Friday, June 24, 2005


A celebrity sighting I actually caught

Sure, I might not have known any of the cute, fluffy MTV kids from their little "white party" last night, but I did have a celeb sighting that's good for what ails the 30-something .

Went out for sushi with my buddy Hans the other night. He's moving out of his apartment this weekend, making a brief stop in Pacific Palisades for the rest of the summer, then heading to Princeton in the fall. So we wanted to say goodbye to his West LA hood at EN Sushi. You know EN if you watch Curb Your Enthusiasm. Larry's grabbed a couple of meals over there on the show.

So anyway, who do we see but Indiana Jones himself, Harrison Ford, gray and bespectacled, grabbing a seat at the bar. No doubt Harrison likes to down a little soju or sake these days, just to mercifully forget "Hollywood Homicide" and "Six Days, Seven Nights".


That's hot . . .

So I took in the SkyBar at the Standard Hotel in Hollywood last night. Interesting, no two ways about it. And very LA, or what the folks back in the midwest imagine LA to be. Consider:

That said, it was fun. It was a good way to help my friend Lis celebrate her birthday. Of course, given that it was a crowd of aspiring writers, we served as stark contrast to the MTV kids in white. Whatever.

Thursday, June 23, 2005


Just a couple of notes

On the LA front, I'm headed to a birthday party tonight at the Standard Hotel on Sunset. It's one of those hyper trendy LA hotel bars with the pool on the roof, the view of downtown and the hills, and parking and drinks that cost an arm and a leg. Still, it's a pretty LA sort of thing to do, so I'll report back in the morning about it.

I've been to the one downtown . . . which is pretty cool. You're among all four of LA's skyscrapers, next to some pool, 30 or so stories above the streets, it's December and it's 70 degrees. That's some good stuff.

We'll see how tonight goes.

On another note, in the wake of Batman Begins (which I liked quite a bit), Forbes magazine is actually projecting how much it would cost someone to be a real life version of Bruce Wayne and his alter ego. Curious? Well, you don't have to be a billionaire.

Nope. It costs $3,365,449 per year, more or less.

Yup. And it breaks down like this -- the fight training will run you about 30K, but the suit and belt are a reasonable $1,585 and $290, respectively. The car's a lot - about $2 million (which is rough, since it seems like he goes through one per movie).

Rounding out the rest of the costs, Forbes suggests that cave rental (or rental of a warehouse in the outer boroughs of New York) would run about $24K per year. Meanwhile, to project that stately Wayne Manor kind of image, you'll need about $1,109,574 for the billionaire playboy lifestyle and $200K for a kickin' butler like Alfred.

So don't all of you run out and start fighting crime all at once! Me, I'm waiting to get bitten by that radioactive spider.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


School's out for the summer . . .

And maybe school's out forever . . .

I got my certificate from the Professional Screenwriting Program at UCLA last night. The program held a nice little wine and cheese event for us in one of the soundstages. Also got a certificate for the Honorable Mention in the contest. Pretty cool all the way around.

Some of my classmates are going to come back to UCLA in the fall to do the advanced screenwriting program. Not sure if I'll be one of them. Don't get me wrong. This has been a great experience, but I'm thinking that I might want to do some writing on my own for a spell.

Meanwhile, let's keep some fingers crossed that this contest might yield some results or some literary representation for Our Man in LA.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Making the trades . . .

Despite a slew of ridiculous meetings at the place of work, yesterday was a pretty good one for Our Man in LA. Once he turned to page 23 of the Daily Variety, that is.

That's right. Our Man in LA and his script Neighborhood Heroes both were listed in an article in yesterday's trade (the one with those Desperate Housewives on it). The screenplay took honorable mention in the UCLA Professional Screenwriting Program contest last month, and the program is finally getting the word out.

It was pretty cool. Of course, I also learned about it at 10:30 at night, which meant frantic trips to the news stand and the 7-11 to pick up a few copies. Once I got home (at about quarter till 11), then it was cool. Cool enough that I didn't even mind the stupid morning meeting in the OC today.

Friday, June 17, 2005


DC Comics visits my hometown(s)

This will only be of any interest to the comics fans out there, and it's not really about life in LA, but DC Comics seems to be giving the places I've lived their due.

On Wednesday, as most of the world knows, Batman Begins opened, with previous hometown Chicago playing the role of Gotham City. For people who've read the comics, it might not seem like the greatest compliment in the world to the Windy City . . . but there's probably something to it. Gotham is DC's Second City. It has a long-standing rivalry with Metropolis (read: New York).

The similarities don't end there. Gotham has a background of urban corruption and organized crime. You may have heard that Chicago has one, too. Both cities have bad weather (hot, humid summers and frigid winters). Squint a little, and it's not so hard to imagine Batman and Robin haunting the el trains, the South Loop, Hyde Park, Uptown, Greek Town, and Wicker Park. In the 90s, the Batman comics even had the Caped Crusader fighting Gotham crime at intersections like Belmont and Racine.

Sure, in the comics, Gotham is in New Jersey. But then again, Metropolis is supposed to be in Delaware.

