"I prefer a different Star Trek metaphor. Purim is the day that we reunite the disparate aspects of ourselves bifurcated by transporter and spiritual accidents. It is the day when we acknowledge both our physical and spiritual selves and the need for both. It is the holiday when we dare to say that even in the throes of the Evil Inclination, we are not such terrible people, and we are capable of great good." -- Rabbi Moshe Rosenberg, "Five Reasons Spock Was the Quintessential Jew" 2015-03-03
[To those honouring the Fast of Esther today, may you have an easy fast, and to those celebrating Purim tonight and tomorrow, may you have a joyous celebration. Send me some hamantaschen, eh?]
Most recently I have seen "Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play," which I very much wanted to see based on Nick Mamatas's review but didn't realize until I saw an ad for it on a bus that I could in fact go see it.
It begins not long after a kind of apocalypse, seemingly started off by a plague that left too few people able to staff nuclear plants, leading to meltdowns. The survivors, in between trying to find news of their families and information about the nuclear danger, start to piece together, from memories, an episode of The Simpsons.
I remember when the 2011 earthquake and tsunami caused the nuclear crisis in Fukushima - how the English media was at least 24 hours behind the Japanese media and often altogether wrong, how the Japanese media wasn't doing much better given the PR and ass-covering coming out of the government and TEPCO. And I was scrambling to learn the necessary vocabulary, and dig up every decent news source I could find, not because there was any danger to me personally, not because there was anything useful I could do with this information, but because the question of how bad things could really get wouldn't let me go. So this play hit at those fears for me in a very visceral way. (I am not sure that I am actually against nuclear power even now, just because global warming is a bigger danger, but I think it was pretty smart on the playwright's part to slip just enough information about how things could go wrong into a fun pop-culturey post-apocalyptic play.)
I liked its depiction of the theater world, such as it is after the apocalypse - how technical discussions are inevitably also aesthetic discussions. I liked the "commercials" that provide a window on memories of an easier life. But mostly I think I appreciated it as a play about transformative works. How the society that survives moves from memory and authenticity - things which it will never be able to totally recapture - towards repurposing the raw materials of 20th/21st century pop culture and reprocessing them into a way to tell its own stories and process its traumas. I can't see a play like that without thinking of fanfiction, of vidding, of every meme that mutates endlessly as it spreads across Tumblr. The fan community reprocessed The Winter Soldier into a story that I liked so much that I was disappointed by the actual movie, just like I imagine the real "Cape Feare" would look irrelevant and incomprehensible to one of the hypothetical viewers of the reconstructed mystery-play version. This is the play I'd want to show the courts, when transformative works come up for discussion.
Click to read the linkback poem "To Choose a Direction" (Heliodrax, 17 verses available).
What Is a Poetry Fishbowl?
Writing is usually considered a solitary pursuit. One exception to this is a fascinating exercise called a "fishbowl." This has various forms, but all of them basically involve some kind of writing in public, usually with interaction between author and audience. A famous example is Harlan Ellison's series of "stories under glass" in which he sits in a bookstore window and writes a new story based on an idea that someone gives him. Writing classes sometimes include a version where students watch each other write, often with students calling out suggestions which are chalked up on the blackboard for those writing to use as inspiration.
In this online version of a Poetry Fishbowl, I begin by setting a theme; today's theme is "surviving the worst." I invite people to suggest characters, settings, and other things relating to that theme. Then I use those prompts as inspiration for writing poems.
I'm practicing cyberfunded creativity. If you enjoy what I'm doing and want to see more of it, please feed the Bard. The following options are currently available:
1) Sponsor the Fishbowl -- Here is a PayPal button for donations. There is no specific requirement, but $1 is the minimum recommended size for PayPal transactions since they take a cut from every one. You can also donate via check or money order sent by postal mail. If you make a donation and tell me about it, I promise to use one of your prompts. Anonymous donations are perfectly welcome, just won't get that perk. General donations will be tallied, and at the end of the fishbowl I’ll post a list of eligible poems based on the total funding; then the audience can vote on which they want to see posted.
2) Swim, Fishie, Swim! -- A feature in conjunction with fishbowl sponsorship is this progress meter showing the amount donated. There are multiple perks, the top one being a half-price poetry sale on one series when donations reach $300.
3) Buy It Now! -- Gakked from various e-auction sites, this feature allows you to sponsor a specific poem. If you don't want to wait for some editor to buy and publish my poem so you can read it, well, now you don't have to. Sponsoring a poem means that I will immediately post it on my blog for everyone to see, with the name of the sponsor (or another dedicate) if you wish; plus you get a nonexclusive publication right, so you can post it on your own blog or elsewhere as long as you keep the credits intact. You'll need to tell me the title of the poem you want to sponsor. I'm basing the prices on length, and they're comparable to what I typically make selling poetry to magazines (semi-pro rates according to Duotrope's Digest).
0-10 lines: $5
11-25 lines: $10
26-40 lines: $15
41-60 lines: $20
Poems over 60 lines, or with very intricate structure, fall into custom pricing.
4) Commission a scrapbook page. I can render a chosen poem in hardcopy format, on colorful paper, using archival materials for background and any embellishments. This will be suitable for framing or for adding to a scrapbook. Commission details are here. See latest photos of sample scrapbooked poems: "Sample Scrapbooked Poems 1-24-11"
5) Spread the word. Echo or link to this post on your LiveJournal, other blog, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Digg, StumbleUpon, or any other social network. Useful Twitter hashtags include #poetryfishbowl and #promptcall. Encourage people to come here and participate in the fishbowl. If you have room for it, including your own prompt will give your readers an idea of what the prompts should look like; ideally, update later to include the thumbnail of the poem I write, and a link to the poem if it gets published. If there is at least one new prompter or donor, I will post an extra freebie poem.
Linkback perk: I have a spare series poem available, and each linkback will reveal a verse of the poem. One person can do multiple links if they're on different services, like Dreamwidth or Twitter, rather than all on LiveJournal. Comment with a link to where you posted. "To Choose a Direction" belongs to Heliodrax and has 17 verses available.
1) I customarily post replies to prompt posts telling people which of their prompts I'm using, with a brief description of the resulting poem(s). If you want to know what's available, watch for those "thumbnails."
2) You don't have to pay me to see a poem based on a prompt that you gave me. I try to send copies of poems to people, mostly using the LJ message function. (Anonymous prompters will miss this perk unless you give me your eddress.) These are for-your-eyes-only, though, not for sharing.
3) Sponsors of the Poetry Fishbowl in general, or of specific poems, will gain access to an extra post in appreciation of their generosity. While you're on the Donors list, you can view all of the custom-locked posts in that category. Click the "donors" tag to read the archive of those. I've also posted a list of other donor perks there. I customarily leave donor names on the list for two months, so you'll get to see the perk-post from this month and next.
4) After the Poetry Fishbowl concludes, I will post a list of unsold poems and their prices, to make it easier for folks to see what they might want to sponsor.
5) If donations total $100 by Friday evening then you get a free $15 poem; $150 gets you a free $20 poem; and $200 gets you a free epic, posted after the Poetry Fishbowl. These will usually be series poems if I have them; otherwise I may offer non-series poems or series poems in a different size. If donations reach $250, you get one step toward a bonus fishbowl; three of these activates the perk, and they don't have to be three months in a row. Everyone will get to vote on which series, and give prompts during the extra fishbowl, although it may be a half-day rather than a whole day. If donations reach $300, there will be a half-price sale in one series.
Feed the Fish!
Now's your chance to participate in the creative process by posting ideas for me to write about. Today's theme is "surviving the worst." I'll be soliciting ideas for urvivors, desperate people, heroes, villains, innocent bystanders, being prepared, facing challenges, solving problems, thinking outside the box, proving yourself, glorious success, abject failure, damage along the way, souvenirs and mementos, the bad part of town, dungeons, doom planets, the wilderness, that place everybody told you not to go but you did anyway, situations where the deck is stacked, shipwrecks or other transportation failures, endings and beginnings, worst case scenarios, whatever doesn't kill me had better run for its life, the end of the world as we know it, survival skills, coping skills, and poetic forms in particular. But anything is welcome, really. If you manage to recommend a form that I don't recognize, I will probably pounce on it and ask you for its rules. I do have the first edition of Lewis Turco's The Book of Forms which covers most common and many obscure forms.
I'll post at least one of the fishbowl poems here so you-all can enjoy it. (Remember, you get an extra freebie poem if someone new posts a prompt or makes a donation, and additional perks at $100-$300 in donations. Linkbacks reveal verses of "Unfamiliar Feelings.") The rest of the poems will go into my archive for magazine submission.
