Saturday, June 24, 2006

SF Novel - Possible Opening Chapter

"Hey Dad," Johnathon said, "My astrophysics class is taking a trip to the space elevator in the Spring. There's 2 weeks at sea studying marine biology and astronomy on the way to and from the base station, and we get to spend a whole day and night at Smitherman Station. You can see the curvature of Earth from up there! Can I go? Please please please?"

Edward Staunton smiled bemusedly at his son from a leather armchair. He was re-reading a classic work of fantasy from the late 20th century entitled "The Wheel of Time". "Have you asked your mother yet?"

Johnathon replied "She said it was fine if you were willing to foot the bill..." and trailed off.

Edward smirked. "Unbelievable. You kids these days, you have no idea how lucky you have it. I was around for the release of Firefox 1.0, you know. That was in the old days, before the MeshNet. You kids can't even imagine the government telling you how to run your network. I prayed for the day I might see the Space Elevator turned into a reality, and now you kids are taking a field trip there! In High School!! I shed tears when the first one launched, you know. It's like Disney World to you!" Watching the pleading look on his son's face, Edward relented. "Oh all right then, how much is this going to cost me?"

"Only... $2000.00..." Johnathon said in a small voice.

Edward let him sweat it out for a minute, then said "John, I couldn't possibly let you miss this opportunity. Of course you can go. But you're contributing 200 hours of this summer vacation to a community software project, in exchange. Got it?"

"Thanks Dad!" Johnathon exclaimed. "I was going to build some new teleport effects for Google Matrix, does that count?"

"Only if you don't charge teleport owners for the upgrade," Edward said, and watched his son dash up to his room with an affectionate grin.

ATTN: J-Bent

GAINAX released Gunbuster 2 in 2003 as a 20th Anniversary gift to fans. They spent lavish amounts of money on the animation quality and writing talent. If you haven't seen it yet, the first couple of fansub-torrents are available. The last 15 seconds of the first episode made me laugh my ass off, out loud, for a whole minute.

The Move, Part I





Friday, June 23, 2006

Aaron Sorkin, Eat Your Heart Out

I had an idea for a play in 2 acts, but I got stuck after writing two lines of dialogue. It’s kind of a mess, but anyway:

Setting: Brighton, Colorado

Owned & Operated by the United States Military Command

Background: In 2017, the Secretary of Defense initiated a secret project code named “Project Eureka.” A very small town was built at fantastic expense in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies. It was populated with actors, arranged into “Families”. Each “family” was given one baby. And each baby was a genetic clone of a 20th century genius. The children were all home- schooled and analyzed at all times by psychiatrists. These mental health guardians watched 24/7 feeds of all the children, both to ensure all the clones remained happy and well adjusted, and to custom tailor a broad, deep education for each child, with a mild focus on their previous fields of genius. However each child was allowed to learn anything they chose; an interesting character trait of Al’s is that he is very good at math, this time around. Today is the first day of high school, and all 30 clones are arriving at Brighton Public High School. There are roughly 100 other students (actors) playing the sophomores, juniors, and seniors, and other actors play the roles of teachers and assistance staff. This is the first time any clone has met another clone. They’ve had friends and school, but until now there has been nothing real or genuine in their lives.

The Pentagon’s motivations, as well as their ultimate ambitions, are intentionally left vague so that the actors may apply their own creations.

General outline – the government underestimates the clones, believing that 14 years of conditioning should force them to believe their lives. They have a specially trained agent, Ms. Macintosh, acting as the home room teacher. The truth is that by now, almost every clone has noticed their parents saying things oddly or falsely, recognized that something very strange was going on, and decided to play along until they understand what’s happening. A few of them have even realized that nothing in their life is real. This is what makes Mary (a clone of Marie Curie) so antagonistic towards all of her classmates throughout the play. She believes them to be “just a better lie”, designed to placate her – even as the other clones begin to decipher their surroundings, she refuses to be sucked in. Tom, who is a clone of Thomas Edison, hasn’t figured anything out yet. And Albert (Einstein’s clone) figured everything out at age 3 and decided to love his family and live his life anyway. Albert’s parents have grown distant lately; he is pondering this as he meets Tom.

The first scene is just Tom and Al, in the classroom, meeting early in the morning and getting to know each other.

Scene 2 is two months later. Al, Tom, and Marie are taking atomic chemistry together with Ms. Macintosh. Al and Tom discuss how the freshman class is different from all the other people in their lives – Al gently guides Tom towards the truth. Marie makes sarcastic commentary under her breath – “just “figuring” that out now, eh? You two should have your pay grade cut down to E-1.”

Act 2 has 3 scenes –

1 – Ms. Macintosh reports to her superiors that she suspects the clones are wise.

2 – Marie realizes the truth about Albert and Tom, and has a breakdown.

3 – I Do Not Have An Ending

(half an hour before class begins.)

As the scene opens, Tom is clearly snoozing on his desk. Another boy, Albert enters after 10 seconds. The door awakens Tom, who glances up at Albert.

Albert : "Hi, I'm Al."

This is how I imagined this stage direction:

Tom stares blankly, and Al, confused, sits down in the next row.

Then I thought, "What if I let the actors decide what happens here?" and wrote this:

Albert sits down.

Then I wondered if I was being a pussy about writing that much detail into stage notes (as if I were a director) and got confused. I’m also not sure if I should start this without an ending in mind. I’ve tried to design the characters first and the scenes second, but I don’t know these people well enough yet to know how this is going to end. I am toying with the idea of changing scene II-1 so that the ending can be Ms. Macintosh loving them in spite of herself and revealing all. If I don't reveal it to the audience that might do. But I don't want to add a 5th character. I want 2 guys and 2 girls. What do you think?

P.S. Obviously this was inspired by clone high. Is it too much of a ripoff? Or can I definitely claim this is original work? The idea for the play is mainly a character-driven black comedy. I feel like clone high is more of a satire.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Good Friday

I had a really great day at work today. I decided to go nuts and turn the project I was working on into a full-blown experiment. I wrote several cool widgets for this application, using AJAX - Asynchronous Javascript And Xml. It's a new approach to client-side UI, and I got it to do some really cool things.

The idea behind it is that on many modern web pages, the entire page has to refresh in order to get new data onto the screen. With AJAX, only a teeny tiny bit of data is called directly from the web browser, so the results are very fast and much smoother. Google Maps uses AJAX heavily, as an example of what can be done with this technology.

Anyway, just trying to get back in the habit. This post was more for me than you lot...

Monday, June 12, 2006

Clone High

Principal Cinnamon J. Scudworth, Ph.D: "How can I get close to the students?"

Mr. Lynn Butlertron: "I try to listen with compassion, instead of killing them."

Thanks to Jeremy Bent, or as edub calls him, "The Bringer Of All Good Things".


One of my co-workers, a guy named Brian, has two pet clownfish. They are named Percoset and Percodan. :)

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Still Alive

I will be getting back in the habit of posting here fairly soon. I have about 8 pages of notes I've been making and a lot of that is coming here. However instead of adding to the pile, I think I'll post this thought I had directly, in hopes of momentum (as it were).

If you've ever seen a sports anime, then you have a pretty good idea of what Eyeshield 21 is all about. It introduces the hero, a young man entering junior high, who has been bullied his whole life and therefore learned how to run very fast and dodge enemies. Naturally, he immediately becomes the star running back on the school's American Football team. They then progress through a series of ever-more challenging opponents until the dramatic finale at the national finals.

The reason I came to post was that something happens in a later episode: the team travels to America for a friendly match with an American team who is hosting them, and as soon as they step out of the airport, a thief snatches somebody's purse and runs off - and a lady cop _shoots_ him. The team runs away, muttering "America is too scary!".

Apparently in Japan they think American cops are gunslingers. This anime is unintentionally hilarious in its prejudices about America - it's interesting to see how we are viewed internationally.


Later on, the hero has to run across the city to the beach to find an obstetrician who is on vacation, and who is also (again, apparently) the only person in Houston, Texas who can deliver his friend's wife's baby. Tres drole.


Next episode, they play the Houston Sexy Queens at the Beachfront Football Tournament.