Friday, December 15, 2006

Whew.



Well. That's that.

I had this whole huge diatribe explaining why I hadn't posted since...well, I guess since the Colonials got off of New Caprica...but the whole thing was really only half true, and not even half interesting. Essentially, the power cable for my laptop finally gave out, after almost 2 years of me having to cajole it into place every day. I love Apple, but their power cords suck (The new MagSafe adaptors seem like a huge step forward, though). Anyway, I bought a 3rd party adaptor, but there were problems with the site I bought it from, and they didn't ship it until almost 2-3 weeks after I bought it. Problems with the website. Whatever. The important thing is I had no power, and now I do.

But even after I got the cord, I couldn't bring myself to post. So that whole explanation kind of falls flat. Although, in my defense I WAS busy with end of the semester things (Papers, Finals, shooting Films, writing Spec Pilots, etc.). Anyway, that's all over now, and I'm sitting comfortably in Chad and Amy's house for the weekend, before heading back to Virginia.

A lot has happened in the intervening time, and I hate it when people try to sum up absolutely everything that's happened, so I won't bore you. There's probably some stuff I really wouldn't talk about anyway. But the things that are of importance to the people reading this blog are as follows:

I shot a movie. A short project for Screen Directing, I regrettably hadn't prepared or even thought about it until it was almost too late, and I was forced to come up with an idea, cast it, and shoot the thing in less than a week. Exciting, to be sure, but not the best way to come out with something good. I decided to rely mostly on improvisation from the actors--which worked at times, and really didn't in others. It got to be very aggravating and honestly quite scary as a director, because half the time I didn't really know, nor was I in control of what was going on.

I think the end product came out alright, but it's definitely not my best work out of all my college films. All I know is that from now on I want to do as little improv as possible. Next time, I'm going to have a finished, polished, well-written script based on a solid concept ready before I even think about filming.

Also, I wrote a Pilot. Kind of. I finished a first draft, but it is - as most all first drafts are - a piece of shit. I'm pretty sure that I'm only gonna keep about 15 total pages from it, and I'm restructuring and rewriting the other 40+ pages. I turned in the first 30ish pages of the second draft - which is all I have at this time. And since I didn't have a computer at the time, I was forced to write it in Final Draft in the Tech Center. Which turned out to be a blessing in many ways. It turns out that Final Draft is WAY better than Celtx, which I had been using. It's weird, because the specific differences are pretty small, but somehow, it just seems so much easier and much more effortless than other writing programs. Or maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm on crack.

Anyway, it was also good for me just to get out of the room, and into a different environment to write in. Being in the Tech Center made it much easier to focus than before, especially when I was listening to the Fountain soundtrack (which I really enjoyed, by the way. Both the album and the film).

So it's my goal for the break to finish the second draft of it (even if all I have is Celtx), and then let it sit for a while. I think I want to do something a LOT lighter than this, maybe another spec pilot that's been percolating in the back of my mind for a while. Maybe I'll also make another short film, just to prove to myself that yes, I can plan out and shoot a decent film, instead of just riding off of the ability of my actors.

I actually really want to do this next Pilot, to sit down and figure out the characters, the relationships, etc. It takes a lot from my own experience and my own life, which is something that I thought was missing from most of this Pilot. I'm pretty excited at this point, and I'm looking forward to finishing "Gone" (which needs a new title, by the way), so I can start on this as yet untitled project.

What do you writers out there think? Am I crazy to just write two spec Pilots one after another? Conventional knowledge says that I should focus on speccing existing shows, but recently I've been hearing stuff about how Showrunners also like reading your original material for a feel for how you express your own individual voice. I'll definitely spec existing shows at some point, but I think this is what I need to do right now. I'm still a relatively new writer, who's still trying to find his voice, and working with original material might be more helpful at this point than messing with someone else's world.

Spec Pilots also have the added benefit of never getting out of date. I could spec a show like the Shield, but I have a feeling that by the time I actually got to show that spec to anybody, the show would be cancelled or at least on it's way out.

So what do you guys think?

P.S. Also, what do you guys think about the brand-spanking-new layout? Eh? Ehhhhh?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

What a day!


Just found this on teh internets. At least as good as the recut shining trailer, I must say.

Oh, and I wrote 13 more pages, and I still can't get the progress bar to work, and I'm in Grantham, and Liz is writing a novel in a month, and she's being awesome at it, and I feel like I should probably be writing too, so I'm gonna get on that.

P.S. Oh yeah, andI voted for Jim Webb, (Sorry to all my republican friends, I'm sure you love me anyway. Go ahead, you can blame me for the democratic control of the senate.) and Rummy's gone! And Britney and Kevin broke up! what a day!

EDIT: Also, THIS is one of the coolest things I've ever seen.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

and...breathe

It's Thursday. I can breathe again.

And...breathe.

I had a lot of work this weekend through wednesday, and today the only thing I had to do got cancelled, so today was a nice breather. I had to shoot my next 2 projects for Screen Directing on Saturday, finish the first third of my Pilot for class by Monday and come up with a treatment for another class by Tuesday. All while finishing Eco-Urban Hell homework by Wednesday at 4:30.

Oyg. With all of this schedule crunching, I sometimes I wonder what life will be like post-college when I have a set schedule--doing the same basic thing every day monday through friday.

INT. DORM - NIGHT

MATT is laughing with friends, with a red cup of authentic Frathouse beer in his hands. He is very much enjoying himself.

MATT
(laughing)
Oh man. Good thing that day won't
come for years and years and years...

He trails off. Everyone is suddenly silent as they stare at him. Matt puts his head in his hands.

MATT
...Crap.

He begins to weep

I just looked at my degreeworks page on our college portal, and found (as I'd assumed) that I've only got 2 semesters of school left. I was debating shortly on which 2 semesters to take, but I think I'll end up doing the obvious thing: go to school Spring and Fall of '07, leaving Spring of '08 open for an internship in LA.

Damn. That's a scary idea. I may be in Los Angeles in a little over a year. And if not then, then I'd be there in summer of '08. Still...Damn. It's scary in an incredibly exciting way. I'll be out there, probably living in some crappy apartment with Matt Wells (we're both gonna be done a semester early), and doing some really menial grunt job...but I'll be out there. Which puts me much closer to where I want to be than sitting here.

And I guess all of this thought of my future must have put me in a reflective mood, because I looked through all of my blog posts the other day. I was surprised at how incredibly immature I was in high school--and how oblivious I was to it all. I criticized people and ideas, and (in the old Xanga comments, which you can't read) bickered endlessly with friends about things that were ultimately inconsequential. All while trying to be witty--which I'm fairly certain I didn't succeed at. (or is it "at which I'm fairly certain I didn't succeed"? I can't decide.)

At college, I didn't seem to get much better. As a preface for those who don't know, Messiah is NOT a Bible school, and definitely not Bob Jones University. Far from it, it is one of the most liberal Christian colleges on the planet (Case in point: www.gayatmessiah.org). Anyway, I reacted to the liberalness of Messiah College in a very simplistic way, and mostly wrote half-thought-out posts regurgitating traditional Christian or Republican rhetoric I'd heard before and agreed with at the time. And don't get me wrong, I still do believe a lot of it (well, on the spiritual/religious side anyway), but now I feel like most of what I said then was very reactionary, and not really representing the truth of what I thought about it.

When I got to posts from last year, though, I started to find someone much closer to the individual I am today. I have memories of being much more at peace with everything that year. I made friends with Homosexuals and Socialists, and began to be more open-minded about other worldviews. Now I find it kind of absurd the hold that Christians seem to have about postmodern thinking. Of course, most of postmodernism is pretty absurd in and of itself, but there's nonetheless a lot of useful things that come out of it. But that's neither here nor there.

I suppose my point is (if I have a point, which I'm not sure I do) that the most important thing I've learned in my two-and-a-half years at college is honesty. And I hesitate to say "I've learned" as if it's something I've accomplished and now can move on with my life. It's something I'm still learning how to do. I used to think that honesty just meant not lying--it meant telling your mommy the truth when you broke the window, and not trying to cover it up. I never really understood what people meant when they said "You've got to be true to yourself"; in fact I always thought it sounded really cheesy. But now I'm starting to understand that there's all of these walls we hide behind, all of these things that block who we really are and what we're really trying to say. Political Correctness. Peer Pressure. Legalism. Political Parties. Being "Cool" or "Edgy" or "Having an Image".

