LepreCon 41 post-game!

Previously, on The Fog of Ward:

At least some of you likely noted a dearth of activity since late last week. Part of that was due to my being heads-down on the novel-in-progress, but a big chunk of my time was devoted to my being in Phoenix, Arizona in order to attend my first-ever LepreCon!

It was my first time being invited to a convention as Guest of Honor, and I have to say that my bar for treatment at cons has been raised. I could get used to the concubines, vodka tap right above my bed, massages on demand, and other perks.

Okay, most of that probably only happened in my own head. Moving on….

Kevin attended to con with me, ostensibly as my “assistant” but in reality as a full-fledged participant in con panels and other activities. Three full days of fannish shenanigans saw to it that I was never bored, which is good because it was something like eight thousand degrees outside. I’m pretty sure I saw a jack rabbit with its own canteen, at one point.

Our invitation was courtesy of a joint venture between the con itself and the fan group United Federation of Phoenix, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Other guests attending the convention were Jennifer Brozek, David Gerrold, Larry Hama, Ken Kelly, Camille and Kennerly Kitt, and Victor Moreno. The con was big enough that there was plenty to do, and yet small enough that there was time to talk or just hang out.

I got to talk guns and Korean soap operas with Ken Kelly. That happened.

I got to talk writing with Jennifer Brozek. Plots are developing. Scheming is underway.

I got to talk music with Camille and Kennerly Kitt, aka, “the Harp Twins,” who brought down the house with several mini concerts scattered throughout the weekend.

I got to talk G.I. Joe and writing with Larry Hama. The dude’s been working non-stop pretty much the whole time I’ve been alive. So, one learns to shut up and just listen. Also? He invited us to horn in on what may well be the first dessert offering that is visible to the naked eye from orbit.

I got to talk Star Trek with David Gerrold. This alone was worth the price of admission. As with Larry, he also provided the equivalent to a master class on writing prose or for Hollywood, if one pays attention.

I got to talk fannish things with fans, who of course are the reason we do these things in the first place. To say that the con and the UFP welcomed us with open arms would be a criminal understatement. I made some new friends, and I had tremendous fun. It truly was a great way to spend a weekend.

So, to the staff, volunteers, and attendees of LepreCon 41, I extend my sincere thanks and appreciation for a fantastic con. Thank you for having us, and I can only hope we held up our end of the deal.

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Happy Birthday, Indiana Jones!

Today marks the birth date of Dr. Henry Walton Jones, Jr., famed archaeologist, renowned professor, traveled adventurer, and all around nice guy.

If ever you need an historical artifact or object of the occult located and liberated from uptight French rivals, scheming Nazis or commie graverobbers, he’s your man.

If you’re starving in some backwater village and worried about some ancient voodoo rocks rather than finding a decent sandwich shop, this is the dude you call.

If you’ve got alien bodies that need studying before they’re whisked away to secret military warehouses, he’s good at that, too.

If you want someone to show you the folly of bringing a sword to a gunfight, he’s got it covered.

Indiana Jones: July 1, 1899 – ???

Smart, tough, resourceful, and ruggedly handsome. There are so few of us.

Were he still alive, he’d be 116 today.

On the other hand, he did drink from the Holy Grail, so maybe he is still alive? Hmmmmmmm?

(Indiana Jones, circa 1992)

You just never know about these things.

So, just in case…Happy 116th Birthday, Dr. Jones!

Posted in fandom, nerdity, tributes | 1 Comment

LepreCon bound!

If anybody’s looking for Kevin and me for the next four or five days, we’ll be hanging out in balmy Phoenix, Arizona. Why? Because LepreCon, people!

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That’s right! We’ll be hanging out with the likes of Jennifer Brozek, David Gerrold, Larry Hama, Ken Kelly, Camille and Kennerly Kitt, Victor Moreno, and a party of favorites. Kevin and I will be doing panels and signings throughout the weekend, and generally making nuisances of ourselves. In and around all of that, I’ll be busy driving toward my deadline for the 24 novel. Should make for an entertaining weekend, amirite?

