Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Words to live by

Via the always awesome Sun Gazing.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Possible "Jaws" reboot might be in the works

Says so right here.

I really, really, really REALLY REALLY hope this is a joke, but if it isn't, I really, really, really REALLY REALLY hope the online backlash makes them think better of it.

I think what I'm trying to say can be quickly summed up by this:

On the other hand, there is this:

Don't do it, Universal.  We're begging you.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Chocolate OD

I feel kind of sick, actually.

That is absolutely not a reflection on today's Cooking With Chocolate class at the New School of Cooking in Culver City.  But it is a reflection on how incredibly rich some of the recipes were!  I really want some real food (for some reason I'm craving roasted chicken) but I'm too full to eat anything after sampling today's goodies: Chocolate Decadence Cake, Double-Chocolate Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Ganache, Double-Chocolate Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Buttercream Frosting, White Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting, Chocolate Pots de Creme, Chocolate Shortbread Cookies, Chocolate Bread Pudding, Chocolate Mud Pie and Bittersweet Chocolate Truffle Tart.

I cannot recommend New School enough.  The classes are fun, the food is fantastic and I've learned a load from them.  Today I learned how to properly scald milk and cream (for the Truffle Tart) and that if a little bit of skin forms on the milk/cream, it's not a problem.

After the class I stopped by Surfas, which is about a block away from the school.  I had never been in there before and it was cooking heaven.  They will certainly be getting a lot of my money in the future.

Here are some pics from today's class:

I was on Team Bittersweet Chocolate Tart

One of my classmates serving up Chocolate Bread Pudding (my favorite of the day, and I never eat bread pudding!)

Chocolate Decadence Cake is decadent.

No mas.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Idiot Californians freak out over late night Amber Alert

So Monday night around 10:45-ish unsuspecting Californians were jolted by a creepy sound coming out of their smartphones.  Mine was made extra creepy by the fact that I have my phone set up to vibrate as well as ring.  It was the kind of thing where you expect to answer and the person on the other end screams at you to get out now, that the calls are coming from inside your house.  You know, like it's about you.

The sad truth is what was really happening was that smartphones across the state were broadcasting an Amber Alert.  Two children down in the San Diego area had been abducted by a man who is suspected of murdering their mother before taking them.  Their lives may be in danger and even if they are recovered alive, they've suffered a heinous loss, not to mention the whole experience will probably scar them for life.

That's the bad news.

Here's the pathetic news.

Apparently a large percentage of the population that received the alert - and some received multiple alerts (I only got the one) - was so traumatized by it that they seem to be more concerned with their "experience" rather than what has happened and is happening to those missing kids.  Not only have many of them taken to the internet with their "story", but a lot of them have decided to turn off the Emergency Alert app on their phones.  Because getting the alert was disturbing, and for some of those who got multiple alerts, it became annoying.  Seriously.  An Amber Alert is issued and a significant number of recipients respond by disabling the feature.

You're upset?  How about those poor kids and their dead mom?  I bet they would have loved to have been no closer to this than a disruptive ring tone or three.  I'm embarrassed on behalf of my state, something that sadly has been happening on a regular basis for a number of years now.

LOL?  Are you fucking kidding me?  WTF?

Imagine the next time an alert is issued and someone who turned off their app is sitting right next to the child or kidnapper, or possibly might be at a traffic signal right next to them in a car they might notice if they'd received the alert.  Turning off the alerts may someday result in a child who could have been saved ending up dead, their body stuffed away somewhere in the hopes that it will never be found, while their family waits for God knows how long to learn their fate.   If I was on the writing staff of a crime drama, I'd be typing up that synopsis right now.  "Missing Amber".  Coming to a crime drama near you.

And call me crazy, but I think the whole point of an emergency alert is to get everyone's attention immediately.  Mission accomplished, but some people just have fucked up priorities, I guess.

Luckily, a lot of people are using social media to get the alert out to as many people as possible.  But still, what is your mindset when you hear a story like this and a sizable portion of the reaction is that people just don't appreciate the intrusion?

Links to this embarrassing and pathetic story: Amber Alert.comActive Amber Alert for Hannah & Ethan Anderson - #AmberAlert - L.A. Times - Southern California Public RadioFranklin Avenue - LAistBlogging L.A. calls it "a rude awakening" - Twitchy - TMZ: "We couldn't shut it off fast enough"

I concur.

Location, location, location

Via Franklin Avenue, check out these insanely cool pics of a set visit for TNT's upcoming noir series Lost Angels, based on the novel L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America's Most Seductive City.  Someone should just hand their set decorator an Emmy now.

