Monday, February 28, 2011

Living My Life At Work And Other Junk (Part 1/4)

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

This is a record of my attempts to bring more to my work than just an eight hour day of
do-nothing. This mindset has caused me great grief over the years. If I had been a normal work-a-day employee I might just go though life satisfied and resigned that work meant work and nothing more. The problem is that back in the day I got into a job that got me off on the wrong foot. Enjoy this 4 part story where I not only go into my main theme but where I do some strolling down memory lane.

Let's jump in that good ol' time machine...Let’s start off at my first security job. The first real job where I had time to do what I wanted to do while at work. In 1994 I got a job with a Dallas based contract security company. This was after Kmart while I was living with my roommate Barrett in a small apartment complex off of Camp Bowie in West Fort Worth. The job would allow me to keep from having to move back home. One of my first posts was the Water Gardens Place office building in downtown Fort Worth. It was actually right on the South East edge of downtown. Situated right across the street from the Water Gardens it provided me with a job as well as a mini adventure. I worked there on the graveyard shift during the weeknights and daytime during the weekends.

My job was to sit on a hard stool at a wooden podium in the little lobby and tour the building and grounds every so often. The lobby had glass walls and doors on each side of the lobby (facing South and North). The North doors faced the Water Gardens. Behind my podium was the building management office and ahead were the elevators and a hall with more offices. Once every hour or so I was to tour the building, checking doors to make sure they were locked and to walk the perimeter of the building. I would begin by taking the elevator to the top floor (seven stories I believe) and work my way from one stairwell across each floor to the other stairwell.

The building was very old and the elevator made you seriously consider walking up to the top instead of riding it up. They didn’t trust us (security) enough with actually giving us the key to the suites so I couldn’t go into any of the offices (yet). I remember that the fifth (or so) floor was really dark. The lights were small sconces on the walls that hardly gave off any illumination. It would really creep me out and I made my way across this floor in record speed each tour. This floor was used as conference rooms for the City of Fort Worth so it was hardly ever occupied. I also remember that I would get shocked each time walked that floor as well. The carpet was real thick and I dreaded touching the door knobs. After clearing all the floors I moved down stairs into the parking garage then back up and out around the building. I slowed down my tour since it was somewhat enjoyable to walk around outside. The Water Gardens had (and still does) a problem with grackles. These black birds flew to and inhabited the gardens at night. They were so loud and it lasted all night long. The city has tried get rid of them with shotgun blasts and fake screeching owls but it has never really worked. I would walk the perimeter of the building looking around at the Marriott hotel and the gardens as well as the rest of the city skyline. All this got a little boring after awhile so I turned to reading books. I had joined the Science Fiction Book Club and had all sorts of books coming in. I started reading in earnest. I got to the point where I would finish a book in 2 or 3 nights. I read several Star Wars books during this time.

In the middle of the night (early morning actually) around 4 am I would hear a loud crashing noise. It would happen each morning at four - never fail. I am sure it must have been some sort of air conditioning unit or something like that starting up or something. It sounded like someone tipping over a large filing cabinet on the floor above the lobby. I never found out what that was nor did I want to know. Between books when I would feel like taking a break from reading my tours would take on a more adventurous theme. I would start trying my key in the locks of each of the offices. I actually got it to work (with some jiggling) on several suites. I found a therapist office and an entire empty floor. All in all it was a fun job. I say that now but you know how it is, you usually see the past through rose colored glasses. During the later days of working this post Barrett moved to Missouri and I roomed with my high school friend Eric for a bit. Soon I found myself living back at home in Joshua.

I worked for just a bit longer at this post. The security company had another hole to fill at a different post and I was about to be transferred. This next post would last me almost seven years and I would really begin to 'live life at work'.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Durandatory Duran – Abandoning What Isn’t Working

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

There are so many things I like about Duran Duran, and some are obvious like their music, the lyrics, the videos, and whatever else you might like about any other band you like. One of the less obvious is that every time I get to looking at Duran Duran stuff online, I find something that I’ve never heard or seen before. Sometimes it’s just an interview from some European show that I would have been hard pressed to ever have seen before the internet, sometimes it’s a b-side I knew existed but never found in a store, sometimes it’s a remix someone did, and a surprising number of times it has been a song I didn’t even know existed.

I’m going to take a weird creativity process/almost self-help direction with this in a little bit, so if you’re interested in that just give me a moment while I speak to my fellow Duranies for a moment.

I got into Duran Duran around “Seven and the Ragged Tiger” though I was already familiar with them, but “Union of the Snake/Secret Oktober” was what prompted me to buy an album finally. I soon owned the first three albums, and a borrowed copy of “Arena” that I had to give back eventually. When I heard Arcadia’s “Election Day” I was in the car with my parents, and I said, “That sounds like Simon Le Bon,” and I was right. I soon owned “So Red the Rose” as well. On Vinyl. Which was a good thing, because every cassette version I ever found would become screwed up, I’m guessing because the cassettes were not well constructed and wore out quicker than most cassettes.

I could go on and on about my history of listening to Duran Duran, because I’ve been there all along starting in 1983, even when I was slow to get an album, and even when they released “Thank You.” But I’m going to stop at the next piece of history for now, and deal with where it led for me. I found a used paperback book called “Duran Duran” by Toby Goldstein. I bought it, and I read it. It was a pretty good book actually. It was fluff, and it concentrated on things that were stereotypically female-centric, like what they wore when the performed for the Queen and how devoted they were to their girlfriends, except Nick of course who was the ladies man. But aside from that kind of PR kind of writing, the book had some truly interesting facts in it. For instance, they spent about 1,000 in the studio working on “Seven and the Ragged Tiger.” That put a weird perspective in my head about the kind of work professional musicians put into their albums. More about that in a bit, but the other thing in that book was a discography that spans only to Arena, and as I found out, was somewhat incomplete anyway. I became obsessed with the fact that there were b-side tracks like “Secret Oktober” except that I hadn’t heard them.

What I like about Duran Duran is that I finally got hold of a copy of “To the Shore” years later, not because I found the original single, but because they put it on a CD single of “Come Undone.” “To the Shore” song is every bit as amazing as I imagined it would be when I saw it listed in that book.

But Duran Duran didn’t stop there. One day I was looking on You Tube and found out that there was a seventeen track collection of “Astronaut” demos, which Nathan got a copy of, and I’ve spent many happy hours listening to.

But there’s more. I keep finding things. An early demo of “Do You Believe in Shame” with very different lyrics. And then I found out about some collection of five songs that they never completed. They were from the same general time period as “Liberty” but I don’t think any of the songs were worked on for Liberty. There was a quote from John Taylor saying that he had forgotten that they recorded some of the tracks, and was kind of excited by hearing them, even though they were incomplete. Really, John? You were excited? How do you think I feel? Well, it’s probably just excited in a different way.

What I guess I wonder is why they were never completed. So I started speculating a bit. The first thing that occurred to me is to ask myself why I have incomplete projects, but that was insufficient as an answer because with me it’s a total lack of focus. But Duran Duran, coming up on their 30th year as a major label band, and longer as a working band. They have the passion and the focus. They set out to be one of the biggest bands in history, and they succeeded. They then set out to be interesting and relevant for years beyond their initial success, and I believe they succeeded there too.

So how do songs not get completed? “Dream Nation” is an entire song, but it’s just a demo. It’s a good song. Listening to the demo for “Do You Believe in Shame” you can see that each had to have the same potential in the eyes of the band. But “Do You Believe in Shame” was completed and released.

I’m not even saying that these songs had to be album tracks, but even to have completed them as potential b-sides would make sense to me as an outsider. I have to guess that they just weren’t excited by the songs, or were more excited by other songs. Or that maybe they understand the self-help mantra of priority, and decided that if not to be used as an album track or a b-side, then not to waste time developing them. Who knows how many songs they never even recorded as quick demos over 30 plus years. They spent 1,000 hours after all on “Seven and the Ragged Tiger” and I’ve heard at least one incomplete demo, which was meant to be the title track, from that session. After 1,000 hours, why not spend another 100 hours trying to perfect a track that wasn’t working? The only answer I can think of to that question is only reasonable in hindsight when years and years later it would be nice to see how these songs would have turned out. But in the moment, I’m sure that doesn’t seem reasonable at all.

But I love Duran Duran for letting these incomplete tracks be made available to their fans. Most of these songs are good even as demos, and on some level maybe it’s even better to try to imagine how they would have turned out, rather than just hear it.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Flash Ahhhh!: Episode Eight – Hella Cool Helipad

by the According To Whim .com crew

(Part One by Nathan Stout)

[INT - SAFE HOUSE - NIGHT]

(After finishing up every crumb of his freeze-dried meal, Nathan joins Paul, Angelina, Miguel, and a somewhat put-out Chris in Paul’s home theater.)

PAUL: I have a ten-minute lost Star Wars Episode 6 segment that I was given by George Lucas himself that I thought we could all relax to.

MIGUEL: Excuse me.

(Miguel steps out to the restroom to clean up.)

CHRIS: That’s fine and dandy, but could you explain what’s going on with me, the government, and such?

PAUL: All in good time.

(Chris huffs and sits back in his chair.)

MIGUEL: Ok, I’m good, let’s do this.

PAUL: Excellent. Angelina, could you start the footage please?

(The screen lights up. On the screen, a young George Lucas moves in front of the camera, talking to one of the actors.)

MIGUEL: Excuse me.

(Angelina pauses the film while Miguel steps out again.)

CHRIS: At this rate, we will be here all night. Can you at least tell me how you knew about me and the government guys?

PAUL: Well, you haven’t been exactly blending into the background. A speed freak, that’s what they call your kind, is big news. I have friends planted all over the place... building managers, investment brokers, building management investment brokers. You name them. I know them.

MIGUEL: Ok, sorry about that.

(The footage starts up again, and someone switches on a light sword. Nathan quickly leans into Miguel’s ear and whispers to him.)

NATHAN: Margaret Thatcher, naked, on a cold day.

MIGUEL: Nope.

(The film stops again and Chris turns back to Paul.)

CHRIS: I don’t understand. What use can someone who is speedy be to someone like you?

(From far off there is a loud noise. Angelina yells from the projection room.)

