Behind-the-Scenes Show Biz Superstars

I’ve been pleased to see all the memes on social media reminded everyone that they’re taking solace in the output of artists, whether it’s books, music, or films.

So many of my friends are not only creative freelancers, but ones involved with film, theater, and television: creative pursuits where they have to go someplace to do their gig and get paid. And those places are, by and large, now closed (film and TV production has halted across the continent and live theaters are, by and large, closed).

This is not to diminish any other job which requires one go to a physical space to do it. So many of us have to do it (and I’m now acutely aware of all my friends in “essential” jobs that now find themselves on “front lines”), but part of the fun of doing some of these creative jobs is you go to a certain place and do your best to make some magic.

Kirk McKoy / for a Los Angeles article on the Kroffts

Perhaps no group is associated with some childhood magic-making in the 70s, outside of Jim Henson and his cohorts, would be Sid and Marty Krofft.

While I’ll be honest that their many shows were never “must-see TV” like “The Muppet Show,” I absorbed them all, forming a critical part of my generation’s 70s psychedelic pop culture references.

Anecdotally, I’ve heard many positive things about working on the Krofft shows, so, especially given my own minor efforts to make magic, I’m always interested in what makes teams work.

Matt Hurwitz delves into the history and people involved in Krofft shows in an article in Variety from February this year… and Jevon Phillips, in an article from 4 years ago from the LA Times, goes into some of the reboots the Kroffts have been doing.

Successful Self-Publishing Case Studies

Given the sheer numbers of self-published books, it statistically unlikely that someone will make a living via self-publishing… except that given the sheer number of self-published books there’s a non-trivial number of writers who make a living via self-publishing.

So with that caveat in mind, take a look at Sam Haysom’s article on Mashable about three self-published authors who have succeeded.

Roll for Initiative… at a distance

I’ve been compiling the various resources and freebies that people are posting daily on the Interwebs as ways to combat the coronavirus isolation.

One activity I sorely want to try in the coming weeks is delving back into some role playing games (RPGs)… and, in fact, it’s possible that might be an activity to do with my kids.

So Paul Darvasi’s article for KQED is a treasure trove of ideas about how one can use RPGs for educating people (and honestly, just being a better gamemaster).

In addition, since we’re now in stay-at-home mode, Charlie Hall has a great article on Polygon about how to run your RPG online. I’ve used Roll20 before, but I’m thinking trying straight video may be easier to just jump in. I just need to work on the descriptions.

Tips on Isolation from Astronauts

It’s week two of a lot of us Americans staying at home. Per historian and librarian recommendation, I am keeping a journal during this time. Lesson plans and activities are set up for the kids. We’re doing our best to make sure Jabberwocky Audio Theater continues as planned for this year. And of course, there’s some home projects that are rearing both their practical and sanity-based heads.

In the face of all this, it can be kind of overwhelming, so it’s been nice see the take on some isolation subject matter experts: astronauts. Former Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield has a nice quick two-minute video that might help you feel a bit more centered:

And if you want a longer, written take, former astronaut Scott Kelly has a great piece in the New York Times that covers some of the same topics in detail. I especially appreciate the idea of pacing oneself.

Science Fiction Tropes, Ranked (Barnes & Noble Edition)

I’ve posted about science fiction tropes before, but as we’re now deep into the Era of Social Distancing, at least some writing has got to happen, right?

So here’s another list ranking tropes via Ross Johnson for Barnes & Noble. I might quibble with the ranking of the top 5 (dystopian governments and time travel would be my 2 and 1 respectively), but everything on the list should give you a knowing nod or a smile.

And who doesn’t like space pirates?

A drop of water for your thoughts…

In the face of global pandemic? Muppets.

Much of this week has been adjusting to the very new reality of self-quarantining (well, with the fam). My social media feeds are now almost exclusively news and reports about the coronavirus striking the globe and memes to try and help with it.

Replicating the social media feed seems quite pointless, but I’ll certainly post links to resources or other fun things as relevant.

For now, one recommendation, which I heartily endorse, was for families to take respite in the original Muppet Movie.

Perhaps after that, and perhaps only for you and older kids, you may also be interested in the camera tests they did to see how the Muppets could work in “natural habitats” and, well, it gets a little Samuel Beckett.

The Mind and Music

Someone posted about Bobby McFerrin earlier this week (who many people still know best from his song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy“) and that made me think of this short video where he shows how humans naturally think in musical terms:

If you like the video above, it’s part of an overall talk that is just delightful in a geeky sort of way (which I’m biased towards anyway.

An hour and forty-five minutes of music/science goodness.

Star Trek Fandom: Generations

Readers know I have an abiding interest in Star Trek (as evidenced in part by my previous series of posts, Crisis of Infinite Star Treks).

So it should come as no surprise I happily devoured the data and geekery on display in Keith Wilson’s Medium entry last month all about Star Trek fandom likes and dislikes.

From over 3,500 responses, he breaks down Trek fans’ likes and dislikes of the various series and by different generations, with Millenials and Gen X being the most represented. Apparently, he’ll have a second installment of results coming after the season finale of Picard, so I’ll post about that too.

The Chess Game has Ended: R.I.P. Max von Sydow

A towering presence in cinema –literal and figurative– had died. Max von Sydow, an actor we’ve seen on screens since the 1950s, has died at the age of 90.

You can read (and listen) to accounts in the BBC, Variety, and NPR among many others.

What struck many of us moviegoers was the wide range of parts he would play… and could play with such quiet conviction. Here is a man who played the Son of God as well as the Eternal Adversary. But whether as tormentor or tormented, he would bring a bit of gravitas to whatever work he was in, even if the work was more than a little cartoony (I’m looking at you, Ming).

You never ask why Max von Sydow is in a film, but you may ask, “How much?”

His unequivocally prolific body of work means that audiences will find him in dozens of films for decades to come — and personally, that has always been a delight. Especially for some of his later work, where he moved from leading man to supporting character, his presence wasn’t always announced, so I adored his appearance in Intacto and wished for a few more scenes of him in Star Wars, but enjoyed it nonetheless.

It’s hard to wrap your head around him being gone.

As some have noted, he’s been a presence in our cinema lives for so long, it’s hard to imagine him not popping up again in this TV show or that movie, whether to be chilling or entertaining, but always affecting.

It’s been one amazing chess game, sir. Well played.

Wouldja Believe? It’s a Five-Year Blogiversary!

Obligatory if somewhat dated pop culture reference.

Back on March 1st, 2015, I re-entered the web world with a personal website, something I really hadn’t had since the 90s, which in Internet terms is ancient history.

Perhaps because March 1st doesn’t correspond with any other anniversaries in my life, I keep on meaning to do an annual retrospective about posts and such on the blog, but keep on forgetting.

This year, however, I made sure to set a reminder for myself. As with any eponymous blog, this post is mainly a self-indulgence, but for anyone who wants to go back and check some of the posts (over 400!), here’s an accounting of the “greatest hits” and some of the “deep cuts.”

Star Trek

Of course, these posts topped the list. My series, Crisis of Infinite Star Treks, lasted almost the full five years. There were long and short entries and ones that I thought were better than others. The three that seemed to best represent the series are:

Writing

I was pleasantly surprised to see how many of my posts about writing got so many views. Writing and trying to do more work as a writer is near and dear to me… and frankly, one of the reasons I’m online anyway.

Granted, most of the posts are mainly linking to or commenting on articles or resources I found online, but it’s been great to share what I know. Some of the most read have been:

Integrally linked to many of these articles are the posts which talk more about motivation (one of them is up there). That was led to several posts about finding purpose, meaning, and motivation… often explicitly disconnected from a paycheck. These were a lot of fun to write (and probably helped me work through some thoughts):

Personal Favorites… and other odds and ends

As indicated above, part of the fun of a blog is the ability to indulge your whims and flights of fancy, often without a care for deadlines or the editorial rigor you yourself might expect from a magazine article.

Many of the posts grow out of articles I read online that I want to expand on, which include.

Less fun, but very cathartic, has been writing remembrances

Finally, there’s a few that I enjoyed writing just for fun and I fully expect to add to that category in the next few years:

So for those of you who have popped over to this blog, thank you. I hope you’ve enjoyed the links and the articles and the geekery.

I’ll probably do another of these sooner than five years hence.