Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Things Hollywood Should Get Right, but Doesn’t

It's no secret that Hollywood films and television shows get a lot of facts wrong. Every film-going or TV-watching professional in the world has likely seen his or her profession represented on the screen and winced at something that just doesn't "happen that way."

Usually, writers, directors, and producers try to claim that facts are fudged or sacrificed in the name of "good drama." However, there are just as many writers, directors, and producers who claim that reality is good drama, putting those other lazy, less-talented-than-they-should-be filmmakers to shame.

Regardless, there are several things that are rampant in film and television that said filmmakers almost always get wrong, and with no reason for it. If you can honestly tell me that the following mistakes add to the drama, then I'll shut up... but you won't be able to.

1. Smokers don't normally "whoosh" their exhales. Maybe once in a while, but not every time Diane Lane or someone else lights up. Smokers also inhale their smoke. If a part requires smoking, teach the ass how to smoke.

2. Sergeants Major in the Army and Marine Corps are never referred to as just "Sergeant." And actors playing Colonels referring to Sergeants Major as "Sergeant" should know better.

3. I mentioned this a few entries ago, but the term "soldier" refers to one branch of the military: the Army. So the next time The Rock plays a Marine Sergeant, he shouldn't be calling his men "soldiers."

4. The disconnected signal on a telephone takes a protracted amount of time to occur. It doesn't happen right away, even if someone is trying to break into your house.

5. Casting obvious bimbos like Tara Reid and Denise Richards as scientists convinces nobody in the audience and results in chuckles every time one of them tries to pronounce "DNA" or "nuclear."

6. When firing a gun, most people, if not all, aim with the eye that's on the same side of the hand they're holding the trigger with. That's certainly how it's taught.

7. No matter how good lip-syncing is done, it never looks like real singing. That's because singers actually breathe, use their vocal chords, and do other realistic things that actors should learn before they try to "fake real life."

8. A proper American hand-salute would be nice from time to time.

9. The current fashion to use "hand-held camera" for everything, because filmmakers claim that it makes the audience "feel like they're really there." Um, no... at best, it makes the audience feel more like they're watching a documentary. I don't recall the world ever bouncing up and down so fast whenever I sprinted short distances.

10. Clint Eastwood should be President. Have a nice day.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sitting Down

My ass hurts. My legs hurt. My lower back hurts. Hell, even my elbows hurt. And, no, it's not from every guy's dream of too much sex.

It's from sitting down all fucking day, every day, for the last two weeks.

You see, while I'm home I either watch TV or fiddle around on this piece-of-junk computer. While I'm work I'm either sitting in my truck, driving around, or sitting in a sound booth doing crap. Sure, there are those occasional breaks of standing Foley work and the PA run-around-all-day jobs, but it's been a while since I've had a PA position.

Okay, so I can play with my dogs, right? Well, given their slow decline back into being feral, that becomes a health-risk unto itself, and never lasts long. Combined with the fact that I no longer live near open desert or out-of-the-way canyons, I can't even hike with them anymore.

So what do I do? Well, like I said, TV and computer. Which means I do absolutely nothing productive. Oh, sure, I write, but I haven't been able to type anything significant as of late, and the imagination has been reeling... probably due to a combination of sitting all day, bad diet, complete lack of exercise, and smoking a pack of cigarettes every day. By the way, the previous blog was an attempt at "character-building" for a story that clearly went awry. But, hey, at least now I'm trying.

I'm just sick of sitting down.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The One Who Wasn’t There

Only one person in her entire life had ever told her that he knew who she really was with any conviction. Sure, her parents had said that very thing to her, but like the man in question, they, too, were wrong.

Her life, like many, was guided almost solely by her dreams. But her dreams changed. Every night, in fact. The similarities they often retained were still filled with subtle differences. Subtle changes, as if her dreams were the starry nights themselves. So how, with any conviction, could anyone possibly know her?

Where she lived has changed over the years. Over and over. Yet, in a manner as ironic as it is apt, only once has she consciously and deliberately picked the place she would make her home. The others, chosen for her. Worse, the one place she did choose quickly revealed itself as a mistake.

