May 29, 2008
“If you’re serious about insurgency…”
There are certain phrases that make me think that whatever follows is going to be a joke. One of these phrases is “If you’re serious about X…”. (See: this comic about globes I have linked to previously.)
It just primes my brain to be ready for HILARIOUSNESS. And then I get really perturbed when no hilariousness follows, like I just can’t quite believe it.
For instance: recently I was reading something about insurgency and counterterrorism, etc. And the person was arguing a point from the perspective of an insurgent, and he said “If you’re serious about insurgency…” and I started laughing, because OBVIOUSLY SOMETHING AWESOME WAS ABOUT TO HAPPEN, like a one-man skit about surly teen insurgents!
But nothing awesome happened. He just talked about improvised explosives for a while.
Is that terrible? Am I a bad person? Sometimes when I’ve been hanging out with a particular person (Naomi) too often, I can’t tell if my sense of humor is wrong or not. Sigh.
(Come on, “If you’re serious about insurgency”? NOTHING? Not even in the insurgent’s dad lecturing him about how he spent ALL THAT MONEY sending him to med school, and now he wants to be an INSURGENT, this is just like that time he was going to be in a ROCK BAND, and his dad bought him an amp and EVERYTHING–)
Also! Iron Man, which I saw a while ago.
You know what my favorite part of Iron Man was? That it opened in a Humvee in Afghanistan, set to Back in Black, and then there was an explosion. RIGHT AWAY! Those are all things I love!
(Not AC/DC specifically. You know what I mean.)
Also! Iron Man featured an INTREPID ASSISTANT. I loved that. I would really love it if there were a show that was about an assistant, and it was kind of pulp-noir (but in a cheerful way) and the assistant solved mysteries! And some of them were pretty serious, like “OH NO, WE MISPLACED A LARGE NUMBER OF MISSILES!” but some of them were like “Someone around town is buying up all available copies of MAXIM MAGAZINE, what does it mean???” and just silly.
The assistant’s boss should be some kind of big-deal criminal attorney. And he would never really notice that his assistant was solving these crimes–
Or! Like, if the boss were some kind of dissolute nobleman who drank a lot of martinis (and it would of course have to be set in the 20s or the 30s) and he had a social secretary who traveled around the world with him. And SECRETLY, the bossguy was a JEWEL THIEF and equally secretly, the secretary was a sleuth! And they were locked in an eternal game of cat and mouse, but neither of them realized!
That would be awesome. Also, I would like it if the dissolute nobleman traveled with some dogs. The secretary would often find herself standing around in hotel lobbies, controlling a brace of Irish wolfhounds or something. (They could help her solve crimes!)
May 22, 2008
So I like to go to this farmer’s market near my house. It’s on Thursdays. They have all kinds of interesting products! Last week I bought a cheremoya, also (according to google) known as a “custard apple”. Mark Twain APPARENTLY said that it was the finest fruit known to man. How could I resist?
It’s a very odd fruit that tastes like banana crossed with strawberry crossed with pineapple crossed with pear. Also, it has scales! So it looks like it was also crossed with a fish or a dragon or something.
(I’m just saying, my supermarket does not carry fascinating FISH FRUIT.)
I have noticed that farmer’s markets – at least this one – seem to attract Wacky People. Last week there was a very thin Englishman who kept interrogating a mostly-Spanish-speaking farmer about what kind of fertilizer he used on his fruit trees. The Englishman got QUITE ANGRY when no one could figure out what Spanish for “fertilizer” was. He kept saying “I think it’s almost the same word! FERTILIZADO or something! WHY WON’T YOU TELL ME.”
Today, at the same farmer’s market, I witnessed a man get into it with the Frenchman who runs the artisanal bread stand. Because the guy had almost knocked his head on part of the tent, and he felt that this COULD NOT PASS. He kept saying things like “Now, I would never sue, that’s not what I’m saying…”
I don’t know why this place attracts angry men. It’s odd.
After that, I went to the grocery store for a few additional things (I know, you’re fascinated by my shopping habits. JUST WAIT, this is going somewhere.) and while I was standing in line, I saw MODERN BRIDE MAGAZINE. One of the story headline things was:
WEDDING NIGHT SEX: SURPRISE HIM WITH THESE HOT NEW MOVES
???? Is this just me? I’m not married, so maybe I’m wrong about this. But I find that both HILARIOUS and WEIRD. Wouldn’t your brand-new husband be kind of freaked out if you were suddenly like “Oh, honey. Welcome to marriage! I know that today was exhausting, emotionally trying, and so expensive that we’ll be heavily in debt for the next four years, but I was thinking that perhaps you’d like to TWIRL THE LEOPARD with me. I read about it in Modern Bride. See, there’s a diagram. And I brought my own parallel bars!”
Right next to that magazine was one of the sluttier lady ones, possibly Glamour? And one of its headlines was
TOP FIVE SIGNS HE’S CAPABLE OF RAPE
Seriously? My goodness.
May 21, 2008
It’s sort of sad that when you’re a writer, everything is grist for your own personal brain mill.
I was just reading an article about “Continuity of Government” programs (MARTIAL LAW handbooks, thank you.) and instead of getting all riled up about how this country is turning into some crazy Orwellian fantasy (which I assume is the correct response), I was like:
“Martial law, you say? SECRET GOVERNMENT MEETINGS, you say? CAMPS FULL OF UNDESIRABLES???? WHO OWNS THE RIGHTS TO THIS ARTICLE AND WILL THEY LET ME WRITE THE FIRST DRAFT OF THE SCREENPLAY?”
I have noticed the sort of flip side of this effect when I’m brainstorming action-type scripts: you go back and forth about, for instance, Epic Government Secrets, and you keep thinking “Ugh, a SHADOW GOVERNMENT tracking us all??? Wow, that’s so original. Maybe next my brain can come up with something involving CLONES, because that would be equally fresh and awesome.”
We’re all kind of inoculated against conspiracy theories, I suppose. It must have been so weird in the 70s when themes of paranoia were starting to show up in film and TV, and you could totally pitch an idea like “So there’s this SHADOW GOVERNMENT-!” and people would go “Ooooooh!” instead of “Is this set in Iraq? Because it better not be set in Iraq. Or Afghanistan.”
I can only assume that someday, when the actual shadow government takes over and ships us all off to melon farms where we will labor tirelessly for our new melon-eating alien overlords, we’ll all be totally blase until it’s too late. YEAH YEAH YEAH, SHADOW GOVERNMENT, WHAT ELSE YA GOT? Wait– who’s the guy with the tentacles? Why are there tanks rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue? WHAT IS GOING ON HERE? …oh crap.
Also! Here is a graph. It made me laugh. And think of how my friend T., when we worked in the same SUPERCUBE, would explain Mysterious Male Things like how much it freaks you out when someone gives you an amicable back-pat when you’re standing at the urinal.
Oh! And this one. This one is also very good:
OH. One more. (Sorry.) This one makes me laugh because Friend Kinan and I often have to distinguish between regular “ahahahaha”, where you’re just amused, but not actually laughing, and “HA HA HA HA HAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHHAAH!!!!!!!!” where the other person said something so awesome that you had to drop your head down on your desk to recover. It’s like an ARMS RACE of hahahahaha. Sigh.
May 16, 2008
Naomi made me watch… OKAY. This is going to make me sound like I shill part-time for Big Malt Liquor. But, see, Naomi made me watch this music video for Smirnoff Raw Tea (??? I don’t know, it’s like iced tea with malt liquor..?)
And it was so hilarious I now feel kind of nauseous from laughing and gasping. Also, I really, really, really want to get together with the people who wrote these lyrics. Because I would like them so much, is why.
(I am still not going to buy your boozed-up tea in a can, though. Also, you should know that my one-person focus group has determined that “SMIRNOFF RAW TEA” is the worst name for any product, ever.)
You must watch both the East Coast and West Coast versions. Um, I was going to quote some of the more awesome lines, but I think you should just watch the whole thing.
(But not if you are the kind of person who would be offended by jokes about WASPs driving Saabs or lame Hollywood people with highlights and a pilot deal.)
The one thing that freaks me out about these videos is that the actors in the West Coast clip are basically… making fun of themselves. You know? It’s like one of those bizarre INFINITE CAT things, where they’re LA actors with highlights and Mystic Tans playing LA actors with highlights and Mystic Tans in a way that makes fun of LA actors with highlights and Mystic Tans, but how could you even BE an LA actor with highlights and a Mystic Tan if you had a sense of humor about LA actors with highlights and a Mystic Tan?
THAT IS WHAT I AM SAYING.
May 16, 2008
Yesterday I went to Manager-Guy’s office to meet with him and the other manager-guy. I told them my BRILLIANT IDEAS and they said things like “Hmmm!” and “Let’s keep thinking about that one.” and “HOLY LORD, ENOUGH WITH THE AGRICULTURAL THEMES ALREADY.”
Meetings, as a writer, proceed thusly: You start out with fifteen minutes of chit-chat. Like, if it were a date, this would be the part where you would say things about your job and where you’re from– you know, the segment where you try to figure out if the other person is crazy and/or boring. And then you switch into the part where you talk about things you would like to write, things that will make the person you’re talking to UNTOLD WADS OF CASH (preferably.)
I am okay at the first part. (I think. If you have met with me and think I’m hideous at it… don’t tell me.) The second part, I am still kind of bad at, in really lame ways. I don’t know why writers are so bad at talking about things we want to write. I personally like to go off on these tangents, like so:
GUY IN MEETING
Cool. So what else are you interested in?
Have you ever heard of the Monsanto Corporation?
GUY IN MEETING
I have a fifteen-minute, rambling, boring lecture about soybeans. If you don’t mind.
GUY IN MEETING
(horrified realization of own lameness)
Other kinds of pitching errors I routinely make include:
Okay, so I don’t actually have a plot for this or anything, but I think there’s this guy, he’s like a COMBAT PASTRY CHEF–
And… well. I guess a lot of the errors I make are variants of “Here’s a character or subject I’m interested in, but there’s no story yet”, such as: “I don’t really have a PLOT, but! How do you feel about COD FISHERMEN?”
Now, another writer would probably go “I don’t know, tell me more!” but People You Have Meetings With aren’t writers. So they are pretty clear-eyed about story and plot and unwilling to listen to you talk about migratory patterns of fish for twenty minutes.
So, obviously, I need to work on that. It’s getting better. I imagine that eventually I’ll be a veritable pitching machine! Probably a machine that periodically seizes up, but still.
After the meeting, I went into Manager-Guy’s office, and, AMAZINGLY, had the following conversation:
(looks around office, notices movie poster)
Oh, [Movie X]? Did you like that?
I thought it was sort of bad. REALLY, you liked it?
I kind of, you know, found the property. That’s why this writing here is the filmmaker thanking me.
I need some kind of service dog (OR MONKEY) who can go around with me and nudge me when I’m about to do something spectacularly stupid, perhaps.
(Also, he could bark warningly when I have been talking about soybeans for too long, with “too long” being “anything over ten seconds”.)