Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Organic Armor

Organic Armor makes some cool and elegant and, well, organic -- armor pieces.
They make pretty inspiring stuff.

Friday, December 27, 2013


I wanna go scuba diving in Iceland. I just do. I do.

Dune Mountain Dew Parody Commercial from Byron Merritt on Vimeo.
Don't Shoot the Costumer on what to pack in a truck.
So. Translights. We really should use such things on our movies. 
Check it out: Ryan's Reviews -- dude reviews no/low-budget movies.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Brother Dune

My eldest brother's website.


Jeff Somers depressed me with his end-of-year review. I've read everything of his except for Lifers and Chum. He's pretty brilliant. We even named a character after him in Day II.


On the eye effect in Dune (2000).

Speaking of Dune. Does anybody else notice the allegory of Dune to Vietnam? The way the Harkonen deliberately wait out the war in such a way that they figure the Empire will have to escalate it? I mean, for a book that came out in 1965 that is alarmingly prophetic because essentially the US military waited out the war expecting that they'd be able to get full political and public support for a massive invasion. That, of course, never happened.
Ho Chi Mihn isn't the Kwisatz Haderach but I think you see where I'm going with this.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


Looking back o'er this year of our Lord 2013 I've done the following. I wrote a book. I released two albums.

 And that's about it. Well, when I say the word "done" I mean "finished".
I "wrote" a book in that I liberally parodied another book.

I finished two albums which were primarily recorded in previous year(s). One by Tyrannosaurus Mouse. The other by Diatomaceous Earth.
I have two movies sitting on drives whilst we are finishing another movie. The releases of these movies next year will make next year seem very productive movie-wise even though most of the work is/has been done nowlike. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

It's my Internet and I can rant incoherently if I want to

There are some things I'm good at as a director. There are things I feel "need improvement". I'm good at finishing movies, obviously. I'm good at shooting wide painterly vistas.
I'm less good at building tension and suspense.
I know people who are good at that. Like Jim and Chance.
Sometimes I feel like this will be the best movie we've made. Sometimes I feel like I'm way over my head on this movie. I wish I made Westerns. I can do Westerns.
There's quite a bit of action in this picture.
I do wish I were better at directing thriller scenes. There's a lot of what I think of as details which need to be shot in order to build a scare or make a tense scene. Or an action scene. I suppose if we really had a solid idea of what our sets were like before we shot in them we could storyboard the whole movie to give a notion of how the movie would get edited and then we just shoot the storyboards. That sounds perfectly luxurious to me.
This thing here is called a "section sign". § I like it. I want more of them. I want a sideways one.
I've worked on a lot of indy pictures. I mean I worked on a lot of them before I just gave up and started making my own movies.
The funny thing is that so many of these indy pictures shot in New York are identical. They have identical and interchangeable scripts and they're shot the same way, making the same mistakes, every time. They're long and talky scripts about someone from a particular ethnic group who wants to be more mainstream but then learns something about their own culture and embraces their culture instead of trying to find "success" the way they've defined it up until page 60 or so. C'mon, seriously. It's every single freakin' movie.
Also, they're all shot the same way.
  • The standard shoot on these low-budget operations is 18 days. That's three 6-day weeks. 
  • Why work 6-day weeks? Apparently the reasoning is that your rental items are weekly, and you think you (as a producer) save money that way. Turns out you don't. Why? Because production doesn't get enough sleep and starts making some stupid decision or some non-decisions.
    On a typical picture where you're bouncing around from location to location each day you're going to lose at least two locations. But now the director and producer(s) don't have time to look for new locations because they're working 14 or more hours a day for 6 days. So by the end of the shoot the whole crew ends up being parked somewhere just waiting for someone to make a decision.
    No sleep, bad decisions also means:

    • The movie instantly goes into massive overtime.
    The director has no idea what's actually important and what isn't important in editing. They insist that entire takes be good rather than  making sure that they have something that's editable. I suppose this is a "first-time director" problem but I'm shocked at how much I see it happen.
    The DP is shooting their reel rather than shooting the movie. Setups which should take 15 minutes take an hour-and-a-half. Why? Because the narrative of the picture doesn't matter to the DP. Getting their next job and using all their toys matters. This is, not surprisingly, not good for the movie at hand.
    Presumably this is a list of the movies Stephen Spielberg expects you to watch "before you work with him." What's missing? Well in my little world it would be the following probably. How about:

    • Alien
    • Aliens
    • Blade Runner
    • Forbidden Planet
    • Logan's Run
    • Planet of the Apes
    • The Road Warrior
    • Serenity
    • Silent Running

    TV Series:

    • Star Trek
    • (New) Battlestar Galactica
    • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • Firefly

    See? I just like that thing.

