Thursday, May 31, 2018

Make Life Beautiful Day is Coming

I'm not really a fan of all the special days that have been invented to fill our calendars. But I am a person who needs motivation to do things that I actually want to do anyway. This is my reminder to myself that Make Life Beautiful Day is on June 11 and to plan something for that day.
I don't know if I will in fact make something for that day or simply have a great day with family - I'm writing this on June 11, 2017 having been surprised by the day this year. But I want to do something.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Penetang Animals: Vulpes vulpes

I found this red fox wandering rurals streets outside Penetang. It was entirely unconcerned with me, even when I stopped my car to take these shots.

Wikipedia Red Fox

Sunday, May 27, 2018

TWIC: Open concept, screenplay,

I cannot find a source beyond Facebook but it appears I can embed their video here. This is That describes a company devoted to creativity and the lengths that are going to encourage it.

How can we tell a screenplay came from an amateur?

  • Malformed scene headings.
  • Unnecessary lead-ins (e.g. “we see”, “the camera shows”).
  • Excessive description of trivial and/or irrelevant detail.
  • Camera and directing instructions.
  • Unplayable emotions (e.g. memories).
  • Background information otherwise not conveyed by the visuals.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Penetang Animals: Mergus merganser

I was convinced that these were two different species of bird that always kept together. Finally I decided to look into it and simply found the two genders are hugely different.

All About Birds

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

$20 words in Julian May's Nonborn King

I had an idea for a blog post; I would measure the difficulty of the vocabulary of a book I had just reread. I expected in the course of research to find that this book used a lot of difficult words. I appear to be wrong about that. If anyone is interested, there are two websites in the body of the post that can measure how many tough words you have used.

1983 edition of Book 3 of May's saga of Pliocene Exile, softcover.
Image result for nonborn king softcover
Image from Goodreads.
I first read this book around thirty years ago and saw it in a used book store recently so I reread it. I was greatly surprised that I didn't know the meanings to all the words - the text is pretty advanced.
I mean, I was able to puzzle enough of the meaning out that could follow, even enjoy, the story but two or three words stopped me in my flow of reading.
It made me wonder how difficult the text is. As an ESL educator, I am aware of a few websites that measure the difficulty of a text.

I used English Profile Text Inspector and started with an excerpt from a Jack Reacher story.

And then had to type an excerpt from the Nonborn King- I could find the text on Google Books but that only had images of the text, dang it! Anyway:

Dang! I figured the May text would have more difficult words than the Child text, but there are quite similar. I didn't think to check the black bar on the graph until after I did the Nonborn King. With it, I know that the software is part of the problem.
Ah, the software didn't double a few words, that is an artifact of how combined screenshots. Anyway, there are some simple contractions - "That's" for example, as well as names that are common (as opposed to common names). It may be that my measuring site is not up to the task.

Let me try another text inspector, this one actually having the name Text Inspector.

I can't say why I chose a Jack Reacher book by Lee Child for comparison purposes. Without any reason for the opinion, I had figured it would be a simpler text. And yet the two are quite similar. Huh. It may be that comparing excerpts of less than 250 words does not create a useful sample size.

Monday, May 21, 2018

TWIC:Design and interfaces, threats to sue, teaching, awards

User Interfaces on realtor websites. I am slow on such things. My main takeaway is that if we see a dollar sign, we won't need the words "Listing Price".  When there is a person's name and phone number, we don't need to be told, it is for the agent and how to contact them.

Writer discusses how he threatened to sue other publishers in his letter asking a publisher to handle his book:

2017 Nebula Awards winners
Podcasting as a writing exercise - for students.
design elements and writing
Legit publisher or not?  Not, and the link offers what to look for.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

