30 December 2008

Lost Promo

Yes, I cannot wait for its return!

My friend Pete and his son Hayden

Pete Merrick

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


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.


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


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

29 November 2008

The 27 Days of Christmas Music - Fairytale of New York -The Pogues

Movie: Quantum of Solace (2008)

Quantum of Solace, the 22nd James Bond (and the second film in the sort-of reboot of the franchise) is the first direct sequel of the film series. It begins mere moments after Casino Royale and opens with Bond taking Mr. White to be interrogated after the events of Royale.

While it’s a good action film, ultimately it fails to live up to what was begun (again) in Casino Royale. Daniel Craig makes for a great Bond and is more in tune with Connery’s take in the action part, but the film fails to capture what made Connery’s Bond so much the better. The whimsy and humor is all but gone, replaced by less than impressive villains and too much of an attempt to set the film in real world.

And, at times, one felt the production had watched the Bourne films too many times and tried to replicate it, but with less than stellar success.

And while director Marc Forster paid homage to its past, the film also tried to force itself into the real world, with political comments on the CIA, Bolivia and Hati, and seemly attacking corporations who claim to be green, but are using it as a way to cover up their involvements in coups and shady deals that make them money, even if a terrorist of sorts are born.

The action is intense, but there were a many of times when I felt I didn’t know who was who in the fight sequences. But the script is muddled down and at times, a complete mess. The villainous Mr. Greene is nothing more than a spoiled rich man, who does appalling things in pursuant of his goals, but evil genius he is not.

Still there are some great set pieces in the film, including the fight in the Opera House, the plane dogfight (which could’ve been done via CGI) and the opening car chase sequence.

In the end, it is a good action film, but Bond was never supposed to be one, I think. It was always supposed to be entertainment of the highest order, with beautiful women -the Bond Girls - great battles with villains who were more fantasy than real and gadgets. This turn to redundant, and silly realism might work in the long run, but the first two Bond films set in a post 9/11 world (as opposed to the Cold War) have shown that they have a way to go to make a truly glorious Bond film in the tradition of the 1960's Bond classics.

My Black Friday

So, Black Friday came and went with little fanfare. Of course, I was at work at 6 am, the store opened at 7 and I was out the door at 3. In between, we had mad rushes, lulls and typical Saturday crowds. If I was to be asked what sold the most, what people seemed to buying, all I could say was one word: Twilight.

We have a Twilight center set up in the front of the store, where we have all four novels (in both hardcover and paperback) in the popular Stephanie Meyer series set up. Added to fray is a movie companion book, pens, posters, buttons, magnets, T-shirts, jewelry (there's also suppose to be a perfume, but we've yet to get that in), and a calendar. Now one of the good things is, Borders is the only place selling that 2009 calendar. Who ever got that deal over in HQ is looking really smart now, especially after last weeks $70 million opening.

Twilight, maybe, could be what saves our company. The sales of all four books have been steady and should remain strong through the holiday season. Even if the movie sinks -it should, theoretically lose about 65% of last weeks business - the books and other ancillary products will continue to sell.

All that can prevent that is not getting copies of the books in. Out of the four novels, we did not have the second book, New Moon, in hardcover (and we should be sold out of the paperback by the end of the weekend). My feelings are, that we should not be sold out of any of them, but there you have it.

Beyond that, I can't really say there was one book that people wanted, though Jon Meacham's American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House sold pretty well as part of the 11 titles we had at 50% for the holiday weekend.

Well beyond the Twilight series, I don't see any book being the one everyone has to have, unless Oprah chooses an obscure title from a small publisher or one that a publisher did not expect to hit big -much like what happened with The Secret.

Still, there is a chance Yes We Can: Barack Obama's History Making Presdiential Campaign by Scout Tufanjian could be the one book everyone has difficulty getting. The first print run of 55,000 copies have already sold out, and the publisher is going back to the press -and it does not go on sale until December 8.

But we'll see.

26 November 2008

More things from Oak Park

It has to be the oddest 24 hours of my life. After learning of the death of my former Borders co-worker back in Oak Park, IL, I contacted that store this morning from work and talked to my old friend Kevin. While he was unsure of the full details of Pete's death -whether it was an accidental overdose of pills associated with his depression, or suicide (and for life insurance POV, I'm assuming the family will push for accidental) - he said that his wake was attended by a lot of people, which is good.