    Saturday, December 14, 2013

    Cancelling Christmas

    That's it. Forget it. I'm cancelling Christmas.
    Remember when I was all excited because the TSA would allow pocketknives on airplanes? Well thanks to a bunch of whining by know-nothings, it's not going to happen.
    My already anti-Christmas family had this whole idea that they were going to give money to charity. I mean for Christmas. Like to the Philippines and such. When I had the brilliant idea that I'd give everyone knives. You know, thinking that the TSA wouldn't take them away anymore.
    Well now my brilliant idea has gone to pot and now there's only charity. Well "tphthth" to that.
    I'm cancelling Christmas.
    There. It's done.

    Wednesday, December 11, 2013

    All You Need Is Better Dialog

    We're working on a mockbuster of the Tom Cruise sci-fi movie Edge of Tomorrow. So I figured I'd read the book it's based on.
    I'll go ahead and call it.
    All You Need Is Kill is a touchstone of military sci-fi.
    Does that mean it's well - written? No. Not at all. I suppose it could just be the translation, but all the dialog (even the title), the metaphors, etc., is/are just... terrible. I mean embarrassingly bad.  On-the-nose bad.
    And seriously, the red woman? She only needs one nickname. And "Full Metal Bitch" isn't it. The "Red Valkyrie" would have been more than fine. "Full Metal Bitch" is just... stupid. The title of the book is just... stupid.
    But the story is pretty cool.

    I like to believe it's the translation. But it could be that's where Japanese novels are at.
    Fun fact with our mockbuster -- we already blew our wad with a Groundhog Day story with our Prometheus Trap. So this time we're going in a very different direction. We're pulling out the time travel elements altogether. Wish me luck on that one.

    Tuesday, December 10, 2013

    Joshua James Project

    Josh James, who wrote Alien Uprising, has published a book of his plays. Check it out.

     A thing that's cool about this collection of plays is that they're royalty-free. So if you've an educational or independent theater and you're lookin' for plays to do, look here.

    Monday, December 09, 2013

    Somebody's Three Things For Today

    Naked Holidays. Probably the only Christmas show you want to see. Amiright? You know I'm right. You totally want to see it. I'm going.

    Zip and Li'l Bit. I've been really enjoying these web comics.

    Android Insurrection has a German Wikipedia page.

    Friday, December 06, 2013

    All the Young Girls Love Alice

    The BBC series Luther is shot strangely. I mean singles on the wrong side of the frame, eyes-in-the-middle-of-the-frame strangely. Either the first season was much more like that, or I got used to it in subsequent seasons, but it's rather weird.
    This isn't even a terribly egregious frame as it goes. But it shows the "wrong side" well.
    The show is rather well-written but it squanders female characters like crazy. And I do mean "squander" -- not "makes uninteresting". Lady Jessica is a fantastic "police captain". Is it a spoiler to say...? Why yes. It's a minor spoiler to point out that between the first and second seasons...
    Weird "eyes-in-the-middle" thing.
     ... she disappears. Never to be seen again. Not a plot thing. Maybe the actor just took off? Who knows? But she was a good and interesting police captain who was a woman and really one could go on and on about how she was a female character but in command but without that "never let them see you cry" ethos. I mean, it's a gazillion interesting.
    But now I'm done watching Luther and I can get back to work.

    Wednesday, December 04, 2013

    Headphones and Philip K Dick

    If you've got nigh on $1500 to lay out for a pair of headphones, the Sennheiser HD800's are apparently the ones to go for.
    If you only have $350 we may have a new winner in the dynamic headphone contest and those are the Focal Spirit Professionals.

    Tara Platt is in a movie that was shot in that cool standing spaceship set in Laurel Canyon. The Crystal Crypt... well now I don't know if it was shot in that set in Laurel Canyon or if they built the sets themselves. They're pretty awesome sets.

