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kurtbusiek:

There was a little back-and-forth this morning on Twitter about a question Gail Simone and Kelly Sue DeConnick were asked on a con panel, about how to write believable female characters. Deb Aoki wondered aloud (or a-tweet) whether male writers should be asked how to write believable male…

Click, and read the whole thing. It’s good advice for writers and human beings and human beings who are writers.

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THE THREE WISE MEN, a true story for Yom Kippur

To provide context: I am not a religious person. My mother was raised Jewish (Ashkenazi from Odessa), my father was raised Catholic (from outside Naples) and their response to all that lore and dogma was to raise me in a world with a lot of holidays with little to no connection to religious ritual. It is worth mentioning, however, that my mother was a deeply moral person (right is what is done, wrong is that which we do not do) and I’ve never met a man who loved his fellow man the way my father did.

The dogma is nothing. The message is everything.  But that’s another essay.  (Scroll all the way back: it’s called “In Which I Propose A New Messiah.”)

Anyway, one result of all this was that the solemn and thoughtful Yom Kippur (fasting, no presents) was not a part of my childhood. We did Passover with my Grandfather Pincus (and Grandmother Harriet, while she lived) , we did Hanukah with lighting an electric Menorah and a little present every night.  But no Yom Kippur.

As an adult, with the choice of doing whatever the hell I want, it may surprise you to hear that I have, now and again, actually “celebrated “Yom Kippur. Not as an observance of Judaism, per se, but because it struck me at some point that taking a day off and thinking back over the past year, while fasting, was an interesting and possibly even useful activity for a thoughtful person.

About a decade ago, I had a Yom Kippur experience that has always stayed with me.

It was the day before the night, to coin a phrase, and I hadn’t decided if I was going to fast that year. I was a little beat and under the weather, and I have found that fasting when you’re getting sick is a fantastic way to ensure you become INCREDIBLY sick.

It was a Sunday.  I went to the flea market at Fairfax High School.

I stepped up to the used bookseller: he has a terrific collection of great stuff. He was an older gentleman, and he was wrapping up a discussion (argument, debate) with another older gentleman, all in black.  As I approached and (no kidding) pawed through the weathered Kafka paperbacks, the gentleman in black was saying, “But He sees all, my friend.  He knows! He watches!”

The Bookseller made a “pfah” kind of sound and said, “Maybe He has time to watch you. I hope He’s not wasting time watching me.”

The gent in black looked, rather suddenly, at me, “What about you, young man? Will you be fasting this evening?”

I was a little surprised to be so immediately identified as a member of the Tribe, but I wasn’t about to deny the heritage.

“I honestly haven’t decided yet, sir.”

A gnarled finger pointed at the sky, and with a smile on his face the First Wise Man repeated, “He watches! He watches me, and you, and even this guy here!”

We all laughed, and it was a good-natured thing.  The insistent prophet tottered away with a smile and a wave.

The Bookseller gave me a look.

“That guy. Guys like that. So full of shit. Nobody’s watching. Nobody cares. We’re just here, right, and we try to do good and that’s what matters, right?”

I agreed, not must to be agreeable, but because I didn’t disagree.

“So… are you going to fast?” he asked.

“I wasn’t kidding him. I haven’t decided. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. Not to please Yahweh, but because it’s not a bad thing to take a day off and think.”

 “Better you should think on a full stomach.”  We laughed again. 

I bought a book.  I no longer remember what it was.

 I went to Ralphs. All spiritual narratives should have a trip to Ralphs, right?  (Non-LA residents: it is a large supermarket chain. Cf. The Big Lebowski’s opening scene.)

I was wandering the aisles, wondering.  Buy food or not?  Go home and fast?

The third old Jewish man of the day approached me, quietly and politely.

“Pardon me, do you happen to know how long til jahrzeit?”

Again surprised to be so quickly identified, I said, “I’m not familiar with that word, but from context I’m going to guess that you mean to ask what time sundown is today.”

