Archive for September, 2009

A Facebook intervention

Friday, September 25th, 2009

According to a poll by CNN.com, some 53% of us have a Facebook page. This doesn’t shock me, because anyone who has the time or inclination to go online, read CNN, and respond to an online poll, probably has three or four hours to kill customizing and managing their own Facebook page.

And there’s the rub. Facebook is like a pleasant distraction that soon becomes a relentless addiction for those who, like the pod people in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, started off as earnest human beings living normal interactive lives with other normal human beings, but ultimately become slave drones in a nether world to an insatiable cannibal of their time, attention, energy and souls.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

But if you didn’t have a great time with the cliques, popularity contests, achievement anxieties, competition, appearance comparisons, gossip, embarrassing surprises, and judgmental attitudes of high school, chances are you aren’t going to enjoy those attitudes or occurrences any better in this new, improved online yearbook version of your best or worst year at high school.

And God forbid you have anything less than 50 friends.

Facebook is like some diabolical global online game of Sardines in a Can, where you’re a nobody or an outsider in this universe until someone says ‘Pssst’ and you find where everyone is hiding, and then you are compelled to go and hide in plain sight with them.

And if you choose not to spend your time there, in that place where all these formerly familiar faces are huddling and conspiring, you will be made to feel that slightly uneasy feeling so prevalent and unpleasant back in those same high school years known as … peer pressure.

Worse than that, if you try to ignore it, they’ll ‘chat’ about you anyway through private instant messages filtered with the same degree of cliquish exclusion and airs of superiority.

Of course, if you actually enjoyed high school, this all comes as manna from heaven.

But for the rest of us, and provided as a public service, here are the …

Top Ten Excuses to Not Join Facebook

10. You stopped doing peer pressure in high school.

9. You prefer old or distant friends remember you as you were, not as you are (and vice versa).

8. You are in the witness protection program.

7. You didn’t USE protection many years ago and don’t want to suddenly find out you have a teenager looking you up. Or a biological half-sister from the mother who previously gave you up for adoption.

6. In basketball lingo, ‘Face!’ is an insult challenge meaning, “top this, motherf—–r” (so maybe it IS actually the same thing when you’re keeping score by posting 500 refrigerator photos of your friends, family, kids and grandchildren).

5. You already spend far too much time on a computer at YOUR FULL TIME JOB.

4. Your future career or stature could suffer greatly from the photos of you drunk and half naked in Cabo with a penguin wearing a strap-on tattooed on your ass.

3. The last time you tried to upload an image jpg file, you erased your hard drive instead.

2. You’re too busy creating new memories to cyber scrapbook older ones.

And the number one excuse for not joining Facebook …

1. You own a telephone.

 

Please post your own excuses or Facebook horror stories if you don’t see them here.

— A. Wayne Carter

James Cameron, I’m so sorry

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

(A true story)

Hey Jim,

It’s Wayne. Remember me? 1982. We both live in L.A. You’re just getting your feet wet as a director. I’m getting some good assignments as a screenwriter. We have the same agent … Gene L-. He’s got a one-room office on Beverly Blvd. His suit, shirt, shoes and shag carpet are still left over from the early ‘70s. He’s got no partners. No secretary. No class.

But he has us.

You are the art director on a Roger Corman sci-fi production called Battle Beyond the Stars, and you just directed your first feature called Piranha II.

I recently scripted a couple of features for National Lampoon at Universal Studios to follow up on the surprise success of their release, Animal House.

 

We are two rising stars.

Anyway, the reason I’m writing this blog is to apologize for costing you $100,000 at this time when you really needed it.

Gene L was an agent past his prime (in Hollywood, that’s around 28), but he did get us both a feature motion picture deal on the basis of my latest spec script, and on you’re being from Canada. A Toronto-based film company was going to get $1.5 million in matching funds from the Canadian Film Development Board toward the budget of the movie partly on the basis that the picture be shot there, and the director be from there.

The deal was built around my screenplay, M-PATH. You remember that script, don’t you? It was a pretty good one.

M-PATH, or Multi-Purpose Advisor for The Home, was a story about the development of a new computer that spoke to users in a completely natural voice. A voice with empathy. Thus, the dual meaning of the title.

The hero of the movie invented the computer and was beta-testing it in a small Colorado mining town that had gone bust after the local mines dried up. The locals were desperate … desperate enough to agree to be re-trained in new economic skills, as well as to receive emotional counseling and therapy from the same home computer; M-PATH.

And the experiment works. Eventually all the test subjects in the town begin to turn their lives around with the help of the M-PATH. HE teaches them new skills. HE listens to them. HE tells them he understands them. And HE solves their problems. M-PATH is always there for them. And they become emotionally dependent on HIS presence.

M-PATH

M-PATH’s creator, Brad, of course, realizes this is a DISASTER … Human beings becoming addicted to a machine to the point where their lives are no longer private, their minds are no longer free, and their time is no longer their own? That’s not at all what he intended. It’s diabolical. But M-PATH assures everyone this is all a good thing.

So Brad tries to pull the plug on this experiment he sees as gone astray. Naturally, M-PATH won’t let him, and begins manipulating its users to block his efforts. When one of users goes too far and puts Brad in the hospital, M-PATH is already there controlling the ER. The creation has HIS own creator’s life within control.

Let’s just cut to the chase and remember the hero escapes and lives. And M-PATH? HE wins, too, by analyzing data to uncover a rich new mining source that bails the town out of its economic crisis. All is forgiven amid the flush of financial success.

The end of the script finds M-PATH being delivered to nearly every home in America. And the hero realizes you can’t stop the march of technology … even when it’s sometimes trying to kill you.

The script sealed the deal, the producers were happy, and you were happy. You saw the story somewhat as a religious metaphor, and were eager to direct the picture and add your own original touches. We both had no doubt it was going to be a blockbuster.

But you were also going through a divorce and had ended up at an apartment in the exile land of cheaper rents known as San Fernando Valley, with NO furniture and mounting financial obligations.

You could really use $100,000.

And that’s what the deal was: $100,000 for you, the director, and $50,000 for me, the screenwriter. Decent money for a low budget (under $5 million) picture at the time. Less the 10% agent fee to Gene, of course. And I would also be splitting my earnings with a friend and computer professor from USC, Buzz, who I had brought into the project as a technical consultant, but wound up giving co-writing credit to on the basis of the valuable ideas he brought to the project. We thought we were on the cutting edge. And perhaps we were right. There’s STILL no computer like M-PATH to this day.

A date was set for production of the movie in Canada

One of my spec feature scripts was going to finally get produced. I was ecstatic.

But there was one small glitch.

The producers decided they needed a more spectacular ending. One with, you know, a lot of dead bodies.

“Couldn’t M-PATH start, like, zapping people through their keyboards? Electrocuting them … Like ‘Jaws,’ the computer?”

I took one look at my esteemed computer genius writing partner … and have never witnessed someone grow so pale with horror. “Who are these … imbeciles?” his expression screamed.

“Is THIS what screenwriting is all about? Sacrificing logic and principle and originality at the drop of dime (or, in this case, $25,000)? ‘Zapping’ people? Are you shitting me? The ending we have where the computer has psychologically enslaved everyone is ten times more horrifying. You can’t get any more creepy or insidious.”

Okay, maybe this wasn’t all Buzz’s doing. Those were undoubtedly my own thoughts while staring at Buzz’s incredulous face.

So, weeks into negotiation and pre-planning and you, Jim, probably already thinking about how you were going to spend that lovely $100,000, Buzz and I backed out of the deal and walked away with our script.

And, looking back now, I really feel bad about it.

