31 December 2006

End of 2006 and the books I read

New Years Eve.

Those pesky resolutions.

Drunks driving on the road -despite the laws.

Anyways, working tomorrow, so no late night for me. Might be in bed before the witching hour.

But, I will get back to jogging. I have too.

01. State of Fear -Michael Crighton
02. Cell -Stephen King
03. Great Influenza - John M. Barry
04. A Dirty Job -Christopher Moore
05. Angels & Demons -Dan Brown
06.The Da Vinci Code -Dan Brown
07. Bad Twin -Gary Troup
08. Map of Bones -James Rollins
09. Icon
10. Valley of the Dolls -Jacqueline Susann
11. Mayflower -Nathaniel Philbrick
12. Gil’s All fright Diner - A. Lee Martinez
13. Shadowmarch -Tad Williams
14. Lisey’s Story -Stephen King
15. Pirates In an Adventure with Communists -Gideon De Foe
16. The Innocent Man -John Grisham

Happy New Year!!!

25 December 2006

24 December 2006

T'was the Night Before Christmas -Clemet Moore

T'was the night before Christmas,
when all through the house Not a creature was stirring, --not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name; "Now, DASHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER and VIXEN! On, COMET! on CUPID! on, DONDER and BLITZEN!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,


Christmas Eve

23 December 2006

Out with the old Dell printer in with a Epson.

I decided to buy a new printer today. Which really surprised me. I mean, really, I've not bought a lot of expensive things since, well, cash is always low, and it wasn't like there was anything wrong with the Dell printer I got when I bought this computer 18 months ago.

I did not realize at the time, was that when I bought the Dell Printer, I could only get ink from Dell. I could not, as the say, run out to Office Max and get some. This pissed me off for a number of reasons. First off, ink is way too expensive - it makes gas look like a deal. While I can understand that Dell likes to make money, but it seems rather short sighted of them. I mean, at $80 bucks, this Epson printer -which does everything my Dell did - is cheap. And I can buy ink right off the shelf. I hate the idea of ordering it online, then waiting, then hoping nothing happens to it in transit.

Plus, I can buy ink on sale. I'm sure Dell would never have a sale. It has a monoploy, why should they?

So, we'll see how this works out. Plus, I can download images from the future didgital camera I intend to buy in the coming months. Of course, my computer has a port for it, but so does, now, the printer. The Dell did not have that!

Anyway, Saturday is coming to a close, as darkness creeps in like a thief. It's cloudy and cool, but they are promising a smashing day for both Christmas Eve and Day; Monday they say it will be in the low 70's.

22 December 2006

Winter Solstice and the final holiday shopping days

Today was the shortest day light day of the year, and the longest night. Generally, I dislike this time of year. The darkness comes early and its cold. While my midwest blood remains thick, there is a chill in the air you cannot ignore.

Still, I won't give up the flip flops.

And here, in Southeren California, the days are always short. Once the sun dips behind the hills, it gets dark very fast. That is when I'm jealous of the folks who live near the ocean. They see the sun until it passes beneath the ocean.

Of course, the days begin to lengthen after today, though it will be at least 6 weeks before you really notice the difference. And the that is good. I like spring -well here anyway - and by mid March, when new Day Light Savings kicks in, the days will go on.

The best part of IPT is that today was my last day dealing with Christmas shoppers. As soon as the store opened this morning, people poured in. The last minute shoppers seem to be growing every year. When I was a kid, Black Friday WAS the day you went shopping, finishing 60 to 70% of it. Then over the next few weeks, you took the time to enjoy the colorful lights, prepare for family and friends and getting ready for their trek to Church.

Now, though, people avoid that day after Thanksgiving, maybe because for years it was a battle; the long lines, the day and half look for a parking space. And over the last few years, retail stores have panicked, and to draw folks in, started putting things on sale. Its worked, so now more people wait.

But they have very little patience, as do I.

I will admit, I hate chaos, which is no big surprise to people who know me. All these folks running around with only bits of information and expect us to solve their problems. But this just adds to my anxieties. I mean, how do you go out shopping for that special present for what ever relative or friend, with only the merest of information?

It's one of the reasons why I have to get out of retail. After 26 years, I'm burned out. I can no longer tolerate the idoicy of people and a company that will almost throw its cash registers open and ask for an honor system just so its convient for the customer.

Sadly, after working in retail for so many years, this holiday means very little to me. But there is a host of other reasons, beyond that. But, I will be glad when I return to work on Tuesday, that all the madness will be over.

It's still busy, as returns, those lovely gift cards that need to redeemed ASAP and calendars that are half price drive people into the store, but its like a balloon that has lost most of its air. The tension and fustration is gone, replaced with a more slower pace. It's like a summer day after a brief summer thunderstorm.

Of course, the realization is that if I don't get a new job by next Christmas, I will be working Christmas Eve, something I've not done in years.

Oh, boy.

Hunk on a Friday

Proof that God has favorites.

And I'm not one of them.

21 December 2006

The Center Cannot Hold

It's time to put my money where my mouth is, as Rob has finally agreed to let me direct an episode of Hidden Frontier. Starting this January -almost a year after meeting the cast and crew of HF - I'll helm the penultimate episode, The Center Cannot Hold. I've been dropping hints for weeks, and at the Christmas party last week, I think he finally thought it was time to let me do it.

Beo will AD for me, what a sweetheart.

I'm totally excited about this, and a bit scared. After watching all the directors of HF, Jenn, Risha, JT, Adam, I've learned a great deal from them, especially JT. As a real actor and director, he knows people and their motives and moods. After reading the script, I got some ideas of what I want to do, without getting too "first time director" crazy.

There's some action, but witht eh aide of both JT, Rob and Beo, I'm hoping not to come off too much of an ass.

Rob will helm the final episode, as he did with the series opener. That promises to be the most complex -and probably longest episode - of the entire series, with 7.07 and 7.08 coming in close to 2 hours (The Center Cannot Hold should run about 40 minutes, while 7.08 is rumored to run a little over an hour).

Like 7.05/7.06, these two episodes will film together, but Rob hopes to have my episode ready for the official wrap party -and final day of shooting - on April 28.

09 December 2006

The Myth of The War on Christmas

The way I see it, religious conservatives are trying to cast themselves as the oppressed victims of secular tyrants. I’m not saying there are some extremists out in this scary world who are trying to separate religion from -well, almost anything. But they are just a bunch of damn crybabies, and should -who ever they may be - just shut up.

There, is in fact, no war on Christmas. This myth of a war is assembled like a Frankenstein monster out of old reactionary images, urban legends, exaggerated anecdotes and increasing hostility to the American Civil Liberties Union. (I believe one of these "entertainers" on FOXNews accused the ACLU - a establishment set up to defend our civil liberties - of being a "terrorist" organization. Hope they won’t need them to protect their civil rights in the future). My research showed that as far back as the 1920's, Henry Ford went on and on about Jews stealing Christmas, while the John Birch Society, formed in the late 1950s, tried to do the same during the Cold War. Both stirred little importance to stop people from shopping. Besides, Birch’s philosophy was considered too extreme even for conservative Barry Goldwater in his 1964 presidential campaign. Those Birchers were denied working on his campaign, as they carried too much of a taint (and if my memory serves me right, Birch also thought that the adding of fluorination to water was part of a "Red" plot to poison America's brains).

Of course, Birch and Henry Ford did not have access to a major television network.

But, sometimes this myth that can be self-fulfilling, as FOXNews will point out ad nauseam. There are school boards and local politicians who believe the false conservative claim that they can't celebrate Christmas without getting sued by the ACLU and thus have jettisoned traditions, which have enraged these citizens, thus perpetuating this culture-war attitude and furthering the myth of an anti-Christmas conspiracy.

In order to prove there is some conspiracy, Gibson and O'Reilly (and others like them) gather these anecdotes from around the country. Some of these are exaggerated, some legitimate, but none support their paranoid claims of a vast secular-humanist conspiracy (melding of concrete documentation and wild speculation is common to conspiracy theorists, by the way).

And, dear Christians (of which I was baptised as), since when does the true meaning and spirit of Christmas have anything to do with retail stores? What does it matter what a Target/Wal-Mart/Macy's clerk says to you? It's not like Jesus was born, and his first words were "Rejoice and be merry - oh, and there is a huge sale at The Pottery Barn." If this holiday is so fragile that two words are all it takes for it to "come under attack", then I think our holiday (and our religion, for that matter) has bigger problems.

Call me when they start shooting Christians in the streets of America every day for being just that. Then, I’ll accept there is a war going on.

Merry Christmas.

05 December 2006

ABC moves Lost to 10pm

ABC is shoring up its Wednesday night line up this January in preparation for the return of Lost on February 7. The alphabet net will outfit the night with a comedy block starting January 3 with back-to-back episodes of veteran sitcoms According to Jim at 8pm, followed by two new shows, The Knights of Prosperity and In Case of Emergency. George Lopez returns January 24, bumping Jim back to 8pm.

This means when Lost returns, it will be in the 10pm slot (its third timeslot change in as many years), safely away from, it seems, FOX’s American Idol and even CBS’ Criminal Minds, which beat Lost a few times during its fall run. The move to 10 will also solve ABC’s other problem, which was the viewer fall-off from Lost’s lead-in, and there is hope, also, that by moving the show to the last hour of prime time it will also have a less competition, as it will air opposite CBS’ CSI: NY and NBC’s Medium.

The bad news for the two new comedies is that they will be left to fend for themselves against Criminal and Idol.
The new schedule also reflects the quiet departure of the Taye Diggs series Day Break. ABC made no mention what will happen to the series, which was originally planned to stay on through January. As of right now, the last episode of Day Break will air on December 27.

The Knights of Prosperity, whose premiere date was pushed back from October, stars Donal Logue (Grounded for Life) as a sad-sack janitor who organizes a group of very amateur thieves to rob the palatial apartment of Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger (who has a cameo in the pilot). In Case of Emergency features David Arquette, Kelly Hu, Jonathan Silverman and Greg Germann as former high-school classmates whose lives didn't quite turn out as they planned.

TNT to adapt Stephen King/Peter Straub novel The Talisman

With broadcast networks having abandoned the TV movie format and killed the mini-series, the cable networks seemed to have taken up the torch, as TNT will adapt the Stephen King/Peter Straub novel The Talisman as a six-hour made for TV movie. This the third time the cable net has dipped into the King catalog, having produced the horrible ‘Salem’s Lot remake and this years Nightmare and Dreamscapes.

For over a decade, Stephen Spielberg has owned the movie rights the book, and has always wanted a big screen version. However, the book is complex and would need a long time to unspool. The mini-series format allows such a chance to flesh out the book.

The Talisman tells the story of Jack Sawyer, a boy who goes on a quest through this world and through a parallel world known as "The Territories," experiencing both good and evil in each. His goal is to obtain a mysterious talisman that will save his dying mother’s life, as well as the life of her "twinner," the Queen of The Territories.

Screenwriter Ehren Kruger (The Ring, Arlington Road) is writing the adaptation. It should air in the early half of 2008.

One wonders if this movie works and is successful, would TNT produce the sequel, The Black House? And while the second book is stand-alone, it is, however, closely connected to King’s Dark Tower series, which has yet to see the light of day for adaptation. And to excise the Crimson King and other Dark Tower references, would ultimately ruin it.

03 December 2006

Books of 2006, Part 16: The Innocent Man by John Grisham

John Grisham in his author notes at the end of The Innocent Man said that writing nonfiction was something that “seldom” crossed his mind. Writing fiction was so much more fun and, probably, much more profitable.

But when an obituary about a freed Death Row Ronald Williamson catches his eye, Grisham becomes so intrigued about the man’s life and what happen to him, he would devote 18 months to lay out how our justice system failed to see the obvious.

Yes, I’m sure there are many in prison who did not do the crime they were convicted of and, sadly, some have died also from capital punishment. And Ronald Williamson’s life story is just one story of many, but it does shine the light into the dark corners of our judicial system. Over the last 3 or 4 decades, some people have claimed that the guilty get a better treatment than the victim. Here, though, is proof that at least one man, was abused by the system there to protect him.

While hindsight is always twenty-twenty, there was many obvious flaws in Ada, Oklahoma’s near zealous attempt to prove that Ronald Williamson and Dennis Fritz committed a brutal murder in 1982. Like Kenneth Lay, the Enron CEO who went to his grave convinced he did nothing wrong with his employee’s money, we have two people -District Attorney Bill Peterson and a cop named Dennis Smith - are still convinced that Williamson is guilty of murder, despite DNA evidence exonerating them.

This, or course, calls up another issue. Yes, both Williamson and Fritz had run-ins with the law in the 1980's, but even as evidence shows them not guilty, people are still convinced they were involved. After all, they have rap sheets. They are crooks, how can you believe a word they say -despite that the Ada police used snitches to convince the jury that Williamson and Fritz killed the girl.

All in all, The Innocent Man opens the door to a community under pressure to find a murder and a town willing to ignore every judicial right a person has to make bogus evidence stick.

While I believe in the death penalty, this book raised some doubts for me. Williamson was tragic character out of Shakespeare, but he was a sick man, a poster boy for bipolar disorder. He was wrongfully accused of a murder and only had a few people in his corner that believed him.

Science, like DNA evidence, will ultimately set a person free or convict them. And while character is always useful, hard proof is, and will be, the smoking gun in solving a crime. Making that science available to little cities at a cheaper price can save a person from sitting in jail for the rest of their lives -especially if they are innocent.

And we are still innocent until proven guilty?


02 December 2006

Rebooting of Star Trek not a bad idea?

So, would a reboot of Star Trek be so bad?

It occurred to me, while watching the latest Bond film, Casino Royale, that maybe, just maybe, rebooting the franchise could work.

Batman Begins, Superman Returns and now Casino Royale. Three franchises that have had successful re-starts. And while SR is not so much a reboot of the Superman myth, it did well enough to give life to the creaky franchise after nearly 20 years. Which is why, there will be a sequel in the summer of 2009. A Batman sequel, The Dark Knight, will hit theaters in 2008, along with James Bond 22.

Since the failure of Enterprise, the future of Star Trek has caused a schism within the fan base and even with in Paramount. The biggest problem Enterprise had was it should’ve been a fully reboot of the franchise, not the half-hearted attempt that Rick Berman and Brannon Braga did. Whether it was fear of alienating the fans or financial issues, or "franchise fatigue" its cancellation after four disappointing seasons put its future in a fog.

Now that Lost creator JJ Abrahms has been handed the movie franchise, speculation on what direction he’ll go in has run rampant: should it be the long proposed Starfleet Academy film that has been around since Trek II? Should it show the early days of James Kirk and Spock? Should it start just at the beginning of the original TV series?

But the biggest issue where ever it starts, should you pay homage to the first TV series and its continuity or ignore everything that has come before -TOS, TNG, DS9, VGR, ENT and 10 films and basically start from scratch?

From TOS point of view, not much of the early days of the Federation and Starfleet was nailed down; there was plenty of wiggle room, so to speak. My guess is, the original idea of ENT was to sort narrow those plot threads that popped up in the later series and movies; flesh out those ideas and see what happens. Again, as noted, they failed to excite many long time fans due to the fact that neither Braga or Berman felt obligated to stay within what little continuity there had been established about that time period.

They kowtowed to fans who wanted to see Romulans, Borg and Ferengi. They changed the history of Vulcans and created a starship named Enterprise, even after it was established that the one featured on TOS was the first.

But, ultimately, ENT failed because their stories sucked. They were dull, predictable and boring. The miscasting of Scott Bakula as Archer also hurt the show, as his wooden performance and his ability to get beaten up every week annoyed everyone. Then there was the opening title song, which hurts the brain even to think that had one.

Still, all that being said, I think now -based on the success of Batman Returns, of Casino Royale and, maybe, Superman Returns maybe the wild idea of returning to the early years of Kirk and company is not such a bad idea.

But this would need to be a total reboot, and fans of the franchise will need to accept that the continuity they’ve grown to love and hold dear, will need to be ignored. Star Trek can come back, but it needs to jettison the baggage it came with.

It can take the myths that have been around for 40 years, but give it a new twist. It could be everything ENT should’ve been. Take pieces from those myths and other new ideas and see where it can go.

And while the toughest sell would be on hardcore fans, I see no difference updating Trek for the 21st Century as Barbara Broccoli has done for James Bond. The new Bond film starts the franchise in the post 9/11 era. The Cold War is over, but this Bond was never a part of it. Terrorist will be the franchise new bread and butter.

The same could happen to Trek. Launching the franchise anew, with modern day visual effects, with new stories that -while harking back 40 years of TV shows and movies - create new history.

But it all begins with a script. My criticism of VGR and ENT comes mostly from the poor writing and then bad acting. Abrahms can put all the women he wants in cat suits and have visual effects up the wahzoo, but it’s the script that makes a film.

Then again, one can look at X Men 3. Here was an example of a hugely successful film, grossing more than the first two films in the franchise, yet at the end of the day, the weakest film -creatively - of the three.

But done right, Star Trek can be saved. Rebooting it and jettisoning that hobgoblin known as continuity by saying this is the beginning and what has come before is from another era -like Casino Royale - and see where it takes us.

30 November 2006

NBC revamps their TV schedule; Sci Fi and HBO announce new shows

As the wobbly TV season continues -and as the networks go into repeat mode for the holiday season -NBC has announced changes to their line-up in January and March.

Not willing to go up against FOX’s American Idol, the peacock network will move Friday Night Lights to Wednesday; cheap to produce Dateline NBC will fill in on Tuesday. When football ends, NBC will air reality programs Grease: You’re the One That I Want and the sixth season of The Apprentice followed by the returning Crossing Jordan.

Meanwhile the heist comedy The Black Donnellys will debut in early March, displacing Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip on Mondays, while the Jeff Goldblum supernatural drama Raines will also debut in that spring month, replacing Las Vegas - which like Crossing Jordan, will only run 17 episodes. The shift off Studio means 4 episodes out of the 22 NBC ordered will air at a later date, but it does not bode well for a second season.

Lastly, expect the network to keep Heroes on Monday’s at 9 through the February sweeps, while Medium will retain its Wednesday slot, though that could change when Lost returns in February.

Rushed on to the air months before it was scheduled due to the failure of Smith, CBS has pulled 3 lbs. from its schedule, effective immediately. Out the 8 episodes produced (out of the 13 ordered), the five remaining will probably air in some other form. Reruns of The Unit and other programs will fill the slot.

On the eve of their latest miniseries The Lost Room, Sci Fi has announced their next big mini for next December. The six-hour Tin Man is said to be a twisted and bizarre take on The Wizard of Oz.

HBO is developing a one-hour series based on the popular 1995-2000 Vertigo comic series The Preacher. Once planned as a big screen adaption starring X Men star James Marsden, the deal fell through. Daredevil and Ghost Rider director Mark Steven Johnson will pen the pilot.

26 November 2006

The Nine finds itself off ABC's schedule

On a Saturday, during this Thanksgiving holiday weekend when the TV writers are all out of the office, ABC announced they are pulling The Nine from its prime time schedule, effective immediately.

A special edition of 20/20 will air on November 29, followed by the return of Primetime on December 6. Hailed by most TV critics at the start of the season, that praise has failed to turn into ratings gold. The ratings for the show have averaged just 8.6 million viewers, losing more than half of the 17.7 million viewers who turned into its lead-in show, Lost on November 8. With Lost on hiatus, the show tumbled even further, coming in a distant third on November 22.

ABC said the show will return sometime later in the season, but offered no specific time frame for it. The Nine joins another ABC series, Six Degrees, that has been sent into Twilight Zone of Limbo.

24 November 2006

MGM producer says Jackson is still the man to helm The Hobbit

Despite claims that he will not helm The Hobbit and another Lord of the Rings prequel, Peter Jackson is still considered to be the one to helm them, if producer Saul Zaentz has his way. IMBD has posted an interview from the German website Elbenwald.de, where Zaentz says: "It will definitely be shot by Peter Jackson. ... Next year The Hobbit rights will fall back to my company. I suppose that Peter will wait because he knows that he will make the best deal with us. And he is fed up with the studios: to get his profit share on the Rings trilogy he had to sue New Line. With us, in contrast, he knows that he will be paid fairly and artistically supported without reservation." IMBD points out : “The preceding quotation is a translation that appeared on TheHobbit-Movie.com from the German interview posted on Elbenwald.de.”

Early this week, over on the onering.net, Jackson and writing partner Fran Walsh posted a letter saying that New Line had informed that their services were no longer required for the proposed two films. Wingnut films has filed a suit against New Line, claiming that their “creative” bookkeeping allowed the profits from the DVD releases of the films to be miss appropriated.

Zaentz has held the rights to The Hobbit since 1976 and was willing to share a co-production rights with New Line through MGM. But clearly, New Line sees the Lord of the Rings franchise as proprietary to them, and waiting for the lawsuit to come some conclusion was something they are unwilling to do. So, while Peter Jackson and everyone who works at Wingnut should be the only people you go to for this project, it seems New Line in willing to forgo all that in hopes of catching lightening in the bottle twice.

This tug of war going down now is very interesting. The question is: who goes down first and will it be the fans who pay the ultimate price?

Rules to follow when shopping for Christmas

Having worked retail for 26 years (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), I've learned a few things about shopping, especially during the holiday season. I've tried to explain these rules to the fustrated mass, but they seem to think I'm insane, but it works.

1. Always shop early. For goodness sake, during the Christmas season, most malls and stores are opening early. I know, it's the weekend and you want to stay in bed, blah, blah, blah, but the early bird does get the worm. Get your fat ass out of bed and get to the mall. If you plan it correctly, you can get all your shopping done before the mall gets jumping. Plus parking is a breeze. Then you can get home and watch all those lame show PBS airs during the afternnon. Oh, that may just be my parents.

2. Never shop between the malls prime hours. One thing you have to know is that between noon and about 5, those are the busiest hour stores have. If you hate long lines to check out, wandering the parking lot looking for a spot -even if its 17 football fields away from Sears - running into people who don't care, then avoid them during these hours. Think about what I said on #1.

3. Shop early in the evening. Weekdays are slower than weekends. So, instead of going home, eating a meal and then going to the mall, go from work. From about 4 until 7 or so, the malls are slower and parking is usally easier. A meal outside the home won't kill you.

4. Never shop until the stores are closing. One thing any employee hates is people who insist on staying until the gawd awful last second. It's annoying. Really. Trust me, we hate it. And we'll make you pay for it.

5. Come prepared. I hate the Lowes commercial on, that shows this lady asking a clerk about the things she wants, describing them in so little detail. Of course the Lowes girls knows excatly what the customer wants with just these little tibits. Whoa, stop, there. That lulls the customer into thinking that they don't have to know anything, because some clerk at a store will tell them what they want. This false sense of enpowerment on the customers part is what makes retail suck so much. If you want a book, a CD, DVD, a purse, a pair of pants, a shirt or anything else, don't come to the store saying it that you want the blouse Oprah was wearing. Or the Christmas movie that starred some girl with curly hair that aired on the Disney Channel 2 years ago.

6. Pay attention to your kids. Malls are not babysitters and they hate parents who let their children run around like wild animals.

7. Don't leave a mess. Putting clothes back on the rack -not throwing it, or tossing it on the floor - is very helpful. Granted, while we are paid to do this, its certainly not enough for most of your sorry asses. And what's with people moving tables and chairs around a cafe at Borders or Barnes & Noble or over at Starbucks? I don't come to your house and re-arrange your furniture. Stop doing it at our stores. It messes up our Chi. If you feel the need to do this, fine, but when you leave put it back the way you found it. Where you all brought up in barns? If it's a resturant, that's different. They get tips to put up with that type of crap.

8. All else fails, remember #1.

See, if people followed these simple -very simple - rules, Christmas shopping can actually not be stressful. And while employees of all reatil outlets are way underpaid and over worked, we do like to be treated with digity. Respect is a two-way street, my peeps. Treat me like dirt, and honey, the earings are coming off like I'm Joan Crawford.


23 November 2006

Thanksgiving rant

You know, I'm smart (well, maybe not doctor smart, but...) and I can be very funny when I want to be, but I realize now that I'm bitter and very lonely, so I treat people around me like their idiots. I do it work to my fellow employees and certainly I treat our customers like that. I've said many times that most of our cutomers are idiots until they prove me wrong. The sad part is, that statement is mostly true.

Today -Thanksgiving - begins my most hated period of the year. I miss the mystery that this holiday and Christmas once was, and while I no longer consider myself religious, I still miss those days growing up, listening to those carols blasting through the radio and through stores. Now, its all about -though maybe it was as a child - about material things. And we force non-christians to celebrate the holiday also, while disdaining their own.

I am homesick, to tell you the truth, but not in the sense that I want to spend time with my family. There is just too many issues going on, too many bad years from the time my dad died in 1968 and today. I just miss those times when all I had to worry about was iff I dressed right.

If I went home today, it would to a house full of people who can't communicate their proper feelings. I have a sister-in-law who hates my mom -though, to her credit, most of its justified. My Mom is Marie Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond. She can be cruel, but sees it as advice that you should take. She claims to have toned some of that down, but she is set in her ways.

My brother gets odder by the years, slowly sinking into his pit of redneckism. I feel so sorry for my sister-in-law. She deserves better, really. My younger sister has issues of her own, but refuses to acknowledge them. She is an enabler and will be for the rest of her life -but you can't tell her that. The older sister is the sanest in the family. I adore her, and wish I could be her. Fortune seems to shine down her way, and nothing seems to get her down.

I once thought I was sane, but I feel that is just a lie. I feel lost, and really nothing to look forward too. Just another day feeling like the world is moving forward, while I fall back, never to reaching the magic that makes life so wonderful.

Sure, I'm thankful today. I'm alive, I have roof over my head, a job (which I hate as each day comes up), and a somewhat loving family. But I have no insurance to help me get over this depression; no insurance to save my teeth, as they are rotting out of my head because I'm afraid to venture to a dentist, my concaved chest that makes me feel so self-consious that I don't think I can ever get in relationship with a guy.

While I lack the courage to off myself, I think of it often. I think the pain could go away if on the way to work or on my way home, I get in an accident. No worry.

But what I would leave behind stops me. So says we all.

But I am tired. Tired of people making plans and not inviting me. I'm tired that I never, ever enter their minds. I'm tired of trying to be good and helpful, only to discover it means nothing. I'm tired that someone else gets lucky and I get the shaft. I'm tired of being tired.

Books of 2006, Part 15: The Pirates! in an Adventure with Communists

London, 1840: Wagner’s latest opera plays to packed houses while disgruntled workers gather in crowded pubs to eat ice cream and plan the downfall of the bourgeoisie. And the Pirate Captain––his disguise proving something of a letdown––finds himself incarcerated at Scotland Yard, in a case of mistaken identity.

Discovering that his doppelgänger is none other than Karl Marx, the Captain and his crew are unwittingly caught up in a sinister plot that involves a red-eyed monster, stolen waxworks, and a sack of pretend kittens.

From the gloomy streets of Soho to the leafy boulevards of Paris, The Pirates! In an Adventure with Communists is a story of intellectual giants, enormous beards, volcanoes and valkyries, doubloons and dancing girls, and a quest to discover whether ham might really be the opium of the people.


Having mutilated Charles Darwin (The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists) and mauled Herman Melville (The Pirates! In an Adventure with Ahab {though called Whales in the UK}) , the Pirate Captain and his crew turn their attention to Karl Marx's plans for world domination and improved facial hair. The third volume of this wacky series remains true to the first two, with many anachronisms and a crew with no names, with the exception of Jennifer. This time, the Pirate Captain must discover the connections between Wagner’s opera and various other nonsensical things as he searches for a grand adventure, so at least, to keep his sponsors - who want multiple eviscerations and/or explosions - happy.

Due in a year or so, will be the next adventure, which seems to be with Napoleon.

22 November 2006

Thanksgiving 2006

This is the second Thanksgiving here in California away from the family. And, as far as I know, I'll be all by myself. B is off to his friends, and I'm sure they would not mind having me, but I just don't want to go.

I told Beo this past Saturday while film HF and JT's short film, that I feel I'm losing my gay identity. B is great, but it's had to have a conversation about anything gay, when your roommate is still queasy on the subject. And hence, spending time with Tim, who is a conservetive republican, on a Thanksgiving seems misguided at best.

Besides, I've never be fond of this holiday. I understand what it means -the harvest and being thankful for things like family and such, but I always remember it being days of preperation, short tempers and a day full of dull, inane conversation. Plus, not a football person, with nothing else on, I got bored. Sure the food was great, and stuffed myself, but it was just a day to devore tons of fatting food, and nothing else.

So, hopefully, Bill will understand when I say I don't need or want to got to Tim's. I'm happy, to be alone. Hey, I can catch 007, also.

Anyway, to all those who will be spending time with their family, have a great Thanksgiving.

Be safe and don't drink and drive.

20 November 2006

Peter Jackson out as director of The Hobbit

In what many LOTR fans may consider a death in the family, Peter Jackson has confirmed he’ll not helm The Hobbit. Over at the OneRing.net, he explains why (tap on link).

For sometime a cloud over Jackson's involvement has been swirling due to an unresolved lawsuit between Jackson and New Line over incomes on The Fellowship of the Ring. Until the issue was settled there wasn't expected to be any involvement on Jackson's part.

And only last week, MGM Chief Harry Sloan had confirmed they were in talks with Jackson to make two movies based on The Hobbit - though they admitted that the deal was contingent on negotiations with New Line, which owns the right to produce The Hobbit (in typical Hollywood redtapeism, MGM owns the rights to the book, but New Line Cinema owns the production and distribution rights). Sloan said the first film would be a direct adaptation of The Hobbit, and the second would be drawn from footnotes and source material connecting The Hobbit with The Lord of the Rings.

Jackson indicated that New Line had a "limited time option on the films rights", and with the accounting practices of New Line has that lead to Jackson’s lawsuit bound to go into years, the studio was forced to pass on Jackson and begin the search for a new director.

17 November 2006

TV Round-up 11/17: FOX's fall season an almost bust

In what has turned out to be a troubling fall season for FOX, they’ve given the two of their remaining new shows the okay to continue production. The comedy series Til Death has been picked up for the full season, while they’ve ordered 6 additional scripts for the drama Standoff. Of course, like the now benched Happy Hour and cancelled Vanished, and with Justice being moved to Friday (beginning December 1, instead of 11th) to finish out its 13 episode run, Standoff and Til Death have never preformed well. But instead cancelling the entire new season schedule, they’ll stick with them. For now.

While I’m sure everyone on those two remaining shows are happy for work, its only a semi-vote of confidence that either show will survive until May. Hopefully, the cast and crew of those two shows will realize the small gift handed to them, and produce better scripts that don’t rely on the tried and true stereotypes of comedy and drama.

But then this is the FOX network, and they have a tendency to crush creativity. While they’ve had success, they have never been known to support shows (like Arrested Development) that show a very independent mind.

Cookie cutter comedies and bland dramas have been the norm for the past two decades over at FOX, and it will continue until someone shocks them with the idea that writing is the core reason -even beyond cast - that makes a show. Then you add chemistry of a cast to the great writing, then you got a show that works.

And while The Simpsons remains a loyal show for me -despite it no longer being what it once was - its continued support for crass shows like Family Guy, American Dad, The War at Home and a shameless pandering to dumb Americans who drivel over American Idol, the FOX network will never come out of the shadows of the other three networks. It even lets shows like Prison Break -brilliant drama in its first season - jump the shark with plots that go nowhere.

