Tuesday, January 31, 2012

In the News: January 31, 2012

Jail for Man Who Attacked Police with Light Sabers: Oh, is this rich story fodder. Mythos? Psychotic break? Passion for Star Wars and fury against the Dark Side?

In Classic vs. Modern Violins, Beauty is in the Ear of the Beholder: the New York Times has had several articles on this lately...also pertaining to cellos, which Stradivari also made. Even as not-a-classical-musician, I've heard of Stradivarius instruments, and understood them to be considered important. This kind of iconoclastic debate is interesting.

London's Big Ben is Leaning and Parliament Sinking: considering what I've read of various cities where portions of them sank (Seattle, Venice...), it's interesting to see if this is true, how bad it gets, and how London will react.

TSA Confiscates Cupcake; Frosting a Risk:  it would take a damn dedicated terrorist to frost a cupcake with C4 (or whatever), thereby (in my opinion) wasting it. Interestingly, my Aunt Alicia once brought a Key Lime Pie on carry-on from Tampa and it was fine (And delicious). This was in 2008.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Who Do You Write For?

When you write, do you imagine somebody reading the words over your shoulder? Or, do you imagine your words printed, on a magazine page or in your very own book, in the hands of housewives and students and commuters? Or, perhaps sadly, do you think only of your writing in the context of the electronic files, unread, on your computer?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Links for Thought

Remember how, back in October, I posted about my "favorite" ruined city? Well, for your viewing pleasure, I found a website with varying lists of abandoned places, complete with pictures: 8 Abandoned Theme Parks Abroad "Open" for Exploration is a good starting point.

In further followup to that blog post, you can watch the full documentary of Radioactive Wolves, streamed from the PBS website.

Not that I'm saying you should go exploring in these places (especially Chernobyl), but you can wear a rad gas mask while doing so. Also, have you heard of the video game, Stalker: Shadow over Chernobyl, and its sequel? There's a Russian novel called Roadside Picnic that was written back in 1971 about "Zones" that "Stalkers" went into in order to salvage things.  Here's the Wikipedia article for further detail, which also describes the somewhat odd title.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Entry for Blog Hop Contest!

Daniel Swensen, at Surly Muse, among others, is having a blog hop contest! The photo that was the writing prompt was really freaking cool and I just had to do it. I need yet another copy of Stephen King's On Writing like a need a hole in the head (I was up to 3 or 4 and think I'm down to 2 or 3, after giving one to a coworker who had none), but that's obviously assuming I place. Plus, I'm a sucker for writing prompts!

Write a piece of flash fiction, poem, or song (300 words or less) using the photo [below] as your inspiration. Post it on your blog anytime between now and when the link closes. Every eligible entry will qualify for a chance to win one of the prizes listed below. Links will close for submissions January 30th. Lillie, Angie, Angela and I will then read, debate, and decide on five winners for the following:
1st: Fifty page critique by Lillie McFerrin
2nd: Twenty-Five page critique edit by Angie Richmond
3rd: Fifteen page critique by Angela Goff
4th: Ten page critique by Daniel Swensen
5th: A copy of Steven King’s On Writing
 Winners will be announced February 7th.

There was a light in the forest.

No really.

Some hunters found it first, but nobody went to check on it. Truth be told, hunters were known to see a lot of things, be it brought on by buck fever or Budweiser. But no, the local Boy Scout troop found it as well, and that lent credibility.

Authorities trudged out to the scene, far from any road. They were trailed, conspicuously, by members of the press, and kids skipping school. Most of town, really. They all saw the light, yellow beams filtered through the dark branches. Then the pale flowers, gathered in the glow of a single bare bulb, hung in the middle of the clearing.

The mayor, some town board members and the sheriff stood and stared up, necks craned. Other than being in the middle of the woods, it was just like any other lightbulb they'd encountered in their lives. It didn't make any noise. It didn't burn white hot. It seemed kind of comfortable, really, a nice light in a formerly dark place.

It seemed safe, so they let people come and see. Everybody stared at the light until they saw bright floating spots when they looked away, peering through the trees as though perhaps there would be more, some kind of renovation that Mother Nature was in the middle of. No animals came.

After a month of front page headlines, and then the national tabloids, and a few newscasts, the light became commonplace. There was talk of merchandising it some way, maybe changing the team mascot from the desultory Knight to the mysteriously charged Lightbulb, but the student council voted it down.

As the months passed, the visitors tapered off. The snow fell, and people moved on to other things. Unseen, the light went out.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Book Review: The Millennium Trilogy, by Stieg Larsson

In the past week or so, I've read the three books in Stieg Larsson's "Millennium Trilogy" (called so because of Millennium Magazine, which features prominently in the narrative, not because it has anything to do with Lance Henriksen, but maybe he's Swedish as well?) I'd actually tried, years ago, to read the first book The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, with no success. I was bored out of my skull on page 20, and that's far beyond where I normally cut off my precious attention. But, so many people of all stripes are reading the books, there are the Swedish movies, and now the first American remake has come out...so I tried again.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Found it! Friday

Sorry that so much of this is taken up by the price tag. But, what? Is this a hand made, hand felted purse, dedicated to Old Ones? Perhaps Our Lord Cthulhu specifically? Or is that a flower? Or a sea anemone? Oh, Salvation Army, you keep your secrets close.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Warts and All

Sometimes, you read a book or story in which one of the main characters is somebody others flock to. Visionary, charismatic, a real champion of a cause, or maybe just really fun to be around. We see it in Atlas Shrugged, with John Galt (well, when we eventually see John Galt). We see it in Stranger in a Strange Land, with Valentine Michael Smith. There is a fine line between a character who is supposed to be a strong, idealistic, individualistic leader, and a total Mary Sue (or Gary Stu, for the male version).

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Different Language

I was a reader before I was a writer.

When I was little, I loved to be read to. My grandmother got me a beautiful edition of Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories, perhaps because it was Kipling and because it was beautiful, but she didn't think that at that age (4? 5?) I'd have the fortitude to sit through an entire story before bedtime.

She was incorrect.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Déjà vu: When a book you're reading is a book you've read before

A lot of people are excited for the Hunger Games movie to come out. I confess, I do have an interest; I think they picked a good Katniss, and I think that the action and story flow will translate well to the screen.


A few years back, 1999, a book came out in Japan and was subsequently translated to English. It was called Battle Royale, and was written by Koushun Takami. Battle Royale takes place in a fictional totalitarian state. Every year, a class of high school students is chosen to be taken to a location for "The Program", given weapons, and kill each other. There is one winner. If the students decline to kill one another, there is a time limit for nobody dying, and then they're all killed remotely and there is no winner. Pretty similar, n'est-ce pas?