Tuesday, August 24, 2004

A Pox on Ye, Vile Mr. Beep Beep!

I should be working right now. I should be giving the dominatrix what she wants and typing away at my final polish before I send her out to my band of merry proof readers (so she can torture them for a few days).

But I'm not.

Wanna know why?

Because there's some dang dumptruck outside that's been backing up for twenty minutes making its incessant BEEP.... BEEP.... BEEP.....

Honestly, if you need an alarm to know there's a truck backing up towards you, you deserve to be run over.

Wanna know the punchline? A friend of mine actually knows the guy who invented those alarms and has offered to forward any messages I may have.

I'm going to, and when I get the ding dong's reply I'm going to frame it.

Dear Mr. Cocles,

I'm sorry for that stupid alarm I invented. You're right. It IS keeping the imbeciles alive long enough to breed, and for that I apologize.

Sincerely Yours,

The Doofus who invented that Stupid Alarm for when trucks are backing up.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Those Wacky Oblivious Pedestrians

Awhile back, I was in an underground parking garage looking for a spot when I came upon one of those groups of dingdongs who like to walk in the middle of the road while remaining completely oblivious to the line of cars they're blocking behind them.

My strategy, then, was to pull up my car within a few inches of their legs, and match their pace until they saw me and realized what a bunch of oblivious dillholes they are.

The best would be those random occurences when their brains would register, "CAR!" without acknowledging how slow I was going.

There's nothing more satisfying than getting to watch a couple of sorry saps scream and dive out of your way as you cruise by while doing only two miles an hour.

Unfortunately, I eventually had to cease my evil ways as I was sure that if I ever so much as bumped one of those bozos with my car they'd probably sue me. And while I may not be afraid of a lawsuit, I am afraid of the look my wife would give me.

Anyways, the point of all this is my wife reminded me that about a year ago I rolled up behind a group of guys only to have one of them look behind him and turn out to be Donald Faison, Zack Braff's costar on Scrubs.

So, this explains why I never received a reply to my starring question.

Zack, "Hey Donald, did you hear? This guy named Cocles says I stared at him once and now he wants to know why."
Donald, "Cocles!? Oh man, you better watch it, that guy tried to run me over once.
Zack, "Really!?"
Donald, "Well, no. But it sounds better when I say it that way."

On a related side note, one of my buddies who was there the night of the starring incident called to inform me that towards the end of my story, when I was watching Zack out of the corner of my eye, my friend finally began actually waving at Zack, who just kept right on staring.

So, now I really am curious.

These Scrubs guys have it out for me.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Introduce Yourself, Doofus!

A few weeks ago I was at an event where a number of the guests were invited to come up and say a few words. Since the host was not likely to know every last one of us, he asked that we please introduce ourselves before we took the stage.

The first guest to stand up, walked to the front with a look as if to say, "I'm a celebrity and you're all lucky to see me in person and hear what I have to say."

Taking the stage, this guest was reminded to introduce himself, and he responded by mumbling his name with a quick chuckle as if we was being forced to state something embarrassingly obvious.

The only problem was, none of us had any clue who this guy was, and by not properly introducing himself all he succeeded in doing was convincing us he was some self-important nobody who wasn't worth listening to. Good job, doofus.

I bring this up, because over the weekend I met my wife's favorite chef, Alton Brown, who does a show on Food Network called Good Eats. The event took place at a shopping mall where several hundred people had all shown up to meet him. My wife and I had to wait in line for two hours to have her cookbook signed, but when we finally reached the front I was thoroughly impressed by Alton who held out his hand and sincerely said, "Hi, I'm Alton."

This guy has hundreds of people in line to meet him, yet he still remains humble enough to not presume I know who he is. It exhibited good etiquette on his part. With three simple words he had already earned my respect, let alone given a good indication as to what kind of guy he is.

Hopefully this post will serve as a reminder to me, as well as all of you, that no matter how famous you become, always properly introduce yourself.

(At the very least it'll give your fans another chance to applaud.)


Tuesday, August 10, 2004

The Zach Braff Staring Incident

The fact is, a lot of the TV and movie actors out there all live in the LA area, and if you live here yourself you're bound to run into them.

I've heard plenty of stories of people going to premieres and "Oh my gosh!" seeing a celebrity. Frankly, I find the random encounters much more interesting.

A couple years ago I went with some buddies to see Adaptation. We arrived early, we took our seats and a moment later another guy sat down next to me. The guy and I casually glanced at each other and for some reason I recognized him. A moment later I realized he was Zach Braff, the star of Scrubs on NBC. At this point it occured to me that we were both still staring at each other. I politely nodded and turned to talk with my friends.

