Top Five Work-Related Gaming Skills

My entries in a contest, along with those of some others.

5 Foods You Should Never Eat Again

[Headline, Huffington Post]

1. That big kid’s candy. What were you thinking? He was bound to find out who did it. Was it worth it? You can answer me when they take the wire off your jaw.

2. Whatever it was that gave you food poisoning that time.

3. Rice and beans on a first date.

4. What got you fat.

5. If you have high cholesterol, anything for which you must lick your fingers.

5 Must-Know Facts About Sex

[Headline, Huffington Post, 01/11/12]

1. It’s ok to mix sex and food. For some, it is essential. (a) Is it possible to cook a good dinner, including hor dourves and dessert, while having sex? Sure. We won’t get graphic here; just know that it’s no problem. Care is necessary so that no one gets scalded or cut. (b) Comfort eating can be a big help during the rigors of intercourse. (c) Don’t snap your gum.

2. It’s ok to spread out the act, timewise. Pace yourself if you want to. Attenuate the friction by taking the whole day, say, on and off, to complete your business. What’s the rush? You’ve got the rest of your life, unless you’re on a date. Get started, take a break for Kelly Ripa and bagels, re-engage, argue about your finances, lose interest, do a little blow to rekindle, re-enact that time you were both unfaithful but now can laugh about it (only if you’re really high), and so on. There is no shame in temporarily wandering off, unless it’s to a strip club.

3. It’s not ok to call it sex when it’s really something else, like, say, exercise. Don’t count out loud, as if you’re doing pushups. Don’t play that little game where one of you chases the other, both of you shrieking with laughter, and you wrestle her to the ground, if that chase runs longer than three hours or twelve miles, whichever comes first. Normal relations never include lifting your partner repeatedly over your head.

4. It’s not ok if either of the two partners in the act does not realize that it is actually going on.

5. An exception to #4: If you can only enjoy sexual congress when asleep, it’s ok to tell your mate “Good night, Honey. Knock yourself out.”

Movies I’ve decided not to see

Movies are loved, some by God, some by Satan, all by the director’s mom. If you decide not to watch one, you better have a good reason, because you’re bound to piss off somebody with your decision.

Some years ago, I embarked on the task of watching all of the movies on the IMDB Top 250 list, as it was constituted at the time (it changes a lot). I completed the task, with the exception of nine films, all of which I watched part of (all of which I watched in part). I propose to list those nine films, which I desperately wanted to watch but on some level decided not to (but decided not to on some level), plus Titanic. Perhaps by studying this list, I can form a general rule about the movies that I watch and the movies that I don’t watch.

1. Titanic

2. The Lion King

3. Scarface

4. Grave of the Fireflies

Hmm. The rest of the nine are gone, bumped off the list by other films. Running my eyes over the current 250 entries, I’m reminded that it’s a profoundly silly list (#76, Raging Bull; #75, The Green Mile).

Plan B… I’ll fill out my list with films from the 250 that I don’t suppose I’ll ever see.

5. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring

6. How to Train Your Dragon

7. Black Swan

Still need three more. Ok, first three I can think of:

8. That Robin Williams movie about the doctor in a clown suit

9. Sex in the City, 1 & 2

10. The Passion of the Christ

I thought I’d never watch Howard the Duck and Death to Smoochy, but then someone turned me on to them and I did watch them and I liked them. I was never going to watch the second or third Transformers, but I just read a review by a woman who liked them both, so… This list of ten is fungible. No, fungible means that I could swap in ten other movies easily, so it’s fungible in that sense, but also, the ten entries here could change polarity at some point, after being praised by someone on /Filmcast, for example, and move to that other list of movies, that I desire to watch.

Basic reasons I don’t want to watch these movies:

1. Titanic – The boat sinks and almost everybody drowns. Cameron tries to sneak around this by showcasing a survivor up front. Doesn’t help. I don’t want to put in two hours watching only to have everybody drown on me. At least with The Poseiden Adventure, you got to guess who would make it and who wouldn’t.

2. The Lion King – I’ve got nothing against lions. A guy down the block kept a lion in his house til it killed him.

3. Scarface – Pacino. Did he have the scar? The part I watched, I can’t remember the scar. Did anybody call him Scarface to his scar, I mean, to his face?

4. Grave of the Fireflies – I only got 1/3 of the way through this one before my unsuccessful suicide attempt.

5. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring – This might be a great movie, but there are so many Chinese movies that I haven’t seen, that if they passed me at the rate of one per minute, and in that minute I could watch the whole movie, I’d never come to the end of them because they are being made and are entering post-production even faster than that.

6. How to Train Your Dragon – I was going to say something about a young dragon and her training bra but this is a family blog.

7. Black Swan – I saw a swan the other day. If you notice, all the other birds give swans a wide berth, because they really are crazy, black and white. Maybe not as crazy as a loon, but they’ll spring a hissy fit in a heartbeat if the bread that you throw them is even half-stale.

8. That Robin Williams movie about the doctor in a clown suit – When I was in the fourth grade, we took a tour of a funeral home and the embalmer was dressed as a clown. This was supposed to make us laugh when they showed us the corpse they were working on. It didn’t.

9. Sex in the City, 1 & 2 – False advertising.

10. The Passion of the Christ – I was going to watch this one with my Sunday School class, but instead I had a chance to see a private screening of a phone video clip of Mel Gibson, drunk,  beating his wife with a Torah yad. That seemed sufficient.

Scriptwriters: Sequel Prequels

Sequels get made because the original film did well. Sometimes the sequels do well too. What could be more natural than picking out a successful sequel and squeezing in a prequel between it and the original film. You can do this with just about any blockbuster of the last ten or twenty years and sell your script tomorrow. Prequels are just meltdown hot at the moment.

Don’t spend more than four hours, say, on your script, or it will lose its sponteneity and begin to show evidence of actual thought, which is boxoffice poison.

I just made a couple of nice scores with Alien and Terminator sequel prequel scripts. You put in that thing coming out of the guy’s stomach, or a famous robot shooting up L.A., and you’re pretty much done. I did have scenes set in St. Kitts, on the off chance that I might get a trip down there to doctor the script during shooting. There’s something about that name that suggests fun goings on. Kitts. Look, down on the beach.. A gaggle of young frisky Kitts in bikinis.


1. Any slasher movie – Between movies 1 and 2 in the franchise, or between 2 and 3, or 3 and 4, or whatever, the psycho killer murders a batch more young folks, especially when they’re having sex, perhaps while the killer is on vacation in a Mexican resort town.

2. Any superhero movie – Between any two films in the franchise, the superhero falls in love, we learn. Perhaps he’s (it’s a he) on vacation.  In Paris, if you’ve got the budget, or Fort Lauderdale otherwise. Needless to say, his fiancee gets killed tragically. This why the second entry in many superhero movies is so lame – the guy is still mourning.

3. Any Star Wars or Harry Potter or Indiana Jones or Lord of the Rings movie – If you can get the rights. Don’t spend four hours, or even half that, on the script. You can literally write anything. It doesn’t matter. They will come when it opens. Examples: POTC 1, 2, 3, 4. Consider a vacation setting for it.

4. Infernal Affairs/The Departed – Yeah, one is a remake of the other, but the thing is, you can make another one in between, half Chinese/half Mafia, again with good guys working for bad guys and bad guys working for good guys, a lot of plot, who knows what the f is going on? A classy project! Get that Chinese guy Mifune in there, head to head with Nicholson, if he’s over the Lakers tanking yet. You could set it in Hawaii.

5. Rocky – You don’t need any help with this one. Rocky fights. But not in Philadephia, for Christ’s sake. Vegas. Set it in Vegas.

