Saturday, December 24, 2011

Tradition, actually

My buddy Jeff has two traditions he follows every Christmas. One is that he and his wife go somewhere on Christmas Eve (or Christmas Eve-Eve) and buy each other a little gift. His other tradition is, after the presents have been wrapped and placed under the tree for the next morning, to watch LOVE, ACTUALLY with his wife together.

They do it every year, and I envy the hell out of it. There's only a handful of movies I love as much as I do LOVE, ACTUALLY, but not having a wife (or anything remotely close to one), my viewings of the movie are always solo.*

Jeff just emailed me to mention that they finished the flick--it was as good as ever--and he's now on to bed. So I figured I ought to at least TRY to watch it, now that I've wrapped my own presents for tomorrow.

I love something new about the flick every time I watch it, and laugh at a new line I never noticed the other times through ("He now spends all his time up in his room." "There's nothing unusual about that. My horrid son Bernard stays in his room all the time. Thank goodness."). I'm a pretty tough sell when it comes to movies (at least more so than everybody except my dad and Big Anklevich), but they've really got me with this one.

It would be nice to develop a couple new traditions--preferably non-solo ones--but this is one I don't mind repeating from last year.

Happy holiday.

Rish Billy Mack Outfield

*Which might be a good thing; after all, how attractive can a man be to a woman when he consistantly bawls throughout what is universally-recognized as a Romantic-Comedy? I believe they even address it in the flick, when Emma Thompson says, "No one's ever going to shag you if you cry all the time."

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Santa Baby Jesus

The local Eighties radio station keeps playing this promo that sort of creeps me out. It goes, "Ho, ho, ho, kids! This is Santa Claus here, reminding you in this holiday season to remember the Baby Jesus. The Baby Jesus taught us to love one another as we love ourselves, and thinking of him will help us all to have a merry Christmas. Ho, ho, ho!"

I find this radio ad both vexing and extremely annoying. Look, I know that Christmas is a religious holiday, and that religious folks get upset that it has been secularized. But isn't Santa kind of the anti-Jesus? The representation of all the commercial and non-denominational aspects of the holiday? Isn't Santa Claus Jesus's Lex Luthor or Doctor Octopus? Or at least the equivalent of Toyman or the Shocker.

It may not be Israel and Palestine (as I have previously asserted), but that one holiday icon should be used to invoke the name of another holiday icon just seemed wrong to me. Despite whole church and state thing, it would be one thing if the station's general manager got on the air and told people to keep in mind that it's Jesus's birthday, and He's the reason behind all the hoopla. But to have Santa do it (or, more accurately, somebody pretending to be Santa) and telling KIDS to keep in mind that the season is about the Baby Jesus . . . well, I just have a problem with that.

Years ago, I knew a woman who would constantly pray to the Baby Jesus. And that just plain bothered me. Maybe it's all nonsense, or maybe it's just the thought that counts, but if Jesus was really the Son of God and lived like the stories say, then He sure as hell isn't a baby anymore. Right?

Or is Baby Jesus a different entity altogether, like Superboy and Superman are (at least according to the lawyers DC Comics employs so they don't have to pay royalties on "Smallville")?

Regardless, Fake Santa telling us what Baby Jesus taught is just false all-around. The Baby Jesus didn't teach us anything. He was a baby. Oh, going by all the carols and pop songs, He was an extraordinarily well-behaved baby . . . but He wasn't giving devotionals, self-help seminars, and lecturing at community colleges. Not even on carpentry.

I know it's a little thing, and wouldn't have merited being mentioned (still doesn't), but I heard the promo again and again on the radio, and figured I should say something, just to get it off my chest.

We can just move on now.

Rish

P.S. "Hey kids, this is Artoo Deetoo. I know you're all excited about THE PHANTOM MENACE getting re-released in cinemas in a few weeks, but let me remind you that Spider-man turns fifty years old in 2012, so this really should be his year. And remember that Spider-man taught us, 'You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.' Have a happy new year."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

R.I.P. Joe Simon

Captain America co-creator Joe Simon died today. He made it to ninety-eight, and lived to see a really solid film made from his most famous creation. In recent years, I've really grown to love Cap, and I hope Joe got to interact with some of the millions of people like me over the years.
Thanks, Joe.

Rish "Bucky" Outfield

Monday, December 12, 2011

Water Torture

I don't know if you have a Del Taco where you live (probably not in the UK or Australia, right?), but we have 'em all over around here. It's delicious, cheap food, and my cousin and I eat there pretty much every Tuesday night. Also, the restaurant in L.A. I probably went to the most was the Del Taco on Washington and Motor (technically Culver City, I suppose). Like most fast food franchises, their drinks are unforgivably overpriced, but you can always get a complimentary water, to save a couple bucks.

Of course, those restaurants make a killing on soda, and some Del Tacos have an ingenious way to get you to buy drinks anyway. For example, the aforementioned L.A. location had water that tasted like it came right out of the septic tank, and that worked well for them.

Today, I took my nephew to our local Del Taco, and they had an even cleverer way of getting us to buy drinks. I got a drink for me and a water for him, but then found that no water was coming out of the dispenser. I asked the girl behind the counter, and she said, "Oh yeah, that's broken."

Touche, Del Taco. Touche.

Rish "Del Chalupa" Outfield

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The World's Most Helpful Employee

I went to Target today, and they had their yearly $7.99 sale on DC Universe Classics figures (normally they are $15.99). Unfortunately, the local store hasn't gotten a single new figure in in months, perhaps not since last year's holidays. What they have on the shelf are figures I've returned (or others have returned), and not a single one that's worth $7.99, let alone $15.99. But I'd discussed this so many times with my cousin that I'd planned on stripping the shelves if they ever went on sale again, in hopes that the store would order some new ones.

Unfortunately, they had three of probably the most worthless figure in their entire series, Cyclotron (it's probably more worthless than the much more-prominent Captain Cold, since he at least comes with a Build-A-Figure piece), and I was torn between buying ALL the figures, and buying all of them except for him. And an employee of the toy department just happened to come by, so I asked him.

"These are on sale," I said. "Should I buy all of them, or is leaving only three enough so that the store will order more?"

"It doesn't work that way," he said, smugly . . . then didn't explain how it did work.

"Okay, how does it work?" I asked.

"The warehouse sends us more when they have more. It doesn't matter if we have them on the shelf or not."

"Oh. But this store hasn't gotten a new figure since 2010. Since they're on sale, will you be getting some new ones in?"

"There's no way of knowing that," he said.

"Can't the manager or somebody order another box?" I asked.

"Nope. The computer keeps track of those things."

This frustrated me, since I was now getting visions of the HAL-9000, and that shitty Michael Bay TRANSFORMERS movie. "Alright, isn't there anything I can do to ensure your store gets some more in?"

"Well, you could buy all the ones on the shelf, if you want," he said.

Sigh.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

short story unsale

I got an acceptance letter about one of my stories a few weeks (months?) ago, and was excited that a) someone other than me liked it and b) I'd get to hear somebody produce it for audio. It's a tale I'm quite proud of, and might have been the first story I wrote with a pair of girl protagonists (rather than my typical male ones).

But life is what happens when you're . . . a loser, I guess. So I got an email from the editor who, sadly, can no longer do the story (or any story, it would seem), due to matters beyond her control. That was disappointing to me, mostly because I now won't get to hear how someone interprets and performs the story, but also because it's a rejection in a way.

It ain't world-ending or anything, but it's a bit of a bummer. Of course, a real writer would have already sent it out there to another publisher, in the time it's taken me to write this. Sigh.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

"The Charter" reading over at Strangely Literal

A while back, I auditioned for a part in a "Firefly" audio drama, and while I didn't get the part I wanted, I got a part. But before the fun could begin, each of the new cast members were sent a short story to record, as a secondary audition, I assumed. Mine was called "The Charter," a very short story set (sort of) in the "Firefly" universe.

Well, I was going through my files today, looking for stuff to delete, and was reminded of it, so I did a search, and I found my reading as part of the "Strangely Literal" podcast, which is a fan fiction publisher of stories set in the Joss Whedon-verse(s).

It's a crossover with a very popular Nineties sitcom, and the story is pretty amusing really, so I figured I'd mention it here. If you like that sort of thing, check it out over at strangelyliteral.com. Tell 'em Badger sent you!

R. "You're killing Independent Rish" Outfield

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Stupid Thing of the Week

I was in the grocery store today, and a toddler (maybe three, but probably two) had a t-shirt on that read, "I have the biggest dick in my family."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

With Some Nameless Dread

Was it Poe or Lovecraft who liked to use the phrase "it filled me with some nameless dread?" I always found that to be a nebulous, old-fashioned, almost nonsensical turn of phrase. But late tonight, I was leaving my friend's house to go home, I understood exactly what the crazy dead bastage meant.

You see, a few minutes earlier, my buddy's wife woke up to the sound of a pair of cats fighting or yowling or communing with the unholy spirits of darkness--whatever it is cats do--worried that her cat might be participating. He told her it wasn't, but I had heard nothing.

It was time for me to go home, and I went out onto the front porch. Then I heard it. The sound was bloodcurdling. It sounded like somebody dying. It sounded like the devil having a baby. It was an echoing, horrible, feminine, inhuman sound (sure, it was inhuman because it wasn't made by humans, but why would it be feminine?). It was the most awful sound I can readily imagine, and I've heard more than one song by Ke$ha.

"Jeez, that sounds like an old woman wailing in pain," I said, laughing, as my friend bid me farewell.

But once I was alone, and it came again, I was no longer laughing. The hairs on my arms and taint stood right up, and for the first time in I don't know how many years, I was almost overcome with the urge to run. Run in the direction that ghastly sound was not coming from. There was no logic to it, but I was simply, and most unjustifiably terrified.

I quickly got into my car, and fought the urge to scream at the prospect of something grabbing hold of me before I could close the door, or worse, something leaping onto the windshield to get at me. How that's worse I don't know. I guess because I'd see its face then.

Anyway, it was such a strange and childhoodesque experience, I thought I'd share it here. Seems like that might've been a mistake.

Rish "The Fonz" Outfield

Friday, October 21, 2011

Guest spot on "Star Trek: Outpost"

I'm not sure why I haven't mentioned this before, but I recently did a three episode arc over at Giant Gnome Productions' "Star Trek: Outpost" audio drama series. The storyline is called "The Melnoran Solution," written by Tony Raymond and Daniel McIntosh.

I've done a couple of Trek fan productions, with varying levels of success. This particular series is very dialogue-heavy (as would be expected in audio), and this series of episodes are heavy on politics, diplomacy, and protocol. Audio drama is really hard to write and pull off well. I don't really know the series, except that it is very popular, award-winning, and each episode is massive, around an hour ten.

I play the part of Kar'rl Droonga, in pretty much a more formal version of my own voice. He's a Betazoid emissary that's been living among an alien civilization without (most of) them knowing he is not one of them (kind of like that episode of "Next Gen" where the natives worship The Picard as a god and Lilith Sternin-Crane always wanted to have sex with an alien, unless that's two different episodes). But all is not as it appears to be, and my character takes a bit of a turn in his later appearances.

It surprised me, since hadn't known where it all was going, and I wondered if I should have played the part differently, having been tipped off as to motivations and destinations. It must be a bit like playing a part on a TV show with no idea what is to come, only to find out your character is a murderer, or a spy, or a love interest, or is killed, as soon as you get the next script.

It was one of the more difficult productions I've worked on, and required a hell of a lot more time than I'm used to. But the show is high-quality and professional, with original score, sound effects, and a full cast of better-than-average actors, so I guess it's worth it in the end.

Wait a minute, check it out yourself, and you can be the judge.
Part I
Part II
Part III

Rish "Red Shirt" Outfield

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Not far from the truth

At least, not according to my mother.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Best Commercial of 2011

Last year, there was a cellphone commercial that nearly made me cry. It was trying to speak to people about why having a phone was important, but it ended up speaking me to be about the human condition. My friend Jeff is as opinionated and even more cynical than I am, and when that ad came on during an episode of "Fringe," I just knew that he'd bad-mouth it. He hates both cellphones AND commercials, so I knew it was bound to earn his wrath . . . but he didn't. He said, "Man, this is a great commercial! It almost makes me want to buy one of their phones."

And from that moment on, we were best friends.*

This week, I was at his house, watching the pilot episode of "Terra Nova," which I knew he only watched because I wanted to see it and probably stifled a groan through the whole thing. At one point, a Playstation commercial came on. Only we didn't know it was a Playstation commercial. Heck, I'd be blown away if ANYBODY knew it was a Playstation commercial. Eff those guys. Right up their A's.

But once I'd gone home, Jeff looked up the commercial (which ended midway through without having told us what it was about), and sent it to me. And I was floored.
Still am.

I'm not a gamer. I don't have a Wii or X-360 or Pi-Bot-93 or PS4. I did have two X-Boxes in Los Angeles, both of them stolen within three months of each other (by the same guy, who with any luck is being sodomized by a Rubik's Cube as we speak), thereby preventing me from truly appreciating video games in the 21st century. But this commercial makes me wish I were part of that culture. It makes me think I need a Playstation. It makes me wish I were Michael. It makes me want to be a better man.

Rish "To Michael" Outfield

*Give or take twenty years.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Son of the Year

I said "bullshit" to my mother today for the first time.

For some reason, my mom has a giant phobia/problem with profanity. Always has. You know you've made her as furious as she can possibly be if she ever resorts to it. To this point, I've managed to never use it around her (except for saying "bastardized" when talking about Spanish, and muttering "oh shit" when we crashed our car in 2004 or so). But today, I guess I got pushed too far, or she made me as furious as I can possibly be, I don't know.

Nobody under Thor's green earth can make me madder than my mom and dad. And they have some kind of speed-dial shortcut to getting me there faster than anybody else does. I went for a drive, worked on the show, ate a microwave burrito, went to the library, listened to an audiobook, took my nephew out to look for worms in the backyard, and talked to Big on the phone for half an hour . . . and I'm still mad.

Life is weird.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Stupid Thing of the Week II: Solar-powered Boogaloo

I've got something of a love-hate relationship with the town library. We didn't have a library in the village where I grew up (there was something called the Bookmobile, that would come to the elementary school every other week or so, and not only could students check out books from the small bus, but everyday townsfolk could too), and in Los Angeles, it was just so much of a bloody hassle to go the libraries there (I went a couple of times, but it just made more sense to get my books at used bookstores, or buy them new and resell them when I was finished).

Lately, though, I've been grabbing as many books as I can, as well as audiobooks, and kiddie stuff for my nephew or niece. Unfortunately, they've got something called late fees, for when a book is overdue, and many of the books on CD are so in demand that, if I return an overdue one, they won't let me re-check it out. So, I keep them until I finish, and pay the fees.

But I was surprised today to get an email from them saying I owed $19.80 in late fees, and I couldn't check out or renew anything until it was paid. I'd made a trip to the library just this pass Saturday to return three books, because my late fees were over seven dollars. But I couldn't figure out how my fees could have more than doubled in three days (one of which was a Sunday, and probably should count fee-wise, right?).

My nephew likes to go to the library with me, so I brought him along, and he wanted to take a whole stack of books, but first, I told him, I had to get to the bottom of this late fees thing. I stood in the line, and the boy stood beside me, and I explained the situation and my puzzlement. The late fees are ten cents per day, so unless I checked out, what, thirty books, all overdue, the huge late fee made no sense.

The woman told me that one of the books I had returned had been damaged, a nature book about the life cycle of frogs (which I'd checked out for the three year old, not me). "Damaged?" I asked, not really getting it. "I just brought that back on Saturday." The woman told me that they'd only just noticed it was damaged, and that I had to pay for it because it was ruined from water damage.

Well, I suppose that sort of thing is possible, but I told her that if I had to pay for the book, I might as well get to have the book, and she agreed. She went to get it, and I didn't remember getting it wet or putting it anywhere it might have gotten wet, and wondered if, in the last three days, something else might have happened to it.

She brought it out, and sure enough, there were water spots on the lower third of every page. But it was a big book for kids, and it was far from ruined. "Well, I'll buy it, I guess," I grumbled, "But it's not that badly damaged, and I honestly didn't get it wet." The woman looked at me, and at the book, and decided that she agreed, and said she could waive the fee. That was a relief, and I said as much, as well as, "I can't imagine how it could have gotten water on it, since I brought it here in my car just the other day." The woman typed something, and a child's voice beside me said, "I dropped it in the sprinklers." "What?" said I. My nephew said, "The sprinkler was on and I dropped it in on accident."

Unfortunately, the woman was still sitting there, and she heard him say that too. Sigh.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Stupid Thing of the Week

So, this weekend, I went out of town with my siblings (two sisters and a brother), as well as brother-in-law, cousin, and . . . friend of my cousin to a hotel and casino, like we did for New Year's. My sister had her birthday on Saturday, and that was the present she wanted.

It was a lot of fun, and we didn't stay very long (the whole trip lasted about twenty-four hours), so it didn't wear out its welcome, although my allergies went absolutely crazy on me, and I have yet to recover.

My sister took us to the Craps tables and we played that for a while, trying to figure it out (I'd never played before), and she ended up winning the most money out of us all (my brother lost the most money, which is sad since he's usually the lucky one and can't lose it all even if he wants to*), but I played Roulette for a while last night, and won back all the money I'd blown on Blackjack and Draw Poker, and then some.

Unfortunately, I hit a curb driving back this afternoon and blew out my two passenger side tires, which ate up all my winnings plus a great deal more. Sigh.

So, that's probably the best candidate for Stupid Thing of the Week, that I would win a little, but lose a lot with my lousy driving, but instead, I wanted to bring up an amusing experience we had at the Blackjack table. There were three or four different dealers, and though we didn't play long, they kept switching out/getting relieved by the next one. And each of these dealers was a little more uptight about rules or casino etiquette than the other. I'm not really experienced (or at least out of practice), so I didn't know you couldn't touch your cards with both hands, or put your drink on the table, or let your girlfriend touch your cards. But really minor things like placing your bet right on the word "Nugget" rather than above it or next to it, or scraping your cards to signal you'd like another instead of saying "Gimmee another" or "I'll take one more" were absolutely hammered into us with various levels of rigidity.

The worst of the dealers in this regard was a middle-aged Asian woman, who ran the table until I lost all my money, and sourly said things like "I no tell you how to play" when I'd ask, "Should I stay on a fifteen?" Math is not my strong suit, and she had little patience with me trying to figure out what Four plus Ace plus Three plus Seven was. Watching her try to explain how insurance worked confused me much worse than never hearing the term would have, and all of us evidently infuriated her when we laid our cards next to our chips instead of under them, or put them face up instead of face down (which didn't matter anyway since our turn was over).

At one point, a trio (perhaps quartet) of drunken twenty-somethings sat down at the table next to us, and they drew her ire more than we ever had. A loud, inebriated dude kept breaking her rules or not understanding her broken English, and she berated him and all of us for his behavior. "You no hate me, you hate game! If you hate game, you go and play other game!"

I thought he was a bit of a tool, especially when my brother told him how the side bet for a suited pair worked, and he snarled, "Are you trying to tell me what to do with my money?" But there was nothing he could do that didn't upset the dealer. She didn't want to pay him for having the matched pair because he didn't show her immediately, he was wasting time by not announcing he had busted the second it happened, and there's apparently a law against raising your cards a foot off the table to show your buddies.

"I no making the rules. All Blackjack like this," she said when he got frustrated.
She told him to watch his language, when he was disappointed she'd gotten a goddamn twenty, and when she got 21 and took all our money, he used that most ubiquitous of English words.
"No F-word!" she said loud enough for the other tables to hear. "You get mad if you want, you no say F-word at my table!"

The dude's blonde girlfriend looked at the dealer and said, "What about the C-word?"

The dealer said, "I no know bout that one."

To which, the dude said, "As in, you are a c**t."

I thought that was dang funny, but the little group of inebriates all got up and took off then, leaving just me and my brother playing.

In the end, since I lost every single one of my chips, I realize, they were the smart ones.

Rish "No Q-Word" Outfield

*That's no exaggeration. The last time we went to Vegas, my brother didn't want to have to stand in line at the Cashier, so he kept putting all of his winnings on Black or Red (or Odd or Even) on the Roulette table, just hoping to double it or lose it all . . . and the crazy bastard just kept winning. He'd do it again, and win again. Finally, my sister grabbed him and said, "I'LL stand in the Cashier's line, just don't throw away all that money!"

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Babysitter of the Year: The New Batch

My sister's second-born child turned one today.

Yesterday, I was babysitting both of her kids, and the older one (as usual) wanted to play with the turtles. He loves the turtles like I love Cherry Coke, Indiana Jones, and feeling sorry for myself. In the kitchen, I watched the boy try to juggle a large and a small one in front of the toddler, who kept reaching for them.

At one point, I said, "Quit hogging them, give one to your brother." So, for some reason, he handed the larger turtle over to the baby, and for some reason, the child immediately put the turtle in his mouth. Well, nature fought back, and the poor boy began screaming as the turtle clamped its jaws down on the 364 day old's lip. I had to pull it off him and see if I could offer him comfort until his mother came back.

There were tears and there was blood, and yeah, he shrieked for a minute or so, but it was nothing compared to how he screams at night, each and every night, as if he just returned from a Japanese ghost movie marathon.

I had to explain why my sister's son looked like Joaquin Phoenix for his birthday pictures today, but what's worse, when I was carrying him around the house today, I took him over to the turtle tank . . . and he immediately reached for one. Sigh.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Non-buyer's Remorse

Human nature is weird. About six months ago, Sideshow Collectibles announced a statue of Spike from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," coming later in the year. It was a large one, and if you ordered it off the Sideshow website, you'd get a swap-out vampire head for it. Spike was pretty much my favorite character on that show, and I wanted to pre-order the statue.
But I didn't. It wasn't cheap, and I had already pre-ordered another statue from them, so I didn't jump on it immediately. But I had plenty of time to gather up the cash.

At Comic-Con, I saw the Spike statue, and it was bigger than I would've guessed. Instead of making me think that was more bang for my buck, it made me worried that I would have no place to put it, and would have trouble shipping it to somebody if I decided to sell it. And was it really that cool in person? Wouldn't I mostly likely keep it in its box (because I had no place to display it anyway), and stick it in a closet someplace, like I have most of my statues? Wouldn't it be better not to spend the money than buy something and then have it collect dust in a closet that's already full to overflowing?

It became available to pre-order, and I had a window with it in there open on my internet every day since it became available. I'd look at it and weigh whether I wanted to buy it or not. I was buying another one, after all, and it would look lonely without another one beside it. The statue was cool, no question. But what if my financial situation continues unimproved, and I rue the day I spent so much cash on something like that, when I need it for food or crystal meth or child prostitutes or something.

The weeks became months, and I decided, around August, that it would be wiser not to buy it. It's just another THING that I really want, practically have to have, until I buy it and get it home, and wish I hadn't. I assume other people are like that, and it's not just me, but like Big pointed out in that one episode of our show, I am a freak, and nobody's like me.

So, I didn't buy it. I did keep the window open, though, just to keep the possibility out there, in case I, I don't know, stumbled across a suitcase full of cash in the rare occasion I leave my room. And yesterday, the item's availability on there went from "Pre-Order" to "Sold Out."

Damn, I thought. I really wanted to buy that.

Rish "Secret Shopper" Outfield

Friday, September 16, 2011

What's the opposite of a Master of the Macabre?

I keep meaning to mention it on the show, but over at the Horror Addicts website, they had a contest somewhat-recently, and I entered it. It was called "the Masters of the Macabre." The fun of the contest (and I hesitate to put "fun" in quotation marks, though I did consider it) is that only after you volunteered to participate did they tell you the exact specifications of the contest. Plus, everybody's specs were different. Basically, every contestant was given a phobia, a location, and an activity, and a story was to be written about it. It's quite clever, actually, though I could see a writer saddled with diarrheaphobia/Cleveland/wedding rehearsal throwing his hands in the air in frustration.

Regardless, my trio of requisites were: Entomophobia (fear of insects), hang glider, luau. It wasn't hard to come up with a story featuring those three things, but coming up with a GOOD story . . . well, that remains to be seen.Because I'm feeling melancholy today, I wonder if I really am much of a writer, and if not, if losing a contest or three is the best use of my time. I'm a person that's made a lot of mistakes (as opposed to the myriad perfect folks out there, I know), and because of my sunny personality, I dwell on those mistakes a lot.

Regardless, the webmaster and show host, Emerian Rich, has done a bang-up job with the contest, and you can check out my entry at this link. There are other contestants, who recorded their stories, and posted them here. Apparently, you can vote for your favorite. Enjoy?

Rish

Monday, September 12, 2011

Star Wars Changes

As y'all know, George Lucas* has implemented even more changes to the Star Wars Trilogy for the new Blue-Ray releases. This makes, what, the fourth wave of changes?

There's no point in complaining about it. That's being done all over the internet by people much younger than me (see, it's their turn. My generation wasted our breath on it long ago, and the ones who care about such things are already converted. And George ain't gonna be swayed. Not ever.

But in looking over some of the new changes, I don't find any as egregious as the 1997 Emperor scream, the 2002 digital addition of Dakota Fanning as one of the Bounty Hunters, or the 2004 replacement of Sebastian Shaw with Hayden Christensen, and there's actually one that makes the film trilogy better.

The scene is a slight alteration to the scene in the first film where the Death Star destroys Princess Leia's home planet of Alderaan. It always bothered me that the world, home of the birthplace of the Rebel Alliance, would put up absolutely no resistance when attacked. In this new enhancement, we see that Leia was lying about her home having no weapons, and it makes the Empire seem a bit more quick on their feet than before.

Nicely done, Lucasfilm.

Rish Outfield

*Or is it Lucas, do you think? Or just a bunch of over-eager ILM employees looking for something to do?)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Rish Outfield, Screenwriter

Not long ago, I had a conversation with a friend of mine about my writing career. I guess I should've put "career" in quotes, but let's not be mean, okay? He is an entertainment lawyer and film executive in Los Angeles now, and our dreams had been, ever since I met him, to go to Hollywood and make movies. I would write, and he would direct. Or produce. Or something.

Well, I moved out out there, a few years back, and accomplished very little in that arena. Then I moved away, my eyes forever glued to the rear-view mirror. I still want to be a screenwriter, but a few years ago, I stopped writing scripts and started to focus on short stories. My reasoning (and everybody who knows me has heard this a dozen times) is that a short story, when finished, is a completely WHOLE thing, a work of art in itself. A screenplay, however, is still unfinished, even when you finish it, because it's just a blueprint for a movie, an outline for a greater whole. And I was tired of writing scripts (that I thought were really good), only to have nothing to show for it afterward. It's not easy to hand a script to your uncle, when he asks for something of mine to read, and have him get enjoyment out of it.

Actually, I did do a bit of screenwriting professionally a couple of years back, but that was work-for-hire stuff, other people's ideas, and not what I'd call enjoyable, writing for fun. Stories are fun.

And I haven't really minded no longer being a screenwriter. I've focused on my podcast and on writing short stories, and I'm as creatively satisfied as I've ever been. Except that every once in a while, I'll have an idea, and I know it'll only work as a movie (or a short film, or at least an audio production). Most of the time when that happens, I shrug and say, "This one is for the Rish Outfield of an alternate universe, who still lives in L.A., works in the film business, and spends thousands on coke and hookers every month."

And then, I had this conversation with my friend. He was probably trying to give me a peptalk, or express disappointment in my life choices, or even just a backhanded compliment, but he told me, basically, that I was really talented, and might have made it as a screenwriter, but had given up. "Don't worry," he said, "Not everybody has what it takes to make it out here in L.A.. The film business takes a certain kind of person, with the kind of persistence you just don't have."

Well, that really bothered me. To be told that I could've been a real cop and I blew it was no divine revelation, but the truth hurts, as they say, and his words ate at me for the next few days. I thought about one of those Alternate Reality Rish ideas I'd had a few years back, and how I told it to Big and convinced myself--if not him--that it was a totally great idea for a movie, but it's a shame I don't do screenwriting anymore.

But why not? How hard would it be to write it down and type it up and send it to Ian and say, "See? I'm half the loser you think I am! And maybe half the writer you think I am too, but at least I wrote something!" And so, I did.

For the last couple of months, whenever I write, instead of stories, it's been this screenplay. And because that's what I studied in school, and virtually NOBODY I know also writes scripts and hence cannot criticize my work, it was way easier than I remember it being. And today, the 20th of August, I finished it.

I don't know if it's good or not. Big and I will have to talk in a future episode about taking a good idea and turning it into something mediocre, and that may well be what I've done. But at least I finished it. At least I still had it in me. And that makes me feel, if not good, at least that I'm not ready for the glue factory just yet.

So there.

Rish Outfield, Screenwriter

P.S. Of course, it's totally possible that he was trying TO motivate me, and I went out and did exactly what he hoped I'd do. If so, he's the kind of clever person we need making decisions on movies, rather than all the committees and politicians and pencil-pushers out there.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Stupid Thing of the Week

Last year, I established some sort of precedent by taking my niece to an amusement park the Thursday before school started. We had a good time, and all this summer, she kept asking if we'd do it again. I didn't really want to, since I'd taken her to movies and plays really recently, but she wanted it to be some kind of tradition, and you know how weak-willed I am.

So, we went, the Thursday before school starts, and drove all the way up there (more than an hour's drive), and enjoyed ourselves, even though it was in the upper nineties and sunny the whole darn day. As the day ended, and we were passing signs that said, "This ride closes at 9:45," she asked me what time it was, and in pulling out my phone to answer, I realized I didn't have my keys.

Oh no, I'd lost my keys on one of the rides.

We stayed in the line while my mind scrambled for a solution. Did I lose my keys recently, or early on? Wouldn't I have worried about my keys on the ride that went upside-down? Did I even have my keys coming into the park?

I decided I must have left them in the door of the trunk when I opened it to get sunscreen, and either they were still there, or somebody had spied them and recognized the opportunity for a free joyride in front of them. Either way, I was too worried to stick out that line and get on another ride. We made our way all the way through the park, and across the parking lot, where, whew!, my car was still parked there. No keys, though.

I had a spare key, but it was at home, sitting by the door on a spare key ring, doing me a fat lot of good now. Why hadn't I gotten one of those magnetic keyholders to stick under the frame somewhere, so it would drop off when I hit a bump and be gone when I really needed it?

The car doors were unlocked, and I began to suspect that the reason for that was that I'd closed the keys in the trunk, and thus been unable to lock the car. Pretty fortunate, really. Because my trunk won't open except for with a key, I thought I was screwed, but when I put the back seat down, I saw a little crawlspace there into the trunk. I gave my niece my phone to use as a flashlight, and she went spelunking until she found the keys.

I was relieved. It would've been mighty headachey to have to call my mom or sister and have them get my spare key and then drive sixty miles to meet us just so we could also drive home. As a reward, I took my niece back into the park to go on one more ride (she chose the one we'd been in the line for last anyway), and then out to get horribly overpriced ice cream at Dairy Queen.

Still worth it, though.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

As Long As You Will Always Be My Biggest Fan

Jani Lane, the lead singer for Eighties hair band Warrant, just died. Dude was only forty-seven.
I wrote this entry up once already, but lost it when the program crashed. And I considered not even bothering a second time.

See, I wasn't a huge fan of Warrant growing up. I never had one of their albums, or owned a Warrant t-shirt, or saw them in concert, or had my way with a babe whilst listening to "Cherry Pie."

Heck, I didn't even GET that "Cherry Pie" song, except that some of my classmates seemed to really like it, and give it significance far beyond my ken.

But I did write a screenplay once in which the main female character hears her first bit of human music . . . and that song was "Heaven" by Warrant. And while everybody around her dismisses the song as sappy, hollow, trite crap from an era of excess and kitsch, she thinks it's simply wonderful.

So I had to say something. I loved that song when I was a lad. And I love it now. And Jami Lane wrote and performed it. So I tip my hat to him and his untimely death.

No matter what your friends say.

Rish "Better Than Winger" Outfield

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Annual SDCC "Name That Celebrity" Game

It's that time again, kids, time to try and figure out who I was taking a picture of at the San Diego Comic-Con. You see, for some reason, two-thirds of the photos I take at panels do not come out. My sister got me a new digital camera for Harrison Ford's birthday, but it somehow takes even crappier pictures than my old camera. Lucky thing I took both, huh?

Sadly, my memory was full, so I deleted hundreds of bad panelists, costumers, and display to make room, not thinking they'd come in handy for this game. So, here are fourteen bad pics for your wooing peasure. Good luck!

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.
14.
I probably ought to offer up my camera to the "winner," but a bunch of mostly-crappy pictures is better than none at all. :)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Parsec-Nominated Rish Outfield (Redux)

I could've called this post "A Nice Surprise" also. I got an email today, from a podcast I lent my voice to, expressing disappointment that his show didn't get nominated for a Parsec Award (the speculative fiction podcasting awards), and he included all the shows that did, for some reason.

And the Dunesteef was on there. Thrice.

We're nominated for Best Speculative Fiction Audio Drama (Short Form) for our production of "A Place So Foreign" by Cory Doctorow (which Big produced), and for "This Must Be The Place" by Elliot Bangs (produced by Bryan Lincoln). There were many readers, musicians, and voice actors*, without whom the episodes couldn't have happened. And the most credit, of course, has to go the generous writers, who created two entertaining and unique time travel stories (both with the word "place" in the title), and lent them to us for practically nothing. Kudos.

I am worried about being nominated in an "Audio Drama" category, since that's not really what we do on our show, but they classified anything with two or fewer readers simply as "Story," and anything with three or more readers as "Audio Drama." Somebody somewhere will probably pitch a fit, but until the powers over at the Parsecs create a "Fullcast Reading" category, that's where we find ourselves.

Our other nomination was for Best Speculative Fiction Magazine or Anthology Podcast. That's kind of amazing, since it's a recognition of our whole body of work, and it's greatly appreciated.

I said last year--and still mean it--that it's an honor just to be nominated, but we do work awfully hard on our show**, and it's nice that somebody noticed.

Still be nice to have groupies, though.

Rish "Big-Head" Outfield

*Including my niece, who wouldn't say "hell" when a story called for it, so I had her say "shell" and trimmed the "sh" when she wasn't looking. Tee hee.

**But not enough to get a show out every week, sadly.

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Nice Surprise

It was brought to my attention (by a fan . . . if it's believable that I have fans) that one of my little 100 word stories was produced by the Drabblecast this week. The story is "Mommy Issues," and while I was thrilled to have Norm Sherman read it, it was a bit puzzling too.

See, I sent in that particular story (or "drabble," as they're known, at least in places heavily influenced by Monty Python) to the Drabblecast many moons ago . . . and got a rejection on it, if I recall. So, I just went ahead and posted it in their forums, which I used to do a lot more than I do now.*

The rule is, any drabble or story posted there is fair game for use in the podcast or by other forum users, so it's not without precedent, but I found it odd. But a good odd. Like pointy bosoms.

Rish Ezekiel Outfield

*We got our own forums less than a week ago, and I've already started feeling guilty for not checking it out in a couple of days.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Really Odd Thing of the Week

I was at Jeff's yesterday, and he told me he'd taken his children to see CAPTAIN AMERICA, and while they liked it, they all agreed that THOR was better. Their reasoning . . . well, THOR, when you come down to it, was based in reality, but CAP was mostly fantasy. The children were already familiar with the pantheon of Norse gods and "believed" in them, if you will (since the family's cats are named after some of them) . . . but World War II? The Nineteen-Forties? America? These were totally foreign, made-up concepts to the kids.

And they couldn't really happen like THOR could, right?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

In Brief

I'm at Comic-Con right now, hanging around a McDonalds that has free internet access, so I have very little time to blog . . . but all anyone here is talking about is Amy Winehouse's death, which just happened over in England.  And could I just say one short thing?

Winehouse was twenty-seven, dead of a drug overdose in her London home.*  Now, I'm no fan of Ms. Winehouse, not caring for her music, and certainly not for her public persona, so I have my bias . . . but could we please not view her death as something glamorous, poetic, tragic, or romantic? Just this one time, let's not look to this incident as an example, or as something to wax all wistful and morose about?

Talented or not, this woman had so many chances to redeem herself, to slam on the brakes, or at least slightly change direction, but she proudly waved her stubborn unwillingness to compromise like a banner. The dinosaurs had their chance, Hammond.

Sometimes, dead is better.

For example, over in Gotham City, there's that ultra-rich spoiled womanizing titular head of Wayne Enterprises, basically the male equivalent of Paris Hilton (though better-looking). This guy constantly engages in crazy unsafe behavior, such as skiing, skydiving, hang gliding, reckless driving, and being seen with European supermodels. He has broken bones, been in comas, head wounds, even had a spinal injury, yet he keeps on doing all these idiotic, thrill-seeking things. It's only a matter of time before Mr. Wayne ends up on a slab somewhere, and I hope nobody gasps and says, "The world has tragically lost a true hero today. Let's all strive to be just like him."

That's just my couple pennies; you may go on with your weekend.**

Rish

*Afterward determined to be due to alcohol poisoning.

**So, a couple of years later, I got a comment (see below) that I was a bit of a callous douche (my words) to make such a statement.  And it gave me pause.  Not being a fan, I was outside of the conversation that was being had at McDonalds, about how heart-breaking the news was.  I only knew Winehouse as among the most outspoken celebrity "lifestyle advocates," as they seem to be calling it now, and said what I said about it.
And yeah, while making light of the incident in my way was pretty insensitive, the years that followed have shown us that my hope that people not romanticize her death went nowhere.  There are cover albums, tribute songs, documentaries, statues, and various testimonials as to how inspiring she was.  It goes without saying that more people care about Amy Winehouse than ever will care about me.  But my statement stands, that I wish we wouldn't glamorize these things, elevate such incidents to the status of Shakespearean tragedy, and choose our role models more carefully.
Winehouse was a huge influence on Adele Adkins, and I adore Adele, so . . . maybe I too need to think twice.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Comic-Con Report (in progress)

7/22/11

So, here I am, sitting where I was a year ago, and doing what I did then. Stability, I suppose. Or pathetic, if you’re the other kind of person.

I ought to take the hours I have waiting for Steven Spielberg’s panel, and write about my experiences in the last day or so, but in the time it took me to walk here, I couldn’t help but come up with an idea for a story, where a kid gets a cellphone and gets a very short message in a stranger’s voice (from no readable number) that says, “Don’t change your phone number. No matter what you do--” Then it’s over. He listens to it, and is pretty sure the voice is familiar, but he doesn’t know who it’s from.

No second call comes . . . for a year. Once again, he wakes up and there’s another message on there for him. This time, it’s twice as long. “Make sure you keep the same number, as long as you can. I’ll call again, but this is the only number I have for you. Chad, this is--” Then it’s over. Again, the voice is familiar (he no longer has last year’s message to compare them), but he can’t place it. The man’s voice sounds older, but concerned, deadly serious.

Chad’s phone breaks, but he does insist on keeping the same number when he gets a new one. But the guy doesn’t call back. For a year.

This time, when Chad wakes up, he realizes it’s about the same time as the guy called last year. Might even be the same day. He checks his messages, sure enough, exactly one year later. This time, the guy talks longer (twice as long as before). “Alright, here I am again. Got your message, so you still have the same number. Keep it. Chad, I’m calling from the future. I don’t have much time, but I want to give you some advice. In 2013, you get invited to go to the Grand Canyon with your friend Nathan. Don’t go. In 2016, a coworker, Annie, offers to split a lottery ticket with you. Do it. In 2012 or so, be careful with--” But the message ends.

He plays it for his friend. The friend says, “How did you do that?” “Do what?” “With your voice.” He realizes that the voice IS familiar. His friend thinks it’s a joke, but Chad doesn’t. Sadly, 2012 is coming right up. He breaks his leg in a motor biking stunt. He wonders why future him didn’t think to warn him about that. Douche. He’s saved the last message, and waits for the year to come around. He stays up, by the phone, but falls asleep at his desk, waiting. He is awakened by the ring, but, confused, knocks the phone off the desk. He scrabbles for it, but misses the call.

A message is left, though, longer this time. “Chad, it’s me calling again. Call me your future advisor, or something. I’ve got things to warn you about, but I wonder if you need me to repeat the last three. They were Grand Canyon, lottery ticket, motor biking. So, let’s see. There’s a girl, named Helena, that you meet in the summer, same summer as Nathan’s trip. She really likes you. Don’t screw it up. Your cousins sell you a car in 2015 or so. It’s a lemon, pass on it. There’s a job you get around the same time, maybe a year before or later, called Omnitek or -trek or -corp or something. They go out of business and you don’t get a couple checks. I’d skip that. You lose your sister’s engagement ring the day before her wedding. Just don’t offer to ke--” Click. That’s the whole message.

His sister is twelve. He has a lot of cousins. He’s a teenager, not looking for work. These didn’t help him. Especially the damn motor biking one. His friend Nathan does invite him to go to the Grand Canyon with him, but he declines. Nothing happens. No disaster, nothing. He missed out on a sweet trip, is all. But the next year, he stays up chugging energy drinks, and when the phone rings, he answers it. “Chad?”

. . .

Rish here again. So, I would’ve been here a while ago (and hence farther up in the line), but my alarm didn’t go off. I was paranoid about it last night, because my uncle said you could use your cellphone to wake yourself up, and I figured I’d try it, but he woke me at five-something the next morning, and I was in the shower when my alarm would have gone off. So last night, I set up the alarm to go off in five minutes. It worked fine, so I set it for one hour. I went to sleep, and sure enough, it woke me, and I got up and got everything ready for the next morning. I set the alarm to wake me . . . and it didn’t go off. I overslept (though not by even an hour), but it pisses me off and vexes me, that the alarm works fine when it doesn’t matter, but doesn’t work when I need it to.

Now I’m sitting outside on their poor excuse for grass (astroturf, by comparison, is much more green and realistic), typing this. I had prepared last night by opening several submitted stories in several windows, so I could be reading them in this line, but when I turned on my computer, the windows all became “Server Not Found.” That doesn’t happen at home; they bring up exactly what you were looking at the last time you shut down, and only needs an internet connection if you refresh the window. So, sorry to you submitters, we won’t be accepting/rejecting your stories soon.

It was about this time last year (perhaps this very weekend) that I first began to call this device “my craptop.” I was so angered last summer, sitting here, typing something, only to have the computer restart (for no apparent reason), that I’ve been saving every minute or so whilst typing this (though it hasn't restarted yet). Also, I remember being really, really frustrated with not being able to get on the internet last year, despite the system saying I was connected. Once I was inside Hall H, it would connect, then disconnect thirty seconds later, with no warning or reason (after all, I was sitting still, not moving even an inch, so how was I losing the signal?), unable to send an email without losing the message.

I still call it my craptop, though.

This is really strange. Even though the idea of Comic-Con is a huge gathering of losers, virgins, and geeks, I’ve seen genuinely attractive girls in the double-digits. There are three within view in this very line. To be honest, I’m usually REALLY suspicious of a pretty girl at a convention like this. The first conventions I went to were little ones in Los Angeles, and I found that the hot women were all paid to be there, and resented the hell out of us overweight/skinny mouth-breathing lower lifeforms. It bummed me out to find that, if one was being nice to you, it was because she wanted you to buy something. Sigh.

But here, there are some cute girls who SEEM to genuinely like Anime, or Batman, or Star Wars, or Phineas and Ferb, or at least “Twilight” and Super Mario.*

This Comic-Con was much more difficult to attend than years previous. I never knew how good I had it, because I came in 2005, did a little work, and was invited back every year since. Except this year. I had no ticket, and as the days neared, I realized I’d have to spent a tremendous amount of money to buy a scalped one. Luckily, I got the potential for some cash on Saturday, and that decided me. I still spent an obscene amount (not that I don’t every year, but this was before I even left), for a ticket, and I sort of shake my head at my own naivete, since I paid a guy to meet with me and give me his pass, trusting that he would go out of his way to meet me, give it to me, and we'd go our separate ways.

But, that’s how it worked out, and I guess I got lucky.

The sun is shining, but it’s not at all hot. In fact, there’s a breeze constantly blowing from the Pacific, that makes it almost cold at night or while driving. Nevertheless, I did get sunburned, from my many miles of walking, but not badly enough to hurt much. The crowds have been thick--as usual--but not nearly as smelly as I remember from years past. Perhaps that will change as the hours become days. The one thing I’ve always hated about this thing has not changed, and that’s the thick crowds of people jammed into the convention hall, barely moving, and then the person in front of you stops, to check their phone, to take a picture, to gawk at a chick dressed as Itchy, Chewbacca’s father. There are many, many things I hate, but that’s up there really high on the list. I hate it so much, it makes me very nearly fill with the uncontrollable urge to kill.

But I digress. If you’ve been to SDCC, you know what I’m talking about.

So, right now, I’m here in the line to Hall H, where the TINTIN panel will soon begin. I don’t give sailor’s moon about the Tintin franchise or characters, but its director, Steven Spielberg, is going to be here, and that’s kind of special. There’s a little kid in line behind me, and I’ve chatted with him a bit. He’s kind of lost and tired, since you’d have to be as a six year old at Comic-Con. He recognized the ship Serenity on my t-shirt and told me he was at the “Castle” panel last year and asked Nathan a question. I vaguely remember a child dressed as Mal Reynolds, and that was him. I told him that he’d be able to tell his grandchildren that he saw Steven Spielberg once, since that’s going to be significant forty years from now.

I think a bit about bringing a kid to something like this, like my niece or my nephew. It SEEMS like it might be fun, but probably wouldn‘t be. I did pick up my nephew a couple of lightsabers to break like he did the last three I bought him. I try to be a good uncle.

So, the line moved MUCH faster than last year’s, and here we are, in Hall H, waiting for the panel. Unfortunately, my craptop still hasn’t found the internet signal yet. That frustrates me, but it serves me right for not spending a thousand dollars on a real laptop.

For a few minutes, I was able to connect, but the presentation started before too long. Luckily, I was able to call up those stories to read in the next little while. The panel I saw was the TINTIN one, and both Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson were here. I’m a fan. Until the SPIDER-MAN panel many hours from now, there’s nothing I’m particularly excited by, but I’ll sit for a while and type and watch, because once you leave, you’re done. At least, that’s how it was last year. Perhaps it’s different this time. Yesterday, I walked right into Hall H, with absolutely no line. Of course, nobody cared about the panel that was starting (and it wasn’t advertised). Anyhow, I’m stuck here for a while, and may type a bit more.

The folks next to me are criticizing J.K. Rowling’s writing style. I don’t know how that’s possible, unless you’re talking about “Ron said darkly”s. But ah well, not everybody has to love everything else. I remember having a conversation with someone who loved the Dakota Fanning WAR OF THE WORLDS and the MATRIX sequels, but hated the LORD OF THE RINGS flicks.

‘Course, that guy was something of a nutsack, but ah well.

Saw the FRIGHT NIGHT panel. You know, I’m no fan of 3-D , but what I hate more is when somebody acts like I’m old or no longer “with it” for saying 3-D doesn’t work. It’s not like saying “Twilight is stupid” or “Bruce Campbell is handsome;” in the footage they showed, you could see four headlights when a car turned its lights on. There’s no way you can tell me that I’m wrong in that. There should only be two headlights, sunshine. Go eff yourself.

Chris Sarandon was the moderator for the FN panel, and he REALLY didn’t want to be there. It was like a cheerleader waking up in my bed, folks. He might have been quite ill and on medication, maybe that was it.

So, I used to want to make movies for a living (and just between you and me, I still do). But watching this stuff makes me wonder. They put the writers on some of these panels, and nobody wants to ask them questions or hear what they have to say. Kind of a microcosm for how it actually is with writers, I guess.

It is starting to really smell here. I guess that is inevitable with this many people in such a small space for so long. I wrote a story about a bunch of men in a prison cell for two months, and honestly, how awful would the smell be? Maybe your nose would no longer detect B.O. and feces and bad breath after that long, like people that grew up on a dairy or an abattoir.

I dislike people as a rule, but I wonder what it would be like to be my friend Jeff, who openly despises people, to be stuck here, jammed in with other folks in an area that would comfortably fit half as many. Did I ever mention the guy I knew who elbowed a child in the face at Comic-Con 2009? Despite there being free pins and bright colors and people dressed as heroes and complimentary attendance for children, the kid was wailing and making a scene. My friend saw this little shit throwing a fit surrounded by hundreds of other uncomfortable, upset, tired, aching, irritated people, and he just threw out his elbow, almost reflexively, to “give the brat something to cry about,” as my dad used to say.**

Comic-Con is not for everybody. Having had to sacrifice money, gas, time, and leisure pretty much every visit here (except for the first time, when I just drove down from Los Angeles), I feel like I’ve demonstrated my . . . I don’t know, worthiness, to be here. And there are folks who have given up a great deal more--like the guys in front of me in the line today who flew here from Australia--just to experience it.

Then there’s the people who drove up from Chula Vista, or rode the trolly in from their place here in San Diego, that complain. It’s like the people I’d meet in L.A. that were from Canada, or Britain, or India, or Venezuela, or Ireland, who thought our country was so lame, or so unfair, or so ugly, or so racist, or so unfriendly, or so political, or so cramped. I’d always think, “Well, go the fuck home, then. Seriously, sir or ma’am, if your home planet of Hoth was so much better, get on the first space cruiser back and start to civically improve those snowfields."

So, the panels I saw today were myriad. TINTIN. 30 MINUTES OR LESS. UNDERWORLD 4. TOTAL RECALL. FRIGHT NIGHT. THE RAVEN. ATTACK THE BLOCK. HAYWIRE. GHOST RIDER 2. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. I guess TINTIN was my favorite, but as it was the first panel, I wonder how much of it was that.

One of the panels had a bunch of young “comedians,” all of whom are successful and have TV shows or movie roles under their belts, not to mention fan followings, and seriously, not a single thing they said was funny. Yet, everything they said got a laugh from the crowd, and I guess that also makes me old, just like the 3-D and the Michael Bay editing. Yet, Bryan Cranston said one very dry thing, that struck me as terribly funny, and he’s a serious actor.

Although, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish busted each others’ bollocks in their panel, and the stuff they said was really funny. So, maybe it’s all relative.

Oh, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN really is a reboot. Sad.

I’m tired now. I guess I no longer care to try and reconnect to the internet for the hundred and eighth, ninth, or tenth times. I need to get a job and buy a better laptop, a better camera, and one of those phone/padd/videogame system/things.

What have I done with my life?

Rish "Prince of Geeks" Outfield

*Let’s talk about this for a minute. I speak the truth, when I say that there’s no such thing as a pretty fangirl. But, I’ve seen lovely, thin, shapely, or actually beautiful girls at this Con--and in this line--who seem to be here by choice, and smiling while standing in the line or taking a photo with the dude dressed as Killer Croc. So, it sounds like I’m wrong. Except that I’m not. It’s like the chupacabra or Nessie . . . they MAY exist, but it’s too hard to verify.
And it’s because of the difference between girls and boys. And the differences in life. A pretty girl has doors open up and venues present themselves to her that are far from reading Fantasy books and dressing as She-Ra for Halloween. Just like, if I had been born good-looking, I never would have focused so much attention on comic books, or "Star Trek," or writing, or anything above the waistline, mister. And it’s not really fair, but that’s the way it is. I once saw a movie--and I’ll not mention the title--but they cast this beautiful actress to play this geeky comic book lover, and it rang falser than me with a big bra on. It bothered me much more than it should have, to hear this girl deliver this comics-fan dialogue, because you could tell she didn’t know what she was saying, but just reading memorized lines, and it, frankly, ruined the whole movie for me. Because it wasn’t real. Surely, you’ve seen that before, whether it’s Denise Richards playing a nuclear scientist, or Sofia Coppola playing a mafia princess, or Megan Fox in any English-speaking role. Life has taught me that these are not genuine performances. So you can say that you look like Paulina Porizkova but you absolutely adore "Robotech Macross," but I will never, ever believe you. Sorry.

**This is not (for once) a criticism of my dad. I cried way too often and easily as a boy, and I’ve noticed it around my niece and nephews, that there is a temptation to provide a reason for them to be crying, if they’re crying anyway. I am quite fond of my nephew, but there are times when he is being loud, or just being bad, or in want of attention, and there is the temptation to spank him, as a sort of way to release the pressure of being around somebody throwing a fit like that. Have YOU ever sucker-punched a strange child at a comic convention?
I know I have.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Tale of Two Trailers

So, the other day, my sister and I took my nephew to CARS 2, the flick they all said was the [Asian racial slur] in the armor of Pixar Animation Studio. And yeah, it wasn't the greatest, but was still a hell of a lot better than most of the animated features people tell me are "really, really good." I liked the "Toy Story" short and the spy stuff, especially in the first half hour. My nephew had to be taken to the bathroom no less than three times during the showing, and ran around the seats for another third of it, so I imagine it'll be six months or so before I take him to another flick.

But what I opened up this blog to talk about was the trailers immediately preceding the film. Specifically, two trailers, one for THE MUPPETS and one for WINNIE THE POOH.*

While both do the exact same thing that infuriates me when music groups do it (calling a release that is not their debut album by the band name), I was really surprised by my reactions to the trailers.While THE MUPPETS presentation is mostly about muppety shenanigans, unnecessary CGI, and kicks to the face, stomach, and nuts, it does act as a sort of introduction to the main characters (namely Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, and Animal) to the new generation of kids that may not know them. While it beggars belief that a ten year old wouldn't know who these characters are, there are a mountain of choices for every child's entertainment--most of those far stupider and less wholesome than Jim Henson's quaint crew--and unless a parent makes an active effort to present the Muppets to their child, they're liable to be overlooked in favor of Spongebob Squarepants, iCarly, Dora Explora, The Innuendo Twins Who Cannot Act, Hannah Montana, and Belinda Bunt.

While the trailer's narration is set up to introduce the Muppets to youngsters, Jason Segal and Amy Adams' characters serve as the draw for adult viewers, making at least a token attempt at pointing out that the felt and plastic (and CGI) creatures that surround them are beloved fixtures to audience members in their thirties and forties.

So, it didn't bother me all that much that there was little in the way of recognition factor or call-backs in THE MUPPETS trailer. But the message was clear: this is not your father's Muppet movie. Even though I think the Muppets are pretty cool (though preferring those that live on Sesame Street and pre-Prequels Yoda), I recognized that this film is not meant for me, and doesn't merit my eight dollars and fifty cents (before 3-D).

Hence, it was absolutely jaw-dropping to discover that the trailer for WINNIE THE POOH was entirely designed to get parents and even grandparents to take their kids and go see it, because once upon a time we were children, carefree, guileless, and playful . . . that believed in the 100-Acre Wood, and more importantly, in magic.The 21st Century alt-rock tune by Keane, "Somewhere Only We Know," plays to amazing success** under images of HAND-FUGGIN-DRAWN animation, depicting Pooh Bear, Owl, Piglet, and Eeyore, looking and sounding exactly as they did thirty-odd years ago. Nostalgia overwhelmed me as I beheld these timeless characters (oh, and Tigger as well, I'd sort of blocked him out because I hate him and all he represents) acting as they did at the dawn of time, and indeed, the way they always will, with no need for a Hufflelump or Piglet's overbearing obese wife Sow, or Sloutchy the Mischievous Wallaby or Lumpy or Tigrita or Vaginamonster, or whatever else came in all the years since.

Come back with us, friend, the trailer seemed to be saying, "They're all still the same . . . , and deep down . . . beneath the mortgage worries, stress headaches, and erectile dysfunction . . . so are you!

Oh, and who is their owner, and our guide into the Milne realm? None other than Christopher Mo-Fo Robin, still looking and sounding as he used to, not to be ignominiously replaced by a younger, female version, because real boys don't play with innocent stuffed animals and their imagination, but with guns, video game controllers, and battling robots.

When it was over, I wiped away a tear and shook my head in wonder. You see, I never was a Winnie the Pooh kid. I liked Spider-man and "Gilligan's Island" and stuff with monsters in it, and didn't really relate to Pooh's unapologetic avarice and fatness (nowadays is another story). Maybe it was all too British for me, since I didn't get BEDNOBS & BROOMSTICKS or ARISTOCATS or BATTLE OF THE PLANETS either.*** Neither did I have siblings that adored those characters, or children of my own begging to be read about the honey tree and the blustery day and the all-too-effective suppository.

So the trailer's tugging at my heartstrings was a trick, since I don't have warm nostalgic memories of Milne's creations to fall back on. Even so, that's the movie I would see of the two. And in a world where movie trailers remind me more and more often that I am no longer in their target demographic, it's doubly-surprising to be spoken to in such a way. And nice to be tossed a bone once in a while.

Rish "Little Roo" Outfield

*I also saw the execrable trailer for HAPPY FEET 2, but cannot comment upon it without the foulest of blasphemous profanities.

**And why that song, with absolutely no resonance to a little kid, when they could easily have chosen Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift, or one of the now-dozen Disney Channel sexpots that absolutely cannot sing, but all have album contracts and mini-music videos played during the commercials on that station?

***That was an (admittedly-poor) joke.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Babysitter of the Year: The Early Days

It was my sister's anniversary over the weekend, and I volunteered to tend my nephew (the three year old one; it blows my mind to think I now have more than one) on Friday so she could go out to eat with her husband. But I had an appointment later that day, so I had to drop him off with my mom before that time--well before that time, if I knew what was good for me--and planned accordingly. What I didn't plan for was that everything--

"Everything?"

"EVERYTHING!!!!"

--takes an insanely long time when you're dealing with a three year old. His car seat has some kind of Rubik's Cube/MC Escher design, making it impossible to easily install in an automobile, and it takes forever to get him in and out of it*, and he needs to either be carried or placed in the cart of his choosing to get in and out of anyplace. Oh, and when I took him to lunch, he wanted nothing on the menu . . . until I'd ordered something for me, then he wanted me to order some for him. Not so he could eat it, mind you, but so he could smear it all over his clothes, chair, and face.

We were in Target, where I just had enough time to buy an item and get out when he announced that he had to go to the bathroom. Not soon, and not in a minute . . . right now. So we raced (literally running from the back of the store to the front) to the bathroom, so he could go into the handicapped stall and tell me I was not welcome in there whilst he moved his wee bowels, but demanding I come right away when his behind needed wiping.
We got back to the car. To my horror, I not only had missed my window for getting the lad back to his grandmother so I could make my appointment, I had very nearly become late for the appointment itself. So, I raced (not literally this time, though I did exceed the speed limit) back to town, calling my mother and asking her to meet me there, then calling the clinic to tell them I was going to be just a tad late. They told me I had a five minute window and if I wasn't there within those five minutes, my appointment would be given to someone else.

Well, I drove as fast as I dared (in retrospect, I wondered if I mightn't ought to have driven really really fast in an attempt to shave off a few seconds), and pulled into the nearest available spot. I looked at the clock. "Crap," I said, then jumped out of the car and ran (raced, if you will) into the clinic, only to find that I was seven minutes late and indeed, my slot was no longer mine.

I trudged back to the car, where the boy was still strapped into the back seat, probably imagining he had been abandoned to bake in the sun like the babies you hear about in all those awful news stories (usually on FOX). I got back into the driver's seat, and my nephew said, "You said shit."

"What?"

"Why did you sayed shit?"

I realized what he was talking about. "No, I said crap. There's a difference."

"Nuh uh. You sayed shit. What happen?"**

"Nothing," I said. "Looks like I can take you to the pet store now."

While he whooped with delight, I had to admit, while I think I said "crap," I had meant "shit."

Rish Tiberius Outfield


*But they are necessary, apparently. You may remember the last time I drove him around without one, and how I very nearly caused the end of the entire fugging world.

**Look, I realize that I want to kill every mother loving one of you when you (incorrectly) think it's funny to attribute this sort of cutesy child-English to internet cats and now you think my finding it amusing when my nephew does it makes me a hypocrite . . . but it's not the same thing. Not even remotely. You bastard.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Amusement Park Memory

My buddy Jeff took me to the local (seventy miles away) amusement park today, since he has an odd number in his family and (wisely) thought it would be easier if an even number was going. We had a lot of fun and I was very happy to have been his plus-one for the day.

There's a ride called the Tidal Wave there that's like a pendulum, going back and forth and filling ye olde genitals with a not unpleasant falling sensation. I used to be able to ride it endlessly . . . before the dark times, before the Empire. But riding it today, I was reminded of a time not too many years ago when a couple friends of mine and I went to Six Flags Magic Mountain together and rode their equivalent ride.

It was Matthew, MacDonald, and me, and we spent the whole day enjoying the rides, the California sun, and the idea of wringing the last drops of joy from our youth. Well, not Matthew, since he was a dozen years younger than MacDonald, but still more mature than both of us.

I was delighted to see a Tidal Wave-esque ride there, and demanded we all get on it. We sat down on the farthest seat to the back, since that's where you get the best bang for your buck as it were, and couldn't help but notice a couple of hot young girls sitting in the opposite row on the other side. These were California teenagers, glamorous, well-to-do, as beautiful as any Iowa teen girl, only more sophisticated.

Sigh.

As the ride began to swing back and forth, my eyes naturally went to the girls, and to my surprise, one of them, a brunette with long brown hair (who I choose to remember as an attainable sixteen year old Phoebe Cates . . . since it's my memory and I can do what I want with it), was looking in our direction. Her eyes met mine, and she smiled.

I know what you're thinking, and go to hell. This is my story, and I can tell it if I want to. Just save me a spot there among the demons and Disco gods, I'll be there in due time.

The teen girl whooped when the ride tells you to whoop, but then looked at me again, grinning a perfect orthodontist's masterpiece of a smile. I looked too. She was actually making eye contact . . . with me, Rish Benjamin Outfield, the only guy not to get some at spring break in Tijuana.

Well, to have a pretty young thing give me a smile was every bit as exhilarating as the park ride (as any park ride, honestly). The whole time, until it ended, she would glance in my direction, sometimes smiling, sometimes laughing, and whatever blink-and-you-miss-it pop group playing over the speakers had become the fudgin' Righteous Brothers.

As all things do, the ride came to a stop, and everybody filed off to go their separate ways. I looked for the girl, but she had places to go and other men's hearts to melt. Still, I was grinning like a Smilex victim until my buddy MacDonald said, "Wow, did you see that chick with the brown hair on the other side of the ride? She was totally checking me out!"

Sigh again.

I said it was an amusement part memory, not an amusing one.

Rish "Heartbreaker, Dreammaker, Lovetaker" Outfield

Friday, June 24, 2011

Stupid Thing of the Week

There's a dip in the road leading up to my street that I imagine is there for water to flow through (though it might be there just to punish people who drive too fast), and it has one of those big yellow signs warning people there is a DIP there.

Well, some brilliant young person took some spray paint this week and wrote "shit" under it (and not altogether well). So, you may take this as a stupid thing because some idiot thought it would be cool to deface a street sign like that, or because I found it kind of amusing. And it's exactly the sort of thing I would've done in my teens.

Or twenties.

Or thirties.

P.S. A couple of days after writing this, I grabbed my camera and tossed it in my car, meaning to take a picture of the offending sign. Well, I forgot about it. But driving home, as I crossed the dip, I remembered only to see that someone had painted over the graffitti. Once again, procrastination kicks me where it hurts.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Stupid Thing of the Week

There's a wedding going on in Vegas this weekend, and my whole family is loading into the car(s) together to head over there. I spent some of today hanging out with my nephew, who is now three, and offered to make him some Kool Aid. I made about two ounces for him, and about twenty for myself, but had to get after the boy to make sure he didn't drink it in the living room, where he could spill it on the carpet. My mom doesn't let the kids drink or eat anything near the carpet, and I was trying to follow suite.

A little while later, though, I scooted my chair back so I could stand up and sure enough, I knocked my entire container over . . . onto the carpet. It was red Kool Aid too, which may actually be worse than the purple kind.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Chris Evans on THE AVENGERS

I saw this little interview snippet and thought, "Hey, here's something I can post on my blog!*" I really hope this movie works. For all our sakes.


The Cap movie hasn't even come out yet, and I'm already getting used to Chris Evans as Steve Rogers. I saw Evans as a slacker, surfer, California type, and it was hard for me to get over that. Now, though, I guess I've seen him in the trailers and publicity stills enough that it probably won't be hard to identify him with the character for the next several years.

Of course, Ryan "Captain Awesome" McPartlin from NBC's "Chuck" was my first choice. But maybe he can be Aquaman or something.

Rish "Colonel Mediocre" Outfield

*And I haven't had something to write in a blog post in a long, long time.

Monday, June 06, 2011

It's all for you, Damien

This is, according to my Dashboard, my 666th blog post.

I WISH I had something significant to post today.

Heck, maybe I could write a drabble and stick it in here. Something appropriate to the occasion.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Stupid Thing of the Week

I recently auditioned for a role in an audio drama. I do that from time to time because I like acting, and because I've got a microphone I paid good money for, and why let it go to waste?

I guess I got the part, because the script for the first episode was sent me (not to mention and email that told me I had gotten the part), and my lines were highlighted and a deadline given me to have the lines done.

I recorded those and the guy said, "Wow, thanks! Here's the script to episode two." That's cool. I like it when people are on the ball.*

Before I could record those lines, however, I got a new email that said, "I got a guy to do another character I was going to voice, so now I can do your part. Don't bother sending the lines. Thanks for everything."

Dude, this is so not cool.

I may have to explain that people volunteer to do voices in internet audio dramas for no pay, and with the knowledge that they're just doing someone a favor, for no compensation ever. It's something you do out of friendship (if not fun), and if you've got a podcast/audio drama/fan film/etc., you need to let your voice actors (or artists or producers or slush readers) know you appreciate them.

I'm probably not worthy to cast the first stone, here. I've been editing a story a guy sent us last year, that was actually supposed to hit the air before 2010 was out. I do feel bad that it hasn't been finished yet, but I have hours of work every week for the show, and it's hard to make time beyond that for my own production.

I agonized recently over a part that a guy did for us for that story. I hoped he wouldn't be upset that we didn't use his lines, but they just didn't work for the story as a whole (he did them in a sort of imitation of a famous Al Pacino movie), and he'd already done a different character in the same story. I felt bad, and considered leaving it in, even though it sounded a bit silly. Ultimately, I called Big and asked what he suggested.

He said that the story has to come first, and if it doesn't work, then don't use it, and that the guy'll understand. But I still feel bad about it.

I feel worse now that my work for this other show has been tossed. I don't want somebody to feel as unappreciated as I did when I got that email.

Look, I've got way more free time than ninety percent of non-homeless Americans, and yet I really felt like I'd wasted it with this guy. Of course, there are always extenuating circumstances behind just about everything, and maybe I really did a lackluster job or he found out I despise cats (and cat lovers) and had to make a stand like Zack what's-his-name did when he refused to work on HANGOVER 2 if Mel Gibson was going to be in it.

All I know is that it made me want to treat people better, and let my people (ie the ones who work for my show for free and very few shout-outs, and even fewer sexual perks) know that I'm grateful to them. Even if I don't know their names. And pretend I've never met them when we're standing in an elevator or at a urinal together.

The long metal trough kind. I really hate those.

So, on with the countdown. I could be a better collaborator. I could be a worse one. I recently got an email from someone working on the "Green Lantern" podcast that said she really loved my Sinestro and was sorry to hear I was going to die alone. Maybe I should do the same for my team.

Heck, I'm gonna do that now.

Rish "The Boss From Heck" Outfield

*Although it does make me feel like something of a slacker. Which I am.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bonesaw is finally ready

So, Randy "Macho Man" Savage passed away. Sad, I suppose, especially since it was a car accident, which sucks.*

I wasn't a Wrestling fan growing up, and I'll never be one. However, I did work on the first SPIDER-MAN movie in the wrestling scene, where Macho Man was an actor, playing Bone-Saw McGraw. He was an odd and forehead-vein-throbbingly-intense actor. No exaggeration, I watched him do the "Bone-Saw is reeeeeady" line twenty or thirty times, delivering it in an almost painful way every single take. While he and the stuntman went through their moves, he laughed and interacted with the audience, and yes, told everybody to slip into a Slim Jim at least twice.

Also, he was somebody's dad. So I figured I'd say something here.

Rish "The Flying Dutchman" Outfield

*Guess the guy had a heart attack, which caused the accident. He was fifty-eight.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Finally, space is black enough

I'm not sure I have the words to describe how cool this is.

They should've sent a poet.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Never Was There A Story of More Woe . . .

People say that fish have a memory of, like, fifteen seconds. Maybe that's just goldfish. Or Dory.

Last week, two fish I'd had for a long, long time died. They were a pair I'd gotten on the same day, and had tripled in size during their stay in my tank. One of them changed colors sometimes, and I never really understood why it did that (or why the other one didn't). But one day, one of the pair went belly-up. I gave it to the turtles (circle of life, Simba), and was a bit disappointed, but having fish has taught me that everything dies, baby, that's a fact. You get used to it.

But the next day . . . I got up and went to feed the fish, and the other fish was also dead. It had (somehow) jumped out of the tank and was dried up and motionless on the floor. After a burial by turtle, I went to the pet shop to buy some replacements. The guy at the store said "Oh, that happens all the time with mated pairs. I don't really know why."

Neither do I.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Stupid Thing of the Week

I was at a store today, and I paused to look at the t-shirts. There were several Marvel and DC-related shirts, and it occurred to me that if someone went to school wearing a Green Lantern shirt in 2011, they'd be admired rather than called a fag and tossed in a trashcan. But ah well.

And then, I saw a shirt that gave me pause. It had only words on it, in big blocky letters:

TEXT ME WHEN YOU'RE DONE TALKING.

I smirked when I saw it, and then realized (to my horror) that it was saying the opposite of what I initially thought it said.* It wasn't telling me the shirt's owner would prefer to speak with them face to face, it was telling me to go fuck myself.

I dwelled on this shirt for, oh, I don't know, five minutes maybe. It's a bummer that something like that can exist.

You might think it made me feel old, or out of touch. But no, it made me feel angry. I would probably punch someone in the stomach if they were wearing that shirt, and then say, "Oh, sorry. Guess you better text the police."

Rish "Vex Message" Outfield

*I was reminded of a sign I saw at a Los Angeles costume shop back in '02 or '03 that said, "We would be happy to serve you after you've completed your cellphone call." It struck me as tremendously bold and admirable. Of course, the owners of the shop were later reported, detained, and put into camps.