Things That Make Me Smile No.137: The Amazing Octopus

Like many Victorians, I am fascinated by the octopus even though they’ve never appeared in my steampunk adventure, The Steamship Chronicles. This is a truly alien species with apparent intelligence and amazing adaptability. However, I had not known this particular adaptation was possible until now. I can just imagine Sam’s curiosity should she come face to face with such a creature, though I suspect she’d go looking for gears faster than she’d accept a water creature could leave its habitat so thoroughly.

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5 Interesting Links for 01-19-2018

Note: Videos may auto start with sound so be prepared.

Comics (Interesting People)

How Kelly Sue DeConnick uses social media to raise the visibility of female artists in the comic field.

Trauma (Psychology)

The genetics of PTSD sufferers and their children reveals a surprising genetic connection when the transmission of PTSD across generations had been thought to be learned behavior alone.

Octopus (Intelligence)

A look at octopus behavior and neurology as related to the question of their intelligence. I, personally, feel we put a lot of effort into looking at things sideways to avoid the question, but I appreciated how this article lays out specific events and the possible meanings without pushing either interpretation.

Technique (Promotion)

Marketing suggestions with an eye to a sustainable author marketing effort.

Philosophy (Steampunk)

A look at how punk philosophy informs and is changed by its manifestations in steampunk and related genres.

Box Set 1 The Steamship Chronicles

Posted in Culture, Interesting Links, Interesting People, Promoting, Psychology, Research | Leave a comment

Totally Starcross’d by S.D. Wasley

Totally Starcross’d by S.D. WasleyThis is a delightfully modern look at Romeo and Juliet. Romilly and Julian meet as strangers at a political debate. They discover much in common, including their political outlooks, but she doesn’t know he’s the son of the conservative candidate she tears down in front of Julian, and he has no idea Romilly’s much more than a simple supporter of the progressive candidate. This ignorance doesn’t last long, but it’s enough for them to feel a connection stronger than their obligations.

The novella is written in short scenes that switch back and forth between the two perspectives in a way that took a little getting used to, but ultimately I found effective to keep me aware of both the obvious and subtext in each encounter. The author includes a guide in the back to show how this story mirrors the original play, but I knew the play well enough to see, and appreciate, the moments as they came up.

Speaking of subtext, the dialogue is wonderfully written, and the counterpart in their thoughts offers more depth, especially in the beginning when the reader knows both of their true identities before they do. Even with the close parallels to the play giving me a clear idea of how things would develop, the writing kept me engaged until the story became very serious very quickly. The author found a way to translate the sword fights in an all too current way that put Romilly and Julian on the wrong sides of a major conflict.

This is a well-written, relevant rendition of Romeo and Juliet that manages to hit almost all the high and low points of the play without forcing them. Where it deviates the most is in how the families react to the discovery of Romilly and Julian’s relationship. That felt both realistic and true to the importance of family.

The novella is very modern in how it addresses homophobia, political corruption, and classism, however, along with the conflicts between teens and their parents. It definitely has a serious side to balance out the repartee. I’m impressed and very much enjoyed this sweet tale of young love caught between warring political families.

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Things That Make Me Smile No.136: Creativity and the Internet

There’s been a lot of talk about how the Internet has destroyed creativity, how kids don’t get outside, how people don’t do things anymore, and instead just view. It started with the television, and yes, home computers have increased both sedentary and screen time, but it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s a choice.

I’ve posted videos or sites before that offer hands on science and creativity exercises, but more often than not, I find the concepts very cool then don’t actually do anything to try them. Because of this, I want to share how the Internet helped me get ready for my husband’s company holiday party by integrating creativity and availability.

It all started when my husband mentioned his final preparations for his costume, something he’d mentioned before, but which hadn’t sunk in enough to do anything about it. Apparently, the organizing team had decided to encourage folks to dress up in one of the many eras represented in the National Auto Museum, where the event would be held.

I’d been looking forward to the party in part because I’d never had the chance to go to the museum, and my husband had told me it had a whole display of steam vehicles with era appropriate costumes. If I’d thought ahead, I might have had a steampunk costume prepared seeing as The Steamship Chronicles is steampunk, but I haven’t transitioned from the page to costuming on anything but a small scale.

Instead, I had to use what I had around the house. Luckily, I had a lovely kerchief dress I’d inherited from my mother along with a ton of random stone jewelry collected over the years. The only hitch came in my decision to cut my hair short a few weeks before the party. That’s where the Internet came in.

I envisioned something from the flower child era which most likely had its roots in the 1920s Flapper styles. I could wear a headband with a flower. The idea took root, but it was a winter party, and I didn’t have access to flowers, but I always have printer paper lying around. I searched the net for origami flowers, had a few false starts, and finally came upon these instructions for a lotus, which not only seemed doable but should be easy to clip to a headband. The last part turned into its own tale of trials and failures, but that’s for another time. The origami proved difficult, especially when I jumped on this instruction without considering the differences between heavy bond printer paper and true origami paper:

For additional layers, repeat this step an additional time. It will make the flower a little more difficult to work with, but it’ll add four extra petals. Be sure to make your creases very sharp.

Still, the result was useable and helped make the costume, especially because the chilly temperatures meant I wore a brightly colored shawl most of the night.

Origami flower

What about you? Have you researched some random creative idea and brought it to life? Did you use the Internet or use a book from the library? That’s what I used to, though not usually with such a short deadline.

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5 Interesting Links for 01-12-2018

Note: Videos may auto start with sound so be prepared.

Photography (Interesting People)

A late 1800s photographer used a spy camera to capture candid photos of people on the street, giving us a glimpse of daily life.

Hair (Digital Art)

A good step-by-step lesson on making hair textures for 3D art. I use GIMP and did some tweaking to get a result closer to Photoshop, but this is a great starting point.

Editing (Writing)

A look at what a good editor does and why it is important.

Society (Success)

A look at how the myth of meritocracy lays the blame on those without access for not excelling so nothing needs to be done to equalize opportunity.

Brain Food (Health)

A personal experiment on following a forgiving diet designed to enhance brain activity and ability.

Uncommon Lords and Ladies Twitter Sharable

Posted in Art, Music, Crafts, etc., Education, History, Interesting Links, Research, Writing | 7 Comments