Thursday, January 31, 2008

My Chat with Mary

The left speaker on my laptop is no longer working. Please enjoy my conversation with Mary_GWER1660, a Gateway Customer Service Rep whom I suspect is a robot. A foreign robot.

Mary_GWER1660 says: Since you have mentioned that the right speaker is working, it simply means that the software and the integrated sound is working fine. It is possible that the speaker is have a loose internal connection.

Ed Placencia says: Does that mean I need to bring it in to the store?

Ed Placencia says: Or should I just shake it?

Mary_GWER1660 says: It is recommended that you send it back for repair to avoid further damage\

Ed Placencia says: OOOOOk. :(

Mary_GWER1660 says: I hope the information has adequately addressed your concerns. Is there anything that I can be of help to you?

Ed Placencia says: No, I guess that's it. Thanks for trying. Boo.

Mary_GWER1660 says: It was a pleasure working with you. My name and badge number are Mary_GWER1660. Thank you for using Gateway Remote Assistance and have a great day.

Ed Placencia says: It was a pleasure working with you too. Don't be a stranger.

Mary_GWER1660 says: Thanks.

Mary_GWER1660 says: Take care.

Ed Placencia says: I will. You take care as well. Have a good 2008.

Mary_GWER1660 says: Thanks.

Ed Placencia says: Are you a robot?

Mary_GWER1660 says: If you have no further concerns, you can click on End Session to close this window.

Ed Placencia says: Robot.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Sarah and I were sitting at the kitchen table this morning when we heard the familiar buzz of a cell phone on "vibrate." At first I thought someone was calling me but it turned out to be Sarah's phone, the alarm set to 8:20.

A few minutes later the buzzing started again and Sarah said, "It must be 8:22."

I laughed. "You have your alarm set to 8:20 and 8:22?"

"Yeah," she said.

I couldn't think of why on earth she would have the alarms set to such seemingly random times.

"What happens at 8:20?" I asked.

Without hesitating she answered, "The first alarm goes off."

Monday, January 28, 2008

Just Hand Over the Goods

Right now Sarah and I are on a pretty strict budget. So, understandably, I was quite happy to win a coupon for a free gallon of Turkey Hill ice cream while I was at staff retreat last week. Sarah and I walked down to Turkey Hill to scope out our options and saw they were having a sale: Two for 6 bucks. That's a good price but when you're on a budget sometimes you have to bypass a good deal.

We took our gallon of ice cream and coupon and went to the front counter and the cashier told us, "You know we're having a sale on this. Two for $6."

"Yeah," I muttered to myself, "But I want one for free."

Friday, January 25, 2008

...And the Oscar (Hopefully) Doesn't Go To...

With the announcement of the Academy Award nominations this week, I have been working on my picks and predictions. Who will take home an Oscar this year? What will the ceremony be like in lieu of the writer's strike that blankets over Hollywood like the wrath of He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named?

As I pore over the nominations I have come to the realization that a couple of the categories really stand out to me. I sincerely hope Ratatouille wins for Sound Editing, The Bourne Ultimatum for Sound Mixing, and Pirates of the Caribbean:At World's End for Visual Effects. Not because I'm terribly passionate about these films winning.

It's just that I never ever ever ever ever want to hear the phrase "...from the Academy Award winning Transformers."

Monday, January 21, 2008

Shut My Mouth

Life is filled with all kinds of opportunities to learn and one thing I'm learning is to keep my mouth shut. Or, more specifically, when to keep my mouth shut.

As much as I think of myself as an easy-going and carefree guy, I almost hate to admit that I actually have a lot of routines and have become a creature of habit. You have to do something this way or that way. Well, you don't have to do it a certain way but there are certainly better ways of doing something.

Or at least that's the mindset I realize I have. Or had. Have. But I'm trying to shake it.

Marriage will definitely show you areas you need to work on and brings to light all of those rough edges that may need smoothed out a bit. Sarah, whether she wants to or not, has been teaching me that I don't have all the answers or know all the "right" ways. I know. You're probably as surprised as I am, because I pretty much thought I had everything figured out.

The biggest area I've been challenged on, oddly enough, is cooking. Sarah approaches the kitchen differently than I do and I can learn something from her outlook. Let's say the subject is a pasta dish. I'll go online or check one of my cookbooks and find out what I need. If it calls for a cup of sauce, I'll measure out a cup. A half teaspoon of garlic warrants a half teaspoon. I follow the directions step-by-step and am usually rewarded with a tasty meal.

Sarah tackles it entirely differently. If Sarah wants to make that same pasta dish, she jumps in and just....starts to make it. Tackling it from a I-think-this-is-probably-what-goes-in point of view, mixed with a what-if-I-put-this-in approach straight from Ratatouille she goes to town. Measuring cups and measuring spoons are nowhere to be found.

I found myself warning Sarah about doing it "that way." You can't just throw things in there and hope it's the right combination. That's not how it's done, shouldn't be how it's done, and is only a recipe for disaster.

