29 March 2010

Frontier Guard 1.10 "Gallant"

Frontier Guard Ep. 110 - "Gallant" from Frontier Guard on Vimeo.

Borders Book of Games

One persons view that we’re following the rules to the T is another person’s view of a hostile work environment.

The upper management with in Borders -at least in this region - are now beginning to eat their young, much like baby sharks. As the company continues to hemorrhage money, instead of cutting back in the boardroom and executive branch (where bonuses will be paid out for top executives who stay with the company for the rest of the year. Hey, where’s mine?) or even trying to figure out a way to make money for its few investors, it has begun what I called Operation Annoy the Staff Until They Leave By Enforcing Rules We’ve Never Really Enforced Before.

So, the situation is this: they’ve fired as many people as they can, so in what is their ultimate goal, getting rid of the full-timers, they’re enforcing rules -which I’m sure is in the Employee Handbook, but never really taken seriously - that will force those full-time and long-timed employees to finally leave so they can be replaced by -as I’m sure they’ll say - grateful long-out-of-work part-timers who will do and say anything the upper management feeds them, because, well at least they have a job.

Our employee lockers and our availability it the latest salvo. In all the years I’ve worked for them, the employee lockers were never a high priority when it came to decorations. It was a place to put pics of loved ones, jokes and what not. Now, sure, can some be over done? Of course. But to suddenly want to enforce it -especially when there are other things more important to keep Borders going - with subtle threats (“Well, if LP came in and saw this, I could get fired,” says the GM. “And you don’t want me to get fired?”) and no real explanation as to why its become such a high priority to clean them up and it just shows that the company no longer has any real control over anything. Again, as another analogy, they are starting to gnaw off the arm that they need to keep the company afloat.

My availability has been the same since I moved to this store almost 5 years ago. It’s been open, open, open. But because I worked on the now defunct IPT, my schedule was stable, Monday through Friday. I’m still do IPT work, which is all the sorting and the majority of the shelving, so keeping me on the same schedule was logical. It’s a proven fact that more shelving can get done when the store is closed. You could, I guess, shift that around and go back to what it used to be before the IPT was created, but you’ll never get caught up while the stores open. Never, ever. Because they tried to go back to it, and it failed. And they acknowledged that it failed.

Sorting does not have to be done during the days, but it is -again - more logical. I could come in late on shipment days and still do it, but if I have to work register or the floor, sorting gets behind. And with unboxed product sitting in the back that will contain inventory that people want to buy will not help your bottom line, either.

Anywho, the point is for the staff, they want another open availability form so if you complain about working crappy hours, or just not getting anything done, they can pull out that paper.

It’s just another very legal way of getting employees to quit. Hammer them with changes enough times, they’re bound to quit. And with this tough economy, who can really quit. You either do it, or bye-bye.

All their silly changes is what happens to company in this situation. It’s dying like an actor swallowing his last bunch of prescription drug. And like a junkie in need of a fix, it needs money. And like a true junkie, it takes that money from home, from the people who have been through thick and thin with you, through the bad times and the good. Borders is taking the very blood it needs to keep the wheels of this company going. Its taking staff and forcing them now to follow silly rules they never enforced when the company was doing better. It’s eating itself from within.

So, in the end, they’ve decided to ensure obedience by applying rules they’ve never really took the time to, well, apply. And if you can’t do it, well, then your gone. They can higher someone to replace you, but they’ll never find someone as good as you.

Plus since I do believe it is the goal of the company to get rid of all hourly full-timers, what might not be an easy way, but to shove these silly restrictions under their noses?

24 March 2010

Books: The Bucolic Plague: From Drag Queen to Goat Farmer by Josh Kilmer-Purcell

In the 1990s Josh Kilmer-Purcell was a world-renowned drag queen by night and an award-winning advertising creative by day. His partner, Brent, is a doctor working on the Martha Stewart. On one of their weekend trips to the country (as in a few hours out of New York that is not call the Hamptons), they stumble upon an abandoned old mansion and a huge piece of land. And to their delight, the Beekman Mansion, as it is known, is up for sale. One hour later, they have been transformed from uptight urbanites into the 200-year-old mansion-owning Beekman Boys. While being weekend farmers gives them joy, and money as they start making and selling goat-milk soap, things get tense for them as the economy and zombie flies disrupt the harmony of two gay men who do the unthinkable: start over, have a herd of four-legged kids and really get their hands dirty.

There are few ARC’s (Advanced Reading Copy) we get at work that I really want to read. Most are romance or new authors. This book grabbed me from the start, mostly with Kilmer-Purcell’s wit and his honest and enlightening tales that take place in the midst of the most really outlandish scenarios. It will make you laugh until you want to buy something from their web site.

22 March 2010

Frontier Guard 1.09 The Aqarii

Frontier Guard Ep. 109 - "The Aqarii" from Frontier Guard on Vimeo.

Final episode titles for Doctor Who: Season Five

The ones highlighted and italicized are the updated ones.

05.01 The Eleventh Hour - The Doctor meets new companion Amy. But what secret is she hiding in her home?

05.02 The Beast Below -Set on board a spaceship. Look out for a brand new nasty enemy. The Smilers!

05.03 Victory of the Daleks.- Set on board a spaceship. Look out for a brand new nasty enemy. The Smilers!

05.04 Time of the Angels (Part 1 of 2) by Steven Moffat
05.05 Flesh and Stone (Part 2 of 2)

The Weeping Angels return. Also The Doc's ''wife'' River Song.

05.06 The Vampires of Venice by Toby Whithouse - A fangtastic romp set in Italy involving some very old blood suckers.

05.07 Amy's Choice by Simon Nye - Two worlds collide. One's real. One's not. And why is Amy Pond getting bigger?

05.08 The Ground Beneath Their Feet (Part 1 of 2) by Chris Chidnall (Torchwood)
05.09 Cold Blood (Part 2 of 2)

This 2-part story brings back the classic Who villains the Silurians (first seen in the 1971 Third Doctor season and last seen in the 1984 Fifth Doctor serial Warriors of the Deep)

05.10 Vincent and The Doctor by Richard Curtis- An historical episode. The Time Lord meets the Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh.

05.11 The Lodger by Gareth Roberts - The Doctor is trapped on Earth with no TARDIS -this is also based on a comic story featured in DW magazine.

05.12 The Pandorica Opens (Part 1 of 2) by Steven Moffat
05.13 The Big Bang

20 March 2010

Books: The Wishbones by Tom Perrotta (1997)

It occurred recently to me that author Jonathan Tropper -I've read 3 of his five books over the last 8 months - could be classified as "guy lit," the male version of "chick lit," which are novels about written by women for women -the collected works of Sophia Kinsella comes to mind. And then there's Nicholas Sparks, who is a male author writing novels that only women like. You know, those Lifetime network novels about strong women and men who do manly things, but all have the heart of Romeo.

Anyways, was reading the priase that appear in Tropper's books and Tom Perrotta (Little Children, Election) was suggested as another author guys might like. Thus, this was how I picked up Perrotta's debut 1997 novel The Wishbones.

After witnessing the onstage collapse of a 73-year-old singer (right in the middle of his deadpan rendition of Madonna's "Like a Virgin"), 31-year-old Dave Raymond - the lead guitarist in a New Jersey wedding band - starts to feel intimations of his own mortality, and he does the unthinkable. He pops the question to his long-suffering girlfriend, whom he's been dating on and off for 15 years.

The next day, of course, he regrets it.

Thus he spends the rest of the novel trying to figure out how to get out of it, all while helping plan the fall wedding. He also stumbles into an affair with a bridesmaid at a wedding, who turns out to be a poet. Adding to the problems include a band that is slowly self-destructing, with each of its members facing a life changing issues.

