Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Musings: FM 2

FM of course stands for Forward Momentum (at least here in this place). But that's just too damn long to write out every week, so - FM #.

Ah, the weekly writing update.

Er, well let me see.

Hey, seems to me last week I started in the middle and never really took much of a look at my sordid beginnings or speculated as to what my sordid end might be.

So, here goes a quick encapsulation of my life as writer. Was born way long ago, grew up in cold climate small northern town, entered puberty, survived cold northern town, went away to post secondary school, started writing, got Engineering degree (cause I could), working now, posting on blog.

Okay. Tried no to make that too long and boring.

Now for timing. Wrote my first real short story “The Bitter Man” way back a couple decades ago. It’s listed on the right side of my Blog under My Short Stories if you want to read it.

Been dabbling ever since with increasing urges to get more serious with the craft. The first three stories listed in My Short Stories section have been published. Some of the others, despite their best efforts, have not. Well except here now on this Blog.

And it also occurs to me that I should have some kind of deadline for my current “big” project – the script I’m writing.

Which is coming along at a fairly good pace, considering I do the full time day job thing and have a busy family life with my wife and child. Oh yah, and post here too.

Oh, and happy birthday Carol! Now you are as old as me – at least on paper.

Currently I am one eighth of the way through writing my script’s first draft. How do I tally this so precisely? Well, I have four pieces of foolscap (notice the “fool” in that last word . . .) with all of the scenes written in for the entire script. I have completed the first draft of the first one half of the first foolscap outline page.

Oh, and each scene in uniformly written out in its condensed version of two lines only. So each page has the same number of scenes scribbled on it.

And due to my unbelievably brilliant mathematical skills, I just know that means I am one eighth of the way through my first draft.

So, with all that written, when will it be completed?

I’m going to be bold here (nobody will hold me to my word anyhow – hey I heard that!) and say the first draft of my script will be completed by March 1st, two thousand and Humpgp, eereyugykk, ahheemmm . . .

Okay, that year was 2006. There it is done. The deadline setting part. (Of course I can always edit this later . . . Muwahahahaaaaa . . .)

What will I do with my script once it is complete? Register it with the screen writer’s guild of course, then flog it till its blood runs clear . . . um, sells. Then decide what my next project will be. I’m thinking a script for a half hour sitcom, then another movie one – a science fiction thriller that has been dancing in my mind for some time.

Need to have a portfolio of materials built up if I, I mean, when I eventually enter the real arena and take on the other dogs . . .

But I’ll see on March 1st next year where this leads.

And my five year plan?

Be alive, be writing, and be happy. That’s it.

Try using that in your next job interview and see how far it gets you.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Musings: Willards Wacky Webcams

Call me the ghost hunter!

Actually call me pretty bored a while back. But, before you pass judgement on the supernatural, or pass water in the urinal, take a boo at some captures I made last year over at Willard's Library and see if it doesn't chill ya - on this warm November day.

Yah, it's plus 14 C here - right now - in late November - Sheesh already.

Well, after much time, I finally captured the Grey Lady of Willard Hall on the webcam. And to prove it what follows is the webcam shot to prove it. Take a look in the circled region on the left and tell me you don't see the ghostly image of the Grey Lady.

I love how Willards pumps crap down their webcam once in a while to keep the hype going . . .

Don't they?

I present to you - The Grey Lady! -

Now on to Willard's Childrens Library and the portal to some black inky spooky portal hole place.








Freaky portal to (?) opens up through the doorway for a while then vanishes.

Pretty neat actually, and just WTF is that through the door anyhow? It sure don't look human shaped to me . . .

And the freak show continued . . . Okay, so it was a mom helping her kid into a snowsuit or something. But it just may have been Shub or Yog . . .

And this last one on on a different day . . .

Er - - - - - Look - no torso or arms or head. Cool! And all shadowy and - Look out Mr. Frodo, it's one of them black riders! . . .

Ahemm.

Um, back to work now.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Musings: Driving Past Creepy

As I drive into work each day I am forced to take an alternate route. It is a route which takes me past a previous work place.

And it’s kinda creepy. Not the work (though that does hold an element of the creeps) but the fact that the place I once haunted is being demolished – literally.

The huge hulking buildings are half torn down and mammoth lumbering machines are sorting the rubble into recyclable piles to be trucked away to burning hot furnaces or landfill sites. And I’m not talking about small buildings where a handful of people worked, but a complex which, in its heyday, contained many hundreds of workers, perhaps even thousands.

Creepy that.

But life is all about change. Changes can be good or bad. And some are just creepy like this one is for me.

I recall working (well being there anyhow) inside the walls of that structure. Some weeks I put in sixty plus hours and seldom got to spend any quality time with my wife. She had to spend her 30th birthday with friends because I was there, in that place, toiling away for coin.

But, like an old pair of shoes, that place is now useless, decomposing and little more than refuse. And my feet, though older, still carry me forward.

Creepy is the feeling I get driving by in the morning. There is a section of building torn away which reveals leviathan metal stamping machines now exposed to the cold and snow. Once they churned out products which were loaded onto rail cars and whisked to factories. Now they stand, like Easter Island statues – exposed and weathering.

Creepy.

Makes me think about the cubicle I’m occupying right now. How long before it too expels its occupant, wastes away, and becomes redundant, torn apart and sold for scrap?

How long before I take my feet and walk another mile leaving the past behind in the shadows and the diesel smoke and piles of broken goods.

Looking back on my way to work, I wonder if it could have been different. If the people who operated that complex had made better choices, were smarter, maybe cared a bit more about humanity and less about profit. Would it still be in ruins today?

Creepy.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Weird Science: Plasma


Today’s exploration is with the fourth state of matter, not the stuff in your blood - both called plasma though.

And I couldn’t help talking about plasma today because I just found the plasma pulse rifle in Doom 3 - and what am I talking about now?

Um, nevermind. Let’s just recap the first three states of matter first.

The first state of matter is solid. Like hard metals. Simple.

The second state of matter is liquid. Like vodka or water. Simple.

The third state of matter is gas. Like, what our bodies create after a good bean meal, or what we breath. Let’s hope the two are not the same - phew!

Which brings us to the fourth state of matter which is plasma. Not so simple, but damn cool (actually very, very hot) and used by science fiction writers for decades. But, what is it in the real world, and how do you make it?

Well, to state it plainly, plasma is a ionized gas. What this means is that once a gas reaches a high enough temperature the atoms making up the gas actually break down and the electrons orbiting them break free. The superheated gas is now in a plasma state - the fourth state of matter. If all the electrons have broken free of their atoms it is considered fully ionized.

So when does this occur?

Well, when a gas reaches temperatures around 3,500 up to 15,000 degree Fahrenheit and higher is when - and that’s plenty hot enough to frag demons in Doom 3 . . .

Um, but plasma, despite science fiction’s use of it, is real and has practical applications other than the fictional plasma pulse rifles . . .

And it can be created in several ways too. The first is using ohmic heating which means passing an electrical charge through the gas to heat it. Another is magnetic compression (this sounds cool enough to be used in plasma pulse rifles . . .) Which is a method of using increasingly strong magnetic fields to compress the gas and thus heat it. And one final method (though there are still more) I will mention is subjecting the gas to shock waves to heat it up.

Okay, but what is it used for?

Some really neat "real" applications are florescent lights, etching substrates for electronic components, chemical reaction stimulation called plasma synthesis as well as laser tubes . . .

And I though to myself, how come if plasma is 3,500 degrees or hotter that florescent tubes don’t burn your fingers to a crisp when you touch them - they are actually less hot to the touch than regular incandescent bulbs?

Well the answer lies in the fact that the florescent tube does not approach such high temperatures because the plasma continuously collides with the walls of the tube thus cooling it.

Yeah, didn’t convince me either, but it’s true.

And I used "thus" twice in this article. Is there some kind of prize for that?

Now, off to collect some more cells for my plasma pulse rifle.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Book Review: Calling Yourself A Writer


If you are a "closet" writer, then this is the book you need to read, and probably one you have never heard about because neither Oprah nor Dr. Phil wrote it. But let me introduce to you—

---Dorothea Helms. She is a local writer (means she lives in my neighborhood) and a wonderfully spirited and inspirational leader, helping other writers overcome all the reasons why they don’t go out and write for a living. Even if you aren’t a writer, the advice in this little book applies to you.

The full title is actually "The Writing Fairy(tm) Guide To Calling Yourself A Writer" if you are going to search it on Amazon.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s short, concise, packed with humour (spelling this the Canadian way) but from the heart. And in this case the heart of a 6 figure writing inspirationalist (Um , is that a word?). Yes, you heard me, over 100,000 dollar income a year for Dorothea. She knows how to make money writing and is trying hard to teach that skill to others. This little book (under 100 pages) is one of those ways.

