The producers of Kinzai Ninjas, a new animated web series.
Hanging with a friend today and the topic of the pope's balls came up.
Not exactly clear on how they came up -- something about the priest
costume with the boy strappes around the waist.
That's when he drops the bomb. He says that because there was a woman
pope back in the day, now every pope has to put his balls through a hole
and the cardinals fondle the prospective pontiff's wrinkly sack.
I called bullshit. I know there are still some weid practices that
surround the papacy, but come on, the cardinals getting to third base
with the future leader of the church?
Turns out it's sorta true. I'm moblogging right now, but google this:
Learn something new every day.
I've been going to the Sunset In-N-Out burger every day for the past couple of weeks. You could say I'm in a food rut.
4x4 (four beef patties, four slices of cheese), Animal style (extra special sauce, grilled onions, mustard grilled patties), no lettuce, no tomato.
Large diet coke with a little Root Beer.
At the In-N-Out on Sunset the fastest way to get your burger is to do the drive through. That's because the parking lot is tiny and if they don't give priority to the Drive Through then there would be a major traffic problem. They even send out an employee into the parking lot to take your order before you get even close to the little speaker.
Like I said I've been going to In-N-Out a lot recently. I've started to recognize the employees, and tonight they officially recognized me.
The order takers in the parking lot hate me since the little remote control computer makes it really hard to enter the diet with a little rootbeer.
When I pulled up tonight, they guy says to me right off "The Rootbeer and diet right?"
I felt sorta proud and sorta like I'm an alcoholic who's hit rock bottom.
The strange this is for all of this horrible fast food, I'm losing weight. Who knew.
Watching Veronica Mars right now. Decided to see what the hype is about.
Eh. It's okay, not my cup of tea. Lost is still more enticing.
And about Lost, great DVD extras. The way every TV and movie should do it. You could tell they had a camera guy there all the time. Much more honest and interesting than the typically kiss, kiss, everyone is beautiful sort of thing.
The other thing about Lost is look at all of the Flashback locations. It's sort of funny to look at these places that are supposed to be boring and average and typically American but you can totally tell they were shot in Hawaii. Usually it's the other way around, you make a crappy and boring place look exotic. Here they tried to de-paradise it, but it still creeps out around the edges.
Since I'm Sending my old phone back to whence it came, I'm going through and deleting the old voice memos I've recorded as inspirations and brainstorms.
A few highlights:
I goof on a bad sculpture in the OC with my buddy Ryan.
Click Here To Download
How many of you guys still watch TV in the standard way from the 90s?
Namely you watch a show as it's broadcast on whatever channel you
The big story in Hollywood the last few years is that young guys just
aren't watching TV anymore. And then this summer came the decline in
movie theatre attendance.
Where are we going?
I can only speak for me. Most Television doesn't appeal to me. There is an occasional show that gets me curious enough to want to tune in, but I'm not a cable subscriber and I only kinda get the broadcast channels. I remember in college sitting there bemoaning the fact that we had to pay for 70 channels of crap, when there were only 3 or 4 channels I wanted to watch.
The last few years I would rent or buy DVDs of the shows I'd hear about. The Sopranos, Strangers with Candy, The Ben Stiller Show, etc.
These last few weeks I'd been hearing more and more about torrents and downloading TV shows. And what a revelation. Now I can watch the Daily Show, the Colbert Report, Family Guy, Extras, Lost in crystal clear XVID and MP4.
But the thing is that watching it there doesn't count. If there was an RVB-style of sponsorship for the Daily Show where I could pay $20/year to get a high quality download of the show every day I'd be all over it. But there isn't, the networks would rather rely on the meager fees that they receive from your local cable provider.
The way it works is that the fees you pay to your local provider get divvied up to the various cable channels. The more popular the channel the bigger percentage they can demand from the locals. But you're not paying more than a dollar or two per basic channel.
I'd much rather pay the buck to Comedy Central and just get their programming than pay the $20-50 and get the wall of crap.
And my movie going is comparable. I mostly watch DVDs that I rent. If there's a movie I need to right away I'll go to the theatre, but so many of the movies are just pure crap why even bother?
So I'm asking how many people still watch TV without the aid of TiVo or the net, and how many still go to the theater on a regular basis.
Why does the US cell phone industrial complex suck so hard?
