Category Archives: blogging

Disney, Lucasfilm and Me

Its a few days late, but I’ve been busy, sue me…..

 

Ill be honest, my knee-jerk reaction to the news that valley native George Lucas (thats right, I work in Modesto, past home to Georgie Lucas and setting of American Graffitti) had sold Lucasfilm to Disney for $4.05 BILLION was “oh, ok whatever”. Then it became “goddammit! now the movies are going to get worse!”, and finally its become somewhere in between. Lemme esplain…..

On the one hand, I grew up on a dirty version of Star Wars, one where Han shoots first and flips the barkeep a chit, Jedi shamelessly remove limbs from surly bar patrons, gang bosses keep personal slaves on shackles, poorly performing naval officers are chocked to death on the spot without guilt, friends are still possibly enemies and a pirate is ONLY out for himself. It was overall a darker, grittier universe where salvation, justice and redemption came out of very personally rewarding behavior. The return of Han and Chewie at the end of Episode IV was only successful because Han spent the entire film prior to that being completely self-interested and selfish and the payoff was the surprise run in at the trench, saving Luke’s butt. Lucas would go on to re-edit Ep IV so that Greedo shoots first and insert a bunch of other comedically cuddly antics in the cut scenes of Jawas on Rontos and other nonsense….

I guess what Im saying is, if Lucas is doing that to his own work, what in the hell do you think that Disney will do to it? The SW universe will become more glossed over, evil will be more generically evil, good will become more saccharine and cloyingly ‘good’ and there really wont be much unexpected happening. Anyone who has read a few books or watched a few decent films will be able to guess what “twists” will happen. Applied to Ep’s 7-9, what are they going to do? If they follow much of the established, published literature, there are a lot of great characters to use and build from, but they will lose much of the depth that was present in the writing because they were more morally complex that Disney can really deal with. One might argue that the Pirates of the Caribbean was full of moral pitfalls and complexity, but those films enjoyed the pretext that they were Pirates, and such, already morally dubious so as long as they finished or hinted at a morality that developed an inch or two towards the ‘good’ end of the spectrum they were safe. TheGood vs Evil nature of the SW universe however, makes it easy for Disney to foul it all up.

 

On the other hand now…..am I going to throw my money at the projection screen and go see the new movies? OF FUCKING COURSE I AM YOU DUMMIES! Are you kidding me? Even after they’ve proven that they fouled the entire thing up, Ill still see the films at least. On top of that, there is one thing that Disney does exceedingly well: develop intellectual properties that sell well to the entire family without losing their kid-friendliness. (See the Pirates franchise, the Marvel films minus Sony’s Spiderman, Haunted Mansion to a lesser extent). I have no doubt that if I had not grown up a Star Wars kid, my kid will now undoubtedly grow up as one , connecting to the new series, which will give me something to bond with him over (not to mention a reason to force feed him the classic, unedited versions of 4-5-6)

 

Perhaps you can see now why I’m on the fence about this whole thing? I can say this: at the very least Lucas has done some good with this transaction because he is set to donate the proceeds from the sale to an as of yet unnamed (although there are educated guesses) to children’s education.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/02/george-lucas-donate-4-billion_n_2067145.html


Special interests

Going after special interest groups for buying politicians votes is like going after the guy your wife is cheating on you with…Its just shortsighted and idiotic. This country is comprised of nothing but individuals with individual interests and pursuits. What should really grate your cheese are politicians that are obviously ignoring their districts and servicing primarily special interests. These are the people you put into office to represent you, but you’re getting pissed at the ones that are offer the bribes (or what amount to bribes)?! Thats the cart pushing the donkey. Turn it around, you don’t like your rep being beholden to special interests? Vote in a new guy, if he/she fails, vote someone else in… its called political evolution. Once the politicians get a whiff that they won’t have a job very long if they don’t service their constituents at least as much as they service special interests, they’ll starting getting things done that you ask of them. Its pretty simple people. Special interests aren’t the problem, your shitty vote is the problem. Start caring more about the legislative and political process and less about television and Facebook, and there might be some positive progress…

 

rant over…


Call me a beer snob, but…..

http://www.wineryexchange.com/beer.asp

Maybe this is a sign of an impending market collapse for craft beer? Im not one to begrudge anyone the opportunity to make a dollar or two, but this reeks of empty capitalist opportunism in the worst sense. Dont get me wrong, Im no dirty socialist (whatever THAT means these days), but a big part of the reason that I became enthusiastic about craft beer is the incredible number of stories behind small brewers, brewpubs and craft brewers that can be summed up as such: “We couldn’t find the beer we like to drink, so we decided we would learn how and eventually just go into business making the beer we like, the best way we know how to make it and hopefully enough other people like it to keep us in business…” granted, this isnt the same story for EVERYone, but an aggregate market sketch of sorts.

‘What are these guys possibly doing?’ you might ask. The short version is that they are approaching contract brewers with product concept, asking for something in return that fulfills the idea, re-packaging,selling and marketing these relatively non-descript beers in national and regional chain grocery markets in a way that implies the same or similar handcrafted origin that defines ACTUAL craft brewers, but obviously for a much better price. These people are literally nothing more than profiteers with nothing of their own to say except to try and grasp at whatever dollars they reach from people’s pockets that don’t have any idea how the beer industry operates. It looks enough like craft beer, tastes reasonably close/similar to other craft beers, but costs less than good craft beers. Normally I am the first one to argue that everyone should unapologetically drink what they like to drink, I don’t care of its Corona or Miller light, or as much Pliny the Younger as you can get a hold of, enjoy it all you want. The difference is, going into those transactions the consumer has certain expectations and there is an above board nature to it. Someone drinking Bud Light has no pretense that it might be a specially crafted beer, its widely understood to be an industrial light lager that doesnt cost much at all. But this contract brewing nonsense, it feels………deceitful, as though someone thinks they’re going to be drinking an honestly brewed beer, but instead are being sold a false bill of goods. Whats worse is that the people being taken advantage of are the ones that don’t know anything about the craft industry. Those that do know generally avoid these beers, knowing that they dont come from a legitimate craft brewer, so it is almost as if its twice the sin because its the ignorant being fleeced.

By the end of the 90’s the craft beer bubble was bursting thanks to similar products flooding the market, mostly nondescript amber ales with over processed and thinly conceived marketing notions trying to sell poorly made generic reddish beer. I know that the craft market is only 10% of the total market (less than that actually), but if the big brewers (AB Inbev, et al) are entering the market with their own craft brands, maybe its time for all of us craft beer drinkers to start looking more closely at what were drinking and try to help educate our friends to avoid buying these duplicitous products, maybe we can help to avoid another bubble burst…


Feeling Good, working on outlines…

So week one of training is over and truth be told, I wasn’t expectingto feel as good about as everything as I do know. Its honestly amazing what a little bit of hope and a future with some potentials will do for a guys self-esteem and overall emotional well being…..

 

That being said….

 

Ive actually begun to recall a lot of the fiction, stories and general arcs Ive been wanting to write and expand on, provide detail for and bring to life so as Iget some of it finished, I think Ill be posting some of the smaller pieces here for fun and feedback. the larger pieces I suppose Ill keep to myself until I get things polished enough to possibly pursue publishing…. in the meantime, keep an eye here and at my gaming blog (http://calethorne.wordpress.com) for more work.

 

In the meantime…..WALKING DEAD IS BACK TOMORROW!