She had a plan in life, to be sure. And while her dreams have always remained, she knows now that she must ignore them. Failure has followed her for too long. Failure, following a person, following dreams. Perhaps failure is following the dreams, and not the person, who is merely in the way. For that, she can only hope.

Taking a deep breath, she glances one last time at the perceived light at the end of the tunnel. Closing her eyes, she turns around, and steps back into the neverending darkness from which she came.

Her dreams won't mind, for she will revisit them each and every night until she dies. Her dreams won't mind. After all, she was never even there. How could anyone have possibly known her?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Musicians You Should Be Listening To, but Probably Aren’t

Oh, yes, believe it or not, there is great music that isn't permeating your Top 40 stations. In fact (well, in opinion), there is music far better than what you hear on your Top 40 stations. Top 40, as we all know, but may not admit, is full of crap that is so heavily market-oriented, pretty much everyone without an individual thought in their mind buys in to it.

Oh, yes, I'm talking about you emo, hip-hop, post-alternative rock-listening yahoos.

Now that I'm done insulting you, I humbly suggest you check out the following bands/artists:

Guster. Yep, that's right, I'm touting the band who is currently selected as my "MySpace song." And, yep, I'm touting a post-alternative band. Hailing from Boston, they sound nothing like Aerosmith, and that's probably a good thing as Aerosmith has done little noteworthy since, oh, Reagan.

Minnie Driver. Yes, THAT Minnie Driver. Impressively adept at American Folk, her fantastic lyrics, sometimes haunting voice (I know, I can't believe it either), and her English flair bring a refreshing atmosphere to the genre.

Greg Laswell. I've talked about him before. Listen to him. He's fantastic. While a little depressive, he's not nearly the narrow-trick that the sometimes great, sometiems not, Alexi Murdoch is, and he lacks the quickly-mundane monotony of Peter Bradley Adams (who should reform eastmountainsouth, by the way). His suprising cover of "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" is one of the recent WTFs (in a good way) to embrace music in recent years.

Brandi Carlile. Hmm... how to explain her? Okay, take Sarah McLachlan (who is undeniably on her game), but remove the self-indulgence, and add more of a traditional-rock flair and a tad of country-western. Fantastic stuff.

There are more, of course, but I'm getting ready to watch a Chargers game. I'm always on the lookout for new music, so if you have any suggestions, feel free to post them.

Vote Clint Eastwood, whose musical tastes I have no clue about.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Bad Drivers II: What Would Jesus Do?

We've all seen them... those cars with those Jesus fish on the back. Yes, some swear by them, some make fun of them, but I'm just here to answer the WWJD question. Well, sort of...

Here's what he wouldn't do:

Drive slowly in the passing/fast lane so others have to pass dangerously on the left.

Change lanes or slow for a turn without using a signal.

Speed up to match your passing speed just to be ignorantly annoying.

Ride your bumper.

Brake before using a turn signal.

Talk on a cell phone while driving.

Blast loud, obnoxious music.

Toss a cigarette butt out the sunroof so it hits the following motorist's windshield.

Attempt to beat a yellow light by shifting to the left lane and speeding up, then deciding against it and slamming on the brakes, only to realize a right turn was required and attempting to back up against oncoming traffic so as to get around the car that was passed for the attempt to beat the yellow light, and then fucking up traffic by having to wait for the right lane to clear because your dumb ass actually wanted to make a right turn.

The moral of the story: Jeff 1:1 - If you're going to be a hypocrite, don't advertise it.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pointless Musings Beginning with "S"

Let's see... things I've noticed and things that have happened recently beginning with the letter "S." Hmm... don't know why I feel compelled to write about this, but it probably has something to do with a recent discussion of Sesame Street.

A squirrel came up to me and my cat the other day. Brushed against us through the window screen. Ironically, my cat's name is Sagremor.

There's a Sunset Beach in North Carolina. Now, while I haven't physically seen how the beach is laid out (perhaps there's an inlet that faces West or some such feature), I wonder why the city isn't called "Sunrise Beach." It is, after all, on the East Coast.

I love strawberries; hate strawberry flavoring. Conversely, I hate cherries; love cherry flavoring.

Sugarfree gum gives me a headache. Not sure why.

