Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Good Morning, Mr. Phelps

Your mission, Jim, should you decide to accept it, is to acquire intelligence critical to our nation's security. As always, should you or any of your IM Force be caught or killed, the secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This blog entry will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck.

PS: Follow the link.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Cool in Retrograde

Cue music: a slow dirge of notes played on a low stringed instrument

Voice-over upon a black screen:
"It was a darker time... our shadows stretched across the mortal world, and the humans shuddered at our influence. Their money was becoming useless, their resources scarce. They reproduced at unprecedented rates, spreading disease with abandon while the greatest of plagues incubated in its dark womb, waiting to decimate the population of continents. Class fought class and race fought race, and all the while great nations sent their young men to die in futile struggles. It was the heyday of Hell...."

Second voice:
"The Dark Ages? The Inquisition?"

First Voice:
"Nineteen Seventy-Seven."

Music speeds up to become the opening bass riff of "Stayin' Alive"

"Well you can tell by the way I use my walk I'm a womans' man..."

Fade in to Logo: Welcome to the world of Gothic Funk.
I must confess a strange nostalgic attraction for the 70s. I remember very little of that decade, having been born in 1973, but its culture has affected and shaped me in a thousand different ways, and my recent delving into Electric Company videos has wakened these memories.

For me, the late 1970s will always be extremely cool to me because that was the era of my brother, Shane, whom I idolized. Anything associated with him was cool, and anything he did was to be emulated. (Fun fact: because he was into Dungeons and Dragons, I was into D&D. He was my first Dungeon Master. Oddly, he outgrew it a few years later, and I've never stopped playing with toys and polyhedral dice.) Shane is seven years older than I am, and while I'm a child of the 80s, Shane was (at least to my starry eyes) completely 70s groovalicious, baby.

Shane was cool. Shane was a teenager in the late 1970s. Thus, the late 1970s were (and still are) cool. QED.

If you seek further proof, look at Quentin Tarantino's films. He seems to be making a career out of all the goofy-fun tropes of that time.

So one day, not too long ago, I was considering role-playing games, and thought: I like Vampires. And I like Goth. Vampires and Goths go together like satin and lace. But sometimes, too much Goth spoils the Vampirism. I wonder, would it be possible to combine Vampires with something else I think is cool, but isn't horribly over-wrought?

Then three thoughts occurred to me, in rapid succession:

Satin and polyester.

Vampires and the 1970s.


Sheer brilliance, as far as I'm concerned: Vampires and muscle cars. Big afros, big fangs. Who's the private dick that bites all the chicks? It's Drac, baby. Can you dig it?

It's the perfect blend of camp and angst, and best of all, I can get rid of so many modern conveniences that can rip huge holes in plots:
  • Cell phones
  • ATM machines
  • 24-hour stores
  • the Internet
I am positively drooling at the thought of this concept. But I'm not quite sure where to begin preparing. Has anyone run a game set in the 1970s? Are there any gaming resources for this era? (What, no GURPS: Disco?)

In short, how could I make the World of Gothic Funk into a complete polyester experience for my hapless players?

I welcome all feedback!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

10 Morgan Freeman Facts

1. The 1989 movie for which Morgan Freeman received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor was originally called Driving Miss Daisy Wild With Desire. Many scenes were cut from the final version of the film.

2. He was originally Shepherd Book in 2002's Firefly, but when the awesomeness of Joss Whedon's scripts combined with Freeman's pimpdaddy-ness, all of the women on set become pregnant.

3. Morgan Freeman literally laughed out loud when he attended the premiere of What Women Want. When he left the theater, every woman in the audience followed him.

4. His character in Batman Begins was originally named "Luscious Fox."

5. He can make women swoon by just scratching his ear.

6. Men too, apparently. Read the comments for the above video!
  • One debonaire motherfucker. That man could tell me I had cancer, and I would immediately spring an erection.
  • Morgan Freeman is not merely the official Voice of Gravitas (tm), he is the pope of all Generation X.
  • I would take a bullet for this guy.
7. Since Morgan Freeman is already God's Gift to Women, it was easy enough for him to play God in Bruce Almighty. He just pretended that he was God's Gift to men, too, and everyone started worshiping him.

8. You aren't gay if you say you'd have sex with Morgan Freeman. It's just the natural order of things.

9. He can sing about the hard and soft sounds of the letter C and turn it into musical foreplay.

10. Morgan Freeman is Samuel L. Jackson's father.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Whatever happened to Omnicron?

No doubt millions thousands hundreds dozens of my loyal readers have, over lo these many months, been asking themselves, "Palette, whither Omnicon?" The answer, I am proud to announce, is thither.

Specifically, Thursdays at 9 PM, on the Sci-Fi channel. Yes, my boy Omnicron made it into the show, even though for copyright/ trademark issues he had to change his name to Mindset. I actually think this is a trade up for him; Greek words don't exactly roll off of most people's tongues these days and it's not a good indication of who he, his powers, or his personality are; Mindset, however, is, and it's snappy to boot.

Speaking of snappy.... Sweet Buttery Eris, he has some wonderful one-liners. No, I shan't spoil them if you haven't seen the episode yet (in which case, hie thee unto scifi.com to watch it now), but I do have to say one thing: when all the other heroes are flabbergasted, he always seems to have a snappy comeback. Nothing like sassing the villain in the very first episode! Of course, he's a City of Heroes player, so I would expect him to act appropriately.

