TGIM – Amusement Parks

Yesterday marked my first trip to Knott’s Berry Farm. I’ll be perfectly honest, for most of mylife I didn’t even know there was another park out here other than the Disney’s and Magic Mountain. It was October of 2003 when my roommate told me he was going to Knott’s Scary Farm, and I punnily replied, “If it’s not scary, why are you going?” My mother just informed me that she went there when she was 5, and thought it was Knottsberry Farm, nor does she remember them having coasters. The Levins apparently have a long, confused relationship with Knott’s.
The Farm ran a 2-for-1 special in February so my special lady and I decided to take advantage of the final of February’s 28 days. Say what you want about Knott’s – it’s small, the rides are no good, Snoopy is no Mickey, etc. – I had a hell of a time. There’s something special about amusement parks. I’ve been to Six Flags Over Georgia a few dozen times, but I’ve only been once (to Disneyland for Xmas a couple years back) since a week-long run during spring break of senior year when my back was summarily destroyed by the end of it.
Knott’s is tiny, but I don’t see that as a bad thing. It meant we could leave one ride and be in line for another in under five minutes. Every time. Ghost Rider is a very solid entry in the classic wooden coasters category, and the Silver Bullet is a really slick suspended coaster that we were able to go on at least 3 times. And the Sierra Sidewinder is the world’s first 360-degree coaster, which means that the cars are round and spin. Kind of interesting, and very dizzying.
I liked forgetting about work for a day (because let’s face it, 30 minute of video games always feel like a pause) and just going thrill-seeking in a safe environment. Amusement parks allow you to just forget everything else and plan your adventure. It’s too bad crowds are more annoying these days – people are louder and more annoying, douchebags are a prevalent subculture, and kids have the power to destroy my brain with their squeals. If not for these problems, I’d happily get a season pass to a couple of them. Coasters make speeding in your car seem like child’s play.
As always, the food is somewhere between horrendous and fantabulous (a word you should never use). But sometimes you have to indulge.

This morning was a wake up call that I can’t forget about work too long, no matter how much I’d rather be spinning and pretending I’m a carney. But this weekend’s fun will propel me through this week’s trials.
Oh yeah, and next weekend we’re going to Disneyland…

TGIM – Hawks 3-0 Against Celtics

I know, I know. I said I would mainly stick to the sports talk over on Geekweek, but I couldn’t resist.

Today was generally a crappy day what with Mark McGwire admitting to PED use, Pete Carroll officially resigning from USC, and Sony scrapping the plans for Spider-Man 4 and going forward with a re-boot (yes, an origin story) of the franchise sans Raimi and Maguire. Plus, there was that whole “working” thing. Had some not fun experiences, and didn’t start writing until around 10:30 tonight.
I could talk about how great the previous draft of what I’m working on is (and my plans to ruin it), or the Hawks. I choose the Hawks.
They’ve beaten Boston (yes, a wee bit short-handed tonight) 3 times this year, and twice in Boston. That’s huge, regardless of who’s on the court. Even bigger was Joe Johnson all game long and Jamal Crawford in crunch time. Hell of a game.
My boys don’t make it easy, but I sure am happy when they win. I’ll be ecstatic if we sweep the season series against the Celtics at the end of this month.
P.S. No more Monday blogs that start at 2:30am on Tuesdays. This is some very weak writing. Feels like I’m just filling a quota. Which I am.

TGIM – 2010

For a lot of people, myself included, 2010 didn’t really start until today.
Everyone was still “on vacation” until work was back in full swing. There’s some wisdom to that, too, given that work takes up the majority of most people’s lives. Why start doing something when you have more time only to wind up with no time once work is back in your system. You’ll only end up feeling like a failure if you can’t maintain. If you suddenly find yourself back at work and taking care of your goals/resolutions… that’s quite a feeling.
And as for me, Mr. My Work Is My Resolution… things are good. I dove into dealing with all of the editorial craziness first thing, then nearly killed myself trying to do the Fit Test for Beachbody Insanity. Followed that up by passing out for a minute and then had a good meeting about an upcoming writing opportunity with someone I’ve been not writing with for years. If I’ve ever mentioned the Hawaiian thing to you, same guy here. The rest of the day making notes and discussing a long-dormant project that is very much alive again. I knew 2010 was going to be awesome, but it’s really starting off well and there are a lot of things that have yet to even get close to falling into place.
It’s a new year. And that means it’s a new opportunity to fix past mistakes and make the most of tomorrow’s opportunities. I’m not taking that for granted. I still haven’t done my “writing for the day” yet, so I’ll get to that in a bit.
So far, so good, 2010. I like you already.

