Saturday, December 27, 2008

Be fair warned OSG...

Well Oh Shit Guy- don't say I didn't warn you. I mean, read this. I, for the record, do not support shooting the Oh Shit Guy. I am much happier with publicly embarrassing him and pointing out his rude behavior, followed by force 9 glares each time he again opens his mouth. Putting bullets in someone is a bit of an extreme reaction (and further disrupts the movie I might add), but if the OSG had kept his damn mouth shut and exhibited a modicum of courtesy, it wouldn't have happened. Please enjoy the movie you paid twelve bucks for in silence.

I guess I'm just saying I thought I was an ass about people talking in the theater, but obviously I am not as big a jerk as I thought I was. I still let them breathe.

I have a droid.

So, I had a recent realization, an epiphany if you will. It started when I was reading Warren Ellis' "Doctor Sleepless." This is a really brilliant comic title, but not for everyone. If you're not familiar with Ellis, I warn you he's not for the squeamish, but one of the best conceptual futurists I think we have, despite simply stunning amounts of subversiveness and vulgarity.

While reading Doctor Sleepless though, the title character says something to the effect of "you are living in a science fiction world, and you don't even realize it." He goes on to talk about people (like me I must admit) who gripe about being in the 2000's and not having a jetpack or a moon base, and the fact they are missing what's going on around them.

I started looking around. Let's start with where I am right now. I am sitting in my living room in Washington state, and pushing little Chiclet-like buttons and making words appear on screens potentially anywhere in the world. Last week, I bought Star Trek toys online from someone Japan. I have a little box about three inches by six inches. I have over a hundred movies on it, the complete classic Star Trek, and about nine other TV shows. On the same box is 15,000 or so books, and somewhere around 11,000 pieces of music. I can put these on a smaller box and take them anywhere. That same smaller box tells me where to drive if I am going somewhere I haven't been before. I can put it to my ear, push a series of buttons, and speak to anyone in the world who has one of these boxes. While in Babylon last time, I could use a version of one of these magic boxes to talk in real time video with my wife on the other side of the world.

And that darling wife bought me one of these for Christmas:

I have a droid. When I tell him to, and I mean tell- no buttons- he roams around the house and tells me when someone is coming. He gets moody and I have to tell him to behave himself. Can he do everything in the movie? No, but it's beginning. This is the first step toward response trees emulating personality in an automaton. If only there were lasers.

That was the Spyder II GX laser. It has a visible range around 15 miles and is powerful enough at close range to light a cigarette.

My point is this. Ellis is right- we are living in a science fiction world. I haven't even gotten into important things like prosthetic limbs which react to your actual nerves, light sensor implants for the blind resulting in 20/80 vision, and life expectancy going from 73 to 78 in the US between 1995 and 2006. All the tools we need to BE Star Trek are there. As much as I love my Mac though, it is time to start using this future tech for what ANY technology's proper use should be- making life better for humans. That doesn't necessarily mean "easier." Think of what we could be capable of doing. And that's without a jet pack.

Oh. Jetpacks too. What an incredible time to be alive. Happy Brave New Year...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Shameless plug!

OK- for lack of a better term this is a commercial. I've been writing since I was just a little kid. I remember when I was in Mrs. Coash's third grade class we were supposed to do a three paragraph story about something we had done. I wrote six pages on the first manned mission to Saturn, complete with illustrations of the Saturnian snakes. In fifth and sixth grade when we were supposed to be writing journals, I wrote fiction including speculation on where we were all going to be in the distant future of 2001 (my buddy James Kemery was president, and I was a brain surgeon out to save his life after a horrible hover-limo accident). I did sequels to movies I'd seen (my Mad Max III predated Thunderdome by about two years). In High School I started writing creative fiction as research papers, complete with made up references and footnotes. Why my high school teachers let me get away with it, I will never know. I suppose if you demonstrate the ability to cite work even if you made that work up in the first place, they're good.

