Coming Out of Left Field

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Into the final frontier -- and out of the closet

George Takei, who broke barriers with his portrayal of Mr. Sulu on the original Star Trek, has just broken another one -- he's now publicly out. He's been with his partner (and manager) for 18 years, but recently spoke about his homosexuality with Frontiers magazine, which as far as I can tell is the first time he's talked about it to the media. The interview also mentions his autobiography, his upcoming star turn in a production of Equus, and the numerous civil rights organizations he's involved with. I thought Takei was cool before, but now I'm sure of it.

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Ironic quote of the day

"Harriet Miers' decision demonstrates her deep respect for this essential aspect of the constitutional separation of powers -- and confirms my deep respect and admiration for her."

President Bush, referring to Miers' decision to withdraw her Supreme Court nomination.

Um, George? If you want to protect the separation of powers, why did you nominate someone from the executive branch? And if executive privilege is so important, why did you nominate the White House's chief lawyer?

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Baseball quote of the day

"Who told me baseball was easy?"

Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane, speaking after yesterday's 7-5 loss to the White Sox in Game 3 of the World Series. The game went 14 innings and lasted 5 hours and 41 minutes, a Series record. It also broke Series records for number of total players used (43), number of total pitchers used (17), number of pitchers used by one team (9), and number of total runners left on base (30).

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Rest in peace, Rosa :(

Civil rights icon Rosa Parks dies at 92

Wherever you are (I'd like to think it's heaven), I hope you have a front-row seat.


Monday, October 24, 2005

E-mail emendation

Alternate title for this post: "Better late than never."

Recently I've been very frustrated with my e-mail. I like the site in general (I try to visit the click-for-charity sites every day), and it's good that the ad revenue generated by people's visits goes to good causes. However, the e-mail portion of has been driving me crazy. A site outage every so often I can understand, but slow loading times on a cable modem? Repeated errors every time I try to read or delete a message aren't fun either.

So as of today I'm making the switch to Gmail. The old addy will still be operational for a while, since it'll take me a bit to update my account info everywhere (forums, Amazon, etc.). But hopefully the Gmail address will become my main one very quickly.


The West Wing: "Here Today"

Adios, Toby. Poor guy. :( Yes, I know he breached security, and he wasn't always the most pleasant character, but I can't help feeling sorry for him anyway. (And I feel sorry for the actor, to be written out of the show in such a manner.) On the other hand, the president has every right to be angry. I think he was actually rather restrained under the circumstances. Maybe if the White House counsel hadn't been there, Jed would've unleashed some of his temper instead of being coldly dismissive.

Overall, I felt like this episode was less well integrated than some of the others. The campaign and assassination plotlines seemed to be stuck in between the leaker scenes just because things needed to keep moving. The campaign scenes also looked like they were shot with the conventional master/two-shot/close-up setup, instead of the isolationist (for lack of a better word) style of the rest of the show. Speaking of which, there were lots of odd angles in this episode -- dead-on profile shots, a shot of one person talking to someone who's only seen in reflection, etc. The good thing is that these were done consistently and on purpose, and for the most part they worked. I'm glad not every episode is shot like that, though.

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Saturday, October 22, 2005

One hurdle down, one to go

Picture is locked -- hooray! *does a brief jig* It took another few hours and a lot of back-and-forth (on the Steenbeck and in my head) before I got things settled, but I think the final cut is OK. I even got a little creative a couple of times, by sheer accident. Made me think that the editing thing might work out after all.

Now I can spend next week on the soundtrack. I'd thought maybe I could even do some sound transferring yesterday, but by the time I finished it was too late to start, so I just went through the sound effects catalogs and made some notes on which ones I want to try out. I started to see why those CD collections are so expensive. The catalogs have pages upon pages of different sounds: car horns, dog barks, water drips, gunshots, you name it, they probably have it. The most bizarre one: camel grunts. Yes, camel grunts. How anyone even knows what the definitive camel grunt sounds like (let alone record one) is a complete mystery. Too bad my film is set in a house instead of the Gobi Desert.

