Thursday, May 29, 2008

Game 5 on tap

As has been pointed out elsewhere, the NBA's Western Conference Finals have turned from a matchup of two great basketball teams to one of swirling conspiracy. Not to add uncalled-for fuel to the fire--Brent Barry shouldn't have shot three had the foul been called, since he wasn't in the act of shooting, but he should have gotten a 1-and-1 chance--but can someone tell me why the NBA corporate offices have their heads so far up their collective asses on this one?

How on earth could anyone think assigning Joey "Mad Dog" Crawford to officiate game 4 at San Antonio would be a good thing? After Crawford went ballistic and earned himself a suspension last season when he ejected Tim Duncan for laughing on the bench, then challenging Timmy Boy to a fight? After how Crawford--inexplicably officiating a Spurs-Hornets game last round--got in Coach Popovich's face and repeatedly jammed his finger in Pop's chest? Reversing the roles, had Pop done the same to any official, he'd have been instantly ejected and fined within an inch of his bank account's life. Ergo, the NBA rewards Crawford by assigning him to the pivotal game of the Spurs/Lakers series.

I remember when the Rockets came back from being down 3-1, but it ain't easy. With the Spurs as old and tired as they've been looking lately, tonight's game 5 may be it for the silver and black. But hope springs eternal.

The Spurs may very well have lost game 4 without Crawford on the LA lineup. Spurs did play like crap. But as bad as they played, they were within a deuce of tying the game and sending it into overtime in the final seconds. To have Crawford there muddying the waters is mind-boggling. Even if he called a perfect game, there'd be suspicions. So tell me, is the NBA this 1) duplicitous 2) oblivious 3) arrogant? Sadly, my vote is for all of the above.

Now Playing: Smash Mouth All Star Smash Hits


There is a special circle in hell reserved for jerkwads who find it amusing to swap the lids of different colored spray paint cans in the stores.

That is all.

Now Playing: Smash Mouth All Star Smash Hits

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday Night Videos

I had no idea what song I'd feature in today's Friday Night Videos installment until I sat down just now. I thought to myself, "Self, I wonder if there's a video for Blue Oyster Cult's "Dancing in the Ruins?" And sure enough, there was. That's one of my favorite BOC songs, but I have no idea why it popped into my head. Lucky you.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... M.

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Day 10... still no camera

It's been 10 days without my XTi and man oh man, am I antsy. I packed it and my 28-135 lens and shipped them off to the Canon Service Center in Irvine, Calif., because the Image Stabilization system in the lens, which keeps buzzing when the camera is shut off, had progressively gotten worse. And Canon's techs wanted both pieces so they could replicate the problem and fix either the lens, camera or both. Not getting this fixed could eventually damage not only the lens, but potentially the camera and the battery. Not good. I didn't have this problem with any of my other lenses, but then none of my other lenses have Image Stabilization.

Well, the package arrived in California safely enough, at least according to USPS tracking. Then it sat in a warehouse for the better part of a week before anyone at Canon took a look at it. The good news--they say they're not charging me for the repair! (There was some concern here, as the camera's under warranty but the lens isn't). I should be getting my fixed camera back next week, but the interim's really, really miserable. The Wife's little Fuji point & shoot just doesn't cut it anymore...

Now Playing: Emerson, Lake & Palmer Return of the Manticore

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Green Arrow: Supermax

When it comes to comics, I've long been a huge Green Arrow fan, as evidenced by my long-time participation in the now-defunct "Green Arrow Fansite" as well as my pre- and post-maintenance of the Green Arrow Shrine (admittedly, it's been suffering from neglect for several years now. Time demands and all that).

I first heard of David Goyer's proposed Green Arrow film a year or so back, and my response was a dubious yawn. The plot line is simple enough--Oliver Queen is framed for murder and spends most of the film trying to escape (to clear his name, natch) from a prison filled with dangerous super-villains who want to kill him. With OZ and Prison Break airing regularly on television to varying degrees of critical acclaim and ratings, how could I not view this with large degrees of cynicism? I mean, what's the point of doing a Green Arrow movie if it's not going to feature, you know, Green Arrow? And for that matter, how can you not include Black Canary!?

