Sunday, July 31, 2011

Questions and answers

A dog. In a bag. On the subway.
Q. But Andrew, I want too much information!


Q. You have to be kidding, that's your blog?

A. And you can get to my other blogs from it: blog.pandoramachine.com , blog.tyrannosaurusmouse.com , etc.

Q. Wow. You really overshare!

A. Do you want to see some pictures of cats?

Q. It's the Internet. Of course I want to see pictures of cats.

A. http://blog.pleasurefortheempire.com/2010/12/no-paws-on-table.html look around but there are plenty o'cats everywhere.

Q. Are you sure the terms of your release into society allow you contact with people who aren't completely off their rockers?

A. That's why I talk to you.

Q. Suddenly, this isn't going well.

A. You should be surprised we made it this far, considering the drinks your little sister was funneling me.

Q. You suspect roofies?

A. I'm hoping those were roofies. Otherwise there's an un-tranquilized horse running around here.

Q. Can I help you?

A. Yes, send money.

Q. I was thinking tranq dart from a helicopter as you run across the Serengeti plains. 

A. Oh not again...

Birthdays

My eldest brother's birthday is actually tomorrow. But we celebrated it today. And we had all my siblings together in one place (which is rare).
At the party there were a lot of old friends of Dave (who is turning 60). And what I wasn't expecting were all the extemporaneous testimonials from his co-workers about what a loyal and strong friend they had both as a co-worker and when he was their Union representative. My family all thanked him as a protector of us younger siblings and, well I guess he's just a strong friend. He's one to keep.
Dave's touched a lot of people with music, with his leadership, with his heart. A loyal man with soul.

And that which should accompany old age,
As honor, love, obedience, troops of friends, 

Those are things he has.




Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ha!

Alex Epstein on Paul Feig.
He warns that sometimes people audition well in the room, but don't look good on screen, while other times an actor doesn't read well in the room, but "the camera makes sense of their face."
I gotta agree. I can't figure out anything from someone's audition. And I can't even remember hearing of any director who can reliably audition an actor.
It feels like what actually happens is that you hire an actor -- for whatever reason you tell yourself -- and then you adjust your directing to them. The work (movie, play) gets adjusted to do whatever that actor felt like doing and that's what makes everyone happy. I mean, that's not entirely true. But it's a lot of what's true.
On BRIDESMAIDS, they did 8 screenings. They'll do a "p" or polished screening -- their best cut. They'll also do an "e" or experimental screening, where they try stuff out. Sometimes there's stuff that doesn't seem like it will work that absolutely "destroys" in front of an audience.
Comedy. It's a cliche to say that comedy is hard. That's true. What surprises me is how the experts -- absolute experts, mind you -- have no idea what's working and what isn't.
Bunny lick.
I see this on every comedy I've worked on. No matter how much experience the director and actors have, they don't know how long to hold a line for laughs until after the first performance. People with a lot of experience don't know. Don't have any idea.

The end of the road

I'm sure I've posted this comic before. But I'm doing it again. Sue me.
Yes, cats cause schizophrenia. Or, uh. Wow, there's a stunning lack of facts in that article. Seems that cats kill just over 3% more birds than buildings. Or, about 10% of the bird population each year? Do you smell that? Smells like malarky...
In North Carolina for my eldest brother's 60th (egads!) birthday. Actually drove on a dirt road to get to dinner tonight. The street was actually called "Raper Road". I don't want to know any more.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Three Things from the Pandora Machine

Volpin Props makes a Mass Effect rifle that looks pretty sweet. Plus, he takes you through the step-by-step of making a custom prop gun.
The Straight Dope explains why guns work in space.
You know what doesn't work so great in a spacesuit? Whistling.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

People Ask, I Answer

People ask me "Drew, what is about you that is just sooooo sexy?"
And I tell them.
"It's my Delicate Cutters T-shirt".
The Delicate Cutters
Then they nod knowingly and walk away.

What I Do Instead of Work

Today I'm doing a deeply crappy job of getting anything done. I'd promised myself that the re-write to Dragon Girl would be done by the end of this week. And (I blame the heat) I just haven't been able to focus. Aren't there drugs to take for that? Or drugs that do the opposite and then I can just blame the drugs?

The Bloggess is one of the most hysterical blogs I read.
A HUG IS LIKE A STRANGLE YOU HAVEN’T FINISHED YET.

Furthermore, in today's cat porn, black cats being used for advertising. How could anyone think these cats bring bad luck -- what with the ueber-derpy looks on their little cat faces?

Oh look, The Asylum is making another dragon picture. Dragon Crusaders. The first couple of animations and composites look really fantastic.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A test

For Brian Schiavo's new movie. This is Ethan.
Our own David Frey will be shooting. Should be a lot of fun.

By Declaration of the King

In this Land we have the Law.
I am charged with the execution of the Law.
The Law states that each Man to be put to the Punishment of Death shall Know the reason of his death as it is under the Law.
And though you are neither "men", and are instead blonde dipwad twins who sat in front of me in the movie theater, it is no matter. For the reason you are to be Put to Death under the Law is henceforth:

  1. You deemed it necessarily to speak during the motion picture. 

This reason and this reason alone you kneel before me and my sharpened blade hangs above your necks. Your Honorable defense council did persuade the Jury that indeed you did turn off your damn├ęd cell phones before the movie and only turned them back on during, and despoiling, the end credits of the film. So I have elected to make your deaths quick and merciful.

