Sunday, May 30, 2010

A History of My Day in Six Glasses

Coca-Cola Classic to accompany brunch at the downtown Palo Alto Creamery;
a cup of coffee to go with a slice of cake at Prolific Oven;
a mango mint margarita with appetizer at Cascal;
an orange Italian soda to cool off at Books Inc.;
Bushmills Irish whiskey on the rocks while waiting at the bar for my dinner party;
a Kingfisher beer to go with our meal at Shiva's;
...and water, water everywhere.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Book Report: Panel One: Comic Book Scripts by Top Writers

I'm not calling this a "comic book report" because, even though it is a collection of comic book scripts, it is not itself a comic book. Did I just blow your mind?

Anyway. It's very instructive to see how differently every writer approaches his or her script; as Nat Gertler says in his introduction, comic book scripts are direct lines between writers and artists, and each particular relationship influences the way that communication works. Sometimes it reads like a story pitch, and sometimes it's all visual descriptions. There's not a single "correct" or standard way to write these things.

I was highly amused by the fact that Greg Rucka felt the need to include actual endnotes in his script for Whiteout: Melt. Neil Gaiman and Kurt Busiek are brilliant, even in this stripped-down presentation. And Kevin Smith's script is about what you'd expect.

Buy the book: Powell's, Amazon (affiliate links)


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Comic Book Report: Invincible Iron Man, Vol. 2: World's Most Wanted, Book 1

I'm reserving final judgment until I see the next volume, which I believe concludes this particular story arc, but so far, it's not bad. SPOILER: Turning Pepper Potts into a superhero? Genius. More like this, please.

The one annoyance is that this collection starts with a huge "previously..." summary covering a world-changing multi-title crossover event which apparently took place between issues 7 and 8 of this book. You couldn't have at least included a pointer to that TPB somewhere in here? Lame.

Buy the book: Powell's, Amazon (affiliate links)


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

SnoutCast #17: "Codes"

Sorry for the lateness of this week's episode, and also the lack of extensive show notes. Perhaps someone else will provide the latter (hint, hint).

And yes, there is a puzzle embedded in this podcast! Follow the instructions in the solution for a chance to win a care package of DeeAnn's homemade fudge. All responses will be read on the air in two weeks; the most creative response wins. Judges' decision is final.

[ Download mp3 - 23 MB ]

00:00 - Firefly reference teaser
24:46 - The End

Music: instrumentals from "Code Monkey" and "The Future Soon" by Jonathan Coulton

[ Subscribe to SnoutCast / iTunes link ]

CKL DeeAnn Jasper

Today's Podcast Coming Soon

Real Soon Now!


Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Flash Fiction: "Nothing Up His Sleeve"

I originally wrote this week's story for NPR's Three-Minute Fiction contest. I didn't expect to win, and my expectations were met. Fully, and then some.

FWIW, I am still working on internalizing the lessons of Henning Nelm's Magic and Showmanship. (Thanks, Uncle Jim!)

Read "Nothing Up His Sleeve" at 512 Words or Fewer


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Book Report: The War of Art

I'll be honest: if I hadn't been listening to this as an audio book, and if it hadn't been a day when I was working as an extra, I wouldn't have finished this book. Not even close.

There is some good, solid advice on craft and discipline in the first few chapters, but then Pressfield starts talking about golf and angels and God and other things which, belief aside, I'm not really interested in. I don't want to hear your kooky opinions or half-baked theories about the nature of the universe. And his implication that cancer is merely a symptom of people's unfulfilled dreams is offensive to anyone who's ever lost a family member to the disease.

It's not nearly as bad as Dilbert creator Scott Adams going off the rails, but like I said, if I hadn't been stuck on set with few other entertainment options, I would have dropped it long before the end.

Buy the book: Powell's, Amazon (affiliate links)


Comic Book Report: Underground

This one may be hard to find in your neck of the woods, but it's worth the effort. Calling it "Die Hard in a cave" is mostly accurate but entirely untrue to the spirit of the thing. More on that later.

I knew about this book, and wanted to read it, but hadn't planned to pick it up so soon. As luck would have it, I stopped by Things From Another World last night for their "Avengers Day party," which featured a Q&A with Brian Michael Bendis and Jeff Parker...

...and while waiting for the event to start, I browsed the shelves and saw Underground on a "local creators" display. I'd brought my Powers hardcover for Bendis to sign, and figured I should pick up one of Parker's books, too.