I probably didn’t need the money as much as you did at the moment. I guess I didn’t think it through. I suppose I wasn’t … empathetic. Ironic, isn’t it?

And we had become good friends. We shared our hopes and ambitions, and stories about our budding careers in the business. We ate breakfast routinely at the Omelette Parlor in Santa Monica. We flirted with the waitresses. We talked about all our favorite movies and television programs. We had the same all-time favorite TV show; The Outer Limits. We were only two months apart in age. You were almost purely visual. I was all story. It was a collaborative match made in Hollywood Heaven.

And then, I fucked it up by giving our lottery ticket back.

I don’t know what came over me. Integrity? Ethics? Arrogance? Stupidity? All of the above? I guess it doesn’t matter.

What matters is that I’m sorry. I know it must have seemed like a betrayal at the time, but it had nothing to do with you. It was all me, being a little selfish, and trying to show a buddy and a budding writer that we writers don’t have to compromise our principles.

I’m not apologizing because I’m in “The 12-Step Program”, or, like the character in My Name Is Earl I have a list of people I need to mend fences with to restore my good karma. Well, okay, maybe it’s a little bit of that.

But I really do mean it.

And I really did like the script you showed me when we were hanging out as friends. You were a little unsure about the writing on the script, but you had total confidence in your ‘vision’ of the script. You carried around this drawing with the script of a half-machine, half man with the top of his head and an eye and his legs blown off, dragging himself across the floor relentlessly still in pursuit of someone to kill them. You called it, The Terminator.

Whatever happened to that script?

I got frustrated with life in Hollywood after about 50 scripts written, 12 sold, and none of the major studio ones produced, and took my beautiful wife and left Hollywood forever to start a family in a normal environment somewhere else and never looked back.

But I’m still sorry about the $100,000.

And I wonder. How did things work out for you?

— A. Wayne Carter

M-m-my generation

Friday, September 4th, 2009

If you were alive during the Vietnam war, or you ever had to register for the draft, or you just had generational conflicts with your old man, please listen to this Bruce Springsteen live track (it’s an audio-only video, go figure). I saw this concert on his 1985 tour at the L.A. Coliseum and I heard him tell this story. And I wept. I never had a conflict with my father as dramatic as this one, but I can relate to the indirect way a father from a less emotionally open generation can reveal his love for his son.

 

Concerts (I can still remember)

10,000 Maniacs – Wiltern Theatre, L.A., 1987 (In My Tribe tour)

Aerosmith – Miami Concert Hall, Miami, 1973 (Walk This Way tour)

Allman Brothers – Hollywood Bowl, L.A., 1990

America – WMMO Festival, Orlando, 1994

Amratrading, Joan – L.A. Amphitheatre, 1986

Beach Boys – Washington Monument Independence Day, D.C., 1969

Beach Boys – Queen Mary, Long Beach, CA, 1982

Beck, Jeff – L.A. Forum, 1983 (A.R.M.S. Concert)

Bee Gees – Miami Jai Lai Fronton, Miami, 1976

Berry, John – Orlando, 1995

Blunt, James – House of Blues, Orlando, 2007

Brooks, Garth – L.A. Amphitheatre, L.A., 1987

Browne, Jackson – Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, L.A., 1984

Buffet, Jimmy – University of Miami Student Union Patio, Miami, 1974

Byrds, The – Roxy Theatre, L.A., 1982 (Reunion Concert)

Carpenter, Mary-Chapin – T.D. Waterhouse, Orlando, 2002

Cecilio & Kapono – Maui Fairgrounds, Hawaii, 1978

Clapton, Eric, Los Angeles Forum, 1983 (A.R.M.S. Concert)

Cocker, Joe – Newport Beach Amphitheatre, California, 1988

Collective Soul – House of Blues, Orlando, 2005

Cooder, Ry (plus David Lindley), Santa Monica Civic, L.A., 1984

Cowboy Junkies – Club Lingerie, L.A., 1987 (Trinity tour)

Cowboy Junkies – House of Blues, Orlando, 1997

Crosby, David – Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, L.A., 1984

Crowded House – The Hollywood Palace, L.A., 1990

Crowded House – Hard Rock Live, Orlando, FL, 2010

Dee, Kiki (with Elton John) – Roxy Theatre, L.A. 1980

Diddley, Bo – Santa Monica Pier, CA, 1988

Eagles – Tampa Stadium, FL, 1976 (Bicentennial Concert)

Eagles – Capital Centre, Washington, D.C., 1975

Eagles – Amway Center, Orlando, FL, 2010

Egan, Walter – Ford Theatre, L.A., 1988

Electric Light Orchestra – U. of Miami Student Union Patio, 1974

Fab Four (Beatles recreation concert) – Plaza Theater, Orlando, 2009

Finn, Neil – House of Blues, Orlando, 2001

Fleetwood Mac – Tampa Stadium, 1976 (Bicentennial Concert)

Fogelberg, Dan – Irvine Meadows, L.A., 1989

Fogerty, John – House of Blues, Orlando, 2005

Foreigner – Ontario Speedway, California, 1980 (Cal Jam II)

Frampton, Peter – U. of Miami Student Union Patio, 1974

Frampton, Peter – Miami Baseball Stadium, 1976 (Comes Alive tour)

Frampton, Peter – L.A. Variety Arts Club, 1990

Frampton, Peter – Church Street Station, Orlando, 2005

Gibb, Andy – Roxy Theatre, L.A., 1983

Grateful Dead – Mountainview Amphitheatre, San Jose, 1988

Gross, Henry – Miami Concert Hall, 1973

Guns N’ Roses – L.A. Coliseum, 1989

Guy, Buddy – Shoreham Amphitheatre, Ft. Myers, Florida, 1994

Haynes, Warren – Hollywood Bowl, L.A., 1988Healy, Jeff – Mountanview Amphitheatre, CA, 1988

Heart – Ontario Speedway, California, 1980 (Cal Jam II)

Hillman, Chris – McCabe’s Guitar Shop, Santa Monica, CA, 1987

Hooker, John Lee – L.A. Forum, 1983 (A.R.M.S. Concert)

Indigo Girls – Roxy Theatre, L.A., 1989 (2x)

Isaak, Chris – Anti-Club, L.A., 1990

James, Etta – Newport Beach Amphitheatre, CA, 1988

Jefferson Starship – Lahaina Civic Center, Maui, Hawaii, 1984

Jethro Tull – Miami Jai Alai Fronton, 1973 (Passion Play tour)

Joel, Billy – U. of Miami Student Union Patio, 1973 (Turnstiles tour)

John, Elton – Universal Amphitheatre, L.A., 1979 (21 at 33 tour) (2x)

John, Elton – Universal Amphitheatre, L.A., 1980 (The Fox tour)

John, Elton – Irvine Meadows, California, 1982 (Jump Up tour)

John, Elton – Los Angeles Forum, L.A., 1984 (Breaking Hearts tour)

John, Elton – Hollywood Bowl, L.A., 1985 (Ice on Fire tour)

John, Elton – Sunrise Theatre, Ft. Lauderdale, 1994 (Acoustic tour)

John, Elton – T. D. Waterhouse, Orlando, 2001 (One Night Only tour)

John, Elton – UCF Arena, Orlando, 2007

Judds, The – Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, 1989

Ketchum, Hal – Greune Hall, Greune, Texas, 1994

Ketchum, Hal – Lee County Civic Auditorium, Florida, 1995

K.C. & the Sunshine Band – Pete & Lenny’s, Ft. Lauderdale, 1978

King, B.B. – Newport Beach Amphitheatre, CA, 1988

King, B.B. – Shoreham Auditorium, Cape Coral, Florida, 1995

King Sunny Ade – Music Machine, L.A. – 1983

Kinks, The – Irvine Meadows, California, 1987

Krieger, Robby (the Doors), San Pedro, CA, 1988

Level 42 – L.A. Amphitheatre, 1985

Lofgren, Neils – Roxy Theatre, L.A., 1980

Loggins, Kenny – L.A. Amphitheatre, 1986

Loggins & Messina – Tampa Stadium, Florida, 1976

Loveless, Patty – Cape Coral Yacht Club, Florida, 1994

Manchester, Melissa – Miami Concert Hall, 1973

Marley, Ziggy – Hollywood Palladium, L.A., 1990

Mavericks – T.D. Waterhouse, Orlando 2001

Mayall, John – La Zona Rosa, Austin, Texas, 1994

McKee, Maria (Lone Justice) – Club Lingerie, L.A., 1991

Mellencamp, John – L. A. Forum, 1987

Moody Blues – L.A. Forum, 1983

Moody Blues – Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center, FL, 2016 (front row with son and namesake Justin)

Nicks, Stevie – Ford Amphitheatre, L.A., 1988

Nugent, Ted – Ontario Speedway, CA (Cal Jam II), 1980

Obey, Commander Ebenezor – Music Machine, L.A., 1984

Orleans – WMMO Festival, Orlando, 1995

Ozomatli – House of Blues, Orlando, 2004

Pablo Cruise – Queen Mary, Long Beach, CA, 1982

Page, Jimmy – L.A. Forum, 1983 (A.R.M.S. Concert)

pink floyd l.a. sports arenaPink Floyd – Columbia Amphitheatre, Maryland, 1973 (Dark Side tour)

Pink Floyd – L.A. Sports Arena, 1980 (The Wall tour)

Prince – L.A. Coliseum, 1989

Raitt, Bonnie – Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, CA, 1984

Rolling Stones – L.A. Coliseum, 1981 (Tattoo You tour)

Rolling Stones – L.A. Coliseum, 1989 (Steel Wheels tour)

Ronstadt, Linda – Capital Centre, Maryland, 1977

Santana – Ontario, California, 1980 (Cal Jam II)

Simon, Paul – Irvine Meadows, 1990 (Graceland tour)

Simply Red – Club Lingerie, L.A., 1990

Springfield, Rick – Club Max, Miami, 1974 (Comic Book Heroes tour)

Springsteen, Bruce – Calabasas, L.A., 1978 (w/Gary Busey/Holly)

Springsteen, Bruce – L.A. Coliseum, 1985 (Born in the U.S.A. tour)

Stills, Stephen – U. of Miami Rathskeller, 1975

Thorogood, George – L.A. Coliseum, 1981

Trammps, The – Pete & Lenny’s, Ft. Lauderdale, 1978

Tritt, Travis – Lee County Auditorium, Florida, 1994

Trower, Robin – Tampa Stadium, Florida, 1976

Uriah Heep – Miami Fairgrounds, 1973

Vaughn, Stevie Ray – Newport Beach, CA, 1988 (2 days before death)

Who, The – Miami Baseball Stadium, Miami, 1973 (Quadrophenia tour)

Who, The – L.A. Forum, 1980 (Who Are You tour)

Who, The – Amway Center, Orlando, FL , 2012 (Quadrophenia tour)

Williams Brothers – Café Largo, L.A., 1988

Winter, Johnny – Newport Beach Amphitheatre, CA, 1988

Winwood, Steve – L.A. Forum, 1983, (A.R.M.S Concert)

Winwood, Steve – L.A. Amphitheatre, 1985

Wynonna – Babara Mann Theatre, Cape Coral, Florida, 2004

X – Club 88, 1982

Yearwood, Trisha – L.A. Amphitheatre, 1990 (with Garth Brooks)

Zappa, Frank – U. of Miami Student Union Patio, Florida, 1974

— A. Wayne Carter