The Third Wise Man smiled and said, “Yes, I’m sorry. It means ‘the lighting of the candles’. I thought perhaps you were…”

I said, “I am, but of the standard, suburban, American, not-really-practicing type.” As he nodded, I checked my watch. “I think sunset is around 6:30 today. We have about two and a half hours yet.”

“Ah, good. Are you going to fast?”

As previously stated I am not religious, so we’re going to have to postulate here that the Rule of Threes is a thermodynamic law rather than a spiritual precept.

For the third time, I said, “I honestly haven’t decided yet. I am feeling under the weather, and I’m afraid that fasting will make me sick.”

He put his hand on my arm, “Do you know… there is dispensation for illness. God doesn’t want you should be sick. He wants you to take care of yourself. Eat a meal and be well.”

I thanked him, wished him “Good Yontiff” and he went off.  Possibly to buy candles. You can, in fact, buy Jahrzeit candles at most Ralphs in Los Angeles.

Maybe it’s the rule of threes, maybe it’s the fairy-tale-like repetition of  question and response, maybe it’s the three completely different answers to a theological issue, but this has always stayed with me. Judaism, and Jews, summed up. Three ways of being, all worthy of my respect, all connected to me and my family.

My own views are closest to that of the Second Wise Man, the Bookseller.  God isn’t watching. It’s up to you. But I have some sympathy for the view of the First Wise Man, even if I can’t believe. And I was moved by the kindness, the compassion, of the Third Wise Man.

Later that evening, I had some roast chicken, some toasted baguette, a little broccoli. If Yahweh was offended, he didn’t say anything about it.

Good Yontiff, and Happy New Years, brothers, sisters, unbelievers and devout.

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tortured metaphors are us, part one

"Lucky" has a nice, neutral ring to it.  Bad lucky and good lucky, it’s all luck. Still, it’s a hanging a superstitious frame on a random universe which is a relentless batting cage machine firing baseballs over your plate . Ball or strike, you don’t have a lot of control over. Swing or don’t swing? That’s on you. 

Batter up.

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Eleanor Lays It Down For You

allisontype:

"Courage is more exhilarating than fear and in the long run it is easier. We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down."

-Eleanor Roosevelt, 1960

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fortunecookied:

Captain Nemo’s submarine Nautilus from Walt Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)

Harper Goff’s immortal Nautilus design: the reason everyone who develops a Captain Nemo project hopes Disney picks up the movie rights…

(via allisontype)

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publicschoolshow:

Public School is back in sesh on Wednesday Sept 3rd at 9pm.
And we have moved to a new house: The Virgil, 4519 Santa Monica (off Virgil).  It’s dark and comfy and the cocktails are fancy. No cover. Free Gratis. 
These folks will captivate ya:
Dana Snyder * Baron Vaughn * Toby Huss * Ariel Hart * Kelly Hudson * Jenny Yang * Joey Slamon * hosted by registered shape-shifter James Urbaniak 
RSVP NOW AND OPEN UP

This is a very large number of my favorite people, all in one place and time.

publicschoolshow:

Public School is back in sesh on Wednesday Sept 3rd at 9pm.

And we have moved to a new house: The Virgil, 4519 Santa Monica (off Virgil).  It’s dark and comfy and the cocktails are fancy. No cover. Free Gratis. 

These folks will captivate ya:

Dana Snyder * Baron Vaughn * Toby Huss * Ariel Hart * Kelly Hudson * Jenny Yang * Joey Slamon * hosted by registered shape-shifter James Urbaniak 

RSVP NOW AND OPEN UP

This is a very large number of my favorite people, all in one place and time.

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Uncle Dickie

He was a fine director, possibly a better actor, and seems to have been a lovely human being.  But when I think of him, I always think of an anecdote I heard about him that cracks me up, while also violating the image I would expect most people have of the grandfatherly old chap.

I can think of about four or five people who might have told me this story, but it was so long ago I’m not sure who did.