And sometimes I was right. Sometimes there was too much garlic or things would burn. But being right never brought the satisfaction I would normally get from proving myself correct and I wasn't sure why.

Some girl once told me that Elijah Wood (he played Frodo in the Lord of the Rings trilogy) played the little kid from E.T. I told her that no, that kid's name is Henry Thomas. And she insisted it was Elijah Wood. We went back and forth and I finally had to email her a link to IMDb (Internet Movie Database) to prove I was right. And that felt good. I showed her.

But in the case of Sarah and her cooking, I never felt good or vindicated when it turned out I was correct in my warnings.

And I don't think I should.

It shouldn't be about who's right or wrong (or more specifically if I'm right or wrong). I was thinking about this early this morning and realize now that every time I tell her that she's doing it wrong, her method is incorrect, it sends the message I don't trust you.

And the most ironic thing about it? I end up criticizing one of the things about her I love most: her zeal for life, the fact that she goes into it knowing she can do it -- the fact that she can't never enters her mind -- doubt never settles in long enough to tell her otherwise. I could use a little bit of that myself.

Last night Sarah wanted to make quesadillas. I've never made them myself but have been in the kitchen when my uncle John made them. The point is I've never made them myself. And yet for some reason when Sarah said she was going to try to cook them in the oven I still felt the need to point out they are cooked on the stove top in a griddle.

And then I stopped.

I wasn't helping. I wasn't doing any good. If anything, I was taking the joy of cooking out of it. And even though my tone was friendly what I was saying was wrong. She's showing love by cooking my dinner and all the thanks I had to offer was to let her know she wasn't doing it the right way?

I was instantly angry with myself. Who was I to say what's right and what isn't? How long ago was it when I was trying things for the first time and they didn't always turn out like the picture on the box? It wasn't so long ago that I should have forgotten about it already.

I decided to shut my mouth and let Sarah do her thing. And she rocked it out. I don't even know how she ended up making them and I didn't ask. I ate an entire plateful and even had some of hers that she couldn't finish. She did an amazing job and I was again upset that I would ever think to tell her she was wrong.

I'd like to blame the fact that I was sick all weekend for my lack of tact and thought, but why make excuses? To paraphrase Steve Martin, sometimes I'm just a big dumb guy.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Top Movies of 2007

Usually each January I poll my friends to find out what they thought the best movies of the previous year were. This year I decided to do something a little different and go to a few select pals who usually have some interesting insight and ask them to write about their top picks.

And so without further ado, here they are. The Best of 2007 according to people I know. And me.

My picks:

1. The Simpsons Movie
Quite simply the movie that made me laugh the most and the hardest all year. And I laughed a lot this year. Going into it I was a bit nervous about how much I'd like it because I haven't seen the TV series in about 8 years. But I didn't miss a thing because, quite simply, when something is funny, it's funny. And this was funny.
2. Dan in Real Life
Maybe I missed all the buzz on this one. But probably closer to the truth is the fact that there really wasn't any, and that's a shame. This one kinda slipped under everyone's radar and I don't really get why. I mean, after Little Miss Sunshine it should come as no surprise that Steve Carell can do a movie that isn't Anchorman-slapstick and still make a great movie (and be funny). Dan is no exception. When Dan sings his song in front of the a great scene. I almost lost it, I freely admit it. Plus Dane Cook. Score.
3. Hot Fuzz
The guys who brought you Shaun of the Dead are back (along with most of the S.O.T.D. cast) and finally cop/buddy movies are fun again.
4. Sunshine
Loved it. Blogged about it. Read it.
5. Ratatouille
Really, can Pixar do no wrong?
6. Once
I could go on and on about how cool this Irish indie film is but every time I've tried to tell someone about it, I never seem to capture how cool it actually is, so you'll just have to take my word for it. If you're a music fan, this is a definite must-see.
7. Superbad
Yes it was raunchy. Yes it was rude. Yes when it was over Sarah turned to me and said, "I hope our kids don't talk like that." But that doesn't mean I we didn't laugh our heads off.
8. 3:10 to Yuma
Once again Russell Crowe (an actor I hate) stars in a western movie (a genre I hate) and I loved it. Between this and The Quick and the Dead he's a wily guy.
9. Knocked Up
Yea. I admit it. I've become a Judd Apatow fan. But who hasn't?
10. Grindhouse
This is one of those you-had-to-be-there films. Seeing this in the theater was a roller coaster ride like nothing I've experienced at the theater. A double feature of crazily over-the-top action films with ridiculous fake trailers in between. My buddies and I (but not my brother) experienced a ride that may never be captured again.

My Worst of '07
I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry - Hey...anybody know where I can hear some really bad gay jokes? Over and over. And over. And over. And over. And over. (Repeat as desired)
Reno 911 - Aw, man....and I really like the TV show. I think the whole premise of the movie was " mean we don't have to blur out the boobs? DONE." And as a result, they ended up blurring out the funny.
Pirates 3- Hi, I'm Johnny Depp. How about in this one it's just me running around the boat but the boat's crew is a hundred other me's? But for no real reason. It'll be fun!
Transformers - I really thought I was going to like this one and then halfway through realized "Oh wait...I'm not a 17-year old."

