Thursday, August 23, 2012

K.W. Jeter Is Following Me on Twitter.

Shouldn't you?

Seriously - I'm in a fanboy daze. If it weren't for KWJ, we wouldn't have the Court of the Air, Perdido Street Station, Girl Genius, Lovelace and Babbage...

He is one of the progenitors of steampunk. Hell, he COINED THE TERM "STEAMPUNK." How many writers can honestly say they midwifed a whole new genre?

The man wrote two of the earliest steampunk fantasias: Morlock Nights and Infernal Devices (the latter of which was the earliest example of "clockpunk.")

Shout out to you, KWJ.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Classic F/SF Ideas: Franchise Government

A social system in which governmental functions like security, defense, and conflict resolution are maintained by private organizations, not public bodies; or a society in which the government no longer has a "monopoly of legitimate violence" - especially if some or all of those functions have been assumed by corporations. Derived from anarchist political theory, it is also a defining concept of cyberpunk and other forms of dystopian science fiction.

"The Ungoverned," Vernor Vinge
Snowcrash, Neal Stephenson


Sorry I left that last post up so long.
Now for something completely different.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Rich Kids of Instagram

The good news is that money doesn't make you beautiful.

Boy Reporter pt. III: The city is an ocean with its life underground.

This is New York - Underground
Until this hotel gig, I had forgotten just how much of what we do in NYC is underground. We are mole people.

Not just the subways, although that's a gimme. But how many buildings connect to the subways, how many barber shops, pizza joints, newsstands, shoe shines, gourmet delis and fitness spas are under people's feet. And not just dirty Penn Station shops either. Most of the hotels in the Shmancy class (and all of the hotels in the next bracket, the Fancy-Shmancy) have their spas, orchid shops, and bespoke hair stylists down there.

Would it be possible to walk underground from Washington Heights to Wall Street without using the subway?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Boy Reporter, pt. II

So, after tramping around for more than a week so far to different hotels, seeing the amenities, etc. etc. here's an observation:

Visitors who come to New York for the first time will judge it on three things: the streets, the subway, and the hotel they stay at. I used to have serious cognitive dissonance when I heard people talk about New York as this inherently fashionable and stylish place, because I saw Times Square, and guys hacking through the garment district, secretaries in pants suits on their lunch break in Bryant Park, and none of it seemed that stylish to me. Fashion and style were restricted to very wealthy, somewhat inbred  folks who descended on my neighborhood during Fashion Week and then disappeared again.

But now, having seen some of these hotels - I get it. There's one down by Gramercy Park where each room is different, the air has a trademarked smell - excuse me, scent - and original Warhols and Hirsts dangle from the walls. There's another that's an entire city block wide and has ballrooms that would have fit in perfectly on the Titanic. There's another boutique hotel with a lobby that's the kind of casual it takes millions to perfect, with soundproofed windows and door so as soon as you enter, the East Side just vanishes. People judge New York by the lobbies of the hotels they stay at.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ted Mendelssohn, Boy Reporter

That's me, checking out a room
I just got an interesting assignment for a NYC tourism website. I'm visiting hotels, checking out the rooms and amenities, and writing them up...and I've already come to some conclusions.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Or rather, Domesday.

Credit: Prof. J.J.N. Palmer & George Slater.
A couple of readers have asked me how I got the medieval stuff so convincing in TWS. First of all, thank you.

Second of all, believe me, a lot of it is WILDLY inaccurate, and the sad part is, I'm not even sure which bits. But if I get it right, if I hit a good detail, it's because of this - PRIMARY TEXTS.

Here. I'll say it again, with the echo chamber sound effect:


Primary texts: those documents produced by people during the period in question. The Declaration of Independence is a primary text. So is the Stamp Act. So, for that matter, are the epitaphs on the tombstones in the Old Granary Burying Ground in Boston.

Why am I giving you all this blah-di-blah? Because the Domesday Book, one of the great primary texts of all-frikkin'-time, is available free online in a fully hyperlinked format.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Value-Added, Meet Value-Subtracted

So instead of just showing coverage of the Olympics - period. Full stop. - NBC airs documentary retrospectives of Kerri Strug. Interviews with Ryan Seacrest.

Are you kidding me?

Congratulations, NBC: You have officially invented value-SUBTRACTED entertainment.
Shut the F up and show more of the actual 2012 Olympics.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Why Joss Whedon Is Awesome and I Liebehassen Him

Hate/love - when someone is so damned good that you hate him for being better than you even while you love what he does. It's an emotion common among creative types and athletes. I felt it for Neil Gaiman when he was writing The Sandman. And of course, I feel it for Joss Whedon.

Okay, so we all know Joss is awesome. But let's dissect this for a moment. Forget about him inventing two whole new kinds of dialogue (Buffyspeak and Firefly), or reintroducing gunpowder and horses to space opera. Let's go almost all the way back, to when Buffy was a mid-season replacement that was supposed to flicker and vanish; instead it grabbed hold of people's eyeballs and wouldn't let go. Why? Metaphor, metaphor, metaphor.