    Sunday, December 01, 2013

    Wi-Fi Hi-Fi

    Very obnoxiously the router at our office keeps knocking everyone off. Now you'd think that not having Internet access in our studio would vastly increase overall productivity. And. Well, okay. Yes it does that. But we also sometimes need to actually be able to upload and download stuff. Sometimes a lot of stuff.
    There's wifi access devices we could get while the Internet is being wonky. Karma makes a device which supposedly works here.
    Edouard BOUBAT

    Even Virgin Mobile has a pay-as-you-go Internet plan.
    One problem is that we can eat data for breakfast. Between uploading movies for us to look at and making backups, we can sink our way through 6GB a month with no problem. This makes anything short of "unlimited" data extraordinarily expensive for us. To which I say "bleh".
    So uh. FiOs is not available at our office (in fact, I've never been anywhere where it is available. Does it really exist? I mean my office and my apartment are both across the street from telephone company Switches. You'd think... Nah. Why bother.)
    We could have a separate DSL line dropped. That will end up costing another what, sixty bucks a month? Or we could do something else. I'm thinking about getting a repeater and using it to repeat the wi-fi signal from the business we're connected to. Their Internet works great.

    Friday, November 29, 2013

    Horror Without Victims

    Our own Eric Ian Steele wrote the short story Clouds included in the "Horror Without Victims" anthology.

    Eric wrote Clonehunter. And the story Clouds is a fantastic little piece of horror. Check it out.

    Thursday, November 28, 2013

    Red, White, and Blue

    So I guess Only God Forgives isn't really a big Hollywood film. But it's beautiful in a sort of archaic (meaning, what, the 90's?) way. Each frame is very deliberately composed. Long takes. Long elegant dolly moves.

    But it's the color which I found so striking. There are a lot of red, white, and blue compositions. I don't know if they were deliberately going for something in particular, like Ryan Gosling being in red for the beginning of the movie and then another color later. It seems like the movie itself goes through color changes rather than the colors being related to particular characters. So we go from red to a sort of daylight-clear but using architecture to frame, then going blue. Or maybe the red is, like, representative of the mother's stifling oppression, man. The movie is formal.
    And the movie is slow. I mean it's like 2001 slow. And if the slowness doesn't make you think of 2001, the Penderecki-like score will certainly do the trick.
    Cliff Martinez scored the picture. He's done a number of things I've really liked, like Solaris. I love the score in Only God Forgives. He's kind of the master of these moody sorts of scores which sound massive but which you can put dialog over.
    Sometimes the Foley is comically kung-fu-movie-like. Some of the scenes are super delicate in their use of sound against score. It's not like the movie is all that literal. I mean, time certainly isn't linear. And there are certainly "choruses" of unblinking extras who just observe unemotionally.
    It's a pretty striking picture. But I mean seriously. Where does he get that sword?

    Tuesday, November 26, 2013

    To Do BA Dry

    Under "things I want to do" I thought, especially to appease my friend Ed McNamee, it would be nice if there were a way to meld my triumvirate blogs (blog.tyrannosaurusmouse.com blog.pandoramachine.com and blog.pleasurefortheempire.com) with the addition of puppiesandtoast.blogspot.com into one feed. I don't think there's an automatic way to do it. So it looks like it won't get done.

    So. With SCUBA. I'm allergic to neoprene. There are three options in the world of wetsuits that I know of.
    • There is stuff called Sharkskin which as far as I know is simply not available in the US.
    • Then there's a UK company called Fourth Element which makes a wetsuit from Thermocline. (I feel fairly confident that I am not allergic to the Thermocline material as I have a pair of AquaLung gloves made of Thermocline and haven't had trouble with them.
    • Lastwise there is stuff called LavaCore made by Oceanic. This is the cheapest option at about $220. (I have SCUBA "socks" made by LavaCore and again I feel relatively confident that I'm not allergic to it.)
    Incidentally, tests have shown that what doesn't help is to wear (say) LavaCore underneath Neoprene. Nope. Still have allergic reaction. Apparently everyone on the Internet who has a Neoprene allergy says the same thing. It just don't work.

    But then here's another thing.

    Although all of those above suits are neutrally buoyant, which is very groovy, they're all fairly light-weight. Scuba diving in New Jersey is almost never warm. Because when you're not diving in the North Atlantic, you're diving in quarries which are under fifty-degrees at a depth of 50' year-round.
    • So that means that realistically a dry suit is usable all the time when diving here. 
    • And many dry suits are available without neoprene.
    • Dry suits are, unfortunately, expensive (like $2000).
    • Dry suits have almost no resale value, so you can pick them up cheap off of the Craigslist.

