(no subject)

Jul. 24th, 2017 07:48 am
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Good morning everyone, and welcome to Radio Free Monday!

Ways To Give:

Anon reminds us that the 2017-18 school year is coming, and [tumblr.com profile] positivelypt has a post up with links to wishlists for underserved classrooms. You can check out the list, give, and reblog here.

[tumblr.com profile] rilee16 is struggling to cover medical expenses after two head injuries last year, and has a fundraiser running to cover living expenses, previous medical bills, and a recent rent increase. You can read more and help out here.


Help For Free:

Anon linked to [tumblr.com profile] globalsextrendsproject, who are working on an independent research projected aimed at establishing whether there are global trends in stimuli for sexual arousal and the content of sexual fantasies. You can read more and reblog here or fill out the form here. I took a quick breeze through the form and it's primarily short-answer rather than multiple choice, once you get past the demographic stuff.


Activism:

[tumblr.com profile] stabulous has a post up about Welcome Blanket, a project initiated by the Smart Museum of Art in Chicago and anti-Trump craftivists. They are asking people to send handmade blankets to be exhibited at the Smart and afterwards distributed to refugees and immigrants arriving in the US. The hope is to create 3200 blankets to equal the length of the wall Trump wants to build across the US-Mexico border. You can read more at the link above, and find out how to participate at the official site, which includes activism resources whether you want to actually send in a blanket or not.


News To Know:

[personal profile] brainwane linked to Creative Commons, which is offering grants of up to USD$1000 for small projects ("Salons, campaigns, translations, e-books, printing, collaborations, and more") which grow the global commons. They want help increasing discovery, collaboration, and advocacy towards their mission. You can read more and apply for a grant here.

Anon linked to [tumblr.com profile] dr-kara's new comic available on ComixOlogy, [Super]Natural Attraction! Kara is well-known to me as a groovy artist who does cool stuff so while I haven't read this yet I wholeheartedly recommend her work. She has a rebloggable post about it here and you can buy and read it here.

And this has been Radio Free Monday! Thank you for your time. You can post items for my attention at the Radio Free Monday submissions form. If you're not sure how to proceed, here is a little more about what I do and how you can help (or ask for help!). If you're new to fundraising, you may want to check out my guide to fundraising here.

The Magical Knowledge of Knitters

Jul. 23rd, 2017 02:35 pm
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Yesterday I attended a crafting afternoon I'd been invited to, even though I am not a crafter. Not sure what I would do with myself for several hours among strangers (though one person who would be there I've known for years, and used to write-in with), I grabbed my old, original notebooks for my story, thinking I could at the very least spend some time rereading my old notes and such. The semi-dreaded event, because STRANGERS, turned into a heck of a lot of fun and very entertaining. Everyone else there is involved either as artists (milliner!) or actors/teachers of Scarborough Renaissance Fair, which I've never been to (but will now - I comped a freebie ticket to go with a solemn promise I would come next year). Through my friend who plays one of the characters there, I know a little bit about the training and devotion these people have. They were so much fun! And heck no, not interested in becoming involved - I have never wanted to act, thanks (and the TIME involved is outrageous, but they love it so), but it was fun to just listen to the stories, learn about quilting (I'm gonna!) and just...be with creative people, many of whom also write fiction(yay).

While one person worked on a costume, another worked on really cool microwave bowl holders (I want one now), others knitted. Watching one of my new acquaintances frog her entire piece of knitting because she found several errors, it truly struck me how casual she was about it. "Oh well! Happens!" Someone else stated that sometimes, you have to take a project to a certain point to realize the right path to take with it, then rip it apart and start it all over again. Her words hit me like getting struck with a case of lightbulbs.

Knitters are fearless, in other words. They know that a whole project scrapped is a bit of a pain, but only means better is to come next time. I watched not just this person, but two other people frog their work back to a certain point before continuing onward. Just part of knitting, I was told, and I had a sudden burst of envy for this attitude, then realized -- why not adopt it for myself?

And so I have. Rereading my old notebooks, all geared toward the YA I ended up merging with the big fantasy story, made me realize that it is possible I took that path for a reason -- and that it is also possible that I will be going back down that path again, armed with the new understanding of the behind-the-ya-scenes of what is happening in Aneli's world, but that I don't necessarily need to show it all. I needed to go through it, yes, I needed to knit all that information together, but to tell Aneli's story, as I had originally planned - and which I honestly, truly love -- I don't need to share everything I've written.

This doesn't mean I have deleted a thing. Instead, I made a new Scrivener, made a copy of the conjoined version, and removed everything but Aneli's storyline. I'm going to finish her storyline and then at that point decide -- keep her separate? Or go ahead and finish the other storylines and mesh together? Or, what I am feeling strongly is the right thing to do (for me), finish the other storylines for myself, sharing later perhaps on a Patreon.

Or at the very end I may decide hey to put them all back together again which is easily enough done! For now though I am excited to finish Aneli's storyline. Then we will see what happens!
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I still have to review Extra Virginity as well, but I actually liked that one, so it will take longer to compose….

One of the things I did get done yesterday between work, the ball game, and the Epic Sunburn, was finish a slim book of short stories called A City Equal to My Desire by James Sallis. This wasn’t a book that was recommended to me, which means I don’t have to feel bad about truly disliking it. I found it in a keyword search on the library website for books about ukuleles, and it has a short story called Ukulele And The World’s Pain, which admittedly was one of the better stories in the book despite still not being very good.

From what I can tell, he did pick the best story out of the book to develop into a novel, “Drive”, but it is very obviously unfinished in short-story form. Sallis has a couple of ongoing problems in the short story collection, one of which is that he tends to skip the vital information you need in order to know what the fuck is going on. And not in a “the blanks slowly get filled in” way, or in a “your imagination is more terrible” way (though there is a little of that) but just in a way where like…he says something that you understand to be vital to the story but which is missing context, then spends like a page describing the fucking diner someone’s sitting in, and by then any context forthcoming doesn’t get linked back. It’s like being in the middle of a paragraph when you hit the photo plates in an older book – yes the photos are very interesting thank you but I need to finish the thought you were sharing with me before I go back and look at them. I think maybe he thinks this is challenging the reader but it’s not, it’s just annoying and makes what are otherwise interesting premises totally opaque. I shouldn’t need to work this hard for a story about a hit man who decides not to kill a politician. 

If the book had a more cohesive theme in terms of the stories, it might be more readable – he clearly enjoys building worlds and then doesn’t quite know what to do with them once he’s built them, so if this was an entire book of “weird and different worlds” ala Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, I would buy in more fully and I think he would have put a little more elbow in. But it’s not. It’s mostly “here’s a really interesting world and a person living in squalor in it does something while being in it”. Also he appears to be fascinated by describing things that are shaped like pi. And a lot of times it feels like he read a wikipedia article on something and wanted to share some knowledge, so he just kind of built a half-assed story around his wikiwander. 

And all of this I would probably let go if say, it was something I was noticing in a fanfic writer, or someone who was just starting out, or someone I felt was genuinely trying to get a point across. But there’s this inexplicable sense of arrogance to the collection, a sort of smugness to it that in professional writers drives me up the goddamn wall. Stephen King sometimes falls into the same trap, where it feels like the author believes they don’t have to respect their readers because they are The Writer. 

The thing about volumes of short stories is that you keep reading it because sometimes there is a real gem. And there are one or two good stories in the volume, but I don’t know if they’re worth the rest of it. 

So my review I guess is mostly me being annoyed, but it boils down to “If you like short stories in the SFF Noir genre, give it a whirl, but if you’re bored with a story none of them get better, so feel free to skip to the next one.” 

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I am like….90% sure I’m going camping this Friday. 

It depends a bit on the weather, but I’m mostly packed, I’ve cooked food that’s currently waiting in the freezer, and I have acquired the third Diane Mott Davidson book to read. 

The plan is to leave work early, catch the train to the campground, camp overnight, and in the morning hike out to a different train station further down the line, about a seven-mile trek, to do a longer endurance test than last weekend’s. Then I’ll catch the train home around noon on Saturday.

If something goes wrong, I can catch an evening train home on Friday until eight o’clock, or starting in the morning at 5:30, with little to no exertion. It’s pretty low-risk and I’m well stocked. I don’t have a sleeping pad, but my backpack has a partial one built-in, and I have one arriving tomorrow (though it might be too bulky, we’ll see). And honestly in this heat, I might just sleep on top of my sleeping bag in any case. 

Worst case scenario, the campground has heated, lockable shower cubicles with nice big floors. I’ve slept on worse. 

Caaaaaaamping! *jazz hands*

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Stimulation

Jul. 18th, 2017 10:22 pm
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I have pretty much always drawn while listening to the radio. From my first Harry Potter drawings, done behind the counter of a rarely-visited gift shop with mandatory country music playing, through a few years of film and musical soundtracks and half the Vancouver Public Library's collection of audiobooks, to the discovery of Radio 4 and all that. I need a chew toy to distract the verbal half of my brain and let the bit doing the spatial/fine motor work get on with it.

