Guest Blog, Reblog

On Love and Letters: Writing for Those You Know | Kristen Twardowski

Though I write with terrifying frequency, I fail at an essential type of writing; letters make me fumble. They cause me to be tongue-tied and stuttery. Cards that I give to friends and family are inevitably filled with long spaces and smudges where I have paused to think or where I have decided that […]

via On Love and Letters: Writing for Those You Know — Kristen Twardowski

Book Review, Guest Blog

Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World | Finding Wonderland

Book review by Tanita Davis via Finding Wonderland 2/7/2017.

Synopsis: To me, this book is about identity, and how we live it out in our individual ways. The book is divided into Beginning the Journey, Bodies & Minds, Gender & Sexuality, Pop Culture, Relationships, Confidence & Ambition, and finally concludes with Go Your Own Way, which touches on the many ways people can be feminists. Each section has between 8 – 15 essays, cartoons, lists, glossaries, illustrations, songs, or doodles on the subject, written by people of various identities and abilities. Readers feel welcomed into the book from any direction. I started out reading from the front cover, and then flipped to a cartoon, circled back to another essay, and then read specific essays on various topics after that. Eventually, I made my way through everything.

Observations: Feminism is a concept which, when one is familiar with a world which lacks intersectionality, one does not necessarily expect to find oneself. To be blunt: I didn’t really think this book was for me. Full disclosure: I’ve met and quite like the editor, I’ve met some of the poets and artists and essayists, but… Feminism. It’s not an identity I’ve had time to explore.

As a woman of color, feminism seemed like unto yoga: something a lot of white women get into seriously and give side-eye at other people for not quite belonging. As a person raised in faith and wrestling with relating a tradition-bound religious patriarchy to an allegedly loving and equality creating Divinity, feminism seemed like something both too deep and too complicated to add to the mix. And yet: shouldn’t anyone who believes in human equality be feminist? I realized I wasn’t quite sure anymore what feminism was supposed to be… and I thought this book would be perfect since it’s aimed at teens, and I know that books for younger readers often help adult readers get a grip on a concept. I sat down and tried to read with an open mind.

Almost at once, I found a few favorite pieces which spoke to my heart, among them Lisa Prince’s So I Guess This Is Growing Up, about her struggles with being a misogynist to becoming feminist; Kaye Mirza’s Faith and the Feminist (“As long as I practice my faith, to many, I am nothing but a secondhand feminist.”); the beautifully drawn, The Princess and the Witch by Wendy Xu; Ashley Hope Pérez’s The “Nice Girl” Feminist, and 5 Tips for “Nice Girl” Feminists. It was like seeing a pair of signal flags waving from the runway saying, “Your Spot Right Here.” There’s this feeling of, “Oh! Huh,” when you find your tribe and didn’t expect it.

Conclusion: This book is something which should simply be experienced. I’m not big on gushing, especially about books done by friends. I try to be objective and restrained. But, I just think this book is worth buying – for anyone. For everyone. I can’t be more objective than that. The little arrows on the front that say “Here We Are” are for you, too. You’re Here. We all are – and it’s a surprise and a hopeful little blessing.

I purchased my copy of this book. You can find HERE WE ARE: FEMINISM FOR THE REAL WORLD edited by Kelly Jensen, at an online e-tailer, or at a real life, independent bookstore near you!

Guest Blog, Reblog

How I Got My Attention Back | Craig Mod (Backchannel)

Technology is commanding our attention in infinite, insurmountable loops. A country trip off-grid helped me escape.

by Craig Mod via Backchannel

For twenty-eight days this winter I lived on the grounds of an old estate down in central Virginia, next to a town called — terrifyingly — Lynchburg, making good on a residency I had been offered by the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. I had done other residencies before, and knew in order to eke out maximum productivity, internet disconnection was nonnegotiable. And so it began, the day after the election: my month without the internet.

It felt like a cop-out—like I wasn’t allowed to escape the “real world” so easily. But the quieter my mind became, and the deeper I went into my own work, the more I realized how my always-on, always-connected state had rendered me largely useless.

