Thursday, July 31, 2008

Scrabulous returns to Facebook as 'Wordscraper' with circular board

WAHOO!!!!!! (emphasis mine)

By Michael Hatamoto, BetaNews

July 31, 2008, 2:41 PM

After being officially removed from Facebook less than two days ago due to a legal threat from Scrabble maker Hasbro, Scrabulous has returned to the social network site with a new name and visual changes.

Dubbed "Wordscraper," the Facebook application is technically a new word game, but it retains certain similarities to the now defunct Scrabulous.

There are several different visual changes to the board, with the square tiles now being redesigned as circular tiles making the board look fairly different from a regular Scrabble game. The most interesting feature of Wordscraper is a user's ability to customize the board for each new game they want to play.

The custom board can be made to look like a regular Scrabble game, although the brothers behind the service will likely be safe legally, because it is up the users to make the change.

The rest of the article can found here.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sleeping with the King......

I don't know about you, but I have so many problems with this commercial:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Projectionist's Take on Film Criticism and Blogging

NY Times' film critic, David Edelstein, on the argument that film criticism is a dying art form and whether bloggers aid in the threat: "...there has been a lot of chatter in the last few years that criticism is a dying profession, having been supplanted by the democratic voices of the Web. Not to get all Lee Siegel on you, but the Internet has a mob mentality that can overwhelm serious criticism. There is superb film writing in blogs and discussion groups — as good as anything I do. But there are also thousands of semi-literate tirades that actually reinforce the Hollywood status quo, that say: “If you do not like The Dark Knight (or The Phantom Menace), you should be fired because you do not speak for the people.” This quote was part of his negative review of The Dark Knight, titled "'The Dark Knight' of My Soul."

Tom Who?! Tom Cruise.......THAT'S who!!

A few of us from the office saw a sneak screening of Tropic Thunder last night and loved it. I was really looking forward to seeing Robert Downey Jr. in blackface--who else could successfully pull that off? As we were waiting for the movie to start, Charles leaned over and told me that Tom Cruise was supposed to have a cameo appearance in the film. What? My immediate thought was "Why?" The movie started and Robert Downey Jr. was hilarious, just as I expected. What I didn't expect was how incredibly funny Tom Cruise was going to be. He not only has a cameo, but he practically steals the movie with a few short scenes. He plays a great character--an emotionally unstable yet ruthless studio boss. This could definitely be a come-back role for him. More cameos like this, please, Tom!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Writing/Blogging Film Criticism & Journalistic Standards

So, a little over a week ago I was invited to a small gathering at Noralil's apartment. She is a writer for ShortEnd Magazine, an online publication that hosts written and podcast reviews and interviews for independent film. She was hosting indie filmmaker and well-known blogger Sujewa Ekanayake, who was in town to interview people for his current project, a documentary film project about blogging--currently titled, "The Indie Film Bloggers: A Portrait of a Community." Noralil's podcast can be heard here. Little did I know that I would be interviewed during my visit, although I'm very glad I was because it spurred a pretty heated, yet healthy, debate between me and Gabe (yeah, I know, nothing new there--especially since neither of us have a shortage of opinions....about ANYTHING).

The taped interview went pretty well I think. Sujewa interviewed Gabe and I together and posed a lot of the same questions to the both of us. We didn't always agree but our disagreement during the interview itself was relatively mild and innocuous. The real debate happened when we left Noralil's apartment. Dan was also there and tried to serve as the even-keeled moderator, but since Gabe and I can both be hot-heads, he had a tough job ahead of him. At issue were two items: 1) Gabe argued that the loss of paid movie critics, resulting in the democratization of film criticism, harms the industry (of which I disagree) because we will lose writers, and 2) My telling Gabe that he is not a Writer (purposefully capitalized).

I'd like to work backwards here. First, while my words to Gabe may have come across as cold and sharp, much like the instruments used during castration, that was not my intention. In fact, I felt horrible the moment I said it, but I needed to push on and clarify my position. I was trying to define the term Writer, which I think I can now do (which will also help with the other argument). In my argument, a Writer is someone who sees writing as an end in itself, not to be confused with writing as a means to an end.

This leads us to the other issue: Does the loss of paid (mostly newsprint) movie critics threaten the industry with the loss of writers? Gabe argues that losing paid critics (ie: Eleanor Ringel from the AJC, Nathan Lee from the Village Voice) jeopardizes critics' authority and compromises journalistic writing standards. He feels as though these people will stop writing reviews and critiques altogether since they are no longer employed. I disagree. First of all, I defer back to my original definition of a Writer. I argue that if these writers stop writing simply because they are not getting paid, then they are not true writers. To be a Writer, one must write - paid or not. So, I believe that the true writers will still write, probably even more creatively and possibly be more brutally honest than when employed by an authoritative print source.

Where will these writers go? To their blogs....and so will their readers....and hungry advertisers will follow, providing them with an income, if they so choose to allow advertisers to purchase ad space on their blogs. Writers will rise to the top, just like cream.

Yes, I do think the proliferation of blogging as a standard form of communication and/or critique, writing standards have probably somewhat declined. We tend not to worry so much about our sentence structure or proper word usage. So, I agree that the loss of some formal film reviews will likely result in less formal journalistic writing standards, but I don't necessarily think the readers will suffer from it. I think readers, movie goers, and audiences in general tend to be somewhat self-selecting with what they read and watch. People who have been trained to read arguments will have a higher standard for writing and people who don't really care, will have lower standards. That doesn't make either group better than the other, it's just the way it is.

Does reading a NY Times critic's opinion change your mind about whether or not you want to see a movie? Is that even the goal? Do you think reading the opinion changes your point of view about the movie itself - pre/post screening? What if I were to switch out "NY Times' critic" with the "Knoxville News Sentinel critic"? Would that change things? What if one is paid and the other is not?


Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Dark Knight Deconstructed

First, let me preface this blog by stating that I did like The Dark Knight. I thought it was a good movie with lots of intricacies for which it deserves many kudos. My overall rating of the movie is an A-. I do have a few problems with it that I think could've been easily rectified. I've tried to write this deconstruction in somewhat of an organized way.

Blatant Character Problems:
1. Beginning scene where the Joker places the smoke bomb into the bank manager/hero's mouth--why didn't he remove the smoke bomb from his mouth? His arms weren't paralyzed.....he'd been shot but was still able to move his arms and hands. Our natural human reaction would be to remove the obstruction from our mouth. (This character was played by William Fichtner.)

2. When Two-Face is in the car with Maroni and he gives Maroni a chance with fate with the flip of the coin, the first coin toss is heads--rewarding Maroni with his life. But then Two-Face flips the coin again and it comes up on the dark side, which Two-Face used as a reason to shoot Maroni's driver. This action fails because it breaks the character's behavior and code. The whole idea of chance (used by the Harvey Dent character) has always been given to the recipient....the person making the choice. The driver here is robbed of the chance and Two-Face made the choice for the driver, although he tried to pass the blame off to Maroni.

I do like the symbolism of the double-headed coin prior to the accident and Dent still using the coin flip as though he's leaving things up to chance (all the while knowing it will always come up heads--always being the winning recipient, especially over whomever plays along with his game), and then the coin changing after Rachel's death (thereby illustrating that we can only control actions/reactions and not the fate/actions of other people).

3. After the interrogation of the Joker, when Batman lied to the police about which person he was going after (Harvey Dent or Rachel Dawes), he actively contributed to her death. It's supposed to be against Batman's moral code to not kill, but this act of lying was a kill by omission. The Joker had given Batman two addresses, even taking into account the possibility of an address switch, Batman and the officers appear to show up at the same location (albeit at different times)--where Dent was being held.

As a student and lover of philosophy, I absolutely loved the many philosophical questions packed inside the movie. There was the classic Prisoner's Dilemma, Ethics vs. Utilitarianism, Taoism, Existentialism, Kant's Categorical Imperative, Game Theory, and quite a bit more. For all of that, thank you, Mr. Nolan!! Each of those are individual blogs in and of themselves.

The Joker
I seriously hope Heath Ledger gets an Oscar for his performance. Ledger played the part perfectly. From the first moment the audience is introduced to the Joker, it is clear that he is a fully developed character. Ledger added just the right amount of creepily insane mannerisms (ie: tongue slithers, lip smacking, walking oddly in a nurse's outfit, etc.). A great example of how Ledger fully embodied the character of the Joker was during his crashing of the fund raiser thrown by Bruce Wayne for Harvey Dent. After the Joker crashes the event, Rachel Dawes steps up and instructs him to stop tormenting people (not her words, but it's the sentiment). The Joker, liking what he sees as he turns to her voice, tries to be a bit lascivious and straightens his hair as he walks toward her. He delivers all of his lines excellently--especially when he says, "Hi," after entering the den of the mobsters.

I think Christian Bale was just an okay actor for this role. This seemed like a walk-on role for him and he didn't seem to bring anything particularly special to the character. And, what was up with Batman's voice? I know his voice needs to be somewhat masked to protect his true identity, but the voice was just a little too over the top, especially in the last 1/3 of the film (which seemed even more melodramatic).

Other Characters and/or Problems
1. I think the whole subplot of the snitch was superfluous. Seriously, if that whole storyline was cut out, it could've shortened the film and the audience/story wouldn't have lost anything.

2. The ending was a bit melodramatic. After seeing it a second time I do appreciate it a little better and can forgive some of the dramatic voice-over (which is only a semi-voice over since Gordon is supposed to be talking to his son), but I still think it's kind of a cop out and a cheap way to bail out on the audience.

3. There also appeared to be a couple of times that the movie could've successfully ended. After the great street chase/truck flip scene, with the Joker and Batman, would've been an ending because the Joker had been caught and taken into custody, while Batman was saved by Gordon and is recovering. I know the problem with ending it here is because Two-Face had not yet been created, but, nonetheless, it was a natural ending. However, the movie pressed on. There was another spot it could've ended, but it's not as strong as this example.

Oscar Question
Okay, I definitely think Heath Ledger should get an Oscar for his performance. My question is, if he is nominated, for which category will it be. I'm not really sure how/who determines the particular category for the nomination. For example, could/would Heath Ledger be nominated for the Leading Male, or would it be Lead Supporting because the Joker wasn't the protagonist in the film? Is the Leading vs. Lead Supporting based on the protagonist vs. the antagonist?

That's it for now. I know I'm forgetting some parts but the movie was so long and involved. I truly liked it though.

I might be changing my last name

So, I'm thinking about changing my last name from Martinez to Daniels. Daniels is my original birth name. My father's name was Gary Daniels, but he and my mom got divorced when I was about six months old and then I was later adopted by her second husband, thereby giving me his last name of Speeks. I married way too young and thankfully divorced within a few years, but kept my married last name of Carter, to make it easier with paperwork and everything for my kids' sake (who were/are both Carter). Four years ago I married my long-time boyfriend of eight years (now together 12 years) and assumed his last name, Martinez. He is about as Hispanic as I am - it's all in the name. Well, after marrying him and changing my name, I was going through a career change and was looking for jobs. I seriously sent out about 50 resumes and never got one call from them. Given that I'm an experienced professional, I could not contribute it to my lack of experience, education or skill, the only conclusion I came to was that is was my last name. I think people read my last name on my resume and made certain assumptions - like I wouldn't be able to speak English or something.

Even though I'm not currently looking for a job, there are still repercussions for not having an "American" last name. I know we could go into the etymology of Daniels and last names, but you know what I mean. So, because I now get several mailings (junk, snail mail, and email) all written in Spanish, plus people continually asking me about my Hispanic background and/or upbringing, I'm seriously considering adopting the name I was originally given at birth. I know there will be lots of paperwork, but I'll deal with it. Plus, I also like the thought of returning to my true identity--there's something a little empowering about that. I haven't made a final decision yet, but I think I'm getting close. My name would change from Paula Renee Martinez to Paula Renee Daniels. Any thoughts?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mamma Mia!

I just came back from seeing Momma Mia! It was okay, nothing great--probably exactly what you'd expect. I've always loved Abba (as most people do, but nobody really ever admits it), but I never really listened too much to the lyrics until tonight. Two songs really resonated with me: Momma Mia & The Winner Takes It All. Interpret that however you want, but after reading the lyrics, they might resonate with you as well. Here are the lyrics:

Mamma Mia
I've been cheated by you since I don't know when
So I made up my mind, it must come to an end
Look at me now, will I ever learn?
I don't know how but I suddenly lose control
There's a fire within my soul
Just one look and I can hear a bell ring
One more look and I forget everything, w-o-o-o-oh

Mamma mia, here I go again
My my, how can I resist you?
Mamma mia, does it show again?
My my, just how much I've missed you
Yes, I've been brokenhearted
Blue since the day we parted
Why, why did I ever let you go?
Mamma mia, now I really know,
My my, I could never let you go.

I've been angry and sad about things that you do
I can't count all the times that I've told you we're through
And when you go, when you slam the door
I think you know that you won't be away too long
You know that I'm not that strong.
Just one look and I can hear a bell ring
One more look and I forget everything, w-o-o-o-oh

Mamma mia, here I go again
My my, how can I resist you?
Mamma mia, does it show again?
My my, just how much I've missed you
Yes, I've been brokenhearted
Blue since the day we parted
Why, why did I ever let you go?
Mamma mia, even if I say
Bye bye, leave me now or never
mamma mia, it's a game we play
Bye bye doesn't mean forever

Mamma mia, here I go again
My my, how can I resist you?
Mamma mia, does it show again?
My my, just how much I've missed you
Yes, I've been brokenhearted
Blue since the day we parted
Why, why did I ever let you go
Mamma mia, now I really know
My my, I could never let you go

The Winner Takes It All
I don't wanna talk
About the things we've gone through
Though it's hurting me
Now it's history
I've played all my cards
And that's what you've done too
Nothing more to say
No more ace to play

The winner takes it all
The loser standing small
Beside the victory
That's her destiny

I was in your arms
Thinking I belonged there
I figured it made sense
Building me a fence
Building me a home
Thinking I'd be strong there
But I was a fool
Playing by the rules

The gods may throw a dice
Their minds as cold as ice
And someone way down here
Loses someone dear
The winner takes it all
The loser has to fall
It's simple and it's plain
Why should I complain.

But tell me does she kiss
Like I used to kiss you?
Does it feel the same
When she calls your name?
Somewhere deep inside
You must know I miss you
But what can I say
Rules must be obeyed

The judges will decide
The likes of me abide
Spectators of the show
Always staying low
The game is on again
A lover or a friend
A big thing or a small
The winner takes it all

I don't wanna talk
If it makes you feel sad
And I understand
You've come to shake my hand
I apologize
If it makes you feel bad
Seeing me so tense
No self-confidence
But you see
The winner takes it all
The winner takes it all...

Lastly, I will never be able to listen to Abba without thinking about a trip Mike and I took to Malaysia in June 2006. We were in Singapore and took a day trip into Malaysia. The tour bus made several little stops at stores that served as little arts/crafts studio and tourist-trap store. One of the little places even provided us with musical entertainment. Below is a very quick little video of the store staff/craftspeople playing music for us. My only regret is the length of time it took me to get to my camera because just prior to the song they are playing in the video below, they played an instrumental version of Abba's Dancing Queen, using the exact same instruments--no kidding!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Atlanta Film Festival Exec Director Gabe Wardell at Doug Dank Tonight!

Okay, this is actually a "before thought" instead of an After Thought, as the name of my blog states. After thoughts of tonight's show will follow.

The Doug Dank Project is a new long-form style improv show, fusing the unpredictable and impulsive nature of improvisation with the steadiness and permanence of true life stories.

Fueling the fire this week : Gabe Wardell - Executive Director of the Atlanta Film Festival

Gabriel Wardell has worked for festivals and non-profits for over a decade, at levels from projecting for Slamdance and the Atlanta Film Festival, to programming for the AFI Silver Theatre, producing the inaugural edition of SILVERDOCS, and hosting Cinema Sundays at the Charles in Baltimore. He has written film criticism, a sports column, and freelance articles in publications such as Film Threat, The Baltimore Sun, The Jewish Times and City Paper. Gabe developed an interest in independent film at an early age—his mother can even be seen in John Waters' Female Trouble, having her monster beehive hair-do teased silly by Dribbles.

Wednesday Night (July 16th), PushPush Theater at 10pm!!

only $5.

Keith Olbermann & Gabe do look somewhat alike (as Thomas commented below):

Monday, July 14, 2008

Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition Now Accepting Entries!

The Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition looks to discover high quality screenplays and then help the writer further develop and refine their script through an intensive workshop retreat with professional writers and filmmakers.

