must see magic love horror

Hello, readers.

I’ve finished Neuromancer. I believe this counts for 8 additional sci-fi cred points (sfcp’s, as the kids call them, the ones in my head that I made up anyway).

Here are a few links of note for you, this Thursday, the ancient day of the god Thor and the slightly less ancient god of NBC’s Must See TV.

An awesome Storify put together by Alyssa Wong wherein she asks writers to send her their favorites of stories they’ve written, and share why they favor them so very much.

I sent Alyssa a link to this old gem, Some Things about Love, Magic, and Hair, which I wrote about the why’s and wherefore’s in Some Things About Some Things.

Stories, like love, are a kind of magic, even to the writers and lovers. Especially to them, maybe, because some part of them, like the magician, knows that everything around them is an illusion, a carefully orchestrated system of smoke and mirrors and forevers designed to conceal the truth—that the woman is still in one piece, that the flying man is held up by wires, and that love, however true it seems, sometimes lasts for only a month, a year, or a day.

An interview with Kelly Link by Helen Oyeyemi

I do reread books and stories, all the time. Often children’s books and ghost stories, especially anthologies of ghost stories. Stephen King’s novels or collections. I reread things that I loved, or that had a particular effect on me. I once asked a bunch of horror writers why it was still pleasurable to reread scary stories when their power to scare us has diminished. The writer Nick Mamatas said, “I read to feel a sense of dread.”

A great interview with one of my favorite writers. ^_^

A review of Uncanny Magazine’s 4th Volume, Come into the Valley, by Angel Cruz.

It’s all tied together by Tran Nguyen’s astonishing cover art, if anything a tribute to the untameable nature of science fiction and fantasy, and the possibilities within. If there was ever a time to start reading Uncanny Magazine, Volume 4 confirms is it, with stimulating and truly enjoyable fiction, and a strong developing nonfiction base.

Happy gods and television, readers.


easier, not better. also happiness headbands.

Hello, readers.

We often confuse easier/cheaper/faster with better. We often confuse hard/expensive/slow with better, as well. We are, generally, confused about how to better. Happily, very soon, we will all be capable of wearing headbands that will let us know when we’re happy and that should take care of that.

Here are some good things to read.

The Bad Economics of Bad Coffee

But you get my point. For just the cost of the Keurig machine itself, you could have a cup of really good coffee every weekday morning for a year (260 days) and still have 46 cups leftover. Or, if you bought Seattle’s Best Coffee for about $6/bag, you could make over 440 cups of coffee, and you’d be even better off.

I was an undercover Uber driver

With the lower fares, drivers need to drive more to make the same amount. Anybody at any job would be pissed if their boss declared that they would now be working longer hours for no extra money. But for Uber drivers, who bear the entire cost of maintaining the cars, more driving also means more expenses.

This is often overlooked, because driving a car you own feels like it has no cost. But it’s not free — there’s gas, but also the less visible cost of just owning a car and driving it to death. I’m surprised to find, after running the numbers (you can check my math online), that the cost of driving my car for Uber came to a surprising 51 cents per paid mile. My expenses and depreciation ate 19 percent of my pay.

What would you pay to be happy?

When the 18th-century philosopher Jeremy Bentham suggested that maximising happiness was the job of government, he inspired a quest to measure happiness that continues today. Until recently, the only effective tool for that – as the political scientist Will Davies explains in a forceful new book, The Happiness Industry – has been money. The value of an object is determined by how much people are prepared to pay for it. The unpleasantness of a job – grave-digging or rubbish collection – can be measured in how much people need to be paid per hour to do it. Governments use these “happiness-measuring” principles.

When the US courts were trying to assess what the oil companies should pay for the Exxon Valdez tanker disaster, which contaminated a swathe of Alaska, they asked a sample of US households what they would be “willing to pay” for the accident not to have occurred. The answer – an average $31 a household – was used to help calculate Exxon’s ultimate fine. The neo-liberal economists who have driven conservative political philosophy for 50 years like the simplicity of reducing human feeling to monetary considerations. But the method was clumsy when used to measure abstractions such as emotion. However, with the rise of the science of behavioural psychology, another tool came forward. Economists, anthropologists and psychologists joined forces in the 1990s, spurred on by the interest of business and politics.

Sometimes I wonder if the march of history is a march towards convenience and efficiency? And if this march, by definition, might be inhuman? A march towards our own obsolescence, to humans doing as little as possible, but then I think, no, that’s just confused thought, because the same march that takes us to doing less in some areas tends to take us to doing more in others, such as travel through space. Space travel not being terribly possible if one is spending most of their time attempting not to die from the bitter winter wind.

Happy Tuesday, readers.

Spend your attention with care.


yeah, so

Hello, readers.

Here are some things about some things.

1. Necessarily, the news

A fantastic discussion of The Daily Show’s hiring of Trevor Noah, and the subsequent questioning of that hire, in the context of a very large context including, among other things, Brian Williams, the state of satire, what the Daily Show has come to represent in the political and televisual media landscape of the U.S. Also, South African pop culture.

2. The Radical Vision of Toni Morrison

It takes a long time to record a book. Many authors use actors. But that’s not how Morrison hears her own sentences, so she does these tedious sessions herself. That day, she would go into a narrow, low-lit booth, carrying a small pillow for her back, sit down and read from her new book for hours. We followed along in the control room, listening to her barely-a-whisper voice read from a chapter called “Sweetness”: “It’s not my fault. So you can’t blame me. I didn’t do it and have no idea how it happened.”

Morrison is a treasure. Did you see her on Colbert? You should do that. Also. Read her books. She’ll teach you stuff about love and ghosts.

Her latest, God, Help the Child, is out this month.

3. How to use the iCloud Photo Library

In case you need help with that.

4. Natalie Tran – Asians in Media Talk

She is a funny, smart lady. And seeing YouTube famous people speaking at Brown feels like a watershed.

Though, also, here’s Psy teaching students at Oxford.

So. Yeah.

5. Happy weekend, readers.


how orphan black is not a time vampire

Hello, readers.

If you’ve not see Orphan Black (season 3 premieres APRIL 18TH[woot!]), that’s too bad, because it has most defintely seen you.

Wait, no, that’s creepy and probably not true.

What is true is two things (well, probably there are more than two true things in this world, but, for the sake of this particular post, let’s focus on two).

1) I watched most of Orphan Black in a week or so long binge of all the episodes ever with my sister and eg. A great way to watch any series, really, but in particular, a great way to watch Orphan Black because it manages to be totally pulpy and intellectual at the same time. It’s sexy and thought provoking. It’s feminist and queer and possibly intersectional though I don’t know if the intersection between feminism and queerness and cloning is exactly what they had in mind with that. But, really. It has its own hashtag #cloneclub

2) The other day, I ran across THE MANY FACES OF TATIANA MASLANY by Lili (omg how awesome is my name) Loofbourow (@Millicentsomer) in the New York Times Magazine.

It’s a fantastic profile of a fantastic actress and her life and role in a fantastic series that manages to do all of the amazing things, including frame feminism and genre in interesting ways, and also avoid being about time vampires.

On feminism and genre:

In its subject matter, “Orphan Black” broods on the nature-nurture debate in human biology, but in its execution, the show cleverly extends the same question to matters of genre. What does the exact same woman look like if you grow her in the petri dish of “Desperate Housewives” or on a horror-film set in Eastern Europe? What about a police procedural? The result is a revelation: Instead of each archetype existing as the lone female character in her respective universe, these normally isolated tropes find one another, band together and seek to liberate themselves from the evil system that created them.

The question at the show’s heart is whether the clones have free will and the right to lead normal lives, or if they are valuable only as experimental subjects to be monitored, impregnated, sterilized and policed. “It’s so thematically connected to feminist issues,” Graeme Manson, one of the show’s creators, told me. “Who owns you, who owns your body, your biology? Who controls reproduction?”

On not being Time Vampire:

The secret code name for “Orphan Black” at Pinewood Toronto Studios is “Time Vampire.” It’s also the crew’s nickname for the Technodolly, a telescoping camera crane that memorizes and repeats complex movements exactly, enabling a multiple-­clone scene to be constructed in layers. Maslany does the scene as each clone twice — once using a double (or doubles) to get the blocking, timing and shadows right, and then once without. Because the camera movements are identical from take to take, they can be layered together in postproduction.

All joking aside, “Time Vampire” also encapsulates what “Orphan Black” could have been without Maslany’s nuanced performance: a show so bogged down in its technical ambition and so in love with the possibilities of its own technology that it seemed mechanical. Instead, the final product feels organic, natural, real. When one clone pours another clone a glass of wine, you’re so engrossed by the dynamic developing between them that you barely notice you’ve just witnessed an extraordinary feat of engineering.

There’s more brilliance where that came from. Go read it.


what’s it got in its pockets

Hello, readers.

Here are some things filling up my pocket. If by pocket you mean the program pocket which allows you to collect things for to read later. It’s like VHS. But for the internet. Time, and space, shifted reading.

On loneliness and narcissism:

Colson Whitehead writing in the New York Times

Last year, Taylor Swift somewhat boringly testified that not only are “Haters gonna hate,” they’re gonna “hate hate hate” exponentially, presumably in direct proportion to her lack of culpability. Instead of serving the establishment (monotheism, patriarchal energies), the modern tautophrase empowers the individual. Regardless of how shallow that individual is.

Olivia Laing writing in The Guardian

Curating a perfected self might win followers or Facebook friends, but it will not necessarily cure loneliness, since the cure for loneliness is not being looked at, but being seen and accepted as a whole person – ugly, unhappy and awkward, as well as radiant and selfie-ready.

On observations and anger:

Noah Baumbach with Co.Create

“It’s always seemingly small things that get my attention. But they’re not small, they’re big—they’re just more everyday. They’re the things of our lives, and I think they’re just as cinematic as big moments, big breakthroughs—which I’ve yet to actually witness in my life,” he says, laughing.

Michael Billington writing in the Guardian about how John Osborne liberated theatrical language

But who exactly was John Osborne? To find out, Devine made the unusual decision to track the author to his lair. He discovered the writer was living in a leaky old Rhine barge, moored near Chiswick Bridge, which he shared with a fellow actor, Anthony Creighton. So on a hot afternoon in August 1955, because the tide was high, Devine was obliged to borrow a boat and row himself out to the Osborne residence. He quizzed him eagerly and discovered that Osborne was a hard-up 26-year-old actor who had slogged his way round the regional reps, had written part of Look Back in Anger while sitting in a deckchair on Morecambe pier and was separated from his actress wife, Pamela Lane. By the end of the afternoon, Devine had offered Osborne £25 for a year’s option on his play. What neither man could have realised was that they were helping to make theatrical history.

Also. Eastercon begins tomorrow. I’ll be there with some other cool people. Probably, I should maybe go look at the program.

Happy Thursday, readers.