Monday, March 31, 2008

Stuff I Haven't Talked About Before.

If you're looking for the round-robin writing game, Sophie From Shinola, its here.
Hell of a creative title, huh? Live with it.

Based on the responses I got to my post about the possibility of me posting about American Idol, I know that most of you are TV snobs. Yeah, yeah, yeah, You don't watch TV. Well, I do. And I've got a new favorite.

Fox (go figure) has a show that's been on for four or five weeks called New Amsterdam. You can read the Wiki article, for an explanation, but I'll try to tell you what it's about (apostrophe for MWT). John Amsterdam was born in the mid-1600's and he's immortal. Some Native-American chick told him he wouldn't age until he found his one true love. He's currently a NYC homicide detective. Each episode has him solving a crime and flashing back to his past lives. He also hangs out with a really old bartender who happens to be his son from a marriage in the 1940's.

It turns out that sometimes he clues in his family that he'll live forever and sometimes makes sure a relationship falls apart so he can maintain his secret. There's a terrific scene where he's attending his Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and he says, "I'm John; I'm an alcoholic and I've been sober for 15, 330 days". Since he looks like he's in his early 30's, this takes the group by surprise.

There's also the plot line where he's sure that a doctor who treated him for a heart attack (he died on the table and then woke up and walked out of the morgue), is his one true love. She's in a bad marriage and wary of him. Last week, he admitted to her that his big secret is that he's 400 years old, but, of course, she doesn't believe him and wants to know what he's really concealing.

Last night's episode had him taking down a mobster who he realizes is his Great-great-grandson from another of his past-wives...a woman who left him with their son when he had an affair with a woman who was modeling for him in his incarnation as a painter. It turns out she realized she was aging and he "looked and acted just like the day they met".

This all sounds terribly convoluted and I'm sure I'm not explaining it very well, but this is a terrific show. So far, each episode reveals more about Amsterdam's past (proper apostrophe for MWT and Shawn), and unlike a lot of shows, this one seems like it has unlimited possibilities for future plots.

Give this one a look. Each episode stands on its own without many needless cliffhangers, so you should be able to catch up without too much brain-bending. I will warn you that you actually need to pay attention when you're watching, otherwise you'll be lost really quickly.

I'm about to hit the "publish" button fully realizing that this may be my least coherent post ever. But I'm OK with that. Just watch the friggin' show and we'll talk about it next week.

Sophie from Shinola, Part 6

Smug Puppies is back among the living, so I'm changing the links for this part of the story back to Jeri's site. If you have further comments about Part 6, please make them over there. Thanks. I'll leave this post up, though cause its got comments!
Ladies and Gentlemen, we broke the internet! Well at least the server that hosts Jeri's SmugPuppies. While her site is down, here's her entry in the continuing story. Oh, and Jeri's husband Bryan is going to be joining us as well. (I know the joining deadline is up, but hey I makes the rules; I breaks the rules. ) I'm not sure where we're slipping him in yet, but I'll let everyone know.

And, as always, the beginning of the story can be found here.

Sophie dreamed that she was falling into a black gravity well. Instead of landing, she startled awake, heart racing.

Opening her eyes, she realized she'd probably have preferred the fatal impact to waking up in a low-rent hospital bed. Cheap fluorescent lighting flickered above, shadowing dirty grey walls and glinting off the buckles of her restraints. The scent of stale urine, cheap antiseptic and burning plastic permeated the air.

The doctors had told her she was developing something called "dissociative personality disorder", whatever that was. From her perspective, it meant blacking out and waking in unfamiliar clothes with fresh bruises. It was happening more and more often lately, in spite being tied down with a poisonous psychoactive brew dripping into her arm.

She knew her parents were broke, but she never imagined they'd sell her to Spaceforce.

Her mom slumped, snoring quietly in a chair beside the bed, face grey with anxiety. She stirred, blinked. "Sophie, is that you?"

That was odd. Who else would it be? And why couldn't her mom just leave her alone? All the fussing and guilt trips were making things worse.

"Sophie, honey, I'm so sorry you're having to go through this. I had no idea the treatments would be this painful! This cut-rate facility is horrid but it's all we could afford."

"Well, check me out and take me home, then!" She bit her tongue; bitterness wouldn't help matters. "Mom, do you know where Blink is? I can feel him but his thread is almost gone. It would really help if he were here, couldn't we sneak him in?"

"Honey, I’m sorry, I hate to tell you this: we've lost Blink. We were taking him back home and he had a fit, flew off into a radioactive zone. We couldn't catch him, and I'm afraid mine security might."

A wave of rage and grief crashed over Sophie. She started to scream at her mother, and then was falling, blacking out.

In a blink of the eye, not-Sophie smoothly took control. It glared at the woman sitting beside the hospital bed. "Was that really necessary? Sophie didn't need to know about Blink. At all."

Sophie's mother straightened, pulled her sweater closer around her. "Yes, it was necessary, I've always believed in being honest with my family." She got up and carefully walked to the doorway, ready to leave. She added, "That doesn't apply to you, you're not family."

Not-Sophie laughed bitterly. "That's hypocrisy! It's not like you told Sophie you were going to sell her body, you just fed her Spaceforce propaganda and tried to make her think she was volunteering. At the end of it all, Sophie had no choice. You may hate this procedure, but you signed Sophie up for it."

Sophie's mother raised one hand, as if to deflect the words. "If I'd known what it really took to create a Spaceforce Academy candidate, I'd never brought Sophie to this back-alley brainmod shop. This…"she gestured around the room, "and you are just wrong."

"True. You're afraid of me!" challenged not-Sophie, eyes glittering.

Sophie's mother replied "You're right. You are cold, alien, calculating, and are eating my daughter's mind and soul from within. You're not Sophie, and can never be!"

Not-Sophie sighed. "True. But it's me the Spaceforce will want, not your daughter. Her ability to create a symbiosis with that quasi-intelligent flying tarantula you gave her is what made her a candidate for the mod. In one sense, you created me. Mother. "

Sophie's mother flinched and turned away.

Not-Sophie pulled at the restraints, watched the relentless IV drip that was feeding it, helping it grow. It was too bad that the metamorphosis would destroy the original version of Sophie. It was hardest on the family. OK, it was pretty tough for Sophie's symbiote, too, but that was inconsequential.

Part 7
is here on Saqib's site.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Its A Review. My First Good One If Memory Serves.

If you're looking for the round-robin writing game, Sophie From Shinola, its here.

I just finished Blood Engines by T.A. Pratt. I've been threatening to read it for a while and it kept falling off the top of the pile, so I just got around to it. Guess what. Its terrific. Really. I shouldn't have to say anything else since you guys all know how discerning I am, but for the one or two of you who may be skeptical, I'll elaborate.

Marla Mason is a Sorcerer with a problem. She has a rival in her home town of Felport and in the world Mr. Pratt presents, Sorcerers solve their problems with extreme prejudice...and wit. Marla's only hope lies in San Francisco so she boards a plane in spite of hating leaving her home. She takes Rondeau with her. Rondeau is a sort of mashup of protege, apprentice, hanger-on, foil, and thorn. And he's not really human.

The book is populated by characters, creatures, Gods and ghosts, the likes of which you'll rarely meet in one place. The pace is fast and full of wisecracks. Oh, and did I mention, Marla can kick most people's asses without magic. When she adds the magic, she doesn't leave a body count; she leaves a slime trail.

Throughout the book, she alludes to her love for her own town in spite of its obvious faults. She's imperfect and so is the town under her protection. This is a fantastic story and I'm telling you to stop reading this review now and just go buy the damned thing. As a special bonus, the next book in the Marla Mason Series was released into the wild 5 days ago.

