Thursday, June 30, 2011

It's a cookbook! I mean, it's a Rod Serling biopic!

Finally, a film I'm actually feeling excited about: Picture If You Will, A Movie About Rod Serling.

Casting should be fun.  I'm thinking Guy Pearce would make an awesome Serling.

Also, SyFy will be running their annual July 4 Twilight Zone marathon.  I'll be tuned in for sure.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Walk of Fameish, sort of

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has announced the lucky winners of Walk of Fame stars for 2012.  Here they are, along with my italicized snarky comments:

Motion Pictures: Jennifer Aniston, Vin Diesel, Scarlett Johansson, John Lasseter, Malcolm McDowell, Sumner Redstone, Kate Winslet and Richard Burton (posthumous)

Aniston and Diesel are the biggest head-scratchers here.  Aniston is the poster child for actors who 1) don't make the transition from small screen stardom to big screen stardom and 2)  Hollywood seems determined to shove down our throats as movie stars despite it just  not happening.  Vin Diesel is Vin Diesel and both will no doubt receive their stars on dates that coincide with the release of their latest big screen bombs.

Television: Valerie Bertinelli, Matt Groening, Mariska Hargitay, Patricia Heaton, Marg Helgenberger, Walter Koenig and Adam West.

Aniston would make more sense in this category, since she was on one of the most successful sitcoms in TV.   Ditto Groening, Hargitay, Heaton and Helgenberger (times two with China Beach and CSI).  Bertinelli is borderline, I think she gets a nod simply for longevity.  I can see her and Aniston competing for the same Lifetime MOW roles in the not so far off future.

Walter Koenig and Adam West?  Apparently the Chamber ran out of solid candidates and have moved on to people who had one really good audition day.

Recording: Pepe Aguilar, America, Boyz II Men, Hal David, David Foster, Vince Gill, Jennifer Lopez, Ann and Nancy Wilson (Heart) and Barry White (posthumous)

Heart, Foster, Gill and White are just now getting stars?  But Jennifer Lopez and Boyz II Men don't have to wait thirty years?  I take comfort in know that if there wasn't a Jennifer Lopez, there wouldn't have been a Hennifer Lopez.

Radio: Ellen K.

Apparently every deserving radio peep has already received a star, as this choice indicates that the Chamber is now moving on to Rick Dees/Ryan Seacrest sidekicks.  Consider this classy offering from the official KIIS-FM website:
Ellen is always on the lookout for "Citizen Sleaze" to add to her :60 Seconds of Sleaze report at the bottom of every weekday morning hour.  If you see sleaze happening, email Ellen K right here to get it on the air!
The way this is going, I guess I should be relieved they didn't name any recipients for the category of live theater.  God knows who or what they would have come up with.

The thing to remember about the Walk of Fame is that it's not a place to honor stars who will be remembered for their excellence decades from now.  Sure, that happens sometime, but first and foremost it's a tourist draw, not a homage.  And like I mentioned before, it's also a marketing tool - notice (if you haven't already) how many star ceremonies coincide with the honorees' latest project.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Welcome to Los Angeles, Mike Richards!

The Kings made a big fat trade yesterday: Kings acquire All-Star Center Mike Richards from Philadelphia.

After the initial shock of finding out we gave up prospect extraodinaire Brayden Schenn and fan favorite Wayne Simmonds, Kings Nation settled down to the realization that our team just go a whole lot better.

Ditto Real GM Lombardi

I don't follow other teams - especially east coast teams we rarely play - enough to play scout, so while I knew we got a great player in Richards, I was initially shocked Lombardi would even consider trading Schenn.  This concern was eventually offset by a post I saw explaining that Schenn is a Richards-type player, except now we have Richards without having to wait a few more years for Schenn develop to that point.  Richards is only 26 and signed long-term, so the future is now.  Plus, by shipping Schenn and Simmonds to the east coast, Lombardi minimizes the amount of them coming back to bite us in the ass that will occur, always a consideration as this has happened time and time again in the Kings history.  This is all good.

