Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Feb 7-13, 2021

As you prepare for the coming weekend, don’t forget to get your mental corn popping.

Laila El Mugammar announces that an emotional documentary about Canada’s legendary Black cowboy is streaming free now. Chatelaine

Samantha Kubota reports that the brand formerly known as Aunt Jemima reveals new name. NBC News

Azi Paybarah: KKK member who drove into BLM protesters gets more than three years in prison. The New York Times

Emotional intelligence, racial stereotypes, and the politics of emotional expression | Khadija Mbowe

Michele Debczak: new spacecraft named after Katherine Johnson honors the pioneering NASA mathematician. Mental Floss

How did the Milky Way get its spiral? SciShow Space

WHO says coronavirus unlikely to have leaked from Wuhan lab. CBC

Micheleen Doucleff: extraordinary patient offers surprising clues to coronavirus variants. NPR

Jaclyn Diaz reports that a second person dies of Ebola in the Congo, marking the virus’s return. NPR

Jason Slotkin: tens of thousands rally in Myanmar, protesting military coup. NPR

Eric Levenson, Stephanie Becker, and Dan Simon report that the rise in attacks on elderly Asian Americans in Bay area prompts new special response unit. CNN

Leah Brennan and Josh LaBella report that a Yale graduate student identified as the victim of Saturday’s fatal shooting in New Haven. New Haven Register

Michelle Ghoussoub announces that women’s rights activist Loujain Alhathloul released after 1,001 days in Saudi prison. CBC

Oliver Milman shares that air pollution in US subway systems stuns researchers. The Guardian

Sharon J. Riley explains how a public uprising caused a province built on fossil fuels to reverse course on coal mining. The Narwhal

Sandy Schaeffer compiles all the Joss Whedon abuse and misconduct allegations. #metoo ScreenRant

Deiter Buse: now is the time to ask what you can do for Laurentian. The Sudbury Star

Health Sciences North faces lawsuit over misread breast imaging results. CBC

Why you read slower as you age. SciShow Psych

Brenda Knowles examines imposter syndrome and how it can be a blessing in disguise. Space2Live

Stonehenge may have been first erected in Wales. Aljazeera

Listen to the sweet, soft warble common ravens sing to their partners. Audubon

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you took away something to inspire your next creative project.

Until next tipsday, be well and stay safe, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, May 22-28, 2016

Thoughty Thursday is weird and wonderful this week. Well . . . weird, anyway.

On refugees: a history of the ‘other’ in Sudbury. Nilgiri Pearson for Sudbury.com

This was one of the sad bits of new to come out in Canada this week: Gord Downie, lead singer of The Tragically Hip, diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. The Globe and Mail.

Here’s the sensationalist article: bodies of strange creatures found in the basement of old London home. Design you trust. And now, the real story: the truth behind the viral story of mysterious skeletons in London basement. The Earth Child.

Complain all you want, but your busy schedule may be helping your brain. Angus Chen for NPR.

Angela Hanscom wonders why can’t children stay still in the classroom? It turns out that movement is critical to attention and learning. The Washington Post.

How to be happy: lessons from an Amazonian tribe. Rick Warren for Medium.

A psychologist identifies three elements that determine happiness. Diane Koopman for LifeHack.

Finding 16 cents on the sidewalk helped one person recognize something important about happiness. The Business Insider.

The more I learn about this man, the more I love him. Albert Einstein: racism is a disease of white people. Open Culture looks at his little-known fight for civil rights.

The #HeForShe Media Summit (it’s an hour and a half long) featuring Patricia Arquette and Joss Whedon. UN Women.

 

Maisha Z. Johnson offers a black feminist’s guide to the racist shit too many white feminists say. Everyday Feminism.

Amanda Vickery says it’s time to bring female artists out of storage. The Guardian.

This is too cool. This Finnish university gives its doctoral graduates a funky top hat and sword. This is so Hogwarts, I have the desire to get my PhD! Oh. Tuition. Dissertation. But top hat and sword!

Jupiter gets his by visible asteroid impacts six times a year. Phil Plait for Slate.

Ed Yong reports a shocking find in a Neanderthal cave in France. The Atlantic.

The gruesome history of eating corpses as medicine. Maria Dolan for The Smithsonian.

Coming up: The next chapter will be coming out this weekend. I might have one more DIYMFA QotW, too! Oh, the writerly life 🙂

Thoughty Thursday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, July 5-11, 2015

Okay. Several instances of trolling and cyberbullying against writers have come to the fore in recent weeks. Here are a few posts that seek to address the issue.

Anne R. Allen outlines the issues and offers some strategies you can use to avoid or address them without becoming a target.

Chuck Wendig posted Online is IRL (in response to the #AskELJames fiasco), and then, after a narsty Twitter attack, posted In which I learn to talk less and listen more.

This made Porter Anderson’s radar and he posted this analysis of the fallout.

In other, related news, there were discussions across Facebook and Google+ regarding the above (Delilah S. Dawson was caught in the fracas), and about a libellous review posted for Roz Morris. If it had merely been a poor review, meh. This review, however, accused Roz of plagiarism. How do you respond to these kinds of accusations without chumming the waters? We really have to learn to be kinder to one another online.

Agent Sarah Negovetich offered these thoughts on safely navigating social media.


Unit sales (of print books) inched up in the first half of 2015. Publishers Weekly.

Elending won’t put a big dent in books sales. The Guardian.

Court denies class action in Author Solutions case. Publishers Weekly.

Jane Friedman explains the profit and loss statement and how publishers use it to make purchasing decisions.


What happens if your story stakes aren’t high enough? K.M. Weiland answers in part 42 of her Most Common Writing Mistakes series.

Katie looked at Jurassic Park as an example of how to compound your conflict in your story. Think perfect storm 🙂

E.C. Ambrose offered these nine ways to use point of view to strengthen your characters. Helping Writers Become Authors.

Chris Winkle writes another great post for Mythcreants: Why social justice is intrinsic to storytelling.

Roz Morris writes about the importance of names. I love names, too.

Agent Carly Watters lists seven things that writers should stop wasting their time on.

Sarah Callender explores the practice of success for Writer Unboxed.

Anna Lovind writes about finding true support on your writing journey. Scoutiegirl.

Are we pandering to, or presuming, short attention spans? Publishers Weekly.

Grammarly presents eleven untranslatable words from other cultures and eleven words for the self-proclaimed smarty-pants.

Jane Ann McLachlan wrote this article on ethics and science fiction for SF Signal.

You should know about the Fermi Paradox before you read The Dark Forest. Chris Lough for Tor.com.

Ten things you may not know about Pride and Prejudice. Mental Floss.

BuzzFeed lists 35 Canadian bookstores you need to visit.

Check out the Con Man trailer. Entertainment Weekly.

A first look at the new MTV series, The Shannara Chronicles:

Here’s some news from the Doctor Who panel at Comic Con. i09.

Also at Comic Con, Joss Whedon expounds on the meaning of life and more. i09.

True Detective teaches how NOT to write dialogue. Electric Lit.

Y’all come back on Thoughty Thursday, now, ya hear?

Tipsday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Nov 23-29, 2014

What does theme have to do with your story’s climax? Everything, according to K.M. Weiland 🙂

Don’t let up on your tension. Katie’s weekly vlog.

A very important post from Dan Blank on Writer Unboxed: Adding more white space to your life.

Agent Sarah Negovetich answers your questions about publishing credits and space opera 🙂

 

Anna Quindlen’s A short guide to a happy life on Brainpickings.

Joss Whedon’s screenwriting talk for Impossible. He’d cracked a tooth at the time and persevered.

Steven Moffat has hired a woman to write for Doctor Who! Nerdist.

The Huffington Post’s Ethan Reid shares seven of the finest apocalyptic novels.

A list of words authors are sick of hearing. i09.

What Star Wars: A New Hope’s cut scenes can teach us about editing. i09.

Worldbuilding tropes that need to be forgotten. i09’s Toybox.

What science has revealed about people who read. arts.mic.

Shakespeare folio discovered in France. The New York Times.

C’est tout, mes amies!

Enjoy!

Tipsday

Series Disappointments

As a writer, I look to many different sources for inspiration and for learning about my craft.  Most professional writers will tell you that screen writing informs fiction writing, whether it’s episodic television to short stories or chapters, or full length movies to novellas and novels.

