Friday, September 29, 2006

Hold Me Back...

So I land this morning, run to the Lot C bus at LAX, hop in the Jeep, speed down a CROWDED 405 freeway, roll into the UCLA parking lot, and arrive at the Kevin Smith class about fifteen minutes late. So I miss a segment on what the hell we're actually doing. No sweat, so I think. This meeting was scheduled a day before, where the professors changed the times, fucking up my flight schedule from San Jose. And it added sixty eight bones to the credit card and a 5:30am wake up call is the result. But I have my ass in the seat. The professors strongly encouraged us to attend, but you COULD cop out and not show up, which some people did. Again, my ass was in the seat.

So one professor talks yada, yada, yada. Great. Got it. My boys are in the class, and what I missed, I'll get later. So next on the agenda is the head of the producing dept. She starts talking the usual yack about the class, what's going on, how great we are, etc. Then she asks if we have any questions. Cool. Here's my chance to find out what I missed. I ask a question. She says that should have been gone over. Okay. But the other professor says that I came in late. She then turns with steely eyes and says no one ever comes in late to her class. Huh? This is grad school, not homeroom. People have real jobs, and mine happens to take me to San Jose, Palookaville and all points between. So I stare, tripping that she's calling me out like I'm at St. B's. She then says that in her class, if people are one second late, they get a grade less. So I'm stewing. I'm tired, sleepy, and now super pissed. I'm STILL fucking pissed. That's cool. I think she may remember that last year, I was the only screenwriter to attend the so called Town Hall meeting and questioned why we don't have classes on television. She didn't seem pleased by that. Well, I pay good scrilla to learn about television. She talked about some class that happened years before I got into the program. Great. That'll help me.

Anyway, I talked with my screenwriting boys and they had some great ideas. We'll try to see how "cutting edge" this class is going to be. It's all experimentation, and I think we can do something interesting. But that shit has me jacked.

Do You Know The Way To San Jose?

It's 7am and I'm chilling at the San Jose Airport. Last night, I spoke at San Jose State, and had a great time. The students were enthusiastic and it was a great lecture to start the year with. I rarely speak in Cali, even though I live here, so the short commute from my sofa to their podium was delightful. I had to take an early flight because there's an explanatory meeting for this Kevin Smith class. Can't miss that.

Each week, I'm responsible for ten observation articles, and I think I'm going to always research during the week, and turn them in on Saturdays. I've quickly learned that everything that I think is a good observation, doesn't necessarily resonate with me a couple of hours later. Better to give them good information than filler.

According to my editor, they need a title for my fiction manuscript by the end of the weekend. Nothing is rolling off the brain right now, but I need to give it the college try. If I pick a title that I hate, I'll hate it for eternity. Maybe I should choose something Latin or German, just to be different. Yeah, maybe not.

Next week is the official start of PITCHING for 434s. I'm going to have to write a pitch for one teacher because I'm flying out for another lecture.

Participated in our annual "Inside Baseball" session with the 1st year students. This is when Hal and Richard give them the official scoop about the department, and generously I might add, allow the students to give the young'un the real scoop on what to do, how to do it, and where to go. The first years were full of the same questions we were, everything sounding like pig latin to them. A lot were worried about how many classes to take, and a surprising number of critical studies course questions. Funny, but I really wasn't worried about those classes. And even more surprising, considering these are screenwriting students, not a lot of writing questions. But it's probably for the better. We'd only scare them. lol

Honestly, I feel it's best to let them bask in the whole "I'm in the UCLA Film School fool!" feeling, and then let the reality of the work set in later. There's sort of a transition that happens when the work becomes more and more part of your life, and the whole prestige thing begins to fade a bit. Not that you're not proud to be in the film school, but you're more interested in writing a good script, finishing a good scene, or getting rid of that damned on the nose dialogue. Let the relatives brag on you, you've got work to do.

Did I mention that I had lunch with Ted Frank, the exec from NBC? And did I mention that it was the single most informative, outstanding, lunch I've ever had? The man has wisdom and I'm thunderstruck that he's been generous enough to impart it to me. I have big time goals, particularly in television, and he really helped craft my year long plan to achieve them. I knew I had to write a spec script at some point in time, but he gave me some good advice on the type of spec to write and when to have it done. Soooo, since I'm going to be chock full of project until December, I'm not going to try to write anything that's not on the agenda right now. It would be unrealistic and poorly done. But I am going to watch and record episodes of two dramas I'd like to spec. One will by Grey's Anatomy, and the other a procedural like Law and Order. I know those shows like the back of my hand, so I know the voices, plot, etc. If I can have them done by March, life will be good.

Alright, it looks like we're going to board in a few minutes, and my Southwest "B" boarding pass is my ticket to a middle seat. So I'll holla at ya later.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


After thinking about it, I think I'm adjusting my weight goals. I was watching Celeb Fit and folks were losing about 15% of their body weight. I started thinking, maybe that's what I'll do? I'll lose 15% of my body weight. So I will go from a husky 218lbs to 185lbs. I haven't seen that far south of two hunny since I was married in '92. But hey, what's the world but creating outrageous goals? Thirty two pounds lost in twelve weeks. That's a doable goal.

So as Harveh would say, beginning this Monday:

"Yoh tahgit wait lawse foh this week is foh pounds. Good luck to ya."

Starting Weight: 218lbs
Weight Today: 218lbs

School's About to Start...

On Sunday, another 2nd year screenwriter (Robyn) and I organized the annual 1st year Screenwriting party. A bit of beer, a bit of pizza, add a few speeches, about twenty five battle hardened 2nd years dispensing advice and you're done. It's funny to see the students so enthusiastic, ready to conquer the world with their words. It makes you remember that writing (for money in particular) is the best job in the world, and to get a chance to spend two or three years doing it damn nirvana. So a great time was had by all.

Met with Krystal, my USC Starkie compadre and we fleshed out the characters for our new, upcoming, blockbuster television show. It was real fun because she knows what the hell she's doing. I hate incompetence, and also hate NEAR competence. I like people who know what they're doing, and then do it. I have a funny feeling that we're going to do damage in this industry. The Brotha and Sista Wreckin'shop in television. I love it.

We start pitching 434s next week, however the Kevin Smith class requires me to be on campus at 6am on Monday. Wow.

This week, I'm writing a bit more book, I meet with Ted Frank on Wednesday, and then fly to San Jose to speak at San Jose State on Thursday. Next week, it's Albany State in Georgia. And then there's a new gig at Central Connectict State in mid October.

With Iconoculture, I'm still trying to get the voice down. I have a ton of information to write about, but I want to make sure that I get it right. I think I have to get out of the straight journalism style and move to an editorial style (hence my title of African American editorial strategist). It takes a bit to understand that I CAN have an opinion on what I'm reporting. Time to give it a bit of edge.

As for getting back in shape, when the quarter begins, I begin. Right now, I'm at a lumpy 218lb. So it's back to working out. I may, although April laughed, get on my mountain bike and ride the four blocks to campus each day. I can see me riding to campus, but being mad pissed riding back. But anyway, the goal this quarter is to move from 218lbs to 200lb. I figure that the folks on Celebrity Fit Club can do it, so why can't I? And this give me an excuse to do my Sgt. Harvey Walden imitation:

"Yoh tahgit wait lawse foh this week is foh pounds. Good luck to ya."

It all starts on Monday.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Everything is set...

In about ten days, I'm going to start the most challenging year of my life. And the future is mighty bright. A book in copyedit, and another one due in December. I have two other manuscripts half way done, and I can afford to leisurely finish them. Lastly, the publisher wants me to update the Divine Nine. So on the book front, I'm set.

As for UCLA: I have my normal 434 script-o-rama, the Kevin Smith project, and the collaborative thesis script with the Starkie.

And for the Iconoculture, I have my observation and trend articles each week.

As Grady would say, Good Goobally Goo.

My mantra is to work efficiently, work constantly, and work intelligently. Focus. Focus. Focus.

This weekend, I'm going to post my proposed daily schedule. It's going to be a bit crazy, but as the year progresses and projects are finished, the load gets progressively lighter. I will have no free time for the foreseable future, but if you want success, you need to go for it. I hate people who get hung up on "coulda, shoulda, wouldas". Be like Nike and Just Do It.

Competing in Film School...

By my very nature, I'm a VERY competitive person. I like to test myself, prepare myself, and then compete in order to see if I can win at various competitions. If we're playing dominoes, I'm going to whomp you up, talk about you as I do it, and then psychological f* with you to the point where I'll have YOU pick the domino out of my hand that will continue your demise. I'm that good.

But one of the more unfortunate things about this thing called Hollywood is that we compete against our friends. We send out scripts, folks judge them, and some get hired for the job, scripts get sold, while others don't. Then suddenly, things can quickly turn on their head. The people who got hired get fired, the folks with sold scripts never sell anything else and end up selling insurance, and the person who was overlooked at the beginning is now thanking the Academy. You just never know.

I bring this up because I was picked to be one of the screenwriters on this Kevin Smith project. On one hand, I'm excited because I'm sacrificing time with the family, my financials, etc. in order to get and exploit opportunities like this. This is an opportunity to work on a real production that will be seen by thousands of students on the college network MTVu. But on the other hand, I feel absolutely terrible for my buddies who didn't get selected. Actually, I feel like someone kicked me in the stomach. I'm the type of guy who wants every good person I know to have success, mainly because I believe that if you help, inspire, encourage, and give of yourself to others, you get paid in spades. I think I learned that when I was a high school student at Loyola High in LA. Men for Others was our motto and I never forgot it.

Competition in this biz is a way of life, and you can't avoid it. But I really wish there was a better way. I sure would sleep a lot better if there was.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Welcome Back, Tia!

I see my girl Tia is back! I'll answer your comments later today or tomorrow. Who else is reading the blog? It's always hard for me to know. If you're reading, send me a quick hey.

Back working on the book. My white board says that I'm to be at 35,000 words by the end of the month. Nine days, and fifteen thousand words. I'm writing right now, and I still have Iconoculture stuff to do, so we'll see. I have to average about one thousand words a day to get this book done, so time to get back working. Now that I know what Iconoculture is going to take to get done, I'm starting to feel an equilibrium. I can do this, because I always knew this, like Brutus.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


The indestructible Powerbook G4 became destructible two days ago. The hard drive crashed, so it was a nervous trip to my boys at Mac 911 in Santa Monica. Been going there forever and they give you great personal service. So, with a new 120GB hard drive, new DVD (that had crapped out about two weeks ago) and a general clean up, the G Money is good to go. Oh, there was one issue. One of my NBC scenes was adios, so I had to ask my boys to see if they'd kept a copy. One had, thank god. Speaking of the NBC scenes...

I sent them in today. After vetting them with three of my UCLA screenwriting comrades, along with Hal's comments, I made changes that I think made them work. Scenes out of context are hard to do, but I think I did it without making them pure exposition. We'll see.

Just finished my expense report for the Minneapolis trip. OH, I FORGOT! Now, sit down. Hold on to your seat, because you won't believe it. I FINALLY received my check from Savoy magazine. No, seriously. I have to give Hermene one bit of credit. She did send it on September 5th, but it was sent to my old address. But ya nevah know when you spend a year and a half waiting to get paid. But three cheers for being a PRO-ACTIVE and aggressive writer!

Things to do:

I need to write about two thousand words on the book.
I have about three more observations left and two trend articles for Iconoculture. I'll do those tonight.
Kensington wants me to do an update of The Divine Nine. We'll see.
I meet with Ted Frank from NBC next week, and I need to schedule my appointment with Johnathan Rodger at TV One. I'm trying to coordinate the upcoming school schedule, with my need to go to NYC, blah, blah, blah.
I lecture at San Jose State next week.
Working on the characters and plot of Secrets & Lies.

One of the good things is that a lot of my schedule will be knocked out one by one, freeing me a lot.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Observations from Oakland...

Langston showing me his "Hulk" face...You don't want to make him angry...

Flew all day from Minneapolis and landed just in time to meet the wife and son at his parent/teacher conference. I'm VERY cognizant of how important it is for me to be at my son's events. There will be no therapy sessions for Langston because Dad never cared enough to be there. No siree. Not the kid. Also, no one will ever say that Langston's dad wasn't around. It's especially important for little black boys to understand that it is the norm and not the unusual for his father to be at every event and involved. And I'm happy to say that tons of fathers were at St. B's last night.

