Saturday, December 27, 2014

Update Soon

I will be posting a much bigger update on Friday, January 9th!  Check back then!   Thanks!

Monday, September 22, 2014

On Writing and Revising

Unfortunately, the release date for Romance is for Other People has been delayed until next year.  Read more below:
In my teens, I wrote the first draft a story called, The Edge of Existence, in which Chris, Lydia and Jeremy from Romance is for Other People were in there, albeit in different form.  “The Edge of Existence” was action/adventure Spiritual story, very different from the story I’m try to release now.  But the interactions between the three characters made for intriguing writing without the action/adventure main plot.  I couldn’t help thinking about a romantic story, with just the characters, without all of that other stuff.  I wrote a summary, but left it at that.

After graduating from Durham Tech in the spring of 2009, I took a year off. Doing that allowed me to finish the sequel to The Edge of Existence, called Volatile Emotions.  Once I finished that, I finally decided to write Love Square.  I decided to write it in first person from all four of the main characters, Chris, Lydia, Jeremy and Amanda.  I enjoyed getting into the heads of each of the characters, and also jumping back and forth between them.  I particularly enjoyed jumping back and forth between the characters in the middle of the scene, showing each character’s reaction to a scene. 
Then I went to NC State, and graduated from there in 2012.  In the fall of 2012, I finally had the chance to revise it, which I did…but I had no idea of how good or bad it was.  I sent it off to 10 or so close friends, asking them to read it.  The concept and/or starting point must not have been very interesting, and to be honest, many people have busy lives, which led to only one finishing the novel (thank you, Nikki!).  She loved it, (with a few quibbles), which I used to revised it a third time.  I did a few minor revisions during this time, just with little ideas I had about individual scenes.

Then in late 2013, my mom put me in contact with Deneane Sutton, who would help me get my book off the ground.  She found an illustrator, graphic designer and editor.  She was very nice and friendly and I appreciate the help she gave getting the manuscript ready for print. She gave it to a teenage relative of hers, who read it in a day and loved it - that was a good sign.  But as we got closer to the projected release date, I started getting nervous.  What would a professional think of the book?  I thought, based on what I had heard so far, that it was in pretty good shape. 

So in early June of this year, I decided to send to the book to CreateSpace for an editorial evaluation, the same company that was going to publish my work.  I received it in late June…and the editor said there was a lot of work that had to be done.  I was crushed, but I also found the time to do it during my busy summer - a long road trip to Ohio in early August.  I worked feverishly to completely a lot (but not all) of the changes suggested by the editor.  I felt better about it – but I was still unsure about what I had, not only with content but also with grammar. 

In early September, I sent it off again, this time to True Blue Editorial, for an In-Depth Critique, which included line editing, which I so desperately needed.  And her response was…less than stellar.  Even after I had revised it, she thought it needed more work than the last one did.  While admittedly some came from her point of view, I don’t consider her point of view any less valid.  If she thought that, there’s no doubt that many readers would feel the same. 


The bottom line here is that my book need a lot more work.  More work that I don’t have time for before the release date.  I feel like I let everyone down, and I apologize sincerely for that.  I have decided to delay the release until sometime in the future.  It’ll come out when I feel it is at a level that is ready to be published.  With that in mind, I’m going to take a break from my blog as well.  Thank you all for your support.  

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Romance is for Other People Tidbit #38

Hello everyone! Here is Romance is for Other People Tidbit #38:

38. Lydia's dad has a job as a Realtor.

Look for a new tidbit next week!  Here are the last 37 tidbits:
1. I am releasing a novel in 2014.
2. The title is Romance is for Other People.
3. There are four main characters.
4. The first main character is Chris, male, 14 years old.
5. The second main character is Lydia, female, 14 years old.
6. The third main character is Jeremy, male, 16 years old.
7. The fourth main character is Amanda, female, 16 years old.
8.  The format is first person, split between the four main characters.
9.  The title is a quote from the novel.
10.  All the chapter titles are quotes.
11.  Plot summary (View Here)
12.  Genre: Modern Teen Drama-Comedy.  Just to be clear, it is not: Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Drama, Mystery, Western, or Musical.
13.  There will be a dance in chapter 3.  


14. Chapter 1 will be from Chris and Lydia's viewpoint.  Chapter 2 will be from Jeremy and Amanda's viewpoint.
15. Chris and Lydia will be auditioning for a play in Chapter 1.
16. Amanda has a best friend named Katie.
17. Chris and Lydia have not been dancing together before the beginning of the story.
18. Both Jeremy and Amanda play on basketball teams.
19. Chris Character Profile (View Here)
20. Lydia Character Profile (View Here)
21. Jeremy Character Profile (View Here
22. Amanda Character Profile (View Here)
23. Chris' Parents and Lydia's Parents are close friends with each other.
24. There is a fictional movie called Beautiful Disaster 
25.  There is a fictional band called Psycho Boyfriend
26. The main characters attend William Henry Harrison High School.
27. Chris and Lydia live on Hathaway Street
28. The release date is November 15, 2014!
29. Chris and Lydia live about a mile away from their school.
30. The play (that Chris & Lydia are auditioning for in Ch. 1) is A Midsummer Night's Dream.
31. Chris and Lydia's mantra with each other is "Best Friends Forever".
32. Chris and Lydia have known each other since they were three years old.
33. The story starts in late September.
34. Lydia and Chris went to theater camp together.
35. At theater camp, Chris and Lydia had lead roles.
36. The name of the play at theater camp was Romeo and Juliet!
37. The Howards (Chris' family) and the Jamisons (Lydia's family) have a weekly BBQ together.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Comparing Two Classics with Their Remakes

Remakes were given a bad name when so many of them started coming out in the 80s, 90s, and 2000s.  So the directors started giving new names, like reboot and reimagining.  But really, just the same thing was happening, just under a different name.  In any case, sometimes the new films can be as interesting and well acted/directed as the old films.  Let’s take a look at four examples:

In 1961, Walt Disney Pictures released “The Parent Trap,” which was about a Boston Girl (Sharon) and a California Girl (Susan) who meet at a summer camp and find out they’re identical twins (both played by Hayley Mills).  The girls come up with a clever scheme: Sharon will go to California to see her father for the first time, and Susan will go to Boston to see her mother for the first time, and once they find out they’ve been switch, the parents will have to switch them back, and then they’ll have to meet.   But in California, Sharon finds out that her dad is dating a new young woman… The movie is very funny and very clever, though somewhat repetitive (the same tricks the girls use on each other, they use on the woman the father is dating).  There was a short subplot during the camp sequence where the girls went to a dance with the boys from the camp across the lake, which while fun may have distracted from the main plot.  When the mother and the father see each other for the first time, they immediately start fighting, showing how easy it was for them to break up, but making it harder to believe that they could get back together. Then in 1998, Walt Disney Pictures remade The Parent Trap, this time starring a young Lindsay Lohan.  Instead of being in Boston, the production moved the other girl all the way to London.  The new film eliminated the dance element, allowing there to be more time for the girls’ rivalry.  The girls used new tricks against the young woman the father is dating to get her to leave.  Plus, you could feel the connection between the father and mother more strongly in this one; they didn’t start out fighting like in the original.  Overall, I would say that the new Parent Trap has a light lead over the original, though both are very clever and very fun to watch. 
 
In 1965, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s famous stage play was adapted into a movie, starring Julie Andrews.  In the movie, a young nun cannot keep her duties at the Abbey; she keeps escaping to wonder the woods and she can’t be silent and reverent.  The abbess decides to send her away to be governess of seven children for Captain Georg Von Trapp.   In 2013, the musical was remade as a live version for television.  The live version used the older stage script (or book).  Among the changes: some of the songs were not in the place they were in the movie: “My Favorite Things” was sung by the Abbess and Maria together before she left, and instead “The Lonely Goatherd” was sung during the thunderstorm.  In the movie, “The Lonely Goatherd” was presented as a puppet play that children presented to the Captain and the Baroness.  The biggest difference between the stage play and the movie is that the Captain, the Baroness and Max form a subplot within the play, as they deal with the imminent Nazi threat.  The Baroness is convinced that there is “No Way to Stop It” so why worry about joining the Nazi army, the Captain’s love for his country is too strong, and he refuses to join the army.  Elsa subsequently breaks off the engagement.  The updated live version of the stage play while different, was very good, but could not compare with the classic 1965 movie. 


