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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Lottery Fever

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Today’s the day that someone could get a whole hell of a lot richer.  Could it be you?  Could it be me?  I may have less than a 1 in 175,000,000 chance but you can’t win if you don’t play.

You can say that about a lot of things in life, I guess.  You can’t find a relationship if you don’t ask someone out and make yourself available.  You can’t get the job you want unless you throw your hat into the arena.  You can’t take control of your life until you do exactly that.

Whenever I buy a lottery ticket, I love spending the days before the drawing daydreaming about how I would enjoy my winnings.  I’ve always had a love of traveling and that’s what I would do.  I’d become a rolling stone going from country to country seeing and doing all of the things I’ve always wanted to do.

Ever since college, I’ve been building this epic trip, The Beer and Art Tour of Europe.  Sounds pretty self-explanatory but perhaps you want me to elaborate.  I’ve always loved foreign beers and art.  I was an art major in college and took many art history classes.  My dad instilled a love of art in me from a very young age and my first ambition upon entering college was to become an art museum curator.  A year or so later, I found the film department and that was all she wrote about that.

So the trip would entail my only being able to consume the domestic beers of the country I was visiting while touring all of the great art museums across Europe.  Let’s face it, they did steal most of the best art from around the world in the past 500 years or so.

I have to visit art museums whenever I travel.  Painting, sculpture, photography and all of the mixed media enthrall and mesmerize me.  I’ve never forgotten this film I saw on cable when I was young called The Hideaways (based on a book called From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler).  A couple of kids hide out in an art museum at night.  I might have to rent out one and do just that when I strike it rich too.

There are beaches I want to lounge on and mountains I want to climb (really only one, Kilimandjaro).

There are historic sites I long to visit and some Great Pyramids too.  And if it becomes feasible, and I have enough left, I want to be launched into space, just like Richard Branson is about to make possible.  And according to a little research, “The ticket price for the initial trip is $200,000 and Virgin Galactic is in the final stages of its test flight operations. The company plans to begin running flights commercially next year.”  Chump change.

If I win the lottery, I’ll still blog.  I’ll just be doing it from somewhere in the south of France or perhaps while orbiting the Earth.  Bon chance and Live Long and Prosper!  And daydream to your heart’s content.  That’s always free.

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What a shame

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This weekend I saw the already dubbed “flop” called John Carter.  It’s actually a very good movie that just failed to find an audience.  Perhaps it will find fans on home video and eventually be regarded as entertaining fare, but its box office run is quickly coming to an end.

Just like when a terrible movie makes a fuckton of money (Transformers, anyone?), you have to wonder why a good movie fails.  Who is going to the crap and staying away from the good stuff?  And what influences their decision?  This is something that I as a writer have to think about sometimes.

From listening to people, John Carter failed to draw in people on several levels.

First, the title itself is so generic.  Not many people today respond to the name John Carter itself since the source material is around 100 years old.  Journey to the Center of the Earth is just as old but it made money (enough to warrant a sequel).  An obvious difference between the two would be budget.  Journey was much less expensive so profitability was easier to reach.  But another reason might be that the title of Journey to the Center of the Earth says it all.  You know what that movie will be about.

The title of the book this film is based on is A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs.  I’ve read that test audiences didn’t like this title mainly because guys didn’t want to see a film with the word “princess” in the title and girls didn’t want to see a film with “Mars” in the title.  Hence, John Carter.

Secondly, the advertising campaign didn’t make it a must see.  Would a bigger star have at least drawn in more people?  Who knows.  Would giving more of the story helped?  I’m not sure.  Either way, the ad campaign was an epic FAIL.  It showed some action and some aliens but no one could figure this one out and so they stayed away.

Lastly, this is storytelling we’ve seen before.  The funny thing is, the reason we’ve seen this before is because writers and filmmakers have been stealing from this story for decades.  John Carter isn’t like other action/sci-fi stories.  It’s the other way around.

John Carter could be a good lesson to Hollywood except it could have succeeded.  You can’t predict this shit.  Or as the great screenwriter William Goldman remarked, “Nobody knows anything.”  The best laid schemes of mice and (movie) men often go awry.  The best you can do as a filmmaker is get behind something you love and put all you’ve got into it.  You may succeed, you may fail but in the end, at least you won’t be left feeling like a hack and a sellout.