If you're making a short film or an independent feature, consider hiring the sound guys from NorthStar Post & Sound in Wilmington, North Carolina. Especially if you need Foley or ADR work. Do it.

The term "soldier" refers to those in the Army. Sailors, Marines, and Airmen do not refer to themselves or each other as soldiers. So fucking stop it.

You all suck. Vote for Clint Eastwood. A SAG member.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Screwing Up the Middle East

There is little doubt in anyone's mind that our current administration is screwing up overall relations with the nations of the Middle East. We are, after all, engaged in two wars there (one popularly supported, one not), are threatening another, and pretending to ignore the calls of several other regional states to mind our own business.

There is also little doubt that these operations are less the result of "spreading freedom" than they are of spreading American capitalism. Of course, while I don't necessarily disagree with the idea of spreading American capitalism (hey, I'm a capitalist), I do disagree with the idea of trying to do it under false pretense.

All of the problems and issues implied above can easily be blamed on our so-called "conservatives" in government, a debated fact our so-called "liberals" in government do not hesitate to point out during the current campaign season. But do the liberals have the answer to the problems in/with the Middle East? Hardly. In fact, I'd say they could only make matters worse.

Now, before you start labeling me a neo-con asshole, keep in mind that I'm not a huge fan of current foreign policy either... I'm just trying to point out some glaring probabilities that everyone seems to want to ignore.

First, the Democrats (a.k.a. the liberals) want to pull out of Iraq. Dumb idea. Yes, going in was a stupid idea in the first place and should have been done (if at all) immediately after the first Gulf War. But pulling out now? Well, despite trying to tout "save our soldiers," such an action will merely create a power vacuum that will undoubtedly cause short-term chaos in an already chaotic region. And guess what short-term chaos always leads to in that part of the world? That's right, long-term chaos.

Second, in a thinly-veiled attempt to force the Bush administration to pull out of Iraq, the liberals went ahead and declared the Turkish government (one of our main allies over there) as genocidal. For what, you might ask? Well, for actions that occurred nearly a century ago in World War I. Not only that, they were actions committed by Turkey when Turkey was controlled by a completely different government. This would be like China blaming the United States for actions that occurred in America prior to 1776. Fair? Hardly. In fact, it's morally, politically, and futilely stupid. But, hey, the Democrats are trying to make a point.

So I pose this question: is this really the direction we want to go? I would hope you say no, but given the relative uneducated political viewpoints of America en masse, you're probably jumping all over that bandwagon.

With certainty, I can say the Democrats are wrong in how they want to approach the Middle East. With equal certainty, I can say the Republicans are wrong with how they are currently approaching the Middle East. So what do we do?

One option is to leave it all alone. Sure, we can do that, but that only contributes to the aforementioned power vacuum, and for "leaving it alone" to be successful, other world powers such as Russia would have to "leave it alone" as well. Will that happen? Um, no.

Another option is to reopen relations with Iran. Iran, a surprisingly stable government enjoying said stability more or less since they overthrew the US-friendly government back in the late-Carter, early-Reagan days. Yet that appears to not be a possiblity, what with Iran being a member of the "Axis of Evil." Don't get me started on that...

I don't pretend to know the answers, but I do think I know what isn't going to work, and just about everything I've heard or read from both sides of our government isn't going to work. And until we realize that Arab Muslims don't want a government that separates church from state, nothing we come up with is going to work at all.

Until then, we're just going to keep screwing things up.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Where Did the Road Go?

The great escape. That's what the road was to people in generations past. Just themselves, their car, and the road. That black streak that disappeared around the bend, over the next rise, or into the horizon. A perfect quiet, noisy in that way that doesn't bother you... four pieces of rubber on the pavement rolling faster than the eye can see; wind caressing the lines of your ride; the radio blasting your favorite classic rock song.

Sometimes, you'd be the only car in sight. Driving through desert, trees, fields of corn or wheat, or into the night where the moon and your headlights are the only three points of light you see, or notice.

An escape. No problems, save for watching a red needle approaching a malicious "E," or the occasional resistance from an engine that might need a little tuning. But everything else... money, job, school, family... just disappears behind your rear bumper like a hitchhiker you weren't sure you should pick up. It's just you and the road, and things are perfect.

But, look around today. Too many people who shouldn't have licenses have them. Too many people who shouldn't have cars have them. And the road is a place to fear. No longer a calming means of travel, it's been replaced by assholes blasting music too loudly, near-blind or inconsiderate drivers cutting you off, and never-ending construction zones manned by construction workers who don't seem to give a shit. No longer a place to escape to, but one to escape from.

Like life, like dreams... where did the road go?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Off the Wagon... Again

I hate smoking. Seriously. I hate the occasional nicotine-tobacco-tar-induced headaches. I hate the smell it leaves on clothes and furniture. I hate the health risk. I hate the cost. I just hate smoking.

Which is probably why I started again last Monday.

Yeah, that didn't make any sense, and as I'm deliriously tired from an insane month, don't expect any sense from tonight's boredom-inspired writing.

Anyway... so I headed down to Atlanta last Sunday night in order to work on a television show. When I got there, I noticed that I was dangerously low on nicorette, my primary crutch when I attempt to quit. As I chewed my second-to-last piece, I did the respectable, sensible thing.

Yes, I went to the nearest store to buy more gum. No, wait... like a fucking moron, I bummed a cigarette off of my friend Brad. Why? I don't know. Because I'm a fucking moron.

Of course, I can always use the excuse "but all people on set smoke" (see: "but all soldiers smoke" for my military excuse), but the fact of the matter is I just felt like it. Maybe I just felt like it because I usually hate Atlanta (I loved it this time) and needed some edge off, but it's probably just because I'm a fucking moron.

Since Christmas Eve of 2005 I've been a non-smoker for a total of 17 months and even managed to ditch the nicorette during that time, but I can't seem to shake the relapses. Oddly enough, those relapses always seem to occur when I work a reality TV show.

Anyone have any suggestions (other than quit working reality TV shows)? Send them my way ASAP.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Fall 2007 Television Season: a Quick Review

It's here, the new season, and there are some nice surprises lurking about the network primetime slots. Unfortunately, some of those surprises are bad ones.

The stalwarts are back, of course. And those who read this blog know I'm most likely referring to (and I am) shows like Prison Break, House, and Heroes (even though I'm not as impressed with Heroes as many of you are).

And then there's the newbies. Admittedly, I tend to stay away from ABC and CBS, with the exception of Lost and The Unit (a recent addition to my DVR list... it's gotten much, much better since the first season), but I decided to give a couple of new shows a try.

The ABC show I gave a whirl was Cavemen. I couldn't help it. My curiosity overcame my better judgement, and combined with the fact that I'm a fan of those GEICO commercials, I gave it a look... for all of four minutes. Stay the Hell away from this one, people. I'm not joking.

On CBS I decided to look into Moonlight. Good concept, similar to the classic (and ABC's piss-poor remake) Nightstalker, but pretty bad execution. The lead actor has a certain presence about him, but the rest of the cast is horrible. That's H.O.R.R.I.B.L.E. I'll give this one another go this weekend, but if there's no improvement past the pilot, it's off the "To Do" list.

The odd surprise this season is NBC. Now, I won't go into too much detail, but so far, I've added the near-great new shows Life and Journeyman to the list. Both are outstanding. I'm also watching Chuck, and while there's a certain charm to it, I'm still not entirely convinced. Still, I dig Adam Baldwin, so will give this another couple of weeks. Disappointing is the heavily-hyped Bionic Woman remake, helmed (and acted) by some of the Battlestar Galactica types, the show is an utter mess. Between the pilot and the second show there were already plot holes and sudden "characterization" changes. Expected from the BSG crew, the only thing Bionic Woman is convincing me of is that Katee Sackhoff (a decent actress) is utterly incapable of pulling off the "tough chick" role.

On Fox, the only thing I've watched is K-Ville, which despite a dull pilot, improves a little bit each week. At the rate it's going, it'll be a great show by the end of the season, or cancelled (which I'm betting on).

Anyway, I'm still pissed NBC pulled The Black Donnellys earlier this year, so I'm off to find the DVDs.

Vote Eastwood.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The United States Air Force: a Parasite Organization

Before I get started on my well-researched rant, I just want to state that I don't think the men and women of the USAF are jerks, pansies, or parasites. Far from. They are as good as any other member of our armed forces, ready when we need them, willing when we ask them, and able when we send them.

