Monday, July 22, 2002

The Boring Identity

Welcome back!

Yes, I know, this one's late too. Believe it or not, I was going to send it out last Thursday, but I decided to wait until today for a number of reasons: I knew I'd have more tales to tell because of an event I was attending, I would have a chance to develop pictures and post them online, and I wanted to get back onto the Monday schedule. This last may not sound important, but it is to me because it is one tiny way in which I can enforce discipline for myself, something I have been sadly lacking lately. Anyway, enough with the whiny excuses, on with the show!

Wow, how far back do I have to go? It seems like ages.

7/6 - Yet another tale from the Silent Movie theater. As you can tell, I've become quite a regular fixture there. I've tried to get a job there on a couple of occasions, but sadly no luck. Anyway, the feature, or I should say the movie, was Harold Lloyd's For Heaven's Sake. It's very good, and rare to see Lloyd anywhere these days, even though he was the number one box office draw at the time. Anyway, the actual *feature* of the night was a special opening band that played on stage before the movie. It was Janet Klein and her Parlor Boys, and of course I don't expect you to have ever heard of her. They played all period music from the 10s, 20s, and 30s. The lead singer looked, dressed, and acted the part. She looked just like Louise Brooks, another famous silent film star. The theater was packed! It was great to see so many people there, but sad that so many had just come to hear the band only because of a favorable write up in the paper. The couple next to me didn't even stay for the movie! What's another hour to see something you've never seen before, and likely never will again? She sang these strange and wonderful tunes in an almost Betty Boop like voice. Some were strangely bawdy ("let me put my banana in your fruit basket, baby" Although why a woman would sing that I have no idea.), others were just simple and romantic. It was truly a great experience. They even did an old Burns & Allen routine, including little quips during the song. A sample groaner:

George: You are quite a girl, you know that.

Gracie: I know. But I used to me more.

George: Oh? How's that?

Gracie: My mother showed me a picture from when I was two.

The back up band was pretty amazing as well. One guy was playing a Stroh violin, a weird contraption that looked like half a fiddle with a horn stuck in it. It amplified and aimed the music so it could be recorded better. Wow, entertaining and educational! Anyway, it was great fun. I've put a couple of MP3's on my website if you're interested (the link's at the bottom). If you liked the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, then I think you'd like this. Even if not, it's interesting.

7/7 - As a result of my addiction to the silent movies, I've been bringing different people there to get hooked as well. Marie's parents were in town so they were exposed, as well as the previously mentioned Joe Grisaffi. Just a refresher, Joe's the director of Laughing Boy (available on DVD August 27). Anyway, he was really taken by the silent, and re-inspired about an old idea he had. We talked about it, he liked my ideas, so now we're working away on a short film! Woo hoo! It's still in the early stages, but Joe's really excited about it, and he's definitely a guy who can get things done. It's called "Buster Keaton Meets the Living Dead." It's an homage to both the old Keaton movies and Night of the Living Dead, mixing the genres of the two. Believe it or not, it is going to be very funny. As for the current working title, a close friend of Joe's was friends with Buster Keaton's wife and thought he could get permission to use his name. Sadly, she is now passed on, so that connection is gone. We'll still pursue it, but it could be that we have to make up some fictional silent comedian like Slappy McGillicutty or something. Anyway, I'll be sure to keep you posted. Anyone want to play a zombie as an extra?

7/9-10 - My wonderful sister was in San Diego and invited me down for a visit. How can I refuse? Plus, I got to meet more stewardesses! Oops, I mean flight attendants. Anyway, San Diego is a beautiful city, and it's right next to the Happiest Place on Earth: Tijuana. Of course a visit was required. For those of you who know of my fondness for good tequila, you can imagine how excited I was to be able to get some for cheap. Sadly, all they had was the cheap stuff. I'm sure if I could get deeper into town I could find a store with a better selection, but sadly in the high tourist areas they cater to the lowest common denominator, and the really good stuff was hard to find. Oh well. I won't go into all the sordid details, but here are some words of wisdom from what I learned:

1) When the promotion guys in front of a bar entice you in with two- or three-for-one drink specials, they don't mean you'll all get *a* drink for the price of one, they mean you'll all get *three* drinks for the price of one.

2) If they give you a small shot of "tequila," more than likely it is similar in taste to rubbing alcohol. Not that that's bad, necessarily...

3) Never trust a man with a bottle of Cuervo and a whistle around his neck.

