Half a Month There on Foot

You will find me at the corner of Speed and Power

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

I'm The Believer

New Rhett Miller album out today. So far I'm liking it okay. I guess liking it "okay" is better than most new music taking awhile to grow on me.

There's a new "version" of 'Singular Girl' that's pretty okay, and there's a new version of 'Question' that's... questionable. I like the original so much because it's so stripped down. This version's all "I got guitars and strings and a lute and an Irish jug band."

Still, I'm pleased with the purchase. I bought the honest-to-goodness CD version, and importing it into iTunes I'm told the genre is "country," a sentiment I don't share. It's very poppy, and that's okay. The covers of the Old 97's songs sound country, if anything, but the rest of the album is very "pop."

The whole thing is online and Rhett will be on the Jay Leno show (can we really call it The Tonight Show?) on Thursday, I think, so Tivo that and see if you'd like an album full of sex and lovin'.

Monday, February 27, 2006


From TWIT: "Look for Alex Albrecht's cooking show, Control-Alt-Chicken, and much more from Revision 3 soon."

Damn Alex taking damn ideas I hadn't thought of yet...

Friday, February 24, 2006


...Merlin just might get himself a link on the side there.

Five things...

all true.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Everything's a little clearer in the light of day...

Looking forward to a little afternoon delight... yeah, when "Afternoon Delight" is in your head at 7 a.m. it's going to be a long day.

I love writing. Not the act of writing, really, but having written. I also love Sports Night (see previous TV postings). And every 14-18 months I re-watch the entire series. I accidentally started this over the weekend and only got two episodes in.

The second episode masterfully sets up a number of big reveals through the episode while dealing with pretty heady stuff: failed relationships, being fired, and death. The thing that makes it all click is the Starland Vocal Band's "Afternoon Delight."

The actors, writer, director and editors do a masterful job setting everything up for the episode and the execution is flawless. They're holding a workshop in making compelling entertainment. This episode cements the Dan-Casey (the two sports anchors) relationship for me as that relevant in so many ways. If you seen the episode, you know what I mean. It's the final moments when they bring all the discussion full-circle. What could be overwhelming "life crush" becomes enough of a defense so your team can take the field again (sports show = sports metaphor. Bite me).

And it's tied together by Casey and his love of the Starland Vocal Band. So this is really THE greatest website on the internet. Maybe go read the pilot if you haven't seen the show, but do not read The Cutman Cometh till you've seen the episode. You'll marvel on how it was all on the page but is really jerked out of the park with the timing in acting, direction, and editing.

Me, on the otherhand, I just read "The Cutman Cometh" and laughed myself silly. I've been putting off a :30 script and then just ran through it so now I at least have something on paper.

... I'm telling you, today will be swell. It'll be long, but it'll be swell.



Good evening--


Good evening. From New York City I'm
Dan Rydell alongside Casey McCall--


Good evening. From New York City I'm
Casey McCall alongside Dan Rydell--


Those stories--


Those stories--


Those stories plus, we'll take you
live to the locker room at Arrowhead--






--through the ACC--


--a PAC-10 match up--


--We'll bring you more on Jayson


--A.K. Russell--


--Desmond Corey--


--Christian Patrick--


--Leonard Mooker of Newton,


--Jack Jankowicz with the Marlins--


--Ntozake Nelson's got something to
say about a world record--


--and Kelly Kirkpatrick in Green Bay.



All that comin' up after this. You're
watching Sports Night on CSC, so stick


We're out.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Knee work out tonight. Somebody wants to run.

Back on the TV/movie rule: if there's TV watchin', you're working out. Tonight Dinner for Five with Tony Hawk, Seth McFarlane, that Napoleon Dynamite guy, Adam Goldberg, that Flaming Lips guy, that guy that said he hates people recognizing him from Friends and Christina Ricci. Not all at once, two different shows.

