Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Catching the show on TV

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

I saw the show this evening. It comes on channel 28 at 7:30PM. I just happened across it and the Halo Night segment was playing. This was from the 'Junk' episode (episode 8). You can check out the episode guide on our site by clicking here. You won't find the guide for this particular episode since it is the 'junk' episode. That is to say it is all the sketches that weren't worthy enough to include in the regular line up. The Halo 2 Release Night at EB was a video that my (then) roommate Tuyen (pronounced twin) shot with my video camera the night he worked and Halo 2 was released. At that point I think I had left EB and was working Target in Burleson.

Anyway after the Halo bit was the lake sketch. This is a painfully long sketch where I ask (rhetorically) what he thinks of the beautiful, peaceful lake. He then spends somewhere around three minutes of screen time contemplating and writing then giving a speech that isn't funny at all. I can easily see why this sketch wasn't in the original six. After that is the ever popular Bloopers Part Deux. I cut out after that since the video started hanging up on the According To Whim.com commercials that I placed in the episode. This brings me to my first point... we need to replace the DVDs that we are rotating at the public access office. The video was catching and skipping badly so I think I will provide Chris with replacements.

My next point is to once again discuss putting more out there. These eight thirty minute episodes have been running (literally) for years. The According To Whim brand needs some fresh material and quickly.

I am (let me check real quick)... six hours and eighteen minutes from having the new raid array finish building and then I can begin copying over footage. Once the footage is copied then I can catalogue the raw footage and go back to the tape masters and begin re encoding footage that was deleted in the great crash of 2010. Once that is done I can continue the editing process and get some videos done and on TV (and the web).

Once final note about viewing the show on TV. It has been a long time since I actually got to sit down and watch the show as a broadcast but I noticed that the audio was lacking. It seemed that (and it could have been the small TV I was watching it on) the audio was either right or left (not in stereo). I will have to double check that on the big TV to make sure. If it is still soft I might make the stereo mix a mono mix in future edits to ensure equal sound on both channels. The other final note was that the video looks great on a tube TV. I can't say anything about the HD TV but the small old TV I have in my PC room makes the images (of the old camcorder we shot the original six with) look pretty darn good.

Monday, August 30, 2010

New places to shoot the show

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Now that I have fully moved I have had some time to look around and formulate new sketch ideas (based on my new location).
The first thing that jumped out at me was the garage. It is a free standing two car garage in the back of the back yard. It will take some cleaning but it looks to be the perfect place for a faux Wayne's World basement-type set. I'm not too sure how 'rain worthy' the garage is and I am going to need it to store my extra stuff but it looks like it might be a good place for this and other sets for the show. My thought is to do a moving shot through the house with a voice overlay and move into the spare restroom to a door that gives access to the hot water heater. The shot would fade to suggest we are going through that door and down into a basement (the garage set). I think it would be a fun setup.
The next location that looks useful is the main restroom. It look(ed) like something out of a Saw movie. When we first moved in there was a 'day' florescent light in there which gave everything a blue tint. The house is 80 years old so it looks a little creepy in the first place. The floor of the rest room is black and white checker and the toilet and claw foot tub looks dilapidated. Add some fake blood to the floor (chocolate syrup, you could never tell in that blue tint) and there you go!
The house also has three (count them!) 3 front doors. That will make for many delivery joke sketches alone! The house also has huge creepy ceilings, creaking doors, and wood floors so I should be able to get some scary-type sketches out of that.
All in all there are some great uses at the new house and I hope I can get more shot and up on TV. Speaking of TV we got cable installed this weekend and I am now able to see the Fort Worth public access channel. Once again it appears that 99% of the programming is crappy quality church shows. This just inspires me more to create content for channel 28. This would require a slight change in format from sketch based to a more 'eclectic' type of segment show. More of what Chris despises. I down with that if it means we get more air time. We will see what will come of it all.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Operation CTFU: Join the Draft (Part Six): Zonk Rulez!

Operation CTFU: Join the Draft (Part Six)

Edited by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

Posted on 9-2-10 as make up for 8-29-10)

I Can't Believe It's Not Zonk

by Chris McGinty (totally stealing athan's thunder)

[Hi, I’m Chris, and I’m taking you on a trip through all of our incomplete material. Here’s an explanation of why. I’m actually now going to deal with a draft that only had a title. It was Nathan’s draft, and it was called, “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Zonk.” Or something like that. Cos it actually is Zonk, so maybe the article was called something else. Nathan wrote an article explaining the rules of the dice game ICBINY, and he wanted to follow up with the rules of Zonk, a extremely similar dice game. I wasn’t very helpful. I always meant to ask my former roommates the rules. I finally spoke to them at a time that I remembered to ask. So here they are. The Rules.]

Start with five dice. Decide who goes first.

The first step requires you to obtain 1,000 points in a turn to get on the board.

To gain points you roll the five dice. You may set aside any ones or fives you roll at 50 points for a five and 100 points for a one.

In addition, if you roll three of a kind of any number, you may set aside that three of a kind at the following rates: Three 2’s = 200 points. Three 3’s = 300 points. Three 4’s = 400 points. Three 5’s = 500 points. Three 6’s = 600 points. Three 1’s = 1,000 points. If you roll four or five of a kind, each additional counts as 100 more points, and you set those dice aside too. Example: Four 4’s = 500 (400+100), Five 3’s = 500 (300+100+100).

When you have set aside all the dice for points, you simply note the point total, pick up all five dice, and keep rolling.

There are two point totals that you can only get when you are rolling all five dice.

Full House (three of a kind and a pair) = 500 points

Straight (either 1-5 or 2-6) = 1,000

All points are temporary until you stop rolling. Just because you may score points, you do not have to set them aside. For instance, if you roll a 1, a 5, and those are your only possible points, you must set aside at least one of them, but do not have to set aside both.

You stop rolling on two occasions. The first is if you have no points to set aside, in which case you lose all the temporary points. The second is if you choose to stop, in which case the temporary points are added to you permanent point total.

The first player to reach 10,000 or more passes the dice. Each other player then gets one chance to get a higher score. Whoever has the highest total, at the end of this round, wins.

One other rule. If you roll two dice and don’t roll a one or a five, in most cases you go out and pass the turn to the next player, but if you roll a pair, you may re-roll. This only counts if you are rolling two dice.

One house rule, that may have been a real rule, is that you have to have at least 300 temporary points to stop.

Here are some example turns:

Nathan: Rolls five dice (1,2,4,6,6). He sets aside the 1, says, “100” and rolls again. He rolls four dice (1,3,4,5). He sets aside the 1 and the 5, says, “250” and rolls again. He rolls two dice (4,4). Normally he would go out since he has no points to set aside, but since he rolled a pair, he smiles smugly, and rolls again. He rolls two dice (3,4). He sighs, loses his temporary point total, and passes the dice to Chris.

Chris: Rolls five dice (4,4,4,5,5). He starts to think that he will just hold aside one 5 for purposes of rolling more dice, but then he realizes he has a full house. What luck! He says, “500.” He collects all five dice, and rolls. (4,4,4,4,6) He sets aside the four fours, gaining 400 for the three of a kind and 100 for the extra, and he says, “1,000. That puts me on the board. I’ll stop.” His temporary total of 1,000 becomes permanent, and he notes it under his name, and passes the dice to Miguel.

Miguel: Says, “I’m watching ‘The Phantom Menace.’ This is the good part.”

Chris: Says, “The only good part,” passes the dice to Nathan, and crosses Miguel’s name off the score card.

Nathan: Rolls five dice (6,6,6,6,6). “Yahtzee!” he jokes. He sets aside the five sixes at 600 points for the three of a kind and 100 points for each extra. “800,” he says. He wants to stop, just cos he has a feeling, but he can’t because he hasn’t scored 1,000 to get on the board yet. He collects all five dice and rolls (2,2,3,4,6) “Good lord,” he says. He loses his temporary total, and passes the dice to Chris.

Chris: Rolls five dice. (2,3,4,5,6). He starts to set aside the 5, and then realizes that once again he has struck it big with a straight. He sets aside the five dice. “1,000,” he says, and collects all five dice to roll again. He rolls five dice (1,2,3,4,5). He hears Nathan say something that is inappropriate for a family friendly blog (not that this one is). He sets aside the five dice and says, “2,000.” He collects the five dice, and rolls them. (2,2,2,4,6). He thinks about the fact that some players don’t keep three 2s if they don’t have to, because it’s only worth 200 points and they get less dice to roll, but since he has no other points to set aside, and must set aside points, he sets aside the three 2s, and says, “2,200. I’ll stop.” His temporary points become permanent points, and he notes them on the score pad. He now has 3,200. He passes the dice to Nathan.

Nathan: Rolls five dice (1,5,5,6,6). He sets aside the 1, and says, “100.” He hopes that by not setting aside the two 5s that he will improve his chances of rolling a three or four of a kind He rolls four dice (2,2,4,4). “Good lord!” he says, considering that the pod race is pretty cool, and he’s missing it for this stupid game. He passes the dice to Chris.

Chris: Rolls five dice. (3,3,3,4,5). He realizes that he may be in jeopardy of rolling no points, and since he is already on the board, he sets aside the three 3s and the 5. He says, “350. I’ll stop,” and passes the dice to Nathan.

The game goes on like this. Nathan finally gets on the board, and the next turn Chris scores enough to get over 10,000 points and win. Nathan tries to make a grand comeback, but it’s a lost cause.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Operation CTFU: Join the Draft (Part Five): Miguel Rants about Nirvana

Operation CTFU: Join the Draft (Part Five)

Edited by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

(Posted 9-2-10 as make up for 8-28-10)

[Hi, I’m Chris, and I’m taking you on a trip through all of our incomplete material. Here’s an explanation of why. As usual, I will be right here making comments within these brackets. Well, it’ll be a different set of brackets, but you get it. A long while back, Miguel and I had an eight day week discussing lyrics. It wasn’t an official theme week. It just happened. Miguel started to write a follow up. Here it is.]

Shit. Something I clearly forgot to include in my Nirvana rant: the source of the title "Smells Like Teen Spirit". I was sure that I had written a paragraph about its actual meaning. Either I was thinking of writing it and didn't write it, or I wrote it and didn't save it properly. Okay. I'll write it now.

Teen Spirit is the name of a deodorant marketed by Mennen starting in 1991. Kurt Cobain's girlfriend at the time, Tobi Vail of Bikini Kill, used this particular deodorant. Tobi Vail's bandmate Kathleen Hanna spray painted, "Kurt smells like Teen Spirit" on Cobain's bedroom wall. This little fact only convinces me further that the title itself, like the other lyrics, are snatches of random thoughts and remembered phrases cobbled together into an ostensible lyric. Chris used to get really pissed off when people would point out the connection between the title of his song "I Hate Myself and I Want to Die" and the fact Cobain killed himself (or was murdered by a contract killer hired by Courtney Love so she could keep all the Nirvana royalties. Ms. Love then went on to mastermind 9/11 ensuring that explosives were rigged in the World Trade towers to ensure their total destruction so the U.S. would go to war with the Middle East and her Gulf Oil stocks would see an uptick so she could buy more heroin.).

[As editor, I’m washing my hands of everything in the parentheses above, and probably in ways that have nothing to do with editing. I’ve talked to Nathan, and he says that he doesn’t typically read anything in the draft section, instead waiting for the finished product. I actually tend to go in and see what’s up, and I sometimes will give my cohorts a little help. I will either edit as I read, or I will make notes if necessary. Here is one such note that I made to Miguel.]

NOTE TO MIGUEL: “I Hate Myself and Want to Die” was the working title for “In Utero,” but it was shot down (ummm) so it became the title of a song instead.

[See? Ain’t I helpful? Ok, back to Miguel’s writing.]

To be fair, it's hard to see how the song is about him hating himself and wanting to die, particularly with the chorus, "In my sundae, I like hot sauce. In my sundae, I like hot sauce." [hahahahaha, I think he’s right] So while the song might not have been about him hating himself and wanting to die, per se, (or anything at all for that matter) the title is a thought that weighed heavily in his mind, and he pulled it out when it came time to give this song a name. That's my belief anyway.

Let me say this, if you the reader (Hi, Chris) [Hey, Miguel. How are you? The wife? My goddaughter? Wonderful. Continue please.] are hoping to grab a coherent, well deduced and fully analyzed argument, you'd better look elsewhere. To a certain extent, my initial posts were rants, and I don't promise that this will be any different. A lot of this stems from my 20 years as an on again, mostly, off again, wannabe musician. It's a reaction to a particular composition methodology that I was never able to get behind: songwriting. At least, songwriting where the process began with a bunch of words on paper, and an edict to somehow craft a piece of music that fits all these words, regardless of whether an interesting riff or melody came out of any of it. In my view, you are more likely to get better songs if you start with the music.

[I’ve learned from my 20 years (actually more) as a creative person that there is no right way to go about the art of creation. I swear I’ve talked about this before, but if not here goes. In 2009, I wrote three solo songs.]

[“Changes to the Script” was written at two separate times. I wrote the lyrics in 2006, while I was in JAKT, to possibly be plugged into a JAKT song needing lyrics, because they almost always started with music, and then needed lyrics. It was never used. In 2009, I was composing on my drum machine, and I created a melody that reminded me of something The Cure would do in the early years. I really liked it. After working with it for a bit, I created this odd bass/drum effect that was really kind of cool too. I needed lyrics at this point. I started with things that were written, and “Changes to the Script” felt right. It helped that I wrote the lyrics conscious of how many syllables were being used. I spent a couple of days at work, delivering pizza, working out how to sing the lyrics, and then set out to record it. To make the question of what was done first, the music or the lyrics, even a bit more muddled, I worked out the actual arrangement of the music as I recorded to fit my vocals better.]

[“Not Enough of Anything” – Did I start with the lyrics here? No. Did I start with the music here? No. What did I start with? Well, I started with some games of Magic: The Gathering on Magic Online, and some songs by my friend Kristen from The Crazy Ivans. She recorded four songs in 2009 on her own, and posted them up to My Space. I really enjoyed them. Each one was my favourite at some point, and when you can say that about any collection, it says something about the overall quality. I would often play the songs as I played Magic Online. I underestimated her song “High Tide.” (Ironically, there is a Magic card by that name.) At first, I thought it wasn’t very dynamic, but I came to the realization that it was actually very subtle and powerful. I found myself in a very bad funk around August of that year, and I turned to writing. I had a very intriguing thought one night. The four songs that Kristen recorded were done with acoustic guitar and vocals only. Some people, like Kristen, can do that well. Some people, like me, can’t. My thought was, “How do you write something like that using electronic music?” There are examples everywhere. Depeche Mode is really good at it. Jesus Jones pulled it off with “Yellow-Brown.” But I wanted to capture the isolation I was feeling, that I thought “High Tide” had done a really good job of doing. I sat down, and I wrote a number of lines expressing, in words, what I felt, and then sat down with the drum machine and my bass guitar. I didn’t use the programming functions on the drum machine. I did the three tracks separate, and played them in real time using the buttons. I then plugged my bass into an effects peddle, and played it real time too. I then took my lyrical notes, cleaned them up, and got to recording the vocals. I literally recorded them over thirty times. What I did was I sang until I did something I didn’t like, reset the track, and started again. By the time I was through the whole song, I knew what was working and what wasn’t. It was a question then of simply keeping in time with the music. I recorded and rerecorded until I got it right.]

[“Demo Quality Love Song” – I wanted to do a song that was literally the same beat the whole song with guitar, bass, and vocals. All my recordings are of demo quality, but I wanted to create something that sounded like I sat down and recorded the drum beat, then the bass, then the guitar, and then sang over it as a means to get an idea down to work on later. But I wanted to treat it like the other songs by giving it my full attention to detail. In fact, I recorded it twice. The thing is that once again this came from a concept rather than starting with the music or starting with the lyrics. My point is that with creativity, you start from all different directions, and what makes something good is often the work you put into it, and the changes you make when you realize something doesn’t work.]

[I once wrote that I’m fascinated by the work aspect of things more than Nathan is, but that Nathan has more focus; and therefore, works better. If I had to make a similar statement about Miguel and me, I would say that I’m more fascinated by the process of creativity, while Miguel is more interested in the components. This is why Miguel can look at something like lyrics and say, “Those aren’t as important as a great riff.” Meanwhile, I don’t feel that any of it is as important as how I will get from having nothing to having something. Well, enough about me, let’s get back to Miguel’s “rant,”]

Chris wrote:

“Miguel attributes the lyric to Cobain’s affiliation with a punk band, and probably therefore attributes the lyric, ‘Our little group has always been and always will until the end,’ to referencing the band as well.”

The reason I did so was because the line by itself is missing a lot of information otherwise. The line preceding it is, "I'm worst at what I do best, and for this gift I feel blessed." Since no explanation is given as to what gift (a.k.a. talent) the writer is referring to, I have to assume that the "I" in this case is not a fictional character within the song's narrative, but Cobain himself. What's his talent? As far as the world is concerned, writing and performing music. Now maybe Cobain was the star quarterback in high school, and had serious NFL prospects. I don't know. This is what I've got to work with.

So the following line, the one in question, "Our little group (or tribe) has always been and always will until the end." Linguistically, whenever you use a linking verb there should generally be something that it links to. "I've always been." Well, been what? I guess it could mean the simple act of existing. Or does it refer to the previous line about being blessed. The little group that he's a part of has been blessed with the same gift.

[I see where he was going with that, but alas he didn’t go there. This has been fun. Again, I’m more interested in the process. I said, “How do I fill in several missing days using material that existed prior to those days, and I came up with this. Yes, I’ve written a lot of new material to flesh it out, but I covered a lot of subject matter that I never would have by just writing from scratch. So neat. The final bit will be technically new material, but... well you'll see.]

Friday, August 27, 2010

Wading Back Into the 3D Modelling Waters

About a year ago or so, I downloaded an evaluation version of 3DS MAX, which is software used to generate computer graphics. I found an e-book that gave a step-by-step tutorial on how to use it, and got down to work. The first lesson was about using something called a "lathe" to make a Chess piece. It seemed to make sense, and things were definitely "so far so good."

A week later, my hopes and dreams of working for Industrial Light and Magic were dashed with the next tutorial. This one purported to learn the reader how to make a basketball. But there was a little step on the process that hung me up forever. Some junk about grab these vertices and pull them here where they will attach to these other vertices if you push this key and so forth. Except, no matter how many times I did exactly as the book said, it was nothing doing. So I did like I usually do and just gave up.

For the next year, every time I would go to the Barnes and Noble in Southlake, I would look through the latest issues of Digital Artist in envy of these people who know how to use this stuff, and can create these beautifully detailed, realistic looking works. On a side note, no way would I ever actually PURCHASE one of these magazines. While I like the content, and would love to have one to read on the pot, it's hard to justify $15 for a magazine, especially when I can get the content for free while at the store.

So as it turns out, one does not actually need to get a hold of 3DS or Maya in order to do graphics. There are a number of open source alternatives available online, and last night I downloaded one of them; a nice little product called Blender. The official Blender website had links to tutorials, and I clicked onto the one called Blender: Noob to Pro, which is hosted on another site I just learned of yesterday, Wikibooks.

I quickly learned that reading a tutorial is incredibly dull. This may have been the problem last year. Of course, then I didn't think to look for any video tutorials on YouTube. Over the last year, I figured that it was a really good source for learning how to use the Multi-Camera feature in Adobe Premiere CS4, as well as a bunch of other stuff. The fact that there are so many instructional/tutorial videos online by people who don't generally appear to be educators by trade, I think, says something very positive about human beings that tends not to get recognized by a lot of cynics. Just as there are people who want to know something, there appear to be enough people out there who have a great desire to help. These people don't seem to get anything out of the experience, other than maybe the satisfaction that someone out there will find it useful.

The video tutorial is the next best thing to having the person in the room with you. There is something very sluggish about words on a page. You don't really know if this paragraph is going to be really important, but you're bored and you want to get onto something substantial. There's a world of difference between a bunch of words that explain in great detail what pushing some button is going to do, and a video where the guy says, "Push this button," and then you see the result.

I liked this particular video by a guy who looks a little like Nathan's favorite socialist, foreign-born, Islamic President. He also has a video where it looks (and sounds like he's jacking off) where the business portion is happening just offscreen and...well I won't ruin the geeky surprise.

The fact that I was able to get this far, after maybe an hour, was very encouraging.

But I'll probably give up in another week or so, and pick it back up next Memorial Day.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

We’re Doing It to Ourselves, People

by Chris McGinty (According to Whim .com)

Forbes.com released a list of the top five grossing movies for this year, and wouldn’t you know it, they’re all sequels except #5.

1. Toy Story 3 - $895 Million
2. Shrek Forever – $663 million
3. Twilight – Eclipse – $650 million
4. Iron Man 2 – $622 million
5. Inception - $478 million

Now I don’t know what to say about this, because admittedly I want to see Toy Story 3 and Shrek Forever, though I’m not as enthusiastic about Shrek. Twilight almost doesn’t count because it’s part of a series of books, and it doesn’t seem as horrible to read a series of books. I’m not sure why that is. But Iron Man 2. Yeah, sequel, superhero, superhero sequel. Yeah. I saw the first one, and I tell you the second one isn’t… hmm, I didn’t see the first one actually. Yeah. Retroactively staying the course.

What I know is that I hear a lot of talk about Hollywood being nothing but sequels and superhero movies and TV show remakes and nothing original, but for some reason we just keep shelling out the money for it. It’s almost like we do the opposite of what we think is right for us. Nah, that would be silly.

I don’t know what to do though. I could conceivably stop watching everything that is a sequel, superhero movie, TV show remake, A Christmas Carol, and anything starring Hugh Grant, even if it meant missing Toy Story 3, but I don’t think it would change much.

I remember seeing two movies in the Fort Worth/Dallas area where the movies weren’t being shown in very many cities, so it was almost a privilege to see them. One was Robotech: The Movie and the other was Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie. Right. Both of which were TV show remakes.

Maybe there isn’t really a problem here. Maybe we just think we’re tired of it. Maybe the remakes and reimaginings are good for us somehow. Maybe there was no reason to include Hugh Grant on my list up there since he doesn’t really do any of those types of movies. We’re just a strange culture is all. Hard to entertain, even with entertainment. And at least they never made Titanic 2. But I’m sure they regret that they couldn’t.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What happened

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

I don't know. After weeks on weeks of coming up with stuff to write you start running out of ideas. That's what has happened here.
We will try to make up for it and back post to fill in the missing days as thing become available. Thanks for sticking with us.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Operation: CTFU (C stands for “catch”)

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

8-24-10 – 11:40 pm

I haven’t posted much to the Daily Blog lately. I know Nathan has noticed. I doubt anyone else has noticed though, and by the time I go back and insert posts, no one will be the wiser… as long as they don’t read this.

My lack of posting hasn’t been so much for lack of writing. I’ve got some posts actually ready to go, but I’ve just needed to take the simple step of doing a quick edit and posting it. Seems so simple, but lately it really hasn’t been. Since August 19, 2010, I haven’t even had a chance to sign in to Facebook, except for a few minutes here and there. I’ve looked at the Quick Feed, and that’s about it.

My schedule got all turned upside down recently, and I haven’t seemed to be getting much sleep. It started when my 9 pm to 4 am shift ended before the start of the weekend. I was put on a day shift from 11 am to 7 pm. I’m horrible with getting to bed when the sun is not up, and then waking before noon. I wasn’t able to use my laptop at the post, so I was doing writing to my email that I haven’t pulled out and fixed up yet. To make matters worse, I came to the realization that I have been starved in the “going out and seeing bands play" department. 9 pm to 4 am is literally club hours in many cases, and I was working weekends. So I went to some shows that weekend, and then had to work Monday through Wednesday, 10 pm to 6 am. You want to talk about a useless Chris last week. And no sooner did I sort of get caught up on my sleep than I had to do the day shift again. And go to another show.

Let’s face it. I haven’t been really paying attention to priority lately, and I think Nathan has somewhat run out of topics to write about. So I’m thinking I should step up a little here, and get some posts going, but first I really need to post up the stuff I’ve written.

I decided I would write up until midnight, and we’re there now, so I will get to editing my written posts, and then get to writing some new material for the week. Three is the new zero again.
NOTE: I'm finally getting around to posting this at almost 6 pm the next day, cos I went straight to sleep when I got home from work. Nathan wrote a post that basically is a paragraph saying, "Eh, we've kind of sucked lately," and we have.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Operation CTFU: Join the Draft (Part Four): Various Notes by Miguel

Operation CTFU: Join the Draft (Part Four)

Edited by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

(Posted 9-2-10 as make up for 8-23-10)

[Hi, I’m Chris, and I’m taking you on a trip through all of our incomplete material. Here’s an explanation of why. Today, I will deal with drafts that are really just notes made by Miguel. If he feels the need to expand on any of these, he can start a new draft. My commentary will be in brackets.]

Kuleshov Effect

By Miguel Cruz

This morning, Nathan pointed out a YouTube video of the last dialogue scene in “Return of the Jedi” between Han and Leia. (Until I wrote that, I never realized that the last couple of minutes of that movie has no talking in it). The clip titled "Incestual Undertones in Star Wars" plays out as it does in the original. But after Leia's revelation to Han that Luke is her brother, the editor tracks in Quincy Jones' mildly cacophonous “Ironside” theme. Han's face registers puzzlement, and there is a cutaway to the scene in “The Empire Strikes Back” where Leia plants a very passionate kiss on the guy she is now saying is her brother.

[Um. Yeah, I’m not sure where Miguel was going with this. I should look up the Kuleshov Effect, and see if I can guess where he was going with this. But first, I really need to pee.]




[I’m back. I looked it up. This is actually something Miguel taught me about acting in the time of “Sniffles (sniff)”. I guess some guy with the last name Kuleshov (boy, was that a happy coincidence) made a film in which this guy has an expression on his face. He then inner cut it with happy things, sad things, and indifferent things. The audience read a different expression on the guy's face for each circumstance, even though it was the same footage. His expression never actually changed. What Miguel told me was that it was sometimes best to have a blank, stoic expression on your face, and to let the audience decide for themselves what it means. Clearly this doesn’t always work, but it’s very useful in some cases.]

[If I have any advice to give on acting, and I’m not a very good actor, it’s that the bits that have always worked out best for me are when I’m deep enough into what I’m doing that my reaction is genuine. It hardly seems like acting at that point because you’re really coming from whatever emotional center you’re feeling. We don’t rehearse for the show. We probably should, but we don’t. If we were ever to do a feature length movie, especially if we were using film or otherwise had a lot of expenses going into the production, I would insist on rehearsals. When you don’t have to think about the lines, you are free to concentrate on feeling a certain way while you speak them. Probably the worst thing you can do when you’re acting is actually try to act. It’ll always come across better if you are feeling what you’re supposed to be feeling, and say your lines in the midst of that emotion.]

Joint Blog: Facial Hair

By Chris McGinty and Miguel Cruz

[This was supposed to be a joint blog. I’ll let what is written here explain it, and then I’ll comment. This will be obvious, but what you are about to read was written by me.]

