hitler finds out michael jackson has died

It’s all in the title. Enjoy.

*edit* Poo. It’s been removed. But I’m all for Intellectual Rights Protection, so hey.

ucla film video interview series on youtube

Very cool series of vids on YouTube from UCLA’s film school. Interviews with producers, directors, agents on how to pitch, what you get out of film school, and more… all good stuff, and always great to get it form the horse’s mouth.


i heart hearts

Yes, I’ve been away for a while. Partly working hard at getting the office organized and making a functional to-do list (which is really just a honey-do list pointed at yourself). But also partly lying in a hospital bed for two days being tortured by doctors and nurses.

What? Lying in a hospital bed? What happened?

Well, we don’t really know. Woke up at 2am Sunday with wierd chest pains, numb fingers, dizziness, nausea and disorientation. Any one of those things alone I can handle. All at once makes a man nervous (and makes him cry like a little girl). And scare the shit out of your poor wife and kids.

Long story short, I got my first ever ride in an ambulance, my first ever overnight in a hospital room, and my first ever chest x-ray, stress test, cardiologist consult, and offer of a bedpan (turned it down thank you very much – if I ain’t dead, I can walk to the bathroom).

All tests came back negative — meaning no evidence of a “cardiac event”. Chest pain? Likely musulo-skeletal, a strain or cramp. Numb fingers? Maybe laid on my arm wrong. Dizziness? Probably low blood pressure, cause unknown, but no sign of low blood sugar. Just lucky me they all happened at the same time. Ain’t coincidence a blast?

Here’s the wierd part… my heart rate was in the 40’s. Dipped a few times to around 39. They kept asking me if I was a triathlete, an avid runner, a hardcore worker-outter. Nope, definitely not… I do my reasonable best to hit the gym but I am an avowed sitter-downer.

So why the slow heart rate? We’re still trying to figure that out – and whether that’s what contributed to my dizziness. I’m on a heart monitor now (I look like I’m wearing a beeper – so sexy hight tech – that’s got wires running to sensors on my chest). I feel like a cyborg. Sort of.

Things I learned:

  • It’s simply not possible to sleep well in a hospital, particularly when the old guy on one side of you is deaf (“I SAID WE’RE GOING TO TAKE A BLOOD SAMPLE, MR. SMITH!” “WHAT?” “A BLOOD SAMPLE!” “I REMEMBER THE FLOOD!”) and the old guy on the other side of you is delusional and doesn’t know why he’s there (“HEY! LET ME OUT OF HERE! I HAVE TO GO HOME!” “YOU HAVE TO STAY HERE, MR. JONES! YOU’RE IN THE HOSPITAL! YOU’VE HAD AN OPERATION!” “WHAT?” “YOU’VE HAD AN OPERATION!” “WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE? UNTIE ME!”).
  • Most of your time in the hospital is spent waiting. Blood test at 5am? Doctor will have time to review them after dinner. Doctor says you need a stress test. He’ll be available in 12 hours. In the meantime, just lie here in this noisy room and watch Judge Judy. Where am I, GITMO?
  • You must be your own project manager. So many rotations of nurses, things get forgotten. “Hey, wasn’t I supposed to get a blood thinner at 8am?” “Were you? Let me check. Oh yeah. Ill be right back with that.” “Weren’t you going to be right back an hour ago?” “Was I? Oh yeah. I’ll tell the next nurse.” I actually had a nurse draw blood, and write down the wrong patient ID number off my wrist band. Luckily she read out loud. I corrected her, else my blood test would have been attributed to someone else and lost forever. Can’t believe they don’t have bar codes for this shit!
  • Keep your story straight. I had a total of about 30 different ER nurses, EMT’s, fire fighters, nurses, doctors, and specialists over the course of two days. Every one of them asked me what happened. Every one of them took notes on some kind of intake form, medical record, clipboard, or keyboard. And nevertheless, every one of them asked me again as though they were the first person to talk with me. Why’d they even take notes? Why don’t they share them? Why isn’t there some database they can all look at? WTF? I honestly began to suspect they were working like a police squad, asking me to repeat my alibi to a dozen different investigators in the hopes of finding inconsistencies in my story so they could bust me and throw me out on my ear. “Chest pain and then dizziness? You told Nurse Ratched you had dizziness and then chest pain. Do you think we’re fools? Throw him in stir!”
  • M*A*S*H and SCRUBS are kinda right. Medical professionals are raunchy people. I had one ER tech tell me about the 20-year-old hooker who’d had my bed before me, about how tiny her skirt was, how big her tits were, and how quickly she got seen by the male doctor on staff. I had another specialty tech recount to me how she and her sister, in a fit of boredom, had shaved their pubes into the shape of little hearts (and then how much it itched when it grew back). Seriously, I’ve never had a job where that was appropriate conversation with a client. Not that I minded. I think in high stress jobs like that, you gotta have a release. And when your life is in someone’s hands, the last thing you should be worked up about is whether their conversation is naughty.