The Atlanta Film Festival
has a 32 year history of discovering and nurturing new filmmaking talent, including showing early works by Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, and Victor Nunez. Beyond showing completed films, the Atlanta has been involved in helping filmmakers at various stages of the filmmaking process through programs such as Perfect Pitch, the Southeastern Media Award, and Fiscal Sponsorship. All films start with a screenplay, so the Atlanta Film Festival wanted to help screenwriters develop their screenplays by awarding winners of the Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition the opportunity to workshop their script with industry professionals at a weekend retreat. The first screenplay competition was held in 2007 where the winners received dedicated feedback from Traci Carroll, Joy Lusco Kecken, Michael Lucker, Molly Mayeux, Kent Osborne, and Doug Sadler. The first year was an overwhelming success for winners and mentors and was called "the single most productive and educational experience I've ever had, in terms of developing a screenplay and plotting a film career," writes winner Brett Wood.

Screenplay Competition Submission Deadlines and Fees:

Earlybird: June 27, 2008

Features: Standard - 35.00, Student - 30.00, Atlanta Film Festival Member - 30.00

Shorts: Standard - 30.00, Student - 25.00, Atlanta Film Festival Member - 25.00

Screenplay with Coverage: Standard - 145.00, Student - 135.00, Atlanta Film Festival member - 135.00

Regular: July 25, 2008

Features: Standard - 40.00, Student - 35.00, Atlanta Film Festival Member - 35.00

Shorts: Standard - 35.00, Student - 30.00, Atlanta Film Festival - 30.00

Screenplay with Coverage: Standard - 155.00, Student - 145.00, Atlanta Film Festival - 145.00

Late: August 22, 2008

Features: Standard - 50.00, Student - 45.00, Atlanta Film Festival Member - 45.00

Shorts: Standard - 40.00, Student - 35.00, Atlanta Film Festival Member - 35.00

Screenplay with Coverage: Standard - 165.00, Student - 155.00, Atlanta Film Festival Member - 155.00

Extended: September 5, 2008

Feature: Standard - 65.00, Student - 60.00, Atlanta Film Festival Member - 60.00

Shorts: Standard - 55.00, Student - 50.00, Atlanta Film Festival Member - 50.00

Screenplay with Coverage: Standard 180.00, Student - 170.00, Atlanta Film Festival Member - 170.00

Feature Screenplay

Feature screenplays are unproduced screenplays that are over 50 pages in length in standard screenplay format.

Short Screenplay

Short screenplays are screenplays that are 25 to 50 pages in standard screenplay format using 12-point courier font.

Screenplay with Coverage

The Screenplay with Coverage category is for screenplays of any length up to 130 pages. In addition to eligibility for the contest and prizes, entrants in this category will receive coverage by an industry professional covering areas such as storyline, character development, and format.

In general, coverage will be provided 6 to 8 weeks after receipt of screenplay. If coverage will be more than 8 weeks, writers will notified by email.


1) Screenplays must not have been previously optioned, purchased or produced.

2) Entrants must also submit a logline/summary of the screenplay, no longer than one page.

3) Screenplays must be in English, formatted with 12-point courier font.

4) Screenplays shorter than 25 pages or longer than 130 pages will not be accepted.

5) Screenplays must be copyrighted or registered material.

6) Please note that the prize for the Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition is a workshop retreat to further polish the screenplay with guidance by industry professionals. The retreat will take place in Georgia November 14-16, 2008.

The Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition will provide travel from within the U.S., Canada, or Mexico as well as room and board for one for the retreat.

7) All entrants must be 18 years of age or older.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A thought on Hard Candy

The most unbelievable thing that happened in the movie Hard Candy, was when Jeff (Patrick Wilson), after freeing one hand, doesn't reach for his genitals before freeing the second hand. Ellen Page did a fantastic job in this little movie.......a few years prior to her Oscar nom for last year's Juno.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


I just finished watching Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson and I have to say that there aren't many people in life who live and die exactly as they wanted, but based on the movie, it appears that Dr. Hunter Thompson was an exception. I liked the movie but wished it delved into his dark side a little more....with his various affairs and the last 10-15 years of his life. Overall, the movie was entertaining and informative, albeit somewhat of a polemic.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Sweet Werewolves All Summer Long

Maybe it's just me, but doesn't Kid Rock's "All Summer Long" tune sound a tad bit similar to Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London" and Skynrd's "Sweet Home Alabama"?

Kid Rock - "All Summer Long"

Warren Zevon - "Werewolves of London"

Lynrd Skynrd - "Sweet Home Alabama"