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Monday, April 30, 2007

Ick

I'm headachey, tired, cold, slightly nauseous, and my brain feels like deep-fried lard.

And yet, I didn't go drinking last night. That seem fair to you?

This is me phoning in sick and uncreative. See y'all tomorrow.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Gorram!

I've received some very nice letters regarding my post about the Serenity blueprints.
Hee hee...little did I know that I was working on a holy relic. I must have been possessed by the divine spirit (Joss)...although I thought at the time it was a touch of indigestion.

Best, Geoff
In case you haven't checked your relic recently, Geoff Mandel is one of the people involved in making The Shiny. I took the opportunity to ask him a few questions, and he was nice enough to reply:
I basically drew the blueprints from scratch using the set designs created by Tim Earls, the set designer, and the CG model created by Zoic. The airlocks had to go where there were airlock doors on the CG model...that's why there are airlocks outside of the crew quarters. There's another hatch at the bottom of the bridge and above the dining room, so airlocks had to go there as well. I doubt the escape pods even work anymore...one of the SoCal Browncoats suggested that a family of raccoons may live in there. The shuttles were a real problem...they ride much too high on the CG model for the hatches on the catwalk of the cargo bay to work, and that's why I had to add that extra stairway and airlock. It's obviously more convenient to access the shuttles from the dining room than the cargo deck, but without drastically changing the outer appearance of Serenity by lowering the shuttles, there was little I could do. Originally, I had another crew head/shower off the dining room, but the shuttles take up so much room on that level, I barely managed to fit the dining room in as it is. The "Serenity Brain Trust"...fans Brian Wiser, Chris Bridges and Ben Mund...reviewed all my early drawings and made lots of helpful suggestions (for instance, putting in Kaylee's dress and hammock). You should have seen how complex the shuttle airlocks were before Chris and Ben weighed in!
Wow. Pretty heady stuff! And then I got another nice letter from Andy Gore, the Director of Marketing for Quantum Mechanix Inc:
Just wanted to drop you a note and say "thanks" for the wonderful post. We've gotten a lot of nice feedback from Browncoats, but I think yours is my personal favorite. In fact, I think yours may be the team favorite – it was Geoff Mandel who pointed me to your blog in the first place!
Team favorite? Oh my. *fans self* Ah do declare, ah feel a mite faint....

Thursday, April 26, 2007

An open letter to Tim Minear

Dear Tim,

I'm very sorry to hear that you and Fox have broken up again. I'm sure you're in a lot of pain right now, and you really do have my sympathy for that, but really, you have no one but yourself to blame at this point.

I realize you don't want to hear this, but as your friend I have to say it: how many times must that little bitch dump you before you realize that you're too good for her? A whore is a whore, my friend, and you deserve far better than that.

I realize that you have a history with her, but you need to stop living in the past. How many of your shows must she murder before you finally see the light?
Take a cue from your buddy Joss and cut ties with the little slut. She doesn't love you, she just wants to rape your ideas after sucking you dry of creativity. Let her go, I say, to wallow in the filth of cheap reality TV and animation that ceased being funny a decade ago. Oh sure, there are a few good shows left (but I wonder about 24 these days) but those are simply lures.

Lures, you ask? Let me tell you about the anglerfish:
Their most distinctive feature, worn only by females, is a piece of dorsal spine that protrudes above their mouths like a fishing pole—hence their name. Tipped with a lure of luminous flesh this built-in rod baits prey close enough to be snatched. Their mouths are so big and their bodies so pliable, they can actually swallow prey up to twice their own size.
Don't you see the resemblance, Tim? Can't you see that she's nothing but a skanky predator?

You need a nice girl, Tim. One that cares about her programming. How about HBO or FX? They aren't afraid to air quality, edgy programming, and I think your kind of writing would fit in nicely with the likes of Sex and the City, Big Love, The Sopranos, and Deadwood; or Rescue Me, Nip/Tuck, The Riches, and The Shield.

Maybe you have your eye on another network? That's cool, too. Just please, please, please stay away from that skanky crack-whore Fox Network. I'm deeply worried for you, and if you go back to her again I'm staging an intervention.

Yours with deepest love and admiration,

Erin Palette

Fox Cancels Drive

Gasp.

I am shocked, shocked I tell you, that Fox would cancel a Tim Minear show without giving it time to find its feet.

Really, who here is surprised? If The X-Files had debuted now instead of in the 90s, I'm sure Fox would have cancelled it within 13 episodes, too.

Want to know something? I didn't watch Drive for precisely this reason. I knew they'd shitcan it.

Also, I refuse to watch anything Fox produces. I still haven't forgiven them for cancelling Firefly.

For those inclined, the daily Two Minutes Hate against Rupert Murdoch begins promptly at 2pm Eastern time.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Running on empty

I have material, just not the energy needed to make a well-written post. Maybe tomorrow, when I can work myself into a proper fit of righteous indignation.