Interestingly enough, the Defuser is also a CoH'er, and I was impressed by his take-charge attitude and focus on teamwork. These are my two "hometown boys" and I'll root for them both. I also like Hyperstrike (who is almost a Naruto caricature come to life) and Basura (because junk powers are kinda cool, and I like that she's an artist like me). The rest of the cast I'm rather "meh" about, and the less said about Token, the Hebrew Wonder, the better. Oy gevalt, what a meshuggener!

I look forward to seeing how "my boys" do in this series. Go, Mindset! Go, Defuser! Make Paragon City proud!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Morgan Freeman: Pimp Daddy Extraordinaire

Salem MacGourley said...
I'm not questioning you, Erin, but Morgan Freeman's been an old man for so long that the mind has trouble wrapping around the words "young", "Morgan" and "Freeman" in correspondence with each other..

Not only was he young, but young Morgan Freeman was a pimp daddy, yo. Behold this clip from the 70s, where he totally macks on Sylvia. Notice how she instantly melts into his embrace... and a screencap at 3:13 makes her intentions plain to all! Despite (or perhaps because of!) a fire-engine red turtleneck and a HUGE afro, he completely rocks her world:

"Put them all together and then you'll know"? Oh, indeed.....

After that, YMF (Young Morgan Freeman... or would Yummy Mother Fucker be closer to the truth?) asks "Where the white women at?"

Answer: In the palms of your hands, YMF. In the palms of your mahogany, pimp-daddy hands!

Time it for yourself: it takes 32 seconds from his appearance on-screen for Carmelita's hands to go to the waistband of her skirt at his seemingly innocuous request for matches. She instantly complies with his request, despite knowing that he doesn't smoke. And look, at the 0:37 mark... her ass is up against his crotch.

"He never seems to get enough?" Oh, mais oui!

That, my male friends, is charisma. Animal magnetism. Sex appeal. You dig? He is smooth, he is cool, he even manages not to look stupid in those terrible 70s fashions. He is leading these women around on a chain of sex appeal and they are loving him for it.

Easy Reader? Oh yes. But also Easy Lover. He can read Anais Nin to me any day...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

WNW: I love to take a bath in a casket

... because, really, who doesn't?


I love to take a bath in a casket
A casket, a casket is the thing
I love to take a bath in a casket
In a casket you will never leave a ring!

By candlelight I soak and sniff carnations
In my casket that is squeaky and old
I love to take a bath in a casket
In my casket I can never catch a cold!

Some vampires like it in a bathtub
Others have tried a sink
But when I am sloshing
I'm wishing to be washing
In something that is soft and lined with pink!

I love to take a bath in a casket
A casket, a casket I crave
I love to take a bath in a casket
Although I take my showers in a grave!

You're the only Blacula for me, Young Morgan Freeman.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

An open letter to Tom Foss

I originally left this as a comment in Tom Foss' blog during his still-unfinished Transformers Week. (Still waiting on that movie review, Tom!) I present it now as a challenge to him in the hopes that he'll put down that Harry Potter novel and answer my burning, serious questions.

The fact that this is an easy way of generating content has nothing to do with it, I assure you.

Hey Tom,

Despite how it may appear, I have a serious question for you regarding the Transformers. To whit: why do the Autobots and Decepticons hate each other?

Being a child of the Cold War, I completely understand why GI Joe are the good guys and why Cobra are the bad. Heck, I even understand why He-Man and Skeletor hate each other. But I don't get why two very scientifically advanced races of sentient robots want to destroy each other.

Now I freely confess that my knowledge of Transfandom is lacking. As a girl, I watched the cartoons on weekday afternoons, but I never saw the movie, and so when the series "jumped" from present day with Optimus to the future with a bunch of retards I'd never heard of, well... I stopped watching, and never really had the urge to get back into the fandom after that.

My initial inclination is to assume that "Autobot" and "Decepticon" are basically militant ideologies; give the Republicans and the Democrats energy weapons and they're almost as likely to start shooting at each other during a session of congress.

But then I realized, there seems to be no political drive to either of these groups. The Decepticons, when they aren't fighting the Autobots for no real tactical gain, seem to engage in what amounts to piracy: stealing energy and other natural resources to either construct new 'cons or escape Earth. The 'bots, on the other hand, tend to just sit around chillaxin' in the Ark, until and unless there is some Decepticon plot that needs thwarting.

So is it a subtle satire? Are the Decepticons slash-and-burn developers intent on raping the land? Are the Autobots eco-friendly stoners?

And if they are, why for Eris' sake are we being taught a lesson in ecology and Gaia reverence by ROBOTS?

As I said, I am perplexed. I would appreciate you addressing this at some point during your Transformers week.

Thank you.

In fact, if ANYONE would like to answer this question, I'd appreciate it. I mean, I get the whole "good vs evil" thing, of course, but there has to be SOME kind of flimsy rationalization for the Autobot-Decepticon conflict. Right? They were at war on Cybertron before they ended up on Earth, yes?

I don't care how patently absurd the answer is, I just want to know their motivations. Ridiculously in-depth socio-political analyses that go far beyond the scope of the original series are more than welcome.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The (long-awaited?) Jericho post

All right, I admit it: I've been dragging my feet for the last few weeks regarding Jericho.

I was all set to do a weekly blog on each episode as it was re-run, and then CBS decided to screw with me by airing the mid-season recap after the 1st episode. As you may guess, this left me in a bit of a dilemma: how does one recap a recap episode? Should I pick up where it left off, and start blogging about "Blackjack"? I suppose I could write about each episode anyway, but it's not feasible for me to try to cram 11 episodes of commentary into a weekly blog.

Now, of course, it's over a week later and not only am I no closer to a decision, I'm two episodes behind schedule.

So here's what I'm gonna do: I will give you links to the individual episodes that CBS hasn't re-broadcasted as well as their summaries (in case you don't have the time to watch or would prefer to read a synopsis instead). I will also state that you must -- categorically MUST -- watch episode 12, "The Day Before," which will answer a lot of questions that new viewers will undoubtedly have.

Episode 2: Fallout Summary
Episode 3: Four Horsemen Summary
Episode 4: Walls of Jericho Summary
Episode 5: Federal Response Summary
Episode 6: 9:02 Summary
Episode 7: Long Live the Mayor Summary
Episode 8: Rogue River (I reviewed this episode earlier this year) Summary
Episode 9: Crossroads Summary
Episode 10: Red Flag Summary
Episode 11: Vox Populi Summary

Episode 12: The Day Before If you don't watch ANY of the others, watch THIS ONE! Summary

Okay. Now you're caught up to mid-season. I owe you two episode blogs -- ep 13, "Blackjack" and ep 14, "Heart of Winter" -- and then I'm caught up.

Unless I don't get to them by Friday, in which case I'll owe you three. C'est la guerre.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

RAC: Blue Sun Travel Posters

Remember the sneak preview of the Miranda Poster? My Bothan spy within the RAC broke a fingernail to bring me this information:
Just keeping you in the loop on developments. We're doing a pre-launch sale of the Series 1 Blue Sun Travel Posters exclusively through the California Browncoats, to help them with their Comic-Con fund-raising. This is *not* the official launch; that'll happen in a few weeks. They've only gotten 300 sets (done as a special run) and there won't be any more until the launch happens in August.
Hmm. Blue Sun Travel Posters.

Oh, I wonder what they might look like! Will you tell me, Mister Browncoat PDF?

Oh, goody! *claps hands merrily*


The Blue Sun Travel Company encourages citizens of the Alliance to explore the many amazing vistas that comprise our proud republic. It’s a great big ‘Verse full of fabulous sights to see and exotic cultures to experience. Whether you partake in the ancient and noble tea ceremony at the Companion Guild House on Sihnon, behold the awesome canyons of glass and steel on Londinum, enjoy the many distractions of the Gateway District on Persephone, shed a tear for our fallen Alliance heroes at the Monument at Serenity Valley, or be among the first to experience the pure tranquility of Miranda, a multitude of star systems full of unparalleled adventure await you.

And Blue Sun Travel is ready to take you there.

In an effort to help inspire future honored guests, Blue Sun Travel is publishing several art print sets showcasing some of the many locations that we can take you to. In the past you would have only seen prints of this quality adorning the walls of your local Blue Sun Travel office, or proudly displayed in high-traffic areas like Persephone’s Eavesdown Docks or along the bustling streets of Beaumonde. But now, thanks to our partnership with fellow Blue Sun subsidiary, Quantum Mechanix Inc., you too can own a set of Blue Sun Travel Posters.

This officially licensed set contains 5 full-color, 17” x 22” prints on 100-pound, satin-finish paper. Suitable for framing and all for just $29.95. Included in the set are posters inviting you to travel to historic Serenity Valley, tranquil Miranda, exciting Persephone, beautiful Sihnon and awe-inspiring Londinum. For more information, go to www.quantummechanix.com, or sign up for the QMx Insider newsletter at insider.quantummechanix.com.

Blue Sun Travel – We Bring the ‘Verse to You

SERENITY VALLEY: There is perhaps no place of greater significance in the ‘Verse than Serenity Valley, located on the planet Hera. It was here that all the worlds of the Alliance were finally united, ushering in an era of lasting peace and prosperity.

MIRANDA: Seeking rest and relaxation? Then beautiful Miranda is the place for you. Just a few days’ flight from the core, Miranda offers Alliance citizens the opportunity to truly get away from it all.

PERSEPHONE: Persephone is a planet like no other! It’s a one-stop shop for anyone wishing to experience all the wonders the ‘Verse has to offer. You can shop the vast array of exotic wares in Ginza, play all day and night in Gateway, or find transport to any place your traveling heart desires at the Eavesdown Docks.

LONDINUM: Londinum is the very heart of the United Alliance of Planets. Yet beyond simply being the center of the greatest government humanity has yet known, it is also a masterpiece of classical and modern architecture, recalling the former glory of Earth That Was while pointing a clear beacon skyward to our future of limitless potential.

SIHNON: Words don’t do justice to the beauty and mystery that awaits you on Sihnon. Home to the famous Companion Guild House, Sihnon is a beacon of civilization and a true wonder to behold.

Wow! Thank you, Mr Browncoat PDF! Why, that's a steal at only $29.95! And there are just 300 sets in the pre-release sale? I'd better get down to Comic-Con!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Boo Boop BEEP

We're sorry, but the person whose blog you're reading --

Erin Palette

-- is currently unavailable for update. She is currently screaming at the top of her lungs, throwing crockery against the walls, and generally running amok

amok amok amok

in response to a wild-ass claim by Bank of America that she owes them nearly $1000 for an account she closed back in Two Thousand and Five.

Please leave a comment at the sound of a creditor begging for mercy

oh dear god no please not the weasels again

and she will attempt to update as soon as she has wreaked her bloody, demonic vengeance.

Thank you for reading, and look for a Jericho update soon.

Quick impression for you. Caw! Caw! Caw! Bang! Fuck, I'm dead!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

More Blatant Fanservice

Because I'm not feeling well enough to be creative, here's a video about two hot girls in a car.

Since this is a shameless ploy to increase my Google hits, I suppose I should use the following keywords: oral sex car lipstick lesbians

There. If I don't see a jump in readers I shall be quite upset.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Wednesday Night Wackiness: Sad Kermit

More like Emo Kermit, if you ask me.

This technique is Ironic Union, better known as Juxtaposition. In this case, the irony of using a beloved childhood friend to sing a song about loss and drugs only serves to heighten the perceived sadness, much as how the horror of the ear cutting sequence in Reservoir Dogs is enhanced by the incongruity of the song "Stuck in the Middle With You".

Even when providing filler, I attempt to enlighten and entertain.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

3 Zen koans for RPGs

What is the sound of 1[d-1] rolling?

When I sleep, I dream of my character. When my character sleeps, does she dream of me?

A zen master is playing in a game of Dungeons & Dragons. At a critical moment, he is asked to roll a Reflex save to see if he can save the princess. "May I take negative ten?" he asks.

The party is dumbfounded, and the Dungeon Master is suspicious. "Why would you want to do that?" he asks. "Surely you want to succeed at this, because the princess will die otherwise."

"I ask this because I feel I have too great of a chance of success," explained the master. "If I roll this die, I will succeed, and knowing that has robbed this moment of its drama for me. Thus I would like to fail, for it is in recovery from failure that true heroism is born."

"Just roll the fucking die," snarled the DM, still expecting a trick. The zen master obliges and rolls a natural twenty.

After the game, one of his part members asked him, "Dude, what was up with that? Ya'll was trippin' an' shit. Why you wanna fuck with the party?"

The zen master replied: "I did not wish to fuck with the party; rather, I wanted to fuck with the die."

And the player was enlightened.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Waka Waka Waka

It amazes me
When I have nothing to say
And yet I still blog;
As if my constant talking
Will invoke my muse.
Any fool can fake haiku.
Structured poetry, you say?
Syllabic masturbation.


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Troy Hickman? Doesn't He Work With Margaret Weis?

So, back to our heartwarming tale of a stranger in a strange comic book land (hey, it IS strange; haven't you ever been to a convention? It's 65% desperate, sexless nerdiness and 35% stench).

Anyway, my comics "career" was doing ok for what it was. I was doing a bunch of relatively successful, critically-acclaimed mini-comics, and an occasional indy gig here and there (like the aforementioned Cosmic Waves, or Tyim Court's wonderfully irreverent Narcoleptic Man, which can now be read online).

But I didn't feel "complete" yet, as I hadn't published a superhero comics, which is what brought me (and truth be told, the majority of us) into the comics vocation/avocation in the first place. Luckily, a series of coincidences eventually threw me together with my small press cohort and pal, Jerry Smith, and the two of us began work on a series I'd created called Holey Crullers. The premise of the book was that of a donut shop for superheroes and villains, a place where characters could talk without all the fisticuffs, allowing me to do what I really love: writing dialogue.

So we put out a digest-sized comic, Holey Crullers #1, featuring two stories. The first was about the super-fast Speeding Bullet, whose powers were slowing driving him into a deep depression. The second features teen hero Deb-U-Ton encountering, and taking advice from, a rabbi with dissolving powers called the Acidic Jew.

The first issue did well with my fellow small press pals, but there was concerned among them that this "talking heads" format wouldn't be dynamic enough to carry more than a single issue of a comic.

Naturally, being the contrary SOB I am, I decided to make it a continuing series, and eventually cranked out six more issues, and almost no fight scenes whatsoever. What they did feature, however, were superheroes and villains conversing in adjoining bathroom stalls, Crullers' waitresses thwarting evildoers, crimefighters driving VW bugs, homeless superbeings, overweight superbeings, elderly superbeings, giant monsters eating donuts, the creators of the comic being besieged by escaped baboons and errant bluesmen, and just about anything else I could think of that was the antithesis of the average superhero comic.

Given that I was trying to do everything the opposite the way capes & tights book are normally done, it should have been a recipe for failure and ridicule (like the rest of my life). But darned if it didn't work somehow.

Then, somewhere around Crullers #4, I set up my usual table at the Chicago Comicon. It was an average year, but as always a very pleasurable time. About a month later, however, I received a letter from a guy named Jim McLauchlin, one of the high muckety-mucks at Wizard Magazine. In it, Jim told me he'd picked up issues of Crullers at the convention (based solely on thinking it was a cool name). Moreover, he absolutely loved the comic, and was going to make sure Wizard did an article on the damned thing.


And so they did. I was interviewed for the mag, and within a couple of months, in Wizard #79, there was a story about me and my comics. In fact, there was four pages about my stuff, in the most mainstream comics publication in the country, four pages about an unknown black and white mini-comic, right there alongside articles about the X-Men and Grant Morrison. How did it feel? Well, take the best sex you've ever had in your life, combine it with the satisfaction of a great meal and the release of a really fine poop, multiply it by ten, and you'll have some small idea of how it felt.

The Wizard folks pulled out all the stops, too. They even had some of their staff dress up in makeshift hero costumes and sit at a donut shop counter for photographs that were included with the article.

(Here's a little known fact: when I sent Jerry the script for Crullers #6, I requested that he take the main photo from Wizard, of the heroes at the counter, and incorporate it as an image into the "Loose Ends" story that dealt with the origin of the Crullers franchise, which he did. Then, when the stories were redrawn for Common Grounds years later, I asked the same thing of artist Dan Jurgens, and he also played along. There's something about the self-fulfilling prophecy of all that which really appeals to a part of me).

I really felt I'd arrived because of that article, and it began changing things for me almost immediately. My mail orders for Holey Crullers increased exponentially. My sales at the next year's ChicagoCon were so brisk that I had to send home for another box of comics before the weekend was over. A couple of comics shop owners asked me to do signings at their shops. It was certainly a different reception from the dog-and-pony show I'd previously had to put on to get anyone to notice my comics, or the sneers I'd received if anyone DID notice.

The biggest change was yet to come, though. What I didn't know is that Jim had passed on my comics to a fella named Fabian Nicieza, and...well, let's leave that for next time.

Next: Troy Hickman Destroys the Acclaim Universe!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Will it blend?

In perhaps the most shocking display of conspicuous consumption I have yet seen, Tom Dickson blends an iPhone.

With a blender.

I am aghast, and yet, the artist inside me approves, for I too have had a similar dream: a dream where I pursue a career in politics, or perhaps law, for the express purpose of appearing before a Senate subcommittee headed by Ted Kennedy. And whenever the Elder Senator from Massachusetts asks me a question, I will proudly state in a loud, clear voice -- a voice that will resound throughout the chamber, and across C-Span, and mayhap even the entire world ---

Sure, I'll be flushing my political career away just to deflate that pompous windbag, but Sweet Buttery Eris, it will be worth it.

Friday, July 13, 2007

SCSI logic

Some time later, I was fixing my computer when I realized that the Revelations of St. John of Patmos were neither Serial (chronological) nor Parallel (concurrent), but was in fact SCSI. (Let me know if that doesn't make sense and I'll explain it in another post.)
Since someone asked, I'll now attempt to explain it. Please bear with me if my descriptions are not 100% accurate.

A Serial connection is used when you have to send a discrete series of data in a very specific order. The classic example of this is a joystick input: the data for "up," "down," is effectively worthless if it is received in the wrong order than it was sent. (You zag instead of zig, and your Doom avatar gets fragged.) Because it is optimized for receiving data in sequence, it's not great at handling massive amounts of it. Think of it like a chute, and each bit of data is a horse being led to a barn: you have a great chronology of data there, but it's easy to get it backed up.

A Parallel connection, on the other hand, is GREAT for large amounts of data, like a print request, that doesn't need to be executed particularly quickly. In this case, the analogy is like the starting gate of the Kentucky Derby, with each horse again as a data bit: you open the gates, the data-horses stream down the track, and regardless of who gets there first they all end up at the finish line. If you imagine each race as a discrete packet of data, then a print job being sent to your printer is a lot like a new race starting the moment the horses are out of the gate: you don't care which bit (horse) gets there first, but you can't mix up the races.

SCSI is the best of both of these, and is effectively a bunch of serial connections all running in parallel. Meaning, you can shove a whole lot of data down the pipes quickly, and your horse race becomes a cavalry charge.

So that's all well and good, you say, but how does this relate to the Book of Revelations? Well, the common conception regarding any kind of prophecy is that it's a kind of checklist to be marked off: First you have the Seven Seals, and until and unless that Seventh Seal is broken, you won't hear the first of the Seven Trumpets sound. This is pretty much the definition of serial. But when a Seal is broken or a Trumpet is sounded, it brings with it a lot of pretty densely packed information that a simple serial connection couldn't handle.

Now, I'm not saying that the Apocalypse is literally a computer program that God executes on his massive cosmic computer (though if you're a student of the Kabbalah you can immediately see how the Tree of Life could represent the Universe as Operating System), but -- well, take a look at this and tell me that you don't see a SCSI array:

There you go. I'm either mystically enlightened or utterly mad....

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Random blatherings

Yeah, not a whole lot of structure to today's post. Some days I just feel like rambling, ya know?

I'm rather pleased with the results of last week's poll -- 59% of you stated you'd buy pretty much anything I decided to write, and 31% said it'd depend on the subject matter, so if I manage to find the right amount of geek interest, I could conceivably get 90% of my readership to buy my work. For someone who's only been blogging since February of this year, that ain't hay.

So in the interest of generating hype, interest and random speculation, let me say that I am writing something that has a better-than-decent chance at getting picked up commercially. It's little more than an outline at this point, but things are going well and in the next few months the serious writing begins. It's my hope to have this enterprise ready to throw at a publisher by Christmas... and wouldn't that be a fabulous little present to myself?

Since I want to baste my brain with creativity, I've been reading and watching all sorts of things unrelated to my story. I don't know if this works for anyone else, but it holds true for me: the more I think on a subject, the more likely I am to fixate on it and not be creative; but if I allow my mind to wander all over the place, I get some very creative (and very strange) notions:
(Okay, maybe not that last one.)

ANYhoo... the point remains that, if I'm writing about N, then clearly I should read/watch/experience Not N. Thus, samurai. (And you may safely deduce that I am not writing a book about samurai.)

Now... I'm not declaring a theme week or anything (and yes, I'm fully aware I still owe you a week of My Lurking Sound), but since I'm currently on a samurai binge, you can reasonably expect me to blather on about them for at least a post or two. If I get a week out of it, I'll call it a week in retrospect.... but I'm just as likely to shift gears and start talking about Zelazney's Amber Chronicles or somesuch.

As I said before, I am a literary trainwreck.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

And now, your moment of Zenarchy

I have discovered the Holy Grail of job interview answers.

If, during the course of an interview, the interviewer should happen to ask you that much-hated question, "What's your biggest weakness?" or some other query designed to:
  1. See if you can put a PR spin on a failing, turning a flaw into a virtue;
  2. Measure the believability of your BS; or
  3. See if you are indeed stupid/naive enough to answer honestly;
then feel free to borrow a page from Auntie Palette's Little Black Anarchist's Cookbook by saying the following:

"My biggest weakness is that I refuse to answer questions like that one."

Maybe you won't get the job, but BY GOD, you'll have your dignity.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Paradox of Respect

Recently, I left a Forum/BBS/Place where people throw shit up against the wall. I'll spare you the details of why I left; suffice it to say that it had become a toxic place wherein I was mocked, harassed, and threatened for my beliefs and opinions, and that many of the people doing the mocking and harassing were moderators.

You know, the ones who are supposed to be better than that.

I digress. Anyway, it got to be too much for me, and I left. Aside from resigning my position (I was moderator of a small forum within the section), which I did through a personal message, I didn't tell anyone else I was leaving; instead, I quietly packed up my things and left. I am not a great believer in the Great Flounce-Off, and as such I left with as little fanfare as possible.

That was nearly a month ago, and people are just now beginning to realize that "Hey, we haven't heard from Palette in a long time, what's up with her?" Those who have cared enough to send me emails have received polite replies from me telling them why I left. Some of them have asked me to come back.

Herein lies the paradox: They have asked me back because they respect me. However, if I were to do as they asked, I would in effect be stating that my ego is more important than my principles. And if that were the case, then whatever respect they might have had for me would be lost, as I would have proven that all I really wanted was the attention of someone begging me to come back; in other words, my leaving would have been nothing more than a Great Flounce-Off.

Odd, isn't it? They don't treat my opinions or feelings with respect, so I leave... which somehow earns me enough respect that I am asked to return. But if I do return, they won't respect me ever again.

I bring this up not as a stab at those people who were kind enough to tell me that my absence was noted -- because I really do appreciate it, it's nice to know I'm missed -- but to illustrate to them why I can't do what they ask without ceasing to be the person they respect me for being.

In conclusion, I'd like to quote from the lovely Lady of the Manners and her wonderful blog, Gothic Charm School:

Telling someone that their reaction to something is stupid is never a good idea. Everyone has their own opinion, and no one is going to agree about everything all the time. But there are worlds of difference between telling someone you don’t agree with them and telling someone that they are stupid for caring about something. One leads to a potentially interesting discussion, while the other leads to pointless drama and snippy comments hurled to and fro.

Oh, and about the pointless drama and to-and-fro-ing of snippy comments: look Snarklings, the Lady of the Manners is going to be very blunt. Spending time mocking people for not thinking like you do makes you seem like a sad loser. Sure, you may think you’re being terribly clever and funny and oh-so-superior; what you’re actually doing is showing people that your life is very empty and that you have nothing better to do with yourself. Proclaiming that you’re only behaving this way because you think it’s all so terribly funny isn’t a good excuse, either. In short, you’re acting like a troll. Why should anyone take you seriously?

Well spoken, Lady; my sentiments exactly. That's why I left that toxic place, and why I shall never return.

Monday, July 9, 2007

More Reader Mail

And now, it's time to answer more Reader Mail!

In response to my post A Taste of Things to Come, Jeff asks:
You've decided to become a samurai, haven't you?
Nice try, but no. However, I will confess an attraction to the romance of the Samurai lifestyle: the silk kimonos, the emphasis on honor and duty, the intricate and ironclad rules of etiquette; even the zen spirituality is appealing. I often entertain flights of fancy where I sell all my worldly possessions and move to Japan where I live high in the mountains and apprentice myself to a master artisan and commit my life to the pursuit of excellence.

This fantasy usually lasts about 5 minutes before I realize that without medication and a climate-controlled environment, my allergies would make me utterly miserable, and if they didn't kill me then the utter boredom of not having an internet connection would. Still, it's a nice little dream.

Regarding The Sisters Weirde:
While the strength of your premise is the dynamic of your characters, I think there would be some difficulty with a particular power they have in common, which is the ability to change age. This would require each character to be represented by multiple actors, which, while seemingly exciting, could prove to be difficult. Not only for the actors to work together on learning the character's mannerisms and personalities, but as well as hiring actors in the first place. I'm not a producer but I have to assume trying to get someone to sign a contract for only a few episodes could be difficult. That and the opening credits might be a mess. Perhaps I'm just overestimating how often the ability would be used?
You're overestimating, yes, both in how often it would be used and how severe the transformation would be. There's a lot that can be done with makeup and CGI these days, and that's one of the reasons I kept the two older sisters within a 20-year age range. As for Chloë , Anne Hathaway has a young face, and with the right special effects can easily pass for 16 and perhaps younger. On the rare occasions when she needs to appear younger than that, a guest star can be used, but only for the scenes where the transformation is necessary -- rather like how in Quantum Leap, the "Al is holographic" effects and the "ZOMG Sam is in someone else's body" reveals were kept to a minimum.

Will you marry me?
Oddly, this is my first internet marriage proposal, and I've been doing this since February. I suspect I'm losing my touch.

Regarding my synopsis of the first episode of Jericho, the mysterious entity known only as "c" stated:
Next Friday night (7/13), CBS will air a recap special summarizing episodes 2 through 11, skip episode 12 entirely, and follow the recap show with episode 13, "Black Jack." I hope this revelation does not unduly disturb the rhythm of your lurking.
Disturbed? Oh... a little.

Is Troy Hickman as strange as his posts make him out to be?
Darling, you have no idea how strange Troy is. He regularly sends me emails with subject lines reading "Floobity Flobbity," "I Just Ate A Dog," and of course my favorite, "CRACK COCAINE!" Getting a coherent statement out of him usually requires a half-hour of beating him about the head and shoulders with a chair leg:

The worst part is, he admits it. Here it is, from issue 5, page 3, of his indy comic Holey Crullers, wherin he is writing dialog for himself within the comic book:

Troy Hickman -- the Inappropriate Comment that walked like a man!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Troy Hickman: Let My People Go (But Not To This Movie)

Sweet sassy molassey, I've lost the will to live.

As a few of you may know if you've read my posts elsewhere, I've maintained that Terror Toons is without a doubt the WORST movie of all time. Well, I'll stick to my guns with that contention, but I think I may have found First Runner Up.

But let me start at the beginning. A few weeks ago, my son Gabriel and I went to our local Blockbuster to exchange some movies (we belong to one of the "all you can rent for $20 a month" plans, and you're able to take the DVDs you receive in the mail into the store for immediate replacements, making it twice as good a deal).

So there we are, wandering through the racks when Gabriel, who has a real gift for camp, picks up a DVD box and says "Hey, how about this?"

There before me was something called The Watermelon Heist, with a cover depicting a lot of smiling black folks, including TV favorite John Amos, and Last Comic Standing's Corey Holcomb. It looked like a particularly goofy grade D comedy, and we had a good laugh over the cheesiness of it all.

"OK, we'll get it next time," I said to Gabriel, CLEARLY joking.

But genetics are a powerful force, and my kid has apparently inherited both my sense of humor and my penchant for tossing a monkey wrench into the ointment. So when we stopped into Blockbuster yesterday, I found myself once again face-to-face with The Watermelon Heist.

"You said we could get it this time, Dad."

Sometimes I think the part of me I most abhor is my near-obsession with keeping my word. Before I knew it, we were driving home, with John Amos' grinning face staring up at me.

Today, before I knew it, we were putting the DVD into the player.

An hour ago, before I knew it, I had spent 89 minutes of my life watching The Watermelon Heist.

And dying a little bit inside.

I...I really don't know what to say about this movie. I'm not even sure I can call it a movie. It's more like something Josef Mengele might have used to test human endurance. It's like something out of Lovecraft, except that if it were, at least it might be mercifully unspeakable.

But how can I truly convey how gut-wrenchingly awful this THING is? How can I get across that it makes a Stygian septic tank look like an Al Jaffe pile of doggy doo?

Do I tell you about the...er...for lack of a better word...plot? That it's about half a dozen black hillbilly types who have spent their lives on welfare, can't pay their property taxes, and therefore have to steal watermelons from farmer John Amos to win a "best watermelon" contest and collect $25000?

Do I tell you that, while the movie is mainly filmed, about 10% of it is made up of quick shots taken ON VIDEO? Do I tell you that the closest thing to a laugh you'll get here is when Amos is watching Chris Rock on TV for about two minutes, so they just insert the stand-up footage directly into the movie (and I'm guessing it's not with Rock's permission)?

Do I tell you about the "characters"? Included are Holcomb as Nicodemus "Nicker" Brown, his semi-retarded, constantly humping and masturbating brother Horny, his brother Numbers (thus named because he...uh...loves to count things), their Bryant Gumbel-sounding brother Whitey, and their sisters, the head-bobbing, talk-to-the-hand twins Mercedes and Caprice.

Do I tell you how the film seemed to have been written and directed by the Grand Wizard of the Novi Michigan chapter of the Ku Klux Klan? Do I tell you about the main characters dressing in chicken costumes to make a buck when the welfare checks just aren't cutting it? Do I tell you about "Horny" professing his love for "blond white women" and his attempts to hump his own female relatives? Do I tell you about how practically every other black character in the film is a Kool-Aid swilling, menthol-cigarette smoking, collared green-eating pimp?

Ya know, I would be remiss if I didn't point out two things about the film's "big name," John Amos: (1) He played the adult Kunte Kinte in Roots. (2) He left his role on Good Times in part because he (and his co-star Esther Rolle) believed that Jimmy Walker's "J.J." character was insulting to blacks (which in itself was ironic; while Walker was possibly the only thing funny about that truly awful sitcom, the influence of Rolle and Amos gave us such war atrocities as the episode about racially-biased testing in schools, a bit of excrement that may well be one of the most offensive and singularly mind-numbed episodes in all of 1970s television).

Given that, you'd think he'd be at least a LITTLE hesitant of taking part in a movie that makes David Duke look like Desmond Tutu. But not only does he dive into the dung heap headfirst, but also brings his entire family along for the trip (the film is directed by his son K.C., and supposedly "inspired by a true story" told to him by his father, John Amos Sr.).

Shame on you, John Amos. Shame on anyone who had anything to do with this drizzingly shitburger. And not because it demeans blacks, but because it demeans us all. I would suggest some appropriate punishment for your crimes, but truth be told the only torture sufficient would be to make you watch Terror Toons, and I'm afraid that would just give you ideas.

The Watermelon Heist is the only movie to ever cause my son to turn to me and say, sincerely, "I'm sorry I picked this one, Dad. I really am."

On the plus side, we feel closer than we ever have, much like the guys who braved mustard gas together in the trenches of Ypres.

If you find yourself staring at the DVD box of this film on your video store's shelves, folks, just remember that sometimes the abyss stares back at you.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Jericho: Pilot Episode

Wow. Still as good as it was the first time around!

Just so you know, I don't intend to recap the episode for you: I trust that you actually sat down to watch it or, failing that, you recorded it and intend to watch it later. If for some reason your VCR malfunctioned, you can watch this episode online, for free, at the Jericho website, and if you do need a recap you can get a refresher at the Jericho Wiki.

No, this is mostly going to be my thoughts, feelings, and opinions about this show, interspersed with "You might've missed this!" and "Isn't this cool?"

