Archives section working, sort of

The Archives link, which has been broken ever since switching hosts, is now un-broken — which is not to say fixed.

In its previous incarnation, the Archives section could be sorted by category and date, in a variation on the familiar Sortable Nicer Archives kludge for WP. However, the database gods must have been angered, for all supplication cannot coax them to offer up their insight. Translation: something got broken, and damned if I can fix it.

So in the spirit of Something is better than Nothing, a click on the Archives section will show you every article in the system, from most recent to oldest. It’s not very user-friendly, but the Googlebots will love it.

The Show by Category buttons, incidentally, still work great. So that’s a better choice if you’re interested in reading just the Q and A’s, for example.

Random slowdowns and non-existence

geek alertA heads up for readers who occasionally get gibberish or worse when visiting it’s not just you. The front page occasionally takes forever to load, or fails completely. I’d be tearing my hair out, but I keep it very short (a “1” on the clippers, thank you very much).

For once, I’m glad to report it has nothing to do with WordPress or my questionable coding skills. Rather, there are some load issues on the server that hosts the site. Hopefully, we’ll have things running better within the week. Until then, please check back later if you have trouble getting to the site.

Introducing off-screen characters

questionmark Ok, I have a question. Opening scene, no characters introduced yet and I’m starting close on a pair of hands with a short dialogue over. We then widen to the characters that are speaking.

Since all we see are hands, would you designate any of the dialogue as (O.S.) or is that just too much of a “duh” situation? If yes, would you designate both of the characters or just the one we see no part of? Example…


A PAIR OF ROUGH HANDS open a fresh pack of cigarettes.


Can I get one of those?


Do I look like I like to share?

JULES, 64 and confined to his bed, removes his oxygen tube and puts the unlit cigarette to his mouth. Blah, blah, blah, grabs a lighter, blah.

Share your wisdom, oh great one.

– Doug
New Orleans

The way you’re doing it is fine. I might be a bit more specific in the last line:

As the hands lift a cigarette to the man’s lips, we REVEAL:

JULES, 64 and confined to his bed. He pulls off his oxygen tube. Flicks open a lighter.

To Do: Destroy the world

So far, I’ve worked on one movie in which the Earth is destroyed. In Titan A.E., a mysterious alien race called the Drej show up one day and blow up the Earth because…

…well, I don’t actually remember the motive. Plot wasn’t the strongest aspect of that movie.

What’s important is this: aliens did it. So if scientifically-minded viewers questioned the physics of how exactly the Earth was obliterated, I could simply point to the semi-transparent Drej and say, “With their superior technology, far beyond anything we can imagine!”

It’s a lucky thing that Titan A.E. had villainous aliens, because it turns out that destroying the Earth is extraordinarily difficult. With this site, Sam Hughes examines 18 possible methods for “geocide” — a terrific word that you just don’t get to use very often. His conclusion? Aspiring supervillains need to be patient, or very lucky, because mere mega-wealth won’t guarantee you the chance to smash the Earth to smithereens.

Keep in mind that Sam focuses strictly on physically destroying the planet. Merely making it uninhabitable is several orders of magnitude easier — and we’re already well on our way!

(Via Cruel.)

Google cheat sheet

Everyone knows how to Google, but there are some special functions that can really help when you need specific information on, say, atheist penguins. (Yes, that was my attempt at a Google Whack. No, it didn’t work.)

Google has a great cheat sheet with hints for finding just what you need. If you have a few minutes to kill, it’s worth taking a look and trying out some of the less-common helper-terms. In particular, I find the info: and site: delimiters useful.

Good discussion on end credits

The Artful Writer currently has a vigorous dicussion about end credits for contributing writers that many readers may find interesting.

Here’s the situation. Currently in American movies, screenwriters are listed in the opening credits, with the wording “Written by,” “Screenplay by.” or “Story by.” (Check here for what these terms mean.) These screen credits are meant to denote the “author” of the script. In cases where there are multiple writers, arbitration is often involved to determine who should receive what credit — if any.

Under the current system, a writer who’s spent several months working on a given film may find her name is nowhere on the final product. Is that reasonable, considering the guy who drove the catering truck is listed? (Before you send angry emails: yes, catering’s important, and so are drivers. But they don’t shape the movie you see on screen.)

For years, there’s been discussion about including a list of contributing writers in the end scroll — writers who may not have done enough work to receive real writing credit, but nevertheless contributed. Personally, I like the idea, but I certainly understand other writers’ objections. Does it diminish the perceived authorship of the front-credit writer(s)? Possibly. On the whole, is it worth it? In my opinion, yes.

You can find a range of other opinions here.