I ask her what the unicorn's starting situation is.
Lizard: "She's in a place that she doesn't know and she has lost all memories of her past life."
OMGGGGGGGGG SHE HAS DISCOVERED MY AMNESIAC PROTAGONIST NARRATIVE KINK RUN AWAYYYYYYYY
|You are viewing mdlbear's network page|
Create a Dreamwidth Account Learn More
Our Intellectual Freedom Fighter messenger bag is beloved around the world, and rightly so. That revolutionary red star is actually a list of frequently banned books. And yes, it did take me all day to design that.
But some folks (including me) prefer the look and feel of a classic satchel. Enter our brand new field bag. Same great distressed design, more compact size, different style, lower price. Your choice!
P.S. Our badges look great ironed onto these bags.
This week's sponsor is Annick Press, "recognized as one of the most innovative and cutting-edge publishers of fiction and nonfiction for children and young adults". They'd like you to hear about their new books for Spring 2014. Please thank them for supporting Unshelved by checking them out!
Oops, this blog post was meant to go up on Friday! Better late than never!
In this week's Unshelved Book Club you'll find science fiction and fantasy books about a conflict between Mars and the asteroid belt, a ten-year-old boy who trains to become a weapon of the Faith, wizards who can animate chalk drawings, a unicorn who thinks he's great, teens who take on ghosts, the rebirth of the Earth Empire, a Viking warrior raised from the dead, and the multiverse,
A Fire Upon The Deep
@bookblrb: When a long-dormant evil is accidentally released, a family hides on a mediæval planet ruled by telepathic dogs.
Leviathan Wakes: (Expanse Book 1)
James S.A. Corey
When XO James Holden and a few crew members went to investigate a derelict spaceship, their ship, the ice miner The Canterbury, was destroyed. Evidence indicates it may have been Martians. Holden releases a video of what was found, then he and his crew try to figure out how to get some payback.
Miller was born and raised in the asteroid belt. He’s a cop in Ceres who doesn’t know that he’s become a sad joke, and that working with him has become a punishment. He’s given the job of finding and kidnapping an inner-planet heiress who has gone native so that he can send her home. As news of Holden’s broadcast reverberates within Ceres, tensions between belters and Mars escalate, rioting starts, and Miller’s life falls apart even further.
Why I finished it: Toward the middle of the book, the stories of Miller and Holden converge. The way this happens is brilliant, unexpected, and beautiful. I really felt something for the characters, too, particularly Miller. He’s useless and drunk most of the time, but after investigating the young heiress for a while, reading her email and paging through her life, he falls for her.
It's perfect for: Kevin, who always liked David Cronenberg’s films. When it becomes clear there’s an unexpected alien menace, it reminded me both the weird medical instruments in Dead Ringers and the meat-and-bone weapons in eXistenZ.
And for Dave Kellett, coffee lover, because, on the run and with no where to go, Holden takes a few moments to admire the coffee pot on the ship he’s taken. It can brew forty cups of coffee in five minutes at anything from 0g to 5g burn. “He had to restrain himself from stroking the stainless steel cover while it made gentle percolating noises.”
@bookblrb: After an ice mining spaceship is destroyed, tensions between Mars and those who live in the asteroid belt escalate.
Half A King
“I swore an oath to avenge the death of my father. I may be half a man, but I swore a whole oath.” Prince Yarvi has vowed to regain a throne he never wanted. But first he must survive cruelty, chains, and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea. And he must do it all with only one good hand.
From the New York Times bestselling author of Red Country comes Half a King, the first book in a stirring new epic fantasy trilogy that will appeal to fans of George R. R. Martin, Patrick Rothfuss, and Scott Lynch.
Log into Edelweiss to Request an eGalley
Visit the Author’s Website
Blood Song: (Raven's Shadow Book 1)
Ten-year-old Vaelin Al Sorna is shocked when, immediately after the death of his mother, his father gives him to the Sixth Order of the Faith. His trainers waste no time in telling him that he has no family outside the Order, which will train him to be a weapon second to none. Because Vaelin’s father is Battle Lord, and because he excels at learning the brutal lessons and facing the deadly challenges, Vaelin begins to make a name for himself. But he has a secret, even from his brothers: a “song” in his blood helps him, directs him, and occasionally even speaks to him.
Later, while he uses his talents to lead a company of men, eliminate political threats, and capture a city, his brothers are always with him. He also secretly learns to listen to his blood song, which will help him earn worldwide renown and hatred, and begin to lead him to the Faith’s hidden Seventh Order.
Why I picked it up: It was recommended to me by a friend who knows my tastes shockingly well. After I read a review he forwarded to me, I immediately ordered it from the library. It is both gratifying and a little embarrassing for someone to know you that well.
Why I finished it: Vaelin Al Sorna is not an average, sword-wielding hero. He is deliberate, insightful, introspective, and willing to risk his life to accomplish what he feels is right, even bucking the direct orders of the King (and paying the price) when he feels they are wrong. And if, like me, you’re not averse to a little romance, you will be rooting for Sister Sherin (a healer) and Vaelin to quit beating around the bush.
Readalikes: I particularly thought this was reminiscent of the excellent four-book series Inda by Sherwood Smith. Indevan-Dal makes fast friends at a military boarding school and becomes a polarizing figure to his classmates, and then later to the world, because of his independent thinking. There is something about shared pain and suffering that brings kids together, and Vaelin and his brothers certainly have that, too.
@bookblrb: After his mother’s death, Vaelin’s father gives him to the Sixth Order to make him into a weapon of the Faith.
Brandon Sanderson, Ben McSweeney
Joel’s dream of becoming a Rithmatist -- a wizard who is able to draw, animate, and empower two dimensional beings called chalklings -- is endangered by low grades and the fact that he missed his initiation ceremony at age eight. Failing his classes isn’t helping him either, but he manages to get a summer internship with his favorite Rithmatic professor, Fitch, who has just lost a tenure-ending chalk duel to a new professor, Nalizar. Fitch is tutoring Joel and Melody (a student who can’t draw a simple freehand circle) in the basics of Rithmatics when a series of kidnappings occurs on campus. It is up to the three of them to figure out what has happened to the missing students before another disappears.
Why I picked it up: Brandon Sanderson finished Robert Jordan’s amazing Wheel of Time series, and Ben McSweeney’s chalk illustrations of the mechanics of Rithmatics promised to make this a unique fantasy novel.
Why I finished it: The idea of two-dimensional creatures -- some natural and wild, some created and animated by humans -- really intrigued me. And the developing friendship between Joel and Melody, two lonely kids who initially see each other as annoyances, kept me going, especially as they learned to work together to solve the mystery.
It's perfect for: Miles, who has complained that most fantasy novels don’t really explain how magic works. He would love Ben McSweeney’s chalk illustrations of the mechanics of Rithmatics, as well as the defensive chalk drawings, which make the magic seem real.
@bookblrb: In a world where wizards bring drawings to life, three friends must find out what’s happening to missing students.
Robogenesis: A Novel
Daniel H. Wilson
“The machine is still out there. Still alive."
Humankind had triumphed over the machines. At the end of Robopocalypse, the modern world was largely devastated, humankind was pressed to the point of annihilation, and the earth was left in tatters . . . but the master artificial intelligence presence known as Archos had been killed.
In Robogenesis, we see that Archos has survived. Spread across the far reaches of the world, the machine code has fragmented into millions of pieces, hiding and regrouping. In a series of riveting narratives, Robogenesis explores the fates of characters new and old, robotic and human, as they fight to build a new world in the wake of a devastating war. Readers will bear witness as survivors find one another, form into groups, and react to a drastically different (and deadly) technological landscape. All the while, the remnants of Archos's shattered intelligence are seeping deeper into new breeds of machines, mounting a war that will not allow for humans to win again.