Another way of examining a trade is to check out the reaction of the other team's fans online, and Flyers Nation is reeling right now.  This trade - along with a couple other moves Philly made yesterday - prompted a Still a Flyers fan? poll on the HF boards.  Reactions from Kings fans on HF and at Lets Go Kings is a little more upbeat.

Lost in the shuffle of all this was the release of the 2011-12 season schedule yesterday morning right before the trade was announced.  More on that when I find the frigging print option button that doesn't seem to exist on that page.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Customer service fail: US Airways edition

So, because flying isn't already annoying and stressful enough, you arrive at the airport to discover that this classy and charming fellow is on your flight and even worse, the airline doesn't do jack about it:

It's called dressing appropriately for the occasion.  You might want to look into it, loser.

That's right, US Airways employees ignored complaints from other passengers and allowed this idiot to board in this getup.   A week later the same airline took exception to a passenger wearing sagging pants and the result was his arrest.  I'm not a fan of the saggy pants by any stretch of the imagination, but at least he was actually wearing pants, however ineptly.  Not to mention Mr. Saggy Drawers defense lawyer just got a big, fat early Christmas present thanks to the jackass in the stripper outfit and US Airways refusal to deal with him.

In addition to the planeload of people who had to fly with this idiot, I have a feeling a lot of potential customers just crossed US Airways off their list of airlines after reading this article.  I know I have.  No way I pay for the privilege of being subjected to this crap.

And it just figures this happened in San Francisco.   That place makes L.A. look like middle America sometimes.

The Hardest Part of performing is making it look natural

I've always loved Blondie's music, but I also always thought Debbie Harry seemed incredibly uncomfortable and devoid of stage presence, at least in the band's music videos.  Example:

Great album and song, painful performance

Seriously, it reminds me of Britney Spears' infamous and disastrous MTV Awards appearance:

I never saw Blondie in concert.  Was Debbie as awkward in live shows as she was on video?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Return of the NHL Guardians. Ugh.

I thought this Stan Lee/NHL Superhero thing was a one-shot for the 2010-2011 All-Star Game.  Turns out I was wrong: NBCUniversal getting into superhero biz.  And unfortunately for everyone involved, it's this superhero biz:
The media giant has entered into a venture with Guardian Media Entertainment, parent of the Guardian Project, a new franchise of superheroes created by Stan Lee and done in partnership with the National Hockey League.
The Guardian Project was unveiled earlier this year during the NHL All-Star game, which was carried by NBCUniversal's Versus cable channel. The characters are named for the 30 hockey teams in the league and will be used as a promotional tool for the sport.
When the Guardians were announced, they were a resounding flop with hockey fans and I really thought they would go the way of the glow puck.  Looks like they're here to stay.  They have a website and everything.

It's important to know your audience.  I can see where the Guardians would appeal to comic aficianados.  I can also see where this project might have sounded good in theory.  But as it turned out there didn't seem to be a lot of overlap between Lee's audience and a bunch of big, loud beefy guys up in the 300's in Staples Center, working on their third $11 beer of the night and screaming at the refs to get off their knees and stop blowing calls.

I blame Gary Bettman.  Of course I pretty much blame Bettman for everything and I'm not alone in that among NHL fans.  Forget superheroes, you know what would save the day for hockey fans?  A commissioner who is actually a hockey guy.  If you're getting booed when you show up to present the Stanley Cup, you're doing it wrong.

Dear Mr. Lee: It's Los Angeles Kings, not West Hollywood Kings.  Please change the lavender to royal purple.  Evil Commish will back us up on this.  Love, Kings fans.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Scenes from a burial at sea

My Dad passed away last month.  His service was an extremely small one at his house that focused on the joy of life and the importance of accepting death as part of it.  We then buried his ashes at sea off the coast of his beloved Kailua-Kona.

It all went about as perfectly as it could.  The whole thing was exactly what he would have wanted for himself.  I'm surprised he didn't make arrangements himself ages ago, but with the help of an awesome local funeral home and their associates, we were able to make it happen.

Table shrine.

The blue and white container on the table contains his ashes.  Until you have to arrange a service you have no idea of how many urn options are available.  We chose this one because it's biodegradable, so it can be placed directly into the ocean.  This way you don't have to open the container to spread the ashes, thereby avoiding any wind issues.  Don't laugh, it's not just a Big Lebowski thing - my uncle told me a story about the time a couple of his pilot buddies tried to spread a friend's ashes from their plane.  The results were similar to what you see in the Lebowski clip.

The Blue Box.  You can also get urns with the logo of your favorite baseball team.  If I ever see an L.A. Kings urn, I'm making arrangements.

Our ride, Sea Wife II (the yellow boat) approaches.

 On our way.

Looking back at the shore.

The Sea Wife's day job is fishing vessel for hire.

After making our way about three miles offshore, the boat stopped and the ceremony began.

Captain Kent was suffering from badly chapped lips, so First Mate Corey did the conch shell honors.  The shell is blown once in each direction (north, south, east and west).

We said a few quick words then deposited Dad's ashes in the ocean he loved so much, along with flowers from leis (you have to take the leis apart because the strings are bad for the sea life).  He sank pretty quickly.  Probably in a hurry to get some snorkeling in.

Mom also brought several roses, which bobbed on the surface like little bouys.

The boat then circled the site three times (per tradition) before heading back to shore.

Black flags are flown to indicate a vessel in mourning.

All in all, it was a very beautiful and peaceful event, which we really needed after losing my Dad.  I wouldn't mind my own being exactly like this when the time comes.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Beachfront properties

I've been writing very little lately.  In fact if it wasn't for blogging, I'd have probably forgotten how to type by now.  There was the whole serious illness followed by death in the family thing, followed by the unfortunate family drama thing.  Take it from me, real life can put one heck of a damper on your creativity.   Add in an enforced, lengthy absence from Los Angeles and you've got a miserable, unproductive and very homesick writer.

Then yesterday afternoon I decided to do the artsy thing, packed up my current project and headed for the beach, hoping the location would offer to volunteer as muse.  And boy did it, way beyond any reasonable expectations.

My seemingly eternal White Collar spec is the current work in progress that I really need to finish so that I have something for scriptwriting competitions.  How long is it taking me to complete this thing?  Since I started it, I've gone from rabid fan to barely watching this show anymore.  Not good.  Way too long.

Despite the fact that it was up to about 50 pages, this script was far from done.  I was happy with the dialogue and the case.  I was even able to work in a questionable piece of real life "art" from a co-worker's hilarious story about her trip to an exhibition populated by a bunch of pretentious artsy types.  The problem I was having was figuring out how to actually solve the thing.  I didn't have the all-important the "gotcha" moment where all is revealed.  I had a great idea and some fun moments, but no story.

I'd faithfully painted my hero into a corner: Neal admits to being at an art gallery the night its shiny new display is stolen but denies any involvement with the theft, only to have his story contradicted by his tracking anklet, which shows him nowhere near the gallery.  Is he lying?  Is the tracker malfunctioning?  Why would  a world-renowned art thief turned Fed claim to be at the scene of a crime he didn't commit?  And how awesomely would this play into the ongoing trust issues between the charismatic career criminal and his salt of the earth FBI handler?  Pretty damn awesomely, that's how, except for the part where I couldn't figure out how to tie it all together and actually make it all work.  So many hows and whys, but no answers.

Until yesterday, in the blissful atmosphere of a Kona beach, when I suddenly figured it all out.  I was sitting at the pristine shoreline, script and pen in hand, observing everything around me and marveling at its calming influence.  And suddenly things just happened.  I don't know how or why, but everything came together.  I waded in crystal-clear water then sat on the shore with sand between my toes and inspiration struck.

I suddenly had all the answers I needed and for a couple hours yesterday, all was right in my world.  The beach provided little muses: beautiful pieces of coral, recently shed anenome shells, a lone hermit crab patiently making his way through tidepools formed from lava rock and the ocean's ebb and flow, ominous but beautiful slate-gray clouds in the distant skies above Kona's coffee-growing regions and the answers to all life's mysteries.  Okay, that last part is an exaggeration.  It was only the answer to one of life's mysteries.  But it was the one I needed at that moment: the mystery of how to make my White Collar spec work.

