Category Archives: Television

twenty-one to twenty-three: seventy-two hours of hawesome

This weekend started out on an exceptionally high note: on my way to Dodger Stadium to meet my parents for the Arizona game, I got a call from my manager: one of the producers from Teen Titans is now working on Legion of Superheroes, and wanted to cast me for a part on the new show. I don’t know any details, yet, like if it’s a one-time voice, or a recurring character or what, but I’m working on Friday! Go me!

The Dodger game was superexcellent. Not only did I get to spend an evening with my wife and my parents, but it was a great game that the Dodgers actually managed to hold on and win. Go Dodgers!

Saturday, I bought some new shoes and a new belt  (trust me, this is very exciting) before Anne and I met our friends at Dave and Busters and goofed off for hours. I am the master of coin-flipping soccer, and I have over 20,000 tickets and nothing worth redeeming. Go me (but really go Dave and Busters for making a game that I love to play with no tangible reward . . . yet.)

Sunday, I started the day with some marathon training, but I only got one mile done before I got the goddamn pain in my right side that keeps ruining me. Maybe someone knows what the hell is going on: occasionally, I’ll go out for a jog, and after about two blocks, this tightness starts in my right hip that spreads up my stomach and eventually into my ribs on my right side. Once it starts, it takes about one minute to take over the right side of my body and hurts so severely I can’t even take a deep breath, much less keep running. I always end up just turning around and walking home, because I’ve learned that I can’t even walk it out, because it’s much more (and worse) than a simple stitch in my side; it’s more of a crippling muscle freak out. The worst thing is that I get pissed because my cardio system is fine, the rest of my body feels fine, but I absolutely can’t even jog a half a block. What the hell? I’m only 33 years old, and I can’t even run a block? Why can’t my fucking body just work?! Can you tell that I’m getting pissed just thinking about it?

Anyway, after that unfortunately aborted attempt to get out and exercise, I came home and played some poker online. I played a one table sit-n-go tournament (where you just wait for 9 players to sit down and you go, hence the name.) I got knocked out with my pocket kings vs. ace queen when he caught an ace on the river to bust me. I wasn’t upset, though, because I made the right decision on the play, and he just got lucky. I’ve noticed that when I play at limits I can really afford and I just focus on being decision (rather than result) oriented, I always have a good time and I’m much happier playing, whether I win or lose.

I was talking about this revelation with my friends CJ and Alan, when CJ talked me into playing a three table (27 player) sit-n-go. I had some time to kill while I waited for Anne and Ryan to get home, and Nolan was asleep on the couch (so no guitar hero) so I signed up and played my little heart out.

Dude, I totally won! It only cost $11 to enter, and I won $100 for first place! I was extremely happy with all the decisions I made, including when I made a four-card diamond flush with AT to suckout on a guy who had AA, then fell on the other side of that hand when I was heads-up at the end, with JJ vs something totally lame like T3 suited and he caught a diamond on the end to make his flush. Go me again again!

Anne and Ryan got home right after I finished that tourney, and she wanted to take a nap (yeah, I have a real nap-happy family) so Ryan and I went over to the movie theatre to watch Silent Hill.

I’ve played about 40% of Silent Hill 2, but I didn’t have any expectations for the film, really, and mostly went because Ryan really wanted to see it (he can’t see R-rated films on his own for another four months. Excuse me while I process that reality and have a minor heart attack.)

I really, really liked it. It looks very creepy and spooky (just like the game) and the visual effects are really fantastic. The monsters (especially Red Pyramid and all the bugs) are terrifying, the music is great, the casting is perfect, and though the whole thing requires a some suspension of disbelief, the story is quite solid. In fact, about halfway through the movie, I thought to myself, "Man, this is really quite deep for a horror movie. I wonder why?" When the credits rolled and I saw that it had been written by Roger Avary, I totally understood. Go Roger.

After the movie, we came home and the entire family settled in for some Simpsons (fairly funny, but the over-reliance on musical montages this season is really getting on my nerves) Family Guy (more Stewie-as-gymnast, please) and American Dad (I don’t know how they made an entire episode about anal probing hilarious, but they did) before the rest of my family went to sleep, leaving me to read Cell in alone in the living room where the zombies can totally get me. I eventually watched Survivorman (my new favorite show on cable television) before drifting off to sleep, blissfully content at the end of a fun-filled weekend.

lost

Lost
I just realized that, last night, I front-paged a really huge Lost spoiler. I forgot that lots of non-US viewers read my blog, and I wanted to apologize for that. That sucked, and I’m sorry.

I’ve spent the last 10 days catching up on the entire series, first on DVD and then through iTMS. I have never been so enthralled with a series in my life, not even when I first watched The Prisoner in my teens.

I think it’s so cool that there are things like iTMS (and, uh, other ways which I don’t personally use) to experience an entire series like this. By making their shows easy for me to watch, the producers of Lost have earned a huge fanboy who will now buy merchandise and listen to their podcast, and evangelize on his lame blog about how great their show is.

If you like any of the things that I like, and you’re not watching Lost, you absolutely must. Right now. When you think you’re going to watch American Idol, or Bones, or Medium, or re-runs of that awesome space show with the kid in the sassy grey spacesuit, or anything else at all on television, don’t. Just get yourself the first season on DVD, and spend your allocated television time watching Lost instead. Then find some way to watch the second season (iTMS worked great for me) and keep going. I guarantee you will not be disappointed. It is quite possibly the best drama in the history of network television, ever, and I don’t say that lightly.

parked under the sunsphere

The kids are on Spring Break this week. Anne and Ryan are up in HellaNorCal, checking out colleges, and Nolan and I are hanging out with the dogs until they get back.

It’s been a really fun week so far: lots of Magic: The Gathering, Brawl tournaments, The Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles on TV, and walks with the dogs around the neighborhood when it isn’t raining.

I’ve also introduced him to Lost, and I have the feeling that he’ll run through Season One on DVD in five days, just like I did. Hopefully, he won’t become as hopelessly just-jam-it-into-my-veins addicted to the show as I am (I’m only up to Episode 4 of Season Two, so if you’re going to comment, please don’t post any spoilers, okay? I reserve a special type of wrath for that sort of thing) but I managed to hook him on Battlestar Galactica this way, and I apologize for nothing. Nothing!!1one!

Sorry. I got a little carried away there.

So.

I’ve always felt that, as a parent, my job (and greatest hope) is to help my kids grow into the kind of adult that I’d be proud of, and I’d like to spend time with, even if we weren’t family: honest, honorable, generous, compassionate, and responsible. Sometimes, as part of the whole Pod People experience, I feel like those efforts are failing. Add the bonus of the really great and neverending loyalty conflict game (that I refuse to play, but have to deal with, anyway,) and it’s easy to wonder if any of the work will ever pay off. It’s been easy to lose hope.

But over the last couple of months, I’ve come to believe that the Pods were actually Chrysalises, because it feels like both Ryan and Nolan have emerged as young adults whose company I really enjoy (and I believe the feeling is mutual.) The moments of irrationality are still there, and I’m sure that I am still so lame from time to time, but I have lots and lots of hope.

If you’re a parent dealing with a Pod Person, don’t give up. One day, you may wake to discover that your Pod Person has vanished as quickly as it arrived, leaving behind an honest, honorable, generous, compassionate, and responsible young adult.

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i find it hard to tell you, because i find it hard to take

Le_barre
L
ast night I watched an amazing episode of TNG called Family.

It is a truly wonderful episode that focuses on the human element of Star Trek. It is very dark and very heavy. It deals with the consequences of some very serious events from earlier in the series: Picard’s assimilation by the Borg and subsequent stint as Locutus, Worf facing his parents for the first time since his discommendation in Sins of the Father, and Wesley’s first face-to-face meeting with his father, Jack Crusher, via a holographic message which Jack made for him when Wesley was born.

