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So... People who know me, know that am a big Superman fan. Have been for a long time. I'm not a blind fan. The Man of Steel and I have had our ups and downs, but for the most part, I've been able to defend or explain away most of the things that people don't understand about him.

Of course I, like many, found SUPERMAN RETURNS to be rather repellant (though not at first). But for the most part, I take Superman as whole (at least from my lifetime) and enjoy his escapades.

Now DC Comics has announced that they're going to reboot the Last Son of Krypton. I don't have a problem with that. Honestly, to date, my definitive Superman is the John Byrne reboot of 1986. I also like Geoff Johns' take in SUPERMAN: SECRET ORIGIN.

What I DON'T like is when you take Superman's already tenuous hold on believability and loosen it even more. This is hard for me because I, like most, haven't read the new take yet (as it is not out for a few more months) and so I am only speaking for what I'm seeing.

The biggest and most glaring problem for me is the new costume. FINE, he starts out in jeans and a t-shirt. Not many people make the leap right to tights, so I get that. Fine. HOWEVER, at the Superman panel at San Diego Comic Con, Superman editor Matt Idelson was reported as saying that it's possible for Superman to be hurt and thus he needs armor.

ARMOR??? REALLY??? What is he, Iron Man? Let's take a sec to look at Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man... In the film, his most portable armor had to be carried around in a briefcase. "Well, that's because it was full of tech," you say. Well then let's look at Batman's armor in the Nolan films. Not exactly inconspicuous, no?

What am I getting at, you ask? Remembering that for quick changes, Superman generally keeps his costume on under his clothes, HOW EXACTLY IS HE GOING TO HIDE ARMOR UNDER HIS CLOTHES?

One of my main concerns with SUPERMAN RETURNS as far as the costume was concerned was the "S". It was a raised piece of hard rubber (which one could assume was supposed to be made out of anything). ANYONE who has tried to wear a Superman shirt, let alone a whole costume, under a suit knows that it's hard to hide when it's just fabric. Make it raised and people are SERIOUSLY going to notice.

The appeal of a form-fitting costume under clothes is that it doesn't bulk you up too much, and so Superman could still get away with stooping over to look like a weaker Clark Kent. Put a suit of armor on underneath (recalling now the relative size of the Batman armor from the Nolan films) and he's going to look like a freakshow.

Which brings me back to the title of this note. One of the hardest things to explain about Superman's costume is where his boots go when he's Clark. Does he really wear bigger shoes over them or does he fold them up and put them in a pocket? I mean there is really no good explanation. Bigger shoes would make him look like he had clown feet. For Halloween when I did both Clark and Superman, I wore rubber overshoes over the boots, but they wouldn't fool anyone. Now, we're trying to assume that you could fit body armor under clothes?

"But Jason," you say... "isn't his armor from Krypton too and therefore made of some super-space-age-thin as fabric-armor?"

Incoming Superman writer Grant Morrison said that the cape was the only thing he had from Krypton, which would lead us to believe the rest was manufactured here somewhere. I don't even know how they're going to explain how he got that, but that's a cart-before-the-horse kinda situation.

The point is, I honestly wonder if this was truly a preemptive strike to tie in to a new look for his costume for the upcoming MAN OF STEEL film. If that's the case, why bother? Comic books have never gone out of their way to tie in perfectly to the film versions because the film versions don't deal with canon anyway, so what does it matter?

One last question from the audience...

"Jason, with all that's happening in the world and all the things that take up people's time... did you really just waste precious moments of your life writing and even thinking about Superman's costume?"

Yeah, I did. And for no other reason than because Superman is an institution. He's been around for 73 years now. And he's been very much a part of my life for all 34 years of it. As a child he was a huge inspiration for me. If there was a fictional character I'd like to meet, let alone be, the most... it would be him. He is recognized the world over (yes, in real life) instantly. That's how important he is on a global scale.

People have wrongly pegged him as the world's oldest boy scout... they say he's tired as a character... and they say he's got the corniest costume around. To that I have three things to say:

1) He's just trying to do what's right with what he has. He's trying to lead by example. That's a hard road to take, but in the best of stories, he is not perfect.
2) He's as tired as the writers who craft his stories. Think Joel Schumacher who famously said about the Batman films that 'it's a comic book... it doesn't have to make sense.' If you go into the character seeing just a guy who can juggle planets (which he can't) or a guy who can turn back time (which he hasn't been able to do for 25 years) or a guy who can do anything (which he can't) you've defeated yourself before you've even started. Write for Superman because you like him. Otherwise, stay out of it.
3) THIS has been said many times, but bears repeating. Christopher Reeve MADE that costume look good. He wore EXACTLY what Superman wore in the comics. No padding, no armor, no rubber shields.

He wore it with equal parts pride and modesty. And it COMPLETELY worked. He looked much better in that than poor Brandon Routh looked in that horror that they put him in. Sure, people mock the underwear on the outside, but if you really want to pick it apart, there CAN be a reason for that... But that is a rant for another time.

I'm worried about the good folks at DC. They are the caretakers of the dreams of young comic readers. They're trying very hard to turn the business around, and sometimes that means making large-scale creative changes in an attempt to bring your readership back. Reboots can be good and can be VERY necessary to keep characters relevant. But remember that the world you're crafting needs to work for your readers, or they won't come back anyway.

I ADMIT that I won't have all my answers until the story comes out... but if this is any indication of the web they plan to weave... I may just need to come to terms with the fact that this is once again... The Death of Superman
11th-Sep-2010 10:41 pm - A Really Good Film
For the first time I am watching (500) DAYS OF SUMMER and I appreciate it VERY much.  It's amazing to watch a film that is so evocative.  Some of it is the writing... and a lot of it is the combination of acting and direction.  I have always enjoyed watching Zooey Deschanel, but here she shines in her ability to play with the camera in the exact way that girl plays with you when you're in love.  The way she looks at the camera is just the beginning.  Her interaction with Joseph Gordon-Levitt is equally as pure.

The writing feels just as crisp.  Watching the two of them having those same conversations you have when you're getting to know someone... seeing her enraptured as she tries to see the world the way he does.  Marc Webb's genius direction showing Tom's expectations vs reality when going to the party was incredible and nothing short of perfectly executed.  Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber wrote a wonderfully nuanced screenplay which expresses so clearly the feelings that someone has when they are in love.
Most importantly, unlike certain films that have too much fluff, this film ultimately captures something I truly came to understand when I was younger and still believe to this day... That regardless of how long they are there or who they are... people enter your life for a reason and will have some kind of effect on you.  That's why we see people.  That's why we interact with them.  That's why they are there.

And while sometimes they aren't there for the reason you think, wish or believe, it doesn't make your life any less rich for their being there.
15th-May-2010 10:02 am - A NOTE ON FANDOM...
I watch a few TV shows.  I have my favorites like House M.D., Bones, Lie To Me, Chuck, Human Target, 30 Rock and Smallville.  The season is coming to an end, and last night was the season finale of Smallville.  Was it the best thing I had ever seen?  No.  Was it good?  Yes.

Why?  As everyone knows, I am a Superman fan and Smallville is clearly not any sort of canonized representation of the Superman mythos, so why do I like the show?  Simply because I came to terms with that very fact two years ago.  This is not *the definitive story of Superman* because looking throughout history THERE IS NO DEFINITIVE STORY OF SUPERMAN.  A) He's a fictional character which means there really aren't a great number of FACTS when dealing with a character's backstory and B) as long as they stay relatively close to how you would expect the character to behave, it's really not that bad.

Believe me, I am a HUGE Superman fan, and I actually stopped watching Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman when it was originally on because it sucked so badly.  Smallville is trying too hard for me to give up on it.  Smallville has also  tried to do what no other non-animated medium has ever done before, which is to actually try to encompass the universe that surrounds a comic book character.  It's a herculean task which has seen varying degrees of success.

I'm a bit off-track here, so let's get back to what made me want to write all this in the first place:

It was a 9-minute rant from a woman named speechless1021:

You can find it here:

I'm not sure what exactly possessed me to sit through her 9-minute rambling.  Maybe I simply had nothing better to do.  I have millions of synapses that are rather upset with me for having done that.  But it was a bit of an eye-opening glance inside the minds of some fans.

I'm not just a fan of shows, I am a fan of TV as a medium.  Growing up, even before I knew what I wanted to do with my life, I loved TV.  So much so, that I spent a lot of time learning about how it works as a process and even a little as a business.  I sometimes forget that most fans can't be bothered to care about stuff like that and so they get really upset about things that really don't make sense.  Some of it obvious, some not so much.

What our friend Speechless1021 here needs to do, is calm down.  Aside from the fact that she's getting VERY heated about a show, she needs to get her facts straight.  She believes that the term "season finale" implies closure.  Unless I'm truly mistaken, it implies the season is ending.  A TV season is a block of episodes which are the show's run for a year (not a calendar year, but a TV year).  These can vary in length.  The finale, is the last episode of the year, but is not the last episode of a story.  There is no rule that says it has to be.  Not only has Smallville made a habit of having cliffhangers in its season finales for its entire run, but other shows have done so as well.  And the assertion that we have to wait "God knows how long" for the conclusion?  Ummm... it's called 3-4 months.  I think you can wait.

Next, if a show really upsets you THIS much, stop watching.  Seriously.  You can do it.  Just pretend the show went off the air (which it will do eventually anyway).

Also, the show is called Smallville.  It's not called Superman.  It's the story of how he becomes Superman.  That's what it has always been.  By definition, the show will end when he becomes Superman.  So I'm sorry if you're upset that there wasn't enough Superman in this episode, but really?  Also, let's not forget that Tom Welling has been cited many times as saying he will NEVER put that suit on.  Maybe he'll change his mind, but I wouldn't hold my breath, nor would I blame him.

I also want to address the lovely bit in which Speechless1021 says "Writers, you really need to listen to the fans here.  We are the reason why this show is still on.  You know, the few that watch it.  You're ruining it."  Let me just come out and say without any kind of pretense, "NO THEY DON'T."  Writers don't actually NEED to listen to a single thing the fans say.  Why?  Because the purpose of a business like doing a show is to make MORE fans, not necessarily to simply please the ones you have.  Everyone has a favorite character.  Some people are BIG Chloe fans.  Some LOVE Clark.  Others think Lois is "the bee's knees."  Still others wish Ollie would get his own show (that doesn't take place in the water).  You can't please all these people simultaneously.  It just can't happen.  Also, in a perfectly constructed fan world, a show would become stagnate.  There would be little change, little drama, little strife.  The status quo would be maintained.  Lest we forget that the writers crafted the universe that you are such a fan of to begin with.  Trust that they will make it right.  If they do, you will be happy.  If they don't see the bit I wrote earlier about not watching.  It's an easy choice.

To be clear, it can be helpful for writers to listen to the fans, but it is in no way NECESSARY.

The writers of this episode, for better or worse, have crafted a number of dangling threads for next season.  I do agree it could have been longer, but they tied up this season and set up some stuff to figure out for the next season.  My personal hope is that they do not take the Steven Moffat route and create stuff with no idea how it will play out.

But to Speechless1021, I only have this to say:  Calm down.  It's a TV show.  You're entitled to your opinion, as everyone is.  But remember that not everything is done for you and that maybe out of all this we will find stronger characters down the road, and maybe the show that roped you in in the first place will still find a way to keep you for another year.

2nd-Jan-2010 11:19 pm - THE END OF A TIMELY ERA
Yellow Alert
It's been a long time since I've had something to write about really.

Something that has gripped me in such a way that I felt the need to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). Funny that what should bring me here is the 4th series finale to DOCTOR WHO.

Brace yourself because there be small spoilers ahead and some rather distinct opinions.

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13th-Oct-2009 01:12 pm - I KNEW IT!!! I JUST KNEW IT!

It's one of the things I hated MOST about Star Trek TNG-ENT... The technobabble was ultimately useless and specifically designed to just advance the story without actually having the story hinge upon it in a meaningful way. Granted, this wasn't ALWAYS the case, but it certainly was more times than not.

It goes back to my old litmus test... Watch STAR TREK: GENERATIONS. Specifically the first 5 minutes. In it, James Doohan, as Scotty, is given a littany of treknobabble to say. It sounds so weird coming out of him not because he was having trouble with it, but because we're not used to hearing him get that much into the weeds technologically.

If you read the book, THE MAKING OF STAR TREK, there was as specific memo out to the writing staff on this very topic. The example that they gave was Mr. Spock and the ship's sensors. The writers were told that when Spock scans for something, it is only necessary to say that he is using 'the ship's sensors' or that he is running a 'sensor scan'. It is not necessary in any way to relate what kind of scan it is or what kind of equipment he's using because it doesn't matter to the audience. The implied bit here is that it is understood that the action is specifically relevant and necessary to the story and not being used as a plot device or Deus Ex Machina, which seemed to me to be the way treknology was used from TNG onward.

And when it wasn't used as such, it was used as filler because there wasn't going on enough in the episode to make it interesting.

Of course this is simply my opinion... your mileage may vary.
12th-Aug-2009 10:19 am - A STRANGE THOUGHT...
Yellow Alert
So I'm sitting on the train this morning watching episodes from Season 5 of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, when a strange thing happens.

For once, JUST ONCE in my unusual existence I begin to think like a Hollywood studio executive, and the thought shakes me out of me peaceful watching and sends chills up my spine.

As you may or may not know, the producers of BUFFY are planning to make a new movie based on the character without the participation of Joss Whedon or any of the cast of the program, nor any of the characters other than Buffy herself.

As I sat watching the show, I was reminded of the tight writing with snappy dialogue and excellent story that made the show such a complete pleasure to watch. Despite being engrossed by the narrative, my mind began to wander, pondering the question of who Hollywood would get to try to fill Joss' shoes.

A name tore through my cerebrum blazing a white hot trail past my imagination and into the dreaded scary bits of my brain.

That name... Diablo Cody.

Let me be clear on this. I liked JUNO. A lot. Until I saw DISASTER MOVIE and realized that the writing in the film (which is easily parodied) was actually going to become really annoying really fast on subsequent viewings (to be clear, I have only watched JUNO three times, once since seeing DISASTER MOVIE).

Next up for Ms. Cody is JENNIFER'S BODY... a film that comes closer to BUFFY in sensibility, and I can see the Hollywood mogul brains churning. "She can do this... Hell, she's ALREADY done this in two parts, let's just merge them together."

I honestly don't know if Diablo Cody could do it. A good part of me thinks that maybe she could grab all the bits together. She can write a strong female character, she can write snappy dialogue (though she'd have to tone it down a bit -- don't OVERDO it), and if this new movie comes out, she could conceivably writer horror.

So the truth is I don't know what's really frightening me. The possibility of Diablo Cody being tapped to write BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER or the fact that I tapped into the Hollywood mentality. Eh.
There really isn't anything quite like the feeling you get when a song comes on, everyone starts cheering, dancing and singing along, and you seem to be the only one who has never heard the song before.
22nd-May-2009 01:13 pm - CUE TO ABOUT 1:55 IN
And prepare to laugh until it hurts...

7th-May-2009 10:58 am - I DO NOT <3 STAR TREK!!!!
I guess...

I mean saying that you love STAR TREK or even that you're a fan is a dangerous thing to declare. Or at least it has been for the last 43 years. Now it seems that the high and mighty JJ Abrams looks to turn around 43 years of bad feelings with his multi-million dollar opus. Can he succeed? GOD I hope so.

You see, being a TREKKIE comes in shades, though few people outside the fandom can tell the difference. For most people, a TREKKIE is someone who is socially awkward, lives in their parent's basement, wears funny clothes while speaking made-up languages and making weird hand gestures, who has more fun peppering their conversations with obscure quotes than any real substance, and who lives primarily in a fantasy world, possibly unable to grasp the concept that their beloved canon is just a TV show.

Boy, when you say it out loud like that, it sounds pretty horrible. How or why would people choose to live like that?

The fact of the matter is that STAR TREK fandom does have people like that. But that doesn't speak for all of us. And while we're on the subject, why is that so bad anyway?

I am not now nor have I ever been a sports fan. And yet I can hear people spouting out statistics on athletes from decades ago. People have FANTASY sports games... Are you kidding?!?! Now we're just fantasizing about what these players could do?!?! And sometimes we're making MONEY off of it?!? STAR TREK fans are not generally allowed to make money off of FanFic, FYI.

