Archive for July, 2013

Getting Your Boots on MVM

U2. I saw them in concert a few years ago (as described here). While I like a lot of their stuff, I find myself diggin’ on some of their poppier/techno-y stuff. Like this one.


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Gaiman… Gaming?

I was just looking over at, and found this… It seems Neil Gaiman will be working on the story behind a video game called Wayward Manor.



Which leads me to an interesting thing to look for… at the very least to check out the system requirements and cross platform options… This is right up there with Scalzi’s involvment with a game that’s in the works for portable devices.

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Degrees of Wrongness… for writers

Right, so here’s another things that I found on Chuck Wendig’s site that I felt like sharing, for those that might not normally find their way over to his blog.

If you think of yourself as “aspiring,” you might be doing it wrong.

If you talk, tweet, think or write about writing more than you actually write: doin’ it wrong.

If you always find an excuse why you’re not writing, then UR DOIN’ IT RONG.

If you’ve inhaled the aerosolized horseshit and buy into the divide between literary and genre fiction, BZZT, that’s some wrong-ass shit, chief.

Go see the full list for yourself.

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Pacific Rim… a few thoughts

I had my youngest nephew this weekend, taking him for some birthday stuff (a trip to the state’s Museum of Natural Science, some shopping, and at MC’s suggestion, a movie). The movie was his choice, and he opted for Pacific Rim. (That, R.I.P.D. or Turbo). I admit, PR was my first choice of the three.

While I admit I had actually very little in the way of advanced information about the movie, I had read Chuck Wendig’s post here. Go and look for yourself, I’ll wait.


Back? Okay. Here’s the thing, if you haven’t seen it. He’s pretty spot on. There was one other commentary I heard – a local radio station reviewer who commented about a lot of the action scenes taking place “in darker, rainy conditions.” I have some opinions about that, but I’ll get there in a moment.

First, I liked the movie. I liked it enough that I wouldn’t be opposed to watching it again, maybe even in the theater, if MC is interested and we arrange for a sitter. It’s a solid action popcorn movie. As a story, it moves well. The few times I checked my watch was more from the writer brain breaking down the story (“This event just happened, how far in are we?” sort of thing).

Which may be the root cause of the issues I had with the movie. Having consumed as much media as I have – growing up with things like Transformers, Robotech, Voltron, and the first days of the Power Rangers… where the Godzilla films could occasionally be found on cable channels, especially around Halloween… and even things as recent as Avatar – I couldn’t turn off my head as much as I would have liked during the fight sequences. I kept thinking of the older material, which deflated the awe and excitement for me.

With regard to the “dark and rainy” conditions… Those worked for me on two levels. First, when considering the CGI effects, remembering back to my limited, 15-year old graphics programming experience, rendering lighting conditions can be a bitch to get right. With the amount of sequencing and rendering required for a full on fight sequence, going for dark conditions seems the safer choice: better for the budget, and rendering times.

The second, and what is most important when any story is concerned, is tension. There is naturally increased tension when it’s dark, when it’s rainy, when visibility is shit. There are a  few “throw-away” sequences – relevent story side events (the sequence in Sydney comes to mind) that are on-screen for such a brief time, and really only serve as exposition, that there is no inherent, big-picture tension value. (The Sydney sequence, by the way, is rendered in “daylight,” in the form of a newscast… again, low screen time though).

As a SF fan, let me echo Wendig again: it’s a fun movie, and it’s good to actually get something in theaters that’s not just another installment in a franchise, or rebooting a franchise, etc.  

As a writer, however, here’s my takeaway from experience that I had. It doesn’t matter how familiar the gimmicks may be, it’s all about the implementation of the story and how the audience responds to the characters. That’s been one of the hardest things for me to learn, at least, one of the slowest to sink in. I’m glad it’s a message that’s finally getting through.

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A thought experiment…

I am an United States citizen. Several of the writers that I follow, however, are not. Like Charles Stross: he’s English by birth and lives in Scotland, which makes for some interesting political insights and reactions.

Like this piece, which got my writerly brain thinking…

So, the British royal family has a new third-in-line heir to the throne…This prince is going to find things a little different because he’s going to be the first designated future British monarch to grow up in a hothouse panopticon, with ubiquitous surveillance and life-logging …I expect there to be Facebook account-hacking attacks on his friends, teachers, and associates—and that’s just in the near term…This kid is going to grow up surrounded by smartphones, smart glasses (think in terms of the ten-years-hence descendants of Google Glass), and everything he does in public can be expected to go viral despite the best efforts of the House of Windsor’s spin doctors.

