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Terrible Podcast Screenplays


I listen to a lot of podcasts. Mostly ones that migrated from 70 Decibels (RIP) to 5by5. Back in July, The Incomparable was having a contest asking for people to submit iTunes reviews for the podcast in order to be entered in a random drawing. I didn’t have to write anything complicated at all, but I took it as a bit of a challenge, and I did.

I picked apart every in-joke, and reference, from the show and assembled it in to silly fan fiction. It was so ridiculously incomprehensible I had to submit it. As a review, it is incredibly unhelpful to people that have not listened to many, many, many episodes.

I took it up as a bit of a side project to review subsequent podcasts in a similar way, uniquely styled by the in-jokes and references, of each podcast. The Menu Bar is a podcast with it’s own premise of being in an imaginary bar, so I started there. Bionic is a podcast where they had a bit of a nutty renaissance a few months ago, and they crafted their own super villain mythos centered on technology executives.

What I did not anticipate is that both The Menu Bar, and Bionic, would try to reenact their reviews on the air within one week of each other. It was entertaining for me, to say the least.

In the episode where Myke Hurley (host of many podcasts) read the silly thing, he said that they should have screenplays submitted for a fake movie. Naturally, I couldn’t resist a challenge so I wrote 40 pages of mostly garbage just to say I’d done it. 40 pages is also not any where near the length of an actual film screenplay, but it’s 40 pages more than I probably should have written.

I did some fake ad spots for The Menu Bar again, because they were complaining about a lack of sponsors. It was just straight parody of typical spots on other networks.

I did the CMD+Space and Accidental Tech Podcast reviews next. I am not entirely satisfied with CMD+Space’s - and it seems someone at Apple isn’t either since it hasn’t posted to iTunes yet. ATP’s got a very profuse thank you from Casey Liss, the star of the fake screenplay. The premise was that he is constantly badgered about who he is, and why what he has to say matters. So I made him an action hero in a unique situation.

While at home sick yesterday, I collected all the reviews and formed a Tumblr with the entries backdated to the time of their original publication. I suppose I could have watched TV.

Last night, while I was hopped-up on generic ‘Tussin’, I wrote the review for The Prompt. Initially, it was going to be about swapping the nationalities of the hosts, since nationalism plays a major part in jokes on the podcast. Instead, I opted to go with something more like a This is Spinal Tap mockumentary, or Parks and Rec. It turned out much better than I hoped.

I eventually want to tackle Back 2 Work, but I’ll need to think on that problem for a little while. It is easy to ape Merlin’s words, but the way he thinks is almost alien (I mean that in a Nice™ way).

2013-12-11 11:38:00

Category: link

Some Context for Our Upcoming Bombing Campaign



Paul Waldman at The American Prospect points out that nearly every American president eventually bombs something. And on average, we’ve bombed another nation at least once every 40 months since 1963. “If you’re wondering why people all over the world view the United States as an arrogant bully, reserving for itself the right to rain down death from above on anyone it pleases whenever it pleases, well there you go.”

2013-08-30 20:33:46

Category: link

5by5 | Back to Work #124: The Tuesday Afternoon Version of Me


I listen to Back to Work a lot. This week, I heard Merlin talk about his ongoing jury experience. I couldn’t help but draw connections, and parallels to my own experience. I strongly encourage you to listen to his very honest feelings he’s had about the experience.

Last November, I served for a month at the Los Angeles County Superior Courthouse on Hill Street. Like Merlin, I don’t live anywhere near this particular courthouse. Unfortunately, instead of taking “Muni” I needed to drive. Instead of reading comic books, I was listening to podcasts.

Merlin managed to encapsulate my feelings on wanting to leave, but still being honest, and it makes you sound like a perfect juror. I was never, at any point, anything other than honest in that courthouse. I saw people weaseling out of jury duty and I didn’t want to be them. People say crazy things to get out of jury duty.

Even after that, I did not anticipate the intensity of the case. The lives ruined by it. My month of my life was small potatoes.

Much like Merlin is doing right now, I looked for the opportunities around me in an area of the city I rarely visited. I parked in the Walt Disney Concert Hall, which is a sight to behold as the light dances across the surface through the day. There has never been, and will never be a photo that captures that building. I went to markets, Little Tokyo for iced coffee shops and pork katsu curry, and I discovered the best lunch for your money is the Colburn School of Music’s cafeteria. I also figured out some insane surface streets through Arlington Heights (a place I didn’t know existed).



Boom. You’re welcome.

2013-06-27 23:40:00

Category: link

Proposed L.A. tax deal would help fund new Westfield mall



The Los Angeles City Council is weighing a major package of financial assistance for shopping mall developer Westfield just days after the company helped stage a black-tie gala attended by city leaders at Los Angeles International Airport.

Westfield is asking the city to help its Village at Westfield Topanga project, a west San Fernando Valley development that would house a 158-room hotel, a Costco, new office space, and an array of stores and restaurants.

The proposal, which comes up for a City Council vote Wednesday, calls for Westfield to keep up to 42% of the net new tax revenue generated by the project, or nearly $59 million over a 25-year period, according to city officials.

Meanwhile, our schools are suffering from underfunding, our public transportation is suffering from underfunding, our streets are filled with potholes, and our city’s sewage and water infrastructure are in desperate need of repairs.

But, by all means, LA City Council, give $59 million from the taxpayers to a private company to build another fucking mall, because clearly that’s in the best interests of everyone in the City of Los Angles.

2013-06-25 12:34:06

Category: link

Yahoo’s Mayer: we’re committed to monetizing Tumblr | VentureBeat





“Tumblr prides itself on being a home for brands, established and emerging, we at Yahoo are all about brands,” Mayer said on the call.

not to be too too too cynical but I know all the people I follow on Tumblr and all the people who follow me are united in one thing and one thing only: their ravenous enthusiasm for brands. “I came for the sense of a new community, one with a keen feel for the visual but with a passion for language, too,” they say, “but it’s the brands that keep me here. Sweet Christ I love brands. Let the mountains collapse into dust and the oceans all boil, but give me brands,” they cry in the night. I personally remember, as a child, pleading with my parents to let me interface with my favorite brands. And interface we did. With the brands. The glorious, glorious brands

I cried…but I’m not sure why.

Well, I don’t know about you guys, but whenever I’m on my dashboard, I just keep staring at the Radar, hoping like Hell that the next time it refreshes, it’ll have some kind of animated gif for one of those brands I’m so crazy about. 

In fact, I was just punching myself in the junk the other day and saying, “What Tumblr needs is more brands! Why aren’t there more brands on Tumblr to break up the endless stream of original content, clever memes, beautiful pictures, nostalgic photographs, links to things I care about, and that sense of community I get when I read a chain of reblogs?”

I, for one, welcome our new Yahoo brand-delivering overlords … as long as they promise to keep delivering the brands that we all came to Tumblr to be branded by in the first place.

2013-05-30 16:32:28

Category: link

The mdHatter Project

version -2.0.1

I needed to make a large table with multiple lines in a single cell and complete control over the formatting. Doing it with a WYSIWYG editor (Pages) provided some really terrible controls. It also injected all kinds of formatting that would take a significant amount of time to remove. I wanted to be able to enter it as simply as possible and looked to Markdown. Unfortunately, I found out that there are many approaches to tables for Markdown, and I didn’t like any of the methods I found. The tables they produced looked more like the ASCII art representation of a table. More importantly, none of them included allowances for multiple lines in a cell.


I liked the straight-forward examples of table formatting in HTML that I was seeing, but only in terms of structure. The tags were incredibly tedious, and it made it difficult to quickly reorder entries. The result was more legible than any of the Markdown solutions though. MultiMarkdown in particular utilizes and inscrutable series of pipes, underscores, dashes, and spaces to produce a table. It’s fine if you have a 2x3 table with cell content of mostly the same length, but if you need to put in a large amount of text in one cell and a small amount of text in the cell below it, you wind up with weird results.

|entry |entry|


This is not ideal. And, you can't have a line break <br> without killing the whole thing.

Back to HTML

As I said above, it's mostly the tags, and keeping track of the order of tags, that makes raw HTML prohibitive for large tables that are hand coded. The structure inspired me to do this:


entry _entry | _OMG ENTRY HERE _VERY IMPORTANT _entry

That's easy to type out, and it is very legible, no matter how long or short a particular cell is because it's delimited by the vertical pipe lines which represent the spots where <tr></tr>,<table border="0"></table>, and <tbody></tbody> tags will go in their proper order.

