Monday, March 31, 2008

Script Frenzy

Script Frenzy is starting up again. That's the writing challenge where you have one month to craft a screen or stage play of at least 100 pages.

Like last year, I was asked to contribute some tips for writers. And once again, I didn't let my complete lack of qualifications stand in my way!

You can see my article here.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Seeing Double

Inspired by the news about the two Harvey Milk films, I thought it would fun to list the times Hollywood released movies on exactly the same topic at around the same time:

WYATT EARP (1993-1994)
"Tombstone," "Wyatt Earp"

VOLCANOES (1997)
"Dante's Peak," "Volcano"

COMPUTER-ANIMATED ANTS (1998)
"Antz," "A Bug's Life"

METEORS (1998)
"Deep Impact," "Armageddon"

MAIN CHARACTER TURNS OUT TO BE A GHOST (1999-2001)
"The Sixth Sense," "The Others"

TRUMAN CAPOTE (2005-2006)
"Capote," "Infamous"

HARVEY MILK (2008-2009)
"Milk," "The Mayor of Castro Street"

I must be forgetting some...

UPDATE: I came across this blog posting on the same topic. And actually, they do a much better job than me! How could I have forgotten "The Truman Show"/"Ed TV" or "The Illusionist"/"The Prestige" (which I even blogged about here).

Oh, oh: and the two Mars movies ("Red Planet," "Mission to Mars") in 2000!

'Milk'-ing It

Okay, this is odd. Remember that movie about Harvey Milk that they just finished shooting? Well, it turns out Bryan Singer (the "Superman Returns" director) is making his own Harvey Milk film.

What the hey? Why does this always happen — Hollywood making two movies about the same thing (like the two Truman Capote films of 2005-2006). In this case it's especially crazy since Harvey Milk is pretty obscure outside the Bay Area.

Speaking of White Things

Has everyone seen this site -- Stuff White People Like? They did a post on San Francisco this month that was fairly amusing. An excerpt:

The City of San Francisco has a very multicultural population that ranges from white to gay to Asian. Within white culture this known as “ideal diversity” for its provision of exotic restaurants while simultaneously preserving property values.

However, it is important to be aware of the fact that regions outside of San Francisco feature many people who are not white, gay or Asian. They are greatly appreciated during the census, but white people are generally very happy that they stay in places like Oakland and Richmond. This enables white people to feel good about living near people of diverse backgrounds without having to directly deal with troublesome issues like income gaps or schooling.

I took issue with this since I think our neighborhood is very diverse. (Unless you exclude the homeless people, and then, well, I guess it's not.)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Pearly Whites

I had to go to the dentist twice in the past week to have my old silver fillings removed. Apparently my George Bush Sr.-era dental work was inadequate and had to be replaced with George Bush Jr.-era fillings, which are tooth-colored.

The sad part is, if I'm approached by a 16-year-old, I can no longer say, "Lassy, I've got fillings older than you."

UPDATE: Coincidentally, I just saw this ranking of the U.S. cities with the cleanest/dirtiest teeth. San Francisco scores okay, getting a B grade.

The second-worst city (after Lubbock, Texas) was Philadelphia! I wonder if this factors into their ugly ranking.

Fashion!


Here's a picture of the offending t-shirt described earlier.

I thought the idea of "dead presidents" was bad-assed.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

MapJack

Check out this awesome new mapping site: MapJack.

It's kind of like Google's street-view feature, but it lets you see things with a lot more detail. You can spin all around and zoom in on stuff and everything.

Unfortunately, it only works for three cities so far: San Francisco, Sausalito and Chiang Mai, Thailand (yeah, those would have been my first three choices too).

Unlike with Google, you can go all the way down our little alleyway and even peer in our windows! Fortunately, our curtains are closed.

Here's what it looks like:

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Look Familiar?

You may remember I did a blog post last year about some lookalike bridges around the country.

Well, this takes the cake!

BuboBlog has learned that Lisbon has a bridge that looks almost exactly like the Golden Gate. BuboBlog East Bay Correspondent Tara recently returned from a trip to Portugal with a postcard of Lisbon's "25th of April" bridge (pictured). What gives, Portugal?!

It turns out this bridge was built about 30 years after ours by the same construction company.

Actually, upon closer inspection, you'll notice that the Golden Gate has more of an art deco look to its towers (see below). That makes it cooler, I'd say. Theirs looks like a cheesy erector set.

The one thing that the Portuguese bridge has over us -- trains run on it. That was once planned for the Golden Gate as well, but to date, it's never happened. (Mainly because Marin County desperately wants to keep us city folk out.)

Something Different All Right

Yesterday Kelly and I were browsing in a Japantown shop that I think was called "Something Different!" It mainly sells Japanese knickknacks with nonsensical English translations -- if translations appear at all.

I especially enjoyed a chopstick set emblazoned with the phrase "I LIKE WHITE CAKE!" The best part, Kelly noted, was the name of the manufacturer: Lube Sheep. I sincerely hope they just chose the name by picking two random words from an English dictionary -- and that it isn't meant as instructions for lonely farmers.

Friday, March 21, 2008

'Solitaire'

Good news: It looks like my latest play, "Solitaire," will get a short run in the D.C. area in May and/or June. Not sure we'll be able to see it in person, but I hope so.

My storming of the nation's community theater houses continues!

Mr. President

So recently we attended a Haverford event in the Presidio and got to meet the new president, Steve Emerson. He seemed like a nice guy — and apparently a sharp cookie. He's bringing his stem-cell lab to campus, making Haverford the first small college in America to have such a thing. (Hopefully they'll let alumni stop by if, say, they need to regrow an arm or something.)

There was a tense moment when Emerson (a Haverford alum himself) said that he was the second-worst lacrosse player in the history of the school. I starting to stand to say, "Never in all my years have I been so insulted..." but then he named the worst guy and it wasn't me. (Good thing, since they could have kissed goodbye my annual $25 alumni gift.)

Afterwards, they handed out a T-shirt with a photo montage of all the Haverford presidents (Emerson was in the middle). I've worn it a couple times now, but apparently someone thinks it's the "dorkiest shirt they've ever seen" and "not even cool to wear around the house."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

More Musings on Australia

It's been a few weeks now, but I wanted to share some additional findings from my trip Down Under.

FUNNY MONEY: Australian currency is a bit odd. The smaller the domination, the larger the coin. The $2 coin was smaller than the $1 coin, which was smaller than the 50-cent piece. Fortunately they don't mint pennies anymore, because I'm sure they were the size of dinner plates!

THE HOMELESS: We didn't see too many homeless people in Sydney, despite it being a large, bustling city. I can only imagine your typical homeless person can't afford the time and expense it takes to fly to Australia.

SAY IT DON'T SPRAY IT: When you land in Australia — after 14 hours of flying — they announce that they have to "spray down the plane." We thought this meant they were going to clean the outside of the aircraft. But no, a team of people come through the plane and spray you down with canisters of insecticide or something. I guess they're afraid of bringing in some new species, but still...it was pretty scary. Especially since people were totally tired and scruffy from the flight. Very "Schindler's List."

CARS: A lot of people drive these crazy cars called Holdens. Apparently they're made by General Motors. What's really funny is there's some rivalry between Ford and Holden in Australia —something like the Ford-vs.-Chevvy rivalry among U.S. rednecks. Sadly, I didn't see any Calvin decals where he's peeing on a Holden.

TRANSIT: Sydney has a pretty modest light-rail system, but they do have a Monorail. And you have to love any city with a Monorail (except Anaheim).

TELEVISION: Most of the TV was either American or British. And that's just as well because some of the Australian-produced shows we saw looked like they had been shot with someone's cell phone. I guess I can understand why they send all their actors to Hollywood. Another funny thing: I was watching a documentary and they had a "warning" message beforehand. I thought it was going to be about graphic violence or sex. No, it was to warn any aboriginal people that there may be video of people who have passed away in the documentary — so they maybe shouldn't watch (apparently this freaks them out). Um, wha?? I mean, I'm all for respecting other cultures, but that's just condescending.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

'Milk' Update

So, we haven't seen any stars, but they did park a ton of cool vintage cars on Langton near the Brainwash laundromat. Lots of old Pontiacs, etc. Plus there was a '70s-era SFPD squad car and a UPS truck.

They had to do a scene where one of the cars broke down, so the crew fed a smoke machine through the engine, to make it smoke. I'll be very excited when I see this scene on the big screen! (Yeah! Smoke!! Wahooo!!!)

Update to the update: Looks like they wrapped filming.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Excitement Turns to Annoyance for Blogger

So we came home last night and saw that the film production crew for the movie "Milk" had put up signs all over our neighborhood (pictured: Sean Penn, who's playing Milk, on the right). Apparently they're going to be shooting some scenes here, dressing up the place like the 1970s (fortunately, our homeless people have that timeless biblical look about them).

Then I discovered that they took all the parking spots and demanded that I move my non-1970s car. Bastards!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wellington: a Photo Essay

We spent about a week in Wellington, New Zealand, which wasn't unlike San Francisco in a lot of ways (hilly, earthquake country with pleasant weather). Here are a few pictures.

This naked dude presides over the Harbor.


You can take a cable car up to the hills, where they have gardens and stuff.


The view from the top.


We went on a "Lord of the Rings" tour, to see some of the sights from the movie. Just so you know, most of the impressive sights from the movie were on New Zealand's South Island. We were on the North Island. So they would take us to a city park and point out a bush and tell us that Gandalf walked by that bush in movie (yeah, well it was a lot more impressive when there was a giant computer-generated castle behind him).


They used this path for a scene where the hobbits run away from the dementors (or something).


They used this tree for publicity shots of Orlando Bloom.


I think this is the same tree -- hard to tell. The guide might have sold us a bill of goods.


This is me being attacked by an emu. Or an eagle attacking an emu attacking me. Or something.


Inside a Maori hut.

Monday, March 10, 2008

What the...

I've always heard that, despite what you see on TV, it's basically impossible to fall down an elevator shaft. Well, apparently it is possible. You just have to be in the Tenderloin, get in a fight with two other guys, and (most likely) be incredibly drunk.

Um, bravo. I guess...

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Blogger, Uncle...Now Godfather

In more important news, I'm officially a godfather. My brother's wife gave birth to a baby girl (Marguerite) last week. Congratulations to them. I am still learning the ropes of my godfather duties. Apparently it *doesn't* require me to have anyone killed.

'Fissure' Update

"Fissure" has been accepted into another festival -- the AFI Dallas International Film Festival. I don't think we'll be able to attend, but it's happening in late March and early April.

We're going to try to go to the Hollywood festival next month. It's playing Friday, April 11, "at the Raleigh Studios Chaplin Theater at 5300 Melrose in the heart of Hollywood."

'Cool' Blog

As an editor, I'm always on the lookout for inappropriate use of quotation marks (or "inverted commas" as my British co-workers call them).

So I was thrilled to discover this Web site — thanks to BuboBlog West Philadelphia correspondent Guy.

When I was in college, we tried to throw a party with free beer. (At the time, people usually charged $2.) The guy who did the invitation decided to put "free beer" in quotation marks. That suggested to others that perhaps the beer wasn't in fact free, but would be offered in exchange for something else. Controversy ensued! (It didn't help that there were some very inappropriate drawings on the invite as well.)

Anyway, watch those quotation marks!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Sydney: a Photo Essay

Here are some photos of our trip (mostly taken by Kelly)...

We saw a lot of these birds in Sydney, along with the usual pigeons and seagulls. I made the mistake of asking a New Zealand man about them, saying that I had seen these birds in Australia with long beaks that spent a lot of time rooting through the trash. He said they were called "Australian women."


We went to a wildlife exhibit where they bragged nonstop about how Australia has the deadliest everything (deadliest spider, deadliest snake, deadliest platypus). Normally I insist on telling foreigners that the U.S.A. is No. 1, but I guess I'm okay with ranking low on these lists.


This lizard is real (unlike the one next to me above).


This little guy didn't look so deadly, but you never know. I kept a safe distance.


Here's me in front of the Harbour Bridge. If you look closely behind my head, you can see...


...people, climbing on top. (We didn't do that.)


We saw "Carmen" at the opera.


I like how this shot makes it look like a conquistador helmet.


Another cool shot.


We saw some wallabies, but sadly no kangaroos! I also didn't get a chance to eat kangaroo. (I've heard they are way overpopulated, so eating a kangaroo or two is a big favor. Not sure about wallabies.)


I took this one; hence, the masterful framing.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Brrr....

I'm in New York this weekend for a wedding. From Sydney in summer (nice) to California in winter (not so bad) to New York in winter (freezing) -- it's hard on a brother!