Friday, February 29, 2008

[[NetFlix Bitching Interlude]]

So, I've been powering through RESCUE ME. I'm up to Season 3, which is on Blu-ray, which I was really looking forward to.

Though they are perfectly lined up in chronological order, what does NetFlix do?

They send me discs 2 and 3 first. Though disc 1 is clearly at the top and available "Now".

I go to the trouble of calling the NetFlix customer service. I get 3 discs out at a time, I don't want them to send me disc 4 so that I actually have to RETURN ONE OF THE DISCS UNWATCHED just so I can get that first disc.

The customer service guy is creepily nice, though he does seem to think that I must have accidentally ordered them incorrectly in my own queue. He lets me have a "bonus disc" in addition to my 3-at-a-time, so I can view the series in proper order...

So... I've got all four blu-ray discs coming to me... but here's how they're coming:

Discs 2 and 3: Today.
Disc 4: Tomorrow.
Disc 1: (Shipping Monday, likely to arrive TUESDAY)

Today. Tomorrow. Sunday. Monday. Four viewing days completely wasted.

And the saddest thing is, I just don't feel like fighting it...

A Hundred Stranger Rapes

Omar Little got his well-deserved revenge in the last episode of THE WIRE, in one of the most satisfying bloodbaths I have ever seen put to film. For all those who have yet to watch THE WIRE, this will mean little to you now, so I'd hardly call this a "spoiler". But trust me, you're going to go ape-shit when you see how Omar sweeps a battle royale through the underbelly of Bodymore in the penultimate episode. And walks away without a fucking scratch... I confess, I cheered.

Of course, with a serial killer dominating the headlines in this final season, the show deals (briefly?) with the subject of "criminal profilers".

What IS criminal profiling? What's the history of it? Here's an edited excerpt from a fascinating New Yorker article:
... the Liverpool group selected a hundred stranger rapes in the United Kingdom, classifying them according to twenty-eight variables, such as:
  • whether a disguise was worn
  • whether compliments were given
  • whether there was binding/gagging/blindfolding
  • whether there was apologizing
  • whether there was theft of personal property...
They then looked at whether the patterns in the crimes corresponded to attributes of the criminals—like:
  • age
  • type of employment
  • ethnicity
  • level of education
  • marital status
  • number of prior convictions
  • type of prior convictions
  • drug use
Were rapists who bind, gag, and blindfold more like one another than they were like rapists who, say, compliment and apologize...?

The answer is no—not even slightly.
FBI criminal profiling. Quantico bullshit. Read the full New Yorker article here.

In other clickable news...

Can a bank make people happy? (Crank up the volume.)

"The Moment of Truth" finally scores the nadir it was aiming for.

Happy fucking LEAP YEAR, fuckos. You better not tell, you hear me? You better not tell or I'll fucking GET you...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Smoke Em If You've Got Em!

I don't tend to blog about this shit because of certain sneaky lurkers who shouldn't be perusing this blog... but I've gotta admit, though it's been a good while, there are some days* when I really do miss smoking.

I mean, what's the point of not smoking? The off-chance of living a little longer? Staving off the percentages? Keeping my friends' wives from nagging me about it?

I could get hit by a car. I could get devoured by lions. I could get devoured by some other form of cancer. If I were to die in a plane crash in two months, do you know what my biggest regret would be? Ever having quit smoking.

"So go ahead and smoke, if you're going to be such a BABY about it!" brayed the Gay Horse. "It's okay to admit that you're full of FAIL."

Thanks for the vote of no confidence, Gay Horse.

For those of you who DO smoke: light up...

We've got our first official Misanthropy Central baby announcement:

Nick "Nick-o" Gaffney
Emma "The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" Wunsch
are going to be goddamn, motherfucking parents!!!

In keeping with Misanthropy Central tradition, the godfather will be Gay Horse and the godmother will be Tranny Duck.

