San Antonio Celebrates LGBTQ Pride 2017

It’s hard to believe that the first LGBTQ pride event held in San Antonio was only in 2004. Since then, it has evolved to what it is now with over 80 vendors, 100 parade entries, and a three-bar block party on Main Street.

I don’t want to get into an argument as to why Pride exists in the first place. We know why it does. It’s common sense and to those who argue it or see it as being something forced upon you, ignore it. Pride is not meant for you and you have most likely not endured some form of discrimination to know what we go through or have gone through as a community.

With that being said, I’ll keep this blog short and sweet. The following are reasons why I’m celebrating Pride this year. And, I ask you to celebrate with me for these reasons as well.

 

  • I’m celebrating Pride for the LGBTQ students who get bullied in school.
  • I’m celebrating Pride for the 49 victims who lost their lives in the Pulse shooting in Orlando, Florida last year.
  • I’m celebrating Pride for the 14 members of the transgender community who have been killed in 2017.
  • I’m celebrating Pride for the married LGBTQ couples who might not be entitled to spousal benefits.

 

As a community, let’s set some goals for the remainder of the year. Let us be kind to each other. Let us love one another. I believe many members of the LGBTQ need to hear this. If we stand together, we won’t have to face discrimination or homophobia alone.

Have a fun and safe Pride celebration, San Antonio!

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EMMYS 2017: What New Shows Deserve Recognition?

We’ve seen an abundance of excellent television this year and on September 17th, we will get to see which TV shows are awarded for their excellence by The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Of course, nominations will go out to the Emmy alumni of previous years such as “Veep” and “House of Cards”. Luckily, for those of us who get tired of seeing the same shows being recognized yearly, “Game of Thrones” is out of the running this year since it doesn’t premiere until August.

Freshmen shows are where the excitement is! With Hulu, Amazon, and Netflix competing with cable programming in order to gain viewers, it has become difficult to see every trendy show at a reasonable time. Here’s what could get a nomination on July 13th.

On the drama side, there’s more competition between new material. Netflix’s “Stranger Things” premiered late last year to high praise from TV critics and audiences alike and still seems to be a contender. NBC’s “This is Us” also made an impact with audiences, a rarity now for a broadcast network. Other noteworthy shows include HBO’s “Westworld”, Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”, and Netflix’s “The Crown”, which has already seen some award recognition at The Golden Globes.

As far as a television series that sticks out in the comedy side, FX’s “Atlanta” has made the biggest impact. Sadly, that’s the only freshman show that has made any noise but we’re sure to see more recognition go to returning shows such as “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”, “Veep”, “Black-ish”, and “Modern Family”.

Ryan Murphy’s debut season of “Feud: Bette and Joan” could receive some nominations this year as he follows his own trend of sticking to the Limited Series category. HBO’s “Big Little Lies” and “The Young Pope” could give it some competition, though.

What new shows are you excited to see nominated this year?

Memorial Day Weekend Sees Trend in Lackluster Films

Memorial Day weekend typically kicks off the release of the summer blockbuster film and this weekend is no exception. “Baywatch” and “Pirates of The Caribbean 5” face off for the top spot at the box office this weekend but they’re both getting terrible reviews.

Paramount’s “Baywatch”, which stars Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron, currently has a 19% on Rotten Tomatoes while Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tale” currently holds a 30%. To qualify as a good film, movies have to rate at a 60% or higher.

This might seem like an unfortunate coincidence that two big films released on the same weekend could both be bad. Audiences might give “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” another shot for number one, but “Baywatch” already has a leg up over the competition with its $1.25 million earned from its Wednesday night opening.

However, it seems like movies released on Memorial Day weekend have always been bad. According to Boxofficemojo.com, the top 10 Memorial Day weekend film releases with the highest opening grosses have been bad movies with the exception of three. “X-Men: Days of Future Past” holds a 91 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, “Fast & Furious 6” has a 69% rating, and the unspeakable “Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” has a 77% for some reason.

