31 December 2008

Me Elsewhere

This damn Archeopteryx Flu is still dragging me down, but I think I've got my head just barely above the surface. Enough to get a little oxygen in between the fits of coughing at least. Activity here on the mothership has gone down a bit, but I'm still busy elsewhere:

  • Over on DreamLoom, there are reviews aplenty, and sometime later today will be our Year End Worst-of list.
  • Friday Night Sketch War has been moved to its own Home on the Web. Come on over and keep an eye on the goings on. I promise we'll get more competitors this year.
  • Don't think I've forgotten about Charlie Jade, either. Over at Charlie Jade Verse, the first of our podcasts of that great, lamented show is up. We'll be doing a handful more, analyzing the show in such great detail you'll all suspect I'm on the spectrum.
  • And of course I continue to tell dick jokes at 140 characters each on Twitter.
I realize as the broadcast networks diminish in power and reach, a vacuum is created, which vacuum can be filled by personal brands, so I'm going to be working on building that over the next year.1 Be sure to keep an eye out here - and everywhere in my burgeoning entertainment empire - for all the excitement. And next year, maybe I'll put together a video with your favorite stars telling you how much you'll love me.


There's video above, FeedReader.

1 Please note I don't mean like some SEO/Internet Marketing dickwad. I mean like a person with actual skills and talents.

17 December 2008

Pelham and the Silver Shirt, Part 1

No sooner did my eyes pop than Pelham glided into my bedroom with the morning coffee and tuck. “Your breakfast, sir.”

“I’ve sent your latest paramour on her way with toast and cab fare. I believe I was successful in giving the impression you would be abroad for the foreseeable future,” he icily intoned.

The mood had been decidedly chill about the abode since Monday. Pelham was a good man, but he sometimes overstepped. We’d butted heads a time or two before and I’d made the mistake of giving ground. Not this time.

I found a dashing new shirt that I was raring to wear out on the town, but he took exception, going so far as to say I’d be pressing it myself! As much as we Lauries avoid confrontation – I’ve a great uncle who emigrated to Canada in peacetime “just in case” – a line must be drawn.

I straightened up and eyed the man squarely. “I’ll be wanting the new shirt pressed for the evening, Pelham.”

Giving me a bit of fish-eye back, he said, “the silver abomination? No sir. You won’t be wanting that.”

16 December 2008

Pelham Presents

God’s honest, I don’t know how the great unwashed do it. Getting through prep’s easy: grease a scholarship boy’s palm and you’ll need never iron a shirt or polish a shoe. If you’re like my best bud Biff who was a three-sport star, you don’t even need the scratch, but I was a “meritorious legacy” – which is a nice way of saying I wasn’t up to snuff but pops was an alum – so I ponied up.

After prep and a few years giving college a go, I realized I’d grown accustomed to having a caretaker. I tried dating, but that led to drama and severely inhibited the bachelor’s life I so love. Then it hit me. I was a young man of means. Why not?

I’ll be honest; your pal Trip broke not a few eggs in making that omelet. Over eight months, five valets – a rogue’s gallery of thieves and miscreants – came through Casa Laurie until I found Pelham. He’s the consummate gentleman’s gentleman, but not some stuffy old fart. There isn’t much call for valets in this day, so it was a miracle we found each other. I’d be lost without him.

15 December 2008

Christmas in Maui

Julie Gray ran another short scene comp. Joshua James won with a beautiful, quiet scene that tugged hard on the heartstrings. He totally kicked my scene's ass, but I wrote it, so y'all should see it.

INT. STORE - DAY

Whirling snow, howling wind. Over the wind we hear...

SANTA (O.S.)

Clara, Clara honey? Can you hear me? I’m grounded in Maine. Freak blizzard, came out of nowhere.

(beat)

We were lucky to find a clearing. Even with Rudolf’s high beams on, I can’t see past my nose.

(beat)

I’m plenty warm, don’t you worry. Get some rest and don’t let the elves eat all my Christmas cookies! We’ll be home tomorrow.

The camera pulls back to reveal a swirling snow globe in SANTA’s hand. Chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf in red shorts and dark glasses, he pockets his iPhone and leaves the blaring air conditioner for Maui sunshine.

SANTA (CONT’D)

Leliani! You’ve been very naughty.

LEILANI skips up and pecks the old elf. Her grass skirt and floral top rustle in the ocean breeze.

LEILANI

Santa, you made it. We were wondering whether to start the luau without you. And what do you mean, I’ve been naughty?

An elbow: and his belly shakes like a bowlful of jelly.

SANTA

Don’t think I don't know what you've been up to. But I've still got something for my favorite island girl.

He reaches into his magic bag and pulls out a box wrapped in silver foil. Leilani takes and shakes it.

LEILANI

Oooh! I can’t wait to open it. But first a drink. Egg nog?

SANTA

Of course. And don’t forget to put in one of those little umbrellas!

BLACKOUT:

Older and Bolder

Janine wanted to scream. Two and a half hours she’d been sitting in the waiting room; two and a half hours she’d been twisted and restricted and constricted in her dress. She wanted to yank it off and breathe freely, but instead sat quietly, pretending to read a six-month-old Newsweek while taking shallow breaths.

Janine heard the girl behind the desk stop typing – her enameled nails pausing their click-clack on the keys – and looked up. The frosted glass window slid open and the girl squeaked, “Janine Forester? The doctor will see you now.”

Steeling herself, Janine stood and strode to the open door where he stood.

It had been almost 15 years, but he looked the same. Better, really. His jawline was even more square than she remembered and his hair was a richer auburn. If she was afraid of him in high school, what was she now? He was still too perfect. He held out his hand and smiled – that smile – and Janine feigned boldness and shook it firmly.

“Hi, Eric. I don’t know if you’ll remember me. Janine?”

12 December 2008

Bewitched

"Turn me on, dead man."

I spun on my heel, tried to anyway, are my joints always going to feel like this? but lost my balance and stumbled. Bent at the waist, hands on the ground, I felt like a marionette gone slack. I straightened back up and looked in the direction of the giggling, but all I could see was a silhouette surrounded by a corona.

"I've always wanted to say that."

Marta. Witch.

Janet and I had a rough patch back in April and took a breather. I met Marta one night after a soccer match. I figured she was with one of the Dominicans on the team, but as the night wore on and the beer kept coming, they trickled out until there was just me and Marta.

She was acne-scarred and the sweats she wore didn't hide her body as much as she thought, but her eyes shimmered. Rich chocolate suffused with a deep violet glow. I couldn't break my gaze. Which was how we ended up back at her place, naked before the door latched.

The next morning I realized what I'd done and ducked out without a sound. I begged Janet to take me back that night and quit the soccer team. I didn't want to see the witch again. But I did.

"I've been looking for you, papi."

Previously in "I, Zombie"

40 Inspirational Speeces in 2 minutes


There's AWESOME video above FeedReader, HT Rich Sommer.

I've watched it through a couple of times and it's pretty damn inspirational, also pretty damn funny. For whatever reason, Kirsten Dunst and Christian Bale are the funniest to me, probably because they're representing such unexpected movies.

New Home for Sketches

Don't forget Sketch War has been moved over to its own blog. My sketch for the week is up already right here, but be sure to check back during the day for the other writers.

11 December 2008

Body Spray for Dead Men

The girl at the register was too rapt in her phone, tapping messages to distant friends, to notice me duck out the door with my supplies. I put on my sunglasses and headed down the street.

As I walked, I took stock of the people around. Men and women striding with purpose, children sprinting, a few strollers. All shared one trait: none noticed the zombie in their midst. I was there, but not there. Across the street, I saw another dead man. We nodded in passing.

Taking the stolen body spray from the pocket where I’d stashed it, I misted heavily. I doubted the advertiser’s promises of beautiful women throwing themselves at me, but I needed to keep the flies at bay.

Summer of sophomore year I worked as a lifeguard at an all-inclusive resort in Cozumel. One of the cabana boys, Cisco I think his name was, broke our dance instructor’s heart. She was a voodoo priestess. It didn’t take long in the Yucatan summer for everyone to smell what she’d done.

Until I could get some formaldehyde, the Axe would have to do.

Previously in "I,Zombie".

