Thursday, September 06, 2012

Dear Network Executive

Dear ****** Network Executive

This will be my last time writing to you. Your continued refusal to consider Rocco ChimCham: Gorilla Detective as part of your new fall lineup has brought my spirits and creative output to an all-time low. I just don't get you guys. What is missing from this formula? He's a gorilla, he's a detective. He solves crimes big and small. Where are we not connecting here? Is it because he's a gorilla? Because your network contains all kinds of different mystery sleuths, from a white guy who is a famous novelist who happens to work with the NYPD to a white guy who has a photographic memory, to a white guy who tricks people with his mind. Where does he not fit in?

I'm beginning to think you got confused by the title, and didn't venture past it to read about all the amazing crime solving adventures he'll have. Let me state clearly once and for all. He is not a guy who solves crimes about gorillas, okay? He's a gorilla who solves crimes. Any kind of crimes. Sure they could have to do with animals, but they don't have to be isolated to that. He could solve crimes anywhere from the world of high fashion in Milan, to an Anaconda murder in Belize. He's versatile.

Is it because he doesn't talk in more than grunts and huffs? Because I've explained time and again, that's what Bok, his 10-year-old Vietnamese sidekick, is there for. And if you want, we can throw in a translator character for Bok. Maybe a sexy stewardess, or weight lifter. I see an older version of Jessica Biel. And heck if that doesn't work, we could drop Bok and go back to my original idea of a broom being his sidekick. Rocco has fashioned it to look like Jamie Lee Curtis by using the bristles as hair, and a banana as her mouth. This might come off as racist. Your thoughts?

You may be confused also by another part in the title. Rocco is his real name. ChimCham is his captivity name. My hope is that one day we can drop the ChimCham part (as it is slightly offensive) and just call it Rocco: Gorilla Detective. If I'm really pipe dreaming however, one day his name will be so synonymous with crime solving that we could just call the show Rocco. It's got a ring to it. Real possibilities for branding there.

And guys, I'm not an idiot. After 25 years as a vendor of Ham Radios, I know what sells. If this show doesn't work for you, I have other ideas. Let me just throw some stuff against the floor and see what sticks.

First off, what are some niches you're not hitting with your network shows thus far? Duh! Paragliding and mailmen. That's where Tim Connors: Paragliding Mailman comes in.

It might be hard to find a mailman who's a paraglider, but I guarantee you, there is a paraglider somewhere who has also delivered the mail at some point in his life. Think of the advertising tie-ins. He flies, he delivers the mail. He has a one-in-ten chance of death.

If that doesn't work for you, the world of reality television is at your disposal, boys. I'm thinking of a grandma who is a paranormal investigator and captures the souls of the ghosts in her antique German figurines. You call it Lady McCorrigan's Ceramic Ghost Menagerie. Now to make things clearer, she doesn't have to be named McCorrigan, but it can't hurt.

Last but not least, I have three words for you: Celebrity-Pet Funerals. Boom!

Anyway, thanks for reading this, guys. I'm sorry if I sounded a little intense when I started this last (23rd) letter. I'm just happy to know that you're possibly still considering my show, and if the gorilla that I owned for 7 years, whom I based Rocco off of hadn't killed my Aunt, and was still alive today, he would be happy too.
Now if someone could just get back to me to let me know you've received this correspondence I would greatly appreciate it.

Sincerely
Rick Phillips
President Rocco Films and Ham's 
Durango, Colorado
K4FPT

Nothing has ever been cool...ever

Author’s Note: I would just like to state for the record, that I know you’re not going to think this post is funny, because I know you’re going to think that I’m trying too hard to be cool, by not being cool, and that’s just not hip...to you. Not to me necessarily.
-The Author

So, I meant to write this post awhile ago, but I couldn’t think of anything clever, modern or witty to write about. I was trying to write something cool and meaningful, but then I decided that nothing I would write about is even that great. 

Even trying to write this post, I found that the theme of it had already been conceived before it came into my head. I know that like 8,000 people have already thought of writing a piece like this, but then didn’t, because they were just basing their idea off of this trite article that this wannabe nobody had already written based on a Gore Vidal piece that he was inspired to write after reading a novella by Kurt Vonnegut, and just kind of twisted it around until it sounded new. But it wasn’t. Not even then.

On a side note, I can’t believe I said “Kurt Vonnegut”. A ton of people would have thought of referencing Kurt Vonnegut. I should have said someone way more obscure, like Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. Very few people know about Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. I know, because I typed in “obscure writers” into the google search bar and his name popped up like a million times. 