Once before I've had to make do without much to listen to: In 2007, long after I'd got used to having a computer at my desk with all its streaming and/or distracting opportunities, I interned at James Baxter's studio, the upper floor of an old warehouse and last preserve of analogue animation desks in LA. The other interns had laptops, but I only had my tiny iPod Nano, and after a week or two I'd memorised pretty much everything on it. But an odd thing happened when I ran out of external stimulation, and my Left Brain's clamour for distraction was perforce denied long enough: it shut up and went away to do its own thing, and good lord did I ever get a lot done.

I've been in the same position the last couple of days. I'm in Bristol doing a few days on-site at the studio for which I've been freelancing, doing rotations, the sort of work on which I most "need" something to listen to, and during which I get most of my radio listening done. I do have my laptop with me, just in case, but have not turned it on yet, nevermind accessed the WiFi. And my brain is doing the same thing. It's a little bit miraculous: I thought I was another casualty of our hyper-distracted age, yet here I am, doing relatively tedious work in a silent room, perfectly content.

It's made me resolve to turn off as much as I can when I get back home. I can't imagine going fully without the radio, as it does help to keep me on task when the infinite distractions of working from home (snacks, chores, errands, etc) come knocking, but I need to budget other distractions much more strictly. They aren't doing me much good, anyway – certainly less than what I'd gain with improved concentration and productivity.

Funny how these lessons keep coming back around every few years until you learn them ...

(no subject)

Jul. 17th, 2017 08:48 am
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Good morning everyone, and welcome to Radio Free Monday!

Ways to Give:

[tumblr.com profile] readera's partner, J, has been in the ER multiple times in the past three months, and their finances are very strained because of it. They're raising $300-$500 for transportation costs and medicine; you can read more and reblog here or give directly here.

[tumblr.com profile] sleepyheathen needs to make next month's rent and is selling items, offering commissions, accepting donations, and has an Amazon wishlist up. You can read more, purchase, or reblog here, or donate via paypal here.

[tumblr.com profile] tony-in-distress is trying to escape an abusive situation and hoping to take her siblings with her. She needs to raise enough money for a deposit on a safe house for her and her siblings to live in. You can read more and help out here.

Anon is raising funds to help a friend cover debt and pay for legal bills after her abusive husband took custody of their youngest son. You can read more and give here; unfortunately due to Australian law apparently they can't provide much information.

Sarah Sadat had to leave her job recently due to stress and is facing mounting medical bills for a failing kidney and previous hospitalization; she has surgery scheduled for next month, and is fundraising to help cover medical and other bills. You can read more and give to the fundraiser here.

[tumblr.com profile] ohstephyy was let go from a job three months ago and hasn't been able to get another one; there are also other costs coming up to cover. You can read more and reblog here; a paypal address is available at the post.

[personal profile] laurashapiro linked to a fundraiser for [personal profile] kuwdora, a talented vidder who is trying to become a professional editor. She has an opportunity for professional coaching from the editor of Burn Notice and Empire, but can't afford the expenses on her own. You can read more and help out here.

Anon linked to [tumblr.com profile] tiarasnteakettles who is looking for work as a harpist, including attempting to purchase a harp that would be a massive upgrade from her current instrument and allow her more freedom in performance. You can read more about her situation and reblog here, including links to her Patreon and online store and Paypal donation address.

[tumblr.com profile] rilee16 is struggling to cover medical expenses after two head injuries last year, and has a fundraiser running to cover living expenses, previous medical bills, and a recent rent increase. You can read more and help out here.

News To Know:

Anon linked to [tumblr.com profile] wanderlust-anthology, an upcoming anthology of reimagined myths, legends, and folklore based on the theme Quests and Journeys. They are looking for creators for this anthology, which will be a full-color printed book with stories, comics, and artwork. You can read more at their tumblr or at the FAQ here; sign-ups close July 30th.

Housing:

Riel is looking for a roommate in Austin, TX to share a townhouse; she and the other roommate (male) are both grad students, and they do have a cat. Riel is very fandom-friendly. Lease starts in August. You can check out the townhouse here and get in touch at ariellayendler at gmail.com.

And this has been Radio Free Monday! Thank you for your time. You can post items for my attention at the Radio Free Monday submissions form. If you're not sure how to proceed, here is a little more about what I do and how you can help (or ask for help!). If you're new to fundraising, you may want to check out my guide to fundraising here.

Silas Wright

Jul. 15th, 2017 08:46 am
tealin: (terranova)
[personal profile] tealin
To my surprise, this blog missed out on the Silas love on Canada Day ... so here's making up lost time. Longtime followers may remember him as the snarky bespectacled guy in a nightcap, who I drew a lot when Worst Journey was my escapism at Disney; now that I'm doing all this For Real I needed to sit down and work out a proper design for him.


