Monday, January 30, 2012

Real Alcatraz Tweet

As a follow-up to my post on the Alcatraz characters, here's something funny.  The real Alcatraz does Twitter, and they are distancing themselves from the TV show and the movie The Rock.  

 Alcatraz Island 
Pic of sign on the real  due to the TV show . There are no tunnels like in The Rock either (g). 

Fox40 reports that because of the TV show, people "are snooping around in closed off areas."  

I suppose you could get bragging rights for being arrested at Alcatraz.  

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Alcatraz—The return of McCoy, Kirk, and Spock

. . . so I was finally watching the premiere of Alcatraz (with J.J. Abrams as executive producer), and I was wondering what the Detective Madsen (Sarah Jones) character was doing in such a gritty series.  Then I realized she’s the action character of the team, the Captain Kirk:  Clean-faced, somewhat amused by the tense conflict, never afraid of danger. 

Photo by Gage Skidmore  

I was astounded with how the other two main characters matched up.  The guy in charge is Hauser (Sam Neill), the crotchety McCoy character who never misses a chance to look like he enjoys sucking lemons.  Never mind that he’s in charge; it’s not rank that counts when seeing stereotypes or archetypes, it’s the nature of the character. 

Dr. Soto (Jorge Garcia) is the Spock character:  He’s the expert who has endless stores of knowledge in his head, and who is instantly respected for that.  I’m not saying he acts in a rigidly logical manner, but he lacks ease in social interactions and has an outside-the-mainstream personality, and that’s all it takes. 

 Photo by Gage Skidmore  

Insightful people maintain that what kept the viewing audience coming back week after week for the old Star Trek was not the special effects or the strange new worlds, but the fascinating interactions among Kirk, Spock, and McCoy.  In Alcatraz, Detective Madsen and Dr. Soto have an easy affability with each other, though they are so starkly different, just like Kirk and Spock.  Meanwhile, Detective Madsen and Hauser have loud disagreements with each other, to the point of yelling, which sounds like Kirk and McCoy.  And while Spock and McCoy would make snide remarks to each other, so far Dr. Soto and Hauser have made snide remarks about each other, to Madsen. 

If the writers of Alcatraz know what’s good for them they’ll keep up these interactions, and add snide remarks between Dr. Soto and Hauser, every week.  Do you see this, Mr. Abrams?  I can improve your show.  No fee too big.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Best Novel of 2011

Over at the Should Be Reading blog, MizB is having her WWW Wednesday meme.  I’ll use this as an excuse to post on the best novel of 2011:  The Shadow Reader, by Sandy Williams. 

McKenzie has been loyally aiding the forces of the king of the fae during their civil war, but is forced through a fissure into their Realm by Aren, a leader of the rebels.  The fae, who are human-size and use swords rather than technology for their battles, can fissure at will around their Realm and even into our world, and McKenzie is the key to this war:  She can read the shadows left by the vanished fissures, pinpointing their destinations.  Her ability gives an extreme advantage for the forces of the king, since they can pursue with superior forces the rebel fae who fissure away. 

Kept a prisoner and at risk of her life unless she helps the rebels, McKenzie is forced to hear Aren’s view:  The king’s forces are oppressors, militarily and economically.  They’ve lied to her.  Manipulated her.  Made her think she was helping the good guys.  But the rebels are the right side.  They even teach her their fae language, which the king’s forces never did, so she can listen to their discussions and decide for herself. 

McKenzie becomes confused and wonders if she’s suffering from Stockholm syndrome.  It doesn’t help that Aren, though smirky, is a compelling masculine presence.  After all, he keeps the other rebels from killing her, and he teaches her things about their side she never knew before.  But she longs for Kyol, the king’s swordbearer, who has been at her side and protected her for ten years during this war.  She and Kyol are in love, but can never reveal their forbidden affection—forbidden by the king, not by the rebel forces.  McKenzie must choose.  Which side is right?  Which man really cares for her? 