And the Flaming Lips guy is actually really funny. And Seth McFarlane is still not. I am impressed he made the Family Guy pilot for $50,000 and was booked on one of the airplanes that struck the World Trade Center. He seems like a nice enough guy but his show is clearly not for me.

The new Flaming Lips album, I'll be checking out.

I'm in love/what's that song?

Over at the Wil Wheaton in Exile site he used the song lyric "a dream can mean anything" as a post title. For a day I've been hearing Rhett Miller singing the line, but now we all know that it's Jeff Tweedy... could my Old 97's love and anticipation for the new Rhett Miller solo album be clouding my judgement?

...yes, yes it could. Six days till new Rhett Miller/ Old 97's pop-lite. That's pretty good for me.

Geekiest Coverville ever?

Awesome. It's the Video Game Coverville. You need this. As always go to Coverville.com for more info.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Reel Paradise

Finally a JMU alum uses his power for good! Alright, so Hoop Dreams was good too...

Friday, February 17, 2006


Just saw what would have been my favorite movie of 2005 had I seen it in 2005: The Matador. It ain't perfect, and Capote is much better, but I haven't loved a movie this much since Shaun of the Dead.

Essentially: business man (Greg Kinnear) with crappy luck and hitman (Pierce Brosnan) about to have an existential crisis find each other in Mexico City and hilarity ensues. Bronsan's Julian is emotionally cut off from humanity and is coming to grips with being incredibly alone. Kinnear's Danny has a great wife but his financial life is unstable... that's all I'm giving you.

Pierce Brosnan is stellar. The direction is spot-on. The soundtrack is wonderful. And it's not predicatble. And it cost $10 million. If it's still playing near you, you could do much worse for a couple of hours of entertainment.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Contractually obligated

I'm a fan of contactions. I am a fan of contrations.

Those sentences read very differntly in my head. The beats sound so at odds. The first sentence seems sleek, and lean. The second feels meandering.

When I write business e-mails, commercial and video scripts, I try to be lean. Economy of word is extremly important. Say what you need to say quickly. In, out. Done. Fini.

And I believe in the power of contractions. I wince when I get ultra-dense scripts with "We are the best blah blah in blah blah." "We are." "We're." A whole thirty seconds of that takes much more time than it should. Way more.

With this random typing I'm doing now, I try to be somewhat aware of word economy, but I see it more as an informal exercise in refining "voice." I know how my internal monolouge works, but it needs to be exercised. And it's all contractions. Non-contractions I save for emphasis or style. And I kinda (kind of) wish everybody else would do the same.

It's like using swear words sparingly. Today was a good day at work, and by the end of it I was laughing and recounting stories with four-letter flourishes. "Ass," "dick," "jerkweed," and the almighty "s-word" and "f-word" help bring the funny/emphasis when they're (they are) not part of my daily speech.

And I especially like subbing in "f word" for the "f-word." Christopher Priest used this wonderfully in a comic (sorry Susan). Priest, a black writer and music producer, often touches on issue of race, and this "mainstream" title was no exception. The first couple of issues the "n-word" was used pretty liberally to make a point. Contextually, for the story, the "n-word" was very appropriate. Some vocal readers and eventually the publisher(s) thought otherwise. Priest was ordered to strike words like the "s-word" and "n-word" from the comic. Instead, he subbed in "s-word" for "shit," "f-word" for "fuck" and for the "n-word:" "noogie." And it was hilarous. "What up, my noogie?"

Contextually before, Priest was using "n-word" in a vile way in a sequence of flashbacks of white kids trying to be superior to one of the main characters, a black man. We already liked the main character, and seeing his childhood prooved important to his backstory and future plotlines. And then somebody didn't like that they were printing "shit."

The whole deal was absurd, but, thanks to his constraints, Priest upped the ante a notch. Before the words had a lot of weight. Afterwards they did too, but with a nice double meaning.

Eh, word guys can write about this much better than I. I've been struggling with a script and reading too much technique tonight. And I realized how much I dislike people not using contractions.

