Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Because He Demanded It!

So, it's late Monday night, and I'm at home. Normally, I'd be over at Big's house, and we'd be recording. We usually go reaaaaaally late because, well, 1) we have so much to do for our podcast and others' that we can never get to everything, and 2) we live so far apart that we try to make the times we get together really productive.

But not tonight. We spent most of the evening recording two interview shows for the Roundtable Podcast, which was even more enjoyable than it was time-consuming. The other reason, though, was that because of a change in work schedule, Big told me to hit the road about two and a half hours earlier than usual. Sure, it's still later than anyone who doesn't sleep in a coffin during daylight would be up, but for me, it was an early night, and I've still got some energy left.

Also, before I drove home, Big mentioned that I never write in my blog anymore, yet I'm always bringing up movie updates and sharing my opinion about new developments with people . . . why don't I use my blog for that?*

So, okay. I can write in my blog for a few more minutes, if that is a productive use of my pre-dawn time. So here's three possible topics:


2. Interview on Roundtable about Renee Chambliss's superhero story.

3. The red hair in the movie BRAVE really disturbs me.

Let's see if they're worth exploring.


So, there's a movie based on the Hasbro game Battleship coming out in theaters in two weeks. In the U.S., that is. It's already been released in overseas markets, making over two hundred thousand dollars. It was directed by Peter Berg (HANCOCK, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS), and stars Liam Neeson, the guy who played John Carter and Gambit**, and Rihanna.

Wait, Rihanna? What the fuck?

I just can't get my head around the idea that somebody made a feature-length tentpole blockbuster about the Battleship game. "G-7, miss. B-2, hit."

Oh, and I have no idea why I typed $200,000. It's two hundred million that it's made so far. There's every indication it'll make way more in the United States, and will probably end up with half a billion dollars in the end.

And in a world where there's a movie franchise (franchise, mind you) about The Smurfs, a "Sherlock Holmes" series where Watson is played by Lucy Liu, a fourth CHIPMUNKS film is on the way, and yet no sequel to the fuggin' INCREDIBLES, I should not be surprised. And yet I still am.

Big proposed that the two of us go see the movie when it opens, and actually see it in that D-Box format where the seats shake and rock in synch to the action of the movie. I proposed that we create a Kickstarter campaign where listeners can pay for our trip. I think we were both only half-joking.

If you don't mind, can we take a peek into an alternate reality for a moment? This is Parallel Earth 325. In it, I was up for screenwriter of this BATTLESHIP movie (I use all caps because I have apparently never heard of italics). I address the Hasbro studio board, and smile big.

"Gentlemen, when I was given the chance to pitch you my take on Battleship, really only three words came to mind: Wrath . . . Of . . . Khan.

"The greatest of the ‘Star Trek' movies was, in effect, the perfect adaptation of the Battleship game. A disgraced-but-brilliant enemy commander, one with a deep-seeded hatred of our hero, a beloved-and-brilliant ship commander, manages to steal a state-of-the-art ship, using it against our own fleet. And it's up to our battleship commander to stop him, in a cat and mouse game throughout the world's oceans."

I give the board members a moment to process this (I nearly said, "For it to sink in," but it sounded like a pun), then go on, explaining how it might work if our hero used to be good friends with–and perhaps even trained–the evil battleship commander. And how in the end, just like James T. Kirk, he uses an obscure bit of knowledge the evil captain doesn't know to defeat him in the ship battle.***

"Perhaps," I end with, "Our villain may actually say those iconic words, as the torpedo, missile, or shockwave is about to take him out: ‘You sunk my battleship.'"

I thank the board for their time, a bit nervous, but certain my pitch went well, and stand aside as the next team, the guys who made WHITEOUT, enter and do their presentation.

"Gentlemen," the guys begin, "there is a battleship at sea. Something pings their radar. The XO can't make out what it is, but it's approaching fast. The captain gives the order for everybody to man their battle stations. Up ahead, a huge, crazy-looking CGI ship bursts forth from the water, and flies up into the air. All mouths drop open, as the enemy ship . . . becomes a mother-fucking Transformer."

The eyes of the Hasbro board widen as one.

"Thank you," the WHITEOUT guys say.

Everyone in the Hasbro board begin to applaud, as they have never clapped before. Many tears are shed. One of the executives begins to furiously masturbate.