Especially his last line:

What is it going to be like to be the heir to the throne, aged ten and starting at a public school (that is, a very high-end private school) in 2023?

Some background. At my recent MFA Residency, one of the modules that I selected was a discussion of “future technology”… or about extrapolating from what we have now to plausible near future things, so Stross’s piece lands in that ballpark.

Consider it a writing prompt, I suppose.

But there’s something else that can be spun from his post, a more universal application. Pick any “democratic” nation, one that’s modern enough to be technologically developed (read: a majority of it’s population has some degree of internet access). For the sake of this, let’s consider 1995 the starting point of the Internet’s rise to it’s current state. (I started college in 1994, when Netscape and Internet Explorer were in their infancy, and services like Hotmail and Yahoo were still novelties.)

Running with that variation of Charlie’s idea, anyone born since 1995 has the potential of having lived on the internet for at least the past few years. Jump forward several years, when anyone running for political office might have their internet past scoured and submitted for public consumption. What is that world going to look like? What will the societal shifts be like with regards to reactions to said past events?


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A Writing Excuses Q&A

I’ve been an advocate for the Writing Excuses podcast before, but will also readily admit that I was late to the party. They were somewhere in their fifth season [and they are in their eighth at this writing], when the Hugo nominations came out before the Reno Worldcon, before I found out about them. Since then, while I haven’t listened through all of them, I have downloaded all of them, and they are resident on more than one portable listening device.

This year, they held their first “Retreat/Workshop,” which is where they recorded the particular episode I’m pointing you all towards. It’s a Q&A session, which I admit to not having listened to yet. However, in the episode write-up (which I first read on Mary Robinette Kowal’s site), there was one item that hit me square between the eyes… and is why I feel the need to share.

To Dan and Howard (and Mary): When you had full-time work, what did you do to “reset” when you came home from work, especially since your job used the same parts of your brain that writing does?

It’s a topic that I think most creative people can connect with, especially most of my fellow SHU & VP folks.

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Another kind of Stupid on MVM

I mentioned before how I have some P!nk in the collection… This is one that I tend to add to a lot of road-trip playlists. Here’s why I like it: The core message is that it’s okay to be yourself, and think for yourself, and these days that’s something that just can’t be said enough.

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This was making the rounds yesterday, and… wow. I was impressed by the way they worked the pictures out of domines, let alone the scope of the setup. Reminds me of the Domino Rally sets I had as a kid… (looks like they’re actually still around, too.)


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Writing about Dragons: A Writer’s Reference

Brandon Sanderson. If you are in any way inclined towards Speculative Fiction, the name should ring a bell. For readers, he’s the guy that finished off The Wheel of Time series, among other (epic) fantasy series. For writers, he’s one of the main players responsible for bringing us the Writing Excuses podcast. Wait, that’s not right. The multiple-Hugo-nominated Writing Excuses podcast. That’s better.

Some months ago I stumbled across something that I bookmarked on my home computer, and have meant to share here, but as things are wont to happen, it kept slipping off the plate. A couple times it rolled right off the table and under a cabinet to hide. Like dragons do. While I was at my MFA Residency a couple of weeks ago, I was mentioned the site to a few people, and encouraged them to check it out.

Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. There’s this website called Write About Dragons. The simplest way to describe it is that it’s a video series following Brandon’s teaching of his fiction class at BYU. The lectures were recorded in 2012, and are posted in the order they occurred during the semester. I’ve tinkered with them, watching snippets of a few but haven’t tried to make it through all of them (yet).

Which leads me back to spreading the word. If you are into writing Spec Fic, this is a site worth checking out. A word of warning, however… the site doesn’t appear to like Internet Explorer, but the videos appear to also be listed on Youtube.  Here’s one to get you started…


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Another Test…

So there’s this thing called Facebook… maybe you’ve heard of it. They tend to do a lot of updates to the “user experience” that tends to break other things. Like blog sharing. Which gets annoying as hell when you don’t realize it’s broken for a while.

Which is why we are here… I noticed that something that should have cross posted over to Facebook went AWOL instead, so after detonating and rebuilding the bridge, it’s time for the semi-regular connection test.

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