Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Second Life

For a lot of people the dawning of the technological-information era has come like a swift slap in the face. Though it's often thought that the industrial revolution instigated the biggest changes in life as we know it, the modern-computer era has trumped that...easily. Some have found themselves still trying to figure out what Myspace is, or when the heck ipods became capable of showing better quality videos than the best tv's money could buy only 15 years ago (heck, even 10). Others have embraced the world of IM's, email on their phones and consumerism on ebay.

Then, there are those of the world know as Second Life.

Consider yourself behind the times, trust me.

Second life is an online program, or game, or simulation - that has become very much least to over 1 Million people. And at least some savvy businesses. American Apparel, the clothing company, opened a store this past summer in a virtual world. Some of you may ask what the benefit could be, some of you may know-

Here's the deal.

In Second Life you create an avatar, and depending on the time you spend and the amount of Linden Dollars you have (SL's Currency)- you can clothe this person to your liking, buy land or even an island, a car, a virtual laptop, furniture, tv' goes on. Linden Dollars are cheap- 200L dollars is about 3-5USdollars*(depending on where you're from). This can buy you plenty- but more importantly- its providing the makers with millions and millions. And now- the corporates are coming into the fray. Consider AA one of the first, there will be more. Many entrepenuers have made money, making objects of thier desire, to sell in this virtual world - which comes with a 3d modeling ability (the more you know, the better you can be).

And get this- there are news feeds. REAL news feeds...and virtual ones. You can get your real world news, in this program, or the news of current events happening within the program of Second Life. What about an update of a concert being held by Suzanne Vega? Yup- already happened. Of course, you had to be at the show- 'it was great'- and you could only have seen it/heard it if you were in the world of Second Life. They literally made a virtual guitar, that through commands on a REAL keyboard- played like any other guitar, in real time. Watch this-Suzzane Vega's Guitar in Second Life

It's a little bit intimidating- hell, who needs a second life when the first one is so hard to managed as is? Well, believe me- that isn't stopping people, and it won't. This will continue to become a very large presence in our world, virtual or not. The more companies take part, the more virtual money is traded for REAL currency, the more real this will be to everyone.

So- when are more artists going to take part? Could this be an outlet for magazine writers, novelists? Could you sell a story though this? I bet you probably could, or will in the future. And considering that- checking my data now- over 600,000 Us Dollars have been spent in the last 24 hours in this little online world- You could probably make a decent living.

It might not be something you 'need or want' in your life- but who thinks it could be their best aim at success?

*Currency changes, so figures could be slightly off.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Robert Altman, dies at 81

A sad day in the world of Hollywood...

Director Robert Altman Dies at 81

Robert Altman, the legendary director behind such modern classics as MASH, Nashville, The Player, and Gosford Park, died Monday night in Los Angeles; he was 81. The cause of death was not immediately disclosed, and a statement released Tuesday afternoon stated that Altman died from complications due to cancer; the news release also said that Altman had been in pre-production for a film he was slated to start shooting in February. When he was presented with an honorary Academy Award just last year, Altman revealed that he had been the recipient of a heart transplant within the past ten years, a fact he hadn't made public because he feared it would hinder his ability to get work. One of the most influential and well-respected directors of modern cinema, Altman's work was marked by a naturalistic approach that favored long, unbroken tracking shots and overlapping dialogue (as well as storylines), as well as improvisation, usually among a large ensemble cast. Though now regarded as one of the premier American filmmakers, Altman had a career that reached both popular and critical highs as well as lows, as he burst onto the scene in the early '70s with very acclaimed films, but had a string of commercial and critical failures as well. All told, he received five Oscar nominations for directing MASH, Nashville, The Player, Short Cuts and most recently Gosford Park. Other numerous awards include two Cannes Film Festival wins (for The Player and MASH), a Golden Globe (for Gosford Park) and an Emmy (for the TV series Tanner 88).

