Friday, October 31, 2008


Did I scare you? If not, perhaps some torture is in order.....

-"What does a ghost do when he goes for a drive?

-He fastens his SHEET-belt!

-"Why didn't the skeleton go to the party?"

-Because he had no BODY to go with!

-"What do you call some one who poisons people's corn flakes?"

-A CEREAL killer!

Had enough? Boy, Halloween is just filled with jokes so corny they would make Chip Caray blush. Unfortunately, I won't be able to launch those babies (or hundreds others) at any sweet Halloween parties tonight, because I won't be going to any Halloween parties tonight.

Now, I'm not looking for sympathy (paging the world's smallest violin.....), but it is a little disappointing. Just between the lack of sleep and this being the first weekend of shooting, even though we aren't going til Sunday, I thought it best to stay home, get organized, watch a movie, and maybe do a little "blogging".

It's been weird, b/c usually I get so pumped for Halloween, but between the busyness for "Sunshine" and living in LA, I almost forgot about it. I mean, the leaves don't change color, there's no cold wind blowing or eerie tingle in the air, just a bunch of very out of place looking pumpkins.

It's a shame I'm not going out, because I do get the sense that despite its meteorological and geographic shortcomings, Los Angeles can do this fright night right. I mean, people out here are already pretty weird, so think about how weird they'd be on (arguably) the weirdest day of the year. Plus the whole movie industry. Part of the great fun of Halloween is the suspension of reality for a day, which is pretty much what making movies is all about. Not to mention there's all the hot women dressing even sluttier than usual. (Course, that's pretty much the case everywhere. I especially love the girls who, on a 35 degree night with wind in CHI, will still go out in their extra-skimpy Playboy bunny outfit.)

The little Halloween fun I did have was listening to Indie 103.1's Halloween-themed lineup. (Indie 103.1 is one of my top stations out here, and has helped me expand my musical horizons, which was nice, because I got SO MUCH HELP from you all.) Apparently, a bunch of artists covered all the music from "A Nightmare Before Christmas"--an awesome flick, and one of my favorites, as we'll discuss later--with an especially sweet version of This Is Halloween.

So much is fun about Halloween, and I'd love to go forward and list its many great and ghoulish aspects, but nothing I could say compares to the musings of the one and only Jerry Seinfeld.

Going back to "Nightmare", I must that it is definitely my top Halloween movie. Burton is amazing, and no matter what live action or computer animated things come along, nothing beats the fantastical yet realistic look of that crazy claymation. (Speaking of clay, remember ClayFighter, the video game for Super Nintendo and later N64? No Mortal Kombat, but I always enjoyed it).

Anyway, to wrap up, I humbly offer up my personal top Halloween movies of all time.....

5. Casper (1995)
-Hey, I know its a kids movie, but when it came out I was a kid. Just good fun: the 3 uncles have their moments, Bill Pullman is in it (that's worth something, right?), and a ridiculous cameo by Dan Akroyd remembering his Ghostbuster roots.

4. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
-I'm not a big fan of most horror movies, but I've always liked zombies and this is THE first and (in my opinion) best of them all. Next time we're at a bar, ask me about the societal critiques that lie beneath the surface... (Other zombie faves include "28 Days Later" and "Shaun of the Dead").

3. Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstien (1948)
- I really enjoy all the old 1930's Universal monster movies and this one's got all your favorite monsters plus the comedy routine of Abbot and Costello. What more do you need?

2. Halloween (1978)
-One of the first. One of the best. It doesn't get any more Halloween-y than this film.

1. Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
-Mentioned before, just amazing. The songs are great, the look is so eerie, and what a brilliant concept! The opening is just perfect and you gotta love when the kids all get freaked out by the Halloween shit under their Xmas trees.

Wow, why do I suddenly feel like a newspaper writer who was told by his editor to "fill page 5 with some Halloween movie crap"? Whatever.

Keep it creepy, Chi-town.

Friday, October 24, 2008


"Coffee is for closers!"

In that case, I'll have a mocha frappacino. With whip cream.

I know its incredibly un-manly but its the only form of coffee I find tolerable. (I like to spin it as a chocolate shake w/ coffee flavoring.....whatever: they're delicious.) But I have earned myself some coffee because I am indeed a closer. But before I spill the beans on the locale, here's the previously mentioned series of events....

As mentioned earlier, we make 2 (count 'em: 2) films this semester. So as my partner spent time on sound and getting the final product to show today (went over very well, by the way), I have busied myself in the details of pre-production. Namely, casting, script revisions, and locations.

The "logline" for my film is "an employee at a Wal-Mart type store, who is constantly berated by his perfectionist boss, gets in a fight with a customer who tries to mess up a cleaner display." It's called "Sunshine on Sale".

It's a comedy, and without sounding too Barack Obama-ish (ie: arrogant), it is pretty damn funny. However, one of the biggest issues, the issue that EVERYONE told me was going to be difficult, the issue that I knew would be tough but failed to fully grasp, was that no store that is anything like Wal-Mart would allow me to film on their location. The reason is that any store that looks like a big, corporate chain store IS a big, corporate chain store and that means there's enough red tape to allow a film student to hang himself with.

So I was faced with a dilemma: how could a make a film that attempts to satirize big box stores without being able to film in a big box store?

It started with me trying to find a Wal-Mart type store that would let me film in it, but the corporate hierarchy proved too challenging a foe . Ever step of the way was like in "Office Space": IS THIS GOOD FOR THE COMPANY?

As I got increasingly frustrated with the locations game, I was slowly entertaining the idea of attempting to build an aisle on a set and film there. That would allow me total control and allow me to have exactly what I wanted. I heard that some classmates were going to try and go in on a stage space where we could each build our own sets and I hopped on board with the whole "building a aisle" idea.

We attempted to find space to build and shoot in all around L.A., but the best option turned out to be a warehouse, owned by a very shady fellow named "Chester". Apparently, this guy owns this giant, rather decrepit, warehouse and rents it out to "rave parties" and the occasional film students.

Well, long story short, I decided the whole "Chester-warehouse" deal wasn't right for me (oh really? what a surprise!) and was forced to hit the locations trail again, this time harder than ever. Success came by the middle of this week when I found a Mexican supermarket with a really cool manager named Hector. By Thursday, we came to an agreement and I now have the paperwork to prove it ("Cause only one thing counts in this life: GET THEM TO SIGN ON THE LINE THAT IS DOTTED!"). Closed it, muthaf*****!

So luckily, I was able to breathe a bit easier this weekend and turn my attention to more important matters of planning, like having my production designer create a fake logo and sign for my fake store: "Cost-Mart".

Get it? Ha ha ha ...ehhh.

Whatever. We got to watch all the movies on the big screen at USC today and it was a blast. There was drinking and all the filmmakers gave little speeches and everyone got to see their film play to a large audience. It was really cool and only re-energized me to make sure I've got a damn good movie up their when my time comes.

Speaking of "my time", I will have my movie on the big screen at USC on December 14th, so if any of y'all have been maybe thinking about a trip to L.A., why not make a weekend out of it?

C'mon, I'll even take you to all the shady dive bars I go to that remind me of Chicago....

Well, mull it over. Would make a nice mid-Dec getaway.

On the weather, I have to say one thing (and I know my whining will fall on deaf ears, as it has in the past, and always will) but this weather is really boring and annoying. Sunny and 77. Sunny and 76. Sunny and 71. Early clouds, then sunny and 77......I cannot wait to be back in a town with some real weather: windy, rainy, snowy, unseasonable warm, windy, sleety, snowy, windy Chicago.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Locations, Locations, Locations!!!

Going to keep this short b/c I'm tired and trying to get more than the "standard six" hours of sleep tonight.

[For those who don't know my sleep classification system it goes...]

-The Too-Much Ten
-The Niiiiiice Nine
-The Ideal Eight
-The So-So Seven
-The Standard Six
-The Failure Five
-The WTF Four
-The Big Trouble Three
-The Stupid Two
-The "Why?" One

[Feel free to debate these at your leisure, but I believe it holds up pretty well]

Anyway, I am in the throes of pre-production for my movie. (My partner is doing the final sound editing on her film, the 1965 lynching piece, and it goes on the Big Screen at USC this Saturday).

I, meanwhile, have taken it on the chin recently, and have failed to land a location to film my movie in (which, happily enough, starts shooting in less than two weeks!). It's a long story--one that I won't get into now--but it includes the corporatization of America, a questionable deal with a shady warehouse-owner named 'Chester', and my own inexperience and naivete seeming to rival that of Sarah Palin and Barack Obama combined.

Hopefully, I'll have everything sorted out soon and will be able to recount the last week or so in more detail. In the meantime, congrats to my best friend Nick for his popping the question to Kelly (and, can you believe it, she said "yes?), kudos to Kyle Orton for giving the Bears a fightin' chance in the sloppy NFC North, and I ask all of you to make a sacraficial offering to the gods of pre-production, so that they may grant me the guidance and negotiating skills to land a supermarket to film in.

Hope y'all be enjoying the fall, becuase it hasn't quite gotten here yet.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Why every morning I flip to the last page of Section E...

This "Peanuts" strip was in the L.A. Times a few days ago and I believe it sums up the feelings of baseball fans all over Chicago:


Hopefully, I'll be done mourning soon and we can get back to talking about movies and making fun of Holly-weird...

Sunday, October 5, 2008


[Editor's note: Today's blog has its own soundtrack! Just click the link in a separate window!]

Time is on my side, yes it it.......
Time is on my side, yes it is......

Usually I leave the Cubs blogging to the professionals, only occasionally throwing in a pithy comment when the team from the Northside does something especially worth noting. But these last 5 days (that's all it was!) require some deeper probing, as a performance like that will send even the truest of Cubs' fans into a period of great soul searching.

Now you always say
That you want to be free
But you'll come running back, You'll come running back,
You'll come running back to me.......

After looking at the stats, and trying to wrap one's head around the deafening silence of the Cubs' bats, it feels like this is all some big, cruel joke: Okay, Cubs fans, we're going to give you a great offensive lineup, solid pitching, and a more-often-than-not dependable bullpen. The Cubs will play some of the best baseball they've played in DECADES. You'll have solid veterans, a rookie of the year winner, 8 All-Stars, clutch performances in big series, 97 wins, and a no-hitter......

And then you'll score 6 runs in three games, commit 4 errors, and get swept by the team that, if not in the NL West, wouldn't have even been in the wild-card race!


Time is on my side, yes it is........

Time is on my side, yes it is.......

100 years. Now, it seems impossible. It all seems so incredibly frustrating because everyone saw stars and planets aligning. I, myself, felt like this was a season custom-built for me as a fan. The Cubs were going to clinch the NLDS in LA! I bought tickets! I was going to go back to Chicago to see a World Series game in Wrigley Field!

Hell, this summer I even wrote a feature length script in which the protagonist has to road trip his way to Chicago in order to see the Cubs play in the World Series. It was going to get optioned by the NLCS and greenlit the same day the Cubs won it all!

You'll come running back, you'll come running back,

You'll come running back to me.........

The worst part is where do we go now? ("Soldier Field?" - please, lets not give up on one impossible dream just to follow some Polish-sausage induced hallucination) But, really, WHAT IN THE HELL DO WE DO NOW? When one of the best Cubs' teams in decades cant even win a game in the first round of the playoffs, what is the battle plan? How do we go on?

Time is on my side, yes it is..........

Time is on my side, yes it is..........

I'm putting all my Cubs t-shirts in a box. Sticking the old '03 cap on the highest hat hook, and doing my best to cover and/or ignore the innumerable amount of Cubs memorabilia that litters my home and car. I'm forgetting about Wrigley, ivy, Old Style, and "Go, Cubs, Go" (although there is another Steve Goodman song I've found myself listening to quite a bit these past days...).

It's time to focus on making movies and writing new non-Cubs scripts and the election and the NFL and the Bears (damn, I can't help it) and 2016 Olympics and Oscar season and great TV shows and Thanksgiving and Christmas and puppies and candy and EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING NOT RELATED TO THE CHICAGO CUBS!!!!!

'Cause I got the real love

The kind that you need

You'll come running back (said you would, baby)

You'll come running back (I always said you would)

You'll come running back, to me

Of course, those diversions will only last so long. As the seasons turn and the holidays come and go and the Bears falter in the playoffs and the winter becomes long and cold and we begin to yearn for sunshine and cold beer and peanuts that same, old, beautiful feeling will be felt once again.

Small at first, and generally still filled with cynicism as fans flock to the Chicago Hilton, it will grow and grow as reports start coming in from Mesa, and once again I will fall in love only to get hurt again. And again. And again.

It's a horrible cycle, but what else can I do? The Red Sox won it. Those guys on 35th street won it. It's just a matter of good baseball. Besides, this cycle can't go on forever.

Can it?

Yes time, time, time is on my side, yes it is
Time, time, time is on my side, yes it is

Oh, time,
time, time is on my side, yes it is I said, time, time, time is on my side, yes it is
Oh, time, time, time is on my side
Yeah, time, time, time is on my side