I don’t want to give away any of her secrets by just blurting them out here, so I’ll kinda encapsulate the joy of her little treasure book. It is worth picking up and reading. It has a positive message, actually many of them, and will leave you feeling empowered to write - for cash!

Dorothea takes you down the road (with funny anecdotes of her own journey) of becoming a writer and the mind set you need to succeed. And it’s done in such a way that before you know it you have finished the book, feeling a whole lot better about yourself and proclaiming yourself a writer.

I’ve written some inspirational posts on writing here on this blog too, and you will find a plethora (love that word) of books on the subject if you look for them - just avoid Oprah and Phil - way too commercial. Yuk!

To end then. This book will not guide you on how to make money writing, but it will inspire and assure you it can and will be done. Bravo Dorothea. Well done. See - you can do it.

And so can we.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Musings: We Are Not Alone!


Well, I guess the E.T.s are finally out of the bag.

Thousands of years of governmental cover-ups - all for naught.

Damn, I was so hoping the secrecy would last a little bit longer.

Still, the US has done a stellar job of keeping their alien observation and research facilities hidden until now.

Case in point: Area 51.

What about the first 50 Areas?

Still safely hidden and secret, that's what. – Shhhhh!

So now what are we going to suspect the government of covering up?

I mean, who’s gonna give a rat’s ass who shot JFK now that we know extra-terrestrials are visiting us.

Still, it’s good to know that open discussions will be taking place about “how to kill” friendly E.T.s. – cause the universe is just too damn small for us all to live in peace with them.

And I may as well come out with it now - I have been in contact with aliens for a long time and don’t have a problem with them – I live in Canada.

Now if we are talking extra-terrestrials not aliens, well our “Ex” Canadian defense (Oxy-moron) minister (minister = sane. Right?) has stated that they are among us and the US is planning to build a base on the moon to combat them.

Don’t believe me, read this article then.

I say why? What’s wrong with a few anal probes, some lost time, screwed up compasses, implants and the occasional cattle mutilation?

And let’s face it, if you were light years from home, saw these great fields of uniform crops from orbit – wouldn’t you get the urge to doodle?

I mean don’t we have a lot more pressing issues right here on our own rock? Much more pressing than a few benign and curious visitors from outer space. What with Yeti’s running wild, the Loch Ness monster still on the loose, and those pesky Chupacabra sucking our goats dry.

I say, let’s take care of those domestic issues before taking to the friendly skies and pestering our galactic neighbors. What real harm have they caused us anyhow?

Well Carl, you were right.

They’re here.

Now where did I put my x-ray glasses?

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Musings: HO Ho ho


ly shit!

If my hair wasn’t firmly attached by middle-aged roots I would have lost it all this morning.

Now, I love winter. Really love it – except . . .

for shoveling snow before going to work.

Which I did this morning.

In gale force winds.

Perfect for one of those Winter commercials selling decongestants.

Perfectly awful for shoveling the driveway. So why is this post of interest to anyone?

Well it’s not. Posts about weather suck, are dull, uninteresting and who-gives-a-shit worthy of no notice.

Still, it was a good thing I fished my boots out of the basement last night and brought the snow shovel in the house from the garage.

Yah, I’m Mr. Think Ahead. You can cheer if you want.

My snow shovel is very light aluminum (no, not transparent) and ergonomically curved so you don’t strain your back while using it. Get one.

Of course the weather this morning was just a tease. A firkin white, flaky, strip-teasing whore.

You see, by Tuesday it’s going to rain – hard. Like a bloody monsoon.

I miss the real Great White North.

Here in the Great Grey Midlands.

Still. I love everything about winter – except the shoveling – before work.

At least I didn’t keel over from a heart attack (Yeah for me.), though I was breathing hard and feeling slightly nauseous afterwards. But I think the nausea came when I realized it was time to head off to work.

It took me almost three times longer than normal to drive in today. Saw three cars in the ditch and witnessed one pretty good accident.

The ultimate cure – hot tea and raison bread with butter.

Hey – get your own!

Posting about the goddamn weather.

Pretty lame.

Tomorrow tune in for - “What I ate for breakfast”

And the day after I’ll chronicle - “The Second Bowel Movement of my Intestinal Symphony”

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Musings: Forward Momentum 1


I’m going to start a cheesy numbering system today for my Wednesday update posts. But I though, hey, when I’m rich, famous and sailing the Bahamas in my Hydroplaning Party Cruiser I can look back - sequentially - and follow the trail of my successes to point B.

And that is a pretty good impression of the Spock-raised-eyebrow you are sporting there. So, I’ll cut the crap and get straight to the poop. Hope you aren’t eating breakfast, like cocoa puffs . . .

Digression. Love it, live it and it doesn’t tell you a bloody thing about my writing adventures for the week. So, after this slight delay -

Oh two other quick things.

I was going to make these new Wednesday postings "Dear Diary", but all my twisted mind kept transmogrifying it into was "Dear Diarrhea" so, hence "Forward Momentum (#)" instead.

Again, sorry if you had a mouth full of soggy cream-o-wheat.

The second title I was thinking of was "Captain’s Log", and yes again my twisted mind kept coming up with toilet bowl images, etc.

Um, er, here is my update.

Had a good spell on the script this past week. Managed to write out another five scenes, complete with snappy dialogue, interesting settings, love interests, love denied and no feces references at all. Well, maybe not exactly that but I got five more pages written. So, doing the advanced mathematics (calculator optional) that would be a scene a page.

And I only screwed with my morning writing time twice - but I have the chain gun now, and well, it’s just so damn cool fragging imps and zombies with it. Ahem . . .

Actually I am pretty satisfied with the whole script so far (it is completely stepped out). I am writing the first draft fairly quickly, but it has been an adjustment from short stories and novels for sure.

And, I’ll mention this again - Movie Magic Screenwriter - is the kick-ass, best, script writing tool you will ever have. If you are at all interested in writing scripts, you need this piece of software. It saves me so much time. Pay the cash, get the software if you are going to write a script. You will drive yourself insane using a word processor and this piece of software has so many other script related tools - it’s just a screenwriter’s dream.

Okay, something I haven’t done in about sixteen years (no, not sex - I’m married and my kid is 6 so, um, you do that math) - I took a course.

Actually it was a writer’s workshop on how to make money writing. Now at the sound of sounding know-it-all I didn’t really learn too much from the course. It was geared specifically at non-fiction paying markets and how to get your writing sold there. Fact is, the process is almost a carbon copy of fiction land, a place I have been well acquainted with for over ten years.

Tidbits though, I will share. The lady, (I won’t name her but she is wonderfully optimistic and a great motivator) makes about 140 thousand a year writing non-fiction. The query letter is the key (already knew this) since it is the first thing the editor, or slush pile reader, sees. If it is great, you will be called upon for work.

Other things gleamed were the sheer number of writing assignments out there in everything from advertizing to brochures to real-estate to newspapers and magazines. There are literally hundreds of thousands of places to ply your craft - it you have the guts to send out your work. All good news for the prospective writer wondering how to pay for that cardboard box on the street corner.

The course left me kind of depressed though, until I figured out why. I am not interested in selling out my writing to corporate markets. I already have a day job in where I do that. So, I’m sticking to my fiction guns for the time being, with maybe an eye towards some humor markets once my script is finished and making the rounds.

Of course I can change my mind and will be open to all opportunities to write. Another piece of advice from the course - tell everyone you meet you are a writer - and have a card. Doors that would otherwise remain closed, or unseen, may spring open if you make yourself known. Not a great piece of advice for us introverts, but basic human interaction at some level does need to take place if you want to be a writer and sell your work.

In the writing world, the key is to keep moving forward, reading, learning new things and sending your writing out to markets. If you do this consistently you will succeed in the end.

The tortoise does win the race in the long haul, unless, of course, he gets run over by a transport while crossing the freeway - then likely not.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Musings: Mega Bots


I’m amused as I look over just who is silly enough to visit this chunk of binary combinations made comprehensible to the human brain.

Amused because it would appear that Bots outnumber humans in visitations here to this place. Kinda like what we are doing with Mars, though I am not implying my Blog is like Mars – or am I. Virtually uninhabited except for pseudo-intelligent roving machines gathering and transmitting data to human operators.

The internet, so I always assumed, was populated by people browsing for something entertaining, useful, maybe even making connections to others in many different ways.

But what do I see with mine human eyes? Bots by the millions (well not here, I exaggerate) and people much less so. The machine age is truly upon us. Algorithms rule the electronic pathways and we humans must take second place – take our feeds from what machines leave for us to grasp.

