Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What's in a name?

I have actually finished another short story. As I previously mentioned, next on the schedule was work on a new novel set in a new world, but I may actually try and pump out one more short story -- it'll kind of be a trifecta of stories for three different anthologies. I think I could adapt the opening of Blackburn Burrow into an interesting ghost story. I have another purpose for doing this. I'd like to establish the literary world of Blackburn Burrow to give me a bit more leverage if I ever get a chance to sell the screenplay. WGA guidelines state that a screenwriter maintains the literary rights to his screenplay -- however, often, these are signed away when the screenplay is optioned. If I've already published stories with the characters, that is more likely to come off the table.

Of course, that situation is kind of like wondering how to invest your lottery winnings -- fun to think about, but it's highly unlikely you'll ever have to actually deal with the situation.

In any case, this story is due to the editors for consideration by the 28th, meaning I only have a couple days in which to edit. A couple people have a agreed to read it, which is a bit embarrassing -- it's a mess right now. However, I really need feedback, so if any of you want to read it, contact me on Facebook or through e-mail.

It's so fresh off of being completed, I haven't even titled the thing yet. Usually, I have a title at the beginning or quite early on. Nothing has jumped out at me yet, which is a bit scary. It makes me wonder if the story isn't full realized enough. Oh well, everything is a learning experience. I'll just wait until I hear back how stinky it is from my friends and go from there!

Let me share my current OCD song -- meaning, I'm completely fixated with it. Besides name-checking all sorts of amazing people, it's got a really amazing, motivating message - no wonder Nike snagged it for a commercial. However, this is the band's video, not Nike's:

Friday, February 19, 2010

Did you hear the one about the Alaskan governor and the actress?

Does anyone else favor Julia Mancuso over Lindsey Vonn? The alpine skiing events have interested me the most in these Olympics mainly because of the rivalry between these two competitors. It's almost like watching an anime. No, seriously - Vonn is the technical skier while Mancuso is the more emotional. Yeah, Vonn had a hurt shin coming in, but Mancuso is a real comeback story - she'd had a bunch of injuries and hadn't really won a single thing all year while Vonn had been winning left and right.

Mancuso is now the most decorated US Olympic Alpine skier with 3 medals total - 2 silvers and a gold from the Torino games. It'll be really interesting to see how she does in her last two competitions. I'd love to see her medal in both. Come on, the girl was almost late to the opening ceremonies because she was playing DDR -- how cool is that? Anyway, interesting story on the two at this link.

Ok, now this is truly funny -- you know how Palin slammed The Family Guy for a joke where about a girl with Down's Syndrome going on date says her mother was the governor of Alaska -- the actress has slammed Palin back. Even better - the actress HAS Down's Syndrome. She responded:

I guess former Governor Palin does not have a sense of humor," she said in an e-mail to the New York Times. "I thought the line 'I am the daughter of the former governor of Alaska' was very funny. I think the word is 'sarcasm.' In my family we think laughing is good. My parents raised me to have a sense of humor and to live a normal life.

Here's the full story at CNN.

For you fans of deals out there, especially the one's that love board games! You have to sign up for Tanga. They have a new deal every day that could really be anything at all -- but, they also have a new toys & games deal each day, sometimes you can get amazing deals on some awesome board games. Check it out - it's Tanga.com - there are also a bunch of fun time wasters there.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Retail Irritation #39 - the innappropriate associate

I just shut down an associate at 7-11, and I feel good!

Seriously, when I step into a convenience store in the morning, I'm trying to get a drink and maybe some sort of breakfast food. I'm focused on the work I have to do for the day and getting to my office. I'm not there to be entertained, cajoled, up-sold to, interrogated, subjected to snarky behavior, or failed attempts at humor. The store's responsibility is to sell me the goods I want and get me out the door.

My week has been the very epitome of hell. I've walked into someone else's minefield after it's already blown everyone up, and I'm being asked to put all the pieces back together. Let me point out: people don't like getting blown up. In fact, they hate it. So, every single client I'm dealing with is angry or screaming. I've worked 30 hours this week and still have 3 days to go.

I have to wait a significant amount of time in this store because of how much the clerk is talking to everyone in line -- in Spanish. Annoyed already. So, when I put down my breakfast sandwich, when she walks away, I'm very peeved -- she says, "What's wrong? We don't have a warm one?"

"I don't want one," I reply.

"Why not?"

Ok, this just plain pisses me off. Why do I, the customer, need to explain what I desire to purchase to anyone? What purpose could she possibly have for an explanation? This is the epitome of a useless question - no point to either of us and a waste of my time. However, I indulge her in an attempt to be kind.

"Because I have to walk back to my office in the cold, and I'm not going to eat it right now."

"I suppose that makes sense."

Wha?!!? She supposes? I could care less about what she thinks about this.

"I know what's best for me."

I say, attempting to conclude this conversation and finally get her to ring me up. Of course, the next statement is where she falls into epic fail territory.

"Umm ... no, you don't."

At this point, my concern for her feelings and position in front of her co-workers evaporated completely. I'm guessing this was some attempt at humor. However, humor improperly applied is a very dangerous thing, which is why it's suggested that you don't try to use it when dealing with customers. You never know how someone will take something. I very, very rarely get upset in public. Even here, I didn't yell or make a scene, however I did gather all my focus and stare into the woman.

"Stop it right now," I said, as I watched her shrink to about six inches. "I have a rough day ahead, and I don't need to deal with you."

People who don't know how to read people or deal with them should stick to work that doesn't force them to engage with others all day long, in my opinion. At what point did this woman think that anyone would find someone telling them that they don't know what is best for themselves to be funny? How hard is it for this woman just to stick to her task so there isn't a line all the way through the store? If you just want to talk to people all day, go be a greeter at Wal-Mart, but don't waste my time.

Rant complete.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Being racially colorblind doesn't mean being stupid.

One of my favorite animated series of the recent past was Avatar: The Last Airbender. The show was an exciting adventure, but it had this entire political and racial undercurrent that I thought taught everyone, not just kids, really important lessons without being preachy. In it, there are a bunch of different nations loosely based on real world locales - for example, the Water tribe was like the Inuit, while the Fire tribe was a lot like China, and the Air tribe seemed influenced by the people of Tibet. The show is much about political and racial intolerance.

Even more fascinating, almost all of the characters are portrayed as being from different ethnic backgrounds. The Water tribe is much darker than the others, for example. Which brings me to my issue -- a movie is being made, and we get this:

Two of the whitest people possible playing the darkest characters in the show -- a show about cultural suppression. Seriously - what were they thinking? However, it gets worse. These two white kids live in a tribe of Eskimos ... no, really - everyone BUT them has an ethnic background. Guess who else isn't white? Yeah, the bad guys ... so, villains and extras: dark skin -- heroes: white skin.

The movie may still be great -- but, I hate the message this is sending, especially when people of other than Caucasian ethnicity have such a problem getting roles in Hollywood -- they take a movie that is full of diversity and hand out the roles to white kids. It's irritating.

On towards my writing: I've had very slow work on my submission for the upcoming anthology. I've lost faith in the story, which almost always happens. It makes it very difficult to do the hard work of writing when you don't believe in what you're doing. I start to procrastinate.

I have decided that after this, I'll finish the rewrite of the ending to Shiloh's Way, possibly adapt the opening of Blackburn Burrow to a short story, then start on my crazy cross-genre epic. I don't even know what's going to happen in it. Exciting, no?

Last couple days on my poll! Please vote for which of the two names you think best suits an author!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

But ... but ... it DOES make sense!

I just received a screenplay analysis from a competition I entered. It was rather positive, I think -- however, they missed several salient points in the screenplay leading them to some erroneous beliefs about missing or lacking reasons for plot or characters choices. I'll have to look into it to see if I was too subtle or they just simply missed it. It could be either, really.

The funniest part is that they criticized the ending. Since I added on the ending (they called it "tacked on," which I can't disagree with), it's won a competition and gotten much more notice. Just goes to show you that no matter what you do, someone will like it and someone will hate it. I'll have to decide what to do with it - whether it needs to be left alone, amended, or cut. I have another analysis coming back in a few months, so I'll probably wait until then.

Although, the more I think about it ... the more I'm wondering how he missed the connections to the other points in the story. Hmm ... I'll have to ask a third party to read it, and then quiz them a bit about whether something makes sense. However, I have to admit, I didn't want all the answers to be spelled out - I wanted people to work for it.

Anyone want to read a genre-bending action-adventure-horror screenplay? If so, just post below or contact me on Facebook.

I've narrowed down my possible pen names for my writing to the two that received the most votes -- please pick the name you like best over at the poll on the right! It would mean a lot to me.

Just thought I would throw this video from Deep Space Nine in, since I'd pulled it up for a post on Kotaku. Garak is one of my favorite characters from TV ever - check this out, it's hilarious.