Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Randy Jackson (Not Michael’s Brother)

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

I feel that I missed a great opportunity last year as this daily blog goes. I had ready made material every Tuesday night after watching “American Idol.” Part of the fun of that show is playing critic to absolutely everything. Who was good. Who wasn’t good. Which judge was wearing earphones rather than actually paying attention to what was going on. Who should be the bottom three. Who you think should win. Why who you thought should win is different from last week. Why Toddrick really should have been in the Top 12 and Lacey shouldn’t have made it that far.

So lesson learned. There is a whole well of “American Idol” things to discuss, and I feel it’s time I disgust it… what misspelling?

The panel of judges is official now, folks. And it’s exactly what they refused to verify a month ago. Stephen Tyler of Aerosmith, Jennifer Lopez of J Lo, and Randy Jackson of… well it’s an interesting thing about Randy Jackson really. He’s definitely got the street cred in the industry, but I think American Idol has been his longest standing gig.

Let me start by clarifying that this is not the Randy Jackson from the Jackson 5, which according to allmusic.com had six members in its time. Maybe the 5 refers to the number of irrelevant members. There are those who claim that The Jacksons’ father, Joe Jackson, was overbearing, and pushed his children to fame because of his own failings as a musician, but as you can see here, he was actually quite good.



Ok, maybe that’s the wrong guy, which probably means that this isn’t Randy covering his father’s classic.



Nope. That’s apparently Joey Belladonna. I can see how I got confused. You can’t see how I got confused, but I can see how I got confused.

So Randy Jackson, the American Idol one, not Michael’s brother, after a number of other musical adventures, joined Journey, and that seems to be the easiest thing to point to when people ask why he’s important in the industry; he’s a producer, like Simon Cowell, and he was in Journey, unlike Simon Cowell.

Here’s what allmusic.com has to say about Jackson’s time with Journey:

“When the group got back together to make a new album, Valory and Smith were no longer in the lineup and Raised on Radio (1986) was made by Schon, Perry, and Cain, who added other musicians for a tour.”

Hmmm. That’s usually a very good site. As much as I hate to say it, AllMusic is staff writers, which causes an issue with flow of information with some bands. So we end up over at the evil Wikipedia, where they have some information for us.

Apparently, Jackson played on three albums with Jean Luc Ponty, who later commanded the starship Enterprize… what misspelling? He also played for a band called Taxxi. This was their biggest hit.



It seems I may have that wrong too. Ok, ok. Here they are. You can see Randy Jackson on bass in this video being totally cock blocked from the camera by the non-singing guitarist.



Then there was this… make of it what you will:



His tenure in Journey was short lived to be honest. According to AllMusic he was in there as a session musician from 1983 to 1986, Wikipedia claims 1986 to 1987. They both agree though that he was on the “Raised on Radio” album, and he’s in this video trying to stay as far away from Steve Perry’s ego as possible.



When the movie “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” was made, Keith Richards was tapped to do something, and this was the result of doing something. I must say that if I ever take a tour of great musical moments, I want to be part of the jam session that was going on while shooting this video. Maybe I could take Randy Jackson’s place, though, just for that experience, I want his haircut. And forget the whole thing if they were just listening to the recording, haircut or no haircut.



After that he did a whole lot of session work and album production, including The Divinyls of all bands, but while her cleavage is prominently displayed, Jackson isn’t in the video, so we won’t mess with posting it. He also played on Bruce Springsteen’s track “Human Touch,” which I’m pretty was because he realized people weren’t confusing him with Rick Springfield enough anymore. Jackson isn’t in that video either, but Springsteen is nice enough to show off his chest some too.

If you want the full list of things he’s done, go to Wikipedia. Ouch, that seemed harsh. I’m sorry, what I mean to say is that I’m concentrating on videos he appears in, and not so much rewriting the Wikihistory. I’m going to leave you with the weird culmination of years of American Idol, but first I want to give my thoughts on the judge situation.

I guess Nigel Lythgoe dropped out as producer before Season 8 of “American Idol,” and the show started taking some very weird directions. The first was adding Kara (and I liked her, but hated four judges). The second was getting into some sort of contract dispute with Paula. The third through whatever was just all the weird crap they’ve been doing. I guess they asked Lythgoe back, and he’s been pretty critical of the four judge idea, and who knows what else. He was in favour of just rebooting the whole judge panel. The truth is that I think they would have been better to have fought to maintain the judging panel as it was. I realize that our current society has attention span issues, but they do still like some status quo. “American Idol” has seemed like a drama pit to me the last couple of years, and not even with the contestants, but rather this weird flailing trying to maintain ratings. It’s odd because last season was the lowest rated season in its whole run. That seems pretty horrible, huh? Yet it was still the number one show. I think they’re just panicking where there doesn’t need to be panic. The show will simply last as long as it lasts. “Star Search” had one hell of a run, and it didn’t even have the same fandom surrounding it. I hope they’ve made the right decision, once again shaking things up on a show where things didn’t need to be shaken so badly. I guess the one saving grace of all this is that they didn’t give Randy the boot yet. And until they do…



Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Graveyard Zone (not an MTG article)

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

Only I can turn a review post into a goal achievement post.

I’ve recently been diligently working toward my goal of reading all of Stephen King’s books. Stephen King is easily my favourite author. The guy is a fantastic storyteller, and creates realistic characters.

I started earlier this year by reading “Carrie,” which I had read half of before. King technically has earlier books in print (as Richard Bachman) but Carrie was his first published book, and it was honestly very good. Laid out as part case study, part committee hearing, part memoir, and part straight story. You get a very simple, albeit tragic and disastrous, event told from multiple, compelling perspectives.

This may be the issue with the movie, aside from John Travolta not having a scene to dance in, which is that it is simply the simple, albeit tragic and disastrous, story without all the psychology injected. I did watch it after I finished reading, though I had seen it before. The movie was good. I’m not so sure about the “picking out the tuxes” comic relief scene, but what can you do?

I continued my reading by reading “Salem’s Lot.” I’m really not a vampire fan, but at least the vampires in this story were actually evil. I enjoyed “Salem’s Lot,” but let me go on record that I believe King to be a better writer when he’s dealing with supernatural situations, and horror manifested by normal, albeit insane and sometimes psychotic, people. I think that when he tackles monsters it doesn’t work as well. I say that, but the first book of King’s that I read was “Cycle of the Werewolf, and I remember liking it. I have not seen the movie version of “Salem’s Lot” yet.

I read some of the short stories from “Night Shift.” I’m still working through it:

“Jerusalem’s Lot” – was really good. It’s set in the 1800s, and is told through letters and journals written by the two protagonists. King uses the style of Stevenson, Doyle, and I’m sure many of the authors of the era in the writing, and it is very effective. There is no direct correlation between this Jerusalem’s Lot and the Jerusalem’s Lot in “Salem’s Lot,” unless I missed the correlation.

“Graveyard Shift” – I will come back to in a moment.

“Night Surf” – is a story that I’d like Miguel to read, because it’s strangely King’s “kill the boy and then go to bed” story. I know that makes no sense to anybody, but if I ever finish the ATW novel, it is explained a little. The fact is that the story is less than ten pages long, and sets up this world in which most everyone is dead from a disease known as “Captain Trips.” And it doesn’t do a whole lot. And while this world was expanded into an 1,100 page novel, “Night Surf” is just a short story… Miguel. It’s only an ok story.

“I Am the Doorway” – Again, ok. A little sci-fi tinge to it. Not among my faves.

“The Mangler” – The Mangler I had read before. It’s ok. Possessed machine. Ritual exorcism involved. King did this kind of thing a few times in the early days.

“The Boogeyman” – Not that good of a story. The protagonist isn’t even really a protagonist in the strictest sense. He’s a misguided man, with a misguided love for those he has lost over the years, but he’s a prick. The end of the story is very gimmicky, and would have been disappointing if the rest of the story had been good enough to set up expectation.

Ok, back to “Graveyard Shift.” The reason I held off on this one is because I just watched the movie. I’ve heard nothing but bad about the movie, and it’s an accurate assessment. The fact is that the source material isn’t really that great of a story, and the movie was unable to be made much better. There was a guy who looked a little like Emilio Estevez in the movie. There was a guy who looked a little like Jack Black in the movie as well. There was a woman who looked a little like Marisa Tomei. There was a guy who looked a little like Dwight Shultz. And there was a guy who looked a little like Tim Curry and Alan Rickman’s love child, provided you removed any features that scream British.) But there was nobody that was just a recognizable actor to me. Each of the actors was good. The characters sucked. The editing was pretty atrocious. I wonder how rushed the project was.

I loved “The Dead Zone.” The book was fantastic. King managed to touch upon almost every element of a story that compels the reader to keep reading. The story is not rushed. The characters are great, and act believably. The situation is fascinating, and the ending is somewhat unexpected. There were two or three parts that I felt were bordering on contrived, but somehow he even made those ok. The movie version was good. It’s very hard to capture the depth of the characters in a King novel in a movie. The first twenty minutes or so felt horribly rushed. Then the pacing smoothed out a little. I watched one of the special features, and they were talking about Christopher Walken doing three takes of each scene trying out different emotional ranges. I guess that’s his way. It works for him though.

