Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I want you to know that this blog is officially dead. As always I am around.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

48hr contest: free to be me

Free to Be Me from andy orin on Vimeo.

Written by me. The required line of dialogue was "I believe anyone can change," the required character was Claude or Claudette, a guitarist, and the required prop was a hat. So, I wrote the whole thing to culminate in the 'change' line.

We won the audience award for our screening group!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Would you like to read the short screenplay I wrote under the sceptered-isle-eyes of instructor Julie Oxendale this quarter? Because you can, at http://drop.io/mrskeleton

Monday, April 27, 2009

Friday, March 27, 2009

blu-ray evangelist

I generally no longer purchase DVDs, in favor of HD content. I also don't download HD content, because it's just high res low bitrate stuff. Quite decent but not tops. Blu-ray is the ticket. Physical media will be around for a while, me thinks: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mr_skeleton/tags/bluray/


View the largest image size available, which is actually about 75 percent actual resolution, to see why blu-ray is cool.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The medium is the message

The popular assumption that the brevity and rapidity of twitter necessitates mundanity seems arbitrary and obtuse.

Monday, February 16, 2009

and I called it Ricki Tiki

I'm writing this down in hopes that my thoughts will be sorted. I'm developing a short script, something ten minutes long or so. But I need a decent idea before I develop it.

First I wanted to do something centered around a conflict between a young couple, with loaded and witty conversation. I want to shoot it to look like Mad Men, implicitly set in the late fifties or so, but only by the exclusion of modern references, and perhaps the wardrobe. The problem is that if the film includes only this conversation, it will be limited in scope and it will be difficult to sustain interest for ten minutes. It's also hard to conform it to a traditional protagonist v antagonist three act arc, a hero's journey, which the school strongly advocates. There could be an arc to their conversation but not to either character, which is the real problem.

Then I thought of a story about a young woman who works in marketing and wants to gain the attention of some guy. I ran with this for a while; she'd use her knowledge of marketing strategies to get the guy to ask her out, except she'd fail of course. Then Something happens. I also wanted cupcakes to play a central role in the story-- either the marketing firm is doing work around cupcakes, or, I don't know. I have a few variations of what could happen, but I couldn't figure out who the guy is and why he is so hard to get to. I wanted a female protagonist because men are pretty dumb, more instinctual. I even wrote a rough outline to pitch to my instructor, but I knew it was a crappy story because there's nothing at stake, there's nothing to make the man really worth her investment, and there's nothing to keep them apart.

Instead, literally on the way to class, I wrote an outline in which a young woman wants to become a bartender at a famous tiki bar, and spends a week devotedly researching tiki culture and trying to perfect her drinks. She's completely drunk the entire time because she samples her own recipes. She finally has an interview, and it goes horribly of course, but she pours the perfect mai tai. She passes out and wakes up the next morning in bed with her arm around an inflatable palm tree. I pitched this in class.

That's a nice, silly story, but there's no pay off at the end. I don't want to write it because there's little to write.

The problem is that I still have the idea about the arguing couple stuck in my head. I've thought of a dozen things they could be fighting about but haven't figured how to make it worth ten minutes of time. It could be about the man's addiction to an online game, like World of Warcraft, but I'd hate to make it so topical and silly. It would then become too lighthearted and would limit it's universality. I don't want it to be about Now.

I have to write a detailed outline by Friday.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

understanding humor

They say that deconstructing humor is like watching sausage being made. I don't agree with that, because at the end of the day, deconstructed humor isn't edible.

I'm taking a class on sound design, about how to record and edit decent audio. The instructor mentioned that he had some audio samples of Brian Eno and we were going to practice listening closely.

"Pardon?" one student asked. "You should listen more closely," I said. I was surprised how much everyone laughed at that. It was such an obvious thing to say. I remember waiting half a second for someone else to preempt me.

