Sunday, February 28, 2010

Exceptional Scores...

I was asked awhile back what I thought was the best piece of musical score I'd ever heard on anything I'd had done. The answer was immediate and easy. The absolute best score to anything I've ever done (caveated with a "yet", because I hope I work with him again someday!) was Bear McCreary's amazing work on the season finale of Battlestar Galactica season three. No, not "All Along The Watchtower" (which was amazing nevertheless), but the piece just before it. On the CD, Bear calls this track "Getting The Call", and if you remember the episode, it's when Tigh, the Chief, Tory and Sam are all gathering to confess that they've just realized they're all Cylons. I still get a chill when I hear the propulsive, chugging, building theme that brings them into the room. The score is absolutely perfect...

Well, Bear's just put out his score for "The Plan" and "Razor", so you should order those and all the rest of his (brilliant) work, but I'd just like to doff my rhetorical chapeau once more re: his season three piece. It's as good as this sort of thing gets...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Not Guilty

No, not a Beatles post. I've been serving on a jury (off and on) for the last three weeks (!), and "not guilty" was the final verdict. I've been summoned for jury duty multiple times, but this was the first time I was actually called into the courthouse and then picked for service. As a fan of the Law & Order shows, I've always been curious to experience the process "for real," so unlike several of my other jurors, I didn't try to get tossed off the panel by expressing especially vehement anti-anything views. But I did get some good pointers. Saying you believe the police never make mistakes and if someone's arrested they are assuredly guilty will definitely get you kicked off the panel.

The first thing that struck me, as jurors were asked basic questions like "have you ever been the victim of a crime", was how many people in Los Angeles have been the victims of SERIOUS crimes. One after another, "my Mom was murdered," "my brother was kidnapped," "I was raped"... it was an awful litany of remarkable terrible things. On a slightly less dramatic note, I was also surprised at how many folks on the jury had been arrested for DUI.

Then the case started. It involved a sting operation conducted by the State's Contractor's Licensing Board, and an English-as-a-second language fellow accusing of doing contracting without a license. These were misdemeanor charges, so my first thought was, "really? A jury trial for this?" My other thought, frankly, was that the guy probably did it. The prosecution and defense stipulated early on that the guy didn't have a license, so that fact wasn't even being challenged. The real issue at hand was simple: was the defendant an employee when he entered the sting location and made a bid (which was what he was claiming, and would have been legal), or was he operating his own business?

The prosecution brought out the two investigators who handled the sting and also provided a tape recording of the "crime." This is where the State's case started falling apart, because frankly, the investigators were a little shaky. Evidence had been lost, they forgot a lot of stuff, and they seemed prone to mis-characterize comments that we were able to hear for ourselves on the tape.

That said, I was still wavering, but the defendant's public defender gave a passionate closing statement that pretty much sealed the deal for me. This falls under the rubric of "style" and didn't really influence my decision, but by contrast, the prosecutor closed with a frightening condescending argument that left me scratching my chin. At one point, the prosecutor was explaining the legal issues involved in making a bid, and that contractors can't ask for more than 10% of the estimated cost. This was caveated with an exhaustive apology for the "complicated, boring mathematics that I know we all hate." Umm, 10% of $4K is $400. It ain't exactly quantum physics.

Anyhow, it's still innocent until proven guilty in this country, and that means "proven" within a reasonable doubt. And when all was said and done, the State hadn't proved that this guy wasn't working for someone else when he came to the site, or that a contract had even been agreed to when the guy asked for a down payment. (Some of this was due to the language issues). I was worried I would be the sole civil libertarian nut-job when we started deliberations, but to my surprise, we were all on virtually the same page. Nobody really thought the State had proved their case. 70 minutes later, not guilty!

And so the wheels o' justice have turned... I'm $60 richer and off the hook, jury-wise, for a full calendar year!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Comic Book Shows...

