Archives - March - April 2005

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April 30, 2005

Plastic Surgery

I've been mulling an idea over for a long time now. Been wanting to get plastic surgery. I'm sharing this with you I guess to get it off my chest. Carrying around such a burden is hard. It weighs on one's mind, this kind of thing. Is the risk worth it? Is vanity more important than long-term health? How in this time of great need in our world can I spend the money on such a trivial thing? But I've thought about it long enough; now is the time I must act.

What I'm wanting is a bit unusual. Not your normal nip/tuck or lipo. It's a fairly extensive operation, but I think it will pay off in the long run.

I'm getting an implant.

Yes, an implant. I know you may think I'm crazy, but suffering with what I've had to suffer with for so long, well, I've just had it. Modern medicine now offers a remedy, and I am going to do it.

I want you to see the implant itself. I know you might be squeamish, but bear with me. Take a look at it by rolling your cursor over the phrase below:

The plastic surgeon will implant this Roman gladiator breastplate in me just under the skin. I should be out of pocket for a week or two while the swelling goes down. The bruising will take a few months to go away. But boy, will it be worth it.

You can get your own breastplate implant done for about $15,000 (not including the breastplate itself - I got mine online at armouronline.com ).

So, I'll be on and and off the next few days while I undergo the procedure. I'll be checking in to give you updates and reports on my progress.

*****

April 26, 2005

Welcome To My World

Had the first big tornado scare of the season yesterday. I was at work when some people said the sirens (these are the old air raid-type sirens) were going off outside. Having no TV, I went online and got an update on the radar. Three large storms were steaming through our area at about 30 miles an hour. All three had those dark purple centers in their radar images, indicating the infamous "hook" echo that indicates a tornado is forming or is already about to run over your ass. According to the radar, one was right on top of us.

Nice.

I stole the following pics of the storm from the local newspaper (no, I won't give them credit). Luckily for me, the two northernmost storms, including the one on top of me, petered out.

But the third...

This was the funnel cloud as the tornado formed up at about 4pm just south of the city.
This was the view from a different angle. Note the size of the hotel to the left.
A lady that works for me lives in this neighborhood. I stopped her from leaving work to wait until the storm blew over; I could see on the radar it was nearing where she lived. Her neighbors were all in their bathtubs at this time. Imagine looking out your window and seeing this coming your way.
Another view from the same neighborhood as the beast formed up.
Here's the beeyach as it finally took form. Luckily it was SMALL and broke up pretty quick. The local weatherman's comment on this picture was that he "still isn't sure if this was a tornado or not." Gee, I guess it isn't a tornado; it's just a giant cone from Dairy Queen. Yeah, that's it.

A tornado's little bastard brother.

No, this isn't snow.

It's HAIL.

As you can see, some of it was pretty big. But this wasn't the biggest I've seen; the worst hail storm we got had softball sized stones. It is still listed as the worst thunderstorm - in terms of dollars in damage - in American history.

So, it was a wee bit scary, but after the dust settled, there was little damage and no injuries.

Now, does anyone want to come stay down here with me through June?

Bring your umbrella.

*****

April 25, 2005

Just flew in from San Antonio, and boy, are my arms tired.

Contrary to the latest bloggery, I'm not the world traveler. Spent a few days in San Antone to visit some nice relatives, namely the folks who treated me and mine to a free Sting concert in Chicago last year. I get back home and check my emails, only to find that one of my favorite bands, Devil Doll, was here doing a show. Darn. Missed it. Oh, well.

Been communicating with a couple of artistes lately on my graphic novel project. Some of you might think I've been kidding, but I'm serious about turning L.A. Stalker into a big comic-book type of illustrated thing called a graphic novel. Here's a short list of some of the graphic novels that have been, or are currently being, made into movie; I'll skip the obvious like Spider Man, The Hulk and Batman:

The Crow / The Road to Perdition / Sin City / From Hell / Blade / Constantine / Tank Girl / Jinx / The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen / 30 Days of Night...

And the list goes on.

Anywho, I've been talking to these two artists, one of which I contacted via my ad on DeviantArt.com and the other who found my page seeking an artist via a Google search. One has a background in the actual production of graphic novels, and the other has a great talent for inking and painting people.

