Monthly Archives: June 2015

Signal Boost: Let’s Keep Being Awesome, America!

My friend Tam has an excellent post on the Pine Ridge Shootout. Go read it now.

And I know it’s almost greedy to want anything else from our government, from our justice department this week. I know that in times like these when we FINALLY get things right, we should just say thank you, kind sir, and roll around in our affordable health care and our rainbow flags without the shadow of the Confederate flag in our sunshine backdrop. I get that. The last thing I want to do is put a damper on that.

But, well you see… While celebrating Friday’s Supreme Court ruling and jumping from Facebook to Twitter to see all the love and encouragement–and to laugh at Antonin Scalia (poor thing)–I was also reminded of something else that happened on that day–June 26th–forty years before: The Pine Ridge shootout.

The shoot out between FBI, AIM (American Indian Movement) and GOONS (Guardians of the Oglala Nation) ended with two FBI and one tribe member being killed.

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A Woman on a Mission

If you’re in the NOVA area, take some time to explore old town Manassas; especially the bookstore!

Biscuit City

Prospero's

I sat down last week with Erika Walser, twenty-four-year-old local resident who became the manager of Prospero’s Books on Center Street in Manassas last month. And it didn’t take long to realize that she is a woman on a mission.

“Books are my life. It’s as simple as that,” she stated as mid-morning traffic passed by outside twenty feet away outside the store. She credited her family and her college experience for her love of books and reading. “I had an amazing professor at NOVA,” she smiled, “who really put me on to history.” She then transferred to Virginia Tech and found not all the education took place in the classroom.

“I worked in a dining hall and met local people. Blacksburg is smaller than Manassas, so I could go to Kroger at midnight and see someone I knew. There was truly a sense of community there.”

Walser worked at…

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Patience and Production

These folks are much more patient than I am, that’s for sure. But I admire them greatly. Over 500K dominoes tipped over to represent the seasons. There were a few non-fires, but overall, excellent effort, beautiful planning, and my gods, they have an excellent artist!

How do people find out about these events to attend them anyway? Am I just blind or do they not happen in VA?

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Sunday Night Music: Carry on Wayward Son

Let me preface this with: I don’t actually watch Supernatural, but I am on the internet and have friends who are fans.

Ignoring the entire Supernatural aspect though, this is still a beautiful, tear-jerking arrangement:

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June 21, 2015 · 2:15 pm

Sunday Night Music: Dark Horse

What? You thought Katy Perry? Nah, I prefer this version:

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June 14, 2015 · 1:58 pm

Disparagement to Curiosity

So, I’m a teensy bit of a business wonk. Sort of the way Big Ben is a teensy bit of a clock.

I find this stuff fascinating and I hope you will too.

Recently Ramit Sethi had a post on what he calls the D-to-C principle. What it boils down to is the idea that instead of disparaging a decision one should instead take a moment to figure out *why* the person made the decision. This is especially salient when analysing the decisions of people who are more successful than we are. (Be that a better weight-lifter, a multi-billion dollar company, or a pie crust recipe. <– so much the last. It makes no *sense* why I can’t make a pie crust come out right. I’m missing something.)

Go ahead and read it here, I’ll wait.

Are you back? Great. If you watched the video, you know that Ramit challenged his followers to write down three things which they disparage and instead become curious about them.

I’m going to try that. It will hurt.

Fifty Shades of Grey

– Okay, so what makes this so successful? It builds off of a known success. Yeah, that book right below us. That’s what 50 Shades is part of. (It’s fan fiction with find and replace.) Therefore, the author knew that there’d be a ready and willing audience. She’d even had it up on-line and gotten comments on it. Her decision to have her husband’s company publish it was also smart. When 50 Shades came out, the sheer idea that an S&M based porn book for women would go mad was insane. Still, she knew she could sell it to the people who were her natural fan base. The people who encouraged her originally. That’s a smart idea. So, she started small and built. Then, she made a deal with one of the big six when she’d already established her idea was profitable. The movies built on that success.