Daniel H. Wilson makes a triumphant return to the apocalyptic world he created, for an action-filled, raucous, very smart thrill ride about humanity and technology pushed to the tipping point. Robopocalypse was a 2012 Alex Award Winner.
Click to request an Advance Copy
Click for more info or to request an eGalley:
Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great
Goat is totally disgusted by the new guy in town, who can't stop showing off just how great he is. Stupid Unicorn.
Why I picked it up: I was never much of a horse girl or unicorn fan as a kid (except for The Last Unicorn, but Peter S. Beagle is kinda magic in his own right). I preferred dragons like Smaug. And I'm super sick of My Little Pony and all that cutesy horse nonsense. Any picture book dissing on unicorns was clearly written for me.
Why I finished it: Goat reminds me of myself as a kid. I felt awesome about my bike riding skills and marshmallow square cooking attempts, though my dance moves were more a secret thing. So I really felt for him when Unicorn starts flying around and making happy little cupcakes rain out of the sky. Goat feels pretty lame by comparison. And when Unicorn starts to envy Goat, that is pretty darn satisfying.
It's perfect for: Any kid jealous of a new kid at school who is the center of attention, or whose parents have gone overboard empowering them. In a society where everyone is supposed to be special and talented and awesomely magical unicorns, I really believe most of us would be happier just being goats.
@bookblrb: Goat is totally disgusted by Unicorn, who can't stop showing off just how great he is.
The Screaming Staircase: (Lockwood & Co. #1)
In Great Britain, a steep rise in hauntings over the last forty years has caused major changes. Most adults don’t go out at night (they can’t see ghosts), so supernaturally sensitive youths are employed to investigate and dispatch these dangerous spirits.
Lucy’s first job ended in the deaths of all her coworkers when their adult supervisor refused to listen to her. She moves to London where she finds work with an unusual agency, Lockwood & Co. It is headed by a young orphan, Lockwood, and his trusted friend George. Together the three work together to fight ghosts, save the agency from financial ruin, and bring a murderer to justice.
Why I picked it up: Stroud's Bartimaeus series is one of my favorites, and I hoped this would have the same wit and terrific characters.
Why I finished it: I really enjoyed how Stroud took the plucky orphan thing one step further than your typical fantasy. Not only are the main characters free of pesky parents, all the adults seem to want them to fail, as though they resent depending on children to rid the world of threats. Lockwood & Co. really do struggle to make it, and they make plenty of mistakes along the way -- burning down client's houses, giving away too much information about the firm, and holding on to dangerous souvenirs from cases.
It's perfect for: Fans of Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake who prefer that ghost hunters are smart-ass teenagers and that ghosts are occasionally sympathetic (but mostly menacing). If they are anything like me, they will be dying to read the next book in the series to find out what happens with George’s spectral skull in a jar, which has been luring Lucy into secret conversations.
@bookblrb: Lucy works with George and her boss, Lockwood, to dispatch deadly ghosts that adults can’t see.
The New York Times bestselling sequel to Little Brother.
Just a few years after Little Brother, Marcus's problems are back: California's economy has collapsed, taking his parents and his university tuition with it. M1k3y's political past saves him and lands him a job as webmaster for a muckraking politician who promises reform.
Things are rarely this simple—as Marcus discovers when his onetime girlfriend Masha resurfaces. She has emerged from the political underground to gift him with a thumbdrive containing a Wikileaks-style cable-dump, full of hard evidence of conscious corporate and governmental perfidy. It’s incendiary stuff—and if Masha goes missing, Marcus is supposed to release it to the world.
If Marcus personally leaks it, he’ll cost his employers the election, though he’s surrounded by friends and acquaintances who regard him as a hacker hero. He can’t even attend a demonstration without being dragged onstage and handed a mike. Nobody—his current girlfriend, his weary parents, his progressive-minded employer, his hacker admirers—knows just how unsure of himself he really is.
Meanwhile, hard people are beginning to shadow him, people who look like they’ve got plenty of experience inflicting pain until they get the answers they want. Inflicting it on Marcus…or, worse, on people he loves.
Fast-moving, passionate, and as current as next week, Homeland is every bit the equal of Little Brother—a paean to activism, to courage, to the drive to make the world a better place.
Remission: (Prophet Volume 1)
Brandon Graham, Simon Roy, Farel Dalrymple, Giannis Milonogiannis
10,000 years in the future, John Prophet emerges from a pod long buried in the Earth. He has a mission to complete, but our planet has changed. Life is harsher and more violent. It’s much stranger than it used to be, thanks in large part to the aliens that now live here.
Contains Prophet #21 - #26.
(This is the first book in a relaunch based on a character created by Rob Liefeld that appeared in two comic series back in the 1990s. No knowledge of the old comics is necessary, but confusingly it does continue the old series’ numbering.)
Why I picked it up: I love Brandon Graham’s comics. I’m a fanboy.
Why I finished it: There was creative weirdness at every turn: Jell City’s smell-based society, the slimy Dolmantle Prophet carries for protection, and the spider-like Xiux-Guin Blade that chooses him as its prey. Then he mates with an obscene-looking alien to find out his mission -- to reactivate the G.O.D. satellite and awaken the Earth Empire.
It's perfect for: Allen, who likes space opera on a galactic scale. This one starts small, but after the satellite is reactivated and the signal goes out, thousands of other John Prophets awaken across the vastness of space. Their different forms and tasks, as well as the complexity of the art, give this graphic novel a distinctly European feel, which won’t hurt it’s appeal to Allen. (He’s a bit of a francophile.)
@bookblrb: Across the galaxy, John Prophets emerge from 10,000 years of slumber to reawaken the Earth Empire.
Helheim: Book 1: The Witch War
Cullen Bunn, Joelle Jones, Nick Filardi
Rikard is a young Viking warrior who excels at fighting and protecting his woman, Bera, from the wildmen and undead draugr that plague their village. Early in the story he is beheaded, and the whole village grieves his death. Bera, a known witch, reanimates Rikard to complete the task he was trying to achieve while alive -- to kill Bera’s rival, the witch Groa. (Rikard is unusual for a draugr; he retains a bit of his personality and enough of his will to resist some of Bera’s commands.) Rikard not only has to cut through the enemies sent against him by Groa, his father also wants to kill the undead Rikard to free him.
Contains material originally published in Helheim #1 - #6.
Publisher’s Content Rating: T+ (Teen Plus)
Why I picked it up: The cover features a beast of a man with impossibly huge muscles that looks like those internet ads on the side of your browser. He’s holding a massive, blood-stained battle axe and looks to have a bad attitude.
Why I finished it: In the midst of gore, darkness, and death, there is a human touch to this story when we learn of Rikard’s family and the plight of the villagers. They are all being used as pawns by both witches; their logic dictates that if the villagers die, they can continue to serve as reanimated corpses.
There is also an ever-varying horde of undead warriors, undead dogs, and magical creatures that are arrayed against Rikard. I enjoyed watching him wade through the sea of their blood.
It's perfect for: Richie, a middle school student who comes into my library frequently to ask me for stories with “tons of violence.” This is a book that would meet his requirements. (I hope his parents consider Rickard losing half of his head age-appropriate. Bera simply sews him back up and sends him out to fight again.)
@bookblrb: After Rikard is beheaded, his woman, Bera, reanimates him as a draugr and sends him to kill a rival witch.
Eostre's Baskets: A New Dawn
Amnesiac Essie Sundae has no idea that her psychically-inspired Easter baskets have antagonized treacherous supernatural entities. Or that her new lover is anything other than the identity-challenged shape-shifter he claims to be. To Essie, he’s the answer to her loneliness and, if she dares to trust him, possible help in filling in her blanks in her memory.
