Sunday, August 24, 2008

I Love Hollywood

I love Hollywood, really.

I know people out there who are some of the finest human beings on the planet. They have helped me, given me guidance on my work, gone out of their way for me.

It's my hope that they will understand my comments. I'm not trying to be rude or too angry. None of this is personal, although I've made comments about the actions of some of the people involved in the current SAG/AFTRA/AMPTP situation that won't win any awards. So be it.

You probably have done it. Told someone you love how messed up they are. You do it because you care. You want them to see the error of their ways.

The difficult part is finding the diplomatic path to take.

Sometimes I have a difficult time restraining myself in making comments.

Usually, I write out what I'm thinking, look it over, edit it, then put it out to the world.

Even then, it might not come out as proper and polite as it could. Then again, there's nothing like a poke in the nose to get your attention.

Right now, Hollywood is looking at another record-breaking year for the box office. Some of the folks out on the coast are convinced this is due to their great writing, acting, movie-making, etc.

Very few of them will be correct in that self-congratulatory mode.

If the economy weren't in such sorry shape, there might be a vastly different report card for the movie business.

Hollywood made money during the Great Depression. Now, during the Great Recession, they're doing it all over again.

Too bad they think it's because of their movies.

If gasoline were cheaper, more people would be on vacation and doing things outside.

As it is, it's cheaper to take the family or your friend to the movies than it is to feed your face or do almost anything else.

Wake up Hollywood, you're not the center of the universe, except in your own fantasy.

So, please settle the contract talks with SAG.

Write and produce some quality movies.

I love you Hollywood. America loves you. The world loves you.

Now, please get your act together and get the show back on the road.

Time for Rest and Research

It's been a few days. Didn't think I would be away from the blog for so long a period.

Did some damage to an old injury during the scrap yard run mentioned a couple of posts ago. Kept working around the farm, thinking that it would get better. Instead, I had to take some time off to heal.

While I was in the house, I finished reading President Eisenhower's book, "Mandate for Change". There are a few topics which I will need to research before I comment further on his book. I will say this, too much of what he warned about then, has been ignored now and we are going to pay for it.

Have also spent time on doing research for one of my books. Too many authors sit down and write something, without doing the background work necessary to creating a solid base from which to build their work. It's the other side of writing that I like, the reading of other authors.

Too bad that it doesn't appear to be work to most people.

They think that I'm just goofing off.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Writing, Photography and Life

I’m a writing animal. Have written poetry, songs, short stories, novellas, screenplays, novels, everything except a play. That’s on the literary side. I’ve also written operator and repair technical manuals. Proposals for film museums. Now this blog.

After the work I have put in on the dozen screenplays, two novels, one memoir and countless other works, why do I continue to do something that hasn’t really paid yet? I love it!

I’m also a photographer, although you won’t find any of my work posted here. Started at the age of 10, went on to shoot for the high school yearbook and newspaper, shot my first film in high school. That’s film, not video. Later I volunteered as a cameraman at a public access TV station.

Along the way, teachers suggested that I get acting experience. I’ve been on the sets of independent and feature films, both here and in Europe. Sometimes as an observer, others as a background extra. It’s helped me gain perspective and respect for what an actor has to go through to do their job.

For a few years, I was the film commissioner in Dayton, Ohio. It was a great experience and gave me a good look at the political and social games involved in the film industry.

Now I write and shoot videos, work on my multi-volume novel and try to keep all my toys running. Then, there's all the farm work. Never a dull moment on the farm.

All I need now is an agent to promote my stuff.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Scrap, Sweet Dreams and Stardust

I'm a bit late on doing my Perseid meteor shower update.

Monday was a day that can only be described as beyond hectic. Checked the Internet, ran all over the farm, loaded the dump truck, took it to the scrap yard. Which is 60 miles round trip in a 30 year old truck that rides like a bucking bronco. Believe me, I don't need to go to the gym to get a workout.

For those of you who have never enjoyed a trip to a scrap yard... I can only tell you that it's not worth writing about, but I will.

It used to be pretty boring, drive up, weigh in, dump the scrap, weigh out. Now, it's drive up, "Ve vill see your papers!", show ID to the scale operator, who runs it through the computer. Then drive over to get inspected by the Scrap Yard Inspector; "Where did you get the scrap? What city? Have you and the scrap been separated since you loaded it on the truck? Was anyone seen to approach the scrap? Has anyone offered you scrap today?" I explain that I have a scrap-sniffing dog on the farm and that he has raised his leg in approval, giving his mark of acceptance. It's that stain on the right rear tire.

Mr. Serious Scrap Yard Inspector will not tolerate ANY jocularity or attempts thereof. "Where did you get the truck, what year is it, make and model?" I answer all the pertinent questions. He notes that there are a couple of tires still on the rusty bicycles, mixed in with about 2,000 pounds of clean steel. "I don't like to pay for plastic or rubber tires, next time, cut the tires off." I resist the urge to snap off a "Jawhol, mein fuhrer!" and just nod at him. Give a clown a clipboard and you'll have a full-fledged tyrant by the end of the week. I hope he hasn't seen that "Patton" movie.

After I dumped the scrap, it's back to the interrogation area, uh, scales and office, where I'm weighed out, then get to sign ze papers and give my thumb print to the nice lady. I've been through less security at a major airport. Who knew that junk was a high security item?

Dump trucks ride even worse when they are unloaded, it's their heavy-duty springs. It's kinda like being thrown around by one of those angry rodeo bulls, but it doesn't stop after 8 seconds. I've got the bruises to prove it.

Hard to admit, but I would rather go to the scrap yard than go grocery shopping. Which was next on my list. After a shower to get that manly fragrance of 'Eau du Junk' off my body, it was into the big town. I usually buzz-saw through the grocery. Little old ladies see me bearing down on them and run their carts into neatly stacked boxes of crackers, trying to get out of my way. Busted cardboard and crumbs everywhere.

This attracts the grocery cops, you know, those old geezers who wander from aisle to aisle, looking lost, minutely inspecting jars of phlegm oil and buttered Yak hooves. All the while giving me sidelong glances through their tri-focals.

Just to raise their blood pressure, I'll shove something back on the shelf, take off and whip around a corner on two wheels, with only one hand on the cart. That always gets them foaming at the mouth. By the time they get their Dr. Scholl's in gear, I'm two aisles away.

Once I've accumulated the essentials of life; beer, chips and dog food, I head for the checkout. Where it's ID time again. I think some of these people do this so that they know where all the beer is hidden in the county. I would like to think that the single women are doing it to follow me home, but that's just a fantasy.

Back at my humble abode, I take a break. Pop in a one dollar DVD. A Roger Corman classic, "The Fast and The Furious". Lots of old sports cars being raced on country roads without rollbars. Ralph Nader would have a heart attack. After studying this classic, it's back to work, on my writing this time.

About 1 AM, I head for the sack. Plan on grabbing about a four hour nap, get up, watch the meteor shower, breakfast, do some work until it gets too hot, then nap, do some writing, etc.

I'm dreaming, it's one of those strange dreams, more disjointed than usual, plus I've never noticed it before, but there's a smell.

Now, I've had dreams where people spoke French. Which my high school French teacher told us was a sign that we were learning the language. Which made sense, since I was living in a French-speaking country at the time. I couldn't understand them in the dreams either. I have dreams in color and they have strange sequences of events. The smell thing is gets to be overpowering.

That's when I wake up and realize that it smells like skunk. Now, if I had the air-conditioner running, it might not have been too bad. The windows were all open and a couple of fans were moving the air around in the house. What they were doing is sucking the stench into the house and blowing it right at me. I jumped up, got dressed, grabbed my small, 18 "D" cell flashlight and ran outside.

You don't want to run outside at night in the country without a good flashlight. Mine is about the size of a baseball bat and weighs a little less than a nice, heavy lead pipe. You can use it to drive a golf ball a quarter of a mile. It's got a beam on it that's good for signalling UFOs and at close distances will fry bacon or blind a bat. Handy, but not overkill.

Unfortunately, it's pretty much useless against a skunk. Who can spray you from a distance, then take off for the creek. While you smell like, well, skunk piss. There is no cologne equivalent. It makes "Eau du Junk" smell like a bracing, manly fragrance.

I was lucky, the skunk had hosed down my dogs and taken off. The dogs wanted me to appreciate their new-found odor, but I declined and headed for my truck. Might as well kick back and watch the meteor shower. It was almost 4AM anyway. All that stardust, flaming across the sky. I was so tired, I didn't think to make a wish.

Even so, the Perseid meteor shower was pretty good this year. I didn't get to use the method that I wrote about earlier, due to lack of time. Still, it was a good show from the truck interior. Just before the false dawn, I nodded off, woke up after about an hour and went into the house. Which still stunk of skunk.

I turned the fans around, so they would blow the aroma outside. Then I wandered back out to the dogs. Who looked at me, as if I didn't know what I was doing.

They were right.

I went back into the house and got their breakfast. Mine could wait.

There's something about skunk that just kills the taste buds, much less the desire to eat.

Now that's an idea!

The skunk diet.

Also good for keeping you wide awake.

Not sold in stores.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Mandate for Change by Dwight D. Eisenhower

Some time back I mentioned that I would try and pick an 'author of the week'. It's not worked out as I planned. I usually read a book a week, sometimes two or three.

At this time I'm reading "Mandate for Change" by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. My copy is the Signet edition, which is the paperback version. Doubleday & Company, Inc. printed the hardcover version. Copyright 1963, this copy is a first edition, printed in 1965. This book covers the first four years of his presidency and the events leading up to his running for office.

This book should be required reading for all Americans who want to vote this year. It should be taught in all high schools. President Eisenhower reviews his political career, starting from after World War II.

He explains how he came to chose a political party, since he had been apolitical while serving in the military. His coverage of the important diplomatic, economic, scientific and political issues of the time still ring true today. We are still grappling with the problems of Korea, China, Russia, atomic power, the economy and worldwide warfare. At home, we can't seem to agree on anything and almost nothing is getting done by our government.

What strikes me about this book is President Eisenhower's commitment to not only America, but to the image it projects in the rest of the world. His concern about being strong, but compassionate in his dealings with other countries.

I'll get specific in later postings. At this point, all I will say is that he doesn't sound like any current Republican.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Time For A Meteor Shower!

Oh yeah, it's that time of year again. Perseid meteor shower time.

For those of us who are fortunate enough to live out in the country, it's an opportunity to watch a great light show. You can still see some of them from town, but tall buildings and light scatter will lower the number of meteors that will be visible to you.

Look Northeast, anytime after midnight. You'll see meteors all night, up until dawn. The best days this year will be around the 12th of August. Just before dawn on the 12th is supposed to be the best time.

I'll probably park the pickup truck out in the field, put a 4x8 foot piece of plywood in it and block it up at an angle. Put down a layer of foam (or an air mattress), then toss a sleeping bag on top of it. This keeps me off the ground (which will get damp and cold, even in the summer) and it's much more comfortable than lying in a lawn chair. Bring along your favorite refreshing beverage and settle back. This can easily turn into an all night thing, but it's worth it!

Just remember that any fires, lights, etc. will ruin your night vision and cut down on your ability to see the meteors.

A few years back, there were numerous fireballs that came in. When they exploded they cast shadows! An impressive sight in the middle of the night.

If you can talk your favorite squeeze into doing this, it just might be a 'night to remember'!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Schedules and How Not to Keep Them

I was doing fine. Everything planned out for this week.

Got up this morning and my arm let know that it was taking the day off. Nothing like an old injury to throw the day/week schedule out of whack.

Just spent the past two hours writing what I thought would be the final chapter? Episode? For the "You Wanna Be In Movies" series.

It's at 1800 words and a bit too long for a blog post. Especially since I'm only half-way through the day we spent on the movie set.

At this rate, I could break it down and make it into a TV series.

OK, maybe not a good idea, considering.

IF I work 22 hours each day, for the rest of the week, I'll be caught up to the first of the month.

Then I'll only be 9 days behind on my work.

Friday, August 1, 2008

DEATH, World's Biggest Seller!

You want in on a little secret?

Invest in death.

That's right, you can't lose. It's always a money-making proposition. No matter what form you choose. Let's look at your options!

A perennial favorite! Thousands of years of excellent return on investment. Billions dead prove that this can't be beat for overall cost-effective management. Ask a politician, military leader or defense contractor today about investment opportunities!

Can't bring yourself to face the real deal? That's OK! We can pretend, just like kids playing 'grownup'. Books, TV, movies, video games, you name it, we got it! Death in a thousand ways, performed in slow motion, multi-angle, digitally enhanced, anywhere on earth or in space. There's no limit!

It's the next best thing to warfare! Plot, plan, execute your strategy. Win at all costs! Drugs? Cheating? It's all expected, as long as it's not detected by the 'officials'. Pay-offs not included.

That's right, the one most people never consider. That slow, excruciating crush of fiscal collapse. Watching as every last penny is squeezed to keep a roof overhead and food in the mouth. As seen on TV!

Conspicuous consumption? Can't get enough of it? You gotta have something to put in them landfills! Why worry about killing off the planet, you won't be around to clean up the mess anyway! Leave it for the next generation, the lazy slackers!

That's just the tip of the iceberg! Ask the people on the "Titanic" about that!

It's the one thing that everyone has to deal with, so let's make money on it!


It's not funny, but it sure is final!

Give your money to someone else today.

After all, you can't take it with you!

Not To Be Morbid OR Profound

Yes, the last post was probably too serious for many people.

Against the backdrop of the inane world that is usually bantered about on the blogs, why not slap some people back to reality?

I've been reading about paparazzi, stupid politicians (all of them), lazy union members, thieving businesses, you name it, the blogs are full of it.

So, what's being done?

Nothing more than a lot of posturing and mouthing. Not too much action, as in real world, down in the dirt, get it done.

That would take work and commitment.

Too many want to shirk and get paid.

No matter how bad things are, just smile.

Knowing that it's worse somewhere else, for someone else.

Your Last Day

Your last day.

Think about it.

Yeah, I know. You're too busy. Got other things on your mind. Important stuff. Like what color to paint the kitchen or which new video game to buy.

It'll be around before you know it. Most of you won't see it coming. The majority will be horrified to think about it, much less plan for it.You really should think about it. Put it into perspective. Give yourself a chance to reflect on what you've done. More importantly, what you've blown off and NOT done.

Depending on your life, you'll get warnings. Some won't get as many as others. You might not get any warning at all. Those little incidents, where you barely escape having your life end.

Kind of like slicing an apple, the knife close enough to take off your fingertip, but just at the right distance to cut the apple into wedges.

A friend sitting next to you gets killed in a car wreck and you walk away with a couple of minor scratches. One of those close calls, where the breath of death tickles your neck, but extinguishes another life.

You live long enough, you'll know what I'm talking about.

You see enough death, you'll know what I mean.

It will make you question how people can continue to be arrogant and ignorant about the current situation in the world.

How people can discount the lives of people they don't know, because they aren't the same as them. Too many people devalue others, not knowing that they then devalue themselves. We all do it to a certain degree.

You want to scare someone? Laugh at them when they threaten you. It upsets their perception of being empowered. It will bother them that you show no fear.

When you face your final moment, then you will find out just how much truth was in your life.

A false life ends in fear.

Your time will come. Don't rush it. Keep going down the road, even after you've taken a wrong turn and had to backtrack. We all do it.

When you come to the end of your road, you'll want to be able to look back down the track and laugh at the great ride that you had.

It's all about being true to yourself.