Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Suspended Suspension

With every movie or television show comes a need for some suspension of disbelief on the part of the audience.

From the basic willingness to believe that you are watching a character and not George Clooney, to the more complex buying into the idea that the Joker could predict exactly on what street the police van would resurface.

I can be pretty good about such suspensions, but every now and then there is a piece of a show that I just can’t get past.

Like SAMURAI GIRL on ABC Family. Young girl comes to America, finds out she is a mystically powered samurai, kicks butt with a sword.

Sure sounded like my cup of tea.

But here’s a weird detail: the girl lived her entire life in Japan, and for the mini-series is in America for the first time in her life. Yet she has no trace whatsoever of an accent.

Which I wouldn’t care about – I buy a lack of an accent, or a cheesy bad accent all the time. Except all the older Japanese characters around her speak with thick accents.

So jarring to me every time she has a conversation with her driver/mentor, I had to stop watching.

Another example: PRIMEVAL on BBC America. Paleontologist is called in when a time rift opens up, allowing dinosaurs to wander the modern earth.


But in the first episode, said scientist is given the chance to step through the rift and go back in time a couple million years. He has time to prep, and goes through.

And this scientist does not take a camera, or even a sketch pad. He doesn’t take any recording equipment, doesn’t bother to take samples, makes no notes.

Here’s a man who has devoted his life to studying the remains of ancient periods and life forms, and he has zero scientific curiosity about actually being in that period. None. Zip. Nada.

Can’t get past that, can’t watch the show.

A friend saw the movie FIREPROOF, and it seems like he hit a few of those “how do I get past his” moments. (I have not seen the movie.)

The one that made me laugh the most:

“The physical requirements to be a fireman in Albany, Georgia, must be really slack, since one of the new recruits brags about being “255 pounds of lovin’,” when what you mostly need is “255 pounds of someone who can drag your butt out of a burning building.””

So let’s make this interactive – what bits of movies or shows have thrown you out of the fictional world, never to come back?

Just my thoughts,


No More Cheesy, Churchy Videos

Our drama team - BADD (Bel Air Drama Department) is now featured in a CHRISTIANITY TODAY article. Check it out!!

No More Cheesy, Churchy Videos
Bel Air Presbyterian's drama department has mastered the art of making short films that are funny without being cheesy, and effective without being overwrought.
Story by Brett McCracken | posted 09/23/08

Go to the full story HERE.

Sean & I have had the privilege of being a part of this group for 6 years now. It's truly amazing.
Enjoy these photos from "On The List"! (That's me sitting down in the center as script supervisor! I'm working - really!!)

To view some of our past work - go to www.belairdrama.com and click on VIDEOS.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Fake Montana

Not a lot of time to write today, so instead I'll let you in on someone else's pain.

Donald Miller just figured out that Hannah Montana is not a reality show.

I always wondered why no one in her high school figured out her secret identity -- don't they have televisions? But now I know.

Just my thoughts,


PS Favorite line: "Why are you comparing Hannah Montana, a supposed reality show, to House, a documentary?"

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Jesus Saves... Not!

Jeff provided this tidbit from Steve Waldman’s article in Christianity Today:

“Last March when polls reported that 10% of the population thought Barack Obama was Muslim, I counseled calm: Obama is a new character on the scene. As people get to know him, that percentage will decline.

"Instead, it’s gone up. The newest poll from the Pew Research Center showed that 13% now believe he’s Muslim - and a staggering 19% of McCain supporters believe him to be Muslim. Only 48% of Republicans say Obama is Christian (the balance is unsure).

"This is truly frightening - not so much because of the implications for Obama but because of what it says about how we as Americans consume information. With more time, and more information swimming about, the public has become progressively less well informed.”

I took a gander through the responses to Steve’s entry. I also checked out more of the ongoing debate of whether Barack Obama is a Christian or not (and apparently, as the logic goes, if he is not a Christian he must be Muslim – strange logic to be sure).

While Steve is fascinated by the “how we get our news” factor, I’m more taken by how many Christians really, really, really want to believe that the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross does not save people.

Or, at the least, that Jesus is only a minor ingredient in the salvation mix.

Tim Keller would talk about “Jesus and…” types of Christianity.

What do you need to be saved?

Jesus and the right style of baptism.

Jesus and the correct translation of the Bible.

Jesus and the Church hierarchy.

Jesus and social action.

Jesus and earthly prosperity.

Jesus and being pro-life.

Jesus and the correct politics.

Now, being under the Lordship of Jesus might lead you to such “ands” – from the mundane of the right kind of baptism, to the critical issues such as life and choice.

But the core is, always was, and always shall be – Jesus. Just Jesus.

Obama says that he submitted to Jesus, that he is a sinner who has been redeemed through the act of Jesus dying on the cross.

He may be wrong at the moment on a lot of issues. For example, I think he is off on his views on abortion.

But when (I’m an optimist) he realizes his error and changes his stance, that will not make him a Christian.