When I joined my current firm, I'd been in about two years when I was reintroduced to something I'd played around with as a kid, but then hadn't seen in a while- the Computer. Specifically, programs like WordPerfect and later Word which allowed me to do things like "editing" or "revising" stories and moving them around without needing anything more than a 3.5" floppy. I started not only writing new stories but accumulating them.

So, my current firm helped me out, but it also held me back. I wanted to write professionally, but the simple fact was, there was no agreeing to any contract or deadline when you might at any moment head off to odd parts of the world to do 18 hour days.

On my last little jaunt into Babylon, I started a new habit. I was sending out draft reports each day, distributed to various organizations who needed the information to do their jobs. I'm not going to get into the types of reports, but they were dry, very dry, and there were a lot of them. I started sending out little music quotes or pop culture references in the subjects of the message just to break the doldrums inherent in the work. Then, late December 2007, one of my recipients recommended I do a little serialized story. A little bit a night, just to see who was reading.

So, on January 1st, 2008 I did. I started a story, one sentence a night for a week. I continued to write stories after that one ended, and they became more complex. I started experimenting with genres I'd never done before, with success (40's detective stories) and less success (western...yikes). People seemed to really enjoy it though, and when I left Babylon there were a few fans lamenting the fact I wouldn't be entertaining them any more.

As I've been back home, I have missed having the reason to write. It was a great challenge to have a daily deadline, but one that wouldn't get me fired if I missed it. I had a backlog of stories. So what did I decide?

Time to self publish.

So here I announce the birth of my Draft Distro Online. There will be two sections- one accessible to everyone with fan fiction allowing people to sample my writing. Then, a members-only section with my original work which I plan to update every two weeks or so. I invite everyone to check it out here. I hope you enjoy my tales- they won't change your life, but hopefully they will entertain you for a few minutes out of your day. Heck, you may even see a cameo appearance someday of the Saturn Snakes...

OK- end of commercial, we now resume my regular ramblings.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Joining the Great Bird.

Well, what a week. Forrest J. Ackerman, Bettie Page, and now Majel Barrett-Roddenberry. She has been an integral piece of Star Trek since the very beginning. Most people remember her as Nurse Chapel on the Classic show, or later fans remember her as Lwaxana Troi on Next Generation. She was of course the voice of the Enterprise's computer in several incarnations of Trek (to include the new film currently in post-production).

To me though she will always be Number One, the unintentionally mysterious first officer of the Enterprise under Captain Christopher Pike. See, when Gene Roddenberry developed the first pilot for Trek, he included a female first officer, referred to in the episode only in grand naval tradition as "Number One." We never hear her real name. We never find out why she is stoic while even the young Spock is smiling. She never shows up or is mentioned again (unless you read Peter David novels regarding Morgan Lefler). She's the consummate Starfleet Officer, holding her own when Captain Pike disappears, and deciding at one point the answer is to use the biggest goddamn gun she can find to negotiate with the Talosians. The idea of such a character in 1965 was so radical, the network made Gene Roddenberry drop the character. So, in real life he married her, put a blonde wig on her, and cast her as Nurse Chapel when the show was finally picked up. I, however, still miss Number One.

Bye Majel- say hi to Gene, DeForrest, and James for me.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

As the inauguration approaches...

Wow- there's some very surprised liberals out there, and some very stymied conservatives. It seems the "change" the President-Elect wants to bring isn't change from the current administration, but rather change from the status quo. See, rather than come in and install all Democrats and Liberals, President-Elect Obama is doing something unprecedented in American politics; he's picking the people he things are the right people for the job. This even means Republicans. Secretary of Defense- Republican. Secretary of Transportation- Republican. Did you see who's giving the invocation at the inauguration? This is not the left wing tidal wave the liberals were expecting.

Meanwhile, Republicans over at Fox News are having to make things up to talk bad about. With the Blagojevich thing blowing up, but no sign of an Obama connection, the investigating attorney asked the President-Elect's office to keep their mouth shut until things could progress. Reasonable. Fox has decided to insinuate no such request was made. The RNC chairman also wants the President-Elect to say more. This got the RNC chairman chewed out by Newt Gingrich of all people. The whole conservative side seems to not know where to go.