I love television.  I know that there are some writers out there that vilify the medium as a time-waster and brain killer, but I try to look at the quality of the story, the plausibility of scientific elements in sci-fi, the depiction and development of character, and so forth.

I’ve told you how I read as a writer in the past.  I’ve also reviewed a few movies on here and the lessons I’ve taken away from them, well, now I’m going to talk about television series.

Phil and I are fairly critical in our television watching.  If something doesn’t make sense, one of us will be the first to lambaste it 😛

This year, we’ve unsubscribed from the movie network cable package.  It was the one that allowed us to watch Game of Thrones and True Blood.  But now, we’re just not interested in what’s on offer.

The past

Phil holds up Babylon 5 as his favourite series.  I agree that J. Michael Straczynski is a masterful storyteller and B5 is one of the best series I’ve seen, but I’m also a little more critical about B5 than Phil is.

I know that JMS planned the entire 5 year arc of the show before he started working on it, but it’s fairly obvious where real life events required accommodation and revision.  Still, until the rights struggle, of which I shall not speak, started to affect things, the show was fabulous.

The fifth season was less than stellar, though, because of the afore-mentioned struggle, I think, Excalibur, the series that was intended to fill in some of the detail pre-B5 only lasted one season, and the hoped for Tales of the Rangers never got off the ground.

In the end, I was disappointed, but not because of JMS—he’s brilliant—but because of the creative differences that prevented the world he created from being explored further.

One of my favourite series of all time is Buffy the Vampire SlayerJoss Whedon took a slightly different tack, creating seasonal arcs, because of the fickle nature of network television.  Buffy changed networks, mid-run, but managed to revive.

The title character’s death at the end of season 5 was to have been the end of the story, but somehow, two more seasons were wrangled.

There are inconsistencies in Buffy.  I’ve watched the series enough to know, but they make the overall story no less enjoyable.  The way in which details from earlier seasons eventually led to lovely pay-offs in later seasons spoke to how well Whedon understood his creation.

When Angel got his spin-off after the third season of Buffy, I also watched it.  Phil is a little fonder of Angel than of Buffy, but both series were made of similar stuff.  Whedon is a very different kind of storyteller than JMS, but no less compelling.

Again, Whedon seems to have had poor luck with the networks after Buffy and Angel.  Firefly did not even have a full season aired (except on Space and Syfy) and Dollhouse was dropped after a second season.

A more long-standing love for both of us is Doctor Who.  We’ve both been fans for years and although Phil has, on principle, a problem with time-travel stories, the writing behind Doctor Who allows him to suspend even his hefty disbelief and enjoy the story.

Other than those few series, many of the shows Phil and I hopefully latched onto over the years seem to have lost their storytelling ways.

Phil and I loved the first season of Heroes.  We were avid fans and shared our DVD’s with everyone we could think of.

Then the second season aired with plot holes big enough to consume the entire cast.  Even George Takei couldn’t save the show.

We were sceptical about the remake of Battlestar Galactica, but once we started watching the series, we were taken in.

Which is why we were also severely disappointed by the last 2 seasons and though we watched Caprica, we couldn’t regret its demise either.  The “ending” answered fewer questions than BSG’s.

Lost lost me as a viewer before the second season ended.  I could see the ridiculous factor increasing, and the writers withheld information when they should have revealed it, and revealed information that had no importance to the plot in the long term.

Phil never watched Lost at all.

Supernatural turned out to be mostly monster-of-the-week and Sam and Dean never really evolved as characters.

There was the short-lived Dresden Files series, which we both loved, but then it went out of production.

I was enjoying the adaptation of Tanya Huff’s Blood Books, Blood Ties, but it, too, was dropped.

The present

I’ve continued to follow the adventures of Buffy and Angel through Joss Whedon’s graphic

Trade paperback cover of Buffy: Season Eight V...

Trade paperback cover of Buffy: Season Eight Volume One, written by Joss Whedon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

novel continuations of both stories.

Phil and I are both happy enough with Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and hope that it breaks the television curse for Whedon.  We’d like to see more of his wit and style on television.

Phil and I continue to watch and enjoy Doctor Who.

True Blood was okay to begin with, but after the first season again, we found the story wandering and not necessarily in a good direction.  Unlike some other books turned into series, TB departs fairly distinctly from the Sookie Stackhouse novels on which it is based.

