Sunday, October 09, 2011

I'm a 21st Century (Digital Boy)

Except I do know how to read, and my dad's not lazy. And my mom's not on Valium (and she's pretty effective; and so, I suspect, is Valium).

I also wouldn't call myself "schizoid. And I don't know what it means to be "video", but I'm probably not that, either.

But I do have a lot of toys.

So guess I'm a 21st Century (Digital Boy). Ish ...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Fall 2011 TV

Fall TV is right around the corner, and the networks are geared up to inundate you with around 30 new shows -- a pretty heavy slate.

I'll be watching a lot of it, because (A) I'm supposed to "as a actor", to see what's trending, and where there might be dayplayer or co-star roles for me, and (B) because I likes it.

So, outside of college/NFL football and hockey, below is my subjective list of most-anticipated new and returning TV shows. Let me know in the comments which shows to which you're looking forward.

I've got a Google calendar I'll share with "select" folks if you request it (if I know/trust you; I don't like how Google exposes my Email in a shared calendar, so I'm not going to make the calendar public).

CliqueClack TV has a decent iCal / Google calendar of the entire fall lineup, though I did notice a few of the start dates/times are bit off.

Here's my list, organized by network (check local listings for final dates/times):

New Shows:

  • ABC
    • Charlie's Angels -- Yeah, I am looking forward to this TV treatment of a movie treatment of a TV series. TV life's come full circle, and this could be a fun, Alias-lite type show. (Sept. 21)

    • Last Man Standing -- Tim Allen returns to TV, along with Nancy Travis. I'm hopeful Allen has matured as a TV actor beyond the endearing schlock of "Home Improvement", and I like (and identify) with the conceit of a parental-role-switch-cum stay-at-home dad trying to maintain his manliness in the midst of raising daughters. (Oct. 11)
    • Man Up! -- There are a few shows that make me angry for missing the pilot season casting call, and"Man Up!" is one of those. The log line sounds like someone's been following me and two of my friends with spy cams: "Three best friends -- all in various stages of relationships -- struggle to define their lives as modern men. They're sensitive, play video games and use body wash, but strive to maintain they are are still manly men." It's not a sitcom -- it's a reality TV show of my life. (Oct. 18)

    • Once Upon a Time -- Dunno why I so like Jennifer Morrison, but there it is. This is one of two fairy-tales-are-real TV series this fall (coincidence? Leaky pitch?). The premise is Morrison is the daughter of Snow White and her Prince Charming, and the various other princesses, prince charmings, and villains of what feels like live-action treatments of largely Disney-esque  fairy tales (it is ABC, after all) have been moved forward and trapped in time in the little town of Storybrooke (hopefully, the rest of the series will be less heavy-handed). (Oct. 23)

  • CBS
    • Person of Interest -- OK, it's a suspense series with Michael Emerson and Jim Caviezel, backed by J.J. Abrams and Jonathan Nolan? I predict strong characters and edge-of-seat moments, sub-threads that twist and resurface, and my butt in a seat watching it Sept. 22. (Sept. 22)

  • CW
    • Ringer -- Sarah Michelle Gellar is pretty amazing, and gutsy as an actress; I'm hopeful this network-homecoming-of-sorts really stretches her, and shows critics what she can do. Part of the magic is she's in dual roles as a Vegas showgirl ditching the mob and fleeing to New York (oh, the irony!) where her socialite twin has just disappeared. Sexiness! Suspense! Mystery! Sanctioned actress split-personalities! (Sept. 13)

    • Hart of Dixie -- I could pawn this one off as a concession I'm making to watch at least one show with my wife this fall, but the truth is, I'm looking forward to this. Rachel Bilson stars, and she made a good impression on me in "How I Met Your Mother" and "Chuck", so I'm I'm glad she's getting a leading role. "Friday Night Lights" Scott "he-should-have-been-cast-as-Green-Lantern" Porter plays a possibly predictable love-triangle interest, but I'm excited to see him show off another facet of his beefy acting chops. (Sept. 26)

  • FX
    • Terra Nova -- I'm thinking this is "The Lost World" / "Land of the Lost" (minus the cheese) for our generation, and Steven Spieldburg is the name Executive Producer attached to the show. But there's a strong production pedigree for this show with the likes of Craig Silverstein, who EPed "Nikita" (also back for another season), and has his hands in "Bones"; co-producer Livia Hanich, who was involved in "Pushing Daisies"; René Echevarria, who EPed everything from "Dark Angel" to "The 4400"; and Peter Chernin just came off of producing the Rise of the Planet of the Apes film.  (Sept. 26)

    • American Horror Story -- Okay, if I can withstand the creepiness factor (teaser trailers are freaky), I'm on-board for this Dylan McDermott / Connie Britton / Jessica Lange family drama / TV occult suspense show about a family that moves from Boston to LA, and finds their new house haunted. This is going to be a tough conceit to hold onto for the long haul, so I hope they find a way to give it legs. (Oct. 50)

  • NBC
    • Up All Night -- Granted, my main interest in this is cathartic, but this Will Arnett / Christina Applegate comedy about sleep-deprived parents is getting great early buzz. (Sept. 14)

    • Prime Suspect -- I'm worried about the staleness of the backdrop (lady dick trying to make it in a male-dominated police workforce), but it's Maria Bello, for crying out loud (A History of Violence). And not to be creepy, but I could watch her just sleep every episode. (Sept. 22)

    • Grimm -- Show number 2 of the fairy-tales-are-real TV fall series sees "Privileged" alumn David Giuntoli as a homicide dick who can see dead mythical (mythological?) people through their faux human skins. I'm hopeful this is "Fringe"-fun-esque, but I'm mostly interested in "Prison Break" ex Silas Weir Mitchell playing a wolf (he looks like a wolf, so I'm glad he gets to play one). (Oct. 21)

  • Starz
    • Boss -- Kelsey Grammer is a loud, cruel, secretive Chicago Mayor Tom Kane, and playing deliciously against type. (Oct. 21)
Returning Shows:
  • ABC
    • Dancing with the Stars -- I can't say why; I just might have to watch this season. (Sept. 19)
  • CBS
    • Survivor -- I've watched every season since this show started, and it's become more of a curiosity endeavor, and not really borne of any fandom. They just ... keep doing it. Is Jeff Probst enjoying the gig while it lasts, or living in desperate fear of it ending? I hope it's the former; good for him. (Sept. 14)
    • How I Met Your Mother -- It hasn't jumped the shark yet, and if you're not a fan of the series, that's fine. But let's never talk about it together if that's the case. Ever. (Sept. 19)
    • Hawaii 5-0 -- Haters dog the series as "CSI"-lite, but I have trouble staying engaged in the 18+ series around that franchise. Occasionally, though, "Hawaii 5-0" does something great, and I'm all in. Besides, the Season One cliffhanger did enough to hit "reset", while keeping the bigger story arcs intact, that I'm looking forward to what they do with the series's new headroom. (Sept. 19)
    • Big Bang Theory -- Polished sitcom material dressed in a comfy geek housecoat, how I miss you. Costant digs at geekdom, nerddom, intelligentsia, and failed acting all keep me entertained ... and humble. (Sept. 22)
    • The Amazing Race -- As far "Reality TV" goes, here's a PSA: It's not real, it's scripted, staged, and hermetically edited. "The Amazing Race" is tolerable for me, because it's really more competition-esque, with less drama than others of its ilk, and I get a free travelogue with interesting happenings in between. Plus, I like Phil Keoghan; seems like a really nice guy, passionate about not wasting any moment in his life. (Sept. 25)
    • Rules of Engagement -- I've not been following this show lately, but I want to get back onto it. I so dig Patrick Warburton, and Megyn Price is a seriously under-appreciated actress. (Sept. 24? Oct. 8?)
  • NBC
    • Community -- Consistently under-the-radar, and consistently great, it keeps reminding me I shouldn't think I know what to expect from a caliber sitcom. (Sept. 22)
    • Chuck -- I so love this heartistic series (that's right, I'm using "heartistic", and applying it to  "Chuck"; deal). Sure, they've already said this is the final season, and yeah, the log-line for the season sounds like an entire season of jump-the-shark. But before they announce the world's greatest flawed super spies are going to have a baby, I'm all in with Chuck, Sarah (she does all that emoting .. in a second language), Morgan, Casey, Ellie, Captain Awesome, and Jester. (Oct. 21)
  • TV Land
  • USA
    • Psych -- I'm late to the party, but I so follow a show I passionately believe I could do. I'm more than midway through catching up on the entire series, and as fun and goofy as this series can be, every once in a while James Roday, Corbin Bernsen, Maggie Lawson give these moments of absolutely brilliant acting ("I'm close-talking") that makes the series so, so much more fun. (October 12)
That's my list. Tell me in the comments what shows have you stoked for this fall.