Malice will be playing the part of the troubled, absentee uncle. The odd times he will visit during the child's lifetime, Nick and Emma will learn to hide the vanilla extract.

They will learn this the hard way.

Thank "god" it's Thursday. I know I cheated and took half the week off, but it feels good anyway. Taking Monday off, too, so I've got a long weekend ahead of me. I'm going to be finishing a major revision of my television spec pilot. Because tomorrow's not ours to see...

Neither is Garfield:

(*Every day of the week.)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Labor Pains

Just as the big Writers Guild conflict officially draws to a close, with 93.6% of the the WGA membership voting to ratify the new contract, the actors are starting to make some noise about their contract, which expires in June.

George Clooney, Robert De Niro, Mot Shank and Meryl Streep put this minimalist ad in the trades, urging SAG leaders to begin their negotiations early to stem a possible actor-walkout in the summer.

That's just part of it. Now there's an internal debate on whether or not to limit the voting pool within SAG. An excerpt, for the click-shy:
But another group of SAG members -- including A-listers and rank-and-file actors -- are asking the guild to make a key change before sitting down with the AMPTP. A letter to SAG leadership currently being circulated by actor Ned Vaughn asks the union to restrict voting on major contracts to only actors who regularly work under those contracts -- a practice commonly known as "qualified voting." As of press time, nearly 1,000 members -- including Ben Affleck, Kevin Bacon, Sally Field, and Gwyneth Paltrow -- have attached their names to the letter.

Vaughn states in the letter, "The challenging reality is that two-thirds of SAG's 120,000 members consistently earn less than $1,000 per year as SAG actors, and only one in five SAG members earns even $7,500 annually. But anyone holding a SAG card can vote on our major contracts... . If those who approve or reject contracts don't have a concrete stake in the outcome, they are vulnerable to manipulation…. What's more, the possibility of a job action is taken much more seriously if it comes from those who are actually doing the work."

Vaughn told Back Stage he does not intend to prevent actors who make under $7,500 per year from voting. "This is not a grievance of the working members against those who happen not to be working," he said. "There are top stars on our supporters' list, but there are also plenty of people who are struggling actors who have noted in their messages to us that they themselves might be excluded from voting on certain contracts -- but that they understand that this is critical to strengthening SAG so that it can obtain the best contracts for all of its members."
There are already actors voicing their dissent on this idea. I personally think it's a pretty outrageous idea, since almost all actors have to start out in that starving category. SAG's numbers are immense and they're essentially going to divide themselves. For what? The phantom concern that actors who AREN'T working on a regular basis are just going to say, "Fuck it, let's have us'selves a strike!"

Poppycock, I say.

For the SAG-card-holding actors who work only intermittently, a strike means the death of hope. No one wants a strike.

Even the threat of a strike hurts because it puts productions on limbo.

But the one thing the WGA had going into our strike was a public sense of unity. Whereas SAG is starting theirs with a sense of division. And that is no damn good.

In other news:

Brad Renfro Has a Posse and the Academy doesn't give two shits!

Extreme Virtual Celebrity Makeovers

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Imagine There Was No Tomorrow

Here's where it starts. Here's where it begins to end.

Got a call at work yesterday. A call I've been waiting for for almost two weeks. And I couldn't pick up because I was bogged down with a nightmare of a job that was dumped on me at the end of the day. This is how it often works at the office. I get quick little jobs throughout the bulk of the day and they just pile it on me toward the end of my shift.

Anyway, I can't be so reliant on this job. I've got to do some real work to get out.

Taking today and tomorrow off, to catch up on some work. And I've requested a bunch of days off over the next few weeks, to give me more time.

This is what I need to do. I can't wait for tomorrow to come to me. I've got to fight for the future that I want.

Monday, February 25, 2008

I'll sing it one last time for you...

Omitting Roy Scheider, I get. At the beginning of the Oscar Memoriam, it states that these deaths are only gonna represent the people who died up through the end of January. And, as you know, the hits have kept coming past January because 2008's a prolific year for Death...

So... honoring the arbitrary end-of-January marker, we get a shout-out to Pleshette... a big end-of-montage shout-out to Ledger... erm...

... but where the fuck was Brad Renfro?

One last indignity, then? They couldn't scotch-tape together 5 measly seconds from his filmography to insert into the montage?

A fucking travesty, friendo.

Not the biggest one of the night, perhaps, but pretty fucken big, ya feel meh?

Well done, Academy. I hope you're all well ruddy pleased with yourselves.

[Best win of the evening.]

By the by, Misanthropy Central Tip of the Week: if you've been dying to see New Jersey, then today would be a good day to fucking go.

Rick Shapiro, NSFW.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Galaxy of Emptiness

You want the portrait of an empty life? You come to me.

My television is the one thing that makes my tiny studio apartment—and perhaps my fucking life—livable. My little porthole filled with stories. It is devastatingly sad that this electronic box props up my life. No argument there.

Which makes it all the more painfully sad when the box betrays me. Again and again.

I write this entry for the sake of anyone GOOGLING this problem, so forgive me, Constant Lurkers, for getting a little technical up in this piece...

Time Warner Cable, New York City.

Cable box: Scientific Atlanta 8300HDc (Hi-Def DVR)

Long-time readers will recall that I had to swap out my cable box TWICE back in December:

The first was when my longtime SA 8300HD box (which I'd had for a good TWO YEARS) died without warning.

The replacement box they gave me was an SA 8300HDc. A newer model with new software—which I'll get back to...

It lasted a few weeks before it started fucking up a few days before Christmas. Failing to record programs that I'd set for it to record.

I carted that box down to the Time Warner Cable center on 23rd Street, where they gave me another SA 8300HDc box...

Which was okay for a little while. Till it too started fucking up. Specifically, it had trouble recording two channels simultaneously, which these DVR boxes are built to do. Again, this box was using the new software...

Again, I swapped it out on 23rd Street.

Again, they gave me another SA 8300HDc box.

This one seemed better than the previous two. Not missing programs. Fine with recording 2 channels simultaneously. It was still the new software which was still a lot clunkier than the older software, but I was wearily getting used to it.

Until, last night when it completely crashed.

Wiping out all my saved recordings. (Partially-watched "Children of Men", a few "In Treatment" episodes, a handful of odd things...)

So, here's a little information about Time Warner and their Scientific Atlanta boxes and the switch-up in software. I'm pulling this information from some forums and I'm not the techiest kid on the block, but I'll try to relate it the way I understand it...

The software on the older SA boxes was/is called "Passport". It's reliable. It's what most of my friends have installed on their cable boxes.

The software on the newer SA boxes is called "Mystro". When you boot up your box for the first time (and all the times you'll need to reboot your box), you'll see Mystro on the opening boot screen, along with a fucking Java logo. Mystro is unconscionably buggy. It's much, much slower to navigate through the menus, or change channels, or do ANYTHING.

So... why switch to inferior software?

I read somewhere that Time Warner and/or Scientific Atlanta was trying to save some money by NOT re-upping to the next gen of the "Passport" software, so they went for this crappier "Mystro" build. I swear, it's worse than going from "XP" to "Vista". (That's bad.)

Word on the street is that a revision of the Mystro software is supposed to be coming down the pipeline sometime soon, but there's been no public acknowledgment of the problem on Time Warner's end. (Big surprise.)

For the sake of anyone who's stumbled upon this entry via GOOGLE, here's what the LCD screen showed when I tried to reboot my SA 8300HDc box early this morning:




then it began flashing:

(or something that looked like this)

after a while, it flashed:


after which it continued the long, laborious process of reloading up. And then it refused to record any programs, without any further error messages.

Anyway, I ran the box down to 23rd Street this morning, explained the situation. That this was the third SA 8300HDc box I was returning.

