Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

The windows are opened wide to a hazy, lazy, warm Christmas day in L.A.
I decided not to go back to Pennsylvania this year for a variety of reasons, upon none of which I will elaborate.  

Christmas in L.A. – warm, no snow. Some love it, some find it depressing, you can make as much or as little of it as you like. It has been unseasonably warm, even by Socal standards – meaning that we hit 83 odd degrees yesterday. It’s a pleasant 70 right now.

Last night, I celebrated Christmas Eve with friends and an incredible Victorian style dinner. I made the mincemeat pie, not having any idea of what it was before embarking on a recipe hunt. It came out quite well, if I may say so myself. A Jewish/Moslem couple recently ensconced in the hills of Sierra Madre hosted the evening. The party, a wonderful mix of French, Swiss, Turk, Cuban/German (that’s me) and miscellaneous American heritages, we sang carols, drank eggnog, and feasted till we could drink, eat and sing no more.  

How’s that for celebrating the birth of Christianity?

Anyway, here’s hoping that your feasts and friends are also good. Enjoy the holidays and try not to make religion or consumerism too big a part of them.

Monday, December 12, 2005

screenings - free is best

You’d think, from all the time that has gone by since my last blog that I’ve been in production on something.
Nope.  Tis the season to be doing other things. The screening season and the party season is under full sail.
Watched Memoirs of a Geisha a few nights ago. I think it opens next week. Good movie. Should do well. Glad Spielberg didn’t direct it. His fingerprints aren’t apparent so I guess he left well enough alone.

Went to a screening of A Year and a Day last night. Good. Depressing, but with enough of a “level off at the end with the potential of hope” ending to not be suicide inducing. Very good acting too. Best of luck, Bob.

Tonight – some Harry Potter thing, then Narnia. I wouldn’t waste the time except they’re tech screenings and presented Digitally – which, by the way, makes seeing a movie projected from film a PAINFUL experience. Anybody who is still questioning the superiority of digital projection simply hasn’t seen a movie presented properly.

But of all of them, I am waiting mostly for –


This is the movie I waited years to see when I was seven. I had a big King Kong comic book that I’d memorized long before I watched Cooper’s monster thumping his chest. I remember watching it at 12:30 on a Sunday afternoon. It was the inspiration for so many clay modeled stop action experiments.

I’ve been allowing myself to feel that giddiness that leaves with childhood. It’s good. It reminds me of the simple joy of seeing a movie. I’ve been feeling little tingles of excitement, waiting at lights, as a bus in traffic goes by – the huge Art Deco Letters on the bus proclaiming – KOOOONNGG  KINNGG (The traffic goes slowly past left to right in front of you when you wait at a light)

Anyway, it has been good. It reminds me – after all that damn education about story structure, and journeys of heros, and the three act, the five act, the seven act, the plot points and devices and every other damn blah, blah thing that must be learned…

Be that kid with the wide eyes, listening intently and asking – “then what happens?”

Hey, if you’re in Los Angeles – the original 1933 King Kong is screening at the Egyptian Satrday, Dec 17th.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Pardon the Turkey

There's this tradition, a really dumb one if you ask me (which you didn't) where the president "pardons" a turkey or two during Thanksgiving.
I'm not really sure what that's supposed to imply, but it struck me funny just now as I read about it.

I kid you not, here is an excerpt from the CNN story. You can hit the title link to read the whole thing if you're so inclined.

Pardoned Thanksgiving turkeys heading to Disneyland

President Bush pardons the national Thanksgiving Turkey "Marshmallow" Tuesday."

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush spared two turkeys from becoming Thanksgiving dinner. Instead, the birds are going to Disneyland.

Thousands of people voted on the White House Web site to name the national turkey "Marshmallow" and an alternate called "Yam." At a ceremony Tuesday, Bush peered into Marshmallow's eyes, stroked its white fluffy feathers and patted its red head.

It goes on, but that's the cruxt.

It's too easy - Is Bush's new name Marshmallow?

Passage Link Wray 76

Guitar master Link Wray, the father of the power chord in rock 'n' roll who inspired such legends as Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie and Pete Townshend, died Nov. 5 at his home in Copenhagen, his wife and son said on his website. Wray, who played in his trademark leather jacket, developed a style considered the blueprint for heavy metal and punk music. He is best known for his 1958 instrumental "Rumble," 1959 "Rawhide" and 1963 "Jack the Ripper." The power chord -- a thundering sound created by playing fifths (two notes five notes apart, often with the lower note doubled an octave above) -- became a favorite among rock players. "He is the king; if it hadn't been for Link Wray and 'Rumble,' I would have never picked up a guitar," Townshend wrote on one of Wray's albums. In 2002, Guitar World magazine elected Wray one of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.

They say that if it’s too loud, you’re too old. Link Wray never got too old.
I was lucky enough to see Link Wray in a club in Philly, 1999. I guess he was around 71 at the time. It was easily the loudest show I’ve ever seen, but damn – it was cool. He looked like a demon with long black hair – down his back to is waist. After the show, I went back stage and after he begged his overly possessive wife to let him sign some autographs, I was able to shake his hand and get the inside of a CD sleeve signed.

Yeah, for some things, I’m quite the fan boy.

Take care, Link.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


The last week, when not working on Diamond Road or some AFM type thing, has been spent on the Hot Tub project. The hot tub project began when I found a Hot Springs hot tub on Craigslist at a price I couldn't resist. With the help of four able-bodied friends and a uhaul rental, we had grunted and groaned our way through picking it up and bringing it back here. We set it down behind the garage - a very unobtrusive place that had an old concrete slab. Perfect except for the fact that an avocado tree's roots had pushed up a part of it, preventing the tub from sitting level. I had thought about leveling it with pavers, but over the weekend I decided to dig under the slab in the hopes of getting leveling it. The hot tub sitting on the slab already, it’s a job I pondered a long time before starting. The first couple of shovels in, I felt good. A couple hours and a mountain of dirt, I was really questioning the sanity of what I had undertaken. I couldn’t help but feel like Steve McQueen in The Great Escape – tunneling under the slab. Eventually though, my digging seemed to have an effect as the guilty corner settled down and lined itself up with the rest, allowing the tub to sit right. I filled it with water, and was pleased to see that it’s only about half an inch deeper on one side than the other. Close enough.

Since the tub required a dedicated circuit, and this house is circuit-impaired to begin with, a friend of mine, experienced in the ways of electricity had put another circuit in the breaker box. Good for the backyard, good for the entire house. Thanks John!

Sunday was spent working on completing the electrical to the hot tub.
It began frustratingly as I attempted to push wire through a pipe in the crawl space to the circuit box. Finally, at my wits end, I called a contracting friend, who is one of my sailing mates for some advice. He dropped everything, came over, and with the expertise born of many a similar job (we pulled all the wires out of the pipe, then added the additional wire and pulled the whole bunch with a wire snake) were able to get a new circuit working. Thanks Dykeman!!
Wiring to and through the garage and to the back area went rel-a-tive-ly smoothly. Note the slight hesitation. There’s still work to be done -- but the end result was working electricity on a dedicated line with a GFI circuit. Ha!
Circuit was flipped, the GFI turned on and for the first time since that day of heavy lifting, a month and a half ago – the beast came awake.
It works! It’s alive. It’s alive.
It leaks.

Well, I knew it would leak. The previous owner told me it did. The pump needs to be rebuilt, which is easy enough. Ordered the parts last night. However, the second leak is a major leak and will be the bugger. As the tub ran, water started pouring out from beneath one corner. After careful peaking and poking, I pulled the redwood siding from that corner and ripped into the insulation beneath to reveal – solid, dry, piping, in other words, nothing. A second wet-test (hot tub owners may get the joke) revealed the leak to be from the other side. Unfortunately that other side is eight inches from the outer garage wall – which means that in addition to pulling more redwood siding off the tub and digging into that side’s insulation, I will also have to move the hot tub away from the garage to do the work. GRRR, cause it’s really, really heavy.

It appears to be a jet leak, meaning a replacement jet, and all sorts of pipe cutting, pvc sealant, etc. Overall, it’s a project for sure. Fortunately, there hasn’t been a sickeningly expensive part needed yet, and seeing the tub run was a thrill which has me looking forward to when it’s done – to that first soak. There is nothing so satisfying as a major DIY project successfully brought to completion. There is a side of me though that is having flashbacks to when I owned a Triumph Spitfire. It always seemed so full of promise, and one repair away from Nirvana. Next to that though, building a hot tub from scratch is a walk in the park. I’m guessing the tub will also be just a tad more reliable. Couldn’t be worse.


