Around the State

Time is moving just too dang quickly for me to put up an episode a day, so I’m trying a different approach and doing things by theme. Today’s episode is about driving around. You do a lot of that in New Mexico, and when you’re trying to get everything together for a movie you do even more.

Friday fuego and I went up to Santa Fe to meet with the Air National Guard. It was a good trip, and productive. We met with Major Bob, who was enthusiastic about the whole thing but didn’t have a whole lot of authority. He took is to meet Colonel Montoya, who has only a sketchy idea of what it was we wanted to do. We explained it, discussed location and altitude and other logistical issues. The good Colonel paused, thought, and said, “Yeah, I don’t see why not.”
out latest prop - a blackhawk helicopter
Ladies and gentlemen, out latest prop: A blackhawk helicopter. It will be at our disposal at oh nine hundred hours Tuesday morning for a flyby or ten.

So that was a good day. Yesterday we were on the road again, scouting locations for the b-cam to go to shoot some road, and taking stills to supplement the ones I had already taken for the opening title sequence. The morning was hot and bright when we reached Trinity site, the place where the first atomic bomb was detonated. The place is not open very often, and even if we couldn’t get anything interesting for the flick I was interested in seeing it.

In fact, there isn’t much to see except a bunch of other people standing around thinking that there isn’t much to see. The glass-lined crater has been filled in except for one part where a shed was build to expose one section of Trinitite – the name for the glass created there when the sand of the desert was melted by the blast. We moseyed over to the shed, where there was a door in the roof to provide a view of the crater. Instead we found the door shut, with a sign that said in effect, “This used to be a way to see the crater floor, but now it’s covered with sand in there, so neeners.”

Trinity Cleavage There is an obelisk at ground zero, and we spent several minutes waiting for a moment when we could get a shot without some other tourist standing next to the black volcanic obelisk. Everyone wanted their picture next to the thing, although no one read the inscription, or really seemed to consider what it stood for. It was just that there was nothing else to take a picture of out there. After a few minutes fuego did manage to get one without other people in it, but most of the time the place was like this picture.

White sands leading edge Trinitized and armed with photographs we hit the road again, heading down to White Sands to get some more beauty shots and to get pure clean gypsum sand between our toes. As we headed south we saw thunderstorms forming over Alamagordo and heading in the general direction of White Sands. Not ideal for our photos, but certainly cooler. After pausing in the gift shop so fuego could get a White Sands cap so he could be cool like me, we headed out to the dunes.

white sands We kicked off our shoes and tromped out while raindrops blew in on the gusting wind. There was a good chance we were going to get very wet. As the wind flowed over the contours of the dunes it created a halo of sand, softening the edges of the snow-white dunes against the threatening sky. Lightning would flash in the distance and the rumble of the thunder would roll across the desert for an improbably long time. We tromped around, took pictures (only a few of which didn’t suck) and generally had a good time.

funky rocket After White Sands we continued our research at Missile Park, part of the White Sands Missile Range. The folks were right friendly there. The museum was closed, but there is a little outdoor area with a variety of the rockets, missiles, etc that had been tested there. We took some pictures in case a pirate needed to come up with an anti-tank missile. The one pictured here was my favorite – it looks like it belongs in an episode of Speed Racer.

Finally we headed back north, back to the duke city, hot, clammy, coated with sunscreen and sand, and tired as can be. We stopped by Rudy’s house for Yet Another Location Crisis, and that left us all even more drained. I was in the perfect mood to go home and just read a book for a while, or work on edits to a short story. Instead we went over to Charles the First’s place to discuss the opening sequence. I’m taking it a bit easier today, trying to shed some of the stress I picked up last night.

19 thoughts on “Around the State

  1. Hey, if Gov. Bill gets a Blackhawk now and then, no reason why a couple of maniacs producing a 12-minute movie in less than a week should get anything less.

    BTW, in your last picture, is that thing on the right a flying saucer?

  2. Depending on who you ask, that saucer-shaped thing is either the cause of UFO legends or a shameless government effort to explain flying saucers after the fact. I will leave it you you to weigh parsimony against paranoia.

