Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I didn't hear any strange beeps but...

I got up this morning right after my cats woke me. This usually happens 10 to 15 minutes before the alarm clock goes off. It's like, well, clockwork.

Monty bothers Daisy who hisses to warn him to leave her alone. She continues to hiss until Christine awakens just enough to tell me to do something about it.

So I get up, switch off the alarm clock, feed them and start the coffee pot since it's still minutes before the automatic timer fires. Yet I stubbornely refuse to re-set it.

I did all that like always, the coffee maker wasn't already on or anything because I remember it making whining sounds when it started.

I let Oliver, the indoor-outdoor cat, out then sat down at my computer. (Christine's friend said recenlty: "You know four cats is getting dangerously close to `strange cat people' behavior.)

I got coffee when it finished brewing, read a few e-mails, blinked and it was an hour later than I thought it was.

I looked down at the time in the lower corner of the screen and thought something was screwed up with my computer. Then I discovered every other clock in the house had the same time.

Cue The Twilight Zone theme.

I don't know if I was abducted by aliens when I let the cat out or what happened but Holy Moses!

1. The alarm didn't go off.

2. The coffee maker didn't start automatically so I think I got up when I thought got up, yet boom suddenly it's an hour later than it's supposed to be.

If I mysteriously disappear, remember this post.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Books I'm Really Enjoying - Touch the Dark

I'm glad I picked up Touch the Dark by Karen Chance. I was prompted to buy it because it was featured in a sampler at World Fantasy, and it's really an enjoyable read.

I've been reading a lot of thrillers lately, and sometimes I forget what a blast a fantasy can be, especially one that has a vampire Mafia, werewolves, clairvoyants and even a golem.

The story is told by Cassandra Palmer, the girl pictured on the cover, though the pentacle on her back is stretched out a little more.

She's fleeing Tony, a vampire mobster, but she also has killer magicians and much more on her plate. Happily, a sequel's due in the spring.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

War of the Worlds

My adaptation of H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds for Mind's Eye Theater from Thayne Multimedia is now on sale in its first location, Teach Out Loud.

Eventually it will be available in more places, but it's ready for the iPod now! It's also available free to the blind at FearYouCanHear.com.

It's believed to be the first radio-style adaptation in the original period setting. Usually it's presented in contemporary settings like New Jersey.

It's done with British actors and features music from a Greek artist so it's an international production.

Friday, November 24, 2006

In Dreams

Charles Gramlich has a post about dreams over at Razored Zen. That made me think about my dreams from last night, which were a little more esoteric than the one he describes.

I'm not sure if there's meaning to be gleaned, and only a fragment remains but it is one of those fragments that carries over the eeriness of the dream world.

I saw a girl I used to know who was struck by a serious illness. She was looking at me, down through a glass or maybe backward through a glass. It was like an over the shoulder glance from the her before the illness.

Maybe I should look up one of those dream interpretation sites - there's probably a meaning for glass, a meaning for a glance from a distant friend.

But maybe there's more mystery in wondering.

Dreams can be our mind's way of forcing us to analyze things.

Maybe it's more important for me to work on it a while than for checking a guide of symbols.

Monday, November 20, 2006

What's on the iPod? - Professional improvement

I wimped out with my Audible downloads and opted for a professional improvement option.

All Marketers are Liars was a featured item on my start screen. Damn you clever web marketers!

I was intrigued by the premise, nothing exactly new, but it made the use of storytelling in marketing sound like the Power of Myth. The lie part is sort of for shock value.

I feel I draw on a lot of the same reservoirs for ad and marketing writing that I do for fiction, and if nothing else theory books can be inspirational and stimulating, so Twilight by Stephenie Meyer was postponed for next month.

The arc
The Liars book brought to mind a backburner radio script that I'm quite proud of that was absolutely storytelling. It offered a one-minute snapshot of a man's life.

It's one of the more satisfying things I've done recently and I guess I'll turn it into a short story or something since it got a pass from my boss.

Based on a true story
It involved a grandfather and his granddaughter and a party, but I based it on an uncle of mine and a moment of cleverness I never expected. When he was about 90 he participated in a husband and wife nursing home pagent.

I don't remember all the areas of competition but one area involved Q&A. You know the same kind they do with Miss America where they all want world peace. My uncle stood on the stage, leaning against a cane, his mind a bit fuzzy from his years. I sat in the audience wondering if he'd be able to respond.

"What's your favorite birthday?" the pageant host asked.

"I don't know which one to pick unless it's the next one," my uncle responded.

I think he took home a trophy for that quip.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Bond Trivia

I have to come up with James Bond trivia for a Bond-themed party my company is hosting. We'll be giving away some things like martini shakers and copies of the trade edition of Casino Royale then probably some DVD sets.

It's not as easy as you'd think because the questions can't be too hard or too easy. Here's what I have so far. Feel free to play at home, although I can't send any prizes.