Basically, all of the artifice boils down to one question: "What will people think of me?" In Christianese, we have a name for that: "Fear of Man". For all of modern religion's foibles, there's something deep inside Christian belief that says "Don't worry about what others think of you. Be honest before God about who you are and what you believe."

Wow. I totally did not mean for this to become a post about Christianity. But...that's where it ended up, and I think It'd be dishonest of me to change it now.

In any event, the most recent way this has been coming out is through my writing. My writing professor was pretty critical of my idea (“Gone”) within my past 2 projects--he was concerned that I'd write too much to the high-concept idea, and not treat the characters in an honest way. And he was right. So I went back, wrote 13 pages of Character backstory, and re-wrote the scene of Stephen waking up in the hospital. And I nailed that bitch. Not because of snappy dialogue, or because of great structure, but because of honesty.

Now, I know. Honesty doesn't sell scripts. Concepts sell scripts. And snappy dialogue makes it interesting. As do car chases and space battles (speaking of which, HOW ABOUT THAT BATTLESTAR GALACTICA EPISODE LAST WEEK!! all I have to say is OMFGWTF AWESOME!). But if you're not being honest to yourself and to the character, and hell, to the whole human race, then is it worth writing at all? I say no, but I may just be a sappy idealist.

Well, unless I'm getting paid. Then it's totally worth it.

Mmmkay. Enough epiphanies for today.

And...breathe.

P.S. And so...I tried to add a status bar so I could brag about finishing 16 pages in my pilot...but technology thwarted me again. On my browser, it shows up at the far left of the screen, rather than the far right of the screen like a good little progress bar should. If those of you who have these (a.k.a. Emily), could give me a hand of what to do, that'd be great.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Well, duh...

You Should Be a Science Fiction Writer

Your ideas are very strange, and people often wonder what planet you're from.
And while you may have some problems being "normal," you'll have no problems writing sci-fi.
Whether it's epic films, important novels, or vivid comics...
Your own little universe could leave an important mark on the world!

Friday, October 13, 2006

..But as for me and my house, we will watch Battlestar Galactica

Oyg. I haven't blogged in a while. There's always something I want to say, but I never really want to say it here. I sometimes want to write about real life, but I don't feel motivated to actually write a post about it, or even if I do, I decide that this really isn't the right forum for those things. And I'm probably right--it probably isn't. Thus, I will leave real life aside, and take the easy way out: blogging about Writing/TV/Film!

"Gone" is no longer a screenplay. Well, strictly speaking, it was NEVER really a screenplay, but now it never will be. It will be a PILOT! I've been going over the premise and the characters over the past couple of weeks, and I realized that it would really work much better as a TV pilot than as a film. I finally made the decision this past week, and my writing professor was cool with it. He said you can learn writing just as much from writing TV as from writing films; the writing is still essentially the same.

I think this is a better decision in several different ways. First, I think the way that I was thinking about the story, the situation and the characters lends itself much more to an ongoing form of storytelling. And today, ongoing storytelling means TV. Second, writing for TV is what I think I want to do eventually (at this point in my life, anyway), and I'd learn more, and it'd be better for me to have an original pilot under my belt as opposed to a feature. I remember hearing that more and more people in Hollywood are looking for original material in addition to spec scripts--so this makes sense creatively AND professionally.

In any event, yes. That is exciting. Also under the exciting category: I finished my long-take, locked-down-camera exercise, for Screen Directing and KICKED it's ASS. We had to take a scene from a play (or a film we hadn't seen), and cast it, rehearse it, and film it without moving the camera or cutting away from the shot. I chose a scene from "Proof" (good play--haven't seen the movie anyone know how good it was?). Mine went over really well in class (due in large part to my two amazing actors - one of whom I'm dating); the professor had good things to say about it, as did the graduate students, and they all had useful suggestions that they offered as well.

So I'm feeling pretty good in the Writing/Directing category. I just hope I can pull off my projects in those respective classes.

And finally in the exciting category: Battlestar Galactica. As I'm sure you all know, Battlestar (reciever of a 94 percent on Metacritic, I might add) is my favorite show, and had a 2 hour premiere last friday. I was on the edge of my seat for those two hours last week, and am waiting with bated breath for 9 PM tonight. I could fill up a post three times as large talking about this, so I'll just leave it there, but suffice to say, Ron Moore and company continue to not disappoint. I approve.

P.S. Liz and I went to see the Gate theater's production of "Waiting for Godot" last night. It was supposed to be the definitive version of the play, since it was the long-running Irish production taken on tour, and only in Philly for 3 days. But despite all of the hype (both for the play and this production in particular) it left both Liz and I unsatisfied. We both decided it was more due to Beckett than to the Gate theater, however. The acting and directing was certainly top notch, but the play is just not my cup of tea. I can see why people think the play is amazing, and I can see why this production is supposed to be amazing, but it was just too entirely obtuse. Symbolism and metaphor are indeed interesting things, but if that's all that's there it completely loses all connection with the viewer.

I dunno, maybe I need to take more english or theater classes so I can appreciate its significance. Although I'm pretty sure that'd be a futile effort. You may enjoy Waiting for Godot, and think it's the greatest thing since Steve Buscemi (sorry, I just really didn't want to say "Sliced Bread")...but as for me and my house, we will watch Battlestar Galactica. Frak yeah.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Losing....will....must...blog...

Okay, I'm back.

Just dropping in to say: no, I'm not dead - only resting.

False. I'm actually pretty busy. Turned in two projects last week: I performed a waiting for Godot scene with Matt (Wells) - and kicked it's ass, if I (along with some GRAD STUDENTS) may say so myself. I think I like directing, and (perhaps even more surprising) I think I like acting too. And apparently I'm pretty okay at it. Go figure.

As if that wasn't enough, I also turned in the first scene from "Gone" in class. Which - perhaps for reasons of Karma - kicked my ass. The dialogue was much too sparse, and didn't translate very well to a public reading in front of class. And it also flowed way too quickly, and didn't leave enough room for the emotion to really resonate. And on top of all that, I need to know my characters a lot more. All of which are very valid points, and hopefully ones I can use when I rewrite the scene for next monday.

Also: Liz is gone this weekend for auditions in Grantham - along with Katie Behrens, Steve Kirsh and Steph Leh. Which makes this "common text immersion weekend" that much harder to bear. I'm trying to find ways to cope. Apparently blogging is one of them.

Monday, September 11, 2006

sorry, all other weekends. I'm the best.

Okay, I promised I wouldn't do this again, but this one'll be short. This weekend blew the other three out of the water. Really just cause of what happened at about 9:30 on September 10th. Yes, dear blogging world, as of Sunday night, myself and a certain Liz (with three letters) are now officially "a couple", or "going out", or "boyfriend and girlfriend" or whatever nomenclature you prefer. Except courting (Let's just get this straight now, we are NOT courting. Sorry, Josh Harris. I'm sure you'll get over it).

Apologies to all my screenwriting bloggers out there. I promise I'll start blogging my progress on Gone soon. Truth is, I just need to be working on it a lot more than I currently am, because as of now I'm just relying on the screenwriting class to motivate me to work. Which is fine, except we haven't started to write yet.

But not now. Right now I need to read for Eco-Urban hell.

Monday, September 04, 2006

The Once and Future Weekend.

I seem to be in a routine where I update once a week - but I only to write about the preceeding weekend. I'll have to break this habit eventually. But not right now.

Due to my awesome schedule (of only having classes 3 days a week), combined with the extra day off for Labor day, I found myself with a 5 day weekend this week. I said to myself, "Gee, what am I going to do with all this FREE TIME." And then, I remembered that Temple's schedule does not allow for a fall break of any kind (except for Thanksgiving). And so I decided on relatively short notice to go home this weekend. At my dad's suggestion, I rode the Chinatown bus. It goes from Philly's Chinatown to New York's Chinatown, to...Virginia Beach. I'm still not quite sure how that last one works, as Virginia Beach does not have a Chinatown (although they have enough of a Filipino population to have a Philippinestown if they wanted to) - we ended up at a strip mall, in the parking lot of a Subway. Meh. It was 60 bucks, round trip. Way cheaper than the Train.

And what better way to spend my first day back than taking my sister to get her wisdom teeth ripped from her head? The operation went pretty smoothly, it wasn't until post-op that trouble arose. She didn't react so well with the anesthesia, and I ended up playing the good brother role and held back her hair as she repeatedly threw up blood into a trashcan (I really hope Lenee doesn't read this...she'd probably kill me if she found out I was telling this to the world).

