When I went to college, there were PR companies that would recruit college students to watch a movie and fill out a form on our opinions about it. We had to hide that we were studying film or writing or anything. They only wanted normal people. Nobody who had any background on how to craft a story, or a three-act structure, or the difference between a simile and a metaphor. Just your average Joe.

So, my friend and I were handed tickets to see “Runaway Bride.” We sat toward the back. As the movie started, there was the noise starting behind us. The noise was of people trying desperately to be quiet while they murmured. Now, we had heard that some of the famous actors and actresses that appear in the movies sometimes drop in unannounced to get a feel from the crowd. So, my friend and I asked the people behind us who showed up, thinking it was either Richard Gere or Julia Roberts.

“No one, just the director,” they said.

I was an aspiring writer. My friend, an aspiring director. We didn’t want to meet Richard Gere or Julia Roberts. We wanted to meet Garry Marshall!

At the end of the movie, we filled out our questionnaire and filed out into the lobby. There, we saw Marshall talking with a couple of suits. We came up with something to say to him and waited for an opportunity to sneak in. We stood about 25 feet away and lingered. Marshall had one eye on us for a few minutes. I figured he was trying to figure out a way to ditch us. Instead, he put up his hand to interrupt the suits and walked over to us. That’s right, he stopped talking to the corporate people and made some time to meet us. He asked us our names and what we thought of the movie. Honestly, I don’t remember what I said. My friend said something about the music choices. He thanked us for our feedback and went back to the suits.

It was just a cool moment. He was pretty friendly and just seemed genuine. Every once in a while, you hear about someone meeting a celebrity and he was a decent human being. This was definitely one of those cases.

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SPOILER ALERT…obviously…

carl and ron

At the end of the mid-season finale of Season 6, when virtually every character was in a cliffhanger, Sam has the final lines of the episode: “Mom…Mom…Mom…”

These words haunted me until the premiere aired, and Sam is somehow…fine. He assures his mom he can do this, and they go off together. This little side scene doesn’t really fit, and the only purpose it seemed to serve was to get Gabriel and Judith out of immediate harm.

But they didn’t need to.

They should have just had Sam freak out like we all expected him to do. The sound shuts off, like it did, so we only hear a little of what the characters are saying. Imagine now how much more intense that scene would have been if, when everything got quiet, all we heard was Judith start to cry.

The next few seconds play out as they did. When Carl goes down, we know that Judith is still strapped to him. Rick has to carry them both out.

Dust In The Wind Cover2

A Zombie Mystery available on all e-formats.

In the ensuing chaos, Father Gabriel gets separated from the others. There’s a minute or so of him panicking and you assume he’s not going to make it until he finds safe harbor at the church.

What I Learned: Don’t fool your audience by backtracking over a cliffhanger.

It’s been said that there’s nothing new under the sun. Everything’s already been done.

Maybe.

But that’s why you’ve got to combine stuff, make it new, and make it your own.

Take Deadpool, for example:

Deadpool_thumbs_up

Deadpool = Spider-Man + Wolverine + Deathstroke + Ash from Army of Darkness

 

 

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A hilarious Choose-Your-Own-Adventure!

It didn’t take long for the internet to learn that Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who was against issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, had been married four times herself.

This kind of doxing is usually reserved for “real” celebrities (or someone who says something you don’t like on social media.)

I’m coining the term “Fogled” right now. It means when you become relatively famous for some minor thing, and then the world finds out all your secrets.Fogle

Honestly, no one would care if someone was a hypocrite who was married 4 times and had children from adultery…except that they are tied into the newsworthy rights for gay marriage. And Jared Fogle would have been just some guy having sex with children. You wouldn’t have known anything about this case…except that he was in commercials for Subway (Like when the “Dude, you’re getting a Dell” kid was busted for pot). In fact, the only reason his crimes were discovered was because a Subway franchise owner came to the police about texts he sent her. If he had never become a spokesman, he would still be free to commit more crimes.

It’s similar to the schadenfreude you feel when something karmic happens to Kanye West or Miley Cyrus. (Schadenfreude is when you derive pleasure from another’s misfortune. It is not to be confused with schaden-Freud, in which you derive pleasure from someone else’s awkward relationship with their parents.)

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Please check out my book: 30 short stories for a dollar!

2 Billy Crystal Movies Accidentally Released At Same Time

Two films that star Billy Crystal are now currently in theaters. The film industry meant to do this with Brad Pitt but made a mistake.

Image  —  Posted: December 29, 2012 in Uncategorized
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The holidays are all about being with your family. Sometimes, this includes your alternate reality counterparts.

The Mann family of Amherst, Texas received unexpected guests for the holidays: their alter-Earth versions from a timeline where the planet was destroyed during a Mayan apocalypse.

“It was really interesting to see how the other half lived…when the other half is us,” said Howard Mann.

This world’s Howard Mann is a software tester. His alter-Earth counterpart is a quantum engineer who designed the escape pod he used to jettison his family into this dimension.

