Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Joss Whedon Admits Firefly Is His Favorite Creation

Well, maybe he didn't say those exact words. But, in a recent LA Times interview, Whedon shared his affinity for his "space cowboy" group.

"But one trademark characteristic Whedon embraces in his work is his ability to unite groups of raggedy misfits against imminent evil. Led by anti-hero Capt. Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), 'Firefly’s' crew of lost space-wanderers exposed the misdoings of an interplanetary government that stepped out of line. A teenage girl and her 'Scooby gang' of freaks and geeks saved Sunnydale and Earth from demons and demented gods in 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer.' And now, in 'The Avengers,' disparate superheroes worked through their egos and hangups, pulling together as a team to defend the planet against alien invaders. So which misfit crew is Whedon's favorite?

'You know, I love all my raggedy children,' he said. 'But if I could be anywhere, I’d be on board Serenity'."



While it's a nice shout-out that Firefly fans are sure to enjoy, the choice to hang out with those characters in that universe seems to be an easy one upon further compare/contrast.

Let's look at the three groups of baddies and the geographic confines in each universe:
  • Buffy: Fighting against witches, demons, vampires and monsters who want to kill all humans and enslave mankind. Two or three of your group are equipped to fight them and/or protect you, but the rest are kind of helpless. You have to remain in your city to fight because that's where the "hellmouth" is.
  • Avengers: Fighting against bloodthirsty aliens and their (demi)god leader who wants to enslave mankind. The majority of your group can fight against them and/or protect you. You have to remain in a specific part of the city to fight because that's where the intergalactic portal is.
  • Firefly: Not really fighting anyone, mostly avoiding a government presence that rarely strays from the center of the galaxy and Reavers who stick to a known portion of the galaxy as well. Will get stalked by the occasional bounty hunter and government agent. The majority of your group can fight against other humans & Reavers fairly well and/or protect you. You are free to travel wherever you would like.

Now, the female factor:
  • Buffy: (1) Buffy - Cute, sassy girl with superhuman strength and her ex is a vampire. Intimacy might be an issue if she lost control of her strength for a moment. Also, if her ex gets jealous, you'd better not leave your home at night. (2) Dawn - A cute, yet underage girl with a lot of angst and an annoying voice. (3) Willow - A lesbian who is also a powerful witch who, at one point, delves really deep into dark magic and goes psycho. (4) Cordelia - Super-hot but very spoiled and standoffish. The mind games would be unbearable. (5) Anya - A former demon who still isn't very familiar with human customs, loves money, and lacks any sort of tact.
  • Avengers: (1) Black Widow - Smoking hot, full-figured woman with amazing stamina, muscle control, and flexibility. But, let's face it, she has better options than you. (2) Agent Hill - Good-looking but seems a bit frigid and invested in her job. Might not be able to get her to relax at all.
  • Firefly: (1) Zoe - Ebony "warrior woman" with curves in all the right places who probably likes being the dominant one in the relationship. Depending on what time period we're talking about, she may or may not be married. (2) Kaylee - An adorable mechanical genius with a well-hidden sex drive until you get her around engines... (3) River - A lithe young woman with a background in dance who can read your mind. Crazy can be good sometimes, but the unpredictability factor probably rules her out. (4) Inara - A gorgeous, clean, cultured, professional escort. No further explanation needed.


If we were to factor in potential camaraderie with male characters, Avengers probably takes the edge, though there is no guarantee of everyone getting along.

It's a safe assumption that every human on Earth loves Firefly. And now we know that Joss Whedon still recalls Firefly/Serenity with a fondness. So, to quote a friend, Joss Whedon "should take the Avengers 2 budget and make Firefly Season 2 instead." Agreed?

Monday, September 12, 2011

10 Reasons I Love My New Job

"Find a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life." - Confucius or Martin Luther King, Jr.


10. I am now a "Community Manager". Perfectly aligns with the strongest part of my social media skill set.
9. Even though my commute technically got longer, it still takes less than 10 minutes to get to work in the morning.
8. I get my own office! With a placard outside that has my name on it!

7. I'm making 14% more per year than I was 3 days ago.
6. I am now a UC employee (read: employee of the state) with all the benefits thereof.
5. I am working for/with a Pulitzer Prize winner!
4. I accrue vacation days at a rate of 10 hours/month (15 days/year) and sick days at a rate of 8 hours/month (12 days/year).
3. I'll get Dec. 23-Jan. 2 off & all federal holidays are paid time off as well.
2. I get to collaborate with some of the smartest people on the planet.

Aaaaand, the #1 reason why I love my new job is:
1. I feel like I'm going to make a difference in the world.

Check out the cool stuff this Research Hub gets involved with:
YouMedia - changing the way teens use libraries


DML Competition: awarding $2 million annually to app developers who inspire the most novel uses of new media in support of learning.

Quest To Learn: School for Digital Kids (slideshow overview)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Dick Van Dyke at D23 Expo 2011



Dick Van Dyke and the Vantastix perform a cappella on Day 1 of the D23 Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center, August 19, 2011.

Seating was VERY limited for this special Dick Van Dyke appearance, with the line starting about 3 hours in advance of the start time. I recorded only a fraction of the numbers they sang since I wanted to soak in the experience as well as film it.

Dick Van Dyke is amazingly spry for his age and as charming as ever. My favorite song of the session was him reprising his role Mr. Dawes Senior in "Fidelity Fiduciary Bank." Dick Van Dyke joked that he didn't need any makeup now for the character. :-P

At the end of the performance (before an encore song), my friend Cheska helped present Dick Van Dyke with a commemorative Mary Poppins giclée print!

To see more videos of this Dick Van Dyke & the Vantastix performance at D23, I recommend checking out youtube.com/mrdaps.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Chick-fil-A Is Awesome

Last night, I got to hang out with the owner of the local Chick-Fil-A as a "promotion" of sorts. Chick-Fil-A and this location in particular is very intent on being viewed as a family restaurant rather than a fast food joint, despite the presence of a drive-thru window. Even without the free dinner and milkshake, it's my opinion that they're succeeding.

I'll be writing a more in-depth article for my Examiner.com page, but I just thought I'd share a couple tidbits here:
  • Chick-Fil-A is the largest consumer of peanut oil in the country. So much so, that they recently switched to cooking their waffle fries in canola oil so that peanut oil supplies wouldn't be exhausted by the year 2020! (I didn't even notice a change in taste)
  • Chick-Fil-A pressure cooks their chicken in peanut oil, they don't "flash fry" it. That's one of the reasons why it is so friggin' juicy and tasty.
  • Donning the cow costume is a shared responsibility, though it's usually the same person; even the owner has been the cow a few times.

One of the keys to the Chick-Fil-A experience is that the employees also buy into the concept of promoting a family-style restaurant and providing personalized service with visibly positive attitudes. I am told that it's a much more rigorous hiring process for Chick-Fil-A store employees compared to other food chains, and the quality definitely shows.

More to come in a few days...in the meantime, do yourself a favor and go to the Chick-Fil-A on Bristol & MacArthur in Santa Ana!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Facebook Page Cheat: Find Out What Your Fans Like

See my original answer on Quora.com
So, you're a Facebook Page Admin and you've dabbled with Insights but you want to know more about your Page's Fans. What music do they listen to? Where do they eat? Where do they shop? What TV shows do they watch? If you're lucky, you could get some answers via a Poll or go fishing for Post Comments. Or you can use this trick and be done in 5-10 minutes.

I discovered this Facebook Fan Page "cheat" about a month ago. To get started, you'll need to follow a few steps first:
  • Log into the Facebook account that controls your Page.
  • Click on 'Account' in the top right and select the "Use Facebook as Page" option.
  • In the pop-up window, find your Page and click on the blue "Switch" button. You're now logged into Facebook as your Page.
  • Go back to the Facebook homepage.
  • You should now see a section show up in the right column called "Recommended Pages." These are Pages that your Fans like!

In my experience, approximately 10% of your Fans have to like a single Page in order for it to show up in this section. Just keep refreshing your browser to see different Recommended Pages. You may want to record your findings in Excel so you can sort/filter the data and delete any duplicates. You can even rank these Pages according to how popular they are with your Fans.

This is an easy and very quick way to see the passions/interests your Fans have in common. Now you can serve up hyper-targeted Facebook Ads to your target audiences, better position offline/traditional advertising, or supplement your consumer insights data.

If you have social media questions for yourself or your small/medium business, ask me!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Transgendered Persons and Professional Sports


Famed Action Transvestite Eddie Izzard

Wow. Talk about a gray area. Typically, professional sports (particularly in international competitions) are separated into two major categories: men's and women's. So what if you don't fit squarely into either category? Chaos, apparently.

In 2009, South African 800-meter runner Caster Semenya showed some tremendous improvements in a very short time span. The times she was running were, frankly, amazing for a woman of her age with relatively little pro competition experience. At the World Championships, she beat out some of the world's finest 800m specialists by over two and half seconds, which prompted officials to finally request a gender test. Unlike many of her fellow competitors, Caster was tall, had broad shoulders, higher-than-average muscle mass, and heavily manly features.

Initial gender tests appeared to confirm some suspicions. I believe the official results are still being kept private, but some media channels have reported that Semenya is actually a hermaphrodite. This would explain the unusually high levels of testosterone that were found in her body (approximately three times the norm for females).

But what is the IAAF (governing body of Track & Field) supposed to do now?! Allow her to keep competing as a female, even though she has an unfair chemical advantage? Bar her from competing and invite international scorn? Even her own country is a bit unsure about how to proceed...

Case number two: what if a man purposely got a sex change and tried to then compete as a woman? Enter "Lana Lawless." Initially, Lana's story sounds like the plot of another bad Eddie Murphy.Rob Schneider movie. (Or "Ladybugs" if you remember that God-awful film. RIP, Jonathan Brandis. I'll always remember you fondly as the second, better Bastian.)

When Lana was refused participation in the LPGA Challenge, she accepted the decision as fair and that this was an inevitable result of her personal decision to change her gender sued them. Not to mention that she's also suing Dick’s Sporting Goods, Re/Max and CVS.

Now, you could certainly make a case that the LPGA's "female at birth" policy is discriminatory. But I just can't feel as bad for Lana Lawless when she made a personal choice to change her gender and then expected to compete with the physical attributes she'd enjoyed as a man. That's unfair and it seems pretty ridiculous (yet, sadly, somewhat expected in this day and age) that she'd just go suing people right and left for upholding rules they've had in place for decades.

As LBGT issues become more prevalent and we, as a society, become more sensitive to these persons and the issues they face, should pro sports be redefining their rules? Or, out of necessity, will we continue to stick to our definitions? For example, think of how record-keeping would have to change if there were suddenly more categories. Now, apply this same issue to high school and college athletics: if kids are born with a chemical makeup that isn't clearly male or female, where do they fit?

I certainly don't have the answers and this is certainly a new area of thinking for me, so I won't offer anything else besides this open-ended post. I do, however, look forward to seeing how governing bodies handle these gray-area issues in the future.