And I still don't know how to sell this consignment store. F-word.

Continuing with the TV theme...

one of my favorite TV writer/producers is now blogging. Jane Espenson is a TV veteran with Gilmore Girls, Buffy, Firefly, and now Jake in Progress. The current entry on creating a script outline is something (with my limited experience) I totally agree with.

Good writer, good stuff.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Favorite TV shows 2-1

I shoulda asked you guys to vote for Rudolph or Christmas Vacation... nobody has challenged me on any of them. I expected some Tota yelling at least...

#2 Spaced - This British series from the late 90s/early 2000s was overshadowed in the states by Ricky Gervais' The Office and expensive music licensing. I own the all-tricked out DVD set (Region 2) that I bought overseas, and I've worn them down with the watching.

This show is almost the anti-Friends. It's the story of a twenty-something guy and girl pretending to be a couple to get a good deal on a flat. Simon Pegg's "Tim" and Jess Stevenson's "Daisy" are underachievers waiting for "it" to happen, that big "it" that'll help get their lives on track and start their careers. And it's funny, in visuals, dialouge, and situation.

Stevenson and Pegg co-wrote ever episode, and every episode was produced by Nira Park and directed by Edgar "Whip Pan" Wright. The consistency in tone and execution are exceptional, and the same folks in the same roles play a big part in that.

was pitched as a cross between The Simpsons, The X-Files and Northern Exposure. The X-Files, I don't get, unless it's the two leads and their not-getting-together chemistry. Simpsons for sure, and Northern Exposure certainly makes sense when you view the series per episode or as a whole.

Pegg, Wright, and Stevenson can do no wrong by me. Shaun of the Dead was my favorite movie of 2004. It's a romantic comedy, with zombies. And Spaced is a story about growing up and being responsible but never losing sight of the "prize."

I've not really painted a full picture of the series (all 14 episodes) and I don't want to. I want you to be able to see it some day and not have me ruin the jokes or the beats. I can only say that it's about the relationships in our lives that create our family, and the ups and downs that go with them. And it's about absurdity and wit, and lots of pop culture references. And lots of genuinely funny situational comedy. And it's my second favorite TV show of all time.

#1 the prisoner - This is no surprise to most of you. Patrick McGoohan's 1960s allegorical spy series has been my favorite show for over 12 years running.

The plot is this: McGoohan is a secret agent who resigns from her Majesty's Service. As he prepares to leave London, perhaps for good, a stranger shows up to his apartment and gases him. McGoohan's character wakes up in a bright, colorful "Village" where everyone is sunny and cheerful. Excpet, it's not like that at all. Everyone there is/was a spy and the purpose of the Village is to extract information from it's citizens. Everyone is assigned a number; McGoohan's prisoner is known only as Number Six. The Village's Number Two (serving an unseen Number One) is in charge of breaking Number Six. And this is only the show open.

Number Six is constantly trying to escape, and the Village is constantly trying to break him. That's the show, in a nutshell.

McGoohan was the highest paid TV star in history when he started the show. He was popular from Danger Man/Secret Agent Man. He was the first choice, over Sean Connery, to play James Bond. Instead, he choose to create the first TV mini-series, a show examining the role of the individual in society, mortal man versus the imprisoning nature of being mortal, and an open mind versus conformity.

The series is challenging, original, and daring. And funny, more so than not. Number Six is quite witty and sarcastic, in addition to being ten steps ahead most of the time. McGoohan was incredibly ballsy to create something new when he could have kept on taking a bigger paycheck for doing more of the same.

When the final epsiode "Fallout" aired there were riots in the streets in London. McGoohan had to move out of the country. That's how much his TV show meant to the viewing public.

This is another show my poor description won't do justice. I saw the prisoner at a great time in life: the middle of my teenage years. That's almost an ideal time to be presented with challenging entertainment that isn't easy to sum up in a few words. I think it's led to a lot of film and TV snobbery, but that doesn't really bother me. If my favorite show wasn't over 40-years old, maybe I'd be less harsh when watching something bland and unoriginal. Or maybe feel less guilt when I contribute something bland and unoriginal to video.