I am a little worried that this writing might come off as a bit elitist and self-important, but I SO don’t care what other people think about it. They might consider it hard to crack, or too meta, and that is basically what I’m going for. I wanted to create something so meta, that it’s not even meta anymore. I’d consider it post-modern meta-ism, or meta post-modernism. I love when people use terms like “meta” and “post-modernism” because I feel like those people have NO idea what they’re even talking about. Isn’t that funny? Whatever. 

So, anyway, I hope that you get what I’m trying to do here. At the same time, if you don’t get what I’m trying to do, then it’s probably just not for you. I mean, it’s definitely not for everyone. But then again, if it was for everyone, than I probably wouldn’t even be interested in it, along with like two-thirds of the population. If everyone in society “got it” then what’s the point of even writing it? Writing has never been for everyone. 

Also, I feel like the hardest part is that I’m really writing this from my point of view. Write what you know, right? But that’s kind of foolish on my part. People don’t really get where I’m coming from, because they haven’t lived my life, or walked my journey, so writing this would mostly be for me. But no one really knows me. In fact no one really knows anyone. Anyone will tell you that. But everyone says that. It's so cliché.

I think I might be going for "absurdism" with this piece, but I really want to ask you, or ask myself really, since you’re not even reading this, what absurdism even means? I don’t really need your help. I mean, I’m pretty sure I can figure it out for myself. I’ve heard of google. That was sarcasm. You’ve heard of sarcasm haven’t you? No, I sincerely want to know. I’m not being facetious. 

I’m joking. 

I think my biggest problem with this essay is that you might think it’s too sincere. That is something that a lot of people have a problem with these days. They think people are writing stuff that’s too genuine and cheesy. Sincerity has become the new sarcasm, and I definitely don’t want to write something like that. I’d rather write something from the heart, that they can really run with. But even if that doesn’t play with them, then I’m pretty sure I’m going to be okay. I’m not out to please them. 

Who are “they” anyway?

I’m just about ready to wrap this up. I was going to have my girlfriend read it, to tell me if she thought it was good, but then I thought, no, she’ll think it’s trying too hard. But then again, what does she know? She’s not a writer. Actually I should be totally honest and say that she’s not my girlfriend, she’s my wife, but I was afraid you wouldn’t think I was cool if I was married. 

In all honesty, I’m not even married. I just made that up to sound like I was more relatable. 

In the end I hope no one even reads this. It’s too self-aware, and I don’t really want to put my heart out on my sleeve and let everyone know who I am. At the same time though, this is me. This is how I do things, and if you can’t deal with it, than maybe you shouldn’t even be reading this.

I am actually married. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

A New Blog - "The List Compulsion"

I've got a new blog, which is basically me making lists of my "important" thoughts on films, books, TV, etc. I always find myself making compulsive lists of stuff anyways. Why not blog about it?

Check it out:
"The List Compulsion"

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Road Trip and an 'Accident'



I'm sitting in a Days Inn in Rexburg Idaho tonight after an interesting day. This morning I woke up (in Provo) and decided that no matter what happened, I was going to drive to Rexburg this afternoon.

I've been trying in vain for the last few days to rally people to go with me, but let's be honest, despite having great and supportive friends, some things are only important to yourself. No matter how you try to convince people that a road trip to Idaho would be "loads of fun" all they hear is..."road trip to Idaho". Perhaps if they knew of the beauty of places like Couer D'Alene, or Sun Valley, or had spent summers taking motorboat trips around Red Fish Lake, such a journey would sound more exciting. Somehow people still think Idaho is the mountain west equivalent of Iowa.

But my narcissism needed to be taken down a peg anyway, and to my benefit, it turned out a solo four hour car trip was just what I needed. I got to drive through some beautiful snow filled mountains, (no...that was sincerity) and I was able to fill the empty hours with my thoughts. I was able to reevaluate my place in the universe and check my bearings. Turns out I'm not doing too bad (Narcissism returning to previous healthy levels).

I made the trip because a friend of mine from college, Nancy Harvey (now Robinson) had mounted a production of a play I wrote at BYU-Idaho called "Accident, West Virginia" at Sugar-Salem High School. A school name I've always found intriguing, because to me nothing goes better with witch trials than all natural sweetener.

'Accident' is a farce, and let's be honest something I wrote eight years ago when I was young and stupid. A time when my idea of comedy was long bouts of flowery language said by what some might consider ignorant townsfolk. Yes Jeff, we've all seen 'Wayne's World', and yes it is very funny when Alice Cooper talks eloquently about the history of Wisconsin, but why don't you come up with some of your own ideas from now on.

That being said the play does have its moments, and darn it if Nancy didn't pick a great cast, and build a beautiful set that would put student theater productions at BYU-Idaho to shame.

You'd be surprised driving into Sugar City. It's a town of a little over 1,200 people, and maybe two stoplights, and yet it's a place that has produced seven teams of state high school wrestling champions, and has enough drama students to put on a play with twelve main characters. (Yeah that's right twelve...like I said...I wrote it in college). Sugar City is not a big city...it's not even a big town, and let's just say it wasn't hard to find the high school.

But as I pulled into Sugar-Salem's parking lot, I began to be really nervous. What if this whole thing was a joke, an elaborate ruse to expose myself and a high school drama teacher as classless frauds, and neither Nancy nor I were smart enough to see how bad it was? Maybe the kids were powerless to tell their teacher what a horrible mistake she had made, and the parents were too concerned for their children's self-esteem to tell them what a nightmare they had created. I was nervous because sometimes hearing my own words said aloud can be like a well-placed dagger to the tympanic membrane. Yes...I'm a perfectionist in treatment.

Somehow though at the end of the night; through an hour and 45 minutes of sitting tensely I arose from my seat, totally relieved, and with a huge smile, amid an audience that wore similar expressions. The kids and Nancy had pulled off some terrific comedic timing, making my work look much better than it actually was, and even came up with a much bigger zinger of a last line. It was amazing. I felt like a hundred fireworks had simultaneously exploded inside my chest...but ya know...in a good way.

The only awkward moment of the night came when after the kids gave Nancy her flowers she pointed me out to the audience, and I couldn't pull myself out of my seat to stand up. All I gave was a half hearted little wave, that I'm sure very few people saw.

The best part came soon after however when Nancy introduced me to the cast, and I was able to meet these young strangers who had been working on my play for the last three months. We took pictures together on set, and talked about the process. Some of the nicest kids you'll ever meet. I was smiling so much that if I was a european luxury car I'd be a beamer, and it's for lines like that my friends, that they pay me the big bucks. Who says I couldn't be a writer?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ugh

When did my blog become so boooooooorrrring? It's all adult, and reflective and what not. Here's to more immature endeavors in the future.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sex vs. Violence


I've been hearing an argument a lot lately about why people put up a stink when there are nude scenes in a movie, but hardly blink an eye to all the violence. My thoughts...The violence 99.9% percent of the time is fake...Michael Gambon who plays Dumbledore did not actually fall to his death in Harry Potter, Mel Gibson did not get his head chopped up off at the end of Braveheart (though some people probably wish he had) and Bruce Willis is still very much alive after his Sixth Sense shooting. Schwarzenegger's fanny however is VERY real in Terminator's 1 and 2.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Verdi, Wagner... Hammer: Random Memories 1

I've been reading a book called "The Lives of the Great Composers" for some reason. It's just been sitting on my shelf for about 5 years, a remnant of my "spending ludicrous amounts of money at Barnes and Noble per month in college" phase. Anyway I don't have a TV or a computer at my house anymore so when I get home at night I read. It's a pleasant habit from a bygone era. Sort of like a child chasing a circle down a street pushing it with a stick.

I started reading in the middle in the chapters on Verdi and Wagner. First off let me just say that Wagner was a huge punkface, and Verdi was a bastage (moreso Wagner). What sticks out less however is the fact that we know so much about these folks. I began to think about why, and realized that they wrote journals, they wrote "correspondence" and they kept records of their lives.

I keep wondering what will be left when all of us are gone. Will our hard drives survive us (profound I know)? Beyond that though, I've begun to realize that I'm old,(not that old, but older) and can't remember as much as I used to. Or maybe it's the fact that I don't choose to remember as much as I used to. So I've decided that sometimes when I think of a memory that's odd, I'm going to write it down, and thus begins "Random Memories with Jeff Blake".

Here goes:

As a child of maybe 12 I was sitting in my family room watching MTV with my brother Brian...illegally no doubt...and MC Hammer was having a concert on the telly. It was all these people on a beach in swimwear and a jeep, and all I can remember is the crowd chanting rhythmically and melodically with Hammer "Turn this mother out".