10 December 2008

A Day in the Death

That explained the burning in my throat at least. And Orangina wasn’t going to help it.

I should have been frightened. Mrs. Suarez was old, but had a steady hand. Just last week she’d put down the Ramirez girl when some Dominican voodoo priestess raised her to pick up a pack of Parliaments and a copy of Us Weekly. Maybe she felt sorry for me; maybe she remembered the time I shoveled snow off her stoop. All I know is she nodded once more at the door and gave me a chance to leave.

Back outside, I realized I had nowhere to go. Home was out of the question and Janet’s place was even worse. She’d let me crash, but I’d have to hear about how zombies were tools of the patriarchy and voodoo priestesses belonged in school, not a serpent god’s harem. Hell, she’d probably make me defrost her freezer.

Better to sleep in the park.

I needed supplies. I patted for my wallet, but it was gone like my internal organs. I shambled to the drug store and slipped in. First things first: I grabbed a pair of sunglasses.

Previously in "I, Zombie".

09 December 2008

New home for Sketch War

We've decided it's time to put all our sketches in one place, so going forward, check out the new Sketch War blog on Fridays. Or you can subscribe to the RSS feed right here.

Don't forget to come back this Friday when the topic will be first dates.

New(re)born

I’d never been so thirsty before. I must have stood at the fountain in Balboa Park for five minutes sucking up the cool, cool water, but it didn’t help. As soon as I’d lift my mouth from the stream the burning would overtake me again. Water wasn’t the answer.

I stumbled in the midday glare, where did I leave my sunglasses? to the bodega for an Orangina. Water might not quench this fire in my throat but something had to.

Hungry.

Maybe something to eat as well. Anything to make the burning, gnawing pain in my – throat? stomach? everywhere, I guess – end. I couldn’t tell where the thirst ended and the hunger started now.

I pushed open the door and heard the familiar clink of the bells. Mrs. Suarez was behind the counter reading her bible. Dogeared and filled with bookmarks, I wondered what passage she’d quote me today.

“Grrararrhr!!!”

She put down her bible and reached below the counter, coming up with a shotgun pointed it at my head. She nodded toward the door and calmly read the sign:

“No Zombies.”

Ficlets Going Away

A while back, when I had more free time for short-form fiction, I logged on to Ficlets and wrote a few pieces. The length constraints make every short piece of prose feel a bit like blank verse. The social aspects - sequels and prequels can be written for any piece by anyone - lead to interesting new experiments. So of course, Ficlets is going away.

I only wrote a few pieces there. Some of you have been subjected to them before, and they're currently linked in the sidebar. But I figure this is as good a time as any to migrate them back here to archive them for posterity. Or something. Expect to see them over the next few days or so.

06 December 2008

Friday Night Sketch War: Learning Something New About History Edition

Another tough topic, though not nearly as painful, or likely to make a grown man cry and jump on a couch, as Oprah. Again, we had three warriors enter the fray. They acquitted themselves well.

Three solid sketches on a beyatch of a topic. Next week's topic: first dates.

If you want to play along, write a sketch and send a link to it to sketchwar at dreamloom.com. And be sure to come back next Friday when we're hoping to have a few new competitors.

05 December 2008

FSW: The Truth About Harry

Quick point of order: Peter is a bastard for coming up with this week's theme, Learning something new about history. May a thousand beetles crawl into his closet and take up residence in his favorite sneaker. The left one, not the right one.

Come back on Saturday for the recap, where I give you links to the (hopefully) better sketches on the theme.

The Truth About Harry

INT. BAR - NIGHT

A dark, quiet hideaway where men go to get drunk. MICHAEL early 40s and reedy, with the wild eyes of a hunted man, and Peter, late 20s and not crazy, sit nursing scotches. A BARTENDER wipes glasses at the other end of the bar.

MICHAEL

Truman was a Freemason.

PETER

What?

MICHAEL

Haberdasher is a code word for Freemason.

PETER

No, haberdasher is a code word for "guy who sells belts and socks."

MICHAEL

C'mon! All the evidence is right in front of you and you just won't see it.

PETER

Enlighten me, oh wise one.

MICHAEL

Yeah, the Illuminati got their start in the Enlightenment, but we don't have to go that far back. (Beat) So what do you think Truman was doing at Yalta while Roosevelt was negotiating with Stalin?

PETER

What do I think Truman was doing at Yalta?

MICHAEL

Yeah.

PETER

I think Truman was asking himself how the hell he ended up in Yalta when he never went to Yalta.

MICHAEL

What do you mean?

PETER

I mean, Roosevelt went to Yalta, not Truman.

MICHAEL

Are you sure? I read somewhere that Truman and Churchill ganged up on Stalin at the conference.

PETER

A, that was Potsdam, after the war. And B, if you thought that, why would you imply he was off doing God-knows-what instead of negotiating the peace?

MICHAEL

Exactly. See, if Truman was at Potsdam, it's not too far to conclude that he was working in the shadows at Yalta, right? Behind the scenes, pulling the strings.

PETER

(To the bartender)

Excuse me, can I get whatever he's drinking?

MICHAEL

I'm serious.

PETER

You think the Vice President of the United States spent a month out of the country, in the middle of a war, and no one knew it?

MICHAEL

See how impossible that sounds? Only the Freemasons could have pulled something like that off.

Peter stares for a second. He opens his mouth to talk...then shakes his head.

MICHAEL (CONT'D)

But he wasn't there for a month, just a few days. The Freemasons smuggled Truman over in their secret submarine--

PETER

--What?

MICHAEL

Their submarine. The Nautilus.

PETER

Like from the book?

MICHAEL

Which book is that?

PETER

Um...20,000 Leagues Under the Ocean? Sea. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The Verne.

MICHAEL

I knew you weren't completely ignorant. Right. Jules Verne. He was too proud to let his work go unnoticed.

PETER

You're saying Jules Verne built the Nautilus. A real submarine. And then he wrote about it.

MICHAEL

Yeah, and it got him kicked out.

PETER

(Playing along, now)

I didn't know. So, the Masons kicked him out.

MICHAEL

The Illuminati. It was their sub. They just leased it to the Freemasons. Anyway, they got Truman to Yalta two days ahead of Roosevelt and he and Churchill divvied up Germany. Roosevelt thought he was so tough with his big stick...

Peter winces at this latest bit of stupidity from Michael...

MICHAEL (CONT'D)

...but it was Truman who really talked softly.

PETER

You know that was Teddy not...oh, nevermind.

MICHAEL

Then Howard Hughes flew him back home in the Spruce Goose right before Roosevelt showed up. The rest of the conference was just for show. Same with Potsdam. And once Truman gave Einstein the plans for the A-bomb--

PETER

--What?!?

MICHAEL

Scary, isn't it? The New World Order is coming, man, and you can't stop it.

The bartender comes toward our boys.

BARTENDER

Closing time, gents.

PETER

Okay, I've had my fill for the night, anyway. Michael. Seriously. You need help.

MICHAEL

I know. That's why I keep writing on my blog and mailing out the newsletter. I can't stop them alone.

PETER

(Sad for his friend)

Yeah. That's what I meant. Um, I've gotta go. I'll see you around, okay?

MICHAEL

Sure man. Next time drinks are on me.

Peter exits quickly. Michael downs the rest of his drink and gets up to go.

BARTENDER

Mr. Howard, I'm afraid we can't let you leave.

A hidden door behind the bar slides open and reveals a huge Masonic crest. Two men in monk's habits step out behind two serious looking pistols.

BARTENDER (CONT'D)

You know too much.

BLACKOUT:

04 December 2008

Stuff What Be Elsewhere

Whole lotta stuff over at DreamLoom. We've been actually, you know, writing more over there this week. There are reviews, interviews, and other things what might be fun to read. And soon, soon...more writers. As soon as I bake some delicious Bribery Brownies.

If you like what you see, be sure to subscribe by hitting the big ol' button over there that looks like this:

Or, you can subscribe to receive updates by email.

I should clarify...the big ol' button on THIS blog will subscribe you to THIS blog. (Which you should do.) The big ol' button on DreamLoom will subscribe you to DreamLoom.

03 December 2008

Prop 8: The Musical


There's video above, FeedReader

Mmm. Shrimp cocktail!

