Tuesday, November 30, 2010

If there's anything you wanted to do this November

You'd better get to it today.

I thought this comic was very funny yesterday. I'd like to share it.

Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomic
Cyanide & Happiness @ Explosm.net

Also, I received a very polite and courteous note from No Frills asking me to no longer park at their store while I'm at work. It was probably the most courteous and polite way to say they're going to tow my vehicle and they've got a record of my license plate that I've ever heard. So good for them, it's a definitely a frill I didn't expect.

I may have some fun with Lost podcasts from the old days - I found a series of podcasts that talk about the show from back in 2005, and knowing what we know now, it's interesting to see what people were saying back when Dharma was known as "Dharma Corp." and not the "Dharma Initiative." They weren't far off what the story was telling, believe it or not.

It would make an interesting review.

Anyhow - have a good day.

Monday, November 29, 2010

“Doing nothing is very hard to do...you never know when you're finished.”


(1926–2010)

Pneumonia steals another comedian from us.
He's possibly Victoria Composite High School's most famous graduate.

Actor Leslie Nielson has died at the age of 84.

He passed away in a Florida hospital where he was being treated for pneumonia.

In September 2003 Grant MacEwan opened the Leslie Nielson School of Communications.

Before making his way into acting he worked briefly as a disc jockey in Calgary.

Nielson is probably best remembered for his roles in "Airplane!", "Police Squad!" and the "Naked Gun" movies.

In 1988 he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2001 was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame. And in 2002 Nielson was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Actor Leslie Nielsen dead at 84
29 Nov, 2010 05:07 PM
Leslie Nielsen, a serious actor who became a comic star with his career-changing roles in "Airplane!" and "The Naked Gun" comedies, died Sunday in Fort Lauderdale. He was 84.

Nielson died of complications from pneumonia at a hospital near his home, surrounded by his wife, Barbaree, and friends, his agent John S. Kelly said in a statement.

In "Airplane!," the 1980 send-up of just about every disaster movie plot imaginable, Nielsen as Dr. Rumack was "an essentially serious actor taking essentially preposterous material very straight," wrote Los Angeles Times Arts Editor Charles Chaplin in his review.

Just how preposterous was it?

As the crew and passengers became ill, Nielsen said they needed to get the sick to a hospital.

"A hospital? What is it?" a flight attendant asked.

Nielsen: "It's a big building with patients, but that's not important right now."

And when Nielsen was told, "Surely you can't be serious," he answered: "I am serious, and don't call me Shirley."

Nielsen followed up "Airplane!" with another goofy role delivered with deadpan conviction as Detective Frank Drebin in the "Police Squad!" television show and "Naked Gun" movies.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Leafs thought of the day

After catching the final minute of the third period of the Leafs game last night - I've got to wondering...

has a team ever been shut out by every team in its division in one year before? The Leafs have been blanked five times, three of which have been from divisional foes in Montreal (last Saturday, C. Price), Boston (Oct. 28 by Tim Thomas) and now Ottawa (B. Elliott). I'd have to imagine that Mr. Miller and Buffalo have a shut-out up their sleeve somewhere down the line, as well - although they've blown their first two shots at shutouts so far.

The other shut-outs have come at the hands of the New York Rangers (Henrik Lundquvist) and Tampa Bay's Dan Ellis on Nov. 9.

Buffalo (either Enroth or Miller) only have four more games to have the Leafs suffer such humiliation.

Groan.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Beautiful snowy morning

This is it - I'm going to wrap up Nanowrimo right now. The website is really lagging, which makes me think there are a lot of people on it, updating their profiles and tallying their word-counts.

9:12 a.m. update
So far: 300 words today
To go: 500 words left

9:28 today - this is what the page says:
  • The Novel Info has been updated.
  • The changes have been saved.
You Won!

Author, on November 1 you accepted our challenge to write a novel in 30 days. Harnessed with a hard deadline, you persevered in the face of countless obstacles. You wrote with determination, you quieted that inner critic, and now you've reached the hallowed Winner's Circle.

We couldn't be more proud of your amazing accomplishment! Thank you for joining us on this outrageously creative adventure—we'll see you next November for more. And we hope you'll join us in April for Script Frenzy, too.

Before you go celebrate, we have some very special NaNoWriMo Winner Goodies for you. There are two paths to collecting them. We hope that NaNoWriMo meant enough to you that you will take a moment now and make a tax-deductible donation to help ensure that NaNoWriMo and the Young Writers Program are fully enabled for 2011! (If you've already donated, thank you so much for your contribution!)

I would like to make a donation to support NaNoWriMo and the Young Writers Program, and then collect my 2010 Winner Goodies.

OR

I would like to collect my 2010 Winner Goodies without donating to NaNoWriMo and the Young Writers Program at this time.

And I, of course, click on the bottom link ;) which takes us to:

Winner Goodies

Congratulations, novelist!

Your first goodie? Downloadable winner badges for posting on your blog, Facebook page, or Twitter profile!




Please do not link directly to these images on the NaNoWriMo.org site. Just download copies of the badges and place them on your webserver for your own use. Most web browsers have a Save Image or Save Picture feature: PC users can right-click on the image to bring up a menu, and Mac users can pull and drag images to your desktop, or Control + click on the image to save it.

To help you advertise your NaNoWriMo victory when you are off-line, we've created a special 2010 Winner's Certificate for you. After downloading it from our site, you can use Adobe Acrobat Reader to customize it with your name and the name of your book before printing it. (Or, if you prefer, simply print the certificate and write your name and novel title on the certificate.)

NaNo 2010 Winner Certificate

You can download your NaNoWriMo 2010 winner's certificate by clicking on the certificate image.

To customize the certificate with your name and the name of your novel, just click your cursor above the "you" and "your novel" lines and type directly onto the certificate before printing.

And finally, if you don't have your Winner Shirt yet, you can get one now!

You can return to this page at any time from now until October 2011 by logging in to NaNoWriMo and clicking the My NaNoWriMo tab in the main navigation bar, then selecting the Collect Winner Goodies link to the left of your profile.

In addition to these Winner Goodies, there will also be some great offers available to you on the Winner Prizes home page block, which will go live on December 2. This is where you can access your CreateSpace code and Scrivener discount. Please come back to the site then to retrieve the rest of your hard-earned goodies!

Congratulations again on your awesome accomplishment. Everyone here at the Office of Letters and Light applauds your intrepid efforts this November. We'll see you next time for another amazing month of literary abandon!

Warmest wishes,

Lindsey Grant
Program Director


There's a video, too, which you can view here.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Inventory blow-out (not Black Friday)

We had a gas leak at work yesterday morning that put us all behind in our work for a while. But we had a good opportunity to just go hang out as a team (there's 7 of us yesterday). We went and had coffees which was nice.

More importantly, the office didn't have an inventory blowout the day before Black Friday, so we were able to get back to work - it just took a little while to catch up on all the work that was missed. Everyone managed to make the most of it, though.

And for today, it's supposed to be real icy out there today. The radio says there are lots of cars in the ditch on the 115, so I'll have some sight-seeing on the way to work today. Let's hope the roads are alright - and I'll be sure to take my time.

Lastly, Nanowrimo is going very well. I've got a few days to go still, and I'm only 900 words short. Basically, the next time I sit down to write the story some more, I should wrap it up and be declared victorious, once again. This will make me 3 for 3 in the past 4 years on the subject, which is really great. I'm sitting at 41,970 words. Pretty awesome.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Routine is good

So, it's just over one week from my first day on the job (I've now put in 7 full work days) and the routine has been fantastic. I'm not tired and yawning in the mornings, I'm not hitting snooze and getting to bed on time is way easier when you're getting up at the same time in the morning. So far, really great. I like it.

CSI and Fringe tonight - and I think I'm going to wrap up Nanowrimo (only about 4,000 words to go) before I do any more on the Tomb of the Undead (though I posted page 13 last night). I've got the next six pages drafted out - I just haven't had time to sketch, ink and shade them yet.

Once Nanowriomo is out of the way, I won't feel like I've got a deadline to worry about while I want to be drawing.

Interview: Tim Kring, Creator of ''Heroes'' and Author of ''Shift''

Chuck
Guide to literary agents.com


This blog rarely features interviews with authors, but when the chance came to sit down with Tim Kring, creator of TV's "Heroes" and author of Shift, a mind-bending thriller released in Aug. 2010 (buy it here), the chance was just too good to pass up. Tim talked with me about his writing process, the difference between writing novels vs, screenplays, and much more. Here's what he had to say:

Your first novel just came out: Shift. It’s been described as The Manchurian Candidate meets The Dead Zone. Besides that, and without giving too much away, tell us a little more about what the book is about.

Shift is an historical thriller set in 1963. It focuses on an actual CIA clandestine mind control program called “MK Ultra.” This program dosed up to 120,000 unwilling and unwitting American citizens with LSD in an attempt to find a truth serum or a Manchurian Candidate for use as a weapon against the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Our story posits the one in a million person (Chandler Forrestal) whose brain chemistry reacts to this drug, unlocking hidden potentials in his brain that give him, in essence, super powers.
Chandler finds himself embroiled in both this conspiracy and an even greater one, the plot to kill President Kennedy.

LSD and government mind control plans are fascinating and often times based in fact, like in Shift. Is that where your story started: with the mind control angle?

I wanted to write an historical novel, and I wanted it to have a conspiracy feel. I started doing research about the CIA and stumbled onto the MK Ultra program. I then wanted to place an “everyman” at the center. In our story, this everyman is a grad student who stumbles into this conspiracy.
I wish I had more time to elaborate on my thoughts on Tim Kring. I think he's the solitary reason that Heroes was so disappointing, but it was his show to ruin, which he did. I just haven't got time right now to do that.

Thanks for reading, and hope you're having a great day.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dino -list, -bots and -MMORPG

It has been a peaceful morning! The first day this week it hasn't been overcast, and the sunrise looks crisp,contrasted with the bright white dusting of snow we received overnight. Should be a pleasant drive to work this morning.

Sounds like (I was mostly asleep when she told me) my wife scored two goals at hockey last night, which is great.

See? The world is a better place when the Leafs are winning.

10 Spectacular Horned Dinosaurs
This is a great link with a cool rundown of some noteworthy ceratopsians. It's really cool - check it out. Some nice pics, too.



Nigersaurus - neat ft. in the video




What's very cool about this video? It is narrated by Peter Cullen (aka Optimus Prime! very cool) If you ask me, Dinobots are on their way for Transformers 3. C'mon! Bring 'em back.



Next Cryptic MMORPG to Feature Dinosaurs

Cryptic is a game developer, who apparently made the latest Stark Trek game. I don't know anything about it, but it'll be very cool if there is a very cool dinosaur game out there.

By Brenna Hillier
Gameson.net

The news comes courtesy of a recent issue of the US PC Gamer, which reports the rumour in its gossip column. No hard source is mentioned, and no further details are given.

Instantly we have conjured up a working premise involving the ability to level up your carnivore and engage in fights with all our beloved and apparently fake herbivore favourites like brontosaurus and triceratops, or defend the plant-eating world from assault. But how to stop everyone playing as velociraptors or t-rex? Tricky.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Books, for children to adults

“The mind of a child is a dark wood. It is full of secret half-civilized thoughts that are forgotten like dreams a short time afterwards.” - Roald Dahl
The Authorized Biography of Roald Dahl

This could be for my wife - like everyone, she has always enjoyed the creative stories of Dahl.
By Seth Lerer
The San Francisco Chronicle

Donald Sturrock puts it in this massive, yet engaging, biography: “His seductive voice, the subversive twinkle in his eye, and his sense of the comic and the curious gave him an ability to mesmerize almost every child who crossed his path — yet he could also remember and re-imagine his own childhood with astonishing sharpness.”

Dahl’s unique talent was to live vividly, throughout his life, in his own childhood, while at the same time to make that childhood sensibility appealing to adults.

Given the importance of his childhood to his work, Dahl’s life is ripe for reassessment. And given, too, the vast number of letters, journal entries and recorded encounters throughout that life, it is a mine for the biographer. Sturrock’s book calls itself “The Authorized Biography,” and authorization always cuts two ways. On one hand, he was given access to papers and people, and has thus been able to re-create — at times, with day-by-day detail — the growth and development of Dahl as a writer and a public figure. On the other hand, there is always the risk of glossing over the unpopular or the unnerving in an authorized life.

It is safe to say, however, that Sturrock does not seem to have been cowed by family censure. All the awfulness of Dahl is here: his quirky friendships, his painful recovery from a World War II air accident, his exquisitely impolitic remarks about non-Europeans during his tour of duty in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, his appendicitis (where Dahl finds himself in a ward with two old men who, in his own words, “did nothing but fart all day and have enemas and talk bull — and then fart some more”), his rocky marriage to the actress Patricia Neal, and his lifelong bouts of financial mismanagement and tax evasion.
UA student wins Playboy contest
Though he didn't win any award, Stephen King got his start by having short stories published in Playboy magazine - could these be the next Kings?
Anissa Ford
University of Arkansas Examiner

A University of Arkansas student, Meaghan Mulholland, won first place in Playboy' s annual college fiction writing contest. Mulholland's first place prize is $3000 and her story," Woman, Fire & The Sea" will be published in Playboy's October 2010 issue.

Mulholland was a graduate student in UA's competitive Creative Writing program. She earned her degree this year.

A UCLA student, Timothy Tau, won second prize and $500 dollars for his story "Land of Origin." There were three third place winners--each won $250 for their submissions. Third place winners were from Swarthmore College, University of New Orleans and the University of Cincinnati.

Past winners of the College Fiction contest have gone on to find publishing success after the Playboy contest. The contest offers a chance to publish professionally in a magazine. Playboy is currently accepting applications for next year's contest.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Nanowrimo participant looking for a sneaky way out...

Why I'm going to fail
I'm now considering turning my NaNo idea into a graphic novel XD.

I mean, hey, they say that a picture is worth a thousand words, so if I scribble out fifty pictures before the 30th... >.>

XD Anyone else having format issues regarding your works of masochistic genius?

There's a forum at Nanowrimo where you can chat with others about your story. I've been working more on the story than on the forums (this guy who's considering failing has 43 posts on the forums). He likely spends more time there (which is fine) than writing his book. I'm at almost 41,000 right now. Nice.

I had a really restive weekend, did nothing but write my story, do some artwork, clean the newt, some laundry, groceries, things like that. Even ironed all my work clothes - the kinds of things that you usually have to do on the fly during the week - now they're all done, which should make things very fluid this week. I even cooked up a few side-meals for dinners to expedite that process after work.

National CRIME Writing Month?
Apparently there's a NaCrimwimo as well - never heard of it.
National Crime Writing Month is an annual event run by Crime Writers of Canada. Events are held at libraries and bookstores in cities across Canada. The blog was started as a virtual event in 2010.
This is held in May. To recap:
National Script Writers Month - April
National Crime Writers Month - May
National Graphic Novel Writing Month - October
National Novel Writers Month - November

I'm glad I only do one of these with any regularity.

More on the subject
Chicago has a specific support group for Nanowrimo. One of the very cool things about Nanowrimo is that it has a tremendous amount of support for you. There are forums to share your ideas, ask questions and get motivation to keep going. There are also things called "Write-ins" where you show up at a predetermined location and "write" for a while. Another good way to social network with other like-minded people.

This is a link to how far the people from Chicago take their support groups.

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Nano, dino, kosmo and utah

First of all, Nanowrimo has been a success this weekend, already. I was way behind, but managed to catch up on a lot of it, which is great. I'm actually well ahead of schedule again, and am quite confident (especially with one more weekend to write) that this will be a success once again.

So, I should be 3 for 3 when this is all said and done.

I'm hoping to get a big chunk of Tomb of the Undead achieved this afternoon, too. After some lunch and groceries (and laundry, too). All in all, an accomplished weekend.

No kids allowed to Dinosaur Q&A
Scotland admits that kids shouldn't get all the dino info - and so held an "adults only" dinosaur q&a to "secret stegosaurus" fans. I like the idea. When we were in the Chicago Field Museum there was a great presentation by a former curator at the ROM who did a presentation on his travels and discoveries in Kazakhstan, which was awesome. A little technical, but still awesome. I'm sure Scotland will enjoy this as well.

Kosmoceratops "horniest" dinosaur
I think I mentioned this discovery before, but it didn't come with a cool picture.



The movie trailer writes itself: Long ago, on the lost continent of Laramidia, lived the mysterious Kosmoceratops, a three-ton, 15-horned beast that roamed — and ruled — the swamps it called home. O.K., you might want to lose the lost-continent bit, and 15 horns kind of jumps the shark, but tweak it a little and you could have a winner.

The thing is, however, you can't tweak any of this. According to a delightful new paper published Sept. 22 in the online science journal PloS One, the Kosmoceratops indeed lived a good 76 million years ago, according to the scientists' reckoning. And Laramidia — better known today as the Western United States, with bits of Canada and Mexico — was a real place, separated from the eastern half of the North American continent by a great inland sea. The PLoS paper reveals intriguing new things about both the animal and its ancient home.
Scientists find two new dinosaurs related to Triceratops
From the same paper in PloS One, they also named the Utahceratops:


Fossils of two new species of horned dinosaurs closely related to the Triceratops have been discovered in southern Utah, scientists revealed Wednesday.

The discovery of the new plant-eating species, which are believed to have areas known today as the western United States during the Late Cretaceous Period, was announced Wednesday in the online open-access journal PLoS ONE, produced by the Public Library of Science.

The bigger of the two new dinosaurs, with a skull about 7 feet long, is Utahceratops gettyi, whose name combines the state of origin with ceratops, Greek for “horned face.” The second part of the name honors Mike Getty, paleontology collections manager at the Utah Museum of Natural History and the discoverer of this animal.

The newly discovered dinosaurs were inhabitants of the “lost continent” of Laramidia, the western portion of North America that formed when a shallow sea flooded the central region, isolating the eastern and western portions of the continent for millions of years during the Late Cretaceous Period.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Professionally speaking ...

you can see what I've professionally written.

Awful auto-corrects, mogwais and movember

I don't really have a very good texting phone - but that's fine with me. There's this site that has funny situations where the auto-correct for your texting (since when did it matter that your texts were spelled properly?) substitutes your word for something awfully incorrect.

