Filed under: Art, Blade Runner, Connections, movies, Music, Philip K. Dick, Ridley Scott, Science Fiction, YouTube | Tags: Anders Ramsell, art, Blade Runner, blogging, jim downey, movies, music, Philip K. Dick, Ridley Scott, Science Fiction, video, watercolor, www youtube
I am staggered by this thing: a 35-minute “paraphrasing” of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner from 12,597 animated watercolor paintings. It’s beautiful and insane—who would do this? A really big Blade Runner fan, I guess.
That fan is Swedish artist Anders Ramsell, who hand-painted each of the thousands of 1.5 by 3 cm paintings that make up the film, then synced them up to audio from the movie. The results are moody, and dreamily gorgeous.
Judge for yourself:
For me, this presentation/interpretation works, because it fits so perfectly with the theme and style of the movie. Very impressive.
Filed under: Art, Google | Tags: art, blogging, Burr Oak, Communion of Dreams, health, jim downey, photography, WIlliamson Oak
McBAINE — Five years ago, when the father-son duo of Bill and Kyle Spradley teamed up to give the state champion bur oak at McBaine some much-needed attention, they were joined by a handful of people.
Yesterday, more than 40 people gave the majestic tree a hefty dose of TLC. The gathering included representatives of 10 organizations and businesses from across the state — most of them arborists or rural electric linemen experienced in tree-trimming and pruning.
That goes to show how much people care about this tree,” said Kyle Spradley, a senior information specialist at the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Spradley also has his own photography business, and many of his photos feature the McBaine bur oak.
I’ve written about the tree previously, for the very good reason that it is the image used on the cover of Communion of Dreams (and so, at the top of this blog). And I’m glad to see this sort of effort to help care for the tree, and preserve it for future generations. Seriously, if you haven’t ever seen it in person, and you find yourself in the area, it is worth a visit.
Filed under: Art, Astronomy, Bad Astronomy, Cassini, NASA, Phil Plait, Saturn, Science, Science Fiction, Space | Tags: art, Bad Astronomy, Cassini, Communion of Dreams, jim downey, NASA, Phil Plait, Saturn, science, Science Fiction, space
Via Phil Plait, had to share this:
Saturn, obviously. But from a new perspective, as Plait explains:
But dominating this jaw-dropping scene are Saturn’s magnificent rings, seen here far more circular than usual. Cassini’s mission has been to observe Saturn and its moons, which means it tends to stay near the planet’s equator. But now scientists are playing with the orbit more, to do more interesting science. The spacecraft is swinging well out of the equatorial plane, so here we see the rings at a much steeper angle, and they are less affected by perspective.
And here’s the link to the full-size image, which is definitely worth a look.
Filed under: Art, Augmented Reality, Civil Rights, Connections, Constitution, Gardening, General Musings, Government, Habanero, Italy, Predictions, Psychic abilities, Religion, Ridley Scott, Science Fiction, Society, Violence, Writing stuff | Tags: art, augmented reality, Beccaria, Communion of Dreams, Constitution, dreams, gardening, Habaneros, Italy, jim downey, law, legal, literature, Marc Hermann, photography, predictions, Prometheus, Roman, Science Fiction, sculpture, St. Cybi's Well, travel, Voltaire, writing
Well, yesterday afternoon I got around to prepping about half of them to dry:
Overnight I dried the peppers.
* * * * * * *
An interesting take on incorporating an additional dimension into photography:
Photographer and historian Marc Hermann has done a beautiful job pulling historic crime scene photos from the New York Daily News archive to blend them with photographs of the same locations today. For those who live in New York now, it may be easy to forget just how rough the city was in the not-too-distant past.
Grisly violence is an undeniable part of New York’s DNA and the juxtaposition of the old, black and white images with the modern “Times Square” version of what most people expect today is incredibly fascinating – truly making ghosts walk amongst us.
* * * * * * *
What has also been my plan, but which I hadn’t quite been able to sort out how to accomplish, was that in St. Cybi’s Well much of the story will revolve around *how* this character came to have those dream-visions in the first place. This is further complicated by the fact that I don’t necessarily want the character to realize the full import of what he experiences within the context of the story – the reader should be able to draw out conclusions which the character wouldn’t, especially if the reader had already read Communion of Dreams.
OK, got all that? So, here’s what I experienced at Baia Castle: the revelation that the classical sculptures of Greek and Roman mythology could themselves be the conduit for the dream-visions. I got this by walking through the collection – not just walking through it, but by seeing the juxtaposition of different sculptures within the somewhat under-lit and under-stated layout of the museum.
See, like in most of the museums we had visited, the climate control there was non-existent. And whether in order to keep down temps a bit, or just to save money on electricity, the only lighting throughout the space was from windows along one side of the building. And the layout of the building was a series of almost cave-like ‘bunkers’ – rooms which were kinda long & narrow with a relatively low ceiling, and done up in neutral grey tones.
