Magpie Monday

“How much better is silence; the coffee cup, the table. How much better to sit by myself like the solitary sea-bird that opens its wings on the stake. Let me sit here for ever with bare things, this coffee cup, this knife, this fork, things in themselves, myself being myself.” ~Virginia Woolf (via)

Here are some shiny things that caught my eye last week:

The Horns of Elfland.

I’m starting off today’s post with sound. “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles is my current music obsession—meaning I have listened to this song, this song from 2009, over and over and over again ever since I heard it recently on an episode of Community (is this some kind of mental disorder?). Obsessed, people, obsessed!

“Drown” by Tora Fisher is a pretty wonderful video. According to Boing Boing, director Burke Heffner built the set over a swimming pool and sank it while they filmed.

The Book Nook.

If you, like me, love the abundance of books, blogs, and websites fetishizing book images, then you’ll appreciate Face Out: The Curious Rise of Bibliographics over at The College Store, which gives a good tour of some of the more popular (a lot of which I own or already follow). Via.

Oh my. Check out The Scholar’s Library of Carol Gluck, a Japanese history scholar, who has more than 10,000 books in her collection.

Richard Davies gives a crash course in Book Collecting 101.

This story about Kirsten Larson, an American Girl doll lent out by a children’s librarian in a branch of the New York Public Library, is quite possibly one of the sweetest things ever.

Selected for Cameron and Hannah, recent converts

I loved Flavorwire’s list of the best fictional libraries in pop culture. They certainly hit a lot of my favorites (I suppose my other favorites might be a bit obscure): the Library of Babel, Sunnydale High Library, Lucien’s Library, Hogwarts Library, The Library (planet), The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, the monastery library, and the Beast’s library.

Around the World in Beautiful Typography.

I love this book building by Frank Halmans (via):

While I haven’t read 50 Shades of Grey and don’t expect I will, I’ve enjoyed all the videos of celebrities reading aloud from it, almost all of which Flavorwire collected in Celebrities Reading 50 Shades of Grey Aloud, Ranked from Worst to Best. They definitely got the top two right.  And I’m quite sure E.L. James is laughing all the way to the bank.

On her blog, Caitlín R. Kiernan referenced Molly Tanzer‘s novel A Pretty Mouth, and I was so intrigued by the title I had to look up the book. And the cover art was just too wonderful not to share!

I follow Gail Carriger’s blog, I’ve given her Parasol Proctectorate series as gifts, but I haven’t actually read any of them, exactly. I reached a point many years ago where I could no longer read mass market paperbacks, which is a shame, really, as this series seems right up my alley and it was only published as mass market paperbacks. I did, however, read the manga adaptation of Soulless, the first book in the Parasol Protectorate series, and enjoyed it tremendously. However, Carriger’s new series, Finishing School, is coming out in hardcover, so I’m very tempted to buy Etiquette & Espionage. Check out the fun book trailer:

At, art director Irene Gallo revealed designer Will Staehle’s cover for Something More Than Night, the forthcoming novel by Ian Tregillis. Staehle talks about his process and also provides several  of the designs he submitted. I do like this cover a lot, though I liked several of his other designs, too. Makes me want to read it (I love supernatural noir, even if the plot as described reminds me a bit of Neil Gaiman’s “Murder Mysteries”). What do you think of the cover, Fara?

A Blind Date with a Book is such a marvelous idea!

Look at this image from Bookshelf Pornvery carefully (click to embiggen):

Viewers’ Paradise.

I saw the original Evil Dead and its sequels in the wayback, and I remember those films more for their gore than for actually scaring me. But they’re remaking Evil Dead, and, holy crap, this trailer me the creeps, and it’s only the green band version! Here’s the official description for those of you unfamiliar with the films: “Five twenty-something friends become holed up in a remote cabin. When they discover a Book of the Dead, they unwittingly summon up dormant demons living in the nearby woods, which possess the youngsters in succession until only one is left intact to fight for survival.” Via.