While its another in a line of coming-of-age novels, The Wishbones is more original and fresh, with its incisive humor and pop-music riffs. Hilariously funny, it also unpretentious work of pure entertainment.

19 March 2010

Spoilers for The Eleventh Hour -Doctor Who's fifth season opener

There's a bushel of spoilers, following on from last night's premiere. Let's see... The opening episode is described as "Independence Day on the village green." The new TARDIS console "looks like it has been constructed from items out of a junk shop, including an old typewriter, a telephone, pressure gauges and a Morse code machine." The first episode's villain is indeed a shape-shifting alien.

Steven Moffat says, "At the end of the last story, the Tardis was exploding, so it rebuilds itself around the new Doctor. And because the Doctor is completely mad, it builds itself around his madness." It has hexagonal and circular "roundlets" built into the concrete and bronze walls, and besides the aforementioned three levels, there's a door leading to other rooms. And the junk on the console includes a gramophone speaker, a petrol pump, dials and pistons. The word "steampunk" is used.

The TARDIS, crashing to Earth in the 1990s, nearly hits Big Ben. The little girl he meets after it crashes is named Amelia Pond, and she asks, "Who are you?", hoping that he's come to fix the crack in her wall. Replies the newly regenerated Doctor, "I'm the Doctor. Don't ask stupid questions and do everything I tell you." His main priority is eating as much food as possible. Then the Doctor vanishes and reappears 12 years later, when Amelia (now Amy) is a kiss-o-gram dressed as a policewoman. And it turns out the crack in the wall that young Amy was worried about was actually a doorway to a prison that held a villain, whose escape leads the Atraxi to declare they'll incinerate all human life. There are just 20 minutes left to save the world. At one point in the first episode, the Doctor actually says, "Who da man?"

For the rough cut of episode one, at least, the show still had the same title sequence, only with a different font and a new logo. Matt Smith says "Geronimo" again, early in the episode. And the story is the weakest part of the first episode, which mostly focuses on the main characters. But it's still a great beginning, with some funny one-liners.

The newly regenerated Doctor's first words to Amy are to demand some food item, that's all he can think about. One character asks Santa to send them something unusual. Amy Pond's handy with a cricket bat. The TARDIS swimming pool and library are mentioned. Some familiar faces, previously seen on the show, make cameos, plus Patrick Moore, who thinks Amy's grandma is a fox. People refer to the Doctor as "raggedy," "magic" and "a disappointment." The Doctor commandeers a laptop to save the world using Twitter (!) and comes across something inappropriate. A fire engine turns into an unconventional rescue vehicle. The Shadow Proclamation is mentioned. The Doctor "bares all" to Amy.

It sounds like Amy doesn't jump into the TARDIS the first time the Doctor asks her to join him — she needs a bit of convincing. (Even though the young Amy was all for it.)

15 March 2010

When religion is allowed to think

Both of these are real, and not one of those sign generators sites.

The top one is shocking and rather stupid. The bottom sort of counter points

the asshattery of the above.

13 March 2010

Corey Haim's death linked to prescription-drug ring

California Attorney General Jerry Brown has said that actor Corey Haim’s death is linked to "illegal and massive prescription-drug ring."

Brown's office is investigating "an unauthorized prescription under the former child star's name that was found during an ongoing investigation of fraudulent prescription-drug pads ordered from a vendor in San Diego."

This announcement comes before the LA coroner has ruled on what exactly killed the 38 year-old actor early in the morning hours of March 10.

"Corey Haim's death is yet another tragedy linked to the growing problem of prescription-drug abuse," Brown said. "This problem is increasingly linked to criminal organizations, like the illegal and massive prescription-drug ring under investigation."

Brown told reporters that this ring uses stolen doctor’s identities to order prescription-drug pads to write counterfeit prescriptions. "The doctor whose name is printed on the form is usually unaware that his or her identity has been stolen for this purpose," Brown said. The AG’s announcement did not specify whether any of the prescription drugs found in Haim's apartment after his death were illegally obtained.

Only 11 days before his death, Haim had gotten a prescription filled for the two powerful drugs -most likely Oxycontin, though Brown only linked the drug to the investigation. His primary-care doctor did not know about the prescriptions and called the pharmacy two days later to find out what Haim had been given, a source told CNN.

Los Angeles County Deputy Coroner Ed Winter did say, however, several prescription-drug bottles were taken from Haim's apartment, indicating they were for Vicodin, Valium and Soma, although no tests have concluded if that was what they were.

It’s been reported that early autopsy shows Haim's heart was enlarged and he had fluid in his lungs. The coroner's chief investigator said a drug overdose has not been ruled out as the cause of the actor's death, however. Los Angeles County Deputy Coroner Ed Winter said. “You can have somebody with an enlarged heart and some other medical conditions, but you don't know if the actual cause of death is from illegal substances, medication or heart failure."

After nearly two-decades of substance abuse, it is possible his heart just gave out. And sadly, it appears his passing comes just as the actor was reviving her career. Now he’s just another reminder of how drug abuse will eventually catch up you.

10 March 2010

Books: Everything Changes by Jonathan Tropper (2006)

After reading Tropper’s fifth novel, This Is Where I Leave You last year and his second tome, The Book of Joe in February, I picked up his third book, Everything Changes, and once again, enjoyed a hilarious often touching tale about love, loss, and the perils of a well-planned life.

To all appearances, Zachary King is a man with luck on his side. A steady, well-paying job, a rent-free Manhattan apartment, and Hope, his stunning, blue-blooded fiancee: smart, sexy, and completely out of his league. But as the wedding day looms, Zack finds himself haunted by the memory of his best friend, Rael, killed in a car wreck two years earlier--and by his increasingly complicated feelings for Tamara, the beautiful widow Rael left behind.

When Zack's freewheeling, Viagra-popping father resurfaces after a twenty-year absence, looking to make amends, Zack’s life begins to spin out of control. While Norm's overbearing, often outrageous efforts to reestablish ties with his sons infuriate Zack, and yet, he finds something compelling in his father's maniacal determination to transform his own life. Inspired by Norm, Zack boldly attempts to make some changes of his own, and the results are not what anyone would have wanted: fists are flying, his love life is a shambles, and his carefully structured life goes spinning out of control.

As with the other two books I’ve read by him, Everything Changes is filled with intelligence and razor sharp wit.

Corey Haim dies at 38 -why am I not shocked?

Since news broke early this morning that 80's teen star Corey Haim had died at the age of 38 of what will probably be an accidental overdose of drugs, the news outlets have attached the film The Lost Boys as the film some of us would remember him by.

But for me, it was Lucas, the 1986 film written and directed by David Seltzer -his one and only film I can even care about. While the film is predictable -with its end of film football game, its nerdy kid that you know will be beat up again and again - its still a charming due mainly to Haim's performance, along with it supporting cast of Hollywood stars just starting out, like Charlie Sheen, and in their film debuts, Jeremy Piven, Courtney Thorne-Smith and Winona Ryder.

Film critic Roger Ebert even gave the film 4 stars, calling Lucas a film "about teenagers who are looking how to be good with each other, to care, and not simply to be filled with egotism, lust and selfishness, which is all most Hollywood movies think teenagers can experience".

While Haim went onto some moderate success with The Lost Boys, Silver Bullet and other dopey films such as Dream a Little Dream, License to Drive and Watchers (plus a slew of made-for-video craptaculars), along with a stint as a reality star with frequent co-star Corey Feldman on A&E, he appeared to reach his potential with that film.

From his late teens on, Haim went on to have a very public battle with alcohol and drugs, which ruined his good looks and destroyed his realtionship with Feldman (who also had the same battle, but able to get over his addictions) and Hollywood.

While his death is sad, and maybe another odd commentary on how Hollywood eats and spits out the young like Pez, I also still remain surprised Haim actually lived well into his 30's.

