31 January 2008

I'm Gonna Be

I know some people hate this song, but I love it!

Missing WGN Morning News

Even though I don't miss Chicago -like tonight, as they are getting dumped with nearly a foot of snow - I still miss one thing, the WGN Morning News. KTLA is no WGN, and KTTV is just a pale and very bad imitation of WGN.

What makes the Morning News so special is that there is more fun going on than news. The anchors are very repesctable of the news, but they tend to have fun with jokes and pranks. Its often been cited because of its controversially comedic bent.

I began watching it around '94-'95 when the personalities included anchors Larry Potash and Roseanne Tellez, with sports by Bill Weir, weatherman Paul Konrad and traffic reporter Robin Baumgarten. Also there was the late Randy Salerno, who would fill-in from time to time.

When Weir left for ABC in Los Angeles in 1998 (and now works at ABC's Good Morning America), Mike Barz came in and easily fit in with the rest of the bunch. Before I left Chicago in 2005, Salerno and Tellez had jumped to rival WBBM and Barz joined GMA (and is now back in Chicago doing mornings on WFLD, the FOX station there.

What made the morning news so interesting was that joking around and pulling pranks were everyday things. Sure, sometimes they got in trouble with the managment -much like what The Simpsons do by ribbing the FOX Network, Paul Konrad and Larry Potash would take pot shots at The Tribune Company - but it was usually all done in clean fun.

Sadly, here in the LA market, nothing comes close to WGN. I'm disappointed that the Superstation does not air the Morning News here, though they do the noon and 9 o'clock ones. I'm sure it has something to do with WGN and KTLA being both owned by Tribune, but I would rather watch that, then that horrible KTTV (LA's Fox Station) morning thing.

So, don't miss the weather, but I miss my WGN Morning News.

30 January 2008

Randy Salerno

When growing up -no matter where - you end up watching a lot of local news. And you usually watch one channel, one local news program. Thus, you come attached to those anchors and reporters -some who come and go, and others that stay.

When I lived in Chicago, I always watched WLS -the ABC afflicate. But in later years, I ended up watching WGN -especially the morning news, which while informative, always made me laugh. There was always a sense of fun when you watched, and its anchors like Larry Potash, Robin Baumgarten, Paul Konrad, Roseanne Tellez, Micah Materre, Mike Barz, Bill Weir and Randy Salerno always made you giggle, even during the worst aspects of news.

WGN Morning News was 60% news and 40% fun. The wit of the team, especially Larry, Paul and Randy was awesome.

Tonight, while watching WGN Superstation here, I learned of the tragic death of Randy Salerno on January 24th in a snowmobile accident in Eagle River Wisconsin. He was 45.

And I'm left with a great sadness for a man I never met.

The man had a wit that I can only dream of having and was a hugely funny. A tribute from his friends at WGN -where he worked for 11years - is here

Click on the Noon News Tribute.

His co-workers at the CBS affliate -WBBM- where he worked for the last three years, also paid tribute to him here.

So tonight, while I intended to do other things, I have spent hours watching video from WGN and WBBM. And I realize that since I left Chicago in 2005, the local news is one thing I miss. The LA stations are fine, but nothing can be as good as WGN morning news. And its newscasters like Randy, who while reporting the most horrible news, still could provide a laugh here and there.

I watched his funeral, and listened to the tributes, and cried when his wife spoke. It's funny, I'm 2000 miles away and have not seen him since I left Chicago 2 plus years ago, yet I feel a great loss and sadness for his wife and three children.


Random Hotness


28 January 2008

Whirlwinded

There was a point in yesterday's shoot, that I wanted to leave and just chuck it all into the drink. I felt drained and stepped upon. Most of it had to do with not being able to shoot on location as planned, due to the rain that saturated the area starting on Friday. Thus, by default, the studio became a caged pen for me; locked in and tied down.

Then came the skills of certain actors who could not remember their lines. I would grant you that most actors have trouble with the techno-babble of Trek, but some just choose to remember some and hope to bluff their way through the rest.

And that, in my opinion is what causes most of our delays (the ironic part, maybe, is that even if the day was sunny, with all the blown lines, we might've run out of light to film). I can accept lighting issues, but topped that with the actors line issues, and we got a long ass day.

Still, that being said, I'm hopeful Rob will find good performances. Brandon was great, settleing nicely into his role as Ro. I have some serious worries that we'll have issues with him when it comes to Ro's sexuality, but I guess we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Michelle, of course, was brilliant as well as our guest-actress, Melodee. She is a find, which is why after filming on Odyssey's Lotus Eaters episode, she'll pop-up in the next Helena Chronicles episode we film on 2/16.

When we wrap this coming Saturday on 1.03, it should be another year before I can get behind the camera again as director. At this point, I'll probably helm the second season opener of The Helena Chronicles.

But, unlike yesterday, I know this last shoot of The Lotus Eaters will go long. But, I'll have all of Sunday to recover.


25 January 2008

Cueca Funk

Have no idea what this is, but it's kinda hot.

Love the beat of the music, also.

24 January 2008

Pits


My picks for the Oscars


The Oscars are really the only award show I like. I know all this self-congratulatory thing is weird, but shit, take my gay card away.

But even as gay man, I was never into the glamour aspect of it, though when with friends, I can be. But now, I just watch it because I enjoy guessing who’ll win.

So, here’s my prediction for Visual Effects, and (with the winner highlighted) nominees are:

"The Golden Compass"
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End"
"Transformers"

Pseudo Celebrities, a Prick named John Gibson and death of Heath Ledger

We do have a sick fascination with pseudo-celebrities, don’t we? How many of you have subscriptions to People, Us Weekly and any other tabloids newspaper? How many of you thumb through them at the checkout when buying groceries, and then toss them into the cart?

Why do we care about Victoria Beckham? Why do follow the stupid antics of attention whores known as Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Amy Winehouse. Why do we put this assholes on such a high pedestal? Are our lives so empty that we need to worship these people as if they were more than human?

