Thursday, September 30, 2010

Secretariat World Premiere at the El Capitan Theatre

Obviously, my invitation was lost in the mail.

The real star is apparently putting in an appearance tonight.  That's a horse trailer and you can't really see it in the picture, but there are shavings under that tent.  For you non-horsey types, shavings are used as bedding in box stalls.


Dang, what a beautiful animal.


I really hope they did Big Red justice.  He should have had a film years ago.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Kings 8, Ducks 3 (It's only preseason, but if they both want to keep playing like this...)

I don't normally pay much attention to preseason hockey.  Not sure why, I just don't get interested until opening night, when the games start to actually count.  But this headline got my hockey-loving attention:

Kings should be good . . . but THIS good?  Yes, it's only an exhibition, but L.A.'s 8-3 victory over the defense-challenged Ducks could be an indication of what the regular season might hold in store for the Southland teams.

Besides the fact that it's so loooong (because we need another reason to bag on the L.A. Times) if this is in fact what's in store for both teams this season, then I am going to be one really happy and smug Kings fan.  It's enough for me for the Kings to be successful, but if the Quacks want to epic fail at the same time that works too.

Regular season starts October 8 (aka my Dad's birthday) at Detroit for the Ducks and October 9 at Vancouver for my wicked-awesome Kings.  Wow.  Opening against the Red Wings.  In Detroit.  Just get out the roasting pans now.
QuackstoasterYou...yes you...are toast!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Back to normal...or whatever passes for normal in L.A.

After yesterday's record-smashing temperatures (113 degrees in downtown! Triple digits at the beach!) things got back to normal today.  While still hot, we can handle temperatures in the 90's.  I finally left my air-conditioned apartment to run the errand I passed on yesterday.  

Note to my Dad: That means your birthday stuff is in the mail!

A few sights from Hollywood Boulevard today:

The fountain at Hollywood & Highland doing its part to keep things cool:


Looking across the street at the historic El Capitan Theatre.  I know where I'm going to be seeing Secretariat:


(This was just an ad that popped up - they're currently hosting a Beauty & the Beast sing-a-long.  Cute.)

Hard Rock Cafe signage competes with Teddy Bears:


Monday, September 27, 2010

Kitteh sings "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star"

Sophie is slacking in the internet fame department:

From the Department of You Can't Make This Stuff Up (Strange Deaths Division)

Segway Company Owner Dies After Driving Segway Off Cliff.

My favorite part of the Gizmodo article (bold mine):
Police believe that it was just a freak accident, with nothing suspicious about the man worth $262m falling to his death.
Really?  Especially when you consider how he died?

The obvious question in all this, is of course: Which CSI wants to take this one?

According to one of the Gizmodo commenters, the answer is Miami.


Don't get the idea that I'm making fun of the poor guy.  What happened to him was awful.  I wonder why he couldn't stop.  I also have to wonder how safe a Segway really is.  This sure doesn't make me want to go out and ride one.

Image snicked from Gizmodo comments.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Father Knows Best: A look back at the Dexter Season 4 finale

Season 4 found Dexter Morgan embarking on a new life as a suburban family man.  It’s a situation that his ghostly father, Harry, greatly disapproves of and he isn’t shy about saying so.  It's a bone of contention between father and son throughout the season.  In fact, by the finale, Harry’s constant harping on Dexter’s attempt to balance a normal life with his homicidal urges, and his dismissal of Rita and the kids is downright callous.  But it’s hard to fault a guy when he turns out to be right.

The Season 4 finale of Dexter has already gone down in television history as one of the most jolting and unexpected moments ever seen on the small screen.  One of the things that has always made this show so good is its willingness to make and execute the difficult story ideas that other shows can't or won't.  A network show will usually only kill off a character if the actor wants to leave, and then the character’s demise is usually well-publicized as an “event” episode and will not come as a surprise to viewers.  Cue announcer voice: “...and things will never be the same!”  

