moleskine notebook

Mary Kincaid – Style Blogger

Mary Kincaid is the founder of Zuburbia, a style blog that curates vintage fashion and home items. She’s also a storytelling and content coach for keynote speakers. Here are her good things.

Good things to read.

The Circle by Dave Eggers.  I found this technothriller more terrifying than other science fiction because it paints a picture of a digital dystopia that could be right around the corner. Its examination of ripped-from-the-headlines issues off privacy, surveillance and social media participation is sure to spark riveting conversation at your next dinner party.

Creative Authenticity: 16 Principles to Clarify and Deepen Your Artistic Vision by Ian Roberts.  Ian Roberts is a painter but he has also written this beautiful book for any of us engaged in artistic pursuits. Less of a how-to and more of a deeply personal ode to creativity and self-expression, this is one of those books that I underlined, highlighted and circled like a mad woman.

Love, An Inner Connection by Carol K. Anthony.  This book examines love based on principles drawn from the ancient Chinese text, the I Ching. Unfortunately, I discovered it too late to save my marriage. If only I had been introduced to it before I said “I do”! Read it and learn from my mistake.

Good things to watch.

HBO GO.  It’s hard to pick a favorite HBO series since they crank out winner after winner. But here they are. All the winners. All the episodes. All in one place. Pinch me, I’m dreaming.

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work.  I’m writing a solo show at the moment and taking a lot of inspiration from comedians. This 2010 documentary takes you behind the scenes for one year into the life of this 75-year-old comic and it’s a lovely tribute to her grit, hard work and talent. You go girl!

Iconoclasts.  What happens when you throw two creative visionaries from entirely different fields together? Six seasons of pure riveting magic on the Sundance Channel.

Good things to use.

Your Local Library.  If you haven’t been to your local library since you were a kid, it’s time to re-visit. They’re not just treasure troves of books anymore. My Los Angeles Public Library allows me to download music, movies, audio books and magazines plus it offers an amazing lecture series. All FREE!

Moleskine Notebooks.  There’s nothing like the feel of pen on paper especially when that paper is FSC-certified, acid-free and bound beautifully. I’ve used the Moleskine daily planner as my nightly journal for years.

Eucalan.  Hint, hint: Just because a piece of clothing says “Dry Clean Only” doesn’t mean you have to take it to the dry cleaners. I loooove this eco-friendly alternative. It’s a non-toxic, biodegradable, phosphate-free, no rinse delicate wash that’s enriched with natural lanolin and it’s simply amaaaazing.

Connect with Mary on Twitter, @MaryKincaid.

Galen Dara – Illustrator

Galen Dara likes to sit in a dark corner listening to the voices in her head.  She has a love affair with the absurd & twisted, and an affinity for monsters, mystics, & dead things. Also, she likes extremely ripe apricots. She has illustrated for Edge Publishing, Lightspeed, Fireside Magazine, Apex, Scapezine, Tales to Terrify, Dagan Books, and the LovecraftZine. Recent book covers include War Stories, Glitter & Mayhem, Oz Re-imagined, and the Geek Love anthology – these are her good things.

Good things to read.

Saga, written by Brian K. Vaughn, art by Fiona Stapels. The storytelling is brain blowingly poignant and the art is sublime. Marko and Alana are fugitive lovers from two sides of a bloody galactic civil war, on the run from assassins, the whole thing is narrated by their newborn baby girl. Wow. A profoundly amazing family story. (Oh, but not family friendly. This is a very “adult content” comic, in fact Comixology banned issue #12 from it’s stores. After an uproar and some diplomacy that issue is back up now.) You can get Vol 1 and 2 in trade paperback, but if you have a chance, go put the monthly singles on a pull list at your local comic store. It’s worth it just for Brian’s letter column at the end.

Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert. I picked this one up at the library a few years ago, not knowing anything about the author or what it was about, simply because the title intrigued me. (“What, there are no men left in America??!”) What followed was a fascinating look into the life of Eustace Conway who walked away from suburbia when he was 17 to become a modern day mountain man. It totally captivated me.

Anything by Octavia Butler. I first stumbled across her work in an Isaac Asimov collection of Hugo Winning short stories: Speech Sounds (1984) and BloodChild (1985) remain some of the most memorable pieces in that collection. Parable of the Sower, Wild Seed and Fledgling are some of my favorite of her novels, but her collection of short stories (Bloodchild and other stories) just gives such a powerful glimpse into her favorite themes spread across a variety of settings and characters, I love it!