I read about Israel and Finland and Asia and how enlightened they are and how bleeding edge their cell-fu is compared to our barely adequate networks here.
And the customer support is a joke.
My cell phone, which was supposed to be the sexiest new phone from Verizon when I bought it last August, soon looked anemic next to the RAZR. But the RAZR wasn't available on Verzion which is CDMA.
Also my phoen had Bluetooth. Which mena I could use my laptop to connect and sync up numbers wirelessly. Except of course Verizon disabled that feature because it wants you to pony up for what ever lame service they can charge you to move pix and mp3s, etc.
So I was sitting with a phone that I had to have because it had an external memory slot, a megapixel camera, could play MP3s, and had bluetooth. But of course being a power user, I used none of those features.
Well I tried. But the camera takes pictures like it has it's lens cap on, dark, graininess is the only picture it will take. I never bought an external memory card because the camera sucked so hard and I spent so much money on buying the phone I didn't have much of an accessory budget. Bluetooth has been discussed (I coulda bought one of those creepy headsets, but again no money and did I really want to become one of those people).
But it worked rather well as a phone. Until Thursday. When it just died. I took it into Verizon. They hooked it to a charger and put a new battery in, but they agreed that it was dead. Wonderbar. I was expecting a new phone on the spot, but they said to call the insurance and they'll ship a new phone the next day.
So I called them. And they said that since the phone didn't actually get broken or stolen it wasn't their deal. What!?! Why was I paying them $5/month?
I called Verizon and a very helpful operator called back the insurance company and got the local tech to call and corroborate my story. Great. Wonderful. Gimme my new phone.
They said it was in the mail, and would be here by Monday, today.
So I get the phone, and I buy a $40 cable to get the numbers off my old phone (which rose from the dead) and sync them to my computer and my new phone. A cable that should have been unnecessary if Bluetooth wasn't crippleware.
Then the new phone won't activate. And the phone help can't help and the web interface doesn't work and I have to mkae my third trip to the store. They uncermoniously activate it and I grab a burrito at Baja Fresh.
I guess the best thing about the whole situation was a vacay from my phone. I watched all of Lost and got some writing done. It was good.
Total money spent: $90 -- $50 deductible, $40 for the data cable
Total time spent on phone: 2 hours
Total days without a phone: 5
Okay. I get it.
JJ is a genius.
But the reason why I haven't gotten into it until now is that I felt abused by last Season of Alias. When it was such a letdown I decided not to watch Lost.
But now there's such momentum behind it, and JJ does so well in the first few seasons I swallowed the pill and am watching the first season on DVD.
But I'm watching it with the spoilers intact -- I've got all the fansites and wikipedia open and I research all the twists and turns as they happen.
I haven't dug into Season two yet, and I don't know if I'll be able to handle the suspense of not knowing during the new episodes.
And I also dread the third and fourth seasons. Will it just be another JJ fumble?
I guess that's not fair -- a season of 42 minute shows is like 1000 minutes or about 11 feature length movies. How many films can hold your interest for the whole thing?
So I'm enjoying the ride that is Lost right now, and I hope it stays fun for a while.
The weird thing about pets is that they are replaceable. Interchangable cogs of the family. I guess people will have another child if they lose one, but it's never like getting a new guiney pig or dog.
My parents got a new kitten -- which I named Jinx (because I believe despite its cuteness it caused the Angels to lose the ALCS).
I didn't think they'd get a new cat to replace Roxy. The usual pattern of cat acquisition is my sister would get a kitten and then it would grow into a cat and she would move away leaving it in the care of my parents.
She doesn't live there anymore, so there wasn't any obvious pathway for a new cat to enter their house.
But somehow my dad found out about free kittens and the deal was done. They got her on Friday.
When I came into their family room I was confronted with what I thought was a crib bought from Petco or something, but in fact it was an upsidedown card table with Gladwrap wrapped around the legs. My sister improvised it while cat sitting over the weekend.
It's a good cat that sleeps a lot in your lap, is potty trained, and likes exploring the innerworkings of easy chairs.
It's a cool new addition.
Roxy was a great cat, everything I look for in a feline companion. She liked to be petted, she was a brutal and effective hunter. She drooled. Not some polite little spittle, this was a copious and unceasing flow of drool coming from her core.