I'll take it.  Especially after the heinous, non-productive last couple of months I've had.  There is light at the end of my White Collar tunnel.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Signs of the times

Check out these hilariously inappropriate (by today's standards) print ads from days gone by.  26 Shockingly Offensive Vintage Ads That Would Never Fly Today.

My personal favorite:

Things sure have changed!

From Business Insider (H/T to Victoriana Magazine on Facebook for the link).

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Great moments in the life of a Kings fan

That moment when you discover Jonathan Quick is on Twitter.

Hopefully it's Quicker for reals this time, as opposed to the imposter who briefly impersonated him on Twitter and Facebook last month.

Left: Jonathan Quick after 60 minutes of being awesome.
Right: Drew Doughty channeling Kings nation.

Overused photo credit: Danny Moloshok (AP).  I swear to God I'm going to be crediting this guy for this picture for years to come.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Another quarter, another Industry Insider logline contest

The Writers Store presents the quarterly Industry Insider Screenwriting Contest.   As always, the logline is provided by a working Hollywood writer and entrants submit up to the first 15 pages of their script.

This edition's logline is from Robert Mark Kamen (Taps, The Karate Kid franchise, The Transporter franchise, Taken):
After waking to find his wife dead in their backyard, a man conducts his own investigation, and uncovers the hidden life of a woman he thought he knew.
For some strange reason I have the urge to write this as a comedy.  Sick, I know.

Deadline for this competition is July 31, 2011.

Note to self: DVR "Rizzoli and Isles"

Like a lot of actors these days Angie Harmon (star of TNT's Rizzoli and Isles) is on Twitter.  Unlike a lot actors on social media she doesn't seem to have a problem expressing herself without someone storyboarding it and typing it into Final Draft for her beforehand:

Heck yeah I RT'd that s@%$!!!

My personal experience following actors on Twitter is that they frequently disappoint.  Left to their own unscripted devices they tend to fall short of the attention-worthy public persona that has been built for them.

Not Harmon.  She owns this s@%$.

The Golden Donut Short Story contest is on!

The Writer's Police Academy announces the Golden Donut Short Story Contest.  Entries will be accepted beginning tonight through August 19.

At stake:
  • The prestigious Don Knotts Golden Donut Award (sponsored by the High Point North Carolina Public Library and Krispy Kreme).
  • Bragging rights.
Okay, I added the bragging rights.  They're not official.  But I think they should be.

The rules are relatively simple:
1) All stories must be based on this photograph:

2) All stories must be 200 words.  No more, no less.  This includes the title.

3) Lest you think the competition is looking for stories in the Don Knotts/Barney Fife vein, be sure to read this part carefully: ...take us on a journey that’d scare the pants off Poe himself. Did I just hear a scream coming from inside. Has someone been murdered? Or, was it the howl of a troubled spirit? Perhaps, a killer is using the old house as a hideout. Maybe, vampires live there. Who knows?

So get writing.  There could be a Golden Donut Award in your future.  Or mine!

Photo snicked from article linked above for purposes of pimping this writing competition.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Blast from the past: ELO pre-ELO

Via Californiality, check out The Move performing California Man:

The Move was before my time, I only ever knew them as the band that had originated California Man, which to me was a Cheap Trick song.  I never realized that they became Electric Light Orchestra, a band I've always liked immensely but apparently never enough to research.  It was always enough to just enjoy their music.  And their seriously awesome jukebox-inspired logo.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Alice's Bucket List

Alice's Bucket List is a blog by a fifteen year old girl suffering from terminal cancer.  She lit up Twitter yesterday and prompted me to fulfill one of her wishes: I signed up to be a bone marrow donor.

It's quick and easy, you can do it online.  Just go here to get started.  The process doesn't involve anything more invasive than swabbing the inside of your mouth and you don't even have to show up to get it done.  They'll mail you the kit.  They couldn't make it simpler.