Keith Soljacich is a writer/filmmaker living in the Chicago area. His work has been recognized at the Chicago 48 Hour Film Festival three years in a row, and in 2007 his short film Last Hand won the City Award to compete in the National finals.

Went in to the year with high hopes came out with mostly disappointment

1. Knocked Up
I picked this as my favorite movie of 07 because I had really high hopes going in to the movie and it exceeded my expectations. It was easily the funniest movie of the year, and for me a good comedy goes a long way.
2. The Simpsons Movie
3. American Gangster
4. Hot Fuzz
5. Superbad
6. 300
7. Grindhouse
8. Zodiac
9. Aliens vs. Predator
10. Hot Rod

Balls of Fury (surprise surprise), Everything but Venom in Spidey 3, Good Luck Chuck, Rush Hour 3, Black Snake Moan (boring), License to Wed

Best TV of 07
Lost, Curb Your Enthusiasm (You got some long ass balls Larry), 30 Rock, Weeds, The Soup, The Office

Best Shows I Never Watched Before 2007 (Netflix is great)
Dexter, House, Weeds, Veronica Mars, Monk

John Allenlives in Louisville and works in sales with EMI in the national music retail division. John has also worked at Gotee Records in the same capacity and is an aficionado of all pop culture. John also maintains a great blog.
There were a ton of films I didn't see this year. In fact, if I had seen everything I wanted to, I would have probably had a completely different list. But all that said here is my end of the year ten best and a few random awards:

Biggest Misuse of Talent:We Own The Night/ Duvall.

Pheonix. Walberg. Mendes' Breast (just one). And its a cop story set 20 years ago. What more did it need? A plot that ways at least marginally believable. Oh and something more believable than a cocaine using Jaoquin leading a police raid 10 minutes after we see him doing said cocaine.

Movie I Refuse To See Since Ed's On the Cutting Room Floor: August Rush

Biggest Destruction of a Well Performing Series: Spider Man 3.

Everyone's mailing it in and Spidey has never been a bigger joke than in this one. Reluctant Hero? That's Tobey Mac. Cocky Superstud? Not so much.

Biggest Hypocrite: Robert Redford/Meryl Streep/Tom Cruise/Lion From Lambs

They spend two hours having what seems to be a logical discussion of the war on terror, only to have it come to conclusion of how all the right wing/republican perspective is propaganda and lies for foolish kids to believe, which really just makes the whole movie feel like left wing propaganda. Could have been so much more.

The Top Ten

1a) 3:10 To Yuma

I Never saw the original and honestly its not all that original, but I love a good western. This one killed me. I went in with low expectations and was happily blown away. Ben Foster is downright sinister and always brings something to the table. On a related note, Christian Bale is steadily becoming one of my favorite actors.

1b) The Kingdom

I love these type of films and the trailer had me dying to see it. Nothing but a bunch of actors I love and a great "state of our times" kind of story. Here's a hint Hollywood: if you put Chris Cooper in it, chances are I will least pay the "on demand" fee to see it (ala Breach). But here is why it was so great. It tackled a political theme and did so without turning into a propaganda piece (for the right or the left). Tim McGraw is on screen for 2 minutes tops and literally moved Kara and I to tears (almost). Just a great film. A thrill ride with plot, dialogue and characters (someone forgot to tell Bruckheimer or Bay this is possible). Great movie!

2.5) Juno

3) American Gangster

True Story? Check. Oscar Winning Actors? Check and check? Good Supporting cast? A little overuse of rappers as actors, but nonetheless check.

This movie was pretty good. Only one thing bothered me. As a true story the writers knew how it would end (stop reading here if you haven't seen it......)

The knew Washington and Crowe's characters would end up working together to take down bigger criminals. They knew the two would become friends. If they knew this, than why spend so much time turning Washington's character into such a cold-blooded killer/criminal? Why showing violently killing so many people and being blind to his own ambition to end the movie on the "hey look we're buddies now" tip? Other than that, good movie

4) Meet The Robinsons

We are forced at times to take Jake to movies we would never choose to see ourselves. On a trip in March to Ohio Jake and I went and saw this. Kara's grandpa was dying and I needed to get Jake out of the hospital before he started climbing the walls. This was the only kids friendly film at the theater in the little town so we went. In short we got a great movie with a tremendous message and some really fun laughs. Sure its campy, but its a kids flick so whaddya want?!? Haven't seen it? You should.

5 & 6) Harry Potter/Bourne Ultimatum

Here's the deal. You would really have to "mail it in" for you to screw up these series in my life. I love the Harry films and this is the best one yet. They successfully managed to capture the bulk of what was the biggest of the books to this point and not leave mush out. The only knock on this film is it could have been longer. Same thing with Bourne. The movies are not even close to the books but I love the action and the attitude. Damon was Bourne * to play the role and they tap into Bond style espionage, better than Bond ever has.