Xavier Cassidy, aka Rule 34, the soon-to-be god of internet porn, made an ill-advised deal to get help with his little identity problem. Now, he has no choice but to ‘recover’ a priceless treasure from Essie, even though he’s gone and fallen head over fins, heels or claws for the supernatural beauty who seems to have no idea who she is.
When new threats arise, imperiling Essie’s entire existence, Xav’s true nature is revealed. She needs his help more than ever, and he’ll risk his more-or-less immortal life to give it to her -- if she’ll let him.
But Xav’s not the only one who’ll have to sacrifice for Essie to make their sexily ever after.
Scenes from a Multiverse
Scenes from a Multiverse Book Two: Business Animals
The first two collections of the webcomic of the same name, featuring vignettes that take place in a variety of alternate universes, some more familiar than others.
(Many of the strips, including several linked to in this review, contain strong language.)
Why I picked it up: Jon is a pioneering webcartoonist whose work and career I have long admired and tried to emulate. Talking him into drawing us this guest book club strip about Jonathan Livingston Seagull was a personal triumph. I had to read his new comic strip.
Why I finished it: He's a genius. Each episode takes place in one of infinitely many alternate universes. This brilliant setup allows him to satirize pop culture, politics and/or religion, and his personal experiences at will. Some could just as well take place in our dimension, but giving them their own named universe somehow makes them funnier. Over time certain characters (such as the adorable bunnies and Cornelius Snarlington, Business Deer) have begun to recur, making for a particularly scattered continuity perfect for my short attention span.
It's perfect for: Larry, a lapsed lawyer. He will admire the technique of Horace Greenstein, Scary Owl Lawyer, who wins every case by staring down the opposition.
@bookblrb: Comic vignettes that take place in a variety of alternate universes, some more familiar than others.
Remember the letter-writer last year whose coworker kept making rude personal comments, like “you’re gonna get fat” when she ate a piece of pie and “your boobs hang out of your shirts like the girls on The Bachelor”? And then when apologizing, said, ““I’m sorry I said that, but it’s kind of true”? Well, exactly one year after her letter was printed here, here’s the update.
As of yesterday, I have accepted a new position at a new organization (transitioning from corporate to government). I applied to this job back in December, with the help of AAM. There was one main reason I applied to this job: to get away from this coworker.
Things had gotten better after I sent in my question, but I got engaged near the end of 2013 and when my engagement was announced in a meeting, this coworker said “Well, that’s if Mark will still marry her in a few months’ time” and later that day asked if I just convinced him to marry me because I was pregnant (I was not and still am not pregnant). A few coworkers scoffed at her comments and told her to stop being such a fun stealer, but no one (including managers) actually did anything about it. Also, in the following weeks, I found out that the two people in my job previously left because of this coworker.
Once I had my first interview at my new job, this coworker actually put in her 6 months retirement notice! Hooray! As the weeks progressed and I went on more interviews and was still berated at work by her, I was offered the job and have accepted (in writing, with a start date). I will now have to put my 3 weeks notice into my current job. I really do love my current company and the other people. I’ve learned so much and only have great things to say about the company itself, but it’s a shame they’re losing a good employee because of another sour employee. With that said, I realize sour employees can happen anywhere, including at my new position, but there were also secondary reasons why I went with the new job, such as a slight pay increase and better hours and the fact that it’s time for something new, but this particular coworker did spur my initial job search.
Thanks again to AAM, this site has been like my workplace mentor to help me navigate the working world!
A reader writes:
I am the executive director of a small museum and manage five part-time staff members. During my time here we have added several staff positions and worked to become more professional, creating employee policies and working to follow industry standards and museum best practices in all aspects of work – including collections care. We have a large archive and artifact collection and continue to take more donations in daily.
One staff position that was added in the last year was a collections manager, whose job it is to work with existing and incoming collections. The person hired for the position, Jean, has the type of education and experience needed for the job and a strict view of museum best practices. However, there is a huge personality conflict between her and the previous collections manager, Steve, who has been with the organization for 13 years and has a strong background in archives management. He served as a part-time staff member for 11 years and then gave up his pay two years ago to help with the organization’s budget, becoming technically a volunteer but keeping the same hours. During his time with the organization, he basically started the collections from scratch, developing his own paperwork and numbering system. Jean is my direct report, but Steve has no manager – I have been instructed by the board to not manage him, and he doesn’t report to them either.
Steve keeps expressing his intent to retire, and has “officially retired” several times in the past few years. Since he loves the work and cares about the organization so much, this is difficult for Steve and he always returns within the month, picking up as though he had never retired. My intent with hiring the new collections manager was that they would split the load, with Steve focusing more on archives and Jean focusing more on artifacts, thus allowing Steve to work less hours and semi-retire. However, this is complicated by several factors and didn’t really work out. Steve has some of our collections at his home, and continues to solicit artifact donations and officially accept them without first consulting Jean. He tends to stop in at the museum and work when Jean isn’t here, and lack of communication is a big problem between them. But the main problem boils down to the fact that Jean is frustrated at Steve’s lack of adherence to museum best practices, and Steve is frustrated at Jean’s strict manner, and doesn’t always agree with what Jean accepts or doesn’t accept for the collections.
The problems seem to be escalating quickly over the last few weeks, as Steve becomes more and more frustrated with Jean and oversteps boundaries (dictating the work of staff he doesn’t manage, rearranging others’ furniture and office supplies non-stop, and continuing to accept objects without letting anyone else know). It’s a difficult situation because he has been such an integral part of the organization for so long. Also, we cannot afford to lose the rapport he has built with our donors or his knowledge of our community’s history and our existing collections. But I do want us to continue moving towards best practices, and I am happy with the professional way Jean handles the collections.
At this point, I have discussed the issues with the board co-presidents, along with the committee in charge of collections. The best option we’ve come up with is to bring in a mediator to sit down with Steve and Jean and open up communication between them about these issues. Do you have any other insights or ideas? If we bring in a mediator, we are looking at one of the board members with a background in mediation. Would it be better to bring in an outside party? Should it just be the three of them meeting, or should I or one of the co-presidents also attend?
No, no, please don’t do this!
If I were Jean, I’d be pissed as hell that you were handling it this way — as opposed to deciding how you wanted things to work and then conveying that to Steve and Jean. Certainly pissed enough to be majorly demoralized, and possibly pissed enough to consider leaving. You’d essentially be saying, “We’re not willing to make the decisions or have the tough conversations that are part of our job, and so rather than figuring out the right thing to do here, instead we’re going to let you and Steve duke it out. Good luck!” That’s the opposite of how you retain good employees, and it’s the opposite of how you should be making decisions.
I understand that don’t want to lose the rapport that Steve has with your donors or his institutional knowledge … but you are going to lose those things at some point, either when Steve retires or passes away or decides to take on some other interest. You’re far better off having a carefully managed transition now, while you can do it deliberately, than scrambling to figure it out when the timing is outside of your control.
Right now, you’re being held hostage to fear of upsetting Steve. And while it’s very nice that Steve has worked without pay for two years, as well as given the organization 13 years in total, that does not buy him the right to control what happens there. You still need to do what’s in the best interests of the museum, and if Steve doesn’t want to play along with that, then Steve is no longer acting in the best interests of the museum, and that makes it all the more imperative that the situation change ASAP.
Someone — probably you, but maybe you with a board member, depending on the dynamics, since Steve is manager-less and unpaid — needs to sit down with Steve and talk to him about how things need to change. This isn’t a conversation to scold him; it’s simply bringing him up-to-date on how things are changing now that Jean is on board. I get that you’re concerned about alienating him, but if he’s as committed to the organization as it sounds like he is, you can appeal to his sense of what’s best for the museum and explain why it’s necessary to change the processes that used to work but no longer are optimal for the situation. Be explicit that you’re grateful for everything he’s given the organization, but the museum has a different set of needs now, and you need his help in meeting those needs.
Things that should come out of the conversation:
* Steve needs to return the collections he has at home to the museum. Ask him to work with you to get everything returned within the next, say, 30 days. Offer help to make this easy on him, like hiring movers if needed. Explain why this is necessary (for instance, that if something were to happen to Steve, the museum’s property would be in limbo … or perhaps that insurers or auditors — who are a convenient bad guy in lots of situations — have told you that you need to do it).
* Steve needs to respect the boundaries of his role in respect to the museum’s staff. He can’t rearrange other people’s space, give direction to other staff members, or accept new objects for your collection without going through whatever process you have set up for that.
* You need to begin transitioning donor relationships to current museum staff. (Again, you will need to do this at some point in the future anyway, and you are better off doing it in an organized way, rather than in chaos when you eventually have no choice.)
* Steve needs to coordinate with Jean (or you) about his intended schedule going forward, so that people know what work and hours they can and can’t expect of him.
* Explain to Steve that he’s a hugely valued contributor to the museum’s work, and you hope he can work with you happily within these guidelines. (The subtext, which you might end up needing to say explicitly is: If he’s not willing to work within these guidelines, then you will have to handle this just like you would with any other employee, meaning that you’ll need to part ways.)
Before you have this conversation, you need to get aligned with your board about it, especially since they’ve directed you not to manage Steve (!!). You might also point out to them that having a rogue volunteer who isn’t accountable to anyone is what’s caused this, and that you need to avoid setting up something similar in the future. You also need to make sure that they’re going to have a backbone on this, so that they’re not undermining you if Steve takes this to them.
And if your board refuses to back this approach, at least don’t let the mediator idea move forward. That will reinforce to Steve that he has virtually unlimited power to do what he wants (since no one will directly tell him to stop, to the point that you’re using a mediator instead of making decisions and holding him to those), and it will send a horrible signal to poor Jean.
At least once a year I do a clean-up of my file cabinets, and I just finished my latest round. Every time I do this, I’m amazed at the stuff I have kept that I really don’t need.
For your amusement (and inspiration), the following is what I got rid of this time:
I tossed a lot of papers in this category, including:
I worked for Hewlett-Packard Company for many years; the founders, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, are still two of the people I admire most. I had a lot of information about them, and I narrowed it down to the few things that were especially meaningful to me. I scanned many of those, and got rid of the paper.
I really enjoy the Miss Manners columns, and I’d clipped a number of them. The ones I still found useful — maybe a quarter of the one I had saved — got scanned, and all the clippings were recycled.
I’m talking here about general information, not my personal health information. Even though I’d discarded much of this before because medical information changes so quickly and so much is available online, I still found a few papers I had kept for no good reason. I really don’t need the newsletter from a local hospital, from 2004, talking about mini-incision hip replacement!
Why in the world did I keep printouts of song lyrics? I’m not even talking about the nice inserts from old LPs, just computer printouts.
I had kept tips on good writing, which included things I’ve long ago absorbed. So, out went the April 1995 article on using quotes in articles.
There is a lot being written lately about high-tech companies and their employees ruining San Francisco (or not, depending on your perspective) and about these employees driving up housing prices in the area. These were good for a laugh, before they hit the recycling bin:
Here are some of the other papers I found, and discarded:
In summary, I’m getting rid of everything in my filing cabinet that is out of date, no longer interesting or useful, or readily replaced with online information.
What have you cleared out of your file cabinet lately? Please share your discoveries in the comments.
Let Unclutterer help you get your home or office organized. Subscribe to our helpful product shipments from Quarterly today.
On Sunday WGN America debuted its first originally-scripted TV series: Salem. Crafted in the horror genre, the show follows in the footsteps of the popular American Horror Story: Coven. WGN uses the tag line: “The Witch Hunt Has Begun – In Salem, witches are real, but they are not what they seem.”
On opening night Variety reported that the show earned “1.5 million viewers” which is “seven times the network’s season-to-date average in the 10 p.m. timeslot.” WGN is capitalizing on the recent popularity of witches in order to launch its new original production offerings. In July the network will premiere its second series, Manhattan, and then in 2015, Ten Commandments.
WGN’s Salem is the latest in a very long-line of television and film productions using the city as its setting. Hollywood began its love-affair with the trials in 1909 with the release of Edison’s In the Days of Witchcraft. Perhaps the most famous rendering of the Salem story is Arthur Miller’s play “The Crucible” which transforms the city’s history into an allegory for McCarthy-era politics. Kate Fox, executive director of Destination Salem said, “The Salem Witch Trials are a rich and compelling subject for novelists and screenwriters…”
In this latest adaption, the witches are rendered as actual creatures. WGN’s Salem presents a historically-derived Puritan world complete with “witch” panics alongside the genuine existence of Satanic-based witchcraft. In doing so, it attempts to offer a far more complex ethical structure than past Salem or witch stories.
When production was initially announced, a group of Salem citizens and business owners discussed the potential for damage caused by yet another Hollywood show conflating history and horror. Should they protest? Elizabeth Peterson, director of Salem’s Witch House, said:
The Witch House is the only historic site left that was an absolute witness to the conversations and phenomena [of that time]. It is our responsibility to dignify and intellectualize that history.
After multiple conversations, the group opted for a different approach. Fox said, “I will welcome the opportunity [the show] will afford to talk about the destination Salem with viewers who may find a new interest in our town.”After seeing the show Peterson said, “I’m not worried that [Salem] could be mistaken as historical because it is so fantastical.” She points out that show contains many inaccuracies but it’s presented in such a way that there is no danger in mistaking it for fact. In other words, WGN’s Salem is not even pretending to be real. It is pure horror entertainment.
Due to the continued fascination with the trials, Salem and New England in general have ascended historicity to become a modality within American popular myth. Salem as a backdrop is strongly rooted within Hollywood’s own narrative symbolism. Even Samantha makes a trip to Salem for a Witches Convention in 1970. If you make a witch movie or show, it should be set in a small town in New England.
Just as it capitalizes on historical lore, WGN’s Salem also makes use of the archetypal Hollywood Satanic witch. Narratively speaking these witches are villagers who have sold their souls to the Devil for personal gain. They perform magic with oils, frogs, lizards, hogs, blood and fire. They hold sabbats in the dark woods wearing beastly masks. They have familiars and understand the nuances in “life, love, war and death.”
Visually speaking the witches are monstrous, zombie-like creatures that only appear in quick cuts or extreme close-up. Such shots are often flanked by tilted visions, screams and flashes of light. These are all very typical elements of the modern horror montage. To counter that extreme, these same witches appear as their respectable former selves during the day and are shot in a non-dynamic simple composition.
At first it might seem WGN’s Salem is yet another horror show fostering the negative representations of witches. It is after all presenting a typical Satanic witch story. However it does do something a bit different. It offers an atypical dynamic morality that embraces the complexity of contemporary social issues. This complexity is best demonstrated though three characters: John Alden, Cotton Mather and Mary Sibley.
John Alden is defined as the imperfect but good secular American. He fights for “his country,” befriends Native Americans and stands against the Puritan moral panic. At one point he tells Mather, “She needs a doctor not your prayers.” John is the open-minded, modern cowboy who believes in love and even Paganism. When Anne Hale explains that Mather calls drawing “idolatry” or nature worship, Alden responds, “There are worse things to worship.”
Cotton Mather is the polar opposite. He represents the religious zealot who publicly defines life through absolutes found in the testimony of his books. Giles Corey describes Mather as the “most dangerous type of fool…The kind that thinks he knows everything.” Mather is further demonized through his apparent hypocrisy. While inspecting the wounds on an hysterical young girl, Mather pushes her dress up to her thighs. At that point, the camera rhythmically cuts between his face, her face and his hands on her thighs. Then the show abruptly cuts to a salacious scene of Mather in a brothel. The viewer is left wondering if Mather abused the girl.
To complete the triad, there is Mary Sibley, the witch. As a young unwed pregnant girl, Mary is led to witchcraft by Tituba in order to escape public shame and punishment. The show posits that Mary and ostensibly the others turn to the Devil in order to escape the horrors of Puritanism. However at the same time, Mary is also depicted as cruelly toying with John Alden, driving a young girl mad and killing Giles Corey. Her vengeance knows no boundaries.
These witches are morally complex representing a type of social defiance that is very contemporary. The show appears to oppose the tyrannical religious teachings of its conservative Christian environment. At one point Giles Corey says, “Puritans know their sun is setting. Nothing like a new enemy … to get people behind ya.” This statement recalls recent discourse surrounding the religious climate in the Unites States.
Similarly Puritan leader George Sibley yells out, “We cannot expect God to be on our side if we tolerate abominations or those that commit them.” While he is referring to “fornication,” his line resembles language used to counter the Marriage Equality movement.
WGN’s Salem explores the progressive ethics that are now appearing within contemporary American discourse. It is mediating the mythological Salem story through very current cultural politics. The witches themselves are the tipping point that places the viewer into the uncomfortable position of liking the goal but disliking the means. Through them we can ask, “success at what the cost?”
Are these witches representative of real Witches, Wiccans or Pagans? No they aren’t. As with the use of Salem, the witches are merely typical Hollywood archetypes representing social defiance. In fact the narrative makes a direct distinction between a “nature worshipper” and the Witch.
How the show proceeds over its run will be interesting. How will it negotiate the issues presented? How will it handle race and explain the origins of the young, beautiful Tituba as instigator of Salem’s witchcraft? What is Nathan and Anne Hale’s story?
With all that said, was it a good entertainment? It was average, sensationalistic and at times campy. It falls into the category of recent shows pushing the limits of television horror by exploring the limits of our humanity. If the show continues on its current course, it may hold a season worth of interest beyond that, who knows.
If you seize up with fear at the thought of giving a presentation to a group of people, you have plenty of company. And if you’re shy or otherwise not a “natural public speaker,” the prospect of having to command a room might feel especially daunting. But many before you have conquered those fears and even gone on to become engaging speakers, and you can too.
At Intuit QuickBase’s Fast Track blog today, I talk about how to do it — including not sacrificing authenticity in favor of polish, which was a realization I found hugely helpful. You can read it here.
by Guest Contributor Belleisa, originally published at PostBourgie
There’s a game I like to play when I walk into a bookstore. Based on the the title, cover and store placement I can always interpret the marketing intention for a book meant for a black American audience. The best part of this game is that the books will, typically, fit into the following categories (they are, in no particular order):
1. Black Pathology or “What’s wrong with Black people?”
2. The literature of “sistah gurl”
3. Christian-oriented fiction/inspirational
4. Street-Lit or Hip-Hop fiction
5. The Slave Novel
6. The Civil Rights Book (This also includes Black Nationalism)
7. The extraordinary rise from street life/poverty/welfare into the middle class.
8. Poorly styled celebrity memoir, or well researched and documented hagiography
9. Black Queens and Kings
10. Hip-Hop analysis
12. The “Black” version of some mainstream topic (For example: “Black Girl’s Guide to Fashion; “Black Families’ Guide to Wealth;”) Guides will include slang, bright colors, and inevitably the phrase “the legacy of slavery.”
13. The Classics: Harlem Renaissance 101 and/or The Black Arts Movement. Toni Morrison.
14. Contemporary Classics or Literary Fiction (Mostly woman, mostly diaspora authors)
15. Non-black author writes really compelling story about black person(s); story gets awards accolades, lots of press and movie deal.
These topics produce wonderful books and poorly written books. They often represent a compendium of the black American experience, and just as often, they are simply a reflection of what publishing thinks black people read.
In a recent Washington Post op ed, author, Bernice L. McFadden wonders about the nature of books that would fit into number 15 on my list.
Kathryn Stockett’s novel The Help, published by a Penguin Books imprint, sold 1 million books within a year of publication. Her novel has gained accolades and awards, including the prestigious South African Boeke Prize. The Help is being adapted for the screen; at the helm of production is the Academy Award-winning director and producer Steven Spielberg. Sue Monk Kidd’s best-selling novel The Secret Life of Bees, also published by Penguin Books, is another story set in the South with African American characters. Kidd’s novel garnered similar fame, fortune and recognition. Kathryn Stockett and Sue Monk Kidd are living the dream of thousands of authors, myself included. But they are not the first white women to pen stories of the black American South and be lauded for their efforts.
We can add to her examples last year’s Little Bee by Chris Cleave, and this year’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Both of these books are well-crafted stories written by talented writers. But that doesn’t obviate the question: who gets to tell these stories and why? Cleave’s and Skloot’s (admittedly compelling) stories get pushed by publishers and popular radio shows, and it’s difficult to think of a black author who gets similar treatment.
McFadden argues that many black authors, aside from the few who have crossed over into the mainstream, get relegated to the “seg-book-gation.” She does acknowledge that black writers have an easier time getting published than they used to, although the op-ed slips in and out of preachy academic theory (she mentions colonialism). But her initial argument, about authorial authenticity and which authors get the better marketing support for the same types of stories, takes a quick dive into condescension:
Mainstream publishing houses contort themselves to acquire books that glorify wanton sex, drugs and crime. This fiction, known as street-lit or hip-hop fiction, most often reinforces the stereotypical trademarks African Americans have fought hard to overcome. And while we are all the descendants of those great literary pioneers who first gave a voice to the African American experience, and one certainly could not exist without the other, somewhere down the line the balance was thrown off and the scales tipped in favor of a genre that glorifies street life and denigrates a cultural institution that took hundreds of years to construct.
Not really. For all the problems of race and mainstream publishing, the industry likes to acquire books with hopes that those books will sell. McFadden unfairly singles out street-lit, with a belittling ‘holding back the race’ tone. Authors of this genre have the right to be published and have their stories read. Sure, we can talk about the way they’re published: there can be a complete disregard for plot structure, grammar and style. And yes, we can talk about the reason why these books are published in such large numbers (and why they sell well), but it’s unfair to hold a select segment of people, or art form, in contempt because of the “message” it sends out, or the “narratives” it may perpetuate.
By arguing against street-lit, McFadden is relieving the gatekeepers of their responsibility to help disseminate a wide-range of experiences and stories for all people. Also, she’s making black writers responsible for telling one kind of story: a story she deems appropriate. That’s a responsibility that no individual should have to bear and one that will unnecessarily silence too many black voices.
If the problem is already that varied black voices are denied agency through limited marketing resources, it’s counterproductive to police the authors. To do so will keep the experience and the work limited to categories 1 through 15.
If you are in Brooklyn (or the New York Area) this Friday and Saturday (the 25th and 26th), please come and check out Theorizing the Web! It’s an amazingly geeky conference that discusses the internet and its impact on culture and society – I livetweeted the first one, back in 2011.
I’m keynoting the last panel on “Race and Social Media” and it will be a great time. I’m planning to do a short thing on language and private/public space, and I’ll be on the panel with Lisa Nakamura, Jenna Wortham, Ayesha Siddiqi and André Brock. (Longtime readers may remember I’ve teamed up with Lisa and André many times since Sarah Gatson’s 2009 Race, Ethnicity, and New Media Symposium.)
