Archive for the 'Sci-Fi' Category




I was down south recently to view the total solar eclipse (or not view it, depending on how semantic you want to get) .  Tennessee was along the path of totality, and a good friend of mine in Atlanta invited me to come down for the festivities (he was planning to drive to his friend’s place in Tennessee).

Of course, when you’re a BBQ nut, just thinking about the deep south makes your mouth water.  The Bible Belt is the birthplace of pulled pork and ribs and I’m pretty sure they refer to it as a “belt” since it has to regularly be loosened to accommodate all that delicious BBQ!

Basically, I let my stomach do the decision making when I have an offer to visit the south.  In this case, the eclipse provided an excellent excuse (although, if it means good BBQ, an invitation to view an empty parking lot would have been just as tempting).

We decided to take the long way during our drive from Atlanta to Tennessee, specifically so we could pass through Alabama and visit Unclaimed Baggage, the most unique and amazing second-hand store in the country (but that’s a story for another post).

Three hours and a car full of bargains later, it was time for lunch!  And when you’re hungry in Madison, Alabama, you visit Greengier BBQ.


Not that there’s a lot of other choices.  The location borders on the surreal and for miles in every direction, there is nothing but dirt roads, farmland and abandoned gas stations. There’s so little competition that the restaurant itself doesn’t seem to care that you can’t even read their sign anymore – everyone “just knows” where it is (thankfully it’s named after the street it’s on.  Or is that the other way around?).


Also, as if this place wasn’t hard enough to find, it’s been painted with a rolling, green landscape – essentially camouflage, given its surroundings:


However, upon walking inside, I was reminded of the 14th Commandment: thou shall not judge a book by its cover.  When new BBQ restaurants aim for authenticity and the right atmosphere, they pretty much borrow the DNA from this place.  The staff doesn’t try to project Southern Hospitality because they embody it.  The family that runs the place is as sweet as the tea, from (literally) Grandma behind the register to the third grade bus boy.

The food came out on a plate larger than the place mat and consisted of carbs, meat, carbs, meat and carbs (I can’t remember the last time a baked potato was included as a standard side dish).  As we enjoyed another round of the free hush puppy refils, I could hear the faint sound of my left ventricle slamming shut.


The food wasn’t the best I’ve had but, in this part of the country, I think quantity sometimes wins out over quality.  We all laughed when the waitress asked us if we wanted dessert but when she told us soft serve ice cream cones were just 25 cents, it was GAME ON.  I don’t care if you’re full and/or disgusted by your own weight – you just don’t walk away from a 25 cent ice cream cone.

Sweet home Alabama!

So, stuffed as a Thanksgiving turkey, we waddled towards the parking lot and squeezed back into the car.  From here, it’s a two hour drive to Nashville and our friend’s house.

Where, I’ve just been told, there will be fresh BBQ waiting for us!



AU REVOIR, old friend


This week brought us the sad news that Babylon 5 co-star and noted political commentator Jerry Doyle passed away.

As most of you probably know, I worked on the series for four years yet only had a handful of encounters with Jerry (our visual effects studio was on the other side of town from where the show was shot). We spent more time hanging out at conventions than on set, but something I can say with certainty is that anyone who knew Jerry for even a few hours probably had the same impression – he was a smart, kind, charismatic guy, quick with a joke and always the life of the party.

Here are a few of the personal moments I remember about the erstwhile Mr. Doyle:

– He was thrilled to be the only human character to survive all five years of the series!
– After hours at conventions, he could always be found at a booth in the bar, nursing a stogie and holding court with as many women that could cram into the seats around him.
– We sat together once at a bar and discussed the fairer sex, clinking glasses every time we agreed.
– Jerry, myself and a small entourage ventured into downtown after the con (which city I don’t remember) to hit up a popular club. It was filled to capacity and the surly looking bouncer wasn’t letting anyone else in. Not one to be refused entrance to a good party, he got us all in by shaking hands with the gatekeeper in a suspicious manner and asking “how about making an exception for Mr. Franklin and his pals?”
– He once ran for local office in Los Angeles and listed one of his qualifications as being “the only candidate with his own action figure.”

If you’re laughing & smiling now, good – that’s the way he would have wanted it.  Jerry had a rare energy that uplifted everyone he met and the world will be a lesser place without him.

Whomever he’s with now, they sure are lucky.



