The Way of the Word

24. October 2011

Is This World Protected?

“Is this world protected?”

Yes, Doctor, it is. But who protects it? Why, Rory Williams, of course, the Last Centurion.

Would you like him to repeat the question?

8. October 2011

I (Heart) Christopher Lee – Postscript

It’s not a secret that I’m a huge fan of Christopher Lee.

I even made some cartoons about it:

I (Heart) Christopher Lee
Meeting the Legend

If you wish, you could refer to the strips’s backstory, which I explained in a different post here on this blog. Essentially, the strips are a spoof of what might happen if I ever got the chance to meet Christopher Lee.

He was in Hamburg last Sunday. Presenting his new movie.

AND NOBODY TOLD ME!!!!!!!

Translation: considering that he’s 89 years old, this was probably the only chance ever to meet him, AND NOBODY TOLD ME!!!!

(slinks into a corner to cry)

26. July 2011

Rory Williams is Badass

Within a short time, Doctor Who companion Rory Williams (otherwise known as Mr. Amy Pond) has shown himself to be the most badass character of the 21st century. Or any other century. I’m sure even the Doctor is at least a little bit afraid of him.

16. June 2011

Die Delfine von Moray Firth

1995 besuchte ich Schottland. Die Gegend beeindruckte mich so sehr, dass ich ein paar Reiseartikel verfasste. Die nie veröffentlicht wurden. Auf der Suche nach anderen alten Artikeln stieß ich neulich auch auf diese Artikel, die ich den Lesern nicht vorenthalten möchte.

*       *    *

Loch Ness ist nicht das interessanteste Gewässer bei Inverness in Schottland. Eine Fahrt über Moray Firth ist viel interessanter. Denn, anders als bei Loch Ness, weiss man bei Moray Firth genau, was dort schwimmt.

Moray Firth ist an der Stelle der britischen Küste, die den “Nacken des Wichtelmannes” darstellt: eine Bucht mit direktem Zugang zur Nordsee. Moray Firth ist eine ruhige und geschützte Bucht. Und gerade dies ist der Grund, weswegen Moray Firth die einzige in der Nordsee lebende Delphin-Population aufweist.

Moray Firth ist der nördlichste Punkt, an dem Delphine leben. Aufgrund der geschützten Lage von Moray Firth wird diese Bucht von den Delphinen als ein Ort der Ruhe geschätzt, an dem sie ihre Jungen aufziehen können. Sie bleiben das ganze Jahr hindurch. Forscher von der Universität von Aberdeen identifizierten bis jetzt 130 Tiere. Sie stellten auch fest, dass die Delphine von Moray Firth zu den größten der Welt gehören: sie werden bis zu vier Meter lang.

Und man kann sie sich ansehen.

Für den durchschnittlichen Touristen mit einem gewissen Interesse an Delphinen bieten sich mehrere Möglichkeiten, die Delphine von Moray Firth zu beobachten. Eine dieser Möglichkeiten ist das Dolphin & Seal Centre an der nördlichen Küste des Beauly Firth, das bis Ende September für Touristen geöffnet hat. Von hier aus kann man nach Delphinen Ausschau halten, sich über Unterwassermikrophone die Gesänge der Delphine anhören und sich über die Lebensumstände der Tiere im Moray Firth informieren.

Eine andere Möglichkeit ist, eine Bootsfahrt über Moray Firth zu machen. Vom Hafen in Inverness aus bieten zwei Veranstalter Touren an: MacAulay Charters und Moray Firth Cruises. Diese Touren finden das ganze Jahr hindurch statt, sofern das Wetter es zulässt, und bringen den Delphinfan näher an die Tiere heran als ein Besuch im Dolphin & Seal Centre dies zulässt. Natürlich können die Veranstalter nicht garantieren, dass man tatsächlich Delphine, oder eine der anderen im Moray Firth lebenden Tierarten, zu sehen bekommt. Jedoch ist eine Fahrt über den Moray Firth auch bei einem Misserfolg spannender als eine Fahrt über Loch Ness. Denn im Moray Firth leben ganz bestimmt die erwarteten Tiere.