On the plus side, there's nothing quite like the stunned silence on the other end of the phone when I tell a bill collector, and I quote, "I could give a fuck about my credit rating." Good times.

I would be remiss if I didn't wish my good friend La Fleur a Joyeux Anniversaire! Photos to phollow, hopephully.

*curls up and goes to sleep*

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I <3 my TV ver. 2

Found several good clips for Dresden Files, and one for Jericho. They've been added to my previous post.

Go! Watch!

I Love My TeeVee

I remember when I saw the first promo for Heroes last summer. My immediate reaction was "Please, God, let it not suck," quickly followed by "And let it last at least a season." Imagine my delight when not only did it not suck -- in fact, it's incredible -- but it became the breakout hit of the season. Hiro is reason alone to watch it.

Heroes returned to TV last night, and there was much rejoicing across the land. You just gotta love a show that does an episode called "Six Months Ago" and then later that same season does anther called "Five Years In The Future" (next week's episode.)

If for some bizarre reason you haven't been watching the show -- I'm looking at you, Isabella -- then proceed immediately to this site where you can watch every single episode that's been shown. There are currently 19 of them, and the season will end with #22. If you are a comic book nerd, like science fiction/fantasy, or just enjoy good television, there is no reason for not watching this show.

Fortunately, it seems like most of America agrees with me on this (a fact which slightly disturbs me, truth be told), so I don't need to campaign on behalf of Heroes. However, there are other shows chock-full of geeky goodness that also deserve your attention.

Battlestar Galactica is the single best sci-fi show out there, point blank. If you aren't watching it you are an uncultured ruffian, and I spurn you as I would spurn a rabid dog. Luckily, you have all year to get caught up, as the new season doesn't start until 2008. *sobs quietly*

Included for your viewing pleasure are a series of clips taken from Episode 304. It's a "good parts" compilation of nothing but action, and is as close to sequential as I could find. If this doesn't excite your geeky heart, nothing will.








Hankering for something a bit more modern? Then try Jericho, a story about a small Kansas town cut off from civilization when no less than twenty-three American cities are destroyed by nuclear bombs. It's kind of "Lost" meets "The Day After", except that unlike Lost there is no mystical weirdness going on and there seems to be a payoff every few episodes. In fact, by the end of this season I expect we will know exactly who was responsible for the bombing.

I'm honestly not sure if this show will be renewed for another season or not. I urge you all to please give it a try, as it is one of the most intelligent TV shows out there. I don't have any video clips to show you (sorry about that), but if you go here you can watch, for free, every single episode currently aired. The show is at 8 pm on CBS, and new episodes are uploaded to the website the next day.

Edit: I found a clip. It's not the best in the world, but at least it's not a crappy music video.


Speaking of potentially doomed good shows, there's The Dresden Files. It's a show about Harry Dresden, a wizard, who is sort of a magical Private Investigator who also consults with the Chicago P.D. to help solve occult crimes. The entire show reminds me of a World of Darkness RPG, and I mean that as a compliment.

Now, I don't practice magic, but I am fairly well-read on occultism, and I can tell you that this show goes to great pains to make its magic "feel" believable. It's almost like someone read Isaac Bonewits' Laws of Magic before writing this series. I don't know if it was Jim Butcher, the man who writes the series of novels that Dresden Files is based off, or if it's just a really good team of scriptwriters, but either way, credit is due. The show is just fun to watch, and never talks down to its viewers.

Here are some of the promos which aired for the show in January:






This is the last scene of episode 4. A bit long, and spoileriffic if you haven't seen it already, but if gives you a good look at the methodology of the magic. In this instance, Harry is helping a young man who (sold his soul) to exorcise the demon-taint inside him.


This show is also potentially on the chopping block, so if you enjoy it I implore you to go to the Save Harry Dresden! webpage. Send an email to feedback@scifi.com, if you do nothing else. I mentioned that I would be buying the DVD set of the first season, and would happily buy more if they continue the series. Money talks, you see.

I can't seem to think of a good closing paragraph, so I guess I'll just end with cheese: Tune in tomorrow! Same Lurking time, same Rhythmic channel!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Is it just me...

... or has anyone else noticed that the Green Lantern oath is written in iambic tetrameter?

For those unwilling to follow the link, an iamb is the base unit of Classical Greek poetry. It consists of a short syllable (italic) followed by a long syllable (bold). Tetrameter means that there are four iambs per phrase.

In bright -est day, in black -est night,

No e -vil shall es -cape my sight!

Let those who wor -ship e -vil's might

Be -ware my pow'r -- Green Lan -tern's light!

Now I'm tempted to do "Green Lantern, as written in Heroic Verse."

Literary Comics Mash-Up Extravaganza

Since it seems that the LCMUE has come to an end, I've decided to collate all the submissions here for easy linkage, and to ensure that if I lose my sidebar these links won't be lost.

All of my LCMUE writings can be found here.

... and we're back!

