Category Archives: Random Observations

My First L.A. Gig


I’ve been meaning to update this blog with information after my move to Los Angeles, but there really hasn’t been a ton to write about. Until now, that is. This week I had my first real, legitimate on-set experience. It wasn’t for a TV show or film, but it was exhilarating.

I worked for two days to help produce Magic Meltdown, a new web series sponsored by Nerdist. I essentially just did any small task that needed doing, whether it was lugging around camera cases or getting on-camera volunteers to sign releases.

It wasn’t exactly glamorous, but it was exactly the kind of experience I was looking for. It allowed me to watch the creative process and soak in as much as I could without needing to worry about any personal responsibilities.

Most importantly, I was surrounded by incredibly talented people, both in front of and behind the camera. It was refreshing to be in a creative environment with passionate people around my age, as well as a reminder that I have a long way to go before I’m on their level.

This was the first time I really came to realize how different the people and environment are out here, and it’s exciting and intimidating at the same time. I went from feeling unfulfilled because of a lack of interesting experiences to being bombarded with them all at once.

I remain very impressed by how kind and helpful everyone has been since I moved out here. I worried that I would annoy or frustrate the other people on set with my lack of experience and knowledge, but everyone was patient and more than willing to answer any questions I had.

That continues a trend of helpfulness that I’ve found pleasantly surprising. People I’ve only known for a matter of hours have gone out of their way to give me advice and try to help find somewhere I can work.

I have now been in Los Angeles for a month, and I can’t say enough good things about the city so far. The people are colorful and interesting, the weather is beautiful and there is never a shortage of things to do. Traffic and parking have taken some getting used to, but just about everything else has been fantastic so far.

I feel much more excited than I have in several years, and it seems a change in environment was exactly what I needed. The journey to make a career will be a long and arduous one, but I’m very glad I took the first step by moving.

As for the Magic Meltdown project, it will be posted on YouTube starting in April. It will be available on YouTube on the Nerdist channel and is hosted by Justin Willman, the current host of Cupcake Wars on Food Network. As the name implies, it’s a magic show, and each episode will have a particular theme.

We spent our first day of shooting on the boardwalk of Venice Beach performing magic tricks for random passersby, and the second at Justin’s house recording various sketches and short tags. We spent 13 hours shooting each day, so it was exhausting and left my entire body sore by the end, but it was worth it.

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The Martin vs. Lindelof Feud and the Downside of Twitter


The hype machine for HBO’s new show Game of Thrones has been in overdrive lately, with billboards in several large cities and a food truck giving out free food inspired by the novels. But the reason the show made headlines most recently came because of comments by George R.R. Martin.

Martin created and wrote the series of epic fantasy novels on which Game of Thrones is based, and as part of the aforementioned hype machine he has been doing several interviews over the last few weeks. In a recent interview with The New Yorker, he revealed that he was disappointed in the ending of Lost.

“We watched it every week trying to figure it out, and as it got deeper and deeper I kept saying, ‘They better have something good in mind for the end. This end better pay off here,’” Martin said. “And then I felt so cheated when we got to the conclusion.”

Martin went on to say that he’s terrified of “doing a Lost” and “fucking up” the ending. That one comment caught the attention of Lost showrunner Damon Lindelof, who went to Twitter to express his dissatisfaction with Martin.

In a series of mostly facetious tweets, Lindelof began a “Twitter feud” with Martin. He dropped several tongue-in-cheek insults; making fun of Martin’s beard and the length of time it has taken him to finish his next book in the series.

But as the old saying goes, “Within every joke lies a kernel of truth.” And Lindelof’s most significant tweet said, “I don’t take issue with his opinion, I take issue with the fact that he coined ‘Pulling a LOST’ as empirically ‘fucking up the ending.’”

Lindelof clearly was hurt by Martin’s comment, and probably is a bit defensive about the ending in particular because even some avid Lost fans expressed displeasure over it.

And in an interview with EW.com, Lindelof revealed that he had been in the middle of reading and enjoying Martin’s books. So it was probably a special blow to the ego to have someone he admires criticize his work.

But when Lindelof took the fight to Twitter, he created a storm that has continued to get bigger by the day. Several media outlets picked up the story – the Los Angeles Times termed it a “geek war” – and fans across Twitter started drawing lines in the sand. You’re either with Martin or Lindelof.

And that’s the problem. Twitter often can be interesting because you get direct access to celebrities and their thoughts, but the masses are an over-reactionary bunch.

Lost fans are a notoriously … let’s say passionate … sort. They treat the show more like a religion than a piece of well-crafted fiction, and the ones who supported the ending have grown even more fanatical because of others’ negative reactions.

The fans still firmly in the pro-Lindelof camp have taken it on themselves to start a movement basically condemning Martin and boycotting his works. Across Twitter, fans are joining together and trying to get people not to watch Game of Thrones.

Twitter creates a unique environment in which fans feel like they are buddies with the celebrities they love. Because they have so much personal access, they feel the need to jump to the defense of the people they follow.

But the result is something I’m sure Lindelof never intended. He even admitted in his interview with EW that he still will watch Game of Thrones and likely will love it. Yet his fans have taken his original complaint a step too far and are now actively poisoning other people against Martin and his work.

I take no sides in the actual Martin-Lindelof “feud.” I think Martin was asked a question and just answered it honestly, a rarity in Hollywood types and something he may think twice about now. I highly doubt he meant it as a direct insult to the creative forces behind Lost or that he even realized it would get back to Lindelof.

But I also understand Lindelof taking exception and wanting to defend something on which he worked so hard. He poured his lifeblood into that project and it likely will be the defining series of his career, so wanting to make sure it doesn’t become synonymous with “screwing up the ending” makes sense.

The problem is that once Twitter became involved, the results moved out of Lindelof’s hands. From that point forward, his possibly overzealous fans took control.

I realize this is a first-world problem; it isn’t exactly world hunger or Darfur. But Twitter basically has become a high-tech version of “Telephone.” A story gets picked up one place and regurgitated across the Internet, with the content and meaning of the story getting twisted in the re-telling.

It has been interesting to see the evolution of Twitter and how it has affected the proliferation of information, and it can be both a blessing and a curse.

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The Six Most Frustrating Common Grammatical Errors

Having spent the majority of my life as a writer or editor, I have become a pretty big grammar snob. Sometimes I wish I had a different skill set just so I could be oblivious to the horrible grammar people use on a regular basis.

But alas, it is not to be. I don’t judge people based on race, sexual orientation or religion (unless it’s scientology), but my opinion of someone absolutely is affected by their command of the English language.

There are some things I have learned to accept, either because they are so widespread that I would go crazy if I cared about them or because they just aren’t that big of a deal. But there are others that still grate on me, and have become frustratingly commonplace.

So here they are, in descending order. The six most frustrating grammatical errors people make on a regular basis.

6) Ending sentences with “at”

I could have made this one “ending sentences with prepositions,” but in many cases I’ve grown okay with it. I understand that sometimes in conversational style it is just easier to end with a preposition. But the problem with “at” is that it is totally pointless.

To avoid ending a sentence with a preposition often would require rewriting the sentence and rearranging the words to make sense. But “at” can almost always simply be stricken from the end of a sentence without changing anything else.

For example, “Where’s the party at” or “Where are you at?” Just get rid of “at,” and the sentence makes sense and is grammatically correct. It is actually more work and requires more words to say it incorrectly.

5) They’re/their/there

This one is annoying because everyone learned these words in grade school, and yet they still can’t get them right. It has gotten so bad that the improper word usage may now actually be more common.

So let’s go back over the lesson again. They’re is a contraction for “they are.” Their is possessive, as in “their book.” There reflects position, as in “over there.”

For some reason, “their” seems to be the most commonly misused. It is mistaken for both of the other versions, and yet is rarely used when it should be.

4) The apparent removal of “more than” and “less than” from people’s vocabularies

Being a sports junkie has made this one particularly difficult to deal with, since almost no announcers use these words properly. They say “over” and “under” when talking about numbers, when those two words should be used when talking about position.

For example, you jump over something or duck under something. But the number 15 is not “over” the number 10, it is more than 10. Yet people almost always say “So-and-so has over 50 wins.” That’s not right.

“Under” is the same concept. Think of “over/under” as being able to say “Thing A is on top of Thing B.” If that sentence doesn’t make sense with whatever you’re talking about, then over or under should not be used. People seem to have totally forgotten that “more than,” “less than,” “greater” or “fewer” even exist.

3) “I could care less”

This is another case in which the incorrect usage is more popular. People say “I could care less” all the time, when that actually means the exact opposite of what they intend.

The proper phrase is “I couldn’t care less.” The full translation of this sentence is: “I care so little about this topic that I cannot possibly care any less.” That’s quite a statement. Not only do you not care, but you care the smallest amount that is humanly possible.

Yet when you say “I could care less,” that means you care. Think of a “caring meter” that measures your caring level like a mercury thermometer. What you’re meaning to say is that there is no red on this meter. It is totally empty, which means it’s impossible for the level to be any lower. But when you say “could care less,” that means there is at least some red on the meter. Enough to allow for a decrease.

2) Overusing “literally”

This has become a fairly recent phenomenon, and I have no idea why. People are obsessed with the word “literally,” and they almost never use it correctly.

Literally means that something actually happened, and its proper use generally comes when distinguishing something from exaggeration or a common figure of speech. It is NOT simply a way of placing emphasis on something.

And yet people keep saying “I literally exploded” or “he is literally on fire.” Just no. In those cases, someone would be dead or in the process of becoming horribly maimed.

There are several other words that can be used in place of the incorrect use of “literally.” They include “seriously,” “legitimately” or “totally.” Each of those words can be used only for emphasis.

1) “Could of,” “should of,” “would of”

This is, without a doubt, the most frustrating mistake in the known universe. I literally have ended a relationship with a girl because she constantly made these mistakes. They drive me that crazy.

**And yes, I did just intentionally use “literally” correctly. Without “literally” in the sentence, you may have wondered if I was exaggerating. Its inclusion changed that; that’s how it’s done.

The problem here is that when people use these words in speech, they say “could’ve,” “should’ve” and “would’ve.” Those are contractions, with the endings standing for “have.” But since the ending sounds like the word “of,” that’s what people use in print.

But simply stopping and thinking about it for more than a few seconds should make it pretty obvious that “could of” makes no sense. The word “have” is a common part of complex verbs. “Have done,” “have gone,” etc.

So why would you write “I could of gone”? In that sentence, “of gone” is the verb. That makes absolutely no sense. Yet texts and message boards continue to overflow with these mistakes, and every time I see one a little piece of me dies.

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Why April Fools Day Sucks

I think everyone beyond adolescence is well aware that you can’t believe anything you see or hear on April Fools Day. Most stories that come out are half-assed and pretty obviously fake.

Those can get annoying in their abundance, especially when you’re a journalist and occasionally can’t tell if you should report something or not. But they’re not the reason April 1 sucks; in fact, it’s just the opposite.

The real reason April Fools Day is a kick in the pants is because every year there is a very small number of well-done fake trailers. They are planned months in advance, executed well and at least semi-believable.

This year’s version comes courtesy of website IGN, which ran an “official trailer” for The Aurors, a TV show based on the Harry Potter series of books. The trailer is below in its entirety:

There are several reasons this is clearly fake. For one, it’s April 1 and IGN is notorious for having a yearly April Fools prank. Second, something of this magnitude would have been leaked months ago. And third, all of the actors are American. J.K. Rowling would never allow that.

But despite all that, the trailer still showcases an excellent idea for a Harry Potter spin-off and one that actually could work if done properly.

The aurors in the Harry Potter universe essentially are the police officers of the wizarding world who hunt down and either capture or eliminate threats in the form of dark wizards. They were only briefly featured in the books, but a show based on them could combine the mystical elements of Harry Potter with a gritty police drama.

The idea of taking something mystical and making it more realistic in a real-world setting is not brand new. In fact, there is a precedent for success in such projects. Christopher Nolan’s more realistic take on the Batman franchise has resulted in possibly the best superhero movies to date.

And last year, a live action Mortal Kombat trailer done as an independent project – watchable below (viewer discretion advised) – has since resulted in the creator being paid to make an online web series following the characters.

Because the idea for The Aurors is so solid, I’m now upset the trailer is fake. Had this video never been made, I could have chugged along in blissful ignorance, but now I genuinely wish this were a real series. There’s no way someone could get the HP license to make a TV show out of it, but still.

The whole thing is a big tease. I’ve been shown something I didn’t know I wanted, discovered I wanted it and then was told I couldn’t have it. That sucks. Plus, the fact that someone came up with an idea like The Aurors as a prank, while someone else actually put The Cape on TV is mind boggling.

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