Tuesday, February 24, 2009


"Yeah, I shot a bunch of footage around the office, edited it together on my Mac. Was thinking about entering it in some festivals. Probably won't. You know, not what this is about.
-- Michael Scott, The Office


Each Oscar video's backstory is completely unique from every other effort. Oscar Sunday, which was released in 2006, was a bold step with the intent to take Oscar Party to the next level. After all, why should we celebrate film, year after year, without produce some film of our own? It was pop-relevant, it was well-executed, and it was a complete surprise to the score of people that filled the apartment at Random Run Lane.

2007 was the winter where our lives unfolded. Clara was born a mere 12 days before Oscar Party 4, which was to be a small group of cinematic soldiers that braved the snow to meet in the billiards room of Fairfax Corner. As for my partner-in-film, his hands filled up planning his proposal to his wife. As it turns out, wedding bells and baby rattles can quickly drown out the call to get back behind the camera. But thanks to a quick script, an obsession of Lost, and Jon Rogers' ability to improvise, the Oscarma Initiative was unleashed.

Last year was a departure of one of our initial rules: focus the video on the Best Picture nominees. Short of Spud and I filming ourselves busting in to area McDonalds and drinking people's milkshakes, there wasn't a whole lot of material inherently within that quintet. But it allowed us to expand production values and scope and actually act a bit. We expanded the cast (enter Julie, Katie, Clara, Nordberg, and some guy Spud works with) in addition to Rogers, and The Strike was minted. And should I ever find a way to edit it down from 17 minutes, it too will one day show up on YouTube.

Which brings us to this year.

In early December I pitched an idea to Spud, mere days before we were to see each other in Charlotte for our annual Guys Trip with Nordberg and Dave. He met the idea with acceptance and expansion. It was green-lit. However, while it was months before the release date of 22 February, all the filming for such an endeavor had to get done during the aforementioned weekend, while not completely monopolizing the time we had reserved for important things like video games and sports.

With such a premise, it was easy to write jokes. But a series of jokes does not make a film; it makes a stand-up routine. So these jokes would have to be worked into a coherent story and script emblematic of the concept I initially pitched. Three days before the weekend, I had almost shuttered the project due to work and other responsibilities. However, Spud proved to be the storyboarder we needed. And then the writing came easily.

The one thing I can say to anyone looking to make movies of their own is to expand your capability. With each new effort, you should try to expand the techniques and facets of filmmaking. For example, this year we included:
  • A dolly-shot action sequence
  • The use of lighting
  • Timely sound editing

So without much more waxing, I invite fans of The Office and Superhero Movies to collide in a little film we call "The Condo." Enjoy.

Friday, January 30, 2009

25 Random Things About Rob Harford

The current Facebook meme that has swept the Interwebs is the "25 Random Things About Me." It allows all those who choose to accept this mission in minutiae to share a quarter-century worth of facts to all those who know them online, whether it be their spouse or some kid they punched on the playground in the third grade. I have found these exercises in creativity to be good reads, as it forces people to be at their most random.

And everyone knows that Comedy's address is the Random House.

I was prepared to pen one of my own a few days ago, but than a blogging confidant wrote a counter argument to spreading popularity of this effort. I quote Rob Harford:

"This is a slight overreaction, but someone needs to say it. Why do I keep seeing these stupid "25 things about me" or "random songs on my playlist" notes all over the place on facebook lately?!?!?!Do you really find it that hard to express yourself that you need to do one of these lists?"

Harford goes on to make the case for people to tell stories, write effective arguments, and use creativity and depth. In essence, he's writing a prescription for more blogging. And while YAB has subscribed to these Points of Rob, we can still see the need for random lists such as the ones that have spread like wildfire. We live in America, Rob, and America's busy. We have little time for your old-world values like "exposition," "story development," and "paragraphs." Damn it, we need bullet points. If you don't have bullet points, then the terrorists have already won.

But as a tribute to the man who is willing to speak out against conformity, I hereby give you:

25 Random Things About Rob Harford

(note: I made up 5 of them. Let's see if you can guess which ones.)