Bones remains one of its best dramas, but is so woefully under unitized. While I can say I have issues with the gore, the show is well written, with great characters and real sense of while it’s CSI, it takes a more wink, wink, nudge, nudge style that elevates above the boring and sometimes very predictable CSI franchise.

As for comedies, The Loop stood out from last season and is scheduled to return in 2007. But its another quirky comedy that some how manages to be a bit crass, but charming. But it’s the writing and the cast that make this show work. But, while I was surprised it was picked up back in May, I’m not sure it can survive again. Unless -as it was planned months ago - the show is teamed with American Idol’s results show, and can maintain its lead-in.

But The Loop is creative, so see Arrested Development.
Meanwhile, The CW has confirmed they've ordered 7 new episodes of Veronica Mars. No word was given why they did not order nine, which is the per usual pick-up for a full season. At now only 20 epsiodes this season, the last two mysteries of the season will have to be curbed to fit this new plan -unless The CW goes back and orders 2 more.

15 November 2006

TV Roundup for 11/15 and a Hobbit

After two days of being ill, I'm back.

NBC finally confirmed a full season pickup for Friday Night Lights, which may be moved from its current Tuesday slot to Sundays beginning in January. This move, of course, is because if the show remains on Tuesday, FOX’s returning American Idol will kill it. And NBC execs really like Friday Night Lights, so expect something else to become the sacrificial lamb there.

Production is underway on Babylon 5: The Lost Tales, a straight-to-video follow-up to the long-running TV series. Lost Tales picks up several years after the events of the series' original story, following several of its major characters — returning cast members include Bruce Boxleitner, Tracy Scoggins and Peter Woodward — in new adventures set against the backdrop of the Babylon 5 universe

ABC has confirmed a full season pick up of What About Brian, despite posting season low ratings last week.

Finally, while not TV related, I thought I mention this: MGM Chief Harry Sloan has confirmed they are in talks with Peter Jackson to make two movies based on J.R.R. Tolkein's The Hobbit though that is contingent on negotiations with New Line, which owns the right to produce The Hobbit.

The first film will be a direct adaptation of The Hobbit, and the second would be drawn from footnotes and source material connecting The Hobbit with The Lord of the Rings.

12 November 2006

Turn it on again -veteran rock group Genesis reunites

After years of rumors, egos and other set-backs, the rock group Genesis is reuniting for a small tour for 2007.

But not everyone will be back.

Genesis was formed by Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford in the late 1960s, with their first album From Genesis to Revelation coming out in March of 1969. Heavily album oriented, with deep cuts full of long instrumentals and epic length songs, their music struck a cord with many fans both here and especially in the UK where they were based. They had a theatrical vein, also, thanks to Gabriel’s Ziggy Stardust style of performing on stage.

Guitarist Steve Hackett joined the band for the third LP, Trespass, along with Phil Collins. The group’s popularity increased during this time, as each new record - Foxtrot, Genesis: Live and Selling England by the Pound - was released, but as typical in most bands during the era, each persons individuality began to surface causing a schism that would lead to Gabriel’s departure in 1975, after the successful Lamb Lies Down on Broadway album and tour.

Collins was promoted to lead-singer, and while they tried to maintain the Gabriel style -with a sometime scary precision - with Trick of the Tail and Wind and Wuthering, but Phil Collins more pop influence began to creep in by 1977's Seconds Out, which would also be Steve Hackett’s last album with the band. 1978's And then there Were Three scored the new trio its first top 50 song, Follow You Follow Me. The new commercial Genesis continued with 1980's Duke, which spawned another pop hit, Turn it on Again. Abacab followed in 1981, generating two hit singles, the title track and No Reply at All. The popular Three Sides Live followed next, cementing them more into commercial radio play. But it was 1983's self titled album Genesis that put them on the edge of major pop success, with hits like Mama and That’s All and Illegal Alien. And, of course, 1986's Invisible Touch would be their most successful album ever and giving them their first number 1 single.

By 1986, Phil Collins had a successful solo career, and his 3rd solo effort, No Jacket Required made him more popular than the time he spent with Genesis. Their last effort as a group was 1992's We Can’t Dance, a good album, but not a worthy successor to Invisible Touch.

Collins left the band after that last album to continue to focus on his solo career, which would eventually lead him to score the songs for the 1999 Disney film Tarzan, which would garner him an Oscar for Song of the Year. The remaining two members -Rutherford and Banks - recruited former Stiltskin vocalist Ray Wilson for the 1997 release Calling All Stations, which fared so poorly that the group was forced to cancel their American tour. They quietly folded in 1998.

Since then, the band has had a strong cult following -especially the early Gabriel years -and its old catalog continues to sell. And a reunion rumor tour has been around almost since the time that Gabriel left in 1975. They did get together in briefly 1982, but the notorious perfectionist Gabriel warned a few years ago that any reunion concert in the future would require serious preparation time. "When we got back together in 1982, I don't think we rehearsed, he says. To really do it properly, we'd have to take more time. It's quite a commitment."

But now, the former frontman will not be participating in the reunion. "Tony, Mike and Phil are rehearsing now," he said in a recent video message on his Web site. "I'm not involved in this round or this year. I haven't ruled out the possibility of doing something in the future, but right now I'm going to focus on my own work."

Also apparently not involved is guitarist Steve Hackett, though last month, he told the Chicago Sun-Times that he received a phone call from Genesis management. "There's a movement to put us all together again," he said. "I do think it will happen."

Now back to a three-piece line-up (supplemented by Daryl Stuermer and Chester Thompson) after Gabriel’s decision not to participate, they’ve revealed the songs for the 2007 tour. Included will be songs as far back to 1973 and will include some of the longer instrumental pieces and, of course, the double drums that became synonymous with the Genesis tours of the late '70s to early '90s. Among some of the older songs the band is rehearsing are Afterglow and Los Endos. Other songs Tony Banks mentioned during the November 8th press conference included In The Cage and Domino as well as the hits most people would come to expect.

And while he now seems ready to tour with Genesis again, Collins sang quite a different tune in a 1996 interview with Billboard, when he declared, How interested am I in old Genesis material? Not very interested, to be honest.

If I'm to be completely candid, I've never been our biggest fan, he continued. I have no reverence for the older material, apart from the fun we had making it. I never really felt like we quite got it right on record, especially in the olden days. I can see Genesis fans sticking pins in my effigy as I say this, but you know, I have to be honest -- there's no point in being anything else in life. I'm very proud of some of it, and I could take or leave some other stuff.

In the meantime, here in 2006, Genesis shared with the press that they have been actively rehearsing for the past few weeks in New York, but said there are no plans to do any new studio material at this time. In addition to the dates for Europe, the band plan to play about 20 dates in North America. There have been talks about releasing the tour later as a live album or video, but nothing is officially confirmed yet. Collins also acknowledged that he still has some hearing loss since getting a rare viral infection in the late '90s but wants to do a series of shows anyway, and commented that Genesis stated that the tour is purely for their own enjoyment and not for financial gain, sharing that if the motivation was money that there would be more dates of the tour.

10 November 2006

TV Round-up: 11/10

FOX has pulled Justice from their prime time schedule, effective immediately. On its last air date, November 6, the show garnered a 1.9 rating, way down from 3.5 of its lead in, Prison Break. The network will air reruns of House for the rest of the November sweeps. FOX has said the show will return in December, but due to the holiday and several planned specials, don’t expect a return until January, which in itself becomes problematic then.

If the show returns in December, it could be only as a sacrificial lamb. Give it one or two low rated airings when most TV viewers are preparing for Christmas, could give enough reason for the network to cancel the show.

Besides, January sees the return of 24 and American Idol, and those two juggernaut series will be filling much of FOX’s advertising. So, it’s a good bet Justice will find its way to the cancel bin.

Meanwhile, Battlestar Galactica executive producer David Eick is teaming up with Terminator 3 director Jonathan Mostow and writer John McNamara to develop Them, an alien-invasion series for FOX.

Based on the graphic novel Six, by Michael Oeming and Daniel Berman, the premise involves a sleeper cell of extraterrestrial terrorists who take the shape of humans. Their mission is compromised when they start experiencing human emotions, which act like a drug on the aliens.

This “emotional drug” may explain why they never tuned into ABC last season.

09 November 2006

TV Roundup for 11/9

Struggling Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip got a boost when NBC picked up the show for the entire season, but while Friday Night Lights remains the darling of the network, they’ve yet to confirm a full-season pick-up on this show.

Meanwhile, ABC will move the Anne Heche drama Men in Trees to the plum Thursday slot after Grey’s Anatomy on November 30. The Alphabet network also picked up the show for the entire season. Six Degrees will be pushed off the schedule due to this change; ABC says the show will be back in January, but rumors coming from outside the network is suggesting that the show is doomed.

CBS has announced that it will split its serial drama Jericho into two parts. Like Lost - which won’t be back until February 7 -over at ABC, Jericho will end on a cliffhanger November 29 and then be gone for 10 weeks, returning February 21 to finish out the season with no repeats.

Finally, look for Sci Fi Channel to possibly move critical and cult-favorite -but seriously ratings challenged - Battlestar Galactica to Wednesday at 8pm in hopes of start jumping something to save the costly series from early cancellation.

08 November 2006

Dems take the House and the Senate; Bush shocked and awed

Joe Scarbourgh of MSNBC - a very conservative Republican - maybe said it best last night, that when the Dems where swept out of office in 1994 it was because they went too far left. Now 12 years later, the GOP was swept out for the same reason, except they went too far to right.

The ranks of the GOP are in shock and the ultra-conservatives are blaming John Stewart and Katie Couric. So, nothings changed here. Name calling will never go out of politics, I guess.

What everyone seems to miss is that while Americans are divided on many things, both the right and left will eventually draw a line in the sand. Bush wanted this election to be about moral issues, like protecting the sanctity of marriage from all us homo’s, stopping stem cell research cause it can be perverted.

But is was really about the war in Iraq and its lack of progress. Now, Bush will have to work with the Democratic controlled House and Senate to figure out a way to make things work out better. The firing of Donald Rumsfeld should help, but I still believe we’ll be in Iraq come November 2008.

In the end, while the Dems control the House and Senate, the ones that were brought in are conservative democrats. I’m unsure how things will shake out with this, but I hope that “staying the course” will now become solving the troubles over there.

As for the whole gay marriage and stem cell research, this is all going to happen. Of course, for Bush, it’s the old “not on my watch” attitude he’s taking. So, we’ll have to see what happens in 2008 and beyond.

04 November 2006

Books of 2006, Part 14: Lisey's Story by Stephen King

I still remember where I was when I picked up my first Stephen King book. It was summer, if I remember right, but it was 1980, that I’m sure of, and was shopping with my mother at the Eagle grocery store in Hoffman Estates (which, sadly, has gone the way of the Dodo, but the building remains, and I think a furniture store is now in residence there). As a matter of fact, the book was still in it s box on the floor, for the clerks had yet to put the mass market paperback in the plastic coated shelves. It was The Stand, and I think it was the first time it was out in that format, even thought the hardcover came out in 1978.

I though it would a challenge, for many reasons. I was 17 that summer -going to 18 in the fall - had only been reading books on a regular basis for about three and half years, having picked up Agatha Christie novels during my freshman year of high school. Most of her novels did not more than 300 pages, but as I looked through this new tome, I saw it was 817 pages. It would be, if I could finish it, the longest book I had ever read at the time. Of course, while it took sometime to finish it, I loved the book. I would re-read it (that would be the first for me) at least three more times before King put out the expanded edition in 1991 -which I’ve also read several times. Like many King fans, The Stand remains one of most iconic works.

After The Stand, I spent a good deal of time catching up with The Shining, ‘Salem’s Lot and eventually, Carrie. I would read most of his books he published in the eighties, though I have passed on his Bachman books and to this day, cannot even read The Tommyknockers -it’s just plain horrible.

The last half the 1990's and the first half of the 21st Century, King finally finished his epic The Dark Tower series -his combination of director Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns and The Lord of the Rings. And we learned that most of the books he had published since 1974, was connected to the mysterious world of the Dark Tower -whether it was intensional or not, seemed not to bother me.

After proclaiming that the final tome in that series would be his last book -after all he wanted to do other things - he none the less, could not stay away from the genre that has made him richer than any writer should be. This past winter he returned to the gory, horror genre with Cell.

Now this past October, he returned again with a novel of the supernatural that also is a heartfelt love story, called Lisey’s Story.

Once again, King takes on a bizarre trip into the mind of a widow, who after two years, has decided to go through the files of her late, best selling author husband. But as she goes through the manuscripts, memories of their marriage (and despite his death, Lisey remains deeply in love with him) and where Scott Landon got his ideas begins to scratch at her, and slowly she begins to realize that the past is about to back, and its as mean as a dog named Cujo.

While Stephen King has his critics, I think some just rant on him because he is so prolific -of course, not as busy as Nora Roberts or Joyce Carol Oates -and that it takes a “real” writer years between novels.

Plus, I wonder, how many just buy his books to say they have them?

Then there are the ones who won’t read them because they are scary. Personally, only one King book scared me -The Shining - and one really creeped me out -It - but I’ve always sort of blocked out the gore stuff, which may explain why I do not watch horror movies.

King can be a bit a freak with the gore, but its characters that speak to me, for they act and do things in the most normal sort of way. Sure some of them posses supernatural powers or travel too parallel worlds, but deep down, they are regular people.

And that makes up for his sometimes bizarre love of gore.

02 November 2006

Heroes; actors and questions

There are times when my memory for all things TV is bizarre. I mean, I can remember a guest star from 2 decades ago, but I can’t remember to tell my co-workers really important things. It’s really bizarre.

When I was watching Heroes premiere episode, there was a teen actor playing Zach, the best friend of Claire
(save the cheerleader, save the world)
Bennett. Now, somewhere in the back of my mind, an old memory cell sent signals to my main frame, telling me I’ve seen him some where before. But for the life of me I could not remember.

His name turned out to be Thomas Dekker -when I looked it up on imdb.com. The things clicked into place. He had done several episodes of Star Trek: Voyager, including TNG’s first theatrical feature Generations, playing a son of Picard.

Dekker was a pretty boy, with beautiful eyes along with those feather-like eye-lashes. He went on to play Nick Szalinski in the Disney TV version of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. I like that show, even though it ran for only three years.

But it had been years since I had seen him, and according to his bio on imdb, he has done a lot of guest starring on TV, doing several episodes of 7th Heaven and Boston Public, and doing many, many voice over work.

So, anyway, as I watched him on Heroes, with those still lovely eyes and dimple in his cheek, and that dusting of facial hair, I was surprised it was him. He is still pretty, but at 18 it works for him.

So, anyway, talking about Heroes, it occurs to me now that Eden is working for Claire’s Dad (and raise your hands if you did not see that coming), who is too? I’ve been suspicious since Claire’s dad
(AKA Horn Rimmed Glasses)
acquired the tape that she and Zach made showing off her powers. How did he find it? Is it possible young Zach is also working for HRG? I grew even more worried on Monday’s episode Better Halves. While asking Claire about what she plans to ask her biological parents,
(another did-you-not-see-that-coming when it turned out those parents where in fact working for HRG?)
or more to the point, will she out herself? Of course, Clair denies saying anything that will tip other people off to her powers, and then she teases Zach, asking if he’s flirting with her. He says no, and seems to infer that there could be no way he would be interested in her.

But, you can see he does have a major crush on her. It’s kind of cute, but it could get creepy if my hunch plays out.

Another issue that popped up on that episode is how the days go. To me, it appears the show is running concurrent with everything, with maybe each episode representing a day
(or the same day?)
,but if it is, how could it be night time in Las Vegas were Niki lives with her son Micah
(and where Hiro and Ando are),
and day in Odessa, Texas where Claire lives?

I mean, it seems the show is running linear, but am I wrong?

Also, who would’ve thought that Jack Coleman - who played the original Steven on Dynasty and The Colby’s, was so cool as the villain of this series? I like it when an actor who’ve you not seen in a few years turns up in such a devious role. It is smart for the creators to move Coleman from a recurring role on the show to full cast member, which will happen with episode 11, set to air in January.

Also, one more thought: Is Ando doomed to die? I told my roommate that it would be logical for Ando to be killed by the bad guys, as that theme has been used for decades
(including Superman)
to spurn our hero to finally commit to fighting crime. And while Hiro already believes in his destiny and has embraced it fully, he still -I think - must lose Ando.

That bares watching.

29 October 2006

Monster House on DVD

One of the differences between the 147 other animated films that have been released in 2006, Monster House was the same, yet different.

This Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg production uses the same technology used on the Zemeckis directed Polar Express: Motion capture. But where that movie went for photo-realistic look for the characters, the draw back to it was that, at times, gave the characters a creepy factor, and very zombie-like.

Director Gil Kenan went a more stylized look, where bodies are thin and head a bit larger than normal CGI films, and where the motion capture design focused more on the vocal talent.

Despite Disney's last few films failing to attract an audience, there greatest abilities was casting the right voice. This, at times, failed for DreamWorks animation -beyond the Shrek franchise.

The voice talent is used perfectly in this film and its young stars, Mitchel Musso, Sam Lerner and Spencer Locke, with supporting rolls going to the excellent Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Lee, Kevin James, Nick Cannon, Fred Willard, Catherine O’Hara, Kathleen Turner and John Heder.

The script by Dan Harmon, Pamela Pettler and Rob Schrab is much darker and funnier than most kids movies and can almost be an animated film for adults. The dialogue is memorable, devlivered with an earnest not seen in many live-action films.

If there is one issue I had with the film, its Nick Cannon's role as the mouthy, black cop. At times, the character, in its design and persona, could almost be considered racist. But its a small complaint, and does not really distract from the film.

It is the best animated film of 2006.

Below is my quick review of the film when I saw it in July:

A long time ago, Disney held the mantel when it came to animation. During the late 1970's and 1980's, it went to pieces, but there were not many studios producing the quality films. Disney, of course, regained it back in 1991. But those years are behind them again. Still, with the aide of Pixar, Disney has maintained a high profile. However, with out the CGI company, Disney continues to fall behind.

For the most part, the reason it has failed to get a hit is because they’ve lost the ability to tell a story. They’ve let the bottom line and investors run the company, parading out direct-to-DVD sequels to their most classic films like candy in a vending machine, failing to understand that what makes a movie -animation or live action - is the story.

That leads to Monster House, one of the best, funniest and well written story not to come from Disney. This animated film uses the same technology as Polar Express, but the motion capture and the other technology in the film is not as important as the story and believability of the kid actors. This solid story telling is what makes the film so entertaining.

The voice talent is excellent, led by Mitchel Musso, Sam Lerner and Spencer Locke, with supporting rolls going to the excellent Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kevin James, Nick Cannon, Fred Willard, Catherine O’Hara, Kathleen Turner and John Heder. Directed by Gil Kenan, the film never drags and will keep kids, and adults, entertained.

Executive Produced by Robert Zemekis and Steven Speilberg, I did pickup on at least three “in jokes” from previous Zemekis films (Forrest Gump, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Castaway), but unlike, say the Shrek films which rely on many pop culture references, this film has little or none at all.

26 October 2006

Books of 2006, Part 13: Shadowmarch by Tad Williams

The epic fanatsy novel.

I've read a lot of them over the last 30 years, and while I've enjoyed most of them, they all still pale to the granddaddy of them all, The Lord of the Rings.

Still, where I gave up on the endless Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, I do have a soft spot for Tad Williams. I read his Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy years ago and enjoyed them, even though the last book in the series was well over 1,000 pages in hardcover! And last year, I finally read his stand-alone fantasy The War of the Flowers, which I enjoyed also.

Still, I have left the multi-volume series books if only because I get bored with waiting years between volumes, as this one was released in 2004, followed by a trade edition in 2005 and now the mass market this year (which is what I read). The second volume is due in January, which means the trade edition will be out in January of 08, followed by a mass market late in the year or early 2009. So, it could be two years and 2 months before I read volume 2, and by then, I will have forgotten what had gone on before, and I don't plan to re-read the 762 pages again.

Still, it did take an effort to stay with this book, as Williams loves to write and write, creating a richly detailed universe, with its own language and what not. Sometimes, that is a problem. Going into so much ennui -while rich in texture and substance - also makes me want to skip pages as he can go on and on about the minorist of things.

And for me, that's what ruined the Jordan series. The Wheel series is long, filled with unappealing characters and just way too much detail that inferferes with the story. And that's where Williams has a leg up on Jordan. His characters, while not original, are much more fun -and once again, we meet a future queen who seems to hate all the pagentry that goes with the title, another tomboy who likes to get down and dirty.


But, we'll see if I pick up volume two in January, or wait a year and half. I have so much other things to read, so I'll have to consider if I want devote so much time to it. I mean, heck I've yet to read the first book in the Final Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, which is another multi volume series with years between each. For a moment, I considered going back and reading the first six again, something that I have not done in 20 years! But I got real, and will just read the What's come before... chapter.

John Whiting gave me the 4 volume Otherworld series by Williams, and I'll get to them with in the next few months, as I'm off to read Stephen King's latest Lisey's Story first. And I still want to read The Confederacy of Dunces.

I just need to turn the tube off, and ironically, this damn computer.

The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green

The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green is a light romantic comedy, based on the Eric Orner comic strip. Daniel Letterle -who stole the show in the indie comedy Camp - plays Ethan, who seems to stumble from one relationship after another if only because he forces these abandoments, because he always feels something missing.

Faced with moving due to his ex-boyfriend selling the house Ethan shares with his lesbian friend Charlotte, he begins to wonder if he'll ever be happy. While everyone jokes about how Ethan screws up his relationships (including his mother, played by the brilliant Meridith Baxter), he still fails to see its really him all along.

While the film has nothing big to say, it is fresh in the sense that it is not another coming out story. Of course, the production style is a bit distracting, but that's what you get with a low budget indie film. And the in your face treatment of gay sex might have a few people gasping, it none the less works in favor in the film.

The story is nothing new, either, and you know how it will end, but it is bouyed by Letterle's role as Ethan, along with scene stealing performaces from veteran character actors Joel Brooks and Richard Riehle as the Hat Sisters.

So, while not great, it is worth the time and effort.

I would give it a B

Scrubs is back, so is the NBC Thursday comedy block

NBC has announced that Scrubs will return to their schedule November 30.

The Peacock Network will team Scrubs with 30 Rock, which will move to Thursday's (and this will bump Twenty Good Years, which is expected to be cancelled, as NBC will not commit to any new episodes beyond the 13 they ordered.

So, the new line up will look like this:

My Name is Earl
The Office
30 Rock

followed by ER.

While I love the fact that Scrubs is coming back, setting it in the Thursday Time Slot of Doom -9 to 10 pm - against two shows battling each other for viewers -CSI and Grey's Anatomy -seems to me that NBC wants this show to die. Of course, if NBC was to bring it back for a seventh season, it would need to negociate new contracts with the the cast. So, expect a pink slip for this show in May. As for 30 Rock, I'm unsure what to say about this. Both shows-within-shows (including Studio 60) are doing okay, but not what NBC expects. Still, 30 Rock is cheaper than the $3 million an episode that is Studio 60, so its a good chance this one could survive if Sorkin's show continues to lose viewers.

24 October 2006

NBC to dump scripted programming by 2008

What might be a new trend in TV, NBC announced that by the end of 2008, it will shed up to 700 jobs -- 5 percent of its workforce -- and slash $750 million from its budget. And while the Peacock Network has seen a bump in ratings -moving up from fourth to third place behind CBS and ABC - it is no longer "a growth business it once was."

While network TV was once an unrivaled media market, it seems it needs to find a way to survive the increasing competitiveness of YouTube, video games and other new media outlets. The major broadcast networks also face eroding ratings from cable, which after 20 plus years, has effectively changed the way TV is produced. NBC Universal thinks its future is in digital delivery, via the Internet and mobile devices.

And one of the biggest changes we’ll see on NBC by that same time frame, is the dumping of any scripted programming during the 8 pm time slot. And thanks to American’s fascination with reality programming and game shows, expect the network to fill that hour with them; they are cheap to produce and -right now- have achieved ratings success, sometimes beating scripted programs on all four of the networks.

So keep watching Dancing with the Stars (and all the copycats), American Idol, Survivor, Supernanny, America’s Next Top Model, Deal or No Deal and 1 vs 100, cause by 2008, we’ll be flooded with them. NBC has seen the future, and what American’s want, it seems (along with investors all important dividends), is cheap programming that costs nothing and delivers high ratings.

How soon will ABC and CBS follow?

19 October 2006

Is Studio 60 doomed for the cancel bin?

It seems almost certain that NBC will eventually cancel Aaron Sorkin's dramedy, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Ratings continue to erode, as both CBS' CSI: Miami and ABC's What About Brian are easily beating the show.

As a matter of fact, NBC will air a new episode of Friday Night Lights on Monday, testing the waters to see if that show -also suffering from low ratings, but seemly someone at the Peacock network loves this show -can get a higher rating against the above said counter programs and ESPN's Monday Night Football.

One can guess that if the show does better, you can say bye-bye to Studio 60.

The sad part is, the Sorkin show is thousands times better than CSI: Miami or the anemic What About Brian. True, there are way too many serialized shows on TV this season, and maybe the Neilson American's are picking and choosing this season, but still.

The biggest issue here, I think, is American's unwillingness to understand satire. Studio 60, for all its a-show-within-a-show format, is really a satire, mixed with drama.

But, here in America, where Two and Half Men is considered funny, and where a show like Scrubs is treated like a red-headed stepchild, they need the obvious joke, the fart and toilet humor. Smart humor is treated as almost anti-American.

Studio 60 deserves to be saved.

Get rid of something else, say ER?

Grey's Anatomy star T.R. Knight outs himself

According to TV Guide's Michael Ausiello, Grey's Anatomy actor T.R. Knight confirms he is gay:

The actor confirmed to People this afternoon that rumors about his sexual orientation have not been greatly exaggerated. "I guess there have been a few questions about my sexuality, and I'd like to quiet any unnecessary rumors that may be out there," he said in a statement. "While I prefer to keep my personal life private, I hope the fact that I'm gay isn't the most interesting part of me."

What precipitated this confirmation seems to have been the recent behind the scenes turmoil at the hit ABC medical drama, especially between stars Isaiah Washington and Patrick Dempsey. What was once thought as just tabloid rumors (via The National Enquirer), was later confirmed by reps at ABC: back on October 9, both Dempsey and Washington were arguing about delays, when they nearly came to fisticuffs.

But was Knight’s outing of himself of his own free will, or the other rumor that Enquirer noted about Washington? They reported that during their fight, Washington yelled to Dempsey "I'm not your little faggot like (name deleted)."

The National Enquirer never printed Knight’s name, and refused to reveal the source who told them of the incident, but now that the actor has confirmed it to the press (well, as close as you get to press with People Magazine), was what Washington said true?

Anyway, I'm happy for Knight, but if this slur did take place, I'm hoping Washington's reps issue something. And maybe, ABC saying something other than the usual, non-committal “we are all happy” workers.

18 October 2006

Ratings slide for Battlestar, The CW cancels a show and ER to stay put

The ratings woes for Battlestar Galactica continue, as the critically acclaimed series just mustered out a 1.6 million viewers this past Friday, hitting a near series all time low.

Meanwhile, the CW has pulled the plug on Runaway, having only averaged 1.8 million viewers, while NBC is thisclose to picking up Friday Night Lights -itself looking for viewers - for the full season.

With CBS moving Without a Trace to Sunday, viewers have not stayed with CBS, even though Shark is still doing well. ER, now in season 13, was suppose to run 13 episodes, then be taken off for 13 weeks, only to return in the spring for the final 9 episodes of the season, for a no-repeat season. But ER's ratings appeared to have been revived due to the Without's move, and NBC has scrapped that plan. It will, however, have to air a few repeats, but are also considering ordering additional episodes to extend the season.

16 October 2006

Heroes: Chapter 4: Collision

Episode 4 of Heroes continues to make this the best new show of the season, for its clever writing, its diverse cast and Masi Oka’s wonderful, breakout performance.

Collision, written by Bryan Fuller (Star Trek, Wonderfalls), starts to bring some of the heroes together, as Peter gets in contact with Mohinder. Meanwhile, Claire wakes up in the morgue, and discovers Brody panicked after his attempted rape, and Matt finds himself in the clutches of Claire’s dad, who with the mysterious man Matt could not read, are trying to figure out his powers. Hiro and Ando are in Vegas, and quicky discover that there many things they can do with Hiro’s powers.

And Nathan is in Vegas also, to drum up some money for his campaign, while Niki is put in a position that will cause her alter ego to come fully out.

Anyway, another great episode as many things are revealed: Nathan may be just as evil as Claire’s dad; Isaac only see’s the future while on heroin; we get to see Niki become her killer opposite and Hiro finds out that while his power can make him rich in Vegas, he and Ando still get caught. That mysterious symbol pops up again, this time on Altered Niki’s back. And the episode has two more allusions that I caught: When Ando and Hiro care coming down the escalator in their new suits, it’s a direct shot from Rainman; and when Hiro and Ando are thrown out of the Vegas hotel they are ripping off, it in none other than The Montecito Resort and Hotel -the same one featured on NBC’s Las Vegas. Coincidence?

And then the cliffhanger: Apparently Hiro can travel backwards in time from the future, as we see him with long hair and speaking perfect English.

13 October 2006

Kidnapped slotted for Saturday; Medium returns in November

CBS confirmed this week that they've picked up Jericho for the rest of the TV season, ordering the back nine. This the third new program of the 2006-07 season to earn that right (behind Heroes and Ugly Betty).

Meanwhile, NBC has announced that Medium will return in Novemeber in a new timslot and day, airing Wednesday's at 10pm, filling the timeslot of the now cancelled Kidnapped, which will finish it's 13 epsiode run on Death Night Saturday.

Finally, with Stargate: SG1 coming to end this spring, it will not vanish altogether. MGM has granted the a green light and the money to produce two Stargate movies, most likely to debut on DVD. The first movie will deal with tieing up all the shows loose ends from the series finale, and will be written and directed by producer Robert Cooper. A second film will deal with time travel and will be written by Brad Wright. While no one has signed on, I'm guessing MGM would've never given the money if some or not all of the cast was returning.

Both films should be released in 2007.

11 October 2006

Battlestar's third season opener hailed by critics, fails to score bigger ratings

After four months of hype from the press on how great it is, one would've guessed the season opener of Battlestar Glactica would've scored Sci Fi's highest ratings. Sadly, while the show was the highly rated in the all important 18-49 demographic, it only scared up 2.2 million viewers, 900,000 less than the previous season opener.
Of course, there are other factors here. Season 2 opened in the summer time, when the only thing on is reality programs and re-runs. Plus, it also aired and hour later 10 pm on the west and east coast (9pm central). It also faces The CW's Smackdown!, now airing on the former WB networks (and moved from Thursday to Friday), which has shown a huge increase in viewership, and is the same audience that BG goes after.
There could be some that might even suggest that its lead-in, the new version of Doctor Who, could be effecting Galactica's ratings. Back when BG launched season two, the lead-ins were Stargate: SG1 and Stargate: Atlantis.
But, again, it was summer.
Was delaying the start of season three a good idea? One would guess that due to the fact that BG was, and still is, a critics love machine that it could survive the start of the broadcast networks TV season and the baseball play-offs?
Does anyone think that history is repeating itself?
Farscape was the same thing, loved by critics and hard-core fans, but slipping ratings geared the show to a halt when the bean counters at Sci Fi could not justify the shows budget with the low-ratings.
This does not bode well.