Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Chronicles of Twitter - Part II: THE GREATEST STORY EVER TWEETED


Even after being on the Twitter bandwagon for a few months and after seeing it put to hilarious lengths (seriously- @SteveMartinToGo, its just brilliant), I would say I still had a few doubts about this strange "not quite Facebook" thing. That is, until this past Thanksgiving, where Twitter became about so much more than what @JuddApatow was up to...

It became a conduit for a harrowing tale of trauma and survival, of search and rescue, or LIFE AND DEATH!!!
Thanksgiving night...just like any other...well, much colder than any other...like, 20s I think...anyway, I was enjoying a post-gluttony cigar (which was kinda a continuation of the gluttony, but whatever) on the screened-in-porch back in good ole' Glen Ellyn when my longtime neighbor, friend, and ultra-conservative advocate JOHN DIETZLER came hurriedly into the backyard - Bob's new dog Bootlegger (nicknamed BOOTY) had escaped from their backyard and was on the loose! 
That kicked off a feverish neighborhood search to track down this dog that was lost in the strange wilderness of suburbia. Despite the exhaustive effort by all available, Booty was not found that night. It was scary, because of the cold we did not know if Booty would be okay. I had to go back to the city, unsure if Booty would ever be found..
Little did I know that the real story was just beginning. Michelle - Bob and John's sister and organic beef entrepreneur extraordinaire - was Tweeting in hopes of tracking down Booty: the 2010 version of putting up fliers on telephone poles.
As I went through my regular routine of writing, bar-hopping, and general Chicagoing, I kept a close eye on my Twitter feed, which chronicled the trials and tribulations of the Dietzler family in their continuing search for Bootlegger the Dog. 
I would like to present Michelle's Tweets, in their entirety, to preserve the visceral experience of what happened....


@DietzlerFarms Michelle Dietzler
Alert! Bootie- our German Shorthaired Pointer- ran away tonight from my parent's house in Glen Ellyn. Have you seen her? we are so sad...
25 Nov via web


@DietzlerFarms Michelle Dietzler
Please help us find our farm dog Booty. She is lost in Glen Ellyn and was recently spotted by Lincoln School.... please. triblocal.com/glen-ellyn/201…
26 Nov via Tweet Button

@DietzlerFarms Michelle Dietzler
Thanks @triblocaljenn for this article about Booty triblocal.com/glen-ellyn/201…We really miss her...
26 Nov via Tweet Button 

@DietzlerFarms  Michelle Dietzler
Thanks to everyone who has shown support for our missing farm pup Booty. She is lost in Glen Ellyn and we hope to find her soon...
26 Nov via web

@DietzlerFarms Michelle Dietzler
We have an update at Booty: Someone saw her on the prairie path in Glen Ellyn. If you go out for a jog or bike ride today, pls look for her!
27 Nov


@DietzlerFarms  Michelle Dietzler
We are still looking in Glen Ellyn for Booty, my brother's beloved sidekick. We really hope we find her and can take her back to the farm...
27 Nov

@DietzlerFarms  Michelle Dietzler
Our dog Booty is still missing in Glen Ellyn. She is cold and hungry. Please call us if you see her 630.***.**** or call the police.
27 Nov

@DietzlerFarms Michelle Dietzler
This is a link to a photo of our missing dog Booty and some info on her: triblocal.com/glen-ellyn/201…
28 Nov 
@DietzlerFarms  Michelle Dietzler
This is a pic of our missing farm dog Booty... http://twitpic.com/3b2dgt
28 Nov

@DietzlerFarms  Michelle Dietzler
Good news! We have spotted Booty! She is scared and running around under 355 between 53 and St. Charles Road. Hunting the hunting dog!
28 Nov

@DietzlerFarms  Michelle Dietzler
Booty is back with Bob now and happy to have food and her comfy bed again. Thanks for everyone's help getting the word out! We are so happy!
29 Nov

@DietzlerFarms Michelle Dietzler
Now that Booty is home, we can finally all sleep and eat... this whole episode has been physically and emotionally exhausting!
29 Nov

@DietzlerFarms Michelle Dietzler
Bob and Booty- happily reunited!
29 Nov


Wow.

I don't know a film released in 2010 that can offer a ride like that... plus deliver each story beat in less than 140 characters.

I mean, this is Screenwriting 101.... you've got a sympathetic "lost child" archetype in Booty. There's the strong, silent tough guy with a heart of gold in Bob. We have a likable, engaging protagonist with @DietzlerFarms-- who can imagine this tale being told through anyone but her Tweets?

There's a community rallying together, excitement, disappointment, resolve...

And a happy, crowd-pleasing ending that's as Capra-esque as you can get. 

In fact, if Frank actually wrote this you'd call it too sentimental! I mean, Booty actually went missing on Thanksgiving night. Can't you just imagine her frozen little snout puffing on a window, watching a warm and happy family picking at turkey leftovers?

So, yes: Twitter may mostly be an overflowing swamp of sarcasm, ultra-irony and self-loathing/self-aggrandizing shallow little men (remember to follow @mkosin!), but I think its worth noting that there are also good, honest people on Twitter. People who care about family, country, and high-quality ground beef.

That's the Twitter feed I want to follow!

So that's it. The Greatest Story Ever Tweeted. You may be cynical, you may disagree, but I want you to know this: 

"Every time you Re-Tweet, an angel gets its wings"
"That's right....that's right!"






Monday, December 13, 2010

BLACK list POWER

Caution! "Inside Baseball"-heavy post today...*

*not actually about baseball


Today there's a bit o' buzz around the smog-covered hills of Hollywood because today the Industry's "Black List" of scripts was released.

Now, this ain't Joe McCarthy's black list. Unless, McCarthy spoke to a Wheeling, West Virginia crowd and said "I hold in my hand a list of 57 of the best written scripts in Hollywood that have not yet been produced by a studio!"

Okay, here's the deal- first read this LA TIMES article on the blacklist.


Now, the cool thing about this article is that this semester I've actually been able to meet - or, at least, briefly talk to - two of these major players, through some of the really great classes I've had this year.

The first is that Franklin Leonard, the guy the article is about, came to my advanced producing class and told us all about his life and how he came about to compile the Black List. He's a really cool guy, very smart, very savvy- kind of like a real life version of an Aaron Sorkin character.

He was an awesome speaker who really catapulted himself into a powerful position in the Biz through a little creativity, reasoning, and hard work.

*BTW when he came and spoke to us he was still an Exec at Universal and our teacher said, after he left, that with the changing over the guards at NBC-Universal he'd either get a promotion or be somewhere else in a few months. Now he's somewhere else. My producing teacher is smart.

Anyway, ANOTHER really cool thing about this article is that I also got to hear the life story and briefly speak with the writer with the #2 script on the Black List- Noah Oppenheimer.

He was a completely unknown producer who burst into the industry recently after working his whole life in news and reality TV. Pretty much bammed out a screenplay in about a week and a week later Steven Spielberg was strongly considering it. So, he's pretty hot right now.

He came in to my "Business of Representation" class because, luckily enough, my professor for that class also happens to be Noah's agent. SMALL WORLD.

Oppenheimer's got a pretty interesting story too-- worked in cable news for years, often alongside my one-time favorite shouting head Chris Matthews-- now he's done in a few months time what some people spend a lifetime hoping to achieve. Pretty good. Pret-tay pret-tay pret-tay good.

There's a lot to learn from guys like these, and I especially look at how I can emulate them or follow their paths. Now, they did both go to Harvard, and I went to, what we'll call "the Harvard of Rogers' Park".... still, I'll call that one even.

The other things they both had in common that I take a lesson from? They both worked really, really, really, really hard. REALLY hard. Like, Great Depression-era coal-mining ya-finish-the-day-even-though-you're-wheezing-from-the-black-lung hard.

Now, THAT's something I can do.

(Hopefully)

Anyway, thought I'd share that bit of fun.

Also, I'm gonna try and hustle to get a copy of the # 1 script - COLLEGE REPUBLICANS - about a young Karl Rove.

Apparently, back then they used to also call him "The Architect"


Or more like "The Architect of Getting Laid!"

I'm sorry...that was a terrible joke to go out on. I'll try and Tweet something funny later.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

WATCH THIS: "Shit Blows Up while People Run 3 (in 3D)" TEASER


Just out today....


 I have to say that while Michael Bay is the guy I love to hate, he's also occaisonally the guy I hate to love.

And with this TRANSFORMERS 3 trailer he's the latter. 

I mean, Transformers 2 was one of the WORST movies I've ever sat in a theater and watched (didn't pay, but still- it was a Friday night), but somehow he actually has me interested to see Transformers 3. Now, part of the reason (who are we kidding, 99.9% of the reason) I give any thought whatsoever to Transformers 3 is because they spent half the summer blowing up my favorite city...and that's always fun to see (IN MOVIES!! IN MOVIES!!!! NOT REAL LIFE!!!! #thanksalotbinladen).

So I'm already kinda intrigued by this movie and now he comes out with this teaser where they say that Niel Armstrong say some Transformers during the moon landing. Which is so stupid....but also SO COOL.

I'm sorry, but as a history nerd I love when movies go back and weave their ridiculous plots in with real history. Clearly that was the whole idea behind "Inglorious Basterds". Or like "The Watchmen" saying Dr. Manhattan won the Vietnam War. Or remember when in "The Rock", Michael Bay implied that Sean Connery had a microfilm that proved aliens landed at Roswell and that JFK's murder was a conspiracy? Remember how much COOLER that made "The Rock"?

I think that when Michael Bay is a big history nerd too, except that when he actually tries to DO history it comes off eye-gougingly terrible, (*cough* PEARL HARBOR *cough*) but when he just uses history to enhance a half-decent story, it actually kind of works.

So, yes...I guess maybe once the real trailer comes out and we see Shia's dumb dialogue my interest will wain but I think now- because of the Chicago thing and now this dumb "Neil Armstrong" hook - I may actually be excited to see Transformers 3....God, I may actually go to a midnight screening...
I feel dirty. 


I need to see BLACK SWAN and fast...that'll make me forget all about this.

Monday, December 6, 2010

10

Bit of seriousness today. Last Friday I joined the mourning of thousands in Chicago upon hearing about the death of legendary Chicago Cubs player, broadcaster, advocate, and ultimate fan - Ron Santo.



I don't usually feel strong connections when public figures or celebrities die, its usually a brief moment of "that's too bad", a moment of remembrance, and moving on. But Ron's passing hit hard and I feel like its reverberations will be felt for more than just a few days. In fact, I think the sadness will be especially palpable when the 2011 Cubs start their season and Ron Santo's voice will be absent from the airwaves.

I don't want to pretend that I'm in any position to give a eulogy on Ron's amazing life and career, plenty of reporters and people who knew Ron can do that much better.

All I know is that being a Cubs fan is hard. We suck a lot. I've seen more wasted opportunities and depressing seasons that any fan outside of Cleveland should have to endure. Ron's amazing enthusiasm and affable personality made those painful games a bit easier to listen too.

And, on the few occasions when the Cubs were actually successful, hearing Ron's exclamations of joy made victory all the more sweet.

Pat Hughes brought up Ron's blatant homer-ism in a piece in the Tribune:

Of course, everyone remembers Ron's famous "Oh, no" call on the dropped fly by Brant Brown. I swear, his forehead was glued to the table after that one. I thought he'd died. What most people don't know is manager Jim Riggleman had to comfort Ronnie afterward, putting his arm around him, telling him not to worry, that the Cubs still would go to the playoffs.

A manager cheering up a broadcaster? Do you think Mike Ditka ever tried to cheer up Wayne Larrivee? This was a first in professional sports. I had to look away. It was a terrible day, and I didn't want anyone to see me laughing.


And there's so, SO much to say about Ron's charity work and battle with Diabetes. Again, much will be said and done in the coming days. I'm glad that Ron's family has suggested in lieu of sending flowers or cards that fans donate to JDRF.

In addition to everything great about Ron Santo the broadcaster, the fan, and the man, there was also Ron Santo the player.

A great player. One of the all-time best for his era. Its a shame so much discussion in the wake of his death centers on the Hall of Fame's committee's stubborn refusal to let him in. The important thing is that Ron's #10 flies in the wind over Wrigley Field.

On that note, one of the best idiosyncrasies of baseball is the timelessness of statistics. Though HGH and Flintstone vitamins may cast some periods under suspicion, there's little doubt that in Santo's time, his numbers stood alone. So, in a baseball geek's tribute to the exuberant third basement who munched on candy bars in between innings to keep his blood sugar up, the career statistics of Ron Santo.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Chronicles of Twitter - Part I: WHAT THE TWEET?

I think that at long last I should discuss my newest "hobby" and why there is seems to be a confusing and often unintelligible "Twitter Box" on the right hand side ----> of the blog homepage...for those who've noticed and actually VISIT the homepage.

I explored Twitter a year ago because a classmate (the one classmate who is sure to rocket to success while the rest of us are spending our post-grad days giving Paul Rudd a copy of our script when we "bump into him" at the doctor's office. In the doctors office. Okay, fine, its a costume I'm not really a doctor) went to CANNES and was going to share the experience via the newfangled TWITTER.

I got on. I followed. I was entertained by Coog. I didn't get Twitter. Cannes ended. I was done.

Recently a professor was going to another film festival and said we could follow her on Twitter while she was there. By now I'd seen a few more friends hop on the Tweetwagon AND was really blown away to find out that a writer could get a TV SHOW on a REAL, LIVE, NON-NBC NETWORK with the whole @shitmydadsays thing.

So, in the spirit of absolutely shameless self-promotion (caused by being in the business I'm in and the general milieu of my generation) I got on "back" Twitter this September.

This time around, I figured it out. I figured out the value of Twitter, or more specifically, why I valued Twitter. And embraced it.

The thing that separates Twitter from Facebook [and by the way, for the older, not quite "plugged in" family members, things are about ready to get very advanced tech-speak wise. Unless you recently saw "The Social Network", you may just want to click over to AOL.com and read the most recent story about a farm-town someone who did something.] - anyway, the thing that separates Twitter from Facebook is that, when used effectively, Twitter can be a valuable and entertaining stream of comical quips and breaking news rather than an endless droning of Event Invites, Status Updates, and the 1,000,000th tagged picture of someone drinking with friends.

We get it! We all like to go out and drink, myself ESPECIALLY SO, are we really in need of THIS level of documentation? Why are you showing me this?

Sorry bout that angry rant, but its the kind of thing that living a Facebook-filled life spawns. Twitter doesn't make me angry, know why? Because I get to choose who I follow on Twitter. I'm not socially obligated to follow someone on Twitter just because I see them every day. You're a dick if you reject a friend request but nobody gives a crap if you dont follow them on Twitter.

Because I get to choose, the people I follow on Twitter are INFINITELY more interesting the vast majority of my FB friends. I mostly keep an eye on people in entertainment, especially funny people....to name a few: JUDD APATOW, AZIZ ANSARI, MATT WALSH, AUBREY PLAZA, ADAM MCKAY, DAN HARMON, ERIC STONESTREET... oh!, and

STEVE MARTIN

This guy has found his 21st century banjo. Steve Martin sees Twitter for the ridiculous time wasting entity that it is and just goes with it. Irreverent, funny stuff.

But, yeah, these are writers, directors, TV showrunners, actors...all people I want to be or be working with sometime soon. They tweet about being on set or writing a new script and, if they do tweet something inane about what they had for breakfast or they're going on a vacation, THEY TOSS A JOKE IN THERE!

I also keep up with some news guys, some sports guys, and the occasional ridiculous celebrity (I did start following Ashton finally but really only because he gives great BEARS shout-outs. Represent.).

Now, another plus is that this Twitter thing can be purely observational or interactive. You can follow tons of people and trends and never once offer up a Tweet, Twit, or Twat. Or you can get involved.

I like to get involved.

Without going into too much detail - because who really cares that much? - (said the guy writing a lengthy treatise on Twitter...hypocrisy much?) - but w/out going into a lot of detail I'll just say that I like to Tweet for really 2 reasons.

#1. To use it as my own personal AP wire service to let people who might be interested know when I'm up to something that's worth mentioning ie: I'm coming back to Chicago today...we're launching our webseries today....I was at a Cubs game and met Vince Vaughn who liked my script and he's gonna attach himself and then he introduced me to Mila Kunis who thinks I'm funny and we're taking a trip to the Greek Isles today...(HYPOTHETICAL EVENTS SOME MAY NOT HAVE ACTUALLY HAPPENED!!!)

#2. To share something, either that I came up with or that someone else Tweeted, that is going to hopefully be funny or interesting or exciting and bring a tiny ray of sunshine into an otherwise miserable day.

And that's it.

If any of y'all ever see a Tweet come up that sounds like my head is up my ass (more than usual) or like I've been spending a little too much time in the harmful skin-baking rays of L.A.'s sun, please let me know - please put it on the blog and say "THIS IS A BAD TWEET. NO! BAD SOCIAL NETWORKER/BLOGGER! STOP IT!"

Its the only way I'll learn.

Now, because Twitter is such a phenomenon - and who doesn't love a good phenomenon? - I've got at least one more MGH post on Twitter. And if THIS post didn't make you want to jump on the Twitter bandwagon, then the NEXT one surely will.

And if the NEXT post doesn't make you want to jump on Twitter, then you probably won't jump on Twitter.

And that's fine.

You probably live a richer and more fulfilling life than I.

Kudos.

STAY TUNED for Part II: THE GREATEST STORY EVER TWEETED

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

GOOD COLD / BAD COLD

Ugh.

Back in LA after a fantastic trip home. The past nine days had everything: Family! Friends! Turkey! Football! Winter Lagers!

Really really enjoyed being back, as I've said it's been a while, and being away always makes coming home all the more better. Plus, I was pretty much able to "touch 'em all", from late nights of boozy fun at the Ale House to relaxing turkey-induced naps during the Cowboys game, there's nary a #SweetHomeChicago experience I missed.

That's probably why my return to LAme was all the more depressing when I got in to LAX, and to underscore my less-than-enthusiastic mood, I was faced with a very inconvenient truth once I got outside.

It was cold.

Now before anyone gets all up in arms about my going soft, I'd like to preface by saying that I spent almost six hours atop the windy rafters of Wrigley and trudged around the cul-de-sacs of Glen Ellyn for a few hours on Thanksgiving (more on that later...) in very cold weather.

But that was GOOD COLD. That was CHICAGO COLD- brisk, crisp, makes you feel like your ALIVE.

I grew up with it. I live for it. I love it.

But, I'm gonna be honest, one of the few bright points about living in LA is the stellar weather: SUNSHINE, PALM TREES, BIKINIS, ETC. Getting back to cold weather - cold for LA, that is - is pretty damn annoying. Its BAD COLD.

GOOD COLD - 28, snowing..."I'll have a delicious hot chocolate and sit by the fire" weather

BAD COLD - 55, windy, annoying..."Should I wear a jacket or not?" weather

Its stupid to complain about cold weather in Southern California but lets be honest, its stupid to HAVE cold weather in Southern California. If this region doesn't have absolutely amazing weather 24/7 it looses all its appeal. Its like if a dumb, bitchy but knockout gorgeous girl gets old or ugly - WHAT ELSE IS THERE?

So here I am back with my "mistress" and she's all cold and ugly. She better get hot again pretty fast if she wants to be worth a damn.

If not, no worries- my lifelong love and I will be reunited in just a few short weeks...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

137 Days

...is how long its been since I was last in Chicago.

And that was just a one-day firework and bbq-filled stop off from Toronto. Haven't had some serious Chi-time since June, back when the Hawks were not yet Champions, Christine O'Donnell was still flying under the radar (with a broomstick?), and people merely disliked, rather than vehemently hated, Mel Gibson.

What an insanely busy few months its been away from home.

The summer was kind of crazy as I produced that thesis film for a classmate - The Lepidoctor - which caused me to miss my usual pre-fall semester August trip home - and I had kind of hoped that the fall semester would be a more laid-back time to work on writing and plan my future a bit, with expected graduation this December.

Then came the webisode class. Taught by a first time teacher with an impressive TV and internet resume, I had expected it to be a minor workload... shooting some funny people having awkward conversations in my apartment or whatever and be done with it.

But, foolish me, when my good friend and classmate Jeff pitched me a ridiculous web series idea with a hook I couldn't refuse - a Chicago Blackhawks fan makes a deal with the devil so the Hawks can win the Cup, and his girlfriend gets taken to Hell, forcing him to team up with a exiled demon chick to get her back.

THE SIN BIN was born, and my "laid-back" semester was killed.

The Sin Bin workload has been astronomical but it has also been a tremendous amount of fun, and I can't wait to show it to everyone soon.

Now, I've been busy on projects before, but I've found myself working SO MUCH harder this semester than ever before - later nights, earlier mornings, drinking LESS? And for a while I couldn't understand why until I finally figured it out:

This sh*t counts.

This semester, almost every single thing I'm doing is tied pretty directly to my future post-film school.

Not that it wasn't before but...it wasn't. The first two years were "film school" and everything I did, from killer Cost-Mart employees to carousels to workshopping my feature script, was still pretty much a learning process. Not that those things have no applicability in the real world but if anything were to "hit" it'd be more luck than anything else.

NOW I'm getting to a point where the material I write or things I work on are being seen by real professionals in the industry. Really. Like people who can give me a break, or, better yet, a JOB. Which is all great, but also infinitely more stressful b/c everything has got to be the best. There are so many exciting potential opportunities on the horizon...almost too many, because I'm trying to do it all and do it all perfectly.

Anyway, not sharing this b/c I want to impress NOR am I looking for sympathy (which, living by the ocean, I'll know I'll NEVER get from Chi-peeps barring a tsunami or something), but really to explain why I haven't been as up on the blog as I'd like to be these past months. There's been a lot of funny stories, cool moments, and crazy thoughts about "the 310" from a "312" perspective.

So blog's been a bit sporadic these past few months...but its got a live Twitter feed now! Pretty sweet, huh? Yeah?

I've got a WHOLE thing about Twitter that I'll hopefully get to spout out about sometime.

But, AS GOD AS MY WITNESS, next semester I will not take on any big production projects and will spend as much time as possible WRITING...scripts, specs, and hopefully the more than occasional blog post.

Oh, and watch stuff. There is so much I've been meaning to watch and I'm gonna really get into it in 2011. Lots of Showtime and HBO shows. I watched more pilots this fall than an air traffic controller but have rarely had the time to catch episode #2 of anything.

So that's the plan for the next few months, by the way, finish up many things and get my scripts and reel ready for the official entry of Mark Kosin into the "real world" once USC commencement is complete. Unless I decide to go for that Creative Writing MFA...

JUST KIDDING DAD

Anyway, I'll be back in beautiful Chicago in less than 24 hours....feels so good to write that.

Hopefully I can give a bit more insight into some of the various pots cooking on the proverbial "hot stove" that is "Hollywood".

And please save me some Giorodano's and Old Style before I become any more of a California "douchebag".

Or is it too late?

Monday, November 15, 2010

BEARS WIN

This was my view for the game...



God, the ego thing is really getting out of hand, what with all the picture posting...

I guess I barely have time to write posts this week but figure that 1 picture = 1000 words (approx) so as I see it in the last two posts I've written 'bout 2,000 words.

SUCH A PROLIFIC WRITER I AM.

Anyway, am doing tons of tech work to prepare THE SIN BIN footage for editing...

Unfortunately they don not allow beer or polish sausage in the edit labs. Typical LA.

So much work this week, the image of temps in the 50s and 40s next week mixed with warm pubs and turkey the only thing keeping me going.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Little Bored in class...

....I figured out how to use my "PhotoBooth" feature on my Mac. Only took 3 years.

This is in the big boardroom at CAA in Century City.

On the shelf behind me are pizza boxes from the very delicious MULBERRY STREET PIZZA we had as a special treat tonight, courtesy of the prof. Huzzah!





Its pretty good... for New York style thin slice.

1 week until some REAL pizza.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

CaliFALLnia

So, I'm about to enter my third straight year of being completely LA-bound for the entire season of fall.

LA trying to do "fall" is a very strange thing indeed- its kind of like a longtime alcoholic trying to change for the better. LA makes a legitimate effort, and you really think they may pull it off, but the reality of the situation eventually comes crashing to Earth.

Like today....its in the mid-60's, there's a "briskness" in the air, you can got to Starbucks and get a pumpkin spice latte or something, and tonight in Venice b/c of low temps, those with fireplaces will have real fires, giving that amazing 'burning fireplace' smell to the air.

I could go to bed tonight thinking "Hmmm....maybe I'll have a real fall this year. Maybe, California has really changed. Maybe... they're sober".

Then - BAM! - Saturday will roll around with its 80 degree temperatures and you'll look up from the five dead leaves that were meaninglessly raked to see a giant green-leafed palm tree. Oh no, they're falling off the wagon! By Sunday the NFL games from around the country will be coming on at 10am while a gang of vegans does Yoga in your front yard and you realize there's no fall here....there never will be.

LA will go back and forth, but when its November and you still need to bring sunscreen if you're going outside for more than 2 hours you realize fall is just a tease, a hopeless pipe dream that ends in settling for strange hybrids between regular fall and SoCal... like the Pumpkin Blaster Smoothie from Jamba Juice.

Ahhhh, but this year I may be escaping LA-LA just long enough to get a real autumnal feel. I'll be heading back to CHI for a whopping NINE DAYS during the Thanksgiving holiday. By the time I return to Cali this whole "maybe it is / maybe it isn't" fall thing will be over and the region will settle into a nice acceptance of okay, LA winter - slightly rainy and cooler but still mostly sunny state.

Less than a week and a half til the ULTIMATE true fall experience - a college football match-up at Wrigley Field. Cold weather, bare trees, scarves....my God, it will be glorious.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Aaaaayyyyy!!!!!!

The FONZ is coming to my class tonight. Keep an eye on TWITTER for details....

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wow! Another post!

and another link!

this one is really cool though. I never get excited about 1) COP SHOWS 2) LAW SHOWS 3) DOCTOR SHOWS

But this is a cop show I've already heard things about- plus a little something EXTRA

CLICK THE LINK!

You Know You're REALLY Homesick when...

...THIS article makes me nostalgic for Chicago.


The Loop deemed 'rattiest' area of Chicago

By Erika Slife, Tribune reporter

9:43 p.m. CDT, October 25, 2010

If you smell a rat, chances are good you're in the Loop — and not necessarily near City Hall, according to a recent survey of Chicago residents on the city's "rattiest" neighborhoods.

That's according to a survey of city residents conducted by Sentient Decision Science LLC, on behalf of d-Con, a rodent-control brand.

Other neighborhoods where rat sightings were prominent include the South Loop, Lakeview/Wrigleyville, Lincoln Park and West Loop. At the bottom of the list of 21 Chicago neighborhoods in the survey were North Center and Lincoln Square.

Residents of the city's "rattiest" areas should not despair. It's not necessarily a reflection of how they live, "but more of a reflection of the economy, and empty buildings, factors like that," said Raj Jain, a senior brand manager for d-Con.

Precautions such as picking up after your dog, keeping the city's garbage bins closed and maintaining neat gardens and yards will starve the rodents of a food supply, said Matt Smith, a spokesman for the city's Department of Streets and Sanitation.

"The ability to stop rodents from taking up residence in an area lies in the residents' hands," he said. "If rats can't feed, rats can't breed."

The city doesn't have a list of its "rattiest" neighborhoods — there's no reliable tracking system.

The rat found in Chicago is the Norway rat, although the breed originated in Asia, according to the city. It lives about six to 12 months, with a female producing four to seven litters per year.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Week Sauce: Wednesday / Thursday

Yes, I'm running behind. What of it?

WED

Woke up early to do some rewriting on our hockey-horror-comedy webisodes. It was pouring rain and I met my co-writer at a coffee shop that was just a few blocks away, so I actually WALKED in the RAIN for about five blocks.

Not a big deal? Probably right, but reminded me of LUC days when it rained very very frequently and I had no choice but to march along #MEMORIES

Oh, and this "#" thing is apparently some part of Twitter. I'm not sure exactly what it is, but I guess it lets you put your "tweet" in a specific "topic"... I dunno.

I'm totally on the Twitter bandwagon, BTW. Mostly, I like it because A) Conan Obrien, Jimmy Kimmel, and Steve Martin are HILARIOUS and 2) Its actually a pretty decent way to keep up on news and such too.

Anyway, Wed nights I've been attending an Alfred Hitchcock class at USC...now, I'm not registered for it, nor will I get any credit. Why, you may ask then, am I spending my Wednesday nights at it?

Well, the teacher is amazing and the class takes place in the Norris Theater - big theater on campus - so its a chance to see some awesome movies (some I've seen, some I haven't) on the big screen in 35mm. And, for these movies from 40+ years ago, that's a pretty rare thing. This Wed was I CONFESS and STRANGERS ON A TRAIN... great films.

I mean, its Alfred Hitchcock. The guy is to suspense what the Yankees are to the World Series. HE JUST KILLS IT.

THURS

Ah, so this Thursday was day #2 of a new internship. Its with Pierce Brosnan's production company called "Irish DreamTime" productions.

Pierce Brosnan is Irish.

I don't know where "DreamTime" comes into anything.

Anyway, they are expanding beyond just producing movies for Pierce and getting into TV and stuff so its nice because I should be getting a good bunch of hands-on experience and I love TV so that's good. I just started so still getting familiar with all the projects they got going on - will keep y'all posted.


Thursday night I have a pretty interesting class called "The Business of Representation" - its a business class taught by a TV agent at CAA - Creative Artists Agency.

CAA is to the representation game what Hitchcock was to suspense. They kick ass.

So, its been a really fun and interesting class, had some AMAZING guests in, real big players in movies and entertainment. One week we had the lawyer who brokered the big merger between William Morris Agency and Ari Emanuel's Endeavor. Another week was music mogul LA Ried and just last week we had a manager whose client list includes Bill Maher and Zach Galifianakis. Real nice inside baseball type stuff. Plus, we actually meet at the agency which is pretty sweet.



That's their fancy office in Century City...the inside is not too different from the super modern slick look that Ari's agency has in ENTOURAGE. A classmate had the best comment when we sat down at the giant marble conference table - "This place is like the Death Star".

I would not be surprised if some of the upper level agents had the ability to choke their assistants from 6 feet away....

That night I actually split class and met with some classmates who I've been working on a pretty exciting new movie idea with. I don't know if I've mentioned it on the blog at all - we've been keeping it pretty quiet just cause we really like the concept - but I think I can offer some insight into it.....on Friday's post.

Which will come on Sunday.

I know it doesn't make sense, but, just run with me on this...kapeash?

mk

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"Week" Sauce: Monday / Tuesday

Man, I really need to stop making blog promises, or "blogasises", I just can't seem to keep to 'em.

But, got a pretty good reason - last night I didn't get to post cuz I was a bit wiped from attending the 2nd annual Chicago-LA Link event: a little shindig for entertainment industry-types in LA with hometown roots in Chicago. I got to go last year and it was pretty awesome; year two did not disappoint.

Lou Malnatti's, Portillos and Eli's Cheesecake were just a few of the food highlights I had the pleasure to sample. Oh, and a number of notable and slightly more"under-the-radar" Chicago peeps were there. Without going into too much detail - had a few drinks, met a couple of new friends / contacts, and had a perfectly valid excuse to blow off my Monday classes!

Anyway, not much else to report on RE Monday since I kinda took the day off besides the event...not to be confused with "THE EVENT", NBC's "We pretend this is the next LOST but secretly hopes it just lasts slightly longer than HEROES".

Tuesday kicks off with screne writing class in the AM, a class where we only work on different types of scenes rather than focus on a whole script.

Its fun , easy, and requires a minimum of commitment.... so its essentially like a one-night stand of screenwriting.

Tuesday night is usually something really great b/c I've got Advanced Producing class, which is taught be a current vice president of Development at Fox Searchlight - a company that is pretty much as good as it gets when it comes to indie films.

Bottom line: if you've seen a movie with an equal amount of sadness and humor with great acting performances and a notable lack of fighting space robots and fat-guy-in -a-waterslide jokes, that's Fox Searchlight.

Anyway, our guest tonight was Shonda Rhimes, a screenwriter that is best known for creating a hit show on ABC...not LOST (2nd refernence in one post? I really do have to go baaaaaack".)

No, she created a show that actually got higher ratings than LOST and is still on the air- Grey's Anatomy.

Now, I've got to come clean and say I've never seen more than 5 minutes of Grey's pilot BUT Shondra was amazing to listen to. I've made no secret for my love of the wonderful world of television and gotta say there was nothing better than listen to the creator / exec producer of one a top show recount her path and experience which included an MFA from good ole USC!

Always happy to see an alum that doesn't have to worry about student loan payments!

That'll be it for now, had a late-night webisode meeting at a bar and have an early morning webisode writing sesh at a coffeehouse.

After listening to Shondra recount her 18 hour days I will say I don't mind them at all, I just can't wait for the day to get PAID for 'em.

Or just free movie channels....I'd....I'd settle.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Week in the Life: SUNDAY

Hey, so in an attempt to try and keep bloggin with a bit more regularity, kind of like writers' Metamucil, I'm going to try and go through a week and do a blog post every day.

They're gonna be quick. Sometimes I get so set on trying to write some brilliant piece of prose and it takes an hour or whatever and then I end up taking three weeks off cuz i dont want to spend an hour writing this each day, but I figure if I start timing myself I may just get a decent update out without having to channel my inner Steinbeck.

Anyway, here goes....

Busy Sunday - the biggest time hog today was for a webisode that I'm going to be working on for a, wait for it, webisode class.

Its a new thing at USC, finally getting on to that "Internet" thing, only took a decade or two.

I guess the big delay on offering a class with web-centric content is that USC was wondering if web shows are "good enough" for their often hi-falootin' curriculum.

While, I've had my doubts about how good it really is to be successful when it comes to web series - ever heard of Clark and Michael? Chad Vader? The Office: The Mentor? - if so, kudos, because that's more webisode knowledge than I ever had before googling the whole notion for research.

BUT, I do think it can be a good way to make a name or get noticed or produce something that can show off some talent. It can also be a way to make money.

$! $! $$$$$$$$!

Maybe. If you get Old Spice to sponsor it, or something.

Anyway, the webisode that I am creating, writing, producing, etc with some classmates is tentatively entitled "THE SIN BIN".

Its about a Chicago Blackhawks fan who sells his soul to see the Hawks win the Cup. When they do, a sexy demon from hell takes his cute girlfriend away, and the fan must team up with another sexy demon to rescue his girlfriend before its too late, defeating all kinds of zombies and vampires and such along the way!

So, its like DAMN YANKEES meets ZOMBIELAND meets DANTES INFERNO. Meets the NHL NETWORK.

Pretty fun stuff.

We're going to be shooting the last two weekends in October, and I spent 4 hours in auditions today, plus a production meeting to figure out how we're going to bring these crazy ideas to the fruition in just two weeks.....

After all that, decided to "unwind" by going to ESPN Zone in downtown LA to watch the BEARS. Two problems - ESPN Zone is a overpriced, overhyped, money-grubbing excuse for a sports bar (made worse by being in LA) AND the BEARS were absolutely horrible...that o-line was so disgusting to look at I'm surprised the FCC didn't make NBC blur those sacks out...children could have been watching!

Well, thats it. Already been writing for + 20 minutes. Trying to keep it short and sweet. I wish I didn't have to be so long win-

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Best of Times and the Worst of Times: BIRTHDAY EDITION

So I thought it might be fun, since today is my something-somethingth birthday, to share a brief look back at what I can pretty well point to my "Best" and "Worst" birthdays.

I do mean best and worst actual days, not "parties near or around", which puts OKTOBERFEST out of the running.

THE BEST

Unilaterally, unquestionably, September 27, 2003 - my 19th birthday. I attended a double header at Wrigley Field in which the Chicago Cubs played the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was me, my dad, and Mike and Rob. The Cubs won both games of the double header which, combined with a LOSS by the Houston Astros, made the Cubs Central Division Champs.

The sun came out just as it was setting (it'd been a partly cloudy day) and the team ran around the field, spraying champagne on the bleacher bums. We cheered. They cheered.

It was my birthday. It was perfect. Hopes were higher than the Sears Tower.

Then we beat the Braves and played the Marlins and some shit went down that I don't want to talk about.

Which is actually a perfect segue to the.....

THE WORST

I don't know exactly what year it was, how old I was turning... I know it was one of the first few years we moved onto Montclair. So, 5 to 7 range I'm guessing.

My parents - wonderful, generous, loving people that they are - secured a dragon-shaped moon walk (big bouncy thing) for my birthday party. It was going to be awesome.

The guys came that morning and blew it up for the party that was to occur later that afternoon. Once finished, it was beautiful.... a sight to behold. A whole jumpy-dragon thing, all for me.

Too excited to wait, me and I believe some neighbors, guessing Dietzler, decided to preemptively go for a jump. And we did. And it was fun.

I was having the time of life, laughing and jumping - what a fun party this would be!

However, I started jumping a bit close to the entrance (a thin screen veil) and before you know it I was airborne and clear of the dragon.

I hit the lawn hard and, I think for the first time in my life, blacked out.

When I came to, I had the wind knocked out of me and was scared beyond belief.

As soon as friends and family came to my attention and made sure I was okay, I got as far away from that f#%*ing dragon as possible.

I think I stayed in Joey's room throughout the whole party, so that I could watch all my friends have fun on the dragon that nearly took my life.

Only came out for cake.

Miserable.



Oh well. Happy Birthday!


(to me)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Playing Catch Up

Yes, much like the slowly fading White Sox in the AL Central, I am finding myself in the unfortunate position of having to make up for many weeks of blog-neglect.

But the Twitter feed is kinda cool, right? Kind of like little blog' d'oeuvres before the main course?

(I am really enjoying this Twitter thing, BTW, and I'll explain why later this or another post)

I guess I've been procrastinating for so long mostly because there's SO MUCH to talk about and I wanted to make sure I could devote some significant time to at least graze what I've been up to.

Like I mentioned before, the big, monstrous project that cast a giant shadow over my summer like a spaceship from my favorite blockbuster ever was THE LEPIDOCTOR. The graduate thesis film that shot for ten days, had over 30 people on set everyday, and had a budget over $30,000. Compared to all the other projects I've done, this was Godzilla coming ashore.

Not to that it was a bad thing, just that it was big. This thesis film I produced this summer was one of the largest projects I've ever been a part of, and by far the biggest and most complex I've ever produced. I learned a semester's worth of information in less than one month - and not just the specific stuff like "How to Get a Film Permit in Pasadena" or "Where Do you park the cars of over 50 cast, crew and extras on a campus while 8,000 college freshman move in?"....that was an especially fun one.

But I definitely learned a lot about planning and managing a large scale production. I also became familiar behind the wheel of some rather large cargo vans and trucks. You learn very quickly why the TEAMSTERS are such a big part of the movie industry - because you've got all these trucks, carrying lighting gear, props, tables and chairs, etc and SOMEBODY has to drive them. Of course, in a student film, it ends up being the producer who is insured ie: me. I must say, though, I did enjoy my temporary time as a transo-guy. Definitely could have been a trucker in another life....or later in this one.

But yeah, overall THE LEPIDOCTOR taught me about problem solving, management, expecting the unexpected, endurance, and - perhaps most revealing - how many McGriddles it takes to keep a producer waking up at 5 am or earlier during a shoot. [The answer is FIVE McGriddles over a 10-day shoot - and I'm still alive!]

I also worked with and met a lot of great people, made new friends, and might have made an enemy with a USC film school alum from 1948.

Reminds me...I have an apology card to write.....

Anyway, barely got to breathe after we wrapped because we were already one day into the first week of classes when we had our last day. The first week is always a mess because I'm in some classes I don't want to be in and am waitlisted for other classes and all everybody does when you see them is want to go drinking.

Then I had a wedding in Ohio.

So for the past two weeks I've been doing essentially what I've done in this post now: catching up. Paying parking tickets from before the Blackhawks won the cup and cleaning new species of mold out of the neglected regions of our apartment (don't worry - everything is clean now).

There's also been some ch-ch-ch-changes: the apartment has a new roommate [Joe], USC has a new campus center, and I have a new pair of socks.


Okay, I may also have a brand new kick-ass completely awesome computer with complete HD editing capacity and a spectacular 1080i screen....but we'll get into that later.

But hey, after being on my feet for what seemed like the entire month of August, those socks were DAMN comfortable. Like my toes were drinking scotch or something....

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Back .....and Better than Ever?

So, yes: I completely missed August.

But hey: I wasn't just sitting around playing Chutes and Ladders and eating Skittles - I had a tiny little 10-day thesis shoot to produce.

Plus register and start classes.

Plus go to Ohio for a wedding.

Plus end all major combat operations in Iraq.


Okay, that last one I had very little to do with BUT STILL.

Anyway, school's back and when classes start up I'm usually a bit better at keeping this up-to-date. I've got some fun stories from the thesis shoot I hope to share.

In the meantime, I have added a super hip (for 2008) new feature for the blog:

MY TWITTER ACCOUNT!

Now, I only just reactivated my account today after not having used it for a year, but I'm thinking the twitter updates [TOP LEFT] --------->

can provide little "mini-blogs" for when I don't have time to sit down and write a more complete and competent composition.

So, yes: MORE TO FOLLOW! ENJOY TWITTER IN THE MEANTIME!

mjk

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

one. post. per. month.

its a new idea i'm toying with...kind of a retro-throwback to the Civil War days when information was exchanged by monthly letters written in long-winded colloquial, shockingly violent and unintentionally racist language...

"Dear Momma,

Today we ran amuck on a collection of two-hundred Confederate soldiers and gutted most of thiem like chickens on Flag Day. We had so many bodies that we couldn't cross the bridge, so I asked some strong-muscled field-working negroes help us push the tattered corpses into the river. The Injuns who lived down stream got angry, but we told 'em we would fill our canteens with their children's blood if they didn't let us proceed on to, God-willing, win this Civil War. Hope the family is well; give Chipper a carrot for me!

Love, Billy"


Those were the days.

But yes, I have fallen into my usual summer trap of neglecting the blog. I suppose I could talk all about the thesis film that I am co-producing. Its the directing thesis of a USC student who's a few semesters ahead of me - he's actually the DP who made my Coke commercial look oh-so gorgeous back in '09. Its a fun project and learning a lot about what it takes to put a bigger-scale project together. Budget of over $30K, semi-professional crew that will number over twenty people, 10 days of shooting.

Needless to say it has pretty much been munching up most of my time.

I could go into more detail about the film...OR I could be lazy and just direct you to our website - - - - - > www.thelepidoctor.com

I've also been working a bunch to earn a little bit more green this summer. I'm continuing to work at the production office but also been assisting for a summer class - Music Video Production.

Now, as most will know, especially if you've read certain blog posts, I've never been an encyclopedia of musical expertise. But I took this job just so I could expand the musical horizons and learn a thing or two about the making a good music video.

Its been fantastic, because I essentially get to take the class without that added burden of making something in a very short time and I actually get paid to watch music videos and have video directors come in and talk.

Seen some great vids and its really made me want to try and shoot one next semester. Even though the one thing that I've heard consistantly is that you really can't make a career as a music video director, but its a great calling card and just a sh*tload of fun to do. You can pretty much do whatever you want in a music video and if it works - great!

Kind of like film school....

Anyway, as always, will try to keep updating this ol' thing. I guess right now have been so focused on figuring out how to move beyond film school that reporting on the details of still being in film school is starting to feel like old news.

HOPEFULLY I will start to have really exciting stuff to write endlessly about soon but in the meantime I'll pass along the more interesting points of still being in the Trojan Army as often as possible.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

From Classic to Cup

So, while watching the past 72 hours unfold via phone, TV, and internet, I've had a lot of time to bemoan my current location in sunny California and decided I should try and turn my self-pity into something pithy and share a bit about why I'm so happy the Hawks are Stanley Cup Champions, even though, I will OPENLY ADMIT, the Mark of five years ago might not have felt as I do now. It's been a crazy story spanning a few years years, lots of games, and three time zones in which I think I have changed and grown, as have many Chicagoans, to be a true fan of hockey and the Chicago Blackhawks.

It was while driving on one of many trips between Glen Ellyn and Chicago while shooting "The Station" in the fall of 2007 that I heard one of my favorite Chicago sports radio personalities, Dan McNeil - of "Mac, Jurko, and Harry" - take time out from talkin' Cubs' playoff prospects to discuss for a few moments his feelings about the death of Bill Wirtz.

It was crazy, because the Cubs were playing pretty good baseball, and all Mac could do was barely contain his joy about the fact that the long-time owner of the Chicago Blackhawks was dead. "Sorry for the family, happy for the city" pretty well summed up his feelings.

I remembered that moment as the weeks went by (and the Cubs, as they're prone to do, lost in a humiliating sweep) and I saw the winds of change blow around Madison Avenue, just as Mac had predicted. Rocky Wirtz took control and a new marketing campaign - RED RISING - pushed a new image for the Hawks and the team's new stars, Kane and Toews, and became the PERFECT analogy for what would be a massive change in Chicago sports.

It was the start of a big change for me, a guy who answered "Couldn't care less" when a 2004 ESPN.com poll question asked "Do you miss the NHL?" during the NHL lockout.

I cringe thinking of that now... how young and stupid I was! But can you blame me? Mac was right - Bill Wirtz was a TERRIBLE owner and the Blackhawks often found themselves listed as one of the worst pro sports franchises on the continent. And, as a kid growing up in Chicago in the 1990s, I wonder what sports team / figure was going to capture my imagination?

Hint: NOT Curtis Enis....




CUT TO 2008, Cubs Marketing guru McDonough is named President of the Blackhawks and the Hawks are tapped to face the rival Red Wings in the Winter Classic, which would be my own magnificent introduction to live Blackhawks hockey. (I'd been to a game or two before, but that was the "Couldn't Care Less" Era)

But, seriously, how's this for a way to kick off a fan-team relationship: Wrigley Field, New Year's Day 2009, a rooftop with all the beer and mashed potatoes a man could want - and at center stage an age old rivalry between the Red Wings and the mighty Blackhawks. It was an amazing time, one that I didn't really cover here on the blog because it was during the "Dark Ages" of blogdom that happen when I go back to Chicago.

It was PERFECT - (sans for the final score, 6-4 Detroit) - the cold weather and the fun, boozy, sports-crazed atmosphere of Wrigleyville acted as the ideal cure for my maLAise from the City of Angles - notoriously "too cool" for real sports fandom or daytime highs below 50 degrees.





As 2009 got going I strove to become a better fan. I attended a Kings-Hawks game at Staples with some USC buddies and we started to form our own West Coast Hockey Club as a bit of anti-LA rebellion. Is there anything less "LA" than hockey? It's cold, the players are usually far from pretty (mullets, scars, and missing teeth) and with the so much drama happening in the last period its really hard to "Dodger" the end of the game.



The Hawks lost to the Kings, but it was a blast to watch and I was proud to be representin' CHI in a whole new way than just wearing my Cubs hat to Angels games.

Watched as much of the 2009 Playoffs as time would allow and saw the Hawks disappointing fall to the Red Wings, but all could agree that the team had played exceptionally well considering where they were coming from. Red was rising. Chicago took note.

As a Winter Classic took priority in Boston in 2010, the Blackhawks were rolling beautifully along. Got to see the Hawks in-person just once this season, but it was a great game. With seats just a few rows off the glass on Marian Hossa bobble-head night, dad, my brothers and I got to see a great game between the Hawks and Anaheim Ducks in which Hossa scored 2...falling just short of a hat trick on his own bobble-head night but player of the game nonetheless.



After the games we headed through some blistering cold to the warming glow of the Billy Goat Tavern for beers, cheeseburgers, and hopeful talk about how great the team is and what could lie ahead for the exciting young team.

Returning to LA, the hopes got even higher as I watched the Hawks split up and play for national pride in the Olympics with my ever-growing West Coast Hockey Club. After watching the amazing two USA-Canada games and eventually suffering some American defeat, I couldn't help but feel more civic than national pride, as I knew two of the best players in the Medal games would be returning to Chicago to seek a different type of hardware than a mere gold or metal disc...the CUP was all that was left for Toews, Kane and the rest.

With a little bit more free time this semester end than last, I got to follow the Hawks through every series, and even made it back to Chicago for the victory against San Jose.

Chicago was great, and no moment summed up my own grown-up Blackhawks fandom and the complete transformation of Chicago to HAWKeytown, than heading to the Billy Goat for Game 2 of the Finals in hopes of getting a ticket.

Tickets were as scarce as Cubs playoff victories, and my buddy and I were S.O.L., but it was such a testament to how hockey-crazy the city had gone. So we sat at the bar, pounding Old Styles and cheeseburgers, cheering on the Madmen from Madison Street, and I couldn't help but think back to when we went to the Billy Goat after the Ducks-Hawks game that winter and how far the team, the city, and myself had come.

Now that the Cup has come to Chicago - and I won't even pretend that my little LA-based party of one is even 1/1000000th the good time that is being had in the City of Champions right now - I decided the best way I could spend my time was to look back and track the amazing ride that I've had in just two years to get to this point now - getting choked up like JR and streaming CHI sports radio for so long I'm hearing SportsCenter updates every twenty minutes in my head at night.

Its been a one-of-a-kind journey from Classic to Cup for myself and the Hawks, and even though I haven't been able to witness the bulk of it in person in Chicago, I've been able to enjoy this ride in my own, strange, transcontinental way. Even with my family and friend Hawks fans back home, I don't know if I'd be quite the Blackhawks fan - and I do believe that even after just two years I can call myself a true fan - without my West Coast Hockey buddies to watch and talk shop with out here on LaLa Land.

I'd like to say I wouldn't have it any other way but that might not be entirely true.... but I've already got the perfect solution.

Let's just do this again next year!

I'll make sure to plan more accordingly next time.

CONGRATULATIONS CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS - STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS!!!!!!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Final(s) Countdown

Well, it has been quite a May so far. You might even call it A-MAY-ZING.

You could. I wouldn't.

But I would call it busy. A lot has gone down in the weeks since a bomb scare at USC forced me to BS with my friends in Subway across from campus rather than BS with my friends on campus, but I won't get into too much yet. Let's go back FINALS WEEK.

Ba-ba-bum! (cue scary music)

Actually, finals week isn't all that scary in film school. Busy? Yes. A lot of work? You bet. But scary in the "If I don't stay up all night and cram I'll never be a doctor/lawyer/marine biologist!" way? Nope.

Its just deadlines - everything's due. I had a rough cut of my film due for 533 directing class and a final version of my feature script for screenwriting. I did have an actual Blue Book-style final exam for my critical studies class, but that's not so frightening. I mean, its a CLASS where we WATCH MOVIES. I sweated it out over way too many Ion quizzes in high school chemistry to get scared by a test on MOVIES.

Anyway, for the film I was shooting, tentatively entitled "The AK", I am working with an editor and between our schedules we were only able to get together a rough assembly of the footage for my class.

Essentially, the assembly is when the editor simply puts the clips together in order with no real editorial decisions being made. They're usually pretty dull and just help give a rough idea about what was shot.

That said, the assembly went over very well in my class. People laughed at the funny stuff and seemed genuinely interested at the more dramatic scenes. Now, its was still very long and much work to be done, but was really happy to get mostly positive feedback on what we shot.

Anyway, its been a while since I've rolled up on MGH mostly because almost immediately following my final final exam (the blue book movie one) we had the 547 documentary screenings at USC. And as, a former 547 producer and with one of my best buds as one of this semester's directors, I had a formal obligation to go and get drunk and have a great time.

The doc screenings kicked off a pretty crazy week of end-of-semester screenings and parties that carried through for almost seven straight days. It was kind of excessive, but ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKE JACK A DULL BOY

Am I right?

Hopefully I'll have time to write more about the week o' fun and screenings before returning to the Windy City.

Either way, its getting kinda crazy because after this past string of finals I'll only have ONE MORE finals week in December before being done with film school forever. Holy crap: I'm going to be done in December! There's no way I'll take another semester in Spring of '11!


OR....WILL I?


?


Ba-ba-bum! (cue scary music)....

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bomb threat on USC campus today!

Don't worry, I'm fine.

As per USC Cinema School emergency protocol, I dove into the closest refrigerator I could find.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Keep Your Friends Close...

Ah, yes. It's been a long time coming but it seems whenever its finally time to start actual filming days it's like after that long, slow part of the Jurassic Park ride (or any roller coaster...I guess) where you've been clicking away towards the top and finally reaching the inevitable Tyrannosaurus Rex / splash drop.

Hey, if you can find a better analogy I'd like to see you try.

Last Friday I took that plunge and kicked off the first weekend of filming for my film with a bang. My producer worked some mojo so that we were able to shoot at a "subway car" set at CBS TV studios in Studio City - a smaller lot that, among other things, was known being home to 'Seinfeld' from 1989-1998.

Its wasn't an exact Chicago 'L' match but we did the best we could, and I think once I drop in that "The next stop will be ...Belmont" it will be all the more convincing.

Anyway, here's some pics - I will let you be the judge.




The location was great, but the real stars of the day were the amazing crew and, of course, the 'stars' - my actors.

The real joy of this project has been that I have had plenty of time to put my cast and crew together and I've been able to get a lot of quality friends to help me out, both as crew and actors.

It's nice b/c in the early days of USC you were just getting to know people and, for certain classes, you had partners and crew assigned to you. Finally I'm able to collaborate on stuff with my really good friends.

It also made me realize that one of the reasons I like this business. More and more this semester I've realized the real joy of collaborating. I've found I'm a much better writer when I can bounce ideas of others and projects are just more fun when you've got a drinking buddy as your co-writer or producer.

I mean, hell, the whole reason I wanted to get into movies in the first place is that I enjoyed making some really amazing pieces of cinema from the 'Red and Yellow' Era.

Ahhh, 'Chhk Chhk Boom' - still has more entertainment value than a good chunk of what gets cranked out of USC. - "Don't mess with Texas."

Also, I've been able to work with family on this project. My cousin Adam, who any NBA fan would recognize from the omnipotent Kobe/LeBron Vitamin Water ad last year, and I have finally been able to get together and do some cuz-laboration and that, too, has been just the best.

Yep, pretty much in the very busy home stretch for the semester now and have been very happy with the way 2010 has gone so far. Starting to set up some things for the summer and looking forward to a trip back to CHI soon.

And one more thing...

HOW 'BOUT THEM BLACKHAWKS?!

Let's just hope they can keep this winning thing going....they're probably the best bet our fair city has to raise a championship banner anytime soon. Now, I'm not saying that the genius of drafting a Benet QB (Bears) or putting your ace in the bullpen ($#*! Cubs) isn't going to work, I'm just saying....

.....

..

...


I don't know how to finish that sentence without bullsh*tting.

Go 'Hawks!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

42

Today is one of those rare occasions where I will be proudly sporting some Dodger Blue in lieu of my regular Cubs gear.

Course, this is the Brooklyn Dodgers I'm talking about, and there's only one player that would ever get me to wear the colors that is now associated with beach balls and Manny Ramirez, and that's good ole' number 42.

Major League Baseball started a new tradition three years ago that I've come to enjoy every season more and more: the official declaration of April 15th as "Jackie Robinson Day".

It combines two of my favorite pastimes: baseball and post-WWII American history.

I don't get into it too often, but post-war American history is one of my favorite topics ever. I'm taking a critical studies class that deals with post-war cinema and its been just awesome. The fifties and sixties just had so much goin' on: Cold War... Kennedy... cheap, affordable hamburgers at lightning speed...

In addition to shooting the first two days of my directing project this weekend, I also need to churn out a 12-15 page paper on "The Manchurian Candidate". Though the timing isn't ideal (course, that's mostly my own fault due to procrastination) I haven't been this excited about writing a paper on a movie since my "Independence Day" paper back at the wind-swept campus of LUC.

If you haven't seen "Manchurian", you are missing out...especially if you like cracking jokes about Joe McCarthy or HUAC. It's a great Cold War-era flick, and I've been uncovering some pretty cool info on some behind the scenes stuff in my research. For instance, there was great trepidation about making the controversial book into a movie in the political climate of 1962 and Sinatra, the star and a producer on the film, visited Kennedy at Hyannisport to test the water. The first thing JFK said when Frank brought "Manchurian" up was simply what other stars were going to be in it.

Anyway, one thing I'm not happy about ever since going to film school is that I haven't fed my appetite for history all too well. But today's ubiquitous "42"s in baseball are making me think I need to pick up some literature on Mr. Robinson to read over the summer.

Really, I need to brush up on any kind of historical nonfiction reading this summer. Though, I guess there's no rush. Once I graduate at the end of 2010 and can't find a job I'll have PLENTY of time to read all I want!

Yeah...in all likelihood, on Jackie Robinson Day 2011, I'll be out in front of Dodger Stadium, scalping tickets... becoming a full-time scalper being the only "steady income stream" I could find in the months after finishing at USC.

"I got Loge level... I got upper deck!...I got bleachers! I also got an MFA and will write a feature-length script! ....comedy, drama, horror! You want it, you got it!"

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

It's a marathon, not a sprint...right?

...but if you're running a marathon you sure don't want to start it off by stubbing your toe, or, say GIVING UP EIGHT RUNS IN 1 AND 1/3 INNINGS!!!!??!?!?!

Sorry, but its kinda hard to control my Zambrano-esque rage against, well, Zambrano. And the entire Cubs organization.

BUT, as many Cubs-apologists will say in the wake of yesterday's disaster: it's just one of 162 games in the season. I guess I'd have to go ahead and include myself in that delusional division of Wrigley faithful. It is only one loss.

Still though, its not that we lost its HOW we lost: in such apocalyptic spectacular fashion, in the FIRST GAME of the Cubs' supposed "Year One" - which was the Cubs' Marketing Dept attempting to lamely reset the franchise like 'Batman Begins' or something. (Though I don't know what was worse: the Cubs' 2009 season or "Batman & Robin" starring George Clooney and the current Governor of California)

Anyway, the baseball season is a marathon and you can't let every loss get you down, or ride too highly on any wins. It's funny, because many people who I've heard from while out here have said the same thing about the film industry.

It's a pretty apt comparison, when you look at it. Sure their are those who've been consistently successful for years...Spielberg... Scorsese... the Yankees... but this business has its ups and downs like a baseball season.

Anyway, the long-term up-and-down nature of trying to work in entertainment is something that's been on my mind quite a bit this semester. 2010 so far has had it low points and high points, big losses and little victories.

Might have a pretty big victory at hand this week. For my 533 short film that's coming up in a week or so, that I mentioned was set in Chicago, and also mentioned has a scene set on an L car, I am very close to being able to film the scene on an actual "subway car" set at CBS television studios in Studio City.

Not 100% yet, but going to the lot this Friday to scope it out and will hopefully know for sure sometime after that.

That would certainly be a reason to raise the blue "W" flag, wouldn't it?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Good CHI-brations

Alright. Well, I'm back in LA (have been for a while) and guess its time to get back Los Angeles hobbies, which include blogging on MGH, wearing sunglasses more than is remotely necessary, and ignoring the giant cloud of pollution that hangs over this crazy city on a daily basis!

So, pretty much the first order of business since I've been back on the West Coast is preparing for my intermediate directing project that I'm planning to shoot the last two weekends of April.

For the intermediate directing class, called 533 (again with the numbers!), we are supposed to shoot a "sequence of scenes" - essentially a collection of 3-5 scenes that link together to form a cohesive arc. A simple exercise for class.

That's what we are SUPPOSED to do. However, for many reasons that I won't get into, the class has expanded a bit and people essentially shoot 10-20 min short films that they have high hopes for. People get all kinds of crew and equipment and the whole thing becomes kind of a big deal.

Anyway, I have slightly more modest expectations for my film this semester. It's an excerpt from a feature-length script I have been writing. The script (for those who I didn't talk to this about over green beer while in Chicago) is called "Tom Needs a Drink".

The basic hook is that it's about a guy - "Tom" - who, coming off a stressful week at the office, wants nothing more than to just go out for a night of drinking with one of his best friends. However, Tom's simple dream gets more complicated when a couple of girls that the guys knew in college come to town and a series of unfortunate events keep Tom from getting even a sip of alcohol.

The story is set in Chicago and I'm trying to give the whole thing a "one crazy night" structure in the vein of AFTER HOURS, HAROLD AND KUMAR, or SUPERBAD. The feature script is.... well....let's just say its a work-in-progress.

BUT I've lifted some of my favorite scenes from the feature script to make a pretty cool short film that I'll be directing for my "533".

Anyway, I've been casting and getting crew together for the last few days. It's been especially kind of interesting because I'm going to ATTEMPT to do a little recreation of our fair city of Chicago in the "chameleon" city of Los Angeles. There is nothing better than shooting on location in Chicago, but trying to do "LA for Chicago" has made me think more about what makes Chi-town so distinctive.

Just starting the location process now so will keep you posted on how it all goes, and if I have even the slightest chance of being able to pull this off.

Oh, why did I write for a scene to take place on an "L" car? I'm already screwed!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

FUNNY BUSINESS

Greetings from beautiful terminal 76D!

Yes, its been a busy two weeks and I’ve finally found some time to type away since my flight home’s been delayed, not because of snow or terrorist threat, but by “Air Traffic Control”. I’d really like one of my pilot buddies to shine some insight as to what that means, because right now I’m assuming it’s the airports way of saying “the boys in the tower had a little too much fun at LAXXX last night”.

In addition to being delayed, I’m also typing along with glittery fingers. My hands were feeling a little dry after getting through security and I decided to swing into the BodyWorks and steal a little moisturizer…it was only after I’d applied two generous amounts from the in-store sampler that I discovered I had used the “shimmering” coconut cream. So now my hands look like I spent all night making a glitter-covered birdfeeder out of popsicle sticks. Or it looks like I had too much fun at LAXXX last night.

Anyway: last two weeks = busy. The past two weekends I was knee-deep in shooting, as I was producing a friend’s short film for our Directing Intensive class (aka 533). We’re pulling a little quid pro quo, as he’ll be producing my 533 short film in a few weeks. Just a little scheme we cooked up in Sundance: no big deal.

Besides that, though, one of the more interesting things to go down in this past fortnight was my appearing on stage at Upright Citizens Brigade Theater for a little improvised comedy.

You see for the last couple of weeks I’ve been taking improv classes through UCB’s training center my class is IMPROV 101, to be exact). At UCB, when a class finishes an 8-week run of classes the “graduation” is a live comedy show for anyone who cares to watch (and pay $5).

The show went really well. I was really impressed with my classmates and even my own performance was a bit better than I thought it’d be (though I did have a bit of a rocky start). Our show was supposed to start with a suggestion from the audience, which spurns a “monologue” from one of the improvisers. The rest of the show is then the improvisers devising scenes from the funnier parts of the monologue. Okay, so our suggestion was “family meat”.

What the f***?

I’m not very good at monologues and didn’t want to kick things off, but a suggestion like that kind of threw everyone, but I had one idea pop into my head and ran with it, because I happen to know a FAMILY that sells MEAT.

So I told a little story about my favorite neighbors who own a farm and chatted a bit about some other goings on of certain cul-de-sac in good ole’ GE. It wasn’t the most coherent story, but I put out enough material to get the show going.

Like I said, the whole show ended up going pretty well AND was pretty well attended – which was a real nice surprise since our show started at 4:30pm last Sunday…when usually there’d be nothing else happening except that LAST Sunday there was a tiny event going on at 5 o’clock in Hollywood…some kind of 82nd Academy Awards or something. Whatever.

Yeah, our tiny little improv show had to go up against arguably the biggest entertainment event of the year. But we still had a great showing, and I was especially touched that a big group of my film school buddies, to whom the Oscars are essentially the Superbowl, attended.

So, yeah, the whole UCB experience was really good and I think I’m going to continue it to level 201, 301 and beyond. I must I am proud also because with my UCB class I have now been schooled in the three great comedy/improv institutions: Upright Citizens Brigade, iO (aka improvOlympic), and The Second City.

Ever since my amazing summer 2005 internship at Second City, I have been a devout follower of the United Church of Improv and Satire (if there actually was such an institution....of cours it would probably have to ridicule itself).

There are few things that I take absolutely seriously, but comedy is one of them. And these venerable institutions have been serving up comedy for twenty, thirty, and sixty years (UCB, iO, and Second City, respectively). Of course, it should come as no surprise (to those that don't already know) that all these places come from Chicago. [Second City and iO are still based there, and UCB in New York came out of improvisers from iO]

I could drone on and on about the whole history of improv and its many amazing techniques and games and legends and rising stars but I'm getting increasingly more miserable as this f***ing plane to Chicago gets increasingly delayed....why didn't I fly out yesterday to get back to CHI in time for kegs and eggs?

I can't sit here contently anymore. Its the Saturday before St. Patrick's, I've got my green shirt on, I need a goddamned drink!

(which, ironically, is the loose basis for a feature script I'm working on. life imitating art I suppose)

Anyway, that's it. See you all in Chicago, hopefully with a drunken smile, double fisting green beers.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Gone "Hollywooder"

About a week ago I took a big step in my journey from well-mannered, middle-class guy from Chicago to becoming a big fat Hollywood phony.

Or should I say, iPhony?

Yes....due to some recent SIM card troubles with my trusty ol' Blackjack II, I recently went in search of a new phone. Took a look at the Blackberry, which is great, but as I saw many of my friends who had joined the ranks of iPhoneNation, I came to a moment where I could not help but hear the voice of the wise old Rafiki....

"It is time...."

And, like Simba must embrace who he is and roar for all the kingdom, I felt it was time that I embrace my sleek, hip, Hollywood lifestyle and purchase an iPhone.

It's the Circle of Life....

The damn thing is just so damn easy to use which, for a technologically impaired person like myself, is a must. Though it wasn't easy...there's something about the whole Apple operation that feels like its wrong. I had a similar feeling of uncertainty when I got my MacBook almost two years ago and have had nothing but satisfaction since then. Still, I kind of felt like a "sellout", but I went ahead with it anyway, like all the animals of the plains were waiting for me to make the purchase.

But after just one week, I gotta say: it's awesome.

And I've started to try to change my own impression of Apple. Once it seemed like the enemy until I realized something. Apple is an AMERICAN company. Apple should be no different than McDonald's or Coca-Cola when it comes to a brand that deserves my loyalty. I guess that since Apple is a little newer in my life that true dedication is still going to take some time.

(Speaking of American, how bout that hockey game? Was there anybody NOT watching it? I'm disappointed as an American but encouraged as a Chicagoan as Toews and Kane both shined in big pressure situations... )


Anyway, like I said, the iPhone purchase does feel like another item on the checklist of "going Hollywood". Even though tons of people in Chicago clearly carry the cute little pocket computer, its still got that slick "Cupertino, California" feel to it.

I know I certainly feel like a douchebag now that I join the people I used to make fun of. The people who, at any lull at any point in their day will whip that phone out and start facebooking or emailing or playing DrunkSniper or DoodleJump.

I HATE those people - they represent how technology divides us and saps us of real life experiences! What ever happened to enjoying the world around you?! Stopping to smell the ros-

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Sorry. Just wanted to check the latest news on my iPhone's "Variety" app....it seems the cast of "Glee" is going to make a concert tour this May....how 'bout that?


What was I saying?


Ah yes: I love my new iPhone. But enough talking about it. It's my new toy and I'm happy but its time to move on and just let it stand as a quiet reminder that I'm drifting farther and farther away from the anti-cool guy who insisted on getting a landline for the the first two years of college just because I wasn't ready to embrace a cell-only lifestyle.

Anyway, this'll be the first and last of the iPhone related posts. I hope. I promise.

Happy March everyone!





Sent from my iPhone.