Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Amateur (short film)

I know enough about editing to know that this is practically a masterpiece:

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

New blog about "it's"

I started a new blog, nothing fancy... just something to humiliate any editor using it's as a possessive instead of a contraction. If you spot "it's" on a web site whose editors should know better, let me know and I'll post it. Most blogs are immune.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Um... thanks!

Tracie and I found out yesterday that we're going to have a baby girl in April! The ultrasounds look awesome—all major bones and organs have reported for duty. Gawd, that girl can kick up a storm.

Longtime Blogger readers will remember my Red Letter Day on August 3rd... that was the day we found out Tracie was pregnant. We didn't want to say anything so early in the pregnancy (bad things can happen in the first 3 months), but we're 20 weeks as of today so it's time for another Janet and Justin nipplegate.

(For the record, Tracie first felt her kick on November 5th, 6:38PM while we were watching Carolina. Stupid Ross! We should have been watching Battlestar Galactica!)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Readers have been Aroused...

Here's a sampling of the feedback I've gotten about my feature screenplay Arousal:

I was held captive throughout and didn't put it down.... The story line and plot kept my attention from page one to the end. —J.M.

Gross, disgusting and horrifying... An entertaining read.... I read it from start to finish nonstop because the story moved along so well.... definitely marketable. —G.G.

A solid script that stands a good chance of being a successful film.... the story had me fully engaged by the end. —R.C.

Huge potential.... has enough sex/nudity to get you 3 consecutive NC-17 ratings without parole. —D.R.

With the right actors, even on a shoe-string budget, this baby will become a cult classic because it is well-written and entertaining.... one of the finest horror films I've ever read... I would buy the DVD for $15.99 if it went direct to DVD. —J.L.

Marvelous, simply marvelous. I love your writing. —M.S.

You have the three major items that make a horror film for me: gore, nudity, and the use of alcohol or drugs.... it kicked into overdrive and you had my undivided attention. —L.I.

A really interesting and good script.... the ending was pretty awesome. —W.R.

I'm not usually a fan of zombie movies, but this one is original enough that it's more than just a zombie movie. —S.C.

There were moments when I jumped, moments when I exclaimed, "Oh my God!", and moments when I was so scared that I looked over my own shoulder. —C.L.

I enjoyed it. Especially the ending! Brilliant. —A.R.

Intrigued by the premise... —S.D.

You are a sick sick puppy and obviously have some issues to work out. Having said that, I must say I loved all the really dark and disturbing aspects of the script. —P.N.

I really got into the script... never got bored. —T.T.

Thrilling... —A.S.

I was trepidatious, nervous, nail-biting and excited-scared... —Z.B.

As you can see, the response to Arousal's early draft is overwhelmingly positive, which is always nice to hear because it means my many months of "dark room ponderings" haven't been completely for naught...

However, not all Arousal's feedback is laudative, and the constructive comments are an ideal jumping off point to hone Arousal into something even better. Reader feedback is like a film's test audience—it identifies which parts are universally loved... and universally loathed. Certainly, I have a vision of the story I want to tell and I want to get as close to that vision as possible, but I also don't want to tell a story that makes every reader throw the script across the room after reading the final FADE OUT.

A great story is like a musical piece—it should make almost every reader feel some sort of resonance by the end, even if that resonance is dissonant only to them. Not everyone is going to appreciate acid jazz or house music or thrash metal, but they should be able to see there's something appealing about that brand of whimsey to other people. Brazil, for example, has an ending you either love or hate—likewise, some readers are not going to like Arousal. My focus, then, is about how uneven that love/hate ratio is, and whether I can live with that margin.

One of the best uses for feedback is uncovering all the "false notes", the weak links in the chain which yank the reader out of the story: flat dialogue, clumsy plot development, improbable setups or payoffs, typos... all these jolt the reader and ruin the story's pace and tension. Thanks to all your wonderful feedback, most of those weak links have been mended, for which I'm extremely grateful; when you start to know a script inside out, your eye skips right over the most obvious problems. When we finally roll cameras next year, all you feedback readers can be assured a place on the IMDB as a story consultant! I couldn't have done it without you!!!
Saepa stilum vertas, iterum
quae digna legi sint scripturas.

Turn the stylus frequently if you wish to write
something worthy of being reread.

—Horace, Satires, vol. 1, X, p. 72-73

Monday, November 13, 2006

Friday Night's Car Accident

True story:

Friday night, while driving at night on the causeway to Jane & Charles' engagement party in Davis, at a law-abiding 65 miles per hour, I saw something on the road ahead of me. At first, I thought it was a car's back fender, but it was too roundish. It could have been a basketball or soccer ball, but its size was way too large and the pattern looked more like a beach ball than a soccer ball.

My brain got stuck.

This mystery sphere was a bizarre 3 feet tall... and now I'm thinking, what the hell is a 3 foot beach ball doing in the middle of the road? Do they even make beach balls 3 feet tall? Is it actually a 3 foot beach ball on the road or is my brain playing tricks on me? Maybe it's just some dirt on my windshield... a fleck of dirt or mud or—

In the time I realized it actually was a 3 foot beach ball on the road, it was 2 feet in front of my car. In a dreadful instant, I knew there was absolutely nothing I could do. I couldn't swerve or brake. In fact, if I'd swerved or braked, I would certainly have made things worse. I was powerless.

As Winston Churchill once said, "When you're going through hell... keep going."

I squinched my eyes tight...

SCHWACK... ku-thunk

My car ran right over it, launched about a foot into the air like Bo & Luke Duke, then landed again. Nothing happened to me or my car. I was okay.

After a brief moment of shock, I glanced into my rear view mirror and saw nothing. No swerving cars. Zip. It was as if nothing had even happened. I probably popped it.

Of course, I dialed 911 to tell them about my mysterious beach ball. I'll never know if I saved a life or not with that phone call. All I know is that I dodged a bullet Friday night. Had that 3 foot beach ball been a person, I would like to think my brain wouldn't have gotten stuck... that I'd have swerved or done something, anything. Instead, I'm left to dwell on a solitary, terrifying truth: had that beach ball been a person, instead of me typing this, I'd probably be in jail, in the hospital, or the morgue.

My dad once said, "Driving means you control two tons of metal. Don't ever take that responsibility lightly."

Left hand at 10AM, right hand at 2PM. Eyes on the road. Drive safely.

Friday, November 10, 2006

My Famous Brined Turkey Recipe

Since everyone's search engines are suddenly trolling for a scrumptious way to roast a bird, here's my famous brined turkey recipe. I mean, my god, just look at this beauty:

That's last year's bird, a whopping 23 pounder. We fed a lot of happy villagers with this bird before retiring to a murderous game of Werewolf. For all you über-nerds, you can even see the actual printed recipe I used last year.

If you do make this turkey, please let me know what you think!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Last call for AROUSAL feedback

Attention Feedback Readers!

I'm compiling all my feedback for Arousal and would love to hear your comments if you haven't sent them in yet. In this busy world, I know it can be daunting to write a commentary sufficiently meeting your own expectations, but if you can spare just five minutes to briefly tell me what you thought of Arousal, and specifically what you thought of the ending, I'd be very grateful. You've read Arousal by now, so why not jot down a few notes that might guide me in tackling Draft 3? (And Janey, you're exempt from this, so you know.)

By the way, I've gotten some excellent feedback so far. You are all the cat's meow. Or the bee's knees. Or something quaint. I love all your reactions, even the negative ones!

Finally, I'm shooting for Draft 3 to be complete by December 15. So start getting excited!