Last year, I have the pleasure and privilege to write several episodes for the renowned Cults podcast on the Parcast Network. The good folks at Parcast have numerous channels broadcasting a slew of terrific deep-dive documentary style podcasts released every week. I’m delighted to have contributed to the Cults series which was a rewarding challenge but also incredibly educational.
Here are links to the four stories, I wrote. Each one is about 2 45 or so minute episodes, perfect for long walks to sprucing up the commute. These do, however, go unapologetically to some dark places. Parcast endeavors to be as truthful (and tasteful) as possible with some disturbing subject matter so there’s aren’t for the kids.
RAËLISM – Claude Vorilhon went for a hike one day which he claims led to being contacted by the alien race which supposedly created humanity. He then launched a following of free love & orgies – all at the behest of the aliens – that continues to this day.
THE RIVER ROAD FELLOWSHIP – Listener discretion very much advised. Victor Bernard convinced dozens of families that he was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. He lead them to create a commune in remote Minnesota. What happened next was true horror which lead to manhunt across several countries.
NEW VRINDABAN – This is a truly epic story of a con-man who created America’s Taj Mahal, the Hare Krishna city of New Vrindaban in West Virginia. But within those halls, he inspired the crimes of theft, committed sexual deviancy and even ordered mafia-style executions to hold on to his power.
LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS CHURCH: (AKA STRONG CITY) Wayne Bent felt his church wasn’t interpreting the Bible literally enough. So what does he do? Branches out to create a commune where convinces people he’s a Messiah and cuddles naked with underage girls. This all leads to a trial which captivated the nation.
I hope you enjoy listening to them as much as I enjoyed writing them. These are a fascinating look into a darker side of our reality, but they also can answer a lot of questions about human behavior in some of today’s headlines.
Hello dear reader & dear listener – it is with great excitement I can announce that Murder Made Easy, the independent feature film written by yours truly is now available for purchase on blu-ray from major online retailers everywhere. It’s never been easier to pick up your copy of what Horror Society calls “American Psycho meets Clue.”
Murder Made Easy is a love letter to old fashioned murder mysteries made famous by Agatha Christie and a slew of other great writers. Film buffs will see homages to crime classics “Rope” & “Sleuth” among others – I don’t want to give too much away. It is a whodunnit after all. The logline is very simple – friends come over for dinner, one by one they get killed – by whom and why?
Since our world premiere at the Women In Horror Film Festival in the fall of 2017, we’ve been so fortunate to receive an outpouring of support from the independent horror community. It’s funny because Murder Made Easy *technically* isn’t a horror film – but those fans missed this kind of mystery and have embraced us in a way we are most grateful for.
Bringing any film to life is a back-breaking challenge which brings new challenges and obstacles each day. This appreciation of the process is why you won’t hear too much criticism of other films on these pages. Murder Made Easy was a true labor of love. Director David Palamaro had a clear vision and his passion for the material was infectious, driving us all through long, hard days until we reached this shore – a critically acclaimed film now available for people to enjoy.
Big thanks to our distributors ScreamTeam Releasing and MVD Entertainment Group for this widespread Blu-Ray Release.
“But, Tim, I don’t buy Blu-Rays. I only watching stuff through streaming.” That’s OK! Watch this space – more news on that coming soon.
And just in case you missed it on my front page, here’s the trailer. Thanks so much and please help spread the word! Independent film can’t survive without your help. Fight the good fight!
The last time I wrote a long form blog was to articulate why I was a supporter of Hillary Clinton and ally for women’s equality. Shockingly, the case for was defeated in favor of a rich, white con-man whose false promises appeal to the rage and fear generated by an ever changing world.
Election night of 2016 was a stunning moment. Looking back, I’m ashamed at my own response. I saw people openly weeping. I heard too many stories from those close to me about the hopelessness and hurt they were feeling. The glass ceiling was firmly back in place. Voter apathy was never more damaging. White nationalism was made mainstream. The thousand lies from a man who were not equal to the sin of one lie from a woman. The idol of the rich, white man (on both sides) was revealed as the real symbol of America – not the shining city of the hill that Ronald Reagan once so nobly described.
As someone firmly rooted in the Left, I have no problem saluting Ronald Reagan. Or George W Bush. Or George HW Bush. Or Mitt Romney. We’re not in a Left vs Right struggle now in America. We’re in the midst of a moral crisis in which we as a nation are deciding who we are.
Now, I want to be clear about something – it is now more than apparent that a hostile foreign power interfered in this election. We do not have a legitimate President at the moment. The office is filled but it is vacant. He should not be recognized and how that story plays out is a long way from over.
But the Russian interference does not take away from the rampant “fear of the other” on the side of the right. Nor does it take away from the exceptional privilege on the left. To put the needs of a progressive ideology over the needs of the many pretty much cancels out said ideology.
So who are we? What are we doing?
Election night when they called Florida for Trump, it felt like the death blow. The path to victory was pretty murky after that. Like a lot of folks when dealing a befuddling question, I took to social media. I went on to facebook and wrote something along the lines of:
“OK, if he wins, what do we do?”
Despite being a scatter-brained creative who likes to color outside the lines and fill his blog with typos, I’m blessed with a healthy sense of pragmatism. Yes, I know how oxymoronic that sounds but that’s where I like to live. I would have no success in the arts if I didn’t have a strong sense of practicality.
So what do we do?
It’s late June, 2018. The election has only become more stunning. The unthinkable nightmare is the new normal. I cannot believe he’s lasted this long. I’m a lot more upset about him now then I was when he was declared victor. And with 2020 around the corner (for you younger readers – time really flies by as you older) it appears that he maybe there even longer.
In the almost 2 year timeframe, I and many others have marched in protest at the injustice and rampant corruption. I know people who’ve not only volunteered but have become involved. As in running – and winning! – in local elections. There is a blue wave. It is real. It is not future tense. It’s happening.
But is it enough? And does it quell the feeling of helplessness when children are screaming in cages for the simple fact that they were born a different color?
So what do we do?
It’s been an odd feeling for me. Recently, Murder Made Easy played at the Dances With Films Festival here in Hollywood. (We played the Chinese Theatre – I mean, HOLY SHIT) I had the great fortune of meeting a slew of great filmmakers. They had noble stories of how to fix the world, confronting today’s problems, tackling inequality and breaking the injustice at its core.
And then they’d turn to me and say “What’s your movie about?” Sheepishly, I responded “well, it’s an old fashioned murder mystery.” At times it felt like one going to a civil rights protest but their main contribution was bringing the snacks for everyone.
However, everyone lit up. Smiles widened. When asked by the festival what I felt people should walk away from Murder Made Easy with I said simply, “Fun. Indie movies can be fun.” Severalof my fellow filmmakers concurred, telling me, “we need fun movies – especially today.”
Love letter to Agatha Christie aside, I do actually write stories which tackle the human condition, how we hurt each other as we help ourselves, despair, isolation, self-destruction. Those are things I like to write about. And again – it’s fun.
So for a few hours though, a movie can help us deal, can keep us sane, can help us catch our breath as we continue to say “no more” “enough” and “resist.”
We need to keep marching. We need to keep calling. We need to keep protesting.
And the artists out there – we need to sing our songs. I believe it was Johnny Cash who said after 9/11, an artist had to put pen to paper. Just to try to understand.
Our attention spans have become hyper-focused on the moment. Yes, we are in a national moral crisis. But it’s easy to forget we are in just the latest national moral crisis.
The DNC called me a few days after the election and told me that we are doomed without fundraising help. I told them, if we doomed, I’m not going to waste my money on a futile gesture. The poor fellow on the other side didn’t have much of response. His talking points were to point such an awful picture that people would scared into giving over money.
My experience has taught me that fear can be a terrible motivator. There is a strong argument agains that sentence but in this situation, I refuse to believe in doom. I’m not blind to the threat we’re under. I’m not turning away from the blatant racism that the US government is perpetrating at the border. And I’m not going to rationalize a single thing this administration has done.
But the path out, I believe, is through one of hope.
The more we believe we’re doomed, the more Putin has won. But the fact is we have a track record with some of this stuff.
We as a nation did not accept slavery. We fought our way out of that. Yes, massive prison reform is needed. John Legend sang his songs and is bringing attention to that.
The unrest we’re facing today kind of pales when compared to the 1960s. Sure, the hippies grew up to be the 80s Reagan’s and yes, red hats remind us that the desire to segregate remains strong. The marches must go on. And as we march we must remember – it was not a sense of “we’re doomed” that drove people across the bridge in Selma.
I didn’t defriend or block any Trump voters on facebook. I actually talked someone out of voting from Trump when I should them a speech from Trump where we said he would proudly eliminate her job. I get why many are turning their backs but I’m not sure that’s the answer. Nelson Mandela shook hands with his captors upon release from prison.
Sing your songs. Many who voted for him rationalized injustice, ignored racism and embraced their fears. Sing your songs. Let them know. You’ll be surprised how many will hear you.
It’s easy to feel like being creative is a waste of time. But look at many of your favorite artists and movies. I don’t need to see your collection but I know some if not many were inspired by times such as the one we’re in.
Sting sang about fields of gold but he also sang about the exploitation of the working class. “Brass watch, a check, maybe three weeks to live…”
Every look up the “Sunday Bloody Sunday” U2 sang about?
The heavy metal I grew up on featured some of the harshest criticism of war out there. And speaking of, the final episode of Blackadder Goes Fourth – a sitcom – is possibly the most powerful piece on World War I that I’ve ever seen.
Children are being ripped from their families. I’m seeing the new tax laws just brutalize people’s finances. Around the world, we are no longer being recognized by the allies with whom we defeated genuine evil.
Future generations are going to look back on these very days and ask “How?” Just as we do looking back on the insanity of slavery and the absurdity of segregation.
So sing your songs. We need them. Nope. It won’t fix everything. It won’t replace practical action like protest, volunteering and getting involved. But they will help.
We need to laugh. We need to hope. We need to be inspired. We need to counteract our worst ugliness with our purest beauty.
In pain? Sing your song – someone else in pain needs it. Badly.
Helpless? Sing your song – it will help someone else.
Hopeless? Sing your song – it will bring hope to others.
Sing your songs. They will drown out the vile hatred that comes screaming from under a red hat.
My signature for all my writing correspondences for a while has been “Keeping fighting the good fight.” It’s a phrase that can be traced back to the Bible. And I used it as an anthem of encouragement to my fellow writers as we all face times of rejection and self-doubt. It takes on a much more literal meaning nowadays.
So dear reader, we will talk more soon. Until then, keep fighting the good fight and sing your songs.
Below is one of oldest and dearest friends who’s been an inspiration to me, Genevieve, singing her song on one of the Sing for Hope pianos in New York City. Go on and give her page a like, then go sing your songs.
Hello, dear reader and hello, dear listener. A lot has happened since I had the chance to sit down and write in these pages. The election we all wanted over and done with is finally over and done with. And like with so many things we rush through, many of us wish we had a second chance at it to get it right. 2016 turned into 2017. Many celebrities have left us. Many new babies have joined us. The New England Patriots pulled off the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. A movie I wrote is currently wrapping up in post. More on that in the coming weeks and months. And on top of other constant changes in the dance of life, I’ve accepted a position at a cable network which has taken up much of the time I dedicated to this venture.
But I don’t want these pages to go idle completely. I’m delighted to report that traffic for the blog and currently paused podcast has held steady since November, 2016. I have several more topics and announcements to explore the next few weeks but as I’ve been thinking about my first post for 2017, one name kept coming to mind…
I hope many of you heard my interview with Ron in 2014. If not, it’s embedded below. I first met Ron over twitter (where I’ve done a ton of my networking) as he was expanding his “Aspects Of Entertainment” brand. Our conversations were easy, enjoyable explorations of this funny thing called Show Business. Ron had been there, done that on his extensive career. I, on the other hand, had only been in the biz for 10 years or so at the time so I was just getting warmed up.
Ron and I had several great conversations over Skype and email. He always knew how to offer advice without telling you what to do. When talking about my search for representation, I’ll never forget his simple pearl of wisdom – “Just remember, Tim, there’s representation and then there’s representation.” A great reminder. Ron had been in the trenches with many Hollywood luminaries bringing promotions, designs and shows to life. He didn’t like to bash anyone and he was never snobby about what he achieved. In fact, he struck me as just as fascinated and full of wonder for Hollywood after his career as he was before it all started. And even in his “retirement” he worked tirelessly on his website and putting together his collection of interviews.
Ron was fully committed to yet another new venture when ill health forced him to put the pen down for a bit. The fight was as valiant as any I had seen but on November 9th, 2016, Ron Greenfield left us at 66 years young.
Ron was a tremendous supporter of myself and these pages. It is only fitting that I return here in 2017 with a tip of the cap to top gent, talented artist and good friend to so many creators – Ron Greenfield.
Ron’s fantastic website Aspects of Entertainment is filled lots of wisdom and knowledge about entertainment:
There’s a natural enemy out there that I dare say all writers have to confront at one point or another. That enemy is – real life.
Whatever your genre, be it deep space fantasy adventure or small intimate character drama taking place in one room, a writer has to immerse themselves into their imagination as fully as one jumps into the deep end of a swimming pool.
I often cite the analogy of writing to swimming. You’re still on the planet Earth, you’re still amongst matter, you’re still able to move around and see even if you can’t utilize all your senses. Being in the space of the imagination is just like that – you’re still on the planet Earth, you’re still able to move around and see if you can’t actually talk to, touch or interact with your created world or characters.
The act of writing can take the writer into “a zone” if you will. Others have compared this to the zone an athlete gets into during a big game. Complete and total focus on the task at hand. I can tell you from experience that I’ve felt time disappear when writing. I’ve emerged from writing sessions actually confused about the time and date. When one commits as much of their mind as they can to their story, it’s often hard to switch gears back to the real world.
And as hard as it is to come out of the zone, it’s sometimes even more difficult to get into it. Especially when stupid, pesky life gets in the way. Writing during the week with a day job is, I’d suggest, one of the biggest challenges of writing. You don’t want to get fired so you can’t goof off doing your screenwriting at work. But work and even commutes alone (hi, 405) can take a ton of energy, physical and creative, out of you.
If you just write on the weekends, those aren’t so easy either. Let’s say you’re not hungover from an evening of Washington Apples and lite beers, you use your Saturdays and Sundays to go to the bank, do your grocery shopping, get your oil changed, see family members who are asking why you’re so busy writing and not seeing them. Precious hours to jump into the pool and swim with your stories fill up quickly.
It’s not always easy to imagine how to fend off an invasion of giant aliens on the surface of Mars while picking up your dry-cleaning or remembering if you already have corn on the cob at home. So after being at the Doctor’s office, day-care, on a dog walk or whatever, it’s hard to then jump into your extraordinary nature of your story in the middle of a perfectly ordinary afternoon. The stresses of real life can be the arch-enemy of your imagination.
Fortunately, there are ways to find the time and/or get into the zone so to speak without letting the fridge go bare or the tires fall of your car.
This list is by no means definitive, of course, but these are the things that have helped me manage my wicked fun workload with the annoying responsibilities of the real world. To add some credibility to that, this year I’ve completed several treatments, two pilots and two feature scripts. And I’m on track to finish two more feature scripts. Maybe more. Time and workflow management are not a pipe dream.
WRITE EVERY DAY: Writing every day isn’t just about completion. The more you write, the more it becomes habit. The more it becomes habit the more it becomes weird when you don’t write. My schedule got flipped around two weeks ago and I couldn’t write during a particular day. I can’t begin to tell you how that threw me off. Like one of those days when you’re constantly late or everyone seems to be in your way. The universe is just off.
About 4-5 years ago, getting into the writer’s zone was hard for me. It would sometimes take me an hour to warm up. That was not so good when some days I only had an hour to write. But force myself to write every day I did. (Yes, you are going to miss some, don’t panic) But before I knew it, I’d crack my software open and bam there I was, right in the zone.
Writing every single day and writing A LOT solves a ton of a writer’s problems. Including but not limited to getting in the zone.
WRITING RITUAL: Something else that helped was a ritual. I write to music (“yeah, no shit, everyone does”) but I choose specific soundtracks and music to each story. For example, earlier this year I wrote a story with heavy religious themes so I queued up some Gregorian Chants and things like that. I like to write to soundtracks and techno so I’ll choose accordingly material that matches the story I’m writing.
But the specifics aren’t as important as the ritual. Something that can hold your hand as you step into the pool. Queueing up the music helped a ton for me. I know other writers who can’t write without their favorite cup of coffee or tea at their side. All for it.
Maybe one likes to exercise before they write or do 15 minute meditation. Whatever works is whatever that works.
Just don’t do the whole “I can only write when I drink” thing. That’s more or less a myth and can lead to severe alcoholism and other destructive behavior.
CALENDAR: The best $14.95 I spent this year was on a calendar that’s on the wall right next to my desk. It’s so basic, so simple and yet you’d be surprised how many writers I talk to who don’t use one. When managing multiple projects and a day job and a family, looking at the week or month to see where you can work on what is a no-brainer. My stress level has plummeted just by being able to mark down “OK, Tuesday and Wednesday I’ll write this then Thursday and Friday I’ll write that.”
I know we like to think of ourselves as artists who are prisoners to their muse and the vagaries of inspiration but we’re also professionals who can be organized and pragmatic.
And it’s all in pencil so as the schedule gets messed up or you have those days where your writing time is just eaten up you can roll with the punches.
Seriously, next time you find yourself asking “where am I going to find the time to write this week?” Look at the calendar, you’ll find it.
PAD AND PEN: Even cheaper than a calendar are a notebook or notepad and some pens and/or pencil. We’re writers, not typists. I’ve filled more notebooks than I care to admit with story notes, character thoughts, ideas and concepts. I keep one with me just about everywhere I go so if a thought strikes from out o nowhere, I can write it down instead of shoving it away while talking to my mechanic. There’s also apps that do this on most if not all phones. Something strikes you as interesting? Write it down. No excuse not to.
UNPLUG: I don’t do this as much as I used to but I know other writers swear by it. The internet is a source of endless distractions. From twitter to facebook to instagrams of lunch to news to politics to games starring candy to adult entertainment and even looking up obscure movies on imdb. (Seriously, how can anyone with an internet connection ever be bored?) If all of those things are whispering in your ear like the devil on the shoulder – unplug. All of those things will wait. Any emergency will call you personally. Turn off the internet and fight to forget about it for a while. It’ll be hard at first, missing the endorphins those little notifications set off, but that rush will be replaced by writing – and finishing – more.
EMBRACING THE ORDINARY AFTERNOON: After a while of writing a lot and honing your craft, the real world becomes not distraction but an asset. And I mean for your writing, not just living. Many a writer has written about the importance of unlocking yourself from the keyboard.
Revisiting the first point, if you write every day, your story becomes a part of your subconscious. You’ll dream about it. And soon everything in life becomes connected to your story. Let’s say you’re stuck on a fight scene but then at the grocery story you’ll see two people trying to get the shortest line which may set off a line of thinking that actually cracks your problem with the scene. Nicholas Meyer has famously told the story that he didn’t know how to direct Star Trek II until playing with some rubber ducks in the tub.
“A writer is always working” is an old cliché but it’s not without some truth. Our stories are never far from our thoughts. There’s no clock where we punch out at the end of the day. Once our minds are trained to it, we have no choice but to design our tales while in line at the DMV, on hold with the cable company or while pretending to listen to our significant others.
Real life then becomes not a distraction that gets in the way but a necessity to keep our minds fresh. We’ll see the trees if we walk out of the forest so to speak. Still, it always sucks on those days when you can’t get back to your keyboard but this is an imperfect science looking at an imperfect craft.
As writers we have the privilege (insanity?) of straddling two worlds. We get to be there for our real friends while ruling over the lives of our imaginary ones. We shudder in terror at the atrocities on the news while staying up late creating disasters for our characters to overcome. Those two worlds seem at odds but in actuality, they should work in synch with other or crossing over as needed to get your story to where it needs to be for you to tell it.
So next time you’re picking up dry-cleaning, don’t forget to figure out how to fend off an invasion of giant aliens on the surface of Mars.
The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:
As you’ve probably noticed by now, I’ve not recorded any new episodes of the Handsome Timmy D Express since 2015. There is a very good reason for this. Several in fact. Beginning in January 2016, my screenwriting workload grew exponentially. Thanks in large part to several years worth of networking, some screenwriting awards and increased experience in writing of course, I was able to hook up and work with several independent producers and directors to write a myriad of projects currently in varying stages of development. In order to make sure I hit all my deadlines, some things had to go on the back burner and well, sadly, the podcast was one of them.
Starting and making this podcast was one of the very best decisions I’ve ever made as some the above opportunities were in fact a direct result of the connections I made doing the show. I enjoyed just about every single second of making every single episode. However, I’m a one-man operation without interns or staff so the challenges of making a top quality show became harder and harder. And I do NOT want to put out substandard product. Over the course of March through May, I tried to schedule several episodes but found my workload was such that I couldn’t make the time work. Editing, promotion, posting across social media outlets, copy etc, while all very very fun, can take up an entire workday and with several screenplays being juggled those hours become more precious. In fact, I was hoping to announce new shows in the fall but a movie shoot schedule pushed that back as well. Never say never, maybe I’ll record a new season of episodes in 2017. I’d love to be able to make it work, but at the end of the day I am a screenwriter, not a podcaster about screenwriting. I will still be blogging when I can various thoughts, quibbles and anecdotes from the world of writing when I can. And hopefully you’ll get to see one of these movies I’m writing sooner than later.
I’d like to express my deepest gratitude to every single person that listened. Based on the numbers of the various feed, many thousands of people, maybe even tens of thousands of people tuned in across over 90 countries. I would have been thrilled to hit 10 countries but to have someone from at least 90 countries tune in is almost impossible for me to comprehend. Thanks so much, everyone and the episodes are still archived on the site’s index for your listening pleasure. And quick-fun fact about podcasts, people are still discovering the show every day. I hope the information and insight offered by my guests remains timeless and helpful to all listening whenever and wherever they tune in.
Along those lines, my guests took time out of their busy schedule to appear on my podcast for free. This was a non-profit operation. No one was paid a single dollar to take part and I can assure, I didn’t make a single dollar from the show. All I could offer was getting the word about their projects. This was just about spreading information and generating buzz in the digital do-it-yourself age. I can’t express my gratitude enough to every guest who appeared: Matt The Cat, Megan Karasch, Mike Doto, Dan And Travis, Chelese Belmont & Shannan Leigh Reeve of Beleeve Entertainment, Brian Veys, Joe Lidster, AJ Feuerman, Arnold T Blumberg, Talia Harari, Stephen J Llorens, Chris Garcia, Rizelle Januk, Mike Sundy, Ron Greenfield, Stephen Scaia, Rick Dominicus, Gordy Hoffman, Tom Krajewski & Jen Muro, Tom Grey of Player Piano, Simone Bailly, M. Dal Walton III, Sammi Kat, Dan Mason, Rory LaPointe-Smith, Paul O’Brien, Jon Matthews, Crystal House, Kyle C Mumford, Ramon Hamilton, Travis Rust & Stacy Gueraseva, Chavo Guerrero, Simon Guerrier, Gregor Collins, Daphne Ashbrook, Chuck Slavin, Jennifer Sharp, Kyle Newmaster, Amy Reynolds and Elizabeth Lombino. These folk are all doing spectacular work to add to their sterling resumes and they have my best wishes for continued success.