Sure we laugh at them, and point our fingers at their crazy antics, but we still want to know what they’re up too.

People, we need to stop dumb, idol worship of stars. Stop buying People, Us Weekly and any other tabloid. Stop watching the vain and empty shows like Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood, which under the guise of reporting the “news,” is just another way to exploit people. And the Billy Bush is a complete wanker.

Meanwhile, the death of Heath Ledger has brought the worst in fans, acting as if his death -while a tragic loss for his family - is somehow a crucial juncture in history. The there’s the hate mongers, pricks like Fake News host John Gibson, who his radio show Tuesday called Ledger a "weirdo" with a "serious drug problem" and suggested that Ledger killed himself because he had "a serious position in the (stock) market" or perhaps "watched the Clinton-Obama debate last night.”

Anyways, the bizarreness will continue when People Magazine releases its issue tomorrow on the death of Ledger. My company has already notified us that they could not get their hands on any more copies than our usual draw. Which means, the ghouls of the universe, ones like Best Buy who had a display of Ledger movies set up mere hours after his death, will be out in force looking to buy his videos.

23 January 2008

Star Trek teaser grabs the ire of purist fans; me, I'm mellow about it


I’m trying to mellow with age, you know. It’s something I’m actually working on. I guess, I just can no longer be bothered by certain things. Take for example the Star Trek teaser that was just released online (and in theaters attached to the Cloverfield monster movie.). Now as a fan, and not an over obsessed purist, I can take what certain liberties director JJ Abrams will do with the reboot due this Christmas.

The writers, along with the director, are known to be huge fans of the 42 year-old franchise. And given the chance to, more or less save it from itself (see Voyager and Enterprise), I’m hoping they deliver a great picture.

Now the teaser, somewhat ambiguously, shows construction workers welding something big while excerpts from the Apollo 11 mission are heard, words from President Kennedy . It eventually pulls back to show the saucer section with the name USS Enterprise emblazoned on it in big letters held in giant construction scaffolding as Leonard Nimoy says "Space...Where No Man Has Gone Before". Dissolve to the Federation symbol glowing in blue outline (with the original series transporter effect heard) and the words “Under Construction” and “Christmas 2008" are displayed.

Now, some fans are saying that the Enterprise was built in space (and according to lore, Starfleet built Utopia Planitia in orbit of Mars just to build ships) and not on Earth, as the trailer implies. This, they’re already saying, will be the reboots main mission: to ignore the Canon of Trek. As far as I know, that has never been confirmed on screen (which is what is called The Canon of Trek), and books and other resource materials do not count.

They are saying that a ship “under construction” would not have the name of the ship put on it, until its complete. And there’s also something about the nacelles that seem out of place.

What I saw was a teaser. If I was a betting man, I would say this has absolutely nothing to do with the movie. All we really know about the film is that its set sometime between the first pilot, The Cage, and the second one, Where No Man Has Gone Before. It features Leonard Nimoy returning as Spock, suggesting that time-travel plays within plot (as it also features Romulans from the 24th Century). We know the cast, and that’s just about it.

Sure, there has been a many fanboy web sites reporting unreliable information about the production, which has caused the hearts of Star Trek purist -the ones who think the show should never violate canon one bit -to type out loads of whiny assed complaints.

Here’s where the mellowing comes in. Yeah, I was pretty vocal during Enterprise’s TV run. I was -and still am - not keen on going back, and doing an origin type project. After all, most comic book geeks will tell you, origin stories are usually the weakest stories. And, at times, I would get on Enterprise’s ass for violating certain precepts with in the franchise; where they ignored The Canon of Trek for the story.

My real issue with Enterprise was the show sucked big time, with a miscast captain (like Scott Backula, but Jebus he was wrong for this role) and stories that broke many cardinal rules, but the greatest sin they made was the episodes were dull as dishwater and boring.

In many ways, I can ignore minor inconsistences, the changes here and there with what has been established in TOS, TNG and DS9. As long as the story is good. Enterprise failed to make good stories, so I felt justified to complain about that and then make comments about canon being violated.

But before Enterprise began, I tried to keep an open mind. Much like I will do with Abrams’ reboot of the classic series.

So, when I hear people complain that this movie will ignore all that has come before, all I can do is just nod and keep notes to myself.

Once upon a time, I probably was like them-as a matter of fact, I was - but now time and sand has made me just nod and say whatever.

22 January 2008

No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood lead the 2007 Oscar race

The 2007 Oscars nominations were announced this morning. No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood tied with 8 nominations. While there was no big surprises, thus making it fairly predictable if you ask me, the big question remains will the WGA strike be over by the February 24th telecast? It's been reported that the WGA will not pickett the award show if things are not resloved by then, but most actors and what not will probably make the same choice as Best Actor nominee Viggo Mortensen, who says he'll not cross lines if the strike is on that night. Here's the list:


Best Picture
"Atonement"
"Juno"
"Michael Clayton"
"No Country for Old Men"
"There Will Be Blood"

Actor
George Clooney, "Michael Clayton"
Daniel Day-Lewis, "There Will Be Blood"
Johnny Depp, "Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street"
Tommy Lee Jones, "In the Valley of Elah"
Viggo Mortensen, "Eastern Promises"

Actress
Cate Blanchett, "Elizabeth: The Golden Age"
Julie Christie, "Away From Her"
Marion Cotillard, "La Vie en Rose"
Laura Linney, "The Savages"
Ellen Page, "Juno"

Supporting Actor
Casey Affleck, "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"
Javier Bardem, "No Country for Old Men"
Hal Holbrook, "Into the Wild"
Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Charlie Wilson's War"
Tom Wilkinson, "Michael Clayton"

Supporting Actress
Cate Blanchett, "I'm Not There"
Ruby Dee, "American Gangster"
Saoirse Ronan, "Atonement"
Amy Ryan, "Gone Baby Gone"
Tilda Swinton, "Michael Clayton"

Director
Julian Schnabel, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
Jason Reitman, "Juno"
Tony Gilroy, "Michael Clayton"
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, "No Country for Old Men"
Paul Thomas Anderson, "There Will Be Blood"

Foreign Film
"Beaufort," Israel
"The Counterfeiters," Austria
"Katyn," Poland
"Mongol," Kazakhstan
"12," Russia

Adapted Screenplay
Christopher Hampton, "Atonement"
Sarah Polley, "Away from Her"
Ronald Harwood, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, "No Country for Old Men"
Paul Thomas Anderson, "There Will Be Blood"

Original Screenplay
Diablo Cody, "Juno"
Nancy Oliver, "Lars and the Real Girl"
Tony Gilroy, "Michael Clayton"
Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava and Jim Capobianco, "Ratatouille"
Tamara Jenkins, "The Savages."