It is a fantastic opportunity for the Patrick, Michael and me to take a brilliant script, filled with wonderful dialogue and complex relationships, and show the world what we can do as actors.

Partick and Michael are brilliant. They make the very most of every single scene, especially when Michael deals with the conflict between Worf’s need to
suffer for his discommendation with his obvious love for his parents,
and when Patrick finally lets Picard’s fall completely
apart as he acknowledges how helpless he felt at Wolf-359 and deals with its aftermath. It is a Ron Moore script that previews the depth and pathos that I have come to love on Battlestar Galactica, and they are absolutely outstanding in it.

And me? Ron gave me a chance to really shine, to explore some complex emotion and take Wesley beyond the two-dimensional caricature I often complained he’d become. I finally had a chance to explore and perform a human side of Wesley as he sees the face of his father and hears his voice for the first time in his life. I finally had a chance to really do something after years of saying "Aye, sir, warp six, sir" . . . and I fucking phoned it in. I sat there and I made all my stupid little faces and acted like I cared, but It’s painfully clear that I was halfway out the door. I totally and completely blew it. I was ashamed as I watched my eighteen year-old self last night, and rather disgusted by the time my scenes were over.

I looked extremely tanned, so the episode was probably shot in summer, and I’m sure I would have rather been at the beach with my friends instead of wearing a spacesuit on stage nine, but it’s no excuse. I was expected to be professional and do my job, and instead I was a bullshit hack who didn’t show up for work. I suppose the director could have knocked me into shape, but who knows what was going on at the time for him? And who knows if I would have even listened to him? After all, I was eighteen and I knew everything. I had the whole world figured out.

There were so many opportunities in that scene: opportunities to look at him and try to see myself in his eyes or hear myself in his voice; opportunities to make a rare emotional connection with a scene that didn’t involve a lot of techno babble and opportunities to just be simple and honest and truthful. As an actor, I should have thought about all the things we never got to do together, I should have done everything I could to stretch the moment out as long as possible, so the audience is left thinking that Wesley is going to sit in that holodeck and sob and miss his dad and watch that thing over and over for the next several hours. At the very least, I certainly should have allowed myself to feel the resulting sense of loss, but as a fucking douchebag teenager I didn’t feel anything. I’m pretty sure I walked into stage nine completely full of myself, and didn’t stop checking my watch until I was done with the scene.

Jesus, what a pathetic waste. What a complete and total fucking waste. On that day, I didn’t deserve to wear that uniform, and I certainly didn’t earn the right to call myself an actor.

It is such a great episode, and I’m so ashamed and disappointed that I didn’t realize it at the time. 

Ron, if you happen to read this: I am so sorry. When I saw you at Grand Slam, I thanked you for all the gifts you gave
me over the years; I’d forgotten about this one (probably because I
didn’t appreciate it at the time, in all my teenage arrogance and I am so sorry that I disrespected your work and didn’t honor the gift you gave me. Your work deserved better, and I was too much of an idiot to live up to the material. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to create something so wonderful, only to watch it destroyed by an arrogant and entitled teenager. I am so, so sorry.

I have learned much since I was eighteen. In fact, I became aware of what a douche I was about a year after I filmed this episode, and realized that I need to get the hell out of Hollywood and find out who I really was and who I wanted to be. I spent the next three years working all that shit out, looking at myself in the mirror every day until I could truly say that I liked the person I saw reflected back.

These days, I don’t take anything for granted, and I always do my very best to rise to the challenge of the material I’m lucky enough to be given. I wouldn’t change anything about my life, because the person I am today grew out of the person I once was . . . but I’d sure like a chance to take that wonderful material and do it justice.

Hopefully, I’ll get to watch an episode tonight that I can feel proud of.

(image from Memory Apha)

Afterthought – I put a version of this in comments, but here it is for the rest of all y’all (or is it all y’alls? all of y’alls?): It is important to me to examine and reflect on my life, whether it’s something I’m fiercely proud of, like my performance in Best of Both Worlds I & II, or something I’m not proud of, like the things I’ve written about here.

When Family was over last night, I had a visceral feeling of shame and regret as strong as the feeling of terror I had writing about my first day of high school yesterday. It’s lived in me all day, so I finally decided to write about it tonight.

I don’t intend for this to become some sort of big pity party for me or
anything, and by writing this, I don’t feel that I’m sitting in a funk,
dwelling on the past, wasting he present (I’ve done lots of that in the last few years, and I think I’ve hung on that cross enough, thank you.)

I absolutely love who I am today, both as a creative writer/actor and as a person. When everything is stripped away and I am left with nothing but my naked soul, I am very comfortable with what I have. I wouldn’t have that if I didn’t reflect on all the peaks and valleys of my life, including moments like these.

Now that I think of it, if I didn’t have such respect for Ron Moore, and if I hadn’t just seen him two weeks ago, I may not have had such a profoundly powerful reaction to my performance (or lack thereof) in his episode.

Anyway, if I didn’t tear down the wall from time to time, I’d just sit here and wait for the worms to come, and nobody wants that. Trust me.

state of the exile

The day I got the WWdN database fixed, and had all the old WWdN entries rescued and readable was the day I found the path out of Exile.

Now that I know there are two ways out of this prison (in a pine box, or through that large opening over there that we all like to think of as "off limits, as a favor to me,") it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me to stay here.

Which brings me back to the Typepad vs. MT w/plugins issue. I spent a lot of time thinking about what I like about Typepad, that MT 3.2 doesn’t have out of the box, and I came up with three things: Typepad has a great WYSIWYG editor, it easily and seamlessly handles uploading images and enclosures, like the RFB files, and all those little things on the right side are so easy to add and remove and update, I can’t believe I ever did any hand-coding of tables and filled them with php includes (which I also had to create and edit by hand.)

But I miss WWdN, and all its lameness and non-W3C-compliance. I miss its out of date FAQ and musical suggestions. I miss its clunky archives and the sense that, even though it’s a shitty house, it’s my house, goddammit.

Redesigning issues aside, can I move back to WWdN and still have as much control as I have right now? And most important: will it be easy?

I’ve been playing around with three different editors that all have WYSIWYG editing, and various other features:

  • Flock, which is a browser that is built on top of Firefox with integrated blogging tools.
  • Performancing, which is a Firefox extension that puts a WYSISYG editor into your browser.
  • ecto, which is an editor and publishing tool that lets you compose and edit entries outside of your browser.

Flock is pretty cool. It’s got a nice editor, and I especially like how it seamlessly integrates Flickr images and del.icio.us bookmarks into your blogging experience. It integrates lots of tools and appears geared toward blogging and anything which involves a tag. If I was all about that sort of thing, I’d be really into flock, but since I’m not, I can’t see myself using it.

Performancing is also really nice. I love that it easily inserts technorati tags and adds del.icio.us bookmarks whenever you update one of your blogs, (if you want it to), and I love that it lets you see a ton of information on the page you’re viewing. It’s a free Firefox extension, and free is good.

But I think ecto is the way to go for me. It does all of the things that the other two do, and adds in too many features for me to list here. I was introduced to ecto when Xeni told me she uses it to update boingboing, and even though I have to buy a license for it, if it’s good enough for boingboing, it’s totally good enough for me.

Last night, while I was goofing off with ecto, I ended up quasi-live-blogging part of an episode of TNG:

I’m watching one of my favorite (and most heartbreaking) episodes of TNG, The Offspring. It’s one of the best episodes we ever did, and it nearly reaches  –

UGH!
There I am in the ugly grey space suit on Stage 9. I’m not acting very
well right here, even though the scene is really about the Admiral.
Nice package on Wesley, though. Eww. Gross.

Gods. Data
has to say good bye to Lal now. This always makes me cry a little bit.
Lal says, "I love you, father," and Data just looks at her and says, "I
wish I could feel it, too."

It’s such a testament to the writing
in this episode (and the actors in the scene) that Data didn’t end up
doing a cheesy "I love you too," thing. It’s so true to his character
that he remains emotionally unattached, because Data doesn’t have
emotions. (I always thought it was an insanely stupid fucking move to
give Data his emotion chip, like giving Geordi sight. Weak.)

Heh.
I just said, "Course is set, sir." See? That’s why I hated working on
TNG in those days. Even though the episode is great, just saying those
stupid lines bored me to. fucking. death.

Now G4 is running an
ad for Star Trek 2.0, which I think is going to be the dumbest thing to
happen to the original series in 40 years. And now, it’s time for
Futurama on [adult swim].

So I have three things left to do before I can return to WWdN (in this order):

  1. Find an editor that I like, that’s easy to use and reliable. I’m pretty sure I’ve done that.
  2. Figure out a way to easily update modular content for the non-blog areas of the site. This feels like it should be fairly easy, but I haven’t put all that much time into reading the MT forums or digging through the plug-ins. I suspect the answer is to use MT-Includes that are files linked to various MT Templates. Alternatively, I can figure out some sort of web-based php backend that will let me update all that information without having to go into an html editor offline, and ftp the damn thing whenever I want to make a chance. And don’t even talk to me about ssh-ing into the server and using vi from a shell prompt. Those days are long behind me. This is, I think, the stickiest widget.
  3. Complete the re-design. We’re working on this, and once we figure out a couple more things, it will go live very quickly.

 

there are many copies

Cylon
I
have an audition this afternoon to host a Sci-Fi show, and one of the things they’re asking us to do is conduct a mock interview with Edward James Olmos.

If I book this show, I’ll solicit questions from WWdN readers for the interesting guests whenever I can, so, without revealing any spoilers (I’m only on episode 5 of season 2.0),
if you could ask him anything about Battlestar Galactica, what would it be?

To be clear: I’m not actually going to talk with him. It will probably be a casting assistant, but they will want to see that I understand my subject, know how to move an interview along and react to the subject’s natural ebb and flow, and make with the occasional funny. I’m also pretty sure that I’m in a very unique position, with the ability to connect with WWdN readers and take a consensus question (does that make sense?) back to the interviews.

I think I’ll ask him the most controversial question I can come up with: Is Deckard a Replicant?

He won’t answer, but then again, who does?

Update: Thanks for your questions and discussion. For me, personally, I want to know about the father aspects of Adama and find out if it’s intentional that that thread of nurturing and inspiration runs through all of the great characters he’s played over the years (I suspect it is.) I also want to know how he’s dealing with being the new Picard/Kirk/Sisko/Malcolm character, and if he would speak at conventions, and get involved in all that fandom stuff that we all love so much.

I think I’ll present the WWdN consensus as: "Do you feel vindicated that your BSG is widely seen as the best SF series ever, especially since you advised original series fans (who were highly critical before the miniseries even aired) not to watch? Does it feel as cool to be a part of this as we all think it is?" I’ll mix in some comments about how there are TNG parallels, and then I’ll ask him if he’d like to grab a Flaming Moe after he show.

Well, I’m off now, so wish me broken legs!

jon stewart pwns larry king

Kingstewart
In case you missed Jon Stewart on Larry King the other night, Crooks & Liars has video and a partial transcript (but you really need to see or hear it, because a lot of the way Jon Stewart talks is lost in the literal written tranlsation.) Larry King made several feeble attempts to create controversy, and Jon Stewart kicked him square in the nuts each time. Witness this exchange:

KING: You don’t want Medicare to fail?

STEWART: Are you insane?

KING: No.

STEWART: You’re literally asking me if I would prefer
– yes, Larry, what I’m saying to you as a comedian I want old people
to suffer, old and poor people to suffer. That is — that is — what we
want is — what seems absurd to me is the length that Washington just
seems out of touch with the desires of Americans to be spoken to as
though they are adults.

Nice try, Larry; too bad Jon didn’t go for it. Maybe you can team up with Nancy Grace for a two hour Aruba Special to get back on familiar, more comfortable ground.

That question was just one of several "gotcha" attempts which failed
spectacularly when Jon refused to take the bait, and instead turned the
ludicrous question back on Larry King, who of course had no response other than this painful frozen half-smile that was equal parts fear and lothing. When Larry King wasn’t completely controlling the tone and content of the show, you could feel how uncomfortable he was. Jon Stewart was so funny, and so quick-witted, and so smart and so insightful, if Larry King wasn’t trying so hard to create controversy where there was none, you’d almost feel bad that he wasn’t able to keep up.

Walter!

Walter

While channel surfing, I just discovered that my episode of CSI, Compulsion, is about to start on the West Coast.

So if you’d like to see me and my sweater, put on your local CBS station, and enjoy!

Afterthought: I’m having a really shitty day, which included an absolutely terrible audition (my fault, not theirs), and accidentally discovering that this is on has brightened my spirits just a little bit. I’m real proud of the work I did on CSI, and it’s nice to remember how good it felt to earn the part, work on the show, and watch the episode when it first aired.

"Finders keepers!"

America, Young Chuck Norris Stands As One

On SNL this weekend, there was a short from The Lonely Island called Young Chuck Norris. It was remarkably funny, and it was also remarkably similar to my former Star Trek co-worker Dennis Madalone’s video called America We Stand As One. In fact, it’s a little too similar. When I was done laughing, I wondered, "Did they just rip Dennis off?"

Maybe I was just touchy, and still reeling from those Apple commercials that were, uh, "inspired" by The Postal Service and sent shockwaves of indifference across the Internets  . . .  until a friend of mine pointed out the following creepy similarities between YCN and AWSAO (Don’t be afraid of needless acronyms. Acronymns are your friend, man. AAYF):

- bluejeans
- patriotic shirt
- completely rockin' attitude
- brown jacket
- spending time with children for no reason
- rock climbing
- long flaxen hair on his head
- long flaxen hair as his mantra
- awesome knee bandana
- beach-side action
- american flag scarf

That’s an awful lot of similarities. It’s almost too many to be coincidental. Now, there’s a very fine line between parody and stealing, and as a sketch comedy writer I walk it myself. When I do a parody sketch, I always make sure the audience knows what the source material is, but it’s (hopefully) funny because of the original writing. I thought that Young Chuck Norris was funny because of all the images and themes, and those images and themes are straight out of Dennis’ video. Is it a parody, silently giving a nod to America We Stand As One? Or is it a moderately funny idea taken to the heights of hilarity with the addition of some long flaxen hair, an awesome knee bandana, and a completely rockin’ attitude?

It certainly wouldn’t be the first time someone’s done a parody of
Dennis’ well-meaning but unintentionally hilarious song and video, and I want to believe that The Lonely Island is doing a level seven parody, instead of a level two rip off job, because they are producing some of the funniest stuff that’s been on SNL in years, (without The Lonely Island, we’d never know that Mr. Pibb + Red Vines = Crazy Delicious, for example, and I think our lives would all be a little less awesome) and they’re an incredibly talented group of writers and performers who have embraced Creative Commons, and didn’t get discouraged when those luddites at Fox didn’t understand how awesome it was in Awesometown. In fact, I bet those Philistines at Fox have never had Mr. Pibb or Red Vines. Jerks.

But if they were, uh, "inspired" by Dennis’ totally rockin’ attitude and patriotic shirt, I think they should give him some credit. Because I heard that Dennis owns some Chuck Norris pajamas, sleeps with a night light, and has a roundhouse kick that is second only to a Chuck Norris Roundhouse kick, but comes with an awesome knee bandana and a completely rockin’ attitude.