Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Big Bucks

I just spent $720 on new glasses.
Why would you spend so much on glasses?
I know, they're just my eyes, right? I mean what do I use them for?
I got my glasses for 99 cents at a hardware store under a mulch pit.
Bully for you.
And you'll probably only have that same prescription for, like, two years.
The lenses were about $400.
So that's, like, $16 a month just to have fancy-pants progressive lenses.
Yes.
And then the frames will just get broken.
I've had the frames to my reading glasses for 7 years now.
I guess you're really proud of yourself.
I am.
Why don't you use the same frames for your new glasses?
I thought of that, but I wanted somewhat bigger lenses and those frames wouldn't handle progressives anyway.

Monday, March 25, 2013

An editor should have picked this up

Okay Lee Child, I'll give you "trolly" for "shopping cart" because the POV character was Reacher and maybe he didn't know it's called a "shopping cart" in America.
But "screen wash"? That's where I draw the line.
The thin blue line of the Atlantic which stands between US and anarchy.
It's "windshield wiper fluid". And it's "America". With a capital US of freakin' A.

Cat Tweet Old

Cat Map of the world. Because, you know, cat maps.

Okay. So. Social media and movie-making. In my shop we really enjoy making fun of indy-movie producers who scold their cast and crews for taking pictures of one another and putting them up on Facebook.
Juicer Michael Taylor talks about the week when the signs at the studio stopped saying "We've always been at war with Eastasia" "no blogging/no tweeting" to "this is how you tweet".

There are 19,214 users in the queue ahead of me, importing feeds at The Old Reader. I suspect this isn't going to work out well. Especially as I was at about 24,000 three days ago...

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Your things for today

I wish I could do nice big smooth dolly moves.
I think this last Borne movie has a really fine script with really fine acting. I do wish that the movie had a better sense of geography although I fear that's actually Greenglass' influence, even if he had nothing to do with this picture.
The Tea Party boycotts Fox News. The irony is spectacular.
The Internet is weird sometimes. Yes, that's the German version of Earthkiller. I have no idea. I guess it's proof that whomever "Swagger HD" is actually had the Blu-ray disc before uploading it to torrent sites.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

B 4

So having just seen The Bourne Legacy, which is basically Bourne IV, I have to say that yup, it's a pretty good movie. The dude who directed it (and wrote it) also wrote the second Bourne movie (which I think is the best of the series). Bourne IV, to me, comes in second place.
One thing that's interesting about it is that for a big-budget Hollywood major studio release, it does some very art-housey things. Like they're so not afraid to not tell you stuff. For a long freaking time. I mean they're willing to make you sit and wait until they're ready to reveal what's going on. I kind of appreciated that.
The picture kind of ends at the bottom of the fourth act as far as I can tell. That, too, is unusual. Typically a movie will do three acts or five.
The movie also really looks like they thought it through and made it (relatively) cheaply. I mean, Pakistan is a few close-up shots of a dusty cafe. Kazakhstan (or wherever) is essentially the back of a truck. And because that sort of closeup handheld work is the style of the picture, set from the very first scene, it totally works.
S
P
O
I
L
E
R
S
(Don't say I didn't warn you.)

So two neat things about this movie are that 1. there's no love scene even though we came right to that place where in most movies there would be (even if it's a bit forced because love scenes are at the worst part of the character's journey and seriously, who gets jiggity when they're feeling that low?) and 2. this "Bourne's" motivation for getting his meds: he was 12 IQ points too low to join the freaking Army before the program, and so the pills make him smart. Man, that is some motivation. Brilliant.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Rouge

Moi. Et rouge.

The People Have Spoken

The poll (below) is closed. And we have a winner.
Note that nobody voted for "brownish".

Indeed. Winning.
And hopefully the closing of the poll will result in the color of this blog to return to normal.

