All posts by ERTorre

E. R. Torre is a writer/artist whose first major work, the mystery graphic novel The Dark Fringe, was optioned for motion picture production by Platinum Studios (Men In Black, Cowboys vs. Aliens). At DC Comics, his work appeared in role-playing game books and the 9-11 Tribute book. This later piece was eventually displayed, along with others from the 9-11 tribute books, at The Library of Congress. More recently he released Shadows at Dawn (a collection of short stories), Haze (a murder mystery novel with supernatural elements), and Cold Hemispheres (a mystery novel set in the world of The Dark Fringe). He is currently hard at work on his latest science fiction/suspense series, Corrosive Knights, which features the novels Mechanic, The Last Flight of the Argus, and Chameleon.

Life on Mars? How…?

Let’s consider the idea of humanity heading to and creating a habitat on Mars.

To do so, one needs, obviously, some kind of shelter. A place where humans can both breathe and not freeze. Oh, and not get bombarded by pesky radiation. They’ll also need food.

The fact is that we can’t send these things on a consistent basis from Earth to Mars. In other words, we would need to figure out how to produce a safe living environment along with food to sustain our Mars inhabitants.

Curious about how this is done?

I found a couple of interesting articles regarding this very subject.

First up, Erika K. Carlson offers this intriguing article over at astronomy.com which posits:

We could feed one million people living in colonies on Mars

I don’t want to give the article completely away, but suffice to say this would involve some planting (I suspect many out there already know about some of this via the movie and book The Martian) along with edible insects, algae, etc. It’s an ambitious plan and -again, giving away some of the points of the article- it is theorized we could get this amount of food available in a matter of 100 years.

Sounds like a long time, but I find that an incredibly optimistic timeline!

Fascinating stuff!

Now, how about the habitation itself and the radiation exposure? The folks over at marsone.com offer the following guide to dealing with these issues:

How much radiation will the Mars settlers be exposed to?

There are a bunch of other links on this site and its a fascinating read.

As bad as the internet can be, there’s gold in them thar hills, too!

The Most Mysterious Song on the Internet

I love a good mystery, and this one is so fascinating!

As the headline notes, this involves a song which is bouncing around the internet, a fairly catchy song clearly created in the early 1980’s by persons unknown, though there are those who are very curious to figure out the name/band behind the song.

I stumbled upon the article about this mysterious song on Rollingstone.com. Here is a link to the article which was written by David Browne:

The Unsolved Case of the Most Mysterious Song on the Internet

As always, and at the risk of giving the article away, here’s that mysterious song…

The article itself points out the history of the song being “discovered” and inquiries being made as to who created it.

Personally, I like the song but I’m a fan of post-punk 1980’s alternative music. Having said that, the song isn’t some lost classic, either. It’s fairly simple and repetitious and, I agree with the article, likely the creation of a German/Polish/etc. band. The song is in English but it doesn’t appear that English is the singer’s original/principle language.

The music itself is remarkably clear, ie you hear clearly the guitars, the drumming, the bass, etc. This suggests the song isn’t a “live” recording (ie in front of an audience) but rather was recorded and mixed in a studio and likely then released to fans and or/clubs along with radio stations. That’s probably how it made it to what one assumes is the airwaves: It was probably featured on a radio show back in the day that promoted “new” music.

I further strongly suspect the band never really hit it all that big and, like many other bands out there, never connected with audiences to the point where they could continue this career. Perhaps this song proved their sole foray into the airwaves and, afterwards, they were forced to return to their “real” lives and work.

Given the song is likely from the early 1980’s, it is also possible the singer/musicians may no longer even be alive today. If the people who made the song were, say, in their mid-late 20’s when the song was released in the early 1980’s, they could be in their late 50’s or even early 60’s now.

Regardless, its a fun mystery and I really hope they figure out the people behind this song.

Perhaps they have another out there as well?

Downton Abbey (2019) A (On TIme!) Review

Back in 2011 and when my daughters were still too young to do so on their own, I wound up taking them to the last movie in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.

It was, to say the least, an interesting experience.

Why?

Because I read none of the Harry Potter books nor had seen any of the previous Harry Potter movies. I wasn’t completely ignorant of the phenomenon that was Harry Potter -indeed, you’d have to have lived in a cave to that point not to be!- but the reality was that I knew next to nothing of the Harry Potter storyline other than the three main characters and that they were in some kind of sorcery school.

So, going to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, the concluding chapter of a long series of novels and their movie adaptations, and going into it as cold -information-wise- as I was, was a… odd… experience.

I didn’t know who most of the characters were and didn’t know what they were up to and just kinda let it all wash over me. By the end of the film, it was like I had walked in on something that was reasonably entertaining but which I was hopelessly out of my element about.

