Wednesday, August 31, 2011

August Company

I know the summer's not technically over—but as far as I'm concerned the summer's over as soon as the curtains fall on August.

Went to visit a good friend at an intensive care unit down in Secaucus on Tuesday. Last time I was in an ICU was... 8 years ago. It's never a good time. And this incident happened so abruptly, out of nowhere, to a guy who seemed to be the portrait of good health. The cover-boy of Men's Health. I won't get into details here. The friends who know the score know the score. Just hoping he can get back on his feet soon.

I do not care for how August is ending. Too many things unresolved. Too many threads without payoff. Updates here have been more sporadic because I am trying like hell to get some work done. I mean, I'm getting work done all the time... but then you get a call with more feedback and suddenly you've got more revisions to make and that dangling carrot of a payday, ANY payday, keeps jutting just out of reach...

Alas, this has been August 2011. Duane Reade already has the Halloween candy aisle up. The end of the year comes on furiously from here on out, which means I'm racing against time once more. I am revising my estimates for 2011. I don't need to rule the world. I just need a modest, affordable plot of earth to live on without getting beaten up.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Incident at a Pet Store

I was looking at these salamanders at this pet store. (I'm sure I had a reason for looking at the salamanders but I can't remember it now.) I had little newts as pets when I was a kid and perhaps it was some sense of nostalgia that made me consider buying a salamander or two.

But money's extremely tight and I'm on a spending lockdown—and buying a new pet would seem to be one of the most frivolous things I could do right now. These salamanders were relatively inexpensive, though. And they looked pretty cool. And however I managed to fudge the logic in my head, I confess that I seriously started to consider buying some salamanders.

They had aquariums with salamanders... but they also had these special salamanders set aside. In boxes that made them look like action figures. Live salamanders in these boxes, with unique pop culture themes. The one I was looking at was a "Batman" salamander. All black with yellow highlights. Couldn't quite figure out how they could remain alive in these packages and it certainly didn't seem humane, but for what it's worth they looked completely content in there.

On the back of the box were some basic instructions. One of the notes was that salamanders would live longer if they had a mate. The Batman salamander was listed as "Male". I chose another box with a salamander listed as "Female": this one was more colorful, almost with a clown pattern. It was themed as Batman's nemesis, The Joker.

Batman and The Joker as salamanders. As life-mates in an aquarium. How could I *not* get this?

I needed to ask a salesperson some questions about the tank requirements, but there was also something strange about these specially themed salamanders in these action figure packages. I'd set aside Batman and The Joker... but the themes kept changing. Suddenly, The Joker salamander became a "Mrs. Doubtfire" salamander. I asked the sales associate why the packages kept changing. The old woman smiled and didn't respond. As if she were just waiting for me to realize that I was dreaming.

Things spontaneously changing into other things is usually a dead-giveaway that you're in a dream and not in reality. Once you realize this, you can have a lucid dream and really do some interesting things.

And yet, I still didn't realize I was dreaming.

My dream life and waking life have been so strange lately, it's hard to see the dividing line sometimes. There was an earthquake and a tropical storm (downgraded from a category-1 hurricane) recently, wasn't there? And I didn't blog about either? And now I'm blogging about a salamander dream...?

Well, what's it all mean, then?

Dreams are always up for interpretation. I don't believe they forecast the future. I believe they represent your deeper fears and desires; things that are weighing upon you, that you're trying to work through in some way. Sometimes they represent something you're struggling with that you might not feel like talking about. That said, I thought this interpretation made some sense to me:
To see a salamander in your dream, represents your ability to survive through shame, misfortune, and/or embarrassment.
I really hope my fortune changes for the better soon. This week would be good.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Live Action Portal

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ask Vader

Hey, kids. Lucasfilm created a semi-fun web thing to promote their new Star Wars Blu-Ray discs. It's like a Magic 8-Ball where Darth Vader answers whatever question you type in. See what he says!!!

It's an audio/video affair, so my apologies to those of you at work. But it's worth wasting a few minutes with when you can. Click:

Ask Vader

Most of the canned responses are... repeated a lot. And he gets impatient while he waits for you to type stuff. And occasionally, you can randomly unlock some secret video bit which shows Darth sitting on a couch, watching some scene from the Star Wars movies and reacting to it:

But yeah, that's pretty much it, as far as I can tell.

What about the rest of you, then...?

Here's a link for you to read:

Do women's yearbook photos predict their future happiness?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Write for the Fight to Party

I get absolutely fucking stir-crazy when I'm writing. I dream this sensation will be alleviated one day when I can afford a nicer place to live. Till then, I work under the conditions I have to work under.