I was completely surprised by the last episode, especially the last two minutes. It's all there all along, all of it. And when Number Six leaves the butler at the door of his flat and there's that familiar sound... it's like cold metal plunges deep in your brain and the final analysis was in front of you the whole time.

Original storytelling, larger-than-life metaphors. Few images and words give me chills and fire my imagination the way the long shadow of Number Six paired with the series tag line "No man is just a number" do today, and, by sheer force of clarity, tomorrow.

"Who are you?" "Whose side are you on?" "What do you want?"

Few shows try to be this small and large at the same time, and only one of them succeeds for me.


So that's it. A bunch of comedies and led by two brit shows. I don't know what all of it means, but it was fun to think about and have to articulate in my dumb way.

Be seeing you...

World's Tallest Midget OR Hey buddy, can you spare a paradigm (shift)?

This is of interest to me, but it's kinda like being the World's Tallest Midget. For the moment.

My Tivo failed me in getting the last four episodes of my beloved Arrested Development so I had to resort to more Torrenty options. Now I'm going to have a hard time not watching shows in HD/widescreen.

My point: got the TV I wanted off the web. Just like my audio. Content is content is content. Or the podcast is the message, stupid. I dunno, but almost half a million people are listening to Ricky Gervais from their computer or iPod, and almost the same with TWIT. That's kinda cool.

Veronica Mars gets maybe 2 millions viewers and loses money for UPN. Ricky gets 400,000 downloads. Would he get the same if they charged say $.25/listen. If it's something that I plunk down $5 for a season I'd do it. Half the people listening, say they do the same. That's $1,000,000. For guys sitting a room making fun of each other.

Leo gets at least 300,000 downloads per week that he's able to track pretty well. To advertise let's say it's $50/1000 set of ears.

$15,000 per episode in advertising to a targeted audience of early adopters listening every week. $60,000/four weeks. And you can "subscribe" or donate to TWIT, so that's not even counting say 100,000 who could pay $2 each, or $200,000 per year.

That seems like a lot for a couple of guys sitting around talking tech, controlling all the content, all the distribution, and ultimately getting all the money.

The cool part: Leo is building a TV channel out of all of this. I already download his internet only show MacBreak.

It's a good time to enjoy content.

V Day loot

I'm doing pretty good:

- gummi Peas (they say "Target Dog" but they're Sweetpea).
- hot plate for new office location.
- t-shirt that says "There's no lovin' like West Virginia lovin.'" I'm pretty sure it's because Amy's from Western Virginia.
- HUGE pot of potato soup. With cheese.

Beat that.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Little blogging, big news

Long long week. And now there's snow.

Wednesday on news from work has been stunning. Every day brought something with potential. In my job there's a lot of "this is gonna be huge!" moments and then nothing comes of it. So no news yet, but holy monkey will I type about it when something happens.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

You were made to be broken

It's the "How fast can I type" render dash! I just Googled music from Veronica Mars and found this kick-ass site http://veronicamusic.blogspot.com/

Kona and I were trying to figure out the karaoke singer from last week's episode... it's the dude from Spoon. Spoon even has a song in that episode. Oh Veronica Mars staff, you're too cool for school.

The week-before-last's VM was the best episode of the year for any TV show I watch. Typical that Rob Thomas and Co. sneak in a grand slam when you're thinking it's sophomore filler. Once again I implore all you non-Veronica Mars fans to hunt down the first season DVDs and not get hooked. You don't think they can top last year, but it's only getting better. Funnier than a sitcom, more emotional impact than a drama, smarter than a Whodunnit, Veronica Mars has taken the crown for jaw-dropping, heart-breaking end-of-episode fade to blacks.