If he became a Republican, that would not make him a Christian.

If he decided that war, after all, is the answer, that would not make him a Christian.

Even if he donated money to TBN, that would not make him a Christian.

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Just my thoughts,


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hot Pants of a Different Sort

Thanks to Jason for informing me of this hot new product. Now I know what to ask for my birthday.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ain't She Sweet?

Just so you know, that beautiful woman standing two over from Mr. Hanks is my friend and small group member Amy.

At the Emmy's.

On the stage.

Accepting the award for producing John Adams.

Just so you know.


Monday, September 22, 2008

What I've Been Up To

My (Sean's) website is woefully out of day -by over a year - so I've started compiling the info needed to get it back in shape.

Looking over the list, I thought some of y'all might be interested in what I've been doing professionally, outside of my day job at WB.

So this is what 2008 looked like, in reverse chronological order (note that this list is only produced gigs, and doesn't include specs or pitches):

Current: Contracted to write two episodes of an animated series. (Name of series and episodes withheld upon producer’s request. Nah, its not that secretive, they’re just funny that way.)

Current: One On One, short film written with Dean Batali, is in pre-production.

Current: Paging Dr. Peter, sit-com length film written with Charity Parenzi, in post-production with Seattle Children’s Hospital.

August: The Call In, sketch, rewritten and performed by Bel Air Drama Department.

August: Paging Dr. Peter, sit-com length film written with Charity Parenzi, in production with Seattle Children’s Hospital.

August: Spoke on the “The Spirituality of Star Wars” panel for Beacon (Los Angeles). (Okay, not a paid gig, per se, but still a lot of fun!)

July-August: Commissioned to write One On One, short film written with Dean Batali, for Stonewater Films.

June: Barbarians at the BBQ, short film, written for and produced by Bel Air Drama Department.

June: Taught “Navigating the Studio System” for Act One: Writing for Hollywood.

May-June: Commissioned to co-write Paging Dr. Peter, sit-com length training film with Charity Parenzi for Seattle Children’s Hospital.

June: Sold three short film pitches to Stonewater Films.

May: We Are One, short doc, written for and produced by Bel Air Drama Department.

April: Who Needs Salt?, short doc, written for and produced by Bel Air Drama Department.

March: “Maundy Thursday Readings,” sketch series, developed for, directed for and produced by Bel Air Drama Department.

February: Taught a series of screenwriting classes for the Castro Valley Christian Writer’s Seminar.

January: My Babysitter Is an Alien, television pilot, goes into production

January: Taught “Literature and Film” at Biola University (Inter-term semester).

Just my past year,


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tina for Vice President!

Perhaps the funniest video of the week (for the three of you out there that haven't seen it yet) is the SNL appearance of Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton (see it here).

I was worried about posting, thinking some might view this as a partisan attack against the Republicans - despite SNL being very careful to skewer both sides .

But Sarah Palin said in her Hannity interview that she thought the piece was hilarious, so there you go.

Of course, she watched it with the sound turned off, so heard none of the substance of the piece.

But who needs knowledge to make a definite opinion in this day and age?

Just my thoughts,


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I Think I Think...

Book club is reading Rene Descartes' "Meditations on First Philosophy" this month.

Deep thinker. Thinking deeply.

Not quite through it yet, but have to say his motto is a little too easy. I suggest this rewrite:

"My head hurts, therefore I am."

Just my thoughts,


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

FRINGE Is a Bit on the Outside

Spoiler alert – I will be giving away the plot to the FRINGE pilot in this blog. Or warning you away, however you choose to accept it.

Tonight FRINGE airs its second episode – and it may well be a make-or-break one for me.

I watched the heavily hyped pilot from the creator of LOST and ALIAS this weekend, and here’s what I have to say:


I never engaged with the characters, for which I blame the writing and the acting.

And I was never really on the edge of my seat, which for an actioner is a problem. Here’s some things that need fixin’, in my humble opinion:

-Let the characters focus on what’s important.

The whole shebang opens with a terrorist attack with a horrific weapon of mass destruction. But the drive of the episode isn’t to stop the terrorist, or to secure the weapon, or to find out if another attack is planned, or any other such global thing.

The drive is to find out what chemicals were in the shed, so we can save Olivia’s boyfriend.

If we happen to prevent the release of a chemical attack that could wipe out millions in one stroke, that’s cool too; but we aren’t going to waste any time going for that goal.

(When the bad guy is in custody, no one from Homeland Security or the FBI ask him any questions unrelated to the inventory of shed chemicals.)

Good for Olivia; not so good for the rest of us that she is supposed to be protecting.

-Give us a reason to like these people.

A lot of effort was made to make me care about the romance (this is the only man that Olivia ever truly loved!); but very little effort was made for me to like Olivia herself.

And if I’m luke warm on Olivia, I’m not going to care for her romance no matter how many loving looks you make me sit through.

-Let the good guys be, well, morally good.

