Glorious Miscellanea

Actually, that'd be a good name for an autobiography (or perhaps a band). Miscellanea does often tend to be of the glorious variety, but don't get your hopes up.


So maybe you've noticed I've been dropping more short little posts around here. I finally realized that this is the only way I know how to run this blog. If I don't put up small posts when I have time, I'm far less inclined to do lengthier posts now and then, or even conversational ones like this (nattering is secretly my favorite category of posts). When we were in Madison, actually while leaving the fabulous Strange Horizons Tea Party to go see one of the best readings I've ever been to–Karen Joy Fowler, Carol Emshwiller, Eileen Gunn, Pat Murphy and Terry Bisson–Dave Schwartz and I were talking on the elevator about blogging and I said I don't post much these days because I feel like an impostor. And he said, "Oh, did you just come from the panel on impostor syndrome?" and I said, "No, but I have it!" And apparently this is common enough that it needed a panel.

Anyway, what I meant was that I don't feel comfortable doing weightier posts or even just longer ones when I'm only poking my head up rarely. They start to feel like work then, as if they loom too large and will sit at the top of the site for ages. I always said I'd keep doing this as long as it was fun. Thus, the return of little posts in addition to hangover links. Doing those, it feels far more in balance to drop in for something like this.

This is actually not the meta-blogging post, bizarrely, which is saved as a draft and will probably stay that way. Too much meta isn't nearly as fun as too much miscellanea. But, suffice to say, I'm thrilled that Lizzie's back blogging, and Carolyn's been posting quite a bit too, and Sarah had some interesting things to say about awards the other day, and so maybe we're having a little old-school litblog renaissance. I like it, and I'll be here more often. The more voices in the conversation, the more fun it is to be a part of it.


These thoughts are also tied up for me with the semi-hilarious furor recently caused by Laura Miller–one of the smartest readers and critics on the planet–doing something crazy, aka Putting Links At The End Instead Of In The Main Text Of The Post. Her follow-up post asserts that not leaning on links in text can make for better writing.

I'm not going to start griping about the internet and what it does to our brains here. I believe these machines and the stuff we do with them online is wonderful and magically connective and, overall, a force for good. BUT I did begin to notice that while I read lots of stuff online, much of it seems to be teaching me about the same things. Rather than encountering completely left-field stuff, or learning about new things in depth, the things I absorb most seem to be the whipped cream on the top of the coffee. This is undoubtedly more about my own browsing style than anything else, but I decided I wanted to issue a bit of a corrective.

So we subscribed to a bunch of magazines that were heavier on nonfiction than our usual wont. Smithsonian, Harper's, The Oxford American, Bust (the closest thing left to Sassy, but also it's own thing), National Geographic, and Cabinet. New Scientist is next. (Feel free to recommend your favorites.) I had nearly forgotten how much I love magazines on a purely tactile level. They are perfect for so many things, including a different kind of browsing than the internet is. They are also a good source of story ideas, which there's been discussion about lately, following on Kelly's post. And, of course, not just the big ideas which fuel an entire story, but the dozens of little ones that can help fuel any one page of said story. There is a great deal of raw fictional power in any good nonfiction.


Apropos of nothing: TV.

I watch almost no TV while it's actually airing. As a Certified Old Person, 9 p.m. is the latest I'll stay up to watch something, and usually, it's more like 8. After that, it officially gets shifted to whenever's convenient. (I have to read books sometimes, and that's usually at night.)

True Blood is one of the only shows I watch live–and, in fact, gave in to weakness and renewed our HBO subscription just to watch it. And I don't think it's a perfect show, but it's a nearly perfect hour of the television viewing experience. Anyone who wants to study cliffhangers and how they work, this is the show–I never watched 24, which is the only show I can think of where this would also make sense, but I love the commitment to never interrupting the time span of the narrative. Each episode picks up *exactly* where the previous one left off. None of that handwavery and three months later, which is an interesting constraint.

I'm convinced True Blood's the modern answer to the serial novel. I'm just glad I only have to run to my couch, and not down to the smelly docks. 

We've also been watching the first season of Fringe, which is way more enjoyable than I expected. The thing I'm loving about it so far is that it's completely illogical but makes sure that each episode's internal logic–while laughable–is so consistent it carries you along anyway. This is how science works when it's magic instead. Speaking of which, we have invented a Fringe drinking game. You drink anytime someone on the show offers up a definition of the singularity without actually saying the word.

It happens at least once an ep, but rarely more. Perhaps as a drinking game this needs work, then. We could add: for each shot of the cow, each outburst from Walter, each time someone has wires stuck up their nose in service to a ridiculous machine? Maybe I'll revive the old TV posts for new episodes this fall.

Also, SYTYCD is back! I can't bring myself to vote, because I like all the dancers so far. The SYTYCD drinking game would definitely involve drinking whenever Nigel says something pervy and everyone laughs in that "Oh, granddad, you rascal–in your day!" way. Actually, that might be *too* successful a drinking game, especially considering how often the show airs.

Related links:

Strange Horizons tea party/send them some loot

Lizzie announces she's reopening Old Hag (a must read and adore), and smackdowns the mefi crew

A for instance Carolyn's blogging more post

Ditto with Sarah on awards

Laura Miller on the hyperlink war

Kelly on generating story ideas

8 thoughts on “Glorious Miscellanea”

  1. I could not possibly agree more with you on all of this. Great post – and honestly I have always loved your hangover posts; they keep me up on tons of stuff.
    Re: magazines – I’ve been subscribing to Smithsonian for 15 years or so (honestly it might be 20) and my aunt has gotten me Nat Geo since I was 12!!! Both always have something in that appeals to me and the photos in Nat Geo can not be beat. My son (8) gets ASK which is kind of a mini Smithsonian and we have been buying MUSE lately as well – sort of a Smith/New Scientist mashup for the 9-12 set. I learn every month from these as well when we read them together. (I want to get him on the magazine reading habit early.)
    I also get ORION which is all environmental and always includes something from Barry Lopez or Rebecca Solnit, Bill McKibben, etc. Thought provoking stuff. You have inspired me to renew my long lapsed sub to Oxford American – when I saw Maud had a piece there I thought really I needed to get on that and now I simply will do it immediately.
    Still getting Vanity Fair but that’s an okay guilty pleasure, right????

  2. One of the best parts of summer is SYTYCD. I love Cat Deely and even, dare I say it, Nigel. I don’t know why it makes me so happy but it does, so much so that I don’t want to investigate my happiness for fear of ruining it.

  3. You need never feel guilty here. I don’t believe in being guilty about one’s pleasures. Orion sounds great–will add to the list. I’ve been wishing there was something like Omni still around. Also, I used to love Outside, especially David Quammen’s columns for them, so I should probably check in with it too.
    The Oxford American is a great love of mine and it’s nice to be reading it again after so long. Like everything that declares itself southern though, sometimes I find myself arguing with it… probably worth a post about the latest one I’ve been having soon.

  4. I know! Oh, and I can’t hold Nigel’s throwback-ness against him either, because it doesn’t seem in the least mean-spirited on his part. And it’s really pretty amazing some of the things he sneaks on there as director, and how nerdily excited he is when the classic dance forms make an appearance.
    I suspect it would hold up better than my sole other reality addiction, ANTM, to scrutiny.

  5. Ah, OUTSIDE. It’s my dream publication as far as getting pubbed on AK flying stuff. It infuriates me sometimes as it glorifies AK too much I think but I realize that is what the audience wants. When you consider that Krakauer began there though – and wasn’t Junger’s Perfect Storm first in Outside? – it really is impressive.
    I personally wish they had not photo shopped Lance’s t-shirt this month, but guess I shouldn’t be surprised. (National Geographic is the last bastion of no photos hopping, I think.)

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