Latino Review has now come up with the first script review of this project. I am constantly amazed at all the sneak reviews and breaking news they come up with over there, and this is no different. Where do these guys find this stuff?
Green Arrow finds Khalid dead in a warehouse – killed by a Green Arrow. He’s been set up. A SWAT unit bursts in and a cool chase sequence ensues which ends with Green Arrow getting caught by the Police Chief. Green Arrow is surrounded by an army of cops with their weapons trained on him and he surrenders – our inciting incident on page 10.

Apparently, at the police station, the DA has a hard-on for Ollie and has been wanting to bring him down for years. Hackett comes to the station to talk to Ollie who believes he has been set up by Cross who is staging a ninety billion dollar takeover of Queen Industries. If Queen’s expenditures get marked as criminal activity, this takeover just got that much easier.

It’s obvious that weeks later, Queen is found guilty. The Judge believes that since he has no confidence that a conventional lockup will be able to contain a man of Mr. Queen’s abilities, it is the recommendation of the court that he spends the remainder of his life in the only place in the world that could lock him down…the SUPERMAX PENITENTIARY FOR METAHUMANS. Ollie is surrendered to the custody of the Checkmate Initiative. The Alcatraz for super villains, no one has ever escaped SUPERMAX.

Okay, they're channeling Clint Eastwood's Escape from Alcatraz here. That's actually not much of a surprise. What else are they cribbing?
Want to know how cool SUPERMAX is? The prison changes shape, cells rearrange, and reconfigures every night to disorient the prisoners from breaking out. A transforming super prison! Cool.

Very cool. So cool, in fact, that I liked it the first time I saw this concept, in the well-done, low-budget horror film Cube. Check it out--it's a very good film with excellent SFnal elements, even if the body count is high.

But back to the main thing here, we're dealing with a Green Arrow movie sans Green Arrow. Yes, there've been storylines like this in the comics. In World's Finest Comics Oliver Queen wouldn't reveal the source of one of his newspaper columns once, so a judge threw him in prison for contempt of court. Naturally, there were bad guys in there courtesy of Green Arrow--including my personal fave, Slingshot--and hijinks ensue. So I wonder if Goyer is familiar with this particular storyline that's close to 30 years old? Somehow I doubt it. Goyer's proven he can turn out excellent super-hero scripts (Batman Begins, obviously, and there's much love for the original Blade) but at the same time his script for The Puppet Masters was very uneven, having moments of brilliance as well as utter stupidity, and his treatment of Steven Gould's Jumper remains very problematic for me, although to be fair, he may well have written exactly the script director Doug Liman wanted.

The reviewer is very enthused about the screenplay he read, and in all honesty, I desperately want this film to kick ass and take names. With the glut of super-hero films hitting the marketplace, taking a different tack from the standard origin tale may well be a smart move. But every time you make a statement like that, a film such as Iron Man comes along to show just how much flexibility the whole "origin story" offers. This Green Arrow prison break film really feels like it's more of a sequel to me than the possible launch of a franchise (and let's face it: it's all about the franchise these days). Green Arrow was done very well in the Justice League animated series, but during my time running the GR Fansite I got ahold of screenplays and treatments for a variety of Green Arrow projects over the years. The absolute worst was a TV series pilot in which "Oliver Quinlan" obsessed over Petula Clark and had a dwarf sidekick named John. That's right--"Little" John. I'm not making this up, folks.

So the good news is that there's no mention of Little John in the Latino Review rave. In fact, there are some encouraging flickers of hope amongst those words. Most DC fans are going to get all giddy about potential cameos by Lex Luthor, the Joker and the Riddler (but shouldn't those last two be in Arkham Asylum, rather than Amanda "The Wall" Waller's "Belle Reve" prison unit?), but 1) I doubt they'll make it into the final film due to rights issues and 2) none of those have much to do with Green Arrow anyway. Latino Review posts a laundry list of B- and C-string villains in the prison who'll tangle with Ollie. Some, like the Tattooed Man, the Pied Piper and the Floronic Man are nifty characters I've enjoyed reading over the years as they've clashed with Green Lantern, the Flash and even Swamp Thing. But it's Count Vertigo--the closest Green Arrow has to an arch enemy--that jazzes me the most, followed closely by Merlyn the Archer. No Slingshot, sadly, but Vertigo's reality-distorting powers should look phenomenal on the big screen, not to mention come in handy during the jailbreak sequence.

Sigh. See there? I almost got excited about this one. Almost. I should know better. As they say on the X-Files, I want to believe. Goyer, call me. We'll talk. Reassure me that this is a Green Arrow story and not just a Bourne/Fugitive/Alcatraz mash-up that uses Oliver Queen because he was an unused property laying around you could pick up on the cheap.

Now Playing: The Moody Blues Time Traveler

Monday, May 19, 2008

Little Children

Wow. What a twisted, unexpected gem of a movie. I guess I should clarify that--I expected this to be a film that worked for me, ever since I saw the original trailer for Little Children back in 2006. Throw in Kate Winslet and Jennifer Connelly--two actresses I'm a huge fan of--and how could it go wrong?

It didn't. And although the movie was almost exactly what I was expecting, it presented itself in a manner that caught me completely off guard. For one, there was a narrator throughout the film, offering insightful, dry and sometimes cynical commentary on the goings-on. Unlike, say, American Beauty, we never learn who this narrator is or what his stake in the proceedings may be. This results in a very detached experience in watching the film, as if there's a pane of glass between the viewer and the action on the screen. I found this curious, but it grew on me. That, and this is a wickedly cruel film at heart. I mean, there is some deeply cynical humor built into this movie that none of the characters involved would find amusing, but it's blackly funny as all get-out to those of us watching from the outside. The whole film is a deadpan, straight-faced satire of... well, I suppose my disaffected, cynical brethren of Generation X (and why wouldn't we be disaffected and cynical? The Baby Boomers have used their vast numbers to screw up this country, while the Millennials will hopefully use their vast numbers to fix it. Our paltry Gen X population will suffer through it all, reaping neither the plunder nor the redemption).

The characters, by and large, are all immature and unlikeable to varying degrees, but also sympathetic. There's some pretty ham-fisted symbolism set up between Kate Winslet's character and Madam Bovary, something that shouldn't work but really does (perhaps because of the distance established by the voiceover). The character work here is top-notch, all the way around. From the snotty playground moms to the off-duty, football-playing cops, there's an air of authenticity throughout that makes the film worthwhile.

There were some puzzling choices made by the filmmakers, however. Despite the star power in the cast, Connelly and Winslet never share a scene together, even though an awkward dinner involving the two families is referenced late in the flick. There's a scene with Winslet's babysitter leaving abruptly, giving the impression that she'd somehow found out about Winslet's ongoing affair with Connelly's husband, but this is never touched on again. A paroled sex offender plays a major role in the plot, but for some inexplicable reason his crime was indecent exposure rather than something more heinous, which would've given more heft to the neighborhood's concerns. Immediately after the show ended, I clicked to the menu to check out the deleted scenes--it felt very much like there were several that'd been edited from the film--but was disappointed to find out that none were included. If that dinner scene was indeed filmed, then by golly that's one bit of drama I'd really love to see.

All in all, an excellent character piece. Recommended for those who like this sort of thing.

Now Playing: Joanne Shenandoah & Lawrence Laughing Orenda

Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday Night Videos

"New York, London, Paris, Munich, everybody talk about... Pop Musik!" Okay, so maybe it did come out in 1979, but is it possible for a video or song to be any more 80s than this one? I think not.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Dead Milkmen.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Credit where credit's due

Remember the other day when I voiced some degree of disappointment with Best Buy's Geek Squad for their lackluster efforts regarding the diagnosis of my computer's problems? Well, apparently they have folks at Corporate HQ who Google blogs and the like for references, and came upon mine.

So I get a call from them--or rather, The Wife does--and they leave a call back number for me. Which I call. The guy on the other end thanks me for calling and apologizes for the mediocre, apathetic treatment I experience at the San Marcos location. He expresses appreciation for the detail in which I go into my experience on my blog (which wasn't all that detailed IMHO, since I'm normally way too verbose by default) and informs me they're refunding my $63 since the whole process pretty much left me where I'd started.

Is that cool or what?