It is the only way. There is so much data being spewed forth every day it boggles the mind – but not the Bots. They don’t care. They visit, index, record, display - but to what end?

I read recently that around 70,000 Blogs are created every single day. Try, if you will, to comprehend this number. If every one of those Blogs held only 250 words, that would be a staggering 17 billion, 500 million words a day posted out here in cyber-space.

A human reading one page a minute would take around 48 days to read one day’s worth of postings, and that would be at the exclusion of all else. Try reading 24 hours straight and see where you end up – most likely hooked to a machine keeping you alive.

Enter the Bots.

They have us beat. Cold, efficient and emotionless. Only they have the capability to try and organize the mass of data out here. Sure we program them, but they do the work, distill the overload, and condense the density.

I wonder if I should type a bunch of 1s and 0s randomly and see if some Bot can figure it out. All those wonderful algorithms are meant to decipher chaos.

And I sometimes wonder what a machine gets out of reading my Blog. Do I entertain them, annoy them or simply make them crunch 1s and 0s and display something comprehensible for those human eyes which happen to pass along the growing data stream?

Maybe one day I will ask them.

Maybe one day they will respond on their own.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Weird Science: Speed Of Sound


Sound wave velocity is not a constant. Sound waves depend very much on which medium (no not the ones channeling spirits) they travel through. Through gases they travel slowest, in vacuum not at all since there must exist some medium to transmit sound, through water very quickly and steel and quartz even faster.

So what is a sound wave anyhow? Well, it is roughly described as a vibration in an elastic medium (such as air, water or steel) that is heard by the human ear. So, when a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it - it, by this definition, did not create sound waves and hence didn’t make any sound.

Don’t sweat it - it will drive you crazy.

So just how fast do these sound waves that we hear actually travel? Okay, through air they travel about 1,130 feet/second if the air is at sea level pressure and around 72 degrees F. Now, transmit the same sound waves through water and they race along at 4,800 feet/second, and in steel this jumps to 16,000 feet/second and finally in quartz all the way up to 18,000 feet/second.

Pretty fast huh? Well, compared to light it is a complete slug since light travels at around 186,300 miles/second or 669,600,000 miles/hour. Sound, on the other hand, travels through air at around 740 miles/hour.

That makes light speed around 904 million times faster than sound.

And that is why, when you see a flash of lightening in the distance, you don’t hear the sound until after, sometimes quite a long time after depending on the distance of the lightening flash.

There are also some interesting properties of the human ear in relation to what sounds can be heard, but that is for another day.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Fantasy Book Review: Xone Of Contention

Xone Of Contention
I seem to need a fix of pun-ishment every once in a while, and for that I need look no further than an Xanth novel by Piers Anthony.

Can you believe this is number 25 in his long running series? And yes, I am a sucker for puns and light stories housing heavy themes.

This particular Xanth outing deals with prejudice and environmental issues - and if you have a problem with books that are kinda preachy about issues, I would suggest avoiding Pier’s stuff. It is pretty obvious and in your face (in an Xanthian fun way) , but the message is valid and what Piers has to tell us is pretty spot on. Still, it can annoy some though it doesn’t really bother me.

And yes, his Xanth novels are always brimming with ample panty flashes, full cleavage, nubile young female bodies and adult conspiracy theories. Some have a problem with this too. Again, if you do, don’t read it.

So, is this book worth reading? Hmm. I have been reading Xanth novels since "Ogre Ogre" was published - yeah that long. I like them, I really do but the series is not for all and maybe getting a little stale for some. Still, I find them light (except for the underlying themes, which are more on the surface) and entertaining.

In this one we learn more about the demon Xanth and spend some time looking at Mundania through visiting Xanthian’s eyes, and visa versa. All in all a good romp if a little less structured than some previous novels of in the series.

We get all the regular fun - a trip to Good Magician’s Humphrey’s castle and it’s impediments plus recurring characters when they are appropriate. To be honest, there are so many now I kind of lose track of them, but it’s only because I don’t read them one after the other. That way would lead to severe pun-ishment, and while I like them - I am not that crazy.

Yes, I will return to the Xanth novels as many times as Piers wants to write them.

To me they are just plain clean, naughty fun - a heck of a lot better than day to day Mundania.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Musings: 50 Less 40


So I wakes up this morning and I asks myself, should I play 50 questions?

And answers myself - no. That’s too many.

Then hows about 10 questions?

Sure I answers myself – Sure, I can handle that.

Okay then.

Question 1) What is you favorite color?

Hmmm. Let me think. Redshift is my fav.

Huh?

Is that even a color?

Sure, it’s red that’s kinda shifted.

Yeah, okay.

Question 2) What is your favorite ice cream?

I’m thinking Vanilla, like Vanilla Sky.

Question 3) What is your favorite car?

Saturn. That was easy. Next.

Question 4) Have you ever felt the urge to harm rodents?

At work sometimes, yeah. Oh, did you mean “real’ rodents like mice and rats? Oh, then the answer is no.

Question 5) If you were Ghandi, would you wear more cloths?

Is he still alive, cause if not this question is kinda moot. But, I think it depends on climate. What kind of dumb question is that anyhow?

Look, I’ll ask the questions, you just answer.

Question 6) If a train was traveling west at 50 miles---

Not answering that one.

What - I haven’t finished asking it yet.

Don’t care. Okay, the answer is twenty minutes, five seconds.

Right. How did you know?

Is that Question seven?

No.

How am I supposed to know?

Cause the question will be asked like so . . .

Question 7) If you were stranded on a desert island, what brand of underwear would you want?

Besides fresh?

Ya.

The kind you pull a cord from and they inflate into a lifeboat.

Never heard of them.

Do the answers have to be real?

I’ll ask, you answer.

Question 8) Ever want to fly under your own power.

Yes

Is that it? Just yes?

Yes.

Question 9) When do you get up in the morning?

You already answered the question within the question. Morning of course.

No, I meant what time.

Then why didn’t you say “what time do you get up in the morning” then?

Nevermind, on to the last and most important question.

Go ahead.

Question 10) Have you ever felt like more than one person was living inside your head.

No, never. That’s just plain ridiculous.

Have you ever considered therapy?

Hey, I’ve answered ten. It’s over.

But---

I’m going to go make some coffee.

Fresh ground or---

I’m not listening to you anymore.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Musings: D3 In 3D


Okay, so I’ve been goofing off the last couple days skragging zombies and imps. It’s just that I’ve never seen such detail in a game before and it’s kinda freaky – and highly addictive. It is the next best to watching a movie – only you are in it, up to your knees in it, if you know what I’m talking about.

And if you haven’t played Doom 3, then you don’t really know of what I speak. And the screen shots of the game don’t do a thing to show you how photorealistic and atmospheric it is. And the shotgun, bless it steel chambered heart, reloads way too slowly. At least it seems like it in the heat of battle with imps frying your ass and zombies trying to make a meal of your intestines . . .

It’s not that I’ve done no writing; it’s just that some of my time that should be spent on writing has turned into gathering PDA information and getting to the next checkpoint to hear what advice sergeant Kelly has to offer. That slug is probably holed up somewhere surrounded by security bots protecting his sorry ass.

Err, it’s not real – the game I mean. And this slight distraction will go away once I enter hell and frag the big bad. Um, is this turning into a game review? And just how did I get in this fix? Well . . .

You see, it all started when I had this great idea. My friend had a copy of Doom 3, and I had a copy of Thief: Deadly Shadows, and I though, hey, why don’t we swap games since we hadn’t played the others yet. Good or bad move depending on your perspective.

The gamer in me says – Yeah baby, great move. Save on cash, play two fantastic games.

The writer in me says – Oh, shit, why do I do this to myself? I’m on a timeline here and writing should talk number one spot to the exclusion of all else . . .

I recall, years ago, reading about Piers Anthony. He talked about how he would never have become a writer if computer games existed when he was starting out. Way too fraking distracting. Now I know what Piers was talking about.

Crap - I may be Doomed . . .

It will certainly be one of my biggest hurdles moving forward in life, but one I know I can overcome. Just like I can defeat that demonic rat bastard boss in hell with the BFG . . .

Er, enough for now. I . . .

must continue to the next level of my career.

(Yeah, you can kinda read that two ways, now can’t you? . . .)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Musings: Updates And Such

What is this? Where is the fraking short story!

Er, well . . .

And what’s with the lack of a post picture today, hey? What’s with that?

Er, well . . .

Hey, I pay no money to come here but I expect a short story on Wednesday. So cough it up, or I’m out of here.

Er, well . . . You see, it’s not that I don’t have any short stories left to post. It’s just that the ones I have left are rather long. Quite long, so incredibly hugely long you really can’t fathom just how hugely long they are . . .

