Find Your New Favorite Writing Spot

This is a resource I posted on my other blog, LA Screenwriter. If you’re a student, a writer, a screenwriter, or any other type of person who’s always on a laptop in a coffee shop, you’ll want to check out this website:

I recently discovered OpenWiFiSpots.com and have fallen in love with it. I know some writers prefer to be away from the internet when they work, but for those screenwriters who like to be able to check facts, research locations, or just take a break and check their email, this website is invaluable.

OpenWiFiSpots.com has complete listings of coffee shops, restaurants, libraries, and all sorts of other public locations that have free wifi readily available throughout the Los Angeles area.

Look for wifi hotspots within specific neighborhoods or specific types of locations. This is an amazing resource for finding your new favorite writing spot. Plus, if you’re not LA-based, the site has listings for a number of other major US cities.

How Steve Jobs Changed the World

Steve Jobs passed away yesterday after a long battle with cancer. He was only 56 years old.

Whether you’re a Mac or a PC, whether you think Apple is overpriced or the best thing that has ever happened to personal computing, you can’t deny that Steve Jobs and the people he worked with have changed the world in a multitude of ways.

Here’s Fortune’s list of ten ways that Steve Jobs changed the world.

Required Veiwing According to Steven Spielberg

(Here’s another post from my other blog, LA Screenwriter that I thought might have mainstream appeal.)

This is a list of over 200 films that supposedly Steven Spielberg thinks every filmmaker should watch and study. Here’s the explanation:

This is a list that someone sent me during a conversation on Twitter. It’s unofficially referred to as “Steven Spielberg’s List of Movies You Have to See Before You Can Work With Him” aka “Steven Spielberg’s Curriculum.” Weirdly enough, I could only find ONE mention of it on Google. ONE. And it was a weird mention here: But it’s a list of 206 movies that Spielberg assembled as movies that should be required viewing for any aspiring filmmaker. And if you listen to the way Spielberg talks about cinema and the history of film, it’s quiiiiite clear he has seen more movies than anyone on earth other than Martin Scorcese. But just goes to show you how overlooked that part of your mantra is: watch. Movies. A lot of the great directors from Spielberg’s era have probably seen more than half of those movies. Maybe even 3/4. The younger filmmakers coming up now? I’d be shocked if they’d seen 30 of them. I haven’t seen anywhere NEAR half of them. Anyways. Pretty interesting list. I uploaded it as a Google document which I figure is probably easier for sharing than a Word document.

See the full list here.

Story Tips from the Master: Robert McKee

1

(I originally published this article on my other blog, LA Screenwriter, but I think Mr. McKee’s advice can be applied to all types of storytelling arts.)

I recently participated in a free teleconference put on by the International Screenwriters Association with the legend himself, Robert McKee. Robert had a proliferation of valuable advice to dispense over the hour-long Q&A session, and I did my best to take notes on what I found to be his most interesting points. Here are some highlights:

  • Robert was repeatedly annoyed by questions about the “biggest” mistakes or the “best” way to do something because he doesn’t believe in pre-packaged writing tools. (However, he did indulge the group with some examples of “big” mistakes, “better” ways, etc.)
  • One major mistake that beginning writers tend to make is being impatient. Don’t put an explosion on the first page and then go back and explain what happened in subsequent pages. It’s sloppy storytelling and experienced readers won’t be impressed. Take the time to establish your characters and your world in a beautiful way.
  • On the topic of mixing genres, Robert said that mixing genres can help dimensionalize characters – if all your character does is fall in love, they’re not going to be an interesting character. We also mix genres to try to create a film that hasn’t been seen before. Everything has been done – no one is going to invent an entirely new genre. Robert thinks that the innovative films of the future will come from writers merging genres.
  • Write the truth. The other way to say this is ‘Don’t lie.’ When you read what you’ve written, Robert suggests that you ask yourself, “Is this an honest expression of what I believe it is to be a human being? Is this the truth from my point of view?” If you don’t write what you believe, you’ll never convince anyone. People are great lie detectors, Robert noted. Many people write films that they don’t believe in because they believe the masses will. This type of thinking leads to terrible filmmaking. Robert added that lying in order to make money should be left to lawyers, not writers. Never write what you think people want to hear – write what people need to hear. Continue reading

Catch Some Culture

There are a number of excellent cultural events in and around Los Angeles every summer. If you live anywhere nearby, take a day or two and check a few of these (mostly free) events out:

For those out in the Inland Empire, Pomona has an Art Walk every second and last Saturday of the month. Pomona is also home to a much-loved Antique Row that has great window shopping and excellent dining every day of the week.

Claremont also has an Art Walk on the first Friday of each month.

The famous Downtown LA Art Walk is on the second Thursday of each month.

The Laguna Festival of Arts/Pageant of the Masters also happens each summer. This year’s event lasts until August 31.

And then for those near Hollywood, there’s Cinespia. At this great summer attraction you get to watch old movies on the side of a building in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. It’s a truly awesome LA experience.

Those near LA can also enjoy free productions of Shakespeare in Griffith Park all summer long. These shows are put on by the Independent Shakespeare Company. This summer they’re putting on The Merry Wives of Windsor, Hamlet, and Love’s Labour’s Lost.

If You Could Use Some Good News…

If you’re like me, you probably find few things more depressing than watching the news or reading the latest headlines on Google News. It feels like bad news surrounds us and there’s always more to read.

But there is good news in the world, too, and even seemingly sad stories often have silver linings. Case in point: Ode Wire.

Ode Wire is a news feed for “intelligent optimists” currently in beta. According to the website,

OdeWire presents news to inspire intelligent optimists.  Our unique wire is constantly refreshed by an automated system that combines advanced semantic technology with the guidance of our editorial staff.  Around the clock and around the world, OdeWire is always looking at the most authoritative news sources for stories that focus on solutions rather than problems, and on positive changes rather than negative ones. Unlike other news sources that are over-weighted with negativity, OdeWire contributes to a more balanced media diet.

OdeWire is a collaboration between Ode Magazine, the global magazine for intelligent optimists, and Federated Media Publishing, which powers the best of the independent Web, using technology that originated at TextDigger, a Silicon Valley firm developing ground-breaking semantic search technology.

Check it out if you could use some good news.

100 Reasons to Love America

1

Happy Independence Day! Fortune Magazine put out this list of a hundred great things about America, and it seemed like an excellent way to celebrate. I’m sure we can all come up with a long list of things this country could be doing better, but this 100 item list barely begins to cover the things we do right. Read the intro to the list here.

1. Opportunity
We live in the land of it. It’s knocking. And all the other adages — all true.

2. The Interstate Highway System.
Road trip! Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson, Chevy Chase — and you.

3. The Sears Tower
Naming rights are well and good, but the Willis Tower is still Sears (SHLD) to us — and still the nation’s tallest building.

4. Wal-Mart employees in Joplin, Mo.
Store employees saved lives during the tornado. Now that’s service. Continue reading

Better Psychological Development = Better Sex

2

An interesting study out of Johns Hopkins takes a look at the link between psychological/social development and sexual pleasure. The study found that young men and women who are psychologically healthier — people with higher self-esteem, autonomy and empathy — consistently took greater pleasure in sex.

So if you have a healthy enjoyment of sex, thank your parents (or whoever raised you) for doing a good job giving you a bit of self-esteem, independence, and empathy.

Here’s the full article:

Sexual pleasure among young adults (ages 18-26) is linked to healthy psychological and social development, according to a new study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The study is the first to use a representative population sample of heterosexuals to find a relationship between key developmental assets and sexual pleasure. The findings are published in the June 2011 issue of The Journal of Adolescent Health.

The research study examined data from 3,237 respondents ages 18 to 26 from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, Wave III: 2001-2002. “Sexual health is more than the absence of sexually-transmitted infection, unintended pregnancy, violence or other problems. It is the presence of sexual well-being,” said Adena Galinsky, PhD, co-author of the study and a doctoral student with Bloomberg School’s Center for Adolescent Health. Galinsky, currently a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Chicago, conducted the study along with Freya Sonenstein, PhD, professor and director of the Center for Adolescent Health. Continue reading