Thursday, November 30, 2023

November Words of Wisdom: Homebody Edition

This is how I feel about my home: A place you don't ever want to leave. It's something forever, a home for keeps. --Nancy Zoleta
The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned. --Maya Angelou 

For more tha n we know, do the strength and beauty of our lives depend upon the homes in which we dwell. --J.R. Miller
Our homes are a canvas for living, whether we live in the city, the country, at the beach, in a penthouse, or a cabin. Each is home and tells our story. And my goal is to bring a tradition of quality and good taste to all the places that we call home. --Ralph Lauren
People are usually the happiest at home. --William Shakespeare

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Recent reading: "The Ins-N-Outs of In-N-Out Burger"

by Lynsi Snyder
It may sound weird (especially if you've never had the pleasure of eating at In-N-Out) but one of the best things about being a Californian - especially in this sorry age of the not-so-Golden State - is the ability to claim the In-N-Out Burger chain as our own. 

Lynsi Snyder had the great fortune to be the only In-N-Out heir born into her generation and after her uncle, father, and grandparents passed away, she inherited the successful and beloved chain while only in her twenties. Now forty-one, she has stepped up and grabbed the baton, continuing the high standards set by previous generations and has led In-N-Out to even greater growth than ever imagined, and without any compromise. After reading this book, I have a great deal of admiration for her. She works hard, she works smart, she holds herself to high standards, and she doesn't let it overwhelm her. If you check out her social media, you'll find someone who is having a blast and living her best life.
Lynsi repeatedly praises the In-N-Out workers (known as associates) and the customers, always giving them credit for the continued success of the company. Before I even finished this book, not only was I craving their food, but also found myself wondering why I never applied to work there. My first-ever real job as an unskilled sixteen-year-old was at McDonald's, which is the perfect place for someone unskilled and inexperienced. It was actually pretty good training. But In-N-Out is on another planet in terms of how they train, treat, pay, and promote their associates. The examples of In-N-Out's beyond the call of duty way of doing things are too numerous for a blog post - read the book and learn.

To her credit, Lynsi also addresses some of the issues that have plagued her family, including drugs and abuse, her ill-advised early and unsuccessful marriages, and she does it simply, without apology, and with grace. She is currently in a happy, healthy place, and has become the great leader that In-N-Out needed after losing both members of the second Snyder generation before their time, leaving the company in a potentially vulnerable position. She has also dedicated her company and herself to multiple non-profit organizations that combat against and aid victims of child abuse, substance abuse, and human trafficking.

Snyder has four children of her own and I imagine they are being groomed to continue the glory that is In-N-Out Burger without compromise for generations to come. And that is great news for Californians and fans of great burgers, amazing service, and high quality food. 

From the book:

Together with my team, I began studying our menu on the most intricate level to see if we could improve quality even more, making items better and healthier. We discovered a number of practices we were using were outdated. For instance, we worked with all our bakers to remove calcium propionate (a mold inhibitor) in our buns and replaced it with natural enzymes. With our chilis and pickles, we removed artificial Yellow 5 and replaced the additive with natural turmeric. In our strawberry shake syrup we removed artificial Red 40 and replaced it with natural fruit juice. In our vanilla shake we removed ethyl vanillin and replaced it with natural vanilla. In all our shakes and lemonade we cut out high fructose corn syrup and replaced it with natural sugar.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!!!


May we all have much to be thankful for, a wonderful day to enjoy it, great people to celebrate it with, and of course, all the yummy food to cap off the day!

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Story fodder galore!

This popped up on my Facebook feed today: 23 Shocking Secrets Revealed About People After Their Deaths. AKA 23 potential story ideas, right writers? Look at you BuzzFeed, making yourself useful!

Hey horror writers - this one showed up in my inbox this morning: You can win a scholarship to a Horror Writing Retreat in a Haunted French Castle! Talk about ambience:
The medieval French castle, Ch√Ęteau Marouatte, where the Horror Retreat will be held, is a 700-year-old castle, hidden deep within ancient woodland, where British and French royalty have also stayed...

What's so haunted about it, you may ask? Well, crystals mysteriously appear in rooms overnight; coloured orbs fly around the interior of certain towers; ghostly faces appear in bathroom mirrors, and the noise of the clanking of chains being dragged across bedroom floors can be heard from time to time... what more do you need to inspire (or terrify!) you, when you're writing a Horror Script?!

Although several rooms are haunted, non-haunted rooms are also available for the faint of heart...
It's open to all horror writers regardless of whether you're writing a novel, screenplay, or TV pilot. Make it quick though - they're only taking applications through November 23.
Happy Haunting Writing!

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Hmmmm...short stories having a moment?

This is the first I've heard of it, but according to Creative Screenwriting it looks like short stories are having their Hollywood moment

According to the article, Verve Talent Agency has recently sold fifteen short stories to producers and studios, some of which resulted in bidding wars. Horror and thrillers seems to be the most in demand. I haven't heard anything about this in the crime/mystery community but it can only be good news for writers.