The first two movies were definitely elements of their time: the first The Parent Trap of the 1960s and the second parent trap of the 1990s.  However, both versions of the Sound of Music are set in a specific time and place (Austria in the late 1930s), and there for have more specifics to be compared.  I still believe all four are worthy of seeking out, and I encourage you to watch each one.  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Romance is for Other People Tidbit #37

Hello everyone! Here is Romance is for Other People Tidbit #37:

37. The Howards (Chris' family) and the Jamisons (Lydia's family) have a weekly BBQ together.

Look for a new tidbit next week!  Here are the last 36 tidbits:
1. I am releasing a novel in 2014.
2. The title is Romance is for Other People.
3. There are four main characters.
4. The first main character is Chris, male, 14 years old.
5. The second main character is Lydia, female, 14 years old.
6. The third main character is Jeremy, male, 16 years old.
7. The fourth main character is Amanda, female, 16 years old.
8.  The format is first person, split between the four main characters.
9.  The title is a quote from the novel.
10.  All the chapter titles are quotes.
11.  Plot summary (View Here)
12.  Genre: Modern Teen Drama-Comedy.  Just to be clear, it is not: Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Drama, Mystery, Western, or Musical.
13.  There will be a dance in chapter 3.  
14. Chapter 1 will be from Chris and Lydia's viewpoint.  Chapter 2 will be from Jeremy and Amanda's viewpoint.
15. Chris and Lydia will be auditioning for a play in Chapter 1.
16. Amanda has a best friend named Katie.
17. Chris and Lydia have not been dancing together before the beginning of the story.
18. Both Jeremy and Amanda play on basketball teams.
19. Chris Character Profile (View Here)
20. Lydia Character Profile (View Here)
21. Jeremy Character Profile (View Here
22. Amanda Character Profile (View Here)
23. Chris' Parents and Lydia's Parents are close friends with each other.
24. There is a fictional movie called Beautiful Disaster 
25.  There is a fictional band called Psycho Boyfriend
26. The main characters attend William Henry Harrison High School.
27. Chris and Lydia live on Hathaway Street
28. The release date is November 15, 2014!
29. Chris and Lydia live about a mile away from their school.
30. The play (that Chris & Lydia are auditioning for in Ch. 1) is A Midsummer Night's Dream.
31. Chris and Lydia's mantra with each other is "Best Friends Forever".
32. Chris and Lydia have known each other since they were three years old.
33. The story starts in late September.
34. Lydia and Chris went to theater camp together.
35. At theater camp, Chris and Lydia had lead roles.
36. The name of the play at theater camp was Romeo and Juliet!

Friday, September 5, 2014

3 Action Heroes in Movies with Kids

Most action heroes start out in big action movies with no kids or maybe one in a small supporting role.  Instead, the big, burly guys go out and shoot things against other big, burly guys.  For example, Arnold Swartzenegger plays an action hero in Conan the Barbarian (1982), The Terminator (1984) and Commando (1985).  Next, we see Vin Diesel in movies like The Fast and the Furious (2001) and the Chronicles of Riddick (2004).  Finally, there is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who was originally known as a WWE wrestler and for movies like The Mummy Returns (2001) and The Scorpion King (2002).  All of these guys then played comedies in which their big, burly personality juts up against the personalities of a kid or kids, in a kind of “fish out of water” experience.

Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in Kindergarten Cop (1990), which was about a cop and her female partner going to an elementary school to find the wife and kindergarten-aged son of a drug dealer.  Schwarzenegger plays John Kimble and Pamela Reed plays Phoebe O’Hara.  The fun begins when Phoebe, who was a former teacher herself and originally stated to take over, becomes sick and Kimble has to take over himself.  While there is still a lot of violence (so much it earned a PG-13 rating), nevertheless, much of the comedy comes from Schwarzenegger struggling and finally using his own tough method to deal with the kindergartners.  He does eventually find the wife and son, but not before drug dealer is set free due to lack of evidence.  The drug dealer then sets his sights on finding his missing son…

In The Pacifier (2005), Vin Diesel is Lieutenant Shane Wolf, a Navy SEAL who was originally assigned to protect Howard Plummer against some Serbian rebels.  However, they are caught and Howard is killed and Shane is injured. To finish the job, Shane is assigned to protect Howards’ wife and family, and look for a secret project that Howard was working on called GHOST, while his commanding officer, Bill Fawcett helps Howard’s wife figure out the password to something in safety deposit box.  Julie Plummer (Faith Ford) has five kids: teenagers Zoe and Seth, 9 year old Lulu, toddler Peter, and baby Tyler.  At first, Shane struggles to deal with the five kids, especially the older teenagers.  He also gets into a few humorous situations with Lulu’s Girl Scout troop, who has a rivalry with the local Boy Scout troop.  And of course he has to deal with the toddler and the baby.  As it turns out, GHOST is located underneath the house, and two ninjas, who are actually two Korean spies, try to get to the secret plans.  It’s up to Shane Wolf to save the day.  There is violence in this movie, but it is more silly and in keeping with other family movies.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stars in this Disney movie, called The Game Plan (2007).  In The Game Plan, Johnson plays Joe Kingman, who is a football star for the Boston Rebels.  He scores a game-winning touchdown but ignores an open receiver.  The next day, an 8 year old girl named Payton arrives on his doorstep, claiming to be her daughter.  After a few comedic complications, the pair starts to bond when Payton comes to his defense at a press conference and he in turn takes her to ballet practice.  With the help of the Ballet teacher, Joe starts to realize that ballet has as much athletic ability as football.  Joe and Payton have fun together on road games, but then complications arise because Joe finds out that her mother didn't know she left, and that Payton consumed nuts, to which she is allergic.  While Payton is ok, Joe finds out that Payton’s mother is actually dead, and she was staying with her mother’s sister.  Payton is taken home and Joe must face the championship game alone…until Payton shows up and tells him to never give up.  While it does contain no violence (except football tackling), it has some mild innuendos.


All three movies show the main character changed positively by his experience with kids.  In the first two movies, he changes his job to work with kids, and in the third, his priorities change from all about himself to all about his daughter.  Check out these movies of action heroes with kids.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Romance is for Other People Tidbit #36

Hello everyone! Here is Romance is for Other People Tidbit #36:

36. The name of the play at theater camp was Romeo and Juliet!

Look for a new tidbit next week!  Here are the last 35 tidbits:
1. I am releasing a novel in 2014.
2. The title is Romance is for Other People.
3. There are four main characters.
4. The first main character is Chris, male, 14 years old.
5. The second main character is Lydia, female, 14 years old.
6. The third main character is Jeremy, male, 16 years old.
7. The fourth main character is Amanda, female, 16 years old.
8.  The format is first person, split between the four main characters.
9.  The title is a quote from the novel.
10.  All the chapter titles are quotes.
11.  Plot summary (View Here)
12.  Genre: Modern Teen Drama-Comedy.  Just to be clear, it is not: Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Drama, Mystery, Western, or Musical.
13.  There will be a dance in chapter 3.  
14. Chapter 1 will be from Chris and Lydia's viewpoint.  Chapter 2 will be from Jeremy and Amanda's viewpoint.
15. Chris and Lydia will be auditioning for a play in Chapter 1.
16. Amanda has a best friend named Katie.
17. Chris and Lydia have not been dancing together before the beginning of the story.
18. Both Jeremy and Amanda play on basketball teams.
19. Chris Character Profile (View Here)
20. Lydia Character Profile (View Here)
21. Jeremy Character Profile (View Here
22. Amanda Character Profile (View Here)
23. Chris' Parents and Lydia's Parents are close friends with each other.
24. There is a fictional movie called Beautiful Disaster 
25.  There is a fictional band called Psycho Boyfriend
26. The main characters attend William Henry Harrison High School.
27. Chris and Lydia live on Hathaway Street
28. The release date is November 15, 2014!
29. Chris and Lydia live about a mile away from their school.
30. The play (that Chris & Lydia are auditioning for in Ch. 1) is A Midsummer Night's Dream.
31. Chris and Lydia's mantra with each other is "Best Friends Forever".
32. Chris and Lydia have known each other since they were three years old.
33. The story starts in late September.
34. Lydia and Chris went to theater camp together.
35. At theater camp, Chris and Lydia had lead roles.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Five Summer Camp Movies

Every summer, millions of kids go away to a camp.  Many come back with positive experiences and memories from their time at camp.  For most summer camp movies, the result is just the opposite.  These movies have rehashed and/or unbelievable plots, stereotypical characters and gross-out humor rather than smart, character driven stories.  But they nevertheless can have occasional moments of genuine pathos and humor.  (I did not focus on summer camp movies that were geared toward adults.)  Here they are:

The first movie is The Rainbow Tribe, in which a middle –aged man (David James Elliot), with his life in crisis, decides to work at the camp where he went as a kid.  He meets five ten-year-olds with each of their own problems, and after a couple misadventures, comes to bond with each of them and the whole cabin as a group.  One person who recommended the movie on IMDb admitted that the “troubled youths at summer camp” has been done a hundred times, so even though it has a positive message and is not as bad as some of the ones on this list, it doesn't tread any new territory.

