Saturday, April 30, 2011

Flash Ahhhh!: Episode Seventeen – Emergency!” DVDs in the Break Room…

by the According To Whim .com crew

(Part One by Nathan Stout)

[INT - DAY – SIX FLAGS OVER TEXAS]

NATHAN: Well I don’t know the hell is going on…

SHAG: Welcome to adulthood brotha’.

NATHAN: No, I mean I literally don’t know what’s going on. I mean, it seemed like a fairly regular day, and before 48 hours are up, I have dropped into some sort of freakish nightmare.

DENTRE: It could be puberty.

NATHAN: No, that was an entirely other freakish time in my life.

SHAG: Well that’s dandy, and all, but what about Quincy?

DENTRE: I have an idea.

(Dentre takes out a Twinkie (type) snack cake, and shoves it into Nathan’s mouth.)

DENTRE: I am thinking that if we up Nathan’s sugar input, his mind reading range will increase. Then we can just turn him about until he can hear someone’s thoughts and locate the thugs.

SHAG: You didn’t win “Most Clever Realtor” six years running fo’ nothin’! Gimmie some skin!

(The two slap hands. Shag takes Nathan by the shoulders, and starts turning him slowly in a circle).

DENTRE: Focus. Read the thoughts that are floating out there.

(Nathan chews and focuses on nothing in particular, just the space in front of him.)

NATHAN: There!

(Nathan points off into the park.)

SHAG: What do you hear?

NATHAN: Someone wondering when the big attack is going to finally take place and what the hell is that thing... it’s not Bugs Bunny in a mine shaft.

DENTRE: Wha?

NATHAN: Of course! They are in the old cave ride!

SHAG: Old cave ride?

NATHAN: The Speelunker's Cave! Let’s go!

DENTRE: You sure are gung ho about confronting them all the sudden.

NATHAN: Are you kidding me? I loved the cave ride. I wanna go in there and see what it’s like.

(The three trot off as Miguel wakes up. Miguel sits up only to be poked in the face with the barrel of a rifle as he does so.)

MIGUEL: Ugh.

(Further away, the three are trotting towards the cave ride, and suddenly the power is turned on throughout the park. The water pumps start shooting water in the rapids ride, the speakers through the park start playing music, and lights come on everywhere.)

NATHAN: What's going on?

DENTRE: Well, either Quincy wants to provide his thugs with some fun or the Six Flags people are doing some work on the park for the upcoming season.

SHAG: Well if I were the head of an evil organization, I’d make sure to keep the troops happy.

NATHAN: Here!

(Nathan stops and crouches behind a bush just outside the exit stairs to Yosemite Sam’s Mine Ride – or whatever the fuck they call it, since they tore out the far superior Speelunker’s Cave.)

SHAG: Check it!

(Shag points to a thug guard standing outside with a rifle).

(End of Part One)

(Part Two by Chris McGinty)

Dorothy stayed close to the Scarecrow. The darkness was terrible, and what was that ahead? Construction Equipment.

“Halt, who goes there,” said a voice from the darkness.

“I knew this was a terrible place,” said the cowardly lion.

“Take heart, everyone,” said the Tin Man, “it’s just a security guard.”

“I’m afraid of security guards,” said the lion.

“Don’t worry,” said the security guard, “I have no embellished stories about a tour of duty in some military branch that I was never part of.”

“Oh, well that I can handle,” said the lion.

“You can’t come through here,” said the security guard, “you’ll have to take the yellow brick detour around the site.”

“Ok, we’ll do that. You seem tired,” said Dorothy.

“I don’t have much time off anymore,” said the security guard.

“We’re going to see the Wizard of Oz,” said the scarecrow, “I’m hoping he’ll give me some brains.”

“So you can have intelligent thoughts?” asked the security guard.

“No, because I’m a zombie.”

“Zombies scare me,” said the lion, “but he’s nice enough. I’m hoping the wizard will give me some courage.”

“So that you’re not afraid of zombies?” asked the security guard.

“No, to ask Nala out. She broke up with Simba last week.”

“That’s sick, she’s just a cub.”

“Years have passed. She’s an adult lioness now.”

“Uh huh, and when I get some time off, it’s ok for me to ask Christina Ricci out.”

“She’s a woman now.”

“Have you seen “Casper”? That’s not a woman.”

“Um, ok.”

“Listen, maybe you can come with us to see the Wizard…”

“Oh Dorothy, not again with the come with us routine,” said the Tin Man.

Dorothy runs off crying, “Sometimes you’re such a heartless bastard!”

“Great now you’ve done it,” said the scarecrow, “the only way you’re going to make it up to her is to convince the security guard to go with us.”

The tin man sighs, “Ok, will you go with us, maybe the wizard can grant you a weekend off to go see some concerts or something.”

“I can’t leave my post.”

“We can wait for your shift to end.”

“I’m pretty sure I’m scheduled to deliver pizza, or drive a taxi, or to put out fliers, or something like that. So I don’t have time to waste going to talk to your wizard.”

“You know what? You don’t deserve a day off with that attitude.”

The tin man walks off in a huff.

“Not through the construction site, sir. You have to follow the yellow brick detour.”

The tin man turns back, and flips off the security guard as he takes the detour. The lion and the scarecrow follow.

[INT – DAY – ACCORDING TO WHIM HQ]

(Nathan taps his fingers impatiently. Miguel sits next to him flipping through the pages of a Star Wars fanzine. On either side of the incredibly long table are men and women who are board members of the Takanakakaka Corporation.)

NATHAN: I ask one simple thing…

(Chris walks in twirling a basketball on his finger, which is odd because Chris doesn’t play basketball.)

NATHAN: What the hell do you think you’re doing!?”

(Chris stops, taken aback by his friend’s outburst.)

CHRIS: Well, um… I just walked in twirling a basketball on my finger.

MIGUEL: Which is odd because he doesn’t play…

NATHAN: No one asked you. I’m not even sure why you’re here.

MIGUEL: It’s a writers meeting. I wrote a small scene in Episode Three.

CHRIS: What’s with all these people sitting at the table? Since when did we have board members doubling as a writing staff?

NATHAN: We’ll, since we have no budget restrictions for this thing, so we have board members doubling as a writing staff.

CHRIS: So in concept, I could have a unicorn named Skippy?

NATHAN: In concept, but…

(Chris walks to the window and pushes it open. He looks down to the designated smoking area/horse stables where a unicorn is grazing on chocolate grass.)

CHRIS: Hey Skippy!

(The unicorn gives him a raised chin nod.)

SKIPPY: What’s up, homie?

CHRIS: Nada. Some stupid emergency writers meeting. I have no idea what it’s all about, but I was required to be here.

NATHAN: Can we get on with the emergency meeting in question?

CHRIS: I’ll talk to you in a little bit, Skippy.

(Chris shuts the window, and takes his seat.)

NATHAN: This meeting will come…

CHRIS: Smoke break.

NATHAN: What?

CHRIS: I’m sure everybody is ready for a cigarette after sitting up here for so long.

NATHAN: You don’t even smoke.

CHRIS: I don’t play basketball either.

NATHAN: Fine!

(They all leave and go to the designated smoking area/horse stables. They return fifteen minutes later, Chris twirling the basketball on his finger.)

CHRIS: You know, for a unicorn, Skippy sure is good at playing Horse.

BOARD MEMBER FRED: And Board Member Sally here sure is good at playing House…

(Board Member Sally elbows Board Member Fred.)

BOARD MEMBER FRED: …MD” DVDs in the break room, where we were just having some really good coffee while watching “House MD” on the TV/DVD player that they keep in the break room, where we were…

(Board Member Sally elbows Board Member Fred.)

NATHAN: Right, so Chris. I called this meeting to find out how you got back in touch with your crack supplier.

CHRIS: Greenly?

NATHAN: Metaphorical crack, as in, are you on crack? You had one thing you had to do with your half of the episode, and instead we get some odd lost “Wizard of Oz” sequel?

CHRIS: And your point is?

NATHAN: This is the only thing you had to do.

(Nathan pushes a piece of paper at Chris. Chris looks at the paper. It says, “** Have them chase qunincy back to the rapids ride (which is full and operating)”)

CHRIS: I don’t know who qunincy is.

(Nathan slaps his hand to his face and drags it slowly down tugging at his face skin in a very Three Stooges like manner.)

NATHAN: Why I oughtta!

MIGUEL: Mmm. This is so tasty.

(They look at Miguel. He has a salad that is made up of bamboo shoots and various leaves.)

NATHAN: Why are you here, again?

MIGUEL: Small scene. Episode Three.

NATHAN: How do we fix this issue? How do we get this scene from where I left it off to where I will then pick it up? Yes, Board Member Reginald?

BOARD MEMBER REGINALD: I just received a message from the field office that while we’ve been conducting our meeting, Dentre, Shag, and Nathan have, in fact, chased the villain to the rapids ride, which is full and operating.

NATHAN: But I’ve been here.

CHRIS: I’ve totally broken the fourth wall.

(Nathan looks over to see that Chris and Miguel are playing a game of Net Runner, and after breaking four pieces of ICE, all Walls, Chris has now won the game.)

NATHAN: Miguel doesn’t play… oh, nevermind.

BOARD MEMBER REGINALD: It seems that the scene was so full of action and peril that Nathan’s stunt double has been running in Nathan’s place. We simply need to get the real Nathan over there ASAP.

BOARD MEMBER SALLY: Mmm that’s good.

(Everyone looks at her. She and Board Member Fred look like deer in headlights. It seems to everyone that Board Member Fred’s arm in angled in a way that his hand…)

BOARD MEMBER SALLY: … um, plan. That’s a good plan. Smoke break.

(Board Member Sally and Board Member Fred rush out of the room.)

NATHAN: Do they even smoke?

CHRIS: No, but they don’t play basketball either.

(The door opens. It’s another unicorn.)

NATHAN: Fluffer!

UNICORN: Fluffy.

NATHAN: Fluffy! Sorry, I’m bad with names. What are you doing here, Fluffy?

FLUFFY: I was actually the one that wrote that small scene in Episode Three.

MIGUEL: Lies!

(Everyone looks at Miguel.)

MIGUEL: Ok, fine. I’m out of here!

