Thursday, January 29, 2015

Why Would Anyone Want To "Set Fire to the Rain"?

OK, fine... I realize that taking a relatively-low-resolution photo of a triple-waterspout and posting it larger than the native resolution means it will be all pixelly and lose much of the impact... I get it, ok? Still, sometimes, you find an awesome triple waterspout photo and you want to share it in your blog and you don't want to post it small... I mean, I'm sure all of you have run into similar situations in your own blogs, right? So you understand the dilemma I find myself wrestling with? Do I post it small, or big + low res?

Ah, first world blogging problems...

Anyways... cool picture.

So, yeah, it's been two looooong weeks since last I hopped in here to pepper you with vacuous nonsense... that's, honestly, too long to make you wait. For that, I apologize, with a certain socially-acceptable level of profuseness, which I hope shall suffice. If not, let me know, and I'll drop a $5 check or money order in the mail to you... hey, it's enough for a venti iced caramel macchiato, right? Barely...

Where was I?

Oh, yeah. A drone flies over Auschwitz, and here's what happens...

OMG... that makes me cry... so haunting. Wow. Transports me to another place. So much pain. How on earth could people be ok with orchestrating so much pain? What is wrong with us? I understand it in theory... in the actual reality of the situation... man...

Where does a person have to go inside in order to justify such unfathomable cruelty?

I could get lost in that era. It's a danger for me, personally. Would I want to go to Auschwitz and walk around for the day? Yes. Would it be good for me? I don't know. It is overwhelming. Is it good to risk permanent scarring? Is it better to force myself to turn away, to not look at it, or contemplate it, for my own sanity's sake? Face a harsh reality, or avoid it? What... is... better?

OK, that's a rabbit hole I don't think I should dive down at the moment. It's dark.

Time to risk being labeled superficial/shallow, and lighten the mood!

Let's see? What do I have that's vapid and safe?

Here, let's start with this...

Yep... sleep late, get up, marathon a show online, stay up late, go to bed again... ah, a great day! For me, lately, it was season 6 of Justified. Look, why don't more folks love the show Justified? Why the heck not!? It's the best show on TV! Dadgummit, go watch it, right now! If you are an Amazon Prime member, stop reading this stupid blog, and go watch some Justified. Trust me, you'll love it. You'll understand why I have a man-crush on Timothy Olyphant. He is The Man.

I've been trying to get into other shows... Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, House of Cards, Agents of Shield... all are shows that are loved by many people I know and respect... nothing has clicked with me yet. Maybe I'm just impossible to please or something... if that's true, then that should be another strong bump for Justified. I love that show...

Hey, I had my friend Carey build me a new computer this past week. Yep, good ol' "Crown Stealer" (my old computer) has been retired. I'm writing this blog post from my brand spanking new screaming machine, affectionately called "Computurd"... Hey, I couldn't think of anything more creative at the time.

My friend Vye built Crown Stealer in January of 2009. It had a good run. The only thing I can recall upgrading in all that time was the video card (I might have had to replace the power supply, I don't quite recall...). Anyways, all due respect to Vye and his rig-building prowess, my new rig is amazing.

Nuff said. Now I can play games using the Unreal 4 engine...

Man... combine that with Oculus Rift, and disappear from reality altogether... on the one hand, cool! On the other hand... yeah, kinda scary...

What else?

I don't really have anything awesome to share.

In my acting class up in Hollywood, for the past couple of weeks, I've been working on a scene from the classic film All About Eve, with one of the talented actresses in the class. It has been quite a ride, developmentally-speaking. I'm hesitating, as far as how deep I should go in explaining the nuances and intricacies of the work in class... I mean, unless you're heavy into acting yourself, it likely won't mean much to you...

I can liken it to working out with my personal trainer. My personal trainer, Vince, is awesome. He pushes me during my workouts, in ways I never would push myself if I were working out on my own. When my half-hour is up, I lay there, trying to catch my breath, panting, sweating like a pig, staring at the ceiling in the studio space, at once feeling completely drained and completely awesome. I love that feeling when I'm done, you know? I've been pushed to the limits, stretched, tested... and I made it. The same is true in my acting class... I go into the class feeling ready... I dive in... and get pushed, tested, stretched, wrung out... when I'm done with my time in front of the class, I am equally drained and spent. It's a great feeling, to be done. But at the time, I repeatedly question whether I will survive the process, lol...

It's been wild... I spent years at my church, being the big fish in a small pond... being in charge of the drama ministry, feeling like I was really good. Then I started taking acting classes in San Diego, and realized I was still a little fish after all... I spent 18 months in the San Diego class, learning the craft of TV/Film acting, and eventually got back to the point where I felt I was the big fish again... then I went up to Hollywood to Rob's class... and immediately realized that, again, I knew nothing.... I became the little fish again. Tiny, really... but I'm getting my feet under me again... it's a cool process, really... repeatedly becoming the little fish... it's humbling, sure... but it's also liberating... I want to be really good at this acting thing... I appreciate the patience of someone like Rob Adler, who can take actors wherever they are at, and move them forward...

Here's my man, Noah, with another awesome cover... this time it's When I Was Your Man, by Bruno Mars...

Gahhh! Flash craving! I want a burger from Slater's 50/50! Good thing it's midnight... they're closed. Otherwise, I might have run out to get it. Instead, I shall finish this post, then go the heck to bed. How sad. No amazing burger for me.

Sometimes... I'm driving in my car (oddly enough) and I get really tense and wired inside, and I just want to scream at the top of my lungs... I get all shaky and vibraty and I want to punch something, break something... I wonder what that is? I get all ragey, not at anything in particular, just in general. I want to explode. Do you ever feel that way, relatively-randomly? If so, how do you deal with it? It's one of those moments where I can disconnect a part of myself and observe myself, and analyze it as it's happening... I ask myself, "what the heck is going on here?" as I'm also trembling with an unfocused anger... I usually end up putting my radio onto a station with rock music cranked really loudly, and sing along with it for a few songs. That seems to help.

Honestly, I have no idea what I'm going to write here before I actually type it. This is free-association blogging at it's best/worst... I'm simply typing as things hit me, without giving it any time for coherent thought. Why on earth you're reading this, I'll never know. I'll go back and re-read this after I hit the "publish" button and be just as surprised as you are at reading this... write and release, that seems to be my M.O. ...

I've decided that when I grow up, I want to be an adult...

I keep putting off reading Words of Radiance, by the amazing Brandon Sanderson. The reason? It is Book 2 in a series (The Stormlight Archive)... I really need to re-read volume 1 before starting it... but volume one is 1,000 pages... I know that will take me a while... do I skip the re-read of Volume 1 and just dive into volume 2 (also 1,000 pages)? Or do I commit the next two months to reading both?

Instead, I try other books. I recently read Night Watch, by Sergei Lukyanenko. It was good. And I lately started reading Control Point by Myke Cole. Never trust a man who spells Mike with a Y, that's what I say...

My TBR pile is gargantuan...

Why are you still reading this? Are you intent on humoring me? Don't you know that if you wade through all this random vacuous nonsense then I'm apt to think it's a good thing, and unload more upon you at regular intervals? Why would you reward me like that? Punish me, dangit! Otherwise I'll keep doing this!

Yes... Wolverine carrying groceries... that's what I've been reduced to. And, frankly, you are partially to blame.

I'm going to end this. Gee, I bet you're heartbroken, eh?

Leave a comment! Or not! Either way, it's all good! I love you either way!

Adios for now,

Dave the Twerp

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Little Smackerel of Something...

LOVE that photo. The photographer is Andy Lee, and he travels the world, taking amazing photos of remote roads, such as this one. Here is an article with a gallery of additional shots, well worth your viewing time. And here is his website, with still more goodies.

There, hopefully that covers my butt, as far as the legal angle.

Hello everyone! Lots of random nonsense to prattle on about tonight.

First, the initial trailer for our webseries is available online! Yay! I'm sure most of you have seen it by now (since I'm Facebook Friends with most of you wonderful folks that frequent this blog), but for those that haven't -- or those that would like to watch it again -- here you go!

BTi Trailer 1 from ETCHED MOTION PRO on Vimeo.

That's pretty awesome, eh? I like it. One more BIG weekend of shooting, and the bulk of it will be in the can. Maybe a few pickup shots between now and the premiere, but that will only really become evident once the final editing is being done. The premiere was set for Feb 7, but I believe it will be moving to Feb 21 now, due to, shall we say, certain unforeseen health issues involving someone rather important to the project (not sure how comfortable he/she would be with me discussing it in this forum, so I shall be vague).

Here's one of the posters...

Yes, it's supposed to be sort-of whited out like that.

Anyways, so exciting. We've been plugging away at this for well beyond a year now. To see the pilot coming this close to "ready for primetime" is awesome. The plan is for this initial chunk of the story to be played in its entirety at the premiere, run time of approximately an hour, and then it will be divided up into several smaller episodes and released online. After the premiere, we will begin work on the next hour-long chunk of the story. Odds are, when it's all said and done, there will be three hours of footage, likely divided up into 15-minute episodes (12 total) available for viewing online. The plan is to have all 12 episodes done by the time Comicon rolls around in July.

I'll be wearing my Script-writer hat a lot in the next few months.

OK, what next?

Well, as I write this, it's the evening of January 14th. That means tomorrow is St. Bryan's Day -- aka the anniversary of the day my younger brother Bryan died. 15 years. He would be 41 years old right now! Man, I can't even imagine it! He's forever 26 in my mind's eye, I can't picture him 41... As usual, I toyed with the idea of doing a huge retrospective of his life and passing here in the blog, and as usual, I've dismissed it. It would be very difficult to relive. Maybe one of these years, I'll trot out all the details and do an honest, no-punches-pulled retelling.

In any case, Happy St. Bryan's Day to you all! He was a good egg, and I look forward to seeing him again. I still routinely wonder what he's doing right now...

So I finished reading my first book of the year, called "City of Stairs," by Robert Jackson Bennett. For the most part, I loved it. I'm going to cheat, and copy/paste my thoughts from my GoodReads review of the book... but I'll elaborate a bit more for you, as an extra-special treat, just for you! Think of it!!!1!
Dangit, this book was great up to the climax. What a fizzle!
Overall, the book started a little slow, but quickly built into an outstanding read. Then it stepped up to the plate for the climax... and whiffed. A bad guy suddenly appears, monologues to explain everything, makes his big final play, and it is easily thwarted... move swiftly into the denouement, and DONE! Wait... what? 
I'm still a little stunned, honestly. I was fully prepared to write this review, strongly encouraging everyone to drop everything and read this book. The wind has drained from my sails. I haven't been this puzzled by a turnaround like this since The Red Wolf Conspiracy (RVS Reddick), which followed a similar pattern.  
Well, if you'd like to read 4/5 of an outstanding book, with great characters, terrific action, top-notch world-building and a sweet magic system, then read City of Stairs! Who knows? Perhaps you'll be ok with the literary fart that is the ending... Not sure if there are additional titles planned or if it's a stand-alone... it certainly works well as a stand-alone title. 
SUMMARY: 4/5 stars. Has many great elements. I really do recommend it. If you see it on sale, snap it up and give it a go.

OK, you know the routine. Start this video, then click the gear wheel, set the resolution to 1080, full screen... and then marvel at the visuals...

Man, the things they can do with drones nowadays is amazing. Hopefully, we'll be able to get our planned drone shots for the BTI pilot... if not, it will be used in subsequent episodes, I'm sure. Our A.D. Mike has a high-end UAV to get amazing arial shots like that. Can't wait!

So I saw a movie recently, called Snowpiercer. It's a post-apocalyptic sci-fi (sort of?) tale that garnered near-universal accolades and praise (that I saw, anyway)... enough so that I made a point to see it when it became available to stream online. I went into this film fully intending to enjoy it -- especially since several reviewers I respected loved it and said it was that rare film that didn't insult the viewer's intelligence, and was rich and smart and deep.

Wow. Was I grossly under-whelmed. Rather than inundate you with a metric ton of reasons why this movie disapointed, annoyed, confused, and occasionally angered me, I'll simply cut to the chase and say that I thought this erstwhile "masterpiece" (as some reverently refer to it as) was a silly, illogical, over-wrought, self-impressed turd. I'm truly amazed that so many people loved this thing... and it leads me strongly to believe that I'm missing the point of the film in a big way, somehow. I'm second-guessing my gut reaction, which I really shouldn't need to do. How can so many people be so wrong? They can't. Right?

But it's not without precedent. I feel the same level of annoyance and disappointment, etc with other seemingly universally-loved films, such as Gran Torino, Stand By Me, Hamlet (Brannagh's version), and, more recently, the Hobbit films. In every case, I went into the film expecting to love it, and was grossly disappointed, almost viscerally so. I really don't think having high expectations for a film is the culprit... I've been rewarded many times as well. I do think that the disappointment was made extra virulent because of the expectations, though... I've seen bad movies before and just let them evaporate from my brainpan without issue, numerous times. But the ones that were bad when they were supposed to be awesome... those I remember.

Boiling it down, I suppose it's a pride thing. It makes me feel stupid, I guess, and I react against that, as much as anything. "I'm supposed to love this movie. I was led to believe it would be amazing/rewarding/etc. and it is the very opposite. It angers me, since I must be missing something. I must be watching it wrong! It must be a sign that my brain isn't working right! That I'm dumb or somethin! This movie is calling me an idiot! I'm not an idiot!"

That's a gross simplification, of course, but I'm trying to put into words something I've never put my finger on before.

Anyways, Snowpiercer had so many problems, I wouldn't even know where to start, but the one I want to mention is, perhaps, the most retarded monologue ever seriously attempted in a major motion picture before. For those that have seen the film, it is near the end, when Chris Evans tells the cannibal story... I was dumbfounded. So much so, I immediately told myself I would transcribe the monologue and learn it, and try to perform it myself, See if I can make it work. A monumental challenge. I want to take it into my acting class up in Hollywood and try to make it work.

Wow, I rambled a lot about it. Having been somewhat intimately involved in a relatively major production myself for the past year, I feel bad slamming the film like this -- I know how much work goes into something like that... then again, I'm just a random yahoo, so what do I know, lol?

Dinklage for President!

I think I better call this post done, before I launch off onto another tangent. Thanks for reading this far (if you did, lol).

More later,

Dave the Ramblin' Man

Saturday, January 3, 2015

OMG, Endless Rambling Ahead... Hope You Brought Your Hip-Boots....

A WW2 plane in a lagoon somewhere. Man, that photo alone could be the inspiration for a half-dozen stories, eh? And if it's hot there, and inspiration is 9/10ths perspiration, then, man, it's gonna be a hot one in the city tonight! Get your sweat rag ready!

Ideas, ideas. Man, have I got stories to tell. You should see my Movie Idea File! It's impressive, methinks! Of course, in my head, all of my ideas seem awesome... the truth of the matter is something else, perhaps. It's like the vocal impressions I do... in my head, they sound awesome. To others... who knows?

Where was I?

Ah, yes, WW2... for some reason, this particular slice of history holds a lot of deep meaning for me. I know I benefit from distance, as far as history's timeline goes. At the time, I'm sure it was cold and brutal and unromantic... but given a few decades of distance, I've somehow idealized the era and it holds tremendous creative strength and appeal to me. It seemed so clear-cut. Very obvious bad guys, very obvious good guys. So cut and dried. Good vs Evil, on a world-wide level. I realize that, to a certain extend, I am also a victim of my own country's propaganda machine -- both historically and currently. The funny part is now trying to put myself in German or Japanese shoes and imagine it from their perspective, as though they were in the right and we (U.S./ Allies) were "wrong."

It's a cool exercise in perspective. Makes me also think of ISIS and the Taliban and Al Qaeda and all that.. they must think they're "in the right"... they seem so purely evil and "wrong".... is there benefit in trying to see things from the "other" perspective? Or is that just an exercise in self-delusion? Cutting the heads off of people -- even children? How ON EARTH could that possibly be considered the right/just thing to do? It seems ridiculous... and yet, I'm sure those ISIS a-holes think that it's the right thing to do, somehow... is there any benefit in exploring that, mentally? Or should obvious evil be simply condemned whole-cloth and not given another thought?

Getting back to WW2, the same line of questioning applies to the Axis powers. I remember always wondering how on earth the German folks could accept such an obvious (from this point in the timeline of history) lunatic as a leader. At the time, somehow, it must have made sense to them. Maybe it went no further than the fact that their country was in really strung-out shape, and he led them back into some semblance of normalcy and prosperity... therefore, put up with is social idiosyncrasies so that you can enjoy the social/financial benefits.

Makes me wonder about us (the U.S.) now... if I were to flash forward fifty years, and hang out with a group of non-Americans, what would the consensus be, as far as my country right here, right now? What am I convinced of, right now, that I think is true and right and just, but is really out of whack somehow?

Pictures like this propel me places. They unlock stories inside me... stories I feel a strong urge to not only experience (in my imagination), but also relay to others. This brings me back to my Movie Idea File...

I did something impulsive this week.

A local film maker blasted a notice on Facebook, asking local screenwriters to hit him up, since he wants to stay busy this year, making films... if anyone had any scripts they were hoping to get made, talk to him and he'd see if the script(s) would be a good fit. So I contacted him and sent him a short sci-fi/time travel film script I wrote last Summer, about the time of the 48 Hour Film Festival. He had a few of my Facebook Friends as friends of his own, so I decided he must be legit, contacted him and sent him my script. That was a few days ago, and still haven't heard back from him. I figure I'd give him a few days and then make contact. Kinda risky, sending an unprotected screenplay to someone I don't know... I'm a bit naive, I suppose... but I figured maybe it stood a (admittedly remote) chance of actually getting made, which would be cool... but now it's "out there", subject to the whims and impulses of someone I don't know...

But, all things considered, it's small potatoes, compared to the rest of my Idea File.

I've been working on a screenplay lately. Yes, I know... those of you who have frequented this blog over the past few years are used to me occasionally trumpeting the fact that I somehow found the resolve and testicular fortitude needed to actually put one of my ideas into motion. Usually lasts a few days, after which time my interest wanes and relaunches in other directions... so, ultimately, the announcement that I'm doing substantial character work on a screenplay will (and should) be received with a healthy dose of hesitance... I'm hoping that the new year will, in fact, be the start of something new, as far as creative productivity. If I have a resolution for the year, it is to finish First Drafts of a pair of movie ideas.

We shall see, eh?

Love, love, LOVE that graphic.

I love what happens inside me when I read an amazing book. I love what happens inside me when I see top notch acting. I love what happens in me when I hear an amazing song, headphones on, volume loud, only me...  I love what happens inside me... I want to be able to do that to others. There's something exceedingly valuable that happens. I don't know what it is.

After much debate, I think this is my favorite song from the past year...

I know, I know... still, there's something about that song that I love. And I don't use that term lightly.

I play guitar. My dad taught me to play, a decade or more ago. I used to play daily, with great enthusiasm and fervor. I wrote a bunch of songs (30 or more), a couple of which are still played at church occasionally, during the worship service. You see, my guitar playing has always been wholly within the confines of the church mindset. All of my songs were spiritual/religious in nature. The guitar was always used as an instrument of worship.

And then, as with everything in my life, I hit the wall. The guitar slipped behind the glass wall, taking its place in the trophy case along with the rest of the hobbies/interests that I used to be intensely interested in, but then one day awoke to realize were done. I mean, one morning, things were going full-tilt, pedal to the floor, playing the guitar, songwriting, etc., and then the very next morning, I awoke to realize I was simply done. I went from playing the guitar for hours every day to simply being done with it. I put it up and didn't pick it up again, for years.

Recently, I've dusted off the guitar and have played it some. I can only play it briefly, since my finger callouses have long-since disappeared, and I need to get them active again (so trying to play too long becomes very painful)... but I've discovered that, for the first time, I'm playing a wide variety of songs, not just spiritual in nature. Some Beatles, some Pearl Jam, some other non-Christian nonsense... it feels almost sacrilegious, yet also it feels right at the same time. An instrument that always stood for one thing... now expanding it's reach.

As a spiritually-inclined person, it makes me wonder. Is there anything inherently beneficial in things that are not God-focused? Anything that a spiritual person could co-opt and claim as his own, for his own benefit?

I've been a dad for 24+ years. That's a pretty substantial amount of time. It's only been recently that I've pondered my track record, as far as being a dad. I've found myself lacking. For years and years, I felt it was awesome that I was home and available if needed. That seemed to me to be a huge step up from my own dad, who simply wasn't there. No slam on him -- he did what he felt was right, etc.,... it was what it was. He bailed. He wasn't there. I swore to myself early on that I would be there for my kids. As hard as it got between Wifey and I (and trust me, I've been through the fires), I was going to stay around. When they needed me, I'd be in my office, accessible.

Only recently I've seen the folly of that. It's been a hard pill to swallow. I see that I needed to be more interactive with my Eldest and Middle Daughters... it wasn't enough to merely be there. I needed to be a present part of their lives, their upbringing. I needed to sit them down occasionally and talk to them about stuff. The bulk of that was left to my Wife. She's done an admirable job, but it would have done much better had I actually been there beside her when the girls were going through their hardest times. Like my daughters should have known when it was best to "come get me" to elicit advice, etc., from me... I was a fool and I didn't know... what's worse, I thought I was doing great... I wasn't...

I recently brought this up to Middle Daughter, and she was quick to say (of course) that I was a good dad to her. But I wonder. I'm learning so much from my Youngest Daughter and my interactions with her. I wish I could take what I've learned with her and retroactively apply it to my other kids. But I can't. I can only hope that, like me, they've learned from the example left by their dad, and will take a step in the right direction, as far as how they can better deal with their own kids. I suppose it's left to me to prepare myself to be the best grandpa that I can be...

There was this one time when I endlessly rambled about this and that, and, somehow, you managed to wade through it all, thus earning my gratitude and appreciation. Remember that time? It was a long time ago.

Adios for now,

Dave the Meanderer