Friday, February 20, 2009

Lights! Camera! Wargames!

A couple of days ago I mailed-in my two submissions for the Pacific Northwest Writers Association (PNWA) Literary contest.

My first piece is my short story called Sweet Stakes. It's based on a dream I had where I was a vampire hunter tracking one of the undead. In my dream I found a unique way to paralyze and then dispatch the vampire.

I wrote this last year and received really good feedback, but I didn't make the finalist category. As the story was originally written in First Person, I couldn't figure out how to implement some of the suggestions without breaking the 14 page limit. So I changed it to Second Person just to see what the judges will say.

My second piece is a memoir called Rakkasan Recollections and is about some of the stories my dad told us about his antics during the Korean War and the impression they made on me and my siblings. I wrote this a couple of years ago and submitted it to the Writer's Digest (WD) Literary contest. Unlike the PNWA contest, I received no feedback from WD. I submitted the story as-is because I'm not sure what needs to be fixed. I figure I'll let the judges decide.

I'm also starting another wargaming movie project like my previous made-for-YouTube movies, which are posted here under "Stern Rake Studio Productions." The Historical Miniature Gaming Society-Eastern Chapter (HMGS-E) is interested in developing some short programs to advertise their Historicon 09 convention this coming July.

The plan is to make as many shows as I can before the convention date. Each movie will be divided into 4-5 episodes of about 2-3 minutes each. They'll be posted about every 2-4 weeks on YouTube.

The movie I'm currently working on, Mayhem in Makassar Strait, is a World War II-Naval Pacific movie. It's based on the Battle of Balikpapan, which was fought on 24 January 1942. I played it out as a solitaire mini-campaign and finished filming a couple of weeks ago. Now comes the long process of adding the special effects--primarily painting some graphic images on each picture and adding music or sound effects.

Here's a link to the historical battle:

So for now my World War II Mediterranean Naval Campaign will be in hiatus for several months.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Chillin' with Mindi Abair

A few nights ago my wife and I attended a Mindi Abair concert at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley in downtown Seattle.

Mindi Abair, pictured here in one of her promotional photos, is my favorite smooth-jazz musician. (You can find a link to her website under my Music Category). Her previous performances, from 12-14 Feb, were sold out but I managed to make on-line reservations for Sunday night's show (15 Feb).

Jazz Alley's entrance is literally located in an alley off of 6th Ave. What initially struck me about the place was how DARK it was. I practically needed NVG's (night vision goggles) to find my way around! The low-light does however, create a sense of intimacy especially under the mezzanine where we were seated.

We arrived at 6:15 for dinner which gave us over an hour before Mindi's performance. Jazz Alley is an upscale restaurant disguised as a downscale dive. The food was excellent and served in just the right-sized portion. We finished our dinner in plenty of time to spare before the show although dinner was still being served during the performance.

Mindi was introduced to the crowd by my favorite Seattle DJ: Diana Rose of KWJZ (also linked under my TV, News & Radio section).

Diana, who hosts the station's City Lights program, is responsible for getting me hooked on smooth-jazz. When I first moved here I was scrolling through the radio-station frequencies when I came across her warm and throaty voice. I thought "Wow! She sounds nice!" And eventually I realized, "Hey and the music's pretty good too!" So I've been listening to this station for over 10 years now and when I think of smooth-jazz, I think of Seattle.

As a musician, Mindi was fantastic! She's one of those rare performers who sounds as good live, on-stage as she does recorded with the benefit of a recording studio. My wife thinks she sounds better live than recorded. We also made "Jazz Alley history" that night. This was the first time the restaurant was broadcasted live over the internet via Tour TV:

I was hoping to provide a link so readers can watch, but I guess it was a live-only broadcast. That, or I simply haven't figured out a way to access Tour TV's archives.

I'm still getting use to being a "pajamas media" blogger. In my haste to make the concert, I forgot my camera and the one CD I currently own, A Life Less Ordinary. So I didn't get a chance to take Mindi's picture or get her autograph--even when I stood less than arms-length from her while waiting for my wife.

So if you're in Seattle and like jazz, you can't go wrong with dinner and a show at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley. And if Mindi Abair's playing anywhere near you--go. You won't be disappointed.

The evening was a double-5 star event for us: 5-stars for Jazz Alley and 5 for Mindi's performance. And if you're concerned about cost, we figured the dinner and concert cost half as much as a typical stadium concert. Plus Jazz Alley provides a warmer and more personal atmosphere.

Jazz Alley's website:

Since I can't find the "Live from Jazz Alley" program on Tour TV, here's a consolation prize--a performance of Do You Miss Me? on YouTube:

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Best President of the United States is...

...Calvin Coolidge?

Well, maybe not. I must admit I know very little about our nation's "non-wartime" presidents.

However, after reading the attached article by John Miller, I'm rather impressed with this "quiet professional" president.

So no matter who your favorite president is, have a happy President's Day.

Mark Steyn's comments:

Which led me to John Miller's comments and article here:

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

Today's the day to spend with your one true love--CHOCOLATE!

I mean, with your sweetheart. (And CHOCOLATE).

While we spend the day with our nearest & dearest (and maybe gorging ourselves on CHOCOLATE), scientists made a shocking discovery:

Kissing releases chemicals that reduce stress hormones in the body.
From Yahoo! News:

Well, duh!

Friday, February 6, 2009

You Live in Washington State...

My brother-in-law e-mailed me some comments about Washington State, supposedly from Jeff Foxworthy.

They may not be from the "redneck" comedian, but they are funny--and true!

Pictured here is a publicity photo for Jeff Foxworthy's show Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?

This is what Jeff Foxworthy had to say about living in Washington

o If someone in a Home Depot store offers youassistance and they don't work there, you live in Washington .

o If you've worn shorts and a parka at the same time,you live in Washington .

o If you've had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialedthe wrong number, you live in Washington .

o If you measure distance in hours, you live in Washington .

o If you (and I have) know several people who have hit a deer more thanonce, you live in Washington .

o If you have switched from 'heat' to 'A/C' and back again in the sameday, you live in Washington .

o If you install security lights on your house and garage but leave bothdoors unlocked, you live in Washington .

o If you can drive 75 mph through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzardwithout flinching, you live in Central, Southern or Eastern Washington.Oh Hell Yeah!!!!!

o If you design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over 8 layers ofclothes, you live in Washington .

o If the speed limit on the highway is 55 mph -- you're going 80, andeveryone is still passing you, you live in Washington .

o If driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled withsnow and ice, you live in Washington .

o If you know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter, and roadconstruction, you live in Washington .

o If you actually understand these jokes and forward them to all your WASHINGTON friends, you live or have lived in Washington