Miguel would appreciate something that David Cronenberg said. It was something like, “You eventually realize that in order to stay faithful to the book, you have to betray the book.” I’ve eased up a bit, but I used to be so irritated by major, and even minor to big, changes made between book to movie.

Some of you may be wondering why I skipped “The Shining” and “The Stand.” I read those before. I intend to read “The Stand” again because I read the 800 page version, so I need to read the extra 300 pages. “The Shining” I will probably get on audio book for purposes of review. I can already tell you the Kubrick version is one of my all time favourite movies, but I’ll have to watch the version made later. So there will be other parts to my Stephen King examination sometime.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Moving out of storage

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)


I have junk.


A lot of junk.


I have accumulated it over many years. Since my first credit card (that's another story all together) I have been buying and keeping stuff. I like my junk. It's not like the stuff you might see on one of those hording shows (the new hotness), it's not trash and stuff and it's not piled to the ceiling in my house. I am a bit of a neat freak. My favorite motto is: 'a place for everything and everything in it's place'. The stuff I have ranges from books to nick knacks to collectibles to arcade machines.

I used to get these occasional purge twitches where I felt I needed to dump my stuff and I would wind up EBaying a good deal of my books and some collectibles/toys. I haven't had that happen in quite some time though. I think since I got married that feeling went away (kind of).

In the last few months I have had to do some moving and that feeling has creeped its way back into my life. As you might have read last month Chris has been taking the whole 'cleaning out my life' thing to the extreme. I am not having thoughts on that scale but I am wanting to clean up a bit.


At one point this month I had and apartment with junk in it, a house with junk in it, and a mobile home with junk in it, and a storage building with junk in it. I was feeling spread pretty thin and over junked. We got rid of the apartment (it was just temporary anyway) and moved into Fort Worth. The new place has a garage that's large enough to keep all my extra junk in but it was pretty old and nasty inside. I spent a good two weeks cleaning it out. It is almost sparkling now and I have begun to move my stuff into it. I moved everything out of storage and probably 3/4 of the stuff from the mobile home there. The mobile home was our main house and it's up for sale so I moved most of the stuff out of it so it looks nice when shown to prospective buyers. It is still basically furnished (just sparsely).


All of this consolidating of my stuff gives me a better view of the amount of junk I have. The house we moved in to is much smaller than the mobile home so my room is jam packed with stuff (and there isn't enough room in the rest of the house for my belongings. When I look at all that stuff I think that I need to thin it out a bit. Is there a reason to keep all those books? Well, yes. I like them. I have reread several of them so it's a bit hard to ditch them. I have a whole shelf of board games too (something like 30 of them). I don't want to ditch those. It's too hard!!!!


Breath.


The garage is getting full up. Several of the boxes are my wife's so I can exclude them from my cleaning thoughts. I will let her deal with those. I am going to focus on my stuff and attempt to at least shrink the excess amount of boxes to help me organize stuff before I get rid of anything. For instance there are 3 paper boxes and 2 tubs of props for the show. I know I can probably shrink that down to 3 tubs (or maybe even 2 tubs if I work on it). I have about four boxes of old paperwork (old bills, receipts, pay stubs, etc) I can keep these or maybe scan them into a computer and eliminate all four of those boxes.


With each hour I spend organizing and repacking boxes I feel a little piece of this puzzle that is my life is coming into place. I have tried to really latch onto that motto I told you about earlier (a place for everything and everything in it's place) and make it a life statement. When I get rid of one more box or clear out the contents of one more closet it really makes me feel like I have taken a great big step in my life. I have so closely associated this organizing to a life goal that it has stuck and will actually release serotonin when I accomplish something. Now if can just do thins with my weight!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Data Reconstruction

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

We had a Hematics (blood bank) server crash and die on Monday (at work) and we have been scrambling to get it back up and running. Luckily I had set up the backup on it months back and we had useful data saved. I wish I had done that with my personal hard drive back before it crashed. BTW I have linked all the hard drive blogs into the original blog for ease of reading.

Anyway I finally got all the RMA issues resolved with the new hard drive raid array. I had to send back hard drives from the RMA itself as well! It was a big mess but it has all been ironed out. Once I got all the hard drives installed into the array I started configuring the array into a raid 5 array and to format the 4 terabyte hard drives into one 2.7 terabyte raid array. The build time to set this up was a whopping 30 hours! Luckily I could pause the build at any point (I didn't want to have the hard drives running for 30 hours straight). After a couple of weeks of doing this (it was all happening during our move too) the drive finished. After it finished Windows would not see it. I was so frustrated! After doing ALOT of troubleshooting I finally deleted the raid array and started again with a smaller array which only took 17 hours to build. That one went successfully and I began to copy data over to it.

Although I lost ALOT of stuff during the crash I had alot more spread out on different hard
drives and locations. I began to reconstruct all the folders and putting the data I still had back into those folders. I restored all the season 2 and 3 folders and finally began with the season 1 stuff (not to mention my 28 gigs of personal data stuff).

I am almost done transferring all data to the new array (with the exception of the MP3s I have) and then I will begin doing some prep work for our new *secret* project coming soon. Ok, its not that secret but it is something new. Ofcourse I will be working on season 2 and 3 as well.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Some Comments (Part Two)

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

Part One – Yesterday, I dealt with some things discussed in previous posts, and a random thought or two. Today, I will continue with that noble tradition, or whatever you want to call it.

Works In Progress – Nathan made a comment to yesterday’s part that I was being too staunch about my beliefs of what the episodes look like. He took exception to me calling it “Special Editions.” I guess George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg have given that term a bad name that is synonymous with sucking. Perhaps the reason Nathan doesn’t feel it’s the same thing is because we’re not talking about marketing our new editions as “must buys, even if you have the previous version.” Nathan, do me a favour. Pick up any book, and look at the beginning somewhere by the copyright. You’ll see words such as “first printing” or “fourth edition.” Usually after that it will list copyright dates. It’ll have the copyright of the first printing, followed by the copyright date of the current printing, and any special features involved – like new introductions, or included articles. What I’m saying is that even when a record company would remix old albums from the analog era, they would usually mark them as Digitally Re-mastered. There is nothing wrong with the idea of creating a “new edition.” I guess “Special Edition” leaves a bad taste in your mouth. I wasn’t opposed to Stephen King adding a novel worth on new pages to “The Stand.” It was marketed as a new edition though. Oh, and just for fun, try this extreme analogy. Write a speech. Insult a large minority group in the speech in very insensitive way. Give the speech. Then remove the slight, and give the speech again. Tell everyone that it was a work in progress. Oh! And please tape it.

Editing the Blog – I feel like this will come back to bite me if I don’t clarify. If I go back and make edits to the blog of simple misspelled words without changing the meaning of the piece, then it is really not necessary to clarify, though I usually do somewhere. If I were to go back and rewrite a blog post, adding or subtracting much of it, and/or changing the intended meaning, it would be reasonable for me to post it as a revised post, or at the very least clarify that there have been changes made.

Hour Long Shows – I did ask about getting another time slot for an hour show on public access. It is no problem. I spoke with Nathan about what I thought these shows were intended to be. The in between bits were intended to introduce segments from various episodes, possibly segments from other shows with permission, new segments that were not in shows yet, and segments (such as local bands performing, or video segments of the audio show) that are not intended to go into the official shows. I believe Nathan is filling out the paperwork. I need to find the original in between bits, and possibly we need to plan out what segments to use for a show that we can shoot in between bits for this week when we get together.

Shows Getting Cut Off – Nathan pointed out that Episode 6 of Season 1 was cutting off on TV. I may have an answer to that, but it doesn’t really make sense. The guy I spoke to said that the time slots were 28 minutes and 58 minutes. I know that Nathan put a long lead out banner showing our website address at the end of each episode in order to avoid the show getting cut off, but maybe that’s what is happening anyway. Perhaps we should try to time the new shows we do out to 25 minutes and 55 minutes, or somewhere there about to avoid being cut off.

Part Three – I find myself with stuff still to talk about, so I’ll do my best to finish this up tomorrow. Or who knows, maybe a Part Four will be in order.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Some Comments (Part One)

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

I just thought I’d take today’s post to throw out a few different thoughts about recent posts and perhaps some other stuff.

Remember TV? – It’s almost like Nathan was unaware of public access when they lived in Rhome. I’m not saying he was. I’m actually commenting on the fact that once he was back here in Fort Worth, and had his cable set up, his focus came a little bit off of the World Wide Web and back onto the TV. Realizing the old DVDs were skipping a little after tuning in to public access one day, he made new DVDs for me to take each Monday.

Time Slots – This had a couple of effects. It pushed Nathan into thinking about getting more time slots. Most of the time, the public access station isn’t playing shows. It’s playing a community bulletin board slide show thing. Even when it does play programming, it’s mostly religious. There is nothing wrong with religion, but there is often something wrong with religious programming. It’s just not very compelling.

Religious Programming – I think the problem is simply that the audience is too narrow. I’ve talked about this a little on the blog here. We have an anything goes blog. We choose our topics according to whim. (hmmm) In this way, if we sometimes get a little narrow in our discussion, it’s probably ok because we have other material that is a little more broad in scope. The truth is that when I listen to a show like The Dave Ramsey Show, I’m equally interested in some of the Christian slant of the show. I’ve learned a few things. It’s not all Bible thumping though. The show is about money primarily, but it deals with other areas secondarily, which works. If I were required to do religious programming, I would take my cue from that, rather than “Let’s open our Bibles and worship the son before the father, Hallelujah!”

Reviews – Since I had the new DVDs, and an overnight guard shift, I decided to watch through the old shows with an eye to review them for the purposes of blog posts. I must say that I started to understand Nathan’s renewed interest in the TV and the time slots. Our shows, while a little hit and miss at times, are fun. I know some folks do watch public access, and I kind of hope they enjoy our show. I figure that just in case they do, we should put a whole lot more of it on. Just in case.

Expanding Material – I would like to deal with one thing though. I think Nathan sort of misunderstands what the in between bits were. They weren’t intended to expand the existing show. They were intended to create either an hour long, or an hour and a half long show, to obtain one of those larger time slots. The material we shot, and that I’m looking through my backups to find, was us introducing segments from different shows, new segments we had shot but hadn’t placed into a show, and things that would never be in the show (such as when I tape local bands). The reason for using previously shot material was that we could record the in between bits somewhat off the cuff in a night, and insert the other bits as needed, creating an hour long show with little fuss. I’m not saying not to do the “Special Edition” shows. I’m intrigued by the idea. I always wanted to re-master “Sniffles (sniff)” too.

In Part Two – That’s all I’m going to do for today. I have a number of things I’d still like to comment on, so I can get another post out of it. So join me tomorrow when I discuss my thoughts on the “Special Edition” shows as well as the hour long slots. I’ll discuss gap insurance. I’ll talk about the weather. I’ll discuss the usefulness of this kind of post. And really, anything else that comes to mind.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Flood

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)


We (by we I mean the According To Whim team) all live in north central Texas. During the spring we will get some nasty weather. We are just inside what is called Tornado Alley, so we are used to some unpleasant weather every once in a while. One bit of weather we are hardly ever effected by is hurricanes. They will come and go down along the coast (about 8 hours away) and if it's bad we might get some rain or something as an after effect.

Not this time.

Hurricane Hermine (what a dumb name) came into the Gulf of Mexico this last week, came on shore (after it was no longer a hurricane) and caused a lot of bad weather all over central Texas. I happened to plan my day of filming at Trinity Park on the very day the remnants moved into North Texas. Our day was mostly shot (hurray for NetRunner) but that night is when it got real unpleasant.

It didn't cause hail or tornadoes in Fort Worth that night, just rain. Lots of rain. It had been raining on and off all day (and the previous) but I didn't think much of it. I thought most of the bad weather was over with... WRONG.

Flashback to a week or so after we moved into our new place in here in West Fort Worth. I was outside talking to the neighbor and he made a comment that I REALLY should have listened to. He said "did you know it floods here when it rains alot". I said, "No," and quickly filed that bit of information away. Well, the night of the 'flood' my wife said, "Should you move the car in case it floods?" I said, "Nah." I had this preconception in my mind that 'flooding' here in the city involved not being able to get to your car parked in the street without stepping in water.

Flash forward. It's the day after the Trinity Park shoot, and I am getting ready to go back to work. I just blobbed toothpaste onto my toothbrush, and there was this banging on the front door. I went into the living room. I could kind of see outside through the blinds, and could see some people and a couple of cars in the street. I thought to myself 'maybe there is a gas leak or something'. I quickly threw on some shorts and a shirt, and went to the door. It was a woman, my neighbor.

She said, "We got flooded out last night." That was all. I didn't comprehend exactly what she meant for just a moment, until I looked over her shoulder and into the street. There were several cars at strange angles in the middle of the street. One of them was my wife's. In fact, it was up partly on the sidewalk. I came out and saw a nice little friendly gathering of neighbors chatting here and there. I walked down to the car and noticed the water line along the side of the car. I moved over to the driver's side door and opened the door. There was standing water in the floor, and the cup holders were full of water. Everything had a film of filth on it, and everything was soaking wet.

The rain came down so fast and hard that our street became a river... literally. The water got up as high as the windshield on her car, and as high as right under the dashboard inside. To my guess that was about three and a half feet deep. The water actually picked up about five cars in the area and moved them.

I got the keys, and got the car into neutral to see if I could get it off the sidewalk and back into the street. I didn't want to try to turn the car over in case the electrics would fry out. We couldn't shift the car, so I left it. After I got out and was talking to my neighbors, the car actually tried to start itself (without the key or anyone inside it)! I guess the electrics were shot. I went inside to get a wrench and undo the battery cable, and while I was inside it tried to start up on its own again. I got out there and undid it. Once you opened the hood, you could see massive amounts of debris on the motor. The neighbor looked at the oil dipstick and said that water got in the engine, and that was bad news.

The car is (was) only two years old. It is (was) a Kia Spectra5 and was bought to get the wife back and forth from college. It appears that was it's destiny and once it had accomplished that (she graduated in June) it was done and went off to that big car lot in the sky.

For an hour or so, I was in some distress about the car. I wasn't sure that the insurance would cover it since it was not parked at the home address. I was assured by my father in law that insurance was insurance, and it would be covered. It was, and by the end of the day, a wrecker came and hauled it away.

I am cheap ass. When I get cars, I don't bother with GAP insurance. I don't see it as a good use of money. Well the value of the car was about ten thousand, and we owed nearly fifteen thousand. For some unknown reason, I purchased GAP insurance on this car. What a relief! That three hundred dollars saved me nearly five thousand! Sheesh!

For those of you who want to know how my house wasn't flooded out, the answer is simple. All the houses on the street are up higher than the street itself. Also a couple of the cars that were in the water didn't make it either and found the same fate as mine.

A few hours later someone from the city of Fort Worth came by, interviewed me about the damage ,and took some pictures. He told me that the issue wouldn't be fixed until the city had money to do so. He was from the 'flood water' department. I couldn't believe there was actual department for that.

So I have gotten all my claims started and approved for a new loan to get a new car for her so things are moving along nicely. Who would have thought that deep in the heart of the city this sort of thing could happen?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Reformatting the show

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

There has been lots of talk between us about getting new content for the show. I have started adding The Dirty Stars to our broadcast masters as well as the SLOW work on Season 2 and the start of Season 3.

Yesterday Chris reminded me of something I totally forgot about. Probably more than a year (or maybe even 2 years ago) Chris and I had this same discussion and decided to shoot some 'intros' to sketches. That is to say a short segment where we talk a little about the sketch we are about to show. This would add content in the easiest manner possible. As long as the short segments had just enough entertainment value not to bore the audience. These segment would talk a little about any interesting points about the sketch (or the making of it).

Apparently we shot several of those. I for the life of me cannot remember a single one of them. I have a bad memory so that is no surprise. When we shot them I gave Chris the camera to take home and encode the footage to the PC. He did and he still has them. I totally forgot about the whole project.

I think it is a great idea. Chris said that we could do the segments for our show as well as for The Dirty Stars sketches. By using the intro bits we could really stretch out each episode (and extend our original six episode to maybe eight).

This would also allow me to go back and do some re-editing to remove errors and issues we had as well as update the look of certain parts of the show (titles, music, etc).

This could do for the show what Lucasfilm, Disney, and Six Flags does for it's movies/attractions; breath fresh life into an existing product. This process would also keep us moving (which is what we need most).

As an additional note which is unrelated to this post (but related to yesterday's); I designed a flier and printed up some copies which basically ask for help with the show. My thought was to place them at the TCC campuses and other places to attract people. I gave Chris five and I have five and will try to put them in busy locations.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Myth of New Blood

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

On Wednesday Nathan wrote a scathing criticism about Miguel's tendency to not just say, "Sorry, I can't," and go on with his bad self, instead opting to say he can, and then changing it to he can't.

Miguel apparently responded, but then decided not to post his response, instead commenting at the end of Nathan's post. You can go there to read the whole thing, but I'm going to deal with the following two statements.

NATHAN: I have talked about finding new blood for our group a few times in the past, and Chris has suggested finding people at TCC's drama program. I am not sure how to do this but I think it is the route to go.

MIGUEL: The main problem with "finding people at TCC's drama program" is navigating the social waters. Where exactly would one go to find the TCC drama program in such a way where approaching people isn't awkward? I guess you could just hang out in the halls of the theater department and strike up conversations with random strangers. But me being me. I'm not doing that.

Well Miguel, "I'm not doing that," or anything really, is an understatement. But I'm not really here to piss you off. I'm here to give my opinion on a couple of matters.

In regards to how to approach people at a college, when we first discussed this we were still at the shop. My idea was to attend an improv (Whose Line style) night that was taking place every Tuesday at TCU at the time, and to speak with the improv players. Not too awkward really. As far as the now goes, Nathan has made a flyer to post. It works for bands, why not actors?

As far as why I think Nathan is frustrated is because we're not talking about a Miguel who every fourth time flakes out. We're talking about a Miguel who flakes out literally almost every time. I've told Nathan not to worry about you as far as planning things around you goes. You're welcome along, of course, whenever you're available, but it's pointless to try to include you. Put another way, Nathan tries to make "Miguel Days" because you're his pal, and it seems like a good excuse to hang out, have a good time, and make some memories. I'm not sure if I remember the last time that I made a plan that was contingent on Miguel. It is unfortunate, but it is the way that it is.

I also warned Nathan not to expect much better from anybody we may find through our "New Blood" campaign. They're likely to be just as disinterested in pausing their excessively important lives to spend a couple of hours shooting. The range for creative types is between, "I'm the creative genius everybody listen to me" and "I'd like to work with these guys, but (fill in the activity) is more important." And I should clarify that there is no mid-range in most cases.

Now I will bring this around to the important part: Why it's a good thing that losers like us exist in such a mass quantity. The weird truth of the matter is that because most of us will sacrifice a creativity day to go to: work; hang out with a significant other; sleep; play Farmville; mow the lawn; dream about the fact that one day "Muffy's Friends" and "Star Bar" will really be a reality; generally sit around wondering why we haven't won the lottery literally or figuratively; and any number of other stupid things, there is still what seems to be a high barrier of entry into the world of creative success. If every talented person stepped up to the challenge there just wouldn’t be enough room. Since most of us put more emphasis on the stuff that isn’t creative success than the stuff that is creative success, the hacks who just never stopped pushing will always have work.

I watched the episodes that we’ve been running on public access since 2004 now, and we have one episode with new material in that time. You Tube has a better track record as new material goes, and the website is reasonably updated, especially if you count this daily blog. My point is that somewhere in all of this there is still no decision, “I/we am/are going to take this to the next level,” and until that decision is made, it hardly matters who is in our cast and crew. It will always be the same result. If we don’t believe it ourselves, no one else will believe it, and if no one believes it, there will always be something less important to do that seems more important.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Dirty Stars

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

We have had six episodes on Public Access Television for several years now. Along with those we have a 'best of', 'Halloween special', and 'junk sketches' episodes on there too. These nine shows are getting old (I'm sure). Since Season 2 is delayed so much I wanted to get something new and fresh out there.

About a year ago I got an email from a guy from Oklahoma who did a show called The Dirty Stars. It is basically sketch comedy. He assembled quite a team (somewhere around 15 people) to be in the show. The sketches were pretty well written and the quality of the video was great. He wanted to see about having us sponsor the show (get it put on our local access channel). I agreed and got him the paper work and submitted it.
It took a long time but we eventually found out we needed 10 people in the Fort Worth area to 'sponsor' the show. That really sucks. I let thing sit as I went on with life.
A few days ago I decided to put an idea into action about The Dirty Stars. Since I was wanting to get this show out there and wanted something fresh for our show I decided to basically place his show 'inside' our show in our time slot. I decrypted his DVDs and did a little editing in Premier. The show begins as ours (with our titles and such) then his show begins. I added some 'accordingtowhim.com' tags in the bottom right corner of the screen a few times throughout the show and then encoded it to disc.
Last week when I moved into Fort Worth I caught our show on TV and noticed it was skipping. I set out to get Chris (who is the person who drops off the show at the public access office) new copies of the master DVDs. I then placed the new The Dirty Stars DVDs into our disc rotation so they are simply 'new' episodes of According To Whim.
The Dirty Stars have no web page but they do have a Facebook page so if you want to go check them out tell them According To Whim sent you.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Filming at Trinity Park on Tuesday

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

So back on July 20th I sent a message to our 'business' newsgroup and asked our most 'flaky' member of According To Whim (Miguel) to member to pick a date in September that he could be sure to be off on so I could schedule a day of filming for the show. I made the decision totally up to him and Chris and I would ask off (if needed) at our jobs to accommodate him.

You might ask yourself why I did this... Well, back in 2008 when we were planning shooting Season 2 in five days I scheduled all five days with Chris and Miguel in the coming April (4 months away). When the five days showed up it turned out Miguel didn't bother to tell anyone about it or make and schedule adjustments. We had him for a few hours of shooting and did the rest with just Chris and I setting up shots, etc.

Needless to say I felt real burned about the whole situation and I wanted to plan ahead this time (as if I didn't last time) and make sure we could all be available to shoot some sketches at Trinity Park in Fort Worth. So anyway I sent this message to him asking him to pick a day. He did. I also reminded him to make sure he told whoever he needed to tell about the upcoming day.

Fastforward to September. I took the day off. Chris had the day off. On September 3rd we get a message from Miguel on the newsgroup saying he was going to have to work on the 7th and he wouldn't be able to help. I couldn't believe my eyes. He gave some excuse about having to work for someone. He works for the post office and is basically a fill in person so when some overpaid postal worker is going to take off he has to fill in.

1.) Surely the worker who he filled in for had to ask off at least a week in advance too, right? Wouldn't that give him more time to notify us that he was going to miss out?
2.) I asked him how in the world he was able to take a trip to Disney last year if he had to work at the drop of the hat. I knew the answer even though he was too chickenshit to respond. He was supposed to ask off for the day but he didn't.

Anyway once again he (and believe me this isn't the first time he has done this sort of thing) flaked on something we were trying to do. In times past I have talked to Chris about abandoning our friendship with him since it's not a friendship at all really. We keep trying and he can't be bothered to make the effort. Chris doesn't want to close that door for some reason so we keep going through this charade.

I then got on the Internet and emailed the guys from Rare Film (or whatever) and asked if one of them could step in as camera man for the day. I never got a reply from them. Earlier I had emailed Dylan (who appeared in our show) to see if he could come into Fort Worth and film with us but he couldn't. Chris asked his brother (who is in from Oklahoma) if he could be camera man but he had to be back home that morning.

In the end we only shot a few minutes of stuff since we REALLY needed a camera man. It was raining on and off so that hampered us as well. Not to mention the oppressive humidity.

I can't express my disappointment at having flaky members of a group who you need to rely upon. If any of our group had more potential it was Miguel. He is the one with the film degree and the know how.

I can't say I am too upset at the same time. While editing the scenes he shot for us on Season 2 I had constant irritation at the moving camera. For some reason Miguel felt you had to keep moving the camera around. I would ask him to shoot a scene a particular way and he would wind up shooting it like a reality show.

I have talked about finding new blood for our group a few times in the past and Chris has suggested finding people at TCC's drama program. I am not sure how to do this but I think it is the route to go.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

According To Whim: Episode 6 FAQ

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Episode 6: Divorce -------------------------------------------------

Air Date: September 2005
Production Start Date: March 2004
Production End Date: September 2005
Revisions?: There were 2 other bits of Nathan and Dylan talking and stabbing that had to be cut out because of some sort of video error.

Sketch 1: "We've split" Nathan explains how the episode is split between the two warring parties.
Sketch 2: "Halloween Beginning" Beginning of unrealized Halloween episode.
Sketch 2 (Broadcast): The Munchie Shak.
Sketch 3: "Family Of Blood" Dylan discovers he is a hemophiliac is the most ghastly way.
Sketch 4: "France Is Hell" Dylan and Nathan discover that the French countryside is not all that it seems.
Sketch 5: "Halloween Spot 1" Dylan does a spot for the show's time and channel.
Sketch 6: "This Is Not NBC" Dylan abuses his right as a creative writer (Windows media).
Sketch 7: "Halloween End" The last part of the Halloween episode.
Sketch 8: "Halloween After The Fact" Nathan and Dylan talk about the episode they just finished.
Sketch 9: "Splish" Greenly Meadows tells the public about this fine cola... that can kill you.
Sketch 10: "Castle Silliness" A short sketch shot with 'army men' like knights.
Sketch 11: "Speedy Day" Nathan drives around town and does chores at the speed of light.
Sketch 12: "Chris Drops The Ball" Nathan explains that Chris didn't turn in anything for his half of the show.
Sketch 13: "Phoenix" Chris fights back and will take this show to new heights until he gets tired and gives up ASAP (13-15 are all together on YouTube).
Sketch 14: "I Rule" Nathan decides to put on some stuff that Chris shot since Chris has flaked.
Sketch 15: "Mouth Games" Chris sits in the bathroom giving the audience a tune to remember.
Sketch 16: "Chris From The Future" Chris does some time traveling.

Nathan's Notes:

1.) The opening of this episode uses the comics to actually tell the story that runs through the episode. Chris and myself have a blowout and we stop working together. Neither one of us want to give up According To Whim so we agree to split the show into two separate shows. This was a nice concept but it really didn't work out cause Chris just wasn't around to get sketches for his half done. It turns out to be 48 minutes Nathan and like 12 minutes Chris. Anyway I shot the opening segment explaining to the audience what has gone on and how the episode will go down.

2.) In September 2005 I decided I wanted to do a Halloween episode. This was to be a full 30 minutes with various horror themed sketches. Well this plan dissolved kinda quickly since I was pretty much the only one doing anything with the show at this point. I was able to get Dylan over for a few hours before the meltdown so we got a couple of things shot.