The co-creator of Lost has made it clear he'll be pissed if Veronica Mars gets cancelled because of his time-slot sharing behemoth. That's classy. Given the choice, judging from this season, I'd pick Veronica. Why don't you get 100,000 of your friends to watch with you?

Biggest pellets ever?

Woah. That's some bunny.

Monday, February 06, 2006

A melody played on a Penny-Arcade.com

Not a video game player outside of my precious Halo 2, I often don't get the "in" jokes at Penny Arcade. What I do get is their no-holds-barred attitude with the video game and electronics industry. What I love is how they channel this power for good with Child's Play, a charity they run to raise donations and money to fund their charitable good deeds.

These guys are the Bono and The Edge of guys who make a living writing about video games on a website and doing comics. Their tale is worth repeating: $605,000 for charity this year alone.

It's easy to gloss over. T-W-O guys started a website about video games. They did this:

"First I should explain that I'm not a gamer, and I've never been to the Penny Arcade web site. I'm only aware of Child's Play because of the blurb on Slashdot this morning. For reasons I'll explain in a moment, this sort of thing gets my attention so I surfed over to your site to check it out.

In reading through, this sentence on your about page caught my eye:

"Some of these kids are in pretty bad shape—imagine being stuck alone in a hospital over the holidays--so getting something from a fellow gamer would really raise their spirits."

That may just be the understatement of the century.

About 2 1/2 years ago we found out that our 11 year old son had cancer (he finished treatment a few months ago and things look very good for the future). Needless to say, we've spent more time than I care to think about in the hospital over the last couple of years. Among his stays were one three week stint isolated in a positive pressure room in ICU when his immune system shut down and one Thanksgiving where we were only able to bring him home for a few hours during dinner (he wasn't keeping anything down at that time so couldn't eat, but he wanted to be there), then had to take him back to the hospital.

He's a reader so we always made sure he had books, but there were many times he either couldn't concentrate well enough to read or just didn't have the energy to do much else but lay there. When we couldn't be there with him, two things the hospital had available got his mind off the situation: Nintendo and movies. Even when he was fuzzy enough that he couldn't play the games properly he got a kick out of them. I guess a lot of these games are as fun when they go wrong as they are when they go right.

After our experience and realization of the difference they made to our son, we've made a practice of donating movies and games to the hospital he was in. Unfortunately it appears we're a minority, so to see an organization like yours pick up that torch and run with it like this is just wonderful.

Thank you so very much for what you're doing. To be sitting there with your child who can barely move for all the tubes and wires connected to him, who hasn't been able to eat for days and hasn't been home in weeks, who can't remember the last time he didn't feel awful and wonders if he'll ever feel good again, and have him laugh out loud when he crashes his go-kart in a video game... well, there aren't words so I won't try. Again, thank you.

Okay, I'm off to Amazon to buy some toys.


These guys and the folks who donate made my day. We tried to hit some not-for-profit organizations as a company last year, and skipped Child's Play for some local charities. I hope this year I can send some kids some eye strain and sore thumbs.

Top 5-3 (I'm busy, so lay off)

Here we go, 5-3. Did you guess ahead?

... no, no you didn't. Well Amy did, she saw some of the list. But you didn't did you smart guy? You thought you knew me...

#5 The Simpsons

I was so opposed to watching The Simpsons. All the people who were
watching the show were, well, dumb ass kids at school. Dumb ass like their
profession now is "drunk shirtless guy in the town square." I don't even know what caused me to watch either, but it was some where around the fourth season, and the show was unstoppable.

By now you know it too, and you either love it or don't. But then, my gosh, it pissed off U. S. presidents. Presidents. There's a pattern here with my liking these shows, and I'm not smart enough to add a lot more than "smart, satirically, goofy, strange" and I guess I can add animated. The show was such a antidote to banal sitcoms with thirty minute resolutions to complex problems.

The Simpsons
has fallen from it's higher perch in the upper echelon of great TV, but I can point to a good decade (a DECADE) of entertaining, sacred cow skewering, smart episodes.

