DanTaylorBlog.com V.2

June 1, 2009

Hey, Gang! There’s an ALL NEW DanTaylorBlog.com and you can find it here. Please update your links and bookmarks, and check in often as the dust settles and the blog continues to grow. Thank you for your support.

Today Was Star Wars Day?

May 4, 2009

starwarslogoI woke up today to numerous greetings of “Happy Star Wars Day” — mostly all over Twitter. Did I miss something? Was there a geek meeting, or nerd memo circulated that I was unaware of? Now, I understand the pun of the reference in regards to today’s date and a line of dialog spoken throughout the Star Wars movies. Today was the fourth of May. “May the Force be with you” is uttered numerous times by various Star Wars characters. “May the fourth be with you” and “May the Force be with you”. Clever — kinda.

It has always been my assumption that May 25th was Star Wars Day — signifying the day that the first Star Wars movie was released in 1977.  Admittedly, “May the twenty-fifth be with” doesn’t quite sound very similar to Jedi mantra, but… “May the fourth be with you”? I don’t recall Obi-Wan Kenobi speaking with a lisp. And, I certainly don’t remember Cindy Brady being a member of the Jedi Council. But then again, maybe that’s how she managed to get Joe Namath to pay a visit to her “sick” brother, Bobby.

Is Smaller Better?

April 29, 2009

I am typing this post on my latest purchase — a brand new netbook. I used part of my tax refund to treat myself to a new bit of technology and got myself an Acer Aspire One netbook. I’ve been mulling over the prospect of getting a netbook for quite sometime. While I have a laptop it is soon to be an antique, quite hefty to lug around, and is prone to lapse into comas requiring me to completely reboot my hard drive from scratch and losing files.

I’ve been wanting to get myself something that was a lot lighter and smaller that I could use to basically surf the ‘net and write — or write and occasionally surf the ‘net. A netbook seemed like an ideal option. I’m already getting used to the smaller keyboard, and with any luck and burst of inspiration I’ll give the keyboard a worthwhile workout over the next few nights as I work on a few scripts and outines.

I’m looking forward to finally having a notebook/netbook that I can carry around with me and write when muse strikes me over the head with an inspiration-filled sap or blackjack.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll even blog more often.

Bright Lights, Big City Redux

April 26, 2009

brightlightsbigcitytadpicConfession time… My all-time favorite book is Bright Lights, Big City written by Jay McInerney. I think I first read it during my first year of college, maybe two years after it was originally published. It’s one of the few books that I’ve read more than once, and I’ve bought multiple copies after loaning it to friends to read. Alright, here’s another confession… I even liked the movie Bright Lights, Big City that starred Michael J. Fox and Kiefer Sutherland. Sure, the movie was flawed — most of the cast and crew involved with the production have admitted as much. The production was troubled, to say the least, and it showed on the big screen. In the end, the film was pretty much considered a bust — but I liked it. My fondness for the film is probably related to my deep love and admiration for the source material, I’ll admit it.

If you’re not familiar with the novel Bright Lights, Big City it was published in 1984 and written in the second person. The main character, who is not given a name in the book — thus essentially making the reader the main character, is a disillusioned writer that spends his days as a fact checker for a New York magazine. At night, he uses alcohol, drugs, and the ’80s party scene to shake off the thoughts of his failed marriage, life back home, and the inability to be the writer he dreamed of becoming.

According to Variety, it now appears that MGM is going to give Bright Lights, Big City another shot at the big screen. This time around, the co-creator of Chuck, Gossip Girl, and creator of The O.C., Josh Schwartz has been tapped to write and make his feature directorial debut with a “fresh take” on McInerney’s novel. My concern is that Schwartz isn’t sure if he’ll set the movie in the original time period of the 1980s or a more contemporary setting.  I’m hoping for the former — the time period is a character all in its self in Bright Lights, Big City. But having created such shows as The O.C. and Gossip Girl, it looks like this next cinematic take on my all-time favorite novel is in capable hands with Josh Schwartz.

Coulda Been “Alien Spotlight: Nausicaan”

April 24, 2009

NOTE: If you haven’t already, you might want to check my previous post — Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda… Writing Possibilities — before proceeding further with reading the post below.

dtnextgenDuring my tenure as an Editor at IDW Publishing, the opportunity to edit the newly acquired Star Trek license was definitely the highlight — as much as I dug what we accomplished with Transformers while I was there. (Ugh, that last sentence could’ve used an editor.) Star Trek has always been the favorite of my geek-habit “children”. Having the opportunity to contribute to the Star Trek galaxy was — as cliché as it sounds — a dream come true. I felt what we accomplished with Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Space Between, Klingons: Blood Will Tell, Star Trek: Year Four, and Star Trek: Alien Spotlight was something really special. In fact, at one time I was set to contribute as a writer to the Alien Spotlight series, but it didn’t work out. I probably phasered myself in the foot with that one.

After leaving my post as Editor at IDW to pursue the “whimsical” life of a freelance writer I still hoped to keep the dream alive and contribute to the Star Trek galaxy. This included an effort in submitting a few pitches for the second Alien Spotlight series. One of the pitches involved the nasty Nausicaans — which were featured prominently in The Next Generation episode “Tapestry” (Season 6, Episode 15), one of my all-time favorite episodes.

