Lists and Rules about Creativity

By , May 17, 2011 3:44 pm

When I think of ‘creativity,’ the idea of making lists doesn’t exactly spring to mind. Nevertheless, I recently came across two lists worth sharing. First, from the fabulous Felicia Day’s blog, 10 Simple Ways To Speed Up Your Writing (a guest post from another blogger). A few of the specifics I like are Eliminating Distractions (something I’m horrible at), using a Brain Dump to get out as many ideas as possible, and giving your self a Deadline (something I’m slowwwwwly getting better at). Most of the ideas seem applicable to lots of creative fields, not just writing, so check it out!

Then from the also-fabulous-in-very-different-ways Neo Futurists (where I recently auditioned for a chance to be in their ensemble) 25 Rules for Creating Good Theatre from the Neo’s founder Greg Allen. I love the Neo aesthetic of honest, open-handed theatre, and Greg’s list fits well within that mindset. I also want to really reflect on this list as I’m working on No Gender Left Behind, particularly points like

Rule #4: Know why you are creating this show. The piece you create must be the expression of something about which you feel very deeply. Setting out to make “good theater” is not enough. Take a strong stand – personal, political, social, artistic, – and challenge yourself to express it. Include your performers in this aim.


Rule #11: Create true theater. A show should never fail to answer the question “Why is this theater?”  Theater is live performers in front of a live audience. Never forget this. If your show can be put on television or turned into a movie without losing something, you have failed.

But I wanted to expand on one particular rule of Greg’s:

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Speaking of ebooks…

By , May 16, 2011 9:35 am

Walter Jon Williams is using pirated versions of his own books to try and get legit copies online for sale:

I embarked upon a Cunning Plan. I discovered that my work had been pirated, and was available for free on BitTorrent sites located in the many outlaw server dens of former Marxist countries. So I downloaded my own work from thence with the intention of saving the work of scanning my books— I figured I’d let the pirates do the work, and steal from them. While this seemed karmically sound, there proved a couple problems.

First, the scans were truly dreadful and full of errors. (Even if you’re desperate for my work, I can’t really recommend them.) A lot of time has been spent copy-editing, both by me and by Kathy— which isn’t really so bad, because this would have to be d0ne anyway.

But second, apparently a few of my books were so obscure that they flew under the radar of even the pirates! You can’t imagine how astounded I was when I discovered this.

Best of luck!

(Originally from Consumerist)

Reading versus E-Reading

By , May 15, 2011 6:02 pm

I’ve had my Nook for about three weeks now (here’s my original mini-review) and I wanted to add some more thoughts. I have a particularly relevant experience to compare and contrast to, since I just finished A Discovery of Witches for a forthcoming review. After three weeks of reading physical and digital books, I’ve come to a conclusion: I prefer reading e-books. I prefer having physical books.

Wait, what?

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In Which I Offend The Jews (Who Are A Monolithic People And Can’t Have Individual Opinions)

By , May 12, 2011 4:47 pm
[A table is set with shabbat candles. REBECCA lights them while saying the following prayer. It (loosely) translates to ‘Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the universe, Who creates _____.” Lighting should be enough to see REBECCA, even when the candles are blown out, but low enough that lighting the candles provides some light to her face]

REBECCA: Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha?olam, bo’re p’ri I only remember the prayers which go like this. [REBECCA blows out the candles]

I’m a bad Jew. I don’t keep kosher, I don’t celebrate holidays, I don’t particularly believe in God. But I could be a good Jew and not keep kosher. Not celebrate holidays. Not particularly believe in God.

[REBECCA relights the candles] Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha?olam, bo’re p’ri it bugs me that I can’t get in touch with observent friends on the sabbath because they can’t answer their cellphones. [REBECCA blows out the candles]
I’m a bad Jew because I don’t support Israel.

[REBECCA relights the candles] Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha?olam, bo’re p’ri feeling bad about the Holocaust didn’t give the Western World the right to further divide up the Middle East simply because they didn’t want to deal with Jewish refugees. [REBECCA blows out the candles]

And I understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is incredibly complex. The Jewish historical and religious roots in Israel go back thousands of years. Continue reading 'In Which I Offend The Jews (Who Are A Monolithic People And Can’t Have Individual Opinions)'»

Hormone levels update

By , May 11, 2011 5:15 pm

I heard back from my doc, and apparently my estrogen levels were 4626. Eek! Here’s what he said about estrogen versus estradiol levels:

Serum estrogen levels measures all estrogens in your blood whether given as an Rx, or produced naturally. Estradiol measure a single type of estrogen that is made naturally in a genetic female. So, for our purposes estrogen is what we measure.