My VOIP journey seems to have successfully pulled up anchor, set the sails and shut off the motor. (any more sailing expressions and I should be keel hauled… DOH! What I’m talking about is my phone. We’ve been shifting to VOIP, and for the last few weeks, we’ve had both a landline and the packet8 VOIP thing going. The last couple of days, the phone rings have gotten strange – and then all calls started coming via our packet 8 line. However, I was still able to use the landline, and when doing a caller id check, it still registered my old number. This morning, the landline went dead. We are now officially a VOIP only house. It happened much faster than packet8 predicted, weeks faster, which is nice. It’s rare that a time estimate is wildly off IN your favor. When we had the landline concurrently with the packet8 we had the comfort of knowing we could use it if we needed it. Now though, we are entirely in the hands of new technology. For the first couple minutes of that realization, I truly felt like I was at sea when we cut the motors and are relying entirely on wind.

Ironically, as I write this, the internet has gone down. A late night hiccup, most likely. Hopefully. It is indeed an adventure.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Today's the day

“I hate people. Do you hate people?”
“I don't hate people. I just like it a lot better when they're not around.”

Name that movie. *

Today was one of those days where I just wanted to work. Just work, be left alone. Thank you very much.
The actual outline for the day went some - thing - like - this.

  • Modem acts funny.

  • Goes down.

  • Damn it!

  • Call the cable company (on the land line which I haven’t quite disconnected yet)

  • Talk to them for a while.

  • Stump them.

  • Damn it!

  • A service guy will be there between 1:00 and 7:00.

  • Be thankful that it’s not Monday instead.

In the meantime, try to work.
No, because:

  • Time for a meeting.

  • Damn it!

  • Cable guy eventually shows up.

  • Can’t figure out the problem

  • Finally gets cable limping along.

  • Schedules a lineman for Monday.

  • Cable guy leaves.

  • Try to work.

  • FIRE ENGINE pulls in front of my house, lights flashing, horns HOWLING – followed by EMT truck doing the same.

  • WHAT THE---?

  • Watch all the goings-ons through the window because really – what else are you going to do when THAT happens?

  • I guess someone with an overly reactive 911 trigger finger made a call -- as the gurney was wheeled out of the house as empty as it went in. That’s a good thing.

  • Visit from another filmmaker in town for a festival.

  • She leaves and I can sit down to hopefully write.

  • Call from another very angry filmmaker seeking advice about crooked distributors and what to do about them.

  • Dinner Date.

And so was my day. I wrote one goddamn line of story. Oh, and I had already written that one line about fifty times before.

I’m hoping tomorrow will be better.

I now have a stat counter hooked into this blog. I’m amazed by how many people are reading it. Hundreds, thousands. Well, not really, but more then ten people, I guess. It’s nice, but now I feel this pressure to perform.

So, in order not to completely disappoint, I present a bit of trivial news you can use if you’re up for risking twenty bucks:
I finally got my copy of “The American Astronaut”. I saw this movie at a festival in North Carolina a couple years ago. It blew me away and in scan/checking the DVD, I see it will be as great on second viewing. If you’re looking for the coolest, weirdest movie to blow THOSE friends away - you know, the ones that think they know everything cool before you do - this is the movie with which to knock them out. They will be humbled and see you as the finder of odd, cool movies.
Imagine you’re the one who discovered Eraserhead and was the first to show it to your friends.

Trust me on it.


Saturday, October 15, 2005

Hunting at Night

Over the last several years, I’ve gotten bunches of email regarding my movies -- fan mail, hate mail, questions, psychos, even a stalker who is now doing jail time, for real.
For every ten fan mails or good reviews, one bad one can really kill you. You develop a thick skin after a while, and the more mass there is to the overall review pool, the less each one matters.

Something I really tend never to do is respond to hate mail, just delete it.

However - Today I got the coolest hate mail yet. So cool, in fact – that here’s the link to the guys who sent it.
Check out “The Enemies” theme. Pretty good tune. Bit of a “Ramones” knock off, but hey, better than a lot of stuff I hear today.

It’s not everyday that a punk band writes a song about how much you suck and how much they hate you. It’s even rarer when the hatred of you is cited as an actual influence for the band.


Lest someone else think that innovative hate mail is going to impress me… it won’t. It’s the uniqueness of this one that caused me stop, laugh, and acknowledge it.

My rewrite of Diamond Road continues. Like a bad taco, the plot holes are slowly being squeezed through the second act. I’m hoping for them to vanish before act three or this is going to be a painful month. I also hope that it ends with the story feeling better, rather than just leaving a stench to be fanned away.

No matter what, I am determined to make the mistakes on paper, work each and every bug out before I hit the road to production. It’s a slow, frustrating time. I re-remember now, why movies get pushed towards production. It’s easier to see progress then. You’re spending money, the wheels are in motion, people are producing.

Got an interesting Press Release forwarded to me from composer, Vincent Gillioz.

news: October 2005
Shore's 'King Kong' rejected:
Howard Shore's score for King Kong has been rejected and will be replaced by a score from James Newton Howard. The shocking news was confirmed by Universal Studios in a press release today.Peter Jackson, the film's director and producer, says in a statement: ""I have greatly enjoyed my collaborations with Howard Shore, whose musical themes made immeasurable contributions to 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy. During the last few weeks, Howard and I came to realize that we had differing creative aspirations for the score of King Kong. Rather than waste time arguing with a friend and trying to unify our points of view, we decided amicably to let another composer score the film. I'm looking forward to working with James Newton Howard, a composer whose work I've long admired, and I thank Howard Shore, whose talent is surpassed only by his graciousness."Howard Shore had already recorded large portions of his score in New Zealand. The new score by James Newton Howard will, reportedly, be recorded in Los Angeles and has to be written at a very fast pace. The film will open on 14 December.

That’s the kind of thing that sends shivers down any composer’s spine. It’s also yet another reminder that no movie is made without hitches worries and fears about how it’s going.

Here’s one final tidbit to put a different light on things – Howard Shore is no stranger to film scores that are rejected. He was hired at the last minute to replace Elmer Bernstein’s score for Gangs of New York.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


The Packet8 box arrived. Installation was as painless as hooking up a phone. Plug in the box and go. Nice. However, a strange thing happened with my DLINK Router - the wireless portion of it vanished. It required shutting down, waiting, rebooting, to get it to reappear. I hope this was just a hiccup because the last time this happened, the fix required exchanging the router. Don’t think it was coincidence; something about plugging into a packet8 box adapter messed with its head.

So far, the voip phone thing has been working - pretty well. There are the occasional strange digital hits. I upgraded the firmware, so we’ll see if that fixes it in any way. The most novel thing that I have noticed is that caller ID now works on the phone. It’s cool to see your handset suddenly tell you something new.

It’s been a good day of writing (re-re-re-writing) thus far. I’ve been playing with “the big board” again, which means that I’m breaking the story down into plot elements yet again.
For those of you who write or are planning to write, you probably know what “the big board” is. If not, try it – it’s a super tool, and better than anything you can do in front of a computer.

Snippets of paper on a cork board. Some people recommend 3x5 cards. Personally, I think they’re too big for what I do. I cut tiny pieces out of scrap paper. Anyway, time after time, I have found it to be a more effective way of organizing stories than any software solution.

So why am I blogging about 3x5 cards on a supposedly good day of “real” writing?

Because I’m procrastinating!

Today (because of The Big Board), I’m writing inside. I’ve been out on the patio for the past week. Lately though, the birds in the trees have given me pause. In a way, the fears being presented on the news are a bit more insidious than anything presented in that ole Hitchcock film, aren’t they? A Bird Flu case here, one there… all the special reports on CNN describing what could happen. No question, it is scary. Somehow though, with all the orange alerts, and all the “threats” we’ve been warned about over the past several years, I’m getting a bit suspicious.
What exactly is in it for the government if we’re all afraid of birds?

Hopefully, this will vanish like so much SARS.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


We’re giving it a try. Enough of my friends are using it, and enough annoyance with the phone company has transpired.

After a bit of research and talking to users, I decided to go with Hopefully my experience will be a good one. Common among reviews (online and from friends) is that their support stinks, but the service is good. Well, that’s okay, I guess. I’m usually a DIY kinda guy, so calling support tends to be a last ditch effort, usually ending with stumping the Indian on the other side, and getting an RMA number issued. I’d rather the product be good then the support. A ‘Maytag” man philosophy, one might say. I ordered it last Wednesday and finally today (Monday) got an email confirming the product and info had shipped. FedEx – two days… One week to get it from Santa Jose, Ca. – about five hours from here. Maybe not the greatest start, but eh… we’ll see. For the moment, we’re using a temporary phone number. If we like it, we’ll ‘LNP’ our land line phone number. That’s “Line Number Portability” for those of you who haven’t had to go through the hell of switching cell phone providers while keeping your phone number.