But...

The USAF itself is a large waste of money.

First point: simply analyze our air power in our various armed forces. The Army has the largest "air presence" of any service. The Navy has their own air superiority, airlift, and strike capabilities. The Marine Corps has their own airlift, strike, and close air-support capabilities. The Air Force has all of that, plus strategic air. All this means that the people of the United States are essentially paying for four air forces, each with overlapping and oft-conflicting roles. Um... why? Politics, "tradition," and politics.

Second point: While the Navy and Marine Corps absolutely need their own air support (whether inherent to their services or provided by the air force), so does the Army. So why did the DoD arbitrarily decide that the Department of the Navy get to keep its aviation assets, while the Department of the Army did not? Politics, "tradition," and politics.

Given the current nature of DoD organization and budget, it's clear that the government wants to spend as little as possible on how the military is structured and operated. In a natural progression, DoD should streamline commands, eliminate flag positions, and put asset control in as few pots as possible (notice I wrote asset control, not the assets themselves). Which, obviously, would lead to the Army and Navy controlling their own air support. Well, like I said, the Navy does it, why not the Army?

Simply put, the United States Air Force would run much more efficiently should it "devolve" back into the Army Air Force. Army commanders would have their own air superiority, airlift, and close air support aircraft to use on pertinent missions, instead of having to ask and coordinate with the USAF. I mean, why does the USAF control tactical airlift, anyway? They don't need it for themselves on a large scale. But guess who does? That's right, the Army.

It's also common knowledge that the USAF (the institution, mind you, not its individual pilots) doesn't really care about its legally mandated CAS (close air support) mission. Why? Well, because they don't need it for themselves. But guess who does?

Anyway, this can of worms can be opened much wider, but the bottom line is that the USAF should either assume control of ALL air assets in the DoD (which still leaves the problem of "asking" and coordinating), or should collapse itself back into the Army, with the Air Force's United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) component (formerly known as Strategic Air Command - SAC) shifting entirely to Navy control.

This would cut many middlemen out, streamline top-down command and communications, and allow for closer operational training between the various arms.

I know a whole hell of a lot of people will disagree with me, but can you really give me any advantages that can trump saving money? Other than "tradition" and politics, of course.

Monday, October 1, 2007

San Diego Sports Nightmares

The San Diego Padres lost their last two regular-season games to the Brewers, leaving them in a tie for the Wild Card with rival team Colorado. Jake Peavy has to pitch a tie-breaker. Fucking wonderful.

The San Diego Chargers lost to their first divisional opponent, the Kansas City Chiefs, and are now last place in their division at 1-3. Ain't it grand?

Making Peavy pitch the tie-breaker means Peavy will only pitch once in the Wild Card series. Fucking wonderful.

To make matters worse, the Chargers are in last place BEHIND one of the worst teams in the league: the Oakland Raiders (2-2). Ain't it grand?

Still, the Padres have hope. All they have to do is win the tie-breaker and their season will continue for at least three more games.

The Chargers, however, have officially hit "disappointment." 13-3 is the best they can possibly finish, but with Norv Turner running the show, I doubt the Chargers will even get to 10-6. A friend of mine from Oceanside yelled "Cam Cameron, Cam Cameron" at me earlier this year, but he's 0-4. I guess we should've stuck with Wade Phillips, eh?

On a slightly brighter note, LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for more yards in the loss to the Chiefs than he had in the previous three games combined.

On a slightly dimmer note, Philip Rivers is, as I suggested in my last Chargers blog, looking more and more like a college quarterback. This can be fixed, and could probably be fixed by Norv Turner the Offensive Coordinator, but I'm betting against it being fixed by Norv Turner the Head Coach.

A.J. Smith, what are you going to do?

I'm rambling, I know, but I'm upset. The Chargers couldn't possibly have gotten this bad in one off-season. Still, I've stuck with my team since Dan Fouts-to-Wes Chandler, and nothing's going to change that.

Ah, well... here's hoping the Padres win.

Irreview, Book Review: The Story of Earth

I've been a science nerd for a long, long time.  Physics was probably my favorite science subject in high school (perhaps other than oce...