The archive of this blog's past five years is littered with entries about Dead Projects. Projects I busted my hump on that went nowhere. That stalled, fizzled. Open Writing Assignments that went off to other writers. It's one of the reasons I'm reluctant to offer specifics about projects I'm currently working on.

But today... fuck it.

My manager called Monday night.

I've been writing this new script called "Harrowgate", targeted at Dark Castle. My manager suggested putting it on hold while I focus on another potential paycheck.

I've been vying for this found-footage project at Paramount. Takes place in a hotel. I've been calling my take on the project "Menagerie". Other writers are actively campaigning for this gig so it would behoove me to finish this document as soon as possible. I gave my managers a rough draft of a treatment just over a week ago and thought it was DOA since they didn't get back to me immediately, but I got some feedback Monday. I'm stripping away some of the formal treatment aspects of document and refashioning it more like a short story. Which, in a way, is liberating. I miss writing prose. I'm not going to be in the room or on the phone pitching this one, so this document has got to stand on its own and be excellent. No pressure there.

Additionally, my managers are throwing my name in the sorting hat to write the new AMITYVILLE HORROR movie that Dimension is developing. Not a reboot but a sequel. And it's going to be done as another found-footage because they're so goddamn cheap to make. I love it. I'll do anything. What soul?

No updates offered on "Cadavers". I'm always afraid to ask for updates on specific projects. I just assume if there's any concrete news, they'll bring it up. What's the point in worrying over the things I have no control over?

So this week: HARROWGATE on hold while I knock out MENAGERIE and make it brilliant. I need this.

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Friday, August 19, 2011

All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.

Sometimes it's really difficult to sustain a career in the entertainment industry. The feast-stretches followed by these famine-stretches that really test your soul.

When I find myself in a famine-stretch, I think back on all the things I could have NOT done... savings that might have helped prolong the feast for a little while longer. And yet there are still so many things I didn't do. Trips I didn't take, places I didn't visit, with the understanding that everything that extended beyond the blurry line of necessity would be a luxury I couldn't afford in the long-run.

It's Friday. I won't get into it. As always, my fortune could change with a phone call so I'm trying to stay positive. August is going by far too quickly.

Trying to finish writing a new script called HARROWGATE. Trying to finish this faster than I have finished any script in recent years. (Or ever.) Other projects are still alive but HARROWGATE is what I have most control over right now and I will make it work.

Ridley Scott just signed a deal to direct another movie in the BLADE RUNNER universe. I recommend watching this documentary when you've got some time:

On the Edge of Blade Runner (Part 1 of 6 Parts on YOUTUBE)


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Facebook Will Try to Ruin You

We must accept that just about everyone you know is on Facebook.

We must also acknowledge that Facebook is a shady piece of software that supports shady apps with an embarrassment of security issues.

Here's what happened a few days ago...

I started getting notifications that certain people had accepted my friend requests. These happened to be people that I knew—but I hadn't sent these friend requests.

My Facebook account was sending friend requests to people on my behalf.

If they'd been strangers, I'd suspect that the account had been hacked... but like I said, these were people that I *knew*. I thought, perhaps, Facebook was suggesting these friends based on mutual contacts... but some of these friends had no overlapping social connections. People I hadn't seen in years. People I'd broken up with.

Tried to look for a solution online and couldn't find an easy, one-stop answer. After some further digging, however, I think I know what might have happened.

I'd recently upgraded the shitty Facebook app on my Droid phone—with the dim hope that the upgrade would make the app less shitty. (Didn't.) It involved uninstalling and reinstalling the app... which is where I suspect the app harvested all my phone contacts and started going to town on my behalf. Facebook pretended to be me! Contacting people I hadn't seen or spoken to in YEARS and requesting virtua-friendship.

Knowing is half the battle. But that other half is still pretty important.

Facebook tech support is pretty much nonexistent. There are all sorts of things you can't do; things that would seem obvious, like being able to see a list of "pending friend requests". There are awkward work-arounds for this but there is also an app you can install to show you a straight-forward list of all the friend requests you've sent that are pending confirmation. Wasn't thrilled at the prospect of installing a new app on my account but figured wtf.

Seemed to work. Found a list of 18 (!) friend requests that were pending approval. EIGHTEEN ADDITIONAL PEOPLE that Facebook had fucking contacted on my be-fucking-half!!!

Went about canceling the requests. So far, the list hasn't added additional people, which leads me to believe that it WAS that Droid app that tried adding a bunch of contacts as a one-time thing.

