While looking for something completely different I found this nifty fictional fact sheet. I still marvel at being able to forget the things I've created. If you have no idea what this is talking about then you need to read my books. Ha! #ShamelessPromotion, but you are the one on my website so I think it's okay.
Del Toro Does it Right
I just watched Pacific Rim again the other day. And once again I am so impressed by how unpretentious the movie is. I already have an affinity for giant robots and dinosaurs so this is the perfect cross over film. But it is unabashedly just giant robots beating up giant monsters and del Toro does it so well. Even so, it doesn't beat a dead horse in this area, unlike some other giant robot movies that shall remain nameless.
The other nice element is that the relationship between the male and female lead doesn't ever degenerate into romance. I only say degenerate because if I'm going to a movie about giant robots I don't want to watch humans flirting or kissing or being forced into any other completely unnecessary situations. Unlike some other giant robot movies that shall remain nameless.
I was reading the Wiki page on the movie and learned how del Toro structured the plot around the character arcs between each set of charcater relationships. It made me realize why he is such a great director and why his movies are so good. There is a thoughtfulness to the cause and effect of each scene. There are not arbitrary scenes for sake of some ridiculous need to blow shit up, unlike some other giant robot movies that shall remain nameless.
I'm not saying it's an academy award winner but, unlike some other giant robot movies that shall remain nameless, it is worth your time and your money.
You can read my review here.
Reality's a Fallacy
You chose the reality you live in. Every person on the planet has this power. Imagine a glass of water that contains a liquid equal to half its volume. This glass of water is often presented to us with only two options. Now which option you chose does give some indication of the reality you’re living out of but I think there are more than two ways to think about this glass of liquid.
~Philosophically, there is no glass.
~Symbolically, what does it mean to me the observer?
~Scientifically, what is it, exactly?
~Politically, how can I use this glass and its contents to my advantage?
~Mathematically, half empty is equal to half full; it is the same amount of liquid in ratio to the volume available.
~Physiologically, it will refresh no matter how much there is.
~Sardonically, what’s with the stupid glass, aren’t there better things to talk about.
SIDE NOTE: If we're going to get literal, the glass is completely full of something unless it's in a vacuum.
There are more options I’m sure but you get the idea. We are limited only by our own perceptions. Get unreasonable.* What are you going to do with that glass and its contents?
*"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
Origin Story: Elbie
People sometimes want to know where I got my idea for the Elbie. It’s simple really. I wanted a totally non-carbon based life form. Pure energy. And I mean pure. When I tell people this they say, “What about the Drej from Titan A.E.?” While the Drej display a level of fluidity they still have bodies and need machines. While the movie never goes into it, they definitely have a sense of government and culture, otherwise they couldn’t be as organized as they are. Don’t get me wrong, I like the Drej, but pure energy they are not.
Seeing in how these aliens (soon to be Elbie) are made of pure energy, energy has rules. The most famous of all is: Energy can be neither created nor destroyed. I think this familiar mantra is what gave me the idea of Elbie transferability. First thing I did; took out a piece of paper and wrote down what those rules were.
With about ten of these rules, I took my first run at this world in 2001. After thirty or so versions I have got it pretty refined now how the Elbie work and what they are like. Then again, with the second draft of book two about to be wrapped up, I am discovering new ways to experience Elbie.
A lot of the Elbie attributes and how they operate in our world are written out on the DPA website and Twitter feed. I had one friend ask if we could send people into space to harvest more Elbie for commercial purposes. I told him I didn't see why not, but since we can barely break orbit, that story will have to wait. If you have questions about Elbie and how they work send me an e-mail or Tweet me.
Just the Facts
Today I had the opportunity to share about my book on West Coast Live. The host, Sedge, has questions about how the Elibe work. Some of the most common questions I get from people are about the Elbie. So far it seems my readers fall into two camps, one group that is interested in the aliens and the other is interested in Lysandra & Esben. If there are any other groups out there I would love to hear from you.
So since these stories exist to show how Elbie interact with people I thought I would just give you a quick reference guide. If you have any follow up questions please send me an e-mail or find me on Twitter.
Elbie=LB=lightning bug, for the light they emit. Elbie are a form of pure energy not native to Earth.
Elbie can transfer from human to human easily. An Elbie will switch hosts many times until they find a person that they can work with.
Elbie can inhabit any person but not every person is compatible.
Usually Elbie stay in the brain where there's the most electrical activity but they can stay in any part of the body.
Anyone can be a host, but the chances are slim. There are 89 designations in one collective and 6 billion+ humans. We know of 3 collectives.
Elbie do not have any religious beliefs of their own.
Elbie are not good or evil. They do not have morality.
Elbie do not have personalities. They conform to the disposition of their host and may carry residual traits from their last host.
Elbie do not have emotions. They can experience the emotions of their host and in some cases may influence emotions.
Elbie do not have personal names, they go by their designation in the hierarchy. Some choose to adopt the name of their host.
Elbie have no way of holding memory on their own. Only with a host can they recall impressions of their past.
Some Elbie have been on Earth for hundreds of years and have had many hosts.
Being A Good Host
As a host you would have better subconscious awareness.
As a host you can get deep restful sleep while still being fully aware of your surroundings.
Being a host would not increase your intelligence just the ability to use your brain to its highest potential.
When you're a host you may experience memories, cravings, or interests that you didn't have before, these are from your Elbie's prior host.
Hosts can experience increased physical strength, accelerated healing, and improved cognitive function. Effects will vary.
If their host is feeling tired an Elbie can give them a controlled boost of adrenaline for extra energy.
A host's body temperature is a few degrees higher than a non-host.
Elbie can help with your metabolism, thyroid, insulin, serotonin, anything related to the endocrine system. Increase white blood cells too.
To accelerate healing Elbie travel along the nervous system to the wound, speed up cellular growth while activating the proper chemical mix.
Elbie can signal to your body to create more white blood cells or antibodies to preempt sickness.
Most people can only handle 1 Elbie at a time. Some people can carry 2 but it is much more straining.
Elbie can also be like an internal health monitor that can make adjustments when needed to keep body temperature and chemicals in balance.
Being a host is like having a co-pilot in your head but since they don't get human behavior most of them make terrible wingmen.
Re: Elbie as wingman. Elbie can help a host out by producing extra pheromones that would make their host seem more attractive.
Code of Conduct
Elbie who work with the DPA agree to a strict code of conduct when dealing with their hosts and non-hosts.
Elbie under the COC will relinquish control if the host wants it at any time. Elbie are the guest, the host is doing the Elbie a favor.
Elbie under the COC agree to share control with their host. Decisions are mutually agreed upon between the person and the Elbie.
Elbie under the COC agree to stay with one host. They will not transfer to another person, even if temporarily, without notification to us.
The Elbie COC dictates an Eblie must have explicit permission to transfer to another human for any reason.
This Code of Conduct cannot be enforced outside of the DPA but we do ask all registered hosts to consider adopting it for their own safety.
Gifted - A short story
The innocuous looking box sits on the corner of David’s desk, perfectly aligned to the edges. He likes it when his PA does that. The shipping label is nondescript and gives no indication of what company it is from or what kind of products they offer. Completely inert and yet he feels his blood pressure rising at the thought of its contents.
David doesn’t believe in destiny. Such mystical notions are childish. Feature articles, podcast interviews, blog posts, and personal appearances all tout his brilliance and his quiet climb to power from a humble patent clerk to the Director of the Unites States Patent and Trademark Office in only a matter of months. The American dream prescribes nothing more than hard, honest work and you will be rewarded with a rich and fulfilling life. Whenever someone bestows accolades on him for his forward thinking and innovative genius this is the line he gives them.
When asked, he claims to have done nothing extraordinary. He makes decisions and takes risks that make sense in their context. It’s what anyone would do given the same information and options. It is a source of constant bafflement to him. It’s all so obvious and natural to David. One step leads to the next logical step, then another, and so on. Simple. All the fuss and analysis really is unnecessary.
David had spent years as a clerk, doing the work set before him, never looking for anything more than the next stack of documents to file, his next paycheck, the next government mandated holiday. All “I”s were dotted and all “T”s were crossed. Then one day he took a step back and he could see the whole picture and not just the one square inch allotted to him. And for the first time in his life he had decided to do something about what he saw, to be the agent of change in the world, as suggested by greater men.
