thinglets: Open Letter to Television Writers

photo courtesy


(10 minutes earlier)


Dear Television Writers,

I know that as a television writer you must be under immense pressure to try and appease network execs driven by advertising dollars while struggling to maintain the last vestiges of your artistic integrity.

It must be tough.

After all, you've got centuries of writers who've created enduring narratives behind you. I mean, shit, how the hell are you supposed to compete with Greek Mythology, The Bible, and Shakespeare by packaging a message into a 22 minute sitcom or 42 minute procedural?

I don't envy you. I can't say I couldn't do better because I've never tried, but I don't really want to either. It must hard to devote weeks to a script only to have ripped apart by a show creator, director, and pre-pubescent cast member who changes your painstakingly-crafted dialogue because they can't say "verisimilitude" without spitting on the rest of the cast.

I understand that in the over-reaching story arcs of many of the series you work on, there are only a limited amount of plot devices you can explore without becoming hackneyed and derivative. I also understand that the magic of editing allows you to play with timelines like so many styrofoam peanuts that accompanied the oversized box that my one DVD order from a popular online retailer was packed in.

I will even cop to understanding that by starting your action drama with a big car chase and explosion will retain viewers in the first two minutes. I further "get" the financial constraints on most producers as they try to milk every last dollar for stunts, sets and pyro. It really only makes sense that if you're going to write a big action scene that requires a large budget chunk, you might as well get the most out of your money.

So hey! Why not use it twice?

Because it's tired, stale, and a cop out for weak writers.

Take back control of the narrative. If your dialogue cannot sustain interest for the two minute teaser before the opening titles, quit now and forever hold your piece of remaining dignity in the world of indie film and a flailing grasp at Sundance.

Be bold, be creative, be daring and for fuck sake, STOP IT WITH THE FLASHBACKS ALREADY!

A before B, except after Z... really?



Anthony Marco

thinglets: Alternative Superbowl Names So As Not To Get Sued By The NFL

Since the NFL threatens to sue anyone who uses the name "Superbowl" outside of reporting on it as news, I've decided to give some alternate monikers for people looking to spice up their local events or eatery promotions:

The Big Game

The Recroom Drunkfest

The Prop Bet Gambler's Paradise

The Poolie's Delight

The Game That's Rarely Good

The Media Blitz

The Super Bowel

The Hope-I-Die-Before-The-Who-Plays-The... forget it.

The Vegetative State Extravaganza

The Six Hour Build Up To A Coin Flip

The Excuse to Party

The Not-Good-Enough-Of-A-Reason-To-Bump-The-Simpsons Bowl

The Overpaid Immature Mutant Game

The Stupidbowl

The Not-Yet-Ready-For-Prime-Time Bowl

The I-Waited-Two-Weeks-For-This? Bowl

The CarQuest International House of Pancakes Geico Bowl

The Beer Commercial Bowl

The Oh-Look-There's-Counter-Programming-Figure-Skating-On Bowl

The Smoka Bowl

The I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Better Bowl

The Hey-Look-At-That-Commercial-While-I-Steal-The-Last-Piece-Of-Pizza Bowl

The Are-Those-Really-Bits-and-Bites-I-Haven't-Seen-Those-For-Years Bowl

The Bathroom-Is-Off-Limits-For-10-Minutes Bowl

The I'll-Cheer-For-The-Opposite-Team-Of-Everyone-Else-In-The-Room-To-Be-Different-And-Controversial Bowl

The Why-Do-I-Have-To-Watch-Promos-For-Canadian-TV-Shows-And-Miss-The-Commercial-Memes-That-Will-Be-The-Talk-Of-The-Internet-For-The-Next-24-Hours-Thanks-To-The-CRTC Bowl

thinglets: The Far Out Space Nuts Theme Song

This show actually existed! Even better, it was a Sid and Marty Krofft production with Bob Denver. I vaguely remember this show as a child, but I love the generic innocence that viewers were willing to give television creators. These days the simplistic premises make me shake my head because they are supposed to be clever. At that time, it was supposed to be stupid and IT WAS! But I've always been a fan of shows that took the time to have a theme song as well. A little bit of retro TV cheese for your Monday.

