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    Sunday, December 24, 2006

    Sunday, December 17, 2006

    Just in time...

    ...for the Holidays.

    Here is a gallery of photos showing kids scared of Santa.

    I'm coming home

    It's not like you didn't know this already, but I'll be in Knoxville from Dec 19 - Jan 2. Don't know what the plans are yet. There will be familial birthdays and holiday hooha as well as shopping the first week I'm back and a small visit to the office so as to set things straight and get money. So, roll out the red carpet, even if you have to bleed out someone on an old used white one. Be on your best behavior, or I might not grant all of your wishes. Leave the liquor cabinet key where I can find it.

    Saturday, December 16, 2006

    So Far

    This is a map of where I've been so far in SOCAL on work. It's actually incomplete because it's missing around 200 red dots because I deleted the original spreadsheet and only have the completion report containing 300 or so that I hadn't completed at that time. There are also some bits cut off, like San Diego to the South, Bakersfield to theNorth, Indio to the South East. However, it does give a good look at where I've been. Done until after the New Year, thank the Gods. I'm a bit tired of driving I have to say.

    Sunday, December 10, 2006

    Saturday, December 09, 2006

    Friday, December 08, 2006

    More Flower Porn

    This flower porn from Alhambra, Ca is dedicated to English Bob who is currently "Freezing his ass off in CT."

    Wednesday, December 06, 2006

    Tuesday, December 05, 2006

    Useless Job Stats

    12246 Photos taken
    97 Sites Surveyed
    7.5 Weeks worked
    59 Average Hours Worked per week
    11 FedEx packages sent
    3 People trained
    4 Times police were called by worried customers
    2 Refusals
    2 Compliments on my fluorescent green vest

    Monday, December 04, 2006

    Friday, December 01, 2006

    Wednesday, November 29, 2006

    Tuesday, November 28, 2006

    Oh Deputy?

    Who says my life isn’t full of Adventure? Well, beside me of course. I did however get locked onto the roof of a bank today in Van Nuys. I first called 411 to get the number of the bank I was on top of, but they connected me to a 818 automated system and there were no live people there, so I then called the Home Office, my home office. I thought if I could get the Project Manager on the line, he could open the spreadsheet of locations and give me the number. He wasn’t there. Next I called the office again to get the front desk, no one was there either. I called four more times and tried four more people I knew, but no one was there. It was roughly 3:00 PM TN time, so I don’t know where they were, but there were not where I needed them to be. Luckily, I eventually saw a Sheriff’s car pull into the lot. As the Deputies neared the building I called down from 50 feet above them and said, “Deputy? Deputy?” The Deputy looked up and the finally looked all of the way up and saw me. “ Could you please tell someone in the Bank that I’m locked on the roof.” “Be glad to,” said the Deputy. Relieved I waited by the door. About ten minutes later the Manger appeared and I walked through the door relived. Support your local Sheriff, I say. Well, maybe not in Knox County, but definitely in Van Nuys. The odd thing is that I’ve now been on approximately 25 roofs out of 85 surveys. Most are trap doors, some are small doors and few are full size doors as the one was today. Not once did I think that if you undid the deadbolts (the sliding kind) and took off the lock, that the door would lock behind you. Now I know. I’m taping the locks from here on out. I have no wish to sit on the roof of a bank any longer than I have to. Truth is I shouldn’t have to worry about these sort of things anyway. Oh Well.

    Monday, November 27, 2006

    Rain Carnage

    It’s raining here today. This doesn’t bode well for work productivity. It’s not just difficult, but almost impossible to carry a clipboard and an umbrella while drawing a siteplan. Then of course is the addition later of a measuring tape to measure, carry clipboard, carry umbrella. This is only the third time I’ve seen rain here since I got here on April 1st. The truth is I’m sure it’s drizzled or rained at night a few times more while I was sleeping and then was evaporated by the time I got up, but that’s impossible to tell. What I can say is that people here drive in the rain the way people in Knoxville drive in the snow, even when it isn’t sticking to the road. On a normal morning when I get up and check the California Highway Patrol web site to make sure there aren’t any major wrecks to reek havoc on my drive, there are roughly about 40 incidents listed and include everything from actual collisions to debris in the road. This morning there are already 160. That’s a 400% increase just because of rain. The rain today is more of a British sort. It’s a steady hard drizzle that coats in minutes and is relentless and almost makes you feel like maybe it’ll go away in a bit seeing as how it isn’t a downpour. It however does not go away and does not give up.

    [UPDATE: Oh well, I've removed the breakdown becasue I just figured out I had it set wrong so my region was out of whack. It was fun while it lasted. Nothing like bad assumptions about bad data to start the day off right.]

    Thursday, November 23, 2006

    Giving Thanks

    Roofie the squirrel praying to the benevolent peanut God on the third floor.

    Happy Thanksgiving

    "Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, Many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest King Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."

    - Edward Winslow, Mourt's Relation

    Wednesday, November 22, 2006

    Thanksgiving pain

    Well, I both broke my tape measure [at the 12" mark, no really it's broken, the metal tape stressed and tore] today and pulled a back muscle [Latissimus Dorsi Muscle, I'd say from the point of discomfort] on my right side this morning, so after one survey I was extremely uncomfortable and came home, although I did stop by Target on the way to get Advil and a new tape measure, therefore I am home and will hopefully get better by Friday so I can finish as many surveys as possible for the week. I wasn't going to work tomorrow anyway, so it seemed a better idea to come home than to painfully survey another two sites and possibly make my back worse. However, sitting as I am in my rickety wooden chair typing this I am probably doing just as much damage.

    So, this has allowed me to lurk about on the net a bit and come-up with a few gems I think people might enjoy. Such as:

    John Rogers over at Kung Fu Monkey, breaks down the John Kerry joke from a stand-up comedian's point of view of why it didn't work.

    Flickr has collected all the metadata from the photos posted on their site and used it to make a digital camera guide.

    The full 1898 "Full Revelations of a Professional Rat Catcher" is availale for free download over at

    The thing that Warren Ellis hates most about our Thanksgiving.

    Saturday, November 18, 2006

    Friday, November 17, 2006

    Indian Room

    Lucky Bastards were drinking at 9:00 AM.

    Thursday, November 16, 2006

    Nothing new

    I’d like to say that something interesting is happening here, but unless surveying banks has suddenly become interesting, I’m afraid I cannot. Since no movement has occurred on any of my stuff, nothing will for now. The TV and Movie industry basically shuts down from Thanksgiving through after the New Year. How exactly they accomplish what they do before that is a bit confusing. There are just too many Holidays for them to keep focus I guess. So, for now it’s just the banks. You never know, maybe after a little rest and relaxation, someone will pick-up something of mine and read it, assuming they haven’t used it for a Yule Log before then.

    Wednesday, November 15, 2006

    Friday, November 10, 2006

    RIP: Volodymyr Palanyuk

    Jack Palance (February 18, 1919– November 10, 2006)

    Thursday, November 09, 2006

    Hart to Hart

    Don't say I'm not outgoing. OK, so I'm not, but Andrea and Ernie were as the crime fighting duo of Hart to Hart. You know, Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers. Yes, it was after the boat incident, just ask Christopher Walken. See my dear, you've made the blog again. How special do you feel? Sorry Ernie, I was talking to Andrea. Although I have to say that's some nice plastic hair you've got going. Your eyebrows remind me of Jude Law from "A.I.". Me, I didn't dress up. I never do on Halloween, because serial killers look just like you and I.

    Sad really

    Tuesday, November 07, 2006

    SO FAR

    So Far, I've surveyed 52 sites, which includes 2 refusals and I've taken 5639 photos. It's about 25% below what I thought I could do, because they've been larger than I thought and it's definitely been hotter that I thought it would be. Heading into Compton tomorrow. No one out here wants to roll with me, so I'll be going alone. Peace Dog.

    Monday, November 06, 2006


    Post that you voted in the comments. I don't care who you voted for, just let me know that you did. Long live democracy, or at least what passes for it here in the US.

    Report vote-machine problems to 1-866-OUR-VOTE
    If you experience any irregularities in voting today, call 1-866-OUR-VOTE, the hotline for the National Campaign for Fair Elections. EFF lawyers and many others are standing by across the country to take legal action to remove malfunctioning voting machines, keep polls open, etc.

    Sunday, November 05, 2006

    Stranger in a strange land

    Quote of the day

    There are only two kinds of people who are really fascinating: people who know absolutely everything, and people who know absolutely nothing.
    - Oscar Wilde

    Saturday, November 04, 2006

    Prayer Changes Things

    Casting Spells

    My nephew Cooper casts a spell on you. Now you have to do what I say. He also proves that it isn't just the wand, but a combination of facial contortions and left hand jiggery pokery that really give the thing its power.

