About Me

Based on a career (mis)spent in American politics, I debunk politicos, pundits and spinners, usually with a dose of humor to make it fun.

Email me with news tips, comments, and ideas for disinfo rehab any time!

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July 9, 2011

My Latest Bazillion Dollar Idea That Could Save Hollywood: A Cable Network Devoted to Failed Pilots.

As most of you know I'm taking some time away from the Internet due to circumstances beyond my control. It's been a bit much to take, and today I had to get away from all things Death related, and walked to the Richmond, did some shopping, and basically got away from things. It was good.

ANYWAY, whilst chatting with pals via The Twitter, an idea, not necessarily a new one, hit me. I'd been doing some searching on YouTube and elsewhere about failed TV pilots over the years, or ones that are significantly different from what aired. A few years ago, I found online not only a failed pilot (starring Michelle Forbes!) for the TV version of "Global Frequency," I also found the lost pilot for the USA version of "Life on Mars," which orginally was set in Los Angeles and starred, among other people, Colm Meany. In the case of "Global Frequency," this was a producer-sanctioned release, as he was annoyed the then-WB network for not picking it up. For the record, with a little work it could have been a cool show. On a crappy network.

The old TRIO network enjoyed some success with its "Brilliant But Canceled" series back in the day, and when those of us who are pop culture historians lost it, it was a sad day. However, I'm not the only one who's thought of this - at one point it was determined that the iTunes store could be a great way for networks to recover the cost of pilots by selling them and perhaps offering a "second chance" if something sold well. (citation later).

Imagine a whole network full of these things, each with intros by TV and film critics, and with explanations as to how the pilot system works (which by the way was the subject of a documentary I remember watching on TRIO, along with a documentary about LA's old Z Channel, but I can't remember the name of either), and have commentary by folks like Tim Goodman and others, and I think you'd have a winner people would watch on cable, or Netflix, or whatever.

If anyone does this, can you just send the check payable to me, and make sure it's delivered safely? I promise to spend it wisely

April 8, 2011

Oh The Irony: SFGate Writer Decries Crazy SFGate Commenters, The Only Reason SFGate Has Traffic

angry_mob_300px.jpgThese days, anytime you read something in the news, you can't just accept it. You have to play the "Is this for real, or is this The Onion?" game, because often times, the truth is crazier than anything people could make up.

So when I read a headline in Google Reader that Chronicle columnist C.W. Nevius was annoyed at "gutless trolls" hassling the subject of one of his columns, I assumed that this was some sort of a joke. We all know that the SFgate.com comment sections are a foul mouthed, angry, ill-informed lot. However, this gang of online anony-thugs are also the only reason the site gets the level of traffic that it currently generates.

Now, Mr. Nevius was right on the money regarding these creeps who hide behind anonymity and hurl insults and epithets at the Gate, and then move on to hate mail to the subjects of his columns. The fact such people are such chickenshits they can't sign their name says a lot. He's also not the first to suggest the Gate's commenters are a pack of lunatics.

That said, without these crazies, the Gate would not have nearly the traffic it has now. So, ironically, Mr. Nevius and the Chronicle are able to be online due to the actions of these nuts. Truly, an "is it real or is it the Onion?" moment.

PS: Here's another thing I've observed...there are some people out there who apparently cannot stand the idea that every other human being on the planet does not agree with them lock-step, and are often the most ferocious commenters, spending their day commenting over and over, attacking people etc. I have yet to see any writer, upon reading said comments, say "Oh my God, I was wrong, I shall change my opinions 100% immediately to comply with some bitter retiree in Arizona who disagreed with me! Oh the shame of my crazy opinions!"

They do the same with other commenters. I've been online far longer than I care to admit, and I have yet to see under any circumstances "commenting" changing minds or having much of an impact. The fact that some people have so much time during business hours to attack others online makes me wonder what kind of a job they have (if any) that allows them so much time to invest in something that's interesting, but doesn't impact the world at large.

February 13, 2011

Death of Film/Beach Noir: Terriers on FX AKA Why Tumblr Sucks Too

Despite the drama, I do have a point. The fact is I have been using Tumblr for my non-political, nerdy rantings. Fine, and I'm sure you wanted to read them. (not). That said, the fact that you cant Google this shit, you can't even search on Tumblr, and the fact that Tumblr is so GOD DAMNED UNRELIABLE which gets nothing but a "fuck you" from its venture capital paid CEO means, well, guess what? AOL bit it, and I think Tumblr will bite the big one too. So for posterity's sake, here's the piece on my dead-to-me Movable Type install:

To my absolute non-surprise, FX announced the cancellation of “Terriers.” The ratings were low, and it suffered from a lot of mis-steps in the development and marketing of the program. Here’s a few:

1. The name. “Terriers.” Really? What do people think of when they hear the word “terrier?” Little yappy dog. That’s not quite a good description of Hank and Britt, our main characters. It should have been called ANYTHING ELSE. My suggestion would have been something implying “underdogs” (and f*ck the cartoon, this is Hollywood where a lawyer can do anything) or something bolder or tougher. This was, after all, old school Film Noir, done on the beach.

(On a side note, the naming of programs is key, and this is how Dollhouse f*cked up. I mean, you have a hot woman as the lead, a weird sci-fi/spy/whatever theme, and some cool co stars and guest stars, but really, DOLLHOUSE? Why didn’t they call it something cool? I mean, if I’m at the bar and I’m all “Hey guys, going home to watch Dollhouse” I might as well put a giant “kick me” sign on my back for the rest of the season. Seriously.)

2. Marketing sucked. Not a shock because the FOX constellation of sites can’t market anything that isn’t “Ow My Balls!” or some other stupid-ass show. The billboards and ads in NYC/LA had this picture of an ugly stupid dog. Again, not really creating the icon or the imagery of what the show was about. Idiots.

3. They needed one other “name” b or c level actor in the main cast , OR some cameos. Donal Logue is one of the most underrated actors out there, because after “The Tao of Steve” I think he got a bit typecast, and no one really appreciates how great he is. But he’s also not a household name. So, even though this might have cost some extra money, populating the show with either some well placed cameos of actors from other FX shows, or folks from genre shows who always have a following, or better yet a co-star woman who people have heard of, would have helped draw more attention to a show.

Think about it. The moment you cast someone from Stargate SG-1, any Whedonverse show, Star Trek Anything, Battlestar Galactica, etc., the fans on The Series of Tubes lose it and tell everyone to watch it. Law and Order: (insert surname here) has had all kinds of folks on their show who don’t cost a fortune and it generates buzz. (Stephen Colbert, anyone?)

4. FX wasn’t necessarily the best home for this show. If you look at most of the drama programs on FX (Sons of Anarch, Damages, The Shield, etc.), they tend towards an edgy, often violent or sharp plots and dialogue. “Terriers” was a bit toned down, and more subtle, and required some up front investment for the unfolding plots and side plots to develop. It’s hard to place it elswhere: USA produces cheap Sherlock Holmes quirky main character pieces, HBO has to be all high and mighty, Showtime wasn’t likely to pick it up either, and AMC is too busy with Mad Men and their few other shows (but hey, they canceled Rubicon, wtf, pick up Terriers, gang!) and so on. Any suggestions would be great.

Finally, I think it’s time for the creative types to realize that if you don’t have something that is super easy to market to the drooling masses, and requires thought and money to enjoy and produce, DON’T WORK WITH F*CKING FOX ANYTHING EVER. These are folks that cancel shows after 10 minutes in a premiere, so don’t expect anything but tears (got that Joss?) and deal.

April 23, 2010

Friday Flashback - MAD Magazine Cover from 1960!

mad1960.jpgLately I've been going through various, disorganized boxes of things I've saved over the years, organizing them so I can finally frame my button collection and other odd memoribilia I've saved. It's not Hoarders level weird stuff either - being a minimalist who has moved around the country several times, I'm pretty strict on what remains with me and what is given away. I have been pleasantly surprised to find several items, one of which I've featured here - a MAD magazine from 1960.

If you're a fan of Mad Men, you'll recall that season 1 starts in 1960, and there's much discussion of the Presidential election that year. One wonders if the ad copywriters of Sterling Cooper might have had a copy of this issue in their desk, to read whilst having a drink at work.

Even funnier is the main feature "If Madison Avenue Ran Presidential Elections" and well, let's just say that in its prime, MAD Magazine was a better resource for learning than most people realize. I credit old MADs from the 60s and 70s as being the prime influence of my world view, far more than some silly party or politician.

February 12, 2010

Replace Traditional Anti-Valentine's Day Snark and Hate With....The Rebranding of Valentine's Day!

valentines_color_icon.gifOne of the most honored traditions of the Valentine's Day Season is the annual Hating on Valentine's Day ritual. 30 Rock had a bit of this last night, and the practice of such is as time honored as giving candy and zany teddy bears to people you (might) love (and might not see again after giving that weird-ass gas station teddy bear to on V-Day).

However, this year there's something new for Valentine's day that's neither pro, nor anti, but instead what the holiday really needs...a brand re-imagining!

Brand New, part of the Under Consideration constellation of websites (which you Select Readers may written recall from past posts), featured this extensive workup of the upgraded, rebranded and improved Valentine's Day. The key component is to create a unique symbol for Valentine's day (as the "heart" image is appropriated by many causes and ideas) with...this new exclusive icon (pictured at right).

Read the rest of the article for the details. It's quite entertaining, actually. For more information on unique branding and marketing, consult your local library, or just go watch this video about how a stop sign would be designed by a modern corporation.

January 27, 2010

Afternoon Pop Culture Decompression with Jack Bauer and More LOST

What a day, what with an epic Muni FAIL, the iPad (aka the 80s boombox version of the iPod), and all this stuff about guys breaking into places to do nefarious things, it's time for some pop culture decompression.

First, mix Rammstein (yay!) and other metal bands with Jack Bauer shooting everyone, and you get this:

Now, let's take all the footage we know about what happened at the time of Oceanic 815s crash, put it all together, "24" style, and voila!:

Obama SOTU vs. Apple JOBS vs. LOST s5!

DHARMAlogo.jpgSo today is the day when months of rumor and speculation are deflated and we all get to find out what that Important Person has to say about Something That Affects Us All. I'm of course talking about the Apple (insert product here) which, if you are ever on the Internet, have heard that this miracle device will cure cancer, baldness, world hunger, awkward social situations, and deciding what truly is the brand of cola that expresses you best.

Oh, yeah, I think there's some guy in Washington who was 2008's Apple product, complete with hype created by the crowd too, you know the one who was going to do the same things as the Apple (insert product here), and more. Isn't he speaking today too?

Me? I'm more concerned about how the final season of LOST will end. The Dharma Initiative worked in secret so they never had to contend with the endless amounts of bullshit speculation about what they were going to do, and they were dealing with all kinds of crazy stuff. So, in the end, the fictional event (the one that pushed back the President's address to the nation, and has LESS fictional speculation than the Apple event) ironically is the one I'm looking forward to the most and have absolutely no expectations for at all.


Oh and if you don't know about LOST and don't have time to watch 5 seasons before next week...

November 19, 2009

Let's Take A Break From The World's Crappiness With the Dancin' Stormtrooper

Let's take a break from Newsom FAIL, Muni FAIL, and Overall Economy FAIL with...the Dancin' Stormtrooper!

For more of the Dancin' Stormtrooper, check out Danny Choo's site. It's rather awesome.

March 2, 2009

TMZ and The Chronicle Read My Mind: Cover Politicians!

Well that was funny to read this morning...it seems that gossip gurus TMZ.com are going to start applying their style of journalism to politicos as it warrants, much as they do celebrities in Hollywood.

To which I say "Thank God!"

I actually posted a zany little blog missive on this very issue just over a year ago but was serious - TMZ.com doesn't seem to mind pissing off the folks in Hollywood, and they always seemed to be on the scene.