Other TV/Episode links:
(And, yes, I did say, "lady dick" up there. I'm prepared for disappointed Google landers.)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Inspiration and creativity (within constraints)

This my be one of the more poignant, beautiful bits of independent / contest film work I've seen in some time. But I seem to be more sensitive to this theme lately.

The "Porcelain Unicorn" was written and directed by Keegan Wilcox, and was the grand-prize winner for the Philips Parallel Lines "Tell It Your Way" international competition.

What makes this film all the more startling to me is its beauty underneath the contest constraints -- while entires could be any genre, told in any way, they had to follow six specific lines of dialogue from the Parallel Lines films:

  • "What is that??
  • "It’s a unicorn"
  • "Never seen one up close before"
  • "Beautiful"
  • "Get away, get away"
  • "I’m sorry"

Add to that the constraints and successes that get me stoked about the Biz: Wilcox has a small, tight-knit production company in LA, and they put the film above together start-to-finish in under two weeks.

Out of more than 600 entries, films were narrowed down to 10 finalists by a judging panel from Ridley Scott Associates (RSA), British Academy of Film & Television Arts (BAFTA) and Philips (the electronics folks), based on creative and original storytelling, interesting use of the Parallel Lines dialogue, and technical achievement. The film was selected by contest marshal and director Sir Ridley Scott, because "it had a very strong narrative; a very complete story that was well told and executed."

The contest film was inspired by Wilcox's grandfather’s war stories, and the "hero’s journey" of a Joseph Conrad novel.

As a reward for winning, besides being promoted six ways to Sunday by Philips, Wilcox will work for a week onsite at the Ridley Scott Associates offices.

Projects like these take a ton of talent people, so be sure to check the link to recognize those fine folks, and the runners up and People's Choice winner are good films, too.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Red Skull is a Nazi

Art by David Aja (image from
The Red Skull is a Nazi.

And you know what? Nazis are bad.

I don't mean "there's this jerk at work who doesn't do anything and spends all his time politicking because that's his only skill" bad, but "Genocide is a too-nice term for their actively killing massive amounts of men, women, and children because they didn't meet their ####-up standards of perfection" bad.

But I'm wondering -- not flippantly -- did Nazi's become a protected class at some point? Because in movies and comic books, it seems like you can't mention them, or show swastikas as a symbol of evil that we should not forget, and a pop-culture introduction to that horror might just be the gateway to more challenging dianoia.

I'm wicked stoked (and wicked nervous) about the upcoming Captain America: The First Avenger film. Excited, because a quality big-screen treatment is far overdue, I'm a lifetime franchise fan (Cap was my first comic book at 5 years old), and I think if director Joe Johnston can bring his Rocketeer and Young Indiana Jones Chronicles vibe to the Star-Spangled Avenger, it's a win. I'm nervous, because Captain America as a representative ideal means a lot to me.

I expect the film be a fun, mostly light-hearted romp, not necessarily prompting weighty discussions; but it is a launching point for them.

The Red Skull is going to be the main baddie in the film, but the film changes his origin in a significant way. Rather than portrayed as he is in the comic books as the goose-stepping protégé who eventually outstrips and frightens Hitler himself, he's couched instead within the clandestine, apolitical organization HYDRA (also from the comic books).

Now, I'm all for new expressions of franchise IPs (it allows me to be a Hasbro fan), and I totally get that for them to be successful in their non-generative medium, changes need to be made -- this smacks of commercialism with an unintentional bad social impact.

Allegedly, the Red Skull's affiliation was changed so the film would do well in overseas markets -- ostensibly Germany, where there's an understandable sensitivity to an ugly portion of that country's history.