Good things to watch.

Weeds. Is it too disturbing that my new motto is “What Would Nancy Do?” Seriously, suburban housewife slash marijuana dealer Nancy Botwin is not an optimal role model and sometimes I hate her, deeply, but I am head over heals in love with this entire darkly funny series. (Created by Jenji Kohan who also created Orange is the New Black. Jenji, I love you!)

X-Files. Oh Scully, you make my heart flutter with every long suffering eye roll. And I never get tired of hearing you ask “Mulder, what’s going on here?” as the conspiracy unfolds in high dramatic fashion. I really thought I had seen all of the X-files, (I would come home with stacks of VHS copies from the video store on a regular basis.) But no, thanks to Netflix I am discovering huge gaps in my collection and I am fixing that with enthusiasm. (omg. All the guest stars I never quite grasped before! Seth Green! Tony Shalhoub! Jack Black! Shia LaBeouf! Kaylee Frye!! etc.)

Stuff You Should Know. Well I mostly listen to the podcasts, but they do have a TV show on the science channel (and a YouTube channel) so I’m counting it. Josh and Chuck you are seriously awesome. I also enjoy Stuff To Blow Your Mind, and will eventually dive into Stuff They Don’t Want You To Know (I think it will go well with my X-Files fanaticism). But really, saving the best for last, Tracy V. Wilson and Holly Frey have all my love for their research on Stuff You Missed In History Class episodes.

Good things to use.

A door frame pull-up bar installed inside your residence. I’ve had them on the porch or garage and still use them, but when it’s installed actually inside my living space (like in my bedroom door) I use it much more. Every time I walk by it is an invitation to get my feet off the ground for a moment or so. (For variation in getting one’s feet off the ground I’ll eventually install a hanging board above the kitchen door. Meanwhile I’m making good use of some Metolius rings a friend gave me. (Thanks Gerry!))

Walking shoes. Nothing fancy, just something you can comfortably walk around the block in. I love walking, NEED to walk, I do it several times a day whenever time (and climate) allows. It keeps me sane, helps me decompress, gives my mind a chance to unwind.

Sketchbook and pen. Never be caught without one. The Canson basic black sketchbook, 5.5 x 8.5 inches is an old standby for me. Moleskines are awesome but I tend to fight with the thick creaminess of the classic moleskin pages: the pocket sized graph paper version is my favorite as far as moleskins go. For pens, while I frequently use just any old black-inked ball point pen, it’s the .005 sized microns just make my heart flutter.

Connect with her on Twitter, @galendara.

Carson Samson – Designer

Carson Samson began working as a graphic designer in 1999. In 2005, he launched Samson Design Studios. Carson has partnered with a talented group of professionals and innovative minds to provide full-tilt creative services, catered specifically to non-profits, charities and NGOs. He writes on the topics of Design, Branding, Evernote and Small Business at Design+Business.  These are his good things.

Good things to read.

The Newspaper. Not only is it easier to read news online, it’s far more up to date. That’s why I cancelled my newspaper subscription. But the weekend edition of your favourite newspaper provides a refreshing break from the screen-viewing. As a bonus, weekend editions are usually loaded with Arts/Culture and opinion pieces. I’m a Canadian, who prefers a national perspective, so I read The Globe and Mail. But I will often pick up my local paper as well. I encourage you to sit back with your morning coffee and get a little ink on your hands. There are some real gems hidden within the pages of your favourite paper.

Manage Your Day-To-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus & Sharpen Your Creative Mind. Jocelyn K. Glei and Behance founder, Scott Belsky have culled the brightest minds and most successful entrepreneurs to present a series of essays on – you guessed it – getting the most out of your workday. Steven Pressfield, Cal Newport and Seth Godin are but three of the contributors. This book is part of a series developed by 99u.com, who strive to deliver “the missing curriculum you didn’t get in school”. It’s an easy read, packed with useful tips. If you adopt but a few of them, it’ll change the way your value your time and deal with distractions.

Song of Ice and Fire (Book series) by George R.R. Martin. Whether you are a fantasy fan or not, Martin’s epic series is a literary masterpiece. There are currently five published books out of – what is expected to be – seven in all. Of course, it’s gained a great deal of popularity over the past few years since HBO picked up the series.