If you like Adventure Time (and who doesn’t?), you’ll enjoy Ryley Swan’s 3D-animated version of the AT opening. Via.

Genevieve Valentine lists 10 things you should know about Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.

I hadn’t heard about The Knights of Badassdom before seeing this trailer, but it looks fun. Great cast! Via.

Diesel Reviews the World gives 3 reasons you should watch Community—and he’s definitely right. I’m a recent convert to the show (I’m almost halfway through the third season), and it’s really great. The lack of a laugh track really does show how funny Community is, especially when compared with The Big Bang Theory without its laugh track. To wit, the clip below I found last week, which reminds me of Garfield Minus Garfield, which I adore.

Confession: I have watched the first four seasons of The Big Bang Theory, and I laughed and came back for more, but something always nagged at me about it. After watching the fourth season a few months ago, I’m not sure I can watch TBBT anymore, mostly because I think the show is too mean-spirited. If you compare Sheldon and Abed, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

I was really excited to hear that a sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon might be in the works.

I don’t know how the movie will be, but this trailer for Upside Down  by Juan Diego Solanas tells me one thing: it’s going to be beautiful. Via.

And for a different kind of beauty, check out this trailer for Michel Gondry’s new film, Mood Indigo. Via.

Someone’s in the Kitchen….

Feast your eyes on these fantastic Lucha Libre mask labels by José Guízar—I love them so much! Via.

What food has the MOST calories per ounce?

Wow! I think this Powerpuff Girls cake by Tourtes (by way of Debbie Brown’s cookbook, Cartoon Cakes) is one of the cutest things ever! Via.

I like bananas. Cory Doctorow likes bananas. I like Cory Doctorow. Recently, he’s posted several times about bananas, including the link from last week’s Magpie Monday about the banana ice cream bar with an edible skin. Some other posts are Just look at this sniper eating a banana on a rooftop during the inauguration; Just look at this shattered banana that gives mute testimony of the bitter cold of Norway; Just look at this banana vending machine in Shibuya, Tokyo; and Just look at this gilded banana (actually, the gilded banana is below—just look at it!).

Pretty much everyone who knows me knows how much I love cheese. Likely I’ve spoken of it here before, my deep-rooted adoration. So you’ll understand how much I enjoyed Jeff Gordiner’s article in The New York Times about cheesemongers, who are producing “some of the most amusing and captivating writing in the city … in the service of cheese.” Thanks to Elizabeth Hand, who posted the link on Facebook!

Tunnel by Paul Kos


Zack Smith ad IndyWeek profiled Sylvia Toth of Chapel Hill’s Golden Age Bakery, who uses 1940s comics images as cookie decorations (via). I can tell you from personal experience Toth’s cookies are both beautiful and delicious; I was a backer for her Kickstarter campaign and my reward was four of her comic-book-panel cookies (which feature Fletcher Hanks images). That reminds me: I need to order some more cookies!

Turn the Page.

Wondering what to read today? Tonight? Tomorrow? Til Tuesday? Here are some fictions in all their finery:

Edward & Amelia vs. The Vampire King, Chapter Eleven: The Springhouse by Russell Hinson

What to Expect when You’re Expecting an Alien Parasite by Rebecca Adams Wright at Daily Science Fiction

Shadow Ops: Fortress Frontier (excerpt) by Myke Cole at

Beyond the Gate by Terr Light at Daily Science Fiction

Flax-golden tales: Perfect Pairs by Erin Morgenstern

Perfect Pairs, photo by Carey Farrell

Little Red Robin Hood by Melissa Mead at Daily Science Fiction

Stepping Stone and The Love Machine (excerpt) by Walter Mosley at

The Exterminator by Erik B. Scott at Daily Science Fiction

The Last Hour of the Bengal Tiger by Yoko Ogawa, translated by Stephen Snyder, at Weird Fiction Review. My friend Adam wrote a review of Ogawa’s collection, Revenge: Eleven Dark Tales, that convinced me to buy it. Check it out!

