Magpie Monday

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

The Art of Spring and Mythic March.

Spring officially hit the calendars last week, but I think many people would consider that idea  a bit ludicrous, given how cold it’s been recently. Me, I’m only happy when it rains, so the resurgence of rain and wind and cold temperatures doesn’t bother me. Still, in deference to those who need a bit more sun and warmth, I offer to you Irene Gallo’s re-post of Picturing Spring: An Equinox Celebration at Even if Spring is only my third favorite season (sometimes tied for second with Autumn), I love much of the artwork Gallo shares in that post, like J.C. Leyendecker’s ode to spring:

To put some more spring in your step, check out some other art I ran across last week, like Cecelia Paredes’s ornate camouflage wallpaper portraits. I love the attention to detail.

Cecilia Paredes

Or how about Mark Abouzeid’s re-imagined Renaissance portraits as realistic photos?

Mark Abouzeid

I’d neglected last week to mention Mythic March, an idea conceived by Grace of Domythic Bliss (who also writes a couple of my other favorite blogs, The Beautiful Necessity about “all things Pre-Raphaelite and Arts & Crafts,” and Catty-Corner Cottage, where she shares how she and her husband “paint up, fix, decorate, and otherwise learn how to be first time home owners”) and Lisa Stock who created the InByTheEye film company (her short films are really lovely). As Grace says,

The goal of [Mythic March] is to CREATE. Originally inspired by National Novel Writing Month, an event that encourages people to write the novel they always meant to every November, my friend Lisa Stock and I decided to try doing something similar in March, only with a twist.

My goal will be to write 30,000 words, and I might make that goal or I might not. But the point is, I’m going to try to CREATE this month … consciously set aside time each day to engage in the act of creation. And beyond that, my goal is to create in the genre of myth and imagination … to celebrate the community of Mythic Arts we so adore.

You can read more about Mythic March as a concept here at Domythic Bliss. At that blog, Grace has chosen Mondays as times for readers (and herself) to share what they’ve been making. You can catch up on March 4th, March 11th, and March 18th (today’s post comes out after I’ve put Magpie Monday to bed, I’m afraid). If you click on only one link, try March 18th, which features lots of projects. Like NaNoWriMo, I think Mythic March is a grand idea.


Check out the new website CultureMass, whose editor-in-chief is my friend Cameron Cook. Here’s the skinny:

CultureMass is a publication founded by talented writers who are profoundly interested in entertainment, culture, and the many ways that they intersect. We’re from all over the world, and we are connected only by our need to make sense of everything.

If you love Film, TV, Games, Science, or Literature [also Music, Graphic Novels, etc.], you’ll find something here that you like.

CultureMass has been created with one goal in mind: Discuss, review, and dissect popular culture constructively and creatively. We’re not out to write bad reviews. We’re not trying to impress our readers with our insults and barbs.

If we don’t like something, we show empathy. If we love something, we tell you why. That doesn’t mean everything here is positive, but that we will never bully, insult, or alienate those who are making their living producing creative work.

If any of this sounds like something you’d like to be a part of, then you’d better get comfortable. You may be here awhile.

Several of my former or current students are writing for CultureMass, like Thomas Dempsey (music editor), Daniel Dye (TV editor), Caroline Whitney (columnist), and David Mruz (columnist). My colleague Terry Barr is also writing music reviews. Check it out!

Viewers’ Paradise.

Super Punch, another favorite blog of mine, posted this clip from the great but too-early-canceled Carnivale, the entire run of which I watched recently (you may remember). If you can watch this scene and not wish that you had watched the entire series (because, oh boy, does this scene kill it), maybe we can’t be friends.

Speaking of dream sequences, check out the A.V. Club’s “What a Nightmare!”: 21 TV Episodes that Do Dream Sequences Right (including the one above). Some really great dreams. Via.

Gates McFadden keeps one of the most delightful tumblrs ever for the Ensemble Studio Theatre of Los Angeles where she’s the artistic director: she posts photographs of a 1/8 size Dr. Beverly Crusher action figure (the character, of course, McFadden played on Star Trek: The Next Generation) having all kinds of adventures. Here’s a sample but do click the link above for more. Via.

Downton Zombey is the inevitable mash-up of Downton Abbey and, well, zombies. It’s a fun little piece but it is full of spoilers for season 3 (which I haven’t seen yet, but I already know the big spoilers). Via.

The 12 best non-U.S. sitcoms of the past 30 years. I can certain attest to the hilarity of Absolutely Fabulous, The Office, The League of Gentlemen, and The Young Ones. But no love for That Mitchell and Webb Look?

Oh my goodness, I really want to see Top of the Lake, a mini-series co-written by Jane Campion. Go read this Flavorwire article about the show and see if you don’t want to watch it, too!

Elisabeth Moss in Top of the Lake has a good article about Lynne Ramsay, and Why We Need to Talk about How We Talk about Female Directors. Via.

The greatest fantasy films you haven’t seen. I’ve seen The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec, and I want to see several more films on the list.

I can’t help it: this teaser trailer for Riddick gave me a rush.