Best decision I've made all week. Steve Lieber was also there to hear Bendis, and was gracious enough to sign a few books himself. So I got my copy of Underground inscribed by both creators:

In his afterword, Parker lays out some of their goals for this story, beyond simply writing a thriller set inside a cave. I won't recount those goals here, as some may be considered spoilers, but they were both admirable to begin with and achieved well in the finished book. Ask for it by name at your local comic shop.

Official web site: UNDERGROUND the Comic

Buy the book: Amazon (affiliate link), Etsy (signed copy)


Joss Whedon Breaks My Heart Again

Granted, he only directed this week's episode of Glee, and he's not the most visual thinker in the world, but this number absolutely killed me:

(Note that the video above has been flipped left-to-right and otherwise muddled, presumably to foil YouTube's automated detection algorithms. Fair use is an arms race.)


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

SnoutCast #16: "Wordplay"

Spelling counts.

[ Download mp3 - 29 MB ]

00:00 - no teaser this week. maybe teaser next week
01:12 - many pop culture references are lost on DeeAnn
01:37 - This Week: Word Games
02:26 - Upwords > Scrabble ?
03:50 - DeeAnn and Boggle do not get along
04:30 - how is a word game like another word game?
05:51 - Perhaps we should not compare Quiddler to rummy. Or cribbage...
06:32 - ...or talk about people's grandmas.
07:35 - Anyway. Back to Quiddler.
10:05 - generalizing words to other patterns, sets, and sequences
11:34 - (we still haven't found that article about games vs. puzzles)
13:20 - a different kind of word game: Apples to Apples
14:21 - Scrabble as a math problem
17:38 - let's talk about Bananagrams
22:15 - taking advantage of the dictionary
23:12 - Listener Mail: how do you play board games with cats around?
24:44 - how to distract cats, children, friends, or dogs
27:32 - how to distract DeeAnn
29:05 - Next Week: Codes and Puzzle Hunts
30:08 - Upcoming Events: Shinteki Decathlon 6
31:42 - The End

Music: instrumentals from "Code Monkey" and "My Monkey" by Jonathan Coulton; excerpt from "The Girl from Ipanema" by Jesse Bennett

[ Subscribe to SnoutCast / iTunes link ]

CKL DeeAnn

Monday, May 17, 2010

Comic Book Report: Superman: Kryptonite Nevermore

This collection of Superman comics from the early 1970s epitomizes many of the things that were wrong with the Silver Age (and continues to be wrong with Smallville on TV--but that's another post).

I mean, come on. I'm used to comic book writers hand-waving a lot of science, or even inventing their own, but when you don't even try to explain the principles behind a dimensional rift... the science fiction fan in me rebels at such liberties.

I'm not even going to talk about the ethnic and other stereotypes, which were pretty much par for the course back in the day. My biggest problem is the poorly written dialogue, especially major expository lumps containing outrageous claims for which nobody ever demands proof. It's pulpy to the extreme, which is not a bad thing per se, but pulp without engaging characters eventually becomes either repetitive, absurd, or both.

One last thing: Considering the events of Final Crisis in 2008, it's odd to see Darkseid mentioned here in such a lightweight context. Times sure have changed.

Buy the book: Powell's, Amazon (affiliate links)


Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Facebook Conversation

This is actually one of the more coherent threads I've seen on FB:

Please note that Sean lives in Silicon Valley, has been a professional video game developer for nearly two decades now, and actually hacked MAME source code to create an interactive puzzle for the aforementioned Game in 2008.

Just goes to show you that there are many different subdivisions within the wide world of geekdom. But seriously, how hard is it to do a Google search?


Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday Flash Fiction: "I Disagree"

Why, yes, I do watch The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report. Thanks for asking!

Read "I Disagree" at 512 Words or Fewer


Thursday, May 13, 2010

LEVERAGE Casting Notice

In a city with over 11% unemployment, you'd think more people would be looking for whatever gigs they can find. Here's one for anyone who's curious about the world of television, lives in Portland, Oregon, and has some free time on their hands:



EXTRAS ONLY is still currently casting all the extras, featured extras, stand-ins and photo doubles for the third season of the hit TV series, LEVERAGE.