TGIM – Free(-ish) Wi-Fi

On the road working from my grandmother’s house, and unsecured WiFi is a hot commodity in Ohio it would appear. I have to be upstairs, in the farthest corner of the house. I thought I had found a solid connection when I went to load up this blog… And it was dead. I’ve found another connection but I’m hanging on for dear life right now, hoping I’ll have enough juice (and as I type that sentence it’s gone again) to update this post.
I downloaded a free WiFi app for my iPhone that tells me of free hotspots based on location. I knew about the Panera down the street, but no one else will eat there (they’re all dieting) and I don’t have money to go on my own. The Ohio coffee culture isn’t the same as in LA, so I’d likely be the only person sitting there not drinking or eating, taking a solo meeting with his laptop.
I’ll figure something out. For now, TGIM for the secret corners of grandmother’s houses where you can for a scarce moment connect with the outside world.
P.S. Has anyone had any problems downloading jpegs from your iPhone email (CMYK) and then trying to export them into iPhoto, but it says it didn’t recognize them? Not having WiFi I can connect both the iPhone and MacBook to, it’s increasingly hard to pull random files back and forth.

TGIM – Pushing Through

Some days work kicks your ass. You’re not blocked, but you can’t find a rhythm and that means you’re just plodding along, working around problems instead of through them. And nothing ever seems to get any closer despite how much time you’ve already put in.
At 7:30 pm you tell your editor that though you were shooting for today, you want some extra time to make it spiffy for tomorrow and solve a few little hurdles. You go off for a bit, enjoying some recreation and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Then you get back to work.
At 1am, you tell your editor that the whole thing has started to unravel. You’re not asking for help, you’re just letting him know that as close as you thought you were, you may as well start from page 1.
You break it down on paper. Find the essentials, arrange in rough order. See if anything crops up with distractions limited. Then you find an empty breakdown doc template and fire it up. You do the same thing here, with more emphasis on structure. You’re getting warm.
Finally, at 1:37 am you finish typing. You’ve still got one major, gigantic gaping flaw in your story, but you’re feeling much better. The story has returned (along with your mojo), and you tell your editor a minute later that all is right with the world. Because sometimes all you need is a sounding board or someone to vent to, and you don’t get no lip at 1:30 in the morning.
That was basically my day, with a lot more editing thrown in the mix early. And to think, if at any point I had stopped, I might not be a couple hours work from getting this treatment revised, sent off, and a miniseries in production.
Moral: Even when it feels like you’re not making any progress or doing terrible work, push through. Keep pushing until you get a breakthrough, because it’s bound to come at some point, when you simplify or make things complex. It’s out there, waiting for you to find it.
Say, don’t I have a screenplay that could use that same sage advice…?

TGIM – Back on Track

I know, I know. I said you’d probably see more blog out of me and then what did I do. I screwed the pooch on TGIM, the most regular feature here and pretty much outright disappeared. You’ll be happy to know that I’ve prioritized deadlines in which others depend on me. It’s part of being a professional, which I write about quite a bit.
It’s 8:20 in the morning and I’m trying to start this week off on a better foot. I generally blog in the mornings to help get the juices flowing, but for about a month I’ve had problems waking up properly. And that meant a late start allowed no time for “extraneous activities.” As I’m up on time today, and hopefully all week, I’ll try to check in more regular like and give some thoughts and nonsense more often.
One of the things I’ve fallen into is an excellent Monday morning routine. I do a bunch of pull-ups, eat breakfast, and watch the latest episode of Californication. I do so love the exploits of Hank Moody, and the show (despite it’s post-Season 1 warts) is one of the most eminently watchable things ever made. It’s really hard not to like it. For the last four weeks or so, this is how I’ve started every Monday. Too bad Showtime seasons are short…
Let’s all have a better, more productive week this week, yes? Hell, I might even dust off the screenplay and put in 40-50 pages on it. And that’s WAY more overdue than any blogging. Routines are key. Use them. Abuse them. Love them.