I ventured down to Long Beach this morning to check out a small comic con at the convention center. Compared to the Goliath San Diego Comic show, it was indeed "small", but that was fine with me. I walked through the entire thing in a couple of hours, picked up a few books and chatted with some friendly dealers. The aisles were crowded but not impenetrable, people were nice, parking was easy and there was a nice selection of restaurants right across the street.

Driving back, I realized that I haven't made any plans to go to this Summer's San Diego comic book show. And there's a fair chance I won't go at all, missing the event for the first time since (gasp) 1983. There was a time when San Diego was a must-do event (for fun and for business, but mostly fun), but this year it's definitely fallen into the "ehh" category. It's not that I hate the show (when I was a guest a couple years ago, the convention people were fantastic), but it's like attending a rock concert at a giant stadium. I'm just gettin' too old for that shit. The sheer effort required to attend the San Diego Con has finally become too much. Hotel rooms are ridiculously expensive (assuming you can find one), the crowds are really massive, it's next to impossible to get into the big rooms for the most popular presentations without waiting for hours... it's just become too much of a good thing.

Oh well... wishy-washy guy that I am, I may change my mind and do the entire four days anyway. But right now, I'm thinking a weekend in Vegas would be cheaper, less stressful and more fun...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Things I Learned On The Internet - 2/18/10

Dan Didio and Jim Lee have been named co-publishers and Geoff Johns has been named Chief Creative Officer for DC Comics, all of which strike me as remarkably wise choices.

A bunch of Americans won medals in the Olympics yesterday. I believe there were other countries involved in the games as well.

Something called CPAC (Conservative Political Action Committee) is meeting in Washington D.C. for the next few days. This is evidently where the great minds of the conservative movement gather to discuss weighty issues. One of the attractions is a pinata with Nancy Pelosi's face on it.

Roger Ebert is doing some of the best writing of his career these days, much of it on his journal. These aren't movie reviews (well, I guess some are), but reveries on his life, the world and "etc." Check out the latest at

Liz Chaney is not ruling out running for President.

A man angry with the IRS smashed his plane into an IRS office in Austin after setting his house on fire. He was an unemployed software engineer.

I didn't learn this on the internet, but I'm on jury duty for the next few days, hence less internet knowledge than usual.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Things I Learned On The Internet - 2/17/10 ADDENDUM

On Blogger, the date on a post is set when you started writing it, not when you post it. So a posting about events from 2/17 that was created (but not written) on 2/16 will be dated 2/16. Despite being posted on 2/17.

That's kind of weird.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Things I Learned On The Internet - 2/17/10

This blog is ranked #62 in popularity at a site called "Geek Blips." I think that's good!

King Tut probably died of malaria.

From CBS News: "South Carolina Rep. Mike Pitts has introduced legislation that would mandate that gold and silver coins replace federal currency as legal tender in his state." I believe Rep. Pitts (do I really need to put the "R" after his name) is trying to make a point about the deficit.

A lot of people don't like the Comic's Journal new website.

Dick Armey of Freedom Works is disputing claims that he's endorsed John McCain for re-election to the Senate.

Erector Set - 3D Movie is in development.

Rick Santorum is running for President.

Amanda the Aspiring Writer ( always has some interesting advice for folks hoping to break into film writing.

Tiger Woods announced his intention to make a public statement on Friday. I guess you're really a big celebrity when your intention to make a statement is news.

Things I Learned On The Internet - 2/16/10

A McDonalds Egg McMuffin has 300 calories.

Someone got physically violent with Presidential candidate Mitt Romney on an airplane flight from Vancouver because Romney asked them to put their seat up during take-off. Romney did not "retaliate" and I don't think the angry person was Kevin Smith. LATE UPDATE: Romney was flying economy?!

A skier named Bode Miller, age 32, won a bronze medal at his fourth (!) Olympics, missing first place by .09 of a second. This third place finish prompted a sportswriter on AOL to write a lengthy piece about Miller's poor attitude, musing about what he might have accomplished if he had only applied himself. Seriously.

A Utah legislator named Chris Buttars (R) is advocating abolishing the 12th grade in his State. It would save over $100 million a year, and had it taken effect years ago, obviously would have provided Buttars one less year of merciless teasing.

From Heidi McDonald's "The Beat" website: "Despite the tepid response for the WATCHMEN movie, some of the toys and licensed stuff did okay, said a NECA rep, and they are releasing a Rorschach bobblehead later on. Also, WATCHMEN may join the HeroClix universe."

A former Bush 43 speechwriter named Marc Thiessen, long critical of the Obama administration for being soft on terror, is now complaining that the Obama administration is killing too many terrorists.

My friend and former Battlestar writer Michael Taylor had a birthday!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Things I Learned On The Internet - 2/15/10

From memory...

Someone named "Snooki" is naked.

Kiefer Sutherland is having a cyst removed.

Doug Fieger, lead singer of "The Knack", died Sunday of cancer. He was 57.

Kevin Smith was thrown off a Southwest Airlines flight because he was too fat. He then twittered about it.

A pregnant woman was refused water on a parked Spirit Airlines flight, then her and her Doctor husband were removed from the plane when they complained.

On "This Week", former Vice President Dick Cheney said he supported waterboarding of terrorist suspects during the Bush administration, which according to at least two bloggers (one of whom was Andrew Sullivan) means he just confessed to a war crime.

There is a new documentary on the British band Dr. Feelgood due to be released. (I like Dr. Feelgood.)

Dale Hawkins, rockabilly singer and composer of "Suzie-Q", died today.

There are regular CD-Rs and then there are "Archival Gold" CD-Rs that are supposed to last for 300 years. Guess which are more expensive?

I think I've learned enough for today...

Friday, February 12, 2010

It's Ditko's World. We Just Live In It.

So I mentioned a few posts ago placing an order for the most recent comic book work by Steve Ditko, co-creator of Spider-Man and all around fantastic artist. Well, the books have arrived (thanks, Robin!) and they do not disappoint. Ditko's style has simplified some with time, but then evolving and honing was always one of his hallmarks.

As for the stories... well, if you want a peek into Mr. Ditko's thought processes, I'm guessing this is about as close as you'll get. There are superhero stories, off-beat polemics, characters flat-out yelling at the reader, and more! I would try to paraphrase some of this, but you really need the full-Ditko to fully appreciate the work. It is uniquely individual and as personal as comics get.

While I'm at it, I can also recommend Robin Snyder's 20-years-running comics history newsletter, "The Comics." Letters and commentary from a host of professionals, old and new. Well worth a subscription!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Heroes Season Finale - Monday! 9:00PM! NBC!

This is it, not the semi-penultimate or the penultimate, but (as the NBC headline says) the ULTIMATE conclusion to Heroes Season Four. It all comes together, and make sure you stay until the very end, where there's a hint (well, more than a hint) of things to come...

In the climactic season finale, everyone bands together in an effort to stop Samuel (Robert Knepper) from taking the lives of thousands. Peter (Milo Ventimiglia) joins forces with his most unexpected ally to save Emma (guest star Deanne Bray). Meanwhile, H.R.G.’s (Jack Coleman) life hangs in the balance as he and Claire (Hayden Panettiere) find themselves trapped underground with oxygen quickly running out. Elsewhere, Hiro (Masi Oka) starts to come to grips with the decisions he has made and is called into action to help stop a disaster. David H. Lawrence XVII, Harry Perry, Todd Stashwick also guest star.

I've been asked if there will be a Heroes season five, and my oh-so-clever response is, umm, I don't know. Ratings have been ticking up with the last couple episodes and Heroes remains one of the most DVR'ed and downloaded shows around (meaning the initial "rating", per se, doesn't include a big chunk of the actual audience), but since I wasn't watching television during my "flash forward," I will have to wait and see like everyone else...