The series stars Academy Award winner Timothy Hutton and is a drama about a team of thieves, hackers and grifters who act as modern-day Robin Hoods, taking revenge against those who use power and wealth to victimize others. Produced by Dean Devlin (“Independence Day”, TNT’s “The “The Librarian”), John Rogers (“The Cosby Show”) and Chris Downey (“The King of Queens”). They are filming 16 episodes for season 3 from now until mid-August in Oregon.

“We are hiring thousands extras from our database who are getting paid to be background actors on a hit prime time show! It’s a great opportunity to make some extra money and have fun being involved in the process." We are booking ALL TYPES! Log on to the website as soon as possible and make sure everything is current including your photo, sizes, current email and contact info, and vehicle info.

You do not need to be available during all shoot days as the work for extras is sporadic, and the schedule can change at a moments notice. Some people will work only 1 or 2 days and some will repeat in different scenes working multiple days. However, the more available one is, the better chance of being cast. Please update your info as soon as possible! Preference is also given to those who complete the free online workshop on what is expected of a professional extra.

Applicants will be considered for work in next upcoming episode and possibly others.
SHOOT DATE: Thurs May 20-Sat May 22 & Mon May 24-Thurs May 27 (exact dates TBD)
Pay is $67.20 to $150/day depending on role, overtime paid at time and half after 8 hours.


*Please post this or forward to anyone you know who might be interested. If you are currently signed up with Extras Only, DO NOT REAPPLY OR SIGN UP ONLINE, you are already being considered! However, if you feel you fit one of the above descriptions and have not been contacted by our office, please e-mail include your name, photo from your profile and membership status. We will contact you if interested.

I've done this a couple of times, and it's a great way to catch up on books and podcasts. Most of your time is spent waiting around (and getting paid for it! w00t). It's also given me new respect for film crews. They're the ones doing all the heavy lifting--often literally--and anything I can do to help them on set is capital-G Good.


Comic Book Report: Checkmate: Pawn Breaks

One of my few complaints about the Checkmate TPBs is that they're not clearly labeled with volume numbers. Yes, I'm a completist, and somewhat OCD about it; I like to read serialized stories in order, and I like them to have proper endings.

Granted, the arcs in Checkmate generally stand alone pretty well--this book collects five issues and two self-contained storylines--but it bugs me if I don't at least understand the chronology of the world. (There's a rant about that coming next week. I know you can't wait.)

What else? Oh, yeah, still loving it. Rucka does a nice job of sprinkling just enough superheroic and magical elements on top of a solid spy-fi foundation to put a fresh spin on the genre without making it too ridiculous. And that's quite a feat in a book which features a talking chimp.

Buy the book: Powell's, Amazon (affiliate links)


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

SnoutCast #15: "Hints"

Are you still having fun?

[ Download mp3 - 34 MB ]

00:00 - Random Teaser™: Tattoo Science, PDX Edition
02:31 - Welcome; DeeAnn is generous
05:08 - The Humble Indie Bundle
07:46 - why we used pre-printed hints in DASH 1 PDX and DASH 2 PDX
09:36 - how "we" decided to run DASH 1 PDX as a relay
11:46 - phoning it in
12:35 - computer help files R TEH SUX0RZ
16:09 - accurate labeling on canned hints for DASH
17:22 - the Wonka Game hint penalty system
21:21 - teams are very specific about "hint" vs. "confirm"
23:41 - "solution methodology" hints in DASH 2 PDX
24:22 - show not tell
25:27 - DeeAnn read this really cool article but now she can't remember it.
26:00 - Maybe Larry knows what it is.
26:50 - were DASH 1 PDX hints better than DASH 2 PDX? too spoilery?
29:03 - Portland loves hints
30:03 - hints in Shinteki Field Trip: Disneyland
31:17 - would DeeAnn's mom enjoy Shinteki Disneyland?
32:12 - how is a puzzle like a board game?
33:09 - damning with faint praise FTW OMGWTFBBQ
34:15 - Mmm... Good Eats...
34:36 - e-mail us!
35:14 - upcoming events: Shinteki Decathlon 6, w00tstock 2.x shows (now with puzzles!)
37:07 - The End

Music: instrumentals from "Code Monkey" and "Ikea" by Jonathan Coulton

[ Subscribe to SnoutCast / iTunes link ]

CKL DeeAnn Jasper

Monday, May 10, 2010

SnoutCast #15 Preview

Check out the Humble Indie Bundle--pay what you want for five full computer games! This deal expires tomorrow morning.

