You made us believe

•November 13, 2018 • 1 Comment

Hello, Stan.

Sorry, the reports of your demise, anticipated by many for a while now, have not been greatly exaggerated.  In an odd way, though, the world doesn’t seem less grim because of it.  Most people are united in their sadness over what the world lost, someone who united so many with 4-color characters that ran the entire prism.

The first recollection of an actual comic book that I have was a Spider-Man issue, MAYBE Marvel Team-Up? from the mid-’70’s.  The splash page had Spidey and some woman strapped to tables–in their UNDERWEAR!  Made my five year old self blush!–while the Kingpin stood by the controls.  Then came the Super Size Star Wars and BSG’s, and the first of my MANY hospital stays after hitting my head, a Super Size Spider-Man team up starting with the Hulk.  I’d read other comics by then, but the Marvel ones were different.  Even so young as I was, I could relate.  Sure, Batman, Superman, and my then favorite DC character, Aquaman, were cool, but there was a barrier.  Batman was richer than the world.  Superman and Aquaman were Super, not natives to our land.  They talked that way.  The Marvel heroes?

They spoke to ME.  They spoke LIKE me.  They didn’t always have the answers.  Sometimes they messed up BIG time, like when Spidey and the Human Torch switched jobs.  Spidey, science geek though he was, messed up an experiment BIG time.  Those books weren’t just escapism, they helped deal with the stupid things that happen because they showed stupid things happening even to heroes.  The stories treated the characters, and more importantly, the readers, like they were equal partners and more important, like intelligent people.

When you started narrating Spidey and his Amazing Friends, I’ll admit, it felt like you were speaking directly to me.  Sure, it was a Saturday morning cartoon, but it felt more like an adventure we were all going on together with you as guide.  Everyone wanted to be Spidey or Iceman or Cyclops–my favorite for quite a long time–but there was a difference with the Marvel characters, in books or TV.  Even out of the long underwear, people did right by each other.  With your characters, with your work, we felt less alone.

Superman: The Movie said, “You’ll believe a man can fly!”  With your work, Stan, you made us believe we all could.

Rest well, good sir.

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The Awaited By None Review of Babylon 5

•November 6, 2018 • 9 Comments

In the 90’s, I caught a few episodes of Babylon 5 when it was first on.  I thought it was interesting, and I thought the graphics were pretty cool.  This was right in my computer-science-major phase, so what ELSE would I think?

Now, before it premiered, I read how J. Michael Straczynski had everything planned out for five years.  I’ve written Big Things, but five YEARS worth…?  That was cooler.  THEN came word that Michael O’ Hare was leaving at the end of the first season, and somewhere–some magazine that was NOT Starlog, of that I’m certain–quoted Straczynski as saying, “No, this was planned the whole TIME!”  The reality was he’d designed trapdoors for all the characters, but that wasn’t how it was reported.  My reaction was, and this is a quote, “Oh, come ON!”  It wasn’t until much later that I found out about the misunderstanding.

Still, people raved about this show.  I rented the first season when Netflix still mailed DVD’s.  I gave it the benefit of the doubt, having slogged through TNG’s Code of Honor.  There were hints of a good story, but I never found myself caring.  Most of the station’s staff always Spoke Like They Were Saying Important Things.  Garibaldi, played by the late, great Jerry Doyle, was the only relatable one of the human cast.  Ivanova, the Russian first officer who sounds more like she’s from Chicago than Russia, only occasionally showed personality.   Dr. Franklin is a space doctor.  The EMH showed more personality that Franklin has in two seasons except when his father showed up–but more on that later. Speaking of how people sound, Londo Molari, the Centauri ambassador, speaks with a lovely alienesque inflection.  His assistant, Vir, another Centauri?  He sounded like a Centauri born in Virginia who was worried Londo was about to steal his brother’s car.  Peter Jurasik and Andreas Katsulas were certainly given the meatiest roles, and Londo and G’kar respectively, and they could populate and entire series with just the pair.

There are a lot of really good actors on this show.  Unfortunately, you wouldn’t know it with the way they’re directed.  Stiff line delivery, predictable plotting, setting problems–

Setting problems?  The station design is workable.  No, I’m talking about the background setting.  The human crew is part of the Earth Alliance.  Their logo?  A stylized “E.”  That’s great if the whole planet called Earth Earth.  There are 6500 languages on this planet at the moment.  Just a quick check, English and German show the only words for Earth starting with “E.”

There are good points.  Like I said, G’Kar and Londo could be an entire show by themselves.   The PsiCorps is amusing.  At first, I heard, “It gets much better after the first season.”  Now, the mantra seems to be, “If you get through the first two and a half season, it gets really good.”  It better start soon.  J. Michael Straczynski CAN write, and write well.  I’ve read his comics work and some of his other TV work is great.  But this?  This really comes across like The Phantom Menace–set up and politics for something REALLY cool that might show up.

I’ll update this when I get through the whole series.

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!

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.