Magpie Monday

Here’s what shiny that caught my eye last week:

A Month of Letters.

In just a few days, February will close and the 2013 Month of Letters Challenge will end. I’ve been very good, mailing something every day the mail runs, even if I did not diversify my recipients as much as I perhaps should have. I even received a few letters, which was quite a delight. For the last two days of the month, I want to write letters rather than postcards, so wish me luck in scraping out some time to compose some proper missives!

Are you familiar with Mail Me Art? I remember reading about it a few years ago, but the third round (“Short and Sweet”) just started, as I read on Chet Phillips’ blog. Here’s a description from the MMA website:

Mail Me Art is a fun little project that was created by Darren Di Lieto of The Little Chimp Society in late 2006. He was looking for a way to connect on a real world level with all of the brilliant and talented illustrators who had become part of his community and network. Mail Art was the perfect way to accomplish this task. The Mail Me Art project has held exhibitions up and down the UK, and was published as very nice book by HOW Books. It has also been featured or mentioned by Digital Arts, Computer Arts, Design Week and The Telegraph over the years. Mail Me Art is still going strong to this day and there seems to be no stopping it!

Here are two fine examples by Garry Milne and Dan May (I particularly love the address on May’s envelope, which is on the right):

And here’s Chet Phillips’ piece for this round of the MMA:

If you like the idea of receiving story-letters in the post, you might be interested in Sylvia Linsteadt’s The Gray Fox Epistles project:

 The Gray Fox Epistles is my story-via-letter project launched on Imbolc, February 2nd, 2013, in honor of all the newly stirring seeds, sap and milk of the wild world. Subscribers will receive one of my original tales every month, in their physical mailbox, printed, packaged and wax sealed beautifully and with scraps of woodland leaf or feather included. All stories will be at least 2,000 words in length, and previously unpublished.

They will all be retellings of deep old myths and fairytales, the kinds that have passed on through centuries, through many different wild landscapes. These retellings will be re-rooted in the wilds that I know– redwood forest, tule marsh, northern coastal scrub. They will be walks into the mythscapes & landscapes of the soul, and also very tangibly and vividly rooted in the wild cycles that I am always learning here, on the edge of the central coast of California, a state named for the legendary Amazon queen Calafia and her island of wild women and gold.

It is up to you to root these tales in your own heart and place. They have paws. They leave trails. Go, take them outside with you, see where they will lead you.


Turn the Page.

You’re in for a treat, folks. As you may remember, my friend Will Ludwigsen has a short-story collection, In Search Of and Others, coming out next month. You can read one of the stories, “Remembrance Is Something Like a House,” over at Weird Fiction Review. I love this story for a number of reasons, one being that this is the very first Will Ludwigsen story I ever read–he submitted it for the first workshop we shared together at Stonecoast, and I thought it was pretty much perfect then. To add to that, my friend Adam Mills interviewed Will for WFR, which you should also check out, and another friend, Zachary Jernigan, interviewed Will in 7 questions. And over at his own blog, Will wrote about ghosts, his “favorite paranormal phenomenon.”

Also over at WFR, Desirina Bokovich profiled another one of my favorite writers, Caitlín R. Kiernan, over there.

My friend Paul Kirsch gives great review to Zachary Jernigan‘s impending debut novel, No Return. Why haven’t you bought your copy already?

Some wonderful wafer-thin delights to feed to your hungry eye-mouths:

Stories at Daily Science Fiction: For the People by Ronald D. Ferguson, The Needs of Hollow Men by K.A. Rundell, A Hairy Predicament by Melissa Mead, Maps by Beth Cato, and Five Minutes by Conor Powers-Smith.

Story at Fiddleblack: Hideous Interview with Brief Man by Nick Mamatas.

Stories at The Water that Falls on You from Nowhere by John Chu.

Novel excerpts at Written in Red by Anne Bishop, The Shape Stealer by Lee Carroll, The Art of Wishing by Lindsay Ribar, The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett, A Cactus Garden by Jo Bannister, Midnight Blue-Light Special by Seanan McGuire, and The Afrika Reich by Guy Saville.

Novel excerpt at io9: Wolfhound Century by Peter Higgins.

Flax-golden tales: Three Small Deaths on the Back Gate by Erin Morgenstern.

Poetry at Flavorwire: 12 beautiful poems for book lovers.

If you’re a socialist looking for some speculative fiction to read, check out China Miéville’s list of 50 Sci-Fi and Fantasy works every socialist should read (via).

Jo Walton asks (and answers), What’s Reading For?

Neil Gaiman completed A Calendar of Tales (a short piece for each month of the year, inspired by tweets from fans, and all the stories are quite fine) and you can download a free pdf of all the stories at BlackBerry. You can also listen to Gaiman reading the tales at SoundCloud. And now he’s looking for art (more information at the link above). Here’s the accompanying video for the second part of the project:

Poet Shane Koyczan‘s “To This Day” is a beautiful, heart-wrenching, spoken-word poem and the center of the To This Day Project, which “explore[s] the profound and lasting impact that bullying can have on an individual.” The video is a collaboration of over eighty animators and musicians. Many thanks to Cameron, who posted this video on his blog.

The Ninth Art.

I had a good laugh at this Wondermark cartoon by David Malki !

Warren Ellis has started “a daily single-panel strip” on his website with Jason Howard titled Scatterlands, “A largely improvised comic strip that will run here Mondays to Fridays, one panel a day….  Just a bit of fun, as they say.” And it has been fun! The first panel is below, and here are the links for the second, third, fourth, and fifth.

If you can’t stop thinking about the current state of the CW’s Wonder Woman show, you’ll appreciate these two articles: 5 Ways Looking at Comics Can Help the CW’s Amazon and Will Wonder Woman Finally Make Her TV Comeback?

I remember the first appearances of both the first heroic Doctor Light (Kimiyo Hoshi) and the second Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau) in the 1980s, so this mash-up from Super-Team Family was a real delight for me:

And I couldn’t resist sharing another of Super-Team Family’s mash-ups: Zatanna and Doctor Strange (Zatanna being one of top five favorite DC magicians and Doctor Strange being, of course, Doctor Strange):

Go read this piece over at Comics Alliance: Mutant Women of Earth: How Chris Claremont Reinvented the Female Superhero. A great read! Via.

Really fantastic piece by Alyson Macdonald on Young Avengers #1: Sex and the Female Gaze.

Oh, A Softer World, I get you.

Tim Callahan continues The Sandman Reread with Fables and Reflections.

A really fine interview with Gabriel Rodriguez, illustrator of the sublime Locke and Key (via).

xkcd just tickles me.

The Book Nook.

Check out Veronica’s one-of-a-kind mandala bookshelf from Apartment Thearpy. Says Veronica from Venezuela, “My apartment is quite small and I am lawyer so I have to read a lot. I really enjoy it,and didn’t want to have the typical 50 inch tv on my living room wall… I needed a library but it had to be different, so I made one inspired by a mandala. I think the carpenter did a great job, exactly what I designed!” This is one beautiful bookshelf! Via.

Veronica’s one-of-a-kind mandala bookshelf

If you love pop-up books like I do, you’ll be charmed by Revolution (Life Cycle of a Drop of Water)—a film by Chris Turner, Helen Friel, and Jess Deacon–which “depicts the revolutionary nature of the life cycle of a droplet of water and its cyclical journey.” Via.

I love this picture from Book Lovers Never Go to Bed Alone, a blog I just found:

Check out these 20 bookish murals from around the world—how wonderful it would be to live in a city with one of these! I really dig the book stairs below:

I totally know how this kind of thing happens:

Someone’s in the Kitchen….

Check out this little lovely: a Serenity cake accompanied by cupcake heads of the entire crew! Pink Bunny‘s attention to detail is a delight (like Jayne’s hat or Mal’s hair curl), and the best part is that the cake lights up (click through to That’s Nerdalicious to see). Via.

Pink Bunny’s Serenity cake

File under What the fudge? Ham and Bananas Hollandaise.

How red velvet cake got its name is an interesting read if, like me, you’re in love with red velvet cake. 3, 2, 1. Yep, now I want some red velvet cake.

Here is where I would stuff my face….

Cheeky paintings by Ben Frost of pop culture icons on junk food packaging, like this acrylic of Astro Boy on a Corn Pops package:

What You Made Me by Ben Frost (2013)

Viewers’ Paradise.

Watch The Simpsons’ Oscar-nominated short filmMaggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare” (a wordless piece directed by David Silverman and scored by Hans Zimmer). Apologies the lack of an embedded clip, which hasn’t found its way onto youtube yet. The link above, however, has a watchable clip.

If you’re not sure you like anime, or if you think you don’t like it, check out Flavorwire’s list of anime films for people who hate anime.

The strange, secret evolution of Babylon 5 (I really need to rewatch that series….).

