Friday, March 30, 2007

Nice Chi-Town Article

I was interviewed by Cathleen Falsani, who writes a column in the Religion section of the Chicago Sun Times, and the article is in today's paper. So for all you old friends and former classmates and sworn enemies and ex-girlfriends and people who sat next to me in homeroom and people who still drink at the Emerald Isle every weekend, here's your chance to find out that I'm still alive. Of course, if you read this blog, I guess you're probably aware of that. It's strange how this press coverage has felt different to me because it's the home town paper. The paper of Roger Ebert. I asked Cathleen how he's doing and she said that he's "fighting like a champ" from what she hears.

Also, we started pitching to networks this week. My friend Dom had this advice for pitching:

1. In our Showtime pitch, whenever we say the word "Showtime," accompany it with jazz hands.

2. When I say my own name, do stabbing motion at the ground and rub my hands together like I'm "stoking a fire."

3. If we're on a leather couch, announce how relaxed I feel and then urinate in my pants.

I'll let you know if Dom's advice helps.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Revisiting An Altman Classic

In light of Robert Altman’s passing a couple months ago, I was recently thinking about the Altman flick I’ve seen most, by twenty or thirty times: Popeye. It’s not exactly as renowned as other Altman classics like Nashville or M*A*S*H, or even, say, O.C. And Stiggs, but it was a pivotal part of my childhood.

I was obsessed with Popeye as a kid. I don’t think I ate more spinach, but I did wear a sailor’s hat and chew on a pipe and talk unintelligibly and draw an anchor on my arm with a ballpoint pen. When the movie came out in 1980, I was eight years old, and at the peak of my sailor man fandom.

There’s something naggingly unsatisfying about seeing a live action film attempt the visceral abandon of animation, kind of like watching a puppet show of Titanic, or having an afternoon of cartoons interrupted by that show where the guy did line drawings and told stories. At its worst, like with Jim Carrey mugging under pounds of makeup as the Grinch, it’s deeply and soulfully lame.

But Robin Williams, though saddled with weird fake forearms that looked like he had a strange disease, was spot on. He’s still the only person in Hollywood I can picture in the role (although I’d enjoy seeing Matt Damon take a crack at it.) Also, to the best of my recollection, for better or worse, Popeye launched a genre. It was the first time I remember seeing cartoon gags rendered in live action form, like when Bluto’s outfit turns completely yellow to reflect his emotion on encountering Popeye post-spinach-ingestion. In the 90’s, when Hollywood became convinced that movies are no good without source material – that no movie was as good as Something: The Movie – there was a woeful parade of live action cartoons trotted out: Josie And The Pussycats, The Flintstones, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, The Cat In The Hat, Inspector Gadget, etc. None of them compare – partly because they’re unwatchable, and partly because Popeye was pretty decent.

I have no idea how it holds up today – I’m still seeing it through my eight-year-old eyes – but if your biggest career failure is a movie that launched a genre, and thirty years later is still the best example of that genre, then it definitely says something about your directing skill. Personally, I’d rather rewatch Popeye than Gosford Park any day.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


My web radio debut on "Nerdvana" was a lot of fun - you can listen to it here. I also had an interview in an article in the Hartford Courant, so I've got a lot of visitors from Connecticut today. Welcome! You can view the whole "God, Inc" series by clicking the icon to the right. Your right. That way. The direction I'm pointing.

I'm working on my new web series, which is still in the development stage, but I did let the title slip on "Nerdvana" last week - it's called "ERF!" Meanwhile, "God, Inc" will continue in the future, either with new webisodes or, hopefully, as a TV series.

In my spare time, I'm fighting several unwanted house guests who took up residence in my garage slash carport (basically a carport with a door.) A possum, and some other form of rodent, left numerous signs of their presence, in particular a huge pile of feces and the remains of oranges from our tree. When I told my fiancé, who has mild OCD tendancies, that we had a nest of possum poo and orange rinds in the garage, she just sort of snapped and started laughing uncontrollably.

CORRECTION: A possum is not a rodent. It is a marsupial. I can't believe you guys didn't catch that. The possum had to log on to my wifi and comment himself. He was very offended. Which made me happy.

I’m Prepared For Glory!

Saw 300 yesterday. If you’ve ever seen that TV ad for the Marines where the guy is fighting that big CGI monster with a flaming sword, it’s basically like the feature length version of that ad. It’s all about the glory of being a soldier, and of dying a soldier.

Before I saw 300, my opinion of growing tensions with Iran was that it’s a cause for concern; that our military is being stretched thin and it’s a delicate situation that calls for diplomacy. But now I want enlist to be on the front line, to fight them with a sword and shield wearing nothing but a Speedo. That’s because, even though the movie takes place a long time ago, back when wives said “Come back with your shield, or on it,” to their husbands, and rhinos and elephants were apparently ten times their current size, the film is actually a subtle allegory to our current situation. The Americans are represented in the story by the Spartans, a tough-as-nails, balls-out people fighting for freedom from tyranny. Meanwhile, the Iranians are “Persians.” But the parallels are clear if you look hard. It’s a simple David and Goliath story: the small colony of Spartans against a world superpower going around invading other countries, led by a leader who believes he has divine powers. (Now I forget who the Americans are. Oh, yeah, the Spartans.)

300 does well to dispense with the character development and story arcs that bog down other wartime flicks, like Rambo: First Blood Part II. The king has a Scottish accent, because that’s the best kind of accent to have when you walk back and forth shouting at the front line of an army in a Hollywood movie. By the way, when the king shouts “Prepare for glory!” in the movie, he’s actually referring to the Spartan belief that the only true, great way to die is during battle. It’s a good thing he puts it that way, because “Prepare To Die In Battle!” wouldn’t be a very good tagline for a movie.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Web Radio Interview

I'm going to be doing a live interview this afternoon, on a web radio show for the geek crowd. It's called "Nerdvana." One of the hosts is Ryan McDonald, who plays the I.T. Guy in Episode 4. I'll be sure to ask him why there's no cartridge in his Gameboy.

It's my first live interview, and I'm a little nervous. Ryan suggested that I could log on while doing the interview and read the comments that are being posted on the forum. I think that would make my head explode. But if you want to check it out, the show is today at 4 PM, and I think the interview will be archived as well.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

two bunnies, chapter two