Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I SHALL have it!


Holy shit... I just found my new dining room table. If you have no idea what this is well... I guess that just means that you're not a gaming geek.

Don't worry - I still respect you.

From the web site:

The Emissary is our hybrid Gaming & Dining table.

Incorporating the same Dropped Play Surface and Layer Cake game surface as the Sultan Gaming Table, the Emissary has the features to take your games to the next level.

All packed into an gorgeous dining room table constructed of solid hardwoods with quality joinery, this table will perform for generations.

There is a place waiting for one in your Home.
Hell yeah, there is, man! ALl for only $1500 - quite a steal. I'm very taken by the "dropped" playing surface. The idea of leaving all my gaming stuff or even half-painted miniatures lying undisturbed in the recessed area, just waiting for my next session is powerfully appealing.

Or... if you have upwards of $9 Large burning a hole in your pocket, you can always go totally nuts and purchase The Sultan which is sot of like the Emissary on rhino steroids. If you're a gamer I double-dog dare you to browse the photos of the Sultan behind that link and not drool. The workmanship looks amazing, and, hey, what more can I say beyond:

The Sultan comes with central dice bay. This is a deep dice rolling area separated from the play area with enough containment to really roll.

Some configurations also have internal dice towers. Throw your dice in the top and let the table give you truly random results below.

Next steps: find a job so I can actually, you know, pay for all that delicious hardwood gaming goodness. No luck yet, I'm afraid, despite a recent interview. Send happy-happy thoughts my way, okee dokee?


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Where's MY damn solar-powered plane???


This is so cool... a solar-powered "hybrid aircraft, that would need batteries to take off and climb, but then could maintain level fight on solar power, and could also be flown as a glider, with the prop stowed away."

Recently, this plane, called the Sunseeker II, flew across Europe and even crossed the Swiss Alps, all under it's own (battery and solar) steam. What's even cooler (to me), is that:

The Sunseeker II fies slowly enough that it is comfortable with the canopy open.

Also, birds are not afraid and come very close, matching my speed, almost landing on my plane sometimes.

More details about the Sunseeker II and its current European tour can be found HERE. While I'm at it, here's an amazing video of the Alps crossing flight, including some absolutely amazing footage of the pilot opening the cockpit canopy to stick the video camera out the side. Can you imagine having one of these for your daily commute? I know I can...

Alps Crossing from Solar Flight on Vimeo.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

All Hailz teh Interwebz!


Wow... from all the way back in '69. But what's with that discordant, anxiety-laden music??


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Simply lovely...


Caught this over on Sullivan's blog and had to share it here.

Hauschka - Morgenrot from Jeff Desom on Vimeo.


Friday, May 8, 2009

Genesis of a short story: Baba Yaga vs. the Nazi Horde!


Like all writers, I'm often asked that most dreaded of conversational questions: "So... where do you get your ideas?"

It's difficult sometimes to explain to people that coming up with the ideas isn't the hard part - in fact, I'm finding that the more I write, the more ideas I seem to have. Nature, it's been said, abhors a vacuum, and that definitely seems to be the case when it comes to ideas - it's like fresh ones flow in to fill up the spaces left-over as soon as I finish a new piece. It's cool...

Just yesterday, I had an idea for a short story, which I've already finished. I'll run it past my amazing and wonderful review readers to see if it's any good - I really can't tell half the time any more. (My working title is "Baba Yaga vs. The Nazi Horde!". Don't worry - I'll change it before I send it out.)

The cool thing is that, due to the rapidity of the concept and writing process (concept to finished first draft in less than 48 hours is really fast for me), I was able for the first time in a while to actually watch all the pieces fall into place, like building blocks. Or Legos. So, I've decided to document how it happened, just in case it helps someone out there struggling with their own creativity issues.

Anyone who's been reading my posts for the last few months knows that I'm out of work right now. This leaves me time for my favorite past-time: catching movies I'd otherwise miss at my local second run dollar theater.