I just called Miguel about putting "by Miguel Cruz" on his recent post. We discussed the fact that I'm employed as a security guard again and the circumstances of me quitting last time, which was that the company wanted to move toward a more professional look. This meant no facial hair. Miguel pointed out that Rock 'n' Roll was the best GI Joe. He pointed out Garard Bulter in “300.” He said that kicking ass and facial hair had a very old, very positive, past. He pointed out that Genghis Khan had a goatee. I told him that Genghis Khan was evil, and would probably let his friends come on site to steal construction materials.

Since we were discussing the blog, Miguel was like, “I should post this up,” and then said, “but you probably know the story better.”

I pointed out that we could do a joint blog. I realized we could recreate this conversation here by using the draft feature, and copy/pasting each other's drafts and adding on. In this way, even Nathan could jump in on the conversation, and with a little editing we could create the proper segues and cues.

I guess it's just a way we can write blogs together. So I told Miguel I would save a draft with the idea, and he can write his ideas, and we each can edit the conversation to make it flow right.

It should probably look like the other joint blogs:

CHRIS: I have facial hair.
MIGUEL: Your mom is Genghis Khan
NATHAN: I was never part of the original conversation.
MIGUEL: I remember GI Joe.
CHRIS: Matt Damon!

[The Matt Damon thing is funny given Nathan’s recent obsession with “Team America.” It’s too bad I didn’t have Nathan say that. What is sort of interesting about this draft is that it’s almost a self contained piece dealing with how to write a joint blog post. It takes on a different personality presented like this than it would have if we had actually written the piece, and deleted all the notes we made to each other. Or in this case that I made to Miguel. Below, I will include the bit that Miguel worked on. He got as far as Abraham Lincoln. I’ll put this under his name so in case he wants to finish his list of kick ass people with facial hair.]

[The following is something that I really don’t know where Miguel was going with it, and I’m guessing neither did he.]

Yesterday I got my second YouTube revenue sharing eligibility notice. I found it rather amusing since it's for a video that would never pass muster. The primary reason is that it's

[See what I mean? Miguel had a good idea in this next bit. There are a ton of songs that are written about being on the road and away from loved ones, or are just generally about fame being a bitch. Here is what he wrote.]

Being Famous Sucks

By Miguel Cruz

Top "it sucks being famous" Songs of All Time

- Nirvana "Serve the Servants"
- Billy Squier - "Everybody Wants You"
- Bon Jovi - "Wanted Dead or Alive"
- Joe Walsh - "Life's Been Good to Me So Far"

[I wrote Miguel, and pointed out “Fame” by David Bowie. He asked me to, “Keep them coming.” I thought of: “Turn the Page” by Bob Seger; “Celebrity Skin” by Hole; and “The Dope Show” by Marilyn Manson. Recently I realized that “Is This Love” by Whitesnake briefly touches on it, but it’s more along the line of, “it sucks being away,” and that’s probably a different thing entirely. I’m not sure how “Professional Widow” by Tori Amos and “Starfuckers Inc.” by Nine Inch Nails fit into the mix here. They seem to be more pointed attacks. “Professional Widow” is allegedly about Courtney Love, as is, allegedly, “Stacked Actors” by the Foo Fighters. The only reason I bring this up is because “Starfuckers Inc,” the name of which references “Professional Widow,” seems to be against the music industry, and the sell outs in it. “Not For You” by Pearl Jam also seems to go along the same lines. “We are the Champions” says that fame has been, “no bed of roses, no pleasure cruise,” but he is mostly positive about it, following up, “I consider it a challenge before the whole human race, and I ain’t gonna lose.” So maybe. I know there were some others that I wrote down, but I don’t remember them now.]

[Here's that little bit of facial hair thing Miguel did.]

Chris returned this last week to his security job. He had been ousted because the man in charge thought his facial hair undermined his stature as a defender of freedom, liberty, justice and a J.C. Penney's warehouse in Haltom City. Now that man is gone, thanks to the efforts of students of history who know that beard=badass. With that we take a look at the greatest bearded asskickers throughout the ages.

Abraham Lincoln

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Operation CTFU: Join the Draft (Part Three): Rebuttal to a Rebuttal

Operation CTFU: Join the Draft (Part Three)

Edited by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)
(Posted 9-2-10 as make up for 8-22-10)

[Hi, I’m Chris, and I’m taking you on a trip through all of our incomplete material. Here’s an explanation of why. We’re going to move on to One of Miguel’s incomplete jags. My commentary will be in brackets.]

Rebuttal to a Rebuttal

By Miguel Cruz

[Hmm. I bet you might want to know what he’s rebutting. For that we have to go al the way back to March 25, 2010, when my oldest son turned 18, and April 10, 2010, when probably nothing that important happened. My apologies if something important did happen, and I just don’t realize it. But this does tell you about how long this draft has been sitting there.]

Chris wrote

"The problem with opinions is that people will argue that they are subjective; and therefore, they can’t be wrong or right. When an opinion interferes with fact it easily becomes wrong. I could say, 'In my opinion murder is not illegal.' That is wrong unless we change the definition of either 'murder' 'illegal' or 'not.' If you believe your opinion can’t be right or wrong then try it, and see what happens."

[Yeah, I’m brilliant. Let’s see what Miguel had to say about this.]

There's almost a whole 'nother subject of debate here: the difference between fact and opinion. An opinion is the way you personally feel about something -- approval, disapproval, or no reaction whatsoever. There could be several reasons why you feel that way. There could be some biological component that determines your feeling about something. (The fact that humans generally don't crave grass or wood just might be related to the fact that they can't digest either.) There could be a cultural component. (We here in the West weren't raised listening to Indian music, so it might be why you don't find too many teenagers blasting Anu Malik's scores from their Rockford Fosgates.) And there could be some basic experiential component that determines your feeling. (Dick Hunter, a DFW radio talk host, says he has a hard time watching “The Empire Strikes Back” because he saw it the day his parents announced they were getting a divorce.)

[A couple of thoughts real quick, and then we’ll continue on with Miguel’s thoughts. I’ve heard it said that facts are provable or disprovable, where opinions are not either. In my example above, it is only an opinion because proving whether the person believes it is impossible, but murder being illegal is a fact, and that was my point. This radio host guy needs to kind of move on. There becomes a point in life where you, by stating something determinately, continue to believe something that might not be the case otherwise. There was music that I had a tough time listening to at various stages of my second divorce, but I kept listening anyway. Now it’s not tough to listen to. I told myself for a long time that I would probably never feel ok again, but one day I woke up and realized I wasn’t hurting as much. I told myself that I was basically over it, so I might as well just say I was, and after that the healing accelerated. This guy just needs to watch the movie a few times when life is good, and he’ll eventually have more good memories around it than bad. We may not be able to control outside influence, but we have more power than we sometimes realize over our attitude toward outside influence. I’m not sure Miguel would agree though.]

Regardless of what causes the feeling, you simply feel that way. No amount of arguing, or insisting that a joke where the doctor tells his patient he has 100 years to live is funny when no one seems to laugh, is going to change that. You might keep your opinions to yourself, or even pretend that you share the prevailing popular opinion, but inside you feel a certain way. And that's that.

[And that’s that. I want everybody to read that phrase, and then ask yourself the definition of closed minded. No reason.]

A fact refers to a state of being, causation, what happened, when it happened, etc. A fact simply is, regardless of whether anyone actually knows about it or not. “We are alone in the universe,” or, “We are not alone in the universe,” are facts. One of those is true; that we don't know which is true doesn't change the essential truth of it.

Chris’s hypothetical person says, "In my opinion murder is not illegal." This points to a way people generally use the word opinion to mean belief or speculation. For instance, you might hear someone say, "In my opinion, Tiger Woods slept with easily three times as many women as have come forward." Whether Tiger Woods slept with way more women than we know about is a possible fact. It could be true, or it might not be true. The commentator's gut feeling that leads to his belief has no effect on which one is true.

[All you have to do is say, “I wouldn’t be surprised if...” and suddenly you aren’t setting yourself up to be outright wrong if what you said was factually inaccurate.]

An opinion can be a fact to the extent that it can be proven that a person feels a particular way. For example, if I asserted that Rush Limbaugh really loved Bill Clinton, Limbaugh's opinion becomes a demonstrable fact. Nathan could then toss 20 years worth of writings and radio show transcripts at me that show definitively otherwise. I could then counter with Limbaugh's personal correspondences expressing remorse over his chosen persona. "Mom, I'm at odds with what I'm expected to talk about on a daily basis. I really love the Clintons. I think the policies they want to implement are sound, but my audience doesn't want to hear that. I'd love to come clean, but then I wouldn't be able to pay for this mansion and all this Oxycontin."

In that same vein, whether something is legal or illegal is also a fact. It is a fact that someone felt a particular way about a particular issue. It is a fact that they were able to persuade the legislators to draft a law regarding that particular issue. It is a fact that the code of your particular jurisdiction has writing that says you can't do X, Y, and Z. It is a fact that the government is stressing enforcement of said law.

Chris’s hypothetical person's opinion is not subjective. If he had said, "In my opinion, murder is not wrong," well, that's the way he feels. He doesn't have an adverse emotional reaction to the idea of one person taking another person's life. Maybe he even likes it. But since he says, "In my opinion, murder is not illegal," it's a whole other issue. His "opinion" isn't an opinion in the personal feeling sense. It's an opinion in the personal belief sense of what is true or false. In this case, this person is incorrect. Regardless of his personal feelings on the subject, the prohibition of murder is a well worn legal principle.

[When I first read through this, I was like, “Wasn’t that my point?”]

Chris wrote

"Take the recent issues with NBC and Conan O’Brien. Conan O’Brien was in a contract with NBC. Marriage is a contract between two spouses. Conan O’Brien was not NBC’s property. A spouse is not the other spouse’s property. NBC had exclusive rights to some of Conan O’Brien’s services, as was agreed. A spouse has rights (sometimes exclusive) to some of their spouse’s services (love, honor, obey, cherish, have and to hold, fidelity) as was agreed. If Conan O’Brien, not being property, breaks this agreement it’s actionable. If the other spouse, not being property, breaks the agreement it’s actionable in the form of divorce. If another network coerced Conan O’Brien into breaking contract then NBC can go after the offending party, and likely win. As was shown in the $9 million suit, it is so in marriage sometimes too."

[Again, I am brilliant. Let’s see if Miguel states my opinion again.]

A marriage is not a contract in the sense that it is legally enforceable as such, generally speaking. The key difference between a marriage and a services agreement such that O'Brien and NBC had is one of time limitation. When Conan the Barbarian signed his deal with NBC, there very likely wasn't a 'Til-Death-Do-You-Part clause in there. A contract where someone is obligated to do something forever is just not going to be enforceable, as it is unreasonable. This is why most service contracts have a time limit written into them, and when the parties have forgotten to put one in, the courts will imply that there is one.

[“‘Til death do you part,” is the religious ceremony. I’m sure Miguel realizes that, so I won’t dwell on it too long. What I will dwell on is the part where he says something about being obligated to do something forever. The courts do imply that there is one, which is why you can divorce. If you feel like fucking somebody else you have at least two options: negotiate the fidelity agreement with your spouse or divorce. The point about “cheating” is that you break the agreement against the rules. That’s what cheating is, breaking the rules. I would be more on board with what Miguel is trying to say, except that the courts recognize oral contracts and implied meanings. Speaking of oral contracts…]

The second issue is that a contract is not enforceable where the underlying terms are either illegal or against public policy. Back in 1996, I paid Chris $5 for a blowjob. Had he reneged on our agreement, I couldn't have sued him. If we are premising the idea that a marriage is a contract on the basis of a sexual exclusivity agreement, we run into this question of whether such an agreement is compatible with our other laws as well as the dictates of sound reasoning. In order to enforce a sexual exclusivity agreement, a court would have to recognize that there is some dollar amount that can be attached to such a thing.

[Prenuptial agreements. 50/50 split of assets and liabilities. Alimony. Child support. Please explain the part about attaching a dollar amount to me. And while were at it, there seems to be an awful lot of law floating around something that you are telling me isn’t legal in nature.]

Can a court compel someone to love, honor, and cherish someone? Not really any more than a court could compel anyone to find the higher the F├╝hrer joke laugh out loud funny. Why can't Obama simply issue an executive order requiring Glenn Beck and Nathan Stout to like him? I'm not talking about a law ordering them to only say nice things about him, but to actually have positive emotions about him.

[The problem as I see it, aside from Miguel not finishing this post, is that Miguel is socially liberal, as I am as well, and social liberals don’t like the idea of legislating morality. But marriage is heavily legislated. I explained in my post that adultery was once actionable. The issue is where do we legislate morality (don’t murder) and where don’t we legislate morality (you’re an atheist? how’s that working for you?). For my own purposes, I have found that it’s best to go with things that maliciously cause others harm for legislation, in most cases, followed by unintentional harm where negligence can be proved. Yes, there are exceptions, so don’t start listing them, idiot. That’s why a person’s moral belief system shouldn’t be legislated, but actions they take in the name of those beliefs that harm others might need a looking at. This issue, the “theft” of someone’s spouse, is a tough one, because it’s hard to prove Malicious Intent (that was the name of a "Sniffles (sniff)" episode). The reason there are states that still have laws regarding it is probably because it is a way you can maliciously hurt somebody that is largely not actionable. If somebody runs over your dog because they want to hurt you, you can have them arrested or sue them. If somebody convinces your spouse to leave you, you can… well, what can you do? Run over their dog? Nope. Illegal. Threaten to kill them? Nope. Illegal. Oh! Kill them… no, not that either. Break their legs? No. Tell everybody how bad of a person they are for taking your spouse? Nope. Most people wouldn’t care. This all has to do with the idea ownership over a human being. Social liberals don’t like that either. But no matter how socially liberal you are, if I convince your children that living with me as their guardian would be more fun, then I’d better have a court backing me up, and very likely lots of proof that their parents are crack whores.]

[What this all comes down to is precedence, which is often used in courts in making decisions. What has been ruled before? The “theft” of spouse isn’t clear, because it’s actionable in some states, but not in other. There is precedence both ways. So you have to start looking at similar rulings in areas that aren’t the same thing, but have similarities. If you can obligate someone to exclusivity in business, then maybe you can in marriage if the agreement is spoken. If you can have an implied ownership over your flesh and blood children, then maybe you can have an implied ownership over your spouse, not in any demeaning, degrading way, but in the way that is implied in the marriage agreement. You are my spouse, Miguel. You are not Nathan’s spouse, Miguel. I am your spouse, Miguel. I am not Nathan’s spouse, Miguel. There is an implication that we “belong” to each other under our marriage agreement, and neither of us belongs to Nathan, though we can both claim Nathan as our friend. It doesn’t make our love a dirty, compromised thing because we belong to each other, Miguel. Just saying.]

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Review: The Last Exorcism

by Lance

I've been invited to join the According to Whim dialog, so I'm taking the opportunity to hijack the site and discuss something very near and dear to me: horror. Can't get enough of it. Books, movies, comics - any medium and any format. Living in Austin helps this aspect of my personality. This town is loaded with film geeks, genre geeks in particular. So we're always getting early screenings of the most interesting movies. And we have the Alamo Drafthouse, which I would put up against Disney World as the happiest place on earth any day of the week.

Anyway, last night was the perfect storm of horror nerdery when I attended a sneak peek of The Last Exorcism. When I first started seeing previews for this movie I was a little skeptical. First, because demon possession movies are universally at the disadvantage of following The Exorcist, which I consider one of the most perfect horror movies ever made. Second, the trailers made it seem like a total rip off of The Exorcism of Emily Rose, which I found soundly disappointing and completely unnecessary.

So when I found out Ain't it Cool News was showing TLE more than a week in advance to probably the most demanding film audience in the world, and that the producer and director would be in attendance, I figured that at least the filmmakers felt they had a winner.

This docu-style treatment is not a found footage movie like Cloverfield or The Blair Witch Project. Instead, this footage has been edited and scored, so you find yourself wondering who, in the film's universe, did it? Here's the plot: a charismatic Louisiana preacher has invited a film crew to follow him along on an exorcism, something he's done countless times before. Cotton, the preacher, has carved out a living by playing on the ultra-superstitious nature of his small-town congregation. He's not a religious man himself, just simply carrying on the family business. After a crisis of faith, he's decided to expose himself as a fraud by showing how his sham exorcisms work, including his use of props to trick people into thinking something supernatural is happening.

The first 20 minutes is fascinating as we follow Cotton in his day-to-day life, meet his family, and listen to him describe the family business. This first act is critical to buying into the rest of the movie because he's so genuine. Striking a balance between this documentary style delivery and building believable characters is so difficult, but these guys do it seamlessly.

Cotton and his crew head to some backcountry farm where a farmer's livestock is being slaughtered. He thinks the devil has possessed his daughter, and in desperation contacts Cotton.

Cotton goes through the motions like he's done time and time again, and as you can guess, things derail when he realizes something beyond religious zealotry is at work with the farmer and his family. I won't give anything else away other than tell I never knew where this film was headed. And when it got to its glorious and completely satisfying ending, my brain immediately began replaying the entire thing in my mind to see if I could figure out how we'd gotten to such an unexpected conclusion. There is some of the infuriating "was she or wasn't she" questioning, but since these characters are infinitely more interesting than in The Exorcism of Emily Rose, it works.

I judge horror, particularly horror couched in reality, based on whether or not it rings true. For example, The Exorcist - the book in particular - seems like that's how it would happen in real life. The skepticism, followed by horror, followed by despair, seem perfectly logical in the confines of the narrative. In the same way, the greatest haunted house movie ever made, Poltergeist, is totally believable because of the way the family responds to the strange happenings early on. Their amusement when Carol Ann is propelled across the kitchen floor in the early part of the film makes it that much more terrifying when trees and clowns start attacking later on.

Fear is also the hardest emotion to evoke, which is why lots of horror movies fall flat. That's because of all human emotions, fear is the one we have the least use for. We just aren't scared of things, so those feelings are not as close to the surface as humor or sadness. So when a movie can do that, it usually makes about a zillion dollars.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Operation CTFU: Join the Draft (Part Two): The End of Times

Operation CTFU: Join the Draft (Part Two)

Edited by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

(Posted 9-2-10 as a make up post for 8-20-10)

[Hi, I’m Chris, and I’m taking you on a trip through all of our incomplete material. Here’s an explanation of why. I’ll start with that bastard Nathan who couldn’t be bothered to finish this post that he started. My commentary will be in brackets.]

The End of Times: A Joint Blog

by Nathan Stout & Chris McGinty

[Um, oops. It appears that bastard Nathan was done with his part of this. I was supposed to write my portion. Damn it! Let’s see what Nathan had to say.]

There is this short story idea I started writing out last week in which all electricity stops working worldwide. It's a disaster that literally sets the world back hundreds of years. Is it a herald of the end of the world? Maybe... I'm not sure how I want to finish the story.

[When Nathan told me about this, I pointed out that he would have to make an exception to biological electricity, since our brain waves are electrical signals. I told him that I had a similar thought that I could never frame into a story. I’ve thought about the fact that what we call technology would be considered magic to people in times prior to steam engines. So what if it was just that? What if we didn’t really know how things work, but instead were creating spells in mass quantities when we made TVs, computers, cars, and everything else? What if the energy that “fueled” magical power started depleting? Because sometimes when something stops working, and there is no rational reason why, I wonder if the magical aura that kept it going just failed. Why is it that a million cars can be made the exact same way, but there are a few (we call them lemons) that no matter how much you fix them, they just won’t work right? What if they’re magical aura just wasn’t as strong, and that’s the only explanation? Perhaps Nathan and I should write this story together. Oh yeah. We tried writing this blog post together, and you see where that got us. Back to Nathan.]

What's all that got to do with this blog post? Well today we are going to relay several 'mini disasters' that have plagued Chris and me in the last week or so. So many disasters in so short a time can only mean the END OF ALL THINGS??? Maybe, maybe not.

[There’s some app called Courage Wolf that I’ve seen on one of my friends’ Facebook pages. One of the nuggets of wisdom said, “Setbacks mean that God is afraid of your progress.” Talk about Id and Ego stuff all rolled into one.]

Nathan will tell you his sad tale first: *******

[Yes, Nathan will.]

My first disaster started a couple of months ago. I sold my house. OK, not so much of a disaster, but it is the reason for the disaster. Selling (or buying) a house is a stressful deal. It's mainly stressful for those who have to get loans. If you can just buy a house outright with cash it's no big deal. But with a loan you wait... and wait, and wait. So we find a buyer and wait… and wait, and wait. Then one week before closing (when the house is no longer yours) we get a call telling us the lender didn't realize the house was a mobile home. They don't lend on those, so the buyer would have to find another lender. Honestly............. Three weeks in and you don't know what you are loaning money for? I think the paperwork sits on some lackey’s desk and it gets done in one week, no need for a month! Anyway, they find another lender, and we are told we will close in a month and a week! So it was 2 months later, and we finally hear the buyer is backing out. 2 months of gut wrenching planning and waiting... poof NOTHING. Disaster 1 - Nathan 0

[This could be classified as an ongoing disaster. They just had another deal fall through.]

Next is a bigger, and more aptly named, disaster. I won't go into the long details, but you can read about it here. My hard drive fell over and died, taking all my creative work with it. No biggie. There are companies that deal with this sort of thing. I can get it recovered, right...... WRONG! You can read about that disaster upon a disaster here. Disaster 3 - Nathan 0

I am at work. I am frantically finding all the files that I might still have floating here and there that I lost off the main hard drive crash. There are quite a few spread about, so there is a little glimmer of hope. Well, the day I was trying to get my trashed hard drive to do anything, I hot swapped it with another SATA hard drive in my PC. It didn't work (no surprise) and I plugged the original one back into the PC. A few days later, I went to the hard drive that I swapped out, and the data is gone. I reboot my PC. It says there are corrupted sectors, and the PC is trying to recover files. As if the first disaster with lost data wasn't enough, this crap happens. Quite a bit of data was lost there too. Disaster 4 - Nathan 0

[It was at this point that I was supposed to outline my disasters. I think I managed to deal with most of my issues in other posts. My car broke down a couple of times, in addition to the battery failing one morning when I was leaving work. I dropped my phone one night at work, and it managed to find the only puddle on the entire property. I had to turn the phone off completely, and let it dry out. It still basically worked after that, until the battery started going out. I have a new phone now. Long after this was supposed to be posted, both my laptop and my desktop had issues that were keeping them from functioning. My laptop was fixed the first time by uninstalling the virus protection software, and the second by running a Check Disk. The desktop, I tried everything, but eventually, I just took it to Nathan to reinstall Windows. He knows how to do things like that. I’m sure there were other things (the can opener finally broke for good) but those were the major things to me, because they keep me occupied at, and in the case of the car get me to, my job.]

Here is Chris with his tales of woe ***********

[Actually, my only tale of woe right now is that we’re out of time for today. But I have four more days of looking through the draft section.]

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Operation CTFU: Join the Draft (Part One): Explanation

Edited by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

(Posted 9-2-10 as make up for 8-19-10)

by Chris McGinty

On August 25, 2010, Nathan simply admitted that we had fallen into a rut as the daily blog was concerned, and well, probably everywhere else in our creative projects.

On August 24, 2010, my younger son turned 12, but aside from that, I wrote my own version of “What happened” while at my guard post. I was unable to post it until the next day after Nathan posted his, but mine had been intended for the 24th anyway, so it worked.

Strangely, Miguel had a completed post in the draft section, but we wouldn’t have known it because the draft section is full of Miguel’s incomplete posts, and one of Nathan’s, and the only reason I didn’t have any was because all of my incomplete crap is in Word files. This is not to say that Miguel, or any of us, should stop storing his ideas in the draft section, but rather that the drafts need to be finished more often. The thing is that much of Miguel’s stuff was pretty complete.

A quick note: When I say I didn’t have any I mean that none were under my name. There were two joint blogs that I was included on. For full disclosure, the joint blog with Miguel had notes under his name and notes under my name, so I guess there was one. I also didn’t count the “topics” drafts with our brainstorm ideas. Oh, and from a point of view, Nathan had two, but that will be explained in Part Six.

I had an idea at one point that I should just take all the stuff that was in the draft section, and post it up as is. I figure that if Miguel or Nathan have anything to add or edit, they can come back behind me, give a brief explanation that it's new material, and write it. Their drafts will be posted under their names.

The first step to Operation: CTFU was to decide what the hell to post up in the ten missing days. I had three posts ready, so they were obvious. They could have been posted during those ten days, cos they were ready the whole time. I just hadn’t posted them.

Thoughts on "The Last Action Hero" (Part One)
Thoughts on "The Last Action Hero" (Part Two)
Incremental Writing

The next step was to figure out if there was any other work that was “done” during the days we missed. My thoughts turned back to the drafts. I figured I would have to do seven posts dealing with the stuff in the draft section, but then I found Miguel’s completed post just sitting there with a message that he was done with it, and we could do whatever we saw fit with it. So it was just a question of making six posts. This is the first, even if it’s technically new material. The other five can be found:

Operation CTFU: Join the Draft (Part Two): The End of Times
Operation CTFU: Join the Draft (Part Three): Rebuttal to a Rebuttal

Operation CTFU: Join the Draft (Part Four): Various Notes by Miguel
Operation CTFU: Join the Draft (Part Five): Miguel Rants about Nirvana
Operation CTFU: Join the Draft (Part Six): Zonk Rulez!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Who is Hotter Republican or Democrat Persons

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

So I found an article today on Yahoo! and just had to shake my head sadly.

In case you don’t want to read the article, it’s basically this: Somebody put up a video asking who is hotter; Republican or Democratic women. Since Republicans were the creators of the video, naturally Republican women won, but apparently this created some controversy.

Some guy name Brian Melendez, a Democrat, called the video sexist and offensive. And perhaps it is offensive. Playing “Who Let the Dogs Out” over pictures of Michelle Obama, Janet Reno, Rosie O'Donnell and Hillary Clinton is certainly trying to offend somebody. It’s the part about it being sexist that gets me. If it is sexist then perhaps People magazine needs to do away with “Sexiest Man Alive.”

Maybe all those magazines and shows need to do away with who was dressed better at such and such event, in fact, because of this quote from Melendez:

"The day when a woman was judged by her looks rather than her competence and intelligence should have passed three generations ago…”

Dude, we judged Sarah Palin on her competence and not her looks. That’s why she’s not vice president.

What I’m saying is that his statement is probably valid in that we should judge people by certain criteria (or is that criterion?) more than others, but we don’t. We don’t look at somebody dressed horribly on the red carpet and say, “Eh, whatever, they’re a good actor.” Melendez should stop combing his hair (I’ve never seen him, does he have hair?) and see how quickly people jump on him for not caring about his appearance.

What I’m trying to say is that this is not an issue of sexism, because there is no double standard. By definition a sexist statement would have to directly attack one sex and not the other. Example: Men don’t understand the importance of issues concerning children, because they don’t carry children for nine months. You can’t use the same statement in the same context and apply it to women. It already says women are more in tuned with children’s issues than men.

The issue of who is better looking transcends sex. Bill Clinton was pushed as being good looking like John Kennedy. And by the way, Michelle Obama is gorgeous. I’m not sure I understand putting her in that video. Let’s run it back, Laura, Hillary, Barbara, Nancy, Jimmy’s wife, Lady Bird, maybe somebody else, and finally Jackie. Michelle Obama is easily the most attractive first lady since Jackie Onassis. And really, shouldn’t we be calling them “the president’s spouse” by now? First lady is sexist, because it could easily be a man when we have a woman president, or a gay president, so maybe it should be “the president’s partner.” And I don’t mean to suggest that when we have a gay president it will be a man. Ugh.

I’m not sure if I’ve made my point as best as I could. It might be better if I could sit down with every last one of you and flip through the channels on TV and tell you to stop me when you see somebody who is unattractive, because there is hardly any entertainment medium that doesn’t place a heavy emphasis on attractiveness and/or appearance. TV, music, movies, newscasting, politics, job interviews, marriage, one night stands… the list goes on.

So let’s wrap up. The video was offensive, but only to the specific people demeaned, not to all women. If we judge on appearance at all it should be low on the list. Melendez’s statement should have started, “The day when a person…” because singling out women like that was sort of sexist.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Incremental Writing

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

I’ve been thinking a lot about incremental writing lately. The basic idea is that you write a little at a time, and it adds up. It can happen in many different ways, and I thought I would take the length of a blog post to discuss some of them.

Blog Posts – Last year, I started compiling much of the writing that I’ve done on the web in various forums and pages. I’ve only just begun to compile this stuff. In the process I’ve been writing some about each of the pieces just to give perspective, and I’m up to 45 pages. There are a number of authors out there now who basically started by writing a blog each day, and then collected the good stuff and published (in some cases self published) a book (or more). I wrote in my compilation that this is nothing new. Newspaper columnists do this. Fiction authors do this by compiling their short stories into full length collections. It made me realize that I have a lot more writing than I ever realized, and I write a lot.

Writing Everyday – I read that Stephen King writes six pages a day. Later I read that he does 2,000 words a day (which is probably about six pages, as it’s almost four pages the way that I format Word). “Carrie,” King’s first published book, was 181 pages long in the printing I read. That would mean that he literally could have written a whole novel in a month, if he did write six pages a day, and all the writing was on the same project. Half a year is 182 and a half days (my theory as to the meaning of the band name Blink 182 by the way, as in half a year went by in a blink, I’m probably wrong though). The reason I bring this up is that even if King wrote one page a day, he had a novel in six months. If you are a novelist, yeah you, and you are making excuses about why you haven’t finished your novel yet, yeah me, then I just want to point out that you can write one in a month. Stephen Kings “It” is almost 1,200 pages. At six pages a day, that’s still less than a year. What are you waiting on?

Paperback Writer – The Beatles (and more specifically John Lennon and Paul McCartney) are considered to be some of the most prolific songwriters of all time. I don’t know who is the absolute most prolific. I heard Paul McCartney once say, “John and I got together and wrote the first hundred songs or so.” Miguel argued that they probably weren’t all good, but given the success of The Beatles, the bad ones that never were recorded probably don’t matter much. Writing one song a week, and taking two weeks off around the holidays (Christ and his birthday know that we don’t need anymore Christmas songs), one could write 100 songs over the course of two years, pick the best three of every ten and release three albums. Danny Elfman says that when he scores a movie, he writes a set number of measures each day, depending on what his deadline for completion is. When he writes for Boingo (formerly known as Oingo Boingo, formerly known as The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo) he waits for inspiration. He is considered to be one of the best scorers in the industry.

Letter Writing – While most of us can’t really publish our letters, I just wanted to point this out. I picked up a book called, “Reagan: A Life in Letters” It is approximately 1,000 letters out of what they believe is probably over 10,000 letters Ronald Reagan wrote in his lifetime. Just the letters alone in the book span 834 pages, and it’s small print. I’m willing to bet that as Reagan wrote letters over the course of his life that he never realized that he very possibly wrote ten good sized books. It’s kind of staggering when you think about it that way.

I guess the reason I bring this up is because in writing, and many other huge tasks in life, what you’re really looking at is a bunch of smaller tasks. I didn’t realize that on my own, but writing it out this way is my spin on it. There really are very few valid excuses in life. If there is anything you want to do, whether it’s write a book, or whatever, just get started. Do a little bit everyday if possible. Never quit anything that interests you, is possible to complete, and isn’t causing you harm.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Return of the Jedi Deleted Scene

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

So Nathan posted up a video link to our private group. It was some sort of deleted scene from “Return of the Jedi” that, who knows why, has never been released… until now.

Nathan called me and told me about it, “The fans in the audience sound like they’re having a nerd-gasm when the show it. It’s a scene where Luke is making his light saber.”

Being as witty as I am, I said, “Red is positive, black is negative, Luke. Get it straight.”

Then I promptly forgot about it for an hour or so.

I was on Facebook when Miguel popped up and asked if I would be on still in about ten minutes. I said I would. He was doing something involving police brutality, and wanted to chat to keep from being bored.

While I was waiting for him I decided to sign in and watch the deleted scene. Less than two hours since Nathan posted it up, and Lucasfilm had already taken it down. When Miguel came on I asked him if he had seen it, and he said that he hadn’t. I told him it was taken down, but this didn’t stop him. He found it again and sent me the link. I watched it and I was underwhelmed (if that’s a word).

Here’s a description of the scene: Darth Vader roams through a hall and then ends up in his command module, all the while he says, “Luke, join me on the dark side.” Cut to Luke in his Jedi robe in some cave somewhere. He uses some sci-fi looking tool (probably a Jedi conflux) to do something that looks an awful lot like turning a screw, and then he arms the light saber. R2-D2 and C-3PO are then shown looking about as underwhelmed as I was.

Being as witty as I am, I said, “Luke, join me on the dark side. Rightie tightie, leftie loosie.”

Then something occurred to me. Darth Vader is just a suit, and the voice could be stock sound from any number of sessions with James Earl Jones. R2-D2 and C-3PO are also costumes, and they don’t speak. And Luke, who also doesn’t speak, is shrouded in shadow. You see his hands and his chin. It could be anybody really.

I told Miguel I was pretty sure it was a hoax. He pointed out that it would be a Lucas sanctioned hoax, because it was shown officially. His words from the chat box: “It's a real convincing sham. At the very least it's an officially sanctioned sham considering that it was videotaped at an official event. Even if this hadn't been shot in 1982, it's more than a fan film.”

Being as witty as I am, I said, “Yes Virginia, there is a deleted scene from Jedi.”

Miguel then got all philosophical, “I gotta wonder if Lucas really thinks about how much of a cock tease he really is. Is it deliberate? This scene has been known about since '83 when it appeared in the novelization. But it wasn't known if the scene had been scripted and not filmed or what. Then in 1997, 14 years later, they put out the CDs of the complete score and there's this piece of music that's described as accompanying this scene, but no scene is released. Now in 2010, 13 years from that point, the scene is finally made public. What the fuck?”

I responded, “Because, it’s not real.” I then got a little philosophical myself, “He's taking a page from the Beatles. Some woman asked Paul McCartney for a donation to her organization and instead he sent her a payroll receipt from the 1920's that he's been holding onto for years with the name E. Rigby on it. It keeps the mystery going.”

This launched a discussion about “Eleanor Rigby,” and I have to say that I knew ver little about it. I knew the gravestone myth. I looked it up, and found a pretty good page on the subject. Oh, and it was 1911 that the wage record was.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Thoughts on "The Last Action Hero" (Part Two)

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

I will now go against my own advice and write a second half that isn’t as good as the first. I’m going to write short blurbs about other movies I’ve seen where I felt the second half just wasn’t as good as the first. Technically, Star Wars Episodes 1-3 are the first half, so we won’t deal with that here.

SPOILER ALERT!!! I have to discuss the second half of these movies, so I’m just saying that if you plan to see them, don’t be reading this.

Let’s start and finish my list with Nicolas Cage; the start being “City of Angels” and the end being “8mm.” We’ll deal with two non-Cage films in-between.

City of Angels – I was pretty fascinated with this movie when it started. Here was an eternal being who wanted nothing more than to be mortal, and he finally found a real reason to crossover, the scent of a woman. Well, maybe not quite that, but I couldn’t resist. What irritated me was that he “falls” and becomes human, and in spite of the fact that he’s been reading human literature for thousands of years, he doesn’t seem to know how anything works. He’s an angel, not an alien. One of my big complaints with movies is the use of character death. If you kill somebody off, it needs to have more of a point than to just make everybody sad for a while. I almost want to give this movie a pass, because there is a point beyond making everybody sad. He’s longed all his life for mortality, and then discovers the major downside which is death. This is something else that he should have learned from years of reading human literature. He just don’t seem too bright, y’all.

Scent of a Woman – I saw the first half of this movie somehow. I don’t really remember how. I thought I saw it with Miguel and a married couple who weren’t married yet, but I think Miguel told me we didn’t actually go in. I don’t know. It’s not too relevant. What is relevant is that I was enjoying it. I liked Al Pacino’s character, and I liked the basic plot. It was enough that years later I picked up the movie from the library, because I wanted to finish it. What a waste of time! I had seen the best parts of the film already. I could have stopped there.