I don't know anything about creating or publishing such a thing, but hell, I'll wing it. I have to give it a try. As I was talking to these people, I suddenly realized just how ignorant of the process I am. I have thrust myself into a strange and new position. The closest thing I can compare it to is being the producer and director of a movie. Different people are involved in the process, not just an artist and/or writer. There's people who write the story, then there are some that do the layout or storyboard, then there's others who pencil the drawings, others who ink them, others who color them, others who do backgrounds, and even specialists who write the words in the "balloons."

So I don't know shit about any of this. I guess I am placing myself as a coordinator of sorts, like a movie producer or a general contractor building a house. I have to make sure the people all work together as a team to get the product out. Now, THAT is something I can do. I do it every day. But the problem with this arrangement is one artist lives in California, and the other in Canada. Geez. Thank God for the Internet.

In the interim, I found a book that can help, maybe: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Creating a Graphic Novel. Since an Idiot's Guide is what I used to learn screenplay writing, it should at least give me some definitions and such.

Hell, it couldn't give me any LESS information on the subject than I already have.

*****

April 19, 2005

Just flew in from New York, and boy, are my arms tired

My tribute to the ultimate New Yorker, Rodney D. Yes, just got into town from a six-day jaunt to The Big Apple. My first trip there. I dug it a lot. If I had to pick living there or living in L.A., I'd choose NYC any day. The city has a great electric vibe; the kind of vibe L.A. lost many years ago as it was taken over by hooligans and lunatics. Sure, NY has its share of both, but I'd estimate that L.A has far more per capita than NYC.

Did the usual tourista stuff, but got an insider's view by someone I know there. Contrary to popular belief, the city isn't full of bad attitude. In fact, people there were quite friendly, helpful and positive. The people there have a weird sense of decorum, and unspoken agreement to co-exist as well as they can, even though 12 million of them are crammed into a space less than the size of my county. I guess nearly 300 years of societal evolution has caused this to be.

I could blog about the place a long time, but like I said, my arms are tired.

*****

April 11, 2005

Grocery Blues Part V

Yeah, I blog about grocery stores too much. I guess I see the grocery store as a microcosm of the world: a society within a society with its own rules, values, and structure.

Nah, it's just because my life is boring and I really don't have much else to wax philosophical about.

So I'm in the store tonight to pick up a few things. I get my things and decide to whip by the candy aisles to pick up some chocolates to give to several members of my staff who have little candy dishes on their desks. I do this because women dig chocolates (my staff is all female), but mainly I do it so I can later RAID their chocolate stashes myself and feel little guilt about it. I'm sure I consume more of the chockies than they do, but hey, I bought them in the first place.

So I'm looking through the variety of chocolates there, trying to make up my mind. I like dark chocolates, but most of my women don't. Sure, if I bought these, that would leave more for me, right? But even I have a twinge of conscience now and then, so I don't get those. A variety pack is what I need. The only variety pack of pure chocolate - ones that don't have caramel or mint or any other putrid adulterants in them - is the pack from Hershey. These have regular Hershies, dark Hershies, crackle Hersheys, and Mr. Goodbars. I decide not to get these because no one ever eats the Mr. Goodbars. These poor things sit there for an eternity unless some rabid chocoholic shoves them in their face in a chocolate rage because there's absolutely no other chocolate around.

Like I've been known to do.

My question is: Why does Hershey continue to make Mr. Goodbars when nobody seems to like them? And why do they mess up the great variety pack with these bastards of confectionery?

One day when I meet my Maker, I'll find the answer to that question.

Another question that may get answered is why I always seem to get in a checkout line that seems to be moving along, only to find out the person in front of me has to make the heart-rending decision on whether to leave behind the Captain Crunch or the Smuckers Peanut Butter and Jelly swirl because her Food Stamp card won't allow her to buy both at the same time?

Speaking of peanut butter and jelly, I hear that a federal court just ruled that Smuckers cannot have the patent they had filed on THE PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY SANDWICH. Absolutely goddamned right they can't. Who the hell thinks they have the GALL to patent the most basic necessity of life that is the PB&J. This is as bad as the two a-holes who tried to trademark the term "LET'S ROLL!" after 9/11. If there was any true justice in this world, the executives at Smuckers and the two Let's Roll guys would be taken out and shot, then buried in a mountain of peanut shells.

But that's just this writer's opinion.

Oh, so which chockies did I choose? None. I came to my senses and decided that I had better not tempt myself.

