One epic photo of the Horse Head Nebula (IC434)
Emission and dark Nebula in the constellation of Orion
Distance: 1500 light years from Earth
First discovered by the astronomer Williamina Fleming in 1888
This has been a space kind of day.
A round of Wednesday quotes. Not quotes about Wednesday, just the fact I’m posting this on a Wednesday. Only a couple of days left in the work week and a few days left until we hit October. We’ve had warm weather so far, and hopefully that’ll continue into October. On with the quotes.
“Sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.” ~author unknown
“The three greatest mysteries are water to the fish – air to the birds – and mankind to himself.” ~author unknown
“Faith moves mountains; doubt creates them.” ~author unknown
“There is no large or difficult task that can’t be divided into little easy tasks.” ~Buddhist saying
“The most important ingredient in the formula of success is learning how to get along with people.” ~author unknown
“My father is allergic to cotton. He has pills that he can take, but he can’t get them out of the bottle.” ~author unknown
- Tuesday quotables (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
Today gets a whole lot of writing love, as I prep myself for holidays. Holidays are the time to do something I want, so I often find it odd when people say “but don’t you want to get away”. That’s totally not what I want. I want to do things that I want to do, and driving or taking a bus are the least two favourite things I want to do (and let’s not even talk flying).
So, during my two weeks off (which commences this Thursday) I shall be (in no particular order):
- Hanging out in the park
- playing video games
- watching movies
- going to the beach (though, that involves driving)
- and food smattered in amongst all of that.
So, in a nutshell, I’m hoping to do some writing. Pick up and continue more of Rocket Fox and get the rewrite of Black Mask and Pale Rider started.
For now, though, here’s a couple of inspirational writing quotes.
“…the writer’s obsession – the desire to know and communicate, or, rather, to know everything so as to communicate with the greatest degree of precision.” ~Ivan Klima
- Early morning Black Mas & Pale Rider soundtrack (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
- 1. Why You Write (writegigi.wordpress.com)
- Six Rules for Rewriting | Michael Nielsen (sequenturverbe.wordpress.com)
- What No One Ever Tells You about Writing (thewritersadvice.com)
Getting a little poetical today, even if there is no rhyme nor reason to it (heh, see what I did there… yeah, yeah, I know, I’m terrible, even for pointing that out). Start things off with a well known one by Robert Frost.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
~Robert Frost, 1920
Continuing on with something more akin to a proverb. Originally, I didn’t know who this quote was attributed to. Now I can finally put a name to the words.
“It is better to look ahead and prepare, than to look back and regret.” ~Jackie Joyner-Kersee
Finally, something that could be seen as dreadful and ominous, only because of the individual who wrote it. As well, it’s very, very interesting how this is reflected in our current state of the world.
“The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position within, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.” ~H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu
Why not both? To be honest, do we have to have just art, or just science? Science and art criss cross in so many different aspects. I think I put that forward in one post I made called the science of art; the art of science. There is art in science. And, there’s a science to art. Painter, sculptors, authors, illustrators all have a wide range of tools they use. Scientists have to get creative when dealing with problems.
Art and science are not necessarily two separate areas. They compliment each other so well. My answer; both.
I took the liberty of making a few changes to the proposed cover for Rocket Fox.
I added in a bit of shading to make it appear as though Senia was standing on an observation deck overlooking Vulpinia Prime. I also managed to cobble together a back cover as well.
I’m presently working on some stills to add to the book. I’d like each chapter to have a picture, such as a shot of Vulpinia Prime to begin chapter one, the logo of the Royal Vulpine Air Corps to start chapter two and a picture of Senia Felix to begin chapter three.
Get excited for a four day weekend and all the writing you can get done is just like…
And then the realization that you have a lot of writing to do based on the plot points you want to put in and the character descriptions and scenes and you’re like…
Just a bit of fun with Photoshop.
But I took a small writing break to create another cover concept for book one of Rocket Fox: Flight of the Nighthawk.
Another writing graphic, and one of the best things I’ve read about it came from author Neil Gaiman.
Actually I suspect you can skip the first 8 if you just do the last one.
Without further ado, here’s the infographic.
Work has been coming along much better on the rewrite of Rocket Fox.
Different systems, a new start to the story, and better fleshed out. Gives more face time to each of the characters in their own chapters as well. Which means, that each act that I’ve done so far is going to end up being it’s own book (that means, I’m writing three books at the exact same time… or at least simultaneously). So, in celebration, I give everyone two animated gifs. One of Senia doing her confident walk, and the other is her version of a happy dance.
When I get a story idea, I often research. My research today: Dragons!
Read more here.
It’s interesting to look at the history around some of the legends that we have today in books, movies, and even in video games. One of these interesting aspects is the dragon.
When we often think of dragons, we have images of Celtic, Nordic or even Asian traits of the large, serpentine creatures. That’s not far off, really. The European dragon and the Asian dragon (more specifically, Chinese dragon with counterparts in Japan, Korea and other East Asian countries) may have evolved separately, but they also shared some unique attributes that possibly came from cross cultural contact in recent centuries.
In English, the word dragon is derived from the Greek drakon, meaning “dragon, serpent of huge size, water snake” and may come from the verb drakein, or “to see clearly”.
Even the Christian Bible has references to a dragon, where in the New Testament the Devil takes the form of a red dragon with seven heads to fight against the Archangel Michael. This may have produced the unfortunate aspect in fiction which depicts all red dragons as evil.
While both European and Asian dragons share aspects, they overall look and appearance of such creatures is largely different. European dragons are usually thought of having great wing spans and long, serpentine bodies with legs numbering none, two, four or more. Chinese dragons, on the other hand, resemble large snakes. In European lore, a dragon that has two back legs and no front legs is often called a wyvern. Mind you, following the discovery of fossils that described the pterosaurs, the myth of dragons may have changed to act similar in style to these ancient dinosaurs.
The word itself, dragon, comes from Old French dragon, which in turn comes from Latin draconem (draco), which in turn comes from Greek drakon, which in turn comes from Proto-Indo-European derk (which translates loosely to “to see” or “the one with the [deadly] glance”). The Greek and Latin terms can refer to any great serpent, not necessarily fictional.
The myth and lore of a mighty serpent being defeated by a heroic individual (whether mortal or deity) stretches back to the Ancient Near East, which includes Canaanite (Hebrew, Ugaritic), Hittite and Mesopotamian. This eventually entered Greek mythology and ultimately Christian mythology. Mind you, the serpent or dragon may have been a part of prehistoric Indo-European mythology, as there are comparisons in Indic and Germanic materials. Spitting cobras may actually be the origin of the mythic fire breathing dragon.
In China, dragons can be found as far back as the Shang and Zhou dynasties with examples dating to the 18th century BC.
Some animals that may have inspired dragons, besides spitting cobras, may have included the Nile Crocodile which today has a restricted range but in ancient times occasionally were found in Southern Europe. Skeletons of whales as well as dinosaur and mammalian fossils were sometimes mistaken for the bones of dragons.
Dragons have different tales based on the region. Read more about dragons in Greek, European, Chinese, India, Persian, Slavic, Jewish, Vietnam and Java cultures.
Switching things up a bit from current writing (because I can do that, and I’ve hit a brick wall… again) as I think about other stories and things I’d like to write (and even make a comic book about, whether in print or a web comic).
Dragonforce has pretty much had the kind of music that I equate to one set of characters I’ve worked on, and featured here in the past. You might know it, if you’ve read Flag On My Backpack. It’s the series about a young woman from Montreal who becomes a costumed superhero by the name of Canadienne. Basically wraps herself in the flag, inspired by the actions of her father during the October Crisis of 1970. On top of that, she happens to be the lead guitarist of an indie Montreal speed metal band called Blanc Noir. Formed while they were still in junior high school, they stuck together with the intent to make music, have fun and share their experiences together. This lasted for a while, and during that time they added a couple of different band members.
The line up now consists of Yves Manderville (lead vocals, keyboards) and Jacqueline Manderville (second lead guitar, mandoline) both of whom are of Haitian ancestry, Michelle Villineuve (percussion) the happy goth of the group, Dominique Turgeon (first lead guitar, bagpipes) who happens to be the super hero of the group as she is the one who dresses in the flag and stops crime, and now there is Raven Running Cloud (bass, classical guitar, six string) who is originally from the Whitecap Dakota First Nation in Saskatchewan, but moved with her father to Montreal when he accepted a position to teach Native American Studies at McGill. Raven is also the second super hero of the group, calling herself Grey Kestrel.
It’s a story that I’ll definitely come back to again, and while I’d really hope that the idea was picked up in comic form, I actually don’t want either of the big two taking it up. I’ve really be disillusioned with DC Comics and Marvel Comics as of late (more so DC than Marvel). There is a comic company that could do a title like Flag On My Backpack some justice, though.
Have we hit the bottom of the barrel in the movie industry? I’m just wondering that. I know that there’s a plethora of movies based on books such as Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and even such properties as Iron Man, Captain America and the Avengers, and even re-imaginings of such classic tales as Snow White, Jack and the Bean Stock that are coming out. But mixed among all of that is the slough of remakes being announced. Such as Chucky.
Remember Chucky? The demonic toy that carried the soul of executed mass murderer and then went on a rampage of killing in his new form as a doll. Well, that one’s being made.
The question to ask is why? Why make (or remake, as the case may be) a film that, when viewed again in its original format, was pretty horrible. I don’t mean horrible in the fact it was a masterpiece of horror, I mean it was horrible in the same way that a pile of garbage dumped on your front lawn is horrible. Yet, for some reason we tend to cling to these film pieces like they were an important part of history. History they are a part of, and maybe it’s that part of history that examines what kind of a culture we were back then. But they don’t need to be dragged back to life as though Dr. Frankenstein was building another monster.
But why do we feel this need to remake films like Chucky, when there’s a number of properties out there that could stand the treatment of the silver screen.
Like, for example, Wonder Woman. Her story isn’t that hard, but for some reason, producers and executives don’t know how to tell it. It’s not hard, in reality. It’s like 300, but with women (and a better story, to be honest). Wonder Woman is the story of myth and legend, reaching back to the tales of the ancient Greeks. How hard is it to find that cool? How difficult is it to create that movie? Instead, we are treated to attempts at modernizing the story, placing Diana in the modern age, either as a military personnel or the CEO of a major company.
I truly believe that the potential of a lot of really good stories is being wasted thanks to movie companies attempting to thrust tired and old story ideas, plot lines and characters upon a viewing public.
But of course, many of the really good and original ideas that are springing up now are actually quite difficult for movie companies to figure out. Because the main characters are women for the most part. Movie companies don’t know how to treat women as the main protagonist. It’s no different than the fight that was had to bring Red Tails to the big screen. It was an all black movie, with no white saviour in sight at all. “How can we tell this story” some producers might ask. I don’t know, but what I do know is you’re not even trying.
The same goes for women. Hell, I’d love to see Black Mask and Pale Rider as a feature film, but Hollywood would go insane, because not only is there one female protagonist, there’s two lead female roles. That might give them a brain hemorrhage. Could I have written the story with two male leads? Sure, but it would have been the same as every other wester, every other fantasy, and every other bromance movie that’s been done. There would be nothing new about it. With women as the lead characters, you suddenly have something different, something new, new places to go and new places to explore.
But the viewing public, it seems, fueled by Hollywood, wants to take zero risk with their entertainment. They want things that are familiar, things that take no risks, offer nothing new.
Just the same old, same old.
Have we hit rock bottom?
Science and religion have often railed against each other. At least, those who most might consider radical who would claim one is more important than the other. The same could be said of science and art. Now, bear in mind, I’m not a scientist, but I have an extreme appreciation for the complexities of the world around me to the point where it’s all staggeringly awe inspiring. So, it’s rather interesting that I found this quote over on Tumblr.
I have a friend who’s an artist and has sometimes taken a view which I don’t agree with very well. He’ll hold up a flower and say “look how beautiful it is,” and I’ll agree. Then he says “I as an artist can see how beautiful this is but you as a scientist take this all apart and it becomes a dull thing,” and I think that he’s kind of nutty. First of all, the beauty that he sees is available to other people and to me too, I believe…I can appreciate the beauty of a flower. At the same time, I see much more about the flower than he sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside, which also have a beauty. I mean it’s not just beauty at this dimension, at one centimeter; there’s also beauty at smaller dimensions, the inner structure, also the processes. The fact that the colors in the flower evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; it means that insects can see the color. It adds a question: does this aesthetic sense also exist in the lower forms? Why is it aesthetic? All kinds of interesting questions which the science knowledge only adds to the excitement, the mystery and the awe of a flower. It only adds. I don’t understand how it subtracts. Richard Feynman on the interplay of art and science – a magnificent intersection.
There is a lot of truth to this, because every aspect that goes into that flower, from how it grows and gains nutrients to how it has to rely on insects such as bees to pollinate and continue the cycle of life for the flower, even down to how it protects itself.
I’ve read the article that is linked as part of the quote. I encourage any to read it as well.
- Richard Feynman: The Pleasure of Fnding Things Out (ritholtz.com)
- The Richard Feynman Trilogy: The Physicist Captured in Three Films – - – Open Culture (richarddawkins.net)
- Physicists and Artists (callumjameshackett.wordpress.com)
- No Ordinary Genius: BBC Captures Richard Feynman’s Legacy (brainpickings.org)
This is an excellent opinion piece on how women are treated in comics. Spoiler: they’re treated badly, like objectified sexual tools.
Why you ask? Well, because I knew it would cause a ****storm, as any comics column that’s remotely controversial does, especially it seems when written by a woman. I had also decided, partway through writing She Has No Head! that I was going to take a decidedly more positive tact for the column, primarily focusing on books that are good, and what I’d like to see more of, supporting creators that are getting it right.
Read the rest of the article for a good look into sexism in comics and the fact it’s actually getting worse.
Just avoid the comments. Yes, there is a lot of really positive comments, but there’s also crap like this.
When I hear Fems argue for more representations of fat, slovenly, lazy men as love interests in female power/sex fantasy oriented Romance Novels, maybe I might give a damn about their hissy fit over superhero comics.
This is essentially about censorship. Saying bad art doesn’t deserve to exist because it offends your political beliefs is not acceptable in a free society. Maybe you wouldn’t jail an anime fan for child porn or assassinate a cartoonist for depicting Mohammed, but you are on the same side of the fence as the people who do. If only there was some sort of legal defense fund for comic books.
- Female Superhero Comic Book Art by Lynne Yoshii (geektyrant.com)
- Comic Book Six Degrees: Mystery Men to Mystery Men (goodcomics.comicbookresources.com)
Trust me, I am working on today’s episode of Rocket Fox.
In the meantime, here’s a couple of cover designs I made for the first and the third book in the series. First up, Rocket Fox: Flight of the Nighthawk.
And, second, the third book in the series which will see some heavy changes coming to it.
On February 9, 1913, a unique procession of meteors was observed from Canada, parts of the US, and in one case, off the coast of Brazil. Several streams of brilliant meteors were seen moving relatively slowly across the sky; the event lasted too long for a regular meteor sighting, but too short for a regular meteor shower, and moreover, the meteors did not, like showers, radiate from a single point in the sky. Most of North America was cloudy that day, so out of the millions of potential observers, only hundred-odd reports were made, mostly from remote locations, but there is no doubt that it happened. The meteors were accompanied by a trembling sound.
Comparing eyewitness reports and making calculations of possible trajectories, scientists have proposed a remarkable possibility: that this event, called by some the Cyrillid meteor shower, was a short-lived natural satellite of the Earth.
Learning this kind of stuff is very cool.
I’m working on a few things when my brain gets drained of words. Here are samples of Rocket Fox (Senia Felis) and a logo for this adventure so far.
I’ve been a little obsessed lately. Not in a bad way, but in a very good way. The planning of the Rocket Fox series has helped, in a large way, stir my interest in something I hadn’t thought of in a long, long time.
I’m obsessed with space.
Some might think it’s that vast emptiness of nothing, but I see it more as the opportunity to explore. That exploration either comes in the form of books or television series or movies. Even video games and art. Some of the greatest pieces of art come in the form of starscapes.
Some of those images are either composites of the Hubble telescope or images from the mind of an artist who has an idea of what some distant galaxy might look like.
Of course, there’s also been a renewed interest in watching television again. I’d grown really tired of television lately. Nothing had really piqued my interest. There was Battlestar Galactica, if only because I remember watching it as a kid, and I’ve been watching that a little bit. But I’ve also been watching a lot of the different Star Trek series. Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise. Even a few of the movies, including the most recent one.
There has also been video games, two of which include Star Trek Online (it is amazing to pilot a starship through the far reaches of the galaxy and explore) and Bioware’s Mass Effect Series. The soundtrack for the latter I find incredibly amazing, and it’s actually helped me with my own writing. Especially with Rocket Fox.
Champions Online has been helpful as well, if only to add a piece to that science fiction aspect. There is a hideout in the game that places your characters on a moon base which is well crafted and looks as though they’ll be adding to it in the near future.
This has also been giving me a little bit of hope. Hope for the future. Space exploration can be seen that way, because it’s the last great frontier of exploration. What’s out there, exactly? Well, we know what some of it looks like, but we don’t know everything about it. It is interesting to note that some recent discoveries, whether technology or announcements by NASA, were sort of predicted by science fiction.
Data pads in Star Trek look at lot like Kindles, Nooks and iPads now. A planet discovered by NASA’s Kepler Telescope looks similar to Earth like conditions, and is described in a way similar to a description of a planet in Douglas Adams‘ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
So there’s hope. Maybe one day, some one will set foot on a distant planet similar to Earth. Until then, there’s always science fiction.
- Here are 10,000 reasons to be excited about deep-space exploration [Rant] (io9.com)
- AAS Dispatch: Future NASA Telescope Could ‘Sniff’ Air of Alien Planets (space.com)
- Europe’s Orbiting Observatories Capture Stunning New Images of the “Pillars of Creation” (2012indyinfo.com)
- Hubble Telescope Reveals ‘Snow Angel’ in Space [VIDEO] (mashable.com)
- Astronomers share their galactic glories (photoblog.msnbc.msn.com)
- Oh, My Stars! (ginisnaturenews.com)
- NASA Finds 2011 Ninth-Warmest Year on Record (chimalaya.org)
- The Hubble Space Telescope Discovers the Farthest-Away Galaxies Ever Seen (pcworld.com)
- Mystery of 400-year-old supernova explosion solved – msnbc.com (msnbc.msn.com)
- Hubble Solves Mystery on Source of Supernova in Nearby Galaxy (spacefellowship.com)
- NASA’s Hubble telescope detects supernova – CBC.ca (cbc.ca)
- Rare Ultra-blue Stars Found in Neighboring Galaxy’s Hub (spacefellowship.com)
- Future NASA Telescope Could ‘Sniff’ Air of Alien Planets (livescience.com)
- Hubble telescope finds hints of ‘building blocks of life’ on Pluto (telegraph.co.uk)
- Strange new ‘species’ of ultra-red galaxy discovered (eurekalert.org)
- Gallery: The Splendor of the Orion Nebula (revolutionizingawareness.com)
- Celestial ‘Snow Angel’ Dazzles in Hubble Telescope Photo (livescience.com)
I decided to tinker and see what I could come up with for a new map for the world of Black Mask and Pale Rider. Or at least where Shani and Pania come from. In time, I’ll draw up maps for Chicago, Carrolton and Harrisburg.
Click to embiggen.
Thought this would be another addition, mostly due to the fact I was having fun with the 3D modeler and renderings I was making. The three bounty hunters will take major roles in the two prequels to Swift Fox and the Pirates of the Jackai. I even found a few decent backgrounds, some premade others direct from the Hubble Telescope.
Because I’m never satisfied, here’s another attempt. I think this is much better.