Thursday, October 28, 2004

Winter in L.A.

I drive back to NYC on Monday. I miss it so.

Today I did background work on Boston Legal. I've never done background work before, but it's pretty clear that you're the lowest of the low, on set. We had to wait for the Mexican day laborers to eat before we could scavenge the cold cuts. Actually, I'm kidding. Everyone was very nice, and I had cream of tomato soup, a hardboiled egg and a Dr. Pepper. Craft Services was wide open to us. What kind of doctor was Dr. Pepper, to make a beverage so tasty but so very bad for your teeth? At least it's not called Dentist Pepper. That would be misleading. Was real pepper ever an ingredient of Dr. Pepper? Sort of like cocaine was to Coca-Cola?

I'm very excited about the resurgence of William Shatner, but sadly he was nowhere to be seen. Instead we got a full helping of James Spader and Henry Gibson (of Laugh-In and Magnolia fame). Watching Spader work, my thoughts would often drift to Holly Hunter tearing open her shirt and masturbating after she and Spader knocked bumpers in Crash.

There was also a gentlemen playing a slum lord who I was convinced was the black guy from Full Metal Jacket... you know, "too boku." I had an opportunity to ask him on the way to the studio cafe, but felt weird asking him if he was that guy with the big cock who the Vietnamese hooker was afraid of. After some subsequent IMDB research, I'm convinced that is actually wasn't him.

If anyone catches the episode with Henry Gibson playing a judge with a penchant for humiliating, extra-judicial sentences, I'm all up in those court scenes. I had to wear sweaters and hold a winter coat in my lap, since it was supposed to be winter in Boston.

I miss my Xbox. But I love L.A.!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Nerdcake is chilling. Also, endorsing John Kerry.

I find myself oddly at ease with the upcoming election. I think it's just laziness - maybe just malaise with a dash of fatigue - but I'm totally not getting more nervous about the outcome as the date approaches. It could be the little kid in me that's thinking more about my birthday which falls two days after the election. If I need to consider it in those terms than perhaps I should acknowledge how somber my birthday might be with an election that swings the wrong way. I've heard tale of parties happening for electoral college countdowns - bearing mass witness to the crowning of the new president. I like that idea. It's like the oscars plus the world series plus the direction of the free world and it's televised.

Oh wait, I am nervous about it. Vote Kerry!

Speaking of televised, I wish I had cable so I could watch the daily show. These Jon Stewart appearances on Crossfire and 60 Minutes are not just very funny. They're articulate. Good for him. I normally just gnash my teeth and fold my arms in a huff when watching stuff like Crossfire. Good to know there are thinkers out there with a theory on why shows like that suck the integrity out of television. Did television ever have integrity? I'm making stuff up.

I hear Seth is coming back to NYC soon. Looking forward to some Halo2 upon return.

Meanwhile, I'm going to go get a haircut.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Thoughts on Work - Part 2

Working with many members of the opposite sex, I am often confused by how to greet them outside of work. The kiss on the cheek or the hug seems natural - as is often the norm when greeting a woman in a social situation. But since we interact with each other all day at work in a professional sense - even with a warm greeting or hearty nod - I am often awkwardly slow to peck the cheek of a co-worker at a birthday party, Christmas party, or work-party of any sort.

What if you were always supposed to greet a woman with a kiss on the cheek, even let's say, your female boss? And what if this held true for the workday? You'd come into work, kiss your boss on the cheek and then have her critique your spot. Would an affectionate greeting compromise your working relationship? What if it became an imperative to kiss all your co-workers? Is that how it's done in France? Does everyone kiss everyone - bosses and the like? The other day, at a baby shower for a co-worker - WHICH TOOK PLACE IN THE OFFICE - everyone kissed the co-worker on the cheek as they left. I did too. And it was nice. But it felt strange, like I didn't know I should do it until I saw other people doing it.

In truth, this thought doesn't plague me. Instincts are usually enough to judge the proper action and/or reaction depending on the context (in a bar, in the office, etc.) But the logic sometimes escapes me. I enjoy kissing my co-workers on the cheek - but do they ever note that our interaction in and out of the office is different. Is it just accepted that your philosophy is modified depending on the situation? Am I overthinking it? What's the deal?

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Thoughts on Work - Part 1

What concerns me about work is that people think that since we're co-workers they can talk to me while I'm sitting on the toilet. I mean, not to be graphic, but it takes a level of chutzpah I don't possess to yell a greeting, make a funny joke or ask a question to someone heading into a stall.

"Hey Cas, you in there?"
"Uh. Yeah."
"How are we doing on that script?"
"Uh. Pretty good."
"Well, when you're done in here, come over to my desk and we can rap about it."

"Uh. Yeah."
"Catch the game last night?"
"No. Uh."

And if there's some noise or odor emitted from said stall, it takes a real gentleman to yell something like:

"Nice one!"
"Boo yeah!"
"Yikes, is that you?"
"Free lunch, huh?"
"Settle down in there!"
"Taking a shit, huh, bro?"

I think what it comes down to is, I don't like talking to people when I'm in the bathroom AT ALL. In an office where cubicles ensure I'll never have one second of privacy, can't I achieve some measure of peace when faced with the consequences of eating chili for lunch?

Monday, October 11, 2004

Acceptance Speech

This is one of those warm glow days. We won the 24 hour film contest. Graham Avenue Films won the 24 hour film contest run by NYC Midnight. I can't believe it. An amazing film made at a dizzying pace. When they announced us as the winner, I was completely nervous and unprepared to deliver an acceptance speech and I would like to take a moment here to just name everyone who made two great films together.

The casts:

Hannah Bos - Agent Mandy/Leslie
Will Carlough - GoldenShower_Hotrod_76/Michael
Benjamin ELLIS Fine - Reporter/Tom
Celeste Balducci - Mom/Barbara
Seth Berkowitz - Agent Mark
Jennifer Johnson - The Minor
Paul Thureen - Voice of God/Partygoer
Matt Elkind - Voice of Base

The crew:

Will Carlough - Writer 'Welcome Back'/Producer of both
Matt Elkind - DP 'False Alarm'/Producer of both
Ian Savage - DP 'Welcome Back'
Pete Fonda - Sound/High-speed Driver
Jennifer Johnson - Gaffer 'False Alarm'
Diana Little - Grip 'Welcome Back'
Will Carlough - Musical Scores
Sydney Maresca - Costume Design/Props
Kayla Graffam - Edit Supervisor 'Welcome Back'

You're all AWESOME. More specifically, you're SUPER AWESOME. Really specifically, you all AN AWESOME movie make. Please let us work together much, much more. Here's to getting better at future acceptance speeches.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Up for 40 Hours

Just finished a 24 hour movie contest last night at midnight, handing in the tape at 11:50, ten minutes before the hard deadline. A more surreal film, we may never have made. It's called Welcome Back and it'll be up at soon enough. My brain is throbbing and my house smells like White Castle. There's fake blood droplets splattered around my kitchen floor and when I look at clocks, I start to feel confused. I'm dying to know what the other filmmakers made - what film conventions they eschewed for time conservancy. My music edits are chunky and the sound mix is limited. But amidst all this chaos, it is clear the squad who made this film is more than sound - heroic efforts all around resulting in clear illustration of their cool heads and abundant skill. The screening starts at 330pm today.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Douchebag of Liberty

Why does Robert Novak's debate blog sort of peter out at the end, without so much as a post-debate wrap up? Was he discouraged by Bush's showing? Or was he hauled away for treason before he could finish? As Drudge would say, developing...

Friday, October 08, 2004

The Power of Positive Blogging

Hello, everyone. I'm in L.A. now. Everyone here is so freaking nice. Inexpensive, nutritious food is abundant at the myriad Trader Joe's locations. One way streets are a rarity, so if you miss your destination, it's really easy to circle the block and catch it again. You can wake up at 10 AM and sometimes baseball is already on.

Oh, and while driving out here, I SAW A FUCKING TORNADO. I visited the Grand Canyon as well, and had a lovely birthday dinner in Santa Fe, but more importantly I SAW A FUCKING TORNADO. Pictures are currently being developed.

It's interesting. I came out here with no Xbox in tow, and have been writing ten hours a day. The streets are clean, and the roof of our sublet is open for human usage. I can take a beer up there and work on outlines, with palm trees, the Hollywood hills, and smog picturesquely surrounding me. John Kerry is surging. Watching him debate Monkeyman is an absolute pleasure. The Red Sox (my surrogate rooting interest once the Mets fall out of contention) look invincible. I feel like the world is a place where good can truly prevail and hard work is rewarded.

Why don't I just move here?

Wednesday, October 06, 2004


Go Yankees!

Well, go some Yankees... at least. Yeah! Hmmm.

All right, I'll just root for the Yankees who remain from the '96 World Series winning team.
Bernie. Jeter. Posada (was he around then? it might just have been Girardi) Mariano.

But the Twins are so likable.
And I feel bad for the Red Sox.
And the Mets were just so much hungrier this year (though their late season collapse was tough to enjoy)

Plus, the Yankees just spent SO MUCH money this year - a staggering amount.

Yet, wait, it could also be argued Steinbrenner wanted to win that much more - that he would spare no expense to field a team of all-stars.

But with no young stars coming up from the minors, how can you root for a team of freelancing or victory-buying veterans?

Yet Matsui is an interesting player, enacting a charming stoicism that gives way to glee when pressed by his admiring teammates. I've got to give them Matsui. Okay, if I can name 9 players on the Yankees I like, then I'm a Yankees fan.
Let's see:

Jeter, Bernie, Mariano, Posada, Matsui.
Ruben Sierra! In a long line of sensible trades and pick-ups, Sierra gets points for clutch hitting and twilight of his career redemption. He was one of the only players to come through in the World Series last year. Good for him.
Which reminds me: John Olerud. Johnny Hardhat. Takes the train to the stadium (at least he did with The Mets) and wears his helmet in the field because his mom wants him to. Done. Seven.
Right. Right. It's obvous. El Duque. He throws the Eeephus. He fought sharks on his way to America. He returns to the Yankees and basically escorts them to the Pennant after being written off by the Expos of all teams. The wind-up. He's extremely easy to root for. Eight.
Nine... Nine... Well, I'd like to say Mussina. But I can't. I feel for him - for his one out from perfection near-perfect game that clearly continues to rattle him, for his honest evaluations of his depression after poor outings. But on a loyalty level, it's hard for me to well up any of the excitement I'd happily extend to a David Wells or David Cone. It's close. But no! Sorry, Moose.
So the ninth player... Maybe it's not a player. Is that allowed? I forget my rules. But if that's okay, I've got a 9th Yankee I like, and can even make it to 12 - just from the coaching staff.
Joe Torre.
Willie Randolph.
Luis Sojo.
Don Mattingly. Donnie Baseball. Favorite player ever. I honestly wish, when Giambi went down with his benign tumor that Donnie Baseball could have stepped in at first base. If he was in the field - I'd have a whole-hearted appreciation for their October Hunt. In fact, just thinking about good ole' Donnie Baseball on the bench for the first time puts me in a Yankees mood.
Whoop those likeable Twins.
Tweak those cursed Red Sox.
Get Donnie B his ring.
Go Yankees!

Monday, October 04, 2004

Odds and Ends and Odds

First off, driving across country is something I'd like to do again. Did you enjoy it all in all, Seth? I did it right after graduation with Jonas for really no truly good reason. I wanted some event to mark my passing out of academic institutions and hoped that some town or city or open road would would be the positive omen I needed. I swam in the Colorado river, saw a movie in St. Louis, played basketball in Cleveland and ate some serious burritos in San Francisco. I took a train from LA back east, stopping in Arizona for chapped lips and a confused equilibrium and water misters that keep restaurant patrons cool outside in the dry heat. I did all that and wound up confirming what I suspected all along - New York City was the place for me. This wasn't because I thought the rest of the country had little to offer. Instead, it became apparent that while I was exploring the countryside and its white sands and twisty mountain highways and Arbys, that the city I'd left presented the most immediate and important new lands for me to discover. Though I'd grown up in NYC, I really hadn't ever discovered it - specifically: The outer boroughs. So my cross-country trip - while a blast as originally stated - had the melancholy hue of inevitable conclusion.

I'm getting ready for the 24 hour film competition we're participating in this weekend - part of the NYC Midnight Movie Making Madness competition that happens annually. We won the first round - at least in our heat - where we had to make a movie in 2 weeks. It came out pretty durn good if you ask me. Officially, it's a romantic comedy about internet dating. Between you and me, it's a little... indelicate.

You should check it out here:

With regards to the 24 hour competition, Will and I have been trying to give ourselves writing exercises every week leading up to it. Last week, I wrote a script about a man and a woman meeting at a wedding and going back to his apartment to hook up. I thought that was a pretty good idea at first but then I made it dirty. This week, I wrote a script about a hot dog eating contest that goes awry and I thought I had a pretty good idea at first but then I made it gross. I think we have one more opportunity before the contest to hone our skillz but I'm not sure how much practice helps. It has become clear that it is not our writing which we are sharpening. It is our temptation to be shocking that we are feeding in hopes of sating it before the real thing, Friday night.

I think there should be debates weekly. It was truly the most spinless view of the candidates thus far - under pressure and no commercials. When I sat down to watch, I was palpably nervous. When Kerry took a few moments to thank Jim Lehrer and Florida and GWB, I was screaming, "There's no time, dude! Get to the fucking point!" Little did I know, JFK had it all under control.

"You forgot Poland!"

I mean I'm glad GWB shouted out my crew but that was laugh-out-loud funny.