Screenwriters: Prequel Sequels

While you’re working on your scripts for the industry’s hottest prequels, don’t forget to get started on the sequels to those prequels. Here are the templates:

5. Moby Dick: The Champ – Moby is now the champ. The Great Black Whale has become his bitch. Moby fights a giant squid, then either Mega Shark, Sharktopus, or Dinoshark, whichever has grossed highest by the time the script is written. Then Moby faces his biggest challenge, set up by his manager (they got back together), Ahab. He’s fighting a whaling ship. Ahab will captain the ship to ensure that the fix is in. During the bout, Moby accidentally bites off Ahab’s leg, setting up the tension between Peck and the whale in the original film.

4. After Sunrise, but before Sunset 2 – Being a Hallmark effort, you can count on a lame title for the sequel. Hawke is unfaithful. Delpy tries to kill herself. Hawke becomes an addict. Delpy gets him into rehab. Hawke recovers. Delpy forgives him. Delpy again tries to kill herself.

3. Toy Story: The Cave – Woody the stick and Buzz the rock are stolen by a couple of Neanderthals. (Don’t let the voice talent do that stupid “Neandertall” thing.) Set most of this movie in Werner Herzog’s cave, which is getting a lot of high-class buzz. Include the albino alligators. You can also introduce some comical character – say, a pile of dinosaur dung – that is voiced by a sound-alike Klaus Kinski.

2. Look Who’s Talking: Almost Born! – Spermatazoons Fred and Harry hook up with ova Mildred and Rachel at the fallopian party. These crazy zygotes head over to the local womb, turn into blastocysts and burrow into the uterine wall for nourishment. Write them out of the script at this point, because now the cute embryonic twins John and Mary take over the movie. It’s Dinner with Andre meets The Savages. Talk, talk, talk, followed by the light at the end of the tunnel.

1. The Bible: God Tries to Make Up his Mind – The studio heads got their way with “The Bible: Before the Beginning,” but in this sequel, Jesus Christ shows up. Let’s face it, He’s a major draw. Voiced by Mel Gibson. The Cisalpinian Monks have been pushed out of the scriptwriting derby; the new front-running script consortium is Gibson’s Blood, Thorns, and Some More Blood of the Lamb Christian Congregation of the Barrier Reef. If Thor grosses well, we might add some Norse stuff here.

Screenwriters: Top Prequel Projects

Prequels are the hottest topic in Hollywood right now. Here are the top five still open for independent submissions:

5. Moby Dick: The Contender – Starts when Moby is still a little fish, not yet The Great White Whale. Ahab is his trainer. Moby takes on The Great Black Whale (aka The Dick) and gets his butt kicked (figuratively speaking). Before the rematch, Moby and Ahab have a falling out. Ahab loses it completely and bites Moby’s head off (again, figuratively speaking). You know the rest.

4. After Sunrise but before Sunset – A Hallmark project. No sex. Do anything else you can think of to ensure that the script is no more boring than all the other Hallmark movies. Pays $250.

3. Toy Story: The Beginning – The invention of toys. Woody is a stick and Buzz is a rock.

4. Look Who’s Talking: Within the Organs – Prenatal. Talking spermatozoons and ova. Following the climax, they meet at a party in a fallopian tube.

5. The Bible: Before the Beginning – The monks of the Cisalpinian Order of the Catholic Church, working out of a tenement in Queens, currently have their legs up on this project with their prequel draft, but the die has not yet been cast. Studio heads are looking for something a little more eye-for-an-eye-ish.

Movies that make sex look good. Movies that don’t.

Good sex

1. Shortbus (2006) – I have yet to see Shortbus, but someone tells me that the sex, in many variations, is portrayed as fun.

2. Good Morning… and Goodbye! (1967) – For Russ Meyer, and thus for this viewer, sex and big hooters are good, by definition.

3. The Mother (2003) – Older woman scores with Daniel Craig. Good news for those past middle age. This stands in for a movie the title of which I can’t remember. Swedish? “Innocents” in the title? An elderly man and woman connect. They were in love in their youth but each married another. Now, a bit embarrassed, they keep it under the sheets.

4. The Devil’s Rejects (2005) – Good or bad sex? Tough call. The Rejects have a good time, except maybe Sheri Moon Zombie, who’s got a lot of attitude, but nobody else survives.

5. The Reader (2008) – Teen scores with Kate Winslet, in heavily romantic mode. That’s got to go in the “Good” column.

Bad sex

1. Angel Heart (1987) – When you’re doing it and you look up and the ceiling is bleeding, that can’t be good. Can it?

2. Yours, Mine and Ours (1968) / Cheaper by the Dozen (1950, 2003) – Too much of a good thing.

3. Secretary (2002) – Wait. Is kinky good or bad, in the workplace?

4. Nine 1/2 Weeks (1986) – At once a day, that’s a lot of sex.

5. Precious (2009) – The worst, but flowers can grow on the pile of dung.

Movies that make drinking look good. Movies that don’t.

First of all, a tip of the cap to the masters of playing sober while drunk: Burton, Hopkins, O’Toole, Reed, and Taylor.

Drinking is fun, and funny

Arthur (1981) – No happy drunks in the remake. We’re a sober generation.

Road House (1989) – Drinkin and fightin.

My Favorite Year (1982) – O’Toole keeling over in the bathroom, that was funny.

Animal House (1978) – John Belushi, R.I.P. See, that’s what happens to happy drunks, even if it was a speedball that actually killed him.

Strange Brew (1983) – Doodle ee oop ee doodle de doo (if I remember the McKenzie brother’s theme song correctly).

Hooper (1978) – I’m thinking of the scene in which stunt man Reynolds and his buddies are driving backwards down the coast highway at high speed and come up next to a Highway Patrol car.

Drink Coke

Thieves Like Us (1974) – If you like to drink Coke out of a 6-ounce bottle on a hot day in the South, this is the movie for you.

Drinking turns you into a drama queen, or a corpse (movies that make drinkers want to drink)

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) – Brick, honey, put down that bottle and come to bed.

Who’s Afraid of Virgina Woolfe (1966) – Drunks playing drunks.

Long Day’s Journey into Night (1962) – Compare and contrast alcohol addiction, drug addiction, money addiction, and TB.

The Lost Weekend (1945) – He hides his bottle up in the light fixture and hangs it out the window on a rope. The movie influenced thousands of drinkers. Look at any picture of an apartment house taken in the 1940s and you’ll see bottles hanging out of windows on ropes.

Leaving Las Vegas (1995) – I like Cage better sober yet crazy.

Under the Volcano (1984) – A day in the life (the last one). Read Lowry’s book, one of the great novels of the 20th century.

What are your favorite topics to write about? Do you get to write about them very much in your work?

As a creative screenwriter, I’d like to answer these questions by coming up with some oh-so-clever, East-Coast-Elite, nuanced topics, but given the seriousness of the subject, I’ve got to shoot straight.

Novices: Always write about subjects that you like, not about subjects that you hate. Writing about subjects that you hate will make your work a lot more interesting and will make you more money, but what will it do to your soul?

My favorite topics:

1. Jesus – Jesus wants us to write about Him. WWJD? He’d start His own blog! Plus, there are a lot of pictures of Him around, so folks don’t have to imagine what He looks like. And because He’s all about the Bible, you can make up stories about Him any way you like.

2. God – God is harder to write about than Jesus. Sure, He loves me, but my great-aunt Agnes loved me and that didn’t stop her from thwacking me on the head with her darning egg every day that she raised me.

3. Satan – According to Drive Angry, he’s an old guy who serves as the warden of a prison. He’s quiet and well-read. You can see Harvey Keitel do him in “Little Nicky.”

4. The Pope – 1.147 billion Catholics. That’s a lot of seats in the seats. Plus, if you write your script right, you can get some anti-Catholics to watch as well.

5. That guy who predicts which day the world will end on – Every time he names a date, I write another script. He’s getting old. I just pray he can hang on for a few more.

Most of my work on these topics is vectored at training films paid for by the Go to Heaven or just Go to Hell Church on Hollywood Blvd.