Fast forward to yesterday and I tell my wife, a BIG fan of the TV series Downton Abbey, that I was willing to accompany her to the movie version which was just released this past Friday.

And, like Harry Potter, I was going into this pretty cold. Again, I knew some of the main characters in the series, but going into the film version I knew I’d be hopelessly lost with many of the character arcs and occurrences.

But, hey, my wife was dying to see the film and I was absolutely willing to take her to see it.

Like with HPATDH2, I found myself reasonably entertained with what I saw even if I was certain I missed plenty of nuance with regard to the many characters presented.

As a writer, I have to admire Downton Abbey’s screenwriter Julian Fellows for giving viewers so much material, so many different stories, without it getting too mushy and confusing.

If there is one thing I would criticize about the writing, however, is that there is a certain convenience to the way all these disparate storylines are resolved. Further, the movie presented a decidedly bucolic vision of post WWI England. While the movie did address at least one unpleasant aspect of those times -the way homosexuality is dealt with- it nonetheless was done/resolved in a quick manner.

But these are minor quibbles. Considering we are dealing with a two hour film that has enough plot to perhaps have given us an entire season of Downton Abbey, one has to admire the craftsmanship of this period piece along with the bits of wit/humor strewn throughout.

Yeah, I know I didn’t get it all and I know I missed on plenty of things and fans of the show probably would have plenty of reactions I, as a newbie, couldn’t, but if you’re a fan of the show seeing Downton Abbey, the movie, is a no-brainer.

If you’re not a fan and/or don’t know much about it, maybe you should check out the series first.

You’ll likely get much more out of it.

Corrosive Knights Book #8… a little more

Funny how things go.

Friday I posted an entry and offered for the first time in quite some time an update on Book #8 of the Corrosive Knights series (you can read it here).

I noted the following:

I’d say I’m a little more than halfway -roughly- through writing it

I think its a little more than that!

Over the weekend, a major breakthrough: I finally figured out how to end the book.

I know, I know: Didn’t you already have some clear idea of the story you were presenting, including the ending?

Yes… and no.

Each book I write tends to follow certain paths but they are almost never identical. For many of my books, believe it or not, I have a relatively clear beginning and/or ending but have to figure out the middle and the hard work comes with this connective tissue.

Often it is the middle part of the book that gives me the biggest fits and, when I finally work my way through it, the biggest sense of triumph when the proverbial plan “comes together”.

Then there are cases like Book #8, which started one way and then went into a whole ‘nuther direction…

As I mentioned in that previous post, my original idea was to have Book #8 in the Corrosive Knights series be an Epilogue. It was meant to be a finale that ends the series properly, and truth to tell, I’ve already written a strong first draft of that Epilogue.

Thing is, its really short and I realized it needed to be longer to be a proper book rather than a very thin novella. The previous Corrosive Knights books run roughly 90,000 to 110.000 or so words long. This book, as it stands now, runs something like 20,000 words long.

When I first tackled it, I figured what was needed was more “meat” and that’s what I started to work on. I wanted the Epilogue to be a finale that stands up with the rest of series and helped “close the book” on the series which began with Mechanic and concluded with Legacy of the Argus .

Here’s the thing, though: As I started working on doing this Epilogue Book #8, and I started to think about how I would expand this slight story, the proverbial wheels started to turn in my head and I realized there was another story, not an Epilogue, worth telling.

And with that realization came a second realization: There was no need to so hastily “end” the Corrosive Knights series. For the Epilogue would certainly do that and I realized I wasn’t quite ready to end the series yet.

Thing is, and as mentioned before, Legacy of the Argus sure does offer a very strong conclusion to the storylines written to this point, so if I create another novel that takes place in this Corrosive Knights universe, I felt the need to offer something that didn’t feel like “just” another story, but something which would add to the series in a meaningful way.

Which is why the breakthrough I had this weekend, the conclusion of this story, was so important and why it took me so long to figure out.

I’ve been writing this story for a while now, since shortly after finishing/publishing Legacy of the Argus, and because of the initial nature of the book and its transformation into something else its taken me much longer to get a clear idea of where I’m going with all this.

I soldiered through, writing first an introduction to the Epilogue version, then a new introduction to what would wind up being the new non-Epilogue version of Book #8, then coming up with a whole new -and far better- introduction and scuttling the previous one.

Then, I moved along, on and on, building up scenarios but never quite getting a feel for the book being something worthy of standing on its own and adding to the series in that meaningful way. Mind you, the story was intriguing, even if it felt like it needed that extra something.