Your heads shall be placed on stakes outside of the movie theater for all to know your crimes.

Oh, and I need a doughnut... badly

Film Threat reviews Ceasar and Otto's Summer Camp Massacre.
David Wellington, of the brilliant "Monster Island" zombie series, writes under the name of David Chandler for his fantasy novels.
My cousin Jaime-Jin Lewis is the Executive Director of Border Crossers. And you should give them money.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Spencer Davis

The Spencer Davis Group are really quite something. I'd never really known anything about them other than their couplea hits. 
I was always a big fan of The Animals version of House of the Rising Sun, and you know, Nina Simone does a pretty good version herself. ;-) But I gotta give it up to the live version on Live at Blues Garage. Contrary to what you might imagine from the cover art, it was recorded in 2005. The sound of the song is very like the sound coming straight off the mixing board. Because you'll tend to mix drums a bit lower in a live environment (drums usually being plenty loud all by themselves) the mix might sound a tad old fashioned coming straight off the board (because records used to be mixed with quieter drums than they are now).*
As it turns out, Spencer Davis can play guitar. 
*And yes, there are tricks you can use to get a direct mix off the board to sound like you want it to rather than "off the board" but they involve auxiliary sends. 

Ooh! Look!

Our own Rebecca Kush in a Gerber commercial:

Frauds (I mean "Producers")

I'll admit, I kinda feel sorry for Bret Saxon. Well, maybe not really. Via William Martell, the life of an independent producer:
Saxon traveled by private jet, had a Mercedes and a Ferrari, and lived in a 10,900-square-foot Pacific Palisades estate with a movie theater, tennis court and swimming pool, according to interviews and court records.
Me? I travel by PATH, and I borrow my stepmom's Civic. I live in a jr 1-bedroom in Jersey City and have a really nice shower. I mean, according to interviews and court records.
Cash has flooded into movies from international tax deals, government subsidies, foreign banks, hedge funds and wealthy individuals.
Yes and yes. This. More please.
Some of those suing Saxon say that even as his explanations for where investors' money had gone became increasingly implausible, they nevertheless gave him more.
Tell me how to get this skill. All the movies I've made in the last 10 years have made their money back (with the exception of Solar Vengeance which only maybe just made its money back but now that I think about it more that's the only picture which had proper "investors" so maybe I better shut up now.) The short answer is that you should send me your money right now.
Sigh.
But wait a minute. Here's a weird sentence from the article:
A trio of investors — fledgling producers Kirkwood Drew, Jordan Udko and Ayman Kandeel — claim in their lawsuit that they gave Saxon $2.73 million in May 2006 to make "The Grand" and contend their contract promised a "guaranteed minimum" return of $2.97 million.
Uh. Really? A "guaranteed minimum"? That, to my non-law-degree'd ear, sound suspiciously like a loan rather than an investment. Now, this could be simply shoddy journalism from the LA Times. Or, we could be looking at a whole buncha fraud. And not just from the producer.
Doug Ames, who helped raise money for Saxon's productions, said he heard Saxon tell potential investors that he already had all the cash he needed. "His pitch was, 'I don't need your money. I could do it without you, but I am giving you an opportunity to make some money,'" said Ames, 49, who later fell out with Saxon.
As far as I know, that's the way to do it. Doesn't Bruce Campbell say that's how they raised money in If Chins Could Kill?
But really this sound to me like more of a morality tale of whom you should accept money from. This, then:
In Tennessee, Saxon met Dennis Sonnenschein, a 67-year-old equine enthusiast and former massage parlor owner who once had been jailed for failing to pay taxes. He had dreamed of making a movie about Paso Fino horses — a breed distinguished by its stamina and smooth gait — and had co-written a screenplay about them.
Lesson learned? Try to not do business with felons. Or, if you do, try to make sure it's just drug-dealers and murderers you work with. You know -- people who won't screw you.
I think that "Unlucky Producer or Hollywood Fraud?" is a false dichotomy. The word here shouldn't be "or". "And" -- "and" is the word you want there.
All producing is is lying. You lie to everyone. You tell them there's going to be a movie. Hell, you tell them there already is a movie. And let me make this clear: you absolutely have to lie. You have to say "We're shooting on September 3rd" or whatever and just keep saying it. Why? Because otherwise the movie just won't happen.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Whip It Good

Do you know what's a beautiful animal? The longhaired whippet*. A dude on the subway had one today. It's too big a dog to put in a carrier and he just had the dog out walking, which I believe is illegal. But the dog was very chill.

I can't find a picture of a whippet online that looks like the dog I saw at all. It was mostly black (I think he/she had a diamond white spot on the ruff) and, of course, had long hair. Also: Williamsburg thin. You know, like a whippet: heroin chic.

*Insert joke about racing dogs that like classical music.

Bad Southern Accents

The Economist on bad Southern accents. Specifically they pick on True Blood which, let's face it, is a pretty easy target.
Accents are weird. One strange thing about them is that when one is very emotional one's "original accent" tends to come out -- even if that's an accent one has worked to avoid.
You know what I found interesting about Buffy the Vampire Slayer? I mean, one of the things I found interesting about Buffy? Anthony Head, who played the role of Giles, had a fairly upper-middle-class accent most of the time -- except when he got mad. Then his accent slipped to more of a working-class London accent. Apparently that is actually something like Mr. Head's original accent. In any case, it says something very specific about his character.
Even more impressive to me is James Marsters accent -- he goes from a lower-class accent to an upper - class accent when his character is angry. This is a kind of brilliant subtle indicator of the character Spike's pretending to be working class when really he's upper class -- just the opposite of Giles.
The Great British tend to be sensitive about how badly Americans do British accents. American Southerners tend to be sensitive about how everybody screws up their accents. And apparently Scots have, for whatever reason, a devil of a time doing Irish accents. I don't know nobody who gives a damn about a bad Brooklyn/Bronx/Joisey accent.
The deep, dark secret is that all these accents have infinite variations. So if you do an accent and you're consistent, you know that somebody somewhere actually has that accent. But the trick is you'll probably slide around and "give away" your own accent. Or just do silly things that the accent you're trying to mimic doesn't do. See True Blood for examples.
UPDATE: special bonus this map of American dialects.

What's Going On in the Pandora Machine

  • We're editing away on Android Insurrection -- Joe Beurlein, Rebecca Kush, and Tom Rowen are getting real headway. I believe David Frey is also working on the picture -- I'll have to ask him. ;-)
  • We're finishing up on Earthkiller. This picture is very late. But it's also very good. At least I'm very happy with it. We're six months behind schedule on it but my goal is to be finished by the first of August. We won't be, of course, but we'll be finished by the ides of August. 


  • I'm doing another round of edits on the screenplay to Dragon Girl. This is by far the most commercial script we've ever gotten. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Delicate Cutters

So I'm listening to my buddy Chance's band, Delicate Cutters, on Spotify (because my CD and T-shirt haven't come in yet.)
And yeah:

  • I'll probably never open the CD case and just listen to them on Spotify.

But that's not the only thing I was thinking.

  • Female vocals are a funny thing. Like violins. 

They sound they typically make doesn't "develop" until you get a few feet away from them.
But the popular way to record female (and, well, all pop vocalists) is to close mic them. And then kittywhump them with more compression than your grandma knows what to do with.
The effect of this is to make it sound like you're way down the vocalist's throat. You hear every tiny noise they make. This is especially true on ballads. I suppose it sounds "sexier". Perhaps that's because you never hear a woman's voice like that unless she's whispering in your ear in bed.
But Delicate Cutters don't do that super close-mic sound (which is frequently marked by pops on the letter "P" which sound -- to me -- like someone's kicking a mic stand). If I were producing a record like that I'd be inconsolably terrified of not sounding "professional". Which is ironic because even super-expensive albums by Sarah Mclachlan have both that "in your face" sound and some low frequency whumps that seem designed to smash your stereo.

  • So where was I?

Oh right, Delicate Cutters. They don't get too close with the voice. And it sounds great that way. The band itself sounds like it's in a "room" and not in the sort of fake bombastic space most pop records seem to exist in.

Sheet Beat

The best thing, to me, about using the Blake Snyder 15-point beat sheet (with the 5-point finale) is that as one is writing a script it's easy to know where you are.

Do you ever look at the counter on the DVD player when watching a movie, or the clock when watching TV, and say to yourself "Where are we in this thing?"
I do that all the time.

The same thing happens to me with screenplays. You work on the thing for so many days that sometimes you can get mentally lost about where in the story you're supposed to be. If you look down and see you're on page 60, they you're all like "Well whew, I can slow down now, this is a quiet part of the picture."
But first, what is the name of this movie?

Dragon War
Dragon Girl
Dragon Mistress

Right now I'm leaning toward Dragon Girl.

Here are my notes on this screenplay.
It's important that Miranda tells Amelia how to operate dragons. The key is that whomever gave the dragon some blood last the dragon is beholden to. And from that previous sentence surely you think "Do NOT let Drew actually write this thing!"

If Amelia has an opportunity to kill Fennec at the beginning of the picture, and doesn't, then it makes sense that Fennec follows her around for the rest of the movie.

Font elitism amuses us

Sorry I’m standing in the way of your minimalist Bauhaus-esque fascist snoozefest.
From.
Besides, Comic Sans is the only typeface I can read when it's in 16-point type on the floor in bad light (like say a set list or a chord chart).

Monday, July 18, 2011

Will We Have Puppets?

Stick-on customizable skins for drum heads. Chance says our drummer may want the option to remove the T-Mouse logo for some reason. I can't imagine why.

For our Tyrannosaurus Mouse concert I think we will end up performing at a volume level of around 85dB SPL A-weighted. That means we won't have to wear earplugs but the drummer will be "restrained". I don't know if that means brushes or not.

I need a way to let the guitar amplifiers drag on my signal. I'm finding that the buffering from my MXR analog delay is "hyping" my guitar sound too much for my pleasure. I might end up doing something strange there, I don't know what yet.

Will we have puppets?

