Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Go Fever: short fiction by Patrick Ryan

From Catapult

Understand, we were all feeling a little rattled. Some of us had been in charge of checking the range-safety systems on the rocket boosters. Some of us had been combing over the liquid oxygen and hydrogen lines on the external fuel tank. Some of us — guys like me — had been double- and triple-checking the 31,000 thermal-protection tiles that covered the outside of the orbiter. The people who inspected the body flaps and elevons, the people who maintained the aft control thrusters, even the people who inflated the tires and washed the cabin windows had been involved in the incident. You didn’t have to be the man who’d given the okay to launch on that cold Tuesday morning to feel responsible.

Image also via Catapult

Monday, January 25, 2016

J.K. Rowling on Katrina Pearson

Read more via Buzzfeed

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

HRC endorses Hillary Clinton

Read more at the Human Rights Campaign blog

Image via Wikipedia

Wendell Berry to receive lifetime achievement award

The National Book Critics Circle is awarding their Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award to Kentucky author Wendell Berry!

From the Lexington Herald-Leader

Berry will receive the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, given annually to “a person or institution — a writer, publisher, critic, or editor, among others — who has, over time, made significant contributions to book culture,” according to the National Book Critics Circle website. Previous recipients have included author Toni Morrison and the Library of America.

Berry, 81, is the author of eight novels, two short story collections, 28 volumes of poetry, and 31 volumes of nonfiction. An outspoken environmentalist, organic farmer and pacifist, he has written about and engaged in civil disobedience against industrial agribusiness, ecological destruction, and militarization, the awards announcement noted.

Another Kentucky author Ada Limon has also been nominated for her book of poetry "Bright Dead Things."

See a full list of nominations here: Critical Mass

The awards will be presented March 17 in New York.

Image via The Broad Collective

Friday, January 15, 2016

Eileen Myles For President: On the importance of poetry

Via The New York Times Magazine

Q: Many people would be surprised to hear that according to you, poetry is alive and well in America. Our national political conversation has recently seen some rather unpoetic lurches to the right. How do you make sense of that?

Myles: Poetry always, always, always is a key piece of democracy. It’s like the un-Trump: The poet is the charismatic loser. You’re the fool in Shakespeare; you’re the loose cannon. As things get worse, poetry gets better, because it becomes more necessary.

Myles' I Must Be Living Twice: new & selected poems, 1975-2014 was released last year.

Image via Broadly

Monday, January 11, 2016

David Bowie's Formative Reading List

Via Brain Pickings from a retrospective of Bowie's work at the Art Gallery of Ontario. The list is in chronological order. Here is the first ten.

  1. The Age of American Unreason by Susan Jacoby
  2. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  3. The Coast of Utopia (trilogy) by Tom Stoppard
  4. Teenage: The Creation of Youth 1875-1945 by Jon Savage
  5. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
  6. The Trial of Henry Kissinger by Christopher Hitchens
  7. Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder by Lawrence Weschler
  8. A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution 1890-1924 by Orlando Figes
  9. The Insult by Rupert Thomson
  10. Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon

RIP, David Bowie

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Relationship Goals

We're All a Handful...of Books

From online entertainment mogul, actress, and “queen of the geeks” Felicia Day, a funny, quirky, and inspiring memoir about her unusual upbringing, her rise to Internet-stardom, and embracing her individuality to find success in Hollywood.

The Internet isn’t all cat videos. There’s also Felicia Day — violinist, filmmaker, Internet entrepreneur, compulsive gamer, hoagie specialist, and former lonely homeschooled girl who overcame her isolated childhood to become the ruler of a new world…or at least semi-influential in the world of Internet Geeks and Goodreads book clubs.

After growing up in the south where she was "homeschooled for hippie reasons", Felicia moved to Hollywood to pursue her dream of becoming an actress and was immediately typecast as a crazy cat-lady secretary. But Felicia’s misadventures in Hollywood led her to produce her own web series, own her own production company, and become an Internet star.

Felicia’s short-ish life and her rags-to-riches rise to Internet fame launched her career as one of the most influential creators in new media. Now, Felicia’s strange world is filled with thoughts on creativity, video games, and a dash of mild feminist activism — just like her memoir.

Hilarious and inspirational, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) is proof that everyone should embrace what makes them different and be brave enough to share it with the world, because anything is possible now — even for a digital misfit.

From the author of the award-winning novel Let the Great World Spin and TransAtlantic comes an eponymous novella and three stories that range fluidly across time, tenderly exploring the act of writing and the moment of creation when characters come alive on the page; the lifetime consequences that can come from a simple act; and the way our lives play across the world, marking language, image and each other.

Thirteen Ways of Looking is framed by two author’s notes, each dealing with the brutal attack the author suffered last year and strikes at the heart of contemporary issues at home and in Ireland, the author’s birth place.

Brilliant in its clarity and deftness, this collection reminds us, again, why Colum McCann is considered among the very best contemporary writers.