And it doesn't end with the movie's Gotham City. In this month's issue of Day of Vengeance, two of the magical heroes of the DC Universe (yeah, sigh, it's Nightshade and Detective Chimp) try to hunt down the Phantom Stranger, one of the DC Universe's most powerful magic beings.

Where's the guy living? None other than Dayton, Ohio - where I grew up. If you ask me, I thought that kid down the block in Dayton always seemed a little . . . strange . . .

Of course, Dayton has a proud history of appearing from time to time in the comics. Longtime geeks like myself might remember that Bruce Banner (aka, the Incredible Hulk) was born in Dayton, where his abusive dad was an engineer at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

And then, of course, there was the time that . . . well, really that's about it. There might have been an issue of Captain Atom back in the 80s that took place at the Air Force Base, but seriously, raise your hand if you remember Captain Atom . . . or when he had his own book.

Whatever. Super-heroes are hard to come by in Ohio. You have to take what you can get.

But it's not like the streets of Dayton, Akron, and Canton are going to protect themselves, now are they?

Thursday, June 16, 2005


If the house is a rockin', well, that's to be expected . . .

Just had my first earthquake experience living here in SoCal.

A 4.9er just hit the Inland Empire, and for a few seconds my office building - on Wilshire between Fairfax and La Brea - shook. No doubt, in hours, some tool from Cal Tech or some other scientific think tank will be shooting off an opinion that this is an aftershock of the quake off the coast near Crescent City a few days back, or the tsunami in Thailand, or the sinking of the Titanic, or the movie career of Lorenzo Lamas.

Whatever. It ain't so bad. Frankly, I'm glad to have it done with. You move to LA and you expect a quake, mudslide or riot within your first 90 days. Ten months later, I've seen a couple of mudslides on TV and now had a quake.

Can't wait for a riot . . .

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


Will the streets of Chicago be safe?

Some of you might remember Chicago's own self-styled super villain, Dr. Chaos. Basically, he was this tool from Wisconsin who drew together a bunch of runaways to a team he called the Realm of Chaos. They hid out in unused subway tunnels around the CTA Blue Line and plotted all sorts of nefarious actions, ranging from vandalism and arson to gassing the CTA subway lines.

Well, the legal system has given Dr. Chaos a break. You can read about it here:

Will the City be safe? You'll have to tune in to find out, true believers!

By the way, Chicago never really was very successful on the super-hero front, was it? I mean, Thor lived there for a little while. So did Blue Beetle and Supergirl. And I suppose with Batman Begins, you can now argue that Gotham City is sort of Chicago.

But I don't know who's up to the task of Dr. Chaos . . .


A pretty good week, all in all . . .

It's been one of the better weeks on record in SoCal for Our Man in LA and his lovely bride. For any and all of you out there reading this, I just wanted to give you the head's up.

Here's the skinny:

1) Today - June 1 - is officially the last day of Stephanie Wieland's employment with Kaplan Inc. No longer will my lovely bride be toiling out in the San Fernando Valley selling SAT prep courses. She's finally off that gig and onto the next. Starting on June 11, she'll be spending the month in Florida directing with the Lovewell educational theatre company. She'll be down there a month helping a crew of 13 to 18 year olds to create, write and produce their own musical from scratch. Congrats, Steph!

2) Monday - June 6 - which is not actually part of this week, is incidentally my bride's 28th birthday. Viva Stephanie!

3) Got some good news for myself just yesterday. As many of you know, I've been taking classes at UCLA's Professional Program in Screenwriting over the past year. Toward the end of each school year, the school sponsors a script contest for past and present students. Out of 150 or more scripts submitted, they select five winners and five honorable mentions.

I'm honored to say that my script Neighborhood Heroes was selected as one of the Honorable Mentions. My name and the script's title will make it into the trades out here, and based on this work, UCLA tries to help students obtain management or representation for their work.

So keep your fingers crossed. Steph and I are totally excited about this, but there's still bunches and bunches of work to be done.


All right, I'm not WC Fields

After finishing the Wieland family's first ever 10K race in Brentwood over the weekend, the wife and I finally took in the 3rd episode of the Star Wars saga with some friends on Sunday night.

And you know what? It wasn't half bad. It was pretty good, truth be told.

Don't get me wrong. Hayden Christensen basically sucks. And Natalie Portman's not going to be getting an Oscar nom for this one. But the story's pretty solid and fun. I like that Anakin Skywalker had a good, solid, emotional reason for his turn to the Sith. The fight on the lava planet was cool.

Most of all the movie left me feeling like I knew and understood the whole story. I appreciated it all in a way I haven't since before these new flicks started coming out. Hell, they even cleared up that damn virgin birth thing from Episode I (that was waaaay too Catholic).

So I'm not WC Fields anymore. Go, pop culture, go!

But seriously, can anybody tell me what George Lucas has against the human hand? Like four different people lose a hand or two in this movie. And that's on top of Anakin in Part 2, Luke in Part 5, and Darth Vader again (kind of repetitive now) in Part 6.

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