I also have to thank John S Drew (who made the above photo), Dan Lackeye and Sean Reiser for linking to my show which provided a ton of new listeners. I did my best to plug their shows back and hope I was as helpful to them as they were to me.
Now, if you’re still looking for some great podcast to check out about the creative world for the upcoming holiday weekend or any weekend in particular, let me throw these options out there:
The closest thing to my podcast is “Making The Sausage” from fellow screenwriter and all-around top gent Nick Rheinwald-Jones. I had the good fortune of meeting Nick at the wonderful Austin Film Festival. Like myself, Nick found real industry pros to interview for his show about how the nuts & bolts of a creative profession works. He’s collected some great guests so far and there’s a lot of knowledge on his show: http://previously.tv/shows/making-the-sausage/
For some criticism and analysis of the latest happenings in the entertainment world, check out the Hollywood Picture News. Loren Erlanger and Ryan Thompson along with some special guests dive into every possible detail examining how and why things work in the ever-changing world of TV and movies: http://hollywoodpicturenews.com/
One of the good guys in the podcasting world is Kenny Mittleider. He’s one of the passionate and knowledge fans of all things “geek” out there and offers several podcasts covering it all: http://geekyfanboy.blogspot.com/
Don’t forget there’s still plenty of great podcasts on the network I was proud to be a part of, John S Drew’s Chronic Rift: http://www.chronicrift.com/ Including of course, the Dan & Travis show who are the first guys who put me on internet radio waaaay back when.
And if you’re just looking from some great old music to discover, you’ll never go wrong with Matt The Cat as he explores The Juke In The Back: http://www.jukeintheback.org/
Thanks again everyone. It’s uncertain world these days, as it is most days, so I hope it’s a safe and happy 4th of July Weekend. Keep fighting the good fight!
The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:
Ian McShane is a master of his craft. I don’t know if I’d call him a genius because that label sometimes discounts the many hours of disciplined work and practice someone puts into their profession. But Ian McShane is a master. Just watch any episode of Deadwood for evidence. But the 73 year old actor has an incredible resume of achievements from “Dallas” to “Pirates Of The Caribbean” to his famous series “Lovejoy.” If I ever have the privilege of meeting him I would shake his hand in Congratulations on a stellar career.
Recently, Mr. McShane has raised the ire of many genre fans for giving away spoilers for his appearance on “Game Of Thrones.” He gave a response in the Telegraph which said, “You say the slightest thing and the internet goes ape…I was accused of giving the plot away, but I just think get a fucking life. It’s only tits and dragons.”
I encourage you to read the entire article because there’s a lot more than just the “tits and dragons” line that made the headline.
And before you get excited, this isn’t a complete rebuke of Ian McShane’s comments. He’s done more than enough in this business to be entitled to whatever opinion he has. Besides, interview quotes are tricky. Was he just joking? Was he rolling his eyes at internet outrage? The quality of “Game Of Thrones” is pretty much undisputed so I’m sure he’d have some very glowing things to say about the script and experience. Of course, the internet being the internet, that’s harder to find than the mean comments.
But he does bring up some interesting points about internet outrage, spoilers and the genre experience.
Ian McShane cannot be more correct when he says “You say the slightest thing and the internet goes ape.” One just has to look at the ongoing feuds between many Bernie Sanders supporters and many Hillary Clinton supporters to know that’s true. Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders are putting an exemplary debate exchanging ideas in the political discourse. Some of their surrogates, however, are shouting at each other on talk shows and across social media. (Following the example of those they profess to love is some advice that wouldn’t go amiss.)
As I have explored in these pages, the keyboard can be a sword bringing bravery to many a troll. The black and white image of one quote taken out of context can instill an extreme judgement of “HOW COULD THEY?!?!” when in fact there was much more to the story.
I ain’t mad at McShane’s comments because every once in a while (or maybe every day) internet outrage really does need to be told to chill the fuck out. Judgments shouldn’t be made on one out of context quote, but by meticulously researching all aspects of a story. And I say this from no high horse. This all has to be learned the hard way. (“Well, OF COURSE, Iraq has weapons of mass destruction,” said I in 2003. We all can be very wrong about who we believe in.)
I was blocked on twitter not that long ago by a fellow Democrat who was losing her mind about Bernie Sanders ATTACKING Barack Obama. Mr. Sanders wasn’t in fact attacking Obama, but just pointing out how his policies differed from the President’s. In a very reasonable manner. It’s also reasonable to guess President Obama wasn’t mad at Senator Sanders comments. Disagreements happen all the time in politics but the mere suggestion that Bernie Sanders wasn’t the enemy lead to a barrage of rage from this person toward myself and several other people. I’m a loyal and proud voter of Barack Obama but I apparently betrayed the cause by not being mad enough at Bernie Sanders it seems.
(I’ve received the same rage by the way from some Bernie supporters for not loving him so much. There is no political bent that is immune to the pitchfork mentality of mob outrage.)
There’s also the matter of spoilers. In this day and age, they’re getting harder and harder to avoid, but as I’ve mentioned before, apps like this can be a lifesaver:
Typing in Game Of Thrones into that app might have kept fans safe from the secret being spilled. It’s impossible to ask the whole world to be quiet about spoilers but there are earmuffs out there that we can wear.
But then there’s the matter of dismissing the genre. In all honesty, I don’t think that’s what Ian McShane meant to do. However, for a great number of years, many us who lurked in Comic Book shops have had to deal with our passions being dismissed with an easy wave of the hand. The explosion of genre programming today shows that those passions weren’t just passing phases and they should not have been so easily dismissed.
Recently, even I was gobsmacked by the amount of attention the new “Captain America: Civil War” trailer got. I don’t mean the buzz but I mean voluminous articles breaking down every shot. Spider-Man’s uniform being combed over. New theories about the plot were written in great detail. People went nuts over this trailer. Google it if you don’t believe me.
Why in the hell would anyone spend so much time and energy over a single few minute long trailer?
The answer is quite simple: It’s important to them.
VERY important to them.
Some scoff and say that Comic books, sci-fi and escapist entertainment is nowhere near as important as serious drama. Perhaps not. That is the endless debate between critics and fans.
Then of course some say that people shouldn’t get so emotionally invested in these kind of genre things. It’s not as important as cancer, domestic violence, rape, abuse and all the other horrors of the world that need fixing. “Why don’t people spend more time worrying about that than the new Godzilla movie?” some will ask with furrowed brows of disappointment.
Those furrowed brows are missing a very key point. Cancer, domestic violence, rape, abuse and all the other horrors of the world are WHY genre is so important. The words nerd and geek have now become affectionate labels for those of us who spend time watching the TARDIS materialize or dress in Starfleet uniforms. It’s easy to forget that the words nerd and geek used to be (and maybe still are) some of the worst names you could be called on the playground. Bullies earned their stripes by inflicting as much torment on the geeks at school and as far as dating went? Forget it.
The “It Gets Better Campaign” reminds us these trends are still there despite the mainstream money-machine that genre has become. So when school is a place of abject terror, when home is a hell of domestic violence, when the steel grip of depression keeps you clawed down, it’s hard to know where to turn.
Many people find not just solace and comfort, but pure bliss in the pages of a fantasy novel, the images of comic book or the wild adventures found in deep space. That faraway land isn’t just mindless escapism but where our troubled minds can escape the painful, chaotic asshole that is real life and find some kind of peace.
And that is the one place I would respectfully disagree with the estimable Mr. McShane. Many of the people who are so invested in shows like Game Of Thrones ARE in fact getting themselves a life.
Yup. Genre entertainment can be damn silly. The sets sometimes wobble and the acting can reach over the top proportions.
Yup. Genre entertainment can take itself way too seriously. Fandom can overreact to the slightest changes in canon and should sometimes take a step back a bit. (I still for the life of me do not get the rage at Goyer & Mazin’s She-Hulk jokes. Google that if you don’t believe me or maybe don’t.)
The world is unfair. The world is filled with tragedy that can strike at any second. The world hurts. Genre, escapism and entertainment, I put it to you dear reader is not just spaceships and superheroes. It is medicine for those hurts.
People often ask me if I’m ashamed of the work I did in Reality TV. “Are you kidding?” is usually my reply. I spent more than a decade laboring to entertainment millions upon millions of people. Even some of the small shows I worked in got around 700,000 viewers. That’s a SHIT TON of people when you think about it. If the show I was working on was a way for those folks to unwind, relax from their day and deal with whatever they were stressing out about, I’m not only not ashamed of the show – I am HONORED to have been a part of it.
Yup. Genre entertainment IS people’s lives. And it will always be of vital importance as long as there are hurts that people need healed.
And besides, the description of “Tits and Dragons” I daresay would attract a great number of viewers. I mean, come on, a show about tits and dragons – how can you go wrong?
The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:
Writing music feels like voodoo to me so it’s with great pleasure I welcome composer Kyle Newmaster to the show. Kyle is a classically trained musician who studied jazz before turning his hand to movie soundtracks. A lifelong fan of the movies, Kyle has scored a variety of films including “Where Hope Grows”, “ABC’s Of Death 2”, “Something Wicked” and “The Myth Of The American Sleepover.” With “Star Wars” in the air, we also touch upon Kyle’s work on video games for the famous saga.
Kyle gives us a detailed rundown on how a movie score is completed, from those first notes on a piano all the way to orchestration. The process is not that different from that of screenwriting as we found many similarities in our discussion. Sometimes creative endeavors seem impossibly daunting but Kyle offers great insight on how to tackle them one step – or note – at a time. Enjoy:
For more on Kyle and his music, check out his website:
Screenwriters constantly have to do deal with feedback and notes. They should always be listened to and considered. But then there’s THOSE reads. Those reads that say “this script is horrible” or “you can’t write.” Festivals and coverage services can be great sources for criticism but you run the risk of sometimes getting that kind of reaction.
Joining me to talk about how to handle that is Jennifer Sharp. Director of the feature film “I’m Through With White Girls” and an award-winning screenwriter as well, Jennifer shares some of the soul-crushing reads she’s received. But she also talks about how that doesn’t have to be the end. This a great conversation about having the resiliency to block out those who hate your work and finding the people who will love it. Enjoy:
For more on Jennifer and her films, check out her homepage.
After months of interviewing others, I was very delighted and flattered to be interviewed by my friend and colleague, Ron Greenfield. Ron offered one of the most informative episodes of the Express thanks to his hands-on, in-the-room experience in many areas of the entertainment business.
Just released is Perspectives Of Entertainment 2 in which Ron interviews a great number of esteemed artists pursuing the creative life. It is a great thrill that he included me in such august company and I hope I was able to offer some valuable words. This new collection is a must-read for those looking to break-in to show business or those who just fascinated by it because you’re hearing from folks who have truly “been there, done that” and are still doing it.
From the Press Release:
Ron Greenfield isa recognized authority on the Entertainment Industry who has just released his second book, “Perspectives on Entertainment 2, Pursuing Our Passion” on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/dp/B014GBQTIA and iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1033732329It is an exploration into the creative process, conducted through a series of interviews, with extraordinarily talented individuals, providing an insider’s view into the highs, lows, triumphs and setbacks they have encountered in their respective careers in this industry.
