Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The summer of work and shitty contractors 2

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Here is the first part of this post. So after the gutter people failed to show I decided to use the $900 myself and spend only about $500 on actual gutters and pocket the rest. I also decided to start the painting prep so I bought some caulking.

I began by caulking the East side of the house which is one of the 2 additions to the mobile home. When the old guy built it he didn't really bother sealing anything up so there were a lot of gaps. I'm sure that's part of the reason the house is so cold in the winter and so hot in the summer (inside the addition). I began sealing the gaps on just about every possible place on that side of the house.
See all the white in the corners and joints... that's caulk.

This process took about 2 weeks in all (about an hour a day in the early evenings when it cooled down a bit). In total it took me 15 tubes of caulk to get the house where I wanted it. The actual mobile home took very little, it was the additions that needed so much. I am sure I did way more than I should have but I didn't want to do a half assed job so I did it all.

I then started painting (with a regular paint brush) all the corners and edges around the house. This was so that when I started painting with the roller it would go quickly. I did do some test roller painting on the East side of the house...

The paint I got (or was given actually) was Valspar exterior paint and it coats very well. The cheap white paint I usually get takes several coats so this was a nice change.

At this point I have probably another week and a half of edge painting then I will be ready for the roller parts. After that it will probably take me another week to paint all the trim on the windows, doors, etc...

It's taking so long because I don't spend more than an hour or so because of the oppressive heat outside. I have to wait for the sun to get low enough in the sky to cool off things abit.

After all that is done I will be rebuilding the trellis outside the kitchen window and painting that the green trim color as well. When that is done I will start installing some gutters. It seems I will be done just in time for it to cool off... which is pretty typical for me.

We don't plan on trying to sell the house again but whenever we finally decide to do it all this work and money spent will be worth it. The house has had many issues and the paint and skirting has always been a detractor to it's selling. Painting the exterior is said to give you a 76% return on investment when selling so that's cool.

Once Daylight Savings is over I will have to start up a whole new batch of projects geared at indoor issues. Later!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Making a Movie on Little or No Budget (Part Two) – People and Money

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

I’ve already explained in Part One that I’m getting some thoughts down prior to making the movie. I might have better insight after making the movie. What I’m basing a lot of this on is my point of view from working on smaller video projects (and the bigger project known as “According To Whim Season Two”) since 1993. This is not really from the point of view of making a film, because making a film requires a budget pretty much automatically for film stock and film development. Our movie will be feature length shot on video.

People – One of your most valuable resources, and one that I feel people overlook when budgeting, is people. Let’s take me for instance. I’m not a good actor. 50% of the time I’m not all that good of a writer. I have limited ability with operating camera and directorial eye. I’m not a natural leader. So what good am I?

I show up and I work. That’s what good I am. This isn’t the best way to make a quality movie. I wouldn’t cast me in my movie in most cases, but when I’m all I have, I guess I’ll be casting me.

I spoke before about the creation of Season Two of “According To Whim.” One thing that I remember about that whole thing was that Miguel was the Holy Grail to Nathan for some reason, because Miguel has an instinct about camera and direction. Nathan asked us to clear our schedules for six days, and I mostly did. The important thing is that even though I was tired throughout most of the six days, I was there every day. Miguel had trouble making it, and Nathan was acting like the show wouldn’t get shot at first.

The thing is that Miguel is talented. Miguel’s talents are going to waste. Nathan wanted to harness that talent, and didn’t want it to go to waste. It’s understandable. At the end of the day though, Miguel doesn’t show up and work if it interferes with the rest of his life. Things happen. I get that. I don’t expect everyone to show up on time and stay for every last minute of the movie schedule. I know that is probably too much to ask, even of me. I won’t value the people who show up for an hour on Saturday and then have something more important to do though.

Nathan was already talking like Miguel has to direct the movie and run camera so it looks good, and I fully fucking disagree. I agree that if Miguel makes it that it will look good. I agree that if Miguel makes it that he should direct it and run camera along with Nathan. I don’t agree that Miguel is the Holy Grail. If Miguel doesn’t want to show up, then I really don’t care. I truly hope to have him on board, but I’d rather get the movie done.

After that, the next thing I say will probably sound weird, but don’t piss off the people who are willing to work. I’m not saying by any means to pussyfoot around them or anything. I’m simply saying that if people view you as easy to work with, they will want to work with you again. Even if they are unable to work with you again, they will want to.

You can’t please all of the people all of the time, so don’t try to. At the end of the day you have a movie to make. People who don’t show up, people who complain, people who disrupt the flow of work, and anything thing else that negatively affects your production, probably need to go.

The thing about people is that they give you options. A person can make a movie by themselves, but as the only actor and crew they are limited in the story they can tell, and are limited in camera movement. You add just one person to the mix, and you suddenly have options. You add a third person, a fourth person, etc., and you have a lot of options.

At the same time though, try not to have too many people when you can. Too many people standing around, causes people to get bored. Too many people throwing around suggestions about things that are already decided, causes distraction. When Miguel and I did the chase scene, our first day we had ourselves and four other people, and boy was it a lot to deal with since we only technically needed three that day beyond one shot that required someone, other than us and the camera person, to be driving a car.

Money – Doing a truly no budget movie is probably next to impossible. You would have to own everything prior to the production that you use in production, and you would have to presume not to amortize the cost of anything you owned that is used. It would also presume that anything that you didn’t have was donated or borrowed by or from other people. Promotion and distribution would also have to be free or donated until there was money made from the production that could be reinvested.

The question to ask yourself is how close you can get to a no budget movie. I don’t care if your final cost ends up being $100 or $100 million. How close can you get to no budget given the movie you’re making?

When Robert Rodriguez made “El Mariachi” he built his story around props and people he had access to for little or no money. When Quentin Tarantino made “Pulp Fiction” they convinced otherwise expensive actors to work for very little. Don’t presume that you have to spend money until you’ve exhausted all possibilities to not spend money.

Let me clarify something here. Hobbies typically cost you money, while jobs and businesses typically make you money. The hard one to accept is businesses. We’ve probably all had a business of some type that either failed to make us money or lost us money. Who can really call that a hobby, right?

The odd difference between a job and a business is that most people wouldn’t take a job that would lose them money, but people will sometimes put money into a business simply hoping that they will get a return.

I have tried many times to talk about the difference between failing small and failing big. Let’s look at a roulette table. The odds and payoffs range from 1 to 1 and 1 to 35, and maybe a little different with the zero and double zero to consider. The difference of failing small and failing big is that you are almost better to put one dollar on a single number, knowing that you have less than a 3% chance of your number coming up, than you would be to put $20,000 that your granny loaned you on red, knowing that you have around a 50% chance of a red number coming up. Why? Because you have so much less to lose if something goes wrong.

If you are making your first movie, first feature length movie, or just have little movie making experience, you are better to put the one dollar on a single number. You’re already taking a risk. Don’t make it a terrible risk.

So where do you get your budget if you need one? You can go into debt, I guess, but I’m not going to suggest that. I know that people have gone into debt to make their movie, and it’s paid off, but I bet that there are plenty more who have regretted it.

You can take a second job. You can find investors. You can ask for gifts from people. Probably the best way to ask gifts from people would be to make a shorter movie to begin with, burn some DVDs of the movie, and ask people to buy the DVD for as much as they are willing to help you out on your feature length project. But the main thing to keep in mind here is to not lose money on it. How close can you get to no budget? Even if you have a lot of money to throw at it, how close can you get to no budget and make the movie you want to make? If you make your movie with an eye for keeping costs down, you increase your odds.

Think about it this way. A movie that brings in millions of dollars is considered a flop if it was made for more than it made. If you make a movie for $50 and you make $100 in sales, it’s a success right? If you make a movie for $50,000 and it makes $20,000 in sales, it’s a success in number of sales and potentially the number of people who will see it, but financially, it failed.

I have more thoughts, but aside from about another 100 words this is all I have written for now. Maybe by next week, I’ll have written more.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The summer of work and shitty contractors

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

This has been one tough summer. Both Chris and I have doing a lot of work and haven't had much time to meet up for NetRunner, projects, or many other things we usually do. Chris has been working 90+ hours most weeks at his security job. I think they should probably promote him but if that were to happen he might lose many of those valuable 'free' hours to a lot of driving around and giving people hell about sleeping on their posts, etc.

As for me, I have been working on 'physical' projects for the most part. When my mom's renters bailed I had to start going down to Joshua and working on the rent house. This has afforded me the chance to make a whole slew of blog posts about the renovation process. The series is called: 'On having renters', go check it out if you need something to put you to sleep.

That project only takes place on the weekend (and on special days when I make an extra trip down there). Other than that I have been busy my own house. When we got out tax refund this year I paid to have the house re leveled, new skirting, and new federally required anchors put on our house. They also did some drainage work on the side of the house that had all the issues with flooding. Once that was done I thought I was set for the year but mother nature came' a callin'. We had the bad storm in April and it did some damage to the roof. With the insurance money I got the problems fixed and saved some of it to get gutters put on the house.

I have planned to eventually paint the house at some point in the not too distant future. The paint is faded and there are many bad spots that need fixing with caulking. It is one of those big projects you keep putting off but I thought that if I was going to do it I better do it soon and plan the whole gutter thing around it. My thought was that it would be easier to paint the trim BEFORE the gutters were put up as opposed to trying to paint around them AFTER so I got to work. I had my wife pick out the colors for the new paint job and got to work painting the trim before the new gutters when it. If you know anything about my house you will know that it has 2 additions that were built by the previous owners. The additions were not built to the highest standards and most of that trim was not treated lumber so most of it was rotted. This not only was going to require me to paint but to also replace a good amount of trim. I had made the appointment to have the gutters replaced so I was under the gun to get the trim replaced and painted.

New irrigation & skirting, old paint job.

I got it all done before the deadline but the deadline soon passed and no one ever showed up. I waited and waited but they never showed. It was a month later (3 weeks past when he told me they would arrive to work) and still nothing. I called and canceled the work. I decided I would save myself about 400 bucks and do it myself. In the meantime I decided to continue my house painting prep work.

Join me Wednesday for the next part of this blog.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

CTFU: Super Mega Edition (Part One) - Budgeting Time

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

As a result of trying to fix somebody else’s money problems, someone who shouldn’t reasonably be behind on their bills because they have the income to make it by (with a little assistance from the American taxpayer), I started to think about why it is that I’m such a fan of time and project management. I don’t make enough money to really pay my bills. I do still budget my money, and I do still do things that will help me in the long run. I just always find myself eventually borrowing money from my dad.

Lately, it’s been a little better. I’ve been able to work a lot of hours, and have not had the same scheduling conflicts that normally happen with having more than one job. Seriously, I would be willing to work 98 hours a week to get my bills caught up and my debts (especially to my dad) paid off, but what I’m looking at, at that point, is having to have all of my jobs lined up in such a way that I work all the hours between the same fourteen hours a day with very little downtime between each job, and I would have to sleep all hours I wasn’t at work. The problem is that after a while that’s not healthy for anyone. I’m willing to do it, but I’m not sure my body would be.

My budget becomes an odd juggling act between paying my bills first, saving money where I can by paying things in advance or buying in bulk, and then actually requiring myself to have a little bit of disposable income. Yes, requiring. If I didn’t require myself to have a little bit of a life, I would burn out, and that has the potential to be much worse than budgeting poorly. You doubt me? Well, let’s segue into the point of this post, which is partially time management, and I’ll attempt to prove my point.

One of the tenets of time management is to set aside time to relax. For the love of Lakein, set aside some time to relax! Why relax? Isn’t time management about getting maximum efficiency out of every second of your life? Of course it isn’t. The detractors of the time management practices would have you believe it is, but it’s not. Many of the time management gurus tell you to set aside time to just relax. Get enough sleep. Get enough recreation. Don’t feel like you have to be on every moment of the day.

This is a tough idea for someone like me. I want to work every moment I can. I want to multi-task whenever I can. I want to take every penny I make and pay my bills and debts. I want to do all of this and only sleep two hours a day. And most importantly, I don’t want to burn out while doing all this crazy shit. I don’t ask much, do I?

Knowing that that would be my tendency, I require that I spend some time simply relaxing, and I require that I spend a small amount of my money on things that will improve the recreational quality of my life (after my basic bills are paid).

So what this brings me to is that I fall back on time management as a way of having something to budget that I technically have enough of. Not enough for everything I’d like to do, but at least enough that I can budget it.

One of the other tenets of time management is focus. You can get a lot done when you focus your efforts on one task. I find that I don’t work very well when I’m right up against a deadline. I’m not sure that I totally believe everybody who says they do. I think some people do, but by and large, I don’t think people do their best work when they’re under the pressure of getting something done by a certain time. I think this argument could go a long way to discrediting my belief that you should do so much work on your projects per day, because that’s a daily deadline.

My answer to that is simply that there is a difference between spending a whole day on your highest priority items and trying to get as many of them done as possible, and having a hard deadline. I’m referring to this blog, specifically now. I was all about having three reserves to start with, and slowly moving it up to fifteen reserves by the end of the year, but I found that it was still hard to maintain, because I was still up against a hard deadline. So how do you get away from a hard deadline with something like a daily blog that you contribute three and a half posts to each week?

I decided that what I would do is just start writing as much as I can for the blog for about a month, focusing on writing a minimum of two posts a day. Over the next twenty weeks I will be responsible for about 70 posts. That will bring me right up to the end of the year. My thought was what if I spend the next 35 days writing that many posts? That would fill in almost every day for the year. Rather than take the rest of the year off though, I could instead write when I have something worth writing and rearrange the scheduled drafts to accommodate new stuff I write. In essence, I would still make myself responsible for writing about three and a half posts a week, but I won’t feel quite as pressured to write a lame one just to have something to post.

That’s where the CTFU: Super Mega Edition comes in. In the past, the CTFU operations have been an attempt to bring the blog current, or to catch up my reserves. It will now go to the next level, which is to make the blog no longer a hard deadline for me, as long as I maintain my lead.

I’m looking at making this a ten-part set of articles by reviewing all of the “ideas” I’ve written down when brainstorming, and then dealing with some of them. I’ll adjust the number of parts up or down according to how much material I actually have. I’ll start those topics in the next part.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Flash Ahhhh!: Episode Thirty-Four - A New Nut in the Mix

(by the AccordingToWhim crew)

(Part One by Nathan Stout)

INT – JAIL CELL IN HANGMANS – DAY

(Nathan and the gang are sitting around, not sure what to do, even though Larry has arrived and has unlocked the door.)

LARRY: Well?

CHRIS: I dunno. I’m just goin’ with the flow.

MIGUEL: What a surprise.

CHRIS: As long as everyone talks to, and about, me often enough, I will go along with whoever.

DENTRE: I think fate has dropped Larry in our lap…

SHAG: Perv.

DENTRE: And I think we need to use him to the fullest extent.

LARRY: I’m all for being used. I’m so young and inexperienced.

SHAG: Perv.

CHRIS: Me me me.

MIGUEL: Are you about to sing?

CHRIS: No, just reinserting myself into conversation.

NATHAN: Lead the way…. Jesus Christ!

(Nathan’s exclamation is caused not by his realization that Larry is the son of our Heavenly Father, but caused by the special ops-looking team that bursts through the door, weapons drawn.)

ERIC: I’m Eric Steele, team leader for COBALT. We are a special branch of the Army. We are primarily focused on individuals with powers.

CHRIS: Wow, we didn’t even ask and you provided us with all sorts of useful information.

ERIC: My other duties include not wasting time with the usual back and forth question and answer time you get with sudden appearances of unknown figures like myself and my strike team.

STUBBY: Strike team, what do you…

(ZAP!)

(The members of the strike team simultaneously shoot stun guns at every member of the party.)

ERIC: Get them in the van.

(Chris raises his head just enough.)

CHRIS: Sweet. Too bad your name isn’t Henry.

(Chris passes back out. The team members haul off the group, and Eric is heading back to his COBALT assault vehicle parked out by the rear entrance.)

QUINCY: Eric!

(Eric turns just in time to see Quincy walk out of the ‘out door… out door’ of the haunted house.)

ERIC: Behind another scheme to smash glass.

QUINCY: You remember…

ERIC: Uncle Sam never forgets.

QUINCY: Give everyone at the Pentagon my regards.

(The Professor rolls out from behind Quincy.)

PROFESSOR: Eric!

ERIC: Professor. I should have known you would be behind this all.

PROFESSOR: Quincy. This complicates things. We need to accelerate things.

(Paul and Angelina walk out from behind the Professor.)

ANGELINA: Eric!

ERIC: Angelina!

PAUL: Angelina?

ERIC: So, this is where you are operating. Wherever you are the Grrrls aren’t far behind.

PAUL: Angelina?

ANGELINA: Eric was a long time ago back in my DOJ days.

ERIC: I have completed my mission so just be warned we will meet again.

QUINCY: Mission?

PAUL: The goof troop!

PROFESSOR: He captured our captives!

PAUL: We had plans…

PROFESSOR: There is no way we can get them away from COBALT.

(End of Part One)

(Part Two by Chris McGinty)

INT – COLBALT VAN – DAY

(They are riding along to who knows where, when Chris’s cell phone rings. Chris answers.)

CHRIS: Uh.

COBALT TROOP 1: Hey, did I say you could answer your phone?

CHRIS: Eric said you didn’t answer back and forth questions, so I wasn’t about to ask you. This is Chris. How may I help you?

FLOYD (over the phone): What is my motivation?

PAUL (in background, over the phone): Ask him what mine is too!

FLOYD (over the phone): Quiet. If I have time I’ll ask about you.

CHRIS: I’m not sure I understand the question.

FLOYD (over the phone): Well, I was being held hostage by Stubby. Then next thing I know we’re all sitting around not sure what to do. Then that Eric guy came in and his team took everyone, except me. So I’ve been sitting here playing psychiatrist to these now lesser antagonists, because we’re not too sure what’s going on.

CHRIS: Well, we don’t have your average run of the mill Dubble-Oh-Se7en antagonists. They don’t seem to want to tell us anything about what they have planned or anything.

FLOYD (over the phone): So what do I do?

CHRIS: Charge them $100 an hour and then go home.

FLOYD (over the phone): Um. Ok.

(Chris hangs up. It’s only a matter of seconds before Chris’s phone rings again. The ring tone is “Break Stuff” by Limp Bizkit. Chris seems to really want to annoy the COBALT troops, so he lets it play out for a bit singing along.)

CHRIS: I hope you know I packed a toy store, I’ll travel the world, and Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my fucking sleigh tonight!

(Chris sees the troops are unaffected, and answers his phone.)

CHRIS: Yes, Quincy?

NATHAN: You gave Quincy his own ringtone?

QUINCY (over the phone): This Harvard Special with Cheese is trying to tell us that we suck as antagonists because we don’t announce our intentions. I think I’ve done a good job of telling you what I’m going to do before I do it.

CHRIS: Ugh. I regret bringing in a shrink now. Yes, Quincy, I validate you as an antagonist. You have been very clear of your evil intentions.

QUINCY (over the phone): Thank you. You’ve made me feel better about my evil doings.

(Chris hangs up.)

CHRIS: Not that it’s too hard to figure out with a name like Quincy the Glassbreaker that you intend to break glass. Sheesh.

(Chris’s phone rings. He notices that Nathan is sitting beside him dialing his phone. The ringtone that signifies that Nathan is calling is “Eye in the Sky” by The Alan Parsons Project.)

NATHAN: Just curious what mine was.

CHRIS: I’ve been meaning to change it. So… about Herr Rick the Ranger.

LARRY: You speak German?

CHIRS: Nein.

(COBALT Troop 1 doesn’t answer.)

CHRIS: I was thinking that since our antagonists are learning what it is to be vocal about what’s going on that you might tell us what’s going on.

(COBALT Troop 1 doesn’t answer.)

CHRIS: Reece, can you dream state us out of this?

(Larry doesn’t answer.)

NATHAN: Larry, can you dream state us out of this?

LARRY: No. They have this van rigged with dampening fields.

CHRIS: Of course they do.

(Chris pulls out his phone and calls up the internet.)

CHRIS: Good news, Stubby. Your video has 7,030, 498 views.

NATHAN: Oh, check mine!

CHRIS: Yours has 38.

NATHAN: Oh. Well that’s about a 3% increase from last year.

(Stubby gets up and walks over to the COBALT Troop 1.)

STUBBY: Listen, I have nothing to do with these people. I was working with Quincy, and I guess he wasn’t sure if I was really me because of some wonky dream state thing…

(COBALT Troop 1 elbows Stubby in the face, and Stubby passes out cold.)

CHRIS: Now that was worth staying awake. I guess I’ll go to sleep now.

(Chris rolls over. He tries to get comfortable, but can’t seem to. He reaches over and puts Nathan’s arm around him. Nathan pulls it back irritably. Chris is nearly asleep, when all of a sudden the van is impacted by something from outside.)

COBALT TROOP 2: What in the hell!?

COBALT TROOP 1: COBALT Driver, report.

COBALT DRIVER: I see nothing, sir.

(Chris sits up and surveys the situation. Eric’s men are on the alert. Stubby is still passed out from being elbowed. Shag is looking around like he doesn’t know what to make of the situation, which is pretty likely. Dentre and Reece are likewise confused, but not as a normal state of being. Miguel is in a Yoga position, chanting Star Wars dialogue. Nathan… Nathan is doing something with his iCrap phone. The van takes another hit, and this time it shuts down.)

COBALT DRIVER: We’ve lost all power, captain. That sounded better in my head. Sorry.

(Suddenly, they hear a voice from outside of the vehicle. It sounds an awful lot like Arnold Schwarzenegger.)

ARNOLD (from outside of the van): Operators of COBALT. You are surrounded. We don’t want to hurt you. We simply want all of your prisoners released. Well, Stubby can stay with you. You have thirty seconds to comply.

(Chris notices that Nathan’s phone is in “Text to Schwarzenegger” mode. He leans toward Nathan.)

CHRIS (whispering): You sneaky son of a bitch.

NATHAN (whispering): You should join the Apple craze, Chris. There’s an app for everything. Faked vehicle impacts. Shutting down the electrical system of a van engine. Text to Schwarzenegger.

CHRIS: Does it have a Commodore 64 emulator?

(Nathan just looks at Chris funny.)

ARNOLD (from outside of the van): You have ten second to comply.

COBALT DRIVER: I don’t know where they are, sir.

(COBALT Troop 1 turns to the prisoners.)

COBALT TROOP 1: How is it that you have Arnold Schwarzenegger on your side?

SHAG: Are you kidding? All those years running a 420 friendly state.

(The van is impacted again. This time it’s hard enough that even Stubby wakes up long enough to hit his head and go out cold again.)

ARNOLD (from outside of the van): That was a warning shot. Let the prisoners go. Then give us a half an hour to clear the area, or we will detonate your van.

(COBALT Troop 1 looks around frantically trying to decide what to do. Everyone in the van watches him with interest to see what he will do.)

(End Episode Thirty-Four)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Taking control of Hangman's House of Horrors' website

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

As you probably know Chris, Miguel, and I have gotten involved with working with Hangman's House of Horrors. Hangman's is the world's top charity haunted house. Middle of last year I started emailing the marketing chair and she was more than willing to have us do some videos for them. We have since done some work for them and enjoyed some praise as well. Here is the According To Whim timeline of work (via blog posts) we have done with Hangman's:
Chris and I have also integrated the haunted house in our weekly serial story: Flash Ahhhh!  I have also done some video work with the owner's other charity 'A Wish With Wings'. Well, to make a long story short (too late) we have devoted some time to the charity and have thoroughly enjoyed it.

Last week the owner contacted me and Miguel and asked for the raw footage from the commercials we did at the last of the year. One of Hangman's big sponsors is the CW 33 (a local television station)... FYI if you look at the picture linked at the top that's 33's Rebecca Miller presenting me the award. CW 33 gives Hangman's air time for their commercials and they wanted our footage to recut for their promo spots. Me and Miguel hastily put together our DVDs of footage and sent them off.

This week I was approached by the owner's administrative assistant to make some more animated gifs for their website (and to give out to other sites). I had done this at the beginning of the year but now Hangman's has it's theme and their artist created the poster art and they wanted some gifs of it. I did them then looked at Hangman's website to check them out but I noticed that some of the links were bad and images were missing. I had this idea to ask the owner if I could work on the site (fix issues etc). I was asked to do it last year but I am no pro at websites and I can do is some basic old school HTML and I have to rely on FrontPage and other people's website templates so I kinda of shunned it. I tried to get the web guy at my work to do some charity work for them but he is too busy. 

This time around I decided to go ahead and ask to fix it and perhaps redesign it. There are a couple of Flash elements that I can't reproduce so what I do end up doing will be more basic HTML stuff. I think it will be a good deal for them since I am online all day long at work anyway and I can change out graphics and fix issues at whim (get it?). They have had someone do the website in the past but they can't do much anymore and they have no one to do any graphics on the site so I figure I am their best shot (until they can get a pro).

I have already made a slew of new graphics and built the new main page. I am going to submit it to the owner for her approval then if she likes I will upload it and keep it updated and such.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Chris McGinty - Enemy of Debt - Episode Seven

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

Welcome to Episode Seven of: Chris McGinty – Enemy of Debt

For an explanation of this feature, and disclaimers that talk about how I’m not a professional money anything, go to Episode One. If you are caught up to speed though, we’ll begin discussing my friend who called me in financial desperation on July 10, 2011. Out of some, perhaps slight respect for his privacy, I’m not using his real name. I am instead referring to him as Genghis Continuing Saga of a Man in Debt.

I want you to understand that if I woke up in Genghis’s position, I would have handled things a lot differently. First off, luckily, I wouldn’t be addicted to cigarettes, but even if I was, I would have just quit in the interest of getting my bills paid. I would have let all of my loans default. I would have focused all of my efforts on getting a second job and getting my rent paid. I only say this because if you read the last episode, you know that we had to really go out of our way to pay the title loan, and prior to that we had to really go out of our way to pay the payday loans. And we’re still going to have to go out of our way to pay all of these in the coming month. Too much hassle for something that could have been put off to collections. He’s fearful of getting charged for check fraud again.

I texted him Tuesday night and told him that I would be come by in the morning after work and sleep on his couch until the money from his dad came in. He chose this time to confess that the money wasn’t from his dad at all, but from his share stocks from his job.

Now the stocks were only about $200 and he’d asked me if he should cash them out. I said no at the time. I explained that if they would clear up the mess that I would say yes, but they wouldn’t. I told him that as a savings and investment vehicle, stock shares in the company you work for isn’t great, but at least for now, we would have it as something to fall back on. I guess he decided now was the time to fall back on it, and yes, his van would have been repossessed if he hadn’t, but he was to make no money decisions without me.

By that morning, I was really tired, and was feeling the beginnings of a cold. I told him to just call me when it came in. The reason is that there was a slight possibility that it might come in the next day.

He called me at around 2:30 in a panic, because he’d not slept much, and they weren’t there yet, and they said it may be as late as 7 pm, and he was supposed to be at work at 5 pm, and he was thinking he should just call in.

I told him that if he missed Fed Ex, they would leave instructions on how to get the package. Plus, if he called in, not only would he be written up, but he would lose out on a little over $100 in wages over a $150 check.

He told me that he had smoked all the cigarettes he had, and needed me to bring him another pack. I told him he needed to slow down on the smoking, but that I would meet him at the guard office and bring him one pack.

When I got there he explained to me that the check came in right after we got off the phone, and just to make things easier, he went ahead and cashed it. He said it was $150 but that the bank required him to put $5 in to keep his account open. I told him to give me the money he had, and then yelled at him because he was supposed to call me when the check came in, and that he was fucking lying to me.

He called me once he was at his guard post, and tried justifying his position. I told him I wanted the truth, because I was going to find out the truth anyway. He said the check was for $160, but that he had to put some in the bank, and then he got $4 in gas. I said $4 was interestingly similar to the price of a pack of cigarettes, and he swore he didn’t buy cigarettes, but the interesting thing is that he got through just fine on the one pack of cigarettes I gave him until the weekend. So I’m still calling bullshit. We paid the rest of the van payment the next day.

Since then, I have loaned him $4 for gas, and $2 for crickets for his wife’s geckos. As I write this it is Tuesday, August 02, 2011, and he gets his paycheck from his full time job tomorrow. He owes me $522 right now. I’ve decided to let his rent run late, because he insists that the payday loans have to be paid. I have very little money until August 8, 2011. I will meet him at his work in the morning, and he will pay me back the $522. We will then use what’s left over to pay on the payday loans.

I don’t know what his check is going to be, and I don’t know if I’ll loan him anything after he pays me, but I do know this much. Before we do anything, we are going to go to his bank and get a detailed transaction report, and figure out exactly how much money he’s lied to me about. I’m supposed to buy ten packs of cigarettes tomorrow to last for the next twenty days (I was giving him one every day and a half, but I’m going to slowly lower how much he smokes at least while we’re doing this). However much it turns out he’s lied to me about is going to come out of his cigarette money, because I’m presuming he bought cigarettes with it, for the reasons I mentioned above.

Regardless, since he insists on paying his payday loans, even if I don’t take back what he owes me, he doesn’t have enough for his rent and his payday loans tomorrow, so he’ll have to go late on the rent. He’s lucky because he gets three paychecks from his main job this month because of the way the paydays fell, and he will have two paychecks from the guard job. If we pay his payday loans tomorrow, he’ll face late fees with his rent, but he’ll have enough to pay it in two weeks. If he hasn’t lied to me too much, I might help when I get my check on Monday. And as we end off this episode, I know as much as you do about how well this will work.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

On having renters 7

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

This is the 7th part of my series on renovating my mother's rent home in Joshua. The previous renters really tore the place up and it is up to me to get it ready again. Most renters have to sign a contact but the people who lived there were friends of my late step dad and never did. He did a lot of modification to the house but he never finished ANY of it. It has been about four months now and I have been going down there for a couple of hours each Saturday to work on the place.

This post will cover the last couple of times I went and worked on the house. I didn't do enough to warrant a blog post for both days.

The back bedroom (the one where I fixed the floor) was ready for some more painting. The last time I was there I used that paint sprayer and I felt it was more trouble than it was worth (with all the cleanup). I broke out the paint roller and started painting the old school way. This was week before last because I remember that the temperature had actually dropped and it was raining! I put the box fan in the window and got on with the painting. I quickly had second thoughts about the paint sprayer since it was easier to use. I have also noticed that the ceilings need to be painted as well and the paint sprayer would work well there. I did some painting (leaving the green accent painted walls alone) and wrapped up for the day.

This last weekend I had planned to bring back the paint sprayer and do the ceilings in the little bedroom but when I got there the water wasn't working. Since I am so unsure of the quality of the pipes in that house (it's the old nylon gray PVC) I turn the water off when I leave each time at a valve at the back of the house. When I turned it on this last weekend water wasn't coming out. I am not sure if there was a problem form the water company or if there was an issue with the worn out plumbing. Either way painting was out of the question since I need lots of water for the cleanup. I instead decided to do some random little stuff. I pulled out the broken glass form the from bedroom windows and pulled them apart and cleaned them thoroughly (they were nasty). I also did some shop vacuuming of the window sills and various other things.

I loaded up my pickup with the old fridge and and other assorted junk to take to the dump on Monday but once I got it all in and was ready to tie it down I realized that I had pulled the tie-downs out of the truck last week. Doh! I just dumped it all back onto the driveway. I am thinking I will just get everything that needs to be thrown away into a pile and have someone come haul it off.

I brought my water hose to water the dying shrubs and about twenty minutes before I was going to leave the water started working so I watered. I also did some trash cleaning up inside the house and took some measurements to replace the glass from the windows. Before I left I pulled the gazebo down that was sitting on the driveway. The covering was ripped badly and I thought I'd better get it apart and in the new trash pile.

That was it for that weekend. I think my next trip will include working on the trash pile so I can get it hauled off. There is quite a bit of stuff to throw away so I will focus on that next. After that I need to get back to painting and the kitchen floor (the one big thing I am putting off).

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Making a Movie on Little or No Budget (Part One) – Schedule, Script, and Research

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

Let me start this by explaining that this article is all theory at this point. We haven’t started working on our movie yet. I will explain my “qualifications” though, if that’s what you want to call them. Also, let me explain that we will not be using film. If you’re looking for advice about funding a film, which starts with a budget immediately for film stock, then this may not be for you, though there might be some useful advice in here. I want to get my thoughts down prior to pre-production as a means of organizing my thoughts. I’m sure that after we’ve done the movie, I’ll have more of an idea of what thoughts were right, wrong, or a bit of both.

Time – There are budgets in projects that have nothing to do with money. Time is one of them. So far, when I’ve discussed making a movie with my cohorts, the one thing that they have flinched at is the amount of time I’ve scheduled to work on the movie, which is about 20 hours a weekend starting on September 24, 2011. I’ve estimated about a month for pre-production, and a month and a half for shooting. The question might be then: If your schedule is causing people to lose interest, then why set such a heavy schedule?

In 2009, Nathan wrote a six episode season for According To Whim. He got a good idea to do all of the shooting in six days. It wasn’t enough time, but we did do a substantial amount of work that day. Then for the next two and a half years we proceeded not to finish it. If you haven’t been with us throughout that process, you might want to go back and read about what happened.

I feel that with all of the uncontrollable issues we had to deal with, there were a couple of controllable issues too. One issue is that I always felt that we should have devoted four hours a week to finishing up the shooting, starting immediately after the original shoot. Nathan wanted time to encode and organize footage, which was fine, but then I wanted a timeframe to finish working again. The problem is that our completion schedule never became a set schedule, but rather, “Let’s get it done by October,” or, “Let’s get it done by the end of the year.” When Nathan arranged the six day shooting schedule, it had every shot that needed to be done when and where over the six days. There was never a similar schedule for completion, and we needed one.

I assign no blame or take any blame for the continuing incomplete status of Season Two, but I have taken the liberty of learning from it. It’s even closer to completion now, and hopefully it will be done by the end of the year. But I think that there needs to be a real schedule. Every shot doesn’t need to be planned, but just a grouping of time that we all know is to be set aside for Season Two. That’s what I learned, and that’s why I’m setting aside a schedule, even if people are groaning a little about it.

Long term projects don’t typically get completed unless you say that they will be done by a certain time and plan accordingly. While the shooting wasn’t completed in those six days, we would not have had as much as we did if that six days hadn’t been scheduled.

Scripting – I think the vague deadline may be showing in the scripting for our movie. I set a deadline by scheduling mid to late September for pre-production meetings. The thing is that I get the impression that we’re all biding our time because it’s still August. I’ve seen very little from the potential writers for the movie (including myself, which I’ll talk about below). I have seen a scene by scene outline in one case and a few pages of script in another. As back up, I am writing a couple of scripts as well, but I’m not really setting out to shoot a Chris McGinty movie this time out. I want the other people involved to have motivation to be involved. I don’t think there would be as much motivation if I said, “Hey let’s make my movie.”

My fear is that the movie wants to be made by committee, and if that’s the case then someone needs to speak up and say so. If we’re going to throw out an idea and script it together then we should have already been holding meetings, rather than waiting a month and a half to start pre-production only to find out that pre-production is going to also involve scripting.

My belief about scripting (and any rough draft work) is that it should be a pretty uninhibited process. A person could write a feature length movie script in a month by writing three pages of script a day. Writing three pages each day is easy if you budget your time, and if you don’t worry about making it perfect the first time around. Part of pre-production should be editing and doctoring the script. In order to do that there has to be something to edit and doctor.

When you’re writing a novel, you make the rough draft and then go back and edit and fix. The process literally involves writing, and typically just writing. When making a movie the script, no matter how polished, is pretty much the rough draft. Yes, some directors are strict about speaking the dialogue how it’s written on the script, and shooting the movie how it’s storyboarded, but even then you don’t always use the first take of a scene. You re-shoot to get the best shot and the best performance. Then you look at the footage and edit the best material in the way that best works. This means that your script will go through plenty of editing while making the movie. Just write it as well as you can for a rough draft. Typically, you can’t start shooting until the script is done anyway.

Research – They say that when you write novels and short stories that you should read a lot of novels and short stories. This probably means that if you’re going to make a movie, you should probably watch a lot of movies. You should also read and view a lot of material about the making of movies. The instinct of a low budget moviemaker is likely to be to watch making of features of low budget movies that turned out well. It’s a good instinct, but I would also contend that watching and reading about the big budget productions can be very helpful. No, you won’t have the resources available to you, but there is a lot to learn anyway.

What did I learn from watching the documentary of “Revenge of the Sith?” I learned that George Lucas might just have more assistant directors than we’ll have working on our movie. I also learned that they are very careful about matching shots and rehearsing them to play out well. No matter how small your movie is you should be able to do quality control while shooting.

Our shooting style has been more guerilla style, with much of the quality control being done in editing, and there is nothing wrong with this process, except that it has its limitations. It is tempting to set up, shoot quickly, and go home. For a lot of what we’ve done in the past, this is a good idea. A two minute long comedy sketch doesn’t need the same detail as a two hour long horror movie.

Another thing is just as you will want to watch low budget and high budget movies; you will also want to watch good and bad movies. You can learn a lot about getting things right by watching things that were done wrong. I’ve been watching a lot of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” lately, and the lesson about careful matching is just as clear. I also am learning that if it doesn’t forward a plot or subplot it should go. An example is in “The Touch of Satan” when a little too much time is spent on a static shot of a character getting dressed. The MST3K crew quip, “I guess we have to watch his entire morning ritual.” Well, they’re right to make that observation, because the scene is not compelling in anyway, and especially doesn’t further the plot. Maybe if he was having a significant dialogue, or something, it would be ok, but no.

The point is to notice what works and try to achieve it, and also notice what doesn’t work and try to avoid it. You can break rules of what works and what doesn’t, but only if you have a good reason to do so.

That’s all for today. I’ve written about 1,400 more words, and am still writing, so this will probably be a three part article. Next part I will discuss the resource of people, and then I will actually talk about the budget that people think of as the budget, money.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Fixing our economy

By Chris McG... uh I mean Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Today's post is a total rip off of some points Chris made to me and some counterpoints I made to him the other night while I was watering my trees and talking on the phone. We roll like that... Chris said he could write a blog like this but he tended to get way out of control and would go off in every direction so he hasn't. I told him I would do it since I love writing VERY narrow and simple views on things (right or wrong).

FACTS
  • The U.S. owes money. 14.6 trillion at this moment.
  • The U.S. needs money to operate.
  • The U.S. needs money to pay off it's debt too.
  • The U.S. gets it's money from the taxpayers.
  • The U.S. is not getting enough money to operate and pay off debt from the taxpayers.
OPINIONS
  • One side of the aisle thinks that taxing more will save the day.
  • One side of the aisle thinks cutting back on expenses will save the day.
  • Part of one side of the aisle thinks balancing the budget (the operational side) will save the day.
CONCLUSION
  • Anyone with an ounce of sense can see that neither of those opinions will work on their own. You need a melding of the two.
SUGGESTIONS:
  • Chris pointed out to me that Warren Buffett said that the tax rates for the rich and the middle class are off kilter (not their words). Tax rates hurt the lower classes because they pay more thanks to payroll taxes, while the rich (who don't work and don't pay those taxes) make their money off investments and such (which are at lower tax rates).
  • When you hear sound bites on TV about this argument it is never clarified. All you hear is 'the rich should pay more' or 'their fair share'. The facts should be put out there so people don't see these tax generating ideas are not just an attack on part of the populace. This is how I have always perceived it.You should not be 'punished' for being successful. With all these sound bites that's exactly how I was hearing this argument. 'Punish the rich for getting it right'!
  • Chris also pointed out that NOTHING will work in paying off this nation's debt UNTIL you have a balanced budget. More money means nothing if you are just turning around and paying it back out (and not paying off that debt).
FINAL
  • Once again this all comes down to a thought I had a while back in this most excellent post. The government needs to behave like the average American family when it comes to money and budgeting. When you can't pay your bills you cut back (until you pay off your debts).
SOMEONE IN CONGRESS READ THIS
  • This blog post (less than 500 words) has the answers to all our nation's problems. Read it, re-read it. Forward it on...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Flash Ahhhh! Special Edition Footage – The Trio Goes to See Revenge of the Sith

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

The following celebrity text-over by George Lucas is an impersonation done by Chris’s fingertips:

GEORGE: George Lucas here. After my presumed cameo in Episode Twenty-Six, I was asked by the According To Whim guys to create some additional scenes for “Flash Ahhhh!” Or rather some “Special Editional” scenes. haha

MIGUEL: Oh, Mr. Lucas, you’re so funny.

GEORGE: Chill out kid. You’re almost as pathetic as Stephen.

NATHAN: Now, hold on a minute. We didn’t ask you to make anything.

GEORGE: Ok, ok. My insatiable obsession with tampering with things got the best of me.

CHRIS: Well, you certainly have Miguel’s $20 when you put it on a Blu-Ray disc.

GEORGE: Um, right. Anyway, this new scene takes places during Episode Three, appropriately enough, when Miguel shows up and says they have a full day together because he has the power to obfus… to obfus… to keep his wife from detecting his lie about going to work.

[EXT – DAY – DOWNTOWN FORT WORTH]

CHRIS: So we’re presumably super heroes…

MIGUEL: Or super villains.

CHRIS: … or super villains. So what do we do now?

NATHAN: Let’s go to TCC.

CHRIS: To Collect Costumes.

NATHAN: Don’t start. No one got that sketch the first time we did it. No, I was just thinking that it’s a community college. They have government forms available to students. Maybe we can find someone nice who will give us the forms to register our powers.

MIGUEL: But before we go to TCC, let’s go see a matinee. I know a theater that is still showing “Revenge of the Sith” even though this is presumably 2006 and/or 2011.

(The scene cuts to a TV show opening piece. It sounds an awful lot like the MST3K Theme.)

In the not too distant past
Sometime in 2006
Nathan came up with a sketch
That time could not nix

We’ll go see a Star Wars Movie
The worst of the lot (la la la)
We’ll talk throughout the picture
And act like little snots

It’s Mystery Flash Ahhhh! 3000

[INT – DAY – MOVIE THEATER]

(“Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith” is starting on the screen as Miguel Servo, JoNateMike, and Chriooows take their seats in the front row. Their shapes are silhouetted in front of the screen.)

CHRIS: Sometimes I’m happy for Spell Check, or I would have never got “silhouetted” right.

MIGUEL: Long time ago… it was just 1977.

CHRIS: It’s 2006 Miguel.

MIGUEL: What!? I feel so old.

NATHAN: No panic attacks before the end of the first act, Miguel.

MIGUEL: Episode III: The Revenge of the Jedi… oops, I mean the Sith.

CHRIS: Episode III: The Sith Sense.

NATHAN: I don’t mean to spoil it guys, but Bruce Willis was Darth Vader all along.

CHRIS: Great! No surprise ending for us.

(Later in the movie, Count Dooku is talking some smack about making a short order cook of Anakin, or something like that.)

ANAKIN (on screen): My powers have doubled since last time we met, Count.

CHRIS: Uh, one, two. He’s right, Mike. Doubled.

NATHAN: My name’s not Mike.

CHRIS: Soooorrrrreeee. I’ll be sure to call you Nathan from here on out.

NATHAN: Well, it is my name.

CHRIS: Oh, like that’s a reason.

MIGUEL: My name is Spanish for Mike. You can call me Mike if you like.

CHRIS: Shut up, Joel.

MIGUEL: Mike if you like.

NATHAN: You’re a poet and didn’t realize it.

(Chris laughs.)

CHRIS: That’s really funny.

NATHAN: Thanks. But you’re the one who said it. I stole it from you.

CHRIS: Wow. I’m really funny.

(They’re mesmerized for a moment by the light saber fight.)

CHRIS: Nathan, if Anakin’s power doubles again it’ll be four. If it doubles again after that it’ll be eight. You know what happens if it doubles again?

NATHAN: You’ll have a million dollars in less than a month?

MIGUEL: No, he won’t be able to add anymore because he doesn’t have that many fingers.

NATHAN: Are you going to let him talk about you that way?

CHRIS: Well, that was the right answer.

(Later in the film, Obi Wan is telling Anakin that he was the true hero of the day. Anakin quips a response.)

ANAKIN (on screen): After saving you for the tenth time

OBI WAN (on screen): Ninth time. That business on Cato Neimoidia doesn’t count.

NATHAN: That business on Kato Kaelin doesn’t count either.

MIGUEL: Nor does that business on Leonard Neimoidia.

CHRIS: What a vague detail to bring up, “That business on Cato Neimoidia.” Luckily, I heard that the resulting fan fiction riot didn’t cause too many injuries.

(Later in the movie, Chris is coming back from getting popcorn.)

CHRIS: Did I miss anything?

MIGUEL: Just a few minutes.

CHRIS: Damn it. The one time I was actually hoping for the line to be long. How did I let you talk me into coming to see this pile of Sith?

NATHAN: We said we would let you talk during the movie.

CHRIS: Oh! That’s right.

(On screen, Samuel L Jackson, as Mace Windu, is talking to Anakin about the Chancellor's move to put him on the Jedi Council.)

MACE WINDU (on screen): You are on this council, but we do not grant you the rank of Master.

ANAKIN (on screen): What?

(The shot cuts to Mace Windu looking stern.)

CHRIS: Say what again, motherfucker! Say what again!

MIGUEL: ILM. I Like Mace.

NATHAN: ILM. Industrial Light and Mace.

CHRIS: ILM. I Lost my mind when I agreed to see this movie that is only made good by Mace.

(Later in the movie, there is some sort of issue that doesn’t turn out too well for Mace.)

MIGUEL: It’s going to the wall! Bases loaded and it’s going to the wall!

NATHAN: And it’s out of there! Final score Coruscant Siths 6 Naboo Jedis 2!

CHRIS: That part where the glass shattered was like one of those mission based video games with an interactive environment.

MIGUEL: I don’t know what just got into me. I know nothing about football.

NATHAN: Me neither… I thought that was volleyball.

(It is at this time that Anakin joins Chancellor Palpatine.)

PALPATINE (on screen): Henceforth you will be known as Darth…

CHRIS: Reginald? No wait, that’s taken.

PALPATINE (on screen): … Vader.

MIGUEL: Ooh, I like it. Palpatine comes up with the greatest names.

CHRIS: What was with that pause? Did he have to think of something?

NATHAN: I hear that in the first draft of the script he opened the phone book to a random page and pointed.

PALPATINE (on screen): I believe you are the only Jedi with no knowledge of this plot.

CHRIS: Which means he’s doing about as well as the audience.

PALPATINE (on screen): You will go to the Jedi Tower.

CHRIS (whining): Awwww! But I hate doing side missions.

NATHAN: Quiet you. Or I’ll make you drive a cab in Liberty City.

PALPATINE (on screen): Wipe out Viceroy Gunray…

CHRIS: We’ll blame it on John Linckhey, Jr.

(Later in the film, Obi Wan is watching security footage of Anakin’s wacky, and decidedly evil, hijinks.)

PALPATINE (on screen (on screen)): Now Lord Vader, go and bring peace to the galaxy.

MIGUEL: Sophisticated camera equipment that provides revisionist history.

OBI WAN (on screen): I can’t watch anymore.

CHRIS: I started feeling that way about an hour ago.

(Later in the film, Obi Wan is arguing with Anakin.)

OBI WAN (on screen): Only a Sith deals in absolutes.

NATHAN: He said, absolutely.

CHRIS: Why would anyone want to hang out on a lava planet?

MIGUEL: I don’t know. Why did Billy Corgan feel the need to hang out on the dark side of the moon in “Star Trek: Nemesis?”

CHRIS: Hey! That made sense. This doesn’t.

MIGUEL: Why, I oughtta come over there and…

NATHAN (singing): La la la la lava lamp.

(All three start to dance in their seats.)

ALL THREE (singing): I love to turn you on.

(Later, after many terrible things have happened that set up the story of the original trilogy, Senator Organa is walking down the corridor with C-3PO and R2-D2.)

ORGANA (on screen): Have the protocol droid’s mind wiped.

C-3PO (on screen): What? Oh no.

CHRIS: After this movie, Three-pio, you’re the lucky one.

MIGUEL: Jimmy Smits always gets so smug when he clears up a plot hole.

(The scene ends and we cut back to George Lucas, still being text-over impersonated.)

GEORGE: I hope you have enjoyed this Special Edition look at “Flash Ahhhh!” Give us long enough for the home video sales to slip, and we’ll release a new Special Edition Box Set with a never before seen scene that features props and locations from the serial along with shots of characters, all of whose faces will be shrouded in some way that it’s impossible to tell if the footage is authentic.

NATHAN (sarcastically): Oh boy, I can’t wait.

MIGUEL (holding a $20 bill): Me either.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Flash Ahhhh!: Episode Thirty-Three - Couples Counseling

by the According To Whim.com crew

(Part One by Nathan Stout)

[INT - JAIL - NIGHT]

NATHAN: Let’s get out of here.

CHRIS: Right.

DENTRE: Correct.

SHAG: Yes.

LARRY: OK.

STUBBY: Fine.

ANGELINA: Cool.

PAUL: Affirmative.

MIGUEL: Yep.

PROFESSOR: I’ll need help getting down the stairs.

(Everyone waits for Nathan’s lead, but he doesn’t move.)

CHRIS: What’s wrong.

NATHAN: I’ve lost all motivation.

DENTRE: You just need a push.

NATHAN: Not that kind of motivation.

CHRIS: Pick him up and put him on the Professor’s lap.

(The group assists in putting the immobile Nathan on the Professor’s lap. They move to a door and the Professor can’t go any further.)

PAUL: Allow me.

(Paul concentrates. The Professor’s wheelchair rises off the floor and floats carefully down to the ground.)

PROFESSOR: Thank you.

PAUL: You are welcome.

ANGELINA: Over there.

PROFESSOR: There is a backup on repairs at the motor pool, so we will have to use the damaged van.

(Everyone starts climbing into the van that has no roof from when Angelina saved Chris in a dramatic fashion.)

PROFESSOR: Driver...

DRIVER: Yes sir.

PROFESSOR: Take us to Nathan’s house.

DRIVER: Very well.

(The driver starts the van, and it starts off down the road. Since it is night, the cool air blows through the roofless van and everyone seems to be enjoying it.)

SHAG: Who’s hungry?

LARRY: I am.

DENTRE: You are a kid and kids are always hungry.

CHRIS: Meh.

ANGELINA: I guess I could toy with some food.

PROFESSOR: I don’t need the amount of calories you all do since I don’t use half of my body, but I could have something small.

PAUL: I’m hungry.

NATHAN: Eh...

DRIVER: I would like something.

PROFESSOR: No one asked you Driver.

DRIVER: My apologies.

ANGELINA: Here let me.

(Angelina pulls a handkerchief out of her pocket and dabs some saliva off Nathan’s chin.)

NATHAN: Thanks...

PROFESSOR: Don’t worry about it son, everyone loses interest in projects at some point.

PAUL: Remember that project Chris was going to do where he was going to make a Net Runner card for every Magic the Gathering card that existed?

ANGELINA: Remember that script project called ten minutes in hell that you all were going to do?

SHAG: Remember Whimipedia?

DENTRE: Remember the consolidation of the Newsgroups?

PROFESSOR: What about all the books and scripts?

NATHAN: Why are you all being so nice, and how do you know these things? And why is Angelina giving me a blowjob?

CHRIS: Wake up.

NATHAN: No.

CHRIS: Wake up, we gotta go.

NATHAN: Huh? Wha?

[INT - JAIL - DAY]

(Nathan sits up and realizes it was all a dream and starts crying.)

CHRIS: Why are you crying?

NATHAN: Nothing...

(End of Part One)

(Part Two by Chris McGinty)

[INT – JAIL – DAY]

CHRIS: And why is Angelina giving me a blow job now? Oh, I see. We’re still in petty argument dream mode.

NATHAN: Yeah, the problem with writing Part One is you can never have the last word.

CHRIS: Listen, I think what we need is marital counseling.

NATHAN: Marital?

CHRIS: Yeah, cos creative partnerships are basically marriages without the sex.

(Chris and Nathan both look at Angelina’s bobbing head.)

CHRIS: You know what I mean.

NATHAN: So what do you suggest we do?

CHRIS: I think we should go see my alter ego, and counselor, Sigmund Floyd.

NATHAN: Alter ego? You mean…

CHRIS: Yep. He looks just like me, which makes it an easier role to cast.

[INT – SIGMUND FLOYD’S OFFICE – DAY]

(Chris and Nathan sit in two chairs across from a man who looks nothing like Chris, but instead looks an awful lot like Fraz…)

CHRIS: Unless of course they get Kelsey Grammar to play the role.

FLOYD: So why are we here today? I’m listening.

CHRIS: Well, it all started two weeks ago. Nathan’s writer alter ego (herein referred to as Nathan) told my writer alter ego (herein referred to as me) that his writing on the Saturday serial had become sloppy.

NATHAN: Well, to Nathan it seemed that me’s writing…

CHRIS: Ok, let me clarify. I will herein refer to Nathan’s writer alter ego as Nathan, and my writer alter ego as me. Nathan will refer to them as me and Chris, respectively.

FLOYD: What do I refer to them as?

CHRIS: Sam and Diane.

FLOYD: Shouldn’t I be played by John Cleese then?

CHRIS: Or by me. Since you’re my alter ego. That might me novel.

(It’s at that moment that Greenly Meadows and Lewis Cannon walk in. They are played by Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts.)

GREENLY: Hi.

LEWIS: Hey.

FLOYD: Can I help you?

GREENLY: No, we just wanted to waste your time a little more.

(They leave.)

FLOYD: What were you saying Nathan? I’m listening.

(Nathan rolls his eyes.)

NATHAN: Well, to me it seemed like Chris’s writing had just become long passages of weird, rather than anything that was furthering the plot.

CHRIS: So I defended myself by showing how I was actually putting in a lot of work on the serial, and how my seeming passages of weird were actually furthering the plot.

NATHAN: At which time I got mad that he was furthering the plot.

CHRIS: Yeah.

NATHAN: Hey! That wasn’t nice. Write my line honestly, please. I got upset, because I thought that he already had the whole thing planned out and that I was just a tool to help him write.

CHRIS: So in retaliation to my presumed sloppy writing, he wrote two of the sloppiest parts of episodes in the entire history of the serial and blamed it at first on me using him as a tool and then on just losing motivation.

NATHAN: Well, we all lose motivation.

CHRIS: I know. You were really quick to point out a long list of projects that I’ve either gotten behind on or not followed through on, while ignoring the various projects that you’ve lost motivation on or that never even got started because they were my ideas and you either “had no interest in” or “didn’t understand.”

(The door opens. A woman, played by Jane Wiedlin, walks in. She is pushing a cart of laundry.)

JANE: Your laundry is done.

NATHAN: Wait, this laundry is still dirty.

JANE: Yes sir, but it has been aired out.

(Jane walks out the door. Chris and Nathan watch her leave, and then turn to each other.)

CHRIS: Dude, you totally just talked to Jane Wiedlin.

NATHAN: High five.

(They slap hands high above their heads. They start to cabbage patch and sing.)

CHRIS & NATHAN: Oooh you send me, you got me in the Rush Hour.

FLOYD: You’re paying me by the hour, guys. Can we focus?

(Chris and Nathan continue to sing.)

CHRIS & NATHAN: Oooh it’s so good. Baby when you access three additional cards. I can’t believe you got in without noisy icebreakers. It’s such a rush just runnin’ R&D. We’re jammin’ in the Rush Hour.

FLOYD: Fellas!

CHRIS & NATHAN: What!?

FLOYD: Thank you. You see. I don’t even get why you two are having marital… um, that is, creative… problems. You seem to be having fun even in the turmoil of your creative differences.

NATHAN: Well, that’s because at the core of everything, we’re great friends. That was the whole point of Season Two.

CHRIS: Which I’d like to point out was Nathan’s writing project, and I was just a tool.

FLOYD: Now Chris, let’s keep the criticism on high ground.

(Chris stands up on Sigmund Floyd’s desk, kicking over a picture of David Hyde Pierce in the process.)

CHRIS: And when you lost motivation on Season Two after the hard drive crashes, who was there giving you a pep talk to keep at it? Who said that he would happily re-shoot any scenes that were lost?

FLOYD: That’s not what I meant by high ground, Chris.

(Chris gets down from the desk, and sits back in his chair.)

NATHAN: Hey, get off my lap!

(His chair.)

CHRIS: Sorry. Listen, I completely get why Nathan got upset when he thought I had a grand plan for “Flash Ahhhh!” and that was ignoring his contribution. I tried to write a couple of fun bits both in the serial and out to try to get him to understand that that wasn’t the case. I’m not sure if we’re even at odds about that anymore. I know that I’ve explained the three act thing to him before. I explained it when I told him how I formatted the According To Whim novel, which is still pending completion. I loosely used it in the novel I did complete, but I doubt I discussed that with Nathan yet, because I’m still editing it so he can read it. I explained to Nathan how I was using the three act thing to clean up Miguel’s “Screenplay ’99.” It’s just a second nature to me to pay attention to the three act format in longer projects. It was part of my job as editor.

FLOYD: Very good, Chris. And you managed that without a lot of distracting nonsense going on around you.

CHRIS: Don’t patronize me, or I’ll make more happen. Listen, Nathan. I get that you weren’t 100% about this project to begin with, but we’ve done a good job with it so far. You’ve made some good suggestions for plot devices. We’ve made each other laugh. One day, when we’re a little better known, there will even be people who will read this, and thoroughly enjoy it.

(Stubby opens the door.)

STUBBY: They’ll Thorogood enjoy it.

(Stubby closes the door. Sigmund Floyd looks scornfully at Chris.)

CHRIS: Don’t look at me like that. I have no control over him.

NATHAN: I see what you mean, Chris. At least, I hope I do, so that we don’t have yet another episode like this. I think I’m motivated again, and ready to write the last 34 % of this story, and make it the best serial we’ve ever done. Which isn’t too hard since it’s the only one we’ve ever done.

CHRIS: You know. This is a dream sequence. We could totally kiss and it wouldn’t be gay. I mean by the reckoning of Sigmund Freud, it would just symbolize an attraction to our mothers.

NATHAN: Eh, we’d better not. What if this gets made into a movie one day? So what do we do now?

CHRIS: Well, I think we get back to the reality of the situation where we left off. We’re in jail with Miguel, Stubby, Shag, Dentre, and Reece (aka Larry). The door is down, and we don’t know what’s going on. Why did Quincy put Stubby in jail with us in the first place? Was he afraid he wasn’t really Stubby? Was he under orders from the professor? Is Stubby still a threat? Is Quincy still a threat? Are Quincy and Stubby still in cahoots? Can Larry and Dentre (who both seem to have an inkling of what the various villains are up to) shed some light as to what is actually going on? And I think we should segue into that with a “Pulp Fiction” reference.

NATHAN: Interesting point. Now let’s get into character.

[INT – DAY – JAIL]

SHAG: You guys have the trippiest dreams.

CHRIS: You think it’s trippy even when it’s real.

SHAG: Fair enough.

NATHAN: So, Larry.

CHRIS: Reece.

LARRY: Larry!

NATHAN: Do you know if Quincy is still in the building? Is he still a threat? And what about Stubby? Is he still a threat?

(They hear glass shatter. They look over to see that Stubby has broken the picture of David Hyde Pierce, and is holding Sigmund Floyd, who is still played by Kelsey Grammar and seems to have come back with them out of the dream state, by the throat with glass pressed against his carotid artery.)

NATHAN: Aside from that, I mean.

(End Episode Thirty-Three)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Doodad Part 1

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

This is the first of many blogs about the different things I am going to do the new toy I have, a 1971 VW Beetle. I told the story of how I got the new car in this blog.
The day after I brought the car home I got insurance on it (liability) and started looking for my first modification to the car... a new muffler. There was no muffler on it, just one of those big tail pipes that makes your head rattle when you drive it down the freeway. I know its all macho and all but I'd prefer the more traditional muffler sound (and look).

The car has had quite a bit of modification when I bought it... OK, a lot of modification. The car was slightly lowered, the windows tinted, a new paint job (think ZZ top), and what looks like a totally re-done motor. I looks like the in the not too distant past the ar was really fixed up (in certain areas). The window seals look redone as well as newer seats (which should be replaced at some point).

The muffler I found was on JC Whitney. This is a very big company that deals with car parts and specializes in VWs. The website is huge and they have everything... except most everything they sell you is always out of stock. I got disgusted with the whole thing and canceled the order (muffler, kit, tailpipes, kit, and a couple of window handles). I did keep the window handles. Well, on that Friday I had to go into Fort Worth for work so I went to this place near downtown called Automotive Machine & Supply Inc. They specialize in import parts and carry a lot of stuff on site. I got everything I ordered on JC Whitney (plus some fuel line for the Super). True I paid a lot more (they were real German parts and not the cheaper Mexican made parts) but I had it all right then and there.

I had my coworker and sometimes According To Whim actor Eric come over and help me swap out the 'performance exhaust' with the stock muffler. It was all going well until we tried to mount the muffler. There were some custom stuff done to the motor including a real oil filter that sits in the way of the muffler. We had to take a hammer to the muffler to get it to 'all get along'. It took about two hours to get it all in but it was getting too late to wrestle the tail pipes on. We went ahead and started up the car to see how loud it was. Surprisingly it sounded basically the same as the big pipe UNTIL we put the tail pipes in. They immediately silenced the loudness. It was amazing the difference those little pipe make.

I will take the time to get the tail pipes on at a later date then I can move along to the next project... not sure what that is right now but I will keep you posted.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Chris McGinty - Enemy of Debt - Episode Six

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

Welcome to Episode Six of: Chris McGinty – Enemy of Debt

For an explanation of this feature, and disclaimers that talk about how I’m not a professional money anything, go to Episode One. If you are caught up to speed though, we’ll begin discussing my friend who called me in financial desperation on July 10, 2011. Out of some, perhaps slight respect for his privacy, I’m not using his real name. I am instead referring to him as Genghis Confusion (that’s what the world is today, hey, hey).

Last episode, I explained how we had used Genghis’s paycheck to pay off the rest of his rent late fees, to get his fingerprints for the guard job, and then the rest he paid back to me for what I loaned him the day we got the $400 payday loan, and I helped him with the difference, and other things (cigarettes, gas, crickets, and a used tire). If none of this is sounding familiar then maybe you’re not caught up to speed.

The bigger payday loan and the title loan are about thirty minutes away, so I decided that we needed to get the van loan transferred to the new title loan place at the same time. This is where we ran into a minor defeat (or major, depending on whether we can pay the title loan or not). His wife is on the title of the van, and his wife is in Oklahoma, so there was no way to transfer the loan until she gets back. By then, he’ll either have lost the van, or we’ll have paid on it, unless they’ll work with us further. So that was a dead end.

We went out to the payday loan place with the bigger loan, and in spite of his protests, I asked if they could help him out any. He was technically right that they would not give him any more time to make this payment, but learning the situation, they gave him a month rather than two weeks to get the next payment in. It really doesn’t solve anything, but it’s a little more time to try to breakthrough on something. They also adjusted the payment to match what I actually had in cash, which was necessary.

We went back to the place with the smaller loan, and it turns out they won’t take payment with a debit card. I get that they don’t want people paying payday loans with credit cards, but a debit card is as good as cash, so I had to make a small purchase at the grocery store next door, and get cash back.

Genghis now owes me $186.88, which is more than before. I’m getting frustrated, because I can’t see how this is going to breakthrough unless I loan him a large amount of money that I won’t get back for a long time.

The only hope I see at this moment is that my boss told me that next week Genghis will be working around 25 hours. That means that the paycheck he’ll get on August 8, 2011, will actually be helpful. The question is if we can hold it together that long. The funny thing is that this will be posted around August 18, 2011, so by the time you’re reading this, I’ll already know if we did hold it together. And even though I’m technically caught up to modern times at the time of this writing, I’ll pick back up on it Monday night after our guard job payday, but for you it’ll be next paragraph. See you there.

Hi, welcome back. Well, more welcome back to me than you. I’ve been gone longer. Things have improved very little, and in some ways become worse. When I say all of this, I want to say that there is nothing terrible just yet, but I’m rethinking the use of his first big paycheck for the month.

On July 25, 2011, I met him at his apartment a little before 2 pm, and we went to get our security guard paychecks. His check was $150 and some change. We went to my bank and deposited both checks. Technically, this put him down to only owing me about $36, but that was to be short lived since I was about to loan him $475 to pay for his van.

We went to the title loan place, and he called on the way. They were telling him that it would be $625. I told him that we would have to talk to them, because I had $500 because that was what they told us we would need on July 25. When we got there they explained that the extra was because they had to renew the loan twice. Uh huh. Bullshit. That’s what the late fees were, and they told us $475. I explained to them the van wasn’t worth what he owed because of some damage to the axel, and that they would be better off to give him some time.

Finally, we spoke with a supervisor and he said that if we paid the $475 now, he would give us until the end of the week. Genghis was all about it. He didn’t want to lose the van. I technically didn’t want him to lose the van either, but I told him that he’s in such a position that he would almost be better off getting a bicycle to get back and forth to work on. He would have to quit the guard job, but he wouldn’t be burning through tires. He wouldn’t have to pay for insurance. He would save money on gas. And on top of everything, if his van breaks down anytime in the next three months, he probably won’t have the money to fix it.

Nope. He wasn’t hearing any of it. He had to have his van. He told me that his dad was going to loan him about $150 and that it would be there on Wednesday. It would be enough to cover the van. I pointed out that it would be enough to cover the van if they didn’t take his $475 and then take his van anyway (and I told him to make no mistake that it was his $475, because I’d pull it out of his next check if they took his van). He said he trusted the loan supervisor, which was more than I was willing to do, so we paid them. I gave them $480 rather than mess with change.

This brought him up to about $516 that he owed me. And I’ll even ruin the cliffhanger here by saying that he was able to pay the other $145 on time, but I’ll then set up another cliff hanger by saying that you’ll want to read next week when I explain why I had to yell at Genghis for being a liar. See you then.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Taxes

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Taxes. They are the fuel that runs the government. The government could not run if it collected no taxes. The US federal government collects about 3 trillion in taxes a year.

With that said there is a lot of talk about taxes in the news right now. We have 2 sides of the argument:
  1. The government needs more money.
  2. The government needs to cut back on its spending.
So the solutions to these problems are:
  1. The government needs to raise taxes.
  2. The government needs to cut back on it's spending.
But wait.... I have an alternate solution! Why not get money from a different source that taxes??? I have a stellar suggestion!!!

This is great. I'm giddy with excitement at my cleverness. It will make the liberals happy and the conservatives happy. 

So... there is an estimated 11-12 million 'undocumented' aka ILLEGAL people in the US. Now that is just a 'estimate' since we don't really know because they won't get up and declare themselves so.

Why not offer the long fought for 'Dream Act' of letting illegals become citizens. My plan alters this by adding a fee to becoming a citizen. Pay something like $1,000 a person and poof... you are a US citizen.
  1. This would create 11 billion dollars in revenue!
  2. This would allow illegals to become citizens!
  3. This would put 11 million people on the tax rolls!
KAPOW!!!!!!

This satisfies liberals looking to let anybody become citizens and satisfies conservatives because these free-loaders would now be life long tax payers! Win Win!

WINNING!

Tell me that's a stupid idea. It's not. It's pretty awesome. That's turning a liability into a assert...

Things were going great until someone pointed something out to me. Once you get these guys on the payrolls what sort of jobs will they be doing? Probably the low wage jobs they are doing now... only NOW they will be able to start drawing on government assistance like food stamps and Medicaid.

LOSING!

Never mind.

PS: One more tax point. I have noticed that every time the current accidental tourist in the White House talks about the need to raise taxes he always talks about 'millionares' and 'billionares'... the taxes he is proposing raising starts with couples earning $250,000+ a year. Not just millionaires and billionaires. Also I noticed he never admits he is a millionaire... that probably eveytime he talks about these rich people he casts them in some sort of evil light. Just sayin'

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Notting Whim, Actually: A Controversy in the ATW (Part Two)

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

So here we are back to telling about the recent controversy surrounding our Saturday serial, “Flash Ahhhh!” But not being content to just tell my point of view, I have instead turned it into a romantic comedy, which is named “The Wedding Flashers.” No, sorry. It’s simply “The Flashers.” “The Wedding Flashers” is the proposed sequel that is being developed in case this one is a runaway hit. You can read about it in Part One, but the basics so far are than Nathan, played by Tom Hanks, has been assigned to write a daily blog with Chris, played by Meg Ryan, and as part of the daily blog, they are writing the serial “Flash Ahhhh!” together. Having bonded at an office party things are going well between the two, but in a romantic comedy, there is always a misunderstanding that threatens to come between them. Let’s pick up just before the misunderstanding, where the two are harmoniously writing the serial.

They Start to Fall for Each Other (Part Three) – Since Chris is writing Part Two of most episodes, he is more or less in charge of furthering the plot that Nathan sets down in Part One and setting up a major or minor cliffhanger to keep the audience coming back. In this way, since Nathan is writing Part One he is more or less in charge of getting the characters out of any danger they might be in, and setting up the next section of the plot. Chris realizes this. When Nathan gives a few brief notes about which direction to take the story, Chris decides to take on a more arbitrary role in the storyline. He thinks it makes sense, but doesn’t really explain it to Nathan, because it has little to do with the week to week writing of the serial, and more to do with the editing, which Nathan isn’t doing. Miguel, as their boss and comic relief, but also as a true friend, reads the serial every week and finds it funny, along with the rest of America, and forty-two other countries around the world. Because, as we established in Part One of this synopsis; According To Whim is wildly, emphasis on wildly, successful.

They Start to Fall for Each Other (Part Four) – Most episodes come to Chris with Nathan’s latest furthering of the plot. Chris reads it, and often reads bits of previous episodes just to try to keep some amount of continuity going. Chris comes up behind Nathan and patches little continuity errors, often by calling blatant attention to them, and since it’s a comedy serial, finding some almost logical, but mostly silly, explanation of why it’s not really a continuity glitch. This is the special circumstance of writing in such a way that you can’t go back and fix previous episodes. Just ask the writers of “Lost” how tough this is. The big difference is that Nathan writes his part, passes it on to Chris, and mostly doesn’t think about it again, until Chris’s part is written. Chris reads Nathan’s part, writes his own part, edits it, and posts it. Chris also takes notes for things that might be referred to later, but not with any sort of plan for referring to them, just that if something comes up he has that note to remind him. Just the way he did with the Reece/Larry character. In our romantic comedy world, a lot of this is discussed with Chris’s mom and sister when Chris and Nathan vacation together so that Nathan can meet the family. Chris’s dad, played by Sean Connery, is a cantankerous but lovable guy who only wants what best for his daughter, since Chris is being played by Meg Ryan, and he and Nathan hit it off while fishing, or something rustic like that.

They Start to Fall for Each Other (Part Five) – Chris doesn’t think that it’s important to explain to Nathan his process, because Nathan is often saying that he barely has time to write his regular blog posts, much less do a lot of work on the serial. Chris often massages Nathan and shows his support, because it’s totally not gay if Meg Ryan is your personal taste, but Chris doubts that Nathan would want the added strain of rereading episodes, making notes for loose ends and continuity, and paying attention to the basic pacing of a three act structure. This is all on state of the art computers that will seem obsolete by the time the movie reaches the DVD market. It seems to work out for a while. Nathan makes notes about how he would like to unfold the plot, Chris follows his lead, Nathan writes the set up, and Chris only really rocks the boat every so often as a means of either preserving a storyline that hasn’t fully resolved, or to help bring a close to a storyline that is threatening to go on too long. He is not, however, contradicting Nathan’s notes for where the plot should go, or even making any specific plans for where the plot should go. He is simply avoiding loose ends, and as many continuity problems as possible.

There is a Misunderstanding that Threatens to Ruin Everything They Are (Part One) – On two occasions; Chris does a full read through of the story. He realizes to his embarrassment that he’s being played by Julia Roberts not Meg Ryan, and Nathan is being played by Hugh Grant not Tom Hanks. He totally got the romantic comedy team mixed up. Sheesh. At least he didn’t say Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. The first read through is around the end of Act One, so that he can make notes for things to bring up in Act Two. Anything that Chris thinks might come up in the final act of the story needs to have at least a small role in Act Two, so as to remind the audience that they exist. The funny drunk guy from the party stops by Chris’s desk one day to tell him that’s a good idea. Chris makes a list of characters and situations to reference in Act Two, and does so. The idea is that, much like the Reece/Larry character, if they do become a major plot point they won’t just be showing up out of nowhere 30 to 40 episodes later, and if they don’t become a major plot point there can be a small tying up of the loose end. He figures that if Nathan wishes to pursue any of these situations, he will. If not, they will be relegated to the minor plot point section. The other read through is when Chris, one night, decides to write some mini-essays about the process of writing the serial. In both of these cases, he takes notes about loose ends and continuity. He likens it to having a continuity job on a TV show. The continuity person doesn’t tell the writers how to write their stories. The continuity person doesn’t create grand plans for how the story will resolve. The continuity person is merely an editor who does their best to make things make sense within the canon of the story. Again, this is all in the spirit of needing enough material for 52, count ‘em 52, episodes, and attempting to pace the story for those who might sit down and read it from beginning to end.

There is a Misunderstanding that Threatens to Ruin Everything They Are (Part Two) – Chris does, on a few occasions, discuss a few things with Nathan having to do with continuity, and these discussions take place in places like coffee shops (with product placement clearly blocked in the frame) and while parachuting out of planes. In real life they would happen over the phone, but in a romantic comedy the conversations have to be visually stunning, have to have potential for laughs, and often to give young, unknown actors and actresses a chance to say a couple of lines. He explains about a weird throwaway gag having to do with a weird detail that Nathan wrote. He explains that he has been rereading things and making notes for things that might come up. He never specifically broaches the three act thing, but Nathan has expressed that he doesn’t have time to reread and do all of that. The point is that he has not left Nathan out of the process at all. He simply hasn’t bothered Nathan with the technical side of things so Nathan could focus on the plot of the story.

There is a Misunderstanding that Threatens to Ruin Everything They Are (Part Three) – Later they are in a meeting with their boss, who while normally comic relief is being shown as the leader he really is. He wants to know how things are going with the serial. It is at this point that Nathan tries to explain that Chris’s writing has become sloppy. This comes from the fact that in episode Twenty-Three Chris used a dream sequence to fix a continuity problem. Nathan, in sort of a weird retaliation, started the next episode with another dream sequence. This gave Chris the idea to use the dream states as a plot point. So he started using them more. His idea was that with all the super powers and scientific gadgets running around that certainly Nathan would find some reason for the dreams, but Nathan ignored them. Then Chris remembered the Reece/Larry character. His power could conceivably cause the phenomenon, and he was nearby in story and setting the first time a dream sequence was used by Nathan. So he made a plot decision, one of the few he had made that wasn’t based on Nathan’s notes, and brought Reece/Larry back. Feeling a little insulted that his writing was called sloppy, given the amount of work he had been putting into the serial for the last seven months, Chris felt the need to explain why it wasn’t sloppy. For some reason when he explained his thought process to Nathan, Nathan took it to mean that the whole time Chris had some grand plan for the story that he didn’t tell Nathan about. And thus the misunderstanding. In our romantic comedy, Nathan storms out of the room, running into the funny drunk guy from the party who is carrying a birthday cake, because there always seems to be a birthday in these things, if not Christmas. The cake gets all over the funny drunk guy from the party, giving a little lightheartedness to this otherwise emotional scene.

Montage – This is where there is a big montage showing them trying to live their lives apart. Everyone is of course sad that they are split, because in romantic comedies people rarely think of their own personal issues, but rather care deeply about the lead characters. And there are probably scenes of Nathan and Chris talking to Miguel at separate times. Probably at the water gardens.

There is a Misunderstanding that Threatens to Ruin Everything They Are (Part Four) – Nathan writes the serial that week, and expresses his upset feelings through the characters, saying that he shouldn’t even try to write something good since it’s Chris’s writing project that Chris will just hijack from him if he tries to do anything creative with it. One of the characters makes the statement, “I mean when did we start caring about continuity?” Chris finds this funny because he has been paying attention to continuity literally every week of the writing process. It was what led to the misunderstanding. Chris fires back a reply in the context of the story, showing that almost the entire plot and most of the active characters are Nathan’s creation, not his, and that he doesn’t have some grand plan. He was simply doing the job of editor and continuity person.

They Resolve It and Live Happily After Credits – For all intents and purposes, this movie is like “Casablanca” in that the writers don’t know the ending yet. Scratch that. This movie is like “Flash Ahhhh!” in that the writers don’t know the ending yet. But if I had to guess how this would end, Chris would write a weird blog post, probably set in a romantic comedy, expressing the fact that he was not trying to fool Nathan into thinking that they were collaborating on a story while simply twisting the plot to his own means. Nathan would then read it and realize that Chris isn’t collaboratively challenged, and forgive him the transgression that was never really there. There would be a big office party celebrating the last episode of “Flash Ahhhh!” that would show everyone having a good time, and doing wacky things. Somehow, Chris’s family would be there and Nathan and Chris’s dad would be telling stories about their fishing trip, or other rustic activity. This would all take place on New Year’s Eve since the serial was a year long feature, and funny drunk guy would be at it again, and all the people we’ve seen in the office (which has an incredibly low turnover rate) would be having a good time deciding who will be his designated driver.

Credits – As the movie ends, someone would point out to Chris and Nathan that they walked around last year flashing everyone, and they should do it again. As the credits rolled, you would see everyone from the movie lifting their shirts to show their chests, but in each case there would be something obscuring any real nudity. There would be a funny segment where you see two of the women from the office lifting their shirts to reveal their bras. Then Nathan and Chris’s dad would lift their shirts to reveal the same bras. Another funny bit would be a parody of REM’s “Pop Song ‘89” music video, with Chris standing in as Michael Stipe, though it would be funnier if Chris wasn’t played by Julia Roberts.