Monday, October 31, 2011

Son of Golden Donut Short Story

Working on finishing up expanding this 200 word short story for this contest.  It's up to 2,113 words.  Deadline is tomorrow, November 1.

And it's going to get bigger.  Novelizing this baby is going to be my project for NaNoWriMo.  Thirty days and nights of literary abandon, indeed!

I love writing :)

9:19pm update: SUBMITTED!!!

Sure, it's poor sportsmanship. But it's also funny as hell.

Via Puck Daddy, please enjoy this video of a most unusual post-goal celebration.  It's in Swedish, but that doesn't deter from the awesomeness of a smart-ass getting his prompt, brutal and hilarious comeuppance.

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Halloween post of the day: Princess Vader

The adorable is strong in this one!


Story of the costume is here.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween post of the day: More horse costumes!

Because when you think Halloween, you think horses in costumes!

"I'd better get a boatload of carrots for putting up with this!"

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween post of the day: Pukey Punkins

Don't drink and carve.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Halloween post of the day: Rob Scuderi and Brad Richardson have some explaining to do

Some of the Los Angeles Kings share the worst Halloween costumes of their youth (via Kings Vision):

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Halloween post of the day: The Life and Death of a Pumpkin

This just never gets old: Halloween from the pumpkin's point of view.

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This was made by Blame Society Productions, the same people who brought the world Chad Vader.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

USA Network and Meghan McCain to bravely tackle bigotry faced by rich blonde bimbos

My first thought was this has got to be from The Onion.  It isn't:  Forest Whitaker and Meghan McCain to share bigotry and discrimination stories at USA Network panel.  No, really.

I don't know about Whitaker.  With his talent and years of hard work, obviously he was going to succeed in life.  Does anyone really want to hear a gifted Oscar winner whining about how tough it all is?

But Meghan McCain...that poor, poor girl.  Not literally of course, since she comes from money and privilege few will ever know, but the things she has to put up with, like becoming famous for who her dad is and not via any actual accomplishments of her own...it's just heartbreaking.  Add into that getting a book deal simply because of her last name and definitely not her writing ability and I don't know how the poor thing copes.

McCain's problem isn't her weight (as she's fond of claiming), it's her blithe stupidity and misplaced sense of self-importance in the political world.  Her privileged sense of victimhood and insistence on blaming everyone and everything but her own lack of intellect on her status as a public joke doesn't help.  And don't get me started on her trying to lay claim to a new conservatism, she's about as conservative as Michelle Obama.  But by retaining her symbolic "R" she can at least find work as a famous useful idiot and gets to feel important.

Honestly, for all her bleating about it, I don't even think she's really that fat.  Chunky maybe, definitely husky, pudgy at worst, but so what?  I'm fatter than she is and if that's the worst thing someone can say about me...then I'm probably a really decent, reasonably intelligent person who just needs to eat healthier and exercise more.  But if you read some of the crap she comes up with, you can see why she desperately needs a way to try and distract people from her real problem - that despite the golden exposure and opportunity afforded her by her lineage, she just doesn't have the intellectual heft of other well-known female conservative political pundits and that by trying to be just that has opened herself up to being an object of ridicule.

And one more thing - with her family's bucks, unlike the rest of us McCain could easily employ a personal trainer and dietician to whip her into shape.  But if she did that, what would she use as an excuse against the "h8ters"?

I do feel bad seeing USA Network being part of this.  Over the past few years they've really broken out as a major original programming player, with a record of launching hit shows that is pretty much flawless.  I have to wonder who at USA made the decision to send the network down this road.  It started with a stridently preachy ad campaign for tolerance, but of course Hollywood-style tolerance, so no icky conservative-types need apply to be "Character Approved".  I'm not saying it's a bad thing to suggest that people be nice to each other, as long as it really is all-inclusive, rather than some animals being more equal than others.

