sherlock

Zoe – Foodie and Photog

Zoe blogs at Z’s Cup of Tea where she writes about gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free foods in addition to Trend & chic and Writer’s Bone. She also does work with Pressgram; as a community manager, in Google+, and on Flipboard. These are her good things.

Good things to read.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield ­ I’ve just read this book and it’s a definite keeper. Without putting it lightly, it is one of those books that does change your life. The basic principle of battling Resistance, as described in the book, can be applied to all parts of life, it isn’t just for  artists. It’s for everybody who’s ever had a dream of doing something but hasn’t for a variety of reasons, whether it was something in their life that happened or they rationalized themselves out of it. My favorite example is early in the book, when Pressfield describes, as a way of illustrating the power of Resistance, Odysseus sailing home and, with Ithaca in sight, decides to have a nap when he falls asleep, his men cut open a sack in which they believed there was gold but instead contained the adverse Winds, which proceeded to drive back Odysseus’s ships and therefore delayed his homecoming for years. As well, the book is full of passages that can be highlighted for reference. Afterward, I chanced across this post about how The War of Art came to be and it’s a very cool story!

The Element by Ken Robinson ­ This is a book about people discovering their passion, what
makes them tick, which is what Ken Robinson calls “the Element”. Full of stories about people,
famous and everyday, who found their Element, it is an inspiring and uplifting read and it’s a book I recommend to everyone. Many people who read this book were so inspired that they wanted to find their own Element and that eventually resulted in the sequel, Finding Your Element (which I’ve also read and recommend).

It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be by Paul Arden ­ Easy to read
with lots of graphics and short, succinct passages that drive the point home, Paul Arden’s book
is a great pick­me­up that can be read within a single sitting or read in small bites at a time.
There isn’t a single page that isn’t brilliant. It’s also great paired with his other book, and that I
think is considered a sequel, Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite.

Good things to watch.

RMR: The Rick Mercer Report. ­ Rick Mercer is a Canadian comedian, television personality,
political satirist, author, and host of the Rick Mercer Report, a show where he takes viewers to
different parts of Canada and explores all kinds of aspects of Canadian culture, often with a
hans­ome approach and always entertaining. You can watch clips from his show on YouTube
and he has also written two books based on his show.

BBC’s Sherlock. ­ I can easily create a list of British shows I watch, so I’ll keep it to just
one.Sherlock is a brilliant show and one that I’ve been watching since it started, so…long­term
fan here! While it would be easy to say I like it because of the two leads, that is only partially true
as I like ­ love ­ everything about its production, including its writing and cinematography (the
floating text on the screen was a stroke of genius and anything I watched afterward that showed
a cut to a phone’s screen so that the audience could read it seemed dated) and the production
design. I pretty much read/watch/listen to just about everything officially related to the show. Now eagerly awaiting series four….!

Unsung Hero.­ Spoken in Thai,with English subtitles, this video is so beautiful! Short but packs a punch: following a man who commits random acts of kindness for mere strangers, watching it, particularly the conclusion, has shed a tear or two. You wouldn’t even know it’s an insurance ad unless it said so at the end.

Good things to use.

Pressgram. ­ An iOS photo publishing app, version 2.0 was recently released that gives more
publishing options (no longer just WordPress) and features, including paid. I am a community
leader for the app, so I might be biased but I think it’s great and I use it for my own blogging with
ease.

Sleep Genius. ­ The first and only sleep app I really tried was the Sleep Genius app (available for
iOS and Android), developed by sleep experts for NASA to help astronauts sleep. Unlike the
majority of sleep apps available, this app is based on scientific research and, based on my own
personal experience, it does work. There are three different tracks (one comes free with the app,
the other two are in­ app purchases) to help you reach a deep level of sleep as well as one
specifically for a 29­minute power nap and you can eventually train yourself with the app to wake
up naturally and peacefully rather than jerking yourself out of sleep with the jangling of an alarm
clock.