Not, perhaps, as much of a rush as seeing the trailer for Hummingbird, a new Jason Statham movie, though:

The Writing Desk.

Several folks wrote about the writing life this week, or making a living as writer: Rachelle Gardner has two posts about making a living as a writer, part 1 and part 2. My former mentor James Patrick Kelly lays out SF Economics 101 (definitely read this post).

Zachary Jernigan has 7 questions for author Evan Dicken.

From Flavorwire: 10 illuminating fan letters from famous authors to famous authors (some are terribly charming) and Former students’ recollections of classes taught by famous authors (including a reminiscence of Allen Ginsberg by the poet Lesléa Newman, from whom I took a class or two at my MFA program).

Chuck Wendig shares 25 turns, pivots, and twists to complicate your story. I also really liked his post Do Not Misunderstand Kickstarter.

From LitReactor: 6 strategies to make your writing schedule sacred (something I need to work on) and New Yorker rejects its own previously published short story (I don’t think this experiment actually proves anything other than editorial tastes change, but I found the piece amusing).

Junot Díaz wins the world’s richest short story prize. He says in the article, “For me it’s a remarkable thing that there is a prize celebrating and honouring and making for a brief moment short fiction the centre of the literary universe. We get so many people saying short fiction is not economical, that it doesn’t sell; but there are so many of us enjoying writing it and reading it.” Hear, hear.

Washington Post‘s Outlook section avoids these words and phrases. Via.

Cathy Day on My students, my friends. I look forward to writing introductions about my own students.

Thanks to Kevin St. Jarre for posting on Facebook the link to Straight Through the Heart by Dean Bakopoulos. My approach to teaching literature is pretty much the same as his: I teach only works that I’m excited by or passionate about (except, of course, when I use an annual anthology, like Best American Short Stories, where I never know what I’m going to like or dislike).

Someone’s in the Kitchen….

Make your own Easter basket treats, like Peeps, Cadbury Creme Eggs, chocolate bunnies, whoppers, and Pop Rocks (wait—who puts Pop Rocks in Easter baskets?).

I was really taken by SDPHOTO’s photograph of fruits I discovered on the Mothtales tumblr. The colors are so perfect! Check out SDPHOTO for more wonderful food photography.


This animal-skull wedding cake by Annabel de Vetten (the skulls were sculpted from white chocolate) really drives home “‘Til Death Do Us Part,” no? Still, I’d eat the hell out of that cake (surely it’s red velvet?).

Annabel de Vetten

How to bake an anatomical heart-bread.

The cuteness, the cuteness! Making Cake by CDTcrew is, like, the most adorable food video ever. Well, except for this kid, who defies all laws of physics in his adorability. Via.

She Blinded Me … with Science!

Communication studies: The man who tried to invent a telegraph made out of telepathic snails.

Health: How drinking caffeine could save your life.

Neuroscience: Is there such a thing as photographic memory?

Ornithology: The science of swarming starlings will blow your mind.

Poultry science: I’ve never had fresh eggs—I mean, like straight from the chicken. I’m curious. If I ever have a little cottage in the woods, I might like to keep a couple of chickens to have eggs that fresh, and I might want to keep them in one of these 11 snazzy chicken coops for backyard poultry farmers.

Productivity: The Science of Productivity video came out in December but I just came across it recently. Good food for thought.

Psychology: Vladimir Nabokov talks synesthesia.

Somnology: Should you use the SNOOZE button? I have to admit that I hit the SNOOZE a lot in the morning, even though I know from experience doing so doesn’t make me feel any better. Now I know why!

Thanatology: Here are all the ways we died in the 20th century.

Zoology: Why don’t big dogs live as long as small dogs?; Scientists find 8 impossibly adorable new frogs in a single Sri Lankan forest; Dig the horns on these Hebridean sheep.

The Horns of Elfland.

Has Justin Timberlake become the male Lana Del Rey? is an interesting article about the “multi-era mishmash aesthetic” that’s been popular lately. I like Timberlake’s earlier solo work, but I like his new single “Suit & Tie” (except for the prologue, which I find kind of baffling—what does “shit tie” mean? If anyone has an answer, let me know!), although I still think he’s channeling Robin Thicke here.

Check out these incredible infographics from Pop Chart Lab, Beatles fans. Below is Volume 1: 1963-1965 (click to embiggen).

Turn the Page.

An awesome person reading: Queen Latifah, whose birthday was last Monday!

Peter Damien talks about the importance of endings at BookRiot, touching on Joe Hill’s sublime Locke & Key, Terry Pratchett, comic books, television, and the divine Erin Morgenstern. A fun, quick read.

Check out the complete Ariadne and the Science, an illustrated story by Warren Ellis and Molly Crabapple. Below is one of the illustrations, to whet your appetite.

