Thursday, February 28, 2019

February Words of Wisdom

Money is made - before it can be looted or mooched - made by the effort of every honest man, each to the extent of his ability. An honest man is one who knows that he can't consume more than he has produced. --Ayn Rand

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else. --Gloria Steinem

The cost of not following your heart is spending the rest of your life wishing you had. --Unknown

Be the woman who fixes another woman's crown without telling the world it was crooked. --Unknown

Once writing has become your major vice and greatest pleasure, only death can stop it. --Ernest Hemingway

Moral discipline is like a great earth that supports and nurtures the crops of spiritual realization. --Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche

Let the wisdom and love in your heart show you what and who you really are, then let it guide you. --Rod Stryker

Freedom is truly a precious thing. --Gary Sinise

Government's first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives. --President Ronald Reagan

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Guy mic's up his 4 year old during hockey practice and it's your weekly dose of adorbs

What I'm really hoping is that some day Mason is playing in the NHL and they show this on the jumbotron.

One two, one two, one two...

I hope he enjoyed his BaDonald's.

H/T to Life in Hockeywood on FB for the link.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Life and living need not be so hard

So I thought some things through last night and crunched some numbers and have made some decisions about my life and where I can be - literally and figuratively - by the end of the year (hopefully) and I'm feeling a lot better as a result. Which means, among other things, if you follow me on social media you should no longer have to listen to me bitch and whine about missing living at the beach, complaining about having to listen to shit neighbor's dogs barking and snarling all hours of the day and night, anything else that pisses me off (and admittedly it doesn't take much) and how miserable and reactionary all this makes me.

The first issue is fixable for a couple of reasons, the second is no longer my problem as I won't be listening to them forever, and those two things will solve the rest.

But before I get to that place, between now and the end of the year I need to make some personal and professional improvements and changes. And I mean I have to actually act, not just think and plan. I don't mean to sound mysterious or weird and I'm not fishing for interest or concern (real or feigned) especially since I've never been a fan of oversharing, or sharing personal stuff at all. But since this is my personal blog and I've often found it to be a fun and useful diary to look back on, I just wanted to mark this as the night I think I figured out some things that are important to me as I embark on the last few decades of my life and try to get myself into the emotional, psychological, creative and physical place I've always wanted to be.

And now, behold a boatload of inspirational memes I've collected. They're for me, but if they speak to you feel free to enjoy! And thank you to the meme creators (as always, if any of these are yours, please let me know so that I can give richly deserved credit where credit is due).

You only live once. Make sure you at least do that. That's what I need to do from here on out. That's the goal. I pray I make it.

The first day went pretty well. It's so nice not to get cranked up about every damn thing.

Now, to straighten my crown and...I guess we'll see.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Just for you!

I appreciate that mass marketing in this age can't be easy, but I still got a giggle out of this email:

I don't have a dog.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Recent reading: "Hollywood vs. the Author"

Hollywood vs. the Author edited by Stephen Jay Schwartz

Raymond Chandler once said, "If my books had been any worse I should not have been invited to Hollywood, and if they had been any better I should not have come." Even more telling, Jack Warner bluntly referred to his writers as "Schmucks with Underwoods." Think about the films that came out of Warner Bros. during the golden age of the studio system and read that quote again. Seriously.

For some reason writers have always been surprisingly low on the Hollywood food chain, and that hasn't changed and apparently isn't going to any time soon if these terrific (and often infuriating) stories are anything to go by.

Schwartz has gathered a number of successful present day authors and given them free rein to share their experiences in Tinseltown and their tales of the unfairness of it all.

Many of the writers take their less than stellar experiences with a dash of resigned humor, understanding that it's just the way Hollywood works. Life isn't fair, and the entertainment industry even less so, but it's also highly unethical to boot. A few like Gregg Hurwitz and Michael Connelly have come through relatively unscathed mainly because their other writing endeavors don't leave them dependent on Hollywood.

And then there's Tess Gerritsen, who had to sue Warner Bros. for ripping off her 1999 novel Gravity, (when, without her knowledge, it became the 2013 feature film of the same name, supposedly based on an original script by director Alfonso Cuaron and his son Jonas) at the same time Warners was producing her hit show Rizzoli & Isles, which was also based on Gerritsen novels. What makes her story especially awful is that despite how obvious it was that the film was based on her novel, no matter what proof her lawyers produced - and they went above and beyond to prove their case - they were constantly rebuffed by both the studio and courts. That Cuaron had been attached to direct when the novel had first been optioned in 1999, then claimed original authorship years later, didn't seem to help Gerritsen's cause, but it is shocking and frustrating to read. Cuaron got Oscars for directing and editing, a Golden Globe, awards from BAFTA, DGA, PGA and AFI, and countless critics awards, while Gerritsen got royally and unfairly screwed.

I continued to waver between suing and not suing.

Then I came across an article about how the Cuarons had written their screenplay.
They regrouped in the elder Cuaron's London home one afternoon and began talking about the theme of adversity, about knowing when to fight and when to give up, and the theme of rebirth. And two images drove them: an astronaut spinning into the void and someone getting up and walking away. "Gravity was a metaphor, the force that keeps pulling us back to life," says Jonas Cuaron. 
A first draft was written in three weeks.
I thought about the two years of full-time research and writing I'd devoted to Gravity. I thought of my obsessive attention to details about ISS, the shuttle, EVAs, astronaut training, NASA lingo, aerospace medicine, and everyday life in orbit. I though about how hard I'd worked to describe a scenario so accurately that even a NASA engineer would not find fault. And here the clever Cuarons had gone from "image of astronaut spinning in space" to a finished screenplay in a mere three weeks.

That's when I got angry.

Updated 2/24/19: The Academy just awarded Cuaron two more Oscars for Roma. Warner was being kind. Guessing Tess Gerritsen doesn't have Oscar parties.

Monday, February 18, 2019

It's funny 'cuz I could totally see this happening

I've been waiting for this whole Jussie Smollett thing to be made official before I even thought of weighing in on it (although it now appears dude done fucked up) but this was too funny not to pass on. From The Babylon Bee (which is pretty much The Onion for conservatives):

My favorite part of the article:

"Smollett has exactly the kind of skills we look for at our fine organization," said CNN correspondent Brian Stelter. "He picked a narrative, made up all the relevant facts and details, and stuck with his story in spite of glaring holes in the plot. It's hard to find people who understand our core values here at CNN, but Smollett seems to be just the guy for us."

The craziest part? No one is going to learn a damn thing from this. That much I've figured out so far.

Updated 2/20/19: Looks like Snopes felt the need to "fact check" The Babylon Bee story. Too funny.


Friday, February 15, 2019

The "Breaking Bad" movie is coming and it may rip our hearts out

Those of us who hoped that after the Breaking Bad finale Jesse Pinkman drove off to a future that delivered him from his Walter White/meth cooking past (and all the heartache involved) are probably about to be sadly disappointed: Breaking Bad Movie: The Dark Road Ahead for the Aaron Paul Sequel.

Realistically, Jesse's future just couldn't be as simple as him zipping off to a carefree life in the wilds of Alaska with no repercussions. Certainly not in the hands of Vince Gilligan and his equally genius cohorts.

I'm really looking forward to this. I'm also wondering how this could tie into Better Call Saul, and how and if these shows and worlds will intersect. But the writers involved are just brilliant and I'm willing to go along for whatever ride they have planned for us, no matter how painful it might be where Jesse's concerned. We've seen that Saul Goodman's future as Gene the Cinnabon manager has been soul-crushing. I'm guessing that no matter how much fans might want to see a happy ending for these characters, it's just not to be. It's just not realistic, and Gilligan and his writing staff have never taken the fairy tale ending approach. I'm expecting maximum gut punching and I wouldn't expect anything less from this crew. They are truly gifted, and they will not let the characters nor the viewers off easily. And that doesn't even begin to address the ultimate fate of fan favorite Kim Wexler, so prominent in Better Call Saul, but non-existent in Breaking Bad.

If you've never watched Breaking Bad and/or Better Call Saul, I recommend that you start now, whether you stream them on Netflix or watch on DVD. You will want to be up to speed and ready to go when this movie is released. You won't be disappointed, I can guarantee you that. Breaking Bad was one of the greatest shows in the history of television, and Better Call Saul has proved to be a worthy predecessor. You are going to want to be ready for when the Jesse Pinkman movie is released. Vince Gilligan & Co. are freaking geniuses and it's your loss if you don't board this train. The Breaking Bad movie might be brutal and it might be heartbreaking, but it will also be glorious and amazing, and like nothing you've seen before. And that is the genius of great writing.

Science Bitch image/meme snicked from the internets, where I have seen it countless times. But if it's yours, let me know so I can give credit where credit is due.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Recent reading: "The Overlook"

The Overlook by Michael Connelly (audio book read by Len Cariou)

For me this one was hard to get into. I had to give it a couple of tries before I was able to stick with it, which surprised me given my recent obsession with Bosch/Connelly audiobooks.

Bosch gets called out to a murder scene at the Mulholland Overlook in the Hollywood Hills, and what looks like a simple execution balloons into a possible terrorism case when it's discovered that the victim is a doctor with access to a catastrophically lethal amount of cesium, a highly controlled radioactive substance used to treat certain types of cancer, and which has gone missing. The FBI shows up of course, and this means even more fun for Bosch, who now has to tangle with the Feds in addition to his usual battles with his own department.

Sticking with this story really paid off at the end, when Bosch discovers that the case isn't anything like what he and the Feds believed it to be. It was a terrific reveal, with an additional shocking turn, and made me really glad I stuck with it. Again, I didn't see that ending coming at all.

Bosch and the Federal agents stood silently. There was an almost palpable sense of dread hanging in the air in the oncology lab. They had just confirmed that Stanley Kent took thirty-two capsules of cesium from the safe at St. Agatha's and then most likely turned them over to persons unknown. Those persons unknown had then executed him up on the Mulholland Overlook.

Update: Michael Connelly has announced that Season 6 of Bosch, which has just gone into production, will be based on The Overlook.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Recent reading: "Mad as Hell: The Making of Network and the Fateful Vision of the Angriest Man in Movies"

I've decided to do my "recent reading" posts individually, rather than in groups of books. First up:

Mad as Hell: The Making of Network and the Fateful Vision of the Angriest Man in Movies by Dave Itzkoff

This is a terrific and comprehensive behind-the-scenes look at the career of writer Paddy Chayefsky and the creation of his strangely prescient 1976 masterpiece Network.

The awards-laden Chayefsky had already established himself as one of America's greatest writers well before Network. A product of what was regarded as the Golden Age of American television (which also produced writers like Rod Serling, Horton Foote and Gore Vidal), he already had two Oscars, a Golden Globe, and three Writers Guild awards to his name before unleashing on an unsuspecting world a film that reflected his concern about the power of television news and the effect it was having on the American public. One can only wonder what Chayefsky would have made of television and the mainstream media today. Network is positively Orwellian in its vision.

The film was nominated for ten Oscars and won four: Chayefsky for his screenplay, Faye Dunaway for Best Actress, Beatrice Straight for Best Supporting Actress, and most notably Best Actor Peter Finch, who became the first person to win a posthumous acting Oscar.

Such is its scope that in addition to telling the story of Chayefsky's life and career, the author interviewed current news anchors for their take on Network and Chayefsky's uncanny predictions of the co-mingling of news and entertainment, all controlled by giant conglomerates more interested in ratings, earnings, and the cult of personality rather than the sanctity of informing the public. But probably the biggest irony of Chayefsky's story is how he was regarded as an angry outsider (albeit a gifted one) in the entertainment industry back in the seventies, but would probably be regarded as a right-wing nutjob today given his unabashed American patriotism and his love of and belief in its greatness.

I saw a meme recently that stated that in the past, you watched the news and then decided what you thought about it, but today you watch the news and are told what to think, and then have to decide if it's actually news. I think this is largely accurate, and it makes me wonder, if Chayefsky was mad as hell about the state of network news in the 1970's, one can only imagine the script he would have written on the topic today.

Also, Network is a fantastic film. I highly recommend both it and this book.

Starting fresh, he sketched out the premise of a fictional news anchor he variously called Holbein, Munro, Kronkhite, or Kronkheit (whether intentionally or accidentally, he did not use the more customary spelling), who has a "crack up on the air" in prime time, unexpectedly boosting the ratings of his show and creating expectations for more extreme behavior in future broadcasts. This could provoke his TV rivals to have to keep pace with his outrageousness or provide the framework for a story about his network being swallowed up by a sinister multinational corporation. "So far," Chayefsky wrote, "Kronkheit hasn't done anything but express outrage. But: What would happen if he started inventing news - The basic joke is that the networks are so powerful they can make true what isn't true and never even existed - The networks are so powerful they make the ravings of the maniac Kronkheit true."

Sunday, February 10, 2019

In a world of Kassys, be an Andy

How did we get to this point? Because I'm pretty sure all the local Mexican restaurants that always do a booming business on Cinco de May wouldn't be happy if everyone who isn't Hispanic suddenly decided they weren't any more likely to show up at said restaurants on May 5 than on any other day of the year. But before we get to Cinco, we had to get through Lunar New Year (aka Chinese New Year).

Behold Kassy, who just had to be a Negative Nancy and try to ruin it for everyone:

Luckily, there are still some Andys in this crazy world:

You are more than adequate, sir. You are awesome.

Doesn't Andy seem like he would be fun to hang with? Unlike, oh say, you know who.

Happy Year of the Pig everyone!*  Except you, Kassy, you Debbie Downer.

H/T to Redpill Daily on FB for the precious.

*With permission from Andy.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Continue to tell your stories

Gotta love the personalized rejection. Seriously, if you have to get a rejection, this is how you want to get it. I understand the script isn't terribly edgy and probably isn't film fest material, except for the female-centric Moondance Film Festival, where it did well. I think the Atlanta Film Festival has a lot of class and I look forward to submitting to them in the future and you should too.

Hi Melinda,
Thank you so much for sharing your work, and giving us the opportunity to consider it for the 2019 Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition. We truly appreciate all the time and energy you put into your project and the fact that you chose us to read it. Unfortunately, your screenplay, Chick Stuff with Whitney and Alannah , did not advance in this year’s competition.

This was an unprecedented year for us. We received over 1,200 screenplays in total. While we were incredibly excited and honored to have so many writers choose our competition, it also sadly meant that we were faced with more difficult choices than ever before.

There were more great scripts than available spots, and the talent was overwhelming. Our dedicated team of programmers and readers reviewed each screenplay. Many members of our reading committee reached out to us throughout the process to tell us how the screenplays they read impressed and touched them. We were personally awed by the boldness in storytelling and immense creativity we saw collectively in this year’s submissions.

Please don't let this outcome discourage or deter you in your writing. We know how much time and effort goes into producing a completed work. We want to sincerely thank you for giving us the chance to experience it, and we hope that you will consider sharing your work with us again in the future.

Please continue to tell your stories and write your scripts —we can’t wait to see what you create next.

The Atlanta Film Festival Programming Team

Monday, February 4, 2019

Mr. Peanut speaks for all of us

Who knew Mr. Peanut - yes, that Mr. Peanut - was so sassy?

Apparently Super Bowl Sunday was Mr. Peanut's time to shine. No, I didn't watch the game either, and most of the chatter I saw online was about Gladys Knight's stunning and classy performance of the national anthem, and how the commercials were underwhelming.

So this morning this popped up on my Twitter feed: Apparently Scientology ran an ad during the big game. If you've seen episodes of Leah Remini's Scientology program, you know how vile and abusive they are. It's infuriating to watch. They don't seem to have gotten the message that everyone hates them, so they ran a typically self-aggrandizing ad titled "Curiosity".

I'm sure there were a lot of reactions to it, but the best came from...Mr. Peanut. Yes, the Planters Peanuts mascot:

Step away from the crazy peoples.

It's actually a gif and I couldn't get it to embed, so check it out here. Mr. Sassy Peanut also wasn't too impressed with the game itself, as can be see here.

Seriously, when the most entertaining thing about your major sporting event is the anthem and an animated peanut sporting a top hat and monocle, you may want to rethink your strategy.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Drought? What drought?

I honestly can't remember the last time Southern California has had multiple instances of multi-day rain. It's been years, if not decades. And it isn't going to be over any time soon.

The current storm, which was supposed to run through Monday, is now expected to go through Tuesday.

And another storm is coming the week after that will last at least five days. I say at least because that's as far as The Weather Channel's 10-day forecast goes.

After years of drought, it's nice to have some steady rain. As Southern Californians have grown fond of saying (on the rare occasions when we would get rain), "We need it." I do feel bad for people in the burn areas from recent fires, because now they have to worry about mudslides. Plus, roads and freeways are flooding, making commuting a nightmare.

Stay dry and stay safe out there.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Submitted for your approval - Open the floodgates edition

I find it hilarious that after I decided I wasn't going to hold myself to x number of submissions per month, I have a huge month of submissions. Last year my goal was two per month, and I didn't make it overall.

This month? Wait for it...five submissions. FIVE. More than double my previous goal. Two and a half months worth if this was 2018. Of course.

1 & 2: I submitted two of my existing short stories (Come Fly with Me and Mad as Hell to the Writers' Digest Short Short Story Contest (no, that isn't a typo - it's a short short story contest).

3 & 4: Chick Stuff, which did great in the Moondance Competition, went into Scriptapalooza Screenplay's short script category and Film Pipeline's Short Script Competition. It's pretty light-hearted, so I don't know if they'll love it, but someone did, so it's going out whenever I get a chance. And since the final deadline for Film Pipeline isn't until September 1, and winners aren't announced until December 1, this one will be out there for pretty much the entire year.

5: I also submitted a new short story called Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas to an anthology that will be published later this year. I actually started this one a couple years ago for a Bouchercon anthology, then set it aside when it became clear I wasn't going to make the deadline. I realized it fit the theme for the new anthology and dragged it out of mothballs and finished it (just in time, of course).

No results or responses on submissions this month. Onward and upward!