(*thanks Gene Shalit)

7 & 8) Knocked Up/Superbad Combo

To you its fairly obvious why these should count as one film, so I will throw this out there, as it is a great story.

I'm in Ft Lauderdale with my boy Rick, who is a pastor here in KY. Rick has to be pretty selective with what he goes to see in theaters as he works with kids and you never know when one might walk out of the theater and ask what you're seeing. Can't tell an impressionable 15 yr old, you're seeing "Knocked Up." So Ricky often doesn't see these until they are ON Demand. Well, we're in FTL and we decide we're gonna see a movie. We want to see Superbad, but it doesn't start for another hour to which, Rick says, well I haven't seen "Knocked Up" yet and its ON Demand back at the hotel. This leads me to say, in front of about 10 people no less, "well, let's go back to the hotel and get Knocked Up." Good times

9) Grindhouse

Really not much of a Tarantino fan but his half of this B Movie double feature stands up well over time. Rodriguez is one of my favs and he delivers as usual here. It's worth it if only for the fake movie trailers with such great tag lines as: "White Met. Dark Meat. This year everyone gets carved. "

10) Live Free or Die Hard

Cheesy as hades at times, but John McClaine gets the nod here, for one line in the movie. There's a scene were he's riding with his sidekick (the guy from "Accepted" and the Mac commercials) and there having this talk about why McClaine is always trying to be the hero and McClaine says because no else is. Perfect. It fits in the movie, but it also speaks to my generation a bit. McClaine, Rambo and Balboa are all back because, there's an abscence of that type of hero in movies today. Nostalgic piece, but I enjoyed it.

Stacey Gagne works at WJTL and is deeply involved in music, movies, and all things pop culture. Stacey is also a published writer and keeps a blog at Infuze.

Amazing Grace: Powerful and Inspiring
The Bucket List. Great Mix of comedy and drama. I laughed, I cried, I reminded myself to get my passport and get to livin!
PS I Love You. Sweet love story, not necessarily the expected ending.
Hairspray: fun, and I always love a musical
Music and Lyrics Drew and Hugh... what could be better
Wild Hogs: Great cast, I like a movie I can watch with anyone once in a while.
Shrek the Third You gotta love a Shrek movie, although i feel like the jokes are all out on the table now...
Pirates: Again, well done, but nothing beats the first one
Spider Man 3: I liked the darkness of this one
Premonition: lots of twists, but so heart breaking!!

Others I saw:
> Evan Almighty: cute but not hysterical, just cute
> Blades of Glory: funny, but too raunchy for me
> Ratatouille: cute and fun, I think I enjoyed it more because of the company I was with... I think it might have been a little slow otherwise
> Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: another Harry...
> Atonement: well done, but so depressing... I can't bring myself to put in my top 10

Brad Moist is a movie and music wizard. We also met at Gotee Records and he went on to found the record label Mono Vs Stereo. Brad is still involved in the music and is a contributing music reviewer for CCM Magazine. Brad not only has his hand on the pulse of what is cool but also what is about to be cool.

2. The Kingdom
3. 300
4. Sunshine
5. The Lookout
6. 30 Days of Night
7. Shoot 'Em Up
8. Live Free or Die Hard
9. Smokin' Aces
10. Disturbia

Sarah Placencia is a fitness instructor who can also make one mean white mocha (being a Barista Supreme will have that affect). She loves movies and has declared her goal of becoming a movie geek.

1. Hot Fuzz
I  am a big fan of 'Shaun of the Dead' and I am definitely planning on seeing 'Run, Fat Boy, Run!'. Simon Pegg, yeah he's cool.
2. Mr. Bean's Holiday
I could watch this movie over and over. Rowan Atkinson is brilliant!
3. Ratatouille
Very cute movie.WARNING: Do not think you are a chef after seeing this movie, some foods should not be made into soup. My bad.
4. Simpsons Movie
Pure Classic. This was actually the first movie that I watched by myself in the theater and I still laughed out loud, alot.
5. Once
This movie was great. At first I had wished for a different ending, but then I thought 'who am I to think it should end a certain way?' And in a way it didn't really have an ending. It was a film about new beginnings, which are stories that I'm all for.
6. Superbad
Sure these guys are crude and cuss like sailors but in the end, they really are 'gentlemen'. And it goes to show how important friendships really all together...'aaaawwwwww'.
7. Sweeney Todd
Hmmmm. The music, the makeup, the actors were very intriguing. Who knew that I would actually rooting for their 'meat pie' shop to flourish...I'm gonna go see my psych...right now.
8.Shoot Em' Up
Am I dude? Sometimes I wonder....heh, but I actually really like this movie. It had a Rodriguez/Tarantino feel to it. And I have a weird # that I see at random times in my life. It shows up in this movie for a split second, right before it gets 'shot up'. Look for it; 1026......yeah I'm weird.
9.Freedom Writers
This movie is true story that shows the determination of one teacher reaching out to help her students excel, not only at school but in life. It's encouraging to see how one person can do so much. Highly recommended.
10.August Rush
I'd say this movie was pretty much amazing. It made me really appreciate music, and I don't even play anything. Great story as well.