Second on the list is Heavyweights, which involves a bunch of overweight boys going to a fat camp, which was initially a haven for overweight kids…until the original directors’ (an older husband and wife), with financial problems had to let their fitness obsessed son (Ben Stiller) take over.  What follows after that is typical high jinks as the boys and the counselors try to take the summer camp back from Ben Stiller’s character.  While the movie has a cult status among its fans, the critics gave it terrible reviews and did awful at the box office.

Earnest Goes to Camp is the third movie on this list.  Part of a series starring Jim Varney as the childish Earnest Worrell, this film has the title character going to a summer camp as a maintenance man who hopes to be counselor.  He has a chance when he decides to take on some juvenile delinquents who put another counselor in the hospital.  Meanwhile, the Indian owner of the camp is tricked by a mining corporation into selling the land to mine for a valuable mineral.  It’s up to Earnest and his troubled kids to save the day.  Again, among its fans, it has a cult status, and it was a modest box office success.  The movie garnered mixed-to-negative reviews, however.

The fourth movie is Meatballs (1979) is about a head counselor (Bill Murray) and his CITs who get into all sorts of trouble and high jinks at a Camp North Star.  Bill Murray’s character Tripper bonds with a camper with self-esteem problems (Rudy), while the CITs all deal with relationship troubles.  The other main plot is a show-down of competitive activities between Camp North Star and Camp Mohawk, in which the wealthier, snotty campers of the other camp dominate North Star at first.  But then after a rousing speech from Tripper, the campers start winning and a surprise run from Rudy gives North Star its victory.  Probably the best movie on the list, it had mixed to positive reviews and was a box office success.  Stay away from the sequels though.

The final movie on the list is Camp Nowhere.  In this movie, a young man named Mud and his friends don’t want to go to the specialty camps their parents signed them up for.  Then Mud has a great (or perhaps awful) idea: make their own camp with no counselors and do whatever they want.  They convince a drama teacher who owes money to a collector to help them with their scheme.  All of the parents agree to send their kids to camp, and everything goes great until the parents want to come out to see the camp, and the campers have to change their do-anything camp to one with all the specialty interests.  Probably the most ridiculous movie on this list, it has a cult following among the target age, who enjoy the wish-fulfillment element that the movie brings.  The movie was not critical or box office success.


There are plenty more summer camp movies to go around, but you get the idea.  Most of the rest would probably feature some of the elements or tropes featured in the above movies.  Hopefully someday there will be a summer camp movie that actually details the summer camp experience. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Romance is for Other People Tidbit #35

Hello everyone! Here is Romance is for Other People Tidbit #35:

35. At theater camp, Chris and Lydia had lead roles.

Look for a new tidbit next week!  Here are the last 34 tidbits:
1. I am releasing a novel in 2014.
2. The title is Romance is for Other People.
3. There are four main characters.
4. The first main character is Chris, male, 14 years old.
5. The second main character is Lydia, female, 14 years old.
6. The third main character is Jeremy, male, 16 years old.
7. The fourth main character is Amanda, female, 16 years old.
8.  The format is first person, split between the four main characters.
9.  The title is a quote from the novel.
10.  All the chapter titles are quotes.
11.  Plot summary (View Here)
12.  Genre: Modern Teen Drama-Comedy.  Just to be clear, it is not: Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Drama, Mystery, Western, or Musical.
13.  There will be a dance in chapter 3.  
14. Chapter 1 will be from Chris and Lydia's viewpoint.  Chapter 2 will be from Jeremy and Amanda's viewpoint.
15. Chris and Lydia will be auditioning for a play in Chapter 1.
16. Amanda has a best friend named Katie.
17. Chris and Lydia have not been dancing together before the beginning of the story.
18. Both Jeremy and Amanda play on basketball teams.
19. Chris Character Profile (View Here)
20. Lydia Character Profile (View Here)
21. Jeremy Character Profile (View Here
22. Amanda Character Profile (View Here)
23. Chris' Parents and Lydia's Parents are close friends with each other.
24. There is a fictional movie called Beautiful Disaster 
25.  There is a fictional band called Psycho Boyfriend
26. The main characters attend William Henry Harrison High School.
27. Chris and Lydia live on Hathaway Street
28. The release date is November 15, 2014!
29. Chris and Lydia live about a mile away from their school.
30. The play (that Chris & Lydia are auditioning for in Ch. 1) is A Midsummer Night's Dream.
31. Chris and Lydia's mantra with each other is "Best Friends Forever".
32. Chris and Lydia have known each other since they were three years old.
33. The story starts in late September.
34. Lydia and Chris went to theater camp together.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Three Sports Movies Where the Protagonist Doesn’t Win the Final Game (Spoilers)

It’s almost a given with sports movies that the good guy wins.  Down in the final game but not out, he or she or they pull together an amazing finish and are hoisted above their fan’s or team’s arms with their trophy in hand…except when they don’t.  There are a select few movies, either because it actually happened, or because winning wasn’t the point (wait…what?).  Instead, these movies focused on the protagonist person or team losing but with their heads held high.  They did the best they could do.  Obviously, this post contains spoilers!

Rocky (1976): Perhaps the most famous of all of these type of movies, Rocky focuses on Rocky Balboa, a dumb-sounding debt collector for a loan shark, who does some club fighting on the side.  Then as luck would have it, Apollo Creed, the heavyweight champion, needs a new fighter as the World Heavyweight Championship is suddenly without a fighter.  He decides on Rocky Balboa, simply because he likes his nickname, “The Italian Stallion.”  What makes the ending work is that Rocky wants to “go the distance” with Apollo, that is, give all he has in the fight, and trains as if he can.  The seriousness to the fight that Rocky brings enables him to knock Creed down (but not out) in the first fight and stay on for fifteen rounds.  While he is ultimately defeated, Rocky showed more importantly that he can “go the distance.”

Cool Runnings (1993).  This movie is a comedy focusing on the attempts of four Jamaican men trying out for the winter bobsled team.  The comedy comes from Jamaicans in a fish out of water type experience, where they try a sport they have never tried before to go to a place they have never been before, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  The four main characters, Derice (Leon), Sanka (Doug E. Doug), Junior (Rawle D. Lewis) and Yul (Malik Yoba) are comedic characters coached by Irving Blitzer, played by John Candy.  The team barely qualifies to the Olympics.  In their first attempt, they come in at 28th place.  But in their second attempt, they come in 8th place.  Feeling they may have a shot, they go in the final race for the gold.  But in that race their old sled flips over and crashes.  But instead of leaving dejected, they pick up their bobsled and walk across the finish line to cheers. 

Friday Night Lights (2004): This movie focuses on Permian Panthers High School football team in the small town Odessa, Texas.  Trouble stars when the team loses its star player, James Miles, to a torn ACL.  Now the team has to work together and start winning games without him.  The problem for the team (at least in the movie) is that entire livelihood of town is wrapped up in the success of its football team, so they have to deal with enormous pressure.  The team makes it to the playoffs, but in a three-way tie with two other teams.  Permian wins the coin toss and makes it to the finals.  This puts them against the stronger and more powerful Dallas Carter High School.  While do ultimately lose, they nevertheless give all they have to stop the team, and doing so earn the respect of their town and their loved ones. 

All of the above movies have one big thing in common: the personal victory is far, far greater than the physical victory.  All three pushed themselves to the limits of their ability and grew and changed from the experience.  In that way, these movies perhaps show a different side of sports altogether from the winning takes all attitudes most movies hold up on a pedestal.  And that is something that makes these movies all the more interesting and special. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Romance is for Other People Tidbit #34

Hello everyone! Here is Romance is for Other People Tidbit #34:

34. Lydia and Chris went to theater camp together.

Look for a new tidbit next week!  Here are the last 33 tidbits:
1. I am releasing a novel in 2014.
2. The title is Romance is for Other People.
3. There are four main characters.
4. The first main character is Chris, male, 14 years old.
5. The second main character is Lydia, female, 14 years old.
6. The third main character is Jeremy, male, 16 years old.
7. The fourth main character is Amanda, female, 16 years old.
8.  The format is first person, split between the four main characters.
9.  The title is a quote from the novel.
10.  All the chapter titles are quotes.
11.  Plot summary (View Here)
12.  Genre: Modern Teen Drama-Comedy.  Just to be clear, it is not: Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Drama, Mystery, Western, or Musical.
13.  There will be a dance in chapter 3.  
14. Chapter 1 will be from Chris and Lydia's viewpoint.  Chapter 2 will be from Jeremy and Amanda's viewpoint.
15. Chris and Lydia will be auditioning for a play in Chapter 1.
16. Amanda has a best friend named Katie.
17. Chris and Lydia have not been dancing together before the beginning of the story.
18. Both Jeremy and Amanda play on basketball teams.
19. Chris Character Profile (View Here)
20. Lydia Character Profile (View Here)
21. Jeremy Character Profile (View Here
22. Amanda Character Profile (View Here)
23. Chris' Parents and Lydia's Parents are close friends with each other.
24. There is a fictional movie called Beautiful Disaster 
25.  There is a fictional band called Psycho Boyfriend
26. The main characters attend William Henry Harrison High School.
27. Chris and Lydia live on Hathaway Street
28. The release date is November 15, 2014!
29. Chris and Lydia live about a mile away from their school.
30. The play (that Chris & Lydia are auditioning for in Ch. 1) is A Midsummer Night's Dream.
31. Chris and Lydia's mantra with each other is "Best Friends Forever".
32. Chris and Lydia have known each other since they were three years old.
33. The story starts in late September.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Four Disney Animated Romantic Duets

There’s something incredibly romantic about duets in movies. While songs sung by one person to another can certainly be romantic as well, the idea that two people already in love singing to each other confirms that the relationship has gone to a new level.  The two people are moving and singing in sync with each other, anticipating each other’s movements and actions.  Of course, the duets can also be significant to the plot as well.  In Animated Disney movies, the duets feature brilliant animation as well.  Here are four Disney Animated romantic duets, which are not part of a live-action movie (like Enchanted). 

First is the most famous of all duets: A Whole New World from Aladdin.  The song is majorly important to the plot: up to this point, Jasmine did not trust Aladdin, transformed into Prince Ali by the genie.  Jasmine had met Aladdin before in beggar clothes, and at a critical point when they were chased by soldiers, he asked Jasmine if she trusted him.  She said yes.  Now, Jasmine treated “Prince Ali” like any other prince who had courted her, with contempt and rejection.  So “Prince Ali” comes back a second time, and this time shows off his magic carpet to her, asking her to come with him, saying, “Do you trust me?”  Jasmine, realizing who it is, says knowingly, “Yes…”  Then Aladdin takes Jasmine on the ride of her life, seeing incredible sights and sounds.  And through the song, Jasmine finds herself falling for him. 

Second, there is “I see the Light” from Tangled.  Like Aladdin, the song is very important to the plot.  Rapunzel is taken to the capital city of Corona by Flynn Rider so she could see the lanterns that are released every year in the city, in exchange for the satchel that Flynn so desperately wants.  Rapunzel doesn’t completely trust Flynn Rider, and Flynn Rider isn’t completely honest about who he is to Rapunzel.  However, as they get closer to the city, they start bonding with each other and falling for each other.  After the reach the city, they take a boat out on the harbor and watch as the lanterns are released for the first time.  Rapunzel sings about finally achieving her dreams and Flynn sings about how he’s meant to be with her.  They finally begin to fall in love with each other.  But just as they are, about to kiss…

Thirdly, there is Once Upon a Dream by Sleeping Beauty.  Done very early in the movie, Aurora is has been living in the woods since she was a little girl, with only the forest animals for company.  The forest animals put on a coat and pretend to be a suitor.  Prince Philip, who has been watching the whole thing, and very much in love with Aurora, turns into Aurora’s arms when she spins.  At first, she resists, but at the end of the song, she relaxes and the two start dancing for real, very un-ironically falling for each other, having just met. 
Fourthly, and very ironically, is Love is an Open Door from Frozen.  Anna, who has lived a lonely life in the palace all her life, is overjoyed to meet Prince Hans, who immediately takes a shine to her too.  When they meet again after the coronation of her sister Elsa, they immediately steal away, and sing about how incredibly in tune they are with each other.  They must be meant to be, because they finish each other’s “sandwiches.” 
The song is ironic because [Spoiler] Hans is later revealed to be duplicitous towards Anna.  He’s not singing from his heart, he’s pretending to be in sync with her so that he can marry her and take over the kingdom.  Thus, the song viewed a second time takes on a totally new meaning and feeling than the first time it’s viewed.  But it is also the funniest and bounciest of the four, while the first three are more serious duets.


All the duets are extremely catchy and very fun to watch.  Check out these songs from Disney, there’s some of the best!  

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Romance is for Other People Tidbit #33

Hello everyone! Here is Romance is for Other People Tidbit #33:

33. The story starts in late September.

Look for a new tidbit next week!  Here are the last 32 tidbits:
1. I am releasing a novel in 2014.
2. The title is Romance is for Other People.
3. There are four main characters.
4. The first main character is Chris, male, 14 years old.
5. The second main character is Lydia, female, 14 years old.
6. The third main character is Jeremy, male, 16 years old.
7. The fourth main character is Amanda, female, 16 years old.
8.  The format is first person, split between the four main characters.
9.  The title is a quote from the novel.
10.  All the chapter titles are quotes.
11.  Plot summary (View Here)
12.  Genre: Modern Teen Drama-Comedy.  Just to be clear, it is not: Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Drama, Mystery, Western, or Musical.
13.  There will be a dance in chapter 3.  
14. Chapter 1 will be from Chris and Lydia's viewpoint.  Chapter 2 will be from Jeremy and Amanda's viewpoint.
15. Chris and Lydia will be auditioning for a play in Chapter 1.
16. Amanda has a best friend named Katie.
17. Chris and Lydia have not been dancing together before the beginning of the story.
18. Both Jeremy and Amanda play on basketball teams.
19. Chris Character Profile (View Here)
20. Lydia Character Profile (View Here)
21. Jeremy Character Profile (View Here
22. Amanda Character Profile (View Here)
23. Chris' Parents and Lydia's Parents are close friends with each other.
24. There is a fictional movie called Beautiful Disaster 
25.  There is a fictional band called Psycho Boyfriend
26. The main characters attend William Henry Harrison High School.
27. Chris and Lydia live on Hathaway Street
28. The release date is November 15, 2014!
29. Chris and Lydia live about a mile away from their school.
30. The play (that Chris & Lydia are auditioning for in Ch. 1) is A Midsummer Night's Dream.
31. Chris and Lydia's mantra with each other is "Best Friends Forever".
32. Chris and Lydia have known each other since they were three years old.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

YouTube: Four Examples of New Exclusive Entertainment

While there are other video sites out there, Youtube’s ease of use (including its easy upload ability, at least compared to some) and simple format has led it to dominate the online video market.  With the rise of Youtube comes the rise of new content.  This content has some similarities with TV, and some aspects that are more original.  I’m going to give as examples four video series that release exclusively on the web, and have a major presence on Youtube: WatchMojo.com, Bored Shorts TV: Kid Snippets, PBS Idea Channel, and SHAYTARDS.

