April 08, 2014

First as tragedy, again as farce.

DC killed Superman. Remember? (And then he got better.)

Marvel, not to be outdone, killed Reed Richards. (And then he got better.)

Well, I think we've reached the preposterous limit of this trend: Archie Andrews is going to die heroically.

How much you want to bet that he, too, will get better? Maybe not; they're going to end the comic too.

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March 05, 2014

Chekhov's Vial

"Chekhov's Gun" refers to a dictum from great author Anton Chekhov that if you write a scene with a gun hanging on the wall, that before your story is over someone better use that gun for something. Otherwise you shouldn't have put it in.

In one of the Freefall strips about 4 years ago, Sam stole a vial from EU and gave it to Florence. "It's a factory reset. You sniff it and it erases any direct orders your evil Human Overlords may have given you."

Ever since then I keep expecting it to get used. I'm sure it will be. But when? and for what?

I think now we're coming to that point. Florence has just learned a lot of things she shouldn't know, and eventually someone is going to give her a direct order not to reveal any of it to anyone. They may give her a lot of other orders which end up messing her up. She's going to use that vial to cancel them.

It's possible that Dr. Bowman will tell her something about the bolt-on brain design that is dangerous and not widely known, and that's what she'll be ordered to suppress. And after the override she'll tell the robots.

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March 03, 2014

Dr. Bowman -- the latest guess

It's all spoilers.


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February 27, 2014

Dr. Bowman revealed!

Freefall: Now that is a big surprise. I sure didn't expect it.

UPDATE: And now Florence knows the real reason for all the data-chaff about him.

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February 14, 2014


The most amazing event of my lifetime was the dissolution of the USSR. It's not something I thought I'd live to see, because I thought the only way the USSR would come to an end was in nuclear holocaust, which would happen to me in the US, too.

The idea that the USSR would simply collapse and vanish without causing a World War was a complete surprise.

(In case you're wondering, the second most amazing event of my lifetime was the eruption of Mt. St. Helens.)

I think the dissolution of the USSR was unexpected by nearly everyone, and once in a while I run into fiction in which it still exists. There's a USSR in Full Metal Panic, for instance, but that was nostalgia. Having a Soviet Union in the world made it a more interesting, albeit dangerous, place. FMP was written long after 1991.

I occasionally have an urge to read a book I used to own, and if it's offered for Kindle I will buy it. I just did that a couple of days ago with the so-called Giant's trilogy by Hogan: Inherit the Stars, The Gentle Giants of Ganymede, and Giant's Star. I'm reading the third one now and it has an active USSR in it. (It was written in 1981.)

He doesn't assume political stasis; he also includes a "United States of Europe". But, like almost everyone else, he assumes the permanance of the USSR. Which, of course, no longer exists.

There's a lot of that in science fiction. In the movie 2001, the shuttle that Dr. Floyd is on to go to the space station belongs to Eastern Airlines. Which no longer exists; it was one of the victims of deregulation. (Frank Lorenzo bought it and looted it in 1991.) (Oops, no, it was PanAm, which also died in 1991 because of deregulation.)

And, of course, any picture of Manhattan which includes the WTC always brings a twinge.

I suppose it's trite to say, but things change. And no one can predict which things will change. Even mountains change.

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February 13, 2014

Freefall prediction

I'm no longer worried about Florence as of today's strip in Freefall.

But I have a prediction for what's coming next:

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February 02, 2014

Clown noses in Denver

I imagine the fans in Denver are all screaming mad about now.

I'm "watching" the game via a Flash program on the NFL web site. So I see the results of each play, but I get no commentary -- and no advertisements. I tuned in just before the end of the first quarter, and I gotta say I'm not impressed.

How long before Denver's coach replaces Manning?

Seattle has scored four times so far, and Denver is completely shut out. They even lost a safety, which is embarassing.

UPDATE: Clown noses and big floppy shoes, too. After that interception they must really be screaming in Denver.

UPDATE: By the way, what was the Vegas point spread on the game?

UPDATE: And greasepaint! I wonder if Denver will even score in this game?

UPDATE: Actually, the Flash file does run an ad every once in a while. But it isn't the advertising overdose you get on TV.

UPDATE: Well, at least they're not going to be shut out. Denver has saved itself from complete humiliation.

UPDATE: Wow, what a slaughter.

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January 26, 2014

The problem of a big cast.

Sometimes a story cannot be told without a large cast of speaking parts. That's particularly common in sports stories. I think there are basically only three ways to deal with that, each of which has pitfalls.

First, you can ignore most of them most of the time. If they're opponents the risk is that they become cannon-fodder, redshirts, doomed to die (or lose) without the audience feeling anything for them. What's worse, it can make the victory by the good guys seem cheap and unimportant.

Second, you can try to give a lot of them back stories and screen time. That's what Saki did, and it fell for a different trap: you can drown in backstory. Saki spent an enormous amount of time telling backstory for opponents during the tournament, which dragged down the story telling into the mud. When I first watched it, one episode per week, I eventually gave up and stopped, waiting until the whole show was done before catching up. And when I rewatch it, I do a lot of skipping.

Third, you can split the difference: make them have characters but not very substantial ones. The drawback here is that it can make them seem like "cardboard cutouts" -- and the best way to handle that is to laugh at it. That's what they did in Girls und Panzer, and we got that cue when all the tanks got painted strange colors. "This is not a deadly serious show, folks. Go with it, have fun, because we in the production staff are having fun.

Plus, they effectively treated each tank crew at Ooarai as a single character most of the time. So Hippo team was "the history club" and all of them were into history. Duck was "the volleyball girls". Anteater was "the gamer girls". Rabbit was "the first year girls". Turtle was "the student council". Leopon was "the wrench wenches". Occasionally individual characters from one team or another would have a special role (i.e. Rommel doing a scouting mission with Yukari during the Pravda battle). And they "hung a lampshade on it" with Mallard, the discipline committee. All three girls look exactly the same except for the length of their hair, and they all had the same seiyuu. None of which was accidental; the director is goosing the audience in the ribs with it.

The big advantage of the third way is that it avoids the problems of the other two. The characters don't become redshirts, and they also don't bog down the story telling. The only characters we get backstory for are Miho, Yukari, Hana, and Mako. All we know about Saori's back story is that she's Mako's friend from way back.

Obviously there's no single best answer, but in GuP I think this one was the right choice. There was so much else they had to cover in 1 cour that they simply didn't have room for lots of backstory. And I think the story telling is paced well; it doesn't feel flabby, and there isn't anything I would consider filler, but it also doesn't feel rushed.

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January 24, 2014

Red Half-rim Glasses watch -- Lesbian Trick


Do those count? I wouldn't want to exclude any near misses...

(I don't know anything about her; I stole the image from Aroduc.)

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Wil Wheaton

Wil Wheaton has spent 25 years trying to escape from the tragedy known as "Wesley". He still acts, but his main thing these days is to be a columnist and writer.

He also has a TV show about table-top games called... "Tabletop". Since I don't own a TV, I don't know anything more about it than that. (Like, what cable channel does it run on?)

John Kovalic is a cartoonist and illustrator, and a friend of Wheaton's from way back. Yesterday Kovalic was a guest on the show.

Kovalic's main title is "Dork Tower" and he posted three cartoons about it: one two three

And that particular episode of the show was put on YouTube. I just watched it, and it was a lot of fun. It's worth a half hour.

And... what Kovalic's cartoon characters say about Anne Wheaton is absolutely true. She's stunning. And Wil Wheaton is a very lucky man. (He must be doing something right; they've been married 14 years.)

UPDATE: Wikipedia says that TableTop is a webcast. I wonder where the money comes from? It's not cheap to put together a show like that. Do they get a cut of the YouTube advertising?

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