3.) The first Halloween sketch is not a Halloween sketch at all. You see, I had this problem with the Halloween footage. For some reason it would not transmit out to video. I had to ditch the original first Halloween sketch which was me introducing the Halloween show and Dylan stabbing me. Instead we see the Munchie shack. This sketch was shot during 2004 when Dylan came over the first time to help me with the show. I did title screen and he did the voice over. There is a picture of the old comic shop that I 'doctored' to change the address and sign. The idea for this came from my wife (then girlfriend). Placing the sketch in episode 6 was an after thought. The sketch was floating around on my hard drive for months and the only place it had been previously was episode 0 (as filler). In actuality it is still filler for this bad footage that had to be replaced.

4.) "Family Of Blood" is the actual first Halloween sketch. It was shot in September when I got Dylan to drive all the way into Fort Worth. We stood around in the hot garage trying desperately to come up with ideas. I think we belted out a few good ones. This (the longest) was to fulfill my need for copious amounts of blood. We used a vet syringe and a dishwashing liquid & red food coloring blood mixture. Yes Dylan adlibs the final speech (which is kinda rough), but all in all I am happy with the sketch.

5.) "France Is Hell" is my favorite sketch in this episode. Well, it combined with the with the "This Is Not NBC" sketch makes for some great 'Nathanesque' comedy. We did this in the garage infront of the (now working) green screen. Yes that is a can of Splish cola that Dylan has.

6.) In the next short clip Dylan does a promo for the show. On the first take Dylan couldn't get the window open so I am sure that will be in the next blooper reel.

7.) "This Is Not NBC" or "Caribbean Hell" was shot exactly like the previous France sketch. You can Dylan adlibbing badly. Take a look at his jaw as it works to form the next line he speaks. That's funny.

8.) Next was the closing of the Halloween. Once again the footage would not work so I dropped it. It was a simple scene in the garage where I ask Dylan for a ride then climb out the window and say my goodbyes to the audience all the while Dylan is still stabbing me. As a note; the stabbing noise is one of the 'squirt' sounds that the vet syringe made in the "Family Of Blood" sketch.

9.) This next scene of me asking Dylan what he thought of the show was also dropped.

10.) "Splish" was an idea I came up with more than a year before and finally realized it back in late 2004 and didn't finish it until 2005. I used Photoshop for the can graphics and taped it to a coke can. I then did the dialogue and added the Greenly Meadows stuff at the very end. On the voice over parts I slowed my voice down a lot to really drag out the length of the words. There is also a crappy math joke in the sketch too. If you haven't noticed the sale price (of a six pack) is the same as the regular price (of the single can).

11.) "Castle Silliness" is a prime example of the fact that the shorter the sketch, the longer the final edit time. This sketch is only a couple of minutes long and only took me like 30 minutes to shoot but it took me hours of post production to bring it all together. "Castle Silliness" is a sketch using army men-type knights along with a fisher price castle I modified. The tricky part was adding all the voices and sound effect noises. I did all the voices and simply layered them over each other to create the impression of many people. I also did all the voices of the animals as wells as the deep growls of the dragon, all aided with GoldWave. The funniest part was unscripted. A bug ran across the castle as I was filming it and so it made for some funny stuff. "Oh my god Harold, look at the size of that roach!" This sketch gets a few laughs and event he attention of the Canadians. Bite TV in Canada wanted to show the sketch on their station. They sent me the contracts but I never sent it back to them.

12.) "Nathan Speedy Stuff" was my attempt to simply fill time in a creative way. I drove to my roommates parent's house and recorded the trip then I sped up the footage and put some cool music I made with the EJay music mixer program. I also recorded myself doing house work and sped that up like crazy too. It's interesting enough to watch.

13.) After the intermission I show back up and announce that Chris didn't do anything for the show so I would show some stuff he thought would never air. At this point we see an aquarium with the AccordingToWhim.Com name on it for like 20 seconds. Then Chris dramatically shows up and states he will: 'take the show to new heights' then he promptly gets sleepy and gives up. Next is some footage of him playing his mouth tunes in the restroom. Then finally his one sketch plays.

14.) Chris From The Future" was my idea for taking the split screen technique to a new and cheesier level. At one point in the sketch there are 3 Chris' on the screen. I think this is a good sketch but I think that it would be brilliant if we went back and made a real show effort to make it. If we: - a.) made an even better script - b.) thought out and planned the split screen stuff - c.) added more Chris we would have an excellent sketch (maybe even to fill 30 minutes). One note: This sketch starts with Chris uttering no less than 6 expletives in the first 20 seconds of the sketch. This episode was taken (by the city of Fort Worth) and placed on Fort Worth Independent School District TV. (without my input). Oh well, be it on their own heads!

Monday, September 6, 2010

According To Whim: Episode 5 FAQ

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Episode 5: Litigateable -------------------------------------------------

Air Date: September 2005
Production Start Date: March 2004
Production End Date: July 2005
Revisions?: None.


Sketch 1: "Smilodon" The dinos are back again with a bit to say from the Dino Fact Finder book.
Sketch 2: "Paid Advertisement 1" Nathan and Chris try to generate revenue for the show.
Sketch 3: "I Wasn't Expecting That: Gun" Nathan is forced to take money.
Sketch 4: "I Wasn't Expecting That: Box" Chris gets a gift from Miguel.
Sketch 5: "I Wasn't Expecting That: Peanuts" Chris gets a surprise with a can of 'nuts'.
Sketch 6: "I Wasn't Expecting That: Creditor" Chris gets a very different kind of creditor call.
Sketch 7: "Paid Advertisement 2" Nathan and Chris try to generate revenue for the show.
Sketch 8: "Dock Fire
Sketch 9: "10 Sketches In One Minute" Like it says...
Sketch 10: "Ending World 1.1" A sort of music video set to a lighting storm in North Fort Worth.
Sketch 11: "I Am Rage" Chris is mad.
Sketch 12: "Paid Advertisement 3" Nathan and Chris try to generate revenue for the show.
Sketch 13: "Manpons" The tampon that's 'cool' for guys to buy.
Sketch 14: "Dylan And Cody Try To Get On The Show"
Sketch 15: "Blooper Reel 1"
Sketch 16: "Paid Advertisement 4" Nathan gives up on the idea.
Nathan's Notes:

1.) The opening of this episode is sort of a throw away. I had no real plans and just thought it would be fun to do some more dino stuff. The book they are looking at is called the Dinosaur Fact Finder. I got this book several years ago at a Half Price somewhere. I'm not sure but I think Chris got it out and looked for the 'joke' names. There are a couple of other shot things like this we shot with the dinos that might show up one day in another episode.

2.) This was supposed to be the opening for this episode. The idea was that Chris decided to get us some investors in the form of paid advertisers to help with show expenses. The people he lined up were kind of dubious. This is another one of the sketches that I thought might get us kicked off the air.

3.) The idea for a series of sketches (like the subtle sketches) grew on me and I wanted a series called "I Wasn't Expecting That" where the punch line was: "I wasn't expecting that". I got the idea after watching some old episodes of You Can't Do That On Television. I liked the simple format and the fact that they often repeated sketches over the course of the series with slight different dialogue and/or actors, but basically the same jokes. My first original idea never made it on screen. It was a person going door to door trying to preach to people. He is well dressed and respectable looking. His speech uses the phrases: 'our Lord', 'being devout to Him' and so on. It turns out in the last bit that he is a 'Satan's Witness' then the person at the door turns and looks at the camera and states: "I wasn't expecting that". The first in this series is where a burglar breaks into a house. The joke of the person using a clapper to turn on the lights came out of the need to have the burglar caught unawares.

4.) The next "I Wasn't Expecting That" sketch took a little more time than the rest. I hoped to make the decapitated head gag work, but it looks kinda crappy. With the 'faked' table top, angle of shoot, and cut to the next shot in fluid motion it works out pretty well.

5.) The can of nuts "I Wasn't Expecting That" sketch was really quick and easy to shoot. You will notice Chris playing with some magic The Gathering cards too. Also, I always like making fun of Chris' expression at the end of this sketch. It is this sort of 'this sketch is a piece of crap' look. I never let it go by without mentioning it to him.

6.) The final "I Wasn't Expecting That" sketch was shot right after the burglar sketch. I am actually talking to Chris in this sketch then using GoldWave I dropped the bass and made it sound like a phone call. We also used the clapper gag here too.

7.) "Dock Fire" took several months to finish. I could not find any burning sort of footage until one lucky day the fire department came and burned down an old house a few blocks over. I then added the fire sounds and there you go. I do feel the shot was too dark when filming Chris though.

8.) "Ten Sketches In One Minute" took over a year to finish. We decided to collect little tiny funny bits over an extended period of time. I finally decided (in July) to find some stuff to finish this. My and the wife went swimming and I took the camera along and finished the final pieces to this puzzle. Just a some notes of interest; the Taco Bueno cup was real, the bag I have for the Paul Bunyan grocery store is one of those city lawn bags, the house we drive by singing Bob Shack is a little shack with the word Bob in big letters (that was from our Mexia trip as is the rust remover bit).

9.) "Ending World 1.1" was my final attempt to get this episode done and in the can. A few years ago I emailed and got permission from Kurt Harland (lead singer of Information Society) to use his music from the album 'Don't Be Afraid'. Now, jump to early 2004. While I was working overnights I shot this lightning storm. I put the music from the album over the storm and got this promo bit that has some advertising for the show on it.

10.) "I Am Rage" was shot on the night we shot the office sketches. Chris' rage dissipates as soon as he discovers he is not really trapped. This is the same fence that I am hanging off of in the "Worker 625" sketch.

11.) "Manpons" was this great idea I came up with while thinking of commercial ideas. I made a dummy label in Photoshop and taped it to a box for the prop. I used my Yamaha keyboard's demo song for the soundtrack and several title screen and sound effects to finish the commercial. The bits of footage of me acting like a dork were shot while I was shooting the "Castle Silliness" sketch.

12.) I worked with Dylan and Cody at the Target in Burleson. I got both of them together for this impromptu sketch. With the help of 'Lewis Cannon's' clothes and some groovy glasses Dylan tries to get in on the show. I remember it was late spring and the inchworms were really bad. They were hanging everywhere at my house. You couldn't move without being covered in worms and webs. One worm got on the fake pizza box (which was a real pizza box inside out) and Dylan adlibs a few worm related comments into the sketch. Dylan had a sunroof in his car so shooting them talking in it was easy. The opening and closing segments were shot months later that tied Chris and myself into the overall sketch. Chris did this 2001 Hal impersonation while I am checking my email. I sort of adlibbed it all and it worked out alright.

13.) The bloopers in this segment were culled from over a year of shooting. There are more bloopers but these were probably the funniest.

14.) In the closing segment the paid advertiser sketches are wrapped up with me giving up and just borrowing the money from my mom.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

According To Whim: Episode 4 FAQ

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Episode 4: Vagabond -------------------------------------------------

Air Date: July 2005
Production Start Date: February 2004
Production End Date: April 2005
Revisions?: None.

Sketch 1: "Dino Intro" The dinosaurs put on a little show.
Sketch 2: "According To Whim: The Reality Show Commercial"
Sketch 3: "Fun With Smoke: Diet Sorceress" Nathan takes extreme measures to loose weight.
Sketch 4: "According To Whim: The Reality Show 1"
Sketch 5: "Fun With Smoke: No Fireworks In The House" Says it all.
Sketch 6: "According To Whim: The Reality Show 2"
Sketch 7: "News 1" Greenly Meadows reads the news of the day (Windows media)
Sketch 8: "According To Whim: The Reality Show 3"
Sketch 9: "News 2" Greenly Meadows reads the news of the day (Windows media)
Sketch 10: "The Entertainment Report" Lewis Cannon gives us the news (Windows media).
Sketch 11: "According To Whim: The Reality Show 4"
Sketch 12: "The Entertainment Report" Lewis Cannon gives us more entertainment news(Windows media).
Sketch 13: "According To Whim: The Reality Show 5"
Sketch 14: "According To Whim: The Reality Show 6"
Sketch 15: "Subtle Sketch: Long Table Discussion" Chris and Nathan throws subtle jokes at the audience.
Sketch 16: "Subtle Sketch: Deliverer" Chris tries to deliver something important but is stopped by a jerk.
Sketch 17: "Subtle Sketch: T.C.J.C. Pillow Talk" Chris and Nathan figure out why TCJC became TCC.
Sketch 18: "Subtlety" Chris and Nathan do some audience brain melting.
Sketch 19: "The Ultra Inflatable Ultra Bed 9000" Nathan buys a wonderful new product.


Nathan's Notes:

1.) When Chris and myself had our business we purchased some of these plastic dinosaur grabber things where there is a dino head on a stick and you pull on this trigger thing and the mouth closes. Well, lacking for material we decide to film them. I set up a bluescreen (the best application to date of it, you really can't tell) and we went about filming ourselves being silly. I sifted through the footage for the least crappiest stuff.

2.) "According To Whim: The Reality Show" was a stab at reality TV, something I hope dies a quick and painful death. This first in a series of sketches is a commercial where I had some fun with Photoshop and screen captures of other parts of the series. This is to set up the hype that this show is gonna rock hard!

3.) The "Fun With Smoke: Diet Sorceress" sketch fulfilled my need for a some sketches involving my smoke machine. My Niece was in town for a few weeks so I decided to force here to be on the show. No, not really. She was dying to be a 'star'. She'll regret that when the freaky old-man emails start coming in. Anyway in order to get the smoke to come out of the didgeridoo I had a length of swimming pool vacuum hose and simply held one end of the hose to the fog machine and the other on the end of the didgeridoo. Actually you can plainly see me crouched down holding the end of the tube if you look to the left of Sayra.

4.) I won't say much for the other According To Whim: The Reality Show sketches because they are all like this one (with a minor exception of the last one). All of these sketches has Chris and myself watching TV. the joke being that this is a true reality show and not peppered with contrived tasks or fake stuff.

5.) "Fun With Smoke: No Fire Works In The House" gets the most questions asked because of that damn firecracker. I light this fire cracker in my bedroom and it blows up and there is this cheesy sound effect of a firework rocket and explosion that I overlay for the sound. I recorded them from my Yamaha keyboard. Well the firework gag went like this. I put a bowl of water infont of me, had Sayra hold the camera over my shoulder and I lit the real firework. Did I mention it was a damaged firework? I broke a blackcat in half and pulled out the real fuse and put in a much larger fuse from a smokebomb (it looks better when its lit). So I am actually holding 2 halves of a firecracker when I light it. Just before it burns down and catches what's left of the gunpowder and burns my fingers I dropped it in the bowl. Simple. I then shot smoke under the door of the room and filed the house with smoke.

6.) The "Greenly Meadows Reads The News" was shot with all the mayoral stuff from Episode 2. This was actually the original intent of the Greenly/Lewis sketches. I read off these cheesy news stories that Chris wrote. We discovered that this new anchor stuff is an easy way to fill in time. It's easy to shoot and write.

7.) In the sketches were Lewis Cannon reads the entertainment report we simply swapped jobs. I (tried) to write and Chris did the acting. His jerky movements are a riot.

8.) "The Subtle Sketches" were an idea I came up with after a few of the sketches we came up with had jokes too obscure to be really funny. So, if it ain't that funny, it's here. The first of these is the "Long Table Discussion." This bit was shot in the 'abandoned' location in this boardroom. We wrote the lines out on paper and pretty much read straight from them. You can kinda see the writing on my papers since I wrote them with a big marker. Chris does do some fairly funny improv.

9.) "Deliverer" is a weird sketch that is really subtle in humor... I mean REALLY subtle. This was a silent sketch so I needed some music to fill in the sketch so I went to some red book audio from a Japanese game I had several years back. What you hear (in music and Japanese dialogue) is the soundtrack to cut scenes from Dragon Ball Z: Legends. O.K. here is the joke for all of you who can't figure this out: Our delivery boy comes into this building and is heading to the executive suite with important papers. When he gets to the top he is stopped by a security guard. He points tot he sign "Mini Executive Suite" and then pointes to the stairs. The stair are smaller than the rest of the stairs in the stairwell. You see, "mini" executive suite and "small" stairs? Oh geez.

10.) "T.C.J.C. Pillow Talk" is a pillow fight between Chris and myself while we discuss why they changed the name of TCJC to TCC. If you listen to what is said you will notice that most of the stuff we say starts with T C C. It's actually a pretty nice sketch idea. I suppose if we ever get 'big time' this concept should be re-envisioned. As the sketch ends we start getting muted by the F.C.C. and result to using cards with dialogue on them. Yes we do infact say all those nasty thing but you just can't hear us.

11.) "Subtlety" has this disclaimer at the beginning whereas we (the producers of According To Whim) take no responsibility for brain aneurisms as a result of watching this sketch. You can figure out right away (from the lack of fart jokes or other visual tripserkery that this is a Chris sketch. There is dialogue... and more dialogue... and more dialogue. This has to be the biggest 'talkie' sketch we have done to date. All in all, after it is said is done the joke is so obscure that no one except about 4 people will get the closing joke. That's it... 4 people. It is a reference to a sketch that Chris did in Sniffles(Sniff!). You may notice that the background (while we are in the truck) changes a little too drastically from shot to shot. We weren't really looking for continuity... oh well. We shot part of this at a local Jack in the Box in Cleburne. If you watch the guy in the background as I come and sit down, in the next shot he is gone. I think he figured out what was going on and hot footed it out.

12.) "The Ultra Inflatable Ultra Bed 9000" has been called my definitive sketch triumph. It is one of those sketches that turns out to be like 3 times longer than you intend. This sketch is about crappy products and irritating customer help lines. My mom owned one of these inflatable beds and it had a hole in it. We had to shoot kinda fast or the bed would actually start deflating on screen. For the scene where Chris pops the bed by accident I added all the sound effects from the pop to the raspberry sound of escaping air. We simply pulled the plug and I rolled around on it while it deflated. The scene where we shot up at Chris and his hair is flying back with the force of the escaping air is actually me using a lawn leaf blower on Chris. For the next bit of the sketch I pre record some Indian sounding dialogue and then shoot myself reacting to it. Through the use of nonsensical footage of fish swimming and cats kicking themselves I get the point across that I have been on hold FOR EVER. The final shot of the sketch is Chris jumping on my new replacement and the audience see the footage slow down and fade out then you hear the pop.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

According To Whim: Episode 3 FAQ

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Episode 3: Curmudgeon -------------------------------------------------

Air Date: June 2005
Production Start Date: February 2004
Production End Date: May 2005
Revisions?: None.