Now, some of you may already know this about me, but due to some freak accident in my genetic structure, I have no wisdom teeth. "No," you may be saying, "you can't possibly mean that, can you? They just haven't come in yet, right?" Well, you would think so, my friend, but the truth is that they just aren't there. According to my local dental professionals, I am one of those few lucky bastards that will never have to go through the expensive, painful, and psychadelic ordeal that is oral surgery. For the longest time, I felt slighted, like I'd somehow been cheated out of an integral episode of life that everyone else shared, but I would never experience. Well, after staying with my sister as she yarked up blood all over her brand new white shirt, I think I'll choose to pass on the extra wisdom for now. I'll just chalk it up as a loss and move on.

Anyway, I spent most of the weekend either hanging out with my family, or with Chris and Marybeth (and newly deported former Richmonder Zach). I realized something about my friends this weekend: as I get older and older, the number of my "home" friends shrinks more and more. This is both because I tend fall out of touch with people, and just can't really keep up the friendship without regular contact, and also because many of the people I DO continue to keep in touch with ultimately end up moving away. It gets to the point where I can only call 3 people to see while I'm home: One I end up hanging out with, One doesn't call me back, and One is currently moving out to Seattle (and by currently, I mean "in the car driving along the interstate in with her roomate". No joke).

It makes me feel both popular and lonely at the same time. I looked at a map of the United States today, and counted all of the states where my friends live. As it turns out, I have friends not only in Virginia and Pennsylvania, but also in New York, New Jersey, Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia, Wisconsin, Texas, Colorado, Washington, California, and Alaska. That's not even counting friends I have from school that who go home to New Hampshire, Maryland, Hawaii, Alabama, etc.

But as my circle of friends grows more national, the less Virginia feels like home. I mean, sure; my family still lives here, and so do a couple of friends from church, but by and large most of my friends from High School are gone. In a way that's good, because I end up spending much more time with my family than I would otherwise, but still... I miss being able to go Starbucks with old friends, laughing, drinking coffee, and catching up on what's going on in their lives.

Sigh. I suppose that's what High School reunions are for. Do homeschooling groups even have reunions?

Well, anyway. After a few short days of wisdom teeth, some used DVD action, Settlers of Catan, Sushi, Yard Sales, and Greek food, it came time to do the homework I'd been putting off. I'd like to take this moment to let everyone know my complete and utter disdain for my Messiah Philly class. Yes, Eco-Urban Footprints of Post-Metropolis Life: examining the integral relationship of natural and social ecologies in the urban environment will most likely be the least enjoyable class I've ever taken. Way too much reading (in badly-written textbooks), pointless reading responses, on a subject I have next to no interest in, and all taught by a professor way too scholarly and intellectual for his own good. Oyg.

In other news, I've been reading Stephen King's "On Writing" for my screenwriting class, and that is heaven compared to that OTHER class. That book's been my refuge for when my brain gets all tied up from too much Urban Ecology scholarly bullshit.

Okay. Next time, no weekend update. I'll update on, like, a Thursday or somthing. Deal? deal.

UPDATE: As Sharon so insightfully brought to my attention, in my angry exposition of my class, I seem to have forgotten to mention the single saving grace of that class: I'm taking it Pass/Fail. Which means I only have to do 70% of the work, at C-level quality. It's still f*cking annoying.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Okay, no snake trailers this time, but...

Well, kids...I've been busy. I am now the resident of 2018 Broad Street, room 1831 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and it's pretty sweet in here. Haven't had time to breathe in the past couple of days with all the orientation things they've been throwing at us. It's been cool, though, I'm starting to get to know the city. Took public transportation, ate Indian, went on a bus tour of Philly's murals, painted part of the mural myself (along with about 90 other Messiah Philly students), watched (yes, just WATCHED) a crazy frat party happen next door, went to the Philly Sovereign Grace church, and saw Little Miss Sunshine at the Ritz (AND I enjoyed it, in case you were interested).

I think I like Philadelphia. I've been doing so much, I almost forget that I have to go to classes tomorrow. But Temple seems pretty cool, and I've got a frakking awesome schedule lined up. NO classes on Thursday/Friday, bee-yotches! Also: I'm in Screen Directing (which was very hard to get into, and I'm honestly still not sure how I got in), 60s/70s New Wave Cinema (which should be fun), and (drumroll please) it looks like I'll also be able to take the advanced screenwriting class! (Well, the actual name of the class is "Writing for Media II", but that makes it sound like I'll be writing scripts for flash cartoons or something. In reality, It's a screenwriting workshop) This is really good for me, because I was wondering if I'd be able to write consistently with the school year going on. Now I'll be able to do it for homework! And unless I'm completely mis-understanding the class description, we should come out of the class with a completed screenplay (or at least a completed draft of a screenplay).

So needless to say, I'm excited. But right now, I've got a first day of class that starts tomorrow at 9. And I should probably get my sleep. It's funny how 9 o'clock seems early to me, especially since it hasn't even been a week since I had to get up at 6:30 to clean toilets every morning.

Oh school. You took way too long getting here.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Motherf*cking Superlatives on a Motherf*cking Weekend

This weekend was probably the best of my summer. Perhaps my life. Let me 'splain...no, there is too much. Let me sum up. No, wouldn't be cool enough...let me 'splain, THEN let me sum up the boring parts.

Friday
(1) Snakes on a plane. I could write a whole post on why this movie is awesome, but I feel like you'd either (a) agree, which would mean you've already seen it, or (b)disagree, in which case you have no soul. In short, It was easily the most fun I've had at the movies this summer - and possibly my entire life. It was completely shameless in giving the audience (aka ME) what it wanted: Sam Jackson killing snakes (via Tazer, makeshift flamethrower, and speargun), snakes killing people (Biting a girl's boob, a guy's pecker, and a python [unhinged jaw and all] swallowing a man WHOLE), and - of course - "The Line" (you know which one I'm talking about). Now, it might just be the hype and all of the anticipation of that line due to it being added in during re-shoots, but lordie...that line (and the whole build-up to it) really might be the best line in any movie EVER.

In any event, I just think it's amazing that this is the first movie in the history of cinema where most of the audience is really only paying 8 bucks to see ONE LINE. And it's worth it. it's that satisfying. Anyway, moving on.

(2) (this one is probably the best part) After the movie, we all went to Denny's, mostly due to the fact that it's the only place around here that's open after midnight on a Friday night. Now, I've been served by a lot of waiters and waitresses in my time, even been one myself, so I feel like I know what I'm talking about when I say: Our waitress, the one that served us at Denny's at 1 o'clock in the morning was the best waitress I've ever had. That might not sound so great, since I just made a similar superlative statement in the last paragraph, but it's true. Here's why, sequentially.

1. She was hot.
2. She had a great attitude. Not a "great attitude" in that she was perky and chipper all the time. She had an attitude. and it was great. Adds to number 1.
3. She complimented my striped shirt. At least I think she did - her attitude (see number 2) made it harder to tell. In any event, adds to number 1.
4. She had dreds (or really, the beginnings of dreds), adds to number 1.
5. Her name was Jena. yeah, with one N. Adds to number 1.
6. She swore. This was when two of our plates dropped to the floor (not really her fault), and she said "F*ck" in quite a loud voice. adds to number 1.
7. She stole other people's food from the line to make up for the spilled ones. adds to number 1.
8. (the kicker - and hence why it's the longest)

She heard us talking about Snakes on a Plane, and mentioned that one of her friends who works for a movie theater had given her a 35mm print of the trailer of the movie, and she had it sitting out in her car. She jokingly said that the bidding would start at $20. I happened to drop the fact that I worked in the projection booth at our college, and if I could get my hands on one, I would play it in front of every movie (the truthfulness of which is debatable, but nobody knew that).

True story: not 15 minutes go by before she comes back to the table with a small roll of film in her hand. "Because I believe the support of the arts, I want you to take this", and hands me the trailer. My knees go faint. My mouth drops. And I motherf*cking took it.

So I am now the proud owner of a 35 millimeter print of the Snakes on a Plane Teaser Trailer. And Jena probably got the biggest tip of her life.

Oh yeah. Adds to number 1.

Saturday
Hard to believe there was more, but there was. I'll keep it short, because I think this is long enough as it is.

1. Hamburgers from the grill at Chad's house.
2. Playing Dead Rising at Linaburg's (The Zombie Mall video game. one of the funnest times you can have on a console [yeah, that's right. Another Superlative])
3. Sushi. Only my second time, and the kind I got (that everyone was raving about) really wasn't that great. But it was good, all the same.
4. I bought my first pipe. And we smoked it. A good time was had by all. I would say it was the BEST time I've smoked that pipe, just to add another superlative, but that'd be cheating.

