Proof that reading Hunter Thompson causes insanity

Walking home from Food City earlier tonight and needing to go to the bathroom really badly, I began singing Simple Minds' "Don't You Forget About Me" which had been playing in the store, out loud, but substituting lyrics like "....donnnnn't you....forget to go your bladder busts....and you scream in pain...."

The woman walking in front of me kept picking up the pace, but in my urge to go so did I, and she probably walked in her front door crying to her husband about the psychotic pervert who wanted to kidnap her for water sports. 


The end of the world is nigh

Dead fish washing up in Maryland, dead birds falling out of the sky in the midwest and Italy, Stan Lee gets a star on the Walk of Fame after spending the last 50 years taking credit for work done by Jack Kirby.....I don't know about you, but I'm not making any plans beyond December 21st 2012.

By the way, Stan getting credit for creating the Silver Surfer is so horribly incorrect that if I wasn't laying in my deathbed I'd get up and go on a killing spree.


Building blocks

Last week somebody was talking about some obscure topic, which for the life of me I can't remember at the moment, but it was something I happened to have read about and threw a random fact out about it. The other person was surprised, and commented on me seeming to know something about everything.

In thinking about it after the fact, I had one of those recollections of childhood that hadn't been thought about in years, and how it's pretty much shaped my desire to read everything. In junior high school, for reasons now completely forgotten, a class I was in wound up doing some trivia thing, and the class was divided into boys versus girls. The last question came down to me, and if I answered it right we'd win; the question was something to the effect of "Who was Laguardia airport named after?". I was 11, and had no idea, which means we wound up losing and I bore the brunt of the guys' wrath for not knowing the answer. 

On some subconscious level, I think I decided that day that I'd never be put in that spot again. 


A blue city in a red state

That's the way somebody described Austin to me, and it wasn't far off the mark. 

So many good things happened during my three day visit to the Austin Film Festival last week that it's essentially impossible (and stupid) to try documenting them all here, primarily because most people wouldn't really care how cool I found it to be sitting at a table with Franklin Leonard, the creator of Hollywood's Black List.

Hell, most people are probably wondering what the hell that is. 

Anyway, a quick recap of some good stuff:

  • Michael Arndt (writer of Toy Story 3 and Little Miss Sunshine) blew my brain into tiny li'l pieces with his Sunday seminar breaking down story points in The Graduate, Star Wars, and Little Miss Sunshine. We're talking sending me out of the room re-evaluating the way I think about story kind of mind-blowing here. 
  • Hearing more than one (six, actually) different producers/execs say essentially the same thing: "Yeah we don't like seeing camera angle stuff in scripts, but overall, if it's a really well told story, and we can tell in the first few pages, all the other stuff about CAPS, CONT'D, etc are just fluff. Can the writer tell a story and hook me/us in? That's what we're looking for". I love you all.
  • The 90-second pitchfest finale Saturday night at Aces. My new pal Troy's wife got to the final round, pitching their script in ninety seconds or less to  panel of producers, including Barry Josephson, Mark Vahradian and Maggie Biggar. That sent me out trying to figure out how to do the same thing, and debating if I should try it next year.
  • Finding Bikini's sports bar a block from the Driskill Hotel. Dozens of flat panel televisions, great burgers and waffle fries, and waitresses serving food in bikinis. Yes, I went twice. 
  • Austin itself. Saturday the 23rd was apparently El Dia del los Muertos, which explained all the people with faces painted to look like skulls. By the time I went to get my car from the lot on Brazos Street after attending the Shane Black party, Sixth Street looked like Mardi Gras, closed to vehicular traffic with hundreds of drunken loons in the street wandering around looking for cabs. 

That's all in addition to my new friends met over the course of three days, and all the people who will be hearing from me for representation (except you, Greg DePaul, you're my new lawyer!). 


Goodbye, AT&T

So after attending the New York Rangers home opener Friday night, and then going back again last night and having no service for almost the entire game (two and a half hours), I've decided enough is enough. My contract is up in January, and I'm saying farewell to the iPhone (for now) and AT&T and going to Verizon.

I figured I'd send one last email to my old pal, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson to let him know, even though they apparently threaten cease and desist orders to people contacting him now. 

Too bad. Here's my farewell to AT&T:

Mr. Stephenson,

Just to give a quick re-introduction of who I am (and in case you're thinking "this name sounds familiar to me"), I emailed you back in December 2009 to let you know about the problems I've had over the last thirteen years of my mobile marriage to AT&T (not including the break when your mobile division spun off to Cingular), most recently involving the lack of service at my office in midtown Manhattan.

At the time, someone from your office named Kim Scott became my point of contact, and after it was determined that the reason for the issues in the buildings on Park Avenue at the 53rd-54th Street intersection, by one of your senior engineers, was the lack of towers in the area. Ms. Scott then went on, in great detail, to read from a script and explain that this was not considered an AT&T issue and as such there would be no further steps taken.

Okay. Sure, I can see that. Lack of towers owned by your company unable to service an area is certainly not AT&T's fault, and shame on me for even thinking that your company should bear any responsibility for the fact that you can't provide service to areas of a major metropolitan area like New York.

Anyway. The reason for this email is to let you know that after my experience last night, I can't wait for January. Why? Because that's when my contract is up, and, much as I would like to purchase an iPhone 4, the fact that I spent three hours watching a hockey game at Madison Square Garden last night and wound up using my friend's Verizon Droid to check my voicemail has convinced me, finally, that your service still sucks and is not going to improve.

So, the long and short of it is, I'm breaking up with you. And it's not me, it's you.

It is a disgrace for me to continue paying you $200 a month for service that works intermittently. My wife was also with me at the game, and her 3GS phone, although showing full service, was unable to make a call, send or receive texts/emails, and she missed two calls informing her of client reschedules for today. The highlight, though, was the inability to use the AT&T 'Mark the Spot' app, because, as it delighted in telling me, there was no service.

Keep in mind, I'm not writing this as an escalation for support. I'm not looking for someone in your office to troubleshoot or call me or investigate the cause of this latest issue.

I don't want anything from you. I don't want calls from anyone offering to look into this. It's fairly well established by this point that your service is garbage throughout most of NYC, and for whatever reason it hasn't improved in the last year. So instead of burning $200 every month for service that works occasionally, I'm simply writing this to say good-bye, effective January 2011.

Congratulations on offering such poor service and customer support; you've finally driven me off.

Oh, and if you're thinking of sending me a nastygram 'cease and desist' voicemail/email, save your typing. I don't intend on contacting you again...although it says quite a bit about your company that you react that way to customers with legit complaints. I guess attempts at bullying customers is easier than fixing your network.