mapmyrun

Sarah Pinsker – Writer of Fiction and Songs

Sarah Pinsker is a singer-songwriter with three albums under her belt and a fourth in production. Her short fiction has been published in Strange Horizons and Asimov’s, and she has stories forthcoming in Magazine of  Fantasy & Science Fiction & Lightspeed, among others places.  These are her good things.

Good things to read.

Hild by Nicola Griffith. I have a habit of sometimes reading to finish a book, rather than reading to experience it, but I lived this novel. It’s a lush imagining, an act of deft, from-the-ground-up worldbuilding. I love how everyone has things to do, whether they are men, women, nobles, farmhands: there are herbs to collect, sheep to shear, cows to be milked, people to be healed, clothes to be woven. I love that the women have purpose and agency, and that every single character has wants and needs of his or her own. Hild herself develops organically from bright, observant child into larger-than-life seer. Some of the names get a little confusing at times, and I was grateful for the genealogy at the beginning, but it didn’t matter when I was swept up in it. Magnificent.

The Red: First Light by Linda Nagata.  Character-driven near-future military science fiction. The tech is accessible, believable, and well-integrated. The opening sequence is about as suspenseful and cinematic as anything I’ve ever read. The main character has interesting flaws and fully occupies the space between pawn and action hero. I’m not typically a military science fiction reader, but this was engrossing. Probably a good book to recommend toanyone who, like me, would start a sentence with “I’m not typically a military science fiction reader.”

The Long Hidden anthology (available sometime in May 2014). Admission: I’ve got a story in this anthology. That said, I’m not talking this up because of my story, and I would mention it even if I wasn’t in it. Skip mine if you want. The theme was speculative stories from the margins of history. The stories are set in Kenya and the Philippines and Winnipeg and twenty other places, dated from the 15th century to the 20th. They make people the heroes of their own stories, and tell the stories of people traditionally left out of the narrative. I can’t wait to read it.

Good things to watch.

Wristcutters: A Love Story. Based on Etgar Keret’s short story “Kneller’s Happy Campers,” the movie is set in a strange afterlife where people go after they’ve committed suicide. One of the main characters is based on Eugene Hutz, singer for Gogol Bordello, and the excellent soundtrack is full of Gogol Bordello and Tom Waits. This is an underrated comedy: bittersweet and clever, insightful and absurd.

Brady Barr’s Undercover Hippo.   The short version on YouTube doesn’t capture it. Brady Barr makes a hippo suit to get himself close enough to a wild hippo to scrape some sweat off of it. He panics every two seconds, gets stuck in mud and forces some poor guide to rescue him, discovers that (shocker!) his fake hippo scares away other hippos because it doesn’t smell like them. He covers his suit in hippo dung and makes himself sick from the odor. This is a comedy of errors. I won’t spoil all of them.

Josh Ritter’s The Curse. A gorgeous and poignant waltz. The video is told with puppets. Josh Ritter is a storyteller’s songwriter.

Good things to use.

Little reusable produce bags. My sister got mine on Etsy, but there are commercial versions that claim to suck out the gases that make your fruit go bad quickly. In any case, fruit does last better out of plastic bags, and those flimsy disposable supermarket bags tend to be hard ones to reuse for dogwalks or, well, anything. I like the full sized grocery bags that fold down small enough for a pocket, too.

Beer pancakes, elephant stew (no real elephants harmed) and other found recipes. We’ve all seen the ridiculous Buzzfeed posts on ill-advised recipes that people have found and attempted. That doesn’t stop me from buying recipe card boxes from yard sales and weird cookbooks. I found the beer pancakes in the 1955 Esquire Cookbook. They are SO GOOD, and every beer gives them a different deliciousness.

MapMyRun Useful for runners, walkers, dog walkers, bikers, and anyone else who is inspired by numbers and charts. It lets me see how far I’ve walked or run, and better yet, cumulative mileage. I think there are areas to track food intake and gym reps too, and a social media aspect you can opt in or out of, but I mostly like the patterns: my run that looks like a figure eight, and the big loop around the neighborhood, and the one that takes me down the big hill and back in serpentine. Look at the grade of that road! Look how many miles I racked up this week! It’s all very gratifying. My goal for last year was to log enough miles to get me to Canada. Very, very slowly.

Connect with Sarah on Twitter, @SarahPinsker.

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Annie Parsons

This is Annie Parsons and these are her good things.

What are some good things you’ve read?

Emma Donaghue’s “Room” is the best book I’ve read in the past year. Narrated by a 5-year old boy who has spent the entirety of his life with his young mother in the confines of a single room, the premise is dark – but the larger story is beautiful.

“Little Bee” by Chris Cleave is a haunting book that hinges on a single horrific encounter, forever binding two strangers together. The writing is so precise, so detailed, so perfect, it makes me never want to write again. Clear your weekend and read this story.

I read Donald Miller’s “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” in two days. It was fantastic, and inspiring, and made me want to choose differently and live a good story.

What are some good things you’ve watched?

The greatest television series I’ve ever watched is “Friday Night Lights.” You will fall in love with the small town of Dillon, Texas, and the people who live there. This show has been known to make grown men cry – so consider yourselves warned.

“Parenthood” is another fantastic show – lovable characters, and relatively true-to-life situations. Being a part of a family is a complicated and beautiful thing.

And my favorite movie of all time is “That Thing You Do!” It’s the happiest, most feel-good story following the rise and fall of a fictional rock & roll band in the early 60s. Directed by Tom Hanks, the cast is delightful and hilarious, and so quotable. Watch it – I dare you not to smile.

What are some good things you use?

I had a birthday in August, and was given the most amazing electric wine bottle opener. The Waring Pro uncorks a bottle with the touch of a button, making refills that much easier.

MapMyRun.com makes logging workouts so simple. Enough said.

And finally, the FURminator is a lifesaver around our house. With two long-haired dogs, it’s our only hope.