Thursday, June 30, 2011

How to Save My Space (Part Two)

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

In Part One, I discussed creating a trustworthy social networking site, and instituting a sign up fee to create revenue and cut down on spam. If these seem like ideas that are bad, you can either go read why I feel they’ll work, or you can just read today’s suggestions, which you’ll probably think bad too.

This is where the next knee-jerk reaction is going to come, but please have an open mind.

Delete accounts that are not active. *smiling again because I know that seems anti-internet to some of you*

One of the big issues with a social networking site, an email site, a blog site, and any number of sites made up of user content is that there reaches a threshold of how much storage space the sites can afford to maintain. The way that My Space has always dealt with this is that if you delete your account, everything associated to your account goes away, including comments on other people’s accounts. While this saddens the archivist in me, it makes sense from the standpoint that you’re not saving a ton of messages and comments that were generated by spam accounts.

The thing is that there are many accounts out there that people set up thinking they would join this My Space craze, and then they just didn’t do anything with it. Also, there was a spam account that I had on my top friends lists (because I thought it was funny to have a spam account in my top friends) that just sat there for over a year before it finally disappeared. There are accounts that were very active, but then for one reason or another became less active. This can be because the owner of the account just doesn’t sign in often or at all. This can be because the owner of the account has sadly passed on, and the family has either not shut down the account or can’t shut down the account. And let me say that having lost a couple of online friends, I wish for their accounts to always be there as a testament to who they were, but from a perspective of maintaining web space I understand the unfortunate need to sometimes get rid of unused accounts.

So how do you do this? You do this with a point system that tracks activity, and auto-deletes accounts that show no activity for a long while. The key to this is to make it nearly impossible for anyone to lose their account unless they are literally not using the account at all.

I’m going to explain it, but let me say two things. The first is that it will be a little complicated and you might space out a little. The second is that this is the best way I have to execute this. I don’t know if it’s the best way.

The basic explanation is that you receive points when you sign in and when you create content and activity, and you lose points when you don’t sign in. Three things. The first is that you make it so that you are rewarded more for using the site, and only penalized when you don’t use the site for long periods of time. Second is that you have to have a way to allow people to avoid penalties if they know in advance that they won’t be using the site for a while. The third is that you only give people points for their activity. You don’t give people points for others commenting them or anything like that. This avoids people bugging you all the time to comment on their stuff. We’ll get to all of this, so please bear with me.

First let me deal with how you lose points, so that I can best explain how you won’t lose your account unless you never sign in. If you don’t sign in for a day you lose 100 points. If you don’t sign in for a week you lose an additional 200 points. This means that if you don’t sign in for a week, you’ll have lost a total of 900 points. If you don’t sign in for four weeks you lose an additional 400 points. This means that if you don’t sign in for four weeks you’ll have lost a total of 4,000 points. Note that if you sign in once a week, you would only lose 2,400 points, so you’re penalized more heavily for longer stretches of time.

The first thing you do is you start everyone out at 24,000 points. This is given automatically to the people who already have accounts (who I will remind you that you do not want to betray) and is also given to new accounts when they pay the $100 fee. This means that under the new rules, you will not lose your account for six months, which should be a reasonable enough timeframe to let everyone know what is going on. Face it. If you can’t be bothered to sign in to an account a few times over the course of six months, you probably don’t need that account.

Next, you give people 100 points when they sign in each day. This is only once a day, so you get no more for signing in 100 times a day than once a day. Though I will be discussing ways of getting smaller amounts of points, and if you wanted to allow people to earn an additional 10 points for additional sign ins, though at a maximum of 40 points a day for it, that might be ok.

Note that if you signed in only once a week, you would eventually lose your account anyway, and we don’t want that, because we don’t want to penalize people who just happen to use their accounts less. To deal with this and be fair to everyone you would give people additional 600 points if they signed in at least once during a given week. You would give people an additional 1000 points if they signed in at least once in a given month. This way the only accounts that will ever go away are accounts that are very heavily neglected. This means that if you sign in every day in the month of May you would gain 4,700 points. If you signed in once in the month of May on the last day, you would lose 4,100 points, but you would gain 1,600.

Finally, there would be an option for people who go below 4,000 points to call My Space and get “free” points to maintain their account. I believe that with the right business model, you could actually have a call center that dealt with specific problems. One such problem would be to make sure that people aren’t losing points when they shouldn’t, and that they won’t lose their account just because they don’t check in as much. Again, the point system on it’s surface is just a way to literally phase out unused accounts, not to penalize people for not using their account as much as others. Make that clear. Remember. Trust.

Additional points would be gained in many ways. Once a day you could gain 20 points for posting a blog. Once a day you could gain 20 points for posting a picture. Once a day you could gain 20 points for listening to or editing a playlist you have on the site. I’m sure there are other things you could do, but you would have to make sure that people would never gain lots of points for potentially spamming. And never for people commenting on their blogs, pictures and so forth, so that you don’t have people who are playing the point game bugging you 24/7 to comment their shit.

You could give people small amounts of points for things that could be potentially spamming. For instance you could gain 1 point for commenting on pictures or blogs, but never more than 5 points a day. You could gain 1 point for posting in a Group or Forum, but never more than 5 points a day.

Finally, you could give people 10 points for status updates, but never more than 40 points a day. And like I said above maybe they could get an additional 10 points for each sign in beyond the first at a maximum of 40 points a day.

The point is to give people points for signing in and for activity, but to limit the amount of points so that the activity isn’t largely false activity. I would even suggest that you make a policy that literally caps the number of points you can gain in a given period of time, so that if there is ever a glitch, you can go back and deal with it. Why? Well, because I would suggest that there be a reason to gain points beyond just not losing your account, and so you wouldn’t want someone riding a glitch and falsely gaining points. I’ll get to that in a moment.

Another way to create activity for points would be to have My Space sanctioned contests, like bands submit one song each and people vote on it. Each account could vote once, and gain points for that vote. The winner of the contest gets so many points for their band’s page. People submit one blog post each and people vote on it, each account can vote once and gain points for that vote. The winner of that contest gets so many points for their page. The point here would be to encourage people to submit quality content, and encourage people to experience that content.

As I have it mapped out above, people could gain about 250 points a day, plus a potential extra 3,400 each month if they signed in at least once a week. So in a 30-day month, each account could gain over 10,000 points, which would be around three months that they don’t have to worry about losing their service. My next suggestion is that once people have created a buffer zone of a little over a year that they could not sign in and not lose their account, say 50,000 points, that they could spend points above the 50,000 on offers made by trustworthy advertisers. This could create another stream of revenue if you allowed people to buy 24,000 points for $100. The thing here would be to work with advertisers to make offers that would literally benefit people, and benefit people well, for paying that kind of money. I don’t have examples, but again, as a means of being a trustworthy site, you don’t want to fuck people over, because $100 is a lot of money, and signing in every day for months at a time is a lot of time investment. You would have to make it seriously a great deal for people to spend some of their points. This is why I discussed the idea above of covering for glitches that give people more points than they should have, and why I suggested having a call center to deal with unfairly lost points.

A word of caution, because I’m sure some of you can already see the Farmville Farm Cash model in the point system. Be sure to be somewhat generous with the points if it promotes activity and community on the site, but be very careful not to ever give out points for unverified promotions, and be ruthless about spam that offers points. Suspend accounts that offer points in spam posts and so forth, and require the owner of the account to contact you in the case of a hacked or phished account.

The reason I suggest the point system is meant to be twofold. The first is to be able to delete old accounts that are not used. The second is to create an active community. If the second can’t be achieved without causing trouble, I would suggest just regularly looking for accounts that haven’t had a log in for six months, and contacting the account owner to see if they still wish to keep the account. If there is no response in a reasonable amount of time then delete it.

The other reason for the point system though is that there are Groups and Forums on My Space that are never used, and also take up storage space. By assigning a point system to those as well, you could eliminate a lot of the well-intentioned, but poorly executed, groups out there. I would suggest the same point loss system, but allow the Groups and forums to gain 100 points for each post made to the Group each day up to 500 points. In a month’s time a group could gain multiple months of life, so that an active Group would never go away. Though I would cap a Groups’ point totals at something like 50,000 points so that if it suddenly stops being active it’ll have a chance of being phased out after a year or so depending on how inactive it actually is.

So that’s my thought on saving My Space. A lot of it has to do with creating revenue without pissing off the current account holders. A lot of it has to do with creating a semi game state for account holders that would promote an active community. Some of it has to do with thinning out the amount of content that remains stored on the servers in the interest of active content. And it’s all rooted in an idea of re-branding My Space as a social networking site that can be trusted (and really can be trusted), and is beneficial to its account holders rather than trying to fuck them over at every turn just to bring in some advertising dollars.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Texas Comicon in San Antonio - Part 2/2

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

In my last post I started writing about what happened in San Antonio at the Texas Comicon. Today I will pick up the story about my selling at a booth there and finish it out with the money totals and my impressions.

That's Brent Spiner at my table... no really... well no.

Before the show actually opened (while I was still setting up) a guy came by (who was not a vendor so I don't know how he got it). He was interested in all of my Gundam Wing model kits and bought them all ($156 worth). I gladly sold them (only wishing I had marked them up more). Like I said before once the show opened it was really slow. I figure most people were going to wait until Saturday to come out... at least I hoped. My wife got some pictures (I kinda forced her) with some of the people in costumes while we hung around, not getting hardly any sales. As we were leaving I noticed that the parking lot was taped off and there was a sign stating that event parking was $3. I couldn't believe this. They were charging people to park in the event center's parking lot for $3 a pop.

