Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dragon*Con Musings

I attended my first full four day Dragon*Con Science Fiction and Anything Else We Feel Like Convention this Labor Day weekend in Atlanta. I had gone for part of one day a few years ago, but couldn’t get into any of the sessions I wanted to, so I left. This time, I had it all planned out, maybe a bit over planned, but I had a great time, met some really fun people, attended some sessions with people I really wanted to hear about, and saw a lot of costumes, and an amazing parade. Just for fun, I also handed out little posters that my friend Bruce created for me from an idea I came up with, "Rock Out With Your Spock Out. I both handed them out and left them on tables around the con, and I took photos of some trekkies holding them. I think they went over well.

Here’s some random musings.

At every session, there will be someone who asks a really crazy stupid question. If you had a chance to ask Morena Baccarin (Queen Lizard from V) one question, would it be, “ So, hypothetical situation, you’re in traffic and someone cuts you off. You yell the name of a Peanuts character. What character’s name do you yell out?” Yep, great question. For the record, she was a great sport and said “Charlie Brown”.

Speaking of Morena Baccarin, she is one of those people who is lovely according to the inverse square law, that being, the closer you get to her, the more beautiful she gets. Her session was first thing Friday morning, and the other actors from V cancelled, so it was just her and about a hundred fans. Aside from the idiotic question above, we all had a great time. She’s also charming.

Costumes. People put insane amounts of time and effort into these. Go here to see a bunch of excellent ones.

I find that I recognize about 20 percent of the characters, understand maybe another 20 percent (generic steampunk) and the rest, I have no idea who they are trying to be. Usually I assume it’s a general character from anime or some book series or videogame that I don’t know of. The level of detail and accuracy is absolutely insane.

At least this year there were no Gollums, which I did see the last time I went. There were several, and consisted of a skinny guy in a loincloth with thinning, greasy hair, crawling around. There were plenty of Zombies. I caught one not shambling, and told him to shamble. He said “Yes, sir” in a very good zombie voice, and shambled off. POWER! Not many furries there this time, but I did see a Furry/Ghostbuster. And "Mr." B. Natural.

So I wet to sessions with people from V, Stargate, Star Trek, Warehouse 13, Firefly, Eureka, and, Mystery Science Theater 3000. But the best sessions I went to were with my evil twin (or am I the evil twin?) Adam Savage from Mythbusters. Aside from Adam, I think the best guests were Martin Gero, a writer from Stargate, and Saul Rubinek from Warehouse 13. For me, the best speakers are funny and spontaneous, and most importantly, if they are asked the same question in two different sessions, don’t just spit out the same answer twice. One of the best questions I heard in several sessions was: “Did you steal anything from the set?” Most said no, and the others were honest. Scott Bakula asked if he could have one of his costumes from Star Trek: Enterprise, and they said no. Then, at a convention in Germany, a fan came up wearing the same costume that he had asked for, which he had bought at an auction. He was very mad. Garret Wang, another Star Trek actor said: “That’s why everybody steals something from the set, and nobody asks to!” The worst guest was Jason Momoa, from Stargate: Atlantis, who wore a hat and dark glasses, answered every question with a grunt or two, and apparently fell asleep. Nice.

The best party I went to was “Nuts on the Road”, which was an improv quiz show with Adam Savage, all the MST3K folks, and the creators of The Venture Brothers, which I’ve never seen, but now I want to, because they were very, very funny. One of the games is like a debate, and this year Adam Savage was told that he had to defend “Why Psychic Powers are REAL”. He failed miserably, but was hilarious doing it. Another game involved being given a statement about yourself that is either true or a complete lie, and you have to talk about it and answer questions, and then the other team has to say whether it was truth or a lie. TV’s Frank, it turns out, has written a Cinderella musical with Katie Perry. Nobody believed it, so he won that round. I’m going to this thing every year.

Now some observations about digital cameras. This is both about “real life” and for at the convention. Digital cameras are great, but it’s very strange how they have changed everything, and not all for the good. I sat behind one person with a high end camera on a tripod with a zoom lens. She had it focused on Christopher Judge, who played Teal’c on Stargate SG1, and although there were five other people on the panel, aside from her taking a few shots of each of the other panel members, she took a picture of his face, every two seconds or so, for the entire length of the session. Not kidding. You could make a flip book out of the photos. It was very OCD. Also, I saw a guy with a similar camera on a monopod, while on a line outside the convention hotel, waiting for a session. Now, there are a lot of young ladies in costume, and he would ask them for permission to take their photograph, which is customary. Almost everyone says yes. The women sitting across the street on the steps of another hotel didn’t say yes, because he didn’t ask if he could use his zoom lens to photograph up their skirts. Creepy! Super Creepy! Finally, I gotta say that it’s annoying when people have nice equipment, but have not a clue as to how to use it. Seriously, people, if you’re fifty feet away from your subject, inside or out, TURN OFF YOUR FLASH! It does nothing but illuminate the backs of the heads of the people in front of you, under-exposes your photo, and blinding and annoying the crap out of the people sitting next to you.

But, all in all, I had a great time. I saw some great friends, and made some new friends. I saw some amazing things, and saw some things I wish that I could un-see. And I only regret one thing. I saw a woman in a chain mail bikini, and my camera phone was out of batteries. I would have asked her for a photo, because, when I attended my first Science Fiction convention, CapriCon, in Chicago in 1984, I came up with my cardinal rule of SciFiCons: “Never, ever go out with a woman in a chain mail bikini, no matter how good she looks in it. Nothing good can come of it.”

Monday, June 28, 2010

Short short story

On The Bus

By William Grewe-Mullins

I ran into myself on the bus today. One minute he wasn't there, the next he was. He didn't introduce
himself, as I immediately recognized me, and of course he remembered that. I turn out a bit
chubbier, and wrinklier with a lot more white hair, but still a lot of red, and still in a ponytail. He
had a mechanical hand.

"Still wearing the ponytail." I said.

"Shut up." I replied.

This is going to get confusing, so I'm going to refer to old me as he or him, even though it's actually

"We only have about 5 minutes," old me said, "So let me do most of the talking. I came here
because I knew you'd be here, because of the bus schedule. An easy target, as it were. First off,
have that lump on your collarbone looked at."

As soon as I promised him that I would, in the space between seconds, his mechanical hand turned
into a regular fleshy hand.

"Wasn't it cool to have a mechanical hand?" I asked old me.

"Who had a mechanical hand?" he replied.

"Well, if you didn't come here to fix your hand, what did you come here for?" I said.

"I don't know what you're talking about. I came here to tell you that in about twenty-five years, we
develop time travel, and that although it is fun and sometimes pretty cool, it's also pretty much
worthless. Before you ask, I could give you the lottery number that I have for next week's lottery,
but by the time I get back to my time, the number I brought you won't be the number that's in the
historical record, the same one that I copied to give to you. My coming back here has changed
everything just a little. Many have tried that, none have succeeded. Perhaps I did come to fix my
hand, but now that you will keep me from losing it, I never lost it. That actually makes sense." he

"Yes, that actually does make sense." I replied.

"Shut up." He said. "Historians are going to waste about five years going back into history, seeing
what actually happened at controversial points, but each time they go back to, say, JFK's
assassination, where everybody goes, they don't see the other travelers there, and every time the
scene is a little different. It's like this, Oswald is the shooter in all the scenarios we've explored, but
in some, and only in some, there is a second shooter, sometimes a third, and in one, as many as
eight, on the overpass, behind the fence on the grassy knoll, whatever, but also, the other shooters
never make the shot. Miss every time. Our theory is that there is a very narrow range of possible
outcomes, and that history always bends back towards the timeline of the original traveler's reality.
When you go there, carry an umbrella. That's the rule. You won't see anybody else with an
umbrella, although you will show up on the Zapruder film. Don't turn to the camera. Just don't. And
by the way, you can't kill Hitler, because without Hitler, no German scientists developing
electronics, without electronics, no time travel. So many have tried and failed that it's banned,
except for documentaries about how it doesn't work. The one called "Stop Trying To Kill Hitler, It
Doesn't Work" is a good one. And you can't go back to before Homo sapiens evolved. We still
don't know why, so no dinosaur hunts, although seeing the pyramids brand new is pretty awesome.
Any questions?"

"How's Patty?" I asked.

"She's fine, surrounded by dogs as usual, more dogs than you can imagine. Seriously. I think that
may be actually why I came. Don't stop playing the lottery, and only when it's over a hundred
million jackpot. Just don't. You're going to need a lot of dog food."

By the time I could say anything else, in the space between seconds, I was gone.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Beloit College Radio WBCR 1965

This was broadcast at Beloit College in 1965. I was one year old. I wasn't there, of course, I didn't get to Beloit until 1982. A lot of my friends broadcast on WBCR, but I don't think they did anything this cool. Two of the reprobates had a show called "Bad Moon Rising", which got in trouble for saying the word Noogers, which isn't even a word.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Kim Jong IL's secret weapon, revealed!

The world says he is crazy.

Crazy like a fox, perhaps.

How can the world resist?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Paging Dr. Schadenfreude

I probably should have used this image in yesterday's post. It's a fake ad that was actually used on the website of a company that just got busted for actually selling OxyContin through the internet.

A few years back, Rush "inexplicably" went totally deaf, at least for a while. That we should all be so lucky when even accidentally having to listen to him.

For years, his blowhardness would disdainfully refer to Jerry Garcia, Janis Joplin, Jimmy Hendrix, etc, as "Just another dead druggie." Then, the inexplicable became completely plicable (is that a word?) when it was revealed that Rush had become Just Another Deaf Druggie, and was a huge OxyContin addict, due to blah blah blah excuse excuse excuse. He Took Enough OxyContin That It Made Him Deaf! Sadly for us, when he went to rehab, his hearing returned, and now we have to deal with even higher levels of ignorance, arrogance and hypocrisy than ever.

Yes, I know that this is old news, but I found that picture, and it reminded me of things I wanted to say at the time. So sue me.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Conservatives are children, trying to recreate a fictional past.

There was an amazing segment on The Daily Show the other night. I can't seem to get the video to imbed in this post but please go


to see it. It very persuasively argues a point that I've been trying to put my finger on for a long time. When you watch or listen to them, remember one crucial thing:

Conservative Pundits are Children

Sure, they're OLD, at least physically, but if you really look at the way they act, and what they say, from Pat Buchanan to Rush Limbaugh to Sean Hannity to G. Gordon Liddy to Sarah Palin, to ESPECIALLY Glen Beck, they are just selfish, petulant, angry, spoiled, bullying children. They want everything to be the way they want it, right now, and if they don't get it, they will get angry and yell and stamp and cry and scream and bully and hold their breath until the country turns blue, or red. Red, I guess.

I think this partly goes back to the Reagan era, where it was proposed that all of society's ills could be traced back to the breakdown of the family that started when women thought that they should have the right to leave the home and get jobs. This was, of course, in complete opposition to the natural order of the universe, and the perfect ideal to which all society should strive towards, as presented in what they thought was a documentary about the perfect society: "Leave It To Beaver". Ever since women started wanting to be treated like actual people, society has gone straight to hell. And the only way to change it is to demand that we turn all the clocks back to whatever delusion they think that their ideal past was. Fictional or otherwise.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Star Wars - The Short Version

Here's my version of the short version of Star Wars. Please forgive me.

The movie is as you know it, until this point.


Princess Leia is led down a low-ceilinged hallway by a squad
of armored stormtroopers. Her hands are bound and she is
brutally shoved when she is unable to keep up with the briskly
marching troops. They stop in a smoky hallway as Darth Vader
emerges from the shadows. The sinister Dark Lord stares hard
at the frail young senator, but she doesn't move.

LEIA: Darth Vader, only you could be so bold. The
Imperial Senate will not sit still for this, when they hear you've attacked
a diplomatic...

VADER: Don't act so surprised, Your Highness. You weren't on any
mercy mission this time. Several transmissions were beamed to this ship by Rebel spies.
I want to know what happened to the plans they sent you.

LEIA: I don't know what you're talking about. I'm a member of the
Imperial Senate on a diplomatic mission to Alderaan...

VADER: You are a part of the Rebel Alliance...and.... wait a minute.... you seem familiar, very familiar. I'm going to use my awesome dark side of the force powers to reach into your mind and.... holy crap, you're my DAUGHTER! Your midichlorian count is off the scale, sweetie! You should join me and we will rule the galaxy as father and daughter!

LEIA: There's no way I will ever join you!

VADER: Are you sure of that?

LEIA: More sure than I've ever been of anything!

VADER: Are you really sure? I mean really really sure?

LEIA: Certain. Don't ask me again.

VADER: Oh, well. (He chokes Leia to death with his awesomely awesome dark side powers and tosses her body against the bulkhead.) That never gets old.

VADER: Lackey! Come here! Have the command crew set course for the Death Star immediately! When I used my truly awesomely majorly awesome dark side powers on Leia over there, I was able to see that that dick, Kenobi hid both my children's existence from me. If I know that jerk who chopped off my legs and my arm, and I do, he's hidden himself and my son on my old stomping ground, Tattooine. He probably hasn't even given the kid a different last name. We shall test the Death Star's planet destruct-o-beam on Tattooine. This will serve to rid me of Kenobi, the teen-age son I don't want to think about, and probably a smuggler and wookie or two while we're at it. I just don't want anything that reminds me of Padme to exist any more.... (sobs quietly through mask).



Roll credits.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

"We did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush's term"

OH FOR CHRIST'S SAKE! The levels of complete and utter self delusion among the right wing idiots never ceases to amaze me. Hey, Dana, if what you were saying were true, it would render Rudy Giuliani effectively mute. Think about it. The biggest blind spot among conservatives is that 9-11 happened on THEIR WATCH! They blew it, and 3000 people died! Then 8 months later, the shoe bomber happened. They blew it again! And he was tried in civil, not military court, so now, the hypocrites are saying that the underpants bomber needs to be treated as an enemy combatant and tried in a military court. And right away, the President admitted that on the underpants bomber, we "screwed up" and he's making sure that we do our best to untangle the rat's nest of intelligence gathering that was left behind by..... oh, I don't know who could have left such a mess.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Appalling. Truly Appalling.

PLEASE click the image to biggify.

Very interesting graph. Whenever I hear the conservative dupes saying that we have the best health care system on earth, it makes me shudder, especially when you look at a graph like this. So we pay three times more than the world average per person for health care. Is there a reflection on our life expectancy? Not so much. You would think that if we spend so much on health care, our life expectancy would be at least marginally higher than average, not just below average. Then again, maybe I'm mis-interpreting the meaning of "best health care system". Perhaps they mean "best" as in "best at generating wealth for the health care corporations". Yes, that does begin to make sense. If the main aim of the companies is to make profit, we sure do have the rest of the world beat. Appalling.