Sunday, October 31, 2010

Restoration of Sanity

Now, it's interesting that the "Rally to Restore Sanity" was way bigger than Glen Becks rally to "Restore Honor". In all fairness, the Jon Stewart rally probably skews demographically younger, so they might be more likely to show up at a big rally.


But what's really weird is that you have 215,000 to show up at a rally which is held explicitly for the purpose of moderation.



Now of course I, like any other rational person, can't figure out what the Tea Partiers are all about. They're mad about a bunch of things like taxes (which have gone down under Obama) and "out of control spending" (which they weren't mad about at all when G. W. Bush was in office). Which is why many people think "oh, this is just code the American Right uses to mean they hate the fact that a black guy is President". And honestly, that's probably true for a significant portion of the Tea Partiers. The rest are just... well insane.

But over two hundred thousand people showing up at a rally to support not being crazy? That's kind of heartening really.

BONUS: best signs from the rally.

16 Feet

I have this fierce-some look but I just want you to pet me.

So my parents, through a series of what we might call cat-tastrophies, have ended up with (at least temporarily) another cat. Luckily, the cat is not aggressive at all, because Pushkin really wouldn't be able to handle that (although the last time I checked he was hiding under my parents' bed.) This chat noir has been named Winston and he's really quite nice. He's easy to sleep with (he mostly stayed in my bed last night) and he's very purr-y and nuzzly. And he's the appropriate color for a Halloween cat.
Pushkin doesn't seem to be doing so well lately. He's gotten a lot slower and just seems old. Poor kitty. We have this pain medicine which makes him feel so much better but it's simply impossible to get him to take it.
All of the cats are what we might call "tolerant" of the giant labradoodle. Somehow all the animals are in my parents' apartment right now. That's 16 feet plus whatever number of human feet are around at the time. And what is that, like 4(?) tails? It seems like more tails quite frankly. I'm going to have to go check.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Funniest thing at the Rally to Restore Fear

When the Mythbusters guys were on stage there was a wide shot in the back of the Mall and someone had a sign that said:

"Birthers for Hawaii Statehood"

And it made me laugh a whole lot.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Cruise the Galaxy

This dude David McRaney talks about why we should be making genre movies rather than art-house pictures. Well, no he doesn't.  But that's my take-away from his blog. He talks about subjective validation and confirmation bias.

I'm sorry I'm going to be missing the Rally to Restore Fear

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Someone's Been Sleeping in MY Bed

So my sister sends me this picture of her dog, Chien, and titles it "Someone's been sleeping in your bed." Right, just like Goldilocks and the three bears. But instead of a bear, a big fuzzy dog.

With a nose.

Funniest Cat Video Ever of the Day

Japanese cat in a McDonald's bag. What is that cat? A Scottish fold or some such?

My favorite part is how you can still see the end of the cat's tail even when he/she thinks she's hiding in the bag.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

John Steinbeck and Freddie Mercury

Yes? No?

I'm not sayin'. I'm just sayin'.

This Is Desire's End

My very important housekeeping notes:

I've come to the conclusion that cleaning the floor to my bathroom is a Sisyphean task. It doesn't matter how much I clean it today. Tomorrow it will be equally as dirty. Well, I'm using hyperbole here. It'll be a good week before it's right back to being dirty.

Thing two (and this is very important for everyone to remember) the washing machine on my floor and the machine on the 4th floor don't "spin" properly so your clothes just won't dry after they're washed in those machines.  Keep that in mind.

Thing three:
Medium Large.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Republic of Greenland

Why isn't Greenland a continent? Answer: no reason. Apparently Australia is on the same tectonic plate as India so you can't even use the tectonic plate argument. I suspect the real reason involves distances to the nearest penguins.
The Republican Party just called me and left an (unintentionally) ironic message about "out of control spending". Wasn't the deficit on its way down during the Clinton administration and didn't we have a budget surplus which was squandered by G. W. Bush administration's tax cuts and the Iraq war?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Those Who Can, Don't

I have mixed feeling with the argument that script consultants are a waste of time. Now

1. a It's true that my favorite screenwriting books are Save the Cat by Blake Snyder and Crafty Screenwriting by Alex Epstein.
b. Both those guys were/are working screenwriters
2. I frequently get irked by people who think they know how to make movies when they've never had to make a DM&E before (and if you've ever been responsible for a DM&E you know what I'm talking about).
3. But there are occasions where being able to teach does indeed make you better as a teacher than being someone who can do the thing you're doing.
4. I've been a teacher too. Sometimes I was OK at it but most of the time I was somewhat sub-par.
5. We have in the past used Paul Cooper to analyse our screenplays. Now you should note that
a. He's not terribly expensive.
b. He gives great notes.
c. He does actually have some credits.

OK. So far I'm pretty much batting on the "you have to work to know what you're doing" team as far as teaching anything about the movie making business. But I also have some affection for Dov Simens. He's really pretty strictly a teacher, whatever film credits he has are pretty minimal. But I did learn a lot from his 2 day class back in the day.

Also, if you're a writer or some such, you may find that some other books or teachers really speak to you in a way that maybe Snyder or Epstein don't (or maybe in addition to Snyder or Epstein). So I'm not ready to dismiss the non-working-writers with one swell fiat.

I'm just inclined to dismiss them.

But obviously if someone says something that's malarky but they have a lot of experience, that doesn't make what they're saying not malarky. Conversely, if they have never make a feature film in their life but they say something right, they're still right.

Wow. That's a pretty big blog post for me to actually say nothing.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Two things, four feet.

The Internet. There is a whole site dedicated to bad tattoos in Hebrew.
Obama. Lowered taxes, reduced the deficit. But nobody pays attention so it doesn't matter.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Juan Williams

So, uh, this Juan Williams debacle seems a bit ridiculous. He gets fired from NPR for comments he made on that blockhead Bill O'Reily's show and the interesting thing is that it seems to me that what Williams was saying was the opposite of the truncated and out-of-context version the press gives about his remarks.

The reports usually go something like this. Juan said "Look Bill, I'm not a bigot" [to which all editorialists sigh a collective "uh oh"] and then goes on:

But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.

OK. So he sounds like a jerk. But wait! The sound bite is truncated!

He goes on to point out that we're not castigating Christians after Timothy McVeigh blew up the Federal Building. Which intellectually refutes his earlier statement. He was using it as a lesson. We're focusing on people in Muslim "garb" (when they are statistically the least likely Muslims to be committing a terrorist act) and we're ignoring white chino-wearing men who, although he did not go on to say, are the most likely people to be committing a terrorist act (the 9./11 hijackers were shaved and wearing Western clothes.)

And furthermore admitting to being racist -- and feeling sorry about it -- is not the same as "making bigoted remarks". It's talking about race up-front. And that's to be lauded. You know, when you say to yourself "Hey, I'm thinking one thing or another because of the way someone else is dressed, or the color of their skin" then you're at least examining that thing.

And the fact is that Juan Williams is against profiling Muslims. So... what was the big deal?

Hmm... when has this happened before? Oh right, with Shirley Shirrod -- fired from her Agriculture position because a right-wing website had edited the video of making a speech she gave sound like she wouldn't do as much work for white people as black people (editing out her conclusion that such thinking was wrong and how she changed her mind.)

Thanks NPR, for being exactly the way the Right says you are!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Office Style

From a posting for a job at Bandcamp:

There is no Bandcamp office. Most of us are in San Francisco, but we also have people in Seattle and at major ports in Vermont. We get together all day and night on IRC, design and document everything imaginable in a wiki, do a daily skype call that is exactly like the start of Hill Street Blues, and meet in person a few times a year for strategizing, working head-to-head and blowing things up. If the thought of setting your own work hours and environment makes you think of laundry and masturbation more than eight times a week, we're probably not for you.

Interesting that there is no office. And the Hill Street Blues briefing is an interesting idea. I bet it means you can get up later if you live in Vermont than Seattle.

Not having an office seems like one of those ideas someone would have come up with in 1995 which would end up just never really working. But it turns out that it's possible. Here in the Pandora Machine we even have some work farmed out to people far away.

But the Hill Street Blues daily Skype -- that's an interesting idea. I think we'd have to pay people though. I swear I don't think about laundry and masturbation together more than 6 - 7 times a week tops.

Theater that could work

There's an adaptation of "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" by the Untitled Theater Company #61. I've never heard of the company before. But this sounds like the sort of theater which could actually make some money. Er. I mean if they hadn't signed an Equity contract they could have made some money. I wonder how they got the rights?

The only successful off-off Broadway theater model I've seen (from a financial sense) was Joe Tantalo's A Clockwork Orange, Fahrenheit 451, and The Third Man -- all plays based on the original books, not the more famous movies.* But because of the famous movies they got people in the door. So that worked.

Now honestly, I don't think, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" is a very good book. Philip K. Dick has a little problem with dramatic sense as far as I'm concerned. Blade Runner's screenplay is brilliant. And it's very different from the book.

There's a moment in the book where... well... and of course here be spoilers but... well there's another android (Mary?) who's not terribly relevant... And um (trying to remember) oh yeah. But the thing is that the android Deckard is in love with looks exactly like Priss (who he has to kill). The moment leading up to Deckard killing Priss isn't very loaded though. Dick just doesn't use that dramatic tension. We don't build up to it, it's no big deal that he shoots her.

And when Deckard kills Roy it's also not terribly difficult for him and he says something like "Androids are stupid" and just goes on about his day. No big deal.

The screenplay for Blade Runner is just brilliant though. Have I mentioned that?

*These plays were also really good. And I may have some of my facts wrong as I'm just saying all this from memory. At least two of these plays were produced at Manhattan Theatre Source. I may have done some work on one or two of them -- I honestly don't remember. I wasn't the sound designer on any of them but I may have helped the set designer, Maruti Evans, with something or other. I do remember it was the production of The Third Man which turned us on to Le Maitre hazers over using fog machines.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

View from my apartment building

That's the moon above (with a jot of Jupiter nearby.) The lower skyline of New York. The lights were lavender tonight. I forget what that's for but I love everybody so it's OK by me.
This is not the view from my apartment, oh no. But up on the 5th floor on the east side of the building you can see through Jersey City to lower Manhattan. I took this picture from a stairwell.

Blogging drunk is the best.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Three Things

I know a number of people who've quit Facebook. Mostly because of the ridiculous privacy issues. Here's an article on how to protect yourself.

My wicked stepmother keeps over-feeding me. It's her fault, not mine, that the pesto she makes is so good. And that she makes me take a second and third serving. Remember: her fault. Not mine. Evil. It keeps me from losing weight.

My parents leave the door to the closet by the front door open now because little Meydl, for whatever weird cat reason, loves to jump in and out of that closet. I mean loves it. It seriously becomes the most exiting thing she's ever seen in her life (whenever she feels like it). If they close the door they will inevitably lock her inside. If they close it and she ISN'T inside she will clamor to be inside. Cats are weird.

I have nothing to hide but plenty to fear

New rule: no eating after six pm. I haven't actually succeeded in following this rule since I instituted it. But it's the new rule.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Question and Answer Time

Is there any sound funnier than the sound of two cats galloping?

No. The answer is "no".

Oops. Sorry.

Jersey City pooped all over Brooklyn last night. Sorry!
I must have been upwind of it 'cause I was fine.

Today's Pornography Winner

Thanks for the water, here's some pearls.
This Piazzetta of Rebecca at the Well is simply the most pornographic thing I've seen on the Internet all day.The beautiful luminescence of her skin is just ravishing. And she looks like such a real person too. With a good hairstylist. Anyway, she's my third-favorite thing about this painting.

My second favorite thing about this painting is the camel in the background. He has some attitude, man!

But my favorite thing is the disinterested cow lookin' almost straight at camera.


There's another hi-rez version on Flickr.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

OK, James Knapp

... if that's what your real name is. I've read your books. I bought The Silent Army and State of Decay. And now I have to wait for the third book in the series?


You better be hard at work writing the third part of the trilogy.
I'm sure that somebody's already picked up the rights to the story. It's hard to turn into a screenplay, for a couple reasons. One is that there's a bunch of mind-control and stuff that goes on in people's heads. But that's the lesser of the problematic reasons because sometimes it's easier to show stuff like that than not. So that's no reason. Don't pay attention to me. Please, disregard this paragraph.
The bigger issue is that there are three or four great ideas in the books and you'd probably have to strip that down to two great ideas for a screenplay. There's the notion that there are three tiers of citizenship -- which is an awesome critique of Heinlein's Starship Troopers. There's the notion of the State being in a permanent war (wonder where THAT came from?) There's the idea that certain people have the innate ability to see events in the future and also control people individually -- making them do things and forget things. Then there's the idea of the revivors themselves -- the State will allow you to go up one tier of citizenship if you allow yourself to be used as a zombie soldier for the war after you die.
It would be difficult to make a 110 page script which adequately addressed those issues to enough of the audience that it would be successful. A TV-series, sure, as long as it looked good enough. 
In the meantime the characters are even more compelling in the second novel than the first. Which is why I want to know what happens to them. So James Knapp, get that book finished!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Appropriate Use of Force

For many crimes I believe to know the right and just means of punishment. There is a certain class of misdemeanor for which the punishment should be that a large cat should come over and smack the evil-doer on the nose.

Whack! Penance absolved.

Like you're an actor and agree to be in a show, but your girlfriend is Jewish and suddenly you remember you need to be home for some obscure Jewish holiday in the middle of the run even though when you were hired three weeks ago you said you could do the whole run of the show and none of the dates were a problem for you. But now that you're "converting for her" and you don't really know when Jewish holidays come and go so now you've got to bail out (with a week's notice thank-you-very-much) and the producer needs to come up with a replacement for one performance you need to spend with your future Jewish in-laws.
Welcome to the world of irrelevant images.

Is this a mitzvah? No. God should send a very large cat down to the street to smack you on the nose.

Or say you're offered a lead in a feature film. Is the whole summer OK for you? Yes, you have weekends off for the whole summer. So you start shooting and then  "Oh, I can't do the month of August. I'm going to be out of town!"

Big cat, when you least expect it, swats you on the nose.

You agree to produce for a week-long show of short plays of Manhattan Theatre Source's Estrogeniuous. But two days before first performance you drop out, citing... well not citing any reason at all.

Later than night, while opening your mailbox at your apartment building, a large cat WHUMPS your nose and skidattles off.

That's the way things ought to be in my Solomon-like wisdom. So Say I. So say we all.

If You Want a Lot of Power, You're Going to Have to Deal With Some Weirdness

So in the open-source world Gimp is a pretty good replacement for Photoshop. I've been using it a lot and it really works well. There are a couple oddities which you have to get used to if you've used Photoshop, but then again Photoshop has it's own oddities so there you go. If you want a lot of power, you're going to have to deal with some weirdness.
That should be my new slogan.
And Inkscape is apparently the replacement for Adobe Illustrator.
I need a copy editor. I can't figure out which words to capitalize in titles. And really, is the Pleasure for the Empire style-guide based on Chicago or Strunk & White? Maybe we have our own style guide. Maybe it's secret. Maybe it's even secret from me.

Internets Today

OK Cupid did some analysis of the differences between gays and straights. Shockingly, Lady Gaga is more on the "gay" side. I wish they'd broken up their likes/dislikes data clouds between gay men/straight men and gay women/straight women.

And via Chance Shirley, a documentary about the Beatles from the year 3000.

Monday, October 11, 2010

An Important Lesson

An Abitrix?
So I just happened to be walking by the games-workshop on 8th Street in Manhattan and at first I was disappointed to see their gate half-closed as they were clearly closing up. But two dudes were standing out front and one had a Warhammer T-shirt on and a name tag with "Manager" written on it so I said "Excuse me, I have a Warhammer question."
"Sure, how can I help?"
"How do you pronounce "Arbites"? (I pronounced it "Ar-bye-tees").
His reply: "Are-bights" (The "I" is long, the "e" is not pronounced.) "Adeptus Arbites".

So, now that I've finished the Warhammer 40,000 750-page Shira Calpurnia Omnibus, I finally know how to pronounce the name of her organization.

Courtney Cox is Available Now

And yes, I DID like her since "Dancing in the Dark".
And I'd like to say it's all my fault. It isn't. But I'd like to say that. You see, it's my good lovin' that just puts David Arquette to shame and Courtney said that if she can't have me then she just doesn't want anyone anymore. That's what I'm telling my friends at least.
I have good friends so they agree. At least if I'm buying a round they do.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Today's Day

Today I did about two hours of work loading in and tweaking the sound system at the Living Theater in the Lower East Side here in New York. Somebody at some time at that theater put some money into it because there was a modern amplifier, subwoofer, equalizers, and even a pair of Lexicon reverbs (which the company wasn't using, but it was interesting that they owned them.) And it's all kept pretty well organized. They have plenty o'lights and a decent, if low, grid. The space is big but kind of weirdly shaped.

If you're low on your 18th and 19th-Century porn, you can start with this dude, Édouard-Henri Avril, who illustrated Fanny Hill, among other things.

Saturday, October 09, 2010


The Queen of Mars went on a journey to the Statue of Liberty and took this picture. I love how it shows Liberty looking over New York as though protecting the harbor with its light.

Warhammer 40,000

So, I'm reading this "Shira Calpurnia Omnibus" of three-novels-in-one which takes place in the Warhammer 40,000 world.

I never knew what that world was.

But you know that little store on 8th Street, on the south side, before you hit Broadway? That's like Warhammer central. I guess that brief summer of playing Dungeons and Dragons as a teenager dates me as old enough that I'd never heard of Warhammer (or recognized what it was 'till now).

So I start reading this book and it is amazingly and stupendously boring. It's kind of like if the Nazis had won and you were reading an account of an SS officer a thousand years from now. The church is super-powerful politically but otherwise doesn't do anything. There are all kinds of military and paramilitary units running around enforcing arbitrary laws. The lead character is all about Honor and Justice and Duty and really has no character at all. In fact, after reading the first book I know who is guilty, I even know how they did what they did. But I'm still not entirely sure why they did it.

What really annoyed me was that it seemed like there was all this tremendous amount of religious stuff but it didn't mean anything. Just like Dune but the astrogators didn't need spice and weren't worming their way through treacherous space and...

...and all of that is just incorrect. The first book is rather boring because we don't really get into a lot of stuff and instead talk for hours about politics. But the world is kind of cool in that to do interstellar travel you need mutant navigators who can guide you through storms of chaos -- chaos gods which are capable of entering ships and at the least causing bad dreams and at worst taking over bodies and using them as weapons against the other souls on the ship. Now that's cool. THAT'S some conflict. And that stuff just didn't happen in the first novel in this big tri-novel. The religion, corrupt as it is, actually does have a real and potent enemy in these Chaos Gods from the warp - streams which interstellar craft travel.

I do formally request that for the last third of the omnibus we have one main character, we know who that character is and what they want. I'm talkin' to a Warhammer wall here, but I'm sayin' more Dune and fewer reports in faux-Latin. Or maybe it's real Latin (hey all I remember about Latin was how cute this girl Agnes was who sat in front of me. She had blonde hair and thick glasses and her name means "lamb".)

Volpin Props on building an Ultramarines Bolt Pistol.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Today's News

Yeah, I gotta say that this Village Voice column decrying some guy who married his daughter and how the guy's name got expunged from Wikipedia because the guy isn't "notable" is... well... kinda silly. The story is nice and salacious but I don't really see how it makes any of the players in it "notable". And the sort-of complaining that The New York Times doesn't run an article about the guy... well that's just not the kind of page 6 stuff the nominally staid Times is known for running.

Also, the tone of the article sort of suggests that the 29-year-old woman who started sleeping with her father (whom she did not grow up with or even know until she was 21) is simply a victim, completely incapable of making decisions herself.

The whole thing seems like something one would see in Gawker -- it's not some hard-hitting news piece. I think that sometimes the Village Voice confuses the two.

Now that I think about it, Gawker would probably do a smarter job of the "journalism" part. If only because their commenters will tear them to shreds if they don't.

Grover Does Old Spice

It's difficult to get through today without referencing Grover's parody of the Old Spice guy:

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Problem With Buffy

I don't know why I just keep watching.
The problem with Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series is that the complete series costs a hundred bucks on DVD.

Sure, you can watch them on Hulu but they only put up one season a month. October is "season 2" and it's the 5th and I've... already watched all 22 episodes.

Which means of course I desperately need a life.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Kickstart Marta

Marta Harasymowicz, who we first met while working on the horror film The Attic, is producing a short film. She worked on Millennium Crisis too. She has a Kickstarter page for the short film:

Getting Arthur Ready

We're close to having this monster for Earthkiller. Ian Hubert has again knocked himself out and given us some design elements that I'd never have thought of in a million years myself. We're going to have at least three of these things eating actors all over the place.
Arthur is getting ready.

Walking The Streets

I really deeply hate exercising. Although I feel a teensy bit better having had exercised, I really hate doing the exercise itself. I guess it's sort of like studying Latin that way. Except that it hurts in a different place.

Somebody thought this was the perfect card for me.
And I'm lucky I can walk in New York. My sister, for instance, has to actually drive to where she can go on long walks (she lives in the country). Of course, where she walks the land is riddled with mountain lions and crocodiles. Where I walk is riddled with automobiles.

Although statistically the automobiles are more likely to kill you it's not as though they're hunting you. Which somehow feels more reassuring.

Then again it's true that when you're crossing 6th Avenue and the light turns against you, you can feel the targeting emitters on the yellow cabs lock on. I think they use infrared body-heat sensors.

UPDATE: my sister insists they're alligators but also mentions cottonmouth snakes. The latter is a good reason to get more cats.