Monthly Archives: July 2011

Rewrite Ponderment

I was just thinking that instead of a lucky hit in the first chapter, maybe it should be an ambush of by characters that I have introduced later in the book, which would bring in the characters earlier and make it more feasible that a random mugger could kill a super hero with a shovel.

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Quote of the Day

Film poster for Summer School - Copyright 1987...

Image via Wikipedia

Tension breaker, had to be done

Chainsaw (Summer School)

Friday Finds – Web Video

This week, Friday Finds takes a look at Web shorts.

The Guild begins its fifth season as Codex and the rest of the guild head off to the gaming convention.  This series, created by Felicia Day, tells the offline adventures of a group of online gamers.  The series is funny, even if it perpetuates some of the stereotypes of online gamers, though it does it to the extreme.  The first episode of season five is available through MSN, or on the watchtheguild website.

The Mercury Men is a science fiction web series running through Syfy.  It follows the adventures of Jack Yaeger and the League as they face off against the titular menace in the 1970s.  Filmed in black and white, the series is sharply produced and well written, both of which create a cool 1940s serial feel to the episodes.  The series is currently in the fifth episode, with new episodes available Mondays in Syfy‘s website.

Picks of the Week

It’s Wednesday, and, as everyone knows, it’s comic day.  Here are the books that really stand out

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Chat Apps Are (Yep, You Guessed It) For The Birds

When you’re lonely, you begin to search for other means of reaching out to people.  Sometimes it works, a lot of times it doesn’t.  It can get even harder if you are a little introverted.

One such venue you can turn to are chat apps.  They are fairly simple, and since they run on an iPhone or an iPod Touch, they care fairly portable as well.  Of course, the portability breaks down if you are indeed using them on an iPod (specifically the iPod Touch), since this device relies on wi-fi to gain access to the internet.  No internet, and these chat apps are pretty much useless and isolated.

In pursuit of companionship, or at the very least, just someone to talk to, you can turn to a ton of different chat apps.  In my case, I decided to check out The Shore, The City and The Strip.  All three are very similar in nature.  You create a profile to chat with, which includes nickname, picture, preferences (men or women, and what age).  In each, you have the ability to do jobs to earn money, at least, money useable in the game, along with experience.  The more experience, the more job and activity options are available to you.  You also have the ability to buy  property, which pays dividends on a given timetable.  To be honest about the property, it seems that only The City shows any real financial benefit to owning property.  The Shore has a number of properties, but they are low value, and the time-table for payouts is way too long.

In each game, you also have the ability to buy people.  Think of it as a sort of investment, since the people you buy are not beholden to you in any way.  You use money and energy to buy people, and receive money back when someone buys them off of you.  You also receive money when people buy you.  The drawback to all of this is that every once in a while, you actually can end up losing money in spite of a person being bought off of you at a higher price.

Of course, the whole reason to use one of these chat apps is to interact with people.  In all three, you can run conversations like any other chat program.  The drawback is that you are typing on the small virtual keyboard of the iPod/iPhone.  Like texting with one of these devices, you are subject to auto-correction, so you have to type carefully.  You can also send gifts to people.  Each gift costs either money or points (points can be bought through these apps with real money), and can be either accepted, turned down, or ignored.  In The Shore, you cannot access all the available gifts unless you have an ID Card, which is basically a picture of yourself with “The Shore” and your nickname on a piece of paper in the pic.

The first thing you will tend to notice on any of these apps is the large number of “actually” profiles.  These are people who will clarify their ages in their “What People Need To Know About You” section.  Usually, this clarification comes in the form of “I’m not really 20” or “I’m really 14.” (each chat app says that it is restricted to people 17 and older)  These profiles tend to tie into the greater problem of lying on these apps.  Usually, the lie is in the picture, which is often someone famous.  Either that, or there are fifteen people out there who happen to look just like Brooklyn Decker.

The other problem with these chat apps is that there tends to be a greater number of people who choose to boost their game income with extras.  Usually, these come in the form of offering pictures for money.  Some even go so far as to offer pics for actual iTunes gift card codes.  And, as near as I can tell, the pursuit of pictures is so rampant that a few people need to state in their profiles that they do not trade pics.

The other problem with these chat apps is the connection.  People online show up with a green “ONLINE” on their profiles.  From their, it will display how long a person has been offline to a point.  A profile that does not have the time offline or an online message have been offline for quite a while.  The problem is that is you actually engage someone in a conversation, they can go offline, and you will not even know until the first offline message (usually 10 minutes) pops up.  Which means, you can be holding a conversation with someone for ten minutes and not even know they left.

At the moment, none of these particular chat apps are available on iTunes, and there never has been Android versions.  Probably a good thing for both, since none of these apps really seem to be worth the time you put into them.

Books Versus Their Movie Versions

In probably 99% of the time, the book is better than the movie. Books can just go into so much more detail that movies’ limited run time cannot possibly touch upon. In a number of cases, movies will leave out scenes, or combine them for the length of time, or they lose nuances of the book because they don’t think a broad audience will like them.

