Randomness for 7/30

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1) A People’s History of Tattooine.

2) Batman’s mask would be good protection for Bruce Wayne’s secret identity, according to SCIENCE!

3) Scully likes Science (remix). Video.

4) Enjoy some pix of the world’s largest aquatic insect.

5) Hugo-winning author Lawrence Watt-Evans has been posting the openings to his many works in progress. Instructive.

6) “The Denny,” an advanced bicycle prototype designed for dark, hilly Seattle.

7) CG Deadpool test footage. I’d happily watch this.

Randomness for 7/16

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1) Weapons confiscated by the TSA.

2) The technology to rip off your card when you use an atm is becoming advanced.

3) Turning Facebook covers and profile pics into art.

4) Casting letter shows alternate actors considered for ST:TNG. Jenny Agutter as Beverly Crusher? Wesley Snipes and Geordi? Kevin Peter Hall as Data? Yaphet Kotto as Picard? Huh.

5) Artist recreates his childhood drawing 20 years later. Wow.

6) Burned, abandoned, flooded mall has become home to koi and catfish.

7) Top 10 Most Effective Editing Moments of All Time, according to Cinefex. Video.

Randomness for 7/12

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1) The best one-star review ever.

2) Ingmar Bergman’s THE FLASH. Video. #lol

3) 25 Pictures Of Lesbian Sex According To Stock Photography #15, wtf?

4) A film from 1943 or 1944 with a British major demonstrating knife-fighting techniques. Dubbed into Greek but subtitled in English. Video.

5) Books with almost identical covers.

6) Baking projects that didn’t turn out like their photos.

7) Top ten pictures of pie eaters.

Randomness for 7/8

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1) How to save a rusty ruined cast iron skillet.

2) Dad photoshops young daughter into sf/f movies.

3) Insights from a real sword fight.

4) Authors dress up as their favorite characters.

5) “There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.” Frankly, I say this fossil isn’t scary enough for the name.

6) Ten ridiculous Kickstarter campaigns people actually supported

7) Conversation with Twitter bots draws in Bank of America. #lol

Yesterday’s birthday celebration

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How many places around the U.S. (around the world, even) would be amused that yesterday’s high temps set a new record for July 1st: 94F, over a previous record high of 89F? In many places those numbers capture temps in the early morning, not the high for the day, but those places also have central air or even just air conditioners. My apartment in Seattle has no insulation and it doesn’t circulate air well, unless it’s a very windy day.

Anyway, we broke out the fan for the first time, but I still had an outbreak of heat-induced urticaria. (I keep meaning to blog about my health issues but never seem to find the time.)

My main birthday gift was a day when I didn’t have to do any work at all. The trash had been taken out, the floor cleaned, the toilet scrubbed, the carpet vacuumed (all by me the day before) so I had literally nothing to do around the apartment. I took a day off from my writing responsibilities, too. All I wanted to do was sack out on the couch and watch the extended LOTR movies.

You guys, I was really surprised by how much I was looking forward to this. Yeah, I do things that are fun or that count as goofing off, but they always come with a portion of guilt.

Yesterday was a day off from guilt.

Also, when I watch most movies I’m tempted to look at Twitter or have a comic book open next to me, but LOTR had my attention from the start. I managed to sit down close to my start time (which was 7am) and aside from looking at Twitter messages during DVD changes or checking the World Cup score for the Belgium match, I was offline most of the day. The movies themselves were engaging enough, even after multiple viewings, that I had no urge to turn away or fill dull time. What’s more, my wife–who generally has zero interest in Tolkien or other kinds of fantasy–was nearly late for work because the movie was so absorbing. I started the movies just after 7am and finished 8:30pm, and now I want to reread the books and replay the Lego game.

Weird thing: my kid is going through one of his bouts of late night wakefulness, where he sleeps all day and stays up all hours of the night. In fact, when I woke this morning, I found a plate of bacon, eggs, and toast waiting for me. My wife explained that she woke at 4am and found the boy wide awake in the kitchen cooking. He wanted to make a prepare breakfast for me, despite not being a kitchen person.

So, he dug up some YouTube videos for making scrambled eggs with bacon (and the video suggested boiling the bacon until the water steamed off and it could be browned in the skillet). Yes, by 6:45am, everything was stone cold, but while the bacon was a little bland, it was pretty good. Well, it was better than you could expect from twelve-year-old who never cooks and could barely sleep.

Dinner was delivery from a favorite pizza place. Lunch was a meatball sandwich on a fancy baguette, followed by the birthday cake cantalope-free fruit salad. See:

Inside the bag was a bottle of fancy rye whiskey. It was a good day, you guys, even if I did squeeze in a little writing work at the very end of the day.

I am 49.

I’m looking forward to Tuesday

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I’m looking forward to Tuesday, but not for any of the reasons you might think. Nothing will be completed or released. I’m not going anywhere. No one is coming over.

In fact, it’s my birthday.

Well, not my real birthday. That’s already passed. July 1st is the day I celebrate my birthday (I moved it because my wife and I were born on the same day, and it sucks to share something like that).

This year, the plan is simple: Up early, to the couch, the full Lord of the Rings extended trilogy, which I got for Giftmas a few years back. That’s it. Nothing else.

Well, except for a big fruit salad (I don’t like cake) and delivery pizza. And my son’s headset mic muted so he can’t bicker with his pals in co-op games. But it’s 13 hours of movie or something, and I’m going to do nothing all day but watch.

It’s been a long time since I could really take a day to myself. Usually I have work to do (or work I ought to be doing, guilt guilt). If it’s a family day, we’re going somewhere my wife wants to go, to a park or something. And when I do goof off, I’m always kicking myself it.