    Thursday, November 02, 2006

    Quote of the day

    An alcoholic is someone you don't like who drinks as much as you do.
    - Dylan Thomas

    Wednesday, November 01, 2006

    No Idea

    I have no idea why I wrote this last night before going to bed.

    Normally when I hit a new town the first thing I do is find a place to sleep and the second is find a place to drink, so I can. Tonight wasn’t going to be like that and I could smell it. To be specific, when I left the motel room all I could smell was flesh. Flesh charred so black there was no doubting it was done. The smell clung to my nose hairs and lingered long after I had my first shot of whiskey. The odd thing was that I seemed to be the only person bothered by it.

    People talk, they can’t help it, it’s what we do to make sure that our life is actually that and not some demented pig dream we never wake from. But no one had mentioned the smell yet and I was starting to think maybe I was going crazy. When the bartender brought me my third shot, I opened my mouth to ask him about it. Before I even had time to force air into my larynx, the bartender held my eyes solid in a steel trap of a gaze and shook his head, “No”. He held my eyes a moment longer waiting to see if I got it, and I did. I haven’t lasted this long by running naked into thorn bushes, if you know what I mean.

    The third shot went down like battery acid, so I could only assume that he’d made sure to poor me a shot of bar mat run-off to punctuate his point. The next time I ordered I got a beer and watched it go from tap to glass. He brought it over and let me know it was on him. I dropped a few dollars tip out of politeness and sat there hoping it’d relieve the burn in my throat.

    Back at the motel I passed out dreaming of barbeque.

    The sun was like a cruel God blinding me for my own good. It punched through the cheap curtains of the room and it didn’t much matter which way I rolled, it made my eyelids seem transparent and rebellious to their purpose. When I finally relented and rolled over, the clock on the bedside table laughed 7:00 AM. I coughed up some mucus and swallowed it for breakfast then rolled out and up and tried to stand. As usual, the band in my head kicked in and made me sit back down as the thunderclouds rolled across my eyes.

    At first I thought I smelled bacon coming across the lot from the Diner, but then I realized it was the same smell from the night before. The smell of bacon turned to charred human flesh in a instant and I almost puked, but not before I felt hungry. Something was wrong in this town and I was pretty sure it was the kind of wrong that not only got people like me killed, but possibly eaten too.

    No man can fight hunger for long, even if they are disgusted by their surroundings. The human has an amazing ability to choose what they suppress and for me that was a desire to find out what was really happening here. First things first; shower, cigarette, drink and breakfast. Not necessarily in that order.

    Breakfast is for me something of an anathema. I get it, the body is a furnace and you have to feed the fire, but I’ve never figured out why someone can’t just combine a multi-vitamin with beer.


    It begins! Or at least it does for those of you who have spare time.

    National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

    Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

    Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

    Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

    Tuesday, October 31, 2006

    October Country

    I'll let a writer much better than myself give you something to chew on this Halloween. Neil Gaiman's OP-ED for The New York Times.

    Monday, October 30, 2006

    4:51 PM

    Eye of the colon

    Banks and more banks

    Another week of bank surveying. Luckily the weather here is going to hold in the high 60s to mid 70s this week, which will be a nice change of pace from standing outside in high 80s to 90s. It should allow me to be a little more productive and a little less sweaty at the end of the day. Would like to say there is more going on here, but alas it is job through February. Hopefully something will break before I do.

    I do need to get a lamp though. I find that by 6 PM it's too dark in my apartment for me to read. It seems the old I get the more light I need flooding into my eyes. The overheads aren't bright enough and I'd feel too wierd turning on the heat lamp in the bathroom to read.

    Oh well, off to the races.

    Sunday, October 29, 2006

    Saturday on the town

    Last night turned out to be a nice change of pace from my ordinarily dull life. My friend Andrea came in town to visit one of her best friends from college, Ernie. I met them out at The Abbey where there was much deep thrumming dance music and overly wrought costumed revelers. Being as The Abbey is one of the more popular gay bars in West LA, there was also things such as people dressed as “Mark Follee”, name changed to protect the guilty, putting stickers on people’s crotches. With Ernie, often to his chagrin, being like a bug-light that unfortunately did not kill off all of the flies it attracted. The poor fellow is evidently what a great number of people are looking for. But, instead of getting welcomed bump-and-goes, he seemed to attract the “lingerers”. One of them was an all right guy, wearing sunglasses to hide his obvious previous ingesting of something illicit, which was most likely X since he had a need to touch everything. Unfortunately the later one followed him from the urinals, so one had to conclude he was more of a “drain fly”. Of course, with it being the Saturday before Halloween, a great deal of the revelers were decked out in costume, but being LA, it was impossible to tell which ones were doing it for the holiday and which ones were simply wearing what they normally did for a night out at a gay bar. Andrea of course flittered about doing what she does best, which is start trouble. It’s the good kind of trouble though. Get a few drinks in that girl and she’ll ask anyone anything. It’s also the first time I’ve been anywhere and had liquor since I’ve been out here. I’ve strictly sticking to beer, but it was a nice change of buzz.

    Well, we wrapped it up around 1:00 AM and I finally found the bus stop and got a little taste of late night bus riding, which wasn’t too bad really. Reset the clock when I got home, but woke up at 8:00 AM anyway. I’ve been drinking coffee and catching up on TV ever since. Watched ep 4 of Studio 60 and ep 11 of season 2 of Weeds. I really should write more about what I’m watching. Then again I really should be doing a lot of things I’m not.

    Wednesday, October 25, 2006

    Six Word Stories

    Wired did it, so why can't I?

    I hit her, she hit me.

    I lose my future, tomorrow. You?

    Think dammit! It all ends now.

    One bullet is never enough anymore.

    I opened my coat. Worlds collided.

    Engage. Sir? There's a Super Nova.

    Six word stories aren't that easy.

    Tuesday, October 24, 2006

    Internet was down

    Sun Oct. 22 2006

    Writing this while the main Internet connection is down. I’ll post it as soon as I have a new or old link back. I didn’t even know it was a Holiday.

    The first week of work left me a bit thin. I didn’t quite hit the 20 site mark I’d hoped for. Only got 15, which was more than I needed to but not as many as I’d promised. Of course they did send me on a 5-hour “fool’s errand” that killed a chunk of time I should have been surveying. I think I wasn’t ready mentally or physically for the new contract to begin. I should be up to speed this week though. Once in the groove, I need to carve writing time into the whole week, even if it’s just an hour a day. Don’t know when that’ll be, I’ll just have to wait and see. I’m hoping to take Sundays off, which shouldn't be a problem seeing as how there is a security issue at the sites and I would rather be turned in to an employee who’s manager knows I’m there rather than to the cops. That could be a pain in the ass. Today I paid bills, read comics, and talked to the parents, which is how Sundays should be. Sometime next week I’m going to have to get new break pads as the squeaking has begun which means there’s metal making love near my wheels. There’s also a funny noise from the steering column, or at least it sound that way. Hopefully it’ll be solved with the break pads as well.

    Mon Oct 23, 2006

    “RHI has cut a deal with Sci Fi Channel to produce up to 10 monster films over the next two years, title which Sci Fi will have license to for a period of seven years. According to Variety, RHI will maintain all home video, new media and VOD rights of the films. The upcoming titles include Blood Monkey, Eye of the Beast, Maneater and Grizzly Rage. While termed as being "low-budget monster films", each title is expected to be produced with a budget exceeding the usual $2.2 million because of the additional rights RHI will maintain.”

    And, here is the reason DEADWOOD died. I don’t think it was a fair trade.

    “HBO has ordered 11 episodes of the pilot project “John from Cincinnati” from producer David Milch. The series is about a young wealthy guy, John, who goes to California to surf and stays with the Yost family, a multi-generational and strongly dysfunctional family of ex-surfer champs.”

    Well, it turns out that today is the day I get to take my car in and have the break pads replaced seeing as how by the time I got to the first location this morning the high pitched metal touching metal sound was pretty much a constant and was now occurring when I drove, not just when I used the brakes. Thinking I’d go somewhere after the first location, I turned the corner to find its parking garage closed. So after much mental debate in a McDonald’s parking lot I headed back to 13th and Pico to a brake shop that was recommended to me. Upon arriving thirty minutes later I found it was appointment only and that just wouldn’t cut it. So I went to the only Toyota dealership I knew of in the area. I got there about 9:00 AM and they said they’d get to it by lunchtime and call me back. So I left to take the bus home. Of course I forgot to grab my apartment key off the ring but luckily realized it after only walking five blocks. After I got the key I walked about 10 blocks before deciding that the bus was definitely the right idea. Now at home, 2 hours after dropping off my car I await the call and the inevitable hemorrhage inducing damage total all the while hoping that I didn’t warp my rotors.

