Saturday, April 11, 2015

introductions to Korean Art

"There's something about Korean art that on the surface seems very simple, but its all about minimal aesthetic.  So there's nothing incredibly showy.  There's nothing over-the-top.  And the more you look at it, the more you appreciate its depth."

Introduction to Korean Art from The Korea Society on Vimeo.

Introduction to Korean woodblock printing.
This video features Arirang's most annoying English voice-over narrator.  At 5:12, he mentions that the wood blocks are stored at "Hane-sa Monastery".  The correct pronunciation is "Hae - in - Sa" and "sa" means temple or monastery.

Introduction to Printing from The Korea Society on Vimeo.

Via Koreabridge

Friday, April 10, 2015

Learning from Vonnegut, from bad advice and from Sci Am

Here are five of the eight tips:

From Kurt Vonnegut’s introduction to his short story anthology, Bagombo Snuff Box, 8 tips on how to write a good short story.
Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.

2 Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
3 Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
4 Every sentence must do one of two things–reveal character or advance the action.

5 Start as close to the end as possible.

From Boingboing.
Learn from (bad) examples.  Bad male writers:

 This is a clip of a longer list at Boingboing which came from Tumblr.

Change the background for better photos of hairy insects - probably good advice in other contexts.

Bonus feature!
 I narrowly avoided disaster last week and only learned of it yesterday.
I knew some students were taking a 'sculpting' class but this group are all computer game and graphic image and software majors so I thought this was a term for image manipulation or building or the like.
Last week, a student had a small brown head on her desk.  She left for a few minutes and I touched the head, thinking it was a strange, shiny plastic.  It felt weird under my fingers so I squeezed a little.  I didn't give and seemed like it would if I squeezed harder.
I did not, but put it down and prepared to teach class.
Yesterday, the same student was in class early and I saw she was scraping the head with a wooden tool, working on making realistic hair.

So glad I stopped when I did.  How would I have explained that?

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

I need this to create.

Every few years, I get into podcasts.  During this current iteration of my listening, I am most enjoying Gore, Boars and Swords and We Have Concerns.  The latter one recently had an episode about a group of enthusiasts who long for the old, clicky IBM keyboards.
Well, the conversation of the two hosts started there, but went into people, and themselves specifically, that have superstitions and comfort zones when using equipment.
One speaker likes cheap notebooks because he was paralyzed with fear of writing something stupid in a $30 Moleskin notebook.

I myself enjoy using relatively cheap notebooks - mine come from a Korean private school and feature thick, strong cardboard covers and relatively thick paper.  I recently bought a set of disposable fountain pens.  My writing is still terrible but they are fun to use, glide super fast across paper and dry fast enough that my (left) hand doesn't smear the ink.

The episode, again, was about clicky keyboards and I really enjoy Ommwriter, which adds a clicky sound as you type.  I have long used Google Docs - now Drive - and preferred the old Wordpad to the newer versions.  Ommwriter is fullscreen and has almost no features aside from the clicky sounds and some white noise.  It is immersive and think I concentrate better when I use it.  I should say the Mac version of Ommwriter is better than the Windows version.

Ironically, when I get into a writing project, I sometimes want to listen to classical music -Janecek and Grieg normally -but actually like the discipline of sticking to Ommwriter only.

I have bought Scrivener and have started a few projects but so far it feels more fun to use than to create with if that makes any sense.
Download lots of art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Casting call woes and running elephants

And more at Casting Call Woes.


I have carved a few elephants from wood and one in a golf ball core.  I want to make one that is more dynamic in appearance as my typical work, in all the animals I have carved, has been still - four feet on the ground, trunk curled almost to the ground.  Whatever my next project is, I want it to be in motion.

And that's completely off topic.

The CBC has an interview with David Usher, author of Let the Elephants Run, a book on creativity.  The key concept is to let your big idea grow and try to find life for them.

Friday, March 20, 2015


While on a canoe trip in 2013, I was horrified to learn that I hadn't packed any cutlery.  I didn't need a fork because chopsticks are so easy to make but I did need a spoon and chose to make the spatula, well, just because I had the materials.  The photo of them below is foggy because I tipped my canoe early in the trip and my camera got wet... Really, it was a  pretty good trip and I do enjoy canoeing.  If you are interested in that trip, look here.  Here is the link to another spoon I worked on.

All that to introduce this post about a man serious about spoons.  Stian Korntved Ruud has been carving a spoon a day for, well, some time now.  He has thrown away the desire to make standard spoons and has been exploring, um, 'spoonness'.  I copied and pasted into Paint to display two of them and how one of them started.

via Boingboing.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

How the Sea Wasp writes, how Pratchett signed

On a Google Group that discusses speculative writing, a man with this nym 'Sea Wasp' has described how he writes I added a link to one of the books he describes:
For instance, I just completed Phoenix in Shadow, sequel to Phoenix Rising, and the outline mostly went out the window pretty quickly. As I know that world so well, I didn't even use the outline once I started writing, except to look up names or something similar that I remembered inventing for the outline and didn't want to re-invent. But for the most part, I literally just let the characters lead me through their adventures until they reached the climactic points which I did know.  

That latter bit is one of the crucial parts of writing for me. I absolutely must know what I'm heading for, and specifically I need to have in my mind some awesome, spectacular, and/or tearjerking scene that will serve as the climax of the story. I write towards that scene, as a goal. Everything within the story will be focused on serving that goal of reaching that climax, and making sure that every single piece needed to make that envisioned scene work will be there, precisely as required.
Terry Pratchett passed away recently - a victim of Alzheimer disease.  That makes this article written at Bookseller more special.  In it, Pratchett discusses the care and literal-and-figurative feeding of authors on tour.
It's a good idea to make sure advertising for the event takes place before the event. I wish I didn't have to say this.

The eventIs there a table and chair? I wish I was joking, too. One shop once forgot these completely, and elsewhere I've sat on, at or around various strange items of bookshop furniture. It should be a real table and a real chair, not a stool in front of a shelf unit with no room for the knees. Try and put together something you would be comfortable sitting and writing at for several hours.
Give some thought to where the signing table is.  I prefer to have my back to something - a wall, shelves, whatever. That means the kid with the blue anorak and one blocked nostril can't stare over my shoulder for two hours, which is off-putting (there's always one...)

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Road Runner Rules, advice and a contest.

9 rules for Road Runner Cartoons.

Follow the link for the final five.
Female characters as real human beings, some advice:
1. Have enough women in the story that they can talk to each other.2. Filling in tertiary characters with women, even if they have little dialogue or no major impact on plot, changes the background dynamic in unexpected ways.3. Set women characters into the plot as energetic participants in the plot, whether as primary or secondary or tertiary characters and whether in public or private roles within the setting. Have your female characters exist for themselves, not merely as passive adjuncts whose sole function is to serve as a mirror or a motivator or a victim in relationship to the male.
Who will make the next MacGyver?
3.  All proposed ideas must meet these requirements:
            a. Must be a good story, well told. Entertainment is the highest priority.

                As Walt Disney famously said: “I would rather entertain and hope that people learned
                something than educate people and hope they were entertained.”
            b. Show must feature an engineer or engineers as the main protagonist OR
                engineering as a central element to the show (MacGyver, for example, was a spy
                who used engineering in every episode).
            c. Show must be compelling to a middle or high school audience (from which we will
                get the next generation of engineers).

Deadline for Entries is April 17.