Magic Monday ~ Magical Storytelling

MagicMonday

I like Mondays. On Monday, I am refreshed from the weekend and exhilarated by the possibilities of the week ahead. I also like magic. I like its history, its intersection with technology, and its crafty use of human nature.  I figured I’d combine the two and make a Monday feature that is truly me: a little bit of magic and a look at the week ahead.

I’m pretty fond of “storytelling” magic: those routines in which the magician uses patter to tie a narrative to the trick. Here is a lovely example by Suzanne using a magical standard.

SmallAce

What Am I Reading?

may 25
The Estella Project is taking recommendations for this season’s reading list, and I submitted The Last Unicorn. That and a bout of melancholy led me to go ahead and reread it (and the associated Schmendrick stories). I have 50 pages and “Two Hearts” left. (“Two Hearts” is available free and legal at Peter S. Beagle’s website. Just sayin’.) Then, on to Beauty and Chaos: Slices and Morsels of Tokyo Life by Michael Pronko and back to Michael Chabon’s Maps and Legends. I’ve been enjoying the collection of essays by Chabon, but too much literary criticism is too much literary criticism even when it is by a genre agnostic. After a couple not so thrilling tales, I’ll be reading a boxing mystery, “In the Tank” by Andrew Bergman, this week for Deal Me In.

On the Blog

Look at that, a Magic Monday post! At least, a little share of a Magic Monday. The imposed conundrum of blogging is how to provide content consistently without burning out. Really, though, unless it’s your *job*, blogging should be about what makes you happy. Maybe that doesn’t get you an uber amount of readers, but it does keep you sane.

ROW 80 ~ Sunday Update, May 24th

Update

Writing

  • Finish In Need of Luck
    • Finish chapters in progress. Right wrongs. Let’s say, min. 500 words/day. – 529 on Friday. I’m making this due by 5/31. I putter around with rewrites/edits for way too long, and I was really unmotivated this past week. It hit me on Wednesday that it’s been four years since my grandmother died. That left me in the doldrums. It was easier to do comfortable activities like reading an old favorite, researching my other project, and playing too much Minecraft.
    • Talk with Eric about remaining chapters. – Still haven’t yet.
  • For May/June – Scene rewrites for PHYSICa.
  • For May/June – Abbott Project
    • Organize notes / Transcribe free write bits that might be useful to Abbott project. – I gathered my physical notes this morning while running anti-malware/cleanup on my computer, but I also want to organize my files. Somehow things have gotten spread out.
    • Spent Thursday researching instead of working on In Need of Luck. Will probably start spending one day a week in online archives. Don’t know if this is a goal or a complicating factor.
  • Daily free write. – Wrote Wednesday-Saturday.

Reading, related to writing

  • Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands
    by Michael Chabon. – 55% done. Needed a break from Chabon.
  • For May/June – The Call of Stories by Robert Coles.
  • Finish reading River City Empire (related to next possible writing project) by the end of April.
  • On the River, Down Where They Found Willy Brown by Theodore Wheeler (also related to the possible Abbott project)

Publishing

  • Look for new promo options. – I have a big list and I am slowly investigating new options.
  • EntangledContinua.com – Better mobile design. – Couldn’t stand to look at it after Tuesday.
  • EntangledContinua.com – Add excerpts. – No movement until I get redesign done.
  • New descriptions/categories/tags for Weordan books. (April 15th)
  • List of reviewer contacts.

Personal Growth

  • Next Python class starts May 23. Review by doing a project related to book promo info. Didn’t even touch this before class started yesterday. This is being pushed to a far back burner.

ROW80LogocopyROW 80 is a blog hop!

Please, check out how other Round of Words participants are doing with their goals.

Deal Me In, Week 21 ~ “Blood Doesn’t Come Out”

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Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis

“Blood Doesn’t Come Out” by Michael Crichton

Card picked: Jack of Clubs

From: McSweeney’s Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales, edited by Michael Chabon

Thoughts: Thrilling Tales have not been so thrilling lately…

This is the semi-hard-boiled noir-ish story of Los Angeles private detective Ray Chambers. Ray isn’t having a good day. He’s screwed up his current investigation, his car payment is late, and his actress girlfriend Janis has left him. Janis’s main accusation is that Ray is stuck in the past. She can’t even move the photo of Ray’s mother on the piano without Ray getting annoyed. Thing is, Ray doesn’t even like his abusive mother. She’s been in a home for a few years, but maybe she still holds sway over Ray’s life. Ray decides to do something about that.

Ray isn’t a sympathetic character or even an interesting character. His life doesn’t seem *that* bad and he doesn’t really blame his screw-ups on his mother’s attitude toward him. As a reader, we see that she’s always been an abusive alcoholic, but we’re only given a one day look into Ray’s life (one morning, really) and the incidents feel singular. These isn’t much of a build-up to a life gone wrong.

About the Author: In light of the 1990 blockbuster novel Jurassic Park, it’s easy to forget that Michael Crichton published his first novel in 1966 (under a pseudonym). In light of this short story, I think longer works with a good dollop of science and technology probably suit him better than semi-hard-boiled noir-ish private detective character studies.

ROW 80 ~ Wednesday Update, May 20th

Update, since May 10th

Writing

  • Finish In Need of Luck
    • Finish chapters in progress. Right wrongs. Let’s say, min. 500 words/day. – 705 on Sunday, 505 on Monday, nothing on Tuesday. I have a problem with Tuesdays.
    • Talk with Eric about remaining chapters. – Haven’t yet.
  • For May/June – Scene rewrites for PHYSICa.
  • For May/June – Transcribe free write bits that might be useful to Abbott project. – Eric came up with an interesting angle for the Abbott project and I’m probably going to turn my eye toward what might be useful for that.
  • Daily free write. – Wrote Sunday, Monday, Tuesday.

Reading, related to writing

  • Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands
    by Michael Chabon. – 53% done.
  • For May/June – The Call of Stories by Robert Coles.
  • Finish reading River City Empire (related to next possible writing project) by the end of April.
  • On the River, Down Where They Found Willy Brown by Theodore Wheeler (also related to the possible Abbott project)

Publishing

  • Look for new promo options. – No movement
  • EntangledContinua.com – Better mobile design. – I’ve been reduced to floating elements….
  • EntangledContinua.com – Add excerpts. – No movement until I get redesign done.
  • New descriptions/categories/tags for Weordan books. (April 15th)
  • List of reviewer contacts.

Personal Growth

  • Next Python class starts May 23. Review by doing a project related to book promo info. – No movement.

ROW80LogocopyROW 80 is a blog hop!

Please, check out how other Round of Words participants are doing with their goals.

Review ~ On the River, Down Where They Found Willy Brown

On the River, Down Where They Found Willy Brown by Theodore Wheeler

Cover via Goodreads

The story of an immigrant boy who’s caught up in a race riot and lynching, based on events surrounding the Omaha Race Riot of 1919. While trying to find a safe place in the world after being exiled from his home during World War I, Karel Miihlstein is caught in a singular historical moment and one of America’s most tragic episodes.

Written in the tradition of the historically-set work of Don DeLillo, Denis Johnson, and Colum McCann, On the River, Down Where They Found Willy Brown depicts its characters in deep personal detail and wide social panorama—from a contentious Interrace baseball game on the Fourth of July to the ear-splitting clatter of a race riot—while revealing the folly of human nature in an age of astonishing ambition. (via Goodreads)

Last week I wrote about Orville D. Menard’s River City Empire, a book about Omaha’s political and criminal boss Tom Dennison. During the 1918 elections, reformists gained a political foothold after over a decade of Dennison’s picks being elected, namely perpetual mayor Jim Dahlman. In response, crime seemed to increase in the city. The lesson: Dennison’s brand of corruption was better for the city than unchecked activity. Of course, there is also evidence that Dennison and his cronies were behind some of the high profile incidents, including men in blackface assaulting white women. Dennison had influence over the Omaha Bee daily newspaper and it reported on the assaults as well as racial unrest around the country in shrill detail. Add to that, preexisting tensions in the city due to unemployment. The accusation against Will Brown—of raping 19-year-old Agnes Loeback—was the match that lit the powder keg. A mob of thousands of white men laid siege to the Douglas County Courthouse until Will Brown was turned over to them.

Into this historical event, Theodore Wheeler places Karel Miihlstein. Karel is an immigrant, as many were in culturally diverse Omaha. He’s a good kid with four sisters, no mother, and a father focused very much on his own work as a repairer of violins. Karel has some knack at baseball, a sport that is nationally popular and an important entertainment. I don’t know how much of the July 4th baseball game is fact or fiction, but it feels real; it feels like an event that could get lodged in a young man’s mind and could lead to bad decisions later. Wheeler does a wonderful job with the setting, but an even better job giving his characters motive for behaving as they do.

Publishing info, my copy: Edition Solitude, Kindle Edition, 2015
Acquired: Amazon
Genre: Historical
Previously: I came across Theodore Wheeler while, surprise, doing research into Tom Dennison and early 20th century Omaha. According to his webpage, there is a novel length version of this novella in the works.

ROW 80 ~ Sunday Update, May 17th

Update, since May 10th

Writing

  • In Need of Luck
    • Outline the chapters we have. – Done.
    • Review Eric’s notes. – Done.
    • Finish chapters in progress. Right wrongs. Let’s say, min. 500 words/day.
    • Talk with Eric about remaining chapters.
  • For May/June – Scene rewrites for PHYSICa.
  • For May/June – Transcribe free write bits that might be useful to Abbott project.
  • Daily free write. – Wrote Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday.

Reading, related to writing

  • On the River, Down Where They Found Willy Brown by Theodore Wheeler (also related to the possible Abbott project)Finished on Monday. Review coming on Tuesday.
  • Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands
    by Michael Chabon. – 37% done.
  • For May/June – The Call of Stories by Robert Coles.
  • Finish reading River City Empire (related to next possible writing project) by the end of April.

Publishing

  • May 13th – Take a look at Luck for Hire‘s meta data (ahead of May 16th promo). – Done.
  • Look for new promo options. – No movement
  • EntangledContinua.com – Better mobile design. – Going to shoot for a responsive design rather than a redirect. Need to figure out what to do with my sidebar menu.
  • EntangledContinua.com – Add excerpts. – No movement until I get redesign done.
  • New descriptions/categories/tags for Weordan books. (April 15th)
  • List of reviewer contacts.

Personal Growth

  • Next Python class starts May 23. Review by doing a project related to book promo info. – Figured out what info I want to isolate. Haven’t done any actual coding yet.

ROW80LogocopyROW 80 is a blog hop!

Please, check out how other Round of Words participants are doing with their goals.

Deal Me In, Week 20 ~ “The Albertine Notes”

20140105-160356

Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis

“The Albertine Notes” by Rick Moody

Card picked: Queen of Spades

From: Thrilling Tales, ed. by Michael Chabon

Thoughts: At week 20, I have come upon my first DNF story of the year. More of a novella than a short story (weighing in at 61 pages), I gave “The Albertine Notes” twenty pages to keep me interested. Honestly, I only made it seventeen pages.

The premise seemed good: After an atomic bomb is detonated in New York City, many disenfranchised people turn to the drug Albertine. Albertine allows for perfect and immersive recall of memories. And even the ability to “remember” the future. I was willing to suspend disbelief; memory doesn’t work like this, but I’d go for a speculative fiction ride. Unfortunately, the telling of this story is really muddy and repetitive.

Kevin Lee, our narrator, is a journalist tasked with investigating the claims that surround Albertine. There are long circular explanations of how the drug might work and how it might have been connected to the bombing mixed in with paranoid conspiracies involving the government and drug dealers. It reminded me of Danielewski’s House of Leaves, but without the weird feeling of impending doom. It just didn’t work for me.

About the Author: Rick Moody is pretty notable in the realm of literary fiction. Alas, I’m only familiar with his works via a movie adaptation. The Ice Storm is rather good.