Azotusland: The Novel

With a new opening series of chapters, Azotusland is in full-on edit phase. That means I am shopping for an agent. You can go here  starting a week from now.

“The Natural” Comes to the Bay

Oscar winner Robert Redford does narration for Saving the Bay: The Story of San Francisco Bay, on Wednesday March 25, 2009

Oscar winner Robert Redford does narration for Saving the Bay: The Story of San Francisco Bay, on Wednesday March 25, 2009

It’s rare, okay…never, that I wake up and my first real agenda item of the day is a meeting/session with Robert Redford.

But that was my day yesterday, meeting at Command Productions in Sausalito, along with the Saving the Bay crew (Executive Producer Ron Blatman, Writer and Producer Miles Saunders, Editor Blair Gershkow, Composer Mitchell Covington and myself – Christopher “Mac” MacDonald) and sound engineer extraordinaire Robbie Dickson…oh yeah…and Redford.

An unassuming and pleasant man, The Natural doesn’t show up with an entourage. He drives up in a modest Lexus doning a pull on cap, t-shirt and jeans with leather jacket. I note his tennis shoes are as old and well worn as mine (considerable). His brief case is made of old leather and is probably 25 years old.

He exchanges quick pleasantries, but wants to get into the batting cage and work.

Before he arrived, Blair, Miles and myself were engaged in the usual banter about Spring training and the prospects for the Giants this year. Not great news, but we all agreed that baseball is far more than just winning and losing. There is something healing about the game, which is the real reason that people are so dismembered about Roid use. They keep trying to make it about who lied, covered up blah blah blah. The reality is that baseball has an inherent Zen-like purity that the large majority of fans are afraid we are losing: first to money and greed; second to drug use; worse…to the Dodgers this year if Ramirez stays healthy.

At the end of the narration sessions yesterday, watching Redford fall  behind on a few takes 1 and 2 or 0 and 2, then watching him dial it in like The Natural he is and drill the third version up the alley, or under the first baseman’s metaphorical glove, and occassionally just plant one in the seats…clean and neat (like knocking back a shot of Woodford Reserve) then humbly trotting around the bases I saw I was watching a very serious man with an acute eye and directness.
redford11
He was there to hit the pitches thrown him from the sound booth (see pictures) and also promote a great four-part documentary on how the San Francisco Bay estuary, once polluted and in serious danger of being filled in, was saved by the courageous activism of a few elderly women in the 60s. Saving the Bay: The Story of San Francisco Bay, is a stunning piece that I feel privileged to be a part of as I have loved and Northern California, the Bay, and Giants baseball since I was a kid and Willie Mays was in center field with the parking lot visible through a chain link fence.

Before baseball season starts again this year, rent or buy The Natural. It’s a quiet film that will endure just as baseball will endure. All true baseball fans know this and enjoy a day at the Yard whether we are on a tear or taking it on the chin. It’s a communal event where you have time to get to know those sitting around you. A “third space” if you are open.

Who is our Roy Hobbs gonna be this year? I dunno. Sure could use one in the number 4 slot so we can move Molina to 5th where he belongs.

God I love baseball. I also love the Bay and encourage all to visit the savingthebay.org site and learn more about our own history and how you can get involved. Please feel free to write me with any comments or questions of interest.

~Mac

P.S. and yes, I did get him to autograph my DVD copy of The Natural…get real!

Star Wars TNG?

By Christopher C. MacDonald


The “Christianized version”: “Oh Lord, do deliver this mine enemy a proper mauling that he shall be cut in two!…in Thy mercy…”

I hate sequels. I assume they are fun for the reunited cast and lucrative for the producers, but they are generally awful for the audience. Just mentioning City Slickers 2 or Highlander 2: The Quickening, evokes that sickening feeling of being duped by a dreadful second production.