Some highlights from the article:
  • “It’s almost replacing the spec script, but definitely becoming more sought-after than the spec. To me, the short story has become a real opportunity for writers, novelists, and playwrights, to really make an impact with a different way of showing a story, unlike we’ve seen quite some time,” 
  • The agent compares the excitement of short stories to the explosion of spec script sales during the 80s and 90s. And it shows no signs of slowing down.
  • The key driver of successful short stories “is a matter of finding a story or character we haven’t seen already. It just has to feel unique, special, and different. It has to feel like you’re taking somebody to a place they haven’t seen before,”
Like I said, this is the first I've heard of short stories being a significant conduit to a film deal or sale in recent times, but a lot of people think that the new contracts signed by WGA and SAG-AFTRA will result in studios and producers being less willing to throw millions of dollars into projects, and also that they will be green-lighting a lot fewer projects, preferring to focus on quality rather than quantity. This could also mean they will be looking in new places for material that can be produced for a reasonable cost and again, that could be beneficial to writers looking to move into film and television. I guess we'll find out.

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Heads up: This is a Toyota family

Just a warning not to misidentify my holidays. 

H/T to shitheadsteve and moistbuddha on IG for the LOLZ.

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Vincent Price's Halloween Specials - SNL

I haven't seen these before stumbling across them earlier this month. And who knew Jon Hamm could do such a great James Mason?

Monday, October 30, 2023

October Words of Wisdom

Bedrooms are our sanctuary. They should evoke tranquility, calm, warmth, and beauty. It's where we greet each new day and close the day we leave behind. I find great value in simplicity of the room where we sleep. Subdued lighting and little distractions, our beds are our sacred place. I consider the bed in which we sleep one of the most considered and and valuable possessions. --Rachel Ashwell
Being at peace is the ultimate power play. --Unknown 

Life tried to crush her, but only succeeded in creating a diamond. --John Mark Green
Never regard study as a duty, but as the enviable opportunity to learn. --Albert Einstein 
When one door closes, another door opens, but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we don't see the ones which open for us. --Alexander Graham Bell
I have been bent and broken, but - I hope - into a better shape. --Charles Dickens

My silence doesn't mean I agree with you. It means your level of stupidity rendered me speechless. --Unknown

"I don't need anyone" is a statement made by those who at some point needed someone but no one showed up. --Sara Kuburic
Stay away from negative people. They have a problem for every solution. --Albert Einstein 
Freedom is not the right to do as you pleases, but the liberty to do as you ought. --Fulton J. Sheen 

Right is right, even if everyone is against it, and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it. --William Penn

If God doesn't judge America, He owes Sodom and Gomorrah an apology. --Rev. Billy Graham
Until then, paint it black. --Eddie Muller, The Czar of Noir

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Saturday, October 28, 2023

It's Pandermonium!!!

South Park took on the panderverse and it's pandermonium! 
Stan, Kyle, Cartman, Kenny, panderverse-style

While not quite as perfect as the firing-on-all-cylinders Worldwide Privacy Tour episode from earlier this year, this "special event" zeroed in unerringly on most of its targets. Some of the absolute winners in this episode:
  • First of all this: the South Park/Disney logo mash-up. This cracked me up.
  • The woke recasting of every single South Park character, with not only the boys recast as empowered women of color, but also Butters' dad, Mr. Garrison, the police chief, and the proprietor of City Wok recast the same as well.
  • Cartman not only as a black woman, but also as evil alternate-universe Kathleen Kennedy.
  • Grinding Hollywood in general (and Disney in particular) about recasting long-beloved characters as different from the originals, then doubling-down when fans object.
  • We also got an appearance from Bob Iger, but only got to see The Boss in a picture. I've heard this may not be the last time South Park takes on Disney, and with Steamboat Willie-era Mickey Mouse going into the public domain in 2024, who knows what Matt and Trey have planned for the House of Mouse in future episodes.
  • Look what they've done to our City Wok:  
"Shitty Woke, take order prease!"

The subplot in which uneducated handymen become Elon Musk-levels of wealthy because none of the other men in South Park - all college educated professionals who have become dependent on AI for daily tasks - are able to perform basic chores like repairing an oven door, fixing heaters, assembling catapults, and repairing broken windows was pretty sweet, although I really wish that they were just doing actual seasons with double-digit episodes on Comedy Central, because this could have simply been broken up into two terrific regular episodes. (NOTE: see update about this storyline below).

At the end, the episode did extend a bit of an olive branch in that Cartman admitted that his 10,000+ complaints per day about woke casting may have been overkill, but I think it was a bit of a hollow victory for cartoon Kathleen Kennedy. The most loathsome character in the show admits that behaving excessively was excessive behavior isn't as much of a victory lap as it may have seemed, IMO. You know who doesn't have to apologize for his objection to recasting? Kyle. His complaints, legitimate rather than excessive, aren't rendered invalid, and I think that aspect may slyly escape some viewers.

All in all, worth the six bucks to re-up with Paramount+ for a month. There's a few other things I want to check out on the service: a really well-reviewed documentary on the Milli Vanilli scandal, and a second season of Beavis & Butthead. Then I'll probably opt out again until the next time South Park decides to eviscerate the entertainment industry.

UPDATED 5:18pm: This episode of Clownfish TV on YouTube posits that the handyman storyline was a jab at the striking writers and actors who feel special and therefore don't want to consider real jobs, while blaming AI for taking their jerbs, while the handymen are the below-the-line workers who can adjust to demands of the real world and get jobs outside the industry if they have to. I like it.

Friday, October 27, 2023

Halloween is coming!

Well done, horse owner!

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Look! Up in the sky!


That's a pretty witchy owl.