Spaceships for All, Warm Fuzzies for Some
I loves me some spaceship art, yes sir.
Not Meant to Last
The Prelenger Archives can be found here. Why should you care? In their own words:
Prelinger Archives was founded in 1983 by Rick Prelinger in New York City. Over the next twenty years, it grew into a collection of over 60,000 “ephemeral” (advertising, educational, industrial, and amateur) films. In 2002, the film collection was acquired by the Library of Congress, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division. Prelinger Archives remains in existence, holding approximately 4,000 titles on videotape and a smaller collection of film materials acquired subsequent to the Library of Congress transaction. Its goal remains to collect, preserve, and facilitate access to films of historic significance that haven’t been collected elsewhere. Included are films produced by and for many hundreds of important US corporations, nonprofit organizations, trade associations, community and interest groups, and educational institutions. Getty Images represents the collection for stock footage sale, and almost 2,000 key titles are available here. As a whole, the collection currently contains over 10% of the total production of ephemeral films between 1927 and 1987, and it may be the most complete and varied collection in existence of films from these poorly preserved genres.
The attractiveness of the archive isn’t just in the content, although a lot of it really is pretty cool, it’s in the way the content is presented. An amateur or non-commercial short film that is completely dedicated to its subject matter and niche audence can achieve a sort of purity that is very endearing.
If you enjoy it, check out the greater Internet Archive that contains it.
Alan Moore on His Craft
There’s a long, fantastic interview with Alan Moore here. If you don’t know who Alan Moore is, uh, I dunno. Sorry.
If you do know who he is, I’m guessing that you’ve already clicked the link and I’m now talking to myself.
We Feel Fine
We Feel Fine is an art project which scours the net for the words “I feel”, grabs the entire sentence and uses the expressed sentiment in a variety of ways. The datasets are cool, but the gallery is really where it’s at. The sentences are captioned onto the pictures associated with the posts that they were culled from. CAUTION: The gallery can be very, very not safe for work.
It interesting that inside this collection of random thoughts culled by bots, the hopeful, the inspiring, and the thoughtful far outweigh the rest. It makes me feel pretty damn good about us as a species.
“i can still sometimes feel you if the weather is just right.”
Writing Advice from Other People
If you’ve ever looked around for advice on writing, you’ve probably noticed that there are an uncountable number of books, websites, and essays on the subject. There are books by people for which their only writing credit is that very book on writing, and books by superstar authors whose advice is largely anecdotal and serves only to point out that talent is, indeed, just as mysterious as everyone thought.
There is one piece of good advice that all of them have in common. Know this, and you can happily discard 90 percent of the pile.
Write every day. Thinking about writing improves your skill in the same way that thinking about lifting weights improves your strength. Also, you don’t have to be on fire with inspiration to write, you don’t have to ‘be in the mood’, and you don’t have to have worked out every detail in advance. Writing happens when you’re writing. Things take shape and happen on the page in the process, so don’t spend all day trying to come up with it beforehand.
There you go, that’s the most important thing there is to know about writing.
Want to hear it said better? Got you covered.
That said, there are a couple of foundational books/articles/things that I would recommend. In fact, I would go so far as to say, read these, take what’s useful to you, and then go write. Stop reading things about writing for a good long time and just write.
Jim Butcher’s Structure Advice
Jim sat down, and with little to no fanfare, pomp, or circumstance, gave out for free the book and story structure that he uses for everything he writes. And he did it in simple clear terms with examples. You know why? Because he’s AWESOME.
Brian Sanderson’s Lecture on Plotting
You know the guy who finished the Wheel of Time series? Well, he just happens to have some good advice about plotting in this lecture that he gave at JordanCon in 2010. Hint: it’s pretty good.
Story by Robert McKee
The book talks a lot about screenplays, but don’t let that fool you. This is for everyone who wants to understand how stories are built, and why they work.
About Writing by Samuel R. Delany
If you could only talk to one person about the history and creation of literature as an artform, Mr. Delany would be the one.
Hollylisle.com by (duh) Holly Lisle
This site probably has more articles on writing and the writing life, with more meat in them, than any other place I know about. Maybe other places can beat Holly in quantity, but in quality AND quantity? Unlikely. More importantly, Holly is a full time writer who came up the *very* hard way. She knows of what she speaks.
Looking into getting an agent? You probably can’t do better than to ask Teresa Nielsen Hayden of Tor fame and Neil Gaiman. Read all about it here.
And finally, a quick word from Elmore Leonard.
Now get out of here, reading about writing gives you hairy palms.
