Archive for July, 2003

The Best of All Possible Fandoms

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2003

There are fandoms that are a threat, and fandoms that aren’t. When someone (namely, Seema) gets interested in X-Men or JAG fandom, I don’t worry. On the other hand, when someone (namely Jerie) gets into SG-1, I know I’ll never see that fan again.

Least threatening of all are the TV dramas and comedies like JAG or Friends. West Wing was the biggest thing there, and it seems to have come and gone. The appeal of real life is clearly dwarfed by the appeal of…dwarves. For me, a show needs the element of the surreal to hold my interest, and that seems to hold across fandom.

Fandoms based on a couple of movies combined with books or comic books (Harry Potter, LotR, X-Men), while huge, don’t scare me. I don’t see myself being tempted by that kind of fixed canon, and so I don’t worry that my favorite writers will be lured away. Maybe they will be anyway, but how long can it last? The difference between a fix every week and a fix every year is too great. Note that there is no second tier of fandoms here - other movie or book-based fandoms are either too to notice or short-lived fads.

What pushes a fandom over the edge into greatness? I think it takes a long-running TV series (or series of series) that’s about science fiction or the fantastic. So the big fandoms are Star Trek, X-Files and Buffy, with Stargate and Smallville the new contenders. They have both allure and staying power.

I’m even afraid I’ll end up in SG-1 fandom.

4096 Color Wheel

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2003

I’ve been looking for a nice 4096 color picker forever. Yesterday I found one by D10n, somone who is long 404, which was close to what I wanted. Unfortunately it didn’t work in Mozilla or Mac IE, which meant it was useless to me. After a lot of struggling with javascript events (for which and Experts Exchange were quite useful), I managed to get the script working in modern browsers.

I also changed the script to display both the nearest 4096-ed color and the true hex color. I may add added the nearest web-safe color as well. So, without further ado, click on over to the 4096 Color Wheel, Version 1.0 1.1.

Another improvement I intend to make is in the image quality and size. I’m going to make a full-color 512×512 pixel PNG to replace the rather compressed 256×256 JPG I got with the original script. eDev Cafe seems to have all the information I’ll need to do that.

For a note on web-safety of the 4096 colors, see Web Color’s 4096 Color Picker and screenshots.

Geekiness is No Excuse

Monday, July 21st, 2003

Word cound: zippo

I know what happens next in my story, but I wasn’t excited enough about it to write today’s scene. Instead, I’ve been playing with Javascript color pickers like this one. It’s an antique, so it won’t work in modern browsers, but the concept seemed cool. As far as I can tell, though, it doesn’t actually show the 4096 colors - it shows either a different set of 4096, or more than the 4096.

Speaking of antique Javascript, the moreCrayons color cube was updated to work with Mozilla a while back, and they’ve linked Eric Meyer’s color blender in their blog.

Unchained Title

Sunday, July 20th, 2003

Word count: 1055

I’ve finally put Holodeck Hero, formerly just a blog entry filk, up at Freeshell.

Seema’s entry on the neverending title rant got me thinking about my titles. For filk, the title usually comes directly out of the song, but for stories I tend toward the blunt, one-word style of title. They may not be very artsy or creative, but they have the advantage of high recognition value. “Lurking,” for example, is an easy title to remember once you’ve read the story. “The Museum” is unlikely to be confused with another fic. My titles may not be “Dark They Were, and Golden-Eyed,” but they get the job done.

You can see some typical filk and fic titles in the sidebar (if you’re at the main blog page - click the blog button if you aren’t), and as an extra updating-day bonus, the links now work!

House of the Rising Sun

Sunday, July 20th, 2003

Dark, mysterious, and clawed…

i'm in ravenclaw!
be sorted @

Well you’re one smart little cookie, aren’t you? You’re wise and clever, and just love to use your wit and learning to your advantage, and sometimes even the disadvantage of others. Well, you nerd, there IS a world outside of that copy of ‘Hogwarts: A History’, ya know.. Oh don’t worry! We all know you’re special. You’re just a naturally good learner, right? *mummble mummble* Not too much is known about your house right now.. Wow! You’re not only intellegent, you’re also an enigma!


Sunday, July 20th, 2003

Evolution should not be mistaken for a novel, though it exists in the same ecological niche. Stephen Baxter’s latest is at best a series of short stories set at turning points in the evolutionary history of man. I say “at best” because only a few of the chapters cover primates intelligent enough to count as the protagonists of a real story.

That’s not to say that the adventures of mole-sized proto-primates aren’t engrossing in their own right, but Evolution is naturalistic fiction with a vengeance. The attention to excretion alone is staggering. The cumulative effect is to make one embarrassed to be Homo sapiens, and as the violent, weary, feces-filled history of man progresses, suicidal.

The story doesn’t end with anatomically modern man, but don’t hold your breath for the singularity - in Stephen Baxter’s dystopic vision, you and I are as good as it gets. If you thought the Dark Ages were a bad scene, wait until you see the year 500,000,000.

One of the more striking chapters of the “novel” is a Planet of the Apes-style scene of a group of modern humans accidentally awakening from cryosleep long after a worldwide collapse. Rodents are on the rise and mankind has already lost the gift of speech. The latter is highly unlikely in general and not particularly believable the way the author does it, but it’s not the worst offense of the chapter. In a proper novel, the band of Rips van Winkle would have gone forth and taught the feral humans to be human again, or died trying. You can’t just give up on the entire species - if you’re the last intelligent form of life in the universe, you have to try to do something about it.

But they don’t, and thus they seal the fate of Homo sapiens. Other interesting moments include the birth of religion (it’s founded by a madwoman) and an intelligent dead-end on the dinosaurs’ evolutionary tree (published elsewhere as a short story). There are a few almost cheerful moments of technological discovery involving flint and canoes, but these are outweighed by the heartless murders of a Neanderthal and a Roman.

I had my doubts about Stephen Baxter back when I read Manifold: Origin, but now I wonder why he writes at all. Yes, I’ve been known to let the Borg assimilate the Alpha Quadrant, but when I wipe out mankind, I do it for the tragedy. He seems to have done it because he believes feces and decay are not a tragic flaw in our higher nature - they are our nature. Evolution is not a tragedy; it’s a horror story.

The only thing worse than horror is unintentional horror.

Filk is Everywhere

Thursday, July 17th, 2003

Word count: 1055

Come on, everybody’s doing it! You too can filk like Lori. All it takes is a midi and the Lycos Rhyming Dictionary.

Many thanks to Lori for this link to the Pirates’ Keyboard.

Smeagolian Rhapsody

Wednesday, July 16th, 2003

Word count: 924

As I was catching up on my newsgroup reading earlier this week, I was surprised to find that a filk had been posted to rec.humor.funny: Smeagolian Rhapsody. Nor is this the only work of the unique filker MC Smeagol. I hope he can provide you with a few moments of amusement while I’m busy writing dear departed Seska into my retro leather-clad VOY fic.

Species 2461

Tuesday, July 15th, 2003

Word count: 106

I don’t think this was the first time someone emailed me about Species 2461, Icheb’s alleged species as listed at the library. I don’t think had a Borg Species List back when I first compiled my version, and I don’t particularly trust them not to make up species that were never actually mentioned in canon. Nevertheless, I have added 2461 to the list with an appropriate disclaimer.

It’s not canon unless it happened on-screen. Not that I’ve watched all those episodes - I just searched through Jim’s Reviews for the word “species.” That’s how I managed to get the facts of Species 571 wrong - I had it listed as Lansor’s species from “Survival Instinct” but just now I was going over Jim’s Review of the episode with a fine-tooth comb for an AU I’m writing, and figured out that P’Chan was 4 of 9 and Lansor 2 of 9. (Lansor’s species isn’t named or numbered at all, that I can tell.) Marika is the important member of the trio, but I think I should make an effort to add some character to the two I couldn’t tell apart.

So I stopped at 100 words, an order of magnitude short of my daily goal, to figure out who belonged to Species 571, that it wasn’t Lansor, and then to correct the Borg Species List and to upload the corrected version to the old host and here. I’d forgotten just how time-consuming story research can be. I already have doubts this story will be done in time for the contest deadline.


Monday, July 14th, 2003

Word count: holding steady at zero

The cat and I watched Unbreakable tonight. She was unimpressed, but I was blown away, which means this entry will be very similar to those for Signs and The Sixth Sense. Once again, I knew something odd was going on, and in the end that slight tickle of a breeze turned out to be a baseball bat headed straight for my temple.

But in a good way. M. Night Shyamalan is superhuman - with just one reluctant superhero, he makes the X-Men movie machine look…well, like a comic book. In fact, he makes 99% of movies look like comic books; I wish I understood, or could express, how.

One thing in particular I wonder: could his sort of surprise ending could be done in a novel, or is essentially a visual effect? I was trying to think of an example of a surprise ending in literature; the best I could come up with was mysteries, but even then you always know that the truth will out, and that the genre practically demands that it be a shocker. That’s not quite the same as being lulled into thinking you have a handle on this movie, right up until the moment baseball bat meets temple.

I have a new story idea, so I should be back to writing by tomorrow. The story already has a theme and several other goals - I want it to answer my Leather-clad challenge and to be ready in time for Die J/C Die Phase II, but I think a surprise ending could be squeezed in there somehow. I just need to figure out what that ending is.