I've gone from having generally negative feelings about Best Buy to having generally warm fuzzy feelings about them. This is not insignificant. I hold grudges against the corporate world on general principal. Example: When The Wife and I got married, Foley's sent us a pre-approved credit card application with a special newlyweds discount offer for purchasing items of our china set that we hadn't received as wedding gifts. It was a clever way of getting us to spend money to fill out our set, which we otherwise were not likely to do. So we go in. And fill out paperwork. And more paperwork. Then they submit our paperwork. It doesn't go through. They try again. Still nothing. The manager gets involved. They call Corporate HQ. They talk on the phone. They talk to someone else. Finally, after more than two hours, they decline our application! We point out that it is pre-approved. This doesn't impress them at all. To make matters worse, they refuse to tell us why our "pre-approved" application was declined. "That's confidential," they tell us. And they refuse to apologize for the ordeal. I never set foot in Foley's again after that day, and now, all these years later, Foley's is no more. Coincidence? I think not. Remind me to tell you kids about my feud with Diamond Shamrock/Valero some day.

The point is, Best Buy has avoided this sad fate. And the disaffected Geek Squad remains employed for yet another day.

Now Playing: The Police Message in a Box

Monday, May 12, 2008

Racking with oak

After putting it off for far too long, I racked my current batches of mead last night. That's the five gallon blueberry and 1.5 gallon passion fruit (maypop). I was worried about seeds and skins and assorted chunky bits causing a problem with the process, but things progressed fairly smoothly. The blueberry mead (technically considered a melomel--that's honey wine with fruit added) has the most stunning purple color to it. It looks like a good red wine, one that's just verging on rosé--it's dark, but not so dark you can't see through it. The passion fruit was a clear, golden yellow in color, significantly darker than, say, a chardonnay, but still fairly transparent. All in all, I was struck by how clear these two melomels are clearing out far better than I'd anticipated.

Not that either one's drinkable yet. Yeesh! The blueberry was particularly pungent, with the dreaded "Listerine" effect in full display. Probably a result of the extra sugars from the fruit. The passion fruit, however, had a much more subtle profile and will probably be drinkable much sooner.

In any event, after I racked them and added a small bit of honey to force the oxygen out of the aging vessels via fermentation, I took the next step--I oaked my mead. I've never tried this before, in all honesty. I've just recently gotten a good handle on acid blends and tannins, and how the addition of such can have a profound impact on the quality of mead, so experimenting with oak seems the next logical step. I used four ounces of medium toast French oak chips, split proportionally between the two different batches. I boiled the oak in preparation, then let them soak for about five hours before adding them to the mead. Let me tell you, I didn't expect that oak water to be as thoroughly browned as it turned out to be. It looked like I was pouring out Worchestershire sauce when I was finished. But the aroma coming up was quite enticing--woody, yes, but the vanilla overtones you often hear wine buffs speak of when discussing "oaking" was very clearly defined. Interesting.

I plan on racking the mead off the oak chips in two weeks. We'll see where things stand after that.

Now Playing: Michael Kamen The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

Friday, May 09, 2008

Star Trek: Vol. 6

Over at No Fear of the Future I'm occasionally reviewing all the Twilight Zone episodes on DVD as I Netflix my way through the lot of 'em, and the thought has occurred to me that I ought to do the same with Star Trek. This is the original Trek, mind you, which I watched a lot of back in the day but haven't seen in some years. I've actually been watching these for a couple of months, but will jump in with the disc I just returned, vol. 6.

The first episode is "Miri," written by Gene Roddenberry and Adrian Spies, originally airing October 27, 1966. I know season 3 catches a lot of flack for having awful episodes, but boy, this season 1 offering is a real stinker. It starts off with the Enterprise coming across a planet that's identical to Earth, right down to the continents (does Magrathea exist in the Trek universe?). Only it's deserted. Mostly. The 1960s-era culture is dead except for surviving, pre-pubescent children. Who happen to be 300 years old. While pursuing longevity research using viral vectors, scientists on the planet released a disease that wiped out all adults while at the same time slowing the children's aging process. Naturally, Kirk and the away team come down with the disease--except for Mr. Spock--and have to convince the wary children to help lest they die from the disease as well. The kids, although they age slowly, do age, and each in turn will come down with the affliction and die. It's one of the patented Trek "alien disease of the week" episodes, an episode type introduced to much better effect in "The Naked Time." The whole hunt for a cure is by-the-numbers, Spock's immunity is noted then ignored the rest of the way, and as for the planet being an exact copy of Earth? Not only does it have absolutely no bearing on the story, but it's never mentioned again. The only thing that's kinda cool about his episode is the whole Lord of the Flies vibe going on with the child-only society. That's a nifty take that would've made much more interesting television, had they only developed that angle more.

