Friday, March 27, 2009

This Mystery Man’s Kung-Fu is Good

Gentle Reader, submitted for your approval: If you have an interest in film and in writing for them then you owe it to yourself to visit this blog, soak in what you read there and check out his Writer’s Resources section. There is a wealth of information to be found here.

I read about his blog while checking out Ain’t It Cool News a few weeks back. Harry had posted something about a long conversation between three filmmakers (Kasdan, Lucas & Spielberg) and how “Raiders of the Lost Ark” was birthed. It is a great read, which can be found here:

I post the Mystery Man’s blog because I think that you just might find something that you read there helpful for YOUR Script Frenzy ( There are some nice little resources out on the net and this blog is a gold mine for anyone who wants to learn the craft of writing for the movies.

April is just 4 days away. 30 Days, 100 Pages, Are YOU in? I am and I wouldn’t mind some company.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cast Off the Yoke of Oppression

In days of yore there was no such animal as the internet and its myriad of online applications; nor were there cell phones, digital recordings, or GPS units. It was the seventies and the eighties and it was just around the time that yours truly was growing up. Over the past 30 – 40 years some pretty amazing things have taken place in the realm of electronic wizardry. Technology has shrunk the world. Paul Simon once sang, “These are the days of miracle and wonder. This is the long distance call. The way the camera follows us in slow-mo. The way we look to the stars. The way we look to a distant constellation that is dying in the corner of the sky. These are the days of miracle and wonder and don’t cry, baby, don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry…”

Ah Graceland – great album. Please forgive the musical interlude, Gentle Reader. I got carried away. Still I think you get the idea. It’s not as easy as it once was to find people who want to return to the “good old days”. They all have their own websites and Twitter feeds now. A common theme that surrounds times of technological growth is will our technology outpace our humanity. I would argue that our humanity benefits from the inclusion of new technologies and, in fact, creates dynamic and new forms of socialization and communication between, well, humans. The popularity of Facebook, MySpace, Geocaching, Twitter, X-box Live, and the other worlds of the Massive Multiplayer Online Gaming (MMOGs) sites are shining examples of how technology and human interaction are no longer mutually exclusive. So much for dehumanization; right here, right now in the latter years of the first decade of the twenty first century – change is good. Change is our friend. If we make friends with change we won’t stagnate in a pit of nostalgia and depression at how good things were so long ago. The world has moved on. We must move with it.

“Why are you telling us all this stuff?”

I’m telling you this, Gentle Reader, because while I love the new and emerging technologies and all the wonders they can bestow, I detest being nickeled and dimed for functions on an electronic device that is theoretically owned by me.


Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m talking about Verizon Wireless. I have a state of the art (5 years ago) free cell phone from Verizon; it’s a Motorola RAZR V3. Motorola, with the RAZR made one of the most popular cell phones ever. The product itself is capable of taking pictures & digital video, playing MP3s, internet browsing, and you can even make phone calls with it. Yeah, that sounds like a pretty neat gadget; unless, that is, your little 5 year-old electronic marvel of a cell phone happens to be using Verizon Wireless as its carrier. You see when you take a picture with your phone Verizon will charge you for you to send it to your own email address. It’s the same thing with videos. Do not think for a moment that you can remove the SD ram chip and insert it into a card reader to download your 300 plus pictures – oh no, Verizon has assigned a Electronic Serial Number (see: to block the use of free applications. Please allow me repeat that in all caps; “BLOCK THE USE OF FREE APPLICATION!

Ladies and Gentlemen, exhibit A: Please direct your attention to the Verizon Wireless version of the phone; and I quote from Wikipedia my favorite second brain, “Verizon Wireless disabled certain features on the V3m including the ability to transfer data files to and from the phone via Bluetooth (a specific protocol called OBEX). Verizon has also blocked the transfer of most data over USB, such as ringtones. These phones also run Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless (BREW), which signs each application to the phones Electronic Serial Number, or ESN, thus preventing the use of free applications. The equivalent models offered by competitors (such as the V3t by T-Mobile) still retain these features.

Verizon also installs their own user interface instead of the default Motorola interface that they used to use in the past. This has led to many Verizon Wireless users to resort to using their own artificial means of reverting their phones back to an original Motorola condition, or to that of a Verizon phone that has some of the disabled features enabled. A newer Verizon version of the phone has been upgraded and features limitless video capture, easier laid out menu system and the ability to customize the external screen. The phone is still unable to sync to a computer via USB cable for anything other than charging, unless a software such as Bitpim is used to access files.

All of those things that you thought your cell phone could do – it can but only with other providers; now on Verizon? Not so much. You have to pay them for the basic functions that come natural with the basic programming of your phone. What a deal. Do not even get me started about the Verizon web browser.

Perhaps in the distant future there will just be a monthly Data Fee that would be set / adjusted on the amount of bandwidth you use. You no longer would have a cable bill, cell phone bill or internet bill. The Data Fee would encompass them all. A world without double, triple, quadruple dipping – a world where the market decides what products and services the populous uses. This Data Fee would cover your phone and digital television too – hey it won’t be that long before you will have an HD projector on your wrist anyway and when that day comes how many bills do you really want to pay? Charge for bandwidth used; that will be the future.

What about the now? To be fair Verizon has a lot of towers in the South Jersey area. That translates to clear signal strength. These are the “days of miracle and wonder” and I am truly excited about what the near future just may hold for the micro personal computer and mobile electronic and information community. While the short-term financial gains that come from replacing a user interface may be appealing to companies such as Verizon Wireless the long-term prognosis is pretty weak. Case in point, I have four cell phones through Verizon Wireless, 700 minutes a month, and on two of those phones I pay extra so that two of those phones can Text without being charged per each Text message. We do not use the Verizon web browser since the interface is clunky, it is entirely too expensive to do so, and, quite frankly, we prefer the real thing to Verizon’s alternate universe version of the internet. As each one of our cell phones reaches the end of its contract I will take said number and I will leave. Four, Three, Two, One, Zero. I will cast off the yoke of oppression one cell phone at a time.

Can you hear me now?

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Poet and Didn’t Know It

GACK! That’s a horrible title for a blog. More importantly – yesterday was a blast!

“Why’s that?”

I’ll tell you all about it – you see, Gentle Reader I had the pleasure of meeting, listening to, and performing with a large community (I’d say of about 24 souls) of poets / musicians / artists right here (in the South Jersey area) at Bogart’s Books and Coffee ( The talent there just blew my socks off. Which is exactly what I told them when it was my turn to perform “Script Frenzy – The Poem”. Now I have never participated in a “poetry slam” before so it was uncharted waters for yours truly. It went well, very well; in fact it was a blast. That community of artists that I mentioned at the beginning is also, apparently, quite forgiving. I am truly looking forward to next months gathering. Ms. Rita Lyman is the master of ceremonies and what a wonderful job she does. The group meets every third Sunday so if you are at Third Friday celebration know that Sunday afternoon is going to be cool too.

That’s not all. The poetry group formed a few years ago to support a 30-day poetry-writing event; POEWAR (I think); and they have been meeting ever since. Ms. Lyman as I was stepping down from the microphone mentioned that some of the group also participates in something called, “NANOWRIMO”. She pronounced it “Na No REE Mo” – I’ve always said, “Na No RYE Mo”. At the end of the day we’re both right; Potatoes – Potatoes. Still hearing it made me smile.

“No Way!” I said, “This (meaning Script Frenzy) is from the same people!” We were no longer poets or playwrights at that moment – we were writers. There are more of us here than I was aware of and that makes this particular purveyor of chicken scratch quite happy. I do believe some writers will be joining the Frenzy. So thank you to Bogart’s and thanks to Ms. Lyman.

I can’t wait for next time.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Battlestar Galactica – Provisos and Predictions

Battlestar Galactica ends its run tonight with a two-hour series finale. I will miss it horribly.


Because it is the best show on TV and I know that writing, producing and performances the likes found on Battlestar Galactica are few and far between. It is not every series that can actually be granted the time to tell a complete story arc before being cancelled. It is not every series with such a epic and sweeping story to tell. If you have not seen it or if your only expectations are gathered from the TV show of the seventies then I am a bit envious. If you are about to start putting the DVDs into your cue to watch from the beginning then you are about to discover something wonderful. A drama of life and death, or war and genocide, and of despair and hope; and, I might add, you will get to do so commercial free.

Now BSG is not for everyone. It is a high intensity drama and if that’s not your thing then that’s not your thing. But hey, that’s ok; that’s why there are so many different flavors of ice cream. Some will hear the words, “science fiction” and run for the hills in the opposite direction. That’s too bad really because if you can look beyond the genre of where the story takes place then you are in for a treat. If you can’t get beyond that then you should probably move onto another blog – everyone will be happier that way.

Still here? Good! I am pleased that you are Gentle Reader but I must warn you I am about to make some spoiler-laden predictions so if you wish to remain unsoiled until you have a chance to catch up and see the series for yourself then you should probably stop right here. See you next time!

STILL HERE? Wonderful. Now then… let’s get down to the business of predictions. Scroll down and you’ll have ‘em.

1. Dr. Gaius Baltar is going to sacrifice his life to save humanity.

2. Starbuck is Daniel; or rather Danielle after Cavil was through experimenting with him/her a few generations back. [NOTE: a friend of mine has a great theory that I have to mention. His idea is that Starbuck is the first human/Cylon hybrid – you know, like Hera? We will see how it plays out tonight.]

3. Anders is going to “JUMP!” the Battlestar Galactica into Cavil’s Cylon station just outside that singularity. Insert CATACLYSMIC BOOM here.

4. Cavil is going to be stranded for all eternity inside that black hole – completely isolated, completely aware. Trapped for all time. [NOTE: this is my friend’s idea. I liked it so much that I’m borrowing it.]

5. The resurrection machines will be able to start the terraforming process on the planet earth and Roslin will be regenerated in the process.

THERE. That’s it. I’m spent. Here’s a link to the Sci Fi Channel’s BSG series end special:

This re-imagining has been one for the ages. Thanks Mr. Moore.


Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Stage VS Screen

I saw a snotty tee shirt once that read, “Film is Art, Theater is Life and TV is Furniture”. In my humble opinion, wearing something like that puts you at the head of the class when it comes to snobbery. Do not pass go – collect your more cultured than thou existence and go straight to… jail.

“Why don’t you like that? It’s witty enough and I’ve read this blog before – you have your own set of snobbish ways too, Evil Chicken!”

Guilty as charged and why that very well may be the case, Gentle Reader, please allow me to say right off the bat I find that tee shirt exclusive, a little myopic and heavily weighted down by a boatload of pride. “Why?” It’s because story is the key. I don’t care what venue it takes. Serve the story. However it manifests itself.

That being said please allow me to share a dilemma with you; I don’t know what format I’m going to write yet for this April’s Script Frenzy – screenplay or play. Now, let me just say, I am comfortable with the screenplay format. Not that I’m a whiz by any stretch of the imagination; no. I just have a working familiarity with that process. I’ve written them before or had a hand in writing them. Now I’ve written puppet plays but I’ve always used the screenplay as my canvas (man, that sounds pompous – I’m sorry). To date I have never written a PLAY in standard format. April’s Script Frenzy may be my chance to change all that.

What to do… what to do?

This may not sound like a big deal but it could spell the difference between victory (100 pages by the end of April) and defeat. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I’ve got to do some research; dust off my old Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller books/plays. It’s always good to look before you leap. Hey, if worse comes to worse I’ve got my tried and true Screenplay formatting to fall back on… right?

Oh well. I’ll decide sooner or later. One thing that I could stand in April is some company. I hear that “Misery” loves it! No pressure or anything but April is Script Frenzy ( and NOW may be YOUR time to shine.

Think about it.

Monday, March 02, 2009

The Progressive Coffee House

I was in Glassboro recently and stumbled across the Progressive Coffee House. They are located on 208 West High Street (856-243-2466) and they are worth your time. I just grabbed a large regular ($1.98 not bad for a coffee shop these days) and listened to the music, which, at the time, happened to be an old Robert Plant song.

“How about that, coffee AND Robert Plant too?” I said with a smile to the gentleman behind the counter. I was stirring in my traditional 3 Splendas and cream at the time.

“Did you see the picture?” he asked. He was excited and a genuine smile spread across his face.


He pointed to a wall next to the counter. I peeked around the corner and, low and behold, there was a photograph of the gentleman behind the counter with Robert Plant. They were standing next to each other and grinning from ear to ear.

“No kiddin'.” I said.

“Nope.” He said and he proceeded to tell me the story of how Robert Plant was walking down South Street in Philly and, by an interesting set of circumstances, happened to end up in his coffee shop – that is when he had a coffee shop on South Street.

I will let you ask him about the details, it is his story and he tells it much better than I can. My job is to arrange the introduction. Therefore, let my just say that the Progressive Coffee House is most certainly worth your time and that I can’t wait to go back in the near future. He mentioned to me that he has some old Genesis concert footage that he is going to dig up for the next time I’m come in. I, for one, can’t wait. They can be found here: Ed and Jen Andricola’s shop is worth your time. Their motto is, “Brewing Happiness One Cup at a Time”.

I was happy. I think they’ll make you happy too.