The Brainchild of Miranda Lane

Sunday, September 16, 2012

SNL 38th Season Premier Review

The 38th season of Saturday Night Live kicked off this week with guest host Seth MacFarlane. Overall, it was a mediocre offering, with the same sorts of tired, low-risk comedy sketches like the "Sex over 50" show where the hard-of hearing producer sits in for the regular show's expert. The sketch about the studdering sergeant was a bit predictable, but well played nonetheless. However, it was aired so late in the show that many in the audience likely misses it. The show was not without it's topical references, including an appearance by Gangham Style South Korean rapper PSY, and impressions of Clint Eastwood with the RNC empty chair and the Honey Boo Boo Todlers & Tiara's duo. The best part of the show for me, however, was when Seth MacFarlane appears as swimmer Ryan Lochte at the Weekend Update Desk. It feels so weird to be dry!

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Zemandi vs iWriter

Having worked as a content provider through both Zemandiand iWriter, I have experienced both to be able to compare them fairly. Both have very similar terms, concerning how much writers get paid and how often they receive their payments. iWriter, though, has several features which make it my preferred place to go when I am looking for these types of writing assignments.

First off, Zemandi is not a scam. There is a lot of kvetching out there in the cybersphere about Zemandi. I have experienced some of the same frustrations myself, but I can say that I have always been paid for my work for them, and most of the complaints I've seen online do have policies and explanations clearly posted on Zemandi's website.

Zemandi pros

  • Writers have a default of eight hours to complete an assignment (iWriter only gives you 2 or 3 hours). You can request an extension if you need more time, as well.
  • Zemandi frequently offers bonuses during peak weeks, to incent workers to write more

    Zemandi cons

  • Writers are not able to view any of the assignment details prior to accepting it. The assignment you get could be shorter or longer than what you wanted and might not be on a topic you know much about. You pretty much get whatever is next in the queue. And if you decline the assignments too frequently, you'll have to re-qualify as a writer.

  • The only contact writers have is with support - writers are not able to get in touch with the content requestors directly, when they have questions or need clarifications. (In fact, it's not clear from the website where the clients interested in buying content through Zemandi submit their requests.)

  • As a writer, there is no clear way of tracking your rating (and thereby your rate per article). In practice, it seems the only way to earn more is to write more. To increase your earnings on Zemandi, the emphasis is on quantity, rather than quality.

    iWriter pros

  • Writers are able to view the assignment details - and approval percentage and content requestor ratings and comments left by other writers - prior to accepting an assignment. You have the ability to pick an article which is the length and topic you want.

  • You are able to contact the requester if you have questions, and you are able to rate the requester as well.

  • You can easily track your progress toward a higher rating. Higher rated writers have access to higher paying assignments. On iWriter, content requesters compete for the best writers by offering higher rates for their assignments.

    iWriter cons

  • Writers only get two or three hours to complete an assignment.

    Both Zemandi and iWriter pay via Paypal, but they will only make a payment when your account balance is at least $20. Paypal also charges you a tranaction fee every time either of these websites transfers money into your account.

    Zemandi processes payments weekly. With iWriter, you have the option to be paid weekly, bi-weekly or twice a month.

    As an aside, if you're looking to writing and other "mirco-tasks" and get Paypal payments sent to you more frequently without being charged the transaction fee, try clickworker . Note, the author receives an incentive when people sign up and earn via this link.

    The amount you earn per article on either site is comparable. Zemandi pays $2.25 for a 450 word article. iWriter offers $2.43 for a 500 word article.

    Considering that both sites allow writers to produce content for other people's websites and offer similar rates and payment terms, signing up with either can help you supplement your income by writing articles. But when you weigh the pros and cons of both Zemandi and iWriter, clearly the better overall experience for content authors is with iWriter.

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  • Sunday, April 3, 2011

    Remember when SNL only had one guest?

    On Saturday night, April 2, 2011, Elton John was scheduled to be both the guest host as well as the musical guest. It's a job not easily done and my hopes were high as the opening monologue was strong - both in terms of the writing as well as John's delivery.

    However, while John is not known for his acting, it would have been nice to see him play someone other than himself. Even when he was a character in the sketches where he appeared, that character was still loosely based on him. I really was looking forward to seeing him play it straight (pun or otherwise). Instead, Carmelo Anthony showed more range. And while it was a surprise to see the unbilled big names like Tom Hanks aboard, it did seem like he was pinch-hitting for the otherwise one-note performance of John, since Hanks appeared in a number of different sketches showcasing his comedic acting brilliance. The only true cameo of the evening, then belonged to Jake Gyllenhall, and it's a shame they didn't utilize him more. Anyone who saw Gyllenhaal on Jimmy Kimmel the other week likely laughed a lot more during that appearance than during the entire SNL episode.