Good things to watch.

Breaking Bad. I’m certainly not the first person to promote AMC’s flagship program on 27GoodThings, so I won’t go on and on. If you have Netflix, and you haven’t yet watched an episode, please do. The first season is a little slow to start (all that character development and so forth), but by the time it comes to a conclusion, you’ll be a Breaking Bad junkie. Which is by and large a lot better than being a Meth junkie.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Best Christmas movie ever. It’s stood the test of time. My wife and I watch it 3-4 times a year. I even watched it from my hotel room in Kalamazoo, MI in July. It was on cable – In July. Huh? You’ll likely find a DVD copy for under $10, and it’s also on Netflix.

Conversations with my 2 Year Old.  Father daughter hijinks reenacted by 2 grown men. You don’t have to be a parent to find the humour in this.

Good things to use.

Evernote. This is the hub of my digital life. Both professionally and personally. I keep everything from project files to Lego instruction books. Despite Evernote’s claims to help users remember everything, It hasn’t improved my memory one bit. But having a near infinite supply of stored notes at my fingertips has saved my ass on more than a few occasions.

Moleskine notebook. Like reading the newspaper, writing stuff down on paper is still a very gratifying act.My notebook of choice is the Evernote edition, which (once captured by a smartphone) syncs nicely with my digital notes. There are a lot of imitators out there, but no other notebook matches the quality of Moleskine.

Coffitivity. Regardless of whether or not you put any stock in study results that link increased productivity to tinkling glasses and humming espresso machines, sometimes your office is just too quiet. The developers of Coffitivity provide a coffee shop vibe direct from your desktop, or mobile phone.

Connect with Carson on Twitter,  @carsonsamson, or on Facebook, at fb.com/SamsonStudios.

Mjke Wood – SF/Fantasy Author

Mjke Wood is an award winning SF/Fantasy writer and non-award winning saxophone player.  He blogs at Travelling in a Box and his personal site – mjkewood.com – lists his collections of stories, these are his good things.

Good things to read.

I wanted to pick from a range of book types, so I decided to choose one genre, one literary and one non-fiction.

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes is an easy choice in the genre category. This has long been one of my favourites. This is a book with such an emotional punch it will bring the most hard-hearted soul to tears. It is always my number one recommendation for anyone seeking a route into Science Fiction.

The Van by Roddy Doyle sneaks into top spot for non-genre fiction. The language is a kind of raw, but it could be no other way because it is an honest, down to earth story about simple characters whose take on life is to muddle through. It is a tale with no life or death outcomes at stake. It is warm and funny and after reading it you will require no further prompting to seek out the other two books in Roddy Doyle’s Barrytown trilogy.

For non-fiction I have gone with Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson. It is a travel memoir by an American living in Britain. I have been banned from reading this book in bed, because my wife complains that when I start laughing the whole bed starts to shake and it keeps her awake. Similarly I avoid reading it in public places because there are some laughs you can never keep bottled up.

Good things to watch.

Similar to reading I have selected one each from a range of visual entertainments.

My top TV choice is The West Wing. I don’t watch a lot of TV, and never watch it live. But I have the full DVD box set of the West Wing and every now and again I start at episode one and become hooked, all over again, for several months. The good thing about watching TV on DVD is the absence of adverts. Apart from the multi-layered, intelligent stories the series offers, I am held forever in awe by the dialogue writing skills of Aaron Sorkin.

And so to the cinema. For this I decided to pick the film I have watched again and again, and it is not SciFi or fantasy, or action thriller, because although I enjoy such films I generally only watch them once. No, my choice of film is a romantic comedy called. Only You. It stars Robert Downey Jr. and Marisa Tomei and is the unlikely story of a woman who jets off to Italy in search of her soul mate, just days before her wedding. It is funny and moving and is set in Rome and Venice (two of my favourite cities) and it has wonderful music and scenery and Ferrari’s and… (sigh) I need to watch it again.

Sweeny Todd, the musical by Sondheim, is my third choice. I had to include live theatre and I had to include music. This ticks both boxes. It is unconventional in both story and musical style. It is funny and horrific all in one. My preference is the live show over the movie. Musicals need live performers and a full orchestra. They don’t work any other way. If we’re looking for something more generic here, just take in some live theatre. Any live theatre. You will rarely be disappointed.

Good things to use.