ICBINS, iDrive, Insurrection

Julia Rae Maldonado's theater company, ICBINS, has an open submission for their reading series. Submit! (And note there's no fee.)
  • With iDrive, if you have the situation that happened to us where an external drive dies and you get a new drive and name it the same as the old drive, you can restore to that drive and iDrive will pretend it's the same external drive as it was backing up before. So you get to keep incremental backups rather than re-backing-up the whole thing. This saves much time and hassle. 
  • We use Neoscene. It had stopped working so I downloaded the latest version of Neoscene. I had trouble with interlace-y jaggy edges. I read the directions. Turns out that shutting off the by-default-checked "filter 420 to 422" box should be unchecked for us.

The Queen of Mars in Android Insurrection. Well, the character she played was much more grim than this. But you get the idea.

Groove To

Anthony Litton is interviewed here. And yes, the airlock he's thrown out of is in our Earthkiller/Total Retribution movie.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Vote

What happened to the nicely calibrated colors on my blog? No really.
I'm going to go ahead and suspect it's the java code in the poll below.

So vote. Then I can replace that Java code with a picture of the poll instead.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Things What Was and Will Be

You know, what with Google shutting down Reader I become more afeared of letting Google run so much of my life. Right now documents, email, and these blogs are all on Google products. If they shut them down it would really suck trying to get them going again on different services.

But that's not what's important. No, of course not. What's important is this poll.

That's right. Vote. Like a baby stoat. What color should my hair be for the next movie? This is probably the most important vote you will cast in your entire life. Unless you live in the United States, where the most important vote you'll get is for county comptroller.
Click through to the blog (if you see this in a reader like the ill-fated Google Reader, or if you're reading from an email). Then vote.
Ha! It's set up so that only one vote per computer/IP address is valid. That doesn't mean you can't go to another computer or another network though. ;-)
UPDATE: poll closed. The People have spoken.

You Mewling Quim

I have never been into superhero movies. I didn't like superhero comic books when I was little. I don't like comic books at all now. (I find them unreadable, I can never figure out who is hitting who in them.)
Costumed superheros are just... silly.
I mean you have to figure out a way around the costumed-ness. 
I finally watched the Watchmen movie. I know. Too little too late. I'd... tried to read the comic book. I just couldn't. The movie, to me, was just a bunch of cool sequences about characters I was pretty much uninterested in. I mean, if maybe we could have tracked Rorschach's evolution and then had the fun and games section begin when he went to prison and then... whatever. It would have been... maybe? I don't know.
With trepidation I watched the Avengers movie.

The Avengers is a completely different ball of rabbits. Lordy-lo the characters are better written. The whole thing is really good. I mean, with The Watchmen I get it. The logical conclusion of costumed superheroes. The logical conclusion of "superman" (Doctor Manhattan).
But the Avengers is actually an enjoyable movie.
Yeah I know that
  1. I'm late to the party
  2. My geek-cred is completely shot by these admissions
 It's hard to be me. Very, very hard. Hey! Look over there! [Scooches out of the room...]


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pie Reading

From Sky, how to make a vegan no-bake chocolate peanut butter pie:
Get your self a pre-made pie crust or bake your own. graham cracker crusts work well, but use whatever you like. I  use whole wheat. in any case make sure it is baked off, cool, and ready to be filled.
For the filling:
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
1 package (12.3oz) of silken firm tofu
1 and 1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup vanilla soy or almond milk (apparently other, er, milks, can be substituted)
Mix it all together in a blender, pour it into the pie crust, and refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.
Blogger being able to handle animated .gifs is a new thing, isn't it?
Google Reader is going away. Here's a list of possible replacements.
The Old Reader.
Another list.
Netvibes.



Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A New Level of Dorkitude

The Caldwell E-Max low-profile hearing protection. They're twenty-five bucks. Which means they're cheap.


Pros: fit well. Seems to actually work. Does not look as fantastically dorky as one might expect.
I was surprised at some of the sounds which kicked above the 85dB threshold. A very squeaky metal door slamming, dude dropping his bicycle chain on the ground while I walked by. 

Cons: audio is band-limited. Outside traffic sounds like it's on the telephone. One's own voice still sounds muffled (like you're wearing headphones) unless you turn it up pretty loud. The overload protection is "all or nothing" so loud noises just cut off.
The stereo-ness of them is not quite as awesome as I'd hoped. I was figuring they'd be more binaural and the directivity of sounds would be better than I feel they are with these.
I wish they cut off at about 80dB. This would probably not be something which would be that useful out on the range or whatever, but in the subway it would be nicer. I wish I knew were unity-gain was on the volume knob.
Also, I wish they would function non-linearly. A compressor would work more and more until shut-off, keeping volumes similar. That might be awful for other people though.

Neither Pro nor Con: Lastly, they're warm. This is to be expected with over-ear headphones. And if you're out in the cold it's a good thing -- they're warmer than earmuffs. But it ain't been cold enough in New York for the last couple seasons to justify how warm they are. 

Last Con: Red LED on side is frequently used by androids to target biologics in the field. So be careful out there if you know there are synthetics in the area.

So my conclusion is that they do work but I'm not so sure of how much I'd wear them as opposed to regular passive earplugs. If I were shooting a firearm they'd be great. 

Pater Noster

My father actually wrote this in an email:

Back in my day a pack of cigarettes was 20 cents. In fact, soda fountains and such, where teenagers hung out, would open a pack of cigarettes and sell them one at a time – a penny each. 
I well remember the price of many things because during the war (the big war that is) the Gov. instituted price control so as to avoid inflation (administered by the OPA) and merchants were not allowed to raise prices for several years. 
Gasoline was $.18 gallon.  I worked in a meat market. Hamburger was $.25 a pound, sirloin steak $.38 and round steak $.40.  I can’t remember the exact price but I’m sure my father bought a new, 1941 Ford sedan for under $1,000.  This is just to let you know why I now get sticker shock every time I go into any store. 
Incidentally, my pay at Kroger’s was $.30 an hour (some stores paid only $.25). On Saturday the store hours were 8 – 8 but I had to be in at 7AMto get prepared and then clean up after closing took until about 10:30 PM. The real kicker was that I got paid ONLY for the hours the store was open.

Image via.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Dragon Moon

This book Dragon Badge by Scott Moon is a hot mess. With an emphasis on hot.

This guy can write. You might not know it from reading the bit on the back cover of the book because the plot description seems tawdry. But seriously, Scott Moon is fantastic.

I know that people only write stuff they feel passionate about so I've blown off writing any book reports on a number of books I've read recently and didn't care about. But this book is both brilliant and almost completely structure free. I'm going to make the supposition that Scott Moon is such a good writer that it actually becomes a fault.
He's too good a writer for his own good.
Every page of Dragon Badge is immensely compelling. Reading it you're all like "Yeah! I love this character! What's going to happen next??!!" And then four pages later you're following another character. You still have the same reaction to the new awesome character, but eventually you'll think "Wait, what happened to that character three characters ago?"
Another brilliant and strange thing about this book is that it's a supernatural fantasy with very realistic police drama, racial politics, and social tension.
I mean it's really well written. So when the inciting incident doesn't happen until page 208 you're not frustrated in any way, you're just like "Oh, okay then."
I mean seriously. This is one of the best cop novels I've ever seen.
And, you know, the slug line for it might be particularly awesome. A beat cop has to team up with the thug who killed his partner in order to defeat a sorcerer.  Cops having to team up with criminals is cool, cops who have to team up with a cop killer is a freaking awesome idea.
And there are awesome moments and details. We do switch around the POV character quite a bit and for a while we follow the thug dude, Klinton. And if I haven't mentioned it, it's pretty brilliant.
See? This would make a great TV series. This is what we should be doing.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Crowds, Sounds, and Jobs

Alex Epstein on crowdfunding. Spoiler alert: he thinks its a waste of time.
Plus you can tell from her right hand that she's an alien.

Here's a nice little interview with a production sound mixer. You're not going to learn any fabulous secrets. But it's nice anyway.
SoundWorks Collection: Production Sound Mixer Nicholas Allen from Michael Coleman on Vimeo.

Today's main job seems to be getting other people to get back to me. Sheesh.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Ditheratory

What I need in my life is a full-time person to write essays and reports and books. It would also be nice if they could keep websites current. I need a way to pay this person. Sigh.

