Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hunger Games Fan Film

A few months ago I checked out "The Hunger Games" at the urging of my wife.  Two Words... "Loved It!"

So now I'm reading the second book.

A day or so ago, I found a little fan film by a local production company "Mainstay Productions."  Let me just say... Bravo!

And if you happen to be associated with Mainstay, and happen to be reading this... I'm a makeup artist, and would like to talk to you... (shameless plug)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

No Nuclear Power in Utah!

In case you didn’t know, I live in Utah. I love this state; its diversity in terrain, wild life, beauty, and natural wonders leave me in awe any time I venture out into the wild parts of the state.

Recently our governor, Gary Herbert, has proposed that a nuclear power plant be built in near Green River, Utah in the south eastern part of the state. At first, I was all for it, but then something started troubling me.

Now, before you start spouting off about how clean and safe nuclear power is, because I know all that. Here’s where I’m troubled… cost and water. Nuclear power is tremendously expensive. This power plant is going to cost the state, what, a couple of Billion dollars? And it won’t be on line for a decade or more? What good is that? Our energy problems are starting to happen now. What will they be like in 2020 when the new reactor is finally, maybe, going to come on line?

And what about water? Water is life in the west, and nuclear power takes a tremendous amount of water, from what I’ve read. Water is needed for the steam that actually turns the turbines, water is needed to cool the steam back into water, and water is needed to regulate the reactor core temperatures so that the whole thing doesn’t go boom. Water! Yes, the reactor will be by the Green River, and “the Green” is a pretty big river, by western standards. But it is but a trickle compared to the mighty rivers they have back east where nuclear power works and is sustainable because of their enormous amounts of water. Those of us who grew up in the mountain west have no idea what a river can be. A few years ago my wife and I went back east to visit the town in New Jersey where she grew up. We landed in Philadelphia, rented a car and then drove over a bridge into New Jersey. While on the bridge, I looked out over this vast expanse of water and asked, ”what bay is this?” Where upon, my wife looked at me as if I were the biggest dolt in the world and answered, “It’s a river, the Deleware.” Oh, my gosh! I thought. In my experience, the mighty Colorado was big water, The Green River, the Snake River, The Weber River, those were big water where you can catch large trout and crossing on foot is impossible. So with that mindset, I never understood why it was such a big deal that Washington took his army across the Delaware. After seeing the incredible size of the Delaware, I finally understood.

So I ask you, again, from where is the water is going to come. The Green is just not big enough to sustain the water needs of a nuclear reactor. Farmers down in the south eastern corner of the state need the Green and the Colorado to water crops, and the towns down there need the water to sustain themselves. This year has been a great water year for the mountain west. Lots of snow fall last winter, and mild temperatures have filled our rivers, lakes, and reservoirs to overflowing. But are we forgetting the years past, when water levels fell so much that parts of Lake Powell could be hiked again? What would the reactor do for water in drought years? Ship it in from… where?

Do I have a better idea for the power needs of the state? Yes, I think I do.

Last June, my family took a trip to Oregon, and on our way, we drove along the Columbia River; also, a very mighty river by any standard. Along the way I noticed wind farms; gigantic wind turbines by the hundreds churning away on the wind that rushes up the gorge from the Pacific Ocean; cheep, clean, plentiful energy. And I thought, why can’t we do that in Utah. The west desert, from Delta in the south to Dugway in the north is one vast plain of nothing but sagebrush, sand, abandoned mine shafts, and wind, lots and lots of wind. There has not been a time in my memory that I have been out there that I have not been beaten raw by blowing dust. For the cost of the proposed Green River Reactor, and half the time, we could build the world’s largest wind farm, spanning thousands of acres, churning away in the desert wind on the state’s western border. Zero emissions, no spent fuel rods to store (or pay someone else to store), and the only water required would be by the workers who maintained the turbines.

I love the idea… but, I’m just one voice. And the “leaders” of the State and the Country, can’t hear a single voice.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Save the Books!