Sunday
1. Last pre-Philly church service. Said goodbye to people. Two of my good friends (who are 6 and 5), presented me with pages from their coloring book to remember them by. I almost cried.
2. Watched a Deep Space Nine episode on my computer. Not a great one, ("The Darkness and the Light"), but not a terrible one, either. It's pretty representative of how chill my afternoon was.
3. Finished outlining Act I.

And that's all kids. That was my superlative weekend. And I of course capped it off by writing a blog entry about it while listening to Johnny Cash.

Although out of curiosity...how many scenes are customarily in Act I of a screenplay? I finished Act I, but I feel like I did it too quickly (in the movie. In real life, I feel like I should have finished it ages ago. But that's just my self-loathing coming in). What do you guys say? Eh? Anybody?

Anyway, Be well, all y'all.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Obstacled course

I just ran into my first obstacle in "Gone" (and by "obstacle", I mean MY obstacle in writing, not my protagonist's obstacle to overcome in order to achieve his object of desire. And all of those other words they taught us in screenwriting class). It's kind of comforting in a way - that the initial thrill has worn down, and now it's down to the nitty gritty of actually writing the durned thing. Makes me feel more in tune with the reality of writing it; it's not just some abstract thing anymore, it's something I have to wrestle and work with in real life.

I'm hard-core into outlining right now - which is something different that I'm trying. I'd always heard of people just trudging through the dreaded first draft to get it all down on paper, and then go through re-write after re-write: one for structure, one for dialogue, et cetera, et cetera. I've tried that a couple of times, but it didn't work for me (and by "didn't work for me" I mean, "didn't get very far before I gave up, sobbing that I'd never write again"). Part of it might have been pure and simple lack of motivation on my part, but I think at part of it was the resistance I had to just getting through a bunch of stuff just to get through it, since I knew I would re-write it all. So, when I started on this, I figured: if I'm just going to re-write every word in the first draft, why not just make a really, really detailed outline of everything, and treat THAT as a first draft? Then when I'm "rewriting" it, I'll just type it out and it'll all be one big happy screenplay.

Anyway, that's what I'm trying for right now. It's turning out pretty well for the most part; I end up writing just what happens in a scene - whether it's a summary of actions, or actual dialogue written out. You guys tell me if you think what I'm doing is completely crazy and stupid, or actually makes sense. Anyway, moving on...

As for the problem, I was having trouble deciding how to depict the Aliens, or whether to depict them at all. As it's written right now, I have the old sci-fi standard of "Aliens pull images out of guy's mind to represent themselves" as what he encounters onboard the craft. I like this a lot more than having him inside an actual physical craft - which would probably look cheesy no matter how big the budget was. But more than that, it wouldn't get across the mystical/angelic quality about the Aliens that I'm trying to convey. The problem is, I don't think the "memory representations" really work in that respect either.

So, what am I doing? I'm biting the bullet and leaving it as it is (which, I know, essentially means doing the same thing as if I were writing a first draft normally. This way feels better. leave me alone) I really want to make this screenplay the screenplay that I finally get through, and so I'm going to make it through this outline if it kills me. You probably don't know how hard this is for me to do. I'm someone who likes to get things right, and will very often stop and work on something until I get it just the way I want it. Unfortunately, experience has shown me that this is NOT the way to get screenplays done.

So I am leaving it for the re-write.

Which I WILL get to, godsdammit.

motherfrakker.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

"Gone" has arrived.

Okay, so partly because of Greg's comment about it being "Sci-Fi on a budget", and partly because of Emily's comment of just doing what I feel strongly about, I think I chose "Gone". I say "think", because I just started outlining it last night on a whim, and - wonder of wonders - it really seemed to fit together well. A lot of what I write seems to have strong emotional resonance, but not a lot going on, or vice versa. I think (so far, at least), that this seems to be a good balance of both.

And although I'm still getting used to the idea of people that are essentially strangers commenting on my blog, apparently they give good advice. But don't worry, I still love you, all of my real-life friends. I even put up that "comrades in blogging" sidebar all of you love so much. See? See?

In other news, I realized that I - similarly to Liz - seem to have four obsessions that I go back and forth between. Although rather than liking Theater or Dance (if my memory of that conversation serves) my list goes a lot more like this: Reading, Writing, Watching, and Gaming. "Reading" usually meaning Sci-Fi or Fantasy, "Writing" meaning screenplays, fiction, or blogging, "Watching" meaning TV or Movies (or even YouTube clips at times), and Gaming including PC gaming, Tabletop RPG gaming, or board gaming. Most of this summer I've been in a Reading rut (well, "rut" is probably far too negative a word to use, but I like it, so I'm using it anyway), with a bit of watching thrown in. Recently I seem to be in a Gaming/Writing mood, having played Risk and Settlers of Catan within the past week, and finally starting work on "Gone". In addition, I feel very little motivation to finish the Harry Potter book I have sitting on Chad's coffee table, or the copy of "Sunset Boulevard" I have out from Netflix. Meh. I'll get around to that sometime.

Well, in any event, I'm probably gonna go work on the outline now. Either that or play StarCraft.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

I've taken my first step into a larger world...

I'm not sure, but I think I've made my first foray into real blogdom. On a whim, I left a few comments on some screenwriting blogs (I actually frequent a large number of those. It makes me feel like more of a writer without actually doing anything hard like, you know, writing. I'm actually a very bad person). But, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, this caused other people to come here and visit my site (hence the comments from new people on earlier posts). So now, for the first time ever, I've got readers that I don't actually know in real life.

I'll be honest, it's kinda scary. But again, this makes me feel like more of a writer without actually writing. Well, I suppose that's not strictly true, since I'm writing right now, in this blog. And this blog pretty much makes up about 80% of my entire body of work. Is that sad? I feel like it probably is.

In any event, I feel more motivated to get back to work on writing something. My only question is: what?. I'm constantly plagued by having too many projects/stories that I'm working on, and not being able to focus my energies on just one. This results in having many half-completed, or even half-started stories lying around. The current dangling-plot-threads-of-my-life are:

1. "Duck Hunt". I've told many of you about this one before, since I started work on it freshman year. It's basically a low-concept story about a guy who is trying to hold on to his past; everything has changed from where it was a few short years ago (or even many long years ago). The embodiment of this (and the structure of the main plot) is his search to find a Nintendo Entertainment System, which his mother sold at a yard sale years ago.

2. "Gone". A different spin on an Alien abduction. A man is abducted from a cabin in the Poconos on his wedding night. 10 years later, he is returned exactly as he was, to a world that has aged ten years without him. He has to deal with a wife who thought he had run off, a 10 year old son who doesn't know him, and trying to readjust to life in a hard world, all while having full memory of his abduction. Interestingly enough, the Aliens didn't prod and probe him as has always been reported - his stay on the Alien craft was euphoric, the Aliens almost angelic. Which makes the transition to the cold, hard world that he came from all the harder.

3. "Tiberius". This is the "Sci-Fi epic" that I always said I've been working on for the summer (although I started it a while ago). I'm trying to write out a synopsis here, but it's honestly pretty hard - I'm realizing as I write it that the story really is all over the place. I've got tons of themes, a lot of color added in, but nothing hard and fast to point to as "that's what the story's about". It's got a lot of plot problems, but I really like the characters and their backstories, as well as the backstory for the universe I have. Just throwing this out there.

4. "Altair Netch". Not so much a real project as something I write when I feel bored/writer's-blocked. It's the ongoing story of Altair Netch, private eye, who lives in New New York in 2278 trying to eke out a living taking pictures of illicit affairs for clients. When, one day...she walks in. I think, at least - I haven't really got that far yet. I think I'm gonna throw in something about parallel universes eventually, cause those are always fun. Like I said, this is just a "for fun" project, nothing really serious, probably nothing that'd ever get sold.

5. "The Office spec". This is my "Hey, I wanna be a TV writer...I really should write a spec script". I think most of you know what a spec script is, but it's a script written "on speculation" - basically it's a fanfic that you write to show off your l33t writing sk1llz in hopes of getting a job someday. I'm trying to spec "The Office" - which is one of my favorite shows (as I have previously mentioned) - but I really haven't got much farther than starting on the outline.

Okay, so there you have it. What do you guys think? I won't make this a voting contest, cause I think that's kind of silly. Let me hear what you think, and I'll make the executive decision. In the meantime, I think I'll catch up with Altair Netch. Or maybe watch an old episode of The Office.

So yeah, that was Chad, he's a jerk.

Real life update: I moved into Chad and Amy's house yesterday (my ex-roomate and his wife) because Messiah College housing, in it's infinite wisdom and knowledge saw fit to kick me out without a place to stay. All normal summer workers are just moving to whatever room they're in for the Fall (an extrodinary amount of which happen to be in Kelly, by the way). Of course if you're cool like me, or Dan, or Matt, or Brian and living abroad/in Philly next semester then you are, in a very specific sort of way, effed up the a-hole.

But thanks to my benevolent ex-roomate (and now current housemate), I've got a place to stay, a ride to work, and food for eating. Not to mention all the geek talk I could possibly want.

I just hope they can keep the sex noises down across the hall.

Silly Matt

Matt left blogger open, sitting on my living room coffee table. Silly Matt.

All of his various monkies now belong to me...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

So it's official...

Warner Bros. announces Batman Begins Sequel, titled "The Dark Knight". Cool. Bale set to return as Batman, and Chris Nolan set to return as director. Cool. With me so far? good. And the curveball is... who's the Joker?

If you were too lazy to click the link for whatever reason, then you missed out on the fact that the actor portraying the most legendary comic book villain is none other than everyone's favorite oscar nominated gay cowboy: Heath Ledger. Please, let's hold off on such clever witticisms as "Brokebat mountain" or similar tomfoolery. I must admit, when I first heard I definitely thought it was a joke. Then I got a little upset. Then I got a lot upset.

But then I cooled down. He's a good enough actor (or so I'm told. I still haven't seen Brokeback Mountain, so I can't really judge that). And I wasn't so sure about Christian Bale or the entire first movie when I heard about it, but he turned out to be spectacular. But one thing's certain: nobody (and I mean nobody) was expecting this. Which tells me that Nolan has something up his sleeve.

I've got faith in Christopher Nolan, and I pray for his personal safety if he screws this one up (as every other Batman director has done on his follow-up film). Now let's just hope that those Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the Penguin rumors are true (2006: competing for Best Actor Academy Award. 2008: competing for Batman's disaffections. oh the irony)

Friday, July 21, 2006

I love good TV

"Lost" + "Battlestar Galactica" + "The Office" = This.

I love it. Mostly just the fact that it's two of my favorite shows are combined with another one that I very much respect, and - all things considered - should really start watching someday.

Yeah. That's all for now.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A Phinal Philippic

(warning: do not click on the link below if you haven't seen the Season 2 finale of Battlestar Galactica, and have any intention of doing so. If you do, you will spoil one of the most "Oh. My. God." moments in all of television.)

Oyg. They just released the Season 3 trailer for Battlestar Galactica, and October has never seemed more far off. They show so much and yet so little in the trailer (which is what teasers are supposed to do), and I haven't been more pumped about a premiere in a long time.

But, at the same time I am also incredibly disgusted by the schmuck at the SCI FI network who decided to attach a nickelback song to the trailer. (for those who can't remember why Nickelback sucks, click here). And not only is it a crappy song, but it's also completely opposite of the look and feel of the show. Keep to the instrumental tribal-influenced Bear McCreary orchestrations, guys. geez.

(and yes, I know the name of the guy who writes the music for my favorite science fiction show. I am that much of a nerd.)

And I just realized that my posts have been rather condemning recently. First the Emmys, then Daniel Wheatley, and now the stupid SCI FI channel exec. Oh well, I promise my next post to be cheery and uplifting. Seriously, there may be bunnies involved.

I'm gonna go play some Settlers.

EDIT: Oh yeah. And Dune. I also hate Dune.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

My complaint about Daniel Wheatley

I just want a little editorial balance here. Perhaps before going on, I should describe Daniel Wheatley to you. Daniel is obtrusive, inarticulate, and sick. Furthermore, he yearns to drive us into a state of apoplexy. I frequently talk about how we can't just sit around and do nothing. I would drop the subject, except that I have a message for him. My message is that, for the good of us all, he should never lock people up for reading the "wrong" classes of books or listening to the "wrong" kinds of music. He should never even try to do such a snappish thing. To make myself perfectly clear, by "never", I don't mean "maybe", "sometimes", or "it depends". I mean only that we must remove our chains and move towards the light. (In case you didn't understand that analogy, the chains symbolize Daniel's short-sighted litanies, and the light represents the goal of getting all of us to present a noble vision of who we were, who we are, and who we can potentially be.)

When I'm through with Daniel, he'll think twice before attempting to turn me, a typically mild-mannered person, into a moonstruck vat of imperialism. I have this advice to offer: The world has changed, Daniel; get used to it. Are you beginning to get the picture here? Let me mention again that I am tired of listening to his rummy, wrongheaded bilge. But that's not all: There's something fishy about his ventures. I think Daniel's up to something, something satanic and perhaps even drugged-out. Daniel's ploys are a crazy-quilt patchwork of the most offensive types of plagiarism you'll ever see. Although others may disagree with that claim, few would dispute that Daniel is the type of person that turns up his nose at people like you and me. I guess that's because we haven't the faintest notion about the things that really matter, such as why it would be good for him to reduce us to acute penury.

Daniel thinks that his decisions are based on reason. However, his conception of "reason" still remains a good deal less clear than we would wish. He hates people who have huge supplies of the things he lacks. What Daniel lacks the most is common sense, which underlies my point that he yields to the mammalian desire to assert individuality by attracting attention. Unfortunately, for Daniel, "attract attention" usually implies "hijack the word 'theoanthropomorphism' and use it to turn positions of leadership into positions of complacency".

Now, I'm going to be honest here. If anything will free us from the shackles of his longiloquent, homicidal op-ed pieces, it's knowledge of the world as it really is. It's knowledge that Daniel seizes every opportunity to sentence more and more people to poverty, prison, and early death. Just glance at the facts: The impact of Daniel's loathsome dogmas is exactly that predicted by the Book of Revelation. Evil will preside over the land. Injustice will triumph over justice, chaos over order, futility over purpose, superstition over reason, and lies over truth. Only when humanity experiences this Hell on Earth will it fully appreciate that it's easy enough to hate Daniel any day of the week on general principles.

But now I'll tell you about some very specific things that Daniel is up to, things that ought to make a real Daniel-hater out of you. First off, we must understand that by the next full moon, his lies will be exposed and the truth can be spread. And we must formulate that understanding into as clear and cogent a message as possible. The recent outrage at Daniel Wheatley's ideas may point to a brighter future. For now, however, I must leave you knowing that Daniel's plaints are exemplary of the forces minorities must fight in their struggle to achieve equal footing with the rest of the community.

P.S. I really have no problem with Daniel Wheatley

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Philly, Jesus, Pirates, and Kitler

Went to see half of the family this weekend. Lenee and Ian were at a music camp near Philadelphia, and Mom was working there (really just so they could go for free), so I took a train after work on friday, stayed with them all day Saturday (and saw their concert - pretty sweet), and they drove me back to Messiah today. It really was a good time, and it was nice to see them all, since I may not see them again til thanksgiving (or maybe even Christmas).

I read C.S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity" the other week (inbetween Fahrenheit 451 and Snow Crash), and the last part in the book kinda stuck with me. Pretty much it was how when we put our faith in Christ, there must be a real giving up of the self - to the point of forgetting about yourself in what you do. As he says: "As long as your own personality is what you are bothering about you are not going to Him at all. The very first step is to try to forget about the self altogether. Your real, new self ... will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him."

I've been thinking of this as a guide for normal life, but also - strangely enough - in my writing. I've been struggling to write this summer; I've started two or three projects: a Sci-Fi epic screenplay, a few short stories, and (most recently) trying to write a spec script or two (maybe I'll tell you guys about that sometime). I always seem to falter somewhere along the way, whether creatively or just actually sitting down to write the durned things. Later on in the same passage, Lewis wrote, "Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it." And that's kind of comforting. Too much in writing (as well as the rest of life) I try to think of how what I'm doing will be recieved, and letting my focus stray from what it is that I'm doing in the first place.

Well, now that the deep part of the post is concluded, I can continue on to books and movies. I saw the new Pirates with Mom (Lenee and Ian were apparently too good for it and chilled at a friends house). I must say, it was amazing, all of the praise it's getting is not unwarranted. More fun than the first, in my opinion, and has a lot more going on. Enough new stuff to keep it interesting, but still enough of what made the first one so enjoyable (read: swashbuckling, Johnny Depp). There's really no reason to not see this movie - unless of course you haven't seen the first one, in which case you should go rent it now, and THEN go see the new one.

