Defending Space

Halo - No Movie For Now

Well, sadly, Microsoft doesn't seem to want to take the gamble on their own to make a Halo Movie, which in my mind is pretty backwards ass thinking. Really, Gates could come in and set new rules for films and video games.


Open Source Science


Smoking Aces Trailer


Cards Win!!!

What else is there to say?



Buffett Quote For The Day

"Nordstrom was a simple man
Who hatched a nonconformist plan
To save his ass."

- from "Lage Nom Ai"


Jimmy Buffet's Take the Weather With You

New Buffett is out. You can see the video for the song "Bama Breeze" at Margaritaville. The video is bloody depressing since it shows in a few minutes some of what we lost when Katrina came through. Plus, I heard this song on Imus this morning before leaving for work, and that is really what you don't need when setting out on a grey sky day to drive in traffic. And then I get in the car and there is Barometer Soup, so you know that got put in the CD player.



Penny-arcade Wallpapers


New Pynchon is Coming

This is just a piece from Time on trying to get publicity for the book (which as one person in the story says "it will sell itself," and who really needs publicity when you have Time writing about your not having publicity).



Planetary #26: The End

The end of my favorite comic book series is coming. This is also one of my favorite stories ever told. Do enjoy the preview.

Yes, I am spreading the dark gospel of Warren Ellis on a Sunday morning. Enjoy.

"It's a strange world. Let's keep it that way."



Neill Blomkamp, Director of HALO?

Well, with this morning's news that Universal and Fox are pulling out of financing HALO as a film, I decided to go check out Neil Blomkamp's (the man who is supposed to direct the film) reel of work. And I have to say I am really impressed, especially by the last two pieces on his reel. The last two pieces are especially what got me. Both play out like a documentary news broadcast, and I could see where he might use this same approach in parts of a HALO film. The effects work is very good and never looks cheesy (which makes me wonder how can he have such good FX work in these small pieces and SciFi Channel has for the most part exceptionally crappy CGI work in most of their films?).

Peter Jackson and incant films says they are still continuing on with pre-production. Hopefully someone will cough up the money for the film. Personally, I think Microsoft just needs to go ahead and finance this one themselves. I think it would be the first step in the new tech taking down old tech.



IMDB Update

Woot, my page has been updated. Don't know why, but I always get a kick out of seeing my IMDB page updated.


Hellboy Animated

Pan's Labyrinth Trailer

Nerf Sniper Rifle

Since I have shared this with a lot of people already, I thought I would post it here as well. I found it through Penny-Arcade this morning:

The Nerf Sniper Rifle.

This really isn't for Sippy or the kids. This is something I want and will probably get for myself come Dec. 9th. I fear giving it to Sippy would only turn him into an international assassin or he would wind up in an elevated position dropping Texans at will (but he would be an Eagle Scout).

Tulane House

Saw this in the Times-Picayune yesterday, and just thought I would share (by the way, I wouldn't have to post the whole article if nola.com would keep stories archived for longer than 14 days):


A prototype home based on age-old New Orleans building principals debuts in Treme

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

By Leslie Williams

The first of four houses built and designed by Tulane University School of Architecture students was unveiled Monday in Treme as an example of the type of affordable homes that can be constructed in historically underserved neighborhoods in New Orleans.

Ila Berman, associate dean of the school and co-director of URBANbuild, a program to create designs for affordable homes, hopes this prototype and the three other yet-to-be-designed houses will be replicated elsewhere in Treme and throughout the city.

In addition to being a model for sustainable housing, the 1,300-square-foot blue house at 1930 Dumaine St., with high ceilings, porches and plenty of ventilation, will be sold to a low-to-moderate income resident via Tulane's partnership with Neighborhood Housing Services of New Orleans Inc., a nonprofit agency created to increase home ownership.

"We plan to sell it for $125,000," said Lauren Anderson, the nonprofit's executive director. "We've gotten more calls about the architectural plans for the house than calls from people who want to buy it. It can be replicated anywhere. Ultimately, we plan to sell the architectural plans with Tulane."

NeighborWorks America, a national nonprofit agency created by Congress in 1978 to revitalize communities, has contributed $30,000 for the Dumaine Street house, which will be used to provide a soft second mortgage in which the purchaser will need a mortgage of $95,000 to qualify for the home, Anderson said.