So- Obama is not the Left Wing Pelosi whipping boy the Republicans expected, and he's not the Leftist crusader the Democrats expected... he would seem to be his own brand of shrewd politician who's going to take advice from both sides and then make the decision himself. Wait a minute... is that the gentle hum of equilibrium I hear? Not partisan politics, but an honest attempt to do what's right for America? Now THAT'S change I can believe in.

Hurray for balance.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sad update on Bettie...

Just saw online that Bettie Page didn't wake up from her coma, and has passed on. I will not go in depth into Bettie's story here, but if you don't know it, I highly recommend looking into it. She had the type of life you would think someone just made up for a David Lynch or Charlie Kaufman movie, but indeed she was real, and yet not real all at the same time.

I first discovered Bettie when I was about 19 (and no, it wasn't in the 50s!) when Buck Henry wrote an article on her for Playboy about '90 or '91 called "The Case of the Missing Pin-up" or something similar. This was still back in the days no one knew she was still alive, or where she might be. Most of the stuff I found on her even misspelled her name as "Betty" rather than "Bettie." I found the mystery fascinating, and in my further investigation into this mysterious figure I discovered not only Dave Stevens and the Rocketeer (God rest him as well), but also a past America I didn't know existed.

The only 1950s I knew was Elvis and Buddy Holley, and shows like Happy Days. My parents were more than happy to agree that the cozy little fifties the Cunninghams lived in were nearly documentarian in their presentation. As I found books and card collections on Bettie, I had to wonder- if Fonzie was the least behaved character the fifties had to offer, who had been ordering 8 X 10 glossies from Irving Klaw of Bettie all tied up? Why had there been hundreds of small format publications (convenient for under mattress hiding) featuring Bettie on the beach, or in Jungle Girl costume? And dear God, who were these guys taking the pictures?

I don't know if we can credit Bettie Page with changing America, but I will credit her for revealing it to me. Perhaps she revealed it to all of us, and showed us we're fooling ourselves if we really think there was some mystical moral age to which only previous generations were privy. We've always been a little kinkier than we want to admit publicly. Maybe if we admitted it a little more we could get over it more easily.

Bye Bettie, and thank you.

Ouch... it hurts a little.

Seriously, I am a little sore. I walked out of my comic shop on Wednesday night and I did not buy the newest issue of Detective Comics or the newest issue of Action Comics. I honestly cannot remember the last time I did not buy these two titles. For me, these two titles ARE the comic industry. This is Superman and Batman in their oldest titles. And yet, I left them sitting on the shelf at Olympic Cards and Comics (the greatest comic shop in the world, BTW). Why? How could I betray my childhood idols and ideals this way?

Well- In Detective, we were starting the "Last Rites" follow up to "Batman RIP." Since I am not really sure how Batman RIP ended, I didn't feel ready to dive into its follow up. So, I am (here it comes)... waiting for the trade.

Over in Action, DC was continuing the very interesting "New Krypton" storyline. It's really compelling- the idea of 100,000 people as powerful as Superman who did not have the benefit of an all-American, Norman Rockwell upbringing in Kansas. Geoff Johns is writing it, and I like his stuff. He also says its going to take up to two years to fully tell this story. Two years. So I made a decision. I am waiting for the trade.

I read a lot of comics each month, and usually two or three novels, a couple a magazines, tons of internet sites and articles, watch a couple hours of news a day, try to write fifty pages a month, watch the appropriate cartoons and Star Trek, run 15 miles a week, and be a soldier, husband, and father. I admit my sharp geek mind is not what it was. I can't keep up with all the details sometimes, and as it is I keep having to go back a reference stories from two months ago because the majority of stories are six issues long. DC has obviously decided six issue story arcs are too short, and we are going for the long haul. Well, I can't keep up. So, I am going for the trades so I can sit down on weekends and get the whole story at once. Maybe when the current "Crisis" is over I can go back to picking up "floppies" on Detective and Action.

I will miss them- I like 22 full color pages of escapism each month. Don't get me wrong- I like the Watchmen like stories that plumb the depths and bring true literary merit to the genre. More often than not though, I just want a comic book. I like Lagavulin scotch, but more often than not, I just want a beer (though I want it good, and I want it bottled). So, for the time being Detective and Action will have to wait until they are all collected for me to read. Ouch.

By the way, did I mention Blue Beetle is still canceled?

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Geek talk!

OK- I have been bad and talking about everything but my usual geeky subjects, so let em take a moment to talk some full frontal nerdity.

Mouse Guard: Read it. Read it now if you can. The colors are gorgeous, the story adventurous, and it's a good tale with no giant crossover anywhere in sight. Eat it up, yum.

Star Trek: That movie is going to make Star Trek mainstream, and bring in all kinds of cash for Paramount. I don't want Star Trek mainstream. What makes Trek Trek is it ISN'T lowest common denominator. Maybe they can pull it all off, and it will appease me the guy who can give you Kirk's serial number off the top of my head (SC 937-0176CEC), and still appeal to everyone. Good luck. Regardless, they can't take my Classic Trek DVDs away, so either way, I win. Wow! I don't believe in the no-win scenario!

Batman RIP: Should have been called "Batman WTF." This was really written by the guy who gave me All-Star Superman? Yikes.

Batman- Brave and the Bold: New cartoon on Friday nights. Very much the old 1950s Dick Sprang Batman, and well worth your 22 minutes a week. This being out with Dark Knight so popular really speaks to the greatness of this character. Lot of fun to watch- can't wait to see their version of the Joker.

New Guns 'N Roses album: Not bad- not Guns 'n Roses. Just heard my first 'Apocalyptica' song though. Metal version of Bowie's "Heroes" sung in German by the lead singer of Rammstein. Neat!

That's all for now. Be on the look out, I will soon be shamelessly plugging a new website I will have rolling after the New Year. Thank you God, for the internet.

Look! Everyone's an asshole!

So, this sign is now in the Rotunda at the Olympia capitol, stirring up all kinds of trouble, since it is right next to a Nativity scene. Seriously boys and girls, what the hell is this? I roll with diversity, I think everyone has the right to say and believe what they want. I think there SHOULD ABSOLUTELY be an opportunity for Atheists to have a place in any festivity, particularly one as religious as Christmas or Hanukkah can't help but be. This sign however, is just there to insult people. It starts off well, but gets pretty snotty as it goes. In the interest of us all coming together and making the world a better place how about:

"In the coming New Year, the Atheists of Washington ask us to look ahead with logic and reason."

Bam- done. Just like that you're in on hoping next year's better than this one, and it's not hateful. This sign is rude.

But guess what? The Christian reaction is just as stupid. Right now, while intelligent Christians are looking at the sign, shaking their heads sadly, and walking away quietly, there's a very vocal contingent throwing out violent invective insults, and talking about how the people who made the sign will "sizzle like Jimmie Dean sausages in Hell." No really, some jackass really had to say that. So basically, a bunch of ignorant Christians are demonstrating the behavior that made the ignorant atheists put up the sign in the first place.

So, to summarize:
Atheists- your holiday or not, try a little goodwill toward men this solstice and New Year. How about you demonstrate the type of behavior you think not being "superstitious" should engender. Look at the pretty trees and enjoy the egg nog.

Christians- How about extending a hand of forgiveness since, oh I don't know, Jesus' birthday is coming? How about demonstrating the type of behavior your Lord and Savior thought having faith should engender. Little bit of Matthew 10:14, "And if anyone will not welcome you or listen to your message, shake the dust off your feet as you leave that house or that town." Look at the pretty trees and enjoy the egg nog.

Right now, you're all being assholes, and that's not what we're supposed to be about, regardless of your belief or philosophy.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

My best to Bettie...

Here's to thinking of Bettie Page who had a heart attack this week and is in a coma. She's the girl who taught me the 50's were NOT like my parents told me they were... All my best, Bettie.