Monday, November 17, 2014

SOA Too Racy for the PTC

So, the Parents Television Council is up in arms about the opening sequence in last week's Sons of Anarchy episode, as it featured a variety of characters coupled in the act of (I believe the technical term is) "gettin' it on".

I have three issues with this:
  1. It was not pornographic, and actually did serve the story.  But actual content aside...
  2. There is a rating of TV-MA in big letters before the show and at the return from every commercial break, telling you exactly what "mature" content you're getting.  Seriously.  There's a list.  Violence.  Nudity.  Adult situations. Language.  It's all laid out for you so that you can decide as a viewer, "maybe I don't want to see this content, and I sure don't want my kids watching it."
  3. There exists magical technology called "parental controls" and your "remote control" (note the key word in both: CONTROL), both of which allow you to a) decide what your kids can and cannot view, and b) what you want to view, at a moment's notice.  Exercise this technology.
The PTC's complaint, as I understand it, is that the content on the FX network pushes the boundaries between basic cable and premium networks like HBO, and that they don't feel they should have to pay for content they find objectionable.

Sounds reasonable on the surface.  I mean, I'd rather not pay for the content coming from, say, Fox News (as it's far more damaging to the national psyche than any scripted drama), but we don't have an a la carte cable system, so there are a limited number of remedies to the situation.  First and foremost, use that remote and change the channel if it bothers you that much.  And if you're still up in arms about the content in a certain media outlet, boycott the show's sponsors.

But don't act shocked when a Kurt Sutter show depicts sex and violence.  That's like acting shocked that water is wet.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Seahawks Finally Bring it Home

Still euphoric.


Years of demeaning trash talk by the national sports commentators who are now forced to eat their words (with the exception of Howie Long and Michael Strahan, 'cause defensive players know what's up).  I love seeing them finally have to admit that it wasn't just about Denver not showing up - it's that the Seahawks showed up as a well-oiled machine (in every way) and took Denver behind the shed for a beating. 

Those of us who have followed the Seahawks through lackluster seasons but have seen the reconstruction of a great franchise under Allen, Carroll and Schneider knew what was up.  I get that unless you live here you don't truly appreciate the significance of what it means to the region. It's easy to dismiss a team with a lackluster history prior to the 2002 conference switch (into a division they would own to this day).  It's easy to dismiss an entire region because they don't represent an east coast media market.

But the stats don't lie, and the Hawks' performance last night was living proof that defense wins championships.  Manning is one of the best QBs to play the game, but no matter how good, quarterbacks don't single-handedly win games, especially when rattled.  And in both the preseason rout and the Super Bowl, it's clear that he's not used to what the current NFC West - and specifically the Seahawks - bring against him.  That said, the man is a class act.  One of the first things he did after the game was go to Richard Sherman and inquire after his injury.

I'm looking forward to seeing how the next few seasons shake out.  With competition hot and heavy between Seattle and San Francisco, it will only raise everyone's game in the NFC West - and continue our division's dominance nationally.

For now, I'm just savoring the collective joy exuded by my adopted hometown (where I've now lived half my life), and breathing a sigh of relief that the team we've invested so much time, energy, faith and money in executed their objective as expertly (and more so) as any in the game - and who do so much off the field for their fans, community and region. 

Well done, Seattle Seahawks!  Way to bring the Lombardi home.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Sweethearts, Rediscovered

For those of you still following this sporadically-updated blog of mine, I wanted to let you know that the project which has been taking so much of my energy and focus has just launched part 1.

I may have mentioned before that my great-grandaunts were radio pioneers in the 1920s, and that they recorded for Edison.  Not just the Edison Recording Company, but for Thomas Friggin' Edison himself.  Seems the old guy had a soft spot for Hawaiian music, and insisted on engineering a couple of their songs when they were recording at the New York studio.

