Friday, December 22, 2006

Friday Night Videos

Last week I blogged about how great the Kinks' Father Christmas is. So for this week's Friday Night Videos I've a special treat: TWO videos of the song. First up is a promo video done by the band back in '77. Love that Ray kicking at the camera.

And here's a live performance from their famous London "Kristmas Koncert" back in '77 as well. I hope you folks appreciate this--I cut the bajeezus outta my index finger earlier today, and it's well-nigh impossible to type with about three inches of gauze wrapped around it...

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Billy Joel.

Now Playing: nothing

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

New reviews

Looks like I've had a couple new reviews sneak up on me. The first one you might want to check out (being seasonally relevant and all) is Donal Hinely's Donal Hinely, Midwinter Carols: Fourteen Selections on Glass Harmonica over at Green Man Review. Hinely was formerly one-half of Glasnots, a glass-harmonica themed duo that I grew to love at area ren fests, so the fact that he's continuing to do solo work is pleasing to me.

The other review, up at SF Site, is Lisa Tuttle's The Silver Bough. I've admired Tuttle's writing quite a bit, and the writing itself is quite good. It's the story that stumbles in this book, which was disappointing to me.

Now Playing: various Celtic Harp Christmas vol. 1

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Passion blooms

Texas. Here it is the middle of December, and it's a comfortable, if damp, 69 degrees. For the past week, the weather's been sunny with temps in the upper 70s. Not exactly conducive to Jolly Old St. Nick, but it's done wonders for my passion flowers. As we approach the winter solstice, I have not one, but two of the tropical vines happily setting flower buds.


The Lady Margaret hybrid above is one of my favorites because of the gorgeous maroon flowers. It's been blooming steadily since September. I've got several cuttings that are putting on new growth as well, so I'll have some to plant in my yard come spring.


This little one surprised me. I got a cutting of it, coreacea (the "bat-wing" passion flower) in early October and didn't expect much until maybe the spring. Intolerant of cold, I put in my office window, where it took off. It started flowering yesterday, with quite a few new buds appearing along the vine. The tiny yellow flowers are only 3/4 of an inch across--very cool. I can't wait until my p. Mexicana or p. citrina starts blooming, so I can attempt to cross pollinate them. Yeah, I'm a geek about passion flowers as well as SF and comic books...

Now Playing: various random holiday music

Monday, December 18, 2006

Mr. Canoehead: Karate Clifford

Because you can never get enough of Mr. Canoehead's white-knuckled crime-fighting:

Previous Mr. Canoehead adventures... Saga of the Arctic Toucan.

Now Playing: nothing

Sunday, December 17, 2006

...and all that jazz

Took Lisa to the incredible Majestic Theatre in San Antonio yesterday to see Chicago for her birthday. Yes, I know her birthday was two months back. But Chicago wasn't playing here two months ago, now was it?

The show was top-notch all the way around. A real blast. And folks, if you've only seen the movie, you don't know what you're missing. Granted, the film did some things aces, such as the killer (ha ha) "Cell Block Tango." But the intensity of the live choreography and dance blows the film away. There's no quick cuts and closeups to disguise the fact that Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones aren't professional dancers. Bianca Marroquin, who plays Roxie, was a revelation. She grew up in Brownsville/Matamoros, so she's practically a local girl, but man, did she have me sold on Roxie. "We Both Reached for the Gun" and "Roxie" were incredible bits of character and choreography. Wow. Brenda Braxton, who played Velma, had a great voice and strong stage presence. Billy Flynn... hoo boy. Billy Flynn was played by a name you'll be familiar with--Tom Wopat. Yeppers, ol' Luke Duke hisself was up there onstage beltin' it out with the best of 'em. He was at the souvenir kiosk right up until showtime selling and autographing his CDs (remember, he was going to be a singing star when he departed "Dukes of Hazzard" during that contract dispute). And you know what? He can sing. I've never been a Richard Gere fan, but I thought he was brilliant in the film. Wopat made me forget all about him. Only here's the thing that bothers me in hindsight: Wopat didn't dance. I didn't really notice it at the time, because he was playing the role so well, and interacting with the other dancers, but during big musical numbers, he walked through his part as others danced around him. And he didn't strip down to his skivvies either, which is sort of a signature event with that role, dating back to Jerry Orbach in the original Broadway run. But Wopat was still quite good, caveats aside. And the dancers themselves were phenomenal. Kelly Crandall as "Go-to-Hell Kitty" was a particular treat. The only real disappointment was Melba Moore as Matron "Mama" Morton. I know she's something of a legend. Yes, she can sing with the best of 'em. But she was utterly static every time she got on stage. She hobbled out with her cane, ripped off her song, and hobbled off. With Wopat, at least they disguised the fact he wasn't dancing by surrounding him with undulating, half-naked women. They should've done the same with Morton--I suspect it would've helped considerably. As it was, she simply looked out of her element, which is too bad for someone with her reputation.

