Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Explicit Material

A break from strike talk and TV mutterings today. Let's call it my own news blackout. There is a lot to talk about, and rant about (oh, Jeff Zucker... JUST STOP TALKING), but I'm collating my thoughts on that.

In checking around the blogosphere last week, I was horrified to run across a band I had completely forgotten existed. Thanks to John Scalzi, I have been re-introduced to the magic that is Giuffria.

I'm not alone, right? You guys all remember the big-haired keyboard master, don't you?

So that got me to thinking. And thinking led to procrastinating, which in turn has led to me spending my entire morning and the early part of the afternoon on this blog entry.

I used to buy a lot of records. With the disappearing record stores and the rise of mp3s, however, not so much anymore. But it was really fun to drive for hours to get to a used record store and then spend even more hours going through the stacks. The only place you can do that anymore is Amoeba.

I always had a list of albums and artists to look for. Because back in the day, that's what you had to do -- actually physically fucking look for shit. I usually got pretty lucky, but tenacity will do that for you. I've got some pretty obscure import 80s stuff, but there's that one record I could never find. And even with the vastness of the internets and that whole series of tubes, I still can't find it.

I've decided that this is the year I track this record down. Yes, that's my resolution for 2008 -- to find an obscure record from the 80s. I think it's a good resolution because so far, me and 2008 aren't getting along. So I don't want to stress it out. I'll give it something fun and stupid to do and then maybe it will love me.

First, a little background.

In the 80s, I Hoovered up every import of every Irish band I could get my hands on. Like I said, this wasn't an easy task. It required a great deal of commitment, which could be one reason I'm not qualified to do anything today. I would read about bands in Hot Press, NME and Melody Maker. Occasionally in Rolling Stone and Spin and a surprising gold mine of obscurity, Tower Records' in-store magazine. They had a Desert Island Discs section, where readers could send in lists of their ten favorite records. That's where I learned about The Chameleons and Ruefrex. Reading interviews with Bono and The Edge were also fruitful, as they talked about new Irish bands almost as much as Noel Gallagher talks about his favorite new bands. So I'd go seek out bands like The Fountainhead and Cactus World News (Bono wasn't always right, but his heart was in the right place).

Then U2 started their own record label, Mother Records, and it became that much easier to make lists of obscure bands. The plan was to release singles by Irish bands, which would hopefully give them worldwide exposure. The early sleeve design was fantastic. Really detailed and cool. The best known bands on Mother were Hothouse Flowers (their first single was on Mother), Cactus World News and In Tua Nua. Incidentally, their first single, "Take My Hand," was written and sung by fourteen-year-old Sinead O'Connor.

Several bands would release albums that actually got distribution in the U.S. (An Emotional Fish, Black Velvet Band and the Longpigs). The rest of 'em, well... it's a nice snapshot of the period, and I'll bet things would be slightly different if all of this had happened now. The internets are terrific for organization and distribution. Mother would have its own MySpace page, and you could actually hear bands like The Dixons (criminally obscure) and the Subterraneans. They could sell their singles and give away live tracks. They could build a fanbase.

But this was Ireland in the 80s, and America was virtually impossible to crack. Now, of course, bands couldn't give a shit about cracking America. They don't really need to in order to survive anymore. But back then, gigging around Ireland could only take you so far.

There was a veritable music explosion in Ireland in the 80s but you, gentle readers, haven't heard of any of them. Wait, you've probably heard of one, although you may not know it. Glen Hansard, from the movie "Once," is in The Frames, a band that has had tremendous longevity, so much so that I saw them live in Ireland. And that was pre-euro. There are a few more than are still active. The Stunning became to The Walls. The Prayer Boat, one of my favorite Irish bands, disbanded but the singer, Emmett Tinley, has a terrific album out. A House was The Coral of its day, releasing what seemed like a single a week. Broken up, but singer Dave Couse has a new band called The Impossible which, unsurprisingly, rocks. The Fat Lady Sings only released two albums but its singer, Nick Kelly, has two solo albums out.

