Tea Time With Jesse

Six of One, Half Dozen the Other

Archive for April, 2010

The Duke City Shootout

Posted by middlerage on April 30, 2010

So there’s a film contest waayyy out West, in Albuquerque NM, known as the Duke City Shootout. A good friend of mine is actually a past winner of this contest. How cool is that?

A brief aside is required to explain the name – Duke is a common enough name to inspire confusion, and might probably make most people think of a tobacco fortune, or maybe a basketball powerhouse.  It turns out that Albuquerque is known as the “Duke City,” in the same way Paris is the City of Light, Prague is the city of 1000 spires, or Peoria is the place where stuff won’t play. I guess(?) “Duke” is in reference to an eponymous dukedom in Spain. [Updated 04-30-2010 to add: “Or Prague, the City of 1000 Spires”].

The Duke City shootout is a film festival that brags about going from script to screen in one week. They supply film crews, cameras, mentoring, and a one week – go for bust – all out – movie rodeo. It is designed to train the next generation of New Mexican film labor (thus promoting NM as a good place to have your big budget, sprawling, Hollywood epic made), and to inspire budding writers who want to compete and get their very own 8 1/2 onto the silver screen (thus promoting NM as a …blah blah blah).

So, inspired by my friend (not because he is a winner, but because he likes to encourage people to be writers – he’s good that way) I decided to try my hand, and submitted a short film screenplay. My very first one. It is called Saint Revenge. Cue ominous music.

It’s not likely to win – winning consists of being one of several scripts chosen to actually make your film. You make it and then there is an end-o-week juried prize, a celebration, a party-o-viewing, awarding of the Palm du Grease, and an awarding of an alternate audience favorite. Or so I understand.

Like I say, it’s not likely to win. I have a peculiar sense of what constitutes a good story, and what seems like Fellini in my mind never seems to impress others. Cue weeping violin music. But I really like the story, and when/if I don’t get a slot, I’ll turn the script into a blog post for all to see.

It turns out that approximately a page of script translates into about a minute of film time. The maximum page limit for the contest is 12. Like I say, it is a short film contest. I squeezed my lemon as hard as I could and managed to poop out 7 pages. Yikes! a seven minute film (fellini’s 7 1/2?). That’s short. Among other things, I think my spare writing is likely to sink me. I am too spare. Too artsy. (Some of my beloved readers are scratching their heads, and thinking, “You subject us to these long, boring blog posts that make my eyes glaze over and you couldn’t get 12 pages?!?!”).

Entering is also problematic. For one thing, they use a general script submitting service that serves different venues with different purposes. So you’re filling out several pages of stuff, that doesn’t always relate to Duke City Shootout. It isn’t until the end that you run into a “So we need $35, what credit card would you like to use?” …Well..my my… It isn’t a stupendous fee, and of course they should charge a fee to keep out the riff-raff, keep out the under 18 crowd, and help cover costs. It’s a perfectly fair and reasonable thing, it’s just – this is the first time I’ve heard of it?!?! I really think that should’ve been on page one, and on the Duke CIty Shootout’s homepage. Just be honest with people – they don’t mind.

Then there was the section to, “Give us a pitch for you screenplay. Be brief. Keep it under 125 words MAX!” Again, I run into the problem with being a spare writer. Hemingway’s a piker when it comes to succinct. I have a fun, weeeell not twist, not surprise, but a cat I don’t want to let out of the bag until they read the whole damn thing. So I wrote a 20 word pitch and moved on, meanwhile asking same friend “how does one write a pitch?” By the time he was able to respond that I had it all wrong – let the damn cat out! I had submitted. No problem, it’s a days and days before the final, for sure, late entries deadline, I’ll just go in and edit my submission. But nope. You can’t. How dumb is that? I’ve been on job application websites that allow me to go back and fine tune my application all the way until midnight of the deadline. Sheeesh.

So here I am, hoping they are very lenient on amateur submissions. But I’m sure they’ve seen it all before…including that sentiment.

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Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

Damn and Damner

Posted by middlerage on April 30, 2010

Words fail me as I read this passage from an MSNBC article on the gulf oil spill.

For days, as an oil spill spread in the Gulf of Mexico, BP assured the government the plume was manageable, not catastrophic. Federal authorities were content to let the company handle the mess while keeping an eye on the operation.But then government scientists realized the leak was five times larger than they had been led to believe, and days of lulling statistics and reassuring words gave way Thursday to an all-hands-on-deck emergency response.

I just…wow…there is so much to say, and yet words fail.

Posted in Climate, Politicks, short ones, Where are the Robots?, wtf | 1 Comment »

Ban the Bicycle

Posted by middlerage on April 27, 2010

[New update 05-11-2010 to add this linked article from CNN.com: Bicyclists and motorists clash.

[Note. Original post is now updated with a photo from a friend. See bottom. It tells the other side of the story.]

Another post related to Earth Day, which has come and gone, but oh well.

I’ve joked/warned before about how readers shouldn’t come here if they are likely to get offended, but I think most of my readers probably tend towards the same side of the fence as I do. This blog is no stranger to the word  fuck, and while I try to post a lot about global warming, I reckon I am mostly preaching to the choir.

This, however, is the first post where I imagine I am really approaching – maybe crossing – a certain line of offensiveness. The thing is… this time I may be offending my very own choir.