The first is WatchMojo.com.  This channel does list-based videos, based almost exclusively now on viewer suggestions, and typically run between 10 to 15 minutes.  A few recent examples include: “Top 10 Monty Python Flying Circus Moments,” “Top 10 Alternative Bands of the 2000s, “Top 10 Superhero Teams.”  While the lists occasionally go towards a “real life” topic (a recent example would be “Top 10 Scams”), most are about pop culture elements, movies, TV, video games, music.  In addition, there are also cliff-notes versions of books called “Top 10 Notes,” and beginnings of comic book characters, called either “Superhero Origins” or “Villain Origins.”  WatchMojo also has some sister sites, WatchMojoFashion, WatchMojoTravel, WatchMojoHealth, WatchMojoLifestyle, which sometimes feature the Top 10 format that the parent mojo.com Youtube channel site uses.

Bored Shorts TV: Kid Snippets take a very simple idea, kids talking and or acting out a particular subject they are given, and then provide a twist: adults acting out the scenes the kids came up with.  The adults “lip sync” to the lines said by the kids.  The effect is an extremely look at how kids see the world.  A few recent examples include: “Ultimate Workout,” “Star Wars Cantina,” and “Going to Grandma’s.”  Two of my favorite videos are, “Proposal” and “My Teacher is an Alien.” The video are posted every Monday and typically run between two to three minutes.  The precursors to these videos were called “Kid History” and ran 7 to 8 minutes long.  The format was very similar: the kids talk about a particular scene in detail and adults acting out what the kids were talking about, but were only posted every few months.  The “Kid Snippets” show is the natural progression of the extremely popular “Kid History” videos, in a weekly format. 

The PBS Idea Channel is a good example how a national network like PBS can successfully release content on the web that is not simply clips of shows or deleted scenes from shows.  The videos are hosted by Mike Rugnetta and he talks about “a show that examines the connections between Pop Culture, Technology and Art.”  He starts every video by saying, “Here’s an idea,” and then states or asks the topic of the day, some which are: “The Future of Fandoms,” “Do You Choose to Have Your Privacy Invaded by Using Tech?,” “Can You Make a Movie So Bad It’s Good On Purpose?”  The first half of the video, he brings up very interesting discussion points and uses images and videos grabbed from the web as he makes his point.  The second half of the video is him responding to good/interesting comments on the last video, which like WatchMojo.com, really brings in an interactive quality that is not usually possible with Television. 

The SHAYTARDS vlog is a good example of the reality-show type videos that exists on the web of people who post videos of their daily life.  This one focuses on Shay Carl Butler, his wife Colette, son Gavin (Sontard), daughter Avia (Princesstard), daughter Emmi (Babytard), son Brock (Rocktard), son Daxton (Brotard).  (The “tard” names were originally to have some privacy with the kid names in the vlogs, but with the announcement that Colette was pregnant with Daxton, that aspect has been dropped and now functions more like a nickname).  The daily vlog started on March 4, 2009 when overweight, cash-strapped Shay Carl decided to do something brilliant: make a video diary of every day of the last year of his twenties.  Now in its 6th year (though in 6th year, the vlogs are Monday-Friday), Shay has lost weight and is a founding partner of Maker Studios, which was recently bought by Disney; but the core of the videos, daily life with his family has remained unchanged.


These are just some of the exclusively web-based videos out there today.  As content continues to change and grow, new exclusive online entertainment will change and grow as well.  

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Romance is for Other People Tidbit #32

Hello everyone! Here is Romance is for Other People Tidbit #32:

32. Chris and Lydia have known each other since they were three years old.

Look for a new tidbit next week!  Here are the last 31 tidbits:
1. I am releasing a novel in 2014.
2. The title is Romance is for Other People.
3. There are four main characters.
4. The first main character is Chris, male, 14 years old.
5. The second main character is Lydia, female, 14 years old.
6. The third main character is Jeremy, male, 16 years old.
7. The fourth main character is Amanda, female, 16 years old.
8.  The format is first person, split between the four main characters.
9.  The title is a quote from the novel.
10.  All the chapter titles are quotes.
11.  Plot summary (View Here)
12.  Genre: Modern Teen Drama-Comedy.  Just to be clear, it is not: Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Drama, Mystery, Western, or Musical.
13.  There will be a dance in chapter 3.  
14. Chapter 1 will be from Chris and Lydia's viewpoint.  Chapter 2 will be from Jeremy and Amanda's viewpoint.
15. Chris and Lydia will be auditioning for a play in Chapter 1.
16. Amanda has a best friend named Katie.
17. Chris and Lydia have not been dancing together before the beginning of the story.
18. Both Jeremy and Amanda play on basketball teams.
19. Chris Character Profile (View Here)
20. Lydia Character Profile (View Here)
21. Jeremy Character Profile (View Here
22. Amanda Character Profile (View Here)
23. Chris' Parents and Lydia's Parents are close friends with each other.
24. There is a fictional movie called Beautiful Disaster 
25.  There is a fictional band called Psycho Boyfriend
26. The main characters attend William Henry Harrison High School.
27. Chris and Lydia live on Hathaway Street
28. The release date is November 15, 2014!
29. Chris and Lydia live about a mile away from their school.
30. The play (that Chris & Lydia are auditioning for in Ch. 1) is A Midsummer Night's Dream.
31. Chris and Lydia's mantra with each other is "Best Friends Forever".

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Movies based on theme park rides

Theme park rides are generally thought of as having been based on movies.  Disney did particularly well with basing famous rides on existing movies (Peter Pan’s Flight, Mad Tea Party and Mr. Toads’ Wild Ride as a few examples).  Universal is known for creating entire lands based on movie franchises (the Wizarding World of Harry Potter being the most famous).  But for a brief period, there were a handful of movies based on existing Disney Theme Park rides.  While some of them were not so great, a select one or two were actually quite entertaining. 

The Made-For-TV movie “Tower of Terror” was made in 1997 and shows Disney testing the waters.  The original “Tower of Terror” was based on the Twilight Zone TV series, but this movie ignores that reference (probably due to massive licensing fees).  In any case, the story follows reporter Buzzy Crocker and his niece Anna, who investigate the mysterious disappearance of five people in the Hollywood Tower Hotel in 1939.  Along the way, they meet an old lady named Abigail, who turns out to be the sister of young child star Sally who disappeared all those years ago, and may hold the key to why they all vanished…

In 2000 Disney made “Mission to Mars”, which was based on the ride of the same name that was open from 1975 to 1992 in the Magic Kingdom.  Gary Sinise leads a group of astronauts who travel to Mars on a mission to find and investigate what happened to the astronauts on the first mission, which ended in tragedy.  Unfortunately, the movie was panned by critics and had only a modest box office.  It’s a mostly forgotten chapter of movies based on theme park rides.

In 2002, the first of three movies based on popular Disney rides were released theatrically.  This one was called The Country Bears, based on the animatronics show, The Country Bear Jamboree.  It focuses on a young Bear, Beary Barrington, who decides to find the band the Country Bears, which had broken up.  He finds the bears and convinces them to put on show to save their old concert hall, Country Bear Hall.  The movie had terrible reviews and box office returns, leaving it as interesting note in the history of theme park ride movies. 

In the summer of 2003, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was released.  The movie starts with young Elizabeth Swann, the daughter of a governor, discovering young Will Turner adrift in the water.  Eight years later, Will Turner is a blacksmith’s apprentice and Elizabeth was just proposed to by Commodore Norrington, but she is saved by the Pirate Jack Sparrow.  However, there is danger afoot: pirates attack the harbor and kidnap Elizabeth.  It’s up to Jack and Will to save her and find treasure.  The movie had mixed to positive reviews and was a huge financial success, incorporating the elements of the ride subtly with the story.  The movie was followed by three sequels, the first two of which (Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End) were a continuous story line and the third being a stand-alone story. 