Then Kevin asked me if I had heard about Mariam, the former GM of that store who allowed me to transfer there back in 2000 when the store opened. I said no, if only because I had not seen her since she was fired from Borders in late 2004. Shockingly, he said about two weeks ago she woke up in the middle of the night and was complaining to her husband about not feeling well.

By the time they realized something was up and they rushed her to the hospital, she was gone. Dead at 50 of a heart attack.

It's so bizarre to know both of them are gone and such young ages. And the fact they die with in a few weeks of each other is even more weird.

I like Miriam, but she was very passive/aggressive and at times, that made work difficult. But she also was the first to give me the latitude to do almost anything at Borders with little or no supervision. She trusted me to get the job done, and to do it right (or my version of right).

It was all so surreal today, as my mind was a wash in sadness and total shock.

When I told this to a few of my coworkers today, one said things always happen in three's.

Gosh, I hope not.

25 November 2008

For my friend Pete

His name was Peter, or just Pete. We met in 2000, when we were setting up the Oak Park Borders at Harlem and Lake. He must’ve been all of 22 or 23. He was this lanky kid, tall and with cheekbones you could cut cheese on.

As typical of me, I would flirt with this young cute boy. Even though I knew he was straight. But Pete, well, he went with the flow. He was easy going, always in a good mood and his love for music would rival another friend of mine.

He was smart, charming and witty. His humor came from a deep well and he was always, always smiling. He married young, and I would tease him relentlessly about it.

But his greatest gift and love was music. I remember when John Mayer’s first CD came out and he kept telling me that is was brilliant and that the kid was going to have a great career. He hounded me until I bought it. So he had an ear for music, and would tell anyone who would listen that this was good, that is was not do good. He was always going to concerts, always, it seemed to me enjoying life.

I had not seen him since I left Illinois in the summer of 2005. Even after he left Borders, I would see him from time to time. Like most employees of Borders, once you work for them, you never ever leave them.

Today I got an email from my friend Marc, another former Borders employee. Marc still has connections with upper BGI music people. He asked if I had known a Pete Merrick who worked at the Oak Park Borders. It took me a moment to think, cause at first I didn’t realize who he was talking about.

And then the tears came.

It seems sometime last week, Pete took his life. He was 31.

I have no idea why or how, but I’m shocked to my toes. Truly, you never think this married man, with a baby son, would do something like this. But when someone does take their life, I’m guessing that’s the first thing you say.

But now, as I think about this, while I’m sad for his family, I’m also sad for myself. I cannot help but think how empty my life will be without Pete Merrick in it.

24 November 2008

Pappa, can you hear the rain?

So, I'm sitting here, waiting for the rain. I know, my pathetic life. Still, rain here in SoCal is always a big event. Still, despite the dire warnings being issued by all the weather casters here, I'll not believe a word of it until I see the rain touching the ground before my eyes.

See, the other aspect of rain here is that it hardly ever covers the entire area. The foothills and the mountains prevent a lot of rain coverage, creating areas that get a lot, to some that get barely a drop.

Which means maybe only 20 miles north of me could see inches of rain, and I could see very little or none at all. Still, we need the rain. It's dry as a bone here, but if we get too much we end up a year from now battling the wildfires. It's a damn, vicious circle.

19 November 2008


So what do you say when you have nothing to say?

When I started this blog, I thought I could post my daily thoughts, rants about pop culture and occasionally post images.

All too soon, I realized I have nothing to say. Or I just don't know how to get those thoughts out of my head and into the digital world. Sure, I can (and probably will) rant on about the Prop 8 failure here, and I'm waiting for the Star Trek re-boot, or whatever it truly is -but that's like seven months off.

Work is work, as we head in the holiday season. Nothing new to report there, as the customer are complete idiots and have no idea how things work. Plus they trash your store; so nothing new there.

And as for the future of Borders, well speculation continues. With Circuit City filing for bankruptcy protection and closing a 155 stores, one speculates that we'll either do that or go for total liquidation.