The biggest revelation, by far, was that Chicago is funny! I'm serious folk--it's hilarious! The film is full of dark humor, yes, but it's bitter and black, and because of certain creative decisions, many lines are delivered with an intense seriousness in the film, whereas in the play they're rapid-fire punch lines, satire and absurdity. The laughs came fast and furious, and I really didn't expect that. The surreal, vignette approach to the stage version allowed the actors to break the fourth wall somewhat and therefore many of their lines became knowing asides to the audience. It was great. Again, very funny, great dancing and magnificent music. If you get a chance to see this one when it travels to your part of the country, jump on it.

Now Playing: Andean Fusion Spirit of the Incas: Andean Symphony II

Friday, December 15, 2006

Dear Santa...

You can blame Bill Crider for this one. You already know about my obsession with airships--my Amazon Wish List is chok full of zeppelin books, and three of my most recently published and/or written stories feature dirigibles prominently--and I've posted about my close encounter with a Goodyear Blimp from 30 years or so back. So can you blame me for suffering shortness of breath and heart palpitations when I behold something as glorious as Skyacht?


Yes, I know it's a hot air balloon, which officially makes it not a dirigible. But helium's expensive, and there's no practical way to fill and deflate a personal airship without venting all of that costly gas. Hot air buoyancy is much more practical, but steering balloons has always been problematic. Except these guys apparently have the issue licked. Check out that second picture--that's a movable engine mount, capable of giving directional thrust not entirely unlike the semi-rigid Zeppelin NT (one of which I also want).

Since we moved to New Braunfels, ultralights and powered parachutes have proven to be a common sight (and sound) in the skies over our house. I suspect I could make quite an impression with a personal blimp.

Now Playing: The Beach Boys Christmas with the Beach Boys

Friday Night Videos

Apart from my well-documented obsession with the Kinks, Billy Joel's probably the solo artist right at the top of my listening stack. My very first concert (that wasn't attached to a rodeo, that is) was his Easter Sunday show at the Summit in Houston way back in '86 on his The Bridge tour. I was all set to post his video of "Pressure" today, since it's a classic of early-80s abstract imagery and surrealism (in a music video context, at least) but then I ran across She's Right on Time. I'd only seen this one once before, and it's not included on Joel's "The Video Album" volume 1 or 2. I'm not even certain the song was even released as a single. But it is, without a doubt, the silliest thing he's ever done, and the Christmas theme is apropos for the season. Enjoy!

Previously on Friday Night Videos... The Kinks.

Now Playing: Various The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Father Christmas

Father Christmas, give us some money
We got no time for your silly toys
Well beat you up if you don't hand it over
We want your bread so don't make us annoyed

I've been listening to a lot of Christmas music lately, and even picked up the classic Twisted Christmas by the Bob Rivers Comedy Corps for Lisa, who's had a thing for "The Restroom Door Said Gentlemen" for ages. But for my money, the most gloriously subversive Christmas song ever has got to be "Father Christmas" by the Kinks.
But the last time I played Father Christmas
I stood outside a department store
A gang of kids came over and mugged me
And knocked my reindeer to the floor

