Posts in: August 2011

A Musical Tribute to Failure

I was gonna change the world…
But I’m not gonna change the world…
I was gonna change my ways…
But I have not changed…

I try not to dwell on feelings of failure, which is difficult considering the heady combination of low self-esteem and poor decisions that guides my life. It’s easy to beat on myself for laying out goals and falling short of them, but there’s something to be said for putting forth the effort, even if I don’t achieve what I want in the exact way that I want it.

Let’s have a seat on the porch while I grab my whittlin’ stick and tell you how things were back in Granpappy Bates’s day. I grew up right on the cusp of the touchy-feely era of the blandly supportive “everyone gets a trophy” mentality. When I was a kid and played sports, and sucked at them, I didn’t get a trophy. I didn’t have a cheerful coach saying, “Good effort!” in an upbeat, sing-songy way. I got yelled at by the coaches, ridiculed by my teammates, and ashamed looks from my dad. That’s the way things are supposed to be. Because it undoubtedly contributed to the kneecapping of my self-esteem, but it also helped me deal with rejection, failure, and the abject humiliation of the hilariously incompetent. It motivated me to find areas where I could excel, such as writing terrible grunge songs and beating the shit out of people who were 1-2% nerdier than I was. I miss junior high.

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Don’t Preorder

[I intended to write a new Cannon Corner today, but I had shit to do, so I didn’t get a chance to watch any Cannon films over the weekend. Let’s say it’ll happen next week!]

I cannot express in words my love for Albert Brooks. For Defending Your Life alone, he sits high on my pantheon of comedy gods, just below Woody Allen and George Carlin. But he also created Comedy Plus One, Lost in America, Real Life, Mother, Modern Romance, postmodern standup (a precursor to the alt-comedy of today, only funny), and even Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World. That last is the shakiest entry on his list of accomplishments, but give it a chance. It goes down more smoothly if you understand how Brooks’s standup works, but even without that knowledge, it has a ton of genuine, big laughs.

When it was announced, after what many (including me) assumed was unofficial retirement from the cinematic auteur game, his first-ever novel would be published, I got excited. Not many filmmakers can make that transition (ever read Ethan Coen’s fiction?), but I figured Brooks would be a natural fit. Like Woody Allen, his films come across like works of the hyper-literate (he’s just not as insecure and show-offy about it as Allen); his comedy comes mainly from deconstructing conventions and contemplating the human condition. Plus, he knows how to construct a joke, which makes it easier to bear the possibility of slogging through crappy writing.

An effusive New York Times review and compelling Adam Carolla interview had me salivating for it. I did something I’ve never done before: preordered a book at a reasonably high price.

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Dual Script Reviews — Conan and Untitled Lucas & Moore Comedy (a.k.a., Flypaper)

It’s been awhile, and I figured I should get back into this since I’ve noticed a half-dozen scripts I’ve read have made their thrilling theatrical (or direct-to-video) releases over the past few months, and I failed to reenact the death of Dennis Nedry by spewing poisonous dilophosaur bile in their general direction.

I’ll be honest: I haven’t really kept up on movies this year. I think, after the end of The Parallax Review, the only new releases I’ve seen have been Source Code, Bridesmaids, and The Tree of Life. Oh, and Super, the movie of the year. After hearing some positive buzz, I did decide to check out Ceremony to see if it amounted to more than its terrible script. I made it through about fifteen minutes before my Z’Dar-esque face flushed with rage and I shut it off in disgust.

Below, I’ll be reviewing scripts for two more movies I’ll probably never see. I may check out Conan solely because the love of my life, Rachel Nichols, is in it. As she knows from the thousands of fan letters I’ve sent, I will watch anything she’s in from P2 to blurry secret recordings of the outside of her house recorded by a crappy cell phone. Not my crappy cell phone. A totally different one that I also own.

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Podcast: Subject to Change, Episode 5: Readers

D.B. gets bored waiting for Tarini, so he amuses himself by playing a couple of Bruce Springsteen songs. Then, he and Tarini talk about the various and sundry horrors of script-reading, prompting D.B. to talk about Choose for the 983rd time. Tarini also reviews Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (contains spoilers!).

Press the “Play” button to listen.

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Reader — Chapters 32-34

I had something in my head to complain about yesterday, but I never got to blogging, and now I forgot it. So, instead, here are three 100% context-free chapters of the novel I’ve been working on, Reader. They’re unpolished, first-draft chapters, which means they’re going to be awesome. Enjoy!

For those interested in the progress, I’ve divided the story into five sections, giving it what I pretentiously think of as a Shakespearean five-act structure. These three chapters come toward the end of the first section. Right now, I’m early in section three.

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