Year: 2012

Quotable, Writing

One Word After Another

The ideas aren’t the hard bit. They’re a small component of the whole. Creating believable people who do more or less what you tell them to is much harder. And hardest by far is the process of simply sitting down and putting one word after another to construct whatever it is you’re trying to build: making it interesting, making it new.

Neil Gaiman

Tech

Finding Mac Flashback

There’s a mac virus making the rounds this week. Yes, I just said “mac” and “virus” in the same sentence. These things happen.
First off, run Software Update to get all the spiffy Java updates waiting for you.
Second, go to Safari :: Preferences ::  Security, and disable Java. Not Javascript, just Java.

Anyhow, the method for checking if you’re infected can be a little cumbersome. It involves using the Terminal app, which not many are comfortable with. So instead, I’ve just wrapped that stuff up into a clickable application.

[box type=”download”]FlashCheck[/box]

It’s a simple Automator app that runs the following:

set +e
defaults read ~/.MacOSX/environment DYLD_INSERT_LIBRARIES
sleep 2
defaults read /Applications/Safari.app/Contents/Info LSEnvironment
sleep 2
defaults read /Applications/Firefox.app/Contents/Info LSEnvironment
set -e

A file on your desktop will have your results. If it’s empty, you’re good to go. If it has something in it, then it’s time to download something to help you get rid of the virus. ClamAV & Sophos are both free and pretty straightforward. F-Secure has also released a tool specifically designed to get rid of this virus. It’s over here.

I’ll try to keep this up-to-date if I can. Good luck. Let me know if you have any questions.

[box type=”note” style=”rounded” border=”full”]Apple’s latest Java update now removes the virus as well. So an update should cure what ails you. Tho an anti-virus app couldn’t hurt going forward.[/box]
Movies & TV, Reviews

When Harry Met Sally – Script Review

When Harry Met Sally by Nora Ephron (with Rob Reiner & Andrew Scheinman)

120 pages. Dated August, 1988

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These “reviews” are coming from the perspective of a beginning screenwriter. The stories and characters are still important, but I will mostly be focusing on the flow and the structure. Spoilers will be marked as such.

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The Queen of modern romantic comedies. New York, quick dialogue, faked orgasms. It has everything. When Harry Met Sally was written by Nora Ephron. Nora penned another great comedy close to my heart: My Blue Heaven two years later in 1990. She’s probably better known for rounding out the Meg Ryan trilogy with Sleepless In Seattle & You’ve Got Mail (which she also directed).

The version of the script I am reviewing was dated form August of 1988. Since the movie was released the next Summer, this is almost certainly a production draft. Especially since, if IMDB is to be believed, several of the lines that are in this script were suggested by stars Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. Also, director Rob Reiner and producer Andrew Scheinman are credited on this version. That’s another dead giveaway. Let’s dig in.

Read More about Harry & Sally

General

An Offer of Life & Death

My inbox is filled with delightful offers day and night. Various businesses seem quite concerned with my financial and sexual well-being. Today, however, was the first that dealt with issues of my safety.

Subject:  You have been betrayed by some close to you

Some close? Glenn Close? I don’t know her well enough to be betrayed, but thank you for the concern. Am I being betrayed by “some clothes” and they just left out some letters? I’m so confused (and scared).
Maybe they elaborate in the message itself.

[quote]You have been betrayed!!! [/quote] You said as much in the subject. Oh, now I see the three exclamation points. You’re serious here. Ok, I’m paying attention.
[quote]It’s a pity that this how your life is going to come to an end as your death had already been paid for by someone who is very close to you from all investigations.[/quote] Someone paid for my death?! Well, that’s generous of them. I’d hate to have to pay for it myself. Sounds expensive. This person (FROM indicates it is someone named ZECO) has even done investigations to prove that it was someone close to me. Aww, so sweet.

Read More of this Adventure!

Music, Writing

Music to Write To: Part 1

Not everyone can write (or work) with music playing. If you’re one of those people, feel free to skip this post. I’ve found that music with no lyrics (or very few. chanting is fine) works the best for me. So I stick with classical, soundtracks, and electronica. Your mileage may vary. These are a few of the albums/songs that help me focus. Helps me shut off the outside world and get into the one I’ve created.

Clint Mansell – Black Swan Soundtrack

An easy pick. An updated take on some classical work. It also builds and releases a lot of tension throughout the tracks. Great for when you’re building suspense in a scene.

Air (specifically Night Sight and Alone in Kyoto)

Those French, what with their electronic music and their..um, transparent pants? Contemplative electronic music that doesn’t jar you. Not quite on the level of ambient music (which can tend to drone), but calming still.

Ólafur Arnalds – Found Songs

No, I can’t pronounce it either. Light strings and piano work dominate this album. No dramatic horns or deep bass. Ideal for dialogue work.

Philip Glass – Naqoyqatsi Sountrack

Philip Glass can be polarizing to some people. They hate the simplicity and repetition. That’s perfect for my purposes. Many of his soundtracks would probably work, but I find the Naqoyqatsi album to be a bit more mellow than most.

Randy Edelman & Trevor Jones – Last of the Mohicans Soundtrack

Pump up the action. Drama , Drums & Horns, on my. Plus, it’s all too easy to start envisioning the movie as the soundtrack thumps along.
Writing

Murder Your Darlings

Great. Now I’ve gone and created a character I really like, all the while knowing he’s got to die for the story to continue.
Sorry buddy, it’s nothing personal.

Photography

Glass on Fire

Alcohol + Fire + Technology = Good Times
We all know this.

Below I’ve made some smartphone-sized (960×640 to be specific) wallpapers for your iPhone or Android. I was mostly just sick of trying to find something suitable, so I edited a few of my own shots instead. Click on any of  the images below to get the full wallpaper size. I can post larger versions of people want desktop versions. Enjoy.

 

General

Must Be Friday

In honor of the end of the week, I’d like to draw everyone’s attention to my favorite alliterative day: Fuck You Friday. If you haven’t read all of Achewood, start at the beginning and say goodbye to the next few weeks.

 

Photography, Tech

Morning Cat

The great fluffball contemplates life, philosophy, and the desperate need to eat all the cilantro outside.

Taken with a new app I just downloaded today. It’s an iPhone app from Smugmug called ‘Camera Awesome’. It’s slick and easy to use. It’s a free app that charges you for additional presets/filters. But if you never want to fork over 99 cents for those, it’s still quite useful. [button link=”http://bit.ly/wLcgk6″ size=”small” style=”download” color=”silver”]Download It[/button]

Tips, Writing

Don’t Delay the 1st Draft

Never look at a reference book while doing a first draft. You want to write a story? Fine. Put away your dictionary, your encyclopedias, your World Almanac, and your thesaurus. […] O.K., so here is your choice: either look it up in the dictionary, thereby making sure you have it right – and breaking your train of thought and the writer’s trance in the bargain – or just spell it phonetically and correct it later. Why not? Did you think it was going to go somewhere? […] You can check it … but later. When you sit down to write, write. Don’t do anything else except go to the bathroom, and only do that if it absolutely cannot be put off.

Stephen King

{from the inspirational ‘Advice to Writers’ site}

Tips, Writing

How Scott Myers Writes a Script

I’m always interested in how creative people work. What do they do first? Do they outline? What applications do they use? Do they do it in silence or with music? In a crowded coffee shop or in a reinforced bunker? If you post a blurb about how others create (especially when it comes to writing) I am there. John August has a nice series going about writers and their worskpaces – johnaugust.com . It might focus too much on the nitty gritty for some (“I will only write on a mahogany desk with my Macbook and Final Draft while sipping earl grey tea, hot.”), but I love that stuff too.

Scott Myers, however, recently concluded a 10 part series about his own writing process (screenplays specifically). Read about how he goes from the concept to the outline to the 2nd draft and everything in-between. It’s quite educational. You can find links to all 10 parts here: “How I Write A Script” by Scott Myers.

Tips, Writing

Soak Your Brain for Creativity

Turns out, being sleepy or drunk can be a great thing for the creative type. A scientific study says so. Hooray for science for reinforcing “bad” habits!

Wired found a study from the University of Illinois at Chicago where they gave students alcohol (they get credits for that?) and tested them at various times to see how they performed on creative tasks. It turns out that being able to focus, using all those rules/tricks you’ve developed over the decades, can sometimes be detrimental to the creative process. Turn that off, allow your mind to not limit itself, and you might stumble upon the answer more quickly. Of course, if you need to suss out a math problem or even outline your entire story, you probably want a bit of that structure back.

Their summary was particularly apt for me:[quote]Don’t chain yourself to your desk. Instead, set the alarm a few minutes early and wallow in your groggy thoughts. And if that doesn’t work, chug a beer.[/quote]

I find that groggy half hour when you first wake up to be a great time to write. Don’t talk, don’t listen to music, don’t do anything but get your computer (or your pen/pad) ready and start. It’s amazing what an unrestricted brain will come up with (sometimes amazingly bad, but still, amazing).

Full Article

Movies & TV, Reviews

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang – Script Review

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang by Shane Black

(formerly titled You’ll Never Die In This Town Again)
126 pages. Dated November 21, 2003

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These won’t be reviews in the traditional sense of the word. I won’t be giving scripts star ratings or grades or anything of the sort. For one, I’m clearly not qualified to be doing that. Secondly, that isn’t what I think is educational about reading screenplays. I’m reading screenplays because I want to write screenplays. I want to see how others do it, how they build characters, how the action unfolds, how the formatting works (or doesn’t). That’s my goal.

So, in these “reviews” I will be coming at it from the perspective of a beginning screenwriter. The stories and characters are still important, but I will mostly be focusing on the flow and the structure. Spoilers will be marked as such.

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Shane Black sold his first script when he was just 22. It was a small arthouse film called Lethal Weapon. It starred some Australian guy. You probably haven’t seen it. Anyway, he went on to write (and sell) quite a few other action scripts over the next decade. He quickly earned a reputation for writing action mixed with witty dialogue that played with the genre’s conventions. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang was his directorial debut after a long hiatus in screenwriting. Ok, here we go.

(more…)

Movies & TV

Netflix Knows Best

In their infinite wisdom, Netflix has recommended “Fruits Basket” as one of the top 10 streaming movies for me. There it sits alongside “Henry V” and “The Hustler.” What is this grammatically awkward movie about? Well, here is what Netflix has to say:

[quote style=”boxed”] Yuki Sohma is a teenager whose family harbors a strange secret: If any of them are hugged by a member of the opposite sex, they transform into animals of the Chinese zodiac.[/quote]

Kind of puts my fear of hugging into perspective*.

I miss the days when my TiVo would see that I enjoyed The L Word, Desperado, & Blazing Saddles and decide that I was a gay Mexican cowboy who only enjoyed Spanish language programming with guns and/or gay content. Good times.

*I’m just afraid people will steal my wallet.

General

Oh Naturale

Spotted a truck on the freeway with a name that gave me pause: Naturalist Carpet Cleaning.
Was this:
  • A cleaning business for atheists who only believed in the natural world?
  • A risqué service that would tidy up your house in the buff?
  • A personal cleaning service for naturists who also don’t believe in frequent bathing?

Because really, if it’s the latter, I think underpants would be more efficient.

Stay tuned for some screenplay material coming up (thoughts on loglines and my first screenplay review). Nudity will have to take a backseat for now (a popular location for nudity, coincidentally).