Thursday, January 31, 2013

52 Sketches in 52 Weeks: Bromance


Ah, the ever-confusing barrier between love and friendship. One of my favorite parts of The Fort was that "No Homo" moment at the end, so I'm glad Zach wrote something that really honed in on that conflict.

I had a couple of little writing contributions. The repetition of the word "Bro," the last line, and a couple of structural adjustments. Always feels good to collaborate, writing-wise.

This might be the only episode of these where I play the straight man, since normally all of our characters are so wacky. I usually don't get that kind of chance in the "real" world, since my body type generally gets me the zanier characters as well. I really enjoyed it, to tell ya the truth, and would love to get the chance to do more. I've been thinking about pursuing that lately. Might have to go in for some new headshots soon...

Friday, January 25, 2013

I cross-dress for Guillermo Del Toro


It's the first major horror movie of the year. It earned 28 million dollars on opening weekend, thwarting Arnold Schwarzenegger's comeback movie The Last Stand and ruling the box office. But who is this mysterious monster? The question everyone's been dying to know is, "Who is Mama?" Well, I have your answer:

Me, baby!


Rraaaagh!!!


Well, kind of. A few months back I booked a gig to model for this movie's poster. See, the way the creative process works for a poster is as follows: The studios hire a team of artists, who then think up dozens of different possible ideas. They hire a model (Me) and photograph me doing all of them. They then present the photos to the studios, who shoot the idea they like the best with the actor from the movie.


In the studio, between shots.

I'll tell ya... I thought I had prosthetic make up experience after my zombie PSA, that's nothing compared to what I went through for this experience. First thing they did was put those gigantic nightmare claws on my hands, so after that point I couldn't touch or pick up anything. Then they put me in a dress and shaved my body. Let me remind you again that I couldn't hold anything, so some poor girl got stuck with the honor of shaving my legs, chest, and armpits for me. (And yes, she was cute. Which somehow made it a bit more embarrassing.)

They did a bunch of shots before putting my face on, during which time I got to meet my "daughters." The girls couldn't decide whether I was funny or terrifying, but I think the latter won out when the photographer told me to start hugging on them and stroking their faces WITH MY THREE INCH CLAWS.

After that it was lunch time, in which time my arm pit shaving buddy now fed me like a baby. Thankfully, at no point did she ever say "Here comes the choo choo!"

Am I beautiful yet?!

After that came the face. Now, if you think those eyelids look like they'd be hard to see through, you'd be wrong. They were impossible to see through. They were basically just pieces of plastic with blue paint over them. So at this point in my day I was blind AND unable to touch things. I immediately regretted every Hellen Keller joke I'd ever made.

It was still hours left to go in my day after I was blinded, but thankfully my make up artist was really good about joking around with me and keeping me from getting too bored. It was a pretty fun challenge posing for photographs without being able to see, really. People pretty much just grabbed me and posed me like an action figure. I was told that my pay was being doubled because I guess they felt sorry for me.

When my daughters saw me all decked out, I couldn't resist saying "COME TO MAMA!" (They didn't.)

After the shoot, I still had many many hours left in which I was doused with all kinds of strange-smelling liquids to get the prosthetics off. Every time a piece would fall off (especially the eyes) it was like being born again. Even after they let me go, I still had little chunks of make up stuck on me that would fall off piece by piece in the shower for many weeks to come.

Total time being photographed: 2 hours.
Total time getting in and out of make up: 12 hours.

Hubba. Hubba.

A few weeks later, they called me in for MORE (ack!) because apparently the actor didn't pose the way they wanted, and they wanted to photoshop my arm into it as a cheap fix. So thankfully this time only my arm/hand was made up. 

Despite the tedium of the make up process, there's still something so appealing to me about becoming completely unrecognizable through prosthetics. I guess that's why we become actors in the first place: to become other people for awhile. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

I don't know if that's my arm on the poster or not. I'm inclined to think perhaps not, since they tried to call me in a third time and I had to decline because I was in Kentucky. But when people ask me, I always say "Yup. That's me alright!"