After the thrice-damned 3-column affair, as I'm calling around these parts, we are finally back online and Lurking in a Rhythmic manner once again. I've managed to reconstruct most of the page -- sadly, I fear my Discordian Time widget may never work again -- but many, many hyperlinks were lost, including the participants in my Literary Comic Mash-Up Extravaganza. I maintain a glimmer of hope that Google has cached an old copy of my blog somewhere.

Sweet Buttery Eris, I certainly dropped many f-bombs earlier, didn't I? Practically a profanity arclight. I apologize for the loss of my composure. Nevertheless they must still all die screaming.

Also, my brother flew in from D.C. to attend a class at the local FAA school in nearby Palm Coast, so he spent the day with us before his classes begin on Monday. Between his visit and my repair of the site, I was unable to update the site as promised.

At this point I feel very much like Sisyphus. I'll never be able to catch up now... the best I can do is draw a line here and say, "Henceforth there shall be fresh posts and no dilly-dallying!"

Unless, you know, you like having your dilly dallied. And who doesn't? But I digress...

Anyway, I will have better blogfodder for you tomorrow.

Kisses!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

TOYS IN THE ATTIC CRAZY (NSFW: Profanity)

Angry rant with lots of foul language. You have been warned.

Dear shitheads who, across multiple webpages, told me to upload your fucking templates:

FUCK YOU!
FUCK YOU!
FUCK YOU!

I FOLLOWED YOUR FUCKING "DIRECTIONS" AND NOW MY LAYOUT IS FUCKED AND I'M UNABLE TO FIX IT. YES, EVEN WHEN I UPLOAD MY SAVED TEMPLATE!

FUCK YOU, YOU FUCKERS!

NO, YOU COULDN'T JUST HAVE SAID, "HERE, CUT THIS AND INSERT IT INTO YOUR CODE!" NOOOO, YOU HAD TO GIVE ME BAD DIRECTIONS WHICH RESULTED IS ME LOSING EVERYTHING THAT WAS IN MY SIDEBARS!

DIE IN SCREAMING AGONY, YOU ELITIST FUCKTARDS!

DIE!
DIE!
DIE!

*STABBY GESTURES*

... okay, I feel better.

Now, on to the the very fun game of trying to replace everything I lost. *cries*

Saturday, April 21, 2007

HTML is kicking my ass

I am not a stupid person.
  • I figured out how to replace the stock header with an image.
  • I figured out how to make it clickable and not just a static picture.
  • Given enough time, I can figure most things out.
But this "Three Column Layout" thing is kicking my ass... probably because I don't want to upload it as a new template and then painstakingly re-add everything. What I want is to cut and paste the proper code into the proper place.

Can someone please tell me what to put where? I'm about ready to tear my hair out in frustration.

Oh yeah, I use layout templates, not classic.

Panzerfaust

Today was a big bust. I had planned to spend most of the morning and all afternoon blogging from the comfort of the local Barnes & Noble internet hotspot, but after purchasing a 2-hour block of time the local router decided to stop working.

Now I'm at a friend's apartment, where there are at least 2 promiscuous wireless routers.

Moral of story: never pay for internet access because somewhere there is a person with an unsecured network.

More entries to follow this over the weekend -- I'm not forgetting my promise! -- but right now there are too many distractions.

So enjoy a movie about Giant Nazi Mecha and check back in tomorrow.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Deadlines

Leech left a comment regarding "Naptime", where he said:
When I see posts where people are apologizing like this, I want to slap them. Don't apologize to us about this! You do have a life outside of this stuff :P
I take his meaning, and while I treasure the sentiment, I have to disagree for a very basic reason: This blog is a social contract between me, the writer, and you, my readers. I have promised that, six times a week, I will write something of interest, and in return you will read it and shower me with adulation. If I do not adhere my terms of the contract, I don't deserve readers.

Wow, Palette, don't you think that's a little uptight of you?

Not at all! You see, this isn't a hobby for me. I am trying to be an honest-to-goodness professional writer here. My dream is that, one day, I am paid actual money to write.

And if I can't deliver something as simple as a 250 word article every day, then I don't deserve that dream.

Like most of you, I enjoy reading webcomics. In fact, I have a sense of entitlement about them: if your posting schedule is M-W-F, then by GOD you'd better have a new comic up on your webpage come 8 am! I read my newspaper funnies, then I read my web funnies. If you don't post your comic until noon, or 5 pm, or (God help you) 11:59 pm, then guess what? You aren't on a M-W-F schedule, you're on a T-Th-Sat schedule.

Some webcomic artists are really good about being punctual, like Penny Arcade and Sinfest. They are like clockwork. Pete Abrams of Sluggy Freelance not only has a regular schedule, but manages to get guest artists for when he goes on vacation. My idol, however, has to be Howard Taylor of Schlock Mercenary, who not only has worked so far ahead that he has a buffer zone of about a month, but who also has the balls to post a new strip at 9 pm every night, seven nights a week. This man is a god, and I worship at the feet of his work ethic.

