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November 30, 2008

Amazing Stories

Lately, Netflix added the television show Amazing Stories to their instant viewing selection. This was a show from 1985, created by Stephen Spielberg, and it's very unusual in that every episode is a brand new, unrelated story. Kind of like The Twilight Zone, but without a common host. They are fanciful stories, and they really are mostly a ton of fun. I loved this show when I was younger, and now it's fun because my kids really enjoy it, too. It reminds me of the days when the whole family would watch a show together, and it could be equally appealing to adults and children alike. Pixar is really one of the only companies that tries to do this anymore.

Does anyone remember this show?

Posted by jason on 07:36 PM | Comments (12)

November 29, 2008

The Channel Islands

Did you know that 20 miles off the coast of Ventura County there are 5 completely undeveloped islands? I didn't until just recently, but we visited them today. I'll give pictures and more details later, but long story short: The island we visited, Santa Cruz, was amazing. It's 96 square miles. It's HUGE. And there are 140 species that ONLY live there. Cliffs and beautiful clear greenish blue waters and dolphins and seals. Just heaven on earth, and exactly the kinds of places I dream about being.

Posted by jason on 01:19 AM | Comments (4)

November 25, 2008

Yet Another Fade Out

I just wrote the final page of my latest screenplay, titled REMATCH. I'm sure it needs work, but I think it just might kind of rock. It's kind of like a meditation on second chances, and losing things you love to really truly gain them, and learning lessons later in life. It's kind of like Dennis Quaid's baseball movie, THE ROOKIE, only with football and with more humor. (I don't mean plotwise really, but just in terms of feel and emotion.)

Of course it's 2.26 AM and I'm very tired so my senses and intuition aren't completely to be trusted right now. I'm hoping in terms of football films, it's JERRY MCGUIRE, but it might just be NECESSARY ROUGHNESS or THE REPLACEMENTS.

I finished WELL ADJUSTED BOY as my first UCLA MFA program screenplay last december. Since last december I've written WELL ADJUSTED BOY, HER 14th MISSION, THE KINGDOM OF TOVENRAY, MARRY THE MAN TODAY, and now REMATCH. I love the pace UCLA forces me to keep, 5 screenplays in less than a year seriously rocks rocks rocks.

And actually I kind of have to write one more screenplay during the winter break (I've been tentatively calling it A FARAWAY FOGGY LAND while my producer has been calling it AN AMERICAN PRINCESS), so that will technically be 6 completed screenplays in one year. Which is stupidly crazily awesome.

Posted by jason on 05:25 AM | Comments (8)

November 23, 2008

Essential Ingredients to a Good Day

I was thinking about a good day. Not a perfect day, not your dream day, but just a normal good day. And then I was thinking about what kind of has to happen for that to be a good day. Nothing extraordinary, nothing particularly amazing even, just the basic building blocks of a good day. For instance, I love to hike and play basketball, but I can very easily have a good day without doing either of those things (though I wouldn't say I can have a good week without doing one of those things as easily.) Do you see what I'm saying here?

So that being said, here are my ingredients to a Good Day (in no particular order). What are yours?

1) Enough sleep. How much is enough? More than 6 hours.

2) 45 minutes of physical activity. I'll settle for the Elliptical, but I'd rather play basketball, soccer, or football, hike, something like that.

3) Write 5 pages. Generally speaking for me, of a screenplay. And then spend time writing something else, too. Note: things can stand in for the screenplay. If I'm developing a story, treatments or outlines will work. So too would a play. I haven't started writing it yet, but so would a novel. Blog posts don't count for me. Truly, blog posts are kind of a small form of writerly procrastination for me. Like right now, when I'm taking a small break from writing my latest screenplay.

4) A moment of connection and closeness with Darby, Lyric, or Ollie (and really all three). Preferably an extended moment of connection.

5) Those three getting along with each other.

6) Contact with other friends and loved ones, family. Be it face to face, email, text, facebook. I love to feel like I matter in people's lives, and knowing that they matter in mine.

7) Helping someone with something.

8) Listening to and singing along to music.

9) A shower.

10) *Wink* Romance *Wink*

11) Learning something new. Seeing something new. Opening my eyes to something I've never even realized existed.

12) Peanut Butter. I can't help it. I love the stuff.

13) Mail!!! This is why Sunday could never be my favorite day. You never KNOW what you're going to get in the mail.

14) Being outside.

So there you have it. What are yours?

PS. Wow #9-12, taken together, are just kind of wrong... I should have spaced those out maybe.

