Monday, March 30, 2009

About that photo up there...

Bob Crais recently asked about the origin of the photo at the top of the blog. It's a digital photo Audry took last September of my family's summer house on Cape Cod. (Here is is again: click for a full-size version.)

Here is a 1965 photo of the house I found online. The window directly under the TV antenna is the reflective window on the right side of Audry's shot.


Oh, and that bicycle? That's MY old Sear's bike! Weird thing to come across on the internet, a photo of your old bike!

The house was designed by the famous Bauhaus architect Marcel Breuer. Brueur designed the Whitney Museum and many other buildings, but he's probably most famous for his "Wassily" and "Cesca" chairs:



Click here for more about the house.
And here's another photo Audry took of the back of the main house:

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Randomness.

Observation on re-reading the short stories of J.D. Salinger and H.P. Lovecraft: Is it odd that I find Lovecraft's world more familiar and comfortable than Salinger's?

Weird and disturbing:


Ah, the old familiar haunts!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Wheat is murder!

Since I'm apparently feeling very cynical today, did you know that agriculture kills millions of animals annually through the preparation of land for farming and the harvesting of crops? Mainly mice, moles, gophers, and the like, not "higher" (well, taller) animals like cows and sheep. But the next time you sit down for a healthy, animal-free bowl of granola, do remember that a family of cute l'il bunnies probably gave up their habitat for the farm that grew the oats, and a mouse stands very little chance against a thresher (ouch!).

Not that I have anything against vegetarianism, just moral smugness.

How much damage can we do in an hour?

From Reuters: Lights went out at Sydney's Opera House and Harbour Bridge on Saturday for Earth Hour 2009, a global event in which landmarks and homes go dark for an hour to highlight the threat from climate change. In Asia, lights at landmarks in China, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines also dimmed as people celebrated with candle-lit picnics and concerts.

"It's been a great success," Carine Seror, Singapore Earth Hour campaign manager for global environment group WWF, told Reuters.

Of course, burning a candle produces about 17 times more carbon emissions than burning a 60-watt lightbulb, but what the hey -- it's all about spreading the word, right?

(Actually, sometimes I think it's all about trying to overcome feelings of powerlessness by getting mobs of people to obey your suggestions, but of course I'm a cynic.)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Best Line from Tonight's "30 Rock"

Dennis Duffey (Liz's sleazeball ex-boyfriend):

"I was recently self-diagnosed as a sex addict."

Tweets from Audry

So Audry, who is up in San Francisco at the Game Developers' Conference, has been keeping in touch with me via Twitter. (That's a link to her feed, if by some bizarre happenstance you're interested.) Anyway, apparently she hasn't had to pay for a meal -- or even open a door for herself -- since she got there. This is what being blonde and cute does for you. Some recent Tweets:

#gdc reclining luxuriously on bean bag. show floor is next!


#gdc saw skin tight booth babe felt blonde fu weaken

#gdc great meeting @ mochi about tkng over world mwa ha ha

#gdc iron man game looks good as movie

#gdc left show floor feel blonde fu returning


Clearly she's deep inside what they call "The Bubble" on 30 Rock.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Nintendo: The Early Years

They started in a Frank Lloyd Wright building, apparently.

So much for Sudoku

Seems that James Crook, a professor in South Carolina, has come up with an algorhythm that solves any Sudoku puzzle, and he's going to publish it tomorrow. Fans of Sudoku are, needless to say, demanding his head on a pike. Crook himself dismisses Sudoku as "a trivial puzzle" and refuses to discuss the matter.

It should be noted that Crook's pen-and-paper algorhythm takes about an hour to solve a puzzle, while good Sudoku players can usually solve a puzzle in twenty minutes.

There's a message there, somewhere.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Nice wheels! Er, wings -- er, whatever.

Why does this car look so goofy?

Because it flies!