After some consideration, the wonderful young lady who was helping me decided to give me an older SA 8300HD box. When I asked her about it, she said that a lot of people have been having trouble with the the "new boxes".

Back at home. Plug it in. And we are back to the classic "Passport" software.

Hallelujah. Hallelujah, motherfuckers.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Everything's Gonna Be All Right

Ready for another one of my creepy celebrity obsessions? Hold onto your potatoes, Constant Lurkers... here come the one about Alicia Keys...

Jenny and Helene tried to warn me this past weekend, but it didn't hit me till my radio alarm went off Wednesday morn and this song was playing... both familiar and new. The synthesizer recalled some elegiac pop reverie from the 80s... but with a beat and a soul that rendered it transcendent.

Through the miracle of the internet, I downloaded the album ("As I Am"), loaded it onto my iPod, and listened to the whole thing on the long walk to work...
It's sort of appalling that someone can be so unconscionably hot AND make music like this. It's fucking breathtaking. It physically pains me, it's so moving.

Confession: I really had a thing for her second album, "The Diary of Alicia Keys". In this one song, she sings as a waitress who's trying to work up the courage to talk to this guy. Midway through the track, she calls him on her cell phone and we hear her side of the conversation:

"Hello? Can I speak to... to Michael?"

Suffice it to say, on lonely nights (a.k.a., "nights") I like to imagine... I like to imagine that she's talking to me...

Truth is, I discovered "The Diary of Alicia Keys" with my ex, which is the main reason I distanced myself from her sounds for a while. And didn't think to give her new material a spin.

Her new album might be even better, though. Continuing to fuse the past with the future. Making music that feels like you might have heard it on the radio a lifetime ago. When the world wasn't quite so corrupt. When the world held more promise...

Have I mentioned that Alicia Keys is mercilessly, godlessly hot? It's obscene, really. As if hot girls didn't have enough going for them...

Of course, she doesn't sing hot girl songs. Her tracklists have heartache and unrequited love and soulful female empowerment woven into them. She sells it all with her sleepy cool.

What does an impossibly hot girl have to be insecure about? Beats me. Doesn't matter if it's a cold, calculated act, though:

She has me.

I would commit war atrocities for her. I would sell my family. I would do unspeakable things that would haunt me for as long as I lived—all to bask in a fleeting moment of her attention!

And as the pigs drag me away from the horrific, unimaginable aftermath, I would howl:

For YOU, Alicia! I did it all for YOU!

You and me together...
Through the days and nights...

I don't worry 'cause
Everything's gonna be all right...

People keep talking—they can say what they like!
But all I know is everything's gonna be all right...

No one, no one, no one!
Can get in the way of what I feel for you...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Holy Shit!!!

Mitsubishi planning 3D Blu-ray player?!

"... Mitsubishi apparently has a Blu-ray player in its labs that can convert existing 2D movies into 3D on the fly."

Well, this article's from way back in the glory days of August 2007. And the technology they're talking about sounds like cheap parlor tricks—not the stuff I'm interested in, which is properly-designed 3D. With all the 3D movies coming out in theaters, I don't see why they couldn't be brought to the home market with the 3D element intact.

From some message boards I've combed through, it seems the problem may be in the wide variances in television sets. Analog, rear projection, LCD, plasma. But I find it hard to believe that there isn't some way to reproduce the imagery, and those cheap 3D glasses you get at the theater.

In other news—without getting into it—everything is on the verge of being completely fucked up. I guess that's the half-empty way of putting it. The half-full version would be "everything is on the verge of getting completely sorted out"... but that version requires a bit of a deus ex machina.

(But I suppose Hollywood careers are built upon deus ex machinas.)

Passed out early last night, woke up early this mourn. Skipped the subway, took the overground to work, footing it down along Central Park West. It's amazing how different the world looks in the early mourning light. It looks so bloody... hopeful... it would border on the offensive if it weren't so fucking persuasive...

