Leaps and Bounds

•July 17, 2018 • Leave a Comment

For those who don’t know, I used to work for TCN–The Comcast Network.  I got that job after being out of TV and gainful employment for quite a while.   18 months, as a matter of fact.  Four years I lasted there in master control, with a bunch of other production people who couldn’t find anything else and three actual master control guys.  Then NBCSN, who controlled us, decided all the master control departments should be run out of Union, NJ.  They didn’t invite us to come.

It didn’t take as long to find another job this time, but A) it wasn’t in TV, B) it was a major pay reduction from TCN, and C) it was temp.  I interviewed a bunch of times at CSN–but never got anything.  Right after I started the temp job, I might have found out why.  Turns out there was a credit judgement against me from 7 years earlier that we didn’t know about.  That shows up on a credit check.  Places do credit checks on potential hires.  Explained a lot.  Long story short about that, we paid it off in less than a year.  My temp job was ending, and I’d had a few nibbles on my resume, but nothing really definite.  Then I bit the bullet and sent my resume to an AV tech job.  After a few interviews over the computer–ain’t tech grand?–a few days after the Super Bowl I get a call to see if I can start RIGHT AWAY.  Turns out, a guy that worked for them had a heart attack Super Bowl Sunday and didn’t survive, and they needed a replacement.  QUICK.  I take the job, making a hell of a lot more than I was at TCN.  Somehow, my LinkedIn page and my Facebook page both had me starting at the company.

Not long after, I got a message from someone I used to work with at the racetrack.  Seems he saw my new AV position and wanted to talk to me.  He moved on from the racetrack TV production and has been with ANOTHER AV company for a few years.  He’s VP, in fact.  Now, the site I’m working will be closing in two years, and then the plan is to send us to other sites in New Jersey.  This new thing is in Pennsylvania–where I am–and maybe a little more stable.  I go interview with them, seeing a couple people I haven’t seen in literally years, and feel the place out.  My VP buddy says, “Go home, talk to Stace, and see how it feels.”

Well, it felt….GOOD.

This new job, that I’d been doing, was well over $10,000 more than my NBC job.  In the time I’ve been here, I’ve already gotten numerous commendations and showed myself to valuable.  There are two hang-ups, though.  The equipment I’m working with, especially in my main room, is all a decade old.  It won’t be upgraded because of the SECOND hang up.  They’re closing the site in at most two years, and all of us video types will be shipped out to other sites in New Jersey.

They asked me for my salary requirements where I interviewed.  It was the first time anyone had ever legitimately asked me that question.  I named a figure, a few grand more a year than I was CURRENTLY getting.  They went for it.

I’ve gone from the lowest–in position, salary, and feeling–to not quite the top, but reasonably near it, in the space of a few months.  One of the things the NEW new place keeps saying is, “We know you’re a good guy and a good worker.”  PLEASE don’t let me screw this one up!

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Fandom and Problems

•July 11, 2018 • Leave a Comment

The first convention I went to was the 1988 Philcon with the then-Love-Of-My-Life, her boyfriend who had BEEN my best friend, and her father. Romantic complications aside–that’s a whole DIFFERENT post–I was a little nervous. I’d certainly HEARD about cons, but I’d never been to one. So, slightly edgy–what if someone thinks my blue Science Officer shirt isn’t BLUE enough?–we went in. Met Ann Crispin, heard the beginning of StarBridge, got her to autograph my Visitor patch. I felt at home in ten minutes. Sure, there were boorish types at any of the conventions I went to, then there were some who were a lot of fun. I saw one young woman getting her butt autographed by Jimmy Doohan–whether there were shorts there I wasn’t close enough to see.

There was something I noticed early on. Some people seemed to think The Show–or whatever the con was for–belonged to THEM. The con was there FOR THEM. I’ve just recently seen a post for someone who builds models–not professionally, not for use on screen, but to sell–complaining because the emails weren’t coming fast enough from the organizers. Massive hubris aside–“Sure, let me drop EVERYTHING I’m doing to organize this to tell you AGAIN what kind of gluten-free table we have you set up on!”–the whole tone of the initial post rubbed the wrong way. Conventions are supposed to be fun. Yeah, for some, it’s work. Even when I was doing LTC seminars with ATL, I still found a way to have fun there. Conventions, though, it doesn’t have to descend into a bitchfest because the colors in one episode were different than another. All that does is show the person is worried about things too trivial–but not trivia. Because of trivia I won a sweatshirt at a con, so I’d NEVER denigrate trivia, but trivial is to be avoided.