Dexter has done this once before when they killed off his nemesis, Sgt. Doakes, at the end of Season 2.  Season 4 also killed off Special Agent Frank Lundy, who returned in search of the Trinity Killer.  It’s an indication of how strong this show is that it can dispatch major characters and not be weakened by their departure.

The annual season-long arc for Dexter was his attempt to "live the dream" of normalcy (combined with serial killing), and his fascination with Arthur Mitchell, aka The Trinity Killer.  Initially, Trinity seemed to be pulling off the trick Dexter is having trouble with, balancing family life with his homicidal urges.  Despite having satisfied the Code of Harry (confirmation that Mitchell was, in fact, a killer worthy of some Dexter-style justice) early on, Trinity was allowed to continue to live so that Dexter could study him in pursuit of a successful double life.  This delay produced horrific results for the Morgan family.

Eventually, we learn that Arthur's happy home life is a facade.  Nonetheless, late in the finale, Dexter is still determined to have it all, even if he has to figure out the "how" by himself.  Unfortunately, waiting to dispatch Trinity to his great non-reward meant that Dexter gets himself not a happy home, but a nightmare Seven-ish finale: He got the bad guy, but the bad guy got him too.  Played by John Lithgow, who would win a well-deserved Emmy for his portrayal, Arthur/Trinity is the first person we've seen beat Dexter at his own game.

In the end, as Arthur lies on Dexter's killing table awaiting his fate, the veteran serial killer seems to be imparting advice to a young upstart; this morphs into an entirely different and much more chilling conversation when re-watched knowing what awaits Dexter back at the house, especially the chuckles at Dexter's insistence that, unlike Arthur, Dexter is good for his family.  Arthur makes the cryptic comment, “It’s already over,” (both the first and last thing we ever hear him say) and Dexter doesn't know it yet, but he has just been completely outplayed.

The episode's seemingly stubborn insistence on plodding toward a happy ending made the last reveal all the more jarring.  And upon finding his dead wife, Dexter knew instantly that by not cutting Trinity's killing spree short much earlier, he was responsible for Rita's horrifying end as Trinity's final victim.  One of his first comments after discovering her body: Harry was right...

His unsuccessful attempt at normalcy and at keeping the Dark Passenger from being the biggest influence in his life would seem to put Dexter back on track as far as Harry’s Code is concerned.  He ran wild in Season 4 and the result was deadly and devastating.  He became increasingly careless, eventually leading Trinity to his place of work, his true identity and eventually to his family.  Early in the finale Harry tells him, “The messes are piling up,” and that pile soon came crashing down.  Harry didn't mince words when it came to Dexter's ill-fated attempt to be someone he's not.  One can only imagine the conversation they'll have when Season 5 begins.

The sad fact is that Harry was right all along.  The family was a liability that Dexter simply could not balance with his true nature and his attempt to do so caused their ruin.  If Dexter had listened to Harry, followed the Code and offed Trinity earlier, Rita would still be alive and her children wouldn’t be orphaned.  Granted, she’d still be married to a serial killer, but as long as she was blissfully unaware of this fact, she was happy.

In addition to dooming his wife, Dexter also inadvertently helped Trinity complete his final quartet: The kidnapped boy, the young woman bled out in a tub (Rita), the suicidal young woman (Christine) for once not staged and the bludgeoning of a middle-aged man (rather than his usual knife, Dexter used Arthur’s own hammer for the lethal blow).

Michael C. Hall did his usual fantastic job as everyone's favorite sociopathic serial killer, embroiled in his toughest battle yet.  This was made all the more impressive later when it was revealed that Hall spent the latter part of the season being treated for non-Hodgkins lymphoma (he has since made a full recovery).

Also major props need to go to Jennifer Carpenter.  Always excellent, she really stepped up this season as Debra suffered the loss of her boyfriend and things became more and more traumatic for the foul-mouthed detective, culminating with her discovery of Dexter’s lineage.  It was touching - and kind of pathetic - hearing her tell Dexter that he’s only constantly good thing in her life. You have to wonder how it would utterly destroy her to discover the truth about him .  Finding out about Harry’s numerous CI’s/mistresses has damaged his memory for her.  It’s hard to imagine her finding out that not only is her beloved brother a sociopathic killer/monster, but that Harry knew it and not only failed to institutionalize him, but taught him how to hide in plain sight while satisfying the Dark Passenger’s homicidal urges.  His good intentions notwithstanding, Dexter will always be potentially harmful to those closest to him.  Trinity made that abundantly clear.

