Thursday, December 6, 2018

Blonde Dream

I think it’s important for writers to write down their dreams. Here’s the latest, from the night of December 5th.

Brit Marling
photo by Gage Skidmore

I stood in a store with glass counters before it opened. The woman training me emphasized I was to be part of an elite team training others. Instead of clocking in at the start of shift, we would develop a unique signature. I developed mine as HOBBIT. She also said we would skip through lunch breaks to continue training. I wondered if this was legal. We would each carry around some large, bulky box that possibly had training materials.

Four more members of the elite team walked in, all female. The lead woman walking in was a slim blonde with long hair. She was about my height. She was smart and attractive, and I hoped to spend time with her. She had written her signature, Brit Marling, on her right cheek in cursive.
I wrote my signature, HOBBIT, on the front of my right shoulder. I saw that at such an awkward angle, the letters came out distorted.
For some reason, I hadn’t shaved in a few days. My whiskers had grown long in patches, sticking out in odd angles from my face. I hoped the women would not notice.
We were now sitting in a lecture hall, students at an elite school. I was sitting directly in front of the blonde, with my row a level down from hers. I hoped I could spend time with her. The lecturer was a typical bearded type with glasses. He was standing at an overhead projector and going forth on a Christian subject.
A fellow with fuzzy hair and beard interrupted. He said in a helpless voice, “I’m close to following the teachings of E. It’s similar to Amish. You know, it stays close to the earth.” He meant he was thinking of abandoning everything and joining some religious agrarian community.
The lecturer looked offended. He said, “You know E. is anti-semitic.” He immediately produced an overhead transparency which he put on the projector, showing E. with unkempt hair and beard, part of a protest. He clearly held up a protest sign with an anti-semitic slogan.
The fellow said, “I know” in a way that showed he didn’t change his helplessness or his thinking.
The lecturer went on to loudly denounce E.’s teaching. He ended by saying to the fellow something like “Grow up!” but not so pedantic. He added, “I don’t have time for this,” and went back to his lecture.
After the lecture was over, I walked across the street to do something. I returned to the incredibly large lobby. The blonde was standing there with three other women. I walked up to them, mainly interested in her. They quite naturally accepted me as part of their conversation.
We walked off together. The blonde was now much taller than I was and wearing a thick coat. It now seemed we were part of a medical school. She said, “We were discussing how we have a pinched nerve.”
I said, “You mean, how you have a pinched nerve.”
She smiled and said I was right. “It was left after a procedure I had.”
One of the other women had light brown hair. I stared at her face a few moments to get familiar with her features.
There were now just three of us walking. The blonde offered to introduce us to Donald Trump. I agreed.
We were now in a hotel, and we walked into a conference room. The three of us didn’t seem to be students. Donald Trump was on the other side of a long table. He was in a business suit, and he seemed to be a famous businessman, not president. He spoke in his fast, sales pitch style. He offered to adjust the blonde’s spine.
She lay face down on the table. She was no longer wearing her thick coat. She pulled up her top somewhat to reveal her lower back. I said, “I need to leave.”
She said, “Why?”
I gestured and said, “Bare skin.”
She didn’t get it and said I should stay.
Trump continued to speak in his sales pitch style. He said, “I will now adjust the T3 vertebra.”
[This was completely incorrect. The T3 vertebra is thoracic 3, in the mid back. He was about to adjust L5, in the lumbar region.]
Even though he was standing to the right of her, he somehow did a chiropractic kind of adjustment to her L5, shifting it from left to right.
The blonde got up and was immediately better. Now wearing her heavy coat again, she offered to pay him fifty dollars, getting the fifty dollar bill out of her pocket.
Trump produced an envelope. He said if she wanted to, she could give it to a favorite charity of his. He announced the registration number of the charity. He held the envelope so a closed-caption camera could see the number on the envelope. He obviously realized he could get in trouble for accepting a fee for a service he was unlicensed to perform, and for doing it in a hotel. 