Ausser Delphinen kann man, wenn man Glück hat, auch noch andere Tierarten finden. Dort gibt es nach verlässlichen Berichten ausser Delphinen Seehunde, Minkwale, Merganza und Kormorane.

Ein kleiner Tip: machen Sie die Fahrt möglichst am Vormittag. Die Delphine sind zu dieser Zeit aktiver.

 

EINE SEEFAHRT, DIE IST LUSTIG…

In Inverness gibt es zwei Anbieter für Fahrten über den Moray Firth: MacAuley Charters und Moray Firth Cruises. Beide bieten Rundfahrten von ca. 90 Minuten Dauer an, die vom Inverness-Hafen aus beginnen. Die Leistungen beider Veranstalter sind generell identisch. Moray Firth Cruises verfügt über das größere Boot (ca. 90 Plätze). Vor der Fahrt gibt es eine kurze Einführung über die Tiere, die man im Moray Firth (mit etwas Glück) sehen kann. An Bord, und auch im Büro am Kai kann man Souvenirs kaufen.

MacAuley Charters hat ein kleineres Boot, gibt keine Einführung und verkauft keine Souvenirs. Jedoch gibt es, wie auch bei Moray Firth Cruises, an Bord freundliches Personal, das einem alle Fragen, die man eventuell stellt, beantworten kann und das auch eifrig mit nach Delphinen und Seehunden Ausschau hält. Beide Veranstalter verkaufen Tickets für ihre Fahrten direkt am Kai, oder auch im Tourist Information Centre in Inverness, wo Kleinbusse interessierte Passagiere auch kurz vor den Fahrten abholen.

Generell sind beide Veranstalter empfehlenswert.

1. June 2011

Novel in Progress: Die Young

It’s funny how some things develop sometimes. How the real world needs of the writer can influence a story, and actually make it better.

Case in point: Die Young. I’m writing without an outline. I know the crime, I know who did it, and I know why they did it. As I write it, I uncover the story just as the investigator, Shaw, does. And sometimes it surprises me.

Case in point: I recently had a scene where I needed someone to leave a building. If I’d ended the scene with that character leaving, it would have been glaringly obvious, a couple of pages later, why he left. At least to me, but I’m writing this assuming that the readers are at least as astute as I am. So I needed to extend the scene beyond that, but without forcing it, or at least making it seemed forced.

What happened was that the scene ended on a completely different major development, a development that I hadn’t planned, that I hadn’t foreseen, but that made complete and total sense.

Another thing was that I didn’t feel good yesterday. I was tired, distracted, preoccupied all day long. I decided to put that into the story: by giving Shaw some sleep-withdrawal, then have something happen, and let him wonder if he missed anything because he was too tired. The obvious answer is yes. 🙂

I also realized that I have accidentally created an extra viable suspect. I’ll have to nurture that character, just to see where it will take me.

Lastly, I realized that I overlooked something obvious. Because the case originally ties into the adult entertainment industry, I had Shaw begin his search for the endangered Amy Mason there. He hasn’t found her yet, nobody knows her. The obvious thing I overlooked: just because the bad guys work in the adult entertainment industry doesn’t mean that Amy has to work there. However, I’m not sure that this logic error is something that needs fixing. For one thing, the case is only two days old, story time. Shaw spent the first day looking for Diana Young’s killer, and the second day looking for Amy Mason. In the story, he has just woken up to day 3. Now, I could go back and add a line or two where he considers the possibility that Amy Mason might not be connected to the adult entertainment industry, or I could have him realize that over breakfast on the third day. I’m not sure yet which is better, but I’ll need to decide before continuing.

Frankly, I lean towards the latter, having him realize it. Shaw’s human, and there’s no reason why he shouldn’t overlook the obvious. “I missed the obvious, but at least I only wasted a day looking in all the wrong places — places that I probably would have searched anyway, even if I had thought of it.” Something like that.