Dexter wanted to learn from Arthur, specifically how he balanced a normal, successful family life with the Dark Passenger riding shotgun.  What he ended up with was an unfortunate lesson in the importance of Harry’s Code and why it had been put into place to begin with.  The Code is there for a reason and when you deviate from it, bad things happen.  Dexter has had the occasional doubt about Harry and the Code in the past.  I doubt he’ll have them in the future.

On a cheerier note:

Image snicked from here.

Dexter returns tonight on Showtime.

Dexter (official site) - Dexter on Facebook - Dexter on TwitterJohn Lithgow on Twitter

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Looks like I might have to subscribe to HBO for a month

HBO Checks in With Hockey Series.

From the linked article:
HBO is lacing up its skates and joining the NHL in drumming up interest in the league's midseason marquee event, the Winter Classic.
HBO sports is producing a four-episode series, 24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the NHL Winter Classic," which will debut Dec. 15.
This might be my Christmas present to myself.  Plus, in addition to the behind the scenes stuff, this should be one hell of a game.

Vaudeville at the Alex Theatre

Alexvaud1Last Sunday, the Alex Film Society presented Vaudeville Returns! at the Alex Theatre and the Brother and I headed over to Glendale to catch the show.

The Alex was originally built as a vaudeville house.  It has been beautifully restored and is now used for a variety of events and screenings.  Our previous (and first) trip to the Alex was in February when they screened Psycho on the big screen.

The show started with five live acts, ranging from music, juggling and hula-hooping to mind-reading, all with lots of comedy.  We even had a card girl who came out between acts to reveal the next act.  My personal favorite was comedian Dana Daniels and his unflappable co-star Luigi, a psychic parrot.  Yes, psychic parrot.  Judging from the level of applause all the acts got when they came out for their final bows prior to intermission, I wasn't the only one who held that opinion.  All of the act were terrific in their own ways.

After the intermission, a quartet of shorts was screened.  We got a Hearst Metrotone Newsreel, which featured Adolph Hitler violating the Treaty of Versailles by sending the German military into an area annexed from Germany by the treaty, setting up the uncomfortable possibility that the "War to end all Wars" - World War I - might not be the last war after all.  It was kind of eerie, knowing what lay ahead for the people who sat in a theater and watched that newsreel so long ago.

One of the other news stories came out of nearby Montrose, which initially made the locals happy, but it was about new (at the time) firefighting techniques.  Too soon after the Station Fire, guys.
There was a rather bizarre Dave Fleischer cartoon that had the Mills Brothers dropped in the middle of it, performing a "follow the bouncing ball" sing-a-long.  The song had nothing to do with the cartoon, but it was still a neat song and the vocals were beautiful.  With the exception on one guitar, there were no instruments, just the brothers' voices, and it sounded like you were listening to a full band.  This was a trademark of their act.

The Our Gang short had the kids attempting a performance of Romeo and Juliet in which everything predictably went awry.  Featuring Alfalfa, Spanky, Buckwheat and Darla, the kids are so young here that you have to marvel at their comfort level in front of the camera.  It reminded me of the origin of Our Gang (aka The Little Rascals), when Hal Roach was distracted by a pretentious performing child auditioning in his office by a bunch of normal - and much more interesting - children playing outside his window.  They were just kids being kids.

The day wrapped up with Laurel & Hardy's Hog Wild.  Oliver Hardy's battleax of a wife insists he set up a radio antenna on the roof.  Stan Laurel shows up and Hardy enlists his help, or more accurately, "help".  Everything that can go wrong, does go wrong, with the Hardy's roof and Laurel's car among the many casualties.

The vaudeville show is an annual event at the Alex and I highly recommend it the next time it comes around.  The Brother and I had a lot of laughs, and we were also pleasantly surprised at how many kids were in attendance and actually enjoyed the show.  In addition, the theatre itself is a sight to see.  The following were taken with my Crackberry and don't do the place justice, but you get a general idea of how beautiful the Alex is and how meticulously it was restored.  It's also in the Americana at Brand area, so there are a lot of places to go for dinner, drinks or coffee before and after the show.


Alex TheatreAlex Film SocietyAlex Theatre on WikipediaIan Whitcomb - Ian Whitcomb on Wikipedia - Jeffrey DaymontThe Amazing Bornstein ExperimentMat PlendlDana Daniels - Hearst Metrotone NewsOur Gang on WikipediaWhen Yuba Plays the Rhumba on the Tuba on imdb - The Mills Brothers on Wikipedia - Hog Wild on imdb

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Here's hoping the TCM Classic Film Fest has an affordable option this time around

You know, for those of us who love the classics but don't have celebrity-sized bank accounts.

2nd annual TCM Classic Film Fest announced.

Least expensive pass for the first fest was a whopping $500.  I still can't believe I had to miss it because of that.  I live right down the street from the damn thing.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Not ignoring the blog...

Just lots of family obligations lately.  Including today.

Sophie, however, is ignoring you.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Parking 'tard, Miracle Mile

I emerged from the Ralphs on Wilshire Boulevard this afternoon to this cheery sight:


Why yes, that is my little blue Corolla in a space clearly marked "COMPACT".  The massive truck next to it, also in a spot clearly marked "COMPACT" and parked waaaay too close to the aforementioned Little Blue: Not mine.  I can read.  Also, I can park.

I considered waiting for the idiot truck owner to come out so I could congratulate him on his selfish stupidity, but opted for opening my door as hard as I could.  I had just enough room to slip in.  I didn't look, but I'm hoping this particular shade of blue shows up really well on his paint job.  Too bad I didn't have a heavier door, I could have really left a sign of my regard for his parking idiocy.

The truck was actually sticking out into the lane.  Maybe next time he can just park on top of my car.  I mean, if you want the world to know you park like a jackass, go all out.

Fuzzy photo taken with my Crackberry.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Inside the Dexter Writer's Room

Dream job.

Dexter returns Sunday, September 26 on Showtime.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Some writerly ramblings...

White Collar spec: Finished through Act 2/page 30.  Still haven't figured out how they're actually going to solve the crime, but given the amount of progress I've made lately, I'm looking forward to getting to that point and having to find a way to make it work.  I'll be making OC runs today, tomorrow and possibly Saturday, so not much is going to happen with it in the next few days.  Deadline for Scriptapalooza TV competition is October 1.  Since I didn't get this one finished in time for the Screenwriting Expo competition, I really want to make it into Scriptapalooza.

Beyond October 1: Thinking of taking a shot at The Mentalist when I finish the current project.  Also still want to try writing a Dexter spec, but need to see how they proceed in the new season.  I'm beginning to think this may not be a great one to spec after all, since the show resets so much each season.  I also have a feeling that Hawaii Five-0 will be a very popular show to spec if it turns out to be as big a hit as everyone is anticipating.  That could be a fun one to write.

Screenwriting Expo: Program/schedule still pretty thin even though it's less than a month away.  Still waiting to see what other classes and speakers they will have to determine whether or not I need to shell out for a Gold Pass or just regular registration.  I'm beginning to think that the key to getting the most out of the Expo is only attending every other year.  I had a blast last year, check it out here: PreviewReport #1 - Anthony ZuikerReport #2Report #3 (Hawaii Five-0 is discussed), Report #4Report #5 - Goldman/Cleese.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Ahem. May I have your attention please.

Hockey season is imminent, so expect to see me posting stuff like this.

Via NHL on Facebook, THIS:

Does your breakfast lack team spirit? Spice up the most important meal of the day with this Los Angeles Kings ProToast™ toaster from Pangea®. The retro-style appliance leaves the mark of the team logo on every piece of bread. It also features adjustable settings and can accommodate 2 slices of bread.

I realize there's an obvious "The Kings are toast" joke in here and that I really should be looking at the Ducks toaster, but there's no way anything bearing a Quacks logo defiles my home.  Or my toast.

Team toasters on Shop

Friday, September 10, 2010

Why a new blog?

Welcome to To Live and Thrive in L.A., my new blog.  Why a new blog?

I've been in a personal, professional and creative rut for an extended period of time.  Couple of years, in fact, and I need a change of scenery, something to kick start my life.  I can't make a physical move at this time due to my dicey employment situation, so this blog became my outlet.  I kind of think of it as moving to a new, fresh and hopefully exciting place at least creatively and I'm hoping this will will have the effect of energizing me.

I also wanted something a little different in tone.  Rose Parade was a bit of everything (including politics, which I hadn't initially wanted to get into online, but events pushed me in that direction).  I also recently decided I wanted to simplify things blogwise, and while at the time building RP with lists and links and all sorts of fun stuff was enjoyable, now I want things just...quieter, I guess.

For the new blog, I'm looking to make it more of a journey of creativity, the pursuit of trying to make that creativity a career, and of not just living but thriving in a fascinating place like Los Angeles (hence the new design and name).  There will, of course, be much yammering about my beloved L.A. Kings and many, many pictures of Sophie, because let's face it, there's just no such thing as too many pictures of my incredibly photogenic cat and the Kings are made of awesome these days.

Also, check out the shiny new URL!  Luckily, since I have an unusual name, it was still available.  I feel like I'm sitting at the grownups table now, internets-wise.  It is kind of bizarre to see my name in a url, though.  That will take some getting used to.

You'll notice some duplicate posts from the last days of Rose Parade in the archives.  This is because when I was starting the new blog I didn't want to launch it without existing content.  There are also a lot of new posts, because during the aforementioned rut I just lost interest in keeping RP up while I was working on the new blog.

Rose Parade was the blog I wanted over the past five years.  To Live and Thrive is the blog I want now and for the foreseeable future.  Also, I'm kind of surprised I never heard from these guys about the previous blog's name.

So I've finally decided that the shiny new blog is ready to go, although I may tinker with it a bit more.  Comments on the new look are welcome.

Oh, and please enjoy this picture of Sophie!


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Countdown to the 2010-2011 hockey season

Staplescenterday Our boys in royal purple and black marching out of the dressing room and into battle.  Blades scraping on ice.  Bob Miller's voice.  Jim Fox and his snarky sense of humor.  These are things that make me, a long-time (and long-suffering) Kings fan happy.

Exactly one month from tonight, October 9, the Kings will begin the season in Vancouver.  CAN. NOT. WAIT!!!

The Brother and I are going to the Kings/Quacks game on December 26.  These are actually my birthday gift from last June (tix to the game of my choice).  More tickety purchases to follow, no doubt.  This situation would be helped immensely if I could find a full-time job.

We've been eagerly awaiting this season ever since the last one ended.  GO KINGS GO!!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

My version of Labor Day

Laboring over my White Collar spec, trying to beat tomorrow night's final deadline for the Screenwriting Expo writing competition.  This is complicated by the fact that my usual Wednesday family obligations got moved to Tuesday this week.  There's a doctor's appointment involved, so it's not up for discussion.

I actually worked out a lot of my story issues today.  I always do my best work with a deadline looming.
Speaking of Screenwriting Expo, I still need to buy my pass for the Expo itself.  Man, I hate not having a regular paycheck.

Now back to my script.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

RIP Wilma. Again.


I can't believe it's been five years since she died.  So sad.  She doesn't even have a category on the new blog.  I mean, what's the point?

It also means that Sophie is five years old.  I have to say, she's done a hell of a job replacing Wilma.  That was a tough act to follow.

God bless both of you little fuzzies.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The difference between an idea and a story

Me trying to figure out my latest TV spec:



Notice which card is blank?