Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Wild West Fest at Calico Ghost Town


After a somewhat longer than usual absence, I thought I'd restart the ol' Mythik blog with a little trip to the Wild West Fest at Calico Ghost Town. In light of the ongoing post-production of the movie Gold Rush, a weird west thriller written by yours truly, and an upcoming Steampunk project, I thought a visit to a Steampunk festival at a ghost town would be a good way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Calico (the official state Silver Rush Ghost Town) is about 3 miles north of Barstow, CA. In it's heyday in the 1880s, miners in the Calico area worked 500 mines and dug up more than $20 million of silver. When the price of silver plummeted a few years later, folks moved away. Entering the "Bust" part of the typical "Boom and Bust" mining town cycle, Calico became a ghost town.

Click images for full size.

Fast forward over 50 years later, and Walter Knott (of Knott's Berry Farm fame) restored many of Calico's buildings to bring back the Silver Age feel of the 1880s.

While its buildings don't have the more authentic "state of arrested decay" of its ghost town rival, Bodie (or so I'm told,) Calico still has a lot of interesting things to see.

A handy "portable" steam engine for all your mobile power needs.
The Wild West Fest's theme is "Where The Wild West Meets Steampunk!" and there seemed to be an interesting mix of Steampunk enthusiasts, old west re-enactors, and "normal" people who seemed surprised to find Steampunky paraphernalia in a ghost town.


Among the attractions was a Quick Draw competition.

The shootin' iron of choice seemed to be the trusty old Colt 45 "Peacemaker" six shooter.

I did break out the vintage 35 year old Russian Helios 58mm lens. It's not really an easy choice for "quick" action, due to its manual operation and narrow depth of field, but I got lucky with this shot. Wide open at f2, it has a unique and cool way of rendering the out of focus background.

Other attractions included Poplock Holmes the Gentleman Rhymer:
Poplock had a cool Steampunk-style rap to the tunes of a Theremin

There was a lot of interesting mining machinery, of course, and I did a little lens comparison test:
The picture above is with the 18-55mm kit lens. The image below is with the 58mm Helios. It blurs the background into an abstract mix of colors.

The only problem of the day was the fact that it was very hot, and Calico is built on a hill, which I must have walked up and down a couple of dozen times. So unfortunately I got worn out before I had a chance to get more pics of the Steampunk people. Oh well, there's always next year, right?

I was also lucky enough to meet the writer of Boston Metaphysical Society, a very interesting and cool graphic novel. Anything that has Nikola Tesla and Houdini must be awesome, right? When I got back home, however, disaster struck. I was fumbling with a ton of photography equipment (most of which I did not use,) and somewhere along the way from my car to my apartment, my newly purchased Boston Metaphysical Society books must have fallen out. When I later retraced my steps in an effort to find the missing books, they were gone of course.

All in all, it was a good little trip for a combination taste of the Old West and Steampunk style. And it was good to help me get into the groove for my upcoming Steampunk project which will feature a city in the sky, flying cars, mad scientists, crazy inventions, exotic martial arts, and the wickedest villainess you've ever seen ;)

I'll leave you with one last shot of the climactic shootout between the US Marines and the gunslingers of Calico.


If you're feeling adventurous, you can see more pictures on Facebook.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Summer Vacation Part-2

Sleeping under the stars. Our tent, Joshua Tree and Milky Way at Walker Pass Campground.
Most Sc-Fi fans probably like looking at the stars. I'm no exception, and have a particular interest the night sky and telescopes and cameras. Living in Los Angeles, however, doesn't exactly make for very good stargazing. You're lucky to see a couple dozen stars at best. So I used the Dark Sky Finder to find a spot relatively close to LA to see what we could see, and try out a telescope, camera, and a few lenses. Check out Summer Vacation Part-1 if you missed it.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Summer Vacation Part-1


The summer is nearly over, but it was fun while it lasted. Most of my time was busy with work, writing, and working on the Gold Rush film project. But I was able to sneak away for a couple of extracurricular activities.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Planetfest 2012 And Curiosity Landing


It's an exciting time to be a fan of space exploration. The Curiosity Rover is on schedule to land on Mars in just two days. If you happen to be in the southern California area, you might want to check out Planetfest 2012 in Pasadena:
"A two-day celebration for all ages of the real-time landing of Curiosity on Mars.  You’ll get play-by-play narration during the spacecraft’s descent and landing, plus a peek at the first images returned from the mission."
The event is Saturday & Sunday, August 4th & 5th. There will be many speakers and activities, not to mention a live feed of the actual landing with expert commentary. Hopefully the Martians won't say "Sorry, this is a no parking zone!"

It should be a lot of fun, and I'm looking forward to it. I'll have a full report and pics next week :)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Letter From The Future

Warning - this is my semi-annual rant/editorial. Its purpose is to encourage anybody out there who wants to be "successful" at writing. Sorry, it's long. But at the end, I'll give you the mystical secret to writing success.

So I've been working tonight at the Cool Day Job (ironic, huh?) and managed to also get a bit of writing/film editing done (actually more like fun "drudgery" of author's-eyes-only backstory and clip-logging/trailer editing - and if you understand the paradox of "fun drudgery" then this post is definitely for you) when something popped into my in-box from Go Into The Story. GITS is a cool blog about screenwriting, and you might wanna check it out if you are interested in that sort of thing.

Anyway, at the top of this email from GITS are two letters written by comedian/actor Patton Oswalt. He used these letters for his keynote address in the Just For Laughs Comedy Conference in Montreal. You can see the letters on Go Into The Story.

Please check out the above link and read for yourself. His second letter begins with "Dear Gatekeepers." I think it is summed up nicely by this quote:
"Our careers don’t hinge on somebody in a plush office deciding to aim a little luck in our direction. There are no gates. They’re gone."
As I was reading Patton's letters, I thought how appropriate that attitude is, not only for comedians, actors and filmmakers, but also indy authors as well.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Weird Wednesday - Message From Mars

Mars
The Mars Curiosity Rover is due to land on the red planet in just a few days. Very cool, you might think, but not exactly something for Weird Wednesday. But among many other expected scientific discoveries, Curiosity just might get to the bottom of one long forgotten mystery: The Mysterious Mars Messages discovered by Guglielmo Marconi over 90 years ago. And that, of course, is perfect for Weird Wednesday.

A Nobel Prize winner, Marconi was a pioneer in the early development of radio. In the early 1920s, Marconi believed he received signals from another world.
Guglielmo Marconi
Using a special experimental apparatus on his Yacht, the Electra in the Mediterranean, Marconi received radio waves of a much greater wavelength than any produced on Earth at the time. This wasn't without controversy, and many experts believed the so-called signals were caused by natural storms on Mars, or perhaps some other, mundane earthy source.

But what fascinated Marconi about the signals was the fact that they seemed to repeat the Morse code for the letter "V." It seemed highly unlikely to him that a natural source would use Morse code. In fact, Marconi himself had used Morse code for the letter "V" many years previously in one of his first wireless tests. Could the strange signals be sending his own code back to him?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Mt. Wilson's 60-Inch Telescope

Like many sci-fi fans, I've always been fascinated by space, astronomy, and telescopes. Last weekend I was lucky enough to spend the night looking through Mt. Wilson's 60-Inch Telescope, located in the Angeles National Forest, north of Pasadena, CA.

Special thanks to the Keith and Alex for making this possible! And thanks to Reggie for starting the ball in motion and helping put it all together. Also a huge thank you to Tom The Telescope Operator and Shelley Bonus, our Session Director. They both were extremely knowledgeable and helpful and had our group laughing and learning all night long. You can also catch Shelley speak at The Planetary Society's Planetfest 2012 in Pasadena. Planetfest is a two-day celebration of the Curiosity rover's landing on Mars.

Some of the amazing objects we looked at are: Mars, Saturn, Neptune, M5 globular cluster (I think it was M5 - whichever it was, it looked really cool,) Cat's Eye Nebula, Ring Nebula, and Blinking Planetary Nebula.) One of the things that really stands out in such a big telescope is the amazing color in the nebulae and the details in the globular clusters.