From 1971 to 1973, Jane Seymour was Richard Attenborough’s neice, by marriage.  When she arrived on the set of LIVE AND LET DIE, she had a note with her, from “Uncle Dickie”, to new James Bond Roger Moore.

Moore opened the sealed envelope, and found a breezy note from Uncle Dickie, about what a darling child Jane was, and how talented, and so forth.

The last line of the note was:

"If you fuck her, I will kill you.  Yours, Dickie"

Roger seems concerned.

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ryallsfiles:

My favorite book ever. I think I can never have enough different editions of it, starting with the little paperback edition here that I got from a Scholastic Book Club at age 10.

Maybe the first book I really loved, the first one that really captured and fired my imagination.  I should read it again… it’s been a while…

ryallsfiles:

My favorite book ever. I think I can never have enough different editions of it, starting with the little paperback edition here that I got from a Scholastic Book Club at age 10.

Maybe the first book I really loved, the first one that really captured and fired my imagination.  I should read it again… it’s been a while…

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danagould:

Two years ago, I was performing at The Punchline in San Francisco, and Robin came to the show with our mutual friend, Dan Spencer.
This particular batch of material was the first time I had touched upon my then still-fresh divorce wounds, and big chunks of it were pretty dark. The next day, I got a text from a number I didn’t recognize. Whoever it was had obviously been to the show and knew my number, so I figured they would reveal themselves at some point and save me the embarrassment of asking who they were.
The Mystery Texter asked how I was REALLY doing. “You can’t fool me. Some of those ‘jokes’ aren’t ‘jokes.” By now I knew that whoever this was had been through what I was enduring, as no one else would know to ask, “What time of day is the hardest?”
He wanted to know how my kids were handling it, all the while assuring me that the storm, as bleak as it was, would one day pass and that I was not, as I was then convinced, a terrible father for visiting a broken home upon my children.
I am not rewriting this story in retrospect to make it dramatic. I did not know who I was texting with. Finally, my phone blipped, and I saw, in a little green square, “Okay, pal. You got my number. Call me. I’ve been there. You’re going to be okay. - Robin.”
That is what you call a human being.

One human being writing about another human being. Always worth a read, really.

danagould:

Two years ago, I was performing at The Punchline in San Francisco, and Robin came to the show with our mutual friend, Dan Spencer.

This particular batch of material was the first time I had touched upon my then still-fresh divorce wounds, and big chunks of it were pretty dark. The next day, I got a text from a number I didn’t recognize. Whoever it was had obviously been to the show and knew my number, so I figured they would reveal themselves at some point and save me the embarrassment of asking who they were.

The Mystery Texter asked how I was REALLY doing. “You can’t fool me. Some of those ‘jokes’ aren’t ‘jokes.” By now I knew that whoever this was had been through what I was enduring, as no one else would know to ask, “What time of day is the hardest?”

He wanted to know how my kids were handling it, all the while assuring me that the storm, as bleak as it was, would one day pass and that I was not, as I was then convinced, a terrible father for visiting a broken home upon my children.

I am not rewriting this story in retrospect to make it dramatic. I did not know who I was texting with. Finally, my phone blipped, and I saw, in a little green square, “Okay, pal. You got my number. Call me. I’ve been there. You’re going to be okay. - Robin.”

That is what you call a human being.

One human being writing about another human being. Always worth a read, really.

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thesofiya:

Because a number of people have reached out to me for therapist/psychiatrist recommendations, I decided I would compile the several resources I’ve gathered from my friends’ Facebook feeds in case anyone’s looking for help right now in LA. Please post your own recommendations in the replies, and I…


A couple of days ago, I had a dream about a friend who killed himself. I woke up thinking about my own struggles with depression, and my wife encouraged me (not for the first time), to try harder to find a therapist.  Before I could even address myself to that task, the news came through that Robin Williams had killed himself.  So I asked for recommendations, and my friend Sofiya was one of the first to respond.  She has now created a page for all the recommendations she’s collected over the past few days, including all of those from my Facebook thread. I hope this helps. It certainly helped me.


Click the title to see the list.