Er, well. So, no short story today, and no really long story today either. Instead, for your viewing pleasure, I bring you an update and such of what I am doing in writer land.

Update: Working hard at my movie script. And if you think writing a movie script, when you have never written one before, is easy, well, not so. I’m finding it pretty strange actually as it is a medium very unlike the short story or novel because it is so minimalist.

You can’t direct the picture, you can’t give the actors too many, if any, acting directions. You need to rely on the story and plot and dialogue. And nothing else. If that is good, you have a winner. If it sucks, well, after the first draft you should be able to tell. You need to re-write many times over anyhow.

But, I didn’t just sit down and decide to write a script. Well, maybe I sort of did, but the point here is I planned this thing long and hard. Maybe not like operation Overlord, but damn close. So, as a point of reference, I have eight pages of the first draft written so far, and am getting a bit more comfortable with the style of writing.

And I’m using Movie Magic Screenwriter. Absolutely the most awesome time saving script writing software around. Doing a script in a word processor is for masochists. If you are at all serious about writing scripts I suggest you get this program. Worth every penny, trust me.

So when will I be done, you ask?

Er, well . . . That’s hard to answer. Like, what is your five year plan? Five year plan. My plan - be alive. That’s it. Well, maybe selling major works of fiction and/or non-fiction by then too.

Looks like I’ll need to update my posting schedule today as well since it is changing. But, life is change. And change is good. Repeat that to yourself. (Maybe this will distract them from not having a short story to read . . .)

You may see the occasional short fiction on Wednesdays again, but my script is priority one for the time being. I'll keep myself and the world updated on Wednesdays now on my progress with major projects, writing submission, rejections, and such.

Er, well . . . After I finish Doom 3 that is. (Just kidding)

Back to my work now. (Now what is that locker combination so I can get the BFG?)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Musings: The ConFeeDance


Three things the writer needs. Let me explain in three easy steps how to allow your inner world to become your outer world. It’s a blast.

Step 1) The Con – You would be surprised how vulnerable your mind is to suggestions. Not me, you say. I can’t be controlled by others. Maybe. But what I’m referring to here are not suggestions from others but the suggestions you make for yourself about yourself. "I suck – I’m no good – I can’t do it" Ever hear yourself saying this about yourself? It happens to all of us, but there is a cure. You can mend your self-defeating ways.

Become an artist – A Con Artist. The more you tell yourself "I’m great – I’m good – I can do it" the more your inner self will start to be "Conned" into believing it. And why shouldn’t your inner mind believe it – It’s true. And you will be surprised what you get accomplished with this attitude. Think of it this way. Nobody in this universe can be better at being you, than you. Your perspective is special, unique, valuable. You are great, good and you can and will do it. But don’t let me tell you – tell yourself!

Step 2) The Fee – Once part 1 is set in motion step 2 should kick in not long after. I used the word "valuable" above. And it is true. There is only one you, only one person in all the world with your outlook on whatever it is you write. That is so very special I can’t even explain it properly. Call it ineffable, if you like. But I will say, you are worth it. You write. You should share with others, and the best way to do that is to get your voice out there and get published. You can do it, and others will pay you for it. Yes, you are worth every penny.

So step 2 is go out there and get laid! Ulm, paid. Hell, do both!

Step 3) The Dance – step 3 brings us to the dance. This is important and it can be done alone or with others, but you should do it. Celebrate your life, your rejections (you are getting them, no?) your acceptances (best feeling in all the world for a writer – well maybe not as good as sex, but a damn close second) ever word you write. Ever watch Snoopy celebrating? Do it. Dance. Rejoice. Your unique, wonderful, inner world is yours to share, benefit from and celebrate. You should be happy and proud of it.

So, put all three steps together and you have The ConFeeDance!

I don’t think I need to spell it properly for you to see.

Get Writing.

Get Paid.

Get Happy.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Weird Science: Syzygy


Don’t you want to be the first person to throw down this combination in a scrabble game, gloat and suck up over 100 points? I mean three letter y’s and one z, how rare is that?

It is pronounced (sizz-eh-jee) just in case you want to impress others orally as well as the scrabbley (okay, don’t try using that word during the game - I just made it up) types. You could, you know, just throw it into a casual conversation - maybe on a first date, while ordering coffee at the drive through, or when your Astrophysics’s professor asks you a question.

Um, then again, your Astrophysics professor will know what it means, so maybe try it on your Math teacher instead.

And you know what’s so cool? My WordPerfect spell checker didn’t even hick-up when I typed this word out.

What’s that? Oh, what does it mean?

Well, it’s really quite simple, so simple in fact I had to fluff out this piece and stall, because otherwise this post would be so short the picture would take up more space than my eloquent prose . . .

Hey that was a pretty good eye roll - worthy of the late Marty Feldman.

Okay, you’ve waited long enough.

It means a configuration of three celestial bodies which lie together in a straight line.

One such configuration would be the Sun, Earth and the Moon during a solar eclipse.

I know, the word itself is much neater than it’s meaning.

Oh, and one little tidbit more (fluffing out the piece as it were). If the Moon is on the other side of the Earth during a syzygy between the Earth, Sun and Moon, it is called an opposition.

But that word, unless placed extremely well, won’t bag you as many points as syzygy.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Mystery Book Review: Strip Jack

Strip Jack
Murder most foul!

Not this time from Ian Rankin. Well not right away anyhow.

This time it’s a cock-up in a brothel. And the bloke caught with his trousers down is none other than a local MP. We see through Rebus’s eyes a group of friends who have grown up more or less together and what they have become. Some good, some bad and a few pretty ugly. Great stuff that just keeps getting better.

Another absolute delight of a Rebus mystery and true to form the complexity of the story twists and turns like a mountain road all the way to the precipitous ending. I was faked out a few times and even once ten pages before the end of the book. I love it.

And I found myself many times just as interested in Rebus’s latest "girlfriend" and whether he should move in with her or not or get back together with Gill, than the investigation going on. Fascinating. And as usual, Rebus has a sharp tongue, a discerning eye and quite a few shots of whiskey as well - adulterated to boot.

Ian Rankin manages to weave a murder mystery around Rebus and his personal life so well it is hard to tell where one begins and the other leaves off. A very well crafted, and far less grotesque (if that is what you like - I prefer the more grotesque myself) novel than the previous 3 in the Rebus series. But a winner all the way.

Yes, I am going back again to this series, to book five, because I’ve got to know -

- SPOILERS -

How Rebus’s hair will grow back?

How will his moving in with Patience pan out.

And will he ever get rid of that piece of shit of a car he owns?

- END SPOILERS -

But of course if it all works out for Rebus, we the readers, will surely be pissed. Part of the great fun is taking the ride with Rebus and seeing just where he will end up.

What a wonderful series and a great Inspector.

I can’t wait too long to read the next one. Well maybe two or three other books in-between.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Musings: On Course


“Full steam ahead, captain!”

*Awkward silence*

“Err, captain - what about icebergs?”

“Fuckem. This ship is unsinkable.”

“But sir –“

“Shut up and do as you are told.”

(Insert fork in the road)

First Mate has a choice - but which one will he make?

Choice 1 - listen to his captain, shut the fuck up and pour the coals to the engines – large blocks of floating ice-death be damned.

Choice 2 – Tell the captain he is a bearded asshole and too many lives are at stake – and one of those lives is his own.

So, Choice 1) “Aye aye, captain.” *Wishes here were not driving the Titanic so fast, but shuts up and does what the fuck he is told.*

Or, Choice 2) “Captain, what’s that to port? Look.” *picks up blunt object and clocks asshole across the head, tosses him off ship and throttles back.*

Yeah, and what if the first mate is wrong? Well, so what, that captain was a jackass and deserved to be traumatized with a blunt object anyhow.

The point here is the First Mate is doing what his heart and mind are telling him to, not what somebody else is. See the diff?

Now, on to the personal (that would be me) part of this post. I’m on course to fulfill my destiny – may be complete with light saber duels, sweating blood, eating moldy bread, but mostly having fun and earning cash for my writing labors. I deserve it!

No, this Blog won’t go away. I’ll still pump it full of free content – and have you noticed the distinct lack of pop-up shit and Google adds? It's on purpose. I will not go there. My aim is to entertain on this Blog, not make money from it – so relax. You can send me money if you like – but I’m not asking for it.

I’ve mentioned before that I am currently script writing. The short stories you see here are ones I have pumped out over the last (oh, Christ – twenty years?) and are meant to entertain. If they haven’t, then you have entered the wrong site. If they have, then stick around – more to come.