Maybe I'm just like Rorschach.

And I just want to watch this whole world BURN.

"If it's war the Asians want..."

And the fallout of that article HERE.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Nanny States of America

I know you've all been anxiously waiting for an official Misanthropy Central endorsement. I may be a little late to the party, as I tend to be with these things, but I've gotta say... I like Kanye West.

I like his music. I like that he's got a different narrative to tell. I like his bravado. I like his ability to make fun of his bravado. Hip-hop sorely needs a sense of humor—and I'm not talking about those silly interstitials between music tracks.

I'd link to a YOU TUBE video of his Grammy performance, but fucking NOTHING stays up on YOU TUBE any longer, goddammit. (The internet became a police state so gradually, we never knew what hit us.)

Instead, watch this:

For the people who are stuck in a fucking nanny state that blocks YOU TUBE, watch this:

(That was harder to make than you might imagine—and than I'd like to admit.)

Please, Hollywood, please liberate me from my day job soon... you did it once, you can do it again, I *know* you can...!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Things We Lost in the Fire

With my teeth locked down I can see the blood
Of a thousand men who have come and gone!
Now we grieve coz now is gone!
Things were good when we were young!

Why didn't anyone tell me that RESCUE ME is a post-9/11 comedy?

Okay, it's a dramatic comedy. (I do hate the term "dramedy". It somehow seems more vague than either "drama" or "comedy".) A show about self-destructive grieving, which is to say a show that speaks to me.

The writing is surprisingly good. Sharp. Smart. Genuinely funny.

A sampling of the dialogue, wherein a few firefighters discuss spotting one of their fellow firefighters out with a plus-size girl:

Fireman 1: I swear to god!
Fireman 2: Maybe it was his sister?
Fireman 1: NOBODY has a sister that big. And they were, like, holding hands! You hold hands with your sister?
Fireman 3: No! Only that one time, you know... when we went into the woods to eat the witch's house.

The cast is amazing. And if you're a fan of television like I am, you'll notice all these familiar faces from HOMICIDE, OZ and THE WIRE. I just started season 2 and fucking Beecher is in it! Tobias Beecher is a fireman and Ryan O'Reily is a cop?! Well, now I've seen everything!

Okay, I haven't see a 3D CG-animated SMURFS feature film, but Paramount is going to take care of that... they take care of everyone...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

HD-DVD is Deader Than Dead!

For a while there, it was looking an awful lot like the early 80s again, and the home-video format war between JVC's VHS and Sony's Betamax. Of course, at the conclusion of THAT war, the term "Betamax" became synonymous with "dead technology" as people were stuck with machines that were rendered obsolete.

The new format war was over high-def storage. Toshiba's HD-DVD and Sony's BluRay. Theoretical successors to standard DVDs.

In May 2007, Harry Knowles threw his morbidly obese support behind HD-DVD in the high-def format wars.

Which, in and of itself, shouldn't be a big deal. Even in May 2007 there were some clear indications that HD-DVD was a doomed format, YES... but people are free to back ill-advised causes.

Except, like Harlan Ellison, Harry Knowles's name reaches more people than most. The internet king of the geeks was endorsing a doomed video format with inferior storage capabilities:

Storage capacity for a dual-layer standard DVD: 8.5 GB.
Storage capacity for a dual-layer HD-DVD disc: 30 GB.
Storage capacity for a dual-layer Blu Ray disc: 50 GB.

(Storage capacity for a quad-layer Blu Ray disc: 100 GB!)

Thankfully, Harry's influence has always been hampered by the skeptical, paranoid, fractious nature of his internet geek constituency. People accused him of being a sellout who was being paid or bribed by the HD-DVD camp. Fueled by the fact that he admits upfront that ads began appearing on AICN for a Toshiba HD-DVD player...