The films with the bad reviews include “X-Men: The Last Stand”, “The Hangover Part II”, “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”, “The Day After Tomorrow”, “Bruce Almighty”, and “X-Men: Apocalypse”. Coincidentally, 2007’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” holds the top spot for highest opening gross on Memorial Day weekend with over $139 million and it has a 45% rating. It finished with $309,404,152 at the end of its run.

So, why are Memorial Day weekend releases bad? Whether the film gets rushed, a screenplay gets butchered, or direction gets misguided, it’s safe to say that we don’t stop going to see these movies. We can only hope that the rest of the 2017 summer lineup is better.

Until then, what movies are you watching this weekend? Let me know in the comments.

Why Do You Write?

I write for a living, but that’s not why I write. I provide 14 to 16 blogs a month for my clients’ websites. The research that goes into writing these blogs can be tedious and boring. Most times, the topics are fun and educational. I go home learning about random things like TMJ pain or why it’s not so bad to plant in the summer.

After writing so much during the day, it becomes difficult to go home and want to write about what really interests me. I force myself to log in to my computer and after that, my love for writing settles in. Once I’m in the groove of it, the real answers to why I write reveal themselves.

  • I blog because it’s therapeutic, almost like writing in a diary. All my thoughts go into a computer and become real. They’re corporeal. I’m able to read back these words and reflect on them, rewrite them, and delete them if I want. If something you do makes you feel great about yourself or helps you in some way, you should do it more often.
  • I write because I aspire to be known for my writing. Like all writers, I struggle with what to write first. The list of unfinished writing projects is accumulating. No matter though, as I’m writing now and it shows promise for my future. A little discipline is all you need sometimes.
  • I write because I want to help and inspire. I’d like to help in inspiring someone to accomplish their goals in life. Stephen King inspired me to write horror. J. R. R. Tolkien inspired me to write fantasy. Joss Whedon inspired me to write for television, and Wes Craven inspired me to write for film. All four men inspired me to write!

Hopefully, this blog inspired you. Why do you write? Let me know in the comments!

He Used to be Mine

“Breakin’ up is hard to do.”

I don’t like writing about my relationships but I think breaking a record for longest relationship after having a series of one and two month flings for the last four years says something positive about my love life.

There is hope. It is possible to love again and again. I can love and I can be loved back.

Albeit only 8 months, my recent relationship has been my longest. My other longest relationship was merely half a year. Along the way, I’ve learned so much about myself: my flaws, my strengths, what makes me happy, and what I do to make my boyfriend happy as well.

I’ve compared how different I am as a single man and a man in a relationship and I realize that even though it wasn’t visible, I’ve put the relationship first many times which places my goals and aspirations second. But what do I want more? A relationship or to be successful in my career and health? Can both be accomplished at the same time?

I can only do my best. I can only take it one day at a time, live in the moment, and not worry what I’m doing right or wrong. If he thinks I’m doing something wrong in the relationship, it shouldn’t be his responsibility to change me. It should be my choice to change or improve and if I can’t do that, then he accepts me or he must move on to someone else who is doing it right. But he has every right to bring it up in the first place for a cordial discussion and not in an argument. Constant arguing isn’t normal in a relationship, no matter who says it is. And, trust should be given freely until broken.

I am not a love doctor or a therapist. Those are just my thoughts. You will love again and you will be loved again. Don’t fret.

All Writers Should Be Acting Too

The stage manager calls places. The actors, including myself, scramble to get their last pieces of costume on and touch up their makeup once more. I stand up, walk to where I’ll enter on stage, and take a deep breath. Thoughts of doubt enter my mind as I wonder if I’ll forget my lines or blocking, or if someone else will forget theirs. But I stay positive either way. Whatever happens will happen, and we will get through the show scene by scene, as perfectly as we can. The lights go down. I get ready to enter the stage but before I do I ask myself, “Why the hell am I saying these words?”