The mMod by Ken Liu at Daily Science Fiction

Want some neat nonfictions instead? Check out my friend Will Ludwigsen’s thoughts on “the so-called ‘paranormal'” from the old In Search Of series, like Jim Jones, Drunken Dumbasses, Michael Rockefeller, and Astrology!

She Blinded Me … with Science!

Astronomy: An art historian reflects on the beauty and significance of Hubble telescope imagery; The most distant object in our solar system is actually the second red planet, Sedna (students in my Fairy Tales class last spring may remember the story of Sedna).

Biology: You just don’t understand sexual cannibalism.

Evolution: Which Came First: The Chicken or the Egg?

Meterology: This long exposure shot by Amery Carlson makes a lightning storm look downright apocalyptic. Or just really, really cool.

Ventura, California, by Amery Carlson

Neurosciene: What it’s like to have a grand mal seizure (via).

Optical illustions: A new theory on why the moon looks bigger on the horizon.

Ornithology: My friend Alicia shared Ron Jones’ picture of a red-bellied woodpecker on Facebook and I thought it was too dear not to share (look at how the red berries match the woodpecker’s head!):

Red-Bellied Woodpecker by Ron Jones

Physics: Immovable Object vs. Unstoppable Force—Which Wins?

Psychology: Think you can multitask? Congratulations, you’re probably living a lie.

Sexology: Do men really have higher sex drives than women?

Zoology: Tigers brutally maul snowmen and look adorable in the process (makes you wonder what Hobbes was thinking….).

The Ninth Art.

People, I’ve got to tell you I am super-excited about this news: a Doctor Strange movie is in the works! In an interview with MTV News, Marvel president Kevin Feige said,

Doctor Strange, which I’ve been talking about for years, is definitely one of them,” he confirmed. “He’s a great, original character, and he checks the box off this criteria that I have: he’s totally different from anything else we have, just like Guardians of the Galaxy. He’s totally different from anything we’ve done before, as is Ant-Man, which keeps us excited.”


I love L. Jamal Walton‘s take on Eternity at The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe REDUXE Edition:

Eternity by L Jamal Walton


What do comic books teach us about gender attitudes?

DC Women Kicking Ass shared a link that made me happy: “PBS has been running a series on the Pioneers of Television and this week will focus on superheroes. Along with Batman and Superman they focus on Wonder Woman, the ABC series from 1970s. Ahead of the show, they have posted a wonderful video of Lynda Carter discussing the impact that Wonder Woman has on both women and men. It’s quite lovely and you should give it a watch. Agreed!

Check out an excerpt from Paul Pope’s new graphic novel, Battling Boy.

Over at The Beat, artist Will Sliney profiles Valkyrie of The Fearless Defenders. Interesting insight into how Sliney designed Valkyrie’s new look.

Tim Callahan continues The Sandman Reread with The Doll’s House.

I enjoyed Stephen Sonneveld’s appreciation of Alan Moore, one to three.

Comic books are related to high levels of learning, with superior recognition. Damn straight.

Warren Ellis talks about (some of) his favorite Transmetropolitan covers. I never read Transmetropolitan, but I always admired the cover art. My favorite of Ellis’s favorites is Darick Robertson’s cover for issue 9. “Pure joy,” as Ellis says.

The Writing Desk.

Chuck Wendig with 25 hard truths about writing and publishing.

Anne Enright on the Irish short story (a great read).

The Author, in 7 (8, this time) Questions: Michael Beeman.

Writers and Depression: An Interview with Psychotherapist and Author, Philip Kenney. Despite the broad title, which suggests something every writer knows anyway, the interview’s pretty interesting in terms of strategies for handling depression, fear, and anxiety. I also liked this bit:

[Writers] are precious. I think you are the organ of sensitivity for society, which is primarily thinking only of survival and progress. Because you are that receptor of all that is denied and unwanted, of all that is beautiful and sacred, you are so vulnerable to taking on a multitude of feelings and sensations that can overwhelm the psyche of the best of us.