02 December 2008

Leverage premiering Sunday


My preview of TNT's Leverage is up at DreamLoom:
If you’re a certain age, you might have grown up as I did, watching shows like It Takes a Thief and The Saint. You might even have rooted for David Niven in The Pink Panther. The thief with a heart of gold is the oldest and most revered anti-hero in the storyteller’s pantheon and used to be common on our televisions, but he’s been MIA for a long time. The networks have made a few attempts at reviving the genre with little success; however, the recent growth of original drama on basic cable makes this the perfect time and place to bring back the thief.

So on December 7th, TNT expands its repertoire of original dramas by adding the stylish, charming, and amusing Leverage to its lineup

Made for Each Other


There's video above, FeedReader

My love for Patrick Warburton knows no bounds. That's all I'm sayin'.

29 November 2008

Friday Night Sketch War: Oprah Edition

Yours truly - like many before him - fell under the spell of one Ms. Oprah Gail Winfrey's hypnotic powers. I thought to myself did I, "oh, Oprah would make a great theme for Sketch War. So many topics. So many sketch ideas. This will be great!" She's ephemeral. Like a ghost, or Duke Nukem Forever, just when you think you've got a firm grasp on her she disappears.

We all struggled this week and weren't able to bring our usual B-games. Still, there are a few chuckles to be had. Next week, in what is hopefully an easier topic, Peter's selected learning something new about history.

If you want to play along, write a sketch and send a link to it to sketchwar at dreamloom.com. And be sure to come back next Friday when we're hoping to have a few new competitors.

28 November 2008

FSW: Oprah's Favorite Things

Holy crap. I swear, when I thought of Oprah last week, I had visions of sketches writing themselves. So many ideas filled my head: Oprah as a cruel taskmaster; Oprah as an international spy; Oprah giving hitmen assignments with envelopes under their seats. Those ideas? They don't work. Nothing worked. I was going to do a dinner party where Steadman was the butler? Crap. Everything crap.

Then I realized I really needed to take Oprah *out* of the sketch.

This isn't comedy gold, but I think it's alright. As for the products mentioned...thank you Wikipedia!

Peter's sketch is up already - and is both funny and disturbing. I credit him for reminding me that Oprah permeates our culture. Of course, I won't be crediting him when I have nightmares tonight. No word yet from anyone else, but come on back for the recap this weekend.

Oprah's Favorite Things

INT. LIVING ROOM - DAY

MAYBELLE and her guests JO, JOLLY, and AMY sit in the cleanest, classiest, brightest doublewide in town. JOSH GROBAN'S "NOEL" plays in the background. The women are all in their late-30s to late-40s and well turned out. A careful observer might notice they're all wearing the same RACHEL PALLY SWING TURTLENECK AND SAILOR PANTS. The truly observant might see the matching UGG BOOTS and TOYWATCH CRYSTAL WATCHES. That observer would be very much like these women if she knew the significance of that.

JO

These cookies are fantastic, Maybelle.

MAYBELLE

Thanks, Jo. I found the recipe in last month's "O" and just whipped them up in my KitchenAid Artisan Mixer.

JOLLY

The cookies are good, but this sorbetto is to die for. Ciao Bella?

MAYBELLE

Of course! Is there any other?

The ladies all laugh. Amy picks up a dog-eared book. It's a copy of KEN FOLLET'S "THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH". She flips through it.

AMY

Jack's dreamy.

The ladies all sigh.

MAYBELLE

Oh, oh! It's time!

Maybelle picks up a remote and mutes the music. She turns up the TV. OPRAH'S THEME MUSIC plays. Jolly mans a SONY NOTEBOOK. Jo and Amy have pencils, paper, and BLACKBERRIES ready.

OPRAH (O.S.)

These are my favorite things...with a twist! Today, we're going to learn how to have the thriftiest holiday ever!

MAYBELLE

Uh-oh...

OPRAH (O.S.)

In a time of such economic trouble and uncertainty, I can't in good conscience give away lavish gifts. Instead I'm going to show you some do-it-yourself gift ideas for the holidays.

Jo's cellphone rings. She answers and immediately pulls the phone from her ear. We hear...

STEFFI (O.S.)

There's nothing under my goddamn seat! No gift basket! Nothing here!

(muted, to someone at her location)

No! No, I will NOT calm down! I didn't ride 13 hours on a Greyhound bus for macaroni frames and hugs!

Sounds of a scuffle, coming through the phone and the TV. Then silence. Maybelle turns off the TV.

AMY

"Gratitude boxes?"

JOLLY

Great. What am I supposed to wear for the next year? This turtleneck?

JO

I love you guys.

MAYBELLE

Can it, Jo.

JO

No, I mean it. If Oprah thinks we should cut back, maybe we should. I'm still paying off my Dell 30" Wide-Screen LCD TV.

JOLLY

That was from 2004!

JO

I know. Ricky had to take an extra shift just to keep us from losing the Taurus.

AMY

I hate Scrabble!

JOLLY

I don't understand you guys. Just because Oprah says we should cut back, you're going to cut back? That makes no sense. I mean, if she told you to buy something useless, would you?

MAYBELLE

You watch a lot of shows on that LG HDTV refrigerator at your place?

JOLLY

Sometimes!

JO

Look, I can't keep up anymore. I think Oprah's right. This year, I'm giving out handmade gifts.

AMY

Me too.

MAYBELLE

So am I. Jolly?

JOLLY

Alright. Fine. Let's put something else on. I don't feel like talking much right now.

Maybelle picks up the remote and clicks away. She stops and we hear...

ANNOUNCER (O.S.)

Doors open at midnight Thursday with low-low prices throughout the store. Don't be late for the After Thanksgiving Sales Event at Wal-Mart!

The women look lustfully at the TV, and then each other.

MAYBELLE

I'll bring the coffee. Amy, bring lawn chairs.

BLACKOUT:

26 November 2008

Disney-ABC Fellowship FAIL

Well, hey. Awesome day. The saved Google search I've had running, looking for someone's mention of the Disney-ABC Writing Fellowship hit paydirt yesterday. The emails went out last week to the semi-finalists; the phone interviews were this past Friday and Monday. Insofar as I learned this last night, as the result of my saved search, you can correctly conclude I did not get an email. I did not get a phone call.

No real surprise. Why on Earth should I have *anything* to be thankful for.

I spec'd Pushing Daisies for the fellowship, figuring even if the show would be canceled this season, I could nail that spec and have my best possible chance of at least getting to the semi-finalist stage. Really wanted a sense that I'm improving year-over-year that feedback like that would clearly provide. But I didn't. And Pushing Daisies has been canceled.

So now I'm sitting on a spec - the best I was able to create - that I can't even try sending out to get representation, because the show be dead. Yay, me. Back to the drawing board.

Anyway, if you're curious how hard I suck, here it is.
There's Flash below, FeedReader
PUSHING DAISIES: "Pushing Daffodils"

21 November 2008

Friday Night Sketch War: Horrible Holidays Edition

The battle continues apace; tonight we're joined by a new warrior. Fresh-faced and unscathed from previous battles, will Peter Rogers kill or cower, fight or flee?

This week's theme is brought to us by one of our legion of fans: horrible family holidays.

Next week, in honor of the orgy of food and retail shopping, the theme will be...Oprah!!!

If you want to play along, write a sketch and send a link to it to sketchwar at dreamloom.com. And be sure to come back on Friday for fun, fun, fun!

20 November 2008

FSW: Chinatown Christmas

Blogging buddy @tjonsek suggested this week's theme in comments: horrible family holidays. I didn't have to reach too deep into my bag of painful, poorly suppressed memories to pull this sketch out. Still rubs me raw.

You know of course that comedy often requires painting in broad strokes and exaggerating. Comedy in real life is much more subtle because people aren't caricatures. That's good, right? I mean, it would *suck* if there were actually people like these in the real world. Can you imagine actually having a mother like Miriam? Can you imagine the psychic damage that would do? Can you imagine how twisted that would make someone?

Come back later for a recap with links to the other sketches and information on submitting for next week. And if you've got a theme you'd like to see us try out for next week, leave it in comments here, or on one of the other blogs when their sketches are up.