Each person sheds light on their individual creative process which enables them to work and realize their creative ambitions under the illumination of the entertainment spotlight. The conversations vary in length, but get to the heart of the matter: their creative aspirations, ambitions, and the work they do. Each interview is an excursion, moving through the worlds of the Broadway Theater, dance, and nightclub performers to the complexities of game development, writing, pod-casting, acting, and preserving our film heritage.
“I’m the audience…There has to be something relatable to the audience…something that is unique.” – Neal Rubinstein, Broadway Producer
“I’m here to sing for you and to take you away because I’m an entertainer. I’m singing about something you can relate to.”– Karen Wyman, Entertainer and Performer
“I always felt a bit more comfortablewith costume design…I like working with actors, and I like the collaboration it involves.” – Jess Goldstein, Costume Designer
“…the bar is set very high these days, and so the people I represent and other publicists represent have to have something special to stand out above the crowd.”– Lisa Wartur, CEO and Publicist, Noodlehead Productions
“You have to write, write, write, all the time. Write screenplays. Write treatments. Write notes… Help inspiration out with exploring this stuff actively.” – Tim Davis, Screenwriter
“I trust my intuition more than anything. I usually go with my first initial reaction after reading a script where it comes to creating a character.” – Jeffrey Staab, Actor
“It’s the director’s vision of what he is really allowing you and focusing your eyes to see.” –John Carpenter, Film Historian and Preservationist
Ron Greenfield is the CEO and creator of www.aspectsofentertainment.com , and an acknowledged expert on the entertainment industry. He writes extensively on subjects pertaining to the industry and creativity through his blogs, articles, videos, and featured interviews. For more information and/or interview booking, speaking engagements and television appearances, please contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
My interview with Ron Greenfield can be found here:
There’s a lot happening in the entertainment industry outside of Los Angeles and New York. One American city that’s become a hotbed of production over the past 10 plus years is beautiful Boston, MA. And one guy who’s been a part of that production explosion is Chuck Slavin. Transitioning from in front of the camera to behind it, Chuck has worked positions from Production Assistant to Driver to Production Coordinator to Assistant Director building his career in the industry.
When not working on set, Chuck has also been a huge advocate and champion for the State tax credits that are keeping productions coming to Massachusetts. Combining enthusiasm and practicality, Chuck has become a master at networking in New England. This is a great listen on how to network but also a look at some do’s and don’ts when it comes to etiquette on set. Enjoy:
Daphne Ashbrook is an actor who has probably appeared in your favorite show. With a resume in theatre, film and television shows ranging from “Knight Rider” to “Murder She Wrote” to “NCIS” to “The OC,” just to name a few, Daphne’s honed her craft into an incredibly successful career. She is a favorite among science fiction fans as well for being one of the few people to appear in both “Star Trek” and “Doctor Who.” In recent years, she’s branched beyond acting by releasing several albums “Grace Notes” “All Good Dreamers” and penning a memoir on acting “Dead Woman Laughing.”
Daphne’s latest adventure is writing, producing and starring in a new short film, “Once More, With Feeling.” Inspired by a true and frightening turn of events during a trip to Joshua Tree, “Once More, With Feeling” tackles intense issues such PTSD and suicide but with a humorous slant as well. As you’ll hear, Daphne’s indefatigable spirit is sending her on an artistic journey where she has to relive her fears. This is a great and inspiring listen which brings home the courage needed to bring your vision to life. Enjoy:
Once More, With Feeling IndieGogo fundraising site:
As a lifelong wrestling fan, I’m thrilled to welcome third generation pro wrestler Chavo Guerrero to the Express. In 2014, Chavo became involved in an innovative new program, Lucha Underground which combines Lucha Libre with Grindhouse Cinema. Made by Mark Burnett Productions, airing on Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network and importing Luchadors from Mexico’s premiere Lucha League, AAA, Lucha Underground brings all those worlds together to make a hybrid wrestling show never seen before.
Chavo Guerrero tells us he came to be involved in Lucha Underground not only as a wrestler but as a producer, helping to design wrestling matches for television. We also talk in-depth about why screenwriters should study the storytelling techniques of pro wrestling. And also, Chavo tells us how his wrestling career prepared him for his recent ventures in action films. A fun listen for wrestling fans & TV buffs alike. Enjoy:
Sometimes when thinking about making a short film, it’s easy to get caught up in the limitations of the format. “There’s not enough time to develop story or surprise people.” Filmmakers Stacy Gueraseva and Travis Rust have made a short film that disproves those misconceptions. The just released “Synergy” is a short they made in February that’s a topical comment on social media and infomericals with plenty of comedy, twists and turns.
Stacy Gueraseva is an experienced magazine editor and non-fiction author. You may recognize her name for her book “Def Jam Inc.” Travis Rust is a seasoned unscripted TV editor and has made short films before. In addition to their own experience, they assembled a trusted cast of talented people.As a husband & wife team, this is Stacy & Travis’s first film together. They tell us how they divided their labor but also trusted their instincts and welcomed the input of theircast & crew. Enjoy:
Episode 30 of the Express welcomes a fearless filmmaker from a production company that’s tackling important stories head-on. Writer/Director Ramon Hamilton founded Think Ten Media Group along with his wife, Producer Jennifer Fischer. Think Ten is telling stories of very human struggles with some of today’s most important issue as their backdrop.
This week sees the launch of their new web series The wHOLE which is an unflinching look at solitary confinement. Ramon endeavors to look at all sides of an issue within his story without losing the intimate, human element. We also talk about how he embraces the limitations of shooting on a smaller independent budget. This is a very informative listen for people looking to write important dramas and for people who want to make movies but don’t have access big studio money. Enjoy:
I’m very pleased to welcome fellow New Jersey native, filmmaker Kyle C Mumford to the Express. Kyle’s artistic journey through life has seen him wear many hats in the entertainment business. Kyle has extensive experience editing, sound mixing, screenwriting and is the director of several short films. His latest short, “Jamie And Jonathan” is tells the story of a failed writer driving his estranged son to a funeral.
“Jamie And Jonathan” is a drama exploring the meaning of fatherhood but is filled with lots of comedy as well. Kyle and I talk in detail about the how connected and important comedy is to drama. Kyle tells us about his experiences in various positions has helped him become a better director. And he also tells about how he became a screenwriter despite being told in his youth it was impossible because he has dyslexia. Kyle has proven it’s very much not impossible. Enjoy:
For more on Jamie And Jonathan and how you can contribute to the film:
I know a lot of editors whom I’d like to bring on the Express and I’m starting with one of the most unique that I know. Crystal House is an experienced online editor. The online/offline process is one of the most overlooked and possibly least understood aspects of post-production. Crystal tells us how that process works, how online editors are different from offline editors and the challenges of each. Crystal does offline editing as well and tells us all about editing the fascinating upcoming independent movie “Stand.”
Another reason I asked Crystal in the show is because of my love-affair with paranormal stories. Crystal is studying the science of Ufology, which is the study of UFO’s. We take a side-step away from industry talk for a bit to talk about UFO studies and some truly creepy stories from around the world. And Crystal tells us about a very unusual but well-documented sleep disorder she suffers from which launched her interest in this subject. This is fun yet very informative interview. I hope you enjoy:
How did an Irish playwright became a highly regarded author within the world of professional wrestling? When Paul O’Brien sat down to write his first novel, a crime drama, he decided to use the sometimes honorable, sometimes seedy but always fascinating world of territorial pro wrestling as his backdrop. A lifelong fan of the squared circle, Paul was surprised to find that no one had really delved effectively into this world before. As a result, his years of studying the wrestling business became an armory of knowledge which helped structure his story.
“Blood Red Turns Dollar Green” is a trilogy of books that takes place during the 1970’s and 1980’s as the world of pro-wrestling and pop culture in general went through dramatic sea changes. In those days, pro-wrestling was a world highly protective of its secrets convincing their audience it was a legitimate sport. Paul has masterfully created a bevy of three dimensional characters in a world driven by deception and where greed pushes some people to the most horrible crimes.
Wrestling icons such as Mick Foley, Bret Hart, Jim Ross and William Regal have proudly endorsed this series. However, this novel is not just for wrestling fans as it will open the eyes of people unfamiliar with that world but love a gritty crime story. Paul has become an international hit because he wrote honestly about one of his passions. A great listen for those to endeavor to do the same. Enjoy:
You can purchase “Blood Red Turns Dollar Green” here:
The Handsome Timmy D Express is back for 2015. And we’re kicking the New Year off with a great show. I’m delighted to welcome veteran DJ and radio program director Dan Mason to the Express. Dan began his radio career immediately after college programming a radio station in Augusta, Maine. This type of ascension is just about unheard of in the radio business. Dan has built upon that opportunity to create a long and fruitful career in radio in markets such as Sacramento, Cleveland, Miami and Boston. He’s currently the Operations manager for a network of three stations in the Tampa Bay area.
Dan gives us a rundown of why the radio industry refuses to not only die, but continue to thrive, despite numerous predictions of its doom. But this episode is about more than radio as Dan takes us through some of the best ingredients of the creative life. I wanted this show to be about getting screenwriting advice sometimes from non-screenwriting sources. Dan summed that up perfectly as this is a great listen for everyone trying to come to terms with their artistic side. Enjoy:
“Larry Bird’s not walking through that door, fans. Kevin McHale is not walking through that door, and Robert Parish is not walking through that door. And if you expect them to walk through the door, they’re going to be grey and old. What we are is young, exciting, hard-working, and going to improve. People don’t realize that.” – Rick Pitino as coach of the Boston Celtics in 2000.
My posting of the Paul McCartney pic should assure you that I do in fact know who Paul McCartney is. However, a few days ago as I’m sure you heard, this happened:
If your social media feeds are like mine, you saw (or maybe yourself posted) many a message of woe that civilization is lost because a new generation of young people don’t know who Paul McCartney is. These HANDFUL OF TWEETS even got coverage on national outlets like number one rated morning show “Good Morning, America.”
I was quite disturbed by this whole affair – and not by people who didn’t know who Paul McCartney was. But rather by the vitriolic rage that’s spewing from a no-right-to-be-this-indignant older generation.
Let’s just say for the sake of argument that these Kanye fans were not joking and that they genuinely had no idea who Paul McCartney is.
First of all, the number of fans tweeting this is so infinitesimally small it in no way could be used to gauge the overall knowledge of their respective demos at all. It was worth no press coverage at all. A few people not knowing something that’s accepted common knowledge is not a story.
Secondly, there’s a very important question people forgot to put this into its proper context. Some young people on twitter don’t know who Paul McCartney is – Why should they?
Seriously, why should anyone under 25 be THAT familiar with Paul McCartney. “He’s a cultural icon.”Yup. He sure is. Paul McCartney changed music, culture and maybe even the whole world itself thanks to his work with the Liverpool skiffle band, The Beatles. And his work with Wings and his solo career is more than enough to get anyone get on their knees and say “We’re not worthy.”
Paul McCartney, if you’re reading this, if we ever meet, the first pint is on me.
(Side-note, I had the good fortune to meet Ringo Starr on several occasions. Top gent & very nice man.)
But Paul McCartney, I think would also be the first to agree that maybe today’s generation isn’t really all that familiar with the music that was the cultural norm OVER FIFTY FUCKING YEARS AGO. Maybe, just maybe, that’s why Paul McCartney is recording with an artist much more in tune with today’s audiences. An artist like Kanye West.