What are we becoming? If you have followed this blog at all, you probably know that I am not a fan of eBooks in any way shape or form, and that I believe that most (Yes, I said most, meaning not everyone, Mei Mei) readers of ebooks are transient literary voyeurs. Well… you can scan into the archives and read my ebook rants. So it is with much dismay that I pronounce the final nail in my coffin for ebook readers.
Booktracks. (
According to their website:

“Booktrack represents a new chapter in the evolution of storytelling, and an industry "first" in publishing, by creating synchronized soundtracks for e-books that dramatically boost the reader's imagination and engagement. The company's proprietary technology combines music, sound effects and ambient sound, automatically paced to an individual's reading speed.”

That, in my never to be humble opinion, is the biggest pile of bull excrement I have ever read… and I’ve read some whoppers in my time.
Let us examine the phrase “boost the reader’s imagination.” Hummmmm… Ya... How? By taking the imagination of the reader away? When I read a book in which the author describes, say, the lapping of the waves against a boat’s hull, I have to access a part of my memory (sometimes referred to as the schema) in which I’ve stored all of the lapping waves sounds, and I use those sounds in my imagination to flesh out the scene. Therefore, the scene that I create in my mind is going to be vastly different than that of any other reader in the world. It’s different, even, than the scene visualized by the author when he (or she) wrote it. THAT, my friends, is using imagination. What Booktracks proposes to do is insert their own soundtrack to books, stunting the imagination of the reader.

Where does it end? Pictures? Video Clips? Isn’t that just TV?

If you have not ever read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury shame on you! Now go out and buy a copy. Don’t borrow it from the library because you’re going to want to write comments in the margins. My copy is so annotated, that I can hardly read it anymore. Anyway, there's a part toward the middle of the book where the Fire Captain, Beatty, is explaining to Guy Montag how they got to where books were outlawed. The funny thing is, what the Captian describes is exactly where we’re headed. Read it and you’ll understand.

I don’t know what can be done about this. I’m concerned for the future. We’re already seeing a degradation of imagination, writing ability, and reading comprehension. I can’t tell you how often I get comments to my blog posts that are written in some kind of “textese,” which most of the time are so unreadable that I can’t post them to the comments area.

Kids don’t read, and so have no idea how to organize thoughts into coherent writing.

Can I blame this all on the nook? Obviously, no I can’t. But television, movies, video games, iPods, smartphones, all those distractions that quite literally suck the intelligence and imagination right out of your head, I can lay a little blame there. And now the distractors are going after books, by making them more interactive they are stealing the ability of readers to read and interpret a book according to their own set of experiences. Soon book clubs around the world will have nothing to discuss, because the book will be presented to them in a neat little package of sounds and colors, where all loose ends and plot twists are explained away rather than left to the reader’s imagination to fill in.

I don’t know about you, but I will continue to buy and collect books. The kind made from paper and ink. The kind that smell wonderful and that have bindings that crackle when opened. The kind that cannot be edited at the push of an unseen button, and the kind that will not have sound effects unsupplied by my mind.
An eBook reader of any kind will never be allowed to cross my threshold, and my home will be joyous in books until the day that the Firemen come to burn it all down.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Costumed Freaks!

In the past few months, I’ve joined a group of… well… self-proclaimed costumed freaks. The Society for Creative Anachronism is an “international organization dedicated to researching and recreating pre-17th century European history” (to quote the web site), but I’ve found it to be much more than that. It’s a group of people with very different interests, faiths, beliefs, skills, ages… we’re not just a bunch of geeks. There are, who I refer to as, the beautiful people mingling with the nerds… and everyone is good with that. Kids learn about what chivalry means, not just through reading about it, but by living it.
I know, were only using the romanticized version of history… true. I mean, my persona would have lived through the Black Death… and that’s ok.
Here’s what I think is neat. My heritage is mostly Celtic. I have ancestors who came from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England. A major weapon in the 13th and 14th centuries was the Welsh Longbow (sometimes called the English Longbow) and so, for some time, I’ve wanted to learn to shoot one. When my daughter expressed an interest in doing the same, I took the opportunity to find a group who could teach us. It just so happened to be the SCA.
Three weeks ago at Baron’s War, I was awarded my Ranger Tassel in Period Long Bow, which basically means that I’ve been able to score an average of 60 and above in a shoot we call the “Royal Rounds.” I’d say not bad for a guy who’s only been shooting since January. I was awarded my rank by His Royal Majesty King Morgan and Her Royal Majesty Queen Esabell of Artemisia, which, I must say… was surreal… in a good way.
I mean… how many people on this planet can say that they have taken a knee before a King and Queen who earned their titles through feats of arms, to be awarded a rank earned through skill and competition? Not many I’d say.
All of this doesn’t stop my younger sister from thinking that we’re “just weird.” Nor does it stop my younger brother from wondering why we can’t use “sites on our bows.” I don’t know, maybe I’m the normal one and everyone else is on the fringes. I can only dream.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rate the Books!

In this world of ours, we put warning labels on everything. Ladders warn you that you might fall off of them, coffee cups warn that the hot coffee contained therein, may just be hot. Toasters warn you that making toast while taking a shower may not be a good idea, movies are given ratings, explicit music is marked as such, and video games carry labels that warn parents that they may not want their 8-year-old hacking away at evil hoards of the decaying undead.
So in this Big Brotherish society that we’ve build around us, why is it that my 11-year-old can walk into any Barnes & Noble and walk out with a copy of Looking for Mr. Goodbar?
Books can be as graphic about Sex as any of those “Special” password protected channels on cable. In fact, I think that a talented author can be even more graphic than any pornographic video because they can tell you what’s going on in the character’s head even as they describe what’s happening to their body!
So I pose the question again… why is there no rating system for books?
Before you start yelling at me, calling me a book burning fascist, or some such, let me make one thing crystal clear. I believe that everyone has the right to write whatever they feel. Any stray idea that goes through their head can be committed to paper and then disseminated to the reading public. I believe thoroughly in the first amendment, but that being said, I have the right to read whatever I wish, and what I don’t want to read is a bunch of profane crap that happens to make it onto the shelves of my local bookstore.
Many a time have I heard that a book was so deep and powerfully written that I rushed out to the book store, picked it up only to be so disgusted by the content that I’ve had to toss it into the trash so that it didn’t soil my bookshelves with its bitter disappointment and reminder of the $24.00 I paid the lazy hack who wrote it.
And to me, that’s what it really comes down to, how lazy was the author when he wrote it? Any no talent hack to write and describe a sex act in lurid detail. It takes a truly talented author to describe the act without telling the reader what went where. Authors who go into detail don’t trust the reader enough to be able to fill in the blanks… so to speak.
The same goes for profanity. I believe in a certain amount of honesty when it comes to characters. I mean, I don’t expect a drug dealer to call a cop a “Flippin’ doodle-wop” before putting a bullet through him. That’s not real, it’s not honest. But why would a 3rd person narrator ever drop the F-Bomb? That’s not real, that’s not honest, and that’s a lazy author who doesn’t think much of his readers.
One of the most brilliant uses of profanity I ever read contained no actual profanity. Not a single word, but it was the filthiest thing any character ever said in any book I’ve ever read. It was in a book by Dashiell Hammett. I can’t quote it right now, because I don’t have access to the book (or even remember which book it was) but it went something like this. “In my life I’ve known of only three truly profane words, and at that moment I used all of them.” Hammett trusted his readers enough to let them fill in the blanks, and since my mind is usually in the gutter, the three words I used could have been used in a Sundance film with no problems.
So what am I getting at? Is there any way that book publishers could put a little sticker with a small warning about explicit language or sexual content on the back cover by the UPC? I know that this wouldn’t be a fix all. But when standing among the books, debating on which author is going to get my $20.00, I’d really like to know that one of them at least has the possibility of being read by me over one that may have some questionable content and just end up in the trash.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor

One of the last of Hollywood’s golden age has died.
A fine actress and a true beauty. She will be missed.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Vader Commercial

I don't watch the Super Bowl for the football... after all, I am a geek.
That being said, Here is the best commercial of 2011

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