In any case, of all the texts I went through, this one made me laugh. They were just trying to type MMMMMM in response to having sushi.

Classic Family Guy line instead, nice.

These words aren't much alike either - it's more funny to think that "fun" would be offered as a possible result for the letters in Tsunami. Auto-correct must have some secret agenda to f with people's lives.

Gremlins (1984)
I can't find a video of it, nor a picture of it, but remember this guy? The teacher from Gremlins? His name is Glynn Turman, and there was a scene (my favourite scene in the movie, I think) where he puts water on mogwai and makes another mogwai, then he puts them in separate boxes, and they knock on the boxes, talking to each other, as if they were asking if the other one was a mogwai.


And they go, "Mogwai? Mogwai? Mogwai?" as they knock, and the teacher and Billy just watch. I liked that scene the most. (Second favourite, when a gremlin hotwires Mrs. Deagles electric lift and it shoots her out the second story of her window, and the Gremlin goes: Deagle, Deagle, Deagle, Deagle." There was a street in Windsor called Dougle, and I always thought of that scene in Gremlins when I drove by it.)

Here's what Indy does for fun, she replicates the Gremlins scene with herself - meowing and scratching at the glass, probably to get outside, but in this image, it looks like she's pawing at herself.

Movember massacre
Every once in a while a man thinks he should grow facial hair. In some cases (like mine) it's a reminder to not do it. Movember seemed like a good time to bother trying one more time, just to see what would happen. I've never left facial hair un-shaved for more than a week, I don't think, so this has been a little weird.

It's scratchy and uncomfortable, and unsightly and sparse. It's like having one of those brushes you clean the BBQ with on your lip. It kind of looks like my eyebrows - making my lip look like an eyelid. My lips look a little dry, actually. A bit dehydrated first thing in the morning.

If it gets a little bit longer I can start to gel it and perhaps shape it to look like Det. Clouseau.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Good morning

Here's how it looks out the window today.

What makes it better?

Gustavsson shines as Leafs down Devils


TORONTO -- With a successful start behind him, Jonas Gustavsson wasted no time before looking ahead to the Toronto Maple Leafs next game.

The Swedish goaltender filled in admirably for the injured J.S. Giguere on Thursday, stopping 29 shots in a 3-1 win over the New Jersey Devils. The Maple Leafs will be relying heavily on Gustavsson over the next week or two while Giguere recovers from a groin strain.

I would say 'exorcise' devils, because they've had a lot of 'devils' in their performance over the past month, and perhaps they have now exorcised those demons, yet at the same time it matches up with the victory over New Jersey. But that's just me.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

WTF Collective & classic movie moments

Alright, it looks Jon Lajoie is selling his new album and released a song just for it - but you can't embed it - so you'll HAVE to go to Youtube to watch it. This is a new strategy for him, as you used to be able to just share the videos all you liked.

Is it funny? Absolutely - another absurd combination of rappers come together, rapping about what they've named themselves after. So check it out.

Regrettably, one of the funniest moments on movie history is also unable to be embedded. Weird.



Katamari goes wrong. But sounds like a cool (if fictional) English class ;)

Next up in funniest movie moments:


I was in tears when I saw this. This scene is still hilarious - where as the scene with the introduction of Mini Me from Austin Powers 2 has lost some of its hilarity - because Vern Troyer made a sex video (link not provided).

I was also in tears at this moment:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hurricane White is about to hit Carolina

Ian White and his awesomeness is about to blast into Carolina. I'm looking forward to it!


I've discovered on the NHL website that if you go to the top, and click the "recap" button, you can watch highlights of the whole game, like almost 7 minutes of big hits, fights, scores and cool saves right out of the game broadcast. It's way better than the 40 seconds that SportsNet or TSN post on their site.

Not sure how long the videos last up on the site - but it's definitely cool. Check out the highlights of the Canadiens v. the Flyers from last night. Pretty awesome.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tomb of the Undead - The Wind Up and The Pitch


Here's a link to scene 2 of the Tomb of the Undead story. I just finished page 11 just now. The next scene will probably take just as long to develop. I've got most of it drafted in rough. But enough about that - here's the link.

What takes 3-5 weeks, but really only 3 business days?

Only five days ago (three business days, if you're counting) I made this post, indicating that I would be hoping for an item in the mail at some point in three to five weeks.

Yet, here we are only a few days later, and ... it's already here! Fantastic!

I thought I had nothing to watch on Tuesdays except women's hockey.

Nano overtime

So, I haven't written anything since last Thursday for Nano - which means I will probably have to make use of the 2,000 words I was ahead of schedule from before, and of course play catch up today and tomorrow while I still have free time any time for the project.

I also hope to run out to Marks Work Warehouse or something today out in Uxbridge. See if there's anything I like available.

And - I've been a little stuck on TotU because there are two characters coming up that I haven't quite designed yet, which means I've got to do that and be happy with them before wrapping up, which has put a bit of a stall on things as well.

and the cat is getting into everything these days - so I've got to keep an eye on that, too. She ate half a plant last night, plays with my guitar strings, we've had to hide the newt so she doesn't drop his tank on the floor, and now she's getting into our flowers from our anniversary (which won't last long, I'm sure).

Nano-time.

[Update: 11:57, so, I'm not sure how I calculated my last installment of Nano, but I must have deleted some superfluous or redundant information since that update - because I was a few hundred words short of being where I left off last time - which means, I have even more to catch up on. That's fine though.

I've managed to get to about 23,500 and require about another 1,500 words to be back on pace - which is a bit surprising that I managed to get this far so quick.

For the record, I haven't really "written" a lot of the story today - or for most of these days - but rather I'm coming up with some of the mythology and back-stories on organizations and characters in preparation for writing later. You SHOULD know what you're writing about when you start to introduce it - and in this case, my characters are going to get involved between two competing organizations. I have to at least consider the organizational structure, motivations and locations of these things before I go too far. And in most cases, their motivations and institutional identities are relatively complicated - so lots of work going into developing these with a perspective of the end-game in consideration.