    And that's about it for what I have to think today. I'm done thingking. Tinking. Finking.

    Saturday, November 23, 2013


    I sold a couple things on eBay.
    One thing that's cool is that between eBay and PayPal the whole selling process is relatively easy.
    Firstwise is that eBay now automatically figures out what category your item should be in based on previous similar items. That makes life much easier.

    In the world of selling audio stuff people like to know the serial numbers just in order to be sure things haven't been stolen. So I always include the serial numbers.
    Also it's nice to tell a little story about the item. Folks like that.

    Betty White. If you're bored by the rest of this post, here is Betty White.
    I even spelled the name of this thing wrong. Yeah. I know. It's because I was thinking "Philosopher's Stone" instead of "Philosopher King". So sue me. It still ended up in the right category and showed up under the correct searches.

    But the thing that make my life the easiest is that eBay/PayPal will print out your mailing labels. I mean, you can even buy the postage (you know, through PayPal) and it prints out everything so you can just drop it off.
    I thought I had to take the packages to the window. Turns out I don't. I did. But I didn't have to.
    All in all a fairly painless process. Hopefully the buyers will be happy.

    Monday, November 18, 2013

    Knives Allowed

    So, I'm unpacking a new air mattress from Amazon and I don't have a pocket knife. And my eldest brother has no pocket knife. And my father has no pocket knife.
    I'm all like:
    How is it that three men do not have a single pocketknife between them? Is this all because of the TSA?
    The answer was "yes".

    But it turns out that we can carry pocket knives again! Whoopie!
    I'm a tad confused about when these new implementations go into place. But they seem pretty reasonable to me.
    I just might order a whole bunch of pocketknives for everyone for Christmas. Gerber, baby. Not just Gerber for babies. Gerber knives. They're just the best. Get some for Christmas.

    Sunday, November 10, 2013


    “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of un-bar-b-qued lips, and I live among a people of greasy ribs, and my eyes have seen the King, and tasted the food at Soul Flavors which is now closed.
    For years I found Soul Flavors in Jersey City to be the best soul food I'd ever eaten. Now, 'tis tru my cousin did introduce me to Red Rooster in Harlem and yea verily I do pronounce it as good as Soul Flavors. 
    But it's in Harlem and I live in Jersey City. 
    In sadness I post this bunny.
    Just up the street from where Soul Flavors was is a real hole-in-the-wall Polish restaurant. Every single thing I ate there -- stuffed cabbage, stuff chicken breast (mozzarella), pierogies (of course), and sauerkraut, were delicious. And helped take the edge off my speechless sadness at the demise of Soul Flavors.

    Wednesday, October 30, 2013

    Handcuffs of the Present

    So I'm walking down the street and I casually look in a window and see this.
    I saw the orange one first.
    They only had the two of 'em. And they were $15 a piece and I couldn't talk 'em down.
    Somebody's gonna need to modify them or put some sort of thingy in-between them.
    They knew I was desperate. They knew I'd do anything. But now we have the handcuffs of the future.

    Tuesday, October 29, 2013

    Handcuffs of the Future

    We need handcuffs. But you know, from the future. There are these nice-looking things. I don't think they actually exist.
    Much breathless reportage occured when someone filed for this patent on cuffs which could administer electric shocks or drugs.

    Here are the images for our police badge. I forget which one we got.
    We got this dark one.
    We need at least one control panel which goes on a wall.

    Monday, October 28, 2013

    Ecig in the Movies

    Matthew Trumbull occludes Sarah-Doe Osborne while Tarantino Smith looks on.
    My eldest brother, Dave, custom mixed this nicotine-free haze stuff for this e-cig he lent us for the movie.
    Matthew Trumbull took to it right away. It's amazing how, without any flavoring added, I can't smell this thing at all. I mean, I can smell our regular theatrical hazer.* But not this stuff.

    Right now I have three lights rigged to the front of the camera. This movie is supposed to be entirely the camera inside the robot and security cameras. I'm not really shooting the whole thing that way. But I am shooting the movie much more "flat" than I usually do (see the above image). That may very well take to color correction better. We'll see.

    *I may be wrong about that.