I'm going to order it tomorrow. The only reason I'm going to wait that long is that I've got to track down Mr. Pratt and find out why there aren't more books yet.

In case my subtlety went over your heads, I liked this book...a lot.

PostScript: You may recall that Scalzi pimped this book during his Month of Writers, where he let authors talk about their work or whatever. Pratt's entry mentioned that he thought all writer's should be required to immortalize him in their novels as a swashbuckling hero. I can take a hint, but only so far. If you've been reading There's No Crying In The War Room, you'll know that Tim Pratt is the never-met, but somewhat described ex-boyfriend of Adelaide Rotholz. One day, he's gonna thank me...but that day may be far in the future. I can live with that.

Some Random Crap

If you're looking for the round-robin writing game, Sophie From Shinola, its here.

...that I shall now allow to leak out of my head. First, since "Crap" is in the title, I'll mention that two days ago, I had to side-step a pile of emerald-green dog crap on the sidewalk. Immediately, a few things came to mind. First, I wondered if this was some left over St. Patrick's day prank? Or had someone fed their dog green beer for a week to create this work of art? The second thought was that I needed to get a picture of said pile of emerald-green dog crap to send to the folks at, a site dedicated to documenting piles of dog crap in NYC. (I shit you not. And, no, there's no pun intended.) The third thought was that GF had my camera, so I couldn't take a picture except with my cell phone. The fourth thought was that I couldn't remember how to get pictures off of my phone and onto my computer, so why bother. The fifth and final thought was that I should go look at just to confirm that it was still there, and when I did a few minutes ago, I discovered that it seems to have shifted its focus to shitty buildings, so nothing lost.

Random crap, the second. Here I am blogging for a second time on Sunday in spite of the fact that I know blogging on a Sunday is like the tree falling in the forest with no-one there to hear it. It is howling into a gale. It is spitting into the wind. It is a fart aimed upwind. My sitemeter tells me folks have visited today. I got an email which clearly referenced today's earlier post. Yet, no comments. None at all. Yet, do I neglect you faithful visitors. No, I most definitely do not. Do I begin speaking in odd archaic cadences? Yes, yes I do. Is it too much to ask for a few well stated non-sequiturs in return? I think not.

Speaking of sitemeters (smooth segue, huh?), I've realized that there are two problems with mine. First, if someone visits only the front page without navigating to any other pages, their visit registers as zero time spent on the blog. I dislike that. Second, it doesn't make note of unique visits. I realize that being able to recognize unique visits would be a slap at my self-importance, but I still want to be able to see what those numbers are. Anyone know of a different sitemeter than the one I'm using that I might want to try?

Lastly, I thought you might be interested to know that the GoogleSearch that brings the most unsuspecting visitors is for "Dominos delivery" or some variation on that. This is followed closely by the search for "Amish underwear". I thought you might find that interesting. Then again, I'm often wrong about the things I think.

The Plan? Kaput!

If you're looking for the round-robin writing game, Sophie From Shinola, its here.

I knew what I was going to write about today, but its been stolen from me. Brenda Guiden, who has two brothers, a nephew, an ex-brother-in-law and a friend in prison felt the need to create Prison Expressions, a greeting card company geared toward Incarcerated-Americans. (I made up the Incarcerated-Americans part, but is there any group undeserving of our sympathy and thusly, rating their own hyphenate?) She's created cards for families to send to those in prison; "Yo, Girl, thinking of you". "Mommy, I love you anyway". "Daddy, here's $15.00 for the commissary". There are cards meant for the inmate to send home. "Honey, Stay true". "Send money for smokes". "Sorry I embarrassed you". There are even cards meant for losing lawyers to send to the clients who are now facing 15-25. "It was an honor representing you". "The Judge had it in for you". "The Jury was a bunch of mouth-breathing slackers".

Alas, I had to make up most of the greetings, because Prison Expressions' website has been taken down for some odd reason. I'm loathe to speculate, but is it possible the founders have joined the rest of their family behind bars? Did a beer-fueled brawl break out over who gets the royalties from the cards? Who knows. All I know is that Brenda didn't pay her website bill and cheated me out of a post.

I also had an enrtry in mind about my Bar Mitzvah. Recently, I posted some video of George Harrison's Concert For Bangladesh. At the time (and I'll admit, even now), I thought his suit was the coolest thing EVAR! That's the suit I wanted to wear for my Bar Mitzvah. Really. Alas, boys on the verge of turning 13 are inately unable to tell their parents the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about any subject whatsoever. I told Mom I wanted a white suit for my Bar Mitzvah and left it at that without further explanation. In hindsight, I know I could have just said, "You, know, the one like George Harrison wore", and I might have gotten exactly what I had in mind. But, no. I had to pretend it was an original idea without any outside influence. So, Mom called Great-Aunt-What's-her-name in Miami and I ended up with a horrible white suit that made me look like an out-of-work, Maitre-De. It was horrible. It had a wierd texture that looked like corrugated metal for non-skid stair steps. I can't find a link to a picture of the metal I'm talking about and I can't find a picture of me in the horrible suit. So, I can't write about the horrible suit.

As most of you know, I've been trying to convert a DVD that includes my adorable 4-year-old self to a format that will allow me to show it to you all. So far...Fail!

So, all of my well-laid plans are coming to naught this morning. But on the other hand, I've got a firmly established tradition of telling you guys what I'm not going to tell you about.

So...score! This blogging is really easy when you make sure expectations are low.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Get Me Rewrite. Take 2...And The Writing Begins

OK, since Michelle was bored and since I have the attention span of a soapdish and since I have the patience of a three-year-old, we're starting the writing early. Shawn and MWT have said they're ready to go, so I put them first in the on-deck circle. The rest of the writers are in order of how I literally pulled their names out of a hat. (A Red Sox cap, if you must know.)
Note: I'm still going to leave this open to more people as long as they sign up by Noon on Sunday. Just ask to be included in the comment thread and I'll add you to the lineup.

Shawn Powers, Part 2
MWT, Part 3
Eric, Part 4
Matt Warnock, Part 5
Jeri, Part 6
Saqib, Part 7
Michelle K., Part 8
Vince, Part 9
Kimberly-Ann, Part 10
Tom, Part 11
Kate, Part 12
Justin Ryan, Part XIII
Bryan, Part, The 14th
Tania, Part 15
Charles Duggelson, Part 16
Part 17, from me.
Part 18 from Shawn Powers.
Part 19 from MWT.
Part 20 from Eric.
Part XXI from Matt.
Part 22 from Jeri.
Part 23 from Saqib.
Part 24 from Michelle.
Part 25 from Vince.
Part 26 from Kimby
Part 27 from Tom.
Part 28 from Kate.
Part 29 from Bryan (that I somehow missed linking here when it went up. oops)
Part 30 from Charles.
There's two new parts today! One from Justin and another from Tania.

And Now everyone who wants to has been invited to post a final entry. Once they're all in (by Noon April 24th), we'll decide which one is the official ending.

Eric has posted this as his entry.
And here's mine.
And Michelle's.

Important Note: Justin, my link for you is broken, non-functional, pffffft! Please post your link again in the comments below. Oops. My bad

How it works:

Each participant's entry should be in the range of 100 to 500 words. All entries will be a sequel to the person's entry before them so that it becomes one coherent story-line. We're looking for two entries per day (one morning, one evening) and we'll each write a second entry when our turn comes around again. When you put up your entry please link the following: 1. This post for people who want to start from the beginning, 2.) the post of the entry preceding your, and 3.) the blog address for the person who will be following you. (It'll be nice to try to edit your link to the actual following post once its up. I'll be trying to keep them current here as well.) Vince's parts will be posted on my blog and he'll email me his entry which he can do easily from the link on my profile.

At the end of this post, you'll find the first part of the Moi. Each subsequent writer, (reacting to the portion immediately before theirs), must change one significant element of the story. You can change the gender of one character. You can change the season. You can change the locale. You can change the time period. You can change any element but only one element. (The only exception is that if you change a character's gender, you may change that character's name to fit the gender if necessary, but you should do what you can so that readers recognize that its the same character [i.e. Sam could remain Sam, Joe could become Josie, etc.]). Also, you may switch from Third Person narrative to First Person or vice-versa, but that does not count as your one significant change. Your change could also be to return something to the way it was before (Summer could become Winter again), but you can't change the same element that the person immediately before you changed.

You may also choose to follow the story by writing about a character who may have only been secondary to that point, but you must make it coherently flow from what's come before and the character you're following must have been in the portion of the story immediately preceding yours.

So, without further ado, I give you:

Sophie from Shinola, part 1

As much as she was trying to hide it, Sophie knew her anxiety was as apparent as the landing beacons at shuttleport 3. She was fidgeting and alternated between swinging her legs and stopping to pick at one of the twin scabs on her knees. Both actions brought a remarkably similar reaction from he mother; “Sit still, Sophie”, “Leave that be Sophie.”

Sophie was trying to be calm, but everything was riding on this interview. She had only just turned 11 the previous week, and so, she was now old enough to apply for SpaceForce Training Academy. And she desperately wanted to be accepted.

She glanced once more at the receptionist sitting pinch-faced and silent behind her little protective counter. When they’d arrived for the interview the lady (Ms. Wilberforce, her placard declared), had told them they’d be called when the interviewers were ready for them. She hadn’t even looked up from her display (which Sophie noticed was tuned to one of the more garish celebrity gossip channels). Now, Ms. Wilberforce was completely engrossed in filing her long chartreuse nails. Sophie, young as she was, already felt a deeply abiding distaste for people grooming in public. “Is she gonna start flossing next?”, she thought.

Sophie didn’t know what she’d do if she wasn’t accepted into the Academy. With the certitude of all 11-year-olds, she knew that if she wasn’t accepted, she’d be stuck here on Chenolla VI for the rest of her life. And that, obviously was a fate worse than death. Chenolla VI had only reached the point in its terraforming 60 years earlier where it could begin to support life and start to be colonized. Her parents had signed on with the third wave of colonists, so it wasn’t exactly like they were starting from scratch, but face it; Chenolla VI was a pit without much going for it. The mining operations and the planetary fisheries were the only things that made the planet worth maintaining in the first place and were also responsible for the God-awful stink that pervaded the place.

Sophie’s parents both worked in the clerical section at the beryllium mine just outside of town. The presence of beryllium in such vast amounts was one of the only things that made the planet unique in any way. Otherwise, the place was just one more fairly cold rock hurtling ceaselessly through space. Sophie saw absolutely no future for herself here and this interview was her only chance to get off. On top of that, Sophie’d been addicted to stories about SpaceForce since she had learned to read. All the stories were available on readers, but Sophie’s father actually had a collection of over 1200 titles on actual paper. He’d been collecting them since he was Sophie’s age and she cherished the collection, having worked her way through almost half of the them.

Objectively, Sophie knew that the real SpaceForce wasn’t all adventure and excitement, but compared to Chenolla VI, anything had to be an improvement. “Jeez”, she though, “What’s taking so long?”

Part 2 is up on Shawn's blog.
Part 3 is up on MWT's blog.
Part 4 is up on Eric's blog.
Part 5 is up on Matt's Blog.
Part 6 is up on Jeri's blog..
Part 7 is up on Saqib's blog.
And Part 8 is up on Michelle's blog. (Wow, that was quick)
Part 9 from Vince is up on my blog.
Part 10 is up on Kimby's blog.
Part 11 is up on Tom's blog.
Part 12 is up on Kate's blog.
Part 12 plus 1 is up on Justin's new underblog.
Part, The 14th is up from Bryan on Jeri's Joint.
Part 15 is now on Tania's blog.
Part 16 is now on Charles's blog.
I've posted Part 17.
Shawn has posted Part 18.
MWT has posted Part 19.
Eric has posted Part 20.
Matt who prefers Roman Numerals has posted Part XXI.
Jeri has posted Part 22.
Saqib has posted Part 23.
Michelle has posted Part 24.
Vince has posted Part 25,
Kimby has posted Part 26.
Tom has posted Part 27.
Kate has posted Part 28.
Bryan posted Part 29 a couple of days ago and I suck for missing the update here.
Charles has posted Part 30.
Justin has posted what might be an ending...but Tania chimes in too.

Pardon Me While I Yawn In Your General Direction.

Another day, another blog post. I knew when I started this thing that I might have trouble coming up with content, but I had no idea how hard it really is coming up with stuff to babble about. You'd think the world would throw interesting stuff at me often enough to come up with one thing I thought was amusing enough, or infuriating enough, or retarded enough to holler about once a day. Well, I've been watching the Today Show and I've scanned Fark and I just don't give much of a crap about anything going on in the world today.

A sampling of what I don't care that much about? NBC has been flogging tonight's Dateline. Their main story is the one about those two girls who were mid-identified after a car crash. One family was told their daughter had died and had a funeral. Another family held a bedside vigil for the wrong girl in a coma. Hey, I think the look pretty similar to begin with. Throw on a bunch of bandages, some swelling and bruising and I'm not surprised they could have been mistaken for each other. Yawn.

There's also the story about someone taking potshots at traffic on I-64 in Virginia. This quote caught my attention. "We're talking the mountains up here, and the first thing you usually think of is drunk rednecks." Beyond that...not so interested.

Governor David Paterson has gone a day or so without revealing any other potential problems. Ex-Governor Eliot Spitzer has gone a week or so without being arrested for anything. And Ex-Governor Jim McGreevey hasn't publicly committed any patriotic homosexuality in I don't know how long. My area Governors apparently don't give a shit whether or not I have anything to blog about.

The Daily Mail is all aflutter about cottage cheese. I'm not even sure who Mischa Barton is, so I'm bored. Yawn.

I mean, Jeez. As far as I know, nobody in Wisconsin even did anything worth writing about. I can usually count on the Cheeseheads. Slackers!

I'm going back to bed. Wake me up when something happens.

In the meantime, I'll let Life Below The Line entertain you. Most of it rings true.

Update!! I forgot to update the "This is National....Day" and discovered that its National Something On A Stick Day! If that's not worth getting excited about, I don't know what is. I'm gonna go right out and celebrate this auspicious occasion.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Things You're Not Going To Get Today. An Apparently Recurring Theme.

A couple of years ago, someone in my family took a whole bunch of old super-8 films and had them burned onto a dvd. These films start in 1954, waaay before I made my grand appearance. The go through 1964, so I'm included from infancy to 4 years of age. I had intended to post some pieces from it today, but, alas, all the files are saved as things like VTS_01_0.BUP and .IFO and .VOB. Unfortunately, I don't even know what kind of files those are, much less how to post them to my blog. So no young Nathan for you today.

If anyone knows what those file extensions mean, and/or know how to make them into MPEGS, let me know and then you'll get to laugh at my early steps. (And my big sister in her cats-eye glasses is to die for.)

I've got iMovie and iDVD if that helps.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Red Sox in First Place!

The Red Sox played the first regular season game in MLB against the Oakland A's in Japan.

6-5 Red Sox after a ten inning game. Red Sox have the best record in MLB.

Suck it Yankees!

I Need To Write Faster.

Those of you who have been reading There's No Crying in the War Room know that I started the book years ago. Those of you who read the introduction on the website know that originally, I intended to have my candidate win the popular vote but lose the electoral college. Then Al Gore came along and did that very thing so I abandoned that idea because it was no longer such a unique "how could that happen" sorta idea. (Anybody who want to whine that it didn't happen and and Gore really won and GWB stole the election and Florida needs to be evicted from the Union and space aliens ate your baby should feel free to comment on GetOverIt,ItHappenedAndThere'

So, anyway, as you know, I've dusted off my WIP (I read writer's blogs and learn nifty acronyms!), and I've posted it and I've been writing new chapters that I'm (mostly) quite happy with. I'm currently stuck on the next chapter that's due, but the dog ate my homework and some stuff was lost in the flood and that tornado struck and the only thing lost was the notepad with the great idea and I was going to write it yesterday but I had to take an online personality exam. Yes, I owe you a new chapter and I'm working on it and if you've got a problem with me, please comment at the above referenced website.

So, back to the point of this post. I need to write faster. A week ago yesterday, David Paterson took the oath of office to replace Eliot Spitzer as New York's Governor. Within 24 hours, both he and his wife publicly acknowledged that they had had extramarital affairs. Over the next couple of days they partially outed themselves regarding who the other participants were in these affairs. This was followed up by Paterson admitting that he might have paid for some of his hotel rooms with a credit card drawing on campaign funds, but he had always reimbursed the campaign. Yesterday, in an interview, Davey admitted that he had smoked pot and used cocaine a few times in his early 20's. I'm fully expecting him to announce tomorrow that he spent a few years as an intern to Dr. Jack Kevorkian. "I only picked up his dry cleaning."

So, back to the point again. Here's the question. Is David Paterson reading my book from a blocked IP and I should feel honored that he's taking his cues from little-old-me? Or am I writing too slowly and letting reality outpace me. Would Network have seemed so prescient if it were released in 1990?

Regardless of the answer to the above question, I obviously need to get my ass in gear. Otherwise, my book is going to look like an article in the NY Times Sunday Magazine instead of a work of fiction. Damn!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Adventures In Shopping

This morning, in response to yesterday's post, Michelle asks, "So what about those of us who have stores with good customer service?"

My response? Sheer, unadulterated, green-eyed, shopping cart rage, on the verge of losing it, envy! Don't get me wrong; I love Brooklyn. I love the people here. But GF and I have often noticed the the only thing worse than the salespeople in most Brooklyn stores is the people shopping in Brooklyn Stores. I exempt most "Mom & Pop" or "boutique" types of stores, but once a store gets more than three aisles or has to hire people they don't actually know in their daily lives, its a steep downhill ride.

As I alluded to yesterday, the shelves at Target were strangely bare on Saturday. The express checkout was stacked 20-30 people deep. And this is one of the good places to go. In the same "mall", there used to be a Caldor, or it might have been a Marshall's. (Actually, I'm pretty sure both have been in the same space, but the experience was indistinguishable.) Going in there was horrible. First of all the salespeople had no idea where anything was. Maybe they were all hired that morning. Their idea of stocking shelves was to roll a palette-jack piled high with merchandise into the middle of an aisle and walk away. There was merchandise on the floors and just plain strewn all over the place. Trying to pay for stuff, we had to wait in line while the cashier and manager had a screaming fight over whether or not the cashier was taking too many breaks. And the most amazing sight in the store was the three women opening the little eggs and trying on pantyhose in the middle of the store!

Most people love a visit to Home Depot. All I've got to say is, "you've never been to the one in Red Hook, Brooklyn." Once again, about 50% of the staff knows what the stuff is in their own department. Try to find some item in another department and the knowledge drops to about 20% of the folks working there. But that's O.K. Long before you get frustrated with the guy who can't tell you where the 1/2" cove molding is, (much less what it is), you'll be frustrated with the inability to get any of their attention to ask the question in the first place. And good luck getting someone to show up this week to help you get something off of the shelf that's 16' off the ground. The one thing we have had burned into our brains is that you don't want to show up 1/2 hour after sundown on Saturday. The Hassid do-it-yourselfers show up en-masse as soon as the Sabbath is over. And there's at least five in every family.

Our nearest grocery store has renovated in the last couple of years. Its now bright and shiny and the aisles our now wide enough to have two carts pass each other without wiping all of the "Fruity Bran Flakes" off of the shelf. Or it would be if the store did their re-stocking while closed like they do in the rest of America. So every aisle has a stack of boxes waiting to be shelved or a kid on a rolling cart stocking the high shelves. And the stack is always blocking access to the tomato paste you went there for in the first place.

So, yeah Michelle. I'm totally jealous. But on the other hand, as I may have mentioned before, I've got 12 really good restaurants just in the 3 surrounding blocks. And they all deliver if I'm too lazy to walk 3 blocks. I guess I can live with the trade-offs. (And the first person to mention Dominos is gonna get such a knock up-side the head. I think we've covered that.)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Red Face. Let Me Show You It.

In 1995, Clifford Stoll wrote an article for Newsweek magazine, the gist of which was, "The truth is no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works."

He goes on, later in the article to say, 'Logged onto the World Wide Web, I hunt for the date of the Battle of Trafalgar. Hundreds of files show up, and it takes 15 minutes to unravel them--one's a biography written by an eighth grader, the second is a computer game that doesn't work and the third is an image of a London monument. None answers my question, and my search is periodically interrupted by messages like, "Too many connections, try again later."'
My GoogleSearch for "date of the battle of waterloo" yields 894,000 hits in 0.29 seconds. The first three include June 18, 1815 in the titles. This is obviously too hard, too hit or miss.

Furthermore, he poo-poos the future of E-business.

"We're promised instant catalog shopping--just point and click for great deals. We'll order airline tickets over the network, make restaurant reservations and negotiate sales contracts. Stores will become obselete. So how come my local mall does more business in an afternoon than the entire Internet handles in a month? Even if there were a trustworthy way to send money over the Internet--which there isn't--the network is missing a most essential ingredient of capitalism: salespeople."

Well, I mentioned yesterday that I was going to spend the day using up leftover Christmas Gift Cards? One of them was for Target. We looked on line first, but we wanted to go to the store and see some of this stuff in person before plunking down our cash. They didn't have any of the things we wanted on the shelves. After going out for lunch, we came home and placed our order online, which qualified us for free shipping and a 15% discount. And we sent money over the Internet. And that essential ingredient of capitalism: salespeople? I don't know how many of you have visited a Big-Box store in Brooklyn, but I can assure you that nobody visits those stores here for the quality of their salespeople.

In fairness, Stoll seems to have been right and visionary on a lot of things. He just got this part of things completely wrong. He now sells Klein Bottles online. (If you don't know what those are, just Google it.)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Saturday Schmorgasboard

Rolling Rock beer claimed it was going to put its logo on the full moon last night with a laser projector. I took a look and didn't see anything. Anybody else know anything about this? And if you look at the parties they sponsored, you may note that one of them was right there in the thriving metropolis of Parker, CO. Anything you want to tell us Janiece. Is your head OK this morning?