Ray Davies is, simply put, genius. He opens with a punk-infused anti-establishment riff that pretty much flies in the face of all that's holy in our whitebread, consumerist society. I mean, what's worse than children attacking Santa Claus? What's more unforgivable, more jarring during the holiday season than that? In the hands of a lesser songwriter, perhaps nothing. But Davies, that wicked master of the sleight-of-hand that gave us the gender-bending magnificence of "Lola" isn't content with mere shock value. He is, after all, the same man who gave us The Village Green Preservation Society. He's a nostalgic. He's a traditionalist at heart, even as he refuses to look at the past through rose-colored glasses. So amidst all the abuse and outrage swirling around the assault on Father Christmas, Davies slips in this simple line:
But give my daddy a job cause he needs one
Hes got lots of mouths to feed

Suddenly, the entire song is turned on its ear. These aren't merely roving hooligans attacking Santa out of boredom--they're robbing him because they literally have nothing else. The entirety of their holiday cheer will consist of whatever small change they recover in their theft. This takes on added gravity considered in the light of Great Britain's economic struggles at the time the song was penned--far more severe, I believe, than anything simultaneously suffered in the U.S. Davies doesn't condone the mugging, but he does put it in context, fleshing out those faceless ruffians to redefine them as somewhat less than the pure malice they originally appear as.

Rather than a song skewering Christmas, Davies instead reaffirms the spirit of the holiday--specifically, the compassion and charity that are supposedly the core Christian values, but all too often forgotten or ignored in the tinsel-infused overload of garish celebrations. It's the gloss and glitz of Christmas Davies is attacking in the song, while holding up an uncomfortable mirror to the listener. Are we living up to the true meaning of Christmas? Or are we settling for the cheap convenience of store window Santa decorations?
Have yourself a very merry Christmas
Have yourself a good time
But remember the kids who got nothing
While you're drinking down your wine

Now Playing: The Kinks Misfits

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Before I forget again

Over at No Fear of the Future I have a post about researchers at Texas State creating ball lightning in the lab. Cool stuff, or at least I think it's cool stuff. Check out them crazy videos!

Now Playing: Pink Floyd Staying Home to Watch the Rain

Title block

Okay, so with the revisions to "The Whale Below" finally out of the way, I turned my attention to the other story that needed tweaking, that one I mentioned had sold to William Sanders at Helix SF. I'd already made several passes through it, addressing Sanders' concerns (which was great, since he grasped what I was trying to do immediately, and was able to point out a couple of missteps along the way) so there was only a little bit of tweaking left for me to do. Little instances of word choice, dialog tightening, that sort of thing. My biggest problem, actually, was coming up with a title for the thing. The working title's been "Y.V. 7650.1" for ages, but I'm sure you can see how that one lacks a certain enticing oomph. Trouble is, the story's a complex one, juggling several different themes, and a perfect, all-encompassing title refuses to attach itself to the story. So I sent Sanders the following selection. All of them might work, but none are perfect. Which one is the title of a story you'd want to read?

In His Image
The Man Who Walked Away from Rapture
A Future, Pure and Chaste
Love, Sane and Otherwise

I suppose I should mention that the story in question is a nasty piece of work, a near-future SF cautionary tale with a very black heart. This is very likely the closest I'll ever get to writing "The Screwfly Solution" or "The Women Men Don't See," so obviously Tiptree has weighed heavily on me as I wrote (and rewrote, and rewrote...)

Now Playing: Syd Barrett The Madcap Laughs

Democrat wave hits high water mark

Most of you political junkies have already read about how former U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez upset Republican incumbent Henry Bonilla in a runoff Tuesday, effectively giving the Democrats control of 234 seats in Congress. This is noteworthy on on many levels--Tom Delay and redistricting and Hispanic desertion of the Republican party have all been mentioned in national accounts. But they're all missing the most striking component of this election, the one that's only visible to those folks at Ground Zero in the San Antonio media market.

Ciro Rodriguez can't campaign himself out of a wet paper bag.