Since this was my dream, I know the interpretation of it. I’ve redacted the names of the innocent, and the guilty. Have fun with any comments, but only the dreamer knows the interpretation.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Thanksgiving for Sarah Michelle Geller

Sarah Michelle Geller (most famous for her role as Buffy the Vampire Slayer) posted on Instagram, “I’m just going to pin these up all over my house as a reminder not to overeat on Thursday.”

I’ll let you guess which pictures she chose. Her Instagram.

Meanwhile, here’s a picture that’s free to use.

photo by David Shankbone 

Which brings me to my own parody of urban fantasy. Dee and her friend Hope are NOT grown-up versions of Buffy. They have their own personalities. In this scene, Dee had walked in on her friend Hope, who happened to be dressed up in a French maid’s outfit in anticipation of her husband coming home. After some laughter, Hope went off to change. The idea is to parody urban fantasy by showing things from a housewife’s viewpoint.


She heard Dee call her name. Hope grimaced at the maid’s hat in her reflection, noting the polyester didn’t keep its shape well. “It’s no bother. We French maids change all the time.” She wondered if vampires could really blank themselves from mirrors at will. No wonder the females don’t bother with makeup.
Still with the one earring in her hand, she began to work on the left one when she heard Dee’s muffled voice again. Something bad. And how had she missed the sound of a struggle on the sofa?
Hope kicked off the little black shoes. Her nylon-stockinged feet zigged and zagged on the carpet as she charged into the living room.
Two vampires. Stockings or no, she tackled the female vampire on top of her friend.
It was a klutz move, but it worked: She and her opponent both ended up on their backs. But the female vampire was on top of her, smelling like it had slept in some ditch alongside the freeway. “I just vacuumed, you stupid vamp!”
Dee was still on the sofa, and Hope got a glimpse of her friend turning into a whirlwind. Now free of the female vampire, Dee whipped a leg up over her shoulder and kicked the male vampire who was holding a sack over her—dead in the face.
“Hey, great soccer kick.”

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Star Trek Bohemian Rhapsody

No, you cannot go until you see the bottom of this post.

The movie Bohemian Rhapsody is out. But you haven’t truly experienced it until you hear it in the original William Shatner:

Scaramouch! Scaramouche!

Which brings me to my own Star Trek credit. My short story “Yeoman Figgs” was published in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds V some years ago. This is a real Star Trek publication, not some fanfic.

You can read the start if you manage to look inside at p. 33. But if you like what you see, please buy a copy at Amazon or Barnes &Noble.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Zombie Mob

Thrill the World is an annual event I didn’t even know about until I happened to see an ad in a newspaper. (See? Print media still has its advantages.) This took place in Redmond, a suburb of Seattle. Specifically, it was at the Redmond Town Center.

Part of a tent

Before we get to the zombies, here’s an independent bookstore there. It’s cleverly named Bricks & Mortar Books. They have a different flavor of selection than a Barnes & Noble, or the Amazon stores. If you’re in the Redmond area, support your local bookstore.

I wasn’t trying to get too many pictures, so I’ll limit myself to a few of the better ones.

I saw a bee figure in the distance and wondered what that had to do with zombies. Oh.

The little girl in front really nailed it. She was all-out creepy.

And who says zombies can’t enjoy Octoberfest?

Looks like they just came from Leavenworth. (That’s local humor for the state of Washington.)

And this couple were the best ones there, for my money.

 click to enlarge

This really doesn’t do justice to how elaborate her hair was.

They had a tent for people to assemble their makeup. You might notice a corporate sponsor.

Some guy in Marketing must have thought it was a neat idea to associate their multi-billion dollar transnational company with blood-thirsty creatures.

So that was how I spent my Saturday. And remember the bookstore. 

[Permission granted to use any photo on this post, so long as it is labeled “Photo by Mark Murata”]

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Movie Review: Antman and the Wasp

Now that Antman and the Wasp can be purchased, here is my gentle review. This is a fun, lighthearted superhero movie. The main characters don’t mope around brooding, and the fate of the world is not at stake. And to quote someone whom I will reference below, just about every scene in the movie works: The action scenes deliver, and the funny scenes are funny. 

Not only do Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly deliver their roles, the minor characters are surprisingly funny. Michael Peña as the Hispanic assistant and David Dastmalchian as the Russian assistant are a scream. And Randall Park as the hapless FBI agent knows how to make himself ridiculous.