Well, I didn't know it at first, since my back was to him, but Zach kept staring. There I am, chatting away for a few moments, completely oblivious as to why my friends are giving me increasingly strange looks, when one of them finally says, "Eh, Zach Braff's sitting next to you and he won't stop staring."

I quickly turn around only to see Zach quickly look away. I looked forward only to then see Zach staring again in my peripheral. I finally turned my head to say hi, when at that same moment his guest arrived and the previews started.

This wouldn't be worth mentioning if it weren't for the fact that Zach has a movie coming out now, and every time I see an ad for it, I can't help but start wondering again why he was staring.

Did he think he recognized me too? Was he annoyed that I had recognized him? Had I forgotten to take off my cape again?

It's not so much that I mind staring (I apparently do it a lot myself), but for some stupid reason I'm still curious why.

Fortunately, I'm bound to run into him again someday, and I'm definitely going to ask.

Sure, he may have forgotten. Sure he might think I'm a lunatic and send for security.

But then again, he might simply say, "You had something weird on your face."


Update: I just did a search to see if anyone else had ever written about staring and Zach Braff, only to discover that Zach himself has a blog. So, in my never ending quest to procrastinate, I went ahead and asked him my question. ...Heck, maybe I'll have an answer sooner than I thought.

To be continued....

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Land of the Lawns

Recently I found myself back in Ohio for a few days. And while I may have been to a number of random places in this world, I had never been to Ohio before.

Talk to anyone in California who's from out of state and they'll tell you they miss two things:

The Seasons...

and Yards.

Well... anyone who's grown up in California couldn't care less about "seasons", we'd much rather go to the beach on Christmas Eve than bemoan being unable to watch "colors change".

As far as yards go, however, I've always scratched my head. Yards!? We have yards here. Some big, some small, some short, some tall. So what's the problem?

Now I know....

EVERYTHING in Ohio has a yard! And I don't mean a little patch of grass, I mean a big giant lawn.

The gas stations have lawns, the shopping centers have lawns, even the freeways have big giant lawns running down the middle at times.

It's as if there's some old guy who's been on the Ohio board of trustees for so long that everyone HAS to listen to him. Only problem is, he's beginning to go a little senile.

BoardMember, "Alright, next on the agenda, we have the extention of the 215 freeway going in. Any comments?"
Joe, "It needs a lawn!"
BoardMember, "Eh, Joe it's a freeway."
Boardmember, "But Joe, freeway's don't usually have-"
Joe, "LAWN!!!"
Boardmember, "Okay, alright. One lawn for the 215 freeway. Next, we have a gas station going in on the corner of Weston and Third...."

Please note that I'm not complaining. Coming from Southern California, Ohio seemed like a veritable Rain Forest, which made for a very nice change in scenery.

In fact, I liked the green so much that I plan on going back this December to visit it.

...So, on a different note, what's this "change of seasons"?

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

A Note about "I, Robot"

Just a warning that the following entry is a bit geeky. But hey, I think it's interesting, perhaps you will too.

...A few weeks ago I saw I, Robot and had a good time, which surprised me since every Isaac Asimov fan I know couldn't stand it.

I hadn't read the novel myself, but instead read a comic book adaptation of it when I was a teenager.

Last week I finally read Asimov's novel and made an interesting discovery.

The plot of the 2004 film I, Robot is not an adaptation of the Isaac Asimov's 1950 novel, but instead an adaptation of the short story I, Robot written in 1939 by Earl & Otto "Eando" Binder. (Asimov, a decade later, would borrow the title for his own work.)

The makers of the film took the plot of Earl & Otto's 1939 short story and threw in Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics along with several characters loosely based on the ones found in Asimov's novel. The film is thus a strange mish-mash of two completely unrelated stories with the exception of their title.

The comic book adaptation I read as a teenager was actually based on the 1939 short story, which explains why I didn't understand what the Asimov fans were so mad about. That 1939 story was also adapted in 1963 as an Outer Limits episode (also called I, Robot).

Interesting how some film plots are developed before making it to the giant screen.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Hollywood Filters & The Screenwriter's Wingman Part II

You're at a Hollywood Get-Together. Scanning the room, you'll spot three basic types of screenwriter:

Pro's who do it, or have done it, for money.
Wannabe's who work at it and aspire to be paid.
And Posers who haven't written a single word, but "have a lot of really great ideas!"

As we established in Part 1, there are literally hundreds of thousands of scripts floating around Hollywood at any given time, while only maybe a few hundred every year get made. That alone should give you an idea of how many aspiring screenwriters are out there.

Wannabe's/Aspiring Screenwriters as a group would be fine if they'd just stop doing one thing:

Pretending they're pro.

Aspiring Screenwriters have an ironic nack for trying to pretend they're pro and thus being mistaken for posers. What aspiring writers have trouble realizing is that professionals tend to want to help aspiring writers (and you'll learn why in a second). And every agent on the planet wants to be the one to discover that next big star!

In other words, the wannabe's could go a lot further by just being honest.

So why are even the wannabe's treated well? Simple. They're in the minority along with the pro's. Why? Two words:

The Posers.

That's right. Posers. People who claim they're screenwriters because they jotted something down on a napkin once. And they're everywhere. Posers outnumber the Wannabe's and Pro's the way ants outnumber a carcass.

Tell anyone in the United States you're a screenwriter and they'll assume right off that you're a poser. And I hate to admit it, but I can't blame them. Even I do it. For every 100 screenwriters you meet, 95 of them will be posers. It gets to the point where you're actually surprised when you meet a real working wannabe, or "Oh my god!" a pro.

This problem doesn't truly present itself, however, until you become pro. As a wannabe, you feel like a poser so you don't mind when people mistake you for one. But as a pro it just becomes obnoxious when it takes 10 minutes to convince someone what you do for a living.

Personally, I've grown jaded to it... but it still drives my wife and mother crazy.

Person, "What does your son do?"
Mom, "He's a screenwriter."
Person, "Oh, so he wants to write screenplays?"
Mom, "No, he has actually already written a few."
Person, "Oh, so he's trying to sell them?"
Mom, "No, he's already sold a couple."
Person, "Oh, so he and his friends are going to produce it?"
Mom, "No, the producer he sold it to is going to produce it."
Person, "So they're going to do one of those little festival films?"
Mom, "No, it's going to be in theaters."
Person, "You mean like at a museum?"
Mom, "No, I mean at the theater down the street from you."
Person, "You mean like at an arthouse cinema?"
Mom, "No, I mean like at the mall!"

At this point they just stop and stare at my Mother, confused, stupefied as if she had convinced them her son is the Pope and can fly.

My mother on the other hand is ready to tackle them. ...Which is funny if I point out that to picture my parents imagine, "What if Ghengis Khan married Donna Reed?"

Ghengis, "I burned a village today!"
Donna, "I made you a cake!"
Ghengis, "MMM!!!!"

My wife, on the other hand, finds herself inundated with people who don't seem to think her husband works for a living. (As if working must in some way entail working in an office from nine to five.)

Too say I'm jaded, however, is not completely true. It still bugs me when people think I'm a poser... I've just found a solution: That holy of holies, the man with the plan, our Knight in Armani armor.

The Screenwriter's Wingman.

Leaving for a party? Don't go without one. Industry event? Gotta have it. Going to a club? Couldn't hurt.

As a screenwriter, your wingman is the buddy you've dragged along for the sole purpose of hovering within ear-shot, so they can swoop in at a moment's notice to vouch for what you do.

Person, "So Cocles, what do you do?"
Cocles, "I'm a screenwriter."
Person, "Oh, so you want to write screenplays?"
A stranger leans in from a nearby conversation, "He's pro. I got him his Lawyer."
Person, "Oh... OH!!!"

At this point the person's jaw drops and you're suddenly surrounded by a half dozen people who overheard your Wingman.

...Mr. Wingman, you rule.

So as a pro, how do you deal with posers?


Kill em' with questions. Put a big smile on your face and become a little too interested in their career.

Cocles, "Oh you're a screenwriter? Awesome! What have you written?"
Poser, "I've got a couple projects in the works."
Cocles, "Features or shorts?"
Poser, "Uhh... Features."
Cocles, "Wow, two at the same time, I find that difficult."
Poser, "Err, uhh... yeah."
Cocles, "Have anything in development?"
Poser, "Huh?"
Cocles, "Have you sold anything."
Poser, "Oh, uhm, yeah. Both of them!"
Cocles, "Wow, they sold before they were even finished?"

The further you go the more their story will fall apart. (And, word to the wise, If you can't support your own premeditated lie, perhaps storytelling isn't your strongpoint.)

So remember kids, don't let the posers get you down.

And to all my Wingmen out there... I like your style.