Monday, January 29, 2007

it's biGGER

Just got done with the newest draft of the 'untitled action adventure romance' story.
As per everyone's suggestions, it's bigger, bolder, more romance, etc.

I'm at that point where I feel a bit shell shocked. It's typical of that "Fade out" point in writing. Do you celebrate? Do you keep quiet? Do you go back to page one and start again? When it's version coughchoke.6, you just take a deep breath, stretch and smile a little (not too much).

I'm going to read through it, try to knock a couple pages off, and then ship it off to the illustrious "group". If it gets the thumbs up from them, it gets a last brushup/rewrite and then -- next stage. It goes out. Out to the world out there... producers, agents of various sorts, who have been patiently waiting.

Additionally, the lowres-storyboard-vis-version of it can begin. More on that as it happens.

Thumbs down from the "group", and it's back to Go. Do not collect two hundred dollars, don't dream of Boardwalk.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Tag ID

So, a quick 'case closed' to the Tagged wall.
Ask and ye shall receive - I learned what the wall's tags were.
Here is an image of the breakdown, properly ID'd.

Thanks to the people at

Frogtown is evidently an area about two miles from here by the Los Angeles River. Though I had never heard of it, I guess there's enough pride about it to have a Gang.
As one person online wrote - the name "Frog Town Boys" would be amusing if they weren't such a damn nuisance. Their graffiti seems to be an annoyance throughout the entire area.

PS - the wall is still nice and shiny white.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Tagging Things

Just a couple days ago, I added category ‘tags’ to most of the blog entries I’ve made over the past couple years. A quick bit of advice: if you intend to start a blog of your own, start labeling (tagging) your entries from the outset. Doing it a couple years after the fact is a bit of a drag, if you keep any kind of writing habit going. Anyway, my tangent righted, the point of that was to mention the tags. I grandly called one of the categories “My Los Angeles Life in General”. Not surprisingly, it’s a catch-all for things that happen in my daily life that are fairly specific to – living in Los Angeles. Tada!

Today’s entry will be such.

Across the street from the front gate to my house is a retaining wall. Made of bricks, it’s not the prettiest thing, It’s functional – it holds someone’s property off the sidewalk. This morning, as I was grinding my coffee, I looked out the kitchen window to see, a distance down the street, several of the neighborhood’s more colorful characters, pointing and angrily talking amongst each other. I looked to where they were pointing, through my front gate to the wall across the street, and saw the reason for all the gesticulating…

It’s Graffiti.

Well, yes—but Graffiti is a catch-all word for “scribed vandalism”. More specifically, that is Gang tagging, a fairly well developed form of communication among the underbelly of any urban area. It’s obviously vandalism as well as a visual blight. Additionally, there are many other meanings underlying these tags, which would be understood by gang members, rival gangs or someone involved in the street gang world. Exactly what gang did this and why? There could be many reasons. After I took a couple pictures, I nodded acknowledgement to the guys down the street – middle aged Latinos, each with their own faded gang-type tattoos, revealing a past, and walked toward them. We all agreed that “this was bullshit” and one said his brother had gone to get some paint and a brush. I offered, as a form of neighborhood solidarity, to help paint the wall. Twenty minutes later, when the paint and brush arrived, an interesting ritual transpired. Though there was only one brush, everyone took a turn with it. It was a symbolic way of saying, “Look, we all live in the same neighborhood and, though we might all have different reasons, the bottom line is the same – we don’t want graffiti on the wall.

After my symbolic brushing, I did some googling to see what I could find out about the gang tagging.

Here is my deciphering thus far. If anyone has any ideas, please leave a comment. I don’t know that any of what I’ve ‘determined’ is right. I may be completely off base.

So, there you have it; My Los Angeles Life in General. Though gentrification has pushed out much of the old element (meaning poor – meaning higher crime, unfortunately), all it takes is one spray can to remind you of what the ‘hood’ was like, not too many years ago. One slightly amusing anecdote I read; in this area of the city (Silver Lake, Echo Park), because the revitalization/gentrification (whatever you want to call it) has pushed out most of the gangs, much of the graffiti is done by what the police are calling “commuter taggers”. They have to drive to the old hoods to leave their marks, even though they no longer live there. The police are commenting on how this is a new thing. Ghosts, still unwilling to let go. Sad, isn’t it?

Another note: I want to commend the efficiency of the city. The official city painters arrived within a couple hours, and sprayed the entire wall with a fresh coat of paint. By noon, there was no sign that wall had ever been touched. They say that immediate removal is the best way to prevent reoccurrence.

We shall see.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

It’s always something

This evening, as we’re relaxing, the cat started acting funny – sniffing around the floor, trying to locate a smell. I heard a ‘bonnng’ sound, like a pipe being hit, but didn’t think too much about it. A little while later, Marianne started thinking she smelled something burning. I smelled something but wasn’t sure I could place the odor. Yet. I started walking around, checking all culprits that could make burning smells – oven, heaters, computers, and finally, putting my nose down to floor level at a power strip, smelled the odor; not something burning, rather, the faint whiff of skunk... but getting stronger. I took a flashlight and started walking the perimeter of the house to see if there was a way a skunk could have gotten in and under the house. Almost immediately I found it. Mesh at a vent had been pushed in quite dramatically. This was a pro.

Great. A vent at a place where I couldn’t get to from the inside -- much further than the mysterious room I found under the house when we first moved in. Marianne, in no mood to talk about it, got snappy, as is her wont when something doesn’t appeal to her, and vanished. To bed, I surmise. Feminist diatribes aside, there are certain things that are the guy’s job, and 'skunk in the crawl space' would seem to fit that bill handily. So, I did a quick google to see if there was some neat remedy. Not wanting to spray fox urine everywhere, as suggested in one "Skunk Away" website, I realized I would have to roll up the old sleeves and get to work. Being reminded at another site that, not only are they the most rabid animals in California, but also nocturnal, I decided that there was no time like the present, the present being night.

I grabbed a flashlight and set about trying to get the mesh reattached to the vent from the outside of the house. Not an easy feat, as it was pushed in and there were only abut four inches of area with which to work. Using some number 12 gauge wire, which has become my all purpose bailing wire, I was eventually able to tie the mesh against the vent.

It won’t win prizes, but it will keep the skunks out.

Or in...

I’ve been re-writing and started playing with some software called Endorphin. I’m planning on using it for some animations which will be part of some animatic-storyboards I’m starting to build as part of the package for the Diamond Road Pitch. Pretty cool stuff, and if moviemaking and CG are of any interest to you, I suggest checking out their demo.

I still haven’t gotten around to writing any kind of review for the enemies of Stefon Avalos CD, but that should be coming soon. This cough still gets nasty towards the end of the day, which remains my excuse as to why my blogging remains iffy. I just don't have the urge. However, every day is a day better. If you get hit with this bug, be prepared for a one month ordeal. My recommendation is to get a vaporizer and use it every night. Among all the cold and flu remedies, that has been the biggest single help.

Did I just hear something rattling below my feet?

I have to go now.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The season finally begins

Have I written lately that I love my new chair?

I do, I really love it. I’m actually caressing parts of it. I know – that’s weird. I’m in a honeymoon period with - a chair. Let me continue for a sentence or two longer. When I stand up after a long day (like today), it doesn’t feel like I’m standing up after sitting at all. My body doesn’t require readjusting… I’m simply, standing now. This chair is awesome.

Okay, enough.

New season of ROME and EXTRAS began last night. It’s not television, it’s HBO. Pretty amazing stuff. Rome is one of those shows that will be appreciated more with time. Pretty much every choice they’ve made, I’ve approved. The last season ended with a gored and bloody Caesar gasping like a fish out of water staring at Brutus - as Brutus struggled with his conscience to stab him. When he finally does, Caesar gives him a look that says those words. But he doesn’t say them. He twitches and dies slowly on the senate floor in a pool of gore. It’s devastating. It’s Brilliant. This season opener had the funeral of Caesar. Rather than see the speeches that Brutus and Marc Antony make, we hear the plebs talk about them after the fact. Brilliant! Frame after frame of this show is artwork. Visually, almost any single shot could be frozen, blown up, and framed as a work of art. It’s some of the most beautiful cinematography I’ve seen.

EXTRAS is amazing on a different level. Ricky Gervais has made the comedy of humiliation an artform. The Office (the British version in particular) was amazing, but I can really relate to Extras much more closely. Of course it’s because I’m in the business upon which he’s commenting, and because, like The Office, it’s spot-on accurate. I will say that there are a few jokes that are strictly British. I smiled at one, a none-too-subtle jab at a comedian, though I didn’t specifically know who the comedian was. Had I known, I’m sure that smile would have been a laugh.