03 March 2010

Black Thursday at Borders II: Electric Screw You

Borders plans to eliminate more front-line workers on Thursday, March 4. The only thing is how many -rumors suggest its only another supervisor position -leaving a GM and two other supervisors. Others suggest all full-time staff members will be gone, though this is probably not logical. If only because most stores have no one to replace them with.

If the the layoff of another supervisor does happen, this means a GM will have to work a ton of extra hours. And think about this, if this is also true, it means that no one, even a GM can ever take any vacation time. And if one supervisor call out, a GM could put in a 14 plus hour day.

Where is the logic in this?

This is how Borders re-engages with its customers, by cutting staff?

01 March 2010

Fifth season of Doctor Who spoilers

From darkhorizon.com

In a press release BBC America has announced that the new season of the British sci-fi series "Doctor Who", with Matt Smith taking over as the eleventh incarnation of The Doctor and Steven Moffat becoming the series show runner, will have its U.S. premiere on the cable broadcaster starting April 17th.

The date means episodes will air two weeks behind the UK broadcasts which look to be kicking off April 3rd (not yet confirmed though). That gap may shrink later in the season due to factors like the Eurovision Song Contest and the World Cup affecting the UK broadcast dates.

Many responses to the recent 3D trailer indicated concern over the series becoming too young-skewed and "Twilight"-esque with yet another romance between the new Doctor and companion. A huge amount of what appear to be leaked story details over on Gallifrey Base however would seem to indicate quite the opposite.


In the first episode The Doctor's new companion Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) has a fiance, Rory Williams (played by "Little Dorritt" star Arthur Darvill), who will become a regular second companion in the second half of the season. It looks as if Rory comes onboard the TARDIS from the sixth episode, the Venice-set vampire story, and stays onboard for at least three further episodes. The Doctor apparently jumps out of a cake at Rory's stag night/bachelor party in one episode.

As previously reported Alex Kingston's Professor River Song character from the fourth season "Silence in the Library" two-parter will appear in the fourth and fifth episode of the new season - the two-parter involving the return of the Weeping Angels from "Blink". Moffat has said in interviews we'll see different and far more powerful kinds of Angels in these episodes as the ones from "Blink" were 'scavengers' and nowhere near the 'height of their power'.

Kingston will also return for the season's two-part finale which looks like it will be partly set in a museum of history and revolve around an object or creature called the 'Pandorica' which many across history have been pursuing including the Sontarans and possibly both the Daleks and the Cybermen. Roman soliders and Stonehenge are confirmed to be figuring into the story somehow.

The first embers of Song's future relationship with The Doctor will likely be laid out this season which should be an interesting mix on screen (Matt Smith is 27, Alex Kingston is 47). Richard Curtis' episode about Vincent Van Gogh (Tony Curran) will apparently have less scenes than an average episode as it's a talk-driven possible bottle episode (ala "Midnight," "Fear Her") albeit set mostly in 1880's Paris. Bill Nighy's guest spot as the Musee D’Orsay's curator Dr. Black will have the actor dressed in some "similar fashion choices" to The Doctor himself.

We may see an aerial dogfight between a spitfire plane and a Dalek saucer in the third episode entitled "Victory of the Daleks" which Mark Gatiss has penned. That WW2-set episode has a scientist using Ironclads (Daleks who don't seem to remember what they are) to help Winston Churchill (Ian McNeice) win the war against the Nazis.

The two-part Silurian episodes are said to have a female member of the prehistoric reptilian race romantically falling for The Doctor. That story, set in a future where global warming has had a major impact, has the creatures cannibalising bodies from graves. Events of the Third Doctor story "The Silurians" are apparently directly referenced, but it's explicitly stated that these are different kinds of creatures (which explains the visual discrepancy of no third eye).

Finally, due to the production shooting episodes out of order, filming is currently underway on the seventh episode of the series penned by Simon Nye ("Men Behaving Badly"). Gillan has been spotted on-set with a baby bump, though an insider tells The Sun it's for a dream sequence.