Chinatown Christmas

INT. CAR - DAY

The rain is pouring from the leaden sky in buckets on an unseasonably warm Christmas day. NOAH, late 20s, attentively pilots a sturdy SUV through heavy New York traffic. His father GERRY, 50s and balding, rides shotgun offering "helpful" tips. In the back sit MIRIAM, the matriarch of the ROSEN clan, looking older and feebler than her mid-50s warrant, HANNAH, Noah's college-age sister, and in the middle, BECKY. With her perky nose, blond hair, and blue eyes, Noah's fiancee looks as out of place as a slice of ham between two pieces of marble rye.

MIRIAM

Hop Kee is good. You liked Hop Kee last time, right Gerry?

GERRY

That's the one with the Hot and Sour I like--

MIRIAM

--No. That's Congee. Hop Kee's the one where the hostess always gives you the extra shrimp roll, like I'm not supposed to know she's flirting?

NOAH

Ma, we're going to Wo Hop, right?

MIRIAM

Yeah, yeah. I was just saying, Hop Kee's good too. You should ever decide to come back and visit, we could go there, nu? It's just down the street.

NOAH

Ma, we're visiting right now.

Miriam pats Becky on the knee.

MIRIAM

And we're so glad the two of you are here. Aren't we glad, Gerry?

GERRY

Yeah, sure.

(on traffic)

You want the right lane. It's clearer. You can get around two, maybe three of these

(yelling, as though the other drivers can hear)

slowpokes!

Noah moves aggressively to the right and accelerates. He is his father's son.

BECKY

Hannah. What are you taking next semester?

HANNAH

Sight and Sound Studio and Documentary, the Femme Fatale in the films of Roman Polanski, and Spanish.

GERRY

My little baby's going to be a big filmmaker someday.

HANNAH

Dad...

GERRY

Going to walk down that red carpet.

HANNAH

Dad...

MIRIAM

Muriel Goldstein's boy wanted to be in pictures. But he's still waiting tables, waiting to be a star. Breaks poor Muriel's heart. He could have gone to Columbia Medical School, but that wasn't good enough for him.

NOAH

Barry Goldstein failed high school biology. Three times.

MIRIAM

I'm just saying--

HANNAH

--You're just saying I'm going to fail, aren't you ma?

MIRIAM

Of course not, dear. I just think you could get a law degree first, and then try with your moviemaking. Is it too much to ask that one of my babies doesn't go hungry?

NOAH

Ma! I'm not going hungry. I'm doing just fine.

GERRY

(on traffic)

You're taking the Cross Island?

NOAH

Yeah, that's the way I always go.

GERRY

Well, that's a fine way, I guess, but the Van Wyck's faster. But you're driving. Don't mind me.

(beat)

The middle lane's open.

MIRIAM

Becky!

Becky jumps. Her attempt to become invisible failed.

BECKY

Yes, ma'am?

MIRIAM

Don't call me ma'am, dear. Just call me Miriam. Or mom. Is it too soon for that?

BECKY

No, ma'am. I mean Miriam. I mean...

GERRY

You're spooking the poor girl, Miriam.

MIRIAM

What? I just told her to call me 'mom'. I'm welcoming. Who's spooking?

HANNAH

You are. I don't even want to call you 'mom' most of the time.

GERRY

The turn for the Van Wyck is coming up if you change your mind.

BECKY

How much longer?

EXT. STREET - DAY

The buckets of rain have turned to barrelfuls. Gerry, Miriam, and Hannah stand under Gerry's huge umbrella, trying to stay dry, as they talk to Noah through the window.

GERRY

You know where the garage is, right? Two blocks down and one over. You sure you don't want me to park it?

NOAH

No, that's alright. You three go in and get us a table. Becky and I will be back in a few.

GERRY

You want the umbrella, at least?

NOAH

Uh, it looks like it's clearing up.

Lightning splits the sky.

INT. CAR - DAY

Noah rolls up the window and pulls from the curb.

NOAH

I figured you could use a few minutes to catch your breath before dinner.

BECKY

Thanks. How do you do it?

NOAH

What?

BECKY

Not be crazy?

INT. RESTAURANT LOBBY - DAY

There's a small crowd at the front desk. Miriam pushes her way to the front.

MIRIAM

Excuse me? Excuse me?! Can we get some help, please?

HOSTESS

How many?

MIRIAM

Excuse me?

HOSTESS

How many in your party?

MIRIAM

Five.

HOSTESS

20 minutes.

Miriam ponders for a second and then...

MIRIAM

Come on. Let's go to Hop Kee.

HANNAH

But Noah and Becky are expecting us to be here.

MIRIAM

We talked about both. He's a smart boy. He'll figure it out.

INT. RESTAURANT - DAY

Hop Kee. Noah and Becky are soaked through. Miriam, Gerry, and Hannah sit in front of many plates of demolished food.

NOAH

I thought we were meeting at Wo Hop?

MIRIAM

We talked about both, nu?

BLACKOUT:

DreamLoom update

I figured it was time for another quick rundown of what's been going on over at DreamLoom.
Be sure to bookmark or subscribe for updates when you're there. We'll be expanding our coverage even more soon.

17 November 2008

I think I used to work for one of these women...

Apropos of next to nothing, Julie Gray ran another short scene competition. My entry didn't make the finals, but I've got it, so I should post it. Enjoy, don't, I don't care.

INT. RESTAURANT - DAY

ELLEN and JULIA sit opposite each other. They are both some indeterminate age between 28 and 60 and cut from the same very expensive, finely woven cloth.

ELLEN

Daphne still going on about the election?

JULIA

Incessantly. You’d think they’d made her Queen of L.A.

(conspiratorial)

I didn’t vote for her.

ELLEN

Me neither. What does she know about teaching, anyway?

JULIA

Is that what school boards do?

DAPHNE strides in. She’s similar to the others in the way a Faberge egg is like a child’s first Easter Egg. In a smart little bag she carries her CHIHUAHUA. Kiss-hellos.

DAPHNE

I’m so glad I caught you two. I need your help with something.

JULIA

What’s that, darling?

DAPHNE

The annual winter carnival is the day after Thanksgiving. Can I count on your help?

ELLEN

I don’t know. Alan usually takes me to Aspen that weekend.

JULIA

And I’ve got my Pilates class.

DAPHNE

Alan said yes, and Evan’s doing a free mat class. Even little Frances Farmer here is coming.

ELLEN

(feigning enthusiasm)

This is why we voted for you!

BLACKOUT:

Friday Night Sketch War: Autumn Edition

A two-man grapple in Sketch Stadium this week, as Coyote challenges Ken. Last week's secret ingredient was autumn. In Battle Autumn, whose cuisine sketch reigns supreme?!

Next week's theme, provided in comments by @tjonsek, is horrible family holidays.

If you want to play along, write a sketch and send a link to it to sketchwar at dreamloom.com. And be sure to come back on Friday for fun, fun fun. 

14 November 2008

FSW: Leafer's Paradise

Autumn. A wide open theme. Could have gone so many ways, that I expect we'll get some nice variation this week. Let's hope so! Come back later for a recap with links to the other sketches and information on submitting for next week.

And if you've got a theme you'd like to see us try out for next week, leave it in comments here, or on one of the other blogs when their sketches are up.

Leafer's Paradise

EXT. RURAL ROAD - DUSK

A lone luxury sedan drives over rolling hills in the golden sunset, the millions of brightly colored autumn leaves glowing in shades of red and orange. Perfect foliage.

VANESSA (V.O.)

Oh, Marcus! It's beautiful. You were right, this was the perfect weekend to drive up. Sorry I doubted you.

MARCUS (V.O.)

No worries, babe. I checked the almanac, the National Weather Service, and had the boys in accounting run some numbers based on the last 20 years, factoring in warming trends. I knew this would be the peak weekend.

VANESSA (V.O.)

I just wish we could have skipped work and had an extra day. But anyway, this place I booked should be perfect. The Double-A Guide gave it three coffee cups.

MARCUS (V.O.)

You mean the Triple-A Guide.

VANESSA (V.O.)

Uh-oh.

INT. HOTEL LOBBY - NIGHT

RUPERT and MAGGIE stand behind the desk. He's in his 50s, balding, and looking rumpled-casual in a button-down shirt. She's in her 30s and crisply turned out. The door opens and MARCUS and VANESSA stroll in with too many bags for a weekend trip. He and she are both in their 30s, decked out in the flannel, cashmere, and special boots they bought just for this weekend.