ANGELINA: Ut oh! Looks like we have company!

NATHAN: Good thing Miguel isn’t here.

PAUL: Someone broke the lock?

ANGELINA: Quick, follow me.

(Angelina moves towards the screen and presses a concealed button. The screen moves aside.)

ANGELINA: Quick, on the elevator. We need to get to the roof.

(Everyone moves onto the elevator. It quickly moves up, and a hatch opens onto the roof.)

ANGELINA: Quick, onto the helipad.

(There is a glass helicopter pad at the end of a somewhat tall flight of stairs on top of the safe house. How we missed seeing this earlier is anybody’s guess.)

NATHAN: There’s no helicopter here.

PAUL: Not to worry. I have a pal that works for Re/Max. He is ballooning in as we speak.

(There is a ruckus below and several people in black move onto the roof. One of them is in a wheelchair.)

CHRIS: Look what the cat dragged in cause it couldn’t walk on its own?

NATHAN: THAT was in very poor taste.

(The professor looks up at the group on the glass helipad.)

PROFESSOR: Come down, Chris.

CHRIS: Come up.

NATHAN: Ouch.

PROFESSOR: Fine.

(The professor’s wheelchair rockets up off the roof to everyone’s astonishment. Its boosters shoot it about ten feet higher than it needed to. It lands hard on the helipad. Bolts pop, and metal snaps, as the stairs fall away. The whole twenty by twenty foot helipad wobbles on its middle pole support.)

PAUL: I knew I shouldn't have had the helipad waxed yesterday.

(Everyone slides from one end of the pad to the other. The professor’s wheels are locked, but he slides as well. Everyone lets out gasps and shouts as they slide about, trying to keep away from the professor who is now wielding a syringe of something.)

NATHAN: Eeeeeee.

PAUL: Ohhhhhhhhhh.

ANGELINA: Uuuurrrmmmmm.

(Everyone slides back and forth, trying to stay on their feet, everyone getting dangerously close to the edge time and time again. The g-men below are mesmerized and don't seem to move.)

PAUL: Everyone try to spread out, don't group up, balance the pad!

(Everyone tries to spilt apart, and slowly the rocking decreases. The bending metal noises subside.)

PAUL: Good, good. Now don’t move.

(Everyone is standing, legs and arms spread out, with the exception of the professor.)

NATHAN: Ouch.

(End of Part One)

(Part Two by Chris McGinty)

[EXT – NIGHT – HELIPAD]

(The group stands very still on the helipad. The professor keeps his wheelchair very still.)

PAUL: Ok, what is our situation here?

NATHAN: We’re currently standing atop the safe house on a freshly waxed, and horribly slippery, helipad. To make matters worse, all the supports have broken making it nothing more than a potential death trap like a Chess board balanced on a pencil that if toppled could easily kill, maim, or at the very least pin the pieces, in this case living human beings that are us, below the shattered debris of the helipad.

PAUL (sighing): That’s what I thought. So it’s pretty bad and probably can’t get much worse.

CHRIS: Can I interject?

PAUL: Unless Chris has something to interject that will make matters worse.

CHRIS: We seem to have a commercial break coming up?

NATHAN: A what? A commercial for what? We have no sponsors.

CHRIS: For next week’s episode.

NATHAN: How could one writer possibly know what is going to happen next week when this week isn’t finished?

(A set of string instruments play at tense leading out music and the scene fades to black.)

[INT – NIGHT – COMMERCIAL BREAK]

(Things are intense in this week’s episode of…)

CHORUS: Flash Ahhhh!

(It makes the viewer wonder how the writer will resolve the situation. There are so many different possibilities. He or she could find an ingenious way for the characters to solve their own problem. He or she could drop down the Machine of God (Dues Ex Machina) to get the characters out of the predicament through means that are not devised by the characters. He or she could just let the helipad fall killing everybody off and creating an unsatisfying end to…)

CHORUS: Flash Ahhhh!

(But what would be the fun in that? And besides. The writer of Part One thought that he or she might throw the writer of Part Two a curve ball by writing Part One of the next episode already. Why don’t we look at a few choice scenes? The screen changes to see the following segment of Episode Nine.)

(Chris is standing in the midst of g-men, when the professor rolls up.)

PROFESSOR: Now enough of this nonsense. Would you please come with me?

CHRIS: Whatever.

(So we see that Chris survives! And so does the professor… eh. And what about this scene?)

(There is a sudden loud crash on the top of the van. Sparks fly inside around the perimeter and the roof suddenly flies away.)

PROFESSOR: Christ!

(Angelina soars down into the van and kicks the professor’s wheelchair. The back doors of the van pop open. The ramp and the professor slide out. The ramp extends down to the road, and the professor rolls off doing sixty on the freeway.)

ANGELINA: Shut up if you want to live.

(Chris begins to open his mouth to protest that he wasn't going to say anything anyway since what he just witnessed was about the coolest thing he’d seen since the helipad incident. Angelina drops coiled rope around him to his waist. Agent 2 stares in disbelief at what just happened.)

(So we see that Angelina survives, and that there was a reason to survive given this mysterious “helipad incident” that the writer of Part Two must figure out. We also see that the professor can’t pronounce “Chris.” And then there is always the matter of this scene.)

(Chris doesn’t get to finish what he was saying because he is yanked bodily out of the open van roof into the darkness.)

NATHAN: THAT was the coolest thing I have seen all day!

(Nathan was tugging Chris into the balloon’s basket).

CHRIS: What about the helipad?

NATHAN: My eyes were closed for most of that.

(Here we see that we have no answers about the “helipad incident” except that Paul’s buddy from Re/Max, who may or may not be named Dudley, must have arrived with the balloon, provided of course that this isn’t a different, entirely unrelated balloon. We see too that the writer of Part Two, whoever he or she is, has quite a chore to get from where we left off to where we will pick up next week on…)

CHORUS: Flash Ahhhh!

[EXT – NIGHT – HELIPAD]

(Paul looks at Chris.)

PAUL: Sucks to be you.

CHRIS: Thanks. Ok, I have an idea, but it’s going to take everyone listening to me.

NATHAN: Oh, not this “listen to Chris” nonsense…

CHRIS: Would you rather take your chances with the helipad sliding off the building and potentially killing, maiming, or pinning us under the debris?

NATHAN (sulkily): No…

CHRIS: So everyone agrees to listen to me to the most minute detail?

EVERYONE: Yes!

CHRIS: Ok, Angelina, I need you to flash your boobs.

ANGELINA: I’ll take my chance with the killing, maiming, or pinning us under the debris in that case.

CHRIS: Ok, nevermind. I just now thought of another plan that might work. But it’s good to know that you don’t value our lives. Ok, something Nathan said before the commercial break got me to thinking. What we have here is merely a Chess board balanced on a turtle.

NATHAN: I said pencil.

CHRIS: Fine. Fine. But we’re not listening to you right now. We’re listening to Chris.

NATHAN: I’m starting to agree with Angelina about the killing, maiming, or pinning us under the debris.

CHRIS: As an expert on the game of Chess…

NATHAN: Wait, wait. How is it that I’ve known you all this time, we’ve played so many games, and I don’t know this about you?

CHRIS (clears throat): As an expert on the game of Chess, I will instruct us with moves that will bring us all safely to the center of the helipad, where we can wait safely until Paul’s friend from Re/Max, who may or may not be named Dudley, can get here with the balloon.

PAUL: His name is Dentre, like the street that houses the old Munchie Shak.

CHRIS: Cool. We’ll worry about that when Dudley gets here. Paul, I’m going to need you to move behind the professor.

(Paul starts to move.)

NATHAN: Wait! Paul don’t!

(Suddenly the helipad starts to shift the wrong way, and everyone finds themselves starting to slide on the waxy slick surface.

EVERYONE: Ahhhh!

(Paul manages to get enough of a foothold to get back to the point were the helipad balances.)

NATHAN: Chris!

CHRIS: What!

NATHAN: I didn’t remember you knowing how to play Chess, so I read your mind. Do you realize what you were doing?

CHRIS: Yeah! Once Paul was behind the professor, we would flip the professor over, and he would be on our side.

NATHAN: You’re thinking of Othello!

CHRIS: Oh yeah! You’re just mad that I always beat you.

NATHAN: Admittedly.

CHRIS: Ok, I got this. Chess is the one with the pawns, knights, Rooks, Rands, Lunks, and Annies.

NATHAN (rolling his eyes at Chris’s stupidity): You forgot the king and queen.

CHRIS: Oh right, Scott and Lancer.

(Nathan sighs very heavily. The helipad moves slightly, signaling that he should avoid excess exhaling for now. Chris, now knowing what the hell game he is playing, starts to move everyone to the center of the helipad in a precise fashion that even impresses Nathan. Once they’ve made it to safety, they can’t all help but hug and laugh. Even the professor joins in this elated celebration.)

PROFESSOR: I’m so happy to be alive, but for purposes of full disclosure, I will still come back to try to hippie-nap Chris.

CHRIS: It’s understandable.

(Suddenly they hear footfalls on the stairway.)

PROFESSOR: Wait, my g-men/government agents were ordered to stay in the rape van, or whatever it’s called, so who is coming up the stairs?

MIGUEL (his voice coming from the stairway): I’m ready to see some more of that amazing lost Star Wars footage, where did everybody go?

NATHAN: Oh dear lord!

CHRIS: Miguel! Don’t walk out on the helipad.

(Miguel walks out on the helipad.)

CHRIS: So much for everybody listening to Chris.

NATHAN: To be fair, he wasn’t out here when we agreed.

(The helipad immediately starts to shift. The group in the center holds tight hoping that their joint weight will keep them from sliding, but soon they feel the sliding begin. It’s right at that moment that they hear a voice yelling from above them. They all look up to see a Re/Max balloon approaching.)

CHRIS: Dudley!

PAUL: Dentre!

NATHAN: Dude!

ANGELINA: Daddy!

(Everyone looks at her.)

CHRIS: Really?

ANGELINA: No. Everyone was saying things that started with D. That’s the first thing that came to mind. I have daddy issues. And we’re still sliding, so this is no time to worry about that.

(Dentre lowers a rope. Paul is closest and goes first. Nathan is closest now and goes next. Now Angelina gets on the rope. Just as Chris is reaching for the rope the professor starts to roll. He grabs Chris and they go sliding along the helipad together. Miguel is captivated by the balloon, and is trying to figure out how he might get to ride on it. He doesn’t see Chris in the Professor playing bowling ball to his 7/10 split. They collide and the wheelchair rolls down the stairs with Chris and Miguel embracing in the professor’s lap… think Scooby-Doo as opposed to homo-erotic.)

CHRIS AND MIGUEL: Zoinks!

(They end up rolling down the stairs, into a hall, in and out of doorways in the hall in a crazy assortment of zany positions… again, think Scooby-Doo rather than homo-erotic.)

CHRIS AND MIGUEL: Zoinks again!

(Finally, they roll out of the house and find themselves standing in the middle of Agent 1, Agent 2, and Agent 3… you might as well think circle jerk. The agents are thinking it.)

MIGUEL: It’s so long and dangling!

CHRIS: What? Miguel!

MIGUEL: The rope from the balloon. If we grab it as it passes, we’ll be saved.

(The rope comes close enough, and Miguel grabs it. Chris reaches out, pushing the professor who goes rolling away. Before he has a grip on the rope, the agents grab Chris and throw him to the ground. Chris stands and looks up at the balloon floating away, and realizes that while he has somehow managed to reach the part where Episode Nine starts that it isn’t exactly the best circumstances.)

(End Episode Eight)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Season 2 ' The Fix' Part 6

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Welcome to the sixth part of the According To Whim Season 2 'Fix'. The editing I have been doing is in an attempt to rebuild Episodes 3, 4, 5, and 6 of our public access television show: According To Whim (Season 2). Season 3 Episode 1 was also lost so I have included it as well. You can read the first part (and the full story) by clicking on the links above. This will be the last part of 'The Fix' where I cover what's on the tapes.

Tape #20
This tape is full of more Hangman's House of Horrors that we shot on October 1st. This footage combined with the footage we shot on tape #17 is what we used to make this video, this video, and another video (as well as a private video used at the big end of year party).

Tape #21
This is one of the oldest tapes I have (which wasn't copied totally over). It has some footage of the Fort Worth Botanical Garden's 4th of July fireworks show, a taste test Chris and I did of some Halloween edition Jones Sodas, footage from my work (back when there were only 4 of us in the department total), some random footage of different things, and finally an audio only recording of an According To Whim audio show that Miguel was apart of.

Tape #22
This tape (along with #26) was footage of the Wither's wedding that Miguel and I shot in 2009. This was a co-worker's daughter's wedding that was the first big wedding we shot. We had audio issues with the large auditorium and it took us weeks to make it work well enough. Buying a proper wireless microphone is a goal of mine in the next year (at least before May and our interview with the owner of Hangman's). I wound up only talking like $150.00 on that fiasco. It looks good enough but that audio during the ceremony.

Tape #23
This is my most current tape. So far all that is on this tape is the Tron Vlog review Chris, Loren, and myself did. You can see it here.

Tape #24
This tape has some of the last Hangman's footage we shot (for the Super Bowl commercial). The other half of the tape is the last sketch Chris and I shot (a month or so back). It is titled 'Framed' and is mainly a special effects type sketch. I have no idea how it will turn out but I will give it my best. It was one of the 10 sketches in 10 weeks that was like 25 weeks late. I might be late but I get there in the end!

Tape #25
This whole tape is taken up with an According To Whim audio show that we filmed. Loren came over for a game night and we set up the camera and filmed it and talked at the same time. I doubt this would interesting to anyone except us (and then only slightly).

Tape #26
This is the 2nd tape of the Wither's wedding.

Tape #27
This is the 3rd tape of the Wither's wedding.

Tape #28
This tape contains Chris' first Vlog as well as some of the '10 sketches in 10 weeks' footage and an additional Vlog.

Tape #29
This is the 4th tape of the Wither's wedding.

Tape #30
This final tape has Hangman's interviews as well the Thrill the World event they put on.

This ends the long-needed review of the my tape collection. Now if you have not been paying attention you might wonder why in the heck I needed to do this. Well, in having to reconstruct Season 2 I needed to go back and retrieve the footage that got lost with the crashing of the hard drive. This was the first step in getting Season 2 back up and running. I needed to look at all the tapes and take off all the bits that were lost.

Join me for the next part of the Season 2 'Fix' when I continue with the editing process. Peace out.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Trainwreck Idol – So Many Contestants…

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

The second Hollywood Week show, Drama Week, is a little… What? Ok, officially it’s called Group Week. Group Week is a little tougher to take notes about. You have anywhere from 3 to 5,688 people on stage… Sorry, I think the biggest the group can be is five. It’s still hard to keep up with watching it through without pausing and running it back. I refuse to pause and run it back, unless I really like a performance, or I think I missed something really important. In other words, this won’t be very detailed. It will probably be missing names and other information.

One bit of information that is important to me is that at the start of the show there were still 168 contestants. Why? Oh yeah. No Simon.

They did some odd thing where they told them that each group had to have day one and day two contestants. They said it was because people had started to form groups on day one once they knew who was staying and who was going home. They seemed to think that it gave day one contestants an unfair advantage. What I don’t understand is why they don’t assign groups randomly. Oh yeah, because it’s not drama enough. But if you wanted to make it entirely fair for every group so that no one had a head start that would be the easiest way to do it.

And speaking of drama, Tiffany pissed everyone off with some comment she made in the previous Hollywood show. She basically got up and said that she was tired of listening to people do a poor job of what she could do well. I guess everyone thought she meant all of them (and maybe she did) and literally all the groups shunned her, and when she tried starting her own group, she only found one girl who was willing to join her. They had to make an exception for them to allow them to have a two person group.

Scotty just wouldn’t join anyone. I’m not even sure why. He would walk up to groups and ask them what song they were doing and sometimes ask them to sing, and then he’d go find another group. It did work out for him though.

There was a group called The Minors, who were all 16 and younger, and were working with their moms. The bit was kind of funny. One of the other groups was saying that having the moms helping them was an unfair advantage. They all get visited by a voice coach, so I’m not sure I get the complaint.

Rob, Chelsee, and Jacqueline were in a group together, and there was a big deal made about the fact that Nick wasn’t in the group. They had been pushing the “couple and the ex-couple” thing so hard by making them roommates and the only reason I wonder about this is because I thought they were all day two. Maybe they edited the show to show their acapella performances back to back, and it just looked that way.

I’m sorry to say that Ashley, the girl who wants to be Brittney Spears, didn’t make it through. Actually, I mean to say that I’m sorry that her boyfriend talked her down and convinced her to get back in the group. She made it through, and I don’t understand why.

Clint, who I was saying I was trying not to dislike because he looked like someone else, made a case for me to wonder about him. He got kind of diva about who could be in his group. He booted Jacee and didn’t want Scotty. There was a big deal made about it later in the show. Jacee joined group who had no day two contestant.

Then this guy name Jordan made an even better diva case than Clint. He was turning everyone away, and building what he thought was the best group, and then he left them and joined another group.

Then Steven Tyler gave the contestants the advice to, “Use your illusion.” ??? That’s not Aerosmith. He’s supposed to only be speaking in Aerosmith lyrics. Crazy.

Ok, real quick here just from my notes (as incomplete as they are).

Pia, Allessanda, and Brielle. Very good and all made it.

Jordan, Robbie, and three others all went through. They didn’t say the others, or I missed their names.

Adrian, Lauren, Turner, Erica, and Shane all through. They did C Lo Green’s “Fuck You.” Or rather the radio friendly version “Forget You.” It was pretty good. Later another group did the song, and the girl dropped the S-bomb (bleeped, of course.) Randy acted like he was surprised. There are so many potentially offensive phrases in that song. Really? You’re surprised?

Tiffany and Jessica both got sent home, and it wasn’t even just politics in this case. They didn’t sound good.

Then Steven Tyler pulled a Garth, and got behind the drum set. We’re not worthy?

Giovani and Karen made it.

Then an all girl group did, “Some Kind of Wonderful” singing it to Steven Tyler, and it was good, but only Lauren made it. No one else did. It was probably the call I most disagreed with the whole night.

Colton, Matt, and others. Not good. Only Colton made it.

Shannon, Briana, Janelle, Alyson, Caitlin, Paris, Emily, Courtney, and Aaron Guiterez all didn’t make it. They did that as a montage I think.

Ashley’s group made it, which means that Ashley, the girl who wants to be Brittney Spears, made it. *sigh* It was admittedly the best I’ve heard her sing the whole competition.

James, Emma, Danny, John, and Caleb. Only Caleb and James made it. I was disappointed about Emma. I admit she wasn’t the strongest singer in the competition, but I was hoping she would get further. Farther? Eh. Move on.

The Minors all made it. And they weren’t that good.

Hollie and Corey made it

Two different groups did an Acapella version of “Get Ready.” Eh. Neither performance was all that good. Many of them made it through though.

Brett, Jacee, Denise Stevie, and Natalie all made it through

Clint, Frances, Scotty, and Monique all made it. Scotty ended up crying because he didn’t stick up for Jacee when Clint was kicking him out.

Rob, Chelsee, and Jacqueline performed, and Rob got sent home. He should have never put himself in the position of having to work with his ex. He acted like a little bitch boy the whole time they were practicing, and then sounded awful when they got on stage.

And the last Hollywood Week. And I’m really trying to write a real article here, but I’ll probably skim through this too.

Two things: First, it doesn’t seem that this was the last Hollywood week, kind of. I’ll deal with that in a minute. Second, this was another solo week, but with the band behind them if they chose, and they could play an instrument too. Oh, and three… sorry, I have no real idea who went home. The following are just my opinions. I’ll explain more in a minute.

Haley forgot words in group? Why she still there? They always say, “Don’t forget the words or your out,” and then they always send someone through who forgot the words. She’s not bad, but I’m not sure I liked her performance.

Ashton was a girl who I don’t think has gotten any real screen time yet. I really liked her.

Thia was still really good

Adrian and Caleb both got lost in their words and Frances sounded bad.

Clint was not bad. It seemed a little over done this performance.

