Happy New Site

In just about 15 minutes, I’ll throw the switch — metaphorically speaking, for there is no actual switch — on the new website I’ve been alluding to recently. It’s for my friend Sara (and will appear at www.sarahickman.com at midnight), and I’ve been working on it for months. But March 31 is the big day, the day when her new album hits the radio, and the day that the new site appears to reinforce the branding of the upcoming double-CD.
This is the beginning of some big stuff, I can feel it in my bones. Well, actually, it’s the end of a lot of long production processes from songwriting to mixing; but it’s the beginning of a new phase in her career and I am incredibly optimistic and excited about it all and so happy for her. And it’s so exciting, too, to be a small part of it all and watching as things happen.
Anyway, I’m sitting here waiting for the clock to tick over to midnight, Eastern time, so I can do the old switcheroo. Tick, tick, tick… where’s Dick Clark when I need him?

Time for a festival


Well, I’ll be damned. Here I’ve been thinking about planting a dogwood in my front yard to remind me of home, and all along I’ve had a reminder of DC right outside my kitchen door: a Japanese Cherry Tree!
I really had no idea what it was until this week when the first blooms started to pop, and then just to double check I looked it up on a few websites. Sure enough, I have a Weeping Japanese Cherry, and by this time next week it will probably be ablaze with blooms… parade plans to be announced later.

I’m no chef

Listen. I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t even put his Pop-Tarts into the toaster. That’s just one step too many for me.
So when I get a Lean Cuisine that requires microwaving for a certain amount of time at a certain power level, then lifting plastic, stirring, putting plastic back, more cooking for a specific time at a specific power, then standing for a certain amount of time… well, that’s just cooking. Which kind of defeats the purpose of the cheap microwave dinner in the first place, doesn’t it?

From the “What’s the point?” file

Here’s one of those things I just don’t quite understand. Here in the Bay Area, KGO-DT promotes their “Sky 7 HD”, a high definition camera on their chopper. And true to its name, Sky 7 HD is nice enough, but kind of pointless. Like most news choppers, it rarely shows any news, but rather sends back aerial footage over a place where news happened earlier in the day.
But here’s what I find confusing about it. The chopper footage is indeed 16×9 high definition, but nothing else is. The news programming is in standard definition, in the 4×3 format. So, they have all the HD switching and encoding equipment, they’re sending out an HD program stream… but only the insert shots from the chopper are actually in HD. And they actually have a different feed for the analog station, with different graphics and a cropped 4×3 picture.
C’mon, KGO. Even I have an HD camera. You can afford a pretty much useless chopper with an HD camera, but no HD in the studio?

In Development: The Past

As The West Wing and Will & Grace begin the final march to a finale, there is darned little left on television that I watch. Lost and Medium are still about, and as always, the networks are scrambling to copy the successful shows. Now, I’m no network suit, but I can clearly see that the shows which become hits are always the ones that are new and break the mold. So, why do they always rush unoriginal copies into production? Cases in point:


RAINES (NBC) – Linda Park (Ensign Hoshi Sato on “Star Trek: Enterprise”) and Matt Craven (Capra on “Assault on Precinct 13”) have both joined the cast of the drama pilot, about an eccentric, brilliant cop (Jeff Goldblum) who talks to dead victims that help him solve his cases. They’ll play Sally Lance and Captain Daniel Lewis in the NBC Universal Television-based hour, which also stars Dov Davidoff, Luis Guzmán and Nicole Sullivan. Graham Yost is behind the project, which Frank Darabont is directing.

Copies of “Alias”

COMPANY TOWN (CBS) – Esai Morales (Lt. Tony Rodriguez on “N.Y.P.D. Blue”) has snagged a role on the drama pilot, about government officials who live in the same Washington, D.C. suburban neighborhood. He’ll play Ray Dupre, who’s detailed in the casting notice as: “40’s. Ray is a completely undercover CIA agent who keeps a low profile and is usually seen in the company of the much younger Jessa, who is presumed to be his wife or girlfriend by curious neighbors. As one who oversees covert missions, he is actually readying Jessa for her next assignment. Although their relationship is strictly professional, there are moments where he detaches himself from his mentor façade and feels genuine concern for his new trainee.” Morales joins the previously cast Blair Underwood, Catherine Bell, Gary Cole, Michael Michele and Sherry Stringfield in the CBS Paramount Network Television-based hour, which comes from creator Elwood Reid, executive producer Larry Sanitsky and director Thomas Carter.

EDISON (CBS) – Joe Manganiello (Scott on “So Notorious”) and Arija Bareikis (Det. Annie Capra on “Crossing Jordan”) have both joined the cast of the drama pilot, about an L.A. detective (John Leguizamo) who relies on impersonations and disguises to solve crimes. Manganiello will play a former hockey player-turned-AA group leader in the CBS Paramount Network Television/Touchstone Television-based hour, while Bareikis’s character wasn’t specified. The duo join the previously cast Currie Graham and Deidrie Henry in the project, which Kevin Rodney Sullivan is directing from a script by Ron Milbauer and Terri Hughes. Leguizamo and David Hoberman also serve as executive producers.