Second on the list today is the Asshats at Lauer Custom Weaponry Click on the "Bloomberg Collection" button on the left to see the "Brooklyn Blue" and "Manhattan Red" and all the other models. This is meant as a slap at Mayor Bloomberg for him daring to sue some Gun Stores that sold weapons without following federal regulations and then those same guns showed up involved in NYC crimes. Now, I don't care which side of the Gun Control argument you're on, but does anybody think a hand gun painted to look like a toy is a good idea? I mean, even if you think all law abiding citizens should be given a .45 with their Social Security card, do you think we should be making it harder for cops to tell the real thing from a toy? (BTW, Fark has its "Florida" tag. I'll be paying extra special attention to Wisconsin.)

Lastly, at least for the moment, I got an email the other day from someone I know telling me they liked my review of Shallow Graves. When I emailed back asking why "J" didn't just say so in the comments, "J" replied, "I'm shy". C'mon everybody, help me drag that lurker out of the shadows. And while we're on the subject, all other lurkers (I know you're out there), are invited to say hi.

That's all I've got for the moment. GF and I are going to spend the day spending the pile of Gift Cards that've been sitting around since Christmas.

Friday, March 21, 2008

I'm Just a Giver. I Really Can't Help Myself!

So yesterday over at Whatever, we played "What's your favorite Beatles song?" In that spirit, I'll ask what's your favorite "Post Beatles" song. This is open to solo careers, mashups like the Traveling Wilburys, etc. The only rule is that the ex-Beatle involved has to have been one of the writers.

I'm going for George Harrison's Wah Wah. I really don't know why. The lyrics don't make a lick of sense. I just like the sound of it. Here's two versions for you. The first is from The Concert for Bangladesh. The second is from The Concert for George. It doesn't sound quite as good as the George Harrison version, but just look at what a blast they're all having playing it. And Ringo Starr and some other guy I probably should recognize are just beating the living crap out of those two drum set. Enjoy. Oh, and you can't sync them up. I tried. (Woulda been cool tho, huh?)

Filming the Flop Factor

I'm sure most of you have looked at the "Goofs" pages on IMDB. They're full of "crew reflected in car door" and "Actor's left lapel inverted in Close-up shot" kind of notations. Its actually kind of a miracle that every movie isn't full of these mistakes from beginning to end. There are millions of tiny details to keep track of. The Script Supervisor actually makes notations about things like the length of a cigarette when a specific line is delivered, or how much iced tea is in the glass and stuff like that. That's in addition to keeping track of what lens is in use, any filters on the lens, who is moving from left to right and vice-versa, and on and on and on. Yeah, this is a job I wouldn't want.

Anyway, those are the types of things that come up while you're shooting. There's a bunch of other details we try to deal with during pre-production. I get to sit through tons of meetings where we're discussing stuff that either relates to me directly, tangentially, or not at all. (I'm pretty good at faking an in-coming phone call from somebody I've been trying to reach for days!)

One of the most common things we meet about is weather. Will the leaves be green enough by the time we start shooting, or brown enough or whatever. Other than trying to schedule exterior scenes early or late in the shooting schedule, this isn't a subject we've got a whole lot of control over. But that doesn't mean the Director won't try. On one movie, the director actually had a long conversation where he wanted to use Agent Orange in NYC. "We'd just spray it on individual trees. It's not like we're going to just indescriminately spray it over the whole city." Another Director wanted the option of painting leaves brown and having a truck-load of dead leaves to be spread on the ground. This conversation was resolved after an hour of back and forth when the Producer proclaimed, "We're not making a movie about fucking leaves." (The prop master was told to always have a bag or two of dead leaves on hand.)

When we made Paradise, the big problem to be solved was The Flop Factor. If you've never seen the film, Don Johnson owns a shrimp boat and there's some scenes of him bonding with Elijah Wood while out shrimping. We couldn't just actually put out the nets and catch shrimp, because shrimping season hadn't opened yet in South Carolina. In fact, the only reason we had any shrimp boats available to us was because shrimp season hadn't opened yet. (Incidentally, shrimp season in South Carolina opens when someone from the Fisheries Dept. takes shrimp samples from some spot in the estuaries and determines that they're big enough to start shrimping, so we didn't have any specific date that we knew we'd lose the shrimp boats to their actual purpose.)

So, anyway, we had lots of meetings to discuss what would come pouring out of the nets when we dumped them on the deck. It was decided that it would be mostly dead fish and frozen shrimp and other stuff bought from a seafood wholesaler. But, there had to be something live and jumping around when we dumped the nets...The Flop Factor! I can't tell you how many meetings I sat through that returned to trying to come up with some scientific formula for determining what percentage of the seafood had to be live to have a sufficient flop factor.

On another movie, we were shooting in Toronto, but we were doubling it for New York. The Production Meeting came to a screeching halt when the Director said, "Ya'know, I've noticed that all the squirrels here are black. Are there black squirrels in New York?" Well, everyone at the table other than me was from L.A. or Toronto, so all eyes turned to me. Now, I'm pretty sure I've seen some black squirrels in NY, but mostly our squirrels are gray, so I said, "Yeah, some of the squirrels in NY are black." I thought that would answer the question adequately and the meeting would get back on track, but the Director was fixated. He follows this up with, "OK, Nathan, but how many of the NY squirrels are black?" Clearly, we had left my area of expertise, but I was the only one at the table who might even have a clue and the Director wanted to know. After pausing a moment, I said, "Seventeen. We have seventeen black squirrels in NYC." Everybody seemed satisfied with this answer and we moved on.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

I Was A Thespian.

I'll start by being off topic. Hey, its what I do. So, I comment on other peoples' blogs and you guys all convinced me to start my own blog, which means I talk a lot on line. Does anyone else have trouble remembering "Did I talk about that already"? I do. I'm absolutely sure I've never mentioned this one.

I went to Emerson College in Boston with the intention of being an actor. I think I was pretty good at it. I got most of the parts I auditioned for. Eventually, two things made me abandon the acting bug. First, I realized that success meant doing the same freakin' play 8 times a week. This did not appeal to me. Second, and how do I put this delicately, I thought all the other actors were a bunch of self-absorbed, necrotic assholes. I decided that this wasn't the world for me.

But anyway (we're back on topic now), toward the end of my freshman year, I was cast in a Noel Coward play. I have no memory of which one it was, but I was in it. I think we did a total of five performances. The last one was to be on a Saturday night and there'd be a wrap party afterwards. At the time, I'd had the hots for some girl for a few weeks and had never gotten up the nerve to say anything to her. I told a friend about it and he said, "Dude, you're in a show and there's a wrap party. You totally need to invite her to the show and the party. She'll totally think you're the coolest guy ever." (This is the same guy who harassed me endlessly to participate in the protest about Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant's opening. "It's a the most important issue there is. We need to stop this or they'll destroy the planet", he said. On the day of the protest, I ran into him when he was coming out of a bar in Kenmore Square. When I asked him why he wasn't at the protest, he said, "Well, its not worth getting my head beat in.")

Anyway, in my fevered 19-year-old brain inviting her to a wrap party seemed like a can't lose proposition. So, I invited her to the show. By inviting, I mean I kinda told her I was in a play and that going would be free and if she went, she'd get to see me act. I'm pretty sure I did everything possible to make sure that if she didn't want to see this as a date, I had let her off the hook.

CUT TO: The night of the play. I make my entrance at the end of Act 1. I'm in a fat suit and I have powder in my hair to make me look gray. I'm smoking a pipe. I deliver two lines and sit in a wicker rocking chair. My job, at this point is to sit in the rocking chair and rock. I need to make eye contact with my co-stars. I need to puff on my pipe meaningfully. I don't have any lines in Act 2. In Act 3, the final Act, I have a couple of killer lines. Steal the show, if I'm good, kind of lines. I killed in the first four performances.