“It’s interesting to hear his version of things…but if I have to hear him refer to it as the “Fall of Mann” one more time, I’m finding some way to send him back,” Howard said.

The Manns called newspaper and television crews to document the first ever inter-dimensional holiday gathering.

When Howard’s father came for Christmas dinner, Alter-Howard grabbed him and held him tight, sobbing “I should have built the pod bigger! I should have built the pod bigger!”

“Our house looks nice,” Alter-Debbie Mann said. “I mean, your house looks nice…that’s just the way we had decorated the house…before the lava wave came by…”

“I don’t mean to sound rude,” our-Earth Debbie said, “but I thought you said there was another ice age?”

“Yes, an ice age and a lava flood at the same time.”

The Mann family of Earth Prime, which is what they’ve started to refer to our world as, had to buy extra presents at the last minute for their extended family.

“I wanted a 3DS,” 11-year-old Chase Mann whined.

“We went over this, Chase,” his father Howard replied. “You already have a DS. You don’t need a 3DS.”

Chase’s Alter-Dad held him tightly and said “At least you still have Chase. I’d have given him anything. We lost our Chase when the meteors split the earth, and the dinosaurs came out.”

“Aren’t dinosaurs extinct on Alter-Earth?” Chase asked.

“Yes,” his Alter-Dad said. “These were zombie dinosaurs.”

 

 

In other news:

Mayan 2012 Doomsday Prediction Is Wrong:

I made a mix CD for my daughter for Christmas of songs she likes. As I sit here listening, I decided to try a writing experiment. Here’s a conversation I invented using lines from each of 10 songs, in the order they appear on the album. I imagine it’s one person trying to cheer up another. The answers are in the tags.

Charlie Brown: “Break the doors down.

Don’t go wasting your emotion.

Didn’t I see you crying?”

Zach Galifianakis: “It’s been a really messed up week.

I need to get my story straight.

Gonna be a big man someday.

There’s no time for losers.”

Charlie: “You’re a good man.

I heard about you before.

Just take a chance and believe in you.”

<Zach doesn’t say anything.>

Charlie: “Your silence is deafening.

You treat me like a stranger.

I’m your only friend. I’m not your only friend.

Maybe you don’t know me because you’re dead wrong.”

<Finally, Zach breaks his silence.>

Zach: “Mama-say mama-sah ma-ma-coo-sah”

Charlie: “Here’s my number, so call me…”

You know those things people post on Facebook that are just a phrase on a colored background? Well, someone posted a saying that there is something that a woman can shut down – the Republican party.

In response, I created this. It shows something else women have a lot of control over.

It’s in handy bumper sticker form if you click on it.

 

For Todd Akin.

I’m happy for Joss Whedon, after hearing the announcement he’ll write and direct Avengers 2. I like to see a geek inherit the Earth.

But I worry about the franchise in general. Whedon has a tendency to make his villains too comfortable around the heroes. Considering he worked with vampires so long, I’m surprised how quickly he removes his villains’ teeth and makes them just ordinary guys and gals. Perhaps he just likes villains better, like Dr. Horrible. But I’m afraid that, in Avengers 2, Loki will be joining the heroes for a shawarma dinner.

Which one is better?

In the beginning… Later on…
Spike from Buffy Dangerous. You never knew what side he was on. Just kind of hung around because he had nothing else to do.
Danger from X-Men Living embodiment of the Danger Room. Coolest and most deadly new villain in the mutant titles. Just kind of hung around and poked fun of the heroes because she had nothing else to do.

Also:

“The Avengers” fixed the problems of the Marvel prequels

https://whatilearnedbywriting.wordpress.com/2012/05/06/the-avengers-fixed-the-problems-of-the-marvel-prequels/

Editing mistake in Dark Knight Rises:

https://whatilearnedbywriting.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/a-mistake-in-dark-knight-rises/

 

The refrain I keep hearing from viewers is that they were surprised The Dark Knight Rises wasn’t super great.

This is different from the disappointment fans had when Spider-Man 3 just didn’t work for them. This was more about having unrealistic expectations.

The Dark Knight was arguably the best comic book movie ever made. If any movie was expected to best this, it would have been Dark Knight Rises. It’s not that part 3 was bad. No one seems to be saying that. They’re just saying it’s not terrific.

Maybe there needed to be more Batman in a Batman movie.

Maybe it was more of what a friend said that it was big on a comic book scale rather than a real life scale. In the last movie, it was about people and the decisions they make. There wasn’t a Macguffin threatening to blow up the city.

But really, I think it comes down to audience expectation and the inability of the creators to ever live up to that.

 

An editing mistake in Dark Knight Rises:

https://whatilearnedbywriting.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/a-mistake-in-dark-knight-rises/

 

Why it doesn’t matter if the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are mutants:

https://whatilearnedbywriting.wordpress.com/2012/03/21/why-it-doesnt-matter-if-the-teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-are-mutants/