And what about that special brand of sports fan who puts on body paint to go cheer on his/her team? They must CERTAINLY be well-adjusted. And why is it everyone from kids to the elderly can walk around in a sports jersey or hat or with some other kind of paraphenalia and it's considered cool... But a STAR TREK fan who wears even just a pin is subject to ridicule? At least MOST STAR TREK fans aren't walking around in uniform (though it has been known to happen) on a DAILY BASIS. After all, it's really all just clothes, right?

I like STAR TREK. It's been in my consciousness for as long as I've been alive. I don't go out of my way to memorize the lines or anything, but I have picked up quite a few, merely out of repetition. I have a lot of collectibles and merchandise because:
A) I think a lot of it is just pretty cool and helps stimulate the imagination and sense of wonder... And
B) because I am still a kid at heart.

I don't generally go to conventions, mostly because I can't be with people who take it MORE seriously than I do. They're good people, mostly, and well-educated, mostly, but they either talk well out of my depth (intellectually) or they start talking too passionately about trivial bits that are too inane for words (i.e. Which starship has the most efficient warp core design -- true story).

For a lot of the hardcore fans, I feel like this movie is going to be very hit or miss. TREKKIES can be a very touchy lot. The uproar over the promotional use of the phrase "THIS IS NOT YOUR FATHER'S STAR TREK" is a prime example. A good grouping of fans went nuts over this turn or phrase.

I got it. Let's be honest for a second here. I have been and always will be a fan of the original STAR TREK. However, I'm not blind to the paper mache monsters, reused sets and props, and occasionally ill-conceived plot devices. Besides which, it was a TV show which, at the time, didn't even know it had canon to honor and so was occasionally all over the place. Point being, while we can romanticize it all we want, it wasn't perfect. And with all that came after it, it did become a bit insular and rather hokey. I think it's a fair enough assessment. The franchise had lost what made it special.

"THIS IS NOT YOUR FATHER'S STAR TREK" was nothing more than an invitation to those MANY who found it inaccessible. And yet fans leapt at this as an attack.

Maybe they're onto something... After all most involved have some kind of gripe with STAR TREK. They weren't fans... Never watched the show...

How could these people possibly know what makes STAR TREK great?!?

Because the things that make STAR TREK great are universal concepts. Good storytelling and relatable characters are only part of it. So are humor, action and drama. And of course STAR TREK's ability to shine a mirror at ourselves and allow us to see ourselves in a different light -- the hallmark of truly good fiction.

These are the essence of what makes STAR TREK great.

The TREKKIES who have come out against this new film (without having seen it) are the most hypocritical of the bunch.

Aside from the obvious (that STAR TREK's concept of IDIC -- Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations -- teaches to embrace the differences and preaches tolerance) look at the history of STAR TREK which is all about change. When THE NEXT GENERATION debuted, TREKKIES everywhere sighed that the show would fail because nothing and no one could replace their beloved Kirk and Co.

But not only did it win over some fans and convert some others to becoming EXCLUSIVELY TNG fans, it was even able to wrangle in a new generation of fans who hadn't seen and didn't care for the original series that started it all.

And then DEEP SPACE NINE came about, forgetting the concept of a harmonious crew, embracing war and winning the hearts of even more fans.

VOYAGER tried to bring STAR TREK to it's exploration roots and sense of new. To some it succeeded, but to others it was still a far cry from TOS.

And then ENTERPRISE came in with a premise it never quite lived up to and an execution that was slightly off the mark, but like the Little Train That Could, it garnered it's own audience despite being the first show since the original to suffer the cruel fate of cancellation.

But STAR TREK comes in many forms. It always has and always will. From the fans who write of the sexual exploits of Kirk WITH Spock to the writers of the novels (including William "Kirk" Shatner himself), everyone has their own take.

Heck, this post itself is an evolving work, thanks in no small part to the complexity of STAR TREK.

And that's my point. STAR TREK has always been far more complex than anyone really suspected. And maybe that's been the problem all along. What JJ Abrams hopes to do is wipe the slate clean and turn off all that ancillary noise so that people can hear the true messages that STAR TREK has been trying to tell since that fateful night in September 1966.

I may not like the look of the new props, I may find the uniforms unnecessarily busy, I may find the proportions of the new ship a bit off... but all of that is just minutae. The fact of the matter is, when all is said and done, if this film follows in the spirit of the original STAR TREK, that's what should matter most to me. And if people who NEVER saw STAR TREK before (let alone liked it) finally see the things that we the fans have seen after all these years... Isn't that the true value in what Mr. Abrams is doing?

Maybe once... Just once... For the BRIEFEST of moments... It might be safe to say I <3 STAR TREK again. And maybe... you will too.

If not? IDIC.
22nd-Apr-2009 01:09 pm - DOCTORIN' THE TARDIS

Last year I picked up the Doctor Who TARDIS playset from Character Options. It's a great piece that I can't speak highly enough of. It's the kind of playset I wished I had as a kid. And according to Peter Davison, the playset looks EXACTLY like the actual set does (with the exception of the missing walls and cardboard floors).

I've never been particularly good at enterprise model making. I could assemble kits pretty well, but as far as creating something unique, I was usually pretty bad at it.

Then I saw MatthewRex's pictures at whona.realtvboard.com

In a posting there, http://whona.realtvboard.com/models-and-modifications-f9/matthewrex-s-customised-tardis-playset-t1478.htm, he showed off pictures of his customized console room and detailed some of the steps he used to get there. Using his list, I slowly decided to get to work on mine. If I could get mine to look a tenth as good as his, I'd be thrilled.

I've got to say... It turned out so much better than I could have imagined!

