Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey folks-

Sorry the update's a little late, both in the day and the week, but I don't really have any new adventures to tell you. I just wanted to send a note out wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving, and express my appreciation for all the support, and that you all haven't changed your e-mail addresses. Thanks for listening (reading) my ramblings, and have a good holiday.



Distant early warning-- My party is definitely on again for next year, Saturday, February 1st. I know that seems awfully far away, but it has a very easy tendency to be here before you know it. The theme this year is television, so start planning your costumes accordingly!

Movie Quote Challenge:

Number One: "What a fitting end to your life's pursuits. You're about to become a permanent addition to this archaeological find. Who knows? In a thousand years, even you may be worth something."

Number Two: "Those aren't pillows!"

Movie Quote Answers:

Congratulations!! Joel Swift was the first to correctly identify this round's quotes.

Number One: Raiders of the Lost Ark (a reminder of my party, I hope) by Lawrence Kasdan

Number Two: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (a reminder of the holiday) by John Hughes

Thanks for playing, everybody, have a great weekend.


Monday, November 4, 2002

Jackass: The E-Mail

Greetings, sports fans!

That is, if there are any sports fans left there after your Texans' disappointing 38-3 loss, but hey, look on the bright side-- The Rams won!

Well, I must be losing my memory or not taking good notes, 'cause I was sure I had all sorts of exciting things to write about this time, but I can't remember them all. So does that mean a short update? Heck no! I'm sure I'll find all sorts of random, irrelevant crap to ramble on about, so let's get started!

10/25 - 10/27 - I went to a three-day screenwriting seminar given by a guy named Robert McKee. This name probably doesn't mean anything to most of you (nor should it, really), but he is *the* big-time screenwriting guru. Every other book or lecturer on screenwriting always references or recommends Mr. McKee, and with good reason. The course was pretty overwhelming, to be sure. It was three 10-hour days sitting and listening to him speak/perform. Of course, these could have been 8-hour days easily if he didn't go off on so many irrelevant tangents. I'm not exaggerating, either. The first day, the first two hours had absolutely nothing to do with the course. But, he is an entertaining old coot to be sure. For example, during one of the first day's opening rants, he complained about cell phones. Nothing new or unusual there, but he went on to say that if any rang during the course of the lecture, the owner would have to pay him ten bucks. Sure enough, the next day someone's phone went off. And true to his word, he stopped the lecture, walked up to the culprit, and stood there with his hand out until they coughed up $10. It was awesome! You can imagine what a frantic scouring through pagers and cell phones happened next as everyone made sure they wouldn't be next. Even better, someone forgot again the next day, and another ten went in his pocket.

As a lecturer, McKee was very engaging. This lecture was all about story, which is his forte and also the basis of his main book. His book is jam-packed with great info, as was the lecture, but there was one large difference. The book is rather dry and textbook-like, no personality. His lecture is very much filled with personality, which for him includes more cursing than a dockside bar full of sailors. It was great! Here's this smart, old, opinionated curmudgeon giving a lecture like a George Carlin routine. McKee's a Carlin fan, too, I found out when talking with him during the break.

Speaking of comedians (you like that segue? I'm a writer you know), also attending this class with me was Drew Carey. I wasn't sure if it was really him at first, so I had to play a little stalker/detective. You know, quietly standing behind him to hear his voice, taking the urinal next to him in the men's room, stealing his wallet and checking his ID, that kind of stuff. But it really was him, so celebrity sighting number two I guess. Anyway, in answer to your question, no, we're not best buds now. I didn't go up and talk to him or anything because I just don't know what the etiquette is on that. I mean, is that rude? Does it bother celebrities when complete strangers walk up and introduce themselves? I don't know. I try to imagine what that would be like for when I'm extremely rich, powerful, and famous. I mean, if someone came up to me and said, "Hi Greg, don't you remember me? I'm your mother" it wouldn't bother me too much as long as my security team was able to haul her away before she got too close. (That's just a joke, Mom.)

The lecture ended with a six-hour, scene-by-scene analysis of Casablanca, which was really, really cool. I've always liked the movie anyway, but having it picked apart like that showed me so many levels that I'd never considered before. McKee used the movie as a neat example and summary of all the things that we had talked about all weekend, and it was a very effective closing note. His analysis and conclusion filled all of the class with hope and excitement. The class was very much an overload, but I came home very excited to get back to work. The entire time during the lecture I was taking notes not about the lecture (I have the book, so it wasn't really necessary), but about ways to fix the screenplays I'm working on. I knew there were problems, but now I knew why, and had a better idea of how to fix them. This was definitely worth the time and money, I found it extremely inspirational. Now, a question that may be on your mind is "Why didn't you take this course a long time ago?" Well, that's a good point. I should have. I didn't know much about it before, but I won't use that as an excuse. I have no excuse. The only answer I can give is a quote from George Eliot: "It is never too late to be what you might become." The key is to not let this current enthusiasm wane.

10/31 - Happy Halloween! I had a fun mis-translation at the Transcription Company today. "Candy and costumes" became "Kantian costumes." I can just imagine dozens of elementary school white-wigged philosopher children running about the neighborhood. "Although there is no moral imperative for you to give me a treat, reason clearly shows that choosing to receive a trick would be bad."

Halloween has always been my all-time favorite holiday, but I find myself now in the same boat that many others have been in for years concerning Christmas. The crass commercialization of the holiday is really starting to get to me. I'm certainly not an observer of the religious aspects of Halloween, but all this other crap they're selling now really changes it for me. Cute little witches and skeletons? Halloween lights? Halloween trees? What happened to the days when Halloween was actually supposed to be spooky? Is it impolitic to scare children these days? sigh. Oh well, for now I guess I'll just have to let it go. But you can bet that when I have a house in a neighborhood with trick-or-treating children, my garage will become a haunted house so frightening that I'll have to hand out clean pairs of underwear at the exit.

So, what did I do on Halloween? Nothing too exciting, unfortunately. I went to see The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari at the silent movie theater. It's a classic from the German Expressionist period (wow, doesn't that sound exciting!) and it's full of really weird angles and scenery. Sadly, it's not really full of entertainment. I was rather disappointed, but glad I saw it nonetheless. However, I have to vent for just a second about something else. During the intermission at the theater, they had a costume contest (I didn't win, sadly) of all the people there. Not everyone was in costume, and some were better than others, but that's to be expected. Here's my beef, though. Third place went to Mr. Clean (bald guy in white pants and shirt, with cotton balls for eyebrows). Not bad, but certainly not too difficult or original. He didn't even remember the gold earring. First place went to a pair of clowns. They looked very nice, but come on, clowns? How hard is that? But here's the real kicker. Second place when to... are you ready? The Unabomber. Huh? Yes, a guy with a hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses won second place in a costume contest with a six-year-old news reference. Way to go. I guess it would've been too frightening to dress up as a sniper. You don't want to scare people on Halloween.

11/2 - I was playing games with some friends when I made an interesting discovery. Apparently, one of the guys I kind of hang out with (we're not really close, we just meet up sometimes) wrote Last Action Hero and The Adventures of Ford Fairlane. Now, I realize that's not the same as having written A Beautiful Mind, but it is two scripts that actually got produced, whether you liked them or not. I'm not sure whether or not (or how much) to pester him about it yet, though. I mean, clearly I want to learn whatever I can from him, and in Hollywood speak, "use this contact to my advantage," but at the same time I don't want to scare him off by becoming this desperate wannabe screenwriter groupie. You want to hear a really scary story of how Hollywood I've become? Earlier in the evening (before I found out his writing credits) he invited me over to his house to play this old computer game we had a lot of nostalgia for. I kind of shied away, not sure if I really wanted to spend that much time with him. When I later found out his credits, I started mentally kicking myself for turning away a chance to get to know him better. How shallow is that!? It's happening! Oh no!! Help me!!!

Okay, that's about all I got this time. I hope everyone has a great week, and I'll talk to you soon!


Movie Quote Challenge:

Number One: "Some people without brains do an awful lot of talking."

Number Two: "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine."

Movie Quote Answers:

Congratulations to Joe Henderson! He correctly named the following movies:

Number One: The Wizard of Oz, by Noel Langley

Number Two: Casablanca, by Julius & Philip Epstein

Thanks for playing, better luck next time!



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