Now back to me. I’m part way into my first movie script and having a blast. And in two weeks I am taking a course on how to get my prolific self some money by selling my writing talents across this globe. Now for you, the reader, this may be no big deal. But for me, the writer, it is the difference between being dead in cubicle hell or living life with vigor and giddy sanity.

I recently came to my fork in the road, grabbed it, broke off all the prongs and went my own way - the way my mind and heart direct.

What a liberating and necessary step in one’s life. The next time some “captain” tells you what to do, don’t blindly obey but size up the situation and make up your own mind. You will be so very happy you did, believe me.

And it is never, ever too late. Okay, death is too late - but you know what I mean.

Exercise your passions, strive for what makes you happy and earn a living doing it. You will be unable to believe that you were actually alive before.

Nuff preachy shit.

I have a career to make.

I am a writer.

And I love it.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Short Story: Glory Days Gone By


Pastiche.

Something you serve on toast?

No.

But something I spent a good deal of time cooking up from Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos Pantheon.

This short story is no exception.

The modern world is rapidly decaying - you would think this perfect timing for a web clawed god to ascent. Yeah. Alas, no.

Ia Ia! Or should that be Oye, Oye!


Glory Days Gone By
by Paul Darcy

From the unfathomable depths of a dank cave slithered a horror beyond the sanity of humanity. A vast amorphous jellified shape, fifteen feet round, reeking of rotting fish and raw sewage, undulated ominously towards the cave mouth overlooking an antediluvian seashore. Its odious shapeless form sprouted uncountable pseudopods like a titanic sea anemone.

Suddenly, with unnatural speed, the syrupy, sponge-like blob leapt upwards with one tumultuous contraction and snatched a sailing frisbee from the air in its oily tentacular grip. Tossing the frisbee from pseudopod to pseudopod with uncanny dexterity, it shrieked, "Tekeli-li, Tekeli-li." The hideous sound, half voice, half flatulence, issued forth from some unseen orifice and sounded like a church organ in desperate need of tuning. After many intricate tricks, the undulating blob spun the frisbee towards the beach head and the monstrous shape waiting there to receive it.

Dagon plucked the frisbee roughly from the air. "Show-off," he growled. His partner, quivering like a bowl of jelly, sensed Dagon’s foul mood and slunk away from the cave mouth and crouched like a spoiled pudding in the shadows.

Play time was over. Dagon hurled the frisbee back into the dank cave and stalked away down the beach, stopping only to check the alignment of the stars. He had procrastinated long enough. It was almost time.

The Esoteric Order of Dagon was purportedly holding its grandest ceremony in decades on the docks of Innsmouth this night and Dagon had decided to attend the festivities personally. It had been a very long time since he had made a personal appearance and this particular night marked the one thousandth year since the order was founded to worship him.

Mother Hydra, always a nag, urged him not to go. "What if it’s a trap," she warned, as if he weren’t old enough to look after himself or think of these things for himself.

He hated when Mother Hydra treated him like a child, planting silly notions in his head. A trap indeed. Still, with the advent of global communications, knowledge of himself, Yog, Shub and the others was ever growing, and the threat of capture or ambush was greatly increased.

But Dagon would not lie low and hide. It was time to show himself again, instill a bit of fear into his worshipers. It would do them good. True, it had been a few decades since he had attended one of these soirees, and the technology of the puny humans had increased since then. But he was Dagon: king of the sea, ruler of the waves, the big fish. What had he to fear from these insignificant beings and their technological toys. And the Deep Ones, ever cavorting beyond the riptides were at his beck and call.

The dilapidated buildings of Innsmouth huddled around the jaw of the bay like decaying teeth. Scum, seaweed, garbage and crumpled pop cans clogged the small desolate cove. Several crooked docks resembling nothing more than felled and rotting trees lay sprawled in the stagnant waters. Dagon hid below the fetid ocean surface a hundred feet out from the main dock; only his fish eyes broke the ocean’s surface. The wait was incredibly boring, but it wouldn’t do to be found sitting on the dock, legs crossed, twiddling his thumbs like a vagrant loitering in a bus shelter.

Appearances were everything. He had to rise menacingly from the waves, striking terror into the hearts of all those foolish enough to gaze directly upon him. Of course, all he cared about was rending and devouring hapless victims, and if this was to be the grandest ceremony in decades, then the sacrifices would be plentiful, plump and tasty. Dagon’s mood improved as he thought of ripe juicy human flesh ripping between his teeth.

Licking his lips, Dagon checked the stars. In a short time their alignment would be perfect, but a few minutes remained. Out of boredom, he gazed towards the center of the universe where a certain point of light was visible this time of year. Azathoth was there, twinkling like the mass of chaos and stupidity that he was, surrounded by mad pipers twittering in that roiling chaos, playing melodies the blind idiot couldn’t hear or fathom. What a joke on the universe, Azathoth so powerful and as stupid as a stick.

A flash of light brought Dagon from his musings. A procession was shambling down the streets from the Esoteric Order of Dagon. His faithful, if foolish, followers. What was it with all this shambling anyhow? Had all his worshipers become idiots and forgotten how to walk? Maybe he should have stayed home. But no, that would have played into Mother Hydra’s claws and he hated that most of all.

As the procession drew closer, Dagon perceived that the leading figure was an absolute buffoon. With his cloak pulled all the way over his head, grimy tome clutched in one hand, torch held aloft in the other, he resembled nothing so much as a deranged monk. He even wore sandals with white socks. This was the cream of his worshipers? This to be the culmination of a thousand years of worship. Disgusting. Rolling his fish eyes in disbelief, Dagon scanned the procession trying to determine who amongst them were sacrifices. No nubile, scantily clad women or chubby little children were obvious under all the dark, tightly cinched cloaks. How he craved the good old days when his followers babbled a few meaningless phrases, tossed down their juicy sacrifices and left shrieking in terror.

The worshipers arrived at the docks. The show was beginning.

Dagon stayed hidden until he heard the worshipers maniacally scream his name. The lead figure was gyrating and tossing about on the rotten dock like an intoxicated whirling Dervish with an inner ear infection, a tome gripped firmly in his hand as if it were a part of his arm. The torch in his other arm flew around wildly trailing sparks like a comet. Dagon rolled his eyes in disgust once more, then rose from the waters. Striking his most fearful pose, he scowled, then strode ominously toward the congregation of his pathetic followers. "Let it end soon," he muttered.

The twirling leader stopped when Dagon neared. Several worshipers fell on their faces; some fled screaming. Dagon tried to suppress a smile. He loomed above the worshipers, exposing his head and shoulders and inhaled mightily. His chest expanded outward and with a breath smelling more foul than a hundred overflowing outhouses he bellowed, "Gethug, uguog uka uka yug yug!" It was a language beyond time, a language beyond space, one never taught to man, the language of a select and elite set of ancient gods. It literally meant, "Come on. Come on. Give me the goods, I haven’t got all night."

The leader crouched into a ball and the remaining worshipers followed suit. Dagon waited irritably. By the slimy tentacles of Cthulhu himself, what nonsense was this? He heard the clinking of metal. Their cloaks hid something. Where were the nubile women, the plump children? This was not right. Finally the leader stood up and the tome slipped from his fingers. It dropped with a wet smack to the dock and its cover tore off. Underneath Dagon could see gold letters on a red cover, ‘Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language.’ This was no ancient tome of forbidden knowledge.

Suddenly the leader threw back his hood and held aloft a green glowing five pointed star. The flaming eye in the center of the repugnant symbol glowed orange, giving Dagon an instant headache.

"Oh, this is great," the fish god mumbled. It was a stinking trap. The other fake worshipers were busy tossing aside their cloaks and assembling shining metal sticks. He backed away from the dock. Gunfire erupted. Hundreds of pinpoints of pain stabbed into his hide. Immediately he ducked under the water and dove powerfully toward the pylons holding the rotting dock in place. Dagon was really pissed. He could picture Mother Hydra in her annoying ‘I told you so’ voice when he got back to the cave tonight. She would never let him live this one down.

Infuriated, Dagon summoned the strength of ten whales and rammed the forward pylons of the dock. They splintered like twigs. With his powerful legs he thrust upwards under the dock, propelling it mightily into the air and ripping it asunder. The fake worshipers were flung high and Dagon vented his anger on a couple of them. He swatted so powerfully that they left his claws a mangled, pulped mess. He roared with rage as more gunfire started from the shore. Then, several explosions blasted water into vapor close by him and he knew it was time to retreat.

Dagon stuck two talons into his mouth and blew a horrible warbling whistle louder than any seagoing freighter’s foghorn. The water roiled around Devil’s reef as hundreds of Deep Ones came to his summons. As he was about to submerge, he saw a flaming projectile streaking his way. Dagon couldn’t duck fast enough. Whatever it was hit his shoulder, exploding with a deafening concussion. He belly-flopped ungracefully. How humiliating.

