Re[2]: A Radical Idea

2. When ALL the bios are done, we THEN discuss the pros and cons of each story. But: we are no longer pitting them head-to-head anymore, but simply looking at each one individually and deciding if they are worthy of being turned into a screenplay.

I was thinking more that we still take the heats step by step, so present two stories, do a bio, talk about them, and then vote and move on to the next round. Only, when we would normally ("Normally." As if we did this all the time--yeah, on the last screenplay blog we did it this way....) go on to the next heat, this time we vote.

Re: A Radical Idea

Note: Some discussion of this post took place on iChat. I believe most of the points and issues will be restated here; if not, I'm sure Burley can help me out.

First, I'm glad you liked the last bio. I thought that what you wrote about Jones in the Jake bio gave us a good enough idea of Jones' physical circumstances, that focusing entirely on what I call his "interiority" seemed like a better tactic. I didn't expect the whole thing to be his dream though; that just kinda happened.

Next: As I told Burley in an email, this was The Right Post at the Right Time. I, too, felt very strongly about both story ideas, and wouldn't know which one to vote for. Well, I'd probably go with Time to Die, since I'm kinda conservative and always choose the one that seems "further along", whatever that might mean at the time. But the idea of losing Rasputin, especially when it seemed like it was on the right track, was pretty disheartening. So: what to do?

A Radical Idea

Brought to you by: Shower--a contained, temperature controlled indoor rain, promoting clarity of thought, cleanliness of body, and consumption of odiferous creams, jellies, soaps and scrubs. Shower--its repetitive beating on your head will stimulate deep thought. Shower--have one every morning.

I was thinking about these two ideas and how to move forward. First of all, though, I have to say that I totally dug your last post. Dreams are usually a bit boring to read, but you had great tension, suspension, and now I want to know more about the man who will become president. Really engaging and inspiring work, Mr. Shockah.

So--we have two character bios for each story, and I'm no closer to picking one. At first I thought that I would just call for a vote, and force myself to decide, but as I pitted these against each other, I just couldn't. I want them both to win for very different reasons. And maybe they both can.

Round 10.2, Part Two [Rasputin the Translator v. Time to Die]

And now, Part Two...

Rasputin the Translator
In a World contacted by a sentient and potentially violent alien race, one man--bearded and wild eyed--is the only person on earth who can translate between the languages of humans and the language of the aliens. But this strange man is not only hostile to both sides of the debate, he is also untrustworthy, and possibly manipulating the negotiations to his own ends. With all of Earth being turned into a prison as the stakes, one government has a very limited time to not only unravel the mysteries of the alien language, but also the history of the interpreter.

Character Sketch: Jones Alan Porter
Relationship to Story: Supporting

Trickster Raven Deserves a Movie

Northwest Coast Indians have an amazing visual art tradition--one of the most developed of any indigenous peoples in the world. Cultures like the Haida in British Columbia have an astounding history of a complex visual language. Bill Reid, the most famous Haida artist--and possibly the most famous native artist--of the 20th century said this:

Art can never be understood, but can only be seen as a kind of magic, the most profound and mysterious of all human activities. Within that magic, one of the deepest mysteries is the art of the Northwest Coast -- a unique expression of an illiterate people, resembling no other art form except perhaps the most sophisticated calligraphy.

Re: Jeeeeeeem!

Is it okay to say that I usually end up going over to for Mr. Emerson's Scanners rather than Mr. Ebert's reviews? (Well, the Answer Man, too.) I mean, he named his column after a David Cronenberg movie! How cool is that?

The new, "real" blog is looking pretty cool, too. Just wished he'd have comments enabled, although I can understand why he'd demur -- it's not a decision taken lightly. (Not everyone can be a Matt Zoller Seitz -- that is, be a journalist, but embrace the instant feedback, as well as give and take, that comments provide. Just ask the Washington Post.)

Re: Wednesdays with Cranky

Ironically (in light of my post last night), today in the Stranger, Brendan Kiley took local theater critics to task.

Tuesdays with Morrie is pap and the critics know it... But instead of indicting the play, the critics indict themselves. Why is this play tying them into knots?

I'm no reviewer or critic, and certainly not one of the ones he's talking about, but I couldn't help laugh when I read that. I did exactly what he said.

Although, my point ended up being more about the elitism of many critics, his is really about the nature of the play and why it incites such responses.