    Wednesday, October 23, 2013


    SCUBA, up in here Northeastern parts of the US, is a seasonal activity. We are no entering the cold dark Winter months where wetsuits cannot be used and all the hard-core divers go southward to dive.
    In order for me to dive up 'round here over the next few months I would need to get dry suit certified. And that's just not gonna happen because I just missed the last dry suit course at my local dive shop (LDS).

    Even if I'd had scads of extra cash to take the course I had another problem -- my recently discovered allergy to Neoprene. And that needs to get fixed before learning to use a dry suit, but the open water part of learning a dry suit has a wintertime window which is closing rapidly. The quarry at Dutch Springs goes on very limited time and then closes for much of the Winter.
    So my only option to actually go diving (that I know of) is some Jersey charters which dive wrecks out in the Atlantic. These dives go upward of 100' salt water and it ain't warm there. And if I'm not dry-suit certified then I can't go on them.
    So uh. I'm kinda "grounded" (heh) for the winter. 
    It seems that if I wear an underlayer of a spandex - type stuff that I can wear Neoprene over it. I'll have to keep testing it.

    Saturday, October 19, 2013

    Scuba dooba doo

    So. I'm definitely allergic to Neoprene. Bleh.
    I have a horrible rash from my hood. I only wore it for a few minutes yesterday, but it totally verbonked me.
    I wore regular cotton socks beneath my booties and that maybe sort of worked though. But really in the long-term I think I'm going to have to get Thermocline stuff to keep my skin away from the Neoprene.
    There are vastly worse things in the world than an allergy to Neoprene. And facing reality I'll need a drysuit in order to dive in the Northeast anyway. I'll still need a Thermocline hood, but that's a reasonably-priced thing to get.

    I cannot fathom (heh) why so much SCUBA stuff is black. I mean, the reason is because divers think it looks cool. It is way not safe. I seriously want a bright yellow diamond-pattern drysuit like a harlequin. I'll probably just end up with a Coast Guard rescue swimmer - type suit though. That will be in the future, when I have some large amount of cash.
    That time is coming, right?
    This is a pdf to an instruction manual on the Frenzel Technique which is, as far as I can understand, a simply insane means to equalize the pressure in your ears.

    Friday, October 18, 2013


    Scuba calculators. Because, you know, scuba calculators.

    Diveboard is a thing. Like Scuba Earth is a thing. For logging dives online.
    Subsurface is an open-source multi-platform scuba logging application.

    Wednesday, October 09, 2013

    Thermocline. No. The OTHER kind. Of Thermocline.

    I'm afraid I might be slightly allergic to neoprene.
    Neoprene is basically what SCUBA is made of.
    Apparently neoprene allergies are actually allergies to all the other crap in the neoprene used in the manufacturing. I think I have a neoprene allergy because of a rash on my feet where the neoprene booties I have rub on them. The rash disappears right where the booties stop.
    Clearly I haven't had much trouble from wetsuits, but I don't wear them 3 or 4 times a week like I do my booties.

    Answers to this problem include:
    Thermocline fin socks to wear inside my booties.
    Fourth Element makes Thermocline wetsuits and such too. Interestingly the Thermocline stuff doesn't compress at depth the way neoprene does. That's very interesting if you have trouble with bouyancy. ;-)
    I'd love to get one of their Thermocline jackets to swim with in the pool.

    Sunday, October 06, 2013

    Fat Val Kilmer

    They: You know who you look like? 
    We: Me?
    They: Pete Holmes
    We: Who's that?
    They: He says he's the "fat Val Kilmer." 
    We: So you're calling me fat.

    This was the only picture I could find of him which looked much like me though.
    Me. For reference.
    Val Kilmer, not looking like me, but not looking super-duper thin either.


    Apollo Bio Fins. Fins. For swimming.
    The Battery is a zombie indy.

    This, That, The Other Thing

    Anti-e-cig rebuttals.

    A deeply wack 1968 comic-book style manual for the Army's M16. It is shockingly racist. I mean, like WWII racist.

    If you can't fathom how NPR could possibly get more smug, just check out their story on literary fiction. You know, as opposed to "books you actually want to read."

    Force Fins. Funny-looking fins. Expensive. Supposed to be very nice though.

