31 December 2008

Candy Everybody Wants - New Years Eve Edition




Goodbye troubled 2008, hello a better 2009?

Happy New Year!!!!

30 December 2008

Lost Promo



Yes, I cannot wait for its return!

My friend Pete and his son Hayden


Pete Merrick
1977-2008

Though it had been three years since I last saw you,
I know I'll miss you the rest of my life.

28 December 2008

Books read in 2008

01. Next -Michael Crichton
02. Duma Key -Stephen King
03. V -The Second Generation -Kenneth Johnson
04. Blaze -Richard Bachman (AKA Stephen King)
05. Then We Came to the End - Joshua Ferris
06. Company -Max Barry
07. Heart-Shaped Box -Joe Hill
08. New Wilderness -Brian S. Matthews
09. City on the Currents -Brian S. Matthews
10. The Yiddish Policeman’s Union -Michael Chabon
11. How I Paid for College -Marc Acito
12. Attack of the Theater People -Marc Acito
13. Darkmans -Nicole Barker
14. Bad Monkeys - Matt Ruff
15. An Arsonists Guide to Writers' Homes in New England -Brock Clarke
16. The Accidental Time Machine -Joe Haldeman
17. Playing for Pizza -John Grisham
18. The Ghost -Robert Harris
19. Dead Until Dark -Charliane Harris
20. Living Dead in Dallas -Charliane Harris

Not one nonfiction book on this list, though I gave the college try to The World is Flat. I'll finish it, but probably not until 2009. Pop fiction took over the list this year, though there was a few attempts at some literary titles. Still, I have bunch more pop fiction sitting besides me, along with a bunch of nonfiction history books.

I'm wondering if 2009 will be more of a reading year, as I spend less and less time in front of the TV (though I spend way too much time on the internet), because it sucks so much.

Books: Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris

The supernatural romance novels that feature vampires -once only a sub-culture of the romance genre - has recently gotten huge boost recently, thanks to the success of the Twilight saga. One could argue that this genre has been around much longer, and written much better than the Stephanie Meyers series, but I digress.

Then add on the success of True Blood, the HBO series developed by Alan Ball, and based on these novels, has made Charlaine Harris’ Southern vampire tales just as popular.

What sets, maybe, these books different from the rest, is that Harris has kind of put a new bent on the tired vampire genre that made Anne Rice a household name. It’s vampire story alright, but it’s also part thriller, part detective story (both for the guys, maybe?), with a heavy dose of parody (which I like), and some romance (really for the girls).

Living Dead in Dallas, book two, begins with the death of Lafayette Reynolds, the openly gay cook of Merlotte's Bar, where Sookie Stackhouse works. Now while Bon Temps, Louisiana is a small rural town, there does seem to be a lot of deaths and while Reynolds was found in Sheriff Andy Bellefleur’s police car (Andy had gotten drunk the night before and left his car in the lot), and they did not get along, Sookie is sure Andy had nothing to with the man’s death.

But before she can begin to find out -by using her mind reading abilities - she and boyfriend Vampire Bill are on there way to Dallas as hired help to solve some crimes. It is there, that Sookie runs up against the local anti-vampire club, The Fellowship of the Sun. Trying to find a connection between the Dallas vampires and Fellowship brings Sookie into conflict that could kill her.

This is a much stronger book than first, if only because Harris does not have to set up the whole universe she’s created. Still, I’m unsure how to take her stance on gay people. Lafayette was gay and gets killed, there is a gay vampire named Farrell (who Sookie was looking for in Dallas), who was lead to the Fellowship by another gay vampire, the an ancient -and still looking like he was sixteen -Godfrey. The point is, I guess, Farrell was only into young guys -twinks they would be called in the gay sub-culture - and I find that Harris uses that stereotype to advance the story. I did not like that.

Almost all her characters in Bon Temps seem to dislike gays (which could be the stereotype also, but it comes across rather muddled if that’s her intent), including her bed-hopping brother. All of which seems disingenuous, as Harris went out of her way to make the Stackhouse clan more tolerant to people outside the norm.

But maybe I’m just being sensitive.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and will probably continue to read the series well into 2009. But I need a break, so I’ll take something else next.