Save the Alignment for CSS

I disagree with the Markdown flavors that put allow you to control the text alignment in a cell with the number of spaces surrounding text. Text alignment should be left to CSS and whitespace shouldn't be cluttering your table, or causing you to count the number of times you're thinking about hitting the space bar. If the text alignment for a cell is so important than you should use the proper tags manually so at least you can find what you did later on.


The implementation I arrived at uses the Python Markdown module (easy_install Markdown) to facilitate the rest of the formatting in the document, line by line, and then an iterating trick to look at the lines before and after to insert the proper tokens for tables and code blocks. This isn't ideal for a number of reasons, but primarily because you lose certain formatting functions that you get through reading the whole file. For instance, [TOC] table of contents don't work when you're reading a file line by line.

2012-08-02 02:07:40

Category: text

Python Markdown Tables

Third post on this. Summary: This works, and I like the table formatting a heck of a lot better than any alternative Markdown solution I’ve come across. All non-table text is handled by Markdown (must be installed or replaced). I also got to play with trying to embed a Gist in to Tumblr which is not any fun at all.


2012-08-01 14:57:00

Category: text

Iterating on Better Markdown Tables

After my post yesterday I thought about it some more and decided, “I really do want these tables to look better without having to do CLI stuff.”

I figured out how I wanted to loop through the document and do the selective replacements I wanted and still have Markdown that was perfectly valid for parsing.

Markdown File:









The first version of the script did simple replacements if the line started with a “|” or “_” but this encapsulated the text in HTML tags so the Markdown characters would not evaluate when it was running through a Markdown package after the fact.

I looked up a Python Markdown package so that I could evaluate the Markdown characters per line and then encapsulate the line in the required HTML tags.

Keep in mind, I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts, so I am quite happy with myself for doing something anyone else can do better and faster. (let me have my moment)

Here is the code for doing the table loop:import markdown

Now I can put this python in to Automator and add it as a Service, or a Workflow and just easily deal with markdown I compose rather than manual work. There are some bugs with this Markdown library though. As I’ve iterated on this document I’ve seen issues with h1 and “ code not working.

2012-08-01 11:58:00

Category: text

Not a Fan of Markdown Tables | pyp

I have been tinkering with all kinds of stuff for formatting text for the past week. I’ve lost hours trying to stare at silly ways to parse text, to concatenate files, XML transforms with XSLT, pyp command strings, etc. It’s all been interesting, but everything seemed like hard work. I might as well just use Tumblr for unimportant gibberish and then just manually code my site that just hosts a demo reel, and resume since it’s really not anything I’m constantly iterating on.

The one useful thing that has come out of this is a pyp command to parse tables the way I want them parsed, and not the way Markdown wants them parsed. Tables in all the markdown variants are horrendous for anything more complicated than a small demo table with a couple cells and rows. None of them support line breaks either <br>

Example from MultiMardown’s docs:

|             |          Grouping           ||
First Header  | Second Header | Third Header |
 ------------ | :-----------: | -----------: |
Content       |          Long Cell        ||
Content       |   Cell    |         Cell |

New section | More | Data | And more | And more |

I think it’s a logical approach to handle the data like line-by-line, instead of creating weird ASCII art, or having to manually code <td>,<tr> and escaping. (Note: MMD, and other variants use spaces to control text alignment with in cells, but I think it just makes it harder to read the table at a glance. I kept all my text alignment in my CSS instead, it’s cleaner.)

My preference:

_Column 1 Row 1<br>Line 2
_Column 2 Row 1<br>Line 2
_Column 1 Row 2<br>Line 2
_Column 2 Row 2<br>Line 2

Run that text through this pyp string and you have a HTML string that can be placed in your markdown file, or in the final HTML file.
cat $FILE "| pyp ' p.startswith("_") or p.startswith("|") | p.replace("_", "<td>") + "</td>" | pp.delimit("|</td>")[1:80] | "<tr>" + p + "</tr>" | pp.oneline() | "<table border='0'>" + p + "</table>"'

Using a pyp command was quick & dirty for prototyping what I wanted. Ideally I will do this in a “proper” way at some point in the future.

Granted, tables aren’t the kind of thing that people are really interested in handling in Markdown to begin with.

2012-07-31 16:15:04

Category: text

My longest mix ever


Really pleased with how this one turned out. And if you like it, let Digitally Imported know that I should have a monthly slot on the Progressive channel. Kthx!

2012-02-04 16:01:34

Category: text