I get a win in Vegas!

So, it finally took a while for me to post about this after it was announced, but I’m happy to report it now. My screenplay Wrath has been named as one of the top 100 screenplays at the Las Vegas International Screenwriting Competition. I am so happy right now. It feels really amazing that somebody actually thinks my work is some of the best out of God knows how many entries is pretty freaking awesome. What happens next? Well, at the end of this month, they’re going to name the top entries out of every category, but just making it this far is a win in my opinion.

If you want to support Wrath, you can buy it on Amazon. 

 

And to everyone who’s supported me: THANK YOU!

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My Thoughts On Ready Player One

Ready Player One is a 2011 science fiction novel written by Ernest Cline. I read it my senior year of college as it was one of the required books for one of my classes. The particular class was called Literature for Screenwriters. I’m not making that name up and here is the description of the class on the academic calendar:

This course provides exposure to literary traditions from the classics to pop culture, analyzing how the selected books have affected the film industry, both in terms of direct adaptations and by influencing generations of filmmakers and screenwriters.

And I’m glad to say that I got a chance to read this story. Because it’s really freaking good.

What is this about?

In the year 2044, the world is gripped by an energy crisis and mankind escapes this Hell by immersing themselves in a virtual world called the OASIS, which is best described as having an intense rooting in the pop culture of the 1980s. The main story is that OASIS creator James Halliday has died and he has left an Easter egg somewhere in the OASIS and whoever finds it first will inherit his fortune. Five years after the hunt for the Easter egg begins, our hero Wade Watts has made a huge breakthrough in the hunt, and the adventure goes on from there.

Why should you read this?

This story is really interesting. The book itself is actually a pretty quick read, and I finished in a few hours, though I was listening to the music on my phone as I was reading so it may have felt faster for me. Reading the story, I thought that the world was really cool and the plot was something that I didn’t see that often. As an anime fan, I think the best way to describe the story is “Sword Art Online meets One Piece“, which is surprising considering I’m not a big fan of Sword Art Online. I’m also reminded about the Animaniacs film Wakko’s Wish, which was about the entire Animaniacs cast racing to get a wish granted by being the first one to touch a wishing star that had fallen to Earth. The other thing I thought was cool and what I think sets it apart from anything else is just how much the 80s pop culture oozes out of every chapter. You can tell it was done by a guy who loves this decade.

The other thing I thought was cool and what I think sets it apart from anything else is just how much the 80s pop culture oozes out of every chapter. You can tell it was done by a guy who loves this decade. And the one thing I took away from this was if it was possible to do this for other decades. I can see this being done for the 90s or even the 2000s. So, in a way not only is this book really good but it has the possibility to be influential as well.

On another note, as I work on my writing, I find this to be a helpful guide on how to format my work because I can see how well a published book is put together, so I have a bigger appreciation for this book now than what I had a year ago. And that’s something I feel is something you could consider special.

Ready Player One is a book is a story that you don’t want to put down until you’re finished once you pick it up for the first time. It’s widely available on Amazon and in bookstores all over the country, so do yourself a favor and pick up Ready Player One, put on some 80s songs, and start reading. I recommend that “Africa” by Toto be in your playlist.

So, NBA Free Agency…

So, how about that free agency, huh? Well, the biggest piece’s move was an anti-climax with Paul George joining the Thunder. But everyone has said that that move is just a season long affair until the man known as PG-13 can go to Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the Warriors resigned Stephen Curry to a deal that’ll set him and his kids for life if the money’s managed well, Blake Griffin resigned with the Clippers to ease the pain of Chris Paul being traded to the Rockets, and Andre Iguodala is also staying in the Bay Area with a new deal as Kevin Durant waits to sign after taking a pay cut so this Warriors core intact so they can get another title.

What does this mean? Well, according to ESPN’s #NBARank, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving are the only two players in the top 15 that hail from the Eastern Conference. The Western Conference is really top heavy. All the talent’s there, and if you’re a neutral fan without a team, it’ll probably be boring until the Finals where you wait to see if this Warriors team becomes a title closer to being called a dynasty. Are they? Well, as of the time is writing MGM is putting them at 10/17 odds to win it all. And since the season outlook is pretty predictable to some, let’s see the things worth paying attention to:

  • Will “The Process” amount to anything in Philadelphia?
  • Can Lonzo Ball be as good as advertised?
  • Can the Clippers FINALLY break through and give their fans a title that they feel this team can win? (As a Lakers fan, I hope not because it’ll be nothing but articles about a “changing of the guard” in The City of Angels). -__-

Short list, I know. So let’s talk about the notable free agents in 2018 (I’m not designating between restricted and unrestricted free agents):

  • Dwayne Wade
  • J.J. Redick
  • Chris Paul
  • Brook Lopez
  • DeMarcus Cousins
  • Tony Parker
  • Isiah Thomas

IIRC, LeBron has a player option for next season, so we have the potential to have 2010 free agency all over again. You excited? What does it mean that an offseason is more interesting than the actual season? I don’t know, but I just want to know if Jordan’s Bulls had any real challenges on their way to their titles.

And now, I must join my fellow Lakers fans in lamenting why we have made no moves and the fact that we have to deal with Lavar Ball. Magic Johnson better not be an executive like Phil Jackson.

Getting Personal

See that picture? That’s me on my high school’s Senior Night after we beat our rival Palm Desert. Why am I showing you a picture of me as a high school senior? Because I think it’s relevant to this post.

Remember when I showed you the first paragraph of what I’m calling Welcome to Life in California? Well, the reason I’m doing it is because that story is based on something that I went through: moving to California from Virginia with my sister and my mother in 2002. I’m not going to say that everything that’ll go down in the final product is based on that move because it isn’t. I also won’t say WHEN the story takes place because I feel that if I put it to a specific date I’ll probably run the risk of limiting myself and I never considered myself to be the best when it comes to references or the technology of a specific era of time. So, there’s a sense of having some freedom to write. In addition, my experiences in those ten years is helping out a lot when it comes to writing things out; for example, I went to my high school’s website for help in figuring out how to write a scene and to see if there were any specifics I needed to mention.

And for the big thing: No, I probably won’t be “opening old wounds” or however the cliche goes. I don’t have the skill nor anything resembling intimate knowledge to justify putting that kind of stuff in. I will say that the fact that I’m doing something kind of personal and creating a story that the anime community would probably classify as “slice of life” means that it’s pretty easy to write and I can just knock it out of the park sooner rather than later and get it to editors and hopefully publish soon.

And then I can say something I never thought I think I’d do when I was in California.

Not having a job sucks

I’m not how much of a “first world problem” this is, but it’s something that eats at me all the freaking time: being unemployed is one of the worst things ever. Why does it suck? Mainly because I have no significant amount of money in my wallet, and any money that ever IS in my wallet goes away just as quickly as I get it, whether it’s my own fault by going out to get lunch or something or having to pay an Uber to get me to a place I need to be (which only reminds me about the fact that I need a driver’s license and I need to get one STAT), or whatever else, the fact I don’t have a regular source of income is something that just makes me feel like crap.

As for my writing, I may get a certain amount based on how much I write, or if I sell a certain amount of copies I publish (if and when I actually do publish), the the fact of the matter is that writing fiction is such a lottery that you must have the grace of God or some really amazing connections or some once in a lifetime talent to be able to make enough writing on money to make a living off of writing. And I’ll be the first to tell you I have none of those things. That doesn’t hurt me as much because I accepted the fact that it’s a lottery pretty early. Thanks, Wikipedia articles about famous creators!

However, the fact that I will most likely never make a killing in the writing business makes me feel like I need to get a real job now.

As a result, I spend my time applying to stuff on a regular basis. Let’s hope I don’t get too depressed.

What’s My Favorite Anime?

I haven’t really told this to anyone, but I’m an anime fan. I just love the out there worlds that they can create and when the good ones are good, they are REALLY FREAKING GOOD. It’s actually kind of hard to talk about what good anime really is unless you’re some kind of anime critic with a YouTube critic, which I’m not. However, I can tell you what my favorite anime of all time is. That particular title goes to Shinichiro Watanabe’s 2004 work Samurai Champloo. A year ago, I presented my case to the r/anime subreddit.  If you don’t want to go there and read the comments, I’ll put my case here,

If you read a lot of “Best/Greatest Anime of All Time” lists, Cowboy Bebop will surely be a regular fixture. But I’m not here to talk about Cowboy Bebop or how cool Spike Spiegel is or anything that can be summed up with “See you, Space Cowboy”. I’m here to talk about another anime directed by Shinichiro Wantanabe. An anime that is one of the only two anime that I have given a 10/10 on MyAnimeList. And my favorite anime of all time. I am talking about Samurai Champloo.

What’s This About?

The story takes place in Japan during the Edo period. The first episode introduces us to the three main characters: A wandering swordsman named Mugen, a ronin named Jin, and a waitress named Fuu. The setup is that Mugen and Jin meet at the tea house where Fuu works, and they get into a fight. In the process, a magistrate’s son is murdered and Fuu’s tea house is burned to the ground, resulting in Mugen and Jin being sentenced to death. However, the two are saved from death by Fuu. And Episode 1 ends with the setup of the anime: Fuu asks Mugen and Jin to accompany her to find a “samurai who smells of sunflowers”. And over the course of 26 episodes, we see their journey.

Why Should You See This?

You ever hear of the saying “It’s the journey, not the destination”? That’s one of the best ways I can describe this anime. Because the fun of watching this anime comes from seeing a Japan that isn’t like the one from history. We have a version of Edo-era Japan that has rap, graffiti taggers, and in Mugen, a swordsman that isn’t a swordsman that’s unlike anything you’ve seen before (at least I haven’t). Not only that, but you get to watch the development of the friendship between the three main characters on what’s basically an awesome road trip.

But let’s talk about what’s the strongest asset Samurai Champloo has going for it: THE MUSIC. This has one of the best scores I have heard in anything ever, not just in anime. The soundtrack was headed by the late Nujabes, who helps to bring the hip hop feel of Samurai Champloo to life. Music has always been one of the high points of any Shinichiro Wantanabe work, and this is no exception. And just like how jazz, blues, science fiction, and film noir mesh together seamlessly in Cowboy Bebop, we see hip hop and samurai mesh seamlessly here.

But don’t just take my word for it, here are some tracks:

The opening track, “Battlecry” by Nujabes featuring Shing02

The main ending track, “Shiki no Uta”, by Nujabes featuring Minmi

The ending track from the final episode, “San Francisco” by Midicronica Personal Note: listening to this while rewatching this solidified Samurai Champloo as my favorite anime of all time.

Where Can You Watch This?

Samurai Champloo can be watched both subbed and dubbed on Hulu, subbed and dubbed on Netflix (at the time of me writing this, Febuary 16th, 2016), and episodes can be bought on iTunes (though I can’t find any information regarding being subbed or dubbed on iTunes).

Samurai Champloo is my favorite anime of all time. And at the very least I hope you find this to be a great anime and a great title from a great director. It’s very rare that I come across something that I want to see again and again without getting tired, but this is one of those things. So if you want to see a great tale of swordsmen, a great tale of samurai, a great character driven journey, watch something with great music, or any combination of the aforementioned things, check out this anime. You’ll like what you find.

In the time I made that post to Reddit and now, I must sadly report that Samurai Champloo is no longer streaming on Netflix.com and is DVD only. It’s still on Hulu though, but Hulu has gone to the point where you HAVE to create an account and create a plan, so if you want to take that plunge, that’s up to you. The series can still be bought on iTunes.

Another thing I forgot to write originally is that in episode 12, there’s a recap of what’s happened in the show so far…and the final scene is so funny and unlike anything I’ve seen before that I’m not going to spoil it here.

What I WILL say is that Samurai Champloo is an amazing anime (it’s one of the few things I’ve given 10/10 on MyAnimeList) and everyone needs to see it. That’s when you know something is good: when you have to tell everyone to go see it.

So yeah, I’m an anime fan. And Samurai Champloo is my favorite anime

Back to Drexel

Yesterday, I went back to my alma mater of Drexel University for a meetup featuring the people in my major of Film & Video. It’s always great to go back to your old school and catch up. For starters, Drexel is still doing construction on its campus.


Secondly, some of my favorite food spots are there, like the halal cart that’s a great place for a college student to spend five dollars.

Also, there’s the Cheese E. Wagon, which features some of the best things you can do with cheese, from grilled cheese sandwiches to killer burgers.

And be sure to say hi to the owner Mike. And be sure to wish him luck in Arizona, as he aims to take on what he calls an emerging food truck scene.

As for Drexel itself, one of my old advisors moved on, and I need to find a way to contact him. Regarding the alumni, a lot of them are doing pretty well.some have work either through connections or chance (which is kind of normal for my field), and some are still trying to make a name for themselves, like me. I told them what I’m doing (such as this blog) and they’re actually really glad that I’m doing things. A lot of them thought I’m ahead of the game by having business cards. I’m not sure how big a deal it is to have business cards, but I’ll still carry them with me.

I’m not sure what else to say except this:

To Karin Kelly, who supported me an immeasurable amount,


To Gerry Hooper, who was one of the first to tell me I was a great writer and introduced me to Akira Kurosawa,

And everyone else that helped to make Drexel a great place for me to go to college: Thank you. I don’t think I can thank any of you enough.