Category: Culture

What the fuck is culture, really? Well, in my world it’s a lot of things, from books and movies to internet memes and stuff that wouldn’t exist without the society we live in. So there.

  • Make someone (then do it again)

    Darius Kazemi calls himself an internet artist, and who am I to disagree? Anyone who can make something as wonderful as the Make someone page deserves whatever moniker they’d like.

    So go ahead, make a person. Then make another until the day’s wasted away.

  • Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel sets

    Do you need some extravagant fashion sets in your life? Not much of that going around during a pandemic, and – let’s face it – it’s not like most of us would go to a show anyway. That doesn’t mean that they’re not cool though, like this New York Times gallery of Karl Lagerfeld’s most fabulous Chanel sets. Like it or not, those are some wild sets designed to showcase fashion…

    And yes, I might be digging deep in my Pocket reading queue. Still cool though, even if the link is from last year.

  • Don’t go to the movies

    A discussion recently led me to send this AV Club link, about going to the movies in a pandemic, to a friend. I figured it should be here too. The quote below is Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, talking about what’s so dangerous with going to a movie theatre right now.

    I’m a huge fan of movies. I really enjoy them. They’re a great way to have some fun and escape from the world—which we need, especially right now. But going to see a movie in an indoor movie theater, it’s just about the last thing I would do right now. From what we understand, the virus is transmitted through through aerosolized droplets that come out of our mouths, oftentimes when we talk or when we laugh or when we sing. And so, being in a room for two hours with a bunch of folks who are laughing at a movie, and where air is not being circulated in an efficient way, and where you don’t know who has been in there before you, that’s really hazardous exposure. I just don’t think it’s worth it.

    Dr. Abdul El-Sayed

    The whole piece, with quotes from medical professionals, is worth a read.

  • Gary Larson’s back

    Well I’ll be… This is great news, and all thanks to a clogged pen:

    So a few years ago—finally fed up with my once-loyal but now reliably traitorous pen—I decided to try a digital tablet. I knew nothing about these devices but hoped it would just get me through my annual Christmas card ordeal. I got one, fired it up, and lo and behold, something totally unexpected happened: within moments, I was having fun drawing again. I was stunned at all the tools the thing offered, all the creative potential it contained. I simply had no idea how far these things had evolved. Perhaps fittingly, the first thing I drew was a caveman.

    Be sure to read the whole story, and then check out the new stuff from the creator of The Far Side.

  • But What Can I Do?

    But What Can I Do?

    Posting black squares and flooding hashtags is one thing, but after that? Job well done, pat on the back and a drink, fellow privileged person? Not quite.

    What can you do?


  • Bruce Sterling bids farewell to Beyond the Beyond

    Beyond the Beyond, the blog by Bruce Sterling hosted by Wired, is shutting down this month. It’s been a staple for the blogosphere, so it makes me sad to see it go. Read the farewell post, and – if you were a passenger on the ride – take this moment to reminisce a bit. Also, how nuts is it that Wired didn’t pay for all that content?

  • Just Cancel All Conferences Already

    The number of cancelled conferences due to COVID-19 is growing, SXSW is the latest big one to cancel. It’s not just the organizers that take a hit when a conference is cancelled or postponed, hotels and restaurants, tourism in general, and so forth suffer too.

    I propose that all conferences and trade shows should be cancelled. Let’s reboot and restart, kill off the whole circuit and find something new. If you do business visiting these things, then you’ll find another way, because business will be done no matter what. And if you make your living on or around the shows, well, you’ll have to adapt. That’s the way of things.

    Maybe I’m just channeling my inner hatred for crowds, and the fake importance of the stage, but I don’t feel that cancelled conferences is such a bad thing. Take this opportunity to find other ways to get what it is you get from conferences. Write down all the good things, and replace them with alternatives. I’m pretty sure that’ll be easier than you thought.

  • Believability


    There was an interesting discussion about realism in fantasy the other day (thread here). Lots of good points were made by my friends Tim and Gábor (whom you should follow, obviously).

    Personally, I think the term “realism” is flawed when used to describe fantasy. It’s not a matter of if something is real or not, it’s a fantasy, a story even, so realism, to me, is the wrong term.

    I like believability instead. How much do you believe that something is true to the world? It’s not how real it is, it’s how believable it is in both the story and the setting.

    Sticking to fantasy, imagine a traditional sword and sorcery setting, with swords and barbarians. Magic exists but it’s rare, sorcerers are uncommon and true ones even more so. A puppet-master magician controlling the king might be believable, magic gives an upper hand and opens doors to the practitioner that are closed to everyone else. However, two groups of magicians duking it out in the street, throwing fireballs and invoking the elements, that chafes with the rarity of magic. It’s not believable. It’s sure as hell isn’t realistic, no matter how you cut it, but that’s beside the point. With the story and setting as the backdrop, it’s not believable because that’s not how we’ve been told magic works in this particular world.