*****

April 8, 2005

In Style

I was sitting in the beauty salon yesterday waiting to get my hair cut when...oh, let me backtrack a little. I get my hair cut in a beauty salon. At least, that's what they used to call these things. The term now is probably "hair salon" or just "salon." All terms that mean a place where women get their hair done. I guess men go to "barber shops" if there are any of those still around. Anyway, it's a big place with about 50 cutters, all women. The clientele from what I've seen is about 97% women. The lady who has been cutting my hair - through five complete cycles of Mr. Boy's coiffure history - has been doing so for about 18 years now. Men have LOYALTY when it comes to their hair ladies/men; I've followed mine from place to place for a long time.

So anyway, I'm sitting there waiting for my hair lady to finish poofing up her client's 'do (this IS Texas, and big hair is still fashionable). Usually, on the waiting bench is a pile of women's magazines. I always look through them to see if someone put a manly magazine in there like Monster Truck Quarterly or something, but usually the best I can do is GQ. But usually I wind up thumbing through the women's mags anyway, because I'd rather look at beautiful models than football players, Audis, or metrosexual fashion. This day, instead of the stack, there's only one magazine: InStyle.

I'm always amazed at the amount of stereotypical trash fed to women via these magazines. The "you SHOULD look like this" and "if you don't, there's something WRONG with you" programming that pervades so much of the entertainment aimed at women. But I digress...

So, I'm flipping through this magazine to see if there's something interesting to those with the XY chromosome. There was an interesting bio of actress Diane Lane. Didn't know she was hooked up with Brolin's son. Ho hum. Ah, then I learned that she is the daughter of the October 1957 Playmate of the Month. Now, THAT interests me. Have to do a little Googling to see if I can find a pic of her. For the sake of journalistic integrity, of course.

Then I find something gender-neutral that piques my interest: A list of words soon to be added to the dictionary. I say to myself that this would be an interesting thing to blog about, so I'm about to rip the page out when the shampoo lady comes to get me. Damn. So much for that. I figure that InStyle probably has a web site, maybe with back issues (this one was from January) so I'll look for the word list there. So I get shampooed and cut and poofed and leave.

I get online that night and go to InStyle's site, but alas, no back issues. Then all of a sudden, a weird popup comes on screen, one that I can't get rid of no matter what. Hmmm...suspicious. I do a full virus scan and find that I'm infected with a freaking trojan backdoor worm. Jeez. Two hours of scanning and cleaning follow, and now I think I'm cured and inoculated. And I still don't have the words.

So, later I'm at the gym warming up on the treadmill. I glance over at the magazine rack and lo and behold, there sits the January issue of InStyle. I figure it's a kharma thing, so I get the mag and ask the manager if I can tear the page out. She says "sure" and I get the article and bring it back here to blog about.

After all that, the word list just isn't as interesting as it was in the beginning, but damn it I'm here and galdarnit, I'm gonna finish this journey:

abandonware - software no longer sold by the company; forget about updates and support

andropause - male menopause; gee, I have THAT to look forward to

awfulize - to imagine something to be as bad as it possibly can be; my personal favorite

blogrolling - y'all know what this is, even though this blog won't do it

cosleeping - parents sleeping with their children; a disturbing phenomenon

egosurf - to search online for references to yourself; I do this all the time, and you should, too

googleslap - to respond to an email question with a link you found in Google instead of answering it yourself; the implication is that the questioner should have looked it up their own damn self

So there's a few of the more funny ones. Was it worth the trouble?

*****

April 6, 2005

Movies and stuff

Saw a film today all writers - and their significant others - need to watch. Finding Neverland is a film that captures what it means to be a writer. It is all there; if you're a writer or know a writer, you'll be able to see things that you will find familiar: people not understanding what being a writer is all about; loved ones seeing their writer's behavior as a curse, not a gift; loved ones mistaking the creative process as aloofness; the money-grubbing establishment seeking to dictate the writer's art in the direction they want; and that same fickle establishment turning their nose up at anything different out of snobbery... It's all here in this film; I recommend it highly. Rent the DVD and drag your family into the living room to watch it.

I also saw Sin City this weekend. Yet another film based on a graphic novel - in this case, a series of graphic novels , it captures the spirit of the Frank Miller works. Raw and edgy, it had the audience roaring in some places and covering their eyes in others. It was well done overall, and was obviously left open for a sequel in the style of Rodriguez and Tarantino, who was the co-director. But don't watch it if you're squeamish; it's about as gruesome a movie as I've ever seen, even if the violence is rendered in comic-book style.

Watch for Mickey Rourke who steals the show as Marv the sadistic criminal - with a heart.

*****

March 28, 2005

Whacko Jacko

Well, I had a blog post about the Schiavo case/fiasco/media frenzy, et al, but I decided not to bum everybody out by posting it today. Maybe later...

Instead, I'll blog about everyone's favorite pedophile (accused pedophile, that is), Michael Jackson. I haven't written about him in awhile...maybe even before his trial started.

Oh, before I forget: Sugarmama accepted my challenge and posted some high school and pre-high-school pics of herself on her blog. Although these pics certainly aren't as horrible as mine, I will give her credit for not being a weenie like my other challengees.

Back to Whacko Jacko. Well, seems the case is progressing about like any other pedo case goes. These cases play out in court in the usual pattern, with the only difference in this one being the celebrity of the accused and the money involved. People who offend sexually against children, especially those who offend against multiple victims over a long period of time, follow a behavioral pattern. Here's what I've seen of this pattern:

Creating opportunity - The desire to have sex with children didn't start with the Internet. These guys have been around a long time. Men (and sometimes women) develop a sexual attraction to children. Some focus on particular age groups and/or sexes, just like an average man may prefer certain physical features in a woman. Example: A man who likes blondes with big breasts. Let's say a man not only likes blondes with big breasts, but he develops an intense need for only these characteristics. We'd say he was focused on this, and anything else just won't do. He develops an obsession with this type of womanly appearance. Or, this man may prefer blondes with big breasts, but he also likes other physical qualities, too. He's not fixated on those two - or three - things. The same psychology follows the preferential child offender, too. Early on in life, even before puberty, they know what they like. Over the years, some of them begin to focus on a particular thing they like and they seek out children who have those qualities, just as our fixated man would go to a bar and ignore all the brunettes while eyeballing the blondes.

Psychobabble has tried to explain why they are attracted to kids; there's a hundred theories out there. I've never really cared about why, so I'm not going to go into that. But underlying all of an offender's actions is the fact that they want to have some kind of sexual contact with children. Now, that contact is variable, too. Some want full intercourse. Some want oral sex. Some want to grope or "fondle" the kids. Some want to watch them nude, take photographs of them, etc. It's a matter of preference.

So once those preferences are established, an offender must create the opportunity to cultivate a child for sexual contact. Knowing right from wrong, and also knowing that such activities are illegal, he knows he can't put an ad in the paper saying: 12-YEAR-OLD BOYS WANTED FOR SEX PLAY. He must try another tactic.

He will find a niche in society where he can be among children who possess the characteristics he prefers. A typical example is a man who likes pre-pubescent girls who becomes a gymnastics coach. Another may be one who likes teenage boys who becomes an Eagle Scout troop leader. Some just create a child-friendly place in the neighborhood, complete with toys and an XBox and a fridge full of goodies. You've all read about these guys in the news.

Jacko's obvious preference is for boys at the cusp of pubescence or a little past it. He appears not to like little boys or older teenagers. So what can a guy like this do to create the opportunity to be among them? He opens his life, and his home, to children. He creates a fantasy world of games and toys where children can run amok and just be kids for awhile, without much parental supervision. Certainly Neverland and renting entire amusement parks is a bit over the top for your average offender, but it's still the same trick that the other offenders use. It just costs more money, and money is something that Michael had plenty of.

Concealment - Now that the offender has established a way to be around kids, he must conceal the fact that he is an offender looking for kids to molest. He will hide behind legitimacy, and take great pains to maintain the facade. For example, that gymnastics coach may also take the time to train some of the best gymnasts ever. He'll join the local Lions Club. He'll speak to the PTA. He'll attend every UIL banquet he can. He may even get married and have a couple of kids of his own. Layer after layer of legitimacy will be placed between the public and his real life, which is cultivating a new harvest of kids for his sexual gratification.

Jacko's tactic seems to be promoting himself as the big brother of all the children in the world, both male and female. This is indeed his style; big and bold and brash and flashy. Fly a thousand kids to the Super Bowl and sing a La-La song with them. If you've noticed, he's also done the married-so-I'm-safe tactic as well. A twist to Jacko's concealment is also "I'm a total eccentric weirdo so things I do might seem abnormal but I'm just weird ALL the time."

Selection - Offenders now have a pool of children around them. Not all will become victims. Remember that. Children with good ego strength, children with very involved parents, children who are outspoken and assertive, these will all be placed in the offender's DO NOT APPROACH group. These are the kids who will tell their parents everything and immediately.

They instead will seek out through observation and conversation those children who are the opposite. Withdrawn, isolated kids with poor self-esteem don't go tell Mama that quickly. Kids who have behavior problems and poor relationships with their parents are even better marks; people tend to call them liars if anyone bothers listening to them at all.

Remember the Do Not Approach group? The offender will not ignore them. No, he will cultivate NORMAL relationships with these kids and their parents. To them, he will be an upright citizen, a wonderful big brother figure, maybe even a Godsend. Because he knows that what he is doing is illegal, he also knows he may get caught one day. If that occurs, this group is the one he will call upon to go to bat for him. This is the group he will trot in front of the jury and the media to say, "He never molested me." In the warped logic of our citizenry, if he didn't molest THEM then he couldn't have molested THOSE OTHER KIDS. Macaulay Culkin is obviously in Jacko's Do Not Approach list, as are a hundred other kids and parents.

Grooming - This is the clinical term for acclimating a child for sexual activity. Children naturally recoil at the prospect of sexual contact with an adult. An offender who wants to have an ongoing sexual "relationship" with a child - unlike a blitz-type offender who just grabs them off the playground - must desensitize a child to sexual matters. This is a long, gradual process. The most prolific offenders have several children in various states of grooming at any given time, ensuring a constant source of "payoff" when they want it. I've seen offenders take years to groom just one child.

Sexual jokes, sexual talk, an occasional "accidental" grope while play-wrestling, massaging lotion on their sunburned legs...increments toward the final goal. The techniques are myriad. Alcohol and drugs are grooming tools for older kids. So is porn. The porn Jackson let the boys view at his house is right out of the textbook. Letting them "accidentally" find the stuff is a great tactic. Later, it can be given to them without causing much of a stir. Some of these grooming tools can even be turned around and used as blackmail against the children should they ever hint at telling anyone about the abuse. And sometimes, the offender just out-and-out bribes the child with money and material things. Again, this can be used as blackmail: "Oh, yeah? So you're gonna tell your dad what we've been doing? Well, I'll tell everyone I've been PAYING YOU FOR IT, and everyone will know that you're nothing but a WHORE."

Denial/Deflection - When caught, all offenders will deny everything. They will deflect blame on everyone around them. They will create chaos between parents, families, and friends. They will pit one against the other to divert attention away from themselves and their deeds. The objective is to hide behind the whirlwind they've created. Jacko playing the race card is classic deflection. He hopes to create enough chaos around his case to hide behind it while he regroups and attacks the prosecution.

Destroying the accusers - Attacking the children and their parents is another tried-and-true tactic. The behavior problems and self-esteem of the victims will be magnified a hundred times. Every bit of dirt, every lie, every rule infraction they ever committed will be brought to light. Sullying their reputation causes juries to not believe their claims. Again, in that warped logic of the American jurist, if a kid skips school and smokes pot, he surely must be a liar and delinquent.

Note these tactics in the Jacko case. The parents of the accusers have been painted as con artists and blackmailers. Witnesses say the victims were "out of control" monsters who ran roughshod over Michael and his staff. The credibility of their statements are in shambles accordingly. Note also the slew of firings that took place in the Jackson camp after the police began their investigation. Employees who are now being called as witnesses will be seen as disgruntled ex-employees with an axe to grind.

My note: I think the accusers' parents are indeed con artists and swindlers. I think that this is indeed a set-up as Jackson claims. However, I think that the parents knew Jackson's reputation as a child molester, sent their kids to him in the hope he would molest them, and Jackson fell for the trap. But just because the parents are a couple of pimps for setting their children up this way, does that mean Jackson shouldn't be punished for doing what he did to them?

So there's my Jacko tale o' the day. I said I didn't want to bum everybody out, but I guess I may have done so, anyway...

To make amends, tomorrow's post will be: Pretty Flowers and Fuzzy Bunnies

*****

March 25, 2005

Nothing new

My loved one is out of the woods and doing great. I've been back and forth a lot and haven't blogged much accordingly. I think my absence may have blown the things I was working on with a few artists, but we'll see how that plays out.