That being said - it all counts as words down on the page, and it will all come in handy when I officially go to write the sequel, not just fill out 50,000 words for a contest.

Thanks!]

Saturday, November 13, 2010

wedding dresses and king kong

Always interested in new dinosaur news. Here's a cool idea for the placement of a dinosaur skull:

Dinosaur skull stands out at museum

TOM LUTEY Of The Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette

LEWISTOWN — Artifacts at the Central Montana Museum have a particular order about them — arrows before rifle ammo, wagons before railroads.

This construction allows the skull of a famous outlaw to be dropped into place like a dovetailed drawer. But when the museum recently acquired a replica of a Volkswagen-sized dinosaur skull, the system hit a snag.

The replica, 9 feet long and more than 6 feet wide, was cast from a torosaurus skull found on private land north of Winnett. The chronological gap between the torosaurus and the museum’s next oldest exhibit? About 68 million years, give or take a century.

The skull’s placement? Near the wedding dresses. Dinosaurs, then marriage. The link was unintentional.

“One of our members said we needed to display it better,” said Shirley Barrick, of the Central Montana Historical Society. “We’re working on that.”

Visitors can view the skull for free by stopping at the desk of the adjoining Chamber of Commerce, which is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, and asking for a showing.
Work goes on to stage 'Kong'
New York -- A musical version of King Kong could be roaring onto a Broadway stage in a few years if its producers get their way.

Officials at Global Creatures, the Australian company behind the hit arena show Walking With Dinosaurs, are hoping that their still-unfinished production of the classic ape story can find a theater as early as 2013.

“Ultimately, whether there’s an out-of-town tryout somewhere or not, I just feel New York is the home for this story to be told,” Carmen Pavlovic, the CEO of Global Creatures, said. “It’s Broadway bound — there’s no doubt about that in my mind.”

She and her team have just finished a six-week workshop to ensure their 23-foot mechanical Kong can pull off a show. Next, they want to polish the script and score. Then, they want to begin casting. She said that producers already have begun scouting out potential Broadway theaters big enough for the spectacle.

“If we put Kong in that very contained environment of a proscenium, we’ve got to make sure that in swiping his arms he doesn’t inadvertently knock over a cast member in the process,” Pavlovic said.
To be honest, I've used the cover-art for a better idea for a musical, "My Side, by King Kong" which is a humorous book about the story of Kong from his perspective. Not the first time a classic tale has been retold from the villains perspective, and not the first time it's been done on stage either, what with Godspell (I spell that right?)

Kong could be interesting, but I'd rather see a comedy. Granted, if the producers of Walking With Dinosaurs can make dinosaurs that cool, imagine what they could do with Kong?

On the new job front - it starts on Wednesday, and I'm very excited about it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A game I play with my wife

One of my favourite husband-wife games I like to play is "What's a cool name." My wife often confuses this game with a similar game called "Baby names." These are very similar games, where you each take turns (or repeated attempts) at saying a name that you think is really cool.

The difference between the two games is: in "What's a Cool Name," you're just considering what makes a name awesome. You say a cool word, and then decide what it is that makes it a cool name. In "Baby Names" you're looking for a name you'd be not embarrassed to call your kid.

ANYHOW: there are lots of cool names, that my wife thinks are awful names, because she's playing "Baby Names" while I'm playing "What's a Cool Name." In some instances (very, very rare instances) we find a name that works during both games - even though we're still NOT playing the same game. In this instance we are actually playing a different game altogether - that game is called "Being Married."

This is when we're both happy with something, even though we have totally different stakes on the line. This game is heavily based on luck and circumstance.

Anyhow:
While I'm playing "What's a cool name" I'm kind of playing "Baby Names," too, but I'm more interested in understanding what it is that makes a name great. For example, I think Charlemagne is a very cool name. You could go by Charlie for short (with a soft Ch as in "sh"arlie for short). Very cool. and a good name. A good Baby Name, though? Whoa, whoa whoa, I'm not necessarily playing that game.

I'll often come up with a cool name that I want to use in one of my stories - for example, I really, really think George-Michael is an awesome name, but ... it carries some masturbating in public baggage, so you tweak it to be cool, even though it's the same thing. For example, you would change George into Spanish, which is Gustavo, and then Michael into Scandanavian or Finnish or something, becoming Miko. Gustavo-Miko is a f-ing awesome name. Just as good, if not better than George Michael.

So - for Nanowrimo, I'm using David Gustavo-Miko as the museum's lawyer. I like the name, even though it looks a little out of place. It sounds awesome, and don't forget it.

Another very cool name that I just drafted before I started posting this blog (which put me on the subject of cool names) was a character that I wanted to look like Wesley Snipes. I have to think of what kind of role I want this character to play, plus, I want to consider what they're going to act like. So - I'm proud to announce the new name of the newest character I've ever invented:

Eretum Montoro. I think his middle name will be Moore. [for the record, I like names that belong to cities, provinces and countries - or significant historical figures.]

"Baby Names"
When we're playing "Baby Names" I have two rules. The first is, you can't play the "Classic Christian" version because that version is tired and old. Too many people like to play the "Classic Christian" version of "Baby Names" where you basically reduce your options for baby names from the universal set, to a selection between Mathew, Mark, Luke and John (with the wild-card options of Michael, Christopher, Daniel and Adam). If you want cool Christian names, go a bit wild and use Caleb, Gabriel, Tobias ... Hell, go with Deuteronomy for all I care - just give the classic christian shit a break for a few decades, alright? My new choice for the "Classic Christian" version of "Baby Names" is "Numbers." Nobody names their kid Numbers - even though that's not a terrible part of whatever testament that book was in.

Now, I will concede, there are LOTS of people who really love to play the "Classic Christian" version, and I'm not going to take that away from you. I don't think less of it, I don't think it's unacceptable or lacking of effort - and ultimately, those names have more longevity than Ethyl, Bernice, Marjorie, Muriel and Eunice - I just think that when you're playing the game, you shouldn't reduce your creative limits so strictly, that's all. Real life is not a game, and you are honored to name your child whatever you like. The name is among one of the first things you give a child after you give it life, so ... it is a precious gift.

Take some time to pick it out, I guess is what I'm saying. But if all you're doing is playing a game - break the mold a bit and have some fun. The imagination is not for just the very young.

[For the record, when your last name is Rogers, you should always consider naming your children Kenny, Buck, Roy and Ginger. Those names have had success in the past - there's no reason to think they wouldn't be awesome once again.]

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Aeroplan miles

I have never redeemed anything with Aeroplan miles before - I normally just accumulate them and then look at them. My wife and I were saving up for 87,000 miles so we could redeem a sweet digital camera, but my in-laws were very kind enough to make that materialize much sooner than we were able to accrue that many miles. So that was great - but now I'm stuck with all these miles and nothing to redeem.

So - you can apparently get magazine subscriptions and novels, music, dvds, all kinds of stuff - and low and behold, there's the final season of Lost available for a relatively reasonable amount of miles. It was only about 8,000 miles, which may or may not translate into "$70.00" retail.

Anyhow - as a bonus for using the credit card (and to date, I don't think I've been charged a single dollar in interest for the past three years on the card) this is a great freebie.

So - it may take 3 - 5 weeks to arrive in the mail, but I'm still pretty pleased with the new acquisition. I used to spend weeks on eBay looking for the seasons for $20, but ... free is pretty good, too.

NOW - there's "opportunity cost" which means, is this in fact the best value I could have received for those same 8,000 points? But, who cares? They were free. Get something you like, something you want, not something you need for FREE.

I promise the next thing I redeem will be more for my wife than for me - as half the spending on the card is for her (at least half). So ... she can look forward to that for the next time around.

Love you, Honey. ;)

[Edit: I've also installed Skype - send me your Skype address if you'd like]

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Transparent 'in-show' advertizing

We were watching Hawaii 5-0 last night, and, for the record, maybe we shouldn't have been - but besides that - there was a superflouous scene where "Chin" (I think that's his name, he used to play a character named "Jin," too) played by Daniel Day Kim is looking at some art, and then says that it's a (insert pretentious artist name here) original. The woman he was with said, "yeah right."

Then he was scripted to say: "Bing it." This hearkens back to the first time Google paid HBO to put "Google it" into Sex and the City. Will Hawaii 5-O have the same impact on Bing as Sex and the City had on Google? I'm going to guess, no. It's more likely that viruses disguised as 'updates for your computer' will install Bing more often than you'd really like.

Also - Television made me laugh again with the Helen Keller story, in described audio. Chuckle, chuckle. For the record, I didn't know that Helen Keller could speak. Seriously.

Weird new noise

I'm sitting in the basement quietly working away at Nanowrimo, writing the story of the sequel to the graphic novel I've been drawing for the last month and a bit, and I hear this odd noise. It sounds kind of like something bumping very lightly, somewhere in the house.

It's not the furnace, the furnace sounds different. It's not the cat, the cat's sitting very still staring at squirrels in the front yard. It's not me, I'm not making any noise either. It's sounds almost like a creaking on the floor upstairs, just faintly. Though it doesn't sound like something walking around or anything.

Anyhow - turns out it's the new freezer down here in the basement. It's finally plugged in and ready to freeze, I guess the motor sounds a little like creaking.

Now I know. The weird new noise comes from the new appliance.

I think everyone has heard the story of the freezer, so I won't go into any further details (unless you'd like me to). It sure is nice (nothing but freezies and ... I think potato poppers? inside so far).

Monday, November 8, 2010

A trick up my sleeve

I've got a trick up my sleeve to catch up on Nanowrimo today - it comes down to writing Scene Capsules, which outline the date, time, setting, main characters involved and a draft of the scene - all items that you should know when you're getting to work on writing something.

And I've got a template that helps lay all of that information out - meaning, I can copy and paste that about 20 times and catch up on the 4,000 words I need to get done today to get back on pace for Nanowrimo. Is it cheating a little bit? Well, kind of, but it's a necessary step that has to be done whether I was banking on word count or not. So - I don't feel dishonest about it.

Besides, it's a great way to pad your stats.

[UPDATE (10:26): the trick only bought me 300 words, not cool. But I've got through the 1,700 words meant for Sunday - now to catch up and write another 1,700 for today - then we're back in the driver's seat. So far I've written 13,863 words. Not bad.]

Star-spangled Theropod
From the Smithsonians' magazine:


Today’s Dinosaur Sighting comes to us from David Rice, who spotted this star-spangled theropod dinosaur in the vicinity of Beloit, Wisconsin. As David pointed out in his e-mail, the top half of the dinosaur is reminiscent of a tyrannosaur, but the feet have weird lumps which look like the sickle claws of the “raptors;” maybe it is some kind of hybrid. Whatever the theropod is meant to be, though, it is hardly the only patriotic dinosaur around—in previous posts we’ve featured a Stegosaurus covered in stars and stripes and “George Washasaurus.”
which the Smithsonian followed up with an article on the Kentrosaurus, and a very cool photo:

Stegosaurus Week: The Many Postures of Kentrosaurus
Here's a quick little history on the Kentrosaurus, and a small history on the study of its posture.


Since the early days of paleontology, the posture of dinosaurs and the range of motion they were capable of have been contentious subjects for paleontologists. Among the spate of recent studies on dinosaur flexibility, posture and motion is a new paper by Heinrich Mallison which used the Jurassic stegosaur Kentrosaurus to investigate some of the hypotheses surrounding this armored dinosaur.

Most of what we know about Kentrosaurus comes from the approximately 153-million-year-old Tendaguru Formation in Tanzania. It was there that the German paleontologist Edwin Hennig found numerous isolated bones and elements of disarticulated Kentrosaurus skeletons—in addition to the bones of many other dinosaurs—during the early 20th century; he was also lucky enough to find one partial skeleton of the stegosaur that was suitable for mounting. This specimen, reconstructed with sprawling limbs and a dragging tail, was on display at the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin for decades. When it was taken apart to restore it in a more accurate posture in 2005, scientists made laser scans of each bone in order to create a digital restoration. It is this digital Kentrosaurus that formed the basis of Mallison’s new study—the closest thing a paleontologist has to a living dinosaur to examine.