If you dig the retro TV things, please check out my podcast Best Episode Ever at Hope you dig it!

thinglets: Why My Nostalgia Loves YouTube

In a recent podcast I produce called Best Episode Ever, I fondly recollected one of my favorite Saturday morning television shows while growing up. The Krofft Supershow was the brainchild of Sid and Marty Krofft (also responsible for HR Pufnstuf) and had a groovy band introducing live action shorts for two seasons on ABC.

Until recently I was only luck enough to find some random clips from the show on the web. I hit the motherlode, however, when "dalekenbuck" uploaded an entire episode to YouTube. If you're in a vegative state, and feel like nostalgia is the right medicine, give the entire 40 or so minutes a shot, but, at least, do yourself a favor and listen to the coolest theme song ever by Kaptain Kool and the Kongs... ENJOY!

thinglets: Truth in (Television) Advertising

[Coca Cola, IBM, Microsoft, General Electric] Considering that 20 minutes of every 60 minute [Nokia, McDonald's, Google, Toyota] television show is advertising, that means that there [Intel, Disney, Hewlett-Packard, Mercedes Benz] is only 40 minutes of programming. And that a [Gillette, Cisco, BMW, Honda] 40 to 20 minute ratio scales right down [Samsung, Apple, American Express, Pepsi] to 2 minutes of content for every 1 [Oracle, Nescafe, Nike, Ikea] minute of advertising. As most 60 minute dramas [Sony, Budweiser, UPS, HSBC] parse that down to 8 minute content and [Canon, Kellogg's, Dell, Citi] 4 minute commercial blocks, it's not hard to [Nintendo, Gucci, Philips, Amazon] picture what such a model would look like [L'Oreal, Heinz, Ford, Wrigley] for blog posts.

And people wonder why I [Colgate, Volkswagen, Morgan Stanley, Nestle] get my content from the net. [KFC, Adidas, Blackberry, Yahoo]

thinglets: The Dungarees v. The Suits

Who would've thought that class warfare could be so elegantly reduced down to a two minute video clip from a 1980's television comedy? I looked for a transcription of this and, as I couldn't find it, devoted 10 minutes to transcribing it myself. Who needs Marx and Engels when you've got Tarlek and Nessman? This clip is an allegory for all that's gone bad in society... well, maybe not, but then again, I wear dungarees.


The whole world is in revolution. And not just here, but everywhere. And you know who's at war? It's The Dungarees v. The Suits. The whole world is in two armed camps. Over here you have The Dungarees and over here The Suits.

Remember the rise in the 50s? It was The Dungarees v. The Suits. And then Watergate. Those guys arrested were wearing dungarees and who suffered for it?


The Suits.




There are issues Herb.


The issues, Les, are a smokescreen.

Now listen. When a son disobeys his father, what's he wearing?


The son? um... dungarees!


And what's the father got on?


Probably a suit!


You see what I mean Les? And you know what's worse? The fathers are beginning to wear dungarees too!


That's right!


So are the mothers!


It's just like the Body Snatchers.


Exactly! The Body Snatchers! The Dungarees are forcing The Suits right off the face of this earth! 

But we can't allow this to happen!


What do we do Herb?


We've gotta get tough. I've got an idea that'll turn this whole thing to our advantage. Get us back some of the jobs that we used to handle around here. I mean Travis cannot cut us out of everything.


I'm with ya Herb!


Good. Let's go see the Big Guy.


Herb, you know who I think is behind all this?




Levi Strauss.


Could be.

lovehate: The 3D Movie Resurrection

I know that some people are split on the entire 3D "thing" that has blown up with films over the past couple of years (especially animated ones). I mean let's face it, we're touting technology that has been around for well over half a century in film and longer than that outside of film. Detractors will decry being forced to wear glasses which may be ill-fitting or otherwise poorly-designed. Some people get queasy upon the assault of visual images assaulting their cerebral cortices (alright brain geeks, tell me what part of the brain it really is). Some people just don't like paying an extra three bucks to see the 3D versions of the films that their friends drag them into.