Also, dollar movies are about all I can afford to do right now. That and go to the library. And fret over my unanswered job applications. Sigh.



The other day, I went to see the WWII movie Defiance, starring Daniel Craig. the movie's about Jewish partisans in WWII Belarus, and was quite entertaining.

I also, quite coincidentally, have always been fascinated with the folklore character Baba Yaga, the archetypal witch/crone fairy tale character and prototype for just about every "mean old witch in a gingerbread house." According to legend, Baba Yaga, flies through the air on an enormous mortar and pestle, and lives in a wooden hut that stands on chicken legs. Oh, and she's also a cannibal.

Now, I've been trying to work this myth into one of my stories for years, you have to understand, but I mean, come on. How many stories are actually better with a mortar-and-pestal-riding witch and her dancing, chicken-legged house? Who is also a cannibal? It's a tough sell.

Cut to the other day. I'm sitting in the theater. Daniel Craig's running around shooting Nazis with a MP40 machine gun. People are tossing hand grenades. There are tanks.

"Hmmmm..." I say in my head. "I wonder what would happen if ol' Daniel there got lost in the woods, Hansel and Gretel style, and accidentally ran across someone like, oh, say, Baba Yaga?"

And bam... just like that, I had a story seed. A little watering (via my patented conscious/subconscious 'fret over it' process), and it opened its dark petals, becoming... well... "Baba Yaga vs. the Nazi Horde!"

Of course, not all of my stories are so easy. I'm *still* working on the novella set in Kirin's world, and I've had my fair share of manuscripts that seemed intriguing when I began, only to end up abandoned in despair, half-done, two weeks later. Most will never be picked up again, but at least I wrote enough of them down to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they didn't work and could be safely left beside the road.

So, in closing... If you're a writer, frustrated by a lingering inability to finish projects (I've been there, believe me), I'll say again what I've been saying all along:

  • Start your day writing, and write as long as possible right up to the time you have to leave for work. Seriously... every day. Or at least Mon.-Fri. Saturday is a bonus, and give yourself a day off on Sunday. You'll need time, after all for:
  • Pay attention to all the things around you - as my Baba Yaga story shows, everything that happens to you can, when combined with the million odd happens of everyday life, become a story seed.
  • And... above all else... No matter how bad the story seems, finish it whenever possible and get the damn thing out of your head. Don't worry if it's "a masterpiece" or even "good" - any mechanical or technical issues can easily be fixed in the editing process or through a writer's group, and I promise you... absolutely promise you... that as you clear out the dusty, cobwebbed ideas that have been growing mold up in your mental attic for the last decade or two, other, better ones will flow in!
OK, now go and write something.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Daily Papyrus!!!


So... Amy and I have this little game we called "The Daily Papyrus" (Papyrus being an incredibly over-used font, appearing on everything from hippy-dippy organic tea brands to Mexican restaurant signage to... well, you basically see the Goddamned thing everywhere). As we drive around, we fight to see who can notice its usage someplace.

We find examples every single day. Every. Single. Day.

Anyway... This is for you, Amy:


Why cable news sucks...


Go, go Dan Rather!! Modern cable news really is effing ridiculous, isn't it?

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Nixon Has a Burrito
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Top 10 Rules of Space Opera...


Um... yeah. This is actually pretty true (much to my chagrin).

Thanks go to Katrina from my writer's group for this. (( Bows )).

Sample rule:

9. There should be a captain. If there is not a captain, there should be a special agent. If there is not a special agent, there should be a cadet with a future. If there is no cadet with a future, there should be a mercenary with a dark past.

If there is no mercenary with a dark past, there should be a wisecracking stowaway. If there is no wisecracking stowaway, there should be a witch. If there is no witch, there should be a scientist. If there is no scientist, just remake Spaceballs.

More rules for would-be Space Opera writers HERE.


Hope you liked the new Wolverine movie...


...because you're going to get a lot more like it.

Seriously... do we really need:

Fox is also in the formative stages of a "Wolverine" sequel that will encompass the samurai storyline that was hinted at as Wolverine sat in a bar in Japan as the film concluded (Daily Variety, May 4).

Separately, Fox is developing "Magneto," a film about the X-Men villain with a script by Shelton Turner, and "X-Men: First Class," which Josh Schwartz is penning.

Golly gee... more mutant teenagers and a strange, offshoot ninja/samurai storyline for Wolverine that really was played out by the end of the 1980's. Oh, and Deadpool, "one of the most popular [characters] in Marvel Comics' X-Men universe." Um... really? Deadpool? Because, according to Mr. "Pool's" Wikipedia article:

Wizard Magazine ranked Deadpool the 182nd best comic book character of all time, of their list of the Top 200 Comic Book Characters of All Time.

Wow. 182nd. Out of *200*. That's well below such stellar and film-worthy characters as The Enlongated Man (#160), The Watcher (#150), and Alfred Pennyworth (Batman's butler - #142) - definitely solid characters, but not exactly names that fly, trippingly, off the tongue when one considers making a dedicated feature-lengh film. Methinks someone at Marvel's been huffing ink fumes again...

I went and saw the Wolverine movie this weekend and all I can say is... meh. It wasn't bad, certainly not, but it wasn't really anything special, either. It certainly would have helped if Hugh "Does My Goofy-ass Beard Look Stupid?" Jackman hadn't sleepwalked through most of the film. Seriously... it felt like even he was bored by the whole thing - you could almost see the words "this is what I'll be typecast as for the next 15 years?" scrolling across his forehead.

I know... I know... as someone who wants to one day make a living in partnership with the comic industry, I suppose I shouldn't talk bad about a huge franchise like the X-men, but given the wealth of other (and, let's face it, better) story arcs out there, written by amazingly talented writers like Bendis, Millar and others, do we honestly need endless re-hashings of a few cherry-picked characters' back-story? Something about it just feels like Marvel is deciding to "dumb down" the superhero genre to be more palatable for the general market, a choice that never seems to work. Do they really want to get a reputation for churning out schlock, to the point where your average moviegoer responds with apathy? Because I know I'm yawning re-reading that Variety article...

Let's hope that the new Avengers flick (which seems to be based... loosely perhaps... on the gritty and very adult "Ultimates" storyline, will be good (although I'm certainly not holding my breath)...


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

New Muzak - Arwa Abad (plus what I'm working on now)...


First of all... no good news on the job front yet. I still have a few resumes out there that I'm following up on but, well... (shrug). Sorry - I know you all must be dying for good news. Soon, I hope...

On the bright side, I just finished up yet another short story, titled "Insha'Allah", that I'm pretty happy with. Thanks to Amy (for the neverending inspiration), Jen (for your priceless edits and suggestions), Jen's friend Simon (who gave me pointers on Islamic food, culture and langauage) and everyone else that's agreed to take a look but who have not yet provided feedback but I'm sure you will any day now.


Ahem. Anyway...

A few weeks back I was listening to some tunes on my beloved Hype Machine, when I ran across a blog posting with a very intriguing embedded music track. The artist (it was claimed), was a 14- or 15-year old Pakistani girl named Arwa Abad - the track was a cover of Terra Naiomi's song "Say It's Possible".

Quite frankly, it blew me away. If anything, I like Arwa's version better than the original. not TOO hard, seeing as how the source track is a bit, um, bubblegummy for me, but her cover is really interesting.

Thanks to a comment on the origonal blog posting, I was directed to Arwa Abad's account page on Soundclick - I think it's worth checking out of you're in the mood for a spot of new music. Downloads are free, thanks to Ms. Abad: just click on the "Music" link on the left-side nav menu and either stream the musical goodness, or download whatever tracks tickle your fancy as an .MP3. All are worth giving a listen to, but I really recommend checking out "Say It's Possible", as well as her cover of Iron and Wine's "Each Coming Night".

And to Arwa... if you're reading this, keep it up!!