Ear candy

From our mouths to your ears

If it’s not raining, I ride my bike to work.  Since it could still be considered the middle of the night when I do (4AM), it’s pretty quiet.  My iPod helps make the ride a little more tolerable.

Probably unlike a lot of people, I don’t do a lot of music. At first it was old radio shows, which I still enjoy, but some of them are starting to lose their luster and I’m slowly adding more podcasts into the mix.

The appeal of the radio shows comes from the quality of the writing, which could be extremely good.  They didn’t call it ‘theatre of the mind’ for nothing.  Even decades later, a lot of the material still works.  You can’t go wrong with a solid episode of Jack Benny or The Shadow.  It’s also fascinating how a show serves as a time capsule, preserving a moment 60 or 70 years in the past.

A few years ago, I attended a panel discussion about old time radio. I must have been the only person there under 55.  The guest of honor was an actor who had been on The Lone Ranger for a few years; his name currently escapes me.  They recreated parts of well-known shows, commercials and jingles and an episode of The Lone Ranger, complete with sound effects.  Probably not the same as watching it back in the day, but still fun.

While there’s no direct modern equivalent, podcasts come pretty close. There are shows covering just about every subject you could think of.  In my case, most of them deal with film (Filmsack), writing (Scriptcast) or a slightly different take on current events (The Bugle and Wait, Wait, Don’t  Tell Me!).  And for overall entertainment value, you can’t go wrong with The Dinner Party or The Nerdist.

The only downside to all this great material is that I can’t listen to it when I want to write. It’s great for bike rides, runs or working in the kitchen, but for work on the outline or pages, that’s when the music kicks in and I thank my lucky stars for the wonderful gloriousness that is Pandora.

What are you listening to these days?

First step up the mountain

I finally read through my DREAMSHIP notes from the fine folks at ScriptQuack.  Very impressive.  They did a great job of letting me know what the script needs to improve.

So with just under a month to go before the Nicholl deadline, I’m taking their suggestions and trying to rebuild this thing from the ground up.  I had a feeling it may be an extensive rewrite, and I was right.  There’s a lot that has to change.

It’s not insurmountable, but I will call it formidable.  This is really going to require a daily effort.  I think I can get through Act One by the end of this week, then really concentrate on Act Two, where most of the rewriting is necessary.  Act Three I’m still figuring out.

-Final comment on Wondercon.  Fun as usual.  I got to see it from both the Dad and Casual Comic Geek perspectives.  For the former, that involved stopping at all the video game booths, looking for Yu-Gi-Oh! cards and commenting on anything and everything V saw.  Since we went on Friday, it wasn’t that crowded. Overall, a good time.

I returned Sunday with my pal Neil. We usually spend less time among the vendors and focus more on the self-publishers and independents. They’re always more interesting anyway.  I may not be crazy about some of the subject matter, but there’s a certain charm to them and their work. It’s really great to see somebody doing what they love, and a lot of them have a lot of talent.

Even better, you don’t have to wait for hours on end to get an autograph or tell them you like their stuff, and they seem happy to talk to you.  I’ve always tried to support the little guy.

Movie of the Moment:  We watched THE EXPENDABLES last night. Mega-cheesy throwback to the 80s.  Stallone wrote and directed it.  From a writer’s perspective, it could have used a few more rewrites.

I was expecting it to be more mission-centric, but it just dragged and took forever to get to the interesting parts.  K said this would be a perfect Filmsack movie.  I agree.

Tonight we started RED. SO much better.  But it’s Warren Ellis, so I’d expect nothing less.


Today was pretty busy around the house, so I didn’t get any work done on the LUCY outline.  Drat.

But I said I’d read through Patrick Sweeney’s GHOST TRAIN again, and I did.

I sent him some comments, but the gist of the whole thing was that I was really impressed with it.  I’m a sucker for a good western, and this comes really close.  It’s a great premise (outlaw’s son goes after limitless riches on a train carrying the condemned to hell).  The writing is vivid, colorful and really holds your attention.  This would make a kickass movie.


I did have some questions about some parts of the story.  Some things weren’t exactly clear, hence my need for a second read.  I would read something, and it would stick in my mind as I tried to figure out if that’s what it was supposed to be read.

Don’t get me wrong.  I enjoyed it a lot, but it helps when I can fully grasp the rules of the world a script is portraying.  Makes it easier to follow the story.

When Patrick sent me the script, he said he was open to another draft.  Hopefully my questions will result in answers that clear up some of these problems.

Movie of the Moment:  FRIGHT NIGHT, based on the Filmsack podcast. It was okay.  Interesting to see how this was one of the earlier flicks to cash in on the vampire craze.  Roddy McDowall really helps elevate the material.  I know they’re remaking it with former Doctor Who David Tennant in that role, but this time as a Vegas magician instead of a TV host.

(BTW – Filmsack is free on iTunes and oh-so-worth-it.)

Highly doubtful I’ll see that in the theatre, but definitely out it into the Netflix queue.

Tomorrow:  back to work on LUCY!

Title? We don’t need no stinkin’ title!

Okay.  I’m back from a rousing hockey tournament at Lake Tahoe, where V’s team came in 3rd out of 6, including their 2 wins with her in goal.  In fact, she was awarded the MVP puck for their 8-1 victory on Saturday night.  Overall, it was very exciting.  Cold, but exciting.