Writers and depression is always on my mind, but particularly so this week when I read a heart-wrenching blog post by my friend Angela Still about her depression, which she calls the black dog (such an apt description, one I know well) and then another post by Theodora Goss, who writes about her own depression, described as going to the Shadowlands, another spot-on description. Reading posts like these does help.

And here’s Theodora Goss on the unsafe life of the writer (or any artist, I suspect).

Aaron Hamburger, one of my MFA professors, writes about Outlining in Reverse. Lots of practical information there. Kind of related but still cool: Storybird “reverse-engineering’ pictures books for social storytelling.

Cathy Day talks about outlining and the writing process in The Agony and Ecstasy of Making Things Up. I loved so much about this post, particularly the photo of her index cards for her new novel.

Elizabeth Spann Craig on characters who surprise us and blogging for writers. She also has a time-saving tip when writing a series (a very good tip).

9 modern tools every writer should use. Or at least read about.

Myke Cole on Rooting for the Bad Guy. Book trailer for his new novel is below.

Susan Steinberg asks, What happened to experimental writing? A really well done piece.

Bringing the lie to life: what your frist two pages can tell you.

Damien Walter says piracy is yesterday’s worry for today’s “artisan authors.”

The best shots fired in the Oxford comma wars was a good read, but I had to take umbrage with one of the examples used against the Oxford comma. Here’s the example and its explanation:

Con: “Those at the ceremony were the commodore, the fleet captain, the donor of the cup, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Jones.”

This example from the 1934 style book of the New York Herald Tribune shows how a comma before “and” can result in a lack of clarity. With the comma, it reads as if Mr. Smith was the donor of the cup, which he was not.

But, clearly, if the writer of that sentence had intended Mr. Smith to be read as the donor of the cup, s/he would have punctuated the sentence properly for clarity’s sake: “Those at the ceremony were the commodore; the fleet captain; the donor of the cup, Mr. Smith; and Mr. Jones.” If an item in a series includes a comma, the list of items are separated by semi-colons.

Speaking of things that riled me up, Alexandra Petri at The Washington Post asks, post inauguration and post-inauguration poem, Is poetry dead? And then proceeded to write an article that was, well, let’s say off putting. And that’s me being super nice with my best Southern gentleman grace, y’all. Thank William Carlos Williams in heaven that Emily Temple at Flavorwire responded quickly with 10 reasons Poetry’s not dead (the very model of an elegant response).

A Month of Letters

Edmund Hillary reads his mail after coming back down from the summit of Everest.

February and the Month of Letters challenge is almost upon us. Here’s Mary Robinette Kowal’s 2013 invitation. If you’d like me to send you something in the mail next month, please message me your address. And you don’t have to reciprocate! Just enjoy finding something that isn’t a bill in your mailbox. Unless you want me to send you a bill? I don’t judge.

If you’d like to write letters but don’t feel you’ll have anything to say, you’re in luck. At Kevin Sharkey’s Home Design blog, I found out about Harper Bazaar‘s editor-at-large Derek Blasberg’s Handwritten Letter Helpers, which is described as

helpful, ready-to-go notes to send heartfelt correspondence to all your loved ones. With fill-in-the-blank and multiple choice options, letter writing has never been easier. Or more fun! [The Complete Correspondence Kit includes] 8 fill-in-the-blank letters (True Love, Thinking of You, Happy Anniversary, Happy Birthday, Thank You, Let’s Celebrate, Congratulations, It’s Baby Time) | 8 envelopes.

Ha! Such a fun idea. Handwritten Letter Helper has two more specific sets, The World’s Easiest Thank You Notes and The Happy Holiday Set. Below is an example from The Complete Correspondence Kit.

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