Sure, there's an intelligent sensitivity aspect to this decision; though I doubt that's the driver. And the cost is potentially bigger.

I mean what I said earlier, where pop-culture can be a less-threatening entry to important concepts with which we should wrestle (there's an analog to edgy stand-up comedians making us laugh at things that would make us uncomfortable in intellectual-only situations). Hiding thorny things for marketing purposes is kind of the ... opposite of "Never Forget".

Interestingly, when Paramount Pictures (who is distributing the film overseas), was going to market the film in non-US markets, they balked at the planned idea of truncating the title to just "The First Avenger" -- arguing "Captain America" has too much brand recognition to remove from the film title. So they gave those various markets the choice between "Captain America: The First Avenger", or just the "The First Avenger".

Somewhat surprisingly, Ukraine, South Korea, and Russia are the only three having decided to date to go with just the truncated title; Germany is keeping "Captain America" intact. (China's still up in the air, since they only release south of two-dozen non-national theatrical releases per year, and it remains to be seen if Cap will be one of them, and what its marketing title will be. As a side note, it was also Paramount who chose to remove "A Real American Hero" from the G.I.Joe film title.)

So, at least for the most part (in this instance), brand recognition trumps, and the film gets to keep ... the name of the guy wearing a freaking giant American flag as his uniform.

Funny enough, the crew members-only poster (an excellent nod to 1940s art sensibilities) is a re-work of the cover of Captain America #1 from 1943 -- including Chris Evans punching Adolf Hitler (ah, but still no sign of swastikas; though Hitler's arm is cleverly obscured by a Luger P08).
"Captain America: The First Avenger" crew member poster (image from

Captain America #1, December 1940 - a year into WWII, but a year before the bombing of Pearl Harbor (image from
Even in the comics, for some reason, the Red Skull's affiliation to the Nazis is being downplayed.

As an example, I'm looking forward to the Red Skull: Incarnate limited series, and I'm a David Aja fan (and these covers are fantastic). But notice this cover:

No swastikas.

Here we have Johann Schmidt doing the sieg heil, but the symbol of Nazi barbarism is missing.

From David Aja's blog:
"At last was decided not to show swastikas on covers, but we thought readers' brains would fill blanks ..."
Sure -- if readers know enough about some of the horrors of history needed to fill in these blanks.

(And to be clear, I'm not at all criticizing Mr. Aja in this, just raising my larger concern.)

I'm not trying to be alarmist or make something out of nothing, but I honestly feel there are truisms we shouldn't ignore. Truisms like Edmund Burke's "Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it" (or George Santayana's more oft-quoted rephrasing, "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it").

At some point, societally, I think we do forget things. That happens over time, and the death knell is at some defined, measurable point we either have to figure out reactively, or for which we should actively watch.

"Never forget" is a mantra for the horrors of World War II, so we don't forget the brutality of some people toward others, and we don't forget the tragedy and cost of lives lost to that brutality.

To be totally insular (but to make a point with doable math), if I just consider the U.S. Armed Forces WWII veterans, there are estimated to be fewer than 2 million surviving. Within 6-10 years at current projections, we may lose the last of our living links to this important part of our history (though organizations like The National WWII Museum are doing what they can to capture oral histories from veterans and survivors).

Now, encouragingly, there are other places in the Marvel comics where the history and horror of things represented by symbols like the swastika are still remembered.

The amazing Ed Brubaker, whose current run on Captain America is currently one of my all-time favorites -- has reintroduced Sin, the Red Skull's daughter, and kept her and her father firmly entrenched in their Nazi origins.

Even in the current "Fear Itself" cross-over story arc (largely led by writer Matt Fraction), Sin and her armies are razing the entire United States  -- including the Capitol -- in their "Blitzkrieg USA", with giant war machines blatantly festooned with swastikas. Various participating comic writers are subtly (but explicitly) calling out this symbol via characters, noting its horrid history, and its current use to intentionally strike fear into the populace.

Going back to the commercial reasons for losing the Swastika from films and comic books (and to somewhat complicate the issue further) there's a related, cultural sensitivity reason to exclude the symbol.

It's not like the National Socialist German Workers' Party (or the precursor Thule secret society) invented the swastika. It's originally a sanskrit symbol, ironically a one-time good-luck symbol, and it still has wide active use in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Since India is a large populace (and an important commercial audience for US films), removing the symbol probably makes a lot of sense. There's a bigger, more complicated discussion here about misappropriation of symbols, whether such misappropriation can irredeemably damage a symbol or trope, and cross-cultural isolationism. (Though, to be clear, the red/white/black Nazi expression of the symbol is unequivocally negatively iconic.)

Getting above the weeds a bit, commercial concerns by themselves are certainly valid -- films are so expensive, and if they don't do gangbusters in all markets, we fanboys aren't going to get big-budget treatments of our franchise favorites.

My concern is that in the service of the dollar, or cultural sensitivity, or "playing it safe", even in these "light-hearted" pop culture vehicles like the Captain America movie, we will lose focus on the importance of remembering key parts of our history -- and in so doing, forget the cost, and how to avoid similar horrors in the future.

(Flame on!)

UPDATED: I've seen the new Captain America movie, and read the first issue of the new Red Skull comic series.

My feelings on this topic from the movie are mixed. There are nods to swastikas in the film, though they are creatively covered, hidden, and otherwise kept from full view. And while in the film Hydra is positioned as a division of the Nazi war machine, that in some way deflects the history of the horror the Nazis caused.

My feelings on the Red Skull: Incarnate limited comic book series are far less mixed (and very positive). While I still wish the swastikas had not been removed from the cover art, they are portrayed prominently, accurately, and frighteningly in the interior art. Even more importantly, writer Greg Pak is making this series an opportunity to accurately portray how not just the Red Skull, but the Nazi party, came into power. He is painstakingly portraying the culture and global events of the time, with a stated hope that people will tackle the thorny subject of how this happened, and how we might prevent it from happening again. He's even providing bibilography and further reading in each issue.

I'm impressed and excited by this mission of Greg Pak's -- it's encouraging, and weightier than I expected (my semi-myopia, nothing on Mr. Pak, obviously).

(I wonder if some smart PoliSci and sociology profs should look at this material as a clever way to give this topic a fresh look among jaded students.)

Monday, April 04, 2011

Transformers versus westerns

I ran across this snippet of conversation I jotted down back when my oldest daughter had just turned 5, when she was looking at a few of my original generation toys:
DAUGHTER: "Who are the good guys?" 
DADDY: "The Autobots." 
DAUGHTER: "Are they white?" 
DADDY: "No. They're all colors." 
DAUGHTER: "Oh. Who are the bad guys?" 
DADDY: "Decepticons." 
DAUGHTER: "Who's the white one?" 
DADDY: "Megatron." 
DAUGHTER: "Is he good?" 
DADDY: "No, he's the leader of the bad ones." 
DAUGHTER: "Oh. Daddy?" 
DADDY: "Yes?" 
DAUGHTER: "I thought good guys were white." 
DADDY: "In Westerns, Honey. Not in Transformers." 
DAUGHTER: "Oh. Daddy?" 
DADDY: "yes?" 
DAUGHTER: "What are Westerns?"

(Can't wait until she's old enough to watch Fistful of Dollars ...)

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Remembering Victor

Today marks the two-year anniversary of when we lost my Dad-in-Law, Victor Wallace Tirabassi.

He's been on my mind a lot lately, and sometimes in what I thought were "weird" associations.

The strangest (I thought) was the Johnny Cash song, "One Piece at a Time". I simply couldn't get it out of my head, and hearing it made me think of Dad, and wish so much that he was back with us.

"One Piece At A Time"

Well, I left Kentucky back in '49
An' went to Detroit workin' on a 'sembly line
The first year they had me puttin' wheels on cadillacs

Every day I'd watch them beauties roll by
And sometimes I'd hang my head and cry
'Cause I always wanted me one that was long and black.

One day I devised myself a plan
That should be the envy of most any man
I'd sneak it out of there in a lunchbox in my hand
Now gettin' caught meant gettin' fired
But I figured I'd have it all by the time I retired
I'd have me a car worth at least a hundred grand.

I'd get it one piece at a time
And it wouldn't cost me a dime
You'll know it's me when I come through your town
I'm gonna ride around in style
I'm gonna drive everybody wild
'Cause I'll have the only one there is a round.

So the very next day when I punched in
With my big lunchbox and with help from my friends
I left that day with a lunch box full of gears
Now, I never considered myself a thief
GM wouldn't miss just one little piece
Especially if I strung it out over several years.

The first day I got me a fuel pump
And the next day I got me an engine and a trunk
Then I got me a transmission and all of the chrome
The little things I could get in my big lunchbox
Like nuts, an' bolts, and all four shocks
But the big stuff we snuck out in my buddy's mobile home.

Now, up to now my plan went all right
'Til we tried to put it all together one night
And that's when we noticed that something was definitely wrong.

The transmission was a '53
And the motor turned out to be a '73
And when we tried to put in the bolts all the holes were gone.

So we drilled it out so that it would fit
And with a little bit of help with an Adapter kit
We had that engine runnin' just like a song
Now the headlight' was another sight
We had two on the left and one on the right
But when we pulled out the switch all three of 'em come on.

The back end looked kinda funny too
But we put it together and when we got through
Well, that's when we noticed that we only had one tail-fin
About that time my wife walked out
And I could see in her eyes that she had her doubts
But she opened the door and said "Honey, take me for a spin."

So we drove up town just to get the tags
And I headed her right on down main drag
I could hear everybody laughin' for blocks around
But up there at the court house they didn't laugh
'Cause to type it up it took the whole staff
And when they got through the title weighed sixty pounds.

I got it one piece at a time
And it didn't cost me a dime
You'll know it's me when I come through your town
I'm gonna ride around in style
I'm gonna drive everybody wild
'Cause I'll have the only one there is around.

[Spoken] Ugh! Yow, RED RYDER 
This is the COTTON MOUTH

Huh, This is the COTTON MOUTH
And negatory on the cost of this mow-chine there RED RYDER
You might say I went right up to the factory
And picked it up, it's cheaper that way
Ugh! what model is it? 

Then I figured some of it out.

First, ignore the "stealing from the company" aspect of the song above -- that wasn't Vic.

I've talked before about Vic's generosity, his faith, and his inspiration.

I don't think I've said -- can say -- enough about his sense of humor, his patience, his dogged determinism in everything he did.

Vic was a man who could laugh at himself.

He was a carpenter who could be working a job and have him (or someone else) make a mistake, he'd get hurt, and he'd laugh it off (usually while yelling, "Fer crying out loud!").

There was an incident before my wife and I were married when we were all trying to jumpstart a dead car. My to-be brother-in-law in the driver's seat, Dad and I pushing the car, my fiancée nearby, and when that car kicked into life, Vic went down hard on the pavement, I jumped over him like an out-of-shape long jumper. Everyone but me laughing hysterically.

Everyone. Including Dad, who had just kissed asphalt.

Not much later, when my wife and I were first married, she had to make major adjustments to "my way" of doing physically demanding home repairs. I was all grit and muscle, and if I was powering through a hard project, I did not have time or focus to split on answering a question about what we might want to do next weekend.

Vic, though, always had time. He could be balanced, one-foot on a too-short step-ladder, straining to replace a light fixture, and anyone could ask him a question, and -- sweat pouring down his face -- he'd have a conversation. He'd laugh, he'd give advice, he'd help, he'd keep working, and he didn't get frustrated or mad at being "interrupted". He would ask for a wrench and laugh if you messed with him and gave him a hammer.

The other thing that strikes me about this Cash song is the factory worker side of things. Vic worked in steel and plastics factories for probably more than 20 years. He just worked, back-busting, brutal gigs, and never lost his sense of humor, his accessibility, his overall multifaceted good nature.

Sure, he wasn't perfect, but he -- by choice and by nature -- took all of that time and refined himself into a beautiful, hilarious, generous, much-loved man.

And anything along the lines of taking the patience and non-OCD focus over the course of years to build a mashup luxury car? That's just vintage Vic.

(Y'know, minus the stealing part.)

Here's to "Poppa Day" #2...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The real heroes and villain of Snow White

I watched Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with my daughters (their first time) this weekend, and I was struck by a nearly two-decades old thought I realize I've probably never committed to paper.

And it's probably already been said -- but I haven't seen it.

Snow White may be the protagonist, but she isn't the hero. Neither is the prince, or the dwarfs.

And the queen isn't the real bad guy.

And because this isn't a grad-level academic paper, and I don't have 20 pages to faux fill, I'll get to it quickly.

The easy one first: The real heroes of Snow White are the animals.

The animals rescue Snow White from the forest when she's first lost. The animals judge her character as pure, and take immediately action to meet her needs for fellowship and physical comfort, leading her to the Dwarfs' cottage.

The animals sacrifice there free time, jump in, and help her clean her new-found home. It seems like a small thing, but as a modern analogy: I seem to be forced to move last-minute. A lot. And I have people who call themselves friends, and have never heeded a call for help (of any size); on the flip side, I have true friends who would help me move, I think even if they were in the middle of their own move.

Anyway, it is the animals -- again discerning true character -- who attack the wicked queen, disguised as an elderly hag, with no fear for "how that might look".

And failing that, it is the animals who immediately spring to action to forcibly gather the dwarfs to rescue Snow White.

They're the pure, action heroes of the film.

And the villain?

It's not the queen. She's so depraved and lost in her own narcissism and hatred and jealousy of the "not her" that she both knows exactly who she is, and (paradoxically) is blind to it (ever had an incompetent or sabotaging co-worker or boss? Life would be so much easier if they saw what you see, but there own character myopia likely deceives them into thinking someone else is the problem.)

No, the evil queen -- the "witch" -- isn't the villain.

The Huntsman who is the most reprehensible person in the film.


The Huntsman - that affable gent who is sent on a mission to kill Snow White.

"But ..." (I almost hear you say defensively) "... he doesn't kill her! He lets her go -- and he covers for her by tricking the queen with a pig's heart."

Sure, he doesn't kill her. Instead, he drives a young girl off into the deep woods, with no likelihood of surviving, were it not for story's artifice.

And, let's remember: he was sent to murder a young girl -- A charge he was set to execute until the last possible moment. And in his cowardice, he abandoned her to the wild, feigned compliance, and faded to obscurity.

Sure, from a relativistic perspective, that's maybe better than outright killing.

I don't know. I'm not a relativist.

What I see instead is someone compliant in a regime of witchcraft and murder, who didn't stand against the wrong, and fight for the right -- no matter the personal cost.

That wouldn't have made a great story (but maybe it would have made a great different one).

But this isn't a college paper, so (for me) it has a point, and an application.

"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."

Once I reached an age of understanding I've witnessed little injustices every day. I can't save the world, but if I don't try, if I don't say, "no" to unnecessary hostile exchanges, to office politics, to harassment of marginalized co-workers, of a waiter or a hotel clerk, if I don't defend the victim who protected himself from the bully (taking a policy cowardice route of "zero tolerance"), if I laugh at abhorrent jokes even if I'm secretly emotionally or physically ill about them, then I've failed.

And I've become the Huntsman, and the true villain in my own story.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Muppets on the plight of the worker

Friday night, I had an unexpectedly brilliant conversation with a guy who wonderfully articulated his frustration with the dehumanization of the workforce, the abuse of individuals by corporations (or more accurately, the abuse by a broken subset of people high up in large corporations that use the container as an excuse to abuse the containees), and the wonderful, decade-old-but-still relevant book, The Cluetrain Manifesto.

What struck me about the conversation was the passionate, non-vitriolic, erudite but down-to-earth way he deconstructed all of the bad that happens when people higher up a food chain fool themselves into justifying their bad behavior and usury of people below them. It was a very non-Marxist, constructive discussion of where he thought things were broken, how they could be fixed, and -- most importantly -- his refusal to accept that it can not be fixed.

That conversation lived with me throughout the night and into Saturday, and probably made me more aware of this clever little commentary as I was reading issue #3 of the Muppet Sherlock Holmes comic book to my daughters.