Kendra was ok.

Sophia was ok

Chris and Carson both did “My Prerogative.” Carson has the performance thing down. Chris seemed to sound good, but they barely played anything of his performance.

Julie was good.

Caleb was good.

Colton really good.

Brett was ok.

Robbie was ok. They were acting like he was better than I thought.

Casey is still my favourite for making it into Top 12. He played a standup bass, and Randy, being a bassist, was totally digging it. He played pretty well, and he still sings pretty amazing.

Jacqueline bowed out claiming sickness. I don’t even know what to say there.

Chelsee did “Because of You.” I love that song. It wasn’t as good as Kelly Clarkson, but it was ok. That’s something they talk about a lot. When you take on something that is done by a singer that is better than most, and you don’t do better than most, it makes it not sound so good.

Lauren was still really good.

Jacob… I think they didn’t show him until Hollywood weeks (like Ashton) and he’s quite good. I think he’s got a good chance of getting through to Top 12 I’m at least saying top 24 (if that’s what they’re doing this year).

John Wayne… I’ll say it was good but “Landslide” as country? I would never buy a single of anyone doing “Landslide” as a country song. And I said never, so when Martina McBride does it, and you’re going through my collection and there it is between Max Q and Sarah McLachlan, you just point at this paragraph. And be smug about it.

Ashley, the girl who wants to be Brittney Spears. Again with the falling apart… NOOOOOOO! She does not need to be in the competition.

Stefano was not at his best, but he sounded good

Jovanny Not this one. I don’t know what I meant by that.

Jacee was still good.

Scotty forgot the words to Leeann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance” and that’s ok, because I always think it’s Leeann Rimes. And I don’t know how Womack or Rimes spell Leeann. But the subtitles were hilarious as he screwed up the song. Tatanysa sounded good doing the same song… but those weren’t the lyrics. Her botched lyrics were at least closer than Scotty’s.

So they separated the mass quantity of contestants into four rooms, and told two rooms that they were going on to next week. I looked it up later and found out that since they still have sixty contestants they’re doing some odd something or another where they go to Las Vegas and sing songs of The Beatles… More Beatles!? They’ve done three Beatles theme nights already in past seasons! We already killed Michael Jackson! Do we need to do more damage?

Anyway, it means that there is another week before the actual competition starts. In fact, as soon as I post this, I will be watching this week’s shows for my Sunday post, and then I will be caught up.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

That ‘I need to do something with my life’ feeling

by Nathan Stout (of According To Whim.com)


It is getting to be that time again when I am starting to get that feeling that I need to do something with my life. I can’t tell you what that something is because I am not sure myself. I am not looking for fame or anything like that. There is just this feeling that I should be farther along in life than this. Most people my age already have some nice savings in the bank, less debt, and a real life goal. Now that goal might be something like ‘own a lake house’ or ‘be to all NBA post season games’ or something but at least those guys have something. I am not sure what I want to do.


The more I think about it I guess my leanings have been in the entrepreneurial field. I like having a business. One thing that makes me think twice about that as my goal is the fact that it’s not about making a profit. It seems to be more of a hobby thing. As you know by now Chris and I have had a business which included a comic book shop. It was a fun and fantastic experience (even for all its ups and downs).


A while back Chris and I discussed lifetime goals (along with our yearly and 10 weeks goals) and my goals were more along the lines of being healthy, wealthy, and happy. Everyone has this goal but there should be more than this, right? Some people are content to be the cogs in the machine and for the most part I am cool with that, however I get this nagging every once in awhile that I should be more than this. I have explored this theme in my script for Season 2. My character gives that same argument, being more than a cog in the great wheel of life.


I am pretty sure that one of Chris’ goals (besides being cool) is to be famous (to a degree). I have no issue with that. One of the reasons we are good friends is the fact that our wish to obtain something greater than ourselves and using things like goals to accomplish this align closely. They might be very different goals (when my goal actually shows its head) but they are close enough to work to our mutual advantage.


I have no wish to be uber famous. Somewhat famous (even locally) is cool with me. Is it a primary life goal of mine, nah. Being rich, that is a goal I like. My main goal wouldn’t need to be ‘be rich’ but it would be nice to be without need. Perhaps a better goal for me might be something like: ‘have enough money to live comfortably without the need for a job’.
Perhaps my goal is to have many smaller goals completed. Chris and myself came up with ‘lesser’ goals (but still big). They are more like five and ten year goals. I was a little more serious with my long term goals (like getting a 4 year degree) as opposed to Chris’ more flippant ones (like organizing a butts-up tournament). Maybe getting these goals are the goals I need to accomplish.

This sort of self review is an ongoing process and just the act of writing about my search for them is some progress towards them. As soon as I figure out what I want to do with my life, rest assured you will be reading about it here.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Trainwreck Idol – Too Much Work

by Chris "What's This Day Off of Which You Speak" McGinty (According To Whim .com)

I bet you’re like, “What? Are you saying it’s too much work to watch a show, make some notes, and write some thoughts about it? Slacker!”

Nah, dat ain’t whut ah mean. I’ve worked a lot of hours over the last so many weeks, and somewhere along the way the concept of a day off disappeared with my free time. I finally got a day off, and so I refrained from putting up a post for today so I could make it an American Idol article. I would have posted something else if I was called in. Luckily, I wasn’t.

This article will be devoted to the last audition show and the first Hollywood Week show, which were shown two weeks ago… my poor lack of a life.

We’ll start with the last audition show, which I saw about a week ago, and had very few notes about, but I almost wouldn’t mind skipping it. There were some good people who have proved to be worth sending through, but I was a bit tired of auditions, I think

The show started with some girl who has videos on You Tube named Inessa Lee. I decided I would have to look her up at some point. She did a shower video. Why not? Well, I did look her up later, and what I found was a little surprising. Her music isn’t good in the classic sense where you say, “Hey, this is good,” but more like you might try to defend a David Hasselhoff album if you were forced to in debate club. I think what surprised me is that she’s already starting a career on her own, and the fact that they told her no is a testament to the fact that they toughened up a little bit after those first couple of weeks, because they sent through some very mediocre to bad singers. And this girl fits the mediocre range

Then they did three in a row that got sent through. They did it really fast, and I just didn’t care enough to go through it to decide from little snippets what I think.

Stefano was good. I’m calling Top 12, but not as surely as I was about Casey last article. I almost said last week. But that was 12 days ago.

You know, I’m not even sure what city these auditions were in. I must have been very tired that day.

Clint was good, even if he reminds me of someone else who isn’t one of my favourite people in existence. I wrote that I was calling Top 12 for him as well in my notes. We’ll see.

Drew was this guy who came out in a Go-Bot outfit, and sang Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild.” It was amusing, but I think they said no to him. Then I saw the Autobot decal. Turns out he was a Transformer after all.

Then they did another montage of those who got through. They were wasting too much time on the crap

Julie was this girl from Columbia. She was very good. The judges were talking about her possibly winning. I’m not sure I think she was that very good. To be fair, if she makes it well into Top 12 then they were basically right. Who will win the competition is a very tough call really early on.

Emily was kind of Tanya Donnelly looking, but not as cute as Tanya Donnelly. Not saying that Emily isn’t cute, but I just have a thing for Tanya Donnelly. She had very odd voice. She’s a big maybe, as in maybe she could do well, but maybe she can’t go all the way.

James cried too much and I don’t know why he was sent through.

And now on to the first Hollywood Week. This was the week where they say, “You get one chance, and if we don’t like your performance, you’re out.”

Remember the first article I wrote about this mess? I said that it seemed to me they sent a lot of people through. Ryan started the show saying that there were twice as many contestants. He made it sound like it was because there was such an amazing amount of talent this year, but it’s because they didn’t have Simon saying phrases like, “No,” “No,” and No.” And occasionally, “No.”

I’m going to fly through this one. I’m just going to deal with who made it though Round One and who didn’t with very little commentary. Either next article, or the article after that, I will go back through my previous articles and see how my opinions have added up so far.

Who made it through:

Brett, Rachel, Thia, Casey (of course), Paris, James, Lauren (the blonde, there was a dark haired Lauren that I don’t think was on audition shows who made it too), Chris Medina (who I assigned a last name to because he’s named Chris, and may be the only Chris in the competition this year… strange), Jacee, Robbie, Hollie, Rob, Chelsee, Jacqueline (the one who is the girlfriend of the Nick guy who didn’t make it, there is a Jacqueline who didn’t make it) Scotty, Jackie, Jerome, Tiffany, Clint, Julie, the Gutierrez brothers (both) Molly, Emily, and Stefano. And I’m sure this list is missing people because I don’t see James anywhere and he made it through… still crying. Oh wait, he’s between Paris and Lauren on the list… still crying.

I’m sorry to say that Ashley, the girl who wants to be Brittney Spears, didn’t make it through. Actually, I mean to say that I’m sorry I can’t say that. She made it through, and I don’t understand why.

Victoria Huggins (the one I said reminded me of Yeardley Smith) didn’t make it. Neither did Stormi, Steve “Big Goon,” Sarah, Jacqueline, Heidi, Nick, or Travis.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Trip To The Hospital

By Nathan Stout (of According To Whim.com)

I work at a hospital. I have been here for five years and watched it grow from a 30 bed hospital to having over 100 beds (that means inpatient capacity). The place has really changed from a group of employees I (mostly) knew the names of to a mass of unknowns. Throughout the years I have been in every nook and cranny of this place working on a variety of things. I have always seen the 'inside view' of how a hospital operates.

This week I have gotten the 'outside view' for the first time. My wife came in to have an elective operation and I have been here (as a patient's husband) seeing quite a different side to something I thought I knew so well. I have been to hospitals for other family members and such but this is the first time I have been really involved in the whole process.

We woke at the ungodly hour of 5am to be there at 6am for pre-op. After checking in we went to the surgery area and waited for about twenty minutes until she was called to get ready for the surgery. Waiting in the surgery waiting area is one of the first times I have really spent more than ten seconds in that particular part of the hospital. Normally I'd just rush past this rather boring area but I wound up spending about four hours in there. unfortunately there was a man there talking to another guy for the majority of the time without the ability to regulate the volume of his voice. Let's just say I learned alot about hunting deer than I ever needed or wanted to know. My wife prepped for her surgery and me and her parents went back to wait some more until they took her off to the operation. They gave her some fantastic drugs and she didn't remember a thing after about three minutes after they administered them (until she woke up in post-op).

