I eat, write and dance, but not necessarily in that order.
As a communications professional, I write. A lot. In many formats. Ideally for money. My specialty is taking complex concepts and translating them into plain language. I was doing social media long before it was called social media. In fact, I do a lot more than write.
I eat, so I find it helps to enjoy cooking. I’m not a gourmet chef, but give me a good slow cooker or casserole recipe, and I will knock your socks off.
I do a mean fox trot.
Here I blog a little about everything and anything, including recipes, Lego construction and the odd rant about something or other.
You can e-mail me, if you like.
Because there’s not enough places for people to be published without getting paid, we now have Medium, “a better place to read and write things that matter.”
Medium has been on my radar for a while thanks to the occasional mention in my Twitter feed, but it was only recently that I visited the site to read an article written by an industry peer.
I really enjoyed what she wrote because it was personal and original, but otherwise I wonder how Medium is different or better than any other online platform. After perusing some recent Editor’s Picks, I can’t say the content is any more compelling than what I’ve read on other digital-first / digital-only media outlets or on traditional, main stream media sites. Much of it reminds me of the link bait I come across on Twitter.
Contributing content to Medium is limited right now, even if you do register. What the criteria is for being allowed to publish on the site is a mystery to me; it’s certainly not quality of writing because with rare exception, of the 10 articles I read, most were either self-indulgent, pointless ramblings or poorly written grammatically and structurally. Overall they lacked depth.
I also encountered the same voices from elsewhere. I’m not sure why Facebook’s product design director needs another platform to post a profanity-laced and ultimately empty rant about design. I don’t want to read another blog by Jeff Jarvis. He gets enough attention already. And I definitely don’t need yet another blog post by a self-described entrepreneur giving advice about growing a startup.
It’s not that I didn’t enjoy any articles because I did find one or two, but even those were on topics or concepts I’d read about plenty of times before and these just provided someone’s personal perspective, not new knowledge. One could argue that’s valuable in and of itself, but to me it represents a larger frustration I have with online content: for every one real article that delves into something in a meaningful manner there’s at least a dozen articles or blog posts that have summarized it or “curated” it. I suppose that’s better than an opinionated blog masquerading as a news article by a writer who thinks linking out to other articles is an adequate substitute for picking up the phone and interviewing a source.
What also struck me about Medium is that I’m not sure who the target audience is. “A better place to read and write things that matter” is nebulous and ultimately meaningless. When I was in journalism school we are always reminded by professors to remember who the audience was when pitching and writing stories for the student newspaper. That rule has stayed with me to this day. Who is supposed to be reading Medium? Entrepreneurs? Artists? Application developers? I have no idea and I’m unclear if I should be taking the time to browse through it.
Online content is a lot like cable TV, which I recently cancelled: there’s hundreds of channels but nothing on, and Medium strikes me as just one more place that adds to the noise I have to “channel surf” through to find the occasional gem. Unless it really defines what it is, and soon, Medium could easily find itself the flavour of the month in a sea of online soapboxes.
Gary Hilson is a Toronto-based
freelance writer, editor and content strategist storyteller.
My latest news round up for Network Computing: CloudBridge now optimizes WANs; WatchGuard appliances expand Hyper-V support; Aryaka portal monitors more than WANs; Enterasys builds out SDN ecosystem. [Read more...]
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“I am Locutus of Borg. Resistance is futile. Your life, as it has been, is over. From this time forward you will service us.”
“Mr. Worf: Fire.”
The first part of “The Best of Both Worlds” had Star Trek fans and casual viewers wondering all summer if Captain Jean-Luc Picard would survive his assimilation by the relentless Borg, while TV critics were comparing the cliffhanger to the infamous season ender of Dallas in 1980: the mystery of “Who shot J.R.” was the most watched program in television history for its day.
TNG’s “Best of Both Worlds” remains one of the most effective season finales of any Star Trek series – arguably of any series – because it looks like there is no way out: Picard is lost; Riker will soldier on as captain of the Enterprise with ambitious newcomer Commander Shelby as his first officer.
I spent that summer wondering if Picard would return in season four. It was hard to contemplate Star Trek: The Next Generation without Patrick Stewart, especially since the series had found its creative footing in season three. The return of Gates McFadden as Dr. Crusher coupled with some great storytelling begged the question: If it ain’t broke, why fix it?
