Monday, August 31, 2009

Awaiting Moderation

I just posted on another blog.

A message popped up saying: “Awaiting moderation.”

Me too, brother, me too.

And awaiting moderation in so many areas.

Some personal (do I really have to finish off the whole Doritos bag?).

Some universal (can we have a cap & trade system set up for reality shows? They can only have another “living in a house together show” if someone agrees to one less “people who should not be allowed to procreate finding their soul mate through the use of a hot tub” show).

So people, let’s stop waiting and get ourselves some moderation.

Can we start with political discourse, please?


Okay then. I’m going back to my bag of Doritos.

Just my thoughts,


Cloud and Fire

My area of So Cal is once again under fire.

Despite the fact that we go through fire season every year, the one closest to me (and least under control right now) is so intense because it is the first fire in that area for sixty years.

I have two friends that have been evacuated from their homes, but Cath and I are no where near in danger of the fire actually getting to us.

We’re close enough to have ash on our patio, and work and home are both plagued with the smell of smoke.

We personally are not in a natural disaster; we are just disaster adjacent.

Here were my observations from the weekend.


For anyone wanting to visit, but don’t have directions to our condo:

Get to Burbank.

Locate the column of black smoke coming straight up behind the mountain.

Point your car at the column, and drive directly toward it.

We are on the side that isn’t on fire.


I was up at that church on Mulholland Drive. Great view of the valley.

At night, the mountains all disappear into the dark, and the valley is just a serious of twinkly lights; Christmas spread across the miles.

But this night there is a twist. The mountains are gone, except for the ridgeline.

Someone has take a bright, neon yellow highlighter and ran a sloppy line along the ridge, stopping at random points, picking up again later down the line.

Looks eerily like the lava lines shot at night by a Hawaiian cameraman.

The total picture does not compute. Gentle, twinkly lights; a border of black darkness; then eruptive lines of neon yellow.

Beautiful and awful.

Just my thoughts,


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Steampunk Star Wars

Since I've started work on a script set in sci-fi Steampunk, I've had a lot of people asking, "What the heck is Steampunk?"

To give an idea of the look, here is a taste of what STAR WARS might have looked like in Steampunk, by way of Sillof's Workshop. (Thanks, Cory, for the find.)

The designer says this isn't quite Steampunk, but close enough for my purposes.

Just my thoughts,


Monday, August 24, 2009

Tales From The Script looks like an interesting doc, if you're into that whole screenwriting thing.

The quote that makes the trailer worthwhile, the definition of screenwriters:

"Egomaniacs with low self esteem."

Perhaps too true.

Just my thoughts,


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Humor - Sarcasm - Cynicism

This answer from an interview of Jon Acuff (author of Stuff Christians Like) by Brian Allain caught my attention:

"6. In your opinion, how is humor different from sarcasm/cynicism?

"JA: Humor pokes at ideas and issues, sarcasm pokes at individuals and cynicism pokes at hope. Humor reflects, sarcasm mocks and cynicism attacks. I fail at this constantly but I try to stay on humor’s team."


Earl Palmer talks about negative humor, including humor that diminishes.

"The role of humor in this case is to diminish worth through ridicule and once that emptying has happened a climate of permission to do harm is put into place."

For someone who pokes fun a lot, its good for me to revisit such notions.

Just my thoughts,


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Public Service, Bright Eyes

I was always a big fan of "Total Eclipse of the Heart." Something about it just hits me.

But what that something is can be elusive.

So it is a good thing we have some scholastic aids in examining this song.

First came the literal video, to help us understand the visuals.

Now the flow chart for the lyrics. (Thanks to Jeff for pointing this out.)

I'm starting to understand.

Just my thoughts,


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Give a Damn

A kid I knew from Biola made the news.

He went off to Kenya to make a documentary called “Give a Damn.” He and a small crew of idealistic twenty-somethings.

Part of the gimmick was that during the filming, they would each live on a dollar a day.

While shooting some b-roll scenic shots, the plane they were in crashed.

The missionary pilot died on impact.

Dan’s fellow crew-members, Rob (one of those twenty-somethings, who ironically is part of the project because he’s the guy that doesn’t “give a damn”) pulled Dan and the co-pilot out of the wreckage before it burst into flames.

You can get the story here.

The survivors are stable, although dealing with their injuries.

And they’re staying in Kenya to finish what they started.

You can see more about the doc here.

Just my thoughts,


Friday, August 14, 2009

Will Teach for Food

I get asked "where do you teach?" quite a bit.

Usually I am asked at conferences, or right after talks, or at schools. Often as part of the q & a when I am done teaching a class.

So the real smart aleck answer is: "I teach here. Just now. Weren't you paying attention?"

But instead I say, "Wherever anyone will pay me to teach."

Which sounds like the smart aleck answer. (It isn't; see above for the real smart aleck answer. And start paying attention.)

To prove that I am serious, I am teaching my three hour story structure class tonight.

In a living room in a house in Sherman Oaks.

Yep. Seven people or so, lounging on couches, listening to me lecture.


Not as strange as what happened to my friend Jennifer (or, as she now insists I call her, "The New York Times Best Selling Author, Jennifer." Of course she is just getting back at me for the years I made her call me "the guy that got his article published in a local neighborhood newsletter, Sean." Never shoulda made her do that.)

Upon learning that she gave lectures, she was asked, "Do you do children's parties?"