TGIM – Old Balls

Anyone that knows me, or reads this, knows that dodgeball is a major part of my life. Since February 2008 when Alexander asked me if I wanted to join a league, it’s eaten up more of my time than just about anything (including drinking). However, the fact that we drink after matches doesn’t really make counting all that easy.
Alexander and I joined at random, just marking that we wanted to play together. We were placed on Old Balls, the team by which all others are judged, and we won championships our first two seasons. Old Balls hasn’t returned to the top of the podium since then (in 3 seasons since), but we’ve remained competitive, including losing in a Finals tie-breaker.
After last season (about two months back), the team was in strife. We had different people that wanted to go in different directions, and a vote was called for. What was the future of Old Balls to be? Ultimately the vote led to a split, with a former captain electing to leave the team and start anew. It was the first time we had lost an original Old Ball, and the first time loyalties had been questioned.
Tonight we kicked off yet another Hollywood season, and there were a handful of [New] Old Balls in the mix. We played a relatively inexperienced team and dominated (Mission: Establish Dominance – Completed). We played the way Old Balls used to. Smart, efficient, and having fun the whole time.
I love my Old Balls. It’s going to be yet another great season.
P.S. I know I lost a week of posts last week. I have them all planned, just haven’t had time to right. Time is money, and I’ve got none of either. I’ll catch up soon.

TGIM – Weddings

Though people may be down on the concept of marriage (despite divorce rates declining in large part to a bad economy), in my experience people still seem to dig weddings. Having been to two of them in the past 5 days I can safely say that I’m still of this opinion.
From the walk of a bride down the aisle to the exchanging of vows, to the kiss or the cake cutting, most people find something to like about weddings. They are an expression not only of love, which can become hackneyed thanks to marketing and Hollywood, but also of devotion. And that’s really the big thing for me. It’s two people, against all odds, deciding that this is it. This is the pair that’s going to take on the world until they die.
And that’s kind of awesome.
Congratulations to all who got married this weekend, and may your lives be filled with as much joy and happiness as your wedding days were.

TGIM – Checking Things Off

I’ve got a loaded first couple days to this week, and I spent most of last week getting my work life reorganized with the help of Things, my favorite To-Do list program for Macs. All my projects, areas, and day-to-day stuff is in there. I’m way more efficient when I choose to use it, which is weird because every few months I fall off the map and get behind. Plus, there’s that 8 million days overdue date on my screenplay…
Woke up this morning, worked out, then hit the email. Lots to get through, and a number of things to do before I headed in to a meeting at 3pm. Tracking your goals and tasks not only helps them get done, but gives you a sense of accomplishment as well. When I have trouble prioritizing, I also drag events around and put them in the order I know I can tackle them best.
Most efficiency experts recommend a few things when it comes to To-Do Lists:
1) Always make your list the night before, that way you can begin to organize your day around completing tasks, not reacting to new challenges
2) Accomplish your most difficult task first, that way you start your day with a feeling of accomplishment.
3) Limit yourself. Rather than listing everything you have to do, focus on two or three major things.
While note based on GTD necessarily, Things has some similar organizational elements that help me out. You can create things that are actionable now (Today), soon (Next), repeated tasks (Scheduled), Someday, or put them in a general Inbox for quick jotting. The better you master these and incorporate into your own workflow, the more beneficial the program and its lists become.
Definitely check out the program if you’re on a Mac. I really need to get the iPhone version to keep everything synced up. But I got a lot done today, and I’ll do more before I sleep. Never a dull moment in the endless morass that is freelance.

TGIM – Union Night

Today wasn’t a great day for me, but it ended well. And I owe that largely to some solid football games and the fine folks over at Union Entertainment. They’re a talent management and production entity focused largely on video games, and had a big hand in helping bring The Darkness to life as a game. Once a month they sponsor an industry mixer night featuring talents from video games, comics, and film. Free beer and wine, good people, and a chance to get paid. What could be wrong with that?

Usually I go and do a bit of networking, hob nob with some of my favorite Busby’s folk (it’s home for about the last year), and hang out with some of my favorite cats like Mel Caylo and Filip Sablik. Tonight, everyone bailed on me. They all had stuff to do, so I’d need to take advantage of the mixer aspect of it all if I didn’t want to be the anti-social guy in the corner.

I ended up having a really good night, meeting some cool and interesting people, and washing off the leftovers of a somewhat dismal day. And hey, I have at least two people I need to follow up with tomorrow about some potential projects. Win win win.

Let’s make this week a good one, shall we.