4) It is impossible to look cool in a sombrero.

7/13 - Marie and I went to a local radio station-sponsored concert called Livestock. It was a combination of bands and comedians, alternating between the two. It was pretty good, but I mention it just because something I thought was weird happened. As you can imagine from any outdoor, multi-band, radio station concert, the crowd was rather diverse. Mullets were not rare. Anyway, the second act to hit the stage was Richard Lewis, the neurotic, black-suited comedian from shows like "Anything But Love" with Jamie Lee Curtis and his recent role as a rabbi on "7th Heaven." (Come on, you don't watch that show?) He mentioned at the beginning of his set that he has cleaned up through rehab. That may have been a mistake. He got booed off the stage! I realize that his frantic, whining, New York Jew comedy might not be to everyone's taste, but booed off stage? That just seemed weird to me. This is a relatively big name comedian. But, like I said, without the cocaine-induced paranoia and hyperactivity, he really wasn't in top form. Oh well. It was still embarrassing to watch.

7/17 - I have this group of friends that I get together and play board games with about once a week. It sounds incredibly geeky, I know, but if you've ever played these games you'd understand. But that's a different story. It's fun, plus a good way to meet people, or as it's called in this town, "make contacts." This time I found out that one of the guys I've been playing with worked on Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Lots of people did, but he was the one who actually designed the spacesuits! He doesn't do anything like that now, but that was his first gig when he got out of college, and I just thought that was cool. Thanks for letting me share.

7/19 - Remember the independent film I worked on a few months ago? The Politics of Fur. It had it's L.A. premiere, and since I worked on it I got a free ticket. I'm all about free these days. It was at a gay and lesbian film festival called OutFest. Lots of single chicks there, I tell you. And hot, too, if you're into combat boots and leg hair. At least I found out what the title of the movie meant. It opened with a "short film" that was one of the most ridiculous things I've seen. It was a really poor quality video looking out from the elevator as it climbed the Eiffel Tower. That's it. Oh, and Edith Piaf singing "La Vie en Rose" in English (travesty). Okay. So, on to the feature. It was okay I guess, but I'm really not a good judge of independent lesbian cinema. It was well received by the audience though, and that's all that matters. The really important part of the story is afterwards. As much of the cast and crew that was around met at a nearby watering hole to celebrate the screening. I met a couple more PAPs, bringing the total to four, which is much lower than I expected by now. I need to meet more people in the biz I suppose. I talked with the actor who played the gay man (sometimes somewhat explicitly), and heard his story about how he wasn't gay when he played it, but it put him so in touch with a gayness he had been hiding, that it helped him come out. That's great for him, and a great story, but it also makes me question the strength of his "acting" skills in that role. But all of this is really just leading to something I heard that I believe is the best L.A. statement I've heard so far. One of the other crew members was talking about how she just got back from a Meditation Retreat. No, that's not it. She said, "It really stressed me out." What the? Was she doing it wrong? Were they having strenuous meditation exercises presided over by an over-zealous Drill Sergeant? Did she get her money back? Plus, she said that's why she couldn't remember our names. Good excuse, I guess.

7/20 - I had my first visitor! Cecil Habermacher, a friend from work, was passing through town and we got to meet for breakfast/lunch. (I refuse to say brunch). And he paid! I'm all about free these days. Thanks, Cecil. It was great catching up and hearing tales from the old workplace, and reminding myself that I'm not just on vacation, due to return to work any day now.

7/21 - I finished the screenplay! It's still a rough first draft, but now I can start getting feedback, start on my next idea, and clear my mind a little before I go back to polish it some more. I'm only letting a few people read the first rough, but after the first revision when I'm happier with it, I'll let more take a look at it. But only if they're willing to be extremely critical. I need that, and I want that. Anyway, the first draft is the hardest, so I'm extremely pleased to have that out of the way.

That's it. I'm done. I have more random tidbits, but due to the length of this one, I'll just hold them for some other time. Please check out the website and photos. Oh yeah, I almost forgot! I got an awesome picture of the In & Out Burger. It was also one of the days where they put a trainee out by the sign to take orders personally, so I got her in the shot as well. Now you can see the famed simple sign I talked about all those updates ago.

Take care, everyone.


Movie Quote Challenge:

Number 1: "Nobody's looking for a puppeteer in today's wintry economic climate."

Number 2: "He may look like an idiot, and talk like an idiot, but don't let that fool you. He really is an idiot."

