There’re tracks by Kanye I like, and I have a great deal of respect and affection for Jay-Z (both because of and despite “The Story of O.J.“), but I’m sorry: As artists, neither have a patch on Donald Glover. The clarity and breadth of his thought and expression are dazzling and compact and searingly intense; it’s like getting hit in the chest with a frozen super-critical sphere of napalm.
In almost all regards—from title through execution, in the fears it tries (and fails) to exorcise, right down to its final graff—this is the 100% perfect short story for me. (And it’s likely no coincidence that it’s just about a perfect fit for my favored story formula, the 45/45/10 Three-Act.)
PseudoPod 592: “Free Balloons for All Good Children“
In many ways, this story is the exact opposite of the last Dale Bailey story I recommended—which, in a way, almost makes them philosophical book ends. That said, the real philosophical counterpart (counterpoint?) to Bailey’s “The End of the End of Everything” is Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death“; please read them back to back and decide where you stand. That’s what stories are for.
“The Donner Party” is mos def my fave story in the last issue of F&SF. It seems like an obvious gag straight through to the untangle—at which time it becomes bone chilling. Downright perfect dismount, in my humble. Recommended.
UPDATE: If you’re look to read something by Bailey right this second, he has a story up at Tor.com: “The Ghoul Heads West“
I’ve complained in the past that these super-short horror films almost invariably go for the gross-out or the jump scare, and that’s cheap. This lil film does something different and, in its brevity, is almost a haiku-like essay about body image and media. Recommended:
An excellent little horror story; starts ~4min 30secs into this episode of Tales to Terrify: Tales to Terrify 306 Liam Hogan Franz Kafka. This podcast is usually pretty solid, if you like straight-up traditional audiobook-style readings of short horror fiction. Puts me in the mind of Kathe Koja’s The Cipher—but more for art reasons than horror reasons.
I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like this (and the audio version—also free on the Nightmare Magazine website—is really good).
Nominally a horror story, Sam J. Miller’s “Angel, Monster, Man” is, in fact, a really interesting piece of speculative fiction. Gets me thinking about how frequently fiction that speculates on a disenfranchised group getting power gets slotted into “horror”—and once you start thinking that way, all horror starts to look like a liberation fantasy as seen through the establishment’s eyes: Is Night of the Living Dead more about zombies, or more about the terror experienced by rural whites and the patriarchy when confronted with a competent black man? Is The Exorcist about demon possession or the threat of women’s liberation (see also, Carrie)? Is Psycho about a “psycho” or about the terrifying prospect of homosexuals no longer shackled by shame/guilt?
Lots of you are creative sorts, and all creative sorts struggle with the same million-faced goblin, under a variety of: Writer’s Block, procrastination, “activation energy,” the Lil Hater, Imposter Syndrome, not inspired, “so busy!”, obligations, etc.
I’ve spent pretty much my entire adult life wrestling this same sinister, slippery blob, and talking with other creative folk about what we each do to try and wrangle that ass-jackal into a corner so we can Get Shit Done.
I’d like to share the choicest bits with you. Learn to:
- Use “Sprint Bursts” to build your writing muscles
- Eat the frog and puke up the draft
- Harness the power of the Pomodoro
- Work with “The Guys Downstairs” to do the heavy lifting before you sit down to write
This is all wrapped up in a tidy little week-long clinic, waling you through the process of laying the groundwork for a solid Daily Writing Ritual. The clinic is totally free, with no lingering hassles. This list doesn’t get combined with my newsletter or anything else, and there is no hard sell, because I don’t have anything to sell. Just the benefit of my experience and that of the other writers I know. Sign up, get the first email the following Monday, and the final check-in/thank you a week later. That’s it.
Wanna invest 10 minutes a day into getting the words flowing? Check it out:
The Cone Mills plant in Greensboro, N.C. has been continuously weaving denim since 1905, and is currently the only U.S. plant producing selvedge denim. They’re calling it quits at the end of this year.
“Selvedge” is a specific style of denim produced in broad strips on relatively narrow shuttle looms using a continuous weft such that the edge is automatically finished—i.e., it produces a “self-edged” bolt of fabric that won’t unravel (if you’re looking at denim and the edge of the seam is white with a single thread of color—often red—then you’re looking at selvedge denim). Because it’s produced in narrower strips on shuttle looms (and usually with un-dyed weft), the fabric has certain characteristics in how it breaks in and ages, both in terms of fit and coloration. Some folks dig these. Other folks just dig putting their money where their mouth is, in terms of “Buying American.” I kinda like to do both, so I’m kinda bummed that Cone Mills is rolling up. Certainly the generations of weavers in Greensboro are bummed.
By the end of this year, you’ll only be able to get this prototypically American fabric from Japan. That’s still great selvedge (hell, it’s made on American machines: Japan bought them up in the 1980s when Levi’s et al. made the shift to larger looms), but it’s a bummer that this once uniquely American product is going extinct.
The only upside: When you see some Stars-and-Bars waving asshole in blue jeans popping off about “foreign manufacturing” next year, you’ll know he’s wearing jeans from Vietnam, and thus can go fuck himself. He didn’t put his money where his mouth was, and subsequently American selvedge denim died. That’s how economies work. Way to “Make America Great Again,” bro.
Anyway, if you’ve been thinking about getting into high-quality American-made denim, it’s sorta now or never. Brave Star is my go-to company on this: Incredibly reasonable prices given the quality, nice cuts, excellent craftsmanship, solid customer service, 100% American made: The denim is from N.C., the hardware from KY, the cutting and sewing in California.
…and learned that, if you wanna know what it’s like being me, microdose LSD.
(DISCLOSURE: I have indeed dropped acid. It made me almost entirely unbearably me-like. None of this constitutes an endorsement of anything other than this particular episode of this podcase.)