Long time Racialicious rollers N’jaila Rhee (Blaysian Bytch) and Molly Crabapple will also be in the building being smart. Come say hi to us! One of the things I love about TTW is the small, intimate feel. You can actually talk to people at this conference.
Entrance is cheap – the requested donation is $1 but that’s really just to help cover food and drink:
Hope to see you there!
The post [EVENT] Theorizing the Web ’14: “Race and Social Media” appeared first on Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture.
We all know that, on some basic level, money is purely symbolic. It only works because everyone collectively agrees to participate in the fantasy that a dollar bill is worth a dollar, whatever that is. Moreover, most of our money these days is purely electronic, represented by ones and zeros and real only in the most abstract sense possible.
Christopher Ingraham at the Washington Post offered another way of thinking about money as a social construction: how much it costs to make it. None of our coins are actually worth what they cost, and pennies and nickels are worth quite a bit less.
The excess cost of producing pennies and nickels means a budget deficit for the Treasury. In 2013, producing the coins cost the government $105 million dollars above and beyond the coins’ value.
Interestingly, moves to eliminate pennies have been successfully opposed by the zinc industry for years, illustrating another sociological phenomenon: the power of corporations to shape government decisions.Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, with Myra Marx Ferree. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
“I was nice to girls. They all used and ignored me. Then I became a bad boy, insulting and abusing them, and oh how the poon did flow.”
That’s one of a thousand generic, whiny essays decrying “The Friend Zone,” where a man who is Too Nice For His Own Good finally learns to Be Mean and tells you all the lesson that Stupid Women Don’t Like Nice Guys Be A Dick Hurr Hurr Hurr.
Except you were never a nice guy.
Because hey, did you tell her when you met her, “Hey, I’d like to date you?”, even though you secretly went back home and masturbated so furiously you could have used your smoking dick to start a fire? No. You instead hung around her, pretending to be her friend when friendship was actually the last thing you wanted.
Hey, if you really wanted to be her friend, you wouldn’t be sitting here decades later, spilling tawdry confessions of how awful it was not to fuck her, right? I mean, I’ve had friends who were just friends, and I don’t weep bitter tears about how “Oh, what I wanted was friendship, and that’s all I got?”
No. You started right off by lying. You figured hey, I’ll sneak in the friendship door, and then once I’ve fluffed the cushions in the friendship lobby I’ll mash that glowing button to Love Tower!
And it didn’t work out for you, did it?
Well, that’s because you were a crappy friend. And not just because you lied.
Because you sucked at being a person.
See, “friends” bring interesting shit to the table. When I get together with my friends, male or female or somewhere in-between, they tell me about the interesting things that happened to them. They recommend television shows I haven’t seen, talk about restaurants, have great stories that make me laugh. They go, “Ugh, that’s not for me” and they contradict me and we tussle and it’s fucking awesome.
What you did was to sit there, rabbitlike, and nod your head to everything she said.
I know you think you were a friend, but probably you were more like an unpaid valet; agreeing to everything she said no matter how stupid it seemed, doing all of her chores because that’s what friends do, contributing precisely nothing to her life except as a rug to walk on.
I mean, you couldn’t have offered any real useful advice, because your hidden agenda was “Sleep with me, sleep with me, sleep with me” and everything got filtered through that straining urge. And you probably didn’t bring up your interests, going, “Hey, let’s watch The Avengers,” because introducing your tastes might have hinted that you were incompatible, and we can’t have her disagreeing with you, can we? Just… stick to common ground.
So you ran all her errands, and went to those awful girl movies that nobody but you wanted to watch (and you hated), and listened to all her terrible music, and went shopping with her even though you fucking hated the mall…
And then you have the gall to get astonished when she got bored with you?
No, buddy. You weren’t a nice guy: you were a boring sack of Silly Putty, pressing yourself up against her and coming away as a warped reflection of her image. You were an empty space, a computer program that said “yes yes yes” no matter how stupid the question was, as predictable as a faucet: turn you on, and bullshit spilled out.
And when that awful plan collapsed, instead of concluding, “Say, suppressing my entire personality to try to appeal to someone else is a mug’s game,” you instead blamed it all on them and went, “THEY ONLY LIKE BAD BOYS!”
No. I know a lot of nice guys who date, and date well. They have opinions. They have their own agendas, new activities they can bring dates to and have them go, “Oh, I’ve never tried this!” They have things they won’t do, because sure, they’d love to help you move, but they have enough of a life outside of their date that they’ve promised to babysit or have a party they’ve committed to or something.
And they tell their partners what they want. Because they’re not ashamed of having wants.
What you were, son, was a box with a mirror in it. She kept opening you up and finding her reflection, something she’d seen a hundred times before. And chances are she secretly pitied you, inviting you along on these mall-expeditions not because you were her friend, but because she sensed your crushing loneliness and was hoping you might accrete an actual goddamned personality at some point.
The lesson here is not that “Women want bad boys,” but rather, “When presented with a choice between a cringing sack of suet and an asshole who can carry on his half of the conversation,” she’ll reluctantly choose the asshole. But there is a middle path, one I know many men have trod successfully, where they somehow manage not to treat women like shit and somehow still get laid.
Look, it hurts to be in the friend zone. No denying. I’ve had plenty of people I wanted to sleep with who found me unattractive, and it sucks. But when you went so far out of your way to make yourself soulless, uninteresting, and dispensable, you can’t complain about being placed in the friend zone when you did everything you could to put yourself there. You didn’t tell her you wanted to date right away, you didn’t stand up for yourself, and you didn’t tell her that if you can’t sleep with her, you don’t really want the friendship, you’ll just take it as some limp consolation prize.
And you never respected those women the way you claim. If you did, you wouldn’t be writing vitriolic essays years later on what stupid whores they were.
Sorry, buddy. You were the stupid whore. You sacrificed your self-esteem, your opinions, and your labor, masquerading as someone you weren’t in a vain attempt to entice a client into your boudoir… and you couldn’t even manage to do that.
Really, who’s the stupid one here?
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.
The lift sank slowly into the barn floor, carrying the SUV with it.
“I, ah, I’m glad you approve.” Were adults supposed to act like this?
Stories stir something very deep in the human psyche. People have reveled in the familiar rhythms of stories for thousands of years. The art form has developed gradually from people gathered around a campfire swapping tall tales of myths and legends to a myriad of storytelling forms, including printed and electronic books, films, comics, and video games. We are comforted by the rhythmic repetition of a favorite children’s tale, frightened by a horror film, or captivated by an epic fantasy. Stories are powerful because they are tied to our emotions; they take us to new places and allow our imaginations to take flight.
This is part of what makes us human, and storytelling is therefore an important and valued skill.
Like many other GeekMoms and lots of our readers, I am a prolific consumer of stories. I regularly have at least an ebook and a paper book on the go, as well as the films and TV programs that I watch. Although some of my GeekMom colleagues are very accomplished authors, I’ve always been more of a reader than a writer.
As a teacher, I am constantly helping children to improve their writing, but I don’t do any myself beyond short examples or story starters for my students. I love good writing and I’ve always been sure that I couldn’t write as well as the authors that I like to read. I have, however, been playing with some story ideas recently and wondered whether I might be able to write a story. So when I heard about Storium, I was intrigued. An online storytelling game not only sounded like fun, but it might help me to get some practice in crafting stories to help to build my confidence. It also sounded like it could be an interesting tool to help engage and support children in story writing in school, so I decided to take a closer look.
I started with Storium‘s Kickstarter page, where there’s lots of information about the game and examples of how it works. I was incredibly excited by what I saw, as it could bring writers together to collaborate on stories set in a variety of storytelling worlds. Storium has already been in development for a while, so a playable beta is available right away for backers.
The basic idea is that a narrator sets up and runs the story, while the other players create characters and react to the problems that the narrator places into the story. The narrator can either craft their own custom world to set the story in, or choose from a variety of pre-built starter worlds that can be tweaked and adjusted. There’s a choice of nine pre-built worlds in the beta, including steampunk and space adventure worlds.
To start, I spent some time reading games that were already playing, looking at how the narrators moved the story on and how the players used their characters to overcome challenges and problems. The standard of the writing is generally very high, and you can see how enthusiastic the players are, as some stories are developing at a breakneck pace.
I decided to dip my toes into the waters in two ways. Firstly, I’d join a couple of public games, before trying to create a game of my own with some friends. It was easy to browse the open games that were looking for players, and I chose a couple that looked interesting. My next task was to create a character and submit it to the narrator for approval. This is achieved by selecting or creating a variety of cards to describe the character. After choosing the character’s nature card, you build on this by selecting their strength, weakness, and motivation. You can go with a set of suggested cards that match the nature or create your own. By that point, you have a basic idea about the character that you can then begin to flesh out a little in the description, as well as adding a name and an avatar.
The narrator vets each character submission and if it doesn’t quite fit with their ideas (they have too many elves, for example, or not enough pirates), they can either reject it or ask the player to edit the character and resubmit it. Some of the narrators are very exacting in their requirements for characters, asking players to come up with their own cards and answering sets of questions in their character descriptions, as well as specifying the voice of the writing. The characters created for one world that I looked at with very detailed instructions were amazing, and showed real thought and writing flair in their construction. I’m keeping my eye on that one, as I think it could be a very interesting story to read. Also, it gives me something to aim for as I develop as a writer.
It was quite nerve-wracking to submit my first character, but I was excited to see whether they’d be accepted and where the story would go. I ended up having both characters accepted, after some tweaking on one of them. I was going to write as a graphic designer in an office mystery game and as a young unproven fighter in a more traditional fantasy quest adventure. Both games had larger casts of eight and six characters respectively, meaning that the action could move quite quickly.
As things happened to my character, I had to decide how to play my cards and move the story along, without treading on anyone else’s toes. Both of the narrators were skilled at moving the action on and also writing the non-playing characters (NPCs). I had been worried that the writing would be patchy and that players might try to ride roughshod over the game, but my fears were unfounded as the writing was of a very high quality on both games and was truly collaborative. You could tell that the players were thinking carefully about their character and their interactions with the storyline, and any questions were raised in the comments section for players to discuss.
Some moves required me to play one of my cards to move a challenge towards a strong, uncertain, or weak outcome, while other moves were exposition or further description. The outcome of each challenge then fed into what happened next in the storyline. The narrator could add extra narration if required, set up new challenges and control the scenes, meaning that the story flowed onwards. The stories are nowhere near their conclusions yet and are becoming more interesting as they progress. I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens next.
My last challenge was to set up and narrate my own story. I chose “The Mysterious Island” template and left all of the cards in their default settings. To begin, I selected the crash site and used most of the suggested text to set the scene. I added some of my own description at the end to help my players understand what to do next. My two willing guinea pigs have each played a few times, and so far I’ve found it really interesting to narrate the story instead of write it as a character. It uses a different set of writing skills, as you need to have a more overarching view of the story.
This was a really positive experience for me. I found flexing my narrative muscles to be really exciting and interesting, and looked forward to other players making their moves as much as writing my own contributions.
Storium‘s Kickstarter is currently storming through stretch goals, including a huge range of new worlds from a variety of talented writers. Further stretch goals just announced include avatar and card art, as well as a Gamma test, which will include more new features. If you’re interested in writing, need a creative boost, or just want a new game to play with friends, you can back Storium from just $10, which gets you instant access to the beta program. I’ve gone for “The Deal” level, because I really want access to all of those stretch goal worlds, particularly State Liminal, described as “Casablanca in space” and written by GeekMom’s very own Fran Wilde. Those will be available later this year.
I caught up with Stephen Hood, the brains behind Storium, to find out how this software came about and where they’re heading next.
GeekMom: So can you tell me about Storium‘s backstory? How did this idea lead you and your team to work unpaid on developing the platform?
Stephen Hood: I had the realization that many of my favorite games—especially tabletop role-playing games—are engines of creativity. They use rules and other techniques to encourage people to work together to tell stories. I thought that if these tools could be brought to a much, much larger audience, we could make a real difference by helping people express themselves in new ways.
I became obsessed with the idea and decided to go for it. Myself and my co-founder Josh Whiting left our jobs to begin work on Storium full-time. Along the way, we assembled a great team of partners and advisors, including our lead game designer Will Hindmarch, novelists Chuck Wendig and Mur Lafferty, and transmedia storyteller J.C. Hutchins. We all believe that Storium could be something big, and that gives us the drive to work on it so hard. Speaking personally, of all the things I’ve worked on in my life so far, it’s Storium of which I’m most proud. I really want to see what it can become!
GM: What are you hoping that users will gain from their Storium experiences?
SH: We’re hoping that Storium will inspire more people to become storytellers! Stories are part of what makes us human, and telling stories is a fundamental human creative ability. They enrich our own lives and the lives of the people who experience them. If we can help more people to tell stories and inspire them to write, I think we’ll be doing something positive for the world.
GM: What have you got up your sleeve for features in future versions of Storium? (If you’re allowed to say!)
SH: We have lots of plans! While Storium is designed to be played asynchronously (that is, at your own pace), we also want to support “real-time” play, for when you and your friends are all online at the same time and want your story to move even faster. We have some cool ideas for how to make that work within the context of Storium. We also want to support different styles of play. For example, we want to build a version of Storium in which each player takes turns playing the narrator’s part. We think this will lead to an ever more collaborative (and probably more unpredictable!) approach to storytelling. Those are just a couple of examples of where we’re heading.
I think that Storium is a really powerful storytelling tool. With my teacher hat on, I could see this being used easily in classrooms to support collaborative writing, make storytelling exciting, and build writing confidence. Stephen tells me that they are looking forward to exploring Storium‘s use in education, and I can’t wait to see what happens with that. Personally, I’ve found joy in building something with other people and have also enjoyed the buzz of collaboration and creativity. It’s certainly helped me to feel more like a writer and I’m hoping that as my stories progress, my writing skills will too. Its narrative might have only just started, but I shall continue to play along, as I think that Storium has the potential to be very important indeed.
Race matters to a young man’s view of society when he spends his teenage years watching others tense up as he passes, no matter the neighborhood where he grew up. Race matters to a young woman’s sense of self when she states her hometown, and then is pressed, ‘No, where are you really from?’, regardless of how many generations her family has been in the country. Race matters to a young person addressed by a stranger in a foreign language, which he does not understand because only English was spoken at home. Race matters because of the slights, the snickers, the silent judgments that reinforce that most crippling of thoughts: ‘I do not belong here.’
We are fortunate to live in a democratic society. But without checks, democratically approved legislation can oppress minority groups. For that reason, our Constitution places limits on what a majority of the people may do. This case implicates one such limit: the guarantee of equal protection of the laws.
Under our Constitution, majority rule is not without limit. Our system of government is predicated on an equilibrium between the notion that a majority of citizens may determine governmental policy through legislation enacted by their elected representatives, and the overriding principle that there are nonetheless some things the Constitution forbids even a majority of citizens to do. The political-process doctrine, grounded in the Fourteenth Amendment, is a central check on majority rule.
The Fourteenth Amendment instructs that all who act for the government may not “deny to any person … the equal protection of the laws.” We often think of equal protection as a guarantee that the government will apply the law in an equal fashion — that it will not intentionally discriminate against minority groups. But equal protection of the laws means more than that; it also secures the right of all citizens to participate meaningfully and equally in the process through which laws are created.
In my colleagues’ view, examining the racial impact of legislation only perpetuates racial discrimination. This refusal to accept the stark reality that race matters is regrettable. As members of the judiciary tasked with intervening to carry out the guarantee of equal protection, we ought not sit back and wish away, rather than confront, the racial inequality that exists in our society.
– From her dissenting opinion in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action. Decisions can be read in full here.
This year at Megacon, I had the opportunity to check out some great items from SuperHeroStuff.com. My favorite item was a Batman shirt. Even though it was in a men’s cut, it fit me great and could pass for a ladies’ shirt.
I’ve had some time to wear each piece and wash them a few times. As usual, the quality holds up great. The shirts do shrink a little, so I would buy one size up to make sure it still fits when you take it out of the dryer.
Since Mother’s Day is right around the corner, I decided to head to SuperHeroStuff.com and with the help of Polyvore, put together some outfits for mom that I’m sure she will love (I know I love them).
First Up is Batman!
Batman is by far one of my favorite superheroes. I don’t know if it’s all of his “wonderful toys,” his great one-liners when talking to Superman, or the fact that he has one of the best animated series of all time.
My choice shirt for this outfit is the “Always be yourself. Unless you can be Batman. Then always be Batman.” men’s shirt ($22). Yes. I know it’s a men’s shirt, but this one really does fit more like a ladies’ cut than a men’s cut, so you’re fine. To give it a little bling, I like the Batman symbol bling studs ($12), which are made from a zinc alloy. If you would prefer to get mom something made with surgical steel, check out the Batman black die-cut earrings instead ($9). As for mom’s credit cards (you know, that plastic thing she’s always buying you stuff with), get her the Batman symbol ladies speaker wallet ($29). For the belt, I like the yellow Batman signal belt ($15).
Batman: Earth One by Geoff Johns is one of my favorite Dark Knight origin stories and will give mom a chance to read about Batman taking out the Gotham City trash while you do the same in the kitchen (hint…hint…). While you’re at it, how about you play Alfred for the day and wait on her hand and foot?
Next Up is the Man of Steel Himself: Superman!
The costume backpack is my favorite part of this outfit, because it has a lot of fun features like a costume belt and cape, so you can show everyone how super mom really is. The main compartment is large enough to fit my new HP Envy Touchsmart laptop with room to spare.
This Superman shirt is my favorite ($24.99) because it’s simple and I can pair it with a black blazer to dress it up a little. Of course, if this T-shirt doesn’t suit you, SuperHeroStuff has a ton of other ladies’ cut shirts to choose from.
The Superman iPhone case is also a wallet and has a special place for cash and credit cards (also known as that plastic thing mom uses to buy you stuff).
My comic book pick for this outfit is Superman: Birthright by Mark Waid. This is one of my favorite Superman origin stories ($15.99 on Amazon). While mom is reading about the Man of Steel, why don’t you show her what a superhero you are and pick up after her for a change?
She-Hulk just debuted in her own solo series, and what better way to celebrate than with a smashing outfit to read it in. Of all the She-Hulk shirts ($24) on SuperHeroStuff.com, I like this one the best because of the colors and the style.
To complete the ensemble, the Hulk messenger bag ($30) and matching wallet ($25) will make sure mom is carrying her stuff in style. The radioactive earrings ($9) are made of surgical stainless steel and will add that final awesome touch.
My comic book of choice for this outfit is, of course, She-Hulk by Dan Slot ($25). While mom reads about the coolest lawyer in the Marvel universe, how about you pledge to rid the house of dust bunnies?
G.I Joe isn’t just for the guys, though the clothing selection might make it seem otherwise. To be honest, I had a hard time finding something that would work, but I found it in the Cobra Commander shirt ($20). This shirt is a men’s cut, but if you get the right size, it will fit mom just fine.
The bag is brought to you by Ogio and is available on Amazon for $41.
Make sure you pick up G.I Joe: Origins Vol. 1 ($16) to stick in mom’s bag! It’s a nice intro to the characters and will give her a break from the running around that she does for you all day. To make this an extra special gift, while she’s reading, pick up a broom (the thing with a handle and big bristles at the bottom) and do a little cleaning. When she’s done reading, she will really appreciate your help.
Last but Not Least, the Flash!
Any mom that’s a fan of the scarlet speedster will love this one, complete with matching belt ($15) and black bag with swag buttons ($6). The hat ($28) comes in different sizes and there’s also a ladies’ cut shirt ($24) . The black Ogio bag that I paired with the G.I. Joe outfit above would also go great with this outfit.
My Flash comic book pick is The Flash New 52: Vol. 1 ($9.99 on Amazon). To make this gift extra special, take a turn at the laundry and let mom use the time she would be folding your jeans to read a good book.
If you’re interested in checking out SuperHeroStuff.com in person, they will be at these upcoming conventions:
C2E2 – 4/25/14
Phoenix Comicon – 6/5/14
Denver Comic Con – 6/13/14
Wizard World Philly – 6/19/14
Wizard World Chicago – 8/21/14
Salt Lake Comic Con – 9/4/14
New York Comic Con – 10/9/14
Stan Lee’s Comikaze – 11/1/14
If you stop by, tell Brian that Dakster says hi!
GeekMom received a few of these items for review purposes.
In the second episode of season five, Pete & Myka joined up with some old friends from the Secret Service to investigate a series of drownings on dry land in Washington DC. Meanwhile, Artie and Steve help Claudia learn more about her past by revealing the truth about what really happened to her parents and her older sister Claire.
Highlights of this week’s episode:
Despite all the good, there is also a lot of bad going on in the world of endless wonder at the moment. A look at the Warehouse 13 tag on Tumblr will reveal a fraction of the current ship war between Pyka (Pete/Myka) and Bering & Wells. I will hold my hands up as a mild B&W shipper but even if I wasn’t, watching the way the show is suddenly hinting at a non-platonic relationship between its two leads despite four solid seasons of establishing the very opposite is at best uncomfortable and at worst downright insulting.
However the biggest issue I had with this week’s episode came not from the shipping issues (although that partly leads into it), but from what is happening to Myka. Last week her cancer arc was wrapped up rather quickly and clumsily and now we get to see Mrs. Frederic suddenly (and more than a little strangely for her character) bringing up the subject of motherhood. The segway from cancer to children in the discussion is so out of the blue that even Myka is thrown by it:
“Short of an occasional check up I am free and clear.”
“Good for you. *pause for a beat* What about children? Is that still an option?”
“Well, I… err… Why do you ask?”
“Sometimes in an event such as this a woman can reevaluate her priorities. Ask herself if there’s more to life while there’s still time.”
There’s a lot of discussion happening on the internet right now about how the show is using cancer as a catalyst for changing Myka’s character; making her suddenly interested in the idea of having a family (something she has until now expressed no desire for) so that can be used to rapidly bring Pete & Myka together. Right now that’s speculation. Certainly this week’s episode began to take steps in that direction, but so far Myka isn’t exactly high-tailing it to the nearest sperm bank. I desperately hope that the show avoids falling into that plotline and maintains Myka as the happy, work-loving woman she has always been rather than crowbarring a pregnancy plot in at the very end to “complete” her character.
There’s always a place for character development of course. People change their opinions and make new decisions in life. So, having a character stay frozen in place forever is just as unlikely. This, however, feels desperately rushed and awkward; especially when combined with the opening “previously on Warehouse 13” montage which showed Pete talking about his own desire for a family at the beginning of season four. Dear SyFy; please don’t ruin one of my favorite shows by cramming unnecessary romance and family plots into these final episodes. We just want to see Artie being grumpy, Pete being Pete, Myka being clever, Mrs Frederic being creepy, and Claudia finally evolving into whatever she’s destined to become—and being sarcastic about it to boot.