#4 Sports Night -

If I ever do any kind of show, radio or TV, where I get to talk, it will be for the express purpose of saying "... and the rain in Spain falls mainly on Tulane. We'll have that, plus Bobbi Bernstein in PA. You're watching Sports Night on CSC, so stick around."

You have to understand: I was working a shitty TV job with people that were less than inspiring as, well, people. And along came this show about TV people who strove to do their part and make sure the other guy could do their part. And the dialouge and direction just crackles.

It's the ups and downs of the third rate cable sports show on the CSC Network. Behing the scenes and behind the desk, it's the "office comedy" with drama. It's got some the of the best moments on television.

Sorkin and Schlamme hit it big with West Wing but it started here. Half way through the first season the show got to dump its ABC mandated laugh track, and the show had room to get even funnier. Sports Night suffers from the usual Sorkin-Schlamme weak spots (sometimes they're too much in love with what they're doing, and sometimes the characters behave out of character to further story points) but I'll tell you this: I had maybe three dollars to my name (my shitty TV job with less-than-inspiring people also paid poorly) and I saw the Sports Night DVD set and bought it immediately.

I may have never made a better purchase.

#3 Ed

Okay, this was the one that surprised me, now and then. When I sat down and contemplated what shows I really loved and why, I realized how much Ed impacted my entertainment and work. Ed was somewhat poorly marketed but I tuned in anyway. I remember watching the first episode and being glad I did. It was a very uneven outing (the show was meant for CBS and the pilot was cut down to the opening minutes of the NBC premiere) but it was enough to make me tune in with anticipation.

Ed was a New York City lawyer who got fired from his big law job and caught his wife diddling the mailman on the same day. He retreats home to Stuckeyville Ohio to hide out with his high school buddies Mike and Nancy and their new daughter. That night he runs into his high school crush Carol and, bathed in moonlight and beer, kisses her.

He moves back to Stuckeyville, buys a bowling alley, and sets up a law practice. He's defeated, he's down, but he's figured out everything before this is a warm up. Ed has gotten a second chance in life, and it's nothing like he expected.

I looked at the opening sequence to the show about six times in a row, marveling at the good design on the show open. Everything you need to know is there: Ed starts in darkness and enters into the light. Some of it's familiar, some of it's new.

The show excelled at being funny in a way that pop culture shows can't, in a way that can be dismissed as "quirky" but is ultimately sweet and kind. And Tom Cavanagh makes you believe that it's really just him being him, not some guy acting like he's the eternal optimist, the hopeless/ful romantic who doesn't give up because that would be too easy.

I remember when I fell for the show (like a good book or movie, I am in love/fatuated with Ed): November 12th, 2000. Sure I was really leaning that way with episodes 2 and 4, but it was epsiode 6 that sealed the deal: Ed creates a holiday "The Festival of Ducks" (complete with backstory) to get the town an extra star in a tourist guide to beat out the neighboring Jaspertown and help the mayor get re-elected. I'm not doing the plot justice, but the episode ends with Ed, still in his giant duck suit, sweeping up confetti and debris in the middle of the town square. He's just talked to Carol, back from her intended-leaving-town-for-good trip, and the camera is booming up as Wilco's "I'm Always in Love" hits the chorus. An old man leading a group of ducks walks through the lower part of the frame as we fade to black.

Just like the show open sums up the back story, that sequence,to me, showed the heart of Ed. Funny, sweet, not sappy, kind, and hopeful.

I want to buy a house in Stuckeyville and eat pie just thinking about it.

**** Alright, 2-1 is just ahead(ish). #2 has never been broadcast properly in the States, and Number 2 always sort of knew Number 1 from #1. Oh bad play-on-words...

Saturday, February 04, 2006

No posts for February?

Busy with so much busy crap. And then some.

Today I went to Aikido for the first time in about five months. Knee held up okay, and I didn't forget everything...