Sketch 1: "Begin Again" The audience arrives at Nathan's again.
Sketch 2: "In Search For Food" Nathan deals with his bad roommate in a creative way.
Sketch 3: "Graveyard" Nathan prepares for work.
Sketch 4: "Viacox Call For Help" Chris' dream.
Sketch 5: "Worry" Chris frets over Nathan's lateness.
Sketch 6: "A Dream Within A Dream" Chris can't seem to wake up, or is it Nathan?
Sketch 7: "Submitting The Show" Nathan visits the public access office.
Sketch 8: "Mailbox Walk" Chris checks the mail for the public access paperwork.
Sketch 9: "Worry More" Nathan realizes he has made a big mistake.


Nathan's Notes:

1.) The opening sketch was shot to look like the opening sketch of episode 1. This time Chris' hand was the hand that knocks instead of James'. It was kind of awkward what with me doing all the talking because I have never been comfortable in front of a camera, or camera-friendly feature wise. We wanted to use the blue screen poster board to bring the comics up but the effect wasn't all that great. This episode took the longest to actually produce. The problem wasn't one of logistics, but of story. What Chris and myself planned to do (I think it was my idea at the time) was to have an episode that was actually one complete story line. That quickly morphed into an episode where each of the sketches were linked somehow, like HBO's Mr. Show. After many ideas on linked sketches and almost a year we finished.

2.) "In Search For Food" was created to a:) make a sketch that showed how a roommate never bought groceries and b:) deal with Chris' inner demons given to him as a child by his mother. For this sketch we emptied out the cupboard and the fridge (and freezer) then I did a sort of Steve Irwin sort of nature host and we went a lookin' for food. The hominy and wine cooler labels were just pieces of paper and a marker. The wine cooler was one of those souvenir bottles you get on vacation that my real roommate, Tuyen loaned me. I totally forgot to check in the freezer in this sketch and after we cleaned it out and everything too. Also as far as I know the bowl of moldy food was still in that fridge more than a year later. I left it when I moved out. I wonder if my mom cleaned it out after she moved back in?

3.) The 'Graveyard' sketch was something Chris came up with and we shot very quickly. We spoke our lines and added in the ominous bell sound in post. I think at the time we shot this I was still working at my graveyard shift job (but I could have already moved on to working back at EB Games). We had to shoot this sketch to lead in to the "Viacox or "Dead End" dream sketch. The final bit where Chris is show with his shirt off and says goodnight is actually part of the "Worry" sketch that I had to cut down for time. Chris actually spends quite some time showing the audience this long chest hair he has. Never the less I felt this could be trimmed (the sketch, that is) and I cut it for time.

4.) The "Viacox" bit was one of the first sketches we shot. This location was on the side of a building (I cannot mention which, but it is in North Fort Worth). I simply walk down after Chris in a menacing way. You can clearly see my shadow holding a camera. I added a heartbeat (from the Haunted Mansion ride soundtrack) and me talking as the call for help button. I used GoldWave to remove all bass out of my voice so it sounds like a phone call or something similar.

5.) "Worry" was our actually first big sketch. It might have even been the first sketch we shot for According To Whim. The premise was simple; Chris is worried that I have not come home or called. He frets over this while playing his GayStation 2. Chris thought it would be funny to string along a bunch of game titles and "Gay-ize" them. The Hims (Sims), Men Hunter (Man Hunter), etc... Chris then writes a list of a possible reasons of my lateness in which we did a voice over later. He also makes a call to some Asian dude. Once again, let me state that Tuyen is not an actor. This couple of seconds of dialogue was hard to get. Tuyen is also a lens looker. Every time he his done with a line he immediately looks at the camera lens. So this shot cuts out pretty fast since as soon as he was done with his line he looks at the camera lens. Anyway, I show up at the front door but I am apparently dead. This is where the sketch ends. We had to shoot the next sketch months later to get our selves out of this predicament.

6.) Chris wakes up from this horrid dream. The next series of events I lifted and modified from An American Werewolf In London. Chris thinks he is awake but we soon discover he is still asleep. Again and again he is scared out of his wits and woken up. He is having a dream within a dream over and over again. To throw and even further twist to this it appears it's me who is the one dreaming and I finally wake up. I really like this over the top idea and I'd to do it again in the future and spend more time and make it work nicer. Nathan then tells Chris he is headed to the Public Access office to get an application for the show.

7.) If anything was ever going to get us kicked off of public access its the "Submitting Our Show" sketch. I think I offend just about every religious group out there. This sketch features me talking to me. Ah ha, but one of the mes is sporting a false goatee (felt goatee that is) and glasses. I shot this sketch in like 10 minutes at our favorite 'abandoned' music company in the little lobby. You see me sitting behind the desk but there was no chair there. It's me kinda squatting a bit. I say my lines, make minor costume adjustments and get on the other side of the desk and say some lines and wham, I am done. Later in post I added phone noises and (most clever of all) I add the signs you see on the walls. 2 Public Access rules signs and an exit sign on the door. I added them in with Photoshop. With all this in place I make fun of how public access works and what they show. Frankly I'm surprised I haven't been killed yet.

8.) "Mailbox Walk" was shot more than a year later the previous sketch. Ever lived in the country? If so then you know how far it can be to your mailbox. Chris walks to the mailbox to see if the show was accepted for broadcast. Most of this sketch was shot in the same 50 foot area in the back of my house. We just moved back to the beginning of the yard and shot the next walking scene. I intercut some shots of Chris' shoes walking to merge the pieces together. In one scene Chris takes out his phone (I am the one calling in the sketch). I inserted the ring tone in post. I made the tone low until he pulls it out of his pocket. It worked real good. There is another scene where he is mowing but to get the effect to work right I added in the noise so I could fade in on it. When Chris walks up to the mailbox and opens it we simply put the camera into the mailbox. It looks pretty cool.

9.) The last sketch in the episode "Worry More" was my effort to just get the damn episode finished. Chris and myself had talked and talked about how we were going to move the episode along after "Mailbox Walk" (and earlier, "Submitting The Show"). We could never agree and get going on shooting some more 'lead in - lead out' sketches so one day I decided to just DO SOMETHING. I shot this extremely long sketch that wasn't all that funny. Even in it's trimmed down state it still isn't that funny. The premise was that I sent in the show but accidentally sent in "Females Gone Insane: Spring Break Edition" in it's place. I then use a prop to time travel and stop myself from sending it. The parts that are cut out are a waking up scene, a elongated visit to the toilet scene, some lines I say to Chris while I am getting ready to put the tape in the envelope, and some dialogue I have with my self at the end of the sketch. Much to my surprise when I was finished editing this sketch it filled in the rest of the episode and then some.

Friday, September 3, 2010

According To Whim: Episode 2 FAQ

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)


Episode 2: Indenture -------------------------------------------------

Air Date: May 2005
Production Start Date: February 2004
Production End Date: May/June? 2004
Revisions?: Very few if any. Minor spelling error correction for broadcast.



Sketch 1: "Comedy-Tron 2000".
Sketch 2: "Wagons Ho! Nathan sits atop heavy equipment reenacting old western movies.
Intro: Speedy writing with hand written titles.
Sketch 3: "Channel 46 Mayoral Race 1". The start of the Fort Worth race for Mayor.
Sketch 4: "If You Listen To NPR You Know There's Truth Here" An NPR sketch (Windows media download).
Sketch 5: "Channel 46 Mayoral Race 2" Lewis Cannon's first ad.
Sketch 6: "Weekly 'Poor' Report" A Channel 46 News report.
Sketch 7: "Channel 46 Mayoral Race 3" Greenly Meadows' first ad.
Sketch 8: "Temp Worker" Nathan, a hard working lad meets Mr. ass-head.
Sketch 9: "Channel 46 Mayoral Race 4" Lewis Cannon ad.
Sketch 10: "Chris' 5 Minute In-Camera Edited Sketch" The name says it all.
Sketch 11: "Channel 46 Mayoral Race 5" Greenly Meadows ad.
Sketch 12: "Did You Wash Your Hands?" Nathan catches Chris outside the restroom.
Sketch 13: "Channel 46 Mayoral Race 6" Lewis Cannon ad.
Sketch 14: "Channel 46 Mayoral Race 7" Greenly Meadows ad.
Sketch 15: "Every Customer We Have Ever Experienced" (Windows media download).
Sketch 16: "Channel 46 Mayoral Race 8" Lewis Cannon ad.
Sketch 17: "Channel 46 Mayoral Race 9" Greenly Meadows ad.
Sketch 18: "Hello, My Name Is ID 2" Chris' turn to meet his creative side.
Sketch 19: "Mayors Race Results" Greenly Meadows has to read this bit of depressing news.



