Monday, March 31, 2008

Negative Clarion Particles

Well, it's over:
Thank you for applying to the 2008 Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers' Workshop at UC San Diego. Your application has been carefully reviewed. We regret to inform you that you have not been selected for admission.

Please be aware that we received a very large number of applications. Many excellent candidates could not be offered admission.

We hope that you will apply to Clarion again in the future.
Damn skippy. Just try and stop me.


"Do the Test"

Those cheeky Brits, always concerned about public safety:

Although, let's be honest: They were hiding that damn bear. It's also easy to miss something that someone is hiding from you.


Sunday, March 30, 2008

No West, Young Man

Well, I heard back from Clarion West. Two months ago, I applied to the 2008 writing program in Seattle, and tonight I got their answer:
We are sorry to let you know that you were not selected for this year's class. We had a record number of applicants, and because the workshop can hold only eighteen students we could not find room for all of the promising writers.
So that's a signal. Not what I was hoping for, but hey, if I want to be a writer, I'd better get used to rejection, right? And plenty of it!

Still waiting to hear from Clarion (the original, in San Diego). Not looking good for our hero...


Thursday, March 27, 2008

What the Frak?

I'm not a BSG fan (shocking, I know), but I appreciated the Sci Fi Channel's snarky 9-minute recap of the first three seasons.

In fact, I probably enjoyed that recap more than the first season, which I watched on DVD and then promptly gave away to my friend Bryan. I'm not saying it's a bad show. It's just not for me.

At some point, I'll write a longer post on how much it bugs me when putative sf/fantasy shows are insufficiently rigorous. That is, they come up with some amazing premise, but then fail to think through all the ramifications of the gimmick they used to sell the show. For now, I'll just name a couple of the current offenders: New Amsterdam and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Discuss amongst yourselves.


Friday, March 21, 2008


funny pictures


funny pictures

Google Causes Global Warming!

Dr. Robert Zubrin visited Authors@Google last Monday to talk about his latest book, Energy Victory: Winning the War on Terror by Breaking Free of Oil.

Skip to the 40-minute mark in the video below to see the controversial slide which prompts an inevitable flood of pointed questions from the audience. As the saying goes, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing:

The complete, in-context quote from Dr. Zubrin is: "The same argument could be made that Google causes global warming... by your spreading of information, which contributes to economic growth... and, in fact, much more global warming than the corn ethanol program, I daresay."

I'm currently reading Fifty Degrees Below, the second book in Kim Stanley Robinson's "climate trilogy," and though I'm enjoying it, the information seems even more densely packed than in his science-packed Mars trilogy. Maybe that's because the "climate" books are set closer to the present day, and therefore all the political and social situations resonate and feel that much more real. Every detail implies a multitude of other things I'm already familiar with, instead of causing me to speculate on what a future society might be like.


Thursday, March 20, 2008


First of all, let's be honest. Midnight Madness is an awful movie. It's dreadful, really. Terrible. There are only two reasons it should ever be discussed in polite company: 1) it was Michael J. Fox's first feature film; and 2) it was the direct inspiration for The Game.

At last night's Captain's Meeting, Team Snout (plus some Drunken Spiders) revealed that we are running the previously announced Game on April 5th. We had discussed keeping our identity secret for longer, but not only would that have been very difficult for us, it would also have prevented us from fully participating in the event. And, in the end, we thought it was more thematically appropriate to do the big reveal at the Captain's Meeting. We even put together our own version of Leon's slide show, as a tribute to the original presentation for "The Great All-Nighter."

But let's get back to the movie. It was made in 1980, and is chock-full of the high dairy content which distinguished many of that decade's entertainments. I suspect that Joe Belfiore and his cohorts, the first people to take on the role of "Game Control," felt that they could make better puzzles than those depicted in the movie--which is not that hard, but making everything work in a live event can be very challenging.

We, Team Snout, wanted to get "back to basics" for a few reasons. First and foremost, we wanted to run one last Game before DeeAnn and I move out of the bay area, and we had limited time to plan. A smaller, more simple event made sense and fit (barely) within our timeline for the move. More generally, GCs tend to want to one-up each other all the time, either designing more elaborate clues, finding more impressive locations, providing better meals, or otherwise adding complexity and cost to their events. (We are also guilty of this--we'll be the first to admit that our last Game was a logistical nightmare.)

