Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Monday, December 29, 2008

this sits on a chair in the guest room at my dad's house

I'm not sure what the point of it is exactly, but if it's supposed to scare the crap out of me every time I walk into the room, it's doing the trick nicely.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

my date

I had a date tonight; it was pretty sweet. He took me out to dinner and a movie. We hit Mickey D's for chicken nuggets, and then went to see Bolt. In 3-D, no less, so he got to see how awesome I look in shades:

On the way home, I asked him what his favorite Christmas gift was. He answered immediately, "Legos Star Wars Republic Gunship. And my Legos wristwatch." After a beat, he added, "And the ones you got me."

Friday, December 26, 2008

why the chimes rang

When I was at the Grove Christmas Tree telling Christmas stories with Cubby and Breezy (I feel like Brie deserves a blog nickname too), I was trying to remember the story that my dad used to read to us every Christmas. It was about two brothers who were trying to make it to a church, where only a great offering laid on the alter of the Christ-child would make the Christmas chimes ring. I couldn't remember the story very well, and I was like, "I think one of the boys gets stuck in the snow, and the other one leaves him behind to go to the church... and then... his coin makes the bells ring."

Cubby and Breezy just stared at me. "He leaves his brother behind in the snow? To die?" And I was like, "Yeah, I think... that's what it was." They were like, "That cannot possibly be right."

You'll be pleased to know that it wasn't right, but one of the boys does stay behind in the snow, to help a woman who is about to freeze to death. I forgot that part. My Dad read it again this Christmas, and you can read it here.

After presents, we played with our toys. Sean with his legos:

And me with my new camera:

Thursday, December 25, 2008

the fayetteville food lion would like to wish you and yours a happy kwanzaa

and to tell you and yours that Bud Light is 12.99 for a 24-pack, limit 2.

I'm sitting in the kitchen trying to work on revisions for that writing job I mentioned, and doing my best to ignore the dog, who thinks that I will take her out into the backyard in the rain and play fetch with her if she looks at me like this long enough:

Here's hoping you're all having a very Merry Christmas, and also hoping that you didn't get $400 worth of unauthorized paypal charges on your checking account this morning, like I did.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

they're singing deck the halls, but it's not like christmas at all

My mom just wandered out from her bedroom to see why the living room light was on at 3 in the morning, and found me sitting on the floor, using the sofa as a table and eating potato chips and drinking cherry coke zero while reading blogs of people that I don't know.

Sometimes you don't realize how sad you're being until someone else sees you being sad. Even if it is someone who loves you unconditionally and barely raises an eyebrow at the chips you're scarfing down after you swore you weren't eating any more junk food for the rest of the trip. Although let's face it, you didn't last two minutes after she pulled the little sugar cookies with Christmas trees in the middle out of the oven, anyway, did you?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

ok, good to know

When I was driving the other night somewhere in or near Ohio, and my family was all asleep, the GPS told me to get off of I-77 and take a state road. I wasn't sure that was what I was supposed to do, but I decided not to wake up my dad to ask him, and to just do it. But as soon as I took the exit, he woke up anyway, and said, "What are you doing? Stay on 77 to Cleveland."

Then he turned over to go back to sleep, mumbling, "Even when you're not watching them, you can tell when your kid is doing something wrong."

Monday, December 22, 2008

got this note from vincent

who wanted to cheer me up about the groovy situation:
I cannot repeat to you often enough, boy, that when one is thirty, one is just beginning. Look at the biographies of artists. Even many who had painted from their earliest years changed only then, found their own personality only then. I only ask you to take those things into consideration.

~ Vincent van Gogh
Very encouraging, though I keep asking him not to call me "boy."

Sunday, December 21, 2008

do not go gentle into that groovy night

Friday night the paternal side of my immediate family drove all night to Michigan, braving snow and wind and doughnut pit stops. About midnight I was driving through West Virginia, and everyone else was asleep. I was listening to the radio, very low, and balanced all the way to the front and left, and trying to find a station that wasn't playing either country, gospel, or classic rock. I finally stopped on one that was playing U2's New Year's Day and then Sinead O'Connor's Nothing Compares 2 U. I think Sinead O'Connor and U2 were among the very first batch of cassette tapes (cassette tapes!) that I ever bought when I was trying to grow up and listen to cool music. (Rounding out the list: Janet Jackson, REM, and a band called Icehouse that I bet you don't remember.) And I definitely recorded the video of Nothing Compares 2 U on our beta player (beta player!) and watched it obsessively.

So, I'm driving along, happily listening to Sinead, and a commercial came on. Well, first there was a commercial for Pocahantas Mine (which apparently has underground positions to fill immediately, great benefits) and then there was a commercial for the radio station itself, Groovy 94.1. It went something like, "Don't you hate it when you get into your car and the kids have been messing with the presets, and you turn on the radio, and it sounds like this: [punk guitar riff]? Turn it back to Groovy 94.1! The music from your generation!"

And I realized with horror that I was listening to an oldies station. An oldies station that plays music from my lifetime. An oldies station that not only assumes that I have kids, but assumes that I have kids old enough to listen to crazy rock music that is too loud for my sensitive, decrepit ear drums.

I didn't know what to do. Accept my fate? Change the station to country? Try to find a station playing the Jonas Brothers? I just shut off the radio and pretended it didn't happen, but I'm still feeling a little shaky.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

love and basketball (ok, just basketball)

I nearly slept through my last flight to Fayetteville Wednesday night. I left LAX at 5:30 pm, flew to Salt Lake City, had a five hour layover, flew to Atlanta, then had a two hour layover. I fell asleep waiting for the last flight, thinking the noise of people boarding would wake me up. Instead, I woke up to the sound of a stewardess standing over me, going, "Fayetteville? Fayetteville? Ma'am? Fayetteville?"

They had already closed the gate, but they reopened it for me and I boarded the plane, which was about 3/4 empty. I picked a random seat in the back in an empty row. After a few minutes, a man came walking down the aisle. He stopped in the aisle and stared at me. I figured I must be in his seat, and I kind of felt like, "Are you kidding me, just sit somewhere else." Then I remembered the creepy guy who sat next to me on the flight to Atlanta (who introduced himself to me and shook my hand, then put his other hand on top of mine and asked if he could "catch up with me sometime") and hoped there wasn't going to be a repeat performance. I said, "Am I in your seat?" And he kind of laughed and put his backpack down across the aisle, and said, "Yeah, you're in my seat." Then he turned back to me and went in for a hug, and I think it was about two seconds before contact that I realized he was my high school basketball coach. He was thinner and had a beard! He was hard to recognize! I have a picture of him and my team at home, which I will scan in later.

It was fun to catch up with him. He had just gotten back from six months in Afghanistan, where, he said, his beard was "four fingers long," which is how it's measured there. And I had just been talking about playing basketball a couple of days ago. I loved it, it was my favorite part of high school. That's definitely something I wish I could go back and do again. Guys can play in pickup games, but girls don't really do that. Unless some of you want to. In which case, let's do it. There's a park near my place.

My mom picked me up at the airport and I went home and slept for a few hours, then we got up and drove to Raleigh to pick up my brother Ryan and his wife Rachel, and we all went to Chapel Hill to go to the Carolina-Evansville game.
When my dad first moved to Fayetteville, he opened a surgery practice with a friend from residency who had played center for UNC in the 60s. He is so tall. I definitely remember being pretty old and still only coming up to his waist. And so we became Carolina fans. By "we" I mean Mom and Ryan. And me by attrition.

Ryan was freaking out that we wouldn't get to the game on time. He and Rachel left work early, and Mom and I left at like 2:30 to get to Chapel Hill for a 7:00 game. We parked at the lot, got on the shuttle, where everyone is wearing Carolina Blue (I borrowed a shirt from my mom) and talking to each other like they know each other, and got to the stadium. WHICH WAS NOT OPEN YET. That's how early we were. THIS is how early we were:

The game was sold out because it was the night that UNC forward Tyler Hansborough was poised to beat the record as all-time leading scorer at Carolina, if he scored more than nine points. My mom made a poster ("All I want for Christmas is 9 points" written in her perfect, third-grade teacher cursive,) but they took it away from her in the line to get in. She did manage to smuggle her purse in under her shirt (she didn't want to go through the "search your bag" line) which looked pretty great, with a strap poking up out of her neckline and a big Frankenstein-looking lump on her torso.

Tyler beat the record, of course. And my mom did a little dance to "Jump Around," which was my favorite part of the evening.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

what in the sam hill you yellin' for, george?

Brie and Cubby are over watching It's a Wonderful Life. I've been working on research on a certain post-impressionist painter who cut off a body part (because I got my first for real writing job that is not an arbitration!) but I am taking a break to be Christmasy.

Earlier we walked to the Grove and got hot chocolate and sat on a bench under the big Christmas tree. Brie told a story about the year she and Adam saw Santa Claus in the sky. Cubby told a story about a gift that meant a lot to their family one Christmas. He was sitting in between Brie and me on the bench, and a guy from Crate and Barrel walked by. He looked at us, gave Cubby a nod, and said, "Life is good."

So true, guy from Crate and Barrel. So true.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

sundance, or as my friend katie calls it, hollywood schmoozefest 2009

Now that it's been officially announced, I can say in the blog that Short Term 12, which, as you may remember, is the short film I produced with director Destin Cretton earlier this year, was accepted into Sundance! So in January, I will be off to Utah for a week and a half of doing my two favorite things in the world: networking and standing in lines in the freezing cold.

Monday, December 8, 2008

all i ever get for christmas is blue

If you go to a little college in the middle of an Indiana cornfield named Taylor University, it's practically a rule that you have to have a favorite milkshake at Ivanhoe's, you have to be willing to trample other people for a good seat at Airband, and you have to listen to Over the Rhine.

My friend Heather inducted me into the OTR cult fall of freshman year. I remember riding in her SUV and listening to the first line of Latter Days - "What a beatiful piece of heartache this has all turned out to be, Lord knows we've learned the hard way all about healthy apathy" - and falling in love a little.

I haven't seen them play in a long time, but it seems fitting that when Cubby, Brie, and I went to their show at the Troubadour last night, I saw at least three people from Taylor.

One was a guy who was known as Phubbbbs at Taylor. (I'm not sure I have the number of b's right.) I remember that he drove me an hour to the airport in Indianapolis only to find that I had only brought my student ID and not my license with me. Even in those pre-orange-alert days, a student ID didn't fly (haha) and he drove me all the way back to Taylor to get my license and then all the way back to the airport. And we barely knew each other. That is a nice person.

Another was Brie's and my friend Matt. We saw a couple with a baby standing in the coveted side bench seats above us and thought, "That couple has a baby with them. In a nightclub." And then we realized it was Matt. Karin dedicated a song to them. The baby seemed to enjoy it.

Another was my friend Neville, who I didn't even know at Taylor, but met at Sundance last year. This is apropos of nothing, but Neville made it pretty far on Chinese Idol, which is awesome.

The show was great, although I am old and my back hurt after standing up the whole time.

This clip is not from last night, but this was my favorite song they did, and she's wearing the same dress, so it's practically the same thing. The video quality's pretty poor but you can see the fun cookie-sheet-weird-mallet percussion thing she was doing. If I could have one stupid, selfish wish, it might be to sing like this:

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

tired of the job search? try this!

Seeing as a lot of people are looking for work right now, I thought I would share a little tip I came across in my research today:

All right. There's a thing call the wishing bean - you've heard of them, yessir. Well, I have some at home. I wish I had brung some. Well, anyhow, there's a wishing bean that most of the places has them. It's a little bean that looks like - looks something like a peanut, the inside of the peanut, but it's yellow. It's got a straw-colored shell on it, it's soft, and inside the shell is a lotta little bit of seeds like guinea pepper. You know guinea pepper seeds. It's got little seeds in there like that. You take one of these wishing beans and put it in your purse, anywhere about you.

Then before you get to this - before you go to this place to seek this job, you sweeten you a little glass of water - very, very sweet. Pour it in a little bottle and before you leave your home you take a drink from this bottle. Let it be big enough so that you can take about two drinks of it. Take a good drink of this water and you spit it and go across it to go out.

Then when you get to the office or place of work where you want to work, you take another drink and you spit it before you go to see the man, and you put one these wishing beans in your mouth, and take a match stick or toothpick or something that you can keep in your mouth, and while you talking to him you bite the bean. Be just talking and bite it with your teeth, and you do like this [demonstrates] - like that. You'll get that job. Yessir. You'll get the job all right.

~ excerpted from "Hoodoo, Conjuration, Witchcraft, and Rootwork," an oral history by Harry Middleton Hyatt

Now, of course this does require you to have a prospective employer who doesn't mind you spitting in his office and chewing a toothpick and a bean while you're talking to him. It might work better with a telephone interview.

Monday, December 1, 2008

the something of boris

This pretty much sums up my thoughts. If my thoughts had British accents.

Friday, November 28, 2008

thanksgiving, then and now

Eight years ago was my first Thanksgiving on my own, cooking the meal without a mom or anyone mom-like in charge. I was living with my friends Heidi and Tim the Lawyer (not yet a lawyer) in a cockroach-infested duplex in an entirely Spanish-speaking Van Nuys neighborhood, but Heidi and Tim were both with family for the holiday. My college friends Laurie and Matty were visiting from San Jose, and my friend Ben and his roommate were coming over. I was also cat-sitting a kitten named Miss Moneypenny for a friend from work.

I didn't want to get up early so I don't think we started cooking anything until mid-morning, and then I remember sending Matty to the store to pick up various items several different times. We didn't even remotely have the hang of timing the food so everything comes out at once, and I think we just kind of made one thing at a time. When I got to the turkey, which we had stuffed full of dressing, I had it on one of those tinfoil bans you get at the grocery store, and I kept pulling it out to check on it, because I didn't know what I was doing.

All that pulling out and pushing in eventually ripped a hole in the bottom of the foil pan, which I decided to ignore. Turkey juice and butter from the stuffing (as I recall, we accidentally put twice the called-for amount of butter in the stuffing, so it came out kind of like stuffing butter stew) ran out the hole in the pan and collected on the bottom of the oven. Where it caught fire.

I don't know how long it took for us to realize the oven was on fire, but when we did flames were licking the inside of the glass door. I didn't know what you do about an oven fire, so I called the fire department. They told me to shut off the oven and keep the door closed, and they would send a truck. I said, "Don't send a truck, I just wanted to know what to do." The woman said, "Ma'am, if you have a fire, we have to send a truck." I said, "Um, I don't have a fire. I just wanted to know what one would do if the oven caught on fire... hypothetically." She said, "Ma'am" (people only ever say Ma'am when they're annoyed) "Ma'am, if you call the fire department we have to send a truck." I said, "Tell them not to put on the siren." She said okay.

So they sent a fire truck (without the siren,) and three firemen in full gear trooped into the living room to check the oven fire, which by then had gone out. They said this was the sixth oven fire call they had been on that day. As they left, Miss Moneypenny ran out the door through their legs.

So Laurie and Matty and I spent some time looking for Miss Moneypenny in the neighborhood. We finally found her hiding under a car, came back in, and resumed cooking one thing at a time.

Eventually Ben and Aaron came over. We finally ate at midnight, sitting on the floor around the coffeetable. The turkey was slightly singed but overall pretty good.

This year went much more smoothly, probably because I wasn't in charge of anything except the sweet potatoes, which I volunteered to make, because sometimes I go to Thanksgiving meals various places, and they don't have sweet potatoes, and I just feel like, what are we even doing then?

I was going to go to the store to get ingredients (based on a recipe from my friend Brie's mom*,) but I couldn't find a parking space at noon on Wednesday, so I decided to come back at midnight, when I figured it would be less crowded. And it was less crowded, but it was also set up like an obstacle course:

And this was the line at 12:15:

I got everything I needed. The next day I tried to make them at home but realized I really should have gotten more sweet potatoes, so I gathered my stuff, picked up my faux-boyfriend Cubby (as he is now called to distinguish him from the myriad of Joshes in my life,) and set out for Heidi and Josh's loft downtown, bearing wine:

which Heidi and her mom taught Cubby how to open:

My workstation:

Josh carving the turkey:

Heidi's mom making the gravy:

My sweet, sweet potatoes! You want to eat them, don't you:

Our lovely hostess:

presiding over her lovely table:


Jeremy actually ate all of this:

After the delicious meal, we sprawled out on the floor and watched a bunch of shorts that Heidi and Cubby and I made our senior year of college at LAFSC. If they weren't on VHS, I would post some of them to show you, especially Josh-in-a-Box (brilliantly directed by Tim the Lawyer,) which is an experience that should not be missed if it can be helped. Heidi's on the SAG nominating committee, so she had a bunch of DVDs, from which we chose Wendy and Lucy, which reviews called "quaint yet gut-wrenching" but which was actually "boring yet really boring." In that way it was kind of the perfect post-turkey movie. Cubby slept through most of it. I kept drifting off, but then waking up because I thought something was happening in the plot. It wasn't.

Hero was into the scenes at the dog pound:

After the movie, we all went on a field trip to see the lights on the street:

And then we had pie. And then we left, and I dropped Cubby off. And then I drove back to my apartment, where I crawled into my bed, still wearing my clothes, and fell asleep.
*Mrs. VC's Sweet Potato Mallow

2 big cans cut sweet potatoes
1 cup sour cream
2 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup miniature marshmallows or cut up large marshmallows
brown sugar to taste

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat yams with a bit of salt, drain off the water, then mash the warm potatoes.

Beat in sour cream.

Beat in egg yolks quickly.

Mix in brown sugar, beginning with half a cup and adding more if desired.

Pour mixture into buttered 2-liter casserole dish, top with marshmallows.

Bake 30 minutes or until marshmallows are puffed and golden brown.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Next time you have 23 minutes free while sitting at a computer with speakers, please take a listen (free!) to at least the first part of my favorite episode of This American Life ever. (And if you know how much I'm in love with This American Life, you know that's saying something.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

caplearing and other useful screenwriting terms

When working with a writing partner or on a writing team, it can be useful to have a shorthand for describing certain types of jokes or plot situations. I've seen a couple of lists lately that cover comedy writing or TV writing jargon, but since the last two things I've written with a partner have been thriller features, I'm more interested in jargon that serves as shorthand for dramatic situations.

One you may have heard of is the term "MacGuffin," which is the thingamajig in a movie that advances the plot or motivates the characters, without itself being important to the story. The term was described by Alfred Hitchcock in an interview:
"It might be a Scottish name, taken from a story about two men in a train. One man says, 'What's that package up there in the baggage rack?' And the other answers, 'Oh that's a MacGuffin.' The first one asks, 'What's a MacGuffin?' 'Well,' the other man says, 'It's an apparatus for trapping lions in the Scottish Highlands.' The first man says, 'But there are no lions in the Scottish Highlands,' and the other one answers 'Well, then that's no MacGuffin!' So you see, a MacGuffin is nothing at all."
Most James Bond movies have a MacGuffin. I would use an example from The Quantum of Solace, except I'm not sure I followed that movie well enough to know what the MacGuffin was. Maybe it was the quantum, maybe it was the solace. You know it's a real MacGuffin if you could switch out the Thing that Everyone Wants and make it a different Thing that Everyone Wants, and it could still be basically the exact same movie.

Tim the Lawyer and I have developed a few of our own terms that serve as shorthand for us. For your reading pleasure, a brief glossary:

Red Rum Clue: Taken, of course, from the movie The Shining, where the boy Danny keeps saying, "red rum," which later is revealed to be "murder" backwards. We use it to mean a clue that seems to mean one thing but actually means another.

Boo Scare: Fairly self-explanatory, this is when you put in cheap scares that aren't really scary at all, like a cat that jumps out at the hero when he's creeping down a dark hallway.

Smart Audience Member: The Smart Audience Member is the one who's trying to stay ahead of you in the story. The Smart Audience Member knows things like Roger Ebert's Law of Economy of Characters, which states that, "Movie budgets make it impossible for any film to contain unnecessary characters. Therefore, all characters in a movie are necessary to the story—even those who do not seem to be. Sophisticated viewers can use this Law to deduce the identity of a person being kept secret by the movie's plot: This 'mystery' person is always the only character in the movie who seems otherwise extraneous."

In order to attempt to stay ahead of this problem, our theory is you keep the audience busy by giving the Regular Audience Member one set of clues, then lay in a second, more subtle set of clues for the Smart Audience Member, when really the solution to the mystery lies in a third set of clues.

Recently, Tim the Lawyer came up with a brand new, useful term. It happened because I foolishly let him write the outline we were creating on the dry erase board, even though his printing is sometimes terrible.

Days later, we were planning to meet at our friendly downtown IHOP for a quick between-lawyer-meetings outlining lunch. Before I left home I tried to transfer Tim's dry erase board outline into my notebook. I was struggling to make out his writing, but it was coming along pretty well when I hit the point halfway between the end of Act One and the Midpoint. It said this:

Try as I might, the best I could come up with was "Caplearing." So I wrote that down and brought it to IHOP. Tim and I stared at it, but we couldn't figure out what he had written, or even what the plot point was that was supposed to go there.

And so a new screenwriting term was born.

Caplearing: When you have a spot where a plot point needs to go, but you don't know what the plot point is. And you can't read your partner's handwriting to tell you.

Monday, November 3, 2008


If you've ever asked me anything about my past more distant than a few years ago, you probably know that I have a terrible long-term memory. Maybe it's because I don't focus on the past, maybe it's because I'm blocking things out, maybe it's because I was a kid in the eighties.

Whatever the reason, I've come up with a few cheats to deal with this, one of which is to keep tons of random stuff in a cedar chest that my dad made for me when I was twelve. They're mementos, literally helping me to remember my life. If you've ever handwritten me a letter, I probably have it, along with the little wallet sized photo you gave me in grade school with a note like "LYLAS!" written on the back. I have the first teddy bear I was given by the first boy I ever kissed, complete with the GI Joe Ninja Force box it was wrapped in. I have a report on the Soviet Union I did in the sixth grade in Mrs. Wendell's class, which my mom stayed up until six a.m. helping me type on my typewriter. The cover has gold glitter on it, (naturally):

I have a detention slip from high school:

It's for tardiness, what a shocker, and, as my mom pointed out, it was supposed to be signed and returned, and was neither. We used to have to clean the school as detention, and I got detention all the time. In 9th grade I had a crush on Adam Curry, who used to stay after school and talk to me while I swept classrooms, so it was fine with me. And Mr. Hill, the janitor, told us stories about Vietnam and taught me how to drive stick in his pickup. (No, I don't remember how to drive stick.)

I have the piece of fake sweater I had to knit on stage when I played Reba in Last Night of Ballyhoo in college:

It's terrible knitting, as you can see. I got my grandma to teach me but I didn't pick it up very well, so I had to hold it carefully on stage so you couldn't see the holes in it.

I have the flyer I used to have pinned to the bulletin board in my office:

(It's funny 'cause it's true.)

Recently the cedar chest has become completely full, so since I would like to remember a few things from 2008 onwards, I had to get rid of some stuff. But going through it and throwing some of it away felt like deciding what I would no longer need to remember.

So I needed to come up with another way to remember things. Writing a blog is part of that. I figure if I exhaustively detail, for example, the night I missed the train to Florence and stayed up all night outside Termini Station with Heidi, Brie, and two ex-soldiers online, I won't be able to forget it.

But I also think part of it really is learning how to pay attention. One night when I was a kid, I was playing by a creek in the woods near my house, and I looked up and saw that the air was full of fireflies. In the darkness of the trees, it looked like the branches were hung with stars. I held my breath and thought, "Remember this." And, about twenty years later, I do.

What if I did that all the time? Chose moments to keep? My mom's been visiting this week. A few days ago, we went out to eat with my aunt, uncle, and grandmother. When we were leaving the restaurant, my grandma was sitting in the front seat of my uncle's car, and before I got in, I leaned over and gave her a kiss on the cheek. It was a silly kiss, a "mwah!" kind of smooch. And she looked over at me and smiled, and said, "Thank you." Twenty years from now I would like to be able to still see her smile, hear her voice, smell the rain lingering in the air that day. Maybe I can keep a thousand of these moments, mental souvenirs, just by stopping for a few seconds to really pay attention, and reminding myself: "Remember this."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

final update

OK, this is my last post about this, I promise. Just wanted to give you the update.

Ryan and I have been doing some IMDB experiments and have come to the conclusion that IMDB doesn't count votes from users who have only voted for one (or not many more than one) film because they want to prevent vote stuffing (as I have been encouraging you to do in my last two posts.)

You see here where five votes moved the weighted average five tenths of a point:

Whereas before twenty votes only moved the weighted average two tenths of a point.

In conclusion -- if you are just sitting on your couch watching Pushing Daisies tonight and you want to help me out during the commercial breaks, delete your vote for Driftwood, vote for a hundred movies you've seen, and then go back and vote for Driftwood again.

I realize this is a much bigger favor than the first request, but I'm just putting it out there. Thanks to everyone who voted so far. I won't ask for anything else, not even for Christmas.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

three point four

Thanks SO MUCH to the twenty of you who voted for Driftwood. It did raise the "weighted average"... one fifth of a point.

Clearly I'm going to have to come up with some new strategery.

Monday, October 20, 2008

a plea for those with two extra minutes today

Dear friends and others who have just stumbled on this blog and want to do a good deed,

I applied for a little writing job today (nothing big, don't get excited, Mom) and was going to include a link to the trailer for my short film Driftwood on the movie information website

But... this is the Driftwood page on

This is a little picture of what this page looks like at this exact moment, which is 9:48 am on Monday morning:

That's right. It says 3.2 stars. Three point two. Out of ten. And if you click on the little link next to the stars, you will see that it's a WEIGHTED average, meaning they use whatever math they want to, because the actual average is nowhere near 3.2 stars. PLUS there are eight "one star" votes from non-US users. Even though it essentially hasn't been screened or released outside of the US.

So here's what I'm asking: if you've seen the movie, and you liked it (more than say, three point two stars worth,) please do me a big favor and complete a free IMDB registration and vote for Driftwood. Or maybe even if you haven't seen it and you just think it might be better than three point two stars. Or even if you just like me better than three point two stars.

Here's a trailer for the movie, in case you don't want to judge just based on my blog/face/taste in poetry:

You know what... if you saw it and thought it was only a three point two stars movie, please go ahead and vote that way. At least I will know that people who have actually seen the movie are hating it.

And that is so much better.

Friday, October 17, 2008

fade in

Today it's time to start writing actual pages for the thriller idea I was researching in Louisiana. Usually I like to take nine years to write a screenplay (see: Lucidity, writing of) but with this one I'm thinking maybe we should try to keep it down to about five. And since I thought of the idea in approximately 2003, I really have to get going.

"But, Michelle," you say in disbelief, "don't you and Tim the Lawyer first need to make note cards and outline the idea while sitting on an uncomfortably hard sofa in a blue-lit coffeeshop where East LA hipsters play pool and listen to loud music?"

"Done," I say.

"But don't you guys then have to map out your three-act structure using the dry erase board that you bought in Plano, Texas and proceeded to cart around the country for no reason?" you continue.

"Done," I reply.

"But if you're so ready to start the screenplay, why are you sitting here writing a blog?" you ask in a kind of annoying voice. "Are you afraid? Just start, already. Stop writing this blog entry. Why are you still typ

Thursday, October 16, 2008

no, denny's doesn't have the right feel

As previously mentioned, yesterday I was in San Francisco and stopped by City Lights Bookstore, where apparently various members of the Beat Generation used to meet.

Today I've been thinking: all those cool artist gangs had a special hangout. The Beats had City Lights, the Inklings had The Eagle and Child, the Romantics had Villa Diodati.

We (and by we, I mean you and me) are a cool artist gang, and therefore should have a cool artist hangout. How else are we supposed to come up with the artistic ideas that will define our generation?

I'm open to suggestions.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

this morning i sat in the corner of a bookstore on columbus avenue and read a poem

This was the corner:

And this was the poem:
Bedcovers thrown back,
Tangled sheets,
Lustrous in moonlight.

Image of delight,
Or longing,
Or torment,

Depending on who's
Doing the imagining.

(I know: you are the one
Pierced through, I'm the one
Bent low beside you, trying
To peer into your eyes.)

"The Distribution of Happiness"
~ Robert Hass

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

bwessed awangements

I've always really liked weddings. They're like a party, but with meaning. A holy ritual that includes the Electric Slide. I especially like it when weddings are very specific to the couple getting weddinged.

For example, the weekend before last I flew to Ohio to attend the wedding of my friends Ben and Rene. (Who, incidentally, created this spectacular film, galloping soon to film festival theaters near you.) The wedding was in October, for one thing, which was perfect, because in Ben's ideal universe it would never be any month but October. And the rehearsal dinner had a movie theme, complete with a larger than life sized cardboard cutout of Ben and Rene, which I think embarrassed Ben pretty badly. And then the entire wedding was set to soundtrack music, which was very cool and made it seem like something extremely dramatic was going to happen at any second. There was music from Cider House Rules and Joss Whedon's movie Serenity, and Rene walked down the aisle to music from Battlestar Galactica. And then these were the wedding favors:

Last weekend, I went down to Anaheim to attend the wedding of my friends Joel and Kate (who as of yet do not have a joint project that I can plug.) The music for their wedding was also appropriate (especially the recessional, which was the Linus and Lucy rag) and their favors (Jones soda bottles with their picture on them) were very cute.

But my favorite just-right bit was the fact that the groomsmen were dressed exactly how Joel dresses, from the argyle sweater vests down to the flip flops, which unfortunately can't be seen in this picture:

Congratulations, Bays(es) and Millers. I am so happy for you. And only a tiny bit jealous.

Monday, October 13, 2008

personality crisis

I had to take a personality test the other day as part of some training that I'm doing.

This test gives you sets of four personality traits and asks you to rank each set from 1 to 4, from "most like you" to "least like you." For example:


So you have to go, like, "OK, I'm very cheerful, so that's a 4, I'm not courageous, so that's a 1, I'm pretty precise, so that's a 3, and I'm not so merciful, so that's a 2."

Except - and correct me if I'm wrong here - couldn't one person be very courageous, very cheerful, very precise, and very merciful? Or very cowardly, very morose, very vague, and very cruel? But you can't put all 4s or all 1s. You have to pick one number for each trait.

So I had a lot of trouble with the test. I think in one answer I said I was 4, very detailed, and then two questions later, said I was 1, not at all meticulous.

My results were outside of the range of any of the personality types. It said something along the lines of, "You have no personality. Come back and try again when you know who you are."

Sunday, October 12, 2008

justice is what love looks like in public

Tonight Heidi, Brie, and I went to see the "rockumentary" Call + Response, which is a look at slavery and human trafficking, directed and produced by singer/songwriter Justin Dillon. The musical segments were directed by our pastor, Brandon Dickerson.

The movie is heart-wrenching, and it's impossible to watch it and not want to do something. In one scene, five or six-year-old girls in a Cambodian brothel proposition a man with a video camera posing as a client, telling him they "do good yum yum," the brothel's word for oral sex.

CallGary Haugen, the head of International Justice Mission, says in the movie that it's easy to be caught in either apathy or the paralysis of despair. To be so overwhelmed by the pain of the world that you shut it out.

This is one small thing I can do today: I can tell you that if you live in one of the following cities...

Los Angeles
Redwood City
Washington DC
San Diego
San Francisco
Orange County
San Jose should go see Call + Response. (100% of the profits from theatrical release, DVD sales, and soundtrack are going directly to efforts to stop human trafficking. The website is

I promise you will not regret it.
This is not my voice
This is not my choice
This is somebody's baby
They don't know my age
They don't know my name
They just call me

~"Baby Blue"
Lyrics by Justin Dillon

Thursday, October 9, 2008

things i learned last sunday night

1. Babies do make cute accessories. (This particular piece is called "Avery" and is available on loan from Josh and Erin.)

2. If you want a do right all day woman, you apparently have to be a do right all night man.

3a. You should check the lyrics of karaoke songs before you get on stage; and...

3b. The lyrics for "Wait" by Huffamoose are dirty.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

babies are the new black

One accomplishment I didn't mention in my list was the creation of life. This particular achievement is no less spectacular for its (increasing and worrisome) popularity in my group of friends.

Today I met Haven, daughter of Karla and Aaron, six and a half pounds of finger sucking adorableness. I like babies. But I'm a little scared of them. I think when Bethany was small my parents spent an inordinate amount of time warning me about her "soft spot" and telling me I was "going to pull her arm out of the socket." I used to have a recurring nightmare that I went to pick her up and ended up with just a little baby arm in my hand.

I made Aaron hand Haven over very slowly and explain to me what to do, like I was a little kid who had never held a baby before.

I didn't get any pictures, which is too bad, because I look good with babies. I'm thinking of carrying one around as an accessory. Maybe with one of those cushiony tutus.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

l'enfer, c'est les autres

The thing about coming back to Los Angeles after a long time away is that everyone has been really busy doing incredibly interesting, productive things.

As I sit here in my 90 degree apartment wearing boxers and a tank top and feeling totally languid and kind of worthless, I'm watching the season premiere of Chuck (edited, by the way, by my friend Matt, who worked a shot of our church into one of the establishing aerial shots) and thinking about all the impressive things my friends accomplished this summer while I was eating shrimp po' boys and having a romantic relationship with a mouse.

The following is a partial list:

- My friend Justin finished his short film LA Actors, which got into Palm Springs Shorts Festival, a festival that has personally rejected me more times than I care to count. I met Justin a week or two ago to watch a screening of the film at the Santa Monica Film Festival, which also, I'm pretty sure, has rejected me in the past.

- My roommate Stephanie had two pieces of her artwork on display at the "Untitled" art show in the warehouse district last weekend. Which I attended with Steph's brother Jason. We walked around and had deep insight into the photographs on display.

- My friend Terence produced an independent feature film (you thought those didn't exist anymore, but they do) starring Hal Holbrook this summer in Tennessee, and not a single person died of heat stroke.

- Tim, younger brother of Stephanie and Jason, got a job with Roadtrip Nation while he was living here in my room this summer, and is, as I write this, embarking on a cross-country road trip in a big green RV. FOR MONEY.

- My friend Katie, after raising funding and putting everything together herself, went to South Africa for five months and taught a film class for a group of South Africans, and is now co-directing a documentary about the film school. I will be writing more about this later.

- Last week, Katie drove down to San Diego with me, to attend a screening of Short Term 12 at the San Diego Film Festival. Katie cast the film, and I produced, and the uber talented Destin Cretton wrote, directed, and produced. Despite the fact that the film played without sound for about five minutes, restarted, played without sound again, and finally restarted and played with buzzy, blown-speaker sound, the screening was great. I hadn't seen the new cut of the film yet, and I thought it was incredibly good.

The star of the film is Brad William Henke (whose movie Choke came out in theaters this weekend.) He plays a staff member at a group home for teenagers. One of the cast members is his daughter Phoenix, who lived in a group home about a year and a half ago, before she was adopted by Brad and his wife Katelin (also in the film.) Destin rewrote the part for Phoenix, who is amazing in this, her debut performance.

Tania Verafield, Destin Cretton, Phoenix Henke, Katie Taylor, James Hansen, Brad William Henke, and me:

Here's the trailer, and you can check out the website at

After the screening, we celebrated with ice cream at Ghiradelli's. Brad Kester, the 1st AD, Destin Cretton, and Brett Pawlak, the DP:

Brad's making that same face in every picture I have of him.

You may think that I would be discouraged by all this rampant accomplishment. I'm not. Even though the only thing I've managed to accomplish so far this week is to get my iPhone to actually sync with the calendar on my computer. And to finally see Dark Knight. Because what you don't know is that Tim the Lawyer and I are meeting tonight to work on our outline for the Louisiana script. AND WE HAVE INDEX CARDS.

Plus I'm learning French.