and the two black Olympians in 1968 who raised their fists in the “black power” salute set to the iconic rap song by Public Enemy “Fight the Power.”
While Wright's comments won't make many friends, including those other images strikes me as very dangerous for a Republican party that's already struggling.
This isn't the 1960s -- and I'm not at all sure that modern Americans will react that negatively to Malcolm X or those two black Olympians raising their fists. Americans of all color are awfully sympathetic to the underdog rebel, even if we have doubts about their methods. Are they trying to indicate that blacks in the 1960s didn't even have a right to be angry? Are they trying to sell that idea now? In 2008?
I can guarantee that if I had been subjected to segregation and similar policies up through the 60s that I would have had a hard time keeping my anger in check.
And I also wonder to what extent it's even possible to make a criticism such as "he's not patriotic" stick to a presidential candidate. Did they even manage that against George McGovern? They didn't even try against Kerry and instead went after his truthfulness.
Thinking more about it, I suspect this is a feint. They can't really hope for it to work in the general election -- if they did, they'd wait until the general election to bring the full force of their arguments to bear instead of blowing their (perhaps only) wad in March. But maybe by media-blitzing this now, they could influence the primary and super-delegates into putting Clinton at the top of the ticket.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
I'm concerned that most people will only hear it second-hand, from commentators or carefully chosen clips shown on TV. It's really best to see it as it actually is.
When Obama said that he'd be giving a speech on race in America and in this campaign I thought that what he would need to do is just be honest. And I think that is what he does here.
While some of my reasons for supporting him are specific and rather narrow policy points, I have to admit that certainly his "speechifying" has a fair bit to do with it as well. But I think it's cynical to attribute the power of a speech, or any writing, to being the mere ability to organize words in such a way as to create emotional affect.
I know from my own writing that often my first stab at a key emotional scene or bit of dialog fails -- that I put together clever words in carefully constructed artifice -- and it sounds like tin. When I go back and manage to remember that the key to this isn't pretty words, but honest expressions of what the character would do or feel -- that's when the writing truly works. And maybe I can include a few pretty words anyway. What's amazing is just how HARD and infrequent it is that one does manage to write honest, instead of just write well.
I see talking heads on TV discuss and dismiss Obama's ability to put together good speeches -- and I think that this is symptomatic of their own problems. That language for them has become so detached from meaning that they no longer even comprehend the fact that hollow talk sounds hollow and that writing, or art, or speeches only truly touch you when they've said something honest.
We don't remember the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address, or I Have a Dream because Jefferson, Lincoln, and King sure did talk pretty. We remember them because they were not only honest, but expressed deep truths.
And I don't want to say here that Obama is necessarily one of those guys, or that this speech is in their realm -- but I definitely believe that it's honest and expresses some real truths.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
A local cheer to former card-sharp Douglas Parvin (Rutgers) hired by Augustana College. AOS: Epistemology, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Mind. Yay Doug!
And, apparently Princeton still needs to remind us that it's Princeton (bolding mine):
David Baker (Princeton) hired by University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. AOS: Philosophy of Physics. Also had tenure-track offers from NYU and University of Wisconsin.
Congrats to all!
Friday, March 14, 2008
So you just lay all the info out there and let bored nerds on the internet serve as your check and balance -- a special benefit of transparency combined with crowd-sourcing, something really only available due to the technological breakthrough of having the internet piped directly into nerd homes.
NERDS! They're the fifth branch of government!
And it's a good thing because I'm not so sure about the other four lately...
Although, truthfully, our modern news media is probably better than it has ever been in the past (probably our government too). The problem it has is that now news stations/papers are much better at revealing the failures of other news stations/papers and subject to the scrutiny of NERDS! -- who are often ridiculously expert in their incredibly narrow field of expertise, and thus able to show the shortcomings of the news media that, in the past, would have slipped by without question.
Hiking Trails in the Lexington VA area
In a vaguely related bit -- I've added some of my own effort to the crowd-sourcing: posting a bunch of hiking trails in the Lexington VA area to Google maps. Some of the directions to the trails in the guide books were either wrong or horribly confusing, so having them on the map makes it a lot easier.
Monday, March 10, 2008
|R/C State Cinema 3|| |
|Valley Cinema|| |
A one hour drive gets the following as well:
|Dixie Theatre|| |
|Regal Staunton Mall Cinemas|| |
|Visulite Cinema|| |
| 2007 Academy Award-Nominated Shorts: Animated |
Not Rated, 1 hr 30 min
| Kite Runner, The |
Rated PG-13, 2 hr 7 min
Showtimes: 3:30, 6:30
| No Country for Old Men |
Rated R, 2 hr 2 min
| Savages, The |
Rated R, 1 hr 53 min
Showtimes: 4:00, 7:00
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
I’m curious to hear what Juggle readers might do in a similar situation. Not that many people will have a sibling who makes up a memoir, of course, but would you publicly call out a family member involved in unscrupulous doings — even if it meant ruining his or her reputation and career? Or in your family, does loyalty trump all?
