Monday, August 19, 2002

The Kid Stays Out of the Picture

Greetings, folks-

I believe this will be a shorter update (for once), as nothing of interest has really been going on lately. Sad, I know. But I'll do my best to try to entertain you on this dreary Monday. I say dreary because in my neck of the woods it is actually raining for the first time since I've been here. Although, being a Texas boy like I am, this is definitely not what I'd call rain. It's more like a slow condensing of mist. It's clearing up, though, because in L.A. it's only allowed to rain at night. Messes up shooting schedules, you know.

8/9 - Good news on the transcription job front. They picked up a new project where we transcribe and verify the closed captioning for ABC News programs. This is *far* easier than trying to decipher what drug-addled musicians and brain-dead celebrities are trying to say in interviews-- these are professional announcers. Plus, it's guaranteed work every day, and I get to keep abreast of what's going on in the world. Or at least, ABC's view of what's going on in the world. On the down side, Derek McGinty is getting pretty annoying. I mean, announcing a home run as "get that funky stink outta here?" What is that? At least he didn't say it when reporting on the 25th anniversary of Elvis' death last week.

8/10 - A small local theater is having a series of horror movies this month, and a friend suggested a new independent film that was playing. It was supposed to be scarier than The Blair Witch Project (which wouldn't have been too hard in my opinion). It was called Dog Soldiers, and it really wasn't that bad. I'm not sure if I'd recommend it, but it had some neat ideas and was well produced for a low budget film. My biggest complaint, and perhaps this shows my increased movie-snobbishness since moving out here, was that it really would have benefited greatly from some editing. Had the first fifteen minutes been removed from the film, it would have worked so much better. I mean, suspense and fear are far more effective when the audience gets to discover things at the same time as the characters in the movie. For that reason, I guess I shouldn't really go into details about the plot. Oh well, what do I know about scary movies anyway. Blair Witch made millions.

8/11 - The Perseid Meteor Shower. You would think in L.A., the second (or is it third?) largest city in the US, the light pollution would totally prevent viewing the night sky. Well, you'd be right, really, but fortunately you can drive about 45 minutes north of town and have a very clear view of the heavens from the hills. This is what I did with some friends of mine, and it was a very enjoyable show. I hope some of you got out to see it. It's kind of ironic that I drove away from L.A. to see the stars.

8/14 - I got to go to a real movie preview! I say real because in Houston I was often going to sneak previews of movies before they came out. These were free passes I was given that helped promote the movie through word of mouth before it opened. Out here, a movie preview is more often a work-in-progress, and they measure audience reaction throughout the film, take surveys, and make what modifications they think are necessary to improve the movie. It was a lot of fun. The current title of the movie was Old School. It starred Luke Wilson, Vince Vaughn, and Will Farrell. It was about these late 20's, early 30's guys who through some fabricated movie reason decided to create their own fraternity and live like they did in college. It was actually surprisingly good. It reminded me of older movies like Animal House and Stripes where they relied more on funny situations and characters than toilet humor to get their laughs. I'm not sure I'd put it up in that rank, but you know what I mean. If you're a Will Farrell fan, then definitely check it out because he is hilarious in nearly every scene. The most interesting thing though, was knowing that this version I was seeing was probably very different from what will be released. And possibly, my opinion mattered! I could tell that there were sub-plot lines that could easily be removed by editing out just a few scenes. If I get my way, the two scenes with Andy Dick will be gone completely. Anyway, look for it sometime in a theater near you!

8/17 - You may recall way back in Issue #1 I think it was, that I lamented that no one casted long-haired white guys as extras these days. Well, all that is about to change! A friend of mine let me in on a casting call for long-haired white guys to play extras in a pirate movie! How cool would that be? Anyway, my photo and resume (read: page of lies) are in the mail and I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I think I could be a pretty good pirate. I've been practicing my "Arr, ye mateys" and was planning on doing some looting and pillaging this weekend just to make sure I hadn't lost my touch. We shall see. Keep your fingers crossed.

Speaking of big breaks, it appears as though I shall not be a contestant on Weakest Link after all. I haven't been refused, but in this town not being called as accepted pretty much means refused. Sigh. Marie still holds out hope, but I believe maybe it just was not to be.

Lastly, but not leastly, I will be swinging through town the beginning of next week. I'd very much like to get together for lunch or drinks with anyone who's willing, so drop me a line. I'm just passing through on my way to a major convention in Atlanta called DragonCon. Yet another chance for me to prostitute myself out for the comic book, but this one is so totally bizarre and goofy that it's a lot of fun. Trust me, there will probably be a very long update after that.