I don't know about the rest of you, but for me signing up for something like this is one of those things I think about doing whenever I hear of someone in need of a donor, but never get around to actually doing.  Well, it's done.  Just like that.

After I signed up I left this comment on Alice's blog:
Consider yourself responsible for one more bone marrow donor than there was yesterday. I signed up online today after hearing about you on Twitter. God bless you and I wish you all the best. You are making great things happen.
I hope Alice gets a miracle, she certainly deserves it.  If not, she's going to make more of an impact in her short life than most people who live to be ninety.

Some people never learn

When last we saw employees of Southern California's major grocery chains returning to work after being on strike for five months, the results were less than impressive.  Almost half a year's wages lost and the issues they had struck for largely waived in order to reach a settlement so they could get back to work.  But apparently those lessons (assuming any were learned) have been forgotten: Grocery worker strike looms.

Since the last strike, a lot of changes have occurred.  This strike now would be a boon to Fresh & Easy, which wasn't even a glint in the Southland's eye during the last strike.  Self-checking lanes have come into existence and become a normal and acceptable option for shoppers.  This has to have reduced the number of union jobs available and with that in mind it seems logical that if there are fewer jobs available, it's an employer's market and maybe you should just be glad you have a decent job with decent benefits at a time when too many people don't have either.

Speaking of those benefits, that's apparently the issue that has the union threatening a strike.  Let's take a look at those, shall we?
Employees are now having to "pay deductibles, premiums, and all the things that have caused the fact the employers are not paying their fair share in the health and welfare benefits," he said...

A proposal sent to the union calls for employees to pay health care costs of either a $9 a week for individual coverage or $23 a week for full family coverage, according to the flyer. Employees would qualify for a health care plan by working between 16 to 24 hours per week depending on their position...
Ralph's said it would increase its contribution to the health care fund from $234 million from the last three years to $365 million over the next three years, the flyer said.
Based on what I know about benefits (having worked in the medical insurance industry and human resources) these people have got it good.  Most employers have historically paid premiums only for the employees themselves and contributed little or nothing toward dependent benefits.  $23 a week for full family coverage is a steal.  If everyone could get medical insurance for $9 - $23 per week, there would be no healthcare crisis.  Also, 16-24 hours per week is only part-time employment and most employers do not offer benefits at all to employees who work so few hours.  I don't know what the hell they're complaining about.

Oh, and making a statement about "heartless shopping" in an economy where a significant amount of the population are barely able to purchase the minimum they need to survive?  Just a plain stupid comment.  Whoever came up with that needs to be permanently barred from any occupation that involves any type of public speaking.  This whole situation is a perfect example of how out-of-touch the unions and their members are with life in the real world, and why many people feel that unions have outlived their purposes and usefulness.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Great moments in bad publicity - Delta Airlines

Delta Airlines charges returning troops $2800 in extra baggage fees.

According to the story Delta changed its baggage policy because of this story, but it took two of the soldiers making a vid and posting it to YouTube (and the resulting outrage) to shame the airline into adhering to the policy as is was communicated to the Army and troops.  But bad publicity is bad publicity and the damage is done.  I know I'd think twice about booking a flight on Delta just because of this incident.  It's not like there aren't other options when taking to the unfriendly skies.

You would think that if there was company policy that Delta would make sure their employees were up on, it would be anything and everything to do with accommodating our troops.  I have a feeling someone is out of a job - or at least "reassigned" - at Delta today.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Newsflash: Dumb politician cheats on wife, behaves inappropriately, lies about it, gets busted anyway

Weinergate erupts.

Idiot.  I don't know how anyone in the public eye these days thinks they can do this kind of stupid crap and not get busted, and history has proven time and time again that getting busted and trying to cover it up never works and in fact makes it significantly worse.  Now we're in the "ok I did it but I'm not resigning" phase.  Next up: resignation and a divorce.

Also, the hacking story?  Weak.  Easily disproved.  I have to say that this is a massive disappointment.  I count on our elected leaders to be much better liars than this.