So, if you’re in or near the Phoenix area and looking to get your geek on, come around and say “Howdy!”

Posted in cons, fandom, nerdity | 2 Comments

Happy 40th Anniversary, Jaws!

Y’all know me. Know how I earn a livin’. I’ll catch this bird for you, but it ain’t gonna be easy. Bad fish. Not like going down the pond chasin’ bluegills and tommycods. This shark, swallow you whole. Little shakin’, little tenderizin’, an’ down you go. And we gotta do it quick, that’ll bring back your tourists, put all your businesses on a payin’ basis. But it’s not gonna be pleasant. I value my neck a lot more than three thousand bucks, Chief. I’ll find him for three, but I’ll catch him, and kill him, for ten. But you’ve gotta make up your minds. If you want to stay alive, then ante up. If you want to play it cheap, be on welfare the whole winter. I don’t want no volunteers, I don’t want no mates, there’s just too many captains on this island. Ten thousand for me by myself. For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing.”

June, 20th, 1975: The day everybody started reconsidering their summer beach vacation plans.

Based on Peter Benchley’s 1974 novel of the same name, Jaws essentially paved the way for what we now know as the “summer blockbuster event” movie. Forty years to the day after its initial release, the film really does hold up very, very well (yes, even considering what is obviously a fake shark.). What makes up for the sometimes scary/sometimes goofy-looking shark itself is the screenplay, keen directorial choices made by then-journeyman filmmaker Steven Spielberg, a landmark, haunting, and timeless musical score as delivered by veteran composer John Williams, and the razor-sharp performances of lead actors Roy Scheider (police chief Martin Brody), Robert Shaw (the salty sea fisherman Quint), and Richard Dreyfuss (oceanographer Matt Hooper).

As for the shark, Spielberg, owing to persistent malfunctions with the model and perhaps planning for the worst while hoping for the best, elected to keep the shark “behind the curtain” for most of the film. He waits until the one-hour or so mark to provide the first teasing glimpse, when it attacks a boater near the Amity beach. Even then we only get a fleeting look at the creature’s head before the camera cuts away, and we’re left to consider just how frikkin’ big this thing really is. It’s not until the pivotal moment twenty minutes later, when Brody is tossing chum into the water behind Quint’s boat, the Orca, that the shark reveals itself to the boat’s crew, and us, and provides what is arguably the most memorable line of the entire movie: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

There are a few things which obviously date the film, such as fashion, automobiles, and the like. Speaking of clothes, actor Murray Hamilton as Amity mayor Larry Vaughn gets my vote as worst-dressed dude in a movie not featuring RuPaul. Holy Shit on a Ritz Cracker…that multi-colored pinstripe number? I still have nightmares about going to prom wearing something like that. Still, such things are easy to dismiss when we’re talking about a film that’s able to transcend the era in which it’s made. For such movies, I simply consider them period pieces, and enjoy.

Yeah, these days we know that much of the shark’s behavior is wholly at odds with the way sharks really act, but we don’t care. It’s still a riveting story of man facing off against one of nature’s perfect creations; the consummate eating machine which goes about its singular purpose with simple, brutal efficiency. As for the lead characters, Scheider brings what would become his patented “every man” approach to the role of Brody, a regular joe caught up in a ridiculously extraordinary situation. Richard Dreyfuss is our translator as Hooper, explaining the shark’s actions and drive to do what it does, and providing much of the comic relief in the film’s latter half. Robert Shaw offers up an assload of quiet menace to his performance as Quint, and his recounting of the U.S.S. Indianapolis sinking and its aftermath is quite simply one of the most bone-chilling monologues in cinema, period.

Jaws did phenomenal business during the summer of 1975, and continues to be listed among the best films ever made by whoever bothers to make such lists. As for what came after? A sequel was inevitable, especially considering one of the producers involved with the film, Richard D. Zanuck, was the head of 20th Century Fox Studios when the original Planet of the Apes was made and greenlit the first of the sequels to that film (Hey, the man knew how to capitalize on an idea). What about the Jaws follow-ups? Jaws 2 is a serviceable if largely unremarkable sequel, the only saving grace of which is the always watchable Roy Scheider reprising the role of Brody. The less said of the subsequent two films, Jaws 3-D and Jaws: The Revenge, the better.

No. We’re not talking about those films here. Ever.

There have been rumors circulating for a while now that a remake of the original film is in the works (in 3-D, even). Whether this might be a straight-up retelling of the film itself, or a new take on Benchley’s original novel never seems to crop up during such mindless blathering. So far as I’ve been able to tell, cooler heads at Universal have prevailed in this regard, at least so far. Perhaps they’re worried about Steven Spielberg’s continued association with the studio (via Dreamworks), and the belief that he might aggressively fight any attempts at a remake, along with making miserable the lives of as many Universal execs as he’s able. In a world that’s given us Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus and Sharknado, I’m content for studio folk to leave this one well enough alone.

Yep, even after all these years, the original Jaws remains an eminently rewatchable film.

Posted in fandom, movies, nerdity, tributes | 8 Comments

The Batcave Podcast, Episode 42!

Hey! Weren’t you thinking, “Gee, isn’t it about time for yet another exciting episode of  The Batcave Podcast?”

BOOM! Here you go.

As you doubtless know by this point, host John S. Drew has been taking an extended walk down Memory Lane as he continues his review of the classic 1960s Batman television series starring Adam West and Burt Ward. For the second season’s twenty-first story (and 43rd and 44th episodes overall), he’s joined by the purveyor of podcasts over at Views from the Longbox, Michael Bailey, as they discuss the return of the Catwoman in “Catwoman Goes to College” and “Batman Displays His Knowledge.”

From John’s write-up:

“Julie Newmar makes her final bow as the Catwoman in an episode many fans remember fondly. Catwoman decides to follow the straight and narrow as she enters college. But the theft of a statue of Batman from the college and a found beanie cap are all the clues Batman needs to figure out Catwoman is up to something.”

See what John and Michael think of these episodes: “Catwoman Goes to College/Batman Displays His Knowledge

Posted in batcave podcast, feelin' nostalgic, friends, nerdity, podcasts, tv | Leave a comment

Novel Spaces – “The Write Space?”

writerHey, what do you know? It’s the 16th again.

You know, already. Didn’t we just do this a month or so ago?

Anyway, if it’s the 16th, that means it’s my turn in the hopper over at the Novel Spaces blog!

This month, I ponder the elusive answer to an oft-asked question: What’s the best place for you to write? Is it the location where you’re most productive, simply somewhere that offers a nice setting for you to collect your thoughts and maybe order them into something cohesive for the page? Are you lucky enough that it’s the same place?

Novel Spaces – “The Write Space?”

So, come on, let’s have it: What’s your favorite place to write? Where are you most productive with your writing? Are they the same place? Does it have to be the cozy, familiar confines of home, do you have an “auxiliary writing spot,” or are you able to tap a bit into the “guerilla writing” mindset and just go for it anywhere and everywhere?

My Novel Spaces archive.

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Hey! It’s Captain Picard Day!

Today, June 16th, is “Captain Picard Day.” What, you didn’t know this? Shame on you.

That’s right, today we pause to recognize the life and accomplishments of Jean-Luc Picard: captain extraordinaire, explorer, diplomat, tea connoisseur, and 24th century renaissance man.

So, you know…make it so, and all that.


Of course, all he wants is to sit in the sun and read his book. Alone. Afterward? He really hasn’t thought that far ahead.

Posted in nerdity, trek, TrekZen | 3 Comments