(Miguel picks up a bamboo shoot, dips it into some Ranch dressing, and chomps on it. He then pulls out a shotgun, levels it on Fluffy, and shoots. Fluffy stumbles back with a look of shock. Miguel then leaves the room.)

BOARD MEMBER HILLARY: What the fuck just happened!

BOARD MEMBER REGINALD: Really? I thought it was pretty clearly written.

(Nathan rushes over to Fluffy. Miguel walks back in the room.)

MIGUEL: Forgot my video camera. I’m going to try to find out where Board Member Fred and Board Member Sally went.

CHRIS: I think I’ll go with Miguel.

NATHAN: Fluffy, will you survive.

FLUFFY: No Nathan, I’m afraid this is the end for me. But I came here intending to take you to the scene at Six Flags, and I will get you there.

{EXT – DAY – SIX FLAGS]

(Nathan walks up to Shag and Dentre.)

SHAG: You’re here, groovy man. That’s groovy, man. Where have you been?

NATHAN: That’s a long story.

DENTRE: Why do I hear children crying about a dead unicorn somewhere around that corner?

NATHAN: Same long story. Let’s go get qunincy.

SHAG and DENTRE: Who?

NATHAN: Quincy! Damn it! Let’s go!

DENTRE: I need to contact the balloon to be ready, in case we need to get out of here quickly.

NATHAN: Ok, but hurry, I don’t want to stand here thinking about what I’ve done.

SHAG: Hey, hey, man. What’s wrong?

NATHAN: Well, because I had a plot request for Chris, a unicorn was shot.

(It’s at this point that a unicorn comes walking up to them. It seems dizzy, but intent to speak to Nathan. Nathan recognizes her as Muffy.)

MUFFY: Nathan, we… my unicorn friends and I…

DENTRE: MaryAnn, be ready. We may need you.

NATHAN: You named your balloon MaryAnn?

MUFFY: That’s what I’m trying to tell you, Nathan. I brought Miguel. My friends…

NATHAN: You brought Miguel from the According To Whim HQ? Why didn’t you just bring him to me so he could help us catch Quincy?

(Muffy stumbles, and as she turns, Nathan sees that she is bleeding.)

MUFFY: We were attacked.

DENTRE: Standby, MaryAnn.

MUFFY: I was shot. Miguel was taken hostage.

(Muffy falls to the ground and dies.)

NATHAN: Nooooooooo!

(End Episode Seventeen.)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Season 2 Extras Day

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Wednesday April 27th I got some stuff shot with a character only aluded to in the Season 2 script. As you remember from my post about finding stuff to fill in the gaps in the timeline of Season 2 I was still on the lookout for more stuff to use for the show. Today I got a coworker to come over (who has not already been in the show, as many of them have) and we shot some scenes. These are the scenes I talked about in that Blog post about Paul Tygers.

Eric, a coworker that is actually posted to Medical Records showed an interest in the doing some shooting so I happily invited him to be in Season 2 (and later in Season 3). I had 2 characters that we could shoot that we had already established: Paul Tygers and Jim. Paul Tygers was a device used to simply have Miguel (the hobo living at the Water Gardens) already know about Chris and Nathan's rocky friendship. Where Paul was simply talked about Jim was an actual voice on a phone. Jim was voiced by one of the guys in Marketing, Blake. Jim's character was mainly a exposition device with some jokes thrown in.

Since I already had Jim's parts done and Paul was only talked about I thought it would be better to bring that character into the spot light and have him be a little more than just a plot informatin device.

Paul is a 'do it yourselfer' and a big time entrepuner. I figured his character to be very charasmatic. When Eric and I began shooting the filler scenes he took the character a little higher than I wanted (chrisma wise) but it seems to get a laugh (from me at least). We shot a talking scene between Paul and Nathan (when Paul is out hanging flyers), another scene for much later in the series when Nathan is looking for Chris and finally a short segment to be inserted into the scenes at the beginning of episode 6.

The final bit of footage we shot is probably the funniest. We setup the green screen and did a commercial for Paul Tygers: Handy Man. It will be a montage of things Paul will do for you. Everything from yard work to door to door sales man and beyond. Eric's commercial comes off as one of those Jim Adler, 'the tough, smart lawyer' commercials. I swear that sort of segment could go on forever. There is some funny stuff there. As a note we were supposed to use one of the prop guns I had but they are all down in storage so I just gave him my real shotgun to use as a prop. Good times.

All in all these scenes will account for about two and a half to three minutes of screen time which doesn't seem like much but it does add some variety to season and will be a welcome addition to my editing.

P.S. Apparently Jim Adler isn't the only 'Tough, Smart Lawyer' out there. Jim Adler seems to be slowing down now a days. He doesn't seem very full of pep anymore.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Trainwreck Idol - Top Six

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

And so we get to Top Six on American Idol, and it’s honestly starting to get tough. All the people who weren’t really all that good to begin with are gone, and now it’s time for the real contestants to compete. “What about Haley?” you ask. Didn’t I feel that she should have been gone weeks ago? Well, yeah. Tell you what. We’ll talk about her in a bit.

This week, the theme was songs written by Carole King. She’s one of those all time great songwriters, and I honestly didn’t realize that she had written so many songs that were made popular by other artists, in addition to her own hits.

Jacob was very good as usual. He did a song called “Oh No, Not My Baby.” I think he’s always good, but there was something about this performance that seemed to work better than his others. Maybe it’ll help him stick around.

Lauren was also good, singing “Where You Lead.” The big problem here is that they’re giving her the “Lee Dewyze has to get over his nervousness” treatment, but in Lauren’s case they’re dealing with her inability to be comfortable hitting some big notes. Unlike Lee, she’s not getting over it. I hope it doesn’t hurt her for votes.

Haley and Casey did the first duet of the night. They did “I Feel the Earth Move.” Of the duets, it was the best one.

Scotty did “You Got a Friend.” He’s a good country singer.

James did “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.” He reeled in the rock star bit just a bit, and it did work out for him. The judges were jumping up and down about how he could possibly win, and I don’t disagree.

Lauren and Scotty did “On the Roof” as their duet. I thought it was a low point for the evening. They both sang well, but it wasn’t interesting.

Casey did “Hi De Ho” and I think Randy said it best that it had a feel that is typically associated with New Orleans. It was probably not the best performance he could have done, or the best performance of the night, but it was good.

Haley did “Beautiful.” I said it last week that Carole King was stylistically good for Haley, and I think it did work out for her. The thing is that she seems to have found her bearings now. I’m enjoying her performances now, which I couldn’t say from the time she did the Alicia Keys song up until she did the Adele song.

Finally, James and Jacob did “I’m Into Something Good” for their duet. Steven Tyler actually got a bit negative about it, and really, I’m not sure I blame him. It wasn’t a poorly sung song, but it was an awkwardly performed performance.

So this leaves us deciding who will be bottom three on a week where half of the contestants will be in the bottom three. Here’s the thing. If Haley isn’t in the bottom three this week, and she makes no more bad song choices, I think she might make it to the finals. My reason is that Jacob has a lack of support, Scotty doesn’t have enough range, Casey has always been swingy, and Lauren is having trouble coming out of her shell (which wouldn’t be that big of a deal if they weren’t calling attention to it). This means that if Haley didn’t fuck up too bad this week and doesn’t fuck up too bad anytime soon, I think that everyone else, other than James, is struggling to keep up right now. She could possibly squeak by. Based on performance, I think Scotty, Casey, and either of the girls should be bottom three. This is not because they were bad, but because they weren’t as great as James and Jacob (ignoring their duet). What I wonder about though is that we have three who have been in the bottom three before (Casey, Haley, and Jacob) and three who haven’t (Scotty, Lauren, and James). I’m going to go with the trend, even though I’ll probably be wrong on at least one count, and say that the bottom three will be Casey, Haley, and Jacob. I’m thinking Jacob may go home based on the negativity that is felt for him, but I don’t feel he deserves to go home.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Are Birthers Crazy Or Do They Just Scare You 2: Electric Bugaloo

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Perhaps that should read Electric Boogaloo, not Electric Bugaloo.

Do you remember wayyyyy back when I wrote a Blog about the whole Birther thing and Miguel and Chris proceeded to rip me a new one? I'm not sure they did more than read the title of the Blog because I didn't stand for or against the issue. I just commented on it.

Anyway so today they finally released it! The Birth Certificate! Then the President has the nerve to call a press conference and chide people who have been raising hell about him not releasing it for more than 2 years. I have noticed that he is really good at that, chiding people. During his speech he said 'we don't have time for this silliness'. Really... it appears you started the silliness by not releasing this years ago.

Anyway Donald Trump had a simultaneous news conference. I am starting to like him more and more. I don't think he would make a good President but I do think he is asking the tough questions. Since he is so popular, the press is giving him air time. In other words Trump is the mouthpiece of opposition. When people like Limbaugh ask the tough questions the media will just ignore him as a radio right winger, but when Trump says something the media is all over him. I have no fear that he would get past the Republican Primaries.

Back to the certificate... if the birth certificate has been released what does this mean? We can put this all to rest, right? Wrong. Those who have been riled up by the whole thing are going to now think it's phony or something.

Why wait so long if the certificate existed the whole time? Do want to hear my conspiracy theory? I think at first there was an honest delay in getting this out so the whole Birther thing started. I think the WH took advantage of the kooks that came out of the wood work and I honestly believe it was a strategy to keep this fringe element out in front. Its clever politics but it just keeps the divide between the parties going.

Ok, now it's time to feel good! In keeping with Sid and Marty Kroft...

The Lost Saucer Opening
Far Out Space Nuts
Electra Woman and Dyna Girl
Dr. Shrinker
Wonderbug
Land of the Lost

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

But Now I Want Days Off

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

I’ve recently managed to get into a similar situation to when I was working security full time and pizza part time, in that I’m getting enough hours to pay my bills. It’s caused some disruption in my normal life. That’s defined as I don’t even know what Farmville is anymore.

Actually, it’s a little more pervasive than that. The big difference from before is that my pizza hours were often daytime hours and my guard hours were night time. This usually left a couple of days to choose from to go out to Nathan’s, and in some cases I was able to go see shows and concerts if there was something I wanted to see. Right now all my hours are evening and overnight. To make matters worse, the time I have off is having to be devoted to either sleeping or running errands, so even if Nathan took off work one day, I couldn’t make it out without losing lots of sleep. I’d still go, but I would be tired. As it is, if this keeps up for any amount of time, I’ll probably have to start going over on a weekend day, so that we can get to completing Season Two before it gets too hot.