Like most writers know, when you throw pitches and stories up against the wall to see what sticks, a lot of what you’ve entertained ends up falling into a pile on the ground. For whatever reason, for better or worse, the following pitch didn’t stick — but, I wanted to share it nonetheless.

Alien Spotlight: Nausicaan – “A Severed Thread”

Opening scene on two young male Nausicaans, equivalent age to a 10 and 12 year-old—Kier is the younger Nausicaan and Zon is the older of the two. They are in a forest and have come upon a cornered boar-like creature. Zon pushes for his younger brother to take on the creature and slay it with the sword he was just given by their father. Kier balks and Zon calls him a coward—an evaluation that hurts the younger Nausicaan. Two decades later, the two Nausicaan brothers are serving aboard a pirate vessel, and Kier has just received communication that he has a newborn son. Zon teases his younger brother that at least his son will have an uncle to look up to since it is unlikely that Kier will ever amount to his level of superiority. The pirate vessel attacks and boards a merchant transport and the boarding party of outlaws is ruthless as they plunder the cargo and harm the crew. Kier again shows a moment of weakness when he hesitates to finish off one of the transport’s crew—an act that doesn’t go unnoticed by his brother Zon, who belittles his sibling by referring to him as being unworthy of owning their father’s sword. Shortly thereafter, the two Nausicaan brothers, in addition to a third Nausicaan, find themselves at a Bonestell casino where Zon cheats human Starfleet Ensign Corey Zweller. This leads to an eventual fight where Kier, in order to prove to his older brother that he is a worthy Nausicaan, stabs another Starfleet Ensign in the back and through his heart with his sword—Ensign Jean-Luc Picard (ST:TNG “Tapestry”). The Nausicaans are arrested and sent to prison for their crimes. Kier ends up serving fifty years, contemplating the actions which led to his incarceration and the lost opportunity of seeing his own son grow. He is eventually released due in part to an early Nausicaan/Federation treaty brought on by a Nausicaan diplomat—Kier’s own son. Upon his release, the much older Kier travels to Earth and surprises now retired Jean-Luc Picard in his vineyard. Kier apologizes for his actions some fifty years previously, but states that his and his brother’s absence from his son’s life—and the lack their violent influences—may have in fact, led to Kier’s son becoming a diplomat and a new beginning for the Nausicaan and the Federation. Kier then presents his father’s sword to Picard and leaves without saying another word.

To Sleep, Perchance To Dream

April 15, 2009

Enough already! Last weekend I was feeling under the weather and some sort of cold/flu bug kicked my ass and knocked me out. I slept for a majority of the weekend. I think I was awake for a total of four hours on Saturday, and just a handful on Sunday. Monday, I of course woke up feeling well enough to start my work week (couldn’t even pull a sick day out of the ordeal). During my weekend of sleep I had many complicated, involved, and downright weird dreams. And, though my fever broke Sunday and I’m feeling fine the weird dreams continue. That and I find myself up before 4:40 in the AM — a solid two and a half hours before I have to get up for work.

But, rather than toss and turn in an unsuccessful attempt to fall back asleep — only to have to endure more involving whacked-out dreams that would just leave me more exhausted — I gave up and got out of bed.

Wild Reason That I Wish I Had A Kid Thing

April 11, 2009

wherethewildthingsare200x200My all-time three favorite books from my childhood are Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, Maurice Sendak’s In the Night Kitchen, and Where the Wild Things Are — also by Maurice Sendak.

In October a live-action motion picture adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are is being released. The film is directed by Spike Jonze (who early in his career directed the brilliant Beastie Boys music video for “Sabotage”). From what I’ve seen in the trailer, I am already sold. The Wild Things look fantastically real — with an emphasis on the “fantastic.” Whenever one of your beloved aspects of your childhood emerges into your adult life as a “remake” or “adaptation” or “re-imaging” you can’t help but have at least a slight sense of dread that it’s just not going to turn out as well as you remember it. I strongly believe that this will not be the case with the Jonze directed Where the Wild Things Are.

The Where the Wild Things film has a vibe to it that has me feeling that if I had a kid, this would be the movie that we would share the experience of seeing together. Sure, I’ll be certain to introduce my kid to the other classic films — such as the Original Star Wars, Trilogy (IV, V, VI), King Kong (1933), To Kill A Mockingbird, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (with Gene Wilder, not Johnny Depp), The Iron Giant, and the movies by Pixar (except maybe Cars). But, dammit, if Where the Wild Things Are doesn’t look like the perfect movie for a parent and kid to hit the cineplex for.

Of course, my kid would already have a familiar knowledge of the works of Maurice Sendak, having owned dogeared copies of much read and much loved Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen books.

This is one time that I’m truly jealous of my friends that are parents who have kids that they can take to go see this film. I’m sure I can talk at least one set of parents to loan or rent me their kid to take to go see Where the Wild Things Are — but it won’t be the same.