Pics after the cutCollapse )
22nd-Apr-2009 11:01 am - TIME TO FORGIVE AND FORGET?
You know, lately more than ever I've been surrounded by people buying Apple products. A co-worker is switching from his iPod Touch to the full iPhone and a friend who has a media player like mine (the now extinct Creative Zen Vision W) has gone to the dark side, purchasing an iPod Touch to replace her now dead Creative.

All this has served to make me evaluate my long-standing mistrust of all things Apple. Some believe this should be an easy process. I'll explain why it isn't, first by giving my history with computers, and hopefully my credentials in this matter.

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15th-Mar-2009 06:37 pm - PRE-SPRING CLEANING
You know, this whole Daylight Savings thing hasn't gotten any easier to get used to with age. This year has been especially bad with my inability to go to sleep at my normal time and my even greater inability to wake up when my 3 alarms go off (yes, I said 3. And one of them requires that I actually get out of bed to turn it off, which I do, and then promptly fall back onto my bed and pass right out.)

One of the actual benefits of this year's torturous changeover is that all of a sudden I have felt the urge to clean. Maybe it's the usual Spring Cleaning bug that people get, I don't know. But suddenly I have taken this extra time that I have when I get home and poured it into straightening up this place I call home. I think I'm also doing it in an attempt to tucker myself out, but that is another story.

I've taken the time to throw out all the little bits of trash that I have accumulated in the months since I last decided to do anything even approaching this. I've made a concerted effort to clear out the living room and make it habitable again. I've pushed in-the-way items to out-of-the-way corners and decided on homes for things that previously had none. One thing that has become clear is that the place could use a dusting, but I don't think I'm quite there yet. For now, it's nice enough that my place is actually presentable again. That I could have company, if I so desired.

I think the whole thing was driven home a week ago when a Maintenance person came to my apartment for a surprise inspection of my leak. While he was here, he looked around and asked, "You're still moving in, huh?" I sheepishly told him that I'd been here for two and a half years. I've always had boxes lying around, but this was the first time that the state of my place led someone to believe I had just moved in. It was time to do something and do it fast.

After 2 days and 7 nights, the place is really coming together. I've hit that point, as you do when you're packing as well, where there's a bunch of little stuff that needs to be taken care of, and I don't know what to do with it all (and trash is not an immediate option, thank you very much!)

But here's to livability and the promise of more livability to come!
28th-Jan-2009 07:07 am - *SIGH*
After over 16,000 views and a tremendous number of wonderful comments, YouTube took it down.

So using the miracle of modern technology, I present it here in what meager format I can.

My video... SUPERMEN!

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

Six years in the making... This is my tribute to all those who made us believe a man can fly. Special thanks to http://theages.superman.ws for putting up my original audio all those years ago...
16th-Jan-2009 10:31 am - THIS IS HYSTERICAL
To me, anyway...

Found this through the good folks at io9.com

Star Wars: Retold (by someone who hasn't seen it) from Joe Nicolosi on Vimeo.
5th-Jan-2009 08:51 pm - TO DAYS GONE BY...
Yahoo Close-up
You know, I was never really a huge fan of school. To be totally honest, the best part of it for me was always seeing my friends. For the most part, I'd like to think I'm not alone and that most people felt the same.

Success in school was dependent on doing the work. Some people can handle a large workload, some cannot. There are those who find the work engaging and want to do it, and there are those that do not.

I just bumped into an episode of a show called "renegadepress.com"
which is a Canadian show that takes place in high school. The episode surrounded the stress of finals week. I remember what that was like. And the show hit all the salient points that parents and teachers go over with their children. Stuff that makes me wonder if I would be a good parent.

Questions like:

1) Why don't you just do the work?
2) Don't you want to get into a good college?

The fun part about this, from my perspective, is that working hard and going to a good college is a goal worth aspiring to in a meritocracy. We don't live in one. Doubt me? Check out the list of celebs on TMZ on a daily basis and you'll see what I mean. Stupid people can luck into success in this country.

But let's move past that for a second. Here's another tidbit, and the one that concerns me the most.

School is only PARTIALLY about learning. The emphasis for success is put too much on the FACTS that you learn. School (at least public-wise) is not about that.

It's about training you to survive the work day. To coexist with other people. It helps you to socialize, and helps you to circumnavigate the workplace, in a sometimes equally-intense setting.

It's also about finding out what you are good at, and what you have an interest in. Unfortunately, because it's all mandatory anyway, you wind up getting punished for not being interested in everything that the classes cover. This is part of where the system fails the kids.

Another part comes from turning our children into slaves to the system. They're already feeling the anxieties that we as workforce drones feel, at such a young age. No wonder growing up isn't what it should be... You always believed that you'd grow up and that things would get better, but it's really just more of the same.

You think that once you leave school, you can do what you want, but the pressure continues.

This sounds much more fatalistic than I mean it to, but the fact remains. School really doesn't serve the purpose which I believe it should... and that is to help you find your path in this world, and not to place upon your soul a heavy burden from which there may be no resolve.

Just a thought
25th-Dec-2008 08:13 pm - A SEMBLANCE OF NORMALCY

So last week, as I'm sure you're aware by now, I was catching up on watching prior seasons of HOUSE M.D.  It's not that I hadn't seen them before... It's just like revisiting an old friend.  One thing that struck me in watching one of the episodes, was a shot of Foreman sitting in his dining room eating a meal that he had presumably prepared himself.

Upon watching that, I couldn't remember the last time I had done something like that.  I mean, sure I had made food, but it was mostly pre-prepared food (i.e. microwavable or out of a can.)  Hell, the closest I had come to cooking in months was throwing some Hot Dogs in a pan or boiling the pasta for some Mac and Cheese.

It's not exactly that I don't like to cook, it simply boils down to a lack of time and a lack of any kind of kitchen space to do anything truly tasty in.

This past week has been about rectifying that, ever-so-slightly.  This past weekend was about breakfasts.  Saturday was Taco Sauce Eggs (sounds less tasty than it is, though it's one of my personal favorites) and Sunday was my experimental phase with Egg Nog Eggs (made with ChipWich Egg Nog -- one of the TASTIEST combinations I have ever put together).

Today was about making some Tuna Salad.  Again, not terribly extravagant, but compared to just eating out of a can, this was the high life.  I made some tuna sandwiches on toasted bread and I was in heaven.  I felt human.  I felt like a person.

Not eating like a normal person for a while will do that to you.  You don't necessarily feel disgusting, but you feel disconnected from food.  It becomes a means to an end.  You ingest the food to survive and while you may enjoy the taste of what you're eating, you're also painfully aware that there was no love in the preparation of the food.  No caring and no soul.  Contrary to popular belief, all these things are real and quite palatable.

When you sit down to eat a meal, be it prepared by your own hand, or more enjoyably by the hand of another, it's an experience to be treasured.  You can taste the seasoning and care put into each morsel.

So for the first time in months, I sat down and prepared every meal I ate today.  If it was the mixing of the hot chocolate, the preparing of the Jell-O, the mixing and crafting of the tuna salad for the sandwiches, or the mixing of the Ovaltine, everything I have ingested today required more than just popping open a container.

It's the closest I've had to culinary normalcy in many months (at home, at least), and I couldn't think of a better Christmas gift to myself. 

Merry Christmas everyone.

22nd-Dec-2008 01:32 pm - NOT-SO-COMPLETE COMPLETE SCORES
Yellow Alert
So i just sat down to listen to the newly-released expanded scores to the INDIANA JONES films.  And while there is plenty of music that was previously unavailable (many of which I have been waiting for all this time), there is STILL one piece of music that remains elusive.

The gentleman behind this re-release is Mike Matessino, who did us all an INCREDIBLE justice by releasing the complete scores to the SUPERMAN films, something we had been waiting for for too long.  With such an incredible attention to detail paid to the earlier release, it makes me wonder why this new set is lacking (albeit for me, it's one piece of music, in my opinion it's a rather important one).

The piece in question is part of the end theme to INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE.  As presented o the score, the piece starts with Indy dangling off the ledge, reaching for the grail, with his father convincing him to let it go.  The music follows the action as Indy and company race out of the hall to watch the cave in behind them.  They then mount their horses and ride off into the end credits.  The difference between this and the music as it appeared in the film is that in the film, there was a rousing restatement of the RAIDERS MARCH as they rode through the canyon and out into the sunset.  It's a more heroic version (if that's possible) of the main hero theme and one which beautifully matches this ride into the sunset. 

On the soundtrack score, the lead-in to this bit is the same, but then just rolls back into the standard beginning of the RAIDERS MARCH which then follows the end credit montage through the themes of the film.

It's disappointing not to hear the music as it was heard in the film.  For many of us, that's what made us fall in love with the music in the first place.  And while it's EXTREMELY important to hear the source music as it was composed and intended, in some cases it's EQUALLY important to hear it as we remember it.  To trigger those emotional queues that give us our connections to the music and to the movie.

I applaud the efforts of Mike Matessino and those like him who strive to give us the music that we cherish so much.  And I know that it's impossible to make everyone happy.  But for this one listener, while this was money well spent, I can't say that I truly got my money's worth.
18th-Dec-2008 09:37 pm(no subject)
Red Alert


LOS ANGELES, CA (December 18, 2008) – Actress Majel Barrett Roddenberry, beloved star of sci-fi phenomenon Star Trek passed away early this morning surrounded by family and friends. Roddenberry was 76 years old. She began her acting career in the 1950's with roles in such popular shows as "Leave it to Beaver," "Bonanza" and "The Lucy Show; but it was her numerous roles in the legendary Star Trek franchise that fans came to know and love her. Roddenberry had featured roles in almost every Star Trek television and film entity and became an iconic figure within the fan community. Her roles included Nurse Chapel in Star Trek: The Original Series, Lwaxana Troi in Star Trek: The Next Generation and the voice of the USS Enterprise computer in almost every incarnation of the series. However, it was the love affair between her and the late Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry that earned her the title "The First Lady of Star Trek." Over the course of their more then quarter-century love affair, she became not only Gene's partner, but also his creative muse. Roddenberry helped Gene expand the Star Trek universe and was an integral part of its continued legacy after his death.  Majel recently completed reprising her role as the voice of the USS Enterprise for J.J. Abrams' new Star Trek film.

Roddenberry succumbed to a short battle with Leukemia at 12:27 AM on December 18 in her Bel-Air home. She passed away peacefully, surrounded by her son Rod Roddenberry and family friends. She is survived by her only son Eugene "Rod" Roddenberry Jr. The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in her name to the CARE Organization or Precious Paws both of which share Roddenberry's love for animals and dedication to animal rescue.

Precious Paws
18034 Ventura Blvd., #430
Encino, CA 91316
(818) 304-5595

P.O. Box 56631
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
(818) 685-9980

Funeral details are pending and a public memorial will be scheduled sometime after Christmas or in early 2009.

