Monday, August 28, 2006

Visit Cargoria, Write Yourself a Paycheck

I'm a fairly decent writer. I've sold a fair-size pile of short stories and had one novel published. But the problem with being a writer of fiction these days is that there's just no way to make decent money, largely (I think) because Stephen King and J.K. Rowling have pretty much sucked up all available publisher funds.

As you can imagine, I get pretty depressed about this. I was on the brink of quitting fiction writing all together and looking for a real job when I heard about what sounds like a decent opportunity to get paid serious money for making things up. The opportunity that got me all atwitter is Cargoria -- an online story that will be written by regular folks and that will, ultimately, pay some lucky writer one million dollars. Let me say that again: one million dollars.

Do you have any idea how many of these blog entries I'd have to sell to earn a million dollars? Well, I'm no math major, but it'd have to be in the dozens, at least.

The beginning of the story is up on the Web site, along with some cool graphics and a place where you can enter your e-mail address to be notified when the whole thing gets up and running. It says that if you want to write part of the story, you have to challenge other writers in a game called "Mohanci." I have no idea what this is, but I hope it's not too violent. As exciting as the idea of genre authors battling it out for the right to write might sound (I can hear the original Star Trek fight music even now), I'm a total wimp. I guess I'll just have to wait for the game to get going to see what the deal is.

What I'd like you to do is to take a look at when you have a chance and consider signing up. True, I'm going to do my best to win the $1,000,000, but it'll look a lot better if I have some competition.

So thank you, Cargoria, for rejuvenating my will to write fiction and saving my literary life. Truly, even though you are still waiting to officially open your doors, you have saved this writer's life.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Who Would Win (Revisited)

I received an interesting comment about my Superman vs. Batman post. The post took my argument that Superman would be victorious and subjected it to intense scrutiny, eventually arriving at a different conclusion than mine and questioning my reasoning ability.

In response I would like to say that my support for Superman's eventual victory is based not on coercian or corruption, but on a generous donation to my PayPal account. I'll be happy to change my mind on the subject for as little as $15 (see the link in the sidebar).

Thursday, August 17, 2006

How Big is Too Big?

Recently, a global coalition of astronomers proposed a definition of the term "planet" that would, once and for all, settle the questions of whether Pluto deserved to be a planet and what other objects deserved that coveted status. This is all well and good, but in their haste to hammer out this definition, the astronomers neglected to indicate a maximum size for a planet. Sure, they got a minimum size, but not a maximum, and without that, how can we tell a brown dwarf from a bloated Jupiter-clone?

Enter Martin Davis of Arvada, Colorado. Martin may be "just" a high school student, and he may not have a degree in astronomy (yet), but he has a spectacularly simple solution to the problem. That solution: don't bother having a maximum size for planets! Instead, if the center of a potential planet's orbit around a star is within that star, then the object is a planet. If, however, the center of the orbit is between the star and the object, then the system is considered binary.

Now, I don't understand a word of this, but it's obviously brilliant! This is the kind of thinking that's going to get Martin a Nobel Prize in short order and will have him dating a string of adoring supermodels the second he turns 18. Good going, Martin!

Friday, August 11, 2006

You Can't Rush Great Art

I was browsing through artwork on eBay yesterday, looking for something to fill the hole left above my couch when my framed print of Elvis playing poker with dogs fell off its nail and landed on my unprotected head, not only tearing the painting but also interrupting an otherwise excellent evening of Animal Planet. While browsing, I came upon artwork auctions for an artist named Koopa. These are beautiful, abstract creations in which thoughtful colors swirl in lazy arcs that draw the eye and calm the spirit. I had to have one. I placed a bid.

While waiting to see if my bid would win, I visited Koopa's Web site. It was there that I learned that Koopa, in addition to being a brilliant artist, was also a turtle. I don't know how I missed that on the eBay listing. I e-mailed Koopa, hoping for some assistance with my own artistic endeavors and was well rewarded. It turns out that Koopa is currently completing his 500th painting and has sold pieces to discerning collectors in every one of the United States with the exception of North Dakota. I've only sold blog entries to people in four states. So there's a turtle out there that's not only more talented than me, but also more successful.

It's all quite humbling and it leaves me with this question: why are they so behind the times in North Dakota?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Who Would Win?

I've been asked (via PayPal, my preferred method of meaningful communications) to weigh in on what some consider a very serious, socially significant question. I want to warn my readers ahead of time that we're about to delve into an area of intense controversy here -- there are many opinions, and although they all have their merits, I have been asked to choose a certain side and will do so. Please, no hate mail on this subject. If you have an opposing position, my PayPal account is open. But for now, for this blog entry, this is my opinion and I am sticking with it.

So, defensive preamble complete, we come to the debate in question: In a battle between Superman and Batman, who would win? It's a difficult question, one which -- like the intense (and still undecided, pending U.N. intervention) debate over whether the Federation could beat the Empire -- is made even more difficult because the sides often cannot decide on the ground rules for the competition. Would the two heroes have time to prepare for the battle? Would they be constrained by their personal moralities? Would it be a one-round affair, or could a hero escape to continue the fight at a later time? I have no idea, so I'm going to ignore these issues and look at the problem for another angle.

Pretty much everyone who knows anything agrees that Batman is the superior inventor and tactition (or whatever that word is), and that Superman has it all over him in the raw-power column. So the question comes down to, could Batman invent some device or situation that would overcome Superman? Well, Lex Luthor is always defeated, and he's as smart as (if not smarter than) Batman, so my guess would be that the answer is no. In the end, Superman would kick Batman's backside. So there's your answer. Superman 1, Batman 0. You can all stop arguing now.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Get the Blues -- Cheap!

I just purchased the premier issue of the downloadable magazine, Seventh Hour Blues. Talk about impressive! The thing is as slick and cool as a newsstand magazine, but without the bulk, blown-in cards, and tree killing. When you purchase the magazine you get access to four free MP3s and two videos of cool blues-related stuff. So it's a pretty darned good deal.

The first issue has interviews with Buddy Guy, Bob Weir, Reverend Gary Davis, and Otis Rush, and I'm not embarrassed to say that I had no idea who the heck these people were. It turns out they are intensely important folks in the blues music community -- which explains why I didn't know them since, as a quote whore, my musical taste is pretty much limited to whatever people will pay me to listen to. But after reading these interviews, I gained an incredible amount of insight into these fascinating people -- enough, in fact, that I am now devoting my listening life to their works.

As a lover of the fine arts, I was also very interested in the magazine's article on Vincent Van Gogh. It not only showcased what may be the only authentic photograph of the artist, it also gave away the secret behind some of his remarkable paintings. Inspired by this, I went out and bought the necessary equipment, and within hours I was cranking out valuable masterpieces like Warhol on speed. Within 24 hours I had a contract with an art gallery, and I project that my annual income from this endeavor will be in the six figures, at least. All for downloading a $3.50 magazine. What a deal!