30 September 2006

Past Prologue

Funny, how things work out.
I had two very close friends when I was growing up, one whom I've known for close to 40 years and another for 26 years.
And I regret that over the years, as sometimes happens, I lost contact with them. It's like those old school mates; you spend at least 8 years with them -from kindergarten through 8th grade - and then if your lucky, another four during High School. Then college -or no college - seperates you, even after you promised you would stay in touch.
Dennis and I had a long time friendship that survived, at times, many ups and downs and a few years when he lived in Colorado after his parents split. He spent four years in the National Guard and, yet, when we got together, it was as if no time had passed. And while Dennis and I had little in common, we still had a bond of friendship that trumped everything else.
After our little adventure in the Bay Area working for the now defunct United Artist Theater chain, I relationship shifted. He was back in the midwest, doing his sports medicine stuff. Even after I returned to Chicago, we spent no time together. As a matter of fact, I think 4 years passed before I saw him again. After that, another 2 years passed before I contatced him again, and we spoke over the phone. It was not helpful.
Now eight years later, I have no idea where he's at, though I suspect he still lives on the south side of Chicago. It pains me that he has never tried to find me, or seemed even concerned that I am alive.
Then there was Michael, a guy I met when I was working for K Mart in 1980. While Mike and I did not become friends until about two or three months later, we none the less hit it off. Like my roommate Bill here, Mike and I shared the same interest; science fiction.
We had a great friendship during the 1980's, and even though we had some rough patches from time to time, it could always be the typical thing real firends go through.
But time and tide seemed to effect us towards the end of the 80's. Mike was dating Kathy and I moved to California for 18 months. After my return, Mike and I saw little of each other, as he was working a great job and was planning (and eventually) married Kathy.
I think the last time I saw Mike was at his fathers funeral. Though I might have faulty memories on that. I remembered spending time at his home in Bartlett, but I can't recall if it was after or before.
Anyway, Mike was a big collector of music and during our mad and wild days of the 1980's, he made me loads of audio tapes of music, well over a hundred by 1992. I still have them and while some have been abused by me, I have almost all of them. Plus, as mentioned above, our love of sci fi such as Dr. Who and Star Trek gives me more sweet, sweet memories. All those Sunday nights watching Monty Python, Dave Allen and then Doctor Who on the PBS station there; standing in line to see Return of the Jedi.
So, last night, after a few weeks of intense wondering where he was, I tried to find him. I knew he no longer lived in Bartlett, but I was unsure where he was, if he even still lived in Illinois.
Thge internet can be a wonderful thing, and it took me a couple of hours going through endless searches, but I think I found him and his wife in West Chicago. I found an email address and on a whim, and wing and a prayer, I sent one off.
Surprise!!
It was him and he sent such a kind and wonderful bundle of memories back in the email. I was so happy and so shocked.
Of course, I sent a new email back to him, giving him the update of my life. Well, sort of, anyway. I can't remember if I told him I was queer. That should be interesting. God knows, I hope he dosen't freak out like Dennis did.
Hopefully, he'll send one back. I also gave him my mobile number, so we'll see if he calls.
Thanks, Fate.
I hope we'll never lose this time again.

26 September 2006

Jerry Falwell's attack on Freedom and Madonna

I could give a rats ass about Madonna these days, with her crazy stunts that piss of censors across the globe and her latest CD and her fake British accent.

Lately, she has survived protesters and censors in Russia, Germany and even the Vatican City (some of those countries which are not known for "freedom of speech") so she could perform her crucifixion number, Live to Tell in concert.

NBC, which will air the concert in November, has bowed to pressure from the likes of Jerry Falwell and the American Family Association and will cut that number from the special.
America is the cradle of democracy and the birthplace of something called the First Amendment rights, and I find this step by NBC -who by the way, still aired The Book of Daniel earlier this year after threats from AFA - very disturbing. I mean, despite those protests mentioned above, she still was able to perform that portion of the concert because her artistic freedom needed to be preserved.

So, smug Falwell can claim a victory for NBC dropping the segment, but once again what the real story is our freedoms are under attack not from Islamic fundamentalism, but psychotic Christians and right wing muckrakers who are using fear to keep America in a war that a good percentage (those who get their news from other sources other than FOXNews) of us now realize is un-winnable.

In Jerry Falwell’s world, freedom of speech and artistic freedom are wrong and must be crushed so the glory of Jesus can shine through.