Safely under the water, and with hundreds of Deep Ones swimming past him towards shore, Dagon examined his shoulder. Some flesh had been ripped and he heard a ringing in his left ear, but otherwise he would recover. As he swam out to sea, he reflected on the deterioration of modern times: blasphemous books were churning out of publishing houses by the thousands in mass market paperback editions; Elder Signs were spitting off assembly lines and sold to youngsters as toys in supermarkets; every puny human who wanted an automatic weapon could get one over the counter; he and his kind were frowned upon more and more and worshiped less and less. And that most irrepressible invention, the computer, made it possible for humans from all over the world to converse with each other and uncover all the secrets he and his kind had struggled so long to keep hidden.

Where would it end?

If technology kept jumping he and every one of the others would probably end up in a zoo. ‘Look, Daddy there’s Dagon,’ some snotty nosed little brat would say, tossing a fish through the bars of his cage as if he were a bloody circus dolphin. ‘I want to go look at Yog-Sothoth. Can I have a Yog-Sothoth bubble machine? Please, Daddy? Can I? And after can we go to the Shub Niggurath petting zoo. The thousand goats are so cute. Can I have one, please Daddy? I’ll take it for a walk every day.’ What was the world coming to? Oh, Dagon wished he could be asleep like Cthulhu deep under the ocean, not a care in the world, or blissfully unaware like that idiot Azathoth.

When he arrived at his cave under the sea, Mother Hydra was waiting for him and knitting, her human thigh bone needles clicking. Dagon hid his damaged shoulder from her view. She spun both of her frog eyes in his direction, but instead of reproaching him, simply stated, "Shub called."

Dagon, after his bad night, barked back, "What did she want? Not baby sitting, again? "

"Actually, yes," Mother Hydra answered, putting aside her work, "but I told her no, since we are going on a vacation."

"We are?" Dagon was surprised. Perhaps he had judged Mother Hydra too harshly. "I mean, that sounds like a good idea. After what I witnessed tonight, I need a vacation. A very long vacation."

Dagon stomped to his room and began to pack. He was almost annoyed that Mother Hydra hadn’t badgered him. The stars may be right but puny man had advanced too far, become to smart, outlived the need for he and the others. Perhaps his and the others time was coming to an end. Damn but it had been good while it lasted.

Water dripped from the cracked cave ceiling and fell on his head. He slid open a drawer of rock and it rumbled like thunder. Dagon packed his things. He needed to escape modern man and his toys. Perhaps in time they would revert back to the old ways through some cataclysm. Until then he would wait, bide his time, enjoy his extended vacation.

These modern times couldn’t last forever. After all, he had outlived the Atlantians, hadn’t he?

The End.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Musings: K.M.A.


It was not a sunny day, nor a rainy day, but a day much like any other day inside the big walls of corporate cubicle hell.

But something made this otherwise ordinary day extraordinary. A certain unnamed individual (manager of course) decided to take it upon himself to piss me off.

Manager: One who appears to know what he is doing on the surface, can bullshit like a politician, dress like GQ and impress other lower life forms with equal savvy, make good use of supple lips and flexible knees for under-the-desk discussions with those above him on the corporate ladder, but otherwise dumb as a stick, vindictive, short-sighted and about as useful as tits on a bull.

Oh, I forgot. This post may contain swear words and appear like venting. But, as you already know me, I am mostly making with the fun . . . (yes that is steam rising from my shirt collar)

So, unnamed manager runs to his boss and, after a quick under-the-desk supple lip exercise, informs (like the greasy, weasel-like, cowardly informant that he is) that myself and another are spending too much time on breaks. Yes, the sky is falling. Does this remind anyone of a Kindergarten playground yet, with the exception of under-the-desk exercises, except maybe to innocently find a dropped pencil or eraser?

Now after being informed by my own boss (yes shit and other materials do tend to run downhill) that we are being watched by said useless weasel piece of shit (trying to be objective here - am I succeeding?) my day took on a totally knew meaning and the light I knew to be turned on somewhere deep down in my soul actually started to shine through again like it hadn’t since I started in cubicle hell.

Now we were told by our manager (see description of manager above if you happened to have missed it) not to worry about it. Yeah, don’t worry about it. No sweat, I’ll just forget all about the fact that some overpaid useless ladder-climbing asshole suck-up money-draining weasel bastard is riding my ass for his own pleasure . . .

Then it dawned on me. Yes, it all became clear to me. My shining soul, banished in darkness for almost two decades finally tunneled through to the surface and bitch slapped me upside the head. The true meaning of Christmas . . . No, that’s not it.

My soul can be facetious, but that’s why I like it.

No actually it informed me of the meaning of life. And I adopted a whole new acronym for my existence outside and inside cubicle hell.

K.M.A.

Simple as that. Three little words that will carry me through and make good my ultimate escape from cubicle hell and into something I love to do. And those three words for outside corporate cubicle hell are . . .

Keep. Moving. Ahead.

And inside corporate cubicle hell. I think if I tell you the first word is Kiss, you can puzzle out the rest.

And to be fair to the little shithead manager, he did have one use - to bring me to the realization that I will no longer waste my life and imprison my soul doing something I hate. But, since he didn’t know he helped, he is still a useless corporate weasel piece of shit.

I feel so much better now . . .

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Weird Science: Michelson-Morley


Now you may think that Albert Michelson and Edward Morley were the inspirations for M&M chocolates - but that would be wrong (M and M chocolates were named after their inventors, Forrest Mars and Bruce Murrie) Anyhow, Michelson and Morley weren’t as much interested in chocolate as they were in light’s behavior - and began to experiment on it.

Their experiment with light did lead to one of the greatest inspirations of all time though (Space- time actually). By this I mean the general theory of relativity as concocted by Albert Einstein. But I’m leaping ahead at light speed, so I need to slow down and explain a little first.

Let’s go back in time now about one hundred and twenty years. People of that time had no microwave ovens, MP3 players or Tim Horton coffee outlets. This did not make them idiots, in fact it gave them opportunities to futz around with ideas and experiment on the unknown without the interference of refined chocolate or Reality TV. But of course people futzing around with the unknown hasn’t ever changed, so is irrelevant here.

What I am meaning to say is back then the general belief was that electromagnetic waves (light included) traveled through space, but they thought space was not a nearly empty vacuum. They believed it was filled with ether. Ether being a medium of material which could transmit electromagnetic waves. Okay, maybe some back then were idiots - but that too is irrelevant and continues even today.

Basically Michelson and Morley designed an experiment using an interferometer (a device which measures the frequency of electromagnetic waves) to detect the speed difference of light as the earth moved through the ether. The first one of many they performed was in 1881. The idea was if the earth was cruising the ether at many miles a second there would be a distinct difference in the speed of light in the direction of earth’s travel through the ether and at right angles to it. Sounds logical, right?

Wrong! The speed of light remained constant proving, or rather disproving the existence of ether. This experiment cast major light (yes a pun, I’m reading Piers Anthony right now and can’t help it) on the properties of the speed of light and lead many physicists down a much clearer path.

So the ether hypotheses was dead wrong. And what a wrong it was. This time only one wrong made a right, and put Einstein on to the idea of general relativity leading to the most famous equation E=Mc(squared) ever - so far anyhow.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Science Fiction Book Review: The Eyes of Heisenberg

The Eyes Of Heisenberg
Frank Herbert, best know for his Dune books, also wrote quite a few others of which this is one. And I must say, a damn good one it is.

Frank envisions a world of genetic manipulation is this book, a world governed by Optimen, mortals who have been gene manipulated to the point of living forever - almost. Virtually lost from their vocabulary are words like death, killing, murder and violence. They just don’t happen any more in this sterile controlled world.

Under the Optimen are the Folk, lesser gene manipulated mortals who only live hundreds of years. Poor them. The society is well thought out, creepy in the extreme and of course you just know it is not going to last. What perfect society ever does?

This novel tells the tale of some Folk wishing to procreate on their own, and underground resistence to the overseers (the Optimen) who grand breeding licenses to those worthy. And the womb of woman is no longer used to raise children; that job is left to vats. All people in the cities are fed a constant mixture of gas, gas which renders them sterile and infertile just in case any "viable" humans are in the population and get the funny notion of procreating on their own outside the Optimen’s control.

And the creepiest of all. Any gamete which is found to be viable (a normal reproduction capable human) during the artificial procedures to join sperm and egg, is exterminated because it would ruin the world order if it ever escaped. But the underground is fighting for just that, and they may soon win.

Cyborgs also play a pivotal roll in this society and they also have plans of their own.