I kinda feel like I've earned that little lie.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

52 Sketches in 52 Weeks: School Counseling


I was totally the kid in school who had no idea what sex was. I had a general idea that it involved naked people kissing, but that was about the extent of it. Naturally, this led to many a stressful conversation in the locker room where I'd be laughing at jokes filled with words and concepts I'd never heard of in my life. Figuring out the actual mechanics of sex was like a big film noir mystery that I had to solve piece by piece, sniffing clues out of every dirty joke and lewd comment my hairier classmates made.

So I love the idea of the adult who never really figured it out at all. I think he's the guy we're all afraid we're going to turn into when we're kids. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

52 Sketches in 52 Weeks: Atheist Missionary


I really wrestled with this idea for a long time. Must've gone through about four different drafts before landing on this one. I knew that I thought the idea of a door to door atheist missionary was funny, but how to approach it without sounding like I'm trying to make some big smarmy statement (one way or the other). I always had trouble balancing it out. 

The answer kinda came to me in having both characters change their minds at the end: The redneck embraces atheism with intense zeal, which prompts the atheist to say a quick prayer as he walks away. It's a really subtle joke, which I guess is why I missed it for so long. 

Glad it came together though. I also really enjoyed going toe to toe with Matt, as we really don't get many scenes together. It's still a Herculean effort on my part to keep from laughing any time I try to act with that guy.

Anyway... really procrastinated on putting this post up here. The new episode will be up in just a few hours, for Pete's sake! (I've never known who Pete is...) Better late than never?

One thing that never has been, and never will be late, is our Supreme Saturday submissions on Youtube. Every Saturday. All year. BRING IT ON!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Bump in the Road: I Have to Fire My First Formatter


In case you haven't noticed, my book isn't out yet. I had a really tough time with my formatter, and wound up having to fire her. She was... strange. Every time a new challenge would arise, she would lecture me about how I was doing something wrong instead of working with me to find a solution. I dunno. Maybe I was the unreasonable one in the exchange? I thought I'd publish the transcript on here and see what you guys think.

NOTE: Her real name's not Elizabeth.

The saga continues


I was just looking at your book. Does this book have 425 chapters??? If so,
I'm going to have to quote you more than I originally quoted, because for
Smashwords requirements I'll have to go in and add the word "Chapter" in
front of each one of those of numbers and set each one in a heading style so
that Smashwords can generate the NCX file. It will take a lot longer to do
that for 425 chapters than I had quoted based on word count and supposing
that you had an average number of chapters (for example 20 chapters for the
42K book).
Elizabeth

So Smashwords requires the word "Chapter" to be in front of all the numbers? Eh. Lame. Fair enough.

It doesn't have exactly 425 chapters. There's a section titled "Suicide Letter" that's sort of a separate short story within the narrative on page 115 that starts after chapter 166. After that section ends, the original narrative starts back up at chapter 344. 

If I'm doing my math right, there are actually only 247 chapters, plus "Suicide Letter." Does that affect your quote?

Nathan

Yes, they do require it, because their computer that does all the conversions from Word .doc to .epub, .mobi etc. is set up to detect the word "chapter" so that it can form an NCX file (or auto-generated TOC). I don't think it's "lame". It's pretty-much conventional for most fiction books and makes them easier to read in my opinion.

247 chapters is still excessive for a 40K book and would require extra picing. The most number of chapters I've ever seen in a novel was around 100 and that was in a book 3 times the size of yours. At any rate, my pricing doesn't include determing where the chapters go, so you're going to have to that and send a revised copy back to me with the chapter in place. If you can do that today, I'll try to keep you on scheduled for tomorrow, but it might be Friday. After that, I'll be on vacation for Christmas, so you would be into the next week before I could give you a turnaround.

Elizabeth

Think you had a typo there. Your last message said "...so you're going to have to that and send a revised..." Not clear what you were trying to say. What do you need me to revise?

Yeah, I get that you have to do more work for more chapters. That's fair. I was just wondering if you still needed 35 dollars for 247 chapters vs. 425, or if that changes things. Don't wanna send you the wrong amount.
Nathan

Sorry about that. I had just gotten out of bed when I typed that and hadn't had my coffee yet. It's supposed to read "So you're going to have to do that and send revised..." (I left out the word "do") In other words, you need to divide the book into chapters, because I have no way of knowing which number denotes a scene break and which number denotes a new chapter. If you do that and add the word "chapter" where the new chapters start, then the price will only be $20. If, however, you  want to send me a list of the numbers where new chapters start, and I have to add the word chapter to each one, then the price will be $30.
Elizabeth


(I DID.)