The other episode, "The Conscience of the King," is more interesting. It's essentially a war crimes whodunit, with Kirk on the trail of an actor who may have at one time committed atrocities while governor of a colony planet that underwent a major catastrophe. It's obvious to the viewer that the actor--Arnold Moss--is indeed the wanted criminal. And the tension deepens when the few remaining witnesses that could identify him turn up dead. The twist comes when it's revealed his daughter is the one knocking off the unfortunate victims in order to "protect" her father. Pops and Kirk confront her, and Pops ends up shielding Kirk from daughter's killing phaser blast so that he'll have "no more blood on his hands." As an effort to translate Shapespearean tragedy to the SFnal setting of Star Trek, it's fairly effective. The traveling company of actors have several of Shakespeare's plays in their repertoire, just in case slower viewers miss the symbolism. The pseudo-happy ending, where the crazy daughter is taken off for "treatment" and duped into thinking Pops is alive and well, acting his heart out halfway across the galaxy, feels tacked on and is, once you get right down to it, pretty damn cruel and duplicitous. "Just a little harmless brain alteration..." Sometimes you wish the writers would think the implications through just a little more thoroughly.

Now Playing: John Mellencamp Whenever We Wanted

Friday Night Videos

A few weeks ago, when I featured Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper here, I quoted from the Dead Milkmen song "Punk Rock Girl." Bet you thought that was just a throwaway line. But no, I let it simmer there until you folks thought I'd forgotten about it, and now I spring the video on you. Ain't I a clever one?

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Thomas Dolby.

Now Playing: Shakira Laundry Service

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Geek Squad my Aunt Fanny

A few weeks ago, my computer stopped burning data discs. The Wife was trying to backup photos on CD-R and my computer just refused to do it. Odd, thought I. Then I found out this held true for burning audio discs as well. I ran various software repair programs, defragmenting, fixing the registry, scrubbing the hard drive for viruses and spyware... nada. I even resorted to a system restore, to no avail.

Talk about inconvenient. Not a disaster, but inconvenient none the less.

Then on Tuesday the computer refused to recognize the memory card from her camera. It insisted the card needed to be initialized--although it already had been and was full of photos. When I get home, I discover the computer is also insisting the same in regards to my flash memory drive as well as my external hard drive. In effect, it refuses to recognize any USB peripheral. All of my data (read: Stories, articles, reviews, etc.) is safe and sound on my hard drive, but I have absolutely no way to access them.

So I take the computer in to Best Buy. I'm not a huge fan of big chains, but the whole "Geek Squad" suckered me in. Plus, I didn't have time to research independent computer repair shops in San Marcos and Best Buy would be convenient for me on my commute. So I take it in and explain the problem, then outline all the unsuccessful steps I'd taken to fix it on my own. The slack-jawed yokel takes my computer and says he'll call me in 20 minutes with the diagnosis. Fast forward 45 minutes. No call comes. I'm waiting in line and finally get up to the doofus, who cheerfully informs me that there are no viruses on my computer and that I'm good to go. But I already knew there were no viruses. Did my CD burner work? Would it recognize my flash memory? Had he listened to anything I said? No, on all counts. They'd have to keep it and run a deep diagnostic on it, he informed me, but would be in touch later in the afternoon with the results. With foreboding, I left my computer there. They already had my $63 after all, but I wasn't about to throw good money after bad.

Of course, no phone call ever came. So I headed over there this afternoon to have them tell me all the hardware checks out. That's the good news. The bad news is that the operating system--Windows XP--is corrupt and unstable. It has to be re-installed. Dell will provide me with a recovery disc, after which point everything should work fine again. Except that re-installing Windows will wipe everything on my hard disc. And I can't back it up externally because Windows isn't playing nice with USB right now. Ain't life swell? Best Buy offered to do a data recovery for $100 or so, then re-install Windows for $130 once I got the disc from Dell. No thanks, pal. I've had time to research while waiting for you to never call me. There's a local outfit just a block away from me that'll do it for $65 since there's nothing wrong with my hard drive. I'm still very much annoyed by the whole situation, and cringe at all the programs I'll have to hunt down the discs to--not to mention those I installed via downloads and will have to start over from scratch with. Ugh.

And yes, I know Microsoft sucks donkeys. Macs cost too much and I'm not enough of a tech head to even consider Linux, so I'm stuck. I know this. Thank you for your concern.