Naturally, there are always exceptions to the rule. Usually, these exceptions come from books that are based on movies. Many times, the novelization of a book will fail to capture what happens on the screen, or match it so closely that it doesn’t really matter if you’re watching the movie or reading the book.


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Upsides and Downsides – DC Relaunch

Just a few upsides and downsides I see with the upcoming DC relaunch.

Upside

Anthology potential – With the inclusion of DC Universe Presents, All-Star Western, Men of War and My Greatest Adventure, the potential of seeing more of the DC Universe within the themes of the titles is possible.

Downside

High number of “family” books – The Batman family tops out the titles with eleven, and that’s not even counting the October solicitations yet.  While I realize that Batman is quite popular, that’s just too much Batman.

Upside

New characters, new titles – Mister Terrific has not had an ongoing series that I am aware of.  And it had been quite a while since we’ve seen a Captain Atom, Hawk and Dove, Resurrection Man (which I liked the first time around) or Static Shock ongoing.  The expansion of giving characters like this a chance at another title helps to bring in title diversity.

Downside

Number 1s across the board – Every title starts with number 1.  While it is okay for some titles (Justice League, which has been renumbered many times over the years), we lose the history of longer running titles like Action and Detective.  Action Comics itself just celebrated its 900 issue.  Now, all that history (and all the hype over 900) means nothing.

Upside

New divisions – I’m actually pretty keen on the grouping of the titles by theme.  It allows for a bit more cohesion amongst the titles, and makes is easier for people to look for something new.  Like Justice League Dark, then maybe you would like to check out some of the other “dark” titles.  If you like your books a bit edgier, then the “On The Edge” titles may have something for you.

Downside

Lack of continuity – At one time, DC ran number shields on all their Superman books showing the order in which each book falls.  Now, it seems that the titles are a bit more erratic in nature.  Action Comics seems to be covering Superman’s early years, while Superman covers now.  Figuring out where titles fit in is going to be more difficult after the relaunch.

Upside

Cleaning up characters – Power Girl is the example of this.  She was originally created to be an Earth 2 version of Supergirl.  Since Crisis on Infinite Earths, her past has been tweaked again and again to deal with the fact that there was no Earth 2.  Eventually, with the return of Supergirl in Superman/Batman (at least, the return of a Kryptonian Supergirl), Power Girl, though a very likeable character, seems a bit redundant.  Now, according to sources, there will be no post-relaunch Power Girl, though Karen Starr (Power Girl’s alter ego) will remain in the DCU.

Downside

Cleaning up characters – As redundant as Power Girl seems in a universe with Supergirl, she is very popular.  So are the Justice Society of America, who are also gone from the new DCU.  As for Superman’s marriage to Lois Lane, gone, never happened.  They are not even an item in the new DCU.  A lot of fans feel very passionately about these things, and have been quite vocal about it.

Worst Part of Beginning the Rewrite Process

The worst part of the editing and rewriting process I’ve experienced is the elimination of one character.  This one character was a bit of a pain in the neck to deal with the first time, mostly because he was not really just one character, but six.  The character in question could change into one of five different super hero personas, each one with their own personality.  Adding in his own “secret identity” personality, that basically made six different characters I needed to keep track of.  It made me appreciate how difficult it must have been to write Doom Patrol’s Crazy Jane, who had multiple personalities with each one having different powers.

Thus, now that this one character who is really six characters has been eliminated, I need to fill at least some of the spots he filled.  I now have to add in at least two new characters to the mix.

This one nice thing about it is that it eliminates a flying super hero, bringing that number down to two.  It also adds in a little something extra to one of the two flyers which shows how valuable the power is to characters in my story.

My High School Reunion

I did attend my 10 year reunion, feeling that I finally had something to show for it. My 5 year reunion felt too soon after college. And, I did not have anything really substantial to show for it. I was working two jobs, both part time, and just felt like I needed to show more for myself than that.

I did go to my 10 year reunion, as I mentioned. By that time, I had moved onto a full time job where I actually am still employed, so I felt like I had something to show for myself. Heck, I even had business cards. It was not much, but it was something. The only problem with my 10 year reunion was that so few people from my class actually came. I don’t think that we had more than 10 people show up at the first two events that were planned for the weekend. By the time they started taking class pictures, I think I was the only one left there. I ducked out so I could make sure I knew how to get to the location of the last class event. I never made it. A big thunderstorm moved into the state, and the location required me to go over Avon Mountain, which can be dangerous enough when the weather is clear. Besides which, most of the people who did show up were not people I had actually been friends with in school.

As you may think, the whole experience soured me on reunions. Since the 10 year reunion, I skipped the 15 and the 20 without any deep regrets, and have no plans to go to my 25th either.


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How Music Affects My Productivity

A lot of times, the only way I can get work done at all is if there is something on. It can be either music from my iTunes library, or the radio (usually late night fare like Coast to Coast AM). It stimulates the creative side of my mind and gets things going sometimes. Sometimes hearing just the right song will give my creativity a super kick-start and I’ll increase my production.

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