Category Archives: Film

Musings on Surviving a Laser Gun Battle: Cram’s challenge, Part the Second


All right space cadet, the author is not sure what kind of hardware you expect to have at your fingertips, and isn’t going to ask.  It may be best to address the topic of bringing a laser to bear as a hand weapon in two parts: hardware you’re likely to get your hands on (circa 2009), and a few ideas on using it. 


For simplicity’s sake, we’ll assume you have are dealing with a handgun styled setup, not a laser rifle, for reasons to be covered later.
Lasers are NOT effective handheld weapons currently.  Most commonly available lasers are a fancy way to make a red dot appear somewhere, and can’t do much more than blind someone briefly when they hit they eyes just right.  You can acquire models that will light a cigarette or burn plastic bags, but these would need long exposure on unprotected flesh to cause even minor burns.  Nothing with the power (equivalent to a firearm) has been developed into a handheld, much less man – portable, weapon just yet.  Weaponized versions are still confined to trucks or airplanes specially designed for the purpose, and require great resources to operate.  There are a few “less lethal” concepts that use lasers or other pulsating light to cause nausea, but they require a very different setup than a burning, cutting laser. 

It should also be mentioned, a laser is not an all trumping cutting / blasting tool.  A laser only makes things hot, by applying a lot of light to a very small point.  (Or a wider area when unfocused.)  They apply no force, and as such will blow nothing apart on their own.  Even with a very powerful laser, it takes the beam time on an exact point to heat the target enough to damage it.  For the time being, the best a laser could hope to do is damage by heat a target that will hold still long enough for it, or be tracked very accurately long enough, for this burning to happen.  Easy with an arrangement in a large jet or truck, but not exactly practical for a handheld model.

An actual “light fight”, to steal the term from science fiction, to the author’s knowledge, has yet to happen with fatalities.  (Heart attacks playing laser tag notwithstanding.)  The author is no gunfighter, and skill with a pistol may be one of the closest ideas to use of a handheld laser gun.  The basic idea, assuming a laser of sufficient strength to burn through a clothed human in 0.1 or less seconds, would be the same.  The dangerous area involved with the weapon would be a straight line out from the tip of the barrel when the trigger is pulled.  Unlike a gun, however, the laser would not involve a projectile, and would be dangerous as long as the trigger was held down.  No appreciable recoil either.  Imagine a rapier of indeterminate length that cannot be parried or blocked, has a blade that weighs practically nothing, and is sharp in every direction at once.   That’s basically what you have to defend against, or be offensive with.  Like with guns, the golden rule is “Don’t be in front of them”.  Outside of arm’s reach, you can be dead as quick as the opponent can draw a bead and pull the trigger.  Given the nature of the laser though, they can decide to “swish” the beam THROUGH you if they don’t target you right on the initial activation.  Inside arms reach techniques for defending against a handgun also work, as far as using your hands and body to get the tip of the barrel pointed away from you.  (In fact this may be easier, as you don’t have to worry about blinding from muzzle flash, deafening, powder burns or laceration from moving parts if it goes off right next to your head.)  At range though, find cover and keep moving.  Make sure it’s something that takes awhile to burn through too.  Mirrored shields would only be a temporary solution (No reflector being perfect, it would only be a temporary solution at best.) 

If you both have laser weapons, use yours first.  (This is the simple way out of any fight, armed or not.)  If you can’t then keep your head down, keep covered, and try to flank or lure the other guy out.  Trading fire is leaving things up to chance, and getting pinned down limit options fast, especially if they can burn up your cover.  If you both end up at arm’s length with laser pistols, then something’s really wrong.  Refer to Kurt Wimmer movies, and pray you have time after to wonder how you got into such a stupid fix. 

Musings on Surviving an Anime Convention: Cramulus’s challenge, Part the First

Your good author has had a bit of the writer’s block this week, but was recently inspired by a comment from the Professor Cramulus, his fellow writer and acquaintance.  The good Professor laid out three circumstances which he’d like to see “Musings on Surviving”, pieces done on, and they WILL be addressed.  They’ll be a bit more frivolous than your usual “CRAZY PREPARED”, but still have advice you can apply elsewhere if you’re clever.


At least, that’s what your author thinks every time he finds himself at one.

These conventions are strange and diverse shindigs.  They can be homely, friendly local affairs, much like PortCon, in Portland Maine, or HUGE mass clusterfucks, like OtaCon, or occasionally Anime Boston.  Ages and attitudes range form young and hyper to old and grouchy, with varying shades of creepy, collected, or enthused in between.  There will be people who forget hygiene for a weekend at such gatherings, jumping idiots, and people who should NEVER own spandex.

Here’s how the author and his cohorts / friends / partners in crime get by:

Pack accordingly.  Bring FOOD and WATER.  Keep your blood sugar and hydration in order or you fun stops REAL quick.  The author prefers enough granola / cereal bars / trail mix to replace EVERY meal if need be.  Of course, buy other food, but always have backups and spares.  Keep a water bottle with you and keep emptying it down your throat (every time you find yourself standing still is a good time for a swig, whether you want it or not).  The hosting facility will likely put out water, so refill whenever you can.  (The author’s sister wisely brings a filter pitcher for the hotel room in her kit.)  Sports drink powder too, vital for electrolyte replacement if you plan on drinking alcohol.

Dress accordingly.  Wear comfortable shoes.  Any convention is a bad time to break in new boots.  They are good times, judging by the tone of the thing to wear unusual garments or costumes, which may have their own complications.  In costume, be ready to be grabbed for pictures, questions, or just hugged for no good reason.  (If you can act a bit, get into character and roll with it.)  If you don’t want to show off, then sensible durable clothes are a good idea, as you may have to get rough or move quickly from time to time.

Defense may be needed if you’re bumped jostled or tackled.  As with so many situations, the author has always had the most result for the least expense with a good glare, and advocates this where possible.  Otherwise, learning to keep your space and move nimbly will solve most issues.  (Out maneuvering clumsy folk dressed as ninja has its own special irony.)  Offense wise, when pressed, press back, speak up, and keep it moving.  Don’t let a crowd endanger or intimidate you.

Keep busy.  Keep a schedule of events with you at all times, and keep on the move doing stuff.  You paid to get in, make it worthwhile.  If you’re not, strike up random chats, socialize, and network.  Fandom is not always known for its social skill, but reach out a bit and you can meet some fascinating folks.  The author often attends as backup for artists, or to help out with various groups.  Perks of this include instant people to hang out with / back you up, as well as the occasional table to sit in at when you get tired.  Don’t hesitate to find a chair, wall, corner, or retreat back to your hotel room for a nap now and then.  Sleep is GOOD.

Beware of:

  • The unwashed:  Get ready to hold you nose, or call others on bad hygiene.
  • The great UNCLEAN:  Bring prophylactics.  Better yet, DON’T HIT THAT.
  • The underage:  Be friendly, but firmly refuse if a kid / teen (not yours) decides to imitate a lamprey on you.  The alternatives are ALL bad.  (CYA: Cover Your Ass.)

Blow by blow coverage of the Twilight film

With almost no editing, I present: my reactions to the Twilight film, as they happened.

1. Oh Jesus Christ, this film is nearly 2 hours long. 2 WHOLE HOURS.

2. Awkward father-daughter scene seems to be working well.


4. Dude, try not to be so obvious when looking at her crotch. For real.

5. Actually, just a guess, but is pretty much every scene with Bella in, where she has to interact with “real people” going to be awkward?

6. Wait, she hasn’t even been there a day and three guys are vying for her affections? Well, four if we include Obvious Werewolf boy. WTF? She’s cute, for sure (or would be if she smiled), but lets not kid ourselves here.

7. OMG your filler article ideas are GENIUS!

8. Informed character traits? The guy’s got weird eyebrows, and comes from a freaky family. And apparently doesn’t know how to do his hair properly. Where I come from, that’s asking for bullying, not causes for desirability.

9. Emo stare of doom at 10:15!

10. Is Edward constipated or something? He looks pained. And now like he’s gonna puke.

Continue reading Blow by blow coverage of the Twilight film

TV Tropes

This is absolutely my favourite site of the moment.  For real.  I have spent hours, with which I could have done a lot better things, reading it and laughing quite often at the descriptions within.

To quote from the main page:

Tropes are devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members’ minds and expectations. On the whole, tropes are not clichés. The word clichéd means “stereotyped and trite”. In other words, dull and uninteresting. We are not looking for dull and uninteresting entries. We are here to recognize tropes and play with them, not to make fun of them.

The wiki is called “TV Tropes” because that is where we started. Over the course of a few years, our scope has crept out to include other media. Tropes transcend television. They exist in life, as we will be quick to tell you. Since a lot of art, especially the popular arts, does its best to reflect life, tropes are likely to show up everywhere. We want ’em all.

As someone who enjoys writing myself, a site like this is incredibly useful.  But even for the casual reader or watcher of television, its a really great site and I cannot recommend it enough.  If you want to visit, please follow the link.

More on the Watchmen state of affairs

Reading this open letter from the producers, its looking like the Fox case against Warner, whatever the legal validity, is little more than the result of sour apples.  That Warner have taken the risks, put in the work and invested the money, only for the result to be that Fox, who refused to do any of that when given the chance, is nothing short of unbelievable.

Thanks to P3nt on the forums for the link.

Chronotopic Anamorphosis

Chronotopic Anamorphosis from Marginalia Project on Vimeo.

This video shows the test of a software developed as a programming exercise.

The image is digitally manipulated by fragmenting it into horizontal lines and then combining lines from different frames in the display. The result is a distorsion of the figures caused by their motion in time, or, as Brazilian researcher Arlindo Machado calls it: chronotopic anamorphosis.

Watchmen costumes revealed

Watchmen still has roughly about a year to go before it is released, and will likely not be anything near as good as the comic it is based on, but I still can’t help but be somewhat excited by the idea of the film.

Which is why I’m totally stoked at seeing the costumes from the film, as released by, which shows how The Comedian, Nite Owl, Ozymandias, Rorschach and Silk Spectre will appear in Jack Snyder’s film.

(via Technoccult)