Just before we left, I was introduced to Triggerstreet.com, a screenwriting review/forum website (Kevin Spacey is one of the founders). Part of the way they work is having members review other members’ scripts.  I haven’t submitted anything yet, but plan to in the near future.

But it was the forum that especially intrigued me.  I decided to take the plunge and posted a question about my logline for LUCY.  I did that on Thursday afternoon.  By the evening, I had a few responses and something like 75 views.  What’s cool about the set-up is that you can opt to get an email notification that somebody’s responded to your post.  A lot of the drive up to Tahoe was spent checking them out.

I have to say I got some really good feedback, and even better, got what I feel is a stronger logline for the story.  I thought about posting that 3 Stooges one just to see what people think, but I’ll hold off for a little while.

Speaking of which, I sent in the old LUCY logline and the 3 Stooges one to the logline contest.  Neither one won, but honestly, I don’t really think that much of some recent winners.  I may try again with the new LUCY one.  It’s a wait-and-see situation.

-As much as I thought/hoped it might happen this weekend, I didn’t get a lot of work done on the outline.

So now that I’ve got an outline I like much better, I felt I had to start over with it, albeit with a few minor changes.  But as I was looking it over, there didn’t seem to be much I thought had to come out.  There are still a few places where I may have to make some slight readjustments, but it may not be as daunting a project as I originally thought.

And I may have stumbled onto a solution for moving the story along.  All I have to do now is figure out how to incorporate it into the story. Which I think I can do

Movie of the Moment:  A few to go over. First the original BAD NEWS BEARS. The other girl on V’s hockey team owns this, and we watched it on Saturday afternoon.  Watching it now as a parent is a lot different than when I was a lot closer to the age of a lot of the cast.  It was really weird watching Walter Matthau, especially since I’ve seen more of his work in recent years.

But the story and the writing still hold up.  Some good jokes sprinkled around here and there, but more would have been nice.  It’s also really weird to have a PG movie from the mid-70s have so much mild cursing in it.  From a writing point of view, the character development is strictly textbook, but effective.  What was also clever was that only a handful of scenes are set inside; a majority are set at the ball field.  And you get to know almost all of the kids on the team; just a handful don’t serve much purpose.  I know they made a remake with Billy Bob Thornton a few years ago, but I don’t see the point.

The other movie was LOST IN SPACE, only because it was on TV today while I was working.  I saw this in the theater back in 1998, and enjoyed it.  Not a lot, but worth the $6 for the matinee.  Incidentally, this would be a great choice for the Filmsack guys.

But looking at it today, it really drags in some places and the dialogue doesn’t really do much for me.  I still don’t understand why they didn’t just kill Gary Oldman’s Dr Smith.  He tried to sabotage their mission and they still let him live?  Ridiculous.  And don’t get me started on the cgi monkey alien.  Lame.

Akiva Goldsman, who wrote it (as well as BATMAN & ROBIN, but also A BEAUTIFUL MIND – go figure), has become more of a producer and has thankfully let his writing career diminish.  While I love the concept of the movie, this one just felt forced and could have been a little shorter.  Still, to me it’s one of the slightly better 60s-TV-show-based films, as opposed to that big ol’ chunk of cinematic Velveeta known as WILD WILD WEST.

Now just try to get that gigantic steampunk spider-tank out of your mind.

You’re welcome.

I have no excuse

I was really bad about posting this week.  Only once.  That’s just wrong.

Part of the problem was frustration with the outline.  While I liked it, something seemed to be missing.  It also felt as if I had written myself into a corner, creatively speaking.  I had the set-up, but not the solution, which is not the way to do it.

So even though I told myself I wouldn’t do it, I started over.  All the way back to the beginning, which in this case means the logline.

Something about it just didn’t seem to click, so I noodled around with it and came up with 2 versions.  One was a little more…intense, and one was just different.

I sent them both to writer friends and got very helpful feedback.  Then I consulted with my most valued critic, aka K.  She liked what I came up with as well.  She also said how much she likes the idea and can’t wait to read it when it’s done.

So now I need to start a slight restructuring of the story itself.  Do I keep the sidekick?  Is there a way to simplify things, but also keep them moving at a steady pace?  These and many more questions I hope to answer in the coming weeks.

-Interesting follow-up to my short-writing experience from last summer.  Apparently all the post-production is finished, so the release party is in a few weeks.  But it’s on a Thursday night, starting at 8PM, which for a creaky odl traffic reporter like me, that’s kind of late.  And it’s at a dance club-type place, which is REALLY not my kind of environment.  Highly doubtful I’ll go, but you never know.

The director sent me a note a few days ago, saying he’s going to be working on a short documentary (approximately 12-15 minutes), and wanted to know if I’d be open to writing the script for it.  And he’ll have a budget, which means $$$ for yours truly!  Actually, more like $.

I’ve never written a docu before, but I love watching them, so I have a general idea of how to go about it.  The subject matter is something completely foreign to me: DJ school.  As in club.  Not radio.  Although the latter would be kind of cool, I don’t think they have those anymore.

I’m meeting with him on Monday to discuss it, so I’ll post how that went, along with the usual LUCY updates.

-Strong recommendation for a hilarious podcast about movies . filmsack.com.  4 guys talking about what they liked or didn’t like about the movie selection of the week.  All types of genres from various decades, but the 80s seem to get the most representation.

What’s really great is that a lot of the movies are available on Netflix via streaming, so watching them isn’t too much of a hassle, provided you have the time to watch.  Even if you haven’t seen the movie in a while, it’s still a blast to listen to.