Boston Legal (or any other lawyer show)

IN THE SHADOW OF THE LAW (CBS) – Harry J. Lennix (Jim Gardner on “Commander in Chief”) and Monet Mazur (Fiona on “Monster-in-Law”) have both joined the cast of the drama pilot, about a group of smart legal associates trying to make partner at a powerful Washington, D.C.-based law firm while dealing with a host of moral, ethical and legal challenges. Lennix, whose involvement is in second position to his duties on “Chief,” will play Finn with Mazur set as Katja. Carol Mendelsohn is behind the CBS Paramount Network Television-based hour, which Danny Cannon is directing. Alan Tudyk, Jacob Pitts, Joshua Jackson and Kevin Pollak also star.

Remember Twin Peaks?

SECRETS OF A SMALL TOWN (ABC) – Matt Long (Jack McCallister on “Jack & Bobby”), Lucy Hale (“American Juniors”), Samantha Mathis (Maria Castle on “The Punisher”), Leighton Meester (Savannah Barnett on “Surface”), Jacob Smith (Tommy Ferguson on “Miracles”) and Brian Van Holt (Sean Cavennaugh on “Threshold”) have all reportedly joined the cast of the drama pilot, about the murder of a teenage girl and the disappearance of her sister in a small town – events which kick off a chain reaction that leads to both emotional and humorous discoveries that have been long buried. No details about their characters – Chad, Tisha, Sam, Kayla, Peter and Tom – were released. The group joins the previously cast Angie Harmon, Denise Richards, John L. Adams, John Terry, Sean Patrick Flanery and Tyler Christopher in the Touchstone Television-based hour, which comes from creator Charles Pratt, Jr. and director Adam Davidson. Bert Salke and Chris Brancato also serve as executive producers.

How about St. Elmo’s Fire?

SIX DEGREES (ABC) – Bridget Moynahan (Ava Fontaine Orlov on “Lord of War”) is in talks to join the cast of the drama pilot, about a group of six post-college young adults whose lives intertwine in various ways. She’d play Whitney in the Touchstone Television-based hour, which also stars Campbell Scott, Dorian Missick, Erika Christensen, Hope Davis and Jay Hernandez. Raven Metzner and Stu Zicherman are behind the hour, which is also executive produced by Bryan Burk, J.J. Abrams and Thom Sherman. Rodrigo García is directing.

And dipping way back in the past, The Fugitive

RUNAWAY (The CW) – Karen LeBlanc (Rayven Pierre on “Kevin Hill”) and Susan Floyd (Jessica Sheets on “Law & Order”) have both booked roles on the drama pilot, about a family who, after the husband/father’s (Donnie Wahlberg) murder conviction, decide to become fugitives in the hopes that they can buy him enough time to prove his innocence. LeBlanc will play Angela, a U.S. Marshal on their tail, while Floyd’s character wasn’t specified. Dustin Milligan, Leslie Hope and Nathan Gamble also star in the Sony Pictures Television-based hour, which comes from executive producers Chad Hodge, Darren Star and Ed Zuckerman. Mikael Salomon is directing from a script by Hodge.

Dumped on San Jose

In the last years of the 1880s, San Jose built a huge light tower straddling an intersection downtown. It was meant to light up the downtown area, but was never very good and ended up in a heap during a wind storm in 1915.
In 1989, 74 years later, San Jose got some kind of a wild hair, and sued the city of Paris and the Eiffel family for copyright infringement, claiming that Eiffel stole his design. This lawsuit was unsuccessful. But perhaps there’s hope for San Jose yet.
The latest monstrosity downtown is the strangely fecal statue of Quetzacoatl, seen here in a photo by San Jose’s erstwhile “Underbelly” historian, Eric Carlson.


Now, I give you the latest craze in Japan:


I think that San Jose had better get its crack team of attorneys ready for a trip to Tokyo.


Some guy here is suing eHarmony because they won’t match him up for a date due to the fact that he is still legally married.

Technically, Claassen says, he is legally separated. But that’s not good enough for eHarmony, which says it is in the business of matching singles “free of relationship commitments.” That puts him in cyber-dating limbo.

“Most people don’t file a suit to get a date,” Claassen said Friday after filing a civil rights suit last week in Alameda County Superior Court. “If I had my druthers, I’d be divorced by now. I’m emotionally in a different state than I am legally,” the 36-year-old Emeryville lawyer said.

Claassen alleges eHarmony is discriminating against him on the basis of his marital status. He and his wife of eight years separated last May, and he expects the divorce to be final within two months. When he reached marital status on eHarmony’s online compatibility profile, he responded truthfully: “legally separated.”

But eHarmony says its policy is clear: No marrieds need apply.

Citing California civil code, section 51, Claassen alleges eHarmony, based in Pasadena, is breaking state law because it is denying him access to its matching service based on marital status. He seeks $12,000 in civil penalties.

In its defense, the cyber love-finder cites customer surveys and focus group testing that show a vast majority of its potential users want their matches to be divorced, widowed or never married at all.

EHarmony customer service explained to Claassen in an e-mail that “we have to create rules based on what’s best for most people, most of the time.” And they welcome him back — “once your divorce is final.” But Claassen isn’t waiting.

He is “miffed.”

“After taking two hours to fill out their online profile,” he said, “a message popped up at the end saying they would not find me a match.”

Good thing he isn’t gay, because then he’d find out that eHarmony won’t even come near you. This is hardly a surprise, because eHarmony is an outfit run by Neil Clark Warren, an evengelical Christian who was part of Focus On The Family. eHarmony was heavily promoted by James Dobson, the reprehensible head of FOTF, until Warren decided there was more money to be made by going outside the fundamentalist market — but the focus of eHarmony did not change.
So, any informed consumer should know what they are getting into with this website. I hardly think that it’s worth suing over; these days if someone looks at you the wrong way, the solution is a lawsuit.

Buried along with her name… nobody came

Today is the day that yet another lawsuit against Apple begins.
Were you confused there by which “Apple” I was referring to? Of course you weren’t. But the folks at Apple Corps are worried that you might be. At least, that’s their story.
The latest lawsuit — for there have been several — is the hot topic today in the news media and on Apple fan blogs.
Apple Corps started out as a big idea by the Beatles back in 1968, but it was run poorly and fell apart pretty quickly. It included subsidiaries such as Apple Films, which made only a couple arty documentaries; Apple Electronics, which created impractical and unsellable radios; Apple Publishing, which was the music publishing arm but didn’t publish the Beatles music; Apple Retail, which opened a boutique in London which only lasted 8 months despite the hype of being owned by the Beatles; Apple Studio, a recording studio that wasn’t fit for recording in; and Apple Records, which was the only profit-making part of the venture. Still, Apple Records only released the Beatles music, it didn’t own it.
So, isn’t it interesting how Apple Computer has dipped its toe into many of these business areas and made a huge success of them?
Today, Apple Corps is simply a holding company that licenses Beatles products… but still doesn’t actually own the Beatles music. It is a company that is rapidly losing what little value it once had as the Beatles themselves begin to pass into history. The fact that the Beatles catalog is not available for download anywhere at any price is indicative of the failure to properly market and keep the Beatles alive, and I fear that their music will die a lingering death save for a few hardcore fans — the story of many 1960s pop icons. They have not embraced the future (even their website is a placeholder, in 2006), and they should be consigned to the bin.
Apple Corps is keeping itself alive only by suing Apple Computer with spurious claims of trademark infringement. My own opinion is that Apple Corps is not a viable business that is threatened by Apple Computer, that they have nothing other than the name to trade on. Since 1978, they’ve taken in about $27,000,000 from settlements with Apple Computer, and now they want more — because they are a failure in the music business while Apple Computer is thriving.
Apple Computer has what is arguably the most recognized brand in the world. I think it is obvious that Apple Corps no longer has claim to the name, as they haven’t used it except to sue over. It’s time to hand the name over once and for all to Cupertino. It all reminds me of a legal battle between the BBC and the Metropolitan Police.
Police Call Boxes were a common sight around the UK until the 1960s. They allowed policemen to contact their stations before personal radios were invented. The BBC used one as the iconic time machine of “Doctor Who” in 1963, as the real police boxes were being phased out.
33 years later, the BBC applied for a trademark on the police box design. The Metropolitan Police cried foul, as it was their design — but the judge ruled that the police box, since it was no longer in use by the police, was more readily identified in the public mind as Doctor Who’s ship, and that three decades of use on the BBC made it their trademark.
Maybe the police should have sued the BBC every decade?

Follow the money

The story in today’s Washington Post detailing how Tom DeLay’s cronies and hangers-on soaked up the cash flowing from Jack Abramoff — through, of course, one of those noxious right-wing “family values” groups — is hardly surprising. But it is interesting how well-detailed the Post’s map of the money is, and makes me wonder how truly stupid all these conservatives are these days. I mean, there is almost no laundering going on, it just flew from pocket to pocket. At least when Democrats do it, the money path seems more… diverse.


As if you needed more evidence

Maura sent out a bag of SweeTart Jelly Beans with my Mom last week. Naturally, I have begun to segregate them by flavor, so that I can eat them in the correct order (least favorite to most favorite).


I don’t know why, but I compulsively do this with candy all the time. I am either some kind of confectionery racist, or I have a particularly bizarre form of obsessive compulsive disorder.


It probably wasn’t quite ready to be picked yet, but I couldn’t stand it any longer — here’s the first orange I’ve tasted from my tree.


It’s not like I’m going to never buy oranges from a grocery store again, but still, it’s very cool to have grown my own!