Personally, I thought his infamous HD-DVD article was just the pinnacle of his idiot egotism—riddled with his signature ignorance and inaccuracies—yet clearly intending to herd his flock toward the promised land. Read for yourself:

"Headgeek has chosen HD-DVD... Here's Why..."

My favorite quote: "I also have a habit of picking the winning formats. I could be wrong this time, but most of my filmmaker friends, in fact all of them that I have had a conversation regarding this with... have told me... HD DVD is the format to go with."

He weathered a lot of flak for that product endorsement. Now, less than a year later:

Harry Knowles admits that HD-DVD is dead.

($5 says their kids are going to look like orange-haired manatees.)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Cloverfield's Monster

I *like* seeing my monsters.

I know the arguments. Less is more. Audiences today are wuh-hayyy too jaded for their own good.

But I guess for *my* money, I'd rather SEE some shit rather than NOT SEE some shit.

That said, the Monster from Cloverfield doesn't look that great in toy-form. Certainly no Godzilla or King Kong or Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. I guess it looks like a big, wingless, albino bat. It looks like something that could exist. But where's the magic? Where's the charisma?

Maybe it'll hold some charm for the kids. What do I know? All I know how to do is make the animated gifs...

Friday, February 15, 2008

Harlan Ellison is a Douchebag

This colorful diatribe was originally posted on a *private* Writers Guild Members-Only bbs. And now it's on AINT-IT-OBNOXIOUS. For all the public to digest.

It's probably obvious from the text, but Ellison is an angry old crank who's adopted a fairly reductive appraisal of the new contract. And now it's fodder for the troglodytes on the fucking AICN Talk Back Boards, who just feed on any negativity that they can get their toothless maws upon.

You want to know one of the things I particularly loathe in people. Their inability to see long-term. You would think an ancient like Ellison, who suffered the '88 writers strike, would appreciate the bigger picture. But just because he was there doesn't mean that his vision isn't muddied by his own bitterness.

I was once in a performance group with a menagerie of some of the most obnoxious personalities on the planet. People blew up left and right, projected their mental issues onto other people, defended each other's poor behavior and managed to create this dreadful cesspool of dysfunction that resembled some grotesque mockery of a family.

But they kept that bullshit behind-the-scenes. A person sitting in the audience wouldn't be subjected to all the personal garbage that went on behind-the-scenes. (They'd be subjected to a pretty shitty show, to be fair, but that's another blog entry...)

People are too indulgent with old fucks like Ellison. He's old. He's been around. He's got a body of work. They smile and applaud him for his refreshing bluntness. BULLSHIT.

The idea that we could have gotten everything we'd wanted if we'd stayed out longer? Bullshit. Warmongering. Maybe if we stay in Iraq for 100 more years, we'll establish some order.

Terry George has used the term "nuclear winter" to describe what the effect would be if we shot down the current tentative contract we've got on the table. That seems the most likely scenario, IMHO. Timewise, we'd lose the leverage of the Oscars and the TV season: with those flushed, there would be no incentive for the studios to go back to negotiations with us for a fucking while. If the militants like Ellison had it their way, the strike would last a lot longer than the '88 strike.

How long, then? A cool year? Unlike 1988, there are a lot more entertainment options today beyond movies and scripted television. I would hate to imagine what the industry would've evolved into... because I'm pretty sure it would've evolved away from scripts.

Some might argue that a little public rant by Ellison is healthy for the community. And I'm all for the voice of dissent. The emperor's naked and all that noise. And amidst the cautious aftermath of spinning, it might be good to highlight all the things that we DIDN'T accomplish. The guild represents such a diverse swath of careers, it was inevitable that not all writers would benefit equally. That many writers would be hurt a lot worse than others.

But Ellison's directed his vitriol back at his fellow writers. He's the raving lunatic that people edge away from in a subway car. And at the end of his argument, he hides behind the claim that he's just "a sad old man". Which is supposed to give him some free fucking pass to say the most absurdly divisive shit.

