Funding Creative Ventures (Sword & Laser)

I’m torn on how we do funding these days for all the media I love to consume. I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy. The Sword & Laser show and podcast has been a true life saver. They’re always curating a list of awesome books. If you follow me on GoodReads you’ll see that I pretty much just pick anything they’ve mentioned and start reading that. They’ve never steered me wrong. The interviews with authors I’m interested in are also GREAT.

I think it’s worth some amount of money to be a part of this curation service. Whenever I want to read a book all the work of picking out a good one is already done for me. Just go to the S&L site and I have pretty good odds of finding a winner. How much is that worth? We’ll get to that.

NPR asks for donations infrequently and sticks non invasive ads into This American Life and Serial. Free for me and not that annoying. Google via YouTube funded a whole host of great content creation channels. Free for me, but those non skip-able YouTube ads are getting on my nerves. Penny Arcade and other sites have turned to KickStarter. I’ve donated to a few of these and even received some cool products.

Artist Perspective

I’m an artist making something and I’d like to eat and pay my rent. I’d also like as many people as possible to see what I make. Let’s give it away for free on the Internet and just figure some shit out later. If I don’t make some money I’m going to have to get a real job 🙁 Let’s ask people to just pay what they like.

Consumer Perspective

Cable is expensive as hell! I’d like to listen and watch all this great free stuff online. Oh, I can also pay a la carte for just the things I really enjoy? So cool!

The Hitch(es)

If an artist is giving stuff away for free are you really incentivized to send them money out of the kindness of your heart? Sometimes I certainly am, but I think that’s the exception and not the rule.

I fear that one day I’ll wake up and realize I’m spending more money (or as much) on my a la carte services than I was on a bundled service. Maybe I won’t even realize it because it’s death by a thousand cuts. A little money here and there until I can’t pay my mortgage.

Even worse, what if there is some great content being created but not enough people decide to pitch in and fund it. That’s a real bummer there because the artist might not have funding to keep creating. My podcast or RSS feed could go dead. Definitely worse than missing a mortgage payment!

What Is This Post About Anyway?

I’m going to fund Sword & Laser on Patreon. I love the content and I’m willing to pay a small amount for it. Each time they make an episode they’re going to get $1 from me (up to a monthly max that I didn’t bother setting). This seems like a fair trade. I might bump the amount up at some point. Right now they make about 1 show a week. That’s a grand total of $4 a month, I can swing it. They’ve directed me to so many good books and filled up my commute time with author interviews and sci-fi discussions. I’d like them to keep doing it.

If you follow my GoodReads or like sci-fi I think you should donate too. If they stop making the show I’ll be really sad! They’ve pitched a lot of different ways to raise money over the years and I hope this one sticks.

So far I think Patreon seems like the best option for me and the content creator, but I’m not too optimistic about everyone being so generous.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Thanks to Heather Rowles I started reading the EXCEPTIONALLY AWESOME Daughter of Smoke & Bone series by Laini Taylor.

This book is classified as Young Adult Fiction but I don’t know if that’s fair. I heard a comedian (Colbert?) say “Young Adult is just a term for books that people ACTUALLY read.” That seems about right to me.

I listened to the first two books of this in the Audio Book form. It’s still a life transforming method of book ingestion. Driving is better. Cleaning is better. Walking around randomly is better. It’s a good way to entertain the brain when your body is busy doing some mindless task.

I loved the characters, the story, and the concept. It has action, adventure, a love story, and magic. The story is surprising and gripping. Best of all there are strong and believable female characters AS WELL AS believable male characters (I feel like sometimes you get one or the other but not both).

I would recommend this for anyone who is interested in picking up a new fantasy trilogy.

The narrator, Khristine Hvam, really adds to the experience. The voices are great and she brings the characters to life. I liked listening to her so much that I actually contemplated finding some other series she has read and adding it to my “To Read” list.

The only complaints I have are about how the story doesn’t always flow correctly in the audio book form. I have two examples:

Audio Book Issue 1 – Perspective Shift

When we switch from one character or one location in the physical books it’s pretty clear that we have a page break or section break indicator within the chapter. You’ll see this as *********** sometimes or other visual indication. In the audio book form you just get thrown directly into the new section without any mental preparation or indication. You’re left scrambling to figure it out.


This is maybe less about the audio book and maybe more about the way I read with a suspenseful book. In audio book form when you know some big reveal is coming it is PAINFUL to listen to the narrator read. JUST TELL ME NOW!! I definitely screamed that in the car. When reading a book I have the ability to skip over purposefully suspenseful or excessively flowery prose to figure out where we’re going. I can mentally gloss over the flourish and see the structure underneath. With an audiobook no flourish is spared. Maybe you would like this. I don’t. There are some pretty breathless suspenseful romantic parts that were overdone. If reading the physical book I could have taken these at a faster clip. Listening to the audio book I have to slog through all the prose to get to the reveal that I already know is going to happen.

Despite those two points I would definitely recommend you pick this up in audio book form.

Audio Books

Last week I read “Little Brother” by Cory Doctorow. The overall story was a good read. There were some bits that were mostly the author writing some exposition on a piece of tech he was interested in.

The thing that made it hardest to read was the brutal treatment the protagonist received at the hands of the government.

Either way – this was worth a read as Cory is all over Boing Boing which I read constantly. It’s a directory of wonderful things! Lots of great news updates on things I’m interested in.

The Humble eBook Bundle was released just the other day. It included the audio book version of Homeland, the sequel to Little Brother.

It definitely has some of the same flaws where Cory just gushes on and on about things he’s been geeking out on at the Boing Boing site, but hey – I love geeky things ;) Overall it’s another good story that makes a great follow up to Little Brother. On top of that it’s read by Wil Wheaton. There is a super strange section where Wil is reading as the main character and has a run in with Wil Wheaton making a cameo in the book. Small world.

I’m looking forward to reading through the rest of the books in the bundle though! The description for “Tithe” looked pretty interesting.  Maybe Zombies Vs Unicorns will be pretty good too ;)

Plane Travel Plus Kindle

I think one of my favorite parts of the Park City trip was the new FAA regulations on portable electronic devices. We took Delta and were instructed that we could use our portable electronic devices during all phases of flight.

I used my Kindle Paperwhite to read the HELL out of Caliban’s War which is the second book in the excellent series The Expanse, starting with Leviathan Wakes.

It was great to be able to continue reading uninterrupted because it’s a pretty fast paced book.

Voracious Reading

I’ve been destroying books lately. They are great for plane rides, and great for taking your mind off of things. However, I always find myself more depressed than when I started. Something about holing yourself up for days at a time in a fantasy land that isn’t particularly helpful.

I need to remember to throw in more non-fiction every now and again.

I started two new fantasy series at the same time.

George RR Martin’s – A Game of Thrones (A Song of Fire and Ice)


Patrick Rothfuss – Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicles)

I like them both. I like almost all books though.

I also just recently polished off 20,00 Leagues Under the Sea. Jules Verne is a grand chronicler / cataloger. That means there  are whole pages you can just skip. Oh, he’s still listing types of fish in the Indian Ocean three pages later? Next, Next, Next, oh the story starts again. Overall though – great book worth reading.  You can see the influence his work in the late 1800s has on modern science fiction. To me that’s fascinating.

Read 20,000 leagues under the sea and then pick up a copy of Michael Chrichton’s Sphere. Makes me want to re-read sphere. I’ve been through that book something like 4 times by now. Great read.

Watchmen – Excellent

I just finished watching the Director’s Cut of Watchmen.



I read the comic years back and loved it. The dark and gritty story. The everyman super hero. I loved everything about it. It was such a change of pace from your normal black and white super hero story.

The movie added even more to that. The directors cut didn’t shy away from any of the nasty bits either. That’s what I loved. It showed the absolutely most vile aspects of the story for exactly what they were, and said “This is your reality. It’s ugly. Deal with it.”

At 3:06 from Opening to End of Credits it was a long ass movie. It was absolutely worth it.

If you like action, can stomach some very graphic sex, violence, and EXTREMELY morally questionable behavior, then I recommend this for you.

If the thought of watching someone get their arms cut off, or a dog eating a little girl makes you squeamish, then maybe this isn’t the one for you.

If you have the stomach to see it through you’ll be rewarded with an excellent and thought provoking story, beautiful cinemtography, and HOT latex suit action courtesy of Malin Akerman playing Silk Spectre. Do yourself a favor and google search it.

Also. Boobs!

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the movie:

None of you seem to understand.
I’m not locked in here with you…

What to read?

I finished the Dune series, and the Sword of Truth series.

I have a kindle and I was looking for something to read. I downloaded the Sword of Shannarra series. I am extremely disappointed. Not that it is a bad series, but it just doesn’t live up to Sword of Truth or Dune at all in terms of quality and interest. It doesn’t grab the reader by the balls and say “READ ME TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS NEXT”.

It seems predictable. Maybe others have copied from him, maybe he’s copied from others, but I just get the feeling that I’ve read it before.

It’s three books and I’m on the first one now. Since I paid for it I’ll read it and add it to my collection, hoping it gets better towards the end.

Any recommendations for a good (completed) fiction series? Like I told Kurt and Brendan, I like my authors dead. This way I don’t have to wait for the rest of the series to be written. They can be alive too, that’s ok. As long as the series is done.

Books I’ve Read

Yanked from my friend Jeni.

BBC believes most people will only have read SIX of these 100 books. I find that hard to believe, and can’t find a news article to back up the figure… so… anyway… how many have YOU read? Be honest!

1) Look at the list and put an ‘x’ after those you have read.
2) Add a ‘+’ to the ones you LOVE.
3) Star (*) those you plan on reading.
4) Tally your total at the bottom.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen ()
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien (x+)
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte ()
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling (x – reading now)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee (x)
6 The Bible ()
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte ()
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell (x+)
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman (*)
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens ()
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott (x)
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy ()
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller (x+)
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (not all of the plays in their entirety…(same))
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier ()
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien (x+)
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk ()
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger (*)
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger ()
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot ()
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell ()
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald (x)
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens ()
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy ()
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams (x+)
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh ()
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky ()
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck (x)
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll (x)
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame ()
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy ()
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens ()
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis (*)
34 Emma – Jane Austen ()
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen ()
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis (*)
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini ()
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres ()
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden ()
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne ()
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell ()
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown (x)
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez ()
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving ()
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins ()
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery ()
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy ()
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood ()
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding (x+)
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan ()
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel ()
52 Dune – Frank Herbert (x++ loved this series)
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons ()
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen ()
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth ()
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon ()
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens ()
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley (x)
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon ()
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez ()
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck (x)
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov (*)
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt ()
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold ()
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas ()
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac (x)
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy ()
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding ()
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie ()
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville (x)
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens ()
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker (x+)
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett (x)
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson ()
75 Ulysses – James Joyce (x)
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath ()
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome ()
78 Germinal – Emile Zola ()
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray ()
80 Possession – AS Byatt ()
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens (x)
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell ()
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker ()
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro ()
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert ()
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry ()
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White (x)
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom ()
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ()
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton ()
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad (x – over analyzed in high school! (was in your class for this))
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery ()
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks ()
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams ()
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole (*)
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute ()
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas ()
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare (x)
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl (x)
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo ()

I believe I’ve got 26 in there.

Rabbit, Run – Saying the wrong thing

I’m reading John Updike’s Rabbit Run.

It makes me think of a subject I’ve wanted to write about for a while now:

Saying the wrong thing.

Have you ever had a moment in a conversation where you knew exactly what the wrong thing to say was? The thing that would bring complete silence to the conversation, cause someone to cry, stop being friends with you, or even break up with you?

It’s like walking by the fire alarm in a hallway. You know exactly what would happen if you pulled it, but you keep walking anyway – with the alarm unpulled.

Not sure if other people have these same moments during the day. I have them constantly.

Updike’s character Rabbit makes me thing of my impulses surrounding this.

Whenever he’s in any sort of situation with girls he’ll ALWAYS say exactly the wrong thing. I’m interested to see how it turns out for him. I’m about 100 pages in now. Wish me luck.

That didn’t work out AT ALL for the guy. Looks like I learned an important lesson?

Time – Growing Up

Lately people from my high school have been finding me and adding me via myspace or facebook. If I remember having a conversation with the person I’ll usually accept their friend request.

I get some requests though that are from people I can’t remember ever even meeting.

This makes me wonder, do they remember me? Did I make some impression on their memory that they failed to make on mine?

What’s more likely is that they’re just adding everyone from their graduating class. Nevertheless, it makes me wonder.

I got started on thinking about time a lot. Time is a very funny thing. You don’t realize it has passed until a large chunk has gone by. It’s like watching the sun rise in the sky. Once the sun breaks free of the horizon you lose your reference point and the sun seems to stand still. You can look back at noon, then again closer to sunset and see that the time has passed, but there is no particular point when you recall it happening.

Growing up has been like that. You just wake up one morning and realize you’ve done it. There was no point when someone rang a bell or handed you a degree that marked your “growing up,” but slowly it happened. After so much time passes you realize that school is a distant memory. Something that happened to another person in another life.

The person it happened to isn’t even you anymore.

Certainly you have shared experiences with that person, but because of those experiences you’re different. You can never go back to what was, and what you were. There was a fork in the road and you diverged. But there was no fork, no immediately recollected divergence. Just a slow drift as that person in the past fades away.

What’s even more interesting is the people you knew back in that past…. they remember the person you were. Your past self has a life of its own in the memories of those who knew you then.

This must be what makes it so interesting to see people at a highschool reunion. There is so much reconciliation to be done between the memories of people, and the actual person.

Just by walking into the room you are causing massive energy expenditure in the brains of everyone who is quickly trying to integrate this new you with the old you.

I know I’ve had to do that before. When people change it just blows my mind.

I will never forget a kid from my kindergarten class. He was scrawny, allergic to everything, and had thick glasses. I remember him in that way from kindergarten until maybe 5th grade. I went back to visit that town in college. It nearly destroyed my brain to meet the guy he turned into. Beer drinking, big dude. Seemed like a pretty rough guy. There was absolutely no way I could have connected these two people together. No series of events plays out in my mind to connect my past image of him with his current image. I cannot see how it would have happened.

I wonder how many minds I inhabit right now. I wonder if I could find a way to tease out each one of those snapshot and then compare them somehow. It would be fascinating.

I also started thinking about home as an abstract concept. That old quote “You can never go home again” is so true. I could go back to New York, but it wouldn’t be home. It hasn’t been home for a long time.

It makes me wonder what the time limit is on that. How long can you be in a new place with new people before you lose your old home and assume the new one? Do people assimilate homes at a different rate? I’m sure it’s a slow process. It’s just like growing up. You wake up one day and realize you’ve done it. But you did it long ago. It just took the time to realize.

What will my future self think of this present self? What things could I do to make those two people drastically diverge for the better? For the worse?

I guess I got started on all of this by reading about quantum physics in “Anathem” by Neal Stephenson. Thinking about his quantum brain theory was really interesting.

But – that’s enough for me tonight. My future self is likely to be tired in the morning.