But in truth it wasn’t just any day. There is a specific day. At the time it seemed trivial. Shocking, but trivial. But the change in him, and his life, seemed inextricably linked to an incident so odd, so very unexplainable that they have to be linked. He doesn’t like thinking that this is the case and he tells himself it was coincidence, but it has never let him go.
It was the same as any other day because that was how he liked it. Order. Routine. No surprises. At the time he had had the same address for forty years. The same barber for fifteen. The same alarm clock since he was in college. He called his sister every Sunday at 6pm. He wrote his nephew once a month. He paid his bills as soon as they were due and he never answered the door unless the person had called ahead. The postman knew to use a special knock.
Leaves were changing from bright summer green to yellow as autumn settled in. He had his lunch in the usual place, a small park across the street from the office. Right bench, right side, in case someone else wanted to sit on the same bench. But they never did. Turkey, cheddar, mustard, no mayo. When he was feeling adventurous it would be Monterey Jack instead. Otherwise his lunch was as predictable as his schedule.
As he ate his sandwich and thought about the order of actions he would take after lunch, a woman walked into the small park. Her short, platinum hair that had been purposely disheveled as indicated by its resistance to the breeze that rustled some leaves across the cobblestone path. She walked, crossing her steps one over the other in the most absurd way as she came toward him, slowly and with purpose, eyes locked on him.
Her hands were tucked into the pockets of the long brown coat she wore, the fur collar framed the bottom of her porcelain face. Her high heeled boots clicked on the cobblestone as she walked right to the bench he sat on. She smiled. He couldn’t be sure, but it seemed like a mischievous smile. The smile of a rabble rouser.
He looked around of course. There had to be something else of interest in the area. No woman had ever looked at him his whole life and now here was this... person giving him direct eye contact. She sat down next to him. Not on the other side of the bench, as he would have done, but one inch from him. He could smell the buttery softness of her authentic leather coat and the acidity of her hair product.
He continued to eat his sandwich, the sound of his chewing amplified in his ears. Maybe she didn’t like sitting alone. Perhaps she was in danger and sitting with another person made her feel safe, but she should call the police if that was the case. He was not capable of heroics, never had been. The thought of being in imminent danger made his hands shake. Why did this woman have to choose him, he was of no consequence.
He couldn’t take it. No one ever came to this little park and now it was about to be a crime scene. He shoved his half eaten food into the insulated bag he had and leaned forward to stand up.
“Wait.” The woman touched his arm. Her long, elegant fingers compelled him to stay. He didn’t know why. The tone of her voice, maybe, like a summer afternoon, warm and inviting. “Are you David Dresher?”
Her voice was hypnotic, curious and kind, but also commanding. He blinked at her. Her hand slid down his arm and rested on top of his. Her palm was hot, as if she had just been holding a fresh cup of tea. He shivered. She smiled, burgundy lips curving up at the corners in amusement. “Please tell me I’ve found the right person.”
He had never been one for words, but now he found he was completely devoid of them. David nodded his head.
“Good.” Her smile widened. “I have something for you.”
This was it, David thought. She has a gun. Or worse, a knife. I don’t want to die. His brain had failed him, neither flight or fight had kicked in, he was paralyzed, stuck to that park bench like he was a part of it.
The woman leaned into him. Her hand moved to his cheek. She turned his face toward her and pressed her lips to his. The fur from her collar tickled his chin. The world burned white hot as he tried to absorb what was happening to him.
He had been kissed once before, by a girl in his music class. They say next to each other every day, sharing the same music stand as they played clarinet. They had been practicing in one of the sound proof rooms for an upcoming concert. They were the only clarinetists and there was to be a ten bar solo, they both wanted it to be perfect. He was the better player and he had stayed after school to give her pointers. Just before leaving she hugged him and kissed him on the cheek. It was so sudden he didn’t know what to do. She giggled and waved at him as she rushed out the door leaving young David in a daze.
A digital beeping snapped him out of the memory. He looked down at his calculator watch. Lunch was over. He looked around. He was alone. Not only that, he had his sandwich in his hands, paused midway to his mouth. He threw the sandwich in the garbage and rushed back to work, deciding he would call his doctor right away and get some tests done. Hallucinations of that magnitude could only be the result of a brain tumor.
As usual he went into the bathroom to wash up before returning to his tasks. Focused on his hands, he made sure he soaped between each finger and past his writs. He looked in the mirror to see a burgundy imprint on his lips. A sudden drumming pounded in his ears, he felt light headed. It was real, it had happened. That woman had kissed him and disappeared, quite literally. He had not seen her leave. He took a paper towel and wiped the pigment from his lips and used extra soap just in case.
As he returned to work something happened. People looked at him. Some of them even smiled. “Good lunch?” Eric from accounting clapped him on the back as he past him in the hallway. “Beautiful sweater.” Shelly from HR commented as she cruised by his cubicle. Anyone who walked by him said something or did something. Friendly gestures and casual comments had not been part of his prior interactions with his co-workers. Usually they looked past him like he was an apparition that haunted the hallway but now they took notice of him.
He called his doctor anyway. Diagnosis, negative. More than negative. Since his last check up, less than six months ago, his blood pressure was down and his insulin levels had evened out. He told no one what had happened and never returned to that park again. He didn’t need to. The friendly gestures and casual comments led to actions. People asking him out to lunch and he accepted, with reluctance at first. Within a few short months he had friends. There were people in his life who wished him happy birthday and asked him to their house for celebrations. That day in the park had been a turning point. It was strange to think that a kiss from a beautiful stranger had changed so much. It was just a kiss after all.
Or so he tells himself when it creeps into his thoughts. Thinking back on those days it’s like he is watching another person living that life. He feels no association to the man he had been. What matters is who he was now.
After cutting the tape he peels back the four sides and looks down on a pile of biodegradable foam pellets. Dipping his hands into the pile his fingers find another box within. A smaller silver box shimmers with an electrical current as he brings it closer.
He sits down at his desk and sets the box in front of him. This technology has been available for some time but it was only until now that he found the resolve to acquire it. After taking a deep breath he flips up the lid. He feels pressure throbbing in his temples.
A shining silver bracelet gleams under the florescent lighting. There are no markings of any kind just a band of black that runs around its center. A small card wedged into the lid reads: DPA Certified Technology.
The item is not from the Department of Planetary Affairs directly but it has passed their standards which are the highest in regards to these matters. Certainty is what David wants. The banishment of doubt is what he is looking for.
No matter how many times he thinks it through or the number of possible explanations he can devise for the changes in his life he always comes back to the same conclusion: Elbie.
He does not display any of the usual signs of a host; accelerated healing, interference with electronics, or waking visions. No one ever mentions self-confidence or a social life as side effects of being a host but there is no other way to know for sure.
He is ready for the truth.
He takes his sweater off first. It is too hot in his office. He will have to tell his PA to check the thermostat.
Just put the band on. In a few minutes he will know that all he is today is something he had found within the depths of himself or is the result of an outside entity that has been planted there by a beautiful blonde.
David takes the item out of the box and slips it over his wrist. Blue for Elbie-free, red for not. He snaps the ends shut.
He takes a deep breath and closes his eyes. Does knowing change anything? What will he do if he has one? Will he register or ask for it be removed? His life has only improved over the years. He is the same person he was ten years ago, just more involved with his world.
His mind fills with burning white heat, like the center of new born star. He can hear the blood rushing in his ears. He opens his eyes. The silver band is settled in its silver box. David closes the lid. He will have his PA return it to the company this afternoon. This is who he is and there is no changing that.
When people find out that I am an avid Transformers fan the first thing they ask me is if I liked the Michael Bay movies.
The movies are loud and overblown. The battle sequences are SO LONG. And they are so heavily military. Having said that, my biggest issue with the movies is true of almost any manifestation of these robots, too many humans. Except for Beast Wars there are always meddling people getting in the way. The 3rd MB atrocity was the one most focused on the relationships between the Cybertronians. It also borrowed from G1 story lines. Mostly "Ultimate Doom" which was about using the space bridge to bring Cyberton into Earth orbit. But any true fan would have giggled at Megatron booting Lincoln from his seat like in he did the episode "Atlantis Arise." I digress.
More than anything else is Michael Bay's insistence on appealing to immature male humor. It is insulting and irksome. The 2nd movie is a travesty regarding this. It's only redeeming value was Optimus Prime in IMAX during the forest battle. I nearly cried.
Despite all these flaws there is one thing the movies do. The keep the franchise alive. I got to ride the 3D experience at Paramount because of it. There is a steady supply of creative and unique t-shirts available all the time. Comic books, art, even G1 replica toys. It's heaven for a fan like myself. So NO I don't like the movies but YES I am glad they exist. I own them all and I will be going to the 4th one. Hopefully they have learned their lessons, but I doubt it. Doesn't matter either way because I get to keep feeding my obsession due to their existance..
I have lived in San Francisco for 10 years. For all ten of those years on Halloween I stay home. If you are not familiar with Halloween in San Francisco let me just tell you that my first year here people were shot and killed.
Now I do not make a habit of letting fear dictate my actions. In reality I do not go out on most holidays because I do not like crowds, much less drunk crowds. Add on top of that the affinity for pot in this city and the over the top costumes. Having gun fire as well just tells me my instincts to avoid the whole affair all together were correct.
However, I will be out there tonight. On the streets, in the underground train cars with all that craziness for one reason. Ender’s Game.
I can’t wait until Saturday and it starts at a decent hour. So for the first time ever I will brave the streets of San Francisco, at night, and on Halloween so that I can see a movie I have been waiting for for years. It is the first time and depending on how things go tonight, it could be the last. We’ll see.
REVIEW - Pacific Rim
I was on the fence with this one. Michael Bay has made me hate over the top, explosion fests. Vapid. BUT this is Guillermo del Toro we're talking about here. I LOVE HIS MONSTERS! Both Hellboy movies were great. Clash of the Titans reboot, not so much, but the monsters were cool. It's half the reason I own Pan's Labyrinth.
This movie is exactly what you think it is. I love that there was no pretending it's the movie of the year. The taglines touts with childlike enthusiasm- "Go big or go extinct" and "To fight monsters we created monsters." I chose this image to the right because it's a nod to Jaws, the first summer blockbuster. Summer blockbusters are meant to be fantastical and out of this world and I think that Pacific Rim does exactly that.
February 2008. I went from one used book store to the next and could not find a single, beat up copy of Ender’s Game.
A fellow student in one of my writing classes had recommended that I read it (three years prior) and now it was on my brain it and nowhere to be found. The fact that I could not find it used anywhere told me it was probably okay to buy brand new, so I did, and it wasn’t the first time.
I read it in February, then again in April, and I think in October and December too. I read Ender’s Game at least once a year. I found it in the regular sci-fi section, but the cool versions are always in the young adult section. [I’m not usually a fan of adults reading young adult books, but a good book is a good book no matter what the target demographic is.]
As a writer I always try to figure out what makes a book work. Why do people love certain worlds and not others? Orson Scott Card has accomplished two things with Ender’s Game. He does a really good job at keeping you riveted through Ender’s personal trials and dilemmas. And of course Ender himself is the big draw. His inner struggles, while trying to grow up under such and extreme and intense environment is done so well. It rings true. As if growing up wasn’t already hard enough, throw on top of that an impending intergalactic war. Geez, talk about raising the stakes. Even though it takes place of several years the pacing is just right.
Ender’s Game is the first of a series. The rest happen when Ender is an adult and I love adult Ender even more than young Ender. Speaker for the Dead and Xenocide are both really excellent. With each book Card wrestles with a different moral question which plays out in the most fascinating ways. Children of Mind you have to read just to see what happens to everyone, but all the really great stuff happens in the first two. There is a fifth book, Ender in Exile, but it was added much later and is really for filling in the gaps in Ender’s growing up.
I will be at the midnight showing of the movie. When I saw Inception and the sequence where they fight in the hallways as it was turning, I thought immediately of the battle room and hoped one day to see this book on the big screen. November 1st is a long ways away.
If something comes up, I'll put it here, otherwise find me on FB and Twitter.