Jun 212015

The following are articles I found interesting or useful for my writing.

Shut up & Sit Down is a great blog for board games on a normal day but their account of one player’s experience in a poker tournament is riveting. I love researching gambling but never actually gamble because it is one giant system designed to deprive you of money. This gives a great outsider’s peek into the casino environment.

Week in Weird had a wonderful article about the demons who possessed every other nun in a convent in 17th century France. Okay, it was probably less a demonic invasion and more of a frame job to convict a heretic but hey, the alleged demonic activities are bizarre. Mostly it seemed to involve planking.

Have a pothole in your city that the government refuses to fix? Try drawing a giant penis around it. Hell, I bet if you did a vagina that they would do it twice as fast.

This week’s music is “We Don’t Die” by Tricky.

 Extra Credit  Comments Off on Extra Credit June 21st 2015
Apr 262015

The following are articles or links I found useful for my writing.

A new law in Nashville makes it illegal to run a sex club within a certain range of a church. A Swinger’s Club does the only logical thing and declares themselves a church.

I find Chess to be insufferably boring. What I don’t find boring is Cheating at Chess which is an age old tradition.

One thing that always bothers me when writing science fiction is the fear that the science fact that is important to my story is completely wrong. Apparently this is something that doesn’t bother the FBI. It appears that for the last twenty years, the science of hair analysis has been one giant con to convict people.

I love wargaming but much like chess, wargaming can degenerate into an obsession of efficency over fun. Hipsterhammer is a new blog about taking a cheap yet fun approach to the Warhammer Fantasy. Even if you don’t play wargames, this kind of blog is helpful to adopting an attitude of fun towards whatever you do.

Music this week is from the Spacechem soundtrack. SpaceChem is an insanely hard game about chemistry but I am a bigger fan of the music. It has a nice science sound that works well as writing music. You can get the entire album from the artist here.

Apr 122015

The following are links to articles I found interesting or useful to my writing.

This is an older article by Samuel R. Delany and his experience as a black science fiction writer. I find it particularly interesting because lately a group of racists sexist assholes have decided to hijack the Hugo awards because they don’t believe the work of non-white males have any merit. It is interesting/sad to see the same arguments used today mirror so closely the arguments Delany has dealt with all his life.

I feel like one of my odder hobbies is enjoying stories of government waste. My other less odd hobby is rocket science so I was really excited to read this article about a ten billion dollar waste of an attempt to make a radar that is vital to the rather impossible dream of missile defense. It has hubris! Complete lack of fore-planning! Missile physics!

Summer is coming and I have been debating whether to write more stories about Mermaid Island. I always saw those stories as a highly optimized daydream fantasy of my teenage beach experiences. Chillwave is a genre of music kind of like that especially the part where the genre itself never really existed.

Today’s music is Ratatat’s Cream on Chrome. Ratatat is becoming one my favorite bands to write to.

 Extra Credit  Comments Off on Extra Credit for April 12th, 2015
Apr 052015

Just because it is Easter is no time for letting your brain slack off. The following are links I found useful for my writing or were just interesting.

Here is an article on Joseph Mitchell. He was a nonfiction writer for the New Yorker. He wrote six stories in the 50’s and 60’s and that was pretty much it. However he spent the next 30 years showing up at the office, typing away and getting paid to have an epic long writer’s block. Nice work if you can get it.

Warlords terrorize the local populace as they steal a valuable resource. Is it drugs? Precious metals? Nope, it’s sand. This is a story of why sand is so valuable that thugs are killing to steal it and sell it.

I’m reading Conrad’s heart of Darkness at the moment so this article seemed like a strange coincidence. Six Movies That Are Secretly About Vietnam is a clever view of movies you would never associate with such a sad war. Seriously though, the Bad News bears is totally about Vietnam.

I went to Dollywood yesterday and let me tell you, that is one beautiful classy place. I was expecting country kitsch and instead it was Appalachian upscale.  I highly recommend it. Here is one of my favorite Dolly songs that you might not have heard, Drinkenstein.

 Extra Credit  Comments Off on Extra Credit April 5th 2015
Mar 222015

The following are links I found interesting or useful for my writing.

I love conspiracies. Taking real world data and fudging it a little to make a story might be the basis for all fiction but conspiracies often go that extra mile for a little WTF. Read about how the Denver Airport is probably a secret Illuminati bunker.

Know what fantasy roleplaying games need more of? Real world economics applied to fantasy tropes. Multiplexer writes in depth articles about such things and each one is gold. Well, let’s just say a valuable precious commodity because as some of the articles prove, that pile of Dragon’s gold is probably the worse thing to ever happen to an economy. It is hard to pick a favorite but if I had to it would be about the Murder Hobo Investment Bubble.

Finally we have a free game you can play in your browser. The Coop Times is about being a reporter with a really vicious deadline. You are given a story and told to write five lines about it under a time constraint. It is a fun and hectic way to write and I highly recommend that any writer give it a shot. The stories are then collected and published on a site so you can see the collective efforts of your fellow reporters. 

Music this week is Beastmilk’s “Death Reflects Us” because everyone needs Beastmilk in their life.

 Extra Credit  Comments Off on Extra Credit March 22nd 2015
Mar 152015

The following are links that I found interesting or useful for my writing.

There were many obituaries, retrospectives and just plain anguish over the death of Sir Terry Pratchett this week. Kieron Gillen wrote one that I felt was especially true and helpful in this dark time.

The Story of Yars Revenge is the story of how one of the most bizarre and yet most enduring videogames from the Atari was created. The most interesting part is that the designer was an economist and though he knew jack little about games, he understood economics and applied his knowledge to making a lasting game.

(Actually) True War Stories at NBC News is a cruel funny look at how an organization tasked with informing the public is far more concerned with ratings, egos and finding something to blame.

I have been hard on fan fiction in the past but lately I have come around to recognizing it as a fun creative outlet for people. Having said that, this article explores the mystery of one of the worse fan fictions ever created, My Immortal.

Nuns and Nuclear Security is a novel disguised as a news article but it is well worth your time. As a writer, I often imagine that nuclear weapons and other terrible things are guarded by something out of a James Bond novel. The truth is that the security resembles more from an episode of Archer. The Plowshares movement frequently breaks into top secret places and what they do there seems more like blood magic rituals than war protesting. It is a long fascinating read.

This week’s music is a throwback to my youth. “In the Back of My Mind” is from Fleetwood Mac’s Buckingham-less Behind The Mask album.

 Extra Credit  Comments Off on Extra Credit March 15th 2015
Mar 082015

The following are links to articles I read that I thought were inspiring or useful for my writing.

The Fairy Investigation Society was/is a real thing. It is useful to remember that before people were hunting UFO’s and Bigfoots, a lot of people were haunting the woods looking for little men. Also, Fairy Census sounds like the coolest thing ever.

An Interview with Richard Laymon is a 20 year old article printed in a fanzine but writing advice never ages. Laymon is part of my unholy Trinity of Favorite Horror Writers and one hard working writer.

My Dad, the Pornographer is one son’s account of his father’s pornographic career. Andrew Offutt wrote a lot of porn to support his family which is no easy feat. This article is about Offutt’s son who had the task of going through his father’s belongings after he passed away. It’s a touching article about fathers, porn and writing.

Finally, we have Lindsey Stirling’s Roundtable Rivals, introduced to me by the always excellent, The Other Side Blog. The song is awesome but a steampunk western showdown with music instead of guns? Fuck yeah.