Gather ’round O Men, and try to pay attention. Herein lies the secret of…The Look.
The Look cannot be given by a man. This may seem unfair, but let’s face it, we men don’t have to eject something the size of a football through an opening the size of a lemon. The granting of this power is what the Universe calls Justice.
The Look can stop a person in their tracks, stun small children into obedience, and generally turn the average male into a sock puppet. I know, I have the button eyes to prove it.
In contrast, The Eye is just like the look, but with a huge dose of Chi slathered on top of it. The Vorpal version, if you like. Not all women can give The Eye. The horrible truth is that only the most desirable, smartest, and coolest women can do it. That perfect creature you have your sights on may very well be chock full of Power, so tread lightly.
The Eye is not only more powerful than The Look, but it can be used over the phone. It may be usable over E-Mail, but I’m not eager to find out. YOU try it, and if you are able, let me know how it worked out.
Let me give you some real examples of The Eye in action:
A cable repair guy told my friend’s wife that he would be over at a certain time. Five hours later he showed up. He recieved The Eye and a verbal beating. He was in his thirties and he cried. This is a true story.
A salesman told my wife that the washing machine she just bought would be delivered in 3 days. She told him to check his stock because if he couldn’t deliver she was going elsewhere. This was a clear warning sign. He didn’t check. On the third day, there was no machine. The wife called. The Eye was given. The next day a new washer was delivered. It was three (3!) models upgraded from the one we paid for, and came with a heartfelt apology. This is also a true story.
It is your duty to pass this lore to the next man you meet. May you live happily ever after…and not get caught doing it.
Monkey Brains Love Spaceship Rumbles
Like many of you, I’m something of a stickler for accuracy when it comes to Sci-Fi. I enjoy pointing out the odd foible as I exit the theater, and I confess to many an eye-roll while reading some poorly researched foray into the average Quantum Adventure Novel.
But I recently had an epiphany, and I wanted to share it with you. You’re welcome, please send money.
For our purposes here today, I’m going to assign each of you sophisticated, jaded readers two brains. One Modern Brain, which is full of coffee and code, and one Monkey Brain who’s job it is to keep you from getting eaten. Don’t underestimate the Monkey Brain, as its job is also to get you laid. At that point, the Modern Brain can kiss my ass. But I digress.
I want you to recall, many misty moons ago, when you saw Star Wars for the first time. Remember in the very beginning, after the giant slab of InfoDump serenely moved off into the distance, how that Big Ass(tm) Star Destroyer passed overhead, rumbling like an avalanche? Do you remember the dopplered whine of the Tie Fighters zipping past the camera during the later space battles? I do, and I remember two things that happened to me at the same time.
My Modern Brain leaned over to my companion and sneered, “Sound can’t propagate in a vacuum, what were they thinking?” But at the same time my Monkey Brain was screaming, “JESUS H CHRIST! THAT THING IS FUCKING HUGE! WHY ARE WE STILL HERE? GET UP OR WE MAY WET OURSELVES!” and “DUCK! DUCK! DUCK!”.
Monkey Brains love spaceship rumbles. They don’t know about vacuums, but they know a crapload about judging the size and speed of something from the sound it makes. (The exception to this is the Cheetah, which sounds like a small kitten and is quite capable of producing monkey chiclets anyway.) And the best part is that they share this information with you whether you want them to or not. Without this bit of input, my Modern Brain, having no scaling information in the frame, would have no way to tell how huge the ship was. That majestic moment would have been lost on me completely.
Of course I was too busy sneering at the time to thank the Monkey Brain.
I went along like this for years, until the night that I was rescued by The Little Mermaid.
Some friends and relatives were all gathered together for the holidays. Someone’s children had gotten a copy of Disney’s The Little Mermaid for Christmas. There’s a large musical number in the beginning that features Sebastian the Crab singing and dancing like crazy. After his performance he stalks off to do his master’s bidding, and someone, we’ll call him Sparky, bellows out the following information:
Crabs don’t walk like that!
Silence. Heads turn. Eyes roll. Now, strictly speaking, while this is true, they don’t SING AND DANCE either. And I opened my mouth and said, “You’re missing the point!”
And as those words left my largest head orifice, I realized that I had been missing the point, and harpooning exactly this kind of thing for decades.
Alas, I suck.
The next time you find yourself about to pick that nit, just take a deep breath and let your Monkey Brain thrill to the rumble of huge spaceships as they tow that 50 zillion tons of gravel across a tin roof, or whatever the fuck it is they do that makes that noise.
Your brain, and one very talented little crab, will thank you for it.