This is the best advertisement for a flu shot ever... ... which reminds me I still need to get mine... but Suko, you should go be good! Go click on a risky URL and let me know how it goes ;)
Hmmm... might jump in on some of these... have never written a letter as part of a larger group... but would like to write smaller/briefer letters as practice... can I be nice enough though? Hmmm...
If you're looking for a meaningful postal connection beyond just your annual holiday cards, I highly recommend getting involved with More Love Letter's 12 Days of Letter Writing. Their's is a project we at L.W.A.H.Q. wholeheartedly support and champion at any time of year, but we felt like this project in particular was a good highlight of the spirit of the season. They have selected twelve people in need of support and are posting an address a day. From December 2 - 13, they'll share a new letter request each morning. You'll have the day to write to someone who needs more love, encouragement, and light. Write as many letters as you want! I find their Instagram page to be the easiest way to find out who to write. Our love goes out to all the letter writers and all the letter readers.
really enjoyed the presentation of this site
Tero Parvianen has en excellent introduction to Generative Music with lots of live examples. Well worth 20 minutes of your time with lots of food for thought.
OoOOo! The Old Reader Trending section yields some fun posts...
I’ve been trying to get a new kit or two done for the Harrogate knit and stitch show at the end of next month, and I decided I needed bad rabbits
but I’ve also put them in the shop, if anyone wants one before that.
I normally take my handbag embroidery into schools to work on at breaks etc, but decided to put this on a small frame and take it to work with me, because My sewing time at home is taken up with other things at the moment – plus I was doing some crime and punishment storytelling with some year sixes last week, so it seemed kind of appropriate. Children are often interested in my embroidery, but I used this to talk about the dangers of travel by road in the middle ages, and the fact that all medeival rabbits are actaully hares and therefore female also makes this a picture of two women beating up a man.
The whole time I’ve been working on it kids have been more interested than usual. Today, as I was doing a history visit and was putting the final touches whilst the children handled the artefacts we’d been talking about, one particularly sneaky Y3 sidled up behind me while his teacher wasn’t looking, and asked what I was doing.
“sewing” says I
“bad rabbits” i says
“is that a movie?”
“hmmm”, I says “I don’t think so, but it sounds cool. I would definitely go and see bad rabbits the movie.”
“me too,” he agrees, and sidels back to his seat.
So if any Hollywood types are reading this, when you make “bad wabbits – the motion picture” myself the and sneaky young gent from Year three would like a large cheque for creative consultancy, thanks.
Gareth has been insisiting for the last week that no one, not ever, will buy an embroidery kit of two rabbits beating some poor bloke up, so ffs, would someone please buy one just to shut him up?
(he also says telling you so someone will buy one is cheating – see how insufferable he is? This man can not be allowed to be right, there’s some sort of feminist principle at stake)
I’m going through some old public posts from my Patreon that never got shared here and cross-posting in an attempt to get back into blogging, like them old days of the early 2000s. This one is from November 2018.
The mentor from the SFWA I was recently paired with recommended Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer, a book I 100% would not have picked up on my own. I’m reluctant to read guide and writing process books, partially because I hate what their tone tends to be and partially because it’s all about stuff I cannot even give two shits about. But I’ve connected with my mentor well enough that I trusted her judgement and I liked how she’d presented it, as a way to think about the writing process and get more receptive to ideas. I often feel a little overwhelmed by fragments and figments, so why the hell not give this book a try?! Also, I had a big ol’ Amazon gift card from winning an employee of the month equivalent at work (??!!) so I got a physical copy as per her recommendation, since it’s full of illustrations and diagrams.
I pretty much fell in love with it right away. I feel so blessed whenever someone can recommend something to me, and this book really seems written for anyone, on any level of skill, who wants to tell stories. I’m going to share some of my favourite bits in the first two chapters I’ve read.
The first quote is from the first page of the first chapter and basically sold me on this book. The second is from basically the end of the second chapter and I like how they work together.
“Inspiration” is often inadequately defined as the initial spark or sparks that lead to a story. In fact, the word describes a continuing process that occurs throughout the development of a particular piece of fiction—an ongoing series of revelations put together by your subconscious and conscious minds working in tandem.
The particles known as words accumulate, each sentence building up or changing in ways both minute and potentially earthshaking, our perception of characters, the mood and events.
Storytelling is something that happens in layers and moments that rely on each other, like adding washes to a painting or the process of stitching and ironing and stitching and piecing a piece of clothing. These are things I know but I need to see and be reminded of. Related to the above quotes is this, from somewhere in the second chapter:
Don’t become impatient with the amount of time it takes for a story or novel to come alive in your mind before you start writing. Thoughtfully considering what you write is an essential part of the process.
Remembering it’s okay to let an idea stew is good. I make food this way all the time, why can’t I remember it’s okay to let thoughts render all the fat off the bone! Like food also it’s good to remember you have fuckups and failures to know what not to do, and that the writing process can be a flexible one.
The layout of Wonderbook is sort of like a textbook, with insets and margin notes and special sections by people who know what they’re talking about. This is a bit from a section by Kim Stanley Robinson on exposition:
It’s also always okay to have one character explain something to another. This needn’t be an “As you know, Doctor” embarrassment, because in reality we teach each other things all the time, sometimes crucial things: so moments like these are simultaneously exposition, characterization and plot.
A lot of the book so far isn’t really so much saying a lot of the formulaic, hero journey, seven-point-plot, Save The Cat advice is wrong as it is spending time explaining the organic nature of storytelling and the range of ways to tell a story available.
My mentor encouraged me to just try to do one short story a month, which is what I had been trying to do and failing, but I think with her encouragement it’ll be easier. Get in this grind! Get in this pattern! Don’t keep getting distracted by the things I’m reading!
My mentor also suggested some very awesome short stories to me and I tore the hell through them, so let me share some faves with you!
Lately, it seems like nothing but doom-and-gloom reporting when it comes to the U.S.P.S. Just yesterday, the court found that the latest stamp increase of a nickel was illegal. Every other op-ed I read about it has a new speculation, and none of them are good, if you want my own opinion about it. Recently, Amazon announced they wouldn't use FedEx for a portion of their shipping anymore. That touched off a rumor that Amazon is going to launch a bid for privatizing the U.S.P.S.
Sounds like comments I've written before in my code...
I look forward to reading this section! My copy arrived this week!
hi hello alert so that classic tumblr flowing jungle river post is now cited in a real book like an actual paper book and it’s called because internet and it’s all about the evolution of internet language and how TUMBLR DID THE THING and you can get it here
I love this one more than usual for some reason...
What I spend my evenings thinking about when I'm stoned...
:'( Sad to see it go, but also reasonable... can't actually say I patronized the cafe much... I'm going to miss them on Valencia when they're gone...
Most of the time I think that it's better to explain a thought process first and put the conclusion at the end. But sometimes it seems better to do it the other way around. This is one of those times.
We're shutting down the cafe element of Borderlands this Tuesday, April 30th. It's not a wonderful thing, but it's not a terrible thing either.
We opened the cafe in 2009, right in time for the recession to really start to bite (at least in the Bay Area). Keeping the cafe going took a lot of very hard work, not just from me and Jude, but from all the original crew. But we did it and the cafe became a modest success. Certainly we found a group of great regular customers who liked the place we made and what we did.
All of us at the cafe also had a chance to work with a wonderful group of people. Numerous friendships were made, many of which exist to this day. Relationships were started (some of which I probably still don't know about) and roommates were found. It was, and still is, a great community.
But, over the past two years, it has become very hard to find and retain staff. Food service jobs always have high turnover and Borderlands was better than average (our first employee still works with us and many of the staff have been with us for multiple years). But, in the last two years and despite hiring almost constantly, we have almost always been short by one person. At times we've been short by two or even three. For a business that at full staff only employs nine or ten people, that's been very difficult for all of us -- especially Z'ev (the cafe manager) and me.
Why it's been so hard to find staff is something that I can only speculate about, but my guess is that it's not a simple matter of displacement, gentrification, or the higher cost of living in SF. Though that has played into it, I think that it's also a matter of there being plenty of jobs out there that pay better and are easier than slinging coffee. Working in a cafe is damn hard. Certainly, I wouldn't choose it as a job if there was much else on offer.
Another factor is that high school students don't seem to be looking for food service jobs. At one point more than half of the staff were in high school. (Now, only one of them is, and he'll be graduating soon.) The reasons for that are beyond me, but it may just be another aspect of the things I mentioned in the previous paragraph.
But, for whatever reason, we've had a hard, hard time keeping the place properly staffed. And that's one reason for closing.
Another reason is that Borderlands was a cafe built for Valencia Street in 2010. All of us suspect that it's not the right sort of cafe for 2019 or 2020. Our aim was to make a place that was pretty simple. No large selection of coffee varieties, no high-end teas, no very complex food with tasteful presentation. To be clear, we're not against any of those things (hell, most of us like 'em) but we were aiming for a place to grab a cup of good coffee, a bagel, and have a chat with a friend. Or play chess. Or read. Or write. A place to relax or be creative.
I think that folks are looking for something different now. Maybe more complex, maybe more of an experience, or, to be painfully honest, maybe something that's just simply "better" than what we do. Whatever people are looking for, we don't seem to have it, and so business hasn't been very good. Last year especially wasn't very good.
Initially we planned to deal with that by changing what we offered. That's the reason we added more food options this year. But, Jude, Z'ev and I realized that none of us had the time to really re-imagine the place. Jude's working like hell to stay on top of the store and Z'ev's doing the same with the cafe (and they are both doing extraordinary jobs, under challenging circumstances). I've got my hands more than full with the construction work on the Haight Street building, along with my work in the office. So, we don't have the time to remake the cafe. And, I don't think any of us really have an appetite for it either.
And that's another reason to close. We don't think that the cafe is actually very well-suited to the market and, as a result, we're losing money.
The final reason is very personal. As I think most of your know, one of our long-time booksellers, Cary Heater, passed away quite suddenly at the beginning of this year. She was my oldest friend and she wasn't born much before me. As it would for many people, that prompted me take a look at my own life and mortality. Very specifically, I looked at how I'm spending my life. Because that's what we all do -- you only get so much and, despite not always realizing what a valuable coin it is, we spend it until it's gone.
I have enjoyed running the cafe and I kind of like it. But I love being a bookseller, more than anything I've done in my life. I also love being with my friends and the family I've chosen. As much as I can, I want to spend the coin of my life on the things that I love . . . not on things that I "kind of" like.
And that is the final reason that we're closing.
I'm very grateful to all our customers who have supported us over the years. And I'm especially grateful to the customers who have made it truly fun to work the counter. But most of all, I'm grateful to the staff who made Borderlands Cafe a great place. The real credit for what we made goes to them.
All Best Wishes,
PS If you're wondering if this will have any effect on the bookstore; it won't. The cafe and bookstore have always been run as separate businesses and so the cafe's closure has no effect on the store at all.
PPS If you're wondering what's going to happen to the location; for the month of May we'll be using it for author events and as a showroom while we sell off the cafe's equipment (and, perhaps, some of the excess stuff in the bookstore -- we are going to be moving soon, after all -- anyone out there want a cat-clawed bookshelf? It's pretty cheap). After that, there will be a soft-story retrofit which, thankfully, won't impact the bookstore very much. Finally, the location will go on the rental market, because we have terminated our lease, effective May 31st.
PPPS Also, through May, the cafe will be available to the groups who have regular meetings. Z'ev and I will be working with those groups to find other places that they can meet but, for at least a month, they'll still have a place. They'll just need (or, "have the opportunity to") bring their own drinks and food.
Beautiful analogies. Fitting. So perfect. Yes.
This is great. Good info, good feeling
Because I’m a painter, I move around in a constant state of inspiration.
Everywhere you go you see paintable things. You can’t look at the sky most days without seeing a great painting.
Naturally, I’m also addicted to social media – just like most of you – I’m constantly inspired by images I see online.
I’m also constantly anxious and afraid to do anything about that inspiration.
For fear of Copyright Violation! (Cue Sinister Music).
As artists, we’re always hearing; “You can’t copy someone else’s artwork! You can’t paint from someone else’s photo!”
These regulations are always popping up in calls for entry, or in commentary about work online.
“That’s not real art, it’s just a copy!”
As if painting in nature, standing in front of the landscape, isn’t just a copy? Or sitting with a model or a still life or some flowers. Artists are just the world’s most subjective camera.
So – I did some research and here are my thoughts:
- I am not a lawyer so this is my lay-informed opinion.
- Yes – diverting business income by taking work and re-selling it is wrong. Classic example: downloading artwork and making it into t-shirts. < (People have done that to me).
- Also, commercial use of a recognizable likeness of someone’s face – this is a theft of income. Every human has the right to be paid for the (commercial) use of their image. (Though, not in every legal jurisdiction. Personality Rights are not recognized in NYC for example).
- Same goes for commercial use of a building, a car, or even street art if it ends up in a photo. (Designers and Architects have the same rights).
- No direct, mechanical copy FOR PROFIT < this is common sense.
- NON-commercial use of anything (art, photos, likeness) is totally fine.
- Copies by students are an easy example. Copied work appearing in your illustration or portraiture portfolio is less obviously ok – but IS considered fair-use. (It’s a true demonstration of your skill, not a commercial product. The commercial product is the future work you might gain, not the copy itself).
- AND >>>> most people don’t know this >>> one-of-a-kind original art is almost always ruled non-commercial.
- The Graphic Artist Guild of America says: “Generally, works of fine art are not considered commercial even if they sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Courts are more likely to consider artwork commercial if it is sold as mugs or t-shirts…”
- The key difference being, art is (generally) sold once (or a handful of times). The intent is not mass production.
- Being inspired by an image, making (and selling) a TRANSFORMATIVE work is totally NOT copyright infringement.
- The existence of the new work does not in any way reduce the value of the old work. Often it actually increases value, by a kind of cachet effect. (The original work must be great if it inspires so many copies).
- Examples of Transformative work:
- Translating to a different media: Photograph recreated in line-art or weaving or say – an impasto oil painting.
- Creating a composite image: Use multiple images for reference. To be safe, take no significant amount, or at least, equal amounts from each. (eg: collage).
- Altering the source image: Enough that it would not be recognized by a stranger – not by the original artist. (They are too close to the issue). This also covers portrait-likeness. If a stranger (not the model) would not recognize the work, then you have not stolen their face – even if you admit to using their photo as reference.
- Doing all of these things is bulletproof, but any one of these transformations *might* be sufficient to be within Fair Use. (It’s up to the judge).
- Rules of thumb: Has the material taken from the original work been transformed by adding new expression or meaning? (Such as parody, or recontextualizing or juxtaposition). Was value added to the original by creating new information, new aesthetics, new insights, and understandings?
OK! Still with me?
That’s my rant about why it’s OK to think and act upon your actual creative thoughts.
Every thought we think comes from somewhere.
You see something, you read something, and you combine old ideas into new ideas. There’s nothing new under the sun.
Don’t be ashamed of seeing a great painting or photo and thinking – man – I would love do my own version of that!
All that said: you should still credit your sources.
It’s just good grace between artists, and, if you are confident you’re doing transformative work, then there’s no reason not to.
Iiiiiinteresting... I've never played a solo game before. Adam and I always joke about the solo versions of Race for the Galaxy... but this... this is... interesting...
I've gotten a number of recommendations to look into an RPG called Quill. For the unfamiliar, an RPG is a Role Playing Game. Letter writing and role playing game are part of the Venn diagram that is my life; so this is something that I clearly should know more about. Maybe you should too! Let's learn together!
From the Drive Thru RPG blurb:
"Quill is a solo role playing game with a twist. Instead of hacking goblins and looting caves, you are writing letters. Rather than having attributes like strength or dexterity, characters in Quill use Penmanship, Language and Heart. In a game of Quill you will write real letters, with the aim to craft the best, most beautiful missive possible in order to get a favorable response. You will use words from the Ink Pot to inspire your letter - but be warned, should you roll badly you could end up writing a bad letter."
From the rules:
"In a typical game of Quill the aim is to impress your recipient into responding favourably to your letter. You will accomplish this through deft use of language and presentation, rolling dice to determine whether or not you succeed in using the right words, the best descriptors and the most beautiful penmanship. Once you have completed your letter – one which you will actually physically write yourself – you will count up your total score and discover how your letter has been received."
In the interest of science, I did download the PDF. To start, it's a little different from what I'm used to because it's a solo, meaning one player, game. My experience with role playing games has always been collaborative. This game basically asks you to play along with the scenarios and characters presented in the rulebook. There are dice to be rolled to determine whether or not you can use the "Superior" word or add a "Flourish" to your point-winning phrase. It's all self-policed, but I find it a charming concept. I am unsurprised to read that teachers have been using it as a learning tool. People have been doing really fun things with it. Look at this!
oh god, this concept. I can imagine it being a thing in the not-so-distant future and I want it...
oh my god, yes. A & I were just talking about this movie yesterday... also discussing dystopias and the nature of time and fate.... so I guess we're just part of a general mood sweeping many a-person... but this is flippin' uncanny.
Chap hop pleases me...
Today’s Creative Use of English Swear Word Morphosyntax Award goes to this song:
I’ve no more fucks to give,
My fucks have runneth dry,
I’ve tried to go fuck shopping
But there’s no fucks left to buy
I've a friend working at the Internet Archive and I'm pretty sure I briefly worked with the left-pad guy. The world is small... and this comic is true..
Happy to see CR reaching an ever broadening audience...
John and I go to so many cons that its easy to track the newest and most popular shows, because anyone who cosplays will tell you: that's a labor of love you reserve for the very best. So if I see a sudden tidal wave of characters from something I don't know, then heck yeah, I'm gonna check it out.
Plus then I get to call it "research."
[Me, in my 6th hour of watching anime: "I'M WORKING, JOHN."]
Cosplay is how I first discovered (and fell in love with) Steven Universe, Gravity Falls, My Hero Academia, and getting to the point of this post, Critical Role. [insert Mercer's eyebrow lift here]
I first started watching Campaign 2 of Critical Role last August, I think?, and I've JUST NOW caught up. This is a fandom that demands massive amounts of your time, but pays off in so much heart, laughter, and even occasional tears.
Hang on, I should probably back up and tell you what it is.
Critical Role is a web show/podcast where "a bunch of nerdy-ass voice actors sit around and play Dungeons & Dragons." It's led and DM'd by Matt Mercer, who my fellow Overwatch players know as the voice of McCree.
The 4-hour (sometimes longer!) show is live streamed on Twitch and YouTube every Thursday night, and Campaign 2 is currently up to Episode 48. That's over 192 hours of content - and their last campaign had 115 episodes. Yeah. Wowza.
Now, if that description sounds less than compelling, believe me, I understand. I actually started listening to the show as a way to help me fall asleep at night, ha. After a few weeks something terrible happened, though: it got so interesting I couldn't fall asleep. Then I realized I needed to WATCH these people, not just listen to them, because they often make jokes and react to things the others are doing, rather than saying. And since they're all pro voice actors who drop in and out of their character voices, there were times I couldn't tell who the heck was talking.
Once I was actually watching the show, I realized I had to watch all the announcements, too, because they were so funny. Then I had to start reading the comments (breaking the first rule of the internet, I know) for all the fan theories and in-jokes. Then I had to watch all the fan art at the end, because it was gorgeous and often illustrated parts of the previous show.
So yeah, a few months in, and I was a fully fledged Critter. (We even get a cool fan name!)
Again, this is a fandom that asks a lot, and the pay-off (at least for me) can be a slow burn. Even now I find the show drags sometimes, but then it will sneak up and sucker punch me with an amazing twist, or a sweet back story, or a heist-gone-wrong. Plus you can't spend this much time with 7* people without feeling like you know them, and sitting in their virtual circle (...triangle?) feels like hanging out with friends. (*Technically there are 8 in the cast, but Ashley isn't there much.)
There are two married couples in the cast: Matt & Marisha (Marisha is on the right in that pic) and Laura & Travis (middle). A lot of fans like to joke that Sam & Liam are married, too, because their bro-mance is real and adorable and often the most hysterical part of the show:
Liam's and Sam's characters are actually a couple in the show, but not in a romantic way. Sam plays a tiny goblin girl, and Liam is a... well... hobo wizard. I won't spoil anything, but their dynamic remains the best, purest, most heart-warming story arc in CR, and I can't wait to see where it goes.
I won't go into the other characters because there's just too much, and I'd probably accidentally spoil something. There's a little of everything, though: from the mysterious, angst-driven type to the immature joker to the warrior to the snarky hedonist. They also have guest stars sometimes - other voice actors - who honestly keep getting better and better. Oh! And as the DM, Matt plays every other character the team talks to, which has yielded pure GOLD on a number of occasions. (His flirty Dwarven barkeep was a personal favorite.) The best has to be Pumat Sol, a firbolg shopkeeper with three clones, a magical supply shop, and a voice like a tipsy Canadian angel. I'm telling you, PURE. GOLD.
Right, I think I've raved and rambled long enough. SO.... any fellow Critters out there? Have you cosplayed any of your favorite characters? Crafted anything? Started playing D&D? Spill! Tell me in the comments, or share your pics on FB or IG so I can see!
And if you're not a Critter (yet?), I hope you'll give the show a chance! I recommend starting with Campaign 2 like I did; it's a fresh start with everyone playing all new characters, so it doesn't matter if you've seen Campaign 1. You can watch the first episode right here on YouTube. Just a cautionary note for parents and/or anyone listening at work: there are F bombs GALORE, which took me a while to get used to. There are also plenty of crude jokes and characters drawing wangs on everything, so proceed and parent accordingly. :D
I'm sooooooo happy everyone likes this movie! Can't wait to watch it again with Adam (though likely via Netflix)
oh man, so tempted to do this now...
Wait, what? No really. Oh, those wacky Victorians. Bless 'em for their love of ephemera and the joy they had in sending cards, but some of their practices are quite perplexing. I enjoyed this article at Hyperallergic on why dead birds on Christmas cards were a thing at one time. Basically, it all boils down to those damn dirty pagans. The article is a good read. Have you started sending out holiday cards yet? What do you think people 200 years from now will find very strange about our greeting cards?
So flippin' true... happened today in fact
An interesting problem... on one hand, it has crossed my mind to write to an inmate (I've written to random people across the US before) but there's also the creepy factor...
Here at L.W.A.H.Q. we don't do pen pal matches for currently incarcerated individuals. Kathy and I simply aren't able to do the legal and emotional work required for that service. We've had to add a disclaimer on the pen pal swap and membership pages because transparency and member privacy are paramount in importance to us. Unfortunately, we are not infallible and rely on the honesty of individuals when they sign up for the program. All physical mail from a currently incarcerated person is clearly marked; so we do screen out any requests that we can identify. We thank all of you for your patience and understanding in this matter. This hasn't been an easy decision. Letters are a quite literal life-line for people in prison. Personally, I have had two family members spend time in prison. I'm not special in this regard. After all, America is a prison industrial complex on the largest scale. It's one of the many, many problems we face.
There are numerous organizations out there that are devoted to serving the needs of prisoner correspondents. Two organizations that I think are doing fantastic with pen pals for prisoners are Black & Pink and Solitary Watch. If you have had a prison pal relationship and wish to share your experience or other information in the comments, we welcome you to do so. Thank you for listening.
thegaylinguist: “what is a linguist?” linguists: a person who studies language at a meta level; a...
“what is a linguist?”
linguists: a person who studies language at a meta level; a language scientist
average non-linguist: a walking dictionary, encyclopedia, spelling/grammar-checker, & translator
amazon, google, microsoft: a data scientist specializing in ontology
Lindsey of The Postman's Knock has a fantastic round-up of her Halloween projects from the previous years. There are nine paper and calligraphy ideas for your eerie enjoyment. It's got printables and how-tos. All treats here, folks, no tricks.
P.S. And congratulations to her and her family on their recent special delivery.
Tormenting (I mean helping) cats. Awesome. Clearly I need to make one of these for Duck :)