I’ll report on the status of my VOIP experience.

Talked to a friend at length in Argentina via Skype. That system works pretty darn well – especially, considering the price of the call. HEHE. Since I’m talking into my computer though, I am more accepting of the occasional garble. We’re so used to perfect land lines, that VOIP has a bit of an uphill battle.

We live in interesting times. As I’ve pondered before – the technology is wonderful, allowing us to do things never before possible. It’s also becoming fascinating to see how some companies are making fortunes while others are finding it tougher to continue to make fortunes. Change happens. Nothing you can do about it. Dinosaurs grumble, but will go extinct if they don’t evolve.
The record industry, the telephone industry – change is happening, whether you like it or not.

Next up – the motion picture industry.

In 2000, I had a conversation with Michael Shamberg of Jersey Films – brief, but I pitched him an idea. Let the public see a version – a complete version of a movie before it’s made. For free – give it away on the net. Build hype early. There was a lot more to it, but that was the essence of it. My argument was if you saw a comic book version (or animatic) of a cool movie, you’d want to see the movie when it came out. Conversely, if you saw a comic book of a crappy movie, you wouldn’t waste money to see the real thing. It could allow movies to “test screen” before being made, to evolve in a bigger way. It could lead to much higher quality movies actually being made, and a higher percentage of profitable movies. One could gather so much information, business and artistic, that it’d redefine movie making.

He thought it was a bold, but risky. At least that’s what he told me – he might have thought the idea was the dumbest thing he’d ever heard. He went on to say that he didn’t think it would go far.  I paraphrase, “The movie industry is a mature and extremely slow moving industry”. That was the end of it – and end of my hopes of having a professional relationship with an extremely cool company and person.  At that point in time, he was, most likely, right.  Now, five years later, Peter Jackson has done a very similar thing with his web site for King Kong. Of course it will work now. The movie will do gangbusters – A. because the story is a classic, and being done by a great filmmaker, and B. because the hype is going to be incredible.

The studios don’t know what to do. They fear marketing differently. They fear releasing movies differently. Heck, they still don’t want to do things digitally. Now Mark Cuban is quickly becoming their biggest pain in the ass.

He’ll be a bit harder to ignore than me.

I have maintained now for five years, that there’s gotta be a way how to give movies away for free, legally and still make a ton of money.

Think about it for a while.

Thursday, October 06, 2005


High Speed Internet is fully operational.
And there was much rejoicing.

I know how reliant I am upon the Internet. It is disconcerting how reliant upon high speed Internet I am. It’s a part of my computer, my computer is a part of my life, hence –

Maybe you’ve already heard of this. I had, but never played with it until a friend called me to tell me about it.

Well, if you’re prepared to have your mind blown, and if you’re ready to lose a few hours of your life, and if you have broadband…
You’ve been warned…

Download this toy from Google.

(Sorry MAC users. It’s not available for you yet.)

See you in a couple hours.

We live in the future. That’s all I can say. I love technology, I just love it. I wish we as humans, could advance ¼ as much as the technology we are creating.

So ends this quick and useless entry.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


Talked to Lance. He alerted me of a rumor. I googled, I checked. I confirmed.

Robert Altman’s newest movie, “The Prairie Home Companion”, has been tentatively re-titled. What’s the new title, you ask?

Take a guess.

“The Last Broadcast.”

Really. No kidding.

So, journey with me to a potential future typical conversation at a potential future typical party.

“So what do you do”.
“I’m a writer-director.”
“Oh, what have you made?”
“Well, my first movie was “The Game”.
“Really? You know Michael Douglas”?”
“It wasn’t that “The Game” it was another – made a couple years before”.
“Oh. What else?”
“I co-directed a movie called “The Last Broadcast”.
“Really? So you know Woody Harrelson and Garrison Keillor?”
“No, not that “The Last Broadcast”. Mine was about these people who go into the woods with video cameras and die and then a year later the footage is found and a documentary is made…”
“That sounds like –“
“Yes, I know. Mine was made a year before… say, I’m going to go get another drink”.

A few years ago a British band called “The Doves” put out an album called “The Last Broadcast”. That same year, Sheryl Crow put out an album with a song on it called “Diamond Road”. I registered that screenplay way back in 1994.

So, what does it all mean? Eh, probably not much. Just that I need to wrap the tin foil around my head a bit tighter.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Start up

Start up.

Today, I am sitting under the new Pergola and – writing!!
I am back to work, which feels like a relief in many ways. The weather has turned absolutely beautiful, and the area which I built is doing its job well – creating a bucolic environment within to write.

The problem may be that pleasant environments are not good ones in which to write. I think it may be a misconception – created by hopeful writers and composers.

Does great need a level of discomfort? Certainly invention does, and writing, painting, sculpture – all of it – are inventions.
It would be interesting to study the environments of great creators. I do know that Paul Simon stands in front of a large white wall, and throws a ball at it.

Maybe I need to build a big wall with which to bounce a ball from. Ha. Of course not because in the end, it’s the person doing the throwing, not the wall. I’m guessing that Paul Simon has come up with great lyrics while cleaning his garage.

I think that the Achilles heal of today’s creative world is the accoutrements  – the best synths, the best computers. More time is spent collecting software and hardware than actually using it. I know supposed filmmakers who spend so much time talking about what camera they’re going to use, what formats are good and bad, that they have yet to make a movie!
I don’t think that journalists and novelists go as crazy, but I do know that many ‘wannabe’ screenwriters spend an inordinate amount of time discussing what software to use to write their opus. More often than not, they never get past page ten. Lawrence Kasdan writes with a pencil. Says something, doesn’t it?

I spent an awful lot of time buying this latest computer, and building my latest office – outside office and inside office. My house is clean and ready.

The moment of truth is now.

(picture of hands tentatively above keyboard)

BTW – I use Final Draft for screenwriting.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Still building

As the tempered glass for the DVD shelf was being made, I built a pergola.
Like the DVD shelf, I designed and built it first in a 3D world and then again in the real world.

This, not being fine furniture, was more a matter of brute force, than fine workmanship. It came together relatively painlessly, and will provide hours of enjoyment. We’re calling it the Mojito Hut though we have yet to put it to use for anything other than escaping from the merciless sun.

Though the air is pretty dead right now, we’re in the midst of Santa Ana winds. It’s brutal. I feel for my friends east of me – Pasadena and further. Here, at 5:20 PM, the temperature reads 95.9 F.
The office needs an air conditioner. Outside, the smell of smoke has grown stronger throughout the day – for the last couple days, forest fires have raged in Chatsworth, forty miles away – and now the smell of smoke as arrived. It’s creepy.

I put the tempered glass shelves into the DVD thing and can now call it complete. Sure, I’ll continue to work on improving the finish – sanding here, varnish there, but I really gotta do other things – like get back to work on movie related things, you know – my job. There are also still boxes that need unpacking and outside, the backyard and patio needs to be cleaned up – post pergola construction. Oh, and that needs to be treated for insects and weather.

As I write this entry, I am on hold, waiting for a representative to help me with my lack of DSL. The ‘on hold’ music is particularly awful; music that the word insipid describes perfectly. Who really listens to this stuff? Who is BUYING it? Someone has to be, for it continues to be produced. I wonder if I’ll ever see a collection of this stuff in one of my friends CD collections? It is also music I have never heard before. It’s like an alternate universe. Are there cocktail parties somewhere where this music is played in the background?

Or is it designed to create a certain percentage of ‘on hold’ attrition – people who just can’t take it anymore? To help tech support from being completely overwhelmed?

I’ve had a lot of response to the question of where the good music is. Thanks. Keep it coming.

As I was cutting 2x8’ boards I’ve was also thinking about the script. Good work -- multitasking is good. Just don’t lose a finger. Now, outside, the office window, I see that the hedges need cutting. It’s something I better do before I attempt to get back to real work, lest it distract me further down the line.

Oop – A representative is going to help me now, I hope.

Question of the day –

What kind of a tree is this?

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Pay to be frustrated

Minwax Polyshades suck!
Minwax polyshade crap!
Terrible experience with Minwax polyshade.

There, let google find that and dutifully archive, database and store it.

I’m hoping that I can save someone else from the disappointment and frustration that has been my weekend. See, after looking at a lot of DVD shelves, and not seeing what we were looking for, I decided to build one myself. I designed it in 3d, found out that tempered glass is not too expensive, and researched all kinds of wood, to find what would be the best method of building it. We wanted it to match what we have going on in our “home theater” part of the living room, so Cherry was the color we were looking for.
I decided to go with Poplar – cheap, hard, but easy to use. The thing built quickly – and looked just like my 3d design.  Finishing time, more research – but not enough. I decided to go with Minwax Polyshade Cherry – in order to get the stain and top coat done in one job. Big mistake. The stuff is impossible to work with if you have anything but a flat surface. It takes the worst properties of both varnish and stain and combines them. Basically, if you have an area that is uneven at all, you can’t rub it out like a stain and it WILL darken – like a stain. The stuff drips like varnish, but doesn’t dry like varnish. Basically, it’s like molasses. If you go over it more than twice, it becomes a sticky, mess.
How did this stuff leave the lab?

So, I’m writing this blog as I wait for the stripper to do its job. Meanwhile, an old fashioned can of stain awaits its destination.

There, let Google database that!

So, why is Stefan Avalos, filmmaker, writing about making bookshelves? Well, because I like to. Sometimes I think that the filmmaking process is a means to an end – I need to create, to build, and making movies allows me to do that on many levels. It’s a “jack of all trades” art form.

Lousy Minwax polyshade stain not withstanding, the house continues to come together. I have actually had a chance to start thinking about writing again. I couple new ideas have been floating around, but for now they’ll stay notes, as I work on getting Diamond Road to the next level.

If you found this blog to be boring, please realize, it’s a public service – for anyone who intends to use Minwax Polyshades and does a little research first, I will hopefully have saved them incredible frustration.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

A New Place

We’ve moved.
Off the hill, onto the next chapter in our life.

It is one of the reasons that I haven’t updated this blog in quite some time. I simply haven’t been in front of a computer. Me. Can you imagine?

The past several weeks have been spent in a world of boxes and questions about where to put things. As moves go, it was about as easy as one could hope for. That said, they always suck.

I also have no DSL at the moment, which is killing me. I was able to get the satellite up and running, rewire some telephone lines to the office, and get the theater set up. These things make me feel more in touch, however, with no internet, I am truly lost. I wonder what my email will be like when I finally get back on it?

The Crawl Space

This new house has a crawl space that goes under the entire house. I was pleased to find this because it meant that running cables and wires would be easier. Squatting at the entrance though, with my halogen light shining into the depths, I was reminded that I really don’t like spelunking, or caving – whichever word you like - and this was going to be pretty similar – approximately three feet of height to crawl around in, extremely powdery dirt floor, and the remains of thousands of spiders hanging above. After about ten minutes of staring at this, psyching myself up and trying to figure out the best way to find an audio cable I had dropped through the living room floor, somewhere down here - I started in. Even though the temperature was cool, it still got hot fast. As I crawled deeper into the space, the three foot height became two, and criss-crossing pipes caused me to have to figure a route out. I pulled myself along on my stomach at some points, hoping I wouldn’t have to back out. Without much problem though, I did find the wire I had run through the wood floor above me. The modern cable was easy to spot in this otherwise dusty world. Then, as I swung the light around to go back, something caught my eye. An area of the crawl space about twelve feet away seemed to be walled with old packing crate wood. I pulled myself toward it with the work-light and as I neared, saw the dirt ground drop off into what looked like an old cellar. With the bright work light casting harsh shadows, and my face being only two feet from the ground, I couldn’t see the floor of the old room, so I had no idea whether it was two feet or ten feet deep. Several old cast iron water pipes prevented me from getting any closer, but I figured that with a different route, I could get there. Having inhaled dirt for about twenty minutes, I was getting in desperate need of fresh air, so I turned toward the distant entrance. As I swung the light away, I caught a glimpse of one of the inner walls of the ancient cellar. Hanging from them were several art deco paintings - women, in ethereal settings, wearing little clothes.

I crawled back to the entrance and sunlight and was very happy to stand up and stretch my back.

Later, I told Marianne about the mysterious room I had discovered underground, and immediately she wanted to see it. Moments later, we left the sunny day, entering the crawl space entrance and the dusty underbelly of the house.

We edged toward the area and figured out a route that would not be blocked by pipes. The bottom of the cellar slowly became visible as I got closer with the light, and finally I was able to see that it was about five feet deep. I crawled over the edge and jumped down. Marianne followed. In the cellar, we were able to stand with no problem, and thus were able to examine it at leisure. It was not large, maybe ten feet across. An old wooden staircase led up to where the office now was. A light switch was mounted to a beam and the old wire led to a fixture hanging from the ceiling, complete with an old bulb. And the pictures -- It was now possible to look at them closely. When touching them, it was plain to see how old and fragile they were. The coolness of the ground had preserved them, but they were still ready to turn to dust.
Some had fallen from the wall to the floor, which we gingerly picked up. After studying the space for a while, the dusty air started to get to us. We climbed up the ledge and then began the crawl back, following the extension cable as our return path to fresh air and sunlight.

With us, came the pictures that had fallen to the floor. We left the rest below for someone in the future to discover. I think we’re going to frame them. It’ll make for fun conversation. In the meantime – here they are.

It is interesting. Even though this house is new on the surface – recently redone, it has already exhibited a more interesting past then the one in which we made a ghost story.

Sometime, I’ll tell you the story of the devil-dog statue I found when I was in high school.

Now, I must unpack some more boxes, or perhaps try to clear some more brush out of the backyard.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Something new

There was a time in all of our lives when each day taught us something new. Or many things.
I do still learn things. Generally though, they are refinements of things I already know. I realize that learning something, to even have the possibility of discovering something entirely new, as an adult, on a daily level is fairly unlikely, but - with all the information at our disposal - shouldn't it be possible?

I'm not desirous of learning quantum physics, just a tidbit of something that hasn't been in my daily view.

I bet there's a website somewhere devoted to divulging something (randomly and daily of course) that you didn't know. Now, I don't want useless knowledge. I have plenty of that; I can flip a Snapple top and get that - No, I think I want to learn something new everyday, which could be useful.

Along those lines, I'm going to also listen to one new song, or (if classical) 'piece', of music per day. The advantage to a 'song' is that it shouldn't take much longer than 3:50 -- unless it's some pretentious band doing something pretentious. I'm not sure which retro-year we're in right now, so it is entirely possible that ELP-like, or Pink Floyd-like, or some other band that does hourlong 'songs' could be hot (with a different name and members). But I don't think so. Is Air still putting out albums? They were Pink Floyd, weren't they? And everyone knows that Oasis is the Beatles. Who is Jet?

I've really been trying to stay in touch with current music, but damn it - so much of it is soooo boring. Really, it is. I find my listening habits going backwards in time. Further and Further.

So - if you know of any cool new music, let me know.

Going to look at two places tomorrow. Fingers still crossed.

Later, when we have a new place, I'll write about some of the house hunt experience. Till then though, I don't want to jinx the search with cynical storytelling.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

focusing on the target

The hunt narrows. We're still looking around in Silver Lake, and that Altadena thing I wrote about continues to hold possibilities. Lately, South Pasadena has become of interest to us. Ironically, well maybe not ironically, but something very... something -- is that one of the places we really liked was only three blocks from where our present (now past) landlord lives. The guy who sold this place.
How does the world, that is so big, always end up being so small?

We like about three places right now. Each has their rub. We're hoping to look at another place here in Silver Lake and we have another lookie see appointment tomorrow. Fingers crossed, it could be the one.

Of course, now that we're in the last throes of Edendale living, a stray cat has decided to adopt us. It desperately wants to get into the house. Won't let it of course cause I'm allergic and we don't want to get attached. Marianne did buy some cat food though, and we've been feeding it at night. Does that sound unattached?

There are a lot of cats in these hills, and they somehow seem to signal events. Don't know why but they do. When we moved in four and a half years ago, cats circled the place. I even busted one in the living room when we were moving stuff in. When I was editing the movie, a strange cadre of black cats used to sit in the patio area and just stare, and now - this one. There doesn't seem to be anything ominous or premonitory about it. It just is. I'll have to research that more.

For my birthday, I was given a styrofoam radio controlled airplane. It's one of the coolest presents and I can't wait to fly it. With a freebie simulator program that allows you to practice flight, I have a slightly better than zero chance of not losing the airplane in its maiden voyage. Looking at the directions, I'm reminded of something. I do not live in suburban America. The directive of finding a wide open area the size of a football field, with grass - away from telephone, power lines and trees, is not nearly as easily accomplished in Los Angeles and the surrounding area as it was in Bucks County, Pa. I suppose I could go into the desert, but chasing after the airplane might be accompanied by dodging of rattlesnakes, dry scrub brush, and who knows what else. Till then, virtual flying it is.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

This is not my beautiful house.

Imprinting. It happens to ducks. It happens to Humans.

We're deep in the process of looking for a new place. Every place we look at we gauge by how close it is to where we presently live, and how close it is to what we presently have.
It's not a good thing, but has been difficult to avoid.

