Sorry To Write a Book When I Was Only Required to Write a Comment

“Hey look a new comment! Oh…”

I’m just going to go ahead and start a new category for my blog posts titled “Blogging” because I seem to have been only blogging about blogging lately. This is another attempt at blogging quickly and regularly, without first starting out with a blank Word document and thinking it over to death, in hopes of freeing my mind of burden so I’ll post more often.

I enjoy looking around at other people’s blogs. I always check out the Freshly Pressed page and read the ones that stick out the most. I find I get some of my best independent journalism, funniest stories, and most interesting non-fiction from reading people’s blogs.

And when I like a post, I follow Word Press’ tips and am sure to “like” and comment on it. But when looking at the size of my multi-paragraphed comments compared to other commenter’s, I feel like an overachiever…or worse that kid everyone hates in the classroom.

I try my best to give at least one quoted line from the post and my comments on it as well as other specifics so the writer knows I really read through it and have something to say. And I like to be as positive as possible, always thanking the blogger for sharing, especially if it was a personally honest post.

I just hope people don’t get freaked out by my long-winded commenting approach. If I write a lot, it’s usually because I liked your post a lot. And from the bottom of my heart, thank you for sharing.

P.S. I love when people reply to my comments with equally long-winded notes. That just makes me feel all warm inside.

 

My First Blog Post from My Smart Phone: An Attempt to Learn How to Blog Daily

This is a blog post written and posted from my iPhone. I’m aware that this is not major news to many bloggers who probably blog on the go all the time but this is nerve wracking territory for me.

I always post from my computer. I make a word document first and proofread and all that good stuff before posting. I’m just waiting to see how many spelling errors and autocorrect fails there will be when I’m done.

Moving on, I’m taking this minuscule step out of my comfort zone because I’m trying to figure out how the hell people can blog on a daily basis without being paid to do so.

I’m an aspiring writer. I write every day in order to get better. I write different types of things though. Not always blogs. In a good month, I’m lucky to have maybe 4-5 blog posts. One or two a week is great.

But I’ve been told before that in order to have a successful blog (whatever that means) and increase traffic then you really need to blog every day. How is it possible for someone with a full time job, going to school, being an avid party animal and good time enthusiast to post a new, entertaining blog every day?

Truthfully, it’s probably not so complicated. I really should learn to trim down my thoughts and post shorter blogs. Keep my topics precise and my thoughts clearly simple.

I’d like to ask my fellow bloggers what they think. How do you maintain a rigorous blogging regime? Do you post on the go? Do you worry that what you’re posting isn’t all that meaningful or “worth” the Internet space it takes up?

Help this nervous, recreational blogger form a steady habit of daily blog injections.

Abuse of Social Media Makes for Good Entertainment: 2 Celebrities Who Stand Out Among the Rest

The internet is the modern day wild west. And just like every character in a western film owns a gun, everybody these days has a smart phone in holster linked to Twitter, Facebook, and blogging accounts. However, as westerns have shown us, not every gunslinger was a good shot and not every modern day corpulent social media cowboy hits the target.

“Sext me.”

Celebrities can be particularly annoying when stepping out of their field of expertise; whether that is film, music, science, etc, and start unloading their personalities on the world via tweets. There are those uber-cheerful celebs that ask their millions of followers “How are you today?” as if they care to read the responses of every ugly low-life on their feed. Sometimes there are even celebrities that just like to stroke the ego, via Twitter, of other celebrities so that everyone can see how cool they are, being famous together and all.

But sometimes you get those wild card celebrities that act out in social media. They use their accounts as a platform of assault on a world that doesn’t get to see them on a daily basis. Two people that use Twitter and blogging distinctly originally are author Bret Easton Ellis and pornographer James Deen.

Bret Easton Ellis is the critically acclaimed author of American Psycho and other novels, some of which have been adapted into Hollywood movies. Although Ellis has had his fair share of criticism regarding the harsh subject matter in his books, he is typically forgiven and seen as one of the greater writers of his generation.

But he seems to be less forgivable on his Twitter account with his harsh, criticizing, often explanation-lacking tweets that he tends to post manically in flurries spanning over hours at times. This barrage of opinionated messages can only be explained as a “tweet rage.”

The critical backlash for Ellis’ tweets are on display in an article from the Huffington Post titled “Why We’re Unfollowing Bret Easton Ellis” where they provide evidence of their disapproval in this section:

“Last year, he compared watching TV show Glee to “stepping in a puddle of HIV.” Last month, he said on Twitter that an actor was too openly gay to play a heterosexual character. In July he called an unpopular figure “a complete and total old-school fucking Hollywood loser.” When JD Salinger died, he tweeted “Yeah!! Thank God he’s finally dead. I’ve been waiting for this day for-fucking-ever. Party tonight!!!” Today he called David Foster Wallace (who didn’t like Easton Ellis’s work either) “the most tedious, overrated, tortured, pretentious writer of my generation.”

