You're still glowing, you're still crowing, you're still going strong

Some TV conventions are OK by me. Like, if a person doesn't say "Bye" when they hang up the phone. Or if Jack Bauer doesn't go to the bathroom for a full 24 hours. I mean, we don't really want to see that anyway, do we? Actually, I don't watch 24, so he might be in and out of the bog six times an episode for all I know. But I doubt it.

Anyway, I'm here to talk about a convention that is, in my humble opinion, completely unacceptable.

It just kills me when, say, a couple of characters go into a restaurant and sit down for lunch. A few minutes later, after they have their big emotional moment or whatever, or find out that juicy piece of info that's going to propel the story forward, they get up and leave. But wait! They didn't have lunch. They didn't even order water or anything. Arggh.

I watched High School Musical the other night and those kids have the shortest home room period ever. Seriously. It's in and out in under 30 seconds. That could just be how their East High principal likes it, I guess. But probably not. Oh and sex scenes are the worst. Great Sex in 12 Seconds. That could be a best seller if it wasn't so impossible. Unless it's a guy losing his virginity, 12-second sex is not going to happen. Especially when the woman has a huge satisfied look on her face, like "Man. That was the best 12 seconds I ever spent with a guy. Really." Dudes, either she's faking or there's some seriously sloppy writing going on!

Please, for my sanity, don't do it. Don't shortchange your scenes. Don't cheat your timelines. You're better than that. Seriously.

This is so so basic, why does it end up on TV so dang often? I hope it's usually a directorial decision, made in the heat of the shoot, to add action to a scene or whatever. Writers, make sure your script includes its own activity, so some actors or directors or that ilk don't have to think up their own lame-ass ideas while 50 crew members stand around getting paid overtime.

Aside from watching lots of HBO shows on DVD, I've been working on my pilot. I have an outline done and it's going out to my brand new writers' group for critiquing tomorrow. It's a weird feeling knowing that people who actually know what they're talking about will be looking at my writing. Kinda scary, kinda cool.

Things That Are Clogging My Arteries
At Christmas-time the list is endless. Mostly lots of eggnog and chips and raspberry chocolate rum cake from my neighbor, Trader Joe's Vegan chocolate chip cookies... and I'd be drinking Ghirardelli's Hot Chocolate non-stop if I could find somewhere to buy it. I swear they used to have it at Von's, but not anymore. Number one on my artery clogging list is Hello Dollies. It's pretty much the only thing my Mom ever bakes on a regular basis (once at year at Christmas). And now it's the only thing I bake, too.


Pencils (turned) down

My next blog was going to be on the power of TV – how it shapes our lives, gets us through rough spots, and means so much to so many.

But that idea has been usurped by this pretty pictorial presenting the Power of Pencils.
Half a million pencils doesn't look like that many when they're all just sitting in boxes on the sidewalk, but when you get in the line of people who are lifting each box from sidewalk to truck, all of a sudden you realize that a half million is a really really lot of pencils.

Joss Whedon jumped in line beside me, and though I totally hero-worship him, I was cool. We had a nice little chat - mostly about how best to lift a box of pencils without destroying your back. We tried to come up with less weighty campaign ideas for the future. In response to my Cotton Balls for Media Moguls idea, Joss suggested Meringues for Moguls, which I thought was a good use of alliteration and sugar.

I'm sure if we'd been delivering egg white cookies, the moguls would have accepted them gladly. Sadly, the pencils were unceremoniously rejected. I mean, they're writing implements, so I can see why the moguls wouldn't have any use for them.

Ron Moore, Jane Espenson, Danny Strong and quite a few fans came out to see the pencils not be delivered. There were also about a zillion camera crews and I guess that's really the point.

I had a very interesting morning marching up and down outside Disney (Alameda Gate). Two women from the WGA board came by to gauge morale on the line, and gather suggestions and comments.It's the first time I've heard anyone really talk about how they're feeling about the strike. While no one's resolve is waning, people are thinking ahead to January, trying to come up with some plans to keep the morale high
and the picketing attendance high. There were lots of interesting ideas being thrown around and I have high hopes that the writers can stick to it as long as it take to get the AMPTP to be reasonable.

A few writers were making plans to look for part time jobs to support their families come January. Double half-fat mochalattechino anyone?

There were still plenty of honks of support. Even a fire truck, sirens blaring as it raced to save the day, honked its horn in support as it flew by. There were a couple of grinchy types, complaining because they had no jobs and no money for Christmas. That is sad. Really, I feel for anyone who can't earn a living for whatever reason. Which is why I didn't tell that one total ass that maybe if tried to be a little nicer someone might want to hire him.


No boys allowed

As most of you know, I volunteer for Write Girl. I'm fairly new to it, but it seems like an excellent organization, so if you've ever thought you should be a little less self-involved and give something back to the community, now is the time. Here's a message from Write Girl:

WriteGirl, a creative writing and mentoring organization for teen girls, is seeking volunteers for our new season to help with everything from event planning to public relations to mentoring and more. With more than 30 events annually, and a membership of more than 200, joining WriteGirl means joining a dynamic community of women and girls. In addition to women writers, we welcome professionals in all fields to contribute talent and time to this vital program for girls. Deadline to apply is January 8th. Please visit our website for an application and more information:

Go on. You'll be glad you did.

Things that are clogging my arteries
In Canada, we have this thing called Cheezies. They're like crunchy Cheetos, but a little less radioactive-looking. Whenever Canadians visit us, they brings us bags and bags of them. They're yummy. They're orange. And they're clogging my arteries.


I want my BSG

Oi, AMPTP, get off your (shiny porcelain) thrones and make the writers a decent offer. This kind of ripped TV goodness should not be delayed under any circumstances.

Do you hear me?
You can win a towel very like the one pictured here (life-sized Jamie not included). Find out more from Ron Moore.


Why waste time being all creative and stuff?

Shhhh, don't tell anyone, but I worked on a reality TV show once. It was way back in the day when the only reality on the UK tube was Big Brother (before BB hit the US) and all those British gardening shows which have been around since TV was radio.

I worked in the interactive department of a UK teen TV channel called Trouble. We developed Cruel Summer, which took 12 hapless teens and trapped them at a fancy private school (fun fact: in Britain they're called public schools) for 6 weeks while we made them eat disgusting things. Basic, right?

But our audience loved it. And I mean. They. LOVED. It. There were people just like them, with the same accents and the same haircuts, on TV. Which was a super-huge deal for our audience, because mostly our channel just showed That 70s Show and Fresh Prince over and over.

My job was to moderate the chat rooms, edit all the web cam footage for the 'soapy' bits of the broadcast show, and shoot little three-minute webisodes - back before the word even existed. Something I learned about teenage girls is that they're more than happy to get undressed in front of a web cam even though/because they know that adult males from the production company are watching everything they do. It was kind of creepy.

Other than inappropriate nudity, working on the show was pretty fun. Mostly because it meant that instead of doing my normal office job (with unreasonably annoying bosses looking over my shoulder every minute), I got to be on location, hanging out with my co-workers and being creative. Kind of.

Oh, and we got to swim in the school's outdoor pool at lunchtime.

After reflecting on Cruel Summer (and the sequels Cruel School, Cruel Winter and Cruel Summer 2), I've realized that being a TV writer is much too hard. Why go to all the trouble of writing those onerous script thingys when you can just audition a bunch of It Kid wannabes and torture them? Plus, if you create reality TV, you don't have to worry about residuals, because no one is ever going to pay to download that dreck.

The other night while I couldn't sleep, a few great reality ideas came to me in a dream. Here they are:

Kitchen Nightmares: Vermin Edition
Project Mop
Are You Smarter than a Marshmallow?
America's Next Top Mop.
America's Next Mop Top.
Are You Smarter than a Mop?

I'm not sure what the obsession is with mops. I guess my house needs cleaning.

I've also read a few reality ideas on other sites that really got me excited. My two favorites (can't remember where they came from):

America's Next Top Reality Show Idea
Are You Smarter Than a Sixth Grader?

C'mon everyone! With great ideas like this just hanging out in the ether for anyone to grab, why sweat it out trying to be a writer?

Things that are clogging my arteries
I've been volunteering for Write Girl, a super-cool organization that mentors teenage girls and encourages them to write and think and make the most of their writerly abilities. Today we had a potluck volunteer event. I was part of the clean-up committee, and as such, was forced to take home an entire box of left-over donuts and pastries. They'll be clogging my bloodstream and those of my friends for many many days to come.