The Shadow Reader does not give easy answers for McKenzie.  A simpler story would have her saying, “Okay, I’ll abandon everything I’ve known and join your side” in the first thirty pages.  The rebels are threatening to kill her, but the king’s forces never taught her their language.  Both sides commit war crimes.  Is Aren lying to her?  Has Kyol been manipulating her?  And McKenzie is no shrinking violet.  Her escape attempts are believable.  (Finally, a kidnapped female who doesn’t just sit on her hands!)  I highly recommend this one. 

 (Note:  This book has a beautiful cover, but the main character does not carry a sword.  Also, she has brown hair, not the more exotic blondish-brownish that’s shown.  And there’s no indication she’s built like this cover model.  But other than that, it’s just like her!) 

My honorable mention goes to Dying Bites, by D.D. Barant. 

FBI profiler Jace Valchek finds herself in an alternate dimension, where the vampires, werewolves, and golems have won, and humans are less than one percent of the population.  So why should she help them solve a murder?  See my full review of this novel.  

Monday, January 23, 2012

Acropolis = Temple of Virginity

YESSIRREE!  Now for a limited time, you can rent the Acropolis in Athens for the social event of your choice:  Soirees, your daughter’s graduation, a little pick-up game of hoops.  For just 1,600 euros (whatever that is), you can rent the Acropolis, the Theatre of Dionysus, or the Olympic Stadium for your night out.  How can they do this?  VOLUME! 

As the U.K. Daily Mail notes, Greece is so cash-strapped, they are seriously going to rent out some of their ancient sites.  Don’t ask the archaeologists what they think of this.  And considering the euro is about to tank, you might want to lock in your reservation now, then pay with euros that aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. 

I’ll use this as an excuse to post another excerpt from my historical fantasy, Virgin Unknown.  Orestes and Pylades are entering the Parthenon (the name comes from the Greek word for virginity.) 

The tall double doors swung outward, and Orestes could not see what made them open. 
            He and Pylades walked into the Temple of Virginity.  They went past bowls of smoldering incense, wafting contrasting scents of juniper and coriander into the air.  Orestes could tell from the motion of shadows cast on the floor that the double doors were now closing behind them.  He didn’t look back because of the incredible sight before him, lit from lamps in wall sconces and sunlight coming through openings near the ceiling. 
            Usually, an image of an Olympian or some other immortal would be shorter than a person.  Once in a while, an ambitious artisan would make one life-size.  But this image of Athena surpassed any sculpture he had seen before:  A statue more than five times the height of a man -- six, counting the top of her helm.  The robes of the statue were made of gold, and through the cunning work of the artisan resembled the folds of a garment draped over a woman’s body.  Even more cunning was the use of ivory to look like flesh for the exposed parts of the head, throat, and arms.  One arm held a shield at her side.  The other was outstretched. 
            This was a wonder that took Orestes’ breath away.  “Never, never have I seen such a thing.” 
            A woman stepped out from behind the statue.  She was wearing leather armor and had shorter hair than most women.  “Hello, Orestes.”  She moved like an athlete.  “I am Pallas Athena.”  

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Know Your Snow

View from my window 
Layers formed from snow, then freezing rain, then snow. 

My last blog described the snow on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Today, the rain was supposed to wash it away, but it became dangerous instead. 

When I went out to my car this morning, I heard the most unusual sound—hissing, but intermittent.  I realized freezing rain was hitting the snow. 

I mentioned it to someone at work, who had heard the same thing.  She replied, “Like bacon sizzling?” 

That’s the best comparison.  When you hear this sound on a snowy day, it’s dangerous.  A glaze of ice formed on our roads. 

It’s still snowing.  

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


A few inches of snow came down rapidly in the Seattle area. 

Don’t you like nature in its pristine form? 

This was on a neighboring tree.  I guess some people need their caffeine fix, no matter how cold out.  