I wasn't in the room when the Characters Unite campaign was developed, so I have no idea if it came about from a genuinely sincere desire to make the world a better place or if it's just a corporate image builder.  But I do know how ridiculous and calculated it looks to me.  Seriously, they couldn't find anyone else more appropriate and worthy for this showcase than a blonde, privileged heiress who misidentifies herself as conservative to show how inclusive and tolerant they are?  Hitching your wagon, whatever your wagon is, to someone who is just a joke and not what she claims to be is never going to help your cause.

This comment on the linked article at the top completely, totally hits every single nail on the head.  I wish I'd written it:


I wish I was able to attend.  The satire potential for this is just off the charts.  I can't wait to hear all about it, especially when Whitaker's legitimate stories of bigotry as a black man are countered by McCain's whining about how tough it is not being as hot or smart as a Palin.  Seriously, how is that not comedy gold?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

If this was Sophie I would be distraught

From the L.A. Times: Cat lost by American Airlines gains fame as search continues.
Animal lovers plan to rev up a nearly 2-month-old search at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Saturday for Jack the cat, a fluffy orange feline whose disappearance at the hands of American Airlines has spawned a Facebook page and a PR headache for the airline.

The date has been declared Jack the Cat Awareness Day by organizers of the afternoon search at the cargo area of JFK where Jack was last seen Aug. 25. That's when Jack's owner, Karen Pascoe, checked the 18-pound cat in for their flight to California, where Pascoe was to begin a new job.

That's where the mystery begins. About a half-hour later, a baggage supervisor called Pascoe and told her that Jack's crate was empty. Searches so far have turned up nothing, and nobody has explained how the cat crate fell open as Jack waited for cargo handlers to load him onto the jet.
So far efforts to locate Jack have failed.  Luckily, Jack got lost in the day and age of social media: Lost Jack's Facebook page.

I really hope he turns up and that he and his owner get a Hollywood-style reunion.  If this was Sophie I'd be worried sick about her.

So if you're in the JFK Airport area and spot a wayward, fluffy orange tabby, this is for you:

In the immortal words of one commenter, "Get back, Jack."

Update 10/25/11: Looks like they found him!

Friday, October 21, 2011

So your friend's "fucking masterful" script didn't get any love from the Nicholl judges. Here's my advice about that.

So here's the deal: You - or maybe "a friend" - wrote something you honestly believe is freaking fantastic, yet you didn't make the final cut for the Nicholl Fellowship, or for Screenwriting Expo, or the Golden Donut, etc.  Why not?  Well, it's obvious, isn't it?  The fix is in, at least that's what a lot of these commenters seem to think about the recently announced Nicholl fellows.  One guy in particular expressed this righteous outrage:


The thing is, when it comes to writing contests, it's not a perfect system.  Another possibility?  Maybe you (or your friend) aren't as good as you think.  Or maybe you are.  Based on my experience, it could be any number of things but it boils down to this: As much as it's a rush to make the final cut or win a writing contest (and I'm not saying it can't be a career maker) you can't base your screenwriting aspirations on contest results alone.  Too many other factors besides quality come into play.

I've judged a couple writing competitions in the past.  One was a high school student essay contest with about a dozen $1,000 college scholarships at stake.  Entries were not anonymous and politics definitely came into play when it came to selecting the winners.  I found this extremely discouraging because I saw a deserving entry bumped for a reason that had nothing to do with quality.  There were many more worthy entries than scholarships and one that would have been a winner was bumped for a lesser entry in the name of playing politics.

And then there are the judges.  We are not infallible and at times, we are not fair.  Each essay was read and judged twice in order to weed out the top contenders, after which we all got together to pick the best of the best.  It was at that meeting that I discovered one of the few bad essays I'd read (and scored low) had surprisingly made the cut.  The reason?  The other judge who read it gave it high marks because she "felt sorry" for the student who wrote it.  I did too, but for a different reason: the poor kid was about to go out into the world practically illiterate.  But we were supposed to be awarding the scholarships based on merit, not need.  And somebody who might have merited it was bumped from the final group because of that judge.  Like I said, a lot of things come into play.  I never said they made sense.