Even without the ubiquitous Internet and social media, there was chatter that Patrick Stewart was leaving the show, apparently unhappy with the series’ scripts – these rumors could be traced back to an uneven second season that was cut short by a writer’s strike. I vaguely recall reading a brief news item in Starlog magazine that fueled the fire; it also reported Wil Wheaton was leaving the series, something that did come to pass.
The late Michael Piller, who scripted the episode, made use of his own inner turmoil to drive the story as he debated whether to continue on as head of the show’s writing team; the episode became a Riker-centric story that reflected Piller’s own dilemma. (He would ultimately stay on through the end of the series, co-create Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager and write the screenplay for Star Trek: Insurrection).
Riker’s struggle with the prospect of promotion rings true given that he’s already turned down command twice, and it adds to the overall sense that things will inevitably change aboard the Enterprise, especially since Shelby is convinced she’s going to land the first officer’s gig.
But what really made “The Best of Both Worlds” cliffhanger so compelling was that Piller had in fact painted himself into a corner. He didn’t think he’d have to worry about solving a seemingly unsolvable problem: how to save Picard and defeat the Borg. When “To Be Continued” appears on the screen backed up by Ron Jones’ chilling music, it’s hard to imagine how the rest of the story will unfold.
Nearly 23 years later, it’s still an amazing hour of television. A feeling of foreboding hangs over the scene where Picard and Guinan discuss the tradition of a captain touring his ship on the eve of a hopeless battle and how Nelson never returned from Trafalgar, even though the battle was won.
And it even holds up well on the big screen. Last week the combined two-part “Best of Both Worlds” was shown in theatres across North America, and while the second half struggles to live up to the first (most second parts in the Star Trek universe do), as a feature film it compares well to the actual Star Trek movies. The special effects are still convincing, especially considering they were produced on a television budget with older technology, and the story slowly builds tension throughout the first half with a seamless transition into a faster paced second half.
The big screen debut of “The Best of Both Worlds” serves as a reminder that Star Trek works better on television when the characters are allowed to develop and the story lines are allowed to evolve over time. Viewed on television it is Star Trek at its finest and holds its own against big screen lens flare.
Gary Hilson is a Toronto-based freelance writer, editor and content strategist storyteller. “The Best of Both Worlds” Parts I & II is available today on BluRay as a feature-length film as is the entire third season of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Serial killers have always been popular fodder for books and movies, but they are especially popular on television right now: Kevin Bacon is part of the most inept team of FBI agents trying to catch not only a serial killer but his followers on The Following; Dexter scratches his psychotic itch by only killing the bad guys; and every week, the Criminal Minds team pursues serial killers, complete with lifeless, stilted dialogue.
But after eight seasons, even the BAU has yet to encounter TV’s most prolific serial killer: Jessica Fletcher.
Over the course of 12 seasons and more than 250 episodes, the acclaimed mystery author left a trail of corpses in her wake, frequently pulling nieces and nephews into her vortex of murder and mayhem.
Most people would be traumatized by weekly encounters with grisly death, but not Jessica. She took it in stride, whether she encountered it traveling across country to a dear friend’s funeral or in her quiet, quaint hometown in Maine. She was seemingly oblivious to Cabot Cove’s rising policing costs or plunging housing prices courtesy of her handiwork, which also resulted in one of the worst murder rates in America, perhaps the entire world. Nearly 8% of the town’s population was killed over the course a decade, not including visitors.
Poor Sheriff Tupper often thought he was close to finding out who the true killer was until Jessica set him straight as she covered her own tracks, but he must have suspected her involvement in the town’s high body count because he ultimately faked his own retirement and reinvented himself as a priest who solved crime.
It’s doubtful that Jessica was always a blood-thirsty murderer, and it’s even money whether or not she was responsible for the death of her husband Frank. It’s more likely that after the unexpected success of her first mystery novel, Jessica got writer’s block and felt the only way to overcome it was to pull off a clever murder. It was a slippery slope from there.
Jessica probably had help too, in the same way that Red John has minions on The Mentalist. She also had no qualms about setting someone up to take the fall for her cold-hearted killing. During the early days of her rampage, one of her nieces was tricked into a confession. And then there is Jessica’s nephew Grady.
Poor Grady. He helps his aunt Jess get her book published and nearly goes to prison when she commits her first murder. He is fortunate enough to survive her decade-long killing spree and even successfully fights a battle with the Borg centuries later.
