Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Answer: This Post

Question: What’s a striptease without the strip, Alex?

You see that? I started this post all Jeopardy-like. I was just feeling a little like game show host Alex Trebek. You know…Canadian. I feel a sudden urge to speak only in answers…and québécois, eh.

Before we begin, let me just take this opportunity to speak out about something that has actually bothered me for quite some time: The “answers” on Jeopardy.

For those who don’t know, Jeopardy gives a series of answers to which the contestants must respond with the correct “question.” Example: Answer: “Americans drink its milk more than any other animal.” Question: “What is a cow?”

Seems pretty straightforward to me. But most of the question/answers aren’t that simple, and for good reason; the show would be incredibly lame. Also the show wouldn’t be a rallying point for the country’s intellectually snobified.

Oh, you think I’m being too hard on Jeopardy-watchers, eh? Well, let’s deconstruct the show a little and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

If I were to ask you, “what is Dublin?” You’d probably answer, “It’s the capital of Ireland.” Then I’d ask, “Why is Ireland the richest country in the world?” You’d look at me expectedly and I’d continue, “Because it’s capital (capitol) is always Dublin!” And we’d laugh! Oh what a time we’d have! Being real.

Now ask a snobby Jeopardy-watcher “what is Dublin?” They’d say something like “in the early 70s, U.S. airplanes were granted landing rights in this city northeast of Shannon.”

And all reasonable people just slowly shake their heads at the pomposity. What kind of answer is that? I didn’t ask about landing rights or geographical proximity to other large population hubs. “What is Dublin?” It’s a simple question.

“What is horseracing?”

“In 1974, of Baseball, Football and Horseracing, it’s the one that drew the largest live attendance in the United States.”


Now tell me that Jeopardy-watchers aren’t a bunch of academic show-offs!

Anyway, I can’t sit here indulging my own sense of outrage forever, I have editing to do! Which brings me to the point of this post, to tease the next LFTI video! Yeah!

So here it is:


I finished the music yesterday and I’ve been torturing the cast and crew with it since. You’ll also have the opportunity to be tortured, two weeks from today on New Music Wednesday!

Can’t wait can you?


Monday, October 27, 2008

Sweating the Details

Do you know what I really like about our show? Do you know what makes me very proud to be a part of it? Our attention to detail, and, through that, our nearly masochistic habit of giving ourselves lots of tiny challenges for each episode and short.

In pre-production for episode 8, we have already found many humorous tiny little things to add to the show that are not necessarily called out in the script. Each "tiny" little thing requires some extra work: looking for a weird prop here, constructing something from scratch there, designing a logo yonder... However, I can't really talk about episode 8 yet. I'd hate to ruin any of it for you. So let's consider something from the series of shorts we just finished up that introduce Lou.

We have a nice little back story for Lou, and though she's still quite a mystery even to us, there are some clues to her character sprinkled about. The most enlightening one of these is her briefcase.

Lou met Kate in Tori Spelling's garage. At least that's her story. We decided to assume it's true for the purposes of getting ourselves out of a logic loop. Now, Lou says verbally that she lived in Tori's garage, but what could we do to support that visually? We decided that the briefcase Lou uses should be an old one that Tori's dad, Aaron, used to use. Lou "borrowed" it from Tori, who, for all we know, is living in Aaron's old house, and the briefcase was just there on a shelf in the garage for decades.

Okay, that's a fun, simple idea. Lou has Aaron Spelling's old briefcase. Right. So here's where this one small decision creates a pile of tasks.

First, we had to find a suitable briefcase. It had to look expensive, since Aaron was rich even in the '70s, but it couldn't cost us too much. We are a no-budget show, after all. Tanya and Robb secured a fairly cheap one that looked good enough to pass for pricy. But how were we to pass it off as Aaron Spelling's briefcase? Well, obviously, it needed to be monogrammed. The initials A. S. mean nothing, so Aaron's whole name needed to be on the briefcase. How could we do that without sending the briefcase out to actually be monogrammed? Paint! We had to find just the right size and style of letters we could use to get Aaron's name just so on the case. From among several choices, we decided to use some small Garamond letter stamps from Michael's. We tested the letters with some silver paint, but the paint did not stamp well. It was gloppy and did not look good at all. Luckily, during a late afternoon trip one day to an art store, Robb and I found just what we needed: a silver-inked stamp pad! The silver stamp pad worked perfectly. We positioned the name in a place where it would most likely be seen when the briefcase was on-camera.