From Our Friends at The Asylum

The Asylum:
This is one squared-off rabbit. And no, it has nothing to do with the rest of this post.
"We apologize for screwing up the physics on our giant, transforming robot movie."

I'm still not buying it

Back at a theater I used to work at, Clay Shirky used to say "Never give an intern an intern's job."
And my response was to agree with "Interns aren't worth what you don't pay them."
So I got to admit that if all interns disappeared, it wouldn't make any difference at all. Especially if interns are what enable people to work 80-hour weeks.
Because if you're working an 80-hour week, you're probably only getting about 12 hours of work a week actually done. And the intern is just taking away time from that.

Brigawoo

Honda Rune.
The Big Media is still trying to convince me not to get a motorcycle.
I'm not 100% convinced that Harley Davidson motorcycles really look substantially better than Hondas. I realize that much is lost, ostensibly, in the "cool" factor when your bike isn't a Harley. Although I'm sure you could have a great deal of attitude if you had a Triumph (if only because of the Jethro Tull song.)
And it looks like Actors Equity does not work the same way in Chicago as New York. Most starting-out actors in New York I know try to get into Actors Equity as a way of showing how "professional" they are. That doesn't seem to be the case in Chicago. Hmm...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Chicago II

Wacker? You brought her...
Back from Chicago. I'll admit that Chicago has a very exciting theater scene. I saw Predator the Musical in a funky neighborhood (Irving Park?) last night. And yeah, it's Predator... as a musical.
It's not the fairly famous Internet video.
And although I think it's fairly flawed (the tone between the "book" and the music is fairly divergent) it sure is fun.
New York theater tends to be very serious. And I mean that in every bad way possible. But Chicago has many very interesting little theater companies.
There are a lot of differences between Chicago and New York. Obviously the price of real estate is one of the big ones. Also, from my brief experience looking at Chicago theater -- is anybody out there Equity? I mean do working or semi-working actors bother joining Equity? Do the equivalent of off-off Broadway producers in Chicago bother to sign Equity contracts?
Well I don't know. And I've managed to get that one-hour back-and-forth jet-lag from the weekend. So I'm gonna sleep it off.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Chicago

So, I'm in Chicago. I just saw Alien Queen. Brilliant show. Fantastic idea, performed wonderfully well, the sound quality was abysmal. Which is ironic because there must have been a quarter of a million dollars in sound gear at the Metro, which was the venue. The venue is beautiful and the people nice. But the sound... I haven't heard sound this bad since the 80's. My guess is that the side fills were too loud and it was turning everything into mud but (shockingly) they didn't let me go in there and start turning parts of the sound system off in order to identify the problem.
Although you can never go wrong with pulling down some 250 and 500Hz in your life.
Did I mention how brilliant the show is? The music of Queen. The... I don't even know what from the first two Alien movies. There were a lot of aliens. And Newt was played by a beautiful puppetrix.

And how is the new John Carter of Mars going to be?

My brother the oldest has seemingly taken up photography in his retirement. He has a Canon 7D. This is what he sends me when he wants my jaw to hit the floor.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ass

Apparently, owning Rockstar Games turns you into an ass. Why deny credit to people? It costs you nothing to credit people. It's just deranged and self-defeating behavior on management's part.
There's simply no reason to expect someone to stay with your company for their entire career. Not only is that bad for the employee, it's bad for the company. If you want to actively retain people, then actively retain them, don't threaten them with a lack of credit.
Besides, if you burn an employee by not crediting them, you're unlikely to be able to ever hire them again. Don't you think that one day you might want to be able to do that?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Crossbows

Are you low on tactical assault crossbows? I know that you are. These are crossbows which use the receivers of AR15 assault rifles. No, I'm not kidding. But the TAC15's are pricey -- plus you have to add the AR15 to them.

Also interesting is that many people, apparently in fear of the coming zombie holocaust, have made their own repeating crossbows.



Which is pretty amazing if you ask me.

What we need are the anti-aircraft version of a crossbow. The equivalent of the German 88's in crossbows.

Ironicalisms

So, I'm writing a script (as fast as I can) and structurally basing it on The Road Warrior. Instead of Max it's a girl with a crossbow. Instead of guzzuline it's dragon's blood. And, instead of cars, it's dragons.
There are two main bad guys in the Road Warrior -- Wez is the mohawk dude, and the Humungus is the shirtless guy in the hockey mask.
Now, I had gone and rolled them up into one character -- a golden dragon.
But now I've been told that if I have a script about girls with crossbows and dragons, I gotta have a warlock.
So I'm adding a warlock -- which makes it sort of the Humungus character.
Which means that even where I'm diverging from the Road Warrior structure, I'm still being brought back.

Combat Hospital

OK, this is my third post about the music in Combat Hospital. Is somebody making music choices in the first act as a goof. I mean, are they sitting there saying "Hey, let's put this music in there!" and then cracking up in a marijuana - hazed edit suite?
No really. Four episodes and each has had one messed-up cue in the first act. Whassup?

Page 54

  • Tattly is the Etsy of Tattoos. I'm going to have to work out a bunch before I can wear this rabbit.
  • I'm thinking we might not have a digital cat in this Dragon War movie. The baby dragon probably serves all the purpose the digital cat would/did have.