  • So what she did really right was building off of something she knew was successful, but did it with her own twist.
  • She established a fan base and sold to them initially.
  • Her fan base was chatty and extroverted and sold her book for her.
  • She did something that no one else seemed to have the balls to do and tried to take S&M mainstream.

(And I quietly weep for humanity and all of the women who have BAD S&M role models now. Ladies, there’s p*rn on the internet. There’s lots of primers on S&M. Search “safe, sane, and consensual.”)  

Twilight 

Gulp. Okay, so vampire who gives up his bitey ways. Girl who falls for him and turns out to be part of a prophecy. Overblown teenage angst and… wait a minute. Got it! Twilight is Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan fiction. It hits a lot of the Buffy-Angel beats with very little of the depth. But, I am reliably assured that 80% of the population can’t follow the cons on Leverage or the plots on Mission:Impossible. That means they’re probably only reading the top-level of the show anyway. Thus, Bella and Edward scratch the Buffy & Angel itch without the deep commitment. 

  • Bella’s flat affect is much like a video game character’s making it easier for people to project themselves onto her.
  • The deep, over-powering romance and emotional connections between people appeal to a large audience who are either having or remember their own teenage years and drama-prone and overwhelming.
  • She chose one part of the vampire mythos and made it her own.
  • She made it a happily ever after instead of killing off a lot of characters. (*Shakes fist at Joss Wheadon*)

None of this means I enjoy the books. I’m not her target. Still, it depresses me when the domestic violence checklist gets filled out and no-one calls the main characters on how creepy it is. (“I watch you when you sleep,” says Angel. “That’s creepy,” says Buffy.) What I need to consider, is can I take the basic building blocks from something familiar and weave them into a story that’s similar enough to be appealing, but original enough to have its own legs. 

Fox News

*Flames* *Flames creeping up my face* Right. Taking a breath here. I am not Fox’s target market. Straight up, not. I am not conservative. I think Rupert Murdoch is an evil spider and I hate that he has his fingers so deeply in my country’s politics and media. That being said, this is about figuring out their success formula. Fox News sells fear. Fear of the other. Fear of the government. Fear of disease. Fear of violence. And it offers salvation in the conservative parties in the US.

  • Fear is an easy sell because human beings are programmed to attend to the dangerous.
  • Conservative mindset makes up about 50% of the population. And people get more conservative through exposure.
  • People are lazy. They assume that the media fact-checks to they don’t have to. Therefore, they don’t verify Fox-facts. Or if they do, they assume that the other sources are biased and they have access to the real truth through Fox. (<– observational study of the many Fox-lovers in my office.)
  • They have researched the best ways to get and keep attention.

(Fair and balanced my assets. Fox is consistently wrong. Persistently racist. And heavily biased towards the conservative mindset. Go watch the BBC for awhile to balance you out if you watch Fox. Seriously. Multiple news streams kids. I read The Wall Street Journal. They’re conservative too. Be aware of your sources. )

That’s about all of that I can stomach tonight. Wow, that got heavier than I thought it would too. Still hate ’em all, but I do understand them a little more because I’ve had to put my thinking down in writing.

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New Short Story Available Free!

Check out “The Dog Prince” at Aurora Wolf

A light fantasy short story featuring a magic wielding lawyer, a matchmaking matriarch, and a unicorn that once was a Mustang.

(Available free until June 2016.)

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Why Genre Writing Matters

I love my genre books so I will add a cheerful “AMEN!” to this and nothing more.

Puckishwird's Blog

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Yesterday i spent a long drive down to Burlington, Wisconsin to play a board game with some old friends. Now, by old, i mean we aren’t old. Older than we were, for sure. But time’s a funny thing. You don’t see it passing, it just does and one day you’re 40 and you haven’t seen those people you grew up with for 20 years or so, but even that time… weird though it is… evaporates as soon as you are in a basement with dice in your hand playing a board game. Just like you used to do.

But this isn’t really about that. Maybe i’ll hold that one off for later.

This is about the writer i heard on the news radio station i was listening to on the way down there. I don’t remember her name, but i can tell you she’s a shakespearean professor of english and…

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