Anyways, I’m back now. Keeping an eye on my monitor, and waiting for the next dizzy spell so we can figure out what the fuck is going on. But at least it’s not a cardiac event. No heart attacks here. Heart of a triathlete, baby. I’ll live to be 50.

"Away We Go" gains instant indie cred via hand drawn title font

Away We Go is just the latest in a long line of “indie” films to leverage the oh-so-cool “hand drawn title” font, lending it serious street cred and instant indie validation before anyone even sees the film.


Recently popularized by 2007’s JUNO, the quirky hand-made title font brought visions of diary entries and emo-teen angst-filled journal poems, setting appropriate audience expectations by screaming “We’re an honest unassuming micro-brew movie!”


Leveraged again in 2008’s Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, the wacky font inferred the hand written liner notes of a home-made mix tape. Plus, it promises that the movie is probably intimate, personal and low-fidelity-artsy, reminding us of the days of cassette mix tapes and Bic-penned song lists rather than CD’s and laser printered liners.

awaywegoSo then does 2009’s Away We Go not only give us a title font designed in the margins of a high-school English quiz, but an entire poster cartooned/rotoscoped like a modern-day Yellow Submarine (1968) or 1971’s The Point… or more contemporarily, hearkening right back to 2007 and JUNO’s opening title sequence — or the JUNO Soundtrack cover (See below). How quirkily indie-filmishly self-referential and hip. (Do the kids say “hip” any more? Or am I just fixated on “hip” because mine hurts?)


Yes, the same design firm (Shadowplay Studio) did the titles for both JUNO and Nick and Norah (not sure yet about Away We Go, but I’m guessin’). Anyway, sure they do fine work and all. But how long will it be before looking just like JUNO has people saying “What, again?” instead of “Ooh! Again!”.

Got more examples? Please share.

NOTE: In all fairness and in the interest of full-disclosure, I really enjoyed JUNO, plan to see Nick and Norah (love me some Michael Cera – Superbad rocks) and think Away We Go has two of my favorite funny people in it. But come on. This Title design trend is going to become as stereotypically “indie” as the wacky Grampa character addicted to porn.

how fucking old is wilford brimley anyway?

wilfred-brimleySo I’m watching TV tonight and there’s Wilford Brimley (again…always…forever) pimping the medical supplies services he’s been pimping for what seems like an eternity, and I turn to my wife and I say “How fucking old is Wilford Brimley anyway? He was an old man twenty-five years ago!”

I’m thinking, of course, of the Wilford Brimley of “Cocoon” (1985), and “Our House” (1986), either of which starred a 97-year-old Wilfred Brimley, right?

In Cocoon he’s an OLD man in a retirement village. And in Our House he takes in his teenage grandkids… I mean Shannon Doherty is like 14 in that series.