I worked hard on it, forcing myself to power through page after page despite worries by the end it might not come together. This is a fear authors have, that their hard work, when all is said and done, will amount to a wiff, a good, but perhaps not great story not worth all that spent effort.

On the other hand, and not to sound too obnoxious, I have confidence in my skills. It takes me a while, sometimes a very long while, to figure out what I’m doing, but with concentration and effort, I usually get to where I want to go.

This past weekend’s break through, my coming up with an ending that puts the novel into a good context within the series itself, did the trick.

Now we have an exciting, suspenseful/thrilling story that anyone coming into this book wondering “Where is he going after Legacy of the Argus?” will feel it adds to the overall story of the series.

Of course, I won’t get into any details as I’m sure the book will go through many permutations as I revise/revisit it and fix it up on its way to being published. I’m still not quite finished with the first full rough draft but getting this conclusion in place sure goes a long way.

Onward!

Tesla some more…

If you’re tired of me talking about my car, please skip this post!

Otherwise…

So last week I did another long -but not quite as long as the trip up the coast- in the Tesla and today I did another long -but not quite as long as the previous two- trip.

Some thoughts: I-95 around these parts has a double line on the left side which is going to be used, very soon I imagine, for the “express lanes”, ie lanes where cars pay to theoretically bypass the worst of rush hour traffic. While we have two lines between the far left lane and the one immediate next to it on the right, eventually that space between the lines -a large space, by the way- will have cones within it separating that lane from the others.

Related image
Here is the express lane with the cones installed. Where I was, the cones weren’t there yet

My Tesla’s Autopilot seems to really get confused with the double lines and, likely, the space between. When in Autopilot, you hit the change lane indicator (right or left), and the car will make sure there are no cars in the lane you want to go into and will make the lane change for you.

However, when I wanted to switch from the second to the last left lane to the furthest left lane and past the double lines, the car seemed to freak out a little. On the screen would appear a note saying “Attempting lane change, prepare to take over” and once the car gave me a red alert (the screen literally went red) and stated something to the effect that Autopilot had disengaged and I had to take over.

Once I was on the far left lane, the Autopilot kept wanting to switch lanes and get back into the second to the last lane from the left, ie beyond those double lines. It was like the Autopilot sensed we were in the wrong place and kept asking to switch lanes. Perhaps it thought I was on the wrong lane, moving toward a head on collision?

Regardless, it was quite aggravating.

Yeah, yeah. First world problems and all that.

Still, using Autopilot remains, with the above exception, a delight. In the trip I took two weeks ago today (the longer of the two trips) we didn’t have to deal with any weird double lines with big spaces between them and the car moved more than well: It did the trip on Autopilot quite well.

The trip was about an hour and a half, give or take a few minutes, to Naples and we did some shopping before heading to the convenient Supercharger the city has in a covered parking lot. We charged the car up and walked around the place as it charged, seeing some restaurants -but truthfully not all that much more around there that day. We did go to some more shops afterwards, had a nice lunch, and saw the beach before heading back home.

I might have been able to make the trip there and back with the full charge but I suppose I’m still a little skittish about the car’s range, even though I had something like 140+ miles left of range when I started up the charge.

Today, the trip lasted one hour there and another hour (of course) to get back. No need for a Supercharger but, as mentioned above, I did have to be careful with the double line/future express lanes.

Out of curiosity, I went on Tesla’s webpage and did a dry run order for their upcoming Model Y. I’m thinking that will be our next vehicle but I was curious to see what the specs on it are.

Incredibly, I found the car in the configuration I wanted would cost around $55,000, or about four thousand more than my Model 3 was (though with the trade in, I wound up getting it for considerably less).

Still, the fact that Tesla is offering an SUV that has a range of 300 miles with full charge (mine, at full charge, has a range of 310, only a 10 mile difference!), and offer it at a price that isn’t that much higher than a Model 3 when I bought it is something.

Yeah, the price is still a little high and I’m hoping it will continue to come down in time.

The big question: When will the Model Y be available? According to the Tesla website:

Model Y production is expected to begin in late 2020 for North America, and in early 2021 for Europe and China. Standard Range production is expected to begin in early 2021 for North America, and in early 2022 for Europe and China.

So I suppose you can theoretically get the long range version of the Model Y (the more expensive one) by late 2020.

Don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to it!

Ah… Friday… and Corrosive Knights #8 Update…!

It feels like I haven’t stopped moving these past few months… maybe years… and when the weekend is in view, as it is this Friday morning, I can’t help but feel relief and look forward to unwinding.

I suspect I’m not alone in this!

I haven’t offered much information of what I’m doing, writing-wise of late, but suffice to say I’m neck deep into what will be the 8th book in the Corrosive Knights series.

A while back I was offering the following image to give a hint as to what this 8th book was going to be…

Note the “Epilogue” statement.

Welp… it no longer applies.

There is indeed an 8th book in the works and I’d say I’m a little more than halfway -roughly- through writing it and it most certainly will not be the promised Epilogue to the series.

Why?

Because the Epilogue, which as I’ve stated before is pretty much written already (and has been for a while) kinda ends the whole Corrosive Knights series and I’m not feeling like the series should end just yet.

In fact, the ideas I’ve come up with in Book #8 are fascinating to me, a sure sign that the book is “working”. If I didn’t feel excited about what I was writing, I’d have given it up a while ago.

Yet the same things always rear their head when writing: I try my best to deliver a story that will zig when readers think it will zag. A story that will hopefully surprise them with the many turns and, likewise, give them compelling characters along with a compelling story with a strong beginning, middle, and end.

Any hints as to when the story takes place?

Here’s the thing: With the Corrosive Knights series, I have this broad timeline where I can fit in stories. The story could theoretically take place in pre-historic times. It could take place in the 20th Century and from there, five thousand plus years into the future.

So it could take place the very day after the final events of Legacy of the Argus or before the events of Chameleon (those who have read the books know what I’m talking about).

I’ll offer more updates soon enough…!

Suffice to say I’ve found a good subject/plot and am pushing forward as quickly as I can. Once that first good rough draft is done, things will start coming together more quickly, even if I do require considerable polishing before I feel a book of mine is ready to be released.

I’m working really hard on this one and I want it to be ready perhaps by the middle of next year, if I can manage this.

I’ll give it my all!

In the meantime, have a great weekend!

Sad music news…

A few days ago, September 1st to be exact, I wrote about an article by Damon Linker over at week.com regarding The Coming Death of Every Rock Legend. You can read my original article here.

The gist of Mr. Linker’s article was that many Rock legends, musicians who rose up and became popular during the1960’s and into the early 1980’s, are getting quite old now. They were part of a certain generation that, today, are in their 70’s.

In my writing, I pointed out some of the other artists who are not mentioned in Mr. Linker’s article. I pointed out the members of The Cars and, very sadly, yesterday it was reported that lead singer/songwriter Ric Ocasek had passed away…

CNN: Ric Ocasek, lead singer of The Cars passes away at 75

Mr. Ocasek was often the face of The Cars and wrote most of their songs. Benjamin Orr, the band’s other lead singer, sang many of the most popular songs. Reportedly Mr. Ocasek knew Mr. Orr was a better singer and stated something along the lines of “When I write a good song I sing it. When I write a great song I get Benjamin to sing it.” Mr. Orr passed away from cancer in 2000.

It’s so sad to read about Mr. Ocasek’s passing and, like Mr. Linker’s article points out, we’re at a point where reading about very popular musical stars passing is going to become something of a regular thing.

Case in point: Three days ago, on September 13th, news came of the passing of singer Eddie Money, whose death was related to esophageal cancer, which he revealed to the press a month or so before his passing.

In honor of both, I present a favorite Eddie Money song followed by one of my favorite The Cars tunes…

Loved that tune!

Now for The Cars. This song, and video, were heavily played on MTV back in the day…

Great stuff. May they both rest in peace.

Absolutely fascinating…

Back in November of 1997, William Moldt of Palm Beach County, Florida, disappeared without a trace and, for the years since, no one knows what happened to him.

Now, thanks to Google Earth, they do.

Amanda Watts, Natalie Johnson, and Amanda Jackson provide this absolutely fascinating article for CNN.com which reports on how…

The remains of a man missing for 22 years have been found – thanks to Google Earth

As always, and at the risk of giving it away, Google Earth provided the following picture of a neighborhood in Palm Beach County (I’ve taken this image from the article above):

The submererged car is on the top left side of the pond. See inset.

As you can see in the close up image in the square on the upper left side, what appears to be a car on its side is visible along the bank of this pond.

The vehicle turned out to be Mr. Moldt’s Saturn. The vehicle was lifted from the pond and his remains were found inside.

A tragic situation, certainly, but at least now the family/friends of Mr. Moldt will have closure and now know what became of him.

Do as I say…

One of the more infuriating things one comes across in life is hypocrisy. Most specifically, people who say one thing and do another.

Perhaps the most infuriating hypocrisy is the type you find in politics and, sadly, religion. People who talk about honesty and are the last people in the world you should trust with your money. People who talk about living a pious, religious life and, well…

In these past few days one Jerry Falwell Jr., son of the late, notorious Jerry Falwell, he of the so-called “Moral Majority”, has been in a wee bit of trouble for these very things.

He took over his father’s Liberty University and is a (who would’a guessed) strong supporter of “President” Donald Trump and talks about all the things that get religious conservatives’ blood pumping. How liberals are evil and sin so very much. How you have to follow the bible. How homosexuality/lesbianism is evil. How low taxes are wonderful and social services are bad.

You know the drill.

Thing is, Mr. Falwell Jr. is starting to feel pressure. People once in his circles (or perhaps still are, I dunno), are starting to whisper about his own… hypocrisy.

The latest salvo against him involves a trip he made to The Wall Club in Miami in 2014. Photos surfaced of him within the club and he vehemently denied being there on that date and with his son. He went so far as to publish an article in Politico stating that the photograph showing him in the club was “Photoshopped”. He is pissed because a religious conservative such as himself would never stoop so low as to go to a heathen, Bacchanal club such as that one. Never, never, NEVER

Well…

The problem with making such vehement denials and by implication accusing those who presented the photograph that showed you in this *ahem* position is that they may take umbrage at being called liars who Photoshop someone into their photographs to tear a “good man” down.

In fact, they may take such umbrage at this accusation that they decide to go back to their files from that day back in 2014 and see if maybe, just maybe, they have even more pictures which show our good “Christian” moralist in this club that he swears he would never set foot in and anyone accusing him of doing such a thing are liars with Photoshop skills.

…and maybe when searching through those pictures, they happen to find few more more showing Mr. Moral Majority right there, exactly in the club he swears he would never be in. And maybe, just maybe, when they do find these additional pictures they post them online for everyone to see…

Rebuke to Jerry Falwell Jr.’s comments to Politico’s “Someone’s gotta tell the truth”

Here’s the thing: There is no law against absolute moralists like Jerry Falwell Jr. and his son going to a popular Miami club. There is nothing wrong with him being there and drinking a little and (perhaps) dancing a little and having a fun time.

It’s not like these photos show him groping an underage boy or doing a line of cocaine or reaching for money to pay a well known prostitute as she’s unzipping his pants.

All we see here is Mr. Falwell Jr. and his son in a popular club alongside many other partiers. No big deal, right?

Sadly, for people like Jerry Falwell Jr., even showing up at such a “heathen” establishment runs counter to his strict, moralistic facade.

And, based on the photographs, it is a facade.

Had Mr. Falwell simply come out and said: “Yeah, back then I went to a club in Miami with my son and it was glitsy and loud and I didn’t really like it all that much and wouldn’t go there again” you wouldn’t have this mini-blow up.

He would likely be lying. He doesn’t look like he’s having a bad time at the club and what exactly did he expect to find there?

But it might have saved him this fresh embarrassment.

Well, that was painful…

This feels like something someone says at one of those meetings devoted to making you sober. The first step is usually admitting your problem:

My name is E.R. Torre, and I’m a Dolphin fan.

The rest of the people in the meeting room react with extreme horror. There are limits to helping people, and clearly I’m in need of a lot of help.

Today, of course, was the first Sunday of the 2019 Football season and for those that don’t know, my Dolphins played the Baltimore Ravens and got their asses totally pounded. The final score was 59-10 and it was every bit as bad as that score implies.

There was no offense. There was precious little defense. The team is a mess… and it was pretty much designed to be that way.

See, the Dolphins, since the departure of Don Shula and, a little later, quarterback Dan Marino, have been in this unrelenting funk. When Shula was coach and Marino quarterback, the Dolphins were a year after year SuperBowl contender. They were always in the playoffs and always seemed to be a legit candidate to make it to the big game.

But that was a very long time ago. The Dolphins, since Marino’s departure, seem to always be 7-9 to 9-7. There are a few exceptions, including a season where they went a ghastly 1-15, but they seem to always be stubbornly mediocre. Just being cut out of the playoffs and being just good enough so that their draft picks usually amount to not all that much.

Its been a sad state of affairs and, it seems, the owner and new Coach decided it was time to stop being mediocre and start the team from the ground up. To purge it of everyone and built it up again, younger and through the draft.

Which means this year, for all intents and purposes, is a season where they’re not expecting to win all that much.

Thing is, there’s a point where you’re not very good and where you’re purposely become horrible.

Maybe this first game is an aberration and they wind up winning a few games, say 3-4, in the season. Still wind up at the bottom and get good draft picks which they use to build themselves up.

At this point, though, and based on this first game, it sounds like they’re be lucky to do even that.

As I mentioned above, the Dolphins once went 1-15.

This year, there’s a very real chance they go 0-16.

How many fans remain after that?