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English? Time for the Subtitles…

It could be the theater-related post from Tuesday. It could be that I’ve been catching up on a lot of Shakespeare, but this particular video about how English sounded 500 years ago is the right thing to stumble across at the right time:

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Theater in the Time of Coronavirus

All sorts of physical businesses are suffering during this global pandemic and I know many people, dependent on in-person gigs for their livelihood who now have no income stream (to say nothing of creative freelancers, as one Nation article notes).

So this video posted last week by Joseph Haj, artistic director of the Guthrie Theater resonated:

I was lucky enough to grow up going to the theater and live performances frequently, something I’ve tried to pass on to my kids. I hope that time will come again soon.

“If” by Rudyard Kipling

It could be because we all have a bit more time to think about how we’ll reflect back on these days, or how we’re trying to help our children through this, but this video hit me particularly now.

With apologies to Polonius, I think I’ll lead with this one in addressing my own Laertes.

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Chris Hadfield finds your lack of Hard Sci-Fi Disturbing

I’ve really enjoyed Chris Hadfield letting us know about the realities of space exploration, from his space-based cover of Bowie to his book to his counsel on dealing with the pandemic.

So, I was happy to check out what his thoughts were on some of my favorite “hard sci-fi” films were and– oh, it’s like comparing notes with my dad, the physicist and history buff…

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Get Some Writing Inspiration

Last weekend… I did a bunch of chores. But I also did said chores while watching multiple panels and some breakout sessions for the Online Writer’s Conference I talked about last week.

If you missed it, good news! You can check out the panels from both days on the same website.

Day One
Day Two

Combined, it’s over 13 hours worth of insights and techniques from working novelists, screenwriters, and others.

So check it out! Perhaps while you’re taking care of a bunch of chores. I’m going to do that because I’m sure I missed a few things. Whatever works!

Have you made your movie yet?

Online creativity is abounding, and it’s not just clever memes and personable actors giving us a positive news boosts. People are making movies.

In the past month, the 48 Hour Film project, a competition I’ve frequently done, has had a series of stay-at-home competitions.

So now indie filmmaker extraordinaire Roger Corman, who’s still sharp as a tack in his 90s, wants to see your short film. Seriously. He said so.

But better do it quick. You have less than two weeks.

What’s the cure for boredom? Brian Dennehy (R.I.P.)

I just re-watched Never Cry Wolf the other week, so Brian Dennehy’s ability to fully inhabit characters was fresh in my mind.

Sadly, Brian Dennehy has passed away at the age of 81.

One of the nice things about his work was that his characters were perfectly at east with who they were, be it an alien, a corrupt sheriff, or entrepreneurial pilot. If he turned out to be a villain, his character would metaphorically or literally shrug, as if to say, “Do you get surprised that a wolf is a carnivore?”

My all-time favorite scene with Brian Dennehy comes from Never Cry Wolf below:

The beauty of this scene is all the character and clues about motivation that Dennehy puts into Rosie. You think it’s just a fun, kooky scene when you first watch the film, but when Rosie turns up later in the film, you realize that everything he does is completely in line with what he told you in the beginning. His entire performance, as with so many of his others, is a kind of zen: totally in the moment.

That’s damn fine acting.

Supporting your friendly local bookstores…

So many industries are being shaken by the coronavirus pandemic, the retail section overall is suffering, but specifically, small retail businesses are hurting.

What with coming from a family of librarians and book-lovers, I’m especially keen to see independent book shops weather this latest storm, so I was happy to see an article earlier this month about how one online outfit, Bookshop.org is helping brick-and-mortar operations have an online footprint too.

My “unread” bookshelf is now too crowded for me to ignore, so I won’t be availing myself of them just yet, but soon! So very soon…

Life? Don’t talk to me about life! RIP, John Conway

I hope this doesn’t become too frequent, but I had to post something about one of the recent victims of the pandemic. As is being reporting in multiple outlets, John Conway has died at the age of 82.

Photo credit Thane Plambeck/via the Ars Technica article linked.

I know Conway the same way so many people know him: from his game of Life. No, not the family board game with the impressive spinner in the middle of the 3-D board. Conway’s game was abstract and far more mathematical (but it still has spinners!). It was like an endless civilization-building simulation.

I first tried my hand at it using graph paper, but found this to be very manual, so I took to using a Pente board, not realizing Conway himself had used a Go board when he was coming up with the game from the 60s. Thankfully, far cleverer people than I ported it over to the Interwebs, where you can test much vaster combinations much faster than I ever could manually. My favorite is over at Bitstorm.

So, take a moment at some point and play around with it. It’s very absorbing.

A proper sendoff via XKCD https://xkcd.com/2293/

(Note: not being a mathematician, I really can’t comment on what I understand are vast contributions in terms of other areas of mathematics, but I believe there are some links to that and some interviews in the Ars Technica article).

Online Writing Conference this Weekend!

The coronavirus pandemic has halted an ever-increasing number of conventions, conferences, and in-person workshops.

Russell Nohelty and Nicolas Nelson are lamenting this state of affairs, so they’ve organized a free online writer’s conference this weekend.

You can register for free, as well as learn more about the panels at this website.

See you online!