Sunday, May 27, 2012

Matt Smith carries the Olympic torch

A few years ago, David Tennant's Doctor landed in London 2012 and carried the Olympic torch. On Saturday, his successor in the TARDIS did it for real. What an amazing experience that must be for all the torch bearers. Sooooo jealous.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Back in the saddle

The past few weeks have been difficult. It had something to do with this. OK, it had everything to do with that. I haven't had the desire to write, as all my thoughts have been consumed with worry over my career and how I was going to support my family, though I did struggle through finishing one flash piece. Now that my work situation has smoothed out a bit (although not entirely), I find that my thoughts are turning away from panic and back to writing. I started a new story yesterday and have written about 1,000 words so far. It's such a relief to find myself excited about sorting through plot points, themes and dialogue. I feel like the story is really clicking, and I have hopes that it will be one of those rare gems in which everything just works. If you're a writer, you know what I mean.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Doctor Who minisode

Yesterday, a minisode of the Doctor and Amy at the Olympics was released online. It's part of a scriptwriting competition for kids and aired on a kids show in the UK. It's cute and silly and I don't understand how could a weeping angel run through a stadium full of people. But it's a better writing effort than I could have done when I was young. So, congrats to the winning writers. Also, Matt Smith really will run with the Olympic torch this weekend. If I find any photos, I will post one here.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Ring of Fire

Today is the first time in about 20 years that Denver will get a partial solar eclipse. The moon will cover 80 percent of the sun. The last time we had a solar eclipse here, I was in high school. My science teacher set up a telescope with a special lens in the senior courtyard. When I wasn't in class, I was out there watching the eclipse. It was fascinating and beautiful. At its peak, I thought the sunlight might dim, so it would feel more like early twilight. It didn't, but the temperature dropped.

I'll be working this evening, so I can't watch. But I have bugged my husband into helping our kids make a pinpoint viewer out of a shoe box. Another 20 years might pass before we get another event like this, and I don't want them to miss it.

Here's a nice graphic that shows the path of the eclipse.

And here's how to make your own pinpoint viewer.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Avengers

My hubby and I took the whole family to see The Avengers today. My kids are 5, 8 and 16, and they all loved it, although the sound system was too much for my youngest, who spent most of the movie with her fingers in her ears. There are plenty of reviews out there, so I'm going to take a different tact on talking about this movie and play "How do you know you're watching a Joss Whedon production?" If you haven't seen The Avengers -- or any of Joss Whedon's various television shows or movies -- and you don't want to be spoiled, stop now.

I'll say it again: HUGE SPOILERS AHEAD.

OK, you've been warned.

1. The script
Watch enough stuff written by Mr. Whedon and you start to catch onto the snappy back-and-forth between the characters and the action-oriented bait-and-switch. Thor is lecturing his brother Loki when out of nowhere, Iron Man swoops down to carry off Thor, and Loki snarks at the empty air. Captain America gives orders to his team amid an alien invasion; he finally gets to Hulk and says, "Hulk ... smash." Loki lectures Hulk about how high and mighty he is compared with puny humans, and Hulk slams him around the room like a rag doll a few times and leaves him whimpering in the floor. (Yes, in the floor, not on it.) All this is vintage Whedon.

2. Someone important dies
Tara ... Wash ... Wesley ... Anya ... Penny ... Ballard ... and now Agent Colson. Someone will die going into the big finale. Watch enough Joss Whedon shows, and you know it's coming. The reasons are myriad, but in this case, it's to make the heroes realize they need to stop fighting one another and go kill some bad guys.

3. There's a giant pit where a town/military complex used to be
Remember what happened to Sunnydale in the series finale? Yeah, there wasn't much left but a giant crater. Watch the opening sequence of "The Avengers," and you're going to experience some serious deja vu.

4. There's a big, bad portal that needs closing
In "The Gift," a goddess' henchman opens a portal to a hell dimension and lots of nightmarish creatures come pouring out until Buffy closes it with her own blood, sacrificing her life in the process. In "The Avengers," a god's henchman opens a portal into outer space and lots of aliens and flying fish things come pouring out. No one dies closing it, but Tony Stark comes close.

5. Cameos!
Alexis Denisof and Enver Gjokaj both make appearances.

And in an aside, the introduction of Black Widow has a lot in common with the introduction of Sydney Bristow on "Alias." A beautiful red-haired woman dressed in black is tied to a chair while someone threatens to pull out her teeth. Maybe Joss and J.J. are comparing notes.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Movie review: Contagion

The last movie I watched was about an astronomical disaster wiping out humanity. This time, it was a biological disaster almost wiping out humanity. My next movie is going to be a dumb comedy, I swear.

Two points in particular struck me about "Contagion":

First, if a previously unknown, fast-moving virus broke out and killed millions of people worldwide, this is what I imagine would happen, on the scientific, governmental and societal levels. This movie feels real. At no point was my disbelief not suspended. The plot follows several characters: scientists who try to trace the virus to its source, find a vaccine and contain the outbreak; a widower who's determined to keep his teenage daughter alive while society breaks down into chaos; an immoral blogger who uses the people's fear to gain fame and profit.

Second is the all-star cast. I was counting the number of Oscar winners and nominees on the screen: Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Matt Damon, John Hawkes, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard. Holy cow. How did Steven Soderberg manage that? Probably by virtue of being Steven Soderberg. Not all of them survive to the end. One character dies horribly in the first 10 minutes. But when the film is called "Contagion," there needs to be a Patient Zero, right?

Possibly my favorite part comes at the end, after all is said and done. We go back to Day 1 and find out exactly how the virus started. Its origins are so mundane that they're scary, and I'll probably think twice the next time I'm about to dig into a plate of pork.

Friday, May 4, 2012

April stats, a few days late

Life has thrown a few curve balls -- or maybe heat-seeking missiles -- at me in the past week or so, which is why I'm late in posting my stats for last month. They're not good. I attribute that to two factors: burnout at the start of the month and life issues at the end of the month. That left me with about two weeks in the middle of April when I was writing and everything was good.

Words of fiction written: About 3,500 -- well below my goal of 5,000.
Stories started: 1
Stories finished: 1
New submissions: 1 (That is awful. I've been waiting for a couple of specific markets to reopen that promised to do so in mid-April or the start of May, but so far they have not.)
Stories out on submission: 4 (Two stories are currently not out on submission because I'm waiting for two markets -- mentioned above -- to reopen. I also have a flash that is almost ready to send out but is in need of some revision first.)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Sale! to Daily Science Fiction

It's been a long time since I got to announce an acceptance, so I'm happy this morning to share the news that Daily Science Fiction will publish my flash story "30 Pounds of Human Tissue." No word yet on when the story will see print (or in DSF's case, when it will land in e-mail boxes). I've been a subscriber to DSF for more than two years and am impressed by the consistent quality of work the editors publish. I'm psyched to be part of it.