"At least two more houses are in the works now," said Reed Kroloff, dean of Tulane's School of Architecture.

One is planned for Central City and the other in the 7th Ward. Construction should begin on both in January, Berman said.

The fourth house also will be built in Central City, said Berman, who came up with the idea of creating URBANbuild as a program to rehabilitate and revitalize areas of the city dominated by blight and abandonment. A different group of students will design the remaining three prototypes.

URBANbuild is financed in part by a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. More than 40 schools of architecture, about half of the schools of architecture in the United States, competed for that grant, Kroloff said. Berman, also the grant writer, is co-director of the URBANbuild program with Byron Mouton, a Tulane clinical professor of architecture.

The three-bedroom, two-bath house in Treme was built in 15 weeks, starting in the middle of May, by "smart, but unskilled students" in the School of Architecture, said Mouton, the project architect. Anthony Christiana was the contractor, he said.

"Some students may have never held a shovel before," said Sam Richards, who oversees the woodworking and metalwork shop in the university's School of Architecture and guided the students. "It was a fantastic educational experience for them because they helped build as well as design it."

The structure sometimes has been referred to as the Home Depot house because many of its components were built with off-the-shelf items, Mouton said. It demonstrates what can be done by people with minimal experience, he said.

"I'll never look at a building the same way anymore," said Robert Deacon, a fourth-year student in the school's five-year master's program in architecture, who was among eight of 14 students who worked on the theory-and-practice project all 15 weeks. "You'd get lumber twisted and bent, not exact like in the computer.

"It's almost like I have X-ray vision now," said Deacon, noting that he no longer can look at a building without thinking about how its interior is put together.

The house was designed with the typical New Orleans lot, 30 feet by 90 feet, in mind, said Emilie Taylor, who began the project as a student and ended it as a graduate of the School of Architecture and project manager.

It builds on the traditional shotgun plan, "creating the maximum amount of useable, climate-responsive space with a minimum amount of materials and labor."

The house on Dumaine, however, abandons the traditional shotgun configuration that requires a visitor to walk through bedrooms to get to the kitchen, Taylor said.

It has a hallway. Openings via doors as well as horizontal and vertical windows produce much ventilation, reducing the need for costly air conditioning.

Tulane URBANbuild is a two-semester graduate level design/build studio focusing on affordability and innovation for design and construction in New Orleans. Students are exposed to the impact architectural practices have on design. All of the students who worked on the Dumaine Street project received course credit.

. . . . . . .

Leslie Williams can be reached at lwilliams@timespicayune.com or (504) 826-3358.


Newsarama Interview with Warren Ellis

Spreading Warren Ellis to the unwashed masses. A good interview from Newsrama about writing:

KLEID: Lately you’ve been spending a good deal focusing on story format - you’ve instituted what’s being called “The Dose” - the single issue story ala FELL and CASANOVA. I know you’ve been toying with the idea of writing 48 page novellas and everytime I turn around there’s another innovative Ellisian way of presenting a story. As a writer do you feel that you focus on format first and then the story or do you dream up the idea and then toy with the best way to present it? Are there any formats you have yet to try that stories are percolating for in the back of your head?

ELLIS: I’ll come from any direction that gets me a story. If that sometimes means that I’ll come up with an interesting format first and then have to think about the kind of story that’d fit the format best, well, I’ll take it. If that means a story idea drops into my head and then I have to decide what format would serve the story best, I’ll take that too. Sometimes I’ll just decide to attack a genre, or be requested to, and then try to devise something I’d like to read in that genre — that’s how TRANSMETROPOLITAN happened.

As far as other formats go: there’s a ton of things I still want to try. I’ve never done a European-style album. I want to do a STRANGE DAYS-style anthology book, and also a 64pp monthly. For years, I’ve wanted to do original graphic novels in the 100pp Paradox Mystery format, which I guess we now call the manga format, ha ha. Those things would’ve taken over the world fifteen years ago if DC hadn’t insisted on making them three-part serialisations. One of the biggest missed opportunities of the 90s. And while American publishers were still telling me that small affordable black-and-white OGNs would never sell, manga took over the bookstores. Yes, I’m still pissed off about that.

KLEID: This year I’ve heard talk of an Ellis novel, Ellis TV shows, Ellis video game scripts and of course, Ellis comic books and graphic novels. I’ve done a bit of writing for the stage and I know there are different limitations and freedoms that come along when writing for varying mediums. Which, in your opinion, contains the greatest creative hurdles - writing for comics, for television or prose/novels?

ELLIS: Television, definitely. Prose was a wrench, because I had to go from describing pictures to suggesting them. But tv scripts are just insanely structured beasts, far more restrictive than comics scripts. Hitting ad breaks is a lot harder than hitting 22 pages of art. And the notes! 45 minutes of notes on my episode of JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED! And they told me that was a light pass. I can’t imagine having to work in a writer’s room on a network show. Writers like Dwayne McDuffie, John Rogers and Javi Grillo-Marxuach must be more than human to survive that process.

In contrast, the notes on the book were very very light — I think at this point we only have one serious disagreement to settle. I’m finishing the DEAD CHANNEL pilot this week, and we’ll see how that goes…!

KLEID: Recently, I was watching a fellow writer at a gathering of like-minded comic folks as she pulled away from the conversation to jot something in her moleskine notebook. There are days where I often see something that I want to use for a future story or capture an image that strikes me in a particular way. Now, I know that in the past you’ve recorded images and ideas with digital cameras… what other ways have you gathered your observations and organized them for use in a project? Ever grabbed the ever-present cocktail napkin and scribbled down a project pitch that went on to fame, fortune and the accolades of the people who matter?

ELLIS: I used to have a watch that recorded audio, which was useful. I’ll thumb out notes on my Treo. I’ve never yet had an idea that led to fame, fortune or the accolades of those who matter. I think I’ve been given one award in the last five years, and it wasn’t even from the comics field. Hell, I don’t even get to go to gatherings of like-minded people in the comics field. The last time I tried, I got nailed by a crazy “fan” who demanded I review his art portfolio at 11.30pm while I was trying to watch a band, turned out to be too drunk to understand a word I was saying, and got nasty fast. His drunk buddy had to stop me from standing up and knocking him down, while accidentally kicking me three times because he was too shitfaced to control his legs, and I just left.

KLEID: Dialogue is very important to you. It defines your characters and sets your work apart from others by incorporating diverse tone, banter and often very spare, well placed bits of comedy. You’ve admitted a love for the shows DEADWOOD and THE WEST WING, citing how important the dialogue is in each of these shows - how much has your writing been influenced or affected by Sorkin’s “walk fast, talk fast” style or Milch’s rich refined-mixed-with-vulgarity Old West banter? What other instances of unique dialogue have caught your eyes these days?

ELLIS: That’s the worst bit — trying to trap bits of other writers in your work and taking them out. You really have to work hard to just understand how those writers got their effects and then incorporate that into your own style. And then you discover that some of that stuff doesn’t work in comics. Sorkin, understanding actors, gets some of his effects from just having the characters speak faster, getting that density of dialogue into a small slice of time. You can’t do that in comics without crowding out an artist — although I’ve noticed that lettering has gotten smaller in recent years, so I’ve been able to get denser on some scripts of late. Milch’s effects on DEADWOOD come right out of Victorian language. You can’t ape that. You have to dig deeper and understand his decisions, and parse his effects from there. Both of them have terrible tics — you can tell any script Milch has written a pass of because someone says “anyways.” Sorkin recycles lines like a bastard, partly because he works so fast and has written so much — this is a guy with something like 120 hours of television under his belt. That’s more than 10,000 pages of manuscript he’s written passes of.

Complicating matters is the fact that dialogue on the page works very differently to spoken dialogue. The film of SIN CITY is a perfect illustration. You can’t say that shit. It works on the page because comics are a bastard form — it’s got theatre in it, but it’s also got the t-shirt slogan in it. Time can pause around a single line and the right image: a pose and a statement. Movies, almost by definition, don’t hold that too well.

And it cuts both ways: trying a Tommy Schlamme tracking shot of people walking down a corridor talking is murder, not least on the artist, who also has to map the space for the speech balloons to flow properly. You can take ideas from other media, but not necessarily the tools. Sorkin can lay the pipe for an episode about the collapse of the American economy by having Josh and Donna talk fast during a brisk trot to the Oval Office: that’s a minute in screen time. Laying down that density of dialogue is probably two pages in comics, which is an awful lot of chronological real estate in a 22–page unit: adhering to the Stan Lee rule, a standard panel can only usefully hold 28 words or so. If you’re judicious, that’s three short lines. But you’ve already lost the top of the page to an establishing shot, you’ve got at least two people in every subsequent panel unless you start cutting to single head shots, you need at least four major additional actions to the characters in that sequence to stop the artist falling into a coma and the space to accentuate those so you’re probably dropping a line here and there… you know what I’m talking about, Neil, but everyone else can see how nuts this can drive you.

Anyway, back to the plot. I’ll watch stuff just to listen to the dialogue, yes, or read scripts. ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT scripts can be a joy. Troy Kennedy Martin was amazing with pauses and unexpected statements. Re-watching STAR COPS, I’m surprised at Chris Boucher’s facility with dialogue, although you can’t really go wrong with David Calder speaking it. Jimmy McGovern, of course.

In comics, Garth has always been the best dialogue writer. His process should be everyone’s: he reads the stuff out loud until it works. Grant understands the whole form, though, and brings in influences from music and theatre and, yes, slogan writing. Peter David, when he’s on his game, is instinctively brilliant at dialogue, as is Joss, who cranks off one-liners I’d kill for. I think Gail’s great strength is probably dialogue: I like watching her play with sentences and exchanges, the odd little inversions she pulls off. Brett Lewis does incredible work with language in WINTER MEN — he’s probably the guy working right now whose sensibility is closest to David Milch.

KLEID: Balancing a mix of company books, creator owned projects, Hollywood/alternate media writing and downtime is sometimes nigh impossible. Even those who devote their days to full time writing sometimes tend to burn out… how do you budget yourself and your time so that by Friday you’re not breaking your various bits of technology over the heads of passersbys screaming at them to make it stopMAKEITSTOPANDGIVEMEREDBULL… er,you get the idea.

ELLIS: Budget time? I work sixteen hours a day. That’s all I can tell you. I write until I can’t.


Red Bull Air Races

This has become one of my favorite things to watch on TV. Sippy fell asleep on me today watching it. Maybe next year we can go and catch the one in San Francisco live.

Between the Red Bull Air Race series and the Rocket Racing League, aviation seems to be getting a kick in the pants.



USS Macon Airship Story


William Gibson On His New Book Title

I just love this piece on his next book's title:

Jack Womack, one of the people who's been privy to the material and process throughout, offers the following take on it:

Spook: as spectre, ghost, revenant, remnant of death, the madness lingering after the corpse is sloughed off. Slang for intelligence agent; agent of uncertainty, agent of fear, agent of fright.

Country: in the mind or in reality. The World. The United States of America, New Improved Edition. What lies before you. What lies behind. Where your bed is made.

Spook Country: the place where we have all landed, few by choice, and where we are learning to live. The country inside and outside of the skull. The soul, haunted by the past, of what was, of what might have been. The realization that not all forking paths are equal -- some go down in value.

The ground of being, pervaded with spectres. The ground of actuality, similarly teeming.

In traversing spook country, we ourselves have been transformed, and we will not fully understand how until we are no longer what we were.


Halo as a Latin Epic

I like where the thought is going in this small piece from Joystiq:

To what extent is Halo an extension of the interactive storytelling of old? The latest issue of The Escapist has a thought-provoking piece comparing Bungie Studio's Halo with Virgil's The Aeneid. The theme of a revered, super-human warrior protecting his home world against two enemies (one with whom we can sympathize, in the case of the Covenant / Greece) is prevalent through each tale.

The interactivity, according to author Roger Travis, is an illusion for both the gamer and the Roman audience: we are immersed within the story but have no say over its outcome. Master Chief as Aeneas notwithstanding (no word on where multiplayer fits into the comparison), to what extent could one design a game where the progression is wholly determined by the user?

Could the lore of World of Warcraft be expanded through the present-day actions of its masses? Even open-ended games like Fable and Oblivion have main quests and endings. To play devil's advocate to our own question, perchance a central plot is required in story-driven games in order to give the wandering avatar an initial feeling of purpose. Could there be a cutoff point where the user is left to his or her own devices, or must we always be in pursuit of some tangible outcome laid before us?

Grindhouse Trailer

AintItCoolNews has it via You Tube. It just looks insane. Much more in the mold of From Dusk Til Dawn. Infact, it makes me want to go back and watch From Dusk Til Dawn. And, it makes me sad Rodriguez didn't get Salma to play a stripper ... again.



Sweet Tequila Blues

Missing Austin bad lately, and hearing this song just play on KGSR doesn't help:

Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez

I keep lookin for it, I hope I never find it.
If I get close to it just put me on a train.
And get me back to Austin, oh damn, I miss that town.
I got them sweet tequila blues comin' down.

I knew a man with money in his hand.
He'd look that Jack of Diamonds in the eye:
Place it on the four an' let the seven close the door.
Take all them chips and lay right down and cry.

An' I keep lookin for it, I hope I never find it.
If I get close to it just put me on a train.
And get me back to Austin, oh damn, I miss that town.
Got them sweet tequila blues comin' down.

Take it Jock.
Instrumental break.
Here comes Carrie.

An' I knew a girl who thought she had the world,
With a slightly racing Spanish lullaby.
When her dream came into town she threw the whole damn thing around:
Some Texas girls just love to say goodbye.

An' I keep lookin for it, I hope I never find it.
If I get close to it just put me on a train.
And get me back to Austin, oh damn, I miss that town.
Got them sweet tequila blues comin' down.

We'll break it now.

Now here's one for the ladies.
Baby, where is my Mercedes?
Girl, I'm waitin' for the ribbons and the bows.
Just keep me guessin'; oh baby, I'm confessin'.
I know, you want two of them and three of those.

An' I keep lookin for it, I hope I never find it.
If I get close to it just put me on a train.
And get me back to Austin, oh damn, I miss that town.
I got them sweet tequila blues comin' down.

Texas blues

And get me back to Austin, oh damn, I miss that town.
I got them sweet tequila blues comin' down.
Got them sweet tequila blues comin' down.



300 Trailer

I have yet to watch it, but I keep reading at multiple sites how good it is.

This is the story of the Spartans at the battle of Thermopylae. The Greeks were battling the invading Persians. The Spartans sent 300 of their number, along with the support staff that went with such men, to stand up to the Persians.

The movie is based on a graphic novel by Frank Miller.


Lovecraft Review

Benjamin Buttons Update

This post looks the way it does because I originally wrote it as a post for the Chud Message Boards.

So this will probably be my last post on this film since I start work on it tomorrow morning.

The art department for the film is taking up most of the Nims Center (http://www.digitalcinemastudio.com/) offices, the only real studio here in New Orleans. To give you an idea of what that means, I have worked there with two film productions taking up offices and a third using some offices and the main soundstage. Plus, the set dec for BB is using up the building next to the Nims Center (still a part of the studio and the old Chef Paul Prudhomme spice factory for those who that might mean something), for work on various items as well as storing vehicles.

I was there on Tuesday. Only props I really got to see were some trunks and luggage, some marked period luggage some marked modern luggage. Sorry I did not get to see more of the art dept, but I was there visiting friends and didn't think to take an exact report of what was on the walls and lying around the tables.

The film starts mid November and is going until March or April. I have been told two different end dates for the project, and both were from reliable people. I am not sure anyone has been given and firm end date yet. The longer the better for me, since it means more money and work.

They are looking for stand ins and extras. You can check out the following links for more info:



(Scroll down some on that page)

I hope this works for those of you who wanted some info on the project.

Personally I can't wait to go back to work. Outside of working for the Best Damn Sports Show Period last week, it has been a pretty quiet time for me since the middle of June (I worked consistently from December 26th through the middle of June). It was fine while my wife was on summer break, but as soon as she went back to work in August, I was ready to go too. The only thing to film in the New Orleans Area since the middle of June was A Perfect Day, a TNT movie starring Rob Lowe which filmed from the end of August thru September



New Benjamin Buttons PA

Got the call a little bit ago, I got the gig working as a PA (Production Assistant) in the accounting department for the film The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons.


B-Movie Biology

An essay on B-Movie Monsters Biology.

It is that time of year. Time to pull out and read Frankenstein. Also have Neil Gaiman's Coraline and Smoke and Mirrors to read, plus I need to finish the Lovecraft book which also has At the Mountains of Madness.

I also have Guillermo Del Toro's films Devil's Backbone and Cronos here to watch as well.


Tonight's Studio 60 Line

"Thieves get rich, saints get shot, and God doesn't answer prayers a lot."


Johnny Cash's Thunderball!

The song here.

I never knew there was such a history of songs not used as James Bond theme songs. Lyrics later when I can find them.