After the four hour wait we went up to her room on the 5th floor. Another bout of waiting and they wheeled her in. She looked pale and sickly. I guess I would look that way too if I was just cut on, intibated, and sewed back together. Once again I was on the outside looking in. I only ever had to go into patient rooms to work on the computers that are in the rooms. Now I was waiting on the nurses to get my wife settled in, take vital signs, chart, and give drugs. I do a lot of analyst work on the backside of all the programs the nurses work with and never really know how they are actually used. I got to see the work flow and how the people used the systems, hardware, etc. It was very eye opening.

When you have a job like retail for instance, you are working on the inside but everyone is on the outside of those kinds of jobs many times a week. When I worked at Target I didn't do my job, get off work and shop in the store, amazed by how people actually shop... duh. But hospital this experience gave me some valuable insight that will be useful in my everyday duties.

As a side note we had the misfortune of having scheduled the operation the day before another big freeze rolled into the North Texas area (the first coming the week before ruining the money making frenzy know as SuperBowl 45).

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Fame, Makes Chris Think Things Over

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

I had an odd thought the other night while I was attending a Duran Duran concert. (I’m writing my review for my column.) It had to do with fame and the modern age of technology. There is a belief now that pretty much anybody can be a celebrity of at least low level, minor caliber, because of the internet, blogging, and You Tube. Of course, all three of those are present in my life, and I’m still more known by people who have met me than by people who know me from my web presence.

What occurred to me was that even though it was an all-star thing with bands, football players, and a supermodel, the truth is that after the show I was waiting for the traffic to thin out, and I was looking at all the people who aren’t famous. No matter how prevalent the internet is, no matter how easy it is to self publish and post videos, there simply will always be people who are known in their circle of family of friends. Even notable people in a region, like a local band that has done well but hasn’t gone national or the owner of highly successful local business, are technically famous, but at a lower level.

The truth is that even among the famous involved in the show the levels of fame varied. I’m sure the football players are well known among football fans, but I didn’t know them. No one who I’ve talked to has known who the supermodel was, and while I now know that she is Marissa Miller, I had never heard of her before. I know who Jason Derulo is, but not everyone else seems to, and I couldn’t tell you who was in his band, or the names of the dancers. I know who Kid Rock is, but couldn’t name anyone else in his band. I know the four currently official members of Duran Duran, but I don’t know who else was playing with the band.

You’ve heard the math problem where you start with a penny and double it every day for a month, and at the end of thirty days you have $10, 737, 418. And 23 cents as well. Almost eleven million dollars. It’s too bad that interest on investments isn’t anywhere near that good.

What if you were to start with one person who knows who you are by name, sight, and reason for you fame, and then you double the amount every year for 30 years? You would have 1,073,741,823, or almost 1.1 billion, who you are famous too, and even with that crazy figure, after 30 years you would only be known by one-sixth of the population of the world. You would be famous. You would be successful. You would be amazingly wealthy. But can you name the president of Finland? While we’re at it, does Finland have a president? Fame is a very weird thing after all isn’t it?

By writing this, I’m not trying to squash anybody’s desire to be famous. I know that it’s not going to stop me from trying. I merely got to thinking about how fame works, and how it doesn’t work. It was eye opening. It didn’t thin out the traffic any faster, but at least I had something to ponder.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Flash Ahhhh!: Episode Seven – Seven and the Ragged…

by the According To Whim .com crew

(Part One by Nathan Stout )

[EXT - CAB - DAY]

(Miguel and Nathan sit in the back of a “Tidy Cab’ on the way to the CD shop where Chris and his entourage of G-men/kidnappers were last seen.)

NATHAN: What is this?

(Nathan whines out his question while trying to occupy the smallest place possible on the seat.)

MIGUEL: Try not to think about it.

(Miguel absently places his hand on the back of the front seat, and then jerks it away when he feels something stick to it.)

MIGUEL: Ewwww.

(The cab comes to a stop and Nathan’s window rolls down.)

LAWYER: Mr. Stout this is a cease and desist letter from the National Organization of Taxi Cab Drivers for the gross misrepresentation and stereotyping of taxi cabs.

(Nathan takes the paper and shoves it in his pocket. The cab drives on.)

NATHAN: I wonder what we are going to find when we get to this CD shop.

MIGUEL: I don’t know. I've haven’t bothered to write enough to know what a plot hole looks like.

NATHAN: Well, I should since I can’t write for crap and all I do is write plot holes, but I am still puzzled.

(The cab pulls up to shop. It looks somewhat normal. They both get out. Nathan pays the driver, who spits in his general direction and tears out.)

MIGUEL: Look!

(The shop looks fine, but when Miguel opens the door, it appears to be full of water. Objects seem to be floating in some sort of hazy mixture.)

NATHAN: I have seen this! Yep, this place is caught in a plot hole.

MIGUEL: I was expecting more of a hole. I was hoping to see a hole of some sort.

NATHAN: Well you would, wouldn’t you?

(A black van screeches into the lot. A hot chick in a leather jumpsuit gets out of the passenger side with some sort of grappling hook gun device. She shoves past Miguel and Nathan, and stands in the doorway.)

WOMAN: Out of my way fanboys.

(She aims and shoots the gun at Chris. The hook end grabs him, and she yanks him out of the soupy mess of plot hole time.)

CHRIS: Wha?

WOMAN: If you want to live, then you better come with me.

CHRIS: Let me think about thisok.

(Chris answered so quickly after seeing the hot chick that he didn't even have time to properly finish his sentence.)

WOMAN: Come on.

(Chris sees the astonished Nathan and Miguel for the first time.)

CHRIS: Hey! Nice to see you, but I have to go.

NATHAN: Can we go too? Pleeeeasssse.

WOMAN: No. Not in a million years, pimple boy.

CHRIS: You have to take them too, or I won't come with you in a million years.

(Chris looks surprised to have said this.)

WOMAN: Fine. If you must.

(Chris realizes that he didn’t actually say it, and glares at Miguel. They all get in the van, and it tears out, much in the same way the cab did.)

CHRIS: Now this is a van I could get raped in. Much nicer indeed.

WOMAN: What?

CHRIS: I didn’t really want to bring them along, but I guess they will just have to watch while you ravish me.

(Miguel and Nathan start hopping up in down in their seats in excitement.

WOMAN: Not in a million years.

CHRIS: Come on... it’ll be greeeeeaaaat. I’ll fight back a little if you want.

WOMAN: Shut up and listen. We have to get you to a safe house before the feds pick up our tail.

(Nathan turns and giggles to Miguel. The woman snaps her head at Nathan.)

WOMAN: I’d just assume to put a bullet in both of your heads rather than deal with you.

(Nathan whispers at Miguel in fear.)

NATHAN: Now I know how Tidy Cabs get they way they do.

(Part Two by Chris McGinty)

[EXT – DRIVEWAY SAFE HOUSE – DAY]

(The hot chick, as one clearly politically incorrect/in need of sensitivity training writer put it, gets out of the van. The driver, who has said nothing up to this point, says nothing and stays in the van.)

MIGUEL: Where does he pee?

(Chris and Nathan shrug, and egress from the van, tripping over a Thesaurus on the way out. When Miguel gets out he looks toward the house, and gets a look of excitement and amusement.)

MIGUEL: No way!

NATHAN (looking at the house): Oh dear lord!

(Chris looks to see that the house is shaped like the kind of safe that you would keep your money in. The door has a large combination dial that the hot chick seems to be opening. There is a large mechanical hand extending from the house that is shielding the combination from view.)

CHRIS: Hmm. Go figure.

NATHAN: I’m not sure we should go in there. I presumed that the house was safe, but now I see that the house might not be safe at all, but rather a safe.

MIGUEL: Oh look, Nathan has a new power; stating the obvious.

CHRIS: Guys stop. I’ll handle this.

(Chris walks over to the hot chick who is opening the front door.)

CHRIS: Ok, listen up, Lara Croft – Miss Salt if you’re nasty. My friends and I want answers, and we’re not going into there until you give them to us.

WOMAN: Listen, Sawyer. Drop the nicknames and get in the house.

CHRIS (to Nathan and Miguel): Sorry guys. She one-upped me. We have to go in.

(They all go into the house, except the driver who opens his door and discretely disposes of his catheter bag.)

[INT – SAFE HOUSE – NIGHT]

(Our three presumed heroes are sitting at a dinner table. They have been waiting for the cook to finish dinner for the last hour. Their presumed international super-spy hostess has refused to answer any questions the whole time. Finally, the cook comes out of the kitchen with a tray held high. Chris, Miguel, and Nathan all look expectantly to see what delicious meal they are about to receive. The cook places five Army freeze dried rations on the table, one before each of the four people, and one before an empty seat.)

MIGUEL: This isn’t food. This is chicken flavored Tang.

NATHAN: Ooh, I love these. If anybody gets full, pass your leftovers my way.

CHRIS: I thought the cook would at least have been cooking in there. Can we get some answers now?

WOMAN: What would you like to know?

CHRIS: Where did I misplace the key to my storage shed where I keep my Duran Duran collection?

WOMAN: You dropped it outside of the roller rink three weeks ago, and a dog ate it thinking it was a hamburger.

CHRIS: Wow! I didn’t think you would actually know.

(Nathan rolls his eyes and waits for it.)

CHRIS: I haven’t been outside of a roller rink since I delivered a pizza to one, and that was years ago. Are you just making shit up?

(Chris tries to eat a little bit of his freeze dried delicacy. After just a small taste, he passes the rest of it to Nathan. He notices that Miguel’s is already in front of Nathan too.)

CHRIS: Who are you?

WOMAN: My name is Angelina.

CHRIS: I knew it!

WOMAN: Angelina Ricci.

MIGUEL: Wait a minute. I know about you. You have a very important tie to my friends here.

CHRIS: Miguel, please. I’m getting to the bottom of things.

MIGUEL: There is a marked difference between getting to the bottom, and being an ass.