Maybe if we could get TMZ and some awesome investigative reporters to tag team our folks in government, we'd really get something there. The TMZ.com folks could be the shock and awe troops to zing 'em when they drive their SUVs to Earth Day, and the investigative folks could get paid well to do the kind of reporting you need from Real Journalists once the target's been acquired.

Hey, it couldn't hurt, right?

PS: I bet it would make money too. Grab the readers with the TMZ takedown, keep the eyes on the site for the tough reporting. I'd definitely pay for THAT.

January 9, 2009

Tribute to Bob Wilkins, former KTVU TV Personality and Good Guy

capcoscard.jpgThis is sad news..it seems Bob Wilkins, former host of Creature Features and Captain Cosmic on KTVU died this week. If you were around in the Bay Area in the 1960's and 1970s, no doubt you remember Bob's programs and his unique personality he brought to Bay Area TV. This was back when local TV stations weren't all owned by chains, and produced original local programming (instead of gutting all local content and all local news like they do now).

Being a nerd growing up, I of course watched Captain Cosmic, who broadcast Japanese monster TV shows and old 1930s serials like "Flash Gordon" and had a Decoder Card. I even got a chance to meet him as a kid and got a signed picture as well. (I'm so glad nerd stuff like this is mainstream - it sure wasn't back in 1978). My biggest regret is missing an event at the Parkway Theater several years ago where he brought Robot 2T2 out of retirement and hosted a Halloween event in costume!

So in honor of Bob and his work over the years, here's some videos. RIP Bob.

April 22, 2008

Celebrate the Demolition Derby Primary In PA With A VIVA ADAMA Poster!

When I'm not doing actual work, or updating my popular blog, or this blog, I've been slowly working on a few new sites, because, well you just can't have too many friends, or too many blogs.

One of my side blogs is the Adama for President blog, which features t-shirts, bumper stickers, and now, posters spoofing the Obama '08 logo and celebrating all things Battlestar Galactica.

Today, I am releasing the first in a series of posters, modeled after the awesome "Viva Colbert" posters from a while back. A window-sized poster is coming out later today, and a larger one as well. For now, though we have the 23" x 35" poster for sale, and it is pretty awesome. Be the coolest kid on the block and order yours today. Or, order a stack and plaster the Mission with 'em.

April 8, 2008

Basil Fawlty Offers to Help Obama: Obama Announces Formation of Dept. Of Silly Walks....Coincidence?

File this in the no-you-can't-make-stuff-up-like-this file: It seems that legendary actor and writer John Cleese, he of the Monty Python/Fawlty Towers fame, has offered to help Barack Obama's presidential speechwriting efforts should he become the nominee this summer.

I really don't know what to say....if I'd made something like this up, it wouldn't even come close to being as teh awesome as this...does this mean a Department of Silly Walks is in the Obama cabinet in 2009?

PS: Don't forget to vote for Jackie Speier today if you live in the 12th CD. If you're not sure where you vote, follow this link and find your polling place.

Remember, if enough of us vote, we can send Jackie to Congress immediately. If we don't, we have to listen to the inane prattling of the Green Party and an assortment of no-names who will lose anyway - but we won't have Jackie in Congress fighting for us on critical issues facing the House. So go vote!

March 25, 2008

Spontaneous Barack Obama Media, Part 42.....AKA Insiderism 0, Real Ad People 1

So, um, yeah, like these folks like....Barack Obama!

Truth be told...would some insider consultant have come up with something that resonates with,um, pop culture?

Of course not. Most political consultants disdain pop culture and the zeitgeist because the are so f*cking smart. Too bad in San Francisco and elsewhere they get paid to fail....all beause they ignore, well, reality and that cultural reality that we live in.

Oh Hai!

March 22, 2008

How Cool Is This? "Improv Everywhere" Stages a Musical at the Food Court.

The good citizens over at Improv Everywhere have been getting some press lately. The students at UCB who staged a mass "freeze" the other day took their inspiration from the Grand Central Station freeze in January, which got lots of media attention, and inspired no less than 30+ similar mass events around the world.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg of awesomeness that is the creativity of these folks. Not long ago, a group managed to convince a mall to let them patch audio from wireless mikes into the PA system, and staged a musical number at the Baldwin Hills Mall food court in Southern California.

There is something just so right about a group of people who inject some spontaneity designed to make people happy, or at least have a "you won't believe what I saw today" moment as we go about our lives. Unlike, say Critical Mass, which is based on giving the finger to The Man, and making sure you know how much of a jerk you are for working for a living and oh noes doesn't subscribe to some ideological devotion to bikes, folks like Improv Everywhere show you can have a little fun once in a while and it doesn't have to be All About Sticking It To Someone.

And now, I present to you, the song "I Need A Napkin Please""

March 10, 2008

Some Spitzer Memoribilia For Your Afternoon Enjoyment


So if you haven't heard the story about Gov. Spitzer of New York and the, um, $5000 call girl thing, well, go read it. I mean, wtf? I don't know what you have to be in to that requires you to pay that much for a romp with a hooker, and frankly, I don't wanna know.

Since I'm a political nerd and collect all sorts of poltical ad detritus, here's one of Spitzer's election ads from 2006. Rather interesting in light of said events.

March 6, 2008

Let's Lighten The Mood With Star Wars, Saul Bass Style, and Proposition 3-17!

Time to lighten the mood with a few fun finds. The first comes courtesy of the good folks who run io9.com, which has all sorts of sci-fi-like goodness daily. Apparently some creative type decided to do the Star Wars credits if Star Wars had been made in the 1950s and employed legendary animator Saul Bass to do the credits. (Once you watch the video, you'll recognize the style from all sorts of classic films in the 50s and 60s).

Also, I got a pin the other day as part of a Guinness St. Patrick's Day promotion for Proposition 3-17. Given all the weirdness we usually get on the ballot, really, this is pretty mild.

UPDATE: The pop culture remix continues, as it seems someone took the Saul Bass/Star Wars mashup, and decided to spoof the digital remake of Star Wars, in the same style.

Thank goodness we now live in an era where we can have the tools at home to make awesome videos, remix pop culture, and remix it again and show it to whoever is curious to watch. Kinda like the Laugh Out Loud Cats remix. Yay Series of Tubes.

March 5, 2008

Some Suggestions For the Guardian Now That They "Won" $15 Million....

Wow. That was fast. The jury in the ongoing litigation between the Bay Guardian and Village Voice Media came to a rather sudden end as a jury awarded the Guardian $15 million and sided with its claim that its competitor, SF Weekly, was selling ads below cost in an attempt to put the paper out of business.

There has been an endless amount of spin from each side at their respective "blogs," and the personalized vitriol between the Guardian's management and the VVM management has been a bit over the top. More importantly, I, as the reader of local media, have not had an objective voice report on this trial, so it's really hard to know who was telling the truth, and who was lying.

Re-reading some of the "blog" postings by Tim Redmond and Andy Van De Voorde, it was hard to believe each "reporter" was even talking about the same trial - it was spin spin spin. This is the mainstream journalism I'm supposed to fear the demise of, thanks to Evil Blogs and The Internet? Hmm.

Now, while they're popping champagne corks over on Portero Hill, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that VVM will appeal said verdict. But let's pretend for a moment that said appeal fails and VVM writes the BG that oversized Publisher's Clearing House check. Here are some (real) suggestions on what to do with the money:

Continue reading "Some Suggestions For the Guardian Now That They "Won" $15 Million...." »

March 2, 2008

For All Those Who Still Have Some Need for Clintonian Nostalgia...Bill for Prez 1991!


I was going through some old files this evening and found one of my many stashes of direct mail I've kept over the years for various reasons. Somehow, in all the moving and whatnot over the years, this piece, from the first Clinton campaign in 1991-1992 got misfiled in a batch of 2003 SF Mayoral mail (!) which I was looking up because...well, you know.

Anyway, click on the images for a larger version of the covers and the inside spread. You can tell this is probably one of the first brochures the campaign made, most likely in 1991 when Clinton's campaign began, but before James Carville and Paul Begala joined the campaign (in 1991 they were busy winning an impossible bid for US Senate for Harris Wofford).

Design notes, and a clip from "Mad Men" after the jump! Read on!

Continue reading "For All Those Who Still Have Some Need for Clintonian Nostalgia...Bill for Prez 1991!" »

January 19, 2008

Cloverfield Was Actually Pretty Good, Despite the Hype....

I had to take a break from all things current event related (what with the death and mayhem on MUNI and the ongoing mess that is local politics), so I went to the movies on Friday to see Cloverfield on opening day. And, I'm happy to say that for what it was, and for the purposes I selected it, the film did the job quite well.

J.J. Abrams and his talented team of directors and writers managed to pull of what hadn't really been done before - do a "monster attacks a city" movie solely from the perspective of people caught in the middle of it who don't know the hows or whys of what is going on - just that Bad Things Are Happening, and there's no way to tell from moment to moment what one "should" do.

Although the hand-held camera perspective did get some people a little carsick-ish at times, the level of intensity once the sh*t went down was pretty realistic. More than once you wanted the guy holding the camera to turn around and get a better look at The Big Monster or whatever, but of course, that just made it more realistic and a lot scarier, since you had to imagine just what the heck was going on. And, as we all know, people imagining what is going on can come up with things way scarier than any Hollywood producer.

More importantly, the film did a really good job of portraying the sheer panic, chaos, and attempt at response by the government to a disaster than any I've seen in a while. If you've ever had the misfortune of being in a big natural or man-made disaster, there's always that moment when you have that feeling like the ground just fell out from under you, and suddenly just about everything that seemed so important a moment ago means squat, and now, Sh*t Is Bad. If anything, it has made me wonder if I should be developing a Post Apocalyptic Workout as the Slackmistress has done, to prepare for the next big (quake, monster, zombies, terrorist attack, whatever). After Katrina, does anyone really think the federal government has even a small clue as to what to do in case of (quake, monster, zombies, terroist attack, whatever)?

One thing that I thought of as the credits rolled and the heroic music that would normally have played during a "typical" monster film was that it might have been kind of cool for the producers to put out a fake trailer after Cloverfield came out of what the film would have looked like had they done the 10000th Remake of Godzilla route. You can almost hear the dialogue: "Mr. President....Manhattan is under attack...by a...a... Space Bug!" "You can't kill that thing with rockets and bullets....you need to use the nukes!" "Time to spray for bugs in Manhattan....American style!"

And so on.

Anyway, it was a great way to get away from the ongoing, bit-by-bit decay that seems to be enveloping Our Fair City, and our country in general, and aside from annoying ads for Mucinex at the theater, was worth the 9.50 I paid.

PS: For another film that provides that hand-held camera, "you are there" approach, go rent 84 Charlie Mopic. I saw this movie years ago, and the experience has stuck with me even though I only saw it once. Definitely worth seeing. And if you want to really get scared, go search for the hand-held real video our soldiers are shooting in Iraq. I've seen a few of these and all I can say is that if we don't give these guys like, super nice treatment when they come back from that hell-hole, well then we suck.

January 13, 2008

File This Under "WTF?":The "Frozen Chosen" Are Using Anime in The Church?!?

One of the few benefits of Google Mail is that little strip that rotates various news links....today I saw one that Google deemed I'd be interested in....A Presbyterian minister using an anime series to teach folks about religion.

For those not familiar with the Frozen Chosen, they have like, a million meetings about every little detail and everyone has to butt in with what they think. There's an old Presby joke that goes something along the lines of "How do you know you're in a Presbyterian Church at night? Because there's a committee meeting somewhere in the building." Ok, if you're not Presbyterian, the joke pretty much falls flat.


So the fact this guy could use anime at all , much less a series like Haibane Renmei (a favorite of mine), and not get 40 lashes for daring to think for himself, well I'd say that's pretty interesting, to say the least.

Or not. Anyway, if you think anime is all Pokemon crapola, go rent a DVD or two of Haibane Renmei, or anything done by Satoshi Kon. Some of 'em take a little while to get started, but they can be quite entertaining.

January 10, 2008

Can We Get TMZ.com to Cover The War and The Presidential Campaign?

I'm totally serious. I mean, when you read a paper like say, the San Jose Mercury News, which is mostly wire service filler, a handful of articles, and the Deep Thoughts of Clint Reilly, or watch CNN and see them stumble and bumble any sort of coverage that really tells you anything, you begin to wonder if maybe these crybaby MSM folks are just not up to the job.

Meanwhile, there's TMZ.com, which has an army of video cameras and associated folks on the scene. Sure they may pay off sources, but they somehow manage to get the dirt. When pop culture train wreck Britney Spears tried to fake out the press and do a bunk to Mexico, there was TMZ, catching it all on tape. It's as if Marcellus Wallace told the TMZ crew "If Britney goes to Indochina, I want a photographer waiting in a bowl of rice ready to put a lens in her ass" or something.

Imagine if TMZ was on the campaign trail, getting the real dirt on our candidates and also going after all the shenanigans of GW's crew. I would imagine that in about a week, we'd have a total revolution or something.

But then again, who wants to look at a bunch of politicians in compromised positions? At least some of the celebs are attractive....

January 3, 2008

The Zombie Workout.com - AKA Skillz You Need to Pay the Billz

So there you are, wondering, "how can I make 2008 I a productive year" and don't realize that the Post-Apocalyptic Workout solves so many of your problems!

Not only do you find out how best to disencourage cannibalism, you also find out the skillz you need to pay the billz in the post-apocalyptic world!

Go there now, read Nina's wisdom, and have fun! She rocks and you will, upon reading her blog!

October 12, 2007

Oh No They DIDN'T : A Joke From Years Ago Is Now Real - Jesus' Wine!

Why I remember this I don't know, but back in the 1990s, a brewing company came out with a "40" of Malt Liquor that was named "Crazy Horse" (as in the Native American /Indian leader). Needless to say, more than a few Native Americans/Indians were rather pissed off to see their leader being used to sell crappy beer.

Activists made the media rounds and while this particular report doesn't say it I remember seeing a congressional hearing where some Native American/Indian leaders, to show others why they were so pissed, made up bottles of "Jesus Christ White Wine" and "Malcolm X Malt Liquor" to give others a taste of what they'd felt when they saw Crazy Horse on sale.

Then I read the L.A. Times and saw this piece of news about a new wine from Israel.

"Grapes of Galilee" wine. With not one, but TWO pictures of the Son of God on it. It's to be marketed to Christians or something.

It just goes to show you that no matter how crazy, ironic or "out there" a criticism can be, someday, if you're not careful, it can REALLY happen.

I don't know that I'd be buying wine with Jesus' picture on it, and with an ad campaign that insinuates taht if Jesus drank wine back in the day "it came from their vines" (to paraphrase the vintner.). I'd happily buy a wine from Israel, since I'm sure there are good wines from Israel. But why drag Jesus into this? Does this mean if I buy a wine from Napa I'm supporting Satan or something?

Anyway, enjoy your weekend, and watch out for those sneaky mailers that aren't telling the truth about the Fix MUNI proposition! Looks like that "deal" to get things done got broken by one side after all. A pity.

*Note: I used both "Native American" and "Indian" because my experience has been that people in California like to say "Native American" but whenever I've worked on political campaigns with indigenous peoples of North America, they almost always refer to themselves as "Indian," and the names of many national organizations dedicated to such issues also say "Indian." So I put in both so no one gets all mad.

October 1, 2007

californication is just so darn entertaining because....


Yeah. Wow.

I finally saw "Californication" on Showtime thanks to their free weekend hippie promo deal, and all I can say is "wow!"

Why? Simple. David Duchovny's character, embittered writer Hank Moody, is the rock star of writers. Sure we'd all love to be super successful, have our novels butchered, but still make residuals, and oh yeah, get to have sex with hot women AND punch out guys who dis our seriously beloved, and so on, but you know.

That ain't happening.

So "Californication" offers a window into a world that we (and by "we" I mean "dumbass guys in their late 30s who so wish they could be so fucking cool") really enjoy. It's a perfect companion to that tiresome, girly show "Weeds" (which induces vomiting despite its charms), and well, it's just a wonderful show.


Oh, and one of the appeals is the circular humor and logic I've not seen since Peter Bagge did "Hate" and "Neat Stuff" back in the day. They start out planting the joke, let you go around the pool a few times, and WHAM! bring it back in such a way you didn't expect, but should have.

Just watch the show. You'll like it. Or not. Or at least understand a little more about a guy's guy, and realize why some of us are just glad the Alan Alda Bullsh*t 70s Sensitive Man Lies are done.


Just watch the show. Ladies, if you're a fan, feel free to email me.

I'm Not So Insecure I Can't Admit A Mistake Now and Then....

Recently I posted a snarky entry that suggested that a blog on the SFGate site shared "too many similarities" to one I'd posted earlier. While never using the "p-word" it was a tad harsh.

After speaking with some folks, it has been determined that it was indeed a case of "great minds thinking alike" and any suggestions otherwise that Chron TV blogger Rain Jokinen were doing anything unethical are simply incorrect.

I am not so insecure in my own writing and sense of self that I cannot admit a mistake and apologize. Too often, in our "gotcha" culture, people don't back down when they're mistaken. (That's how we got stuck in Iraq, et al).

Personally I have always admired people who aren't afraid to say "I made a mistake." Now I am doing what I advocate for others!

Now let's all enjoy tonight's episode of Heroes and look forward to a week of fun and excitement!

September 12, 2007

NBC Pilots OnDemand - The SF Science Fiction of "Journeyman" and "Bionic Woman"

Despite NBC's catfight with Apple, resulting in the removal of new NBC shows on iTunes, you can catch many of the pilots for NBC on Comcast OnDemand. Last night I had a chance to watch the Bionic Woman remake, Journeyman, and Life.

I'd mentioned Journeyman earlier here when I did a roundup of all those TV shows set in San Francisco. As an added bonus, it turns out Bionic Woman is also sort-of-set in San Francisco - at least in the opening scenes, we're told that Jamie Sommers is a bartender in San Francsico (but like the other project David Eick co-produces, Battlestar Galactica, it is primariliy filmed in Vancouver, BC).

I won't rehash the long chatter about why all those much ballyhooed "tax credits" the politicians promote have failed so miserably (read the old article for that little lecture) but instead just marvel how, especially in the case of Journeyman, they did a pretty impressive job of making the mix of location and L.A. shots pretty seamless.

In an article on SciFi.com, executive producer Kevin Falls talked about how he was "new" to doing scifi on TV and the challenges he faced as he was new to the genre.

Mr. Falls need not worry, for Journeyman is truly a good piece of science fiction. Yes, the time travel thing and whatnot is obvious, but there are other elements spotted in the pilot that make this truly a piece of science fiction:

-Our Hero is a reporter for a newspaper called The San Francisco Register and apparently makes enough to afford both a huge victorian and a fancy Mustang, which he wrecks.

-Our Hero does actual investigative pieces as a reporter for a big daily in SF about the Mayor, and apparently spends time following up with multiple sources, which delays his finished piece by a day.

-Said newspaper is full of reporters and editors in a huge office downtown, working on multiple investigative pieces and doing their own work at any moment. The editor does not beat any one up, nor does he fire most of the staff to save money. Instead he cracks the whip and makes everyone turn in their work on time, and demands they check sources. He frowns on blogs, but not in "that way."

-In this alternate reality, MUNI buses drive fast enough on Taylor Street to knock a guy into the solar system and back. They also run an "18 Columbus" bus on Market Street for our friends in North Beach. It's not a smelly diesel one either.

-MUNI also runs on time,all the time, and F-Market streetcars are fast enough to potentially mow down a hapless dude in 1987.

-Also, the SFPD has a huge main headquarters where Our Hero's brother is a detective. This alternate reality has detectives using a faux Google on iPhones to solve crimes. Oh, and yeah, they really do solve a lot of crimes, and no doubt with Our Hero's new ability, he can help brother detective solve all those murders and stuff.

-No word yet on whether this version of Earth has a San Francisco D.A. that fights crime effectively, but the writers and producers have to be careful. If they pile up too many unbelieveable premises all at once, the "suspension of disbelief" starts to falter.

And so on. You get the idea. Go watch it and see what you think!

PS: The Bionic Woman is not without its own scifi:

- nanotechnology to make people super strong? - believable, sorta

- a shadowy government agency that's trying to create supersoliders? - sure, why not

- bartenders in San Francisco who can afford huge flats for themselves and their younger sister, apparently sans rent control? - now that is science fiction!

September 5, 2007

Lighting a Lighter Because Apple ROCKS: New iPods!

You have to hand it to Apple, Inc.: just when you start to wonder if there's anyone left around who actually does something for a living other than ad sales, financial derivatives ,or say, laundry, good old Apple makes a product really well, then keeps making it better. Today's new iPods are an example of that.

While I always liked the iPhone conceptually, I did not want to gget one because a) it cost a fortune and more importantly, b) getting one would mean having to switch from my favored cellphone company, T-Mobile, and switch to the Soviet-like stagnation and bureaucracy of AT&T, which sucks. So I figured I was out of luck.

It wasn't so much that the phone part was any different than my current Nokia, but rather that for many of the tasks I have when I'm out and about (checking email, approving comments, and getting NextMUNI info), the iPhone was almost as good as lugging around my beloved G4 Powerbook. But that AT&T thing killed the deal.

Enter the newest iPod, with all the great features of the iPhone I wanted - just no phone itself. It's a little cheaper, can hold more music, files and videos, and best of all, gives me a chance to get the cool features of the iPhone while at the same time giving the finger to the toads at AT&T. No ongoing "fees" or "contracts" - I can keep my awesome rate plan with T-Mobile.

Sure I'll be the nerd with two gadgets in his pocket but so what? I can get the product I want and not get strangled by AT&T's fees. Apple, THANK YOU!

August 29, 2007

Reason #3,572,893 Why Newspapers (And the LA Times) Suck

Watching the completely stupid management decisions of Big Media (and for that matter Little Media) in the mainstream is kind of like watching a trainwreck in progress, with clowns. It's really painful to watch, and the blood and tears make it a horrible thing to watch, but the clowns make it kind of funny, because, well, they're clowns.

OK, bad analogy. But hey, clowns.

Anyway, once again we see why the LA Times, once a great paper that consistently informed I, the reader, in ways the Chronicle is completely unaware of, is starting to circle down the drain. In this case, in their desperate attempt to get me to go to the Macy's Labor Day Sale, they had these kewl ads programmed with mad Flash skillz.

The problem? You can't click them closed and they completely obscure the article I was trying to read. In other words, the entire point of me being on the site in the first place is gone - I'm just suppose to click on the ads and forget about reading anything in the LA Times entirely.

You realy have to hand it to the idiots in charge of these publications. To "save money" they fire off most of their staffs - funny because in a knowledge economy such as the news, you might want to have people on board who know about the subjects their writing about.

Then they start realizing "gawrsh, there's that thar series of tubes" out there, 15 years too late, and come up with bigger and dumber ideas for "online," when of course, they're not blaming The Series of Tubes for everything bad known to man (read any front page of the San Francisco Chronicles to read the silly bleatings of what is left of their staff on almost any issue).

Then they wonder why it is people don't pay 50 cents or more a day for a "newspaper" filled mostly with wire service copy, partsian politics posing as "local news," dull, witless and endless "commentary" from people who restate the obvious, and on and on. "Alternative" papers don't fare much better - they're doing the same boneheaded things the mainstream does, just nastier.