History and Humanity’s Sects

•June 28, 2018 • Leave a Comment

No, SECTS, not sex. Get your mind out of the gutter.

There has been a push toward what some call inclusion, while others call it political correctness gone berserk. It’s the trend of Ye Denizens Of Modern Society looking at works of art, literature, movies from previous Less Informed, Olden Days–like the ’70’s–and say, “Tut, tut, that was improper, it would offend X part of our society.” X can represent black people, women, gays, Hispanics, Native Americans, the left handed, people born on a Thursday under a full moon with Mars in retrograde–there’s a whole slew.

Now, are people more tolerant of people in other sects? I use that term, and have, since college where I posited that under the skin, black, white, red, Asian–all humans. Now, away from that digression, is there more tolerance?

Should I pause for laughter here?

People will pay lip service to inclusion. Some people are sincere about it, I’m sure, but some are just in it to pat themselves on the back. “Oooh, look how EVOLVED we are!” That leads me into the point. A lot of material was produced in Those Dark Times Before We Woke Up. There are Looney Tunes and Disney toons and MGM toons showing those dirty Japs with little eyes and big teeth from World War II. There are performances, toon and otherwise, of people NOT African descended in blackface. There are depictions of Native Americans as morons or savages. It was insensitive as hell. BUT, was it MEANT to be? The Great Majority looked at Japanese and Asians in general, Natives, Blacks, and others in these ways. If homosexuality was even touched on, it was as an effete, overly feminine dressed in pink. Surely, it wasn’t nice.

But it was accurate for depicting the attitudes of the times.

Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote the the Little House books. She had included in them passages about the prairies devoid of any people–but with Indians. Twenty years after the first printing, someone pointed out to the publisher, “Hey, Printy People, Indians are PEOPLE, too!” There are scenes of Pa Ingalls in a minstrel show with people in blackface. THESE THINGS HAPPENED. Because they’re present in the books, the Wilder Award is now the Legacy Award. That’s not healthy. Sure, discrimination is bad, but instead of using the media produced in the past to teach the future, they slap a fresh non-controversial name on it and no one talks about it. Then it happens again.

If you want an inclusive society, INCLUDE people. Include the past. Feel free to say, “Here’s the Award! This person did great things! Some weren’t as great as we’d LIKE, but that’s because WE’VE progressed!”

Bad things happened in the past. Squashing the ways people dealt with them won’t change that.

New Idea for the Undead

•June 22, 2018 • Leave a Comment

I was just sitting here running video for a meeting–now degenerated into a bunch of people sitting around a table–when the thought hit. Zombies could be vampires whose brains have atrophied or degenerated. I’ll have to play with this.

COMPLETELY UNRELATED–I’ve been working my job four months now. One of the women in catering just came and said she was leaving, and she wanted to make sure that she saw me–and the rest of the video types–before she left. Maybe I really AM a good person to be around.

Politics, Relatives, Stupidity, Social Media, and Ice Cream

•June 21, 2018 • Leave a Comment

There’s a lot of division in the country today. Should you disbelieve this, you’re proving my point. There’s also a lot of people on social media. I myself only ever partook of Facebook and this blog. If I’m going to share things I’ve done with cameras, I’m gonna get paid for it, so Instagram’s out. The first half of Twitter rules that out for me.

I’m friends with a lot of different people, on Facebook and off. Several of these fine individuals have relatives who are THEIR friends. A subset of these are not the most informed or highly evolved people.  A person will make a statement, and along comes Relation A with some response.  Case in point, a post made by a man I consider more than reasonably intelligent bemoaning the policy of separating children from those seeking asylum and other, presumed illegal, visitors to this country.  Yes, that last part is facetious.  Another friend’s mother–older sister? I think mother–resorted to what has been labled whataboutism.  “Well, what about all those liberals who murder babies with abortion?” was the gist of her statement, if not the exact quote.  “You can’t be against one without being against the other!”

.

—interlude—

Quickly, I want to make my thoughts on abortion very plain, in case there’s any question.  Since I wasn’t born with a uterus, what I think matters zilch to women in search of WHATEVER reproductive options they seek unless I’m married to them.  I can’t have one, but I’m not about to tell someone else who COULD that they can’t.  It’s NOMFB, or none of my freakin’ business.  Now that THAT’s over—-

Now, I know women who’ve had abortions.  I heard stories, that I can in NO way confirm, that one woman I was in school with used them as a form of birth control.  I knew at least one who said she became infertile after one.   The big difference here?  The children being separated from their parents HAVE BEEN BORN.  Actual, living, separate entities.

 

The trouble is, with discussions–is THAT how you spell argument?–like this, they’ll just go on until the moon cows come home.  That’s nothing new.  New is that FACTS are no longer enough to end an argument.  Science, experience, reality–they just don’t apply to SOME People.  I have a cousin that I’ve written about before.  Remember the one who blabbed about me riding my bike over to Tanya’s house because “it wasn’t the right thing to do”–which in Stephanie language meant “Let’s see how much trouble I can get him in!”  She used to do the same thing to her brother.  She got married REALLY young.  She got her high school diploma and marriage license the same year.  Alabama, gotta love it.  Well, along comes Facebook.  I’m friends with a lot of cousins from Dad’s side.  I don’t have many on Mom’s side, so I friended Steph.  That is, until she started posting all her Bible thumping, Anti-vaxxing stuff.  She would NEVER vaccinate her kids because REASONS!  I gave her three days.  Her posts kept getting worse.

 

—-interlude numero 2—–

Some people who’ve known me for a dog’s age will say to me, now, “Steve, when do you find time to juggle?” Wait, no, that’s Steve Martin’s second record.  Oh, they’ll say to me, “What about all the parapsychological stuff you’ve been through?  How is that different from anti-vaxxing?”  Three ways, actually.  1.  I HAD those experiences.  2.  Other people SAW me out of my body after the accident, miles away from the hospital where my comatose little body was hooked up to more wires than a Macy’s balloon.  3.  I’ve had experiences where LOTS of people were seeing the same things.  Vaccines?  Never been one linked credibly to autism, bad breath, acne–just sore arms.

 

So, I’m taking a Facebook break.  There are a couple of people who’ll miss my jokes whilst I’m away.  How long it will go?  I dunno.

 

EDIT:  I would also like to add that some people, but not all, that I’ve known ince second grade are stupid.  Not naming names.

Revisiting the City on the Edge

•May 20, 2018 • 1 Comment

Stace and Sheil are off at Aunt Marge’s today, packing things up. Having the living room’s big TV to myself has prompted throwing TOS Blu’s on. I’ve gotten up to the all-too-often talked about City on the Edge of Forever.

If you wanna hear all about Ellison’s problems with the rewrites or any of that behind the scenes stuff, or even one of the umpteen rehashes of the story, this ain’t the place. It should be noted that this is FAR from my favorite TOS episode. Not that it’s BAD. mind you. Far be it from me to say that. No, there are just other episodes I like BETTER.

Still, this is one of the very few TOS adventures where the stakes are so personal for the main characters. First, Kirk and Spock are trying to rescue McCoy–their friend, and tied for First, trying to restore their reality. Spock’s enjoyment of Kirk’s predicament both with the officer in the “traditional accoutrements” and his fumbling around trying to assimilate the situation on his own homeworld is a almost palpable.

Similarly, Jim’s exasperation at Spock’s almost diabolical resistance to also acknowledge their situation–a pound of platinum, go to the store right next to the salami and the hammers, certainly–reinforces the alien part of the first officer.

The only part where the episode really falls flat is, ironically, the depiction of time. I live with someone who experienced love at first sight when she saw me–although her being legally blind without her glasses is something I don’t dwell on overmuch. Yeah. it gives a bit of depth to the story, but a line about being there for a few weeks might help. My not finding Liz Taylor all THAT attractive could have something to do with it.

If I could just get my wife to like anything Trek before Farpoint, I could watch these a lot more.

Scary Movie? Sure. Halloween Movie? Not Necessarily.

•October 23, 2017 • 1 Comment

It’s that time of year again, when dry leaves lose their grip on the extended fingers of tired trees, a dry crispness replaces summer’s last humidity, and underpaid retail workers everywhere get the command, “Put the scary movies over there.” Of This Is What I Will Speak.

See, scary movies can come all year long. Silent Night, Deadly Night proves the attempt. HOWEVER—just because something is scary, does it make it right for the Halloween season? Just because something’s for the Halloween season, does it have to be scary is a Snoopy-led discussion for another post.

So, what IS all this Halloween stuff? For the uninitiated, Halloween is the most wonderful time of the year. A Celtic celebration of harvest time and the worlds of the dead touching the worlds of the living. To quote Tommy, “It’s when we get candy.” BUT–to the devotee of the cinema, Halloween is so much more. What, then, in your learned author’s opinion, makes a Halloween movie? There are several things, but perhaps it’d be easier to define what a Halloween movie ISN’T.

Many of my dearest friends are Kaiju Fans. They go nuts about the big, sometimes Asian, well, USUALLY Asian, monsters. Some of them are legitimately frightening. The thing that isolates them from the Annals Of Halloween Movies is the scale–and not just of the models. Usually, there are dozens, if not hundreds of characters involved. Well, at least running away with destined-to-be-mockingly-dubbed screams. You get a sense that This Thing Could Eat The City. Urban renewal aside, Halloween stories and movies tend more toward the intimate. For a Kaiju flick to really capture Halloween, Godzilla would have to shrink down in a dryer and apply himself to the old SNL Land Shark routine at your door.

Okay, I’ve referred to urban renewal. That could be a launch for zombie movies. Can zombie movies be Halloween movies? Depends on a few things. First, like I said, the scale. Compare Night of the Living Dead with 1963’s The Haunted Palace. Smallish casts. Isolated environs by an large. More importantly, atmospheric settings that lend itself to the FEEL of Halloween. NOTLD has the haunted house feel, kinda like if Tom Poston got booted out of The Old, Dark House and the Venus probe stopped by for tea.

When a lot of people think of Halloween movies, the Universal Bigs come to mind. The Wolf Man. Frankenstein. Big D. What do all of these have thematically in common? Personal danger and risk. Semi-Gothic Olde Worlde settings. A lingering sense of dread. Other classic Universal horror movies have some or all of these, but do they count as Halloween movies? Not for me. The Wolf Man and The Creature From The Black Lagoon are two of my all-time favorites. The Creature, though, feels more like a summer movie because of all the swimming, bathing suits, and setting. The Wolf Man? Halloween all the way. What, you may ask, about the Invisible Man?

Well, what ABOUT the Invisible Man? Or The Fly, either the original or the remake? They’re sorta nebulous, and not just because they’re both occasionally hard to see. There are certainly scary scenes, but it seems more with these and others of their ilk it’s more science run amok than true horror. Splitting hairs? Yeah, probably. But the supernatural is a big part of the Halloween feel.

Okay, let’s go supernatural. What about The Amityville Horror? That was always played around Halloween, and my family in Jersey lived close enough TO Amityville that I always heard about it around Halloween. Now, you wanna split hairs? I think the original could be a Halloween movie. The remake? I don’t think so. It’s just a different feel. In a similar vein, the Poltergeist pair, original and new. The original has an awful lot going for Halloween-ness. The new one? It’s CLOSE. It tries really hard. There are some definite Halloween touches, but the jury in my head is still out.

What about (The Legend of) Sleepy Hollow? The Depp/Burton version, the Goldblum version from 1980, the Disney one, any of them, Halloween all the way. The story is nearly the epitome of the Halloween tale. The same could be said of The Fog. Hauntings, curses, revenge–throw in some fencing and Mandy Patinkin and you’ve got a Rob Reiner Halloween. The first Night of the Demons works for Halloween, too, but not just because it’s SET on Halloween. There’s mystery, there’s occult, there’s Linnea Quigley–but I digress.

Now, the undead elephant in the room. Franchises. A Nightmare on Elm Street. Friday the 13th. Alien. Scream. Wait, what was that other one–wait, it’ll come to me, tall guy wearing a Captain Kirk mask–crap, WHAT was that? is THAT a Halloween movie? I jest.

The first three Halloweens are Halloween movies because, well, they’re set on Halloween. The night is almost a character in and of itself for all three. Despite the Pasadena locations, there’s a nouveau autumnal feel for them. Some of the Friday the 13th movies could be Halloween movies, despite the marathon play every year. Ever since Shakespeare had the three witches in the Scottish Play in the woods, the woods have been creepy in productions. The Evil Dead takes that idea and goes all the way with it, branching out into uncharted territory along the way.

No, I don’t regret that turn of phrase.

What about Freddy Krueger? When he’s written to be scary, it works. When he’s written like a game show host in need of Bactine, it works–but not as Halloween fare.

Let’s talk about Scream. They’re well done. A few jump scares. But they’re a little too meta for Halloween. They’re like when you talk your big brother into dressing up or taking you to the haunted hayride two towns over. Yeah, it’s Halloween-esque, but too self aware for the full effect.

So, whattaya think? Am I nuts? Is this off base? Any ones I missed? I barely touched on any of the classic Vincent Price movies, but that’s mostly because I didn’t wanna type until Thanksgiving.