    Staying true to the reader, the story, and the world is what makes something as outrageous as magic believable. It’ll never be realistic, no, but believable in the context.

  • It’s not you, it’s all predetermined

    Alan Moore being Alan Moore, in an interview regarding (but not limited to) the Spirits of Place anthology he’s got a story in:

    Ideas are usually generated by the act of writing itself. William Burroughs spoke of ‘the word vine’; the process by which if you write down a word, this will shape and suggest the next word, and so on. Take this thinking to its counterintuitive conclusions, it suggests that writers, far from being the god-like creators of worlds that they may imagine themselves to be, are in fact only vehicles by which means ideas can have themselves. By the same token, if we are talking about the ideas embedded in a certain location – the complex aggregate of these ideas representing that location’s ‘spirit of place’, if you will – then I think we can reasonably and realistically speak of a place exerting its influence over someone who finds themselves writing about it.

    It goes on, obviously. There’s also a glorious rant in there on kids today and how entertainment has stolen imagination from them.

  • A month with Stephen King's short stories

    Max Booth III decided to read all of Stephen King’s collected short works in a month.

    But oh my god, you guys, Stevie King has written a lot of short stories. More than I certainly remembered, at least. Right off the bat I realized there was no way in hell I’d be able to include his collections consisting entirely of novellas, which would eliminate from my to-read list the following: Different Seasons, Four Past Midnight, and Full Dark, No Stars. Apparently many people view Hearts in Atlantis as a story collection, which is insane to me since it’s obviously a novel, so I also crossed that one off the list. This left me with the following to read in the month of February: Night Shift, Skeleton Crew, Nightmares & Dreamscapes, Everything’s Eventual, Just After Sunset, and The Bazaar of Bad Dreams.

    It’s a pretty good column, although parts of it reads like a puff piece for the author’s Stephen King podcast. All that aside, if you’re interested in King’s short stories, which any sane person who loves to read should be, this one’s for you.

  • The mystery of Go Ask Alice

    I’d never heard of the book Go Ask Alice, but the mystery surrounding the author made this piece an interesting read:

    Despite the popularity of Go Ask Alice, the mystery of the diarist’s identity has never been truly solved, and none of her relatives have ever come forward to claim a share of the royalties. Yet the book was largely treated as authentic by reviewers in the 1970s, and touted as such for the television adaptation. Only Publisher’s Weekly threw shade, remarking that it “seems awfully well written,” to be real.

  • The 2017 Pulitzer winners

    Looking for something to read the next couple of days? Longreads has made a list of all the Pulitzer Prize winners this year. Enjoy.

  • "People don't have hours anymore"

    Jason Fried, founder and CEO of Basecamp, said this in the HBR Ideacast podcast, which I didn't listen to but luckily there's a transcript:

    You know, people don’t have hours anymore. Like, you don’t have hours at work. You know, people say they work 8 hours a day or 10 hours a day or 12 hours a day. They don’t. They work 15 minutes and 20 minutes and 25 minutes and 6 minutes and maybe 45 minutes if they’re lucky. And that just seems broken to me. So I’m trying to push hard against that.

  • Publishers Weekly gives Haunted Futures a starred review

    Haunted Futures, cover by Gábor Csigas

    This is good news: Publishers Weekly has awarded Haunted Futures, a science fiction anthology featuring the likes of Warren Ellis, S.L. Huang, Jeff Noon, and, well, me, with not only a review but a starred one.

    There is an entry for every speculative genre, including space exploration (Gethin A. Lynes’s “Remember the Sky”), Lovecraftian horror (Lynnea Glasser’s “Guardian of the Gate”), and postapocalyptic feminism (Pete Rawlik’s “Retirement Plan”), and each story lives up to or exceeds its genre’s expectations.

    Read more about Haunted Futures here, or preferably over at the publisher’s site. Hat’s off to all the writers in this one, but most importantly to Ghostwoods Books’ very own Salomé Jones and Tim Dedopulos. Job well done, guys.

  • You might be breast-feeding a vampire merperson soon

    Yeah, that headline isn’t even remotely true, but it’s the kind of absurdity that strikes me when I’m looking at the list of proposed emojis for the 5.0 release. Surely some of these, like breast-feeding and hipster beard as well as vomiting and the steamy room (aka sauna) lady, make sense, but when was the last time you felt the need to express your monocle-ness? Not so sure about that last one.

    Mages, fairies, genies, super happy zombies, elves that looks like hobbits with pointy ears, vampires, and of course the merperson all makes sense in today’s Game of Thrones-infested popular culture. Very on point, just like the somewhat sad T-Rex looking at his pitiful arms.

    The full list of Emoji 5.0 can be found here, if you’re interested.