Other notes.
Roy Batty has to be someone else. And instead of Blade Runners, we have Sandmen.
Plissken is looking for a guy who is a model of himself.
The war isn't off-world. Let's put it in South America. The colonels that were killed will be British.
The comments on this Glenn Greenwald piece seem to be better thought out than the piece itself.
We need a single octagonal set.

I'm being dithery. This clear facemask looks very cool. Will it reflect the camera?
 
The mask will need some sort of balaclava. And we'd probably need to put a radio inside.
I don't know if the balaclava will make keeping a radio headset on easier or harder.
 

The other major item I'm dithering over is a long gun. I'm interested in a C02-operated .68 caliber paintball gun. And really, if I had my druthers, I'd have water-filled paintballs. For some reason those are really hard to come by.
And for the members of my family complaining about parody and fair use: Suntrust v. Houghton

What is Mine and what is Elsewise

A friend asked me recently how much of Six Easy Days is from Mark Owen's No Easy Day



Which part of this is "yours" and which part is from No Easy Day?
Well, I feel you can sort of tell when it goes into my own voice. Paragraph-to-paragraph it's mostly the structure of the original book. But all (or most) of the sci-fi things have been made sci-fi-ish. So guns, details about his armor, the existence of androids, those sorts of things I just made up.
Obviously the android stuff is new. But what about the story? Is the way the story unfolds from being on the way to the Xenomorph AI's compound and then going back and describing other missions the way it worked in No Easy Day?
By and large, yes. The structure of No Easy Day is very very good. 

There are two major bits of story that I altered. Well, three actually. One is the story of the search for an Army soldier who was captured and still hasn't been found. I felt uncomfortable about making a parody story about that so I made it about a Skinny General who'd defected instead.
The other thing is finding the Brain Bug. In Owen's story the whole point to that mission was that they did a hard mission but were successful and they had no casualties. Instead, I made that mission have a whole impact on the rest of the War.
The third major thing I altered was the way the "helicopter" (which is actually a drop boat in my story) crashes. I give a reason for it. Plus I make the narrator more of a hero by having him figure out how to save the mission.

Owen's parents were missionaries, but obviously not for the Machine God. Obama is now Atredes and Washington is Beijing. The "Skinnys" and the "Bugs" (or Pseudo-Arachnids) are from Starship Troopers. Of course I had to be snotty and make it so that although we're fighting the "Skinnys" we'd been concentrating on the males rather than the females and the narrator is deliberately and spectacularly unreliable.

I do make fun of Owen's complaining about paperwork and treatment of prisoners and "Governor Atredes". Also, I cut out the very ending of the book because it wasn't interesting. Obviously Owen does not have a chip in his brain which helps him control combat armor. And Usama bin Laden was not a Xenomorph Artificial Intelligence. As far as you know.
So, why on earth did you do this?
I thought it was funny. When I was reading the book I thought "This would be even better if they were wearing servo-powered armor and were hunting the Xenomorph AI."
You wrote/re-wrote/heavily edited a book just because it amused you?
You got it. I read No Easy Day and thought that the story was so cool it needed to be retold in space.
Other than Starship Troopers, what else do you reference?
Man, there's a lot of stuff. Very briefly there's The Forever War (the bit about the blades inside your armor cutting off limbs and sealing you in, also the notion that there's heat-venting at the back of the suits). Also the notion of the HUD and the chip in the brain is a cross between Old Man's War and the Jeff Somers Avery Cates novels.
What about the Machine God?
There's a Machine God in the Warhammer 40,000 novels. But I think I was thinking more about the God-Emperor in the Dune universe. I can't think of a direct analog of it. 
How much of your inspiration came from Owen's anti-Obama stance? 
Well. A lot actually. It made me think about how unreliable narrators are. And I wanted to see the logical conclusion of Owen's ideology. I thought that it was interesting that although Owen is so clearly (I mean, he says so) anti-Obama yet every single successful mission he talked about occurred after Obama became President. I thought that was interesting. So the "parody" part of the book is mostly about that.