I'm sitting at my parents computer, the place where she would approach me -- especially when I was wearing a black outfit. She's come over and sit while I'd web surf or blog, begging to be petted and loved. My parents other pet, an unstoppable Maltese named Daisy had long since usurped Roxy as the pet of choice.
Daisy got walks and table scraps and toys and attention. Roxy got food and a warm place to sleep. What attention Roxy did receive Daisy would jealously work to regain the spotlight.
The end has been near for a while. She was diagnosed with Feline Leukemia a year or two ago. You could see she was wasting away, even though she'd scarf down this expensive wet food known only to me as Packet. "She loves the Packet." my mom would say.
When I got back from San Jose last night, Mom braced me for the endgame. She said that Roxy was very tired and thought that the end was near.
This morning Dad put Roxy into a cardboard PetCo carrier along with an old green towel that has been in the family for years.
By the time he got to the vet she was gone.
Dad was choked up when he told me. And I'm a little weepy now as I write this. I guess it was seeing that towel, her final shedding in the box. And writing this here in the chair where she used to visit me.
Good bye Roxy, where ever you are. You were a good kitty.
There's an old joke about visiting my cousin.
The first question my mom will ask is, "Are they putting you to work?"
You can't stay here without pitching in. There's the story of a foreign
exchange student who on his first night was awoken at 2am to go the
orchard to cover the trees to protect them from the frost.
His parents called the next day and he told them that his host family
was making him work the fields.
This morning we husked walnuts and then went out to collect more. Each
walnut has a green fruit around it that has to be cut away or husked.
You use a curved knife and husk away.
To get the nuts off the tree I used a long pole with a hook and pulled
and shook the limbs and nuts until they fell off.
We worked for a few hours. Slow, methodical. Nice conversation.
I'm at my cousin's house 15 minutes south of San Jose for the RVB
She lives on a few acres in a very agricultural part of the county.
They grow wine grapes, and apricots, and have a patch of bamboo.
I've been coming here for almost 20 years. The thing that struck me
last night was the complete and total darkness that enveloped me when I
went to bed.
I could've been in a cave somewhere in a navy sleep experiment and it
wouldn't have been any darker.
And then this morning I was struck by how quiet it is out here. A small
plane just flew over and its quiet buzz was the only sound. Now that
it's gone, there is nothing.
This is a great palate cleanser. A recalibration. Like visiting a
monastary and taking the vow of silence or working a week for habitat
(I'm a little mad at myself for claiming such easy absolution -- I mean
I just spent one night at a relatives house. There was no serious
spiritual work done, no homes built. But maybe I judge myself to
harshly. When I came in last night I had a two hour conversation with
my cousin, my confessor, my high priestess of the farm.)
I missed Gus and Kath last night, they pooped out early. We'll see how
We're at the height of screening season here in LA. This is the time
when 'Award Winning Films' hold free screenings for people in the
But thing is that there are so many of them you can lose track. I asked
my friend who invited me what film was showing. He didn't know. I
asked again when he called to confirm, and got the same reply.
I got here before he did, and he called to ask if I went to the place
where we went to a screening last month because there was a big crowd
And it's not like I can ask someone. 'Excuse me, what movie are we in
line to see?' That's so unLA.
This should be a decent show -- there are two tall director's chairs at
the front of the auditorium. That means significant people will speak.
The cinematographer, the director, or the star will deign to talk to us
little people after the show.
And we'll eat it up. This town loves movies and we love our asses
kissed. This is part of the tradition of trying to win votes for their
Now watch this is going to be a sneak peak at Waiting or Dumb and Dumber
I'll let you know what the film is and if its any good.
Really well made. I liked it a lot, but I couldn't get past seeing Phillip Seymour Hoffman as anything other than himself doing a funny voice.
And I came away often feeling much more sympathy for the people who did despicable and brutal violence than I did for Capote. But I think that was by design. Capote was a true sociopath where the world was only there for his amusement.
After the film the director of Photography Andy Kimmel spoke. He's the guy who shot all of those HP picture frame commercials. It was really cool listening to him dissect the imagery and visual style. It inspired me to really go back and reread the Kinzai scripts several times and just make furious visual notes.
It also made me want to rent the movie based on In Cold Blood with the same title and read the book.
In LA there have been a lot of wildfires and what they call Santa Ana winds.