Posted by jason on 01:26 AM | Comments (15)

November 21, 2008

On pins and needles

In a word, I'm stressed these days. I wish I was too blessed to be stressed, but I fear I may indeed be the opposite. My scripts are being read by three different agents and I'm trying to be peaceful about it but the waiting is really difficult. I've been successful doing a number of things in my lifetime, but this is one of the first times I've dived full on into something I really cared about. I wish I didn't care so much, actually, so I'm trying to pretend I don't. I know this whole process is one big waiting game. But wow, the waiting is killing me.

I met with my playwrite teacher, Hanay, today, to talk about my first draft of my one act play, "Why Are You Here?" He was very positive about it, so that's good. I have a bit of a rewrite to do to address some of his questions, but nothing drastic and in fact he gave great notes because it'll make the piece stronger. I'm excited about it. But the rewrite is due Monday...

And I also have, oh, another half of a feature to write by next Monday. I'm not stressed about those things though. It's the agents reading my scripts.

Truly though, if they don't like what they read, it's simply not a good fit. I have to find that perfect representation, a person who is passionate about my writing and believes in it. So if this isn't them, that's ok, they wouldn't make for good representation anyway.

But still, it's stressful!

Posted by jason on 02:19 AM | Comments (9)

November 18, 2008

a break in the reign of jason.

hello, this is shane.
i thought i'd make a post on here just to see if i still remember how to.

while i'm at it, look at this picture:
the look machine has a vanagon

Posted by shane on 09:20 PM | Comments (7)

November 17, 2008

A perfectly long day

Today was one of those perfectly long days that somehow had enough time for much more than any one day deserves. Church at 9 am (trying the earlier Westside Vineyard service this time. Most likely not going to make a habit of it. VERY nice people, but just not right for us. But seriously, so kind and caring about the community. We'll be trying the 9 am Mosaic Meeting in Pasadena now.)

So church at 9 am, then lunch at a famous restaurant here in LA called the "pacific dining car," that opened in the 1920's. It felt a ton like a place my dad's dad would have taken us, The Brown Derby (in Oxford, PA, not Hollywood, but the Oxford PA one was inspired by the Hollywood one) where we'd try to pretend we had table manners and generally be nervous the whole time we'd be found out. It was plush reds and dark woods and posh and old fashioned. If we had known all this, we probably wouldn't have taken the kids, but we survived with only an overly expensive bill.

Then we shopped for wetsuits for Lyric and Ollie. Let me tell you, they look adorable on them. Ollie's is red in blue, and he looks like spiderman.

Then, yes, on November 16th, we went bodyboarding on the beach. We got there at 2 PM and stayed until sunset. Though the water was a chilled 60 degrees, our wetsuits did the trick and we just had a great time. One of those stolen "wow this is much more fun than it really should be" moments that we'll all probably remember and yet hadn't been planned further than a couple of hours in advance. Darby was pulling Ollie around the surf on his bodyboard, his board turning quickly and often knocking him off in fits of laughter. "This is OUT OF CONTROL!," he exclaimed with the kind of pure unbridled glee that parents pray to hear come out of their children.

There were seals and dolphins and pelicans and sandpipers and anemones and crabs. Seals! Just lazily swimming not 20 feet from us. (Yes seals could mean sharks I know that, but not today!)

Then I went to Mosaic's evening service with my good friend Matt and we were inspired by Erwin's message on the risk inherent in being a creative person, and in being actively creative. We had quite a conversation ourselves about it on the ride back from downtown LA.

Then I was able to get home, finished my pilot treatment, have an intense, long conversation with Darby. Load a new version of our iPhone software and test it (it froze again, Ugh!), and now this.

Now tell me that isn't a week's worth of awesome crammed into one day?

Posted by jason on 04:28 AM | Comments (6)

November 14, 2008

Working Together

Tonight I attended the class of a producing student that I'm working with to develop a screenplay that I will ultimately write and she will use as her graduate thesis. She'll have to put together a full marketing plan and package to try to get it set up.

I'm mostly doing this for the experience, and to create good relationships with the producing students. Also, the story we're writing is intriguing to me. And, this producing student works for a very prestigious organization, and may be able to get some of my scripts to the right people there, which could make for a great opportunity (vague, I know. Hit me up for more details if you know me and want them.)

I like working with this producer, but so far this hasn't been easy. It's easier, of course, for me to just write a story and go with all my own instincts because that's what I'm then excited about and these things build upon each other. Even if I have to go back and change things after the fact, for that first rush of storytelling I personally like to move forward quickly. Anyway, there are just some different styles at work here, and again, this is a great learning experience for me to be able to work within this different process.

