Back when we announced FDX Reader, I got a lot of emails asking, 'When are you going to make a screenwriting app?” Answer: Today. My hope is that we just made a thousand. Fountain turns every text editor into a screenwriting app.
This means flexibility. This means genuine collaboration - people in geographically different locations can edit the same Google Doc at the same time. This means I can write a screenplay on my phone.
This means I don't really have any excuse not to write any more.
One of the unfortunate effects of living in another country for almost five years is that you have to almost completely rebuild your knowledge of your home city. Specifically, I find that I need to find out where the best bars and restaurants are (because, honestly, there's only so much Crackbird a man can handle).
I guess it's just a fundamental problem with crowdsourcing. Rather than helping the cream rise to the top, the noise generated by these sites actively drowns out useful information, making them useless. Even large sites like Amazon suffer from the same problem. I recently tried to buy a wireless access point for work. I checked out a few tech blogs and read reviews of some products. I finally settled on a Cisco product and went to Amazon to order it. Despite the almost entirely favorable reviews I'd read, the access point had only two and a half stars on Amazon. Turns out this was based on two reviews, the first of which was a one-star review with the person saying he'd had a problem with the technical support for another Cisco product. The other review was from Cisco themselves, giving the product five stars. The text of their 'review' was "if you have an issue with a product, please email us at $blah". Both reviews were useless and, if I'd been basing my purchase on the overall score of the product, I would have walked away.
More useful than the hours I've spent trawling Yelp and Menupages has been the one post I put up on Facebook, asking my friends where they'd recommend for places to eat. This way, I've immediately got context for each one of the places that have been recommended - this friend has impeccable taste, so I'll try their recommendation first etc. It's a similar reason why I trust Brian Lam's The Wire Cutter over the countless aggregation sites, or anything that relies on the average score of a large group of people to recommend technology. A sufficiently well-curated site run by a single person can still trump the wider internet.
I use nvAlt (synced with SimpleNote) all over the place, from storing little code snippets to keeping track of ideas and lists over time. Brett Terpstra has come up with a great idea for linking notes with individual people in your address book. Love this.
I was saying to my missus on Saturday about how I was really sad that I was living away from Ireland for the entirely lifespan of the Lighthouse Cinema in Smithfield. Now it's Monday and they're announcing that it's being re-opened!
So let's see if I can use my new power for good: I am also really sad that Rubicon and Terriers were cancelled.
I really like Kat Dennings as an actress and was really happy to hear she had landed the lead in a sitcom. But holy shit, 2 Broke Girls is unwatchable. I think they only hired an actual Asian to play the Asian character because they couldn't hire Mickey Rooney from Breakfast at Tiffany's.
I've been cycling in and out of town almost every day since July. A half-hour in, against the wind. A half hour back, uphill almost the whole way. My entire attitude towards cycling has changed. It's not just simple transport any more. It's war. War against myself. War against taxi drivers. War against Dublin weather.
Rule #9 / If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.
Fair-weather riding is a luxury reserved for Sunday afternoons and wide boulevards. Those who ride in foul weather – be it cold, wet, or inordinately hot – are members of a special club of riders who, on the morning of a big ride, pull back the curtain to check the weather and, upon seeing rain falling from the skies, allow a wry smile to spread across their face. This is a rider who loves the work.
I cycled through 'monster rain', down a road where a previously-underground river suddenly became an overground river. Cycling in rain doesn't bother me any more. With a change of clothes and a radiator, you can cycle through anything.
I also love Rule 12 - "The correct number of bikes to own is n+1."
While the minimum number of bikes one should own is three, the correct number is n+1, where n is the number of bikes currently owned. This equation may also be re-written as s-1, where s is the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your partner.
Although, in my case, you could replace the word "bikes" in the previous paragraph with "board games".
Speaking of Alien, Mubi is hosting a fantastic assessment of all the little things that make that film so great. Love this line: "Even the design concept behind Saul Bass’ (uncredited) opening titles transforms the viewer’s initial perceptions of something seemingly benign into an understanding of a thing that is concretely threatening."
In a recent interview with The Nerdist podcast, J.J. Abrams (who, incidentally, comes across as an incredibly friendly and yet completely joyless person) suggested that cinemas wouldn't suffer the same level of decline as traditional book and record shops. His reasoning? He reckons the experience of going to the cinema can't be properly reproduced, even by the most tricked-out and elaborate TV and surround-sound setups. For him, the collective experience of watching a film in the dark with a group of strangers is so singular that it will always have a place in our lives.
I'm not sure I buy it. This year alone, I had two wildly differing experiences at the cinema that make me question what he's saying.
First, there was Rise of the Planet of the Apes. At the dramatic high-point point of the movie, the moment at which -- spoiler alert! -- an ape speaks for the first time, the audience started tittering. This is supposed to be a powerful scene, but let's face it: it's a fucking ape talking, so it's also a little silly. I don't really blame the audience for laughing. At the same time, this didn't stop it from completely breaking the illusion and tearing me out of the film. It made me feel stupid for having been so caught up in the movie that I was fully buying it before the laughter made me realise I was invested in a fucking ape talking. If I'm honest, I still resent that audience for doing that to me. If I had been watching it at home, I'd probably have fonder memories of that film.
A few weeks later, I went along to Melancholia, an incredibly powerful movie that I still haven't fully processed, even months after seeing it. For the most part, this is a small, personal film. It's a glimpse at someone suffering from depression. The film feels so voyeuristic that projecting it twenty feet tall seems sort of wrong. Maybe that's also part of the 'message' of that film (haven't worked this out yet - like I said, still processing it). But the film is book-ended by beautiful shots that completely justify being shown on a huge screen, and where the soundtrack deserves an amazing sound-system. The bombastic final shot deserves to be experienced as part of an audience, as people start looking around at each other, slightly dazed and giving each other a full-on Keanu "Whoa". For me, the ending makes me incredibly happy, almost boastful, that I saw that film in the cinema. No matter what way you cut it, it just wouldn't have been the same at home. In fact, I think the whole film will be less powerful outside of the cinema.
These are the outliers, though; the most extreme examples of my recent experiences of watching a film with an audience. But for most people, the average cinema-going experience -- and I'd question how 'average' J.J. Abrams' cinema-going experiences are these days -- ranges from 'dreadful' to 'OH MY FUCKING CHRIST, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!'. Talking, rustling, texting, irresponsible parenting: all of these things appear to be accepted, almost expected parts of a trip to the cinema. As much a cost of entry as the extortionate ticket price. I'd argue that this is one of the main reasons cinema attendance is down 20% compared to last year. People are staying home to watch their movies.
Let's face facts. Part of the reason for the decline of high-street book and music shops, particularly the larger franchise-type shops, is that the experience of using these shops became so impersonal and unfriendly -- in some cases, downright hostile -- towards the customers, that people were willing to trade the tangible benefits of the traditional shopping experience for one they can control. Online shopping is often impersonal and unfriendly (although rarely hostile), but it at least has the added benefit of being convenient. What it lacks in humanity, it makes up for in choice. And price. With cinema, we're seeing the same thing - people are willing to sacrifice the singular experience of seeing a film with an audience for a slightly more mundane experience they control.
I have spent an embarrassing amount of time and almost crippled myself trying to contort my fingers into a shape that sounds like a passable version of the first chord of A Hard Day's Night. Couldn't figure it out. Randy Bachman has the answer, and it's beautiful.