In the meantime, I’m down to 3 pills (6 mg) a day, from the original 10. Hopefully I won’t start sprouting gorilla hair. 😉

Journey to the End of the Night

By , May 10, 2011 10:17 am

This past Saturday, one of my roommates (Annie) and I participated in Chicago’s Journey to the End of the Night, a street game -slash- race -slash- tag -slash- scavenger hunt.

It was awesome.


About eight miles of walking, running, jogging, and HIDING!

The premise is that you – as a ‘runner’ – are trying to get from the starting point to the end point, stopping at checkpoints along the way to get a piece of paper stamped to prove you’ve been there. As a runner, you have a blue ribbon on your arm. Chasers, wearing red ribbons, are scattered throughout the playing area, and if you’re caught by a chaser you have to give them your blue ribbon (as a trophy of sorts) and put on a red ribbon. Then you become a chaser, too.


The event covered all of the north-east side of Chicago, and Annie came up with a map of our route. We went at least eight miles total, and you weren’t allowed to use cars, taxis, or bikes. You could use public transit, but ran the risk of chasers catching you; being on transit was safe (as were train stations) but waiting for the bus was a risky proposition.

We made it to three of the six check-point, and were caught between #3 and #4, right around where the map says “N Broadway.” (For those of you familiar with Chicago, we were caught right outside the Dominicks on Broadway just south of Granville.)

After being caught, we wandered around trying to catch more folks. Annie and Eric (the guy who caught Annie and who we teamed up with as chasers) each caught a few people but I, alas, did not.

Nevertheless, and in spite of the exhaustion and pain on Sunday and Monday, it was totally worth it. TONS of fun, and highly recommended to similarly ridiculous folks.

Trans Health Panel at Howard Brown

By , May 6, 2011 3:55 pm

This morning I went to a panel at Howard Brown Health Center on a more complete and helpful picture of trans health issues. The conversation didn’t contain any revolutionary insights (yes, trans (and cis!) folks should be able to access medical health under an informed consent model, yes, there’s an overlap between LGBT health and reproductive health, and so on) but it did raise some interesting questions for me.

First, and something I’ve thought a lot about in the past, is the question of how to handle trans minors. As an educator and a trans person, I have a very conflicted view of this. On the one hand, as a trans person, I absolutely believe it’s possible to ‘know’ that one is trans before hitting 18. Access to medical care and hormones prior to 18 can make a huge difference in the ease and emotional success of transitioning. At the same time, as an educator, the idea of allowing teenagers to make such fundamental choices about their bodies worries me. I feel super hypocritical expressing that worry, since I would have been offended had someone questioned my trans identity (and, indeed, was offended when I had mediocre therapy support from folks who did question my identity). But what should the guidelines be for handling people who are not necessarily in a legal position to make their own decisions?

More broadly, the discussion got me thinking about whether or not healthcare is a fundamental right.

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Being self employed

By , May 3, 2011 3:03 pm

Being self employed is tough, and something I still don’t totally have the hang of. Figured I’d share some more links I found useful:

From Lifehacker, some office yoga:

From Life on Michigan Avenue, 29 Ways to Stay Creative. I’m a fan of “Carry a notebook everywhere,” “Don’t give up,” and “Allow yourself to make mistakes.”

And another Lifehacker link, Top Ten Ways to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing. I need to do so much more of number four…

May Day, Emma Goldman, and my grandparents

By , May 1, 2011 5:54 pm
Haymarket Memorial Statue rededication

Haymarket Memorial Statue rededication

Today is May Day, celebrated just about everywhere but the United States as International Workers Day. The reason it’s today is 100% American, and 100% Chicago: the Haymarket marches in Chicago on May 1, 1886 drew somewhere between 40,000 and 80,000 people and as workers around the country pushed for union rights, 8-hour work days, and other pro-labor positions. In the US, however, May Day is (and has historically been) associated with communism and socialism, meaning many Americans don’t know this important part of our history.

It feels particularly relevant to me, because my grandparents on my father’s side were active members of the Communist Party. Indeed, my grandfather was underground and on the run from the FBI during the 1950s. From his obituary in 1991:

In his 1985 autobiography, `Where the Action Is: Memoirs of a U.S. Communist,` Jack Kling recalled the optimism he felt in the early 1930s, when he was 20 years old and this nation was suffering through the Depression.

He wrote: `As an ardent and enthusiastic Young Communist League organizer, seeing the country in such upheaval, I was confident I would see communism replacing capitalism shortly, surely in not more than ten years at most!`

He then conceded: `While my timetable has been decimated, my belief in socialism has not.`

Today was also the rededication of the Haymarket memorial statue at Waldheim Cemetery, west of Chicago, where my grandparents are buried. I attended the rededication with my dad and his sister, my aunt. (More info on the statue can be found here.)

Continue reading 'May Day, Emma Goldman, and my grandparents'»

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