The other contest I judged was Project Greenlight 3 and all entries (at least at the level I judged at - the top 1,000 online vote-getters) were completely anonymous.  I had no idea who the writers were or where they were located, and it never occurred to me to wonder.  It wasn't an issue.  Each one was read beginning to end and I had no idea how they had placed in the online voting, so I wasn't swayed by that.  The scripts themselves were all that factored into the judging.

Of the twenty Project Greenlight scripts I was assigned to judge there were four or five that I thought were absolutely fantastic.  I could easily imagine seeing them on the screen and would have paid money to see any of them in a theater.  These were good writers who knew how to tell a story and write a screenplay and they had written really impressive scripts.  If I was a producer, these writers would have had meetings.

The rest of my scripts were uniformly unimpressive.  Gratuitous and poorly written bloodbaths, predictable government conspiracies and other forgettable wastes of my time abounded.  People, I even had an Indian burial ground script.  One script in particular was so bad that I'm not sure how it made the first cut, unless the writer found a way to hack into PG's computer system to create votes for him or herself.  To this day I kick myself for not keeping a copy of it.  It had to be seen to be believed.  I can't do justice to its heinous awfulness.  And yet, somehow, it made the cut.

As absolutely deserving as they were, none of my great scripts ended up being the winner.  But as both a reader and a writer I was really impressed with them and wish I could have let the writers know how good they were so they wouldn't feel discouraged that they "lost" to the eventual winning script.  My guess is that Bob the Commenter's friends and their "fucking masterful" scripts probably fall into this category.

So it's not a perfect system.  But you know what?  Keep entering anyway and even more importantly keep writing, whether you win or not.  Because whether it's an award-winning screenplay, a novel, a blog or your shopping list, that's what we do.  We write.  But quit bitching.  The world isn't fair and neither are writing contests.  Deal with it.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

YEEEAAAHHH!!!

They really nailed the CSI style on this.  Warning: You'll probably OD on block jokes by the time the crime is solved.  Presenting CSI: Legoland!

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He has a few things he'd like to...axe.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Updated deadlines for Writer's Digest Short Story Contests

The deadline for all six genres (Sci-Fi, Thriller, Crime, Young Adult, Romance and Horror) is now November 1.  This means you can wrap this one up, then jump right into NaNoWriMo.  Get writing!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Liquid Television on the web

Great, great news: MTV has put Liquid Television online.

With the exception of South Park, my personal taste in animation usually runs to the more classic Warner Bros. style, but Liquid Television is one of the reasons MTV needed to be invented.

The types of animation used on the show ran the gamut from claymation to cutouts to hand drawn to computer generated to anything that could be animated.  The only rule seemed to be that it be one of a kind, other than that there were no rules.  More palatable than some of the Spike & Mike stuff, it was nonetheless adult-oriented and outrageous enough to set itself apart from other animation of its day and perfectly fit then-renegade MTV.  Liquid Television received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Animated Program in 1993 and spawned a number of other shows and movies including Beavis & Butt-Head, Office Space and Aeon Flux.

There was the hilarious, bombastic rudeness of Crazy Daisy Ed, the profane perversity of the cheerily 50's-designed Bobby & Billy, the literally and figuratively cartoonish superhero of Grinning Evil Death, badass Winter Steele, endlessly quotable psychedelic detective Brad Dharma and Warners evil-twin Speedbump the Roadkill Possum, in addition to some really awesome music videos.  I could pretty much list almost everything that ever appeared on the series as noteworthy, that's how high the bar was set.  Rarely if ever did LTV suck like its network eventually would.

The bulk of the animated shorts can be found on You Tube, but the website supposedly brings the entire series together in one place, although a brief search failed to turn up Stick Figure Theater.  My favorite was their surprisingly affecting take on the Hindenburg disaster:

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My guess is that if there is material missing, it might be a rights issue.  I hope not.  I would love to see the entire series released on DVD at some point.  I'm kind of surprised they haven't done it already.