That’s why I’m really, really looking forward to a full day of doing nothing. I sorta can’t wait.

The Full Trailer for DARK DUNGEONS!!!

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It’s not a satire of the original Jack Chick comic! It IS the Jack Chick comic brought to life!

Debbie and Marcie arrive at college unaware of the dangers of RPGing. They are soon indoctrinated into this dangerous lifestyle where they face the threat of learning real life magical powers, being invited to join a witches’ coven, and resisting the lure of Ms. Frost, a vile temptress of a GM. But what peril must the two friends face when they stumble across the Necronomicon and their fantasy game becomes a reality game? Find out in Dark Dungeons!

From the FAQ on their website:

Have people committed suicide due to RPGs?

No cases of RPG-related suicides have been proven in court. However, that does not mean that it doesn’t happen. For all we know, BIG-GAMING may just be very good at covering them up.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dungeons_%26_Dragons_controversies

BIG GAMING! Click through to learn more.

Godzilla and Ruination Pron

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Walking out of the latest version of GODZILLA, my son surprised me by saying it was one of his three favorite movies ever.

Now, when I was a kid, giant monster movies were my favorite thing in the whole wide world. I stayed in Saturday afternoons to watch all the giant monster movies, even the boring ones like Vs. The Sea Monster, the kiddie ones like Gamera Vs [Everything] and the shitty ones like Yonggary. I even sat through the musical number of Reptilicus. I didn’t know anyone else who liked them and I knew nothing about words like kaiju or whatever. I watched the movies. I watched the TV shows. I daydreamed about stomping through a city, smashing everything in sight.

But my kid has always had zero interest in this stuff. Does he care about a giant egg washing up on a beach, or miniature women who sing to colossal moths, or a burning flying saucer that turns out to be a spinning turtle? Hell no.

But he does love post-apocalyptic landscapes, and this was a movie for him.

Lots of people like looking at Ruination Pron. Me, too. The latest Godzilla movie is for us.

A lot has been made that the big G doesn’t show up until 60 minutes into the film (although you see glimpses in the first few minutes). What you do see is a lot of shit after it’s destroyed. Wrecked skyscrapers. Smashed cars. Collapsed towers. You even get glimpses of a Japanese town left to decay for 15 years. It’s like something out of a post-apocalyptic video game.

My kid… well, he’s kinda sensitive. Seeing a car with a smashed fender makes him sad. Throwing out socks, even if they have holes in them, is like a betrayal. So, when there’s a smashed cityscape on the screen, it really affects him.

That’s why this is the movie for him. Yeah, there are some monster fights, most of which are pushed to the end of the film. Yeah, there are people running around, stumbling into the monsters’ paths through sheer coincidence. Yeah, there are female characters to be: a) a source of manpain b) helper to the exposition character or c) human symbol of everything our fighting boys are risking their lives for. Yeah, the cinematography is gorgeous.

But the real appeal of the film is the ruination. Bring your favorite urban explorer.

Randomness for Mother’s Day

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1) Map of boys names from around the world. I didn’t see one for girls.

2) Huge 3D printer built ten one-story buildings in one day out of construction waste and cement. The video is cool.

3) Sony wages a brutal 35 year war with record producer over their refusal to pay royalties.

4) New Zealand artists create 3D Sand pictures.

5) Movie Scripts Ranked by Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level. Hey, the higher the reading level of the script, the more critically-lauded you’d expect it to be, right?

6) What are the most overrated and underrated movies?

7) How to tell if you’re reading a gothic, an infographic.

DC Comics is screwing up its movie franchises for no good reason

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Who has asked me to chime in on the DC comics movies? Exactly no one, but it sometimes helps my creative process to talk about what other people ought to do, so here is the slate of movies DC should put into production, along with a little talk about why.

First: there are three ways to measure a comic book character: By how iconic they are, how powerful they are, and how much spandex they have.

Iconic is pretty obvious, I think. Does the general public, the folks who haven’t picked up a comic book since they were eight, recognize the character on sight? That’s a good thing, because you’re not going to make a successful movie if the only people who see it are comics nerds. If you’re going with a character who is not iconic, you’re going to need them to be intriguing at first glance (in the trailer).

Powerful is equally obvious. Superman is obviously the most powerful there is, but the more power they have, the bigger the threats need to be and the more removed it becomes from the casual moviegoer. Batman escaping from prison to deal with a nuke is a nice, low-level James-Bond type plot. Audiences connect better with that sort of story than “It will destroy the world!” type things.

Spandexy might not be terribly obvious, but I think it’s pretty clear. The more you show a superpowered person in comic book clothing, the harder it will be to sell that to general audiences. An iconic character counteracts this, because general audiences only recognize them by their duds, but for characters they haven’t heard of, a goofy spandex suit works against them. So, no one wants a Superman without his red and blues, but Animal Man can GTFO.

Marvel got around this by introducing a bunch of heroes without their spandex. Yeah, Spider-man wore them, but everyone recognizes Spider-man, but the X-Men got stuck into black leathers (because no one cares about Wolverine’s brown and yellow and Cyclop’s yellow trucks are laughable), the Hulk just wears purple pants, and Iron Man is wearing high-tech armor (painted like a sports car). The Iron Man thing worked really well, because he looks so much like spandex in the comics but in the movies he’s very much not. As for Captain America, his comic book suit was an object of derision in the movie.

So, I’m going to say that DC needs to go with some characters who are Iconic and some not, but the Iconic ones are the only ones we get spandex.

Okay, start with the obvious: Continue reading