It was perfect. And in a moment my mind made the leap to imagery for St. Cybi’s Well. Because, like many of the different ‘holy wells’ in Wales, it dates back to the middle of the 6th century – not that long after the fall of Rome. And, in fact, the spread of Christianity to the Celtic lands was part of the cultural transference which took place. It’d be easy to tweak the history just a bit to include ‘lost’ sculpture & myth.
I felt in that moment the same way I feel now: like laughing maniacally.
And an appropriate (and somewhat telling) image from that same blog post:
* * * * * * *
A passage from an excellent essay on the roots of Enlightenment thought about justice.
Rarely in the history of thought do I have a chance to say the outcome was so simply good, but it worked. Within their lifetimes, Voltaire and Beccaria saw real reform, a sincere and solid transformation of the legal codes of most of Europe, the spread of deterrence-based justicial thought. Within decades, judicial torture virtually vanished from European law. The laws of America, and of the other new constitutions drafted in the latter 18th century, all show the touch of Beccaria’s call. It worked. The change was not absolute, of course. Torture, the primary target, retreated, as did the notions of retributive justice, avenging dignity, and purging sin. But prisons were still squalid, punishments severe, and other things Beccaria had campaigned against remained, capital punishment primary among them. But even here there was what Beccaria would call progress. The guillotine lives in infamy, but it too was a consequence of this call for enlightened justice: a quick, egalitarian execution, death with the least possible suffering, and equal for all, giving no advantage to the noble, who had long been able to hire an expert and humane headsman while the poor man suffered the clumsy hackings of an amateur who might take many blows to sever a writhing neck. Most states judged death still necessary, but agreed that law and punishment should bind all men equally, and that unnecessary pain did not serve the public good. It is strange to call the guillotine a happy ending, but it was in a small way, and even more victorious was the dialog it that birthed it.
* * * * * * *
Overnight I dried the peppers. Here they are this morning:
Why, yes, all of these things are connected.
Filed under: Amazon, Art, Connections, Feedback, Kindle, Marketing, Promotion, Publishing, Science Fiction | Tags: Amazon, art, bookbinding, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, feedback, free, jim downey, Kindle, leather, promotion, reviews, Science Fiction
You have until midnight tonight to get your entry in for a free copy of a full leather binding of Communion of Dreams. If you haven’t posted a link with your review on Amazon in this blog post, then you are NOT entered into the drawing. And we’ll also be drawing for the last of the “nearly perfect” cloth copies. Full details in that blog post.
And my judge for this drawing has posted some information about how and when she will handle the particulars: Planning ahead [echo]
Good luck everyone!
Filed under: Amazon, Art, Connections, Feedback, Gardening, Humor, Marketing, Predictions, Preparedness, Promotion, Publishing, Science, Science Fiction | Tags: Amazon, ants, art, blogging, bookbinding, canning, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, drawing, feedback, free, gardening, humor, jim downey, leather, MargoLynn, planning, predictions, promotion, reviews, science, Science Fiction, tomatoes
Nonetheless, today’s crop from the garden is largely going to be canned for enjoyment this coming winter:
That’s about 20 pounds of mixed tomato varietals in the dish drainer, and another 5 or so pounds of Roma tomatoes in the colander. I’ll chop and can the bulk of them, then sauce all the Romas and the left-over juice/bits from the canning. So far this season I’ve put up 44 pints of chopped tomatoes and about a gallon of sauce.
I like to plan ahead.
And you should too. There’s about 36 hours left to get your entry in for the drawing for a full leather, hand-bound edition of Communion of Dreams. And we’ll also be drawing for the last of the “nearly perfect” cloth copies:
I’ve managed to talk my old friend MargoLynn into handling the drawing for me, so you should send all bribe attempts to her. Winners will be announced sometime Sunday.
Filed under: Art, Babylon 5, Book Conservation, Connections, Emergency, Feedback, Health, J. Michael Straczynski, JMS, Kindle, Marketing, NASA, NPR, Predictions, Promotion, Publishing, Religion, Science, Science Fiction, Space, Writing stuff | Tags: Amazon, appendicitis, art, Babylon5, blogging, bookbinding, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, feedback, free, G'Kar, health, heliosphere, J. Michael Straczynski, jim downey, JMS, Kindle, leather, NASA, NPR, predictions, promotion, revelations, reviews, science, Science Fiction, space, St. Cybi's Well, Voyager, writing, Z'ha'dum
“All of life can be broken down into moments of transition or moments of revelation.”
Sometimes you don’t recognize when things change — the moments of transition — except in hindsight. That could be because the change is incremental enough that you don’t notice it for a while, or it might be that you’re so completely involved in the moment that the realization of what just happened doesn’t sink in immediately.
* * *
This morning there was a news item on NPR which caught my attention: that perhaps the Voyager 1 spacecraft has already left our solar system.