According to David Lewis's method of handling counterfactuals (scroll down to Possible World Semantics), the way to analyze this question is to look at the closest possible world where it's true that my sibling wrote a fake memoir and see whether or not I ratted them out.
My intuitive answer is that I wouldn't rat out my siblings. But, thinking about it, that's because my siblings are cool and very nice people.
The kind of sibling who would not only gin up an entire book parasiting on the suffering of others, but also continue the lies through who knows how many meetings and, one would expect, future book tours and such, probably isn't a cool and very nice person. People don't just wake up one day and suddenly break into a massive pattern of deception and manipulation -- they've been practicing it for a long time. That's why they're so good at it. And, while I might not go out of my way to rat out that person, I'd certainly tell the truth if anyone bothered to talk to me.
Which shows one of the weaknesses of Lewis's treatment. Which world is closer: the one where my very cool sister suddenly writes a false memoir, or the world where my sister has serious emotional problems, a lifelong habit of manipulation, and finally gets called out on it after pushing everything too far?
Technically, I think the Lewis account would have to say A -- thus the answer should be "No ratting." But I think my more considered judgment is the correct answer.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
We are starting a new magazine in the style of McSweeney's and are looking for freelance writers who can do up to three humorous and insightful articles a month. Figure the average length is 2500 words and none of us will be disappointed.
Of course, there is pay. We buy all rights.
Send your one best sample. It might be a slice of life thing or it could be a humor thing. No straight news clips, please.
We are looking for brilliant.
A little piece of advice, if they don't tell you the pay, there's a reason. The worst part of the offer though is the line We buy all rights. If you're getting paid microbucks or contributor's copies for your brilliant humorous magazine columns you should at least have the hope of collecting them into a book some day.
One or more people have spent the day posting similar sorts of job offers, From Craigslist.LA:
Need scribe who knows 12 languages and can write in 3D Reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: 2008-03-04, 10:25AM PST
Have immediate need of a writer whose mastery of language is so extraordinary it cannot be described in words.
You should be fluent in at least 12 languages and be able to translate Ulysses into each, particularly Mandarin, in which you will adapt Joyce's impenetrable tome into a Hong Kong action film.
We need all this quickly, in under a week. Well-known talent have expressed interest in these projects while heavily intoxicated.
Although we have tremendous piles of cash buffeting our pillow-topped mattresses, we can offer only $10 for this assignment. Your name will be seen, albeit in a dimly lit, smoke-filled room.
Oh, and your work must be written in three dimensions. We can offer an extra $5 if you can write in the fourth dimension.
-- the original post is gone by now. The world cannot endure such honesty.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Monday, February 11, 2008
I'm exposed to a mere 2 minutes of Lou Dobbs tonight and the subtitle scrolling across the bottom of the screen is "Mexico's Meddling". They're running a report on Mexico's President Calderon, who is roaming the United States shaking hands and doing whatever politicians normally do.
The Dobbs broadcast calls this OPERATION DUAL SOVEREIGNTY.
Let me specify, because any sane person would normally think that this is worry about undue U.S. influence over Mexico. No. It's Dobbs and crew worried about Calderon trying to, I guess, turn the United States into a puppet regime.
Though, I think I've discovered the train of logic.
- Barack Obama is surging in the Democratic primary.
- If Barack wins the primary it's highly likely that he'll become president.
- Barack is a senator from Illinois.
- Illinois has a GDP equal to that of Mexico. (but, you know, still lower than three other U.S. states).
- Thus, Mexico = Illinois.
- Thus, Barack is a senator from Mexico.
- Thus, a Mexican will be president of the U.S.
Saturday, February 09, 2008
ABC has a write-up of the arcane policy of super-delegates.
The upshot, in my understanding, is that in the Democratic primaries, the ordinary voting folk choose 3253 of the 4049 total delegates (a little over 80%). 796 (19%) of those delegates go whatever direction they please. Any reasonably close race and even some unreasonable scenarios would certainly end up being thrown into the hands of those super-delegates.
My feeling is that if the ultimate winner of the primary is also the winner of either the popular vote or the regular delegate vote, there won't be a problem.
But if the voters go one way and the super-delegates make the primary go the other way, it'd be a catastrophe for the Democratic party.
Monday, February 04, 2008
Needless to say, everything is a challenge to fit into that budget. Actors are actually the easier part, since you can get talented but as-yet-unknown people willing to work to add to their reel and build up their credits -- and they'll work HARD.
Locations are the monster! You can't have very many of them and they can't be expensive.