He repeated it so many times that I started to sing along with it (presumably as a joke, but the state of my humor at that point in time is questionable, so perhaps I was just singing because I was easily impressionable). Anyway there I was singing "Turn this Mother Out" and my brother said to me "Jeff stop singing that!".
"Why?" I said. "Because it's bad!" he said. "Really?" I said. "What does it mean?", Brian didn't have an answer. He sat there stumped in silence, pretending that he didn't care enough to respond to my silly question. So I too sat there. In my 12 year old mind I wondered long and hard, as long and hard as a 12 year old thinks about anything, what could "turn this mother out" possibly mean?

Do you know what? After all that thinking, to this day I still have no idea what "turn this mother out" could possibly mean...And that's okay.
______

In an addendum, I somewhat hesitantly googled "turn this mother out" and came upon this quite humorous bit of cross cultural amusement at the URL:

http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=988528

Hola foreros:

"I can see it in your eyes
You feel the same way I feel about you
Some call it chemistry
I call it you should be with me
Cause I know together we can really turn this mother out"

¿Qué significado tiene "mother" en esa letra, tomada de una canción por supuesto?¿o es una expresión completa el "turn this mother out"?

Gracias
Reply With Quote

So as you can see, this question has not only puzzled me, but those around the world. Therefore in the spirit of gathering a sort of diverse clearing house of ideas, I ask you friends and neighbors:

What does "turn this mother out" mean to you?

Monday, May 04, 2009

5-4-09 - Neurosis of the Liver

I haven't written in a while, but I'm beginning to think that my life has become made up of a series of axioms that manifest themselves in my brain in the form of what I like to call "psycho-tweets" (perhaps "neuro-tweets" has a more pleasant ring to it and is more accurate, but I'm not prepared to establish a scientific justification for my own adorably invented buzzwords).

This has become a nuisance,and is continuing evidence of my media/tech addled brain's desire to turn all things analog to digital. I used to just think thoughts, and not immediately list the pros and cons for their inclusion on facebook or Twitter. I would walk up my front porch at night, and not press the remote button on my keys in a vain attempt to unlock the front door. How many more shortcuts do I need? Why do I and so many others feel the desire to upload our existence? When will all my thoughts be readily available to the "WWW" with just a mere thought of the word "post" at the end of a "mind sentence"? Wow do I have a way with coming up with catchy buzzwords or what?

Well the truth is I need fewer shortcuts in life. It's beginning to cripple my work ethic, and thought process. I'm ready to become the modern day tech equivalent of an aging mid 90's hipster. Vinyl just sounds better.
______________________________________________________________________________________
The above being totally disregarded, here are a list of neuro-tweets I've had of late and while I work at my desk today:
______________________________________________________________________________________

1 - Freedom must be paid for. This is a truth that has been readily established on a grand scale, but because I love to trivialize important issues, I'm bringing this into my average workaday experience. If I want to spend 8 hours in the library writing, I need to spend 8 hours in the office working.

2 - I feel smarter when I'm writing. It proves to my future self when I forget that I was at one time able to type out a cogent thought.

3 - If I can learn how to iron a shirt in less than 8 minutes I can do anything.

4 - I know I've spent enough time working on a certain subject when I begin to dream it. E.g. - Dreaming in Flash Websites seems strangely fascinating, but oddly unhealthy.

5 - I've come to a time of reckoning with my hair. It's "cut or be hippie". Only one of us will survive.

6 - Sometimes things just need to be put simply, and finding out the best way to do that can be really hard.

7 - The best days I've had have been preceded by less than 7 hours of sleep.

8 - When I'm angry or upset about something I love to clean. Is it a good sign than that my room is almost always a mess?

9 - 3 Projects that I've needed to get done for at least 3 years and have yet to do:
1. Put pictures in albums...Estimated time required: 3 hours
2. Put together proper acting reel...ETR: 3 hours
3. File papers...ETR: 3 hours.
Hm...What do these have in common?

10 - Writing a book is the only place where you have complete control through production. It doesn't take 7 weeks of prep, and $5000 for equipment rental, and your actors don't mouth off or need to be fed (not that I've ever worked with actors who've mouthed off, or even fed them that often).

11 - Constantly beguiled by the idea that small events like a roommate leaving chapstick in his pocket while doing his laundry can impact my life in a much larger way than say...swine flu. Don't sweat the what now?

12 - Why would I look to celebrities as proof that true love doesn't last, when they have so little grounding in real life? Tina Fey has been happily married for 8 years; proof positive that she is not a celebrity. Thank goodness.

13 - Multi-tasking...the unsworn enemy of today's working artist.

14 - Diversification...the other unsworn enemy of today's working artist.

15 - New goal...to be prolific in one thing.

16 - It takes 21 days to establish a habit.

17 - "I'm not the man I am"...sometimes.