I'm looking at your revised manuscript, and your last chapter before the Suicide Letter is Chapter 166. After the Suicide Letter you continue numbering with 344. You can can't do that and pass Smashwords' vetting process. Your numbers have to be sequential, so your numbering as to go Chapter 166, Suicide Letter, Chapter 167…etc.
Also, I'll need to get your payment tomorrow before I begin working on the manuscript.
Elizabeth



Well, it is what it is, I guess. Here's the new version.

Paying you right now.
Nathan


It is what Smashwords requires. I don't make the rules. I'll get it back to you tomorrow.
Elizabeth

Your manuscript is attached formatted for Smashwords.
Let me know if you need anything else.
Elizabeth



(AT THIS POINT I EMAILED SMASHWORDS SPECIFICALLY ABOUT THE QUESTION OF SKIPPING CHAPTER NUMBERS. THEY SAID IT WAS PROBABLY DOABLE. IN THE NEXT EMAIL I CALL HIM A "FRIEND OF MINE" INSTEAD OF ADMITTING I WENT OVER HER HEAD.)



I asked a friend of mine who works in smashwords about the whole skipping a chapter problem, and he suggested putting a notice to that effect between chapters 166 and 245. Ex:

--- END CHAPTER 166 ---

Chapters 167-244 are missing from this text. You haven't done anything wrong, and the author isn't forgetting to put them in.

--- BEGIN CHAPTER 245 ---

...or something to that effect.

Is that doable?

Thanks,
Nathan


I don't know who the person is that you talked with at Smashwords, but I've worked for them doing formatting since October 2009. I've formatted more than 3,000 e-books that are now for sale in their premium catalog, and I can guarantee you that they will reject the book if you skip those chapters in the sequential order. They will come back with an NCX Guideline #20 error and tell you that that block of chapters is missing out of the NCX file. But if you don't want to listen to me on this issue, what I will do is refund the formatting fee you paid and let you take the book elsewhere to have it formatted. I have too good of a reputation to give a client something that I know is wrong and won't be accepted.
Elizabeth

I'm afraid that's what we're going to have to do then, because I'd like to go ahead and give it a try. 

Best of luck in your future endeavors.

Nathan

I've issued your refund. But don't say that I didn't warn you. I've seen them return books with a Guideline #20 Error when just one chapter was left out by accident. I can't imagine them accepting a book with 200 chapters missing.
If you get another formatter to go along with this, they're not helping you or doing your book justice.
Good luck to you, too. You'll need it more than I do.
Elizabeth



Aaaand that's how it ended. Weird, right? I found another formatter (the fantastic Jacob Drake), who found a way around the problem by getting creative with the hyperlinks. Things are back on track! I'll get back with a specific release date soon.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

52 Sketches in 52 Weeks: Aqueezor!


Matt's hilarious graphic design is obviously the big star of this one. His artwork has a way of making you feel like a little kid again, reading old comics in your grandpa's attic. 

Doing voiceover work was a new challenge for me. I can kind of tell where I made a few rookie mistakes (over-enunciating, talking too slowly, etc.) but it mostly just made me excited to try to tackle that medium all over again. Once I start getting some big checks for my Kia commercial I plan to pursue that field more aggressively.

Poor, unqueezable Aqueezor! I've always loved it when villains actually win and they're forced to confront what that victory actually means. Often the pursuit of victory is more invigorating than victory itself. Aqueezor's minion obviously doesn't understand that, the turd.

Here's a few more of my favorite illustrations from this week:










Wednesday, January 2, 2013

52 Sketches in 52 Weeks: The Fort



If I could get away with living in a fort like that for the rest of my life, I totally would. When Zach started ripping it down, I almost judo chopped him in the head. Decided against it. Mostly because I was afraid he would punch me and kick me and throw me and make me cry.

Seriously, folks. Don't we all miss the days when bedsheets and furniture was a castle and PVC pipe was a laser gun? At what age does that start becoming, well, kinda gay?

That's what I was making fun of when I wrote "The Fort" I suppose. There's magic in the friendship between these two guys, I think. It's one of my favorite team ups that I've written so far. Hope you guys enjoy it too.