MAGGIE

Good evening, and welcome to Hearth House. Are we the Pithbottoms?

VANESSA

Yes, we are. I'm Vanessa and this is Marcus. Your inn is beautiful, really.

Maggie taps at her computer.

MAGGIE

Thank you. Let's see, we have you for three nights, checking out Sunday morning, and you wanted to do two of our foliage tours, one tomorrow and then the special Leaves & Lakes Tour on Saturday. How fun!

RUPERT

Will you be dining in the restaurant this evening?

MARCUS

Honey?

VANESSA

Sure. Sounds good.

(to Marcus)

Doesn't he look like Bob Newhart? You think he's like him?

(to Rupert)

Aren't you chilly? Maybe you should put on a cardigan?

Rupert gets this a LOT. He rolls his eyes and gives the couple a withering look.

MARCUS

Yes, yes! Now I see it.

RUPERT

Maybe later, ma'am. Right now, let's just get you two finished with check-in.

Maggie taps a bit more, Rupert shuffles some papers.

MARCUS

(to Vanessa)

Doesn't she remind you of that Gilman Girl?

VANESSA

(to Marcus)

Who's that?

MARCUS

You know, Laura Gilman, from that show you like?

VANESSA

Oh you mean--

MAGGIE

--Okay, we're almost done. Will you be keeping this on your American Express?

MARCUS

Actually, I'd like to put it on this Visa, instead.

Vanessa looks at Marcus questioningly while he hands his card to Maggie.

MARCUS (CONT'D)

(to Vanessa)

Double miles.

The wind outside kicks up. Rupert and Maggie look at each other and hurry up the process. She drops the card in her haste and both get looks of abject terror at the delay. The wind picks up more. Just as Maggie runs the card through the reader, the front door FLIES open and a mass of dead leaves blow into the lobby, propelled by a whipping wind.

MAGGIE

If I could just get you to sign here?

Maggie and Rupert look at each other with a mixture of relief and amused resignation.

VANESSA

Wow, that was some wind. Hope it doesn't effect the leaves too much.

EXT. RURAL ROAD - DAY

A van drives through a vast wasteland. I mean, like Tunguska AFTER the event. Dead, gnarly trees as far as the eye can see beneath a leaden sky. Swirling piles of leaves gather in little eddies.

TOUR GUIDE (V.O.)

On the right, you'll see a stand of Vermont maples, renown for their beautiful, deep red leaves in autumn.

BLACKOUT

13 November 2008

White Whale

Inspired by Twittermate @dragonblogger, who did an audio version of his most embarrassing story, I thought I'd record mine.

Mine's got hot nurses and bodily fluids. Can't go wrong with that, right?

If you'd rather read than listen, here's the original.

video

New Watchmen Trailer


There's video above, FeedReader.

New trailer, lots of Rorschach. I am so impatient for March!

10 November 2008

Citizen Initiatives are anti-Constitutional

Constitutions are foundational documents, both figuratively - they provide a framework upon which all other laws can stand - and literally - they define the principles on which governments are founded. In some cases, e.g. the Magna Carta, they come into being after the government, but in most they precede or coincide with its formation.

The purposes of constitutions are clearly delineated:

  • Establish the structure of the government, laying out the separation of power and the roles of each actor.
  • Establish the ways in the which the government is *constituted* in terms of the means of ascension and/or election, the length of terms, and the rules of transition.
  • Establish the framework for enacting and enforcing laws.
  • Establish a means of being modified (this is not a requirement, but has been considered de rigeur for the past 300 or so years.)
  • Enumerate the responsibilities of the units that constitute the government. In the case of a state constitution, those units are citizens. In the case of our federal constitution: semi-independent republics. In the case of the European Union: fully sovereign nations.
There can be more, but generally if you learned about it from Schoolhouse Rock, it's in the Constitution. So for example, our federal constitution explains how a bill becomes law, how an amendment is passed, what the branches of government are, and their respective duties and obligations.

The Constitution of the United States is not particularly long. Without running a word count, I still feel safe guessing that its total length is less that the earmark that set aside money for the Bridge to Nowhere. Its simplicity is a strength, though it leads to much debate over original intent. Interestingly, little debate occurs over the non-amended portions of the document. As a blueprint, it is remarkably concise.

And then you go out west. People - mostly people from the western US - like to talk about America's frontier spirit, how it was founded by hard men who carved out a life in inhospitable conditions. They wax poetic about the noble spirit of the cowboy or the prospector or the trapper and look with disdain on citified dandies. But the founders of our nation - the ones in the powdered wigs and pantyhose - were citified dandies who valued debate, compromise, intelligent discourse, and deliberation. John Adams was not a frontiersman. Thomas Jefferson wasn't out skinning bears. Alexander Hamilton wasn't panning for gold. He farmed and debated. He farmed, invented, and debated. He argued law, and when he wasn't debating in court he debated.

These were smart, thoughtful, inquisitive men who founded our nation and wrote our constituting document after years of discussion and debate.

If you look at it, it's just what I said above. It lays out a framework on which our government rests and onto which laws can be enacted. That's all it does. Even note the Bill of Rights - a wonderful gift from the Virginians, thank you Jemmy Madison. It is NOT part of the foundational document. It is rather a set of amendments added on like an attached garage. By adding them to the Constitution, they ensured their power and longevity; they were definitely more than mere laws. But, by making them a clear addendum, they made the purpose and function of the Constitution crystal clear.

And then you go out west. Hardscrabble people, carving life, inhospitable conditions, right? Cowboys, prospectors, trappers, etc. So what do they do? They put together these idiotic Constitutions where the delineation between foundational function, amended right, and common law is so blurry as to be nearly invisible. Instead of enacting laws, they change their foundational documents willy-nilly.

Citizen initiatives - really initiatives written by special interest groups with deep pockets - constantly and regularly change state constitutions with little credence given to debate or deliberation. These foundations are fragile and haphazard to begin with; with all these rapid, ill-considered changes they become unsupportable.

And like baggy pants, the jetstream, and Pinkberry, political fashions in our country travel east. Over time, the foolishness that grips our frontier will infect the east completely, throwing out centuries of cautious conservatism for mob populism. The people (again, read: deep-pocketed special interests) will decide one day that our hoary old Constitution doesn't respond to the will of the people. Billions will be spent to enact one last amendment on her death bed: a change to the amendment process.

Gone will be the 2/3 vote and 3/5 of the states. In its place will be the same 50-50 lotteries in place in so many of our states.

Gone will be the slow, careful, thoughtful change of the fundamental law of the land. In its place will be the same Biggest War Chest Wins mentality of our states.

Gone will be what our founders fought and died for. In its place will be...well, not America.

09 November 2008

Friday Night Sketch War: Reconciliation Edition

In the battle of the sketches, he who comes first gets trampled by those who follow. But those who follow trip on the landmines of the first. Don't you ever forget that.

Next week's theme, picked by me again 'cause I wasn't smart enough to ask anyone else to do it, will be autumn. For the boys in Chicago, it might seem a bit late, but for those of us who do NOT live on the shores of the coldest lake in the universe, it seems about right.

If you want to play along, write a sketch and send a link to it to sketchwar at dreamloom.com. And be sure to come back on Friday for fun, fun fun.

08 November 2008

HE probably didn't whisper "I am the Lord your God"

Quick table-setting: I'm an atheist, born of a lapsed Catholic father and a Jewish mother who eats bacon. So get where I stand. Now, some would argue I'm an agnostic, because if irrefutable evidence of God's existence were presented to me I would accept it, but since I *know* that's not going to happen I stick with full disbelief.

I am a Jew who does not believe in God.

Not a half-Jew, not a Catholic, and not a secular atheist. I'm a Jew. My disbelief is colored in certain ways, and if that aforementioned evidence were ever to be presented to me, it would make me believe in YHWH in all his majesty, power, petulance, and arrogance. Not some mealy-mouthed softie, afraid to meddle in the affairs of man.

