Pitch Idea: Reign of Rudolph


Too normal. He’s the first to go.

You know Dasher and Dancer, et al. And you also know the greatest story of all, Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer. But do you know the sequel?

Forty years after his triumphant return, Rudolph has taken advantage of his status as Santa’s right-hand reindeer to rule the north pole. Rudolph is power-hungry. Permanently defined by the psychological torture he endured as a child, he believes that those different from him deserve a slow painful death, and so he institutes an apartheid directed towards all non-misfits.

Only a ragtag group of survivors stand against Rudolph’s iron-hoofed reign: an elderly elf with peppermint lung from his stint in the mines; Yoland, the last living Yeti; and our hero, a perfectly normal Jack-in-the-box — the disowned son of Charlie-in-the-box, Rudolph’s second-in-command. Together, they must track down the mysteriously withdrawn Santa Claus, the only man who can stand up to Rudolph. That is, if they can escape the Toy Factory first.

Also, there’s a scene where a troop of reindeer heil Rudolph with their antlers, because that’s funny.

Alternate title: “Reigndeer”


Pitch Idea: Science Animals

Concept art of what a dog and a cat look like. Via www.morguefile.comThe cartoon show Science Animals would follow the adventures of Pavlov’s dog and Schrödinger’s cat: two hard-bitten pets on the road of scientific discovery.

Pavlov’s dog — Pav for short — has a weakness. He drools whenever a bell is rung. Schrö, on the other hand, has a superpower: he can become a zombie, but only when no one is directly observing him.

Their dynamic is disrupted by the Hugs Bison, a loveable buffalo who enjoys hugging as a form of greeting.

They must all learn how to work together in order to handle the various Occam’s-razor-wielding villains of the week.

Summer 2013

Warning: this one’s a slightly dry post… mechanics of my mission, ect. Blah blah blah. Skip down to the cool round photos if you want the highlights.

I have big plans for this summer. I’ll be starting my final year of college in the fall, and I have a squarely three-month time span between now and then. In that time, I hope to accomplish two things. I want to get this blog onto a firm every-other-day posting schedule, while hopefully stocking up enough spare posts to keep it going strong during the school year, a task that I’ve found is pretty darn difficult. Second, I want to explore ebook self-publishing. I’ve already done some research into this, and I have a few options to follow up on. I have two or three novels that are okay enough to publish. Sadly, I probably don’t have the time needed to write more this summer, but you never know.

My blog plan means I’ll have to write seven posts every two weeks. To get that done, I hope to publish posts elsewhere on the internet, and then reposting them on my blog. By setting up this site as a hub, I can keep my audience up-to-date, while still pulling in interested people from other sites. I’ve already started posting, as you might have noticed. Here are the categories that I’ll be using to keep me churning out the insightful commentary that all you fans love so much.

Sci-Fi Essays

I’ve got a kinja blog over here, where I post science-fiction related information for the Io9 crowd, like this recent post about Steven Moffat’s plotting misadventures.

Book Reviews


I’ve got this account at GoodReads, where I post book reviews. I’m hoping to expound on my favorite genre, the wacky shenanigans genre, which I coincidentally also came up with. In future posts here, expect a deep study of the genre. For now, you’ll have to settle for this recent review of the Henry Reed books.

College Advice

I’m a freelancer at HackCollege.com, and I’ve blogged lists of the posts I’ve written for them in the past. I’ll be continuing that practice in the future.

Film Reviews

Sadly, I’m no longer in my cinema class, which is what forced me to post a 300-500 word review here every week. Now I just need to rely on my own initiative, and I always tend to watch more TV than film when I’m given the chance. I certainly wouldn’t check out such admitted classics as Citizen Kane or On the Waterfront.

Trailer Reviews

This one won’t be regular, either. The trailer reviews were commissioned by my college newspaper’s website. They’ve only posted one so far, and they’re on hiatus for the summer, but they want around five reviews for the next year. I might easily do more on here.


I’ll post links to my guest posts, and I might even post the guest posts that have failed to find hosts. Heh, post hosts. Anyway. I’ll also add old articles I’ve written for my college newspaper’s print version, and past blog posts I’ve squirreled away. Also, I might expound on some notes that I’ve written for myself: I have a ton of old thoughts that can easily make fun blog posts. For example, nicotine patch gym shorts. “Get addicted to exercise!” Genius.


Last and greatest: my various projects. I’ll try to keep you updated on:


EmmettMy planned podcast is The Academic Emmett, a dramatized series of short fiction stories airing around December 2013. It stars Emmett, who’s basically Sherlock Holmes if he were a college student and a mad scientist instead of a detective. I’ll have my own website for it, and I’m in charge of writing, recording, some voice acting, rounding up all the other voice actors, editing, adding music and sound effects, designing the site, and advertising for the whole thing once it’s done.

I still need to finish 13 stories this summer, but I just wrote one this weekend, so it shouldn’t be too tough to complete those on time. I’ll have a total of 4 seasons, each about 11 episodes long and covering a year of Emmett’s academic career. This is my favorite one… I’m excited.

Flux | Flow

fluxflowThis is the TV show I’ll be acting in. Most of the work will be done over the fall semester, but I may be writing a future episode ahead of time, which will be a great way to flex my screenwriting muscle. I’ve been studying the art via reading Story, by Robert McKee, which I’ve been enjoying.

More about the show here.


I’m writing, producing, and co-starring in a genre mash-up that I’m calling NoiARRRRR. That’s right, five Rs. It’ll be a buddy cop film starring a film noir detective (that’s me!) and a pirate. They’ll have to learn to work together in order to stop a group of smugglers. Expect plenty of terrible puns and great genre references.


I’m planning to get started on a film spec script. The plot? The stalker of a B-level actress is the only one with enough information to save her when she’s kidnapped. We’ll see how this one progresses…

Untitled Young Adult novel

That’s right, I’ve got one more writing project planned. More information to come on it. Can I possibly finish these all? No. But you won’t be able to find out which I complete and which I don’t until August. Follow along. It’ll be fun, I promise.

As drawn by me, that is.

The Wit of The Newsroom: Analyzing the secrets of Sorkin’s banter

So I’m a big fan of the Newsroom. I have to admit, though, that’s it’s not because of the politics or the characters, because both fall a tad flat. It’s because the witty, fast-paced banter is constant and all-consuming. The hour speeds past way faster than with most shows, and virtually the entire draw, at least for me, is in the dialogue. There’s a reason it’s Sorkin’s highest-praised talent.

“Don’t make me use banter.”

Jim is like, "That's not a funny caption. This isn't a funny joke."

“Dern merrk meh urse berrrrntrrrr.”

But I’m not content to just watch it. I’m interested in just what makes his dialogue is fascinatingly punchy, so I’ve taken to watching each episode with a laptop open, noting various linguistic techniques that the show uses to stay entertaining.

Overall, Sorkin’s typical approach is to get two people talking to each other, and then make sure that both people use misdirection often and clearly. Misdirection is seldom allowed to exist for more than a single line of dialogue before the lie or syntactic ambiguity is confessed or clarified. This way, the audience can follow along easily — a necessity of commercial screenwriting — but can also feel as if the narrative is not easy to follow along with — a luxury of commercial screenwriting, and the reason Sorkin dialogue is so fun to listen to.

There’s plenty of ways to slip misdirection into the conversation. Clarify a small point, and then drop a big point that renders the small one useless. Deny one point, then reveal that you only denied one aspect of it, and not the aspect that the requester wanted to hear denied. Correcting a mistake, but only if it’s a small one: “You said ‘why’ twice.” And there’s always blatant hypocrisy, like the conversation between Will and episode six’s new bodyguard: “What other people have you guarded?” “We don’t talk about that.” “Okay.” “Kanye. It was awesome.” Or again, at the beginning of episode eight, in which Will harps on his newsroom’s “entire philosophy,” then explains that he’s off for a meeting to discuss “suspending our entire philosophy.”

Watch an episode with an eye out for the different types of obvious misdirection. On top of that foundation, a handful of tougher-to-categorize staples of the dialogue-writing trade suffice to boost the entire show into a stunningly entertaining wit-fest. Repetition and contradiction is rampant, for instance. From episode six: “We can do it if you want.” “I want.” and “Do you see a lot of action in New Jersey?” “Do you see a lot of action in the studio?” From episode eight:  “But they don’t work for Leona Lancing.” “I don’t know, I think everyone works for Leona Lancing.” Also making appearances are snark, hyperbole, analogies — all the good stuff. Wordplay is a fun one: “He said ‘in pain,’ not ‘a pain.’”

Episode seven has a few examples of classic tactics, with a little understatement, people being wrong about commonplace info, and the ubiquitous snark. There’s more repetition: “Way outside the box”/“bring it back in the box,” and a nice running gag: Everyone on the airplane knows Don is having dating problems with Maggie.

Running themes are a fun part of The Newsroom: on top of running gags like airplane gossip or Neal’s Bigfoot theory, all the characters tend to gravitate towards a certain linguistic trait in each episode, despite seldomly using it elsewhere: In episode six, irrelevant assumptions or data are may times given to rhetorical questions like “how are you” and “guess what.” In episode eight, emotional plot revelations often come in tandem with jokes, a la “Oh my god, Sloan, it’s like the Land Where Time Stood Still! Brian Brenner’s the guy I cheated on Will with!” and the episode’s final line, “I didn’t know He had that kind of comedic timing.”

Those aren’t all of the secrets behind the punch of The Newsroom’s wit, the entirety of which is genuinely difficult to compose. Once it’s all broken into parts, though, the dialogue doesn’t seem quite as superhuman. Sherlock Holmes similarly fails to amaze his clients once he has taken the time to explain the many steps to his reasoning. Neither Holmes nor Sorkin should be considered hacks for using myriad tiny steps to create their masterpieces.

There’s one element to Sorkin’s dialogue that is the easiest to create by far, too: the ‘fast-paced’ part. The trick is merely talking all the time. I was watching the latest episode, and was surprised to hear the Newsroom-y theme music playing while Charlie Skinner walked through the library. Normally, we don’t get a full ten seconds for such luxuries. It’s just as well. I don’t like the theme music. Like virtually every other element on the show, it just gets in the way of Sorkin’s dialogue.