Sunday, October 2, 2011

Baseball anime

Somehow, posting about this topic seems rather well.... topical.

This sub genre of the whole sports pantheon is actually one of my favorites, because it covers a well varied change of POV for each of the four series I want to discuss.  The four series all approach the game and those who play it in quite a different fashion, some may appeal to you than others and so depending upon what you're looking for, maybe I can find a match for you amongst these four favorites of mine.

Ookiku Furikabutte – Big Windup!
Cross Game

They vary in style and in drawing quality and for some its all about the individual and others its all about the team.  That's what makes them somewhat unique.  Do they have flaws, yes they do, but are they compelling, yes... yes they are.  Now none of them quite match the moments like the end of Shane (for you youngsters out there, go see if its on Netflix, it'll help explain why your parents and grandparents are closet sentimentalists), well okay, maybe Cross Game does, but they all honor and adore the game and its players and all of the things that make baseball great and people fans of the game.

So lets start with the series that is perhaps truest to the spirit of the game, at least the Japanese spirit of the game.

Ookiku Furikabutte

While its characters maybe the least attractive and the stretch in the actual circumstances to allow the conflict to take place is forced, its not any worse than the usual sitcom lineup on Thursday nights.  The pitcher is a neurotic wreck, the catcher is a control freak,  there's one blissfully talented player who walks through life without any emotional baggage of any kind and the rest of the team is doing their very best to not fail.  The vast majority of them are students of the game.  Well schooled in small ball strategies and know what the pitcher is trying to do and where the play is likely to go if and when the ball is put in play.  It's actually refreshing to see young baseball players who supposedly know what to do if the ball is hit to them.  It sure feels right because it is so close to what I went through as a kid, taking ground balls and fly balls and replaying each baserunning scenario until throwing to the proper base, to the proper cutoff man was second nature.  You watch pro baseball these days, its scary how many guys can't do what I used to do out of routine.  There interaction here is rebuilding of a pitchers psyche by his catcher and his manager and teammates.  While the internal dialogue can be excessive, at least you have an understanding on what everyone is thinking.  Very few straw men characters here, even the opponents are given their turn to explain what they are looking for and why.  For a person who enjoys that kind of character developmnt and internal insight into a character, this is a huge change of pace, with baseball strategies laid out for everyone to see.  Doesn't even mean you have to agree, but you know what the characters know, as such, it feels real.  Granted, most japanese High school teams don't have busty single female managers, but this is geared to guys, so I think you have to expect a little fan service and they play our stalwart coach against type, so she's not used as a sexual conquest goal or the like.  The sub is fine and now they even have this dubbed as well, with the bonus being that the catcher's voice is done by the same person who had the lead in Beck.


Is a double threaded anime, by that I mean that there are two stories in play, one is the POV of the young lady who helps as a team manager for the baseball team for a struggling group at n inauspicious school.  What happens is that she takes this up because of a promise to a sick friend without having any idea on how to actually help a team or understanding enough about baseball to feel like she can make a difference. The second story is how she applies business principals to that of helping to organize the use of practice time and manage the personal relationships that keep a team working as a team and handling the individual problems that arise on the way.  It doesn't all work perfectly and there are various missteps and personal conflicts along the way, but we do get to see an analytical approach to baseball, innovation and ideas on how to get the most of individuals while still promoting team effort.  The sick friend thread allows for the personal development of our heroine in a cathartic manner that I felt was overplayed a bit, but that didn't take away from the fresh approach the series took to the subject matter and how it blended business with people and understanding that there are choices to be made and not all of them are easy ones.


This is the longest running baseball anime that I know of.  It's very Japanese in its approach to character motivations and ideals.  It centers around a young boy (Goro Shigeno), who's father is a baseball player who is recently widowed.  He finds a caregiver for his son and starts to fall for her but before they can realize their relationship, he's tragically killed by a beanball from an American phenom.  She adopts the child as her own and begins to raise him.  She falls in love with the best friend of the father and the story follows the boy as he tries to follow in his father's footsteps.  We get to see his competitive spirit, his talent for the game and the amount of  growing up he has to perform while his natural acerbic tendencies push people away at the same time as his love of playing the game draws people to him.  Since this is an older series, some of the voices are extreme,y rough to handle when they start to cross over to english names and concepts, but hell, I can only imagine how badly I would sound attempting to handle the appropriate tonal inflections attempting to speak japanese, so I think I'll do the proper thing and encourage you to not let it bothr you.  It's told from the POV of the pitcher's position and goes into great detail about the training and sacrifice that  person must endure in order to become a professional athlete and the real obstacles that can be in your way, being outclassed by your competition, culture shock and injury all play a part in the story.  Plus there are the interactions with rivals, a childhood sweetheart and the growth and development of his new family.  If you dig stories about athletes and the bonds they make with fellow players, trainers, docs and management, then this series could be for you.