Moving on - Though a cough and frequent blowing of the nose remain, I’m finally well enough that I’m back to writing in a big way. This feels like the first day of the New Year. Everything till now has been a haze of feeling-crappy. Happy New Year everyone!

Today was a good day, and as day turns into evening, will hopefully continue to be. I hit a slight slow point – not lack of direction – just a slight dragging of interest, hence this quick entry.

The third act is undergoing another metamorphosis, the ruling having been made at a writer’s meeting about a month ago to ‘make it bigger’. Presently, it’s wordy, easily weighing ten pages too much, but it’s headed in the right direction. It’s certainly going to be ‘bigger’. The movie at this point is getting studio-picture size. I keep getting told not to worry about it, but the no-budget indie filmmaker in me is writing with a slightly dubious expression on his face. I’ve always written things in the past with the idea of having to find the money for them at some point. I have a pretty good idea of what’s easy to pull off, and what’s not. Blowing things up, for instance, is surprisingly inexpensive. A barroom brawl - not so inexpensive. Even now, as I’m re-writing this last act, I think, “well, if I framed it like this…”

This image will give you a slight inkling into the climactic battle. Just an inkling, cause trust me, there’s a lot more...

Friday, January 12, 2007

Give Me Ninety Eight Point Six

A quick, brief update as the weekend begins. Thanks to all of you that have expressed concern about my ongoing ‘bug’. Last night turned out to be the worst of it actually. I guess I had a fever for large part of the day, but it wasn’t till dinner that I really noticed it. I went to bed about eight o’clock, freezing. Later I awoke, soaked in sweat. I tossed the blankets off to cool down – to ICE Cold! And so it went for the next few hours – a trippy alternating of shivering then sweating. No matter what blanket I used, my body temp wasn’t sticking. Around four in the morning, I woke up, shivering – but this time it felt like I was just cold from the lack of blankets. I covered up and slept like a rock till eight o’clock in the morning.

Twelve hours of sleep!

Now, I’m feeling pretty good. Yes, I have still have the cough, and the congested nose, but today is pretty much the first time, um, this year (haha) that I’ve felt decent. Every day I’ve kept telling myself and been hopeful that I was over the worst of it, but I think this is really it. I’m also writing this at the end of the day, so it hasn’t just been the morning talking. I think Marianne is also feeling better. I got hit worst, but she had it bad too.

The one thing we didn’t get till late in the game was a vaporizer. Very important – if you get this bug (and if you’re in Socal, it seems damn likely), get a vaporizer. Okay, maybe that’s obvious, but it’s a simple public service message.

Hopefully, I’ll move away from the monotonous entries that have thus far made up 2007.

When I return, and I do think I am returning soon – I have a nice list of topics that have been on my mind.

And that’s it for Friday evening. I’m sitting in my new office chair, loving it. I’ll even describe that a bit more soon.

If you found this incredibly mundane, please - go to the archives and read something else, or go to my main site and read something. Did you know you can hear me play the violin if you dig into the microphone pages?

Thursday, January 11, 2007


You could stick a couple bodies in that box with no problem.

I realize now that I couldn't have purchased this from a brick and mortar place as I would have had no way to get it home.

Assembly was easy, and now it is my new office chair.

I promise to soon return to blogs with more substance. The cold seems to be in a plateaued state. When putting the chair together yesterday, I realized I must still running a very slight fever as I got quickly overheated from such strenuous activity as holding an arm to the seat and twisting an Allen Wrench. However, though all the symptoms are still very much a part of my life, I have a sense of feeling better.

Considering it’s day twelve, it’s about time, right?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I wrote, I proof-read, I deleted

I wrote an entry in the current phlegm addled state I'm in.
The title explains the rest. I won't waste your time.

Here's picture in the ongoing Office Chair adventure. Share in the excitement.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Same Song

I still feel like the film critics who stood up to the worst filmmaker ever.
If you don't know what the hell that means, good. You haven't entirely wasted coming here today.
This highly entertaining story will fill you in on the details.

Though the company I ordered the chair from is in Missouri, the warehouse is in Los Angeles... very exciting.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Still Sick

But I think we're getting better.
Come back again soon.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Watch out for the bug that's going around

I’ve got plenty to write about, but right now I feel like doing nothing.

Because I am sick as a dog. I feel like crap.

I don’t know where the expression came from, and I haven’t seen a dog as sick as I feel. I’m pretty lucky in avoiding the winter bugs, and I seem to have a pretty good resistance to them. Not this time. It started a day before New Years, and Marianne brought something else back from the east coast. I don’t know if these things mixed, or what… but the final result is matching my “hell flu of 1999”. That one was worse though, cause I had to fly. I got that at Sundance and took it to Rotterdam. My left ear was stuffed for six odd months afterwards. Now that was hell.