Animated Feature Film
"Persepolis"
"Ratatouille"
"Surf's Up"

Art Direction
"American Gangster"
"Atonement"
"The Golden Compass"
"Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street"
"There Will Be Blood"

Cinematography
"The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"
"Atonement"
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
"No Country for Old Men"
"There Will Be Blood"

Sound Mixing
"The Bourne Ultimatum"
"No Country for Old Men"
"Ratatouille"
"3:10 to Yuma"
"Transformers"

Sound Editing
"The Bourne Ultimatum"
"No Country for Old Men"
"Ratatouille"
"There Will Be Blood"
"Transformers"

Original Score
"Atonement," Dario Marianelli
"The Kite Runner," Alberto Iglesias
"Michael Clayton," James Newton Howard
"Ratatouille," Michael Giacchino
"3:10 to Yuma," Marco Beltrami

Original Song
"Falling Slowly" from "Once," Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
"Happy Working Song" from "Enchanted," Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz
"Raise It Up" from "August Rush," Nominees to be determined
"So Close" from "Enchanted," Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz
"That's How You Know" from "Enchanted," Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz

Costume
"Across the Universe"
"Atonement"
"Elizabeth: The Golden Age"
"La Vie en Rose"
"Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street"

Documentary Feature
"No End in Sight"
"Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience"
"Sicko"
"Taxi to the Dark Side"
"War/Dance"

Documentary (short subject)
"Freeheld"
"La Corona (The Crown)"
"Salim Baba"
"Sari's Mother"

Film Editing
"The Bourne Ultimatum"
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
"Into the Wild"
"No Country for Old Men"
"There Will Be Blood"

Makeup
"La Vie en Rose"
"Norbit"
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End"

Animated Short Film
"I Met the Walrus"
"Madame Tutli-Putli"
"Meme Les Pigeons Vont au Paradis (Even Pigeons Go to Heaven)"
"My Love (Moya Lyubov)"
"Peter & the Wolf"

Live Action Short Film
"At Night"
"Il Supplente (The Substitute)"
"Le Mozart des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets)"
"Tanghi Argentini"
"The Tonto Woman"

Visual Effects
"The Golden Compass"
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End"
"Transformers"

Gifted and talented actor Heath Ledger found dead in New York


Like most, I was stunned to hear of the death of Heath Ledger. I would not say I'm a fan, having seen only a handful of his movies and the TV series he produced before he hit it big, but I liked him.

For many gay men, he'll always be remembered for his haunting performance in Brokeback Mountain, as a gay man unable to come to turns with his sexuality. His role as Ennis Del Mar earned him wide spread praise, that included an Oscar nomination for best actor (and there is some irony, that he dies on the day the 2007 Oscar's were announced).

This summer, in what was probably his biggest film of his career, he'll be seen as The Joker in The Dark Knight, the Batman Begins sequel.

While nothing is confirmed, reports indicate that his death may have been accidental. What that means, I'm unsure, as reports say sleeping pills were strewn around his bed where his housekeeper found him.

There is much more to come from this, I know.

21 January 2008

Shelter


Saddled with responsibility beyond his means, a young man takes care of his five year-old nephew, his irresponsible older sister and his alcoholic dad while holding down a job at a diner and struggling with his burgeoning feelings for his friend's older brother.

Another clip from the upcoming film, Shelter

20 January 2008

Shirley Bassey - GET THE PARTY STARTED - Music Video

It's so gay to love this woman, but I do.

Torchwood: Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

Torchwood's second season launched with Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (and for trivia hounds, film critic Pauline Kael came up with this phrase in the 1960's to describe the James Bond movies) and the introduction of someone from Jack's past.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer's James Marsters shows up as another Time Agent named Captain John Hart. While his mission -about some thermal devices - is silly, what he does to the team is much more interesting.

Everyone, still upset about Jack's vanishing act (at the end of season one, he joined the Doctor for three episodes) and his sudden reappearance are even more thrown for loop when Hart arrives and makes things worse.

The pacing of the show got better, but this is the season opener, and the added humor and less back biting from the team is also a reward. Marsters shines as Hart, reminding me many times why Spike on Buffy was so much fun to watch. I guess without using the Previously on...notice, it forced the series to tell all that stuff at the opening, which I find distracting. What's the point of restating the mission statement again and again. Oh. Can't count on the viewers to pay attention.

There appears to be a more overt romance planned for Jack and Inato, and liked how jealous he became when he realized John was everything he wasn't. But Jack did ask Ianto on a date.

And in typical Buffy/Angel style that the series tries so hard to emulate, John let's out a secret for Jack to mull over until his return (seen in the previews) at the last few moments of the episode. Who is Gray and why did Jack go all pale?

Ladies and Gentlemen, John Barrowman

I am what I am

Actress Suzanne Pleshette and "Brady Bunch" actor Allan Melvin die

Do things happen in three's?

It may just be imagination, but tragic things (does it happen with the opposite, three good things?) seem to happen in three's.

Take deaths of Hollywood stars.

This past week, Brad Renfro died.