So I chilled at the crib for about twelve hours before having to head out to LAX for a trip to Oakland. Southwest, which never really lets me down, was an hour late. So that meant I was about thirty minutes late for my meeting with Donna, the head of the AA unit at Iconoculture. The crackberry was decharged, so a warning call was out, which just makes a bad sit even worse. But Donna was MAD cool. We had a great convo and I think this brother and that sister can make a great partnership because we know what the hell we're doing. And NEVER let black folks who are experts get the opportunity to shine. We'll break records kid.

So right now, I'm chilling in the Oakland Airport Holiday Inn Express, and you know, I really do feel a bit smarter. I'm a "Gold Priority Club" member, which just means I spend way too much time on the road, and so they gave me one of their newer rooms. At first, I thought, whoopee. But when I rolled into the room, it looked like a legit suite. Two flat screen televisions, one over the bed and another at the "living room". Just the perfect place for me to write. And write I will do tonight and tomorrow.

On the immediate agenda is to finish my NBC Showcase scenes. They're due on September 20th, and after having received notes from a few folks, I'm ready to make some changes. I'll do that tomorrow during the day. I have an interview for the book later Saturday night. Speaking of books...

Had a bit of conflict with Kensington that I initiated. Can't really go into it, but there needed to be some bell ringing at the publishing house and I'm not sure anyone was listening before I took a hammer and started banging that bell. Anyway, Manie did a good job repping me in this, which makes me respect him even more. He may not have agreed with my strategy (which he didn't) but he still did his job. But at the end, I feel a LOT better about the control I have as it pertains to writing books.

One last observation...Mike Epps just ain't funny. Seriously. He just ain't. And sometimes I think the divide in the black community can be determined by those who think he's hilarious and those who thinks he's a hack who relies on saying "nigga" to get a laugh. Maybe it's just me...

Takin' it back to the '80s...I'm Audi 5000!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

In the land of the Purple Rain...

Hey all,

Been kicking it Minneapolis for the last couple of days. Flew into Prince's city on 9/11. LAX and the plane were so empty, I could have thrown a football down the length of the aisle seats and never hit anyone. But we did have a treat in first class. Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul were in first class. The wife knows Randy and says he's mad cool, and he was when I introduced myself.

The training was surprisingly pleasant. The people friendly, and Iconoculture has a product that I can TOTALLY get with. Basically, it's a wholistic versus quantitative approach to marketing. I think I talked about how author Daniel Pink said the MFA degree is the new MBA degree. Iconoculture is a perfect example. I get started on writing articles in the next day or so. is closer to beta. The non-functional design is up, so you can take a look at it. Just don't click on anything.

My Raiders got blown. Manchester United beat Celtic (yeah!). Cal plays Portland State on Saturday.

I fly out tomorrow and then fly into Oakland on Friday.

...To my boy Phil, congrats on the twins!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Got Some Stuff Done...

Cal won today, which is the most important thing. But other than that, I wrote the treatment for Secrets & Lives, the pilot script I'm writing for Krystal, the USC producer. I figured I'd knock that out asap because I'm flying to Minneapolis on Monday for training. I'll fly out of there on Thursday, and then fly up to Oakland on Friday for another Iconoculture meeting. While in Oakland, I'm going to take care of some book business.

Next on the agenda: Finish filling out the benefits forms.

Tomorrow: I'm on the fundraising committee for my Fraternity, so we have a brief meeting. I'm also meeting with the programmer for my site. I'm not very happy with his lack of updates, but all is well if he gets it done right and on time.

The Book: I will write about a good thousand words tomorrow, just to get my oil going. During the week, I will split time between gathering info for Iconoculture during the day, and writing on the book during the night.

Starting my movie watching again: Watched Being John Malkovich again, but this time as a screenwriter. Charlie Kaufman is brilliant. But I think folks know that.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Wonders of Red Bull...

I'd never drank Red Bull before this week, but it really does give you that spark. I know I'm years behind, but damn, the drink is the bomb. Now, can I just come down from it???? LOL

Thursday, September 07, 2006


I'm sleepy, but I have a bunch of things to do.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Officially Full of Projects...

This morning, I went to the gym. Yeah. I got on the Lifecycle, and only lasted thirty minutes. Boo. But, it was a start.