1. His name is an acronym for Harbor Ford, an auto dealer in Englewood, FL.

2. Once played the role of "Joe Brescia" in Shawnee Group's unfinished Mafia Movie.

3. His whereabouts are perpetually unknown to Jasen Andersen.

4. Once had (and may still have) calves the size of chickens.

5. His favorite John Cusack movie is Must Love Dogs.

6. Is just waiting for the perfect moment to propose to Jennifer Love Hewitt.

7. Is a better Black Friday shopper than you will ever be.

8. Sneezes uncontrollably anytime someone says the word "Portugal."

9. Insists I'm hoarding a Hi-8 videotape of a DE camping trip.

10. Has based his Mafia innocence on the premise that he once had porn on his person.

11. Once had to adhere to a work dress code that involved a Hawaiian shirt.

12. Once ran a 110 High Hurdle Race in 14.5 seconds against Cherokee.

13. Is a nationally-ranked speed walker.

14. Has been known to bail out Chris Smith when Chris Smith offers to buy breakfast for everyone and then realizes he didn't bring his wallet.

15. Cried uncontrollably when Louie's grandmother died on the 90's cartoon "Life with Louie."

16. Drove my sister to high school every day for a year.

17. Had Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat hair.

18. Went against my advice and once was a member of Blockbuster's crappy online rental program.

19. The worst movies he has ever seen is The Fountain.

20. One of the best is Shaun of the Dead.

21. Was an extra in Starship Troopers 3: Back to the Minors.

22. Beat a man to death in Reno with a frisbee at dawn.

23. Shares a birthday with Maggie Gyllenhaal.

24. This does not make him Batman.

25. Will likely exact his revenge after he sees this.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cond-nominations 2009

You know why kids want to play on travel soccer teams? It's not the competition from neighboring townships, nor is it the bragging rights of representing your town. It has nothing to do with playing for a squad with an official name instead of a number (suck it, District 5). Travel team perks start and end with one thing: uniforms.

Upon making my first team, the Medford Warriors, at age 11, I hoped at every practice that the evening would conclude with a post-scrimmage distribution of jerseys. Going into it, I planned on doing whatever it took to get my favorite number at time: 9. Don't quite know why I was a fan of 9 - I don't remember being a huge Von Hayes or Pelle Eklund fan. But I was determined to don that digit. When the time came, I reached into the box and pulled out my 9. Was it really that easy? It certainly seemed so. You know, until I held up the shirt and saw my 9...

...was up-side down.

Since that moment, the number 6 has been my lucky number. Let's hope that the case with my 6th Annual Predictions of the Academy Award Nominations. Last year, I ended up with an average 32 out of 40. Here goes nothing...

Best Picture
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Slumdog Millionaire

Best Director
Darren Aronofsky, The Wrestler
Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon
Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight

Best Actor
Clint Eastwood, Gran Torino
Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn, Milk
Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler

Best Actress
Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky
Melissa Leo, Frozen River
Meryl Streep, Doubt

Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road

Best Supporting Actor
Josh Brolin, Milk
Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder
Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire

Best Supporting Actress
Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis, Doubt
Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Marissa Tomei, The Wrestler
Kate Winslet, The Reader

Best Original Screenplay
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
The Wrestler

Best Adapted Screenplay
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Slumdog Millionaire

Friday, January 09, 2009

Drowning in the Baby Pool

In my list of New Year's Resolutions, I have to admit that one of them begs for a a backstory:

12. Avoid any further wagers as to whether or not a friend or colleague is potentially pregnant. I'm folding my hand on that one for now.

You can stop your groveling, Number 12. For the backstory follows, in the form of an e-mail I sent to one Jasen Andersen shortly after the incident. Enjoy.


Jasen, I have a confession to make.

So at the beginning of November, I headed back to NJ for a funeral for Christina Toms' father. Much of my high school group also made said trip. As Christina is delivering her beautiful eulogy of her father, Kristen Morea (of DtK fame) teared up to the point where she had to sit down. Her husband tended to her, and after gaining the strength, she returned to the group.