The thing is that I’m not even really complaining. Sure it would be preferable if I could pay my bills on a forty hour a week job, but at least right now that’s not my reality. Until it is my reality, I don’t mind the work. My mind always looks for the benefit to the situation. You know, aside from having some money for a while.

I tend to use my time wisely for the kind of project work that is best suited for the job I’m working at a given time. If I’m at a good guard post, I write on my laptop and read books. If I’m at a bad guard post, I write on my phone sending text messages to my email, and read books in my email. If I’m delivering pizza, I listen to audio books, and keep a notebook in the seat beside me for long stoplights. If I’m doing fliers… eh, I don’t really do fliers anymore, but I would find something useful to do.

The thing is that when I’m not working enough, I always sit there and look at my dwindling cash supply and think, “I need to get another job.”

When I’m working a lot, I look at my dwindling personal life and think, “But now I want days off.”

It takes everything in me to just stick with it while I can, especially when I sit down and start reading a book like “If Chins Could Kill” by Bruce Campbell. Let me explain how the book is formatted. He spends a couple of chapters on life as a kid with two older brothers. He spends a couple of chapters on life in high school. He spends a couple of chapters on making short films with his friends. Then he spends half of the book discussing the amazingly focused endeavor that was “Evil Dead.”

They had investors. They took out loans. They set aside two months of their lives to travel out of state to film the movie. Then running out of funds they had to hit the pavement again looking for more funding. Then when they finally had the movie done (and believe me I gave you the short, simple sounding version) they then set out for months and years to sell the movie. I read all of that and suddenly I’m wondering what the hell I’m doing. Paying my bills suddenly seems insignificant.

This is how my life works. I always seem to be pushing and pulling in different directions. Sadly, if I were to cut back my hours immediately it wouldn’t make any difference. Nathan and I only get together one day a week, and the rest of my time is spent doing stuff I could do at work anyway, or stuff that actually squanders my time. At least if I squander my time while on the clock there is a paycheck attached.

I’ve been a lot more focused this time around though. One thing I remember about the old days of two or more jobs is that I would get into a funk while at work, and I wouldn’t really do anything worthwhile with my time. Now I’ve got the right idea in my head, which is that I would thoroughly hate my life if I was working this much and had nothing to show for it at the end of it all.

This makes me think of the couple of times when I didn’t work for a few months, and how neither time did I really use my time wisely. It makes me think, now would be the best time to take a few months off, while you’ve got this mindset of focus. But that’s rationalizing. It’s better said that I shouldn’t have squandered my time when I did take time off, and I shouldn’t squander time while I’m working either.

Basically what I’m saying is that I should quit wanting to change the basic situation as much as I should utilize the situation better. If it means having to lose a few hours sleep on Sunday to go get some Season Two work done then so be it. If it means prioritizing projects that can be done at work then so be it.

They say that when you’re not prioritizing your time for what you want from life that someone else is prioritizing your time for what they want. That’s probably valid wisdom, but I think sometimes it’s easy to get confused by it. It’s not so much that I’m squandering my life to employers as much as I’m not using my work time in the best possible way and I’m not budgeting the money I make in the best possible way either. Not having money can be a lot more expensive than having it.

I have a goal to write 2,190 pages this year, and if I’m smart about my time, I can have that done well before the year is up. I have a goal to organize my stuff and throw away half of everything I own, and if I’m smart about my time, I can get a lot of that done. Later when I’m working less hours, I can shift my focus to all the stuff I’m not getting done right now because I’m at work.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Dallas Comicon - May 21st - 22nd 2011

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

The Dallas Comicon is coming May 21st and 22nd. This is a yearly event that was traditionally held in Plano at their convention center but has 'upgraded' to the new convention in Las Colians. In this post I am going to cover what I hope to accomplish as a vendor at this convention so if you are looking for info about what's going on at the convention... look elsewhere.

As you all know (or don't know) I have a business I run called Renegade Anime. It is an Ebay/PayPal store where I sell Japanese Models of Anime series (like Starblazers, Robotech, etc). You can read about my business aspirations here. One of the main goals of my business was to not only sell on EBay (that's where the bulk of my business has and will continue to come from) but to setup at conventions in the North Texas area. This hasn't turned out so well. When the big shows (like this Comicon) happen I do fairly well (somewhat). You can read about my last experience here. I have attempted to set up with a smaller toy show that happens up here twice a year (and twice a year down near Austin). That group can't seem to commit to doing a show right and has canceled at the last moment (both shows). I did go to one of the shows they had in Austin but it was really lame. Click here for that disaster.

When all is said and done EBay has been my best bet. I am selling the models at some nice profit but it is not nearly as fun as setting up at a convention. With EBay I am getting those great profits but only on a bout 33%of my stock. The other items are just slow sellers. I am in no rush so I just wait. With the conventions I can put on sales and wheel and deal and turn stuff over much faster without all the shipping mess that comes with EBay.

I reserved a booth for the upcoming Comicom at the last convention. They had a special price on tables for this upcoming convention if you bought early. I wish I had reserved a 2nd table because it looks that this convention is going to be a big deal. It would be nice to have a lot of room and be a bit more noticed. I also have a lot of models and the extra space would have been nice. At the time I was more concerned with holding onto the money I wheedled out of people that weekend.

The upcoming Dallas Comicon is going to be a big deal. Not just because of the guests but the fact that I am ready to move ALOT of my stock. I am going to be doing some big price cutting. It looks like most of my models (if not all) will be 1/2 off for the entire weekend!

Come and visit us!!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Festive Easter Blog Post

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

So this is Christm… uh, Easter… They don’t really write songs for Easter do they? Hmm.

Well, I ended up having to do much of my Sunday night shift on Sunday morning instead. Why, you might ask? Well, it seems my relief called off, and they couldn’t have someone to relieve me until later, so I’ll be coming back much later than normal.

I think my relief called off because it’s Easter. I have no proof of this, but my theory is that whoever was scheduled to relieve me thought some really dumb thought before calling off, like, “What are they thinking, making me work on Easter. I’ll show them. I’ll call in.”

In the off chance that you’re reading this, you the one who called off, you didn’t show them anything, but you certainly showed me something. I mean, really. It is very selfish to call in unless you are seriously ill or not having you there won’t hurt the other workers. In this case, someone has to be here, and it fell on me. I thought I was going to leave at six, do some grocery shopping, and be in bed by seven. Nope. Didn’t happen. I hope you enjoyed your Easter.

I’m not the type to view something like this as misfortune though. I’d rather look to how I can utilize it to my benefit. I finished reading a book with my extra time on the clock, which is the follow up to “Watership Down” known as “Tales from Watership Down.” You’d like it. It’s about bunnies. Actually, come to think of it that fits the Easter theme a little. I’m also using my extra time on the clock to write this. So far so good on the benefit side.

The unfortunate thing is that I’d already talked to Nathan earlier this week to see if maybe I could come over for a few hours before I was supposed to be at work at 6 pm, and he had to decline because they have visitors. Now I don’t have to be in until much later. Of course, I can’t be content to just get caught up on my sleep. Nope. I’m going to take a short nap, and try to go see The Psychedelic Furs tonight.

Here’s the odd thing about this. I wanted to go to this show, but I decided against it. I’m in a similar situation to when I was working the guard job full time, and pizza delivery part time in that I’m getting a decent number of hours, and can get a few bills caught up. I feel I shouldn’t squander the opportunity too much. I want to write about regular work compared to creative work later.

For now I just want to deal with how I fully intended to miss The Psychedelic Furs to work. I even missed a couple of local shows I would have liked to have seen this weekend, because I couldn’t work around the schedule. I was of the mind to just suffer through not getting to go see shows, not getting to hang with Nathan, and whatever sacrifices, because my hours might decrease soon enough. When that happens, I’ll have plenty of time to do these other things, and maybe for a change, I’ll have some money set aside.

The thing is that the way this works out, I’m not losing any hours. The relief guard who is coming in for the one who called off will still be here for twelve hours. The number of hours I’m working this weekend isn’t changing. The only thing that is changing is when my hours off are, which happens to coincide with me making it out to see the concert. Aside from the cost of the ticket, I’m not losing anything by going.

And they say Christm… uh, Easter wishes don’t come true.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Flash Ahhhh!: Episode Sixteen – A Stoll through the Park on Cold Day, and Other Freakish Occurrences

by the According To Whim .com crew

(Part One by Nathan Stout)

[INT - NIGHT - RE/MAX BALLOON]

SHAG: Here, let’s go!

(Shag, Nathan, and Dentre repel down the rope into the Roaring Rapids ride. Being late winter, the ride is empty of water. Shag and Dentre land smoothly as Nathan lands on his ass... hard.)

NATHAN: Ahhhhh!

SHAG: Shut up man!

DENTRE: Quiet! Quincy is quite close and can quickly capture us!

SHAG: Nice one, my main man!

DENTRE: Right on.

(Nathan moans as he rubs his ass vigorously.)

SHAG: This is no time for self gratification.

(Nathan lashes out with a foot, and growls savagely at Shag.)

NATHAN: I’m hurting you idiot. Hey, where’d the balloon go!

DENTRE: It’s on auto-balloon pilot. I can recall it.

(The trio makes their way out of the ride, and crouch in the bushes surrounding the Roaring Rapids sign.)

NATHAN: You think they are up in the oil derrick?

DENTRE: All reports suggest they are. Let’s go, the stairs are over there.

NATHAN: We are going to the top by the stairs?!

SHAG: Of course, you blue bottomed butt bouncer.

NATHAN: Why don’t we knock out a guard, change into their clothes and ride the elevator up?

DENTRE: Where have you been??? Can you think of one time... ONE TIME when this attraction has been fully functional? That elevator has never worked, at least, not since 1981.

NATHAN: You have a point.

(The trio begins their trek up the hundreds of flights of stairs to the top of the three hundred foot oil derrick. The going is very slow, and Nathan isn’t helping things. It takes the better part of an hour and a half to make it to the top. The bottom floor is totally empty. After a short break they make their way to the upper deck.)

NATHAN: Fuck! There’s no one here!