27 December 2008

Candy Everybody Wants



Doctor Who Christams Special 2008: The Next Doctor

I'm unsure what to say about The Next Doctor. Personally, I'm getting less and less impressed with Russell T Davies as the series has grown in popularity outside of the UK. Instead of interesting stories that made the first season of revived series so good, further under Davies tenure the show has gotten rather silly. Of course, its a kids show (as some will say), but if it is, then what is The Sarah Jane Chronicles? This version of Who is suppose to be somewhere between Sarah Jane and Torchwood, but I've always felt Who should be more like Torchwood than Sarah Jane. But under RTD tenure, the show has become somewhat boring -much like what happened during the final years of JNT's time.

This new take on Doctor Who has left some of the best elements of TOS -the dark tales and equally dark humor - and made the show somewhat simplistic. It's become the same thing as American TV, full of sound and fury, but ultimately dull and pointless.

The one thing that saves this show -and unlike most of its American cousins, is the acting. David Tennant shines, as always, in the role of the Doctor, while guest star David Morrissey proves to be just as competent. Velilie Tshabalala proves she is just as tough as most of the series female companions, along with Dervla Kirwan as Miss Hartigan. These female characters are RTD's strength, btw.

Beyond that, the episode proves rather pedantic, with (for the fourth Christmas Special year in a row) the Doctor battling robots, though this time its the rather potentially good bad guys, Cybermen. And while the story has some rather interesting aspects at times, however, it makes me hark back to the first season, when all things looked new and show had so much potential. But then final 15 minutes happens, and it quickly becomes a retread of the ending of The Runaway Bride.

How disappointing is that?

24 December 2008

Merry Christmas


MERRY CHRISTMAS

To all who celebrate the holiday, may it be filled with much joy and laughter.

22 December 2008

Books: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris


What is our fascination with vampires? Since Dracula, the myths and legends of vampires has grown. Never a huge fan of vampire novels (though I adored Angel on TV, which was spun off from Buffy The Vampire Slayer), especially after the rise of Anne Rice, and more recently, the melodrama of Laurel Hamilton.

I’ve avoided reading books with them, if only because I found them boring and predictable. Maybe that’s while I like Christopher Moore’s take on vampires (Bloodsucking Fiend and You Suck, with a cameo in A Dirty Job) and the forthcoming Fool) and not the vampire love stories that are dime a dozen (and growing exponentially) in the romance section of Borders. Apparently, women find vampires attractive (and probably a subset of gay men).

Which, of course, explains the success of the Twilight book series and now movie.

But I digress.

Enter Sookie Stackhouse, the mid-twenties hero of mystery writer Charlaine Harris’ first vampire novel, Dead Until Dark. It’s a breezy, no nonsense take on the vampire lore with believable and well crafted characters. It is, by far, not going to win any awards for literature, but it’s a fun read and one can finish in a few hours.

The premise is murky, but apparently vampires have been living amongst us for generations, and now that a Japanese company has created a synthetic blood substitute, vampires have “come out” so to speak, and are now unliving around humans. One vampire has decided to move back to his small town in Louisiana, where he encounters Sookie, who saves him from a couple who drain vampires.

Now vampire Bill (yep, no poetically named vampires here) is a first mad at Sookie, but realizes that the waitress does possess a secret that intrigues him. But before their romance can start, Sookie becomes the target of a killer who is taking the lives of women who’ve had relationships with vampires.

Harris creates some wonderfully flawed characters here and that’s, perhaps, one of the better reasons to continue reading the series.

This book series, also, is being used as the premise for the HBO series True Blood.

21 December 2008

How do you justify this?

You know, the social conservatives out there claim that atheism, agnostics and gay people are ruing religion in America.

But we never ever would do shit like this:

An East Texas couple appeared in a Rusk County court this morning, accused of bludgeoning a 13-month-old girl to death with a hammer.

Investigators say it was the most gruesome scene involving a child they had ever seen.

According to the arrest report, Carson “admitted to Ranger Kenny Ray that she was present when the defendant performed an exorcism of the demons possessing the body of their child, Amora Bain Carson. The defendant went on to say after her husband killed the baby, they drove to Henderson to a pawnshop to pawn items to pay for an exorcism service and officers were able to confirm those transactions.



Shortest


Today was the Winter Solstice, which meant it was the shortest day (as in day light) and tonight the longest night. The good thing, from tomorrow on, the days grow longer. Unfortunately, you won't really notice the days getting longer until late February and then, the first weekend of March we go to Daylight Savings.