Todd Sattison is my oldest friend...not that he's the oldest person I know, but that we've known each other  were 4 and 5 years old. Todd's a big movie buff who's always up for a trip to the theater.

1.300- The best I've seen this year. THIS IS SPARTA!!!! What a wonderful film.
2.Smokin Aces-  Fantastic Cast. Ryan Reynolds was really good in this.
3.The Number 23- I'm not sure why I liked this movie so much. It just had me from beginning to end.
4.Fracture- Nobody plays the part like Anthony Hopkins.
5.Disturbia- I rented this movie and thought I would hate it and I ended up loving it.
6.Mr. Brooks- I really have to rave about this movie. Kevin Costner was great as a bad guy. The "I can't believe I didn't see this sooner movie".
7.1408- I really don't like Cusack that much, but he pulled it together for this Stephen King story.
8.The Bourne Ultimatum- Love this story. Can't wait for the next one???????
9.Superbad- Funniest movie I have seen this year.
10. 3:10 to Yuma- Crowe and Bale were both great in this western.
Going to see No Country for Old Men this weekend and could bump someone.'d we do? Agree with our picks? Think we're way off? Leave us a comment below with your thoughts!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Say What You Mean

I had a meeting yesterday with someone I'm not a big fan of (and, truth be told, they're probably not president of the Ed Fan Club, either). They had me shut the door to the office when I entered and as soon as I sat they glared at me and grumbled, "Ok, I'm not judging you."

Which made me laugh because when someone shoots M-80s at you with their eyes and says, "Ok, I'm not judging you" we all know what they're really saying is, "Hey guess what? I'm totally gonna judge you."

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Little "Sunshine"

I'm getting ready to do my annual "Top Movies of the Year" blog and have bumped all of the films that came out in 2007 to the top of my Netflix list in an attempt to see as many films that I missed as possible before the deadline next week.

This weekend Sarah and I watched a movie neither of us knew anything about but, thanks to a rave review in "Entertainment Weekly," it didn't slip past us. Actually I probably shouldn't speak for Sarah because I don't know if she really liked it as much as I did. So I'll just say that I loved Sunshine.

The premise of the film is a little laughable: It's the future and the sun is dying so a crew of folks have been sent into space to shoot a bomb into the sun and jump-start it. I know, I know, I thought the same thing. No wonder I've never heard of it. Sounds like something on the bottom shelf at the video store that my Dad would bring home.

I was wrong.

I'll start off by saying I was grateful this film avoided the familiar trap that so many "a-team-of-scientists/explorers/adventurers-are-sent-into-space/the jungle/underwater" films fall into. Sure the personalities on the team are varied but there isn't the usual Tough Lesbian or Macho Jock or Sniveling Coward or Black Guy in Camouflage character that seems to populate every other film in this genre. And I gotta say, it was refreshing. They were just a bunch of people on a spaceship doing what you would assume people would do on a spaceship. No one chomped on a cigar while holding a machine gun and no one did chin-ups every morning and no one--no one--sported a tough New Joizey accent.

MMmmmm, I'm enjoying the freshness already!

Without trying to sound to punny, there was a lot of space in this film; a lot of time to breathe and some of the scenes that were the strongest were those without words. The director (the same guy who did Trainspotting) let the visuals speak for themselves without feeling the need to over-explain everything to the audience with needless exposition.

The film will no doubt be compared to Stanley Kubrick's 2001:A Space Odyssey and I don't think that's fair. Mostly because I thought 2001 sucked. Big time. I know it's a classic, I know it's on every critic's must-see and best-of list, and I know I'm supposed to like it. But I didn't. In my opinion (which happens to be the one I prefer) it's a long, drawn-out, overrated piece of space poop. If you haven't seen it, let me break it down for you:

Monkeys in the middle of the desert find a big stone...thing. Then suddenly we're in a spaceship and the spaceship gets a mind of its own and decides to take over and kills the crew. The last crew member dies--I think--but then suddenly isn't dead and instead is transported to a big white IKEA showroom and has dinner with some dude. The End.

Confused? Yea, me too. Consider yourself lucky. I sat through the entire 7-hour snoozefest telling myself Ok, this HAS to get better....At some point this will all make sense. Surprise!!! It doesn't and it won't.

Where was I? I got sidetracked a bit but my loathing for the 2001 hype actually makes me angry.

Oh wait, I remember....

Sunshine, though, is good. You're not quite sure what is around the corner and that's a good thing. I had never seen any trailers for it, which any more love to give away everything about the plot whether or not it ruins it for you. It was nice to be in a situation for once where I could relate to the characters because I didn't know what would happen next. And by the end of the film, I had answers. Whether I agreed with them or not or whether I liked them or not, at least I had them.

