Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category


Action Wednesday

January 18, 2017

The time has come, if you live in the USA, to contact your senators and ask them to decline the nominations of both Ryan Zinke for Secretary of the Interior and of Scott Pruitt for EPA Administrator.

If you have never contacted your senators before, it is easy.  Go to either to find your senator’s phone number, or simply call the  US Capitol switchboard at 202.224.3121 to be connected.  Once you’ve got a hold of their office, tell the staff person you are a constituent, you want your senator to oppose the nominations of Ryan Zinke and Scott Pruitt, and that if they do, you have your senator’s back.  If the staff member tells you that the senator does oppose Pruitt, pass along your thanks, and encourage them to hold the line!

It’s that simple.  Remember to call both of your state senators and ask the same from both of them.  Phone calls are the most effective means of communicating with your Senators, they are what garner the most attention.  And, with the clock ticking, it is the fastest means as well.

If you’d like to go more in depth, Hank Green has a great video introducing how to write  a letter, which can easily be translated into a phone call.

Why to oppose these two?

Ryan Zinke will preside over the Endangered Species Act, the access to public lands for exploitative resource extraction, offshore oil and gas drilling, and the relationships with first nations tribal governments and people.  Zinke’s record shows he does not lean towards stewardship, human or environmental health, or social growth.

Scott Pruitt is most known for suing the EPA to gut their provisions.  The EPA is literally a health and safety organization – it’s charge is to protect the very basic fundamental operating systems of our planet so that we can lead full, joyous, and fruitful lives.  This includes clean air, water, and soil.  It prevents companies from dumping toxins everywhere, be it in products or waste.  Pruitt has fought legal battles to undermine the EPA’s role in protecting human health and the legacy of the country, meaning the person being nominated to lead the EPA has actively worked to destroy the EPA.

Neither of these picks is what the USA needs, nor do they honor what the country for what it was and where we can go.

Please, take a moment to call and let your voice be heard.  The Senate is split 52-48, and a few extra “no”s can make all the difference.  It was calls to our representatives that put the brakes on the House’s plan to eliminate the ethics board that oversees them.  Calls work.

Please call.  Be the bulwark.


In great news, Earthjustice will be one of the recipients of donations from this year’s Project for Awesome!  Woooo!

Thank you all who viewed my video and voted, and equally large thank you to all those who donated to Earthjustice and to the NRDC.  Thank you for taking action and standing up for life.


Action Wednesday

December 28, 2016

I’ve put my money where my mouth is and doubled my monthly contributions to both Earthjustice and the NRDC.  With the incoming administration in Washington DC, they are going to need it.

I invite you to do the same.  A one-time donation, a monthly donation, of little or lots, whatever you can, take a stand.  Take a stand for health and safety and life and liberty and for the fundamental operating system of our planet.  Take a stand for that which the gods gifted to us.

You can donate to Earthjustice here.

You can donate to the NRDC here.

And, if you live in the USA,  I double invite you to call your State Senators to ask them to reject the confirmation of Scott Pruitt to head the EPA.

Let’s stand together.


A request

September 18, 2016

It is not about driving hither and fro

It is about idling the car


Or looking at your phone

For minutes

Or tens of minutes

Two hundred horses

Jumping up and down


Doing nothing

Farting continuously


Turn off your car while you sit

I promise

The car will still start when it is time to go


Movie Thursday

July 28, 2016

The Nerdwriter just posted a video that’s a great continuation/compliment of my post last Thursday about the lack of good storytelling in many films today.  He uses moments vs scenes as his breakdown, and I think its a good one:

“Pictures hung on a clothesline” is how I describe the feeling of disjointed and gratuitous (usually action) sequences that are strung together in the most threadbare of manners.  Nerdwriter’s focus on moments really puts it down to a point, and is similar to what the HULK spoke about where the director’s sole aim and focus is on affectation.

It’s not that the visuals, or that the moments, aren’t necessarily good as they are meaningless.

Without the scenes, without the narrative, without good storytelling, there’s nothing to engage with, to be a part of, and to embody.

And that is what I find most unfortunate.

And that is why I strike this rallying cry for recapturing the skill of storytelling.