It's predicted to wash away on Thursday.  Will it?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Battlestar Galactica Exhibit II

As I said in my previous post on the Battlestar Galactica Exhibit at the Seattle Science Fiction Museum, here are more pictures I snapped of actual props used in the series. 

What’s this approaching you out of a starfield? 

It’s a Cylon Raider—their equivalent of a jet fighter.  You can see part of its right wing sweeping upward.  Like the previous exhibits, this is life-size, several feet across.  

Here’s a different close-up.  (It’s unavoidable to include the scaffolding and the lit rope-line in this shot.)  Sometimes during the exhibit, they turn on the moving red dot that resembles an eye, complete with vibrating sound effect.  Kind of eerie.  

Below is a model of the Battlestar Galactica itself.  It’s true they often used CGI for the Galactica, but they also had this mock-up. 

A close up shows the name Galactica on the starboard flight pod.  Note the incredible level of detail. 

Another picture as it heads away from us. 

I’ll let you decide if this was a life-size model.  

I’ll have another post sometime in the future with contrasting views of the feminine in Galactica.  

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Delusion of Grandeur

I managed to fool myself, using the interactive nature of the internet.  Earlier today I was doing a little research and googled “Battlestar Galactica.”  I was astounded by the result.  

Me?  I’m the top search result?  The photo from my recent blog entry on my visit to the Seattle Science Fiction Museum?  I try again, and there I am—on top. 

I e-mail several friends, telling them to search those words on Google, and they’ll see me.  Next, I’ll e-mail my writing contacts, and tell them of this . . . this . . . 

Wait.  This can’t be right.  Of all the millions of people who search for those words, why would they look at my image the most? 

Taking a bite of humble pie, I use a different sign-on.  Nothing.  I’m nowhere in sight. 

Of course.  I use Google Chrome as my Web browser.  I have my blog linked to my Google sign-on.  When I search in Google for something, it detects who I am, then obediently brings up results relevant to me.  Including
 . . . me. 

I e-mail my friends about the false alarm.  I’m back to being your humble blogger. 

But it’s not over.  On Monday I’ll post more pics from the Battlestar Galactica Exhibit.  This is like Linus at the end of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  Just wait’ll next time.  

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Alien Diplomacy

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme on the Breaking the Spine blog.  We each give a pre-publication description of an upcoming book we’re looking forward to reading. 

Mine is Alien Diplomacy by Gini Koch. 

This will be the fourth in her suburban fantasy/science fiction series.  By this point, the female protagonist is married and has a baby.  I’m curious on how Gini Koch will portray a woman who is a wife, mother, and action figure. 

Why does she have an alien for a husband?  Many agents and editors are looking for something fresh, beyond the vampires and werewolves.  

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Battlestar Galactica Exhibit I

Your humble blogger

The Experience Music Project Museum in Seattle also contains a Science Fiction Museum.  Currently, they have the Battlestar Galactica Exhibit, including actual props from the series. 

Below is the Viper that Starbuck used.  Imagine it coming right at you. 

A different view shows the mannequin beside it modeling a Viper pilot’s uniform.  Yes, this Viper model is life-size, and the actors could climb into the cockpit. 

A close-up of the same view.  Notice the realism—not only the mechanical parts inside with a service cover off, but the burnt scarring on the hull.  The gun is attached to the wing, between the open service cover and the mannequin. 

Below is Lee Adama’s Viper.  Again, it’s life-size.  Notice the scarring on it, the stenciled words to remind the pilot not to step on the wing while climbing in, and his call sign of Apollo by the cockpit.  Pretty cool, huh? 

I’ll show more photos on some future posts.  This was a fun trip to a museum.  

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Formatting Your Manuscript

Vickie Motter, an agent who gives generous advice on her blog, has a page on what’s cutting edge in manuscript formatting.  It turns out that most agents and editors will read your manuscript on their portable devices.  So what, you ask?  For one thing, those devices don’t recognize the Tab key.  Your paragraphs will look like they have no indentations. 

How do you fix this and other details?  Look at her blog.  


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