Jaym Gates is a publicist, editor, and author. She is currently editing a military science fiction anthology, War Stories, coming soon from Apex Books, and writing a Middle Eastern-inspired epic fantasy serial.
Good things to read.
The RangerUp! Blog/Rhino Den. I was on a military science fiction panel at Dragon Con a few weeks ago, and the moderator asked, “Where do you get your facts if you’ve never served in the military?” The answers were almost unanimously a version of ‘read this, read that’. There are a lot of books and blogs around, with varying degrees of awesome and accurate content. RangerUp is one of the best. Run by veterans, many of them former Army Rangers, it’s a fabulous blend of humor, sense, bad language, reporting, and insightful looks at the state of the military and its members.
Agha Shahid Ali’s poetry. Agha Shahid Ali was an Indian-American poet. His work is exquisite, shaped by the Kashmir conflict and a lifetime of travel and immersion in several very different cultures. “They make a desolation and call it peace. Who is the guardian tonight of the gates of Paradise?”
Al Jazeera. My introduction to Al Jazeera was probably like that of many Americans: the voice of the enemy after 9/11. (Exacerbated by growing up in an ultra-conservative family.) The irony is that this is where I—and many of my friends—now turn when we want real news, and real reporting. They also have a strong opinions section, frequently talking about things American outlets won’t touch: rape, discrimination, cultural differences. With media becoming increasingly imbalanced and unreliable, I can look here to get a view of the world at large.
Good things to watch.
So, I like animation. Not anime, as a general rule, but animation. The Pink Panther cartoon, Looney Tunes, Tom and Jerry, Mulan, How To Train Your Dragon…yeah, I like animation. I ALSO love action, and very dark, gritty, awful films, but the first three things to come to mind were animation.
Vimeo. Okay, so I’m cheating. But I have too many favorites. Kagemono: The Shadow Fox is one of my favorites, but there are hundreds of amazing little short films there for you to go through.
Rango. Sure, it’s an animated movie, but this was very much not made for kids. It’s a journey through an existential crisis, complete with facing your demons and finding your place in life.
Dragon Hunters. This is, hands down, one of the more beautiful films I’ve seen. It’s from a French studio, but it’s in English. The soundtrack is incredible, the animation is gorgeous, and it’s funny and sweet.
Bonus: Pacific Rim. Because really. Guillermo del Toro. This is one of those rare films best re-watched after reading some of the critical analysis pieces. The subtlety of the detail in the visuals is easily overlooked.
Good things to use.
Pinterest. It’s a great place to collect visual inspiration. You can pin almost any image directly to your boards, which means you aren’t taking up space on your hard drive, and you can organize more easily.
A paper planner. What? I’m anachronistic. I know it. But have a phone die on you one too many times, or your favorite technology or software go obsolete, or a computer crash… I like combining a paper planner with technology like Google Docs, DropBox, and Google Calendar. All are useful, but the paper planner makes it easier for me to see my commitments, and something about writing out a to-do list or schedule makes it more real for me.
TripIt! I travel a lot. I also have ridiculously bad travel luck. So if I land with twenty minutes to make my next flight, I don’t want to have to try and find a screen somewhere to tell me where to catch my connection. TripIt pro sends me up-to-date info on delays, gate changes, luggage, etc. It’s there, waiting for me, before I leave, and when I land, sent straight to my phone. It also tracks my airline and hotel points, and lets me share travel plans.