I've been on Vampire mode again, which means up until dawn and sleep until noonish.
We're at a critical junction in Kinzai Ninjas on the business side. Keeping the momentum moving forward and going into places that are out of my comfort zone.
Fishbone has been great. I'm really happy with what they're doing. We should be able to start working with their songs soon. Which will be very cool.
I'm making a lot of calls and sending a lot of emails, keeping old friends enthusiastic about the project and enlisting new people to come on board.
That's a huge part of what filmmaking actually is -- selling your vision and your enthusiasm for that vision to other people.
You guys have been great. Really helping me refocus my efforts and work on getting this stuff out there. I look at Jeskid and Burnie and the guys and I can't help but be inspired.
Went back to Dre's to work with Fishbone.
Tonight's vibe was totally different. All business, er well, that sounds so staid. But they were recording vocals. I came in at their lunch -- Popeye's chicken. Fist bumped the lot of them.
I settled into a chair and then Norwood and Angelo went off to the mic booth to talk about the lyrics.
Very cool. Abstract and fun. I tried to just stay out of the way -- I didn't want to step on their toes. After a while I was comfortable enough to throw out an idea or two. They were gracious and enthusiastic.
I showed them a episode 1 and 2 of RvB. They really dug it.
The thing that was most interesting to me was watching Angelo and Norwood work together. Here are two guys that have been making music together for almost 30 years. It was great to watch such a collaboration. The give and take and respect and short hand.
I wonder who I'll still be working with in 30 years.
I tried to take a pic, but it was too dark for my sidekick.
Also talking about music is taking me a little out of my comfort zone. I mean I was in Jr. High Jazz band (Go Tuffree Falcons), but I'm more of the visual, big picture guy. Talking to bonofide musical geniuses is a little daunting. I end up using my hands a lot and grunting. A lot of grunting.
We talked about the show a lot and our goals for what the song and trailer should accomplish and I think that was very productive.
We head back in tomorrow to finish off the two songs.
Drove over to Dre's house to listen to what the guys have been working on.
I heard two really cool tracks, one of which will be our theme song.
Norwood showed me some ideas for lyrics and said that Angelo was working on some too.
Norwood and I bonded over our Sidekicks. Very techie dude. We geekd out a bit, I told him about the blog and how I moblog all the time. I didn't want to take his picture and push it. Maybe tomorrow.
We had some fun conversation about cars and women. Dre's neighborhood has a lot of really old Palm trees. They look like they've been there since the 20's.
Tomorrow they'll be laying down the vocals and fixing up the final tracks.
I've been futzing around with the settings here.
I added a live feed of my Del.icio.us links. I'll use that area as a sort of microblog of things I find interesting and then continue to use the main blog as a production journal.
Also I modified the main RSS feed so it isn't the full story. Now you have to click on the link to read more. Is that better or worse. Gimme feedback.
I got my geek on today and went to check out the Grand Challenge
National Qualifying Event.
You can check it out at http://grandchallenge.org.
Basically it's a huge competition sponsored by DARPA, the people who
invented and funded the internet back in the day.
I don't know what else you can say about an organization after that.
It's like the Orson Welles of government agencies -- doing their best
work early and never quite able to escape the achievement of their
The Grand Challenge has $2 million up for grabs for any team that can
design a vehicle that can navigate a 150 mile desert off road course
autonmously without any driver or human assistance.
We get to the California Speedway in Fontana, the crown jewel of the
inland empire, around 4 pm. If you've never been to a Nascar track,
it's huge. The competition is being held in the infield of the 2.5 mile
The parking lot is pretty empty. We park and just start walking. We a
few people and figure out where we're supposed to go. A beat up old
1970s suburban driving through cones slowly.
We head up the bleachers and watch the slow progress. It drives through
all the cones and goes through the fake tunnel and around the hay bales
and then is out of sight for like 10 minutes.
It finishes successfully.
The next up is a little six wheel golf cart. It looks like this little
thing won't have a chance. It comes out of the gate and goes twice as
fast as the suburban. And just as accurate. Kick ass.
Next is a grand cherokee. It missed every set of cones and practically
runs into the stands.
We left after that. It wasn't very spectator friendly. We were one of
the few people that weren't on a team or related to someone who was.
It was worth it. I felt like I was watching the future, or at least
I want a six wheel golf cart that can drive me around. That would be