Thursday, May 31, 2007

Yuck Mouth

You know what's great about coming home?

You get to do all the stuff you should have been doing while you were gone - except that you have one week to do them all. So now all the expectations are really high that you will accomplish all the most important tasks while you are at your sleepiest.

So here's something fun.

After almost 20 years as a freelancer paying my own insurance - which is usually a lot of money for little benefits - I am now considered an employee.

Can't you tell from the footprints on my back?

But as an employee you get benefits. Like Medical. And optical. And life. Retirement.

And Dental.

My benefits started in March. But since March - I have been in China.

So I have yet to use any of them.

As a kid - I hated the dentist. I don't really remember anything crazy - like a guy chasing me around with a drill and no Novocaine or anything like that. I just never liked it. Probably due to the drill. And shots. And the fact that I always had cavities...

Yeah. Maybe the last one.

So as I got older and had to pay for the dentist myself - I simply chose not to go. Not very much anyways. I did have my wisdom teeth pulled. And I would usually do the once every three years whether I needed it or not type of thing.

But when we broke away from Discovery and went on "Sabbatical" to do the movie - I was slowly going broke. We sent the kids to the dentist- but I never went.

A year and a half ago - I broke a tooth. Snapped off a corner. But I didn't go to the dentist. For a year and a half.

So I finally went. And it really wasn't so bad. But I had to come back two more times. One to fix the broken tooth. One to fill two cavities.

So today was Day One.

But this is a really cool dentist. He gives me drugs. I got to take Valium.

I really didn't care what he did to me.

I was up all night last night working - and worrying. But at 8:30 AM I took a little yellow pill - and put on a goofy smile. Shawn had lent me his Bose Quiet Comfort 3 headphones to test out - and I brought those with me and plugged them into my ipod.

While I did have to crank the volume up pretty high - I could barely hear the drill.

I was in and out in about 25 minutes. I came home - laid down - and slept for 7 hours straight. UNHEARD OF!

Tomorrow I go back.

And I have another yellow pill....

Maybe it pays to be a yuck mouth... :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

That kind of day

What's the deal?

I know I'm getting older - but what is up with me?

Film is one of the most stressful businesses in the world. Everything comes together at once - with a million details all needing to be done immediately - and I can do it. I actually love it. I thrive on it. There is nothing I enjoy more than devoting myself to the focus of pulling off a shoot.

So why do I freak out over silly stuff now?

Part of it could be that I'm operating on minimal levels of sleep.
Coupled with the fact that I am trying to serve two masters - work and family - while I'm home. Work emails me and expects me to respond immediately - and my kids see me home and expect me to join them immediately - and I just want to sleep... cause when the sun is out - its night in China....

I've been working on getting my family to be able to join us in China. As it stands - I gotta go back for most of the summer. This trip is gonna be 4 weeks. That's way too long.

My company saw it was cheaper to fly my family out coach than to fly me home business... So it's all good for us. But they just finalized the tickets this weekend. So that means I have two weeks to get Visas and passports.

So today I get on the phone at 9 with the passport service.

I stay on hold for 45 minutes.

They tell me its gonna be $980.
I feel as if my head exploded. And this is the cheap service.

I spend the entire afternoon filling out their online paperwork. I usually consider myself to be a reasonably intelligent guy. And someone who has a heck of a lot of international travel experience. But I was having all sorts of trouble.

I put another call in with a question.

54 minutes on hold.

Once I have all the papers done and printed out - I have to go to the Post office to have them witness everything - sign the papers and have them put everything in a sealed envelope.

But here - the Post office is not where we are supposed to go. It's the court house.

And its 4:10 now. The court house closes at 4:30.

Luckily we are in a small town - so we cross town quickly and get there at 4:20. There is a big sign that says "No passport processing after 4:15." But - we had really nice city workers - and they helped a brother out. We rushed out of there at 4:45.

Now we had to go by the only place that sends out Fed Ex's in our town. They sign on the door - under a big FED EX sign says that stop at 6:00. We had an hour.

We realized we needed one more pic of each kid for their China Visas. And the passport place needs you to call back in and go over everything on their checklist before they give you the address to send off the stuff.

So Ivy drops me off - and I run down to the computer and get the number.

43 minutes on hold.

During the hold time - I realize that Ivy needs another picure too. We have no land line anymore - so I go to the neighbors and ask them to call Ivy and have her get a picture too.

I hope that she heads straight for Fed Ex - cause I can't call her to tell her to go there since I'm still on hold.

At 4:45 - and still on hold - I gather everything up and jump in the car. Literally seconds after getting on the road - they pick up. And they want me to start reading stuff off the forms.

I explain that it really sucks that we are paying almost a THOUSAND DOLLARS US and can't get anyone on the phone. I get worried that I will lose the connection as I go under an overpass - but somehow manage to speed through it OK.

Ivy starts calling me on my cell. Its blinking through - but there is no way I wanna lose the passport lady - so I ignore her. I hope its not an emergency and I hope she is not heading home - but instead heading over to Fed Ex.

I finally convince passport lady that I have all the forms - and she starts to give me the address of where everything needs to be mailed. I am writing with a Sharpie on the back of an envelope - WHILE I AM DRIVING.

I pass Walgreens. Ivy and the kids are no where to be seen. Hope this works out...

I fly to Fed Ex. As I pull in - passport lady realizes that she gave me the wrong address. I scribble out the right one and we blow in.


We need to do a Fed Ex.

Um... Fed Ex stops at 5.


Um... that's the time we close...

I want to cry.

Ivy asks if there is any way we can still make it. The lady has to call the owner - and apparently - there is another drop box - but she isn't allowed to let it go there after you pay here...

But thanks to my wife - we convice her that we can deliver it ourselves.

So we pack everything up and are about to leave -

when I realize that I haven't let Ivy sign her forms. We open everything back up and sign the forms - then seal it again. And then we send it out.

And I find out that we're still missing a form.

I give up. Real life is way harder than the movies....

Monday, May 28, 2007

Family Time

Nothing says "I love you" more than a quick game of ring around the crocodile...

I'm home. And trying not to sleep.

I hung out with my son playing Lego Star Wars.
We watched Transformers.
We watched a cat eat with a fork.

I laid next to my daughter as she explained why she had no clothes she liked in a room full of clothes.
I listened to her talk about which of her paintings she wants to show at the art show this week.
We read the story of the little girl and the Sea Monster. She giggled manically when the little girl gets eaten.

I sat with my wife.
Cleaned up the house a bit together.
Listened to the Kevin Smith/Scott Mosier Podcast together. Laughed like fools.
Watched the final episode of Lost - even though she swore she wouldn't.
Smiled at each other across the room - catching each others eye in a room full of people and remembered why we like each other.

Ate pizza with my parents.
Just hung out and smiled.
Watched a movie together. Just enjoying being there.

Played outside with my dog.
Through her rubber chew toy while she chased it.
Crashed in my bed in the middle of the day - with her curled up next to me.
Went out to eat breakfast with the family - while she she guarded the drivers seat of the van - leaning out to lick passerbys...

Went to my oldest friend's house tonight.
Ate hot dogs and chips.
Played Wii and got my butt kicked in Boxing all three rounds by my son.
Got beat at everything else by Shawn.
Sat and talked shop - just enjoying speaking English with a great friend.
Remembered what its like to be social.

Dear God - it is so good to be home.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Crushing blows...

There are two social events that I actually enjoy while I'm here in Beijing.

One is playing basketball on Friday.

While my knee is telling me that that is a short lived joy - I still go, writhing in pain the next two days - limping along like a senior citizen.

The other is quiz night at Bar Blu.

Now I am not a huge fan of games. I used to be. Back when I was younger, sillier, and more social. Now I prefer a quiet evening at home.

But something about getting together and going out and answering a bunch of really hard trivia is fun for me. We usually have a mulitinational team - and the quizmaster is British - so the questions rarely have an American bent. And Jade's sister and her friend Ryan work all week at editing stories from around the world for the magazine they work for - so we usually ace the current events round.

I get thrown the Movie, TV and Music stuff.

After three second place victories - two of them lost by tie break - we finally scored a First place the last time I went.

So we hadn't been back in a month or so.

But this week was a theme week. Movie week. So I was requested.

Problem was - no one else came. Just Jade, her sister, and their English friend.

Five Chinese friends who didn't speak a word of English.

And me.

So I was really it.

All the other teams had at least 7 or 8 people - and one team had about 15. A lot of them older. And that would certainly help as the majority of the questions were about old films.

Round one:

Picture round. A still from 10 films. I immediately recognized Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Fargo, and one more. But that literally was it. Two black and white films - If and Scum. Never seen or heard of them. El Topo was one - but I've never seen that. Another from Australian film Walkabout. And one from Labyrinth - which Jade's sister wrote as Dark Crystal. The only modern film was a still from Wind that shakes the Barly. I knew Cillian Murphy... but had no clue what the movie was...

Final score: 3

The team with 15 people smarter than me? 8

Round Two:

General movie knowledge:

Don't remember much from here - but I got 7 right. No help from anyone else...

Team smarter than me: 8

They are 5 ahead.


Classic film.

Dear God. This is world series of trivia tough. Questions like who played the Bride of Frankenstien in the 1935 film. What David Lean film based on a play by Noel Coward was about a woman falling in love with another man on a train?

We got 4.
They got more.

They are ahead. But we moved from the middle of the pack to 2nd place.


Movie music.

I suck. Just to throw that out there. They are picking really random themes if you ask me.

To give you an idea of how random - the drunk enlish guy on our team perked up for the first time and screamed - I know this! That is the theme to Candyman!

And then he started to sing along.

Now, in their right mind - no matter how obscure you would be - if you were picking 10 scores to try to get people to figure out - when in the world would you ever pick a score from a really bad 90 film like Candyman?

But the kid was so excited - and he hadn't answered a question all night - and I had no clue what it was anyway - that we went with it.

I can't tell you how bad I wanted that answer to be right. Just for the fact that if it was - there could be no one else in that room that night that could have gotten it. It would just be too bizzare.

He was right. :) That made my night. Win or lose. To see that broken tooth British smile break out on that guy's face made the night... :)

4 points.
We are going into the last round 12 points behind the 1st place team - 2 points ahead of the third place team.

There is no way to win. Jade and her sister are already resigning themselves to wine - since first gets vodka... :)


Current Movie News.

I kick ass. 10 out of 10 and actually get awarded the bonus point on debate.

Doesn't matter. We take second again - and the girls are upset that I didn't come through... but it was literally me against the room.

Except for one shining moment... when a kid with a dream in his heart, a cigarette in his hand, and a near empty glass of something....

Screamed out:

I know this one!

And by God, he did. Kind of like a Chinese Billy Elliot story...

Candyman. Candyman. Candyman. Candyman. Candyma-

Digging to China

Remember in the cartoons?

Like you could dig to China?
Or run off a cliff and keep running in thin air as long as you didn't look down?
Or that if you blew up - it only blew up your clothes - and made you dirty?
Or that when you're really hungry and you look at someone else - they turn into a steak?

Be nice if life was like that.

Got a good news bad news today.

Bad news is I need to be in China for a month to finish this next cut. So I'll go home for a week and then have to come back for four straight.

Good news is - company will pay for my family to come out and spend part of the summer here.

Bad news is - my wife's mom is really sick - possibly with cancer - and she needs help. So she is most likely headed there instead of here.

Bad news wins.

Not at all like the cartoons. Unless there are some really sucky cartoons I never knew about.

Editing is still progressing. Ready to throw in the towel yesterday - but today is better.... starting to see a show in there somewhere. Still have some impossibly tight deadlines that I just don't see us making... but I am diligently forging ahead as best we can - smiling with that American can do attitude.

Sent a rough scene to Shanghai the other day. It was a four mintue rough cut of a scene that really shouldn't run any longer than 1 to 1 and a half minutes.

The big guy there wrote back and said he didn't like it.

It was too long.
Needs to be cut down.


What does it take to make people understand this process?

Changes here get tricky.

I was using a byte from our celeb to open the show. Then we realized it really is just too long. So I rewrote it as a voice over. Then I sent it to one of my assistants to translate - emphasizing that we need it to sound good in Chinese. Who cares about the English.

She does it.

Then today I send it to Shanghai.

Who translated this? They wanna know. I tell them it doesn't matter. Does it work or not?

(Cause I can't read Chinese.... I know... I'm like Johnny Cash....)

Well... it doesn't sound right.

Now granted... any copywriter - even in his own language - is used to words being changed all the time... but this process is killing me. And this literally is for three sentances....

So they change a few words... and four hours later send it back.

We record it - put it in - and its the first I hear it. And its fine. But so was the first version. But so what? I always go with the native over my own view of proper Chinese. Hell - I lose a lot of copy battles in English as well....

But that's my day. A three sentance fight.

Now I live to fight another day.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Starting Young

So I'm not up for father of the year.

My wife took my son to the doctor today. A specialist.

My boy is a boy. And how. He is crazy. He is wild. He is out of control. He is 7.

A boy.

But he might also be a bit nuts. Heck - it certainly runs in the family.

Both sides.

So who is to say?

We had the meeting with his first grade teacher this year. The - "well... what do I say about your boy?" meeting. The "he could go either way" meeting. The "I don't want you to find this out later and then say no one told you this before" meeting.

So what does that mean?

I know we can over medicate in our society. Heck - we're at a point where we're giving drugs to dogs to calm them down. But there are also great advances in medicine that help people.

My wife has many issues - one being depression. When she is on medication - it is way better than when she is off. This is something that is a wonder of modern medicine and when people tell me that it is nonsense - its just cause they don't know.

I don't think medicine is for everyone. But it is for some. And it does help.

My mom tried for years to get me to take medicine for ADD or ADHD or whatever. I chose not to. Not because I didn't need it. Probably because she was insisting. Who knows. Would it help me get more done? Maybe? I don't know. But I function.

It's tougher for my son.

In the old days - we would just say he's a boy - give him a stick and tell him to go play. Come back at dinner. Can't do that now. So you go to a doctor.

The Doc sounds like a wise guy. He also sees that the kid is a boy. And this is what boy's do.

But he sees something deeper too.

He's afraid my kid is a bit victimized by his sister.


Doesn't that just go with the turf?

I know I victimized my sister. And I had good parents. Parents who payed attention. And I still drove her crazy. Mostly for no reason. To the point of her blowing her top at me. Constantly. In front of my friends. In front of my enemies. In front of whoever.

Till she got old enough that my friends wanted to date her and told me what an ass I was.

It's tough on my kid.

He's the only boy. All of our family has girls. All the people nearby have girls. The only boys he gets to play with are younger than him. When he joins his sister and her friends - they really get mean with him. So he goes all HULK SMASH on them.

He's trying. And he's a kid. And he's 7.

And his dad is never home. So I know where the stones should be thrown. Send them all to China.

I talked to him about going to the doctor today. What he thought. How he felt. He is upset cause he is gonna start taking a very low does of Wellbutrin. And he has to swallow it. And he didn't like people saying bad stuff about him.

I told him I love him. And I'm proud of him. And that he is slowly becoming a man - and that even all the way from China I know he has a good heart and is trying to do the right thing.

Is this the right thing to give him medicine? I don't know. I really don't. But we can try it. It's not behavior altering. Its supposed to be focus enhancing. So we shall see.

I don't want to break his heart or his spirit.
Being away from this right now is breaking mine.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

we are SPARTA!

A general sense of looming danger....

So I have completely forgotten my blogging responsibilities. Its not that I haven't wanted to blog. Or that I haven't had anything to blog. Its just that I haven't blogged.


No real good answer.

Probably Coke. It's the only thing that's changed and it is so deliscious that it is making me forget all of my other responsibilities...


So here's the weird thing.

Shanghai went well. Really well. Uncomfortably well. To the point that I am more nervous now that things are going well than when they were all going down the crapper.

They love the show.

And they love the new footage for the next show. We cut a teaser together of what we shot in March and they ran out of the meeting and gathered the staff to watch it. Everyone was happy.

I brought them a cut reel of some stuff about an hour long and they took lunch to watch that. Then the guy who pimp slapped me on the phone for an hour actually wrote me and told me that everything looked great - and cc'd everyone he was railing me to earlier.

So I guess I'm back to waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I have a new deadline for the new show and there is a ton of work to accomplish between now and then. Too much. While I still have this fateful week to begin it - I then get go fly home Friday - to end the three weeks I've spent here.

Next month looks worse - probably here all month - but I might get to bring out the family - which would be awesome.

Summary of other things:

Had a producer from SF here for the last three days. She's cool - but hyper organized. She left me a "to do" list. I said it was great for me - now I know which things to ignore and in what order...

SF is now actually deferring to me on creative a bit more. They saw the Shanghai reaction and are actually listening to me and letting me lead... very uncomfortable... :)

Finished Michael Chabon's "The Yiddish Policeman's Union." Great book. Fun and interesting and great characters... not entirely sure I understand the ending - but who ever understands the endings of noir stories?

Watched a ton of movies...

Afro Samurai - bloody. Crazy. Fun.
Astronaut Farmer - really enjoyed it. The Polish Brothers are really good.
Breach - another story I wouldn't normally care about made great by good writing directing and acting.
We are Marshall - cried like a baby.
Perhaps Love - Hong Kong musical with a bit of 8 1/2 thrown in. Really fun.
I'm a Cyborg, but that's OK - romantic comedy by the best Korean director ever.

And in the meantime - I plow ahead on scripts.

I feel the pressure. I see the deadline. I'm winning the race....

But I feel that damn seal breathing down my neck like nobodies business...

Gotta keep running....

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


I'm off to Shanghai.

For a date with destiny.

There's gonna be a gunfight....

Not really.

I just gotta keep my mouth shut and a smile on my face. Just for some reason always have trouble doing that.

I come bearing gifts. Lots of little things that we need to reach later deadlines. Lots of scripts and DVD's of footage and cuts...

But those go little to repair the anger and hurt.

Poetic... :)

Obviously I wasn't slapped around enough as a kid when all it takes is a few words to break your bones.

My wife always asks me if I'm praying. I am. I do. Just don't know if its for the right things.

So today will be interesting. First - facing the domestic flight ordeal here in China. Then - facing the domestic office ordeal there in Shanghai.

Nothing makes me want to crawl back to my edit suite in Beijing more.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Stuck in the middle


Haven't been here in a few days.

I have many issues. But for someone who speaks so off the cuff to his superiors - it's strange that I would waste hours after that analyzing everything to the point of ridiculousness.

I am alone in Beijing.

For three weeks.

I think that thought hit me hard this weekend as I was holed up in my hotel room - going through hundreds of pages of transcripts and working to get a usable script for my show.

I have just finished a week and have two more to go.

And I don't want to be here.

Nothing against China. At all. And nothing against the people I'm working with here. I love them them. Nothing against the job. While I don't love it - its good work for a good company.

It's just that I've basically spent a year away from my family. I have been on the road for a really long time. And it sucks.

On Sunday - while I was writing - I watched about 4 movies.

One was the Weatherman - which I had never seen. People really loved the script - but thought the direction was bad. I didn't think that. I just thought it should have been a little movie - but was made by big names for too much money.

But the sad thing - is that I related.

Not to all of it. But it is basically a crisis of faith for Nic Cage's character. He is at a point in his life where he is doing something he is bored with - paid entirely too much to do it - and he is separated from his family. Not by distance like me - but by divorce.

Its a good film.

Also saw We are Marshall and cried like a little school girl. What a baby.

So after the Weather man - I thought - what is wrong with me? Is this a mid-life crisis - something I've always scoffed about?

It's not that I want to change everything and do something else. I'm doing what I love - producing and directing. I'm even getting to do it in a foreign country that I love - China.

It's more that I have an incredible family that I never get to see - and all the money in the world is not worth missing them growing up.

I've been listening to SMODCAST a lot. Its a podcast by Kevin Smith. I literally snort sometimes while I'm listening. Like with snot coming out. It is the funniest, dirtiest thing.

He was talking the other day about selling out. And he said - no one but 20 somethings talk about selling out. You never hear a 40 year old guy talk about it.

Probably cause he's already done it.


I think I'm most likely just depressed.

This is a long haul. Three weeks gone. And now my company is arguing with me over whether or not cab fare is included in per diem. Petty. I'd just like to be home.

So instead of blogging - I've been thinking. Probably not the best thing to do.

So I'll go back to blogging.

Yesterday - I did something I haven't done in over 7 years. Whenever I find that I am too tied up in my life - I like to see if I can do something to mess with my routine. So yesterday I did that.

I drank a Coke.

I used to drink 4 or 5 Cokes a day. Especially when I was directing. Then I just went cold turkey and quit. And have never gone back.

Till yesterday.

It didn't taste as great as I remember it. But it was nice. And I'm going to do it again. Maybe even today.

So cheer up. Have a Coke and a smile...

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

And by retarded....

I mean able to do anything in the world... (sarah silverman quote)

I am an idiot.

Not that you wouldn't know that if you come here with any regularity... but I feel the need to state the obvious every now and then.

A big idiot.

The whole point of scripts is that your characters go on a journey. On the road - they face many hardships - and are pushed beyond belief right to the edge... and then something miraculous happens.

They change.

They are not the person they were before... and the world is somehow different because of this amazing transformation.

Well. I would be a really crappy character.

Regardless of what I know or what I learn - I am like a dog to his vomit.

I don't change. I don't change. I don't change.

I see the problem coming. I hear the door open for me to step in and get in trouble. I recognize it for what it is... and I walk right through - dancing a jig on top of my common sense.

Today went well. Great VO session. Great ADR session. Everything perfect - and they actually got along with me and everything was right with the world.

Then we went to dinner. Cause I can't leave well enough alone.

They picked a Russian place. No problem there...

And then we went about talking business. And they brought up their boss. The guy who got on the phone with my company and told a bunch of lies. The guy who tried to get me fired... but didn't succeed... yet.

They said it was really all a big misunderstanding.

And here's where the door opened. If I was smart... I would have just smiled. I would have shoved another bite of salmon in my craw and gone to my happy place.

Instead.... I said...

By misunderstanding do you mean him getting on the phone with my boss and telling lies?

And they said...

Well. Lets not call it lies. Just a misunderstanding.

Oh no. There was no misunderstanding. Except for classifying it as a misunderstanding. Because it was lies.

Uncomfortable silence.

Well - they said - thats something personal. We can't let it effect our business.

Don't worry - I said - it won't effect our business. But it is personal. And I won't work with him or for him because he came after me. And my family.

And then I stand on the table - fork and knife in hand -



Ok... so the last part is false. But it might as well have been true by the look on their faces.

So the countdown to the end of my job continues...

Anybody looking for a really honest producer/director who speaks Chinese?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Middle Finger Vs World

I think I'm getting paranoid.

Getting, you ask?

Work has gotten crazy again. I am back in China in the middle of my edit. Shanghai execs were to show up yesterday - but only the underling came. Good guy. Smart guy. But every time we would make a change - down to the color of a font - he was on the phone calling it in to his boss to get approval.


And back at home they are yelling at me for things I don't have yet.

Like a script.

If only I had more time in my day. But I think giving 12 hours a day is more than enough.

So since I last told my "peer" that I felt she was doing all she could to control me instead of help me - I have been bumped back up the ladder again to my Big Boss - who sent me an email today asking for everything that my "peer" didn't get from me.

Next week, my "peer" will be here in China - hanging out with me all week.

I've been reading this really fascinating book "Why they Kill" by Richard Rhodes.

I spent 10 years working on cop show for the Discovery Channel and filmed murders in every state except Nebraska. I felt like I had a pretty good bead on murder - but never really could get to the motivations behind things. And that was what fascinated me. While I firmly believe we all have the capacity for doing great evil - most of us have some element of control over our most base impulses.

But the book - done in coordination with an outstanding criminologist - really breaks down why people kill.

And it talks about people who are prone to violent behavior and how they read each and every situation different than those who don't.


Of course if you are getting on a 14 hour flight - the last person you want to sit next to is the guy reading that book.

Back to the grind. Trying to make people happy - but it never seems to work that way... :)

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Back to China

Here we go again.

Another trip.

Another 3 week trip.

All I wanna do is cry.

All I should do is write.

Getting on the plane now.

See you in 14 hours.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

You can't handle the truth

...or "they" can't anyway.

If your company asks you how you really feel - here's some advice.

Don't tell them.

If I only I could listen.

In a great conversation yesterday - where they were reaching out to me - the disenfranchised Chinese Producer - they told me they really just wanted to help me. To support me. To enable me to do my job better.

I said "Really? Cause it seems to me you just want to put a thumb on my back and keep me down. All you want to do is control me."


Anyone wanna place bets on how long I have a job for?

Super Genius!

I took my wife and dad to Spiderman 3 last night.

What happened to Spiderman? He has always been my most favorite comic character. A web slinging smart ass. And now they were bringing in Venom? And Sandman? And Gwen Stacy? Um... that's a lot of villians. And Characters. And the new Goblin?

And it seemed really long. Granted we went right at my bedtime in Beijing - but the last thing you should be feeling in a $250 million dollar summer movie is tired - no matter what time zone you're in.

Yes. There were boring parts. Yes. There were more men crying in that film that in the last 30 movies I've seen all put together. Yes - there was nothing more awkward and uncomfortable than the emo Toby Maguire. It was painful and not funny. The sequence at the jazz club felt like it was out of a Zucker Brothers movie - except that it wasn't funny.

But the action?

Um. Very nice. Just not enough of it.

And is it just me or does Spiderman have a huge double chin? Like really big! My wife tapped mine when I brought it up - but I explained to her that I'm not Spiderman.

I'm just the big middle finger.

Maybe I can weasle my way into the next movie...

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Still trying....

I'm hovering at the intersection of creatively bankrupt and creatively frustrating.

I sat with Ryan this week and got to go through his latest draft of his new script. It was nice - cause each draft was getting better and he was getting to focus on new stuff each time that was taking the script down the right road.

And he just got engaged to a 12 year old - so he was really happy. This time in 6 years - he will also be just like the rest of us. Old and married.

While he had that really goofy grin that comes with thinking about what he "thinks" his new life will be all about - I couldn't help but feel like that vetran cop in every cop movie ever on hearing how he is being partnered with the new kid.

I'm getting too old for this crap.

Sometimes - the daily grind of creatively going about my job in this business had been sapping all the love and joy out of actually sitting down to write. I want to write. I need to write. But I can't write.

Not because I don't have ideas. Not because I feel blocked.

Maybe because I'm lazy. Maybe because I'm undisciplined.

Mostly because I feel that dull numbing ache of wanting to not think at the end of the day. After all the notes and yelling and changing of the show on a daily basis - I want to throw in the towel and watch the Wire on dvd. I want to see excellence and revel in it rather than attempt to create something and fail.

So its back to trying.

It's easy to complain. It's easy to get down. It's easy to give in.


Instead I shall forge ahead. Really. This time for sure.

Starting tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Hip Hop Hullay....

My last night in Beijing I met up with Star and Chris.

Star is a fashion designer who I conscripted into our band of merry men on the last shoot. She speaks excellent English and is smart - so I got her to come in and be a translator. Now I'm trying to get her hired to help out more.

She just recently married Chris - a Canadian - although I don't hold that against him. Like most of the Canadians I have met - outside of the French Canadians - he is a smart, well mannered guy who is pretty cool. She did well for herself.

Star was designing a dress for my wife - and had it finished - so we met for drinks. Bar Blu in Beijing is where I go for quiz night on most Wednesdays - so it was an easy place to hook up. But I hadn't been to the roof - which is open in the warmer months - where you can sit outside under the stars and above most of the smoke and pollution. It was great.

Then they asked me:

Would I be interested in going to a hip hop show?

Like - A Chinese hip hop show?


Hell yeah, boy.

What some of you may not know is that I am a big rap fan. And Hip Hop. Most definitely R and B. But I am way down with most things having to do with Black Music. I love it. Can't get enough of it. And to have a chance to watch Chinese people interpret it?


When we did our first TV show here in 99 - we hung out with the Veejays from Channel V. Since we knew them - I watched a lot of the Channel. I still do. They used to have an hour a day devoted to Korean Hip Hop.

There was something strange and amazing about it. It was as if they took the whole of rap videos from here and replaced it with a glossier stranger Korean version. There wasn't much of the same spirit - as far as I could tell from something that I can't understand a word that they are saying - but the clothes and the poses were the same.

I love rap - and I don't really know why. Cause a lot of it makes me laugh?

There is angry rap. Rap with a message. Rap about money. Rap about fat butts. Just like any other music. But for some reason - rap just is more to the point. With really funny ways of talking about things. And a killer beat.

I am a huge fan of rap. So I jumped at this chance.

It really was amazing.

A tiny little smokey club. Full of people - a mix of foreigners and Chinese - all dressed in a junior high school version of what they think hip hop is. Caps twisted to the side, over sized shirts and jeans, hoochie momma chic on the ladies... it was really fascinating.

But the DJ's were pretty awesome.

Blackaliscious. Jurrasic 5. Tribe Called Quest. Dialated Peoples. Nas. All my favorites.

Then they brought out the freestylers. And they weren't as good.

But it was an exciting evening. While it is sad and pitiful to see White Guys play black - it was even more interesting to see Chinese guys play black. Not sad - just interesting.

Music is all about expression. And there is no just white or just black style of music - it is fascinating to see something taken out of its cultural context and placed in something altogether new - and not always successfully.

There were also a few standouts. The Chinese guy who looked like he wanted to be in the Strokes. The Chinese girl who looked like she wanted to be Amy Winehouse. And me - the old white guy looking like he should be somewhere else entirely.

But it was a great evening. One I won't forget. And one I would like to repeat.