I'd love to blog about Terri Schiavo and Jacko and all the other craziness going on in the world, but I just don't have the energy right now. Just reading some of my favorite blogs and catching up on the mundanity of life.

******

March 19, 2005

This'nThat and the Luck o' the Irish

Been gone awhile. Had a dear loved one in the hospital with a couple of heart attacks. All is well now. In times like this, one sits back and takes stock of their own lives. Brushes with death for the most part don't make me contemplate my own, rather they make me think about the inevitability of it all and the need to be ready when it comes.

At this time, I'd like to thank God for a few things. I know this is a double-edged sword; if things had turned out differently, would I be cursing God? Personally, I don't see God as a supreme chessmaster, toying with the fate of his pawns below him, constantly intervening in our worldly affairs. I think the image of God in that way is a throwback to our Greek-Roman roots, the beginning of western civilization, where their gods played such games. I think we're for the most part on our own in this earthly realm, subject to the laws of Nature and the progression of time. We oxidize just as everything else does.

So be that said, let me get on with it.

I want to thank God for being born in a place where human life is taken seriously. Where great expense goes into saving lives in any way possible. I want to say thanks for men and women who have the courage to make the right choices in life. Choices that lead to clear minds and focused endeavors. Choices that lead to the invention of things like echocardiography and angioplasty. Choices that lead to learning and training to use those tools with expertise. I also want to thank God for the simple things that make this all possible, simple things like an electricity supply that doesn't falter, hospitals that are clean and organized, and I even want to thank God for Medicare.

Without all of these things coming together at just the right time, in just the right place, I would be saying a farewell to my loved one today.

And I also want to thank God that my relationships with all my loved ones is good and strong and honest. If any of us would succumb to the advancement of time that is Death today, I know that they love me and they know that I love them. Between us there will be no "I wish I would have said..."

So take stock in your own relationships today. Make sure they are ready for the inevitable. And say your thanks when you need to.

*****

March 9, 2005

Artistes

As I've said, I'm wanting to convert L.A. Stalker into a graphic novel. The first step is to find an artist or artists to do this for a collaborative effort. Split the proceeds 50/50 and take all the risks together. Been looking high and low and found nothing but smartasses. So, I had a brainstorm and placed a small banner ad on DeviantArt.com, a site where artists post their work and network and such. Great art on the site. To my amazement, I've got over 140 hits on my Stalker page daily since it started running. I have a page on this site that refers them to the Stalker page to take a look. I don't have a counter on the "Artist Needed" page, so I don't know how many people are going there. I assume it may be double the number who are clicking through to the book's page. Not bad for a $20 investment.

From these, about 50 have emailed me. Some are extraordinarily talented. Some are getting there, but all have the pluck and energy I need.

Now, I have to find the perfect fit. It's too bad most of the better ones are in foreign countries; I don't know how that would work, but I guess it can be done. My cover designer for Cuqui lived in Australia, and it worked out fine.

*****

March 6, 2005

Movie stuff

No, not MY movie kind of stuff. Like this is, going to the movies kind of stuff.

Went to see Constantine today. I give it a 3 out of 5. The only bad part about it was they tried to cram too much information into the movie; it was difficult trying to figure out the plot at times. But it is a good example of turning a graphic novel into a movie. That's why I want to turn L.A. Stalker into a graphic novel; seems to be a great way to expose the story to Gollywood in a quick-n-easy way.

Now back to the movie stuff. I read an article last week about some legislator who was sponsoring a bill to make it illegal for theaters to post showtimes that are not the actual time the movie begins. His beef is that people go to a show at the posted time, only to be forced into sitting through twenty minutes of commercials and previews.

God bless his ass.

My sentiments exactly. I wish I lived in his state; I'd vote for it. Now, first let me say I have nothing against movie previews, or trailers as they're called in the industry. This is a custom dating back to at least 1916, when Paramount began featuring little previews followed by a trailer of film which teased the audience into coming back to see the movie: "Is our heroine eaten by the crocodiles; you'll have to come back to find out!" Previews of upcoming films are okay; they're a tradition.