So what’s been happening in the week(!) I’ve been sick?

Besides the usual writing thing, albeit with a lot of coughing and choking thrown in, my chair hunt has reached a climax; I currently have a bid on something on Ebay. The next blog entry will determine whether I got it or not. Which one, you ask? It’s a Eurotech me7erg. Is it beautiful? Um, no. It actually looks a bit like something Terry Gilliam might put in one of his movies, but my god, the comfort and adjustability! I’ll tell you more as the saga completes itself. For now, wish me luck on my bid.

The weather over the course of the New Year thus far has been tumultuous. Heavy winds have buffeted us for a couple days now. Rather than clear the air, it was dusty – coming in from the desert. Today it’s calm, and visibility is amazing. The mountains look perfect in the distance. Staggering out of bed this morning and looking out to the backyard, I saw the wind had done a little work here too; a rather large branch came down from the avocado tree. The tree, being so large, I couldn’t determine where it came from. No harm to the tree, a bit of natural pruning, it’s something for me clean up and maybe a few avacadoes to pick up. Walking into the kitchen confirmed that. Marianne had already picked what she easily saw from the branch.

I’m saving, for my next entry, the most entertaining thing of the last couple days. I will leave you with a picture of what the fedex man left on my doorstep.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year. It’s 2007

Hope it has been good for you thus far. For me, yesterday was spent cleaning the aftermath of our small, yet messy New Year’s eve celebration. Confetti at New Years is like the sand from a day at the beach, it gets everywhere. Add to that the spills of champagne and you have a sticky mess of runny-colored paper, that requires three levels of cleaning – the sweep, the vacuum, and then the mop. And that’s just the floor. Next level up is the plates of leftover food, the streamers, the decorations that go back into a box, lights and extra chairs that go to the garage…

But it’s fun; it’s a fake mess – created purposefully. While doing this, on television we watched the festivities that were going on a few miles away, namely the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena. Because I don’t take parades seriously doesn’t mean I won’t watch the occasional one. However, I do watch them with a cynicism born of, well – watching parades. The Rose Parade is a relatively “cynicism free” experience. It’s a pleasant parade amazingly free of the strutting conceit and misplaced blue collar pride (not to mention the horrendous racket made by hundreds of banjos simultaneously strummed) of say, The Philadelphia Mummers.

Nor does it have too much of the militant bravura of so many American parades. While I take no issues with war veterans being celebrated in a parade, I do think that fourteen year olds, holding beaten-up wooden rifles with the grimmest and most serious of expressions on their pimply faces, are creepy.

With the Rose Parade, most silliness and self congratulatory waving was quaint – Yah for the Notaries of America and their ‘Squirrels buying their first house’ float!

Additionally, the floats are quite amazing, unlike the Hollywood Christmas Parade’s beaten up sadness, or the Macy parade’s balloons-o’-consumerism. Eventually, even the most jaded person has to admit that the hand built, all natural and in many cases, living – floats of the Rose Parade are gawker-worthy.

However, lest you think that I’ve gone soft, I did find one biggie, and Marianne (much less the parade cynic than I) standing next to me, also reacted with the requisite “oh my God”.

And it’s not the ‘Imperial storm troopers’ (Nazis really, in case you don’t get it) of the Star Wars celebration, marching down the streets of Pasadena while crowds cheered insanely – the geek equivalent of an SS Brigade marching the streets of Paris. That’s too easy on too many levels.

No, at the very beginning, just as a bunch of corn-fed, smiling Oklahoma’ians finished a song and dance routine introducing the parade’s theme, “Celebrating Our Good Nature” -- two fighter jets screamed past over head right behind a B2 STEALTH BOMBER. Yes, Our Good Nature – don’t you forget it. Have you seen our ICBM’s lately?

That’s America.

Later, shortly before sunset, we took a drive to Pasadena and drove down Colorado Ave., the parade’s ground zero. Besides the amazing amounts of garbage that lined the streets for the eight mile parade route, the streets were also crawling with tourists, determined to continue their celebrations, not nearly ready to call it a day. The Rose Bowl game was still in full swing down the road, so I’m guessing that the revelry went much later too.

So that was it. A beautiful, sunny New Years Day in southern California, hopefully the harbinger of the year ahead.