Thrift Treasures (The Pink Floyd Score)

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For about ten years, since I started thrift shopping here and there, once in a while I would peruse the old vinyl bins. Thrift shoppers have seen the smorgasbord of crap in the record bins of thrift shops and should be familiar with the site: Lots of musicals, symphonies, old singers of the 1940s and 1950s that nobody has ever heard of. Even though these records are unknown and worthless, they are beat to shit as if they were touched a thousand times. I have two theories on this.

My first theory is this: They are beat to shit because they have been there many many years and have had people sort through them dozens of times every day for a decade. You see, they are the “Records Left Behind.” The music gods came down and took the good ones. What you have left are the records that do not deserve to be in anyone’s dream collection.

My second theory is there is a donation wave that happens when technology changes. The people who bought records of the cool artists of the 1960s and 1970s and early 1980s got rid of their old stuff in garage sales when CD’s came about. Say you have a person born in 1955. When they turned 18, and bought Pink Floyd’s The Wall in 1973, they played the shit out of it. They hung the poster on their wall and put the stickers on their locker. By the time CDs came about in the mid 80s, they might have replaced the record with the CD. They would have been around 30 by then, and keeping up with the Joneses. So maybe they had a house so they bought a new CD player and bought all those albums they had when they were younger, because many of us listen to stuff we associate with our youth. (Half the stuff I listen to is from 1994-1999 when I was “growing up”). So starting in the mid 80s, they began throwing out their old records. Parents cleaned out their kids old bedrooms and threw it all out (much like in the 1950s when mothers threw out all those Micky Mantle baseball cards). Most of these were beat to shit or scratched up. By the mid 90s, the vinyl market was dead. This is when I suspect all the great record finds could be had at Goodwill, Salvation Army, and other thrift shops.

By the late 90s, a peculiar things started to happen. Records were growing in popularity again. I think this had something told do with the internet, CD’s not being unique anymore because music was being ripped from the internet. The buyer is now in his mid 40s and maybe a little nostalgic. He has planted his roots and maybe gone through his midlife crisis. So from here on they might start collecting their old albums to listen to the records they used to love or, the new generation takes over. Their kids could be entering high school or college and might find the records their parents used to listen to pretty hip, so they hoard them, and start collecting them.

As a result, thrift shops don’t receive well known records anymore like they would with VHS or DVDs today (which who knows, might be a market for that in 30-40 years). What you see are the remainders that have been picked over 800 times, possibly because ebay now provides a market to make a quick buck. When they do get quality music, it only happens on accident I think and in bulk. Major collectors would likely get stuff liquidated in an estate sale. Small time collectors won’t donate their stuff if they spent years building their collection back up. If they have held it this long, it isn’t getting donated. The peak picking era for records was likely from 1985 to 1998. Those that buy vinyl now are too familiar with ebay to ever unload their precious music.

So back to the picture, where did I find my Pink Floyd The Dark Side of the Moon albums? In ten years of of visiting goodwills or a Salvation Army maybe once a month (sometimes going 7-8 months without visiting one), I have amassed most my collection in 3 scores. I have found some pretty cool stuff in really good condition. By the early 80s, many people who bought records would only slit open the side and pull the record out, so the album is well preserved. Many of the art inserts are still inside. I like the ones with the original store sticker on the cover of the plastic. It’s pretty funny to see how prices change.

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One of my Pink Floyd Albums for which I bought for 99 cents (worthy maybe $50 for the quality) still has the poster and stickers which is pretty awesome. The other album isn’t exactly a gem mint 10, but that’s ok (might be worth $15-20 on Ebay). The good condition album, along with a box of 20-30 pretty iconic records were found at a Goodwill in Las Vegas when I lived there in 2010. I forget if it was 50% off day, but at most I paid $20 for the curated box, likely left behind by an old collector or their kids. Half of the albums had plastic sleeves which was nice. It was good luck to find a single album worth anything at a thrift shop these days, so to find an entire box put out and priced for 99 cents each is a score.

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I also have a couple Purple Rain albums for when Prince went by that name. Just look at that cover. The purple bike, the purple jacket. The duality of the vinyl cover. Pretty crazy. One of the copies was also found in big score.

The rest of my collection came from similar situations. A random box is put out with no kidding good quality records from good artists, and happened to be there. My current record collection stands at around 100 albums I think. I have some doubles. It is very rare that I find an random album of good quality.

Back to the beginning. That buyer of Pink Floyd would be in their early 60s today. Maybe there is a random shot they will donate well-preserved albums now and hope it isn’t picked up in 5.3 seconds by “the flea market” or “ebay” or “super collector” people that hit up the stores practically everyday. Maybe I’m wrong and just miss out every time? Who knows.

For now, I will keep picking up quality stuff and sticking them in a box. Maybe in 40 years, my grandkids will clean out my place and have no idea what the hell these things are, and toss them to a Goodwill.

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TV Writing Contest: The Black List (Part 8)

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It is looking more and more like a dead end. Another 21 days has past and my teleplay has still not been evaluated (I am assuming another free month of hosting is coming). The ATX festival begins in 2 1/2 weeks, and I’m sure the 10 selections have already been made. This kind of feels a bit disappointing. The rules clearly stipulated that the script needed to be up on the website for a week by April 15. I clearly made the due date, and even went ahead and paid for 2 script evaluations, but so far, I feel like I am some high plains drifter out on a long journey. I do see on future contests, they have been posting a “submit for evaluations by” date on the press releases which alleviates confusion. I wonder this is why my email to the system administrator when unanswered 5 weeks ago.

How long will I be out here? I have another screenplay in mid-draft, but as each day goes by, I find myself working on my novels more and more (I have a bunch of projects in various stages of draft). I looked up my stats today, and so far, I have 5 views of No Returns Allowed. I checked early last week and I had 3 views, so there were at least a couple clicks this week. I had gone, well, well over a month with nothing happening as the script sat in the wilderness. I try not to complain, as there is always the next opportunity.

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If I read this correctly, it is still awaiting assignment. Wow. So I don’t know. It would be ironic if the evaluations don’t get done until after the ATX festival. I don’t see any other TV submission contests as most seem to be film oriented, so I would have a couple options. First is to pull it from the site and upload it again next year. I am not sure if the evaluations would stick or not, but if rated 7 or lower, that means I should probably take it down to revise anyway. If the evaluations are great, I guess it would be worth it to keep it up for the next round. I could also make movie version, however, I would have to completely change the script. I would have to condense the pilot to 40 minutes and flip around plot points, then change the antagonist. I would essentially take the planned reveal at the end of the season and make that the second act, and then resolve it. It can be done, but it really was constructed for TV.

I do still plan to post the evaluations if they ever do come. Although I had fun writing the script and it was surprisingly easy to outline a pilot and a 5 season story arc, I do want a little feedback with it so I can learn what to improve. I’ll probably be writing a hundred scripts in the future, regardless of how this escapade turns out. Max Landis posted online that out of a 100 scripts he wrote only 3 got picked up. One of them was for like $3M, so his journey was eventually worth it financially.

PART 9

Game of Thrones: How will the Wall Fall?

game-of-thrones-the-wall-hbo.jpgThe mystical 300 mile long wall that Bran the Builder built has protected Westeros since the age of Heroes. The 700 foot high wall is blessed with magic to protect the North from the others. Now, the questions readers have been asking for 20 years and show watchers have been asking for 5 seasons is “How will it come down?” (I figured after my Hodor Theory #2 on “Hold the Door” although a slightly different scenario, I might as well speculate some more)

Over the years, I have read numerous fan theories and listened to many show discussions. For now, I will focus on show theories because this is where the momentum of the story is so far, so here are some facts:

A)The Wall is laced with magic that White Walkers can’t pass.

B)The White Walkers seem to avoid open water.

C)The Wall is manned by only a skeleton crew of the Night’s Watch.

D)Bran is still stuck in the tree learning his abilities

E)In the synopsis of the original story submitted to Martin’s agent, in A Dance With Dragons (the proposed second book), Dany was supposed to fly to Westeros with her Dothraki horde following her as she invaded Westeros. The Third book, Winds of Winter, was supposed to address the battle against the White Walkers.

Okay, so there you go. We know very little because we are not sure how much of the history is just legend and myth. My theories on how the wall falls are:

1)The White Walkers will have the zombie spawn (wights) dig holes beneath the wall. They will envelop the remnants of the Nights Watch and respawn them as wights.

2)The White Walkers will use the foretold ice spiders to weave a web to create a bridge over  the wall.

3)Winter will make the world so cold that the oceans freeze. In this scenario, two things can happen: First, Dany can lead her water-fearing Dothraki across the narrow sea so they don’t have to board ships. Second, the White Walkers could simply walk around the wall on the icebed. The new War of the Dawn would ensue, but without the First Men or Children of the Forest. The downside to this theory is that it would lead to the White Walkers attacking Winterfell first while Dany attacks King’s Landing. What would bring Dany north?

4)”Bran Theories:” There is a theory out there that the original wall was really built by giants who were being warged. There are variations that Bran was able to control weirwood trees, and the wall is just an elaboratly tangled weirwood forest covered in snow and blocks of ice. This is the god the Starks have worshipped. Plus the Children of the forest might have some extra special power of the forest. This means with Bran in the tree, he now has the power to bring it down. I argue that it makes perfect sense that if Bran the Builder helped lead the construction of the wall, Bran the Destroyer can help lead the destruction of the wall. It would be perfect symmetry. How does Bran have this power? I argue this is westerosi genetics. I think The Stark line is really a mix of White Walker, which is why they can warg living things, while White Walkers can warg dead things. This is why there will always be a Stark in Winterfell. This is like saying there will always be White Walkers in the Land of Always Winter. Imagine this, the polar opposite warging abilities is a little like yin and yang. They can’t warg each other, but can throw bodies and armies against each other. The only question I would have is can a powerful Stark warg a wight? This would explain why many passages in the crypts beneath Winterfell are blocked with rubble. It is keeping family secrets hidden.

4)Fact A is only a myth, and the White Walkers simply overpower the wall. Castle Black becomes Castle White. The new War of the Dawn would ensue. The three heads of the dragons would assault the fortification and corner them. The dragons could then melt the wall.

5)There are a couple horns that could be the Horn of Winter. One was with Mance Rayder before Stannis and his men overtook his army. The second was found as the Fist of the First Men, and given to Sam. Maybe this is why the horn is on the cover of the proposed The Winds of Winter.

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Movie Reviews: Burnt

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Burnt directed by John Wells

From the director of August: Osage County and Company Men, John Wells goes back to the well telling well, the same story. Instead of a down and out white collar executive who is cast out, and a family with a bunch of cast out characters, we have a chef who is cast out.

But don’t worry, he is on the comeback trail.

We don’t even get to see him in his former glory and see him hit rock bottom. Nope, we skip the first two acts, and go straight to Act III. We are all about positivity and redemption. Of course, the story intertwines subplots from what would have been Act I type introductions with the former friend (Omar Sy) and rival chef (Matthew Rhys), but really, there is no real antagonist in the whole film. There really isn’t any problem other than a contrived love plot with Sienna Miller (At one point, on the girl’s Birthday, Bradley Cooper brings out the cake instead of the mother … WTF?)

Bradley Cooper is pretty unlikeable as the “Yoda” type Chef. He mistreats everyone. He is self-centered. All he cares about is his reputation. I’m not sure if there is anyone he treats well the entire movie without wanting something back in return. I sensed no romantic spark between the two leads. Emma Thompson was kind of wasted in a random cameo role as a shrink. Uma Thurman has like 3 seconds of screen time as a food critic.

I don’t know what else to say. The plot was bogus as hell. It was like they needed to contrive an obstacle, because the rival chef wasn’t really providing enough at stake for Bradley Cooper, so they decided to add … drug dealers? Yeah, I know. WTF were they thinking? Just like in Rounders where Matt Damon is playing against the clock with loan sharks, Bradley Cooper is playing against drug thugs. I’m not sure this really fits with the typical chef problem, but who knows, maybe when Iron Chef America: The Documentary comes out in 2025, we’ll discover Bobby Flay was high as hell as he flayed all that fish.

But don’t worry. Brad won’t solve any of his problems. He’ll leave that for other people, so that he doesn’t have to change at all the entire film, outside of not being an asshole one night long enough in finally decided to break some bread with his coworkers.

Wow.

Do you know how you’ll look after watching this pile of shit? Just look at Bradley’s face in the poster. That is how you’ll look being cooped up watching this.

Movie Rating: 3/10 Michelin Stars

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Movie Reviews: The Big Lebowski

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The Big Lebowski directed by the Coen Brothers

This is shining example to why most professional film reviewers don’t know shit. They might be able to write about realistic acting, dialogue, and character arcs, but don’t have a clue what will truly resonate with audiences. Some have even revised their reviews in the years after The Big Lebowski after simply getting it wrong.

Box office be damned, The Big Lebowski is a fucking masterpiece.

The movie is about a Dude who is mistaken for another dude with the same name, who in turn has a trophy wife (Tara Reid before she hit full stride with the Sharknado franchise) who will do certain things for a thousand dollars. Then a kidnapping ransom case goes bad, because this is a Coen Brothers movie. Julianne Moore is an artist with the penchant for the exotic.  It all wraps up when the Dude eventually figures out the truth (or the plot kind of unfolds on him).

The story is iconic not because of the plot, but because of the characters. Jeff Bridges plays The Dude. John Goodman plays a crusty Vietnam vet. Steve Buscemi plays the sidekick. John Tuturro plays a child molester nicknamed The Jesus, who has a penchant for washing his bowling ball. Sam Elliot plays a cowboy, who narrates this western. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays another fine character role as the assistant. Then we have the German nihilists, who have the competency of the Dude, but no luck on their side. When these characters intertwine in the plot, it resulted in iconic lines and sequences that are spoken today.

“The Dude abides.”

“Mark it zero!”

“Nobody fucks with the Jesus.”

“Fuck it, Dude, let’s go bowling.”

The film is full of eccentric characters in ludicrous situations and its a movie where I pick up on new small details each time I watch it. It has become a cult classic, something you couldn’t have predicted if you relied on bullshit movie reviews from the professionals who can’t slam movies too hard (Ad revenue for site or newspaper and exclusive interviews/access) and can’t praise it too much (Don’t want to be the one who gives Flubber 4/4 stars out of the gate). Just look at their reviews and see how many are around 2-3/4 stars. To me this is basically having no opinion or passion on anything. They are reactionary creatures who seldom say what they truly think. It’s pretty hard to get invited and flown out to exclusive premiers if you slam one movie from one studio and give a perfect rating to another rival studio and both are competing for box office glory the following weekend. There are only a few major studios left, so the “professional” reviewers have to play nice.

This is why you shouldn’t trust a damn word they say. They are part of the system.

Indie reviewers are free to say whatever they want. Support us. It is far more likely to get an accurate Captain America: Civil War movie review from an indie reviewer who is also a fanboy than those working at newspapers. Click on our reviews over the professionals. We simply love movies and don’t get bribed or showered with gifts. Some movies are complete shit. Some have great special effects but horrible acting and pacing and plot. Some are a masterpiece. This is one of them.

10/10 White Russians

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Thrift Treasures (The Tom Clancy Score)

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My bibliophile hobby continues. I don’t know how many books I have at this point. I stopped cataloguing books around 7 years ago. It became no fun if I was constantly inventorying my collection. So now I just buy buy buy, but ensure I keep within a limited budget. In the old days, I use to be a decent seller on Amazon in the days before prices plummeted and before Borders went belly up. This is how I funded my old buying habits. Now, for the price of a couple hardbacks a month, I go out into the wild and pick books up a flea markets, thrift shops, garage sales, along with other things I collect. So for me, the thrill these days amount more to the hunt for treasure.

Sometimes I collect certain author’s first editions.

Sometimes I go for genre (Sci-Fi and Fantasy for me).

A bunch of books I collect just to, you know … read them.

Most of the time, there is little of value to be had. From the picture above, I bought Dan Brown’s Inferno, first edition, that is probably worth the 99 cents I paid for it. When the movie comes out this summer, I think it’ll be worth 99 cents. So many were printed that it is a little pointless collecting Dan Brown first editions. For me, since I found a first edition The Da Vinchi Code, I now have all his books in first edition. I even picked up a swanky Angel & Demons illustrated edition for $2 on the same excursion (5-6 stores). It’s worth $5-6 on ebay, so as a Dan Brown Collector, this was a decent pickup.