So much hate from such a seemingly nice guy.

This disapproval is mirrored by the New York Daily News as well. It’s easy to see why so many people are bothered by Ellis’ unapologetic assaults in under 140-characters. But I personally think he’s the most interesting account I follow.

I can’t say I agree with half the things he posts about; particularly the awful, ignorant remarks about legendary author of The Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger. I also find myself confused about his musical tastes which sometimes rival the rants of Patrick Bateman before axe-murdering someone.

And as a movie lover, I found his picks for best and most overrated films of 2012 quite skewed. His tweets state, “Most Overrated 2012: Beasts of the Southern Wild, The Master, Moonrise Kingdom, The Sessions, Looper…” and “Best 2012 movies so far: The Kid With A Bike, Magic Mike, Prometheus, Chronicle. And with reservations: Argo and The Dark Knight Rises…” I wrote about my love for Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master and it is currently my favorite film of the year. Before that Moonrise Kingdom held that distinction. And although I liked Prometheus I can hardly hold back a laugh at the argument for Magic Mike or Chronicle but maybe that’s just me being too snooty and a movie-criticizing prick.

“I hadn’t noticed.”

Either way, I think Ellis is great for using Twitter to its fullest; as a platform for someone to send their most opinionated thoughts out into the world. As a novelist, he can weave his personal opinions into his fiction but unless he writes an autobiography, those words will never be completely true to his own beliefs, but instead those of the story. Twitter allows him to cast his voice over the microphone. And even if he’s spewing vomit at the audience, he at least does it in style.

Another celebrity that uses social media with some distinct flair is James Deen with his blog. Now “celebrity” is in the eye of the audience here. Deen is certainly a star in the adult film industry but it is also true that he is leaking into mainstream society with interviews in GQ and Esquire. He’s porn’s boy next door.

James Deen is the real life Dirk Diggler, for better and worse. Deen ditched Diggler’s foray into the music industry for a leading role in a mainstream Hollywood film adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ The Canyons, starring opposite Lindsay Lohan. Am I throwing around the term “celebrity” too much if I call Lohan one as well?

Deen’s blog features a collage header of photos of himself ranging from him kissing a beer to posing alongside a porn actress with semen dripping from her chin. All of this labeled with a title and tagline that seems to sum it all up: “James Deen Blog: Boobs, Buttholes, Burritos.”

This site brings me such joy to read because it is everything I would have ever imagined a daily blog would be for a guy who gets paid to have sex with women every day of his life. Boogie Nights is one of my favorite films of all time and reading Deen’s blog is like sifting through the diary of Dirk Diggler if he were living in this decade.

His blog reads as a shining example of a generation of kids that have been typing most, if not all of their lives via texts, Facebook, Twitter, and school papers; but yet still see no use for punctuation or even capitalization.

“Hey, that’s not true about the punctuation. I’m always on time!”

His small paragraph rant-style blog posts consist of dozens of ellipses between sentences.

These posts also have such ridiculous, blatantly low brow, to the point titles as: “James Deen Lindsay Lohan Party Awesome Experience,” “Dillion Harper Vagina Tan Line Sex Bed,” and “Bondage BDSM Outdoor Rough Gangbang Sex Party.” And those are just the most recent posts. They go on and on like that.

Deen’s posts read like the disjointed stories from that cool, older kid that was held back a few years in junior high school; often mentioning a girl’s “really cool boobs” or how he “anally banged her asshole.” His words are enough to transport any adult male back to the gym locker room where we sat and giggled through a hand clasped over our mouths at smuggled dirty magazines.

Deen also seems to have zero attention span in his blog entries, which are probably typed out and posted from his phone while driving from one shoot to another around California. In one entry about a scene he was shooting, in what must be a form of flattery from Mr. Deen, he states: “i have never met christy mack before but she is pretty foxy and not too shabby at putting penises in her.” He goes on to display some serious drifting thoughts:

“i really adore asa (Akira) and want to make great things happen for her.  like build her a house or something.  i guess that is selfish because i have always wanted to build a house… maybe win the lottery?  nah, i would somehow try to get in on the winnings and get some money.  orgasms!!!!!!!!! i want to give her many many orgasms.  and hell i will throw in christy mack too.  FROM THIS MOMENT ON CHRISTY MACK IS THE PROPERTY OF ASA AKIRA.  it has been written therefore it is so.”

Deen stepped away from writing about sex for a moment in a post titled “VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE” where he used a bunch of exclamation points to urge his readers to go into the voting booths on Election Day and select “no” on Measure B, a California mandate requiring all porn performers to wear condoms. Deen was firmly against the act but later stated that he didn’t care if you voted for it as long as you made an educated decision: “therefore i believe you should make up your own decision based on whatever information is presented to you and i should have nothing to do with influencing your vote.”

Deen’s blog is very entertaining and never claims to be anything other than what it is; the diary of a young, successful adult film actor on the daily roller coaster that is his life. In short, it’s a blog about “boobs, buttholes, (and) burritos.” I can live with that.

After a year of blogging and using Twitter I sometimes find myself questioning the purpose of why I do either. My blog never really had a mission statement the way I see so many of my peers do. It’s always just been me talking about whatever I feel is interesting or necessary to write about. My Twitter is much the same; a micro blog for my opinions and a way of spreading links to my films and blog posts while trying to shout at celebrities.

Seeing two experts in their craft use Twitter and blogging to their benefit, the way Ellis and Deen have, gives me pride in where I’m going with my social media sites.

 

Chainsaw-Wielding Maniac Seeks Person of Similar Interests

October is already half way over, Halloween is steadily approaching, and yet I have not had anybody to watch a horror movie with lately. This is particularly perplexing because I love the horror genre. I’m a dedicated fan which basically means I have a ton of patience to sit through a genre strongly composed of trash in order to find the good ones.

I am fortunate, as are all horror fans, to have Netflix instant queue in my life which is crammed with enough scary movie titles to keep me up late and watching forever. I abuse this privilege multiple nights a week, toughing it through the cheesiest of plotlines sometimes in the name of fandom. (My most recent flick that I enjoyed was Ti West’s The Innkeepers, an eerie ghost story set in a closing hotel.)

But unfortunately I find myself watching my beloved genre alone the majority of the time. Gone are the days of going to Blockbuster with my brother and cousins to take a chance on a bevy of scary movies, load up on candy and soda, head home to cut out the lights, and connect with them in shared fear or snotty comments over the bad acting or lame special effects.

Nowadays, I can rarely find someone to accompany me to the newest horror flick in movie theatres. And with Halloween approaching and a movie theatre full of decent looking horror flicks (Sinister, House at the End of the Street, the upcoming Paranormal Activity installment) I find myself in desperate need of some companions.

This desire inspired me to send out this tweet: “I need friends who love horror movies and will go see them with me, no matter how crappy they may be. SINISTER being an example.” My hopes were met and I found a couple people to catch that movie with tomorrow night. But still, I wonder why it has been so difficult to find fellow horror lovers in my community of friends.

I frequent horror sites, I belong to internet discussion groups, I sometimes go to the conventions, I’ve interviewed horror filmmakers for my blog, hell I’ve even worked on horror movie sets alongside the likes of Doug Bradley aka Pinhead from Hellraiser; and yet I still have trouble finding someone to watch a scary movie with.

Consider this an open letter to anyone who doesn’t pass over the horror genre as unoriginal or hold contempt for a bad flick every now and then. This is a classified ad for anyone who has seen every installment in the Halloween franchise and knows Rob Zombie’s reboots were plainly bad.

If you like gore, mutilations, cuss words, things that go bump in the night, people in masks, ghosts, demons, witches, shaky cam found footage, chainsaws, killer klowns from outer space, and the occasional naked lady then I’d like to talk with you. Let’s watch a movie together.

“BE MY FRIEND!”

If Writing is Rewriting then I’m finally a Writer

I’ve always been a tad perplexed by the age old writing advice that “writing is rewriting.” “No great writer ever penned a masterpiece in his rough draft,” writing experts would say. This may be soothing advice for the many times I’ve completed a screenplay and while beaming with pride, I’d suddenly have my dreams of Hollywood schmoozing and houses in the hills ripped away when I read what I’d written and realized it was mostly just a heap of (insert whatever foul smelling waste you can think of here).

Although I was comforted in those lonely, depressing moments of supposed personal failure by the idea that I could always rewrite, fix the problem; the fact is that my track record shows I rarely get passed the thrill of writing a first draft, meeting the characters and learning their ways, and onto the hair-pulling, eye-gouging editing process that is required to polish a story into something worth selling.

Until now…

Friends, family, peers, fellow writers, and Hollywood execs everywhere, I’m proud to inform you that I have a rewritten feature-length screenplay on my hands. This one is different from the other attempted rewrites I’ve done in the past. This time I actually fixed what I set out to revise, added scenes where I deemed necessary, and molded existing pages into well-crafted works.

“How the hell did you do that, Greg Probst?” you might be screaming at your computer but probably not since you may not have any clue who I am. (I’m the author of this blog.)

