magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)
Somehow, I got into a hole where I just keep listening to songs set to the tune of "A Modern Major-General". I'm pretty sure the Elements Song is to blame:



...but that transitioned quickly into "Every Major's Terrible":



Which I really want to memorize, some day. Well, I want to memorize both of these, really. ("And iodine and thorium and thulium and thallium" is too much fun to say. Try it!)

So, I finally decided to look up the actual song, as it's been a long time since I've heard it, and that led me to this video:



And now, despite not remembering enough of the new Star Wars movies to even remember who Grievous is, I want to see fic based on this vid where he and young Obi-Wan are goofy buddy movie partners. Challenging each other to singing and swashbuckling contests.

...

...I'm sure there's a lesson I could draw out of the Tom Lehrer video; you can see that he stumbles on "molybdenum" a little (and really, wouldn't you?), but he doesn't get hung up on it; he just sweeps it behind him and moves on. Good life lesson. Which I will not be making any more eloquent than that.

And with that, good night.
magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)
It's always an interesting feeling when you've been completely paralyzed by the sight of the blank (or unfinished, or finished but requiring revision) Word document for days, weeks, or months, only to discover when a deadline looms that yes, if it comes down to it, you still can pound out 2500 words in a single Sunday. When 100 words have been giving every indication of being a Sisyphean task, you have to wonder where the switch got flipped.

I have a feeling it's in the "deadline" part.

When I was taking classes at the University of Iowa, one of my major complaints was that their fiction writing courses were non-graduated. There was no beginning, intermediate, advanced path to take – everyone, including the people just looking for three easy credits and with no passion for writing, got tossed into the same courses, and with the added complication that a lot of them thought "science fiction and fantasy" meant "you can't say anything about it because it's all just made up and doesn't have to make sense" meant that, with the exception of classes run by a couple excellent people, I didn't often get a lot out of the critiquing parts of the workshops. But they were still invaluable to me.

Why?

Because sometimes, all you need is the magical combination of time to write, the expectation that you'll write, and a commitment to persons outside of yourself that you'll produce something, even if it isn't a lofty piece of literature which will stand the test of ages.

Which is why Clarion West is such an amazing place, to be honest. Well, one of the reasons. I can't ignore the chance to learn from six amazing teachers with six different strengths and styles, or the amazing families you can form there, but what makes it a truly mind-altering experience is the fact that for six weeks, your entire life can be writing. You can saturate yourself with your fiction. Set aside work, cares, feeding the cats (or the kids), making yourself dinner, all the niggling cares of the so-called real world. All that's expected of you is fiction. The world is built around your fiction. And for your fiction, you are welcomed, supported, honored.

There's a reason so many of us join the Write-a-thon every year, hoping to grab back some vestige of what the workshop experience is like.

Anyway, now that I've tricked my brain into admitting that it hasn't burnt out forever and ever and that it can still string words together into a somewhat coherent narrative and that all the rest is just whining, I'm going to see where I get by the end of this week. This Friday, I have the first meeting of my new job; immediately thereafter, I'm going to be helping to launch a company. It'll be an exciting and busy time, and pretty much the opposite of the workshop in terms of the precedence my immediate world accords my writing.

But, you know, it's okay. As ever, we'll see how it goes.

...

There aren't any really good Write-a-thon-quotable passages from the 2500 words of yesterday, so I'll give you a snatch of one of the next projects I'm going to be working on: the post-apocalyptic pseudo-moleman-infested extremely unromantic love story Rust City.

"Do people do that?"

"Look to sex for comfort?" Ferro asked. "It's a thing people do, yeah."


[Semi-boilerplate text: As always, I hope you'll check out and support the Clarion West Write-a-thon (and me in particular, if you feel so inclined). Your donation will help a workshop that makes it all but impossible for authors not to produce. And producing is half the battle.]
magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)
I had this post roughly sketched out in the back of my head, but then my week got all crazy, my basement flooded, and I got sidetracked by writing about space elevators and hydroponic roses, so here's the distilled essence of the Post That Never Was:

Anna Hazare is awesome. You should all take a look at "Escaping Poverty: The Ralegan Siddhi case," and then we should all get started on sensible watershed development here. And everywhere. Though possibly Iowa City needs a different sort of watershed development program than Ralegan Siddhi needed, given Iowa City's aggravating tendency to either flood the Arts Campus or flood my basement.
magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)
Sagan-Man
They laugh now, but within 10 years the city's entire
criminal class will have quit to work on space research.


My adoration for various space programs, and for the larger natural universe, is somewhat hard to define.

I just watched Voyage to the Planets and Beyond for the first time today, and let me tell you, the adoration was there in spades.

At one point you get to listen to the radiowaves coming up out of Jupiter's natural processes. You get to listen to planetsong. I came perilously close to getting tears in my eyes.
magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)
'cause I really love Eleventh Hour. (The British version, with Patrick Stewart. I hear that they're making an American version, and I really wish they'd stop doing that. The British version is fine, guys, it's just fine.)

1) It's a pretty bold genre. Billing itself as science-based rather than science-fiction, it aims to produce shows looking at scientific problems as they exist today.

This is HELLA COOL.

I'm a sci-fi junkie, from space opera/science fantasy all the way up to Dragon's Egg-style hard SF, and I still think this is hella cool. Or perhaps that's why I think this is hella cool. Of course, it's subject to the lensing effect where the more rigorous they try to me, the more sensitive I am to things that don't seem *quite* right, but it's a show that tries, at least, and manages to make running around after scientific things pretty gritty and gripping. How many of my nerd buttons don't get pressed, there?

2) It's adorably idealistic about science, even when it's being gritty with its dark lighting and its (quite good, actually) dramatic music and cinematography. The main character, Professor Ian Hood, will stop to explain scientific concepts to his bodyguard in a way that shows passion and respect for the field and isn't at all hokey. (Or maybe it's a little hokey. Any time you have someone stand there and exposit, it's hokey. But it's hokey in a way that makes me think that the writers, the actors, and their expected audience really want to know about this science and are eager to share it.

I grew up on Star Trek: The Next Generation, which was adorably idealistic itself. It focused more often on social and political issues, but that sort of real care about real things in fiction is still my intellectual comfort food. (And then Star Trek slowly became less and less about the ideas and more and more about the franchise and the action, and... I died a little. But this! This is good! And I am grooving on it SO HARD right now!)

3) It's incredibly well put-together. I may complain about the official procedure and how a few of the incidental characters seem more useless/to know more than they should or that it really doesn't feel like appropriate precautions are being taken in this situation or that, but the plots are tightly-woven and well-layered and even if I can predict a twist or two, I feel rewarded. I caught two of the twists in episode 3 before, Kryptos, before they were revealed, and BOTH TIMES I reacted not with a groan but with a "You clever BASTARDS!". The ways in which plot elements are introduced and recur are an absolute joy to watch.

Add that with the direction, cinematography, and music, and WAH. I'm hooked. I love it. It's polished in exactly the ways I like it to be. (Though I will maintain that the lighting of the hospitals and clinics in the first episode was patently unrealistic, even if the visual effect was pretty nice.)

4) Patrick Stewart.

...what? I grew up on Star Trek: The Next Generation. I'm pretty sure I said this. And I ♥ Patrick Stewart a great deal from those days.

I had a conversation with my brother once about people who got into arguments about things like how Sisko (Deep Space 9) could beat up Captain Picard (The Next Generation). But that was the thing. Picard never needed to beat up anyone. There were other options available to him.

I love that this is the kind of person Stewart plays. In Eleventh Hour, he's the scientist. Science is the Cause for which they fight, and it's that which leads to the resolution. Science is worth fighting for. It's worth drama. It's worth having a show made about it, and Stewart infuses that role not only with the high notes of passion and drama, but with the sort of presence that says he believes that, too. And... ♥. Just ♥. ♥ forever.

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