Nathan's Notes:

1.) The majority of this episode was easy to finish, but it was just a few little things that kept this episode from being completed as quickly as the first. In this episode I kinda got what I envisioned for the show; a series of quick sketches, not as many long drawn out sketches (like the ones Chris likes). His balance of longer, more dialogue oriented sketches is balanced by my sillier, shorter stuff. Episode 2 is more of my kind of stuff.

2.) The opening of this sketch is a mixture of very short stuff culled over a few months time. First off you see the Comedy-Tron 2000. This is a series of bitmaps I made in Windows Paint then added sound effects. The sounds you hear are all me. I distorted my voice with GoldWave to achieve the humming, buzzing, and computer sounding voice.

3.) In "Wagons Ho!" I am sitting on a series of tractors located in a huge area in North Fort Worth. There were so many that I decided to shoot myself sitting on each one and uttering that line. The final it is Chris sitting in my mom's car (on our trip to my family's lake place in Mexia) and filming a can of Diet 7up and a can of Dr. Pepper. Chris then remarks that "one of us is having fun" then next is a shot of a car passing us while Chris is zooming in on it.

4.) The opening credits feature a hand (mine) drawing the credits in super fast motion. I did this by setting the camera tripod on the desk and pointing it down and drawing normally. Then I sped the footage up in Adobe and also placed some title screens on top of the footage that had funny sayings at the bottom like: "No batteries required", "Made with 100% more cats" etc...

5.) The 2004 Mayoral Race sketches came naturally as we brainstormed for ideas for sketches to do while sitting at a desk. It had been my idea (or want) to do news sketches and somewhere along the lines we decided to do a race for Fort Worth mayor using the newscasters. Chris (created the name and) became Lewis Cannon (say the name 3 times fast and you will get the joke) and I became Greenly Meadows. O.K. Greenly Meadows isn't as funny a name as Lewis Cannon, but I got the idea from a screenplay Miguel wrote where the name of the main character was Nick Meadows. I just thought adding a 'greenly' infront of Meadows would make it a bit funnier. This intro sketch is perhaps the most important to pay attention to in all the Mayoral Race sketches since it sets up the big joke for the end. Also you will notice the name Collin Allcars as the campaign manager. Collin Allcars, get it?

6.) I am not really proud of this next sketch (in my acting that is). The joke of the sketch is great. NPR annoys me. It annoys me alot. Don't get me wrong, I like NPR a good part of the time. I just hate the way those guys are just so great. What false humility! Anyway it seems if you work on NPR you either have a strange name or speech problem. This was the basis if this sketch. I did this adlib and you can tell! I was reading this 'abandoned' letter (see the info for episode one where I talk about the 'abandoned music company') and all the while I am trying to make up the dialogue. Oh well. Anyway you might notice that although NPR turns me down and suggests I get a speech impediment I do infact have a speech impediment. Oh well, you can't write Shakespeare all the time. Anyway we shot this in like 4 minutes in that 'abandoned' place I spoke of earlier. It was right there at the mailbox wall, right next to the room Chris shot his copier and postage machine sketches in (from episode 1).

7.) The first mayoral ad is Lewis Cannon's civil introduction. He played it fairly straight and soon you see the real Lewis Cannon (jerky head movements and all) appear in the next few sketches. The real problem we had shooting these and the regular news segments (we shot them all in the same night) were twofold; my dog Auggie (RIP) was barking all night and you can often hear him in the backyard yapping away and we were going to try blue screen so we had to do a lot of overlighting (and it still didn't work) and the picture looked crappy.

8.) The Weekly 'Poor' Report was intended to be in each episode. This seemed like a great way to take up some time with no actual footage being shot. I simply took pictures with the video camera and edited them in Photoshop. I removed and added windows, duplicated walls and signs, and changed features so no one could 100% for sure name the buildings. (if you are curious you can find these buildings off I-35 in North Fort Worth). I then did a voice over and couldn't think of a good line and stole some of a line from the Truman Show; "Good evening, and good night."

9.) Greenly Meadows makes his bid for Mayor of Fort Worth in a very civil tone. My glasses had no lenses and there is a earbud in ear for that 'official' newscaster look. I am also wearing a white shirt and a tie (with shorts underneath). Let me say now that I am NO actor. I don't pretend to be. These lines (that Chris wrote) were very hard for me to remember. Many times I simply had to look down at the lines infront of me. It was very bad. But hey, this is public access!

10.) "Temp Worker" was Chris' brain child (as you can tell from the reams of dialogue). Chris and I went to Mexia one day in 2004 (I can't remember when) and we decided to shoot some stuff down there. We got a goodly amount of stuff done that day and this was the big one. I was in the middle of working on this run-down mobile home so Chris came up with the idea of a real punk who has come to work for a temp service even though it is way beneath him.

11.) O.K. Things get just slightly less than civil in this Lewis Cannon ad. For Chris' costume we used my stepdad's old suit, Chris' hair pulled back, and the Greenly Meadow's glasses. Lewis is also brandishing a hypodermic needle to show the tools of Greenly's trade. This is one I think I got from my vet for the dogs.

12.) One of the more creative, less technology reliant ideas for the show was the edited-in-camera sketch. This is Chris' and we assumed I was going to do one myself but for some reason I never did. We see Chris come up with some stuff totally on his own here.

13.) In the next installment of Greenly's political ad has a bit of an interesting blooper to go with it that you might never see. You see, Chris and myself are writing these sketches pretty much as we are doing them. I would be infront of the camera and Chris would be in the bedroom on the computer writing more to bring out to me. Well this one bit of dialogue was written by me but I had kinda forgot about it. All that night I was having a hard time keeping a straight face and remembering my lines so I was pretty much looking down at the paper then reading my lines right off of it in a news anchor type fashion. The bit started out very serious then right in the middle of it I say something like: "Lewis Cannon eats babies for breakfast..." Well, I forgot I wrote that bit and I was all serious and such then I started to read that bit and exploded in laughter right in the middle of this serious stuff. I couldn't stop laughing. I lifted the line wholesale from Balckadder 2.

14.) "Did you wash your hands" came out of a true story that Miguel told us once. Apparently Miguel does not wash his hands after he goes to the restroom and once he got called out for it by some stranger. The exact wording was different I believe, but the short sketch was pretty much as it happed. The room Chris walks out of is actually an empty office (in that abandoned place) and I simply added a toilet flush in post.

15.) Now the ads are starting to get nasty. The gloves are really coming off and this sketch provided another blooper bit. Chris found that Lewis Cannon does a lot of jerky sort of movements. It's rather funny (not in a 'turretts way' sort of funny) and gets laughs. Well Chris decides to break up one of his lines with one of these exaggerated movement and I wasn't expecting it. I of course blew the scene with my laughing and we reshot.

16.) "Every customer we ever experienced" was our attempt to immortalize our dying shop. Chris and Myself owned and operated a small (very small) comic/collectible shop in West Fort Worth. You can read all about it in Shop Week by starting here. We wanted to shoot something there before we ditched the business. The idea for this sketch formed itself from years of retail experience. We wanted to capture that and the customers we have had in the shop as well. I played the customer and Chris the shopkeeper. Everything that happens in that sketch had happened in that shop (well, except the hat flying off the guy's head). At the beginning of the sketch there is something on the computer screen that can been seen for only a second as I walk in the shop. Chris can go into more detail about it. For one scene where time is passing slowly I used 3 (or 4) layers of footage and laid them ontop of each other in Premier and had them run to the tick tocking of a clock to denote the passage of time. The effect was a little on the dark side but it worked fairly well. For some odd reason before we were done with this sketch we got the urge to do something wacky. So we reshot the scene where the customer asks what the price of a high-dollar item is. When he is told his hat shoots off and he exclaims; WHAT!? This was greatness. We simply stapled a string to my hat and Chris got on the counter top and yanked it at the right time. To make the illusion better I used a crude split screen to obscure the string tight before the pull to. I was so great that we used it in the intro to the show for episodes 0 and 6.

18.) Lewis Cannon shoots the first nuke in the all out final segment of his mayoral run. Chris wanted us to act like wrestlers in these final bits.

19.) Next Greenly Meadows gets nasty. I remember Chris making me redo this bit and had me act more mean. I also remember I had to redo this bit over and over again because I could not get the line right; "Who's calling who second best man?!"

20.) "Hello, my name is ID 2" was a bit more accomplished than the first attempt. This time Chris spoke with his creative side. In several shots you can clearly see me reflected in the window behind Chris. Oops. I also had to slow down several of Chris' reaction shots to match his other self's dialogue. You can notice this by the flickering effect you can see in the miniblinds behind the original Chris. The part of the sketch where one of the Chris' sets down the Dr. Pepper and the other one picks it up, all in one shot, is fantastic. I honestly don't know how I did it. I mean, I could if I really thought out how the effect was accomplished, but I just can easily figure it out. I must have been some of that split screen trickery I was becoming so good at.

21.) The final sketch in the mayoral race is the punch line to the joke in the first mayoral sketch. After all this junk both candidates loose and their campaign manager wins. Ho ho ho. The voice at the beginning of the sketch is mine but slowed down a little bit.