I had my first day at Iconoculture, and I've got to say, folks are mad cool. Really. From the head down. There's a ton of company terminology and methodology to learn, and I'm going to spend time this week getting it down.

On the book front, I accepted my editor's offer to extend my deadline to December 14th. You know how in the movies, fireworks go off when good news happens? Well, that's what happened when I received her email. Now, I can plot out my interviews over the next few months, versus trying to cram them into a month and a half.

Lastly, I've picked up my last writing project for the year. Krystal, the sister in USC's Stark program, and I are going to collaborate on a television pilot. She will use this pilot as her thesis. Hopefully, as we both graduate from our respective universities, we'll have sold it to a money bags network. Bully for us!

But that's all for the year. I was going to take the Kevin Smith class, but that will take too much time. This quarter, I'll take my 434 and one critical studies class (I think the documentary course). I'll do the same thing in the winter quarter, and then flow out of UCLA with another 434.

For the year: Iconoculture, 434s, the book, and this pilot. Each requires a part of my brain, and steady concentration. But I got up today with my game face on. I like that. Keeping me busy keeps me focused.

Monday, September 04, 2006

NBC Scripts...

No work on the book this weekend, but I did write two drafts of the two scenes I'm submitting to NBC showcase. I sent them out to my boys for notes, and I'll polish them this week.

Tomorrow, I have an Iconoculture welcome call at 9am, so I'm getting up early and going to the gym. The gym, that thing I've neglected as I've consumed boxes of Breyers Ice Cream bars. Not very good. Not gained a bunch of weight, just feel lumpy.

For Iconoculture, I'm continuing to set up my list of experts. Bought about seventy dollars worth of black magazines, and I'll soon be on their comp list. I have to fill out all of the employee docs and fax them into the company. I need to continue to send emails to NABJ members about receiving their articles.

As for the book, I'll write another two thousand words tomorrow. I'm pretty focused now, and I don't think I'll have a problem writing a lot more regular. I still have some interviews to do, but I should be around 60,000 by the end of the month. The original deadline was October 15th, but my editor should get back to me about a new deadline.

Manie will be taking care of some business at Kensington, so that should be interesting.

At UCLA, I'm on the 1st year orientation party committee. Nothing much, but I have to get pizzas, beer, etc. On the stress level, this is a one.

Cal got blasted, spoiling my football weekend. is ten days from beta launch.

Received more information about the Kevin Smith class. Even at this late date, it's still pretty vague. We have to submit an audition paper by this Friday. I'll take one of my scenes and turn it in. It's also one of the few, if only, class where we have to give up our rights. At UCLA, we keep the rights to our works, unlike USC if I'm correct. So this has caused a bit of a tizzy among students.

Need to schedule trips to both Oakland for Iconoculture and NYC for the book.

I've very, very, glad that I wrote the story for my fall 434 script. That's one thing I don't have to think about.

I have a full day tomorrow, but what's really cool is that I like that. Keeps me focused. I also like that as I finish my projects throughout the year, my load lightens. By the time I graduate, I should only have Iconoculture, my Masters degree, and loads of time to write whatever project I want to write, be it more books or screenplays.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Come a Long Way Baby...

As September begins, school is back on the horizon, and so I think it's a good thing to say where I am, and what I have to do.

1. Took job as African American editorial strategist, Iconoculture. I start next Tuesday.
2. Money Shot (Non-Fiction) due October 15th, however editor says I can have more time if I want.
3. Untitled Fiction: More Later...
4. Invited to write three scenes for NBC Diversity Showcase: Due September 20th
5. School begins September 28th. Along with my 434, I think I'll take a doc class
6. Beta on September 15th

I have to take a couple of trips this month. I need to fly to Oakland to meet with my Iconoculture supervisor, and then I need to roll to NYC.

As the year goes on, my writing load will actually lessen. Money Shot will be around 75% done by the end of the month. So that will drop off soon. Untitled fiction is waiting for edit, so that will drop off. After that, I will only have two consistent writing assignments: My Iconoculture work and my quarterly script. And then, after graduation, the scripts will drop off. Slaveryland will be added to the schedule at some point, but that's about 40% done already. For 2007, the only question will be what I will choose as my next non-fiction book proposal, and where my television/film writing career is heading. I may have a write for hire gig for a script Krystal from USC is developing. So, we'll see.