Friday, November 30, 2007


This week has completely kicked my butt and I'm ready for it to be over. It's only 12:45 p.m. and already I'm like, la la la... I'm ready to read a book and shop online now please, thank you! What's that, it's time to curl up on the couch with some hot tea and watch one of our new hi-def movies, while stitching Xmas projects and enjoying the rain? Don't mind if I do!

And yet, I still have all this stuff I have to power through.

I have no other point to this particular entry, except to complain that I'm tired and my ability to focus is officially drained. I could add something more interesting, but I really should wrap this up and get back to work.

This entry was brought to you by the word Procrastination, the exclamation "Bah!" and the expression, *SIGH*.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


This weekend has been Project Weekend in the McLean House. I'm thrilled to be getting so much done and I hope to have all kinds of completed projects to report on once Monday arrives.

One of the things I'm doing today is going through all these boxes of crap I've saved for years and years, including notebooks from college. Mostly, they're just class notes and can all be recycled and (finally) sent to notebook heaven. But sometimes I'll find notes to myself. Little scraps of journal entries I'd jot down in the middle of calculus or Russian history. Gems like this, for example:

"The RA Who Went Apeshit,"
By Dinah Larson
She's pissed, and she has the master keys.

As it turns out, "The RA Who Went Apeshit" is a touching tale about a young woman pushed too far by residents hell-bent on waking her up with loud, drunken parties at 2 a.m. on a Tuesday, or making her miss important collegiate opportunities because of, and I think I'm reading my notes correctly, "time-suckage." The plot goes on from there--there's a break-in at the dining hall that results in our heroine and a local rabble-rouser sharing a bowl of cereal, evidently? Clearly, the project lost steam early on.

As much as I'm throwing away and recycling this fine day, I am really glad I saved some of this stuff. Is all I'm saying.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Best. Proposal. Ever.

Oh, my god.

When my friend Anna told me she and her boyfriend Ted got engaged, I squealed and freaked out like a girl. When I saw her I grabbed her left hand and gushed over her GORGEOUS engagement ring.

Then she told me how Ted proposed. Suffice to say, Best. Proposal. Ever. THEN she told me it was on YouTube.

Have a tissue handy.

p.s. I get to be a bridesmaid!! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!

Friday, November 09, 2007


These things are currently making me very happy:
1. The Campo Gorilla Reserve is finished and open at the LA Zoo! I've been peering through the construction walls at this for the last three years I've been going to the zoo regularly. Mac & I have donated money with specific hopes that it helps fund this project. The old habitat was sad, y'all. In fact, on our first trip to the LA Zoo, we found a lot of it to be a little sad. But we also saw how many animals they've rescued, bred, and returned to the wild if possible, and we saw little construction sites all over the grounds, just waiting to flourish and become proper habitats for our beloved animals. And this one is done.
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2. This candle, purchased at Anthropologie for $15, smells just like Autumn.
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3. Thanksgiving is coming. In fact, Mac & I get TWO this year, and one of them is tomorrow. For those of you thinking it might be delightful to have the McLeans over for Thanksgiving, or perhaps celebrate at our house one year, let me tell you--it IS delightful. And delicious, for I am in charge of Dill Bread, cranberry sauce (with orange & ginger), and apple pie with homemade crust. I made a practice pie this past weekend for my friend Mikey in DC.
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Thursday, November 08, 2007

about the strike, if you're curious

For more information about the strike, if you're curious, I recommend reading my friend Alf's blog. He's compiled a lot more source material than I had time to find. It's all very pro-strike, pro-writers, but there's a lot of information there.

Although, after wading through all of it, I still think that no matter what the resolution, we consumers are going to get jacked.

I'm also feeling a little bitter that support for the strike has totally outshouted support for, say, wild fire victims. I mean, people are bringing protesters so much food they're having to donate the surplus to food banks. Which is great for the food banks, but... we couldn't maybe honk at them on our way to make a donation to the Red Cross? I'm just saying.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Is this the right answer?

Everyone in LA is all up in bunches about the writers strike. I have friends closely connected to the industry here--writers, sound techs, grips, talent managers--and I am extremely sympathetic to their plight. I am also concerned for how the effects will trickle down in ways that we can't even yet imagine.

I find that people here are very quick to be sympathetic to the writers. After all, studios are raking in cash hand over fist for all these movies and TV shows, and the writers are only asking for pennies to the dollar in residuals resulting from sales in "new media" (e.g. downloads on iTunes). I've Googled the crap out of this, and am having a hard time finding the exact terms to source, but I've heard it's around $.04 for every $15.

Why so stingy, you stinking studio bastards?

Rich, high-profile writers contend that they're fighting for the little guy, the one who doesn't get a lot of writing gigs, and needs his residual checks to get him through the dry patches. They garner sympathy with movie goers and couch potatoes everywhere, saying that the only reason we're being deprived of our late night talk shows and promising new shows like Journeyman is because of studio greed.

This is all probably true. I think that, ultimately, we the consumers will suffer in entirely different ways.

I'll explain (warning: math ahead!). Let's work with my un-confirmed, yet conservative estimates of $.04 for every $15 per writer. The size of a writing staff will vary between TV and movies considerably, but for the sake of easy math I'm going to discuss TV only, and make an assumption of five writers for an average TV show. Some quick multiplication and the studios are now paying out a total of $.20 per $15 made by that one show, and netting $14.80.

These still seems unreasonably stingy, right?

My question is, what happens when this strike lays groundwork for the directors guild, and then the actors guild? Right now, none of these hard-working artists are seeing dime one from new media, and that should change, right?

The truth is both the directors guild and the actors guild contracts are also coming up soon. Terms reached in this strike WILL lay groundwork for the directors and actors.

If (when) it does, let's see how that adds up. Let's suppose a TV show is working with about 5 different directors, has 10 writers, and has a cast that includes 20 actors. Let's suppose the terms are exactly the same. Now, for every $15 made on iTunes, writers get $.40, directors get $.20, and actors get $.80, yielding a grand total of $1.40 per $15. Now the studios get $13.60. Still, a lot.

These are conservative estimates, mind you, for small shows. Late night comedy teams can be up to 15-20 people strong. The Lost cast is ridonkulously huge. Payouts for these kinds of shows could start to look like $3 - $5 per $15, making the studio net around $12 - $10.

It still doesn't seem like much. My question is, when does it stop?

I ask this question based on my experience at Ticketmaster. Everyone hates Ticketmaster, because of their so-called ridiculous, expensive fees. The truth is that there was a time, when Ticketmaster was first starting, when they were the good guys. They usurped the big bad ticketing company, Ticketron, by making an event's entire inventory available to purchase everywhere at the same time, instead of different record stores having different inventory. For this service, they charged a service fee. It was bundled into the ticket price, and no one was the wiser.

Then Pearl Jam, and the fees were broken out, and everyone got furious. What they didn't know is that all of the people involved in an event-promoting chain, like buildings and promoters, saw that little fee as their own "new media," and they wanted a piece. Ticketmaster said, fine. BUT. For every cut divied up for someone else, they needed to make up that profit elsewhere. And these entitled parties said, Fine. Pass it on to the consumer. We don't care if everyone hates you.

And ever since Ticketmaster's fees started becoming a revenue stream for all these other parties, they've started asking for bigger and bigger cuts, passing along the increase to the consumer every time. There are even buildings and promoters who now think they can provide the same service as Ticketmaster, and collect the whole fee (note: this doesn't mean the fee goes away if Ticketmaster goes away).

Back to the topic at hand. Right now, you can download Ratatouille on iTunes for $12.99. You can get 6 episodes of Reaper Season 1 for $11.94.

Presumably, a cut of this sale goes to iTunes, and a cut goes to studios. Fair. No cut goes to writers, directors, or actors. NOT fair.

I guess my question is, what happens when studios start sharing their new media profits? They'll put the squeeze to iTunes, and renegotiate that contract. Ultimately, however, every party still wants (needs?) to get their share.

And prices go up. Maybe it's $13.99 for Ratatouille and $12.94 for Reaper. Maybe it's more. Most likely, it will be more. All this before anyone really knows for sure what the market will bear.

Look. Even as I'm exploring this, I feel I must state for the record, that I do agree that $0.00 is NOT the right answer. But is squeezing the consumer at the end of the day the right answer either? Ultimately, how much do you want to pay for a movie that takes up space on your hard drive, and plays on a small screen with crappy speakers? Sure, technology will advance to keep up with new media, and mediaphiles and early adopters will upgrade, and spend more money for the convenience. We'll grumble about it--we may even learn to hate iTunes the way we despise Ticketmaster--but we'll do it.

I don't know. I don't know the answer. I think it's generally a good idea to ask questions and look at every side of the issue, but I don't really have a powerful conclusion. I don't want anyone to lose their jobs, I'm not advocating one side or the other. I'm just wondering, will the outcome of this strike kick off a slippery slope of kick-backs, and, if so, where does it end?

And will anyone in this town give a shit when Joe Consumer ends up paying for it?

Sunday, November 04, 2007


I'm in DC, visiting one of my favorite people on the planet. We've cooked fabulous meals, listened to hundreds of songs, and ventured out to the Mall for an Edward Hopper exhibit.

In a word: happy.
Near the Capital, DC

Thursday, November 01, 2007

ponder this photo

Halloween was laid-back and fun. There were way fewer trick-or-treaters this year than last year, so we're now saddled with an obnoxious surplus of cavity-inducing, ass-swelling candy. While we figure out what to do with it, besides eat way too much of it, I think I'm just going to ponder this photo, and wonder how the heck our dogs got to be so darn cute.
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