I've thought a lot about what makes people laugh. There's a large variety of distinct things that people laugh at, but one of the most common is when you make a logical conclusion that is completely ridiculous. For example, let's say Joe the plumber sees the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile driving down the street. Joe asks, do you think they use cooking oil in there instead of motor oil?

That's not particularly funny but that's off the top of my head. You see, cars have oil in them, food is cooked in oil, so it makes sense for a giant hotdog car to have cooking oil in its engine. It's logic followed to a point of absurdity.

Months ago, I was presenting a story about a professional blogger who, when the power goes out, devolves into a caveman-like state, but still must find a way to make coffee. The instructor casually and humorously mentioned that it would make a great commercial for Foldgers. Then a fellow student presented an abstract story about a woman who, when full of loneliness, falls in love with her furniture and eventually becomes a chair, literally transmogrifying. I said that it would make a great commercial for Ikea.

The humor there was in the repetition of a pre-established notion, again drawn out to a logical discordant extreme. Without the preexisting idea of stories-as-advertisements established by the instructor when I pitched my story, my comment would then just be weak semi-relevant sarcasm. The Ikea comment is only funny when the logical idea already exists but is followed illogically in a logical direction. Like a flea circus.

Those sorts of jokes must make complete sense but must be completely absurd. Of course, there's no time in normal conversation to construct a joke. You simply speak and hope the words you're saying aren't too dumb.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Unnecessary thoughts

A friend texted me the other day "Do you believe humans can ruin the Earth?" What a question for a text message. I replied that there's no right or wrong way for the Earth to be, but humans act in parasitic way. Then we die and the Earth changes again. Even if we raise the temperature of the atmosphere to the detriment of many other species, we'll eventually die off and things will return to pre-human levels. What a nice thought.

Humans have existed for such a short period of time that we only want the Earth to exist as it has for the past 50,000 years or so, when in fact it is an always changing place, but on a time scale such that we're oblivious to it. Not factually oblivious, we know what happened when, we know the numbers, but devoid of practical knowledge.

It's an interesting thought, I think. I know, of course it is bad to pump chemicals from our factories into nature, but people talk about human pollution as if we are not of this planet, that we are not of the nature we are harming. I've never truly understood the notion of natural versus artificial, because anything artificial is create from ingredients initially harvested from nature. I realize that's as an effectual argument as saying, well heck, it's all atoms anyway!

People love all-natural food, of course. Locally grown, all that. I think giant factory farms are probably a dozen times more efficient, in terms of output and the use of energy, than any hand-grown vegetable. That is why they make money, that is why they are scaled so large. Humanity has evolved based on the efficiency of its farms, but now people are embracing less-efficient food production under the theory that its actually better for the environment or better for you or might be better tasting. I really don't buy it.

[Small update: I am aware this is a very complex issue. I also want you to know I couldn't be more ignorant about food production. But in terms of output efficiency, I believe giant robot farms are inherently more productive].

Some people look at the bread aisle in a grocery store and scoff at the dozen different varieties of plain white bread, as if its all so impersonal, so unnatural, as if to lament the good old days when you'd go the bakery to buy a single hand-kneaded loaf. I know that sounds nice. It is. But the efficiency of our production abilities allows us to have hundreds of identical loaves always in stock, always free of mold, always ready to be eaten. THAT is progress and some people perceive it as regression. Natural foods are a LUXURY because they are ineffecient; that is what I want to say.

My real point is that humans are just mean monkeys.

Monday, February 02, 2009


I've just realized that I take a lot of pictures of people when they're not looking, from behind. See?


Sunday, January 18, 2009

You will be happy to learn that I located the leak on my short-lived inflatable chair, and successfully patched it, though only time will tell if the regal throne will last under the burden of its king. It is too oft tragical that newborn inflatables wheeze and pucker upon their first inflation, leaving their Pee Wee Hermanesque purveyors slouched atop a pile of industrial rubber, a silent tear falling into the squeaky folds of imagined luxury. Nothing but hot air! And even then, the air escapes.

