Go write your novel.

It’s NaNoWriMo, so go write your novel. Though you probably shouldn’t wait just until it’s NaNoWriMo to be doing that, but whatever. And while you’re at it, go vote.

Meanwhile on the internet…

How to blog.

Why we always vote on Tuesdays.

5 year old girl gives birth.

A man fights a shark to save a woman’s life!

Roger Ebert hates top 10 lists. And your face!

Brazil elects first female president.

Nerdiest signs from the Rally to restore Sanity and/or Fear.

Good NaNoWriMo advice from Merlin Mann.

A look back on the possible alternate futures of Back To The Future.

Gavin Rossdale’s past is more interesting than this present.

I don’t understand the appeal of Bret Michaels, or his dick (featuring Miley Cyrus’ mom).

Carey Mulligan looks amazing after finally dropping that dead weight otherwise known as Shia LeBeowulf.

Here’s the plot of a potential romantic comedy for you: Justin Long and the internet film critic (who thinks he sucks).

It’s so wonderfully dorky, but I think this TARDIS dress is really cool and adorable:

from here and here.

Schwarzeneger bans welfare use for psychics and pot.

NaNoWriMo/LOL Cat pictures from here, but also from here, here, and here.

Shirley Manson says that Garbage is coming back with an album and a tour.

I think it’s time I started developing shows for either CBS or ABC.

Could you give up showering?

The GoldenEye video game getting remade with Daniel Craig.

Can social media break up a marriage?

Kill your co-workers (with kindness)!

New Worlds.

Mad linkage:

Meatloaf googles himself.

The five most overused expressions on the internet.

Tropical storm Agatha opens up massive, horrifying sinkholes in Guatemala City.

Dads on vacation.

Are mobile phones responsible for the disappearance of honey bees?

The 50 sexiest women on Star Trek.

Michael Moorcock on J. G. Ballard.

Oil spill kills one of our favorite memes.

Bizarre sex exams.

Some of the greatest tourist-y things to do in NYC.

Ursula K. LeGuin and the world forest.

William Gibson’s favorite science fiction novels.

Australian aboriginal rock art may depict giant bird extinct for 40,000 years.

Close relationship to mom leads to better romance later.

The images in this post are obviously from the influential British science fiction pulp magazine, New Worlds, which expired in the late 90s. From here and here.

You can find an art challenge to (re)invent covers for New Worlds (it’s last issue was #222) at Warren Ellis’ Whitechapel message board.

The agitprop pop of M.I.A.

California as the world.

Borrowing architecture from the zone of alienation.

Gwyneth Paltrow was terrified of Mickey Rourke. So say we all.

Humans are too fickle for animals to depend on.

In a zoo in the Czech Republic, two lions killed a white tigress; five white tigers in a Chinese zoo had become fearful of the live chickens offered them as food; and in China’s Hubei province, a gang of macaques trained in kung-fu turned on their human master. Male Campbell’s monkeys, in combining and altering their six basic alert calls (boom, hok, krak, krak-oo, kok-oo, and wak-oo), were deemed to exhibit sophisticated proto-syntax. Rhino poaching was on the rise, though Nepal’s greater one-horned rhinos were flourishing because they are protected by guards on elephantback. Wasps were observed to kidnap ladybugs for use as incubators for their eggs, and the ladybugs were observed ultimately to be unharmed by the experience. Male bedbugs were found to emit an anti-predator pheromone to discourage other males from mounting them; males with blocked pheromone glands are mounted for longer than are other males and suffer more grievous abdominal stab wounds from the mounters’ penises. Boys who were exposed in the womb to phthalates—chemicals widely found in cosmetics, vinyl upholstery, and sex toys—are less likely to play rough. Studies of birds and mammals showed that males have more consistent personalities.

by James Roper, from here.

The Permian-Triassic mass extinction, in which 57 percent of all families of living things died due to global warming, was found to have caused many animals to flee to Antarctica. A subspecies of European blackcap birds was noted to have evolved rounder wings and longer, more slender beaks in response to feeding by humans; evolutionary biologists doubted, however, that the birds would ever become a distinct species, because are too fickle for animals to depend on in the longer term. Engineers tested a RoboClam off Cape Cod. Scientists described 158 species of venomous catfish and postulated that as many as 1,600 species of catfish may be venomous. Researched discovered four new species of king crab, concluded that female leatherback turtles are right-flippered, and revealed that the pitch of blue whales’ songs was getting lower. Scientists discovered how to induce molting in blue crabs, thereby rendering them soft-shelled on demand. Behavioral ecologists frightened baby red-eyed tree frogs into hatching early by pretending to be snakes. Pharmacology researchers found that mice who consume hot peppers with their cocaine are more likely to die. Gerbils in Israel are more cautious than those in Jordan. People tend to believe that God believes what they believe. California has too many Chihuahuas.

The passages above are from the “Findings” section of the February 2010 issue of Harper’s and were written by Rafil Kroll-Zaidi.

In the hall of the mountain kings I stood high upon a mountaintop, naked to the world.

Some thoughts the song “Spill The Wine” by Eric Burdon and War, featured on the album Eric Burdon Declares “War,” which came out the same year as their other collaborative album, The Black-Man’s Burdon.

