The miniseries I’m presently writing has required a fair amount of research.  Over the past few weeks, my online investigations have covered cyber-terrorism, computer worms and viruses, online anonymity, the NSA (National Security Agency), the FBI, Missile Defense Systems, nuclear power schematics, and the White House administration.  In short, every google search sure to set off alarm bells at intelligence networks monitoring suspicious online activities.  For the record (and ECHELON), I’d just like to say that I’m interested in the aforementioned topics only insofar as they are able to provide me with cool and informative story fodder that, hopefully, will engage viewers and critics alike and not make me prey to physically invasive searches the next time I fly out on vacation.

Two days in and two acts (and 31 pages) completed.  It’s all going according to plan.  In retrospect, I was foolish (aka insane) to think I would be able to write straight through, sixteen days, completing an act a day.  I’m glad my writing partner, Paul, suggested we switch off, just like we used to in the old Stargate days.  When he first floated the idea, in my foolish bravado, I assured him I had no trouble blazing through a first draft and having him follow (think of the time we would save!) but he insisted, pointing out it was only fair.  This way, I’ll get as far as I can and give him what I’ve completed on Monday, take a few days off while he works on the script, and then pick up where he leaves off later in the week.  It’s a tight schedule but, if we can average those 10 pages a day (and, to date, I’m well above the average) we’ll deliver the first draft with enough time to squeeze in one of those after-school specials and an educational interstitial on the dangers of mixing prescription drugs with playing hide and seek anywhere near an abandoned refrigerator.

Given how busy I’m going to be, I’m pleased I can rely on a guest blogger to pick up some of the slack here.  I, of course, refer to Cookie Monster who will be dropping by on Monday when our Supermovie of the Week Club reconvenes to discuss Meteor Man.  Boy, oh boy.  This looks soooo not good:

28 thoughts on “May 12, 2012: 2 Acts down, 14 to go! And why not join our Supermovie of the Week Club?

  1. Hey, Joe!

    As soon as they make a connection between your recent google searches & past association w/ Carl.. well, let’s just say nothing good can come from this.. Keifer Sutherland could be busting in your house at any moment! 🙂 Be sure to tell the CTU SWAT team ‘hi’ for me.

  2. Joe, could you remind me why it is that you are inflicting these horrible films on poor Cookie Monster?

    Ooooh. Interesting little tidbits of information about that miniseries! And don’t worry; we’ll all vouch for you to the NSA!

  3. Yeah, nice try on keeping a professional distance from those topics. I just checked your “about” page. Still calls for a militia. I’m not judging, but it won’t keep you off the TSA’s frequent tapping list and I’m not talking phone tapping here.

    I want to know what google searches set off the alarms. Personal sovereignty, militia, militia nearest my address, what time is the militia bake sale. Do comments on your blog with those trigger words get you flagged?

    Or do they look for people who sound despondent so they can work one of those fake bomb plot busts on them? “They” is understood, right?

    Would I piss them off if I “mis”-used quote marks, like Department of Homeland “Security”?

  4. Wow. That trailer from Meteor Man looks like an all star cast in another horrible, what-the-hell-were-they-thinking movie. Poor Cookie Monster. I’ll be keeping you in my thoughts.

  5. Hey, Joe!

    Now that all 4 issues of DARK MATTER have been released are there any plans for a collected graphic novel release (hardcover or tpb)?

    And if so are you going to add any extras to it (ie- character bios, background info, etc.)?

  6. @Joe:

    I don’t know if this is the kind of info you’ve been researching, but as a young engineer in the late ’80’s, I had to visit NSA to fix a driver issue on a Parallel Processing box they had bought from a company I worked for. I was the only person in our office that had anything like a security clearance, so I was chosen to be the one to go fix the problem.

    After I arrived at the guard house in Fort Meade, two Marine Guards showed up and I was told to follow them with one guard a few paces in front and the other guard a few paces behind. I could not approach either guard but had to keep myself roughly between the guards as they escorted me to the room where the equipment was.