In any case, the MacDowell Sisters (we're not sure where the Mac came from, since they'd gone from Mac to Mc during the previous generation and were McDowell on all official records) were known by the nickname "Sweethearts of the Air" and at their zenith were the #2 radio variety act in America.  And in 1930, they finally put their memoirs on paper - the history of everything they'd done to get to be the #2 radio variety act in America.  Including: their early lives as the middle sisters of seven children, the sons and daughters of literal pioneers in the backwoods of Ohio and the sandy dirt farms of Kansas; putting themselves through business college to be able to provide for themselves and help the family finances; going into business for themselves as public stenographers; traveling the country by rail and making their living in each new city by setting up shop and providing steno services for local businesses; working as secretaries to Congressmen and war correspondents for the Daily Oklahoman during WWI; traveling to Hawaii and falling in love with native music - then learning to play said native music and help bring it to the mainland at the beginning of its heyday as the dominant popular music in the States.

Yep, these gals were wicked cool.  There was no such thing as too great a setback, too large a challenge.  Though their reign was short, their history is fascinating.  And now it's here.  In their own words.  Only 80+ years in the making.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Here We Go Again

I don't know what meaning the decision to return to the blog on what would have been Samantha's 46th birthday actually holds, if any.  But here we are.

The holidays were busy, projects professional and domestic galore.  And another February 11th has rolled around and left me somewhat confused at my own emotional reaction.  I know that grief isn't linear, and a wave can hit you at seemingly random times when you least expect it.  But on the flip side, I'm very happy in my marriage with Rae and have relatively great relationships with my kids.  I want for very little on an emotional level.  So when this year's 2/11 rolled around and the grief-bus ran me over, I was pretty confused.

Some of it is that I've been missing my dad a lot.  Between Sam's birthday on the 11th, Valentine's Day on the 14th (which is when our house burned down) and Dad's on the 27th, February is not my most favorite month ever.  It just also happens to be the month that Raechelle and I are doing a pretty big 28-day liver cleanse, which means my body is detoxing like a mofo -- caffeine and sugar withdrawal especially -- which further means that I'm feeling not-in-control.  And the entire reason we decided to do this was because of Raechelle's liver issues... so not being in control and having a wife with a liver illness are both kind of enormous triggers.

I guess I probably just answered my own question.  Hooray for blogging.

Sting, play us off...

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Overload Update

Now that Seattle's annual two-week heatwave is over and the temps are now in the "reasonable" zone (with lots of lovely sunshine left to go around), I can take a break from the maelstrom of projects that is my life and update y'all on what's been going down in Toddwannaland.

Mystic East: A World Resource for Arrowflight is available.  It has gone live on DriveThru RPG and, and is going up on other stores soon.  We're currently scrutinizing print proofs as well.

Cover draft
Editing is proceeding on All Aboard!, the MacDowell Sisters' memoir.  I'm simultaneously adapting it to screenplay, which means I'm studying the historical record as well.  It's very interesting what Edie and Grace left out - but the memoir is, after all, a PR device, so mentions of their marriages and children who died are given little mention.

Did another pass on Green Light and passed it along to three trusted film associates.  We'll see what they think about the revised third act.

Shriek X is almost done with layout.  It will go live just in time for fall/Halloween roleplaying sessions.  Mark Bruno wrote an outstanding skeleton several years ago, and Gavin and I stitched an unholy monster together over his framework. 

Meanwhile, discussion has begun on the subject of The Collectibles season two.

And that's the scoop.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

I'm on a Train

Okay, so I've been on a train before. A few times, in fact.  And at least one overnight excursion.  But this was my first business trip taking almost two full days and crossing three states.  That's right.  Landon and I took the Coast Starlight to San Diego Comic Con.