En route to the burial, the topic of Kristen's self-excusal from standing arose. While Kristen's explanation was that she simply overheated (it was a tad warm in the church), one Karen Yelito opined: "Kristen's totally pregnant."

The skeptic and brother-sister rival in me immediately called Karen a heretic and explained that it was indeed what Kristen said it was - a mere moment of emotion and humidity colliding. While there have been a run of pregnancies in the Shawnee Group as of late, I felt that a mere need for some air does not automatically dictate a child in utero. Karen's response?

"Oh, you wanna bet?"

So we bet.

There's no point in betting unless you can win something you really want, so I called it: "If Kristen does not produce a child by 1 August next year, I win. You will have to buy me Wawa food and deliver it to my door in Virginia." Karen accepted. And since I was so sure of my correctness, I pretty much agreed to whatever terms she wanted. After all, it's not like I'd have a need to pay up. "If Kristen is pregnant, you need to visit me in Maryland and you must bring Jasen Andersen along." I accepted. Then Karen got greedy:

"And Liz Grimm."

"No." The bet was already final.

This week, we get an e-mail to our listserve:

So Kristen & I figured we'd follow the crowd and also let everyoneknow that Kristen is pregnant as well. She is due June 15th. Too soonto know the gender but everything is going great so far.

My immediate resply to Karen: SONOFABITCH.

Post-script: So Jasen has agreed to bail me out (with the help of Grimm) as we head to Maryland sometime in the New Year. In other news, I'm still craving Wawa.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

It's the Final Walkdown

Who names a band after a continent, anyway?

Welcome back to your place of work. Did you have a nice vacation? Lord knows I sure did. Get something good for Christmas? I know I did. Little did I know that when I asked Santa to bring me a "Massive Peter King Meltdown of Seismic Proportions," he'd come through in the clutch. I guess you can count on a jolly fat man this time of year.

Both of them.

But before we get to the results, let's rant a bit. As my Facebook status broadcasted the Monday following the season's end, "MERRY FOOTBALL CHRISTMAS," Week 17 was indeed a time for the stars to align. First and foremost, the Eagles made the playoffs because 1) they steamrolled the damn Dallas Cowboys, the 2) Houston Texans hosted an improbably victory over the Bears, and 3) the Oakland Raiders (?!?) went to (!?!) Tampa Bay and won (!!!), thereby sending Philly to the postseason. What's more - the Redskins lost to end 8-8 and the Dolphins defeated the Jets at the Meadowlands to send the Patriots unfairly home for January. Talk about a Christmas miracle.

The day following, Peter King let me down. Again.

After all, his favorite topics all backfired on that fateful Sunday: Brett Favre proved yet again that closing one's eyes and throwing deep rarely wins football games, the Patriots off-season speculation as to the rehab of Thomas Brady, and Peyton Manning played a series and then sat the rest of the game against the Titans. And somehow, King focuses his attention on how Rod Marinelli's a good guy.

But what is overlooked in all this is the fact that in a week in which the Predictorate AVERAGED a 12-4 week, Peter King goes 9-7. Hey everybody, here's a massive 3-game gift to close out your season. And boy did it help turn the tide.

Week 17 Podium
Everyone's a winner this week, but especially Greg Winsky, who went 14-2. Just like Charlie Manuel, this guy knows how to finish. Going 13-3? Just about everyone else.

Did I mentioned PK went 9-7?

Hey, We Dethroned the King!