I put Snow Crash on hold because Ender's Game arrived on InterLibrary Loan the other day. I read half of it on the train ride to Philly, and I've got tomorrow off so I'll probably be finishing it up then. I'm enjoying it so far, although the children talking like adults thing pushes believability a bit. Meh, I suppose that's what it's supposed to do (it IS sci-fi, after all).

but now for the real reason I posted. I've found an incredibly haunting/amazing website: catsthatlooklikehitler.com. No joke. Completely real site.

Look at their top Kitler:


May be the creepiest thing I've ever seen.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

rather film-majory post ahead...

As I mentioned before, I had set out at the beginning of the summer to read the so-called "Lord of the Rings of Science-Fiction": Dune by Frank Herbert. Having finished it a few months ago, I can understand the comparison. I don't think it's nearly as good as Lord of the Rings, but there are several things about it that Herbert did well. The level of worldbuilding is almost unparalleled; the entire society was entirely planned out seemingly to the most minute detail. The different sectors of religion, economy, politics and ecology all interacted and played off of one another to an extent that I'd never seen before. There's also a great deal of mysticism in the book - owed mostly to the supernatural spice that seems to fuel everything in the universe. There were other things that I found annoying about the book, but the things it did well, it did very well.

So anyway, I figured I owed it to myself to actually watch the earlier mentioned bad/mediocre sci-fi movie of the same name. If I was going to make my summer reading theme "classic sci-fi novels that were later made into bad/mediocre movies made by directors who have, all things considered, made much better films", then I should probably watch the films before I make such a judgement.

Or so I thought.

Dune came in the mail the other day from Netflix, and I watched it in Parmer along with Heidi and Alicia (who for some reason had a childhood attachment to it, and was bubbling over with joy for every frame of the movie). And honestly, I had expected it to be bad, but I didn't expect it to be as much of a train wreck as it was. I don't think I'm overstating things when I say that this film was one of the worst films I've ever seen. It should stand as a shining example of how NOT to adapt a book to film.

The filmmakers changed some things for no apparent reason, only to contradict themselves and show the way it was in the book. Hey Paul, guess what? You know that really mystical martial art you know? It's now a big blocky techno-weapon that shoots out sound waves (oh, and did I mention how sound waves apparently glow now?). But halfway through the film, We're going to show another character using the same mystical martial art which apparently only consists of grabbing someone by the neck until they scream uncle. But don't worry, we'll promptly switch back to the glowy-sound-wave weapon (which resembles a brown, blinking toaster worn on the wrist) for the final climactic battle scene.

But what's even worse, there are some things that they take directly from the book that unnecessarily muddied up the film. There were several places where the film would have greatly benefitted from NOT following the book so closely. Almost the whole first HOUR is spent on exposition. And when I say exposition, I don't even mean awkward explainlines clumsily placed in normal conversation. I mean entire scenes of actors only looking at each other and uninspiredly quoting lines from the book at each other. It makes the first hour incredibly tedious and laborious to sit through.

But once all of the exposition is out of the way, the filmmakers switch gears, and spend the other half of the movie just falling all over themselves. Instead of formulating a flowing storyline of scenes logically following one from another, they obviously decided that causality is for pussies, and it would be much more fun to just treat us to an hour of random scenes instead. The one thing I heard people say to me beforehand is that "if you haven't read the book, you won't know what's going on", and this is true. This is because they choose to take only the scenes from the book that were "filmable", show you those, and let you fill in the rest with your mind. And even after reading the book, I was pretty lost.

Having no concept of foreshadowing or "setup-payoff", the filmmakers seem to wait until the last possible second to introduce anything. They would introduce seemingly major characters in one scene, only to have them killed two scenes later. You find out how precious water is on Dune five minutes before you see a huge pool of it underground. Any sort of emotional weight is robbed by poor timing and poor writing.

But hey, the sets look pretty cool. Also, there's an impressive cast, including Patrick Stewart, Brad Dourif, Max Von Sydow, Dean Stockwell, Virginia Madsen, et al. One wonders how actors of their caliber were roped into doing something like this.

But anyway, yeah. Dune sucks.

On another note, I went to check out the Princess Bride from the Library the other day, only to find that it had been checked out, even though I had just looked up the Call number on my computer. Somewhere between the time that it took me to walk from my room to the library, someone had beaten me to the ONLY book I was trying to get. Pfhhh. Stupid books.

I got Snow Crash instead, and I'm enjoying it immensely so far. Pfhhh. Wonderful, wonderful books!

And I'm actually thinking that it would make an amazing movie. Granted, I've only been reading it for one day, and I'm not that far into it, but my film-major gears are working overtime from seeing such a terrible movie the other night. I feel like I need to make up for the downright injustice of Dune by someday making an incredibly awesome sci-fi movie of Snow Crash. So far, I'm imagining it as Blade Runner meets the Matrix meets Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Eh? any takers?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

In other news...

Homestarrunner updated.

'Bout freaking time.

...it tells me that Goosestepping Morons such as yourself...

...should try reading books instead of BURNING them!

In other words, yes I am reading Fahrenheit 451. Or, more accurately, I have read Fahrenheit 451, seeing how I am now finished with it, and am ready to start the next book of the summer. Somehow Ray Bradbury's classic had escaped my High School reading curriculum, which I think ended up being for the best, because I would not have enjoyed that book nearly as much in High School. For anyone who's not read it: do yourself a favor, and do so as soon as possible. It's a very short book, at only 150 pages, and can be knocked out in an afternoon if you try hard enough.

Many wouldn't actually classify it as sci-fi, but I think that's mostly just because it's well written. To some, the idea that something as well written and engaging as Fahrenheit 451 could be in the same type of fiction as Battlefield Earth, completely blows their mind. At the risk of being cliched, the best advice is probably to not judge a book by it's cover (both figuratively and literally). I think Theodore Sturgeon said it best: "Sure, 90% of science fiction is crud. That's because 90% of everything is crud.”

While I'm on the subject of the 10% of Science Fiction that's not crud, I realized a couple of months ago that, despite having talked about it conversation all the freaking time, I'd never blogged about Battlestar Galactica. Well, I suppose now's as good a time as any. Basically, It's the best show on television. And the Emmy nominations are coming up in a couple of days, and I'm getting preemptively dissappointed, because I can already tell you who will be on the list.

(Oh, and before I go any further, just be warned, this IS a rant, so beware.)

There was a lot of buzz surrounding a new voting system for the Emmys, where the top 10 vote-getters for best program, and the top 15 for best actor/actress would be screened in front of a panel who would then decide the top 5 to be voted on by the academy as a whole. It was implemented to give smaller shows a chance, and mixing it up so you didn't have a contest between the same five shows every single year. Shows like "The West Wing", "The Sopranos", and "Six Feet Under" would now have to fight for their spot on the Outstanding Drama ticket, where before they were almost guaranteed the nod.

So the new system was basically to make sure that the eyeballs of the voters actually find themselves on the shows that end up being nominated. The majority of Emmy voters are working professionals, and since they're working so hard in their own little corner of Television, they very rarely have the opportunity to watch OTHER people's shows. In the end, they wind up voting based on buzz and/or ratings, and not actually viewing the shows that they vote for.

So the intentions of the new system are in the right place, although the implementation definitely leaves something to be desired. Instead of the 100-120 person panels they were expecting, many had only 30-40 members show up. And after being shown three of the nominated episodes one after another, they were asked to vote on the overall quality of each, not comparing them to the others. How on earth can you expect them NOT to compare one to the other two when you've just sat through all three of them? This is of course made worse by the fact that the only choices are "A" Excellent, "B" Superior, or "C" Fair. That's right, the scale is 1-3. Quite a wide margin of error, if you ask me.

But ultimately, I think that the most defeating aspect of the new system is that it still decides the top 10 by total popular votes. Even though I can't think of a better alternative, it certainly is a shame that some shows that are on Emmy-unfriendly networks (such as WB, UPN, or ...wait for it.... the Sci-Fi Channel) will still have a hard time breaking the top 10. Emmy voters need to wake up and realize that the "netlets" as they're called aren't just for crap anymore. There is some very high-quality and well-made programs on the smaller networks that will never see the light of Emmy day.

But despite their impressive emmy campaign, my own beloved Battlestar Galactica failed to crack the top 10 (at least according to teh internets), as did Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell in the acting categories. Adding insult to injury, "Boston Legal" - one of the most unengaging, uninspired shows I've ever seen (and has no excuse for existence apart from William Shatner) - is in the top 10. The fact that Lauren Graham (of Gilmore Girls) and Kristen Bell (of Veronica Mars, which - by the way - is my new obsession. Feel free to mock me endlessly), and even "Rescue Me" made their respective ballots shows some glimmer of hope. If they make any of the ballots come thursday, I'd be extremely happy for them (who doesn't like the underdog?).