I am really, really looking forward to this one.  Not much info up on TNT yet (including premiere date) yet, but I'm hoping they get this up in the next few months.

Update 8/13/13: TNT has updated: show has been retitled Mob City, premiere date is December 4 and the first trailer can be seen here.

I preferred the previous titles (L.A. Noir and Lost Angels) as I felt they specified the city of Los Angeles as location.  Mob City could be any major city.  But under any title, I have a feeling I'm going to love this show.

Monday, August 5, 2013

10 Things Shakespeare Can Teach Us About Writing Thrillers

I'd say this applies to writing anything, regardless of genre, but still great advice. Via Writer's Digest:

Conspiracy. Murder. Politics. Love. Sex. Ghosts. Pirates. Thrillers and the works of William Shakespeare may have more in common than you’d think. After all, as author A.J. Hartley pointed out, the legendary playwright that we now regard as “refined” and “literary” was considered rustic and fanciful in his time. “Shakespeare wrote for the mass medium of his day,” Hartley said.

And, as Hartley proved in his session “Cues From Shakespeare, the First Thriller Writer,” there’s a lot the bard can teach scribes about storytelling.

Here are some of the enduring lessons Hartley shared.

1. “Good writers borrow. … Great writers steal.”
Most of Shakespeare’s stories originated in other source material. “This is just kind of the nature of the beast,” Hartley said—there’s a limited number of original tales out there. So, great writers steal—“and then own the result.” Shakespeare wrote his works in his own way, with his unique signature.

2. Remember: Shakespeare never went to Italy.
Hartley asked: Without delving into the Shakespearean authorship question, how could the son of a glove maker evoke settings, fields and time period he couldn’t have ever experienced? “By reading. Copiously. Diligently.” But, Hartley cautioned, writers should never let their research trump their tales. “[Shakespeare] gives you as much as you need to tell the story, and that’s all.”

3. “Get right to it.”
Shakespeare doesn’t waste time getting things moving. Any book should do the same.

4. Story is character.
In the bard’s world, the props and costumes are kept to a minimum. The plays can be performed on a bare stage. “It’s all about the interaction between character and how the characters speak,” Hartley said. Likewise, from a story perspective a thriller shouldn’t be about explosions and car chases, but character.

5. Begin scenes late and end them early.
Just like the screenwriting maxim.

6. All scenes must have external and internal conflict.
“It’s not enough for the door to be locked. The character has to have a reason to not want to open it.”

7. Pace isn’t speed.
“Don’t be afraid to slow down to focus between action and event.” Hartley noted that especially at thriller conferences, people tend to talk about the need for books to go fast. What sets Shakespeare apart is that he allowed his characters to register the events that happened to them—“for the emotional and spiritual consequences of things to land.”

8. “Bad things happen to good people. Audiences expect poetic justice.”
Beyond Shakespeare’s works, Hartley used George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series to further illustrate this point. Martin gets his readers to love his characters, and then he kills those characters off. The result: You’re always in fear. “It’s a brilliant, simple story strategy,” Hartley said. “It creates a particular kind of suspense and a particular kind of tension.”

9. The dialogue says it all.
Hartley pointed out that we tend to think of Shakespeare as a great philosopher, spouting off wisdoms—but that’s not the case. “Every word in Shakespeare is dialogue. It comes from character. … We do not know what Shakespeare thought about anything, and that’s what makes him good.”

10. Shakespeare was all about output.
“You want to learn from Shakespeare? Write a ton of stuff,” Hartley said. On average, Hartley said, Shakespeare released the great works of literature at a rate of about two plays a year for two decades (!).

Friday, August 2, 2013

For your reading pleasure

One of the things that aspiring screenwriters and screenwriting students are told is to read as many scripts as possible.  With this in mind, for you budding TV writers I present this index of TV scripts.

Happy reading!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

On your mark, get set...

The Brother (a long-time KCRW fan and supporter) brought this one to my attention: KCRW's first annual 24-Hour Radio Race is on for August 16.
In KCRW's 24-Hour Radio Race, producers of all experience levels from all over the world will have 24 HOURS to write, record, and edit a non-fiction radio story. On Saturday at 10AM PT, contestants will be emailed a THEME. They will then have 24 hours to create a story that somehow relates to this theme. Halfway through the 24 hours (at 10PM PT), contestants will receive another email with an optional BONUS ELEMENT, which they can choose to incorporate into their story for extra credit. By Sunday at 10AM PT, their finished piece must be posted on Soundcloud for judging.
I get the writing part of the project.  The Brother works with voice over artists and therefore knows how to create audio files and upload them.  He also gets the recording part, as I do not have a voice made for radio.

Click on the link above for additional info and rules.  See you at the races!