Movie Quote Answers:

Kelly Tice has once again correctly identified the movie quotes. He even included a .wav file of the second one (Groucho Marx) in a pathetic attempt to brownnose me. Ha. Thanks for the file, though. I was really hoping the Duck Soup one would take a little longer, but oh well. Like I've said before, it's difficult to tell which quotes are too hard, and which are too easy. Have a great week!

Number 1: Being John Malkovich, by Charlie Kaufman

Number 2: Duck Soup, by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby.

Wednesday, July 3, 2002

Corn on the Fourth of July

Hello hello-

Yes, yes, for those of you keeping track, this note is a few days late. The sad truth of the matter is, I don't really have anything very interesting to talk about. So, this one will be pretty short. Of course, I've said that before and somehow always managed to take up a fairly large amount of space, so let's see.

6/17 - 6/21 - Work really slowed down at The Transcription Company. We have a daily ritual of calling in every morning to see if they have work for us. This week was very, very slow. There were days when no work was available until mid-afternoon. This is not good. Speaking of which, I sort of got in trouble at work, too! I say "sort of" because it was somewhat of a trouble-by-proxy kind of thing. I had been talking with my friend Adele (the documentary filmmaker?), explaining to her what I do, and how weird it was. She was intrigued and wanted to look into actually doing a short documentary about it. I have to admit, talking to a computer all day is interesting in a weird sort of way. She contacted the head of the company to look into it, and here's where the danger began. When she revealed me as her source, red flags went up. Apparently, I'm under a confidentiality agreement that keeps me from talking about what I do. I guess it's like I'm in the CIA or something. Probably some of my past updates would get me killed! Except for the occasional mention in the updates (please ignore everything I said about Kenny Loggins!), I really had refrained from talking about *what* I talked about, but it seems I wasn't allowed to talk about *how* I did it either. Strange, since the voice recognition software is available to everyone. Anyway, it looked as if it was going to be a big to-do, but so far nothing has really come of it. The president of the company invited her for a tour, she decided it wasn't as interesting as it sounded, at least not enough for a documentary, and there hadn't been enough work for me so by the time I got back to work it had pretty much blown over. However, there could be more to come. The president makes a policy of having lunch with each of his employees, and mine is coming up. I hope he doesn't take away my badge and gun.

6/23 - Every month there is the L.A. SciFi and Comic Book Convention, and this time I decided to get a booth to promote our Texasylum on the West Coast. Hey, it can't hurt to have more exposure, besides the table was cheap. The convention itself is fairly impressive, at least by Texas standards. It was pretty big, very crowded, and every month they manage to have big name guests. It's just like the morning radio talk shows-- everybody in L.A. is promoting something, so any opportunity to show their stuff they're going to take. As for me, being the big name celebrity that I am signing comic books, it was mostly just the same old thing. For those of you who have luckily escaped hearing me rant and complain about participating in comic book shows, I'll give you some insight. For those of you who have (a hundred times), I'll keep it brief. I hate it. Standing out there, hawking my wares, being friendly to weird strangers like a cheap prostitute, all for a measly $3 sale. But hey, you got to promote yourself, right? That's what this town's all about, so I suck it up and smile. One interesting thing about this particular show was the kind of questions I was asked. Being the writer, I don't often get a lot of questions since most comic book fans are more focused on the art. But here, there were a lot of people doing the writing thing. But what was really odd, I thought, was the number of people who asked how I actually published a book. As if it took some incredible act to contact a publisher, write a check, and come back with a box of comics. I mean, out here all you have to do is call yourself a producer, and Bam! You are one. There are no regulations or requirements, just the will. I was surprised that attitude didn't extend further. Anyway, sales were good, it was lonely at the booth, but the neighboring booths were interesting. Rather than put all of one type together (like struggling, disgruntled, independent comic publishers), the organizers wanted to mix it up. There was a bootleg video salesman to my left, a booth of "collectible" toys that had come out in the last two years to my right, and behind me, discount DVD porn. So, I guess it was at least interesting.