Is the 3D experience really any better than the 2D - hell no! Sure it's different, but if 3D was the "shit", why they hell wouldn't all films go there? At one point the 3D film was a fad, and a production company could bank on a certain percentage of box office just because the film was in 3D. Now it's de rigeur. And your brain may get tricked for the first five minutes into believing that Dr. Tongue's 3D House of Pancakes is really a blast of syrupy goodness, but your brain quickly works out the effect and soon it's pretty much nullified.

There is only one reason to push the 3D experiment to redundancy in film and soon in television: piracy. While 3D certainly won't stop piracy, it may give pause to a certain percentage of the movie-going public that want to have the full experience of seeing a film. I know this is going to sound ironic because if someone wanted a full "film experience" why would they download a pirated copy anyway? Quite simply the growth of the home television screen, and the balance of having to deal with the general idiocy of the public, starts to balance out the fan that is willing to watch the leaked DVD screener of a new film versus going to see a 2D version of it.

If, however, you've convinced yourself that the film just HAS to be seen in 3D, you're pretty much SOL in terms of a pirated copy you can watch on your home system. The movie industry is moving towards 3D not out of any artistic sensibility, but instead out of plain protectionism. And I suppose I don't blame them, but they are sticking themselves between the Scylla and Charybdis. They know that if they release a film ONLY in 3D, box office will suffer. On the other hand, if they release a 2D version, the odds of piracy go way up.

If you've somehow convinced yourself that 3D is truly a better experience than 2D, you've been led astray. I'm not saying it's worse; I'm just saying it's different. Your brain does an amazing job of filling in the gaps and your imagination will overcome flaws in production, environment and often even direction. There are plenty of people in this world who still own black and white televisions or whose color TVs have 14 inch screens. Are they necessarily missing out on an "ideal" experience? Can't I enjoy content whether on my iPod screen or my 67" LCD DLP?

We've forsaken music and still claim to enjoy it. We used to listen to scratchy ceramic cones with no fidelity and eventually grew through vinyl, 8 track, cassette, and compact disc to a level of fidelity that became consistently better and clearer. Yet now we choose 128kb mp3 files that sound like crap compared to a CD or wav file because it sounds "good enough". It's the same reason some people have no trouble downloading films, because to watch even an inferior copy is "good enough". And it's the reason that 3D is really unnecessary from an artistic perspective as the mind's eye can create far richer and vaster conceptions that ever a pair of 3D glasses will be able to construct.

When will Hollywood realize that content is king? When will the focus be put back onto plot and character development with original dialog and concepts that weren't even dated to Shakespeare? I'd rather watch The Godfather on a Casio Wristwatch than watch My Bloody Valentine 3D in an IMAX arena. You don't remember a 3D film or 2D film any differently. Sure you may recall a "cool" scene or two, but is that what a director should be going for - to shock you out of your disbelief for the purposes of thinking "dude that was cool". I loved the film Up, but I don't think back on it in 3D. I simply think back to the story.

If 3D doesn't really add another dimension to films, and does little to improve my memory of them, I suppose the only real value is negative in the cost of an extra 3Dollars out of my pocket to get plastic Chinese factory glasses so that I look like Buddy Holly or Elvis Costello - what a DDDeal!

thinglets: The Five Grooviest Schoolhouse Rock Songs

From the quick pace of Rufus to the infectious chorus of Conjunction Junction. From the kickass funky deep groove of Verb and I Got Six to the slow bluesy jam of Naughty Number Nine. Let the grooviness do the talkin'. If you think I missed one, please share in the comments:

1. Rufus Xavier Sarsapirilla

2. Conjunction Junction

3. Verb

4. I Got Six

5. Naughty Number Nine