Now Playing: Jimmy Buffett Boats, Beaches, Bars & Ballads

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

As an unabashed fan of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, all I can say about Iron Sky is... I'm so there.

Not wild about the "rumble" of that motorcycle, tho. Sound in space is one thing, but an internal combustion engine?

Now Playing: Blue Öyster Cult Workshop of the Telescopes

Monday, May 05, 2008


It's Monday! And I've posted a new installment of MEMORY over at No Fear of the Future! I'm not late this time! How incredibly cool is that? And to top it off, there's some degree of resolution/payoff this time around. Oh, the big mystery is still looming in the background, but at least the reader kind of gets the idea of why/how Parric and Flavius are tied together. Enjoy!

Now Playing: Billy Joel Cold Spring Harbor

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Contemplating MEMORY

As I'm sitting here with Word Perfect fired up, starting in on part 12 of MEMORY, a number of thoughts occur to me.

First among them is how much I'd love one of those profoundly sweet steampunk keyboards for my computer. My prose would read sweetly as honey on the page were I typing on one of those, but that observation, true though it may be, has little to do with MEMORY.

The second thought is that I'm only blogging right now in order to avoid actual for-true real writing on MEMORY. Which is also true, but as this is my nature, I won't comment any more on it.

The third thought is how this experiment has unfolded in a vacuum. There's been virtually no feedback thus far (and by "virtually," I mean "none") which means one of several things: 1) Readers are dumbstruck by my amazing writing prowess; 2) Readers are dumbstruck at just how bad prose can be mangled online; and 3) Readers couldn't care skunk farts about what I write. Personally, I'm hoping for option 1.

The fourth thought is shame for how quickly the installments became irregular. A thousand words a week isn't all that much, but it becomes increasingly difficult to meet deadlines when one puts off the actual writing of said thousand words in favor of other things, such as writing blog entries. My goal when I started this was to publish a new chapter each Monday. To say I've slipped is an understatement. But I intend to get back on track.

The fifth thought is that 11,000 words, give or take, is actually a lot of words. Particularly if the goal was to write a short story. I don't think I ever kidded myself that MEMORY would end up being a short story. Hell, I can't write "short" stories even when that's the goal. As MEMORY was conceived as an ongoing serial, I figured it'd be considerably longer when all was said and done. In that light, 11,000 words, give or take, is actually not very many words at all.

The sixth thought is something akin to amazement at how I really don't know what's going to happen next. Oh, I have kind of general idea what main event is going to transpire in chapter 12. I've actually known about it from Day One, since it ties directly to the narrative's macguffin. But that's just a little milestone out in the middle of a whole lot of unknown. Most of what transpired to get the narrative to this point was as much a surprise to me when I wrote it as it was when my hypothetical readership read it for the first time. When I first sat down, I didn't know Flavius had a nephew. I'd never conceived of Knowicent before she appeared in Parric's room. I hadn't realized that I'd been misspelling her name until just this instant--the insight struck me that it's actually "Knowiscient." Funny that. Now the question arises of whether I retroactively change her name to the proper spelling or leave it be the rest of the way out, or change it in new installments while leaving it in those already published. That's a gray area in my rules, since I allowed for typo changes but not for edits impacting the narrative. And her name might do so, if only in a very small way. Hmm. Apart from that, I'm curious to see what course of action Parric and Flavius will take after Chapter 12. I don't know, other than the fact that neither one is going to spend a heck of a lot of time on the granite dome of a mountaintop underneath a violet sky.

The seventh thought is that I'm finding the writing of each installment falling into a pattern. The writing, that is. It's as if I'm structuring each chapter with a definite beginning, middle and end. They're not so well-defined as to be stand alone, obviously, but for the most part they're faithfully ending on a note of tension--outright cliffhangers in some instances. Monkey Girl fancies herself as something of an expert on cliffhangers, critiquing the chapters of the Nancy Drew mysteries I read to her at bedtime on occasion (modern Nancy Drew books pretty much stink where cliffhangers are concerned, while the older book in the series generally have the art of cliffhanging down pat, if you must know). I think some of that must have rubbed off on me, because I am very conscious about how and where my writing ends in regards to the narrative. Does this make it read choppily, or does it flow together smoothly despite the piecemeal nature of its construction?