I've managed to track down a lot of this stuff but the one thing that has eluded me all this time is the only album from the Blue Angels. This band formed out of the ashes of Blue In Heaven. They're considered obscure, but thanks to U2's popularity, their two albums were released in the U.S. Only on vinyl and cassette, but still. the first time I heard the Blue Angels was on Deirdre O'Donohue's radio show on, I think, KLSX. You may have heard of the radio show "Breakfast With the Beatles." That was Deirdre O'Donohue. But she also promoted underground indie stuff and at that point, she'd made a trip to Ireland and she'd come back with stacks of cool records. One of these was a single, "Over the Edge," by the Blue Angels.

It fucking rocked.

I managed to find several CD singles by the band but their only full-length album eluded me. CDs had really become something by the time the album came out (1993) so it was a lot harder to find import vinyl. So, 2008, if you could see it in your heart to help me find "Coming Out of Nowhere" by the Blue Angels, I'll sing your fucking praises.

I know this is asking a lot, because I've been all over the internets looking for it. One dude claimed he could get his hands on it, for seventy-five bucks. He didn't have it; he could just get his hands on it.

I call bullshit.

The Blue Angels had eluded even the vastness of the YouTubes, but there's some Blue In Heaven material up. The video to I Just Wanna is here.

np - Blue In Heaven, of course!

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Lost Riots

Muffin McGuffin (heh) wants to know where the list of canceled deals resides. Futon Critic has a great list of every deal and the canceled deals. Go check it out.

Joshua had a Millennium question. Cool!

There was an episode where a woman is drugged, and we get this whole hallucinating dream of hers before she dies, set to a song, and it lasted at least six, seven minutes. As long as the song!

And it was far out, dude. It totally freaked me out, and was by far one of the best things I'd seen on television, definitely the most risky, because she wasn't going through something pleasant, but whoa.

I remember thinking at the time - Whoever chose to do that has got some serious sack!

So now for my question.

What was the episode, what was the song it was set to, and how was that particular creative choice made, was it the writer, the creative producer, etc?

Serious sack. Heh. The episode was the season two finale, "The Time Is Now." Lara Means, a visionary like Frank Black, goes insane for an entire act to Patti Smith's "Horses." This was not a spur-of-the-moment decision, either; this was planned out earlier. I know because we chose a Patti Smith song for an earlier episode and Glen Morgan said he was going to make Lara go insane to "Horses." Go here for a bit more on it. I loved the sequence. The whole episode showed the world of Millennium just falling apart. I thought it was quite a risk; the kind you don't see very much on TV these days. Glad it stuck with you!

A comment from Crystal:
I didn't know that Huckabee snuck in. Thanks for telling me. I'm just happy that my candidate proved that he was the friend to unions he says he is... former Senator John Edwards, who joined the picket line at NBC Universal in LA, and in NY... and from what I was told by someone on the line, John had appeared at the picket lines more than the twice I knew about.

A friend of mine, who's a Democrat more than for a specific candidate yet, I think, came out with me to the John Edwards-attended rally, but she was telling later about a trip Obama made afterwards -- and I said, did he come out to the picket line? Her excuse was that he was only there for a day. Well, for me, coming for your fundraisers and not coming out to the writers on the line says something to me and my vote.

Interesting the difference between Huckabee sneaking in and a debate being cancelled because Edwards said he wouldn't cross the picket line and then Obama and Clinton echoed him.

It's funny how low the bar is now. If a candidate doesn't sneak past a picket line to appear on a talk show, he should be a front-runner. I'm right there with you on Edwards, although I'm afraid that the best he can do is to probably be a king-maker. As for the Huck, his recent statement about changing the Constitution to reflect the "word of God" made me wonder if he's just fucking with everyone.

2.) That commentary on the NetGen'ers is one of the smartest things I have ever read, bar none.

I'm so glad to hear that! This is something I really believe in. Maybe one day, when I'm a rich, powerful fuck, I can make some internet TeeVee and put this into practice.

Of course if you asked most of the moguls, they would identify themselves as liberals.

They would, indeed. We've seen them proudly driving their Priuses. Makes me want to flip one over, with Katzenberg in it. I suppose we must describe them as socially liberal and fiscally conservative, although I know people like that and they would never treat people the way the moguls are treating all of Hollywood.

