March 2005 Archives


From a series of shots of William Maier in August 1999, right before we moved away. This was during the artist's brief, but lucrative, bearded phase.


And this is what we used to do during the day. This is at one of the FSU Physics Lab buildings, where they have big industrial ice machines sitting around for students who need ice in experiments. We used the ice for other things. Note shirt.


More old stuff. This is what the summer of 1999 was like. 2am in the Anthropology Department at FSU, taking double-exposures of William Maier. There's a lot more of this stuff.

Beckley, WV - Lace Curtain circa 1993



From the vaults: one of my first macro shots. I lacked a macro lens, so there were issues. Anyway, this is a lace curtain in a house by the Exhibition Coal Mine in Beckley, West Virginia. If you're wondering what a coal mine is like, this is the place to go.


From the vaults: view up the street from my grandmother Jean's front steps. The redness is the actual color of the black-and-white negative -- at least how the 'classic' negative scanner interpreted it in way back when.


Randy in Virginia. You know, I think this is the first time I've been posting pictures with people in them -- if you're pictured and don't like it, let me know and I'll delete the embarrassing decade-old holiday snaps.


From the vaults: portrait of Jared Whitham circa 1994. This may have been taken in the Venice Public Library. Sorry for the small size of most of these vault images; the negatives are in, um, the vault, and I'm working with old scans.


From the vaults: more Project Omicron stuff. Andrew (last name forgotten), Sir Millard Mulch, William Maier await direction. Note suspended chair (and other shadow-casting objects) in background and Bubba Cola (cheapest cola in the tri-state area).

All this '1995' Omicron stuff may actually be 1996. If anybody remembers, let me know.


From the vaults: Project Omicron production. This is a view up the dangerous non-ADA-compliant stairs to the upstairs soundstage. Note attempt at sound baffling on ceiling. Jared Whitham (director) is pictured bending over.


From the vaults: Project Omicron production. Left to right: Jared Whitham, James Pitts, William Maier, boom operator (sorry, still don't remember his name). It was literally 100 degrees in there.


From the vaults: the Project Omicron wardrobe department. The guy on the left (forget his name) was the boom operator, and started the shoot with one broken arm -- he finished it with both arms broken. Also pictured: Jared Whitham (blurry), William Maier adjusting pants. View Project Omicron.


Some ornamental grass in my back yard.

Portland, OR - Spring Tree



A tree in my back yard, beginning to get little spring buds.

24 Season 4

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So I've been watching the, what, fourth (?) season of 24 on FOX this year. This is an even guiltier pleasure than Survivor, but hey, it makes my Monday nights go faster.

Having watched all previous seasons -- and having commented in 2003 about the bizarre formula apparent in the show -- I thought I'd revisit my earlier Formula for Fox's 24. Updates from current season in bold.

Formula for Fox's 24 - Updated in 2005

  • Never trust female characters. They're generally one or more of the following:
    • foreign spies (one major female character is a foreign terrorist this season and another is a spy for American terrorists, so...close)
    • local spies (working for the other guy at CTU) (hasn't shown up yet, although they did kick out what's-her-name, Chloe, for helping Jack before it was cool, which is close, and they tortured what's-her-other-name on suspicion of being a CTU spy)
    • power-hungry maniacs who manipulate their way through life (DING DING DING DING DING!! We have a prime example in the character of, oh, what's-her-damn-name...Curtis's former girlfriend. I win!!)
    • emotionally crippled victims (We've got a great example of this in the CTU director's daughter. I suspect we will see Jack's love interest go from competent to crippled victim shortly.)
  • Don't ever tell your daughter any secrets. She'll tell her scruffy-ass boyfriend, who will tell everyone else. She'll also be victimized by a variety of people in the process of trying to act on whatever it was you told her. (After FOX couldn't pay the rent for the daughter actress anymore, they expanded this plot point to include girlfriends, children of terrorists, and anybody contacted by those two types of people.)
  • The President is always readily available via cell phone. (And now he's available via videophone, even while on Air Force One.)
  • The System (government, law enforcement) is riddled with jerks and maniacs. (DING! Note how CTU leadership and core staff are about 50% inveterate assholes who either reform or die during the season -- the current leader character reformed, the Jack replacement guy died, they fired Chloe for being a jerk and helping Jack, etc. Another new twist on this is: The Man Doesn't Care if Your Mom Dies.)
  • Terrorists are always foreigners. If you're dealing with someone who doesn't look like a foreigner but is clearly a terrorist, just wait -- they'll start babbling in a foreign language soon enough. (This is amazingly bald in the current season. It focuses on an extensive Turkish-American terrorist cell. It's so bad that FOX eventually aired a PSA about it.)
  • Guns solve most problems. (Still true. However they have done a good job lately having guns cause a few problems, typically by killing important witnesses or captives right before they talk.)
  • If you shave at the beginning of the show, stubble will not be visible until the 23rd show. (We saw Jack getting dressed in the first episode. He just gets sexier each hour, man.)
  • Good guys use Mac laptops, bad guys use Dell laptops. Sometimes these are reversed when the show is trying to manipulate you. (This has been modified since the third season, in which there were a few red-herring switches, presumably because people like me noticed. At the moment the rule seems to be: Good Guys Use PDAs With Inexplicable Satellite/Video Technology, Bad Guys Use Even More Implausible Custom Wireless Devices With Flashing Lights)
  • The main character can't die. Okay, well, if he dies, he can be resurrected promptly by a nearby doctor. (Okay, duh. No deaths recently, though the man has retired like three times at this point. I think the best example of this lately is the terrorist kid who has been shot at, dug his own grave, etc. but survives to look bewildered every time.)
  • 50% of all other characters will die or will turn out to be evil, or both. (Body count rising. New twist: sometimes they get fired [or commit treason, go to jail, and end up useless drunks watching soccer in Spanish] instead of dying, which is handy in case you need them later to save the day.)
  • New rule: Call me on my videophone. Even if you're ten feet away from the person you want to talk to, why not call them up on your tiny 3" display videophone? Oh, move to the left a little so we can see the logo on that videophone. Sweet.)
  • New rule: Job stress + (child/love interest) in grave danger = awesome FOX dramatic conflict! We have seen the stress which used to rest solely with Jack move to other characters (Tony, the new CTU director, etc.). Just kidnap somebody's wife or make somebody's kid freak out and you've got prime time gold!
  • New rule: Since nobody belives 'the rules' matter anymore, torture whoever you want. Plenty of torture and "I don't have time to [respect your human rights], there's a war on man!" this season.
  • New rule: Redemption is easy. I should have seen this earlier, but with the current Tony-is-redeemed plot, it's obvious: no matter how much treason, torture, craziness, etc. you are involved in, you can get your old job/street cred/girlfriend back as long as Jack (or the President, or the Secretary of Defense) says you're cool. Because of this, I suspect Chloe will come back shortly to save the day. Just like in the first (second?) season where what's-her-name got fired but used the power of wi-fi to save the day from a van in the CTU parking lot.

So there you go. Go make your own season.

Contacting Chris Higgins

I'm a writer based in Portland, Oregon. I mostly write for Mental Floss magazine (and their website), though I recently had a story on This American Life, and had a cover story last year in The Portland Mercury.

You can follow me on Twitter for occasional jokes, or find me on Facebook for updates on writing and utterly shameless self-promotion.

I'm also a mobile website and smartphone app developer. I work for Cloud Four. In years past, I worked with Night & Day Studios; I helped create Peekaboo Barn, Peekaboo Wild, Big Fat Lies, Life in Short, Cocktail Compass, Nick Jr.'s A-Z With Moose and Zee, Quibble, Savage Love, and a bunch of other apps.

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