Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Rowan's NaNoWriMo: An Inglourious Failure.

So my official word count is 4,777 on the National Novel Writing Month website. Kinda pathetic, I guess. And I doubt I'll get anything else down. I discovered a little about myself, though. While I enjoy writing, I go through spurts of inspiration; as many do, I suppose. This was not a very inspired month, honestly. I know many authors just write until they are "inspired." But that seems a quick way kill any passion I have for a subject. I'll keep plugging away. But I need a real plan, a real plot with a direction; preferably in a world of my own creation, instead of someone else's copyrighted world. Which means far more research than I currently have done. I'll continue to post stuff on my blog as I write, and I may have a few days coming up quick that will provide more opportunity and inspiration.

I also need to keep a notebook, for times I am not close to a computer. Some of my best vignettes on here have come from handwritten rough drafts.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Rowan's Crew: Major Gasira

Fatima Gasira was born in the city of Prairieview, on Cestus III, in 2379. Gasira means “brave” in Swahili. She enrolled in Starfleet’s MACO Academy at West Point, New York, Earth in 2397. Starfleet Command had learned a lot about the value of troops specializing in close-quarters and hand-to-hand combat tactics during the Cardassian War in the 2350s; and during the Dominion War that followed in the 2370s, they decided to revive an ancient tradition of Marine warriors that had faded from Starfleet in the first years of the Federation, rebuilding a dedicated Corps to accompany Starships on exploratory and combat missions. Gasira graduated from the MACO Academy in 2401 with degrees in Tactical Analysis and Kinesiology (emphasis in Martial Arts). She served in the Klingon front on various planets before being placed in command of the 50-member MACO platoon aboard La Gitana. Normally a lower ranking officer commands a platoon, but Gasira is a major, able to hold her own in senior staff meetings aboard ship. She is outranked only by members of La Gitana’s command team: Rowan, Tarah, Larrea, and Thierry. She has a large tribal-style tattoo on the left side of her head, barely visible under her close-cropped hair, part of which extends down past her hairline as a sideburn. Gasira is thoroughly a Marine, direct, gruff; a hard charger. Her combat-expedient approach to problems rankles Rowan, who is leery of the aggressiveness of the MACOs and the need for combat troops on her ship.

Monday, November 22, 2010

What another movie review? MEGAMIND! Plus, a Blurb on 3D

I took my younger daughter to see this fun and endearing film yesterday afternoon. My advice to Will Ferrell: stick to voice acting. Ferrell was quite effective in this role, maybe because I didn't have to look at his face through the whole movie. This is not meant to be an attack, just that I generally find the man to be unfunny. Where his movies succeed, they generally succeed in spite of him.

Woops. OK. So. Megamind is a great movie to take your kids to see, if they have not reached the cynical teenager stage. It was good fun, if slightly predictable. A couple of twists were easy to spot, but it was all right. I quickly developed sympathy for Megamind, and ended up rooting for him even as he pursued his fiendish plots. The visuals, of course, are fabulous. I especially enjoyed the climactic battle and Megamind's appearance on the scene. I don't want to give away too many spoilers, I don't feel that's my place. If you like Shrek-ian humor or have a kids, this is a great film to see. Otherwise you can wait for the DVD or skip it entirely.

It is available in 3D of course, but the show we went to was regular 2D. There were a few sequences that were clearly designed for 3D; I can't wait 'til movie-makers get beyond the gimmicks. I wish they would start tallying box office separately for the 2D vs 3D versions of films. I am interested to see how many people skip the 3D in favor of the more traditional version. Some in Hollywood seem to think that conversion of theaters to the 3D format will help protect traditional movie theaters from the increasing availability of high quality home theaters. Of course, 3D TVs are on the market already. My feeling is that until they come up with a "true" 3D that doesn't try to decouple our natural visual habits, 3D movies won't be as popular as Hollywood would like to think. After all, if even one person in a party has a strong reaction/aversion to 3D, no one in the party will see the 3D version of the movie. Plus there is a certain segment of the population that likes going to the movies. I know I do. I like the big screen and the big sound. Unless I can remodel part of my house to replicate that somewhat, I will still enjoy a good action flick or date movie in the theater.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1

NO SPOILERS, GC (well, a very minor one)
So last night, I took my GF, and mine and her daughters, to the midnight showing of HP7a. Did my huge Potterphile daughters love it?
Yes, they did. I liked it a lot, too. It suffers in many ways from the same thing that "The Empire Strikes Back" did. It is essentially a set-up for the last film, ending on a dark note. In the story, the characters are just about at their lowest. It's the middle of the book, and things look bleak. The filmmakers did a great job of capturing the plot of the book though, without the excessive abridgement of the stories that the last three films suffered. They had to make a few corrections to get there; a minor one being Harry's meeting the oldest Weasley son, Bill. In the books, they'd met a few years previously.
Be warned, the MPAA has rated the film PG-13 for some sequences of intense action violence, frightening images and brief sensuality. This is not necessarily a movie for young children. A five-year-old sitting behind us was upset by several disturbing and/or frightening scenes.
The special effects were seamless and very realistic, as is to be expected by now. No real gee-whiz moments, but neither did they detract from the experience. The tone and feel of the movie is perfect for the first part of the book. Like I said, I liked it and am really looking forward to the last film. I never listen to critics anymore. They have no clue what I enjoy in a movie. But I don't need to tell you that, Dear Reader. If you're not a Potterphile like me and my family, this might could wait for DVD or Blu-Ray. If you are, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" is a must see.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NaNoWriMo Excerpt: More of the Borg Story.

OK so here is an excerpt from my National Novel Writing Month project. It is a continuation of my STO story wherin Captain Rowan Starblanket and her away team were rescuing Borg from a wrecked hulk. Please the forgive the very rough nature of it. In keeping with the spirit of NaNoWriMo, I did very little editing. For example, Corporal Snout is just a placeholder until I have time to do more research on Tellarite names. He's a minor character anyway. Also, while I plan to incorporate many of the previous vignettes from this blog into the novel, I am planning to write 50,000 words this month without using previously written material.

Rowan became aware of an insistent chirping. Trying to stir, she felt a tremendous pain in her side and realized that some of her ribs were broken. Groaning, she pushed herself up into a sitting position. Scanning the chamber. She made out the still forms of the other three members of the away team. The chirping continued, it was her communicator pin. Tapping the badge sent a fresh twinge along her ribs.

“Starblanket here,” she grunted.

Tarah’s voice sounded tinny in the thinning air. “Captain, the Borg wreckage you occupy is on the verge of collapse. We anticipate a hull breech at any moment.”

“Can you lock on to our signals?”

“Negative, Captain. The interference from radiation is too strong at your present location.”

“We’ll move to the other chamber. Keep this channel open.”

“Aye, Captain.”

Corporal Snout, the Tellarite MACO, was closest to her. She crawled closer to him to assess his condition. Realizing her tricorder had flown out of her hand in the tumble, she gently shook his shoulder. He stirred, groaning.

“Corporal, are you hurt?” Rowan asked, visually examining the MACO.

“I’m alright, Ma’am,” Snout said with a grunt. He sat up.

“Check on Commander Brasseux, while I check the Major.”

They moved off towards their separate charges. Major Gasira’s left lower leg was bent an unnatural angle, her foot caught under some debris. Rowan cast about for something to split the Major’s leg. Finding a short piece of wreckage, she began ripping the bottom of her own uniform top into strips. Gasira moaned and her eyes fluttered open. Rowan paused to put a hand on her shoulder.

“Shh, hold still, Major. Your leg is broken. I need to set on splint it.”

Gasira just groaned her acknowledgement. The chamber shuddered again as the remaining gravity generator began to fail. The stressed metal structure groaned louder than the Major. Thierry and Snout made their way over to Rowan and Gasira. Having hit the bulkhead face first, Thierry’s ocular scanner was broken and he was bleeding from his temple where the device had cut him. He had abrasions across his cheek on that side and his nose had swollen, perhaps broken.

“Corporal, help me move this,” Rowan indicated the twisted metal trapping Gasira’s foot. The two tossed the debris aside, freeing the MACO commander’s leg, and Rowan spoke to her.

“Major, I need to set this, then I will split it. Without my medkit I cannot give you a painkiller.”

“I understand, Captain,” Gasira gasped and gritted her teeth. Rowan grasped the broken limb pulled as gently as she could, straightening it and trying to set the bones by feel. The Major cried out in pain.

“There. Corporal, position these strips under her leg above and below the break, here and here, while I lift it.” The MACO did as she asked. Rowan placed the splint along the Major’s leg and tied it in place.

“OK, we need to move out of this chamber or La Gitana cannot beam us away. Thierry, how are you doing?”

“I’ll be alright, sheh.”

“Alright, let’s move. Come on, Major.” Rowan hooked Gasira’s left arm around her own shoulders and lifted the other woman off the deck. The Major stood on her good leg, leaning into the Captain.

“Ready, Captain” she grunted.

“Tarah, monitor our signal. Beam us out as soon as you can.”

“Aye, Captain.”

Thierry leaned on the Tellarite as the chamber lurched again. The deck was now apparently at a steep angle, the exit to the corridor above the debris pile by about a meter and a half. Rowan stepped gingerly over the pile, careful of her footing and her charge. Gasira helped as best she could on her good leg. Thierry and Snout followed behind. Coming to the bulkhead the passageway was on, Rowan propped up the Major.

“Corporal, can you get up into the corridor?” she asked turning to the Tellarite.

“Heh, of course, Ma’am.” The MACO scrambled up the bulkhead and deck into the opening, poking his head back out.

“OK. Thierry, help me get the major up there.” Rowan said. Gasira leaned on the engineer, as Rowan interlaced her fingers into a stirrup. Lifting her foot into The Captain’s hands, Gasira, heaved herself up and reached for the Corporal’s outstretched hands. Together they lifted her in to the corridor.

“OK, you’re next, Thierry.” Rowan put her hands back down to the engineer’s foot to boost him up, grunting in pain as she hoisted him into the corridor. Following the other away team members into the corridor, Rowan reassessed the situation. The tilted bulkheads and deck would make progress hazardous. The groans of the wreckage had not died down.

“OK, move carefully, but quickly. Corporal, you take the lead. Thierry, you follow. I’ll bring up the rear with the Major.”

“Sheh, are you alright? Can you support her?” the engineer asked.

“Yes, just get moving.”

The Tellarite moved up the corridor, tremors in the craft making him stumble. Thierry stumbled after, holding onto the bulkheads. Rowan realized that the gravity generator was causing the corridor to tilt uphill, slowing their progress.

“Tarah, are we out of the interference yet?”

“Negative, Captain.” Came the voice of her First Officer. “Another 15 meters, maybe.”

They came upon the animated but brain-dead drone, blocking their path. Corporal Snout turned back to Rowan. “Orders, Ma’am?”

Rowan sighed, “Shoot it.” The MACO pulled out a hand phaser. Adjusting the settings, he took aim and fired on the drone, disintegrating it. Alarms went off echoing down the passageway.

“Damnit!” Rowan cursed. “Get going!”

Thierry and Snout scrambled up the corridor with Rowan following as best she could with Gasira in tow. Between the groaning structure and the screaming alarms, Rowan barely heard Tarah’s voice.

“Captain, the structure is beginning to break-up, with multiple stress fractures in the hull.”

“We’re moving as fast as we can. Can you reposition to get us out of here?”

“We are already in the prime position relative to the interference, Captain.”

The deck heaved and they were all lifted off their feet. The horrible sound of metal ripping came up the passageway from the cargo bay. Closely followed by the boom of an explosion. Hot gases rushed past the away team, then suddenly reversed themselves.

“Hull breech! Get going!”

They all crawled the last few meters, Thierry dropping back to help Rowan with Gasira. The rushing wind was deafening, but they still had air for now.

“Tarah, beam out Corporal Snout as soon as you have a lock on him!” Rowan shouted over the wind.

Tarah’s response was lost to the roar. The plasma fire behind was consuming the air. Soon enough, Rowan saw the telltale glow of the transporter rescuing the MACO about three meters ahead of them.

“Thierry! Go!”

“Not without you and the Major, sheh!”

They made it the last small distance when the wreckage rocked again from the force of another explosion. But the transporter effect had already embraced the three last members of the away team, pulling them to safety as the passageway collapsed around them.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Damn Pirates!

Just to keep y'all updated, I haven't posted the write-up regarding Rowan's promotion to Admiral because I was boarded last week and the pirates plundered both laptops, not to mention a chest of other electronic booty. I am following blogs as best I can with my phone and from work. Posting is hard.

NaNoWriMo has started, and I "wasted" time time this weekend on Hallowe'en activities instead of preparing. So now I have a bit of a block, not sure where to start. I know I don't have to actually start at the beginning, that can come later. But I need to think of an overarching plot that will actually carry me through 50,000 words.