Okay, the guy that runs the agency that is in charge of the security of the free world? He has a conflict with Olivia. Conflict is good, that’s what made Skinner a compelling boss.

But this guy’s conflict is this: Olivia prosecuted a Marine for sexually assaulting several girls. Yep, that’s it. You see, in a civilized society, we think that rape is just something good ol’ boys do every now and then.

You know, as a well deserved tension breaker.

This is the attitude of the good guys. Yeah, we are in trouble.

-Stop pretending that there haven’t been any advances in science since the ‘80s.

The whole of “fringe” science is based on the work of Dr. Bishop, a man who hasn’t been in a lab, touched a computer, or read a journal in twenty years.

And yet he requires no time to catch up.

In fact, he uses the lab that has been shut down since the eighties without any upgrades other than dusting.

No need to update the computers in this world; he’ll just take out his old five inch floppies, boot those suckers up and be in business.

I’ll watch tonight’s episode and see if they are on a path of correction before giving up completely.

Just my thoughts,


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"The Bravest"

"So now I go to funerals for men I never knew;
The pipers play "Amazing Grace", as the coffins come in view.

"They must have seen it coming as they turned to face the fire.
They sent us down to safety, then they kept on climbing higher.

"Now every time I try to sleep, I'm haunted by the sound
Of firemen pounding up the stairs, while we were running down.
Of firemen pounding up the stairs, while we were running down."

-from "The Bravest" by Tom Paxton

Garrison Keillor singing "The Bravest" here.

Tom Paxton singing here.

Just heavy on my thoughts,


Monday, September 08, 2008

Fast Rope

Just saw some video of my baby brother jumping out of the back of a helicopter.

He's coming to visit soon. I already have some equally extreme activities planned.

Like surfing (channel).

High stakes sports (poker).

And Target practice (not practice really; we'll probably buy stuff. There's a Pizza Hut Express near the registers.)

I may need him to use those fast rope skills to rappel off the couch and get some Doritos during commercials. I'd do it myself, but I don't want to show off.

Just my thoughts,


Thursday, September 04, 2008

Guitar Hero Worship

Cath and I were introduced to Guitar Hero by hard-rocking friends Mark and Nicole.

(My niece Nicole was with us too, but that makes two Nicoles which might be too confusing, so I won’t talk about her much; for example, I won’t mention how badly she beat our butts in wi bowling and tennis.)

As we figured out fingerings and the whammy bar to the beats of Aerosmith, we joked about what the Christian version of this game would look like.

We giggled at the idea of the wailing guitar solo in the middle of “It Only Takes a Spark,” or using the whammy on “A Mighty Fortress.”

Okay, there are actual rock songs of a spiritual bent out there, so a religious music version wouldn’t be a great leap. But would it come as a “Guitar Hero” plug in, or a separate, more sacrosanct stand alone game?

Just a few short weeks after that, the announcement of “Digital Praise,” the religious-minded alternative to Guitar Hero, arrived.

And not long after that, games specialist, Simon Parkin weighed in on the bad word of mouth “DP” was getting.

As I am not a gamer, I skimmed the first part of the article. But then the dissection of what makes something “Christian” caught my attention.

Insights like:

“The word Christian is, in the strict sense, a noun. It literally means somebody who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ. People get themselves in all manner of trouble when they turn the noun into an adjective to describe their work, community, bookshop, painting, tee shirt, video game or song.
“A book or song cannot ‘follow Christ’. As an adjective the word is, in essence, a term of marketing targeting a product specifically at Christian people. “

Or this:

“Christians should not be demanding video games prefixed with a faith label, as if that cheap and easy classification provides some kind of invisible moral safety net for their and their children’s media consumption.
“Rather, believers should simply be demanding good and beautiful games that delight in creativity, make people happy, present or explore the world in interesting ways and maybe, just maybe enable us to catch a glimpse of their God, from whom all good things are claimed to flow.”

Interesting take from the outside.

Just my thoughts,


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Off Limits? But It's Dirty Campaign Season!

So I was just sittin’ there when I heard the one about the governor’s daughter, and naturally I joined in the dishing.

What's its meaning for the campaign? How does it color the notion of family values? What does the governor’s way of dealing say about her headship?

And more vital to my television viewing concern, how many weeks are we gonna make this story last?

But as I’m dishing, this dude goes by, and he’s all like, “Shut up, fool. That’s unseemly and you know it. Talk about something real, or stop jawing.

“You should be ashamed of yourself.”

And then he’s off, muttering something akin to “to think you kiss your mother with that mouth.”

And I’m left thinking, "there's a politician who plans stay above the belt? That's new."

Maybe this election year has a sliver of a silver linin’ after all.

Just my thoughts,


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

In a World Without Don LaFontaine...

One of those folks that you know, without knowing you know. Don LaFontaine, one of the most recognizable voices from Hollywood, has passed away.

Here is a rare glimpse at his face, in this funny short showing Don collecting some of the other hot voices of Hollywood trailers and previews.

"And the rest was silence..."

Just my thoughts,