Other people must have experienced this issue. This is why I post these experiences online. So that people with the same problem might find some information. There really should be a mainstream story about this.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Lost Signals

It's been raining a lot lately, here in New York City. You know what the rain affects? Satellite signals.

The DirecTV website will claim that bad weather shouldn't really interrupt your service; if it does, it should only be for a minute or two.

The truth? Try intervals of about half an hour or longer.

This is with rain. We'll see what snow does.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Sleep No More

Friday night, I went to see/experience the show "Sleep No More" — or as I like to call it, "How Many Props Can I Steal?".

SLEEP NO MORE is based on MacBeth. Takes place across 5 floors of a hotel with an elaborate, meticulously detailed production design. Everyone who sees the show is given a mask that they have to wear throughout. This is helpful in that:

1) it highlights the people who are the performers (the maskless)
2) contributes nicely to the atmosphere, as guests appear to be a mob of ghosts
3) you're forbidden to talk while wearing the mask -- helper staff wearing different colored masks are stationed throughout to remind you with a quiet shushing

Essentially no dialogue/words. In effect, it's a modern dance interpretation of MacBeth.

The story isn't given to you. You have to literally pursue it. Chase after it. See performers interacting. They split and you decide who you want to stay with... or you can abandon both and find another narrative thread to pursue.

There is so much detail in the set design, you can spend a lot of time in empty rooms, reading through files and letters. This is truly a set you can interact with. If there's a bar, you can get behind it, open up the cash register. Flip through the books at the check in desk. Play a piano. There's a cemetery with plots of dirt and fake trees. Parlors, bedrooms, sanitariums. Can't rave enough about the set design. Except that I probably got so caught up in the design that I missed a lot of the action. (Meeting up with my friends afterwards, we compared notes about what we'd seen... and I missed a lot.)

What else, what else... gobs of nudity, male and female, if you're in the right place at the right time. (Which is true in real life, as well.) Spooky, evocative, atmospheric -- but this is not a Haunted House with jump scares.

Also, it's a small fortune. $90 online. It's got to cost a fortune to keep it running, so I can sort of understand the pricetag. You get to keep the mask (and whatever you've managed to pilfer). And it seems like you can stay as long as you want until the show stops it cycles around 2am.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

It's All About the Benjamins (ROCK REMIX)

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Charlie Brown Jaws

Just when you thought it was safe to read Peanuts...

I know what you're wondering, Jenny. You're wondering what it would have looked like if Charles M. Schulz wrote JAWS.

Would've probably looked a little like THIS.

While you're here, have you ever wondered why many restaurant websites are so poorly designed?

TGIF, America.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Silenced and Forgotten

The Silenced and Forgotten.

T.S.A.F. (Spoken as "Saf".)

Who is TSAF...?

TSAF is a member of The New York Initiative. A Brooklyn-based real life superhero group. Featured in the HBO documentary SUPERHEROES which aired this past Monday.

The documentary keeps the audience from seeing a full face shot of most of the masked crime-fighters, but offers these teases...

So we return to the question, Who is TSAF?

On Facebook, her profile name is "Kukomi Tsaf Yoneda". Co-founder of The New York Initiative.
About Kukomi:

"We are individuals organized towards achieving peacekeeping objectives and humanitarian missions. This will translate into a variety of non-monetary services as unfolding events demand. Our primary goal will always be to help those in the most need, to the highest ethical standard and to the maximum effect. We are the New York Initiative."
TSAF and many of the other real life superheroes were inspired to pursue this work by the murder of Kitty Genovese. You know the story: woman stabbed to death near her home while a bunch of her neighbors stood by and did nothing.

Behold my demented attempt to piece together a portrait of TSAF's face using available pics and amateur-night Photoshop skills. Hey, we do what we have to do sometimes.

TSAF is a stone cold fox who kicks ass. Stay safe tonight.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Illusions in Chalk

Meet Julian Beever. He creates 3d illusions in chalk, on pavement. Each drawing exploits forced perspective to give the illusion of depth. As such, they only look "right" from one specific vantage point (where the camera is usually perched); from other angles, the work looks distorted.

It's hard to describe. Your best bet is to head to Julian Beever's website and spend some valuable time clicking on thumbnails.

And that is a blog entry for today!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

America 2049

What is AMERICA 2049?

It's a Facebook game. Like FarmVille. Except a million miles away from the barren dust bowl of FarmVille.

The game pictures a dystopic future for America in 2049. You begin as part of a government agency hunting down a suspected terrorist. Nothing is as it seems, of course, and you're forced to question the information you're given along the way.

How does the actual gameplay work...?

You're given a map divided into a grid. Click on a square and you reveal: a clue, a recharge unit, a puzzle prompt or absolutely nothing. Some clues are a piece of an alphanumeric code. Some are audio clips from an informant. Some are video clips. Who are in the videos...?

Victor Garber, Harold Perrineau, Cherry Jones, Margaret Cho and Anthony Rapp all play key roles.

In a *FACEBOOK* game?!

But why would they do this?

Well, there is a message involved in this game.

The fictional portrait of the future is fleshed out by recalling actual events from American history. Like this poem ("Strange Fruit") by a schoolteacher condemning the lynching of African Americans:
Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black body swinging in the Southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant South,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh,
And the sudden smell of burning flesh!

Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for a tree to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

-Abel Meeropol
But how is the actual game...?

It's *good*. As you can imagine from the subject matter, it can get a little preachy—but I think a lot of people who might stumble upon this game would probably benefit from some of the things the narrative has to offer. The puzzles start off pretty easy (decoding passwords) but escalate sharply as you approach the end. There's some real satisfaction at solving some of the harder puzzles, but if you're really stumped you can click on the "discussions" button on the right side of the playing field and enter the forums where you'll invariably find the solutions to every puzzle in the game. So, really, if you allow yourself that, it's a cakewalk to the end.

And yes, there *IS* an ending to the game! It's not an endless game like FarmVille. Reached the end last night. It's a worthwhile journey. Clicking on boxes on a grid can be a little tedious in the beginning, but it actually gets more addictive as the story opens up and you want to learn more.

All in all, I'm glad a game like this is out there. You know, for the kids.

Monday, August 08, 2011

We Reap What We Sow

Welcome, Monday. How was the weekend?

Did everyone hear about Bobby Boblick's weekend? I hear it was pretty bad. I hear that the shit hit the fan and that nobody likes or trusts Bobby Boblick anymore and he's completely alienated his closest friends. Sure, some people still like Bobby Boblick but more and more people actively dislike him. Has he learned any lessons through all this? Well, if he were gonna learn a lesson, he should've learned it months ago and he didn't... so I'd say no.

Personally, at this point, I'm torn between not giving a fuck and not giving a shit.

I know that most of you don't know who "Bobby Boblick" is. He's someone who claims he doesn't like drama but always seems to create crazy drama wherever he goes. He's like a black-hole, sucking everyone into his drama.

It's exhausting. I'm exhausted. Tired of talking about it and him, arguing over things he said or didn't say, did or didn't do. I'm not excusing him, not defending him, not pardoning his actions. I'm simply tired of talking about him. And I hope he doesn't do something new to compel me to write more about him on here. Not for a while at least.

Me? I've been under the weather since Friday. Maybe even before that. Could be that going out on Friday made things worse. Not completely sick but just vaguely unwell. Less than 100%. The hypochondriac in me fears that I'm probably going to die soon. I really cannot afford to come down with some major illness right now. I guess that few people can afford the *luxury* of a major illness, but the timing would be particularly disadvantageous for me at the moment. I need a few more days to repair myself.

Some fun articles for you to read:

5 Biggest Disasters in the History of Marketing Ideas

7 Creepy Video-Game Easter Eggs

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Bad Obsession

Friday, August 05, 2011

JJ Abrams Doesn't Understand Why Everyone Except Nick Gaffney Hated the End of LOST

I'm not sure if I ever made this clear enough but I didn't really care for the end of LOST.

Well, J.J. Abrams has finally made a public statement about the ending:
For years, I had people praising Lost to death, and now they say: 'I'm so pissed at you for the end of Lost.' I think a lot of people who were upset with the ending, were just upset that it ended. And I've not yet heard the pitch of what the ending should have been. I've just heard: 'That sucked.'
Okay, first: people were NOT just upset because it ended. And if ALL he had heard to back up the criticism of the ending was that it "sucked", then clearly he's been avoiding a lot of resources at his disposal. A lot of people have taken a lot of time to passionately articulate why they disliked the ending to LOST.

All right, it's been YEARS already. I gotta stop bitching about LOST.

(Awful show.)

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Damages Unbound

DAMAGES is James Cameron's sequel to Louis Malle's 1992 film DAMAGE.

Actually, no, that was a joke for the two people in the world who would actually get it. (Neither of whom is Bobby Boblick.)

DAMAGES is actually a drama that ran for three seasons on basic cable FX before DirecTV ordered two more seasons. The DirecTV exclusive season four began airing last month. I just caught up through Video On Demand (VOD).

