Rigamajig

Dec. 20th, 2014 01:42 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Rigamajig is a large-scale building toy, like a cross between playground equipment and an erector set. It has wooden boards, pulleys, giant nuts and bolts, etc. It's pretty cool.

Read more... )
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here's a thoughtful (and explicit) look at how movies and video games present torture as fun and effective.  Yes, I said "fun."  People play game and watch movies for pleasure.  If they are doing that with torture on the screen, particularly in these examples where it is shown in an approving tone, then they find torture to be entertaining rather than appalling.  If heroes are portrayed torturing people, then torture is rendered as heroic.  It's torture pr0n.

This is troublesome.  It makes torture seem okay.  It's not okay.   It is possible to get usable information out of people with torture, but that's extremely difficult.  A majority of victims will, sooner or later, say anything to make the torture stop; it's hard to sort out usable facts from that.  Most of the time, even if information is the purported goal, it's really about personal gratification for the torturers and terrorism -- those things are very easy to get once you have a helpless victim.  Torture harms the victims, of course, but that's "their problem and they deserved it."  Catch is, torture also distorts the personality of the torturers, making small personal flaws into much larger ones.  Those people don't stay in small rooms torturing "legitimate" victims.  They come home.  Maybe they have a spouse and kids.  Maybe they lose their temper, and hey, they think that manipulation and violence are acceptable problem-solving methods.  Look at the rates of domestic violence among police and military families.  Well, now it's everyone's  problem.

I don't often write about torture.  It's challenging to present realistically without squicking the audience, especially if like me you grew up reading hardcore history books, because people have done some ghastly things to each other.  When I do write about it, then it typically causes more problems than it solves.  Some of my villains are really into it -- Jasp, for example.  You will note that it is not portrayed as acceptable behavior.

If you are torturing people, you are not a hero.  Period.  You are doing something evil.  You may attain your goal.  It is still not good.  The end does not justify the means; the means determine the end.
ysabetwordsmith: (gold star)
This jigsaw puzzle has 1000 pieces, each of them a different color.  That's all.  No picture, just the color scale.  It's gorgeous, and a perfect gift for puzzle fans or artists.  The site has a video of people assembling the puzzle.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
I have written at least one poem for each prompter, and a few extras since many of these combined multiple prompts, so that should be it for this batch.  Thumbnails for the poems appear in the Fishbowl Open posts on Dreamwidth and on LiveJournal, if you're planning to sponsor poetry.  So far nobody has this week.  0_o
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
The Poetry Fishbowl is now CLOSED for prompts; more poems may appear later.  Thank you for your time and enthusiasm.

Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open!  Today's theme is "games and fun."  I will be checking this page periodically throughout the day. When people make suggestions, I'll pick some and weave them together into a poem ... and then another ... and so on. I'm hoping to get a lot of ideas and a lot of poems.

Click to read the linkback poem "House of Cards" (Polychrome Heroics, 26 verses available).


What Is a Poetry Fishbowl?

Writing is usually considered a solitary pursuit. One exception to this is a fascinating exercise called a "fishbowl." This has various forms, but all of them basically involve some kind of writing in public, usually with interaction between author and audience. A famous example is Harlan Ellison's series of "stories under glass" in which he sits in a bookstore window and writes a new story based on an idea that someone gives him. Writing classes sometimes include a version where students watch each other write, often with students calling out suggestions which are chalked up on the blackboard for those writing to use as inspiration.

In this online version of a Poetry Fishbowl, I begin by setting a theme; today's theme is "games and fun."  I invite people to suggest characters, settings, and other things relating to that theme. Then I use those prompts as inspiration for writing poems.


Cyberfunded Creativity

I'm practicing cyberfunded creativity. If you enjoy what I'm doing and want to see more of it, please feed the Bard. The following options are currently available:

1) Sponsor the Fishbowl -- Here is a PayPal button for donations. There is no specific requirement, but $1 is the minimum recommended size for PayPal transactions since they take a cut from every one. You can also donate via check or money order sent by postal mail. If you make a donation and tell me about it, I promise to use one of your prompts. Anonymous donations are perfectly welcome, just won't get that perk. General donations will be tallied, and at the end of the fishbowl I’ll post a list of eligible poems based on the total funding; then the audience can vote on which they want to see posted.

2) Swim, Fishie, Swim! -- A feature in conjunction with fishbowl sponsorship is this progress meter showing the amount donated.  There are multiple perks, the top one being a half-price poetry sale on one series when donations reach $300.



3) Buy It Now! -- Gakked from various e-auction sites, this feature allows you to sponsor a specific poem. If you don't want to wait for some editor to buy and publish my poem so you can read it, well, now you don't have to. Sponsoring a poem means that I will immediately post it on my blog for everyone to see, with the name of the sponsor (or another dedicate) if you wish; plus you get a nonexclusive publication right, so you can post it on your own blog or elsewhere as long as you keep the credits intact. You'll need to tell me the title of the poem you want to sponsor. I'm basing the prices on length, and they're comparable to what I typically make selling poetry to magazines (semi-pro rates according to Duotrope's Digest).

0-10 lines: $5
11-25 lines: $10
26-40 lines: $15
41-60 lines: $20
Poems over 60 lines, or with very intricate structure, fall into custom pricing.

4) Commission a scrapbook page. I can render a chosen poem in hardcopy format, on colorful paper, using archival materials for background and any embellishments. This will be suitable for framing or for adding to a scrapbook. Commission details are here.  See latest photos of sample scrapbooked poems: "Sample Scrapbooked Poems 1-24-11"

5) Spread the word. Echo or link to this post on your LiveJournal, other blog, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Digg, StumbleUpon, or any other social network.  Useful Twitter hashtags include #poetryfishbowl and #promptcall.  Encourage people to come here and participate in the fishbowl.  If you have room for it, including your own prompt will give your readers an idea of what the prompts should look like; ideally, update later to include the thumbnail of the poem I write, and a link to the poem if it gets published.  If there is at least one new prompter or donor, I will post an extra freebie poem.

Linkback perk: I have a spare series poem available, and each linkback will reveal a verse of the poem.  One person can do multiple links if they're on different services, like Dreamwidth or Twitter, rather than all on LiveJournal.  Comment with a link to where you posted. "House of Cards" belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics and has 26 verses available. 


Additional Notes

1) I customarily post replies to prompt posts telling people which of their prompts I'm using, with a brief description of the resulting poem(s). If you want to know what's available, watch for those "thumbnails."

2) You don't have to pay me to see a poem based on a prompt that you gave me. I try to send copies of poems to people, mostly using the LJ message function.  (Anonymous prompters will miss this perk unless you give me your eddress.)  These are for-your-eyes-only, though, not for sharing.

3) Sponsors of the Poetry Fishbowl in general, or of specific poems, will gain access to an extra post in appreciation of their generosity.  While you're on the Donors list, you can view all of the custom-locked posts in that category.  Click the "donors" tag to read the archive of those.  I've also posted a list of other donor perks there.  I customarily leave donor names on the list for two months, so you'll get to see the perk-post from this month and next.

4) After the Poetry Fishbowl concludes, I will post a list of unsold poems and their prices, to make it easier for folks to see what they might want to sponsor.

5) If donations total $100 by Friday evening then you get a free $15 poem; $150 gets you a free $20 poem; and $200 gets you a free epic, posted after the Poetry Fishbowl.  These will usually be series poems if I have them; otherwise I may offer non-series poems or series poems in a different size.  If donations reach $250, you get one step toward a bonus fishbowl; three of these activates the perk, and they don't have to be three months in a row.  Everyone will get to vote on which series, and give prompts during the extra fishbowl, although it may be a half-day rather than a whole day.  If donations reach $300, you get a piece of bonus material, since the mid-month slot is already reserved for the Holiday Poetry Sale.


Feed the Fish!
Now's your chance to participate in the creative process by posting ideas for me to write about. Today's theme is "games and fun."  I'll be soliciting ideas for gamers, game designers, sportstars, tricksters, comics, clowns, referees, gamemasters, spoilsports, sport fans, playing fair, cheating, making the big score, learning a new game, scheming, playing pranks, cracking jokes, strategy & tactics, competition, cooperation, slapstick humor, game stores, sport fields, living rooms, children's museums, parties, playgrounds, games, sports, entertainment equipment, gaffs and gags, gaming guidebooks, and poetic forms in particular. But anything is welcome, really. If you manage to recommend a form that I don't recognize, I will probably pounce on it and ask you for its rules. I do have the first edition of Lewis Turco's The Book of Forms which covers most common and many obscure forms.

I'll post at least one of the fishbowl poems here so you-all can enjoy it. (Remember, you get an extra freebie poem if someone new posts a prompt or makes a donation, and additional perks at $100-$300 in donations.  Linkbacks reveal verses of "House of Cards.") The rest of the poems will go into my archive for magazine submission.
ysabetwordsmith: (moment of silence)
 Legendary puppeteer Bob Baker has died.  He ran a famous marionette theatre.  He also did marionette work in hundreds of films, including one of my favorites, Escape from Witch Mountain.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
So the new Star Wars trailer has a new style of lightsaber, and it didn't take long for people to make fun of it.  Honestly I found that collection of joke images more entertaining than the trailer.  Some thoughts ...

1) That kind of ridiculous weaponry development has actually happened  with polearms and handheld blades such as knives and swords.

2) Even imaginary weapons need to be plausible.  If your audience can glance at the weapon and point out flaws, then you haven't done a very good job of design or portrayal.  Imaginary technology should have consistent rules which shape its development, just as the laws of physics and metallurgy shape historic weapons.

Take that lightsaber.  The horizontal quills make it easier to block an opponent's blow, because one lightsaber blade can stop another; but more importantly, they allow strikes to the side.  A drawback is that they raise the chance of cutting yourself.  If the handle of the weapon is not also invulnerable to the lightsaber blade, then quills raise the damage chance by channeling strikes toward the hilt; but if the handle is invulnerable, that's not a problem.  

Far more interesting is that this is a Force weapon wielded by a Sith or Jedi, which means with a little practice they ought to be able to control  those blades not just by hand and technology, but by will.  Imagine having a hilt that can extend a blade in three directions, or four if you remember the original double-bladed lightsaber with a hilt in the middle, as needed.  This adds a great deal of versatility and danger, although it also raises the amount of time required to become proficient in using the thing without slicing your own limbs off.  I'm serious about the risk factors, though; it's basically a giant laser switchblade.  Guys love to play with switchblades and butterfly knives because they're cool, but 9 out of 10 guys will cut themselves on one.  I've seen it repeatedly.  Like true ninja weapons, they're only useful if you know exactly what you are doing.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
This is an advance announcement for the Tuesday, December 2, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl. This time the theme will be "games & fun." I'll be soliciting ideas for gamers, game designers, sportstars, tricksters, comics, clowns, referees, gamemasters, spoilsports, sport fans, playing fair, cheating, making the big score, learning a new game, scheming, playing pranks, cracking jokes, strategy & tactics, competition, cooperation, slapstick humor, game stores, sport fields, living rooms, children's museums, parties, playgrounds, games, sports, entertainment equipment, gaffs and gags, gaming guidebooks, and poetic forms in particular.

I have a linkback poem, "House of Cards" (26 verses, Polychrome Heroics). 

If you're interested, mark the date on your calendar, and please hold actual prompts until the "Poetry Fishbowl Open" post next week.  (If you're not available that day, or you live in a time zone that makes it hard to reach me, you can leave advance prompts.)  Meanwhile, if you want to help with promotion, please feel free to link back here or repost this on your blog. 
 

New to the fishbowl? Read all about it! )
ysabetwordsmith: (gold star)
This show begins with adept horseback riding, and then turns into a liberty act.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 "Nebula" is a short film about a girl and a magical creature.  Lovely animation, adorable story.
ysabetwordsmith: (moment of silence)
Famous TV producer Glen A. Larson has passed away.  Among my favorites were his shows Battlestar Galactica  (the original) and Knight Rider.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
No, not spies on television.  Televisions that spy on people.  Things like this are why I'm getting less and less inclined to buy new stuff.  It tends to come with dealbreaker features.  Given a choice between being abused or going without important goods and services, I usually choose to go without.  This frustrates me.  With a television, not so much, because they've pretty much lost my eyeballs forever for a million different reasons.  But other stuff moving in the same direction really worries me.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Someone went through and added more realistic shapes to Disney princesses.

Ariel, Jasmine, and Pocahontas definitely look better.

But.  Look at Belle and Aurora.  They are wearing corset dresses.  Those are designed to create exactly the shape originally drawn.  It's not natural but it is accurate.  You just have to imagine them breathing up and down instead of in and out.  Trust me, you can make an hourglass out of any figure with a corset, no matter how many hours your pour into it.  Elsa's dress is filmier but has that springy control-top look that some modern dresses use to make people look trimmer in a sheath.

You want to give girls a positive body image?  Put a princess in a houpplande.  They make average-to-large size bodies look awesome, and are period.

This kind of argument is why I use real bodies as character inspiration.  It's a lot easier to mix body types that way, and when I have artists, I can just say, "Here is a reference image."  I'm still working my way through that set of Olympic athletes.
ysabetwordsmith: (gold star)
This is the most violent piece of utterly adorable fluff I have ever seen.  <3  I am pleased to see someone still making awesome, original entertainment.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
This I believe.

Go and do likewise.

I really have no tolerance for jerks who try to crush other people's dreams.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Nina Paley has posted two GIFs of Hebrew slaves in Egypt, one of men and one of women.  And look!  They're brown, with curly black hair, not whitewashed.  I love the stylized geometric body parts too.

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