Cameron, thanks very much! I appreciate it. Hold the line, and hopefully we'll all come out okay.

As for Maher, Mazin, Leno, Carson Daly, and all the rest of those secret scab writers to cowardly to pull a Ridley, I hope they all rot in Hell.

Apparently, people don't like it when the "free speech" shoe is on the other foot. More on that below. But I'll clarify the issue I have with the people who are speaking out. My problem isn't that they disagree with the leadership, or think things should have been done differently, or think that there are witch hunts within the guild that are attempting to quash dissent. They are members of the guild, speaking out in public during a seriously delicate time. They do not believe that this requires sensitivity, or that this should be a discussion best had amongst guild members. The insinuation that inevitably follows is that those of us who aren't speaking out, or who wish they were keeping it in the family, were led astray by the Big Bad Leadership. The extrapolation is that they know best, and the rest of us are fucking idiots who need to be taught. Having gotten that from virulent right-wingers, I recognize the tactic and I don't appreciate it. This isn't a question of being found right or wrong at the end of all of this. The ONLY issue is that the WGA get a fair deal.

I've been accused of being too angry, too threatening, too violent. There have been some pretty nasty, insensitive comments lately, and I know that there has been a peculiar outside focus on this blog as of late. I'm not inviting it, and I don't like it. Unlike others, I have no agenda other than to speak my mind. If you don't like it, go start your own blog. A blog is as fluid as, say, a labor movement. Think of it as a journal. I write what I feel and think at the time. It's easy to go back, read something and go, "Huh. Did I REALLY think that?" But that's a part of blogging, if you're honest about it. I'm not about being calculating here, or anticipating how somebody's going to react. Because obviously, why on Earth would I welcome these comments?

I'm not part of a faction, or a cabal, or any other evil secret society that's out to undermine the "opposition," whatever THAT is. I'm not trying to make any statement here, aside from what I'm thinking and feeling and seeing. I don't give a shit about the politics. I'm nobody's patsy. There are more important things at stake here, and there are a lot of people who are becoming enmeshed in petty squabbles and are losing sight of the goal. Which, if it's slipped your mind, is a fair deal.

It's no secret that I support what we're trying to achieve, and I support the leadership. If you're confused as to why, it's because I strongly believe that their only goal is to get us a fair deal. If I see somebody undermining that, either on purpose or not, it's going to piss me the fuck off. And I'm going to say so. Why is it okay for these dissenters to speak out and say the rest of us drank the Koolaid, but it's not okay for me to get everloving pissed about basically being called a cult member? And when you come off the picket line at nine in the morning, after fucking freezing for three hours, there is going to be a reaction to this shit.

Just in case the above is too wordy for some, I'll boil it down. I am obviously NOT going to punch anybody in the heart. Because REALLY. It would hurt. I'm not a Mayan shaman. I don't have super shaman powers. And you'd think that writers, of all people, would get down with a little hyperbole. But ironies never cease, I suppose.

We all have our own interpretation of this strike. Most of us sacrifice, and we all do it differently. I'm detailing my own experience, and you don't have the right to tell me otherwise. If your experience is different, then that's how it is for you. I'm not going to get bogged down in semantics. I don't read Nikki Finke or Craig Mazin, but snippets of their blogs (and they are BLOGS, not NEWS SOURCES, for Christ's sake) keep showing up elsewhere. If what they say bothers me, then it does. And I won't apologize for it. If I complain about someone here and they're hurt by that, or just fucking pissed off, they should let me know. If you post something on a public site, people are gonna read it. They will either like what you say, or they will disagree. If you act like you're the king of everything, I suppose it stands to reason that when people disagree with you, that's gonna bring you up short. But that's not my problem.

But this site wasn't intended as a bully pulpit for or against the strike. It just happens to be what's for dinner now. But like I said in another post, I'd like to talk about other things, too.