We have, so far, come back for the next season and each season seems to begin well enough, but then certain events are just drawn out for far too long only to end precipitously and in many cases, in a dissatisfying manner.

Consistency isn’t the best, either.

We knew, when Russell Edgington was encased in cement rather than shown the true death, that he’d be back, but we couldn’t stand it when he did.

The ending of this season left us completely cold.  Sookie’s waffling and bemoaning of her fate got old very quickly.  And Eric sunbathing instead of trying to stop the distribution of the Hep-V tainted True Blood?  It made so little sense.  If he did burn, he deserved to.

Mind you, not having seen the ashes, I’ll assume that he and Pam will be back, if not next season, then at some point thereafter.

Being Human.  My advice: watch the British version.  It was always better.

We are quite happy with Game of Thrones.  Now this is a different bit of storytelling, because the novels have already been written by George R. R. Martin.  The artistry of GoT is that the show runners have to pick and choose what bits to show and how to show them in a way that is truthful to GRRM.

And he’s consulting to keep them as much on script as possible 😉

Phil was enjoying The Walking Dead, but found that it too, was getting a little lack-lustre in its plot by the end of the last season.  He’ll be happy to watch it in reruns when we re-subscribe to the movie package in the spring.

We watched the Netflix series Hemlock Grove and were impressed, though admittedly, the denouement  seemed a little rushed.  We are hopeful that future seasons will be at least as good.

Once Upon a Time.  Not Phil’s bag, but I like retellings of fairy tales.  So far, so good for me, but they are in danger of losing me if they get to far off track.

Grimm.  More fairy tale-related shenanigans.  I like the German take, but was so not impressed with how long it took Julia to deal with her recovered memories last season.  Seriously?  Plus, I wanted to see more of Nick’s mom.  She kicked ass.

Lost Girl.  Again, this is something that Phil doesn’t go in for, but I’ve been enjoying.  I’m glad that it continues to be in production.

Arrow was another surprise for me.  Though I enjoyed Smallville, I watched most of the episodes in rerun.  Plus, Smallville started to draw out the origin story of Superman far too long.  I was irritated with that.

Arrow is not taking the Green Arrow from Smallville, but focusing on the character independent of Superman.  It’s a bit grittier and darker.  I like it.

Orphan Black.  This one was a surprise for me, but I definitely like it.  Don’t have any other clone/genetic engineering conspiracy stories out there at the moment.  Phil wasn’t so impressed, but I’m willing to give it a go again next year.

Defiance was a show that Phil got hold of by virtue of his interests in gaming.  The concept was unique: a massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG, or MMO) and a television series developed concurrently in the same world.

The game would start up earlier, feed into the hype, but when the series started, the developers promised weekly game upgrades based on story developments in the series.  It sounded interesting, so we both tuned in.

Phil quickly tired of the game, in which the promised content was not made available.  He gave up some time in the summer when none of the series-based content had yet been added.

The depiction of the alien people were different between the game and the series as well.

The Irathients were analogous to indigenous peoples in terms of spirituality in the series, but good warriors and tactical thinkers in the game.  Not that they couldn’t be both, but both were not clearly options in the game and the series.

The Indogenes in the game were similar to Vulcans, dominantly logical and emotionally repressed, while in the series, they turned out to be political schemers and shape-shifters.

The last straw for Phil was that for two episodes in a row, they played the “s/he’s an Indogene” card.  He cited it as derivative of the equally irritating “s/he’s a cylon” ploy in BSG.

Story-wise, it’s about as satisfying as “it was all a dream,” or an ending where the big bad, after waging war, and having the subjects of his rage in his sights, commits suicide instead (another BSG disappointment).

Sleepy Hollow.  I’m liking the angle the writers have chosen and tying it all in with the four horsemen of the apocalypse and the end of days.  We’ll see if it lasts more than a season.

The future

Right now, the only thing we’re both looking forward to is JMS’s Sense8, his Netflix series.

I’m going to check out Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, just ‘cause, but I’ve learned not to pin too many hopes on new network series.

I’m also going to check out the Tomorrow People and Almost Human.  We’ll see if either of those series live up to my expectations.

What series have you loved?  Which have you hated?  What are you looking forward to?  And what shows have you learned from as a writer?

Continuous learning 🙂  That’s what it’s all about.