But I’ll tell you anyway; this monumental milestone in my writing career comes after months of going back to the basics. I’d studied and read about how to plan, write, and format a screenplay for years when I was a teenager and realized I wanted to write movies. Since then I considered myself an old pro, writing away and leaving hard drives and floppy discs (yes I used those religiously when I first started writing and well after they went technologically extinct) full of over a hundred or more aborted screenplays; some with 5-10 pages, some with 30-60, others well exceeding the 120-page feature limit, all needing additional work that would never come.

So I analyzed my writing methods and even picked up the very first book I read as a 13-year-old lad to get started, Skip Press’ The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Screenwriting. I reread sections on outlining before writing, keeping a writing schedule, and tips on rewriting. So I started keeping a writing schedule and zeroed in on a few top scripts that needed work or finishing.

As of today I have one feature nearing completion and another that is successfully rewritten and being looked over for polishing. It feels like I’m a real live writer.

So what’s next for old Greg “The Writer” Probst? Probably years and years of writing and mastering the craft with hopefully some success in between.

Paul Thomas Anderson: The Master of American Cinema

 

(Minor spoiler at the end.)

Paul Thomas Anderson’s sixth feature film The Master is being hailed as a new American classic by many critics. This is not the first time the words “American classic” have been paired together in regards to Anderson’s work. Five years ago critics were saying the same thing about There Will Be Blood, Anderson’s loose adaption of the Upton Sinclair novel Oil! starring Daniel Day-Lewis.

It has become evident with Anderson’s last two films; both period pieces, both providing comments on the American man’s greed and fragmented mental state, both featuring an indisputably captivating performance by lead actors (Day-Lewis and Joaquin Phoenix), and each a standing symbol of patient filmmaking, that this writer-director has carved his place amongst not only the great filmmakers of his time but in all of American cinema.

Anderson may be best known for the 1997 picture Boogie Nights but it is clear that his ability and style transcends grandiose subject matter like the pornography industry, drug abuse, and violence (all of which are highly entertaining and showcased well in the film).

The 1999 film Magnolia really marked the day Hollywood handed Paul Thomas Anderson the key to the city; the freedom to make any film he desired and he pushed that sports car to the limit, crashed through the barricade and left the audience to watch as it engulfed in flames.

Since then Anderson has shown great versatility in his characters, storylines, and casting decisions; particularly when he showed the world that notorious goofball Adam Sandler had some serious acting chops in the one of a kind art house flick, Punch-Drunk Love.

But it was There Will Be Blood that marked a more distinct change in his filmmaking choices. This was a different film. It was slow, calculated, and mostly subdued except for a few casualties in the oil fields and bowling alleys.

The Master follows a very similar pattern. Phoenix’s portrayal of a post-WWII unhinged and impressionable drunk is a good rival for Day-Lewis’ greed-driven oil tycoon. In this film, Anderson again looks at Man with an unflinching eye. He does not cut to the most entertaining or high octane moments of a man’s life but instead zeroes in on the subtle, defining moments of a man’s character.

Anderson asks the questions of life that everyone finds themselves asking at one time. Phoenix’s character, Freddie Quell, seeks someone with all the answers and believes he finds it in Lancaster Dodd, as played brilliantly by Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Film has the inherent problem of relying on an ending; some viable closure for the story that just never happens in real life. Life keeps going. The sun always rises again even after the credits roll on a particular chapter of our lives. Anderson closes this film’s unanswerable questions beautifully.

With all its ambiguity, Freddie Quell leaves the audience with the assurance and self-actualization that there are no masters in this world but instead people, knowledgeable of personal flaws and understanding of the ability to control when necessary.

 

3,000

Today marks the day that I discovered my blog has gotten over 3,000 views after one year and two months of being birthed to the internet. I’m not sure if 3,000 views in one year is a milestone worth bragging about but I feel accomplished.

I wonder who those 3,000 people are. What percentage of them fumbled into my thoughts by mistake, searching for Patrick Bateman or Axl Rose, only to quickly close out the window, as I have done many times myself, when discovering the link is some stranger’s blog?

Just a blog.

Hopefully half, or even a quarter of those views actually poked around a bit; reading at least most of an entire post. I wonder if my thoughts were worth their time; holding any entertainment value?

3,000 views. 6,000 eyes. 48 blog posts. No defining theme amongst them except maybe sorting out my life. But who’s that interest other than me? However, with each post, a reader reads and maybe they take something away, as I do when I read other people’s blogs.

3,000. Ten times more than the Spartans of 300.

I’m thankful for the summer night last year when I started this blog with a bumbling post that had nothing to do with anything, but everything to do with kick starting the engine of this new writing outlet.

3,000 views later and the world hasn’t shifted, ocean tides have not moved as a result of my force, the stars do not shine any brighter, and my coffee doesn’t taste any sweeter. But my fingers tap! tap! away at my keyboard. And I get closer.

Put In A Good Word For Me.