Monthly Archives: February 2008

struck dumb

2/13/08

Tessa’s gonna give y’all’s the post-mortem on our strike. I should add that she walked many more miles on the picket line than I did, but then again, I made the Krazy T-Shirts with stinky iron-ons.. Anyway, here she is:

***

Blessedly, the strike officially ended today. There is no doubt that we made impressive gains and leveraged a strategic toehold in new media. The membership never cracked and I have heard it argued that this was the first real union victory since Reagan castrated labor in the ’80s. But there’s a plaguing question that hovers in the hangover haze as we all stumble back to work… was it worth it?

On the down side, Los Angeles lost 3 billion dollars in revenue in the middle of a recession and a state budget crisis. A bunch of hard-working crewmembers suffered without a paycheck for three months for a fight that is not theirs. And the strike may have restructured television development so substantially that we have ensured fewer writing opportunities for the foreseeable future.

On the upside, we stood up to big shameless bullies and didn’t get crushed. We guaranteed our financial participation in an emerging market, which had to happen now – if we had waited until the next contract negotiation, the precedents would have been set (and not in our favor). We stuck together and still have some fight left in us for the next round. The actors and writers have never been more allied. And our relationship with the Director’s Guild is immensely improved. If the guilds keep working together like this, we could provide a real juggernaut of labor justice in 2011.

And I really credit our leadership for their pluck – they managed to be humble and reasoned and feisty all at once. I am sincerely proud of the company we keep.

But here’s the thing… The itchy irritation of a new shirt….

We walked picket lines for three months for no immediate financial gain.

The DVD rate still sucks. Basic cable minimums still suck. And you still can’t get paid decent money to work in animation.

But ultimately we let those things go in order to assure our future. It was a good compromise but compromises are hard. Yes there are things we wish were better, gains we wish were bigger, but in the end, 10,000 petulant writer geeks faced down six multi-national conglomerates. If we can do it, maybe other workers will remember they can too. I’m pretty proud of that.

***

Ian here again. And I’m proud of my girl.

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how others saw the picket lines

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how I saw the picket lines

¡si se puedes!

2/12/08

Okay, I have to come clean on something: I’m beginning to dislike a certain Democratic candidate so much that I’m not sure exactly where it’s coming from. I’m suspect that it might have the faint whiff of misogyny, something I’ve spent years trying to fight, but even that can’t fully explain the virulence – after all, this candidate is on my side and largely believes most of the same things I do, and after the loathsome cretin we’ve endured for 7+ years, you’d think I’d be happy just to see light in the tunnel.

And yet, it’s impossible. I want this person to get out of the race, and I want it to happen now. I will be among the first to fund their next campaign (this politician is an EXCELLENT representative for one of my home states), but it’s getting so I can hardly look at a photograph without feeling something akin to… dismay.

Is it that I – or we – are incapable of not choosing sides? Does the natural emotion of a race, a contest, dictate that we associate with one tribe, and therefore hope the worst for the other? I know in the recent Super Bowl, I basically liked both teams just fine, but as the game progressed, I found myself inexorably drawn towards the Giants, and actively felt glee when the Patriots botched a play. This made no sense, as most of my extended family (and indeed, our host for the game) are rabid Pats fans.

Hell, I chose sides when watching darts on ESPN2 the other day. I just liked one of the guys better, and they were both white, pasty Brits from Northumberland throwing steel needles at a cork target.

Perhaps my repulsion to this particular Democratic candidate is really simple: the stakes are too high to be fucking around. This particular politician combines a number of unfortunate characteristics – a certain entitlement, some shapeshifting, hawkishness, a disturbing lack of guile, and sadly, a persona so easy for many to dislike. Most importantly, this candidate is beatable, and letting the Republicans keep the White House another four years is categorically unacceptable.