I found a copy of a BCE of A Time to Kill by John Grisham, printed by Wynwood Press. When Grisham wanted to become a writer, he did hard work of getting it printed by a vanity press, putting the books in the trunk of his car, and driving town to town to sell them off. To find a first edition out in the wild is pretty tough. Some newbies pick up the reformatted version after the movie came out, which isn’t rare at all (aka the green book). The BCE edition of the original fetches $20-50 on ebay over the last 8-9 years. I’ve followed this as I now have 3 in my collection.

I found two copies of Galactic Empires volume 1 and 2. I already have this set, but to me this was a nostalgic buy. For $75 cents each, I bought a set worth around $20, but to me, this anthology edited by the late Brian Aldiss holds some weight as having one of my favorite short stories of all time in included, The Star Plunderer by Poul Anderson. 

I picked up few gaming guides for my video game collection. Believe if or not, these things are pretty collectible if in good condition. I bought mine for 99 cents each. Worth $5-10 but whatever, I want it for my gaming room. I would do a video tour of it, but I need to complete it out more. It is getting harder and harder to find the really good, vintage stuff, like old nintendo games still in the box.

I bought lots of hardcover first editions in the haul in the Sci-Fi and Fantasy genre. I might have duplicates, I have no idea. Maybe I’m meet another collector nearby who will want to trade in 10-20 years. There are a couple books made into movies recently, The Fault of our Stars by John Green, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, and Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by Kim Barker (Title change from first book). Why movie books? Well, if you want to be a writer, you better learn what the hell worked from those that broke out.

The grand prize of the haul, was the Tom Clancy book. No, not Against All Enemies by the ghostwriter in small print. (Tom Clancy has been dead for a few years, so this marketing ploy is a bit strange). I’m a Clancy collector, but grow frustrated at the insistence to keep printing off his name. In any case, no, my score was finding a first edition Patriot Games autographed. It was sitting in the cart by the shelves because there were just so many unorganized book madness at that particular store.

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I have no idea if that is to Dane, or Jane, or if Bane himself went to a book signing 30 years ago. Based on the few available on ebay, it seems as though “Best Wishes” was a standard line for ol’ Tom. This is actually better than a flat sign because there is a larger sample of his signature for authentication purposes. Online, they all range from $89-150. A bunch are stalking a buy it now price of $99 for one seller, so I believe this is the value. Like all my autograph finds, I’ll be holding on to it in my lifetime, unless there is some better nostalgic trade. I have two holy grail books I want, in autograph condition. Not sure how long it will take, but I aim to get them someday.

How much were all the books, including the autographed Tom Clancy?

Around $27. How much if I went to Half Priced Books? Probably $175 (not including autographed book). How much if there was as book price collapse and I bought each for a penny on amazon? Probably $110 in shipping.

Garage sales and thrift shops remain the best port of calls for the book collector and aspiring writer.

READ ABOUT MY PINK FLOYD SCORE

Game Reviews: Techmo Bowl (NES)

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It didn’t get more real that this in 1989 in which Techmo Bowl, the first NFLPA licensed game, was released. This was around the same time I began rooting for my team, the Washington Redskins.

Except in this game, I separated loyalty from awesomeness and seldom played with them.

Out of the 12 teams, there was only two real choices in a game that offered two pass plays and two run plays each time, in which I would only use master half of them: The off-tackle run, and the all go pass.

The team I would pick would be the Chicago Bears. Why? Because it had the best player in the game, Walter Payton. He was fast as hell and could rarely be stopped. If he got out in the open, watch out because he was going to take it to the house (and make a ton of players miss) For the pass play, I would roll back and off to the side and throw a bomb down the sideline every time, without seeing the receiver at all. The game had this little highlighted flag at the edge of the screen that told you approximately where the receiver was and you had to have faith to let your players make a play.

That’s what playmakers do.

On the season mode, I would beat it pretty easily. I think I beat the game with half the teams, including the Washington Redskins just to see if I could do it.

The real rivalry, was when I played my father. He used the only team that could really rival the Bears, the Raiders. You see, if you couldn’t play Techmo Bowl with Walter Payton, you would play with Bo Jackson. He was fast a hell too.

I don’t remember the final tally of who won the most. Most of the games would come down to the final possession, or one rare interception from one of my throws … because I’m sure even my father figured out that I ran only two plays in my offensive playbook. It was essentially a 50/50 guess each time.

It was awesome and fun, and I hope to find another copy of it someday.

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