Over this weekend, Suzanne Pleshette and Allan Melvin passed. Pleshette will be remembered for her role as the voice of reason on the the brilliant Bob Newhart Show, while Melvin played Sam the Butcher on the classic TV series The Brady Bunch and Archie's best friend Barney on All in the Family.

Pleshette was 70, and passed from respiratory failure, while Melvin was 84 and passed from cancer.

19 January 2008

Book: Next by Michael Crichton


As I read Next, I was of one mind: what the hell is this book about?

Michael Crichton has spent decades combining fact and fiction together, and with Next he takes on genetics and the slippery slope that comes with it. The book has way too many characters and seemly jumps to them with little narrative ideas. His chapters are short, much like the pattern developed by the craptacular James Patterson. The novel also sort of concludes with little or no plot resoultions for most of the characters -like the brother who accidentally made that drug that cured people of their addictions, and then administered it to his brother and his mom's friend's son, only to find out that ended up turning them old?

This abrupt ending is Cricthton's style, and the next seven or eight pages is the authors real feelings on the future of genetic research. And not surprising, the same as he did with his anti-global warning novel State of Fear, he's against it.

Still, I gues the point of the novel is to get people to think, and offer information that most people -given the effort - can find themselves. However, it is way to cluttered with stereotype characters and unbelievable and downright wacky scenarios -the talking African grey and the halfhuman monkey named Dave.

But that being said, Crichton offers his own personal views on what could happen if we let genetics run the course its going. While it may offer humans hope for a better, richer life, one free of many diseases, in the hands of people who put profit before anything else, it has a potential to become a nightmare.

16 January 2008

Teriyaki Burger

Never would actually eat one -or for that matter, eat at Carl's - but this guy is kinda hot.

15 January 2008

Renfro's death reminds me that in Hollywood, being used and thrown out is par for the course

The horror stories of kids who hit it big in Hollywood when they are young and then find out how disingenuous it can be when they grow up are a dime a dozen. Hollywood will eat you up, that's for sure. A cliché, I know, but over the decades, show business has proven that while little kids sell tickets at the box office and bring in ratings on TV, it will abandon you like discarded toy when something better comes along.

Brad Renfro’s death brings to mind the suicide death of actor Jonathan Brandis, or the heroin overdose of Rosanne and Angel actor Glenn Quinn and the many troubled life of Terminator 2 star Edward Furlong. There are many others, to be sure. Most go unnoticed, although there is a former child actor who has an organization to help these troubled young ones.

While Hollywood cannot be blamed for all of his -or that, any actors - problems, it does shine a light into its dark corners. Renfro was a cute kid and became a semi-handsome teen with a ton of rough edges, and he seemed proud of that badboy image he was giving off. He was, in many ways, perfectly cast in Tom and Huck. Jonathan Taylor Thomas was perfect boy next door, one any parent would be proud to have their girls date. And Thomas cultivated that image of the squeaky clean kid, even though he tried to break out of that with his performances as a gay hustler in Speedway Junkies. Thomas also played gay in the Showtime movie Common Ground. Then there was Renfro's Huck Finn, a kid with no past and no future. His dirty, straight hair and sneer made him the image of the kid from other side of tracks. He played into that classic cliché and attracted even more the badboy image.

And Hollywood likes that image and will exploited for all its worth, until the actor does something that causes him or her trouble with the law (just look at the skid that has effected Tom Sizemore over the last few years). Renfro's departure from mainstream film making over the years may be in part his choice, but producers (and their backers) and directors don't like actors with troubles in their private life. Filmmaking is a costly business, and set backs by actors private lives infringing on time clock, causes them not be used again.

Back in 2005, I blogged about Renfro’s arrest and sort of wondered what his ultimate fate would be. I wrote: “I guess, with Brad Renfro, it all comes down to choices. If he chooses to get help, he can overcome the monkey on his back. If he chooses to shrug it off like an old coat, his fate seems to be headed in the direction of Glenn Quinn or even, sadly, Jonathan Brandis.”

Sad. Rest in peace Brad. May you find happiness somewhere over the rainbow, where you could not find it here.

Troubled former child actor Brad Renfro dies at 25




Celebrity gossip web site TMZ is reporting that Brad Renfro, a gifted actor who shot to fame in the 1994 movie The Client, has been found dead in his Los Angeles hoome today. He was 25.

At this point, no word of what caused his death has been reported, but the actor had a well documented history with drugs, including a heroin addiction. He had numerous run -in' s with the law, including a December 2005 arrest for possesson of heroin. That incident was on top of a tangle with police in November of '05 when he was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor count of DUI and two counts of driving with a suspended license.

He was also arrested in his hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee, when police pulled him over and allegedly found cocaine and marijuana in his pants and socks in June of 1998. Was arrested in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on a grand theft charge for allegedly trying to steal a 45 foot yacht. He and a companion failed to untie the boat from the dock, causing damage to both the boat and the dock in August of 2000. He was sentenced to two years probation and ordered to pay more than $4,000 for repairs on a yacht. While on probation in Florida, he was arrested in May 2001 for underage drinking as car was pulled over. In January of '02 in Knoxville, Renfro was arrested and charged with public intoxication and driving without a license. He was stopped after a traffic violation near his house. He was ordered back to jail for remainder of probation by Florida judge due to his drunk driving arrest in January.

Renfro made a big splash in 1994's The Client, an adaptation of the John Grisham bestseller which also starred Susan Saradnon and Tommy Lee Jones. While the movie was okay, the then 12 year-old stole almost every scene. He also put in another bold performance in Apt Pupil, which was directed by Bryan Singer (and based on the Stephen King novella) which caused some controversary -not only for his cold performance - but behind the scenes when family members of kids who appeared in the film, accused the producers of filming their kids in the nude in a shower scene, when they were told no images would be taken below the waist. He went on to star in the Disney film Tom and Huck with Jonathan Taylor Thomas and then a string of indie films like Tart, Ghost World and Bully.