Okay, so the briefcase now had Aaron's name on it, but what more could we do to hint at the case's history? The answer for us was to include headshots, publicity stills, and a shooting script for the pilot of The Love Boat. Yes, Aaron was using this case during casting and pre-production of The Love Boat, but had stopped using it soon afterward. It hadn't seen any use until Lou absconded with it, perhaps only hours earlier. Fine. Sounds great. But now there was that much more to work on. I found some great photos online, one of Gavin MacLeod as Captain Stubing, and one of the whole original Love Boat cast. I also happened to have the font used for the Love Boat "title treatment" (an annoying term we use inside the industry), though I had to use an O from another font.

I put these together to create fake publicity shots. Then I created a cover page for the original Love Boat script, complete with coffee stains and such. You don't even get to see the script in the final short, but it's there, it adds heft, and when Lou starts pulling all this crap out of the case, the dimension it adds is tangible

That was all quite a bit of extra work, just for a smidge of detail. And each video we shoot has quite a few of these "little" items. One might think it's sad to put so much work into these details, and then have them never be noticed. What I think all of us agree on is that it is worth the extra work. If someone happens to be on a second or third viewing (which our marketing department assures me is quite common amongst our fan base), they might start to notice these little touches. But even if they never notice them, the atmosphere the details create works subconsciously.

And that, dear reader(s), is why I am proud to work on this show. If you like, go give "*subject to change" another viewing and pay special attention to the briefcase. Or watch any of our shows. You'll see a lot of love and time and care in each one.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Cute Puppies Galore!

We are hard at work on Episode 8 at the LFTI headquarters. But every once in awhile we need a nice break. Nothing is better than watching puppies on a webcam. Enjoy!

So, when not entertaining myself with random things online, I am busy shopping for props for our next episode. This can be highly entertaining, but I can't divulge what exactly we are shopping for as it will give to much fun stuff away about the next full ep.

I will tell you that rehearsals have been great fun. Some of our characters will be a little different for this episode and it makes rehearsals more fun than usual. Although it does not help with the horrible "giggling when I am uncomfortable" thing I do.

Now I'm off to find more stuff! I'll give you a hint, I may be looking for one of these. Or I could just be spending too much time in YouTube. I guess you'll have to wait and see!


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New Music Wednesday

That’s right, you heard the headline correctly. It’s “New Music Wednesday” here at the LFTI blog!

Thank you! You’re too kind. No, please. Take your seat. Thank you. Thank you.

Okay, are you done celebrating yet?


Now I’m starting to feel as if your overzealous adulation is just patronizing. But if you assure me it’s not…

All right, now lets get to the music! But, if I might, I’d like to elucidate on today’s musical offering in the most pretentious way possible.

Might I?

Yes, I might.

Today’s selection comes from the “hit” LFTI Short “Appreciation.” The official title is “Los Angeles Variations on Appreciation.” The name of which I have just this second christened it as a purely pretentious irony, noting that the musical theme does not actually vary during the piece.

Please take a second to start the playback, and then read the following critical analysis as intellectual accompaniment to this musical experience:

Los Angeles Variations on Appreciation: A Study.

A lone clave marks time, preamble to a subtly nuanced piece that makes use of traditional as well as non-traditional instruments. The formality of the string instruments and heartiness of the brass contradict the ukulele, vocalized “la-las” and whistling, serving as a commentary on the duplicity of Los Angeles itself.

The steady, relentless repetitive rhythm, bass and heavy horns lay a solid foundation for the more whimsical melody, invoking the monotony of LA city life that underscores the dreamlike flights of fancy of its inhabitants. Pizzicato strings rise to great heights only to do so again – with the same ending note – only four beats later, maintaining an almost cruel equilibrium. All of which is played up even more in the return to the “A” section where the plucked strings are counterpointed by falling trumpets repeating the low brass.

This ebb and flow leads to the dreamlike “B” section with virtually no perceptible build whatsoever. The melody of the chorus floats lightly above the already-established underscore before being awaken by the simple piano montuno from the opening and returning to the more familiar theme of the “A” section.

Copious use of glissando harp evokes the mystical namesakes of Los Angeles as the entire piece deconstructs to its inevitable end.

…And you have probably stopped reading this by now, haven’t you?

I don’t blame you. Did you at least listen to the tune? I hope so. I had a lot of fun working on it.

And thus concludes “New Music Wednesday.” Tune in next time when Spiderman says *mwahm*.


(I apologize for those of you who are foreign fans and did now watch the Electric Company. That last sentence probably made no sense whatsoever.)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Hell, That's Where!

The subject of this post assumes you've been asking the following question of me: "Where the hell have you been?" That is the first most commonly-asked question I've received in the last month or so. The second most commonly-asked question is, "And did you bring me back something nice?"

Really, have I been in hell? Well, no. I've been in Australia! And San Francisco! One was not hell, one was a sort of very mild hell. Very very mild hell. Mild like a yellow capsicum.

Australia was a just-over-two-week trip that I had been planning with a friend of mine for over a year. It was a fantastic time, but needless to say, I was not going to be posting LFTI news while I was in the southern hemisphere. My posts would have been all backwards because of that. Despite this fact, Australia was not hell.

As soon as I was back from Australia, I had to leap right into production on a work thing. I produce and run the audio video portions of our major gatherings, see, so I had lots and lots of meetings and plannings and goings on to deal with. Then it was off to San Fran for 9 days to hole up in a ballroom for 18 hours a day and eat room service over and over and over again. Thus was San Francisco a very mild form of a relatively pedestrian, low-rent hell.

Poor poor me!

But now, all that is behind me. My new most important project is LFTI episode 8! Though I missed some rehearsals while I was away, the couple I was at were great fun, and I think this episode is going to be much funnier than I had originally anticipated. Not that I thought it was going to be unfunny, mind you. It's always been funny. But now that we have Laura in full gear and Stephen Simon has joined us, we have a crack team of humorists ready to humorize their humorous guts out. That's something you're going to love to see, trust me!

Since I'm the one who loves to ruin all the surprises around here via lists of wacky-sounding nonsense, I may as well be the one to tell you that episode 8 has nothing to do with kittens, clay poker chips, Slip 'n' Slide, avuncular shenanigans, suspect propane regulators, brie, thumbtacks, Virgin Galactic, ceramic figurines, or capsicums.

I have to warn you, however, that thumbtacks may be involved without our knowledge. And yes, I did learn what a capsicum is while I was in Australia. The only capsicums that could potentially be involved in episode 8 is if for craft services we order pizza with peppers. Those won't end up on-camera, though, so you have nothing to worry about.

Finally, in conclusion, to summarize... No, I'm sorry. I did not bring you back something nice. I could not keep the Mövenpick from melting.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


It's a special Saturday post. How exciting!

Robb is getting ready for Laura to come over and loop her lines for the next short that will go up on Monday. Let's just say we were filming some place that made recording sound a bit of a problem (and it wasn't just the loud refrigerator in our apartment!).

I believe this is the last thing that needs to be done for the short. The credit sequence is finished and it looks amazing! I can't wait for everyone to see it, Robb really has outdone himself.

I guess that's really all that's going on around here. The new video will be up Monday - start your countdown now!


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What Wine Goes Best With Piano?

A better question for this post might be, “what piano goes best with wine?” But I thought that was a confusing headline. That’s why I didn’t use it. In retrospect, it seems that I probably made the wrong decision. But I’m determined to keep looking ahead and leave the past where it belongs. We just can’t keep living in the past.

Speaking of not living in the past, have you seen our last video? It’s called “Pairing.” It went up the Monday before last and, with the economic crises and all, is just as relevant today as it was then.

Exactly the same amount of relevance. Guaranteed!

As you, loyal reader, have already surmised, it’s the Wednesday one week after the Monday on which a video hit the internet (not convoluted, trust me, it just seems like that to you because you don’t really understand my system) and that means the it’s “New Music Wednesday!”

Hey, I like that. “New Music Wednesday.” Makes me feel like a DJ at a fancy FM station! Look for the LFTI wet tee-shirt contest coming soon, and don’t forget that the 13,653rd caller will receive tickets to a private “online only” viewing party of all 7 episodes of LFTI as well as the shorts and specials! It’ll be taking place over at YouTube or or and will be held at the winner’s discretion, all you need to enter is a computer and about 3.5 hours of free time (note: the cast and crew of LFTI are not obligated to participate)!

Anyway, let’s get to the music.

As you know, I struggled with this one quite a bit. I wanted fancy-schmancy piano music. New York style. Citified. Like all people who drink wine.

One problem: I’m not a fancy-schmancy piano player. Not even close. So what you’re about to hear required a lot of effort and some editorial magic.

So crack open a bottle of your favorite Petit Syrah and enjoy the theme from Pairing (I guess I just answered the question from the headline. Petit Syrah goes with piano. It’s not just for beets anymore!).

I’ve just finished the music for the next video and I have to say that I’m pretty happy with it. Now I just have to do justice to the end credits that I have planned!

Especially since Tanya just tweeted about how great they’re going to be. Thanks, Tanya. No pressure now!


Left out of LFTI tweets? Why not follow us? It’s fun and free. And you won’t look like such a jerk.

Oops, I shouldn’t have said that. But it’s done now. Forget the past.

Onward to the FUTURE!

**Oh, one more thing. The Distractionation Bossa has reached #28 on the Latin charts over at! Sweet! It’s an all user vote system, so I have to be happy with that! Sign up and vote if you’d like to help out.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Gettin' A Good Start On 8

It's Friday and I've actually remembered to post! That must mean the world is going to end or something.