And, my kid will definitely wear Max’s footie/hoodie wolf type pajamas. If not, dad will — so damn cool.

Nick Adenhart 1986-2009

April 10, 2009

adenhartAs I begin to type this post the Angels/Red Sox game is about to get underway. This is the first game after the tragic loss of the Angels’ rookie pitcher Nick Adenhart.

I was at the Angels/As game on Tuesday night, the second in the four game home opener series. On Wednesday night I watched the third game of the series against Oakland with 22-year old Adenhart pitching. He pitched a helluva six innings. Sure, he got himself into a couple of tight positions with loaded bases, but when he was done for the night he had pitched six shutout innings. The Angels lost that night, but I was already looking forward to the next night’s game — I had tickets for Thursday night.

Then I heard Thursday morning that the young rookie pitcher who had just pitched six shutout innings the night before was gone — a victim of car accident claiming not only his life, but those of two others and leaving a third in critical condition. Thursday’s night game was understandably postponed.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am an Angels fan. There’s an official MLB home plate at my bedroom door with the Angels logo on it. I have a number of baseballs signed by various Angels players over the last number of years. An official Angels batting helmet rests on a high shelf. I’m the kind of fan that wears the jersey of the team’s manager, Mike Scioscia to the game.

Even though I wasn’t at the game tonight, but watching it on television at home, it was emotional. I’m an emotional fan as it is. I cried when they one the World Series in 2002. When I’m at a game I cry almost every time they show the pre-game video on the diamond-vision showcasing great moments in Angels history. So, it wasn’t surprising when I cried during the tribute and moment of silence for Nick Adenhart tonight.

adenhartpitching

Counting Down To Star Trek

April 8, 2009

startrekcountdowntpbIf I was excited about seeing the new Star Trek movie directed by J.J. Abrams — which is warping onto the big screen next month — then my former colleagues (as well as a few newer individuals that have joined the team since my departure) at IDW publishing have only amped the anticipation with the release of Star Trek: Countdown.

I’ve got a month’s wait — May 8th — for the release of the latest Star Trek flick. I have eagerly awaited the release of each and every Star Trek movie since the release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture back in 1979 — three decades ago… Wow! And sure, not every Star Trek film has been exactly stellar, but for the most part they have been enjoyable. And, there’s no denying that the anticipation of each release was always exciting for Trekkies and/or Trekkers like myself.

Now, when I first heard that the eleventh Star Trek movie was going to be a sort of a “re-imagined” or “re-tooled” of the original series featuring such iconic characters as Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, Scotty, et al. there was some uneasy concern that they messin’ with the wrong guy’s favorite science fiction franchise. But, the more I saw by means of photos and trailers, and the more I read via web sites such as TrekMovie.com, the more I began to realize that, “Hey, maybe I won’t be heartbroken after all.”

What IDW Publishing’s Star Trek: Countdown — story by Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman,  script by Tim Jones & Mike Johnson, and art by David Messina (who I miss receiving regular deliveries of fresh art in my inbox from) — was able to do was cast aside any concerns that I might have had by neatly and smartly tying Abrams’ upcoming Star Trek movie into the already well-established, and heavily ladened with years of canon, continuity. IDW’s Star Trek: Countdown is really as much of a Star Trek: The Next Generation story as much as it is a prequel to the upcoming movie. Yeah, the new movie will have a different “glossier” look than the original series. Yeah, my beloved Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Sulu, Uhura, and Chekov will be played by a cast of fresh faces that would seem to be at home in a United Colors of Benetton ad. But, you know what? It’s still Star Trek.

Thirty days to go — and counting down…

The Script Frenzy Has Begun

April 2, 2009

scriptfrenzyticketNow that the whole April Foolishness is behind me, I’m buckling down to write a new screenplay during the month of April. Why April? Well, it happens to be the chosen month for Script Frenzy — an international writing event in which participants take on the challenge of writing 100 pages of scripted material in the month of April. This excercise in creativity and commitment is very similar to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) — which I have wanted to attempt in the Novembers of the past few years.

While I have never written a novel in my life, I have written a number of screenplays — eight to be exact. But, it’s been well over a decade since I’ve competed — or much less gotten past Plot Point I — in writing a new screenplay. I spent the last year and a half pounding out various comic book scripts, and with the current comic book freelance market the way it is, figured that now was as good as time as any to return to screenwriting. Many of my creator-owned comic book scripts, pitches, and outlines the last couple of years have pretty much been planned as springboards for feature films, so… Why the Hell not switch gears and tinker with a screenplay.

I speant much of March trying to decide which of these “springboards” to devote the month of April to and mold into a screenplay. A couple of my ideas I had actually pitched to various production companies last summer. The idea that eventually won out to get the “Hollywood treatment” so to speak is a “family film” of sorts — perhaps a bit edgier than most, but a solid PG rated concept. It’s about a group of kids that find themselves as the last defense against demonic monsters threatening to break free from their hellish prison and bring nightmares to life. The title — The Last Trick Or Treat.

I’ll try to post regular updates on my progress and my experiences of my Script Frenzy throughout the month. Stay tuned.


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