I love how the series starts out: seeming for all the world like a weepy "coming home" drama, replete with music by The Killers (All These Things That I've Done): Jake's awkward reunion with ex-girlfriend Emily; strained conversations with his father; evasive questions as to where he's been for the past five years (as as aside: did anyone else make a Grosse Pointe Blank connection, or is it just me?
[Practicing in a mirror before his high school reunion]
Marty: Hi. I'm, uh, I'm a pet psychiatrist. I sell couch insurance. Mm-hmm, and I - and I test-market positive thinking. I lead a weekend men's group, we specialize in ritual killings. Yeah, you look great! God, yeah! Hi, how are you? Hi, how are you? Hi, I'm Martin Blank, you remember me? I'm not married, I don't have any kids, and I'd blow your head off if someone paid me enough.
... maybe it's just me.)

Anyway, I love how everything starts out so painfully mundane, and then right before the first commercial break, BAM! You see that mushroom cloud and you know, just know, that everything is about to change for the worse. What a way to begin a series, eh?

Some other noteworthy stuff:
  • If you can't do it with quality, do it with quantity: Jake making a tracheotomy tube out of a dozen juicebox straws is perhaps the most player character thing I've seen lately.
  • Johnston Green sure has a nasty cough, doesn't he? He'd better get that looked at...
  • Gray Anderson, the man I love to hate... the way he shamelessly manipulated worried parents and tried to turn the missing children into political leverage. He's going to be trouble, you can just tell.
  • Speaking of trouble: that Robert Hawkins has an oddness to him, don't you think?
  • And finally, Gracie. She strikes me as the kind of weepy Oprah-watching woman I hate. I mean, really: Dale shows up at her store late at night... she lets him in, so clearly she trusts him, right? And yet when he -- her stockboy, don't forget -- starts taking the food outside, what does she say? Not "What are you doing" or "Let me help you," but "Why are you stealing from me, Dale?" WTF? Her first reaction is that he's stealing from her? She has "victim" written all over her.
Finally: Right before the blast, when the little girl is playing Hide and Seek and is counting down? That's a reference to the 1964 Johnson Campaign's "Daisy" Commercial.

Stay tuned next week for Episode 2, when the town of Jericho, Kansas must deal with.... Fallout!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Sounding the horns of Jericho

Faithful readers might have noticed that I have some small fondness for the Jericho TV show.

(Fun fact: over 20 tons of peanuts were delivered to CBS studios by disgruntled fans. For those curious, the food was donated to local food banks, which gave them to various charities as well as to our troops overseas.)

CBS is really pushing this ad -- I saw it no less than three times tonight while watching Pirate Master (shut up, I like pirates!) which tells me that they're taking this renewal seriously. I approve. *golf applause*

If you haven't seen this wonderful show, I strongly encourage you to give it a try. In fact, I'll be blogging about each episode after it airs, so if you want to know what I'm talking about you'd best watch the show, either every Friday night at 9 pm eastern time (starting tomorrow!) or you can go to the Jericho website and watch the episodes online!

Yes, I know that some of the first episodes are a bit weak, but don't worry, I'll be here to hold your hand and coach you through the rough parts. Trust me -- It will become awesome before you know it.

An open letter to everyone bitching about Transformers

Dear choads who are bitching about the Transformers movie,

Would it have killed you to put a "Spoilers" tag on your posts? Apparently so, because after reading just TWO blogs, the movie has been totally ruined for me. I know who dies (and thus, who lives) and I know pretty much the entire structure of the third act. And I didn't sit there and read the whole entry, either; I stopped reading the moment I found out something I didn't want to know.

Now I can't watch the movie, because I'll be unable to shut my brain up. I don't know how it is for you assholes, but when I go to a movie and I know someone is gonna die, there's a continuous loop of dialog that runs through my head: "Is this where he dies? Is this where he dies? Is this where he dies?" And I cannot shut it up until that person actually dies.

If you think I'm going to sit through a third act where, its surprises being lost to me, I am constantly analyzing each scene to see if it fits what I know is going to happen... you can go fuck yourselves.

So yeah. I can't watch it now. Are you proud of yourselves, shitheads? You've completely ruined the experience for me. I have to wait until I've forgotten what was spoiled (which, knowing my capacity for useless factoids, will be about a decade) and of course the movie will be out of theaters by then. How would you have liked it if, right before you watched The Empire Strikes Back, someone had told you that [SPOILERS] Vader was Luke's father ?[/SPOILERS]
Wouldn't that have completely and utterly ruined the whole movie for you? Wouldn't it have completely destroyed the mystery and tension of the "Force Cave" sequence on Dagobah?

God, you're all such whiny fucking little fanboys, aren't you? The movie isn't a perfect wankfest of your childhood memories. DUH! This is the Hollywood machine, people; its entire purpose in life is to take a giant stinking shit on beloved memories in an attempt to wring cash from your pockets. Hell, even the original Transformers movie was a betrayal, in that [SPOILERS] they killed almost the entire first generation of Autobots in, what, the first 15 minutes? [/SPOILERS]
What ever made you think that this was going to anything else? Was the name "Michael Bay" not a giant FUCKING clue that the movie just might not be faithful to the source material?

I hate you all. Please fuck off and die.

Erin Palette

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

What the heck is wrong with you, slacker?

Yeah, I've been saying that a lot, lately.

I just haven't had the time to update as much as I'd like. The computer I use is shared by the family, and is within range of the television which is LOUD (Dad was a Colonel in artillery).

So I haven't had nearly as much time to write as I'd hoped. I'm trying to make time, but lately when I've been able to get everyone off to bed so that I can write in peace.... I'm exhausted and just want to go to bed myself.

I feel like I'm letting my readers down. Like I'm a lazy slacker.

Anyway, I'll try to have SOMETHING substantial on Wednesday. I really, really want to talk about why I posted a Seven Samurai trailer under "A taste of things to come."

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