CHRIS: What are we doing here?

ANGELINA: Eating dinner.

CHRIS: And after dinner?

(Nathan rolls his eyes knowing that there was some sort of obscure, as well as paraphrased, reference there somewhere.)

ANGELINA: Our boss, who will join us soon, will sit you down to a slide show and give you information about the situation. He will answer many questions. Then we’ll all go to bed…

CHRIS: Together?

ANGELINA: The three of you can knock yourself out, but I have my own room.

MIGUEL: I know who this woman works for, Chris. I’ve seen her name in the “in care of” section on mail I’ve delivered.

CHRIS: Miguel, if you would stop your yapping, I might be able to get to the bottom of this.

MIGUEL: I’m also pretty sure I know where The Jonas Brothers live.

CHRIS: So we’ll have answers questioned… whatever you said, and then we’ll go to bed. What happens in the morning? Do we just hang out here for the rest of our lives, or do we have some sort of purpose to play in this seemingly intimate drama?

ANGELINA: Intricate?

CHRIS: Yeah, whatever, inclement drama.

ANGELINA: Why don’t you ask our boss?

(The door opens behind Chris. A man walks in and Nathan drops his plastic fork in awe. Miguel just looks smug. Chris turns to face the man.)

CHRIS and NATHAN: Paul Tygers!

(The man is Paul Tygers… in case you missed the dialogue cue.)

CHRIS (to Angelina): Nathan and I go way back with Paul Tygers, though for the life of me, I can’t really remember how.

PAUL: You owe me about two to three thousand dollars.

(Chris pulls out a wad of cash and counts it.)

CHRIS: Damn it. I only have $1,622 and 45 cents. I’ll have to get it to you later.

NATHAN: Why are you carrying that much cash!

CHRIS: Random car repairs that I might have.

NATHAN: Wow, Chris! Who knew that it was Paul Tygers who rescued you?

(Angelina, Miguel, and Paul all raise their hands. The cook peeks his head in.)

COOK: I knew as well.

(A security guard that they didn’t even know was in the house peeks his head in.)

GUARD: Yeah, I knew too.

(There is a honk from the van outside.)

PAUL: Oh! Freeze dried Army rations. My favorite.

NATHAN: My man!

(Nathan holds his hand for a high five, and Paul gives him some skin. They sit and eat their “food” and catch up.)

NATHAN: I haven’t seen you since Season Two.

PAUL: Funny, because I haven’t seen Season Two. But then again, who has?

(They laugh. Chris looks miserably bored, and a little irritated that from the moment that Paul entered the room Angelina stopped not paying attention to Chris in favour of not paying attention to Chris to give goo goo eyes to Paul. Miguel has fallen asleep in his chair.)

PAUL: We have many things to discuss, and then tomorrow we have many things to do. As soon as we’re done with this delicious dinner, we will convene in the in-home theater room.

(Miguel starts a little in his sleep.)

MIGUEL: I love you too, George.

(End Episode 7)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Less than a month until the new phone

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

I had a phone. It was a decent phone. My wife and I were on her parent's Verizon family plan since we didn't make that much money back then. It was a little folding black phone that kinda looked like a beeper when it was closed up. It lasted me for almost 2 years. Our contracts came up and we were both excited to change out our phones. She got a nice phone that had a keyboard and I picked a Gleam. From the pictures I saw on the website the phone DIDN'T look that girly. It looked real slim (which is what I wanted so I could slip it in my pocket). I was also very excited because it had a better camera than my last phone. I started my other 'personal' Blog with words of anticipation about the new phone. You can read about it here (go to the very bottom of the page). That blog was a pretty neat read. I still update it once or twice a week with very brief thoughts.

Anyway I got that phone and took a bunch of pics (as you can see in that blog). The phone was pretty girly looking. It had a silver/gold sheem (which I will state again, you couldn't see in the pics on Verizon's site). That phone was fine but I was bemoaning my cool little black phone. So time went on and both the wife and I got into better financial positions and we decided to get phone service for ourselves so we picked up AT&T. She got an IPhone and I bought my boss' Motorola Tundra. Check out these crazy videos on the military grade Tundra. You can beat the crap out of them and they can take it. The phone was anything but. Well, it was fine if you kept it closed... then it was tough. Open it up and it's like any other phone. I used the tundra for probably six or eight months and one day I pressed my ear too hard against the top part while on the phone and the hinge cracked. I continued to use it but about three months after that I guess I sat on it wrong and the part that had cracked broke completely off. I paid my boss $100 for that piece of crap... oh well, he paid like $400 for it.

So here I was being forced to get a new phone. Forced I tell you. I went to our AT&T account online and looked at the different phones to get. Turns out I can't get one at any sort of discounted rate until March 10th. I don't want to pay those outrageous prices so I decided to get something temporary. I picked up a $15 Go phone and I will wait it out. That is one really good thing about AT&T as opposed to Verizon, the ability to just swap out your GSM card.

Now the whole point of this blog and all that back story was to try to figure out what kind of phone to pick up in March. The obvious answer is an IPhone. My wife has really liked hers and I like messing about with it. The only thing is, is that I have a real problem with doing what everyone else is doing. I really do. Somehow I really do hate going with the crowd. Everyone and their grandmother has a damn IPhone. I like the IPhone and how it works but... geeze I don't want to do it. One might just think that is some sentiment that many people have (not wanting to be apart of the crowd) but I am having some real issues with it.

Here are my phone choices:
  • IPhone 4 (I just can't wait until June for the 5)
  • LGQuantum
  • HTC Inspire

My big 'wants' in my choice for a new phone are (besides being able to make calls):

  • Good picture taking
  • Ability to look at maps (like google maps)
  • Ability to take notes

All the phones above do these but that damn IPhone does them all so well. I am not too concerned with a phone having 5MP camera as opposed to a 8MP camera. You really don't need much over 4 (for any reason).

All in all I have a sneaking suspicion I will be going with the stupid IPhone and soon be walking among all the other sheep. Oh well...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Making the Budget

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

I’ve been having the worst time following my own advice lately. It doesn’t make the advice invalid, but it does invalidate my daily choices. What brought me to this is that I sat down and worked out my first on-paper budget for my money in about a year and a half. I’ve worked out budgets for my time sporadically. I’ve had mental budgets for my money that I’ve done pretty well with following for the most part. The problem is that it needs to be written and specific. Following a mental budget well is about as good as following a written budget poorly.

The sad thing is that I basically know what I should be doing at any given time, but I allow too much compromise with myself. This may seem like I’m talking about something big like playing Magic Online for hours when I should be writing, but it’s a bit more subtle.

Twice now I’ve started writing a blog post, and found myself with more ideas than I originally thought I had. This is fine. There is no reason I can’t move it over to the column if it stretches over 2,000 words. The problem is that I’m supposed to write 500 words on the blog each day, 500 words on each column, and then 500 words on rotating projects. This could include another 500 words on a blog post or a column, but the point is that I’m supposed to balance them.

What happened both times is that rather than deciding it was my writing for a column for the day, taking down some notes for how to continue the article, and moving on to the next project, which would be back to the blog writing since it wasn’t done, I’ve instead written thousands of words on the articles. This isn’t bad in concept. It’s writing that needed to be done. The problem is that now I’m two weeks ahead on my column, and barely keeping up with the blog. I have four reserves still, and don’t have to post again for two days, so it’s fine from that perspective. I just have to be careful about not letting it get out of hand one way or the other.

To Do Lists are budgets for your time. We all know that if we take our whole paycheck and pay it all on one item then we’ll make great progress on that one item. I could pay the mortgage on my house in less than four years if every dollar went toward it. I just would eat, have gas to get to work, electricity, water, and if you saw my boots you would know I would be barefoot soon, among other things I’d go without. The idea that I can treat time any differently is ridiculous. It’s actually how I get sidetracked on a project idea I get one day that isn’t the project I’m supposed to be focused on. Or why I can keep up with some projects, while others get consistently deferred to later.

I need a money budget. I need a time budget. I need to follow each as closely as possible.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Season 2 ' The Fix' Part 5

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Welcome to the fifth part of the According To Whim Season 2 'Fix'. The editing I have been doing is in an attempt to rebuild Episodes 3, 4, 5, and 6 of our public access television show: According To Whim (Season 2). Season 3 Episode 1 was also lost so I have included it as well. You can read the first part (and the full story) by clicking on the links above. This will be the next to the last part of 'The Fix' where I cover what's on the tapes.


If you read my last post (part 4) you will notice I said I was missing a scene in Episode 3 where we were getting ready to do our club gig. It is *possible* that this might still exist and is somewhere on the tapes I have reviewed. For the most part I checked every tape but some of the tapes (Season 3 stuff) i saw that Season 3 stuff was on there and I didn't bother looking at every minute of it. That lost scene was shot much later than the original shoot so it might be somewhere in those Season 3 tapes... time will tell.


Tape #4
This tape has Season 3 stuff on it. I will need to comeback for this when I begin rebuilding (for a 2nd time) the first Episode of Season 3.


Tape #15
This contains the Rosas' Cafe contest footage on it. You may remember we won 'honorable mention'. I got a lot of food with those prizes. The other footage on the tape was from the TRTC contest which ended in Chris pertending to have created and entered the 2nd grand prize video and thus being awarded a big check in front of an audience. That was great!


Tape #16
This video was strange because I didn't recognize ever recording it. Well I didn't. The director of the Bariatrics department at work wanted to film the dietitian's lecture and she needed a tape so I provided her with one.


Tape #17
This tape was full of interviews from October 1st of 2010 that we did at Hangman's House of Horrors.


Tape #18
The beginning of this tape holds some of Season 3. There is also footage that Chris and I shot on the failed 'day of shooting at Trinity park' which turned out to be a disaster thanks to Hurricane Hermine (which a couple of days later destroyed the wife's car). That same day (and on this tape) we shot a Vlog in the car while it continued to rain on us. Later on the tape are more Vlogs and the move out scene we shot for Season 3.


