Friday, October 30, 2015

A good story can come from anywhere...

Ramblings Post #302
Sometimes you just find a good story. You sit down and read the first paragraph and you have a few minutes so you keep going. And then you get interested - in a particular character, or a setup and suddenly you find that thirty minutes have passed. But you have to know what happens, so you keep reading. It isn't your normal subject matter, or your normal style, but you keep going. That is good writing. And I just found it on twitter of all places Who would have thunk it? 

I read Zola's story without the intention of actually reading it. I stumbled across it on Reddit, where someone had nicely linked the entire thing, and intended to read a few lines to see what it was all about. I mean, the lead-in was interesting, how did she fall out with the other girl? I don't usually go for things like this, on it's face it seemed almost flimsy, like it it would be over in a few lines. I like to believe I'm a more sophisticated reader, but maybe 50 tweets later as the girls set up shop to start trapping after the club didn't pan out and Zola schooled Jess on "valuation", I was hooked, even at a 140 characters per chapter.

As you know by now the story had everything - plot twists, character development, sex, violence, a very film noir feel and as one twitter follower noted, even passed the Bechdel test. I could see the characters even though she didn't really have space to describe them. It was funny, tragic, parts were a little disturbing and at times it was just flat out amazing. I can't say if the whole thing was true, and even if it wasn't, it was still a very good story.

I can only hope that the stories I put together are this good, and I intended to stick to a basic structure, not just pour it onto the soil like this. It is in reality a little intimidating. It's like trying to compose a song for weeks then hearing that someone made up a hit while eating his breakfast cereal. You wonder a little about effort. You wonder. But you keep writing.

One hopes that Zola's story will be a movie soon. Twitter is already picking out cast members. I see Keith David as the first old guy, at the restaurant when they meet. It's just a feeling I get.

Barkeep. A nice bottle of Merlot. And some pickled eggs.        

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Crossing the Uncanny Valley

Ramblings Post #301
Technology is both a wonderful and cruel thing. It can ruin industries by making them obsolete, and turn others in almost comedic gold rushes. And what we'll come to realize in time is that constantly moving forward isn't always the best plan, if only because we're human and we need a bit of structure to hang our lives on. Until then I'm going to suggest that society strap itself in real tight, because it's gonna start going real fast for a minute. Don't forget your goggles.  

We will reach a point when we finally cross the Uncanny Valley. Then Hollywood will need to be very, very afraid.

When I was kid I used to read a comic called American Flagg. Well, to be honest comic was the wrong word, because it was the first book I read where the villains had motivations other than your comic basics, i.e., world domination, petty revenge or the next big score. It was the book that introduced me to political heroes that weren't so much heroes, more like people just trying to make sure they can get a decent breakfast the next morning. But why this is relevant is that the main character was a guy called Reuben Flagg, a former television star who had been replaced because they could computer generate his image so convincingly that nobody noticed. That day is fast approaching. There is a shot at the end of Iron Man 3 where RDJ wasn't available, so they digitally created a Tony Stark and added him in. Not Iron Man, Tony Stark, the human person. And we didn't even notice.

Fifteen years from now, the we'll be able to regularly digitally create actors and put them in anything we want. Actors will have their images leased for whole films or a television series, not just how you see past stars sometimes in commercials now, artistically re-cut to fit the limited available motion. Desperate actors may even sell their avatars outright. The enterprising estates of some 50's and 60's actors means we may even get to see Cary Grant and Scarlett Johansson in a new romantic comedy. And then someone, probably in a garage somewhere in Oklahoma will figure out how to do it for cheap with stolen profile information.

And, then we'll get these... bootleg remakes of films not intended to be remade. And I'm willing to bet that some them, with fan perceived plot holes fixed and filled with fantasy casts will be traded around baseball card style on private networks and at the various Cons. One or two might even be converted into actual films, the rough edges smoothed out and the sound fixed because Hollywood has a way of taking good ideas that start other places and capitalizing on them.

This future is so golden, I almost can't wait.

(Note: I didn't make any of these images, but they inspired this post. The idea of a couple of these, just like wow!) 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Bar Chatter

Bar Chatter #33
Sometimes it's not enough for a it's just bar chatter.  
Sometimes you just need to get away....

I should have been a police investigator.

I say such an odd statement because apparently I have that face, that kind that says you can talk to me, I'm listening, interested and concerned. It's great when I'm actually trying to learn someone but then, out of nowhere people I don't even know tell me all kinds of things. I mean stuff that I wouldn't think you talk about casually, sometimes not even in the dark in impolite company, much less to a middle aged black dude you'd met three minutes prior. Oh, the things I've heard.

I believe I have mentioned this phenomena before, but since I've been hibernating the past few years I hadn't noticed it lately. Well I noticed again, and it is...well, I don't want to say aggravating, but it is troublesome. Because I'm polite, and I know that everyone is fighting their own battle, I try to take the time to let them spill. For some I think it even helps, just the talking. But I keep wondering when someone is going to impart unto me something people take to their grave as though they were sharing who won the game. That's when this thing I do is gonna get me trouble. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

It is what it is....

Ramblings Post #300
The important part of the journey, is that you start. You might not ever end up where you intended, but you have to start. So much of history has been lost, because we've hesitated, we've waited, we've failed to just start the journey. It need to be a grand dramatic gesture, but the effort needs to be made, the momentum begun. Start the journey. You can always change the destination.

I've been busy for the past few weeks. I'm a Document Review/Project Attorney for now, a sort of new age cowboy moving around as needed handling projects and breaking hearts, then riding off into the sunset. Okay, not really, no heart breaking, but I have seen more than a few sunsets and I am getting this new career moving, even if I'm fairly certain this isn't the short line to arguing before the Supreme Court. But as opposed to my previous gig which boiled down to constant emergency management, this is almost serene. The phones don't ring and nothing is an emergency, instead a slow and steady grind towards a set goal. They brief you, sometimes an hour or sometimes fifteen minutes, then turn you loose with the stuff. It can get intense at times, and the clients make adjustments when they figure out stuff from the data we discover, but all in all it's a very good atmosphere.

Time consuming though.

Slowing down my writing and other projects. But then it is coming. And by "it", I mean the future. I'm meeting other lawyers and hopefully building a few ties that lead to important introductions later. You never know who knows who in Atlanta. In the interim, I am reading cases, learning about aspects of the law I didn't know about and just generally getting back into the swing of things after a virtual hibernation. Well, probably not really virtual, but you get the gist. And because this job is project based, I get breaks where I can pursue other things or just handle side business. I feel so good about this, I mean the good vibes even made the check engine light turn off in my car. (Still getting it checked though.)

I'm having to get used to the idea of not knowing where the road goes exactly.  True cowboy living so to speak.

Have I given up on my dreams? Not a chance. Serious Men adapt, they disassemble and reconstitute with new tools to tackle old problems.

And I am a Serious Man

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Ben Carson is ...Action Carson

This is a Political Post

Special Note: It took me a couple of days to construct this and get it how I wanted, and in that time it seems to have become either completely irrelevant in light of the other incidents, OR a much needed  indictment of the kind of thinking that says that if one hole is letting water into the sinking ship, the smart thing to do is to open a second hole to let the water out. You decide.  

I'm more than a little amazed that a man that looks so awkward in front of the camera and sounds to very far off center in his leanings is not only running for President, but one of the early front runners. Carson looks like, maybe he's having trouble with his contacts? Or had a few at lunch and is a little tipsy, but hiding it well? That English isn't his first language three days a week? I'm not sure what he looks like, but I know he doesn't look at all comfortable in any of the interviews. That may just be a Republican thing, as I understand the conservative definition of question is "opportunity to give my wholly unconnected viewpoint unchallenged." I mean sure Trump sounds crazy, but it's a confident crazy.

But his comments on the Oregon shooting are mystifying. I'm not even going to go into the arming of the Jewish people would have reduced the effect of the Holocaust and stick with the modern day concept. He seems to be both living the Action Hero dream of most conservatives while carefully stopping the discussion right before the ill effects of anything he's proposed might occur. Someone please tell them that the credits aren't going to roll anytime soon, and we have to deal with the effects of the situations we create. They will not be glossed over by the time we get to a sequel.

But of his proposed actions, I'm confused, and I like to think both my regular readers would know that. Could someone get Mr. Carson to walk us through his "bum rush the show" solution? Because the logistics baffle me.

You have a room, classroom, and let's say twenty students. The person enters armed at the front, away from everyone, because that's how classrooms are setup, brandishing his weapon. Let's say there is ten feet between the armed person and the students. Carson suggests that he would have said something along the lines of, "Let's get him, he can't shoot us all." So... does Carson go first, hoping that the crowd follows him?  Does he wait to see if anyone else moves? And for those few seconds of indecision, is the man with the gun...checking his twitter feed? It's not like he's loading a musket waiting for the crowd to reach a decision, he was using an automatic, and I'm guessing the guy is already pretty amped up.

Now I've already seen this scene in a movie, and it went about as expected. The cowboy pulls out a two shot derringer on a group of four men who appropriately reach for it. Then the bold one at the front realizes that the cowboy can't shoot them all and pretty much tells them to do what Carson suggests. The cowboy asks the question, "Which ones of you are going to get shot so the others can get me?" As you may have guessed, the cowboy walked out of the room untouched.

Getting shot on purpose is asking a lot. We don't even ASK trained soldiers to do that.

My personal opinion is that Carson's movie hero line would have gone, "Let's get him, he can't.." Gunshot.

And on the way to the Presidency, these are the easy questions.  

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Bar Chatter

Bar Chatter #32
Sometimes it ain't enough to equal a whole post, but still needs to be said.... it's bar chatter. 

Fraiser Crane's Apartment by Nikneuk on Deviant Art.
I fondly remember my first apartment in Atlanta. It was across from a Harry's in a Hurry, Domino's, a Pharmacy, a Steak house and an Ice Cream Parlor, while being  sandwiched between The Landmark Diner and Johnny's Hideaway with a double bonus Waffle House a two minute stroll away. My future real estate agent claimed I had "Convenient-its" for some reason? Weird, right? But one of the best hidden features about that spot was that it was on the top of a four stack. In the winter months, I didn't even have to turn on the heat, as all my vertically diminished neighbors insistence on not freezing kept my place toasty warm. I say this now as I look for my in-house winter clothes. Too cheap to turn on the heat (or too broke, take your pick) in the winter I have a comfy old green fleece pullover and grey sweat pants. And two fleece throws. And I'm thinking about getting a blanket. Man I miss that apartment.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Reading is fundamental. Pictures are a bonus.

Ramblings Post #299
I had a great comic book collection. I have the remnants of one now. It is my understanding that after I went away to college, that when my younger brother needed money, he would sell MY comics to one of the neighbors, because that's how life works. Now, decades later, yes, I could probably have paid off a student loan or a mortgage with my early foraging, but that just puts me right along with the other million former collectors foiled by fate. Or family.

It just looks Comic Booky! (Note this is a Tuesday, the day BEFORE new comic book day)
I made my first trip to the comic book store in, oh my god, has it been years? I can't remember the last time I walked into the my usual spot, the venerable and always interesting Oxford Comics on Piedmont. Packed to the gills with variations on a theme, it includes not only books but board games, figurines, T-shirts, cards, DVDs and just all kinds of comic stuff. On a good day it is quiet like a library, as people speak in hush tones as they peruse the art and evaluate the offered story lines of this month's issues. At it's worst it's kids yelling, bored girlfriends and people who don't understand the concept of "inside voices."

But I loves it. 

Even though a number of people might disdain comic books, they are still reading. It takes a very good artist to be able to tell a story without words. It would be like shooting a modern silent film. When I was younger, um, no, when I was younger than I am now, but old enough to understand how the world worked I created my own comic, using anthropomorphic characters based on team mascots, but with a story line more akin to modern day spy movies. I allowed me to delve into something I still enjoy - World Building - but I soon suffered

But I digress. Comic book store. NEW COMICS!!!

Well, actually no, it was Tuesday and new comic day is Wednesday, so, NEW TO ME COMICS!!! Which was awkward as I leafed through a Spiderman comic, where when I left off he trapped in Doc Ock's body and dying...and now he's married to MJ again with a almost teenage daughter on BattleWorld....that new Marvel sweeping I didn't get a new Spidey. And Deadpool looks like a swashbuckling pirate? And, um, I realize we're trying to diversify our heroes, but let's try inventing some new ones and not just swapping out the ones we have, kicking existing fans in the teeth and all that. I'm looking at you Hulk. And Chew, which has some eye catching art and a really weird story would have required god knows how many back issues to catch up. Where is the trade paperback?

I ended up grabbing a few titles, including the almost always oddly topical and completely fathomable Groo, which I haven't read in ages. I'm not in a position yet to return to my old habit of a twice monthly run through, but it is one of my goals. Although I read all day at my gig, I still come home a read, and write, until my eyes can't stay open. Through it all, for as long as I've been in Atlanta, Oxford has been there. Chock full of words.

Hold one of those front parking spaces open for me!

Barkeep. A bowl of cereal...don't look at me like that.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Welcome to South Carolina! Lets get Wet!

Ramblings Post #298
You don't think about some things just because they've always been there, and so you expect that they always will be. But then things happen, like a freak rainstorm that just keeps it coming and you're suddenly an amateur meteorologist. Or if you live on the West Coast, brush fire expert. It just happens.  

I'm from South Carolina, born and raised. It is my home state from the empty back-roads that just seem to the lead to other empty back-roads all the way to the sleepy metropolitan-ish kinda parts of the state that stay open until 'pertinear 10:30! (excepting Waffle Houses and Juke joints). And all of it is about to become beachfront property. 

I kid. 

I called the folks to check on them Sunday, and they are fine. I just recently realized that my parents live near the top of a long sloping hill, partially because the actual road they live on isn't very long and partially because you just don't think about it, it's just where the house has always been. A very, very deep and very wide lake would have be created for them to be in any danger. My grandfather lives a few miles from an actual lake, but I was told that he was good, and my aunts closer to the coast were good too. At least I think they're good, because according to my Mom their only concern seemed to be missing Sunday service. 

It is moments like this where we're isolated from our neighbors, well state neighbors, because in Atlanta people were tailgating for the Falcons game.  Not to say that they're insensitive, but isn't happening halfway around the world, this is two hours down I-20. This is a day trip. Note that I make these comments while I sprawled on my couch upset that that the NFL's Injury Fairy has apparently bought a house in Dallas. At least I thought about it though. One of my co-workers said she honestly had no idea of what was going on just one state over.  

But with the news that the family is safe,  and relatively dry, my thoughts turn to things political. It's the politican season, what can you do? Anyway, moments like this make you wonder, considering the number of roads washed out and bridges closed over safety concerns if...and it's a big IF I know, if something like this will get the Terrorist treatment and spur the a great upswing in government infrastructure projects. The kind of thing that has a tendency to build a hard days work for fair days pay kind of pride in America while proving to a lot of people who failed civics that the government CAN create jobs. Plus a job building a bridge in SC is hard to outsource. I am well aware that a return to the massive job creation of the building of a interstate highway is probably out of the question, but this is an opportunity to pump a little juice into the local economies. 

A Republican state too? This has all the hallmarks of something that will set you apart from the field. Let's see who will jump on this one, or am I being too optimistic?  

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Dean Sybil C Mobley, on to teach the next lesson.

Sybil C. Mobley. My Dean.

My Dean died

I say my Dean, because she was the Dean of my undergraduate program, and someone who I think should be in a history book, because she sat on corporate boards in the 70's and 80's when being a woman meant you usually didn't get a seat, so that she figured out how to make it work as a black woman is nothing short of astounding. And then she built a business school at an HBCU for, as she called us upon entry, the "Fortunate 400".

It was a business school where you wore suits three days a week, practiced speech and how to think on your feet, learned research and how to connect the dots, then ran mock businesses with real people and consequences so you could see how real businesses worked. It came with a rapid fire education, one that had us on topics some places don't even cover, much less expect them to be tackled by freshmen, and internships at some of the best companies in the world. It was a place where the best were supposed to graduate from and go onto a big thing.

I'm quite frankly surprised she let me graduate. Don't get me wrong, I did ascend to the very top of the "Corporate IQ program," but I was a campus personality and perhaps not the most diligent of students. For a long time, although I was very capable of doing those things that were asked of me (and maybe a bit more), I thought I didn't fit the mold, that I wasn't the very essence of what they were trying to achieve. Now, decades removed, I wish I can say the idea has changed. But not really.

She had a very big dream that I was but a small part of. But I still hope to serve her memory well.