Cross Game

Is actually a love story using a baseball setting.  Two kids that appear to be meant for each other have a Disney moment and the young girl dies.  The boy is despondent, but the young lady serves as inspiration for her younger sister, who eventually pulls the young man into her orbit through the means of baseball.  Did I mention that there were four girls and their father owns a sporting goods store and batting cages?  The story grows as the two develop their own baseball skills and you have the unspoken relationship building between the two which is rarely spoken of but is like the elephant in the room that no one mentions.  There's a boatload of understatement here in regards to relationships and we're treated to multiple stories of love and people expressing their affection for each other in traditional and non-traditional fashion, all the while the team trans for Koshien.  It's very high school, but also baseball savvy in an understated way, but less focus on the game other than as a means to an end for the hopes and dreams of our two protagonists.

Thanks to any and all that stumble upon this and your own opinions are welcome.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Pirate's Anime Favorites

I just wanna say that this is completely subjective and as such, your mileage may vary and any differences of opinion are completely understandable..... First I wanna start off by stating that as a young kid, I was sucked into the fascination of japanese animation art form and how they told stories that weren't commonplace on US television. Some of my formative memories come from being a latchkey kid in the late 60's and early 70's and watching such landmark shows like Ultraman, AstroBoy, Kimba the White Lion and naturally.... Speed Racer. So now you know where I am grounded and I have to say that I didn't really get back into the genre until The Dirty Pair came along. Sure I watched other cartoons as a kid, Jonny Quest and George of the Jungle were favorites. I cut my teeth on Rocky and Bullwinkle as well as the usual collection of Tom and Jerry, Warner Brothers staples of Yosemite Sam and Bugs and the gang. I watched the Pink Panther (and secretly enjoyed both The Inspector and the Ant and the Aardvark more) and The Flintstones, the Jetsons and was fascinated by the blending of music and montage that made Scooby Doo different. First, I should go ahead and come clean and state that I haven't watched every anime series ever, but I have seen quite a few and I have to admit, that my tastes definitely cross genres and I am not an elitist, but I am a sucker for a good story. Second, I should state that without a decent story, just about any series falls flat on its ass, despite how good the voice actors are or how well drawn the story is. There are also certain series that I've enjoyed to a point where they somehow either jump the shark or have grown stale with repetition, I'll do my best to account for that as well. I may try and make this an ongoing project as I determine what I really want to do with this, but remember, this is solely the opinion of a 50 year old, middle class fat guy, meaning that I am a parent and I am a male (so yeah, I've seen a few harem series in my day), Next, I should tell ya what I have seen and perhaps then we can decide where to go from there: Some of these are partials, where I was interested enough to take a test drive but haven't always finished but watched enough to either come to the conclusion that the story wasn't strong enough for me to follow, or the characters and situations were so formulaic that I couldn't be bothered to stay with it. Once in a while, I just don't like something and I haven't taken the time to examine it more closely to figure out why.