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Friday, October 21, 2005

What, he couldn't find a Post-It? (stupid criminal quote)

"It wasn't a huge forensic undertaking ... we just put it under a light."

Steven Moran, director of public safety in Bensalem, PA, referring to the arrest of Michael Drennon for bank robbery. The search for Drennon was greatly simplified by the fact that Drennon had allegedly written his demands on a pay stub with his name and address (even though he had crossed the info out with a marker first).

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Damn the director!

Work on the film project continues. I spent about five and a half hours (split up between yesterday and today) making a rough cut. It was a long time, and not exactly stress-free. I kept finding myself grumbling, "Why does this shot cut off when it does? It would've made so much sense to keep it going for a few more seconds. Whose idea was it to turn off the camera right then?"

Well, mine, actually. *rolls eyes* I look forward to the time when I can just edit other people's stuff, without having to produce, write, direct and shoot too.

At least it was quiet most of the time, as the freshmen and first-year grads seem to be doing their editing later at night. So it was pretty much just me and my new best friends, the Steenbecks.

The ones at school don't have the second monitor on the right, but everything else seems to be the same. A far cry from Avid and Final Cut Pro, huh?

Anyway, my goal for tomorrow is to fine-tune the footage so I can lock picture, and then think about transferring sound to mag stock. Oh, the joys of analog. *rolls eyes*

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Oh, for &#* sake

With all that's going on in the world right now, you'd think Congress wouldn't be wasting time on reviving the Family Marriage Amendment. But look what's on the docket tomorrow (Thursday) for the Senate Judiciary Committee:

An Examination of the Constitutional Amendment on Marriage

Un-fricking-believable. If your senator sits on the committee, send him/her a message asking for a "no" vote on any discriminatory legislation.

Technorati: , LGBT, marriage equality,

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Which Discworld character are you like? (quiz)

I have got to stop doing Internet quizzes. My results for this one, though, are too funny not to post:

You scored as Gytha (Nanny) Ogg. You are Nanny Ogg! A talented witch, able to make yourself at home wherever you are, and insist that Greebo is just a big softie. You enjoy drinking, a lot, and singing about a hedgehog. You have a huge family, and get your daughters-in-law to do most of the housework. You are kind and gentle, and help put people at ease.

Gytha (Nanny) Ogg


Carrot Ironfounderson




Commander Samuel Vimes


The Librarian


Esmerelda (Granny) Weatherwax


Lord Havelock Vetinari






Cohen The Barbarian


Which Discworld Character are you like (with pics)
created with

Er, sooooo not me. I wouldn't mind the "talented witch" part being true, though.


Monday, October 17, 2005

The West Wing: "Mr. Frost"

Aside from the title, which applies to only one of the plotlines ("I.D." would've been a better choice), this was an excellent episode. Lots of wit, sharp writing, and drama on both a personal and political scale. Santos is sounding better and better, especially in his response to the intelligent-design advocate -- smart, articulate, and respectful without being pandering. One can see why Josh would choose to work for him instead of Bingo Bob.

~spoiler alert~

I also liked that we got to see some of the White House doings too. The leaker's identity was finally revealed, and unfortunately it wasn't much of a surprise. It's true that all the signs (the subpoenas, the conversation with Brock in which she says "Reveal your source") seemed to point to C.J. But the "West Wing" writers aren't usually that obvious, and Toby has given away stuff before. Still, it'll be sad to see him go.

What I don't know is how Richard Schiff will get in the rest of his appearances this season. He's signed up for 11 episodes, and this was only the fourth one. I wondered if he would join Santos' staff, but they already have a communications director, and as my wife pointed out the last thing the campaign needs is a PR scandal.

~spoiler alert~

Other thoughts:

-- I enjoyed seeing Leo, who was his usual crusty self. Loved the bits between him and Annabeth.
-- The wife and I both miss Donna, though it seems like she'll join the Santos campaign two episodes from now.
-- Aside from Kate Harper (whose name I had to look up, because I can never remember it), all these characters are much more idiosyncratic and interesting than those on "Commander in Chief". Even the new ones like Louise Thornton are quickly established, though it probably helps that she's played by Janeane Garofalo.

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Sunday, October 16, 2005

Film joke

Continuing the film-related posts, here's a joke about producing, which I found on


A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended a bit more and shouted, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."

The woman below replied, "You are in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You are between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude."

"You must be an Production Manager," said the balloonist. "I am," replied the woman, "How did you know?" "Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I am still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help so far."

The woman below responded, "You must be a Producer." "I am," replied the balloonist, "but how did you know?" "Well," said the woman, "you don't know where you are or where you are going. You have risen to where you are, due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise which you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it's my fault."


At least the producer asked for directions.

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Saturday, October 15, 2005

Slicing and splicing

I went to school yesterday and took my first crack at editing my footage, looking at all the takes, choosing the good ones, and putting everything in order. It helped that I'd done a paper cut the day before, so I was able to go down the list and say, "OK, I need shots G1, F10 and D5 from roll #2, shot A2 from roll #4" and so on. Next week will come the tricky part -- trimming all the shots down so that they are just the right length and connect properly from one bit to the other.

I was a little dismayed when I checked out (after about 4 hours there), and the guy at the desk said, "You've been here all this time?" Though with 30+ shots to assemble, I guess I shouldn't be that embarassed. Can't wait to go digital, though!

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005


My film footage finally came back from the lab. I had hoped to get it last Friday, but when I checked the drop-off locker, it was nowhere to be found. In a way this was good, because I knew that between the lab's schedule (which only does drop-offs Monday through Thursday) and the holiday, I wouldn't be able to see anything until today at the earliest. So I was able to push it out of my mind and enjoy the weekend, which included seeing the new "Wallace and Gromit" movie. The wife and I give it two thumbs-up -- very entertaining, and a lot better-made than most of the schlock out there.

As for my film, the footage turned out mostly OK, although I'm sure cinematography is not in my future (too many shadows in some spots, not enough focus in others). I only had a couple of hours, so I just watched the workprint on the Steenbeck and split it back into the original six rolls, to make it easier to find shots. Friday I'll start editing, which will be either lots of fun or a chaotic mess. Possibly both.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

How out are you? (quiz)

HRC sent me a little quiz in honor of National Coming Out Day. According to them, I am waaaaay out there:

"You're so out, you could actually be the fifth Golden Girl.

You're so out that the cosmonauts on Mir have phoned home, they can see you from space, and they know that you're OUT. You can play a great role by inspiring and encouraging others to follow your lead! TALK ABOUT IT!"

I'm a little dubious about the Golden Girl reference (weren't all those characters straight?), but the quiz otherwise got it right. Most of my life I had no idea I was even in the damn closet, let alone hiding there, but my friends knew better. Now that I'm clued in, I'm never going back.

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Playoff pickle

After the Red Sox lost, the wife and I hadn't been planning to watch more baseball. But we turned on the TV last night to look for "Diagnosis Murder" and ended up watching some of the Yankees-Angels game instead. For once, we had good timing, tuning in just before the Sheffield-Crosby collision that gave Kennedy a triple and the Angels the lead.

As satisfying as it was to have the Yankees kicked out of the playoffs, it now leaves me with a dilemma: who do I cheer for now? The Angels, who beat the Yankees and have Orlando Cabrera (one of my faves last year) at shortstop? Or the White Sox, a club that has a shot at breaking its own "curse"?

Whatever happens, I'll probably root for the AL winner in the World Series. The only NL team I root for is the Pirates, which at one time was a pretty good ballclub. But given Pittsburgh's recent record (their last five finishes in the division: 6th, 4th, 4th, 5th and 6th), I won't have to worry about divided loyalties anytime soon.

Update: while talking to the wife the other day, I realized that the White Sox also have a former Boston player -- knucklehead Carl Everett, who doesn't believe in dinosaurs, same-sex marriage or the separation of church and state. And as far as baseball is concerned, he's a talented hitter but also a disruptive hothead. No, one player isn't enough to make me root against a team, but in the absence of any compelling reason to cheer for the White Sox, this is enough to tip the scales. Go Angels!

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Happy National Coming Out Day!

Today is a day for GLBT folk to be out and proud, and for their straight allies to be right there with them.

This being an all-work no-school day, I probably won't get to leave the house. So I'll do my celebrating here and share links to two Boston Globe columns that get at the true definition of marriage -- no matter who's doing the marrying:

"From the other side of the altar, this is the best advice I can offer gay couples harangued by demands for wedding cake: Unplug the phone. Don't worry about politics, parties, or pressure. When it comes to marriage, the only two voices that matter are the ones that may – or may not – say 'I do.'"

The ring thing (David Valdes Greenwood)

"Maybe we Northamptonites are simply traditional, prescribing the same square things: Respect the laws, especially those minted in Massachusetts. Stand by your man or woman. Elect marriage, and leave the open ones to the wacky heterosexuals."

Square like me (Elinor Lipman)

Technorati: , LGBT, marriage equality, Massachusetts

Monday, October 10, 2005

The West Wing: "Message of the Week"

"Message" of this week: Vinick wants to win, and will give up some of his integrity in order to do so.

This episode presented a different and much less likable side to Vinick's character. He made such a big deal out of not going negative and complained about Santos' Reserve duty being a stunt, then initiated a whole week of stunts whose sole purpose was to discredit Santos as a Latino candidate. Plus, he outright lied to a lobbyist, then defended his lie on the grounds that the lobbyist lied himself. At the end of the episode Vinick had regained some points in the polls, but he sure lost some points with me, and maybe with his conscience too.

Overall a solid episode, straightforward in scripting and execution, though with less of the usual rapidfire dialogue and wit, probably because Josh and Louise didn't get to say that much.

Other notes:

-- At one point, my wife asked, "Where's Leo?" Good question. Shouldn't he be out campaigning somewhere? Or if not, back in HQ monitoring the situation?

-- Vinick did most of the zigging and zagging, but Santos did have one Kerryesque moment ("I voted for the bill before I voted against it").

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Saturday, October 08, 2005

Lost: My memory. If found, please notify me at ... er ...

Further proof, as if it was needed, that I can be such a forgetful dork sometimes: last night my wife and I were chatting about my dad, and she asked how old he was. I started calculating out loud, "Well, he was born in 19xx, so he doesn't turn xx until Octo -- ber ..."

There followed a short pause while the gears in my brain belatedly started turning. Then I said, "Oh, shit!" and ran to the phone. Fortunately I got hold of him, and was able to wish him happy birthday on the right day. My dad took it in good humor; he said my brother had forgotten too, and he himself knew it was his birthday, so it was OK. Still, I'll have to do a better job with birthday dates in the future. Maybe my Palm Pilot would help, if I ever remembered to use it.


Friday, October 07, 2005

Up and down and down and up ...

... and now down:

White Sox 4, Red Sox 2 (as of 5:58 p.m.)

At least I got to see Papi and Manny hit back-to-back homers. Could've done without the other team's homers, though.

It may be too much to expect the Sox to come back from two games down (as people keep saying, this is a different ballclub), but it'd be nice to avoid a sweep.

Update: three men on base + no outs adds up to ... zip. Aaaaaarrrrrrggggghhh.

Update #2: Sigh. It's over.

White Sox 5, Red Sox 3

Well, maybe this is the year for a different Sox team to break its curse. Those players have certainly earned the chance.

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Thursday, October 06, 2005


Sox lost again yesterday, in excruciating fashion:

White Sox 5, Red Sox 4

The wife and I made the mistake of watching the first five innings, and were commiserating this morning. We agreed that collapses are fun when it's the other team doing the collapsing. But when it's your own team that suddenly starts making errors, hitting batters and giving up homers, it's a horrible feeling. And unlike with other sports, you can't say, "OK, you guys scored a run, it's our turn to bat now."

Oh well, the Sox have come back from a deficit before. Maybe this year's club can do it too.

