Tag Archives: Reading

Grieving and Living

While I’m sure its author would not purport to be the last authority on the subject nor her article a substitute for medical advice, I thought Lori Gottlieb’s piece in The Atlantic to be a good reflection on the grieving process.

Move over Monorail, It’s Electric Bus Time

I still remember researching electric cars being developed during the beginnings of the auto industry and being surprised when my dad mentioned that there were still electric vehicles on the road when he grew up in the 40s and 50s. Old models of delivery vehicles were still being used by thrifty businesses — and, in fact, the Walker Vehicle Company made such vehicles up until 1942 in Chicago.

The reason the vehicles were still on the roads was because electric motors cope with lots of starts and stops… such as delivery vehicles make. Delivery vehicles usually also don’t need to worry about extended range. They’re headed across town, not cross-country.

Being the practical engineer type, my dad was always befuddled by the fact that no one had decided to continue making electric vehicles for the urban environment.

It might not come as any surprise that many practical engineer types have had similar thoughts of late, only this time with buses versus delivery vehicles. In fact, they’re on track to be a significant percentage of all buses inside the next 10 years. Not only that, their use is already making a noticeable dent in oil use. My dad would especially like the passage in the latter article where the electric bus company was laughed at for making a toy not too many years ago. There’s no hubris quite like status quo hubris. (Especially since many people have mused about this happening, as you’ll see in a similar article from last year).

Of course, the only surefire way to have local governments adopt electric buses is to come up with a catchy song. You, know, something like…

A Look at the State Of Publishing: Traditional, Indie, and Self

I know author Kristine Kathryn Rusch mainly from her short stories in various science fiction magazines, but the truth is she writes across multiple genres and –apparently because sleep bores her or caffeine works particular wonders on her nervous system– she also edits, publishes, and shares all sorts of insights about said writing, editing, and publishing.

So when someone posted her thoughts about state of publishing in 2017, I thought it was worth a read… and you might, too.

Time is Not on Your Side. It is Your Personal Rashomon

As the year draws to a close, people invariably muse aloud about how fast the year has gone. Strangely, November was far longer for me than October. I’m not sure yet how December will shape up.

I decided to do some Internet digging about time and how people perceive it. I suppose I could go ahead and read some Marcel Proust since no one can properly summarize his masterwork, but I wanted something more on the scientific side.

I read about how time itself isn’t real certainly that time is subjective to each person. I tend to think of it as a lovely intangible. I was very interested to learn about how music affects our perception of time — and in general, I’m pretty sure I’ll be reading more about the study of time perception in the near future. It seems it often explores the nature and limits of what could be termed the Rashomon effect.

Eventually, I found a satisfying piece by Alan Burdick in the New Yorker that is, in the end, far more personal and philosophical than what I originally intended from a scientific assessment. So perhaps I’ll seek out that Proust after all.

 

 

Monday Motivation: You Doing You Creatively

I am overdue in continuing the “Monday Motivation” posts, so I thought it’d be an opportune time to note that sometimes it’s good to just do what you’re doing and keep on doing it. Especially for those of you in the middle of the slog that is NaNoWriMo: just keep truckin’. Don’t edit, write! As “they” say, the first draft is always garbage anyway and editing is another month.

One thing I thought of in terms of “you doing you” creatively is the fact that certain things are outside of your control. For example, sometimes people aren’t buying what you’re selling creatively… and it has nothing to do with the quality of what you’re selling (or you, personally). Mark Evanier mentions this as it applies to writers and actors in one of his excellent columns on rejection. As he points out, not every opportunity is an opportunity you’re supposed to get.

 

I’ve experienced both sides of this equation. On the submission side, I have and continue to get to be rejected both as a writer and an actor. I’m lucky on the actor front to often hear the voice-over spots I auditioned for that I didn’t get: many’s the time where I hear it and think, “Yup, they were going for something different than what I was giving.” It helps that I also get accepted as a writer and an actor from time-to-time, but it’s by no means guaranteed.

The flip side, doing casting or editing, I know the people Mark Evanier talks about who feel work should be guaranteed. The ins and outs of that are worth a whole other post, but the main thing I can say is, so long as you have an honest feedback loop in place to tell you how good your work is, you can and should just keep on doing your best and learning how to better that. Time and again I’ve seen that kind of self-aware, self-improving hard work be noticed and rewarded.

 

Lots of Recommended Reading: Scripts for Days

Life in the offline world has been demanding much of my attention this past month, so I haven’t been posting as much.

I feel somewhat remiss in my Internet duties to pass along useful information and interesting things to read. With that in mind, I direct you to 50 screenplays made available for free from some darn fine movies, from “Alien” to “Up in the Air.”

Happy reading!

Questions of Quality and Quantity in Prestige TV

So now that summer is over, including that show with the dragons, you may be wondering, “What shows are actually coming back this year?”

Jen Trolio and Caroline Framke over at Vox have answers.

This is one of those perennial Vox pieces I’m glad they do every year, because there’s a lot of shows. In fact, some might say there’s a glut of shows out there, which has led to occasional questions of whether we’re at “peak TV.”

Incidentally, I previously linked to a piece discussing what “peak TV” might mean anyway, but I find the way Variety tracks it is works for me: the number of scripted series. The concern, then, is not necessarily that we would exhaust the supply of talented storytellers making the various series, but that the series become so numerous that too many of them fail to find an audience and economic security (i.e., continued survival).

Todd VanDerWerff explores this more in-depth (also in Vox), including both the cyclical nature of notions of TV being horrible and then wonderful as well as the ways in which the quantity of media coverage on a particular TV show does not necessarily track to its quality.

Recommended Reading: Universal Basic Income as a Way to Grow the Economy

Between Labor Day and chatting with some very bright people about the future of finance at Escape Velocity this weekend, it felt like a good time to post something about the future and universal basic income (UBI).

One of the things I like about Dylan Matthew’s article in Vox about the Roosevelt Institute’s recent study on the potential effects of implementing UBI is that he explores the premises behind both the study and the critics of said study.

I’ll update with related articles on the study if I come across them.

The Kirby Centennial

Monday, August 28th (yesterday) marked Jack “King” Kirby’s 100th birthday.

He isn’t still around to celebrate it, but we certainly have a tremendous body of work with which to celebrate his storytelling.

I had made a comment on social media, but he seems to have cast a large enough shadow across pop culture that people may well be celebrating his centennial all week.

One of his assistants, Mark Evanier, who also wrote the biography Kirby: King of Comics, has a nice remembrance of the man and the impact he had.

Comic-con also has an impressive 60-page PDF of artwork and anecdotes about Kirby.

There’s also pieces you can read in Forbes, the Washington Post, CBR, and Techcrunch among others. Bleeding Cool has its picks for his top five creations.

( I personally have a soft spot for Kamandi).

Finally, Jeet Heer has a great article in the New Republic about Kirby and his impact, which dwarfs his outsize artwork.

 

This Summer Means Hollywood is Doomed…. Again

Every summer –for at least a decade or more– the Hollywood film industry has been doomed.

I would imagine they must get sick of all the doom, what with being doomed with the advent of television, the disintegration of the studio system, the rise of VCRs and video stores, online streaming, streaming services like Netflix making their own content — and possibly avocado toast.

Nevertheless, within the traditional ‘doom’ narrative, there may be trends, so I read a recent piece by David Sims in The Atlantic with interest about Hollywood’s “bad movie problem.” Just like last year, there seem to be a slew of high-profile blockbusters that underperformed domestically. This year, however, Sims hypothesizes that executives are running out of gas with their strategy of mining known IP for all its worth regardless of demand. He bases this not a generic “doom” observation, but that the studios are using tactics internationally, specifically the Chinese market, that are netting less overall profit. Oh, and the films are still doing bad domestically (ahem: bad movies).

Indeed, over in the Hollywood Reporter, Scott Roxborough and Patrick Brzeski detail the wave of political slings and arrows that may sour all the Chinese-American film synergy. Moreover, several of the media monoliths now owned by Chinese concerns are experience firsthand on their balance sheets what it means for North American box office revenues to slide. In fact, John Nolte over at The Daily Wire suggests that, yes, it really is a bad movie problem. The American viewing public has figured this out and both box office and home video revenues are slumping accordingly.

So is this the Final Doom?

I mean, Spielberg released the BFG, so maybe…

It strikes me that movies and related “more passive” visual entertainment are still a potent pop culture delivery device. They’ll be around for quite some time until companies figure out how to make virtual reality more economical and interwoven with our habits like turning on the TV in the evening or going to films on weekends. If or when that happens, expertise in films and such will likely pour into those interactive productions. The companies that exist today could definitely transform into interactive powerhouses through building up their own capabilities or through acquisitions.

Though, frankly, I love films and TV as-is and hope there’s always going to be a place for them (same with books as my bulging bookshelves can attest). And I hope some of the studios pick up on what Sims pointed out in his article: that some of the best grossing films so far this year have been non-franchise original works… that not coincidentally didn’t cost as much to produce.

Tune in for a similar article next summer!