28. May 2011

Awesome Ideas That Will Never Be

Okay, if the right chain of unlikely coincidences should happen, this one has a very slim chance of not being completely impossible. If someone who knows Cassandra Peterson happens to see this and likes it and points it out to her and she likes it…

But, yeah: awesome idea that will never be.

I like Elvira (Cassandra Peterson). The character is funny, bizarre, over the top, sexy and, well, funny. I own her first movie, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, on DVD. I’ve seen the second one, Elvira’s Haunted Hills, but I don’t like it nearly as much as the first. The reason is simple: Elvira is an over-the-top comedic character. But unlike the first movie, where Elvira began as the odd woman out and the situation became progressively more bizarre, the second movie had a scenario where everyone was so bizarre that Elvira fit right in.

A good Elvira movie needs to quote heavily from the horror genre, and it has to have Elvira as someone who stands out like the proverbial sore thumb. If everyone is as bizarre as she, then it’s overkill.

So what can we do to make a good and fun Elvira movie? It’s really quite simple:

Elvira Knows Why You Screamed on Friday the 13th.

Let’s quote heavily from the slasher genre, with some liberal sprinkling of Evil Dead and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

A busload of teenagers, returning home from a sports event (or going to a sports event) finds themselves trapped on a small islet. They had only planned to pass through, but a flash flood tore down both bridges, effectively isolating them. There is only one house on the islet, a mansion actually, so the teenagers turn there for help.

The only person in there is Elvira, who, being her normal friendly and helpful self, offers the kids shelter. But something is weird about the entire set-up. Curious as teenagers are, they discover that Elvira is engaged in some strange magickal rituals that might involve the Necronomicon.

As soon as they discover that, they start dying. Since Elvira is the odd woman out, they of course immediately suspect her as the Slasher, and try to kill her in return. Which doesn’t work, but plays a part in establishing that Elvira is not the killer. As the outsider looking in, her help does turn out to be instrumental in uncovering the real killer. And about the magickal experiments she performs in her basement? Yes, it is the Necronomicon, but she’s not trying to call up demons. She’s trying to materialize Bruce Campbell.

At the end of the night, the bridges are being repaired, so the surivors can look forward to continuing on their trip. But what about Elvira? Will she get lucky? Will her summoning of Bruce Campbell succeed? Only his agent knows for sure…

13. April 2011

Awesome Ideas That Will Never Be

We all know that the new Superman movie is going to be a trilogy, right? And a reboot. And it’s common knowledge that Zod will be the villain in the first movie. Now, nobody’s asked me, and they never will, but this is how I would do a Superman trilogy. I’m focusing on Luthor’s storyarc here, because I feel that after having been the villain/supporting character in 4 out of 5 movies, the animated series, and Smallville, justifying his presence requires a bit more effort in order to make him interesting.

The first movie opens with the destruction of Krypton: a distinctively-shaped spaceship approaches the planet and destroys it. Just before that happens, Jor-El sends of infant Kal-El. The next years are summarized during the opening credits: arrival on Earth, growing up on a farm, discovering the powers and joining the Daily Planet.

Enter Lex Luthor, the most brillant mind on Earth. And a total sociopath. His supergenius intellect has made him a giant in science and economy, and his lack of conscience (“I am the pinnacle of human evolution – to me, all of you are like ants”) has made him utterly ruthless and disregardful of human life. Literally the only thing that matters to Luthor is Luthor. The rest of us exist to worship him.

Then Zod arrives, and with his superpowers begins to take over the planet. Luthor sets out to stop him – and fails. The first and only failure in his life. Even worse, this is the moment when Superman shows himself, takes on Zod and wins! Superman succeeds where Luthor failed, and he now gets the accolades that Luthor considers his due. That leaves only one thing to do: in order to set things right, Superman must be destroyed!

But that will have to wait, because in the second movie, the distinctive spaceship that destroyed Krypton approaches Earth. Brainiac has come, to destroy our world. And this time, even Superman alone isn’t up to the task. While Luthor would love to see Superman fail and destroyed, this won’t do — the only one who gets to destroy Superman is Luthor. And since there won’t be anyone left to worship Luthor if Earth is destroyed, Luthor needs to save the Earth. During the final confrontation on Brainiac’s ship, Luthor steals Brainiac’s data and happens upon something that nobody on Earth has ever seen: Kryptonite. He discovers that because Brainiac uses it against Superman, and Luthor needs to save Superman from the effects. Needless to say he keeps the sample for future use. Together, they kick Brainiac’s ass.

The third movie brings up the confrontation that audiences have been waiting for: Luthor vs. Superman. Luthor has used the information he stole from Brainiac’s ship to build himself a battle suit that is powerful enough to take Superman on. So he does, confident that even if the suit fails, he still has the Kryptonite to back him up. Superman wins, of course. That is the one thing that Luthor can’t tolerate, so he activates Plan Omega: he overloads his armor, which would result in an explosion powerful enough to wipe Metropolis off the map. It is something that Superman can of course prevent. Worse, from Luthor’s POV, is the fact that Superman saves Luthor’s life. In prison, all Luthor can think of is revenge…

10. April 2011

Awesome Ideas That Will Never Be

I originally had this idea sometime in the 1980s/early 1990s. I don’t remember exactly when. At the time, the idea would have worked. By now, that is no longer the case, the timeline makes it impossible.

Something that was established in the Roger Stern/John Byrne run of Captain America was that the US government had messed with Cap’s memories. I took that ball and ran with it.

One of the things that Cap had been made to forget was that he had been married, sometime after receiving the Super Soldier treatment. Therefore, he had no idea that he had a son, Steven Junior. The boy’s father had been told that her husband was missing, presumed dead – like so many others in wars all over the world throughout time. So she raised her son accordingly.

Steven Junior (from here on SJ, for convenience) fell in with the wrong people. With the extreme right. He had seen how his mother had worked herself to death, literally, in order to give her son a future, and that didn’t sit too well with him. His father had died for their country, and the country had abandoned them. The country owed him! The attitude didn’t change when SJ married and had a child, Brian. SJ managed to rise in the ranks of his right-wing group.

But the reader wouldn’t know all that when we start out.  The reader would encounter SJ when Captain America does, pretty much by accident. Cap notices just how much SJ resembles him, and the man’s name is Steven Rogers, so he has Nick Fury check the guy out and is stunned to discover that SJ is the son he never knew he had. And that he has a grandson, who is in college! Cap tries to connect with his son. For SJ, discovering that his father is Captain America is an opportunity. He stays at Cap’s side for a while, and when he has Cap’s trust — he traps him. He doesn’t kill him, he wants payback for being abandoned. So SJ becomes Captain America. And he wants his father to know what he does in his name.

Remember that I said that Cap married after becoming a super soldier? The treatment affected his genes, and the results carried over to SJ. SJ, now Captain America, turns against the US and establishes himself as a Neo-Nazi.

Enter Brian, who I’m sure you’ve already forgotten. Brian is shocked at what is going on. Especially once he discovers the true connection between his father and Captain America. So Brian Rogers does what every self-respecting grandchild of a superhero would do: he pretends to be his own granddad and takes on SJ. SJ flees the scene. Now, he decides, is the time to kill the real Captain America. Brian, who had expected something like this, follows his father. He prevents the murder of Captain America and frees Cap from the cage he’s locked into. Together, Cap and Brian defeat SJ. After which they take on SJ’s extremist group and kick their asses.

Afterwards, Captain America suggests that he could train Brian to be the next Bucky, so that he can eventually take over the shield himself. Brian refuses. He believes that he can accomplish more by finishing his education and putting that to use within the system, instead of as a masked adventurer. But he does stay on as an irregular supporting character.

5. April 2011

Awesome Ideas That Will Never Be

I actually pitched this one to Marvel, many years ago. It was shot down because of their sliding timescale — “JJJ isn’t that old.” Actually, he is; I had the idea after seeing Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson in the 1939 scenes of Kurt Busiek’s and Alex Ross’s Marvels.

Back in the early 1940s, Steve Rogers was not the only candidate for the Super Soldier program. There was another one. A newspaper journalist: J. Jonah Jameson. He passed the physical as easily as Rogers did, and truth be told the army preferred him. He wasn’t as wimpy as Rogers. True, Erskine had assured them that it didn’t matter, the end result would be the same. But the army liked Jameson’s more combative attitude.

In the end, they put both candidates into separate rooms for the final interviews. But something went wrong.

Nazi agents stormed the place. They Sieg Heiled through the top secret installation and, the element of surprise on their side, managed to kill Erskine and fight their way through to the two candidates. They stormed into the room where Jameson was. When they pointed their Schmeisser machine guns at him, Jameson slunk back into a corner and whimpered. They didn’t bother to kill him. He wasn’t worth their time.

Another group charged the room where small, skinny Steve Rogers was. They were met with a chair thrown at them. When they pointed their Schmeisser machine guns at Rogers, he stared at them defiantly.

“You can kill me now,” he said, “but you will never defeat the power of a free nation!”

That was when the general aborted the test. Rogers had passed, he had proven that he had the strength of character to become the first super-soldier.

Jameson was sent home in disgrace. Inside, he seethed. And every time he saw Captain America in action, or any other costumed hero, he knew that it could have been him, should have been him — if he had been man enough.

8. March 2011

From the Front Lines of the Cancer Wars

Filed under: Commentary,general,Uncategorized — jensaltmann @ 08:57
Tags: , , ,

I’m posting the following as a favor to a friend.

Some of you know me, some don’t. My name’s Paul Pogue, Indianapolis, Indiana, lifelong nerd, father to three-year-old cancer survivor Armand Zefram Pogue.

A couple of years ago, Armand was diagnosed with just about the worst case of cancer imaginable – a stage-four neuroblastoma that put a tumor the size of a cabbage in his stomach and left him with survival odds in the low double digits.

Armand is doing great now, two years later, and is cancer-free. But recently our circle of friends was hit with the cruel hammer of irony. One of my close friends these many years is Sarah Rogers. Last week her 12-year-old daughter Patty was diagnosed with stage-four neuroblastoma – exactly the same kind Armand had, and possibly an even worse case, with a tumor wrapped around her spine and another in her lung.

Right now she’s at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis, getting the finest care available – as it happens, in one of the very same rooms in which my son spent so many days fighting for his life.

My goal is to help Patty stay a little more sane. If there’s one thing my family knows after 240 long days of inpatient treatment, it is that the days can go on endlessly. Armand got lucky – he had a DVD player and later an iPod to while away the days. And for a cancer patient who can barely even sit up, there is nothing better in the world than an iPod.

Unless, of course, it’s two years later and the world now has the iPad.

Patty Rogers doesn’t have her own computer, and even a laptop would be kind of hard to work with in the hard days ahead when she might be flat on her back for a long time. But an iPad? Perfect.

So I want to help get Patty an iPad ASAP and help her stay just a little bit more sane. But I can’t do it alone. I’m putting up $50 to start a fund, and Apple’s already agreed to give her a discount. I’d like to ask the nerds of the world to lend a hand – 50 cents, five bucks, ten bucks, anything you can give.

If we go over the limit needed, I’ll just throw in an iTunes store card to fill her up. If we go a lot more, I’m handing it straight over to the family for gas, food or whatever they need. Cancer is EXPENSIVE, and not just the medical treatment.

For convenience’s sake, we’re taking the online donations via Paypal. Send it to paulpogue1@hotmail.com and put “For Patty’s iPad” or something similar in the header.

One other request: If you have a blog or anyplace online where people listen to what you have to say, please repost this and see if anyone else is up for helping. Think of it as an all-nerd alert!

I know it’s asking a lot. But I also know that my family and I wouldn’t have made it through the last two horrible years without the enormous support of everyone around us, and I want to do everything I can to help Patty Rogers get the same help.

Want to know more about her? Check out http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/patriciarogers/. If you have any questions or want more confirmation that this is on the up-and-up, drop me a line at poguesrun@gmail.com and we’ll talk.

Thanks a lot, everyone!

Paul F. P. Pogue
Veteran of the cancer wars

 

UPDATE: She has an iPad now.

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