    1 hour later

    Oh well, just got the call. While I didn’t warp the brakes, they will need to be machined a bit since there was some metal crunching. “That’ll be four hours from now and $405.00,” please. I asked if they’d throw in an oil change and they said, “An oil change will be $27.99.” I think I’ll go to EZLUBE for that, it’s cheaper there and comes with a car wash. Oddly enough the rear brakes are still at 50%. How does one break wear two times faster than another? I can only guess that the last time the pads were replaced, only the rear ones were replaced. I feel dirty, like someone touched me in my secret money place.

    I’m now monetarily 8 sites behind with the breaks and the advance on the work. Sweet. Maybe something else can go wrong. That’d be dandy.

    Hiding behind comic books until dirty Toyota Dealership Repair Shop guy calls me back to come pick-up my car.

    4 Hours later

    I got the car back. It was only $390.04. So, they must have finished about two minutes before they expected saving me $16.00 in labor. The bonus was that they washed my car, which around here is a $15 - $20 value. The point however, is that everything feels tighter which gave me considerable more driving confidence when I left the dealership and that is priceless. Remember kids, when metal makes love, it’s already too late.

    Sunday, October 22, 2006


    Went to the comic store yesterday and picked up the following, which made me somewhat happier than I was before I went in. Plus, it turned out to be their 13th anniversary so I got 25% off. Can't beat that with a stick.

    I also picked-up the first 5 issues of Matt Fraction & Gabriel Ba's CASANOVA. It's their "dose" take on the 16 page format pioneered by Warren Ellis with FELL, of which I also picked-up the 5th issue.

    Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse
    #3 by Ben Templesmith (unfortunately missed #2)

    Criminal #1 by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

    Jack of Fables #1-3 A spin off of FABLES by Bill Willingham. It's probably one of my favorite continuing series in years, Fables that is, and I did it all with collected GNs, but alas I do miss getting a monthly issues fix.

    And finally, DESOLATION JONES #7 by Warren Ellis.

    Ah comics. Smile.

    Oh well, there seems to be something wrong with the Amazon Associates html so the pictures don't load. Oh well. What was there was INVINCIBLE vol 2 and vol 3 ans B.P.R.D. Vol 2.

    Thursday, October 19, 2006

    I'm boring you, aren't I?

    Sorry there hasn't been anything new of late. Trust me, I'm bored too. Look to the future, there will be something I suspect.

    From CA:


    Professor Nightshade is sitting in a chair enjoying a cup of coffee. He stares at the rest, who have each been tied to a chair. One of the Assassins is just finishing up tying down Edmund, who winces a bit as the ropes are pulled taunt.

    Is this Kenyan?

    You Bloody Bastard.

    (to Johnathan)
    There are ladies present.

    Speak for yourself, Tuffed up like a Judy. I can’t believe I used to make me good stew for ya’.

    Your stew Ms. Dandridge, was always as common as your tongue.

    That will be enough of that Sir!

    Still the loyal lapdog Edmund?

    Prof. Nightshade gives the whole group a good look.

    Common every one of you.

    Untie me, I’ll show you common.

    Prof. Nightshade laughs.

    I’m sure you could Mr. Montana.

    Prof. Nightshade gets up, placing his cup on the table.

    But unfortunately I don’t have time to dabble in such pleasures.

    He RAPS his cane twice on the floor.

    THROUGH the door a MAN enters in an armor suit with a tank on his back. He has goggles on and in his hand is a long metal staff connected by a hose to the tank. A small flame flickers on the end of the staff. It’s a FLAMETHROWER.

    I’m afraid I must be going now.

    Johnathan is ENRAGED. He struggle against the ropes binding him.

    You have no right.

    Prof. Nightshade turns with a flourish and walks for the exit. He passes the Man with the flamethrower.

    Burn it down. Burn it ALL down.

    Monday, October 16, 2006

    Things I've learned

    If you take a "knob Creek" corked bottle top and stick it into a beer bottle, it fits perfectly, allowing you to only drink a bit of beer and still have it fresh the next day. It's not like your bourbon will go bad. So, keep your Knob Creek cork tops for more enjoyable beer drinking. I do!

    p.s. I'll write up a little something about how I got to see the first four episodes of the 3rd season of Battlestar Galactica on the big screen this past Sunday. But not now, I'm tired. EJO was there and so was number 6 (Caprica 6). Suffer.

    Saturday, October 14, 2006


    Just for the sake of showing you how I get where I am going when I work, here is a map of the spider's web of freeways in a roughly 40 mile by 50 mile bit of LA. I live at the bright green dot on the far left of the map just above the 405/2 crossing to the right of the 2, which is Santa Monica Blvd. I've been on all of them now, except for the toll roads and I've been on two of them. Now, for those of you in Knoxville, think about how much better just having the 40 is, even if it is a pain sometimes.

    Leaving a Mark

    Space Porn

    Week in Review

    Well, it’s been a full week here, and by full week I mean I had a great deal to do, none of which had anything to do with writing or creativity, unless you include the creative ways I stayed alive driving the freeways of LA and the writing I did while filling out surveys and scribbling siteplans.

    Speaking of siteplans, they look something like this, although there are no photo points on this one and so it’s like 85% complete.

    Monday Oct 9

    Trained a few people down in San Juan Capistrano. They arrived about a little over an hour late so I sat in my car waiting. We trained on two sites and one of them forgot to wear sensible shoes, so she sat down and had the other person I was training yell the measurements across the parking lot to her. Which was not too bad in this instance since it was Columbus day and the banks were closed. Evidently, most Americans, and especially “new” Americans don’t really have a collective conscience of Columbus Day, so there were about 200 people between the two banks that kept walking up to the entrance doors and yanking on them even though there was a bright red sign on one of the doors telling them it was closed for a holiday. They insisted on yanking the door numerous times to confirm that it was indeed locked before they chose to actually read anything. Once they figured it out, there seemed to be only two possible reactions. Some of them laughed at their forgetfulness of the holiday, the others would get really angry and storm off cursing the bank under their breath.

    Cities visited: San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente

    Tuesday Oct 10

    Had the day off, so I wrote a bit and read the news and e-mailed with people.

    Wed Oct 11

    Switched to the other survey job and did 5 locations. It’s a different deal involving collecting data related to POP shipments for the gas station locations surveyed. One of the major Gas Station chains is converting all of their stores, so once construction is complete, I do these surveys for the marketing company that sends them their ads to post about the inside and outside advertising whatever deals there are or for PSAs about good things like Race for the Cure. These are pretty straight forward and take about an hour with photographs. The problem is that since they are based on conversion completion, the sites have no real relation in distance. So It was over 200 miles of driving to get to the five. A bit of a pain really. The nice thing about doing these is that they all have available restrooms which is the most annoying thing when doing sites like banks, where you have to find a restroom in a mall or a gas station close or something when you feel the need. Plus you can grab a drink or a snack right there when done.

    Cities visited: Riverside, Corona, Rancho Cucamonga, La Mirada, Bellflower

    Thur Oct 12

    This was another training day. I had to go to Bakersfield, which is a little over a two hour drive from LA. It’s up the 5, which is a somewhat winding sort of interstate that gains and loses 1000s of ft of elevation over a few mile stretches. It’s a pretty drive, but there are so many tractor trailers on the road that it gets a little problematic. They have to stay in the right lane and go about 30 miles an hour slower than everyone else incase they lose it on the 6% downgrades. It was a bit ironic that the only place I could smell the left over odor of the Day Fire, one of the largets fires in California History, was for about a two mile stretch before and after the “Smokey Bear Rd.” exit. The mountains in the distance looked like they’d been powdered with charcoal dust and stood out stark and gray against the yellow of the untouched hills and ranges in the foreground.

    This training went a little better. The guy and his wife were prepared and it went somewhat smoothly. They’d brought their dog “Grim” who slept in the back of their pick-up while we worked. He was some pit-bull mix. The wife sat in the car after about the first half of the first site. She's a larger gal and I think didn't realize there was as much walking involved as there is. They bailed after two sites so I finished the third one on my own then got back on the road for LA around 4:30 which got me back about 10 til 7:00. So it was a 5/7 day. Five hours on the road and seven in the field, which is about average for the sites on the periphery of my range, which is roughly a 135 mile radius.

