Magpie Monday

Here are some shiny things that caught my eye recently:

♦ On Facebook this week, Theodora Goss shared this photo by Tatyana Veduta (click to see larger):

Wouldn’t that be a charming weekend-getaway cottage? Imagine all the art you could make, nestled under the earth.

In other home-y news, Grace at Domythic Bliss answers the question why create a mythically inspired home? Her thoughts aren’t all necessarily myth-specific and would apply to any decor, so go give it a read, even if you’re not a fan of bell jars and green men.

I also recently ran across the article “Shelf-Conscious” by Francesca Mari at The Paris Review, which is a fascinating read about shelving books (via). Yes, you know when someone is a serious, hardcore book nerd when articles about shelving books fascinates them. Speaking of bookshelves, Lauren Davis has a list of survival books to keep on your bookshelf in case of the apocalypse. Also, no offense to the very lovely Felicia Day, but I think the bookshelves are the sexiest thing in this photo (click to see larger):

I love the idea of secret doors and passageways inside a house, but British architect Jack Woolley made a secret entrance to his office and home. Can you find it in the picture below? (click to see larger)

The entrance is disguised just enough, but the fact that one story of the building is underground helps a lot. Dezeen Magazine has a great article with many more pictures (including the inside and the architectural plans) of Woolley’s place (via). From that article I also found a link to another article about a disguised passageway hidden behind a mirror in Spain. Very cool!

♦ My friend Andy has started a new blog, Radio Free Other, on which he’ll

explore themes of fantasy, horror, and science fiction in popular music.  I was always a big folklore and mythology geek as a kid, not to mention a total music nerd, and I’ve been interested lately in the intersection of the two.  Plus, it’s not a bad excuse for brushing up on my folklore, which I’ve fallen very much out of the habit of reading.  There might be a few other things on here that aren’t strictly music related, but that’s OK.

The first post is about “Bone of Song” by songwriter Josh Ritter (who, in a nice bit of synchronicity, has shown up on SF Signal and Neil Gaiman’s blog & tumblr this week—great videos at each link, though the same video for Gaiman’s blog and tumblr). Go have a read and a listen!

♦ Speaking of Neil Gaiman, on his tumblr he received this message:

I bought my niece Coraline as a gift. When I next saw her, I asked what she thought of it. She got about half-way through, then got so scared she wrapped it up in a blanket and put it in a shoe box. Then put the shobox in an empty toybox, then filled the toybox, locked it, and put it up in the attic. Which was then locked. Just thought I’d share that.

To which Gaiman replied, “I think that’s the most wonderfully sensible treatment of a book that scares you I’ve ever heard of.I love how thorough the niece was, like those characters in fairy tales who hide their heart in an egg inside a duck inside a fox inside a gold chest inside an elephant under a tree under a mountain on an island in the middle of the ocean.

Speaking of books (and when am I not?), my friend Eljay sent me some links to artist Brian Dettmer‘s work (“Insane Art Formed by Carving Books with Surgical Tools” and “Incredible Book Carvings by Brian Dettmer“). Called a “book surgeron,” Dettmer turns old books into art through a painstaking attention to detail; even more fascinating, he never adds material to his book art or rearranges the content—he just cuts away. Below is an example, but click any of the links above to see more (and you should see more—you really, really should).

Be sure to click to the larger size. And, yes, I just bought two books featuring Dettmer and other book artists: Masters: Book Arts: Major Works by Leading Artists and Book Art: Iconic Sculptures and Installations Made from Books.

♦ Here’s some cover art I like (click on the image to go to the Weird Tales website):

Want more weird images? Of course you do! Check out the beauty to the left by Jeffrey Vanhoutte (it’s a thumbnail–click to see it in all its weird glory), which you can find at Beefactory, a retouching workshop in Brussels, Belgium (it’s probably better if you don’t misread that name as “beef factory” rather than how it should be read “B Factory”). Lots of really great photography on that site, and I promise not all of it is as weird as this Vanhoutte image. Via.