I have a caravan. (It might be called a trailer in the US) I hook it up to the car every weekend and head out into the wilds. Each weekend I have a different view out of the window. I write. I walk. I think. I breathe. My wife is an artist and she gets the inspiration she needs from nature to paint. So, number one good thing to use: a caravan. Can’t afford a caravan? Try a tent (but take thicker socks and a hat).

Play a musical instrument. I have a saxophone. Any musical instrument is good for a writer. Playing music uses different parts of the brain for motor skills and stretches the creative parts of the brain in ways in which they are not used to being stretched. There’s also a good fit with writing in that appreciation of musical performance is instant, as against that of writing which is deferred over months or years. On the other hand, a piece of writing endures, while an improvised jazz solo is fleeting and gone forever at the moment of conception.

I use a Moleskine notebook. This might sound a little retro. I know many writers, these days, prefer to use tech such as iPads and smart phones for their note-taking. Yes, I use these too, but they don’t really do it for me. They don’t offer the same tactile experience as putting an idea straight down on paper. And sometimes I lose electronic files, or the batteries expire just when I need them. No such problems with a notebook. I never venture outside the house without one. I have a desk drawer full of old Moleskines, and whenever I need an idea for something to write, my notebooks are the first place I look.

Mjke also writes on Twitter, connect with him @MjkeW.

Raphaelle Heaf – Founder of ArtSpotter.com

Raphaelle Heaf founded ArtSpotter.com, a site to discover and share art events, from galleries to street art, these are her good things.

Good things to read.

The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson.  An amazing book about the mind that gets you questioning how sane you are yourself.

Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert.  I regularly go back to this book as a sort of mantra to staying positive when I feel a bit lost. It’s a wonderful discovery on how humans are more similar than we think and that it’s really the simple things that can bring us a lot of happiness.

The Hundred Year Old Man by Jonas Jonasson.  I was bought this as a gift and couldn’t put it down. It’s an adventure, a life story and a journey of unlikely friendship which reminds me to live every day to the full, no matter how old I get!

Good things to watch.

Game of ThronesI’m addicted, enough said!

The Clock by Christian Marclay.  I first saw this at the 2011 Venice Art Biennale and it’s entrancing. Whenever it’s shown, over 24 hours, it’s synced to be the right time as the locale and it’s just mesmerising.

Wall•EI love this movie that for 90% has no words or speaking. It’s got to be my favourite Pixar animation!

Good things to use.

Moves.  I’ve never been into the Quantified self but the fact that you just download the app and go is great. I love seeing where I’ve gone each day and it’s very clever. I’m jealous I didn’t come up with this one!

Moleskins.  I can’t not have a moleskin with me wherever I am. I love my iPhone but I’m still a pen and paper person and these books have been a staple to the creative since the 19th Century. Now that’s a great product to have lasted this long!

Time. I always believe that you can make the time for the things you love. Therefore use time wisely and it’s amazing how much you can do.

For more Raphaelle and her art find her on Twitter, @RaphaelleHeaf.

Aaron Myers – Everyday Language Learner

These are Aaron Myers good things.

Good things to read.

Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman. Neil asks all the questions that we never ask as we swallow every new technological innovation with nary a question as to how it will affect our lives. I only wish he had lived a bit longer so he could be the prophetic voice we need in our age. A book everyone should probably read.

The Harvester by Gene Stratton-Porter. An old book that will be required reading for any young male who should chose to try and date my daughter.

The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard. No other book has done as much to shape my understanding of God and my orthopraxy, my living out what I believe in the day to day of life.

Good things to watch.

TED – I am constantly and consistently amazed by the quality of speakers at TED. Sir Ken Robinson, Brene Brown, Derek Sivers and Garth Lenz are a few of my favorites.

The War staring Kevin Costner and a young Elijah Wood. I haven’t seen this one in a a few years now, but it has always been a powerful movie for me.

The last television show I watched on a somewhat regular basis was MacGyver. I’ve worked hard to try to be like him ever since.

Good things to use.

Moleskine Notebook. I journal nearly everyday and have been using a Moleskine a year for over ten years now. They line up nicely on my book shelf.

iPod touch. As a language learner I love the fact that I can store so much listening material on my iPod. I also love that I can speed up podcasts and other listening material so that I can listen to more content in less time.

Legal Pad and Pen. I do most of my planning and brainstorming on legal pads. It just works for me.