  • Trying to invite my dad to Google+ I ran into a level of confusion never before seen by man nor god.
  • That being said, if you want a Google+ invitation, just ask me. But I feel like at this point everyone who's been clamoring to get on has gotten on. I'm a bit surprised at the sheer number of people who have never heard of it
  • Things I have left that I think I want to do before I die include: getting a motorcycle (and motorcycle license), learning to scuba dive, becoming King of England.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Not That Impressed

So, color me churlish, but I'm just not impressed with the short film Plot Device. Presumably it cost just under ten thousand dollars in cash.
I mean it's OK. It's funny. It only overplays the joke by two "environments". It's one location. There's a behind-the-scenes which is longer than the short.
But it's a short. In one location. For more than a thousand dollars a minute.
If you make a feature for ten thousand dollars (which is basically what you have to do nowadays) then all right, I'm with you.
But a short? Meh. You've overspent.

Plot Device from Red Giant on Vimeo.
+++++

Proof of the Divinity Inside Me

I'm in the grocery store and a clerk says "This line for five items or less."
The pedantic little snot behind me juts ahead of me and says "It's 'five items or fewer', not 'less'."
I actually say the words "Shut the fuck up, asshole." But not terribly loudly you see.
It may be that I said it quietly enough that he didn't hear me.
In any case not only did I re-take my place in line but I let the person behind him go ahead of me.
And that is proof of the Christ-like patience I have. Because honestly I think Jesus Himself would have just cold-cocked that guy, shoved an apple in his mouth, and called him done.

Models

Back in the olden days, when dinosaurs walked the earth and I was in my early 20's, I somewhat studied musical composition. Honestly, it's embarrassing how little I know (and how lousy my ear training is) considering that I once took that pretty seriously. Well, lazily. Yes, I guess I took it pretty lazily.

In any case, basically the first thing one does when learning composition, is to model the structure of your compositions against other pre-existing works. You aren't likely to just sit down and intuitively write a sonata allegro, you really need to study how (say) Bach did it and write a few his way first. Then when you really have the structure in your head, you go ahead and party with sonata allegros (or whatever) to your heart's content.

In popular music the structures are even more conservative. Intro, verse, verse, bridge, chorus, (intro), verse, bridge, chorus, instrumental verse, verse, bridge, chorus, chorus, chorus. There, that's the form of almost 80% of popular music. The remaining 20% of popular music are slight variations on the above.

+++++

So I'm kinda trained to not be prejudiced 'gainst the idea of a hierarchically imposed screenplay structure models.
Like, for instance, the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet.

I suspect that for many people, applying a heavy-handed structural template to a screenplay seems oppressive. I suspect that's for at least one of a few reasons:

  • They really don't want to go back and re-write the story they have to match the template (actually, I have been guilty of this)
  • They are already so good at story structure that it's all "intuitive" to them so they don't need someone saying (the equivalent of) "do the theme again here, but in a new key!"

Me? I'm not one of those people. Tell me where to do the thing again. In a new key.

So, what are you doing?
I'm writing a screenplay based on Mad Max 2.
I thought you had already done that.
I started to but... it got derailed.
So what's this one then?
Teenage girl, crossbow, dragons.
So you're writing The Road Warrior but with a teenage girl and a crossbow instead of a supercharged V8?
Actually, the "vehicles" are dragons.
What are you doing? Crossing out the name "Max" and writing in "Teenage girl"?
Not exactly. But I'm going through (mostly) scene-by-scene and putting the new story elements in which do the same things in the scene.
So, you're using "equivalents" in the new screenplay?
Exactly. Instead of a Gyro Captain, our heroine encounters a witch.
What about Max's dog?
That is a hologram of a cat.
Of course.
And, of course, we have other differences too. Right now the teenage girl is looking for her lost brother.
That's a bit more "humane" than the Mad Max motivation.
I know. We're just using The Road Warrior as a structural model. Not really as a exact analog for all the story elements.
So how is the story similar to The Road Warrior?
There's a compound and its under siege. Our heroine gets them extra dragons to protect them.
Isn't that just cheating?
If you aren't cheating, you aren't trying hard enough.

+++++
Mohawkers, Skinheads, Smegma Crazies, Gayboy Berzerkers, the screenplay to Mad Max 2 is simply brilliant. Filled with typos and brilliantly choreographed action. What's even better is to see the stuff they took out or changed before filming.

It Takes a Million Bucks

The evidence demonstrates that the first time Tyrannosaurus Mouse ever got together was Monday, September 21st, 2009.
I'm still looking at Napoleonic Jackets because, you know, other people need groovy jackets too.
How much does it cost to make a hit song? About a million dollars. About $78,000 of that is in actually making the song.
I find it fascinating that there is a vocal producer. I've always suspected that. It explains the vocal style of (especially female vocalists) where the singer runs through a range of styles (baby-talk, belt, soft+whispy, etc.)

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Date!

Tyrannosaurus Mouse will be playing with the City Samanas for a benefit for Theatresource on Wednesday the 28th of September, 2011. 
What will we be playing? 
I have no idea. 
Will there be burlesque dancers and lots of feathers? 
I sure hope so.