Still, it's a good point to make--I think I tempered my harshness because of my interest in not being an asshole critic, but strove instead to let people be who they are and make their own choices in what to like and what not to. That said, I should really just get with it and remember that my opinion will likely mean little to anybody, and those that might be insulted by it will: 1) not likely read this blog, and 2) it's goddamned egotistical of me to assume that I'm influencing anybody.

In the end, though, I guess I strive to at least be entertaining in my wrath--succeed or not. I'll name my next review The Punches Less Pulled. Oh, and just for the record: we were season ticket holders. Morrie was the last show of the season.


I really like Roger Ebert. He may be a populist critic, but he's always unpredictable, and I think often has good insights.

So, around here, we were thrilled when the new launched, and especially because it was edited by the way-cool Jim Emerson (whom my better half worked with--or in the same building at least--at Microsoft). He wrote a lot of great stuff on the Roger Ebert site, but the page was a bit confusing in the outer shell of, and also felt more like a blog than a column, but looked like a column more than a blog--especially since there wasn't even an rss feed.

All that changes today--Jim has a full-on blog at the Chicago Sun Times, now totally separate from the domain. I'm thrilled, and immediately added him to my feed reader (the awesome NetNewsWire, created by Seattle man Brent Simmons ).

Jim has especially big internet street cred right now--even Kottke links to him. Go Jim go!

Wednesdays with Cranky

Let's just make it bitch night in general around here. I just got back from seeing the Seattle Rep staging of Tuesdays with Morrie. The acting was fine, the staging was impressive, the story just interesting enough. I spent the hours it was unfolding in front of me trying to figure out exactly how they were moving all the props around. Occasionally I'd remember there were people on stage too.

They say that movies are about emotions, books are about ideas, and plays are about conversations. So, here we have a conversation of aphorisms between a wayward student who is unhappy (but here's the rub: he doesn't know it yet) with his successful career and new bride, and a happy nub of a man who is all charm and joi d'vivre--oh, the irony, she is a cruel mistress--for this man who loves life is dying.

Let's watch him die, shall we? Gather around, ye in the expensive seats, and ye in the cheap sets--you shall all witness together. Did you remember your hankies ladies? The darkened room will be lifted by the sniffing of many noses--anonymous people shedding bodily fluids in amazingly close proximity--while on stage this man--a man who was a sociology professor for 30 some years, who published three books, who taught some of the Yippies before they got radical we are told, who influenced thousands of students over many years--this man seemingly quotes chicken-soup-for-the-soul for his student who -- maybe he never watched Hallmark theater? -- has never heard anything so profound as "Love always wins."

Am I a total asshole for even approaching it so cynically? I mean, here's a book that has moved millions of people, and tonight all of our friends that we went with were incredibly touched.

Air Vent Chastity

Over at his great blog, Go and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory screenwriter John August has proposed a Screenwriter's Vow of Air Vent Chastity:

More Meta Commentary

Shockah? Did I forget something?

Don't think so. I told you about the crazy opening scene of Sam Fuller's The Naked Kiss and how I saw that in connection with the potential opening of Time to Die, with the brutal violence that starts without any context, but other than that, I think that was it.

Getting Real

Both Shockah and I have been quite inspired by reading the book by 37 Signals titled Getting Real. It's about designing web applications, but really is good general advice as well for creatives and creative pursuits. This quote, from CD Baby founder Derek Sivers, particularly struck me, especially considering that the sentiment is similar to our Statement of Purpose:

Round 10.2.5, Part One [Rasputin the Translator v. Time to Die]

Great post--I'm totally digging your breakdown--it shows that this guy won't be a pure terror/evil type. He has some method to his madness, and the base of a loving relationship as a child. The self-righteous grandparents are great too. And Florida flooding, I laughed out loud. Sorry Florida--don't take it personally--I don't really want to see you drown. I mean, damn Florida, I love you. Don't be like that.

I think the vision of neon is great--and that story about the street kids is amazing. It's amazing how fast the adult fantasies of idealized childhood go out the the window, and we see kids become a microcosm of the paranoid adult world we build and shape around us.

Round 10.2, Part One [Rasputin the Translator v. Time to Die]

Hey folks,

Sorry for the turtle-esque crawl that this round is starting to resemble. My excuses are a) spending the last few days with a friend before she flies back to the U.K., and b) discovering, on Saturday morning, that our car up and fucking died. Just would not start.

Could 1024 Japanese Schoolchildren Be Wrong?

I would guess not:

Click for a larger view and check out the little uniforms!