The problem with sequels is that there is usually no more story to tell. The original film had a beginning, a middle and a definitive end. But as quick as you can say “box office grosses” writers are being hired to resurrect dead characters and figure out ways of doing the same successful story over again…yet…um…differently.
Where will it end? Can we be saved from Gump 2: Forrest Through the Trees and Notre Dame 2: Return of the Hump?

We can. It seems George Lucas has figured out how to give people more of what originally delighted them. We now have Star Wars: The Special Edition.  Opening on January 31, this re-mastered version of the 20 year-old hit has added scenes, improved visual effects and better sound. Scenes with Jabba the Hut, Bobba Fett and a more “scummy and tyrannical” Mos Eisley space port promise to greatly enhance the ground-breaking original. What fun!

We need a new cinematic saying: “What goes around comes around in the director’s digital re-master with additional scenes,” (DDRAS).  The rule should be: If the story isn’t truly over, do the sequel; but if it’s over, do a DDRAS.

Lucas has finished his 9 film run…but, like Star Trek, can we not forsee the money to be made from Star Wars: The Next Generation?

But before that happens we have all the re-making and re-editings and re-issuings and the 3D-ings and 4D-ings etc. first. The Star Wars trilogy invites a host of possible “alternate versions” for re-release. Here are just a few I’ve come up with.

The Renegade Droid version

Flashback scenes show that C3PO was originally a hairstylist (R2-D2 was 3PO’s professional styling caddie). In the Renegade Droid Version, C3PO is publicly ridiculed for his participation in the Princess’  Horns ‘O Plenty hairstyle debacle. When no one proves able to disassemble her braided pastry-like structures, the droids are arrested and scheduled for exile to the spice mines of Kesstle. The droids escape during the confusion of Vader’s attack on their ship and plan to open a beautician’s school in Mos Eisley. When 3PO and R2 discover rampant droid racism amidst the scum and tyranny of the space port, they hire mysterious stranger Han Solo to bust up the locals and restore order and commerce.

At the end of the film we see R2-D2, bitter and despairing over his lot in life, drinking himself to dis-assembly with gallons of WD-40 in his own private version of Leaving Mos Eisley.

The Mythopoetic version
George Lucas’ own studies with Joseph Campbell aided in this classical re-casting of the male myth of Iron Obi-Wan. Young Luke discovers the “hairy man” (Chewbacca) at the bottom of a Sarlac pit and enlists his help. Chewie leads him to his “male mother,” Iron Obi-Wan, who reveals that Luke’s father, Darth Vader, and controlling twin sister, Leia, are responsible for  abandoned him on the planet Tattoinne (which means “never-ending ball of dust”).

After Luke, Han and Chewie have captured Leia from her father’s Death Star and she says, “Will someone get this big walking carpet out of my way?”  Chewie demonstrates the “Rite of the Hairy Man” by ripping off one of Leia’s horns ‘O plenty. Luke follows suit, thus enacting the breaking-away ritual from his controlling twin sister.

True spiritual masculinity is re-established when Iron Obi-Wan defeats Lord Vader in battle and Luke self-publishes his first chapbook of poetry, Stories my Father Never Told Me.

The Original Face versions
Star Wars remains the same, but The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi are completely re-mastered with actor Mark Hamill’s original “before-the-crash” face morphed onto his character’s body. These versions will not only replace the “pug-faced Luke” that Hamill’s plastic surgeon created after his car crash, but may answer the question, “How come Harrison Ford gets $5 million a picture while Mark Hamill is doing voice-overs for Batman?”

The Realist Version
Normal movie conventions are set aside in the Realist Version. For example, could aged Obi-wan really fight Darth Vader long enough to cause a diversion? The Realist Version goes like this:

Vader: I’ve been waiting for you Obi-wan
Obi-wan: You can’t win Darth, If you strike me down I shall…
PAPHHHHHISSSSSSTTTTT! With a flash of Vader’s lightsaber Obi-wan is disintegrated.  (tap tap)

There is no diversion, and as Vader steps down on Obi-wan’s empty cloak the rest of the rebel party are quickly arrested.

Han gets shipped off to Jabba in an overnight bag, the Droids packed off to the spice mines of Kesstle, Luke joins the Dark side and leads a rout of the rebellion forces (in exchange for 18 years of back allowance his father has neglected to pay), and Chewbacca becomes a throw-rug under the Emperor’s mantle.

The only problem with the Realist Version is the outcome. With no one left to fight and conquer, the Evil Empire has nothing left to do.

Vader: What is thy bidding my Master?
Emperor: I want you to wax the Shuttle.
Vader: It shall be done as you command, my Master.
Two days later.
Vader: I have finished waxing the Shuttle. What is thy bidding, my Master?
Emperor: I want you to clean all the windows of the Death Star!
Vader: You are indeed evil, my Master.

In the final scenes we find Darth in his boxer shorts, popping Hoth-filtered Tuscan Pale Ale, and channel-surfing through the 37,000 channels on the Death Star’s satellite array while muttering about the good old days of the Clone Wars.

While some of these DDRAS versions may be questionable, every one of them is better than a typical sequel. And if you still doubt me, rent Highlander 2: The Quickening, and watch it alongside the new 10th  Anniversary DDRAS of the original Highlander.

I don’t know. You tell me. Hehe…

Content Management Systems: Bottling

Soft-Drink-Carbonated-Water-Filling-Bottling-Line You may have been frustrated the last few days with Twitter, with Facebook, with Youtube..then with trying to actually get work done and published online (which is my business) because suddenly they won’t respond on your browser, or decline your graphics or simply ignore you.

Let me assure you it is a middle manager who took a shortcut on bandwidth or co-location. Worse, others avoided paying for a  real CMS that is robust and user servicing (not just friendly) or they had the cute idea that it might actually have worked if they had realizing beforehand that bringing a bicycle to race a Mustang 20101GT is not gonna work in anyone’s wildest dreams.

I sound bitter don’t I?  Which is atypical.  I think my issue is the pretense and utter waste of our time. I took a job as a “Little Rock Examiner” in an area I am adept at and have published often professionally: spirituality. It was not about the money (which is nill). It ws about writing well and giving people a good read.

You cannot do that via Examiner.com.

How do I know? I was nominated for a Webby for  my retooling of a good CMS for mavericksssurf.com from Epic Cycle; and succeeded in major work-arounds in a bad CMS at Bolt.com in New York. Like one of the mechanics on Top Gear (BBCA) I can make almost anything work/run.

Until now

Take a look at my articles (Examiner.com/littlerock). I spend twice as long trying to get half of them to format in something like remedial English. It was originally ghastly hard work that was always somehow OFF.

So I learned and adapted. I wrote my series tonight on U2 in wordpad (no formating..simple) and got tready to add easy art.

Suddenly it will not format in anything but Microsoft IE explorer. Welcome aboard the Titanic folks..here are your decks chairs and the shuffleboard equipment.

Flock? No. Firefox? No. Netscape? No.

Well Examiner.com here is my reply to your utter incompetence: NO.

Come back when you have funding and wanna play at least semi-pro ball. Until then? Shut down and watch others play real baseball.

DogHouse Diaries Debut via Podcast

DOGHOUSElogord
http://spoke.podbean.com/2009/07/28/the-haunt-of-jackals-final-audio-pt-1/

Saving the Bay

Saving the Bay is an ambitious and expansive four-part PBS series on the saving of the San Francisco Bay estuary. Narrated by acclaimed actor/director Robert Redford, the series recounts how the Bay was transformed from an growing ecological disaster by the most ambitious rural restoration project in American history.

Azotus Consulting is now working with Saving the Bay to promote the four-part documentary on the Internet and run the content on the website.

SFGate…The Crazy Crab

See today’s Daily Mac on SFGate.com

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