Blog Archives


News You Can Use: French Fry Edition

Look, I didn’t know this… and odds are, you didn’t know this. In fact, one of you stumbling across this will exclaim, “I have leftover fries right now.” Enjoy.


Cities… but Why?

Play enough Civilization and you ponder why the AI places cities where it sometimes does. I’m pretty sure said AIs have never watched this video by Wendover Productions.

Now, if you’re wondering why cities exist in the first place, well, first off, lovers of both Civilization and SimCity will look at you sadly… or maybe longingly, knowing how many accumulated hours, month, and years you haven’t been playing Civilization and SimCity.

More importantly, however, you can watch this video by Wendover Productions.


Fine. The Whole History of the Planet. I guess…

So, last week, I figured we Internet denizens needed a dance break (and hey, being a movie buff, it was a good mash-up), so why not do another video post? This time, it comes from the musically-inclined Bill Wurtz (technically, bill wurtz?)… and it gives a summary of the whole planet (human-centric, naturally).

Note that there is not-safe-for-work (NSFW) language and it’s irreverent throughout, including at least one event that you would like to get more attention.

But it’s damn fun.


Mandatory Dance Break

It’s the even of Memorial Day Weekend here in the States and, despite the holiday being a more solemn occasion, the long weekend has long been the official unofficial start of Summer

So let’s go ahead and help get that out of our systems.


Let’s Talk About Death! (But, y’know, indirectly)

It’s Friday, so it’s time for something light and cheerful. How about death? It is Friday the 13th, you know.

No really, this is about as fun an exploration about the language we use regarding shuffling off the mortal coil that I recall seeing this side of a Charles Addams cartoon. And the doctor below happily explains all sorts of geeky trivia regarding words.

Seriously, if I understood how much fun I might have before having to smell flowers underground, I would have continued some of my linguistic studies.


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.



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?


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.


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.


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.