After the show, it got even more interesting. On the windshield of my car, as well as every car in the parking lot, was not just a flier, but a videotape wrapped in a flier. "AN OPEN LETTER" it says in large type, above a picture that looks like Charles Manson, but I've decided it's actually the maker of the video. Text all over the paper claims that the tape is "too intense," "If you have a television there is no escape," and "It casts a spell in effect, and the blow weakens your psyche." Plus, it said "One viewing of this tape, and you will die in seven days!!!!" So, of course I had to watch it. I mean, what better way to make the next seven days exciting? Well, I don't want to spoil it for all of you, so I won't go into plot details, but it wasn't very good. In fact, there was no plot, and I was very dismayed by the extent to which it reminded me of the documentary shorts I had watched a few weeks before. You remember, clouds, trees, light reflecting off water? Only this time, the images were far less interesting, and somewhat twisted. An eclipse, maggots, static, that sort of thing. Fortunately, it was only about five minutes long, so it had that going for it versus the documentaries. If you dare! to read the amusing whole text of the letter, plus I think a web-version of the video, check out the site: (link no longer valid -G.). I don't know if visiting the site will cause you to die in seven days, though. With the speed of the internet, it's probably more like four.

6/24 - 6/28 - Another workless week at The Transcription Company. This is getting very bad. So bad, in fact, that I've also been looking into doing contract work in, aah, say it isn't so! tech writing. My personal albatross. However, in a positive light, I've also been using the time to write the screenplay. About time, you say. Yes, well. The way I've always worked is to constantly churn the material in my head, then when it's ready I can just vomit it all out onto the page pretty much at once. In fact, that is an additional reason this update is late, is because I seriously expected to be finished this past Sunday. Alas, not to be. The ideas are flowing perfectly, but the actual barfing is taking longer than I expected. However, there is no doubt I'll finish it in the next day or two. It's called "The Ace of Clubs," and the log line (fancy term for one-line summary) is "An up-and-coming pro golfer discovers that his caddying brother has actually been helping him win by manipulating the ball with his mind." It's a light, feel-good kind of movie, very different from the comic book, obviously. My dad will be very pleased with that! But don't worry, the next one that's currently coagulating in my brain is much more dark and serious. Anyway, I'll probably be putting the treatise (fancy term for a long, complete synopsis) up on my website in a few days if you're interested. I haven't decided if I'll post an Acrobat version of the actual script, but even if I do, it won't be until after several revisions. If you're worried about me risking losing my idea to another writer, don't. I'll be registering it with the Writer's Guild, of course, but in Hollywood, it's actually cheaper to buy an idea than it is to steal it. Just a weird way things work.

7/1 - One benefit of the delayed update is I get to tell an additional story. Monday, Marie had members of her improv troupe over to practice. It's actually a combination skit/improv group somewhat like Saturday Night Live, so they had scripts to read from. It's called the Justice League of Idiots, and they all have superhero take-off names, and the skits all revolve around that sort of superhero humor (some of it kinda crude, so definitely not a show for the parents). I don't know what the Superman character is called, but Marie plays "Wonderbra Woman," and another guy who is over was a version of the Flash called "Fasty." I immediately said, "Wouldn't it be funnier if your name was Quicky?" Oops. That got me in a little bit of trouble. They liked it. I got to sit in and listen to them rehearse, and take notes, and make comments, and add jokes and material. I was supposed to be working on the script, but I ended up writing for these guys! Actually, it really was a lot of fun, and I discovered I had a lot of talent for it. One of the guys said he had a friend who's job was to do just that. He's called a Punch-Up Writer, and he takes jokes from Leno or whatever, then tweaks them to make them a little better. Wow, I could do that! So, a new avenue to pursue for me.

Okay, well that's going to be it for me this time. No doubt I'll think of many things I've forgotten once this goes out, but oh well. I hope everyone has a fantastic Independence Day and long holiday weekend!


Movie Quote Challenge:

Number 1:

"Words. Words. They're all used up. They're hard to say. They've all been wasted (give it to me) on the shampoo commercials, and the ads, and the flavorings. All those beautiful words. I mean, how can you love a floor wax? How can you love a diaper? I mean, how can I use the same word about you that someone else uses about stuffing? I'm exploding with love for you, and I can't use the word."

Number 2:

"Gentlemen! You can't fight in here, this is the War Room!"

Movie Quote Answers:

Wow, this one was close! Kelly Tice gets the prize, but Dale Prasek answered correctly as well. Unfortunately, his e-mail arrived one minute later (based on time stamp, not my reception). Nice work. Interestingly enough, this puts Tice in a tie with Prasek for correct answers!

Number 1: Roxanne, by Steve Martin

Number 2: Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, by Stanley Kubrick, Peter George & Terry Southern.

Thanks for playing!


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