The term “motion picture” doesn’t have to just mean that the image onscreen is changing. With good storytelling, the motion is what happens inside of us, both inside, and outside, of the theatre.


Movie Thursday

July 21, 2016

Storytelling.  Or, rather, the lack thereof.

I’ve been bemoaning the lack of good storytelling in most new movies for a number of years.  I’ve even taken to calling it a lost or threatened art.  There’s a lot I pile under the general umbrella of storytelling, including characterization, narrative flow, meaningful development and impact, engagement, depth and levels and layers… but it can also be boiled down to “the way a story grips you and engages you.”  Good storytelling can take the most simplest of plots and have you so hooked you’re enthralled the whole way through.  On the other end, however, it kills me when I watch a movie that has a very interesting premise, interesting ideas, and even interesting sequences and moments, a plot rich with potential… and it falls flat by a lack of good storytelling and leaves me feeling hollow in the end.

And sometimes there’s that really weird feeling where I leave the theatre having been entertained, but every step away from the theatre and the enjoyment fades.  The movie ends up being poor (or worse, abysmal), and I’m not left with a sense of anything.  Of intensity, of character, of growth, of engagement.  Or even of a good narrative.   And definitively no desire to see it again.  And yet… in the moment… it was kinda… fine?  Like sugar water;  sweet, but no substance.

It seemed like a dichotomy… could a poorly told story really be so ok in the moment?

Well, HULK to the rescue to help clarify those odd feelings.  And to write absolutely brilliantly in deconstructing what seems to be the trend in Hollywood these days, of how many of the big name directors and the big studios have, either inadvertently or advertently, misdirected themselves and have actually lost the thread that makes great stories, well, GREAT.

It’s a long read, and it’s all in CAPS since it’s written by the HULK, and it’s actually his review of The Force Awakens (a movie that also made me somewhat insane).  And it’s written with dexterity and carefulness and consideration and a wonderful depth that you might not expect from the HULK.  It’s completely worth the read:

There’s so much good stuff in there .  Very much aligns with my own thoughts, and great for teasing them out in a way and in ways I hadn’t yet noticed or been able to pinpoint.

I don’t think it is an accidental choice of words when we say a good story is “spinning a yarn”.  Because, like yarn, there are many threads that are beautifully woven together.  Really well told stories are full of characters versus just a bunch of caricatures, and characters who act, consistently, in line with who they are.  They can be rich, they interact authentically, and they grow.  A really well told story has a solid narrative (not plot, but the actual narrative) that has connective tissue that engages and flows, rather than a series of moments or action moments hung up on a clothesline.   A really well told story says something.

And it’s not a matter of whether it’s an “action” movie or a “comedy” movie versus a “serious” movie.  That’s just an excuse to justify a badly made story/movie.  Because you can absolutely, 100%, have great action movies that are also strong in the storytelling department.  You can have tense action in a sci-fi movie, as this poster on Ars Techica put it:

“The [recent Star Trek reboot] movies haven’t been sci-fi. They’ve been action movies in space. That’s not what Trek is about. Wrath of Khan managed to get some exciting space battles in while still getting at the morality of not one or two but THREE dilemmas brought about by science: Khan’s genetically modified superhuman abilities, the potential for abuse of the Genesis Project, and not keeping an eye on the madman you left behind in an uninhabited star system. Separate from that, it dealt with the concepts of sacrifice and friendship and where they cross.”

This is just one more thing that has me loving Zootopia all that much more.  At its basic level, it has an interesting plot (bunny cop trying to prove herself has to team up with a con fox while a conspiracy brews underneath).  But it’s the storytelling that truly elevate the movie sky high.  A narrative about hidden bias.  Two rich, flawed, complex characters who interact authentically, consistent with their characters, along an arc, and who, very importantly, by the end, grow as individuals and together.  The scenes progress seamlessly, are interwoven well, and rarely devolve into being used solely for action/excitement/scare/laughs.  It’s a tight package.

And best of all, it’s in that category that most often gets so easily excused for poor storytelling:  “Oh, it’s just a kids movie.”

There is no reason a movie that appeals to kids cannot also be an amazing story told amazingly.  Miyazaki, Pixar and, when they do movies like Zootopia, Disney has shown us it can be done.   And very well.