But he's more than that. He's a high-profile writer whose words carry a lot more weight than many others, by dint of his illustrious career. He sends the message to the studios: "You've won. We are cowardly and divided. Feel free to use this against us to an even greater degree in three years."

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Fundamentally Loathsome

Hate is a many splendoured thing!

Hate lifts us up where we belong!

All you NEED is hate!

I know what you're thinking.

You're all thinking I'm gonna FLIP OUT and go on a big, whiny rant about how Valentine's Day is for suckers.

Instead, I've created a lovely new animated gif for all of you bloody fucking lovebirds out there. (You're welcome.)

Honestly, I looooove Valentine's Day! I mean, I've got hearts tattooed on the backs of my motherfucking hands: If that doesn't scream sincerity to you, I don't know why we're still having this conversation.

This is the day that all the people in happy, loving, fulfilling relationships say, "GO FUCK YOURSELF!" to everybody else in the world. [They say that all the rest of the days of the year, too, but today it is filled with peculiar vehemence.]

You can't even look up a word in the dictionary without getting this shit shoved down your gullet:
(Thanks, Merriam-Webster—you meretricious bitch!)

In closing, I wish every day were Valentine's Day. Because it reminds me to hate. And you can never have enough venom pulsing through you.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

War Officially Over

Ran straight from work, through the stinging snow, to the Crowne Plaza Hotel on 49th and B'way. Scene of the Saturday informational meeting. Same ballroom, now set up for a vote.

I arrived during the last hour of the voting period. Tom Fontana rode the escalator just ahead of me. That motherfucker always seems to arrive just around the time that I arrive. As if to emphasize the fact that we do not talk.

The ballroom resembled the end of some community center holiday party. Coffee and cake and cookies laid out. The vote was a simple paper ballot, check YES or NO to lift the strike orders. Would've taken 5 seconds to fill out, but I took my own sweet time as I scarfed down some free refreshments.

Just a few hours later, the votes were all counted.

The members of the WGAE & W voted by a 92.5% margin to lift the restraining order that was invoked on November 5th.


My mercy-time at the day job is now counting down. They're already asking how much longer I need to stay there. That's something I can't quite answer in definite terms just yet.

Most important is avoiding the sad fate of Pat Hobby.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Quantum of Malice

(Cool artwork here.)

Tonight is the vote to lift the restraining order so that writers can go back to work. This DOES NOT mean that we have a deal, or that we will APPROVE of the deal. There will be a separate mail-in vote on whether or not to ratify the contract. So, in theory, we could vote to end the strike tonight and then vote AGAINST accepting the contract. Which would send us back to a strike in a few weeks, which would result in nuclear winter.

But it's all a big show, of course. This thing is over. If this strike was a victory, it was a bittersweet one. A lot of people got hurt worse than me, and I'm not even sure how hurt I am yet.

Voting on whether or not to end the strike is at the Crowne Plaza from 4pm to 7pm tonight.

Hit up Nikki Finke one last time, for the sentimental type.

"ComputeHer is Michelle. Michelle uses many classic video game consoles and computers to make outrageously intricate toe-tapping music! Many of the instruments she uses are toys she grew up with, like: Game Boy (the Grey Classic), Commodore 64, Nintendo Entertainment System, Atari 2600, Speak n spell, and more! ComputeHer’s music creates an atmosphere of fun and excitement that anyone, of any age, can enjoy!"

Monday, February 11, 2008

Roy Scheider, John Alvin Have Posses

John Alvin was a movie poster artist, responsible for some of the most iconic posters of your youth.

Here's a greater sampling of his work. Lest we forget.

Roy Scheider was 75 when he passed away Sunday afternoon. He was in JAWS and SORCERER and that Bob Fosse movie about all the jazz and stuff.

Oh, he was also interviewed by Stuttering John.

There is a good chance he deserved a better obit than this, but I'm a bit spent with all these people dying lately...