At the end of the day we covered our tables up and left the show. We ate at Red Lobster (at my prompting) then made a stop at Garden Ridge. The show ended at 6 on Friday so we had some time to kill before going back to the hotel. That evening I sat in the room and watched King of Kong: A Fist full of Quarters on one of the ESPN channels. I had seen it through NetFlix and really liked it so I basically watched it all again.

The next day we got there and got ready. This time there were people waiting to get in. They opened the doors and the slow trickle started to become a roar of people. It still wasn't Dallas Comicon crowds but it was much better than Friday. I went out side to the truck and saw that there were like 600 people waiting in line to get in! I was really excited. Over the next two hours the crowd got bigger and bigger inside.

For some reason the Texas Comicon had a lot of people in costume... alot. I am guessing that one in five people there was in costume. I like to say that people who come dressed up in costumes are attention whores but that is a huge rude generalization... but in some cases it's true.

I sold fairly well on the 2nd day... once again not to Dallas Comicon standards but fairly well. We needed to head out on Saturday before it got too late so we wouldn't be getting home too late. Earlier in the day the guy that was running the table next to ours stopped by and pointed to the box of NetRunner boosters I had and said he had some and would I like to buy them from him. I said sure (not knowing if he had loose cards or a booster box). He brought over a sealed box of Proteus boosters! I asked him how much and he said ten dollars! I bought them and hid them as quickly as possible in my stuff... NOT FOR SALE. Even if things didn't sell well the coup of finding a box of Proteus boosters for ten dollars made the trip worth it! In secret gratitude I offered the guy the use of my booths for the rest of Saturday and all of Sunday since I was not staying. He also told me he had some loose cards at home and would email me with a price. I am eagerly looking forward to that.

We headed home and got there at about 9:30pm. All in all I sold $650 worth of stuff. Very little of that was profit and when you calculate the cost of gas to get down there, hotel room for two nights, food, etc I am sure I made little to no money on the total deal. The Proteus box will bring me back into the black once I sell it on Ebay. In the end I have decided not to go back to the San Antonio Comicon and if for some reason I do (like a change of venue) I will only go on Saturday and Sunday, not Friday.

There were plenty of people there but no one seemed to want to part with much money. I am guessing its a combination of the economy and my product base. I will just keep on trucking and making by bigger profits online.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How to Save My Space (Part One)

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

There was an article recently that discussed the fact that My Space may disappear soon. The issue is whether or not there is a buyer for it. The current owner, NewsCorp, is willing to shut it down to stop the losses. As I understand it, the site has lost traffic to Facebook, and so it’s harder to maintain the site.

Some of what I’m going to say is going to get the good old fashioned, knee-jerk, “it’ll never work” reaction from some of you, so I will ask that if you’re going to invest any time into reading this that you invest enough time to read the whole thing. If you still think I’m dumb at the end of it, so be it. So without further ado, here is one way to save My Space…

Institute a one-time $100 fee for new accounts! *smiles cos I know that some of you are already knee-jerking* Allow me to explain.

The first, and most important, point here is that you do not, I repeat do not, charge a fee to anyone who currently has an account. We’ll talk about how to get rid of those bastards in a minute. I mean, we’ll deal with old, unused accounts in a little bit. When people signed up for My Space in the past it was with an understanding that aside from having all of their personal information available to every fucking body in the world that their account would be free. Do not betray the people who were on My Space to begin with.

This by the way is not intended to punish those who come into the My Space fold late. If My Space was to make a comeback, and the membership started rising again, it might seem unfair to charge the newcomers. The fee would serve two important purposes though. The first is that over the course of the next few years if there are one million new accounts, you have made $100 million in revenue. Now, I know what the greedy capitalists (you know who you are) are thinking right now. You’re thinking that if you charge everyone who already has an account… Get that thought out of your mind. You’ll create such a massive resentment that everyone will allow their account to be deleted, and since no one will be on the site anymore, no one will want to join. I repeat do not betray those who are already there.

The second reason for the fee is much more important than even the revenue. It will all but eliminate spam. Yes, there will be some that seeps through the cracks (the thought of Spam seeping is kind of gross), but the crazy ass people out there that create hundreds of accounts a day and send you multiple friend requests of the same nearly undressed woman who seems to have thirty different names will dry up. Here’s the thing. I think My Space has done some work to stop that, as when I do sign in, I don’t see as much of it as I used to, but I’ve rarely had random friend requests on Facebook. While that article said that they weren’t sure why My Space is suffering from loss of users, I can promise you that’s why.

First, there were some people who genuinely bailed on My Space because of functionality, and there were some who genuinely bailed because of the high levels of spam. Second, when a large percentage of your “user base” is spam accounts and you eliminate the spam accounts… well, guess what happens to your “user base.”

Having an accurate count of your “user base” for advertisers will create better trust with your advertisers, and less spam will create better trust with the account holders. This is the next point, actually, building trust.

Pick your advertisers better, and where possible, pick advertisers who are willing to genuinely give something of value to your users. Also try to avoid advertisers who are merely interested in spamming your client base once they click on the ad. If you take an advertiser’s money, and they then start spamming your clients, your clients will feel betrayed by you. I realize that this is probably a very hard one to follow, because if you don’t have the money to maintain your business, you don’t have a business.

The thing is that companies like Amazon, eBay, and Paypal (I understand that these are all sellers and moneychangers, but the point is still valid) have made a killing off the fact that in a very untrustworthy market place (the internet) that they are as trustworthy as they can reasonably be. Social networks are infamously untrustworthy, and at the moment we put up with it because we have no other option. If you create an environment where people feel safe to click on the ads, you will have more revenue from ads, and you will brand yourself as a trustworthy company.

In Part Two, I will discuss deleting unused accounts, which I’m sure would be very unpopular in ways, but I believe that if you read my longwinded approach to it, you’ll see that it just might make sense. I’ll see you then.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Texas Comicon in San Antonio - Part 1/2

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Today I am going to write about my experience at the Texas Comicon which takes place in San Antonio Texas. This year's convention took place this last weekend and I attended, selling my model kits from RenegadeAnime.com.

I will start with this very detailed account with the beginning of all my convention sign ups. Back in January I started looking for conventions to attend to sell my products. The point of this was to be able to shift a lot of stuff and sell on Ebay as a secondary means of selling. I could sell the product at conventions at a greater discount in order to rotate out stock and see what sold best. When the first convention came around in late January my stuff didn't sell so well. This was the 'Women of Sci-fi' convention at the Plano Convention Center. I wrote about it back here. This convention experience made me rethink my pricing at conventions and when the next convention rolled around (not including the crappy toy show) in May it was a much bigger deal. Of course this could have been because of the much larger venue or the fact that I really cut my prices. I basically decided that I would sell the model kits at 50% off what I charge online. In many cases this brought me within a dollar of the actual cost of the item. Sure the profit margin is low but getting a lot of sales means that I can make more contacts, pass out more business cards, and make people generally aware of the business. It also allows me to make more orders with my vendor in Japan, increasing my visibility and discount with them.

Anyway I made the table reservation in January for the June convention with high hopes. Since this convention had a few big names at it I was hoping for a Dallas Comicon down in San Antonio. Brent Spiner (Data from Star Trek) as well as Margo Kitter, Cindy Morgan (she was in the original Tron), as well as about six otehr celebrities and a whole host of comic artists were in attendance.

With about a month to go and after the high of the May Dallas Comicon I decided to go ahead and get a second table at the convention. They were only $100 each (as opposed to $180 in Dallas) and I knew that I could get ALL my stuff out on display and be pretty visible. About two weeks before the convention I noticed that on their site they listed the table numbers next to the vendor's name and my listing only had the one table listed. I emailed the person in charge and after a couple of days they got it fixed. If it would have turned out that they would have sold out (after taking my money) I was about to cancel the whole deal.

About a week out I finally got a hotel room. The Comicon's website had a list of suggested hotels but they weren't all that good on deals. They were mostly near SeaWorld so their rates were higher. I got on Hotels.com and got a room for 2 nights at a Red Roof Inn for about $62 a night which was decent.

On Thursday before (the convention was on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) we headed out to San Antonio after work. I wanted to stay the night on Thursday night so we didn't have to head out at some insane time on Friday morning to make it there in time for the shows start (noon). We hit bad traffic near downtown Fort Worth during rush hour and that was about all. Austin was pretty clear by the time we passed through. We finally arrived at the hotel at about 10:30pm and turned in pretty quick.

The next day we got to the San Antonio Event Center to setup (about 2 hours before showtime). As it turns out the San Antonio Event Center is an old Kmart or Walmart that was converted into one large exhibit room. It was pretty run down looking. I guess I was expecting something like the Plano Convention Center...

NOT the San Antonio Event Center

Well, I get inside and find that the map on their website of where the tables are at are wrong. My 2 tables are infact separated by a fire exit... a very wide fire exit. I asked to see if I could swap with someone to get my tables side by side but the old fart next to me didn't want to do it. Needless to say I was doing a lot of back and forth during the convention. My wife went with me but I still had to answer a lot of questions that she didn't know so I was constantly moving. I got everything set up with a little room to spare so we were good to go... let the masses in!

As the first day started the doors opened and a trickle of people came it. It was VERY slow. So slow that there was often no one at the celebrities tables and they would get up and walk around. I questioned why you would even have one of these on a Friday. People work for a living you know...

That's all for today... Awwww man! I didn't even get started! Well, you will just have to wait for part 2.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Featured You Tube Videos

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

Ok, so I was thinking about my conversation with Miguel, and something occurred to me. It probably won’t work, but I have an odd plan. I’m sure you’d like me to tell you the idea, but I think I should first explain the conversation.

You have to understand that Miguel is one part wants to do stuff and one part doesn’t want to do shit. If he could magically make every project idea that he ever had magically appear fully completed, he still wouldn’t have as much material as if every project idea I ever had magically appeared fully completed, but there would still be a lot of stuff. The problem is that while I probably have a lot more ideas, Miguel does a better job of avoiding working on his ideas. Don’t get me wrong, I’m lazy at times too, but I do at least try a bit more. Anyway, the general discussion of things we would do if we had more time and focus led into a discussion about how to get our videos noticed on You Tube.

The problem is that there are many things we could do to appeal to the masses. We could do some sort of lip-syncing (while it’s still legal) and appeal to the Numa Numa crowd. We could auto-tune our comedy sketches to appeal to the “auto-tune everything and it’s still funny” crowd. We could make a video response to a high profile video (which we actually did do) to appeal to the gay and/or a virgin crowd. We could make a music video for the “and the song’s not bad either” crowd. We could shoot funny sketch comedy (which is kind of what we thought we were doing) for that seemingly nonexistent crowd out there that like sketch comedy. We could do vlogs for the “this would be interesting if it was a cute chick” crowd. We could do a “How to Get Views on You Tube” video, except that we’re part of the crowd that watches those trying to figure out what we’re doing wrong.

Except that the last one isn’t such a bad idea is it? I mean I give money advice on this blog even though I’m broke and in debt. My advice is “don’t do the shit that I do wrong.” I was thinking about how we would do a “How to Get Views on You Tube” video. I think it would be a matter of making it funny, and attributing all our wisdom to people who actually have multiple views. Would it get us a bunch of views? Maybe. It’s really hard to say I guess. It would be just as much a shot in the dark as any other attempt at gaining views that we have done or thought about doing.

About the time that I was thinking through the part where I try to convince the world to seek out the lesser known stuff, as though I was talking about the atrocious listening habits of our pop music culture, I wondered what would happen if we featured videos that weren’t getting featured on You Tube. Hmm. How would that work?

I remembered an idea that Nathan had a while back where we would each look for websites that interested us, and we would write a blog about them. I’m not sure why it never happened. I remember trying to compile some links for idea generation and writing prompt websites for my featured website, but then it never came up again. I also remembered that I was supposed to look for You Tube videos with a lot of views and write an examination for Miguel as to why it has so many views. That I probably would have done if I was ever able to get online in between work and sleep.

The next logical progression to these thoughts was what if we made a video about getting views on You Tube where we basically asked people to message us with links to videos they have that are funny, or otherwise interesting, but haven’t managed to get many views? We could then make blog posts about videos that are on You Tube that we find interesting, but that haven’t gone viral yet. Maybe by doing that, we could even draw some attention not only to our video about views on You Tube, but our blog while we’re at it.

It might not work, but I think it might be worth trying. My only requirement is that our video be funny. I’ve always preached that I didn’t mind doing videos that are pandering for an audience as long as the videos are good. I think that applies here too.

As far as the blog is concerned, we should probably do posts like that anyway. Not only might it get people to our blog, but we can message the people who do the videos that we feature and tell them we featured their video. That might be enough to get a few people to our blog. I don’t know what our guidelines should be for choosing videos, but I’m sure that nothing with 100,000 views or more should be featured, because they’re already getting good coverage. This is about pointing people in the direction of overlooked videos. And yes, that should include a few of our own. I think that Miguel should help us find videos, and every [whatever interval is best for us] we can do two jointly written blog posts in a week with our picks.

So with that said, go to our You Tube channel and message us with links to your videos.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Flash Ahhhh!: Episode Twenty-Five – The Promise was also Arcadia, Just Saying

by the According To Whim .com crew

(Part One by Nathan Stout)

[EXT – DAY – WATER GARDENS IN FORT WORTH]

(Ole Pillowcase Head has Nathan and Chris tied up at the Fort Worth Water Gardens, but has just had his camera removed by one of the city employees ‘cause you can’t film stuff there.)

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: Well this is just fucking great.

NATHAN: Fuck yeah.

CHRIS: Fucky fuck fuck.

GARRETT: Fuckey fuck fire.

VOICE: What do you think you are doing, son?

(Everyone turns to see Police Officer Dickhead standing behind them.)

DICKHEAD: Do you realize there is an anti-profanity law in this here town, especially at this public location?

NATHAN: Oh hurraaaa! You saw we were in distress, all tied up and stuff, and decided to come help?!

DICKHEAD: No.

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: Then you came because you saw me in this menacing black mask?

GARRETT: Pillowcase.

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: Pillowcase?

DICKHEAD: No.

CHRIS: It’s the hair isn’t it?

DICKHEAD: Yep. Where there is long hair, you will ALWAYS find trouble.

NATHAN: Now you see, Chris, if you had a sensible haircut like mine, you wouldn’t have this trouble.

CHRIS: What are you talking about? It’s because of these flowing locks of loveliness that we are saved.

NATHAN: I see your point.

DICKHEAD: Shut it, hippie. Now I am going to have to cite you all for public profanity.

(Officer Dickhead starts writing tickets on this fancy new iMensesPad. He then hands a stylus to each person in turn to sign the citation. This is done with some difficulty by Nathan and Chris.)

DICKHEAD: Watch your mouths next time.

NATHAN: Now that THAT is over, H E L P!!!!!

DICKHEAD: I don’t do kidnapping, that’s a detective’s job. I’ll call one, but there is a backlog of repairs at the motor pool, so it might take some time.

(Officer Dickhead turns and walks off.)

CHRIS: Dickhead.

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: Now that all that foolishness is done, we will proceed. I need a camera.

CHRIS: You know you can find the cheapest cameras at your local GoodWillis...

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: Ah ha! Yes. Garrett, watch them. I’m going to find a new camera. I’ll be back.

FADE OUT

FADE IN

[EXT – DAY – WATER GARDENS IN FORT WORTH]

(The day is nearly gone. Nathan, Chris, and Garrett are still standing, waiting for their nemesis to return. Finally, he arrives, walking in a rather angry way.)

NATHAN (whispering to Chris): Why did you tell him to go find a camera there? Are you TRYING to make him mad?

CHRIS: Yes.

NATHAN: Why? Is it a part of some plan?

CHRIS: No.

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: What the fu.... heck did you think you were doing telling me to go find a camera at a GoodWillis? Do you know how many of them I had to visit to find one?!

(Ole Pillowcase Head angrily reaches into the bag and pulls out the camera.)

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: Before you say anything... don't.

(The only camera he could find was a pink, Fisher Price: Princess “Reel Film” camera – circa 1978.)

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: Garrett! Here, hold it!

NATHAN: That’s what she said.

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: Shut it.

(Garrett takes the camera and briefly examines it.)

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: On me in 5, 4, 3...

GARRETT: Sir...

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: What!?

GARRETT: This camera doesn't have sound.

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: WHAT?!

GARRETT: They all don’t. I used to have one...

(Garrett’s voice trails off as he becomes embarrassed. He just stares down at the ground.)

(End of Part One)

(Part Two by Chris McGinty)

[EXT – DAY – WATER GARDENS IN FORT WORTH]

CHRIS: Wow.

NATHAN: What?

CHRIS: Nothing. I’m just looking for dead unicorns.

NATHAN: Oh stop. You don’t know for sure that that was what was intended, though I admit that it fits pretty well.

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: Quit talking amongst yourselves. Tell me. What fits pretty well?

(Chris and Nathan look at each other.)

NATHAN: Five bucks if you can play this one off straight.

(Chris sighs.)

CHRIS: I could use the five bucks.

(Chris clears his throat.)

CHRIS: I was merely thinking that there is a very easy solution to your dilemma, that plays way too well into this otherwise sporadic plot, which is if you capture Miguel, you can have him use his super power to overdub your voice onto your little film project.

(Ole Pillowcase Head considers what Chris has said. Chris looks at Nathan.)

CHRIS: You owe me five bucks.

NATHAN: I’ll give you five hundred buck if you get us out of this predicament.

CHRIS: I’ll have to pass on your offer. You really should have hit me up when I was broke.

OLE PILL…

CHRIS: Can we just call you Ollie? Or maybe Pillhead? Something, so that it’s not so hard to type your name.

OLLIE THE PILLHEAD: Sure. Sounds good to me.

CHRIS: That’s not what I had in mind.

OLLIE THE PILLHEAD: I’ve considered your suggestion, and it is a sound suggestion, but…

CHRIS: But you’re changing your name back?

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: Fine. Whatever. But… the problem is that I know nothing about this Miguel fellow really. I wouldn’t know how to capture him.

CHRIS: We can capture him. We know him very well.

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: How?

CHRIS: I don’t know. It would be complicated to say the least. We’d almost have to do it. He wouldn’t leave his house for you, but he’ll do what we say.

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: So then all I have to do is let you go, so that you can capture Miguel. Then of course you’ll bring him right back here to make the You Tube video.

CHRIS: Exactly.

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: I don’t believe you.

CHRIS: Exactly. And that’s why I’m going to promise you.

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: Will you swear on your Duran Duran collection.

CHRIS: What? How did you know… about…?

GARRETT: Because anytime a Duran Duran song comes on the overhead speaker you double dow…

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: Garrett!

GARRETT: What! Presumably you’re going to expose yourself during the You Tube video.

CHRIS: That’ll be worth a lot more views.

NATHAN: Damn it. I should have done double or nothing to get my five bucks back.

GARRETT: So what does it matter if I reveal who you are now as opposed to later?

NATHAN: Yeah, enough of this “son of Skywalker” bullshit.

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: Enough! Chris! Will you swear on your Duran Duran collection? All you have to do is say the word.

CHRIS: That was actually Arcadia.

NATHAN: I so introduced you to that song.

CHRIS: It’s true. I’d never heard it. Anyway, yes. I swear on my Duran Duran collection that we’ll capture Miguel, and you can force him to overdub your voice onto your You Tube video.

(Ole Pillowcase Head unties Chris and Nathan. Chris tells Ole Pillowcase Head to be back at the Water Gardens at 2:30 am. They say their goodbyes and Chris and Nathan walk away.)

NATHAN: That was brilliant! I can’t believe he believed that we’re going to capture Miguel.

CHRIS: We are going to capture Miguel.

NATHAN: Ha ha. Yeah, after I mow my lawn and watch some Red Dwarf, and then spend the next 70 years of my life in peace and non-peril filled quiet.

CHRIS: I swore on my Duran Duran collection. We’re going to capture Miguel, and if I think you’re going to be any trouble, I’ll hog tie you myself and leave you with Ollie.

NATHAN: I don’t like you when you sound all ruthless like that.

CHRIS: My Duran Duran collection, Nathan. We’re taking this seriously. But don’t worry. I’ll have Miguel captured in a matter of minutes. Then we’ll go do something fun until 2:30 am.

(Chris opens his phone and calls Miguel.)

MIGUEL (over phone): Listen, I’m just saying that “From Dusk ‘til Dawn” was better for Tarantino’s writing than Rodriguez’s directing.

CHRIS: Well, you’re wrong, but that’s not important now. Guess what the fuck is happening at 2:30 am.

MIGUEL: Um, I’ll be sleeping soundly with you nowhere near me or my house.

CHRIS: They’re shooting a scene for “Logan’s Run 2” at the Water Gardens.

MIGUEL: I didn’t really like the first…

CHRIS: George Lucas is guest directing the scene.

MIGUEL: I’m listening.

CHRIS: This is incredibly hush, hush. Paul called Nathan and me, and told us. He has so many connections here in Fort Worth that I admit a little jealousy. I guess it was his way of saying no hard feelings for all the crap that’s happened. But you can’t be there any earlier than 2:30 am. Mr. Lucas has decreed that prior to the official casting call for extras that anyone getting near the set is to be shot.

MIGUEL: It might be worth it to get a glimpse of him.

CHRIS: Miguel, Paul has arranged for you to be Extra #1138. Don’t blow it, man. Don’t blow it.

MIGUEL: Ok, ok. I’ll be there at 2:30 am. No sooner. No later.

(Chris hangs up.)

CHRIS: Alright. We have until the bars close, I have five bucks, and Danny Daewoo is playing tonight. We’re going to go see him.

NATHAN: But I…

CHRIS: Mr. Stout don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.

NATHAN: Fine. Let’s go see Danny Daewoo. I guess one of your newfandangled heavy metal shows is better than hanging out with Ole Pillowcase Head all night while he tries to figure out what he’s doing.

(End Episode Twenty-Five)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Stuff 'n Stuff

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

This blog post isn't our normal 'high quality' writing project that we usually present to you (cough cough). This is a mish-mash of thoughts floating around in my head.

I am in the middle of the government's HITECH program. It's a course run by different colleges across the nation and is funded by Uncle Sam... oh wait... it's funded by the taxpayers. It's basically a program to train people to get this nation's heath care infrastructure up to new standards started by the last president and further funded by the 'accidental tourist' currently in the white house. The government set all these new standards to require your medical information to be available instantly to any medical facility anywhere in the US by 2014 (among other upgrades). I am sure this process has all sorts of privacy issues that we could write weeks and weeks about but needless to say there aren't enough trained people to help get these hospitals and doctor's offices up to the new standards. This program trains you and if you take the national certification and pass, you get your money back for the course. Seeing as our hospital is right in the middle of all these upgrades many of us here decided to take the course. The one we are taking is run out of Midland College.

We had bad storms this last week and while I was watching out the backdoor I saw the 10x12 porch covering (tin) get ripped of and fly away without a sound. It was very disquieting to witness. No tornado or anything like that, just strong STRONG winds. It also knocked over out new barbecue grill (denting it) and tore a couple of rattan blind-things we had on the porch too. I decided to go ahead and call insurance since I didnt' want to try to rebuild the roof thing myself. This is the 3rd claim I've made on our house in the last 5 years. Foremost is our insurer and they are really easy to deal with. They have never even sent an adjuster out, they just take my word for it.

My truck has been losing oil mysteriously since I got 2 of the heads replaced. It drove for a couple of weeks with little to no oil! I filled it up just thinking that the oil change place forgot to fill it or something but a week later I checked it again and it was empty again. 4+ quarts in a week! No leaking, no smoking... just gone! I am not sure what to do (other than start saving money for that new truck). My money WAS going to be spent on a 71' beetle someone at work had for sale but I just can't right now.

Today I am at the Texas Comicon in San Antonio. The convention runs Friday through Sunday. That's strange to me since the ones up here are only on Saturdays and Sundays. I am not going to be there on Sunday. Usually Sundays are slow days and I would like to be back home and have at least one day at home before work on Monday. I doubt that the convention will be as big as the Dallas Comicon back in May but I might be able to sell some more model kits (I hope so).

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Various Things (Yawn)

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

My post today will probably be as lame as yesterday’s. I apologize in advance.

I’ve been wondering why we have 32 posts in May, I mean it’s not Leap Year, so I just went searching. I see now that somehow Nathan’s draft of Episode Twenty-One of our weekly serial got wedged in there somehow. What I’m guessing is that when I went to delete his half, after my half was written and both our halves were scheduled to post, I must have accidentally posted it instead. That would cause it to post on the day that the draft was created, and cause us to have 32 posts in May. I was hoping it was a real, extra post, so I could just claim it for today’s post.

I watched “Date Night” with Tina Fey (who is so damn cute!) and Steve Carell (who is, you know, ok for a guy, I guess). The movie was very funny. I’m not sure the plot entirely made sense, but it made enough sense for a comedy, and like I said, it was very funny, and like I said, Tina Fey is so damn cute, and I used an exclamation point when I said that.

There is an article that Miguel pointed me to, indirectly, that speaks of the fact that My Space may be on its way out, literally. Apparently, the company that owns it now is trying to sell it, and if it can’t sell it, they will shut it down. I’m not actually sure what I think of that. I rarely sign in to My Space, not that I sign in to my Facebook much lately either, but I really don’t sign in to My Space much. It’s just such an odd thing that it could be so big at one point, and be failing now. I actually have some odd thoughts about what I would do if I was head of the My Space division, but that will be for a future post. I’ll just let this sink in for those of you who didn’t know.

I really don’t have much else to talk about though. I’m going to try to talk to Nathan later about when will be a good time to finish shooting Season Two stuff. He says that we’re really close to being done now, so I agree with his statement that we should push to get it done. It will probably be after the 4th of July holiday that I’ll be available, but I can arrange a day off to get the final shooting done. And when that is done, I’ll have something to talk about.

I do actually have a lot to talk about, but I have to get all the stuff I’ve written into some sort of order that makes sense. Right now, I have a lot of sporadic writing that could almost pass as blog posts, but need cleaning up.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Super… (Yawn)

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

It may be ironic that Nathan and I are writing a weekly serial that has to do with super hero powers, and that I’m about to say what I’m about to say, but I’ve realized that I don’t really have any interest in the super hero movies that have been coming out in recent times. Maybe it’s just the specific titles that they’ve been making. Iron Man? Nah. Thor? Not unless it’s Vincent D’Onofrio. Green Lantern? Not really.

I haven’t lost interest in the super hero genre entirely. I’ve been thinking about watching “Unbreakable” again. Ok, fine. I’m probably more interested than even that, but I’m just not feeling it lately. I say lately, but I still haven’t seen any of the “Spiderman” movies, any of the “The Lord of the Rings” movies, or “Titanic.” Ok, you’re right. “The Lord of the Ring” wasn’t a super hero movie.

I watched the “Heroes” TV show last year. I really liked that one. I saw “The Watchmen.” I liked that one too. I’m not completely out of the loop I guess, but I’m not exactly in the loop either. Who knows?

That didn’t really lend itself to a whole blog post did it? So what else is going on? I recently watched a British crime drama called “Luther.” That was really good. They’re so weird over there with their six episode seasons. Or in the case of that “Sherlock” show that was so much better than the movie with Iron Man in it. “Sherlock” was three episodes, but each episode was closer to two hours. That’s three movies basically, which is the odd thing about TV. They shoot so much more, so much quicker.

I watched “The Book of Eli” with Denzel Washington. It was very good. I can’t really explain why, other than to say that it was very good. You’ll just have to watch it.

Oh, and I would be done watching “Farscape” by now, but I misplaced the last disc of Season Three, and was waiting to watch Season Four until I found the disc. Then one day I found it, and I was like cool, I can finish watching it. Then it disappeared again. Soon though. Soon.

I’ve been watching the Abbot and Costello movies recently. They’ve all been pretty good so far. The first one “A Night in the Tropics” was just odd, because they were just running around non-incidentally in a plot that had nothing to do with them. After that one though, they were better featured in the movies, and the movies were funnier. I think my two favourites so far have been “Hold that Ghost” and “Who Done It?” though “Pardon My Sarong” is definitely worth watching just for the dance sequence in the club, and there are some funny scenes in there as well. There are funny scenes in all of them, but it’s more of a question of how funny the not so funny scenes are. When the not so funny scenes still make you laugh, it’s alright. When they don’t, it’s more of a waiting game for the funny scenes.

Otherwise, I don’t have a whole lot of interest to discuss now. I’ve been writing various things, but they’ve been messy as readability goes. I’ll have to clean them up before I post them, so this one will just have to be short and lame.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Review: Red Dwarf Season 6

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Welcome to the 6th review 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. Click here for the review of Season 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Season 6 (1993)

Episode 1 - Psirens
Red Dwarf has vanished and the crew (in Starbug) have been chasing it's vapor trail for 200 years. Kryten wakes Lister and the Cat from their deep sleep when they seem to be getting close to Red Dwarf. The crew comes across an area of space crawling with Psirens (big bugs) that can read a person's mind and appear as anything or anyone in order to get in close to suck out their brains. The crew fight their way out, gaining on Red Dwarf. As I have said this is my least favorite season of Red Dwarf. They seem to have ditched the whole idea of the series and the only thing holding them to the original premise is the elusive Red Dwarf.

Episode 2 - Legion
This is my favorite episode of the series. Once the crew is on Legion's ship the show is confined and the comedy interaction is between the crew (becoming more comedy and less sci-fi). Anyway, the crew come across a ship/base where a life form mysteriously shows up and it very gracious to the crew. His name is Legion and he even gives Rimmer a 'hard light drive' which allows Rimmer to touch things. This is a very cool concept but it defeats the purpose of Rimmer's unique situation. The writers saw this (I think) and decided that the 'hard light' uses a lot more energy and can't be used indefinitely. Legion turns out to be made up of the crew, a collection of their emotions. They discover the key to disarming the powerful Legion and make their escape.

Episode 3 - Gunmen of the Apocalypse
Kryten is attacked by a computer virus and the crew uses the virtual reality machine to enter Kryten's mind and help him fight the virus. Kryten's mind has taken on a Western theme and the virus is portrayed as the Death, Famine, Disease, and War. Its hard to pick my least favorite episode of the season, but this one is in there. They seemed real happy to get this neat Western town to do the episode in but I just didn't care for it. There are a couple of funny bits (the ones involving Cat's Western persona, The Riveria Kid) but other than that it was a snoozefest.

Epsidoe 4 - Emohawk - Polymorph 2
What the heck is this? It seems the writers were like... 'remeber that polymorph episode, wasn't that great, let's do it again'. This is a rehash of the Season 3 episode with all the charm sucked out of it. It was basically a reason to bring abck Ace Rimmer and Duane Dibbley. The episode made no sense in any sort of continuity (even the thinnest). I must say this is my leat favorite of the season (there, I picked one). Oh yeah, the episode is about a smaller polymorph that gets loose on the ship and the crew battles it. Woowe.

Episode 5 - Rimmerworld
Rimmer gets sucked through a worm hole and spends several hundred years on a planet that he populates with Rimmers using the terraforming technology from the pod he was on when he crashed on the planet. Only problem is that all these clones of Rimmer are just as petty as he is and Rimmer spends hundreds of years locked in prison until the Red Dwarf crew comes and rescues him. I don't want to annoy those hard core fans but how did Rimmer get DNA to replicate himself? He couldnt' find any in the episode DNA but all the sudden he has some with him in this terraforming pod? Chris Barrie plays all the other Rimmer clones (which is one of the only bright spots of the episode. Oh, one more pick... how did Rimmer's hologram stay running with no power source for more than 600 years?

Episode 6 - Out Of Time
The crew finds a time drive which can transport them to any time in history. The crew meets up with their future selves; greedy, fat, and snobby. The future crew needs to see the time drive that the crew has in order to make repairs on their time drive (which was damaged). When the crew refuses to help the jerks they are fired upon and Lister, Cat, and Kryten are killed. Rimmer runs and destroys the time drive and the episode ends. The reveal of the future crew is the highlight of this episode. Other than that... meh.


Before Season 6 broadcast 2 different American Red Dwarf pilots were shot. They never seemed to get off the ground with the studio (which is probably a good thing). Here is the 1st pilot:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Didn't Kryten's chin look really wierd? Here is the 2nd pilot (screener thingy):

Part 1
Part 2

Join me next time for the strange Season 7

Monday, June 20, 2011

Review: A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

What were they thinking? The original Nightmare on Elm Street isn't THAT old. It holds up fairly well and was in no need of an update. We live in the age of the 're-imagining'. Everything old is new again... where is Casa Blanca? People would come apart at the seams if they tried to redo that.

Enough complaining, let me get to the movie. A Nightmare on Elm Street is the time-tested tale of the child-murderer come back to life in people's dreams and taking revenge on the people who killed him by killing their children. Wes Craven came up with the idea after reading some newspaper story about some kids in Asia that warned their parents that if they slept they would die in their sleep and sure enough they did. He took this germ of an idea and turned it into a blockbuster.

They character of Freddy was just another killer but when Craven decided that he should have knives on his fingers (and not just wielding one) he struck movie gold. Freddy would rise up in the pantheon of movie monsters right along side Jason (of Friday the 13th) and Pinhead (of Hellraiser).

2010's NMOES (short of Nightmare on Elm Street) wanted to update the story so a whole new string of sequels could be made and money to be had. They needed to dump the whole 80's looks and bring it up to Emo standards. I can see the need to update stuff sometimes to help it fit in but it that's all they really wanted to do then it should have been a shot-for-shot remake. Why else would you remake a movie? If it was popular enough to warrant interest more than 20 years later why would you want to change that formula for success?

The people at Platinum Dunes messed with the formula and made another crappy bomb. From what I read NMOES did make a pretty nice sum of money but not enough to be called a success. I will admin that the new version was not poorly made, it looked bright, shiny, and flashy... it just wasn't NMOES. It was some other monster movie. The creators took most horror movie cliches and put them in there hoping that their book formula for a successful horror movie would work but it doesn't.

Freddy was played adeptly by Jackie Earle Haley but it just wasn't Freddy. He wanted the character to be the same yet make it his own but I don't know if anyone could match the creepiness of Robert Englund. Haley's Freddy was vicious but not mesmerizing. He was a cold blooded killer where Robert Englund's Freddy was a cat playing with it's prey. Hayle's Freddy can't wait to plunge the knives into someone (contrary to his dialogue) where Englund's Freddy gets a kick out of cutting them slowly. I should say Englund's Freddy is more about torture, that's where he gets his kicks. Everyone bashed the makeup and I would have to agree. It was too realistic. The old Freddy makeup was more fantasy based and thus more scary.

I don't think it was wise to show Freddy pre-fire. It took some of the evil out of him. A subplot of the new movie was to plant a seed of doubt of Freddy's guilt so they felt if they showed him as he used to be the audience would have doubts too. I can totally see what they were trying to do but part of the coolness of the old Freddy was that you never saw him (until The Dream Child).

The final Freddy mistake was to make him a child molester. In the original Freddy got his kicks out of killing children, not molesting them. I'm not sure why they chose to do this. I guess so the whole story would work (with the character so intimately involved with Freddy as opposed to being DEAD). That doesn't really work since for about 80% of the movie they don't even know who he is.

The other big mistake was that the creators got rid of most of the crazy shit that happens in the original. There are no man eating beds, no ten foot long Freddy arms, no mom-eating beds, no moms being sucked though windows on front doors, etc... They really dropped the ball on this. That is one of the things that really stuck with audiences (the freaky stuff). I could have totally put up with the new Freddy if the wierd stuff would have happened but it didn't this was their 2nd strike and it proved fatal.

I have no doubt that there will be A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Electric Bogaloo (or whatever) but I hope they listen to the audience and make it better.

PS: Here is a nice 'original Freddy' video segment.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

When the Worst Isn’t Actually Bad

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

I just watched “Jersey Girl” for the first time (the one Kevin Smith did, not the more recent one). I think everyone agrees that “Jersey Girl” is Kevin Smith’s worst movie, and I’m inclined to agree. But it’s a good movie, and thus, I have a column to write.

Kevin Smith has always been good natured about the failure that “Jersey Girl” was with his fans, and I think it’s been a good move that on a least a few occasions he has basically said something like: Seriously though, it’s a good movie that just wasn’t received well.

It’s weird because it’s about as good as any lighthearted romantic comedy, and pretty well as formulaic as one. The major “twist” in the basic plot is that it’s more about the love of father and daughter, and the actual romantic love between the widowed father and his new girlfriend is secondary. It’s almost even third billing to the love of father and father storyline.

There’s a book called “About a Boy” by Nick Hornby, and it was a great book. It was later made into a pretty good movie starring Hugh Grant. “Jersey Girl” was similar in some regards, as it was about a grown man growing up, by relating to a young person.

I think if anyone else had made “Jersey Girl” it would have been largely dismissed the way it was anyway, but it wouldn’t be considered as a bad movie the way it is because it wasn’t “Jay and Silent Bob Chasing Rat Clerks at the Mall, Dawg, Mah Dawg.” This is what I call the “The Division Bell” Syndrome.

You see, in 1995, Pink Floyd released their final album with new material (that I know of) “The Division Bell.” It was better than most albums that were released that year, and yet for long term Pink Floyd fans, it was a little bit of a let down.

“Jersey Girl” is to Kevin Smith what “Jackie Brown” was to Quentin Tarantino. It’s that movie that wasn’t as well received as it should have been because it wasn’t quite as good as what came before. Though to be fair, “Jackie Brown” was way better than “Jersey Girl.”

Here’s what I think failed about “Jersey Girl.” The first so many minutes of the movie, I was laughing somewhat frequently, and then it got pretty heavy-handed, as it had to, given the plot. Then for whatever reason, the rest of the movie never got back its comedic edge. There were funny parts, but they just weren’t as funny as they should have been to keep the movie from being a little boring.

On a different note, I recently watched the DVD that came with the new Duran Duran album, “All You Need Is Now.” This does tie in believe it or not. It was the oddest thing to watch them talking about the album in a way that basically said that “We’ve sucked since 1993, but we think we finally got it right with this album.” They weren’t that blunt about it, but I found it disconcerting. It’s almost like they’re letting album sales define how good an album was.

The truth is that their albums are all great, except “Thank You,” which was an album of cover songs. It was good though. It was to Duran Duran what “Jersey Girl” was to Kevin Smith, except that somehow to those who aren’t hardcore fans every album except their 1993 album has been that way, so who knows.

To be fair to Duran Duran, one of them did make a statement that was more or less, we know we’ve written good albums, but not commercially successful. The statement was something to the effect of: We were too busy thinking we should be progressing as a band rather than being the band that we were.

I just don’t use sales as a gauge when it comes to entertainment media. I really don’t care how a movie or album did commercially. I just care whether I liked it. My favourite Duran Duran album came out in 1998, being “Medazzaland,” and honestly, I still think that “Red Carpet Massacre” is the best of their last four albums, and is considered to be the least “Duran Duran” Duran Duran album ever released. It’s been criticized as being Timbaland presents Duran Duran. Eh, fuck the naysayers.

The statement about Duran Duran progressing as band was made in a tone that sounded like, “That was our mistake.” But the truth is that it’s the fault of the buying public. People fear progress sometimes, even when it’s good for them. They like Duran Duran, but they want to hear “Rio” not “Liberty.”

If I have a point here (and I’m doubting that I do), it’s that if you are a fan of someone’s work, you should give most of what they do a chance, even if it was well received by the public. Well received by the public doesn’t always equal good, just as not well received by the public doesn’t always equal bad.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Flash Ahhhh!: Episode Twenty-Four – Permit to Ill

by the According To Whim .com crew

[NOTE FROM CHRIS: I just want to point out that the font makes it look like "Permit to 3" when it is "Ill." It's a play on the Beastie Boys album "Licence to Ill." Enjoy this episode.]

(Part One by Nathan Stout)

[INT - DAY – NATHAN’S HOUSE]

(Nathan walks out of his room, stretching and yawning. Chris is sitting on the couch playing The Hims 3 on his Gaystation 2.)

NATHAN: You still up? What am I saying; of course you are.

CHRIS: Yep.

NATHAN: What are you doing there?

CHRIS: Well, Harry Pitts has just leveled his moustache up and is currently training for the Gaylympics.

(Suddenly there is a loud explosion type sound and the house rocks.)

NATHAN: Wow! What a game!

CHRIS: That wasn’t my game!

NATHAN: What the Clinton was it?!

(The windows go dark and there are some clanging noises outside. Suddenly, men in futuristic uniforms rush from the bedroom and start lining up near the front and back door, weapons drawn.)

CHRIS: What the Bush?!

(Nathan starts towards the kitchen with Chris scooting along side him on his knees. There is another explosion sound.)

NATHAN: Did you hear that?

CHRIS: Burp boop beep.

(Chris has a mouth full of Dr. Pepper and can’t speak clearly.)

NATHAN: They shut down the Dish on Demand, we’re doomed for sure.

(Suddenly, sparks begin to fly around the door frame, and Redneck clones burst in firing their shotguns and shouting.)

REDNECK CLONES: This is private property!

NATHAN: Duh!

(Chris and Nathan go dashing under the dining room table, as the shotgun blasts and laser beams fly. Eventually, the shooting dies down, and the smoke begins to clear.)

CHRIS: Would anyone like to explain that?

NATHAN: It’s weird I was just having a dream about Star Wars and Redneck Rampage.

CHRIS: Your dreams seem to have been manifesting themselves.

(Nathan looks at Chris who hasn’t spoken with that much diction since... since never. Chris has Vulcan ears and a chili bowl hair cut.)

NATHAN: Splock!

SPLOCK: Yes sir.

(Nathan presses the Tar Sreak communications button on his shirt.)

NATHAN: Snotty, two to beam up.

(Nathan and Chris dematerialize from the smoky kitchenette, and reappear at Hangman’s House of Horrors. They are both in front of Ole Pillowcase Head who was busy eating a cheese and mayo sandwich. He seems to be just as surprised as the readers of this story. He drops the bready treat, and lowers the pillowcase back over his mouth.)

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: Well, well, well.

NATHAN: Snotty! Snotty! Come in!

(Nathan taps and taps at his chest, but all that is there is a “Bilbo for President” button.)

(Ole Pillowcase Head picks up a whip that was lying next to his sandwich.)

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: Time for some fun...

(End of Part One)

(End Part Two)

(Oops. I mean, Part Two by Chris McGinty. For a moment there, that was the easiest part to write yet.)

[INT – DAY – HANGMAN’S HOUSE OF HORRORS]

(Ole Pillowcase Head holds a whip in hand, and seems to be ready play According To Whip with Chris and Nathan.)

NATHAN: What is it exactly that you want with us? The people at Hangman’s seem to love us, so I get the idea that you’re defiling their standing in this community as a fun place to get the shit scared out of you.

CHRIS: I don’t know. I’m pretty scared. And he did say we were going to have some fun. Although, I’m more for the idea of him taking us for some sundaes and explaining what the fuck he wants with us.

NATHAN: Mmm. Cool Whip. There was some of that in my dream with Princes Leia, and … I guess that’s probably too much infor…

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: What the hell?

(Chris and Nathan look at Ole Pillowcase Head who is still holding a whip of sorts. It’s a can of Cool Whip.)

CHRIS: You can get high off of that.

NATHAN: I don’t know what’s causing all of this, but I’m thinking we can use it to our advantage. I seem to be able to shape the world for good or bad with my subconsc…

(It’s right at that moment that there is a strange twist in the very fabric of time/space and everything that seemed odd and dreamlike just the moment before is now normal.)

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: I truly hate both of you.

CHRIS: It’s almost like you just woke up from the half real, half dream that we were living in. It might have been better if we woke up back at your house though.

NATHAN: Answer my question, you false portrayer of hangman horror. What do you want from us?

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: Just to see you suffer. I want to torture you both.

NATHAN: Well, that’s not very nice of you, especially since we don’t know why.

CHRIS: Seriously, in the information age, it’s torture just to not be able to go online to find out what’s going on. Oh, and I don’t think I saved my game progress on the Hims 3. So as I see it, you need to take us back to Nathan’s house. We can make some bread products, and discuss whatever it is…

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: Silence!

CHRIS: Have you noticed that this guy is kind of a dick.

NATHAN: Oh yeah.

(Suddenly, Garrett from the casino walks in. He seems to be holding a weapon of some sort.)

CHRIS: Garrett? What are you doing here, after all the bribe money?

GARRETT: I don’t know. Nathan seemed to be dreaming of running over me with his lawnmower or something. The point is that my co-wor…

(Ole Pillowcase Head clears his throat.)

GARRETT: My cohort here… seems to think that he’s going to inflict bodily harm on me if I don’t help him out.

CHRIS: I’ll pay you to help us.

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: Garrett, don’t listen to them. What is that glorious weapon you’re holding there?

NATHAN: It’s not a weapon. It’s my video camera. I must have been dreaming about it too.

CHRIS: Don’t you dream about anything useful, like women in bikinis with kegs of Dr. Pepper?

(Ole Pillowcase Head spins the camera around as though he’s examining a machine gun. He reads the inscription on the side.)

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: The Jedi Conflux… Sounds deadly. What does it do?

NATHAN: About the only harm you could do with that is to humiliate us on You Tube with it.

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: Excellent idea!

CHRIS: Nathan, you’re not supposed to be giving him excellent ideas.

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: We will set up the camera, and I will tell the world what assholes you are.

NATHAN: Oh great. Not the Water Gardens again.

CHRIS: He didn’t say anything about…

NATHAN: I’m so tired of making You Tube videos at the Water Gardens.

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: Garrett, pull the vehicle around. We’re tying them up and going to the Water Gardens.

[EXT – DAY – WATER GARDENS IN FORT WORTH]

(Nathan and Chris are tied up, and Ole Pillowcase Head and Garrett have set up the camera in front of them.)

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: Now, when I turn on the camera, you will be quiet as I vlog to the world about…

(Chris’s cell phone rings.)

CHRIS: Hey Garrett, I need you to get my phone out of my pocket, and hold it up to my ear.

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: He will do nothing of the sort.

CHRIS: Garrett, I paid you $40 one night, and told you that if I was ever unable to answer my phone that I would need you hold it up to my ear.

GARRETT: He’s right.

(Garrett walks over to Chris, pulls his cell phone from his pocket, answers it, and holds it up to Chris’s ear.)

CHRIS: Hello.

MIGUEL (on phone): Hey, up until about an hour ago, I was experiencing this weird situation where my dreams were manifesting themselves into a partial reality. I would have called sooner, but George Lucas just left my house.

CHRIS: How are his foot massages?

MIGUEL (on phone): Oh, they tickle a little bit, but otherwise, it was good.

CHRIS: See you should have dreamed of Samuel L. Jackson. He’s got his technique down. He doesn’t be ticklin’ or nothin’.

MIGUEL: Oh yeah, because Samuel L. Jackson and his character are just alike.

CHRIS: Well, you were dreaming. He could have been like his character…

[EXT – DAY – WATER GARDENS IN FORT WORTH]

(Four hours later. Garrett is still holding the phone up to Chris’s ear.)

CHRIS: I’m just saying that while Tarantino did deserve a good budget or two to make movies that he really wanted to make, I just believe that he was more creative with his scripts when he knew he was going to have to get by on next to nothing.

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: Ok, enough!

CHRIS: Just let me finish making this point.

OLE PLLOWCASE HEAD: You’ve been saying that for four hours.

CHRIS: I haven’t made my point yet.

GARRETT: Your battery is dying anyway, sir. And my arm has gone numb.

CHRIS: Ok, fine. I’ll call you later Miguel.

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: Ok, now…

CITY WORKER: You got a permit?

(Ole Pillowcase Head turns to see that a man with a Water Gardens Division button up shirt is standing there.)

CHRIS: Ah Nathan, I see the brilliance of your plan now.

CITY WORKER: You have to have a permit to use a camera for commercial purposes.

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: This isn’t commercial. This is revenge.

CITY WORKER: You’re from Hangman’s House of Horrors?

OLE PILLOWCASE HEAD: Well, no. I just.

CITY WORKER: I’m going to have to confiscate your camera, sir.

NATHAN: And untie us!

CITY WORKER: He’s not required to have a permit to tie you up and take revenge on you. I’m only concerned about the heinous disregard for the law about commercial camera use in the park.

(The city worker walks off with the camera, leaving our “heroes” in no better position than before.)

NATHAN: Well, that didn’t work out the way I planned it.

(Part Two by Chris McGinty)

[EXT – DAY – WATER GARDENS IN FORT WORTH]

(Chris and… oh wait. Got confused again.)

(End Episode Twenty-Four)

Friday, June 17, 2011

On having renters 2

By Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

This is the second part of my series on the refurbishment of my mom's rental house. As you may or may not have read in the first part; my mom's renter bailed after five years of use and abuse of her rental house. That wouldn't have been such a big thing except he made a bunch of changes to the house and only did a half assed job of it. This leaves me to get the place back up and running. This will be a slow project since I can only get down there once a week.

After our first visit to the house I bought some of the supplies I would need to get it back into shape. I met my mom at the local Home Depot and we did some shopping:
  • Plywood (for floor)
  • 2x4 (for the plywood floor repairs)
  • Sheetrock (for finishing modifications the guy made)
  • White paint, painting supplies
  • Trashbags, cleaner, sponges
  • Caulk
  • Expanding foam
  • Spackle, mesh tape, mud spreader
  • Portable AC unit
  • Ceiling fan
  • Plug/outlet wall adapters
All in all the total was about $430 and this was mostly taken up by the $300 AC unit. I knew I couldn't do much work in the sweltering heat of the house (the built-in AC died years ago) so we got a portable unit. I didn't want to leave anything in the house when I wasn't there in case of break-in so we got a portable. I will keep this as payment for fixing the house when I am done with it all.

I began my first day by cleaning the rotting food stains on the counter and floor. The smell was getting to me. When the renter came back and took the fridge he took all the rotting food out and left it on the counter... nice. After I did that I started in the smaller bedroom by tearing out the carpet. The floor was rotting and if you weren't careful your would fall through! This repair was nothing new since I had worked on this very room on this very issue about seven years ago. The problem is that the hot water heater is right behind the wall and when it leaked the crappy mobile home particle board flooring got ruined. I had replaced several pieces back then and now the damage has spread to new places. I was about to cut up the old floor to put in the new plywood but realized I needed 2x6s and not the 2x4 that I bought. That will have to wait.

I went ahead and pulled up all the other carpet which had been new seven years ago but was cheap and held onto every stain and was never taken care of by the renters. I also started patching all the little nail holes in the walls and started patching the larger holes in the walls (about five) with the spackle and mesh tape. Finally I fixed a couple of the plug wall sockets and light switches that were hanging out of the walls with some adapters.

I loaded the old carpet and some other stuff (including a functioning compound bow I found) into the back of my truck for taking to the dump. Before I left I screwed down all the windows so no one could get in without actively breaking into the house.

Join me next time when I plan to actually fix the floor and do so much more! Exciting...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Our Four Hour Thursday Afternoon Shoot

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

This will technically be coming in a little late, because I have been nowhere near the internet all day, except for the two and a half hours that I actually was able to sleep, which made getting on the internet a low priority. Even though this will be posted on Friday morning as Thursday’s post, it is about today, the Thursday in question.

This really all started because I had some things scheduled during the day, so I asked for Thursday off, but it looks like they just recycled my schedule from the previous week. The previous week I was scheduled in at 11 pm. I reasoned that the scheduled activities would be complete by noon, and that I could sleep until 5 pm, and then go to Nathan’s for a few hours, except that Nathan also had some scheduled activities from 3 pm to 7 pm. He would be in Fort Worth at that time, and able to shoot though, so we agreed to meet around 3 pm, and make According To Whim history! Or at the very least, shoot some footage.

Nathan and I met at around 3 pm, and we shot some pick up shots (no pun intended given that we were doing shots that required our pick ups), including Nathan looking for Chris and Chris looking for a job. We shot this by the old Montgomery Ward building. We picked up a couple of shots of me walking out of places of business with employment applications. I shuffled them a little, and I explained to Nathan that I’d read somewhere that if you have a prop, you should use the prop (maybe it was in the Bruce Campbell book).

Impromptu Bit #1: Season Two has two basic archetypal themes: friendship will endure, and Dr. Pepper is a necessity. While we were shooting, a pick up truck with a Dr. Pepper logo pulled into the parking lot. I told Nathan that I was going to ask the driver if we could get a shot on camera for You Tube of me worshipping the Dr. Pepper logo. It might not have happened, because English was probably his second language, and he seemed to think that I was asking to drive the truck in the shot. I never talked about driving at all. Some part of what I said was ambiguous, but I honestly don’t know what. I did get him to understand though, and he agreed, so we got a mildly humourous, unscripted bit out of it.

Much of what we shot was somewhat impromptu, but usually was a scripted moment that we figured out how to shoot given our location. With this in mind, after we milked the area around the Montgomery Ward building, we went to Trinity Park, and milked that area (pretty much for all it was worth). We shot some more Chris down on his luck and Nathan looking for Chris stuff, as well as some montage stuff, including a location based impromptu that involved bridge supports.

Impromptu Bit #2: There was a set of stairs that we used as an impromptu location, but I also conceived of an odd one-off bit that will require me to get an acoustic guitar and record a “Stairway to Heaven” style track to go over it. It probably won’t be all that funny, but it’ll be short, so I guess that’s ok.

Impromptu Bit #3: Much like the “use your prop” advice, I’ve also heard about the concept of using what you have available to use (in this case, it was Robert Rodriguez, either on a DVD, or in an article about his shooting style). I had bread in my car, and there was a duck pond. The basic idea of the “Nathan looking for Chris” bit is that Nathan revisits places where he and Chris shared good times. This meant that a good “duck feeding” scene was in order. I was hoping to get a large group of ducks swimming intently toward the camera, but they we completely uninterested in the bread, so we came up with a very small bit where I apply false logic to Nathan’s speech about handouts.

Once we had shot pretty much everything we could shoot in that area, we started harassing Miguel, who was supposed to join us and help us reshoot the scene with Nathan talking to Miguel at the Water Gardens. The original footage of the scene was lost in the hard drive crashes. We all met downtown and walked into the Water Gardens. Nathan had his digital camera with him, and we were taking some on location Picture Shoot pictures. I asked this guy if he would take a picture of the three of us, and he did. I guess Miguel misheard me, because he chastised me for walking up to the guy and ordering him to take our picture, but I had actually used the phrase, “Hey, will you…” Well, jokingly, I pointed at this guy in a shirt and tie, and said, “You there! Take our picture.” He had good humour about it, and “followed orders.” We spoke with him for a bit, and he said that he was on break from work, and was just wasting time. We invited him to hang with us and shoot a bit if he wanted.

Impromptu Bit #4: We shot another Miguel as Homeless Guru scene. I’m not sure how it will fit in the show, but the guy in the shirt and tie (his name was Jim Wall) did a reasonable acting job, given that it wasn’t an intensive acting scene, but mostly, he did a pretty damn good job of immediately committing his three lines to memory, and not flubbing them.

Then we got on to frustrating Nathan, or at least Miguel did. I’m not sure what Miguel was trying to do, but he kept delivering his lines in these weird inflections that you might hear at Shakespeare in the Park. I think he was intentionally trying to be over the top, and it might have been ok if it was the first guru footage and we were establishing that tone. There are previous guru scenes though, and in those scenes, he isn’t talking like Mr. Sulu at a Captain Kirk acting school. We burned a lot of tape footage on his lines. I think we finally got him reeled in though.

This was the point where we were out of scripted material that had to be done in Fort Worth, and we started looking for things to shoot since we were all together and on location. We did some more Picture Shoot picture taking, and then started discussing possible sketches to shoot.

Impromptu Bit #5: We did a bit that Nathan thought up that could probably stand alone, but is intended for the “Nathan and Miguel fighting over Chris” storyline. In the bit, Chris and Miguel are looking over a script, and Nathan comes along claiming Chris to be his friend. Miguel disagrees and claims Chris to be his friend. They start a tug of war with Chris as the rope. I had to call a stop to the very first shot because they were being timid about pulling me (maybe because they were concentrating on the argument dialogue) and it was ending up where they were saying “he’s my friend” but then pushing me to the other. I figured that this was the type of scene that to make the tug of war, and the Chris spinning like a top after Miguel and Nathan lose their grip, seem convincing that we would need multiple angles, but I think Nathan felt I did too many angles. Then we almost forgot to get the initial dialogue close ups. Nathan remembered though.

Impromptu Bit #6: The last thing we did before we called it a day was to have Miguel and me to an impromptu dialogue about unnaturally written dialogue. This was based on Miguel kidding with Nathan, “Do you want me to read these lines, or do you want me to sound natural?” That line somehow didn’t make it into out discussion. The idea here was that it didn’t matter if what Miguel and I were saying was funny, because we would be under this awkward, unmatched footage, attack from Nathan who was running up behind us and hitting us in the head. Neither Miguel nor Nathan seemed to understand what I was trying to accomplish, and to be honest, I’m not sure it will come across as funny, but we needed something to shoot. Miguel did actually say a couple of things that made me smile (almost laughing) so maybe it’ll work.

And that was our four hour Thursday afternoon shoot. The work we did ranged from bizarre to important. It was a productive four hours though, and I think we all had a good time.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

On having renters...

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

So my mom has this house. It's in Joshua and we have owned it (I am part owner) since 1995. About five years ago a guy moved in who was a buddy of my step dad. He moved out about three weeks ago now. Well I say moved out... more like jumped out. My mom hadn't heard from the guy for more than a week and got suspicious. She went by the house and lo and behold it was abandoned. This guy stiffed her for about $500.00. We didn't have any paperwork on the guy since he was my step dad's friend so we basically had to take the loss.

When we went into the house we found a fridge and some other smaller items still about. The power had been off for who knows how long but there was still stuff in the fridge and it stunk! After we changed the locks I sent a text to him and his wife letting him know I moved all the smaller stuff onto the front porch and if he wanted the fridge and window AC unit he could call me and I would help him get it. We went back a week later and he took the smaller stuff off the front porch and broke into the house and took the fridge and AC unit. The windows are very crappy so all you have to do is raise one to get it...

Glad he was gone my mom and I had to come to a decision about the house. It was a wreck. This guy was a handy man and had made many... MANY changes to the house. He knocked out the wall between the living room and kitchen, moved the cabinets, sink, oven, and resurfaced almost every wall in the house. That would have been great if he would have actually finished the jobs he started. Most of it was just left half done. The skirting around it (it's a mobile home) was mostly gone and there was no end to plumbing issues. The decision we needed to come to was weather to keep it or not. It might have been just as cost effective to have it demolished and kept the land empty (it's about a quarter to half an acre).
It used to NOT look like this. There was a wall there and a door to the far right...

In the end I convinced her that it would be better to spend a few thousand to fix it back up and rent it out. That way she could make money off it and I would do all the legwork with the landlord side of things. It wasn't going to cost that much since I was going to be doing all the repairs myself (with some help from the Father-in-law).

This blog is the first of many about all the work I will be doing to the place. After a minor bit of cleaning and screwing down the windows I will begin work in earnest. This is the sort of challenge I like and I hope you might find it a bit interesting.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A 1,277,500 Word Problem

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

[I wrote this in May. I didn't think it was that good, so I didn't post it. It's at least complete though, and better than the other one that I wrote, didn't think was all that good, but is complete.]

Ugh. What was I thinking? I started this year with a simple goal: write six pages a day. It doesn’t sound like much, does it? It’s only 420 pages every ten weeks. 420! Now I’m starting to sound high. That’s 2,190 pages by the end of the year. Sheesh.

To keep myself honest, I decided that I needed to write about 3,500 words a day, or it didn’t count as six pages. After all, a poem is less of a page than a page of a story. That’s only 1,277,500 words by the end of the year. How hard can that be? Just write one word at a time, right?

This is from my journal:

4-26-11, 1:47 am: According to my calculations, and I think they’re pretty close to accurate, I’ve written 209,723 words since the start of the year. I’m supposed to write 1,277,500 by the end of the year, so I’m about one-sixth of the way, which I think I should have been at the end of February. That’s not good.

I was supposed to write 245,000 in the first seventy days (ten weeks). I’m supposed to be at 490,000 by the end of May 15 (second ten weeks). That translates as about 360 pages of 840 pages.

I expected it not to be happy findings, but that’s seriously worse than I thought.

This is from now:

I’m not sure that things have improved since then. In fact, I’ve all but abandoned many of my year goals because I don’t have much time at home. I’m doing what I can at work, but this year hasn’t shaped up the way I planned. Though I’m starting to do well financially. I guess there is that.

I spoke in my post about the end of the second ten-weeks that I felt that I made a mistake by not using my notebook as much. I have gotten back in that habit of using the notebook, and keeping priorities in mind. I don’t know if I’m doing better than I was last ten-weeks, but I do at least feel more organized now.

One other thought, I’ve gotten back to the process of listing ideas for the blog each day and then picking the idea that interests me the most, which as this shows isn’t always the best idea. I’ll try to link to the first article I wrote about this, but I’m still having problems with the blog “compose” feature, so I’ll probably have to do it manually.

This idea was originally listed as “An 84,000 Word Problem” and it was either in January when I was supposed to have written 84,000 words, or it was later when I finally wrote 84,000 words, but was probably supposed to be at 160,000 words already. So the first point is that a simple synopsis of my thoughts on each of these ideas would be helpful so I remember what I was meaning to write about.

The second point is that if you do lists like this, it is sometimes important to bring back ideas that slipped off the list to see if you’re still interested in them. Sometimes after you write the idea you chose to write you have the four left over that were the best ideas, and you have to pick one that wasn’t the best to put on the list. If the next day you list ten new ideas and none of them are any good, suddenly after you write a good one, you now have a top five with two not so good ideas.

Let’s say that a while back you had a day where almost every idea on your list was good enough to at least attempt writing. In that case, you kept the five that most interested you, but drop nine others that may have been worth writing.

If you’re following this, you can see the potential issue. You might have dropped ideas that are worth trying to write, and a top five with a couple of not so great ideas on it. Really, there should never be a point where you have no good ideas at all on your list, and plenty of dropped ideas that should have been done, but just in case, every so often you should rotate some of the dropped ideas back onto the list. If they still aren’t good, they’ll fall off the list again, but if they are good, you just might pat yourself on the back.

For the record, this one only got put back on because I kept thinking about it, and I do realize that it’s not a great post, but it was what I was feeling compelled to write. Sometimes that’s the best way to go. That’s what having reserves are for.

I was telling a friend about the reserves idea when she was talking about how as a band your set list shapes up to what you want it to sound like when your band writes a good song and can drop one of the not so good songs from the set list. She pointed out that if you have three reserves for a blog, and you have to post one of the three reserves because the one you wrote wasn’t as good that eventually all of your reserves would be bad articles.

I’m not sure why, but my brain didn’t give me the proper answer to that. I thought about the fact that I’d recently posted my last reserve, and it was probably the worst of all my posts this year. I was standing there thinking, you know she’s right. The problem is that I forgot to mention that you gradually build the number of reserves so that you maybe have a good one in there still. I’m supposed to have seven reserves right now, and I suppose I do have most of them, but I’ve got to pull them out of the word processor file and put them in the draft folder on the blog. Just one more example of how I wasn’t focused last ten-weeks.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Writing a movie script

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Back in 2007 I got back into contact with an childhood friend who is living down in the Austin area here in Texas. Turns out he went into marketing and does a lot of writing. He has had stuff published in books, websites, etc. We got our heads together and decided to write a script. I had some ideas floating around for a while about a horror movie I wanted to write. I had actually written about twenty minutes of it and decided it could use a more 'professional' touch. I forwarded it to him and we morphed it with ideas he had and we came up with the beginning of a fresh script.

I learned all I know about writing from George Lucas and Miguel (seriously). The first script I ever tried to write I referenced a copy of the script to Star Wars to see how to correctly format the script out. At some point in the early 2000's I got a copy of Miguel's Denton Texas script and studied how he formatted his script (from what he learned from college). Incase you didn't know Miguel actually has a film degree from UNT so he knows his shit (even if he doesn't use it much).

The idea we came up with was a haunted house movie. My original intent with my old script was to make a haunted house story to top all other haunted house stories. I wanted it to dement the viewer and keep them up all night, trying to erase the images they had seen at the movies. My thought was to mimic Sam Rami's attempt to make something so grueling that it was a like a ride that thrashes the viewer's psyche about. I knew I wanted (and would have to have) a lot of gore but not make the gore the focus of the movie. I wanted the movie to have scenes that might utilize it to emphasize the horror on the screen but not to take away from the fact that it's a story about a house... potentially any house... potentially your house.

Haunted house movies have been done and over done. It was going to take something fresh and new to capture today's jaded audience. I explained this to my friend before we started and he agreed. I was for straight up grueling action and he wanted some science thrown in as well. The things that appealed to me in the haunted house genre were the unnatural occurrences that happen in a place so private and so personal as some one's home. Amityville pulls this off well (being more centered around the characters than the action). I also like when the character's do the sleuthing and find out why their house if haunted (usually when it's too late to turn back). I like scenarios were the house was used for something far more sinister than just being a dwelling (like in Amityville and A Haunting in Connecticut). I wanted to add these things to my story. I also like the stories/movies that build on each other. The horror the happened in Nancy's house in A Nightmare on Elm Street has turned a rather normal home into basically a haunted house for the rest of the series. That's a cool concept too. There are so many things to work into this script and so many ways to do it...

We began the script in 2009 (I think) on the website Scripped.com. It has a script formatting tool and you can share your scripts and such. We got almost an hour's worth of movie out before we just lost interest. It sat for quite some time before I decided to peek in again on the madness I hoped would find an audience. I have pulled it out and started coming up with new ideas and hopefully the hook that will grab the audience and send them down that hole of insanity for just a few moments.

For fun here is a cool documentary about the Amityville Murders/Haunting:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6