I think you are not truly being offensive until you wear a mullet and a Led Zeppelin T-Shirt to a punk rock party.

hear we go…

Dear Punk Rockers,

I hate bicycles, and I think they need to be banned from our roads:

So why do I think so? – here is my reasoning.

The region I live in is urban, left-of-center, has many research institutions, universities, and strongly white-collar employers. This all leads to a strong base of environmentalists (which is a good thing), and thus, there is a strong and active promotion of bicycling, both for sport, and most especially as alternative transportation. And when one is worried about global warming, the idea of alternative transportation should be a no-brainer. But I protest.

Bicyclists. Are. Annoying. Yea, worse than annoying. Unsafe, and probably about as good for the environment as corn-based ethanol (the green value of ethanol has been greatly exaggerated).

In science, we often like to distinguish between scientific evidence and anecdotal evidence. So I will be upfront and say that everything I am going to say is anecdotal evidence. But great balls of fire is it ever damning, anecdotal evidence.

I have NEVER seen a bicyclist follow the laws of the road. Never? Did I say never? Yes. If I have ever seen  a bicyclist follow all the rules of the road, the incident was been so vanishingly rare that it didn’t even stick in my brain.

The commuting cyclists (I mentioned two types – alternative transport and sporting. First I will address the A.T.), NEVER met a traffic signal they needed to stop for. They’ve NEVER met a stop sign that applies to them. When I see a cyclist bicycling home from work, they NEVER queue up in position at a stop light, but trickle down the side of the lined up cars until they get to the stop light, then they just mosey their way thru the red light and on with their merry way.

When one reads comments or forums, on local newspaper websites, about bicyclists breaking traffic laws, there are many cyclists who defend law-breaking as a defensive mechanism against crazy drivers. But in the same breath they defend their right to share the road with cars because it is written into the traffic code of the state. They also like to have their cake and eat it too. But fuckin-A, either there is a traffic law or there isn’t. You can’t invoke the law to scream in a motorists face that they have to share the road, then ignore the law as it conveniences you. It may be that the traffic code includes the right of bicycles to share the road with automobiles, but the traffic code also includes lots of laws that cyclists break at whim.

I will however, say that the scofflaw, commuting cyclists are mostly only irksome. They are not truly dangerous, and IMPORTANTLY to my argument, not dangerous to the motorist (only to themselves).

This is not true for the other type of cyclist – the sport bicylcist. This gripe depends heavily on the characteristics of this region. Regionally, our roads are characterized by a mesh of two-lane roads winding thru dense forests. Perhaps in the wide open spaces of the midwest or the desert southwest, it is not so problematic, but in the southeast, where I live, the problem is acute. I sometimes joke that I could throw a beer bottle in the air and it would land on a church. But a far better anecdote is that I could throw a beer bottle in the air and it would fall on a road. And 99% of them are rural-ish, with blind curves and blind hills galore. Even here, in the greater metropolitan area, it is a unique characteristic of the region that most of the region is characterized by the two-lane, rural roads – precisely the type of road the lance-armstrong-wanna-be’s fancy is good for a bit of sweaty sport. And when you pull up behind a platoon of cyclists pumping valiantly at 15mph you have no way to pass! – it is all blind zones and trees, you simply can’t risk pulling out into the path of a hidden tractor-trailer. So you are stuck, plodding along, behind the cyclists. Elevator music not included. Yet lots of drivers do try to pass, anyway, with lots of close calls. When I’m not stuck behind cyclists, I have been on the other side, swerving to the right to narrowly miss a mad motorist who has decided to shoot the moon and pass some cyclists.

And if every bicyclist, with a “Share the Road” bumper sticker on the ass of his Subaru, believes in courtesy, then what part of courtesy falls into the category that the cycling squads are out in force DURING THE FIVE-O’CLOCK COMMUTE?!?! They aren’t practicing their sport at a time when there are no tired, frustrated, working stiffs trying to get home to dinner and TV – (I suggest 1am but …) – but are instead colorfully pumping down the road at the same time most autos are.

There have been a million times I was stuck in a queue of frustrated, angry motorists, seven cars deep, plodding along behind a cycling group AT 6PM! And not a few of those times, the situation has devolved into real confrontation, with the motorists honking, speeding up, slamming brakes, and finally passing to throw some trash at the disrespectful asshats. At the next stop sign the cycle platoon crowds around the offending motorist and get their own back. Lot’s of mutual good feelings.

One of the most important things to describe about the sporting cycle gangs are that they bunch up into a group that fills the lane. This is counter to the traffic law which requires them cycle in single file along the side of the road. The law also requires a motorist to pass a single file of bicyclists with the width of a car. Cyclists will strenuously point out that motorists are rude and do not leave a car-wide margin. They are right. But this is not an argument that cyclists should bunch up to defend against ignorant drivers. This is an argument that bicycles simply don’t belong on the road, in the same way the welter weight doesn’t belong in the ring with Mike Tyson.

Another point to make about the sport cyclists is that when a big dump truck loses a board that breaks your windshield, you have a license plate to write down. The big groups of sport cyclists are never displaying a banner that provides their name and contact info. So there is no avenue for civilly calling up the organization president and complaining about his cycle gang. So the alternative is heated incidents of road rage.

Updated May 06 to add this photo from the other side. Point well taken…

Posted in Climate, my beach my waves, observations, Politicks | 11 Comments »

 
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