Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The stars above, Neil Armstrong

What’s wrong with this picture?  (This should be the last time I make fun of McKayla.) 

[Sorry, the picture of McKayla standing next to Darth Vader did not have copyright clearance.] 

Answer:  You would not be able to see the stars to the right of Darth’s head.  I don’t know how many scenes in movies or books have the stars visible through the window of a brightly-lit spacecraft or living room, which would be silly.  It’s called internal reflection, and unless you get right up close to the window, so your own body is blocking the internal light source, the dim stars outside will simply not show. 

Neil Armstrong 

On a different but related note, a few intelligent and a great many uninformed people think the moon landings were a hoax.  This is an offense to true science, especially as we mark the passing away of Neil Armstrong. 

One of the complaints is that the shots of the astronauts on the moon often do not show stars in the black sky, therefore they are fake.  Well, if they were fakes, don’t you think they would have put stars in? 

The cameras had to be adjusted for the brightness of the spacesuits and the regolith (the substance of the moon’s soil).  Otherwise, all the shots would have been blurry, overexposed smudges.  So the cameras did not pick up the faint stars in the background.  

Friday, August 24, 2012

What is Wrong with this Picture?

Something does not fit in this picture.  Observe, analyze, and consider.  Then look at the answer below. 

Wait for it . . .

Wait for it . . .

Just a little more . . .

Answer:  Rainbows are never seen around sunsets.  (Or sunrises, or noontime suns, etc.)  Rainbows are formed by refraction, so they are seen opposite the sun, often with the sun at your back. 

It’s surprising which authors make this mistake.  William Golding, the Nobel prize-winning author of The Lord of the Flies made the mistake of having a rainbow around or near the sun. 

And just to let you know we are not destroying McKayla’s life by showing her picture all over the place, she says in this video she thinks it’s funny how her image was plastered all over the internet.  

Monday, August 20, 2012

May the Muppets be in Your Favor

Here’s a short interview with a husky-sounding Jennifer Lawrence, who played Katniss in The Hunger Games, on shooting arrows, running through the forest fire, and kissing.  

For my review, look here

When I saw The Hunger Games, they showed the most unusual trailer before the movie: 

You’re welcome.  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Red and Cinderella

Leigh Covington is hosting the “WHAT IF?”" Fairy Tale Madness Blogfest.  Put a twist on a well-known fairytale, post the result, link to her site, and see if you win a prize. 

Here’s my entry for the best comic relief category, Red and Cinderella: 

Red lay on the stony ground, her own sweat, blood, and vomit reeking in her nostrils.  She plucked out an arrow that had penetrated her leather, gashing her stomach.  “Funny, our going out this way.” 

To her left, a couple bloody streaks showed on Cinderella’s bare midriff.  The sassy gal could barely lift her head.  “Y’know, if we had met under different circumstances, I still don’t think we would’ve liked each other.” 

They couldn’t afford to chuckle with abdominal wounds. 

Before them, Hansel strutted.  “Odd final words, witches.” 

Red spit defiance.  “For crying out loud!” 

Beside him, Gretel undid her ceremonial scarf.  “You still insist you killed a wolf all by yourself?” 


“And first, it came on to you, and your grandmother?” 

“She does aerobics, you half-wit!” 

Hansel pulled his loose scarf taut with both hands, the punching sound it made meant to intimidate.  “And you, you claim you snuck into a ball in a pumpkin?  With mice?” 

Cinderella put grit in her voice.  “What’s it to ya?” 

Gretel looked at her brother.  “Dibs.” 

Red tried to struggle as the girl lowered herself, her head blocking the sun, but the knobby knees held Red’s elbows in place.  She felt the deadly silk looping around her neck, the cruel stones bruising her back as she flinched. 

Cinderella moved her shoulder, not quite able to raise her arm.  “Look behind you.” 

Hansel’s smirk came through in his voice.  “My, I’m disappointed at that one.  Urk!” 

The scarf loosened.  Red gulped air.  She saw Gretel looking back over her right shoulder.  Wrong one, ditz

Past the left shoulder, a woman with wings, eyes glowing a wrathful purple, stood.  Red remembered Cinderella claimed her godmother was from Faerie. 

Red spit upward, into Gretel’s face.  “Hey, first time turning into a pumpkin?”  

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


WriteOnCon is an online writing convention, and it allows you to post a query letter or story excerpt.  Professional editors and agents will troll the site in the next few days, and they may reach out to people whose posts they like. 

Below is a query letter I posted.  Please feel free to give any honest comments about. 

Dear ______:

I would be delighted to have you represent my humorous urban fantasy, HOMESCHOOLING SLAYER.

Yes, it’s a bother for Dee Siegfried to kill vampires when they interrupt her kids’ math lessons, but it’s murder keeping the house neat after torching a dead one with a road flare.  Dee wants to deny that the zombie-like vampires she kills are real people, but when a series of tattoos and spoken words show signs of their intelligence, it may weaken her resolve to fight these things.  And Dee’s husband is finding it more difficult to comfort her in her frumpy clothes—no bare midriff for Dee when attacking things with fangs and claws! 

Now she’ll need to make some bold moves to find the source of the vampires, but will Dee falter at a crucial moment with these new attacks? On top of all this, her brother reveals her slayage to a college friend—a pale friend with dark hair, but what does he care about stereotypes? 

A blend of comedy, horror, and action, HOMESCHOOLING SLAYER stands out from other vampire novels by showing the lighter side of urban fantasy. The closest comparison in the field is Gini Koch’s Touched by an Alien with its wacky alien situations. 

The manuscript is complete, and the word count is 86,170. I have had a short story published in the STRANGE NEW WORLDS V anthology, and you can read the first few pages using Amazon’s Search Inside feature, starting on page 33. Also, my blog is at http://suburbanfantasy.blogspot.com/

Thank you for this opportunity.

And a tip of the hat to Jess, who alerted me and others to this opportunity. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

McKayla is not Impressed

McKayla Maroney won a silver medal in gymnastics, and as the video below explains, she scowled about it.  This has become the funniest internet meme I’ve ever seen!  People are now inserting her into all sorts of impressive images for comic effect.  I’m sure you can search for the main page, but the Wall Street Journal, of all places, interviewed the guy who started it all.  That’s right, the  Wall Street Journal!

Supposedly, McKayla has tweeted she’s all right with this—good to know she’s not being destroyed by all the attention.  

Monday, August 6, 2012

Review of Total Recall

In the far future, Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) chafes against his dull factory job and has repetitive dreams of how he lived a more meaningful life—fighting for a cause alongside a courageous woman.  Although his gorgeous wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale) loves him, he can’t shake the idea he’s meant for something important. 

On a dreary evening, Quaid on impulse visits Rekall, a company that will implant memories in his brain of his fantasy vacation.  Does he want to be a hero?  A warrior?  Quaid chooses to be a secret agent.  And that’s when everything goes crazy. 

The Rekall people panic, saying his memories indicate he really is a secret agent.  Next thing he knows, government agents are after him, including his wife!  Instead of being married for years, THOSE were the implanted memories, and Lori has simply been pretending to be his wife for a few months. 

photo by Tony Shek
Kate Beckinsale

Fleeing, Quaid exhibits survival skills he didn’t know he had, while his fake wife uses enough bullets to supply a small army to take him down.  Then a car pulls up and the door opens.  It’s Melina (Jessica Biel), the girl of his dreams.  She’s real, and the cause they fought for will determine the fate of millions. 

photo by Maggie Jumps
Jessica Biel

I strongly recommend Total Recall.  The casual use of information technology is enough to ground us in this well-imagined future.  I’ll just say you think your mobile phone/projector is convenient?  Wait’ll you see what they have.  And the chase scenes are riveting.  At first it seems they’ve outdone themselves by racing on freeways that use both the top and bottom of the concrete, but then they go beyond that by showing what it’s like to struggle on elevator cars that travel both vertically and horizontally.  This makes Bruce Willis elevator scenes look like a snap. 

Kate Beckinsale gives the most riveting performance as the fake wife/government agent.  She’s relentless, obviously enjoys her job, and any collateral damage along the way does not even merit a shrug from her.  Jessica Biel provides the heart of the movie, as the rebel fighter who never gives up, no matter how hopeless the situation.  At first, Colin Farrell gives an uninvolved performance, which is either meant to show how boring his character found his life, or is evidence he was just phoning his lines in.  But once the action starts, he certainly delivers. 

Don't miss the girl fight

Most of the negative reviews of the updated Total Recall are by fans of the original, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, and they laud the original as a work of art.  For the life of me, I cannot see why they prefer the original.  It’s like preferring the original Battlestar Galactica to the reimagined version. 

Both movies were highly developed versions of the short story We Can Remember it for You Wholesale, by Philip K. Dick.  See the entire text here

As a coincidence(?), Arnold just announced he is founding a think tank, to be named after him.  I cannot make this stuff up.  Here’s my proposed name for it: 

The Arnold Schwarzenegger Institute
for people who can’t think good 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Back up Your Writing

Brooke R. Busse, over on her blog, tells the alarming story of what happened when her computer got fried and would not start up again. 

Offsite storage is the key.  For my backup system, I use two thumb drives.  (I tend to call them jump drives, which shows how much Battlestar Galactica I watched.)  At least one is always offsite.  When I’ve done an evening’s worth of writing, I back that up onto one of the drives.  The next day, I exchange it with the one that’s been stored offsite. 

Of course, that means I have to keep track of which files from the previous day to rewrite on the drive I’ve just brought back, in addition to any more work I do.  It becomes a habit, and so not arduous. 

I’ll have to look into online backups, also.  


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