I Read All 3000 Pages of Ian Fleming’s Groovy 007 Oeuvre

NOTE: This post originally appeared on September 13, 2013. I’m republishing it today for Ian Fleming’s 108th birthday.

Ian FlemingIn May of 2012, I finished a five-month stint of watching all the James Bond movies in order. When I was done, I somehow found myself no less unemployed than when I’d started, so I opted to rectify that the only way I knew how: by reading in order all of Ian Fleming’s 007 books — 12 novels and two short-story collections. It took me over a year, a rate of about one book per month.

I’d read two of Fleming’s stories before — Casino Royale 12 or 13 years ago, and Goldfinger when I was a teenager, from which for some reason I’ve always remembered the sentence, “Bond felt the skin-crawling tickle at the groin that dates from one’s first game of hide and seek in the dark.” — long enough ago that I didn’t know what to expect in terms of quality, theme, character, or anything else.

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Meet My First Best Friend

NOTE: This post was originally published May 15, 2012. I’m reposting it at the kind request of my good friend Kay Morgan.


I traveled back to my hometown of Pittsburgh this week for the first time in two years. I made the trip for my grandmother’s ninetieth birthday party, so there was a lot of going through old family photos. I kept a few of the ones of — with apologies to all the humans I’ve known — the best friend I ever had until I met wife, my childhood dog Mindy.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.