The strangest thing about watching season four of DAMAGES? The raciest FX shows get is a free pass to say "shit" every 4 seconds. In the lawless intergalactic waters of satellite television, DAMAGES suddenly features nudity and liberal use of the f-bomb. And no commercial breaks. In 1080i.

I think it's tricky to write an adult drama that has no profanity. (See any cop show on network television.) You put adults in perilous situations, there will be profanity. And wiping that from their vocabulary just highlights the falseness. So, it's kind of interesting and strange that for 3 seasons, DAMAGES established its own narrative universe that did not include the f-bomb and suddenly it seems like all the characters have just learned how cathartic it is to say "fuck"!


Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The Truth About DirecTV

All right, yesterday I switched from Time Warner Cable to the satellite-based DirecTV. Over a longer span of time, I'm sure I'll get a better sense of the pros and cons. Hopefully, the service will continue to evolve for the better (esp. since it looks like I'll be stuck with this albatross for 24 months). I share this experience with the internet in case anyone else is considering the switch. [I'm a mid-town Manhattan resident.]

First things first. I had "verbal consent" from the landlord to plant this satellite dish on the rooftop. That's all you need. When the installer arrives, just affirm that you've got the permission and he'll get to work.

The appointment was scheduled for sometime between 12pm and 4pm. Installer called to tell me he'd arrived around 11:30am. The entire process took about 3 hours. It involved taking ACs out of windows and moving furniture and drilling holes in walls. A lot of things I could've prepped in advance that the email reminders don't tell you about. The installer was really nice and patient and didn't bitch about anything.

The website FAQs and the salesperson on the phone will tell you that you need a landline installed in your home to take advantage of On-Demand and Pay-Per-View programming. As I mentioned in my updated entry yesterday, the installer informed me that this is not true. If you have a connection to the internet, that'll be all you need. The box needs to connect to the internet every so often in order to update its programming.

My cautious, initial reactions:

This thing looks pretty good...

The menu interface is more responsive and easier to navigate than TWC's "Mystro" cable boxes. I'd been told that DirecTV didn't have BBC-America or the Independent Film Channel—and to my surprise I actually had access to both channels...

... though only in Standard Definition.

Yes, there are plenty of channels in HD but there are also a range of misfit channels that only appear in SD on DirecTV. On TWC, I enjoyed having Investigation Discovery in HD. Now I've just got it in SD.

The worst news: AMC is only in SD on DirecTV.

I've got to watch BREAKING BAD—the best television show ever made—in shitty 480i, stretched. That pisses me off.

A smaller loss: no G4TV. Neither in SD or HD. (Goodbye, Attack of the Show.)

Small consolation prize: apparently, since it's moved from basic cable to DirecTV exclusive DAMAGES has nudity now.

I'm sure I'll find more things I've sacrificed along the way.

For folks with multiple TV hookups, you can have one DVR service multiple sets. Which is what we're doing right now. Though if my roommate figures out how it works and starts filling it up with a bunch of bullshit (like 20 hours of THE OFFICE reruns) then I may have to consider getting a second DVR for the added harddrive space. Because if he keeps a DVR the way he keeps the refrigerator, there's going to be a lot of rotting shows on that harddrive.

At the end of the day, it's just friggin tv. So far, I don't see enough advantages to warrant the switch we just made but we'll see how it plays out down the line. Especially during stormy weather.


Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Cold Comfort

August. The temps in the city should scratch 90 this afternoon but the thought occurred to me that it's going to start getting cold again soon. This is one of the reasons it's hard for me to imagine living in a place like L.A. where the weather doesn't change. I like the change in seasons. You get sick of the heat and then you appreciate the colder weather. You get sick of the cold and then you appreciate it more when it warms up again. Invariably, you get sick of the extremes of the season you're in, but it gives you something to look forward to.

Getting DirecTV installed today. Not looking forward to it. Not my idea. And I'm/we're stuck with it for 24 fucking months—a span of time I can't even wrap my head around. DirecTV requires a landline if you want to use Pay-Per-View or any On-Demand services, which is obnoxious. And we don't have a landline. Because a lot of people don't have landlines anymore. And you'd think there'd be a way for this technology to work without a landline at this point.

It's August. I need some good news in the next couple of weeks.


So it took about 3 hours for the installer to hook up DirecTV, including all the drilling and moving around of furniture. Despite what it says on their website and what the people on the phone tell you, YOU DO NOT NEED A LANDLINE. They can hook it up to your internet service so it can update. So far, so good. It's going to take a little longer to assess how reliable the DVR is, and how expensive this service is going to be in the long-run.


Monday, August 01, 2011


David Wojnarowicz
September 14, 1954 – July 22, 1992