SHAG: Hummm.

DENTRE: Perhaps my information was wrong.

(Nathan moves up to the fenced rail and plops down, enjoying the stiff breeze.)

DENTRE: This is unexpected. I need to make a call.

(Dentre gets on the phone and talks while Nathan enjoys the view in the growing light.)

NATHAN: Have you ever heard that if you drop a penny off a high place like this it can kill whoever it lands on?

SHAG: No... that’s a load of BS.

(Nathan gets a penny out of his pocket, slips it between the fence, and drops it. The wind whips it out of sight).

NATHAN: Oh man.

[EXT - MORNING - SIXFLAGS]

(Miguel staggers onto the back tar roads that criss-cross the park. He is worn out, nasty-dirty and heaving for air. He looks all around, but seems to have lost sight of the balloon. He knew he was hot on their trails until just an hour or so ago. Miguel looks up just as a penny smacks him in the forehead.)

[EXT - MORNING - SIXFLAGS]

DENTRE: Ok, I have spoken with the seller’s hub... that’s our network of agents. They have taken some heat-mapped satellite photos, and are sending them now.

(The others gather around Dentre as he pulls the map up on his phone. On the map there are a several small red blobs spread out, and a small collection of blobs together further into the park.)

DENTRE: Ok. This looks good. Let’s get going. We need to break into Quincy’s lair and take him out.

NATHAN: You mean murder?

SHAG: What else do you think he means? Can’t you read that in his mind?

NATHAN: Just the need to have some explanatory dialogue for the audience. What do we do with them once we... gulp... kill them?

DENTRE: Let’s just say we will arrange a massive foundation pouring project for some new neighborhood this weekend.

(End of Part One)

(Part Two by Chris McGinty)

(At least we hope that the thing about the penny is an urban legend. Poor Miguel. But I’m a narrator. I have to remain impartial. Nathan and Dentre walk through the park. Shag does this odd sashay, boogie oogie, slip slide, cabbage patch, still swaying sort of glide through the park.)

SHAG: Yeah, this is what I’m talking about. It would be better during the summer when all the teenage girls are out.

NATHAN: You like teenage girls!

SHAG: Ewww! No! But I like their moms. That’s what I’m talking about. I like having my run of the MILS.

NATHAN: Do I even want to ask?

DENTRE: Moms I’d Like to Shag.

NATHAN: Oh, of course.

(Suddenly they see something moving out of the corner of their eye. It’s a small boy walking along carrying a balloon.)

SHAG: Crazy, man. There shouldn’t be anyone out here.

NATHAN: Maybe he’s a robot.

(Shag and Dentre look at him strangely.)

NATHAN: Or maybe I’ve been listening to too much German electronic music.

DENTRE: Read his mind. See if he knows anything.

(Nathan concentrates.)

NATHAN: He’s thinking, “I’m lost…”

DENTRE: Well, that’s not helpful. Anything else?

NATHAN: He’s thinking, “Restroom 1 is very clean.”

SHAG: Hey, hey, what’s that over there?

NATHAN: Looks like a lump of flesh lying next to a penny. Probably not important.

SHAG: Hey, hey who is that?

NATHAN: And they say it’s better to come here during the off season.

DENTRE: Watch it guys. That’s Glass John from Mike Timmons Punch Out.

SHAG: Mike Timmons? Don’t you mean Mike Ty…

NATHAN: This is Six Flags. They don’t get the high end entertainers. It’s ok anyway. Glass John was always the easy one to beat.

(Nathan walks up to him, and takes a boxing stance. Every time Glass John tries to punch Nathan, he dodges and punches Glass John in the face. It takes hardly any time at all to knock him out. There is a large outcry of applause and cheering. Nathan is a little taken aback at first, but then starts a weird looking victory strut that he may have gotten from Dana Carvey’s Church Lady routine.)

DENTRE: Nathan! What the hell are you doing?

SHAG: Hey, hey, ha ha. Groovy, man.

DENTRE: Where is that applause coming from? And… is that hip hop, or do my ears deceive me?

(They all stop to listen. There is a rapper busting his not so dope rhymes over the terrible looped beats that sound like they were pulled from a demo version of some DJ software. Nathan is enjoying the hell out of it. They suddenly realize that the song is, “I Think I Can Beat Mike Timmons.”)

SHAG: That’s Will Smif.

DENTRE: Don’t you mean Will Smit…

NATHAN: Again, this is Six Flags. They don’t get the high end entertainers, especially, in the off season. I think Chris said he saw Petra here once.

DENTRE: A Will Smif concert. This is terrible.

SHAG: Will Smif is my dawg, y’all. He wrote my theme song.

DENTRE: I’m not complaining about the quality of the music, Shag. That’s the large cluster of people on the map that we presumed was Quincy and his gang. We’re pretty much back at square one in trying to find him, and thwart his evil plan to…

NATHAN: To what?

DENTRE: I don’t know. To do whatever it is they plan to do.

(face palm)

(End Episode Sixteen)

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Vocoder (with a sub topic: The Rockets)

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

I am no Vocoder expert so what I am going to talk about it my fascination with the Vocoder. What is a Vocoder? Here is a short video that explains them (just fast forward to 35 seconds to cut through the crap). That's so cool isn't it? Now a Vocoder is not to be confused with a Talk Box. A Talk Box is a device to bbasically use your mouth as a speaker. To see a Talk Box you can make on the cheap check out this video.

A Vocoder is a microphone hooked up to a keyboard with special software to alter your voice. You can find Vocoder software but it just doesn't seem to perform as well as an actual Vocoder keyboard. A band that made it's living using the Vocoder is a French 70's/80's band I found a while back called The Rockets. They have two really good songs (where they use a lot of Vocoder):
I will go a bit about The Rockets because they have one of interesting stories like the one I told you about a while back in my Blog about David Zed. The Rockets were a 70's 'space-themed' synth band. You can see this from their videos for Galatica and On the Road Again. They were (and still are) a French band that wasn't really popular outside their native Paris with the exception of the super fame they found in Italy (where David Zed found his fame as well). There have been somewhere aroud 25 members of the band with the last of the original line up leaving the band in 1992.

The Rockets have a tribute band called The Universal Band. They use the same gimmick, dressing in crazy space costumes with spark shooting guitars, smoke, and lasers. Here is their version of Galatica. The Universal Band also performed on that nation's version of X-Factor.

Ok, back to Vocoder. There are actually tons of albums that utilize the Vocder and you can find books about it's history in the music industry. Of course we need to mention the fact that it is used in a lot of movies and television shows too (just look at the first video).

I just wanted to mention the Vocoder today to let you all know about something cool I'd love to own but can't afford. I need to find one at a Goodwill or something.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Trainwreck Idol: Top 7

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

Paul went home last week on American Idol, and it only makes sense, because it was songs since 2000 this week, and Rod Stewart hasn’t done anything notable in that time. And an odd thing, the judges were actually giving some real critique. It’s like they couldn’t say anything bad to Paul who sucked, and now they can actually… *gasp* Paul is the judges’ Kryptonite.

Scotty did “Swingin’,”and it's a good song for a country singer. Scotty is a good country singer.

James… holy wow. You don't do Muse well, and somehow James did Muse well.

Haley did an Adele song, and for the first time I can say that I loved it. Yeah, that's her range. When I pointed out last week that there was a part of “Call Me” that sounded good, it was because she was in that range. I did point it out in the blog, didn’t I?

Jacob did “Dance with My Father” by Luther Vandross. He’s always amazing, and this was no exception. I think the last half of it really brought it to me.

Casey was great. He did Maroon 5. I don’t know the name of the song, but I like the song a lot. I think most of the singers have been in their proper range this week. Casey definitely picked the right song.

Stefano did pretty good. One of his better performances. I wonder if they should have been doing modern songs sooner, because a lot of them seemed to be in their best range tonight.

Lauren did “Born to Fly” by Sara Evans. I don’t know the song. They were making a big deal about her not being as big of a singer as the rest of them, but I think she does very well at what she does. And I think she did very well.

Watching the playback, it’s clear that Scotty is falling out of league with the rest of the singers. It gets odd at this point, because I don’t think that conceptually there is a bottom three this week. I think there is a bottom two that consists of Scotty and Stefano, and Stefano could have almost kept himself out of that if he’d been a little bit better. I think Scotty and Stefano are for sure for bottom three. The question is who else? The thing is that Haley, Casey, and Jacob have all been bottom three at one point, and of those, only Jacob seems to have raised any sort of controversy with the voters, presumably. So I’ll say Scotty, Stefano, and Jacob, though it’s only going to Jacob because it’s at that point where good singers will have to start going home. Scotty will probably go home.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cannabis dude... Happy 4/20!

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

So... happy 4/20.

So I am watching this History Channel show about pot. It shows all the dispensaries in the states who have legalized the medical use of marijuana. It talks about both sides of the issue and how it affects everything from the people taking it to the tax payers who pay to prosecute those who are arrested for it.

I'm not a pot user. I have never gotten high so I am obviously coming from the anti-pot side. That is my disclosure for this blog post today.

I must say that pot is a big industry. I am guessing it make some major money (from what I saw on the show). My brother lives in Colorado and there are a lot of pot shops there (or medical marijuana dispensaries... easier to say pot).

I have had opinions about marijuana for a long time. I grew up with a friend who's parents smoked it regularly. I know what it smells like (there is no smell quite like it). It makes me wanna puke if the truth is known. It is not a pleasant smell. I have noticed at various points when out in a busy public place like a mall someone will walk by and you can smell it on them. Anyway my opinion of it is that it bad. I guess all that anti-marijuana propaganda thrown at me as a child stuck. What probably turned me against it was the fact that those who smoke it just seem dumb. Now, if smoking marijuana could make people physically fly, calculate pie to ten decimals, or allow them to see into the future then I would probably be a big pot head... but it doesn't. It just makes the person think they can fly, makes them eat a lot of pie, and only think they can see into the future. Most of your pot heads are rather pathetic.

Now I know a lot of normal people smoke it. I can think of one right now that functions rather well in society but since I know that person smokes it, to me they are pathetic. They can't get enough out of life without having to alter their perception of it (btw that's how I feel about alcohol as well). They probably got into smoking it the same way kids get dragged into a life of smoking or beer drinking, by their peers. I can only feel sorry for them. Ok, ok back to the post...

