Archive for the ‘MFH a.k.a. Mike’ Category

So I just read that a legislator from Chicago wants to have that city declared America’s 51st state.  I like Chicago.  I ran the marathon there last year and look for any opportunity to point out that I did.  I like Chicago but this feels more like a New York City move.

There is no city in the world more narcissistic than New York.  Every TV show has to be set there, every movie has to be set there.  Jeter is “the best shortstop ever” because he plays there whereas he would be “the most okay shortstop ever” if he was on the Brewers.  Yet you can’t piss on the sidewalk in New York without hitting some resident (also pissing on the sidewalk) assuring you that you are both pissing on the sidewalks of the “best city in the world!”.

Yes, New York is the best city in the world…provided you’ve never been to London.  Or Barcelona.  Or Dubai.  or San Francisco.  Or any number of other cities that are equal to or better than New York.  Besides, is this purely an American affliction?  The constant declaration of one land mass to be superior to another?  I mean, if one place is really cool eventually what made it cool get watered down with a bunch of posers showing up to bask in that reflected light (I’m looking at you, NYC.  Maybe you were cool in the ’70’s but now you’re just a bunch of dudes in Yankee hats who really wish they lived in Jersey).  It isn’t the capital of the world, it isn’t the capital of America and I’m pretty sure it’s not even the capital of New York state.

But I digress, my point is that this lobbying for statehood seems like something directly out of the New York City playbook.  ‘Hey, we’re the best city in the world, we should be a state.  Red Sox suck!’ and I for one expect better of my midwestern states/cities.  I live on the East Coast, these types of things are expected of us.  We are the A-hole first born of the nation; entitled, lazy, declining in actual power.  But, Chicago, you are the capital of our middle siblings; reliable, steady and genuinely nice (I bet you say hi to Iowa every time you see them, right?), you are expected to just be decent and not rock the boat.  Or at least not rock the boat for an idea so foolish that New Yorkers haven’t even come up with it yet.

Just to finish the analogy, the West Coast is like the younger sibling that nobody really knows who is off “doing something with computers” who shows up for a family dinner last night with a spouse no one knew about and a million dollars that no one can account for.

Anyway, Chicago, surely you know that you are free to do what ever you want but proceed with the knowledge that should you pursue this is will be at the risk of losing the silent respect of anonymous blogger and ask yourself if you are willing to sacrifice that.

Besides, would the map then have Illinois, like wrapped around the state of Chicago?  Ridiculous!




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So Alec Baldwin walked out of the Emmy’s last night after the FOX Network nixed a joke about the phone hacking scandal in which their parent company is currently embroiled.  Now far be it from me to come to the defense of Jack Daughnagy but I think the man has a point.

Baldwin’s rationalization was that the entirety of the sketch had would be compromised were it to lose that single joke.  Maybe so or maybe not.  Have you ever watched the deleted scenes from a movie and wondered how the film would have played (better or worse) had those scenes remained?  And, as an aside, have you ever wondered about the quality of a screenplay that has entire blocks that can be omitted and still be a coherent story?  But I’ve gone adrift.

My point, and I do have one, is this: sometimes the whole is compromised by the elimination of a part.  I will use my life as an example but only because I think everybody cares what happens to me.

Three years ago I had a son who was born seven weeks early.  I guess a more concise way of saying that is I have a three year old son who was born seven weeks early (it would be less hilarious if the reader thought I “had” a son instead of “have” a son).  Either way, my kid comes out of the oven before he is fully cooked.  It is a scary time; ambulance rides, confusing jargons and no doctors who want to kiss me (which always happens in TV hospitals).  He’s born and put on a machine that breathes for him.  A machine that eats for him.  A machine that makes his heart beat.  A machine that poops for him (and even that poop was gross).

When I get to go home (wifey and the kid are stuck in the hospital), the first thing I do is get a vasectomy.  Then I send out an email to everyone announcing the blessed event.  Basically it is nuts and bolts (weight, length) but I throw in a flourish or two.  One of which being “he is small and tough like his mother and he came prematurely like his father”.

My wife calls and asks where the hell I am (I tend to lose all track of time on the internet) and I read her my email.  No way.  She nixes the “came prematurely” bit.  She says there is no way that is going in an email about a kid who still only merits a shrug from doctors when we ask what will happen next.  I argue that that’s the best part.  I argue that without that line the email is pretty much the same as all the other birth announcements piling up in my trash folder.  She makes a buzzer sound like a game show and orders it out.

And, like my second favorite Baldwin (my first is the Harlem Renaissance author James), I remove the offending line.  I break the continuity of the entire bit and make it very bland.  Had I been thinking clearly, I would have walked off the project.  I would have asked to remove my name from the whole thing.  But instead I did the opposite.  I signed it and hit send.

I have 34 people in my contacts, the Emmys was probably viewed by twice that.  Here three and a half years later I am still (obviously) concerned about the judgement past by my distribution list so I can only imagine what Mr. Baldwin was thinking when word came down that his bit was being edited.  He likely was concerned he would be burning all the goodwill engendered recently from ’30 Rock’, hosting the Oscars and his supporting turn in “The Departed”  and we would be looking at him and asking why the guy from “Mercury Rising” ruined the Emmys?


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…the movie, not the holiday.

So my wife broke into our netflix queue last week and bumped the Ashton Kutcher opus Valentine’s Day to the top so that we would have it in time to “enjoy” by Saturday.  For the uninitiated, it is like Love Actually (and you cannot understand how difficult it was for me to write that; Valentine’s Day is a movie like  Love Actually in the same manner that I am a basketball player like LeBron James) but basically a bunch of seemingly disperate characters shockingly become inter-locked by the end.

I am, more or less, playing with my phone and looking up exclusively when there is a Jessica on the screen (Alba, Biel (alphabetically)).  But my wife is trying to piece it together like we are watching an M. Night Shyamalan puzzle that she is trying to solve; guessing how each piece fits with another.  Then we have this exchange:

Her: So they’ll end up together.

Me: What?  Who?

Her: Ashton and Ben Affleck’s wife.

Me: Aren’t they brother and sister?

Her: I don’t think so.

Me:  I’m pretty sure they are.

Her: Well, that would be interesting.

Turns out she was right.  On all counts.  They weren’t brother and sister.  They did end up together.  And that would have been interesting.  I mean, as it stands it is an incredibly weightless bit of pop fluff but to add the brother-sister element makes it feel like you’re reading a John Irving novel.  I’m not saying that I endorse this tact, I’m just saying that at least it would make for a more interesting film.

Can’t wait for New Years Eve!


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1).  I love dialogue.  In movies (and in real-life) pretty much all I’m looking for is erudite conversation.  When I write, all the notes come back “Great dialogue.  Meh, everything else”.  I love dialogue.  But the first ten minutes of this movie was so rich and so dense with two people talking that even I found myself thinking that if it continued like this for two hours my head would explode.  These ten minutes alone should get Sorkin an Oscar.

2).  Five years ago if I asked you who’s career you would rather have Michael Cera’s or Jesse Eisenberg’s, I would imagine that no one would pick the latter.  Both cut from the same stammering nebbish cloth, Eisenberg seemed like the guy studios went to when they couldn’t get Cera.  Now I would have to say that Eisenberg is on the verge of the A-list while Cera is dangerously close to a lifetime of playing GeorgeMichael Bluth.   Plus “Zombieland” was the bomb!

3).  Does anyone else think that casting a single actor to play the Winklevoss twins seems like a bit of tying-one’s-hand-behind-one’s-back on Fincher’s part?  Really, there were no actual twins who could have played those roles?  You had to “Benjamin Button” one guy to get the effect wanted?  I mean, it worked but it smacked of the kind of thing a director would do strictly to impress his peers.

4).  Casting Justin Timberlake as  a “douche-bag” is reverse casting at it’s peak.  For the record, I loooove JT.  It is my contention that he is the greatest talent in America today.  In former times (before A-listers could (almost) exclusively be movie-stars) he would have been Dean Martin.  He kills on SNL.  He kills on his albums.  He can sing and dance, he’s hilarious, he’s good looking, he dates the hottest women in the world.  I can totally see why the Zuckerberg character was seduced by him in the movie.  What was really difficult was seeing past awesome Timberlake to the character he was playing and realize that maybe everything he was saying wasn’t the awesome-est thing ever.  Hard to level with what we know to be true…that Timberlake is awesome!

5).  I am not on the Facebook but I do appreciate how they are willing to alphabetize all the girls from high school that I wanted to bang.

6).  Were I the real Mark Zuckerberg, I would contact the boys over at “Funny or Die” and put together a little short wherein I portray Jesse Eisenberg portraying me as if I have a low form of Asperger’s Syndrom.  Well, I guess that is one of the things I would do were I Mark Zuckerberg.  I guess the first thing I would do would try to put a dent in the list referenced in #5.

7).  The movie is really good you should go see it.

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1).  Jimmy Duggan is Jimmie Foxx

The put-upon manager in “A League of Their Own” is based on the Hall of Famer known as “Double X”.  Due to some poor, post-baseball investments the all-time home-run leader of the Philadelphia A’s was forced back into baseball later in life.  Unfortunately a serious drinking problem precluded him from being given the reigns of an actual major league franchise and so he found himself managing a bunch of girls during World War II.  He hit .325 with 534 homers in his career but, if not for a name change, would be most remembered as the guy who said that “there’s no crying in baseball!“.

2).  Johnny Drama is Johnny Alves

Many of the characters on “Entourage” are thinly-veiled parodies of actually Hollywood players.  Some are obvious while others you (or I might not get). For instance,  Ari is based on the Rahm Emmanuel’s brother who is as powerful in Hollywood as Rham is in D.C..  Not much is known about Mr. Alves given the fact that he is not actually famous.  He is basically Mark Wahlberg’s cousin and (assumedly) fulfills many of the same functions for Mr. Wahlberg that Drama fulfills for Vince.  There is no word as to whether Mr. Alves and whomever is the inspiration for Turtle ever really “crossed swords” in the bad kind of three-way.

3).  Jeff Dowd is The Dude

Some times there is a man…Some times there is a man who was one of the “Seattle Seven”, did a stretch in the can, moved to LA, produced some b-movies and became the basis for one of the most iconic characters in the history of cinema.  Also, that man is apparently a pretty good bowler.  Dowd is now on the lecture circuit giving his version of what really happened to Bunny Lebowski.

4).  John List is Keyser Soze

The original title of “The Usual Suspects” was “Who is Keyser Soze?”.  Had that title stuck, the answer would have been “John List”.  List was an overly-average middle American who, at one point, murdered his wife and their three children.  And then, like that, he disappeared.  He was at-large for almost twenty years before he was apprehended.  Writer Christopher McQuarrie has said that List was the basis for Soze, though, obviously, not a direct knock-off (no pun intended).  Where Soze was a spook story gangsters told their kids, one more imagines List to be a spook story that husbands would tell their families.

5).  Duncan North is Dex

Back when people used to make independent movies that could be consumed by mainstream audiences (instead of wholly for miniscule niches), there was a great little romantic comedy called “The Tao of Steve”.  It was basically the story of this over-weight kindergarten teacher named Dex  who did a bit too well with the ladies for someone in his station in life.  It was a witty script with winning characters (and a Lemonheads’-heavy soundtrack).  Apparently Duncan North was the basis for Dex.  Originally the director had intended on making a documentary about him but must have realized that that would either be really self-serving or really creepy and so they made a nice rom-com.

I include this here not because society has been clamoring to know on whom Dex was based but perhaps because not enough people are aware that Dex exists.  If you take a single point away from having read this let it be that you should bump “The Tao of Steve” to the top of your netflix queue.

Who have I missed…

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Back in the late ’90’s when the Yankees and Padres were swapping Jim Leyritz back and forth, he arrived in San Diego once and promptly informed Peter Gammons that the guys had taken to calling him “The King”.  Gammons, in doing his due diligence, asked one of the Padres if this was true only to find that the only Padre calling Leyritz “The King” was Leyritz himself.

This is like my grandmother constantly insisting that my kid refer to her as Great-Grandma.  C’mon, Helen, you were adequate Grandma at best.

The point being that you can’t give yourself a nickname.  A nickname is supposed to be something just annoying enough to amuse the nicknamer while being not annoying enough for the nicknamed to make an issue of it.  It’s supposed to be a “Boy Named Sue”-type scenario wherein a name that one isn’t crazy about helps build character.   With the exception of Ali calling himself “The Greatest of All Time!” in the ’60’s nobody got away with giving themselves a nickname with a positive connotation…until recently.

Going forward, please bear in mind that there is no person in America that I hold in higher regard than “The Situation”.  I think he should be on a stamp.   That being said, however, I find it hard to believe that (as he claimed) someone else (anyone else) nick-named his abs “The Situation”.  Would that there were some sort of judicial system tied to reality TV.  Would that some dynamic prosecutor were given the opportunity to put “The Situation”‘s right hand on a stack of hair gel and ask him, “Who named your abs “The Situation”?  Was it a girl?  Other guys?  Friends?  I find this implausible, sir!”

Which brings us to why I was thinking about this: “Bombshell” Michelle.  You know, the Nazi who was involved with Jesse James.  Sorry, but for the life of me I have no idea what her last name is and I’m not going to search it because of all the things I don’t want left in my search history that lady in particular and nazi’s in general are pretty much neck and neck for the top of the list.

My knowledge of “Bombshell” Michelle is limited to what it says in the “Inside Track” (apparently she’s in some sort of twitter battle with Chelsea Handler and there are at least three phrases in this parenthetical that I’m not sure I can define) which is limited itself.  I don’t know much but I do know this, were I given the opportunity to nickname her “Bombshell” wouldn’t have made the top five.

Scarlett Johansson is a bombshell.  Pam Anderson (without being my cup of tea) was a bombshell.  Michelle Whatever-her-name-is is not.  She’s a skinny lady with big fake boobs and a bunch of ink.  That may get you alot of things in this world but it doesn’t mean you can dilute an agreed upon term and give it to yourself as a nickname.  I can’t just call myself “The Awesome!”, society has an agreed-upon idea of what that word means and I’m self-aware enough to know that I’m not it (to some people).

So, my point being that, going forward, no more giving ourselves nicknames.

Thank you,

“The Awesome!”

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A few years ago my sister was working with this guy who (by her accounts) was always shooting his mouth off about his friends in Hollywood.  My sister and her co-workers, as the story was told to me, found him annoying and assumed he was making it all up but had no real way to prove it one way or the other.  Until my sister called him out on it by saying, “My brother wrote a screenplay, why don’t you give it to one of your connections?”   A few weeks past and my sister and her colleges assumed their vindication (I never worked in an office so really don’t fully grasp how these things work, but it all seems pretty petty to me).

However, into my sister’s schadenfreude bliss one morning plopped screenplay coverage on Paramount Pictures letterhead.  Now, this was either some elaborate effort by the co-worker to salvage his reputation as a self-styled man-about-Hollywood or he had actually passed it up the ladder through various connections to a reader at a major studio.  My sister holds it was the former.  I’m pretty sure it is the latter (or, “the ladder” depending on how closely you read that last sentence).

The coverage was pretty flattering (though whenever anyone says something nice about something you’ve written it is flattering).  It was “good” without being “great”.    While I was reading it, I was mentally quitting my job and leaving my wife for the bright lights of super-fame that is promised to any screenwriter.  There were criticisms, and they were valid (especially with the perspective of time for me) and there were some nuanced points that the reader missed (s/he kept referring to my “boy name Sioux” as a “kid named Sioux” illustrating a profound lack of understanding of Johnny Cash and word-play) but over-all it was all very affirmative.

Right up until the last line…

“Because the dialogue in this screenplay is so clever, and because we like Pub quite a bit (unlike many movie criminals) this has a chance at independent production.  But it doesn’t look like a big movie.  NOT RECOMMENDED”

So basically what that meant to me was that I’d written a single that could maybe be stretched into a double but would never, ever be a home-run.  That’s fine with me, there are very few “home-run” movies that I enjoy and I’d pretty much just written what I thought would be a movie I’d enjoy.  Paramount Pictures and I were at cross-purposes and stayed that way.  Until now.

Yesterday, imdb.com hit listed this story from indiewire.com about the fact that Paramount is now seeking micro-budgeted scripts (only in Hollywood and Washington would $100,000 be considered “micro-budget” but I digress).  I don’t know how it’s going to work.  Are they going to solicit agencies?  Take blind queries?  Or are they going to go back through the old files and re-read all the good scripts that weren’t “big” enough?

Either way, I’m going to quit my job and leave my wife, just to be ready.

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