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.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Gold Rush Press Release


Coming soon I'll have some more updates for those interested in a behind the scenes look at the script to screen process. Here is the press release for Gold Rush:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Gold Rush Table Read

I've been working hard on the script of Gold Rush, which is why the poor ol' Mythik blog has been a bit neglected. But here's the latest: We had a table read on Saturday. Most of our main characters were able to attend, and it was awesome :)

A table read is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: the actors sit at a table and read the script out loud.

I had a very long Friday night working on the latest draft and had it ready just in the nick of time. It still needs a few revisions, but seems to be coming along nicely.

The actors did a tremendous job bringing the characters to life. With this cast, the movie should be really amazing. Not only are the actors really good at acting, they are a fun bunch of people, too.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Backworlds

Today is the release date of The Backworlds by M. Pax. I've been a fan of M. Pax for a long time. Check it out :)
 
The Backworlds is here!

The first story in the Backworlds series by M. Pax. A vision of how humanity might colonize the galaxy some day in the distant future.

The Backworlds
After the war with Earth, bioengineered humans scatter across the Backworlds. Competition is fierce and pickings are scant. Scant enough that Craze’s father decides to hoard his fortune by destroying his son. Cut off from family and friends, with little money, and even less knowledge of the worlds beyond his own, Craze heads into an uncertain future. Boarding the transport to Elstwhere, he vows to make his father regret this day.

Available from: Amazon / AmazonUK / Smashwords / Feedbooks
Other links to more outlets can be found at either Wistful Nebulae or MPax

The Backworlds is an ebook and a free read. All formats can be found at Smashwords and Feedbooks.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Weird Friday - Weird Vehicles Part 2

This week's special Friday edition of Weird Wednesday features another excursion into the Weird Vehicle Garage (check out Weird Vehicles Part-1) - not to be confused with the Mythik Garage, which is slowly being filled with cars from the stories of Mythik Imagination; but that is a tale for another day.

Top Speed: 70mph Land - 10 knots Sea

First up is the Surface Orbiter. Made from a 1958 milk tanker (there are such things as milk tankers??) the Surface Orbiter is designed to circumnavigate the globe. Self sufficient and capable of traveling over land and sea, it has ventured over 33,000 miles on land and 3,000 miles at sea in the quest to travel around the world.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Gold Rush and Hunger Games

Hello Blogworld, this is Jon.

Hopefully there are still some Mythik Readers out there ;) So here's the deal: April has slipped away in the blink of an eye, just like March did, because my schedule has been extremely busy. I did finish a screenplay for a paranormal thriller and have been doing multiple re-writes. Writing for the silver screen is a bit different than writing a novel, of course. The rewrites aren't just for plot or characterization, but also fall along the lines of "our special effects department needs more info to make the blank" or "we can't afford to do that" etc. But it is definitely fun.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Screenplay

I blink my eyes and next thing I know, all of this extra long month of February has gone by. I have been typing furiously for most of the month on a movie script. February 29th is my deadline (at least for the first draft) and I am almost done. I've got 126 script pages done, and am working on rewriting the story.

So, I have regressed in my social media commitments, but made very good writing progress. I need to catch up with a lot of stuff, but will get back into good blogging form soon. Hopefully.

Well, I still have a few hours left until my writing deadline is officially here, so I better get back to work :)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Action, Thriller, Comedy, Drama

I think, when people talk about genres, most people think of them in terms of what the story is about. Instead, I think a genre is really much more about who the audience is for a particular story.

I recently came across a fascinating analysis of spec script sales by genre from the Go Into The Story blog by Scott Myers. A "spec" script is when a screenwriter sells a script "on spec," which means they weren't hired to write a specific story; instead, they write whatever they think will be marketable and then hope to sell it to a producer. They are speculating, gambling their time and effort in hopes of a future sale. It's always interesting to see what kinds of stories Hollywood thinks will make them money. What I find particularly interesting, is to see the breakdown by the four major Hollywood genres: Action, Thriller, Comedy, and Drama.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Weird Thursday - Weird Vehicles Part 1

Today's weirdness is a day late, but is hopefully worth the wait. We've got a garage full of odd sci-fi conveyances that are (or have been) real, believe it or not. It ended up being rather crowded in our Weird Garage, so this is Weird Vehicles Part 1.

Top Speed: 20 mph
First up is the LeTourneau Overland MkII Land Train. It is like the Antarctic Snow Cruiser on steroids. Perfect for hauling much needed supplies across the Martian tundra (or across earthly deserts,) the Overland MkII was as long as two football fields. It had 54 electrically powered wheels and could carry 150 tons of cargo. Each wheel was over 11 feet tall. The idea was that it would be used by the Army to deliver goods to inhospitable and remote locales, but by the time it was ready for action in 1962, it was rendered obsolete by newly developed aircraft technologies. Sadly, most of the Land Train has been sold for scrap, although you can still see the restored lead car at the Yuma Proving Grounds Heritage Center.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Fantasy Map Tutorial

There's a lot of talk these days about "World Building," which helps create a realistic and interesting story setting. But after you have carefully crafted your world of wonder with believable geographic and geopolitical details, you probably want a nice picture of it, right?

I'm going to show you how to make a cool looking fantasy map.

What you will need:
- a graphics editing program (I used Photoshop.) There is also a free program called GIMP.
- a public domain image of an old map.  Some good sources for public domain images are: Public Domain Sherpa and NOAA's Office of Coast Survey Historical Map & Chart Collection. The NOAA site is a gold mine. It takes some searching, but you can even find maps of old west towns, forts, and battles!

What we are going to do:
We are going to take an existing public domain map and modify it to look like the imaginary world we have in our head.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Weird Wednesday - Phaistos Disc and Rongorongo

Phaistos Disc - Side A
(click to supersize)
For some reason, I am fascinated by mysterious, undeciphered writing (check out Weird Wednesday - The Voynich Manuscript.) Today, we have not one, but two good mysteries from the Mythik Story Idea List And Weird Things File :)

The Phaistos Disc is, oddly enough, an approximately 3600 year old disc-shaped clay artifact discovered in Crete in 1908. Although the dating is imprecise, and some archeologists do think it is a hoax, it is generally accepted by the scientific community as the real deal.

It has symbols or "signs" in a spiral pattern on both sides. There are 45 unique signs that make up its "alphabet," and there are a total of 241 "tokens" made up of the signs. Many of the signs seem to represent people, faces, and objects such as weapons and tools. The signs have been compared to the symbols in Linear A and Anatolian and even Egyptian Hieroglyphics. There is even a theory that it may be the result of the world's first printing press. But so far, nobody has been able to come up with a conclusive translation.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Jon Mac On The Radio

Today I was on the Leo Laporte show, a nationally syndicated radio program about all things tech and geek ;) I've always loved listening to Leo and it was great fun to speak with him.

We talked about using older, manual focus lenses with new DSLR cameras. What does that have to do with writing, you ask? Heh, well I like to think of this blog as being about stories as much as writing, and A) storytelling is important in photographs and movies, and B) Using older lenses that are high quality and 1/10th the price of new ones is definitely in the Indy Author Spirit, and C) I'll be adapting some of the Mythik stories into movies using this technique ;)

Here's the snippet from the radio:

A lot of people are taking advantage of this combination of new and old tech in a lot of creative ways. It's definitely a fun pairing of retro and future :) Whether you're a reader, watcher, writer, or filmmaker, the "democratization" of creative technology only makes the world a better place.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Moon

As you can see from the incredibly creative title of this post, today we'll be talking about the moon. Not just any moon, but earth's moon. We love our moon so much, we didn't even bother to give it a real name and just call it "The Moon." It's kind of like naming your dog, "Dog." But whatever, I guess it gets the job done.

If you've read this far, you're now probably expecting some amazing little known science facts about our nearest heavenly neighbor, or maybe some comical old superstitions or moon hoaxes. Nope! Instead, I'm going to make you look at a picture. (Click the images for full size)
The Moon - Taken with Canon T3i + Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm f3.5
Notes: 210mm and 2X extender, plus 3X "lossless" center crop, f22, ISO 1600
Shot as 1080p video @ 30fps - image is about 100 stacked frames

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Storytelling Is Time Travel

This is why there is so much construction
on the freeway of my daily commute.
I'm the last person who would tell somebody how to write stories. But I was (sort of) asked. So here goes:

We're already 10/365ths (or 0.027397260 for you math whizzes) into the new year. So most of the yearly future predictions have already been predicted (December is that magical portal in-between the "Top-[insert number here]" lists of what has already happened and the "Top-[insert number here]" of what might happen - the internet loves lists even more than usual at this time of year.) How does this possibly relate to writing stories, you ask?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Mythik New Year

Happy New Year, everybody! The ol' Mythik Blog has been neglected for a while, but the Underwater Cave-dwelling Sea Monkeys who write this stuff are back to work and have their typewriters warmed up and ready to go.

November was very busy with NaNoWriMo, and although I didn't "win," I did get 45k or so words, which I considered a success and a very good start to the Land Of Lor novel. It is shaping up to be a very fun twist on classic, personal Sword & Sorcery combined with an overall Epic Fantasy feel. Although the main characters and plot lines have been in my head for many years, it has already taken a few unexpected turns resulting in several painted-in plot corners, ha ha. I was so busy writing, I didn't keep up with the planned blog updates. Oh well, it's a trade-off I'll accept :)

December was busy with lots of work at the day job and, of course, family and holiday time. I was able to do a test shoot of video for an upcoming Weird West Thriller.
Screen grab from video test shoot. T3i camera with 30 year old Kiron 28mm lens @ f2.