Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Couch



We've been talking about getting a new couch for a while. The one we have is this little love seat from Stephanie's sister. Now we've finally pulled the trigger and gotten a small couch from Cost Plus that we've had our eye on--one that's wider and more open. Funny thing is, now that the new couch is on its way, we're starting to see the value of our old couch in ways we never did. It really is a pretty nice piece of furniture. You know, not some Ikea pretend starter thing. There's a good chance it was a more expensive piece than the one we're replacing it with. It's sad, letting this couch go. We've had it for years and it was in Stephanie's family even longer. But it's impractical to try to ship it or move it up north to her sister's house, so now we have to sell it. We were thinking about asking for $300 but after looking at the going rates on Craigslist, maybe $200 is more competitive.

We're getting sentimental now--how sad to sell our nice little couch to a stranger.

Anyone interested?

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Where The Heck Are The Lanes?

I don't usually take the 10 freeway on my drive home, but today I was leaving earlier and used a different route. I don't know if they had scraped it clean for repaving or what, but for long stretches of freeway, all the lane paint was gone. There were just the tiniest, possibly temporary reflectors--not even the full size bumps. On the light gray freeway pavement they were almost impossible to see. In those portions of freeway where the lanes don't line up with the lines in the pavement, things got a little scary. Why would they do this? I've seen much better temporary lane markers in the past. How can they be allowed to leave a major freeway with virtually no lane markings all day? It seems like that would be against the rules.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Time Warner Cable Is Really Bad

It started innocuously enough. Some friendly billboards around town, announcing that Time Warner would be taking over cable systems in LA and promising to wow us with their service. A fat envelope in the mail, full of pictures smiling, diverse people enjoying their cable. A coupon that offered five dollars off the first Time Warner cable bill.

That was the first betrayal, incidentally. I enclosed the coupon along with my check, which I perhaps foolishly wrote for five dollars below the amount owed (the coupon didn't say you weren't supposed to do that). The next month I saw that I had a balance of five dollars on my account. They ignored their own coupon. Maybe they didn't recognize it as theirs; after all, the coupon helpfully did not say anywhere on it what company it was for, perhaps in hopes that those who received it would themselves forget.

I didn't ask for a coupon, but to give me a coupon and ignore it seemed to be starting our friendly new service provider/customer relationship on a dubious note.

Then there is the service. For the past several weeks our picture quality has been comparable to if we were watching TV via antenna, and getting really awful reception. How is this possible? Aren't they using the same infrastructure? Did they come in and hit all of Adelphia's broadcasting equipment with a hammer?

They also took Turner Classic Movies, one of Stephanie's favorite channels, and put it in their Digital Cable tier so we don't get it anymore. Now we get the Golf Channel instead. But they apparently didn't update whatever listing TiVo uses, so TiVo keeps trying to record old movies and ending up with golf. (I've never wanted digital cable since it's more expensive and I hate cable boxes. Also, I hate how much longer it takes to flip channels. I guess that's less of a factor when you're using a DVR, but that brings me to another point--I like the TiVo interface, I fear the half-assed digital cable DVRs cable companies provide, and besides, I want to support TiVo as company. Time Warner Cable has given me no reason to believe they would provide a good DVR, seeing as they've provided nothing else that's good.)

Now, we're no great fans of Adelphia. A series of account snafus early on led to our cable getting cut off, our account being assigned to the wrong apartment, and at least a couple of trips to the Adelphia building to straighten it all out. Not to mention a sleazebag cable guy who hit on Stephanie while installing our cable (and presumably filling out the forms wrong, leading to all the other problems). So reception has to be pretty bad to make us think that Adelphia as a company was good. And satellite TV has always seemed like a hassle. Again, we'd have to find room for a new set-top box, deal with a new DVR or possibly have to buy a new TiVo, and have a stupid dish put on our balcony. Mainly, it's bothersome just to have to upset the status quo.

But for all my objections, Time Warner Cable has managed to make me seriously consider it with their aggressively hostile, abusive service. I want to punch the company in the face, and taking up with a competitor is the free-market way to do that.

So it's gratifying to see Ken Levine mention that 10,000 people have done what I've been so far too busy or lazy to do, and thrown that punch at this fucking terrible cable company. The situation is really totally unacceptable. Cable service just has to be adequate enough that you don't think about it--the very fact that I am talking about this means that Time Warner has failed. I haven't gotten the call that Levine mentions about the price going up, but I wouldn't be surprised. They seem to be pretty good about covering all the bases of things you could possibly hate about a cable company.

Last night's Friday Night Lights was nigh-unwatchable through layers upon layers of interference. It was more like a brilliantly written radio play. Tonight, oddly, the picture is crystal clear, like a violent husband who is unexpectedly gentle just when you're getting up the nerve to leave him.

More details (from an actual news provider) here.

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Freelancers

Thanks for all the congratulations. I seriously was not fishing for that.

...No, of course, I totally was.

In response to Jaime's comment below:

Yeah, shows still hire freelancers. Or at least, our show does. But it's worth noting that so far the freelance scripts have gone to me (the writers assistant) and a writer whom one of the creators had worked with in the past. So it's not exactly an open door for just anyone to show up and pitch like in the old days. It's also worth noting that the show has only four writers (five if you include me, but four who regularly write actual scripts) and a pretty big script order to fill, which necessitates freelance scripts. And it's a cable show.

Also, while blogging may not be a career-killer, lately it seems like having a career is quite the blog-killer.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Andy Barker, P.I.

Andy Richter's new show, Andy Barker, P.I., viewable Thursday nights on NBC or online here, is a delightful show. The premise--a mild mannered accountant finds himself solving crimes as a detective--is goofy and ridiculous, but the pilot hints at the fun you'd find in lighthearted mystery shows of yesteryear, before solving crimes was necessarily moody and dead-serious all the time.

The pilot is also consumed with a lot of set-up and a lot of plot. ABC's Knights of Prosperity (also viewable in its entirety online, at abc.com--or at least, it was) was a similarly crime-themed sitcom this season, and it suffered for its plottiness. In the case of Knights, the complicated heist left little room for jokes, but the jokey approach to the heist only undercut the storytelling. So you have mediocre comedy and a mediocre heist.

Andy Barker risks suffering from the same issues, but the pilot mystery, simple as it is, manages to feel less forced than the heist stuff on Knights. Plus, the natural likability of the cast takes the characters beyond the stereotypes they are. Arrested Development's Tony "Buster" Hale is a welcome sight, and brings just enough of what made his Buster performance great while still playing a distinctly different character.

I kind of wish Andy Barker was an hourlong show, actually. Now that the pilot is done and the set-up is out of the way, there should be more room for jokes, but the easygoing tone is so pleasant, it would be nice to see them take the time to do real mysteries, and not rushed twenty-minute versions. Unfortunately, there's no place for a show like that right now, besides maybe USA. But who knows? Maybe it would lend it an air of credibility--a comedy with a bit of distance from the currently cursed sitcom genre, like Ugly Betty or Desperate Housewives. Not that those shows have the same audience at all. But hey, given the numbers most sitcoms get these days, it couldn't hurt.

Anyway, check out Andy Barker. It's pretty good. Also, when 30 Rock gets its slot back, check it out if you haven't lately (or watch it on iTunes or NBC.com). It's gotten to be quite wonderful. Joke for joke, it's maybe the funniest show on right now. Even comedy writers like it.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Other Matters

Briefly: You may remember the story of the Mongolian neighbor who filled our gutter puddle, and by extension, our driveway, with mud. Perhaps I gave him too little credit.

A few weeks ago, our landlord needed to fix some pipes, and seized the opportunity to replace pipes throughout the building. This led to about a week and a half of people tromping through our apartment, inconveniencing us in the mornings, as well as a hastily replastered bedroom wall that we had to repaint. But it also led to a nice new shower head and water pressure in the kitchen sink that allows us to actually wash dishes with hot water for the first time ever. So it all worked out.

Back to the neighbor and the mud story: When the workmen came out to do the pipes, a guy was also put to work on the puddle with a jackhammer. Not only did the mud eventually get cleaned up, but I saw this guy working to make the edges of the big puddle less steep. I'm not sure how that helped, but it did, and now the puddle, while not small, is notably smaller than it used to be most of the time.

The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Was this our crafty neighbor's plan all along? To exacerbate the problem to the point where it could no longer be ignored?

If so, bravo, sir. Bravo.

Also, one night I saw the driver of the piece of shit car. She is indeed a girl who lives downstairs. Or who spends a lot of time there. I can never tell. She was dropped off from a friend's car next to her shitty hoodless car, so she could re-park it, flat tire and all. I actually saw it move!

Since then it's gotten another ticket. At what point does the value of the tickets exceed the worth of the car?

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Milestones

I got a freelance script assignment for an episode of the show I work on, which I've been working on last weekend and this weekend. Today--by which I mean Sunday, not literally today, Monday--I finished the first draft of my script. There will be notes from the showrunners, and notes from the network, and changes in the room, so it's far from done, but today is still a big day. I just finished the first draft of my first real professional television script.

Also, my birthday was on Friday and I am now twenty-seven years old. Lately my age has become harder for me to remember. Partly this is because I was writing various scripts in which I would create characters a year older than me, and then catch up to them while I was writing; partly this is because I made my MySpace age one year older as a joke and to confuse people, but eventually started to feel like I really was that age. So I keep feeling like I'm turning twenty-eight, and I have to remind myself that that's not the case. I realize this sounds idiotic.

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

My Friend Mike

If you're curious about what my life is like as a young writer in LA, check out My Friend Mike, a fact-based show about me and my friends.



(The sound is a little off. Make the usual mental allowances for YouTube, try not to look at anyone's lips too closely, and it should be mostly fine.)

Actually, this was our most recent Channel 101 pilot. They didn't screen it, but we're considering making more episodes on our own anyway. Any feedback would be appreciated, so let me know what you think.

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