Maybe I’ve truly lost the forest for the trees. Maybe this candidate would be awesome, and I’m lost in the inspirational haze of the other Democratic candidate. I usually try to stay open to all outcomes, but this time I can’t. This may sound self-aggrandizing, but tough shit: after almost six years on the blog, my notions have a pretty damned good track record, and I’m really not interested in being proven right anymore.

think zinc

2/11/08

While in North Carolina, I accidentally used the toothpaste of someone who had a fever of 103 degrees, then got into a plane full of people hacking up pieces of lung, splattering bacterium all over us from every angle. I told Tessa it’d be a miracle if I got out of there without getting sick, and alas, things went as planned, and I got sick.

My nephew – he with the toothpaste – complained of his calves hurting as we walked to the Dean Dome, and today as I walked out to the beach to clear the hell from my forebrain, I noticed my calves hurt too. What the hell kind of virus is that?

A quick one, thankfully – I’m almost back to speed now. In the past, this would have felled me for a week, but not now that I’m on the regimen. Still, my blogging muscles are weak and must resort to a CODE WORD:

What is your prediction for the following: Who wins the Democratic nomination, who wins the White House in November, and by how much?

..-.  ..-  -.-.  -.-  ..  -.  –.    …  .–.  .-  –..

2/7/08

I’m stupidly lucky for something that happened a long time ago. It has nothing to do with sex, money, power or anything obvious. In a nutshell, I have a deep love for a variety of seemingly-goofy subjects. I actually care about a bunch of specific pursuits to the point of actual passion. At no point was I dissuaded, nor was I told I was being uncool by my family, and my bizarre obsessions were allowed to go unchecked. If there’s any way I can do that for Lucy… simply get out of the way if need be, I’ll be weightlessly happy.

Back in the Middle Ages, I went on many dates, too numerous to count, with women who had no unique passion for anything. I’d rephrase the question all night, and still get the same answer. I found that prospect so depressing that I couldn’t fathom how they did it – what did they look forward to? What occupied all those oceanic stretches of time between the mundanities of everyday existence?

Perhaps I was being harsh. Maybe lots of folks simply don’t need to be slightly preoccupied with passions and are more than content to exist from job to drink to sex to sleep without fussing about anything in between. Perhaps my own passions were the result of an American middle-class existence that allowed such luxury to exist. And yet, as shallow as it was, I couldn’t hide my disappointment in someone who didn’t really adore anything outside of human relationships.

As for me, throughout the ages, I’ve been stuck on:

– Peanuts cartoons

– shortwave radio and Morse code

– calligraphy

– bass guitar

– astronomy

– east Africa

– single-malt scotch

– meteorology

– woodworking

– solar and wind power

– vegetable gardening

– Karmann Ghias

– maps

– Carolina hoops

…to name a few, and in the last four years I’ve learned to ski, play drums, install ceiling fans, learn woodstove and flue technology, and get socks on a wriggling toddler. I don’t put these up as miracle accomplishments, nor do I intend to brag (and would love to hear your own list below), but I do want to make a larger point: things don’t have to be important to be fascinating. And while your fascinations may not be contagious, your glee sure as hell is.

Eric G. mentioned a book he’s reading called “I Liked It, Didn’t Love It” about the process of pitching and selling screenplays in Hollywood. The “liked it, didn’t love it” phrase is the death knell for pretty much any project you’ve got going – in fact, you’re almost better off writing a fucking disaster just to get noticed.

I’m not sure what the authors’ advice is to turn your screenplay into “loved it!” but here’s mine: foster your singular passions, indulge your thing. Include your bizarre obsession in the script somehow, and create something only YOU could have written. Perhaps execs say they “didn’t love it” because deep down, you don’t either.

james k. polk has a posse

2/5/08

While the rest of the country voted, froze, shuddered under pummeling rain, or had their trees blown over, this was the campus of the University of North Carolina today:

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Yes, my old friends, it was that day, actually that stretch of days, in mid-winter when the heavens break open and pour forth 75 degrees of sunshine that fills up your cells with toasty goodness. These are the days you wake up and thank god you didn’t go to Colby College. They are the days when your anxieties melt away, you dare to kiss that girl, when ideas for the summer are hatched. My brother Sean talks oft of Breast Liberation Day© in New York, when the gals decide it’s time to forget about the sweaters and the second layer, and let it all go for a walk around the neighborhood. Today in Chapel Hill was a Breast Liberation Sneak Peek© for times ahead.