I know to some I may seem harsh or snobbish when it comes to movies, but I am not willing to excuse a lack of good storytelling when it’s demonstratively possible.  I don’t say it’s easy – not by a long shot!  I’ve written fiction and it takes time and practice to develop the skill.  And even the best studios and directors and writers stumble.  But it is developable.  Also, not every story has to be or will be the most amazing story ever.  A solid fair is still really darn good.

This is really a long winded post to just invite you to read that article by the HULK.  It hones in on what makes so many movies disappointing and hollow, and I hope we can aim the movie producers back towards a sensitivity and understanding of good storytelling, so that they re-aim their efforts towards that rich and fertile land.

Storytelling is one of the most ingrained and human of our qualities.  We need to honour it.



October 10, 2015

“I don’t vote because my vote doesn’t matter.”

It seems like that sometimes, doesn’t it?

But you know what? There are some powerful influences that are trying very hard to create that feeling.

They like it when you don’t vote. They know how to play the game as it is, the game where few people vote. They can control that. They get to win every time.

And so they do all they can to keep the feeling that the everyday person’s vote doesn’t really make any difference.

But here’s the thing.

They wouldn’t know how to deal with a lot of voters.

Sure, one of these current parties will still win. And they may not be all we want them to be.*

But when the voices have grown loud, they will listen.

And through that voice, we can have them turn to be who we want them to be.

I’ve seen it in California, where well heeled and well backed and very moneyed campaigns and referenda have fallen to the power of the pencil.

If you want to scare the living crap out of those in power, there’s one thing to do. Go to the polls in droves, and vote.

If you are a young voter, maybe a first time voter, I (and Rick Mercer!) invite you especially to vote.

It may seem intimidating, but the process of voting is very easy, secure, and empowering.

You will want to be informed, and there is a bit of a ramp-up to get familiar with the parties and the candidates, and to learn about what policies they have implemented, and they are proposing. And some time to think about what effects those policies have.

But it isn’t as long or daunting as those who enjoy their control make it out to be.

Even this late in the campaign, it’s still very doable.

That you’ll examine what they’re doing, and then speak up about it, is what keeps the powers that be up at night.

So let’s claim our voice.


* – Sure, sometimes it can feel like voting for the lesser of three evils, yet, remember that if you don’t vote, and evil wins, then that means you essentially voted for evil.


Drought 4: The Droughtening

March 6, 2015

With the recent snowpack measurements reporting that the Sierra snowpack is now at 19% of multi-decade averages – some areas are down as low as 5% of average – it’s pretty clear we here in California are headed for our fourth year of severe drought. Which, while nasty sounding on its own, doesn’t actually tell the whole picture of how 11 of the past 15 years have been abnormally dry. If you look at a drought map of California, it’s almost funny with the map pretty much covered in its entirety in colours representing “holy crap dry” to “oh gods the abyss has invaded.”

I can’t help think about Australia here, and how they ended their decade of droughts: they legislated an end to them. With a stroke of a pen, they ceased having a drought. No water fell from the sky, of course; a drought is just a drought based on some past average. They realized, this isn’t an anomaly – this is the new normal.

Welcome to the new normal.

I think we’ve been hiding and hoping and praying that this will shift, this will change, as though all the signs are somehow wrong and we’re just fine, thankyouverymuch. But we have made our bed, and now we need to lie in it. Or, rather, stand up and face it. We can take steps to aid in removing that which is propelling this climate shift forward, and, moreso, we need to re-visit our water use policies in this state. I’m talking about more than just not watering lawns, I’m talking about the byzantinian gaggle of water “rights” that bleed rivers dry to flood irrigate fields (where it happily evaporates mostly away) amongst other things, the irresponsible drilling that is depleting aquifers faster than a soda at a diner, and the fouling of water through poor industrial use and other runoff.

I invite everyone to this new challenge. We’re all needed to get behind this, push for altering the “normal/conventional” way of doing things (from our stores to our manufacturers to our habits to beyond) and make a dent now. Look, choose, and talk.

There’s possibility in them thar hills, if we take the actions to seize it.