Monday, January 21, 2008

How to kill good duck

The duck is leaving the building. Sort of. He's really just changing his name and moving to greener pastures, as ducks and cows tend to do.

In order to not create too much work for or put too much pressure on myself (read: Irregularly updating ONE blog is enough, gawd forbid two...), I'm moving How to Get Good Duck over to This way I can keep this incredibly insightful blog, some links to some of my other crap and an 'acquired taste' sampling of some of my writing all in one place.

How to Get Good Duck will return one day, more than likely as a star-studded major motion picture. Until then, please check out when you have a chance. If you are subscribed to How to Get Good Duck, or are receiving email updates (yes, I'm talking to both of you), you might want to change your RSS feed or re-subscribe for email updates from

Thanks for listening and have a nice day.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Can say lots in six words

Legend has it that Ernest Hemingway was once challenged
to write a story in six words. The result was
"For sale: baby shoes, never used."

- Smith Magazine

A while back, Larry Smith and Smith Magazine asked readers to contribute to the site by offering up six word memoirs. The response was extraordinary and now Harper Perennial is publishing a book, Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure, available next month.

I offered up my own, but I can't for the life of you tell you what I submitted, though it was undoubtedly ridiculous and corny and thus didn't make the book. Perhaps the following would have been better and appropriately descriptive:

Do not remember what I wrote.

In any event, you can check out this awesome video promo for the book and then purchase it here.

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Quit Bitching and Start Writing

I remember thinking when the writers' strike started a few months ago: oh yeah, right - the Hollywood "strike tool"... they'll take a few days off from work, walk around the streets of L.A. wearing khaki shorts and sunglasses while they drink soy lattes from paper mugs... cell phone in one hand and picket sign in the other... and then it'll quietly go away: some sort of deal will be reached, and they'll take up their cushy little jobs again, wearing khaki shorts and sunglasses while they drink soy lattes from paper mugs...

I am sort of happy to admit that I was wrong. I am glad that the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers has not given in yet, even though it seems fair to say that it is only a matter of time before they do.

What really amazes me is the timing of all of this. The Internet now provides an open platform on which aspiring writers, actors, directors and producers can strut their stuff. And this stuff is, right now, as good if not better than what you see on the tee vee. And the quality is improving daily. Considering this, it seems to me that union writers should be happy that they still have their cushy little jobs. Instead of branching out and creating side-projects (which, sometimes unfortunately, anyone with a camera and a microphone can do) on the Internet, striking writers have taken the "shit, we're not going to be able to cush forever... let's get as much as we can while we're still around..." approach.

And the fact that there is now a whole slew of feel sorry for us videos out there is pathetic, I think. Take your pick from here here here or everywhere. Thankfully, SlateV's Torie Bosch agrees with me, as seen in this video here:

TV and film writers make damn good money. Quit bitching and get back to work. Or I'll happily take over for you. Soy latte... mmm, good.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Onions make me cry.

If it weren't for the diligent reporting from The Onion, I'd have no idea what's really happening out there. Here are two fine examples of tell-all stories, telling all:

In the Know: Are We Giving the Robots that Run Our Society Too Much Power?

Poll: Bullshit is Most Important Issue for 2008 Voters

See more of this revealing coverage here.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

It Ain't Television... It's Brain Surgery

I heard about this short film a couple days ago on NPR and had to check it out. The 20 minute-long film is very well done and is definitely worth watching. You can see the whole thing here.

Suffering from Parkinson's Disease, Ray Farkas decided four years ago to undergo a procedure called Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery, a radical step that would, if successful, reduce some of the shaking that Farkas had been forced to endure due to Parkinson's. The brain surgery requires patients to be awake in order to control the accurate targeting of shake-reducing electrical stimuli. Farkas decided to do what other talented filmmakers would nervously shy away from: he filmed it.

The procedure was a success, but Farkas unfortunately passed away on January 4 due to complications from colon cancer. The five-time Emmy award winner had an illustrious career in the documentary television world and is highly respected amongst peers and friends.

His sense of humor and love of life is captured in the film and in the accompanying original score, which offers up such humorous lines as "I need this operation like I need a hole in my head."

Farkas was 71.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

snack attack 1.0

I've released a beta (ha ha) version of my new podcast at I've got some issues to sort out with the sound quality and editing and stuff, but it is available for download as an mp3, or you can listen to it on the player below. It should be available on iTunes in the next day or two as well.

As soon as I get all the kinks ironed out, I'll be trying to podcast a few times a month (I'm steering clear of using the word "weekly." Scary.)

If you have any comments or suggestions, or want to send me your favorite snacks to be crunched on the show, send an email to stillhungry (AT)


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Cognitive psychology defined

I just started reading Omega Minor by Paul Verhaeghen last night and came across this great entry about cognitive psychology:

Cognitive psychology is a beautiful, never-ending enterprise. To lose yourself in the details of the mind, in phenomena that lasts for only a few milliseconds and then dissolve into the great melting pot of consciousness without leaving a trace, it's like trying to guess the number and function of the cogs of a tiny machine encased in a steel box that has been welded shut, just by shaking it. There's a warning sticker on the outside of the mind: Warranty void if opened. No user-serviceable parts inside. Yes, this is the life! This is the real deal; it's like getting a chemistry set for Christmas , but someone forgot to include the instructions.


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Monday, January 07, 2008

Why I Heart Huckabee

I just sent off my absentee ballot today, and yes, I am on the Obamawagon it seems. The funny thing is that when you look at the list of names of Democrats running, all in one little tiny list, with no color and no sound clips, Obama is (here we go again) the lesser of the evils. So there you have it.

But this post is about Huckabee. I just can't stop thinking about that dude. He's whacky and loveable. (If you missed him on Leno, here's
one and two.)

The reason I like Huckabee is that he's the only one who will talk to me. Back in September, I sent off a list of 4 questions to each presidential candidate. All sent automated responses, a few came back with "sorry no time" standards, written by real people, and ALL of the democrats simply added my email address to their spamming lists. I now get six to eight emails daily from Obama and Edwards (combined) and an occasional one from Hillary. But only one dude actually answered my questions. That's right: Huckabee. They were answered through his assistant Gay White.

The questions were:

1. Name the one place in the world you have visited that has had a lasting effect on you or has provided you with memories that you will not soon forget. Briefly explain why the visit was so rewarding.

2. From an international perspective, the political reputation of the United States has suffered significantly in the eyes of the rest of the world over the past several years. Do you think that this decline in worldwide public opinion is justified and what steps would you take as President to improve the political reputation of the United States?

3. For your next cross-country road trip, you must choose one musician/musical artist or one band to accompany you, performing in the back seat as you drive. Who/what band would you take along with you and why?

4. Describe briefly your dream meal. Where are you and what are you eating?

(I know: it's important stuff.)

And here is Ms. White's letter in response:

Dear Mr. Porter,

Thank you so much for your email to Governor Huckabee. He was in the office very briefly today and I had a chance to ask him your questions. His answers follow:

1. The place he has visited that has had the most lasting impression on him is Israel. He took his young daughter, Sarah, to visit the Holy Land. While there they visited the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem. As he led Sarah through the memorial she was very silent. He explained each exhibit and what had happened. At the end of the tour, after remaining completely silent, Sarah looked at him and said, “But Daddy, why didn’t somebody do something?” Her answer so stunned him, so seared his conscience, that he determined he would do everything in his might to try to make the world better. He has never forgotten that trip, that tour, that moment.

2. Governor Huckabee believes that the poor opinion the world has of the United States is partly justified. Rather than a spirit of cooperation and commonality, our leadership has had a go it alone, almost bullying attitude. During his 10 ½ years as Governor, Governor Huckabee (a Republican Governor) worked with a ¾ percent Democratic legislature. Through the Biblical quote, “Come let us reason together” which the Governor espouses, he was able to create and pass significant legislation to leave Arkansas a much better place when he left office. He had the amazing ability to bring together dissenting parties, lead them to common ground and work together for the people. He will do no less as President. He often talks about how at this point the U.S.Government is a horizontal government. The right against the left, liberals against conservatives, Republicans against Democrats. He believes government should be vertical, with everyone working together to reach up. That is the way he lead Arkansas, that is the way he will lead America.

3. Governor Huckabee would like do a road trip with the Rolling Stones! As a musician himself (he plays guitar…and has his own band) he said that would be a REAL road trip.

4. Governor Huckabee said his favorite meal is rib eye steak, broccoli and angel food cake with strawberries.

Thanks again for your inquiry.


Mrs. Gay White

Assistant to Governor Huckabee

Mike Huckabee for President

P.O. Box 2008

Little Rock, AR 72201

Check it out - he likes broccoli. And I love the fact that the nature of my questions led them to believe that I was twelve, hence the need to explain to me that he is a Republican and to throw in the fact that he has a daughter who starts sentences with "But Daddy..." This may, in fact, be his standard elementary school speech, but I love his people for getting back to me nonetheless.

It's too bad he's years ahead of his time. Despite how much I heart the guy, I'm afraid his days are numbered. Sorry Mike. But good luck anyhow.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

How to Get Good Tree

So, today was the day, just a couple days before Christmas, when I finally got my act together (and found the time) to go out into my backyard and choose the tree that would hang out with me in my house over the holidays. This is how it all went down:Me with saw: ready to go.
Bound to be some good trees down here.
The first potentials - too close to the road, not WILD enough.

the saw and the frost
distraction: more amazing frostagain: totally forgot what I was out here to do - blown away by the frost

maybe one of these guys is good enough...
distracted again: ice crystals on the stream

more ice on the stream

right. back to the mission: could this be the one?

And then there was this one: the perfect tree.what it looked like immediately after the kill
in the bathroom, freshing up, er, defrosting...
thawed out and finding its place in the corner of my living room

with lights

and with all the dressing.

That's how I got mine.
How did you get yours?
Merry Christmas