  1. JOSH STOCK (173-82) +11 over PK, -2 under 2007 -- Despite being 2 games off his 2007 mark, Stock took control of the top spot in Week 12 and never looked back. How can someone so good at picking winner not understand how to work the e-mail? Congrats, Josh. E-mail me your address for your wicked sweet prize.
  2. ROB HARFORD (171-84) +9 over PK, punted in 2007 -- In his e-mails to me, Harford was always one to question the Vegas spreads and explain rationally how Sin City is trying to drive him mentally insane. Rob was a Top 5 stalwart all year and clearly the Mayor of Blogtown.
  3. CHRIS CONDON (170-85) +8 over PK, +3 over 2007 -- Vindicated. Way to get your bronze on.
  4. ALEX PYKE (168-87) +6 over PK, +19 over 2007 -- An improvement of nearly 20 games? Maybe you should have a child every football season, Pyke.
  5. KATIE CONDON (167-88) +5 over PK, -14 under 2007 -- Who new picking favorites and home teams in close games could yield consistently stellar results? Also, Nordberg thinks she's a witch.
  6. (5th) MIKE NORDBERG (167-88), +5 over PK, +3 over 2007 -- Nordbergs do their best when picking a week in advance when going on vacation with limited internet access. I guess Mike vacations a hell of a lot more than Chris.
  7. (5th) LIZ ARSENAULT (167-88) +5 over PK, +1 over 2007 -- With every pick sheet, Liz is always kind enough to wish me well or ask how things are. For 17 weeks, I ignored her in the name of statistical tabulation. To which I now replay: I am well, Liz. Thanks for asking!
  8. STEWART ROBINETTE (166-89) +4 over PK, +1 over 2007 -- No man has perfected the "My Out-of-Office Message is Up, but I'm totally sitting at my desk waiting for this week's Pick Sheet" better than Mr. Robinette
  9. (8th) KRISTIN FISCHER (166-89) +4 over PK, -1 under 2007 -- Kristin always emails her picks to her husband via carbon copy when submitting. It's like she's taunting him.
  10. STEVE PHILLIPS (165-90) +3 over PK, +6 over 2007 -- And what's more - he won our Condon Fantasy League this year. Welcome to the Club, Commish.
  11. JIM CONDON (164-91) +2 over PK, Rookie -- Jim checks in at 11 as the highest ranked rookie of the year. He's our Matt Ryan, you know, if Matt Ryan lived in upstate New York and looked frightenly similar to my father.
  12. JON ROGERS (164-91) +2 over PK, +13 over 2007 -- Don't Mess with Texas.
  13. ROB THOMPSON (163-92) +1 over PK, Rookie -- Thanks to the Chargers Sunday night win vs. Denver, you came out on top. Congrats.

Here lies PETER KING at 162-93. Since Peter King follows professional football for a living, and you, well, don't, we give the tie to the Predictorate. This allows us to welcome these two into our Winner's Circle.:

T-14. JACQUES ARSENAULT (162-93), EVEN, +1 over 2007 and DAVE REIF (162-93), EVEN, Rookie

As for the rest of the field:

  • JOHN CONDON (161-94), -1 under PK, +5 over 2007
  • JASEN ANDERSEN (160-95) -2 under PK, -3 under 2007
  • GREG WINSKY (160-95) -2 under PK, Rookie
  • JEFF COLLINS (159-96) -3 under PK, -7 under 2007
  • DAN ENTWISTLE (158-97) -4 under PK, Rookie
  • TIM FISCHER (158-97) -4 under PK, -4 under 2007
  • DAN JENKINS (158-97) -4 under PK, Rookie
  • NORDBERG (157-98) -5 under PK, Rookie
  • MARK RITTER (157-98) -5 under PK, +1 over 2007
  • SPUD MELLOR (157-98) -5 under PK, -4 under 2007
  • KRISTEN MOREA (156-99) -6 under PK, -14 under 2007
  • MATTIAS CARO (156-99) -6 under PK, -7 under 2007
  • CHRIS SMITH (151-104) -11 under PK, Rookie
  • BROOKE JENKINS (149-106) -13 under PK, Rookie
  • JOE DUNKLEMAN (147-108) -15 under PK, Rookie


Congrats to the two-headed monster of Time Zone Rebellion, defeating Blogtown by 3.5 games. I guess it pays to have your score count 50% when you're in first place. Raquette Ballers placed third, followed by Hello McFly and DC United (tie), First Wives Club, Disciples of Chris, 36th and Asbury, Manhattan Transfer, Heels of Tar, and Renegade FC.

Congrats on a great season, and we'll see you all next year. I'll be in contact with our winners.