Bucs Blog! 2017 Season, Week 2.

Football’s back!

Well, it was back last week for most people, but my Bucs were forced to wait an extra week thanks to the chaos and fury that was Hurricane Irma. The storm and its numerous safety concerns of course took precedence over some silly football game, so Tampa’s opening number against the Miami Dolphins has been pushed back to Week 11. Meanwhile, the people of Florida continue to regroup after Irma’s passing.

My sister and her family along with my uncle and my father still live in the Tampa area, and thankfully they weathered Irma without much at all in the way of damage or disruption. I know many, many more people didn’t fare as well, and our thoughts are with them as they continue to work at getting things back to normal. Those interested in helping with the recovery effort are encouraged to consider investigating and donating to any of the following Florida-based organizations, each of which has a solid rep:

All Faiths Food Bank
Boca Helping Hands
Dan Marino Foundation
Habitat for Humanity of Jacksonville
Heart of Florida United Way
Neighborhood Health Clinic of Naples, Florida
Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida
Volunteer Florida
Women’s Fund of Miami-Dade

As for the Bucs? Well, it seems that having an extra week to shake off opening day jitters did them some good.

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Bucs 29 – Bears 7

Ouch.

Did Tampa look that good, or was Chicago just that much off their game? The answer, upon further review, is “Yes.”

In truth, the Bears are suffering from a handful of issues, including injuries at key positions and a quarterback – former Bucs ball-handler Mike Glennon – who was definitely not having fun yesterday. Tampa’s defense smelled the blood in the water and reacted accordingly, harassing Glennon and company to the tune of one sack and two interceptions – one of them returned for a touchdown. They also forced three fumbles, nabbing two of them. In short, they made it a long day for the Bears offense.

Speaking of offense, Jameis Winston and his crew were on point, with Winston shaking off two sacks while completing 18 of 30 passes for 200+ yards and a touchdown pass. The Bucs ground game was solid if not spectacular, with Jacquizz Rodgers leading the way on the strength of 19 carries for 67 yards and a TD.

Despite their schedule being off for the next ten weeks compared to their division rivals, the Bucs advance to 1-0 and a full game behind the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons, both of whom are undefeated after two weeks. The New Orleans Saints are Tail End Charlie, sitting at 0-2.

Next up? The Bucs travel to Minn-eh-SOH-tah to take on the Vikings, who are coming off a spanking at the hands of Pittsburgh. That said, they had a good opening week against New Orleans, so who knows what kind of match-up we’ll get? Could be a good one!

It’s a Bucs life, yo. Again!

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Happy 45th Anniversary, M*A*S*H.

We try to play par surgery on this course. Par is a live patient.

Forty-five years ago today, an odd, seemingly out-of-place television series made its rather quiet, almost overlooked premiere on CBS. It would struggle through its first season and even face cancellation, but soon would find its audience. Carrying on for ten subsequent seasons, it eventually would go on to become one of the most influential series in the history of television.

The series was based on Robert Altman’s 1970 film MASH, as well as the novel of the same name,  which was written by Richard Hooker (a pen name for Dr. Richard Hornberger and W.C. Heinz). Developed by the late, great Larry Gelbart, M*A*S*H the series began as something of a hybrid. It didn’t so much adapt or continue events from either the film or the book as it used both works for inspiration. Certain scenes or lines of dialogue from the novel or the movie were the basis for plot points and even entire episodes during the show’s early seasons.

Several of the characters, already re-interpreted to one degree or another for the movie, were given still new spins for their television incarnations. Most notable in that regard is the character around which the series would center, Captain Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce as played by Alan Alda. Though Hawkeye bore a decent resemblance to his film and novel namesakes at the start, Alda’s influence not just in his own portrayal but also the writing (and later directing and producing) of the series would see Hawkeye, the rest of the characters, and indeed the entire series itself evolve in numerous ways as the show progressed.

From the beginning, Gelbart and his crew wanted M*A*S*H to be something more than a simple situation comedy (according to interviews over the years, the cast and crew have said that they never referred to the show as a “sitcom”). In their minds, the setting, a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War, demanded that attention and respect. Even the earliest scripts, played largely for laughs, featured the occasional drift into more dramatic subject matter.

It wasn’t until late in the first season that Gelbart and the writing staff seemed to find the perfect balance between comedy and drama, with the pivotal episode “Sometimes You Hear the Bullet,” in which Hawkeye is reunited with an old friend who later dies on the operating table. By all accounts, this was the episode when the producers realized the true potential of what they could do with the series and its format, provided they had the proper front-office support. Once that support was demonstrated with the show’s renewal for a second season, all bets were off, and M*A*S*H never looked back. The series would continue unabated for ten more years, and its movie-length series finale episode, “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen,” still ranks as one of the most-watched programs in television history nearly thirty-five years after its original broadcast.

After the series concluded in 1983, there was an attempt to continue on with some of the characters and leftover storylines. This took the form of AfterMASH, with Colonel Potter, Corporal Klinger and Father Mulcahy working together at a stateside VA hospital after the war. The show actually did pretty well during its first season (despite there being a noticeable lack of, well, M*A*S*H), and was notable for attempting to bring attention to the ongoing post-war treatment and care of soldiers.

Its second year would be its last after CBS unwisely chose to move it to Tuesday nights, opposite a show you might remember called The A-Team. Whoops. AfterMASH was spanked in the ratings, and was cancelled part way through its second year. I’ve not seen the show since its original airing, and then only part of its first season. It’s not yet been released on any home video format, but I remain hopeful, as I’d like to revisit it with fresh eyes. There also was another spin-off attempt, W*A*L*T*E*R with Gary Burghoff reprising his Radar character, but the pilot was rejected. It aired once on television, but I’ve never seen it.

As for M*A*S*H itself, I came to it rather late in its broadcast run. I think I started watching it around the seventh or eighth season, as I recall. By then, reruns of the earlier seasons were airing on local UHF stations, so I started watching them over and over. I remember wondering why the book and film were so different from the show, but once I figured out that I had it backwards, I came to love them on their own merits, and the novel is something I still reread from time to time when the mood strikes. I own the entire series on DVD, and it’s one of those shows for which I’ll stop channel-surfing if I happen across an episode. I’ve read all of the Richard Hooker sequel novels (their continuity feeds off the original novel, not the film or the series), and I even own a copy of the stage play script.

I know there are people who prefer the first three years–before the first of the various cast changes–to anything which came later. There also are folks who don’t watch the latter three or four seasons, because they feel the show began to lose steam at that point. While I agree to an extent with that second stance, for me, I can and do enjoy the entire run, and there are definitely gems and favorites even in those later seasons. The eighth season episode “Old Soldiers,” in which Colonel Potter comes to terms with knowing that the last of his friends from his youth have died, remains one of my absolute favorite episodes, as much for Harry Morgan’s performance as the subject matter.

Other favorites? Wow. How much time do you have? We could be here a while. Suffice it to say I have a lot of favorites, and I’m thinking I’ll be checking out some of them later today.

Happy Anniversary, M*A*S*H.

Attention, all personnel: Due to conditions beyond our control, we regret to announce that lunch is now being served.

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“5 Questions” with me, @ Ninetoes Loves Books!

I don’t know how I managed to overlook yammering about this earlier in the week, but it seems I did. Chalk it up to trying to knock out a few pending projects and clear the decks for some new stuff getting ladled onto my plate during the coming week.

Anyway, I was contacted a month or so ago by Darren Perdue, who writes and maintains the blog Ninetoes Loves Books, which is devoted to exactly the topic its name implies. One of the blog’s recurring features is “5 Questions,” which Darren poses to various authors. My responses to his five queries were posted on September 11th, and I completely forgot to mention anything about it before now, because…well…because I’m a bonehead, or something.

Anyway, for those interested in seeing my answers to Darren’s “5 Questions” feature, you can mosey on over and check them out here:

Ninetoes Loves Books: 5 Questions With Dayton Ward

Many thanks to Darren for opting to feature me in his space and for giving me a chance to babble for a bit!

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Happy Breakaway Day!

Celebrating the 18th anniversary!

September 13th, 1999: And you thought your day at the office sucked.

This is another one of those holidays I think are tragically overlooked by the various greeting card companies. Come on, Hallmark! You’re leaving money on the table!

Here’s hoping you can get out and enjoy the day.

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Today is “National Read A Book Day!”

I think every day should be this, but apparently someone somewhere felt the need to call out today, September 6th, as the officially recognized, annually recurring “National Read A Book Day.”

(For those wondering, today is also “National Coffee Ice Cream Day,” but the people who like that shit are savages, so enough about them.)

Anyway, the book thing is a good idea. In the spirit of the day, and my fervent desire to spend it reading pretty much anything other the manuscript on which I’m currently working, I offer up a list of books which have stuck with me over the years for one reason or another. It’s a list that includes favorites dating back to childhood, along with more recent titles that I’ve enjoyed or just hit the perfect spot or note when I needed a break from the crazy routine that is my daily life. This isn’t meant to be an inclusive list, so don’t worry that I “forgot” one of your personal favorites. Anyway, check it out:

18893076_10155414358483270_747114380365486877_nCyborg – Martin Caidin
A Man On the Moon – Andrew Chaikin
The Hunt for Red October – Tom Clancy
Ready Player One
– Ernest Cline
Sunglasses After Dark – Nancy A. Collins
Vertical Run – Joseph R. Garber
The Firm – John Grisham
The Forever War – Joe Haldeman
Starship Troopers – Robert A. Heinlein
A Night to Remember – Walter Lord
I Am Legend – Richard Matheson
The Things They Carried – Tim O’Brien
Old Man’s War – John Scalzi
Homicide: A Year On the Killing Streets – David Simon
One Day In the Life of Ivan Denisovich – Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Martians Abroad – Carrie Vaughn
The Martian – Andy Weir
The War of the Worlds – H.G. Wells
The Making of Star Trek – Stephen E. Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry
The Right Stuff – Tom Wolfe

Feel free to offer up suggestions or favorites in the comments. Go!

Posted in books, lists, ramblings | 6 Comments

Talking “Run, Steve, Run” with The OSI Files!

OSI-Files-LogoIt’s been a while since I last chatted about various things bionic with John S. Drew, but hey! The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman never seem to be far from either of our thoughts, and John had been talking about corralling me for an episode of his bionic-themed podcast The OSI Files for a while, now. At long last, he makes good on his threat, and has me sit down for a chat with him about The Six Million Dollar Man‘s first season finale, “Run, Steve, Run.”

This episode is the midpoint of a loose trilogy of episodes that begins with “Day of the Robot,” the first season’s fourth episode, and ends with the second season’s “Return of the Robot Maker.” I call it “loose” because the only robots we see in this episode appear in flashback sequences from “Day of the Robot.” However, the robot’s creator, Dr. Jeffrey Dolenz (later changed to “Chester Dolenz”) is on hand, with the story focusing on his obsession with learning the secret of how Steve Austin was able to defeat his robot in the first episode (hint: Steve’s bionic). Once Dolenz realizes what makes Steve tick, he’s like a kid in a candy store….or maybe a Radio Shack, as he contemplates the possibilities of exploiting Steve’s bionics to improve the army of robots he wants to build.

While the other episodes–admittedly dated and even ridiculous by modern TV standards–retain huge nostalgic appeal for me as favorites from my childhood, I’m less enamored with this installment. Part of that is that I always thought the Dolenz character was criminally underserved, in all of these stories. Unlike other bad guys who decide they need to teach Oscar Goldman and the OSI a lesson for overlooking their genius when it comes to tech goodness like robots, Dolenz never really gets a chance to shine with this role. That’s a shame, as veteran character actor Henry Jones creates in Dolenz one of those “recurring nemesis” characters like Star Trek‘s Harry Mudd you want to see every so often.

That said, “Run, Steve, Run” is certainly not the series’ worst offering, and full credit to John for helping me soften my stance, as I went into this chat with this episode most definitely not on my “ones I’ll watch on a rainy day” list.

Check out the conversation, which is followed by an interview with “Run, Steve, Run” guest star Melissa Greene, here:

The OSI Files Episode 004: “Run, Steve, Run”

Many thanks to John, with whom I always enjoy talking all things bionic, for having me on. We’ve already discussed possibilities for follow-up chats, so who knows?

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August writing wrap-up.

all-the-wordsBOOM.

And just like that, 2017 is two-thirds in the bag. Yep, you read that right. We’re already on the downhill slide, the home stretch, the last lap, the final turn, the whatever other thing we’re almost done with.

August was a kinda sorta weird month. At long last, I finally got to drop a hint or two about at least one of things I’ve been working on. I realize that such revelations often raise more questions than they answer, but what can I tell you? I’m a freelancer — hired hand, a mercenary, a fire and forget weapon, if you will. I go where they point me, do what they tell me, and leave the decision making to the grown-ups.

Otherwise? I just tried to keep my head down and work, and hopefully bring in enough money to pay some bills. On that subject, if you’re looking to hire a snappy writer, I’m certainly open to entertaining such discussions. Freelancers gotta freelance, you know.

Meanwhile? Let’s see what I was up to last month:

Continue reading

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Happy Judgment Day!

Roses are Red
Violets Are Blue
Humanity’s toast
Suck on my big fat CPU.

Love, Skynet.                                             

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the fall of humanity and the rise of the machines.

terminator-101Judgment Day: August 29th, 1997. Sunblock optional.

Here’s hoping you can get out and enjoy it!

Posted in blog, fandom, nerdity, tributes | 1 Comment

Star Trek Adventures core rulebook: It’s almost here!

This is what I get for missing staff meetings.

sta-rulebookcoverYep! The print edition for the brand-spankin’ new Star Trek Adventures role playing game is up for pre-order, and shipping for the shiny new tome is imminent! The e-Book version has been available for several weeks, but I think the big intro for the hardcover print edition was the GenCon convention this past weekend in Indianapolis. Fans were able to buy copies of the book, and the reactions I’ve heard so far are leaning way over toward the positive sign of things.

Long time Star Trek fans and gamers now that this but the latest in a series of Trek-themed role playing games released over the years. My entry point to this genre was in 1983, with FASA’s still awesome Star Trek: The Role Playing Game. Later, game companies Last Unicorn and Decipher got into the act, each releasing the own versions complete with core rules and a slew of supplements and accessories. Each version has its fans, and I still have certain key books from each game that I use for reference or inspiration with my own writing, but if I had to choose one of the older games, it’d have to be FASA. That said, some of the Last Unicorn supplements in particular are pretty dang cool. 🙂

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trek_heritageNOTE: This is the point where the truly hardcore fans might remind me that there was a Star Trek RPG which preceded all of these. No, I didn’t forget about you. I actually don’t have a copy of this, published by Heritage Models in 1978, so if anyone out there wants to start thinking Christmas ideas for me, here you go.

There’s also Prime Directive, an RPG off shoot of the venerable Star Fleet Battles tabletop combat game, which was published back in the early 1990s. The entire SFB system has thrived for decades, emphasizing the tactical/military aspects of Star Trek gaming, and Prime Directive extends that into the RPG sphere. So, if that’s your thing, I highly suggest wandering over and checking out the entire line of SFB products from Amarillo Design Bureau.

As or this “next generation” of Star Trek RPGs? Modiphius has gone all out, y’all. They have a slate of supplements, dice, figures, and other nifty doodads ready to roll out, but it all starts with the core rulebook, which you can pre-order RIGHT. NOW.

Though I was involved in writing for the new game’s “living playtest campaign” last fall, I also wrote material that ended up in the new rulebook. That said, I have to emphasize that my contributions to the book are pretty minor when compared to the efforts of so many more people who had a hand in bringing this project to fruition. I mean, have a look at the credits page:

STA-credits(Click to Biggie Size.)

I know, right?

So far, all I’ve seen is the e-Book version, and THAT was gorgeous to behold. I can’t wait to see what the print edition looks like.

It’s not too late to get in on the Star Trek Adventures role playing action. Just slide on over to the Modiphius site and check out all the cool things that are there for the checking out.

Go on. Go. I’ll be here when you get back.

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Talking Klingons and travel guides with Literary Treks!

It’s been almost five years since Trek.fm launched their Literary Treks podcast. I know, because I was there, invited by then hosts Christopher Jones and Matthew Rushing to sit in as the show’s very first guest.

Since then, and even through a couple of changes in hosting duties, Literary Treks has continued to shine a spotlight on the world of Star Trek fiction in prose and comics form. Nearly every episode has featured an interview with an author, editor, artist, or other creative contributor. I did a quick count, and it turns out I’ve been on the show ten times since being Guest #1.

Wait! Correction: eleven times.

It turns out that the 200th episode of Literary Treks was also an opportunity for me to sit with current hosts Dan Gunther and Bruce Gibson and talk at length about my recently released tome, Hidden Universe Travel Guides – Star Trek: The Klingon Empire.

HUTG Klingon Lifestyle (Twitter)

In addition to discussing how the book came together, we also talked about all the crazy places from which I drew ideas and inspiration, all of that gorgeous art littering the pages, and so on. It’s a rollicking hour or so, during which we also discuss – briefly and in the vaguest possible terms – my upcoming Star Trek: Discovery novel and some other stuff I’m working on.

Go on, have a listen:

Literary Treks #200: Klingon-It Up A Little Bit

Many thanks to Dan and Bruce for having me on yet again to talk Trek. As always, I enjoy these interviews and how you always keep me and my fellow scribes on our toes.

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