The one thing that can make marijuana a more accepted substance is it's medicinal uses. I am sure there was a massive outpouring of happiness from the pot crowd when it was discovered that pot could be used as a proper drug. Although it has this going for it, marijuana has yet to be accepted by the masses as a legitimate drug.

I believe there is only one thing standing in the way of it's acceptance... those who are it's standardbarers... or those who promote the plant as a medical remedy. While watching this show everyone... lets get this straight... EVERYONE who was connected to this industry (from the dispensary owners to the customers who where in the stores) look like pot heads. The are nothing but a bunch of tattooed hippies. That is the big reason (for me) but more than likely the real reason is that the industry is so unregulated. They show the customers browsing the different buds of pot, picking them for their potency or whatever. Each of these dispensaries are basically some one's business where they are growing pot in the back and selling it at the front. That's not the way to make this a legitimate business and an accepted drug.

There needs to be just a  few FDA approved growers who supply the dispensaries, they need to ditch the 60's hippies running the storefront, loose the pot laced brownies and other 'laced' items and more importantly... loose the smoking part of pot. If this truly is the wonder drug that all these people claim wouldn't it be 1000% more legitimate if it was a pill? One of the people on the show even said the future of pot was ingesting it, not smoking it. Oh, btw it needs to have the same taxes levied on it as cigarettes do... the government would make a fortune!

I wrote that last paragraph as totally tongue in cheek because I know that sort of thing will never happen. Marijuana is a gateway/recreational drug and those who are trying to make it legitimate don't want to make it legitimate to help those who need it's medical qualities, they just wanna get high... end of story. Happy 4/20.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Killer Serial (Part Two)

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

There are things that I personally enjoy about writing our Saturday serial, “Flash Ahhhh!” Here they are, also in a handy dandy list form.

Lack of Planning – I think this bothered Nathan at first. Maybe it still does. The thing is that I get a lot of ideas, and I think sometimes that they don’t see completion based on the fact that I plan so much that by the time I get to whatever I’ve been planning for, it feels hard to complete. By its very nature, a serial that is written by two people with little to no discussion of direction can’t really be planned. You can do little things to shape the future of the story, but they are at the mercy of the other writer. What this means is that I’m surprised by the direction of the story, almost as though I’m a reader rather than the author. Even when I’m writing, it’s somewhat a surprise because I start with no idea what will happen.

No Budget – A long time ago, I started a project called “Inside Joke.” It got out of control, and I eventually delegated it to a future novel project. What happened is that I started writing a script one day for me, Miguel, and our pal Chris Modester (who we haven’t seen for too long) to shoot. As I kept adding to the script, I started getting some odd ideas that were not really things we had the budget to do. I did my best to write my ideas in a way that could be shot, but it got a bit crazy. Miguel, Modester, and I once did a sketch that was a plane hijacking by using Miguel’s garage as the plane and making a big joke about the limited budget. I figured some things could be done like that for “Inside Joke” but when it became clear that it was never going to be shot anyway, I wrote a number of pages of notes, and planned to write it as a novel one day. Maybe. One day. Much in the same vein, I started an “According To Whim” novel a few years ago. It was intended to be book ends to some short stories that Nathan, Adam, and I have written. It will be finished sometime this year. I can say that with some certainty, because I’m very intent this year. What the ATW novel became was an opportunity to write the “According To Whim” that we’ll never be able to shoot until we have some sort of budget, and maybe not even then. “Flash Ahhhh!” has that same appeal. It has gone beyond our ability to shoot it many episodes ago. It is a lot of fun to write for the budget we have, and occasionally see what we can do that seems a little beyond that budget. But it is fun in a completely different way to not have to pay attention to budget at all, and believe me with the serial, we don’t.

A Note about the Novel – When I was talking about the planning aspect, I was thinking about the ATW novel, because for as crazy and all over the place that it goes, there was a very specific place that it was going, and once I was only a couple of parts away from having to bring all of that together it got a little overwhelming. It’s a case where the actual plan was more overwhelming than the writing.

Collaboration – Even though it’s a very loose collaboration, it’s been a lot of fun writing something with Nathan. Miguel wrote one little part, and I was hoping he would step up and do something else, but he hasn’t. The show has been an odd hodge podge of writing styles. Season One of “According To Whim,” and much of what has been done that isn’t Season Two, falls into one of three categories: Nathan’s idea, my idea, or us having a conversation that becomes a sketch. Season Two was Nathan’s project that he seemed very intent on maintaining as his project. Season Three is an idea that we collaboratively came up with, and have been collaboratively putting together. The thing is that there was a lot of time in between Season One and Season Three, and I felt rather alienated from the creative process. And I’m seriously more about the process. I do creative work every day regardless of what’s going on, and I guess it’s interesting enough to see what I can do on my own, but if I wanted to do it all on my own I wouldn’t work with people. It seems counterintuitive.

Completing Projects – The thing that is driving me this year is getting the clutter that surrounds me organized. One thing that has always driven me nuts is my tendency to start more projects than I can finish. In some cases, I suppose it’s for the best that I’ve dropped ideas, because some of them aren’t that great. It’s when my mind keeps wandering back to a project idea with actual regret for not finishing it that I get a bit antsy about it. “Flash Ahhhh!” was one of the projects that I always felt should have been finished. Between the novel I recently finished, the ATW novel, Season Two/possibly Season Three, and “Flash Ahhhh!” I will feel very accomplished by the end of the year if they are all done. There are many more projects to work on in the coming years, and going into another year with a list of incomplete projects that is the same length or longer is just not an option for me anymore.

We’re Writing for the Blog Anyway – Finally, finishing “Flash Ahhhh!” as a year long weekly serial is perfect since we are writing for the blog all year anyway. This falls into two basic areas. I have a goal which is to write 2,190 pages this year, which I have also stated as approximately 1,277,500 words (as sort of an accounting device, since page length can be hard to gauge sometimes with different formats. For instance, I space between paragraphs on the blog, but not in book projects. Writing 2,190 pages of poetry wouldn’t be all that hard as compared to writing 2,190 pages of novel or article work. So for me, writing half of a year worth of daily blog posts is just part of the goal of 2,190 pages. In that same way, finishing “Flash Ahhhh!” is just part of writing a year worth of daily blog posts.

Anyway, if you haven’t had a chance to read the Saturday serial yet, and if you like silly humour, then why not go check it out. I would put a link in here, but I’m still having issues with the editor. The first episode posted on January 8, 2011.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Speaking as a heatless, greedy Conservative...

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

If there is one actual thing that Liberals are good at is labeling Conservatives. The whole 'greedy' or 'heartless' tag has stuck extremely well over the years. Any time you read or hear someone who knows nothing of politics there is one thing they will usually say about Conservatives:
  • Conservatives are greedy and/or heartless.
I think the proper phrase should be:
  • Conservatives want everyone to be fiscally responsible.
Of course that means being greedy and mean. Conservatives are greedy because they don't want to give away the money that they earned. They don't feel they need to be punished for being responsible. Conservatives are heartless because they don't want the government to keep spending money it doesn't have on programs that keep non-taxpayers comfy and well.. non-taxpaying.

This in a nutshell is where Conservatives get their stigma. It's one of those arguments that can so easily be turned into something negative when what it really is, is tough love. If someone in your family is down on hard times are you going to:
  1. Take care of that person indefinitely and keep them in comfort and without want?
  2. Get that person out of their funk and back on the road of life?
If you are Liberal you are talking about people you don't know you will pick #1. If that person really IS in your family you will want them to pick themselves back up and get on with life. Otherwise you are going to have them mooching off you if you don't get them back on their feet.

When you break it down it is quite obvious which is the right answer. I think everyone would take care of those loved ones BUT only to an extent. They will want them back on their own feet making it for themselves.

Conservatives are fine with taking care of those who fall on hard times but only to an extent (until those people can get back to being taxpaying citizens). Since they are not behind taking care of people indefinitely they are marked as heartless.

I can totally relate with being a fiscal Conservative. I go to work. I pay my taxes. I don't mind something like unemployment benefits for a short amount of time to help someone get back on their feet. What I don't want is people living off the government. This means that I don't want to have to pay for others who simply don't want to make the effort to get a job and progress in life. I want to pay my reasonable due to keep this great nation running and don't want to be taxed to support those things that are unnecessary. I don't want more tax increases (for anyone).

The government should not punish those who are doing the right thing by working and paying their taxes by making them pay more.

Let's look at some fact. Yes, FACTS. Not warm fuzzy feelings or any political fuzzy numbers but actual facts:
  • The current US debt is 14 trillion dollars.
  • The current US tax revenue is 2 trillion dollars.
  • The US total debt 51 trillion dollars.
Let's step away from the government for a moment...

If YOU have $5,100 in credit cards and are paid in $1,400 dollars from work but only have $200 to pay that debt after your other bills what happens to you? You are in big trouble. You will need to do some things to correct your balances:
  1. Work more to make more money to pay off the debt.
  2. Cut back your expenses so you have more than $200 to pay on your credit card.
Do you see where I am going here? The government needs to trim back that 12 trillion in expenses so it can put some of that revenue towards the 51 trillion it owes. It only has 2 trillion to work with. What o what can the government do? Why the SAME THING YOU HAVE DO YOU when you have debt...
  1. Work more to make more money. This would be the government getting more tax revenue.
  2. Cut back expenses.
Pretty straight forward huh? The only problem is that the government goes about fixing the issue in the wrong ways. They will just print more money or raise taxes.

The government needs to spend the day with the typical US (taxpaying) family. They need to see how you are supposed to be fiscally responsible.

One final note on taxes. I have looked at the previous years and the amount of tax revenue the government has taken in. It never seems to be much more than 1.8 trillion (somewhere around there).

Now with all the numbers I threw around earlier there is basically one taxpayer to every three non-taxpayers.
Why doesn't the government go after those who are not paying taxes? Why continue to punish those who are doing what they are supposed to be doing just to make those who are not paying taxes more comfortable and secure?

If they can spend the money to count every person in the nation they can spend the money to determine who can work and who can't... who should be on assistance and who should not. If we play with the tax revenue numbers we can guesstimate that the US tax revenue would be somewhere around 5 or 6 trillion if most of the people who are not paying taxes suddenly were. This would ALSO have the effect of removing the cost of supporting those people thus reducing the operating costs of the government. This is my suggestion to helping bring in more money to help pay off the debt. The next bit would be to figure out what expenses should be cut... I'll leave that up to others.

This all makes perfect sense... or it's just being greedy and heartless.

PS. For the Miguels out there, the facts for this where gleaned from the US Debt Clock website.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Killer Serial (Part One)

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

Have you read our Saturday serial, “Flash Ahhhh!” yet? It’s amazingly good. At times. Maybe fewer times than it should be. I like it though. It’s fun to write. Nathan and I swap turns writing it, and we really have no idea where it’s going.

I’m less concerned with explaining what it’s about and more concerned with explaining two things about it. The first is a little history of how it came about. The second is how it differs from the normal writing that I do, and that Nathan does.

Scripts the Early Years – My earliest memories of scripts were these odd pamphlets that we got at school that took a segment of a popular TV show, and transcribed it into a one act play. Our teacher would assign us characters in the play, and if we had a part, we would read it when we got to our part. We would read it while sitting at our desks, so it wasn’t like we were acting, but I became somewhat familiar with the script format.

Speech Class – When I lived in Azle, Texas, I ended up in a speech class right at the end of the year. We were given an assignment to do a fake radio program. But it ended up being a fake TV program, because our teacher taped it and put it on public access. The unfortunate bit here is that the show ran either at the wrong time or not at all that summer, and by the time I talked to the teacher the next year to get a copy, she said the tape was taped over. The point here is that this was the first real time I wrote a script. It’s also the first time I appeared on public access, provided it ever showed. It was me and a kid named James who did most of the work on the writing. I’ve actually written about this in detail, and it’s a great story. Maybe one day I’ll share it. But not now.

Azle, Texas – The next step down this ladder is when my friend Adam, as a teenager, wrote an odd, but very funny, parody in script form of my teenage life called “Azle, Texas.” I have a tape somewhere of teenage Adam and teenage me acting it out. It was 20+ pages, and it uses real names, so the recording can’t really be publicly released. A year or so later, he wrote a much, much longer sequel called “Azle, Texas II.” It was also very funny, and very odd. I only have a printed out script of it. I think he has a copy still. I started writing “Azle, Texas III” but only got about 20 pages done of it. I can’t remember if it was because I wanted to write it, or if Adam wanted a break from it.

Sniffles (sniff) – Miguel and I did a public access show for a while there. A lot of the first segments we did were not scripted, including much of the twenty minute chase scene we did. It’s not that we went long without scripts, or we ever stopped improvisational shooting, but it’s just worth noting. At some point, we tried to streamline our production process, and I became the primary script writer, whether the idea was mine or not.

Denton, Texas – This is where the “Azle, Texas” most closely parallels with “Flash Ahhhh!” Miguel was mildly amused by the whole idea of “Azle, Texas” and we thought to do a parody of Miguel’s college life. Miguel wrote the first few pages, along with details about some of his classmates and sights, sites, and situations that we might touch on in the parody. He handed me the script a week later, and I wrote the next few pages. We would get together about once a week or two weeks to read our part to the other, and hand it off. We really thought we were funny, by the way. I don’t remember why we scheduled a completion time, other than to just complete it. The thing about it is that we planned to do a sequel anyway. He handed the script off to me to finish, and I made the mistake of mapping out the last so many segments. (I’ll discuss the problem with planning later.) Then I set about to finish it in a couple of weeks while Miguel started the new story. Every time I turned around I got distracted. The biggest problem was that it wasn’t always life or other projects that were the distractions. In trying to get through the mapped out ending, the story became complicated, and I kept thinking of tangents. At one point I made the tangents a plot point where minority groups started demanding their own tangent. Sheesh! My last segment of the story ended up being longer than what Miguel and I had written before, and it took me a year to complete. Miguel, understandably, wasn’t too interested in any of it by then. When I transcribed the whole mess into Word files, I wrote a review of it, which basically stated that both halves were funny, but the section I wrote on my own didn’t have the same charm as what we wrote together because one of the fun parts of writing a script serialized is taking what the last person wrote, trying to figure out where to go next, and trying to figure out what kind of mess you can leave the story, and the characters, in for your co-writer to fix.

According To Whim – While it started out as a podcast that Miguel and I did, we soon started doing them with Nathan, who shot a couple of “Sniffles (sniff)” segments with us. Nathan had bought up AccordingToWhim.com, because he likes buying domain names, and because he wanted to organize the audio shows. When Nathan and I decided to do a public access show, it didn’t seem to make sense to use “Sniffiles (sniff)” since Miguel didn’t seem interested in working with us, so we used the title “According To Whim.”

Flash Ahhhh! – Nathan actually came up with this idea, even though I’ve been the cheerleader for completing the project. If you go back and read the first three episodes, you see an approximation of what we wrote back in 2005 and/or 2006. He wrote that first part and asked me to figure out what to do with it. I wrote the next segment, and passed it back to him. I told him how “Denton, Texas” had worked, and I suggested that we do a complete 30 minute show using the “you write part, I write part” method. We even started shooting it. Then he stopped adding to the script. Then I stopped adding to the script. We were planning to write a blog post for every day this year. We were trying to work out how to split the blog posting. It occurred to me that rather than each of us doing seven posts every two weeks that if we did three each, each week, and did a joint blog each week that it would be easier to keep track of. Having done a couple of scripts on the blog before, I suggested that we do “Flash Ahhhh!” as a weekly serial for the year. Nathan agreed. I edited the original writings to have better narrative flow (the way we were writing originally was meant more as a map of dialogue for shooting the sketch) and we started writing the new episodes.

In Part Two, I’ll discuss what I like about writing the serial.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Flash Ahhhh!: Episode Fifteen – Spew Ahhhh!

by the According To Whim .com crew

(Part One by Nathan Stout)

[INT - DAY - RE/MAX BALLOON]

(Nathan leans against the side of the large basket of the Re/Max Balloon watching the freak show that is Century 21 “Super” Agent Shag Carpeting. Nathan wonders how the hell things got to this point when all he originally wanted to do was go get his, Chris’s, and Miguel’s new superpowers registered with the proper authorities.)

NATHAN: So why am I along on all this? I have lost my powers.

SHAG: Not for long mannnnnn!

(Nathan looks interested.)

SHAG: Mind reading is a VERY useful power and it would be really helpful for you to have it again. Got it man?

NATHAN: So how am I going to get them back?

DENTRE: With this...

(After a quick review of Episode Two by the author Dentre holds up two grocery bags loaded with Dr. Peppers, Snickers, and donuts.)

NATHAN: I thought I’d never want to look at another candy bar for the rest of my life, but man does all that look good.

(Dentre hands the bags to Nathan who sits on the floor of the basket, opening junk food, and cramming it in his mouth.)

NATHAN: Ummm, this is good. Nom nom nom.

(Shag looks a little disgusted.)

(Dentre looks a little disgusted too.)

NATHAN: Wait.

SHAG: What is it?

DENTRE: Is something caught?

SHAG: Are you choking?

NATHAN: Wait up!

SHAG: What?!

DENTRE: Is something past its sell by date?

NATHAN: Slow down!

SHAG: What are you going on about, man?

NATHAN: Would you fucking wait up for me?!

(Dentre and Shag look at each other. Nathan looks confused as well. He gets up, spilling his sugary snacks everywhere. Nathan looks over the edge and can’t see anyone below.)

SHAG: Perhaps you have acquired a new power... multiple personalities.

NATHAN: No. That sounded like Miguel. I don’t see him though.

DENTRE: Maybe it’s an enemy agent accidentally revealing himself to us. I’m gonna take us higher.

(Dentre pulls the cord, and the balloon rises higher and higher. Nathan gives up looking. He slumps back down, and starts in on the food again.)

DENTRE: We need a game plan.

SHAG: I say we use the Foundation Inspection weapon system armed with Adjustable Rate machine guns.

DENTRE: What about the Fixed Rate weapon system?

NATHAN: Wait, wait.

SHAG: Look out, he,s gonna start spewing.

NATHAN: No. I mean wait a second with all that weapons talk.

DENTRE: Drastic times call for drastic measures. Do you realize how much commissions drop if a neighborhood decreases just 5% in value?

NATHAN: Shut the hell up.

DENTRE: What... it’s just a fact.

NATHAN: Not you, Shag.

SHAG: I didn't say anything.

NATHAN: Yes you did, you called me a fat ass.

(There was a long pause then Shag puts two and two together).

SHAG: You can read my mind!

DENTRE: We did it.

NATHAN: Burp.

SHAG: Ewww.

(Nathan looks panicked and gets up quickly and leans over the rail.)

DENTRE: Ut oh.

[EXT - DAY - STREET BELOW BALLOON]

(Miguel runs, out of breath, far below the balloon. He has been running under it for a while now. He tried to get their attention earlier with his voice-over power but it didn’t work. He tripped into someone’s backyard compost pile just as Nathan had looked around for him. Miguel has almost caught up to them again. Nathan’s head pops up over the edge of the basket. Miguel stops, breathes in deep, and opens his mouth to yell up, when Nathan spews.)