Here, a few days after seeing the film, I still find myself thinking about it, contemplating the characters I met along the way and the decisions that were made on their journey. And it's been a long time since a film did that. And that's the true test of a good film, I think. Not only did I enjoy the couple hours I spent watching it, but it also provided residual enjoyment. And that's something a group of apes grunting at a stone monolith can never do for you.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Feeling Festive

Today I am submitting to my very first film festival ever. My buddy Hiram Ring gave me the heads up about a week ago and I thought I'd give it a shot. It's the Rumschpringe:Winter 2008 Very Short Film Festival and my package is all ready to be sent out.

In case you're curious, the film I am submitting is my comedic (hopefully) short film, The Failures of Ed. I'll keep you posted if I hear anything back. Wish me luck!

Friday, January 11, 2008

A Fisher of Fishes

Last night I had a dream that, I believe, was full of metaphors and symbolism. Unfortunately, I'm not good at that kind of thing so just a heads up to God that if You're trying to tell me something, I ain't gettin' it. You might try using handwriting on the wall; I'm not one for picking up on subtle hints. But if possible, please use something that is easily removed from the wall, as I want to get back my security deposit.

I've forgotten most of it except the end: In my dream I knocked over a huge 50-gallon aquarium that belonged to my brother and I immediately began scampering around trying to save all the fish. I realize now how stupid it was because for such a huge tank, only holding 7 or 8 tiny fish now seems like overkill.

A few of the fish stopped flopping around and I feared they were dead because they had turned hard and solid like wood chips. However, I put them in a pot I filled with water and after a few seconds they were OK again. So yea, I pretty much saved the day. Although if I hadn't knocked the aquarium over in the first place, we wouldn't have had to worry about it at all.

So that was my weird dream last night. If it was a coded message or warning of some sort, I'm sorry. No comprendo. If a pet store is attacked today or if Mrs. Paul falls into a vat of fish batter I'm sorry I didn't warn you ahead of time. I'm only one man.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Did You Hear Something?

There have been times when I have found myself in a public restroom. And there have also been times when I would hear noises in that bathroom, disturbing noises echoing from inside the stall. Noises that no human should ever have to hear. Sometimes it's a low rumbling and sometimes it sounds like a peacock being beaten to death with a sock full of tootsie pops. Sometimes the person in the stall responsible for the noises makes noises in reaction to the noises as if they are surprised or startled or angry (and maybe they are...perhaps even all three at once).

"What the-?"

The part that intrigues me, though, is the part when I'm at the sink washing my hands and the person comes out from inside the stall and looks at me and smiles like he didn't just shoot rocks and sulfur out of his butt.

And it's very hard for me to not just start yelling at them, "Are you kidding me?! How can you even show your face?! What's wrong with you?! You should be ashamed of yourself!! In fact, you should be hiding in that stall right now, waiting to come out until after I leave because you should be ashamed to look me in the eye!! How dare you sit in there and grunt and groan and curse and swear and heave and ho and make me listen to your rectal shenanigans and then come out here and act like I couldn't hear you and smile at me like your butt isn't burning?! Unclean!! Unclean!! Don't touch me!!!! Un-freaking-clean!!!"

But I don't. I never do anything cool.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Hello. Care if I bring you down?

Foul-weather friends. Can't stand 'em.

We're all familiar with the more-popular "fair weather friend," the people you never ever hear from until something goes well for you. Just ask people who have a lake cottage if they hear from their buddies more often in June or December. You just got a big-screen plasma TV? Great. Guess who's going to get drop-in visits from his long-lost buddies Sunday afternoon while the game is on? You won the lottery? Super. Your 4th cousin thrice-removed has been trying to get in touch with you.

But I guess I'd rather have a fair-weather friend than a foul-weather friend. At least with fair-weather friends it means something good happened to you.

Not so with the dreaded "fouler." These are people who consider you a friend (no comment on how you may actually feel about them) who only contact you when they want to stir up some drama. You never get a "how you doing" or a "for the heck of it" call. Nah. What's the use in that? Can't use it.

But if someone hurts their feelings or does something they don't agree with or looks at them the wrong way, then let's go to the phone lines.

Don't get me wrong. If my pals are going through a genuinely rough time I'm the first to lend an ear. I want to be there and I want to help. If, however, your diet consists of gossip, rumor, complaining, and drama then please lose my number. Life is wayyyy too short to let the little things get you down.

A couple of weeks ago in church the preacher was talking about a bad day he had. In the morning he was shortchanged $7.00 in a transaction and was unable to get it back. It kind of set things into motion and ruined his day from that point on. We've all been there; get the day started on the wrong foot and sometimes it's hard to get back into rhythm. By the end of the day this guy had thought about this and stewed and pondered over it and then it hit him: He sold his joy for seven bucks.

What kind of state are we in when losing seven dollars or stepping in a puddle or something equally minute can rob us of happiness for an entire day? And if that's not bad enough, why do we insist on bringing others into our depressing state of mind over nothing?

I'm talking to myself here, not just pointing the finger at others. Misery does indeed love company. But that doesn't mean company loves misery.

There's too much in life to laugh at and not enough time to laugh at it all. Instead of getting involved in the drama, why not take time to check out the comedy?

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Results Are In

I just got off the phone a few minutes ago with the director from the Ephrata Playhouse regarding "The Pillowman" callback I went to yesterday. It seems that he decided to go with The Other Guy for the role I was up for. It's all good though (for real, and for honest) because The Other Guy (no disrespect...I just don't remember his name) did a really good job at the callback and he made me laugh. He's a funny guy.*

The director did ask if I would be interested in playing a much smaller role in the play and I said sure. He sounded surprised that I would accept. Maybe it was because I started off reading for the lead role and he didn't think I'd take a smaller role? Or maybe it was because he was hoping I'd turn it down. Hm. Let me think on that one. :)

He also indicated he'd like me to come back to the season callbacks, which are callbacks for all of the shows the theater will be doing this season. He told me he'd like me to read for a role in "A Streetcar Named Desire" and also for an improv show revolving around fairy tales.

Now you're talking my language. :)

*This is a quote from Three Amigos! by the bad guy Jefe, played by Alfonso Arau. I am unable to say the words "He's a funny guy" without saying it in my bad Mexican accent. Just thought I'd let you know. Thank you, John Landis!

The Callback

Yesterday I went to a callback for the play "The Pillowman." (For those of you who don't know what a callback is, it's basically the second round of auditions. Kinda like when you watch "American Idol" and some kids get the yellow slip of paper to "go to Hollywood, dog" for a second look.)

I went to the audition last month and was given a copy of the script to peruse for yesterday. It's an extremely dark comedy and although the things I were reading were horrible I was impressed with the writing that I still found myself laughing at what was going on. If it happens that I'm cast in the show, I'm in for a fun time.

So how did it go, yesterday? Eh. I don't know. There were about 10 of us there and it started by each of us introducing ourselves, talking about which part(s) we liked, and our general over-all thoughts on the play. From there they had us read a few different scenes quite a few times and the director would mix it up a bit each time, having someone read a different part, so he could get a feel of who might fit where.

I felt I did OK. But of course, when I would finish each reading I didn't sit down and think about how well I did but would find myself wondering what I should have done differently. Second-guessing yourself like that can really wreak havoc on your brain if you let it (and I sometimes do)so I decided to just let what happens happen and enjoy the other auditioners.

There's a law in the stand-up world that the worst crowd to play to is a crowd of comedians. No one wants to laugh because by laughing you're letting the audience, the club manager, the talent scout know that "Hey that guy on stage is funny! I may not be, but boy he sure is!!" Sometimes it's the same thing at auditions. You don't want to respond positively to other people auditioning because ultimately, you're going against that person, and you don't want to give them any extra leverage.

I say screw all that.

If there's anything I learned doing improv at the National Comedy Theatre, it's that it's about teamwork; doing what you can to make the other guy look good. Life's too short to worry about the whole competition part of it. It as nice to be able to sit back between readings and laugh and enjoy the other guys auditioning. They were really good, a really talented bunch of guys, and I'm always up for seeing talented people do what they do best.

So I don't know if I'll get the call today or not. If I do, that'll be a lot of fun. If not, I can see why. Those guys yesterday were good.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Finding "Lost"

Sarah and I have been watching the third season of "Lost" on DVD. I've seen it already; she hasn't. It's been fun watching her react to all of the twists and turns and remembering how I reacted to each revelation as it unfolded. (Unfortunately, she read the recent issue of Entertainment Weekly which featured "Lost" on the cover and, in the first 2 paragraphs, found out some surprises she didn't yet know about. Whoops.)

The best thing about watching Sarah watch "Lost" is the vast array of comments -- many times very contradictory -- she yells at the TV. Observe:

"Save him!"
"Kill him!"
"What a b!"
"Go, Jin! Awesome kick!"
"Come on! You kill people for a living!"
"This show makes my head hurt."
"I'm too tense. I need to stop."
"Wanna watch another one?"
"He's going to die in this one, isn't he?"
"I always wanted to kick like that."
"I don't get why they don't just get along with each other."
"Kill him!!!!!!"

Friday, January 04, 2008

Saved by Safety

Have you heard about the people who have thrown their Wii remote controls through their TV set? I recall when Nintendo first released their innovative game system hearing about people who, swinging their remotes wildly while playing a game, would lose their grip and send the little plastic piece hurtling through their beloved TV set.

I would laugh openly at their idiocy. Who would do something like that, even unintentionally? I guess I'm just lucky because I've never had a baseball bat slip through my hands on a hard swing or lose my grip on a bowling ball in mid-swing so I couldn't relate. I've seen people accidentally send a bat or ball flying across the infield or bowling alley, and laughed at them, too. These must be the kind of people Nintendo and Wii invented the strap for.

That's right. They had to start adding a little strap to the remotes for people to wrap around their wrist in case they lost their grip and I thought that was a little like wearing a helmet while scrapbooking. Just hold on to it, people. How hard can it be?