Full Metal Jacket – Stanley Kubrick is my favourite director. I think the guy was brilliant. I got into him through my grandfather showing me “A Clockwork Orange” and “Dr. Strangelove.” Oh, and the first half of “Full Metal Jacket.” Here’s the story behind that. We were having some sort of family get together, and my grandfather came out and summoned the guys to his movie room. Those of us who went were me, my dad, and I believe it was my Uncle Dennis. I’m not sure why no one else did. My brother three year younger than me, and I was barely a teenager if that.

My grandfather put on “Full Metal Jacket” and we watched the boot camp scenes as the sergeant berates and demeans the men in an attempt to make them stronger, all the way up to the scene in the bathroom with the rifle. If you’ve seen the movie, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t seen the movie, go watch it now. Well, finish reading this first. As soon as that scene resolved, my grandfather stood up and hit stop. “That’s all you really need to see,” he said. Years later I finally saw the rest of the movie, and he was right. The part set in the war wasn’t nearly as compelling. The only reason to watch it was to get the full context of, “Me so horny, me love you long time.”

8mm – Again, burned by Nicolas Cage. I swear I want to like you! In this movie, he plays a character who has to move through the underbelly of society to investigate what seems to be a genuine snuff film. It’s really a very compelling movie, and I was totally enthralled. Really, this doesn’t completely belong here, because it wasn’t the last half of the movie that ruined it as much as the last twenty minutes where he finally finds the killer and then we get subjected to: Why You Shouldn’t Let Your Characters Preach 101. He was just born this way. He doesn’t know why he does these things. Blah, blah, blah. Oh, and he’s yelling loud enough that if there were any neighbours around, somebody should have thrown a boot at him and knocked him off his soapbox. It just ruined the whole thing for me.

I’m sure there are other movies that fit this category, but I’m not readily thinking of any right now. I guess I shouldn’t be too harsh though. These are all better than movies in which both halves suck.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Thoughts on "The Last Action Hero" (Part One)

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

I recently watch “The Last Action Hero.” I’ve been told on numerous occasions that it’s not a very good movie, but I still felt compelled to watch it. I enjoyed it. I’m not being contrary though. I realized what the problem likely is. There are movies that for one reason or another, the first half is better than the second half.

If I were to go all “writing advice” for a paragraph or three, I would say this. It’s truly unfortunate that sometimes the ideas you have are simply the ideas you have. I’ve started stories where I’ve gotten six pages in just to realize that my character is lying on the floor bleeding from multiple hammer wounds to the head, or a similarly compelling plot point, just to realize that the next twenty or so pages just aren’t going to be quite as interesting.

If you’re going to write a story where half of it is much better that the other half, you’re always better with a story where the second half is better. It’s very tough to win an audience if they are halfway through a movie, singing its praises, and then they’re bored or disappointed with the rest. You built up an expectation and then didn’t deliver.

There is a lot of talk about hooking your reader in from the start. If you don’t have your reader hooked from the first page then they will go read something else. Fuck ‘em. I’m not really all that concerned with someone who has no attention span hanging around my sentences, paragraphs, and chapters. They’re just here to cause trouble, and probably sell drugs to my sub plots. The truth is that if the first half of your movie (or story) sort of sucks, and people give up on it, you still have the backup plan that someone might tell them, “Oh, it gets better, you should totally finish it.”

Unfortunately for “The Last Action Hero” there was a strong farcical element in the first half of the movie that wasn’t really too prevalent in the second half. It was still amusing, just not as interesting.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Review: Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Coming for 2011, Coupon the Movie....

Just because something exists doesn't mean it HAS to have a movie made about it. As you should already know Pirates of the Caribbean is a dark ride at the Walt Disney parks. Someone got the terrific idea of making a movie about it.

Here is an interesting tid bit of information: Pirates the ride inspired Lucasarts' The Secret of Monkey Island.

A game, sure. A movie... well maybe not so much.

One movie, maybe... three (and soon to be four) ehhhhh... nah.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl is a story about Johnny Depp doing his Keith Richards impersonation while trying to get his ship back from his traitorous undead crew. He wins in the end. Wooo hooo.
Pirates reads like a room full of Hollywood big shots trying to spend as much money as possible in an attempt to top every other action movie they ever did.

Sure the effects are good. Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush are very entertaining. Kera Knightly (aka the DNA experiment from Winona Rider) is hot and WHO doesn't like zombie pirates? The movie is just good enough to enjoy. Thin on content but enjoyable enough.

Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest is the story of Davy Jones and Johnny Depp. Davy Jones is played by Bill Nighy. Between him and Depp's performance this boat doesn't totally sink in to the depths of the ocean. The special effects help but the movie suffers from Empire Strikes Back, Matrix 2, and Back to the Future 2 syndrome.

Mr. Big Bucks Writer/Producer #1: "OMG we need to plan out the next 2 movies, our first one was a big hit!"
Mr. Big Bucks Writer/Producer #2: "Ok, I've written in all this stuff that will link parts 2 and 3.

So what you get is a movie with a lot of 'prep' work for the audience to assimilate. That sort of thing really sticks out when your first move didn't have any of that.

One big HUGE flaw in the whole Pirates trilogy plot line: WHY or why didn't they keep the Aztec gold handy when going off on any dangerous missions? If it basically made you immortal why not use that to your advantage???

Ok, sorry about that. Anyway part 2 hastily introduces new characters and hither unto unknown situations that our characters were dealing with (without ever mentioning them in the first movie). The whole plot line around these last two movies revolves around everyone double crossing each other. The double crossing get too confusing and the audience is left just trusting the editors and writers to know what the hell was going on. Johnny Depp dies and everyone voews to go get him from 'Davy Jones' Locker'.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End is filler for the final confrontation between the characters and Davy Jones. You could have literally done without the whole movie if you would have made part 2 a little longer. Some of the scenes scream 'filler' like Johnny in Davy Jones' Locker and Johnny in the Flying Dutchman's brig, and the crew visiting Singapore... basically three quarters of the movie. One really strange piece of filler was just after their ship goes over the edge of the world. There is like a minute of pure black and the soundtrack to the actual ride playing. It is really wierd.

I can only hope Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides will have something to tell besides the 'thanks for your cash' message the last two did. There was a brief tidbit at the end of the last move where Johnny is looking at a map to the Fountain of Youth. I guess we will find out next year.

One final note about Johnny's performance. Although he was doing his Keith Richards impersonation, I could see a LOT of Chris McGinty in there. It was sooooo funny.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Car Wrecks

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

The day before yesterday the wife and I was driving South on Bryant Irvin headed from Camp Bowie to I-20. About two blocks South of Camp Bowie we witnessed a horrific wreck. I saw a silver truck seem to swerve into oncoming traffic. The truck was about seven car lengths ahead of us. I thought (momentarily to myself) aren't there cars coming in the opposite direction? A car then passed in front of us and just as it did we saw the wreck. The truck did swerve into oncoming traffic (everyone going about 40-45MPH). A black SUV shot into the air and flipped over and several other cars were hit and knocked about.

My wife told me to pull over and call 911. She being 'Mrs. Medical' jumped out of the truck and took off towards the SUV that flipped. I began to block traffic as I called 911 to report the mess. The operator asked me a couple of questions and then asked me if they needed an ambulance. I said 'oh yes'.

I finally got out of the road and pulled into one of the streets there in como. People were coming out of homes to see what all the fuss was about. The guy in the SUV was fine, walking about and talking. The people in the two other cars were ok as well (with cuts and bruises) with the driver of the truck being the one person who was really hurt. I don't know the extend of his injuries but he looked pretty beat up. His fellow passenger said that he had blacked out and that is why he swerved into traffic. His friend also drug him out of the truck while all the black folks were yelling at him not to move him. They all seemed to be very knowledgeable as to first aid. The cavalry showed up and there wasn't anything for us to do so we headed off.

This is the second time I have ever had to call 911. The other time occurred many years ago when I lived in Joshua. I was coming home from work (sometime around 1AM) and it was so foggy you couldn't see more than fifty or so feet in front of you. I am coming from Fort Worth and on 731 when some yahoo in a truck comes barrelling (on a two lane road) past me driving about 80. I am driving about 45 and the speed limit is 55. It was so foggy I didn't dare go any faster. I cursed at the guy and went about my concentrating on the road. About seven more miles up the road 731 dead ends and you have to go either right or left on 917. As I approach the stop sign I can see hazards flashing and a car horn. When I get to the stop sign I can see that the truck (which was probably still going 80) ran through the intersection and must have flown across the embankment and through the large right/left arrow sign. It was almost twenty feet back into the brush so he must have been hauling it when he realized what a dumbass he had been. I didn't stop. I drive the mile home and then called 911. I could have gotten into trouble for not stopping and rendering aid but I did give the 911 people my info and I never got a call back after that. I didn't want to stop because quite frankly I think the guy deserved it.

The wreck we saw off Bryant Irvin was like something out of a movie. I hope that it the closest I will ever come to any sort of wreck ever. Witnessing something like that makes you slow down a bit and keep your eyes peeled for any signs of danger because you never know when it might happen to you...