    Saturday, October 05, 2013

    Outliving us

    Today I saw a private screening of They Will Outlive Us All. It's an impressive indy picture and a horror comedy. Those are two things I just can't do.
    It's a really well written movie and really, Nat Cassidy is almost naked for a substantial portion of the movie. And Jessi Gotti is totally a movie star.
    There's really only one other horror zombie comedy from the "real indy" world of low-budget filmmaking that's any good. And that's Chance Shirley's Hide and Creep.

    They did a stunning job on the audio post on They Will Outlive Us All. I was filled with envy. I mean I'm supposed to be the guy who can do that. I can't. They totally can. Dialog edit was fantastic.

    I think there were three sets. And one zombie bug puppet. It was amazing.

    They Will Outlive Us All is to Evil Dead II what Hide and Creep is to Dr. Strangelove.

    Friday, October 04, 2013


    Apparently I've already annoyed all my friends talking about how awesome SCUBA is.
    SCUBA is awesome. Now when I tell a friend how awesome SCUBA is they say "Hey, I heard you can breathe underwater" to me.
    But, Dude, I say, you can breathe underwater.

    Seriously that's the most amazing thing.
    So far I've only done like 9 dives and they've all been at Dutch Springs, a quarry in Pennsylvania. And I know that a lot of the old hat divers are all like "you have to go to Belize" or whatever -- but I just don't care. I will dive in your swimming pool. I would dive in a bathtub if it's big enough. Seeing groovy fish is cool but so is being in a very silty environment. I love seeing the beams of light coming up off of other divers when it's so dark and silted up you can't see more than a few feet away.
    Right up at the very beginning of SCUBA training (with PADI) I had the option of going with the Imperial or Metric units of measurement. Normally I'd simply default to Metric because calculations are typically easier.
    But the way they teach safe ascents is that you should ascend at 1 foot per second or one meter in four seconds.
    I decided that since the ascent rate was one of the most important numbers I'd have to keep a hold of in my mind during a potentially stressful situation. So therefore I'd do one foot a second. So I'm using Imperial for everything.
    Incidentally, my computer prefers one foot every two seconds (a meter every 8 seconds) as the ascent rate. Still that's either 18 meters per minute or 9 meters per minute, versus 60 feet per minute or 30 feet per minute. The Imperial is just easier to count. 
    And yeah, I know the numbers don't work out. That's just the standards they use so at least they come out to even numbers of feet or meters.
    So that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Until we finally alter our time system so it is decimal or we alter our numbering system so it is dozenal or duodecimal. Because I'm totally down with that.


    Any math errors I may have made above I totally reserve the right to correct and then pretend they were never there in the first place.

    Thursday, October 03, 2013

    Computer Badge

    I dunno. Should I get a super-powerful laptop computer so I can do 3D rendering at home?
    I just don't know things. I've been spending a lot of time out at my parents recently and having a computer that can directly handle some of that 3D work could be really helpful.
    MacBook Pro -- although it would allow me to edit in Final Cut Pro -- is $2500. Good grief. Well, the $2500 one is actually fairly fancy-pants. There are cheaper ones.
    Sigh. It's actually the dang video card which makes all the difference, isn't it?

    Apparently many NYC police officers wear fake badges. I want a fake badge too, something very Warhammer-y though. For our next movie. You can design a custom badge here.

    Wednesday, October 02, 2013


    You might think you don't need a $15 pair of nail clippers. But let me tell you. You do. You so do.

    Totally worth it.
    Fun fact: in New York State pharmacists cannot give you a tetanus vaccination. But in New Jersey they can.
    I was thinking this might be fashion in the future. You know. How I think things.

    I don't know much about biomechanics, Roy, I wish I did.

    Saturday, September 28, 2013

    Bite Celtx Mouse

    Makeup FX: bite marks.

    You know what I wish Celtx would do?
    • Merge characters (because you frequently get "duplicates" of characters, some of whom show up in some scenes and not others)
    • Print a day's sides based on the schedule (because, you know, that would make life easier).
    Right now we are in fact using Celtx to schedule feature films. I'm sure we're the only ones out there doing that. We scheduled our last movie (and I think we didn't miss any scenes) and we're scheduling our next picture too. We. Shall. See.

    New York Sea Gypsies, not the world's most politically-correct name for a dive organization, do dives through the winter off of New Jersey.

    Are you aware that the Tyrannosaurus Mouse album is out now? You'll be able to buy it on Amazon.

    Wait, no. You can buy it on Amazon now.