What an ass.

25 September 2006

It's official: The Class is dumb, but Heroes shines

Have no idea how CBS convinced these critics to praise this show, but The Class is about as funny as a heart attack. All the characters are pathetic whiners and the plots are as thin as the Olsen Twins.

While this has got to be series 47 for Adrian Pasdar (but, damn he's a whiny egosentric), Heroes startes off great, with everyone of their characters beginning to sense the change overcoming them. The spooky powered one is the artist. I would be freaked out if pictures I paint started becoming real.

Only one problem (though, I don't know why, so much) with it, since it was shot as a 2 hour opener, it takes a bit to meet all the hereos. But I was not expecting the cliffhanger, though.

Surprise.

24 September 2006

Hidden Frontier shoot: 09/24.

Today, filming continued on Hidden Frontier's final season. We're still in the midst of epsiode 705 -The Widening Gyre - and 706, Things Fall Apart. This shoot was easy by far, no drama and we wrapped on time. The next shoot is October 21 and next was suppose to be the 28th, but now we'll film on 22nd as well. Saturday and Sunday shoots are a challenge, plus we'll have so many people coming and going that we'll never wrap on time on either of those days..
Of course, its about the talents availability. Everyone of the actors schedules are causing this bottlenecking.
There was a cute 18 year-old boy who knows JT via through his myspace, and as it turns out, just a stones throw from Rob's. So he was there watching us film, flirting with Rob. He's adorable and can't say I did not feel something for him, but he's way too young.
Still...
Anyway, all is coming together. However, the fans will have to have mor patience, as The Widening Gyre will not be released until the end of October or the first Monday in November.
grr.

23 September 2006

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip best new show of the season?

I never watched The West Wing, if only because it was usually opposite something I usually watched. Plus, I've never been a big fan of Martin Sheen.
The there was Aaron Sorkin, an admitted drug addict. I felt I should not support him. Brilliant of writer that he is, I just felt I would be enabling him. So, I passed on it.
This past week, his newest show debuted on NBC. I watched it just a few moments ago, and found it well written, with a great cast. So far, if I was to say what was the best new show so far this TV season, this would win.
Because Studio 60 refuses to pander to its audience. And Sorkin makes it very clear, he'll not do this with this show, as the teaser was a brilliant rant at network TV ands its inability to be original because certain groups of a conservative nature will force a blockade. It's a risky too, as shows-within-a-show filled with inside jokes and self-mocking humor may turn off a large group of people who think Two and Half Men is the funny.
For me, this is what I want from my TV show. I don't want it dumb down, and I don't care if teens are not watching it. The networks failure to understand this means we'll be stuck with lame comedy shows like Two and Half Men, and endless reality shows.
FOX, once thought as nothing but fluff, has several shows on their schedule that have proven successful with out lowering brain cells (which Las Vegas does in spades), even though we are stuck with Law & Order franchise and that cheap game show, Deal or No Deal. NBC, stuck in 4th place, is fianlly doing something about that. Studio 60, My Name is Earl and The Office will be on my NBC watch list.
Over at CBS, The Class has potential, its just that I would not want to spend any time with these guys. They are boring and the premise, at best, is silly. Still, I'll give it another try, as there is nothing else worthy to watch on Monday's at 8 (besides I kind of like How I Met Your Mother and The New Adventure of Old Christine). Same goes for Jericho on Wednesday. I'll give it one more try before either recording it so I can watch Bones over at FOX, or abandon it althougher to record 30 Rock when it debuts, 'cause I love Bones.
I'm looking forward to Ugly Betty, The Nine and Heroes. And, of course, Lost and Desperate Housewives.

Gay Witch Hunt -The Office's funny season opener

While The Office has diverged from the British verison it is based on, it none the less, has become a funny show that pokes more fun at corporate America than Dilbert ever could. Its season opener this past Thursday, The Gay Witch Hunt, show cased to the straight viewer how inappropriate the word "fag"is, and hopefully educated them as well.

For Michael, the boss of this team who has suffered from a chronic case of foot-in-mouth disease in the past, accidently outs office accountant Oscar after trying to make amends to him for referring to Oscar as "faggy."

Like so many straight Americans, the word "fag" or "so gay" is supposed to mean lame, and Michael goes on the defensive by saying he would never call a retarded person a "retard", let alone a gay person "faggy."

And while the episode -and Oscar - try to point out how that comparison isn’t any better, The Office’s attempt to explain why the phrase is so wrong and is one reason why this show is a suitable replacement for the now cancelled (and much more brilliant) Arrested Development as one the funniest shows on TV.

For Michael, and for millions of slightly unenlightened Americans who bandy the word "gay" around like candy during Halloween, he never meant it in a cruel way. For him, gays are found in large cities, or as noted on the episode: the Bravo show, "Project Runway." Its hard for him to wrap his brain around the concept, as he sees his co-workers as being just like him. He never thought that words could harm someone he cares and knows about.

Then, after all is explained to him, Michael goes out of his way to make amends, by calling everyone into the conference room. The episode goes from great to outstanding as Michael lets Oscar know that he’s accepted and embraces him and plants one of the most awkward kisses seen on TV since Michael Jackson planted one Lisa Marie Presley.

And for Oscar, who never wanted to out at work and who has kept his private life just that, becomes nobody’s fool, either. He is portrayed not as a gay stereotype, but as real character and who, at the end of the day, is just like everyone else: he’s mediocre at best and seems to give the impression he would rather be somewhere else than at work.

One the other aspects of this episode is that Oscar wants to quit, but we found out that he stays only because, as most people would do, he can be bought. The company gives him three months paid vacation and a company car. Which just goes to prove that the character is fully human, with many foibles and not the butt of any ones joke. There are few TV shows who make this valiant attempt to show that gay people are just one of the gang.

21 September 2006

17 September 2006

Sarah Jane Smith returns in 2nd spin-off of Doctor Who

With the third season of the revamped Doctor Who series set to air next spring and the first spin-off show Tourchwood expected this fall, the BBC and series show runner Russell T Davis are gearing up another series featuring, perhaps, the best known companion the Time Lord known only as the Doctor ever had.

Elizabeth Sladen, who portrayed the intrepid reporter Sarah Jane Smith on the classic series from 1973 to 1976, is set to come back in the Sarah Jane Adventures, a BBC production for Children’s British Broadcasting Company (CBBC).

Set in present day, the series will focus on Sarah and a 13 year-old neighbor girl named Maria (Yasmin Paige), who team up to fight evil alien forces at work in Britain and the scheming Ms Wormwood -to be played by Samantha Bond (Miss Moneypenny in recent James Bond films of Pierce Bronsan). A 60 minute special -written by Davies -will go before the cameras next month, with a series set to lens next spring.

Sladen has become a fan favorite over the years and is cited by many both here in the US and in Britain to be the best companion the franchise ever had and was Davies favorite when he watched the show as a kid. When he was hired to helm the revamp, it was her character he wanted to bring back especially. And while it took a season, Sladen none the less came back in season two’s School Reunion.
K9, who also returned in with Sarah Jane in Reunion, will not be part of the show (as there is rumored an animated series in the works featuring the robotic dog), but will appear in the "pilot."

Birthday

Strange, that as I turn 44 today, how I feel so much older.

On the outside, most people look at me and usually are surprised to find out that I am in my 40's. Which is fine, as I don't act my age anyway. My gray hair betrays me when I don't color it, but I'm getting tired of doing it. So, I guess, now I'll look like I'm in those 40's.

Oh, well, I'm also very low-key about my birthday. I actually like going to other peoples birthdays than mine. They are - at some point -just another day.

And mom sent me $25, which was cool, and I'll use it, but had she just sdent the card, I would've been happy.

But at 11:30, only Donna and Mom have called. I'll be surprised if I hear from Dawn -even though Steven's birthday is tomorrow. She forgets. Brian, well, if he was not married to Karen, I would not hear from him on my birthday. It's his thing.

16 September 2006

Books of 2006, part 12: Gil's All Fright Diner

Gil's All Fright Diner
by
A. Lee Martinez
In what could be the start of a potential series of novels, A. Lee Martinez Gil’s All Fright Diner jumps into the world mined by the late Douglas Adams. But instead of poking fun of science fiction, the author takes on the horror genre. Here’s a universe where a vampire named Earl and a werewolf named Duke travel together and where, after stopping off in a one stop sign town of Rockwood, encounter it being overtaken by zombies.

At first reluctant to help, they become involved with Loretta -who is running Gil’s All Night Diner after the mysterious disappearance of Gil - and Sherif Kopp to find out why the zombies find Gil’s so interesting.