I think that's about it this time around. Told you it'd be short. As always, have a great week.


Movie Quote Challenge:

Number 1: "Now, don't you worry. The saucers are up there. The graveyard is out there. But I'll be locked up safely in there."

Number 2: "I don't know how to run a newspaper, Mr. Thatcher. I just try everything I can think of."

Movie Quote Answers:

Louis Johnson correctly identified the movie quotes today:

Number 1: Plan 9 From Outer Space, by Ed Wood, Jr. (overwhelmingly considered the worst movie of all time)

Number 2: Citizen Kane, by Herman Mankiewicz and Orson Welles (overwhelmingly considered the best movie of all time)


One extra note: I feel I should acknowledge that Dale Prasek's e-mail arrived within seconds of Louis's, but as always I defer to the time stamp, and Louis was one minute ahead.

Better luck to all next time!

Monday, August 5, 2002


Hey hey hey! Hope you had a groovy weekend and are ready for more of my tales from the front!

7/23 - The new phone book's here! The new phone book's here! This is the kind of spontaneous publicity I need! My name in print! That really makes somebody! Things are going to start happening to me now. Yes, much like that other jerk, I was very excited to see proof that I actually existed out here. Unfortunately, Marie is not listed. I explained to her why that was so (basically because it would have cost money, and I didn't think it was that important), but sadly it was not enough. However, she has had more professional publicity in the form of fliers and programs for her sketch comedy show (more on that later), so I think we're about even. Sure, more people will see my name (especially talent agents looking for fresh young writers), but what do they really know about Greg R. Pettit of 326 E. Fairview Ave., #8? Do they know that in this paragraph he used excessive parentheses (four, including this one) as narrative aside devices? Can they tell that I'm destined to become one of the highest paid screenwriters in the business? These and other questions are yet to be answered.

7/24 - Marie's Birthday. Although we originally planned to have a party, other conflicts made us opt for a smaller affair at a restaurant/pub down in Hollywood. I think that worked out pretty well. A good time was had by all, and Marie got a special surprise bonus gift. It was a celebrity sighting, and actually my first. He's not an A-list star unfortunately, but he's on Marie's favorite show The Gilmore Girls. We couldn't remember either his name or his character's, but he's the town busy-body that's always causing problems for Luke. I know this because Marie has been trying to educate me on all the shows I haven't been watching over the years. I think I'm up to speed on Gilmore Girls, but I'm still learning about Friends. Anyway, Marie was excited, but we opted not to interrupt his get together to tell him how cool the show is.

7/31 - Auditioned to be on The Weakest Link. This was very fun, weird, and somewhat exciting. Now, of all the game shows out there, this would be the absolute last one I would want to be on, but Marie was going and I was bored so I thought I would go. As we waited outside the studio, around six o'clock we saw Jay Leno leave for the day. I don't know if I really count this as a celebrity sighting, though, because I could wait there every day and see him leave, but I thought I'd mention it. He's a huge car collector, and this day he was driving some 1930s cream colored convertible. I found out later from one of the pages that he actually drives a different car to work *every single day.* That's pretty impressive, I guess. If you've got the money, might as well flaunt it.

The audition itself was pretty strange. It was like reverse jury duty. There was every possible type of person in there, but rather than trying to duck out, they were trying to get on. Everyone around the room had to get up and introduce themselves and say what they did (as long as it wasn't "aspiring actress" or "writer." The best was this odd little man who looked like Stephen Hawking if he could walk. He was a self-proclaimed scientist of the supernatural and occult, and dedicated UFOlogist. He wrote a column for some conspiracy magazine every month, and needless to say was one of the first to be picked *not* to be on the show. We had to fill out forms promising we didn't work for NBC or any subsidiaries, then take a trivia test. It was pretty easy, but I'm embarrassed by some of the ones I didn't know. While the tests were being graded, we had a little question and answer period. It was pretty amazing, because the majority of the questions people asked had to do with how and when do we get our winnings, and what are the taxes. I mean, come on! I don't know how many of you have seen the show, but only the last person standing gets anything at all. Plus, we had to get through this screening process, then another, then meet with the producers for a final voir dire, then get on and win the show. Talk about optimists. My question, of course, was a lot more sophisticated: I asked if they picked the new guy on the show because he looked so much like the old lady. This got some laughs, and must have worked because Hey, I got past the first round!

