♦ Two days ago, Neil Gaiman’s beautiful white German Shepherd, Cabal, died unexpectedly. The blog post Gaiman wrote about Cabal was one of the most heart-wrenching eulogies I’ve ever read. He describes how he found Cabal back in 2007 and what the dog meant to him. And the end of his post brought me to tears. It’s lovely, and you should go and read it.
I’m terribly fond of the white German Shepherd (well, White Shepherds in general), and that’s the kind of dog I’ve thought about getting. Here’s another picture of Cabal, though I’m afraid I’ve had it in my files so long (since 2008) I don’t remember where I found it originally or who took the photo.
♦ The Best of Everything.
My friend Cameron Cook breaks down the Best of Everything in 2012, covering, television, film, and audio. His thoughtful insight about the twelve categories (I see what you did there) is well worth your time.
♦ Book Nook.
My friend Fara posted this image on Facebook. Now that’s a fine book nook! (Though, truth be told, I’d rather it was just the shelves floor-to-ceiling; I’d also add a secret bookshelf door.)
Via Fuck Yeah, Book Arts!, a quote by Keith Smith (one of the many things I like about this quotation is how it made start thinking about how to work such an idea into a story):
Bookbinding at its ultimate realization is not a physical act of sewing or gluing, but a conceptual ordering of time and space.
10 works of literary fantasy to jump start your imagination. I was glad to see Angela Carter, Susanna Clarke, John Crowley, Neil Gaiman, and Kelly Link on this list. I have Toby Barlow’s Sharp Teeth and Helen Oyeyemi’s Mr. Fox, but I haven’t had time to read them yet.
♦ Turn the Page.
Some fine prose to feed your frenzied heart:
Walking Home by Catherine Krahe at Daily Science Fiction
Ajantala, The Noxious Guest by Amos Tutuola at Weird Fiction Review
Unwanted by Holly Jennings at Daily Science Fiction
The Winds of Winter (excerpt) by George R.R. Martin.
Flax-golden tales: The Recondite Times, A Non-Periodical by Erin Morgenstern
Radio Free Other offers a superb review of Kij Johnson’s short story “Ponies”—go have a read! You can read “Ponies” online here at Tor.com.
The Wall Street Journal posted an article last week titled, “Don’t Burn Your Books—Print Is Here to Stay,” (via) which is a nice antidote to the many panicked articles about how physical books will disappear in the next couple years. Here’s a teaser:
A 2012 survey by Bowker Market Research revealed that just 16% of Americans have actually purchased an e-book and that a whopping 59% say they have “no interest” in buying one.
♦ The Ninth Art.
Something interesting on the super-hero movie front: Guillermo del Toro is working on a DC “Dark Universe” film that would focus on characters like John Constantine, Deadman, the Spectre, Swamp Thing, and Zatanna. I’m a longtime fan of Constantine and Zatanna, in particular, and I’d love to see what del Toro would do with these characters in a film.
I enjoyed Esther Inglis-Arkell’s 6 reasons why Batman is both perfect and boring. Now I’d like someone to do the same thing for Superman.
Speaking of Superman, Maurice Mitchell made an infographic that traces the history of the Superman logo from 1938 to 2012 (not every logo, mind you, but arguably the 25 most important ones). I’m really starting to love infographics in what may be perceived as an unhealthy way…. Click to embiggen (via).
The artist Rahzzah made a beautiful armored Diana of Themyscira (or Wonder Woman). Now this is a warrior goddess.
Artist Gavin Aung Than of Zen Pencils has made a lovely comic adaptation of “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer,” part of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Below is a teaser panel, but click through the link above to see the whole piece (via).
♦ The Horns of Elfland.
Kate Bush News has a wonderful background story on “Wuthering Heights,” Kate Bush’s first single released in 1977 (she was 19 at the time). A great read for Kate Bush fans!
Last week, David Bowie released his first single in ten years. “Where Are We Now” is a beautiful, melancholy piece, and the video is delightfully, deliciously strange and lovely. I’m really digging it.
♦ She Blinded Me … with Science!
Anatomy: Anatomical illustrations painted directly on human bodies (the evolution of Slim Goodbody?).
Cryptozoology: The rattenkönig, or rat kings.
Geography: This is the biggest mirror on Earth, the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia.
Ornithology: The King-of-Saxony Bird-of-Paradise is too cool to be believed (via).
Sexology: All humans have been female at least once in their lives (video below).
Social Science: “The Job I Love” and “Why I Fight” by Aaron Barlow, who gets it right about what it’s really like to teach. People who think college professors have it easy and stress-free have no idea what they’re talking about. None. Thanks to my cherished friend Molly for posting the link to this essay on Facebook!
♦ Viewers’ Paradise.
Something Awful put together delightful movie posters with starring roles for minor characters (via). I chose the example below, by Elbonio, specifically for one reader of this blog, but do check out the link—lots of fun stuff!
Ryan Britt had a fun post at Tor.com looking at how many posters for blockbuster movies draw on the archetypal image in Caspar David Friedrich’s Wanderer above the Sea of Fog (1818). I’ve always loved this painting.
♦ The Writing Desk.
Nigerian princes, watch your back: a new email scam is in town, targeting science fiction writers. You have to admire scammers’ tenacity, though I wonder why they never learn their lesson about covering their tracks. (Hello? Grammar’s calling and wants you to stop killing it.)
Geneva Hodgson offers her thoughts about art school, which could easily apply to most of the arts, I’d say, including writing.
Cathy Day has a story about creativity that’s really interesting.
The joys and perils of self-fictionalization as portrayed in four films: Adaptation; Synecdoche, New York; American Splendor; and All About My Mother (Todo Sobre Mi Madre).
♦ A Month of Letters.
Although I have a ton of stuff going on at work, I’ve decided to participate again in Mary Robinette Kowal’s A Month of Letters challenge. Here’s how Kowal describes it:
I have a simple challenge for you.
1. In the month of February, mail at least one item through the post every day it runs. Write a postcard, a letter, send a picture, or a cutting from a newspaper, or a fabric swatch.
2.Write back to everyone who writes to you. This can count as one of your mailed items.
All you are committing to is to mail 23 items. Why 23? There are four Sundays and one US holiday. In fact, you might send more than 23 items. You might develop a correspondence that extends beyond the month.
Write love letters, thank yous, or simply notes to say that you miss an old friend. Let yourself step away from the urgency of modern life and write for an audience of one. You might enjoy going to the mail box again.
I enjoyed the challenge last year, and I’m hoping this year will be equally fun. I even have some neat ideas for what to send people. If you’d like to receive some mail from me through the post next month, shoot me a message either through Gmail or Facebook with your address.