Then there are the other comics. You know the ones I mean. The ones that, despite a half-assed publishing schedule, somehow manage to be successful enough that their creators can make a living with them. I don't read those webcomics any more, because I got tired of them not updating their strips for three days.

I refuse to be one of those people. That's why I apologize when I'm late.

I don't know if I'll ever have a safety net of pre-written blog posts. It's certainly something to which I aspire. But if I am late, I don't want any of you to EVER go easy on me.


Without my readers, I am nothing.
Demand what you deserve: nothing less than my very best.

Naptime

I know, I know... I owe you two blog entries: one for yesterday, one for today. But I'm dead on my feet and need to take a nap.

I'll make it up to you this weekend, I promise.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Shiny!

Nota Bene: This is Monday's missing post. Wednesday's post will come later today.

Loyal Browncoats who ordered the Serenity Blueprints will no doubt have received them in the mail. I implore you to resist the urge to rip into the package willy-nilly! This is a holy relic and as such needs to be treated with respect and reverence. Fortunately for you, dear reader, I will detail the proper procedure for enjoying your Sacred Scrolls.

First, you must create a sacred space. Remove all elements hostile to Firefly, Serenity, and Joss Whedon from the room. This includes any item with the word "Fox" in its name or on its container. (Naturally, your Firefly DVDs and CDs are exempt from this stricture, as they have already been purified by the Holy Name of Joss.)

Once the cleansing of the room is complete, you must now ritually purify yourself. Cleanse your filthy, sweaty body while humming the Firefly theme. Then, dress yourself in garb compatible with the 'Verse. If you lack this basic element, you must strip naked in remembrance of Trash or Our Mrs. Reynolds, as appropriate for your gender.

Next, create an atmosphere that is pleasing unto The Whedon. Scatter elements from the Money Pack upon whichever surface you intend to rest the Blueprints. Arrange your Serenity Action Figures so that they may also partake of the viewing. (You may add plastic dinosaurs if you desire.) Finally, play music from the Serenity or Firefly soundtrack, or play the Series or Movie DVDs. If for some gorram reason you lack this basic element, you may click on the Independent Flag below to play the Ballad of Serenity:


Now you are ready to open the packaging. Using a Big Gorram Knife, carefully cut the tape on the shipping container. Do not discard anything, and be aware of the order in which you unpacked!

Once you have carefully unrolled the Shiny, you may gaze upon it with awe. Savor the heady aroma of freshly-printed high-bond paper. Imagine yourself within the majestic confines of Serenity. Be amazed that this only cost you $99.00 plus s&h -- ten dollars a page, a steal at twice the price!

Be careful, however, that you do not drool upon your Serenity Blueprints. Use a Cunning Hat to absorb your excess saliva, if necessary. If perchance you feel the need to curse, do so only in 'Versespeak:
When you are finished, carefully repack your Holy Scrolls in the reverse order in which you opened them. Transport them with much awe and reverence to a climate-controlled reliquary, which should then be placed into an armored, fireproof safe, preferably one with a ten-thousand dollar guarantee.

If at the end of this viewing you feel yourself overcome with grief that such an incredible show was cancelled, you may engage in a Two Minutes Hate against Rupert Murdoch, Fox Network President.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Snap!

I've just implemented SnapShots on this blog, which means that hovering the mouse over the link will get you a cached image of the site it links to. Hopefully this will add value to your rhythmic lurking experience.

If you should find it annoying, it's easy to disable. When the SnapShot pops up, move your cursor to "Options" and you can modify it as you see fit.

Please note that disabling it involves the use of a cookie, and that if you delete cookies from your web browser you'll get the pop-up again.

Missing posts

This week is awful for me and only going to get worse. I'm exhausted, and when I get a rare moment of peace and quiet in which to write, all I want to do is collapse and veg out.

I don't know when I'll be able to write another quality blog post. I'm working on one now, but it's an uphill battle as every little thing has me literally screaming in frustration.

I apologize to all my loyal readers.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

A Sestina for Tool and Ass

A Sestina, as I'm sure you're all aware, is a kind of poem created by Arnaut Daniel in the late 12th century. Wikipedia defines it as "a highly structured poem consisting of six six-line stanzas followed by a tercet (called its envoy or tornada), for a total of thirty-nine lines. The same set of six words ends the lines of each of the six-line stanzas, but in a different order each time."

A writer on a forum I frequent said that he had considered making a Sestina about someone he despised using the words tool, ass, loser, scumbag, putz and freak, but he decided against it because he was lazy.

Naturally, I accepted the challenge.

I present it to you here, that you may use it the next time you get into a flamewar with someone. Just replace the relevant names and change the pronouns as appropriate.

Because nothing says "class" quite so much as insulting someone with poetry.
A Sestina for Tool and Ass

I speak to you today of a gigantic tool;
One whose words are the braying of an ass:
He calls himself [name], but we name him "loser".
Would that we could fit him with a verbal scumbag
To contain the vile ejaculate of his words. Surely this putz
Dons a full-body condom before women willingly submit to this freak.