We go into a place and look it over wondering, can we make memories here. Will it work? Will the office desk fit over there? Will this room be okay for our bedroom furniture?
Where's the yard? That's what they were talking about?

The fact is that we have found several nice places. The minus is that they have gotten a bit more pricey since we last looked. Thankfully, not as bad as purchase prices of homes.

I have discovered that Altadena is a major secret of the Los Angeles area. The prices really aren't bad, and besides the fact that it's hotter than hell, the homes are stunning... and it's a suburb - with trees and backyards, and lawns, and pools. If you can deal with being twenty or so minutes further east than Silver Lake/Burbank/Hollywood, it's not a bad place at all. Of Altadena, I will now officially coin the phrase - Topanga of the foothills. With the San Gabriel mountains looming behind, it makes for quite a stunning place.
If only it weren't so damn hot.

Our hope is to stay in this area - it being the Silver Lake area. I fear that it has become a bit too trendy, which translates into pricey - something old timers were bemoaning five years ago. The real artsy feel is being replaced by a certain corporate artsy feel. Kinda getting a westside vibe. It does still has plenty of coolness to it though and who knows what will happen if the economy reverts to sanity. Still, it's disconcerting to see all the BMW's and Mercedes being driven by lousy drivers.
Damn near like being in Beverly Hills.

Hey, I saw something in the news which really bothers me -- and I can start this with: Those FRICKIN republicans. What is up with doing nothing but evil these days???

Okay - The FCC decided that phone companies no longer have to share their Internet lines with rivals. This was done as a 4-0 ruling from the commission (which has an open seat)

The chairman is Kevin Martin; a proud Bushie.

What this means is that the large companies win - we're going to be at the mercy of the people who own the phone lines for our DSL. I have a great price and great service through a company called dslextreme. Basically, they'll be screwed and SBC will win. I see this as a sanctioned monopoly. Their argument is that this is the only way that cable can compete.
Uh, NO.
If there's only two bullies on the block, they'll eventually get together and bully everyone together.

I leave with this question...


If I have baffled you with this, learn more... Google -- FCC DSL

Monday, August 01, 2005

Still Beatin

Back in the 80's Huey Lewis had a song called "Heart of Rock N Roll". It was a song in which he was happy and relieved to find that Rock and Roll was alive in well in various cities across the U.S.

Last night I went to the Derby for a Rockabilly show. Like Huey, I was happy and relieved.

A roomful of the right people and the right frame of mind.

It was a three band night, all of them really good. The headliner was the Dave and Deke combo, a fairly well known country swing/light rockabilly band of ten or fifteen years ago. Fantastic! Perhaps one of the tightest acts I've ever seen. It gave a chance for the cats and the kitties to come out and dance - and boy did they ever. Think Swingers and you have the picture. Well, that is exactly the picture, isn't it?

It was a good evening to shake some of the cobwebs loose and put me in the right head for a scene I'm rewriting in "Diamond Road" (Which is a Rockabilly action adventure after all.)

Insert CD, Rip. Next.
Though I have hundreds of Mp3's, I'm finally ripping my CD collection. Windows Media Player finally got the process of music archiving, ripping, etc. right. Like many of Microsofts products - they gotta rip someone else off. Once they do, it takes a couple iterations to get it right. However, once it's right, it's better than pretty much anyone else.

Generally, I leave my computers spartan. It has been a requirement of high end video editing -- can't have any other crap slowing things down. Now, since I'm not immediately editing with my new lappie, I'm allowing myself some of the fun doodads that makes computers go round.

Insert Disc, Rip... oops, classical - beef the data rate to 320.

Pretty cool. There's quite a bit of music I haven't listened to in a long time, so it'll be a chance to broaden my listening base.

In a few moments I'm heading out to sail the high seas to Catalina island. Twenty six miles across the sea. About six hours.

Finally, here is something that I used to see more of on the East Coast, though not to this size. A sign of trouble for farmers and bible carriers when they swarm, the sounds they make remind me of the dogs days of summer.

Locust Chiming in.

Enjoy your summer day, doing whatever.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Disconcerted Hummingbird

The Hummingbird above me is disconcerted.

That's because I'm typing this from my deck, meaning - the new notebook computer is fully functional and personalized enough that work can continue, meaning - it was a long, but fun day of getting to know it, meaning - UPS delivered it without problem yesterday!

Shipping services are a pretty amazing thing. I only get more amazed when I track a package and see its progress across the country or even world.

So, I feel guilty that I'm decomissioning (more or less) the Sony. Damn Machines. Must not get attached.

I hear the distant rumblings of a bulldozer, pushing and dumping the pieces of Michael, Yoko, and Rob's now dead house. I guess those sounds will continue for a while, then the sounds of new construction, then the sounds of real estate agents, and finally, the sounds of people gasping as they realize they're mortgage payments will never stop.
Such is life in Los Angeles in July of 2005. For Sale signs are popping up everywhere. People trying to cash out as they realize that the market is or has peeked.

And now, the day stretches in front of me, full of promise. As the sun creeps towards my feet, my island of shadow vanishing, I must begin work. Soon enough, I'll be back in the dark office, but for the moment, I can enjoy the outdoors.

battery time remaining 3:05. Nice!

Saturday, July 23, 2005

This old house is going to meet the saints.

The eviction papers were served.

So, there it is...
60 days and we're somewhere else. Who knows where?

The day after the papers were put on our door, a bulldozer sat in front of what used to be Michael, Yoko and Rob's old house. I use first names only, and should elaborate.

If you've read any of this blog, maybe you remember the Thanksgiving dinners, the Fellini'esqe evenings in the backyard under the lemon tree, the gatherings of friends, the bottles of wine. No? A rich history of friends and neighbors, celebrating whatever needed celebrating frequently happened at that house.

Celebrations on the Hill

Michael and Yoko bought a house when the landlord told them he was going to raze the house and build something new. That was about a year ago, so the house sat vacant, dying. Amazing, really how a house dies when no one lives in it. They are more than lumber glass and nails, aren't they?

It was an old house that had a lot of life pass through it, beginning long before I or any of the current generation of Edendale were born.

It only took about forty minutes.

It was a perfect symbol of how we feel. The set is coming down, time to move on.

Incidentally, if you've seen Ghosts of Edendale, this house appears in it. Rachel runs past it, and we used the back of it for a scene between Julian and Rachel (where she is looking for Andrew, who has mysteriously vanished)

Some of the neighbors came out to watch and take pictures. I took pics and video. In hindsight, I wished I could have recorded it with proper mic placement and decent mics. The sounds the house made were big. Bigger than I thought. The shattering of glass and lumber combined was art unto itself.

So, there it is. The end of Edendale living is in sight. New beginnings for others.
May it be as good to them as it has been for me.

Anyone is L.A. - if you know of a two bedroom house - (not apartment) with privacy, trees, etc. for rent -- let me know.

I will announce the "Winner" of my death diarama question soon. Read the blog, give it some thought.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Getting a head in the business

It seems that a lot of my friends are making movies about the head - and no, not a one of these movies was one of 'those' movies - produced in the valley. haha.

First, Paul Tarantino's HeadHunter, then Lance Weiler's Head Trauma, and just this past week, I had a chance to go to a very secret screening of Brothers of the Head by Lou Pepe and Keith Fulton. I'm sworn to secrecy on it - the print was flown in from Britain - complete with security detail, and flown out the very next day. Okay - the security was an assistant named Abby, however, she was under threat of death to let the print out of her sight.

Suffice it to say, the movie will get into YOUR head. Bravo, Guys!

And you, fair reader will hear a lot about this movie soon enough.

Meanwhile, my head is hurting as I ponder the notes I've gotten for Diamond Road.
I'm in agreement with a lot of them, but finding it difficult to sort them into anything coherent for a re-write. UGGGH!. Maybe it's the heat. Maybe it's the sun. Maybe I'm just temporarily burned out on this script.

As I'm pondering the rewrite, I'm hitting the reload button on an order status page like a chimp trying to get peanuts: Yes, after a lot of late night searching, a lot of comparisons, a lot of reviews, user opinions, questions here on this blog, and some distant driving to the rare dealer in Soutern California, and after searching Pricegrabber for the best price, and reading reviews about said retailer, etc. etc.
- I went and ordered an Asus V6V notebook computer.
Never heard of them? Well, Asus (besides making great motherboards, etc.) are the company that makes Apple, Sony and a few other company's notebook computers. They have their own line of systems, and wow - these are the best looking notebooks on the market today. Performance is steller too.

This Sony Vaio has treated me fairly well, but it's getting funky. The (new) battery died (a victim of a bad battery board) and the hard drive makes a clicking sound every so often. It's not 'portable', since I need electricity, and the battery board replacement was for nought. If you've kept up with this blog, you'll have read about the upkeep of this computer.

I know I shouldn't get attached to machines, but as a writer, you do get attached to keyboards, computer screens, etc. Maybe even more so than the typical computer user. I'm going through the guilt pangs of replacing the system. Maybe VAIO knows - today the screen started flickering. Not a good sign. Not a good sign at all.

If any of you are tech junkies, you'll know the feeling of waiting for a really cool, new toy.
I've been hitting the reload button on the order page since its inception - Last Friday.
Let me hit that reload button again (seventh time today), to see if my order is updated in any way whatsoever...
Hey! An update!

The order has shipped from Canton Ohio - due here next Monday.

only 144 hours to go.

Friday, July 08, 2005

3 pages

Okay, to really open up for ya - - - to whet your appetite - here are the first three pages of the screenplay for the next project. I formatted this as close as possible to the actual script, but hey - it's a blog, it won't be perfect.


Diamond Road V2 2005

A gentle wind plays on the baby fresh leaves of an enormous green COTTON FIELD. A cloudless blue sky above completes the perfect dream of a day.

The quiet is broken as three bright yellow AIRPLANES (old AIR TRACTORS) SCREAM past overhead.
In unison, they release a yellow powder which drifts downward toward the field.


The cockpit of the first airplane VEERS into view - EDDIE DUNGRIN, 24 a slickback haired, James Dean with a sense of humor - flyboy at the stick.

The radio CRACKLES:
Betcha can’t.

Of course I can. I just don’t wanna.

Eddie wrestles with himself.

Dammit. Okay. Watch me.

- Piloted by SCOTTIE, 23, Eddie’s best friend. Burly with curly hair, he is slightly more responsible than Eddie. Only slightly, but it’s enough to see that trouble is on the way.

Bad idea, Eddie. Don’t do it.


It’s no big deal.

His face belies the words. Whatever it is, is a big deal.
Eddie concentrates as The GROUND races by. In the far distance, sticking from the field, a FLAG on a pole quickly approaches.

Fifty bucks.

Eddie concentrates. The bet is on.

Eddie’s airplane SCREAMS past, a yellow blur, flying low to the ground.

The flag approaches. Eddie dips lower.

WOOOMP, the propeller slices through the flag, turning it to instant confetti. The airplane buzzes past.


Yeah, baby! Fifty bucks.

A secondary WATERING POLE suddenly appears from nowhere. The landing gear slams into it, and with a SCREECHING rip, the left wheel TEARS off the bottom of the airplane!

Eddie pulls back on his flight stick, pulling the airplane to a higher altitude.

Uh, guys - what happened?

Geez, Eddie. I think you
tore up the landing gear.

Scottie pulls his airplane under Eddie’s and looks up through the glass canopy. Underneath the belly of Eddie’s airplane, the twisted landing gear vibrates in the wind.


It’s going to be a rough landing.
Your left side is gone. You’ll
have to land it on the right side.

His airplane arcs away from Eddie’s.

Damn it.

Scottie stands on the edge of the landing strip, next to his airplane. He watches as Eddie’s airplane drifts slowly toward the ground.

Eddie holds the stick tightly, guiding the airplane as best as possible to put the majority weight on the one remaining wheel.

The airplane descends timidly - in a near stall. The single wheel hits - bounces - hits again.

Dirt flies as the strut that held a missing wheel rips a ditch into the ground. The airplane travels forward on the remaining wheel.
The airplane hops off the ground and then back again.

Hopefully you can see the rest at the movies in a couple years. News | 450 sheep jump to their deaths in Turkey

At the risk of becoming one of those blogs that does nothing but regurgitate other news - I had to put this up. It's just too weird.
Some people mention lemmings... I was thinking more about someone trying to get to sleep counting sheep... In the cartoons, they always fly past, don't they?
Or, biblically weren't sheep always used in sacrifices? I guess you'd call this self sacrifice - hmm, how very paternal.

Or... had the sheep had enough from the shepards? News | 450 sheep jump to their deaths in Turkey: "450 sheep jump to their deaths in Turkey

July 8, 2005 | Istanbul, Turkey -- First one sheep jumped to its death. Then stunned Turkish shepherds, who had left the herd to graze while they had breakfast, watched as nearly 1,500 others followed, each leaping off the same cliff, Turkish media reported.

In the end, 450 dead animals lay on top of one another in a billowy white pile, the Aksam newspaper said. Those who jumped later were saved as the pile got higher and the fall more cushioned, Aksam reported.

'There's nothing we can do. They're all wasted,' Nevzat Bayhan, a member of one of 26 families whose sheep were grazing together in the herd, was quoted as saying by Aksam.

The estimated loss to families in the town of Gevas, located in Van province in eastern Turkey, tops $100,000, a significant amount of money in a country where average GDP per head is around $2,700."

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

view to a kill

Wired News: "Steel Curtain Rings Down
James Henry Smith was a zealous Pittsburgh Steelers fan in life, and even death could not keep him from his favorite spot: in a recliner, in front of a TV showing his beloved team in action. Smith, 55, of Pittsburgh, died of prostate cancer Thursday. Because his death wasn't unexpected, his family was able to plan for an unusual viewing Tuesday night. The Samuel E. Coston Funeral Home erected a small stage in a viewing room, and arranged furniture on it much as it was in Smith's home on game day Sundays. Smith's body was on the recliner, his feet crossed and a remote in his hand. He wore black and gold silk pajamas, slippers and a robe. A pack of cigarettes and a beer were at his side, while a high-definition TV played a continuous loop of Steelers highlights.
-- Associated Press"

So Basically, you got to view the lifestyle that probably killed him. Nice.

It's kinda like a death diarama. Leave a comment - come up with your own death diarama.

Winner gets a signed "The Last Broadcast" DVD.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Think you've seen it all ? - News - Man Pulled From Women's Outhouse Tank

If you haven't heard about this one yet, check it out. This is as close to the story as you can get - video clip included.

Hey Paul, you still think blogs are boring?

Saturday, June 25, 2005

lazy summer day

So, I finished the third draft of the new version of the rewrite of Diamond Road.

This one, I'm going to actually give to a couple friends to read - for notes.

I've spent the last couple days hanging out a bit with friends. A couple in from New York, showing them the town a bit. Actually, since they know the town, I'm showing them things people don't always see when the go to Los Angeles - the mountains, and such.

An evil neighbor of ours lent me a notebook computer - to see if I'd be interested in buying it - It was a great machine, but would represent only a slightly vertical climb from my current machine. However, this set off the great laptop wanderlust of '05. I've been online looking at what the latest greatest offerings are. Whatever I get next, it's gotta be light. This Vaio has been good, but it's so damn heavy. With the battery currently lasting a mere twenty minutes (and that's a new battery), this effectively is not really a portable computer.

Anyone have any ideas on systems they like?
I recently became aware of ASUS notebooks and am quite enamored with them. I think that's the direction I'm heading.

No news on the eviction front - I'm waiting for the axe to drop anyday now. Our landlord (now former, I guess) managed to do one last half-finished job. The main water line between the city and our house broke. It required going through a concrete walk in our backyard and some deconstruction of a little pump enclosure I made. Of course, it's now a huge rubble pile, and I imagine it will remain so till the end of our days here - however many they may be.

Ah well, it's amazing how placid I've become about the whole thing.

Watched Land of the Dead last night. Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed. Seemed more like a Road Warrior movie than a zombie movie. I guess if I'd gone in with that expectation, I'd be satisfied - it had a enough gore and all - but somehow it didn't have that sense of dread that all the others have managed to lay over you. I'm going to speak blasphemy here but - my favorite zombie movie at the moment is the remake of Dawn of the Dead. How about that?

Have a good weekend and enjoy the longest days of summer.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

I felt it

Okay - 1:55
Felt a rolling quake.
Small, very small...

With the last three days of seismic activity, it's getting a bit nervous.

Update -
This one was near Big Bear and measured 5.3
Not nothing, but still not a major quake. It's enough though to prompt testing the flashlight and looking at the water supply.

In looking around for what could need re-situating, things that could fall from shelves, etc. - the only thing I moved was a large glass bottle of Gin.

Priorities, Baby, Priorities.

Friday, June 10, 2005


In the endless search for distraction while writing (I've gotten too good at Minesweeper), I finally installed Firefox. (Yes, Steve - it took a while. You know who you are)
It offers some pretty cool stuff, but the load up is so damn slow.

I really like the extensions, and am writing this really pointless post because of the "blog" extension. Pretty cool.

Hey, anyone remember that movie with Clint Eastwood called Firefox?

Writing continues. A first draft finished, I'm going through the depressing moves of crossing out the crep. Not much left of the original. Screenplays are like the bionic man. Rebuild, faster, stronger, better than before -- unless the patient dies on the table.

More soon.

Hey, in regards to this blogging stuff -- if anyone here knows how to add links to the template without having to actually go into the template settings, let me know.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Happy Memorial Day

Hey, it's raining!

what the heck is that? Here in Sunny Southern California, that simply should not be possible. 2005 has been one wet year. Some friends moved here from Atlanta and I keep telling them - no rain, every day will be sunny. So far, I'm sounding pretty delusional.
I'm guessing there are going to be many a memorial day BBQ chef concerned with this. Here in SOCAL we don't know what to do when wet round things comes from sky. It'll be a top story on the news for sure, maybe even supplanting Michael Jackson.

House update:
The Final Walk through... a couple days ago, the soon to be 'new owners', their snake, I mean - agent, and the present 'owner' (my soon to be former landlord) and his agent, went through the house to do last checks. I heard the one woman comment to the other as they entered my office - "hey, this is a cute bathroom back here. I never saw this before."
wh-wh-what??? You just spent 700k on a place and you don't even know all the rooms? If I were spending that money, I'd be on my hands and knees looking at the moldings. I, as our neighbor commented, would be crawling through windows, over the roof, etc.
I actually feel sorry for them. They look so scared. I don't know if they have any real allies - certainly not their agent. He walks around like he's on egg shells or a mine field. Maybe they'll have the last laugh, but I do feel like they're lambs being led to the slaughter.

So our landlord could barely make eye contact with us, couldn't say anything, nothing.
I guess from here we're looking at 60-90 days and "It's ovah, Johnny"

Weather update - Rain just stopped. BBQ's are on again. Things can continue in SoCAL, though now the roads are probably going to be slick and full of car accidents.

As I wrote this, the house started making this weezing sound - right above me. Very creepy. I looked around and finally spotted a neighborhood cat in the eaves, avoiding the rain, but coughing up a hairball. The sound of the cat echoed in such a way as to make it appear to be coming from the ceiling.

Immortalized the moment with a digi-pic.

writing update:

After a strong first two days on the screenplay, cranking 51 pages out (yikes), I lost two days. Followed by a tepid (in comparison to the first days) 10 pages yesterday, it closes the week out with a daily average of (61 divided by 5) 12.2 pages per day. Hmm.. That means that I could have a first draft ready to be dissected in aproximately 7 more days. That'd be pretty cool.

Let's see how that goes.

By the way, I'm not claiming it's a great 61 pages, just 61 pages. I'm sure every word needs to be re-written at least three more times.

SOCAL resident/weather awareness update:
Marianne just came home from somewhere. We commented on the rain, and she said, "Yeah, I kept telling myself, wow this mist is really heavy today. Even as I was turning on the wipers, I couldn't understand that it was rain".
See - happens to even the most rain aware people, us folk from Pennsylvania.

Happy Memorial Day and I hope you enjoy YOUR time off, and even though their leader (and ours) is an absolute idiot, give some thought to the troops in Iraq.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The writing begins

Well, the official beginning of script re-re-rewriting has begun. After spending a good two months on the outline, I feel that I may have the skeleton upon which to build - er re re re rebuild Diamond Road (as it is currently entitled).
I'm guessing that it's such a radical redux that I will rename the script as well.
The Adventures of Eddie Dungrin. Hmmm... sounds like Richard Dreyfuss would be the lead in that. No. Don't think so.
I'll have to give it thought. Kind of a shame cause the last scene of the movie now is of eight diamonds laying on a long desert road as a pickup truck drives away.
Diamond Road, get it?

I hear that the house closing is coming this week. We're trying to enjoy ourselves as much as possible though we take turns waking up with stress nightmares, or whatever. I feel like someone nearing an execution.

I started looking at rentals today. Good news is that in spite of the real estate purchase INSANITY that continues to abound, rents haven't gone up much.

The whole real estate crash/bubble thing is starting to make the main news, so I really have the feeling that we're going to start seeing the cracks in the financial walls getting larger pretty soon. Check this Blog out if you're getting the urge to buy.

Marianne and I went to a drive-in this past weekend! Yeah! This used to be a favorite past time of ours in Pennsylvania as there actually was a drive-in near where we lived. Alas it is now a Target center. That, let me tell you, is Bucks County, PA's loss, not gain.

This past Saturday night, the breeze coming in through the open window really gave me the Drive-in urge. Feeling a bit melancholy, I set about looking for something that might still exist. After going through depressing lists of drive-ins that were no more, goggle actually found that one still exists in L.A. County. Better yet,it wasn't too far from us - located in the City of Industry.
Slight digression: When I heard that was an actual place one could live, I had visions, (in Black and White of course) of people marching to and from work, Trader Joes, etc. ala the Fritz Lang's 'Metropolis'.
In fact it is pretty much a train yard, freight, automotive repair type of place.

They have a DRIVE IN!

We got there with time to spare except for one snafu. We had to cross a set of said train tracks and a freight train happened to be rolling past. A freight train that was about two miles long.
Twenty odd minutes later, we finally were on our way again. We went to see "Kingdom of Heaven" (eh) while the rest of the crowd was evidently there for "Revenge of the Sith". I pondered seeing that as the first time I saw Star Wars was at a Drive in during a birthday party. I was nine. Anyway, we watched Ridley Scott redo Gladiator. When the crowds settle down, I'll spend my bucks on a digital presentation of Lucas's last (hopefully) star wars movie.

Back to the drive in. Many nine year old will have the same fond memories of Sith that I have of Star Wars. A beautiful summer night in California with jedi battling it out. Before our movie started, I walked to the concession area centrally located to get Popcorn. 'Sith' was just beginning and I have to admit, the kid in me got a thrill out of hearing the Star Wars theme reverberate from about eight hundred car stereos. You could even hear it coming from the cars on the road still pouring in. Nowadays, with the squawk boxes replaced by FM transmission, you get to hear movies much better, and from much further away than the old days.

I think I see a tradition beginning. Lawn chairs, some boom boxes, friends and a double feature on a summer night for seven bucks per person. Life doesn't get much better than that, does it?

Oh, guess what our second feature was?

xXx State of the Union. Okay, our buddy Johnny is the evil henchman, but I never thought I'd watch that again on the big screen. We sat through it though and goofed on it. I don't think Johnny would mind. Dammit, we paid for it, we're going to goof on it.
Good for the heart. If you're feeling down, go to a drive in with someone fun. Make noise, laugh. It may not be the best way to see a movie, but it's one of the best ways to experience one. Trust me. You'll feel better.

Friday, May 06, 2005

May Day

So, lots happening here. As I wrote, the agents were here... then the open houses.

We left a few minutes before the first one, but already there were people waiting. I swear, if you beat the Addams Family with an ugly stick, what was waiting outside is what they would look like.

The second open house, which was a Sunday, we left good and early and came back good and late. The house looked untouched, and there wasn't really any evidence of anyone having been here. I was thankful for that, and it made me wonder how many, if any people had showed up. Later, a neighbor dropped by to give us some stuff, so we asked her if people had shown up.

They had valet parking. I can't believe it. Valet parking for an open house!

Three days later, the agent called me up to tell me they had an accepted offer. I asked him what the price was, and he told me that while he couldn't tell me the price until it was recorded, it did go above asking.

I'm figuring in the $700,000.00 range.

He then was wondering about a time for a home inspection.

So, the home inspection was a couple days ago, and I got to see who the Einstein's that are the buyers were.

Da Da Da Dum (finger) snap snap

It isn't quite the whole Addams family, actually it's a couple (two women (I think)) who look Goth (though they had a DANZIG bumper sticker on their car which I don't think of as quite goth)

According to their agent, they just started a record label. It hasn't made any money so basically ----
They're unemployed!!

Now, I understand theres some money coming in from somewhere else, still -- remember that cipherin class in a previous post?

These are the people that are getting to the party right before it's over. I kinda feel bad for them, except I feel worse for myself losing my place.

So, it's becoming a reality. We're going to have to hunker down in the desert and wait for the real estate armegeddon to pass before doing anything.

If you want to read about the real estate bubble, there's no shortage of stuff - just google it.

However, I just saw something today which I think may bode much more serious.

If you don't know what Fannie Mae exactly does, here's a quickie. If you do know, jump to the link.

A person wants to get a loan to buy a house. They go to a mortgage lender. The mortgage lender lends the money. Then they sell the Loan to Fannie Mae for an origination fee (a combination government/private company)
This, by the way, is how interest only, etc. -- the whole crazy real estate thing - has been working -- it's largely government/bond subsidized.

If Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac were to go under/close shop, the real estate market would be dead and buried in twenty four hours.

Now - the link...

Here's a link.

Whatcha think? Could this be serious?

What else?

We had a great time a week ago for opening night of xXx State of the Union.
Pretty bad movie, but our neighbor Johnny!!! rocked!
He got to kick Sam Jackson's ass as well as Ice Cube - ending up getting killed of course. Juicy part, Opening credit billing. Can't ask for more than that.

We had drinks at the Lucky Strike Lanes in Hollywood before checking the movie out at the Chinese Theater. Ultimate Hollywood for an ultimate Hollywood movie.

Diamond Road is getting the serious re-working. For those of you who don't know, or want to know what's next - that's it. I'm doing an action adventure next. Old School. None of this Michael Bay crap that's been infecting action so much. Speaking of, if you want to see a fun, old school adveture, check out Sahara. Not bad.

So, there you have it in brief on this May 6th, 2005
Oh - which means that tonight is the big screen premiere of HEADHUNTER, a movie I was heavily involved with for the last year. Hell, I'm a co-producer.
If you live in Los Angeles, and you read this before midnight tonight... check it out. Santa Monica Laemmle 4 at midnight.

For those I don't see there, see you in the digital ethers.

Monday, April 04, 2005

There goes the neighborhood

So, as I bemoaned earlier, I might have to move...

Well, the wheels are in motion. Today, I got a call from the landlord's real estate agent talking about open houses, etc.

DAMN! People traipsing through MY HOUSE, looking at MY STUFF.
Okay, it's not my house, I rent, but still - it's my home, dammit.

So, I'm now thinking long and hard about the next step. I want to buy a place. Plain and simple. Problem is, that things are out of control here in sunny California. Lately, I've been thinking that the only real way to do it is to buy some land and build.

Of course, finding land in SOCAL ain't so easy either. I looked at some lots in the 100k and under range. Put it this way - you'd need rappelling gear to get to your house.

So maybe I'll wait. I'll be patient. I must remember the stock market of 2000. That hurt, and there's no way that Los Angeles real estate is any different. According to any sensible estimate, the average person is buying into something that's three times more than they can afford. (math will follow shortly)

I guess the other thing I'm thinking about is that when everybody thinks something is hot - that's when it's not gonna be for long.

When everybody is jumping on a bandwagon and speaking with 'knowledge' about "interest only loans" and "ARMS" and "low or no money down" something, has to be seriously screwy. I remember it got that way right before the Nasdaq went south.

Also, I'm getting five emails a day trying to lend me money for a home.

Come on, they're spamming us to buy a house even more than spamming for penny stocks, hard-on pills or Ethiopian money in our bank account!


So, maybe you're wondering, what is the landlord going to ask for our sweet little home in Silver Lake?
Don't get me wrong... I love my place but it is what it is...

A total of 1768 square feet, and honestly - a teardown (crappy plumbing, leaky ceilings and walls when it rains - which were bad this year, and trust me, when walls leak, that ain't good - termites, busted foundation...

As the landlord's wife once said to me - when 'fixing' the back sidewalk after it had been jack hammered by replacing the former concrete with sand, "I think the house has reached the end of it's economic usefulness"

A real "home sweet home" statement, eh?


Here's a quick cipher'n class for mine and your amusement in case that didn't knock you out...

Figuring 20% down (if you're one of the few remaining sane buyers) of $135,000.00 - that leaves a rough monthly nut of $4700.00 mortgage, taxes and interest!

That's $53,436.00 per year. (for 30 years)

Your mortgage is supposed to be no more than 30 percent of your income so - it means that to buy MY soon to be former home, you're gonna need to make about - $178,000.00 dollars annually.

Hope whoever buys it gets to enjoy MY old home.

On the bright side, it does have great views, is in a quiet, private neighborhood and the fireplace and hot tub have a fun, funky seventies feel to them.

And it is famous after all, having been in a supernatural thriller once.

Come back soon and share more of my pain. Pictures too, I promise.

Is this what blogging is about or what? Let me know.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

stick in the head

I went skiing for the first time in four or five years. Thankfully, it's like riding a bicycle. I don't mean the sitting on your ass part, though there is also that similarity. No, unlike languages and software, both of which one does forget when not used frequently, skiing you don't forget. You will be in pain, you will be rusty, but the essentials are still with you. I think muscles have a better memory than the conscious brain.

Before hitting the slopes, my left ski boot came apart - and I mean cracked and split. Exploded.

So, that sent me to the rental area, a place I haven't been in about twenty years. I went with the hope of only renting boots. They took one look at my skis though and offered to cut them up and put them on the ceiling. Wow... more memories. I remember when I bought these things. How new and shiny they were, etc. Time does fly, doesn't it? It was sort of disconcerting to think that my skis were older than some of the people on the slope. Where has the time gone? It was my first time on parabolic skis, so that was a new experience. Forced me to be a lot more cautious, which is good - seeing as it was a newer, steeper mountain, first time in four years, etc.
My ski pants also re-alerted me to the fact that I gotta lose some weight.

I watched Gallipoli yesterday. First time in many years. That memory held up well. Great movie, really very under appreciated. BUT... there are several music cues that are real cringers. Most notable and embarrassing are two synth cues which come out of nowhere. Here's a movie that sets up 1915 in a perfect way. It uses almost no cue music, no really lengthy dialouge scenes... and then - the synths circa 1980. Were they cool then? The way these cues abruptly start and end also makes me wonder about the reasoning. I'm sure someone went over Peter Weir's head on that. He's too good a director to have those lapses in sanity.

So, off to imdb to see that the offender was... Brian May??? Wait, the guitarist for Queen did that? I thought he had good taste, and would know how to stay in a proper historic musical style.
Oh, no. It's a different Brian May, as this one - the Gallipoli one died a few years ago, and I believe the only dead, um, Queen, is Freddy Mercury.

Oh, andthis Gallipoli Brian wasn't the offending party.
It's not Bizet, not Albinoni. Those are easy to eliminate. That leaves... ah yes, it all comes back to me now... that leaves Jean-Michel Jarre with his "Oxygene" theme. I also know this to be the one because, long ago, 1982 in fact, I had a music demo that would show off how amazing my commodore 64 was for making music. This "Oxygene" rubbish was one of the tunes it played, along with "Tubular Bells" and O.M.D. Ah, the memories.

In order to fully realize the embarassment, I tracked down the actual midi file of this cue.

Join me now as I set up the scene:

Imagine young Mel Gibson runnig for his life and the lives of his 'mates' in the desert of Egypt - the pyramids, the dust, the camels. The machine guns of the Turks roaring, mercilessly mowing down young men as the come out of the trenches. It's 1915. The Australians are going to war, and you have the sense that Mel and his friends are doomed - an All Quiet on the Western Front feel. Did I mention it's 1915? If you're still having trouble visualizing all this, think Lawrence of Arabia or even Raiders of the Lost Ark to a certain extent. This should give you a fairly proper mental picture of the dust, the grime, the clothing, the era.
Got it? Okay - now play this midi file starting at 53 seconds and keep in mind - what you're going to hear through your computer is EXACTLY what it sounded like in the movie. The cheaper your soundcard, the closer to accurate the actual sound.

How did that work for you? :)

Kinda wished they hadn't used the Albinoni cue repeatedly either.

Okay, the rest of the movie is great.

Another movie that I finally, after ten years, had a chance to see was Grosse Point Blank. Well, for the twenty people who may not have seen that yet, see it. It's a great movie. Fantastic. Everybody in the movie is spot on, and at their best. It appears that they all must have known they were doing something great and having a great time doing it.
More memories for me too... the premise involves going to a class of '86 high school reunion. Since I was class of '86, the music and the way Jeremy Piven dances absolutely struck home.
Ah, the good old days.

Unlike Gallipoli, Grosse Point Blank had a great score that fit perfectly.
Also, the movie is about violent people, but it's not a violent movie. That having been said, there's a hand to hand fight and a shoot-out that are quite spectacular, worthy of any good action flick.

So, bouncing through, using memory as the vague commonality, I finish.

Oh, I almost forgot. I promised I'd tell. I got released from Jury Duty on Tuesday. That's what enabled me to keep my ski day. The trial was a murder trial. I believe they had no evidence, but plenty of witnesses. Everyone involved was going to need to speak through an interpretor and the prosecutor, defender and judge were spending the majority of time creating a jury that wouldn't care about that or other things.
The fact that they all guarranteed that the trial would be done by Monday seemed to me to indicate that it was a cut and dried case. I'm guessing in a very particular way.
I guess it's good that they eventually booted me, eh?

Well, it's a beautiful day out, and I've got some cleaning up to do. Enjoy your day, and hope to hear from you.