In the fall of 2003, Disney released The Haunted Mansion.  Starring Eddie Murphy, the movie focuses on a workaholic realtor father (Murphy) and wife and business partner and their two kids who go to Gracy Manor to do a business deal.  When they arrive, the find out the Mansion is haunted by ghosts who must be set free by Master Gracy and his lover Elizabeth, who must be reunited.  Of course, through the film the father learns to appreciate his wife and children.  The movie had the worst reviews of all of the theme park ride movies, but at the same time, it grossed $182 million worldwide on a $90 million budget, making it a modest success. 


For a while, with the exception the “Pirates,” franchise, that was the end of theme park movies.  Then it was announced that in 2015 a new movie called Tomorrowland will be released.  As long as the story is interesting and the characters are engaging (not an easy task), then the new films will succeed.  

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Romance is for Other People Tidbit #31

Hello everyone! Here is Romance is for Other People Tidbit #31:

31. Chris and Lydia's mantra with each other is "Best Friends Forever".

Look for a new tidbit next week!  Here are the last 30 tidbits:
1. I am releasing a novel in 2014.
2. The title is Romance is for Other People.
3. There are four main characters.
4. The first main character is Chris, male, 14 years old.
5. The second main character is Lydia, female, 14 years old.
6. The third main character is Jeremy, male, 16 years old.
7. The fourth main character is Amanda, female, 16 years old.
8.  The format is first person, split between the four main characters.
9.  The title is a quote from the novel.
10.  All the chapter titles are quotes.
11.  Plot summary (View Here)
12.  Genre: Modern Teen Drama-Comedy.  Just to be clear, it is not: Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Drama, Mystery, Western, or Musical.
13.  There will be a dance in chapter 3.  
14. Chapter 1 will be from Chris and Lydia's viewpoint.  Chapter 2 will be from Jeremy and Amanda's viewpoint.
15. Chris and Lydia will be auditioning for a play in Chapter 1.
16. Amanda has a best friend named Katie.
17. Chris and Lydia have not been dancing together before the beginning of the story.
18. Both Jeremy and Amanda play on basketball teams.
19. Chris Character Profile (View Here)
20. Lydia Character Profile (View Here)
21. Jeremy Character Profile (View Here
22. Amanda Character Profile (View Here)
23. Chris' Parents and Lydia's Parents are close friends with each other.
24. There is a fictional movie called Beautiful Disaster 
25.  There is a fictional band called Psycho Boyfriend
26. The main characters attend William Henry Harrison High School.
27. Chris and Lydia live on Hathaway Street
28. The release date is November 15, 2014!
29. Chris and Lydia live about a mile away from their school.
30. The play (that Chris & Lydia are auditioning for in Ch. 1) is A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Broadway Shows I Want to See

Broadway in New York City is considered one of the best places to see musicals and other plays.  In fact, the pressure is so high; many productions test the waters somewhere else, doing a preview production in another city before coming to New York.  Also, as a general rule, a production must be a musical.  Sure, there are dramatic plays in NYC, but the big budget ones that get all the attention are the musicals.  With that in mind, here are the Broadway musicals I’m dying to see!  Since I don’t live in New York, here’s hoping that maybe a US tour will bring it to my city.

The musical that has most piqued my interest is Matilda, based on the macabre tale by Roald Dahl.  The play originally started in the UK and became a huge hit there, scored more Oliviers (their Tonys) than any other production in history.  Matilda Wormwood is a 5-year-old who has self-centered, selfish parents and attends school for the first time.  She encounters the kind Miss Honey and the evil headmaster Miss Trunchbull.  With a biting sense of humor and careful attention to the agency of the children, this musical is a special production.  The children ultimately rise up against Miss Trunchbull’s tyranny and she leaves the school.  As this is going on, Matilda is slowly realizing she has special abilities that no one else has.  Matilda has four young girls who alternate the title role.  Another fascinating fact about this production: Miss Trunchbull is played by a man, originated by Bertie Carvel in both the London and the New York production.  Standout songs include Naughty (Matilda’s standout song), Quiet, When I Grow Up (the big emotional piece), and Revolting Children. 
Aladdin is the second musical that I would love to see.  The most recent of the three Disney productions currently on Broadway, it is based on the 1991 animated feature, also one of my favorites.  Jafar is an evil advisor to the Sultan of Agrabah, who desires the lamp in the Cave of Wonders, but the mythical Cave is looking for only one person, “the Diamond in the Rough.”  This turns out to be Aladdin, a street rat who while running from soldiers runs into the beautiful princess Jasmine, disguised as a begger.  Aladdin is captured and put in prison, and then kidnapped by Jafar for his secret mission.  Aladdin passes the test and finds the lamp, only to be surprised that a genie is inside it.  Aladdin, heartsick for the Princess Jasmine, wishes to be a prince to court Jasmine.  Genie transforms him into Prince Ali, who returns to Agrabah.  Jasmine is initially wary of Prince Ali, and Jafar is suspicious of the Prince who looks very familiar….  Completely hilarious due to the zany humor of the Genie, the broadways show premiered in Seattle in 2011, and had a few other productions, until its official Pre-Broadway tryout in Toronto.  The show officially premiered on March 20, 2014 (previews started on February 26).  Standout songs include, Prince Ali, Friend like Me, Arabian Nights, and the big love duet, A Whole New World.

Wicked is another musical that is near the top of my list.  Wicked is a prequel of the legendary movie and book Wizard of Oz.  Wicked tells the story of two people, Elphaba the green-skinned, acid tongued but good hearted witch who finds out her roommate at Shiz University is Glinda the spoiled but well-meaning witch.  Elphaba and Glinda at first hate each other but due to a misunderstanding, Elphaba starts to reconsider and starts being kind to Glinda, who is in turn kind to Elphaba. Elphaba, as it turns out, has a natural ability for magic, making her a standout student and gives her an audience with the Wizard.  She uses her ability to make the winged monkeys, but at the cost of their speech and spell is irreversible.  She refuses to go along with the Wizard’s plans and escapes, so he responds by calling her wicked and makes a call for her capture.  She escapes to Munchkinland to her sister, but ultimately decides to return to set free the Flying Monkeys, which she does and then escapes.  Madame Morrible, who works with the Wizard, sends the cyclone which kills Elphaba’s sister and brings Dorothy to Oz.  Meanwhile, the three characters who Dorothy meets are given back-stories.  The rest of the play is the story from the movie and original book told from Elphaba’s point of view, along with a twist ending.  Standout songs include Popular, Defying Gravity, For Good, and What is this Feeling? 


Maybe someday I will have enough money to go to New York and see these awesome musicals, but until then, I will appreciate the soundtrack and reading about it online.  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Romance is for Other People Tidbit #30

Hello everyone! Here is Romance is for Other People Tidbit #30:

30. The play (that Chris & Lydia are auditioning for in Ch. 1) is A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Look for a new tidbit next Wednesday!  Here are the last 29 tidbits:
1. I am releasing a novel in 2014.
2. The title is Romance is for Other People.
3. There are four main characters.
4. The first main character is Chris, male, 14 years old.
5. The second main character is Lydia, female, 14 years old.
6. The third main character is Jeremy, male, 16 years old.
7. The fourth main character is Amanda, female, 16 years old.
8.  The format is first person, split between the four main characters.
9.  The title is a quote from the novel.
10.  All the chapter titles are quotes.
11.  Plot summary (View Here)
12.  Genre: Modern Teen Drama-Comedy.  Just to be clear, it is not: Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Drama, Mystery, Western, or Musical.
13.  There will be a dance in chapter 3.  
14. Chapter 1 will be from Chris and Lydia's viewpoint.  Chapter 2 will be from Jeremy and Amanda's viewpoint.
15. Chris and Lydia will be auditioning for a play in Chapter 1.
16. Amanda has a best friend named Katie.
17. Chris and Lydia have not been dancing together before the beginning of the story.
18. Both Jeremy and Amanda play on basketball teams.
19. Chris Character Profile (View Here)
20. Lydia Character Profile (View Here)
21. Jeremy Character Profile (View Here
22. Amanda Character Profile (View Here)
23. Chris' Parents and Lydia's Parents are close friends with each other.
24. There is a fictional movie called Beautiful Disaster 
25.  There is a fictional band called Psycho Boyfriend
26. The main characters attend William Henry Harrison High School.
27. Chris and Lydia live on Hathaway Street
28. The release date is November 15, 2014!
29. Chris and Lydia live about a mile away from their school.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

In Praise of Doc and Sue Thomas F.B.Eye

On August 31st, 1998, Lowell “Bud” Paxson created the national network Pax.  Designed to be a place for families to watch without the excessive violence or sexual content that plagued other networks, the show’s original programming was family friendly.  While not all the shows produced on Pax were Christian, on this network, religious, Christian programming was produced on a national scale for the first time.  Two of these shows were Doc, starring Billy Ray Cyrus, and Sue Thomas F.B.Eye, starring Dianne Bray. 

