Monday, July 28, 2008

secrets and dragons

I could string you along for a while, build up your anticipation of a fantastic conclusion about the “Secret Project” - then pull the chair out just before you sit down to get comfortable . . .

. . . but I’m a professional and as such I feel it my duty to not screw with your minds today. See, I’m not all bad.

What I can say is speculation about what is up with the project. So far (and even after a query) the silence still remains - which sounds like the silence after a death knell - but I see it as something entirely positive.

You see, if the “secret project” were to be discarded outright it would have by now. It has been a couple of months I know, but since there has not been an official word back canning the idea - it seems more and more likely that it is getting real consideration.

And for that I am hopeful, excited and bursting with anticipation to begin . . .

. . . but, let me sit down on this “Ummph!” - hey, who pulled the chair out!

So this should count as my writing update, and the hamster wheels in my brain continue to spin on the “Secret Project” every day and I can hardly wait to see if they can spin gold out of my twisted ganglia . . .

. . . or just a Gap T with a lame logo on the front - in off pink - velour - with a low V neck collar - for men . . .

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Another area of interest (to me anyhow) is the workspot. Last week the feelers went out to workers, wondering if they would be interested in taking a wad of cash and saying bye bye.

The wad they offered me was significantly less that the wad I get if I give me the boot - so I declined and went back to my cube.

Won’t know what is really what until the dust settles. I expect that to be about the end of the first week in August.

More waiting.

Grrrr.

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Two other things I’ll discuss here. One is a computer game (I see the rolling eyes), the other is a TV show.

First the game - Baldur’s Gate 2

Holy mother of D&D (you think deceased Gygax would be offended by me calling him a mother? Do you think he is “rolling” in his grave? . . .) Is this a good game or what?

I’ve had quite a few years of playing the pen and paper (which is now pen, paper, plastic minis, battlemats, twelve manuals and supplementals, et cetera.)

Baldur’s Gate 2 I got as part of a Baldur’s Gate DVD collection which included BG1 and expansion as well as BG2 and expansion. Well, I tried playing BG1 again but, after many hours, finally gave it up.

Then, a few weeks ago, I thought I would load BG2 and fire it up. And I find it ten times better - no really it is that good. It is old AD&D rules, but it’s what I grew up playing in the first place. If you like computer RPGs, then you have to play this. It is the best one I have ever tried - and I’ve tried quite a few.

Second the TV show - Veronica Mars.

Started watching Veronica Mars, and, well, not really having me rushing back to the DVD player to pop in the next episode. Granted, we have only watched the first 3 episodes, and the last was by far the best - but it got so many comparisons to Buffy and Joss Whedon himself gave the show a nod - that well it is just supposed to be spectacular . . .

. . . but mostly I find every character dislikeable. Is this how it is supposed to be? They are all rich snots, except those that aren’t - but they are equally annoying. I find I just can’t care about any of the characters - including Veronica - in the least. If they all just DIAF, I would turn off the TV and call it a day . . .

“Not fair!” you scream.

I know. And this is my initial 3 episode in review. My views may change once I see more, but for now I don’t see the appeal. Buffy it ain’t, and the writing I don’t find to be stellar.

I may be just getting more jaded than usual with all that is transpiring in my life these days.

On the TV show upside - Bewitched Season 5 is just as great as I remember . . .

Saturday, July 26, 2008

the doctor is in mate

So this week’s little writing challenge’s theme is “Poetry” and you got to choose your own three rhyming words which I picked to be: cat, hat, mat . . .

So, naturally what sprang into my mind was a Seuss vs Frankenstein situation in an X-Files episode set to a Joss Whedon musical score with overtones of A Clockwork Orange . . . naturally.

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If you find this note hurry, yes please do not wait - I implore you - get me out of here before it’s too late. I’ve been kept against my will in a dark horrid place, at night cramped in my cell I have almost no space. But that’s not the worst of my state, I’ll tell you, it’s during the daytime when they come, and then the things that they do. Oh, the things that they do!

It started a month before with a bump on my head, hooked to a machine a long time, I think they thought I was dead. But as miracles may happen one happened to me, I awoke with a start in this place but not free. I used to talk normal like any ol bloke, but now with the implants my words are a joke.

They study and prod, make me take tests of all sort, to me it’s a nightmare, to them it’s a sport. The worst is the hat all metal and tight, but that chair with electrodes gives me the worst fright. With bare feet on steel mat, grinning doctors in smocks, they torture me with questions, then zap me with shocks. They grill me for answers, show me inkblots, I tell them they’re cats, they give me more shots.

Please come soon with help, and please don’t be late - or the only thing you'll find will be my dissected brain on a plate.

Monday, July 21, 2008

non entry

I have. . .

. . . no update on the job, "Secret Project", my writing, or an audio version of "Kaylie's Smile" . . .

. . . But, I have this cool banner to display for my efforts over at Saturday Scribes.



And it is way cool - no?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Miner 4T-9R

This week's Saturday Scribes challenge was down right NASTY. But, I think I pulled it off - or pulled something . . .

Theme was Serendipity,

Words were (ya, 5 of them) candle, speaker, emblem, byzantine and zeppelin.

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So much for being considered the luckiest registered miner in the field, Mansel thought checking the gauges for the third time. No doubt about it his primary hydrogen tank had been hit by a sizeable micrometeorite and had lost his rocket fuel. The subsequent jettisoning of hydrogen had sent his one man ship along an unscheduled path and nearly into several small asteroids which would have made his ruptured fuel tank the least of his worries. At least the hydrogen hadn’t ignited.

There was still plenty of paraffin left though, so his maneuvering candle drives were in good shape, but that would leave him with a long and slow voyage back to the orbital station to sell his bounty - and his goods this time out consisted of only a few common alien artifacts, not nearly enough to fix his tanks. He would need to deplete his reserve credits. So much for getting ahead.

Mansel wondered if this life was really worth it. So far he had made a decent living, upgraded his ship a few times and got a reputation for striking artifact gold at just the right time. But he wasn’t getting any younger, and despite his reputation he had yet to cash in on the big one like Burton and Cyke had five years ago when they found an alien corpse complete with suit.

Still, he had to try. The alternative was a life rockside, grubbing in the soil, or on a station serving others. Hard as this life was, he wouldn’t change a thing. Mansel suited up and checked his link with the ship. The small speaker inset into the helmet relayed positive information to him. All was green and a go.

Attaching the tether to the outer hull, once the lock was open to space, Mansel performed a ritual, one he had always done since his first attempt some seven years ago. “Play, Immigrant Song.” The immediate guitar riff of Led Zeppelin resonated throughout his entire suit. He was ready.

Launching himself out of the ship, Mansel through years of practice, made his way across the hull like and giant spider, practiced and at ease in zero G. Once at the ruptured tank, Mansel could see the damage was extensive and would be a byzantine task of repair, not something he could hope to do with the tools he had onboard.

“Whole Lotta Love”, was just starting up when something in Mansel’s peripheral vision warned him of danger. Living among the asteroids and debris endowed a miner with a second sense about relative movements in the field. Turning away from his tank examination, Mansel saw a shining object coming his way, but it was no drifting asteroid. It was another ship!

For a few moments Mansel thought his worries were over, until the ship got close enough for him to see that it had no registration identification. The place where the miner’s emblem should be displayed had been ground off - and not by a near miss, but on purpose. He should have guessed that since he would outside the zone any ship was not too likely to be another miner.

Over his suit speakers, Zeppelin was rudely interrupted. “Well, what have we here?”

“Mansel, registered 4T-9R. Can I request you assistance?” Mansel said. He knew it was futile, but even among pirates, life in the field was somewhat civilized and murder was unheard of.

“Assistance granted,” came the reply, much to quickly and with sarcasm.

For the next twenty minutes Mansel could do nothing but watch as the pirate craft butted up against his own. Any attempt on his part to get back into his ship during the docking could have seen him crushed and so he just stayed put and watched. In no time they had boarded his ship and pilfered his meager bounty. Just as quickly as they had shown up, they were undocked and off again.

“We will relay your position to station . . .” came the pirate’s voice again, “. . . in two hours.”

Mansel, with nothing left to do, went back on board and verified that his cache of artifacts was gone. Not only had they stolen them, they also ripped out his new nav computer. He was truly stuck now. Replacing that as well as repairing his tank would likely sink him.

Pressing the distress beacon control, Mansel sat back and looked out at the field and again saw something out of the ordinary. There was a bright flash of green light, and then another shiny object was moving his way.

But this one was different. It was shaped like no ship he had ever seen, egg-like and strangely blue. It was twice his ship’s size and moved with incredible speed and maneuverability. He may be a long way off the regular mining lines because of his accident, but nothing like this had ever been reported by any miner before.

In a flash the object was hovering about ten meters outside of his ship. A moment later the front of the egg turned transparent and from withing Mansel could see figures. His jaw dropped open. They weren’t just figures, they were the aliens of the field. Live aliens! He recognized them immediately from Burton’s and Cyke’s well publicized find from years ago.

The aliens were not extinct as many had speculated. They had returned, and Mansel was the first to encounter them.

Monday, July 14, 2008

my brane hurts

Well, I’ll cut right to the writing update this week . . .

. . . as in - not too much of it except what you see here at Twisted Mind for the Saturday Scribes the past few weeks.

As for the “Secret Project” I’ve heard nothing at all. Absolutely nothing. Which, as one saying goes, is a good thing. In the publishing world though, I’m not too sure.

So, I remain hopeful but the scepticism increases logarithmically with each passing day. If I hear nothing one way or the other by August 1st, I’m afraid I’ll have to pronounce it dead and reveal what it was.

And as you can see, or rather hear, there still is no audio version of Kaylie’s Smile. I spent too much time doing little during my two weeks vacation to actually get any sort of work done. So, an audio version of Kaylie's Smile is still coming. I’ll give it the same deadline as the “Secret Project” - August 1st it is.

As for my Post Apocalyptic novel being edited and ready for publication next year - well - just can’t seem to get the gears in motion which is directly related to the unsure future I’m living right now (and you thougth I lived in the present - silly you).

Will I have an income in September or not? Since it’s not “my decision” I have to wait this out too - and I hate waiting for things to be decided. I would make a poor diplomat indeed. The only thing bull shit is good for, in my world, is fertilizing fields . . .

Going to leave it at that for this week with the hopes that next week I will know more about the above.

In the mean time I’ll make like a graviton and travel from brane to brane in search of the unified field theory in eleven dimensions . . .

. . . or read a book.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

jerk the shark

Once again, from my twisted mind, a tale spurred on by the weekly Saturday Scribe's prompts.

This week the theme is "communication" - the words: blueprint, denim and universal.

Below is what leaked out - your shark, let me jump it for you . . .

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Donald shook his head, unable to believe that some ten year old brat had actually managed to break the shark. Now, bent over the blueprint, Donald was trying to find out just which mechanism inside needed to be replaced, but so far the task was eluding him. He would need to go down there and inspect the damage first hand.

All of the four mechanical sharks at Universal Studios were a bitch to work on at the best of times, and he was under pressure now that the park was going to open in two hours. If the side-snapper, his nickname for the one that launched itself out of the water snapping at the customers, wasn’t up and running by park opening, his supervisor was sure to bitch him out about it.

It was all that damn kid’s fault and Donald was made to suffer for it. At least he was kicked out of the park afterwards despite his parents protestations about what a good boy he was and how he had never done anything like it before. What the hell was wrong with parents these days anyhow.

Rolling up the blueprint, Donald put on his denim overalls and grabbed up his toolbox. Time for the pit. He hated the pit. It was a cramped, lightless crawlway underneath side-snapper, and so far he had only had to go down there once when the shark’s jaw had gotten stuck in the closed position. That was a simple solenoid problem, but this utter failure? How had that damn kid done it again?

He was told the brat had jammed a short steel pipe down the shark’s mouth, and it had gotten tangled in the gears inside - after that, crunch, crackle and snap. Inside the pit, Donald was secretly wishing the kid had thrown himself in instead - then it would be the police down hear scraping out his mangled body instead of Donald extracting the pipe and trying to figure out what parts to replace.

After twenty minutes of dismantling the shark, Donald finally got a good look at what was wrong. The pipe, a hollow twisted tube now, had gotten wrapped around the main travel mechanism and sheared off several pins and completely stripped two gears. He had just over an hour to fix it. It would be close.

His belt radio buzzed at him causing him to start and bang his head on the roof of the cramped space. “Shit,” Donald yelled which echoed back at him ten times louder. He pressed the mic button, “Yeah, what is it?”

“How’s it going down there?” his supervisor Ed asked.

“I found out what’s wrong.”

“Will it be operational by park opening?” Ed asked, a tone of desperation in his voice.

Donald hesitated for a moment, almost wanting to say “no, too much damage. It will take all day you bastard and why the hell don’t you suit up and come down here and give me a hand?”, but instead he only said, “Yeah, should be.”

“Well, let me know the second you get it done.” the radio snapped off. Donald didn’t bother to reply.

Five minutes to park opening and Donald had it fixed despite several more annoying radio calls from Ed.

Crawling out from the pit, Donald was met by Ed who was pacing around, radio in one hand and a cigarette in the other. The second Donald removed the lockout and connected the power again Ed was on the radio to the ride operator to run the shark.

It came out of the water just as it should, snapped its jaws on cue, then plunged beneath the surface with a huge splash. “Ride’s a go,” Ed yelled into the radio like his life depended on it.

Donald was about to get out of his damp and dirty coveralls when Ed tapped him on the shoulder. “Donald, trouble on the coaster.”

“You’re welcome, Ed,” Donald said grabbing up his tools and heading out across the park. He wondered how long before the damn radio buzzed him again.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Passing

Guess I should do a wee bit of explaining for these Saturday fiction posts. I'm part of the Saturday Scribes writing group and each week we get a prompt and have to write something based on it.

This week the theme is "Landscape" and the four words (not four letter words, just to clarify) which needed to be included in the work were; blue, ice-cream, shoe, whistle.

Below is what squirmed out of my twisted mind this morning - before I finished my coffe.

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Funny how the beautiful snow covered mountain pass could suddenly transform into a deathtrap. Instead of an incredible piece of nature’s work, a connection between towns, a place where birds soared and burrowing mice lived - now the pass was her possible tomb, her final resting place.

It had come out of nowhere when the sky was a brilliant blue. Thunder like an explosion and Katie didn’t know what it was until the snowy side of the pass came down on top of her. There was a few moments of total disorientation as she tumbled, buffeted and hammered by a wall of snow.

When she regained her equilibrium she was partway down the steep side of the pass and half buried in snow and ice. Her right knee was killing her and try as she might, Katie was unable to get out by herself because of the pain. Somehow she had not be covered over, but remained on top, like a cherry on the summit of and ice-cream sundae. If it weren’t for the pain she would have laughed at her situation.

And the damn song “shoo fly”, or was it “shoe fly”, wouldn’t get out of her head. Her pack was gone as well as her sunglasses. Inside her lost pack Katie would have found her emergency rations, another pair of sunglasses, an emergency blanket and a whistle. She tried to call out and the wind and snow threw her voice back at her. She could scarcely hear it herself.

She wondered if anybody would ever see her down here. Squinting against the glare Katie could not tell how far down the pass wall she had been carried. It would be well after dark before anybody even came to look for her and, despite the bright sunlight, she was getting cold.

“Shoe fly don’t bother me, shoe fly don’t bother me . . .” repeated itself in her head as she suddenly grew warmer. The sun had set now and the stars were coming out. It was so peaceful in the pass and the winds had died down to a soft whisper. Katie felt this was the end then, the first step of freezing to death was the warmth, wasn’t it? Her knee wasn’t hurting anymore. The vision of the mountains and snow against the backdrop of brilliant stars was spectacular.

And then she heard it above the din of “shoe fly” in her head. It sounded just like Santa’s reindeer, a faint jingling of bells like fairies. She must be delirious. Is this what Santa did in the off season?

Katie had only nodded off for an instant when her face suddenly got a shock. Something wet was swiping at it. She opened her eyes with the last bits of her strength and saw a big tongue licking her. Connected to the tongue was a Saint Barnard.

If Katie had the energy she would have cried. Instead she just let go and drifted off with the shoe fly.