Make your own at

Weekly Wrap-Up (4/7/06 - 4/14/06)

Another pretty slow week at Spitball!, with only three posts, but that's soon to change when the Great Spitball! Media Blitz awakens like the slumbering leviathan it is and begins its inexorable conquest of realities both physical and virtual. But until that moment, when all bow down before the might of Spitball! or else be crushed like bloated, overripe fruit, how about some links?

The week began with the tail-end post of the Tragic Round Nine Debacle, which ended with the two story ideas, The Atheist and Atmosphere, being combined into one idea -- The Atmospherist -- despite their incompatibility. Burley's idea of how such a monstrosity might be summarized deserves to be quoted in full:

In a world where autistic youth believe they are not living on earth, one religion proves itself useless when the methane atmosphere changes into scientists. Also known as My Blog with Andre.

It was agreed that, despite the absurdity of the concept (or maybe because of it), The Atmospherist will be treated as a legitimate contender in the Spitball! Tourney of Story Ideas. Heat #3 will be... odd, to say the least.

Then Burley gave us the rundown on March's blogging. Short version: we wrote stuff.

Finally, Burley (it's been all Burley this week) threw us the opening pitch of Round Ten, Rasputin the Translator v. Time To Die. It was so good that Shockah, off-blog, asked Burley if he could write some supporting material for the two character bios instead of creating whole new ones. He said yes. Look for Shockah's post sometime on Monday, if not earlier.

Round 10 [Rasputin the Translator v. Time to Die]

Rasputin the Translator (Shockah rank: #1, Burley rank: #13)


Time to Die (Shockah rank: #6, Burley rank: #10)

Don't mess with Texas. Unless--you know--you really wanna.

State of the Blog: March

Citizens of the world, websurfing aliens, and sentient underwater overlords--welcome to the State of the Blog address for the month of March, 2006. We (we being I, as Shockah had nothing to do with it) apologize for the delay in posting this overview--it is my responsibility, and I fell behind. I accept any disappointment you feel in me, and will try to please you more next month.

We were happy to see a few more people popping up in the forums in this month, and we encourage all people reading this to go and comment on anything you would like, including comments like 'You guys are really boring me,' and 'I thought screenwriting was supposed to be filled with buxom babes, perilous parties and more excitement than any reasonable person should be exposed to.' Of course, we may be holding out on you and when you sign into the forums you will find those parties. That's all I have to say about that.

Our Google ranking has remained about the same this month. We're still a first page result for searching "Spitball". We posted around about 74 posts in March, wrapping up the first heat of our battle in Seattle over screenplay ideas. Shockah continued his fine study into the Sequence method, to which I added nothing of value other than occasional quips. Shockah gets the gold metal for actual work this month.

We both became weighed down in minutia in round 9, which seems to be a bit dispiriting to us both, but I predict will be a minor hiccup in the road. From my point of view, when we get into the nitty gritty about something, it's usually about something else--in this case, I think it's about the weakness of the two ideas presented.

The last week of March saw a dramatic slowdown--first from my need to focus on work, and then from the flu which struck me down in practically biblical ways. Speaking of which, how about that Gospel of Judas? I'll bet you gnostics are just psyched.

In any case, I predict April will be much busier as things pick up. We're about to start round 10, and it contains two very strong ideas that we both have strong opinions about. Get ready for a smackdown.

Thank you for tuning in to Spitball!, the world's only screenplay being written by blog. Memberships are still available for free. Hurry and sign up, before they are all gone.

Re:[6] Round 9: A big stick

It might end up being an excuse to indulge in some Grade A nonsense.

Hey--that's a great idea. I'm totally on board with that. It shall be treated like any other story, but it's our chance to really go outside.

Re:[5] Round 9: A big stick

Just FYI: I found your "consolidation synopsis" hilarious, and I do plan on treating The Atmospherist seriously as a contestant. It might end up being an excuse to indulge in some Grade A nonsense (something I haven't allowed myself to do in a long while), but, yes, I plan to put it through its paces, just like any other story idea.

Re:[4] Round 9: A big stick

The Atmospherist it is, as proxy. If you'd like to take a stab at combining them, I'd be open to it--maybe a different tack would help.

This round has raised interesting issues--one of which I'll voice here, although I will preface it by saying that I'm not suggesting we change anything--I think we should slog through the heat. But, I'm thinking this: the true issue is not one story vs. another, but a story vs. itself. Or, two views of one story that need to be reconciled.

So, when we have rounds between two stories going more in depth, it seems that we ended up butting heads on a few issues, any one of which could have been dealt with individually and not in relation to the story it's up against. The later rounds felt like we were arguing on multiple fronts, so the relationship between the two stories is kind of superfluous, save for their ability to skinny down the list. Maybe, as I've suggested, this point will be moot when we get into more interesting material, but I think this might be a point worth considering if we get bogged down much more. Focusing on one story at a time might help that.

But, we've got some great ideas coming up. Round 10 coming up soon.

Re:[3] Round 9: A big stick

But, if I had to vote for one of the two, I would say that I, Burley Grymz, vote for The Atheist.

Naturally -- I'd vote for Atmosphere.

The Atmospherist it is, unless you have another idea.

(I was thinking earlier, "Too bad we can't combine them". But of course, you can combine anything. It might not be pretty, it might not make sense, but yes, you can combine them.)

Re:[2] Round 9: A big stick

I say we move forward a proxy:

The Atmospherist
In a world where autistic youth believe they are not living on earth, one religion proves itself useless when the methane atmosphere changes into scientists. Also known as My Blog with Andre.

But, if I had to vote for one of the two, I would say that I, Burley Grymz, vote for The Atheist.

Re: Round 9: A big stick

Both ideas get canned.

Generally, I'm not against the Gordian Knot rule. However, there is one problem: I'm incredibly anal-retentive it really screws up the competitive order of the Spitball! Tourney. I'd really feel better if something moved forward, even if we know it's gonna get canned in the next round.

You know, let's rise to vote and see where we stand. That could solve this thing with one fell swoop. If you had to choose one to move forward, which one would it be?

Oh, and:

I think that this [tabling procedures] might be interesting for the needlessly complex® rules futures

I'll start working on that, since we should have that in place.

Round 9: A big stick

c) Start writing a post on tabling procedures?

I think that this might be interesting for the needlessly complex® rules futures, but I don't think it's actually needed in this round. I propose instead something radical:

Both ideas get canned.

I'm not really feeling the love for either of these that strongly, and it seems that the things that interest and pull me in are nearly opposite of the things that interest you and pull you in. I'm taking our disagreements over these ideas as a sign that the ideas weren't that strong to begin with.

It's like our friends who have an organic subscription farm (brief plug: fresh veggies, delivered each week nearby your home? Great prices, and great people? If you're in Seattle, you could do much worse). In talking about farming with them, they said that a field that has sat fallow for many years is amazing to grow in. You have no problems with pests, and everything just goes well. Compare that with a field that has been planted where the soil is robbed of nutrition, and there are tons of problems with pests and the plants don't grown nearly as well. I think we're sitting in weak soil with these stories. I think we need a storyectomy. When we're in more fertile soil I'll bet we encounter none of the problems we're currently having. What say you?

Round 9.13 [The Atheist v. Atmosphere]

a. How do you end it? You can't kill the mitochondria, who--over billions of years--have formed a complex relationship with the human hosts. What's the end game? Is it just acceptance of the situation? Is that a dramatic enough story arc? Do the humans escape the Earth? Can they live without the tiny species?

Well, to be fair, I didn't get a chance to end it. To be more fair, I wasn't even sure myself (although I have an inkling), but I thought I'd get through it one way or another in the second post.

b. How do you visually represent the relationship with the tiny consciousness? Some might argue that this is what the Blob was doing in metaphor (actually, I may be the first person to suggest that, but I kind of am suggesting that), but I am thinking that this would be a big hurdle in the making of this movie. There can be tricks or representing the microscopic beings as a human that nobody else can see, but this would be a hurdle towards making this a reality.

Round 9.12 [The Atheist v. Atmosphere]

I'm back! After catching the flu and being laid up for over a week, I've finally regained enough presence of mind to make at least as little sense as I normally do. So, without further adieu, and to propel things forward, here is my response to the Shockah's last post on the screenplay.

I have two areas of response to your post on the Atheist

91 Word Update

Sorry 'bout the lack of updates, folks -- Shockah's been busy with RL stuff, and Burley... poor Burley's got the 'flu. And not that boogie woogie 'flu you might have heard about, but the other kind. So take a few moments to wish Tha Grymz a speedy recovery.

And while you're at it... Burley's one year older today. You know what that means folks -- it's paddle time! Give his buns a thwacking on the forum -- he'll thank you later. Or kill me. One or t'other.