So, going forward, the hateful holiday season begins and add on the fate of the company, I guess I'm just depressed. Sometimes, I wish something would happen. At one time I wished for good and happy things, but I discovered that they are just pure fantasy.

My destiny lies not in happiness, but in the dark corners of nothingness and waste.

And why do I fall for straight men?

And when I do fall a gay guy, why does he not fall for me?

Why does God laugh at me?

13 November 2008

ABC pushing "Daisies" to the cancellation bin?

This week marks the end of shooting on episode 13 of ABC's under appreciated fantasy show Pushing Daisies.

Those are the only episodes the network ordered, and word has come through the trades that ABC will not order the back nine, which essentially means the series is at an end.

While ABC spokespeople are saying nothing, but the death of the show is a huge disappointment. Partly, though, its fall from grace can be blamed on last winters 100 day writer strike. Only 9 episodes were made before the show was shut down, and due to its complex production, no new shows could be made after the WGA strike ended. But faced with no new pilots, ABC picked the show up for a second season, but since it's return back on October 1, the show has failed to achieve its mediocre success from last year. It seems the viewers have moved on.

And sadly, it has trailed behind NBC's much lamented, and generally panned, re-do of Knight Rider (which is not a huge success in the ratings either, failing to match the ratings Bionic Woman got last year in the same time slot. And we know what happened to that show). Still, NBC picked up the show for a full season -and is revamping it for the back nine, dropping two cast members.

Daisies was one of the most creative shows on TV, sly and witty. Its a sad comment that American TV viewers would rather watch a craptacular show like Rider than one of quality and good humor.

Still, I must realize, that I'm a minority here. No-brainer TV shows like Knight Rider will always win, it seems, over intelligent and well-written, well acted programs like Pushing Daisies.

The one good aspect, if this becomes official, creator Bryan Fuller has said he’s sufficiently invested in the project to finish telling the tale of Ned, Chuck, Emerson and Olive via graphic novel or maybe a movie.

This cancellation could also help NBC's Heroes, as Fuller will probably return to the show to help shepard it through its final eight episodes (despite the firing of Jesse Alexander and Jeph Loeb last week, their stamp of approval will continue through episode 17). During its first season, Fuller was the showrunner and is credited with making the show the huge hit it was during that first year, include writing one the most critically acclaimed episodes of that season, Company Man.

Adam, JayTee, PeeKay and I (who took the photos) in Santa Barbara

11 November 2008

Movie: Tru Loved (2008)

On Saturday, I drove to Santa Barbara to support JayTee's last short I helped out with, And the Award Goes To... play at the 17th Annual LBGTQ Outrageous Film Festival. It's funny, as most of JayTee's shorts have played at festivals, but none near here. Which is why, I guess, he went with his husband Adam to Santa Barbara.

Anyhoo, I arrived at about quarter to six, after a 2 plus hour drive. We ended up having dinner and then went to the theater where the film festival was playing. And the Award Goes To was playing before the film Tru Loved, so I got to see it with an audience for the first time. It played okay, with the audience laughing in all the right places. One joke fell flat, but was laughed at the next night, so go figure.

So, Tru Loved is a from writer/director Stuart Wade, and tells the tale of teenage Tru, who has relocated San Francisco to conservative suburbia by her lesbian mothers. Tru struggles like all teens to fit in and find love, but her quest is complicated by sexual politics, closed minds, and closeted friends as she seeks to establish her school's first Gay-Straight Alliance (stolem from IMDB).

Wade deftly handles the comedy and drama, touching on some subjects that most gay films avoid, which is cross racial relationships. Matthew Thompson shines as Lodell, a young black boy trying his hardest to appear straight to all his friends. He hooks up with Tru (played with a beguiling sweetness by newcomer Najarra Townsend) to cover this -and who is clueless about his sexuality until one of her mothers points it out. The only one who blinks at the their relationship is his Grandmother, played by the legendary Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichols (of all people). It becomes a running joke through out the film.

The film does work, but thrives on way too many coincidences (like everyone, it seems, has a gay relative) and unrealistic turn of opinions. Still, with a supporting cast led by Nichols, Jasmine Guy (who would’ve thought?), Alexandra Paul, Bruce Vilanch, and Alec Mapa makes the film work for the most part. Then there’s up and coming actors such as handsome boys Tye Olson as Walter and Jake Able as Trevor who work wonders in their supporting roles.