Tape #19
Back in 2008 I shot a short video using the (very expensive) diagnostic dummy at work. It's one of those that talks, has a pulse, breathes, and has a heart beat so nurses can practice on it. Well, it wasn't used very much so I had my coworker help me and we did a short segment where I walked into a room and it (the dummy) is covered. It is supposed to be me in a dream where Chris is the patient in the room under the sheet. It got edited but lost in the disaster so I will need to re-edit it but it will fit nicely into Season 3 somewhere. Also on that tape are more interviews I did for the TRTC contest, Episode 3 scenes, and a impromptu Season 2 Episode 1 audio commentary track.


Join me next time for the final installment of the tape reviews on: According To Whim Season 2: 'The Fix'. Peace out.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Patience and Other Lies

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

I sometimes wonder what I would be like as a successful person. Have you ever sat around and thought about what you would do if you won millions of dollars in the lottery? The interesting thing about a question like that is that you would think the answer would be the same for everyone, “Well I’d be set for life then, huh?” That’s my answer. I can live comfortably on about $36,000 a year… and someday when I’m making $36,000 a year, it’ll be interesting to see what comfortable feels like. If I had even a million after taxes, I would be set for the next 27 years of my life if I didn’t work, and longer if I did. I wonder how fast I would go broke if I did win.

In November 2008, Guns ‘n’ Roses (read: Axl) released the first G’n’R studio album in fifteen years. It was called, “Chinese Democracy.” It should have been called “Patience Indeed.” The reason I bring this up is because I can’t imagine having access to studios and musicians and drugs and people who know how to use all these things and Dr. Pepper offering to buy the world a Coke and teach the world to sing if I would just get the damn album out already, and in spite of all of this, just sitting around and not doing anything for fifteen years. Sorry, I was probably unclear there. Dr. Pepper offered everyone a free Dr. Pepper if “Chinese Democracy” came out in 2008, but you had to go to their website on a particular day, and not surprisingly, their page was congested and having loading issues. These are almost the same scenario: hitting the lottery or hitting it big in an industry with the resources to make things happen. Much like I would be set for 27 years if I had the money, I would release 27 albums a year… ok, maybe not that much, but damn! You know? As a side note, I will listen to “Chinese Democracy” in November of 2023. Since Axl made us wait fifteen years, he can wait for me for fifteen years. Not that he cares, but they say you should have long term goals. And again, I wonder how long it would be before my fans were bitching me out for not releasing anything new for awhile.

I just know that I don’t utilize the resources I have available to me now, at least not well. Maybe that’s why people squander lottery winnings. Maybe that’s why bands get into petty squabbles over who the real creative genius is and who should be kissing whose ass. They never learned to be successful before they were successful. I attribute this to lack of patience, and lies about what success is. We hear phrases like, “The type who gets things done,” and, “overnight success.” It’s not really how it works in most cases though.

When I get an idea in my head, I want it done in the next few minutes or so. I do pretty horribly with the part where I have to sit down and patiently take the steps necessary to succeed. I have to wonder how that would translate if I ever had the resources to make things happen. Have I learned enough about succeeding to do well with barriers down? I’ve heard it said that it’s better to make small mistakes along the way than to make huge mistakes. This is usually said about money, but I’m sure it applies to many things in life.

I think that more so than any other year in my life, I want this year to be about me learning to succeed. I want to learn about persistence, focus, and intent. I want to learn about recovering from setbacks, succeeding at the small steps along the way to succeeding at the big, and reviewing my priorities each time I accomplish the previous priority.

I think that many of us can look back on the last fifteen years of our lives and find something that is our own “Chinese Democracy.” It’s the goal we’ve been promising ourselves forever, and not using the resources we have available to just do the best job we can with the goal. If it sounds like I’m giving Axl a pass just because I’m guilty too, then ask me before November of 2023 what I thought of “Chinese Democracy.” I have more important priorities to get to, thank you. And I never got my Dr. Pepper…

Monday, February 14, 2011

Toy Show: Austin, Texas

by Nathan stout (of According To Whim.com)

Saturday, February 12th, 2011 I set up a table at a toy show in Austin, Tx. This is a *live at the time* post where I will basically take you hour by hour and point out some stuff.

10:00am – I have been here for about 30 minutes now and wow… wow. First off I was envisioning something *slightly* bigger. The meeting room at the Marriot hotel here in Austin is about the size of a McDonald’s restaurant dining room (if even that big). If you have ever been to the Dallas Comicon, it’s about the size of ½ the length of one of their isles. It is about half the size I thought it would be. Next on my ‘dismay’ list the fact there are only (including me) 4 vendors… 4. It opens to the general public at 11am and I hope there are more… If not I will have 8 hours of writing time and considering I need 10 blogs to complete my weekly goal that may not be too bad.

11:00am – Man am I glad I brought this computer. During the ‘early buyer’s hour there were a whopping 0 customers. I’d be bored out of my head if I didn’t have this. Also, thank the maker I left my earphones in my backpack! Now I don’t have to listen to the guy try to sweet talk customers that there are more vendors coming. Ahhh. Sweet Duran Duran. Anyway, such light vendor turnout is not conducive to charging customers to come in and shop.

12:00am – It is currently empty. I have been covertly counting the number of paying customers and it comes to 28. I sold $22.00 worth of stuff. Then it died. Not sure if this is the way it is going to be for the rest of the day but who knows. When the people pay for admission they get a ticket for a drawing for a $100.00 shopping spree. Basically they spend it on us (the vendors). That’s nice for us but I don’t think it’s wise to charge admission. After the rush the 2 final vendors showed up.

1:00pm – There was a small influx of people and I sold $5.00 worth and ate my lunch (which was kindly provided by my mother in law).

2:00pm – One kid bought a Japanese model. Amazing! I’m in shock!

3:00pm – Bupkis in the last hour.

4:00pm – Ditto. Only one more merciful hour!

4:30pm – The show organizer held the drawing and bumped the prize up to $150.00 (probably felt bad for the vendors). I got $8.00 of that prize. After that I packed up and tore out of there.

Something that keeps going over and over in my mind is the fact that I could do this and do it better. First off I would drop the price to the public. They shouldn’t pay to shop. Next the size of the event should be at least twice as large as it is here. Finally there should be some serious advertising going on. I noticed that 80% of the people coming in said they found out about the convention from Craig’s List.

In the end the convention had a total of 52 guests and my total take home was $42.00.

After the last convention: ‘The Women of Sci-fi’ I seriously considered doing a toy show of my own (doing all the things I talked about above). I guess it intimidates me to attempt to do something so large. After seeing how small these guys are doing it, I think I can do it.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Operation: CTFU 2011 Edition

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

Here is the odd thing about getting behind… no, this is not a dating column. Get out of here you pervert! Oh, but if you learn anything useful check back.

The odd thing about getting behind is how it feels trying to catch up. Last year, right before we completely crapped out on this blog for a couple of months, we only partially crapped out on it. Nathan was keeping up ok, but I was having issues getting things done. Then when I got everything caught up, Nathan hadn’t taken the time to get some stuff in reserve, and of course, I had spent all my time trying to catch up. We got behind again, and I decided to fill in the missing days with articles that I wrote that I never posted, and then take all the drafts we had in the draft section and turn them into full posts. I called it “Operation: CTFU.” C means “Catch.”

As I write this, it is the last day of January 2011. It is one of my many checkpoints throughout the year. While I was at work yesterday, it was actually the halfway point of the first ten-weeks, which is also a checkpoint. Needless to say, I evaluated my situation, and I’m very much behind. So I set myself some goals for today to get certain things caught up. These were also based on another set of checkpoints, which are our Thursday night meetings.

I decided to somewhat cut my losses for January for now. I figured it was more important to get on task now than to worry about what didn’t get done before. I thought, “I’ll just spend eight hours working on things today, and eight hours each day.. I’ll spend thirty minutes on each of the separate tasks I’m juggling, and I’ll gradually get caught up by being on task.” It didn’t really work that way though.

The funny thing is that all the tasks that I should have spent thirty and a half hours on each in January, just weren’t going to get caught up in a half an hour today. I couldn’t help but to think after thirty minutes of work on a task that didn’t accomplish a whole lot that if I would have just worked on it a little at a time over the last month, then a half hour would have been sufficient. I would have so much done already that I would only need a half hour to maintain forward momentum, not to try to get moving forward in the first place.

It’s something to really consider next time you feel like procrastinating. How useful is forward momentum as opposed to trying to get going? I read often about the importance of small goals, mini-goals. The big goals come into focus with the completion of the small goals. I need to write a song with that as a hook, and give it a really catchy hook, so I always remember it.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Flash Ahhhh!: Episode Six - Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

by the According To Whim .com crew

(Part One by Nathan Stout )

[INT – NIGHT – CAVE]

(Nathan and Miguel grab each other and start whimpering like a group of tweens that just discovered that Harry Potter dies in the final book... oops, did I just ruin that?)

NATHAN: Well, this is it.

MIGUEL: I guess so. Look, I’d just like to say that I know we are about to die that I have officially won the “Jedi Conflux – Suck Your Dick Contest.”

NATHAN: Well, since we won’t exist in a few minutes, and we will never know if Lucas ever uses that term, I guess I can concede. You don’t have to suck it.

MIGUEL: In your face!

NATHAN: Well, it was going to be in your face, but whatever.

(The ledge slides in and Miguel and Nathan fall.)

MIGUEL: Flash!

NATHAN: Ahhhhhh!

(Nathan and Miguel jerk awake... no, not what you are thinking. They are both sitting in the Daytona, the heat of the day soaking both of them through... no, not what you are thinking either.)

MIGUEL: What the fuck?!

NATHAN: ...

(Miguel looks around to confirm that he is indeed awake and in the real world).

NATHAN: The bet is still on!

MIGUEL: Oh man! What just happened?

NATHAN: I remember the professor mentioning in class that some people have the power to control the minds of others and induce dreams and such. I think that just happened to us.

MIGUEL: Well, that’s certainly an easy way to negate any sort of storyline started by other writers. It must be infuriating.

NATHAN: Well, perhaps and perhaps not. Let’s go check out the professor just to make sure none of it was real.

MIGUEL: Ok, I’ll buy that. I do have an aftertaste of burrito in my mouth, so I guess anything is possible.

(The two rush back to the classroom.)

