My Life

These Aren’t Resolutions

It’s late, I can’t sleep, and my mind is racing a million miles a second. I figured that since this is the case I would write out a list of things I’d like to do in 2009. Before I go any further, I need to clarify: these are NOT resolutions. Resolutions (if you recall) are things that people break. I don’t want that to be the fate of these items, and if I don’t call them by the “r” word, maybe I’ll actually succeed. Following so far?

  1. Sell my first screenplay.
  2. Finish my second screenplay.
  3. Sell that one.
  4. Produce my short film that got rejected by the Columbia College Practicum.
  5. Write a third screenplay.
  6. Ice skate.
  7. Take a road trip with friends.
  8. Find a job that parallels my interests and be able to keep it.
  9. Continue my webcomic.
  10. Draw a new one that’s been kicking around in my head for some time.
  11. Go on an honest to god date. You know, where you dress up super nice and drink wine.
  12. See at least 12 bands in my library.
  13. Cook more. (I’ve cooked more this year than before just in these past few months!)
  14. Go to a rave.
  15. Do my part in making the production company I’m a part of the big thing this year.
  16. Go to at least 2 conventions of any kind and get my picture taken with someone “famous.”
  17. Go to comic con.
  18. Record an episode of Geek Troika at each of my co-hosts’ places.
  19. Get to writing that fourth screenplay.
  20. Submit my writing to competitions.

I definitely plan to add to this list as I think of more things. There’s so much to do this year and only 365 days to do it in. Not much time, if you ask me. Oh yeah, and if you enjoyed this list, make your own and share it. I kind of like the idea of being accountable to the internet on this one.

Rambling About Screenwriting Books

Thought I would try out my new account with Viddler by ranting about a screenwriting book that I hate and one that I love. Kind of threw it together fast so it ain’t “all that” nor is it the definitive source on what you should buy if you’re in the market for books on screenwriting…so be kind. :)

My Year In Lists

Hey folks, I thought I would end the year a little differently and end it with a “playlist” for the year. I went all dorky and divided it up by month, talking a little bit about why I picked that track. It’s been one hell of a year. Hopefully you get that from my selection. See you in the new year!

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A Thanksgiving List, Of Sorts

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope at some point you’re able to enjoy copious amounts of food and drink and are able to celebrate the season with your families. Next to Christmas, Thanksgiving has to be one of my most favorite of holidays. So, to celebrate I thought I’d give you a somewhat half-baked (get it?) top ten list about the things I’m thankful I can spend my money on.

10. Reeses Puffs – Back in the day, when I was about half my size and age, the cereal choices weren’t all that exciting. They were good, don’t get me wrong, but nothing was quite unhealthy enough to be awesome. And then one day Reeses decided to make a cereal. I’m so thankful I can go out and spend $5 on a box of Reeses balls.

9. Belt Buckles – Have you seen all the different kinds of belt buckles that exist? There’s one you can open beer bottles with. I am so thankful I can spend money on this.

8. Someone’s Grandpa’s Shirt – It brings a smile to my face and puts a skip in my step whenever I remember that I can go to the local Salvation Army or Brown Elephant and buy some western shirt that was worn by somebody’s Grandpa. They probably died in it too, which makes the $3 purchase even more awesome. I am so thankful for this.

7. $4 Coffee – I like mochas, cappucinos, and various “froofy” coffee drinks. I’m glad I can get them for roughly $4 at Starbucks or it’s step-brother, Caribou Coffee. I’m also glad I can feel cool walking to school holding a cup of said “froofiness.” Check it out folks, I’m a writer and I’m drinking COFFEE!! WOO! So yeah, I’m thankful.

6. HD TVs – I’m glad that I can go out and buy TV as big as my wall to compensate for my…lack of personality.

5. Grand Theft Auto – First of all, I’m thankful that video games exist and that there are so many choices. I’m also thankful that I can go out and get them whenever I want. But I’m most thankful for a game like GTA where it’s open ended and you can buy the services of a hooker, beat her over the head with a golf club, and then take your money back. It’s this kind of freedom to satisfy my “sexually frustrated high school” fantasies that has me ever so thankful. Here’s hoping the next one is even freer.