    Fri Oct 13

    Did two more gas station sites in the morning which took 4 hours of field and drive time. I also stopped at Home Depot and picked up a measuring wheel since I have to get building and street frontage for these things. I then came back to the apartment and finished the paper work and knocked out the invoices which took about 2.5 hours.

    Cities visited: Aliso Viejo, Costa Mesa

    So for the week, working 4 days, I put in about 50 hours all totaled and drove about 600 miles. This is why I didn’t really have time to post. So, now that I’ve bored you with my week I shall leave you with the thought that at least tomorrow I get to watch the third season premiere of Battlestar Galactica on the big screen at the Egyptian Theater with at least one of the cast. Which was the only thing I had to look forward to this week.

    Tuesday, October 10, 2006

    Three Weeks In



    OCTOBER 10, 2006
    The Programming Insider

    Marc Berman

    Three weeks into the 2006-07 season, here is an update on the new prime time entries (with original time periods in parentheses):

    -The Knights of Prosperity (Tues. 9 p.m.): On hold; will be replaced by benched sitcom Big Day in November.
    -Help Me Help You (Tues. 9:30 p.m.): Declining by about 50 percent from lead-in Dancing With the Stars.
    -The Nine (Wed. 10 p.m.): Disappointing opening performance.
    -Ugly Betty (Thurs. 8 p.m.): The new hit of the season based on two episodes.
    -Six Degrees (Thurs. 10 p.m.): Losing more than one-half the audience of lead-in Grey’s Anatomy, with significant tune-out at 10:30 p.m.
    -Men in Trees (Fri. 9 p.m.): Fading fast.
    -Brothers & Sisters (Sun. 10 p.m.): Losing about one-third of its Desperate Housewives lead-in.

    -The Class (Mon. 8 p.m.): Flipped time periods with How I Met Your Mother; now airing Monday at 8:30 p.m. Weak initial start in new time period.
    -Smith (Tues. 10 p.m.): Canceled.
    -Jericho (Wed. 8 p.m.): Surprisingly potent after three telecasts.
    -Shark (Thurs. 10 p.m.): Losing about one-third of its CSI lead-in.

    -Heroes (Mon. 9 p.m.): Renewed for the full season.
    -Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (Mon. 10 p.m.): Losing steam every week.
    -Friday Night Lights (Wed. 8 p.m.): The lights were dark in week one.
    -30 Rock (Wed. 8 p.m.): Debuting tomorrow.
    -20 Good Years (Wed. 8:30 p.m.): Debuting tomorrow.
    -Kidnapped (Wed. 10 p.m.): Closing down production and burning off the remaining episodes Saturday at 8 p.m.

    -Vanished (Mon. 9 p.m.): Shifting to Friday at 8 p.m. in place of Nanny 911.
    -Standoff (Tues. 8 p.m.): Flipping time periods with lead-out House as planned.
    -Justice (Wed. 9 p.m.): Moving to Monday at 9 p.m. in place of Vanished.
    -‘Til Death (Thurs. 8 p.m.): Waiting for the axe to swing.
    -Happy Hour (Thurs. 8:30 p.m.): Canceled (or, to quote Fox. “on hiatus”)

    -Runaway (Mon. 9 p.m.): Moving to Sunday at 9 p.m. out of the relocated 7th Heaven after two DOA telecasts.
    -The Game (Sun. 8:30 p.m.): Moved from Sunday at 8:30 p.m. to Monday at 9:30 p.m. also after two telecasts.

    Ratings Box:
    What’s Hot/What’s Not

    -Respectable Start for Sci Fi’s Battlestar Galactica:
    The two-hour, third-season premiere of Sci Fi Channel’s Battlestar Galactica was the top-rated cable series on Friday, Oct. 6, with a 1.8 household rating and 2.2 million viewers. Comparatively, however, that was still down by 900,000 viewers from the season two opener in July 2005 (3.1 million).

    -Friday Night Smackdown! Dominates Among Young Men:
    The CW’s Friday Night Smackdown! finished Friday, Oct. 6 as the top-rated show among men 18-34 (2.0/ 8), according to the fast nationals. It also finished second among men 18-49 (1.8/ 6) and third among adults 18-34 (1.6/ 6), ahead of ABC and Fox. Growth over former WB comedies What I Like About You. Grounded For Life, Reba and a repeat of Blue Collar TV on the year-ago evening was as much as 233 percent among men 18-34.

    -Final Friday Nationals:
    For the final Friday national rating results, click on, then on 1) Ratings Box and 2) Last Night’s Results.

    Source: Nielsen Media Research data

    Monday, October 09, 2006

    Why Sci-Fi was born

    Valid or not, I wrote what follows as an automatic writing moment upon viewing the first episode of season three of Battlestar Galactica. Don't worry, I don't know what it all means either.

    It is with the greatest sense of the word homage that Battlestar Galactica looks to the reason Science Fiction was born. It takes the trials and indignations of the present, both personal and political and gives them voice so that they might sing their plight beyond the specifics of any country, culture, or personal dogma. It is to allow the feeble human brain a moment to step back and look at the circumstances of the presnt without the filter of religion, nationalism, or self and see fully, through fiction, the face that stands before us all in the mirror. For this I give them the greatest of humble accolades. Sure, there is some vestige and residue of human interference here, even writers of science fiction can only remove themselves so far, but I believe that they have done an admirable job of weaving the present with the future so that me might still have a chance to see tomorrow. It is what science fiction is for, to allow discussion of things present, masked in the fiction of a place much removed. I hope that it is successful, and begins much discussion. It is better to talk of things even if they are thinly disguised, rather than to let them go by as we turn our heads in shame to our own thoughts. Of course this opinion, like many more can easily be undone, should those in charge falter in their vision. So, consider this a secular prayer to the formless things that lurk between the atoms. May season three live up to the first episode, and may season four be so strong that it shakes the very foundations of fiction, spinning it into prescience of fact. I stand in awe not of what I believe to be something radically new, but of something old, that still wields such power.

    Friday, October 06, 2006

    BG Season 3

    Well, I don't have a TV at the moment, so while everyone else out there geeks out on the first episode of Battlestar Galactica season 3 tonight, I'll just have to wait until Sunday when I get to see it on the big screen with "Hotdog". Living here has its moments.

    [UPDATE: Hotdog just informed me that it isn't until next Sunday, but still.]

    Thursday, October 05, 2006

    Clouds Finally

    Fall 2007 TV Season

    So, since I have a limited television access situation, it's going to be hard to see everything I want. I have to work for my TV, in a way, so I'm only paying attention to the following shows this year and hopefully will get to see most of them. Some of them have already ended for the Summer season, but I'm still working to see them, if you know what I mean. So, the only shows I consider worth the effort this year are as follows (in alphabetical order):

    Battlestar Galactica
    Doctor Who (When it returns)
    Eureka (Almost Over)
    Extras (Almost Over)
    Gilmore Girls
    My Name Is Earl
    Stargate Atlantis (Almost over)
    Stargate SG 1 (Almost over)
    Torchwood (When it starts)
    Veronica Mars

    I'm sure there is at least one more out there worth watching, but I'll have to catch it on the flip side. On the positive side, you all will probably see them before I will.

    Monday, October 02, 2006

    CA First Hour

    Finally finished the first draft of the first hour of CA. It took longer than I thought it would for many reasons that are not limited to computer crash, my inability to type and having to retype, distraction, work, other projects, etc. Hopefully the second half will go more quickly, like this week since I start training some people next week and then start working 6 days a week the week after that until sometime in February or March. Fun Fun Fun. But at least this is done for now. So, moving on then.

    Sunday, October 01, 2006

    The Proposition

    Just watched The Proposition last night. It's one of the best westerns I've seen in a while, with the exception of Deadwood of course, and what makes it doubly interesting is that the setting isn't the untamed west of the Americas, but the equally untaimed continent of Australia. The performances are pitch perfect and the story is brutal and honest. Written by one of my favorite song writers Nick Cave and directed by John Hillcoat, whom I've never seen work by, it is an affecting look at brotherhood in a more violent veign of Of Mice and Men. It is by turns both brutal and poetic, some might be turned off by the violence, but then again it is a tone poem to the very violence that underlines that period of Australian history. Definitly not for everyone., but perfect for me.

    Saturday, September 30, 2006

    Film School Journal

    A random entry from the journal I kept for the firt two years of Film School.