Doc was created by brothers David Alan Johnson and Gary R. Johnson.  Doc follows Billy Ray Cyrus as Clint “Doc” Cassidy, a Montana doctor in a rural town who travels to New York City to pursue his girlfriend, a reporter named Samantha who was on assignment in Montana.  When he gets to the big city, he finds a job with Westbury Clinic in downtown New York.  However, his county ways run in conflict with the big city lifestyle his reporter girlfriend was used to, and they break up.  His folksy ways aren’t appreciated initially at the clinic either by some, like Donna Dewitt, the hospital administrator and Dr. Oliver Crane, though some of the staff take a shine to him, like the nurse Nancy Nichols and Dr. Derek Herbert.  At the same time, he befriends a Hispanic mother and son living in the basement of a church.  When the mother becomes sick, she makes Clint promise to take care of her son, named Raul, and he does.  He also meets Nate Jackson, a police officer and apartment building supervisor.  Nate helps Clint find an apartment where he stays for the run of the show.  Ultimately, Raul is adopted by Nate and Beverly instead of Doc, because Clint recognizes a two-parent household is better than a single parent household.  A typical episode features a guest with some medical or mental problem and Clint tries to help them with their problem, along with scenes of interaction between the clinic staff and Clint’s time in the apartment complex with Nate, Beverly and Raul.  The episode always ends with Doc writing to his older mentor, Dr. Harley Johanson, about the week’s events.  During the first season, Tippy Williams joined the cast as a slightly loopy but quick on her feet secretary, providing some of comic relief on the show.  Doc shared a slightly flirtatious relationship with Nancy, but he never acted on it until the final episode.  The longest storyline in the show was the relationship between Tippy and the straight-laced solider Steve Doss, which ultimately resulted in their marriage and child in the final episode.  Much of the clinic atmosphere remained unchanged throughout the shows’ run, though for a four episode arc in season 3 and first episode of season 4; a man named Richard Black comes to promise positive change only to not deliver, resulting in Donna Dewitt losing her job and Clint quitting.  In the final episode, he is revealed for the fraud he is and everything is set back to right.  The show’s family friendly nature enabled it to last 5 seasons (4 production seasons) and 88 episodes. 

Sue Thomas F.B.Eye was based on a true story.  Sue Thomas was an actual deaf lip-reader who would watch surveillance and other video and tell the investigators what they subjects in the video were saying.  In this fictionalized version of the story, Sue Thomas travels across the county away from her family to join the F.B.I.  Her unique skills were put to good use in the pilot episode, and she receives a job.  She also finds a roommate with Lucy Dodson, who is the base coordinator and unit office manager.  She befriends the other members of the unit, Jack Hudson, the unit leader, Bobby Manning, an Australian charmer, Demetrius Gans, a senior agent and often supervisor, and Miles Leland, whose ego and poor attitude sometimes gets him in trouble with his fellow agents, and Tara Williams, the computer expert.  Also in the pilot episode she gets a “hearing dog” named Levi, who helps notify her to noises such as the doorbell.  Sue Thomas was more action packed than Doc by the nature of its setting, but it never had overly graphic or excessive violence.  Like Doc, there was a lot of time spend on the interpersonal relationships between the F.B.I. unit.  Unlike Doc, the show had several exciting cliff-hangers, leaving things unresolved or the characters in peril.  Sue Thomas shared a mild flirtation with Jack Hudson but ultimately, in the final episode did not act on it.  Unlike Doc, which ended when everyone including the creators and star felt was right, Sue Thomas was cancelled at the height of its popularity because CTV, its Canadian co-producer (it was made in Toronto) pulled out of funding.  The show lasted 3 seasons and 56 episodes. 

While the first season of Doc is only available right now, in 2010 the entirety of Sue Thomas F.B.Eye was released on DVD!  Check out these two awesome show and hope that we ultimately get to see all of Doc! 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Romance is for Other People Tidbit #29

Hello everyone! Here is Romance is for Other People Tidbit #29:

29. Chris and Lydia live about a mile away from their school.

Look for a new tidbit next Wednesday!  Here are the last 28 tidbits:
1. I am releasing a novel in 2014.
2. The title is Romance is for Other People.
3. There are four main characters.
4. The first main character is Chris, male, 14 years old.
5. The second main character is Lydia, female, 14 years old.
6. The third main character is Jeremy, male, 16 years old.
7. The fourth main character is Amanda, female, 16 years old.
8.  The format is first person, split between the four main characters.
9.  The title is a quote from the novel.
10.  All the chapter titles are quotes.
11.  Plot summary (View Here)
12.  Genre: Modern Teen Drama-Comedy.  Just to be clear, it is not: Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Drama, Mystery, Western, or Musical.
13.  There will be a dance in chapter 3.  
14. Chapter 1 will be from Chris and Lydia's viewpoint.  Chapter 2 will be from Jeremy and Amanda's viewpoint.
15. Chris and Lydia will be auditioning for a play in Chapter 1.
16. Amanda has a best friend named Katie.
17. Chris and Lydia have not been dancing together before the beginning of the story.
18. Both Jeremy and Amanda play on basketball teams.
19. Chris Character Profile (View Here)
20. Lydia Character Profile (View Here)
21. Jeremy Character Profile (View Here
22. Amanda Character Profile (View Here)
23. Chris' Parents and Lydia's Parents are close friends with each other.
24. There is a fictional movie called Beautiful Disaster 
25.  There is a fictional band called Psycho Boyfriend
26. The main characters attend William Henry Harrison High School.
27. Chris and Lydia live on Hathaway Street
28. The release date is November 15, 2014!

Friday, July 11, 2014

The J.J. Abrams Trifecta

J.J. Abrams is known for creating extraordinary stories with heartfelt human drama.  His ability with human drama was showcased in his early films like Regarding Henry.  After writing screenplays for several years, however, it was his role in three television shows that catapulted him into stardom.  He finally got notice with these three shows: Felicity, Alias and Lost.  Each shows a different side of J.J. Abrams personality and character.  Here I am going to profile each of the three shows. 

Felicity premiered in the fall of 1997 on the WB (what is now the CW).  Felicity focused on Felicity Porter’s adventures in the University of New York.  Each of the shows four seasons corresponds to Felicity’s four years in college.  The show featured the semi-regular device of Felicity recording a tape to send to her friend Sally.  Felicity starts with the title character deciding to go across the country to her friend Ben’s university after he wrote in her yearbook that he wanted to know her better.  Eventually she realizes she needed to go not only for him but for herself, to pursue her own path away from her family’s ideals (she was originally supposed to go to Sanford).  The show from then on follows Felicity’s college life, as well as romantic complications with Ben and with Noel, a resident advisor at the college.  Felicity’s college struggles and romantic triangles ultimately come to a surprising conclusion, when J.J. Abrams and the other writers use time travel in the final season to answer a “what-if” question about who Felicity will end up with eventually.  The time travel episodes were much maligned, but nevertheless it showcased how J.J. Abrams was experimenting with supernatural or fantastic elements to tell human stories.  The show left the airwaves in 2002.