Finances

If you know me, you know I'm less "financially a bad risk" and more "threat to national security". I simply shouldn't be given any money (because I'll probably just make a movie with it.)
But I went to the Financial Planning for Artists Seminar at Theatresource on Saturday.
So now I'm not only evil, but I know how evil I am.
Ha!
So, you are wondering, what did I learn?
If you own property you do not want to read this post. Just look at pictures of cats or something.
+++++
Owning property is a lousy investment.

The Wall Street Journal says so.

The New York Times has a calculator that proves it.

So at least I don't own a house!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Magnolia


My eldest brother, David, planted this Magnolia in his yard in North Carolina. Now, like a triffid, it is growing and readying for the day when Plants Rule the World...

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Errata!

So, it turns out I was WRONG!
Wrong in my snarky review-of-a-review by the New York Times.
Although the first few versions of the show were directed by Andrew Frank, this version is in fact credited to John Andrew Morrison.
So there. I offer this puppy as sacrifice:
The gods of wrongness have been appeased.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish

Eve Annenberg's Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish is reviewed in the New York Times. Woo!
Ooh, look! Update! I found a picture of Eve in Apostasy.

I Love Cats



The autotune dudes are at it again. Now with the eHarmony I love cats girl. Which. Is. Awesome.

Financial Planning for Artists

Our own Laura Schlachtmeyer, CFP, is holding a seminar tomorrow (July 9) at 1pm at Theatresource on financial planning for artists.
The title is "You Have More Money Than You Think". And, as a test-student last night I have to say it's pretty dang brilliant.
There's a $2 donation for the event to cover the theater space.
Laura really knows what she's talking about when it comes to finances and although she legally cannot give out specific financial planning advice, this seminar is super-helpful to us marginally employed/self-employed types.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Story Notes From Hell

"It's missing some tits and guns. That's how you sell a movie: tits and guns."
I'm enjoying the Story Notes from Hell blog. Especially amusing is that I agree with a lot of the notes. Especially the Save the Cat note. As much as writers like to complain about the notes they get, and like to cherry-pick the bad notes they get to use as examples of how they, as writers, know everything, writers frequently turn in pretty useless scripts. I know, because I've read so many of 'em! ;-)
And by the way, you really should read Save the Cat. And you really should put the catalyst on page 12.

Via.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Plus mashed coffee

If you have the need, want, or desire, to make a page "auto refresh" you can past this into your browser's address bar:

javascript:
timeout=prompt("Set timeout [s]");
current=location.href;
if(timeout>0)
  setTimeout('reload()',1000*timeout);
else
  location.replace(current);
function reload(){
  setTimeout('reload()',1000*timeout);
  fr4me='\n';
  fr4me+='';
  with(document){write(fr4me);void(close())};
}



Then you can enter in the number of seconds to go by before it auto refreshes. This trick comes from here. And yes, I'm using it in order to try to get on Google+. My question is: what happens when I do get in, and my browser auto-refreshes? Will it auto-refresh me right past my one and only chance to log in?
+++++
I'm watching this new show about (what I guess is the equivalent of) an Iraq MASH called Combat Hospital. I'm on the second episode. Some of their music choices are... weird. I noticed that in the first episode too. They cut the music in a scene about 5 seconds before the scene ended, which left the denouement of the scene kinda hanging. It wasn't really to emphasize a "button" on the scene, it just sorta ended early. Like they're using library music but their picture editors don't know how to cut music (picture editors as a rule can't cut music and also cutting music in a picture workstation is really obnoxious.)
+++++
I wish I could just take a number and get in line to get on Google+ rather than refreshing my invitation to see if I can get on. I don't even mind being number 999 and their only serving number 18. Heck, I don't mind if they just say "you can't get on until October 18th" as long as they'd just tell me. Why am I so eager to get on another big corporation's social networking site? Just because I hate the Facebook interface so much, that's all.

On Katy Perry

Katy Perry's music, which I find to be amongst the absolute worst of modern popular music, is not the issue here. As completely contrived as the lyrics and melodies are in this style of pop dance music (reaching their nadir in Rebecca Black's "Friday"), the current Internet kurfuffle is about her tour rider.
And honestly it doesn't seem like a very big deal. The rules that the driver has to not talk to the passengers, and not be security, seem... well... reasonable. There's an effort to make them seem "diva-esque" but as the rider repeatedly states, the reasons are for safety.
Sure, she wants some stuff in her dressing room. But for the sheer size this tour is (apparently the tour is a good 50 people minimum, it may be more) it's a fairly small effort on the promoter's part compared to all the things they likely have to do with the load-in and other logistics.
And that's my perspective.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Erin Hill's Mushrooms

Erin Hill has a new video on the youtubes with "Giant Mushroom":

Would You Like To Manage a Theater?

Theatresource, one of the best off-off Broadway theaters in New York City is looking for a new Managing Director. It is a hard job to be the GM of a theater in New York, especially one with the limited budget we have. On the other hand, you are the GM of a well-known theater in New York.
The location is right in the middle of Greenwich Village. And you'll be producing a hundred shows a year (I'm not kidding).