INT - DAY - Classroom

(Miguel and Nathan push the doors open, and burst into the classroom, where the professor sits behind a desk at the front of the class.)

PROFESSOR: Well, well, if it isn’t our mind reader and voice-over artist?

MIGUEL: ...

(Miguel is unable to voice over the professor since the professor has just flipped the dampening field switch.)

PROFESSOR: No, no, now. No making me say stupid things I wouldn’t normally say.

MIGUEL: Awww man.

PROFESSOR: Is there something I can help you two with?

MIGUEL: Yeah!

(Nathan puts his arm up across Miguel’s chest.)

NATHAN: Let me handle this. You aren’t exactly Mr. Social.

(Miguel looks hurt.)

NATHAN: My friend and I are a little uncertain, but we just wanted to ask... ummmm.

PROFESSOR: Yes?

NATHAN: Well...

PROFESSOR: I’m listening.

NATHAN: Are you a power hungry maniac in a wheel chair?

(The professor’s expression of indulgence does not change.)

PROFESSOR: I’m not sure about power hungry...

(The professor rolls out from around the desk.)

MIGUEL: Oh shit.

NATHAN: Well, I’m thoroughly confused.

PROFESSOR: Is there something that you two actually wanted?

NATHAN: Someone came and kidnapped our friend, Chris.

PROFESSOR: Don’t you mean: hippie-napped?

MIGUEL: Snap.

NATHAN: Yes, hippie-napped him.

PROFESSOR: And what can I do for you?

NATHAN: Well, we came to see if you were the one who kid...

PROFESSOR: Hippie...

NATHAN: Hippie-napped him.

(The professor turns to the switch and turns the dampening field off. Nathan pauses then turns to Miguel.)

NATHAN: He didn’t do it.

MIGUEL: Wha...

PROFESSOR: Now, I don’t come to your place of work and slap the dick out of your mouth... what’s this all about?

MIGUEL: Wha...

NATHAN: We’re sorry. It’s just that we were put to sleep, and we had this weird dream where you were the evil mastermind behind Chris’s kidnapping.

PROFESSOR: Well, well. It seems that your friend has gotten a lot of attention from someone because of his power. I am betting that all this is due to your registering with the government.

MIGUEL: Wha...

PROFESSOR: It is likely that he was hippie-napped by the government. Earlier when I told you he had a rare power, I wasn’t kidding. Did you get any sort of look at his captors?

NATHAN: Yes. I read their minds a little before they got away. They were thinking about a number: 4900.

PROFESSOR: That’s easy enough. The federal building is at 819 Taylor in downtown.

MIGUEL: Wha...

NATHAN: But I read 4900 in their minds.

PROFESSOR: Ah yes, you did, but that was before the writer decided to actually find the address of the federal building in Fort Worth.

NATHAN: I see. Come on Miguel, let's go!

(Part Two by Chris McGinty)

[INT – NIGHT – VAN]

(Meanwhile, the true hero of the story is still in a van, but this is a different van. It’s not physically a different van because it happened before the dream sequence, but the inhabitants are different, I think.)

[INT – NIGHT – VAN]

(Chris wakes up wondering if Nathan actually meant this was a rape van, or if that had been a joke referring to some obscure scripted porn passed off as real, or if it had been a typo. He sits up and looks at his captors.)

CHRIS: You can’t rape the willing.

HENCHMAN 1: He has a point. What do we do now?

HENCHMAN 2: We should take him to the boss. He’ll know what to do.

CHRIS: Ah, your boss. Here’s what I theorize that Nathan was trying to do here. The professor in our class seemed to have a keen interest in the rarity of my power, and then very soon after he made that statement, I was kidnapped. Miguel and Nathan weren’t.

HENCHMAN 1: Um…

(It is at this point that the henchmen pull off their masks and reveal that they are, in fact, Agent 1, Agent 2, Agent 3, and Driver. Driver, not realizing that he is the same as before because his name hasn’t changed, struggles to pull his face off until it hurts. Realizing that it is his actual face, he remembers that he is driving, and slightly avoids wrecking the van.)

MAN ON THE STREET: Damn government drivers!

CHRIS: You’re the government?

AGENT 1: The US government at least.

CHRIS: So you did kidnap me to rape me?

AGENT 2: No.

CHRIS: Then why?

AGENT 2: You have a very rare…

CHRIS: What the fuck are we listening to?

DRIVER: It’s Neil Diamond.

CHRIS: A turd by any other name still needs to be flushed. I think that was Shakespeare. Turn that crap off.

DRIVER: He was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.

CHRIS: Turn it off.

DRIVER: Then we won’t have anything to listen to.

CHRIS: Tell you what. You can listen to “Cherry Cherry” while I find out what the hell is going on, and then it goes off. So you did kidnap me to rape me?

AGENT 2: No.

CHRIS: Then why?

AGENT 2: You have a very rare power that the government wishes to examine to use for its own purp…

(Chris punches Agent 2 in the face. Agent 2 looks at Chris incredulously.)

CHRIS: Please, continue.

AGENT 2: The government wishes to examine your power to use for its own purp…

(Chris kicks Agent 2 in the face. Agent 2 stands up ready to fight.)

AGENT 1: Stop Agent 2. We can’t harm him, or we’ll be in violation of our orders.

AGENT 2: Then he needs to stop assaulting me.

CHRIS: I’ll tell you what. Stop at this CD shop on the right, and I won’t assault you anymore.

AGENT 2: Stop at the CD shop, Driver.

(Chris elbows Agent 2 in the face.)

CHRIS: Hmm, I guess I lied.

[INT – CAB – DAY]

CAB DRIVER: Will you two make up your minds?

MIGUEL: We should go get my Cavalier. If we get downtown and find out that Chris isn’t there, or if they get away with him, we’ll at least have a car to get into and go.

NATHAN: But we’ll have to pay for parking.

CAB DRIVER: Will you two make up your minds?

[INT – CD SHOP – DAY]

AGENT 3: Will you make up your mind?

CHRIS: Listen, we would be done if you said it was ok to just grab whatever I wanted, but since you’re only buying me three CDs, I have to prioritize my decision.

AGENT 3: Will you make up your mind?

CHRIS: You know what I don’t get?

AGENT 3: More than three CDs.

CHRIS: Besides that. Why was it more important that the government kidnap me than an evil professor?

AGENT 1: Does it really make sense to you that an evil professor would waste his time teaching college students when he could try to take over the world.

CHRIS: Well sure, if he was that kind of evil professor. Why couldn’t the professor work for the government? He could have ordered me kidnapped, and then handed me over to the government for a fee, bought another condo, and not worried about taking over the world at all.

(The door opens at that moment, and a US mail carrier walks in. His name tag says Eugene.)

EUGENE: Sorry I’m running late.

(Eugene hands the CD shop owner his mail, just as the electricity in the store goes dead.)

CD SHOP OWNER: This electric bill is from two months ago. Why did it take so long to get here?

EUGENE: There was a problem with the motor pool. The vehicle repairs are six months backlogged.

AGENT 2 (ignoring this exchange to his detriment): Why would a professor work for the government?

CHRIS: It’s a county college. It’s supported by government tax dollars. What better place to put an operative?

AGENT 2: It’s more direct and efficient for the government to kidnap you, than to hire someone in the private sector to kidnap you, and then come pick you up from that person.

(Chris looks at the mail carrier.)

CHRIS: You mean to tell me that the US government was efficient enough to kidnap me twenty minutes after I registered my power without help from the private sector.

AGENT 3: Agent 2! Don’t…

AGENT 2: Yes, that’s what I’m telling you.

(Suddenly, the CD shop starts shaking, rattling, and rolling.)

AGENT 2: Holy shit! Holy fuck!

(Agent 2 grabs Chris by the collar.)

AGENT 2: Chris! What’s happening?

AGENT 3: He opened up a plot hole. This whole place is going to sink into some strange nether world. We’ll be weeks behind deadline by the time we get him downtown… which I guess will prove his point nicely.

[INT – FEDERAL BUILDING DOWNTOWN FORT WORTH – DAY]

(Miguel and Nathan walk through the metal detector and wonder where they might keep Chris and others like him. There seems to be hustle and bustle all around.)

MIGUEL: I’m glad we took the cab. It would have taken too long to go get the Cavalier.

NATHAN: I wonder what’s going on. It’s usually not this hectic here. It’s normally people getting Social Security cards or tax audits.

(Miguel surveys the situation. There are people running everywhere, many of them dressed in black suits and sunglasses, as though they don’t just file forms… all… day… long… the tedium… of it…)

MIGUEL: Maybe Chris got away and they’re trying to find him.

(Nathan stops one of the agents. He flashes his TCC Gold Membership Card.)

NATHAN: What is going on here?

RANDOM AGENT: We had a hippie with special powers on route here for examination in our secret offices, and he opened up a plot hole that swallowed him, three of our agents, one of our drivers, a shop owner, and Eugene from the post office, along with the CD shop. They all sank into a nether world.

MIGUEL (gasping): Not Eugene. I mean, he’s an asshole, but if he’s missing I’ll have to take his route, and his route sucks.

NATHAN: Well, this doesn’t sound like anything we need to concern ourselves with. Well, aside from you having to pick up some extra hours, Miguel.

MIGUEL: Wait, I just remembered something about that route. There’s a CD shop on that route.

RANDOM AGENT: Yes, that’s where the plot hole opened up. How did you know?

MIGUEL: Let me just say that I have a sneaking suspicion I know who was responsible for that plot hole.

NATHAN: Chris!

MIGUEL: No, you. But Chris knew how to exploit it. We have to get to my Cavalier and go to the site of that plot hole!

NATHAN: Then that is what… wait, we didn’t get your Cavalier. Damn it! I’ll call a cab.

MIGUEL: Wait, as a leftist, I insist that we let the government bail us out of our predicament. Since I am employee of the Post Office, and my friend here is a Gold Member of a county college, can we catch a ride with you?

RANDOM AGENT: Sorry sir, there is a problem with the motor pool. The vehicle repairs are six months backlogged. That’s why we’re running around here rather than driving to the plot hole. We have to look busy or they’ll cut our funding.

NATHAN (dialing the cab company): Right, private sector it is.

(End Episode Six)