Go see John Carter too.  I know this was a labor of love for the filmmakers because it shows.

Adventures in Public Transit

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I grew up near Houston, a city not known for its public transportation.  Most of the large cities in Texas are arranged as driving cities full of urban sprawl.  I once attempted to take a bus from one side to the other and had a heck of a time finding my connecting bus in downtown Houston.  It took over twice as long to make the trek via bus and the bus didn’t even drop me within a mile of my dad’s house.  He had to come pick me up.

I’m not a fan of driving and driving in traffic makes me a cranky bitch.  I’m happy to let someone else do the driving.  So the first time I discovered a city with good public transportation, I was actually excited to take it.

It was Chicago for New Year’s Eve 1999.  I was living in Toledo at the time.  My roommate, Ryan, and I took the Amtrak to Chicago and then the EL trains to where we were staying.  We took the trains all over the city.  We took the train to the bars and didn’t have to worry about drinking and driving.

In 2004, I got to go to Paris with my brother and his family.  Even in a foreign language, that city’s Metro was very easy to understand and navigate.  We had a blast riding it and I even saw a string quartet in one of the stations playing for travelers.

I visited New York in 2006 and although most of what we were doing was within walking distance, I did take the subway once just to say I did.

It was when I got to stay in San Francisco for a full weekend in 2009 that I really learned how different it is to live in a city with a good public transportation system.  I wandered around the city for several hours and when I was exhausted and wanted to go back to my hotel, I located the nearest bus stop and easily found a bus taking me where I wanted to go.  The biggest issue I had was getting exact change.

So this past weekend, I gave Los Angeles’ public transportation a shot.  I still had to be picked up again to make it to my final destination but I made it from Culver City to North Hollywood in about an hour and a half during rush hour traffic for three bucks.  That’s less than the price of a gallon of gas and not more than 15 or 20 minutes longer than it would have taken by car.

Now I want to learn to take buses to the places I’ve wanted to visit but avoid because parking is such a bitch or ridiculously expensive like the beach or Hollywood.

I love living in LA but I despise the traffic and parking (or lack thereof).  Things are getting better as they build more trains so I look forward to the day when I can navigate this system as easily as any other.

Wish me luck!

I Can Say I Was There

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So this year, Disneyland in Anaheim, California (as well as Disney World in Orlando, Florida) decided to do something special for Leap Day.  For the past couple of months, they promoted this “One More Day” campaign and on Wednesday, February 29th, they kept the park open for an entire 24 hours – 6am to 6am (March 1st).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had made plans to go on Leap Day with my guy last year, before this particular specialness was announced, so I took the day off and we arrived at around 11am.  It was a normal weekday in winter and we were able to just walk on many rides for several hours.  Then around five or six o’clock, it began.

People started pouring into the park.  We exited the park for something in Downtown Disney and when we wanted to re-enter the park around 7:30pm, the line for that was about half an hour long.  It just kept growing and they stopped letting people in around 9pm.  I doubt the people in charge had any idea what to expect.

This was taken around 9:45pm. It looked like this for hours.

Thanks to a couple of fast-passes (front of the line type passes) secured earlier in the day, we were able to ride a couple of the good rides relatively quickly.  But from then on out, the lines were longer than I could bear and I was getting tired.  The ridiculous thing of the night was that I waited almost an hour for a cup of coffee.  What could I do?  I needed the caffeine jolt and everything else had a line too.

I did ride the carousel around midnight since that didn't have much of a line.

I got a season pass specifically to go when attendance is lower so I can enjoy myself without the long wait times.  I doubt I would ever go through that again but it was fun to be witness to the insanity.  Luckily, most attendees were in a jovial mood and that’s probably the only thing that kept the night from getting completely out of hand.

Goofy and Pluto around 2am in their PJ's taking pictures with the guests.

We stayed until about 2am since I had work to go to later that day.  There were still lots of people waiting to get in and even still arriving.

Everyone has a great “I was there story” and now I have mine.