It’s easy to look at a 15 or 20 year-old who doesn’t know all the words to “Yesterday” and be like “What? You don’t know that song? What’s wrong with you?”But honestly, think about how much of a dick move that is.
The Beatles are not on every street corner. Their posters aren’t in record store windows. There aren’t even record store windows anymore. They’re not on the covers of magazines every month. Their ubiquitousness in our culture, like it or not, fades with each passing year.
The Cultural Zeitgeist is not, as many aficionado would have you believe, a sacrosanct permanence. It’s more fluid than a raging river changing all the time in ways faster than we can keep up with.
The kids today are not growing up on the things we grew up on. And they shouldn’t. Today’s Doctor Who fans watched David Tennant & Matt Smith while my generation’s watched Tom Baker & Peter Davison (and wondered what it was like to see William Hartnell & Patrick Troughton as they aired.) Today’s wrestling fans are not cheering on Hulk Hogan & Randy Savage. They’re rooting for John Cena & Daniel Bryan.Today’s Star Wars fans will not be watching Empire Strikes Back 50 times over and over again. With hope, they’ll be watching The Force Awakens 50 times over and over again.
(Fingers crossed about Star Wars but that’s another story for another blog)
One generation is under no obligation at all to spend their leisure time in deference to another. Today’s kids owe it to no one to like or ever even listen to The Beatles. Now of course, I think they should. The Beatles are one of the truly great bands of all time – and not just because they got there first. But publicly shaming anyone who had the temerity to not grow up the same time as you is NOT going to get anyone to agree to a certain line of thinking.
Instead of screaming “What’s wrong with these idiots?!?!?” Maybe it’s a better idea to, I don’t know, introduce them to The Beatles. We all know Millennials. We all know young people who’ve not seen all the stuff we’ve seen. I have a sneaking suspicion they’re interested in quality entertainment and maybe, if presented nicely, would be very open to being introduced said classics.
Maybe instead of hating your nephew because you like U2 and he likes Coldplay, introduce him to U2. He may love them more than Coldplay.
Maybe instead of shaming those younger coworkers for not seeing Ghostbusters – explain why it’s a classic & it’s worth their precious 100 minutes to give it a shot. (I worked with someone who never saw Ghostbusters. She was born two years after it came out. It was never a part of her culture. That is NOT her fault. She doesn’t deserve to be made to feel bad about that.)
Maybe instead of sneering down our noses creating a divide between generations we need to be reaching across the aisle so to speak, because after all, aren’t we all looking for good shit to enjoy?
Besides, it goes both ways. When you were 15 way back in the 1980’s or whenever, did you know who The Beatles were? Ok, you probably did. Media was a lot less crowded then. Besides, Paul McCartney recorded with Michael Jackson (probably for the same reason he’s recording with Kanye.) A friend on Facebook brought up that he knew all about Elvis too.
OK, fine but in 1987, were you listening to Del Shannon, Robert Johnson, Bill Hailey & The Comets, Buddy Holly & The Crickets, Etta James, Cole Porter and Jerry Lee Lewis OR were you listening to Def Leppard, Poison, Bon Jovi, INXS and Van Halen?
Also, a bunch of over 30 folks are incensed at people for not knowing Paul McCartney but how many of those folks know more than one Nicki Minaj song?How many have been to a Lady Gaga concert (I have! It was awesome)? How many can name the bands who are topping the iTunes download charts or are the most-played on the rap stations?
When I first heard the name Iggy Azalea I thought that was a song off the new Primus album.
“But Tim, our generation’s stuff was SO much better than today’s”
I’ve written about the need to stay current before in regards to screenwriting and I think it’s a topic I’ll be revisiting again and again because I’m a part of a generation that appears to want to keep its feet planted in either the 80’s or 90’s. We’re being dragged kicking & screaming into the 21st Century and have quickly fallen into the “What’s wrong with the kids today?” snobbery that I found so repugnant when I was one of those kids today.
I was very fortunate to be exposed to some great classic rock when I was getting into heavy metal as an angry young teenager (gulp) all those years ago. But if it wasn’t for an older brother who was a diehard Pink Floyd fan playing them all the time, I’m not sure I ever would have picked up any of their stuff. I was too busy moshing to Metallica and Anthrax to care about crusty old 70’s rock. As a film buff, it was The Wall movie that entranced me and I did become a Pink Floyd fan in my teens. Even saw the last US show ever at Giants Stadium in 1994. That doesn’t make me better than younger Floyd fans. It only makes me older than them.
But The Beatles? I bought my first Beatles record when I was 19. Black Sabbath, I believe I was 18. Led Zepplin? I actually got into them in 2002 at the ripe old age of well, as young some of these so-called ignorant, stupid and possibly joking Paul McCartney tweeters. I was into Queen but that was because they were still releasing material (and great material at that) in the late 80’s. When I heard “I Want It All” I had no idea about “Bohemian Rhapsody” or “Fat-Bottomed Girls” or “I Want To Break Free.” And I owe no one an apology for that.
People can get mad at the changing times all they want. Industry pros like us screenwriters, I’m not sure we have that luxury. If we want to write movies that speak to audiences in 2015, we can’t write movies for 1984. There’s a reason why some of the tricks used in Top Gun and Rocky III aren’t going to work today. (“But everyone watches Rocky III on cable.” Sure, and everyone hated Iron Man II.)
People will always want good stories and compelling characters but the delivery genres, styles and platforms are in constant flux. And of course there’s homages & love letters to times gone by. “Foxcatcher” was in my mind astounding but it’s paced for 1973, very very slow and some of today’s audience didn’t respond to that. But while we can wink and high-five our influences in our scripts, we have to constantly be looking forward.
Apparently, the new Ghostbusters will be a total reboot. Fine. If you’re a Ghostbusters purist and you hate the new one, fair enough. The original Ghostbusters are on DVD, BluRay and digital download for you to enjoy in comfort and safety. Because the older generation is owed nothing by the new. Nothing.
I’m not a big fan of Michael Bay’s Transformers movies. But they draw a metric shit-ton of money from a worldwide audience so no need for me to curse Mr. Bay and his hard-working crews names. (I will refrain from my Galvatron is not a truck rant at this time) I have the originals on DVD and can enjoy them whenever I want. I’m not going to see Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull. I’m not going to see Superman Returns. Our media libraries are becoming impossibly vast so that each generation can enjoy what each generation enjoys without throwing stones at each other.
Because here’s the bad news – let’s say those Paul McCartney tweeters were just joking. There will come a day when a large number of young people WILL have to be told who Paul McCartney is. There will come a day when The Beatles will be a dot in the rearview. Their records will be rarities sought-after by only the most die-hard collectibles. Kids may even have to be taught about The Beatles…in school!!!
Sure they’ll be there but like so many gems from the early to mid 20th-Century, you’ll have to look for them.
Railing against the changing times is screaming at a runaway train with no breaks. Culture will shift, change, move on and there’s literally nothing we can do to stop it. We, instead, should embrace it and do whatever we can to spread the merits of what we find important so that maybe it’s then embraced by the future generation. And stays alive just a little bit longer.
From “Doctor Who: The Chase” when a young companion from the future got a chance to finally see The Beatles:
IAN: Well, where are we now?
ANNOUNCER [OC]: This is BBC One. The next programme is due to start in just under one minute.
BARBARA: Vicki, what year have you got on there?
DOCTOR: Come along, come.
IAN: You’ve got a television.
VICKI: I want to watch it.
HOST [on monitor]: Here singing their latest number one hit it’s the fabulous wait for it. It’s the fabulous Beatles!
VICKI: Yes! Fabulous!
BEATLES: I think I’m gonna be sad, I think it’s today, yeah! The girl that’s driving me mad, Is going away.
She’s gotta ticket to ride, She’s gotta ticket to ride. She’s gotta ticket to ride, and she don’t care. My baby don’t care.
(Everyone is bopping and singing along until Barbara leans on the volume and they loose the picture)
IAN: Oh, Barbara.
DOCTOR: Now you’ve squashed my favourite Beatles!
IAN: Vicki, I had no idea you knew about the Beatles.
VICKI: Of course I know about them. I’ve been to their Memorial Theatre in Liverpool.
BARBARA: Well, what do you think of them, Vicki?
VICKI: Well, they’re marvellous, but I didn’t know they played classical music!
BARBARA: Classical music?
IAN: Get with it, Barbara. Get with it. Styles change, styles change.
Yes, I see the irony of quoting a 1965 Doctor Who story in an article about staying current. But again, don’t get mad at new Who fans for not seeing those old classics. Tell them why they should. You never know. They just may love it as much as you do.
The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:
It’s always scary whenever a screenwriter thinks of the production executive who will oversee their script. But M. Dal Walton III joins me for Episode 22 to tell you why screenwriters have nothing to fear. Dal has served for years as production executive guiding movies such as “Narc”, “Once Fallen”, “16 Blocks” and “Righteous Kill.” Dal tells us about how a production executive is there to help a script become the best movie possible. Yes, it’s true – they’re actually on the screenwriter’s side!
Dal has also worked as a manager for years and goes into detail about the manager/screenwriter relationship. Dal is now moving to the other side of the desk becoming a director and writer himself. Having seen many changes in the business over the years, Dal gives some great observations about why this is one of the best times to be screenwriter or director in Hollywood. An invaluable and experienced source of how it works inside a production company, Dal is very generous here with his insight. This interview is helpful to screenwriters everywhere whatever their skill level. Grab a pen, take some notes and enjoy.
We kick off December with Episode 21 of the HTD Express. Simone Bailly is an actress who’s worked across many genres in television and film. You’ve seen her in recent sci-fi icons like “Stargate: SG-1,” “Battlestar Galactica” and “Smallville.” But she’s also appeared in dramas like “The L-Word” as well as a new independent feature about modern romance “Life Partners” alongside Leighton Meester (Gossip Girl) and Gillian Jacobs (Community). This being the digital age, you can rent “Life Partners” on itunes right now but it also opens in theatres this Friday, December 5th, 2014.
Simone has experienced the acting industry in both Vancouver and Los Angeles. She shares with us an actor’s perspective on how to approach character. For screenwriters everywhere, this conversation offers a new angle of looking at your scripts. Simone tells us exactly what goes through the mind of the person who is handed a script and tasked with bringing characters to life. We also talk about the pros and cons of taking risks to stand out from the crowd. There’s a lot of insight in here about how close acting and screenwriting actually are. Enjoy:
November 15th, Midnight PST will be the final deadline for the 2015 Blue Cat Screenplay Competition. I’m very delighted that due to some last-minute scheduling, the founder and judge of Blue Cat, screenwriter, director and teacher Gordy Hoffman kindly took time out to tell us about what this very trusted screenwriting contests. Blue Cat is in its sixteenth year and has helped launched numerous writing careers, including “Rodham” screenwriter Young Il Kim and “Prisoners” co-writer Aaron Guzikowski among many others.
Gordy has been a huge asset to aspiring screenwriters since he launched Blue Cat and you’ll hear why as shares some of his great insights here. Every script that enters Blue Cat gets written feedback. Gordy tells us how writers should handle and address that feedback. Gordy also tells us what a writer should be concentrating on before they enter any contest. The good news, it’s all about the writing and not marketplace dictates. If you’re an aspiring or amateur screenwriter, inside or outside LA, looking for a door to get into the business, contests like Blue Cat are a great way. Find out why here and Enjoy!