If he came near me in such an unprotected state I would freak;
The thought of being touched by his naked tool
Makes me ill. Who in their right mind would jack his putz?
I would rather have sexual relations with a horse or an ass
Before I allowed this sickening scumbag
To penetrate me with the genitalia of a loser.

Rational arguments separate a winner from a loser
But when confronted with logic, [name] will freak
And thence resort to ad hominem attacks. "Scumbag!"
He will call you, then chuckle at his cunning use of this tool
Of debate. But will [name of moderator] ever ban his ass?
Of course not, for he too is a putz.

Did you know that the Yiddish word for "dick" is putz?
Of course you did. You're not a loser
Who makes negative ass-
Sumptions. Wasn't that clever? Sometimes I freak
Myself out with my cleverness. By the way, [name] is a tool
And, lest I repeat myself, a scumbag.

Speaking of a scumbag,
The best part of [name] oozed from his father's putz.
He should have covered his tool
With a rubber and spared us from meeting his loser
Child. Sir, next time you wish to get nasty and freak
Your wife, please do her in the ass.

The world can't bear another ass
Like [name]. Keep your corrupt seed in a scumbag
Where it belongs, you genetic freak,
Or get a vasectomy on your putz.
At the game of life, you are a loser!
For your son is a giant tool.

Thus ends "Sestina for Tool and Ass;"
I am sick of talking about this loser [name], a scumbag
Whose putz, we all hope, will never get to freak.

(Yes, I know it's not in iambic pentameter. Sue me.)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Painkiller Same

Friday the 13th? Big whoop.

Monday the 13th? Now that's scary.

I saw Painkiller Jane tonight. It was okay, in a mindless fun sort of way. The acting was horrible and the plot was perfunctory, but it kept me entertained for an hour. Unless the quality improves quickly I don't expect it to last very long.

Or they could pander to the "hot girls with big guns" crowd: lots of cheesecake and high-caliber fully-automatic weapons, with a sassy attitude and snarky sense of humor. Make it a satire of all things testosterone, in the way Special Unit 2 was a satire of X-Files, and it could develop a following.

Did anyone else think that Kristanna Loken was nowhere near as attractive as she was in Terminator 3? And dear god, someone help her work on her delivery.

Half-assed post, I know. I'm tired from getting up at dawn to walk dogs, then being at the doctor's office all morning with my mother.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I come to bury Vonnegut, not to praise him

Kurt Vonnegut is dead and I cannot muster the requisite respect due the recently departed. So, fuck that. I intend to bury him, in the classic Khrushchev sense.

It's not that I'm glad he's dead, per se; it's more of a relieved "Well, thank God that's over with." Because, while I liked many of his books and short stories (a notable favorite being Harrison Bergeron), his politics were becoming intolerable.

Of course he had a right to his opinion. I will even grant that, as an anthropologist, he had more justification to speak his mind regarding culture and politics than, say, Bono or Tom Cruise. I don't even dislike him for his open contempt of Bush.

But when he said he admired terrorists and suicide bombers, that crossed the line.

In 2005, he was interviewed by David Nelson for The Australian, a national newspaper that carries similar weight to the Wall Street Journal here in America. The actual article is damn hard to find these days, most likely because of its controversial nature. I have been able to corroborate the most salient points, which are these:
  1. He regards terrorists as "very brave people";
  2. Terrorists die for their self-respect and/or their culture;
  3. Terrorism is comparable to the bombing of Hiroshima.
Go here and here for more. I'd dearly love to link to the main article, but I cannot find it. (Edit: Transcript of article found here.) His son replies to the outcry against his father here, but I don't consider that a defense. Why? Because surely a man as outspoken as Vonnegut was would be capable of defending himself if he desired, so either he didn't care what people thought of him, did not disagree with the assessment, or both.

I'm not going to address the second and third points. I'm simply going to demolish the first one and let the others crumble under the weight of their own idiocy after that.


IMPRIMIS
Some of you may be laboring under the misapprehension that terrorism and guerrilla warfare are the same. Though they share some characteristics, let me assure you that they are not, for one simple reason:

Guerrilla warfare targets legitimate military assets. Terrorism targets civilians.

Yes, it really is that simple. It's also very easy for guerrilla warfare to become terrorism, such as when a suicide bomber decides to blow up a bus instead of a military checkpoint: a checkpoint is a legitimate target because it is being staffed by soldiers, and by killing or wounding soldiers you are hurting your enemy's ability to effectively wage war. Civilians may be injured in this, but that is not the purpose of the attack.

Deliberately attacking civilians, however, serves one purpose: killing innocent people in the hopes that you will demoralize your enemy. And as we all know, the deliberate slaughter of civilians, especially those unable to defend themselves, is a war crime.

I repeat for effect: Vonnegut admires war criminals.


SECUNDUS
William Gibson has the best statement about terrorism I have ever seen. In Neuromancer, he explains:
There is always a point at which the terrorist ceases to manipulate the media gestalt. A point at which the violence may well escalate, but beyond which the terrorist has become symptomatic of the media gestalt itself. Terrorism as we ordinarily understand it is innately media-related.
In other words: terrorism works best when it is talked about, and the terror spreads. But there comes a point when the terrorists become so absorbed in their "message" that they forget their original purpose and commit acts of terror for the sheer sake of terror -- just for the pleasure of it.

Apt readers may notice how this is very similar to the motivations of serial killers, specifically the John Allen Muhammed and Lee Boyd Malvo. Better known as the Beltway Snipers, they seemed to enjoy the fear and media attention as much as they did the killing, if not more. Were they terrorists? You bet:
In May 2006... at Muhammad's Maryland trial, Malvo revealed many details of their three-phased plan... If carried out, the pair would have recruited a small army of alienated youths, used Muhammad's U.S. military training to instruct and indoctrinate them in Canada, and then mount coordinated terrorist attacks on the entire United States.
And there should be no doubt they are serial killers: both Malvo and Muhmanned were convicted for committing no less than six murders. The proper definition of a serial killer, by the by, is someone who kills several people in three or more separate events with an "emotional cooling-off" period in between the homicides.

Once again, for effect: Vonnegut admires this kind of person for his bravery.


TERTIUS
In conclusion:
  • Terrorists kill innocent people.
  • Terrorists are frequently serial killers.
  • Terrorists manipulate the media to achieve their ends.
  • Vonnegut, by virtue of being an award-winning author, is part of "the media."
  • Vonnegut admires terrorists, IE serial killers, for their bravery.
  • Vonnegut has been successfully manipulated.
  • Everything else he says on the issue is now suspect.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Poetry for the Emotionally Exhausted

The universe whispers
Of chains and shadows
Beneath a delicate sky
Manipulating the apparatus
Of worship and need

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Blatant Fanservice

Mom had her surgery today, and I'm sure you'll all be glad to know that she's doing well. I, however, have to put a fresh coldpack on her knee for 20 minutes every hour. Forty minutes is just enough time for me to get into a good writing groove, then have to stop and completely lose my train of thought.

So, blatant fanservice for making you wait:

Hmm, I wonder what she could be doing?

Ooh! It's so big! I can barely fit it in my mouth!

Milk, it does a body good!

Dark Feast

I'm going to phone this one in, folks. Mom has her surgery tomorrow, and it's been nuts here. At least it's not midnight... yet.... so I'm going to post an Invocation I created for my D&D character, who is a Warlock.

If you don't understand it, my apologies. As I said, I'm just posting this thing to fulfill my mandate of "Something creative every night, Monday-Saturday".

If you do speak D&D, I made this because my Warlock is power-hungry, and while there are lots of neat invocations there are precious few slots for them... so I borrowed a page from Highlander.

The Dark Feast
Lesser Invocation; 4th

This invocation, when performed over a dying or recently (within an hour) dead warlock, allows the caster to absorb previously unknown Invocations.

Limitations: The caster can only absorb Invocations of grades he is capable of casting (so a 7th level Warlock can only absorb Least and Lesser Invocations, regardless of the CL of the Warlock he defeats), and can only absorb a number of Invocations equal to the caster's Charisma bonus. It takes a full-round action to absorb one Invocation.

I don't think this is overpowered because:
  1. It's useless unless I kill another Warlock;
  2. Limits what I can take based on class level and Charisma;
  3. Makes me a big ol' target to all the other Warlocks out there.

Plus, it brings a nicely cannibalistic mood to a class that's supposed to be dark and witchy but is frequently regarded as "just another caster."

Hah! A minute to spare!

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Realization made upon waking

---------------------------------

Life is like playing a flute...
to get anything out of it you have to
finger holes and blow.

---------------------------------

Friday, April 6, 2007

Pax vobiscum

This post touches on Discordianism, but there will be no silliness today. Today is Good Friday and I will show it respect.

I'm honestly not sure if I should write today, because I feel burdened to write something about my beliefs, yet I also have no desire to make the beliefs of others seem trivial. So if I cause offense, dear ones, please forgive me, as it's certainly not intended.

I grew up in a Protestant Christian household. Every day, at breakfast, my mother would read aloud a passage from the Bible, followed by a mini-essay from a daily devotional. I think the Bible is a rich source of history, case studies in ethics, and literary symbolism. For the better part of a year I studied the Book of Revelations just because it contains some of the most potent written imagery I have ever experienced.

I am deeply shamed by all the sin and crimes that are committed daily in Jesus' name, but I am also aware that these are the results of human baggage and selective interpretation of the scripture. I believe that Christ's teachings are universal. Love, acceptance, tolerance, forgiveness, piety, charity; the world would be a better place if we all practiced these things, whatever our religions might be.

I believe in Christian values...

... but I don't know if I have faith any more.