    Sunday, September 22, 2013

    Advanced Open Water

    So I passed my Advanced Open Water today. The Advanced class is actually much more fun than the regular Open Water because you don't have to do the hard stressful stuff like taking off your mask. You just work on your buoyancy and compass skills basically. And you get to swim around.
    Here's my dive profile for my "wreck" dive. This is not a pride-inducing profile. I actually ran low on air and had to ascend and do my safety stop with my buddy. I got down to 100lbs of pressure and had to breathe off her spare regulator during the safety stop. Plus, you notice, those last three minutes are not exactly the most, er, buoyancy - controlled safety stops. I was up and down all over the place (breathing off my buddy's regulator).
    Those upward-pointing arrows are where my "ascent warnings" chirped at me from my computer. That means I was going too fast and needed to slow down. The exclamation point at the beginning of the dive is a "ceiling error" and I'll just tell ya, I don't know what that is. I should find out.

    Saturday, September 21, 2013

    Advanced Open Water Day 1

    We actually had a student go to the hospital. He popped up in the water and did the distress wave and shouted. Everyone was afraid he got decompression sickness because the story was he was feeling sick and couldn't breathe and bolted up to the surface from 70 feet. However there was a doctor at the hospital (so I heard later) who was a DAN doctor and who said that the student was not suffering from any decompression injuries. So apparently he really did just get sick. Maybe he swallowed air? I wasn't in the water when it happened. And oddly there was a Rescue Diver course being taught about 100' from where he came up. So we (sitting at a picnic table some several hundred yards away) just presumed he was part of the course when he signaled his distress.
    But they sure got to him quickly.
    I lost my cheap dive knife. It popped off my BCD. Maybe I'll find it tomorrow. At least it got used a few times before it jumped into the deep.
    I totally lost my dive buddy on one dive. At the same place I'd lost my buddy on my last Open Water dive. Seriously, that boat is cursed.

    Anyway, we're descending to the sunken boat. I'm being good and looking behind me and giving the big "okay" sign. We get to the boat wreck and... he's just gone. I go up to the instructor. I make the "buddy" signal with my two index fingers and then a "duh, I dunno" shrug. We looked up, we looked down. We looked everywhere. No luck.
    So I figure I'll at least do the exercise I'm supposed to do at the sunken ship. I'm supposed to measure the length using kick cycles and figure out how tall the boat is by using my depth gauge down at the keel level and then all the way at the top. When I get down on the bottom I see something... a brand-new weight pocket. I pick it up. It's got a weight in it.
    So I bring the pocket up to the deck of the wrecked boat and show it to the instructor (we're still at about 60' depth here). I figure that we should probably just leave it on the deck of the sunken boat and whomever lost it would find it.
    You'll note that I'm not putting 2 and 2 together here.
    The instructor and I do a little search for my dive buddy. We even look inside the wrecked ship (without entering into it). My instructor isn't terribly concerned. We give up the search. Instead we swim around and I just sort of follow him and another pair of divers and we look at some fish.
    So. Who owns a new BCD and has barely ever used it? That would be my dive buddy. Whose weights were not secured properly? I'll let you guess that one. Whose weights fell out and he bobbed up to the surface, unable to descend again?
    The water at the quarry is mighty murky. At least it tastes good. But yeah, you can't see a diver on the surface if you're down sixty feet. You can sorta see the sunlight.

    Friday, September 20, 2013

    The Great Way

    I loved Harry Connoliy's 20 Palaces. I tried to get him to give me his first novel to make a movie out of (he said no.) Here's a Kickstarter for his new book:

    Thursday, September 19, 2013

    What I Want

    Lady Gaga's assistant does all this:

    • cleaning up after her,
    • making sure her hair looked right before she went on stage, she drank water and had tea, ate and received "special food" at every concert location, and was hopefully on time to places, such as concert venues,
    • handing Stefani's email and phone communications, luggage -- generally twenty bags -- clothes, accessories, makeup, and toiletries as the tours proceeded
    • having ice packs, tea, and a shower ready at each concert venue,
    • addressing Stefani's needs throughout the night (such as when Stefani would get tired of watching a DVD, she would wake up Ms. O'Neill to change it)
    • and just being there for her.
     I just want that. I'll even pay overtime.

    Learning the PADI Way

    I'm in the middle of getting my "Advanced Open Water" certification from PADI. We did the pool work yesterday and we're going out to the quarry at Dutch Springs, PA this coming weekend.
    As anyone will tell you, there's nothing "advanced" about the AOW certification. It's really the "Open Water II" class and is designed to be taken immediately after taking the regular Open Water class.
    I can see why they do it that way though -- they want to get divers certified and not killing themselves as soon and as inexpensively as they can. So with the Open Water class they get you through three or four nights in a pool, six chapters in a book with a test at the end, and four dives in "open water".
    With the open water certification you can get your dive tanks filled. You're not super-duper dangerous. You aren't supposed to go below 60 feet. But you are just barely a beginner.
    And you know this. Thing is, as far as I can tell, most everyone feels clumsy and not terribly competent after getting their Open Water certification. And one's first reaction to the notion of going on to the Advanced class (at least mine, and from a couple other people who voiced similarly) is "oh I'm not ready for Advanced, I need some practice first." And as much as the instructors tell you "You can go right from Open Water to Advanced Open Water the next weekend" it's hard to believe. But it's totally true.

    With the "Advanced Open Water" you start out just a bit more comfortable in the water. They're big on working your buoyancy (that's one of those words I can't ever spell on the first try) and compass skills. And you get to spend more time underwater with an instructor, which is always a good thing. For instance, my instructor said that I was a good candidate for ankle weights: so yesterday I went out and got a pair of them. They're 3.9 pounds of weights and they strap around my ankles (as you would expect ankle weights to do).
    And snorkeling around the 5' deep pool at my parents' retirement place indicates that yeah, ankle weights work great for me. It's harder to move my legs -- but that's because my fins spend more time underwater. So ironically more weight = I go faster.
    My goal is to go on through the Rescue Diver course. With the Open Water and Advanced Open Water I'm at less of a risk of killing myself. But with the additional training in Rescue I figure I at least won't be the problem in the water and may help from other people killing themselves.
    I'm surprised at how useful a compass is underwater. The courses PADI teaches really makes an effort to introduce you to the compass and get you used to working with one. They start you off in the regular Open Water but they make you use 'em a lot in the Advanced.


    Wednesday, September 18, 2013

    You Gotta Carry That Weight

    Pies in Washington DC. Dangerously Delicious pies.
    Red Cross first aid and CPR classes.
    The answer is 34 pounds.
    The question you've all been asking yourselves is: how much weight does Drew need with a 7mm full wetsuit with hood and gloves.
    34 pounds.
    And, probably, ankle weights. With those 34 pounds.
    Just wait 'till I get a dry suit. Then we'll really see how much weight I need.

    Friday, September 13, 2013

    Pleasure for the Imperial

    Page 85 of PADI's Adventures in Diving Manual, which is the PADI "Advanced" diver manual, has a pretty egregious typographical error.
    The column heading on an "Imperial" chart is in meters. Now, through careful observation and calculation one might understand that the numbers in that column must indicate feet. But really, this is a space-shuttle crashing bad typographical error. And the book has been out since 2010. You'd think they'd hand out an errata sheet with it.
    I like diving with Imperial units. There's exactly one substantial reason to like Imperial rather than Metric. That is: the safe ascent rate in SCUBA is one foot a second. Nice and easy. 1'/sec. With Metric it's like 3 meters/10 seconds or some such thing. I don't care. It's dumb and there's no way to just think it rather than looking at your dive computer. One foot per second is the speed I need to know. I prefer to work entirely in Imperial because of it.
    Yeah, I wouldn't care if the pressure in the tank were in cubic litres or whatever. But depth is gonna be in feet baby. There. I said it. So be it.

    Weird Celestial Depths

    This is today's weirdest thing on the Internet. Rolling High: Attacks of Opportunity. I have no idea.

    I need to learn celestial navigation, don't I?

    My new Suunto Vyper doesn't even register my swims in my parents' 5' deep pool.

    Tuesday, September 10, 2013

    Things and Stuff

    There are housings and hardware to turn your smartphone into a dive computer.

    The iGills works with the iPhone 3 and 4. It's $329 (plus, your iPhone).
    The DivePhone is an Android/iPhone app and hardware. It's more expensive at somewhere up to $500.
    I just wish the Garmin 401 were more waterproof than 1 meter. I'm thinking maybe with a drybag? Of course what I really need is this full-face mask with regulator, LED lights, and radio.