L.A. Writing Spot Review #6: Head West! Then stop at the Krispy Kreme.

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If you’re in Santa Monica and want to get some work done in a surprisingly accommodating space, head to the Krispy Kreme.  The ambiance is intentionally designed to evoke a bygone era (think later seasons Mad Men) but not in a particularly classy or thoughtful way.  The tile on the walls and the yellow/greenish color scheme has a very clinical feel to it.

What it lacks in style, though, it more than makes up in other areas for laptop slaves like me — ample seating with access to power outlets, free wifi, and, of course, a wide selection of freshly baked Krispy Kreme doughnuts — an uncommon sight in the L.A. area (and one that is largely unappreciated by the lifelong residents of surrounding Santa Monica).  This location also has a Coffee Bean counter offering most (if not all) of the Coffee Bean drink menu.

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Delicious doughnuts + Good caffeinated beverages + laptop-friendly seating = A decent place to kill some time and get some work done.

Krispy Kreme Santa Monica
1231 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90403

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L.A. Writing Spot Review #5: THE BEST WRITING SPOT YOU REFUSE TO GO TO

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A few months ago the Corner Bakery Cafe in the Beverly Connection underwent a drastic renovation — so drastic they actually moved the entire restaurant 150 feet.

The new location is surprisingly well thought out for laptop users.  The whole restaurant is lined with intimate, two-person booths, all equipped with power outlets (and there’s a bar with outlets, too).  It’s spacious enough that even during the lunch rush, seating is easy to be found.  The wi-fi is decent.  And the menu has recently been given a once-over (and much improved in my opinion).  If you’re not in the mood for a meal, the staff doesn’t mind if you just buy a drink and set-up shop either.

If you’re near the border of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, you could do a lot worse than the new Corner Bakery.  It’s one of my go-to spots now.

Anatomy of a TV Writers’ Room

449A4438One unexpected fruit of the internet: a million blogs dedicated to recapping every episode of every TV show currently on the air. Throw in all the people devoting their free time/lives to reexamining old episodes of Buffy, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Doctor Who, and you’ve got approximately 1 trillion web pages all devoted to one thing: Telling People What They Already Saw.

The AVClub, HitFix, TelevisionWithoutPity, and Entertainment Weekly — among countless other sites — have all figured out how to monetize the desperate need for TV addicts to have their opinions verified through consensus. No show is too small to be covered, no detail is too small to be obsessed over.  Thanks to the explosion of the TV echo-chamber, never before has so much attention been given to the process of making television.

And never before have so many people gotten it so wrong.

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Local L.A. Newscaster Or Porn Star?

If you’ve ever been to Los Angeles and turned on the TV at noon, 6, or 11pm, you might’ve noticed something “different” about the people delivering you the local news, sports, and weather.  Their lips are plumper. Their bods are buffer. Their boobs are much, much, larger. They frequently look like the porn version of what a local newscaster should look like.  Don’t believe me?  Here’s a quiz for you:

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A (very) brief trip down memory lane…

Just spent some time looking through old issues of the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern, a college humor magazine I wrote for way back in the day.  I created a lot of stuff for them, but for some reason I never put my name on my favorite thing of all:  Rejected Smurfs (Volume 1)

It was only here you could find such unsung heroes as…

Nothing to Live For Smurf

And the dynamic duo of…

Compulsive Masturbator Smurf

Not to mention my personal favorite…

Tinkles With His Pants Down Smurf

Why aren’t the smurfs blue, you ask? Because we couldn’t afford color ink.

Bonus (re)discovery:

My absolute favorite headline from our campus news parody issue…

Moon-Earth-Greek System

(That was written at a time when students — specifically those on the college newspaper — treated every decision by the administration, no matter how insignificant, as an assault on the school’s ever-sacred fraternities and sororities)

A Conversation Between Anne Frank and St. Peter Thanks To A Couple Mitt Romney Supporters

A lot has been said about the controversial Mormon practice of baptizing holocaust victims after they’ve died, so I won’t say anything more on the matter. I’m just going to print this “conversation” that came to me in a dream; a conversation that I think sums up the feelings of those who support the practice (and allowed me to see this issue in a much better light):

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So you want to be a podcaster…

I don’t have a podcast.  I’ve only been a guest on one a couple times.  But I listen to a lot of them, and if I have one piece of advice for would-be podcasters it’s that…

Listener fatigue is real.  You really can have “too much of a good thing.”

I know what you’re thinking:  “But Eric, podcasting is cheap and there’s no restriction on length or posting frequency, so I’ll just put as much out there as possible and let my listeners pick what they want to listen to!”