Still, I had the nagging feel that the movie was not as satisfying as it could have been. K.M. Weiland in one of her posts on writing nailed it: The whole was less than its parts. Paul Rudd’s character of Antman was “ancillary” to the plot. I could go further and say he was unnecessary. The main conflict in the story was centered on The Wasp. Although Antman had good action scenes, the little plot twists that made him necessary could have been credibly handled by other characters.

But since Antman was so fun, he really should be in the movie. When you see it, just think of the movie as The Wasp, with Antman as a supporting character. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Yeoman Martha Landon Passed Away

This was not your average blonde, female yeoman on the old Star Trek. Skip to 6:15 on this clip, and witness how Yeoman Landon takes out two natives who attack the landing party.

She was played by Celeste Yarnall, who had roles in Hogan’s Heroes, Bewitched, and It Takes a Thief. She passed away this past Sunday, October 7.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Stop Google from Going Googly on You

Ever look up vests on Google, or just the word “invest,” and for weeks it shows you ads on vests? What’s disturbing is not so much their taste in vests (which is questionable), but the fact they are tracking every word you use. Supposedly, this is just to do nice things for you like show you ads for stuff you like. Right. Why don’t we just let them search through our wallets? (More on that later.)

Kim Commando is a very reliable tech guru who has been giving valuable free advice for years. If you want to stop Google’s personalized ads, click here and go down to “Here's how to turn off Google's personalized ads.” The interfaces may look a little different from what she described, but the process works. Google’s ads only have short-term memory for me now.

That’s a start. But is that the end of Google’s data collection efforts on you? For irony, look at this puff piece they’ve put out for themselves. It’s funny at 2:50. The woman says, “Google has such a wide reach, so anything that I work on, I know it’s impacting, like, hundreds of thousands, probably millions.”

But it’s all to do nice things for you. Right.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Dragon Con—Log Supplemental II—CNN

Dragon Con was held in Atlanta. I so wanted to stay in one of the three main con hotels, but I was shut out. I ended up booking in the Omni Hotel. It happens to adjoin CNN headquarters.

They have tours for a reasonable price, so I signed up for one. But first, here’s what part of their food court looks like. Yes, they own the Cartoon Network.

Each bear is about the size of a person on all fours

Not only is that the CNN globe, but that’s a narrow escalator leading up to it. It’s the longest open-air escalator in the country. And that’s what we took to start the tour.

The tour truly was behind-the-scenes. We saw the set for Headline News—CNN owns HLN. The regular morning anchor wasn’t there; it was the weekend host. She wasn’t on camera at the moment, so she waved at us through thick glass. She chatted with the guy in charge of the robocams—huge cameras that moved by remote control.

We were not allowed to take any pictures inside, so we were free to gaze down from a balcony at their newsroom. It looked like any open-air office with cubicles, but with large monitors. Our guide pointed out which desks covered foreign news. They receive news feeds from all over the world and decide what to put on the air.

A particular news studio was incredibly cramped. It showcased smaller segments for CNN, like their medical show. Our guide explained how one man operated all the lights in this studio. I think it was over seventy.

This clip gives you an idea of how cramped some of their studios are. If you don’t like one side or the other of the politics involved, just watch with the sound off.

So this brings me to a short segment from my science fiction novel, Alpha Shift. It’s a minor detail, but one producer operates all the cameras. Knowing that one man runs a multitude of cameras in the present day gives me affirmation. Here, the producer comes out in the open because she wants to meet a celebrity. Is it a good idea?


Terrence ignored the baritone reply and linked his hardcel to the monitor in the corridor to the left, through which Halak had entered. The four assistants from the shuttle loitered there—by coincidence, the same number as their remaining bridge crew: security guard, tech specialist, makeup artist, and producer. The producer—who looked insect-like with her headset, eyepiece, and large microphone stem—normally was back in the control room behind the cameras, using voice commands to operate them and give them signals, but was so eager to meet Halak that she had emerged and was operating the cameras by remote control.

Something strategic. The four assistants had gradually shifted so each one was behind or beside one of their crew.


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