Sunday, November 29, 2020

Remembering David Prowse (1935-2020)...

Earlier today, the world found out that David Prowse—the man behind the mask as Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy—passed away in England yesterday after battling a short illness. He was 85. Although we didn't hear his voice on the iconic Sith Lord (James Earl Jones voiced Vader, respectively), Prowse's imposing stature contributed to Emperor Palpatine's dark apprentice being one of the most fearsome and memorable movie villains of all time. Rest in peace, Prowse...and the Force will be with you. Always.

David Prowse posing on a STAR WARS set as Darth Vader.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Pau's Brother Has Joined the Lakers...

Marc Gasol will play for the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2020-'21 NBA season.

Lakers Sign Marc Gasol (Press Release)

The Los Angeles Lakers have signed center Marc Gasol, it was announced by Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Rob Pelinka. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not released.

Gasol played in 44 games (43 starts) for Toronto last season, averaging 7.5 points (.427 FG%, .385 3FG%), 6.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 26.4 minutes per game. In 839 games (824 starts) for the Grizzlies and Raptors, he has averaged 14.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.4 blocks in 33.0 minutes. Gasol has played and started in 94 career playoff games, notching 13.9 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.4 blocks in 35.2 minutes, while aiding the Raptors in their 2019 title campaign.

A three-time NBA All-Star, Gasol has earned two All-NBA selections and in 2013 became the first European-born player to be named NBA Defensive Player of the Year. He is one of six players in league history to record more than 6,000 career rebounds, 1,100 blocks and 350 three pointers. As a member of the Spanish National Team, Gasol has helped the country earn nine medals, including gold medals at the FIBA World Cup in 2006 and in 2019, and Olympic silver medals in 2008 and 2012.



Saturday, November 21, 2020

The Lakers Take the First Major Step Towards Defending Their NBA Title Next Season...

Dennis Schröder will play for the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2020-'21 NBA season.

Lakers Acquire Dennis Schröder (Press Release - November 18)

The Los Angeles Lakers have acquired guard Dennis Schröder from the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Danny Green and the draft rights to Jaden McDaniels, it was announced by Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Rob Pelinka.

Schröder averaged 18.9 points, 4.0 assists and 3.6 rebounds in 65 games (two starts) for Oklahoma City last season. Additionally, he led the league in points scored off the bench and finished second in NBA Sixth Man Award voting, while shooting career highs in field goal percentage (.469) and three-point percentage (.385). Schröder owns career averages of 14.1 points, 4.6 assists and 2.8 rebounds in seven seasons with Atlanta and Oklahoma City.

Drafted 17th overall by the Hawks in the 2013 NBA Draft, Schröder has appeared in 46 postseason games (six starts) throughout his career, averaging 13.1 points, 4.0 assists and 2.3 rebounds in 23.4 minutes per game.


Friday, November 20, 2020


Farewell, SUPERNATURAL. This cool image will apparently be on the box cover of the Season 15 DVD set.

Last night, the CW Network aired the 2-hour series finale for of the longest-running genre TV series that began back in 2005. The first hour was devoted to a special where the cast and crew shared their memories on working on this hit show for well over a decade. It was in the second hour where "Carry on," the final episode of Supernatural, showed the fates of Sam and Dean Winchester after spending much of their lives hunting ghosts, demons, vampires, Wendigos, Bloody Mary and the like. All I can say is, it was hugely emotional. To dedicate 15 years of my life to watching the exploits of these two brothers as they—with the help of Bobby Singer (their surrogate father), Castiel (the angel who raised Dean from perdition in Season 4), Crowley (the crossroads demon-turned-King of Hell), Jack (Lucifer's part-human son, a.k.a. a Nephilim) and company—take on the Yellow-Eyed Demon, Lucifer, The Darkness (a.k.a. Amara) and even God (a.k.a. Chuck) Himself was an epic thing. And now it's over.

I've been getting the Supernatural season DVDs as a Christmas gift from one of my brothers since 2008... It's gonna be interesting when he has to find something else to buy for Christmas 2022! Heh. It's all good. In terms of other TV shows that I watch on a weekly basis, there are none. Except for reruns of my other favorite series, The Big Bang Theory, on Channel 13 here in Los Angeles. I hope you guys have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Video of the Day: THE CARD - My Short Film!

The poster for my short film THE CARD...which was officially released online (for streaming via Vimeo and YouTube) on November 19, 2020.

Happy Thursday, everyone! Just thought I'd post my newest project that I worked on after completing Envious last month, which is my other short film The Card! I shot this project back in 2002 (during my spring semester at Cal State Long Beach)—using a Super 8mm camera provided by my school's film department. Unlike Envious, I didn't have a sound mixer and boom operator to work with me on set...meaning that I had to create the audio track (and record dialogue) entirely in postproduction. That was pretty interesting!