What better train to take to a comic convention?
  Some observations on taking the train:
  • It's far more civilized than the circus air travel has become.
  • There is no TSA to frisk you when you get on board; no cancer-causing backscatter machines, no invasive pat-downs.  Instead of being treated like a criminal, the passenger is treated like a paying customer and guest.
  • The carbon footprint for rail is similar to or lower than air, depending on the trip.
  • Our sleeper tickets (first class) were comparable in cost to coach air tickets, and afforded us a shared private cabin which converted to dual bunks.  Plus all of our meals were included.
  • The seating is far more comfortable than coach air seating, and the overstuffed swivel armchairs in the parlor car puts even first class air seating to shame.
  • Complimentary champagne upon embarking.
  • Unlimited access to luggage.
  • A dedicated steward to administer each car.
  • Free WiFi - which was spotty at times but allowed us to work from the luxurious parlor car.
  • Said parlor car has a dedicated steward who offers full bar service as well as meal service with selected menu items.  And while the dining car accommodates all passengers, the parlor car is only for sleeper passengers and therefore is less crowded and generally more comfortable to take meals in.
  • Showers.
  • A movie theater.
  • An arcade.
  • A pretty impressive menu of excellent food.
  • Reasonably unrestricted movement about the cars to stretch one's legs or whatever.
  • Amazing scenery.
  • Meeting and talking to fellow passengers.
  • Wine and cheese tasting.
Parlor car is the shizzlepants
 The only advantage air travel has over rail is speed.  So if you have the time, and slowing down a bit seems like a nice change, I highly recommend rail.  As a nation, I think we should do more of it, and should invest in updated, more modern trains (like Europe and Japan).  That would make it more energy efficient AND reduce some of the time factor.

Work proceeds in the sleeper cabin
So yes.  I'm a fan of the train.

The end of the line was at Union Station in Los Angeles.  From there, we took the Surfliner (commuter train) to San Diego.  We got in at almost 1AM to discover the hotel had mis-booked our reservation as starting the following day, but they found us a room at a local HoJo*.  It was clean and quiet, and a little more comfortable than a sleeper bunk.

In the morning, we set out for the trolley, headed over to the Convention Center, and there we encountered 140,000 geeks.  It was packed, both inside the center and within a six-block radius outside.  We killed time waiting for our new hotel room to be ready by wandering up the streets and locating the U.S. Grant Hotel, where my great-great aunts set up shop as public stenographers in 1915-1916.  We talked to a very enthusiastic concierge, took some photos, then headed back to the con to meet up with our contact, the guy who does the film programming.  We secured our passes and headed to the hotel to drop off our luggage, then took the free shuttle back to the con.

San Diego Convention Center
Ended up at the information booth standing right next to high school buddy and fellow filmmaker Mark Allen, and we made plans to meet up for dinner.

A place of honor: following The Princess Bride and leading into JourneyQuest
The Collectibles screening had a small but enthusiastic audience, and the season looked really nice on the big screen in 1080p.

The Collectibles full season screening
We spent the next day walking the main floor, catching up with friends or making new contacts.  By the end of it, however, I was ready to be away from people.  We met up with one of Landon's film friends who now lives in San Diego and she took us out for drinks before dropping us back at the hotel, where Landon and I proceeded to close down the hotel bar.

Inside the Convention Center
View from the Hilton restaurant
Needless to say I felt like crap the next morning, and decided my last day in San Diego was going to be an actual vacation day.  I slept and lounged by the pool while Landon took in the con for one more afternoon.  We left early the next morning and repeated the train trip in reverse.  When all was said and done, Landon and I arrived home safely having spent an entire week together without wanting to kill each other.  That's the kind of camaraderie long film shoots under hot lights creates.

Union Station/Santa Fe Depot, San Diego
I've now been to Wonder Con, Dragon*Con, Dragonflight, GeoCon, Gen Con, Comic Con International, every Jet City Comic Show, every Emerald City Comicon, and the first two E3 shows.  At 44, I'm pretty much done with long lines, sensory overload, huge crowds of people and the smells that accompany same, especially in high heat and humidity.  I love visiting conventions and trade shows as a professional and enjoy making contact with fans like at The Collectibles world premiere at ECCC.  But this trip reinforced the fact that I'm really not the hardcore fanboy I once was.

By the power of Grayskull!
And that's probably okay.

*HoJo = this, not this.