TMZ reports the young actor had been trying to stay clean after the bust back in December of '05 and had just wrapped The Informers, starring along side Billy Bob Thorton and Winona Ryder.

14 January 2008

Rumblings from the Center


One of the most important questions about my life is: what do you want to do with the rest of your life?

And the sad fact is, I have no idea. I think, maybe, that it lies in helping people. In some ways, its an extension of customer service. But, I'm unsure even if that is really what it means.

Lyly was in the store today, and she asked that question, after hinting that if I wanted to move over to Mira Loma, I should apply.

I know that I have the perfect job for one who works retail. I work a M-F shift, no weekends, no nights. I'm smart enough to know that's what I want to continue. However, I would be stupid if some better job -one that makes me feel alive again - and I turned it down because I have to work nights.

Then again, shoots on Hidden Frontier could go long, like 10 or 12 hours. And they happen on weekends. So go figure.

I have no faith, which maybe my biggest problem. I say I want to leave Borders and retail behind like a bad debt, yet I know I'll still be with Borders come Christmas 2008. It's the anchor that keeps me from going places.

Like my mother, I lack the courage to take chances and see just where that road goes, besides west; where those stairs go, besides up. True, I picked myself up and moved here, to the Golden State. But, beyond the lovely weather -like today - my fortunes remain rather stale, like old perfume.

Move along home, David. Move along.

Duma Key arrives

Also, today, my day was made when this, the advanced copy of Stephen King's newest book, was brought in. I read and love (most) of his novels, and I'm always stoked when ARC arrives. The book is due out next Tuesday, the 22nd of January.

Alas, I won't actually begin it anytime soon, as I'm still reading Crichton's Next. And I usually like to finish one book before I start another.

But got to thank the heavens for this. I really, really appreciate it.

Living Memory

Yesterday, I went and saw my cousin and his family in Murrietta, about an hour south of me. His parents where in from Texas, and I had not seen my aunt and uncle for over two years.

My aunt is a cut up and one of the nicest, caring people you can know. My uncle, who had a harsh upbringing, but never seems to let that stop him from telling a great, and often funny story about the time. He is, to me also, the museum of my father's life. I've mentioned before how he's told me stories of my late father, and he usually does it with so much love and respect.

Last night he told at story about how my mom and dad (not yet married) and them had traveled to Niagra Falls for the weekend on the train. And because sleeping cars cost extra, they sat across from each other -legs touching legs - on the overnight trip. They were, of course, exhausted by sitting up all night and by the time they actually got to the Falls, they were tired, but he said they still had a great time.

My aunt then told a story about how my dad gave their daugther Nancy a St. Christopher's medal. Auntie said that Nancy was maybe, at most nine months old. My dad loved kids - something I inherited from him - and seemed to adore Nancy. He asked Auntie -knowing that she was not Catholic - if he could pin that medal to her crib. Of course, my aunt said yes.

But these people -who are not biologically my realtives, but I've known them all my life - represent the living history of a my father I never knew. Mom has told stories, but it was never in such detail. Both seemed to love my father very deply, and I think they miss him as much as I do.

I aslo heard the tales of how my mother really has become the person she resented all her life: her father. When she was visting auntie back in September, she apparently did not want to do anything that came clsoe to dribing more than 10 miles.

Mom hates flying, so they travel by car. Everywhere. So when she got to Texas, and auntie suggested that they go here, and mom would ask how far away it was and auntie would say an hour, mom would say she didn't travel all this way in her car just to do more traveling in a car.

I'm unsure what she expected to happen.

My brother has become that way too, as he does not like to travel more than 10 miles from his home. It appears to be too much effort.

Reminds me of the line in A League of Thier Own. Jon Lovitz's character, the lovable, but sarcastic scout, is trying to lure a pitcher away from her small town life. They're at the train station and the poor girl is sad to leave and is hesitating. Lovitz's line, fustrated at the dwindling time, says: "See, the train moves, not the station."

I think my mom has become that. She rather have it come to her, than she go to. Which is why she'll never sell that house in Illinois and move some place where it's warmer, cheaper and be around people her age.

12 January 2008

11 January 2008

Why the GOP will find itself locked out of the White House

While some might see this as nothing, this split among the social republicans and conservative ones will probably all but doom the GOP from taking the WH.



TGIF?

I was thinking that I needed some witty comment about my week, being Friday and all. I mean, there's got to be something to report that someone might find interesting to read.

Beyond taking Monday off, I've got to say another week of my life has passed like so much dead leaves in a river. I'm lazy, I now realize. I want so much, but find I really don't have the will or the energy to go get it.

So, here's how bad I've gotten. On Friday nights, I pull out some my DVD's and watch two episodes of Arrested Development, an episode of Veronica Mars and then Wonderfalls.

See, I've created my own primetime schedule. Of course, its pathetic, but then that's the way the cookies crumble.

09 January 2008

This and nothing


For some reasons, even though I lived alone for over a decade, when Bill is gone for a few days, this place is kind of creepy. I cannot put my finger on how or why, but I just feel weird being here all by myself. And its not like I feel the place has anything wrong with it, no ghosts or what not. And as long as there's no earthquake, this house does not shift or may odd noises.

When the avacado tree was up inbetween the two houses, you would occasionally here the thump , and then the quick role of them as they fell off their branch. But while at times that could be a bit disconcerting, it was never scary.

My cold, by the way, seems to be on the way out. At least I hope. I started feeling hinky on 12/31, and now its the 9th. So, about average length for me. On the scale of colds, this was rather mild. So, I got nothing to complain about. Still, I should be cautious, as we keeping passing this bug around like Halloween candy at work.

Quiet day, week, month so far. Filming continues on The Helena Chronicles 1.02 this Saturday -which may turn out to be a long day. But the good part: it should be warm and sunny. Temps in the 70's in January. Got to love California just for this.

Went and looked at a new bike today. I think I found what I want, now I got to figure out how to pay for it. Well, out of the $500 for it, $250 is covered by Bill's Christmas giftcard to me and the 50 bucks Mom and Dad sent to me.

I'm going to buy it, I guess. Just got to figure out how to pay off the balance.

Oh well, that's the way the world goes.

07 January 2008

More doom and gloom for Borders?

Mike Shatzkin of Publishers Weekly has published what he calls 15 Trends of 2008 that he sees for the book industry. Eight and nine seem very interesting for people like me who work for Borders.

No big surprise, I might add, but alas...


8. B&N will continue to leverage the book trade’s most sophisticated supply chain to lengthen its lead over Borders and all other bricks-and-mortar retailers. (I should disclose that I have consulted with B&N on supply-chain matters; I’ve never worked for Borders. I have no inside sales or financial information about either company).

9. The lack of a competitive supply-chain infrastructure will continue to handicap Borders, hurting both sales and profits. This will lead to a change of ownership control and yet another new plan to revitalize the nation’s number-two bookseller.

American Idol winners find hard luck after winning, as record label drops recent winners

While I would not say Fox TV’s American Idol is in any danger of going away, I am fascinated by the fact that recent winners of the show have had major issues with their label -hello, Kelly Clarkson, or have been dropped by their labels. Both Ruben Studdard and Taylor Hicks got bad news for Christmas, as J Records has kicked them out the door.

Out of the six cycles the game show has gone through, not one of the winners has been able to sustain any sort of momentum. Of course, one would suspect that while these contestants can sing, they have no talent when it actually comes to writing songs. With exception of a few, most of the winners of the game show have songs written for them, and they’re groomed like dog for a wide, demographic audience. And its not the singer who propels the a song, it’s the words of that song people really care about.

While any singer would like to reach a huge audience, most find niches and in those niches, some moderate success - such as runner-up Chris Daughtry (who is taken, it seems, more seriously as a musician than a contestant on a game show) and Carrie Underwood, who’s had some success in the always light country/pop sound.

Sometimes, trying to find that broad-based audience can kill you; narrow it, and find success.

Plus, music is a very fickle business and American’s have short attention spans. They quickly forget who won before. So American Idol becomes not about choosing a great singer, but a pop cultural phenomena to be discussed in internet chat rooms and at work the next day. So with the seventh cycle to begin next week, to me then the game show is not about a talented singer winning a contact with a major music label, but just something to talk about over lunch -cause heaven forbid we have any actual conversation that broadens the mind.

06 January 2008

Huckabee on Meet the Press

Good old Mikey Huckabee said today on Meet the Press. Tim Russert asked him about his book and his comment on homosexuality.

Transcript:

RUSSERT: Peggy Noonan, a woman of faith who writes for The Wall Street Journal, said that sometimes it appears your philosophy is "This is what God wants," and that doesn't encourage discussion, it squelches it. And, and this is what you wrote in your book, "Kids Who Kill," in 1998: "It is now difficult to keep track of the vast array of publicly endorsed and institutionally supported aberrations--from homosexuality and pedophilia to sadomasochism and necrophilia." Why would you link homosexuality with sadomasochism, pedophilia and necrophilia?

HUCKABEE: Well, what I was pointing out is all of these are deviations from what has been the traditional concept of sexual behavior and men and women having children, raising those children in the context of a, of a traditional marriage and family. And, again, taken out of the larger context of that book, speaking about how so many of our social institutions have been broken down.

RUSSERT: But do you think homosexuality is equivalent to pedophilia...

HUCKABEE: Oh, of course not.

RUSSERT: ...or sadomasochism?

HUCKABEE: No, of course not. I didn't say...

RUSSERT: But this is what concerns people. This, this is what you did say about homosexuality: "I feel homosexuality is an aberrant, unnatural and sinful lifestyle." That's millions of Americans.

HUCKABEE: Tim, understand, when a Christian speaks of sin, a Christian says all of us are sinners. I'm a sinner, everybody's a sinner. What one's sin is, means it's missing the mark. It's missing the bull's eye, the perfect point. I miss it every day; we all do. The perfection of God is seen in a marriage in which one man, one woman live together as a couple committed to each other as life partners. Now, even married couples don't do that perfectly, so sin is not some act of equating people with being murderers or rapists...

RUSSERT: But when you say aberrant or unnatural, do you believe you're born gay or you choose to be gay?

HUCKABEE: I don't know whether people are born that way. People who are gay say that they're born that way. But one thing I know, that the behavior one practices is a choice. We may have certain tendencies, but how we behave and how we carry out our behavior--but the important issue that I want to address, because I think when you bring up the faith question, Tim, I've been asked more about my faith than any person running for president. I'm OK with that. I hope I've answered these questions very candidly and very honestly. I think it's important for us to talk about it. But the most important thing is to find out, does our faith influence our public policy and how? I've never tried to rewrite science textbooks. I've never tried to come out with some way of imposing a doctrinaire Christian perspective in a way that is really against the Constitution. I've never done that.

So, this is their way of not actually being called homophobes, cause like the the phrase "love the sinner, hate the sin" the conservatives motto also becomes: "Your actions are sin and thus we can judge you on them."

Nice.

Jerk.

Protecting and Maintaining Your Heterosexual House of Cards

Very funny

Rain continues...

What a gloomy fraken day here.

After a Friday night where it rained, and the wind blew Saturday turned out to be somewhat of a nice day. Cloudy, cool and damp, but rain free. By the time I left Rob and Beo's after filming on episode two of The Helena Chronicles, it was raining again. But, as I've learned with living in Southern California, rain can be widely spread.

As I drove away from the studio and got about a mile away onto south bound Lake Street, the rain stopped. And it was dry when I got hom at 9.

Today, it started gloomy, cloud and cool. But I saw some sun poking through the ironed gray clouds. Which lasted for about 10 minutes. I went over to Starbucks to sit and enjoy a mocha and start reading Michael Crichton's Next.

Came home and just sat on my ass the rest of the day. It started raining again at about 2, and looking at the radar, we still have a few more hours of this stuff.

I feel depressed, much like it always happens in the winter and the weather becomes this dull. Of course, back in Illinois, these grey days can go on and on. Here in SoCal, those gloomy days are not long, but I've got used to those sunny days.

This would've been a perfect day to get really caught up on some reading, but I could not be motivated. Movie? Still want to see Juno, but again, I'm not motivated.

We need the rain, I guess. But on a weekend, when I'm off, its a pain in the ass.

I wonder where I can get some motivation ?

Best music of 2007 -Part 1

I have a small cirlce of friends, though since moving to the LA area over two years ago, it's gotten bigger. Still, there are few of my friends that I could say those true-in-the-dye friends, the ones who accept you for all your faults (and will tell you what they are, BTW, but never in any cruel sort of way) and love you no matter what.

One friend in Chicago, has truly been that. And yet, I guess, I never realized that until I left Illinois. His name is Marc, and he hold a very special place in my heart for many reasons others do not. He is tall, gregarious guy with a smile and dimples that light up any room he's in. He is smart beyond anything, and loves music like I like chocolate; he needs it everyday.

At the end of the year, one thing I look forward to his thoughts on what was the best music of the year. Now his taste goes all over the place, as he is a true connoisseur. And because he knows what I like, he generally keeps me in the loop for new and upcoming bands, guys and girls who are producing music that means something.

While I appreciate and support singer/songwriters more than anything else, I do like a bands that try to step out of the box of top 40 pop music.

Anyways, here is his list for the best of (which I think is more real than anything any magazine puts out):

Best Albums:

The Editors – An End Has a Start. I feel like I found a new band that I will now follow until the end. Such a great, emotional, alt rock epic. Fans of Kitchens of Distinction (almost identical but in the best way!), Snow Patrol, U2, and Coldplay will have a new favorite.

Nicole Atkins/Neptune City – Like Mama Cass produced by Goldfrapp and Amy Winehouse. Gorgeous!!! If you don’t have this, get it now.

Roscoe/The Trials of Van Occupanther – An odd mix of indie rock and 70’s era Fleetwood Mac. Can’t explain but it totally works. Great chillout CD.

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss/Raisin’ Sand – Who knew their colaboration would work? Sounds closer to Zep’s mellower output than anything Plant has done in his sketchy solo career. Completely works.

Reminder/Feist – Can she top her brilliant debut. Yes. Can’t imagine what Leslie has left in her after 2 near flawless CDs.

Ryan Adams/Easy Tiger – His best CD since Heartbreaker. It’s what we want from Ryan: sadness put to an alt country sound. High, high lonesome.

Lori McKenna/Unglamorous – I feel the way about this Nashville singer/songwriter that many feel about Patty Griffin. She pours so much emotion into her complicated yet indentifiable songs. Best song: I Know What Your Next Love Will Be Like…about imagining your recent breakup falling in love with someone new. Been there!

Once Soundtrack/Glen Hansard – Like Sweeney Todd, you have to see the film to fully get the impact of this tender collection. Near flawless. Even better than the music from his day job, The Frames. And I love The Frames.

Tracey Thorn/Out of the Woods – I knew her solo outing would be wonderful. She could sing the McDonalds menu and I’d swoon. But this was beyond expectation. More Tracey, we need more.

Matt Nathanson/Some Mad Hope – I wish Matt wasn’t lumped in with all the frat boy pop (Howie Day, etc) which keeps him from some more serious fans, but hopefully this will broaden his already strong base. Every song could be a single on this pop rock masterpiece. The best: Wedding Dress. Now if someone will just tack this song onto the end of a Grey’s episode, he’d be set!

Paul Oakenfold/Greatest Hits and Remixes – This is unexpected since I was never a massive fan, but this collection featuring some really great old school mixes from Underworld, Mansun, Dirty Vegas, Radiohead, Olive and the quintessial version of EBTG’s Missing (2007) is just staggeringly fun. Look for the unmixed version available for download online. It has extra tracks done under his Perfecto moniker.

To be continued...

04 January 2008

It's raining....a lot

It's been raining since about 2 this afternoon, but it didn't start really coming down until after the day light faded into a winter's night.

As I sit writing this, I can hear it coming down like some one's left the faucet running. This is suppose to be 1 of 3 major low fronts to pass through the area this weekend, were it could dump 3 to 5 inches of rain and over 10 feet of snow in the moutains.

This could be the most significant storm to hit the southern California since January of 2005. It certainly going to make up for last years lack of rain fall. Sort of.

Still, the warnings are out about possible landslides, especially over in Orange County, where in October and November, wild fires destroyed a lot of land (and homes).

So, while the rain is needed, this punch of wet weather could also be more of problem.

Arrggg.

Venture Bros. Season 4


Cast photo for the upcoming (June) fourth season of The Venture Bros.

Gosh, I love this show.

03 January 2008

Scary Huckabee wins Iowa polls; America doomed?

So, Mike Huckabee has won Iowa.

I cannot see how this will not but help the democrats. Not since Ronald Regan has this president (or maybe, in reality, Karl Rove), turned the Republican party into fanitical, religious zealots. As they continue to use fear mongering and blantent disreguard for our constitution, the 2008 election is coming down to a holy war. But it'll not be fundamentalist Islam. No, my children, al Queda will take American lives, but what Bush started, Huckabee intends to continue: they are out to steal the nation, eliminate the middle class, destroy the constitution and, in the end, our democracy.

Still, I think the more moderate Republicans (like my housemate) and, especially, the independents, will be turned off by Huckabee and will further drive them away. So, in a way, this can only help the democrats, like Obama, who pulled out a win also in Iowa.

What a tangled web Huckabee will weave when he tries to decieve a nation.

Sometimes, I'm just slow


On New Years Eve, while I was sorting through the final shippment of 2007 at work, I kinda felt sluggish, tired. I even told my GM, who was trying to find some Grammy Paperchase stuff, that I just did not want to do this, that I could be home, sleeping.

Then, or course, I was asleep before the New Year.

Yesterday, as I'm about to get off of work, I swallowed -as one is to do - but I realized that it hurt. Then I knew, as my colds usually follow a pattern. One day of feeling awfully tired, followed by a nice day and then the sore throat. I'll have that for about 3 days or so, then the cold will start.

I've got stuff here, including NyQuil -which, by the way, gives me weird dreams. I also have my Airborne, so while the cold will come, maybe I can lessen it.

And, I should not be surprised. Everyone at work has been sick, so my time was due. And getting a cold once, maybe twice a year is not bad. And since I rarely get the flu, or even really sick -gosh, I cannot remember when I've been struck by the stomach flu (knock wood) -I'm not that bothered by it.

Still, it will make Saturday's shoot problematic. But we'll see what happens in two days.

Rain is due here. They had said as early as tonight, but now its due sometime tomorrow afternoon. It's suppose to be doosey, a lot of rain and snow up in the moutains and the higher elevations of the San Bernardino hills.

But, as always, I won't hold my breath.

I'm also taking Monday off, after discovering I have some 82 hours of personal time and 72 hours of vacation. If I had something to do -and money to go with it - I would take a month off of work!

Still, I need to save some for June and, perhaps (depending on costs), a trip back to Chicago.

But, I'm tired and maybe I can use these days to get somewhere in my job search.

What do tou think?

Enchanted Thursday

02 January 2008

Brothers and Sisters creator forced out at ABC

The demographic police at ABC have struck, forcing the creator of the alphabet networks hit series Brothers and Sisters to leave. Jon Robin Baitz was forced out after fighting an apparent losing battle with the execs at ABC over the direction of the series. The writer cites, via two posts on The Huffington, that ABC demanded Baitz to steer the show away from the older-skewing characters and more dramatic stories in favor of the younger cast, and more soapier stories.

Baitz says "I can... only watch as the demographic demands that have turned America into an ageist and youth-obsessed nation (that) drives the storylines younger and younger, whiter and whiter, and with less and less reflection of the real America. I will never again have to do a notes call wherein the fear and seasickness of the creative execs always prevail over taking a risk, resulting more often than not in muddy and flattening or treacly sweet compromises."

While I have only watched the show from time-to-time, Baitz comments, however, strike true where network TV is concerned. It believes that American’s want multiple CSI’s, wants to watch brain damaging programs as American Idol and Dancing with the Stars and thinks the deepest show they can truly appreciate is According to Jim.

With his departure, Brother and Sisters is almost sure to lose a chunk of its audience, which ABC seems not care about anyways. It will become a sad caricature where the older characters will become less and less important, and probably become more stupid and prosaic.

And while some may consider Baitz a disgruntled former employee (he’ll retain his Executive Producer credit) for his rants about his departure from ABC and Brothers and Sisters, we all need to understand that TV is facing a dark time. People claim that they watch shows like American Idol and Dancing with the Stars because they’ve had a hectic day, and watching any show that challenges the mind, the soul even, is just too hard.

In some ways, the WGA has blessed me. I will not watch any of the reality programs the networks will role out between now and September (because, essentially, the TV season is over with) because I understand what is at stake here.

Baitz adds "I cannot help but dream about what my version of Brothers and Sisters would have looked like. A show that could simply hold on the aging and real face of Sally Field, and reflect the sorrow and rage there... reflect the cold and funny sexuality of Patty Wettig's Holly, the perfect reconstruction of the L.A. mistress... hold on the eyes of Ron Rifkin, and reflect the wisdom, joyous childishness and the melancholy. A show [that] could have followed the youngest, prodigal son to Iraq [and] shown his fellow soldiers, dying... allowed Calista Flockhart's character to be actually truly political... go even further in dealing with Kevin Walker's internalized homophobia and his fear of contact with others."

01 January 2008

Reading by the light of Stephen King

With the WGA strike making TV even more prosaic, I've decided that reading will also fill my 2008.

In one of his last articles for EW for 2007, Stephen King gave his top 10 books of the year. I think, beyond the ones I already have stacked near me, I'll try to read most of them. I respect King, and have been reading his works since 1980 (though to this day, I cannot even begin The Tommyknockers).

So far, I've read one of those titles, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. There are a few others I was already interested in before this issue came out, and they include Dan Simmons historical superntaural novel The Terror (now out in QP), Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon, who wrote two of favorites: Wonder Boys and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.

He also recomends The Ghost by Robert Harris, Fieldwork by Mischa Berlinski, Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo (I still have Empire Falls yet to read by him), Hollywood Station by Joseph Wambaugh, The Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson and Twilight by William Gray.

I'm unsure if I can get to them, plus the ones I already have here, but I want to try this year.

Here's what else I want to read:

The nonfiction (which always takes me more time than fiction):

Manhunt by James Swanson
The Glorious Cause by Robert Middlekauff
Orson Wells, Volume 2: Hello Americans by Simon Callow
Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson
The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman
Collapse by Jared Diamond

Fiction:

Darkmans by Nicola Barker
Next by Michael Crichton

Of course, this list does not include other titles that will be published in 2008. Stephen King has a new one out January 22 alone.

So with the fall TV season probably more than over, and with only a few new shows I want to watch (The Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles) and the returning (and only 8 episodes) of Lost, if I can turn off the computer, I may actually get to some of them.

And, of course, I got to do all the other things I want to do in 2008.

Jebus, it's going to be fun.

It's my Life

Hopefully, I will be doing something next New Years.

I've decided to make 2008 MY YEAR. It's time to put away my disappointments with the way life has gone for me. It's time to stop playing the victim. It's time for me to let go.

I'm not sure how I'll do this, but I will DO what needs to be done to get my life back on the right path of happiness.

Out there, not too far away, is my life. I want it back and it can only be better. I've hit the low point in my life and now the highs, the ones that have eluded me for so long -because I was blind to them -will be with in my grasp.

Amen.