So basically my opinion is about the new system: not perfect, but a step in the right direction. Maybe the Emmys don't honor the quality of the work so much as the ratings/buzz of a particular show, but maybe, someday (with a couple more nudges in the right direction) we'll see real quality being honored.

And by "quality", I of course mean Sci-Fi.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

there are a lot of parentheses in this post

I said I'd post in a month. This'll have to do.

Work is...okay. Or at least as okay as one could expect for cleaning bathrooms and vacuuming halls. I'm a dorm worker in the wonderful little abode of Grantham Dorm, where I can be found from 7:30am-4:15pm most days (with a 45 minute break for lunch). I also get two 15-minute breaks that are good for going back to the room and having some bible-reading time, and plus the job is lax enough that I can bring a book along and read during work if it's slow that day. I've fallen into a pretty good schedule, where the time from work until dinner at 5 is used watching downloaded TV, then I go to dinner, and then I come back to the room, where I usually piddle around on the internet before I get around to writing.

Although I have to confess that I haven't been incredibly consistent at using the writing time to actually write and not just to extend my internet piddling time (or downloaded TV time, or [more rarely] reading time). But I've gotten a good amount written, mostly on random things. Nothing so great to be able share with anybody, but I'll keep working on them and see what comes of them.

I've read 4 books so far, 2 novels and 2 non-fiction, and I seem to have themes running in both. My theme for non-fiction is TV writing, because I read a book of interviews with "TV's top show creators", and a book about the art, mechanics and the business of TV writing. If I haven't told you before, I think that's what I want to do. Write for TV. I like the medium, and I like the way it's created (stories decided by a small group of people, given to specific person to write a draft, and then read-over and critiqued by the same small group of people).

As for novels, my theme (unintentionally) turned out to be "Classic Sci-Fi novels that were later made into bad/mediocre movies by directors who have, all things considered, made much better films". Thus far, these have been Dune by Frank Herbert (made into the 1984 movie by David Lynch - Dir. Mulholland Drive, The Elephant Man, etc.), and Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein (made into the 1997 movie by Paul Verhoven - Dir. Robocop, etc. [yeah, it's not a masterpiece but is it BETTER?]). I've started reading a third selection in this series, and I will give a cookie to whoever can guess what it is.

Just to clarify: 1) Classic Sci-Fi novel 2) Made into a movie by a 3) director who has, all things considered, made much better films. Fire away.

EDIT: Oh yeah, the Haloscan comments were giving me trouble, and I couldn't figure out how to fix them (after several tries), so I just opted for a whole new design, and normal blogger comments again. The old picture of my eyes at the top always seemed a bit egotistical anyway.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

New Attitude

So I got back to Messiah on Thursday, and I'm now full swing into post-Conference mode. Normal life has restarted, monotony and all, and I'm left to sort out everything that happened at New Attitude. It was a great experience all around, and I feel almost like I'm going into withdraw (gotta get my fix, gotta get my fix).

A lot of it may have to do with the spectacle (see previous post), but I think a lot more of it had to do with the people. Being around cool people both from Virginia Beach and Harrisburg (as well as Richmond, Wytheville, and many others) was just a great time, especially considering that I won't see some of them until Thanksgiving/Christmas or later. I felt kinda sad telling them all that I was staying in Grantham, Pennsylvania for the rest of the summer ("Oh, summer classes?" "Well, no. Actually, I'm...cleaning...dorms..."), but it was good to see them nonetheless.

Tangent: isn't it weird how the connotations of "summer school" change from high school to college? If you take summer classes in High School, it's because you failed classes, and need to re-take them in order to graduate on time (at least from my understanding, non-homeschooled friends can help me out with this...). But in college, more often than not, people taking summer classes do so because they want to finish up their credits early (or on time, because they have so MANY of them). In summation, then: High school summer school student=slacker, College summer school student=overachiever/just regular achiever. Tangent over, continuing:

But even more than the people, I feel rejuvenated from all that was said at the conference. I may not agree with Sovereign Grace (my denomination--oh wait, I mean "family of churches") on absolutely everything, but one thing I am very thankful for is their emphasis on the gospel. The gospel is at the center of everything we do, and this conference was no different. The theme was "Humble Orthodoxy", and the whole conference was basically about how we don't need to reinvent Christianity to make it cool, we need to rediscover the truth of the gospel--which is already cool enough. Of course, there's nothing wrong with dressing the gospel in a different way (whether that means acoustic guitars or house churches or circular screens [again, see previous post]), but if we reinvent to the point of changing what we believe, what have we accomplished?

I could go on about all the specific messages, and which ones were meaningful to me, but I could seriously do a whole blog post about each of them. Ask me if you're really interested (no really, I'd love to talk about it sometime. Let me know). But I'll leave you with this thought, that has in reality nothing to do with the conference except that we saw it driving home from Loiusville:

DSC06777



Because obviously putting the bike in the truck would have just been too easy.

Okay, that's all for now. Be well! Jesus loves you! (and died just to prove it to you)



(...Eh, I'll probably post again in a month or so.)

UPDATE: Oh yeah, and in addition:

DSC06785



Luther is the man.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Stargate SGM

Just a warning, for those of you not Sovereign Grace-minded, this post may mean nothing to you at all.

Anyway, I'm at New Attitude, and it's really good so far. The worship, the messages, the family groups, and just hanging out with people: it's all great. But I there was something that I felt needed more attention that was currently drawn to it.

Okay, so the conference is about embracing a "humble orthodoxy", and thus the obligatory tagline for the conference is "save the wheel" (as in don't reinvent it). Anyway, when I get here yesterday I see that keeping with the whole "wheel" theme, all of the screens are circular. Observe:


DSC06750


DSC06751


Anyway, the middle one caught my eye, for some reason...especially with this picture that was on the new attitude website:


1


I suppose this means that Captain Picard will no longer be the sole Sci-Fi icon that CJ is mistaken for:


richard65

Friday, May 19, 2006

moving, playing and wedding

Well, me and Dan (Dan and I) are completely moved into Hess 101, and I must say, the room looks pretty sweet (even if it is amazingly small). Yeah, we're half a campus away from everybody else, but we make our own fun--and I'll leave that last statement open to interpretation.

Chad's bachelor party was on wednesday, and it was probably the geekiest bachelor party I've ever been to (out of the two I've ever been to). After kidnapping him and going out to dinner (at a kickass place in Harrisburg called Appalachian Brewery Co.), we went bowling and then had the biggest Starcraft Orgy I've ever been a part of. Like seriously, 6-way teamed Starcraft can (and does) take HOURS. And then in the morning came the highlight: the one-shot D&D adventure with the craziest characters we could come up with. Sadly, however, neither my +1 Greatclub wielding Half-Ogre and Andrew's swashbuckling construct were put to much use, as our party spent the majority of the time wandering around an island in an airship, instead of smashing things like we should have been. Oh well.

In that vein, you'd be surprised how long people like that can keep up conversations with only World of Warcraft and Dungeons and Dragons as subject matter. It's honestly kind of sad. For my part, I tried to inject other subject matters at the Rehearsal dinner. We started talking about TV shows and movies--which quickly turned from subjects such as Indiana Jones and Stargate SG-1 to some random anime where a guy pulls people's hearts out. I gave up.

Anyway, the rehearsal was yesterday, and the wedding is today. While this isn't the first of my friends to get married, they are the first bride and groom that are this close to my age (in fact, I'm actually OLDER than the groom). It's kind of weird, too. They've been essentially engaged the entire time I've known them, but now that they're getting married...I dunno. I'll still have to get used to the fact that more and more of my friends are having sex on a regular basis.

Hoo-rah.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Hoo-rah

Well, the film festival was pretty good, and my film, "Projecting" got a pretty good reception. It didn't win any of the all-new "audience awards" --most of those went to Jim and Matt--but I got some positive comments by people whom I respect, so I'm happy. Expect to see it online--or at least on one of the servers--fairly soon.

I feel pretty good about film now (as I usually do after I finish one). I'd say more, but I'm uber tired. maybe some other time.

In other news, today (aka Hell Day) is over. Which, incidentally means that most of my stress is as well. I've just got a paper to re-write over the weekend, as well as a portfolio to get ready for, and an exam to study for on tuesday. And then I'm starting my new job on the 10th. Hoo-rah. And then moving in with Dan. Hoo-rah x2.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Good, good, and suck

The shoot went rather swimmingly, a huge thank you to all involved. I now only have about 3 shots left, which I'll take care of tomorrow night.

