Mental Break

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If you need a mental break like I need a mental break, check out Aunty Ida.*

*(Caution: Don’t let Aunty Ida get too deeply into your mental. Just trust me on this one. For realsies.)

 

Aunty Ida got scienced. How’d she hold up?

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So this is probably the coolest thing ever. What’s that hypothetical reader? Sounds like hyperbole? Well, hold on to your hypothetical hat, because it’s really that cool.

If you were around during this year’s A to Z Blogging Challenge, you probably came across A Back of the Envelope Calculation, and David, the scientist behind it. Through the month of April, David delightfully broke down the science of science fiction. Ready for the cool part?

Are you really ready?

What’s that, hypothetical reader? Milking it?

Never.

Well, hardly ever.

Anyway, today he’s taken the microscope (get it? It’s science humor!) to the science of Aunty Ida, and it’s all I’ve ever dreamed and more.

Aunty Ida, if you’re not familiar, is the owner, operator and mad-adjacent scientist of Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only).Though light science-fiction, it is still sci-fi, and meticulously researched to give the sense of Colbert’s truthiness.

So how does it hold up to scrutiny from a real, completely unfictional scientist?

Hop on over and check out Deep Frozen SQuID to find out!

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.

I’m Polyauthorous and I’m Proud

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RadioKirk, Wikimedia Commons

RadioKirk, Wikimedia Commons

OK, first things first. You know that neat little widget which is supposed to update my word count when I change it on the NaNoWriMo site? Well, it doesn’t. It just stays on the same number it was when I put it up. So either I’ll have to figure it out (any WordPressers resolve this issue?) or let it go.

Hmm, changing the widget seems to have worked, but we’ll see after I update today.

Now, on to that title. You may remember how I said that I had two ideas, and I thought I might try to work on both? Seems a little crazy, right?

Well, I did.

I think it’s possible to love more than one manuscript at a time. And here’s the thing. They’re different in tone, different in subject matter, and they (probably) occur in two different worlds.

It wasn’t nearly as difficult to switch as I thought it might be, I did the bulk of my writing on one (2200 words) and then, much later, added 1000 to the project I started on November 1.

Sidebar. To resolve all future confusion (I’ll be honest here, I mean my future confusion), we’ll call the project I started on day 1 WIP A, and the one I started on day 2 WIP B. Cool? Cool.

So yesterday WIP B was the one that drew my attention, the one that I sank into more readily. Today may be the opposite, and I’m going to give myself the freedom for that. When the going gets tough, the two-WIP way of life may become questionable, and we’ll cross that bridge and all the other assorted cliches.

But I’ll tell you this: NaNoWriMo is doing its job, because I am back to getting words on a page, and that is battle number one.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

 

And Sometimes the Future is Bradbury & Orwell

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If you’ve read my blog before, then you know I love living in the future. I love the novel ease of a new bit of technology; I love having our corner of the universe at my fingertips. That’s not a metaphor either; if I want, I can visit Pluto:

Or see a galaxy more than 13 billion light years away:

It’s magnificent. Truly magnificent.

Until it isn’t.

With every new bit of technology, it seems we lose a bit of of our privacy. It’s not a de facto requirement, either, that we should. The reality is that the data collected by the companies who make the technology is the real goldmine.

Take those fun little app games. Ever consider the permissions they require? Or what the companies do with all that data they can mine from your phone?

Odds are, they’re selling it.

Which brings me to my real gripe. My productivity was greatly curtailed yesterday when I agreed to what turned out to be a massive Windows update. And now, sitting on the bottom left of my screen, someone named Cortana has invited herself into my home.

With Cortana, the computer’s microphone is always turned on. ALWAYS. AL. WAYS. Even on your login screen (though I believe you can turn that “feature” off). Cortana watches and records everything you do on your computer, ostensibly to improve her results.

Ostensibly.

I think I have her off right now, but I really can’t be sure she’s not still listening. She controls the microphone. Not me.