(from DeeAnn, who donated more than the average bear)


Friday, May 07, 2010

Friday Flash Fiction: "There Will Be Banter"

When I can't think of anything to write, I write cops.

Also, I consider it something of an achievement that despite being sick for most of this week, I managed to rewrite two short stories for critique this weekend and bang out this entry in the further adventures of Jake and Andy, Futurismic Detectives.

Now it's time for a sandwich.

Read "There Will Be Banter" at 512 Words or Fewer


Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Comic Book Report: X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills

For something that's supposed to be a cornerstone of contemporary comics, I wasn't hugely impressed by this graphic novel. For one thing, despite a large cast of characters, they're all surprisingly arc-free, and navigating their relationships depends on the reader knowing a fair bit about the Marvel universe going in.

Some of the writing--for example, describing a bodega as "a Spanish delicatessen"--is laughably quaint. Not to mention talky, and preachy, and melodramatic. But I suppose that was all par for the course in 1982, when this was first published. And it is an interesting historical document, if not the holy text that its authors make it out to be in the endless interviews packed into this hardcover edition.

This is not actually a negative review. God Loves, Man Kills still has some relevance, and it's interesting to see in it where many of the ideas for the first two X-Men movies came from.

Buy the book: Powell's, Amazon (affiliate links)


Tuesday, May 04, 2010

SnoutCast #14: "VG vs. BG"

Show notes? We don't need no stinkin' show notes.

[ Download mp3 - 30 MB ]

00:00 - Start
31:13 - End

Music: instrumentals from "Code Monkey" and "First of May" by Jonathan Coulton

[ Subscribe to SnoutCast / iTunes link ]

CKL DeeAnn

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Comic Book Haul

One of my favorite things about Free Comic Book Day--besides the obvious free comic books--is the sales that most of the participating shops run. Once you've got people in the store, why wouldn't you try to sell them stuff? And why not see if you can unload some of that inventory from the back room?

D and I hit three different shops yesterday, and our first big score was at the Portland Things From Another World (TFAW), where we found the Queen & Country: Red Panda hardcover (pictured above) for 60% off. D also picked up The Stranded, about which we knew nothing except that it was written by Mike Carey, who did Lucifer, which D loved. And hey, 60% off!

Artist Steve Lieber was at TFAW to sign books, and when we presented him with our copies of Whiteout, he asked, "Do you have time for me to do a drawing?" (Are you kidding?) We watched as he penciled and inked this image of Carrie Stetko:

That was the same book Greg Rucka had signed a couple of years ago, when we ran into him at PAX:

(Buy Whiteout Volume 1 from affiliates: Powell's, Amazon)

After TFAW, we headed down to Excalibur Comics on Hawthorne. Kurt Busiek had already bugged out, but we said hello to Adam Rosko and chatted briefly about Trek in the Park. They're doing "Space Seed" this summer. Can't wait.

For some reason, traffic on I-5 north was hellish, and it took us a solid hour to get back across the state line. Fortunately, we had Josh and Chuck to keep us company.

Our last stop before heading home was Amazing Stories in Vancouver, where I found a sealed box of The Making of Star Trek: The Next Generation collector cards (SkyBox Gold Edition, set number 8268 of 50000, pictured above) in the 75% off bin. They're obviously not worth much as collectibles, but I didn't buy them as an investment; I bought them because I'm a huge TNG geek.

On our way out of that store, the owner of Pop Culture--who had set up a table outside--offered us samples of some of the soft drinks available at his establishment. So we stopped for a minute and tasted some root beers and the original-formula, made-with-real-sugar Dublin Dr Pepper.

All in all, it was a very good day. I'm looking forward to doing some reading this week.


Do You Know What Yesterday Was?

Really, now. Did you think I'd forgotten?

It was also this year's Free Comic Book Day--more on that later--and, apparently, a good day for political protests in Portland. Not that there's any connection between those two, but as long as we're talking about it, it wouldn't hurt you to check out the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.


Saturday, May 01, 2010

It Makes a Fellow Proud to Live in Portland

D and I read about this guy in our local newspaper a few weeks ago, and now the story's gone national:

Yup. Welcome to PDX.

The title of this post is, of course, sarcastic. Allow me to educate those of you unfamiliar with the great Tom Lehrer: