Magpie Monday

Here are some shiny things that caught my eye recently:

Ransom & Mitchell take some of the most elaborate, magical, and wild photographs I’ve ever seen. Their photography (and film work) is housed in the intricate sets they create, and it doesn’t seem as if anything’s been left undone in the creation of these portraits. The duo consists of Stacey Ransom (a set designer and photo-illustrator) and Jason Mitchell (a director-photographer). Their first solo show, Smoke & Mirrors, opened last week at Varnish Fine Art in San Francisco, and I wish I could see it.

Portrait of artist Scott Musgrove, “The Last Good Man” by Ransom and Mitchell (2012)

On her blog, Ransom posts the following about Smoke & Mirrors (click through, please—that post is full of images and behind-the-scenes shots):

Through a combination of cinematic lighting, theatrically-designed sets, and an illustrative approach that is inspired by the Italian and Dutch Master painters, we aim to create worlds that cannot exist (and quite possibly shouldn’t).

We hope our images blur the lines between traditional photography and classical painting so our viewers will be unsure as to what is “real” and what we created either as sets & props or as digital painting.

In our show “Smoke & Mirrors,” we are presenting two unique bodies of work, consisting of fourteen cinematically themed tableaus, twenty seven artist portraits and two short films. For our narrative pieces, we have combined epic scenes of lush grandeur with uncomfortable emotional themes that address issue of obsession, consumption and longing.

For our portraiture, we have sought to tell personalized stories about each artist and filled their scenes with clues about their inner truths.

Wreckage by Ransom and Mitchell (2012)


The Reading Spot.

Oh my goodness but there was a lot of fine reading on the interwebs last week:

The Gifter by Torrey Podmajersky at Daily Science Fiction

Summer Reading by Ken Liu at Daily Science Fiction

Nell by Karen Hesse at

Down the Wall by the incomparable Greer Gilman at Weird Fiction Review

The Lotus Eaters by Michelle Muenzler at Electric Velocipede

Third Time’s a Charm by Melanie Rees at Daily Science Fiction

The Touch of Love by Day Al-Mohamed at Daily Science Fiction

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There (excerpt) by Catherynne M. Valente at

A Silly Love Story by Nicole Cipri at Daily Science Fiction

Check out the 16th issue of Scheherezade’s Bequest for some great fairy-tale themed fiction and poetry.

This past week AlphaBooks, an alphabetical tumblr exploration of fictional characters curated by Ben Towle, moved to the Q’s. Check out Leah Palmer Preiss’s Queequeg from Moby-Dick and Marc Basile’s Queen of Hearts from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Below is my favorite this week because it’s just so weird and funny—“a very loose interpretation,” as the artist says: Q is for Don Quixote by Axel Medellin Machain.

♦ The Book Nook.

Mary Shelley gave a copy of Frankenstein to Lord Byron, and now you can own it—for the low, low price of £400,000! Via.

Two treats from Bookshelf Porn, the first from Paris, the second from Stockholm:

Abstraction Active Loft in Paris, France

Bookshelf wall in a round studio loft located in Stockholm

♦ Someone’s in the Kitchen with Dinah.

Want to know how to fry an egg perfectly? Check out this slide show from The New York Times that gives you step-by-step instructions for The Perfectly Fried Egg from José Andrés, arguably “the best-known Spanish chef working in the United States today [and] the new dean of Spanish Studies at the International Culinary Center in Manhattan.” Andrés says, “My whole life, I have been trying to cook an egg in the right way.” Via.

Check out 15 of the world’s most expensive foods. As you might expect, the price rises when you use edible gold leaf, white truffles, Swedish moose cheese (!), and Beluga caviar. And when you include accessories like jewelry and really pricey wine.

11 cakes inspired by comic books. Can you guess which are my favorites?

Yowza! Zelda, seen below, “is half Peach Cake soaked in bourbon, the other half is vanilla cake with a salted caramel buttercream.” How terrible is it that I want to marry Zelda only to eat her? I’m sure her mother, Karen Portaleo of Highland Bakery (click through to see more amazing cakes), would approve. Via.

♦ The Horns of Elfland.

My friend Andy has a new post up on Radio Free Other: You walking dead today, with your wandering around, moanin’ about your hunger—what you kids need is a little focus! (He’s talking about Warren Zevon’s “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner” and Chad VanGaalen’s “Molten Light.”)

Last week was the 30th anniversary of Kate Bush’s fourth album (and one of my favorites), The Dreaming, and some really great commentaries were posted on the web, which you can find links to here. The most thorough and fascinating is Matt Lindsay’s look at the album over at The Quietus. Here’s a teaser bit:

‘Get Out Of My House’ repositions A.L. Lloyd’s reading of the metamorphic folk tale of romantic resistance, ‘Two Magicians’ in the domestic asylum of Stephen King’s The Shining. It ends the album in a resounding bray of donkeys and drum talk, as absurd and harrowing as [a] Lynch soundtrack.

I swoon. Listen below to “Houdini,” which has been in my head all week, and “Get Out of My House,” which never leaves it.

(According to Lindsay, “On ‘Houdini’, a pint of milk and two chocolate bars were consumed to give her voice the required ‘spit and gravel’.”)

♦ She Blinded Me…with Science!