Feel free to disseminate far and wide. Here is the job description:



Manhattan Theatre Source, a 501(c)3 theatre in its 12th year of operation, is seeking
a Full-Time, Paid, General Manager (see full description of duties below). Interested
candidates should submit a resume and cover e-mail to jobopening@theatresource.org
no later than Sunday, July 17th.
General Manager Duties
The Source General Manager is expected to create a warm and welcoming environment in the
space at all times and to embody the Source House Rules: Practice Generosity of Spirit, People
Before Personalities, Share Your Information, and Clean Up After Yourself.
1. Bookings - mainstage and playground (and rehearsal room)
Includes:
○ Maintaining the theatre calendar (and rehearsal room calendar)
○ Marketing the space (basic listings, facebook, etc)
○ Proactively seeking bookings and responding to booking inquiries in a timely
manner
○ Conducting contract negotiations with potential lessors and signing the contract
on behalf of Manhattan Theatre Source
○ Securing timely deposits and installment payments for rentals
○ Liaising with the lessors pre-rental period regarding all details related to the
rental
○ Liaising with the lessors post-rental period regarding any balances due
2. Oversee day-to-day operations
Includes oversight or direct implementation of:
○ Ensuring the Source is staffed during operating hours (2pm-10pm/7 days per
week) as well as for early opening required by load-ins/rehearsals, etc.
○ Maintenance of the website
○ Creating ticketing in OvationTix
○ In-space marketing of the Source and Source productions
○ Ordering supplies
○ Day-to-day upkeep of space/general repairs
○ Ensure compliance with applicable NYC/State regulations (e.g., Fire, waste,
noise)
3. Management of volunteers (including shift managers)
Includes:
○ Maintaining the volunteer schedule
○ Directing the activities of/assigning work to the volunteers
4. Logistical support for in-house productions and fundraisers
Includes:
○ Compilation and printing of programs
○ Generation (excluding design) and posting of in-house signage
○ Generation, printing, collating, etc of appeal letters
○ Timely generation, printing, mailing etc of donor acknowledgement letters
○ On-site support of fundraising events
5. Organizational communications
Includes:
○ Generation of email blasts to and other communications with Source Shift

Game of Thrones and Race

Now let me tell you, I think that Game of Thrones is brilliant. Brilliantly written. Brilliantly cast. I mean, each and every scene in the thing is like a "scene study"-scene. The characters have these beautiful arcs over the series and over each freakin' scene. You're just thrown into a world of sexy and kinky and dragon-loving fun.
And also let me tell you that there are some minor spoilers here.

Minor.

Spoilers.

So my question is: where are all the African and Asian people?
Here's the place I come from, y'know bein' all white and male and such:
Okay, so in the world of Game of Thrones there are no "Asian" or "African" people. But remember, there are no "European" people either. They're in their own separate universe with their own rules. They're clearly not on Earth (what with the wack seasons and all). So OK, there are literally and figuratively no "races" in the Game of Thrones world.
Which means, to me, that the casting should therefore be wide-the-freak open.
Let me digress for a while.
Most people think that the more African one is the more dark-skinned one is. That's not true in and of itself. There are some very dark-skinned Africans. But depending on where you are in Africa you can see (genetically literally) all of the so-called "races" of humans.
All right. I'm back.
Now, there is a LOT of incest in Game of Thrones. And a lot of wondering whose baby is whose. For that reason you may (not "must") want to keep certain lineages of people looking one way or another. But by no means do you have to keep them all lookin' like white people. There's no reason some of these houses can't have some people of a variety of "looks" of people.
Furthermore, there are a whole bunch of characters unaffiliated with anybody else, and why not cast them with a wider range of people of the world?
And then here, as a director, I get a bit hackled. There are a lot of dark-haired white boys in this show. I absolutely cannot keep the Stark boys differentiated in my head. Couldn't the bastard son look a bit different somehow?
How about Bronn the mercenary?
Now look, the guy who played Bronn is great. His name is Jerome Flynn. I'm just showing that there are a gazillion places one could have added a non-white guy with black hair. There's a whole bunch of them at the Wall, aren't there? A bunch of white dark-haired dudes.
+++++
Now, if, and this is a big "if", you (as a producer) decided that yeah, all these major characters had to look somewhat related to one another and you started casting Asians and Africans as mercenaries, criminals, and whores, you'd get a lot of complaints too. You would probably fear the criticism "Why are all the people of color mercenaries, criminals, and whores?!" more than "Why are there no people of color in this dang show?!"
So it seems that you're damned from either side. If you made Lord Stark a "person of color" there'd be somebody who would complain that he was a complete stereotype of whatever race the person portraying him is.
On the other hand, can't one of the nurses be... well anything? Yes, yes they can.
And I'll give you some credit that the Mongol/Viking dudes were interesting. Making the head Ghengis-Khan character all scary at first and then making him seem like a decent husband is a very nice turn.
But casting some non-white people (in roles other than topless dancers around a bonfire) isn't just a nice idea, it also makes the whole show easier to freakin' follow!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Banned from Picasa

A few years ago my Picasa account was banned.
Giving me this delightful, and unhelpful, message.
As far as I can figure, this is the image which got me banned:
Because, you know, there's a flute player there.
Anyway, Picasa is kind of strange because Blogger uses Picasa for its images. So although the account has supposedly violated Google's TOS, the images are still accessible (and stored on) Picasa servers.
I can even add images directly from those Picasa pictures are stored (both before and after the content was "removed").
Possibly they banned this picture because of my white socks.
Like so.
But now today I've discovered another thing if I want to have access to the Picasa images. Going to Google's "Buzz" (or even in Gmail) I can view my "profile" and then go to "photos". Viola, there's all my Picasa images (and all the images from my blogs).
So, if this is a thing you need to do, that's how you do it.