Charles Seymour 'Silas' Wright was the physicist and glaciologist on the Terra Nova Expedition – and Canadian! As such, naturally, he was constantly being ribbed for being 'American'; even his nickname 'Silas' comes from a joke of Birdie's:

Silas struck me one day on the ship as a typical Yankee name and in a happy moment I called him Mr Silas P. Wright of the Philadelphia Educational Seminary. Since then he has never been called anything but Cousin Silas or Silas.

(from a letter home, quoted in Silas: The Antarctic Diaries and Memoir of Charles S. Wright p. 28)


More drawings and anecdotes below... )

There are so many more anecdotes – like about how Silas was notorious for his prolific and varied swearing, and how he almost invented the Geiger counter, and the time they were sledging across new ice that was still so rubbery the sledge made a bow-wake, and getting carbon monoxide poisoning the second winter, and how he was almost the one to go to One Ton instead of Cherry, and – and – and –

But I've gone on quite long enough already, so those will have to wait for another day.
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A mango mixed jelly freeze from Chinatown is the best decision I have made all week.

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My parents signed me up for Nextdoor, which is like some kind of community-based mini facebook, and I am signed up in their neighborhood, which is (as we have established) The Boondocks.

I don’t mind belonging to their Nextdoor, it means that I will be kept abreast of local news, but also the local news is hilarious. 

The latest messages concern a HEATED DISCUSSION about hoof trimming because someone posted asking if anyone knows a farrier who will trim miniature horse hooves, which apparently most farriers have some kind of BASELESS PREJUDICE against according to this poster. Battle lines are quickly being drawn between the various camps including:

Miniature horses don’t need hoof maintenance the way regular horses do
Miniature horses ABSOLUTELY need hoof maintenance you monsters
Farriers who won’t do miniature horse hooves ain’t shit
Farriers who won’t do miniature horse hooves have their reasons
Miniature horses are some bullshit
Everybody shut up about miniature horses
I Have A Miniature Horse For Sale

I can’t wait to see who wins. I suspect it will be me. 

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Sweet Sweet Vindication

Jul. 12th, 2017 05:19 pm
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I still haven't finished that essay series, but it didn't stop my heart singing when listening to the Q&A at the end of Hilary Mantel's last Reith Lecture:
SUE LAWLEY: Now on the front row here, we have Peter Kosminsky, who directed the television adaptations of Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies. Famously Peter, and somewhat controversially, you lit them – because we were talking about lighting – by candlelight. I mean, did you two agree that? Was that collusion or did he rush off and – or did you approve, Hilary?

HILARY MANTEL: When Peter and I first met, what I said to him is, “When I imagine this book ..." I didn’t really have to say about lights and shades, candlelight. I think he just knew that, but I remember saying to Peter, “In every frame of the book, on every page in every transaction I see the wobble of the handheld camera, which brings me back to witnessing and reliability.” And I think your face illuminated my sitting room at that point, because I think it was catching onto your thought about what the mode of the drama should be.

and later ...

Anne Holland, retired Head Teacher and Volunteer at Chastleton National Trust House, which of course, part of Wolf Hall was filmed in. It’s a very naïve question. I’m a Catholic, and to me, the character of Thomas Cromwell was portrayed as a great hero. And of course, like everything, nobody’s black or white, but it intrigues me to see how strongly the views were both within the book, the film and the TV.

HILARY MANTEL: I hope to produce a nuanced portrait of Thomas Cromwell, as of Thomas More, of Henry VIII and all my characters, but good writers need good readers. The reader has to be prepared to lay aside their prejudices and read the nuances and interrogate every line asking how reliable is this person as witness to his story or someone else’s story. The texts of Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies ripple with doubt. My aim is to keep the text alive. It’s all about, as it were, putting the past back into process. So, what I’m trying to do ... if I had written my books at, say, from the point of view of Ann Boleyn, or I had chosen Thomas More as my lead character, then you would have a very, very different text but it doesn't mean that I am insincere or that text contains lies. The novel cannot, I think, be a neutral text but it can be a nuanced one.

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I just got home and the apartment REEKS of burnt toast. Which is weird since a) nothing is on fire (I checked), b) I haven’t even MADE toast in like a week, c) it didn’t smell like that this morning when I got home from running, and d) the smell is most intense when standing on my welcome mat just inside the door. 

I think Ghost is mad at me. They often express themselves with smells near the doorway. But I haven’t even done anything! The designated Ghost Drawer in the card catalogue shelf (under G, for Ghost) is open and everything, I checked. 

I cannot order you a pizza tonight, Ghost, I already have grocery delivery coming and I don’t want the Domino’s guy and the Peapod guy to make it awkward. We’ll have pizza on Thursday. 

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