In the second round, we got to go in front of a camera (just a regular one, not the big TV kind) and pretend like we were actually on the show, including a couple of mock rounds. I think I did pretty well here since I came across as not too big of a loser in my interview, I got both my questions right, and I didn't get voted out. The questions on the mock show were a lot harder than the ones on the written test though, plus the added pressure of being under pressure. My first question was about the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, but I've been racking my brain ever since and still can't remember what the second one was. It's weird, I can remember a lot of the other ones for other contestants, just not mine. Oh well. Marie also made it past the first round, but I won't embarrass her by saying the question she missed. She also got a few votes to be kicked out, but luckily another guy did worse. We shall see. Hopefully, in the next update I can tell you about being on the show, and when to watch for my big television debut.

8/1 - Went to see the Justice League of Idiots. This is the sketch comedy show Marie's playing in. It was in a tiny little theater, and had the wonderfully strong feel of a bunch of people trying to make it in Hollywood. The sketches were pretty good for the most part, or at least they had the potential with a few good ideas and jokes. The real problem was length. You know how you're watching Saturday Night Live and some of the skits seem to drag on forever? Like they have one or two good jokes and think that that's enough to carry a whole skit? Well, imagine that times ten. Well, maybe just times three. Anyway, Marie was good, as were all the other actors, so you can't fault them. Overall, it was just okay. At least they're trying.

8/3 - Drove to San Diego for the International Comic Con. This is the big one in the comic book world. Unfortunately we didn't have a booth at this one, so I was just going to visit friends from Houston and see the sights. It was packed. You've never seen so many geeks in one place (and I include myself in that definition). Many attendees like to dress up in costume for the occasion, which is probably the most entertaining part. I'll just tell you about some of my favorites. First, I saw The Worst Batman Costume Ever. Standing in line to get in was a guy, probably in his 20s, with a Batman t-shirt, a very shoddily made cloth cowl, and to top it all off, a cape made out of a black garbage bag. I wish I had my camera. Next I saw Lando Calrissian. He looked really good, for whatever that counts for. I've just never seen anyone pick him to dress up as. But, my favorite had to be the guy as Han Solo. There were several, most looking very good, but this one took the cake, because he was in carbonite. He was inside this tall thin box with all the trimmings, and in the front he had little holes in the appropriate spots for his face and hands to stick out of. It was hilarious. Couldn't have been comfortable, but there are some sacrifices that have to be made for one's art.

Also exhibiting at one table was Peter Mayhew, signing autographs. Mr. Mayhew, for the geekily challenged, is best known for (well, only known for) playing Chewbacca in the Star Wars movies. To me, this was kind of sad, both in that people actually paid for his autograph ($20 bucks with photo, or $15 if you had something of your own for him to sign) and also in that this is what he does. However, looking at him you can understand why his big role had him wearing a mask.

Remember last update when I gave a luke warm if not bad review to The Politics of Fur? Well, apparently I was right in that I'm no judge of lesbian cinema. The film won Best Narrative at the festival, and Katy won Best Actress. Also, Variety gave it a fantastic review, comparing it to the works of Fassbinder. I'm not really sure who that is, but he must be important. Anyway, mucho congratulations to everyone on the film.

Several of you have asked to read my working script, and I'm sorry I have to refuse at this time. Currently, it's still in what's called the "vomit script" stage. Not because it leaves a bad taste in your mouth, but because it is just the first outpouring of everything to make sure it gets on the page. I'm constantly revising, though, and a more presentable first draft should be ready in the next week. I'll put it on my website when it's ready, so please feel free to check it out. The only thing I ask of you if you do read it, is to be sure to be extremely critical and send me all of your comments. I need it to be the best it can be, and I can only do that if I know what needs to be fixed.

That's about all for now. Have a great week, and think of me when you're having a beer. Or at the movies. Or anywhere, for that matter. Just think of me. Please. I'm lonely.


Movie Quote Challenge:

Number 1: "We're the middle-children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War is a spiritual war. Our Great Depression is our lives."

Number 2: "These go to eleven."

Good luck!

Movie Quote Answers:

Congratulations Kevin Marcus for correctly identifying the following movies:

Number 1: Fight Club, by Jim Uhls (from the novel by Chuck Palahniuk, as pointed out by Mary Felder)

Number 2: This is Spinal Tap, by Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Rob Reiner, and Harry Shearer

Thanks for playing, have a great week!



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