How to hand letter like an architect

I'm the son of a physician and inherited his poor penmanship. I wish I had the invaluable but dying life skill demonstrated in this video. (via Uncrate)

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Uncanny Japan: a podcast highlighting "all that is weird from old Japan"

Thersa Matsuura was born and raised in the USA but spent the past 25 years -- more than half her life -- living in a small Japanese fishing village with her husband and son. Read the rest

American books are getting swearier

Psych scholars from San Diego State and U Georgia used Google Books to systematically explore the growth of swear-words in published American literature: they conclude that books are getting swearier and that this is a bellwether for a growth in the value of individualism: "Due to the greater valuation of the rights of the individual self, individualistic cultures favor more self-expression in general (Kim & Sherman, 2007) and allow more expression of personal anger in particular (Safdar et al., 2009). Thus, a more individualistic culture should be one with a higher frequency of swear word use." Read the rest

Anti-heckler judo for the amateur magician

Andy at The Jerx (previously) describes a surprisingly effective tactic for putting a heckler in his place during the performance of a magic trick. Read the rest

Daniel Handler: "Want Teenage Boys to Read? Give Them Books About Sex."

Teenage girls read far more than teenage boys. Daniel Handler, author of the Lemony Snicket series and other fantastic tales, has a suggestion on how to increase teen boys' interest in books: more sex in the pages. From Daniel's essay in the New York Times:

It is a gross generalization, of course, to say that what young men want to read about is sex — or to imply that the rest of us aren’t as interested — but it’s also offensive to pretend, when we’re ostensibly wondering how to get more young men to read, that they’re not interested in the thing we all know they’re interested in. There’s hardly any real sex in young adult books, and when it happens, it’s largely couched in the utopian dreams or the finger-wagging object lessons of the world we hope for, rather than the messy, risky, delicious and heartbreaking one we live in.

My new novel portrays a young boy’s emotional, heteroflexible sex life — and I’d like young people to read it. But it’s being published for adults, partly because the guardians of young people’s literature get so easily riled up about sex, preferring to recommend, say, books about teenagers slaughtering one another in a post-apocalyptic landscape, rather than books about kids masturbating at home.

To which many would say, so what? Don’t we have more important things to worry about than giving sexually explicit literature to young people? Shouldn’t we be more concerned about, say, the rampant misogyny of everyday life, in a nation led by a self-admitted sexual predator?

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Insights from statistical analysis of great (and not-great) literature

Ben Blatt's Nabokov's Favorite Word Is Mauve: What the Numbers Reveal About the Classics, Bestsellers, and Our Own Writing takes advantage of the fact that so much literature has been digitized, allowing him to run statistical analyses on writers, old and new, and make both fun and meaningful inferences about the empirical nature of writing. Read the rest

How African speculative fiction gave birth to itself

Geoff Ryman -- the brilliant science fiction author who curated last year's 100 AFRICAN WRITERS OF SFF project, continues to publish and curate excellent, exciting science fiction from across Africa. Read the rest

Shade the Changing Girl v. 1: On sidequels and writing the teenage alien.

This week (and next due to the nature of different release dates for the direct market and the book market) marks the release of the first collection of SHADE THE CHANGING GIRL v.1: Earth Girl Made Easy, which compiles issues 1-6 (previously). It’s a heavy load to recreate a character that giants before you have written. Steve Ditko is a master of the strange. His mind a merry-go-round of experimentation.

How to write pulp fiction that celebrates humanity's essential goodness

My latest Locus column is "Be the First One to Not Do Something that No One Else Has Ever Not Thought of Doing Before," and it's about science fiction's addiction to certain harmful fallacies, like the idea that you can sideline the actual capabilities and constraints of computers in order to advance the plot of a thriller. Read the rest

Steven Boyett on Fata Morgana, his new WWII/alt-history mashup novel

Today on John Scalzi's Whatever blog, Steven R Boyett (author of the classic fantasy novel Ariel) writes about Fata Morgana, the new alternate history/WWII novel he's just published with Ken Mitchroney. Read the rest

7-pack of erasable, multi-colored gel ink pens

Somehow having a 10-year-old around makes pens evaporate! These erasable gel ink pens are favorites.

We seem to lose a lot of pens. These fine point Pilot gel pens have become the ones to order for replacement. The ink really does erase, even after a trip through the washing machine. Very cool for anyone who folks who make mistakes.

Trust me, mistakes are made.

Pilot FriXion Clicker Retractable Erasable Gel Pens, Fine Point, Assorted Color Inks, 7-Pack (31472) via Amazon Read the rest

Lovely rosewood gripped $9 fountain pen

For $9 this is a really nice pen.

I'm surprised at how nice this EastVita fountain pen is! I expected very little. The seems well made, hasn't leaked, and puts ink on the page when so applied!

Yes, the wood is real.

EastVita 8812 Fountain Pen Rose Wood Barrel Vintage Style via Amazon Read the rest

Rebecca Solnit on how Trump's quest for more adulation made him "the most mocked man in the world"

It's early days in the Trump trainwreck, but Rebecca Solnit's astonishing, beautiful, visceral essay "The Loneliness of Donald Trump" may well end up being the defining moment of the Trump presidency, in which Solnit uses the incisive wit that gave us the term "mansplaining" to explain Trump. Read the rest

Meet Unko Sensei, the poop teacher making kanji fun for Japanese kids

Unko Sensei (literally Poop Teacher), is a charming mustachioed turd helping Japanese grade-schoolers learn over 1000 kanji characters required by the end of 6th grade. Read the rest

How to support a writer's career

Since the earliest days of my novel-writing career, readers have written to me to thank me for my books and to ask how they can best support me and other writers whose work they enjoy. Nearly 15 years later, I have a pretty comprehensive answer for them!

Forensic experts recover novel written by blind woman with a pen that had run out of ink

Trish Vickers of Dorset, England, decided to write a novel. Though blind, she preferred to work the old-fashioned way, with pen and paper, with her son dropping in weekly to type up the results. On one visit, though, she learned to her horror that her pen had ran out of ink fully 26 pages ago. But all was not lost!

Not knowing what else to do, she and Simon called the police. To the Vickers’s surprise, officers at Dorset HQ volunteered to work during their breaks and free time, hoping to use their forensic tools to help. And, five months later, the police reported back with success: they recovered the never-written words. Vickers told a local newspaper that the pen she used to write the pages — even though there was no ink left in it — left behind a series of indentations: “I think they used a combination of various lights at different angles to see if they could get the impression made by my pen.”

Vickers finished the book, Grannifer's Legacy, and died the day it was published. [via MeFi] Read the rest

Jane Morris explains improvisation and life

This video is an absolute gem! Jane Morris, one of the best improvisational actors alive, explains what makes the art so magical!

Jane has improvised, written, performed, and directed shows around the world. Beginning in Chicago, where she helped found the Second City ETC, later from her own theaters in Los Angeles, no one has done more to advance the art of improvisation.

If you are a writer looking for help getting unstuck, building a regular ritual of daily writing, or just help figuring out how to get the story out of your head and on to paper, Jane runs a wonderful writers workshop. If I was an Angeleno, I'd be there every week.

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