And thus Tessa and I (well, mostly Tessa) taught class as we do every year, by showing “Five Wives” and having a lively discussion. Peter Kaufman’s theme this year was “fakery versus real”, thus echoing NC’s motto “esse quam videri” (to be, rather than to seem), which perfectly delineates the philosophical difference between UNC and dook, and thus leads to me reading the Why I Hate Dook article in front of class. It all works out, y’see.

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Even cooler? The weather was so good, we had the second part of class outside, which was always one of my favorite mitzvahs from cool professors. Class in the quad was always a haphazard affair, seeming more like a casual gathering of 19th-century landed gentry than a real class, what with the ogling of passers-by and the contemplation of twigs, but this group of students was pretty awesome and focused.

I still feel like I totally relate to the average UNC student, even though I’m separated from my last Carolina class (oddly enough, Peter Kaufman’s RELI 30) by 17 years, a hundred thousand miles of exploring, existential soul-searching and fatherhood. Everyone seems the same way you and I were: smart, scattered and smothered, just like the hash browns at Waffle House. I was feeling utterly collegial again until I came upon this WXYC dance flyer stapled to a kiosk:

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Yep, the Early ’90s Dance. They’re finally getting around to mocking the era in which we mocked everyone else. Although it should be said that Salem and I had the first documented “Early ’80s” party ever, at the Purple House in December 1991 – so they better get their nostalgia cranking, because we were much quicker back in the actual ’90s.

So here I lay at the Carolina Inn, just down the street from Granville, where the UNC basketball team is settling down for slumber before the next night’s humongous game. Ty Lawson, by all accounts, is one of the most laid-back dudes ever; lightning on the court, but moves at his own languid pace and soaks up his favorite cartoons during downtime. I wonder if he is propping his foot up on a pillow right now, slowly turning to look at it, and thinking, “is this the ankle upon which rests the dreams of thousands?”

twas ever thus, says mr. natural

2/4/08

First off, let’s give credit where credit is due: Xanax works. Once you’ve got your own body weight and predilections understood, you can give yourself the perfect small dose and get on the plane… and the rest is, for all intents and purposes, TIME TRAVEL. Inasmuch we’re all time-traveling into the future anyway, at the approximate speed of one minute per minute, Xanax speeds that process up considerably. I take half a pill just after takeoff, somewhere over San Bernardino, and five minutes later I’m landing in Charlotte, NC.

It doesn’t always work so flawlessly, especially when Lulu Crazypants has a lot of things to get off her chest, but it’s up there on my Top Ten List of Drugs. What else is on there? Glad you asked!

1. Dexy’s Midnight Runners

2. Afrin

3. Allopurinol (fuck off, kidney stones!)

4. Celexa

5. Excedrin

6. Ardbeg 1976 28-year-old Single Malt Islay Whisky (43% abv)

7. Xanax

8. Three-shot soy latté with small dose of English Toffee Syrup

9. Trolli’s Sour Gummi Worms

10. Opium brought by Grateful Dead followers, Chapel Hill 1993

And yours?

spine glue is still drying

2/3/08

Books I’m Writing:

“I Jumped Up and Down in Bed and Grabbed a Peanut Butter Sandwich Off the Ceiling: The Lucy Blake-Williams Bedtime Non Sequiturs”

“Acne, Glasses and Gout: My Fights With God”

“The Aging Fratboy” 2008 Springwear Catalogue

“Tricking Out Your Prius For Tha’ Bitchez”

“Running For the Shelter: My Endless Household Projects Powered By Dextroamphetamines”

“Tightly-Wound, Self-Promoting, Sniveling, Classless Control Freak: The Mike Kryzswyzyshkzi Story”

“Ian and Salem’s™ Girl Drink Guide to Woo-Woos, Purple Schoolbuses and Sex on the Beach”

“Places to Pee on I-85”

“Motherfucking Shitbaskets of Ass-Ripping Fuck Buckets: Reacting to Your Missed Shots in Pickup Basketball”

“I Said That in Confidence: Ruining Lives With Your Blog”