Order from Netflix

Clone Hunter on Netflix
So, you can "pre-book" Battle: New York Day 2 on July 15th. That's only 10 days away! Our official release date is the 23rd of August.
One thing our distributor wants is for us to use teh social medias to push the movie. That's fine by me, I'm willing to Twitterize and Facebookcide the picture.
Pandora Machine on Netflix
Of course, we also need the cast and crew to do the same. Everybody go nuts!
Alien Uprising on Netflix
Our distributor explicitly asks for us to blog/tweet/'book the movie using the Netflix widget.
Millennium Crisis on Netflix
The problem is that Battle: New York Day 2 isn't actually on Netflix's servers in order to let people queue the movie. And Netflix (as a rule) won't buy the movie unless enough people have queued it. It's kind of a beautiful Kafka catch-22 isn't it?
Oddly, I feel fairly certain that Netflix did not pick up Millennium Crisis when it first came out. But they have it now. I don't think Netflix existed when Pandora Machine came out (although I might be wrong about that now that I think about it.)
And that's what's happening on July 4th in the Pandora Machine.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Theater Reviews

So, the New York Times reviewed Greenwich Village Follies. The review is kinda dumb. The reviewer, Anita Gates, is even a bit confused about who directed the show (which was Theatresource founder Andrew Frank, not the actor in the show, John Andrew Morrison, but I guess we Andrews are all alike.)
UPDATE: actually, John Andrew is credited with directing this version of Greenwich Village Follies so, oops, that was my mistake.
How can you say "the cast's... heart isn't really in it. Any of it." But "you can't say the players aren't enthusiastic?" Um. Hey, New York Times editors -- do you guys proofread any of this stuff for coherence?
The secret to this story is that the reviewer brought an 8-year-old girl with her. Now note that this is to a distinctly "R"-rated show. So that was... weird. And to think that it may have had an effect on the cast and audience of a little intimate 50-seat-space is... reasonable.
This puppy has complained at length about the level of power that the Times has over New York theater. So I won't bother to do it again.

Katzen

Winston (chat noir) and Meydl (chatte orange) lying together on the chair.
The cats get along extraordinarily well, actually.

Porkchop Effects

Porkchop Effects is Russell Porchia's VFX company. Check out his reel!

Saturday, July 02, 2011

I got some first-world problems

I can't get on Google+ even with an invitation because their servers are "over capacity".

Loud Pipes

This rabbit is tired of blogging about the problems of Final Cut Pro X.
+++++
According to Motorcyle Cruiser, loud pipes do not save lives.

"Whatever the reason, the research shows that bikes with modified exhaust systems crash more frequently than those with stock pipes. If you really want to save lives, turn to a loud jacket or a bright helmet color, which have been proven to do the job. Or install a louder horn. Otherwise, just shut up."

Read more: http://www.motorcyclecruiser.com/streetsurvival/dangerous_motorcycle_safety_myths/index.html#ixzz1Q3jVQ2Jk

+++++
I have a simultaneous fear of, and desire for, a motorcycle. Of course, I have a simultaneous fear of and desire to do wreck diving. I am completely uninterested in hang gliding or parachuting, but if someone wanted to give me helicopter lessons I wouldn't complain.

In any case, back to loud pipes: I've been looking for evidence that loud pipes saves lives, and I haven't found any. It does seem that most motorcycle accidents come from a dorkus turning in front of the rider, which is my greatest fear. Which is interesting because it's a rational fear (unlike my fear of bears, sharks, spiders, and mountain lions.)

Hours per day

  • Back some 25 or nigh-on 30 years ago I worked part-time in an office. One of the first things my dad pointed out was that when you work part time you're working all the time you're there. If you're a full-timer you're making phone-calls to your spouse at home, you're running off with your car to the DMV to get it inspected, you're ordering lunch. But me, as a part-timer, I was sitting in front of a computer (doing what turned out to be completely useless data entry) all four hours of my day.


  • The thing I've noticed about having multiple part-time editors is that they edit quickly. They get a LOT of work done in 4 hours or so. Sure, they're only maybe coming in a couple days a week, but they party hard on getting work done.


Executive Summary

When used long-term, Crunch Mode slows development and creates more bugs when compared with 40-hour weeks.
More than a century of studies show that long-term useful worker output is maximized near a five-day, 40-hour workweek. Productivity drops immediately upon starting overtime and continues to drop until, at approximately eight 60-hour weeks, the total work done is the same as what would have been done in eight 40-hour weeks.
In the short term, working over 21 hours continuously is equivalent to being legally drunk. Longer periods of continuous work drastically reduce cognitive function and increase the chance of catastrophic error. In both the short- and long-term, reducing sleep hours as little as one hour nightly can result in a severe decrease in cognitive ability, sometimes without workers perceiving the decrease.


That's all I got. There seems to be little modern data out there.