I like the extra hour of sleep and I like the extra hour of daylight. So, while I can't have my cake and eat it too, I still wish both worked where I did not lose an hour sleep and spend nearly seven months sleep deprived.

I was over at Davey Wavey's site today and him and his guest talked about New Years Resolutions. I don't usually make then, if only because I'm genetically inclined to be a procrastinator. Well, that's my story anyways.

But as the New Year approaches, I do ponder what -if anything - I can and should do to improve my health. While I'm not fat, I'm filling out more and more. I lack motivation, of course, which makes me realize I need someone to push me to do some exercise.

Plus, with my concave chest, how much can I really flatten my belly?

Anyways, I'm preparing a list (I hope) that I'll present in 10 days hence as what 2009 will be for me. In meantime, just remember while winter has just begun, the days -eventually - grow longer and the cold breath of the arctic will slide back north and the next thing you know it will be spring.

Trust me.

Weekend Update

As winter officially began to day, Sunday turned out to be the nicest and warmest day in little over a week. Strange, really. Still, we never reached 68, which is the normal, average temp during this time of year, but you know, I'll go with it.

Saturday I spent just lounging around the house, really doing nothing. I read, listened to some music and eventually went to the store for some food for the official HFP Holiday party. At Rob and Beo's, a good time was had as food and drink went around. There was Twister game going on in the studio, where the web cam is and about 10 or so HF fans watched the fun; Jenn hosted What Where They Thinking game, Star Trek Edition.

I saw Stephen there for the first time since Adam's birthday, and he looked good. I'm still concerned for his health after his accident several months ago. It appears after he fainted and hit his head at the doctors office, he more or less suffered some brain damage, as he said. It seems most of it is his dizziness and migraines. I'm guessing he's planning some sorft of legal action, as the doctor apparently did not follow all procedures that seemed to lead to this accident.

But all in all, it was a fun party. Rob had tons of food left over, a plenty of booze. Sharon's husband Rupert -a man of all of 120lbs - got stinking drunk and refunded it into the toliet. And met the adorkable Daniel Chan, who composed the title theme of our Federation One show.

Got home at 2, which is late for me and went to bed right away.

Today I continued my weekend of just lazing around, though I had to do laundry.

My goodness, I lead a life of Riley.

20 December 2008

Days of Christmas Music -Syncsta



Stumbled upon Jake and Chris, these UK based boys about a year and half ago, and have enjoyed their lip-syncing to popular songs. They're very creative, kind of adorkable but they're obviously are the best mates anyone would want. After about a year of no new vids (Jake went into ,ilitary service), they're back.

So enjoy.

18 December 2008

Candy Everybody Wants



Passage: Majel Barrett-Roddenberry

It was announced today that Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, the wife of legendary Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry has passed away at the age of 76 from leukemia. Her son Rod was reported to be at her side.

Barrett-Roddenberry appeared on the original Star Trek pilot, The Cage where she played the role of Number One. That role was not continued into the series when it was picked up, but Barrett-Roddenberry changed her hair color and became nurse Christine Chapel. She also appeared in Star Trek: The Voyage Home, where she reprisesed her role. For Star Trek: The Next Generation Barrett-Roddenberry portrayed the Betazoid Lwaxana Troi, mother of counselor Deanna Troi.

She was also the voice of computers on all the recent series, including TNG, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager and the new film, Star Trek due next May.

17 December 2008

More rain, more cool weather, more snow in the high desert, more yucky

After a calm, yet cool day yesterday, the huge low off the coast of California pushed further in, giving us a miserably rainy and cool day. Add on some strong, gusty winds and it made the day even rawer. The 15 at Cajon Pass -the main freeway between us and Las Vegas -has been closed most of the day due to the heavy snow. And the 5, the main way north out of LA (also knows as the Grapevine) has been closed as well.

With Monday's rain and today's, one could say that the fire season is over. Still, you can never count fire season out. This could be all we get and by February or March, be back into it. But, we'll keep our fingers crossed.

Still, it looks like when this rain event ends sometime overnight, it should be nice weather ahead. But nice does not mean warm. It looks like this cool, below normal temps should be with us through Christmas day.

15 December 2008

"I'm William Shatner, I can score anything."

Christmas at Disneyland



On Sunday, I began my year long annual pass at Disneyland. I had been thinking of this for a while, if only because I've never done something like this and I'm fairly close to the theme park, a short 25 miles (though on freeways and byways of SoCal, this sometimes could take long time). Also, some of the people associated with HF Productions have annual tickets, and I thought I could spend time with them and be less of a loner. Of course, I'm also excited about going there by myself, in hopes of exploring the park alone.

I did not buy the whole deal pass -the 365 one. I went with the 215 SoCal one which has blackout dates (I can still go during those times, its just I pay a fee of $40). It gives me most Sundays and almost every weekday. I'm planning to take sometime off in January just to do this (and because I have plenty of vacation time coming to me).

Anyways, it was a fun day. I do enjoy people watching -which is another bonus about going by myself. I saw -of course - two gay boys (which is oxmoronic, considering that probably half of Disney theme park employee's of guys is probably gay) trying to good by not being open about being a couple. But, as they passed by me, I noticed them. They would touch hands as the walked, one would grab it, or they touched pinkies. I saw one just briefly put his hand in the backpocket of his boyfriend. It was kinda cute.

And I've never been to the park during the Christmas holidays, and they really go out for it -I now want to go next Halloween. I loved the way they took the Haunted Mansion and turned it into the Nightmare Before Christmas. We went on the revamped, just opened It's a Small World which was annoying and yet very pretty to look at.

The Toy Story ride turned out to be a blast over at the California Adventure,Park and I always like the Hollywood Tower of Terror, so a good time was had there. I left just before the fireworks -though heard them going off. It made me wonder what the people who do live around there think of that, hearing them every night, 365 time a year.

Left at 9:40, home at 10:10. Pretty good time, if I say so myself.


Storm Clouds over California



The first -and probably the worst (as in rain) - of supposed three storms hitting the coast of California this week. I spent the day yesterday at Disneyland, on a day that promised (according to the news) to be cloudy and chilly, with sprinkles. It ended up be a mostly sunny day, even though it was cool -temps in the upper 50's to low 60's.

However, over night, it began to rain. And it rained pretty steady all day long. It should put a damper on Christmas shoppers at the outside mall I work at. The rain was bad, but it was also a raw, cool day with temps only in the upper 40's. These dark clouds (above) are from my house (the first 2 going west, while the bottom is facing south) when I got home from work, just before the day grew dark.

More rain, and colder weather is due midweek. Snow levels could drop to about a 1,000 feet, which means I could see some the white stuff on my front lawn, and not the on the foothills and mini-mountains of the Angeles National Forest. This is a very rare thing, snow to this level (my town ranges from 1,000 to 1,700 feet), so I'm guessing snow is in my near future.

So, even though winter does not begin until Sunday, the first big storm of that season is making sunny California rather like the rest of the country, cold and wet.

13 December 2008

A 30 Rock Christmas

I do adore this show, and I was rewatching the show online just to get the best line in this past Thursday's episode:

Liz Lemon: "Hey Jack, do you know the Postmaster General?"

Jack Donaghy: "Yes, but we had a falling out over the Jerry Garcia stamp. If I wanted to lick a hippie I'd return Joan Baez' phone calls."

12 December 2008

Some passings of Hollywood actors

Odd, that suddenly we lost so many legends in the last week:

Forrest Ackerman, 92, who coined the phrase sci fi.

Veteran Character actors Paul Benedict, 70, Mr. Bentley on the Jeffersons and Robert Prosky, 77 -way too many films and TV shows to remember.

And then the legendary Van Johnson, 92, who's boyish good looks made him a star in such films as A Guy Named Joe, Brigadoon and The Caine Mutiny.

And one final note, of the passing of Pin-up Queen Bettie Page, who left us at 85.

09 December 2008

And on a pale horse Corruption rode in, and its name was Blagojevich!

I should not be surprised by the politics in my former home state of Illinois. The Democrats have held the state for some 50 years, and while Springfield is our capital, everything that happens in that state must go through Chicago and Cook County.

While I am a bit surprised at today's criminal complaint against Governor Rod Blagojevich, I sit back and wonder, should I? After all, Illinois and Cook County have a long history of fraud.

He's been accused of conspiracy to defraud the State of Illinois and violation of Federal Funds. Plus, he seems to be putting up the soon to be vacated senate seat of incoming President-elect Obama up for sale.

Plus, the wire taps. Oh the wire taps, where he uses the F word like Halloween candy, handing it out on almost everything and everyone. I had rumors after he was elected in 2002 (and where I voted for him) that he was a prick and an idiot, but after I moved away, I sort thought little of him.