There’s a few great one-liners (one about “I’m your Katy” had everyone laughing) and a brilliant cameo by comedian Jane Lynch who nearly steals the film, along with Mapa, who tries to do it from the start.

A good film, earnest film with a message.

Paramount releases more pic for the Star Trek re-boot, including the new Enterprise

I'm of mixed feelings here, as I like everything except the nacelles, which reminds me of a tail fin on an old Chevy.

Still, unlike a few out there, I'm still willing to give the re-boot a chance.

06 November 2008


It's time to fight the Good Fight

"In the clearing stands a boxer, and a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders of every glove that laid him down or cut him
til he cried out in his anger and his shame
I am leaving, I am leaving, but the fighter still remains
Yes he still remains."

Do I live in the land of the free and the brave?

Two days ago, the state of California made it sure that gay people are not part of that land and free statement. Nope, with outside peddling from the Catholic Church and the Mormons, Prop 8 passed, ensuring that gay men and women can be and will be discriminated against.

What strikes me most about this blow to equal rights is how some folks who have really no problem with gay people, the so called friends, who seem to think this is all about some judges who acted in defiance of the constitution (with the often ubiquitous "activist judges" thrown around because that seems to be the only word they know how to use; besides it also makes them sound smart) and the will of Californians. They claim they had to pass it, because if they let it fail, then the Constitution means nothing. That some sort of anarchy would be created if it was to fail.

These so called friends are not that at all, because a true friend would help out, no matter what the cost. These people are nothing but the mouth piece to religious zealots who command power through the use of money.

The influence of both the Mormons and the Catholics does not surprise me, but the fact that they got away with it, and the fact the Mormons now want everyone to treat people with "civility, with respect and with love" just astounds me beyond belief.

Jebus on a crutch, can Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the LDS be serious?

As Towleroad said, "Bitch, Please."

On Star Trek they say "revenge is a best dish served cold." And while revenge is petty and, at times, just as bad as the offense, I'm all for an appeal of all Church's tax exempt status. Force these weasels to start paying taxes, and they'll have less money to influence discrimination.

And this was never, ever about children (indecently, only children who are signed up for Comprehensive Sex Education in California schools are taught about gay relationships and sex., so you see how YES on 8 distorted the issue). I was talking to my cousins wife, a stalwart Republican. While she voted NO on Prop 8, she was able to shelter her two children, 11 and 8, from both the YES and NO groups. It wasn't until she passed a rally for YES on 8 that she had to explain to her kids what it was about. And as one who does not believe in lying to her children when they ask a question, she explained to them what was going on. She was not ready to say these things to her children, but she felt, in the end, that it was better to tell the truth.

So, ironically, it was the YES on 8 and not the NO people who forced her hand. Way to go.

But some of this failure to stop this was gays themselves. This was, perhaps, not the most important issue on our road to equal rights. Personally, as I've said before, call it a Civil Union. The word "marriage" carries too much baggage, too much pain and hate. Much like the abortion issue that polarizes a nation, having gays be able to call their commitment together a marriage is never, ever going to happen.

What we need to fight for, in all fifty states of this great Union, is equal rights when is comes to money, and life decisions. Once again, I'll note personal finance guru Suzie Orman when she says its sad that her partner is not entitled to get her money when she dies, because that partner is a woman and that their relationship is not seen as legal, like in straight and common law arrangements. Yes, even in common law arrangements, who ever survives does get their partners pension and inherits their belongings.

In a gay relationship, that is not so. If I have a pension and I die, my partner does not get it. As a matter of fact, my family members could then come to my survivng partner and take everything that was mine -including the roof over his head - and my partner would not have a legal foot to stand on.

And in anyone's book, that is not right.

And one more thing, before I leave, this is not a choice. The flimsy house of cards the religious right builds their argument on is quickly falling by the wayside, and that scares them. But the sad aspect, one I learned this past Saturday when a YES on rally was right outside my front door, that the only way these fools will change their argument is if science gives them 100% empirical evidence (though, they'll still cart out the "activist" phrase because, well, that's the only argument they'll have left). Nothing less than one hundred percent proof -as if the is any actual proof God actually exists.