TWIC: Rapture, periods, Bulwer-Lytton, cities, sketching

Fred Clarke at Slacktivist has been very slowly going through the books and movies of the Left Behind series, explaining why they are terrible. I am certain this post went up a decade or more ago, but he reposts older entries now and then. Clarke's dislike of the evangelical Christian story is not based on a dislike of the religion; he is a devout Baptist of the sort that give Christians a good name. Instead, he dislikes the terrible writing and in dissecting it, he shows writers what we should do and what we should avoid.
I would have thought that the medium of film would require detail in place of the book’s vague generality. Film, by it’s very nature, avoids the pitfall of Jerry Jenkins’ apparent motto as a novelist — “Tell, don’t show.” Yet for all that we’re shown here of the panicked passengers and the remnants of the naked and the dead, it all somehow still seems abstract and devoid of the specifics of human detail.
We see Harold’s clothes, but the camera doesn’t linger or focus our attention on particular detail any more than Jenkins’ words did. They still seem as generic as the “Harold’s clothes” of the book. Here they aren’t even Harold’s clothes, since the movie doesn’t bother to give the poor man a name.
Actually, no one on the plane seems to have a name. As Buck heads to look for the missing husband, a woman realizes her children are missing and begins shouting about “my kids.” She doesn’t call them by name. She doesn’t call them at all. She just starts shouting to other people, “I can’t find my kids!” As the other passengers realize their loved ones have also disappeared, they join in this shouting, all similarly using generic terms for their missing family members. It makes it seem weirdly like we’re watching people acting out the description of the scene rather than the scene itself.
Hooray! There is some support for putting two spaces after a period!  The evil 'one space' team had worn me down to the point where I sometimes use one space and others two and if I mix it up, I let it go.  I've fallen so far.
In research for a story I am writing, I learned of the Athenaeum, a high-brow private club in London that shared membership with the Royal Society and such. Most importantly for me, Bulwer-lytton was a member. This allows me to offer a link to the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. I guess I first learned of this contest in 1984, as this entry, the winning one for that year, has remained in my imagination all this time:

These cities have caused other forms of themselves to live on text form, separate from the original themselves.

Sketches and gifs on how to sketch.

The comedy writers of the Onion and their process of selecting the best ideas for this hardcopy and online journal (Video).

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

TWIC: Story of Sci Fi, Future of science writing, outlining and a surprising amount more

If you like James Cameron's tastes in Science Fiction, you will likely love his Story of Science Fiction. This link goes to a critique of the AMC show. If I can find a way, I'll watch it.

Sci Am looks at the future of Science Writing.
Science now:
If stories are about belief, scientific stories are supposed to have an integrity that is important in the “post-truth” age as people seek science, facts and a basis for decisions. The post-truth age is another way to describe postmodernism, which has less to do with facts being relative as it does with pervasive cynicism, irony, changing levels of enthusiasm and commitment, and the framing of facts and the lens of stories. The trouble is science has never itself been entirely free of these literary trends.
Science future:
The future of science writing will not be free of tensions or contradictions, as compared to popular writing that is often based on a mythos of progressing to a complete picture of nature. It should therefore dispense with the idealism that permeates much of popular science writing—a belief that human nature is perfectible, a fashionable idea seeded by the Zuckerberg Chan Foundation when it says it will “cure all disease” in this century or when Microsoft says it will “solve” cancer within 10 years.

Heller's outline for Catch 22. I posted a similar image of JK Rowling's outline. Here is a chunk of Heller's outline:

An interview with author Liz Harmer.

9 reasons  you novel might not be published.

Writer decides write about learning to play poker but becomes so good at the sport, she keeps doing that rather than write.

A Twitter thread about listening to 'BBC Dad' Robert Kelly. His daughter adorably interrupted his BBC interview discussing North Korea.The Kellys had to adjust to and control the fame that chased them.

Larry Christopher is a local cafe owner and Neil Young Impersonator. Seems like an interesting guy. (Note: Local means in central Ontario, I moved from Korea two weeks ago.)

This list of ways to avoid burnout seems pragmatic and not overly sensationalized. Just the facts, quickly delivered.

Many ESL instructors feel that Korean students are not that creative. But I wonder if that is because we teach (or taught, in my case) mandatory, non-major classes. Our classes were not the ones they wanted to devote extra energy to. A study suggests that South Korea is one of the most innovative countries in the world.

Stories, an app or media format that seems annoying to me but is growing in popularity. Kottke has the details.