(End of Part One)

(Part Two by Chris McGinty)

(Oh good, I got here just in time to save the audience from a horrible visual description of what is probably Miguel’s worst nightmare. I mean can you imagine how horrible it would be for someone like Miguel, who is already irrationally phobic of puking, to open his mouth to yell, and then have a flood of sugar-coated vomit land on his face and into his mouth. And worse can you imagine how horrible it would be if he caught a bit of a candy bar that was not fully chewed that slipped into his throat, but didn’t quite go all the way down? Oh, and wouldn’t it be horrible if when he started gagging on the peanut chunk, it ejected from his throat, but instead of coming back out of his mouth the peanut got caught in his nose? Ugh. The only way he’d be able to get it out would be to breathe through his nose, smelling that awful stench, and letting that puke peanut cluster back into his throat. That would be awful. So I’m going to save the audience that description, and just let everybody know that soon after things too disgusting to talk about here, Miguel found a swimming pool, and jumped into it to clean off, not that it helped much. Then he tried to call Nathan on his cell phone only to find that the pool water fried his phone. He then remembered that there was a freer, gayer time (gay as in happy) when a person could spontaneously jump into a pool with all their clothes on, and not have to worry about ruining $1,000 worth of electronic equipment that they carry on their body at all times to keep in touch with people, check into social networking sites from the grocery store, read books while at the dentist office on an electronic screen that has more books than you could ever carry in the biggest backpack, check the weather while outside even though you’re standing outside in the weather, and one day to be able to turn your sprinklers on from your trip in the Bahamas, as one commercial said would one day be possible. And while we’re on the subject of the inconvenience of the convenience of cell phones, let’s discuss how bad it is for the writer. I mean, you have to actually think of stupid ways, like jumping into a swimming pool to wash off snack time vomit, to break your character’s electronic devices so that they can’t simply call the retreating comrade who is floating away in a balloon. I mean his battery was probably dead anyway, because they’ve been at this for awhile, and batteries don’t last forever you know. I wouldn’t be half surprised if the first line that Nathan speaks when we come out of this description is, “Oh no, my cell phone battery seems to be going dead.” I mean, he probably charged it at the shop, but that “Text to Schwarzenegger Voice” app takes up a lot of juice. And even if Dentre and Shag have cell phones with good batteries, I’ll just claim that they can’t get a good signal at Six Flags. Six Flags? You don’t know about what takes place at Six Flags. Oh it’s an incredible story. It has twists and turns, and it even has a giant octopus that will probably get cut out of the final print. Perhaps I should tell you this tale of action, adventure, intrigue, and probably a long wait in line somewhere. But then again, perhaps I should leave that tale to someone else, and simply tell you how things are going with Chris. Or perhaps it would be better to leave that a mystery for the time being. Maybe you would like to know what Paul, the professor, and Maryanne are… right, Angelina, that’s what I meant… are planning right now. Maybe it would be good to check in at the motor pool and see how that six month backlog is coming along. Maybe it would be a good idea… you know what. Let’s just see what’s going on with Nathan, Shag, and Dentre. Whattaya say?)

AUDIENCE: Zzzzz…

(Nathan is staring at the ground from inside the Re/Max balloon. He is having a mental conversation with his stomach to see if it’s safe to sit back down in the balloon. He finally decides that it is all over with, and sits down.)

NATHAN: Oh, it tastes better coming up. Oh no, my cell phone battery seems to be going dead.

DENTRE: It doesn’t matter. Our close proximity to Six Flags is interfering with our signals anyway.

SHAG: Oh no, I was going to turn the sprinklers on to water my pet rocks.

(Nathan rolls his eyes, but the excessive movement makes his stomach start threatening more, so he stops.)

DENTRE: Oh wait, I was holding my phone upside down.

(Consequences be damned. Nathan rolls his eyes. His stomach maintains.)

NATHAN: Why are we at Six Flags? It’s in the middle of the winter. No one is going to be here. Oh wait; there won’t be any long waits in line.

DENTRE: We have intelligence reports that Quincy the Glassbreakers’s crew of bad doers may be using the closed down park as a hideout.

NATHAN: Bad doers?

DENTRE: I’m a real estate agent, not a novel writer.

(Meanwhile, Quincy the Glassbreaker and his “bad doers” are meeting to discuss the situation at hand. Mugsy the Coffeemugbreaker speaks up.)

MUGSY: See, this is how it is, see? Our sentry at the north end of the park spotted a Re/Max balloon approaching the park, see?

(Loony Goon the Sentrybreaker speaks up.)

LOONY: I hate people who stand watch. Let me at him. I’ll muss him up something bad.

QUINCY: It’s ok, Loony. He’s doing his job. I promise that if any guards fall asleep or get snuck past by our foes because they’re too busy writing a blog on the job, I’ll let you muss them up something bad.

(Loony agrees sullenly. It’s at this moment that one of Quincy’s henchmen ushers in a group of boxers.)

QUINCY: Ah, my secret edge. Ladies and gentlemen, let me present to you the fighters from Mike Timmon’s Punch Out.

(Lacey the Heartbreaker speaks up over the sobs and pleas of her recent boyfriend.)

LACEY: Mike Timmons? Don’t you mean Mike Ty…

QUINCY: We’re small time criminals, Lacey. We get the knock offs. And what have I told you about bringing boyfriends to work?

LACEY: He’s my ex. He won’t stop following me.

LOONY: Was he ever a security guard, or other form of sentry?

LACEY: Yeah, he’s kind of a loser like that.

(Off screen we hear a brutal beating, and some whiny emo kid saying to Lacey something about this beating not hurting as much as losing her. Meanwhile, the henchman introduces the boxers to Quincy. He starts by introducing Glass John, who Quincy immediately punches out.)

QUINCY: That wasn’t as satisfying as it should have been.

(End Episode Fifteen)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Season 2: Filling in the gaps

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Season 2 is moving along as you can all see in the 'Season 2 Big Fix' series of articles. With the recreation of the series comes the normal issue short running times. As I have said in the past when you have a 30 page script (one page is supposed to equal one minute of screen time) you always come up short. This sort of thing just happens (with amature stuff, I doubt it happens in real Hollywood productions).

With Season 2 I have noticed a trend that my 30 page scripts always seem to come in about 10 minutes short. That even included credits, intermissions, etc). In the original scripts I wrote there wasn't even an intermission but soon I realized that I would be coming up short so I would need to make some 'filler'.

When I began Season 3 I was fully aware of the issue so I made the script longer on purpose. At one point (right before the crash) I had episode 1 (of Season 3) about 99% complete and it looked like I was only coming up about a minute short.

Back to Season 2... Having an episode coming in at 20 minutes is not big deal if you are going to just cut it up and post it online. The problem is the running time on Fort Worth Public Access Television is 30 minutes... exactly. This means that there is 10 minutes I need to fill in each episode. This has required me to come up with additional scenes. These scenes have been shot anywhere from 6 months to 2 years after the initial six day shoot:
  • Episode 1: Nathan and Chris try to write a book.
  • Episode 1: Nathan and Chris find ways to make money.
  • Episode 3: Chris fools Nathan about having 2 guitars.
  • Episode ?: Nathan and Chris talk about the ring Brooklyn made him wear.
  • Episode ?: Nathan gets his revenge on Brainbox Corp for firing him.
There are several more and there are also several more to be shot. In the show there is a character that we refer to names Paul Tygers. The name is a take on our old landlord from our comic book shop days. This character is a 'do it yourself' type. He is simply used as a plot device but now that I need more I decided to write him into a couple of scenes. A guy that works in our department wants to be in the show so I wrote 2 new scenes and a phony commercial for Paul Tygers: Handyman. He doesn't play much more of a pivotal part in the series, but it will help fill in time.

Even after the Paul Tygers scenes I will still need a lot more filler. The one tricky thing about filler is that it must fit into the overall storyline. You also need to make sure the scenes visually match the original. Nathan's hair needs to be short, Chris' goatee needs to be long, you need to make sure the camera is on 4:3, 60fps... all those little things that will stick out like a sore thumb if you goof it up.

One final note on that last paragraph. When we originally began to shoot it was my intention to make Season 2 look really good by using 24 frames per second and 16:9 wide screen. About three hours into shooting I noticed it was still set on 60 frames per second. I cringed at the goof but decided to carry on with the higher frame rate. It just makes the shots look more like video as opposed to that film look. I did fix this issue in Season 3.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Trainwreck Idol: Top 8

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

I stayed up to watch American Idol, and I know I’ll regret it later when I don’t get enough sleep, so I’ll make this short, and I might skip editing it. This week it was songs from the movies.

Paul did “Old Time Rock ‘n’ Roll.” On “year of their birth week” I joked (though not in blog I don’t think) that Rod Stewart had to have had a song out the year of Paul’s birth. That’s all that Paul can do well is Rod Stewart. And I know for a fact that Rod Stewart had a song in “Innerspace.” Some guys do have all the luck, and I’m going to do nothing but complain. Paul sucked. Hope I was clear.

Lauren did some sort of Miley Cyrus song. I think it’s called “The Climb.” She was really good, but by the end of the show I realized that I didn’t really think anyone was all that remarkable. They all played it very safe… except James, who didn’t do anything we didn’t expect, but did it amazingly.

Stephano did Boyz II Men. I never really liked them, and I don’t think he did all that great with the song. It’s called “End of the Road” almost begging to be sent home. See! Even Steven said it. Though he was like, “It’s not the end of the road for you.” Might as well be, because I don't think he did any better than weeks before.

Scotty… has a good country voice. I'm glad Scotty changed his song choice. He was going to fuck up Harry Nilsson.

Casey did “Nature Boy.” I’ve never heard the song. They gave him crap for not doing “In the Air Tonight,” but that was from a TV show anyway. I think he sang very well, but I don’t know if people will get it.

Haley did “Call Me.” Eh.

Jacob did “Bridge over Troubled Waters.” He took a very gospel take on it. He still has a great voice, but like I said before, no one took chances.

James had the best song pick of the night. Sammy Hagar’s “Heavy Metal” from the movie of the same title. It was “risky,” yes, given that it’s only well known amongst those of us who are fans of the movie. But it wasn’t all that risky, because he was the only one that wasn’t dreadfully boring (regardless of how well they sang.)

Where’s Simon? Seriously? Joke’s over.

My roommate said something last week about how the girls weren’t doing so well this year, and I realized that there are only two left, and we started with seven. Then it occurred to me that there has not been a single guy sent home since the main competition started. Crazy.

So Lauren will go home, not because she’s bad, because she’s one of the best, but because she’s a girl, and Haley falls under the “I suck as bad as Paul and/or I am Paul” protection clause. I’ve gotten to the point that I’m not even going to waste my time trying to guess the bottom three based on performance. Though if I were going to, Paul, Stephano, and Haley, and any of them can go home.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Review: Red Dwarf Season 1

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Welcome to the first of many of reviews all about the British comedy Red Dwarf. For those who don't know, Red Dwarf is a British Science Fiction comedy about the last human being alive. This is the first part of the reviews that will span all eight seasons as well as the Back to Earth specials. Perhaps when the next season finally comes out I will add it to my list of reviews.

Season 1 (1988)

Episode 1 - The End
Obviously shot for ten dollars the first episode of Red Dwarf eptimizes what the seires is all about... the interaction of Lister (the main character) and Rimmer (the bunkmate and supervisor). The episode is based around Lister getting put into suspended animation (for smuggling a cat on board the mining ship he works on called Red Dwarf) and being revived three million years later. The ship's computer revived Lister after a dangerous radiation leak killed off the crew but did so after radiation levels were safe. Lister is stuck with the computer (Holly), his dead bunkmate who is brought back as a computer generated hologram (Rimmer), and a man who evolved from his original cat (Cat). Nintey percent of the comedy is the interaction between the crew and doesn't rely on sci-fi story plots. As I said the series didn't get real money until the third season so all these episode are very low budget. The fact that the series survived until it had the money is a testment to the writing by Doug Naylor and Rob Grant.

Episode 2 - Future Echos
The ship has been traveling for three million years, gaining speed and it breaks the light barrier and the crew starts seeing themselves in situations that haven't happened yet. Rimmer sees Lister die in an explosion so there is that tension until its revealed that it was one of Lister's future sons that died (since they are seeing whats going to happen in the future). We do however see Lister with two babies which are explained in Season 2 and 3.

Episode 3 - Balance of Power
Life on Red Dwarf is unbearable with Rimmer constantly pulling rank and making Lister do work in order to get stuff he wants (like cigarettes). Rimmer has had the ship's little robots (skutters) hide them so he can dole them out as Lister does his work. Lister decideds to beat Rimmer at his own game and attempts to take a test and get promoted over Rimmer's position of 2nd technician. Rimmer is sure this will fail until it is revealed that Lister is going to take the chef's exam as opposed the astronavigation exam. This episode is pure excellence. It is storytelling at it's best. This is what early Red Dwarf is all about to me. It solely focuses on the characters and provides laughs without having to spend hardly any money!

Episode 4 - Waiting For God
As it turns out, Lister is god to the cat people. When the crew died in the radiation leak Lister's sumggeled-on-board pregnant cat was sealed in the ship's hold where they bred and bred for three million years until Felis Sapiaens emerged. The story of Lister's sacrafice (of not giving up the cat to the ship's crew for disection) and being put into suspended animation as a punishment was passed down and became the crux of their religous views. At the same time Lister is finding all this out a mysterious pod is found and brought on board. Rimmer is convinced its aliens that can give him a new body (he is a hologram and can't touch anything). This episode is the one and only time there appears to be another person on board the ship. There is an old cat-man who Lister visits as he is dying. The man is given absolution by his god (Lister The Stupid) before he passes away.

Episode 5 - Confidence And Paranoia
Lister gets ill from some form of mutate flu and his dreams turn into reality (along with two people who represent his confidence and his parianoia). These two people are unwanted by Rimmer and he does his hologramatic best to get rid of them. Lister is having a great time and doesn't seem to mind the attention of Confidence. In the end Confidence helps Lister look for the dead crew's hologram discs so Lister can bring back some one more interesting than Rimmer. After finding the crew's discs Lister plugs in his old girlfriend's disc and boots it up. A second Rimmer appears. Rimmer knew Lister would one day find the discs so he copied his own so there are now two Rimmers on the ship.

Episode 6 - Me2 (squared)
Rimmer moves in with the copy he made of himself and get along just famously... for a while. Soon the two clash and life becomes unbarable for the original Rimmer. Lister is annoyed with all the fighting so he decided to put an end to all of it by erasing one of the Rimmers.

So ends the first season of Red Dwarf. As I have said many times I feel the first three seasons are the best. I enjoy the fact that there is a lot of character interaction.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Trainwreck Idol: A Few Eliminations Later (Part Two)

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

On Sunday, I discussed how well I did picking those who would make it into the competition. Today, I will discuss where my “predictions” finally started going drastically wrong.

By the time we got to Top 13, I was pretty dead on as to who would make it, which was pretty good since that elimination was from Top 24 to Top 13. You can go back and read my Top 13 review if you want to see what I got wrong.

I didn’t so much make a prediction as to who would be eliminated the week of Top 13 as I said that about half of them were bad and finally decided on three that weren’t entirely right. They sent Ashton home, and while I had said she was in danger of going home soon, I didn’t predict her in the bottom three. I did say Haley and Karen for bottom three though, and I was right.

Let me discuss Thia for a moment. She was eliminated in the double elimination, and I’m sad. She is an amazing singer, but if you go back and read my thoughts, I was always worried that she wasn’t being noticeable enough to be voted for. Even as far back as Top 13 I was saying she was very good, but I wondered how the audience would react.

Top 12, I was dead on. I pointed out that I almost should have picked who would go home, but I think I would have picked Naima, and that would have made me wrong.

I think that maybe doing so well so far, because as this illustrates I haven’t been too far off on too many things, made me a little too confident and I decided I would try to predict the rest of the season to see how close I would get.

Did I think I would get it all right? No. I was a little too specific for that.

Did I think I would get it basically right? Yes. I think I may still get it basically right, but immediately starting that night (I posted my prediction Thursday morning) with the near elimination of Casey, things really started falling apart with my prediction.

I said Haley or Stefano would go home the week of Top 11. Even after the double elimination, they are both still there (and neither was in the bottom three the week of the double elimination) I was right about Naima being gone by Top 8. If Haley or Stefano go home this week (which I’ll know by the time I post this) then I’ll have been right about two. But Thia I had in the Top 6, but with that nagging feeling. I’m just glad that I had her at 6 and Casey at 5, because, well, Thia’s gone, and Casey would be gone were it not for the save. No one in my Top 4 has been in the bottom three yet. Meanwhile, Scotty, who I don’t think will quite make it to Top 6 has also never been in the bottom three, and with Thia gone, someone has to go into the Top 6 position that I didn’t predict.

If I simply moved everyone up a slot based on Thia being out, it would go like this Pia, Jacob, James, Lauren, Casey, Scotty (Top 6) with Paul going home at Top 7 (minus the save I predicted because it’s gone.) But the interesting thing here is that both Stefano and Haley were safe and Paul was bottom three. So at this point, I can’t really call the order that those three will be eliminated.

This is all of course prior to Top 9, so I’ll have to revisit this after this week. Just that since I’m examining things, I thought I would put all this out there. Thing is that when I made my big prediction, I said, and I quote, “Zzzzzz” Well, before I fell asleep (I was tired that day). I said, “Unless something drastic happens in the coming weeks to make me revisit my thoughts here, I’ll just let it go until the Top 6 is chosen, and then see how well I called it.” Well, some drastic stuff happened.

Was it just that Casey had two really bad performances in a row and people started saying, “Man, get rid of him”? I don’t think that’s what it was. First of all, his performances may not have been as good as they should have been, but there were worse performances.

The thing is that Ryan made a comment to the audience recently when they booed an elimination or a bottom three or something. He said something to the effect of, “You did this,” suggesting that the audience votes dictated the bottom three. In concept, he’s right, except that there is a real problem.

If you only vote for one person then you are only saying that there is one person who deserves to be there. Let’s look at my Top 6 after that show:

Pia, Jacob, James, Lauren, Casey, and Thia.

If I only voted for one person, I would have voted for Pia (based on that.) That would have still sent Casey home. In fact, if I voted for my four faves, it still would have sent Casey home. In fact, even if I voted numerous times for my four faves, Casey, home. The point is that Casey’s standing of least votes wouldn’t be affected by my votes because I’m not voting for who I think should go home. Even if half of the people who voted agree with me exactly and voted numerous times for their four faves, guess what. Yep. Casey. Home.

If it was vote for your least favourite, and we’ll send the person with the most votes home, Casey would have never been sent home that week.

It might actually be fairer that way too. As it stands right now, for America to have actually chosen America’s ideal bottom three during Top 11, everybody would have had to vote exactly once for eight of the contestants. And if you wanted to vote numerous times, you would have had to vote equally numerous times for eight of the contestants.

By the way, if I would have actually voted, I would have voted for Thia based on the fact that I liked her, and was always worried about people being lackluster in their support of her. I would figure Pia will be fine. Jacob will be fine. James will be fine. Lauren will be fine.

Casey will be fine.

And on that I would have been wrong, as it seems many people were wrong that Casey would be fine. Sorry Ryan, but America didn’t do it. American Idol’s backward way of voting did it. The problem is of course that we’re trained to vote for the best. It would be confusing to tell people to vote for someone they don’t like.

The system presumes a false logic. Look at it this way. If I tell you to vote for your favourite, and you vote for Jacob then you have said to me, “Jacob is my favourite.” Then I come back and say, “Casey is your least favourite.” You might look at me like I’m crazy. How can I say that? By using false logic, I would say, “You didn’t vote for Casey, so he must be your least favourite.” You would then say, “I voted for Jacob. I didn’t vote for anyone else. The other ten contestants can’t all be my least favourite.” And you would be right, but the way the voting works, that’s exactly what it presumes.

My theory on the matter is that you should take the number of contestants that week, and vote that many times for your favourite, that many times minus one for your second favourite, that many times minus two for your third favourite, and keep going like that until you get to someone you don’t want to vote for.

There are theories that the phones are busy for certain contestants, and other such things, but I’ve thought about it, and I really believe that what I wrote is the actual problem, coupled with the fact that we don’t see the results as they are. Some seem to think that the order they perform says something about their positioning, but it’s not something I can easily figure out, so I think it may not be true.

So… Pia.

I said that I would finish this after I saw this week’s results, and a major upset occurred. Pia got sent home. I don’t know if this supports my theory or not, but seriously, how screwy is that?

Going back to what I was saying about knowing the results. If people knew that Pia was (or wasn’t, who knows?) lagging in the votes, maybe they would have done something, but again, I think everyone thought she was safe. And again with the bit about blaming the voters. There were only two people who got any sort of constructive criticism, which is about as negative as these judges get, and that was Pia and Stefano. If they were actually calling it as it was, there may have been a different bottom three.

My roommate pointed out that “So You Think You Can Dance” has a bottom three like system, but the judges decide who in the bottom three should be sent home. Maybe that’s the answer. When one save isn’t enough, it seems very odd to continue thinking that your voting procedure is working.

I’m somewhat about the random. If there is one thing I can say about American Idol, it’s that there is a random element to it. What should be pretty well ordered produces strange results sometimes. I know these people want to win, and who can blame them? But win you really get down to it… um, that should be when… Adam Lambert really won. Chris Daughtry really won. The competition is just that, the competition. What really matters is what these people do after the show is over.