4. Bobby Flay Cookware – I’m thankful I can buy a bunch of cheap cookware with this guy’s mug plastered on the front of the box. I’m thankful that people can grow up to one day be the face of a pressure cooker…and Kitchen Stadium.

3. Hip Tees – There are a lot of places to buy “hip” t-shirts these days. Threadless, Snorg Tees, Jinx, Thinkgeek, every webcomic, etc. This overabundance of “witty” t-shirts makes my year! The other day I saw a shirt that had bacon coming out of a toaster. I’m so thankful I can buy that.

2. Alcohol – I’m thankful that I can have a beverage that lowers my inhibitions and my perception of the world. I also appreciate waking up the next morning in an unfamiliar place, wondering where my pants are. Isn’t booze fun? Oh yeah, it also helps with the writing process, for which I am most grateful.

1. Boobs – I could buy them for myself if I wanted, or had the money. So. Thankful.

A Thought On Method

As a writer for any medium, you often get asked (or are made to ask yourself), “What’s your method?” Some people respond with a very complex list of how they get into the mood to write and then how they go about building their magnum opus while others go at great lengths to explain how they just do things in bursts. I tend to fall into that latter category. My writing inspiration seems to come and go, usually without much warning. I could be sitting in the classroom arguing the semantics of storytelling when this “need” will rise to the surface and eat away at me until I scribble something down. Or, I could be sitting at the local Starbucks drinking a Grande White Mocha when this happens, oftentimes in mid-sip. If I’m lucky, I’ll have a pen nearby. If not, I resort to my laptop.

There was a period of time where I tried to maintain a more organized writing method, what some might call a regimen if you will. I put this into practice during the summer, since I chose not to take any classes, and went to a coffee shop to spend a few hours a day writing. I would ask for a real “froofy” drink and then sit down and write until the battery died. I was able to get a decent amount of work done in around two to three hours (I need a new battery for the ole macbook pro). After about a week or so of this, though, I stopped and went back to my more sporadic method of writing every couple of days or whenever I felt like it.

And then I had a conversation with the Chair of the Film and Video Department at Columbia College. I (alongside a producer from our Practicum class) had pitched a story I was working on and he gave some excellent advice on how to go about fixing the then incomplete story. Later on, we bumped into each other in the hall and talked about the process of writing. I explained my exasperation at the process and he chuckled. He told me that it was a day to day process, and that in this business you need to continually write. It’s a competitive business and if you aren’t writing, you won’t make it. That hit home with me, and I decided to work on my method some. Now, I try to write something every day, whether it be my scripts, Twitter, Friendfeed, this site, or for Generation Tech. But I don’t force myself, either. If I don’t have anything, I don’t write anything.

That’s pretty much my method, explained in a bunch of barely strung together paragraphs. Hopefully the insight was helpful, and gave you something to take away. So, I turn the question to you. “What’s your method?”

Thanks goes out to Kent Nichols for making me think. :)

Jonathan is a VJ, Part 2

Here we are again, folks. It’s time for another edition of “Jonathan is a VJ.” This time around, I’m thinking that I’ll take you on a journey of old school MTV / VH1 delights, stuff that I watched over and over again as a kid. Without further delay, let’s get started with probably the first music video I ever watched. Incidentally, it’s the first music video I watched on MTV’s New Site.

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Time To Update You

If you haven’t heard yet through the social network grape-vine(s), I’m co-hosting a new podcast with three friends I met on the internet called Generation Tech. The team is comprised of yours truly, Matsie, Matt, and Mike. We gather on skype each week to record our thoughts and feelings about the tech world today and it’s implications on our lives, all the while talking trash. It’s truly a remarkable endeavor and it’s been nothing but a blast these past few episodes. Granted, we’re only coming up on our fourth episode, but don’t let that deter you. Get in on the ground floor and check us out. We also write articles throughout the week and spend copious amounts of time on twitter, friendfeed and facebook. (Add us, please….or else)

I’m also working on various writing projects and generally keeping as busy as I possibly can. Don’t really want to spoil anything or give away too much too early, but I think there is some promising content coming your way. Anyway, that’s really all I have for you this evening. Before I go, here’s a song that’s been running through my head all night. Ciao.