We had several important scenes set in a Quickee Mart. Since they couldn't afford a big chain store like 7-11 or, my personal favorite, Circle K, they worked with a privately owned store (which actually had Quikee as part of the title--how fortuitous). One thing about mom & pop convenience stores -- they make a lot of their money on liquor, pornography, and lottery tickets. The Lotto was fine and the mom & pop had kids, so not much porn out in plain view, but there was a lot of liquor, and this being a kid's movie all that had to be hidden.
Big movies can make money off product placement. Small movies could too -- if they had the time and connections available to clear all the legal hurdles. We of course didn't -- so we had a bunch of the crew inside the store turning all the candy bars and bags of chips upside down or backwards so that their trademarks wouldn't appear on camera. A distressing number of candy bars have their trademarks printed on the back too! At the last minute they got a product placement deal from the Little Debbie people, so we were able to hide a bunch of stuff behind Devil Squares and so on. Debbie has our undying gratitude.
Another issue was that all the refrigeration units had to be turned off whenever they were recording for sound. The microphones are very sensitive and would pick up the hum. Being a convenience store, many of the refrigerators were filled with ice cream -- so you'd unplug them and have to plug them back in right away when they finished shooting. And you'd have to turn off almost all the power since the entire store is wrapped in refrigeration units!
Since that experience I've been a lot more conscious of using locations that don't involve batteries of brand names staring at the camera (for example, I'm now a big fan of the rural road produce stand -- but not on a paved road, because you need special permission to block those off).
ADDENDUM -- also, our Quickee mart apparently was the number one seller of lottery tickets in California!
Friday, February 01, 2008
Saturday, January 19, 2008
I know your history with Mister Bauer runs deep, but don't let that impact your judgment here. 24, Season 6, Episode 2
-- apparently advancing some new critique of inductive reasoning.
Monday, January 14, 2008
Unless you have our faucet -- which, as you can see in the below photos, goes from unbearably hot on the left (perhaps -1 degree off vertical) to the kind of tepid that feels like it leaves your dishes teeming with bacteria on the right (+.5 degrees off vertical?). I put in the scrub brush to help center the frame of reference.
Somewhere in between those two settings is the comfortably hot point. So, one learns the technique of getting the handle close to right, then tapping it until it gets to a temperature that's acceptable.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Thursday, January 03, 2008
I finally started watching The Office (Americanized), which is conveniently also available in high quality streamed video at the NetFlix website.
After watching several episodes I noticed it's structural similarity to M*A*S*H, and I'm not the first. Matthew Gilbert at Boston.com said the following:
I'm working on this theory that "The Office" is "M*A*S*H" all over again. Kinda, sorta, maybe.I'm not convinced that the similarity goes much beyond the character roles (and then mainly early M*A*S*H), but I do think that similarity is definitely there. In fact, I think the mix works even better in The Office. Having Pam/Jim as love interests gives the writers more to work with than having them merely as tent-mates and creates less of a situation where the Trapper John role is just a sidekick.
First of all, Dwight and Angela are updates of Frank Burns and Hot Lips. They are the goody-goody couple who have a not-so-secret but oh-so-freaky passionate life (oh, they'll get back together, just you wait). In that other theory I've been working on -- that "The Office" is a metaphor for American politics -- Dwight and Angela fill the hypocritical conservative category that Frank and Hot Lips practically invented on series TV.
Jim is Hawkeye Pierce, of course, but for a less Groucho-oriented generation. Jim's asides are generally non-verbal, but that slight rising of the eyebrows evokes Marx's cigar and the full-on eyebrows as much as Alan Alda did. Jim's partner in crime is Pam, which makes her his Trapper John McIntyre or his B.J. Hunnicut, and, well, I'm going to go for Trapper John. Jim and Pam's pranks on Dwight are genius.
And then there is Michael Scott, who is unique. Still, he has some of the farcical leadership qualities of Henry Blake, as well as the same need to be friendly with his charges. Michael is easily manipulated by Jim and Pam, just as Henry was totally played by Hawkeye and Trapper. And now that Michael is bucking Ryan, he recalls Henry's resistance to military protocol.
I think it also illustrates how useful it is for a writer to identify and recognize narrative structures that work well. In this case the structure is almost entirely the characters and their relations, but it's clearly a structure that provides fertile ground for comedy. I'm not sure The Office's writers even thought about M*A*S*H when they were doing their thing, which makes the structural similarity even more striking. Convergent evolution only occurs when you have something incredibly useful, like the eye in both octopuses and mammals.
Other structures must work well too, and it makes me think that if I were to try to brew up a comedy TV series I'd look at older programs, maybe the Bob Newhart shows or even back further to Mary Tyler Moore or the Dick Van Dyke show, and see if there's a structure in them that can be given a modern interpretation.
I think this is one of the reasons all those screenwriting books and seminars, all with their own favorite "this will get you sold" formula are so successful. They are selling a strong structure -- one that's been proven in multiple films or stories. However, there are a bunch of structures that work well for different kinds of stories, so each author or speaker can push their own personal one and make a tidy living off it.