Monday, September 26, 2005


I entered "Frame by Frame" in this contest in July. At that time, the contest had been open for a couple of months and they only had 15 entries. The deadline was in less than a month (August 15th). So August 15th came and went, and a new notice appeared that the deadline was being extended to September 8th with winners to be announced on September 25th. Frustrating, but I could deal. So I've been itching and twitching for a week, anxiously awaiting the results, and finally, yesterday, the 25th arrives. I go to the site and find out...

that due to the number of high-quality submissions, the results will be delayed until October 5th.

I say again: aaaaaaaarrrghhh!!!

In other news, I sat down to work on my new novel for a couple of hours yesterday, which turned into spending an hour on the new novel and spending an hour or so reading bits of my old one, Blue Falcon. It has some good stuff in it, but I seriously, seriously flubbed the geography in one of the major set-pieces in the book. I have a sniper shooting some folks, then calling in artillery from 200 meters away, but I also mention him being on an adjacent hill, which would be more on the order of 2 kilometers away, I think. And it sucks because otherwise the scene is pretty well-done. But now I'll never be able to read the scene again without focusing on the mistake.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

I Predicted This

After Gillette came out with the Mach 3 (three-bladed razor) and Schick responded with the Quattro (four-bladed razor), I predicted that it was just a matter of time until Gillette would fire back with a five-bladed razor. Guess what?

This makes me happy, not so much because I want a five-bladed razor, but because I want to see Schick come out with a six-blader. I have the perfect name for it: the Schick Sechs. What purer form of marketing could there be than naming your product "sex"?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Prison Break and Lost DVD's

I've been watching Fox's new show Prison Break for three weeks now, and I'm ambivalent. For those of you who don't know what it is, Prison Break is a new TV series about a man who gets himself thrown into a prison he helped design in order to break out of it. His brother is on Death Row, you see, for a crime he didn't commit, and he's due to be executed in a month. So while our hero works to break his brother out of prison, the brother's former girlfriend (a lawyer) is working on the outside to prove his innocence.

I thought the opener was exactly what it should be, stylish and intriguing, setting up lots of threads for future development. I thought the following week's episode (technically episode 3, although it was broadcast in week 2 - episodes 1 and 2 were shown together as a 2-hour premiere "event") developed the threads nicely and added some neat complications. And then episode 4 comes along.

I'm not a Republican, but my views are fairly conservative. So when the show suddenly brings in a crusading anti-death penalty lawyer and adds the concept that the victim of the murder Hero's Brother was framed for was killed by someone in the government becasue the victim was an environmental crusader, I start to worry. I don't need to get preached to by a TV show, especially one produced by Brett Ratner. As long as it's a story of one smart man carrying out a complicated plan to help his brother, I'm on board. It's only when the view widens out into tree-hugger La-la Land, where the heroes are crusading defense lawyers and convicts, and the villains are the government, the cops and Big Oil. Swear to God, if next week they introduce a gay vegan sidekick for the hero and show one of the bad guys wearing fur, I'm quitting the show, no matter how charismatic the star is.

In other news, I got the Lost Season One DVD's so I could get the entire season refreshed in my head before season two starts next week. Although I enjoyed watching the shows all together, I'm a little ambivalent about having bought the DVD's. After all, how many times am I going to watch the whole thing again?

Probably once a season, now that I think of it...

Monday, September 05, 2005

Playing God

I've been playing with Google Earth for a couple of days now, and I think it's totally revolutionary. Basically, it allows you to explore a globe covered with satellite-photography images. You can zoom in from outer space, all the way down to where you can see individual houses, and in some cases, individual cars and even people. You can tilt, pan, and rotate to your heart's content, and you can set it to display 3-D images of terrain features and even buildings, if they have the data set for that city.

The building features could use some improvement; it apparently only uses the dimensions of the base and the elevation to generate buildings, so odd-shaped structures like the Gateway Arch in St. Louis or the Luxor pyramid in Las Vegas display as big rectangular blocks.

The photographs used are not always new. Both the Tulsa images and the Oklahoma City images are at least a year old, I'm guessing, juding from structures that hadn't been built yet when the pics were taken. And the quality is variable, so that you can see individual people in the shots of the Forbidden City in Beijing, but can barely make out the white blob that is my mother-in-law's truck in our driveway. And in some places, you can't even distinguish individual buildings.

But still, overall, it's an amazing experience to just revolve the entire planet with a small movement of your mouse, zoom out to see the entire country, then zoom in to look at individual buildings in moments. We've looked at our house, my mother's house, our old home in Clarksville, TN, my old house and high school in Oklahoma City, my old apartment building in Los Angeles, as well as the USC campus. Someday, I'm going to a fly-by of South Korea, maybe the Himalayas. This is one of those things that everyone I've showed it to has not just liked, but enthused about. In a year, it may be passe', or it may be just replace Mapquest as the tool of choice for finding a destination. Whatever it will be, it's a hell of a lot of fun right now.