Rodriguez is a former four-term congressman, sure, but he won in a heavily Democratic, heavily Hispanic district without Democratic opposition in the primaries. When Henry Cuellar challenged him two cycles ago, Rodriguez stumbled and flailed his way to an embarrassing defeat. And the rematch this year was even worse. Simply pathetic. The Rodriguez campaign was disorganized, disjointed and clueless--the result being that Cuellar is now a two-term congressman.

By all accounts, Rodriguez is a decent fellow and a competent legislator. But he's got little charisma, isn't a natural public speaker and comes across as perpetually confused on the campaign trail. He dithers, and so does his campaign. Case in point: When the U.S. Superme Court ruling re-opened the race for a redrawn District 23, Rodriguez at first declined to run, then got in the race, then dropped out for 24 hours before changing his mind again. Not what I'd call a recipe for success.

Yet Rodriguez won in a landslide. The redrawn District 23 is split evenly between Republicans and Democrats, and about 61 percent Hispanic. Bonilla had far more cash on hand, and spent heavily on attack ads these past few weeks accusing Rodriguez of sponsoring legislation that supports terrorists. Bonilla, of course, blames the loss on the court's unfair redistricting, but Bonilla even lost in the conservative, libertarian west Texas counties of Dimmit, Culberson, Presidio and Brewster which have long been Republican bastions--even when Democrats held a lock on every statewide office. Unbelievable. That a well-known, well-funded and well-organized Hispanic Republican could be so thoroughly beaten at every level by an Inspector Clouseau of a candidate indicates to me that not only has the anti-Republican mood of the country not sated itself and abated, but it's growing and gaining strength.

Two days ago I'd have bet the farm Bonilla wins the runoff by the same margin he lost by. Good thing I'm not a gambler, eh?

Now Playing: Various Tower of Song: The Songs of Leonard Cohen

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Channelling Carroll

Apologies to Jonathan Carroll. I blame Jess Nevins.
At lunch there's a table of former roughnecks behind me--old-school Texas oil men who've moved up the ladder to "consultation work" over the years. One's holding forth about his experiences in Siberia, working those frozen oil fields with multinational crews--Aussies, Kiwis, Canadians, Russians. The only locals on the team are the cooks.

"Try as they might, they just can't get it right when they try to fix our kind of food. They might get the name right, but that's about it. They just don't get it.

"Lemme give you an example: Liver lasagna. Yeah. You know how bad that sounds? It's worse in person."

Somehow, I manage not to spew iced tea across the restaurant.

Now Playing: Billy Joel & Elton John Face to Face: Live in Tokyo

Mr. Canoehead: Saga of the Arctic Toucan

Mr. Canoehead strikes a blow for ecology! I'll betcha this adventure is what inspired Al Gore to write Earth in the Balance, you betcha.

Previous Mr. Canoehead adventures... Rogue Nun.

Now Playing: Billy Joel Songs in the Attic

Monday, December 11, 2006

Owie revisited

I still have that wretched, nasty ulcer on the side of my tongue. Thanks for asking. The weekend was miserable, with any foodstuff even remotely resembling semi-solid matter sending me into convulsions of pain. The good news is that it isn't getting worse, and may actually be in the initial stages of healing. Alternating doses of aspirin and ibuprofen helped me through the weekend. Chloraseptic does seem to have some mild sedative effects on the pain now, although the impact is fleeting and I'm running through the stuff at an alarming rate. Oragel (and what vile, nasty stuff that is) has proven capable of dulling the pain, but also tends to numb my teeth and lips as well. And did I mention it brings to mind gargling with kerosene? I've never gargled with kerosene before, and believe you me, I have even less desire after this sad experience.

I'm also fairly certain I know what the cause of this wicked affliction is: otherwise known as hand, foot and mouth disease. No, smartass, not hoof and mouth disease. It's supposedly quite rare in adults, which means I'm one of a select few to experience it post-puberty. Joy. Still have no idea where I picked up the virus, since none of my kids have it. I wouldn't have even figured that out had it not been for a deep blister forming on my left index finger--other than that (and the obvious ulcer on my tongue) I've been asymptomatic. Even so, I can say with relatively little fear of contradiction that this is not something you want to pick up.