UPDATE: Alas! The ill-fated rare chair of rubber and air is not meant to be; one leak, effectively sealed, means little upon the sprout of another. With due haste I will suppress such seepings of precious gas as completely as possible, but the immediate onset of novel leaks is ominous, to say the least.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

nottuB fo dnE ehT

I can see from my space age statistical information that people keep coming this site by searching Google for "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ending." What's up with that? Why are people searching for the denouement of a film, whether they have or haven't seen it?

People who have seen the film might be trying to find an explanation, except it isn't a particularly ambiguous ending. Benjamin Button ages in reverse. Guess what happens towards the end of his life. It's more tragical than whimsical. I suppose there is a degree of ambiguity to it-- it's not like we see him as a fetus-- but hey fellas, when you see that hummingbird, you know what happened.

People who have not seen the film, well, why search for the ending? The ending is presumable enough if you know the gist of the story, and if you don't know the story, well hey kid, what's the point?

I HAVE A THEORY! People are Googling the ending because they had to run to the bathroom in film's last minutes; it's a 168 minute movie. Did Benjamin ride off into the sunset on the back of a unicorn? Did he enroll in the army as an infant, partaking in a buddy comedy with, I don't know, Eddie Murphy? This is the place to find out!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Behind the Scenes at The Enchanted Tiki Room

Uncle Walt explains that the space-age parrots are run by secret rooms full of giant bleep-blooping computers. What's not to love?

"I (claim to have) felt a great sense of awe, wonderment, and reverence while sitting in the synthetic, fabricated instant-Polynesian Tiki Room at Disneyland, as I have experienced in some of the great cathedrals… Chartres, Rheims, and Notre Dame… as near to beauty or art as faradic current applied to the vocal chords of Galli-Curci…" - Stanford professor Don Jackson

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Mini Review: Doubt

'Doubt' is a movie rife with stunningly skilled actors demonstrating their prowess (Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Meryl Streep), and is a strong film, but is ultimately unable to distinguish itself from its theater source; it is merely a play on film, rather than on stage. You almost expect a curtain to draw over the last scene, only to open to the main trio taking a bow, accepting bouquets.

It is worth seeing, but the film will never be remembered as a separate entity from the play.

Amy Adams makes for an adorable nun. Does not everyone have a little crush on her?

Friday, January 02, 2009

peanut butter and jelly

When I was a child, I used to accompany my mother to the grocery store on her weekly trips. It was just something to do, I suppose, and the store never failed to be a fascinating place. But I was not the sort of child to beg for superfluous goodies and sweets; I knew my mother would say no to any whines and protestations, as she always bought the cheapest and healthiest food that was reasonable, not counting the weekly carton of ice cream (bless her soul).

But, of course, I pined for junk food.

I remember seeing the Lunchables--- those mesmerizing, manufactured, bite-sized miniatures of food, circles of ham, crackers delight, perfect postage stamp sized cheese squares--- and always wanting them. They taste like a foreign observer’s idea of what Earth food might be, recreated in a far-off Martian lab, but man, those little snacks looked appealing.

I remembering seeing tubs of Cool Whip, cans of whipped cream, and thinking, blessed he is the man who can spoon Whip straight from the tub that giveth the Whip. Spray cheese had a similar appeal.

I remember, especially, the special jars of peanut butter that contained both peanut butter AND jelly, in a single jar.

I never asked for any of these things because I knew my mother to be too practical. But now, dear reader, at two point three decades of age, I can buy whichever peanut butter I like. I only realized this quite recently.

The call it Smuckers Goober, and it contains peanut butter striped with jelly in a zebra-like pattern. The visual splendor of striped condiments makes up for any lackluster taste. In fact, it would probably taste better to buy the individual condiments, but the gimmick itself, TWO things in ONE jar, is worth the expenditure.

I think it’s a modern marvel.


the end of something.