This week on the Handsome Timmy D Express I am privileged to welcome Ron Greenfield, one of the most experienced and distinguished guests to appear so far. Ron started his career as a film graphic artist, producing and designing trailers forsuch critical and commercial hits like Star Trek, Arthur, Reds,Raiders Of The Lost Ark and Victor, Victoria. He then switched direction and went to work for CBS/Fox, as the Creative Director, when home entertainment was first beginning to make an impact as he created the campaigns that kept an entire generation of kids on pins and needles, promoting the Star Wars trilogy when they were first introduced on videocassette.
In Los Angeles, Ron served as the Senior Director of Creative Services for the legendary Republic Pictures. From there he went onto become an award winning Vice President (Marketing and Creative Services) for the well-known, Hollywood icon, Aaron Spelling (Charlie’s Angels, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Dynasty, Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place). He also worked as Chief Marketing Officer for the firm of Software Magic, where he helped develop gaming concepts with Electronic Arts, Atari, Activision, Dreamworks Interactive, Mattel, and Lucas Arts.
Today Ron endeavors to share his knowledge and experience with people learning their way in this business. His website, www.aspectsofentertainment.com, as well as his two books are invaluable reads to anyone wanting to understand the in’s and out’s of the entertainment industry. Perspectives on Entertainment, is available on amazon.com and there is a FREE DOWNLOADof his other book, A Sneak Peek Behind The Curtain of the Entertainment Industry, on his website.
I was delighted that Ron took time out from his busy schedule to talk with me about the creative life and how that works in conjunction with the business side of Hollywood. Ron brings a lot of wisdom to this interview and I’m sure you’ll enjoy our talk, as I did:
Ron’s fantastic website Aspects of Entertainment can be found here:
In the most multicultural episode of the Express yet, I’m proud to be joined by actress, model and director Rizelle Januk. Rizelle is of Indian descent and joins us all the way from the nation of South Africa. I didn’t know a whole lot about Indian culture or South Africa so this episode turned out to be a real education for me. And despite the geographical distances Rizelle offers insight that will be useful to anyone on the outside of Hollywood who dreams of getting inside one day.
Rizelle talks about the challenges of chasing her dreams while living in a region that doesn’t have many opportunities. And what opportunities do arise, many casting people don’t know where to fit her because of her mixed heritage. However, Rizelle is not taking “no” for an answer and has created her own opportunities in several international independent films. She also highlights how to use social media for networking and how to capitalize on any kind of break, such as being a finalist for Miss Earth in 2010.
In order to make the time difference work, I had to stay up a bit late and Rizelle had to get up a bit early so please pardon any tiredness you may hear. Overall, this is a great message about following your dreams, no matter what the restrictions. I hope you enjoy…
This week on the Handsome Timmy D Express, I am thrilled to welcome to the show one of the most unique individuals whom I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing, Christopher J Garcia. Chris is the curator the Computer History Museum in the beautiful bay area city of Mountain View. He’s also a writer, filmmaker and a Hugo-Award winning editor of a the acclaimed fanzine, The Drink Tank. (For real, check out his acceptance speech below, it’s amazing – heart-warming and honest)
One of Chris’ many projects when he’s not sleeping at all is the Silicon Valley Science Fiction Short Film Festival. Chris goes into a great detail about what makes this Festival special and why he’s so passionate about it. He also gives a great look into the independent film scene from a distribution perspective and how the recent changes in the industry could mean great news for low-to-no budget filmmakers. And it’s shocking how little he and I, two lifelong wrestling fans, actually talk wrestling. But we do sidestep into the universe of Dune for a bit. I hope you’ll enjoy:
For more on The Silicon Valley Science Fiction Short Film Festival:
It has a been a whirlwind journey for me since I launched the Express. I went back and forth about this venture because I knew it would require a lot of commitment which would take away from fictional writing and day jobs. But I’m a writer and expressing myself is what I do so I made that commitment and happy to report zero regrets with that decision so far. Incorporating other creative talents into the podcasting element of this blog has been possibly one of the best things I’ve done since joining the entertainment business 11 years ago this very month.
Over the past 6 weeks, I excited and humbled by the talents I’ve been able to wrangle onto the Express. A diversity of occupations, I felt, was vital to give this little venture any credibility. Along the way, we’ve explored the challenges facing women writers, compared writing styles between the US & UK and even managed to pay tribute to recently departed icons. I’ve also been able to pair up with the fantastic Dan & Travis show on iTunes and have joined them on the wonderful Chronic Rift network. I’m overjoyed with the results so far and quite frankly, am very pleasantly surprised at how quickly this little venture has grown.
I’m just a one man operation self-promoting on social media but I am exploring some exciting promotional options to help spread the word. I’m excited about the listenership numbers (47 countries have either read or tuned in) but based on all the positive feedback I’ve received I’m going to do my best to keep building the audience. To that end, I continue to ask: If you enjoy what you’re reading and hearing on the Express, please don’t be shy about posting on facebook, twitter, pinterest, twiter, google+, wherever and yes, twitter is probably the best promotional tool we have right now. We live in a time of saturated media so we all have to promote the things we enjoy so they get noticed.
Thank you very much especially to Megan Karasch, Tim Bannock, Mark Askren, Arnold T Blumberg, Shannan Leigh Reeve & Chelese Belmont of Beleeve Entertainment and Dan & Travis for their extra efforts in shouting the word about the Express far and wide.
If this is the first post your reading, welcome, I hope you enjoy! Below are the first 10 episodes of the Handsome Timmy D Express which explores various aspects of the creative life and screenwriting and the entertainment business from various corners of the entertainment business:
EPISODE 1 – World-renowned DJ Matt The Cat takes us through the world of radio – and soul music:
EPISODE 2 – Award winning screenwriter Megan Karasch gives a guide to self-publishing and writing sitcom pilots:
EPISODE 3 – Director & Digital Media Producer Mike Doto on what a director does & the ever-changing digital landscape:
EPISODE 4 – Awesome podcasters Dan & Travis one what podcasting actually is all about:
EPISODE 5 – Independent film producers Beleeve Entertainment on following your vision & their movie Penumbra:
EPISODE 6 – Director of Television Research Brian Veys tells us how TV Ratings work:
EPISODE 7 – Writer Joseph Lidster on writing about & with depression as well as some Torchwood & Dark Shadows:
EPISODE 8 – Publicist AJ Feuerman on image management & brand-building:
EPISODE 9 – College Professor & Author Dr. Arnold T. Blumberg on the mythology of zombies and comic books:
EPISODE 10 – Stand-up Comedian Talia Harari remembers Joan Rivers & talks about the challenges facing women in comedy:
And it’s just the beginning, Episode 11 will be posted tomorrow (and it’s wicked good) and I’ve got some great guests lined up throughout the fall and winter. The Handsome Timmy D Express goes onward…
The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:
A day late but not a dollar short. A very interesting Episode 8 is on deck. This week I welcome publicist AJ Feuerman. AJ’s experience in public relations runs a wide spectrum of many projects of varying media platforms. She’s done work for artists such as Bon Jovi, The Rolling Stones and The Who. As well as for TV shows like Glee, Homeland and Burn Notice. She’s also done PR for the feature films Rampart, Puncture and Trespass (but she is not biased against movies with more than one word in their title.)
In this episode, we discuss the challenges of image management for huge big budget projects as well as branding yourself in the internet age. We also break the fourth wall a little bit talking about the world of blogging in the ever-changing digital landscape. And an avid Whovian, AJ and I discuss the brand new season of Doctor Who with the brand new Doctor, Peter Capaldi, I hope you enjoy.
Quick-note: There were a few moments were lost internet connection during the interviews so you may hear some edit points where I cleaned those up. It should not effect any listening enjoyment.
Quick Note: As you guys have figured out by now, these interviews are not recorded live. This week’s episode was recorded before yesterday’s still-stunning and all-too tragic news of Robin Williams’ sudden passing. I want to assure you that had we recorded after 4 PM yesterday, we would absolutely have touched upon Mr William’s career, especially his recent sitcom The Crazy Ones which would have fit into our discussion perfectly.A great many words have been written about Mr. Williams’ death. I daresay everyone’s personal favorite joke, TV show or movie is the finest tribute anyone can write. And if not, then this one is:http://lisajakub.wordpress.com/2014/08/11/farewell-to-robin-williams-a-thank-you-note/
This week’s interview is about all sorts of good stuff in the world of TV. My guest is none other than Brian Veys, the Director of Worldwide Television Research at MGM Studios. And by research, I don’t mean looking stuff up on wikipedia. Television research is the collection and analysis of ratings. With viewing figures coming in from a historically varied number of sources, that research is becoming more complicated every year.
Brian and I discuss the nuts and bolts of ratings analysis and how it’s not the be-all-end-all of whether a show stays on the air. We also discuss the ever changing landscape of media delivery platforms, how social media influences ratings (if at all) and Brian puts me on the hot seat to talk about the increased savvy of today’s viewing audience. This is a fascinating look at ratings analysis, something I didn’t know a lot about, and a real informed glimpse at how TV decision making works:
The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:
Want to open this week by saying thanks so much to everyone who read and shared the Open Letter To William Shatner and George Takei. I don’t know if it’s reached their eyes but the post was spread far and wide by the ever faithful science fiction community and I’m very grateful to those who enjoyed it and spread the word. Thanks so much, guys!
Time for a new episode of the Handsome Timmy D Express. I’ve known Dan & Travis for almost 20 years now and they’ve been making the funny for just as long.
They’ve produced radio talk shows over several generations of the ever changing media landscape. On this episode, they share with us how they design their shows, how they’ve adapted to the changing times and offer some good screenwriting reminders/advice even though they’re a non-screenwriting source.
The Dan & Travis podcast is an awesome listen featuring hilarious but thought-provoking looks at the news, pop culture and the hardest trivia game on the planet (for reals, it’s terrifying) And I’m not just saying that because they’ve let me piggy back on their stream as a sister-show and feature me as a guest debunking conspiracy theories and such. A great fun listen on both good days and bad, it can found on the links below and is featured on the prestigious Chronic Rift podcasting network. Sit back, relax and enjoy some radio genius.
The 27 favorites and 13 retweets all came from total strangers. It seems I struck a welcome chord in today’s rough and tumble internet frontier. This was the original post I was replying to:
For the record, I do not know Wil Wheaton. I’ve never met him either through industry connections or at fan conventions. He’s not endorsed me writing this blog and I do not speak for him in anycapacity whatsoever. Unlike VictorWTF, I’m a fan of his work in Star Trek: The Next Generation (arguably the best US Science Fiction show ever) and especially his performance in “Stand By Me”. Mr. Wheaton and I both share a love of the LA Kings and Doctor Who. He’s done a tremendous job reinventing himself on-line and has the reputation of being an easy-going, fun-loving, all-around good guy.
He’s also an adult, a well-seasoned celebrity and certainly doesn’t need me sticking up for him or fighting his battles. But still I had to say something on the twitter because there’s nothing quite as despicable and gutless as anonymous trolling, is there? And considering how folks responded to my tweet and some recent events, I figured this is a good time to investigate the modern phenomenon of anonymous internet bravery.
I’m kind of disappointed that the term troll has evolved to be used beyond the anonymous. I remember (or maybe I misunderstood the term, I’m not 20 anymore) just a year or so ago when the trolls were only the cowards who hid behind aliases and fake photos. Now trolling can be referring to even passing criticism of a celebrity or public figure. I don’t think this is a good thing as I believe the cowards hiding behind keyboards deserve an exclusive epithet and “troll” more than fits.
Of course, irrational criticism of celebrities wasn’t born during the internet age but it seems like our online world has either shone a spotlight onto it or brought a lot of scum rising to the surface. The fine folks at Jimmy Kimmel Live know how to make a joke out of it:
But take a look at some of those twitter handles. Very few use a proper name and who knows if that’s even a real name.
The internet gives voice to the voiceless in many grand ways explored by both symbolic and practical activism. But it also gives voice to the voiceless who have found no other way of expressing themselves productively.
Let me be very clear though, this blog is not meant as an indictment against online criticism. This blog is an indictment of those who criticize without taking responsibility for their words and actions. I like to debate and discuss a wide-range of topics on my twitter account (@handsometimmyd, go on, give a follow if you’re so inclined) but I have one policy: People can disagree with me all they want but anyone using a fake alias and/or doesn’t have a picture of a real person gets only one reply – and that’s usually to tell them they’re blocked.
(Now might be a good time to mention I will employ a similar policy on this blog. Disagreement, vehement or otherwise, is more than welcome in the comment section. Name-calling of myself or others will not be approved by this handsome devil.)
See, it’s hard to argue with someone in your real voice using your real face. That requires the possibility of consequences. It SUCKS being wrong, doesn’t it? No one likes to be wrong, even fewer like to admit it. But it happens to the best of us. I’ve been wrong hundreds of times (back in 2002, I thought the Iraq War was a good idea until the WMDs were evidently not in existence. I’ve gotten numerous technical details wrong. I’ve had to admit when I’ve written the wrong thing in a script or produced an episode of TV in the wrong direction. In 1996, I even thought the internet would be a fad soon to tire out. Yup, I was wrong about all that shit.) The sun still rises and sets of course. As much as it sucks to be wrong about stuff, it’s simply part of the human experience, much like failure that I’ve written about before. But there’s something refreshing about writing about all that stuff openly – I can say (hell, I just put it in writing) that I’m man enough to admit that I’ve been wrong and not only that, learned quite a lot from those and other experiences of being “wrong.”
It’s funny but the older I get, which is each passing minute, the more I can admit I don’t know – and ironically, that makes me feel a lot smarter.
So everyone hates to be wrong. If there’s anyone out there who likes it, I’ve not had the pleasure of meeting them. But there’s more to it than that. Hiding behind a keyboard and alias not only hides you from consequence – it hides you from hurt. Maybe Victorhcj reveals everything about himself in his profile somewhere. I don’t know but I doubt it. Because when you hide behind an alias you can say “YOU SUCK” all day long at people – and no one can say “YOU SUCK” back at you, not really.
Attacking people like this is engaging in a kind of modern day duel. But it’s a duel that goes only one way. The target gets all the rocks thrown at them, but the rocks that are thrown back are sent to the alias – not the true identity of the attacker. That person can go about their day, feeling like they’ve accomplished something or giving themselves a false sense of superiority because they took it upon themselves to act like some of kind of digital Grover Norquist, thinking they speak for the rest of us. In the example above, VictorPussyface speaks for “a significant amount of people” who hate Wil Wheaton because “he sucks.” Whatever scientific method he used to take this survey and the exact statistical results of said survey, he elected not to post.
“But Tim, you’re calling Victor names and I may have seen you tweet John Boehner calling him an asshole once or twice. Isn’t that hypocritical of you? What’s the difference?” I don’t think it’s hypocritical at all. You see, I’m not hiding. I’m Tim Davis. My resume is available online at imdb and linkedin. I appear regularly on a podcast. My personal email is easy to find and my phone number is on my calling card which is all over town.
I got into a very fierce debate with John Cusack on twitter last year about the Edward Snowden gambit. I didn’t troll him. I didn’t name-call him. We just debated several points and I didn’t hide behind any alias. He was debating with Tim Davis. He knows my name & he knows my face. I wasn’t some weird troll with a weirder name or a stupid picture. In fact, I’m guessing Mr. Cusack engaged me in debate for so long BECAUSE I didn’t hide behind keyboard courage. God knows, celebrities hear from countless nameless trolls every day, and as much as he disagreed with me, I wouldn’t be surprised if I got a hearty handshake from him one day over the whole affair.
And it’s not just celebrities. I’m going to share three cases of anonymous trolling in my life. They were some parts hurtful, borderline frightening and all equally pathetic.
The first occurred when I was in High School. I was pranked called regularly by someone who instilled a fair amount of verbal abuse toward me. They always used a different name when calling but never their real one. It being small-town New Jersey, it wasn’t hard to figure out who it was. I could tell you his name but it wouldn’t mean anything to you. His main purpose was trying to goad me into a meeting or confrontation. He told me to meet him at several points at certain times. I took him up on none of these rendezvous figuring that physical harm was on the agenda and who needs that? We came close to calling the police but after hanging up on him so many times, he got bored and moved on to God knows what. I don’t know where he is or what he’s up to. And I don’t care.
The second occurred in 2004. Remember Friendster? Well, I was new to LA and someone set up a dummy account for the sole purpose of sending me one email. The account was called “Cheez Whiz” and I doubt that appears on any birth certificate. And there was no profile picture. The gist of the email? I was unwelcome in LA amongst my group of friends. No one in LA liked me and also that despite my best efforts, I was ugly and bald. This letter came at a particularly low period of time. I was recently in a car accident and going through a very tough transition at work. I hate to admit it, but this letter threw me for a loop. I asked several of my friends what they thought of it and was given many numerous assurances that yes, I was indeed welcome in LA and that whoever sent the letter was the real asshole. Really didn’t take that much to eventually figure out who it was that wrote that one either. I’ve never confronted the person for 2 reasons 1) Deference to mutual friends. I don’t want people to worry about inviting both of us to a party in case of drama 2) Is there really any point? More on that later.
And you know what’s even more ironic, I was put in a position a few times to help this person out – and I did. You know why? Because I’m not the person they think I am – I’m a lot better person than they think I am.
The third instance I’m going to tell you about came up because of this blog. Yup, I got my first piece of hate mail on my piece about guns “Just Another Day In America.” It was from a dummy account under the name “Ed.” No picture, of course. This person had this to say – and this is the one and only time I will allow abusive comments like this on the blog and it’s simply for context:
Knew this POS trust fund baby when he lived in Boston. Arrogant beyond belief. Especially for a guy with hair grown nearly down to the small of his back in order to compensate for his advanced male pattern baldness. (FYI: Everyone laughed about it behind your back.) So nice to know that back in those days you were screaming into your laundry basket when you weren’t being a condescending prick to anyone who wasn’t a woman, a racial minority, a homosexual, or uglier than you. Btw, how’s your talk show that you used to tell everyone you’d have?
I find the last part weird because the talk show I told everyone about was the podcast I’m part of now. The Dan & Travis Show. It’s awesome. Check it out. We did it in 2002 during the infancy of internet radio and we restarted it last year. And it was very easy to find via google, so Ed can’t even do simple homework (always important when throwing stones).
(Side-note about the hairline thing: It’s low and crude to attack someone for something they have little-to-no control over. Ed, like Cheez-Whiz, sound like that goofy thug in “Roxanne” saying “big nose” because I can come with 20 better jokes off the top of my head easy.)
Ed here decided to attack me opening up about personal pain here. Well, I’m a writer. Every writer will have to be honest with themselves and write about their personal pain for all the world to see. If he thinks this is detracting me from doing more opening up about personal pain, I have disappointing news for him. In fact, I have A LOT of disappointing news for him in a bit.
So, you may be asking yourself – well shit, Tim, did you deserve this? Ed from Boston says you were arrogant beyond belief. Were you arrogant? Were you an asshole? Were you some kind of prick? Did you say things that hurt people’s feelings? Did you offend people, however accidentally?
Of course, I did. I’m plenty guilty of things like that. Like being wrong, it’s part of the human experience. Anyone NOT full of piss & vinegar in their 20’s? (And if you weren’t, MAN did you miss out.) Am I arrogant? I think my confidence has slid to the arrogant/egotistic side at times. Sure, I’ll cop to that. There’s always room for lessons in humility. Am I an asshole? Well, of course there have been many situations and conversations I wish I handled better but that’s certainly not unique to me. We’ve all had those. There are plenty of people in this world who don’t like me. But here’s the interesting thing: many of the reasons some people don’t like me are the very reasons other people like me. So what in the world did I do to make these people so upset that they had to sum up all of their false internet bravery to anonymously try to hurt my feelings.
Because trolling has one purpose and one purpose only: to hurt people.
Besides, any betterment I’ve received as a person has been face to face from real friends – not unsigned letters from gutless trolls.
Like I said, I know who two of these people are (sorry, “Ed’, for the life of me, I have no clue who you are). And when I looked at their lives then looked at mine, I realized what I had done. I wasn’t being trolled because I was an asshole sometimes. I was being trolled from the very opposite reason. Here’s my great sin:
I’m a happy and successful person.
(Yeah, OK, I’m a lot more outspoken and opinionated than some others which will of course lead to being targeted more – though I’m not sure how that justifies being trolled. Especially because I am an easy to find open book who is more than happy to talk about anything.)
But when I look at the totality of my life and accomplishments, I can see what makes these sad people so angry:
-My closest friends are truly golden human beings anyone reading this would be glad to know. I can’t begin to describe my luck when I think of the people I’m closest with.
-I’m in a healthy, long-term relationship with a successful, intelligent and beautiful woman with no low standards. (It doesn’t hurt that I can cook too)
-I have 614 Facebook friends & believe it or not, I’m selective. If I can’t see myself having lunch with you, I’m not approving the friend request.
-I have worked alongside, learned from and been instructional to some of the most talented people in my chosen profession. My services have been requested by some of the best crews in Los Angeles. My skills as a writer have been endorsed by movie producers, film festivals and other more-acclaimed writers. That is not only an honor, it’s a privilege.
-I have close to 800 twitter followers, not always folks I know but many acquired through networking as I transition from reality to scripted.
-I’m also blessed and fortunate to be able to say that I have friends and family who would put me up in the following cities; Seattle, Phoenix, Boston, Salem, Baltimore, Minneapolis, Houston, Chicago, Orlando, Gibbsboro, Las Vegas, New York, San Francisco, and London. I know this because they’ve told me “You have to visit us.”
-I say none of this with any kind of arrogance. It may literally be impossible for me to truly express the gratitude I feel for the life I’m living. And the same can be said for so many of the people I choose to spend my precious time with. People who worked hard and smart to live the lives they want on the paths they’ve chosen.
-I’ve been successful in every profession I’ve endeavored on, from being promoted to the corporate office at City Sports to writing copy for Stone Cold Steve Austin. I smile as I go about my day. I dance in the shower. I sing in the car. When I set out into the world, I know that I’m in my own small way, helping. I’ve followed my bliss. Just like Wil Wheaton. Just like countless other celebrities. Just like countless other successful people who are not famous but are living happy lives as I type this. Just like anyone who looks in the mirror and likes what they see.
And THAT’S what the trolls can’t stand. When others are happy – and they’re not. So instead of following their own bliss or doing what they can to make themselves either happier or at least on the way to happiness, it’s easier to try to tear down others. Especially from behind an internet shield where they can hide their plentiful vulnerabilities, insecurities and hurts.
Because underneath every angry, hateful line a troll is writing, is one underlying thought:
“How dare you try to be happy when I’m not?”
For my past sins, anyone whom I owe an apology to has gotten it. I will, however, never ever under any circumstances apologize for being successful or trying to be happy. No one should ever apologize for that.
Because to take to a nameless, faceless identity to attack someone, God almighty. That’s a bit more than just an asshole move. It’s not merely pathetic or weak or gutless or petty.
To be so consumed by hatred and anger and jealousy – whatever world these guys and other anonymous internet keyboard haters inhabit is a frightening and sad place. I hope you, dear reader, and I never end up there.
So, Ed, Cheez-Whiz and every other internet troll hiding behind a keyboard: YES, I dare to be happy. And I will continue to be happy. I will continue to endeavor and bust my ass every day to further my career. I will continue to improve my writing skills. I will continue to try to be a better, more generous, more thoughtful, more considerate person. I will continue to blog my thoughts and opinions under my real name Tim Davis (and my wrestling-bump earned nickname of Handsome Timmy D) for the world to see, read, enjoy and disagree with.
Over the past 15 years, I can think of about 6 or 7 people whom I truly despise. A handful of folks whom I find irredeemable in any way, folks whom I can say I truly HATE. I think about them sometimes, my blood boils for a few minutes – and then I move on with my day. I do my best to keep them in the rearview because that’s how I handle people I hate. I have nothing to do with them. No contact whatsoever, via social media or otherwise (again apart from mutual politeness for the benefit of our friends). They become non-issues in my life aside from what the memory triggers.
I want to have a happy, successful and productive life. I want to laugh and be giddy and over the top and goofy and silly and dance like there’s no tomorrow. And no matter how bad a day, no matter how stressed or overwhelmed I get, no matter who vehemently I argue my points – I just don’t ever want to live a life where I hurt people.
I hadn’t thought of the prank caller in years, Cheez-Whiz I still see now and then but Ed’s hateful email brought them to the surface. But return to the rearview they will where I’m sure they’ll be joined by more future anonymous trolls.
However, Ed did me an accidental favor. I went onto social media outlets announcing that this dear old blog had received its first piece of hate mail. The result? The traffic on the blog Skyrocketed to see what the hubbub was about:
Funny, but it looks like a middle finger right at Ed, doesn’t it? It was my most read day and almost served as a kind of coming out party for me as I’m restarting this blog and am still building my readership. And that’s how I have to take that hate-mail just like how people should take every bit of anonymous trolling: Just another sign of success.
When you leave a comment on here, you have to give an email so with Ed’s trolling was an email address. I don’t know if it was his real email address or not. I wasn’t going to reply because it’s best not to fight on their terms, but because my traffic exploded, I couldn’t resist. Just in case he hijacked someone else’s email, I hid the real name I found when I researched it. But here’s the email I sent to him. To the surprise of no one, there’s been no reply.
After all, there’s bravery quite like anonymous internet bravery:
Hello Ed or (name excised),
You gave the name Ed to wordpress but when I researched your email, I found the name “(excised)”. If you are neither of these people, then your email has been hijacked or erroneously used & I apologize for bothering you on this lovely Saturday.
If I am addressing the person who commented on my blog, though, I must first Thank You Very Much for your interest and comments. However, I have a policy of not allowing name-calling in the comments sections so I’m afraid I couldn’t approve your comment.
I must Thank You again though because when I publicized your comment as my first piece of hate-mail (you must admit, it was on the hateful side) the traffic to my blog DOUBLED in an hour. Today has been my highest traffic/read day so far so Thanks to your comment, you’ve been able to contribute to my growing digital popularity. I’m new at this blogging thing so I appreciate all the help I can get.
I have to correct you on one small detail, I am not associated with nor ever have been associated with any trust funds. I earned every dollar I ever got, whether in retail or over the past 10 years as a Television Producer in which I contributed to shows which have entertained millions of people around the world.
You claim to know me well, but for the life of me, I cannot remember you who are. (No Eds or xx ring a bell, xx or otherwise) Sorry, but try as I might, I’ve not lived in Boston or on the East Coast for over 12 years so forgive me for not recalling you out of the hundreds of people I knew & worked with during those years.
I wish you all the best – and quite frankly, hope you find some peace in the world instead of anonymously attacking people you haven’t seen in over a decade. Take Care.
May The Best Days Be Ahead… —————
Tim Davis Writer/Producer handsometimmyd.wordpress.com
In this golden age of television and comic book movies, the internet has presented a big problem: SPOILERS!! Every so often, my Facebook page (and I’m guessing yours, too) explodes with a debate about the etiquette for what to say when, how to say it or if it should come with a warning. Fortunately, though, like any internet problem, there’s a solution often found by spending a few minutes on a search engine.
Recently, a news site presented on-set pictures from an eagerly awaited sci-fi epic which featured a familiar spaceship possibly returning. This really is no surprise as said familiar spaceship appeared in every other live-action chapter of this franchise but still many on the internet cried “SPOILER” so I thought this would be a good time to write some thoughts about the Spoiler pandemic, about what I’ve done and what you can do to protect yourself. So read on – and I highly encourage you to spread the word about what you read here. Not to promote my blog (but cheers anyway!) but to help save the internet. Kidding, but kinda not.
****JUST TO BE SAFE: The following blog contains spoilers for Alien3, Watership Down and Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan. I can’t recommend the latter two enough, by the by.
To be clear, I HATE SPOILERS. I think they ruin the fun and overall experience of a television program or movie or stage-play et al. There was an article that went around recently called “Why Spoilers don’t actually matter.” I never read it and won’t. I’ve had enough things ruined for me to know that they do matter.
Full disclosure, dear reader: I do actively seek spoilers on one thing and that’s Doctor Who. For whatever reason, maybe because I’m so close to it and want to be so informed about it, I don’t want to be left in the dark. But I seek those out. I find the key and unlock them. I don’t broadcast them for all to hear. (And I have made that mistake, so I’m not trying to talk about this from a high horse. I have unintentionally spoiled things for people – and it’s a shit feeling)
There’s also the case of inaccurate spoilers. I won’t go into the details of the infamous Red Wedding from Game Of Thrones – but the so-called spoilers I got were well inaccurate so some surprise was maintained there. (Game Of Thrones deserves a shout-out, though. I know the Red Wedding was coming in Season Three, but there were THREE different weddings being prepared and built up toward, so I’m watching going “Which one is gonna be the Red Wedding?” Confusion or extra info can be an interesting way to combat spoilers. The folks did that during Star Trek II, when rumors of Spock’s demise leaked, they added the “Aren’t you dead line?” jokes from Kirk to Spock in the beginning to give the audience a false sense of security. Brilliant!)
And of course, as a person in the industry, one hears spoilers from everyday conversations and scripts passed around. I know more about next summer’s blockbusters than I’d like but that’s from the inside. I would NEVER post such information online out of 1) professional courtesy 2) I don’t spoil it for people who want to see those pictures. Because I know how much it sucks to have things spoiled.
I’ve had the following things, among many, spoiled for me:
-The ending of a season of Breaking Bad.
-The ending of Torchwood: Children of Earth
-A very specific death in Game Of Thrones.
Yup, Alien3. (I don’t know how or care to know how to type the stupid squared thing) Way back in 1991, I was reading Premiere magazine (remember that?) and in one of the first paragraphs about Alien3, the reporter described in detail how piping hot lead was being used to the destroy the Alien. This was a few months before it came out. No warning or anything. The action climax of the duel with the monster right there for all to see.
Suffice to say I was pissed and disappointed. Granted, that’s not the sole reason why Alien3 sucks (a prison full of rapists, murderers & serial killers? Um, OK, I’m rooting for the Alien. And no one is raping Ripley. No fucking way. But more on the Alien sage next week, rest assured.)
Still I was incensed that some magazine author arbitrarily decided that THAT point was not salient enough to be protected so naive readers like me could be, I don’t know, surprised and caught up in the movie. When I brought this episode up in film class a few years later, I was taken to task by my classmates. “The ending of the film is the least important part,” I distinctly remember one of them yelling that at me. We didn’t become friends.
This discussion rages on today on Facebook and twitter and all over the blogosphere. I’ve always advocated that a “SPOILER ALERT” type warning should accompany ANY potential spoiler (see above). I’m glad people are so excited about movies and TV they run to the internet to say “I can’t believe such-and-such just happened.” I’ve been blessed to work on shows that make people that excited and am equally excited to work on more. But I don’t think there’s any excuse to not give a “head’s up, I’m gonna talk about something you may not want to hear.” In my mind, that’s never been (and still isn’t) difficult.
But not everyone (in fact, far from everyone) agrees with me.
“Spoiler Alerts don’t work,” argue some. They always have for me. I see spoiler alert, I scroll past.
“People who complain about spoilers are telling others they can’t talk about the shows they like,” I can sort of see how this is implied (not really, I’m being generous) but don’t see how a spoiler alert is equal to shut up.
“Just stay offline or off social media for a few days,” Um, just not realistic in this day and age. And we are coming closer and closer to a day when we will never be offline. Good/Bad, Right/Wrong, it’s true.
So what to do? When we’re in a bar or at parties we show consideration. You wouldn’t scream the ending of True Detective out loud in the middle of a room where people hadn’t seen it, would you? (The fine gents at Script Notes left their TD segment on the end of a show with many warnings for anyone who hadn’t seen it.) You wouldn’t discuss the twist ending of a movie as you leave the theatre in front of the line of folks waiting to get in, would you?
People have a tremendous sense of etiquette and common courtesy – except for the internet, it seems. Or at least, we haven’t reached universal accepted behavior there just yet. (I just learned the phrase trolling can apply to any kind of critic online. What the fuck is that?)
And like Fiver coming to that realization of a dog loose in the woods in Watership Down, I remembered something. A conversation I had weeks ago. A friend of mine of on Facebook commented that he didn’t want a bunch of sports comments in his feed (this may have been for the NFL playoffs, I don’t remember) I recommended an app that blocked sports scores from social media.
After a recent debate about spoiler etiquette, I remembered this app and researched. Not only did I find it, I found several. And that’s probably the thing that shocked me the most about the various Spoiler debates I’d had. We actually have the power to block Spoilers from our online life – and just not enough people know about it. Long threads of “you do this,” “no, you do this” can be eliminated by any of links – freeing us up to watch more TV!
For the past month, I’ve been using The Chrome Unspoiler:
Effectiveness: I’d say about 95-98% Simply install in your browser and type in what you don’t want spoiled. It’s a good idea to include character names and keywords as well as the title. That sounds like a pain but actually only takes a few seconds. News articles, blogs, social media are personally and selectively shielded so you don’t see anything you don’t want to see yet. Not so ironically, Breaking Bad is the default. Every spoiler blocked is presented with the option to show it. You can turn as many options on and off as many times as you wish. This has been a lifesaver.
Now it’s not 100%, as I said. One noticeable gap is that it won’t hide the Facebook trending column to the right, at least not yet, so be warned on that one. And sometimes a headline will flash for a second or two before it’s blocked.
Works for both iphone and Android. Has great reviews from many users.
I haven’t found anything that’s as good as the Unspoiler. It might be out there and if you find it please post a link in the comments section. There is however, a comments blocker. (And gosh, if some websites don’t desperately need that)
So anyone mad about seeing the spaceship reveal from Star Wars, download one of these, install it and type in Star Wars – because those are only going to get worse between now and December 2015.
(And parents, these apps may be useful for parental control measures as well)
So the next time you’re on Facebook and you hear someone bitch about spoilers or someone bitching about someone bitching about spoilers – send them to these links or apps. One of them will absolutely solve the problem.
We’re the on-demand generation. We’re twisting media to our personal demands, regular programming schedules be damned. (I JUST started Justified, for example) We decide what and when we watch TV, movies or listen to music. So if only follows that we’ll be exposed to spoilers – but only when we want.
If these links work for you, help spread the word. We can make the internet a nicer place to discuss things we disagree on. And any other spoiler solutions are more than welcome in the comments section. Thanks!