Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Wild Life

I have neglected this blog. I've been a little busy. You can find my daily updates on Facebook. Figured now was as good of a time as any to update this blog, since I am quoted in today's Daily News in Troy Anderson's article. It is a story about how residents can protect themselves from wild animals (coyotes, bears, etc.)

Residents in the foothills and near the burn areas need to be cautious about wild animals displaced by the Station Fire and subsequent debris flows, said Los Angeles County Agricultural Commissioner's Office spokesman Ken Pellman.

He suggested residents keep a close eye on small children and avoid jogging or hiking near wildlife areas when animals are most active - dusk, nighttime and dawn.

"We want people to know the No. 1 way they can protect themselves is not to leave anything that could be considered food outside - whether that's food or pets," Pellman said. "People should keep their garbage cans tightly sealed and if they see a wild animal not to approach it, especially bear cubs."

You are warned.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Splash Mountain is 20, My Farewell to Bruce Gordon

My latest column is now online at Splash Mountain at Disneyland is turning 20. I discuss the history of the attraction and write my farewell to the late Show Producer of the attraction, Bruce Gordon. He was a hero of mine.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Terminator Salvation

[UPDATED] Kori and I saw "Terminator Salvation" on Friday, thanks to her sister and brother-in-law watching Keelie. We get out to see movies so rarely these days.

I liked "The Terminator", I liked "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" a lot (first film I saw at the Big Newport), and I thought theme park attraction "Terminator 2:3D Battle Across Time" was awesome (but in all fairness I did know one of the main creative forces behind it an I was interning for a company that was involved).

Here's a little of what I wrote about "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines"...

The film delivers what it promises, though it is no great leap forward like "Judgment Day" was.
I ended up referring readers of my e-mail review to a review by someone I know, who had pretty much said what I had to say.

I ended my review of T3 with this:

Pellman's Bottom Line(TM): Machines Fighting! Explosions! Car chases! Jokes!
Pellman's Rating: 3 Brooms(TM) out of 4
Pellman's Suggestion (Theater or Home Viewing)(TM): Theater!
The Fox Network recently ran two seasons of The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which takes place after the events in T2 and goes in a different direction than T3 (hey, with time travel, anything is excusable).

And now we have "Terminator Salvation" (TS) with a different director (McG) and the same writers as T3, and still another John Connor (Christian Bale), Bryce Dallas Howard as his wife (instead of Claire Danes), no Dr. Silberman cameo (sorry!), and no Schwarzenegger (though we get a brief digital depiction of his character), who is busy trying to figure out how to prevent California from falling to pieces.

We get to see Kyle Reese again, albeit younger than he was in the original film.

Hey, and Danny Elfman is doing the music!

Anyway, T3 was rated "R" (violence), TS is rated "PG-13". Unlike all of the previous material, which mostly takes place in the audience's times, this film has no time travelers and takes place almost entirely in the future after Judgment Day - or the day the nukes were launched by self-aware machines in an attempt to crush humanity. As such, the film has a very different feel than all of the previous material.

It wasn't a good sign that days before TS was released, Fox announced that The Sarah Connor Chronicles wasn't returning. Presumably, the people making that decision had seen TS, and I would imagine if they liked what they saw, the TV series would have been kept. Or maybe I am overestimating TV network programmers.

All of the media I mention above is the extent of my Terminator knowledge. I have not read/played/seen anything else, like novelizations, games, comic books, etc. So perhaps some of my questions would have been answered if I had. Like... why doesn't Skynet send a really, really, really advanced Terminator (or heck, just a nuke) back in time to kill John's mother, Sarah Connor, when she is, oh, seven years old or so? Or heck, just push her mother down the stairs when she is pregnant with Sarah. Presumably everything hinges on John Connor being conceived, growing up, and leading a human resistance movement against the machines. However, Skynet always seems to find a way to launch Judgment Day no matter how many times the Connors and their friends change things. Are we to believe the human resistance would not also find a way? Maybe that will be addressed in any future films – if they can get greenlit. Ah, time travel always presents thorny issues, now doesn’t it? Just ask The Other Marty McFly. You are missed, Bruce!

TS gets into some issues about the nature of consciousness, and what it means to be human vs. what it means to be a machine. Only barely.

We finally get to see John Connor in action as an adult. But the more interesting character is Sam Worthington's Marcus Right, whose status as the film opens is the only reason the ending makes any sense. Early on, the film alludes to some people thinking John Connor is a prophet. Although he does have loyal "followers", he's not officially in leadership of the human resistance, as implied by the previous films - I'm assuming the events of this film are meant to explain how John gets to that position. The "prophet" aspect barely comes into play, which is a shame, because it could have been a very interesting angle on the sociology of the human survivors and factioning of the resistance.

Much like T3, if you like films with action, futuristic warfare, and things blowing up, this film certainly has those things (as my son, still in the womb of his hyperreactive mother knows), but it just doesn't have the punch that came with T2. There are some great special effects and other cool things the creative types came up with. You'll enjoy the film even more if you've never seen "Total Recall", ...and that’s all I have to say about that.

Unfortunately, Cindy hasn't posted a review of this film as of this writing, so I can't link to her review, which I'm sure would/will be great and say it all much better. UPDATE: Cindy has indeed posted a review, this time on her blog. Click here, but be warned... it contains spoilers.

Pellman's Bottom Line(TM): Machines Fighting! Explosions! Car Chases! Post-Apocalyptic America Without Jokey References to Current Events!
Pellman's Rating: 2.5 Brooms(TM) out of 4
Pellman's Suggestion (Theater or Home Viewing)(TM): Theater! – That is, if you really care to see it at all.

Official Website

Sunday, February 22, 2009

KLSX Drops FM Talk, Goes Top 40 - Yuck

"He knows changes aren't permanent
But change is"
-Rush, "Tom Sawyer"

This past Friday at 5pm, the Los Angeles area radio market "welcomed" a new Top 40 station. CBS replaced the previous format at 97.1 KLSX, which had been "FM Talk", also known over the years as "Free FM" - to contrast it with the subscription satellite radio services right after Howard Stern left CBS radio (and affiliate KLSX) for Sirius, and "Real Radio" - to contrast it with... uh... imaginary radio? I don't know.

But essentially it was all the same - talk radio on FM, geared toward a different audience then most AM talk, and quite different from public radio. I remember being disappointed when KLSX switched from music to talk. The KLSX call letters were a play on "classics", as in "classic rock", and I liked classic rock. For years after the station added Howard Stern as he rolled out his New York-based show in more and more markets, it was "Howard Stern all morning, classic rock all day."

But they added other talkers during the week, and eventually dropped the music from the weekends.

And it was generally not good. Howard Stern called it "Radio Hindenburg". At least KLOS 95.5 FM was still around to play classic rock.

Eventually, the situation improved and stabilized with the replacement of the original lineup. Tom Leykis, who had, some years before, been on L.A. talk station KFI AM 640, landed in the afternoon drive slot. Jamie White refugees Frosty, Heidi, and Frank, out from the morning co-hosting duties at music station Star 98.7 FM (where Ryan Seacret started his quest for world domination), filled in the time between Stern and Leykis. Tim Conway Jr. and a couple of different co-hosts had the night slot.

A few years back, Howard Stern left for Sirius, and CBS struggled to fill the void. David Lee Roth handled some of the eastern stations for a a short while before being given the boot. Adam Carolla, he of "Loveline" and "The Man Show" fame, got the western radio stations. Carolla stuck, though his co-hosts changed.

From what the hosts have said, and what has been printed in the news, it sounds like the demise of KLSX as "FM Talk" is a combination of factors, including the loss of Stern, the introduction of new ratings systems (portable people meters), new media and podcasting, and the general economic downturn.

The first radio station I remember flipping was KMET 94.7 FM. My older sister and I used to listen to it – especially the Dr. Demento show on Sunday nights, but also the music the rest of the time. Coincidently, when KLSX started up, it was seen as being a slight recovery of the charm of KMET, as it had some of the personalities and other elements that had been at KMET.

Over the years, DJs and hosts come and go on various stations, and stations come and go – in recent years more often because a company decided to change formats, rather than another company buying the station. I remember 100.3 FM being KIQQ and also Pirate Radio (and also a bunch of formats that didn’t interest me in the slightest), but recently it became "The Sound" – which is okay. I remember 103.1 FM being "Mars" (which seemed like it was trying to horn in on the long-running KROQ 106.7) and more recently "Indie". But now, like so many other stations before it in the Los Angeles area, it is some genre of Spanish music.

For some reason, changes in radio seem to be a bigger deal to me and so many other people than changes on TV. Perhaps because we listen to the radio while stuck in traffic, or doing other activities we really can't do while concentrating on a TV show. Perhaps it is because of the interactive nature of shows that take calls, or that our hosts will be on the air for 3-5 hours at a time, often five days a week, while TV shows might be a half an hour a day, or as much as an hour, but are often only weekly.

I tend to listen to talk and news, in part because of my job and my commute (traffic reports). But I do check out music when the talkers take a commercial break, as they often seem to be on the same clock in terms of when they take those breaks. But I rarely find anything on Top 40 radio that I enjoy these days. So KLSX has been replaced on that preset button.

Changes are to be expected. Personalities grow, retire, or get fired, or get downsized, or die. Changes in populations and in music make format changes inevitable. But being the creatures of habit that we are, we tend to hate abrupt changes. And there have been a lot of those in recent months on Los Angeles radio.

Goodbye, KLSX.