They cannot take away your music.

When I was a kid, this song only seemed to come on when I was deep in the throes of night, or sleep, or perhaps madness.

Some “interesting” facts about “Spill The Wine” via songfacts:

  • This song features a harmonica, flute, and conga drums.
  • This is widely believed to be about, or at least heavily influenced by drugs. According to Brown, this song celebrates women: “All ladies are beautiful. You’ve got to look at them. God, I believe, put all of us here and made us all different so we could be like the flowers, you know. Like women. I look at them as beautiful flowers. Even when they get older, the flowers and so on, and that’s what it really boils down to, they can be skinny, big, fat, I’ve seen some fine voluptuous women. And then I’ve seen some that are skinny, and if you look at them, they could be beautiful, depending on personality and stuff.”

  • Jimi Hendrix‘ former girlfriend sang backup. Hendrix was managed by Animal’s bass player Chas Chandler.
  • The lady speaking Spanish in the background was Eric Burdon’s girlfriend. Says Brown: “We went back there and we put up a little tent, candlelight, and some wine back there. They were behind there, and Eric was doing things to her and making her talk.”

Where the fuck is Ringo, you bitch?

  • This was used in the movie Boogie Nights as part of a pool party scene with the porn stars.
  • The Isley Brothers covered this in 1971 on their album Givin’ It All Back

And that sounds a little something like this:

As a kid, I had the radio on a lot. This was when the radio was better, mind you, and I kept it around like a secret lover or some kind of invisible friend. I’d cheat on it a lot with CDs and tapes and vinyl, a lot, but many a night I spent seized in a radio daze, or I’d listen to it while getting ready for school or for work or a dance or a date or something.

Bee Girl.One of the many species classified under the larger phylum “alternarock.”

For most of high school it was the “alternative rock” station for me, but I did flirt a year there with the “alternative rock” station that was slightly harder, which basically meant that I had to put up with a lot of bullshit like “mandatory Metallica” and following up a band like Kittie or Jane’s Addiction with AC/DC. How sad is it that I can’t remember the good songs I got in return from that station? I just remember they played “Bound For The Floor” a lot.

Wee little Marco Sparks.

Rewinding the tape back to somewhere in my much younger years when I was a stupid little shit who’d read, daydream, ponder, fascinate, and shit along with the radio, you should probably know I kept floating back and forth between classic rock and Motown. Those were my bag back then.

Berry Gordy, Michael Jackson, nd Suzanne de Passe.

Hence all of my old school music knowledge/anecdotes being about things like Keith Moon’s addiction to horse tranquilizers or waxing nostalgic about Berry Gordy’s sex habits.

Keith Moon, man about town.The Who’s “Who Are You?” was about Keith’s tendency to pass on street corners during drug binges only to be discovered by police the next day who assumed he was dead.

Anyway. I remember the Animals’ “House Of The Rising Sun” and I knew War’s “Cisco Kid” and “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” The radio loved those songs. And then I heard this song one night, “Spill The Wine,” and it was late at night as my father were driving around, lost in the Hollywood hills, high above the world. It was a mash up by two artists I liked before I knew what a mash up. I was tired, my eyes were heavy, and this song started dictating images to me as I looked down at the world, and I would get lost in the idylls of walking through the set of a Hollywood movie that was packed with mountain kings and a harem of women and wine spilt all about. And I was easily swept away in the mystical and engimatic nature of the song, which everyone assumes the song refers to drugs, which it does in a way, but you have to remember that the prizely grown native drug of California will always be sex, and the song enthusiastically endorses going after that pearl as many times as you can get it. If I had actually known what a clitoris was back when I was a kid, well…

The City On The Edge Of Forever.

Phoenix is the sweatiest city in America.

Stranger In Moscow.”

Sydney and the light rail.

Augmented reality in London.

The ghost in the field, and RFID chips.

What will happen when London is flooded?

Berlin” in Paris.

Interracial couple denied marriage license in Louisiana.

Soft robots and DARPA.

Moscow’s mayor promises a winter without snow.

Paris Syndrome and Jerusalem Syndrome.

San Francisco and the 1906 earthquake.

Rebuilding New Orleans.

from here.

City Of Blinding Lights.”

A possible glimpse at our future space cities.

America’s most expensive cities and most impoverished cities.

FOX promises to air all 13 of the already ordered Dollhouse season two episodes.

Speaking of which, Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard’s The Cabin In The Woods being held back a year to be switched over to 3D.

Magnetricity” observed for the first time.

A map of your future mega-cities and megaopolises.

“When the lights go down in the city…”

Sensing the immaterial-material city.

Cities underground and cities tsunami-resistant.

City Of Shadows.

The ruins of Chernobyl, over 20 years later.

Cities In Dust.”

GTA IV: Inherent Vice City.

Silver City” and “Sad, Sad City.”

Why all cities are haunted.

The mind of a city (and how our brains are similar).

The cityscapes of François Schuiten.

Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem.

The city is a battlesuit for surviving the future.

Phantom City: See the city that could’ve been.