  • A Channel
  • Abenobashi 
  • Aeon Flux
  • Ah! My Goddess 
  • Air Gear 
  • Air TV 
  • Amaenaideyo 
  • Amagami SS 
  • AnoHana 
  • Azumanga Daioh 
  • Baccano! 
  • Bakugan: Battle Brawlers 
  • Bakuman. 
  • Bamboo Blade 
  • Banner of the Stars 
  • Basilisk 
  • Beck 
  • Beelzebub 
  • Beet The Vandel Buster 
  • Ben 10 
  • Berserk 
  • Beyblade 
  • Black Blood Brothers 
  • Black Cat 
  • Black Lagoon 
  • Blassreiter 
  • Bleach 
  • Blood+ 
  • Blood-C 
  • Blue Gender 
  • Blue Submarine No. 6 
  • Bobobo-bo bo-bobo 
  • Boogiepop Phantom 
  • Boys Be… 
  • Break Blade 
  • Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040 
  • Burn Up W 
  • Burst Angel 
  • Buso Renkin 
  • Candidate For Goddess 
  • Card Captor Sakura 
  • Cardfight!! Vanguard 
  • Carnival Phantasm 
  • Cat Shit One 
  • Chrono Crusade 
  • Chu-Bra!! 
  • Claymore 
  • Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion 
  • Code-E 
  • Colorful 
  • Cowboy Bebop 
  • Crayon Shin Chan 
  • Crest of the Stars 
  • Cromartie High School 
  • Cross Game 
  • Dai-guard 
  • Dance in the Vampire Bund 
  • Danny Phantom 
  • Darker Than Black 
  • Darker than Black 2: Gemini of the Meteor 
  • Darker Than Black Gaiden 
  • Deadman Wonderland 
  • Dear Boys 
  • Death Note 
  • Demashitaa! Powerpuff Girls Z 
  • Desert Punk 
  • Detective Conan 
  • Devil May Cry 
  • Digimon Adventure 
  • Digimon Xros Wars 
  • Dirty Pair 
  • DN Angel 
  • Double-J 
  • Dragon Ball Kai 
  • Dragon Crisis! 
  • Dragonball 
  • Dragonball GT 
  • Dragonball Z 
  • Dragonball Z The Abridged Series 
  • Durarara!! 
  • Eiken 
  • El Cazador de la Bruja 
  • Elemental Gelade 
  • Elfen Lied 
  • Ergo Proxy 
  • Eureka 7 
  • Excel Saga 
  • Eyeshield 21 
  • Family Guy 
  • Fate Stay Night 
  • Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals 
  • Final Fantasy: Unlimited 
  • Fist of the North Star 
  • FLAG 
  • Fooly Cooly 
  • Fortune Arterial 
  • Fractale 
  • Freezing 
  • Fruits Basket 
  • Full Metal Panic 
  • Full Moon o Sagashite 
  • Fullmetal Alchemist 
  • Fullmetal Alchemist Blind Alchemist 
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood 
  • Fushigi Yuugi 
  • Futakoi 
  • Futakoi Alternative 
  • Futurama 
  • G Gundam 
  • Genshiken 
  • Get Backers 
  • Ghost in the Shell SAC 
  • Gintama 
  • Girls Bravo 
  • Glass Fleet 
  • Gokujou Seitokai 
  • Gokusen 
  • Golden Boy 
  • Gosick 
  • Gravitation 
  • Great Teacher Onizuka 
  • Green Green 
  • Gundam 00 
  • Gundam Seed 
  • Gundam Seed Destiny 
  • Gundam Unicorn 
  • Gundam Wing 
  • Gundam X 
  • Gundam ZZ 
  • GunGrave 
  • Gunslinger Girl 
  • Gunsmith Cats 
  • Hanamaru Kindergarten 
  • Hanasakeru Seishounen 
  • Hanasaku Iroha 
  • Hanaukyo Maid Team 
  • Hand Maid May 
  • Happy Lesson 
  • Hayate No Gotoku 
  • Hayate no Gotoku!! Season 2 
  • He is My Master 
  • Hellsing 
  • Hellsing Ultimate 
  • Hen Zemi 
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers 
  • High School Girls 
  • Highschool of the Dead 
  • Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni 
  • Hikaru No Go 
  • Honey and Clover 
  • Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi 
  • House of Five Leaves 
  • Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls 
  • Hyouge Mono 
  • Ikki Tousen 
  • Ikkitousen: Xtreme Xecutor 
  • Inazuma Eleven 
  • Infinite Stratos 
  • Initial D 
  • Inukami 
  • Inuyasha 
  • InuYasha Kanketsu-hen 
  • Inuyasha The Final Act 
  • Isekai no Seikishi Monogatari 
  • Itsuka Tenma no Kuro-Usagi 
  • Jackie Chan Adventures 
  • Jigoku Shoujo (Hell Girl) 
  • Jigoku Shoujo: Mitsuganae 
  • Johnny Bravo 
  • Jungle de Ikou! ova 
  • Justice League 
  • K-ON! 
  • Kampfer 
  • Kanokon 
  • Kare Kano 
  • Kaze no Stigma 
  • Kekkaishi 
  • KenIchi the Mightiest Disciple 
  • Kiba 
  • Kim Possible 
  • Kimagure Orange Road 
  • Kimi Ga Nozomu Eien 
  • Kimi ni Todoke 
  • Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season 
  • King of Bandit Jing 
  • Kino No Tabi The Beautiful World 
  • Kiss x sis 
  • Kiss x sis OVA 
  • Kodocha 
  • Kodomo No Jikan
  • Koi Kaze 
  • Kore wa Zombie Desu ka 
  • Kujibiki Unbalance 
  • Ladies Versus Butlers! 
  • Last Exile 
  • Law of Ueki 
  • Level E 
  • Love Hina 
  • Love Love? 
  • Lovely Complex 
  • Maburaho 
  • Macademi Wasshoi 
  • Macross Frontier 
  • Macross Zero 
  • Magikano 
  • Mahou Sensei Negima! 
  • Mahou Shoujo 
  • Madoka Magica 
  • Mai HiME 
  • Mai Otome 
  • Major 
  • Manyuu Hikenchou 
  • Marmalade Boy 
  • Mezzo DSA 
  • Minami-ke Mitsudomoe 
  • MM! 
  • Moetan 
  • Mokke 
  • Monster 
  • Monster Rancher 
  • Morita-san wa Mukuchi 
  • Moshidora 
  • Mushishi 
  • My Wife is a High School Girl 
  • Nabari no Ou 
  • Nagasarete Airantou 
  • NANA 
  • Naruto 
  • Naruto Shippuuden 
  • Natsu no Arashi! 
  • Natsume Yuujinchou 
  • Negima!? 
  • Nekogami Yaoyorozu 
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion 
  • Nichijou 
  • Ninja Nonsense 
  • Ninja Scroll 
  • Oban Star-Racers 
  • One Outs 
  • One Piece 
  • Onegai Teacher 
  • Onii-chan no Koto Nanka Zenzen Suki Janain Dakara ne!! 
  • Ookami-san to Shichinin no Nakama-tachi 
  • Ookiku Furikabutte – Big Windup! Season 2 
  • Ookiku Furikabutte – Big Windup! 
  • Oreimo 
  • Ouran High School Host Club 
  • Outlaw Star 
  • Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt 
  • Paranoia Agent 
  • Patlabor 
  • Peach Girl Piano 
  • Pilot Candidate 
  • Pokemon Season 01: Indigo League 
  • Pokemon Season 02: Adventures on the Orange Islands 
  • Pokemon Season 03: The Johto Journeys 
  • Pokemon Season 04: Johto League Champions 
  • Pokemon Season 02: Adventures on the Orange Islands 
  • Pokemon Season 03: The Johto Journeys 
  • Pokemon Season 04: Johto League Champions 
  • Pokemon Season 05: Master Quest 
  • Pokemon Season 06: Advanced 
  • Pokemon Season 07: Advanced Challenge 
  • Pokemon Season 08: Advanced Battle 
  • Pokemon Season 09: Battle Frontier 
  • Pokemon Season 10: Diamond and Pearl 
  • Pokemon Season 11: Battle Dimension 
  • Pokemon Season 12: Galactic Battles 
  • Pokemon Season 13:Sinnoh League Victors 
  • Pokemon Season 14: Black and White 
  • Pokemon: Best Wishes! 
  • Popotan 
  • Prism Ark 
  • Psychic Detective Yakumo 
  • RahXephon 
  • Ranma 1/2 
  • Rave Master 
  • Read or Die 
  • Record of Lodoss War 
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena 
  • Rio – Rainbow Gate! 
  • Rurouni Kenshin 
  • s-CRY-ed 
  • Saber Marionette J 
  • Sailor Moon 
  • Saiunkoku Monogatari 
  • Saiyuki 
  • Saiyuki Gaiden 
  • Saiyuki Reload 
  • Saiyuki Reload Gunlock 
  • Saki 
  • Samurai 7 
  • Samurai Champloo 
  • School Days 
  • School Rumble 
  • Seitokai Yakuindomo 
  • Sekirei 
  • Sekirei ~Pure Engagement~ 
  • Serial Experiments Lain 
  • Shigofumi: Letters from the Departed 
  • Shingetsutan Tsukihime 
  • Shinryaku! Ika Musume 
  • Shion No Ou 
  • Showa Monogatari 
  • Shuffle! Shukufuku no Campanella 
  • Sket Dance 
  • Slayers 
  • Sofuteni 
  • Solty Rei 
  • Sora no Otoshimono 
  • Sora no Otoshimono Forte 
  • Sora no Woto 
  • Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru 
  • Starry Sky 
  • Steins Gate 
  • Suzuka 
  • Teen Titans 
  • Tenchi in Tokyo 
  • Tenchi Muyo GXP 
  • Tenchi Muyo Ryo Ohki 
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann 
  • Tenjou Tenge 
  • Texhnolyze 
  • The Big O 
  • The Galaxy Railways 
  • The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya 
  • The Twelve Kingdoms 
  • The World God Only Knows 
  • The World God Only Knows 2 
  • The World of Narue 
  • They Are My Noble Masters 
  • This Ugly Yet Beautiful World 
  • To Heart 
  • To Love-Ru 
  • Tokko 
  • Toradora! 
  • Trigun 
  • True Tears 
  • Tsukuyomi Moon Phase 
  • Un-Go 
  • Urusei Yatsura 
  • Usagi Drop 
  • Vandread 
  • Vision of Escaflowne 
  • Voltron 
  • Winter Sonata 
  • Witch Hunter Robin 
  • Witchblade 
  • Wolf's Rain 
  • Working!! 
  • Xiaolin Showdown 
  • XxxHolic 

  • Azazel-san Yosuga no Sora 
  • You're Under Arrest 
  • Yu Yu Hakusho 
  • Yumekui Merry 
  • Zatch Bell 
  • Zoids Zoids Genesis 
  • Zoids New Century Zero 
  • Zoids: Fuzors 
  • Zoku Natsume Yuujinchou 

Obviously, I've wasted my life away... granted I'm not an expert on many of these, just an observer and as time allows, I'll try and point out the ones, imho, that are worth seeing, as always, your mileage may vary and my tastes may very well not coincide with your own, but at least, you can see that I have some background in the genre and at least I know what I like ;-). So look for a follow up posting that delves deeper into the genres as we attempt to sort wheat from chaff.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

what is a liberal, anyway

[lib-er-uhl, lib-ruhl]   Origin Like this word?

favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs.
( often initial capital letter ) noting or pertaining to a political party advocating measures of progressive political reform.
of, pertaining to, based on, or advocating liberalism.
favorable to or in accord with concepts of maximum individual freedom possible, especially as guaranteed by law and secured by governmental protection of civil liberties.
favoring or permitting freedom of action, especially with respect to matters of personal belief or expression: a liberal policy toward dissident artists and writers.
of or pertaining to representational forms of government rather than aristocracies and monarchies.
free from prejudice or bigotry; tolerant: a liberal attitude toward foreigners.
open-minded or tolerant, especially free of or not bound by traditional or conventional ideas, values, etc.
characterized by generosity and willingness to give in large amounts: a liberal donor.
given freely or abundantly; generous: a liberal donation.
not strict or rigorous; free; not literal: a liberal interpretation of a rule.
of, pertaining to, or based on the liberal arts.
of, pertaining to, or befitting a freeman.

ok, yeah, that's me

Saturday, July 9, 2011

It's the "why" I don't understand

I haven't blogged in a while due to events at home and with my general disgust with the politics at hand but something has been percolating for quite some time and I wish I had a better grip on understanding it which has in turn led to the title itself. I can see some of the selfish reasons that the right is doing what its doing, the old "I got mine" or "the club is full" has a certain cachet of comfort doesn't it? I can certainly appreciate the feeling of stability of maintaining a "status quo" or just being able to tell yourself that now that you're on top you shouldn't have to work that hard anymore. You know, I get that but I guess that a large number of these folks were simply raised differently than I was and this is coming from a man who's now discovered that his mother is now a "birther" and in a bitter argument regarding the validity of the current holder of the highest office proclaimed that she and Dad raised me up to be a "Conservative" and continued on to exhort she wished that she had never sent me off to school if I was going to turn out to be a "liberal".

That kind of sentiment sent a bit of a shudder down my spine but I sat back and just shook my head and wondered just how she got to where she was without our own country being one of the "most liberal" countries in the world during the time that I was growing up. I grew up during Watergate. I grew up watching Spiro Agnew disgraced, watched him resign, watched Nixon besieged, watched him lie, dissemble, delay, prevaricate and eventually resign when it was apparent that he was going to be impeached. Depsite Nixon's despicable acts, I got why Ford pardoned him. I also grew up during a time where the idea that something newer, faster and better was just around the corner. Science was broadening frontiers, possibilities were endless, society was changing. Sex wasn't free, but it wasn't illegal or unheard of to have knowledge of it on a first hand basis (pun/smirk here at your leisure). The end result was that R's were willing to do just about anything to stay in power if a guy like Nixon, who had excellent prospects of being re-elected on his own merits had to sabotage the other side, simply because he could.

Yet here we are today, two generations later, watching these same R idiots parrot the same lines of the same failed economical policies as if yelling them louder will somehow make them more viable. Being in power means more to them than actually solving problems. Having all the wealth in the hands of the rich is a desirable end result. Businesses don't need regulation and when they screw up, so what, deal with it. You have the freedom to agree with them or be libeled with something from the rotating "wheel of hate" if not. For reasons unknown concepts like wealth, freedom and rights are zero sum quantities, if they have less, then that means you have more and that upsets their sense of balance. They keep shouting that if we just leave businesses alone that they'll create more jobs, while at the same time doing their best to shrink government, throwing more people into the workforce, unemployed.

So far, jobs creation hasn't been what anyone would call inspirational and the stimulus package that was crafted is on its last gasp as state governments commit harikuri on its poor and middle class citizens in the name of austerity thinking that spending less will somehow translate to "more" money in the economy and while the media is complicit in perpetuating the misrepresentation of ideals to the public. In their myopic quest for total control of the message what do they hope to achieve? That the media doesn't care who is in charge is laudable, what is laughable is how little they've done to inform the American public regarding what is at stake and how it pertains to their everyday lives.

I have no idea on what it is that these people think they are gaining at the expense of so many people, but when the reckoning comes to settle these accounts, I won't blink when these folks spend their time on their knees in front of the headsman.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Spin Cycle

Well the Terrorist Icon is dead, the monster that we helped create has been done in by a special tactical unit acting on intelligence that was pieced together the old fashioned way. If you think I'm implying torture, think again. I don't condone what the Bushies have done in the name of freedom, but I also don't wanna imply that our American historty (no, that's not a typo) is actually pristine. We're a pretty ruthless nation and to think otherwise is to neglect our own history. After all, we've (by that I mean us white folks) been murdering natives since we got off the boats. Either with our filthy disease ridden bodies (which were incredibly effective at wiping out entire tribes) or by the old fashioned coveting thy neighbor's crops and being hungry and simply going out and using arms versus arrows. When we ran short of native americans to abuse, we imported our own to work the fields and the mines. Most of them were black, some of them were white (hello Appalachia!) and yet later on some of them were yellow, we're equal opportunity oppressors.

The thing is, despite all of our evils, the ideals that this nation were founded upon actually allow us to grow as a people. To understand that the color of one's skin should not exclude you from the rights that you should enjoy, namely life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness et al. We've decided to add a few more along the way, the right to vote, the forward thinking of determining that women are people too, perhaps the notion that skin color is actually superficial, the idea that there are indeed tangible benefits to taxation that all citizens would benefit from. As such, people around the planet took a step back and placed their hands on their collective chins and had a few profound thoughts that we may be onto something here. That notion led others to our shores in search of the one key agenda item that was lacking where they used to live, opportunity. Because of that concept, we grow and continue to grow as a people, being open to new ideas, new concepts and new boundaries of ethical behavior.

The very notion of what constitutes freedom is now under fire and a basic understanding of the founding ideas that established this nation are now under attack. Part of the issue comes from who the founding fathers were. Most of them we're what you could consider to be middle class, landed gentry, moneyed mercantile types. Folks that had cracked a book or two, weren't afraid to lift a glass an imbibe the odd beverage of choice. What they were not is royalty. So they set up a system that would allow folks like themselves to be in charge. Where things have gone awry is that the guys who are really rich, would just as soon have all the power and all the money and set up shop to keep it that way. Thems that gots keeps and good luck to the rest of ya on ascending the mountain, because those folks at the top have no interest in admitting anyone else to the club.

The issue that concerns me the most about all of this is who is in charge of the message. The right has their own 24/7/365 propaganda network in place on TV. Plus you have a thriving radio network of poutrage which is busy telling people that because they are white and conservative, they are exceptional. Anyone who questions that is against freedom, no conversation to be had, talk to the hand mister because you are out of line! Then we have the duplicity of the MSM, which is so busy stating who has what opinion that they don't bother telling us what IS. I'm not asking the folks to tell me what to think, just inform me as to whether or not someone is completely full of shit, i.e. do their numbers add up? If not, say so.... namely there are a number of ways to balance the budget, increase revenue, reduce spending, combinations there of. How much debt is it alright to carry, what needs to be done and what HAS to be done. NONE of that kind of reporting is being done on the national networks. What we have is a he said/she said scenario that lends as much credence to people who think the sun revolves around the Earth as it does to people who are stating that global warming is causing the oceans to rise.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

If I ran the SyFy Channel

I'd stop thinking small....

The Channel that bears the flag for the genre has a hard time even living up to it

I'll grant you that the Fy part nowadays stands mostly for Fantasy and by that I mean horror/occult monster movie of the month or creeped out reality shows. Not exactly the Fantasy storytelling of The Hobbit or the Chronicles of Narnia or even the Nine Princes of Amber, but hey, people watch it, it makes their advertisers happy and to quote a well used meme... profit!

What galls me is that there is so little attention actually placed on Science Fiction and Fantasy works that got us all wonked on the genre to begin with.

You could have an "old school" approach and get the rights to classics like The Outer Limits and The Twilight Zone. Hell, I can do a rundown on all sorts of stuff that may appeal to folks, old MST3K riftages on old SF films, Buck Rogers, the old cinematic shorts and the TV series, The Invaders, Land of the Lost, Land of the Giants, Time Tunnel, Lost in Space, Battlestar Galactica, Quark, Space 1999, UFO, Space Patrol, Farscape, Firefly, Babylon 5, Quantum Leap and I haven't named them all yet. That's without even touching upon the iconic series and its spinoffs.

there is loads of fiction out there to be mined, the genre is healthy and has a bit of something for everyone, space opera, military SF, hard science, inner science, alternate history and some plain old storytelling in a "different" environment. The support industry is out there, all those years of Star Trek and Star Wars have provided the TV and movie industry enough folks doing special effects, be they of a video or computer variety or even advannces in makeup that allow otherworldly and fantastic visions to achieve a reality, cost effectively.

The works range from Jim Butcher's occult/fantasy detective fiction to Niven's hard science approaches to Ringworld. There's plenty of old school authors out there to be mined, Asimov, Dick, Heinlein, are just some of those that have passed who's stories should be accessible, the same holds true for many others its just a matter of vision and desire, something sorely in need for a network that is supposed to represent an entire genre. there are many stories that scream for series treatments, say David Brin's Uplift War, Cook's Garrett P.I. stories, Weber's Safehold series, just to name a few, I'm sure others could offer more (maybe even better ones) ideas.

Also one note to my network executives, read the frickin story before you start casting. Sometimes the description of the characters matter, sometimes it doesn't. Case in point the works of Stephen King.... on one hand, we have the Shawshank Redemption, Red is described as a lifer, but the type of character is important, so casting Morgan Freeman was inspired and intrepid and it worked like a charm. They kept the dialogue and matched it with an actor who could lend the common sense reality and grittiness that the narrator needed. One the other hand, The Dead Zone... you have Christopher Walken as John Smith, great pick, Brooke Adams as the girlfriend who moved on, Herbert Lom as the doctor... all well done. The thing is, the heavy, the villian of the piece is completely wrong. The Greg Stillson character is described as a beefy, hearty, man-mountain kinda guy who is full of false bonhommie up front and underneath is a sinister, sociopathic nutjob. Martin Sheen was cast. No offense to Martin Sheen, who is a very accomplished actor, what he isn't is six foot four and and big in the shoulders, Martin Sheen isn't menacing anyone. You dig?

So find some short stories of note, perhaps some old classics that cause you to think, perhaps something like H. Beam Piper's Omnilingual ( as an example, not too many people familiar with it, but would or could make good television or at least they would be trying to do better versus some of the pedantic fare that they are peddling now. I'm okay with cheesy monster flicks, just not a steady diet of them.

So just in case, I'm currently out of work and could use a job, just in case any network wants to pimp out their programming....

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Villains "That Guy" list - A Beginning

I appreciate a good villain and I really think that the best ones aren't the usual strawmen that are built up so our cardboard heroes can smite them with impunity. The guys I want to mention here are creations of both the actors and the screenwriters who created and developed these guys as our most loathed foils and to be honest, we KNOW these people and that is what makes them so delicious. I want to give a shout out to those folks that have done such a great job of giving us someone to hate that is so personal, which in turn, lends our heroes a bit more credibility. This list is totally subjective and exists merely as a way to allow others to contribute if they so choose.

Paul Gleason

He tops my list because he had two incredible performances in the 80's. First as the ass kissing local LAPD officer in Die Hard, a clueless, by-the-book plodder who immediately disregards anything coming from beneath his paygrade. Secondly as the burned out detention teacher from The Breakfast Club. Two incredible performances, you have no issues at all with loathing him and cheering for anyone who is in conflict with him. Also delightfully slimy in Trading Places and countless other roles. He's at the top of my list of guys you love to hate.

William Atherton

What can you say about this guy that hasn't already been said? Die Hard I and 2, Real Genius and Ghostbusters? Forever known as the "Man with no dick", thanks to Ghostbusters, he's got slimy down to an art. I could have listed him first, but Gleason does such a great job being a petty tyrant that I had to move Big Bill down a notch. Was there anyone in the audience who didn't smile when Bonnie Bedilia punched him in Die Hard? Didn't think so.

Bob Gunton

Bob does sinister extraordinarily well. In Shawshank redemption, as the warden, his malevolence and phoniness shine right on through without any glimmer of redeeming qualities. For those of you that aren't well acquainted with his talents, check out his turn as agent provocateur in Matewan. Bob has that gift of tone that sounds like a velvet glove with the fist of cruelty contained within.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Random musings from the navel

I miss America... or at least the America I thought I knew and admired. It used to be that our country used to offer hope to the regular individual to prove their own exceptionalism. Namely you had the promise of opportunity to make something of yourself or if you had an idea, a possibility of being able to develop it and create something from it. Those days appear to be gone. When did it all become such a caustic end game?

I don't want to simply blame conservatives, although there is plenty of blame to lay at their feet, because I do believe that the problems go deeper than simple idiology. I understand that certain people are hardwired to handle the concept of workers and management and that you belong in one class or the other. The problem is that there appears to be another class, the "ownership" class that used to be somewhat benevolent in past generations but appears to be in a "screw you" cycle these days. It's not to say that we haven't seen this cycle before. I believe that America from the 1850's thru the 1880's went through a similar stage when the wealthy did such a great job of accumulating wealth that they stopped seeing people that were not of their status as somehow not being people anymore. Granted, its all self delusion, if they were cut, they would bleed, they had bowel movements, they burped yet somehow they felt and conveyed this point of view to others that money matters and as such, it somehow made them better. They then sold this same concept to religious leaders who then started implying that others outside their faith were somehow less than human. Why? When did this need to be "better" or "exceptional" become such a carrot to drive our society?

I can understand the need for proficiency, attention to detail, or even taking a slice of life and turning it into an art form, yet how does that make us better as people? I get that hedge fund managers might not have the same skills than a plumber, but why is it that one has more value than another? If we talk about Teachers as being vitally important in the lives of our children, then why do we resent paying them a comprehensive salary? Do we no longer buy into the concept that education is the one mechanism that allows us to transition through our self imposed social strata? Does this mean that we're seeing a hardening in the social strata in that one now must stumble into extreme good fortune in order to move from one level to the next. The upward mobility appears to be restricted because the wealthy appear to be happy with the current size of their club and no others need apply.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Wanted: Rockumentaries Part I

I guess musically I'm one of those guys that has frequently taken the road less travelled. My musical tastes run to more lyrical and melodic and always appear to be behind or ahead of the times or even just plain old out of sync with damn near everyone. I just want to share some of my favorite artists with folks and see if we have any intersections and points of reference for future discussion.

In order to do so, I have to provide some background, because we can't understand what music has spoken to us and when until you have an idea on the roads travelled through life. While my life has been remarkably stable over the last 25 years or so, the beginning constant was change, where we lived, who we knew, how we lived was constantly in flux. Both parents working, associated with a big corporation that povided the parents with opportunities to grow and develop and drag their kids along as they went chasing the financial rainbow to middle class status. In many ways it was idyllic and I grew up as your typical teenager, not quite fitting in but then again, the fringe was where it was at, or so we told ourselves.

This is simply a small request, to any who wonder across this place to discuss why music matters and why these artists mattered to me.

I grew up in the 60's, so around the house, we listened to both types of music, Country and Western. The sounds of Faron Young, Charlie Pride and Marty Robbins were a constant. As I started to sense something of the world around me, nighttime TV brought the mindlessness of The Monkees into my life and as such, my introduction to pop culture was completed. As I learned about the band, I was still intrigued on how these guys ended up being thrown together still managed to forge enough bonds of kinship to make some rather nifty music. My tastes trended towards the Nesmith tunes, "The Kind of Girl I could Love", "Papa Jean's Blues", and "You May Just Be The One" all struck a chord with me. Were they simple, yes, but earnest and heartfelt and were the first in my heart in regards to speaking to the romantic in my soul. While the guys have been dissected and dissed and later accepted, I still find their story fascinating all the same.

The 70's

Well in my dawning adolescence I started to find that music was becoming a part of my everyday life. The band that guided me through the first awkward steps of that stage was The Raspberries. Christ on a Ritz could that Eric Carmen sing. The songs and harmonies were tight, remiscent of the Beatles, but a tad less polished, there was lust and yearning in those songs, a bit less innocence, perhaps it was the time but this was the kind of stuff that had me standing in my bedroom playing air guitar. The first music of my own that I purchased for myself was The Raspberries. While I loved Eric Carmen, I freaking adored Dave Smalley, I loved his songs and felt that his bass playing would be the examplee I needed to follow to be a rock star. naturally, I grew up a bit wiser, but like most first crushes, I never lost my passion for their music and it still brings a smile to me today. I wish that these guys had a bit better management, because there was talent, they had a sound and in my humble opinion, it was over all too soon.

After the Raspberries broke up, I was looking for new sounds and new bands to follow and in 1977 thru 1979 I became energized by the wide range of possibilities that were out there. I became enamored with ELO, The Cars, Blondie, Toto and Firefall. There was a complete dissaffection with the mainstream which was dominated by the likes of Barry Manilow and the Bee Gees. I couldn't get into the FM underground that was all about bands like ELP and Rush and I never identified with the metal heads who were still out there playing their Foghat and Kiss records. these bands simply didn't sound like every other band, they had a hook that reached me and stayed with me, be it the lyrical romantic beauty of Firefall's "Just Remember I Love You" or the young love disconnect of lost love in The Cars "Best Friends Girlfriend". Those songs spoke to my own confusion of finding a place or a purpose or some kind of reason that didn't seem to be some sort of random interaction with fate.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Romantic Comedies

I'm a softy, I admit it, sometinmes simply watching these artificial constructions manufactured to tug on your heartstrings really do work. Hey I'm a guy, thru and through, by that I mean that I can be captivated by whatever catches my purient fancies, be it a handspan length of cleavage to the sway of hips to direct eye contact that bares into your innermost sexual driven ID and meets that gaze with unblinking indifference with the full knowledge of acceptance. So yeah, I dig women, I love how they can dance around the directness of the male driven agenda with a knowing wink and nod to its existence. I truly enjoy that there are times when they fiund us some wondrously simple and easy to manipulate that they simply sigh and embrace our libidic driven natures. Plus, some of them can have multiple orgasms, or so I am told. The thing is, I'm a sucker for a good romantic comedy and as such, I would like to share my favorites with you, in no particular order.

While You Were Sleeping

Notting Hill

You've Got Mail

Some Kind of Wonderful

Sixteen Candles

Joe Versus the Volcano



Fierce Creatures

A Fish Called Wanda

When Harry Met Sally