A Newer Hope

You know when it’s too soon to talk about Star Wars. You never know when it’s too late. Considering that they’re still plastering lightsabers on bags of apples, I think the window is still open.

The Force Awakens reminded us what was good about the original trilogy and not suck. Disney spent $4 billion on this property and they weren’t taking any chances. Consequently, it was a very safe movie, sticking to the original formula like the Millennium Falcon stuck to star destroyer (That happened right? It’s been a while since I watched Empire) but diverging in all the right places.

The new cast is great, diverse, and…kinda young. Clearly the heroes should be young, this is child’s entertainment, but even the First Order is under command of General Ginger Baby. That bothered me at first. I assumed they were casting actors who they could count on being alive for a few decades of sequels. But now I see General Ginger Baby is taking up the mantel of a movement that was dead before he was born. When the Empire screwed up you had to chalk it up to adventure movie convenience. But the First Order’s mistakes are those of bunch of kids playing Empire.

I also appreciated what I call a Legacy Reboot, starting over without wiping the slate clean. It worked on Star Trek: The Next Generation and I hope the new Ghostbusters movie takes the same tack. Though it’s weird that the surviving characters are doing the same thing they were doing 40 years before.

The best part: The way they split Luke into his three aspects to create the cast. Rey is the Jedi adept, Finn is the hayseed with a heart of gold, and Poe is the ace pilot. Luke’s character was always a bit overloaded. Breaking his facets up gives them room to breathe.

That said, my two main problems with the Star Wars franchise remain:
It’s the McDonalds of science fiction. The ads are everywhere, it’s never been science fiction, doesn’t challenge its audience, and its nutritionally void. Star Wars fans spend their time rationalizing the Kessel Run because there’s no deeper content to be delved into. And the excess of marketing and fandom means I can’t go a day without getting hit in the face with an Ewok. That’s business I suppose, but as someone who’s easily jaded, it leaves me exhausted.

It’s spirituality hollow. The Force with its Light Side and Dark Side, the whole dharma of TGFFA, is arbitrary, and honestly, I’m not convinced the Jedi are good for anyone. Most of the series body count is on their hands, especially the Skywalkers. At this point in the story, the entire Galaxy should rally against the Skywalker clan. They’re the real problem.

I’m going to have to come to grips with Yoda’s testicles being sold as grapes, that’s just America. But maybe, given that Jedi are liars, can we rewrite the Force has a more sophisticated dharma than, “Emotions are bad”, and the running through the swamp with a Muppet on your back workout?

The Franklin Richards fan theory helped me accept the Marvel Universe’s sliding timeline. Maybe I’ll come up with a new Force theory and run a Star Wars campaign where Light Side and Dark Side are illusions and the Force is pure mindless destruction, of lives, material, and the truth. Yeah I think I’m onto something here…

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2015-11-21 21.17.13

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If you have a website, especially one with a login interface, I suggest running a security check on it. My old host had a big fat F. It was a collection of compromised protocols.

It was time to move on to a new host. So far, SiteGround‘s been good to me. They’re security rates an A and I got a working SSL certificate out of it.

The working cert means I can run the Jetpack plugin. It takes WordPress to the next level. Now I’m more closely integrated with social media, some backend features, a bit more secure, a bit faster, and it includes subscription by email.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to bring over my old mailing list from the old plugin. So if you subscribed before, you’ll have to subscribe again. The form’s in the sidebar.

The experience, plus building my theme from scratch, has made me appreciate WordPress as an environment. I’d like to take up WP development as my day job.

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Bad at Tumblr

When I set up http://tonemilazzo.tumblr.com/ I didn’t realize it was a subblog to my main tumblr, fuckyeahhummingbirds. Subblogs are limited and I kept logging into the wrong blog. So, I deleted tonemilazzo and renamed fuckyeahhummingbirds. I don’t know how that might have affected those of you who followed the original tonemilazzo so here’s the link again.
Computers are hard… let’s go shopping!

On the plus side, this version looks a lot better.

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New Look for tonemilazzo.com

Since I’m staying with the same basic layout and color scheme, most of the newness is under the hood. Can you believe I’ve been using that same grainy, gray background image since 2003? What can I say? It matches my business card.

The new theme is written in HTML5 and CSS3 with Bootstrap. I like Bootstrap for the same reason I used to pump CSS through jQuery. It handles the different browsers nicely without thinking about it too much. Now that we have to think about mobile devices it takes a lot of the weight off that development. Go ahead and call up the page on your phone. The layout changes. The sidebar becomes a footer and the posts and header expand to take up the full screen.

I also did what I could for Search Engine Optimization. I’ve had the SEO for “tone milazzo” locked down for 15 years, but a little more traffic can’t hurt. Google’s made mobile friendliness a ranking priority. I also added schema to make the site more machine readable. Because machines buy lots of books, mostly digital. That’s what I heard.

Next, I have to get the SSL certification straightened out. So I can use WordPress’ Jetpack plugin. For those of you who subscribe to this blog by email, that’s going to be a change. Hopefully, a small one.

What does all this computer stuff have to do with writing? Now that The Faith Machine is moving into its third draft, I’m hoping to barter web development for editorial or even publicity. I’ve seen editors’ web pages, there’s a market for this exchange.

Now that the blog’s all pretty-like I should use it more. 9 posts in the last year? That’s pathetic.

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The Stack, 2015

Another year and another instance of San Diego’s primary contribution to culture, Comic Con.
A respectable 11 inches of books for under $500. That’s counting money spent on food and drink, and not including the statue of Krypto because that’s cheating. I’ve read all of this except the two novels and two of the graphic novels. Expect a future post on the best of the Stack.

I’ll also have a future post on pitching; the act of selling a publisher or other investor on a story. I learned a lot about pitching that weekend, that was my main takeaway beyond the books. Excellent timing too, since I’ll be doing just that at the SoCal Writers’ Conference in September.

comicCon2015

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Schedule Sausage

It took a lot of raw meat and a lot of grinding but the San Diego Comic Fest schedule is finished. As much as a schedule can be finished. No plan of attack survives the battle.

As Programming Coordinator for San Diego Comic Fest I saw an opportunity to bring the process into the 21st century. A lot of conventions are still relying on email and MS Word:

  1. Collect availability and panel ideas via email
  2. Create a list of programs
  3. Send this list in a Word doc to all the panelists with a pair of square brackets, [], by each item
  4. Spend days processing these docs by hand, figuring who’s interested in what programming and juggling the availability of over a hundred people

The bulk of the time is spent manipulating clusters of guests and their schedules, trying to avoid conflicts, and keeping it all in your head. But me, I like to crowdsource and I use computers to make my life easier. Here’s my process:

  1. Collect availability and panel ideas via Google Forms
  2. Schedule the panels
  3. Release the schedule on a second Google Form to the guests. They manage their own availability. This is the step that saves the most time
  4. Upload to Sched.org which handles future communications and all presentation.

That’s saves a whole lot of data entry. But there’s a lot of transitioning between mediums. From Google forms, to post-it notes, to Excel, to Sched, and email, email, email. Sched is good for presentation, but not for inception, and it could be a whole lot better at conflict recognition. I think there’s room here for a better tool. One tool to take the convention from conception through presentation with support for print.

I know what I’ll be working on this year.

But this year I’ll be Moderating How We Write on Friday at 2pm and Pop Culture Professionals: Writers Sunday at 3pm. The main upside to scheduling a con; putting yourself on whatever panel you want.

Hopefully I’ll see you there!

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Boom! Luck.

This week I won a course in Contract Management in a raffle. My biographers will pinpoint this as the moment the thug life chose me.

prize!

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Nano Nano Nevermore

Man, I thought it’d be cool to live in a loft and swing down on a rope.

At 7 or 8 I was all about Mork & Mindy. My first non-fiction book was a cheesy, 80 page, paperback biography of Robin Williams. There wasn’t much to it. What was there to say at that point in his career? “Robin grew up, went to school, performed stand up, and landed on a hit TV show.” But I still carry the memory of that book. Robin’s been there my whole life.

From Mork to the movies and TV stand up specials. I never had to follow Robin’s career, he was always there. A ubiquity that I should have worn its welcome. The rapid fire pop culture references in Aladdin should have played out after a single viewing, but I still pop in that DVD at least twice a year.

Like most stand ups he was public with his troubles. The manic performer had a depressive private side. Recently, there’s been money problems, then there was the Parkinson’s disease which comes with it’s own bag of depression. Darkness on all sides.

It’s right there when Mork & Mindy met Robin Williams..

Robin: "I guess I want people to like me, I hate myself for that." 
Mindy: "If you learned to say no you'd have a lot more time to yourself."
Robin: "Maybe that's the last thing I want."

Entertaining people was how he felt loved and valued. With the onset of Parkinson’s he must have felt those days were coming to an end. If he couldn’t entertain us anymore he’d lose us and have only himself. He’d always been giving; USO tours, Comic Relief and stories of him stepping into people’s lives, just to make them happy, make them like him.

It’s tragic that he drowned in a pool of depression so deep he couldn’t see we’d never abandon him.

Goodbye, Robin.

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