What I object to, in the order in which I hate them:

Most hated: Pop songs featuring the latest B-list performers, or former A-listers whose record labels think they can make a comeback if they dump enough money into promotions. These songs are horrible. Here's what I heard today: Christina Aguilera screeching some nonsense, some rapper that was awful, a Coldplay wannabe who couldn't carry a tune if it had a handle on it, and an extra-long dance mix of Spongebob Squarepants singing the most God-awful screechy noise ever recorded. I thought it was Barney singing until the phony DJ came on afterward - when I was taking the popcorn out of my ears - to tell us it was SBSP.

Second Most Hated: Commercials. Straight-up 30-second spots like you'd see on TV. I may be revealing my age, but I remember a time when the only thing they showed before a movie was a Pink Panther, Road Runner, or Tom & Jerry cartoon. Now, those were worth getting to the theater early for.

Third most hated: Celebrity Trivia. The same slideshow trivia I've been seeing at theaters for three years. The copyright date on some of these slides was 2002! They were boring then, they're paralyzingly boring now.

I guess I should do what others do and arrive 15 or 20 minutes after showtime to skip all this. But I find that I am programmed, probably back from the Pink Panther days, to get to the show early. Reprogramming is difficult.

Other things I hate about going to the movies that aren't related to the delayed start of the film:

Volume. Why do they have to play the sound so freaking loud? It isn't necessary, especially in a 140 seat theater that has 16 speakers spread around it. I'd love to borrow a decibel meter to find out just how loud these films are. I bet there'd be a lawsuit for hearing loss there someplace.

Noisy food. Did you ever sit around a guy who has something from the snack bar wrapped in cellophane? Krinkle, krunkle, crunch crunch. It's much worse than a slurper. I'd take a good 'ol slurper any day over a krinkle boy. All food sold in a snack bar should be wrapped in nothing but very soft paper. Even better, they should take all the noisy ass eaters and put them in what we used to call the Crying Room. These were little glass rooms at the back of the theater that were double-paned. A separate speaker system was in there so people inside could hear as well as the rest of us. Mothers with crying babies were supposed to take them in there. Guess what? They DID. It was a great idea. They got to watch the show, the baby got to cry and goo goo and burp in peace, and we got to watch the movie without the distraction.

Other than those pet peeves, going to the movies these days is a lot better than the days of yore. The seats are comfortable, there's a variety of food, and there's more theaters showing more movies, so it's still possible to go to a show that isn't packed full.

*****

February 25, 2005

Screenplay stuff

Things are going well in Gollywood vis-a-vis Undercover White Trash. Can't devulge any details, but things are progressing nicely. Stay tuned.

Speaking of movies and screenplays and Gollywood stuff, I just read a good article on the state of writing for Hollywood. Here's a couple of excerpts from the article that sum up the theme:

...studios aren't interested in "doing any movies that aren't presold behemoths. It's very hard to presell anything original." Given the enormous cost of making movies, the majors know what they want: event pictures aimed at the widest possible audience...

With few exceptions, they buy straight-ahead, easy-sell scripts that are routine and familiar. Studios innovate on eye-popping visuals, not mind-bending screenplays. They don't make original adult dramas such as "Chinatown" and "The Conversation" anymore. They'd rather update "established" titles such as "Alfie," "The Manchurian Candidate" and "Flight of the Phoenix."

Add to that the endless parade of other bad remakes and TV-show knockoffs like "Beverly Hillbillies," "SWAT," and "Adams Family."

It's interesting to watch the Hollywood machine begin to turn. Being a part of it - even the tiny speck of a part that I am - makes it far more real to me, and therefore interesting, than if I was just a casual observer. The process is complex and political at this point. Studios, agents, actors, and other power brokers all get into the fray, adding a weird assortment of twists and turns that is impossible to keep up with. You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours becomes the mantra of this new movie-making organism, with each player offering this, accepting that, refusing this, and denying that. This process goes on and on and on until the final cut of the movie is set, distributed, and shown to our popcorn-chomping audiences around the world.

So right now, UWT is still in the infancy of its life in Hollywood. It's popped out of the womb, gotten a few slaps to the rump, a footprint, and a birth certificate. But it ain't grown up yet. It ain't even a toddler.

At this point, there's nothing I can do to help my baby grow up. It is all out of my hands. All I can hope for is that the foster parents who want to adopt my precious will cough up a goodly amount of dough for him. I've already signed away my parental rights. The only thing I can do now is have another baby and see if anybody wants it.

*****

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