And of course, we could power the entire Solar System on the perpetual whining of journalists, who bitch and moan about how "the tubes" are responisble for all their woes - but never once take a look at the fact that Big Corporatisation of the workplace affects most industries too, and who of course can't be bothered to learn any new skills - or oh I dunno report some news. Maybe lookup that whole "colluding with the government on the Iraq war thing" and the whole "suck up to the powerful all the time" thing too.

If there was an actual newspaper that reported news in the Bay Area, and one that wasn't wedded to self interest or special interests, I'd happily pay for it, and I'd be willing to pay more than what most papers charge now. When one comes around, can someone let me know?

Since it will be sometime around the Apocalypse, I'm sure you'll be wanting to get in touch anyway. KTHXBAI.

July 10, 2007

We Interrupt This Blog For A Special Announcement: BSG: Razor Trailer!

I just saw this while enduring SCIFI Channel's dull "Eureka"...but it was worth it....this BSG movie will be out on DVD and on the SCIFI channel in fall 2007....should be good.

Now that you've seen the trailer, why not buy an Adama for President T Shirt and be the coolest person on the beach this summer!

June 29, 2007

Save Net Radio Benefit This Weekend!

I've been remiss in not getting the word out to folks as best I can about the looming destruction of Internet radio that's coming fairly soon, and how they can help try and forestall the Forces of Doom. Which is rather stupid , on my part, since I am an avid listener of SOMA FM. In fact, thanks to SOMA FM, I've ended up buying more music than I would if there was no SOMA FM. Plus, their "Groove Salad" channel is great for background music when I'm on a writing deadline.

There is a Save Internet Radio event coming up on Sunday that you should check out. Also, oddly enough, there is an unusually informative piece in the SF Weekly that explains much of what's going on, and its impact on Internet stations here in town.

This was a surprise, since this is the first time in a years I can remember reading something that I didn't already know in said publication. But I digress.

My biggest objection to how all of this is going down is that once again we see the big entertainment companies and the RIAA decide that the only way to be successful in business is to go to war with the customer, and use Congress and their ilk to write bogus laws that reinforce this war. Then they wonder why it is people are running away in droves from their dull offerings and towards all things Internets. Duh!

June 26, 2007

Adama for President Shirts Are Going Fast! Order One Now!

Tired of the same old boring presidential candidates? Not happy with your party's potential nominees?

Then get yourself one of these limited edition "Adama '08" shirts! We will be changing T-Shirt providers soon, so order one today, before we discontinue this version of this product!

(Please. I need to sell just a few more, then I can switch to Spreadshirt....so order one today!)

June 1, 2007

L.A. Is In Like With SF On TV! Well, Sort Of!

While reading about all those new shows on TV everyone's talking about, I could not help but notice how many are set in San Francisco. I find this entertaining for two reasons. One is that I'm always happy to see a film set in my hometown and am a walking encyclopedia of film locations (Heck, I could offer tours for Bullitt, Vertigo, and Tales of the City, to name a few). The other is that it once again reinforces what I've learned about the infamous San Francisco/Los Angeles "feud" - while people in San Francisco are quick to rip into L.A., folks down south really like Our Fair City, unaware of said emotion-filled feud.

Now, it seems, L.A.'s being in like with us has filtered into Hollywood decisionmaking. So far, in addition to the return of Monk(which pretends to be in SF but is filmed down south), there are at least three fall series coming up set in San Francisco. They are:

Continue reading "L.A. Is In Like With SF On TV! Well, Sort Of!" »

March 2, 2007

Memo to Bostonians: Your Police Are At It Again!


TO: Citizens of Boston
FROM: Everyone Else

Almost a month after the Great Mooninite Panic of 1/31, once again the Boston Police had a "security theater" moment detonating a "suspicious looking device," sending the local area into a panic and putting the whole city on edge.

Instead it turned out to be a harmless traffic counter.

Citizens of Boston! Those of us who have visited your fine city note that it's the home of more colleges and universities than pretty much anywhere else in the country. Every Bostonian I've met is a reasonable, intelligent human being, and most seem to have a healthy dose of common sense.

Why, then, is your police force so inept it's blowing up traffic counters? Do you realize what's happening? If they keep crying wolf, what's going to happen if something really tragic does happen?

So I'm begging you, citizens of Boston: you tossed tea in the bay to help the Revolution - maybe it's time your leaders reflected the good sense you all have.

October 23, 2006

Reading the Bay Guardian 40th Anniversary Edition So You Don't Have To

Editor's Note: Don't forget to check out additions to the 2006 Political Mail Archive this week!

This week I read the Bay Guardian's 40th Anniversary Edition. And, as a public service, I'm going to tell you all about it so you don't have to slog through it yourself.

"If it's so boring," you ask, "why did you read it?" Well, oddly enough the Guardian's 40th anniversary issue did more (albeit unintentionally) to reveal the paper's current shortcomings and problems the paper has brought upon itself than they realize.

First off, aside from two pieces penned by Bruce Brugmann and editor Tim Redmond, there was little to distinguish this significant anniversary issue from any other. No articles or comments from SFBG alumni, no archival photos, nothing. I find it odd that with so many alumni now doing great things, not one was invited to pen a short story talking about their time at the Guardian.

This is baffling to me - when I attended the Guardian holiday party in 2000 I remember being surrounded with former and current employees who had nothing but good things to say about their time at the BG. When I attended the Best of the Bay in 2005, none of those people were to be found - neither were any of the City's progressive politicians. WTF?

Even more revealing was the contrast between the Guardian's history, which retold tales of extensive investigative reporting and "you heard it here first" news, and today's paper, which does not feature much you can't hear or read somewhere else. In fact it was ironic that in the Guardian's Website of the Week feature, citizen journalist Daniela Kirshenbaum was featured for her contribution to Luke Thomas' Fog City Journal investigating downtown advocacy group SFSOS.

Now, I dig Luke's site, and Ms. Kirshenbaum's piece did do some nice work bringing up facts many people did not know about SF SOS. That said, shouldn't this have been something the Guardian broke first, it being the alleged local news powerhouse it was in the past? Come on, gang! I was told you're better than this!

Continue reading "Reading the Bay Guardian 40th Anniversary Edition So You Don't Have To" »

May 10, 2006

Death By a 1000 (DSL) Cuts In San Francisco

I was all set to write all sorts of really great articles for my new site. But EarthLink had other plans. So rather than write about the upcoming big debate tonight between Steve Westly and Phil Angelides, or about any one of the many articles I've written, I'm instead devoting today's missive to telling the world that Earthlink sucks.

There are other colorful metaphors I could use, but why get wordy?

For almost three weeks now I've had no Internet service at home. And, as I'm now working two jobs, one an all day on site consulting gig, and keeping up with my other clients after hours, this has been more than an annoyance. It's costing me real money, in the form of lost income because I can't make the deadlines I normally can when I work at night.

Even more infuriating has been the true incompetence of Earthlink customer service, primarily based in Outer Godknowswhereistan, who can barely keep up with a conversation in English, much less talk or do anything about the actual problem. And of course, they don't wanna give you your money back for screwing up. But they do know about looking at modem lights!

It seems I'm not the only one with this mysterious outage, and I've been trolling Google and finding plenty of horror stories. What amazes me is that these morons are now going to be in charge of San Francisco's WiFi experiment with Google. Talk about doing the "crane" of stupidity.

Yes, I know there are "alternatives." All of which are not much better, since the companies are all so big, they don't give a tinker's cuss about any one customer, or providing any reliable service. They don't have to. One person quitting and going to Yet Another Crappy Telco means nothing to them, or the competition, and they know it.

Whatever. I'm sure today when the Genius from SBC/ATT/Earthlink/Comcast/Whatever.com will do something. I certainly hope so. At this point I don't really have much "consumer choice" no matter what happens.

Will someone please explain how large, bureaucratic, slow, and incompetent organizations such as these are better than their ilk in a socialist system? Or at least how they differ? Or how I as the customer benefit from dealing with these morons?


UPDATE:The incompetence of these people is stunning. The SBC guy came out and verified that nothing was wrong with the acutal phone lines (Earthlink sent him out here, not at my request) so it's clearly an Earthlink issue, not a user issue.

But they insist on calling me back with more BS about "modem lights" and of course most of the time it's someone on another continent who has no idea what they're doing. And of course, half the time they mysteriously drop the call as I'm being transferred from Godknowswhereistan to the US reps (who really aren't any brighter, but at least I can understand what they're saying).

I'm doing what I should have done when I moved in, and am getting Comcast's internet service. Sure it's a monopoly here in town, and sure, they're not that much better, but at least it works. Almost 4 weeks and they still can't get it up and running. They sure do have a lot of excuses though. I wish I had a job where I could offer up BS and excuses and still get paid!

You'd think their slow, 384/128 DSL with cheap-ass modem would be easy to maintain, but I guess not. And these geniuses are supposedly going to run the City's Free WiFi? Why even bother? We should go straight to the rock throwing and effigy burning now, and save us all the wait. Besides, the flagmakers can make up some "earthlink" flags we can burn

Next time someone asks me to take a "stress test" downtown I'm telling them I don't need a "test." Earthlink ensures I'm stressed!

February 12, 2006

A High Five To My Cousin, Helen Dewar of the Washington Post

This Sunday I'm devoting some blog space for a tribute to my cousin, Helen Dewar. Regular readers of the Washington Post for the past 40 years will no doubt recognize her name - she was a veteran political reporter for the paper, first covering Virginia politics, and for 25 years, national politics and the US Senate.

More importantly, she was a trailblazer as she was the first woman to cover these beats at a time when women didn't really do that sort of thing. She got her start at Stanford Daily, where she covered campus and state politics, and was the first woman to edit the Daily.

While browsing the archives of the Stanford Daily, I found a fun little gem in the stacks of old papers. Helen had covered the student council elections in the early 1950s, and had the lead story on the results. The winner for the vice president position was a
young woman named Dianne Goldman - whom you know as Sen. Feinstein. It was interesting that less than 40 years later, Feinstein would be serving as a US Senator and Helen would be the Posts's top correspondent in the Senate.

Throughout her career, she was recognized for her honest, integrity, and her dedication to the news. Before I moved to Seattle in 1994 to work on a US Senate race, she told me more about the state's political history, and that of its legendary US Senators, Warren Magnuson and Henry Jackson, than I'd learned from anywhere, or anyone, else.

It was also fun to have lunch with her in the Senate dining room as inevitably, someone important would walk up to talk to her. I got a chance to meet Sen. Bob Dole this way, as well as a few other Senate leaders.

When Helen retired in 2004, her retirement party had quite a number of Congressional leaders, Democrat and Republican, who had enjoyed a great relationship, due in large part to her hard work and commitment to the facts, not silliness (as it seems most mainstream publications engage in today).

This past week, the Washington Press Club Foundation honored Helen with their Lifetime Achievement Award. This was another in a string of honors she'd received - last month Virginia Commonwealth University inducted her into the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame for her work as one of the first women to cover state politics in Virginia.

The Washington Post covered the event earlier this week, and it was featured on C-SPAN, but I couldn't tape it (and oddly enough you can't download C-SPAN on BitTorrent yet). Media Bistro's FishbowlDC blog also covered the event as well, which was cool.

While the Post's story does tell you a little about the event, it fails to mention something I got a kick out of - a short video tribute recorded by Senators John McCain and Ted Kennedy. I thought that was really cool of them to do, so I'm tracking down a copy of the DVD for myself and my various Dewar relatives.

More importantly, though, I think that Helen's career and her integrity stand out even more as we live in an era where "newspapers of record" routinely pump out half-truths and falsehoods, and the DC Noise Machine does a lot to stoke partisan fires, and do little to get things done.

And in an era when most journalists think it's All About Them, Helen's quiet, steadfast, honest reporting of the news is a tremendous contrast to what passes for journalism today. So for now, I'm paying tribute to my cousin Helen's life and work - and hope that despite her retirement that the concept of honest jourmalism doesn't retire along with her.

© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

February 4, 2006

This is Getting Insane - All It Took Was A 5 Month Old Cartoon...

This is getting out of hand, folks. The enemies of freedom and free speech are on the march.

All it took was a 5 month old cartoon in a paper in one country, and suddenly we see riots, threats, and now the burning of embassies. All because of one simple little .

If you're a , and you think these people are acting like thugs and idiots, it is your duty to speak up and say something. Please. Otherwise you're just as guilty as the ones that attack freedom and free speech.

Funny, Muslim papers print virulent racist anti Semitic and anti American and anti Christian stuff all the time, and yet....I have yet to see people burning the Saudi Embassy. Hmm. Oh and it's funny how these people ask the GOVERNMENTS of and Europe to stop the presses. I guess if you live in a country where the government is an autocratic dictatorship, the concept of a free and independent press might be difficult to grasp.

What's saddest is seeing Bill Clinton and our own State Department take the side of these rioting thugs. Sad, but predictable. I guess Hillary has to raise money or something.
Read the Rest-Click Here

© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

July 27, 2005

Why I'm Buying 1000 Copies of Grand Theft Auto and Sending The Receipt To Hillary "Big Mouth" Clinton

The din of idiocy surrounding the so-called "controversy" over the most popular video game on the market, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has finally reached a point I thought it could not.

It's bad enough we have Sen. Hillary Clinton trying to make herself over into a Paragon of Moral Values (this, a woman who had had ethics problems throughout her career) with her media-based crusade, but now we find out that some grandma is suing the company, claiming she was "misled."

Folks, it's time we took a look at this non-controversial controversy through the lens of Reason and Common Sense. For example, when one reads the story at Yahoo News, a key fact comes out that makes Swiss cheese out of said Grandma's lawsuit, and of much of the hoopla.

In this case, it seems the box, which had a big "M" rating, meaning "not for kids under 17" was ignored by Concerned Grandma, when she bought the game for her little grandson, Zutroy. Fun fact: Grandson Zutroy was 14.

Yes, you read that right. Moral Values Grandma was buying a game, loaded with violence, guns, and mayhem, with a big ol' rating that said "this ain't for your young 'uns under 17" for a 14-year old. I guess buying the kid a book, or say, a documentary from National Geographic was out of the question. Grandma got the kid what he wanted - and he wasn't old enough to play it. Hmm. I guess the parents were too busy to read the box, or pay attention to the game either, and take note of the violence. Oh, and he never downloaded the "patch" either.

And of course, here's the kicker: the much maligned piece of "code" only works on the PC based version of the game. Most youth of America play games on Playstation or Xbox or GameCube, so they can download the bit o' code all they want - it won't work on their game systems.

Even funnier, now that the game is "Adults Only," it has gone from being a game to be sold only to people 17 and older to...a game sold to people 18 and older. The fact that parents made this thing a best-seller amongst kids, buying this for them, without even bothering to read what the hell it was they were buying, I guess makes it tough for the li'l ones to make a decision about whether God would allow them to read this. Where's the stadium church when you need it the most???

It's time for assorted partisans of all stripes. politicians, judges, and government regulators to take a healthy dose of Clue Pills and shut up. If parents are too stupid to read a label that says "don't buy it for kids under 17" then they should not. If the media would point out the technical speficics how this can't be hacked on a Playstation, that would help. But I suppose with another Clinton forcing herself on us as our next president (which is about as likely to happen as Saddam Hussein being elected President), we'll have to endure a media hyped crusade that will hurt an American company, and lead to more regulations of our personal lives.

In the meantime, I think I'm going to forgo rent this month and buy 1000 copies of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, just to piss Hillary and the conservatives off. Even though I don't own a game console, a PC, or really play games, I don't care. Heck, I'll drive around town giving them away to adults, 18 or older, just to really get the Nanny-staters' panties in a knot.

For more information on Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, consult your local library, or read Maddox's take, from earlier this month on the issue.

There's also an interesting take on Sen. "Do as I say not as I do" Clinton's crusade in the LA Times - but its headline makes a critical error, in that the XBOX version of this game cannot be hacked with the mod found online.

One other thing: though not perfect, I did think BILL Clinton was a great guy, and had the fortune of meeting him twice. Nice guy, and back in the old days people got paid better. But it is just simply foolish to think that Hillary Clinton will be elected President of the United States in this universe. So her crusading to try and remake her image, all for the sake of More Power for Hillary, wrapped up in values, is really just plain sick.

© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

July 5, 2005

The Politics of...Battlestar Galactica? - The L.A. Times Speaks...

While reading the Los Angeles Times politics section, I found this interesting article about the themes in Battlestar Galactica that touch on current events in a way unique to television programming of today.

It's worth a read, since it's a great way to acquaint yourself with this series, if you've not already checked it out, and also to see how people tend to project on to a piece of programming as much as the programming tries to project out.

Meaning, that there is a tendency today by people today, especially hyper-active partisans on all sides of any issue, to imediately "see" in a TV show what they want to see, regardless of the original intent of the author. People who want to watch a piece of sci-fi programming like Battlestar Galactica will immediately draw simplistic parallels to Our World of Today, and then start assigning blame or praise to the writers and producers, fitting their MoveOn or FoxNews pre-salted interpretation of world events.

(To be fair, I engaged in a wee bit of this myself for fun's sake last year when I wrote about the series beginnings, and about Gen. Wes Clark. It was fun and all, but I didn't make the mistake some of these fans do, and get all militant about things that do not exist!)

People are free to watch TV how they like, but I think doing so denies a viewer a chance to really see what it is the creators are trying to do. Plus it shows a simplistic thinking - i.e. "we" are the "Colonials" so therefore President Roslin is a 1 for 1 stand in for President Bush - which isn't really the way to watch something like this. (I had to grimace when I read that someone called it "The West Wing in Space" - that show is so pompous and overblown I literally get ill when I hear the theme music while flipping channels).

Better instead to enjoy it for what it is - a new kind of sci-fi that can address issues, but in an alternate continuum not bound up by the world of Today and Now, and a great way to develop solid characters and explore their actions and responses to extraordinary events. Such TV writing is not easy, nor is it common in an era of reality show dreck and methodic repetition of scientific terms set to bad rock music.

Which is why I'll be taping/watching/bittorrenting/whatever-ing the new series when it starts on July 15th. Woo hoo!

PS: I've had Comcast digital cable + Comcast OnDemand for 3 months now, and am going to write a review of my experience with the service vs. Netflix...If anyone out there has had experiences with Comcast, good or bad, I'd be curious to hear them. Send me a message if you've got any suggestions or comments. Just be sure to leave your name so I know you're a real person, and not a spam-bot.

© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

July 2, 2005

Happy Positive Fun Update: Viral Marketing and the Reinvention of the Sale

Despite the fact I dislike large, faceless, hopelessly bureaucratic corporations like Comcast, SBC, Halliburton, the entire Health Care Industry, et al, who devote legions of troops to the cause of ripping off the consumer, I have a confession to make.

I like advertising. I like marketing.

Now, I'll qualify that. I don't like the majority of ads on TV, or at the movies, not because I dislike ads - it's because most of them are so dumb, and so useless, they just take up space in between things I want to actually watch.

No, what I like is smart advertising and marketing.

For me, I enjoy seeing the rare moments in advertising when someone in the industry figures out a new way to sell something old, or someone else finds a way to get the word out about something they like - and for a rare moment the corporate battle droids don't just step on it.

For example, while doing a Google search trying to find a Photoshop tutorial on how to convert existing photos into iPod style ads, I came across an old article in Wired Magazine about a home-brewed iPod ad that had its 15 minutes of prime time a while back. You can watch the ad at Wired or see it at a mirror site that is hosting it.

This is not the first time I've seen or heard of such a thing - the idea that someone Out There likes a product so much, they make their own homage to it. What's unique is that Apple didn't send a telegram to the Lawyer Brigade to shut the guy down.

Instead they let it go - and within weeks it was seen by thousands of people likely to buy an iPod. Best of all, they didn't have to spend a dime to get all sorts of good press about the iPod, or pay for ad space - the consumers did all the work themselves.

True, this was a fortunate case of someone talented enough to pull such a thing off - one can imagine the consternation of Apple if someone made something that, while meaning well, sucked. When you consider just how bad most ads are, though, one has to ask - could Joe or Jane Average do any worse than some of the mindless drivel we tune out thanks to the remote, TiVo, DVR, and DVD?

A more macro-level example of this concept is that of the "fan sub" movement devoted to bringing foreign programming to the US and other countries that otherwise might not get it. It's interesting to watch how American producers have responded to technological advances in distribution - rather than learn and adapt to a new model, they spend more time in court, and on attorney's fees, instead of figuring out new ways to get their product to people who want it, and get both themselves, and the writers, directors, actors and others paid.

For years now, enthusiasts of Japanese animation and other foreign language programming have been taking it upon themselves to acquire the latest programs, translate and insert subtitles in English (or other languages) and distributing them on BitTorrent and other networks. What makes these folks unique in the grey area of "piracy" is that they deal almost exclusively in programming that has not yet been licensed for distribution in their own country, thus making what they are doing somewhat illegal - but somewhat not illegal, if that makes sense.

Personally, I would never have discovered Samurai Champloo, now being shown on Cartoon Network, had it not been for a fansub group's original distribution of the series online. I now watch it on TV, and will most likely buy the DVD set once all DVDs in the series are released.

Likewise, there is no way I'd ever get to see the Japanese live-action drama GTO had a group of volunteers not started translating and posting said files. There is little to no chance this will ever see any sort of distribution in the United States, so the producers aren't losing any money with this stuff out there. More to the point - should they ever release this series on DVD, I'd be the first to rent it. Best of all, the producers did not have to pay a dime to tell me about it - and I'm already hooked.

Now, you'd think that as more and more people started doing this, the owners of said programming would hit everyone with lots of lawsuits. But as the technology advanced, and the increase in popularity of "fan subs" grew, Japanese media companies realized what they were dealing with.

Thousands of people were spending their own money and time putting out content, making a point of inserting in said video files that they were not to be sold, and in essence acting as a test market for their products in the US.

Japanese producers took note, and started to send people to conventions and fan clubs to promote their work. All they asked that once a series was licensed by a US distributor, that groups passing along the files stop, and for the most part, they do. Rarely does anyone get sued for putting out copies of video files they should not.

The rest is history. Go to Netflix or Blockbuster and see how many Japanese DVDs now for rent. Go to any chain bookstore, and see the 100s of Japanese comic books taking up shelf space. A whole new market is now available to Japanese producers, and all they had to do was come on over and put the stuff on the shelves, and it sells. Instead of spending money on the Lawyer Brigade, they spend money on bean counters, who now have more beans to count.

It's not perfect, and in any situation there are those who are dishonest, but let's be realistic - dishonesty and cheating people is something all sides of the entertainment industry engage in - there are no knights in shining armor in this business anywhere.

More importantly, there's an opportunity to hold off on the big guns of the Lawyer Brigade and think for a moment - in a world where people really want to see good quality programming, how do you find new ways to get it to them in the way they want, and do so in a way that is not ripping either a) the consumer b) the artists or c) the producers?

Surely there's someone out there who can put the pieces together, and make money for everyone. Or have American business schools beat any sort of creativity out of our MBA squads?

Perish the thought. What are yours?

PS: For a provocative read, check out this article that discussed the case history of Battlestar Galactica and its effect on SkyOne, SciFi channel, BitTorrent, and the world of broadcasting.

It makes for an interesting read. I'll say this - had it not been for a chance to see the show on BitTorrent, I would never have been able to see Season 1 aside from a few episodes. Now that I've seen it , I plan on watching it on cable this summer, and will buy the DVDs. I went from being a non-consumer, to a fan who has promoted the series here. And I'm not the only one.

© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

June 17, 2005

"The "Frozen Chosen" in Space" or "Me Is Too Crazy Pirating Guy!"

Friday fun, for the Schädelmann! fans (written in like, 10 minutes or less):

So by now you all know that despite what the fascists at the MPAA say in those irritating movie trailers, the real movie piraters are not the BitTorrentors trying to see an episode of Battlestar Galactica they missed last week, but in fact, the Chinese.

Sorry, PC-ers, but the sad fact is that millionaires in China owe their fortunes to stealing content from people around the world, and reselling it to their Chinese bretheren for pennies, and not paying a dime to those who actually created said content. This is in line with the Chinese version of capitalism - steal things from others, use your penny-a-day labor to flood the market with cheap goods, and reap the results.

And best of all the neoconservatives who accomodate you in the USA and the WTO will never call you on your shenanigans. The MPAA? Too stupid, or too much in bed with the Communist Chinese to care. There's 14 year olds to sue, gosh darnit.

But that said, here's some fun. Take a look at the English-to-Chinese-to-English Again translation of the subtitles on the poor quality Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith DVDs going around town.

I found particularly funny the fact that "Jedi Council" got mangled into "Presbyterian Church" in the cheap, lousy, Chinese bootleg of said film. (UPDATE: Click on this link instead if the other one does not work)

Not because I want to pay money to the Insane Red Chinese to see such a thing, but because I find it hilarious the dorky Jedis of George Lucas' stillborn trilogy so resemble what critics of the Presbyterian church label them - the Frozen Chosen.

Hey, after a couple of Rainiers it was funny, anyway.

© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

July 5, 2004

Culture, Fun, KSCI, and Getting Fooled by The Man

When I moved to Los Angeles, I made a choice to get a Netflix subscription instead of cable television, with the idea being that I'd have more control over what I got to watch, and I'd avoid the inevitable of getting sucked into watching reruns and old movies when I needed to be working.

When I lived in Seattle and worked out of my home up there, I would have CNN or whatever on "to be informed" but found that I ended up losing a few hours a day to Law and Order reruns during the day. Determined to maintain some self-discipline, I opted for Netflix and by and large it's worked out very well.

However, I don't always have a disc to watch, and if there's one thing I've learned, is that when you have insomnia, and don't have cable, your viewing options in LA are severely limited. But I've discovered that KSCI TV has an interesting lineup of programming, mostly Asian or Indian, and most with English subtitles, not unlike KTSF in the Bay Area.

My favorites tend to be the subtitled, ultra-melodramatic Japanese soap operas, since they really do seem to pack as much emotion into every line of dialogue and scene they can. I also like watching the Indian version of "Entertainment Tonight" in English as well - they always have such beautiful actresses on those programs. Oh, but I digress.

Just the other day, I caught a mini-documentary, again in Japanese with English subtitles that was a truly enjoyable piece of programming. The subject was a ramen chef in Japan, in a town (whose name I do not remember) that apparently is the world capital of ramen noodle shops. People line up for hours to try and get a spot at this guy's restaurant, as he only serves about 200 people a day at this restaurant.

The entire documentary was a survey of this guy's life, and his hardcore commitment to making the best ramen noodle dishes from scratch, starting with an early morning making the dough for the noodles, an exacting process that is very labor intensive.

Combined with his exacting specifications for every single aspect of creating the best ramen possible, way beyond the exacting preparation in Tampopo you realized really quickly that this was a rare insight into a true artisan who took real pride in his work. In a way, he kind of reminded me of the guy who runs Fiesta Brava near my home in Venice Beach.

It was also a nice story about the man himself, his commitment to his family, and about a way of life in general that made one feel pretty good. With all that is going on these days, it's nice to watch something that is just nice, and doesn't have anything to do with wars, elections, reality TV, or Yet Another Cop Show. It was one of those things you catch by mistake, and feel glad you caught it.

Towards the end of the documentary, they talked about his health, which was a cause of concern to his family since he was developing joint pain and RSI from all those years of noodle-making by hand, and the fact he was getting older in general. It was clear by the end that this family was a very close-knit bunch of folks and their concern seemed genuine.

All in all, a nice TV moment. Then I found out I'd been led astray. To say I was fooled would suggest that the subject matter was phony, but it wasn't - there was too much there to suggest that it was all made up. But there was more to this little piece of programming than met the eye (at the beginning).

It seems that at the end, when the daughter discusses how she's concerned about her dad's health, comes up with a solution that has both helped her, and now helps him maintain strength and vitality. What was it? Why, Aojiru drink packets, of course!

I'd been sucked into watching an infomercial for a barley drink many people drink as a nutritional supplement. Now, I have no idea how good this stuff really is for you, or how good it tastes, but I can tell you it isn't cheap - each little packet is a little more than a dollar, and they recommend you use at least 2-3 a day. That's almost $100 per month!

The whole experience left me feeling a bit strange. For 25 minutes I'd been enjoying a serendipitous trip through the life and times of one of Japan's best noodle-chefs, only to find out in the last 5 minutes, I was watching a nice long ad for some very expensive barely drink mix. I remember thinking to myself "Now what? Do I get angry for having wasted my time watching an informercial or what?"

In the end I realized that for 95% of the time spent watching it, the show had nothing to do with the product being sold, so as time wasters go, it really wasn't that bad. And if nothing else, I did get some positive entertainment out of it. But I don't know that I'll be buying any Aojiru anytime soon. Not until they put a nice big disclaimer at the beginning of their 30 minute ad!

© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

June 14, 2004

"Reagan Memory 2" or Why You REALLY Should Check Your Notes

When I was in high school, Reagan was The President. Elected in my first year of junior high, Reagan was The Man, The Guy In Charge, whatever. In 1984, he instituted the "Adopt A School" program, which was designed to encourage various entities, from the military, to business, to government to "adopt" high schools around the nation to help the student body and make us better Americans.

In the case of my high school, Mills High, in Millbrae, California (a scenic suburb of San Francisco for those of you unfamiliar with this over-priced burg's location) we were "adopted" by the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise.

Now, for some of you this may be no big whoop, but for me, as a confirmed Star Trek Fan at the time, this had a hint of cool, even though it was part of a state-sponsored activity which I usually disdained. Hey! They even had the captain of the ship sign some big ol' proclamation with us kids in a big ceremony. We even got to cut class to see it! Right on!

It was great. We were the Chosen Ones of our high school rivals. Now the problem was, once the big ceremonies were over, we got about as much benefit from our "adoption" from the Big "E" as we would have gotten from, say, any of a number of absentee parents out there in the 80s. In other words, zilch.

Which was fine - aircraft carriers are supposed to defend the United States as their primary duty. But as time went on most people forgot the whole thing even happened. In 1986, two years later, the Navy came to town for Fleet Week, complete with flying Blue Angels. The Big "E" was in town too.

Since this was the case, I figured that we'd have something, anything to do with the ship since they were in town. Now, I suppose if I was a writer in the 21st Century, I'd just make something up and put it on a website, without much regard for what was true or not. But this was the 80s and technology and times were different. So I began making some calls.

I called the school. Everyone I could think of that would know something. Nothing.

I called the ship (yes really). Nothing.

I called the United States Navy in Washington D.C. They had no idea what I was talking about.

After a week of running up a nice long distance bill, I was at my wit's end. Here I was, putting in way too much work onto something that surely no one would read anyway - I was just a kid in high school writing for his paper right? So I wrote a story about my travails (well written for a 17 year old) and posted a picture of the ship with the title "Big "E" MIA?" and detailed all the research I'd done.

It got a laugh from the five nerds who read the paper, and I figured that was the end of that. But I was wrong.

That's because unlike most high school papers, ours, The Thunderbolt, was not distributed on campus. In a bid to raise ad revenues, it was decided to mail the paper home directly to students' homes, and then use the demographics of the Burlingame/Millbrae neighborhood to sell ads that would reach the kids' parents. It kind of worked. It was also mailed out to other schools, other administrators.

Even the school district's Board of Trustees.

So, when I was reading the district's latest published Board of Trustees minutes (believe it or not) I got to a section featuring a request from our school's principal. He was asking for some lengthy paid vacation time to go to an airshow, and cited the school's involvement with the USS Enterprise as a main reason for justifying his trip.

In the minutes (which I am sure I have somewhere) the president of the board pulled out a copy of the Thunderbolt and proceeded to cite my article. Right in the middle of the school board meeting. In front of EVERYONE there. The principal's request was denied.

When I read this, I was really surprised. Someone read my article! Then I began to worry - after all I'd pretty much pissed off the principal of the school. However, I was able to say with tremendous certainty that I'd done my research, and had the phone bill and the notes to prove that what I'd said was true - and that I'd done everything I could to find out what was really going on - instead of making up something just to be snarky or "cool."

Despite a few nasty glances from said principal, I made it out of school just fine. More importantly that's when I realized the impact of the printed word had on real people, in the real world. It also made me realize just how important it was to try and do one's best when one writes about a person or a subject - a lazy or intentionally harmful piece of print could really hurt someone.

Thus, when I read about the miserable failings of the New York Times with their war coverage, read about the trail of lies surrounding the non-story regarding John Kerry's personal life and read in interviews that some bloggers are more concerned with clever little headlines than actually discussing something thats real, it gets a tad frustrating.

The post-truth era makes everything unbelievable, and the falsehoods piled on top of double entendres, and the discussion of what "is" is make it hard to know what is really going on, and what is not. At least it makes for catchy headlines! Right?

© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

March 22, 2004

Take this V Chip and.....

It seems like every few years someone, be they on the left or the right, has to start screaming hysterics about the content of television and radio programming. If the fact that we now have a far more active attempt to have the State regulate what you can and can't say about any subject, including the current President's performance in office, the sick humor of the whole situation would make it more entertaining than threatening.

The vituperative outrage from our Self Appointed Guardians of The Republic seems to ignore the fact that we've had this debate before. The outcome in one instance was the creation of a "protect the innocent children" system that promised us a technological solution to this "problem," and was heralded by "parents" as the solution that would save the nation. Years later, we find that this great (and expensive) system is largely unused by the people who demanded it so fiercely in the first place.

Today's LA Times has an interesting retrospective on the V Chip solution/debacle, and points out that theoretically, we already have a system in place that has been proven to work, allowing parents to protect the kiddies from Bad Things.

And yet, the Hysterical Parents don't use it at all, instead more interested in telling adults who'd like to watch some entertainment that doesn't involve a purple dinosaur or mumbling British puppets that they can't watch anything that might hurt their little dears' ears and eyes.

Quick Recap: When you buy a new television, it has what's called a "V Chip" in it, as required by law. Adding in this little bit of circuitry increased the price of your TV, but only slightly. By using your remote control, you can decide what programs can be watched on that TV, and which cannot, using the V Chip's ability to display, or not display, programming based on the parameters the user decides.

As it stands, the parents that are most likely to whine and moan about such things are also most likely to be the sort of people who buy new TVs. So, in theory, these models of "parenting" have the power, with a few clicks, to block out the entire FOX network, and protect their kids from certain damnation to hell.

Likewise, other parents can block out the entire Trinity Broadcasting Network, and protect their kids from certain damnation to hell. This would seem to be a good solution for everyone, since allows a household to decide what it would like to see for themselves, and no one else.

The problem is of course, after all the expense of developing such a system, no one uses it. I'm really not interested in hearing the bullshit excuses people offer when asked why they don't use the V Chip system. We would seem to have an idea response that's in place, and allows individuals to make their own decisions as to what to watch. Yet it's the people who demanded it in the first place who are now the ones not using it. Meanwhile intelligent, rational individuals have to pay the V Chip "tax" when they buy a TV. Thanks, guys!

When I think of all the hysterics that the Congress and our Defenders went through to ram this system through the regulatory process, the expense and hassle it created when it was established, only to see it go unused, it makes one's head spin.

Frankly, any so-called "parent" who whines about the state of the media today, and yet does not spend the 15 minutes it takes to set up their own household using the V Chip system, is an idiot. And their stupidity, as it gets passed down to their own precious offspring, is a far greater threat to civic, moral, and social fabric of the nation than anything on the FOX network.

© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

February 4, 2004

You Can Disagree and Still Think Someone Kicks Ass!

Hate to dilute my posting on Stargate SG-1 since I like it so much...but upon reading one of my favorite comic author's works online I had to publicize it because it was fun to read.

Peter Bagge has been one of my all-time favorite comic book artists. His work on "Neat Stuff" was no less than genius, and his focus in the 1990s on one of the characters from "Neat Stuff", Buddy Bradley, in his later series, "Hate", was witty and inciteful. If you want to read a great account of what Seattle was really like in the early 90s read his trade paperback "Buddy the Dreamer" ! He combines an intense drawing style with very well written stories.

Now, I'm one of those people who would like to see themselves as someone with unique opinions, and who does not fit in to the neat, BS categories our lovely corporate media try to put us all in to. So when I say I like what Peter has to say, I don't necessarily agree with him 100%.

That said, I shouldn't have to. Personal politics and opinions should not have to conform with corporate media notions of what we "should" believe 100% - they should be our own feelings and thoughts. There are natural convergences of all sorts, and when you let people talk outside the construct, you'd be shocked at how people can find common ground in the most unusual of circumstances.

Thus, when I read about his relevant observations on war protesters in 2002 I can't argue with them too much. Now, given the latest information we now have after the fact, it makes some of these points moot, but the cult-like, weirdo mentality we were dealing with was a problem & he still he does make some good points.

So what is mypoint? Simply this: people can have varied opinions that do not necessarily fit the media bullshit constructs we're led to believe we must take. Life does not exists in black and white but in shades of grey, and in those shades there are convergences that surprise even the most jaded of us. It's just unfortunate corporate/big government media doesn't want us to express those shades of grey but instead keep us in a world of red state/blue state, us vs. "them" and me vs. you.

I can be a lefty liberal guy and yet still hate the state for infringing on my rights. I can be someone who doesn't like fascism and corporatism, and yet still distrust statism as well. I can be someone who believes in a happy medium that says that our systems can be oriented towards the good of all, and yet still enrich those who work.

Problem with that is, of course, that the construct created to "discuss" issues is more about labels and pre-conceived attack and counter-attack. Anything that doesn't fit the construct is tossed aside. It's great for keeping real debate dead and fast-food punditry alive - and distract us from real issues.

Crazy talk? Sure it is. But only if you believe that one way is the right way, and that there's no room for all of us to get along.

And that is just what "they" would love you to think.

Note to my Halliburton Fans: Tell your bosses to give back the money they "accidentally" took. It's good for Halliburton's karma.

© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

Stargate SG-1 And New Friends From Houston....

As I've stated before, most of the science-fiction based entertainment out there these days is not very good. Thus, when I come across something that is truly interesting and unique, I feel a need to evangelize a little. Besides, when you see what passes for news these days, it's nice to find entertainment that has nothing to do with eating bugs, cow innards, or fat, weird guys terrorizing their phony fiancee's family.

When I first heard of the plans to create Stargate SG-1 as a direct-to-syndication/cable TV series, I was skeptical. The movie was fine, but how such a premise be made into a series? So, I skipped it, my avoidance made easier by the fact that this show was on cable and in the direct-to-syndication route, which made it almost impossible to find for the causal viewer such as myself.

I had no idea what I was missing, nor did I realize that a huge Stargate SG-1 fan movement was building both here and abroad. It was not until I joined Netflix and picked up the DVD of the first season did I give this a chance. Although my source on this was a trusted one, I was still skeptical. Even if the first DVD was good, most television (and in particular most sci-fi TV) tends to crap out after a few good episodes or seasons.

Then I put in the first DVD and watched the 2-hour pilot. Suddenly the skeptic was converted. I began to see why TV Guide put the SG-1 team on the cover with the tagline "Forget Trek! Stargate SG-1 is now sci-fi's biggest hit!"

Here was a program that had everything that the doomed Trek franchise could never have - non stop action, intelligent stories, and long-ranging plotlines that were used to advance the development of complex characters, and keep the series new and exciting. In other words, some people got together and read the "How to Make Programming That Doesn't Suck" textbook, and decided to create a series. Oddly enough, they've made a big pile money doing it too!

The premise is simple: A "Stargate" which can create artificial wormholes is discovered by the US military and exists hidden away in the Air Force's Cheyenne Mountain complex. The show focuses on the lead team assigned to investigate the new worlds and explore the galaxy by simply stepping through the gate and on to other worlds.

Richard Dean Anderson (of MacGuyver fame) plays Col. Jack O'Neill, who leads his team and the adventures ensue. Because many humans in the past were taken from Earth and enslaved by the Bad Aliens (Goa'ulds), the team encounters all sorts of humans with all sorts of unusual quirks. At least it explains why they mostly speak English.

Best of all, it's a program you don't have to be a total fan who's seen every single episode to enjoy. When I visited my dad in San Francisco during a business trip, he wanted to see my new PowerBook. Demonstrating the capabilities of the 12" PowerBook, I popped in a Stargate DVD to show him how it could play movies. We ended up watching an episode, and he really enjoyed it. It had both the action and a sense of humor we could both enjoy, but for our own reasons.

Now, my dad is not a dyed-in-a-wool sci-fi fan - he tends to enjoy more mainstream entertainment. But even though he didn't know the intimate details of what a Jaffa was, or the long-running conflicts of Goa'ulds, Tok'ras, and assorted running gags, the story was still entertaining for him and it was something we both enjoyed watching together.

Thus Stargate SG-1 was able to jump the high hurdle the disasters known as Enterprise, Star Trek: Voyager and countless other longwinded, heavy handed PC sci-fi crashed and burned on consistently over the years - it provided intelligent drama and action first, and kept the technobabble down to acceptable levels.

What I enjoy most about this show is its inherent unpredictability. As I've watched the many seasons out on DVD so far, I keep wondering if the show's hit a plateau, or if the innovation and excitement of the first seasons will begin to wane. It doesn't.

Unlike Star Trek, with its predictable "guy in a red shirt gets it when they go to the planet" routines, and constant re-telling of the same stories ("hey let's go back in time to 20th Century Earth!") over and over and over and over again...the writing team continues to maintain a consistency level of interest and twists that more accurately reflect what would happen if the US Military was investigating the Stargate system and defending Earth from all sorts of alien-induced mayhem.

The Stargate unit is not out of the reach of corrupt politicians and bureaucrats who would use their work for nefarious ends, and the team has to deal with the mayhem caused by cloak and dagger shenanigans on their end as well as around the galaxy.

It's one of many nice plotlines that probably reflect more accurately the pressures such a program and its officers would face in the "real" world. (Although I think if such a device did exist, we'd be contracting it out to Halliburton for that lucrative gasoline and taco supply line to Abydos, but I digress...)

Seriously, I urge people to check this program out. I've deliberately avoided talking too much about the specifics of the program or its many episodes so that folks will check 'em out and form their own opinion.

However I have found almost consistently that, like Battlestar Galactica, even people who aren't big sci-fi fans, but who do appreciate a well written and conceived piece of programming, have found it to be entertaining. Check it out - you may surprise yourself at how much you enjoy it!

Note to readers: I'd like to take this time to welcome our new fans from the Halliburton Corporation. Thanks for reading and be sure to tell your friends and coworkers about our three times a week updates! I'm sure you'll find it fun and amusing on your coffee breaks.

"How is it possible," you ask "that you know that Halliburton's reading your site?"

Simple really. Journalspace is kind enough to log IP Addresses for visitors to this site. For fun, I decided to enter a few at random to see what would come up.

Using a combination of IP2Location.com and ARIN I was able to track back this one little IP address, and here's what I found!

Search results for: 34.69-93-8.reverse.theplanet.com

OrgName: Halliburton Company

Address: 10200 Bellaire Blvd
City: Houston
StateProv: TX
PostalCode: 77072-5299
Country: US

NetRange: -
NetHandle: NET-34-0-0-0-1
NetType: Direct Assignment

OrgTechHandle: DNSAD52-ARIN
OrgTechPhone: +1-281-575-3000

OrgTechEmail: dnsadmin@halliburton.com

Thanks again for your support guys! We appreciate you checking out the site!

© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

February 2, 2004

Maybe MoveOn.org Shoulda Used a Farting Horse?

After watching some of the raunchiest (and least entertaining) ads ever aired on television, it was clear CBS was either lying when they gave their reasons for not running Moveon.org's ad, or truly believe they are the Guardian of Democracy, and that our impressionable little minds would have been scarred for life and caused severe public mayhem, had 30 seconds of a four hour spectacle be devoted to and ad politely pointing out the effects of federal spending out of control.

Thanks to CBS's firewall of decency and protection, the Republic was saved, and the CBS commitment to tasteful, "non threatening" advertising was in full force for the big game. True, within moments of the first quarter, we were entertained by an endless array of penis-related humor (including a dog biting a man in the crotch for Bud Lite) and penis-related medication, but that's ok. Who knew that so many options existed for male erectile issues - or so many cutesy metaphors to refer to them?

Perhaps MoveOn.org should go into the brewing business, come out with a beer brand and use some farting horses in a new ad to get some exposure. Or perhaps they could buy the naming rights to Viagra II or some other male enhancement drugs, and bypass the media firewall that way?

Breathe easy folks. Amidst a rain of advertising, that one little thirty second ad raising questions about a federal budget with more red ink than a Red Army recruitment poster wasn't shown. The fragile minds of the "mob" were spared this horror.

FCC Chairman Mike "My Dad Went To DC And All I Got Was This Job" Powell saw no problem with public airwaves being used to sell beer, penis medications, or endless potty humor, nor did he see a problem with public airwaves being denied to a group who wanted to raise some issues regarding out-of-control government spending - but you can bet someone's gonna hang once they get to the bottom of "Breastgate."

Writing a column like this and adding to the pile of "Why did they do that when they air blah blah blah" is almost superfluous at this point - I'm sure if someone did a Lexis Nexis search of ideological moral outrage filed in the press and online, they would find a plethora of similar columns. So why add to the pile?

It's an issue bigger than one ad - we're beginning to see the effects of the centralized control of our media by the corporations that fund federal elections and want to exorcise all public interest out of governing and our daily lives.

I've never bought into the idea that the media has a "right/left" bias - but it is not hard to see it does have a narrow bias geared towards making more money for themselves, and the truth be damned.

The fact that it does tend to lean rightward on some issues is not as much about the ideology of their owners but about the convenient convergence of conservative interests (at least today) and narrow business interests which tend to be at odd with those of small business and individual needs. (Maybe in the case of Rupert Murdoch there's an exception to this rule, but the jury's still out on that one for me.)

Thus, it's no accident that Howard Dean took an avalanche of negative press concluding with the silly "news coverage" of Dean's Iowa "scream" - something the press wizards have belatedly admit was foolish - and wrong. It's also no accident that Sen. John Kerry, who was able to save his faltering bid with a pile of his own money, is now "the sensible choice" to rally around, and the one least likely to upset the status quo if elected in 2004.

True, the media is not responsible for Howard Dean's dumb campaign decisions, nor are they responsible for Kerry's ability to get a loan at prime rate to save his campaign. They are responsible for covering issues, and bringing up difficult questions all candidates, and the President, need to answer - and they simply do not, opting instead to do what makes for a good "story" with cutesy, smart-ass commentary, all of which ultimately benefits their bosses - and no one else.

Thus, when even the last resort - buying time at market rate to get some issues discussed - is denied by networks operating over public airwaves - it's time to take action.

For myself, I'll back anyone who can convince me they'd go to Washington, kick ass and take names at the FCC. Even if they don't succeed, it sure would be fun to see the suits sweat if a President, who didn't owe them anything, got into power, even if it was for just a few short years.

Now that's a story with some real drama - and would make for an interesting read in the papers once in a while.

© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

January 28, 2004

Early Column : CBS Silliness and the Marketplace of Ideas

CBS, in its infinite silliness, apparently won't let some folks run some ads during the SuperBowl. Now, if the airwaves they've used for the last 60 years weren't public, I'd have no problem with it, nor would I if they were a cable-only network.

Unfortnately for CBS, they have a license to use public airwaves, owned by the people. They don't own the airwaves themselves. The idea is they license to use them, provided they at least have some semblance of public service once in a while (i.e. emergency alerts, etc.).

Thus when they refuse one kind of people's ads and not another's, it's not only bad for freedom - it's bad business. In an era when broadcast television networks are losing market share and have a fraction of the audience they had 20 years ago, why would they be refusing the money of people who, for whatever reason, want to buy time on their network?

To suggest that the ad from Moveon.org is "too controversial" is laughable. What's not laughable is the Big Three's consistent refusal to allowing any television issue advertising on budget issues that they deem "upsetting." This, from people who put on enough bug, cow-testicle, and animal-gut eating on reality tv to upset even the hardiest of souls.

Let's take a ride in the Wayback Machine and take another look - same circumstances, same issue, different group putting on the ads:

In 1986, the W.R. Grace Company, in no way shape or form remotely "leftist," hired Ridley Scott to produce a very simliar ad in terms of subject, but one far more "edgy" than MoveOn's compartively quiet ad.

Set in 2017, it featured children prosecuting people of the 1980s in "The Deficit Trials", condemning them for their irresponsibilty. This ad ran on independent television in the 1980s, but the Big Three refused. "Too controversial," they said.

It created a ruckus in the 1980s, and there were charges of "liberal media cabal" bandied about. Obviously, even the Moveon.org people forgot about this ad, which is surprising. Maybe I'm one of the few people that even remember it at all - still a testament to its memorability.

You think MoveOn.org might at least try enlist the support of anti-deficit conservatives on this issue - or at least make mention of W.R. Grace's experiences in the late 80s. Read about it here at Time Magazine for some more information, and a synopsis of the ad itself.

Funny how free-speech people on some sides are silent this time on this issue that weren't last time. I'm not hearing the "liberal media cabal" charges either. I can't imagine why.

Personally I think everyone who has the money should be able to buy ads at the rate the networks over-charge - cranks of all sides, products of all kinds, and let people tune 'em out with TiVO and VCRs and the ever-trusty mute button on the remote.

That's the neat thing about freedom and a truly free market of ideas - if you don't like it , you can always turn it off, or turn on something you like. The republic is not scarred if a few goofy ads get on once in a great while.

I guess free markets are a new concept over at the corporate-owned networks. Perhaps they're concerned that in a truly free market, they might not stack up? Perish the thought.

© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

January 21, 2004

Adama in 2004?

Being one of those science fiction fans who has a discerning palate when it comes to entertainment, I find that when I hear of the Next Big Thing to come to sci-fi entertainment I'm almost always disappointed. Most movies and television made by the mega-corps are not very good and some are just plain awful.

If you've ever had to endure a long-winded, poorly written and directed episode of Star Trek: Voyager, the inimitably bad Star Wars: Episode I or the goofball adaptation of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen you deserve a medal for enduring the sheer mental pain such bad entertainment can inflict on the thinking, reasoning mind.

It's unfortunate that most TV and movie sci-fi is so bad, because good sci-fi can explore ideas and concepts that a story based in the world of today or the past can't. While some can't get past the inherent goofiness of robots, clones, big space ships, etc. and see a good story, most people can - but only if there's something there to see in the first place.

However, most writers these days seem to feel that the only way to make their work "meaningful" is to have longwinded soliloquies and lots of "grokking and talking" (think Star Trek here) to give their work some much needed gravitas.

Instead they succeed in putting the audience to sleep, and turn off thinking people from whatever it is they are trying to say, which usually is some ham-handed morality tale of good vs. evil, or spewing some tired old BS about how we can all "get along" if we'd just all get cyber-PC implants or something. Woo hoo.

Thus, when an attempt is made to resurrect or re-conceive some of the older stories into something new, the reaction by the public can be one of knee-jerk rejection. This is unfortunate since there have been some well-written, directed and acted dramas of late that can provide great entertainment and intelligent drama. Stargate SG-1 is just one example of a fun, intelligent, worthwhile  piece of entertainment, now available on DVD.

I've noticed, though  that when I talk about a particular new offering by the Sci-Fi channel, the moment I say the name of the program, the assorted groans tend to drown out anything else I say. What am I talking about?

Battlestar Galactica.

Yes, I am serious. No I'm not inhaling glue or smoking crack here.

There is no denying the original 1978 TV series, replete with bad 70's hairdos, ham-handed Mormon morality tales, and some of the goofiest plots put on television was BAD only exceed by the even-worse . Galactica: 1980,which if you don't remember, consider yourself lucky and count the brain cells you saved by avoiding such dreck.

We really need someone to burn all evidence of this and every other bad TV program so that future generations won't think we were a society of cretins (but that's a whole column for another day!)

Unlike my geek bretheren who wax poetically about the nostalgia and greatness of the old series, I'm not afraid to call this one for what it was - crap TV. Sure I watched it when I was a kid, but as an adult, I can now see why my parents weren't too thrilled to have to watch this with me on Sunday nights. Thanks for your patience, parental units!

Thus, when the Sci-Fi channel announced it was commissioning a four-hour miniseries remake, I figured that a coup had been staged and the Geek Bretheren who worship at the altar of Galactica were going to make a dreadful remake of a bad show. A colleague of mine TiVO'd it and invited me to watch and I reluctantly let myself watch an hour, and figured it would be worth the laugh, and I'd go home.

Four hours later, I realized I was wrong. Here was a drama that had it all: a real script, obviously written and edited by people who figured out that good writing for television stands on it own, replacing lots of talk explaining what's happening with well-written action and dialogue that tells you what is going on without the BS.

It moved fast, always introducing something new, while building a bigger story out of its many pieces.  The program featured a cast that could actually act, led by Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell who, with their fellow cast of young and talented actors, provided excellent performances al around.  Best of all, it communicated a story, a simple one really about what it would be like to go through the end of the world (or in this case the end of 12 worlds).

If you missed this, catch it on DVD when it comes out later this year. I won't spoil too much of the plot, but will say that many people I know who don't even like sci-fi enjoyed this film. Essentially, humans living in a group of 12 planets created cybernetic "Cylons" to work for them, doing their toughest jobs.

The Cylons, unhappy perhaps with the lack of a health-care plan or whatever, rose up against their human masters and a 40 year war ensued. The plot picks up after the war has been over for some time and everyone's at peace - but no one has seen their enemy for ages. The enemy Cylons return, and their mission is simple - eliminate their former masters from existence. No negotiations or speeches - just a good old fashioned total nuclear decimation and the chaos that ensues.

Battlestar Galactica was not a safe, happy movie, with a panacea of "PC" plotlines and safe, happy-face endings. It was a film where the horrors of war and survival were shown for what they were - taking the world of these people settled in 12 planets far away in space as a "reality" for the moment, it told a story about how people - not 2D cutout charters - would react in a situation as horrific as a total destruction of civilization and the will to survive, and the hard choices such survival entails.

Commander Adama, played by Edward James Olmos, was one of the best characters in the series, portraying a career military man on his way towards retirement, with some regrets in life, who takes it upon himself to lead when all around him is going to hell. Confronted with the enemy in hand to hand combat, he does not do some wire-assisted kicks and leaps - he fights in a brutal, bloody, and truly nasty fight that ends with the enemy Cylon a bloody, torn up mess.

This is not "Ben Cartwright in Space" - this is a realistic portrayal of what a career military officer, thrust into such situations, would actually do. And when faced with the reality he has to be more than a military leader, but a true leader of his people, he rises to the challenge, not with the ease of a Trekkie, but with all the trepidations a real person would have.

Mary McDonnell, as the politician 43rd in line of succession to what's left of the civilian government, did an excellent job as someone who never thought they'd have to lead anything - and end up having to lead their people at the worst possible time (i.e. a total annihilation) and surprises everyone with her ability to find within herself the ability to keep it together and lead when people need it most.

I won't go into too many more details (as I hate it when previews and reviewers spoil things for the viewing public), except to say that pilot "Starbuck", this time played by a woman, was an interesting update of the old show - and it was nice to see they cast an actress who looked like an in-shape soldier who could throw a mean punch if she needed to (and does, decking a corrupt officer at a card game) and not some Typical Hollywood Waif. (can we really imagine a Lara Flynn Boyle type kicking the crap out of aliens?)

The cinema-verite style filming also gave the program a "you are there" feel - as if you're with the embedded journalists covering the war, not spectators at a Lucas/Spielberg "epic" and the absence of a loud, John Williams-like soundtrack made the scenes that much more intense.

So it's worth a look. Push aside your pre-conceived notions of how bad most of this stuff is, and give it an hour. You may find yourself surprised when four hours pass and you've not moved from your seat.

Besides, after listening to the day's news, it's nice to sit back and watch something that has nothing to do with Iraq, President Bush, the latest attack on Howard Dean, the bogus-ness of John Kerry's loans, or the inherent screwed up nature of corporate rule. Life's too short to waste it watching CNN and FOX News all day.

And, they can say "frak" all they want and the censors can't do diddly about it.

PS: At this point, I am beginning to wonder if the only guy that at the very least can keep 2004 from becoming a Stalinist landslide for Bush is Gen. Wes Clark who has some credibility on matters that career politicians do not. Besides, he's the only one who comes close to being our nation's version of Commander Adama.

August 31, 2003

Three Cheers for Mr. Shaw

I don't consider myself to be an expert on raising children, but it does not take a Dr. Spock to look around and realize that most kids these days tend to be a royal pain in the ass.

Ironically while do-gooder liberals and do-gooder conservatives debate, label, and obsessively bureaucratize, order, and provide contradictory directives to poor people and non-white people, it's their kids that are the ones causing the most damage.

Remember: Columbine High is in a very serene, plain white suburb, not in the inner city. In fact just about every case of a kid gone nuts and shooting people up with a gun has happened in a safe, suburban school - not in the inner-city.

There's all sorts of culprits - you can pick one depending on your ideological bent: TV (too permissive), TV (not permissive enough), schools, home schools, right wing politicians, left wing politicians, internet porn, "those" people (pick any ethnic group you don't like), cell phone usage, whatever.

People are quick to pick any one of these, or more, and of course petition the government to legislate laws based on their own sense of what's right and wrong. And lest you think it's just the liberals who legislate behavior, keep in mind that hard core right-wing politicians are just as bad at whining to the government to solve their beefs with society JUST like the liberals.

Problem is, parents are unable or incapable of realizing just whose fault it is if their kids are out of control - it's THEIRS. The kids didn't petition to be born - the parents made a decision (how they did is irrelevant) to have kids - and now have a responsiblility to raise them. It's not the government's job to raise their kids for them - either by proxy in the schools or by govenrnment run day care centers, or restrictive laws on television programming (Did you hear this Mr. Lieberman?)

If people are too stupid or too irresponsible to raise their kids right they should let the kids live with people who WILL raise them. It's ironic that when I talk about this they think I'm talking about taking poor kids away from their parents, but in fact in my own personal experience I think its the children of over-indulgent baby boomers in desperate need of an intervention of some sort. By whom? I have no idea. God, Jesus , Buddha, whatever.

Robert Shaw has a new book sure to piss off liberals and conservatives alike but after reading it today I think it's a breath of fresh air. Check it out at the SF Gate sight. And let's just hope that little Zutroy and Hortense in suburbia get their act together before it's too late -for all of us.

Heresy or Why the Greatest Generation's Grandkids are a Pain in the Ass

© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

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