BTW, the Paul Newman icon is from Nobody's Fool, a movie about a guy who has built a small-town life in a community where he's not a Success -- but instead is irreplaceable. The actors around him include Jessica Tandy (his landlady, who was also his fourth-grade teacher), Bruce Willis (his boss, a jerk who pays him off the books to keep it cheap) and Melanie Griffith (the boss's wife, who is angry at being cheated on and who lets Bruce know unforgettably -- let's say it happens with his pants down, in public). And the brainy Philip Seymour Hoffman, as possibly the stupidest small-town cop who ever existed. The dialogue is perfect, and it was filmed on location in the Mohawk Valley, NY, in the winter; you can just about feel the cold coming off the screen. It is not big and splashy. It is the size of life, with memories, and good luck, and people taking care of each other (or not). And it may be my very favorite older-Paul-Newman movie, even surpassing The Verdict. Buy a lottery ticket on this movie and give it a chance. You might be surprised.
|Melody Wildflower Kelly:||There are federal subsidies to mad scientists?|
|Helen Beta Narbon:||Mm-hmm. The Nussbaum Fellowship for Evil Studie and the Carlo Lombardi Useless Science Grant. Lifesavers. They were establihed during the Reagan administration -- one of the few additions to the domestic budget. Our industry was very ... helpful to the administration.|
|M. Kelly:||Mad scientists created Star Wars technology?|
|H. Narbon:||Mad scientists created Ronald Reagan.|
|M. Kelly:||I see.|
|H. Narbon:||Of course, this was before it became policy for all presidential candidates to be assembled in a lab in Minnesota|
-- from Narbonic by Shaenon K. Garrity, 2000-11-17
Reports obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity show that the oil industry has illegally dumped almost three billion gallons of wastewater from fracking (hydraulic fracturing to extract oil and gas from deep underground) into aquifers in central California. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, the leaking occurred through at least nine injection disposal […]
The post Oil Industry Illegally Dumps Fracking Wastewater into California’s Aquifers appeared first on Project Censored.
Dozens of communities in the Carajás region of northeast Brazil are challenging the water and air pollution caused by Vale SA, a Brazilian corporation that is one of the world’s top producers of iron ore, Fatima Hansia reports for Corp Watch. “This is not the development we want. We have more money in our pockets […]
The post Communities Challenge Brazilian Mining Giant’s Environmental Impacts appeared first on Project Censored.
California has approved water rights agreements for five times more water than is actually available. As Becky Ferreira reports, a study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters by researchers at UC-Davis and UC-Merced documents how the State Water Resources Control Board and its predecessors have been over allocating water rights for the last hundred […]
The post Drought-Stricken California Endangered by Water Ponzi Scheme appeared first on Project Censored.
Greg Palast reported on the computer system known as “Interstate Crosscheck”, which can supposedly identify anyone who commits the crime of voting twice in the same election in two different states. Twenty-seven states (most of which are Republican held) participated in its use and have compiled a list of some seven million suspects, none of […]
The post Interstate Crosscheck—Republican Plot Denies Voters Poll Access appeared first on Project Censored.
In service of corporate capital, the Pentagon and NATO have been encircling Russia and China with military bases and missile defense systems with a vested interest in the region’s natural resources, Bruce K. Gagnon reports. The US has established military bases in Romania and Bulgaria with plans for another in Albania, contributing to the surrounding […]
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) is under investigation in a 2014 India Supreme Court case for funding Merck’s HPV vaccine trials of Gardasil, despite knowing the serious adverse reactions, injuries and deaths caused by treatment. According to a report by published by Narayana Kumar in The Economic Times of India, several tests had […]
The post Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Held Accountable for Vaccine Fraud in India appeared first on Project Censored.
Ritual killings in Tanzania of people with albinism continue to increase according to reports released by United Nations human rights officials. Rooted in superstition and carried out through tradition, people are mutilating children and adults with albinism for witchcraft purposes. The attacks peak during political elections, as politicians pay thousands of dollars to obtain body […]
The post Ritual Killings of People with Albinism Increases in Tanzania appeared first on Project Censored.
The year 2014 was exceptionally devastating for Palestinian children, the human rights organization Defence for Children International-Palestine (DCI-Palestine) reports. Over 500 children have been killed by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) 50-day military offensive on the Gaza Strip. Several hundred thousand more have been injured, left homeless, or traumatized after the IDF’s latest campaign. “Kids […]
The post Palestinian Children Killed, Injured at Highest Rate Ever in 2014 appeared first on Project Censored.
Compared with other capitalist countries, the U.S. is unquestionably different when it comes to the level of state violence directed against minorities, reports Richard Becker. Using 2011 figures, Becker reports that, on a per capita basis, “the rate of killing by U.S. police was about 100 times that of English cops in 2011.” Similarly, U.S. […]
The post US Police Kill at Rates up to 100 Times Greater than in UK, Germany and Canada appeared first on Project Censored.
Although both the corporate and progressive press focused public attention on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s December 2014 report on the CIA’s secret program of abductions, “brutal” interrogations, and torture of terrorism suspects, Nafeez Ahmed reports that media coverage of the Senate report has “whitewashed the extent to which torture has always been an integral and […]
The post Media “Whitewash” Integral Role of Torture in US Intelligence appeared first on Project Censored.
British intelligence services have “routinely been intercepting legally privileged communications between lawyers and their clients in sensitive security cases,” reported Owen Bowcott in the Guardian. Internal documents from MI5 (the UK’s domestic counter-intelligence and security agency), MI6 (the British Secret Intelligence Service) and GCHQ (the Government Communications Headquarters) reviewed by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal document […]
The post UK Intelligence Agencies Violate Lawyer-Client Privacy Privilege appeared first on Project Censored.
In recent years methane levels have reached an all time high. A greenhouse gas that is one leading contributor to global warming, methane is far more destructive than carbon dioxide. In his report for Truthout, Dahr Jamail quotes Paul Beckwith, a professor of climatology and meteorology at the University of Ottawa: “Our climate system is […]
Hosts Peter Phillips and Miya McHugh examine LGBT issues in contemporary America. The first guest, Sonoma State University sociologist James Joseph Dean, discusses his new book “Straights;” Dean contends that today’s “post-closeted” queer community has changed all of American society. Later in the program, a queer-youth perspective from College of Marin student Caitlin McCoy. Listen to the radio show […]
From the Quotation of the day mailing list, 2014-05-20:
"The goal of the project is to raise that question of how do we know what's best, or what is humane treatment and also to look at how we treat ourselves. We're living in these little boxes, just like chickens." -- Austin Stewart, an assistant professor in Iowa State University's College of Design, on his speculative Second Livestock program. Second Livestock envisions virtual-reality headsets that could be put on chicken to provide an illusion of a free-range life.
(submitted to the mailing list by Terry Labach)
Right now I can't remember which of the movies it was where Sarek, who had distrusted Spock's involvement with Starfleet, comes to him and tells him that he approves of Spock's friends, that they are good people, of good moral character. And Spock simply says, "They are my friends."
You were a friend to all of us, through Spock, and through yourself, your generosity with fans, and your willingness to continue going where no one had gone before. What you gave us is beyond words: a vision of infinite diversity in infinite combinations that had not been seen till then, and that we are living toward now.
ETA to the reader: Leonard Nimoy continued to do voice work on NOVA and many other programs over his lifetime, along with everything else. Do not be surprised if you hear his voice in narration from your television.
It's very friendly. It assures me in the second chapter (the first chapter is "figure out the subject of the sentence!") that it's fine to learn just 250-300 of the most important vocabulary words, because you'll have footnotes for the rest. This is not very relevant unless you're actually taking a high school Classical Japanese class, but still, it feels quite reassuring compared to the "Everyone else has been studying this SINCE HIGH SCHOOL and you are so far behind" that I felt when I got to Japan.
Sei Shonagon is the best.
The face of a child drawn on a melon.
A baby of two or so is crawling, rapidly along the ground. With his sharp eyes he catches sight of a tiny object and, picking it up with his pretty little fingers, takes it to show to a grown-up person.
A baby sparrow that comes hopping up when one imitates the squeak of a mouse; or again, when one has tied it with a thread round its leg and its parents bring insects or worms and pop them in its mouth: delightful!
One picks up a pretty baby and holds him for a while in one's arms; while one is fondling him, he clings to one's neck and then falls asleep.
Pretty, white chicks who are still not fully fledged and look as if their clothes are too short for them; cheeping loudly, they follow one on their long legs, or walk close to the mother hen.
(Ivan Morris's translation.)
My study book tells me something interesting I didn't know before about The Pillow Book. The famous first line is literally something like "In spring it is the dawn," but translators (translating it into modern Japanese or English) have usually interpolated "...that is most beautiful" or something like that. Ivan Morris has "In spring it is the dawn that is most beautiful." But apparently, the modern scholarship is that we should maybe treat it as part of a conversation already in progress, talking about the different seasons and what times of day are the most wintry in winter, or spring-like in spring, and you can just start off more literally: "In spring it is the dawn."
2. Meanwhile, over on tumblr, the news that Yahoo will start filtering out adult content to make the site safer for children is making a feeble splash. People are Very Upset about a striped dress.
In this interview Alejandro Castro Espín, Doctor of Political Science and social researcher openly shares his thoughts regarding the reestablishment of relations between Cuba and the United States. He also explains how Cuban participatory democracy works and his perception of the future of Cuba. Castro Espin was in Athens during the first two […]
Thanx to Charles P. Pierce.