But beyond something that could be in 1984 or Fahrenheit 451, it seems like a collection of data like never before, and that’s considering Google, who knows what the next question on my mind is going to be after I’ve typed one in. Google, who knows where I’ve been and asks me creepy questions about it, like a stalkery ex who wants you to know he knows.

But Google doesn’t know when I start typing and stop typing in my word processing program, coincidentally also from Microsoft. It doesn’t know the content of my spreadsheets. It doesn’t know if I’m playing a game on my PC, or using photo editing software, or watching TV while I work on the computer.

Cortana would know. She’d be able to hear what the show was, too. The operating system sees all.

Take, for example, this reassuring line from the privacy agreement:

“However, we do not use what you say in email, chat, video calls or voice mail, or your documents, photos or other personal files to target ads to you.”

Note Microsoft isn’t saying that they don’t collect this data. They are tacitly admitting that they do. They are only saying that they don’t use it for advertising.

How very generous.

Our privacy could easily be assured, even with the use of this kind of technology. The data collected, for example, could just stay local and never be reported to Microsoft.

But that’s not how it works. Nope, we are simply money-generating units in the new future machine.

In or near Chicago in October? Come see “Me Inside Me Presents: Witch, Please,” on October 1, 8, 22 and 29 at Donny’s Skybox Theater at 7 pm. Tickets available at SecondCity.com.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

 

Memories of Rain

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20160819_104703I used to love the rain. But that was many years ago, you see, before the skies stayed dark.

Before.

The knocking of the drops against the window wasn’t yet a constant patter, a patter we don’t even hear anymore. Well, a patter you probably don’t hear anymore, but I do, I do because I remember a time when a sunny day was just as likely as a rainy one.

Or even more so.

As I said, that was long, long ago.

There came about The Change, and though you know it, so convenient from your side of history, packaged and neat with a beginning and an end, we didn’t see it looming over us, inevitable, a hulking arbiter of what would never be again.

Maybe I’m lucky to be old. To have had my youth when there were birds and bright flowers, and the sun was as certain as your galoshes. I wonder, sometimes, if it misses us, up there, on the other side of these endless clouds.

That’s silly, isn’t it?

The sun? Missing specks like us? Because what are we but the dust of the universe, floating on all this water, awash in all this water. Around us, only the water.

I can see I’ve lost you, that look in your eye, that quick glance to your phone. And you’re right, I’m nothing but an old woman, plopped here by the one on the shift before you, left to stare at the drops rolling down. Always the drops rolling down.

If we knew, we could have stopped it, The Change. We could have handed you something else entirely. Instead we’ve given you mud and muck and gray skies.

What’s that? Oh yes, I understand, you have to finish your rounds. You’ve been very patient and kind, listening to me. You’re right, of course.

You can never miss what you never had.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

TV Talk: 12 Monkeys

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As usual for TV Talk, no spoilers!

If you follow me on Twitter (what? You don’t? Heresy!), you’ve probably noticed my, uhmm, somewhat fanatical devotion to the SyFy time-travel show “12 Monkeys.” It’s a writers’ show, and if you enjoy fully-realized thoughtful writing, you should be watching it.

What’s that, hypothetical reader? You remember a movie by that same name many years ago? Yes, the series is actually based on the movie, but it is so very much more than that. Get your rain ponchos and umbrellas ready, because I’m about to gush.

Hmm, hypothetical reader? And galoshes? Yes, they’d probably be wise.

With the advent of streaming services, and the tendency of outlets like Netflix to release a whole season of a show at once, the very fabric of television has changed. Now, instead of episodic shows which couldn’t rely on a viewer consistently watching every single week without fail, television has switched places with movies to become the long-form of visual storytelling.

With a show like “12 Monkeys,” — like many of the Netflix, Amazon and Hulu shows — writers now usually have  about 12 or 13 episodes, totaling anywhere from 9 to 13 hours, to plot an arc. Compare that to a movie’s 2-3 hours. The opportunity for nuance of character alone is incredible, let alone intricacies of plot.

