Monday, April 30, 2007

Just forget the giant beach umbrella

I don't have the time or skill to photoshop this, so you'll just have to use the imagination God gave you: Our lovely blue planet, wearing fashion shades and a pink bikini, enjoys the cosmic beach under a giant space-based beach umbrella.

A little further out, Mars, wearing a muscle shirt but still sunburned bright red, wiggles around in his orbit to try to stay in the shade of earth's umbrella.

In the meantime Pluto and his new friends are chasing sticks into the primal deeps.

Just another fun day in the Milky Way.

But forget it. The bean counters at the UN actually found a program that they thought would be too expensive for the value to be gained from it. Fancy that. Maybe Al Gore would be willing to pay for it.

H/T: Fr. Joseph.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Quiet time at Orthodox Writers Week

We have been very, very good today. We sit in our little worlds, arrayed on couches, benches, on the beach, with our laptops, manuscripts, notebooks in hand.

Quiet, please. We are birthing. Articles, books, poetry, a more conscious life. Gloria in her headphones is encased in a sphere of music. I don't hear it. Katherine turns the pages of a loose-leaf binder. Earlier this morning, she was organizing; now her fingers dance across the keys. Behind me, Andrew sits with a laptop at the big wooden dining table. He is pensive, conversing with the muse. After a long walk at the beach, Barb emerges with notebooks and clean socks.

And I -- I have stopped 600 words into my goal of 1,000 at this sitting to tell you, O Excellent Reader, what you're missing.

Outside, the sun shines, and the ravens and blackbirds laugh and sing, and the ocean whispers its secrets to the sand on the beach.

But we are very, very quiet.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Repeat after me: 'It's only a novel'

Apparently, Stephen King's Cell got to Afghanistan, says the Scotsman:
WORRIED Afghans switched off their mobile phones yesterday as rumours spread that a deadly virus could be contracted by answering calls from "strange numbers".

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Thinking? Me?

What can I say? Despite my recent dearth of writings, Father Joseph has decided to nominate me for a Thinking Blog Award. And this is the sort of award that a nomination is a win (which may be true of many awards, but that's a rabbit trail I won't follow today).

Quoting Father Joseph, here are the instructions:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.
3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote.

Well, the fact that Father Joseph has pointed you this way means that he can't be one of my picks, but just for the record, he would be, otherwise.

And he named another of my favorites, Get Religion, so that's out, too.

But the truth is, I've been focused on audio lately. I write a column for the Oregon Court Reporters Association newsletter, and I spend a lot of time with earbugs, frequently sitting behind a steno machine. So I'll figure that the chain of "thinking" bloggers will spread out to many writers worth reading, so I'll point to a few worth listening to.

The first is a back-at-you at Father Joseph, whose accent is not quite as Southern as I expected it to be, but whose commentary is full of everyday insights that validate the "wit and wisdom" promised on the Ancient Faith promo (that Father Joseph laughs about).

Another is the podcast SF magazine, Escape Pod. Founder and host Steve Ely has put together a professional-quality anthology of weekly stories (they've also added a horror and a fantasy edition, neither of which I've listened to yet) that manage to be at once thought provoking and fun.

Yet another is the Sonic Society, a vast aural conspiracy to bring "audio cinema" to English speakers from around the world ("We are legion").

Through the Sonic Society, I've found such treasures as Black Jack Justice and The Red Panda -- new radio programs in the Old Time Radio tradition with exactly the right mix of earnestness and tongue in cheek -- at Decoder Ring Theatre. They're between seasons just now, but that gives you time to catch up on Seasons 1 and 2 before they come back for (I hope) the third.

Finally is an experiment that maps the capabilities of podcast fiction: The Failed Cities Monologues. Lots of authors have written their stories in "different voices," but Matt Wallace and crew take the concept of voice to a whole new platform in this dystopian tale of loyalty, betrayal, tenderness, brutality, and the question of what it takes to get by.

So there are my nominees. Thanks for the kudos, Father Joseph, and I'll do my best to dust off my keyboard a little more productively in the future.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

What we miss

Washington commuters missed a treat recently when the professional violinist Joshua Bell played a free concert in a subway station. Incognito, one of the world's best violinists played some of the world's best music on one of the world's best violins. For whatever reason -- context, time pressures, distraction -- most, vastly most, of the people missed it entirely. Didn't look, didn't stop for a concert that they could have paid $100 for a seat to watch, didn't notice the gift.

Washington Post magazine, which arranged the concert or stunt or whatever you want to call it, has a really good story about it, along with video and interviews with the people who did stop and why. The article is well worth a full read.

It's a reminder of how much we can miss by not being there, where we are, and of the wonders in drab clothing that can happen anywhere, anytime, if we're not so distracted that we miss it.

H/T: Miss Snark

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