Look for clogged skies and debris falling everywhere if this thing catches on. Still, George Jetson would be proud. Here's hoping it makes record time to Spacely Space Sprockets!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

OMFG! It's all about sext!

Look, I like some good 8 as much as the next 1337, and I don't deny IWSN, but most sexting is just J/O. Uh oh. Got 2 go. MOS.

Click here to find out what the heck I'm talking about.

Monday, March 16, 2009

SYFY! WTF??


Nice little logo, huh? Futuristic, sleek, the image of a ringed planet gets the job done. So why am I showing it to you?

Well, the Sci Fi Channel decided their "brand" needed a little "refreshing." So they paid a bunch of geniuses at Landor Associates a few million dollars, and after months of labor, they came up with a brand-new name, and a brand new logo to go with it. Drumroll, please...




That's it?

That's it!?

You have got to be freakin' kidding me.

A name that sounds like a hedge fund, a butt-ugly logo that would look at home in Rhoda Morgenstern's apartment, and a syntactically suspect catchphrase that sounds like it was dreamed up by a copywriter for a Japanese game show, and the guys who paid for this piece of horse puckey are really proud of it. The president of the channel claims "The testing we’ve done has been incredibly positive."

Yeah, right. Congratulations, science fiction -- you finally have your own New Coke.

Of course, the real reason for this change has nothing to do with branding -- it's about the fact that the term "sci fi" cannot be trademarked, while the word "syfy" can because, you know, it's not really a word.

So drink deeply of SYFY! I would have renamed it the Speculative Fiction Channel, myself.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Is this where Stephen Moffat got it from?

Fans of the Doctor Who two-parter "Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead" will know what I'm talking about.

Seriously, "River Song" (by Beach Boy and Brian brother Dennis Wilson) is one of my favorite songs of all time -- it easily eclipses anything the Beach Boys did post-"Heroes & Villains," with great BB harmonies and an awe-insiring arrangement that washes over you with crescendo after crescendo. You can listen to it below. (And I bet it is where Moffat got the name from!)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Triumph of the Wit.

So that little piece on CNBC Jon Stewart did last week? It escalated...

And escalated...

And escalated...

Until it finally culminated last night in a full blown confrontation between Jon Stewart and CNBC's Jim Cramer...

...And Stewart handed Cramer his own ass on a silver platter in spades, three times over, with whipped cream on top, as The Daily Show once again demonstrated its news-cred by showing that dogged, impeccable research trumps headline-chasing hype any day of the week. You can watch it, complete and unedited, here.

The confrontation made headlines nationwide, and was even a point of discussion in today's White House press conference.

Couldn't happen to a nicer no-talent blowhard than Jim Cramer.

This is my desk.

(Click on images for full-size versions, if you must.)
Stare really hard at the above picture. Then get a knot in your stomach about all the bills you have to pay. Voila! Now you know what it's like to be me! (Don't thank me all at once.)

(Above) On the platform, L to R: Extremely tiny Godzilla; four "Soul of Bullmark" gashapon toys from Japan depicting Ultraman monsters; Star Trek communicator (with phaser behind it); Radio City Music Hall; "Wizard of Oz" ornament that talks, moves, and other obnoxious things. On the desktop, L to R: Red and blue Seagate drives (one has all the video I've shot in the past 10 years on it, the other has my complete music collection); another Ultraman monster; mini R/C K-9; a piece of asphalt from King Philip Road on Cape Cod; a white rock from Chagrin Falls, OH; sonic screwdriver; Italian blue glass doodad from the 1950's.

(Above) The left side of the desk is getting crowded, what with all the Doctor Who stuff, Galactus, a couple of Enterprises, Mechagodzilla, and giant flying turtle Gamera (the friend of children everywhere), etc.

(Above) Yeah, I'm re-reading Salinger. (I'll find a use for the orange hard drive someday.)

Davros sez: "You -- will -- work -- HARDER!!!"

Monday, March 9, 2009

Watching the Watchmen

I liked it. Far from perfect, but I liked it. I had two major complaints:

1) Dialogue intended to be read in speech-bubbles can be positively ripe when spoken aloud. This is one area in which the film's fidelity to the comic was a mistake. The thing needed a serious dialogue polish.

2) Except for Jackie Earl Haley and the "Grey's Anatomy" guy as the Comedian, the cast was awful. Even the good actors among them were mediocre, especially Mathew Goode as Ozymandias -- his line readings and diction were appalling. Seriously, Sophia Coppola was better in "Godfather III."

But that aside, the movie is brisk, ambitious, and has a lot of stuff you've never seen in a superhero film before. That's the beauty of going into a film with low expectations: sometimes you're pleasantly surprised.

By the way, I saw the film at the new theater in the Thousand Oaks mall, the Muvico 14, which has to be the worst name for a multiplex since the Regency Loud Obnoxious Teenagers 7. Bad name aside, for 21 bucks you can get huge "loveseats" in the balcony with free popcorn, almost-free drinks -- oh, and you can bring booze from the bar outside as well. Those questionable perks aside, it was by far the comfiest time I've ever had at the movies.

Meet GINA.

If the fabric was Kevlar, it 'd make a great Batmobile.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Whom Watches the Watchmen?

This was brought to my attention by Scott Sava.

What if there had been a "Watchmen" cartoon in the mid-80's, the era in which the story is set? It would look EXACTLY like this. Holy cow, this thing is practically a summery of my 1980's career, with references to the title sequences of TMNT, Jem, Transformers (or is it Turbo Teen?), and practically every other cartoon of the era.


Friday, March 6, 2009

Happy Queryfail Day!

My ever-delightful wife Audry (known to some of you as The Lovely Janet) has made a couple of posts about Queryfail Day, a day you probably didn't even know existed.

Here's her post
about the sort of inquiries we receive from would-be translators and proofreaders.

And here
she shares several literary agents' droll queryfail Tweets, and rags on Twitter in general.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Exterminated!

They found a Dalek in a swamp.



Here's the full scoop.

Go, Jon, Go!

I love Jon Stewart.

About a week ago, Rick Santelli, one of the resident loons on the CNBC financial news network, had a seizure on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in the form of a 4-minute screed against President Obama for his plan to help homeowners in danger of defaulting on their mortages. (Don't bother clicking the link; his rant is excepted in the clip below.) Santelli had agreed to appear on Stewart's Daily Show yesterday, but he and CNBC cancelled at the last minute. Jon Stewart's response was to publicly eviscerate Santelli and burn CNBC down to the floorboards in a superbly-researched piece that shows conclusively why the "fake news" Daily Show is in fact the best REAL news show on American television.

Don't watch if you don't have 8 minutes to spare, but if you do, be sure to stick around for Stewart's final punchline regarding Allen Stanford's Ponzi scheme: It's proof that brevity really is the soul of wit. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Off we go, then!

About 75% of my "day job" (running this here publishing company) is responding to emails. Seriously, I get on average 35 non-spam emails a day, from distributors, from printers, from licensors in Japan, and as a result my ability to keep up with emails from friends and family has really suffered. And since I am now stealing time to work on a novel, it's only going to get worse. There are already several unanswered emails that are nagging in the back of my mind, and at the rate things are going, some may never get answered. So it occurred to me, why not start a private blog as a way of keeping in touch with people?

Now I've always sort of detested the whole notion of blogs, and I have no desire to be part of the endless static of "the blogosphere." (Q: Why did they come up with the word "blogosphere?" A: Because the word "blog" wasn't ugly enough.) But the idea of a private blog as a way of staying in touch with friends and family, through posts and comments, has suddenly started to make sense to me.

So I hope you'll subscribe, I hope you'll read. I hope we'll chat often in the comments section, I hope we'll feel a little closer to one another, and I hope I'll be able to get my novel finished!