And the plotting is intricate. Astoundingly intricate. Here’s the thing with writing about time: it’s hard. Time is complicated, as I discovered when writing my own novel dealing with it. And there is an enormous temptation to cheat, because cheating is so much easier than unpicking the consequences of your knotted-up plots.

(That actually sounds like a pretty good assessment of life in general, but I digress).

“12 Monkeys” never cheats. Like all well-done science-fiction, it creates its rules and it stands by them resolutely. And yet it manages to surprise me minute by minute.

That’s not easy to do.

It takes up every inch of the space it’s allotted, and the finished product, thanks to the writers, directors, the cast, the crew and showrunner Terry Matalas, is breathtaking.

It also has one of my absolute favorite genius nut jobs on television, Jennifer Goines, played the insanely (ha!) talented Emily Hampshire. Anyone who’s been around here knows I’m pretty partial to genius nut jobs.

All that aside, it’s just plain fun to watch. And tweet; the cast and crew are always active on twitter, constantly interacting with fans, which makes live-tweeting one big time-travely party.

Have a great binge this weekend (once you start, you won’t be able to stop) and come hang out on Monday, at 9/8c!

Yes, hypothetical reader, it’s now safe to remove your rain gear. What’s that? Stop talking to you because you’re trying to watch?

Very wise, hypothetical reader. Very wise indeed.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

TV Talk: Orphan Black

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If you follow me on twitter (wait, you don’t follow me on twitter? Why wouldn’t you follow me on twitter?! Just hit the little “follow me” thingy over there on the sidebar. It’s OK, we’ll wait. Done? Awesome.) you might notice that I like to live tweet TV. A lot.

And yet I rarely talk about TV here. I’m not sure why that is; I tend to focus on writing and books and whatever weird things pop into my head. So I’ve decided to add a new feature with TV Talk. Will it be a regular one? We’ll see.

Anyway, tonight is a new episode of “Orphan Black,” one of the best shows currently on television. You’ll note I didn’t say “sci-fi shows.”

There’s no question it’s sci-fi, as it explores the moral and ethical implications of cloning technology. The thing is, though, that sci-fi tends to be shoved into a little box of genre, and all the art of it becomes eclipsed by the execution of big ideas.

Between its taut writing and phenomenal acting — seriously, Tatiana Maslany is so incredible, it’s difficult, mentally, to keep track of the fact that she is just one person — “Orphan Black” is in an elite category of shows redefining the boundaries of television. Suddenly television is the long-form of storytelling, and “Orphan Black” takes full advantage (as does “12 Monkeys,” but we’ll talk about that one later).

It’s innovative, completely captivating, and populated with a uniquely talented cast, but yet when the Emmys rolled around, it was ignored. Why?

Back to genre.

Nothing reflects us to ourselves quite like science-fiction. We can imagine where we’re going if we keep heading in a direction; we can imagine what will happen if we don’t. We can take social issues out of their sensitive context, and give them a fresh, non-confrontational setting.

The truth can be found in sci-fi, as it always was. Even Ray Bradbury fell victim to the  science-fiction branding; people rarely talk about the crystalline, effortless nature of his prose. Rather, they focus on the brilliant images that prose creates in their minds.

Telling a story vividly, excitingly while giving a glimpse of things possibly to come shouldn’t lessen its artistic value.

It should add to it.

P.S. You may notice I didn’t give a whole lot of details on the show itself; I’m very anti-spoiler. Watch it! Let me know what you think, if you agree with my assessment, or if you think I’m totally off-base.

In or near Chicago? Check out our sketch comedy revue, Me Inside Me Presents: “Neurotrash.” Saturdays at 10 pm, May 7, 14, 21 & 28 in Donny’s Skybox Theater. Tickets $13; Students $11 SCTC Students: $7  Click here for tickets.

Want to know what happens to Jane Storegoer before everyone else? Sign up for my spamless newsletter, and get new episodes in your inbox on Fridays!

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!