I used Final Cut Pro to edit The Card 18 years ago, but utilized Lightworks on the Apple MacBook that my brother got me for my birthday last month to update it. Unlike Envious, I didn't have a version of The Card without its music track—so it was tricky retaining sound effects and the dialogue while also removing the songs that were featured in the original film (these songs being hip-hop jams by Dr. Dre, Warren G., Ashanti, K-Ci & JoJo and Usher). I would have kept the songs if YouTube didn't slap a copyright claim on videos that use trademarked music...but it's all good.

Anyways, here's The Card as presented on YouTube. (You can also view it on Vimeo.) Why did I choose today as the film's release date, you ask? Because tonight is the 2-hour series finale for the hit TV show Supernatural, which I've been watching since it premiered on the CW Network back in 2005! Carry on. (FYI, that's the episode title for tonight's finale.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

The Lakers Will Begin Defending Their NBA Title Before Christmas!

The Los Angeles Lakers take a group photo after winning the 2020 NBA championship at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida...on October 11, 2020.

NBA and NBPA Agree on 2020-21 Season Start and Adjustments to CBA (Press Release - November 10)

2020-21 Season to Begin on Tuesday, December 22

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association announced today that they have reached agreement in principle on the start of the 2020-21 season, as well as adjustments to certain provisions of the current collective bargaining agreement impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The NBA Board of Governors today unanimously approved the agreement.

The parties have agreed in principle to the following:

- The 2020-21 season will begin on Tuesday, December 22;

- The 2020-21 season will feature each team playing a 72-game schedule. The full regular-season and broadcast schedules will be released at a future date;

- A new system will be used to ensure the parties’ agreed-upon split of basketball-related income (BRI). In the event player compensation were to exceed the players’ designated share in any season, necessary salary reductions beyond the standard 10 percent escrow would be spread across that season and potentially the following two seasons, subject to a maximum salary reduction in any season of 20 percent;

- For the 2020-21 season, the Salary Cap will be $109.140 million and the Tax Level will be $132.627 million.

- In subsequent seasons of the CBA, the Salary Cap and Tax Level will increase by a minimum of three percent and a maximum of 10 percent over the prior season. Teams’ tax payments will be reduced in proportion to any BRI decreases; and

- Free agent negotiations will begin on November 20 at 3 p.m. (PT), with signings starting at 9:01 a.m. (PT) on November 22.



Lakers players (and team general manager Rob Pelinka, on the right) gather around the Larry O'Brien Trophy after they won the 2020 NBA championship at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida...on October 11, 2020.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Mars 2020 Update: Lookin' Ahead to the 2026 Mars Sample Return Mission...

An artist's concept of the Mars Ascent Vehicle carrying rock and soil samples launching away from NASA's Sample Retrieval Lander.
NASA / JPL - Caltech

Independent Review Indicates NASA Prepared for Mars Sample Return Campaign (Press Release)

NASA released an independent review report Tuesday indicating the agency is now ready to undertake its Mars Sample Return (MSR) campaign to bring pristine samples from Mars to Earth for scientific study. The agency established the MSR Independent Review Board (IRB) to evaluate its early concepts for a groundbreaking, international partnership with ESA (European Space Agency) to return the first samples from another planet.

Following an examination of the agency’s ambitious Mars Sample Return plan, the board’s report concludes that NASA is prepared for the campaign, building on decades of scientific advancements and technical progress in Mars exploration.

The MSR campaign will require three advanced space vehicles. The first, NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover, is more than halfway to Mars following launch in July. Aboard Perseverance is a sophisticated sampling system with a coring drill and sample tubes that are the cleanest hardware ever sent to space. Once on Mars, Perseverance aims to cache rock and regolith samples in its collection tubes. It then would leave some of them on the Martian surface for an ESA-provided "fetch" rover to collect and deliver to a NASA-provided Mars Ascent Vehicle, which then would launch the samples into orbit around Mars. An ESA-provided Earth Return Orbiter would then rendezvous with the samples in orbit around Mars and take them in a highly secure containment capsule for return to Earth in the 2030s.

“Mars Sample Return is something NASA needs to do as a leading member of the global community,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “We know there are challenges ahead, but that’s why we look closely at these architectures. And that’s why in the end, we achieve the big accomplishments.”

Sample return is a top priority of the National Academies’ Planetary Science Decadal Survey for 2013-2022, and NASA has worked to mature the critical capabilities and overall MSR concept for the past three years. The board acknowledged the longstanding cooperation between NASA and ESA in robotic and human space exploration as an asset for the robust campaign and commended both agencies' early and in-depth analysis of MSR implementation approaches to inform future planning and development.

“NASA is committed to mission success and taking on great challenges for the benefit of humanity, and one way we do that is by ensuring we are set up to succeed as early as possible,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “I thank the members of this board for their many hours of work resulting in a very thorough review. We look forward to continued planning and mission formulation in close partnership with ESA. Ultimately, I believe this sample return will be well worth the effort and help us answer key astrobiology questions about the Red Planet – bringing us one step closer to our eventual goal of sending humans to Mars.”

NASA initiated the IRB in mid-August to ensure the long-awaited mission is positioned for success. It is the earliest independent review of any NASA Science Mission Directorate large strategic mission. Historically, such reviews have not occurred until much later in the program development.

David Thompson, retired president and CEO of Orbital ATK, chaired the IRB, which comprised 10 experienced leaders from scientific and engineering fields. The board, which met during 25 sessions from August to October of this year, interviewed experts across NASA and ESA, as well as in industry and academia, and made 44 recommendations to address potential areas of concern regarding the program’s scope and management, technical approach, schedule, and funding profile.

“The MSR campaign is a highly ambitious, technically demanding, and multi-faceted planetary exploration program with extraordinary scientific potential for world-changing discoveries,” said Thompson. “After a thorough review of the agency’s planning over the past several years, the IRB unanimously believes that NASA is now ready to carry out the MSR program, the next step for robotic exploration of Mars.”

The IRB found that NASA has developed a feasible concept and a broad set of architectural options to inform the planning of the MSR campaign over the next several years and recommends the MSR program to proceed. It also highlighted the excellent progress the agency has achieved over the past several years and further emphasized the potential for this program to enable civilization-scale scientific discoveries underscoring that the technology is available now.

“The independent review has given strong support to MSR, which is great news for the campaign,” says ESA’s Director of Human and Robotic Exploration, David Parker. “It reinforces our shared vision to provide the world’s scientists with pristine pieces of the Red Planet to study using laboratory tools and techniques that we could never take to Mars.”

The IRB provided its findings and recommendations to NASA for consideration to better position the program for success. NASA has agreed to address and study all of the board’s recommendations in the next year as it moves through early formulation efforts, well in advance of the agency’s confirmation decision.


An artist's concept of the European Space Agency's Earth Return Orbiter above the surface of Mars.
European Space Agency

Sunday, November 08, 2020

RIP, ALEX TREBEK (1940-2020)...

JEOPARDY! host Alex Trebek now joins Kobe, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Chadwick Boseman up in heaven.

Earlier today, the world found out that Alex Trebek—who was the host of the popular TV game show Jeopardy! for 36 years—sadly passed away at the age of 80 in his Los Angeles home, after battling pancreatic cancer for more than 18 months. An absolute loss... I remember watching Jeopardy! on a regular basis when I was young. The next host of this show will have big shoes to fill.

Tell Kobe, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Chadwick Boseman that we said 'hi' when you get to heaven, Alex. May you rest in peace.

Saturday, November 07, 2020

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris Have Won the U.S. Presidential Election!

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will soon become the 46th president and 49th vice president of the United States, respectively.

Trump's reign of corruption and ineptitude will soon be at an end. Earlier today, CNN, the Associated Press and other major news outlets called the presidential election in Joe Biden's favor...with Barack Obama's former vice president having won 290 electoral votes (thanks to battleground states Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin—with Arizona and Nevada's help) and Trump currently being at 214. While the race hasn't been called in Alaska, Georgia and North Carolina yet (as shown below), Biden is nevertheless 20 points above the threshold needed to be reached in order to secure the presidency. Woohoo!

The electoral map for the 2020 U.S. presidential election as of November 7, 2020.
The Associated Press

What makes this election particularly special [apart from the fact the American people have spoken, and Trump's unorthodox (and un-American) way of governing the United States will not continue past next January] is me having the huge opportunity to meet Vice President-elect Kamala Harris last year! Click on this Blog entry for more details about that. It's so awesome that Harris has officially broken the glass ceiling in regards to not only becoming the first woman to be elected into the second-highest position in the Executive Branch, but she will also be the first female of African-American and Asian-American descent to do so too! It's a great day for the United States! January 20, 2021 can't arrive soon enough.

About to get an autograph by Kamala Harris (currently U.S. Senator) at the Barnes & Noble bookstore at The Grove in Los Angeles...on January 13, 2019.

Kamala Harris and the 48 vice presidents who came before her.