So when I see something like this (offered without context or finger pointing because I'm not looking to make someone feel bad:)

...it comes from the bottom up, as God worked the change in our lives. He didn't come down in a shower of glory and light and fun pyrotechnics to capture our attention...
He came as low as he could get, fit himself into a peasant boy, basically, and worked with the most hopeless people at their level.
Uh, no. Read the *whole* bible next time you pick it up. Not just the stuff written in the four hundred years after the death of Jesus, but the part that the rest of us believe, Jews and Muslims as well as Christians.
  • He came with fire and brimstone and destroyed the cities on the plain.
  • He came with anger at man's arrogance to build a tower to heaven and destroyed it, scattering and confusing the languages of the world.
  • He came with wicked vengeance on Pharaoh, sending plague after plague after plague on his people and burying his army beneath the waters of the Red Sea.
  • He came with a flood that destroyed the world.
Look, I don't know who y'all's god is, but this is the one I was taught about. So do NOT tell me he wouldn't use pyro-GODDAMN-technics to capture attention!

07 November 2008

FSW: Extremes Attraction

Reconciliation. This week, I read about the woman on the Texas School Board who thinks Barack Obama is going to open the doors for terrorists. And I saw all three anti-gay amendments pass in state elections, presumably because hearing the word 'gay' might make innocent people turn gay. RedState has begun its Operation Leper, so they might throw out all the reasonable voices in the GOP and turn it into a teeny-tiny echo chamber of Sarah Palin and her ilk (and her elk, presumably.)

And let's not forget that the President-Elect is a Marxist/Islamist/Radical Black Christian and Dick Cheney planned 9/11. There are crazies all around. Enough crazies to fill a small city (although the right-wing half of them would rather stay in small towns.)

So I give you this. It's rough. It needs many, many revisions. And I did NOT pick the craziest of the crazies. But I think it's not so terrible. Let me know what you think.

Come back later tonight/this weekend for my on-time wrapup. I'll have links to the other sketches then. But for now, please enjoy mine. And comment! Comment! Comment!

Extremes Attraction

INT. SPACESHIP PASSAGEWAY - PERMANENT NIGHT

Curved plasteel walls stretch into the distance. The thrum of the Keeslar-Morales drive is just audible. With a WHOOSH, a door slides open and SUB-COMMANDANT BILL O'REILLY enters in his skin-tight utility uniform. He is followed by ARCH-LIEUTENANT MICHELLE MALKIN, sashaying in her skin-tight utilities, unzipped provocatively, exposing cleavage.

MALKIN

Sub-commandant! You can't let them on the ship, they'll infect us all!

O'REILLY

It's a risk we've got to take!

INT. SPACESHIP TRANSPORTER ROOM - PERMANENT NIGHT

CHIEF RUSH LIMBAUGH tests the limits of his kevlar-spandex uniform standing at a control panel.

O'REILLY

Bring them over, Limby.

LIMBAUGH

Aye, Sub-commandant.

Limbaugh pushes buttons, turns dials, and slides a lever. Twinkling lights and tinkling chimes fill the room and three forms take shape. KEITH-O in a custom tailored suit, JANEANE in hemp clothing cut like potato sacks, and AL FRANKEN in tweed appear.

MALKIN

Look out! She's got a gun under her burka!

TWO SECURITY OFFICERS appear out of the corners and tackle Janeane.

MALKIN (CONT'D)

Good job! She was--

SECURITY OFFICER #1

It's just a hooka, sir.

MALKIN

That's just as bad! She was going to make all our children smoke

(whispering)

mar-ee-wan-ah.

LIMBAUGH

You'd better let me search her. No telling what other drugs she may be carrying.

O'REILLY

Belay yourself, Chief! Doctor Phil tells me you've been spending quite enough time in sickbay.

(beat)

I'm Sub-commandant O'Reilly of the Earthship John Wayne. Welcome aboard.

KEITH-O

You're a terrible person, O'Reilly. Truly. The. Worst. Person.

MALKIN

Maybe we shouldn't have responded to your distress signal then!

Janeane and the security guards get up and she gives each of them a little baggie.

JANEANE

We responded to yours, you bimbo!

MALKIN

Don't be rid--

O'REILLY

--Can it, Michelle! It was our distress signal. I told you that.

MALKIN

But you told me--

O'REILLY

You have anyone like this?

AL FRANKEN

(sighs)

We've got Sharpton.

O'REILLY

I'm actually truly sorry.

(beat)

Okay, here's the problem, our jump drive computers are fried.

KEITH-O

Don't you have a backup?

O'REILLY

The backup computers are all infected with a virus. Our morale officer, Bennett, installed poker on all of them, but the software was a Trojan Horse. We're practically drifting. All we've got is our Hadron drives for maneuvering. We're stuck sub-light.

LIMBAUGH

We've only got six months supply in the mess!

AL FRANKEN

(looks at Limbaugh)

I'd guess only three.

JANEANE

What do you want from us, O'Reilly?

O'REILLY

Can you send over your Systems Officer to assist with a complete overhaul of our network? Ours isn't up to the task.

AL FRANKEN

Why's that?

O'REILLY

No one properly vetted Ensign Palin. Apparently MIT was not one of the many schools she attended.

KEITH-O

We'd like to help, we honestly would--.

MALKIN

But you won't right? Typical. You elites just want to take and take from the hard-working people and--

KEITH-O

--but we don't have a Systems Officer, per se.

O'REILLY

What do you mean?

JANEANE

We don't have ranks or titles. Everyone just pitches in on the Gaia. From each according to his abilities...

AL FRANKEN, JANEANE, KEITH-O

...to each according to his needs.

JANEANE

It works pretty well, other than all those course corrections. Someday it would be nice to reach a planet.

O'REILLY

You need to have a clearly defined chain of command.

AL FRANKEN

We don't really believe in that. That's why it took us an hour to come over. We had to get the crew together and debate who should come. Then we had to debate whether to bring the talking stick or leave it back on the Gaia.

MALKIN

(under breath)

Gay-uh is right.

Limbaugh snickers like a schoolboy and minces in the background for Malkin's benefit.

AL FRANKEN

I guess we could ask around and see if anyone's got any experience with this sort of problem.

INT. SPACESHIP CONFERENCE ROOM - PERMANENT NIGHT

O'Reilly, Malkin, and the three from the ESS Gaia are joined by JOSEPHINE JONZZ, mid-20s and transgendered, wearing a skimpy dress and JOE WURLZ, late 30s and bald, wearing a gray jumpsuit. O'Reilly frequently leers at JOSEPHINE.

MALKIN

Do you have a lot of experience with computer systems?

JOSEPHINE

Nah, not really. Sometimes I'd cash out customers at the salon, but I'd usually make a mistake and the owner'd have to come help.

AL FRANKEN

It was her or Steve Jobs. Even I don't hate you enough to do that.

MALKIN

Joe, why don't you take him/her/it down to the computer core.

JOE

No.

O'REILLY

Are you disobeying a direct order, mister?

JOE

Sub-commandant, arch-lieutenant...all due respect, but I can't work with *that*. Back when I was a Telephone Sanitizer I wouldn't even have cleaned its phone. Just spit on it when it wasn't looking.

JOSEPHINE

Hey, that's not nice!

O'REILLY

(leering again)

No, it's not nice Ms. Jonzz.

JOSEPHINE

Josie. You can call me Josie.

O'REILLY

And you can call me Papa Bear.

MALKIN

Oh, get a room! We're spinning out of control here.

A communicator on the table dings and Malkin presses a button.

MALKIN

Go ahead.

TECH (FILTER)

Arch-lieutenant, the Gaia has docked with us!

MALKIN

You see! I told you they were going to come over here and kill us all and introduce Sharia and make us get gay married and take away our guns!!!

AL FRANKEN

All at once? How would...never mind.

JANEANE

It must be hard to be you.

O'REILLY

What's the meaning of this, Franken?!

AL FRANKEN

I have no idea. We never discussed docking.

TECH (FILTER)

It appears that our computer systems are back online. They've networked with the Gaia's. There's--

A hologram - much like the CNN hologram - shimmers into view. BARACK OBAMA and JOHN MCCAIN stand arm-in-arm.

OBAMA

We hope you're all enjoying your accomodations.

MCCAIN

Is Sarah doing well, I hope?

OBAMA

You might wonder why we've brought you all together.