  3. This whole white sands thing is just more gov’t invention to try and convince us we landed on the moon, instead of a hollywood backlot. It’s people like you and fuego who contribute to the deceiving of america. Why do you shill for the gov’t?

  4. All right. There are a lot of writers lurking on this blog site: is there a conversion factor for number of MSWord pages = number of book pages?

  5. You mean real life publishing company book pages? No, there isn’t, because the typeface and spacing vary from book to book. The only way I know of to do the conversion is to make the page setup, margins, fonts, header and footer etc. correspond as closely as you can to the size book you want to publish. Then MS Word’s page count will be the same as your book, give or take some of the white pages and “front material” you end up with.

    I went the Lulu.com route, so I set my own number of pages. Hee!

    I haven’t been to White Sands for a long time. Nice photos.

  6. Or to count pages you can put the work into Jer’s Novel Writer, and set up how you want the printed page to look. (This does not affect the appearance onscreen.) The page count given by the software will reflect that setup.

    The default setting is based on the paperback version of Foma, Wampeters, and Granfalloons by Kurt Vonnegut.

  7. Actually, I believe that helicopter was up here in Rio Arriba County the other day — a fisherman in the backcountry broke his leg and had to be rescued, not an ordinary arlift, but a rescue of the sort that the copteristas in New Mexico specialize in, sending a rescuer down on a rope into a narrow ravine to strap the rescuee into a rescue basket.

    As for Andrew getting into the movie — the rules say very strictly that no more than two of the movie’s personnel can be from outside of New Mexico. Since fuego had to be counted as coming from outside the country to qualify for the Fellini Award, he would presumably also count as coming from outside for the personnel purposes.

    OTOH, he did count as in-state when filming “Believe In Me” even though he lives in Prague, so maybe the definition is flexible. We could probably find a judge in Rio Arriba County who could rework the definition to our liking.

  8. Well, it sounds like there’s a niche to be exploited, here. I should be clear, I don’t want a precise conversion factor for WORD to book pages. Just ball park. If I have written 5 WORD pages in the usual style – 12pt font, 1 inch margins, whaddeva MSWORD is defaulted to, yadda yadda yadda – and it is ROUGHLY equal to one scurvy book page, then fuck it, this author biz is for the stinkin birds. This isn’t supposed to be work, it’s supposed to be low hangin fruit!?!?!

    I believe it’s entirely reasonable to expect to poop out a 300 page bestseller from 100 WORD pages, and the fruit of my effervescent imagination. That mortgage ain’t gonna pay itself.

    I think some statistics are in order here – we’ll just find out how many WORD pages Hemingway writ, per book, and do the math, errr… average. And viola’ (which is french for Wha Lah), conversion factor-rama.

  9. For The Test, which has a pretty good balance of dialog, description, and action, I get:

    Typical Paperback: 666 pages

    Manuscript (8.5×11, 12pt double-space): 607

    Typical Word: (8.5×11 12pt single-space): 299

    The page counts for the paperback do not include title page and all that.

  10. The latest Harry Potter was 650 pages.

    Which brings up a point: Jerry, have you tried to get celebrity author endorsements for Jer’s Novel Writer? Think of the publicity if some well known author writes their next novel with your software, or (for a little payola) claims to have written their last bestseller with it?!

  11. I know Stephen King is a Mac guy, but I haven’t gone chasing after him with JNW. An endorsement from him would certainly be good publicity, though.

  12. Does David, as my brother not of Dave and Willliam fame, know about Jer’s novel writer? He uses a Mac and has some things published.

  13. I have not gone out of my way to tell anyone about it yet, as it’s still in beta. I think I have a couple hundred regular users; at least, when I announce a new version there are about 300 downloads in the first couple of days.

  14. Getting back to the fly-by discussion, have you considered using the space shuttle landing at White Sands tomorrow as an alternative-and even more impressive-fly by? Sure, you’d have to pull strings with more than just the NMNG, but it would be a good improvement as you moved the film from 12 minute exercise to feature length summer blockbuster.

  15. Apparently NASA is not nearly as cooperative as the National Guard – While the NG did several flybys and generally larked about having a good time, NASA couldn’t even get the right state.

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