The writers strike is not technically over today. Vote to lift the "restraining order" will be Tuesday night. Yes, it's a formality, but where would we be without our formalities? (We'd be just like the fucking animals.)

Wednesday should be the official return to show business.

Me... I've got to wait for some phone calls before I can depart the comfort of my day job.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Labor History or Nuclear Winter

"Are you a writer??"

Cameras and microphones being shoved at a decidedly unglamorous lot as they tried to enter the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Saturday afternoon. I felt a little bad for the press. Most writers for tv and film are a phantom breed. Even the names you might know, you probably don't know what they look like. Reporters trying to get a story from invisible people.

I made my way through the press mob. I wasn't wearing any WGA paraphernalia and I don't really resemble the average WGA member.

It was a private meeting. WGAE president Michael Winship tried to emphasize this—that what was said in the ballroom would REMAIN in the ballroom and asked that we exercise some restraint in talking to the press outside... but word started leaking almost immediately. Halfway through the meeting, someone tipped off Winship that people were leaving the meeting and freely spouting off to the ravenous media.

So, between that and the fact that no one really reads this blog, I don't feel so bad writing about the experience.

There's some conflicting opinions on the "temperature" of the room. I sensed tension from the start.

The email that was sent to the members from the presidents of the WGAE and WGAW just hours earlier had an air of finality about it. Some preliminary legalese concerning the details of the tentative contract was also released. The guild represents such a broad spectrum of careers, it was perhaps inevitable that not EVERYONE would be content with the ground we made and the battles we lost.

Tensions aside, the meeting started out very positive. The board went through the contract, explaining what we'd won. Winship's favorite line was, "Let's not let 'perfect' be the enemy of 'very good'."

Biggest problems, IMHO, is that the legalese is dense and the issues we're dealing with are projections of what the future will look like. When they opened up the floor for questions, I think the angriest people were the ones who think it's a foregone conclusion that "THE INTERNET" will completely take over from broadcast television within the next 5 years. Which, I think, is an unreasonable expectation.

The most inspirational speaker was Terry George, the man behind United Hollywood, a man who's no stranger to labor disputes, who emphasized how we've made labor history with these negotiations. With this contract, we've established groundwork to BUILD UPON.

Our biggest leverage was the Oscars and television season. And we exploited them. For the people who think we should keep this strike going to get EVERYTHING we want, to stay out till June when the actors' contract expires, the response was clear:

That would be a nuclear winter scenario for us.

Our leverage would be gone if we killed off the Oscars and the tv season. There's no guarantee the actors would really go on strike. We would LOSE EVERYTHING that's on the table right now and have to fight just to get back to the tentative deal we've got now.

The last big writers strike was 20 years ago, in '88. It lasted almost 6 months and ultimately they took a deal that had been offered to them about 2 months in. It ruined careers.

A lot has changed since then. In 1988, I was 12 and I vaguely remember reading a magazine article on the strike. Today, writers have managed to use the internet to inform people.

There's a lot of debate but it seems that the strike should officially be over SOMETIME this week. Not necessarily Monday.

The press mob was even thicker on the way out. A layer of press and a layer of tourists, drawn to the lights like flies, vainly expecting to see some celebrities.

I made my way through anonymously. Contemplating how I'm going to get the momentum of my career back.

Saturday, February 09, 2008


Who run Bartertown?

Dammit. I told you, no more embargoes.

MORE, Blaster...

WHO run Bartertown? WHO... RUN... BARTERTOWN...?

... you KNOW who...


Master Blaster.



Master Blaster... what?

Master Blaster runs Bartertown.


Master Blaster runs Bartertown!

Lift embargo!

Letter from the Presidents of WGA East and West this morning. A tentative deal has officially been inked with the AMPTP. Meeting on both coasts today. 2pm here on the East. 7pm out West. Assuming the details are generally well-received by the rank-n-file, this strike should be over. The wording of the letter all but says the strike's over.

Now... now, it's time to pick up the pieces...