16th-Dec-2008 12:25 pm - WHAT THE BLOODY HELL?!?!?
Fox orders musical scripted series
NEW YORK (AP) -- The Fox network is making a musical comedy, a somewhat unusual project for prime-time television.
Fox said Tuesday it had ordered 13 episodes of "Glee," a scripted series about a high school teacher trying to transform a glee club into a national power. The characters include a diva-in-training, a nerdy soprano and a quarterback who tries to stay cool while singing. At least three musical numbers will be performed in each show.
Sound familiar? The success of the movie franchise "High School Musical" proved youngsters don't consider musicals an anachronism. Fox said the new series will appear sometime in 2009.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

I'm sorry, but did COP ROCK teach us nothing?!?!?

So... I was just watching an episode of the TV show "House M.D." when the following two pieces of dialogue were uttered:

House (to Foreman, stopping him from writing on the board): Sorry... There's a reason it's called the 'white board'."

Seconds later...

Foreman (to House): Now give me that BLACK marker..."

Ok, so without context, it seems a bit weird, but forget the context. There was a racially-charged exchange. In the so-called perfect world that people would want us to live in, Foreman would have left the room after the first volley, gone to HR and complained that he was being harassed. He didn't. Anyone know why? I'm going to say that it's because he really didn't take any offense to it. He knows that House is a jerk and chalks it up to that.

This is not to say that there is no way in which House could have insulted Foreman to the point that it would get to him, but the fact of the matter is that Foreman's skin is too tough to let something like that get to him. He knows the situation and has sized up the fact that there was no threat. Likewise, he diffused the situation.

Funnily enough, I think this is an example of everyday workplace fare. And I think it's one of the reasons why the show is so popular. People do this kind of stuff at work. Hell, my day-to-day experiences, according to these same perfect-world people, *should* have me running to HR. Hell, I'd be able to make a REALLY great case against my immediate supervisor. The fact of the matter is, though, I'm a rational enough human being to figure out that anything that happens is not meant in any malicious kind of way (even if it is INTENSELY disgusting).

I think Penn and Teller said it best. I'm paraphrasing, but it went something like this: You can't take away someone's right to be offended by something any more than you can take away someone's right to offend. Meaning, what kind of society are we living in if we're asking the government or anyone else to regulate our ability to offend people or to be offended.

We've gone through harassment training at work and we also all universally agree that it's horsecrap. The simple fact of the matter is that on the books you have to say that everything is offensive, but behind closed doors, none of it really is. Very few of us are genuinely shocked or offended by any of the stuff that they say we need to be aware of. We've simply become such a litigious society that people think they can get away with being offended and that they deserve compensation for it. When did that happen?

If a bully picked on me at school, I couldn't sue him for emotional distress. The bully might get detention, but I would receive NOTHING. And that's the way it should be. Emotional distress is based on your ability to cope with something. It's internal. Like a girl stuck on a broken elevator who decides to jump out while it's still moving, standing next to a guy who won't. Everyone is different. Everyone reacts differently to different things. And instead of trying to make even the playing field, just teach your kids to have slightly tougher skins! And teach them what's appropriate.

I was watching Chris Rock's stand-up last night. He was discriminating against men, women, black people, white people, you name it! All in the name of comedy. And the fun part was that the audience was laughing. They got the joke. He wouldn't be allowed to say any of that stuff in the workplace, but he's getting paid to say it on stage. And that's OK by me.

It's a sticky situation to be sure. And do I have all the answers to it? Not a chance. But that's not what this is about. I simply wanted to say that I don't think too many people would honestly take House to task over what he said. Nor Foreman. And that maybe those two are on to something.
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So I just finished watching Zack and Miri Make A Porno the latest opus from writer/director Kevin Smith (of whom, I am a big fan). I remember reading a lot of critics of the film who say that Mr. Smith had written another fantasy where an overweight, mildly unattractive, geek-like man got an attractive woman to fall in love with him.

First, let me say that while some consider this a fantasy, isn't that what film is all about? I, personally, can't stand going to see depressing movies about hopeless causes. I have enough depression in my life as it is. Stuff like this is inspiring. Even if it can't necessarily motivate you to do anything other than to be yourself and hope, it DOES give you hope. And not in the patronizing way that the Revenge of the Nerds films did. I mean they were just overboard in their depictions of how nerds can triumph. And they kept their nerds stereotypically socially awkward. The fact of the matter is that most nerds and geeks can pass themselves off as normal folk. It's just a matter of finding someone who can appreciate that side of them.

Secondly, and I don't say this to be mean, but out of what I believe to be a certain understanding of Mr. Smith's motives through hearing him speak -- I believe he can write that kind of romantic film because he can write from experience. To hear him talk, he is incredibly self-effacing about his own appearance, and speaks quite vocally about how incredibly attractive his wife is. And, to be fair, she is. As one questioner said in AN EVENING WITH KEVIN SMITH, he's got everything the nerd/geek community dreams of. And he's still relatively humble. Let the man write from his heart.

And as for this film... I could kinda relate to it. Not the porno aspect, certainly (damn!) I did fall in love with a friend, but the circumstances were too different for this movie to be channeling that (sorry).

What it did tap into, in my psyche, was the filmmaker part of me. The fact that I am going through life, doing what I'm doing to live... but I remember making a short film. I did wind up starring and directing in it, and I got TREMENDOUS help from my friends who did FANTASTIC jobs all around. I remember lighting up during the process. I LOVED it. I was creative during it. We all came up with really spectacular ways to do things that I never would have thought we could do. We had a shoestring budget for visual effects, but I've got to say they really came out FANTASTICALLY. We shot all through the night barely wavering for energy. (this next bit sounds a bit conceited, and I don't mean it that way -- it WAS A GROUP EFFORT). I spent the next few days working all day and editing all night to get it done in time for a contest deadline. I got an average of 2 hours of sleep max per night and it didn't phase me because I LOVED IT!

