Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Third Star Trek TOS episode

Dear Bratty Friends,

Okay, here it is. The one we watched last night was episode #3 of the original series titled, "Where no man has gone before." Originally broadcast on September 22, 1966, according to Wikipedia, the story is about Helmsman Gary Mitchell and ship's psychiatrist Dr. Elizabeth Dehner. Both become hit with an electrical like current that deposits in them superhuman powers. Mr. Mitchell is the stronger of the two, and quickly turns from human to superhuman to menace, believing he has been given God-like powers. Of course, Spock warns James T. Kirk to take 'em down while he can, but Kirk waits a little too long, and has to battle the two to the death on the lonely and deserted planet Delta Vega.

So, what I am thinking for the sidekick to the Alaska story is a deputy or underling cop who assists the obsessed cop grudgingly, since he secretly believes he is more intelligent than his burned-out superior. That's his inner conflict.

And as for the woman/kidnapper's target, I am thinking of some inner conflict for her that makes her shy of romance of any kind. I've heard that having lots and lots of money will do that to you, but I sure don't know anything about that first hand!

More later - I have to go finish my NaNo novel before I can start this one! And there's also the little matter of the vampire trilogy and the Armada trilogy to do too. Sigh, so little time.


P.S. Yes, art should imitate art!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

NGC 7635 the Bubble Nebula

One of my favorite nebulas NGC 7635, the Bubble Nebula. Photo from the APOD site - see link on the right under NASA Photo of the Day.

Today's Star Trek TOS episode

Dear Bratty Friends,

Okay, here's the second TOS episode I've watched for the challenge: "The Changeling", first broadcast on September 29, 1967 according to Wikipedia.

In this episode a deep space probe named NOMAD has undergone some unplanned for alterations in its programming. It now believes its purpose is to locate and "sterilize" imperfect biological beings. Kirk has to talk it down, so to speak, until it suffers from a fatal processing error and blows itself up.

So, I got to thinking about what kinds of things humans will come to believe are perfect. Gods, of course. But what about animals? Or just certain humans? Clouded judgment is clouded judgment after all, so I guess it could be anything.

I'll use that for the sub-plot in the story about Alaska and see if a man who believes that nature is perfect can be made to believe otherwise... This will actually be paired with the Simpson's "Dental plan/Lisa needs braces" episode, not with another TOS one. But for somebody out there who wanted a challenge, taking this episode and the Spock's Brain one and pairing them up could be fun.

Now I just need one more episode - if in fact I can squeeze three into one story form - and then I'll be done. Perhaps what I need is an episode about one particular individual that I could base a "sidekick" type character on. Any suggestions?

More later,


And remember, art should imitate art!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Sci-fi story challenge

Dear Bratty Friends,

Here's my writing challenge for the end of 2008.

(And I'm assuming you are a Trekkie BTW).

Take any (3) episodes from TOS and write a story using all the plot elements in those three episodes. For example, last night we watched the ever popular "Spock's Brain." That episode has some of the hokiest dialogue I've ever heard. I marvel every time at how the actors said lines like:

"His brain is gone!"
"Brain and brain! What is brain?"

and kept a straight face. I know I couldn't have.

So, taking that as the first episode we have a formerly powerful civilization whose citizens' intelligence has fallen to childlike levels due to non use. (Sound familiar anybody?) They kidnap another being and take his brain (but maybe it could be any other body part that's useful, heh heh) and his shipmates try to get it back. But the re-installation is difficult!

Coupling that with the "Horta" episode could be interesting. Or maybe the challenge should be that you have to use the episodes in order of how they appear on the three season set?

Well anyway, let your imagination go wild! And remember, art should imitate art!


Strong women characters

Dear Bratty Friends,

Does anybody know what defines a strong female character these days?

Is it simply magic powers?

Is it money or sexual appeal?

Or is it something else all together?

I like to think it is something else all together. Like David Bowie said, masks always let you down when you need them, and neither should female characters rely on special powers or abilities for their strength.

That said, I'm thinking about a novel set in Alaska with a tough old cop or FBI agent who's been tracking a bad guy for far too long. And the punch line of the novel is from "Last Exit to Springfield" which according to Wikipedia is the seventeenth episode of The Simpsons' fourth season which originally aired March 11, 1993.

Here's the punch line:

Lenny: Dental plan.
Marge: Lisa needs braces.


Sound interesting???


Here's the script from the actual episode. You can see that Homer has to repeat the words 8 times before his head clicks into gear. So eight chapters plus a couple more.

Lenny: So long, dental plan!
Homer: [thinks...]
Lenny's voice: Dental plan!
Marge's voice: Lisa needs braces.
Lenny's voice: Dental plan!
Marge's voice: Lisa needs braces.
Lenny's voice: Dental plan!
Marge's voice: Lisa needs braces.
Lenny's voice: Dental plan!
Marge's voice: Lisa needs braces.
Lenny's voice: Dental plan!
Marge's voice: Lisa needs braces.
Lenny's voice: Dental plan!
Marge's voice: Lisa needs braces.
Chuckie: [as a prank, drops a pencil into the crack of Homer's butt]
Carla: Bull's-eye!
Homer: Thanks a lot, Carl. Now I lost my train of thought.
Lenny's voice: Dental plan!
Marge's voice: Lisa needs braces.
Lenny's voice: Dental plan!
Marge's voice: Lisa needs braces.
Homer: If we give up our dental plan... ... ...
I'll have to pay for Lisa's braces!

Archive from:

-----Yes! Art should imitate art! ------

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Review: Edge of Darkness by Cherry Adair

Review: Edge of Darkness by Cherry Adair

First, I liked Cherry’s writing. It was brisk and snappy and the story moved along quickly. It starts with the action in Chapter 1, first from hero Duncan Edge’s POV and then switches to heroine Serena Brightman’s POV. By Chapter 2 they’re arguing and the horses are off and running in a showdown for the head wizard council position. The arguing lasts as far as Chapter 10 when the clothes come off, but after that each character remains independently powerful. By that, I mean that neither of the main characters has to be brought especially low by circumstances in order to warrant rescue by the other one. Well, Serena does get shot, but it’s just a nip and she’s stitched up and ready to go in no time. And Duncan does feel protective of Serena, but it isn’t certain that she’s in need of his rescue. What is certain is that she does make sacrifices on his behalf – such as her powers - which in turn lead to their living happily ever after. But, you may ask, what does Duncan sacrifice on her behalf? None of his powers, that’s for sure. A fact that Adair makes sure to point out as she reminds readers that Serena sacrificed from a place of power, not to subjugate herself to Duncan:

“Yes. I love Duncan that much and more. I’d give him anything in my power to give him. But to set the record straight, I’m not defined by my powers. There are more wonderful things in my life than the ability to create water. Frankly, sharing my power with Duncan today was the best use of my gift I’ve ever made.”

Compare that to her discussion of Duncan’s need for his powers:

I probably will miss the sheer convenience of having powers,” she told McBain absently. “But I don’t think not having them will impact me personally. Duncan, however, believes that he’s defined by his powers. So if he were to lose his, I think he’d be devastated.” (296).

Isn’t it interesting what Adair is saying here? I think so. I think Adair’s hit a nail on the head here but I won’t go into that now. Just keep in mind I did my B.A. in Psych!

My only pet peeves about the book are that for the first 150 pages, every time we switch heads from Duncan to Serena, we are pelted non-stop with reasons why each finds the other SO attractive they just want to faint. Sometimes the internal rants are a few pages apart, sometimes 12, and I know it’s a plot device to create tension (Sherrilyn Kenyon uses it a lot), but I can’t help but feel like I’m reading a tennis match. Ping. The ball goes that way. Ping. It goes the other way. And it’s almost as if I can see the editor sitting behind the re-writes saying, “we need to create more tension,” over and over like a mantra. Did that happen? I don’t know for sure. But I have a sneaky suspicion that’s how these things work.

The other peeve is that the sub-plot about somebody killing wizards is VERY subplot and not really dealt with until the end of the book, so busy are we learning just how attracted the main characters are to each other.

And I’m also reminded by the Joanna/Grant/kidnapper sub-plot that Captain T. Kirk wouldn’t have abandoned the search for his lost ship whether he was under a charm spell or not. What happened to a strong innate motherly instinct? Or was Adair merely using Joanna as a foil for Serena –showing that women have an easily duped side when it comes to love?

I don’t know. But, I do know I’ll keep this book on the shelf and return to it in the future to learn from the dialogue and plot sequences. I think she had some very interesting things going on here.

Happy reading,


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Review of What a Scoundrel Wants by Carrie Lofty

What a scoundrel wants by Carrie Lofty

To me, this book wasn’t a page-turner. I don’t know why the Smart Bitches Trashy Books girls liked it so much they gave it an A- on 12/2/08. I made it to chapter 15 and had decided not to read the rest and put it on the Friends of the Library book sale cart. But alas, I did force myself to finish it. Yes, it took effort. No, I won’t be reading the next one in the series.

What’s my gripe? Well there are a couple of them. First, I have never been fond of the shoot ‘em up kind of male hero. (After all, I fast forwarded through all the fight scenes in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and watched the whole story in about 3 hours instead of 9!). This guy, Will Scarlet, shoots guys between the eyes with arrows, doesn’t seem to be bothered with ambushing groups and killing everyone in sight, and isn’t at all concerned with the consequences of his actions. Personally I tend not to like books where all the action centers around violence. This one pretty much does. In escape after escape there are violent confrontations.

Second, the flip side of that is I find it difficult to believe at the same time that the cold-hearted shoot-em-between-the-eyes killer really does have tender feelings for somebody – anybody – or a firm grip on right and wrong. Lofty’s insistence that Scarlet has a protective side is seemingly the only facet of his personality that drives Scarlet and Meg together. And we are told about it repeatedly in the book, over and over. Between the arrows flying, we hear again how protective of her he feels, etc.

Third, the book seems to evolve into one rescue of Meg after another by Will, and with each rescue the heroine gets beaten down worse and worse. At first, she’s merely blind and thus handicapped, but by the end of the book she’s been burned so badly she can’t feel anything. Thus, the heroine gets smashed up to make her more and more vulnerable so that Scarlet loves her more and more. That isn’t a fairy tale romance to me, that is a recipe for pity not love, and I hate when books have to use injury to one of the partners as an excuse for love. If that were really true, everybody in the E.R. would be falling in love every day.

Lastly, the book is written in today’s very cold, adjective heavy style that purports to relay so much but in the end says so little to me. Am I the only one that feels this? In the end this type of writing is distant and somehow dulling to my brain, probably not the effect the author wanted. I think it’s an over-written style that alas is popular today but I think simpler styles can tell the story better, can move the story along at a more breathless pace. Here’s a sample of the writing in the book:

“She grazed a flutter of petals as crisp as the autumn leaves. The flowers she touched, the flowers she pulled from the rafters and woven thatching, had been carefully dried. In the span of a few feet, she gathered six petite bundles. Crinkling petals tickled her fingertips and sounded like the last, quietest sigh of a dying fire. She tucked her nose among the neatly tied bundles but could find no perfume to distinguish variety.”

Is it just me? Too-precise and sterile description kills the intent for me, I think.


Monday, December 8, 2008

Media nightmares

Dear Bratty Friends,

I woke up this morning from a nightmare about typos. Yes, typos.

We had already gone to press on the paper and got the issue back when I realized there were tons of typos in headlines and body text - all over the place.

I wonder if gynecologists have nightmares ... and what they entail?