Here’s a great interview with Jerry from 2002:



reposting a classic: STMP “Pon Far” Edition

This was taken off of it’s original link on YouTube, but here it is on a new link (I had some requests for it):

The story behind it:

While we were working on STMP: The Director’s Cut, we were fast forwarding through a cut of the original film and examining the visual FX shots.  Well, while you are zipping through it, you really get a sense of just how much time was devoted to people staring at the viewscreen with incredulous looks on their faces. “It looks like they’re watching a porno movie,” I observed.

And the idea was born.

It may seem like a simple edit, but it was more complex than it looks.  First and foremost, I had to choose a scene from a movie that had no obscene dialog – I wanted the short to be suggestive but not outright perverse; good luck finding THAT in an X-rated movie (I had to do a lot of, um, research).

Next, I needed a scene with enough random audio cues (like moans and other, shall we say “interesting” sounds). Also, it also couldn’t have any music in the background, since I knew I would be editing the scene down from 15 minutes to about 4, and interruptions in music are far more noticeable than in dialog (or whatever you want to call it).

Once I had the right audio track, the rest was easy – I just cut in great reaction shots of the crew to match the audio (my favorite is Ilia’s look during an especially loud female moan). The final touch was a bit of cheesy boom-chicka-boom-boom porn music in the background and voila!  After about two days of work in my free time, a classic was born.

And it was convention safe!




(Without the beam that someone added in the new “best of” book).

Interesting fact: this is based on a scene that was cut from the one and only Ron Moore “Voyager” script, a moment where Borg cubes were supposed to be hovering over a forest, searching for renegades.

The image of trees is an actual photo of a forest that had been decimated by acid rain. Although the credit for the image was given to Steve Burg (an extremely talented man), it was actually conceived and rendered by MOJO.

Steve’s primary involvement was helping me with the near-impossible task of compositing the cubes behind the trees… without his Photoshop help I never would have finished the shot! I remember the late night as his place… We played around with various Photoshop tools until it finally worked :-)

Why was the shot cut? I have no idea. They routinely cut VFX shots from Voyager as being “too expensive” before ever even asking the crew that would be doing the work. It just took a long time for them to finally shake the “motion control & miniatures” mind set – but they finally got on board with what CGI could do for them with the amazing two-part epic “Scorpion.”

I have plenty of stories about the FX for that episode…




Not too long ago it was Pie Day here in the states. That means it was March 14, otherwise known as 3.14. People all over get together, bake pies and share the sugary goodness. I was lucky enough to be invited to such a gathering by my long-time good buddy Chairman, yet I didn’t feel my pie making ability was up to snuff (read: I have never made a pie). So what do you bring to a party of delicious desserts when you don’t bake pie?

Root beer floats!

That’s right, friends: I dug up the old ingredients for the Mojo Float (Bulldog root beer and Haagen Daz Dulce de Leche) and brought them to the party. My secret plan: to steal the pie show with root beer floats!

As I began making the floats and started passing them to the crowd, I was greeted by the same reaction from everyone: WTF? Why are you giving me a root beer float? Who cares? “Just take a sip…” I would suggest. A few seconds later, I pretty much got the same reaction from everyone:


People liked them. I won. Case closed. TRY IT.


iphone + sound machine = blade runner

Pictured above, Deckard swipes his iPhone and orders some Chinese.  Now you can use your precious iDevice to immerse yourself in the world of Blade Runner with an app called Sleep Machine, a neat little program meant to help you sleep by generating ambient sounds like wind, rain, surf and crickets.  Now that’s great if you want to pretend you live out in the middle of nowhere, but can it relax the futuristic city dweller, looking to close his eyes and get lost in the soothing sounds of a dark, yet shimmering urban landscape?

Continue reading ‘iphone + sound machine = blade runner’


Happy Birthday Battlestar Galactica!

Thirty Two years ago today, ABC rocked the house with the first-ever airing of Battlestar Galactica.  Killer robots, thrusting spaceships and Lorne Green’s toupe would forever change my world.  It also marked the official start of the 25 year countdown to Ron Moore’s epic re-imagining of the series, which breathed new life into the Galactica franchise and showed the world that you can take science fiction seriously. So, on this fine Friday evening, why not grab a friend (Cylon or otherwise) and tip a glass of Ambrosia in honor of Glen Larson’s little wagon train to the stars that could.

July 2019
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