Category Archives: life

general posts about my life

Just a Few Words

I had thought that I might speak a little on the election, now that a week has gone by but I find the subject too painful. The election of our first carnival barker president – and that’s gravely close to insulting carnival barkers – is a low point for the Republic. However I also believe that the Republic will survive and that the long arc of history still bends towards justice, even if we have to fight backsliding from time to time.

It will be okay, but only if we fight to make it okay.

So there a few words on the election’s outcome. I wish I had more to say but today has been a rather difficult day.

I awoke at 2;30 am, my sinuses over-pressurized and a migraine exploding behind my eye. The slight motion of the head set of waves of agony and needless to say I did not go to work.

I am feeling somewhat better. The migraine and sinus meds are doing their thing and I believe I will return to work tomorrow.

So there you have it. I have nothing much to say, I remain slightly depressed only now I have added pain to the experience.

 

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Veterans’ Day’s Thoughts

Today is Veterans’ Day, originally Armistice Day to celebrate the end of The Great War, World War I, the war that to tis day still greatly shapes out world. First let me salute those men and women who have served and are serving in our nation’s armed forces. Even in peacetime it is a tough job and our states of constant war makes it even more so.

Some of you may know that I briefly served in the United States Navy; from 1979 until early 1982. If you know anything about naval enlistments you’ll see that my term of service is odd.

I was not a good sailor. I had not yet achieved a level of responsibility that would allow me to succeed in the military. Like I have already said it is a tough job, even during a period of peace and quiet, and I was not at all ready for that. So in early 1982 the Navy instituted ‘Operation Upgrade’ to allow less that stellar sailor to leave before the end of enlistment and that offer was extended to me.

I do not regret my service. I made good friends, I saw a chunk of the world, and I got a first hand look at people, both my fellow sailors and civilians around the world, that opened my eyes of the incredible diversity of the human race.

The novel that landed an offer of representation in y email box is a military SF adventure and certainly my military background, however scant it is, informed that piece. I have a lot more military SF to write. I have friends that did the full twenty years and achieved retirement and though it was a career path that did not work out for me, I have the utmost respect for those who solider on and carry the weight I could not.

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L.A. Trip and 3-D Dawn Of The Dead

Saturday a friend and I made the couple of hour drive from San Diego to Hollywood to fulfill a bit of seasonal entertainment. Using some discount combo passes I got through my day job we planned to do Universal Studios in the afternoon then stay for their ‘Halloween Horror Nights‘ before taking off for the Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Blvd and the World Premier of the 3-D version of 1978’s Dawn of the Dead.

For the most part the trip went as planned. The drive to Universal wasn’t too bad, moderate traffic, but a lot more than what I normally run into when I did the same thing on early Sunday mornings. Our Combo passes allowed entry into the theme parks after 2 pm so there was a lot of time but we of course visited the new attraction, a scarehouse inspired by the AMC program The Walking Dead. We got in a few rides and then it was time for dinner.

After a brief meal we re-entered the park for the Halloween Horror Nights. Here the park has set up themed mazes, more scarehouse really, and themed area with some fo their attractions still running. Because we had a movie to get to at 10 o’clock we knew we’d be fighting time and opted as our first maze the one with the shortest posted wait time – Freddy vs Jason.

Okay it may have had the shortest posted wait time, but it was beyond the park itself at the far end of the backlot. The hike to reach was long, but I did get to see sections of the lot I had never seen before. The maze itself was fun, with clever practical effects.

After that we returned to the upper lot of the theme parks – another long hike – and selected as our final maze Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Blood Brothers. This was a longer line and after the maze we departed straight for the Egyptian.

We arrived and discovered a line that stretched form the box office, through the theaters courtyard, down the sidewalk and around the corner. I had purchased our tickets on line we there was little fear of being locked out due to a sold out performance.

The show time was 10 pm but we weren’t even inside and the appoint hour came and left. We did eventually get in and I turned away from the crowd leading us up to the balcony. The Egyptian is an old school movie palace, huge and lovely. We had pretty decent seats and after getting our snacks settled in for the blood and mayhem.

Before the show there was a short talk by the film’s producers who over saw the 3-D retro-scan, making that start time even later. In the end I didn’t care.

The film looked gorgeous. The image was sharp and bright, the 3-D effect better than many films shot and released in the 3-D today. There were times when I thought to myself ‘This is like looking through a window, not at a screen.’ I was very nice seeing the film in a theater. I own it on blu-ray and consider it to be Romero’s best Zombie movie, but I had never seen it in a proper theater. During the 1979 run I did see the film – at a Drive-in theater with spotty sound, a washed out picture, and while sitting on a bicycle. (I owned no car in high school.) So this was a real treat and worth not getting home until 3 o’clock in the morning. If you like this movie, or bloody gory zombies films, and this plays in your area, see it.

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A General Update

 

So life has been – interesting of late and it has kept me away from my blog.

The principle issue is that ‘minor’ sprain I suffered at World Con in Kansas City. Well I had it x-rayed and while there are no broken bones the doctor pronounced it a serious sprain. I am wearing a brace on my dominant hand and that makes everything a challenge. I can type – poorly and slowly – so I am not out of work at my day job. I am working on my novel — nearly finished — but beyond those items I have little endurance at the keyboard.

However the convention was wonderful. There were events every hour and often more then one that I wanted to attend. I met old friends and new ones. I had a great time and came away from new idea and new energy.

Soon, next week, I will loose the brace and get back to my usual self.

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Paramount Studio Tour

Here is a brief and very top level account of my 4 1/2 hours tour of Paramount Studios this past Thursday.

First off I arrived at the studio a full 30 minutes before I had expected and spent a little time decompressing and drinking an English breakfast tea. Then it was off to the studio.


IMG_0988I checked in, got my badge, and was informed that in all likelihood I’d be hearing my name a lot during the day. (Robert Evans is a producer at Paramount and was involved in some of their most famous films.) People waited for the tour in a staging area with items from films and Oscars on displays. Soon my tour guide arrive, Aaron, collected the three other people in our group and we were off. (My V.I.P. tour was just 4 people which made for a vey nice and conversation experience.)IMG_0978

We drove around the lot and Aaron was very well informed and knew his job quite well. We IMG_0988visited the historic Bronson gate where people used to arrive in hope of scoring jobs as extra and bit players. Charles Bronson was discovered there and took his name from the street. (The street is no longer there as the Studio has expanded since then.)

We drove past active soundstages and though Aaron was not allowed to tell us what was shooting on the film stages I worked out from the clues that it was the up coming SF film, The God Particle. IMG_1116Another interesting location was the old production buildings where writers, directors, and star under IMG_0993contract worked. You can see the producers builders in the Star Trek Episode Patters of Force doubling as the NAZI headquarters.

Of course their backlot has a New York set, one locale is where the famous statue of Liberty head comes bouncing down the street in Cloverfield. There was another standing exterior set, The Alley, which is used as the dangerous street/alley in many television shows.IMG_1003

IMG_1109We also visited on of the four film vaults on the property. This was not a film vault per se as it was a vault of VHA, BETA, and all sorts of various storage media for the titles.IMG_1042IMG_1038

They provided a buffet lunch outdoors, picnic style. The weather, though warm, was pleasant and the others guests and the guides all made for a friendly setting.IMG_1082

We visited the archive, which is the closest thing Paramount has to a museum. IMG_1073I have the impression that unlike Warner Brothers Paramount only recently began a corporate culture of preservation of artifacts in the last few decades. However unlike WB they allowed photos in the archive while WB forbade them in their museum.IMG_1076

We ended the tour in the Prop Warehouse, a place where many oversized props are stored and displayed.IMG_1123

Over all I very much enjoyed the tour and would recommend it if you come to Los Angeles.

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I’m back

 

Well, the last couple of weeks were less than fun. A week ago Thursday my sweetie-wife dropped me off at the curb for my day-job. This is all very routine but what followed was not. I swung the car door closed with my left hand. My wife, thinking I had released the door, put the car into motion. The motion jerked my fingers, partially wrapped at the window frame of the passenger window. She stopped at once and I did not think that I had suffered any injury, waved her off and went to work.

Ahh, the lovely delayed action of soft tissue damage.

By the time I reached my desk pain, sharp and deep, pierced some of my finger joints. Within fifteen minutes the swelling grew prominent and it was clear that there had been some sort of injury. I soldiered on for a few more minutes but I was forced to admit I needed to seek medical help.

I logged out and caught on Uber to a nearby medical facility. A couple of hours and an X-ray later I was home with the 3rd and 4th fingers of my left hands strapped to splint, putting me out commission for typing.

The doctors diagnosed the injury as pulled tendons and predicted I would need to wear the splint for 1-2 weeks. Seeing as I type at the day-job for a living the doctors put me on limited duty and I was sent home. I watched a lot of videos, movies, and T.V. shows frustrated that I could not work at either job. My novel had reached 73,000 and my assessment of it was rosy.

Luckily I healed on the faster side of the range and a week later the medics cleared the removal of the splint.

I am back at work at the day-job and back on the novel. Where I had hoped to complete the first draft by this week it now looks like another two weeks before I’ll get there. (There was the one-week down and the book is running a bit long. I think it will land between 85,000 and 90,000 words instead of 80,000.)

Still, it is good to be back.

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Liberty Station

Today walk was out at LIberty Station in the Point Loma region of San Diego. For those who do not know San Diego used to be home to one of the navy’s three Naval Training Centers, the other two being in Orland (Where I did my basic Training) and up int he Great Lakes region. Several years ago the USN gave up NTC San Diego and it has since been trnasform into a bayside park,  business & Arts district.

Here is a panoramic shot I took today of Liberty Station. It didn;t turn out half bad.

 

Liberty Station

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Presido San Diego CA

For walk today, on the weekend my wife and I like to go out for walks as our exercise, my sweetie-wife selected Presido Park to avoid the crowds near downtown as Pride ramps up into full swing here in San Diego.

I was not aware that today is the anniversary of San Diego’s founding and as such the meusem at Presido Park was free. It’s not a big muesem but it was my first time there.

Here is a photo of the outside if the Presido, and one fo Mission Valley, the area of San Diego I call home, looking east from the mission’s tower.

Presido

Mission Valley

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A Man Should Know His Limitations

So, as regular readers here already know for the past several years I have maintained an annual pass to Universal Studios, Hollywood. (‘The entertainment capital of L.A.’ – sigh I remember when they were the entertainment capital of the world, not just one city.) Movies are one of my favorite things and going to the park by myself gave me a day to clear my head, have fun, and let ideas collide on their own while I was distracted. Many a trip ended with new concepts, plots, and characters for my writing.

Sadly, with the coming of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, otherwise known as Harry Potter and The Really big Check — sorry Cheque, they have substantially raised their prices and instituted black out dates – pretty much every weekend during the summer – on their annual pass holders. I made the call that the price was too much, the utilization too limited, and the crowds too large for my purposes.

Searching for a new theme park day trip destination for myself I took a trip Sunday to Knott’s berry Farm. I like roller coasters, it’s half an hour closer than the Universal, and I could get a day pass at nearly half off from my work benefits.

It was a pleasant trip and I had fun, but I have made a discovery that it will not be what I need for creativity. On one point multiple roller coasters are too stimulating and the back burners of my brain appear to switch off. Also I discovered while most roller coasters do not make me motion sick, spiraling ones most certainly do. I had fun, but came home early than normal and with only modest idea creation, most of which occured during the drive time.

I still need the moderate level distraction for hours at a time when I can let creativity occur in the background processes. The answer is going to be the world Famous San Diego Zoo. I can walk it grounds, take in shows, lectures, and tours. Partake in theme park food, see fascinating wild life and be home in time for serious quality time with my sweetie-wife. Plus with two annual passes we can return to our Sunday in the zoo walks.

 

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The Concert That Wasn’t

Yesterday I held a ticket for Olivia Newton-John in concert at a local casino, Pala. I hadn’t seen her in concert in more than thirty years and was looking forward to the evening. My sweetie-wife is not a fan and so this was to be a solo night out for myself.

The Casino/hotel complex is on a reservation and took about 45 minutes to drive to. I arrived early enough to had a quick meal, the largest chili dog I have ever seen at a very decent price, they certainly want your money at the gambling and not the cafe, and then went to the concert hall.

It was well attended, perhaps sold out I am not really sure. Only a few minutes late Olivia appeared on the stage and started singing Have You Ever Been Mellow. I can tell you definitively that she does not lip-synch her concerts. One, from my seat I could see the person operating the teleprompter with the lyrics, two, she was sick and is showed in her voice.

Before she completed the song she stopped, waved the band silent, and apologized to us that her voice was croak-y after catching something overseas and that she would do the best that she could. She launched into her next song, but the sore throat prevented her from getting to the high notes and she again stopped the show, this time letting us know she couldn’t perform. It was clear she was mortified and ashamed by her failure and I felt very bad for her. This is one of the real differences between a performance art and other arts. A writer can polished and edit and even not release a piece if they feel they are not hitting their marks, performance artists  do it live and their failures, even when it is not their fault, are live.

She didn’t send us away, she stayed on stage chatting with the audience, answering questions, and making arrangments with the hotel for photo opportunities. She also promised she would try to come back soon. I stayed for about half an hour of the chatting and questions, then left for home.

This morning the refund notice arrive in my email box, so I am happy the venue acted promptly, but I am sad I did not get to see her show.

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