You see, I'm the person who came up with the idea of each Producers posting once a week, that way our blog would get updated at least 3 times weekly. And now I'm the one who forgets the most often to post. Or, I actually remember, but then I'm too busy at my day job on Fridays to get anything done.

But not today! No sir! I'm even starting to write this before noon. Which is another miracle in of itself. I'm telling you people, you may want to go out and buy some bottled water or something, cause this may be a bad sign. Or a good one I guess, depends on if you like my slapped together writing style or not.

So, this week has been pretty exciting. We had our table read for Episode 8 on Wednesday, which was a ton of fun. It's always a good sign when a cast member starts laughing at the lines so hard that we have to stop and wait for her to catch her breathe and try to get through her lines without breaking. Both times we read through the scrip this happened! It was extremely amusing to watch.

So yeah, Episode 8, pretty darn funny, if I do say so myself. And I do.

We are also very excited about our guest star, Stephen Simon. He's part of the comedy team "Ten West" (if you have not seen them perform, you have no idea what you are missing out on. They are brilliant! Hi Jon!)

Mr. Simon was one of those "wouldn't it be great if we could get him" people. Lucky for us we could.

(As a side note, I am now only going to call him Mr. Simon because I have way too many Steve's, Stephen's, Steven's in my life to keep them all straight. And I'm not fond of calling people by their last name only like a football coach, I think it's because I spent a lot of my life having people holler "IHNEN" at me since my whole family was in sports and it was a hard habit for people to break seeing as how I'm the youngest.)

Um, so where was I? Oh yeah, Stephen Simon. He's pretty darn funny. And tall. And we can't wait to get this episode up and running. We haven't even started rehearsals yet!!

I guess that's all for now. I'm going to go and be overly proud of myself for not only posting today, but getting it done before my lunchtime.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Holy Crap, It’s Wednesday!

It’s my day to post here at the venerable LFTI Blog.

Since it’s not the Wednesday one week after the latest video went up, it’s not quite time to post the music from the last “episode” yet. Therefore, I’m at a loss for what to say.

I was just on Facebook replying to a college friend (and former roommate) who commented on the “what are you doing right now” message that I posted there.

Facebook, and other online “social networking” sites are big on that. “What are you doing right now?!” “What?!” “I must know!!” “The WORLD must know!!”

Does anyone really care? And is it really anyone’s business anyway?!

No. They don’t and it’s not.

But it inspired me to go ahead and tell you what I’m doing right now:

I was just on Facebook replying to a college friend (and former roommate) who commented on the “what are you doing right now” message that I posted there.

I replied with this:


A winking smiley face emoticon.

Sometimes I horrify myself. An emoticon?! There was a time that I swore up and down that I would never use an emoticon. I could simply find no reason that I ever would use one. They’re trite and stunted.

I’ve avoided other similar fads. I’ve never once told anyone to talk to my hand – or any other bodily appendage for that matter. Sure, I’ve raised the roof once or twice, but always ironically. I’ve never told a girl to “go.” I’ve never thought anything was da’ bomb or all that – with or without chips. I’ve dabbled in l33t speak, again, as a joke (and it can be kind of fun), but I swear that I was just experimenting.

I’ve never LOLed.

Not ever. (author’s note: this is not a guarantee)

I’ve never ROFLed, LMAOed, or it’s dirtier cousin LMFAO. I’ve never wondered “WTF?” or marveled “FTW?!” I’ve had to BRB a few times, but that’s just because I was being lazy.

I avoid these things like the plague. And that’s not an easy task when you spend as much time communicating online as I do. It’s a requirement of having an online sitcom. But I’ve never bowed to any of those acronyms. I don’t mind that our fans use them. Our fans kick ass and can type any way they want to. Hell, I don’t even care that anyone uses them. But I’m an old man and I refuse to use them.

What other options do I have?


The occasional emoticon. Don’t hate me. Emoticons can be marvelously effective. When nothing really needs to be said and yet you really want to say something, It can seem like the only option. They’re trite and stunted.

I’ve talked in circles. Good. Just another Wednesday.

I’m off to try and figure out what music to put under the next video. I’m listening to the Ventures at the moment, so I’m thinking maybe something like that? Who knows? It’s Ventures Christmas music. Yes, the Ventures put out Christmas music. And yes, I’m listening to Christmas music. Yes, it’s only October 1st. One thing you may or may not know about me is that I’m a freak for Christmas music. I don’t know why, but I am. I’m not ashamed of it.

Well, maybe a little.

I also have to get ready for a table read tonight! We’re having the first table read for out next episode. It’s a full-length episode too! Not another short. LFTI back in full swing! I can’t wait.

You like that? I put the pertinent LFTI info at the end of the post! And, very little of it at that!

You’re welcome.