Natural, Social, and Weird sciences

The blue of berries isn’t blue at all, darn it.

The most successful presidents could be the ones who exhibit psychopath-like traits.

The Halo Effect: why you won’t believe your heroes have flaws.

Sexually aroused women find everything less disgusting.

Placebo effect can be triggered by subliminal cues.

This otherworldly amphibian, the glassfrog, has a completely transparent underbelly. Adorable! And weird.

Virgin birth has just been discovered in wild snakes. Let’s hear it for parthenogenesis!

Why is the light from the TV always blue?

Why a crow will never forget your face.

The reasons early humans may have practiced infant cannibalism. And why I won’t give up bacon.

♦ Viewers’ Paradise.

11 TV and movie clichés you never seen in real life. Some of these really drive me nuts!

Molly will appreciate how 11 classic TV stars got their big breaks—with video!

This trailer for Mama freaked me out. Either I’m getting more nervous, or this thing gets really scary. Can I get confirmation one way or the other? Cameron? Daniel?

♦ The Ninth Art.

Super-Team Family: The Lost Issues! had some great team-ups last week, including a Tintin/Jonny Quest pairing (so good it got two covers: here’s part one and part two) and a fun Wonder Woman vs. Wolverine match-up. My favorite, though, is the clash of Hawkman and Thor. I love everything about this cover and especially how the heroes mirror each other (winged helmet vs. winged mask, the hammer vs. mace, the cape vs. wings). Too fantastic!

I’m pretty stoked about Hope Larson’s graphic novel adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, which is due out in early October. If you can’t wait for the book to come out, rest easy: shared a 12-page preview last week to help tide you over. The art’s just great, as I’d expect from Larson—I can’t wait to read the whole thing!

Check out this gallery of The New Yorker covers by Chris Ware, who “captures American ennui well.”

Tansy Rayner Roberts continues her most excellent Where the Wonder Women Are series with reflections on SupergirlThe Wasp, and Gypsy.

For you Aquaman lovers out there (which I hope isn’t just Fara), here’s a BoingBoing article about The Science of Aquaman (finally, some respect!): “Marine biologist Andrew Thaler is on his second post about the science of Aquaman. Besides being just fascination [sic] information about the ocean and the creatures that live there, the posts also build a pretty good case for why we—the comic-book reading public—should care about Aquaman in the first place.”

I like the concept of DC Comics’ new line of standalone graphic novels, the first two of which are Superman: Earth One and Batman: Earth One, both of which re-imagine the iconic characters (presumably for an audience who doesn’t want to have catch up on decades of crazy continuity). Last week I was thinking to myself, when is Wonder Woman: Earth One going to hit the shelves and who will write and draw it? Well, I know now the writer won’t be Greg Rucka, who had a great run on Wonder Woman before the reboot, nor will the artist be J.H. Williams III, which likewise kind of devastating. Apparently, according to a recent interview, Rucka was promised the Wonder Woman: Earth One book and then DC gave it to someone else. Ouch! Grant Morrison is apparently the writer who got WW:EO instead of Rucka, and I like Morrison just fine (though I don’t follow him) but not as much as I’d like Rucka on that book. You can read more about this disappointing news at The Beat and Straitened Circumstances, which have commentary and links to the Rucka interview.

In other comic news, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season Nine comic book is introducing a new character, Billy, a gay male vampire slayer (no, he’s not in the Slayer lineage). You can read about it at The Beat,, and io9 and then check out an interview with Jane Espenson and Drew Greenberg.

My favorite update last week from The Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe REDUXE Edition was Captain Marvel (whom I love as a character) by Miklós Felvidéki:

CAPTAIN MARVEL by Miklós Felvidéki

And just because I love it old school, here’s Phil Noto’s take on Havok and Polaris. Via.

♦ Writers’ Corner.

On her blog, Nova Ren Suma asks writers to answer the question, “What was your turning point as a writer?” Sean Ferrell’s response is one of the best pieces on writing I’ve read in a long time. A must read, I’d say. (Thanks to Will Ludwigsen, who shared the link on Facebook).

Krissy Brady reminds us how to go toe-to-toe with rejection (and how to keep writing).

Chuck Wendig shares 25 of his personal rules for writing and telling stories. They’re good rules, folks.

Something interesting about writing race at Neil Gaiman’s tumblr. I noticed it in Anansi Boys and thought it was well done.

SF Signal’s Mind Meld on Directions Speculative Fiction Hasn’t Taken. Some interesting ideas here, though several of them already exist. Perhaps they mean what they’d like to see more of?

LitReactor on Art and the Aphorism.

Kate Elliott takes on The Omniscient Breasts, which really means the male gaze in fiction (I talk about the male—female—gaze a lot when I teach films, and I’m always curious to read new takes on it in other mediums).

Bryan Thomas Schmidt shares things pros with new authors knew about publishing and don’t.

♦ I’m a little late to the K-pop party, I’m afraid, but the video for Psy’s “Gangnam Style” is blowing my mind! Love love love its madness. Happy Monday, everyone!

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2 Responses to Magpie Monday

  1. Jonte says:

    I think I started using Twitter for the sole purpose of seeing Hope Larson working on WiT. There was the occasional teaser and I flipped out every single time. I think I have it pre-ordered. I need to check on that…

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