    During the walk down the halls, I noticed that the guard in front would keep his hand on the butt of his gun and would yell “Red badge!”. As we walked, I could hear people scrambling and doors slamming as people threw blankets over their desks and then went and hid in closets, all the while red flashing lights were rotating on the ceiling. They finally delivered me to a room with the equipment in it (decorated in 60’s government gray metal desks and chairs and not much else).
    I was told that I had 30 minutes at which point they locked the door and left (or they stood outside the door and were completely silent…I’m not sure which). I fixed the problem with the Parallel Processor and waited. There were no telephones and no way to call anybody. At exactly 30 minutes, the door was unlocked, I was escorted out of the room and the process was repeated (“Red badge!”, doors slamming, et cetera) until we reached the guard house, where I was “released”.

    I haven’t been back to NSA since and I’m hoping that this little recount of NSA security doesn’t cost me a “full body exam” on my next flight… 😉

    While on the subject of painful, invasive experiences, I did see “Meteor Man” a few years ago and I’m not anxious to repeat the experience. Good luck Cookie…you’ll be earning your stripes on this one 😉

  7. Joe, I LIKE researching info via the Net, and I work cheap. Just name a character “Francis” in memory of my father & f-in-law.

    You know where to find me should you need help with Spanish translation, English mechanics (proofreading), a few US-government agencies…


  8. @DP: As an ex-bureaucrat, I can tell you that the Feds generally enjoy cynical humor about their agencies. What used to get to me were the people who, when told I worked in government, told horror stories about the IRS. (I never worked for that agency.)

    @JeffW: There’s a flip side to your story. My brother’s family lives near NSA /Ft. Meade. I’m told Ft. Meade puts on a nice family picnic each year. Can’t recall whether it’s open to general public or only to Fed employees’ families.

    @Joe: Reminding you of a question for Cookie. Does he think, as I do, that some comic franchises lose something in translation to live action?

  9. I wish I could find the time and movies for the Supermovie of the Week Club. But if Cookie Monster ever ventures into campy scifi flicks, I’ve got a copy of “The Lost Skeleton Returns Again” ready and waiting.

    If you make it to LA around the first of June, JPL is having their yearly public open house on Sat (6/9) and Sunday (6/10). I went last year, and it was great seeing kids dressed up as astronauts, and us adults acting like kids. It was loads of fun!

  10. That mini series is sounding very interesting. If everything goes according to plan (and it always does, right?) when might we actually see it on screen? Probably before we see Transporter, the way that’s moving along now.

    I just screened Meteor Man last night. It will be interesting to get Cookie’s take on it.

    @JeffW: That sounded like it was a very interesting experience. Sounds like they take their security very seriously!

    @paloosa: I would LOVE to go to that open house sometime. JPL is a personification of my belief that “If you can dream it, you can do it.” I’m anxiously awaiting the landing of the Curiosity rover in August!

  11. @paloosa:

    I know the area and government-employee influence well; I grew up in Jessup (right down Rt 175 from the Military side of the base), and my mom used to work for the DIA at Fort Meade in the 70’s and 80’s. I’ve been to a couple of the DIA family picnics (not NSA, but I imagine it’s similar). It’s hard to find families in that area that don’t have at least one family member who works on the base.

    For my side, I had done some defense engineering contract work (which was the reason I had had security clearances in the past), and since I was in an office full of Brits and University types with questionable backgrounds with protest movements, I was deemed the only one “eligible” to make the visit to NSA.

    To this day, I have some friends that work as contractors at NSA, so I still keep some “social” contacts there…

    Oh, and on the “The Lost Skeleton Returns Again”; I’ve enjoyed watching both films with my teenage kids, but shouldn’t we recommend “The Lost Skeleton of Cadvara” first? It would be kind of like starting Star Wars with “The Empire Strikes Back” with the Returns Again film 😉 Both films were great, but if Cookie comes at this from a “logical script writing” stand-point, then I see some Chocolate-Chippee migraines coming his way!

  12. @das: I’m so glad the Johnny Winter concert was good. (See? I was paying attention). Give us some details later!

    @JeffW: Cool story! I’m pretty sure I was on someone’s list for my correspondence with Radio Havana and Radio South Africa. When I was a kid I liked to listen to short wave radio and they had the best signals so I wrote to them!

  13. Joe, I guess you would know better than others to stay away from deep space telemetry. Did those Hypersonic flight tests really fail? How many more “spy satellites” does the Air Force need? Not sure what your new mini series will be about, but in reading your research list, it sounds fun. Have you used any books in the spy thriller genera authored by Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, etc. for research? In listening to interviews some of these guys reportedly have some good sources.
    Have you ever asked Cookie monster if he was upset by being passed over in a cameo appearance on Farscape? I was watching the episode “Kansas” and Kermit had all sorts of attention. Aaron (Claudia Black) does say “Cookie Monter.” Good luck and good eating

  14. Opps…I got my commenters mixed up; it was baterista9 who was talking about the NSA. Sorry.

  15. Sounds like you have an interesting mini-series possibility. I’ve often wondered how Internet searches like that are handled. I mean, I’m sure there are plenty of people who have a legitimate interest in those topics.

    Have a great day and hope you get lots of writing done!!!!

  16. The trailer looks like a movie of multiple Guy Fieris….that could become scarey.

  17. Hey Joe, I wouldn’t worry too much about your Internet research. The tracking capabilities of the US government are highly exaggerated. The only way they’d know you were researching those things was if you posted about it on a public blog . . . oh.

  18. @gforce:

    Sounds like they take their security very seriously!

    Yes they do. The security at most other defense places I contracted with pales in comparison and NASA-Goddard was downright lax (at least at the time…that was 25 years ago for me). Any place that uses Marine Guards are likely to be as serious…


    I’m glad I’m not doing defense contract work now…because of the foodie tour and your “self admission of contacts with agents of foreign governments”, I’d probably be getting writer’s cramp from filling out all of the “Contact Reports”. 😉

  19. @JeffW – Loved the story. I worked with some edgy gov’t tech in days long past and things were more lax when it came to tech. It has to do with how quickly tech gaps close and focusing more on getting the momentum first.

    @baterista9 – Good to know. That saves me some time.

    I kinda’ don’t worry about the government knowing how much I hate what they do. I’m not a juicy target. I don’t help them build the narratives they need to justify growth.

    If they wanted to drum up fear against anarchists, they would rile up some fake anarchists that fit the profile they want the public to believe about anarchists, not a pacifist like me. In being counter to the preferred narrative, I’m a less juicy target than a random citizen with more malleable views who would be easier to set up.

  20. All that internet research is intriguing. I can’t wait to hear about the mini-series. Good luck with all that!

    JeffW: My hubby, son and I all loved your NSA story.

    This is a kind of “news of the weird”. Apparently, Siri’s search for the best phone is not the iPhone 4. I was going to trade my phone in for the Nokia when my cell contract runs out this fall. Now I’m even more excited about the Nokia!

  21. Happy Mother’s Day to all the hard working, resourceful, patient and loving moms here! (To your lovely mom, too, Joe!)

  22. I’d just like to say, for the record, (in case any FBI or NSA are reading the comments too), that I am a completely innocent bystander commentor here and I disavow any connection with the blogger or other commentors. I don’t know them, I never saw them before in my life, I remember nothing, and will deny everything.

    That should do it . . . 😉

  23. @jeffW: Ah, I was confused. It WAS the DIA picnic that I heard about.

    BTW, Jeff, I was with Defense Logistics Agency 1985–1987, Dallas region. It was a square peg in round hole situation. ’nuff said.

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