Saturday, November 13, 2021

Your 3G Will Be Dead as a …

I spent much of my Saturday morning trying to figure out if my current smartphone will work in 2022. As I hope you know already, 3G is going away in 2022. The exact date depends on your carrier. This is to make room for the exalted, brand new 5G, which will do everything except wash your feet for you. So your 3g phones and some of your 4G phones will be dead as a dodo.

public domain

There’s a reason we don’t have any photographs of them

I have an old Galaxy phone. Is it the S7, S8, or S9? No, those were top Galaxy phones for their time. I don’t need all the nice features, so I bought a bottom level J7. Never heard of it? Exactly.

So I assumed it was a 3G phone. I spent some time trying to find cheap 4G phones, but they tend to be used, or ever worse, refurbished. Then a very good article clued me in that if the phone has LTE in the upper right corner of the screen, it will be okay for 2022. Sure enough, my phone has those letters. After some triple checking of this, I found out my phone is 4G LTE. It’s safe.

All this did not leave me in the mood for writing. But as we find out in Dune, mood should not matter. For copyright reasons I won’t post a link here, but look up the words “dune shield practice” in some video sharing site, and see the lesson there.

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Spice, the Final Frontier—Comment on Dune

This is not a negative blog, so all I’ll say about the new Dune movie is that I had a hard time liking the main character—Paul Atreides/ Muad'Dib/ the cuisinart-hat-and-coat-rack. Yes, that means I’m one of those people who liked the 1984 version better. I’ve been told to think of that one as opera—opera without singing.

If you have a chance, check out the Sci Fi Channel’s 2000 miniseries Frank Herbert’s Dune. It’s supposed to be more accurate to the novel than the 1984 movie, though it was woefully underfunded for the battle against House Atreides. It would be more informative to compare this miniseries with the current movie.


Saturday, October 16, 2021

You’re Good at Whole Foods

I know that some people didn’t like it when Amazon took over Whole Foods, but there is an advantage to it.

My internet connection was slowing down, which was more than inconvenient. I’m trying to send out letters to agents to find someone who will sign me on as a client for my historical fantasy, Temple Beyond the Sea. My connection became so slow, some agency websites showed up piecemeal. The ones that did show up okay took a long while to load, especially since one has to look at multiple pages to see which agents accepts which genres, their query letter requirements, etc. I suspected it was my modem.

I ordered a new one from Amazon. Guess what, I ordered the wrong kind.

It had come in one of those huge 11x17 padded envelopes. I had cut the top off, and I didn’t relish the idea of taping it up securely to haul to an Amazon locker.

This is the small part

While setting up my return, Amazon gave me the option of returning it to Whole Foods Market. That’s right, I had noticed the curiosity of the Amazon return area in the store. It’s close by, and I wouldn’t have to put it back in the envelope.

public domain

So I took the modem over there in its box and stood in line at that curious Amazon return area. After the guy there scanned the QR code Amazon had sent me, he put it on a cart and said, “You’re good.”

As an aside, I try to buy my books from Barnes & Noble to keep the local bookstores open. But if it’s going to be something cumbersome I might have to return, I’ll keep the Whole Foods option in mind.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Hot Greece

I’m preparing to send out my manuscript, Temple Beyond the Sea, set in ancient Greek civilization. The standard practice is to send a manuscript out to as many agents as possible in a “shotgun” approach and hope that one will accept it. (And if you are reading this post, dear agent, know that you are special.) What will hopefully work to my advantage is that reimaginings of Greek mythology is a hot trend now. You can walk into a Barnes & Noble and see a number of titles.
One of these novels is about Norse mythology
I’ll let you guess which one

If you follow my blog, you’ll know that I’ve written more than one novel manuscript. Do not leave this to chance. Have more than one way to strike while the iron is hot. For now, here in excerpt from Temple Beyond the Sea.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Characters—Relative Heights

When writing, it is advisable to keep a sheet with character descriptions: hair color, eye color if relevant, any injuries received during the story, etc. I was rather embarrassed to find that in the later chapters of a science fiction manuscript, I wrote that Captain Chechi had an injured left arm, when the earlier chapter where the injury occurred described it in detail as occurring to her right arm. 

This is not a “cheat sheet.” This can be titled “Copyeditor Notes.” If your manuscript is accepted by a publishing house, the editor will know what to do with it.


I also like noting how tall some characters are, or at least their relative heights. This is useful in tense moments, to note who is looking up and who is looking down.


In one of my fantasy manuscripts, Iphi, who is a priestess in training, is taller than most men. King Thoas is short for a man. 


Iphi felt her own brows frowning as she looked down at the king. This was her disapproving look, and she saw no need to quell it.


In a later scene, Iphi and a few other women kneel when the Olympian Artemis appears to them. 


Then Artemis stepped in front of Iphi, looking down into her face. The immortal hadn’t aged at all. Perfect white skin, dark brown hair, and eyes that were as black as night against their whites.


Okay, in that scene Iphi was kneeling. But if she had been standing, she would be taller than Artemis, which Artemis wouldn’t like. In this next scene from a science fiction manuscript, Captain Chechi was almost killed but was saved by Ensign Harris. For those of you who don’t like the image of a strong woman weeping, you don’t know what she’s gone through. 


He ended up going down on his knees and wrapping his arms around her. After a lot of awkward lifting and slipping, she was up on the deck.


Weeping, she hugged him and buried her face in his chest. She sobbed out the story of how she had been trapped.


She looked up into his blue eyes … 


And yes, she’s looking up because her face was buried in his chest, but again you get the idea. If you want to find out what happened, get my book if it is ever published. In the same story, Vox is trying to get someone in the brig to put on a prison uniform. 


photo by Michael Coghlan 

At 5’11” she stared down at Vox in contempt. “I am not putting that garbage on. Give me my uniform.”


“If you do not like the dung brown color, we can give you the urine yellow.”


If you want to see another scene involving Vox and a tall woman, see my previous blog entry here

Friday, August 6, 2021

Book Review: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is actually a lengthy poem, written in Middle English. I read what was probably a standard translation in college, but when I found out that J.R.R. Tolkien had done a translation, I bought his version. Each translation preserves the alliteration in each line. For instance, Tolkien styled a line this way:

“Then he stayed his steed that on the steep bank halted

above the deep double ditch that was drawn round the place.”

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is an anti-romance. The typical romance of the time would describe in detail how the knight or other hero would go through great battles. Then he would save the damsel in distress. In contrast, there is no description of any battle in this poem. It is mentioned that Gawain has a number of battles in his travels, but none are described. And there is no damsel in the story. On the contrary, the owner of a castle shows Gawain great hospitality, but his wife on no less than three mornings comes into Gawain’s bedroom and offers him her body. Each time, Gawain has to refuse her using the most polite language, since his code of chivalry does not allow him to insult such a lady. This series of temptations and denials of temptations is the main part of the story.

The author had to be an expert in romances to cleverly write an anti-romance that was so fascinating.

Tolkien was an expert on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. His own work, The Lord of the Rings, is an anti-quest. The protagonists already have the great talisman of power—the ring. They have to get rid of it, because no one can wield it without becoming corrupted. A number of turning points in the story have to do with temptation and denying temptation.

It’s very nice to see the connections fall into place.

By the way, there is a movie out there called The Green Knight that is supposedly based on this story. It is awful. They take some parts of the story and reverse everything. Also some truly grotesque “art” scenes are thrown in. This is not a negative blog, but do not see that travesty.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

TV Review: Moonlight

I recently rewatched the 2007 television series Moonlight. Mick St. John (Alex O'Loughlin) is a private investigator with a secret: He’s a vampire. He looks about thirty, but he’s actually eighty-five. He takes an interest in protecting Beth Turner (Sophia Myles), a reporter who really is about thirty. They work together, doing some mild breaking and entering for clues for their respective lines of work.

Beth keeps saying that Mick looks familiar, but he brushes that off. As a walking CSI lab, Mick can tell if a vampire was around a dead body, and he can smell blood from a crime scene and tell if it matches an individual’s blood sample. And he uses his incredible strength and speed to save Beth and others.

It turns out that when Beth was a child, Mick saved her after she was kidnapped by a vampire. They sure make a cute couple. I wonder if they will get together?

Mick is front and center, Beth is on the right

Moonlight is different from other television or movie series on the subject. Mick does not normally kill other vampires, nor is he an isolated individual. Instead, there is a thriving but secret vampire community in Los Angeles. Mick’s best friend is a four-hundred-year-old vampire who has lots of vampire contacts. Mick has a contact in the coroner’s office who supplies him with blood. If Mick meets another vampire, they pick up each other’s scent and say something like, “Oh, so you’re a …” This large, secret community is an interesting take.

Keep in mind this was written in the early 2000s. The characters have cell phones, but they aren’t smart. Research on the internet is by desktop computer, and it takes a while. Beth works for an internet news group, and though they have higher ratings than more established sources, it’s still viewed as a novelty.

Another interesting fact is that this was one of the last of the great American private investigator shows set in modern times, until a new batch came out fairly recently. Most crime investigation shows involve the police or CSI types, and all the government resources they have. Seeing how private enterprise does things differently is refreshing.

But what kept viewers coming back was the on-again, off-again relationship between Mick and Beth. Mick thinks he’s no good for her. Beth keeps getting more and more fascinated with him. What will happen? 

Monday, July 5, 2021

Aye vs. Yes

What’s the difference between “Aye” and “Yes” when watching a military program, especially a science fiction one that uses these terms? A friend of mine who used to fly Naval Air told me that in the Navy and Marines, “Yes” is used to respond to a question, but “Aye” is used to respond to an order.

Many science fiction novels, movies, and TV shows use naval ranks and terminology. John Hemry, who is my favorite author and an old Navy hand, said that was because the Navy has experience keeping crews on ships for extended periods, and the Navy has bases around the world. That may be why this is used for spaceships in science fiction.

So here’s part of a scene from my story Alpha Shift where the captain, Christina, is rebuking her first officer.


Christina hardened her edge. “Don’t have that tense look during the interview. I don’t want to see close-ups of you all over their network with face-readers analyzing your expression.”

“Aye, ma’am.” He went back to camera-ready perfect on his section of the cream couch.

His military reply pleased her, though it was the only appropriate one—“Yes” to answer a question, “Aye” to acknowledge an order. Off screen, the old disciplines held, back from the days when ships were ready to go to war against each other.


 I’ve finished doing a thorough re-edit of the manuscript. Here’s what it looks like printed out.


Monday, June 14, 2021

Reginald Barclay vs. the Scammers

I’ve used the name Reginald Barclay on social media. For those of you who don’t know, he was an occasional character on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager. He was played by Dwight Schultz, an excellent actor who was known for his role in the old TV show The A-Team, and extra points if you know he did voice acting for The Animatrix, an animated companion piece to The Matrix.

I liked him as Barclay in The Next Generation because he seemed more like a real person than the main cast. He often didn’t know what to do next, or where to go next. His uncertainties contrasted with characters who always knew what to do and who would stride away purposefully at the end of a conversation.

But the people who tried to scam me really were not familiar with the character.

photo by evil_cotton

The dingbats who texted me and sent me an email addressed me as Reginald Barclay, obviously just randomly grabbing names from social media. If I call their dedicated line, they can help me get relief from my student loans by the stimulus forgiveness program.

My name is not Reginald Barclay, I do not have student loans, and anyone foolish enough to call their number will have their phone number sold to countless lists for robocalls.


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