1. In the films, how does James Bond prefer his martinis?

2. What handgun is Bond most known to use?

3. What Australian actor appeared in only one Bond film?

4. In what film did television's Kojak play the bad guy?

5. Bond villain Goldfinger was backed up by a hat-throwing henchman. What was his name?

6. How much did the Man With the Golden Gun charge?

7. Who sang the title song for The Spy Who Loved Me?

8. What star from Jaws appeared as a bond villain?

Answers

1. Vodka martini shaken not stirred. (OK if you didn't get that one you should really leave the room. Give yourself extra credit if you know the mixture described in the novel Casino Royale.)

2. Walther PPK is the answer we were looking for. (Extra credit if you know he was issued the Walther because his Beretta jammed.) What's he carrying now?

3. Oh come on, honestly, George Lazenby. You had to look? What? Have you been sleeping?

4. On Her Majesty's Secret Service. You'll note a certain tie between questions 3 and 4.

5. Odd Job - some of the people in the office didn't get this one, making me wonder how these are going to fly. He was parodied in Austin Powers. It should be another gimmie.

6. $1 Million a shot, according to the Lulu song, or $1 million per assassination. What other famous movie theme song did Lulu also perform?

7. Carly Simon. I once saw John Davidson perform it on the Tonight Show as "This Girl Who Loved Me. Ackkk!

8. Kind of a sneaky one since there was a henchman named Jaws. The answer we're looking for is Robert Shaw in From Russia With Love, who played the beloved boat-owner Quint in Jaws.

Thanks for playing - have a good day! Enjoy Casino Royale if you go this weekend.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Ray Bradbury Interview - Part 5 (intro)

(At last, here is the final part of my 1995 Interview with Ray Bradbury)

Science is not going in a direction makes hopeful the Bradbury who once longed to live in futuristic cities and loved the 1933 World's Fair for its exhibits that matched SF magazine covers.

"Not as far as space travel is concerned," he says when interviewed. "That's our own fault. We've given up our space flights to the moon, which is a terrible mistake."

The space shuttle, he says, has been relegated to a role that's like delivering mail.

Maybe another space race is what the world needs, and there's still one superpower left.

"I hope that some time in the very near future, we pick a semi-fight with Red China," he says. Then maybe they'll start heading to the moon, and the U.S. will get back on the launch pad. "We all need competition," he stresses. Read more...

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Ray Bradbury Interview - Part 4 (intro)

A grand tale that is as he expounds on it to the audienc. "He sat in a chair and got electrocuted every night," Bradbury explains, painting this illustration so the crowd can envision the barker on a long ago carnival midway: "We are now going to put one million volts into Mr. Electrico's fragile body!"

Bradbury and friends went nightly, checking to see if one time the electric chair would work, but Mr. Electrico always survived to take up a sword and aim it at his amazed patrons.

As he pointed the sword, the guests hair would stand on end. When he aimed it at Bradbury one night, and the charge turned his... Read more

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Ray Bradbury Interview - Part 3 (intro)

(Continuing my article originally published in 1995.)

It was when he was 12 and living in Tucson that myth and metaphor began to come together and his search moved on, he continues in his crisp Midwestern tone as our phone conversation rolls along.

He sat down that year to write his first novel.

From that illustration others would blossom and over time he would reach millions. Read More

Part 1

Part 2

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Ray Bradbury Interview - Part 2 (intro)

(This continues my interview with Ray Bradbury from 1995.)

It goes back further than that season of 8, back to the time he was 3 and collecting metaphors -- myths and fair tales and sips of dandelion wine. He offers those illustrations Tuesday night to the crowd of 1,500 at Centenary College's Gold Dome. Young and old have gathered. To some he's the longtime master of miracles, to others, he's required reading in the flesh; the freshman class has been studying Fahrenheit 451.

In his black suit, blue shirt and tie, Bradbury looks like a breathing version of his cover photos, standing beneath the dome's ceiling, a sky of white cubes. They seem appropriate as a backdrop. They look like building blocks for one of the futuristic cities of his dreams.

He draws laughter as he tells of how he "walked funny" after seeing Lon Chaney in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. "When I was 5, Lon Chaney made the Phantom of the Opera in 1925," he continues, then recalls the film's impact on his imagination -- he borrowed a relative's opera cape and fashioned it to his own needs, sported a set of fake fangs and dropped from trees to scare passers-by.

"There were plans afoot to drown me in Waukegan, IL.," he recalls with a chuckle. Read more...

Start with Part 1

Keeping things Kinky - Friedman that is

The spirt of independence lives on. Over at Get Kinky they are striving to keep the momentum born in Kinky's campaign going.

I love their subhead: Vote your heart, your dreams, and your conscience.

Linda Blair on horror and animals

Linda Blair is featured in the L.A. Times discussing animal protection efforts and her history with horror films.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Ray Bradbury Interview - Part 1 (intro)

(A long time ago - 1995 to be exact, I wrote a feature story on Ray Bradbury, based on aninterview and remarks he made at Centenary College in Shreveport. Since a lot of people drop by here to read my post on The October Game, I thought this might be of interest. In several parts - here is my story on Cosmic Ray from The Alexandria Daily Town Talk, Feb. 25, 1995.)

Ray Bradbury created the Illustrated Man for a 1951 short story collection. The man was a fellow whose flesh had become the canvas for a carnival wtich who tattooed him with multi-colored scenes. Read more...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Elections and people and fear and V - Oh My!

Once upon a time I went with a rabbi and one of his congregation members to visit a family from Russia who had recently relocated to the U.S. I was doing a newspaper story on the effort.

The congregation was helping the family get established in the U.S., and I remember as we drove up to the house where they were staying that the young son was riding his bicycle out front.

This was all before the wall came down, so it was emotional just to see that little slice of American life had already been adopted.

While we visited, the phone rang. It was someone from the government, and that terrified the grandmother of the family. In the Soviet Union a call from the government was bad, always.

The businessman who'd come along with the rabbi consoled her. "It's OK. It's really OK," he said. "You're in America now. We don't fear the government."

Indeed we don't. As Lou Dobbs noted in his CNN.com column this week:

"Voters chose to overturn our current one-party political structure and returned checks and balance to our government. November 7 also demonstrated that the American electorate is far more discerning and independent-minded than either political party or our elites would like to believe." (Read the complete column here.)

The election transcended party, dealt with many issues and indeed reflected the collective flex of the people's will.

Issues I follow
I follow animal cruelty issues and noted earlier Conrad Burns' election was no doubt affected in part by voters offended by his positions and actions on America's wild horses. So too was the election Congressman Richard Pombo of California. Both got a mention in The Wall Street Journal's article on The Humane Society of the United State's election efforts, in fact. It appeared on election day.

Many more issues reflected democracy in action, however. Dobbs notes:

"Voters in nine states issued a stunning rebuke to all levels of government on the issue of eminent domain. In those states, voters halted the rising national trend of allowing primarily local governments to seize personal property for private commercial development. Democrats as well as Republicans would do well to understand that the record long list of state initiatives represents frustration with elected officials at both the state and federal levels."

As the analysis of the week continues the comment from long ago echoes in my head. "We don't fear the government."

Noteworthy quotes
It harkens back much longer to the words of Thomas Jefferson:

"When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty." -- Thomas Jefferson.

That's the comment that was paraphrased as the tagline for V for Vendetta: "People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people."

It's something leaders facing future elections would do well to remember, lest they have to pack their bags and go home like some of the colleagues.

The voters are watching.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Cool Things I Got at World Fantasy Part 2 - The Superhero's Closet

Superheroes are real in Andrew Lynch's novel, an integral part of the society and landscape that 16-year-old Lain Grey must traverse in The Superhero's Closet.

It's a literary, coming-of-age novel set in a comic book universe - what a combination. It's definitely something different!

If you're enjoying NBC's Heroes, check out this book.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The election - Kinky and the whole dang thing

Well, Kinky didn't take the mansion, but he certainly made the race interesting and he highlighted some good points:

Special interests are controlling way too much on the state and national level.

It's hard for an independent do get on the ballot .

People will vote for somebody with perfect hair quicker than they will a writer/singer/songwriter with quips.

If I wore a hat, I'd have it off to him now.

Cool Things I Got at World Fantasy Part 1 - The Black Tattoo

There's always plenty of bling at the World Fantasy Convention. I got a bag full of books and purchased a few more. I also picked up a ton of bookmarks and postcards and other promotional items.

I was excited to get an uncorrected proof of The Black Tattoo, a fantasy I'd actually considered at the store even though I think it's technically a young adult novel - think Harry Potter but a little darker. Just getting started on it, but looks good.

I also bought a chapbook called The Four Redheads of the Apocalypse which seems fun and I'm told by one of its authors, one of the four redheads, that it's under consideration for film option. The four are the wives of Death, War, Famine and Plague. What more can you ask from a chapbook?

Picked up several items from friends too - more on those soon.



Conrad Burns!

Interesting that the power structure in the senate hinges in part on the political fate of Conrad Burns, the man who initially removed protections for America's wild horses by a slick maneuver in an appropriations bill.

Monday, November 06, 2006

World Fantasy 2006

I think I discovered some sort of universal truth this weekend: If you drop back into an environment after many years, it feels the same -- everyone just has whiter hair.

I went down to World Fantasy in Austin with Wayne Sallee, and we connected with people we hadn't seen since the last Ice Age. I haven't been to World Fantasy since it was held last in New Orleans in the '90s.

It was a great time of catching up and browsing a lot of great books at one time, signing a few copies of older books and introducing Wayne's new book, Fiends by Torchlight, to the masses.

I was a little surprised at who'd lost touch with whom, glad to meet some new folks and most of all glad to get a reminder I have great friends scattered across the country.

Once in a while it's nice to get them all together in one place.
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