So, anyway, I make my entrance, deliver my lines to a warm reception and sit in the wicker rocking chair. Two things happened at this point. First, I looked out into the audience and what did I see? The friend who'd advised me to invite the love of my life to the show is sitting with her in the front row! And they're not paying any attention to the show whatsoever. Why? Because he's got his tongue shoved so deep down her throat that he can tell me what her kidneys taste like. Of course, I find this distracting, but I've got all of Act 2 to get my shit together before I have to deliver another line. I puff on the pipe frantically.

But then, the true tragedy of the evening occurs. Remember, I've got a fat suit on. I'm shifting furiously in the wicker rocking chair. The backside of the fat suit is held together with safety pins. One of the safety pins comes loose and somehow, not only gets embedded in the wicker, but then stabs me in my actual skinny ass. It hurt. It hurt a lot. But I'm a thespian. The show must go on and all that crap. So for the next Act and a half, I'm puffing my pipe and making meaningful eye contact with the other actors and shifting around in an unsuccessful attempt to disengage my ass from a long sharp safety pin...while watching my ex-best friend make out with the girl of my dreams.

I bet you think this story has some totally triumphant ending. Sure you do. Not so much. When the play ended, I was still impaled on my safety pin. The rest of the cast lined up on the proscenium and took their bows. I scooted the rocking chair around to face the audience and rocked at them. I waited patiently for the audience to leave. My friend and the object of affection came up and said something I don't remember and left, groping each other the entire time.

When the room was finally empty I stood up, ripping the fat suit and pulling the safety pin out of my ass. Then I went to TGI Friday's where my roommate was a bartender and had a bunch of fruity drinks for free. My only revenge was that she broke his heart two weeks later. I totally refused to do anything to try to console him. Hah! Take that.

I'm pretty sure my existance never registered on her radar.

This is my inspirational Thursday post. You're welcome.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Polymessimous part II

Update: I think I've got this whole thing figured out now. However, the instructions have a warning that my site could be down for as much as 48 hours while some sort of magic internetty turnover happens, so I'm going to wait until the weekend to try this. That way if I break the internet, I won't screw with too many people's work week.

Ok, here's where we are. will still forward you here but I've turned off the masking. I seem to have a couple of options short of moving to Word Press (and know, I don't want to pay to blog at the moment or to get into a bunch of coding I don't understand. That may come sometime in the future, but not now, thank you very much.)

Option 1.

I can simply change the address of the blog to by following this set of instructions.

That's definitely better than where we are now (getting rid of my lame musings, etc.), but it seems just a little bit clunky.

Blogger offers me the option of buying a domain. But I've already bought my domain. This doesn't seem to be what I want.

But over there on the right side of the screen, it says "Already own a domain? Switch to Advanced Settings." OK, lets see what they have to say over there.

So, does anyone know if I plug into that little window if that will change the url and continue being free stuff here? Or would I have to set up hosting somewhere? Like I said above, I'm not ready to do anything like that yet. So who knows what all of this means?


So, Tom sent me an email offering to help with the whole Polybloggimous URL question. He pointed out that GoDaddy is masking everything with if you came in with that in, if you click a link, it takes you there, but the URL bar up top and the tab, if you have multiples open, still says Polybloggimous. Or if you click on a specific entry, same don't see the specific URL extension for the entry. Which means that all the thousands of people who want to link to an example of my shear genius are going to be SOL. And that's not good.

I'm looking into what I can do to resolve this. GoDaddy says there's no way to only mask the home page. They say I need to fix it with Blogger. There's a couple of options I saw within Blogger's setup, but I don't want to do anything precipitous.

So, for now, I own a domain and you shouldn't use it. Until further notice, please continue to use the address.

Thank you,

The Management

Completely Useless and Wonderful.

Yeah. Drive a car around a map. Kewl!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Barak Obama gave a speech today on race relations in America. The transcript is here, or there's embedded video if you'd prefer to hear him deliver the speech. A few things strike me about this speech. First, without discounting the existence of racism in present-day America, he's more concerned with how far we've come and where he firmly believes we're headed. He acknowledges white middle-class resentment to affirmative action at the same time he acknowledges blacks and brown people and Asians who still have reason to feel marginalized.

Second, while he condemns many of the statements of his former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, he refuses to "disown" him. In doing so, he reminds us all that there is much that we don't say in "polite company", but if whites thinks blacks aren't speaking bluntly when they don't think whites are in the room, we're nuts. I find this refreshingly candid and honorable in a way I almost never see in a politician.

Lastly, the Clinton campaign regularly says "speech isn't action" and other things meant to tell us that being inspirational isn't the same thing as being effective. Well, you know what? As far as I'm concerned, the last President who was truly inspirational was assassinated when I was three years old. I'd like to have an inspirational President. I think there's real value to having a President who can inspire and speak in language worth quoting.

I decided a few weeks ago that Obama was my preference, but honestly, I wasn't a very ardent supporter. As of today, I'm firmly in Obama's camp. I want him for my next President. He makes me see possibilities.

Governors: A Love Story

I officially live in the best damned part of the country. You guys out in the hinterlands may get your political sex scandals every now and then, but we get 'em with a quantity discount.

Last week, outspoken crusader against prostitution, Eliot Spitzer was revealed to be a regular customer. His best selling memoir will be out next week.

Yesterday, David Paterson was sworn in to replace Mr. Spitzer. His inaugural address could easily have been mistaken for a stand-up bit at Caroline's. Shortly after making his speech, he and his wife revealed to the Daily News that they had each had affairs a few years ago, but had patched up their difficulties.

Jim McGreevey, news-whore extraordinaire was not to be outdone. You'll, of course, remember him as the "Gay-American" ex-Governor of New Jersey. So, Dina Matos McGreevey, who is in a bitter custody battle with Jimmy was extremely vocal about Spitzer's indiscretions and Jimmy's ex-chauffer Tim Pederson just couldn't take it any more. In order to contradict Dina's stance that she was blindsided when Jimmy announced that he was gay, Timmy claimed that he took part in a weekly three-way with Jimmy and Dina before he was Governor. Dina says it never happened.

OK, since one of them is obviously lying, how do you prove which one? Will Timmy be describing Dina's birthmarks in court soon? I have no idea, but we'll certainly be hearing more about this than any of us ever cared to know before.

And more importantly, what's the matter with Connecticut Governor, Jodi Rell? Why are you letting NY and NJ grab the spotlight. When do we discover the tawdry details of your relationship with Martha Stewart. How come your protection detail never reported the thousands of dollars you've spent at Chippendale's? C'mon Jodi, fess up. Do your part to keep the Tri-State area great!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Today Polybloggimous. Tomorrow The World!


So, my old lame sucky url will continue to work, but you can also get here now by typing Cause I own it. Yes I do.

Fun Search Results

I got a hit today based on the following Google Search. I think that's pretty funny!

Shallow Graves: A Review

In which we shall have spoilers, foul language, unreasonable rages and liberal use of the Gas Grill of Retribution.

In fact, there is so much to be dealt with here, I'm not sure the Grill can handle it all by itself. I hereby formally request permission to make use of the Clue-by-Four™ and the Shovel-of-Doom®.

Shallow Graves is the first book in Jeffrey Deaver's Location Scout Mystery Series. John Pellam, the hero, scouts locations for movies. He also fights crime. He does not have a cape. Jeffrey Deaver does not have a clue. He probably has a cape. He strikes me as that kind of guy. In all fairness, I'll acknowledge that this book was published in 1992 and the first movie made from a Deaver novel didn't happen until five years later, so he probably had no direct experience. Also, in all fairness, I've been led to believe that some authors have been known to do a thing called research when writing on a subject with which they have little familiarity. In all fairness, this is the last part of this review which will include fairness. Mr. Deaver, the gloves are off.

OK, so the book begins with Pellam and his assistant, Marty in the Winnebago headed back into town after an exhausting day of scouting. Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding. Problem #1. Scouts don't have assistants. There are just other scouts. Who scout. By themselves. As in, nobody pays two fucking scouts to ride around together all day to accomplish the work of one scout. Scouting (at least in the initial stages) is a solitary activity. Scouts are not usually expected to work through the entire production schedule and are budgeted in weeks or even man-days. If you have more than one working at a time, its so that they can cover more territory in a short time.

And what else is wrong on Page One of the book?

"They'd just found an old farmhouse a mile up the road and had offered the astonished owner thirteen hundred dollars to shoot two scenes on his front porch..." There's just so much wrong with that. First of all its an old farmhouse. They want to shoot two scenes there. Its also set in 1992. So, I realize I have no idea what's in these two scenes. Maybe there's a huge explosion. Maybe one is a scene where the entire roster of the N.E. Patriots show up to avenge themselves on the NY Giants. Maybe its like that 1/8 page scene in Gone with the Wind that just says "Atlanta Burns". But, more likely, its some dinky dialog scenes of someone showing up or leaving the farmhouse. Its just as likely that these 2 scenes will be shot before lunch and the company will move somewhere else to shoot for the rest of the day. In 1992, for an old farmhouse, exterior only, in upstate NY, I'd have offered $500. In 2008, for the same thing, I'd probably offer the same. I'd go higher, but that's where I'd start.

Whew. We're done with page one. Anybody need to take a break. Gotta pee? Need some more coffee? Go ahead. I'll wait.

Good, everybody comfortable now? Let's continue.

At one point later in the chapter, Marty and Pellam are going through the Polaroids they shot that day. (I'll just mention, in passing that I don't know what kind of Polaroid he was using that it fit in his pocket, or that he calls the shots 'roids 'cause I've never heard anyone call them 'roids before and it might be time to cue the Shovel-of-Doom--Tong!) Yes, we use Polaroids in the Film Biz. The Costume Department takes a shot of every cast member in every wardrobe change and notes the scene number. The Script Supervisor takes a lot of Polaroids on the set and makes lots of arcane notations I'd never be able to interpret. What do you call a Location Scout who shoots with a Polaroid? A dumbass who's either working for people as dumb as he is, or a dumbass who's gonna get fired in a few hours. Technology changes, but the only time I ever shot anything with a Polaroid, it was because somebody needed to see some detail at a location right now and we didn't have time to send someone over there and to wait an hour to process film. Otherwise, we shoot extensive coverage of a location. We shoot "pans" which are made up of 4 or 5 shots "stitched" together to show the geography and we take some "singles" which are meant to either sell the location or to be what we envision as a frame from the movie, just with the actors missing.

Here's an example of the old way when we shot film.

Here's an example of the new way where everything is digital.

Next, we arrive at one of the most glaring errors in the film. And where to begin. Its really three errors rolled up into one. Yay! Trifecta baby! Deaver has Pellam make a call to the Assistant Producer. Let's stop right there before we get to the content of the phone call. I realize there may be some confusion about the roles of Executive Producers, Co-Producers, Associate Producers, Supervising Producers, Line Producer, Coordinating Producers and whatever title might get invented next week to satisfy someone's need for an Ego Caress.

So, anyway, there are two reasons a Location Scout would never call the Assistant Producer on a movie. The first is that in films, we follow a chain of command. You report to your Department Head. So, the Location Scout would call the Location Manager. As, a Location Manager, I would, at the very least, severely chastise a scout who went outside of that chain without my knowledge. But that's OK. Read the rest of the book and you'll find that this movie doesn't have a Location Manager. Ooops!

The second and more compelling reason that a Location Manager would never call the Assistant Producer is that he doesn't fucking exist. There's no such thing as an Assistant Producer. There might be an Assistant to the Producer. There might be a
Producer's Assistant. But that person does not assist with producing. That person picks up laundry. That person makes dinner reservations. That person finds out who owns the rights to some song from 1953 that the Producer thinks would be great to have on the radio in Scene 92.

On to the content of the call. Pellam plays a neat prank on the non-existent Assistant Producer he should not be speaking to by pretending he got the wrong script and is scouting desert locations in Arizona instead of quaint cemeteries in upstate NY. When I scout, I have some pretty extensive conversations with the Director and the Production Designer before I go out. Believe me, If I start talking about how I think I can get us onto a NASA launch pad, and the script they sent is set in the 1850's, someone will pick up on the glitch long before anyone scouts anything.

Then, in the same conversation, Pellam mentions he's been doctoring the script a little. I've made suggestions about scripts before. It might be that a scene is written as taking place in a restaurant. Its just a conversation. There's nothing about the scene that really calls for a restaurant. The writer just put it there. I might ask if we couldn't do the scene as an exterior "walk and talk". Restaurants are expensive; streets are free or close to it. If the movie has a ton of interiors, taking a scene outside can "open up" the film and make it less claustrophobic.
I would never have the balls to walk into the Directors office and say, "Gee, I don't think Julia would say that to Jeremy. It just doesn't ring true to me. Here, I've revised the scene. See if you don't think its better." Exit Nathan's career, stage left.

Hooboy, we're up to page 37 where Pellam puts his permit in the window of his motor home. As far as I know, NYC is the only place in America that issues scouting permits. 'nuff said.

Later, after Marty is killed, Pellam tries to get info from the local cops. They're strangely unfriendly to him. I find this strange. The first thing I do when I'm pretty sure I'm going to like a location in a town is to go meet the cops and anyone else who I might need. We hire a lot of cops when we shoot in the streets to help with controlling traffic and such. Cops like overtime. Cops like people who hire them and pay them overtime. Cops generally like me.

There's a thing about Pellam not having a cell phone that comes up a number of times in the book. Now, remember, it was published in 1992, so not everyone had a phone then. But here's the thing. I remember distinctly, beginning in about 1989 and going on for the next couple of years, every cell phone manufacturer was falling all over themselves and beating the crap out of their competition for product placement opportunities in movies. The deal they'd make was they'd give a production as many phones as they wanted for free in exchange for you putting their phone in the movie. Needless to say, a Scout working on the other side of the country would have had a phone.

There's references to HoneyWagons as the luxury accommodation on location. Not! Stars have their own trailers. Their contracts specify exactly how big it needs to be and what amenities it must have. The contract will go on to say that if Actor X gets one that's bigger, they you've got to get the same size for Actor Y. A HoneyWagon is a big thing with 6-8 small dressing rooms and bathrooms for the crew. Its for the day players. Its for the 2nd A.D. to have an office. The Producer might use a room on it but only if he wants to show how frugal he is. Let's just analyze this for a moment. The origin of the term HoneyWagon is from the old westerns. They'd have one truck called the Honey Truck. It was called this because it had a few small walled off cubicles containing Honey Buckets. Yup, that's some luxury accommodations.

I made notations about a bunch of other mistakes, but I just can't go on. The thing is that while I'm offended by Deaver's lack of knowledge of the world in which he chooses to place his hero, I'm even more offended by his writing. First off (and here's the spoiler), the whole plot hinges on the fact that one guy who is selling illegal narcotics out of his pharmaceuticals firm doesn't want the movie to come to town because it might expose him. WTF? (And I'll let John tackle the whole scientist angle if he wants.) How the hell is a movie shooting at local cemeteries and farms going to endanger this guy's drug operation especially when he has decreed that no drugs should be sold locally? That's just plain stupid.

And check out this imagery. Two of the bad guys are having dinner in a fancy restaurant. Deaver writes,

"The twins sat at a table with red linen tablecloths; in their laps were thick napkins that left whitecaps of lint on their matching dark slacks.

Whitecaps of lint?
That's just a crime against writing.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Obey The Hype!

Only one more day before Nathan's review of "Shallow Graves"!11!!ll!!!

Yes, folks. Tomorrow, you get my long-awaited review. So, what shall we talk about today?

Well, if any of you missed it, sometime commenter, Todd Wheeler took Third Place in a short story contest over at On The Premises with his entry Nice Shade of Blue. Its good. Go read it!

So, I read the story and then wandered around the rest of the site a little. I may have to visit there some more.

Anyway, Contest #5 is underway over there. The premise for Contest 5 is:


One or more characters *unexpectedly* find one or
more physical objects somewhere. Something about the object(s) raises questions that the characters want answered.

Your challenge: In at least 1,000 but no more than 5,000 words, write a creative, compelling, and well-crafted story that clearly uses the premise.

I'm thinking about trying to write an entry. I had an idea, but it sounds too Twilight Zone-y to really work. Here's the idea:

It would start, Ted found himself walking down a wide, deserted boulevard. The surroundings looked familiar but Ted couldn't remember ever having been there before. Logically, he knew he must have been there before; he knew there'd be a bicycle shop on the next corner before he got there. But it all seemed more like Deja-vu instead of actual knowledge.

He turned into an alley following a sudden compunction. On the ground he saw a polished piece of metal. Bending to pick it up, he saw that it was smooth and fit his palm perfectly. It was shaped like a smooth clamshell and had a line around it that seemed to indicate it might be something he could open. There were no buttons or indentations that might be the means of opening the object. Also, it seemed much heavier than an object this size should have been.

The story would go on to detail how he tries to figure out what the object is and specifically how to open it. When he finally succeeds in opening it, the following paragraph ends the story:

Ted found himself walking down a wide, deserted boulevard. The surroundings looked familiar but Ted couldn't remember ever having been there before. Logically, he knew he must have been there before; he knew there'd be a bicycle shop on the next corner before he got there. But it all seemed more like Deja-vu instead of actual knowledge.

OK, I'm not really asking if this is a good idea or not. I'm not a big fan of stories that have a Twilight Zone, surprise ending as the entire payoff. They always feel like a cheap trick on the least to me, they feel that way. So what am I asking you?

Your mission today, should you choose to accept it, is to suggest a premise to me. "That's Cheating," I can hear you howling. Why, yes. Yes it is. And why are you all right? Mostly because today is "National Everything You Know is Right Day!"

So, since we've already established that getting story ideas from you all would be cheating, why don't you just tell me something else that you know is right than I might not have known about.

(And yes, I'll acknowledge that other than pointing you to Todd's story, this is a fairly lame post. They can't all be gems.)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

What You Are Getting Today!

This makes more sense if you've read the post after this one, but I didn't have the patience to wait an hour to post it because I'm a blurter.

Ken Levine posted this video on his blog today.

Its the 1986 Dodgers in the height of 1986 fashion, singing in the height of 1986 style. And a mere 22 years later, we look at it and go, "Ha, Ha. Look at those silly 1986 people who thought they looked good in those shiny pastels and thought those dance moves were actually cool. Ha, Ha. Silly 1986 people."

Well, I've got news for you all. Someone, somewhere, right this very minute, is being a silly 2008 person, providing fodder for 2030 giggles. Oh, yes they are!

So, here's the question. Which bit of fashionable clothing will reap the most gales of laughter in 22 years? What hairstyle will prove the dorkiest and most worthy of derision ala the now-famous "flock of seagull" cut? What snippet of music will garner the "What were they thinking" gasp?

Contributions including links are invited.

Number Two in a Series: Things You're Not Going to Get Today.

I've finished Shallow Graves. I've written a review. You're not going to get it today.

"What?", I can hear you all screaming. "We've waited patiently! Why don't we get the review today?"

A couple of reasons. First, contrary to what any of you say, I know that readership falls off on the weekend. I don't want to waste a perfectly good post on a Saturday. You only have you own surfing habits to blame. Second, truth be told, I'm not totally satisfied with the review. It needs more invective. It also needs more cursing, which I've been rationing. What's the use of holding something back if you don't use it effectively once the moratorium expires.

So, you're not getting the review today.

Friday, March 14, 2008

In Praise of Spellcheck.

Spellcheck dozen love me, know it dozen.
Eye tail it two look closer, ewes sum imagination
Butt it lest me make such egregious Miss Steaks.

Eye know Eye should bee care fuller
And proof reed righting myself.
Microsoft gave me spellcheck though
And aisle con tin ewe two deep end on it.

Ewe just cant beet technology.

This guy has a Homonym List. Only problem is that they're all Homophones, not homonyms. In fairness, click on his name it goes to another page and about half-way down, he acknowledges that his child has now taught him the difference, but for some reason, he doesn't want to change the title. Therefore, since everything on the internet is true, let's please arrange to have all the dictionaries changed.

Lastly, for your viewing pleasure. I ran across Stephen Hanson's site which I deem shiny and full of most excellent illustrations.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

My &^%&$@((*#@^&&, *(*&(#^(*# Language.

GF was reading the blog last night and said I've been cursing an awful lot lately. Fair enough. I'm now rationing myself. Nothing but Hecks and Dangs until I post my Location Scout Mysteries Review. Got a feeling I'm gonna need free reign with the vocabulary for that one.

Things You Won't Be Getting From Me Today.

I'm sure you've all experienced, the "Ooooh, here's a good thing to blog about," moment, followed by the "Ooooooh, never mind," moment. I had a few of those yesterday. So, please take a moment to digest the things I'm not going to tell you about today.

1. Recipes.

I planned to post my first recipe yesterday. Its a really good one that combines the concept of Antipasto and sandwiches. Since I'm not capable of following a recipe without messing with it, I screwed it up. Its a mix of hams and salamis and tangy veggies baked between puff pastry that's delicious. I substituted too many tangy veggies and got something with way too much drippyness. It was tasty as hell, but not very photogenic. So, no recipe for you.

2. Chapter 36.

I haven't written it yet. By that, I don't mean I'm not satisfied, or I'm still editing or I'm stuck or anything like that. I mean I haven't written it yet. I haven't even put down words that I hate. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. I haven't even tried yet and I'm pissed at myself for that. I promise to remedy the situation.

3. American Idol Review.

I watched Idol on Tuesday night and started keeping track of the performances as they were happening. My comments were...not interesting. Let me clarify. I liked the show. I had opinions about the relative quality of the performances. I bored myself to tears with my written opinions. No review for you.

4. Commentary on MWT's Algebra Post.

I didn't comment there and I won't comment here. I have no idea what any of those different formulae are. Have I mentioned I'm not that great at math? Not even enough to go into what John would classify as "not real science"? I do get points for knowing the proper plural for formula, though.

5. A Rant.

I'm sure if I looked for it I'd find something going on in the world that freaks me out to no end. Whatever it is, I'm blissfully unaware of it at the moment. I'm not going out of my way to do anything to change this situation.

6. Inside Info.

Yesterday, I got an email out of the blue from a friend working on a movie. All it said was "OMG, ******* has a really huuuuge head". This made me laugh a lot. I'm not telling you who. Hah!