Category Archives: Television

catching up, part one

I’ve been too busy to write about some cool things that I’ve experienced, recently. I’m taking the next few hours to catch up . . .

kyle + rosemary

The kyle + rosemary recording session was as much fun as I thought it would be. Jun cast a brilliant woman to play Rosemary, whose voice combined perfectly with her character model, and made it easy for me to commit to Kyle’s head-over-heels crush on her.

I’ve never been particularly good at doing voices, but with Jun’s help, I found a voice for Kyle that was soft and sweet and a little insecure, that I was really, really happy with.

Jun (director / creator) and Jentle (voice of Rosemary) were great fun to collaborate with, and we had a great time riffing together and discovering some funny stuff that surprised us all. One of my favorite moments was trying to come up with something to replace "severed head," which the S&P folks had decided was forbidden. We tried a few different things, and Jun settled on replacing the severed head with a skull. I suggested we make it a flaming skull, because "everything is funnier when you set it on fire." 

I saw Don the Coolest Guard in the World when I went in, but he wasn’t there when I left, so I didn’t get to thank him personally. I heard from a few people at Nickelodeon that someone did show him my blog, though, so he knows. I hope I get to go back to Nickelodeon soon and shake his hand.

kyle + rosemary is not a sold pilot; it’s a short film that will be considered by Nickelodeon for series development early next year. When I have more information about when it’s airing and how you can watch it, I’ll let you know.

Legion of Super Heroes

I’ve done two episodes of Legion so far, and I go back for another one tomorrow. I really can’t say anything about it, because the Warner Animation Goonsquad will totally come after me and take away my super powers . . . but it’s just amazing, and I think people are really, really going to like it.

More later . . .

the lost experience

Initially, I thought this (possible spoilers) would be a fun puzzle-solving game to play over the summer, while waiting for season three to start, figuring out what Dharma is about, Hanso Foundation rabbits with Persephone . . . but after last week’s Sprite tie-in, and last night’s stupid Jeep commercial, I’m beginning to think the big secret message from The Hanso Foundation will be "Be sure to drink your Ovaltine."

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it’s cosmic, man

I was very spoiled by Teen Titans. It was a fantastically talented group of actors, writers, and animators, lead by passionate producers and one of the best directors I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. I was crushed when the show was cancelled not only because it meant I wouldn’t have the job, but because it meant that I wouldn’t get to work with this incredible group of people several times a year any more.

When I found out that I would be working on Legion of Super Heroes, I was excited, but I kept my expectations in check . . . what were the odds of lightning striking twice?

Well, it turns out that those odds were 1:1. I had an absolute blast on Friday. The entire cast accepted me right away, and welcomed me into their show (they’ve been working together for eleven episodes, already) and made me feel like I was part of their team who had been there from the start. The producers, writers, and the director were just hawesome, and I can’t wait to go back and work with them all again this week . . . because I’m a recurring character!

Oh yeah, baby. Recurring character. Sweet.

I know that Warner Brothers is very touchy about revealing too many details before they are announced (Marv Wolfman and I got our wrists slapped when we both mentioned something about Aqualad on our blogs when we worked together on Deep Six) but I got an okay from a highly-placed source to at least reveal that I am playing the part of Cosmic Boy, one of the founders of the Legion.

Finding Cosmic Boy’s voice was fun: my instinct said that I should stand for him (he’s sort of an arms-across-the-chest kind of guy) but with my damn hip hurting, I ended up sitting . . . big mistake. I struggled for the first act, until I could get the engineer to reset my mic so I could stand up. It’s amazing what a huge difference a little thing like sitting vs. standing makes; it’s the difference between playing outfield with or without a glove, or running with shoes that don’t quite fit.

Standing up and settling into him let me bring Cosmic Boy to life, and really find his point of view about himself and his relationship with the other Legionaries. Once I knew who he was, and once he lived in me, I was able to do some really cool stuff. At one point in the last act, I felt so confident that I knew him, I even asked for a second take on a line where I thought I could play a more interesting beat than I did in the first take, which everyone on the other side of the glass was very happy with. I rarely ask for additional takes because if an actor is going to ask for a second pass he’d better have something really great to do, to justify the extra time and expense, and until recently I just haven’t had the level of confidence as a voice actor necessary to pull that off.

I can’t say exactly what dialogue or scene was, but you Meisner actors will probably grok this: there are three beats in the line. The first time I did it, I set him straight, enlightened him, and went one better. As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I realized that enlightening him and going one better were essentially the same beat, so I asked for another take where I set him straight, enlightened him, and shared bad news, which sort of went one better but was more specific and "shaded" differently and was more interesting. I felt an emotional connection to the words and the scene after the second take, and I guess the other actors did, too. One of them said, "Oh, I really liked that," and another said, "Dude, you’re not Cosmic Boy; you’re Actor Boy!" To which I replied (in a Ted Knight voice), "Yes, Actor Boy . . . who, in his disguise as Waiter Boy, keeps the city safe from doooom."  And there was much rejoicing.

I wish I could show or discuss the character models I saw while I was there, but I think that’s a one-way ticket to unemployment . . . but they are really, really cool. I’m back again on Friday, and if Warner Brothers doesn’t give me the cockpunch for what I’ve written here today, maybe I can get some permission to release a few more details. Now, I think I’m going to walk around my house and talk like Ted Knight.

"Meanwhile, in Wil’s office, Ferris and Riley sleep on the floor, unaware that a mysterious stranger lurks just outside the wall. Can Actor Boy arrive in time to save them from doooooom? Only Monroe and Spaulding know for sure!"

kyle + rosemary

‘m always careful not to post too many details about auditions, or the content of things I’ve worked on, because it usually freaks out the people who hired me, who want to maintain some mystery about their project, control the publicity, or reserve the right to keep the whole damn thing a secret until they are good and ready to share it with the world.

With that in mind, I haven’t talked too specifically about the project that I booked yesterday. In fact, I figured I’d wait until I went to work, so I could ask the director (who is also the writer and creator) if it was cool to put out a few details, and maybe even a character model or two.

Well, I think it’s okay to talk about the show a bit more now, because Jun, the director, e-mailed me this morning with a link to her blog all about the show!

The show is called Kyle + Rosemary, and I am Kyle. (That’s Kyle on the right there, and Rosemary is down a bit on the left, for those of you who like reading obvious things that are put into parentheses and then become the subject of much meta-commentary by the writer, who feels the need to talk about himself in the third person, when the smart thing to do all along was just to delete the damn parenthetical statement and trust that his reader wouldn’t need it anyway. But then the writer, who is really amusing himself by now, is all excited that he got to use the fifty-cent word "parenthetical" within a parenthetical, which is almost as good as having an intalicized footnote.[1])

Yesterday, I wrote "I felt such a connection with the character, and had so much fun
looking at his character model and creating the voice and character it
inspired . . ."
so here’s a little bit on how that works for me. Follow along with Kyle (who is on the right over there. See previous parenthetical statement, kthnx.)

When I go into the booth to do a character, I do different things with my body to make him come out of me. Aqualad is a little haughty, because he’s a prince, so to create his voice and character, I sit straight up, with my back off the chair, put my hands on my knees (Ensign Ro-style) and hold my chin up when I talk. I don’t know how all that comes together to create him, but I know that it works.

For Kyle, my initial voice was way too nerdy and cartoony. Once Jun showed me this drawing, I grokked him. I walked into the booth, let my shoulders slump a little bit, put my hands in my pockets, and sighed right before they rolled tape. She guided me, and Kyle came right out of me, like I’d known him for much longer than the five minutes I’d had his image in my mind.

Jun said some cool things about me on her blog

So, having completed voice casting, after much painful deliberation (there were many great candidates) I decided on Wil Wheaton
for the voice of Kyle. I’d call this an inspired casting choice; for
one thing, Wil is a self-proclaimed geek, and for another, he runs his
own hawesome weblog, in which he professes his geek-ness several times a week.

[. . .]

[W]e as directors and creators go through the casting process with often
rarely a thought to the multiple lines of actors and actresses trooping
through, hoping to get parts on our shows based on the quickest of
auditions – auditions where they have to drive across town for just a
few minutes in front of a microphone, saying the same lines that
everyone else says and hoping to stand out. They are just as excited to
get a part as we are when we sell a show. It’s really nice to have a
little insight into their lives once in a while. Thanks for sharing,

See? I knew there was a reason I liked her so much. She cares about story, she cares about actors, and she’s a geek blogger (I love the posts in her blog where her mom comments and says how proud she is. That rules.) So if a singularity shows up in Burbank next week, you totally know where to pin the blame (or at least start the investigation, though we’ll be watching you from our newly-discovered higher plane of pure-energy existance, and totally screwing with you through the power of mental thinking.)

I still don’t think it’s cool to gve up too many details about the show, but I think it’s safe to disclose that Kyle and Rosemary meet in a MMORPG, and the show takes place both in the game, where I will get to voice Kyle’s alter ego, Sir Horace, and in the real world, where Kyle and Rosemary can’t hang out, because she is a goth and he is a geek. There are some storyboards of their in-game alter-egos on Jun’s blog, if you want to see them. Oh, and when I voice Sir Horace? I totally stand tall, push out my chest, and put my hands on my hips. When I speak, I take one hand and stab at the air with it, because he is so totally heroic. And the transition from Sir Horace back into Kyle? Way too much fun.

Now I’m off to Shane’s house to pick up my nerd cape. And don’t even ask how it got there, because I’m not telling (though you can probably get Annie to tell you if you ask her nicely enough, and bribe her with coffee.)

[1] Yeah, it’s still good.

finally back to me

Remember the audition I had last week at Nickelodeon?

I had a crush on this project as soon as I read the breakdown. After I
met the director and grokked what sort of story she wants to tell, I
was hopelessly in love with the project. I really, really hope I get
this job.

I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about jobs after an audition. In fact, I have a ritual where I take my sides, and dump them into the first trash can or recycling bin I find, so I can let go of the whole thing, and put it into the hands of The Universe — or a higher power, like the producers. But this one was different. I felt such a connection with the character, and had so much fun looking at his character model and creating the voice and character it inspired, I thought about the show every day, and called my manager about it several times.

I probably shouldn’t disclose too many details about the story that
I auditioned for, but it is a wonderful, funny, charming animated short
about a geek and a goth who are starcrossed lovers.

I’m sure you’re all surprised to hear that I read for the geek. I used my sense memories to recall the Kyra crush
and did my best to be the kind of guy who "you want to take his glasses
off, and mess up his hair, because he’s so cute and he doesn’t know
it," according to the director, who I really, really liked.

Just now, as I was about to make my daily call to see if we’d heard anything, the phone rang (true story). It was my manager.

"Remember [name of project]?" He said.

"You mean the one I call you about every single day?" I said.

"Yes, that one." He laughed. "You got it."

I lept out of my chair and hollered. "What?! Are you serious?!" Which is a stupid thing to holler, because he wouldn’t call me if he wasn’t. "Really? I really got the job?" Which is also a stupid thing to say, but I’m passing this one off on the surge of adrenaline and seratonin my brains released upon receiving the news.

"Yep. I called to see if they had made a decision yet, and [casting executive] told me that she was just about to call me with the news!" He went on to tell me that the director could have picked anyone in the whole world to do this part, and she chose me.

I’m going to say that again: she could have picked anyone she wanted, and she chose me. Man, that feels so good. I mean, it feels tasp good.

I hung up the phone and ran around the house like a hummingbird being chased by a dog that shoots bees from its mouth.

After all the times I’ve written about the audition that went great, but didn’t work out, or the audition that was a lot of fun, but it turns out I’m not edgy enough, it’s so insanely awesome to write about one where I not only had a great time, but actually get to do more than just the audition sides. When this show is animated and released, for the rest of time, I will be the actor who helped bring that guy to life — and I really love this character. I am so excited! Squee!

Anyway, I had a blast reading for this project, and I was so excited
when I left, I totally forgot to steal a camphone snap of the hawesome
four foot tall SpongeBob made out of LEGO in the lobby. If I get the
job, or the next time I’m at Nick, I’ll grab a picture of it on my way
in, because I’m usually skipping with nerdy excitment whenever I’m on
my way out.

I’ll be sure to snag a picture of the giant LEGO SpongeBob on my way in when I record my dialogue next Wednesday or Thursday, and I’m taking a gift to Don, the most awesome security guy ever, who works at Nick and is always so awesome to me when I go there for an audition.

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.


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.


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

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 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 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  –

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.)

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.