    Finally, the most disappointing part of this week's SNL was the lack of screen time for the female members of the cast. Even when they had a sketch with the Queen of England, it featured Fred Armisen in drag. Maybe with a more regal Helen Mirren as the host, the ladies will get more screen time in the next offering.

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    Tuesday, March 29, 2011

    The new series "Body of Proof" premiered as a mid-season replacement on ABC in the spring of 2011. Dana Delany plays medical examiner Megan Hunt, a character who is a mix of the main characters from "House" and "The Mentalist" as a keen physician whose knack for observation helps her solve crimes. I will say that it is refershing to see a female as a lead as a smart, character-driven role in this sort of show. And if the formula hits its stride and finds an audience (like the aforementioned "House" and "The Mentalist" have), it could have several successful
    seasons. However, what you may not realize is that this network show is not being filmed in Philadelphia, despite the fact that the show is set in the city of Brotherly Love.

    "Body of Proof" is in fact filmed in Rhode Island. They started shooting in the summer of 2010, and each episode employees about 280 extras, and requires a crew of 175 - all of whom are local hires. That's great news for the people of Rhode Island, since the work is going to them. But it's not so great news for the talented cast and crew in the Philadelphia area would would have been interested and available to work on the show in the very city where the fictional events are supposed to be taking place.

    The reason they are filming in Rhode Island instead of Philadelphia? Two words: Tax credits.

    Maybe if Pennsylvania had gotten it's budget in order sooner rather than later, Philadelphia would have had a fighting chance of getting the production to call the city home. Tax credits have worked for PA in the past, but when they didn't get renewed right away, it interrupted the pipeline in the film-planning process, forcing production companies to look elsewhere.

    Philadelphia has lured several major movie productions to film in the city, most recently "Limitless" and "How Do You Know." And if you don't remember hearing about them when they were filming, it's because their working titles were "Dark Fields" and "The Untitled James L. Brooks Project" respectively.

    Films are great opportunities for local cast and crew when they are in town, but they are temporary. After a few months, the production packs up and us locals are suddenly available again for other work... like another film.

    However, with no productions slated to come to Philadelphia anytime soon, local actors might consider traveling to Pittsburgh (where the film "Perks of Being a Wallflower" starring Emma Watson is set to shoot) or New York City (which has productions of both movies and TV shows currently in production).

    TV shows have the potential to offer continuing work for cast and crew provided they get renewed for another season. When "Hack" was on-air, it lasted for three seasons from 2002- 2004, and unlike "Body of Proof", it was filmed entirely in the city of Philadelphia.

    But filming at TV series in the location the story is set is more the exception, rather than the rule. The recently canceled "Cold Case" did most of their filming in Los Angeles and Burbank, but they would bring some of the principals to Philadelphia once or twice a season to shoot some key scenes at the actual Philadelphia locations, rather than relying solely on establishing shots to make the show appear as if the story is taking place in the area. Although, don't let that fool you, either. I remember working on the show as a background player at a shoot that took place at Girard College, but the location in the storyline was supposed to be the University of Pennsylvania. So sometimes, even when the production is shooting on location, they still need to find a substitute.

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    Tuesday, August 24, 2010

    Long time, no post

    I haven't posted on this blog in quite a long time, but now I'm renewing my efforts to post more often. I signed up for clickbank today (free) and I anticipate posting some articles and reviews of some of the products (mostly e-books) they have to offer. So stay tuned!


    Monday, February 23, 2009

    The fun-to-crap ratio, or fun:crap

    For any given situation, there exists a fun:crap ratio. As there will always be crap, we eliminate the danger of division by zero which could occur should the ratio be inverted, as in crap:fun when fun = 0.

    The situation is good when the fun:crap ratio is greater than 1. Ideally, it should be 2 or more.

    When, however, the ratio is less than or equal to 1, the crap is canceling out the fun and the situation is bad.

    Saturday, January 24, 2009

    My own Dunkachinno

    I likely didn't spell that one right, but with Dunkin Donuts bringing back the Dunkachino, a blend of coffee and hot chocolate, I decided to make my own delicious concoction at home. I took some Swiss Miss Dark Chocolate Hot Chocolate mix and instead of using milk or water, I made it with fresh brewed hot coffee. Simply heavenly!