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone,” wrote Blaise Pascal. Did any of us remember how to sit quietly, alone, without a phone in hand? I certainly didn’t. By the time the curtain closed on act one of our political tragedy, if there was action to be taken, I was in no state to take it. I had long since lost control of my attention.

I want my attention back.

That was the first thought I had the morning after the election. I woke. The crushing weight of a new reality reimposed itself on my mind. And then: I want my attention back.

I walked Brooklyn. At best, everyone was funereal. At worst, in tears, inconsolable. It’s impossible to overstate just how dour the world felt at that moment (and continues to feel in more surreal and horrifying ways since).

The entire city — country? world? — had been infected by a terminal disease, the prime vector of which was memes. As I made my way to the rat-maze of Penn Station to board an eight-hour Amtrak train headed for Virginia, the faces continued to flash by and I couldn’t help but think: When was the last time any of us had control of our attentions?

In “Gravity and Grace,” Simone Weil writes, “Attention, taken to its highest degree, is the same thing as prayer. It presupposes faith and love.” Then is the lack of attention the opposite? Does it presuppose fear and hate?

It had been a long time since my attention was mine. As the feelings of that day — of that eight-hour train ride past an America that suddenly felt very foreign — spread into the next and the next, I tried to think back to when my attention was something I could manipulate confidently. I couldn’t remember.

Was it pre-Snapchat or Instagram Stories? Before everything was filtered through a real-time performance? Pre-vlogs? Before palatable young white guys who say “bruh” with alarming frequency spun daily monologues into Sony HD cams for audiences of millions? Before every meal and outfit had to be posed, captured, and #tagged. Or pre-Grinder and pre-Tinder? When fantasies born on the crucible of YouPorn (or is it PornHub?) weren’t so easy to make real, nightly?

Was I being too hard on technology? Were we all? Technology is such an easy scapegoat. But it feels so right to point our fingers — It must have been the fake news. It must have been Facebook. It must have been Twitter. It must have been Reddit forums.

It was none of these things. It was all of these things. Whatever it was, it robbed us of our attention and, with that, our compassion. But the network never meant to harm us. Hell, it was made by a gaggle of geeks in rooms without windows in the suburbs of Geneva. That’s either the most endearing image, or the most creepy.

Regardless, down in Virginia, on a repurposed plantation: I want my attention back. The thought wouldn’t let go.

Continue reading at the source, Backchannel.

Guest Blog, Reblog

The River’s Edge | Riverdale Pilot Commentary (via CBF)

Obviously the inspiration for this adaptation, particularly in tone, is more owed to the recently rebooted Archie comics than the old school originals that began in the golden age of comics during the 1940s. So going in with that and the fact that it’s a modern day teen show on the CW with a mysterious […]

via The River’s Edge | Riverdale Pilot Commentary — Comic Book Fetish

Guest Blog, Quotes

Advice from Warren Ellis, Internet Jesus

In this week’s edition of his newsletter, Orbital Operations, writer of all trades and legendary Internet Jesus Warren Ellis offered the following bits of sage advice for us all to perform our own lifehack in these unprecedented times. Take heed, if you want to survive.

“If you’re on social media, make your account private, and use it to be social. Use it with your friends. 

If you rely on social media for news, do this. 1) Don’t use Facebook for news. I mean, just don’t. Facebook’s values are not your own, and they have their own rules for what you get to see. So just don’t. 2) Twitter has a function called Lists. So go to a Twitter account, press the little cog icon on the right, and select Add Or Remove From Lists. Create a list, and you can add people to it without actually following them.

The term “attention economy” seems to be making a comeback in 2017. Your attention is valuable. Also, the confusing and scattering of your attention is valuable. Overwhelming you into making bad or unfocused choices is valuable. Take back your attention.

And for god’s sake, stick a passcode on your phone this week. Six is okay, I’m told eleven is better. And turn off Touch ID before you go through an airport – that’s a thing I keep hearing.

(Addition to last week’s notes: favcleaner will wipe out your entire Twitter likes history, slowly. It will post to your account once – just delete the tweet.)

Find your news. I read The Guardian, BBC News and Foreign Policy every morning, as well as Politico and Axios daily newsletters, and I recently bought access to The Washington Post and put Reuters on my home screen.

Find your people. Do it offline. If you’re worried, turn your phone off before you leave the house to go to a meeting, and don’t turn it back on until you’re well away from the meeting place. Or leave it at home entirely, and carry a burner with a removeable battery.

Change your goddamn passwords and don’t buy any of that IoT shit.

Also, this.

“Trump administration officials are discussing the possibility of asking foreign visitors to disclose all websites and social media sites they visit, and to share the contacts in their cell phones. If the foreign visitor declines to share such information, he or she could be denied entry”

This isn’t unexpected, and the ground has already been laid for it, in the updated ESTA and in the questioning of journalists at customs in the US over their LinkedIn accounts last year.

Sorry to be such a huge downer, but these are times for protection.

Come and sit by me. I have whisky, and I like fires.”

Do yourself a favor and subscribe to the Orbital Operations newsletter here.

Warren Ellis is the award-winning writer of graphic novels like TRANSMETROPOLITAN, FELL, MINISTRY OF SPACE and PLANETARY, and the author of the NYT-bestselling GUN MACHINE and the “underground classic” novel CROOKED LITTLE VEIN, as well as the digital short-story single DEAD PIG COLLECTOR.  His newest book is the novella NORMAL, from FSG Originals.

The movie RED is based on his graphic novel of the same name, its sequel having been released in summer 2013.  IRON MAN 3 is based on his Marvel Comics graphic novel IRON MAN: EXTREMIS.   He is currently developing his graphic novel sequence with Jason Howard, TREES, for television, in concert with HardySonBaker and NBCU, and continues to work as a screenwriter and producer in film and television, represented by Angela Cheng Caplan and Cheng Caplan Company.

He’s written extensively for VICE, WIRED UK and Reuters on technological and cultural matters, and given keynote speeches and lectures at events like dConstruct, ThingsCon, Improving Reality, SxSW, How The Light Gets In and Cognitive Cities.

Warren Ellis is currently working on a non-fiction book about the future of the city for FSG Originals, serialising new graphic novel works like TREES and INJECTION at Image Comics, and developing and curating the revival of the Wildstorm creative library for DC Entertainment.

A documentary about his work, CAPTURED GHOSTS, was released in 2012.

Recognitions include the NUIG Literary and Debating Society’s President’s Medal for service to freedom of speech, the EAGLE AWARDS Roll Of Honour for lifetime achievement in the field of comics & graphic novels, the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire 2010, the Sidewise Award for Alternate History and the International Horror Guild Award for illustrated narrative.  He is a Patron of the British Humanist Association, an Associate of the Institute of Atemporal Studies, and the literary editor of EDICT magazine.

Warren Ellis lives outside London, on the south-east coast of England, in case he needs to make a quick getaway.



Guest Blog, Reblog

On the Importance of Strong Female Characters | Devon L. Miller

Trust Me, I'm a Writer

sfc-heading-pic From the Women’s March; Seattle, WA; January 21, 2017

I was fortunate enough to attend the Women’s March on Seattle, a sister to the Women’s March on Washington DC. Before I lose you, I have no intention of talking politics in this post. What I am going to talk about is something I can’t believe is still controversial: the importance of strong female characters in fiction.

As I marched with 175,000 other humans (the estimate at the time of this writing), I noticed countless signs referencing some of my favorite female badasses from fiction. I took in multiple nods to space rebels, vampire slayers, and warrior princesses and knew—without a doubt—that every last person who argues that female heroes aren’t interesting or “won’t sell” is absolutely full of shit. I saw little girls in Wonder Woman costumes and Princess/General Leia t-shirts (I was wearing a General Leia shirt myself), and knew—without…

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