Boldy Going: First Contact Day, 2022

Okay, I’ll come back and expand on all of this, but for the Trek fans among you, there are several things to celebrate

First is that season 3 of Picard is going to get the band back together as they close out a certain British Frenchman’s story:

Next, they have a glorious 4K restoration of Star Trek: The Motion Picture on Paramount+. If you’re not already itching to see it, wait ’til I explain a simple test to see if you want to watch it (hint: many of you won’t and you should feel free not to).

Finally, they’ve been rocking a series of 30-second character teasers followed by an official trailer for the May 5th debut of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and some clever (video editing) engineer has put them all together:

Again, I’ll come back and comment on all this later. For now: live long and prosper.

Your Regularly Scheduled Spam Post

Okay, so now that I think about it, maybe I haven’t always posted stuff like this, but if feels like a yearly update of “how to combat the time-wasting scam peeps spamming you on your phone” is warranted.

This year’s edition is from Wired.

Re-visiting the Four-Day Workweek

Part of the silver lining of experiencing a horrendous global pandemic has been people re-examining how they do things. I referenced Joe Pinsker’s article for The Atlantic last year, which is well worth a read if you haven’t checked it out already.

Well, Alex Christian over at the BBC has an article exploring what’s going right, what’s going wrong, and some of the challenges of moving to a four-day workweek. The main issue is making sure that expectations are managed for what workload can be done in four days, something that will need to be addressed workplace by workplace and worker by worker.

Four-day workweeks already exist for a lot of American workplaces thanks to Monday (and occasionally other weekday) holidays. And any veteran office denizen has seen their workplace try and cram 5 days’ worth of work into 32. Project managers often try and get people to think in terms of “32 hours” vs. “40 hours,” but veteran project managers will also tell you of the problems of getting people to acknowledge project schedule constraints (and the people who quip, “who works only 40 hours a week?” are invariably the ones who don’t have to pay overtime and watch for cost overruns on projects).

So it’ll be interesting to see what happens. Perhaps they’ll be another article for me to link to next year.

The Work, not Art, of Screenwriting, via Billy Ray

Given last week’s post about David Lynch and screenwriting, I knew I wanted to do another screenwriting post. And then last night’s Oscar ceremony got me thinking about the film industry and its future and I remembered a column by screenwriter Billy Ray. It’s from 2016, but it doesn’t seem any less apropos in its calls to action.

Still from the film Network, written by Paddy Chayefsky

Note that the column is very much about Hollywood/mainstream film industry filmmaking, but it’s not like the Hollywood approach to filmmaking hasn’t had an impact on filmmaking in general. I found a lot of thoughts popped out, whether from focusing on the work (see Paddy Chayefsky above) to “If you’re an artist, it’ll come out as art anyway.”

Enjoy… and then get back to writing.

Video

An Instrument Which, By Definition, Is a Blast to Play

Okay, I was going to post something else today, but then thanks to Andrew M. Edwards of Blue Police Box Music, you’re getting a short, but so, so sweet video.

There was an online discussion of the upcoming ultra-HD release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture and conversation, quite naturally, turned to the iconic score by composer Jerry Goldsmith. Now, Goldsmith loved “esoteric instruments” as this article points out — and for the noise of V’Ger, he came up with a bizarre 18-foot long stringed instrument that has a bass dynamic range that just feels otherworldly.

I couldn’t remember the name of the instrument, but Mr. Edwards, as both a lover and producer of film scores, knew it: The Blaster Beam.

Not only that. This singular instrument has been used recently for another score.

Behold!

Video

Go Boldly, Any Way You Can

I’m working on some more writing this week, so it felt like time to share this:

In my own series, Rogue Tyger, the characters refer to an “FTL drive,” but they also talk about “jumps” so you can deduce that ships in the ‘Tygerverse’ use a form of jump drive. Visually, it’s probably best been represented with the recent incarnation of Battlestar Galactica, but a major inspiration for how the drive works and the variations between commercial and military versions of FTL drives came from Vernor Vinge’s A Fire Upon the Deep.

One of the reasons I went this direction is because a ship’s ability to “jump” or fold fit how I wanted ships to behave in stories. I didn’t want them to be “in hyperspace” or “at warp” for any long period of time. The distance a ship could jump and the speed at which it could re-jump also had dramatic applications I liked — as well as skilled pilots being able to execute pinpoint jumps the fraction of a light-minute versus rookie pilots.

What sort of propulsion systems do you most like (or dislike) in science fiction?

Video

Screenwriting through the David Lynch Lens

Last week, I posted a few videos about David Lynch and how to hook yourself an idea or two.

Well, as you might expect, I plowed through a number of Lynch videos at the same time, in part because the two I shared last week are just about the nature of getting ideas.

But, in fact, the first video I watched was a piece asking Lynch about his screenwriting process… and since it’s just over two minutes, it’s actually easy to re-watch as you realize at the end how many little nuggets of experience he puts in there.

All the ideas of process could easily be fleshed out into whole seminars (and I imagine the gentleman who introduced Lynch to the “note card” idea does just that in his classes), but it’s good to think of.

Incidentally, I am more of a “plotter” than a “pantser” — and back when I was more analog than digital, I absolutely did the note card method and still do it as I outline albeit via Workflowy. However I think in terms of altitude. Some “note cards” remain at the 50,000 foot view and that’s all I need. Some need more detail. Some get so much detail, I have to break them into separate cards so that the flow gets articulated well.

But that’s likely a discussion for another time. Back to Lynch. I’ve now shared several short videos, so here’s a compilation of a bunch of interviews which gives you 10 screenwriting tips… though since it’s Lynch, it’s really more ideas and approaches to screenwriting versus bland specifications.

I like all the ideas presented. For one, I think he nails why film is such a powerful medium, since it can deal with abstraction so powerfully. I also like his notion of what writer’s block represents and how he rejects suffering as a necessary component of being an artist. There’s also some great stuff about how to tap into your own creativity. Hope you all have a creative week.

Video

Traffic Schmaffic

I’ll believe the pandemic is behind us when I can’t even see it in the rearview mirror, but it does seem that places are opening up again. That means going back to work in an office for a lot of us… and that means traffic. But what if there were a way to fix traffic? This 11-minute video offers some possible solutions.

Video

Where do Ideas come from? David Lynch Edition

The post from the other week about how hard hobbies are to schedule time for made me think of something I recently saw regarding how to generate ideas… and from a man generally known for having some out-of-the-box type ideas: David Lynch.

As many of you might know, I love using Workflowy, including for capturing ideas. I mean, I love the habit of always carrying around an old-school notebook to jot things down in –and I do have a number of those– but I have to be honest: the ability to jot things down AND link to reference URLs and videos has proven very useful (to say nothing of revising whatever notes or lists I have on the fly based on new ideas).

But whether in print or electronic, my general approach is similar to something I read about author C.S. Forester‘s process in The Hornblower Companion, where he mentioned ideas were like timbers that sank into the sea of his mind until they had enough barnacles (details) to pop back up again and be used for writing (note: this works for writing only, it will not aid the construction of seaworthy vessels).

David Lynch doesn’t employ a timber analogy, but water still plays a role:

I love the idea of tempting ideas to come to you… and in many of his interviews and talks, he’s mentioned being in good health, having slept well, and so on, is a better way to find ideas and be creative — which I appreciate because I’ve long disliked the “starving/suffering artist” stereotype.

Now, while the video above is interesting, the one below uses animation to be a bit more “Lynchian,” where he also directly addresses the suffering silliness.

So go out and catch yourself an idea.

A Friendly Reminder about Daylight Saving Time

Because it really shouldn’t still be a thing.