Art That Changed My Life: The Counterfeiters
NOTE: This post was originally published Sep. 11, 2012. I’m reposting it for Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The Counterfeiters – directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky (2007)

The Counterfeiters
My dad’s Catholic; my mom’s Jewish. So by the rules of Judaism, I’m Jewish. I certainly have the typical family for it, with the sheer size and volume of my mom’s side 1Her father was the youngest of 11 children. drowning out my dad’s small, quiet side. If I called my maternal grandmother, all I had to do was ask her one question and sit back and listen for an hour. If I called my dad’s mother, I needed a ream of material to keep her on the phone for five minutes.

But I never had the belief for Judaism. My sister and I were raised with samples from both religions: a Christmas tree with a star of David on top, Dukes of Hazzard action figures for Hanukkah. Between birth and high school I’d been to temple maybe twice. It took me a few years to realize that the illustrated book of stories that my maternal grandmother gave me, full of cities being destroyed and big dudes getting killed by rocks, were all tales from the Old Testament. I was allowed to make up my own mind about religion, and that combined with a steady dose of ontological science fiction put me on a slow but reasonably steady path toward atheism and a general lack of interest in religion.

Continue reading

   [ + ]

1. Her father was the youngest of 11 children.
Music for Air Drumming

Oh, so you like to play air guitar? Well tell it to your Tamagotchi on your Friendster page, because air guitar is over. For we cools it’s all about air drum. Here’s a Spotify playlist of two hours of music 1One which leans heavily on loud rock, because that’s what I most enjoy air drumming to. that teaches you if you free your arms your ass will follow.

WARNING: This playlist is not for noobz!!1! If you lack energy, precision, maniacal limb flailing, or Intense Air Percussion Facial Expressions, you’re gonna be outclassed. For example, when I asked for suggestions to build this list, chump after chump came at me with “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins, calling it the greatest air drumming song ever. WRONG. “ItAT” is for amateurs and pattern baldies. Put away childish things and step into the pros. The true greatest air drumming song ever begins this list, pummels Phil’s drum machine into plastic crumbs, and it is:

See the list →

   [ + ]

1. One which leans heavily on loud rock, because that’s what I most enjoy air drumming to.
Five Essential Apps for Screenwriters

Five Essential Apps for ScreenwritingWriting scripts is an inherently different craft than writing prose — one’s like being an architect, the other a sculptor. And just like architects and sculptors use different tools (except for the really bad ones), screenwriters need different software than the people who write those heavy, flappy things I use to kill spiders. (Boogs? Bocks?) Here are five apps I can’t work without.

Continue reading

I Wrote a New Pilot About Baseball. Someone Should Read It.

This weekend I finished a new half-hour pilot script. It’s titled The Perfect Game, and it’s about a hipster artisanal baseball team that goes pro. They’re called the Portland Zeitgeist. I love it. It’s my ninth pilot.

Yes, nine pilots. Seven of which I wrote since I moved to LA and which, when added to two specs and a screenplay, means I’ve written 10 scripts in six years. 1Plus work for MADPuppet Nation, BBC America, etc. Along with creating and producing a full episode of a radio comedy that the Los Angeles Times loved, starring one of Hollywood’s most talented actors who also happens to co-star on one of TV’s most successful shows.

Continue reading

   [ + ]

1. Plus work for MADPuppet Nation, BBC America, etc.
How Star Wars: The Radio Drama Pre-Copied Special Relativity

Today I started listening to Star Wars: The Radio Drama produced in 1981 by NPR. It’s five hours long, so it includes several original scenes not even hinted at in the movie, including one that prefaces the film’s opening encounter between Princess Leia and the Empire. In it Leia is confronted by Lord Tion, an Impreial Doofus who tries to get into her pants.

I immediately noticed an eerie similarity between the performance of John Considine as Tion and the performance of James Urbaniak as Mr. Wandell in my own sci-fi radio show, Special Relativity. I created a short video with a side-by-side comparison of the two. It’s uncanny. Listen:

As I edited the clips, I realized how strangely alike these two scenes are. Leia (played by Ann Sachs) and Nox (played by Alex Borstein) both confront men they disdain. Wandell gets all smarmy because he’s afraid Nox is going to kill him; Tion gets all smarmy because he wants to boink Leia. Mine ends with an exploding tripe bomb; I think Star Wars does too.

As far as I know, neither James nor I had heard Star Wars: The Radio Drama before, so this isn’t copying. Special Relativity does involve time travel, so I’m obligated to think this might be some sort of pre-copying on the part of the Lucas people. Either way, it’s clearly a sign that I’m sitting on a multi-billion dollar empire. Finally.

I Make Web Sites for Writers and Artists. Here’s a New One.

Henry BialHere’s another web site I designed and built, this one for the author and performance-studies powerhouse Henry Bial. A professor of theater and the director of the School of Arts at the University of Kansas, Henry’s latest book is Playing God, a history of the Bible on the Broadway stage. According to his new blog, you can get a copy for 30% off when you buy it from the University of Michigan Press using the promo code UMBIAL16.

I spent a long time as a Very Qualified Internet Professional, and now I enjoy making custom sites for artists, writers, and other creative types who otherwise wouldn’t have the means to have them — like this one for the great crime writer Jason Miller. (Not to mention the home for my radio show Special Relativity.) If you’re one of those people and would like me to help make your web dreams come true, email me.

Pull the Mask Off of OCD
NOTE: Irrational anxiety is not a necessary part of life. Help is available, and the International OCD Foundation is a great place to start looking. Click here for the history of my own OCD and to learn and why you have nothing to fear.

Being an unemployed TV writer, especially an unrepresented one, consists mainly of being ignored. I write scripts no one reads, send emails no one responds to, and spend my days sitting alone at home waiting for a passage to materialize in the void and a hand to come through it and tap me on the shoulder.

It was with that feeling that I woke up yesterday morning and the thought popped into my head that it could make no possible difference to anyone if I didn’t get out of bed. No one would notice. The world would spin happily along outside not pausing to think about me, or if it did, because it was deleting me from its phone contacts, it would assume I was happily doing whatever it is I usually do. It wouldn’t care. So I stayed in bed. I laid there, sad and hurt that no one cared whether I was alive or dead, and refusing to see a reason to face another day during which it made no difference whether I was conscious or not.

Continue reading