It's intoxicating making a film. Putting an image together to make a narrative. Creating characters and scenes and circumstances that entertain is an amazing thing. I'd like to think that everyone had a great time. And for me personally, it was one of the most fun experiences of my entire life. Part of me wishes we had more time because I think we could have done better. The rest of me wishes we had more time because I wanted to keep doing it.

Mr. Smith was able to show all of this quite well in his story. Partially because he's such a good writer. But again, I think the truth of the matter is that it's all a slightly skewed version of his own experience making CLERKS. The parallels are there (though we know he didn't meet his wife there -- and while CLERKS was a bit profane, it doesn't count as a porno.) He felt it then and he shared it with us. And if you've ever had that experience it will touch you. It has to. Because if you've made a film with your friends... you know that there is nothing quite like the experience. It's one I will always cherish. And one that I will probably be chasing for quite a while.

*SIDENOTE* - The film that we made was submitted to the contest without any recognition afterward. Due to the constraints of the contest, the film was cut by 1/3 and was not a true representation of our vision. I have not yet been able to summon the will to put together the DIRECTOR'S CUT. It will be coming soon, though. I loved it too much to let it die on the vine.
28th-Nov-2008 07:12 pm - A THANKFUL THANKSGIVING
So yesterday was Thanksgiving. Before I get into this year's festival, let me give a bit of insight on what Thanksgiving has meant to me over the years:

STRESS. Not because I've had to make any personal effort in preparing for the day. It's just always meant tension of some sort. Mostly it came down to a certain amount of familial tension. Meeting with the extended family on either side always was a source of stress in my family. To this day I'm not ENTIRELY sure why it was that way... save for the fact that there wasn't a loving family atmosphere going that far out. Be it trouble amongst siblings or between parents and their children, there was always an underlying tension to the whole thing. Part of the problem probably also stemmed from the fact that my extended family didn't see us very often. I guess there just helped create a slightly more formal feel to the proceedings. Unless you know what I mean, it's REALLY hard to imagine just what an amazing thing it is to see something different.

And that brings me to yesterday. I had the honor of spending the day with kidchyron and celestial_usagi's family (for the second year, I might add). As you may or may not know, I generally have trouble in larger groups. Being of the shy variety growing up, I never really got that wonderful real-world-training that people get on how to cope with being a part of large group. And yet their families are so welcoming and wonderful that it always puts me at ease.

The thing that strikes me the most is the how much fun everyone was having. It's the most natural thing in the world, but so different from how I grew up that to me it is a wonder to behold.

And that was just the company. The food was fantastic. From entrees to dessert everything was tasty and wonderful. And don't let him fool you... kidchyron makes pumpkin chowder better than anyone I know! Unfortunately he wouldn't let me take any home, but what can I say? I can't be selfish. All I know is I could have used it to wash down tonight's dinner. (Everyone was nice enough to let me bring leftovers, but I polished that off for Breakfast -- what can I say... it was THAT good!)

Moreso than most what Thanksgiving was to me growing up, yesterday was truest to the meaning of Thanksgiving than any I have ever had. Surrounded by wonderful people, sharing a wonderful meal -- you are truly reminded of the things that you have to be thankful for. Some day I will throw one of my own (provided I ever get a place big enough) and I would love to have over all the people that I am thankful for. But even then, I doubt I could do justice to yesterday. But if anything, it serves to show me what I should one day aspire to.


28th-Nov-2008 07:06 pm - FROM POINT A TO POINT B
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There's nothing quite like standing on a really long line to show you how we're turning into a society of short-attention-spanned, impatient four-year-olds who crave attention. In between those who play video games on their iPhones (loud enough for everyone to hear despite headphones), those watching videos on their players, listening to music on their mp3 players, talking on the phone to SOMEONE, or humbly writing a missive for their blog, we have become an impatient society. We can't stand to be alone with our thoughts, for whatever reason. Perhaps our thoughts have become so unoriginal and boring due to overexposure to television, that we'll gladly submit to someone else to keep us busy. Perhaps we've suffered from information overload for so long that the quiet becomes scary.

One could make the argument that creativity can be stifled when one refuses to give oneself to the world around them. Standing in line, I found my creative juices stimulated by observing the world around me. And while I could have tried to write a story about those around me, I was more inspired to write a blog entry instead. Everyone was united by a few commonalities: the need to have our particular services performed, aggravation that it wasn't happening in a timely enough fashion and boredom.

It's funny to watch how different people choose to cope with the futility of being on line. Some complain out loud to those who are like-minded... Some will make jokes to lighten the mood (usually at the expense of those who are making them wait or the situation at hand)... Some stand as silent sentries waiting for the turn they have faith will come... And others immerse themselves into their electronic crutch of choice.

It's a fascinating study in society and it is the great equalizer. People in fancy suits or their sweats stand together waiting to be taken care of. They are all equally inconvenienced by the wait and will all have to suffer through the ordeal.

See what happened there? I started by observing that people can't be by themselves and through the course of this entry, standing here, my mind couldn't help but romanticize the situation. Such is the effect that standing in line, alone with your thoughts, can have on you. Funny that.
13th-Oct-2008 12:09 pm - MAYBE I'LL HAVE A GOATEE?

After you die...
Parallel Universe

After death, you will continue to exist as if nothing has ever happened. You will continue to be yourself, but because you are in a parallel universe, some things will be different. You may not have married the same person, you might live in a different spot, but you will be the same person underneath it all and you will continue your life unaware that you ever died.

Take this quiz at QuizGalaxy.com

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