The Force is With JJ

I’ve been a fan of a number of JJ Abrams’ projects for a while.

Alias was an incredible TV show. Lost was one of my favorite shows ever. And I thought the Star Trek movie he directed was great.

But still, I had my issues with him. He left Alias in the middle of its third season and Lost right after shooting the pilot episode (this was a bigger problem for Alias than it was for Lost). And while the Star Trek movie was very entertaining, story-wise, it was a lot like the original Star Wars.

So a few months ago, when it was announced that Abrams would direct Star Wars Episode VII, I thought he was a decent pick. He’s a Star Wars fan and loves the material, but I’ve had some misgivings about his involvement in his other projects.

But after reading part of an interview JJ did with Empire Magazine, I think that he’s the absolute best pick. In describing how he, who was not a Star Trek fan, made two movies for some of the world’s most discerning fans, JJ said he’s taking a similar approach to Star Wars:  “I feel like I can identify a hunger for what I would want to see again and that is an incredibly exciting place to begin a project.”

As a fan, he’s absolutely right.

There’s More to Hope Than Meets the Eye

For Hope’s bedtime tonight, we were looking at this book of pictures of animals. She would tell me what kind of animal it was then would ask me it’s name, to which I would reply with some name off the top of my head.

Me: And what are these guys?

Hope: Whales.

Me: Right.

Hope: What are their names?

Me: Um…Bluestreak and Optimus Prime

Hope: Optimus Prime is a robot!

Even though it serves me right, I’m very proud.

And because it’s winter, here’s Hope in the snow:

Happy Anniversary, Internet

I have a weird memory. I’m horrible with names. But I’m great with places and dates. The first time I saw a Yankees win a World Series was October 26, 1996. My first Weezer concert was August 30, 2000. And 20 years ago today, on October 31, 1992, I went online for the first time.

My father had just gotten a new computer. A few weeks earlier, I read an item in Wizard magazine about a Star Wars bulletin board on the America On Line service, which my father subscribed to. I started the program, dialed in and after having the modem screech at me, started discussing Star Wars with my fellow nerds.

Twenty years later, the Internet is part of everyday life. Star Wars is cool again. And I can remember October 31, 1992 like it was yesterday.

I [Surprisingly Don’t] Have a Bad Feeling About This

Disney owns a large part of my childhood.

Growing up, I read and collected comic books and was loyal to the Marvel line. A few years ago, Disney bought Marvel.

I was also a Star Wars fan. I was into Star Wars when it seemed like no one else was and all we’d have is three movies in a galaxy far, far away. Well, today Star Wars is pretty popular, with three more movies and a lifetime’s worth of extended universe media. Oh, and a new owner. Today, Disney bought Lucasfilm from George Lucas for $4 billion.

Disney isn’t buying Lucasfilm to just hold on to the intellectual property. They’re planning on making some serious money, starting with some new Star Wars movies. From the official release:

In 2015, we’re planning to release Star Wars Episode 7 – the first feature film under the “Disney-Lucasfilm” brand. That will be followed by Episodes 8 and 9 – and our long term plan is to release a new Star Wars feature film every two to three years. We’re very happy that George Lucas will be creative consultant on our new Star Wars films…

The first I heard of today’s news, I didn’t know about Episode 7. My reaction was negative. This looked like George Lucas was selling out.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized this is a good thing. The truth is, George sold out when he signed on with Fox to make Star Wars back in the 70s. Star Wars was a branded commodity even then, and the money it made helped ensure more entries in the franchise. I had some issues with the prequels, but overall, I enjoyed them.

Sure, Disney will Disney-fy the Star Wars franchise. But that’s nothing different from what George Lucas has been doing with Star Wars over the past two decades.

As for the future movies (and I can’t tell whether the Disney release means the saga will end with 9, or whether there will be more after that), if I’m ever worried about the story being diluted, I always have my copies of the original three episodes. Additionally, according to reports, George has been working on these new movies over the past few months (and won’t be doing any writing or directing). Additionally, Disney has made some quality movies based off its newly-acquired Marvel properties over the past few years while respecting the source material. Sure, there will be a lot more Star Wars material for kids (and that’s who the saga is aimed at), but as for the movies, with the Disney/Marvel track record, there’s nothing to be worried about.

I’m excited about this, and the biggest reason I’m excited really has nothing to do with the quality of the movies. I saw all the original trilogy in the theaters, first run with my father (well, technically, we saw the Empire Strikes Back as part of a double feature the month before Jedi came out). And I still remember that. I can say that I’ll get to take my kids to see new Star Wars movies in the theater in a few years. That’s so cool.

And for that reason alone, as a member of the Star Wars fan universe, I for one welcome our new corporate overlords.

Fingers to the Keyboard

For me, the toughest thing about blogging has been coming up with things to write about (and sometimes having the time to write them).

I write often for work, so it’s not like my writing muscles go unused. The other day I was presented with a (non-work, but not something I want to get into here) situation that really disappointed me. I decided rather than making something about it at the time, I would write an e-mail to the other people involved. I composed my thoughts, wrote a personal, yet factual e-mail and sent it. I was instantly relieved. I think if I look at writing from that viewpoint- an outlet, rather than something I feel I have to do, the ideas will come.

And yes, I know that I could always put up pictures of Hope and/or Luke. I would, but it’s tough when one of them doesn’t like to smile for pictures (it’s not the one you think it is!). But Hope and Luke content will he forthcoming.

The Network Goes Off The Air

At noon tomorrow, the TV station where I had my first real job after college will go off the air.

Although technically, since the Ohio News Network is a cable news channel, the signal will cease to be carried over the cable wires.

A few weeks ago, the Dispatch Broadcast Group, the company that owns ONN, announced it would be shutting down the channel because of “changing viewer attitudes.”

Despite the fact that rumors of ONN’s shutdown were circulating the day I started in January 2000, the station grew. Still, the decision to close came as a complete surprise. Whatever the reasons behind the shutdown, they were beyond the control of those who worked hard every day to report the news of Ohio.

For almost four years, that was me. It took me a while after graduating to find a job. When I finally landed the job at ONN, I packed up my 1986 Buick Century Limited and drove it out to Ohio (with some help from King Classic). Like pretty much everyone who worked there, I had every non-9-to-5 schedule possible, including weekends and holidays. I worked with a lot of people who were at a similar place in life and who also devoted their lives beyond normal working hours to the place. But by the end of my time there, I realized I didn’t want my life to revolve around TV. Besides, I had worked on enough big stories (September 11, the conflict in Iraq, the 2000 presidential election, some guy who built his own ass kicking machine and many more) in my time there that I felt like I wanted to tell different stories.

I grew a lot at ONN, learning, working and building friendships that I have to this day. I’ll never forget my time there. And I can say that if it weren’t for ONN, I wouldn’t be where I am today (possibly including meeting The Civee and all that other stuff). But for me, I needed a change from TV. And I hope all my former co-workers can recover from the station’s shut down.

When I was there, I worked in the news department. But the most fun I had working there was as an honorary part of the sports department. At the time, ONN was very involved in high school sports. From August through March, the network aired a half-hour show Friday nights at 11:30 carrying scores and highlights from football (in the fall) and basketball (in the winter) games from around the state. If you’ve paid any attention to the Kingdom, you’ll know that I don’t have any use for basketball and I could care less about football. However, my first fall there, I was asked to help work on the show, collecting scores to run in the ticker.

I worked at least four extra hours every Friday, eventually moving on from scores to coordinating satellite feeds and helping with the lower third graphics in the control room. Each Friday from about 11:00 to 11:57 was extremely stressful. But working on the show was fun. As seriously as people take high school sports, the show got very light-hearted, especially in the intro video that opened each show. For the last show of the 2001-2002 season, we decided to do something a little different. The result was one of the most fun times I’ve ever had working:

 

Our Bags Are Packed And We’re Ready To Go

Sometime in the next few days, I’m planning a one-man real-life reenactment of this, minus the phone cord:

The Civee’s doctor said it’s looking like the baby will be here this weekend. Now that I’ve typed that, it’ll probably be another two weeks (and I’ve already been blamed for any delay). Either way, The Civee, Hope and I are all ready for the baby.