Alias premiered in 2001 and was an immediate hit.  Almost always ever changing, the show started with a graduate student named Sydney Bristow who recently became engaged…and is a secret agent for a division of the CIA known as SD-6.  In the pilot episode, Sydney tells her fiancĂ© about her secret life – and he is immediately killed for it.  Then she finds out that SD-6 is actually a fake CIA branch and is actually part of an evil group called the Alliance of Twelve, though only a select few know this.  She completes her mission in the episode, and then immediately goes to the CIA and tells them everything, and agrees to become a double agent.  Complicating things is the fact that her father is also a double agent inside SD-6.  Every episode in the first season ended with a cliffhanger, which was resolved in the opening scene of the next episode.  The first season also had three major storylines: Sydney’s missions with SD-6, her time with the CIA, and her life as a graduate student trying to finish her studies with her friends.  Throughout the entire run of the show, the show focused on a renaissance inventor named Milo Rambaldi and the artifacts which may or may not have special powers.  In Season Two, the show made a huge change when in the big Superbowl episode, Sydney and her CIA partner Michael Vaughn team up to take down SD-6 once and for all.  They succeed and kiss in the final moments of the episode, changing the show forever.  The rest of the season is them taking down the remnants of the Alliance of Twelve.  At the end of the third season, the show again took a huge leap when Sydney, after being nearly killed by Allison, who was impersonating her best friend Francie, wakes up two years later with her boyfriend Vaughn married to someone else.  The third season obviously deals with the fallout from that, and reveals not surprisingly that the woman Vaughn married in a traitor.  In the fourth season, the characters start a version of SD-6 but this time approved within the government called APO.  The fifth season deals with Sydney’s pregnancy while trying to be a secret agent at the same time.  One thing about the show that stands out: the show was always changing, the fifth season very different from the first.  J.J. Abrams and the writers may not have always known what they were doing, but they always kept us on our toes.

Lost premiered in the fall of 2004, to immediate critical acclaim and was a ratings hit.  The show, about a group of plane crash survivors on a mysterious and inhabited island, was the crowning achievement of J.J. Abram’s television career.  However, he is mostly only known for the first two seasons and left to pursue other projects after the third season premiere.  Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse were more associated as the creative force behind Lost for most of the shows’ run.  Still, the first season is considered one of the shows’ best, before the reveals led to more and more questions.  The reason the first season did work so well was that the rules for the island and the show itself were not yet established, so anything could happen.  The polar bear in the pilot episode was the first extraordinary thing, and then later a monster that has unknown properties.  Several episodes later, the passenger manifest reveals one of the people on the island was not on the plane, and he suddenly turns dangerous when the truth is revealed.  Not only that, a mysterious metal hatch has been found on the island.  Complementing this fact is the human drama of the varied main characters, a doctor who becomes a leader, a captured female convict, a father and son, a pregnant woman, a drug-addicted musician, just to name a few, with flashbacks in each episode spotlighting individual characters.  While Lost in the following seasons was criticized for the direction the show took in explaining the mysteries and changing the show, nevertheless the focus was just as much on the characters as it was on the resolving the elements of the island. 

Later on, J.J. Abrams did create and produce Fringe, but this was after he had established himself as a sought-after director with films like Mission Impossible III.  The three shows that put him on the map were Felicity, Alias, and Lost, each one having a bigger impact on popular culture than the last.  While each one had varying quality from beginning to end, each one was nevertheless just as entertaining throughout the show’s span.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Romance is for Other People Tidbit #28 (Big Announcement!)

Hello everyone! Here is Romance is for Other People Tidbit #28: The Big Announcement!

28. The release date is November 15, 2014!

More details about the release in the fall!

Look for a new tidbit next Wednesday!  Here are the last 26 tidbits:
1. I am releasing a novel in 2014.
2. The title is Romance is for Other People.
3. There are four main characters.
4. The first main character is Chris, male, 14 years old.
5. The second main character is Lydia, female, 14 years old.
6. The third main character is Jeremy, male, 16 years old.
7. The fourth main character is Amanda, female, 16 years old.
8.  The format is first person, split between the four main characters.
9.  The title is a quote from the novel.
10.  All the chapter titles are quotes.
11.  Plot summary (View Here)
12.  Genre: Modern Teen Drama-Comedy.  Just to be clear, it is not: Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Drama, Mystery, Western, or Musical.
13.  There will be a dance in chapter 3.  
14. Chapter 1 will be from Chris and Lydia's viewpoint.  Chapter 2 will be from Jeremy and Amanda's viewpoint.
15. Chris and Lydia will be auditioning for a play in Chapter 1.
16. Amanda has a best friend named Katie.
17. Chris and Lydia have not been dancing together before the beginning of the story.
18. Both Jeremy and Amanda play on basketball teams.
19. Chris Character Profile (View Here)
20. Lydia Character Profile (View Here)
21. Jeremy Character Profile (View Here
22. Amanda Character Profile (View Here)
23. Chris' Parents and Lydia's Parents are close friends with each other.
24. There is a fictional movie called Beautiful Disaster 
25.  There is a fictional band called Psycho Boyfriend
26. The main characters attend William Henry Harrison High School.
27. Chris and Lydia live on Hathaway Street

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Whose Line is it Anyway’s Colin & Ryan: Greatest Duo Ever?

On the Fifth of April 1991, in the third series (the name for season in UK shows) of the British improvisational show Whose Line is it Anyway, Colin Mochrie appeared for the second time on the show and Ryan Stiles appeared on the fourth on the show.  For those who don’t know, Whose Line is it Anyway is an improv show where the performers do “games” or improvised scenes with suggestions provided by the audience or by the host.  In Whose Line, the “games” are assigned points (many times arbitrary and useless) and then at the end a winner is declared.  What the games and points part did was to give a little structure to the improvisational skits that the performers did for the audience. 

In any case, right before the very first game, “Film, Television and Theater Styles,” you can see Ryan Stiles shake Colin’s hand and say “good luck.”  Who knew this would be the start of an incredible partnership.  By the time the fifth series rolled around, Ryan Stiles was one of the regular performers, appearing in nearly every episode, and Colin Mochrie was a regular rotating player, appearing in four or five times a season.  Finally in the 8th season, Colin and Ryan were appearing in every single episode together.  Clearly, by that point, their chemistry together was making them a sought after duo.  From series 8 to series 10, they were together in every single episode.

Just as the British Show was on its last legs, it was brought to America by sitcom star Drew Carey.  Ryan Stiles, who was a regular on The Drew Carey Show, introduced Drew Carey to the improv show, and he brought it to the network, ABC.  (While third chair favorite Wayne Brady was not quite a regular, he did appear in most of the first season episodes and from then on appeared in appeared in every episode following that first season).  Colin and Ryan were regulars from the start, and their chemistry already developed from their British days that the American audience grew to love and appreciate the duo even more.  Here are just a few examples of their hilarity: A regular “game” of the American Whose Line during this time was called “Greatest Hits” and featured Colin and Ryan as TV pitchmen selling a compilation album around a particular theme (“Songs of the Fireman,” “Songs of the Lunch Lady,” etc.), while Wayne Brady (and a fourth, if they also could sing) would sing the title and performance style that Colin and Ryan suggested.  However, Ryan would set up Colin by asking questions, “what comes to mind when I say…” and would sometimes put two seemingly nonsensical items together and ask their connection.  Colin wouldn’t bite and would come up with something completely of the wall.  Another example would be Narrate (doing a parody of a film noir sequence), and Colin and Ryan would try to top each other with dramatic pauses and outlandish twists.  The game “Sound Effects” had two versions, both hilarious: in the first, Colin would act out (silently) to sound effects done by Ryan, and in the second version, Colin and Ryan would act out sound effects by two audience members; the audience member version typically would get the biggest laughs because Colin and Ryan would deliberately misinterpret the audio cues done by the audience members.  Improbable Mission, a mission impossible parody with a ludicrous mission, was a fourth game that showed off the skills of Colin and Ryan, with each performer trying to top each other with the craziest, funniest solution to solving their mission. 

Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and in 2004, Whose Line was cancelled by ABC.  While unaired recorded sessions of the show eventually made its way to ABC family from 2005 to 2007, the show had seen the last of the incredible duo.  Colin and Ryan appeared together for a while with Drew Carey’s live touring show, Drew Carey’s Improv All-Stars, but then Ryan Stiles took a break.  But then in 2011, Drew Carey’s Improv-A-Ganza premiered and while not successful, nevertheless featured Colin and Ryan together for the first time in several years.  Finally, in 2013, the unthinkable happened: the CW brought back Whose Line is it Anyway, with the three favorite performers, Colin, Ryan, and Wayne and a new host, Aisha Tyler.  Finally, and amazingly the duo was back.  Here’s to hoping that Colin and Ryan will entertain us for years to come.