    Date: 01.24.98
    Time: 12:22 am (01.25.98)
    Location: Apartment

    Movies Watched: Fallen Angels *** 1/2 Dir Kar Wei Wong-As usual, Wong delivers one of the most visual stunning movies. The story is trademark Wong. Two stories, one about a hitman and his partner, the other the story of a mute ex-con trying to make it. The characters cross each others path only on the very periphery.
    TV Watched:
    Books Read:

    Breakfast: coffee,
    Lunch: grape nuts, coke, gold fish
    Dinner: shrimp chow mein, egg roll, fried rice, wonton soup

    Places Gone: Dodge, Film Forum, Hell, The Belmont

    Entry: Woke a little after 11:00 am and got ready. Went to school and started editing/ Had to re-digitize so I read DARK TOWER book two. Worked on it for a couple of hours until Tom showed up. Sarah and Sarah were with him. The said they were going to see FALLEN ANGELS at the Film Forum. While Tom shows his sister and her friend around I looked up the show times on the web. They decided to go to the 4:40 PM SHOW. I Thought about it for a few minutes and decided to go with them.

    Needless to say, this was the start of a long and fruitless day. The subway at 116 th was shut down so we had to catch the bus and ride it to 96 th. We caught the subway and headed downtown. It was already 4:00 pm when we boarded the subway. We got to the Film Forum a little after 4:20 pm and bought our tickets. We got one for Stuart even though we weren't sure if he would make it. The only seats left in the theater were on the front row. Stuart showed just before the movie began.

    After the movie we walked to a little Chinese/Cuban restaurant on eighth that Stuart knew of. After dinner we walked to the meat-packing district and went to a bar called HELL. We were basically the only people there since it was just before 8:00 pm. Tom made some phone calls to Manuel, Jessica Wing, and Todd. Jessica and Manuel both showed. We sat around drinking and talking as the bar around us filled to beyond capacity. Stuart actually knows the owner. Jessica left an hour after she got there to meet a friend to go dancing. She tried to convince Tom to come. Stuart also had to leave to meet a friend at THE ROXY. Tom, Sarah, Sarah, Manuel, and Stuart were all waiting outside for me as I waited next to the bar trying to get my credit card back.

    It took about ten minutes, but I finally joined them outside. Tom wanted us to go with Manuel to The Belmont. Stuart had worn a sued jacket so he and I switched and I let him wear my yellow all weather. Stuart started walking to THE ROXY and the rest of us crammed into a cab. Normally cabs aren't allowed to take five people at a time, but we had just extricated his cab from a pothole so he returned the favor.

    It was raining and snowing as we stood on the sidewalk waiting to get into the club. We were getting wet so Tom, myself, Sarah, and Sarah decided to leave. We were about twenty feet down the sidewalk when Manuel called after us. We returned and got into the club. I had run completely out of cash. Tom bought me a beer with Sarah's money and we stood around drinking in this “hip” crowded space. At one point we saw Keanu Reeves with his head shaved walking about like any lone male in a bar would.

    We left the bar about forty minutes later and caught cabs uptown to the film school party. It was a little after midnight when we arrived. I ended up staying until a little after three when the guy whose apartment we were using closed the party down. I was drunk to say the least and walked home weaving like a drunk. Got home and got ready for bed as best I could. There was a message on my machine. Stuart had left the keys to his apartment in the jacket he had allowed Sarah to borrow. I passed out on the bed and slept.

    Wednesday, September 27, 2006

    Breaking Eureka

    This is probably only of interest to me, but John Rogers, one of the driving forces behind the Global Frequency pilot lays it out on his blog. He was hired in as a freelance writer on Eureka before they even shot the first episode beyond the pilot. It's pretty standard if you want to know how a drama show is broken, more specifically a Sci-Fi one, especially if a freelance writer is involved.

    PART 1
    PART 2
    PART 3

    He Tells Me

    Lying down there, stiff and cold,
    He tells me stories new and old.
    He tells me things he shouldn’t know,
    He tells me as his muscles show.
    He tells me through his rotting face,
    He tells me of a special place.
    He tells me how to get in there,
    He tells me why and how and where.
    He tells me of the things I’ll find.
    He tells me how to kill and bind,
    The things that ate his hopes and dreams.
    The things from which all darkness streams.
    The things that live down in the earth.
    The things that writhe and still give birth.
    The things that smell of retched death.
    The things that give off rotted breath.
    The things that used to be like me,
    The things that I will soon set free.

    [© 2006 Greg Bunch]

    The Hole

    The hole is dark, the hole is deep,
    The hole is where the Angels sleep,
    The Angels from a distant place,
    The Angels from the darkest space,
    The Angels who will lead us to,
    The places that we never knew,
    The places where the Evil lies,
    The Evil with a thousand eyes.
    The Evil that will bring us to,
    The truth that we are evil too.

    [© 2006 Greg Bunch]

    Within This House

    Within this house, upon this hill,
    Within its rooms where walls are still,
    Within the walls the things are breeding,
    Within themselves the cells are seeding,
    Sowing something new and dark,
    Sowing something bleak and stark,
    Sowing something full of bile,
    Sowing something black and vile.
    Something that will soon appear,
    Something that will feed on fear,
    Something that will spread like lies
    Something that will bring the flies,
    The flies will lay their eggs on you,
    Your body rigid, fearful, blue.

    [© 2006 Greg Bunch]

    Tuesday, September 26, 2006

    Below Something Rages

    Beneath the stars, beneath the sky,
    Below the buildings watchful eye,
    Beneath the lamps, beneath the streets,
    Below the ground, where something sleeps.
    Beneath the tunnels, beneath the trains,
    Below the sewage pipes and drains,
    Beneath the water, beneath the rocks,
    Below a thousand ages, Knocks
    Something trapped within a cage.
    Imprisoned here before this age.
    Something made of timeless stuff.
    Something breathing deep and rough.
    Something full of ageless rage.
    Breaks again, against its cage,
    Breaks against the smooth hewn walls,
    Against the runes and magic scrawls,
    Against the spells and bloody curses
    Against these very stone etched verses.
    Against the walls that sprung from fear,
    Against the wall, where cracks appear.

    [© 2006 Greg Bunch]

    Falls Past

    In looking toward the coming fall, for which I will have no delight here in LA, I proffer a moment from 2001, or there abouts, written while house sitting for my parents. It is from before the planes, so it must have been from the month of August.


    I like to read on the deck. The wind blows lightly across your face as the sun warms you. The light reflecting off the pages of the book is just right when viewed through a nice pair of sunglasses. So, since I’ve arrived here in Tennessee, that is exactly what I’ve done. I even positioned one of the nice cushioned outdoor chairs into just the right spot. In doing so, however, I made one crucial mistake. For above my chair protruding over the roof of the house was a very large limb of a very large Oak tree. Now as most people know, Oak trees have acorns. Who loves acorns? Squirrels of course. What is the rate of acceleration of an object in free fall? 9.8 ms2. Or at least that’s what I remember it to be. I got a “D” in Physics in High School. It is one thing to be Isaac Newton and have an apple fall on your head, which inspires your deduction of gravity, and it is quite another to be trying to read while you are rained upon by half eaten acorns dropped by voracious carefree squirrels.

    You would think that with winter coming they would deftly cleave from each seed all the nutrients it can provide. But alas no, they simply tear it open take a few bites and launch it downward. Sometimes their simple scurrying alone can unleash a deluge of carpeting assault. I stand, or sit actually, my ground as all around me echo the TINKS, CLINKS, CLANKS, and THUMPS of acorns as the ricochet off the wood decking or the glass topped table to my side. I hold firmly to my book, endeavoring to connect each word in its appropriate order and make meaning of its underlying truth, while listening in an effort to avoid being thunked in the head. The one good thing that has come from this is that I now have a keen ear for acorn acceleration. If they hit the roof first, I can predict whether I need to duck or not by the sound they make ramping down the overhang. Even with this newfound skill, if this keeps up I’ll have to unleash my secret weapon.

    As I have mentioned in previous musings, my cat Pascal enjoys being outside. He also, like most cats, enjoys killing small rodents. While I am against killing for pleasure, I do appreciate the way the squirrels react once I have unleashed my furry response to their incessant onslaught. To accurately capture the sound that squirrels make when alarmed by the approach of a predator, one would have to use the word “bark”. This is uttered by the lookout, whose job it is to, well, lookout; this is usually accomplished by turning upside down on the tree, so as to keep an eye on the enemy, and unleashing a series of staccato barks. Once this is accomplished all other squirrels in the vicinity head for the nearest tree. Once everyone is accounted for they all follow suit and begin barking. I have to wonder if this does not give a small rush of power to my cat. I know it would to me if I was to walk down the street and have everyone around me run to their roofs and begin barking down at me “Go away, we are afraid of you.” I have to assume my cat feels similarly. The cat firmly positioned on the deck in repose, still within any given squirrel’s sight line, I can return to my book. After a few pages the incessant barking of five or six squirrels becomes merely background white noise which is easily tuned out.