You will have to ask her how that turned out. I'm too busy getting ready for my first living room class.

Hope there's plenty of chalk for the chalkboard.

Just my thoughts,


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Feeling Good; Feeling Groovy

Last weekend was one of culture.

I attended a script reading; I attended a film festival; I attended a concert.

Writing that just now made me curious, so I looked up “attend” on the ol’ Webster.

'From Latin “attendere,” literally to stretch to, from.'

Maybe I’m attending myself thin these days.

The reading was a private affair, but I can tell you that we had a good time. I got to read the part of an old, black man. Typecast as usual.

That’s me at the Film Fest with friend Graham, film star Joel, love of my life Catherine, film star Shon, and film star Karen.

The fest was the Feel Good Film Festival. Had friends involved in a film that was one of the three screenings that night – so Catherine and I were ready to sit through two pieces of dreck.

Oh, for those that don’t go to film festivals, when several movies are shown in a cluster, on average 2 out of 3 are unwatchable. It’s just a general rule for artsy festivals.

Art is like brussel sprouts, no one will believe it is good for you if it tastes good.

So film fests sprinkle in healthy doses of bad flicks among their good films to keep the museumy street cred up.

Except Feel Good didn’t get the memo, because all three movies were very good.

Two shorts – “Charlie Thistle,” a marvelous look at color coming into dystopia; and “Whose Dog Is It Anyway?” a charmer about a reluctant dog owner.

And a feature, JESUS PEOPLE. I know the folks that wrote it, as well as several of the actors. So I went in expecting a good time.

(I should clarify – the people I know are good at what they do. Just because I know people involved in a project doesn’t guarantee a good time – not everyone I know is skillful at what they do. Hence I have mastered the phrases, “Well, that was interesting,” and “Wow. Really. I mean… Wow.”)

JESUS PEOPLE did not require any such post-show maneuvering – it was very entertaining, and quite well done. A mockumentary about the world’s worst Christian pop band (think THIS IS SPINAL TAP), the film is very funny (painfully so at times – a little too familiar).

It is also moving in parts (especially in the performances of Joel McCrary and Karen Whipple), and sweet (the budding forbidden romance between the documentary subject and the documentary producer – priceless).

The two bowls – Hollywood Bowl (not even in the nosebleed seats) and the cozier Starlight.

The weekend was capped with a picnic on the lawn of the Starlight Bowl in Burbank –although our quiet evening kept getting interrupted by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy insisting on playing songs and getting us to sing along.

Geez, give a band a venue, and the just insist on entertaining. Go figure.

Hi-dee hi-dee hi-dee hi.

Just my thoughts,


Friday, August 07, 2009

What's the Way We Spell Success?

Interesting TED lecture by Alain de Botton about how we measure success.

This is a good start at reshaping the way that we look at goals and achievement. The topic of success is a constant one out here in La-La land, where it seems obvious (the part! the sale! the green light! the box office! the awards!) -- yet isn't at all obvious.

Parts last only so long, sales often turn to nothing, green lights more often than not are yellows waiting to snap red, box office only helps to make one more movie, awards are fleeting.

I remember an interview a few years back with a woman who just won a major acting award. The interview was during the after party, which was fairly wild. When asked why she was partying so hard, with remarkable insight she said (and I paraphrase):

"I have to enjoy the award tonight; by tomorrow morning I will realize that my career will never be this good again."


Two take-aways from Botton:

It is a sin to judge a man by his post. (Augustine)

The problem is that there is nothing at the center that is non-human. (Botton)

Just my thoughts,


Thursday, August 06, 2009

Figured It Out

Craig Ferguson has figured out everything, and I have to say his reasoning is pretty sound.

Just my thoughts,


Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Things for Today

Things that are out and about:

-Friend Jennifer is on the NY Times Best Seller list. Yep, you heard me right. New. York. Times. Woohoo! Couldn’t a happened to a classier dame.

-Janet reports that Act One alum Melissa d’Arabian got her Hollywood gig the hard way – by winning her own show via a reality show. Congrats, Melissa!

-Screenwriter John August is handing out free money advice to writers. Good stuff. My favorite pearl: “Nearly every screenwriter I speak with has a similar story — you’re never as broke as when you first start making money.”

-Are you a hack writer and need advice? Screenwriting tips for hacks was made for you (and me!) Short tidbits, often snarky, but mostly true tips for the writer. Like tip #36: “Stop treating your characters like precious, precious snowflakes. If something horrible doesn’t happen to them at the end of Act 2, why should I care about Act 3?” Or the perfectly stated tip #33: “An ellipsis cannot be made longer by adding more dots. Don’t be that guy.”

-Donald Miller chastises a plumber for doing good work while avoiding being preachy. (And then Don read the comments, and learned that people take things way too literally.)

Just my thoughts,


Monday, August 03, 2009

13 Years And Counting ...

If anyone doubted that we are two silly people ... below is our wedding invitation.

Yes, we had a cartoon as our invitation. I mean, really, what could be more fitting?

Thanks again to Sam Vance for the perfect drawing.

Thank you to all of you who witnessed our vows 13 years ago.

Thank you to our friends who've met us since (even those who had no idea Cath had such big hair, or Sean ever had a goatee!).

Thank you to our parents who trusted us into the Lord's hands.

And thanks most of all, to the Lord, who guided us to each other, and continues to bless our lives exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we ask or seek.

To my best friend : I love you!