♦ Jennifer Griffith and Charlie Jane Anders tell the weird history of Wonder Woman in in TV, movies, and beyond. I’d love to see a TV show (live action or animated) and/or a live-action movie focused on Wonder Woman, but I think historically she’s not been imagined well for live-action film or (contemporary) television. What Azzarello and Chiang are currently doing with the Wonder Woman comic is a path filmmakers ought to consider (mythology as horror), but they also ought to consider just making her a bad-ass warrior fighting monsters. I’d pay to see that any day of the week.

♦ Mr. Cook and others might enjoy Meredith Woermer’s answer to the question, “Did The Hunger Games really rip off Battle Royale?” If you’re not familiar with the book or film Battle Royale, basically (and over-simplified) it’s about kids fighting each other to the death. Also of note, Battle Royale comes out on Blu-Ray and DVD on March 20th (there’s also a “complete collection” that has a lot of extras). I’ve already pre-ordered the DVD.

Writers’ Corner:

Chuck Wendig has 25 things he wants to say to so-called “aspiring” writers.

I meant to post this last week, but Jeff VanderMeer gives a fascinating self-analysis of his story, “The Situation.” He also had a great take on staying in touch with your writing. Here’s the opening of that post:

Sometimes I think writers, on their blogs and when giving advice, over-emphasize word count. It’s certainly important for writers to understand that discipline is important and that no work exists without getting butt in seat and words on the page. But there’s a wider context to writing that sometimes gets lost.

That context? Thinking about writing is vital, and staying in touch with your characters and story can be as important as the actual writing. Words on the page created without finding the time to exist fully in the world of the story often means a writer misses possibilities that would deepen a work of fiction.

This month, Catherynne M. Valente‘s been guest-blogging for Charles Stross and included four interesting posts on writing. Take a look:

You Are What You Love: A Numerical List of Loosely Connected Thoughts on Writing (Part 1)

Between the Perfect and the Real: On Writing Part 2

Operating Narrative Machinery: Thoughts on Writing Part 3

Not Enough Credit, Not Enough Time: Thoughts on Writing Part 4 (and Final)

On her blog this week, Terri Windling posted two quotations on writing that really spoke to me (the image underneath also comes from her blog):

“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.” ~Stephen King

“All that I hope to say in books, all that I ever hope to say, is that I love the world.” ~E.B. White

Putting Stephen King’s idea about how writing enriches your life and the lives of your readers into practice: Harry Turtledove spoiled the ending of his ongoing The War that Came Early alternate history novel series for Nachu Bhatnagar, a fan who has terminal cancer. Read the article about how his friend made that happen at io9.

♦ Too busy to watch all eight of the Harry Potter films? Watch this 60-second summary, instead.


I’m really loving this trailer for upcoming films The Moth Diaries.

Lauren Davis did a nice little write up on the film, which is written and directed by Mary Harron, who also adapted American Psycho. I think the trailer’s well done, though what I like most is that Ernessa sings the song from the Grimm fairy tale, “The Juniper Tree,” so you know I’m all over it.

♦ This isn’t quite recent, but just yesterday I learned that Alison Flood had published an article, “Writers Bid to Revive Letter-Writing,” at The Guardian at the beginning of the month. Mary Robinette Kowal and Stephen Elliott (of The Rumpus and Letters in the Mail), among others, are interviewed.

Alas, the Month of Letters challenge is about to end. Although this month has been more hectic than usual (I was involved in two job searches), I did manage to post something every day: postcards, birthday cards, one letter, a box of Mallo Cups, and a bookmark. Tomorrow and Wednesday are the last day of the challenge, and I’ve already planned what I’ll be sending out. Although the challenge was actually a challenge given my time constraints, and even though I didn’t write many actual letters, I enjoyed myself and hope to keep up some of this postal correspondence.

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