    Now some of you might say that I simply could have moved my chair and avoided all this in the first place. To you I say “Are you not willing to fight for what is rightly yours? Are you not willing to prevail in the face of free falling partially eaten acorns?” It is my belief that you are and would indeed do so. Illiteracy in this country shall not be governed by greedy cheek stuffing rats, who wish only to take as much as they can to survive the winters of their lives. I shall not be daunted by this rodent campaign to dumb down America. So, here I sit having weathered the most vicious attacks. There are still a few errant sniper situations on occasion, but the greater threat has now passed. The furry little buggers now scavenge the ground in an effort to finish what they have started, but here I sit, book in hand, occasionally dodging to the left or right as need be, engaged in the activity I find most gratifying, reading.



    I miss Tennessee, I miss the fall and most specifically the squirrels.

    [© 2001 Greg Bunch]

    Monday, September 25, 2006

    Double the pleasure

    I am overwhelmed with joy. I just cooked my first pound of bacon in California. Puuuuuuuurrrrrrrr! -and - My mom sent me a care package full of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

    Acting Out

    Four acts, five acts, six acts a peso, all for more ads, stand up and say so.

    It’s getting more complicated every day for new writers to stay on top of the shifting act structure of American television, or at least American television of the four major networks. If you wrote a spec scrip for say CSI, you wrote it in a four act structure with a teaser on the front end as a hook. However, if you send that around it isn’t going to the people at CSI, it’s going to people at shows like Numb3rs or Criminal Minds, because no one reads specs of their own shows. They read specs of shows that are in a similar vein to see if the writer knows basic structure and can adhere to the characters of a given show. The problem with this is that Numb3rs or Criminal Minds are using a five act structure imposed to garner more commercial airtime. So, does this mean that they might be unsure your capable of adding another “:don’t turn the channel” act out to a script you’ve fine tuned to only have four? This very basic element changes the story. Where you might have had a nice scene of character building in say Act 2, you would have to split that up and change the whole story, adding another piece of “peril” that wasn’t there before to conform to the new act structure.

    Now, the new five act structure works somewhat OK in action driven series, and in some cases this still isn’t enough. Shows like Lost and Desperate Housewives now employ a 6 act structure, ABC has actually mandated all its Dramas now use this structure regardless of their “speed”, so that the more character driven shows get hacked up and are less effective by it. Luckily there are still a few hold out to this. According to a USA today article from last year,, “producers of CSI, Law & Order and ER refused to go along. Fox uses it only on Bones.” And it would seem David E. Kelley is also not convinced for very good reasons, which he expressed in the same article.

    "There's no opportunity to develop any kind of storytelling momentum," Kelley says, fearing that quiet scenes of dialogue will never hold up to increasingly loud — and frequent — commercial breaks. "High-octane shows, or puzzle shows, will be immune to it.

    "If a knife is plunged into someone's sternum, you pay attention," Kelley says. "But for shows that don't depend on violence or melodramatic scenes, it's tougher to compete in a six-act show than in four acts, or in 41 minutes instead of 45 minutes. You have to be a little more aggressive with them, musically or filmically, just to get people's attention back."

    Karen Woodward, in the Weekender edition of the Cynopsis newsletter, which is an e-mail newsletter and daily overview I get in my inbox, looked at this a while back.

    “In the past, shows have been structured into four acts, but now they’re being structured as five or even six. The constant breaks are frustrating, but it’s more than that - this new structure affects the whole art of storytelling. “Moving to the five-act structure not only cuts the amount of time we have to tell the story, but changes the way we have to tell it,” says one writer on a popular drama. “More things have to happen in each act.”

    “In a four-act structure, the 2nd act break (at the half-hour mark) has to have the strongest hook: “That’s when they arrest someone,” says the writer. “But if you move to five acts, the 2nd and 3rd act-outs would have to both be really strong, which complicates the story.” Essentially, the 2nd act break would provide the twist, and then the 3rd act break has to put a twist on that twist. “[For example], at the end of the 2nd act, the person being arrested would end up to be a transvestite, and then at the end of the 3rd act they’d have to die… and you have to do all that in less time then you had before.”

    I felt like I was missing the boat on this since I don’t have a TV and oddly didn’t notice it on shows that I watch like Lost, probably because I’m still a fan and don’t structurally critique a show unless I’m doing it specifically. The other day I was reading Jane Espenson’s blog, which I do daily or by post, and she mentioned having run into the five act structure with Tru Calling and The Inside and now again on the script she’s currently writing. I’m assuming it’s the Battlestar Galactica script she’s working on. However, even for a prolific TV writer such as herself, she made no mention of the new six act structure, so even she’s been awakened to it I dare say at this point.

    I’m feeling a bit torn about all of this. The new spec pilot I’m working on adheres to the old 4 act structure plus teaser, like all of me spec pilots do. Now I’m thinking I may need to go back on the rewrite and cut it up into five, which seems to be what Sci-Fi Channel is looking for these days and this is something primarily designed to pitch to the likes of them. Now, maybe I’m already using the five act structure, if you count the teaser, but I really don’t know. Maybe I’ve written everything in a five act structure and was just ahead of the curve somehow. I have to get a hold of one these scripts to find out. I don’t think I am. The old four act structure use to have a teaser, four acts, and a tag, like Homicide.

    Bottom line is that network television is allowing advertisers to once again control the nature of the stories being told. The networks wonder why they can’t make solid dramas anymore and it’s because they’re competing with the likes of the HBO and Showtime which give viewers what they want, a one hour drama that plays like a movie where the action is inserted for reasons of story and moving it forward just when it needs to and not just when it needs to go to commercial.

    My brain hurts now. Must break life into smaller digestible bits so that it doesn’t stick in my craw. Espensen turned me onto this fact so I started looking things up. It would appear every one knew about this a year ago. So much for hiding in the cabin.

    [UPDATE: Jane Espenson just followed up her post of yesturday about 5 act structure with this bit today: "In other news, a follow-up on yesterday's five-act post. I've received two emails from working writers with completely contradictory information on the future of episodic tv structure. I am informed both that Bones has gone back to the four act structure after an attempt to work with five, and that new ABC drama pilots are being written with SIX acts (although with no teaser)! Well! So, I guess, the wise thing is probably to let your story dictate your choice! How many times does your story turn? That's how many act breaks it can have!"
    So, I think I'll just stick with what I know for now and try not to fret.]

    Saturday, September 23, 2006

    Review: Dexter

    I’ve finally seen the pilot for the best new show this season. It’s DEXTER. That’s right, I finally turned everything off on my computer that was pulling bandwidth so I could watch it. Showtime has finally gotten off its ass and started giving HBO a run for its money. Don’t get me wrong, the also have WEEDS, one of the best shows right now on TV, but this would seem to mark the first time they’ve created a worthy drama as well. Michael C Hall, formerly the gay brother on SIX FEET UNDER over on HBO, is pitch perfect as a blood splatter expert/serial killer of killers. It’s dark and funny and almost mesmerizing in its delivery. No turning away, this show. It gets right to the meat and shows the bone. No funny CSI gimmicks, just real people in situations so disturbing that it makes me giddy with delight. What makes Dexter so compelling is that he has no emotions, unless you count awe, which is considered an emotion. He finds himself truly in awe of the main serial killer in the premiere episode, a creature so devilishly clever that when Dexter figures out how to find him, he’s already uncovered Dexter. He sends Dexter a message at the end of the episode and Dexter not only gets it, he wants to be a part of it. Dexter wants to play. This is the kind of stuff that makes TV worthwhile and also the kind of stuff that makes Congress tighten its collective butt cheeks and start spouting how these sorts of things lead children to do funny things with animals. We can only hope. What’s also nice is the flashbacks of Dexter as a young foster child talking to his adoptive father after his father’s found the neighbor’s dog in a grave. He asks Dexter why he did it and Dexter tells him it’s because the dog wouldn’t stop yapping all day and it was bothering his foster mother who is sick. The father, a cop, seems to understand even when he reveals to Dexter that the grave was full of more than just the one dog. A later flashback of Dexter as a high school age kid has the father confronting him again and, having found a nice roll-up of knives, and thinking they’d solved Dexter’s issue, Dexter is supposed to come to him when he has feeling like this. Then, the father makes the most wonderfully chilling and beautifully realistic statement. He loves his son so much that he wants to find a way to channel his “needs”. He says Dexter is still a good kid because he’s never killed a human. Then the father says they need to work on making sure Dexter hones his skills and follows certain rules, because the cops can’t always catch all the bad guys, not the really bad ones, and this may be the outlet Dexter is looking for.

    Obviously this show isn’t for everyone, most notable those who don’t like gore, killing, serial killers, brilliant character driven TV and it could possibly be harmful if your disillusioned, disaffected, or pregnant.

    Friday, September 22, 2006

    Review: Traveler

    [from the ABC site] “How well do you know your friends? Would you bet your life on it? It's not what we share with our friends, but what we keep hidden that defines what kind of people we are.

    After spending every minute of the last two years living, working, and partying together, Jay, Taylor and Will are departing on a summer journey. But being together ends today…simple prank to rollerblade through one of New York City's most famous museums has made Jay and Taylor prime suspects in the terrorist bombing that destroyed it seconds later. The guys hope Will can help clear up this misunderstanding, but he's been missing since the explosion and they think he might be dead. Jay wants to talk to the police about finding Will, but quickly realizes they can't even prove Will exists – in every photo for the last two years, Will managed to block his face. He was their only alibi.

    The F.B.I. confirms a man matching Will's description died in the explosion, but also learns the explosion was triggered by a call from Jay's cell phone. It's a highly suspicious coincidence that may prove Will, the glue in their friendship, may have meticulously planned this betrayal for over two years. Perfectly framed and on the run, the friends must rely on each other to get away from the F.B.I., and try to get to the bottom of a conspiracy that has destroyed their future. But what can they do when they're merely pawns in a game of global intrigue?”

    So here’s the thing about TRAVELER, it’s completely lacking in anything that is worthy of logical belief. However, that’s what makes it kind of nice. You no longer spend time wondering if the technology portrayed exists, or whether it’s really all that wise for an FBI agent to chase a perp while wearing heals, you just watch and enjoy the fact that no one has time to sit down on this show. Well, some people sit down but not for long. This isn’t a groundbreaking genre cracking show, there’s nothing really new here, ABC even describes it as a combination of “The Fugitive with Enemy of the State in a taut, tense thriller of innocents on the run.”

    What I do really like about this Uber Conspiracy filled “Flight Show” is that it moves so quickly that you don’t have time to question whether or not it works properly, nor do you care really. It also uses the old LOST paradigm of obfuscation, which makes sure that what ever you think is going to happen is not what is going to happen. I also like that in this world of sleeper cells and constant betrayals, that this show looks at how a friendship dynamic can be completely destroyed and questioned after a betrayal of one of its members. All in all, in this world it's probably better you don't let anyone get too close. Don’t get me wrong; this is a show in the vein of ALIAS. This isn’t THE WIRE, but is a distant cousin to 24, this is blockbuster entertainment done with at least an interesting set-up. I still think the lead FBI agent should wear more comfortable shoes, and the main leads were less obvious as a Law graduate and Venture Capitalist, see they'll always have money, which makes running a bit easier in the end.

    Whether or not the viewing public is ready for yet another show that you have to see from the beginning to understand what’s going on or not is yet to be seen. If I can get a hold of them I’ll watch a few more episodes to see how it’s going, but this isn’t something I just have to see, but it is by no means un-watchable like the pilot to VANISHED was, because this series knows it isn’t a procedural with bad procedure. This show is a “Flight Show” and all you have to do is sit back and watch the poor bastards run. This alone makes it perfectly enjoyable on those nights where you don't want to think too much, but do want to be entertained.

    Thursday, September 21, 2006


    Showtime has the complete pilot episode up for viewing for free on their site.

    [NOTE: Password is "sneak peek"]

    Based on the books by Jeff Lindsay.


    He's a charming monster . . .
    A macabre hero . . .
    A serial killer who only kills bad people

    Dexter Morgan has been under considerable pressure. It's just not easy being an ethical serial killer—especially while trying to avoid the unshakable suspicions of the dangerous Sergeant Doakes (who believes Dexter is a homicidal maniac . . . which, of course, he is). In an attempt to throw Doakes off his trail, Dexter has had to slip deep into his foolproof disguise. While not working as a blood-spatter analyst for the Miami Police Department, he now spends nearly all his time with his cheerful girlfriend, Rita, and her two children, sipping light beer and slowly becoming the world's first serial couch potato. But how long can Dexter play Kick the Can instead of Slice the Slasher? How long before his Dark Passenger forces him to drop the charade and let his inner monster run free?

    [NOTE: Oh well, my connection can't stram it fast enough. Hopefully someone out there can enjoy it for me.]

    Sunday, September 17, 2006

    Small Update

    Here is a small update of what I’ve been doing since last I posted. Wednesday and Thursday were spent whittling VALENTINE down to a more lean workable package. I also finished the third act of CA on Thursday. Friday was spent trying to re-imagine FABULON using the mythology but changing everything else. Since a certain HBO show, it isn’t very salable anymore. So I came up with something called THE LONG HAUL and sent it to the person I working with on this stuff. He thought the protagonist should be younger to give it a better chance of generating interest. So Saturday I reworked the whole thing again into something tentatively titled SECRET HISTORY. The protagonist is now young, and a girl (which is always better) and I pulled the main character of TLH in as a supporting character. Wrote pretty much all day on that which generated an overview and a rough beat out (3000 words or so) of the first episode. Today, I’m working on excel spreadsheets and filling out forms to keep the student loan company from being nasty again. After I’m done with that I’ve got to map out tomorrow’s work-for-money trip. I’ll also be working Tuesday and going to San Diego on Wednesday to train someone on the same stuff I’ll be doing on Monday and Tuesday. Well, that’s about it really. I’d hoped to be done with first hour of CA before now, but with the computer crash and the subsequent other stuff, it was not to be. I’ll look at it again on Thursday when everything quiets down again.

    Thursday, September 14, 2006

    wee bit-o-excitement

    I had a meeting yesterday with a really nice guy one of my friends put me in contact with. Actually it’s was the second meeting, but the first time was more of us meeting rather than us having a meeting. He’s a director and producer of various things over the years. Anyhow, he read my stuff and I went to his office to talk about it. He gave some great feedback, so I spent the rest of yesterday, well until about 6:20, slashing and burning the first part of VALENTINE to get rid of the extraneous bits and remove all the “passive” tense stuff that I’m too keen on putting in. It reduced the first half by 5 pages, so I assume it’ll do about the same to the second half. It was really quite fun once I got rolling on it. Anyway, he’s going to take it to some people he’s meeting with next week. We’re also going to try and pull the spine out of FABULON and shove it into a new body. The overall setting has already been done by those bastards at HBO so it’s little more than a writing sample these days. We tossed it about yesterday and I think I may have tapped an idea that’s already beginning to run across my brain like a bacterial infection. I’ve tentatively titled it THE LONG HAUL, but that’s all I’ll say. I’m going to attempt to write up a quickie on it and finish the first hour of CA by Sunday. I have to work Mon-Wed next week, which is when he’s meeting with these people, so I need to get it all done before then. Even if it doesn’t work out, it was nice to have someone even take the time to read my stuff. It’s at least given me a short burst of focus and a wee bit ‘o excitement, which I’ve been sorely needing here, so for that alone it’s worth it.

    Tuesday, September 12, 2006

    Review: Vanished

    Didn't like this show at all. The cast lacks any chemistry. The very plot points in the pilot that set-up what will be an overall 24 type of story are just not good enough. I had a few specific problems with the pilot and here they are. Waist your time at your own risk.

    Head agent says he needs 20 instead of 4 glue pellets so he can pull latent prints off of a chair, which he does in the dining room because someone has provided a portable plastic “bubble” they can surround the chair in. I’m pretty sure you still need a machine to do this, not just super futuristic “tablets” that you can crack in a cellophane tent. Also, there is a liability with him performing it over the CSI unit.

    The primary FBI agent is assigned to find the Senator’s missing wife. His last assignment, even though we later found out he protested the inclusion of a sniper in, led to the death of a young boy. OK.

    The Senator’s daughter finds that her boyfriend has hidden bloody clothing and a bag full of money, next to and inside the washing machine, clever, and her reaction by the end of the episode is to take it and not report it. The mystery mounts? Come On.

    The Senator’s son by a previous marriage cares for his step mother so much that after we find out the step mother and mother met in public, the mother was supposed to be in Europe instead, he IMs her. Like she’d know ho to IM.

    The lead FBI agent is not only catty, but snarky with his superior. Yeah right.

    The Senator is snarky with the President. Yeah right.

    The primary detective, seems to be the only one who knows that the missing woman’s BMW, or whatever she drove had a GPS tracking device. Of course the rest of the FBI task force missed this bit.

    There is too much added science and futuristic tracking capabilities, even for the kidnapping of a Senator’s wife.

    At the end they find the recently thawed wife of another politician, who went missing ten years before, but the perpetrator’s note in the form of a “Saint” card is directed at the current investigator. I guess the perp was saving up peoplecicles until he had a reason to use them.

    When they finally find the car belonging to the “perp” who must of kidnapped the Senator’s wife, it’s driven by a guy who said he found it in front of his apartment with the keys in it running, so he took it, and they believe him. This is of course after they find the man they are looking for in the trunk of same said car having received a bullet between the eyes. Of course the bullet turns out to be too “heavy” in grams to be a standard 38. Bom Bum Ba.

    The primary FBI investigator also knows the weight difference in grams of a 38 caliber round leading to a “rare” gun that there is only one registered in the whole state. We have to wait until the next episode to see how this evidence works out.

    RIP: Grace O'Malley's

    Monday, September 11, 2006

    One small step

    One small step on Mankind, One giant leap backward for Humanity.

    Review: Jericho


    “JERICHO is a drama about what happens when a nuclear mushroom cloud suddenly appears on the horizon, plunging the residents of a small, peaceful Kansas town into chaos, leaving them completely isolated and wondering if they're the only Americans left alive. Fear of the unknown propels Jericho into social, psychological and physical mayhem when all communication and power is shut down. The town starts to come apart at the seams as terror, anger and confusion bring out the very worst in some residents.”

    I love Post-Apocalyptic stories, I always have. I probably comes from the dirge of them while I was growing up. Everything from the fantastic like MAD MAX, to the attempted realism of THE DAY AFTER to the TV variety of DAMNATION ALLEY has stuck in my brain and formed a sort of personal survival guide that’s sprung directly from the fear tainted zeitgeist of the times. I grew up during the cold war, so I spent a lot of time thinking about what would happen if everyone got really stupid and pushed a button. As far as TV shows are concerned, there’s been little to show for it as a genre. Of course there are really only three types of post-apocalyptic stories. There is the Nuclear fallout one, ala we are responsible (mostly handled in movies and books rather than TV series), and the one based on some sort of biological pandemic, where once again we are responsible (SURVIVORS, TRIPODS, JEREMIAH), and finally the “It-came-from-outer space” one where either aliens or asteroids, or possibly both if you really want to hit the summer blockbuster by force some day, which also has few television examples with maybe V coming closest even though that was more military state than post apocalypse. In each of these scenarios, either a great deal of the population is wiped out, or just the adults and “society has to rebuild itself. There’s been shows like the Saturday morning show ARK 2, but most of the stuff was from ITV or the BBC, until now. You see though this is going to be about JERICHO, there is another one out there that I haven’t seen yet called THREE MOONS OVER MILFORD (this is the space one, where the moon has split into three bits and is causing people to behave strangely until the earth gets screwed from the lack of the moons pull and stuff, on the ABC Family channel. What’s different about these two shows to the standard PA scenario is that they both take place just as the event happens, and what we see is what is almost never seen in these kind of shows which is what happens to the first people to survive. Granted, the pandemic shows generally dealt with this but the nuclear ones of the same ilk haven’t really been made until now. So, is Jericho really any good?

    I’d have to say that I liked it. It stars Skeet Ulrich as a wayward son returning home for a quick visit to his grandfather’s grave, and to ask his father (Gerald McRaney) to sign off so he can get the money his grandfather left him. His father, played wonderfully and stoically by McRaney, whose been totally reborn in my eyes as an actor after his portrayal of Hurst on DEADWOOD, is also the town’s mayor who is running for re-election. Well of course, Skeet doesn’t get out in time, becomes a reluctant hero and all that good stuff and the town starts to tear itself apart, and all because a nuclear explosion wipes out Denver, which they can see from their small town hundreds of miles away. Things get even hotter when they also learn it isn’t isolated, because Atlanta is gone too. But, that’s all we know. We as an audience don’t know any more than they do and that’s nice. What we’re left with is a sort of social experiment (sure, I know LOST) where hopefully what we’re going to see is how people deal on a day-to-day basis after being effectively cut off from society. I’ll be honest, there’s some treacle in the dialogue, but you’re going to get that and it isn’t that awful. The performances are nice, the cinematography is beautiful, and the real reason I know I liked it was the fact that the copy I watched was corrupted and the image would stop every now and then and pixilate, and I’d have to jigger with it to get it to work again. I guess, as far as the pilots I’ve seen so far, this has really good potential to become something creepy and humanizing, and who knows, if it lasts to the second season, we might even get to see something really disturbing like the US Military invading one of its own towns to “rescue” (read regain control) of the country bit by bit. Who wouldn’t love to see it turned on its head ala Steinbeck’s THE MOON IS DOWN. I sure would.

    {NOTE: I'm sure I missed some tv show examples from the past, but this is a fluffy review not a Masters Thesis.]

    Review: Studio 60

    So I’ve been able to watch a number of pilots for shows this season thanks to the interwub. I’m going to give a few brief opinions here about the ones I’ve seen so far.


    This is the one NBC is hoping will be its backbone for the season. It’s Arron Sorkin’s latest foray and like his other two shows SPORTS NIGHT and THE WEST WING it is a behind-the-scenes affair. So far the reaction to it has been mixed to say the least. One of the main reasons for this is that the characters are quite broadly drawn. While I personally don’t mind this in a pilot, especially one so complex, it doesn’t necessarily bode well for future episodes. If the characters maintain their current paths it may simply turn into some sort of farce. The three standout performances are definitely by Mathew Perry, who can be a subtle and serious actor when he wants. His episode arc on TWW is proof of this. Another is Bradley Whitford, a TWW alumni and who played one of the most engaging and manic characters on the show. The final one is Judd Hirsch who has a breakdown on camera, ala NETWORK, where he rails against the unintelligent cesspool that television has become. He does this knowing that he will be fired. It’s a nod to Paddy Chayefsky, arguable one of the great writers of film. But at least in the pilot, all we see is the internal fallout and a relatively unresolved issue with his character. From looking around at other reviews, there seems to be a consensus, with which I agree, that Steven Weber’s character of Studio head Jack Rudolph is practically Snidely Whiplash sans moustache and in a nicer suit. Amanda Peet, who plays the young and recently hired head of programming Jordan McDeere, is a little more difficult to pin down. Some other reviewers have made reference to the fact that it appears that she seems to be acting in an entirely different show, and well out of sync with the other performances. I agree with this to a certain degree, but didn’t always find this to be so. Yes she is “doe-eyed”, and at times does deliver lines with an obtuseness, but I sort of liked that and wrote it off as her character’s way of handling a situation, days before she’s even set to take the position, by keeping everyone off their guard. The major concern with a show like this is its behind-the-scenes nature. Sorkin is basically going to show people what it takes to make a TV show. I’ve got to wonder if part of the magic of the whole affair will instill in the audience a more critical viewing of TV. The problem with that is that it kills some of the magic of watching shows. Trust me, once you start to ruminate on the very architecture of a thing, the thing itself becomes less enjoyable. Plus, if you really want to tear it apart, all you have to do is look at Sorkin’s history and suddenly you realize that the character played by Bradley Witford is Sorkin himself, cocaine habit, failed production, back surgery, etc. which makes the whole thing a bit too autobiographical for my taste. I’m going to give it a chance of course. One of the best things about the episodes that follow a pilot is the joy in watching it really come to life. Sorkin wrote what he knew would sell. They chopped it up in the editing room, evidently the script was so long there was no way it would fit in a hour, so that it runs like more of a perfect exercise in television editing than in writing. It is true, that I couldn’t take my eyes off of it, but I generally feel this way about above average pilots and only look to their faults once they are over. Over the next few episodes, it will become apparent whether or not things can settle down and be a bit more realistic, and the characters can feel less pressure to twirl their mustaches and appear as more than Spiegel catalog models, but I’ll just have to wait and see. Of course there is one more problem, its been rumored that the show isn’t making it’s deadlines, and NBC has already shut it down once to be retooled, so the truth is it may not make it out of the gate unless Sorkin stops twirling his mustache and lets other people take a hand in helping him get this behemoth up and running.

    There is also this little tidbit:

    "Studio 60" will be one of the most expensive first-year shows ever, with episodes costing nearly $3 million and NBC backing the launch with a $10 million marketing campaign. The network wrestled "Studio 60" away from CBS by agreeing to a list of perks, including giving Mr. Sorkin a say in determining the show's placement on the schedule.