So tonight, at the class, all her producing peers were discussing the treatment we had submitted. And it's just funny working with someone else, because inevitably they will throw a curveball, intentionally or not. So we're talking to everyone about this fantastic, enchanted world in our story, a faraway foggy island that cannot be reached by normal boats because it's magical. People are asking what this island looks like, and my partner says, "Oh, everything there is very high tech and modern!" Now this was the first I'd heard this, and I had always thought it would be idealized chinese / asian architecture with a magical / fantasy overlay. but this started a pretty big uproar among the producing students, all of whom wanted to know why I would make that choice for this story, and what I'm trying to accomplish with that...

Of course, I'm not one to reveal any stresses on a team, so I rolled with it, saying that we're still working to flesh out the details of the way the island looks and feels, and some of the technology might actually be magic and enchantment, that kind of thing, not really ipods and skyscrapers.

It was a funny, but strange experience!

PS. She apparently also slipped an American Idol-like scene into the treatment that people didn't like, and this choice was again attributed to me. I just kind of said we'd examine that and see if maybe it doesn't work in the flow of the story.

PPS. Overall it was a good experience, don't let me give you the wrong impression. I like this relationship. But as in any relationship, things can get unpredictable!

Posted by jason on 03:36 AM | Comments (4)

November 13, 2008

My One Act Play

I reached the end of my first draft. It definitely needs some tweaking, but I'm really happy with it, because I wrote a play, and made it very different from a screenplay, in all the best ways that theatre is different than film, (I think.)

It's always funny. At the beginning of the quarter, which was just September 27th, I started this class thinking, what in the world am I going to write? Now, just a month and a half later, I have 28 pages of emotion, drama, dialogue, and character that didn't exist before. I just love the way things get pulled out of my spirit when they have to be. It blows my mind to think during this same 6 week period, I could have NOT written this play and then it wouldn't exist. I know this is a really simple concept, but think for a moment that Shakespeare could have not written Hamlet. Copolla could have not made the Godfather. Jefferson could have not written the Declaration of Independence. I'm not saying that what I just wrote is on the level of any of these works, but still, in all cases, someone had to sit down and actually go ahead and put those words to paper, choosing to not do something else, and instead focus on this.

Think for a second. Is there a Hamlet, a Godfather, a Declaration trying to be born? And are you looking for it, or ignoring it? Because I really believe that you have to listen carefully and coax gently and do everything you can to draw these works out of your creative heart.

it's late, have to work on something else.

That's it.

Posted by jason on 02:22 AM | Comments (11)

November 11, 2008

and suddenly, I'm behind on a lot of things

So the quarters going along and la la la it's fun and creatively inspirational and gee isn't this cool and then... slam. All of a sudden all these things are due.

In the next two weeks I have to:
Finish my feature script (about 50-60ish pages left to write)
Finish my one act play (about 15 pages and a ton of polish)
Figure out the new script I'm writing with the producing student (I had a long meeting with her today and just finished writing a new treatment. I will have to write this screenplay during winter break. Fun Fun!)
Prepare a presentation and final paper for another class I have
Write full character breakdown from my 30 minute TV comedy show, and also a first episode outline.
Continue to go back and forth with the Indian developers to finalize the iPhone application.

It can be pretty taxing. But better than doing nothing I suppose...

Annoying little Indian developer story. Our Indian developers sent me our content database, because I was going to make corrections to the way it was displaying apostrophes, quotations marks, and hard breaks. I was told to replace apostrophes with \' and quotations with \" and put a \n whenever I wanted a line break.

I didn't have a program to open the database they sent, and when I told the developer he sent me a link for a program called mySQL lite.

I took a ton of time to go through all our content and make these changes. It was not easy, very time consuming, mundane busy work. I send him the updated database. He writes back, "Because you used the mySQL lite program, you didn't need to add the \',\", and \n. Please remove them and resend. "

!?#@##$

What??

I had to spend another bunch of time now removing them! He said that the directions he gave previously were assuming I'd use some other program. But they sent me the program I used! I shake my fist in the air at them.

Anyway, that's another thing I just finished.

So I was on campus from 11 am till 10.30, got home, worked on the treatment and database until now (2 am) and now I finally go to bed. Buckle up, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

Posted by jason on 05:02 AM | Comments (11)

November 09, 2008

So close and yet so far...

Things have been strange lately.

There are so many positives going on, yet so many of them are mostly positive only in their potential. I have not one, but two situations which could result in me having an excellent agent, and another possibility with a group of producers which continues to simmer. Both agent scenarios involve UCLA professors personally recommending me, which I greatly appreciate. Yet I know that all of these amazing going-ons could result in zilch... nothing.

This is probably the life I've chosen for myself, because at no level are things every "automatic." They are almost always a great deal of potentially awesome things that may or (more likely) may not pan out. I have to develop the fortitude to just suck it up and deal with it.

Today we visited the Westside Vineyard in Venice. Darby and I will continue to go to an evening service at Mosaic (one of us going with a mutual friend every other week), but for the kids we're trying to find a better situation. We'll see if this is it. On the one hand, they do a great job at community outreach, the pastor seems like a genuinely nice person who gave a good, practical teaching, and Ollie liked the Sunday School. One the other hand, it felt very churchy, and not in a good way. I can't help but find the language and culture of an extremely churched up environment really uncomfortable, it just seems as disconnected from real life and real emotions as a Hallmark Card.

Posted by jason on 10:27 PM | Comments (11)

November 07, 2008

How the US voted

Here's a great bunch of maps about the way the US voted on Tuesday.

Posted by jason on 12:32 PM | Comments (3)

November 05, 2008

Obama-McCain at the Latshaw Household

Thought it might be fun to repeat some of the comments that were going on around here last night.

First of all, it's no secret we don't live in a Republican stronghold here in LA. Because of this, Lyric made the following observation: "I'll be surprised if McCain gets ONE vote because NOBODY likes him. Seriously, NOBODY that I've talked to is voting for him."

At one point while we were watching the election returns Lyric said, "They should call him McCan't!"

At one moment Ollie lifted his hand in the air and yelled, "Boo McCain, we hate you." Now I don't know what kind of propaganda these kids are being fed, but I didn't want them to be fanatics, so I proceeded to explain to them that McCain is not a bad, evil man, and shouldn't be hated. "What's good about McCain?" Lyric asks. I explained to them that McCain was a veteran of the Vietnam War, and a prisoner of war. And that it was the same War that Pap, Darby's dad, served in.

Now this little connection, despite us trying to convince him otherwise the rest of the night, somehow made Ollie believe that Pap and McCain are BEST FRIENDS. He kept asking things like "Do you think Pap called McCain yet to tell him he's sorry he lost to Obama?" and, during the concession speech, "Is Pap in the crowd there? I think I saw Pap!"

One last bit to add: Ollie asked who we thought was a faster runner, McCain or Obama. When asked why he wanted to know, he answered, "Because then I can tell you who will win the race to be President!"

Posted by jason on 04:22 PM | Comments (9)

Cute Ollie Story

Ollie accompanied me to the Apple Store tonight, which is always bunch of fun. He asked me what it's like being a grown-up. I told him that it's great, and one of the best things about it is having kids.

He said he definitely wants kids, but doesn't know who he can marry because everyone he loves the most – Lyric, Darby, Cosi, are all related to him. I mentioned his friend Capria as a girl who knows that he would be allowed to marry, and he said he couldn't because it would be embarrassing because she's younger than him and everyone knows that Mommys should be older than Daddys. I guess Darby and my example set that impression in his head.

Finally he just said... "I guess what I'll have to do is just find a cute girl and hang onto her." Which I thought was hilarious. But then he said, "Oh, but I don't want to have to go on a Honeymoon with her." To which I answered, "But it's just a fun vacation you get to take." He thought about that and answered, "Ok, yeah, I think I'll take her to Legoland, then!"

So, future wife of Ollie, where ever you are, being cute... you have a romantic trip to Legoland to look forward to.

Posted by jason on 12:26 AM | Comments (9)

November 04, 2008

Obama

Congratulations to Obama. How incredible. Let's hope he lives up to the hype and helps heal a lot of the damage that's been done over the years.

Poor McCain, dude should have been President in 2000. We'd be better off. If only W's henchmen didn't spread all those rumors about the guy.

Now all the W supporters who were saying people should support their president whether or not they agree with him have a chance to lead by example!

Posted by jason on 11:28 PM | Comments (1)

November 02, 2008

dreams

I find it funny the way your dreams try to work out all the things going on in your life... This past week was stressful because I'm waiting for a certain option offer and also was filling out and getting other people to fill out stuff for a Fellowship I'm applying for...

So I dreamt about getting the offer, it being laughably ridiculous (included ME having to pay THEM), and also it asking me to get fifteen people to fill out letters of recommendation for me.

I was so happy to wake up and realize it was a dream. The offer can only be better than that, now.

Posted by jason on 10:35 AM | Comments (10)