I was in kind of a good mood after that, even after I had a job interview at 8:30 today. Which I nailed, by the way. Yes, it is now official. I will be staying in PA over the summer. I will also be staying in Hess Dorm (apart from everyone else in Bittner), as a "first responder" a.k.a. they'll pay me to help out any of the conference goers who need random crap. Meh. I'll live.

Of course, after those two ups, karma was bound to catch up with me. I've got a presentation to do for tomorrow, and I'm incredibly unmotivated to do anything about it. We've got our powerpoint together, but my notes are a jumbled mess. Eh. I'll get it together.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Re: Call to arms

Scratch that, reverse it. The shoot will start tonight at 9pm, not 8pm. Turns out there's gonna be a poetry reading in Parmer tonight from 7:30 until 8:30 or 9:00. So, I am going to reschedule the shoot tonight for after that. We'll be shooting the crowd scenes first, so that we can be done and the majority of you will be out of there as soon as possible. I can't say how long it'll take, but I can guarantee we'll get you guys out of there by 10.

Thank you all, and please, no matter who or where you are..show up. And bring a friend. Or two. or eight.

Monday, April 24, 2006

A call to arms

I haven't updated in a while (which, by the way is the absolute WORST way to begin a post after a long hiatus), but I'd feel guilty spending too much time updating, so this'll be short.

I think...I'm okay. I had a film shoot last night, and got through probably 75% of the movie. I'm planning two more shoots, and then it should be over with. Let's hope that all the stressing out pays off in the end.

Oh, and on that note, I'm planning to shoot a crowd scene in Parmer Cinema at 8pm on Tuesday, and I think I need everyone reading this blog to be there if at all humanly possible. Come, bring a friend, and be prepared to act like angry theater patrons. I'm about 80% sure I'll be doing this, and if I don't, I'll post a warning on here. So do yourself a favor and check my blog before you head over.

See you there!

In other news, percentages take up 01.5% of this post (including that one)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Now to read that history homework...

I have spent the last 2 hours in Miller first lounge fighting with Brice, Dan, Joel, Andrew, and Michael with Shinai (harmless bamboo swords). We then sat around, and talked about airsoft guns and double Uzis.

I have never felt more like a man than I do right now.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

So did you know that if you look at the imdb page for "Tag der Freiheit" (Day of Freedom), the 1935 Nazi Propaganda film by Leni Riefenstahl, then at the bottom it says:

screencap1


I've gone through several permutations, and none of them make any sense.

P.S. And oh yeah, I'm home.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The obligatory Oscar post

Crash won...Brokeback mountain didn't...

(...somewhere, a gay cowboy is crying.)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

let's see, how do you work this thing again?

Since the last time I posted was right after my birthday, and since I'd hate to miss my "one update per month" quota, here's my top 10 movie list of 2005. I hesitated to put these up at this late date (it's already freaking march of 2006), but I promised so...here they are.

1. Munich
2. Murderball
3. Batman Begins
4. King Kong
5. A History of Violence
6. Crash
7. Junebug
8. Thumbsucker
9. Serenity (well, duh...it's me)
10. Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Honorable mention(s):
Everything is Illuminated
The 40-Year-Old Virgin
The Chronic(what?)cles of Narnia

Now I know none of you really care about this, but I didn't feel like I could do anything else until I posted these like I said I would. I was intending on writing a blurb for each of them, but each blurb I started ended up being way too long, and I could never get through all of them.

So there. Let's just hope that my internal anguish will stop bugging me about it now.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Happy ballsday

Yesterday (and certain parts of today) have, I think, been a pretty good cap to my first two decades of life. And I must say, I feel pretty loved. First, my mommy sent me a present or three: a jazz CD, some candy, and these sweet gloves with fleece on the inside, wool on the outside, and leatherish pads on the palms; pretty much the most perfect pair of gloves that there can be. Now if only the weather would go ahead and be cold, I could use them.

Then, I got like a billion facebook messages, and that made me feel loved--even though that's probably the most superficial way to wish someone a happy birthday. Higher than that is phone calls/messages, of which I got quite a few--some even with singing. Then, after watching one of my favorite movies (Duck Soup), came the communal gift from my college friends of Settlers of Catan, something I said that I wanted on SUNDAY. Only college students. We then proceeded to play the game until probably about 11:30. A good time was had by all.

This was followed by a quasi-creeking involving Joel, Chad, and Michael bringing the yellow breeches to me--by lying in wait in the bathroom with buckets of creek water until I came to brush my teeth. A good time was had by all. The capstone to all of this came this morning when "Happy Ballsday" was written on my forehead by a visiting Greta C. Wink. And although it's already beginning to fade, the balls will always live on in my heart.

Anyway, it's been a cool 20 years so far, and let's hope you all aren't dead by the time I hit 40.

P.S. I meant on the first of the year to put up a "best movies of 2005" list, but I didn't have it finished in time. I then decided that I'd convert it to a "best movies of my 20th year" list, so that I could still have some semblance of a reason for posting it, but I still didn't get all of the blurbs done in time. So I'll turn it into a "best films of the indeterminate time period between the beginning of the 2005 calendar year and the present" list, and put it up whenever I feel like finishing it.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Is Hell Exothermic or Endothermic?

As you study for exams, remember its not the quantity it's the quantity. And remember there is no substitute for pure unadulterated bullshit.

-----
Dr. Schambaugh, of the University of Oklahoma School of Chemical Engineering, Final Exam question for May of 1997. Dr. Schambaugh is known for asking questions such as, "why do airplanes fly?" on his final exams. His one and only final exam question in May 1997 for his Momentum, Heat and Mass Transfer II class was: "Is hell exothermic or endothermic? Support your answer with proof."

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law or some variant. One student, however, wrote the following:

"First, We postulate that if souls exist, then they must have some mass. If they do, then a mole of souls can also have a mass. So, at what rate are souls moving into hell and at what rate are souls leaving? I think we can safely assume that once a soul gets to hell, it will not leave.

Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for souls entering hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Some of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, then you will go to hell. Since there are more than one of these religions and people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all people and souls go to hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in hell to increase exponentially.

Now, we look at the rate of change in volume in hell. Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in hell to stay the same, the ratio of the mass of souls and volume needs to stay constant. Two options exist:

1. If hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter hell, then the temperature and pressure in hell will increase until all hell breaks loose.
2. If hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until hell freezes over.

So which is it? If we accept the quote given to me by Theresa Manyan during Freshman year, "that it will be a cold night in hell before I sleep with you" and take into account the fact that I still have NOT succeeded in having sexual relations with her, then Option 2 cannot be true...Thus, hell is exothermic."



The student, Tim Graham, got the only A.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Not By Andrew

Hey, this is Matt.

I just wanted to tell you all that I am stoopid.

This is not Andrew on Matt's blog.

Or is it?

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The saga of a lost music collection

So I’m back at school again.

Woo hoo.

It’s kind of clich├ęd to say it, but it’s really true that when I’m at home I want to be at school, but as soon as I get here I want to be back home. It’s an old truth, but it has practical significance for me right now. I am speaking, of course, of the fact that half of my music collection is now safely nestled on my dad’s hard drive, yet strangely absent from my own computer.

The story of this sad tale is as follows: My little brother’s iPod had been wiped one way or another (a.k.a. human error [a.k.a. human stupidity]), and I—being the benevolent older brother that I am—allowed him to take all the music he wanted from my computer. He dragged it to a folder on the desktop, and we transferred it to the other hard drive. Unfortunately, a backup was not made and by a strange series of occurances (a.k.a. human error [a.k.a. my own stupidity]) the folder was deleted.

Translation: it’s dead, Jim. Everything’s gone: Ben Folds, The Postal Service, Sufjan Stevens, and even The Arcade Fire. I’m not sure how I’ll live without The Arcade Fire.

Well, all is not lost. I do have about half of my music left, mostly the obscure stuff that Ian doesn’t like, as well as a good selection of Jazz and almost the complete discography of Radiohead.

I will survive (which reminds me…I need some cake).

EDIT: It just occurred to me that the new year went completely by me without me making a post about the year. I've been cataloguing movies/everything into an obligatory top ten, although it's only in my head at this point. Perhaps if you're lucky enough (and I'm feeling un-lazy enough) you'll be treated to my all-encompassing reflections of 2005 next time on: AGNAX.