The eight thought is that it is now one o'clock in the A.M. and I am tired. Going to bed now. G'nite folks.

Now Playing: The Police Message in a Box

Friday, May 02, 2008

Puppets vs. Ben Stein

Ben "Science Leads To Killing People" Stein has quickly become my most-loathed person on the planet. I believe he's willfully ignorant, which is bad enough, but his bizarre oatmeal-based charisma is leading gullible folks away from science back to the good old days when virgins were sacrificed to ensure a good harvest. Or was that a Twilight Zone episode? shrugs Not that matters to anti-rationality Stein. What can possibly save us from this menacing, intellect-devouring black hole? Why, puppets of course!

Now Playing: Antonin Dvorák The Best of Dvorák

Friday Night Videos

Thomas Dolby's "She Blinded Me With Science" is the only video I know of to feature a "Home for Deranged Scientists." If that doesn't bring a tear to your eye, you're a cold, heartless bastard. Enjoy.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Billy Squier.

Now Playing: Billy Joel The Nylon Curtain

Take THAT, Ben Stein!

Via Science Fiction Brewed Fresh Daily comes this bit of joy from Scientific American: 15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense.
When Charles Darwin introduced the theory of evolution through natural selection 143 years ago, the scientists of the day argued over it fiercely, but the massing evidence from paleontology, genetics, zoology, molecular biology and other fields gradually established evolution's truth beyond reasonable doubt. Today that battle has been won everywhere--except in the public imagination.

Embarrassingly, in the 21st century, in the most scientifically advanced nation the world has ever known, creationists can still persuade politicians, judges and ordinary citizens that evolution is a flawed, poorly supported fantasy. They lobby for creationist ideas such as "intelligent design" to be taught as alternatives to evolution in science classrooms. As this article goes to press, the Ohio Board of Education is debating whether to mandate such a change. Some antievolutionists, such as Philip E. Johnson, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley and author of Darwin on Trial, admit that they intend for intelligent-design theory to serve as a "wedge" for reopening science classrooms to discussions of God.

Besieged teachers and others may increasingly find themselves on the spot to defend evolution and refute creationism. The arguments that creationists use are typically specious and based on misunderstandings of (or outright lies about) evolution, but the number and diversity of the objections can put even well-informed people at a disadvantage.

To help with answering them, the following list rebuts some of the most common "scientific" arguments raised against evolution. It also directs readers to further sources for information and explains why creation science has no place in the classroom.

Now, if we could just get every gullible schmuck that sees Ben Stein's disingenuous "Expelled" movie to read the whole Scientific American article, maybe we could undo some of the damage being inflicted on American's understanding of science.

Now Playing: Billy Joel The Nylon Curtain

Thursday, May 01, 2008


Okay, as far as I can tell there's no way to embed this, but if you're a Gremlins fan, you've got to check out this link. It's a television commercial, granted, but that little romp left me grinning more broadly than anything I've seen in a long time. Gloriously chaotic mayhem like that will have that effect on me.

Personally, I loved the first Gremlins film, and really, really loved the second. Casting Christopher Lee as a mad scientist was brilliant. Spoofing the first was also a clever stroke. In fact, almost everything in that film worked, even though they had to dramatically re-tool the ending (which originally involved many concrete trucks) because of budget constraints. And I will also admit that I've been on a Quixotic quest of sorts for the better part of the last decade to get ahold of Terry Jones' (yes, he of Monty Python fame) unproduced script for Gremlins 2. Supposedly, it was wicked funny from start to finish, but would've been one of the most expensive films in history at the time. So if any of you have a copy of it lying around, you know where to send it.

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Mind Meld

The good folks over at SF Signal have invited me to climb up on their weekly round-robin soapbox. The current topic posed to the group: Which SF/F Books Have The Best and Worst Endings?

So, what kind of harebrained answer did I come up with? Here's my opening lines:
How do you really define "Best ending"? Is the best ending one in which the narrative relentlessly builds toward, one that's inevitable and inescapable yet still provides a satisfying denouement? Or would "Best" be better defined by that unexpected twist, that out-of-left-field trump card that comes at the reader unawares, yet in hindsight seems a perfect--yet audacious--resolution to the story? Both are very different types of endings, appropriate to very different types of stories.

The rest, of course--along with some thought-provoking commentary from writers far more insightful and eloquent than myself--can be read at SF Signal.

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