Friday, June 08, 2007

Living in DC: The Dupont Circle Trash Phenomenon
At the end of a gorgeous spring weekend in Washington, DC, Dupont Circle's trash cans will be overflowing with mountains of coffee cups, newspapers, etc.

I admit to doing what everyone else does - placing my empty drink container somewhere within a pile of trash with the precision of an artist, so I won't cause a trashvalanche. The result - twice the amount of garbage for the container, and cups etc. littering the surrounding area.

You'd think we'd walk a couple more blocks to a much emptier trash receptacle. I finally caught on and started doing that just this year. Certainly DC doesn't want to have to pay a waste management company to double their collection runs each weekend.

This problem isn't endemic to Dupont. Today in Seth Godin's post "It's always like this," Seth speaks of the overflowing garbage cans at the Javits Center in NYC in the same breath with another problem: Not enough chairs and tables (not to mention those trash cans) for thousands of convention participants.

While the Dupont Circle Phenomenon is easily solvable through our own awareness - "maybe I'll just carry this Starbuck's cup home" - convention-goers don't really have that option. I'm surprised (although I shouldn't be) that the Javits Center doesn't police the trash situation round the clock (or at least in the daytime.)

In both cases though you'd think the Powers That Be would take action (the National Park Service and the Javits organization), since garbage strewn about says "We Don't Care!"

I can see another reason, not mentioned in Seth's post, why the Javits Center limitis the comfortable seating, however. After years of conference planning myself, I can hear the associations saying "We don't want people to rest because we want them walking by, and into, the exhibitor's booths! If we put out more chairs and tables, everyone will congregate there, and the exhibitors will chew us out for diverting potential customers!"

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Big Eye Blinks
According to USA Today, CBS has ordered up another seven episodes of Jericho!

We'll all be able to see what happened after all the shooting started.

Now the Jericho writers can add a gay character (although that may be too much to ask.)

I see CBS's decision as an excellent customer service action.

Next time, can we order it without nuts?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

It May Not Be Your Passion If:

#12 - You're finely crafting in an arena that calls for quickfastandinahurry.

My "career" in writing drama has always frustrated me in one aspect - I'm neither a fast nor a prolific writer. It took me a long, long time to make characters and plot work together, not to mention dialogue and description. Sometimes months would go by while I labored over the same tired scene, and then one day I'd get slammed with a burst of brilliance on how to make it work. This type of crafting works rather well in the theatre world. But in screenwriting? You need to have multiple scripts tossed around at any single time - and even then you'll probably get a "pass" (i.e., not interested) on each one. So you have to go back and churn out more. Trouble is, I'm just not that kind of writer, and I will never be.

Even though I've "technically" given up on screenwriting - or to put it more positively, I'm exploring the zillion other options I'm interested in - I still play with ideas in my head. Like the superhero outfit that takes the wearer's body and transforms it to finely-tuned muscularity - but only in the wearer's eyes. So while this idea fascinates me, I know it would probably be another two years before I get anything down on paper that I would trust showing to anyone. I'm just not the quickfastandinahurry kind of craftsman!

Read the other posts in this series...

Monday, June 04, 2007

TCM's Rare Misstep
While Tom Shales over at The Washington Post reviews Turner Classic Movies' "Screened Out," their month-long investigation of "Gay Images in Film," I'll contribute my thoughts on their summer-long festival of family-friendly flicks, "Funday Night at the Movies."

The series began last night with the #1 family-friendly movie ever made - The Wizard of Oz (flying monkeys nothwithstanding.) Tom Kenny intro'd the movie, hosting a bunch of "tween" kids on a clubhouse-type set. This misstep here is the concept. We were led to believe, in the previews over the past month, that we'd gain some insight into the films by having all these kids around. However, Tom looked stiff as he reacted to the camera lens, giving me the impression he was reading from cue cards. The kids sat around without much to do, other than almost destroy a prop (on purpose). After the film, Tom provided some low-energy tall tales surrounding those monkeys, and then frightened the kids away with an unopened box of them.

It came across as erzatz Nickleodeon. At least "The Wizard" wasn't interrupted for additional shenanigans.

And then there's the whole "repackaging" aspect of this new endeavor. More on that in a bit.

Tom Shales rightly believes TCM is the classiest cable channel. And their original programming, mostly documentaries on stars and genres, is top notch. So I can forgive them this brief respite from brilliance. Hopefully they'll get this format together for future shows.

But I'm still left with a feeling they're just repackaging the same TCM stuff, and not trying anything new. Years ago, when I was a radio announcer and station music director in the wilds of New Hampshire, the general manager came to me with a new idea she and the sales staff were working on. "Jukebox Saturday Night," they called it, and the idea was to sell one hour blocks of ads to a client, who would "sponsor" the hour. "Great," I said. "Do we get to buy some new music, maybe expand our library of 50's and 60's tunes?"

"Oh no," said the GM. "We're going to work with the music we've got."

Jukebox Saturday Night never did get plugged in. I don't think the potential "sponsors" weren't all that thrilled with it, but I'll never know if additional music would have made the difference.

I'll be checking out TCM next Sunday night to see what they do next with this "Funday" idea.