MALKIN

You had nothing to do with it! We take personal responsibility for our actions!

OBAMA

(laughs)

Yes, of course you do, Michelle. Anyway, we brought your ships together so we could say goodbye one last time.

AL FRANKEN

What? I don't understand! I supported you!

OBAMA

Yes Al, thank you for that. I know you did. But America needs to come together now, and voices like yours are part of the old, divisive ways.

MCCAIN

We don't have the time or room for any more of the extremes to be tearing the middle apart.

KEITH-O

And Senator McCain, sir, do you believe you are in the middle? You are not, sir.

MCCAIN

What can I say? I'm a maverick. Always bouncing around. I woke up and realized America needs to move forward, not rightward or leftward.

O'REILLY

So the world we were supposed to be colonizing? The one filled with willing slaves?

MCCAIN

That was a lie to get you on the John Wayne.

JANEANE

And the one we were going to, with universal healthcare and legalized pot and no corporations conspiring against us? That was a lie, too?

OBAMA

"Lie" is such an ugly word, Janeane. Let's just say it was a campaign promise that didn't come true.

MCCAIN

Your ships are now in a decaying orbit around the sun. You have another day before the boys in NASA say the heat will be too much and the hull will vaporize.

MALKIN

I thought we were hundreds of light years away!

OBAMA

Well, Michelle, perhaps if you had paid a little more attention in your science classes and not believed every silly anti-scientific fantasy that crossed before you, you would know that isn't possible. And now we'd like to say our goodbyes. Have a pleasant journey and know that your sacrifice is going to make America and the world a better place.

The hologram cuts out. Silence. The thrum of what clearly are NOT Keeslar-Morales drives is audible.

Joe the Phone Sanitizer looks at Janeane.

JOE

You wanna?

JANEANE

Sure.

Joe and Janeane leave with lust and despair in their eyes. Al Franken nods to Keith-O and Michelle Malkin.

AL FRANKEN

Not much time left. Whatdya think?

The three of them leave the room. Michelle looks like a schoolgirl, giddy with the knowledge that she can drop the act.

O'REILLY

(To Josephine)

Right here on the table works for me.

BLACKOUT

06 November 2008

She really needs to pick up a non-genre book...

I could make a cottage industry out of posting snarky rebuttals to the piffle Jo Walton spits out on the Tor blog. It's like she was specifically crafted in a lab to drive me insane. Last time, it was because she whinged about how she doesn't like to read the SF output of *superior* writers (ie: those not in the SF/F ghetto) because they don't understand the tropes. This time?

"Rosa sat so Martin could march, Martin marched so Barack could run, Barack ran so our children can fly."

Everybody seems to be quoting this without attribution, and I’d love to know who wrote it. The thing that struck me about it was how very science-fictional it felt. It’s got the ring to it of something from a future history book, or one of those oracular poems with deep special meanings you sometimes run across in fantasy. I hope everyone’s children can fly, but we’d better get working on the spaceships.
The comment I left:
I don't want to be really rude, but I can't remember a post of yours that didn't make me shake my head at least a little. This one's pretty severe.

The quote is not "science-fictional," neither does it have "the ring to it of something from a future history book, or one of those oracular poems with deep special meanings you sometimes run across in fantasy." It's a standard rhetorical trope, familiar to anyone who reads broadly and outside of the SF and Fantasy worlds.

It builds power and tension through repetition, similar to this quote from MLK:

Press on and keep pressing. If you can't fly, run; if you can't run, walk; if you can't walk-CRAWL.

If you've seen similar in SF and Fantasy, that's because it is a very old form with which you should be familiar. For example, if you thought the line I quoted above was *original* in Firefly, you really need to get out more.
N.B. I corrected a typo I had in my comment. Not trying to hide anything, but I see no reason to quote myself and leave it uncorrected.

Who knows: maybe y'all'll disagree with me and think she's really hit that thar nail on the head. Though I suspect my few readers are a bit more well-rounded than Jo, so it seems unlikely.

05 November 2008

Me, elsewhere


Oh, Tyra. Why do you do these things?

My FNL review is up at DreamLoom.

Friday Night Sketch War: Trick of Treat Edition

Again, I've *got* to pick up the pace with these wrapups. Soon, I'll be posting them five minutes before sticking up my last-minute entries for the following week. But it's here, so let's take a look-see.

Again we asked our legion of fans to leave comments on our sites with theme suggestions for this week. Again our legion of fans let us down. We'd be upset, but we do so love you. So our mothers *will* be continuing to pay your mothers to be nice to us for at least one more week. So this week's theme, in honor of the mood of the day, is reconciliation.

If you want to play along, write a sketch and send a link to it to sketchwar at dreamloom.com. And be sure to come back on Friday for fun, fun fun.

04 November 2008

How to Succeed at Rockefeller Plaza Without Really Trying


I engaged in a little 30 Rock fan-fictionarialization over at DreamLoom. Take a look.

Oh, what could have been.

Now there you are;
Yes, there's that face,
That face that somehow I trust.
It may embarrass you to hear me say it,
But say it I must, say it I must:
You have the cool, clear
Eyes of a seeker of wisdom and truth;
Yet there's that upturned chin
And that grin of impetuous youth.
Oh, I believe in you.
I believe in you.

31 October 2008

FSW: Tricks, Lots of Tricks

Er, uh. Ken came up with this week's topic when our readers failed to offer up even one suggestion. But you know what? I'm going to try again. So if you read the sketches but aren't going to compete, comment here, or on one of the competitor blogs, with your idea for what the theme should be. I'll pick my favorite and we'll run with that. If we get no suggestions (or if we fear the suggestions we get) the honors will fall to me this time. And if you want to compete, email a link to your sketch to sketchwar at dreamloom.com.

This week I had a lot of trouble. Couldn't come up with a thing. Until tonight. So I'm cutting it under the wire, and I wish I could give this a polish, but I actually think it's a pretty cute one. Though again I'm writing kids. Not sure what that's about. Anyway, hope y'all enjoy. And please, please, please: comment. And pass links along to your friends, countrymen, social networking sites, Roman bath house buddies, whatever.

Tricks, Lots of Tricks

EXT. SIDEWALK - DUSK

Four KIDS, 8-10 years old and in costume, gather under the darkening sky. By costume, there are SPIDERMAN, GHOST, BALLERINA, DINOSAUR.

SPIDERMAN

What did you get?

GHOST

Two Obama-Biden bumper stickers and this paper.

(Beat)

'Tortious Acts as a Basis for Jurisdiction in Products Liability Cases: A Completely Original Look'

DINOSAUR

Which house?

GHOST

The one with the guy dressed up like a Ken doll. Fake hair, face all plastic-y.

BALLERINA

He always looks like that. My mom says some people need to let nature take its course.

DINOSAUR

I got a butterscotch from that old guy who sits in his rocking chair on his porch all the time.

GHOST

Oh, the blue house.

DINOSAUR

No, I tried there but the lights were off.

GHOST

The red house?

DINOSAUR

Off.

GHOST

Then--

DINOSAUR

--He was in the yellow house.

BALLERINA

The one with the pretty red door. I like that house.

DINOSAUR

No, the other yellow house. I think he was running from house to house trying to hide, but he wasn't too fast. I caught him at the sixth house.

SPIDERMAN

Good. That house on the hill creeps me out.

(Opening sack wide)

Well, my bag's full!

DINOSAUR

No way! That's good stuff, too! Where?

SPIDERMAN

The shack on the corner.

BALLERINA

Who lives there?

SPIDERMAN

That loud lady who's always standing outside the Whole Foods with the clipboard. But I don't know if you guys should go there. My hand's real sore now.

(Beat)

She wouldn't give me any candy unless I signed a whole bunch of cards. She didn't care what name I used, but said if I signed fifty of 'em I could fill my bag up with all the candy I could carry.

BALLERINA

(Showing bag)

I got a bunch, too.

GHOST

That's pretty good Where?

BALLERINA

The house with the basketball hoop out front. But I don't think he's really got any candy.

DINOSAUR

What do you mean?

BALLERINA

I got to the door the same time as Joey Hanson. He had a lot more candy than me. The guy answered the door and said that wasn't fair and made him give me half his candy. Joey ran home crying.

DINOSAUR

Let's go try that house.