Is it possible to be a Christian without believing in God? To practice the morality without the faith? Is there such a thing as a Deistic Christian Philosopher?

I'm so horribly tempted to end this with a "Hail Eris," but that would be flippant and sacrilegious. It would, however, perfectly illustrate my current confused emotional state. A philosopher, you see, can entertain two or more different philosophies in her head. But religions tend to be exclusive things.

I love Christianity. But I don't think I can have faith in it any more. It's become a philosophy to me. Discordianism is a philosophy, too, but it's something that I can have faith in... I'm just not sure if I should.

I'm not sure what I believe,
So I believe I'll have a drink.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Too awesome to let pass unnoticed

Remember when I talked about authorial annoyance? This is one of those.
Some lie because they are insecure or unsatisfied with their lives. We put a lot of these people on medication, whether they've hurt anyone or not. Some people lie to entertain people. We call these people writers, musicians, actors. We cut these people paychecks sometimes. Some people lie to better their own lives at the cost of other people's. We call these politicians, and we can't do anything to them because they're writing the laws. -- Salem MacGourley, Notes from the Sonic Stapler
Best damn definition I've seen.

Sláinte, Salem.

I Will Punk If I Goddamn Want to

Oh dear. It would seem that some people have taken issue with my use of the "-punk' suffix, following Warren Ellis's link to He@ in his blog. This complaining seems to come in two flavors:
  1. Why must everything be "x-punk" these days? It's a tired old term.
  2. Oi oi oi! I'm a punk! I object to you using that term when there isn't any punk attitude or sensibility!
To which I say: Quit yer whinging, ye wee sodding wankers.

Actually, I don't really care if they complain or not (though it did give me a chance to use my "Belfast voice", which is always fun), because any publicity is good publicity. Call me what you like, I don't really give a shit, just so long as you link back to me. But since this is a literary blog, and I'm feeling pedantic, I might as well address these "concerns".

It's a tired old term.

Well, it's old, I'll grant you that. The term cyberpunk was created by Bruce Bethke back in 1980 for his short story of the same name... as a marketing term, so that his story would have more appeal to readers. Tired? Considering that we're using the term 27 years later, I'd say it's pretty damn effective.

Why must everything be "x-punk" these days?

For the same goddamn reason that everything Apple puts out these days is "iWhatever": it's an instantly recognizable shorthand with built-in audience appeal. Besides, which is easier to say: "A work set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often set in Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date" or "Steampunk"?

If you want to be mad at someone, blame K.W. Jeter for starting it with a 1987 letter to Locus magazine where he said:
Personally, I think Victorian fantasies are going to be the next big thing, as long as we can come up with a fitting collective term for Powers, Blaylock and myself. Something based on the appropriate technology of the era; like "steampunks," perhaps ...
You may not like the nomenclature, but it's here to stay. Get over it.

I'm a punk and I object to you using that term...

Ah, the delicious taste of hypocrisy!
Punk ideology is concerned with the individual's intrinsic right to freedom, and a less restricted lifestyle. Punk ethics espouse the role of personal choice in the development of, and pursuit of, greater freedom.
In other words, by trying to censor me, you are oppressing my right to express myself, and thus you are just as bad as the Establishment. And by staying true to myself and refusing to conform to what you want, I prove myself more punk than thou. So go fuck yourself.

...when there isn't any punk attitude or sensibility!

Which punk sensibility?
Considering that there are mutually exclusive schools of thought there, this is not a coherent argument. In fact, the only unifying theme for punk that I can find is once again "Individual freedom at any cost". By that logic, Firefly is punk.

So chwee ni duh, you ai chr jze se duh fohn diang gho. I'll call it Heliumpunk if I fucking well want to, and you can't stop me.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Just in case it's necessary...

Heliumpunk is copyright 2007 by Erin Palette.

Go here to read about copyright and the Internet.

That said, let me explain what I mean. I'm not for one instant claiming that no one can write a story using the basic conceit of He@, which is "A future or near-future setting where anachronistic and obsolete technology is given a new lease on life, not just because it is cool, but for plausible reasons within the setting." That would be greedy, and if my work inspires others, I'm flattered.

What I am saying is that when I discuss He@ on this site, I am specifically talking about my novel-in-progress unless I say otherwise. Thus, anything in regards to the book -- be it characters, setting, plot or plot elements -- is copyrighted inasmuch as these things can be.

This entry has been written for the express purpose of covering my rear end legally. Decent folks have nothing to fear from it.

"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood"

I find myself at a rather curious juncture, and need help reaching a decision.

Heliumpunk is rapidly becoming an obsession, expanding like a gas to fill the available volume -- which in this case is the time I normally allocate for devising and writing these blog entries that so many of you love. My time being a finite quality, there will be days when I have to choose between blogging and heliumpunking. The easy solution, of course, is to turn the literary progress into a blog entry, and thus kill two birds with one stone.