I am shown to the door.


The Roundtable Podcast is an interview show where two hosts get writers together to talk about their ideas. It's unique (to my ears, anyway) because they get a writer on each episode, have them talk about a story/novel/script/series/origami idea with the hosts, and a guest host, who is a writer, publisher, or editor of some sort. They brainstorm and discuss the merits and potential of the concept, and then the writer is free to leave the conversation and take all those suggestions into consideration . . . or simply dismiss them.

It's the second time in as many weeks that we've been interviewed, and both times were really great experiences (as well as insanely long). I quite enjoy flapping my jaw, as you know, so I could easily have gone even longer. I don't know if people listening will get as much out of it.

But the thing that I took away with from tonight's conversation, was how thrilling it was to be in a (virtual) room with other creative minds, in a brainstorming session, with everybody throwing a couple ideas around and commenting on the others' ideas. It was what my conception of working on "Saturday Night Live" or "The Simpsons" always was, and it had been a long time since I'd done it with anybody other than myself or Big.

That sounds sexual. For that, it's been even longer.

But there's something quite magical about being at a table with creative types, tossing ideas back and forth. The way you can come up with something by being prompted by something somebody else says you would never have come up with on your own. The way it can be almost infectious, and often hilarious, coming up with new scenarios or twists on the old ones, or running gags, or disturbing twists. The way the heart gets racing and you get excited not only by what you're writing about, but by what somebody else is working on.

But you shouldn't start a paragraph with the word "but." Let alone three.

I am a writer, through and through. There's not a day that goes by that I don't think of a story idea, or consider the project I'm currently pursuing, or think about an old abandoned story, or mutter, "To hell with writing, I'm going to Wikipedia instead!" And being with other writers, just itching to jump in and talk (and boy, I was like a little boy tonight, unable to wait for the starting pistol at an Easter Egg hunt), and content that it was all worthwhile, even if the writing isn't mine. Or indeed, is in competition with mine.

It was a good time, and made me proud to have a mind that continues to give me nightmares and make me a weirdo who adds voices to the "Clash of Kings" characters.


Did you hear about that guy who got mugged and beaten by a bunch of street toughs, and then suddenly, he became some kind of mathematical genius, able to create visual representations of pi out of Lincoln Logs or Pickup Sticks that work in three dimensions to the four hundredth decimal?

The idea of that frightens the hell out of me. But not nearly as much as looking at the red hair on the twins and main character of Pixar's newest film, BRAVE.

Okay, perhaps this wasn't the best use of my time. I don't know what my friend had in mind when he asked why I didn't post in my blog anymore. Not this, I'm sure.

But the alternative, boys and girls, was sleep.

Rish "Not Even A Yawn" Outfield

*And I may have totally misunderstood his message. He may have been saying that I should share my blog with more people, or simply to write more posts. Or he might possibly even have been saying that he wishes I would write all my feelings in my blog instead of bothering him about them. Hopefully not that last one.

**Taylor Kitsch, his name is. Sadly, I had to look it up.

***Yes, this one was a pun.


Big Anklevich said...

That was good stuff, Rish.

And to answer your question, I was mostly thinking that you should write in your blog more often. You know so much about movies (often way ahead of the general public) that you could share all sorts of news and insights with us, and leave us better informed. Your blog is always fun to read, and you have more to talk about than just the deaths of actors.

Dave Robison said...

Rish, you just nailed why Brion and I do The Roundtable Podcast. Above and beyond the value to the listeners in terms of writing and creative process, on top of the benefit to the guest writers with their story work... floating high above all that is the simple energizing delight of sparking and sharing ideas with fellow creatives.

Incidentally, while Renee specifically requested you guys as the Guest Hosts for her episode (and wisely, too... it was a great episode), you were already on our list for that same reason. You and Big "get it". You live that creative process, you look at things differently (as described in your post), you cultivate that perception of wonder in the world that characterizes the very best of the "creators" in the world.

Brion and I had a blast and we're grateful you and Big grabbed some seats at the Roundtable.

Keep workin' the mojo...

Seraph said...

I wish that they'd made your idea for 'Battleship'. That makes a lot more freaking sense, is true to the game, and doesn't have goddamn aliens in it ! Or whatever the hell those robot ship things are.

Cool idea for the blog.