Only upside I can think of is that now the mainstream media has to address Weinergate as a legitimate story of wrongdoing and not as a non-story fueled by crackpot right-wing extremists.  So thank you for that, Rep. Weiner.

6/7/11 Update: Just when I thought this story couldn't get any better...Weiner's wedding was officiated by Bill Clinton.  Seriously.  Who in their right mind has one of history's most notorious philanderers marry them?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Is Deseret News the real life Onion?

Screen shot from today's online version of the Deseret News homepage:

First, the most popular story of the day: Man embarrasses son with waves.  Am I the only one who read that as "Area man embarrasses son with waves"?  The Onion's whole "area man" thing always cracks me up.

Next up, and even better is the number two most popular story in the Deseret, Utah area: Police cite man paying with pennies.
VERNAL — A Vernal man has been charged with disorderly conduct after police say he caused alarm when he paid for a disputed medical bill in pennies.
On May 27, Jason West went to Basin Clinic prepared to dispute an outstanding bill, according to Assistant Vernal Police Chief Keith Campbell. West, 38, apparently did not believe he owed the clinic the $25 it said he did.
“After asking if they accepted cash, West dumped 2,500 pennies onto the counter and demanded that they count it,” Campbell said. “The pennies were strewn about the counter and the floor.”
The incident upset clinic staff, said Campbell, adding that West's behavior served "no legitimate purpose."
Clinic staff told West they were calling police and he left the office. Officers caught up with West later and issued him a citation for disorderly conduct, an infraction, which carries a potential fine of $140.
The case will be heard in Vernal City Justice Court.
Potential $140 fine (plus, I assume, cost of a lawyer) in return for making a disruptive statement over $25?  Forget Vernal PD, this guy was busted by the Karma Kops.

I'm not familiar with the Deseret News and I wouldn't be surprised if someone informs me that it is in fact just a local version of The Onion.  Either way - legit or Onionish - I don't care, today's issue was entertaining as hell.

H/T Sami_Shamieh on Twitter for linking to the pennies from hell story.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Welcome back to the NHL, Winnipeg!

And RIP Atlanta Thrashers: Thrashers sold to Winnipeg group.  Well done, True North Sports and Entertainment!

For a while it looked like the Phoenix Coyotes - the original Winnipeg Jets  - would return to their Manitoba roots, but that was circumvented when the Glendale (AZ) City Council ponied up the necessary support to keep the Dogs in the Desert for at least one more season.

As much as everyone would love to see the team adopt the old Jets name, the rights to it (along with franchise records) may be held by the Coyotes organization.  It would be wonderful for Winnipeg fans if the name could return.

From Rich Hammond (L.A. Kings Insider):
The rumors were finally put to rest this morning when the group known as True North Sports and Entertainment announced that is has purchased the Atlanta Thrashers and intends to move the organ-eye-zation to Winnipeg...

As for Atlanta, well, it’s difficult to be surprised. I only made it down there for one NHL game, in 2009, and I’ll always remember going to a nearby sports bar with the broadcast crew the night before the game. The Thrashers were playing in New York that night, and we asked the waiter if he would turn on the hockey game. His response? “Which game?”
I always feel awful for the fans when a team leaves town, but if this is in any way indicative of Atlanta's non-enthusiasm for the Thrashers, then they needed to move.  And this isn't even Atlanta's first NHL team to bolt town - the Calgary Flames began life as the Atlanta Flames.  Some cities just aren't hockey towns and Atlanta is definitely not a hockey town.  It is also apparently a very inept hockey town: The Thrashers were still selling season tickets for 2011-12 a mere hour before the Winnipeg announcement.

So welcome back Winnipeg fans!  Our only question now is does the huge, hideous portrait of the Queen also make a return?  Don't laugh, it may happen!  Which would be awesome, really seriously awesome.

Because a cat's the only cat who knows where it's at :)

Ultimate cool cat Brian Setzer and his Orchestra do The Aristocats:

And the original:

Phil Harris and Scatman Crothers people.  Phil Harris AND Scatman Crothers people!!!