“…when we reach the city.”

“I have come to wound the autumnal city.”

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

“I’ll take the coral reefs as my metaphor. Though hardly so beautiful. If the essence of life is information carried in DNA, then society and civilization are just colossal memory systems and a metropolis like this one, simply a sprawling external memory….”

-a quote from Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence, a movie that I was watching the other day and just first stirred the pot on several thoughts I had locked up. Thoughts about human beings and boxes we live in.

Warren Ellis had created a comic book character years ago called Jack Hawksmoor, the “king of cities.” Jack was a normal human who had been abducted by city-empathic aliens from the future and repeatedly operated on and “upgraded” to have city-specific powers for use with fighting some unknown future threat that was coming.

Jack Hawksmoor, the King Of Cities.

Hawksmoor, who’s name was inspired by both Spring Heeled Jack and Nicholas Hawksmoor, couldn’t survive for very long outside of an urban environment, but when he was in any city, he had powers specific to that city, including things like superhuman strength and agility, but also psychometry and the ability to control and alter architecture and infrastructure. I don’t think the character was ever utlized by successive writers to his full potential, but I do remember in one story where Hawksmoor had to fight a powerful villain, he made sure that the fight took place in Mexico City, the larged city in the world, to maximize his abilities.

Quarantined in utopia.

“There’s no one to know. There’s nothing to do. The city’s been down since you’ve been gone.”

Climate change and warfare.

Black And White Town.”

Scientists create “sexual tsunami.”

12 sexist vintage ads.

What’s left of the Roman city of Dougga.

Futurism vs. Science Fiction.

Futuristic steampunk urban recycling.

The little town that Los Angeles killed.

Speaking of which: Future Los Angeles.

Future Chicago.

Future New York.

The saddest blow job story ever.

History Of A Boring Town.”

Russell Brand not capable of monogamy.

10 most amazing ghost towns, including Prypiat.

Everything In It’s Right Place.”

Scientists develop “brain to brain communication.”

As time progresses, the future will literally devour the past: WW2-era statue with added cell tower.

Last Stop: This Town.”

It’s only a matter of time before we all burn.

The other day someone came up to me and asked about the continuing fire situation in the southern California area. “It looks like the end of the world,” they told me and were then shocked when I wasn’t shocked by that statement. They asked me if it was still going on, if the fires were still burning, and they asked this as if I knew the answer. Being primarily a still a Californian deep down in my weird little DNA, I’ll constantly let people know where I’m from (in case it’s not obviously and readily apparent why I’m better than them on a variety of levels), but it’s a double edged sword in that I’m expected to have an answer everytime some new weird or stupid piece of news comes out of the Golden State.

So, my answer to this question about the fires was simply: “I don’t know.”  Then the question came: You know a lot of people there, right? Wouldn’t they know from the constant smoke in the distance? Me: “If you live in LA, or spend signifigant time there, I think you make a kind of peace with a lot of things there being perpetually fucked up. The air, especially.” This answer only prompted confusion.

So I attempted a clarification: “Listen, here’s the thing about how people in California operate: Unless your house is on fire, or you’re personally bein evacuated, or it’s fucking up some sex you’re trying to get or, I don’t know, your pot delivery, or something, you don’t really care about a whole lot of other people’s tragedy.”

That’s of course both true and not true. Californians are not that soulless, not really. On the surface, maybe, but deep down… they’re primarily still human beings. Don’t ask me for evidence of their humanity, but just take my word for it, okay? And if you don’t, I’m sure someone will come along soon enough to make a movie with heart that proves me right. But recently, I saw someone put the situation best: “Because the world is always ending in Los Angeles, we are not necessarily surprised when it does. We are also not surprised when the world keeps going on after that.”

from here.

Anyway, after the question and answer exchange about my home land, I came back to my lair, the whole exchange floating around in the back of my head, and I put on my music player, hit random, and the first song given to me was Death Cab For Cutie‘s “Grapevine Fires,” from their nice enough last album, Narrow Stairs.

The video for the song, see above, directed by the Walter Robot duo, is a lovely affair, very nice and effective, but as with so many music videos, it doesn’t follow the lyrical narrative of the song, which is especially a shame here, I think. Particularly since, for me, one of Ben Gibbard’s strengths isn’t just the sonic aspect of his songwriting, the chords he chooses or how well he plays them, but just the way he manages to capture a tone to flow through his short stories.

The songwriter and his brand new bride.

And “Grapevine Fires” is one of the most lovely, most melancholy short stories I think he’s ever released, a beautiful song, drenched in a harmony fit for a funeral, a juxtaposition of the beautiful and the tragic as a man, a woman, the woman’s daughter, all go for a picnic in a cemetery in the Los Angeles area to watch the fires in the distance. There’s wine and some paper cups for the couple, who may have already been evacuated, as they watch the desolation unfolding and the young girl, not aware of the seriousness, or perhaps despite it, just dances around. “The northern sky looks like the end of days” as the man watches her and realizes that, no matter what, everything’s gonna be just fine. Even when it isn’t. Maybe it’ll rain, maybe it won’t. Either way, it’s only a matter of time. And you’re alive today.