Now all of this may seem old hat, especially if you have been watching the Discovery or the Space channel the last decade or so, but remember this was written back in 1966. After reading this book I can safely say Herbert is a master storyteller.

I recommend this book for its ideas, plot, suspense - hell pure entertainment.

Two sterile thumbs up.

This is what great classic science fiction is all about.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Musings: Feeling Green


Green and his associates.

This morning, while wolfing down my cereal, I noticed (afterwards of course) that my milk juice was on the verge of curdling and forming a new colony of its own and possibly sailing off for new lands.

Left me feeling kinda green.

Green belt, land of green. Green Acres is the place to be. Little Green apples. Greenback the band and Green backs like cash or fish.

Green with envy. Mr. Greenjeans and Captain Kangaroo. It’s hard being Green. Green eggs and Ham. Green turtles.

Green slime. Simple Green for cleaning up Green slime. Greenpeace saving the Green spaces. Green Day to pick up what others cast away.

The Green Party, do they serve Fresca? The Green Mile, electric. The Red Green Show, duct tape. Green gold, it’s new and desirable?

Green Bay Packers, muscle not meat. Green Mountain coffee, yum. Green Shield, pretending to assure you health. Deep Green researching our Green friends.

Tom Green, funny guy. Soylent Green, not so funny. The Green Giant, eat your vegetables. Lorne Green, the original Adama.

Green-Red color blindness, bad at intersections. Delta Green, Ia Ia . . . Spicy Green Iguana, spec fic mag. Green Hell Records, don’t ask.

Green, REM record, yes not disc. Green card, work in the US. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Greenhouse gases and effect. Green Tea, good for you.

Fried Green Tomatoes.

Agent Orange . . .

Er, sudden mood swing.

Sue me.

Tomorrow I am going back to the sniffing-the-milk-before-pouring test.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Short Story: Trick Or Treat


Halloween - has come and gone again. And if I were on the pumpkin I would have posted this, my Halloween short story, last week.

But, I'll do like the Simpson's Halloween special (Airing this Sunday to come) and post this story "after" Halloween. It's all the rage now, isn't it?

Oh, and picture note - my daughter designed the pumpkin.


Trick Or Treat
by Paul Darcy

So, Bob thought, it was Halloween again.

He hated Halloween.

It was such a meaningless, commercial fiasco. Maybe not quite as over done as Christmas, but almost as bad. The time of year when chocolate bars and chip bags shrank in size, garbage bags turned orange and kids had the opportunity to be on the loose, in disguise, and out of control.

He hated Halloween.

He was home alone and preferred it that way on this evening. Most of his friends had gone out to parties, or were staying in catering to the little brats from the local neighborhood. He had no such intentions of handing out candy to kids. Oh, a few came to his door, they did ever year, and every year he ignored them.

He hated Halloween.

It had just become dark and what was the time? 4:45 p.m.? He was sure that the time change occurred the weekend before Halloween just so the little monsters could start early and reap a bigger haul of candy than if the time hadn't changed. If he had it his way, he would have the time change delayed one week. Then make the change November first. That would fix them.

A few quiet hours passed and then Bob noticed a couple of figures walking up his drive. He went to the livingroom curtains and pulled them slightly apart to get a better view. It was a couple of kids. One in a hokey pirate costume, the other draped over in a K-mart bed sheet. Waste of time kiddys. He let fall the curtain and returned to his chair in the dark.

His doorbell rang. It never failed, even with no lights on and his sign out front which said "Bugger off, I hate Halloween", still they came. Maybe he should have made his sign bigger this year. The doorbell rang again, and, annoyed, he sat back in the dark trying to ignore it.

He hated Halloween.

The doorbell rang one last time. There was a period of silence. Then out of the silence, Bob heard a rustling at the door and the rattling of chains. Must be one of the little twerp's costumes, but he didn’t remember seeing any chains. Maybe it was the pirate. If so he hoped they were real chains, industrial, heavy, hundred pound chains oily and with a few good sharp burrs. That would slow the little bugger down. He chuckled to himself in the dark. But instead of the rattling dissipating it grew louder and began to travel into his hallway. What the hell was this? One of the brats must have gotten in somehow, but that shouldn't have been possible. The inner stainless steel door was wired into the 220 amp stove service. Anybody touching it would be stopped cold. He grew alarmed and stood up in his chair, in the dark, in the living room.

He hated Halloween.

He reached over and turned on the living room lamp. He was no sucker in some cheesy horror movie. He half expected the light not to work, but the room lit up as it should and from the hallway came the ghostly apparition of his old business partner, Jason Harley. They had once run an Internet Provider years before. It was Jason Harley rattling chains which were draped all over his body. But how could this be? He had died from a terrible Coke-Cola overdose years ago. His hair was long and tied in a pony tail hanging along his back as it had done in life. Bob was stunned. How could this be?

The apparition spoke. "Hi Bob. Remember me, your old partner? We sure used to suck in those Internet geeks, didn't we?"

Bob couldn't believe this was really happening. "Jason? But this is impossible. I must be dreaming."

The apparition moved closer. "No, you aren't." And with a fast crack from one of his translucent chains whipped Bob across an arm.

Bob yelped in pain. "He, cut that out. How do I know that you are not some nightmare brought on by an undigested bit of pizza, a bowl of custard, some crumbs from the bottom of a bag of Doritoes, or the fragment of some underdone Kraft dinner noodle?" Considering his dinner now, Bob thought it highly likely that this apparition was caused by his poor supper choices.

Jason's ghost spoke again. "Well, don't believe me then. It doesn't really matter. You never believed me when we worked together in life, so I wouldn't expect you to start now in my death. But, before I go, I have a message for you. I came here to tell you that on this night you will be visited by three more ghosts."

"What do you mean, three more ghosts?" Bob didn't like the sound of this.

"I can't divulge that information. You will find out, soon enough." The apparition rattled back down the hall and disappeared. Bob followed, but when he got to the door there was nobody there. He almost made the mistake of touching it but stopped himself in time. He checked the circuits of his electrified kid zapper and found everything was in order. He was not dreaming, but damn that was weird.

He hated Halloween.

The rest of the evening passed relatively quietly. Only three more kids had dared his front door, seen his sign, and beat a hasty retreat. It was just past midnight when he decided it was time to go to bed. He had made the determination hours ago that the apparition he had seen was due to his indigestion and that was that.

He was settled comfortably in his bed, covers pulled up, just about to nod off when he heard a sound. Something crept up to his bedside and hurled the sheets from him. Bob leapt from the bed. "What the hell is this! Who are you!"

The apparition before him, small, childlike yet older than tanned leather said. "Did that no good for nothing Harley not visit you earlier. Ah, well doesn't matter. I'm the ghost of Halloween past. I'm taking you on a tour." And with that the slender youthful old ghost grabbed Bob by the wrist and they flew off, through the wall and into the night Peter Pan style.

In the blink of an eye they arrived at the old Internet Provider store. It was just as it had been years before and Jason was talking to himself as a younger man. It was like a bad rerun of Seinfeld, but he was fascinated none the less. "Hey spirit. What is this?"

"Why, it is the past. Why do you think I'm called the ghost of Halloween, Oh, never mind. Just watch." And Bob did. He began to hear the conversation.

Jason said. "Did you order that Corel suite package for that guy that keeps bugging us?"

And he heard his past self reply. "What, I thought you did? Ah, hell. Who cares, he's a bum anyway. He'll just call again tomorrow and bug some more. I'll deal with it then, I'm too busy trying to get this stupid Windows 3.1 computer to load Explorer properly. God I wish everybody would go to Windows 95 and be done with it."

Jason checked his watch. "Jesus, do you know what time it is?"

"What are you talking about?" Bob heard himself reply checking his own watch. It was quarter to four. Still two hours till closing time.

"Its time to close up. You know, the Halloween party?" Jason began to pull the vertical blinds on the front of the store.

"Are you nuts! I've still got to finish this system, then I have three more to do, not to mention logging in six Internet people and a house call. If you want to go to the party, go. I can't. We should hire somebody else around here." Bob watched himself snarling and tapping a keyboard as Jason got ready and left.

"Scene change," said the ghost and Peter Pan style they once again took to the air. This time they arrived at the party. Bob's past self was not there.

Jason stood next to a tall thin blond girl. He was holding a huge mug. The girl spoke. "What have you got in there?" Meaning the giant mug.

"Coke. This mug will hold an entire two liter bottle." He looked proud of himself. The girl looked skeptical. "Hey, where is Bob? I thought he would be here." The way she had asked it was quite obvious that she was very interested in Bob. More than just interested Bob could tell looking on with the ghost of Halloween past.

"Oh, he is still at work. That guy, sometimes I don't know." The girl looked sad and wondered off and into another conversation. The ghost of Halloween past looked at Bob. "Missed opportunities Bob. What a waste. She was a nice girl too."

"Hah. Are you joking. That was thin as a pin Malinda. I'm glad I didn't go to that party now. Thanks for showing me that. I always though she had a crush on me. What's next?" Bob was beginning to get into the spirit of this.

"Last stop, the store, again," the ghost said and they were off.

Outside the store a single monitor shone its lonely light out of the front window. The store was still open and the figure of Bob could be seen crouched over a terminal working. "Your life has not changed much," the ghost said.

"That's good." Bob replied.

The ghost began to look annoyed. "Look, you are supposed to be seeing the error of your ways. Have you learned nothing?"

"Well, I learned that work saved me from Malinda. Is that what I was supposed to see?" Bob didn't know what the ghost was getting at.

"Oh, never mind. Maybe the next ghost will have better luck with you. I give up." And before Bob could say, I hate Halloween, he was back in bed, in his house, in the dark.

The next thing he knew, he looked over at his clock radio. It displayed 2:00 AM. He heard another noise. He suspected it could be the second visitation and was not disappointed. Into his bedroom glided a large rotund individual, clad in what Bob was sure was a Santa Claus suit.

"Ho, Ho, Ho," bellowed this new arrival. Bob pinched himself just to be sure, and he found out from the pain. This was not dream either. The large round red Santa looked down at Bob and dropped a rather heavy looking sack to the floor. Out of it tumbled many pumpkins. "So you are Bob, eh? Let me check my list." Santa pulled out a huge scroll checked through thousands of entries before stopping. "Ah, yes here we are. Bob." He rolled the scroll back up and replaced it somewhere in one of his big black boots.

"Ah, who are you? If I didn't know better, I would say you are Santa Claus, but that's ridiculous. Santa is supposed to be in the North Pole, playing with elves or something."

The Santa finished stuffing the spilled pumpkins back in his sack and regarded Bob. "That's not for another couple of months yet. What do you think I do all the rest of the year? Anyway, enough with my career. I am here, young man, to show you the Halloween of present. Ho, Ho, Ho." He chuckled and his body jiggled like a huge bowl of jelly. It was disgusting to behold. His cheeks were all rosy, like he had been drinking, and Bob suspected he had.

"So," Bob said, "you are the ghost of Halloween present, that is when you aren't Santa Claus?"

"You are swifter than the ghost of Halloween past said you were. Yes, yes, I am. Ho. Ho. Ho."

Bob was really getting tired of his annoying laughter. Who ever laughed like that anyway he thought.

"Well lets get on with it. I've got to get up for work tomorrow." Bob was losing patience with Santa and this whole ghost visitation thing.

"Very well, grab onto my sack, and we'll get off." Santa held out his big bag and Bob, tentatively touched it. As soon as he had they shot straight up the chimney of his house and sailed through the sky. They quickly came to a late night supermarket and flew down the store's chimney until they were inside. Bob didn't like flying up and down chimneys of any sort. It was unnerving to say the least.

Inside, Santa lead the way down one isle after the other and soon they came to a Halloween display where pumpkins were being sold. "So what is this all about Santa? Don't have enough in your sack? These ones on special or something?" Bob was warming up now. Santa glared at him and held a finger up to his lips demanding silence. Then he pointed to a mother and child approaching the display. The mother said, "and we can make a nice pie from this. The rest we can put in the compost. Isn't that lovely?" The child's eyes went wide at the site. They grabbed one and headed for the cash. Bob noticed that they had been ignored. So they could see, but couldn't be seen.

Santa spoke to Bob. "See how happy Halloween makes kids?"

Bob answered Santa. "No, what I see is a poor mother going to all the trouble to make a pie when all she had to do was just buy one. The kid would never know the difference." Santa grabbed Bob by the collar and they flew up the chimney again.

Next they came to a run down house in the worst part of town, and, yes, down the chimney they went. Inside, Bob recognized one of his workers. It was Nishmar Pratchett and just coming in from the only other room in the dilapidated house was a child, limping in threadbare clothes. "Oh, high Timmisha. How is the leg?"

"Okay, I guess, when the pain goes away." The child sat down on the floor next to his father.

"I found a pumpkin seed today Timmisha. Would you like to see it." Nishmar began to fish in his grubby pocket.

"I wish we could have a real pumpkin." said Timmisha sadly.

"I know Timmisha, but my employer Bob won't pay me any more." Bob had heard enough. He spoke to Santa. "What is this? That no good for nothing Nishmar is lucky to have a job at all in this day and age. I pay him 3.50 an hour, what does he want. I caught him the other day just loafing on the job. I should have sacked him right there on the spot."

Santa raised and eyebrow. "Have you no compassion for your fellow man?"

"Not when they are playing with my profit margin. Anyway, I said I didn't sack him, what more does he want?" Santa shook his head sadly, grabbed Bob and they were out the chimney again.

It wasn't long before he was home in bed again, and to his relief, when Santa left he didn't give any more Ho Ho's.

When next he woke it was 3:00 am and another sound could be heard. It must be the third and final ghost.

Bob was ready. "Who is there?" He waited for a reply and soon got one.

"Its me, Kirk." And out of the shadows of his bedroom stepped Kirk. Captain Kirk. Oh, no. This was even worse than Santa.

"Don't tell me you are the ghost of Halloween future?" Bob asked not believing.

"Who did you expect. Look I don't have a lot of time so if you are ready." He motioned to Bob and pulled a communicator out of his hip holster.

Bob got out of bed just as Kirk made the call. "Okay, beam us up." This was better than shooting in and out of chimneys, but still pretty damn ridiculous.

They materialized in the transporter room of the Enterprise. Bob noticed O'Reilly at the transporter controls who gave him a nod and carried on doing whatever it was he did when the transporter was not in use. "Kirk stood next to Bob him on the pad and spoke to O'Rielly. "Everything set?"

"Yes, captain. Whenever you are ready."

"Okay." Kirk flashed a glance at Bob. "You ready?"

"Why not." Bob answered and with the wave of Kirk's hand he experienced the transporter effect again.

Kirk materialized outside a large mansion of some futuristic design.

"Where is this?" Bob, despite feeling completely ridiculous beaming around with captain Kirk, liked the house and grounds.

"This is your house, Bob. Your house of the future." Kirk began to walk toward the long driveway and Bob followed.

"Wow, you really mean this is where I'm going to live?" Bob asked.

"And die, Bob. As a matter of fact you just died this day, and nobody cares. Do you see anybody around. You were alone. All alone." Kirk was talking like Bob was some sort of computer that needed to overload on a logic paradox.

"Wait a second. You were a loner too. As I recall from that latest movie, you were pretty alone at the end too, under a pile of twisted iron with just that bald guy, what’s his name there. So, what is your point?" Kirk stopped in his tracks. He looked annoyed.

"Look you. This isn't about me. It's about you, alone, hated."

"Rich." Bob finished for Kirk and before Kirk could get another word in Bob asked. "Say is that a BMW in the driveway? My BMW?" Bob approached the car, totally impressed.
"Yah. All of this is yours. But."

Again, Bob cut off Kirk. "Are you saying that if I continue the way I am in life right now this will all be mine in the future?" Bob looked around the extensive grounds, very pleased.

"That's correct." Kirk looked at Bob's expression and knew he was defeated. He flipped open his communicator. "O’RIELLY, beam our guest directly to his house. Mission is a failure. Kirk out."

Bob was just running his hand along the sleek lines of the BMW when he was transported to his bed. He pulled the covers over his head, happier than he had ever been.

He didn't really hate Halloween that much after all.

The End

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Musings: Me-diocrity You-gene


Posts. Good for making fences, reminding yourself to buy milk and communicating with other humans via the net.

But the net type are by far the hardest to do well. And I am succumbing to writing about net posts – so I must really be sucking wind right about now.

Should I put in cool links to funky sites and current events? Should I splash up the place with colorful pictures and inspired animated gifs or maybe some cavorting stuffed animals?

Should I pack it all in and go to Europa to find myself? (Oh, I forgot – not supposed to futz with that place – 1 by 4 by 9)

Currently I am struggling with my first motion picture script. Caught your attention? No – oh well.

How about naked female gyrating belly dancers between the ages of 18 and 21?

Oh, I just remembered the key. The Silver Key to everything - Persistence.

Damn, if I had not remembered that I could have quietly faded away into obscurity and this place could have petrified in peace.

Crap - now I have to keep up this Blog on principle.

Well, I better get back to the struggle.

I sure don’t want Mediocrity to pass me by.