The kids walk one house over and up to the door. String lights, multiple pumpkins, and other decorations adorn the yard and porch. Spiderman rings the bell. The doorbell plays Dixie. It opens and a woman dressed as the Bride of Frankenstein - with rimless glasses - answers.

BRIDE

Hey there, you kids! Happy Halloween!

KIDS

Trick or Treat! Give us something good to eat!

BRIDE

Oh, you betcha!

The Bride reaches into a bowl and pulls out four wrapped items, one for each.

BRIDE (CONT'D)

Here you go! Now don't get into any trouble!

The Bride closes the door as the kids skip off the porch. Spiderman checks his bag.

SPIDERMAN

Eww! Homemade moose jerky!

BALLERINA

Hey, isn't that your brother over there?

GHOST

Where?

BALLERINA

(Points to distance)

There.

GHOST

He's not supposed to go over there. He's going to get in trouble. Mom said to stay out of Russia!

BLACKOUT

30 October 2008

It's Rabbit Season!!!

It's been a few years since I've taken the couple of hours to carve a pumpkin for Halloween,1 but TheWife bought one this year so I figured I'd go ahead and do something. My first thought was a McCain pumpkin - that beautiful lizard-y shot of him at the final debate seemed like a good idea - but here in AZ that might get me shot. So I decided to not do a political carving at all. But then what?

A Terminator pumpkin would be pretty cool, so I went looking for a good shot of Arnie with his face half ripped off. I'd probably want to augment that carving with a red LED, but it could be pretty cool. Unfortunately, the photos I could find were all half in shadow, so when I dropped them to B&W and tried applying the Threshold filter, no matter which way I did them, I'd end up with huge swaths cut out. That's fine and dandy, right up until you need to leave an eye in the middle. So short of drawing my own, or spending a few hours just on image manipulation, it was no-go. What then...ah.

Daffy Duck.

I did a quick search and found this mediocre, low-res gif2


and after about 20 minutes in the Gimp I had a usable three-tone pattern.

Here it is out on the front step, first with flash...


and then all lit up...
I think it came out okay for only a couple hours.

Like Rob down in Accounting

John Rogers with the best explanation for the Obama Half-Hour Flower Power Variety Hoe Down:

This, indeed was why McCain's campaign could never score a serious hit. Despite the cries of "Marxism" and waving the bloody shirt of 60's radicalism, Senator Obama has cultivated a studiously boring policy presence. Chris and I were talking in the writer's room the other day, about the 30 minute ad buy that aired tonight. Chris was wondering what it was supposed rto accomplish.

"Nothing," I said. "In the best possible scenario, it's so boring that people turn it off halfway through. He's already got the people he inspired. What he has to do now is get people who used to be uncomfortable with the idea of a black president, and make them so comfortable that they're even bored with the idea."

"'Obama's not like those other black people.' He's like Rob down in Accounting.'"

DreamLoom update

Just a quick reminder to my regulars...if you haven't been checking over to DreamLoom, you should.

Regular reviews of Mad Men, Pushing Daisies, and Friday Night Lights, plus more to come from me and the...ahem...stable of writers. Speaking of which...if you'd like to join the stable (there really is one, I swear. But it's like a stable of cats and very hard to corral) please let me know. You can comment on this post, or contact me by email at rporter at dreamloom.com.

28 October 2008

Arizona Ballot Propositions

Here we find ourself a week before an election, one of the more interesting ones in my life. It's not "the most important election of my lifetime" as many people keep breathlessly intoning. That would have been 1980 (or, stretching the meaning, since I was only 8 months old at the time, 1968.) In case you're wondering, neither of those went my way. I'm used to losing the ones that matter.

But it's not just the big tickets and small that are on the line this go 'round. As usual, my insane neighbors have plenty of their idiotic "citizen initiatives" on the ballot here in AZ. So, as I did back in 2006, I provide here my voting guide for the Arizona Ballot Propositions. If you live in AZ, you'll probably disagree with me on most of these: you do, after all, live in AZ. If you don't live in AZ, you'll probably not care one whit what I've got to say about things about which you have no vote. Oh, and since I generally don't believe citizen initiatives are generally good, expect to see me say 'no' a lot. Still...here we go.

Proposition 100: PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO ARTICLE IX OF THE ARIZONA CONSTITUTION BY ADDING A NEW SECTION 24 RELATING TO A PROHIBITION OF ANY NEW REAL PROPERTY SALE OR TRANSFER TAX IN ARIZONA.
No. "Taxation without representation" was one of causes of the American revolution; we have representation. If you don't want a new tax (that no one has proposed,) vote for candidates who will vote against it. I'm not a big fan of direct democracy. It's undeliberative, reactionary, and not at all cost effective.
Propostion 101: PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF ARIZONA; AMENDING ARTICLE II OF THE ARIZONA CONSTITUTION BY ADDING SECTION 36 OF ARTICLE II; RELATING TO FREEDOM OF CHOICE IN HEALTH CARE.
No. Again, if you don't want a law to be enacted, vote for representatives who think the way you do. And please don't go whining about "socialized medicine." I could only hope the Arizona legislature would vote for state-wide single payer.
Proposition 102: PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF ARIZONA; AMENDING THE CONSTITUTION OF ARIZONA BY ADDING ARTICLE XXX; RELATING TO MARRIAGE.
NO! I could not be more emphatic about this. Why the fuck do you care who fucks whom? Why the fuck do you care who marries whom? I don't think ugly people should kiss in public. Can we have a goddamn constitutional amendment for that, too?
Proposition 105: PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF ARIZONA: AMENDING ARTICLE IV, PART 1, CONSTITUTION OF ARIZONA, BY ADDING SECTION 1.1 RELATING TO INITIATIVE MEASURES AND REQUIRING THAT ANY MANDATORY TAX OR SPENDING INCREASE BE ENACTED BY A MAJORITY OF QUALIFIED ELECTORS.
No. Jesus Christ. First these douchebags want to tie the hands of the state to collect taxes. Then, with this piece of shit, they want to change the meaning of "majority". They'd like it so that a majority of *qualified electors* need to approve new taxes or fees. Not voters, mind you. 80% of qualified electors don't show up to vote, it doesn't matter if 100% of the *voters* vote to pass a future initiative, it won't pass. Brilliant. Horribly anti-democratic, and coming from me that should say something.
Proposition 200: Payday Loan Reform Act
No. This one's tougher. I support the existence of loan options; oppose usury. I would like to see real reform; this proposition doesn't do nearly enough. So, going with my general I-oppose-citizen-initiatives philosophy, I'll stick with a no vote.
Proposition 201: Homeowners' Bill of Rights
No. This sounds all rainbows and unicorns, right? Then you read this little change to 12-1364 paragraph (e):
NO CONTRACT FOR THE PURCHASE OF A DWELLING MAY REQUIRE THE PURCHASER TO PAY THE ATTORNEY OR EXPERT FEES OF THE SELLER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.
Cute. So, let's say I've got $20M to burn and I don't like a homebuilder. Tell ya what I'd do: buy a bunch of houses (with the intent to resell and recoup,) file a whole crapload of bullshit dwelling actions with complex and esoteric problems in them. Lose in court on each and every one, but have cost the homebuilder a lot of money to defend. Lather, rinse, repeat. Never before had I seen a law written for the sole purpose of *encouraging* sport litigation. Maybe those laws are out there, I don't know. But this one? Absolutely encourages it. Must have been written by those "trial lawyers" people are always going on about.
Proposition 202: Stop Illegal Hiring Initiative.
No. Much of the opposition is concerned about this providing employer amnesty. My concern is that carefully vetted and constitutionally sound law is being modified by special interests, an act that will inevitably cost the state more money when it is struck down by Federal courts. Oh, and beyond that...immigration law is under the aegis of the Federal government, not the individual states. The sooner this residents of this state get that through their heads, the sooner we can finally be rid of Sheriff Joe and Andy Thomas. And the cost savings on kicking those two to the curb is HUGE.
Proposition 300: Pay raises for State Legislators
Yes. See? I don't oppose every one of these. $24K is untenable, unless we want people who are weighing the options between a job at Fashion Bug or a job as a legislator. Pushing it to $30K at least gives us a hope that we'd get Macy's-caliber legislators.