Now Playing: Billy Joel Streetlife Serenade

Dragonriders of Pern

Any big fans of Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern out there? How about gamers? How about gamers who are also big fans of Dragonriders of Pern?

I've had this game for more than 20 years, yet have never played it despite grand plans. Ah well--it's seeking a new, loving home via eBay if any of you good folk are interested.

Now Playing: The Kinks The Great Lost Kinks Album

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Of whalers and pirates

Just finished the rewrite of "The Whale Below" and sent the story in to the Fast Ships, Black Sails anthology edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer to be published by Night Shade Books. Yes, this is the same story that got me dubbed a shameless panderer by Mr. VenderMeer. Did I mention I had people coming up to me at World Fantasy saying, "Oh! You're the shameless panderer"? Well, I did. So it is something of a relief to finally get this thing tweaked into shape and shipped off.

Funny thing though. While I was backfilling and filing down the rough edges, I got to thinking about how Magda and Capitan Valdez would go about getting a new ship to replace Avispa Feroz. And certain elements of a plot began to congeal in the nether regions of my brain, elements including contraband cannon, an amorous whore and a certain fellow by the name of Diego Brazos. Valdez and Magda may well have inadvertently bitten of considerably more than they can chew. Of course, I have to figure out when I might be able to write this thing...

Now Playing: Glasnots Brave Spirits

Friday, December 08, 2006

Friday Night Videos

When people ask me why I love the Kinks so much, Celluloid Heroes is one of the songs I point to. Simply beautiful. Sad and elegant, more than a little nostalgic. I remember watching this performance on Jay Leno back in '93, when the Kinks were on the show promoting their "Phobia" album. Their rendition of "Hatred (A Duet)" was somewhat disappointing, but this song here converted my City Editor at the paper I was working for at the time into a Kinks fan on the spot.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Peter Gabriel.

Now Playing: Ray Davies Other People's Lives

Thursday, December 07, 2006


I've got an ulcer on my tongue. Man, does it hurt like hell. It's on the side of my tongue, so that any time I speak, chew, yawn, swallow etc. it rubs against my teeth and sends sharp waves of pain out in all directions. You may think Chloraseptic would help. I've gone through half a bottle seems like, and although the entirety of my mouth--from lips to tonsils--is as numb as Bill Cosby's in the famous "dentist visit" routine, the ulcer itself remains unaffected.

Too much information, I know. But if I have to suffer so, then by golly, I'm taking as many of you down with me as I can.

Now Playing: SixMileBridge Across the Water

A special circle of hell... reserved for assholes who think it's clever to destroy natural works of beauty that took thousands--if not millions--of years to form via geological processes. Case in point: The famed rock butterfly formation in the Caverns of Sonora, which was vandalized just before Thanksgiving.

"It's really a sad event," said Geary Schindel, chief technical officer for the Edwards Aquifer Authority and an avid caver. "It's probably the best-known cave formation in the United States, if not the world. In my opinion, it's equivalent to destroying a priceless work of art like the Mona Lisa or a Picasso."

Someone in a group of 11 people on a tour Nov. 21 apparently hung back momentarily and snapped off the upper right wing of the butterfly and made off with it, cave co-owner Gerry Ingham said.

The damage was discovered about a half-hour later during the next tour, but the previous tour members already had left the property.

They apparently had some identifying information that narrowed down the possible suspects, but for some reason the police are dithering. Of course they're dithering, it's only a chunk of rock, right? Why all the fuss? The owners of the caverns are appealing for the piece's return, but I suspect anyone so crass and vile to intentionally destroy an icon like this would be more likely to throw away the evidence in order to feign innocence than, oh, do something crazy like give it back.
Ingham, whose family has owned the property for five generations and opened the cave commercially in 1960, said the damage was not an accident.

"My nephew is 6-foot-3 and he couldn't stand on his tiptoes and reach over the railing and touch this formation with his fingertips," Ingham said.

I'd like to snap this jerk's leg off at the kneecaps, I tell you. Assholes like this make the world a lesser place for the rest of us.

Now Playing: The Kinks Everybody's In Showbiz

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Water on Mars--now!

Okay, now this is just magnificent if it does indeed prove to be true. New Scientist is reporting that the now-defunct Mars Global Surveyor has taken photos that indicate flowing water on Mars within just the past several years:

Liquid water has flowed on the surface of Mars within the past five years, suggest images by the now lost Mars Global Surveyor (MGS). The results appear to boost the chances that Mars could harbour life.

In 1999, MGS spotted gullies carved on the sides of Martian slopes. Thousands of gullies have been imaged since then, most recently by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

Many scientists believe the gullies were carved by liquid water, although others have argued they are due to avalanches of carbon dioxide gas or rivers of dust.

The gullies appear to have formed sometime in the past several hundred thousand years, since impact craters have not accumulated on top of them. But exactly how long ago material flowed through them has not been clear.

Now, new flows have appeared in two of the gullies monitored by MGS, showing that they have been active within the past several years. The research was led by Michael Malin of Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego, California, US. That company operates the Mars Orbiter Camera on MGS, which acquired the images.

There's been excitement about water on Mars before. Research has shown that despite Mars' low atmospheric pressure, liquid water can exist on the planet's surface for modest lengths of time under certain circumstances, although this of course hasn't been directly observed. And over the years there have been rampant online rumors among planetary sciences email lists that seeps or standing water had been discovered (nothing quite so dramatic I'm afraid--the ensuing press conferences discussed "fresh" runoff channels and the sapping of crater walls, indirect evidence of water's presence, but not inconclusive).

The trouble with announcements of this sort is that so many people, like Fox Mulder want to believe that it's easy to jump to conclusions. There may indeed be alternate explanations for this, even if we desperately want it to be water-caused. Either way, this is a fascinating discovery.

Now Playing: Donal Hinely Midwinter Carols: Fourteen Selections on Glass Harmonica

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Heroes: Fallout

Spoiler warning...

Man, all I can say is the writers better not be writing checks the production budget can't cash. When precognitive-painter Isaac finally discovers he can illustrate the future without being high, the result is a dramatic painting of Hiro facing off against a Tyrannosaur armed only with his infamous future sword. "I gotta find that sword," (and "What if I step on a bug?" yeah, I missed one on first pass) is Hiro's only response. Priceless!

The episode overall was several notches above last week's lethargic "Six Months Earlier." My only complaint was that the scenes struck me a very choppy and abbreviated--as if there was a whole lot of plot to cram in before the winter hiatus and not enough minutes to fit it all. It was jarring at times, all the quick-cutting to different plot lines, but not enough to derail the episode.

Who else knew it would all end badly for Eden once she suggested to Jack Bennet they go ahead and off Sylar--aka Amazo--in defiance of orders from higher up? 'Tis a pity, though, because Eden was just starting to get interesting as a character. But Sylar's escape does raise a troubling question: If his prison cell was designed to dampen all of his powers, why was he able to use his telekinesis to smash Eden through the window? Were his powers unaffected by the cell, and he was just playing possum to get a crack at Eden and her abilities? Or was this a "chink in the armor" escape, as played out with Magneto in the X-Men 2 movie? I suspect the writers were trying for the latter, because the visual allusions were too obvious to miss, but if there was any logical basis for the escape, that I did miss.

The whole Niki/Jessica thing? Still waiting for real evidence this is actually a power and not some extreme personality disorder. Yeah, her reinterpretation of the Gollum/Smeagol scene from Peter Jackson's The Two Towers was neat, but it's nothing we haven't seen before. Been there, done that. At least in the otherwise mediocre Superman III, Clark Kent and Superman smacked each other around.

So the Haitian actually can talk, and isn't going to ego-boogie the regenerating cheerleader. Obviously, there's another conspiracy going on below the surface--one wonders if he's part of the Secret Society of Super-Villains, looking to recruit Claire as well as Sylar. I don't understand why he hasn't paid a visit to Peter Petrelli yet, however, to wipe his mind. It's implied (at least, that's my take on it) that he already wiped Nathan Petrelli's mind, seeing how Nathan's demeanor toward his brother changed so radically between their first scene together and the last. But I may just be reading more into it than there actually is.

And Peter... wow. The telepathy feedback between him and what's-his-name from Alias was very well played. Very well, indeed. Those are the deft touches that I love about Heroes, that I felt was in short supply last week. And these bizarre dreamtime, prophetic visions Peter's having, what's up with that? They're not the same as Hiro's ability, not the same as Isaac's. It's as if the various powers that Peter's briefly taken on leave behind a remnant that comes into conflict with other remnants. And since Peter's come into conflict with Sylar, who permanently acquires others' powers, one has to wonder if Peter's abilities have developed a bit more permanence. If nothing else, he's got a Harry/Voldemort connection established with Sylar. The biggest bombshell of the episode, however, was his future vision of himself going boom in a nuclear blast. The surreal presentation of the scene makes it clear (at least to me) that it isn't literal, like Hiro's jumps through time, or Isaac's illustrations of certain scenes, but it contains at least a metaphorical or symbolic truth. Peter comes into contact with the unstable Fallout-boy at some point--or perhaps Sylar does and Peter crosses him again--and the ultimate results are very bad for Peter. Or perhaps Peter never gains Fallout-boy's powers, instead suffering a critical overload from all the others' abilities he's absorbed. The only thing I'm sure of is that it's going to suck big-time waiting two months for the next episode to air.

Now Playing: The Kinks Kinks

Monday, December 04, 2006

Rogue nun

Because Mikal Trimm was so impressed by the origins of Mr. Canoehead, I felt compelled to bring you good people Chapter 2 in the ongoing saga of Canada's Greatest Aluminum Crime Fighter:

Now Playing: Various A Classic Cartoon Christmas

Justice is served

Just got this in my inbox:
On Thursday, November 29, 2006, in Syracuse, New York, Martha Ivery, aka Kelly O'Donnell, dba Press-Tige Publishing and New Millennium Publishing, was sentenced to 65 months in Federal prison, plus 3 years' probation. In December 2005, she had pleaded guilty to all counts of a 17-count indictment: 15 counts of mail fraud and acts against the United States as a principal in a conspiracy, one count of improper use of an electronic access device (legalese for "credit-card fraud not involving the mails"), and one count of false sworn testimony in a bankruptcy proceeding. Sentencing was initially set for April 28, 2006, then postponed to August 14, then postponed again to September 24th--and then postponed yet again, to November 29. The final postponement has been coupled with a change of venue, from Albany to Syracuse.

... Between 1998 and 2003, Writer Beware received scores of complaints about Martha Ivery, a.k.a. Kelly O'Donnell. Ivery ran several fee-charging literary agencies (Kelly O'Donnell Literary Agency, Inc., O'Donnell Literary Services, Inc., Writers Information USAgency), as well as two vanity publishing operations (Press-Tige Publishing and New Millennium Publishing). ...

Posted 30 Nov 2006 13:34; see full article at

Unfortunately, for every scammer sent to the slammer, it seems like there are a dozen more ready to take her place. And hundreds of suckers ready to fork over their hard-earned money.

Now Playing: Various Rocky Horror International

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The mead, she is fermenting

Remember back in July, when I picked all those prickly pear fruit to make some mead? Well, for a dozen reasons or another, I never started that batch. Until now.


I heated up some water in a large pot (not very hot, but warm enough to make the honey dissolve fairly quickly) then I stirred the honey in. Eighteen pounds worth of honey--that's quite a bit no matter how you look at it. It was just your common clover honey blend you get at any grocery store, because I'm going to make this batch into flavored metheglins and melomels it doesn't make much sense to use the more exotic honeys, such as tupelo or orange blossom. Clover's a fairly "neutral" honey taste, so it lends itself well to experimentation. Then I skimmed off the foam that accumulated on the surface of the heated water/honey mix (removing impurities that could cloud the brew, and some mead enthusiasts would say flavor as well, but again, I'm adding different flavors so it works out).


Because I had so much honey, I had to heat it all up in three separate batches. Once the honey completely dissolved in the water and I finished skimming, I poured the must into the fermentation vessel. Long-time readers (all six of you) may remember my Mr. Beer fermentation vessel from a couple months ago, when it was hard at work fermenting beer for one Mark Finn. The mead making is very similar to homebrewing beer, except I don't add any additional sugar to the mix. The honey supplies all the sugar needed--if the mead is too weak, or too dry, simply add more honey. And yes, I did manage to spill while I was pouring into the fermenter. Must is sticky and obscenely difficult to clean up. I've managed to spill every time I've made mead thus far.


The yeast I'm using is Red Star Pasteur Champagne. I emptied the packet this afternoon in a glass filled with about a cup of warm water. An hour later or so--once the yeasties were happily rehydrated, I filled the glass the rest of the way with non-alcoholic organic apple cider to kick-start their growth and fermentation (honey is rich in sugars but poor in other nutrients yeast needs). I added about a teaspoon of yeast nutrient to the must then pitched the yeast. Starting the yeast with the apple cider did the trick, because the airlock in the fermentation vessel started bubbling almost immediately after I closed it up.

So now I've got six gallons fermenting away. In a month or so, once the fermentation peters out I'll rack the mead into four different secondary vessels--I should have enough for that, if I'm figuring right. The 2.5 gallon fermenter will hold the prickly pear mead, and Lisa wants a mint mead (goodness knows we have enough mint growing through all the flower beds). I'm not sure what else I'll try, but I've been thinking a long time about making a sweet jalapeno mead, so that's a possibility. I've also wanted to try a pecan mead--the oil from the nuts may be a problem, but historically nuts have been used in metheglins. I'm thinking about adding oak chips as well, and probably some tannins to add some punch to the final product. I dunno--I've still got a good while to ponder on this before I have to make a final decision.

Now Playing: Various Songs from the Vaults: A Collection of Rocky Horror Rarities

Friday, December 01, 2006

R.I.P. Shooting Star

SSCA5Shooting Star Comics is no more. I know the passing of a small, indy publisher isn't great news to the rest of the world, but it leaves me with a touch of melancholy. Shooting Star published my first comic story, the dragon vs. dinosaur short "Dracosaur" in Shooting Star Comics Anthology no. 5. I have mixed feelings about the finished piece--it's supposed to be funny, but because of space limitations, I ended up cutting most of the jokes so it reads as if it's taking itself more seriously than it does. And while the art is gorgeous, the artist was inexperienced and didn't understand some of what I wanted, so the storytelling (and pacing) suffer. I've toyed with the idea of rewriting and expanding the script to 12-14 pages and drawing it myself, but I don't have enough time to write these days, and artwork is far more time consuming for me.

In its too-brief run, Shooting Star published work by Chuck Dixon, Mike Grell, Todd Fox and my buddy and fellow Green Arrow enthusiast, Scott McCullar. The partners in the company sank a lot of their own money into the thing, not to mention blood, sweat and tears. And time. Let's not forget the time commitment. From my experience and perspective, they were a bunch of talented and enthusiastic creators with a grand vision. I was really pulling for them. Unfortunately, if they were a metaphorical team of horses hitched to a plow (or a wagon, if you like) then they were all pulling in different directions. That's not a good way to accomplish anything, unless, of course, you want to have someone drawn and quartered. A bunch of these guys will turn up elsewhere in the comics biz you can bet, but it's always disappointing to see talented folks come up short in their first effort.


Farewell, Shooting Star. You will be missed.

Now Playing: Pink Floyd Staying Home to Watch the Rain

Friday Night Videos

Peter Gabriel is genius. Period. Not only for his music, which I love because it breaks boundaries left and right (wouldn't it be great if Gabriel and David Byrne collaborated on something?), but also for his videos, which are brilliant works of art in their own right. Shock the Monkey is the first of his songs/videos I ever encountered, so naturally I've been corrupted ever since. My freshman year at college I donned a white suit and white grease paint, making myself over with the tribal markings on my face you can see in this video. Yeah, I'm a geek with many different facets.

Previously on Friday Nigh Videos... Eddy Grant.

Now Playing: The Moody Blues Time Traveller