And while the Catholics had modified their stance for the coming truth with the love the sinner, hate the sin propoganda, the Evangelical Christians will never, it appears, surrender to reality. They want to live in a closed world where only a few people have knowledge and power, and where the rest should be just just lambs, molified by endless episodes of Dancing with the Stars.

On Novemeber 4th, America overwhelming swept away the one of the last shackles of racial intolerence by electing a black man to lead our nation. We took a huge leap forward in this land of the free and brave, but after all the confetti settled, here in California, the people decided that discrimnating against the entire GLBT nation still okay.

After all, it was for the kids.

But like my friend JT said, I'm not done with Prop 8. It's time to become more visable in this battle for equality.

I can no longer sit back and let this intolerance continue. If the Mormons, if the Evangelicals, if the Catholics want a fight, well with my God behind me, I'll fight.

This separate but equal crap is over.

04 November 2008

History is made tonight as Barack Obama wins Presidency!

Barack Obama elected 44th President

NO on 8 -yep I VOTED!

Well, I voted.

And I, of course, voted NO on Prop 8.

Personally I do think they should call it a Civil Partnership or whatever. Calling it a marriage seems a lost cause and one I'm not really worried about.

What the YES on Prop fail to mention is that what we gays a really fighting for is the rights of our partner's benefits and other financial issues that straight couples get. If my partner dies, and he has a pension, I'm not entitled to it like a straight married couple is. Financial guru Suzie Orman has been saying this for years, that she finds it sad that when she dies, her partner - a woman - will not get any of her money and vise versa.

That's what this all about, really. Gay couples should get everything straight couples get -whether married or not, cause even common law gives the spouse the pensions and inheritance.

Plain and simple.

Fine, don't call it a marriage (but I will fight a constitutional change, if only because its unnecessary), but we should be entitled to our partners stuff when they die.

To deny us this, is to discriminate against us. And that, my friends, is where hate is born.

03 November 2008

On the eve of...

It's the eve of one the biggest -don't we say this every 4 years - presidential elections. We've come to the crossroads, folks. And now we all must decide who'll run this country for the next four years. I'm hopeful whoever wins, we as Americans will come together in unity. We've become a polarized country, fighting an endless battle between right and left, using religion as crutch for everything and failing to understand that our Founders had a reason to keep it separate from the rest of government.

Fundamentally, both Obama and McCain would -and should - govern down the center, if only because you have too. Going to far in either direction further opens the schism that is tearing this nation apart.

And let's not forget, we are a divided nation. I do believe in God, but I don't think a higher being such as a God would careless about who sits in a big white house. He wants us to live in peace and harmony, but we humans choose not live that way. Even the so called Jesus Freaks don't want that, you know.

Yes, we choose to be this way.

And until we decide its in the best interest to help all -instead of helping just yourself - we'll continue this schism.

America is great, but it can be a shallow greatness. Just scratch its surface, and you see the hate and the discrimination, the pettiness and the pain.

We need to grow up and stop acting like children on a playground.

Vote tomorrow, please.

01 November 2008

Discrimination comes to La Verne, Ca.

They claim its about protecting the word "marriage" and the kids, but what ever your feelings on marriage, Prop 8 is still about discrimination. That's why this must fail. Why we must fight anything that makes groups of people second class citizens.

And where were all the black folks?

It was a total white wash, and that made it even more scary.

I did end talking to one guy, and he admitted that he too was surprised that no one of color showed up.

Discrimination in any form must be stopped.

I also find it interesting that on City Hall grounds, this protest happened today.

"I'm ready to check out." Studs Terkel 1912-2008

I met him once when I still lived in Chicago, back in the mid 1990's when he was promoting his book Coming of Age: The Story of Our Century by Those Who’ve Lived It. I was working at Waterstones -the British bookseller that tried to make a name for itself in US - on the Michigan Avenue. We had a few minutes before his book signing, so him and I sat and talked. Well, he talked. And no one seemed to call him Mr. Terkel, because that seemed so ordinary. Studs was his name and he liked it that way.