On December 11, 1973, Mark Segal disrupted a live broadcast of the CBS Evening News when he sat on the desk directly between the camera and news anchor Walter Cronkite, yelling, "Gays protest CBS prejudice!" He was wrestled to the studio floor by the stagehands on live national television, thus ending LGBT invisibility. But this one victory left many more battles to fight, and creativity was required to find a way to challenge stereotypes surrounding the LGBT community. Mark Segal's job, as he saw it, was to show the nation who gay people are: our sons, daughters, fathers, and mothers.

Because of activists like Mark Segal, whose life work is dramatically detailed in this poignant and important memoir, today there are openly LGBT people working in the White House and throughout corporate America. An entire community of gay world citizens is now finding the voice that they need to become visible.

Legendary influential performer Grace Jones offers a revealing account of her spectacular career and turbulent life, charting the development of a persona that has made her one of the world’s most recognizable artists.

As a singer, model, and actress—a deluxe triple threat—Grace has consistently been an extreme, challenging presence in the entertainment world since her emergence as an international model in the 1970s. Celebrated for her audacious talent and trailblazing style, Grace became one of the most unforgettable, free-spirited characters to emerge from the historic Studio 54, recording glittering disco classics such as I Need a Man and La Vie en Rose. Her provocative shows in underground New York nightclubs saw her hailed as a disco queen, gay icon, and gender defying iconoclast.

In 1980, the always ambitious Grace escaped a crowded disco scene to pursue more experimental interests. Her music also broke free, blending house, reggae, and electronica into a timeless hybrid that led to classic hits such as Pull Up to the Bumper and Slave to the Rhythm. In the memoir she once promised never to write, Grace offers an intimate insight into her evolving style, personal philosophies, and varied career—including her roles in the 1984 fantasy-action film Conan the Destroyer alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and the James Bond movie A View to a Kill.

Featuring sixteen pages of stunning full-color photographs, many from her own personal archive, I’ll Never Write My Memoirs follows this ageless creative nomad as she rejects her strict religious upbringing in Jamaica; conquers New York, Paris, and the 1980s; answers to no-one; and lives to fight again and again.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The How to Put a Condom On Video We ALL Needed in High School

I'm pretty sure if this was my instruction on how to put on a condom, I'd still be negative.

Via Accidental Bear

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Kim Davis Defies Judge's Order

Photo by Jessica Ebelhar for The New York Times

MOREHEAD, Ky. — Nearly two months after the Supreme Court declared a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, a county clerk’s office here — in defiance of a federal court order — turned away two gay couples seeking marriage licenses on Thursday, taking a stand that has infuriated gay rights advocates but buoyed Christian conservatives who insist their religious freedoms are being violated.

Kim Davis, the clerk in Rowan County, who says her Christian faith bars her from authorizing same-sex marriages, has refused to issue any licenses, either to same-sex or heterosexual couples. Her actions come in the wake of the historic ruling in June in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, despite a direct order from Gov. Steven L. Beshear, that she do so.

On Wednesday, Judge David L. Bunning of the United States District Court of Eastern Kentucky, ruling in a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of four couples — two same-sex and two heterosexual — ordered Ms. Davis to resume issuing licenses. But lawyers for Ms. Davis immediately appealed, and Thursday morning, Ms. Davis did not show up at work.

“People are cruel, and this is wrong,” said David Ermold, 41, who with his partner, David Moore, 39, went to the clerk’s office here, where they were told that no licenses would be issued today. Roberta Early, a deputy clerk, said the matter was “still under litigation, and nothing has changed, and we still can’t issue them.”

Read more via the NYT

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Check Out Some Books

London awakes one morning to find itself besieged by a sky full of floating icebergs. Destroyed oil rigs, mysteriously reborn, clamber from the sea and onto the land, driven by an obscure but violent purpose. An anatomy student cuts open a cadaver to discover impossibly intricate designs carved into a corpse's bones—designs clearly present from birth, bearing mute testimony to…what?

Of such concepts and unforgettable images are made the twenty-eight stories in this collection—many published here for the first time. By turns speculative, satirical, and heart-wrenching, fresh in form and language, and featuring a cast of damaged yet hopeful seekers who come face-to-face with the deep weirdness of the world—and at times the deeper weirdness of themselves—Three Moments of an Explosion is a fitting showcase for one of our most original voices.

What should be a cozy and fun-filled weekend deep in the English countryside takes a sinister turn in Ruth Ware’s suspenseful, compulsive, and darkly twisted psychological thriller.

Leonora, known to some as Lee and others as Nora, is a reclusive crime writer, unwilling to leave her “nest” of an apartment unless it is absolutely necessary. When a friend she hasn’t seen or spoken to in years unexpectedly invites Nora (Lee?) to a weekend away in an eerie glass house deep in the English countryside, she reluctantly agrees to make the trip. Forty-eight hours later, she wakes up in a hospital bed injured but alive, with the knowledge that someone is dead. Wondering not “what happened?” but “what have I done?”, Nora (Lee?) tries to piece together the events of the past weekend. Working to uncover secrets, reveal motives, and find answers, Nora (Lee?) must revisit parts of herself that she would much rather leave buried where they belong: in the past.

In the tradition of Paula Hawkins's instant New York Times bestseller The Girl On the Train and S. J. Watson’s riveting national sensation Before I Go To Sleep, this gripping literary debut from UK novelist Ruth Ware will leave you on the edge of your seat through the very last page.

Thomas Piketty ― whose Capital in the Twenty-First Century pushed inequality to the forefront of public debate ― wrote The Economics of Inequality as an introduction to the conceptual and factual background necessary for interpreting changes in economic inequality over time. This concise text has established itself as an indispensable guide for students and general readers in France, where it has been regularly updated and revised. Translated by Arthur Goldhammer, The Economics of Inequality now appears in English for the first time.

Piketty begins by explaining how inequality evolves and how economists measure it. In subsequent chapters, he explores variances in income and ownership of capital and the variety of policies used to reduce these gaps. Along the way, with characteristic clarity and precision, he introduces key ideas about the relationship between labor and capital, the effects of different systems of taxation, the distinction between “historical” and “political” time, the impact of education and technological change, the nature of capital markets, the role of unions, and apparent tensions between the pursuit of efficiency and the pursuit of fairness.

Succinct, accessible, and authoritative, this is the ideal place to start for those who want to understand the fundamental issues at the heart of one of the most pressing concerns in contemporary economics and politics.

In his meticulous notes on the natural history of Concord, Massachusetts, Henry David Thoreau records the first open flowers of highbush blueberry on May 11, 1853. If he were to look for the first blueberry flowers in Concord today, mid-May would be too late. In the 160 years since Thoreau’s writings, warming temperatures have pushed blueberry flowering three weeks earlier, and in 2012, following a winter and spring of record-breaking warmth, blueberries began flowering on April 1 — six weeks earlier than in Thoreau’s time. The climate around Thoreau’s beloved Walden Pond is changing, with visible ecological consequences.

In Walden Warming, Richard B. Primack uses Thoreau and Walden, icons of the conservation movement, to track the effects of a warming climate on Concord’s plants and animals. Under the attentive eyes of Primack, the notes that Thoreau made years ago are transformed from charming observations into scientific data sets. Primack finds that many wildflower species that Thoreau observed—including familiar groups such as irises, asters, and lilies—have declined in abundance or have disappeared from Concord. Primack also describes how warming temperatures have altered other aspects of Thoreau’s Concord, from the dates when ice departs from Walden Pond in late winter, to the arrival of birds in the spring, to the populations of fish, salamanders, and butterflies that live in the woodlands, river meadows, and ponds.

Primack demonstrates that climate change is already here, and it is affecting not just Walden Pond but many other places in Concord and the surrounding region. Although we need to continue pressuring our political leaders to take action, Primack urges us each to heed the advice Thoreau offers in Walden: to “live simply and wisely.” In the process, we can each minimize our own contributions to our warming climate.

When Noel Bostock—aged ten, no family—is evacuated from London to escape the Nazi bombardment, he lands in a suburb northwest of the city with Vera Sedge — a thirty-six-year old widow drowning in debts and dependents. Always desperate for money, she’s unscrupulous about how she gets it.

Noel’s mourning his godmother Mattie, a former suffragette. Wise beyond his years, raised with a disdain for authority and an eclectic attitude toward education, he has little in common with other children and even less with the impulsive Vee, who hurtles from one self-made crisis to the next. The war’s provided unprecedented opportunities for making money, but what Vee needs — and what she’s never had — is a cool head and the ability to make a plan.

On her own, she’s a disaster. With Noel, she’s a team.

Together, they cook up a scheme. Crisscrossing the bombed suburbs of London, Vee starts to make a profit and Noel begins to regain his interest in life. But there are plenty of other people making money out of the war — and some of them are dangerous. Noel may have been moved to safety, but he isn’t actually safe at all…

The Original, Uncensored Version of Frankie Goes to Hollywood's Relax

Upon it's initial release, the BBC banned the single Relax, though it continued to be played on some stations and eventually reached No. 2.

Here in the States, Relax was one of my favorite childhood songs. Even as a child, I wondered why the song was played on my country-bumpkin pop station out of Evansville, Indiana. And though I didn't have the words to describe what I knew, I knew the song was about something that I wanted and liked and knew.

I remember having a boyhood, unnameable crush on Paul Rutherford, and now seeing this version of the video, Holly Johnson was everything that I want to be - a clean cut looking perv.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Sweet Dreams

Via Sex, Love, and More Sex

Yesterday Fandom Fest Louisville

My friend Jimmy and I went to Fandomfest in Louisville yesterday. I have another picture to post but first I need to buy the digital copy of it: it's of me and Eva Myles (Gwen Cooper) and Gareth David-Lloyd (Ianto Jones)! Both were very sweet and I had a very enjoyable time - temporary incarceration by members of the Empire notwithstanding.