Angela Taratuta took several random screencaps from the “A Scandal in Belgravia” episode of the BBC’s Sherlock and then redrew them as cartoons. These made me smile, and I thought the Sherlockets—did I just make that up, or is it a thing?—who read the blog might enjoy them (one of my favorites is below, but check out the link above for more). Via.

Image by Angela Taratuta

TV critics explain what Nielsen’s new streaming ratings mean for our favorite shows.

Courtesy of the Film Doctor, From Shawshank to Skyfall, How Master Cinematographer Roger Deakins Got These Ten Shots, including the one below from Barton Fink.

This was fun: 5 real TV shows that feature great fake TV shows (via).

Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart sounds like my kind of movie, adapted by Mathias Malzieu from his novel, which sounds like my kind of book, and all I really know about it is the name and the image below, which you should click to embiggen (via). Okay, that’s not entirely true: I did do some research. In the novel, Jack is born on the coldest day ever, and his heart is frozen. He is saved by Dr. Madeleine, who places in his chest a cuckoo clock but warns him he must avoid strong emotion lest he die, and certainly he must never fall in love. But what happens when he does?

The Writing Desk.

John Yeoman on five ways to handle stuff and other nonsense: the naive stranger, the helpful gossip, the “official” tour guide, the chance remark, and action.

Adam Rifkin on Tumblr compared with Facebook and blogging (via).

Cathy Day’s Literary Citizenship blog has some great tips on how to talk to writers: “A key principle of literary citizenship is that writers should build their community and expand their circles. Not ‘network.’ Not ‘schmooze.’

Seven tips from Ernest Hemingway on how to write fiction (via).

Chuck Wendig tells us how to read like a writer.

Ask the Agent has a guide to word counts for novels (a good thing to know).

Rachelle Gardner on building a platform versus promoting a book. Related: Warren Ellis on download wristbands, or: how to give books away at parties (pretty cool for the tech-minded).

Aaron Hamburger offers infatuation: an exercise to build character. answers your publishing questions.

My friends Erin Underwood and Hannah Strom-Martin describe the Big Idea behind their new anthology, Futuredaze.

Elizabeth Hand and Ian Withrow both shared to this article on Facebook, and I think you’ll agree that the Helsinki Bus Station Theory will change your life (“The theory claims the secret to a creatively fulfilling career lies in understanding the operations of Helsinki’s main bus station“).

Elizabeth Spann Craig on writing as a worthwhile struggle.

Notes from the Drunken Editor: how to fail and why you should keep failing.

A brief history of the typewriter.

This piece by Nancy Fouts makes me want to write something (via):

Image by Nancy Fouts

She Blinded Me … with Science!

Astronomy: Jupiter’s moon Europa may be the best place to search for life.

Entomology: Fruit flies bathe their young in alcohol to keep them healthy.

Futurism: Temporary tattoos could make electronic telepathy and telekinesis possible.

Oncology: Magical Realism: From Seizure to Surgery (via).

Parasitology: Your cat is literally making you crazy (people will still ooh and ahh at the pictures in the link, though).

Physics: An “alternative universe” will eventually destroy ours, says Higgs researcher; Marriage proposal in the form of a physics paper; What is the Universe? by Minute Physics.

Psychology: How to instill false memories (via); An illustrated guide to recognizing insane people from 1883.

The Horns of Elfland.

My friend Cameron Cook shared the link to this video on Facebook, and I wanted to share it with you. Diva Plavalaguna’s aria (and intercut Leeloo vs. Mangalores fight) is my favorite scene from The Fifth Element, and Laura’s cover of the aria is pretty amazing.

I’m a big fan of Terri Windling’s Tunes for a Monday Morning series on her blog (and a big fan of Terri Windling’s in general), and I wanted to share one of the pieces she posted about last week, “Walk” by Ludovico Einaudi, an Italian pianist. I also recommend clicking through the link to watch the other Einaudi videos, which are equally fine.

Smilla’s Sense of Snow.

Some exquisite shots of snowflakes by Nick Loven at Boing Boing, including the one below:

A Snowflake by Nick Loven

Some Secret History: Winston Chuchill’s plan to fight Nazis with massive aircraft carriers made from ice.

Some crows have fun in the snow! Via.

A Brief Blog Vacation.

The blog will be quiet for the next couple weeks: I’ll be in Paris and won’t be able to scour the interwebs for interesting tidbits. Yes, I know, a trip to Paris, woe is me. Take care of yourselves while I’m away.

Via Francesca Ramos:

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