Scientists have known for a while that it was approaching the limits of the heliosphere. The expectation was that there would be a fairly clear change in orientation of the magnetic field when the craft crossed the boundary of the Sun’s influence into true interstellar space. But perhaps that boundary was less defined than we thought. From the story:
How did we miss that? As it turns out, it wasn’t entirely our fault. Researchers thought the solar system was surrounded by a clearly marked magnetic field bubble.
“There’s one at the Earth, there’s one at Jupiter, Saturn, many planets have them. And so just by analogy we were expecting there to be something like that for the solar system,” Swisdak says.
Scientists were waiting for Voyager to cross over the magnetic edge of our solar system and into the magnetic field of interstellar space. But in in the September issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters, Swisdak and his colleagues say the magnetic fields may blend together. And so in July 2012, when Voyager crossed from the solar system into deep space, “Voyager just kept cruising along,” Swisdak says. All they saw was a change in the field’s direction.
* * *
Last Thursday my wife had a follow-up with her surgeon to see how she was doing in recovering from her emergency appendectomy. She had been released from the hospital the previous Saturday, but there was some concern over the risk of secondary infection within her abdomen.
Well, without getting too much into the details, tests indicated that she might be developing exactly that sort of infection. The surgeon ordered a procedure called a needle aspiration and scheduled it for the following day.
We dutifully reported to the hospital for the procedure. It didn’t go smoothly, and the upshot was that it didn’t help her condition at all. A couple hours later we left the hospital, and she’s been mostly resting since. We’re now waiting to hear from the surgeon about what happens next. And what it means.
* * *
“Yeah, but it’s like the way that the people involved in your book – the characters – are all struggling to understand this new thing, this new artifact, this unexpected visitor. And I like the way that they don’t just figure it out instantly – the way each one of them tries to fit it into their own expectations about the world, and what it means. They struggle with it, they have to keep learning and investigating and working at it, before they finally come to an understanding.” He looked at me as we got back in the car. “Transitions.”
* * *
Where Communion of Dreams was largely about transitions, in many ways St. Cybi’s Well is about revelations. How we experience them. How we understand them. How we do or don’t recognize them when they happen.
The Kindle edition of Communion of Dreams is free today. And you have less than two weeks to enter into the drawing for a hand-bound, full-leather copy of the book. So far only two people have entered. Don’t miss the moment.
Filed under: Amazon, Art, Connections, Feedback, Health, Humor, Kindle, Marketing, movies, Promotion, Publishing, Science Fiction, Society, tech | Tags: Amazon, art, blood, blood magic, Blood Tea and Red String, bookbinding, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, economics, feedback, free, health, humor, jim downey, Kindle, movies, printing, promotion, reviews, Science Fiction, St. Cybi's Well, technology, writing
While on my morning walk, I was enjoying the beautiful day, the glint of sun on the dewdrops, the company of my dog.
And thinking about blood.
Specifically, about the old notion of a “contract signed in blood.”
Well, what if you had a culture which took books so seriously, that they were always made using blood as the ink?
Just off the top of my head, I could come up with all kinds of justifications for how such a culture might arise, from fantasy (‘blood magic’) to Science Fiction (books could always be traced back to their source through the DNA in the blood) to the plain creepy (“we do honor to our ancestors/enemies/icons by using their blood to write history”).
Yeah, it’s a little scary how my brain works sometimes.
* * *
And after I come up with something like that, usually within just a few seconds, my mind races off to consider what the practical ramifications would be to such a thing.
Economically, there’s some fun stuff you could do with it. Books could be purchased with the buyer’s own blood: “Price – just 750ml – get yours today!” Which also implies blood as the basic economic unit, but that wouldn’t necessarily be the case.
Mechanically, blood itself wouldn’t be a great printing ink without some other elements. So you could have the whole printing revolution based not on the development of a printing press, but on the discovery of how to make blood suitable for mass printing.
As a book conservator, dealing with books printed in blood would present some additional challenges. Depending on what else was added to it to make it suitable for printing could make it damage the paper it was printed on (this is actually a big problem with some printing inks used in history). And if I needed to do restoration work, would I need to find blood of the same type, in order to match the original ink?
* * *
Usually about this point in such speculation, I start to wonder just what in the hell got me thinking about these things in the first place. What was my subconscious chewing on?
I could perhaps tie it to the odd little movie we watched last night.
Or that my wife had a close call last week. There wasn’t a lot of blood per se, but the symbolism is kinda hard to ignore.
Both good candidates. Both likely elements.
All those things are measures of my life. In some very real sense, they *are* small, tangible pieces of my life.
Not unlike blood, I suppose.
The Kindle edition of Communion of Dreams will be free all day tomorrow. And remember, if you would like a chance to win a full-leather, hand-bound copy of the special edition, you need to write a review on Amazon and post a link in the original blog entry about the drawing. That’s a $250 – $350 value.
Even more, it’s part of my life.
Maybe it will be a part of yours.