Molly Crabapple

Gorge yourself on these gorgeously filling fictions:

From The Guardian UK: Down to a Sunless Sea by Neil Gaiman (“A rainy encounter in London on the banks of the Thames unlocks a tale of loss and grief”)

Flax-golden tales: Strange Tides by Erin Morgenstern

From Daily Science Fiction: Neighbours by Rob Butler, Linger by Ken Liu, Subject AT-171 by Melissa Mead, Jimmy Smith Has a Dinosaur by Gregg Chamberlain, and Pythian Games by Tom Doyle

From Weird Fiction Review: Selections from Nervous Tales by Carlos Díaz Dufoo (1861-1941), translated by Michael Cisco, who also wrote an introduction to Dufoo

From io9: Gods and Monsters: Unclean Spirits (excerpt) by Chuck Wendig

From, novel excerpts: The World of the End by Ofir Touché Gafla, The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu, Furious by Jill Wolfson (I’m all over anything with The Furies), You Know What You Have to Do by Bonnie Shimko, Stung by Bethany Wiggins, Protector by CJ Cherryh, and The Grail of the Summer Stars by Freda Warrington

If you need a good weep—and who doesn’t?—check out these 10 books guaranteed to make you cry. I can vouch for Where the Red Fern Grows, but none of the other books on the list I’ve read made me cry.

If you’re in the mood for more short fiction (perhaps after a stroll around the park to walk off the above gorging), check our Christopher Barzak‘s short-story collection Before and Afterlives, recently released by Lethe Press. If I hadn’t already bought my own copy, I’d go out and buy one based on Barzak’s description:

Before and Afterlives collects the majority of what I think of as my best and better stories from the last decade, the first decade of my life as a publishing writer. They are mainly stories of the supernatural, or contemporary fantasies (the word fantasy writers and publishers used to use for what is often now called urban fantasy, which is a term I think is too limiting in terms of setting). But there are several speculative fiction/scifi-ish stories included in the collection as well. In many ways, it’s the kind of mixed genre collection I used to enjoy as a young reader: in one story you’ll encounter a beached mermaid who is taken in by a woman whose daughter has disappeared, in another you’ll witness a haunted house destroy the lives of several different families over a century, and in yet another you’ll come across a young man whose lover has been stolen away from him someone who just might be an alien. There’s a girl who can call ghosts to her, and a man trying to survive the end of the world. There’s a contagion that causes people to vanish, little by little, and there’s a young man who makes his living by allowing other people to kill him for a fee, and to let them witness his remarkable ability to resurrect.

The Ninth Art.

Wondermark #923; In which Anne misses Brunch just cracked me up:
Check out these previews: Sword of Sorcery (featuring Amethyst) #6 by Christy Marx, Marc Andreyko, Aaron Lopresti, and Andrei Bressan; Birds of Prey #18 by Christy Marx, Romano Molenaar, and Vicente Cifuentes; and Wonder Woman #18 by Brian Azzarello, Goran Sudzuka, Tony Akins, and Cliff Chiang. Another preview: The Titular Hero by M.K. Reed and Jonathan Hill.

Tim Callahan’s reflection on The Kindly Ones, the penultimate story arc of The Sandman, made me want to go back and reread it myself.

Oh, you lucky people: a new installment of The Secret Knots by Juan Santapau has arrived! Go check out part one of The Strange World of Martin Kardec.

Juan Santapau

You are doubly lucky because the awesome Kate Beaton also has a new cartoon up, Anne of Cleves Gables, which I just adored.

The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe REDUXE Edition had two fine new entries last week, Cloak re-imagined by Roderick Constance and Galactus as seen by Andrew Belanger. I like how Constance toned down Cloak, muting the color of his cloak and making the interior a pure black. Belanger’s Galactus made me smile—the fast food is very clever. Click the links above or the images below to see larger versions of the images.

Cloak by Roderick Constance

Galactus by Andrew Belanger

I’ve really been getting a kick out of A Softer World by Emily Horne and Joey Comeau (I recently bought a copy of Comeau’s book The Complete Lockpick Pornography, so they must be doing something right) and am enamored of their technique of dividing a single image into thirds. I enjoyed these two strips particularly last week:

10 famous novelists who have dabbled in comics.

This mash-up of Hellboy and Scooby-Doo made me happy! (Via)

Guess whose birthday is March 22nd? Wonder Woman’s! Check out some great party decor and lots of Wonder Woman cakes over at DC Women Kicking Ass (the one below might be my favorite).

Also, check out this fantastic Wonder Woman-inspired dress by TheBird-TheBee at DeviantArt. Via.

Wonder Woman dress by TheBird-TheBee

The Book Nook.

What do you do when you’re short on space but large on books? Build a book tower, of course. Click over to BookRiot to see more pictures of this “dramatic staircase [that incorporates] staggered shelves culminating [in] a top floor office space and library.”

Book tower designed by Platform 5

20 embarrassingly bad book covers for classic novels. So bad are some of these that I can’t even bring myself to share them.

I swoon, mes amis—the Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library at Harvard University is mouth-gapingly beautiful. According to Book Mania!, the library has “over 50 miles of shelves and the capacity to hold over three million volumes.”

The Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library, flagship library of Harvard University

Hubba hubba! Check out this beautiful bookcase that comes with a ladder over at Bookshelf Porn! Even more pictures at the link, so click on through.

Bespoke Oak Bookcase and Ladder near Nantyderry

♦ I saved this for the end because it’s gonna make you cry. Indeed, I defy you not to cry.

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