First off, if that’s what you’re saying… you’re a liar.  Every podcast of yours that isn’t getting downloaded will send you into a tizzy.  If you don’t believe me… well, just ask anyone who’s been podcasting for a while.

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How does a techie/filmmaker/magician pop the big question?

How do you surprise someone who wants to be surprised?   That’s the problem I faced proposing to my girlfriend.  If I did anything out of the ordinary, she’d be suspicious.

I knew I wanted to do it around New Year’s — which would give us enough time to have a summer wedding — but as that day grew closer, I still found myself without any good ideas.  Should I use some of my old childhood magic skills to make the ring “appear” somewhere unexpected?  Should I use some tricks I learned in film school to do it with a heartfelt video?  At the time, I was just getting into the tech consulting biz.  Should I do something high tech?

Three days before my target date (Saturday, Jan. 1st), we went out for sushi.   My eyes kept wandering onto a TV in a corner of the restaurant.  And it hit me.  I pictured us sitting down to watch a Netflix movie at home.  Mid-way through the flick, a character would get down on one knee to propose to another, and that’s when I’d get up, walk to the TV, reach into the film, and pull the ring out of the movie world and into ours.  And then I’d propose with THE RING THAT WAS JUST IN THE MOVIE.   No way she’d see that coming.

I had no idea how I’d do it exactly, but I knew it’d require a little bit of magic, a little bit of filmmaking, and a little bit of techie know-how.  As soon as I got home, I started working on the following plan:

On Saturday, when I’m at her place, we’d get a disc in the mail from Netflix.  But what disc?  It’d have to be both a movie that’d realistically be on our Netflix cue, but also something with a half-decent proposal scene.  I rented a bunch of DVDs, scanned through a bunch of movies, and settled on…


Leap Year
, starring Amy Adams.  It was a romantic comedy that came out within the last year that neither of us saw in theaters, so it could realistically be on our Netflix cue.  It had a proposal-like scene in the 1st ten minutes.  Perfect.  I’m not going to wait two hours to do this thing.  Also, Melissa always falls asleep twenty minutes into every movie we sit down to watch together.  I mean always.  I had to beat the clock.

I’d rip open the envelope, pop the disc into the DVD player, and we’d sit back to watch the movie.  Ten minutes later, Amy Adams and Adam Scott would be on the TV, dining at a super-fancy restaurant, where Amy thinks Adam is going to propose to her (Spoiler Alert:  He’s not, but Melissa doesn’t know that).  So basically, their situation is the exact opposite of ours in every way.

Adam reaches into his pocket, pulls out a small jewelry box, and places it on the table.

Amy looks down at the box and lights up.  This is the moment her character has been waiting for her entire life.

And it’s at that exact moment the DVD will start to get glitchy…

After a moment of skipping, the DVD will freeze on the image of a jewelry box on a restaurant table.

Melissa will think the DVD is scratched.  I’d say “let me take a look at it.”

Then, as I reached behind the TV to “fix” it, Melissa will see…

…my hand and arm, reaching into the movie, grabbing the jewelry box, and pulling it out into the real world.

“I found the problem,” I’d tell her.  “This isn’t for Amy Adams.  It’s for you.”

At least that was the plan.  And for the most part, that’s how it went down.  Read on to find out how I did it, what went right, and what went wrong…

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Your Unspoken Miranda Rights

Anyone who’s ever seen the first five minutes of any TV cop show knows you have the right to remain silent, right to an attorney, etc.  But those aren’t your only rights.  Here are the ones “the man” doesn’t want you to know about…

  • You have the right to unfollow your arresting officer on Twitter.
  • You have the right to talk like a pirate, even when it’s not talk like a pirate day.
  • You have the right to repeatedly remind your publicly assigned defense attorney that you probably make more money than he does.
  • If arrested for public intoxication, you have the right to use your one phone call to drunk dial an ex-girlfriend.
  • You have the right to take your own life and save the public the expense of your trial.  Especially if you’re innocent, because putting an innocent person in prison is much more expensive than a guilty one.
  • You have the right to impress the judge with your dead-on impersonation of Sandra Day O’Connor.
  • If arrested by your cop roommate, you have the right to invoke the third amendment and demand that he move out.
  • Thanks to legal pioneers Adam Horovitz, Michael Diamond, and Adam Yauch, you have the constitutional right to party.
  • You have the right to ask for a copy of your mug shot and use it on your JDate page.

And most your most important right of all…

  • If there’s a COPS crew filming your arrest, you have the right to refuse to sign the release form allowing them to show your face on TV. (Seriously, why does anyone sign those things?)