Just plain cool

News of the Weird (per Stone and Sea)

James Clavell's ShogunFirst: I’m not sure why it’s stuck with me for as long as it has, but there’s a quote from James Clavell’s, ‘Shogun‘, that has surfaced in my mind on more than one occasion: “…like a butterfly on the summer’s breath.”

I hear it in the background when I realize that I just can’t seem to focus on a project, or while listening to my kiddos during any of their countless rapid-fire summaries of that day’s events, or sometimes (ahem) when trying to keep up with my wife when we’re [debating]. I’ve also heard it, from time to time, while drumming up ideas for posts here at Stone and Sea.

You see, one of the great things about kicking-off this blog again is how much it’s changed the way I’m consuming information.

Second: Perhaps not unlike yours, feeds in my social networks have, for the last few years, been so insanely negative and frustrating that I typically log-in, scan for a handful of minutes, then close up and go drink. You know, heavily.

Since I’ve started writing again, though, I find that I tend to avoid the nasty threads and instead jump down random, thought-provoking/intriguing rabbit holes to see where they lead. The only caveat I’d note with that note is that I avoid, like the plague, the comments section on anything. There are far too many mean, vapid, and seemingly psychotic individuals that live in those threads. Go there at your own peril.

Those rabbit holes, however, often lead me to surprisingly interesting posts, articles, tweets, images, etc. So, taking a queue from The Austin Chronicle, I’m going to keep a file of those random moments under the heading of “News of the Weird” and post them here from time to time. Who knows where they might lead you, but if you discover a cool bit of this or that in the journey, let me know.

For now, here are a couple I thought you might like:

TED Talk: Elizabeth Gilbert – Your Elusive Creative Genius

I’ve had this Elizabeth Gilbert talk bookmarked for years because it’s just about one of the most awesome things in the history of ever. Ms. Gilbert is the author of ‘Eat, Pray, Love,’ and spends her time in this talk addressing creativity, what it means to be a genius, and provides a word or two on poetry. If you’ve not seen this before you’re in for a treat.

 

The lost years of William Shakespeare

The Iron DruidFor the last few years I’ve read a series of books under the heading of ‘The Iron Druid Chronicles’, by Kevin Hearne. If you’re into SF/Fantasy, they’re a great and fairly light read and are absolutely worth a look. To be clear, I’m not saying they’re fluff, but they’re certainly not the mental commitment of ‘Lord of the Rings’ or the ridiculous time-sink that is Jordan’s ‘Wheel of Time’ series.

They are, however, a lovely and well-written series of tales that manage to incorporate Irish, Norse, Asian, and Native American religion and folklore, viewed through the lens of a modern-day Druid working to preserve the planet. There’s also a wolfhound named Oberon who is (not surprisingly) obsessed with meat, gravy, and more meat. Check it out – you’ll like it.

In one of the novels, the lead character (Atticus) tells a story of the time he prevented Mr. Shakespeare from becoming a late-night snack for a coven of witches. Yes, I get that it sounds goofy out of context. Read the series and you’ll totally get it.

That story, however, prompted me to do a little research on the real-life bio of our favorite bard, and I discovered an interesting fact: he was MIA for seven years. My mind immediately started building Robert Johnson/Deal with the Devil scenarios, but that’s me.

Where was he? What was he doing? It’s a mystery, but one that’s fun to chew on. If you’re interested, you can find more information here.

 

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Perfectly and appropriately unsettling

Found a collection of Harry Clarke illustrations for the works of Edgar Allan Poe that, in a word, rock my world. The one below is the first of five and you can find the rest here. You’re welcome. Big thanks to Marissa for posting these.

Marketing, poetry, and a righteous Virgo

sculptureWhen it comes to music, over the years I’ve traditionally gravitated towards female artists. Not sure what it is. Of course there are the exceptions – I’m always up for a playlist of Iron and Wine, Depeche Mode, or Silversun Pickups – but for the most part women vocalists seem to resonate with me in a way I can’t quite explain.

Apparently, I like women writers, too.

There’s a site I try and visit a few times a week, especially on Thursday, under the handle of Communicatrix. The author of this blog is a lovely writer named Colleen Wainwright, and I very much encourage you to check her out if you get a few minutes. 

Okay, check her outmight be inappropriate, but you should at the very least read her blog. Seriously.

In addition to serving up thoughtful, funny, and relevant posts, she’s also a complete freakin’ joy to read. No kidding. Side note – jumping around her site this morning I stumbled across something (an older post that’s absolutely, serendipitously, perfect for a situation that’s going on right now in my life) that I imaigine I’ll be writing about soon. But that’s for later.

For now, know this: every Thursday she posts a poem. The topics vary, but the writing is ALWAYS well worth you time. Last week’s poem dealt with Marketing (what pays my bills) and one verse had me nodding my head and smiling. And even though we markters aren’t always successfull at this, her message was right on point.

Marketing
is the truth of you,
translated
into the language of them:
in the room
on the page
over the air.

You see, it’s when the truth shifts to messages or ads filled with what we marketers think you want the truth to be that we find ourselves in trouble. And it happens all too often.

Photo by Peter Rivera

Moving Day

boxes

I had a fairly lengthy couple of opening paragraphs going as a lead-in to this post when it occurred to me a mini novella explaining the virtue of streamlining and simplification might be at cross-purposes.

The short version is this: I have way, way too many bookmarks and folders of “cool shit to read when I get a chance” on my desktop and in my browsers. So, taking a cue from a friend at work, I’m looking to cut loose, clean out, and simplify my digital closets. What follows are a few summaries and links in case you see something you might find interesting…

Doris Egan
I’ve written about her before, but if you haven’t spent some time looking through Ms Egan’s Website you’re missing out. She’s an author and writer for the show House. She’s also a fairly busy woman, and as such doesn’t update very often, but there are some absolute gems if you have a few moments to read.

The first explains why she likes to write about flawed heroes.

“But how much more satisfying to bring your villain right up to the floodlights and have him do his damage; and then to drench him in ambiguity by showing as well that he possesses courage, self-knowledge, and the ability to withstand a bleak existence with grace. It’s that drop of blood in the pearl that gives it its luster.”

That drop of blood in the pearl – wow – what a fantastically lovely phrase. At any rate, the second piece focuses on what it means to be a woman who’s growing older, but I encourage anyone to check it out, no matter what your age. Side note: while the quote below isn’t as sexy as the one above, this was my first kiss with Ms Egan, and the writing that holds me captive :

“The beauty of growing older is that after one has made a fool of oneself enough times, the idea no longer holds quite the same terror.”

50 Banned Books That Everyone Should Read
Fairly straightforward list, but I’m always surprised by some of the titles. 

29 Amazing Long Exposure Pictures
In a word, amazing. Check ’em out.

Photo by Rick

If you don’t know what a Tauntaun is you might want to skip this post

The head our Creative Services department brought this wonderful product to my attention. While it might defy the line, “I thought they smelled bad on the outside,” it does claim to “simulate the warmth of a Tauntaun carcass.” Righteous. Add mock entrails and a glowing lightsaber pull that  mimics slitting open this poor creature’s belly and I know exactly what I’m buying my newphew for Christmas this year.

tauntaun-sleepingbag

Another weekend introduction

Or, more music you might not know but should…

I started out with the intention of writing this post about the Interactive segment of South by Southwest but little monkey that I am, became distracted by something bright and shiny (in this case, a tune that surfaced while listening to my iPod). I’ll get back to writing that one soon, but for now I’ve another weekend introduction, albeit one I’m offering a tad early.

The band is callled Silversun Pickups and they have a sound that will absolutely blow you away. Reminiscent of the Smashing Pumpkins, these guys are one of the coolest bands I’ve heard in a long, long time. FYI, if you like the song below I recommend picking up the album – digital or otherwise – the whole thing is just as good.

(One caveat – Not sure how I’m feeling about the video but don’t hold that against them – just put on some headphones, turn ’em up to 11, and close your eyes…)

Thoughts about the NBA

basketballFact: I can’t stand basketball. In fact, the pleasure I feel watching a fast-paced, really important basketball  game ranks somewhere slightly below cleaning up baby vomit. And, as I’ve had to do that a few times recently, I can say with certainty I’m absolutely not using hyperbole with that statement.

It’s a mystery.

Which is why it might seem strange that I suggest you read an article – a fairly long article, I might add/warn – that is solely about the NBA, what’s happening now, and where it’s headed. Written by a cat named Bill Simmons, this article kept me reading, interested, and engaged. And, when all was said and done, it left me shaking my head in wonder.

I had no idea…

“Clearly, we wouldn’t put this budding debacle on par with the Gulf War, the collapse of American car companies, the real estate quagmire, the implosion of Wall Street, the decline of the American dollar, the shaky footing of previously untouchable media institutions (newspapers, magazines, TV networks, movie studios and publishing companies), or even Vegas and the porn industry caving financially.”

Photo by StuSeeger