So we view this Midnight Madness Game as a sort of encore to the Hogwarts Game, and a reminder to everyone in the community of what makes these events fun in the first place. You don't need train rides or fancy meals or electronic gadgets to put on a great event. All you need is...well, you'll find that out on April 5th. But feel free to speculate in the comments. :)


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Food Court: The Musical!

The latest prank from the folks at Improv Everywhere:

Read more about it on their blog. My favorite part is the security guard, but honestly, I wish the music was a little better and the satire a little sharper.

I know the whole breaking-out-in-song thing might seem frivolous to many people, but in a well-written musical show, there are clear and compelling reasons for characters to sing instead of speak about very specific things. Meeting the girl of your dreams? Yes. Dry cleaning? Not so much. You don't just add another song because it's been ten minutes since the last one. Well, maybe sometimes that's okay.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

"DRM is not actually doing anything to prevent piracy"

Finally, people are getting it: DRM doesn't work. The title of this post is a direct quote from Madeline McIntosh, a senior vice president at the Random House Audio Group, who was quoted in "Publishers Phase Out Piracy Protection on Audio Books" (New York Times, 03 Mar 2008):
In a letter sent to its industry partners last month, Random House, the world’s largest publisher, announced it would offer all of its audio books as unprotected MP3 files beginning this month, unless retail partners or authors specified otherwise.

Penguin Group, the second-largest publisher in the United States behind Random House, now appears set to follow suit...

Mr. Heffernan said the company changed its mind partly after watching the major music labels, like Warner Brothers and Sony BMG, abandon D.R.M. on the digital music they sell on “I’m looking at this as a test,” he said. “But I do believe the audio book market without D.R.M. is going to be the future.”

Other major book publishers seem to agree. Chris Lynch, executive vice president and publisher of Simon & Schuster Audio, said the company would make 150 titles available for download in an unprotected digital format in “the next couple of months.”

No More Secrets, you see

Better late than never, right? Here's Crissy's highlight video from last year's Game:

My favorite of her photos is this group shot:

But Karl re-enacting a scene from the movie runs a close second:

I'm also looking forward to Jan's NMS post-mortem at next Friday's GC Summit. As noted previously, Team Snout were not huge fans of the "field office" structure, which slowed down faster teams by holding them at certain locations and throwing "bonus clues" at them until it was time to move forward. But we did enjoy most of the rest of the event, especially the many entertaining variations on word puzzles. It'll be fun to hear GC's perspective.


Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Cake is a Lie

This was the front page of yesterday's San Jose Mercury News:


Aaaaand for tonight's performance, the part of GLaDOS will be played by Hillary Clinton. She does what she must, because she can, for the good of all of us...

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

"In God We Trust"

An award-winning short film made in 2000 by Jason Reitman, director of Juno and Thank You For Smoking. The kid's got talent:

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Overheard at a Wedding

Ken and Jerry got married yesterday! They threw a great party, featuring the ultimate montage of TV and movie wedding scenes, a lightning-fast ceremony, excellent food and cake served by the Professional Culinary Institute, and Mr. Lobo swearing in the dearly beloved with a modified version of his Knights of Insomnia Oath.

Later, at the TARDIS table, there was a scholarly debate about the nature of comedy:

Chris: Hey, repeating one joke is what got Milton Berle where he is today.
Kevin: Dead?

My job for the first part of the evening was Doorman, and I wore a tuxedo because it seemed an appropriate costume. I was, of course, completely outdone by Andy and Kevin's military-inspired BDUs (they were working Security), and the happy couple outshone us all--Ken in the Tenth Doctor's brown suit and white Converse trainers, and Jerry in a gravity-defying corset. The bride also wore a strategically placed button which read: "Thanks! My husband likes them too."

However, I did receive a compliment of the highest order on my attire: an Englishman addressed me as "Bond." Thanks, Merv. I was stirred, not shaken.