Born in Kansas City, Altman attended Catholic schools as well as a military academy before enlisting in the Air Force in 1945. After being discharged, Altman tried his hand at acting and writing in both Los Angeles and New York before returning home to Kansas City, where he started making industrial films for the Calvin Company. After numerous false starts, Altman finally made the full move to Hollywood, and in 1957 directed his first theatrical film, The Delinquents. Though it didn't start him on the road to fame, the film was good enough to secure Altman work in television, particularly for Alfred Hitchcock and his Alfred Hitchcock Presents television series. In 1969, Altman was offered the script for MASH, which had been rejected by numerous other filmmakers. The movie, a black comedy set during the Korean War (and a thinly veiled attack on the then-raging Vietnam War), was a rousing commercial and critical success, scoring Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Director and, most famously, inspiring the successful TV sitcom, which took on a very different tone. His films after MASH included the revisionist western McCabe and Mrs. Miller and the updated California noir The Long Goodbye, but it was 1975's Nashville, a multi-layered film centered around the country music capital and the wildly divergent Americans who converged there, that would be his next major success, also receiving Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Director.

After Nashville, Altman more often than not found himself on the opposite end of the spectrum, with films such as the acclaimed but sometimes puzzling 3 Women as well as the commercial flop A Wedding and, most notoriously, the Robin Williams version of Popeye, which was technically a hit but seen as an artistic failure. Altman worked constantly through the '80s - his films included Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, Streamers, Secret Honor, and Fool for Love - but it wasn't until the HBO series Tanner 88, about a fictional candidate's run for the presidency, that he found favor again. In the early '90s, the one-two punch of The Player (a biting Hollywood satire) and Short Cuts (based on the stories of Raymond Carver) put him back on the map, but he followed those with the less well-received Pret-a-Porter, The Gingerbread Man, and Cookie's Fortune. True to the ups-and-downs of his career, Altman was back on top with Gosford Park, a British-set ensemble film that combined comedy, drama and mystery, and marked his first Best Picture nominee since Nashville. His last films included a revisit to the world of Tanner 88 with Tanner on Tanner, and just this year, A Prairie Home Companion, based on the radio show by Garrison Keillor. Upon receiving his honorary Oscar last year, Altman appeared to be in fine health, but reportedly directed most of A Prairie Home Companion from a wheelchair, with the Altman-influenced director Paul Thomas Anderson on hand.

Altman is survived by his third wife, Kathryn, their two sons, and a daughter and two other sons from two previous marriages. --Mark Englehart, IMDb staff

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Split Personalities

I had a baby a few weeks ago. It was beautiful, enlightening, inspiring and daunting. Then it did what others have done in the past, it broke into two. Fraternal, not identical.

Of course, the actual prospects of me running around with drool on my shoulder (not mine) is about as pleasant to me as a cheese grater to the face...but this is writing we're talking about- right?

It came about in Austin, Tex. I loved this concept that began to stew so quickly, as they often do, and I was set to write. Made some notes, laid out some points and figured 'hell, lets go at 'er'. About 4 pages in it dawned on me like a sledgehammer in the groin from an angry ex..."this isn't exactly how I planned it".

The conceived child wasn't anything like I planned. Different eyes, different tone of voice, different hair even. It could have been the milk mans idea.

I realized that I had two very distinct ideas, and the only through line One is an idea that wants to be sci-fi/ I've thrived with in the past. The other, wants to be something more personal and inviting - which happens to be nothing like me or anything I've written.

I had them fully separated eventually and sat with them for a little. It's an easy choice - go with the one you can do well. Sadly I'm not smart enough...and I've gone with the one I have no clue about...

As of now, Act 1 is the most put together Act I've ever written. And it's scary personnel (though I won't tell you how). I only hope I don't falter too much and run away or lose steam in the 2nd and 3rd Acts....we'll see. But the other little baby seems to have formulated itself as be addressed later.

How many times has this happened with you though? Your ideas split up, rightly so, and born into two different ideas. But not just different scripts...I mean completely different- style, genre, story...etc. All from one idea?

The end.
ED NOTE: Jamie wasn't really in the mood to write anything of merit, but had 15 minutes to kill. Currently, the 15 minutes has him pinned down like a tourist on a train full of Gypsies...

And can you hear it? Can you? Christmas is 6 weeks away. And if you don't's the only thing I actually stake claim to enjoying- so dash my spirit and I'll fucking skin you alive. ;)