In addition to its normal posture and range of motion, Mallison’s study looks at several controversial, little-studied ideas about this dinosaur and its kin. According to Hennig, Kentrosaurus had a squished, lizard-like posture and could not use its spiky tail for defense. In the 1980s, however, paleontologist Robert Bakker went to the opposite extreme, restoring stegosaurs with an erect posture that would have allowed them to pivot and swing their formidable tails at attacking predators. Additionally, Bakker proposed that Stegosaurus and its kin could have adopted a “tripodal” posture in which they reared back to rest on their tails, too, and were much more dynamic animals than envisioned by Hennig and other early 20th-century paleontologists.

Although Mallison stresses that the findings based upon his model are provisional, Kentrosaurus appears to have used different postures for different reasons. While walking, it would have held its limbs erect, but when threatened it was capable of flexing its forelimbs out into a sprawling position to help support itself as it swung its tail at an offending predator. In the latter circumstance, Kentrosaurus would have also been able to extend its neck to look backwards at an attacking dinosaur, though shifting position to keep a predator in view may have created blind spots that would have left this armored dinosaur vulnerable to multiple predators. As far as feeding was concerned, Kentrosaurus was indeed capable of rearing back to rest on its tail, though how often it would have done so—and what sort of food it would have been able to reach by doing so—is unknown. Overall, Kentrosaurus was not as stiff as Hennig proposed. Quite the contrary—this stegosaur was capable of altering its posture to suit a variety of circumstances, and it is likely that at least some of its relatives had similar abilities.
Nothing scientific, just dinosaurs - and Halo
It's kinda stupid, really.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Good ... good

So - I checked my work hours at Crabby Joes this week, and it turns out that sales have been slow, so everyone has had their hours cut WAY back. Nobody is really working any shifts this week - and that could continue to be the case unless business picks up and fast - which means:

it's an awfully good thing (and good timing) that I'll have a new job starting soon. There's not much work to be had a Crabby Joe's, so it's a very good time to be moving on.

Nanowrimo and Tomb of the Undead
Didn't work on either of these today - SO it's a good thing that I'll have plenty of free time while I'm not working regularly at Crabby Joe's this week.

New Job
I'll learn more about salary, start date and orientation on Tuesday. Looking forward to it.

Wolverine Director Writing Ender's Game Screenplay / Steven Lloyd Wilson
My Brother will enjoy hearing about this - what with recommending these books (though I haven't read them yet)
Ender’s Game is one of the greatest science fiction novels ever written. Any overly bright ten year old who reads this novel basically feels like they’re reading a story written just for them. It gets the way that children think and act more than any novel I have ever read. And that makes the story even more horrifying even while being uplifting: a civilization mining its brightest children for a fighting chance to survive.

Orson Scott Card has resisted all attempts thus far to adapt Ender’s Game into a movie, quoted once insisting that he would not allow the film to be made unless it was right, “a film where the human relationships are absolutely essential—an honest presentation of the story.” Hollywood hasn’t given up, despite twenty years of false starts on the project. And so naturally, you’d turn over a script written by the author of the novel to be rewritten by the idiot who directed X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

I don’t think Hollywood quite knows who they’re fucking with here. Everybody knows who Spiderman is. If you fuck up Spiderman’s story and make him an emo douchebag, the teenagers are still going to turn out in droves to see whatever CGI shit you throw in front of a camera. A movie like Ender’s Game has essentially no appeal to anyone outside the geeks who’ve already read the novel. And if you fuck up this story, the opening day ticket receipts aren’t going to make back the cost of the bottled water from the set.
Writing Comedy to Make People Laugh their Heads Off
Just how funny are you? There are plenty of people out there who think they are funny, but they suck. Then there are people who really are funny – apart from their work as a comedian.

But all successful comedians have one thing in common. On the stage, they can make people laugh. Some only have to walk onto the stage and people start to laugh before they even speak. So do you have what it takes?

Many comedians start out writing their own material, but if they just can’t see the funny side of things this may not be a good idea. A comedian might be able to present material in a way that makes people laugh, but if the material he or she presents is not all that funny, then success will be elusive – or non-existent. Many successful comedians depend on good writers for their material.

So if you really want to be a comedian, yet people don’t seem to be impressed, it may be that the material is not right for you, or perhaps it is not even all that funny. In this case you would be well advised to use material that someone else writes for you. If you ‘steal’ another comedian’s material, you could get into trouble.

The best reason for being a comedian is because you love doing it. If you get into the business to make money or become famous, you’re likely to be seriously disappointed. Those things may come to you if you are good – and persevere, but don’t count on it. If you are fulfilling an ambition and doing what you love to do, then it won’t matter if they don’t come, you’ll still be happy.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Trade Centre - round two

Last month I took some time to track the trades that Bryan Burke has made as the General Manager of the Maple Leafs to see whether or not the Leafs got the better end of the deal or not. In any case, I had concluded at that point that Burke's trade win ratio was: 14 wins, 2 losses and 4 ties. The two losses: Stempniak to Phoenix and Kubina to Atlanta - those players were better than the players Toronto received in exchange.

Of those trades, I believe that several of them are closed to evaluation. So, updating will mean that if a player the Leafs acquired in a trade is no longer on the Leafs (and wasn't dealt for another asset) then the trade is closed. Likewise, if the former Leaf that was traded to another team is no longer with that franchise (and he wasn't traded for an asset) then that trade is also considered closed.

Therefor, how have Burke's moves favoured the Leafs so far?


So, beginning at Free Agency back in 2009 - Jul. 1 - I've gone over each of his trades and considered which team got the best of it.

1. Primeau Trade [Jul. 27, 2009]
To Toronto: Wayne Primeau and a 2nd round pick in 2011
To Calgary: Anton Stralman, Colin Stuart and a 7th round pick in 2012.
Evaluation: All that's left of this trade is to see what Calgary's 2nd round pick in 2011 will mean to the Leafs, and then what Toronto's 7th round pick in 2012 will be (though, it's much more likely the 2nd round pick is more valuable than the 7th round pick).

Advantage: Toronto, decidedly.
2. Kessel Trade [Sept. 18, 2009]


To Toronto: Phil Kessel
To Boston: 1st round pick in 2010 and 1st round pick in 2011.
Toronto wound up trading their second-overall pick (and next year's first round pick) for Kessel. He has played 82 games, scored 37 goals, 27 assists and 64 points for the Leafs so far.

Tyler Seguin (2nd overall, 2010) has 3 goals, 2 assists, and 5 points and 10 games played for Boston.


As it currently stands, Toronto has generated more immediate value out of the transaction, and likely will continue to hold the advantage in the immediate results of this trade for another season or so. Then again, the impact of Seguin and whatever comes to Boston in 2011 should technically combine to give Boston the advantage in the end.
3. Giguere Trade [Jan. 31, 2010]

To Toronto: J.S. Giguere
To Anaheim: Vesa Toskala and Jason Blake
Giguere has played 23 games as a Leaf, with 10 wins, 10 losses, 2 shutouts and 3 overtime losses. He has 57 goals against in 1395 minutes played (or a 2.45 GAA).

Blake has 8 goals in 39 games with Anaheim, 18 points. Vesa Toskala was swapped for Curtis McElhinney, who has played 14 games played, 6 wins, 3 losses and 37 goals against in 723 minutes played (3.07 GAA).

Goalie for Goalie - Toronto has 9 more games played 4 more wins. Blake's production has definitely not matched his salary - so the Leafs are still in the lead.

Advantage: Toronto.
4. Phaneuf Trade [Jan. 31, 2010]


To Toronto: Dion Phaneuf, Fredrik Sjostrom, Keith Aulie
To Calgary: Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Jamal Mayers, Ian White.
Phaneuf - 2 goals, 12 assists, 14 points and 37 games played.
Sjostrom - 2 goals, 4 assists, 6 points and 31 games played.
Aulie hasn't played any games for the Leafs yet, though Marlies' coach Dallas Eakins says he's close to making it as a call-up.

Stajan - 4 goals, 20 assists, 24 points and 38 games played.
Hagman - 9 goals, 8 assists, 17 points and 40 games played.
Mayers - 1 goal, 5 assists, 6 points and 27 games played.
White - 5 goals, 11 assists, 16 points and 40 games played.

You look at it this way - and it looks like Calgary has received more production out of this trade than Toronto. And while Phaneuf is injured, they will likely continue to receive more production out of it. I'd like to see things improve for Toronto shortly.

5. Caputi Trade [Mar. 2, 2010]
To Toronto: Luca Caputi, Martin Skoula
To Pittsburgh: Alexei Ponikarovski
Caputi: 23 games played, 1 goal, 5 assists and 6 points.
Ponikarovski: 16 games played, 2 goals, 7 assists and 9 points.

Pittsburgh has still got the advantage here, but Caputi's coming along. He should be able to beat Poni-boy by the end of this season.

Advantage: Toronto.
6. Matt Jones Trade [Mar. 4, 2010]
To Toronto: Matt Jones and Phoenix's 4th and 7th round picks for 2010
To Phoenix: Lee Stempniak
Matt Jones doesn't have a lot of stats to his name, which is no surprise. I can't find any record of him on any Maple Leafs roster, but his link remains on their official site.

For their fourth round pick, the Leafs selected D Petter Granberg (9 points in 40 games in Sweden). The 7th round pick was RW Josh Nichols (49 points in 71 games in the WHL).

Stempniak: 30 games played, 18 goals, 7 points and 26 points

Advantage: Phoenix!
7. Brown Trade [June 26, 2010]
To Toronto: Mike Brown
To Anaheim: 5th Round pick in 2010
Brown: 12 games played, 1 goal, 1 assist, 2 points and 22 PIM

Anaheim had two 5th round selections in the draft as well. They selected RW Christopher Wagner (83 points in 44 games in the EJHL - where?) and D Tim Heed (37 points in 32 games in Sweden). [ANA's 5th round picks sound a lot better than TOR's]

Advantage: Toronto - for now. We'll see how that 5th round pick turns out.
8. Versteeg Trade [June 30, 2010]

To Toronto: Kris Versteeg and Bill Sweatt
To Chicago: Viktor Stalberg, Chris DiDomenico and Philippe Paradis.
Versteeg: 11 games played, 2 goals, 3 assists, 5 points.
Stalberg: 14 games played, 4 goals, 3 assists, 7 points.

DiDomenico and Paradis have not played a game yet. Head to head, looks like Chicago is leading in this trade so far.
Notes:
1. Paradis Trade [Dec. 3, 2009]
To Toronto: Philippe Paradis
To Carolina: Jiri Tlusty.
Evaluation: Paradis still has yet to play an NHL game. However, more valuable to the Leafs, he was a part of the Kris Versteeg/ Keith Aulie trade a year and a half later.

After the trade to Carolina, he scored once in 18 games, with merely 6 points. He has not made the Carolina starting roster this season either, but now has 1 goal and 1 point in 5 games with the 'Canes.

Advantage: Toronto - TBA. Versteeg has got to pan out, but so does Tlusty for Carolina.
2. Seventh-Round Pick Trade [Mar. 4, 2010]
To Toronto: Anaheim's 7th round pick, 2011
To Anaheim: Joey MacDonald
Toronto doesn't know what they've got in Anaheim's 7th round pick this year, but they can rest assured that Anaheim didn't use MacDonald last season, or this season. MacDonald was signed by the Red Wings later, basically providing no value to Anaheim in the long or short run. Scratch your head on this one.

Advantage: Toronto
3. Fifth Round Pick Trade [Mar. 4, 2010]
To Toronto: New Jersey's 5th round pick
To New Jersey: Martin Skoula

Skoula: 19 games, 3 assists and 4 PIM.

Toronto selected twice in the 5th round, so they either picked C Sam Carrick (42 points in 66 games in the OHL last season) or LW Daniel Brodin (5 points in 30 games in Sweden) with New Jersey's selection.

Advantage: Leafs
4. Lashoff Trade [Aug. 27, 2010]
To Toronto: Matt Lashoff
To Tampa Bay: Alex Berry and Sefano Giliati.

Toronto picks up Lashoff, who hasn't played for the Leafs yet, but is going at it for the Marlies right now, while Berry and Giliati hasn't either. This trade was to free some roster space, so there's nothing really to worry about here. Both teams win!

No players have played NHL games here, yet.