SuperBetter­. This is an app (iOS) I’ve just started to use and that’s newer to me. Most of my
family downloaded it after watching Jane McGonigal’s inspiring and informative TED talk about
videogames and how playing a game, which became SuperBetter, saved her life. People with
health issues and life­threatening illnesses have used this app to get better, but you don’t need to
have a health problem in order to use it. You can use it to get better at anything, whether it’s
taking walks more often or even just practicing being grateful. It’s free to play online on their
website (https://www.superbetter.com), or you can purchase the app for $4.99 in the App Store.

Connect with Zoe on Twitter, @ZsCupofTea.

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Max Gladstone – Author

Max Gladstone is a novelist, author of Three Parts Dead and Two Serpents Rise and the up-coming Full Fathom Five.  He was also a 2013 Campbell Award nominee and these are his good things.

Good things to read.

I’m on record all over the internet encouraging people to read Roger Zelazny and Dorothy Dunnett, so let’s treat those as a given for the purposes of this exercise and focus on more recent discoveries.

John M. Ford, basically everything, but The Final Reflection and The Dragon Waiting will be the easiest to find.  I was introduced to John M Ford’s work at Boskone this year and I’m now in a desperate frenzy to track as much of it down as possible. He’s a great writer, fast-moving and densely plotted while at the same time deeply concerned with his characters as human beings rather than Story Engines. His prose is poetical in the elevated sense of “elegant sentences garnished with perfect detail” rather than the failure mode of “so purple it looks like someone’s been at it with a carpet beater.” And he’s funny! Read him if you haven’t already.

Sara Gran’s, Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead.  Gran’s two psychedelic detective novels are brilliantly written mystical journeys into the souls of cities and the people who live there. Claire DeWitt, ex-girl sleuth and World’s Greatest Detective, is a student of a French school of detection that employs dreams, the I Ching, and drug-addled visionquests as much as old-fashioned policework. These books are sharply observed, well-written, horrific and beautiful and mind-expanding by turns. A lesser writer might use this territory to play pure metafictional games, but Gran’s as interested in the social reality of her settings—post-Katrina New Orleans and modern San Francisco—as in authorial gamesmanship. I don’t know any books quite like these, and I can’t wait for the next in her series.

Saga.  Saga is a rip-roaring space opera about the karmic consequences of violence, starring a woman with wings and a guy with horns, their baby, and their ghost baby sitter. They’re fugitives from opposite sides of an interstellar war, being pursued by a robot prince and a mercenary with a psychic sentient cat and an infinitely extensible lance. Read this book. Read it now. In fact why are you still reading this article when you could be reading Saga, or Claire DeWitt, or something by John M Ford?

Good things to watch.

BBC Sherlock.  My wife and I recently came through a very intense span of work, and are only now settling down to catch up on the third season of Sherlock. I know, I know! But man, I missed this show. The actors remain amazing. I would watch most of these people read from the phone book in combinations, and Martin Freeman’s Watson continues to be the emotional core of the show, and the defining modern Watson. Though I’m given to understand I should check out Lucy Liu in Elementary.

The Wire.  This is a master class in storytelling disguised as a show. I’ve started watching with notebook in hand, and after every episode I go back through to dissect what the writers are doing. Of course the actors are great, and the show does this wonderful job of showing us moral ambiguity rather than showing people talk about it. Also, Idris Elba, who Idris Elba.

The Lego Movie.  This may be the best Batman movie ever made. Bonus points for sneaking neat theological issues like God’s relationship with time and art into a movie about block toys! Also +1 for the duplos reference at the end.

Good things to use.

Mechanical Keyboard.  I like it when my keyboard clicks. It lets me know I’m actually doing something. I use a Leopold Tenkeyless with Cherry MX Blue switches, and it feels like espresso for the fingers.

iPad.  Tablets are a personal gift from Computer God to writers. They’re lousy as a rule for composition, but they’re ideal editing machines: the portrait orientation resembles a piece of paper enough to shock me out of screen-reading-aimless-skim mode. My iPad has made the infinite redrafting process a lot faster and more pleasant. The new iPad Air is also light enough to hold for hours at a time without giving myself horrible RSIs.

Standing Desk.  I do my best writing—and I mean here the actual core productivity “adding words to novel” stuff—while sitting down, but I spend a lot of time on the computer writing blog posts, responding to email, editing, and doing a bunch of other stuff that isn’t core but without which the core would just sort of flop around the universe like an ungainly literary catfish. Standing desks are awesome. And when you use a standing desk, you can dance while you’re working—like I’m doing right now!

Connect with Max on Twitter, @MaxGladstone.

Madeline Carol Matz – Artist

Madeline Carol Matz aka M. C. Matz aka mcmatz (depending on the time of day, where you are looking, and the disposition of the humours). I am an artist that typically works in fantastic subject matter placed in vintage settings. In my youth, I was accused of copy work because “it had to have come out of a book.” Highest compliment yet.

I did the art for the graphic novel Sticks & Bones: Home Is Where the Hearth Is written by Valya Dudycz Lupescu which was funded by a successful Kickstarter. I also ran the Kickstarter and did the product design for the Amanda Palmer Tarot, with art from 78 different artists to which I also contributed the Knight of Cups card.

Good things to read.

Outliers:The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell.  This book should be read by everyone. It reveals an essential truth about life that I think can lead to a more compassionate viewpoint. Yes, the much trumpeted 10,000 hours will bring you mastery of a skill and set you up to be ready for success but the key to success is not inherent in the talents, skills or hard work of these individuals but lies in their circumstances – the luck of the draw.

Examples of success and lack of success and the reasons are vividly illustrated. The time, the place, the family you are born into, even the month of the year you born or the disposition of your university administrator, all these small things, not only shape your character but also present the opportunities you have available to exploit and capitalize on that well-honed skill..
I think if we stopped lionizing the individual as being the sole author of their life and recognized that chance plays a much larger role than we are comfortable admitting, we might not have a less contentious, greedy society and improve our own lot by the raising of others.

Runners up: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell, The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies, and Nations by James Surowiecki, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach (I like my non-fiction titles with semi-colons.)

The Lives and Times of Archy & Mehitabel by Don Marquis.  A vers libre poet cockroach who writes by jumping head first onto the keys of a typewriter (Archy) and a cat who believes she is the reincarnation of Cleopatra (Mehitabel) and their exploits delightfully illustrated by George Herriman.

Archy, heroically types out his work at night in exchange for scraps left in the trash. archy types in all lowercase because the shift key was too hard on his old bean.  Whimsical and philosophical in best possible way.  Toujour gai is my motto, cheerio my deario.

Runners up: Little Nemo in Slumberland by Winsor McCay, The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.  This is one of my favorite books of all time. The underground world, the rats, the tube stations, the night markets the Beast of London, Vandemar and Croup, the Marquis, the lovely Door and Richard Mayhew’s fall into that world are all mesmerizing. It is dark and dank and glistening with the possibility of anything. It is a grown up fairy tale in a modern, urban setting that is well-worn at the edges.  When I cannot go to sleep I play the audio version as read by Mr. Gaiman himself and nod blissfully off, often to the lulling rhapsodies of Mr Croup.

Runners up: American Gods by Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (is there a pattern here?)

Good things to watch.

Sherlock,   BBC/PBS.  Yes, this is the Steven Moffat/Mark Gatiss updating of the classic Arthur Conan Doyle tales that is oh so popular and I am an unapologetic fangirl for it. There I said it. There are plot holes and improbabilities but the pacing, the dialogue and the acting is superb. Holmes and Watson played by Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are a perfect pairing of imperfect flatmates. Even the smaller roles of Lestrade, Mrs Hudson and a non-canon character, Molly are energetically written and played.

They have done a wonderful job updating Sherlock Holmes into the 21st century. A good part of the fun is watching how the original canon ids used and referred to in each episode. The serendipity that Watson being an army medical doctor returning from Afghanistan is both amazing and depressing. The only complaint is the dearth of episodes. It began in 2010 and to date there are only nine 90-minute episodes.

Runners up: Supernatural, Sleepy Hollow, Doctor Who (in tumblr parlance SuperSleepyWhoLock)

Singin’ In The Rain. The MGM musical that was meta before meta was cool. Gene Kelly, a wonderfully athletic dancer and witty director helmed this production. With a rubber-boned Donald O’Connor and introducing Debbie Reynolds (who in an ironic footnote did not do her own singing!), we are taken back to old Hollywood and the dawn of the talkies. Every musical number is a gem from the titular “Singin’ in the Rain”, to “Make ‘Em Laugh”, “Good Morning” and the pull all stops out “Broadway Melody Ballet” featuring Cyd Charisse and in the inevitable cheesy MGM closeup pullout shot at the end.

Runners up: The Blue Brothers, Gold Diggers of 1933.

The Tall Guy.  I do love my Richard Curtis rom-coms. This one stars Jeff Goldblum and Emma Thompson. Goldblum is a struggling actor and Thompson the nurse he is crushing on. Along the way there is a musical version of The Elephant Man – Elephant! Which includes the tear jerking number “He is Packing His Trunk” along with one of the funniest sex scenes ever. Good times.

Runners up: Crossing Delancey, Bull Durham, Tin Cup, Four Weddings and a Funeral(duckface!)

Good things to use.

Bulletproof coffee with cinnamon. Bulletproof Coffee is available from the Upgraded Executive website They use single source beans processed in a way that reduces micro-toxins. Whatever. It is just yummy. The classic Bulletproof Coffee beverage involves using these beans to brew coffee and then blending the brewed coffee with KerryGold unsalted butter and MCG oil/coconut oil – which is really very good but too complicated for me most days – who needs to clean out a blender. These days I opt for adding some Frontier brand ground Vietnamese Cinnamon (Cinnamomum loureirii) to the beans when I grind them and then have Kalona Supernatural whipping cream with my brewed coffee.

Logitech Trackball.  My Logitech Trackball, how do I love thee? Oh so many ways. I work at my computer all day and this trackball mouse has saved me from carpal tunnel syndrome. It can be a little awkward to get accustomed to using it but once you do you will never ever miss your mousepad.

Golden Matte Fluid Acrylics. It does seem like I should mention some actual art supplies. Golden Matte Fluid Acrylic paints are what I used to paint Sticks and Bones: Home is Where the Hearth Is and they are what I use for most of my painting. I prefer fluid paint to tube paint because it makes for easier mixing and thinner layers. They are matte which causes less color shift as they dry and the when they do dry the painting surface has less of that glossy plastic finish you usually get with acrylics and instead has a lovely velvety matte finish like gouache. This is especially important when you are going to be scanning the work for reproduction. It eliminate glares from the scanner light bouncing off the surface.

Connect with MC on Twitter, @MCMatz.

Andrew Romine – Ink Gorilla

Andrew Penn Romine is a writer and animator living in Los Angeles. He blogs at Inkpunks and on his own blog, InkGorilla; these are his good things.

Good things to read.

Sandman. I’ve only missed the boat on this series by a few decades, but a friend recently lent me the first three collected volumes. I’m hooked on Gaiman’s ethereal romp through the multiverse and pleasantly surprised by all the DC Comics cameos so far. At first it was jarring, but it’s also kind of cool to see old favorites like Batman, Scarecrow, and Wesley Dodds in these weird asides.

Death from the Skies. From Bad Astronomy’s Phil Plait, this is a fun romp through all the ways the Universe can kill us: coronal mass ejections, Supernovae, Gamma Ray Bursts, Aliens, Asteroids, and Black Holes. The Death of the Universe. Very tongue in cheek, but hugely informative about this weird, weird universe we live in.

October Country. Ray Bradbury is a hero of mine, and this collection of dark, moody stories is one of my all-time favorites. Some of the tales are a little dated, but Bradbury’s rich prose and shivery explorations of the human heart make them all timeless classics. Read them aloud at a campfire by a lake in the autumn…

Good things to watch.

Orange is the New Black. Netflix’s latest original series is full of wit and heart. I’ve only just started to watch it, but it’s easy to see why it’s a big hit. The characters are well-written, smartly acted, and full of messy contradictions. Their world is as alien (to me) as any I’ve read in speculative fiction, and possibly even more fascinating. Looking forward to seeing more.

Sherlock. I’m sure this has been on a lot of folks’ lists, but I’ve recently been rewatching the first two seasons in anticipation of the upcoming third. Admittedly, some of the mysteries are a little muddled and don’t quite make sense sometimes, but the show is really about the bromance of Sherlock and Watson, and in that it succeeds wildly. Cumberbatch and Freeman seem born to play the roles, and their portrayals almost make you forget that the pair originated in Victorian times not in modern day.

Star Trek DS9. An older show but one that bears rewatching. Star Trek is a venerable franchise, and it can often seem there’s nothing new to be done in its name. Thanks to the benefit of Netflix and binge watching, I’ve been revisiting this series, confirming my opinion it’s the most mature of any of the Trek series so far. It manages to take the noble optimism of Star Trek, muddle it with real messy human drama, and still leave you hopeful on the other side. It’s no wonder Ronald Moore went on to reinvent Battlestar Galactica. I’m hoping he comes back to Star Trek someday.

Good things to use.

Star Walk. My favorite apps right now are heavily influenced by my week at the Launch Pad astronomy workshop–I’ve got space on my brain! Skywalk is a nifty app for the iPad that’s like an interactive heads-up-display for the night sky! Not only does it show you all the stars, nebulae, and constellations, but you can also display the sky in other wavelength’s of the electro-magnetic spectrum (infrared, UV, Gamma Rays!). There’s a clock feature too, so you can fast forward (or rewind) the sky to a given time of day. There’s a feature to overlay the HUD on the actual night sky through your iPad camera, but I live in Los Angeles, and the stars are never bright enough for this to work.

Exoplanet. Another iPad/iPhone app for Space Science geeks, this one focused on cataloging all the extrasolar planets we’ve discovered so far. The app is very interactive, with great animation and graphics to help you visualize the alien star systems. With its zoomable map of the Milky Way, you really feel like you’re living in Star Trek. The app updates with new planets as they are discovered.

Chef’s Knife. I’m doing more cooking these days, and as I’ve learned from my chef-trained wife, there’s nothing as universally handy in the kitchen as a good chef’s knife. With a little practice, there’s nothing you can’t slice or dice — and the flat of the blade (carefully!) makes a great tool for smashing and scooping.

Connect with Andrew on Twitter, @inkgorilla.

Tom McFarlin – Developer

Tom McFarlin is a self employed developers who codes in JavaScript, builds on WordPress, and blogs at TomMcFarlin.com.  He’s a partner at 8BIT and creator of Pressware, these are his good things.

Good things to read.

The Walking Dead. I’m actually a huge fan of the television show, though it deviates from the story of the comics. I recommend reading this series partially because of the story of the human race trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world, but also because of some of the moral, ethical, religious (or non-religious) implications that it covers. It leaves you wondering: “What would I do in this situation?”

Joel Spolsky. For anyone who is involved in software development, but has never read Joel‘s stuff, read all 1,111 articles that he currently has on his blog (or purchase his books). They’re all that good.

The Complete Calvin and Hobbes. Arguably the best comic ever written. Absolutely recommend this to anyone and everything.

Good things to watch.

X-Files. This is an oldie, but a goodie. In fact, I’d argue that this show (or Scrubs)) are two of my favorite shows of all time. I think I cheated mentioning two here, but each one stands on its own as fantastic television that few shows have come close to matching.

Indie Game: The Movie. This is a documentary about three different game developers. For anyone who is passionate about what they do, then this is the documentary to watch. It covers their trials, successes, failures, and struggles in trying to get their products off the ground. It’s not just for video game fans.

Sherlock. This television show that‘s done in series (rather than seasons) is amazing. Each episode is about an hour and a half long and some episodes are better than many movies. It’s currently available on Netflix. If you‘re a fan of the stories, you’ll dig, but even if not, I think you’ll enjoy it.

Good things to use.

Day One for Journaling. Get both the Mac App and the iPhone App. The photo tagging alone is nice, but if you’re someone who enjoys writing but isn’t into putting it all out on the web via blog, then this is the app for you.

Hero Academy. I don’t have a lot of time to play video games these days, but this turn-based fighter is a lot of fun if you can get some of your friends to play with you – it’s also great for taking five minute breaks in the day. Even if not, the online matchup is fine, too. But nothing beats smack talking your friends, right? 🙂

Bose Quiet Comfort Headphones. These are hands-down my favorite set of headphones and have been for years. They‘re especially great for getting into the zone when you’re working from home. No rhymes intended :).

Connect with Tom on Twitter, @TomMcFarlin.