Along the way, they encounter Tammy (AKA Lilith, Queen of Night) and her dopy boyfriend, Chad. Tammy needs to get into Gil’s, but now that Loretta has Earl and Duke, her plans to take over the world become more complicated. But when Earl becomes distracted by an amorous ghost, Tammy sets in motion her dreaded plan. Only if her dad and school work doesn’t interfere.

*************************************************************************************

During the heyday of the 1980's when I read many humorous fantasy novels, not much came close to the brilliance of Douglas Adams. Piers Anthony came near enough, but after the sixth Xanth novel, the series became dull and lifeless, with way too many puns. And I never like how he jumped ahead in the Xanth universe, regulating most of my favorite characters to cameos. Robert Asprin’s Myth series I liked, but found the series running quickly out of ideas, which included a brief bout of writers block by the author that effected the series in general - beyond his later battles with tax’s and his ex-wife.

This novel works like the Buffy and Angel universe, with jokes and one-liners between some good ideas. But I must becoming cynical in my older age, as I found the book funny, but nothing as brilliant as the all the Adams work. But then, what could?

I guess while the book is entertaining and worth the price, its just not as original. Which is what is wrong on TV, the movies and books. But I watch and, occasionally, read. That maybe why I’m drawn more and more these days to non-fiction and why I still have a desire to re-read such books as the entire Lord of the Rings series for the umpteenth time.

Of the fantasy genre I used to love so much 20 years ago, I’m finding no one interesting to read. There is Tad Williams, maybe. The Robert Jordan endless Wheel of Time series lost me around the end of book 3 and the so horrible I never finished it book 4. Harry Potter is still good, and have been tempted to go back an re-read the entire first 6 books.

I have a box or more of books I’ve yet to read. Sometimes, I feel I wouldn’t mind being the Bergess Meredith character Henry Bennis in that Twilight Zone episode Time Enough at Last. Of course, I don’t want a nuclear war to come, but it would be great to be able to put a year or two away of no worries of money food and housing and just read all the books I’ve yet to get to sitting in storage and the ones on the book shelves I’ve yet to buy.

After all, I still have that Confederacy of Dunces to read. I’m just glad I don’t need glasses to read.

11 September 2006

04 September 2006

Books of 2006: Part 11: Mayflower

Mayflower
by
Nathaniel Philbrick
I began reading Nathaniel Philbrick’s Mayflower with the same curiosity he did: learning how Thanksgiving began. Of course, as a holiday, Thanksgiving did not begin until 1863 as a "cathartic celebration of nationhood". True, the Pilgrims would’ve been probably horrorfied by it, seeing that most of their puritanical ideas would not allow for such a baffling notion; heck, they did not even celebrate Christmas.

When the Pilgrims reached the shores of America in 1620, they knew not what to expect, but they since they were trying to escape religious persecution in England. They felt that church had become corrupted by "centuries of laity and abuse". They believed that if something was not in the scriptures, it was of a man-made, and thus a distortion of what God intended. These Purtians had no use for the Book of Common Prayer, since they felt it tampered with the meaning of the Bible and prevented "spontaneity", which they felt was "essential to attaining" the "divine".

But if I could time travel back to those early years, when nearly half of the original travelers on the Mayflower lost their lives, I would tell them that they needed to tell their kids and grandchildren to basic need to understand each other. Even the leaders of this Pilgrims realized early on that if they were going to survive beyond the first year, they needed the "Strangers" to help them, and that meant loosening some of Puritans.

But while the first years were hard, with many mis-understandings between them, the Native Indians and England, they were able to balance out a life.

But as history repeats itself, it would be the next generation of Strangers and Pilgrims that would cause a war between them and the Native’s. After 50 years, a conflict would grow as people arriving to the New World felt it was God’s divine right to strip the natives of their land and kill them. Of course, the Indians were no so innocent themselves, but it seems to me that they were wiped out for no other reason than they were a nuisance to America’s westward movement.

Even today, with our current conflict in Iraq, we are still fighting a war based on race. For today we see people like Samuel Moseley who coined the phrase "the only good Indian was a dead Indian" and felt that once you got mad at them, you got even with them.

Then there was Benjamin Church, who felt that instead of hating your enemy, you learn as much as possible from him; that instead of killing them, you tried to bring them around to your way opf thinking.

And "first and foremost, you treat them like human beings".

Because the one lesson that can be learned by King Philip’s War of 1674-75 is that "unbridled arrogance and fear only feed the flames of violence. "