Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Finally, a Good Writers Guild Video

Writers Guild Contest Winner - Watch more free videos

Monday, January 21, 2008

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Whys and Why Nots

So I’m thinking, once again, about the whys and why nots of my attitude toward the striking writers and after some introspection, I’ve come to several conclusions.

One, I think screenwriting is hackwork. You write scripts, you’re a hack, because you put together little bits of ideas and words and occasional full sentences and you create a dialog. I think that’s hackwork. I don’t like ad copywriting either because I think that’s hackwork also.

Two, I think getting paid enormous amounts of union-protected dough to do what most people do every day is not laborious. Picking up other people’s garbage? That’s laborious. Washing other people’s clothes and scrubbing their floors and emptying their bedpans——that’s laborious. Poring over pages of computer code, tarring a roof in the hot sun, making cold calls to sell life insurance, unplugging someone’s toilet, working at Hot Dog on a Stick——that’s incredibly laborious.

Getting into the writers’ union? That’s laborious, and also amazingly difficult, even to seasoned writers. There are even some professional scriptwriters who, after going through the mysterious Guild process of seeing who gets final credit for a script, are amazed at the protectionism and, uh——what’s the word?——favoritism that goes on at the Guild.

I’ll give you an example: Ed Norton, the actor, rewrote the script for the biopic Frida and, because he wasn’t in the Guild, he didn’t receive any writing credit. The same thing happened to Richard Pryor, who rewrote much of the dialog in his movies.

And so, because of this perceived unfairness by many professional entertainment industry people outside the Guild, they couldn’t give a rat’s ass for the Guild when they start to ask for more power and money.

Three, I am not friends with one person in the Writers Guild, yet I know at least one person in the Directors Guild, the Editors Guild, the Producers Guild and, of course, the Screen Actors Guild. I don’t know one stinkin’ union writer to feel sorry for, and no, those little videos they produce don’t make me feel sorry for them either.

My industry friends, some who now work strictly in advertising, think this is the end of the Writers Guild. Instead of production companies signing negotiated contracts with the striking writers, striking writers and many non-striking writers will sign individual contracts with the studios, all negotiated through their agents, instead of through a union.

You’ll see 17-year-old Randy from Wisconsin, who’s a big star on YouTube, get a production deal. Or a film editor, who is good with working on movies and TV shows that are not fully scripted or even unscripted, get development deals. After all, it’s been said that a film editor was responsible for Borat’s movie actually being funny.

The recent spate of movies by Judd Apatow and friends were all virtually unscripted. What if a movie studio promised writing credits to actors who were especially good at improvising their lines?

That’s what happens when the people in power are forced to adjust. They create change, often for the better (reality shows) and often for the worse (reality shows).

Okay, now that I’ve got that off my chest, let me tell you about this idea I have for a movie involving L.A. street gangs. It’s pretty good, actually. And all the lines are improvised, as is most of the action. But there’s this one little inciting event…

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

It's Official

Slate is saying it. The New York Times is sort of saying it. Alan Greenspan keeps mentioning it as if he were an odds maker. And even Bush made some allusion to it.

Yes, we are definitely, most positively, but only probably in or near a recession. Whatever. I read somewhere that the housing market is in so much trouble right now, particularly in California, that it may not recover for another 10 years!

Meanwhile, the Writers Guild is pressing on with their case. First of all, I'm not anti-union. I belong to SAG, after all, and freelance for the Editors Guild. Unions aren't the problem. It's unions with no power that are the problem, and the Writers Guild is a union with no power.

Any time, recession or not, a trash collectors union wants more money, all it has to do is stop collecting trash. People can't conduct their daily lives without someone collecting their trash, so we give in and pay these folks more money.

The Writers Guild stops our awards shows, movies, and scripted TV shows –– so what? People turn to books, cable TV, DVD. They talk to each other more often. They go on the Internet and illegally download music and stuff. We, as consumers of entertainment, got other choices. Meanwhile, a whole lot of people in California are going without paychecks...and losing their homes and their livelihoods.

How will this affect me? Recently, a dozen people got laid off in my office. No TV shows means a slowdown in advertising. I don't like to see people get laid off, or out of work, especially on the brink of a recession.

Fortunately, this time around, I'm more prepared for this recession. I have a regular job. But get this: the HR person at my company has been fielding resumes from several out-of-work actors and entertainment industry folk. What does she do with these? She puts them in the "laugh" bin. Why laugh? Because she knows that as soon as the strike breaks, these people will be back pursuing their acting and entertainment careers.

So to all you striking writers, you're living in a dreamworld. And you're taking all the other dreamers with you. Until you all realize that 4 cents was a pretty good deal after all.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Eatin' around Town

Don't mean to turn this into some sort of food blog, but occasional actors do need to eat. So, I made some notes about the places I've been hittin', most of them with my girl of course.

Tani Restaurant in Old Town Pasadena just came on the radar recently. I noticed it listed among the restaurants in L.A. Restaurant Week, coming up around the end of January. As the name "restaurant week" does not imply, it is, like most other cities' restaurant weeks, not confined to one week but usually two.

Tani is listed, and I started to wonder why, since when me and the girl were last in New York, their restaurant week featured several of the town's best restaurants. So, does that mean Tani is potentially a great restaurant? Really don't know, even after trying it out on last Sunday afternoon around 4.

First off, I must recommend the Poky Salad, which has ample cubes of raw fish. An awesome choice, just as an entrée. Then there's the spicy scallop roll, which I've never tried before at any restaurant, although it does seem to make sense. The third thing I'd recommend is the Japanese mackerel sushi, something they amazingly serve for under market price.

Mackerel sushi is not for everyone, but when I order it, it either has to be Spanish mackerel or I'm not having it. But when they say they have Japanese mackerel, I always lighten up. Some folks use Spanish mackerel as bait for catching bigger fish. But Japanese mackerel at a discount price? That's like Wal-Mart selling toothpaste for below cost. Well, something like that.

The rest were pretty standard or even sub-standard. Don't order the uni until they get more traffic, because as one uni distributor told me and the gal at the Japanese Food Festival last October, uni should be yellow, not brown, and firm like a tongue, not mashy like, well, a tongue when you're kissin' your sweetheart.

Oh, for those who aren't familiar with uni, it's sea urchin, which is a small sea animal with spikes on the outside much like a porcupine's.

We also have been visiting this all-you-can-eat shabu shabu place in Weller Court in Little Tokyo, particularly on cold or rainy days. There's something about eating steaming meat and vegetables, and sharing a bottle of decent sake, on a day like that. I can't tell you the name of the place because I keep forgetting it, but it's on the 3rd floor, it's open 7 days a week and they apparently have an all-you-can-drink option as well. If you see a guy there who looks like the Asian nemesis in Robocop 3, it probably is. Bruce Locke is the one who told me about this place.

One last place I'll mention is Cafe Metropol, but the only way you're finding that place is to Google it or if you know where the restaurant R23 is. Metropol is just down the road from R23, and you actually can't miss driving by it when going through that little alleyway. Try the Sirloin burger and have a bottle of Chimay blue. You'll thank me later.

By the way, must mention that we went to Prince recently (the restaurant, not the singer) and had one of the politest servers we ever experienced. He even refilled our chips and salsa without asking. Something odd is happening at that place. White men are starting to dine there alone, at the bar, just like many Korean businessmen do. I mean, it's typical to see the occasional group of white folk there, but never alone, and rarely at the bar.

Another phenomenon we've been noticing while furniture shopping at some of the Korean furniture shops in L.A.: white customers not even noticing the loud, tacky Korean pop music playing loudly over the speakers. Okay, that's just weird.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Wii Headtracking Demo

I love how there's this paradigm shift in how Asians, who once were viewed as geeky and unattractive, are now geekily attractive. I especially like how this guy explains everything in layperson's language so simple an idiot like me can understand it.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Bill Gates' Last Day Tribute

Microsoft has hired me for some sort of print job every year for the past four years. I gotta hand it to them. They pay their talent pretty darn well, and in my opinion, they have awfully good taste in who they pick.

Bill Gates Last Day Of Work - Watch more free videos


It's been about 2 months since my last print or commercial audition and I'm starting to wonder if I'll ever be called for another one. This last holiday season, I also didn't send my agents a Christmas gift, which I did to much appreciation last year.

I wanted to send them something, since I did have my best year ever in 2007 for print and commercial work. But I just don't know about it anymore, this whole acting/modeling stuff. I'm really feeling ambivalent about it.

Maybe I'm just getting too old for this stuff and not wanting to bother to get cleaned up for another audition. Maybe I've just got way too much stuff going on with the wedding plans and, also, moving into the new condo with the wife-to-be. Or, maybe I'm feeling content with the way my acting/modeling career has gone and I can now leave it behind without any regrets.

The new job at the ad agency is going very nicely. In fact, the office was closed most of the last two weeks of 2007. What an awesome way to end the year —— getting paid to spend time with loved ones during the holidays!

Granted, the level of my work now takes on a whole new dimension. I may not do as much work on a day-to-day basis, but the work I do gets scrutinized at geometrically higher pressure levels. The client also gives weekly reviews on when we do a good or bad job. Apparently, I got an honorable mention during one of these reviews. A good honorable mention, I should say.

Sometimes I don't do any work all day, and then just when I'm preparing to go home, I get a stack of TV spots that need to be looked at ASAP, with all their legalese needing extra concentration.

I'm also getting a steady stream of freelance proofreading and editing work, which is great for filling up the slow periods during the day. Double-dipping, as we independent contractors often say.

Yeah, I think I can put off going back to auditioning for a while. Something about full-time work at a great company seems to appeal to me right now.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Protect Yer Testicleez

Highly doubt I'd show up to this audition.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008