For those not aware, BOOM! Studios and writer / artist Roger Langridge have (for me) almost single-handedly rejuvenated the brand, and done the nigh-impossible -- written a comic that works at the adult and kid level in the same way the original variety show did. And folks like Jesse Blaze Snider, Shelli ParolineTim BeedleArmand Villavert Jr., Paul Benjamin, Patrick Storck, and Amy Mebberson (the latter two collaborated on the Sherlock Holmes miniseries, along with Braden Lamb, Deron Bennett, Christopher Burns, and Erika Terriquez), have carried the torch forward with excellent treatments of classics like this and Robin Hood.

But back the Muppets and the plight of the worker.

There's a witty little aside midway through the issue, taking place between the worker (Gonzo), and his boss (who longtime Muppet fans will recognize as the Phantom of the Muppet Theater, introduced waaaay back in season 1):

BOSS: I have my doubts about your ability to do this job.
GONZO: But none of us know what this job is.
BOSS: There's a whole world of folks out there working every day, not sure for what, or what they've accomplished, or what's expected of them. And they do it happily! Every day, for less than you're making!
GONZO: But why not do something you like, and get paid for that?
BOSS: No, no, that's what hobbies are for! You pay to do what you like, and get paid to spend time away from what you like!
GONZO: So I should be happy to be here being unhappy, because you pay me to be here, knowing my reward is having time off to have a little happy time?
BOSS: Exactly! That's how the real world works.

Understandably, this puts Gonzo into an almost irrevocable funk, and concerned co-workers Kermit and Fozzie suspect something is amiss:

FOZZIE: Oh, this isn't good. He's become a work zombie!
KERMIT: Maybe he hasn't had his usual dosage of coffee?
FOZZIE: Let me try something ...
FOZZIE (CONTINUED): Well at least it's payday!
GONZO: Another day another dollar!
FOZZIE: But, hey, the weekend's here!
FOZZIE: How's it going?
GONZO: Ah, the usual ...

And there it is -- unexpected cautionary parodic wisdom by way of the Muppets. Granted, I was probably a bit queued up for it given the previous night's conversation (and my own internal wiring), but that doesn't make it any less astute.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Updated Acting Resume

In addition to my blog updates, I've refreshed my acting resume (both HTML and PDF versions), available both from my site, and from the folder on my LinkedIn profile. There are some new video game and industrial gigs listed.

(It also felt like a good time to update my toy job print and profile resumes on LinkedIn, too.)

Sunday, January 02, 2011

The Blogs are Back in Town ...

Guess who just got back today?
Them useful blogs that had been away
How they've changed, got a lot to say
But man, I still think them posts are crazy

They were asking if you had freedom
How you was, if you were readin'
Told them you were readin' all 'round
Driving digirati crazy

The blogs are back in town
The blogs are back in town
I said
The blogs are back in town
The blogs are back in town
The blogs are back in town
The blogs are back in town
The blogs are back in town
The blogs are back in town

(With sincere, sincere apologies to Thin Lizzy.)

And apologies to you, because my multitude of blogs have been on a too-long hiatus, and now they're back in force.

Between changes with and my Web hosting company changing how they were handling CName records -- my blogs got broken sometime last year. Add to that me being wicked busy at the toy job, and content itself has been light -- and a lot of what was there over the last year has been lost because of changes to the two not-so integrated services above. Sucky.

Anyway, due to me recently re-recognizing the importance of staying in touch with y'all through my postings, I've rebranded and reposted my blogs. To avoid further CName problems (and to take advantage of Google's various integrated media services), I've moved all of my blogs to be hosted by Blogger:

Apologies for the pseudo l33t speak of the titles, but since the blogspot goldrush has long-since passed, I needed to pick consistently unique named titles for each of my blogs.

Now, any time I make a new post to any of my blogs, notices will automatically post to Twitter (the World) and Facebook (Friends only). Posts from my game industry and acting blogs will also post automatically to my LinkedIn profile (Professional Network). Check out the post, "My so-called (connected gamer) life" over at my Gaming blog for the details for how I'm piping data back and forth.

Nothing should have changed for the RSS feeds, since I re-pipe all of those through my existing FeedBurner account, and kept the outward-facing URLs the same.

That's it for now -- more Freedom of Speechish fodder soon.