A writer tends to criticize other people’s writing in the same way artists criticize other artists. I’m no Aaron Sorkin but it’s important to go through a character analysis and even a script analysis and sit down with your director and ask why you’re character says what they say and how it should be said. A good director won’t show you how to read your lines but will explain the motivation behind it.

Ever since I began acting on stage again, I felt it has been beneficial to my writing process. I analyze the scenes I’m in and begin to see the importance of the scene and the dialogue in it. In order to become better in the craft, a writer should act in a few local theater productions for many reasons. Here’s why:

  • First, you’ll understand the courage an actor needs to be onstage. What you request of an actor to do and say onstage should be beneficial to the story and or signify a theme.
  • You’ll begin to understand emotions. Every actor goes through an emotion within each scene. What is your character feeling?
  • You’ll see the hard work that goes into memorizing lines and developing a character from the actor’s point-of-view. What you envision as the character might not be what the actor brings to life. Clarify the personality through description and dialogue, and also through the character’s “voice”.
  • “Voice” is how the character speaks. If the character is Southern, they’re likely to leave out the “g” in words ending with -ing. A writer may not realize they’re utilizing the same voice for each character. Once you’ve experienced acting, you’ll notice that each character is distinct in the way they speak and you’ll develop a different voice for each character.
  • You’ll notice if the lines sound natural. Phrasing can become a big issue in your dialogue. Reading your script aloud could assist with this issue.

Acting is also beneficial for other reasons. While acting in local theater, you meet more people and you can bring those personality traits to the characters you create. Acting also boosts your confidence and helps you to become more of an extrovert.

How has acting benefited you or your writing?

 

Oscars 2017: Who Should Win the Writing Categories?

Last Sunday, the Writers Guild of America announced the winners of the 69th Annual WGA Awards. Although based on an unproduced play, Moonlight was placed in the Original Screenplay category and beat out Hell or High Water, La La Land, Loving, and Manchester By The Sea. For Adapted Screenplay, my favorite movie of the year, Arrival, took home the prize over Deadpool, Fences, Hidden Figures, and Nocturnal Animals. These are all worthy films to be honored for their writing, but the Academy chose to shake up the writing categories a bit. For the 89th Academy Awards, Moonlight was placed in the Best Adapted Screenplay category this time and will battle Arrival on Sunday. Here’s who I’m rooting for.

For Best Adapted Screenplay, the Academy nominated Arrival, Fences, Hidden Figures, Lion, and Moonlight.

This list is comprised of better, stronger screenplays and is the tighter race. Arrival won the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Adapted Screenplay but was left off the list of nominees at the Golden Globes. Eric Heisserer, mostly known for horror films, created a new language for the film. That alone deserves an Oscar! In what is arguably the biggest twist in 2016 cinema, the story examines how we fear and hate what we don’t understand. By the end of this topical tale about language, you’ll find yourself questioning the decisions you make in life. Since Moonlight is considered an adapted screenplay now, it now battles Arrival for the win. It’s quite good but not as smart as Arrival. I appreciate seeing homosexuality addressed in an environment where it is not accepted, but we’ve seen this before in Brokeback Mountain. The other contenders in this race are strong aside from Fences, which I find to be a close copycat to the play of the same name.

Who Should Win: ARRIVAL (Eric Heisserer)

Honorable Mention: MOONLIGHT (Barry Jenkins)

For Best Original Screenplay, the Academy nominated Hell or High Water, La La Land, The Lobster, Manchester by the Sea, and 20th Century Women. 

Damien Chazelle (La La Land) tied with Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester By The Sea) for Best Original Screenplay at the Critics’ Choice Awards, but he took the sole screenplay prize at the Golden Globes. Although I praise Chazelle for creating a beautiful film, La La Land is not as great as Chazelle’s previous film, Whiplash.  It’s built so much momentum from its previous accolades that it’s the front runner to win Best Picture, but only two of those original songs are great and, although it doesn’t end happily, I didn’t leave the theater as sad as I left Moulin Rouge! or as satisfied like I did with Chicago. Manchester By The Sea has a simple plot, but is driven by strong characters. The writing is wonderful and is expressed in much of the dialogue and visible in the character arcs. The script takes the lead character (Casey Affleck) and drags him through his journey as he takes on the role of the guardian of his nephew. Best Supporting Actor nominee Lucas Hedges even deserves the Oscar over front runner Mahershala Ali (Moonlight).

Who Should Win: MANCHESTER BY THE SEA (Kenneth Lonergan)

Honorable Mention: HELL OR HIGH WATER (Taylor Sheridan)

Who would you like to see win in these categories?

5 Broken Heart Films to Watch on Valentine’s Day

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What is there to say about the romantic comedy besides the fact that it is not my favorite genre. If you ask me out to see a movie, chances are I’m choosing to watch something scary. I have a great deal of appreciation for horror films and what real-life horrors they represent. I also like Oscar-bait films, sci-fi, musicals, and many more. It just takes more than a love story to grasp my attention. When movies (especially romance films) end unhappily, I leave the theater with something more to say. Since I end up enjoying those films more, feel free to read on and view a list of my romance films that leave you with a broken heart at the end.

Titanic (1997): Now viewed as a corny guilty-pleasure, upon its release James Cameron’s Titanic was Hollywood’s biggest blockbuster and referred to as “flawlessly crafted” by film critic Roger Ebert. Deserving of all its accolades, the film teaches us that love is not defined by social class, or anything else for that matter.

Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind (2004): I must love me some Kate Winslet because here’s another film with her in it. The screenplay is beautifully written by Charlie Kaufman (Adaptation) and demonstrates what happens if we were able to erase the memories of the past. After all, it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

Edward Scissorhands (1990): Following the success of Batman, Tim Burton combined Universal classic monsters, fairy tales, and German Expressionism to create the story and character of Edward. Burton showed that not all fairy tales end happily, albeit the main theme of the film dealt with self-acceptance and tolerance.

Brokeback Mountain (2005): Brokeback is acknowledged as being the vehicle for gay cinema into the mainstream. The sexuality of the characters is controversially debatable, however the film finds two men falling in love with each other but separating and building unhappy heterosexual relationships with women. It was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards in 2006 but lost to Crash.

Moulin Rouge (2001): Take Romeo + Juliet (1996) and add song and dance. It is visually stunning and is energized by the dozens of love songs used as musical numbers. Director Baz Luhrmann creates arguably the most entertaining musical ever and ends it like a Greek tragedy.

Yes, I’ve left a lot of films off of this list and some good ones, too. Comment below and tell me some of your favorite broken heart films.

Happy National Screenwriters Day!

Today, we honor the people who started it all! It’s safe to say a movie begins with an idea, and out of that comes the screenplay. So, we celebrate our favorite movies because of the men and women who wrote them.

Here’s a list of my favorite screenwriters who have inspired me and continue to inspire me on my journey to becoming a successful screenwriter, myself:

  1. Woody Allen (Annie Hall, Match Point)
  2. Alan Ball (American Beauty)
  3. James Cameron (Aliens, Titanic)
  4. Paddy Chayefsky (Network)
  5. Damien Chazelle (La La Land, Whiplash)
  6. Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous)
  7. Eric Heisserer (Arrival, Lights Out)
  8. Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – Story by Kaufman, Michel Gondry, and Pierre Bismuth)
  9. Christopher Nolan (Memento, The Dark Knight – also written by Jonathan Nolan)
  10. M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense)

There’s many more to mention! Quentin Tarantino is amazing with dialogue in all of his films. Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane” is a masterpiece of its time. Dustin Lance Black wrote a powerful screenplay with “Milk”. And, I hope Tina Fey, Amy Schumer, and Kristen Wiig continue their screenwriting careers after the successes of “Mean Girls”, “Trainwreck”, and “Bridesmaids”, respectively.

Who are your favorite screenwriters?

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