My Life As An Intern At A Failed Startup, pt 1

At about this time last year I started actively looking for a new job. My previous internship had let me go earlier than expected and I was in the lurch for around a month and a half. The supervisor half-jokingly asked me what I planned to do for the rest of my summer, at which point it dawned on me that my last days there were coming up fast. Well, I found an ad on craigslist that intrigued me somewhat. It was for an internet startup and it sounded hip. The wording was chosen, and careful. They wanted someone who could be their right hand bitch, who was good at being a yes man, and who was exceptional at hand massages. Since I fit within those parameters, I e-mailed the company.

I got a warm response back and an interview was set for the following week. This was good news, as the last of my funds were almost gone and I had just moved into a new, more expensive apartment. I anxiously counted off the days until the interview, driving everyone within earshot batty with my excitement. “I’ve got an interview,” I’d say. “Cool,” they would say, and then ignore me.

I went into the interview unsure of what to expect. Sure, the ad was hip and friendly, but that kind of writing can be bought. I half expected to walk into a big office and get interviewed for a telemarketing job, or something in (gasp) data entry. The neighborhood looked rough. It was west of the loop, so I wasn’t entirely surprised, but it didn’t ease any concerns I had. “I’m going to hate this,” I thought, which brought me back to previous arguements with the then girlfriend and family about work and how I was being too “picky.” Perhaps things would suddenly improve when I reached the building.

They did. The lobby was nice, clean and professional looking. The entrance to the actual office was well kept and looked new. I peaked around the corner into the main office and saw a command center, essentially. Computers everywhere and people on them clacking away and adjusting their headphones. I made eye contact with the guy who had written the ad and he leapt to his feet, excited to see me. We shook hands awkwardly (my fault) and I introduced myself. We went into a meeting room and he explained what the job would be. “We do animated videos on the internet,” he said. Any being of lesser evolution might have shit himself at this, but luckily I had just leveled up in “composure.”

The interview went well, and I was asked to take a test. Nothing too complicated, I was told, just a video editing test, a flash animation test, and a sound editing test. The animation test had me worried, since I had never used Adobe Flash in that fashion before. The most I had ever done was draw sprites for my webcomic, which I then hastily put into photoshop. To say that I didn’t know it could do animation wasn’t too far from the truth.

Video editing test. Check. Was a breeze.

Sound editing test. Same. Easy as pie.

Flash animation test. Wasn’t all that bad. Winged my way through it and the scene turned out okay, if boring and uninspired. Luckily, this wasn’t an opening for flash animators. I was told that I would be given a call back if I got the job, and that was it. So, I went home and waited. About a week or so later, I got a call back and they told me I had the job if I wanted it. I looked at my bank account, nearing zero, and said the most hearty “hell yes” I had ever uttered in my life. I felt good. Things were looking up for me, after all.

My first day at work was interesting, as is most “first days” on the job. The boss took me to the meeting room and laid it out on the table for me. I would be an intern, I would be paid such and such amount, and if “I fucked around on the computers” and didn’t do “my job” I would be canned. These weren’t unreasonable demands, so I signed the papers.

Next came the introductions. The first person I was introduced to was one of the lead animators, Tommunism. My first impression was “Holy shit, Alex Albrecht is an animator,” which is odd considering the two don’t really look all that alike. I think it might have been the hair-do or something. But anyway, he seemed really cool. We traded pleasantries and I was introduced to the next animator, Patach. I distinctly remember thinking that I had seen him around Columbia at one time, but then I got distracted by the big piece of equipment at his desk. He was using a Cintiq, which I had never heard of before. My eyes widened when I realized what all you could do with it, and I made a mental note to bother this fellow every chance I got.

The last animator I met was the “lead animator,” who seemed really nice. We didn’t talk much, mainly because I was scooted off to the next set of people to get introduced to. Once this game ended, I was given a computer and began the job I was hired for. As I waited for the OS to install on the computer I would be working on, I couldn’t help but think that things were going to get interesting.

To be continued.