Pros:
  • I can keep my commitment to this blog while still honoring the creative impulse (which is why I started this blog in the first place)
  • I can work out some of the rougher details in real time
  • If I make an egregious error of science or logic I'm sure it will be rapidly caught and just as rapidly corrected
  • I can get instant feedback from my readers
  • By posting tidbits of the world, I can generate publicity and a readerbase befoire the thing ever gets published

Cons:
  • Some readers will get sick of the constant heliumpunk entries. Perversely, some will get annoyed that I don't post more of them.
  • Am I risking my intellectual property by doing this? I'd hate to render my stuff "unpublishable" because I put it up on the web. (IP and copyright lawyers, please contact me.)
  • I can get instant feedback from my readers. Yes, this can be a negative -- if you've ever taken a "creative writing" class you know exactly what I mean.
  • There are risks that it may become a novel by committee (see above point)
  • My work might be stolen, or co-opted, or a particularly obsessive reader might claim literary credit or monetary compensation for ideas/characters/etc that end up in the book
Also, I need to see if Plok is cool with all this. If not, then this entire post is rendered moot.

So basically... if you know anything about IP or copyright law, or have firsthand experience in this matter, please let me know your thoughts on this.

Oh yes, one more thing: I've decided to abbreviate heliumpunk as He@. For an explanation as to why the Circle-A is a symbol for punk, go here.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Et miscellanea

ITEM! I have a new header. Special thanks to Shane Bailey of Near Mint Heroes for designing it.

ITEM! According to this document, you only have until April 5 to vote for Omnicron! Don't delay!

ITEM! Chris Sims has a fetish for goth girls! I take credit for this.

ITEM! I love this picture and need to put it on this page. It might just end up in my Profile.

ITEM! Dante of A Blog Called T has declared Lurking Rhythmically to be "one of his favorite blogs."

ITEM! For those perplexed by the phonetic Chinese in the April Fools' post, here are the translations:
  1. Tian Fuhn Di Fu: "Sky tumbles while earth turns over" -- complete disarray or sheer pandemonium.
  2. Da shiong la se la ch'wohn tian: "Explosive diarrhea of an elephant."
  3. Juh shi suh mo go dohng shee: "What the hell is this crap?"
  4. Lio coh jwei ji neong hur ho deh yung duh buhn jah j'wohn: "Stupid son of a drooling whore and a monkey."
  5. Juh guh jee hua juhn kuh pah: "There's nothing in this plan that isn't horrific."
ITEM! All these fun curses and more can be found in the Serenity RPG!

ITEM! Speaking of Serenity, I really, really want this.

ITEM! Heliumpunk is proceeding nicely. Plok and I are hammering out the details of the setting, and characters and plot are beginning to make themselves known.

ITEM! Expect another article about guns in the near future. I stopped replying because I figured if I kept at it there'd be another full blog in the comments section, but then I wouldn't get credit for it, and what's the point in all that?

ITEM! The phrase "Shot my wad" comes from the era of muzzle-loaders, when soldiers in the heat of battle would forget to insert a bullet after pouring in the gunpowder and tamping down the wad of cotton that held it in place, and end up shooting a blank.

ITEM! I've shot my wad.

Monday, April 2, 2007

He fights for... THE FUTURE!

I had to wait until today to post this, or else people might think it was an April Fools' joke.

For those of you who haven't heard of Who Wants to Be a Superhero?, the premise is simple: contestants adopt a superheroic persona, complete with costume, origin story, and powers. Then they live together in a Big Brother style house, where they are expected to be in character at all times. Every so often, they are given challenges to overcome or puzzles to solve. The trick here is that it's not about winning the challenges, it's about how closely you can adhere to the superhero ethos as judged by Stan Lee.

Yes, you heard me: Stan "The Man" Lee is the judge of this show. And sometimes, you can win a challenge by not completing the challenge at all, but by stopping to help the little girl, crying on the sidewak, find her mother. Because that's what heroes do, you see.

The winner of each season gets geek immortality: a Dark Horse comic book and a Sci-Fi channel TV movie about his character. This is, as they are known to say, "the bomb diggety."

The reason I bring all of this up is because there are three semifinalists left for the final spot in next season, and one of them -- Omnicron -- is a longtime City of Heroes player. Many of you know that I, too, am a veteran CoH'er (Guardian channel represent, yo), so I felt obliged to check out his entry.

You can see all of their audition interviews here. Omnicron has his own website which has more information about himself here.

Now, I'm not going to tell you all to vote for Omnicron, nor am I going to disparage the other contestants. What I am asking is that you look at the videos, and vote for the person you honestly feel would make a good superhero.

I further ask that others in the blogosphere make mention of this. Don't link to this blog; link to the contest page. These people are living their dream, and probably our dreams, too. Let's support them in this.

Excelsior!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Tian Fuhn Di Fu

Da shiong la se la ch'wohn tian!

Juh shi suh mo go dohng shee?


Lio coh jwei ji neong hur ho deh yung duh buhn jah j'wohn!


Juh guh jee hua juhn kuh pah!

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