But that was just the beginning of Jessica’s reign of terror, and presumably she’s still out there. Even more frightening is that there is a whole generation of people who have no idea who she is. They will be oblivious to the danger they are in simply by staying in the same hotel while she’s on a book tour, or thinking it would be a relaxing afternoon diversion to stop in the unremarkable but charming town of Cabot Cove, Maine.
Only one person can put an end to stop Jessica Fletcher from fueling her muse with murder: Richard Castle.
Why? Because there are two kinds of folks who sit around all day thinking about killing people: mystery writers and serial killers.
Gary Hilson is a Toronto-based freelance writer, editor and content strategist storyteller.
Having embarked on the Paleo Diet a second time, roast chicken is perfect for creating multiple meals. The only problem: I don’t have a roast pan, and even if I did, it would have to be a small one because I have a small oven in my apartment.
I do have a large slow cooker, however, and roast chicken in a slow cooker is easy and the meat melts off the bones. Cooking time varies depending on your slow cooker. An average-size chicken was done in four hours on high by mine.
1 Whole chicken
1 Sliced onion
For the spice rub:
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground pepper
You can also throw in vegetables as you would when roasting a chicken in the oven. I threw in a few servings of carrots but eschewed the potatoes as they are not Paleo-friendly.
Rinse chicken under cold water and pat dry. Mix together all ingredients for spice rub. Rub the spices on the outside and inside of the chicken. Stuff cavity with sliced onion. I cooked mine on high for four hours; the original recipe I came across suggests cooking on low 5-7 hours. Either way, make sure the chicken is cooked through. You can try removing chicken and sitting it on a serving platter, but it’s a challenge taking it out without the chicken falling apart.
“She’s gone. I tried variations of the program; others appeared, but not Minuet.”
“Maybe it was all part of the Bynars’ programming. But you know, Number One, some relationships just can’t work.”
“Yes, probably true. She’ll be difficult to forget.”
Will Riker has one of life’s rare yet perfect experiences in the form of a computer-generated lady who charms him with her beauty, intelligence and love of jazz in the ST:TNG first season episode “11001001”. Ultimately, the moment proves fleeting as Minuet is nothing more than a distraction created by an alien race to occupy Riker until they needed his help aboard an abandoned Enterprise. Once the crisis is averted, the specially-created holodeck program is no longer exactly the same despite Riker’s efforts to bring it back.
Minuet is gone; the moment is gone.
We all have these moments: a confluence of great people, events and shared experiences. They can last only a few hours, a day, months or years. It might be your first love, your first day at university or your first adventure abroad. If you’re fortunate, you have these moments in your career where a supportive boss, talented colleagues and appreciative customers are bundled together to create a rewarding and even exhilarating workplace.
When these experiences end we mourn them; we grieve them as we would a lost loved one. When they end abruptly, it’s jarring. Even when you’re prepared for the closure of one chapter, the mourning period that follows can last for what feels like an eternity.
Not long ago I had moment that I’d thought – and hoped – would last for a long time, if not forever. Ultimately it lasted less than a year and ever since, I’ve sought variations of the program; I’ve hoped and tried to recapture the fun and the camaraderie of those months, and hoped to maintain a connection to one particular person whose impact on my life caught me completely by surprise. I had some amazing adventures with her; she brought out the best in me when many other things in my life weren’t going right.
But one day, just like Minuet, she was gone. She was difficult to forget, but I managed. Rather than being sad when her visage danced into my mind, I recalled the exhilarating experiences I had with her, truly some of the most joyous moments of my life.
“Don’t look back unless you are going that way,” said Henry David Thoreau. And even if you try to go back, the footprints fade and often disappear altogether. You wind up in a similar place, but it’s not quite the same, and you ultimately drive yourself mad making comparisons.
Not long after coming to terms with this unexpected and unwanted ending, I was presented with a variation of the program. My Minuet resurfaced, albeit in a different setting. It was an unexpected but welcome surprise.
But it was short-lived, and I’ve been a little miffed at the Universe ever since. I’ve considered suppressing memories related to the program, but if I’m honest with myself I would not trade those experiences for anything. I am grateful she was in my life if only for short time.
One day soon I hope to no longer yearn for a variation of the program. No promises though; she will be difficult to forget.
Gary Hilson is a Toronto-based freelance writer, editor and content strategist storyteller.
My byline graces the front page of the award-winning Toronto Business Times. Sadly, the publication has just suspended publication. I have a second article in the publication as well.keep looking »