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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Suspicious signature collecting

Recently there have been reports that people collecting signatures for the 2008 anti-gay marriage petition have been using illegal bait-and-switch tactics. Here are a couple of links from MassEquality that they've set up in response to these reports:

Report on signature collection activity (and background info)

What to do if you believe you have inadvertently signed the marriage petition

Technorati: , LGBT, marriage equality, Massachusetts

TV Tuesday

Watched a few hours of TV last night, which I thought was bad until I realized the Red Sox-White Sox game would have been longer than all the shows combined, and probably much more painful.

Gilmore Girls ("Always a Godmother, Never a God"): Hyper monologues as usual, but not much there dramatically speaking. Seems like the writers are milking the Lorelai/Rory fight for all they can get. It works for now, but I hope they resolve it soon so that the wedding plans don't stay in limbo for the whole season.

Boston Legal ("Schadenfreude"): Dramatic, funny and extremely sharp in the scenes concerning Shore's defense of Kelly Nolan. The parts with Rupert Everett (whom I didn't recognize until my wife pointed him out) were good too. The whole thing with Bauer and her ex-husband was stupid all around, especially after she handed the case over to the two associates. I think Garrett's idea is going to backfire, big-time.

Commander in Chief ("First Choice"): After two episodes, I've learned that Mackenzie Allen is smart, capable, determined ... and very, very dull. There's no wit, no quirkiness, nothing to make Allen a human being worth caring about. The other characters are equally blah, and the storylines either fall into the category of "Good Independent President Fights the Bad, Conniving Politicians" or "First Family Learns How to Deal with Living in the White House". The writers need to take a cue from "The West Wing" and administer some humor and nuance, stat. And enough with the Hillary Clinton jokes already!


Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The West Wing: "The Mommy Problem"

Yay, West Wing! I'm happy now. :)

I was still dead-tired by the shoot when I watched this episode, so I have only scattered comments:

-- I hope Janeane Garofalo sticks around for most or all of the season. Her character and Josh are both extremely smart, verbal and confident; it'll be fun to watch those two fight.

-- Very funny scene in the elevator. I don't know about Josh, but Santos had me fooled (until he started talking about long walks on the beach).

-- After last season, I was convinced Toby was the leaker. Now I'm not so sure.

-- The circling camera was back in a few scenes, which I hate even when my brain is firing on all cylinders.

-- Vinick was present as an offscreen threat, but we didn't see enough of Alan Alda. Sounds like he'll be a big part of next week's episode, though.

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White Sox 5, Red Sox 0 ...

... and that's just after the first inning. Ouch.

Update: after I wrote the below paragraph, I checked the score. Now it's 6-0. *wince*

In other baseball blather, even though the playoffs are just starting, the fantasy baseball season is done. I lost track of my rosters near the end, so I wasn't shocked that I finished 14 points out of first in one of my leagues. In the other league I fared much better than I expected; even though I was in fourth, I was only 2.5 points out of first, and 11 points better than the fifth-place team. The commissioner has asked whether folks want to make it a keeper league, and I might take him up on it.

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L'shanah tovah!

In celebration of Rosh Hashanah, here's a fun link my wife got via e-mail (make sure to turn the sound on):

Shofar Idol

Happy New Year, everyone!

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Monday, October 03, 2005

Film is shot ...

... and so am I. *thud*

Both the wife and I managed to survive yesterday's shoot, despite several factors that would make anyone tear her hair out:

-- the shaky nerves of the director, who had not touched a 16mm camera in almost a year

-- the sheer time it takes to load a roll of film into a camera, partially of said shaky nerves

-- the absence of a fellow student, who had committed to help but encountered transportation issues

-- the lack of natural light in the room

-- the lack of space (aka overabundance of immovable furniture) in the room

-- the lack of brains on the part of the director, who wrote a script requiring shot after shot after shot, instead of something that could be done in a few takes

The wife, who graciously agreed to act as well as schlep equipment back to the school, was very patient throughout the whole process. (I owe her a huge birthday present.) As for me, I've learned again that when it comes to 16mm, simpler is better. I've already come up with my next project: "Apartment", modeled on a film by Andy Warhol. Too bad we're supposed to do dialogue films in Production II.

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Saturday, October 01, 2005


Yankees 8, Sox 4

This means New York wins the AL East -- again. For the eighth time in a row.

Dammit, dammit, dammit.

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