He was, as I remember, a man with a passion and as Roger Ebert said he "represented the joyous, scrappy, liberal, generous, wise-cracking heart of this city (Chicago)."

If you met him you were his friend.

His career spanned decades and though born in New York in 1912, he moved with his family to Chicago when he was 8, and would become an honored son of the city I still have some love for.

Studs was a writer of the oral history, becoming the voice of those who had no voice, his books include the classic Hard Times, Working, Race: What Blacks and Whites Think and Feel About the American Obsession and recent bestseller Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Reflections on Death, Rebirth and Hunger for a Faith (written after the death of his wife in 1999) and what is to be his last book, P.S. Further Thoughts From a Lifetime of Listening due this November.

Listening was what he did, and what he heard, sometimes got him angry like when he got astonished in 2005, when he read a survey that showed "that most people think our best president was Reagan. Not Abraham Lincoln. FDR came in 10th. People don't pay attention any more. They don't read the news."

Or when he discovered that the FBI file on his wife was larger than his. J. Edgar Hoover thought he was a subversive. Hoover, he told Roger Ebert, had a lifelong suspicion of those who thought the Constitution actually meant something.

But at his heart, he cared for those voiceless people and he loved the city of Chicago.

Studs died yesterday, on Halloween of all days. Sadly, I think, he missed ever seeing his beloved the Cubs in World Series and will miss this election, something he had a passion for. As a liberal, you knew who was trumping for, but he once said "having been blacklisted from working in television during the McCarthy era, I know the harm of government using private corporations to intrude into the lives of innocent Americans. When government uses the telephone companies to create massive databases of all our phone calls it has gone too far."

He'll be missed.

30 October 2008

For Sara

One the earliest blogs I started to read was Sticky Crows

It's written by Tornwordo (AKA Richard) a Californian living with his husband Serge in the wilds of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. I've loved reading his tales of everyday life as a landlord to some odd assortment of people, his job teaching English to the French Canadians, his love of Serge (and poor Serge's inability to say certain English phrases, with Torn recording it for all of us to giggle at) and, mostly, his love of dog, Sara. Well, I'm certain Serge loved her too!

And this past Wednesday, Sara passed on. When I logged onto my blog today and saw that small image in the right hand corner of Sara, with the title "She's gone", I started to tear up (as I'm doing right now as I type this).

I clicked on the image and read about Sara's final moments.

I cried like I lost my own dog.

For those who never grew up with pets don't understand the emotional feelings we go through when that beloved pet slips this mortal coil. And I wish I could explain in words why we hurt so much, but I cannot. Love is love and our pets become much more family than a guard to protect us.

They are our family.

Perhaps the final lines of Beth Norman Harris' Treat Me Kindly sums up some aspect of our relationships with dogs and why we love them. And what we must do when the time comes.

"Please see that my
trusting life is taken gently. I shall
leave this earth knowing with the last
breath I drew, that my fate was always
safest in your hand."

And for Richard and Serge, I send all my hopes and prayers, but mostly hugs.

She'll never be gone, as long as you remember her.

29 October 2008

David Tennant to leave Doctor Who

In what is really no surprise (at least for me) Doctor Who star David Tennant announced he'll give up the role of the time traveling Doctor at the end of the 5 specials airing in 2009. Which means when the sci fi series returns for a fifth full season in 2010, there will be a new Doctor at the helm of the TARDIS.

When the series was cut short for 2009 due to Tennant's six month stint in Hamlet and then series show runner Russell T Davies announced his departure at the end of those five specials, there was some speculation that Tennant would leave also. Over the last few months, word had come from various sources that BBC was willing to give Tennant a huge raise plus a movie deal to return for a fifth season (and his fourth year in the role).

But in the end, one thinks the programs popularity was the reason for his decision.

He's at the height of his career right now, winning awards and praise from critics for his perfomance in Hamlet and has a huge following around the world. I'm sure movie offers are coming in left and right. If he was to stick around, I think he would regret missing out on some great roles that would stretch him as an actor.

All good things, as the saying goes.

I look forward to those five specials and what incoming showrunner Steven Moffat plans to do with the show in 2010.

Read more here.

28 October 2008

Ron Howard's Call to Action

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Is it me...

did singer Justin Nozuka
steal his act from Jack Johnson?