A few more of my favorites for your viewing pleasure (and hopefully to make a Liquid TV fan out of you if you're not one already):

Crazy Daisy Ed "talks" his way out of a ticket.

Brad Dharma: "There are 30 million names in the Naked City.  I can only pronounce half of them."  Heh, Naked City reference FTW.

"Hello Dad, I'm in jail!  I like it here!"

The Specialists meet the world's cruelest criminal (and his laugh-track).

Psycho-Gram: Suburban Housewife ("Dear Mum...")

Monday, October 10, 2011

L.A. County Restaurant Closures

I haven't done this in ages, in fact I think the last time I did it was on the old blog.  That being the case, it's been way too long, so let's visit the most recent list of L.A. Country Restaurant Closures, shall we?

According to their website, Caffe Primo is a trendy celeb favorite.  Or at least it was before this happened:
CAFFE PRIMO, 8590 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood CA 90069
Date closed: September 6, 2011
Date reopened: September 8, 2011
Reason for Closure: Vermin harborage, vermin infestation

I totally read this as "Lorena Bobbitt House", so as far as I'm concerned it's just as well they shut it down:
LORENA KABOB HOUSE, 1547 Grande Vista Ave., Los Angeles CA 90023
Date Closed: September 19, 2011
Date Reopened: September 21, 2011
Reason for closure: Gross contamination of utensils/equipment, vermin harborage, vermin infestation

Not any more!
HAPPY BAKERY, 5165 E. Whittier Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90022
Date closed: September 13, 2011
Date reopenend: September 15, 2011
Reason for closure: Vermin harborage, vermin infestation

Not related to the network, but screwing up just as much:
NBC SEAFOOD RESTAURANT, 404 S. Atlantic Blvd., Monterey Park CA 91754
Date closed: September 21, 2011
Date reopened: September 22, 2011
Reason for closure: Serious/repeat violations or interfering with Inspector, unsafe food temperature

Insert obvious joke here:
ROUGE GENTLEMEN'S CLUB, 14626 Raymer Street, Van Nuys CA 91405
Date closed: September 16, 2011
Date reopened: September 18, 2011
Reason for closure: Vermin harborage, vermin infestation

Being part of a famous chain doesn't give you an edge.  The current list of shame includes Boston Market (Monterey Park), Chipotle (Palmdale), Denny's (Van Nuys), Domino's (Bellflower), Jack in the Box (Carson), Johnny Rockets (Alhambra), KFC (La Puente), McDonald's (San Pedro), Panda Express (Studio City), Pizza Hut (Torrance), Popeye's (Hawthorne), Subway (on Sunset in Los Angeles) and *gasp* Starbucks (Hacienda Heights).

Don't forget to check those letter grades when dining out.  Happy eating!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Dear anthem singers: Please warm up on your own time

For some reason almost every single person who performs the national anthem(s) at sporting events seems to feel the need to incorporate what I refer to as "vocal gymnastics" rather than just singing the damn song.  It's like it's their big moment in the sun and they're not only going to make the most of it, they're going to make it last as long as possible.

The anthem singer at today's Kings/Sabres game in Berlin was no exception. 

Being in Europe, the game hit my current location (Hawaii until Thursday) at 8am, which of course with me being not a morning person means that I was a bit late to the party.  But only about 13 minutes late, so I figured I could get caught up easily during commercial breaks.

I got almost all the way caught up during the anthems.  The blonde, Germanic, heavily faked-tanned female singer looked like a refugee from a Real Housewives show who seemed determined to extend her 15 minutes indefinitely while "singing" the American and German anthems.  Even the players looked amused, like they were wondering if she'd finish before the playoffs.  I certainly felt that way, and it wasn't just me:


For you non-hockey types who don't get the joke, it refers to Kings D-man Drew Doughty, who just signed a big, fat 8-year contract.  Like, less than two weeks ago.

Of course, once the game is over the only thing that will matter is scoreboard.  No one will remember or care about the anthem when all is said and done.  So remember that, singers, do your voice exercises on your own time.  When the game is on just go out there, do your thing and get out, so that the real show can get started.  You may think more is more, but for the rest of us, what all we require from you can be summed up at the :19 mark of this vid:

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Awesome! Hockey's back!