So I won't be responding to any more comments having to do with what an asshat I'm being about the strike. It's boring for everybody reading. Besides, I'm the one on strike, so nobody has the right to tell me how I should behave or what I should think. I already know how to behave -- like me, not like somebody's mouthpiece. Anonymi, that means you. Tim, that means you, too. Think whatever the fuck you want. Post whatever the fuck you want. I'll approve the comment. But I won't respond to it. This does not, by the way, mean that anyone else who wants to take the assholes on in comments shouldn't do so. By all means, feel free.

There's nothing more irritating and maddening than a concern troll going, "There's so much anger here. Everybody needs to calm down." You know what? You're just talking to yourselves, hepcats. So I invite you to be honest. Go ahead and say you're frustrated, and angry, and scared. Let's bond over that feeling of uncertainty, regardless of you feel about the leadership or the way the strike has gone. It's a lot healthier than faking a concern troll, isn't it?

I've said this over and over again, and I've had people slam me for it, but I don't care if or what deal the DGA gets. Unless it's a good deal (and it'll probably be different from what I personally want) for the WGA as a whole, then fuck it they shouldn't sign.

It seems simple, doesn't it?

I'm sure that by now, everybody has seen the tentative DGA deal. You may have seen the John Wells letter. Before the deal was announced, does anyone remember the hue and cry from the concern trolls? "Let's look at it first. We can't make any decisions until we see it. YOU RADICALS WHO EXIST EVEN THOUGH I CAN'T PROVE IT, YOU'RE RUINING EVERYTHING!" Remember that? Now that the deal has been announced, these self-same folks are declaring that it's a great deal and we should take it. With no sense of irony or shame whatsoever, I might add.

Now the groups are mobilizing!! Factions are forming!! The showrunners are pissed and want the deal! Those out of work want to stay on strike!! The feature writers want to make their movies! Except for a few of them! They want to stay on strike because they can afford it! The directors gave away the internet!! No, no -- IT'S A GREAT DEAL! We can revisit the internet later!! Are you high?? No we can't! THEY'RE LYING TO US! Shut up! They are not!! Yes they are. What about the free streaming?


Here's the reality, gentle readers.

1. This is not our deal. It's the DGA deal. The DGA hasn't even presented it to their membership.

2. The WGA NegComm hasn't even looked at it yet. They are making no recommendations until that time.

3. It may be a decent deal. It may suck. But it's never going to be the perfect deal we wanted. It's also not going to be the perfect deal the AMPTP wanted. Why? IT'S A NEGOTIATION.

4. Because this isn't our deal, there are elements of a WGA contract that aren't gonna be in a DGA contract.

5. Nothing anybody says at this point is going to make a Goddam bit of difference. Why? See #2.

Calling for the WGA to accept or reject a deal that ISN'T EVEN OURS is laughable. So here's a thought: take the fucking weekend OFF. Everybody. Just go do something else. There's nothing you can do. I understand where we all are right now. This is actual information, which we haven't had in weeks. There's something to chew on and by God, we're gonna chew on it. It would be lovely if we could chew on it in private, but hey, apparently I am the only person who feels that way.

I am not commenting on this deal one way or the other until I hear from the NegComm. And I don't know if I'll "drink the Koolaid," as a "moderate" so helpfully put it. There are things I'll look for, and then I'll weigh those things against the bleeding obvious -- do I think this is the best deal we can get? It really comes down to just that.

I have one thing in this world that I want right now -- to make a living doing the thing I love. For the slow ponies in the field, that would be writing. This has become a lot fucking harder lately, and the strike made it even more difficult. I get to be pissed off. I get to worry about whether or not there will even be television after all of this, and then whether or not I'll fit into the new paradigm. There are, hopefully, going to be great opportunities in other arenas. So maybe next time, I'll muse about the thing I suck at more than anything else -- creativity in self-promotion. Seriously. You have no idea how much I suck at that.

Or maybe I won't, because that's just too depressing to talk about. There are other comments I'm going to get to in another post because once again, look how LONG this is!

And lemme know if y'all like the new format.

np - Hope of the States, "The Lost Riots." Of course.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Grace Under Pressure

Yesterday was the big "everybody come to Warner Bros" picket, which was designed to show solidarity for the one thousand employees Warner Bros laid off. It felt like Day One; the sidewalks were crawling with people, horns were honking, and I got to see folks I hadn't seen in ages. Since we've all been picketing for two months now, habits have formed. The people who had come to the studio for the day were thrown off stride. They didn't know where to park, where the bathrooms were, what he rhythm of the gates were. They also didn't know how to cross Barham without looking like extras from the 300, but that's a different story.

On Sunday night, "The Sarah Connor Chronicles" debuted on Fox, after football. The numbers were astonishing. And the show was great. The numbers dropped a lot last night because there was no football lead-in, but it still built on "Prison Break" and didn't lose in the half hour. Well, at the Monday picket, there were the "Sarah Connor" folks, picketing as usual. I can't imagine what it would be like to walk away from a show, especially to walk away before the show's finished shooting. And then, the morning after mind-boggling numbers, to show up to picket the studio that paid for the show.

Today, there were very few people picketing. What the diminishing numbers say to those of us who show up every day is that the strike has gotten inconvenient for people. It's getting tougher now. Those who have been lucky enough not to be forced to sacrifice before no longer look at the strike as a good chance to decompress from work. Now, it's a hindrance, or an annoyance.

In the midst of this comes the news that studios are canceling some pretty big producer deals. If you were wondering about the fate of your favorite show during the strike, take a look at the deal list. If the creator of your show is listed, just cut the cord now, man. The show's dead.

The following is from an article about the deals:
Studio execs, for the most part, say the strike could represent a turning point in how they do business.

"This is causing all of us to look at our businesses and look at the efficiency of going from development to series," one topper said. "We’re all seeing insane efficiencies. We’re building shows that are really more challenging than ever economically. We’ve got to do this better."

I agree with the entire statement. But I question the truth of it. Do the studios really understand why the shows are so expensive? Do they really think their way of doing development is inefficient? Somehow, they're deciding to blame the writers for this but as we've seen with the negotiations, nobody can force a conglomerate to do anything it doesn't want to do. The writers and the PODs didn't go to the studios and say, "Listen, this whole development thing? Let us handle it. We'll hear the pitches and then we'll bring the good ones in." It's not the lower-level execs who are making these deals either, but they are the ones on the front lines who have to handle the fall-out. The studios over-reached and as a result, they have to try and recoup the enormous payouts somehow. So they put these writers on shows, or hand shows over to PODs. The shows become responsible for paying out these deals. That's a gob of money that you can't use for production.

If the studios really understand why these shows are so much more expensive now -- if they can look at the fact that when budgets took off there was a rise in these types of deals -- then things can really change for the good. It won't only be the deal-less who have to fight for their ideas and the jobs, it'll be all of us. You won't have co-exec producers who were shoved onto your show, don't give a shit, and just want to work on their pilots. Instead, the people who are there will WANT to be there.

Early in the strike, I was out on the line and got roped into a conversation about the strike that morphed into a discussion of why TV isn't working, and why there aren't more writers working. The assertion was made that the biggest problem with TV was that there weren't more freelance jobs. The insinuation was that if there were more freelance assignments, more writers would be working.

I countered by saying that IMO, the problem was that there weren't enough staff jobs. I sound like a broken record about this, but the reason for that has a lot to do with deals and PODs. The way I understand British TV is that it's primarily freelance. So there isn't a staffing season, where you either get a job or you starve for an entire season. As a freelancer, you have to be on your fucking game the entire year. If you get a chance for a freelance script, you knock it the fuck out of the park, which ensures that you will continue to work. The criteria for staffing is different. When you get staffed on a show, you have confirmed employment for a particular period of time. You get a regular salary, you get scripts to write, and if your show is a hit, you are, too. Staffing means relaxing. You have a job. You have nothing to worry about.

I think both points -- that there aren't enough freelance jobs or enough staff jobs -- are equally relevant. But the TV business has become quite resume-driven. Say you like two writers equally, or close to equally. You're going to hire the person who was on "Veronica Mars" over the person who was on some show you've never even heard of. That's just the way it is. The make-up of a writing staff is so delicate that you cover as many bases as possible. So now writers have two things to worry about -- how to make a living in an atmosphere that only caters to being on staff, and how to get that resume all sexed up so you can staff the next season.

It's not the writers' fault, nor is it the fault of the showrunners. It's the environment this business has fostered that leads to this sort of thing. I doubt very much that the strike is going to fix what's wrong with TV. I hope that it might, if all goes perfectly, slightly alter the way the business works. Doing away with the dead weight above the line is going to help. My fear, though, is that once the strike ends the studios will scramble to make deals with the people who are suddenly free. And then we're right back where we started.

I hope we can all find a way to make television affordable and profitable again. If it takes the strike to make the studios change the way they do business, great. They act like it's some big threat to the writers but any way they can reduce the budgets of these shows so the money's on the screen and not in the pockets of people who add nothing more than their names to the show is in everybody's best interests.

np -- Sea Wolf, "Leaves In the River"

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

And The Beat Goes On

When I first got onto the internets, pretty much everybody who posted anywhere did so anonymously. What this meant was, you got to know people through their thoughts and ideas rather than through their looks or resumes. Naturally, there's a huge internet presence during this strike, and the back-and-forth that is happening has another level to it -- do you really want to disagree with Mr. Big-Time Writer? And do you want to do so with your real name?

Part of me -- a growing part, actually -- hates that my resume is automatically attached to everything I post on the internets. I kinda miss my anonymity.

Just a little musing to me going.

The AMPTP started negotiations with the DGA today and people are starting to take sides -- we have to take the deal the DGA gets, or, we shouldn't take the deal the DGA takes. Nice to see that this, too, is such an easy a black and white issue. The real solution, of course, is to wait and see what the DGA deal is -- if they even make one -- and then make up our own damn minds about whether or not it's good enough. There's a fallacious belief that the folks who are involved in the strike -- whether it be picketing, working at the guild, or just not bashing the leadership in public forums -- will strike until we get the most beautiful deal imaginable.

This is bullshit. Just as ludicrous is the idea that everybody who opposes the strike will take any deal, no matter how crappy. Sure, there are folks of each stripe but that's not the majority. We spend way too much time on the minority squeaky wheels, if you ask me. And they call themselves "moderates." What's up with that? But I think this attention to the minority is part of a writer's mentality. Fifty people could love your script but if one out of the fifty doesn't like it, where do you put your focus? On that asshole.

I think that's why people like Mazin get attention. Here's a writer whose views are directly opposed to those of the majority of the membership. He MUST have something worthwhile to say. But when that something involves accusing the rest of us of not giving a shit about the WGA MBA or constitution, well... that's fucking ridiculous. But he gets the press because he's a misanthropic contrarian. There's no story in solidarity or unity.

There's nothing wrong with being pissed off because the money truck doesn't come as often as it did before the strike. There is something wrong with airing your complaints in public. Clearly, Craig has not learned his lesson. Sure, shutting down comments was an excellent idea, whether you believe he did it on his own or was pressured into doing it. But he still hasn't figured out that blasting the guild in public is a bad thing. He's so fucking gone on his own ego that such things don't occur to him.

There are supporters and people in our guild who are using their power for good. The recent Tom Hanks statement was fantastic. The actors boycotting the Golden Globes? Wonderful. The interim deals? Grand.

But there's the flip side. There's John Ridley, the angriest fi-core dog in the world. You know how there's always some actor who dies, and everyone goes, "I thought he was already dead?" Ridley's like that for me. "He went fi-core? I thought he'd already done that."

Then there's Bill Maher. He's always been a bit on the nutty side but he's funny, too, and the way he excoriates everything from the Bush administration to plastic shoes is fucking hilarious. But to compare the strike to Iraq? Really? I thought he was smarter than that. The strike has clearly been an annoyance for him. He hates being required to belong to or employ people from labor organizations.

Not only do I not condone what he said on the air, It doesn't need to be said that Bill Maher has the right to say whatever he wants. I have the right to tell him he's a fucking idiot. Bill Maher, you're a fucking idiot. Why don't you pick up a fucking picket sign and then we'll talk.

Look, I get the egocentricity of it all. Hell, I've got MY own best interests at heart here too. We all do. It's certainly easier if your best interests line up with that of a larger group. I don't want my residuals to go away. I don't want to get screwed on internet residuals. I don't want the AMPTP to rape our health and pension fund. Thanks to idiots like Reagan, these corporations have us at their mercy. We're not going to beat them. Ever. But we CAN get a fair deal. It won't be a deal we're in love with, but it will be better than what they've offered, and we will stave off the end of unions for a little while longer. You think the free rewrites are egregious now? Imagine how much MORE advantage the studios would take of us without a union.

My best interest, honestly, is for this strike to end so I can look for work. Financially, I can't afford this shit any longer. But goddammit if my conscience won't let me switch sides. I'm thinking of myself, but I'm also thinking of the future. The writers who got us health, pension and residuals did that FOR US. And they gave up copyright.

Lemme say that again -- those writers gave up OWNERSHIP OF MATERIAL for gains they deemed more important to the larger group. Let's protect that, shall we?

The strike's been pretty laid-back so far. It hasn't truly gotten ugly yet. It might end before that day arrives, or it might not. America's become a country that doesn't sacrifice for anything. We haven't had to save rubber or ration sugar. But we might have to sacrifice for this. We might have to really, really hurt. And I guarantee you, I will hurt before a lot of other people do. So if I'm willing to do it, everybody else should be, too.

Resolve and unity ARE important to this effort. I wouldn't care what people like Mazin and Maher said if it wasn't affecting MY LIVELIHOOD. Yes, your egocentricity is fucking with my ability to make a living. Next one of you I see, I'm gonna punch you in the heart. Not that either one of you craven pissheads will ever be out on the line, of course.

I keep saying how I don't want to always talk about the strike, but then Mazin posts something or people lose their fucking minds and a new rant is born. I am going to try and talk about actual writing next time, and get to some comments. And if anyone has any questions, that would rock, too. They can be about the strike. I don't mind.

np -- Georgie James, "Places." Still on the fence about this one. The Radiohead album, however, is totally growing on me.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Profit In Your Poetry

Jake and Mary -- whoa! I'm not getting in the middle of anything, y'all. I'll say to Mary that I hope you reality folks get yourselves organized. I don't care where it happens, but you can't let the studios do this to you anymore. Not that you need me to state the bleeding obvious, but there ya go. Jake, I was at NBC on Wednesday but that was my only NBC day. I'll be at Warner Bros. this coming week.

Speaking of NBC and Leno, I reserve comment on whether or not Leno broke strike rules until I have all the facts. I know, it's a crazy way to do business...

The Leno picket was interesting. I was picketing the Alameda entrance, where Leno's audience lines up. There seemed to be two different groups. One group knew fucking well they were crossing a picket line and tried to uncomfortably ignore us. The other group had no Goddam idea what was going on and they kept staring at us. Now, if they were all there to see Huckabee, I understand their reaction. Because Huckabee, a self-proclaimed friend of unions, literally SNUCK into NBC. Nobody even saw him. He repeatedly pretended wide-eyed ignorance (a grand quality in a presidential candidate), claiming he thought Leno had made a deal with the WGA. It's one thing to lie well. It's another to lie worse than a four-year-old.

I don't get too political here. There are other places for that sort of thing and I'm just not interested in being attacked by a whole different group of internet crazies. But Mike Huckabee, current Republican front-runner, proved that he cares more about running for President than he does about the people he wants to vote for him. He's a fucking idiot, a hypocritical, slimy pustule of a human being. And we can't have a President Huckabee. It's too quirky.

I'm sure you all saw the comments from yet another dreary Anonymous. According to Anonymous, who is a below-the-line person:

I find your comments appalling.

By the way Kay, the reason you don't get hired on TeeVee is because... well, let's face it, you're just not good enough. You need to deal with that, dear.

No, I'm not basing it from your blog writing. I'm basing it from the fact that nobody calls you. It's very simple.
The good writers always get called.

I did not know that below-the-line crew people were aware of how many phone calls I receive. Fascinating. I'm curious about Anonymous's point in posting this. I imagine him/her, fingers shaking in rage as he/she types furiously, going, "I'll show YOU. I'm gonna hurt your feelings." Well, um... who are you, exactly? Because just some asshat blasting away at me on a blog isn't having any effect.

Pretty soon (when the DGA will strike a deal) the WGA will capitulate and go back to work and although I'm very happy we all will go back to work I'm a little bummed, I would have loved to see the writers starve.

And you know, just because there are only few posters against the writers, it doesn't mean we are the minority. Of course pro-writers are going to be the main constituency in blogs like yours.

I just know that everybody in my crew hates you. And we are in the hundreds.

Heh. You understand that executive producers hire the crew, yes? I don't know which show you're on, but it sounds like you're miserable on a daily basis. So the best thing that could happen to you is for you to go back to work. Let's make that anger ulcer even bigger!

I know you won't post this and it's OK. I just wanted you to read it.

That was entirely too clear, which is why I posted it. And also to give a little holiday present to the folks who read this blog and have already torn you a new asshole, Anonymous.

Sorry your show sucks, and you're so fucking miserable. Oh, and I hate you, too. Is that better?

Things have been hopping in Strike Central over the past week or so. Because the AMPTP is deliberately silent, there are writers who are freaking out. I get that a lot of people thought the strike would be over by the new year, but come on. Be real for a minute. It was never a vanity strike. Just because Americans on the whole are fat and happy doesn't mean that's how life is going to go. Of course the strike is still going on. It could go on for months. If it does, then it does. The real question is, how do you want to handle that? For some people, handling it means latching onto every little rumor and tidbit, obsessively refreshing Nikki Finke's blog, and repeating, over and fucking over again, that we shouldn't be striking over reality and animation.

For the rest of us, handling it means fucking handling it. Yeah, it sucks. It's not often that the members of an entire industry get to see what they're made of. Our industry feeds on rumors anyway but now the rumors actually have to do with our fucking livelihoods. It's all a lot more real now. So people are losing it. We're in a vacuum here. The AMPTP isn't talking FOR A REASON. I thought that would be fairly obvious, but apparently that's not the case.

The notion that there are WGA members who aren't behind the leadership shouldn't be news to anyone. Okay? Moving on...

Several high-profile WGA members have put together a series of essays, called We Write, which come from other high-profile writers. The goal is to, I think, put a human face on the strike, similar in a way to the A Working Writer video blog.

I've read a few of them, and they're interesting, poetic, infuriating, sad and dramatic. So I started thinking about that question. Sometimes I think of the blog as musings on that question, but one essay? Hmm. When I worked at Universal, we had rooms full of battered metal filing cabinets. Those cabinets were full of coverage, dating from the beginning of time to the present. The first pieces of coverage were typed on onion skin paper and weren't true synopses, but brief summaries.

I spoke to a former story analyst who'd worked there, back in the day. He had an amusing story about synopsizing "War and Peace" for a producer. He did a real synopsis, which was dozens of pages long, but that was too dense for the producer. So he shortened it. Still too long. Finally, after a lot of work, he got the synopsis of "War and Peace" down to a page. The producer read it and said, "I don't see a story here." Of course he didn't. The synopsis was so short that everything that made the story an actual story had to be cut for the sake of brevity.

I feel that way about why I write.

It's easy to say "I write because I love to tell stories," or "I write because I can't not write," or "I write because I want to make bags of money not doing any real work," or "I write because everything inspires me." But to me, writing is much more complex than that. There's something primal and alchemical about it, as if some long dormant hind-brain awakens as soon as I open a blank document.

Philip K. Dick (come on, you KNEW it was coming) tried to write an exegesis, an explanation of God, which he also tried to incorporate in his writing. He wanted the answer -- does God exist, and if so, what the fuck does God want? Why are we here? You know, the easy shit. So he wrote and wrote and wrote and NEVER found the answer. But he always felt like it was right within his grasp. All he had to do was reach a little further, understand a little better.

"Why I Write" is like asking "Why Am I Here?" It's impossible to answer. It's an unquantifiable exegesis. A quest. Boiling it down to a few paragraphs is, in my opinion, a fruitless enterprise.

I dunno. Maybe I write because I don't do heroin.

np -- Sixnationstate, "Sixnationstate." First truly cool album of 2008!