So I check out his IMDB. The man was born in 1934, which makes him about 75 today. Which means that 25 years ago, when he made Cocoon and Our House, he was about 51 or 52 years old.*

WTF? I’m 49! You mean the Wilford Brimley doddering around in Cocoon was two years older than me? The cranky old man in Our House, and shortly after selling America instant oatmeal from behind that grandfatherly mustache, was two years older than me? Holy crap on a stick!

So I got two choices… either I’m way the fuck older than I like to think I am, or Wilford Brimley has made a career out of playing really old dudes when he could have been playing leading men. I mean seriously, Bruce Willis is 55 and he’s still kicking ass and taking names.

Dude, which 50-something guy do I want to be? Which one do you want to be? The Bruce Willis or the Wilford Brimley**? No offense, Wilford, but I’m going with Bruce.

Hey, when I’m 75 I’ll be happy to be the cranky cantankerous old coot. But not before I have to, okay?

*Which means he was 38 when his granddaughter was born… which means he was 20 when his kid was born… which isn’t impossible, I guess, but still… **Okay, maybe with a name like Wilford Brimley you’re simply predestined to be an old man from birth. I mean, really. Wilford Brimley is no action hero name, right?

write or die!

Just found this cool little writing tool… (thanks, Toni Andrews! – she’s my Twitter friend…)

Write Or Die!

“Write or Die is a web application that encourages writing by punishing the tendency to avoid writing. Start typing in the box. As long as you keep typing, you’re fine, but once you stop typing, you have a grace period of a certain number of seconds and then there are consequences.”

It’s a way cool idea. Haven’t even tried it yet and I know it’s going to be a great tool.

I’ll post my results after I set aside some time to test.

How’d you do?

It's a girl!

So, if you’ve been playing along at home, you know that we’ve been working on finalizing the adoption of my stepson.

Funny how life works.

On the day that we signed off on all the final papers and made it official, we arrived home to more news.

I had not simply gained a son today.

I also gained a granddaughter.

My son Jesse is expecting a daughter… soon! August 8th.

Yes that soon.

No, I hadn’t known.

Seems that I was the last to learn… guess I’m a scarier guy than I thought. 🙂

When I was a young man I was afraid to tell my old man that I’d gotten my ear pierced… I stood with my head cocked sideways in the hopes he’d only see the right side of my head all afternoon.

Even in my thirties, showing him my tattoos was a hard thing to do.

And in all honesty, my first wife was secretly pregnant with my daughter at the wedding… so I can relate to how hard/scary/intimidating these kinds of things can be. I’m not mad about it at all. I’m looking forward to it. (For the record, we were engaged many months before becoming preggo…)

I’m just happy to finally know, and am priming myself for grandparenthood. Haven’t decided what I want to be called yet… but I don’t think it’ll be “Grampa”. I’m thinking “Pop” (as my grandfather was). But we’ll see.

I figured this was coming in the next few years.

Wish us luck!

It's a boy!

signingToday I gained a son!

If you’ve been playing along at home, the past year has been in large part about jumping the hurdles and hoops and red tape of local, state and federal gummint in the hopes of making my stepson my legal son.

Finally all the parts came together, and we had our day in family court. There was no question of what might happen, really… all the papers have been signed, fees paid, interviews had.

We had to wait our turn in the hallway, while another family finalized their adoption. They had about a dozen friends and family in with them, balloons, cake, the whole works. We seemed so reserved by comparison. It was simply myself, my wife Cheryl and our son Max in the courtroom with our lawyer, the judge, the bailiff and two court reporters (secretarys? stenographers? legal assistants? I don’t know… but they looked busy). We had no cake, no friends and family, no balloons.

hugsBut it didn’t matter. This was about making it official, and we wanted it intimate (We had plans to have my older kids over to celebrate later in the evening anyway). The judge was awesome… very sweet. She spent some time chatting with Max about himself, his favorite activities, what he likes to do with me, and so on. She had him sign the paperwork (usually only kids older than 12 sign, but she felt he was “old enough and smart enough” to get to sign), then she took me by surprise. She had me raise my right hand, and take an oath:

I, William, solemnly swear

To treat Max

In all respects as my natural child

I am prepared to accept

This gift of a child to raise

I will share my life with him

Help to mold his mind

Nurture his body

And enrich his spirit

I will never betray his trust

Dampen his hopes or

Discourage his dreams

I will be patient and kind

I make this commitment willingly

I will cherish Max

All the days of my life.*

Now, any of you who know me well know I’m a bit of a crybaby, so I only got through one or two lines before falling apart and blubbering like a little girl (she took me by surprise!). But it was all okay, everyone laughed kindly and passed me tissues. I will say that although as birth father to my three older kids I never had to take such an oath (but wouldn’t it be cool if they had you do that?), I hope they know that I did so in my heart when they came into my life 20, 24 and 27 years ago, and I hope I’ve lived up to it.

familyWe’ll be framing and hanging said oath on the wall (they gave us a copy, nicely printed on parchment).

The bailiff was likewise a really nice guy, obviously loves this part of his job, and volunteered to take the pics for us.

Something I did not know is that there will be a new birth certificate generated, with my name on it. It’s all new, baby, just as it should be.

Ironically, to finalize that new birth certificate, our last stop was in another office to stand in line and turn in the signed papers… on which we discovered a mistake in Max’s birthdate (previously called out and fixed but never communicated to the court). Luckily, a little white out and hopefully that’s all done. We’ll see when the certificate arrives.

We left the courthouse newly galvanized, shared a happy lunch together, and headed home.

And that’s when the other shoe dropped.

*Based upon prayer in “Guide My Feet” by Marian Wright Edelman (c) 1995 Marian Wright Edelman

Note: All this happened back on May 22nd, so I’ve dated this post thusly. But there’s been a lot going on and I haven’t been able to write about it till today – June 2. 😛

Arrrr! Video Pirates in the North Sea!

pirate-bayGreat article on Reuters about film piracy, Pirate Bay*, and how the industry is coping.

Thanks to the bandwidth required to share movies and the rise of the DVD in the late 1990s, Hollywood was spared a few years before piracy reached its glitzy shores, and studio moguls were able to learn from the music industry’s clumsy response to file-sharing technology. But that doesn’t mean they’ve figured it out. Piracy grows bigger every day, and movie studios and television networks are scrambling to find a way to save their industry. Do you lace more and better encryption into your DVDs and Blu-Rays? Offer your own movies and TV shows online for a small subscription or a few commercials to sit through? Sue the bastards?

* Yeah, I stole the Pirate Bay logo for the blog. Like they’re gonna call copyright infringement on me?

Twitter introduces me and John August

John August
John August

Something cool happened on Twitter.

Yeah, I know. I didn’t see it coming either.

John August, amazingly successful and talented screenwriter of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Go, The Nines, Big Fish, and others, is working on an idea for a “long short story or short novella”. He put the word out via his Twitter feed, looking for 11 people to read the first draft and offer feedback.

I didn’t see the posting in time, but he promised a call for a second round, so I kept my eyes peeled. Sho’ nuff, a couple days later he posted again, looking for another 11 people to read the second draft. As I was obsessively monitoring for said posting, I jumped on it, and got in.

John kindly provided a PDF of his small project (25 pages), a list of specific questions he’d like us to address, and was also open to any other feedback we might have.

It was cool to read something of his that was not a screenplay. It’s always a treat to have a chance to interact with professionals whom you respect, in a field you fancy yourself a part of.

I’m hopeful that my feedback was indeed valuable, and I tried not to be a fawning sycophant. I got a little obsessed with one passage that didn’t work for me, and provided lengthy notes on why I thought it needed changing. It may have read as thorough, or it may have read as a bit OCD. I’m hoping the former.

Certainly, this is something that could have happened without Twitter — he could have reached out to people on his mailing list (should he have one) or visitors to his blog. He could have posted on craigslist. Twitter didn’t make this event possible… but it did facilitate the event in this case, and I’m glad of it.

So thanks, Twitter. That was a bit of all right. You don’t suck quite as hard as I said you do.