Like some, I'm hoping he resigns. Still even if he sets in his heels and lets them impeach him, all the dirty laundry of what he's done is going to come out. It's going to be worse than George Ryan (and will probably make Ryan's stuff look like grade school bullying. Hey, I voted for him also).

I mean, there's his attacks at the Tribune Company (who just filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy) and his unwillingness to help them unless he got something out it; trying to get a Tribune employee, a critic of him, fired.

Yep, politics as usual in Illinois. And you know, the Daley's, both Richard J and Richard M, have had control of the Office of Mayor of Chicago for 40 out the last 55 years. Both have had their critics and rumors of corruption. Still, like any good politician, you let others do your dirty work. Rod was bold, it seems. He did it himself.

Dick Durbin is right when he says the state needs to act fast to have a special election to fill in for President-elect Obama's senate seat. Because while Rod "Fucker" Blagojevich still has the power to put someone in that seat, it will not be credible.




08 December 2008

Weekend stuff

On Saturday, we finished work on episode 2.01 of The Helena Chronicles. It's my second episode (and fourth story) I've directed for the series. While we had Ben, who is relocating in the near future, making his availability in 2009 questionable, we filmed all his sequences for 2.02 and 2.03. In theory, the stuff he did for 2.03 could not actually get released for next 8 to ten months!

It was also the last filming for for 2008. We should resume sometime in mid January on the season opener of Odyssey.

In some ways, I'm glad we're done. We've done filming on almost every weekend in October and November (and the weekend before Thanksgiving, we filmed on both Saturday and Sunday). As much as I complained to myself of not doing something on the weekends before I joined HF Productions, too many weekends filming is also tedious. Being a loner can be a bitch sometime, I guess.

On Sunday, I did what I have been wanting to do for a while, which was to bake cookies. Not for the holiday season we are in, mind you, just because cookies are getting expensive, and I'm bound not to give them up. It's cheaper thank cigarettes, I guess.

Beyond that, it was a typical Sunday, though cool and cloudy here in SoCal.

Storm Chasing

Over on Discovery airs the program Storm Chasers that I like. As the title implies, it’s a series dedicated to people who chase storms in the Midwest, searching for their Holy Grail, the tornado. If I had the money, I would not mind spending a vacation chasing storms. It looks intense and a blast.

Now Storm Chasers could be the “real life” version of the movie Twister. It has the same dichotomy with one group of people, led by renowned scientist and tornado expert Joshua Wurman (played by Bill Paxton in the movie), who do the chasing in hopes of developing better warning systems for areas where tornadoes frequent.

Then there’s Reed Timmer, who is basically the Cary Elwes character in the film. Now Timmer’s a scientist, but he also see’s no harm in making a profit off what he does. So, he’s got his own web site, tornadovideos.net where people can see and networks can buy his footage.

Now, I don’t have a real issue what he does, after all that’s capitalism for you. I just find him annoying in many ways. Yes, he’s attractive in that post graduate-frat-boy-man-child sort of way. He’s fashionable and hip, wearing his cargo pants around his ass and flip-flops on his feet. His T-shirt he generally wears is a size to small for him. He’s got the dimples and perfect cheekbones and perfect teeth. He’s the guy dumb blondes fall for, even if he's losing his hair.

Now he’s a geek for this, I get that. But he is way to self aware that he’s got cameras on him. And he tries, oh how he tries, to make himself sound important. That somehow, what he is, and what he does is so much better and neater than what Wurman does.

He’s one of those guys that when he gets killed by getting too close to a tornado, family and friends will say at least he died doing what he loved.

Oh, such a Lifetime moment we’ll have for him.

Personally, stop trying to show the world how smart you are, because we get it. And its obvious that you think your beautiful, but please stop preening in the camera like some 13 year-old girl who just met Robert Patterson from, like, your all time favorite movie, Twilight.

More tornado footage, less Reed Timmer (and why do I get this flash that young Reed grew up with money, that this whole meteorologist thingy is just a goof, a lark for him?) trying to impress people, or maybe just Joshua Wurman, of his vast knowledge.

05 December 2008

27 Days of Christmas Music, Part 7 -The Christmas Song -Nat King Cole

Dancer?




You Are Dancer



Carefree and fun, you always find reasons to do a happy dance.



Why You're Naughty: That dark stint you had as Santa's private dancer.



Why You're Nice: You're friendly. Very friendly.

01 December 2008