A couple of days ago I was playing Wii (or, as my wife says, "Wii-ing it up") and I was playing bowling. I was determined to make it to the pro level and determined to take out the wretched 7-10 split I was facing. I tried to add a little extra spin to my throw and at the last second, at the apex of my hard swing, I felt the remote slip out of my hands.

Luckily, I was wearing the retarded-proof strap and the remote simply clunked against my hand.

I laughed nervously at myself. It happened. I was one of them.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Sad or Cool?

I can distinctly remember being in my early 20s and looking down on people in their 30s who listened to the same popular music I was listening to. Who are these sad people, I thought, who refuse to grow up and are trying to be all young and stuff and they're not and that's just weird and sad.

Flash forward 15 years and here I am listening to Akon, Daughtry, Rihanna, AFI, The Send and whatever else happens to be playing on my local hit radio station. I'm not listening to Dan Fogelberg or the Rolling Stones or Pink Floyd like people over 28 are supposed to listen to.

I don't know if that makes me cool or sad or somewhere in between. But the fact that I have to question how cool I am probably pushes the needle closer to the "sad" reading.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Scab for Hire

OK, I'm probably not the only person who's sick of this writer's strike currently preventing me from seeing new episodes of "Saturday Night Live," "The Office," and "30 Rock" and pretty much guaranteeing me only a partial season of "Lost" and "24." Not only are my favorite shows MIA but I now have an excess of bland reality shows to choose from like "The Singing Bee," "Do You Know the Words," "Battle of the Choirs," "Nunfight 2008," "Are You Dumber Than A Redneck," and "So You Want to Be Famous for 10 Minutes, Too."

And so I have decided to cross the picket line (sorry Writer's Guild, but something tells  I'm not burning any bridges's not like I'm a card-carrying member or anything...or have any chance of being so). So this is a proclamation to all interested TV studios/production companies that I'll take the bullet and step in and write a few episodes for ya, just so I can watch something new on TV.

I read a couple of weeks ago that the last time the talks between the writers and the union fell through, the writers turned down an offer that would garner them $250,000/year. You're getting a bargain with me. This is an offer you can't refuse: Pay me $175,000 a year and I'll write your TV shows and try to find a way to eke out an existence on my new-found  meager earnings.

Sounds like a deal to me. You get new episodes, it's easier to get advertising, and I get to figure out how in the world I could possibly survive on a 6-figure income. What have we got to lose?

Let's do this.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

A "Great" Time

Last night Sarah and I rang in the new year at Linford and Trish's house. We met some cool new people, hung out with familiar friends like Ann and Stacey, and played a lot of games: an Amish card game called 9-Spot or 9-Down or something to do with the number 9, Mad Gab, something called blabble or gaburgle or some weird name. It's a card game by the makers of Cranium (which, in my opinion, is why you shouldn't just make up words to name games....because then no one can remember what it was to pass along the name). We played Apples to Apples and then I got a chance to finally import The Great Dalmuti to Pennsylvania.

My family and I first stumbled across this card game back in California after I read a rave review about it in a magazine. We would play it all the time but soon the game became impossible to find (I still don't know what happened to the version I had in California). I couldn't find it in toy stores or department stores or book stores or any of the usual places. I found it once on eBay but it was in German and a few weeks ago Sarah and I stumbled upon it in a comic book store when we were looking for Settlers of Catan.

This was the first time I got to teach it to my Pennsylvania buddies last night and it was a lot of fun (they told me that it is very similar to a Mennonite game called "Scum" but I'd never heard of it). After the game we all packed into the living room to watch Dick Clark ring in the new year and I secretly wondered why the Henson Company couldn't step in and help this guy out. If they can make a frog ride a bike then certainly they could help this guy along recovery road.

 All in all it was a good time. I won one of the rounds of Apples to Apples and I spent a good amount of time as "The Great Dalmuti." The snacks were really good and the company was top notch.

 Happy New Year indeed. :)

Reading Railroad 2007

Well, here's a list of the books I read in 2007. I have been trying each year to read more books than I did the previous year, but didn't quite make it in '07. Some books took almost forever to get through ("Lisey's Story," read in 60-minute increments every couple of weeks while I was at the laundry mat) and others I zipped through a bit quicker ("Born Standing Up," read cover-to-cover in just under two hours).

So, here they are. Because I know you care. :)

A Girl Named Zippy – Haven Kimmel
The Shining – Stephen King
The Traveler – John Twelve Hawks
The Dead Zone – Stephen King
Cycle of the Werewolf – Stephen King
Book – Whoopi Goldberg
Ricky Gervais presents: The World of Karl Pilkington - Karl Pilkington
The Five Love Languages - Gary Chapman
The Mothman Prophecies - John A. Keel
Jaws - Peter Benchley
Cyrano de Bergerac - Edmond Rostand
Tourist Season - Carl Hiassen
Lisey’s Story - Stephen King
Me, Myself, and Bob: A True Story About God, Dreams, and Talking Vegetables - Phil Vischer
The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway
Born Standing Up - Steve Martin