The Kings don't officially start the season until tomorrow (in Stockholm, vs. the suddenly much less douchey NY Rangers) and the home opener isn't until the 18th, but the 2011-2012 NHL season officially began today with the Habs, Leafs, Pens, Canucks, Flyers and defending Cup champion Boston Bruins in action.  So in honor of that, here's one of my all-time favorite hockeys ads:

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And since I'm at it, one of my all-time favorite hockey pictures:

Get a room, you guys...a room to CELEBRATE A CUP WIN IN, THAT IS!!!

For the first time since the Gretzky era, the Kings are a solid, legitimate Cup contender.  It's going to be a great season!  GO KINGS GO!!!

Photo credit: Danny Moloshok (AP)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Screenwriters World Conference announced

It will be interesting to see how this matches up with the Screenwriting Expo.  Bonus points for having it in Hollywood, something the Expo has never been able to pull off.

From their website:
Sensing the need for the next generation in writing conferences, The Writers Store, F+W Media and Writer's Digest have teamed up to create Screenwriters World. This unique film industry conference has tracks for writers at every level, from beginner to seasoned pro. The organizers of the conference seek to constantly develop the networking and educational line-ups, so attendees can come year after year and know the event will evolve to match their own creative growth.
I haven't been to the last couple of Expos - are they slipping?  This seems like a response by other organizers smelling blood in the water.
 
Screenwriters World will happen October 19-21, 2012 at the Renaissance Hollywood.  I hope the Starbucks at Hollywood & Highland is ready for the onslaught of coffee-chugging aspiring screenwriters!

You can get on their mailing list by going to the website linked above, and also by following the Writers Store on Facebook and Twitter.

The latest Industry Insider Screenwriting Contest is on!

This time around the logline for the Industry Insider Screenwriting Contest comes from producer Todd Garner (Anger Management, 13 Going on 30, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Knight and Day):
A father and son find themselves trapped in the Bermuda Triangle after embarking on a quest to discover what happened to the father's missing parents.
Entrants submit up to the first 15 pages of a script based on this logline.  Genre is totally up to you, the writer.  You can take this concept and do whatever you want with it.  Comedy, drama, sci-fi, government conspiracy, vampires, zombies, sharktopus, your personal take on one of the most famous mysteries in modern history...have at it!

Early deadline ($40 entry fee) is October 31, final deadline ($50 entry fee) is December 31, with winners announced in January 2012.

My own experience with this particular contest is that by taking someone else's logline and trying to run with it, it's a not only an inspiring writing prompt, but also a great exercise in thinking outside the box.  When you really get into it, you'll realize how much creative leeway you really have.  Plus, unlike Creative Screenwriting's Cyberspace Open, they give you the logline upfront, before you enter, so you can decide if it's something you're interested in.  And since they're doing them quarterly, if this particular logline doesn't inspire you, the next one isn't that far off.

So start brainstorming and get writing.  An honest-to-God successful, working Hollywood producer is waiting to see what you can do with his brilliant idea!  How awesome is that?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Also coming up: NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month (Thirty days and nights of literary abandon!) begins November 1.  You've got a month to get ready.

Since I've lately found myself drifting from screenwriting mode to novel writing mode, I'm totally doing NaNo this year.

Upcoming writing contests

Writers Digest Genre Competitions: Sci-Fi, Thriller and Young Adult (deadline is TODAY, October 1), Romance (deadline October 15), Crime (October 22), Horror (October 31, of course).

Scriptapalooza TV: deadline is October 2 (Correction: 9am PDT on October 3).

Zoetrope Short Fiction Contest: deadline is October 3.

BlueCat Screenwriting Competition: One of the highest - if not the highest - entry fee I've ever seen for a writing contest, but there's a lot going on here (including script analysis for all entries), so check it out if you have a feature script.  Deadline is October 15.

And for the playwrights on your holiday shopping list: