A sampling of what I’ve been digging into lately.
- Remember Choose Your Own Adventure books? Remember how those Fighting Fantasy books by Steve Jackson & Ian Livingstone added die rolls and character information to that paradigm? Now imagine reading one and not having to flip from one page to another. Imagine one that takes advantage of all the possibilities of ebooks. Is this new version of Dave Morris’ classic Heart of Ice what you imagined? (I haven’t read it yet, but it’s getting rave reviews, and I plan on checking it out.)
- R.H. Kanakia presents: a Taxonomy of Readers. I’m not sure I fit any of these categories… I feel like a bit of a platypus by these terms, but then, that’s cool. I like being more of a moving target. (Hat tip to Justin Howe for the link.)
- The more I look at figures from the early 20th century, the more incestuous that world looks. I just ran across a mention of writer, 1920s anti-racist activist, and 1930s anti-Fascist, Nancy Cunard, and in response to my query, Wikipedia disgorged such strange contents, almost worthy of a story of her own (like the one I’ve written, but not yet published, featuring Moura Budberg):
Nancy Clara Cunard (10 March 1896 – 17 March 1965) was a writer, heiress and political activist. She was born into the British upper class and devoted much of her life to fighting racism and fascism. She became a muse to some of the 20th century’s most distinguished writers and artists, including Wyndham Lewis, Aldous Huxley, Tristan Tzara, Ezra Pound and Louis Aragon, who were among her lovers, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Constantin Brâncuși, Langston Hughes, Man Ray, and William Carlos Williams. MI5 documents reveal that she was involved with Indian socialist leader VK Krishna Menon. In later years, she suffered from mental illness, and her physical health deteriorated. She died at age 69, weighing only 26 kilos (57 pounds), in the Hôpital Cochin, Paris.
In 1928 (after a two-year affair with Louis Aragon) she began a relationship with Henry Crowder, an African-American jazz musician who was working in Paris. She became an activist in matters concerning racial politics and civil rights in the USA, and visited Harlem. In 1931 she published the pamphlet Black Man and White Ladyship, an attack on racist attitudes as exemplified by Cunard’s mother, whom she quoted as saying “Is it true that my daughter knows a Negro?” She also edited the massive Negro Anthology, collecting poetry, fiction, and nonfiction primarily by African-American writers, including Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston. It also included writing by George Padmore and Cunard’s own account of the Scottsboro Boys case. Press attention to this project in May 1932, two years before it was published, led to Cunard’s receiving anonymous threats and hate mail, some of which she published in the book, expressing regret that “[others] are obscene, so this portion of American culture cannot be made public.”
- An interesting essay by Joanna Wargen: “All Eyes are on the City: Arthur Machen’s Ethnographic Vision of London” from the Literary London website.
- Another interesting link I can attribute (indirectly) to Justin Howe: a discussion of Joseph Mitchell, a 1940s writer for the New Yorker who discussed outsider types.
- “These are evil skeleton fairies. It’s their world, so every piece is related to them in some way. In this piece, they’re constructing a skullship, from this sheep’s skull, so they’re gathering bones and attaching insects.” Tessa Farmer & Amon Tobin’s Control Over Nature. Video below, with a link to Amon Tobin’s accompanying music, and you can read (and see) more here. Weird stuff. I have a feeling somehow that Jeremy Tolbert would enjoy this.
- I think that some of the points in this post about Jim Henson’s reconciliation of art and capitalism are a little bit off, but it’s an interesting read, like many things on the Brainpickings site, and it engages with one of the issues I’m thinking about now: the balance between commercial viability and artistic integrity in literature, a concern of mine since I’m trying to write a couple of novels here.
- My wife’s film zombie short “Environmental Pressures and Species Adaptation” will be playing at the Zompire festival in Portland early next month. But check this out: the trailer for “Dead Banging,” another film playing at the same festival. Boy, Japanese indie films, I tell you:
- A disturbing, inspired adaptation of Arthur Machen’s “The White People” (almost certainly inspired by Run Wrake’s work, as noted by Marc Laidlaw):
- I’ve been exploring the music notation software Musescore , which is the freeware competitor for the good old unwieldy Finale. (If you’re a musician who’s ever had to do notation on a computer, you know Finale in all its head-scratching, terrifying glory.) So far, Musescore doesn’t seem to be missing much, though I do wish that when I copied and pasted complete measures, that articulations and dynamics and stuff like that would copy and paste too. Still, it makes up for the things that are lacking in usability. Everytime I return to finale, I always find my attempt to notating something going down in flames sooner or later: it’s just too complicated to master quickly. Musescore, on the other hand, is pretty easy. Highly recommended, at least for a tryout.
- I was troubled after taking a week off from my saxophone, until I picked up the horn again and started playing. What do you know? I was about three times more self-aware than usual, listening more clearly, and playing better. Probably part of it is the perspective that comes with time off, and probably part of it was that I kept on practicing in my head. Not something you will necessarily want to make a habit, but… well, here’s a good post on mental practice in music, and its benefits. I think, just like focused practice, it can be a great tool.
- Probably everyone interested in RPGs knew about the OSR (Old School Renaissance) gaming movement but me. (Grognardia is probably the most popular OSR blogger, and gives a better idea of the movement than the summaries I’ve seen.) I’ve been away from gaming a long time. But I find this whole remixing of D&D Basic idea interesting, and likely to allow for the kind of storytelling I was talking about in a recent post “On Enigma,” about “remystifying the unknown.” Goblinoid Games’ Labyrinth Lord is a popular example.
- Humble Indie Bundle 9 is still available for three more days. I got myself one, and messed around with Trine 2. The gamepad controls are basically broken, for MacOSX at least, but once you get used to the keyboard, it’s a fun game… and some of the others look good too: