Dana’s Gift Emporium for the Terminally Late and Non-Shopaholic

Right. Crap. Christmas and/or other midwinter holiday requiring giftage. There’s very little time left to get that special someone a little something, isn’t there? Suppose I’d best boot the Dojo to another day and get on it, then.

If, like me, you’re teh suck at this whole shopping thing, hopefully the links contained herein will offer a bit o’ the old inspiration and assistance. Even if you do have to give someone a card saying, “I ordered your gift late, so you get to open this card first.”

What if you’re buying for someone you’re obligated to buy for but don’t really like? Oh, just wait. Got that covered, too!

Science Gifties

Evelyn Mervine has the definitive list of gift ideas for geologists, by geologists. You’re sure to find something good here, but in case you need more ideas, Agile has also got some suggestions.

I’d like to plug Edmund Scientifics, because when that whole uproar started over gendered science kits, even though they weren’t the main offenders, they responded by doing the right thing and ending the gender segregation. Check them out for a little something for the Young Scientist on your list. They have a remote-controlled flying shark on the front page right now. How awesome is that?

Rocks In a Hard Place offers some fabulous items for the geologist on your list, and comes recommended by Garry Hayes. Their front page alone made me scream with joy. They’ve got fluorescent bloody minerals, and really, who doesn’t want fluorescent bloody minerals?

Also, there’s Mini Me Geology, which has some adorable options, and there’s that Austin Powers reference in the name, which makes them all the more awesome. Plus, Rock Detective kits. Seriously, where was that shit when I was growing up?! Recommended by Kate from Iowa.

Do you know someone who doesn’t own Brian Switek’s Written in Stone yet? Remedy that immediately!

And, this may not exist yet, but what an idea:

Surely this should be on every geologist's christmas wishlist? I want one. via @ http://t.co/bCa3MahU
Dr Rebecca Williams

Here’s a one-stop shop for the geek on your list from Double X Science.

For Those Less-Than-Loved Ones

Our own Stephanie Zvan uncovered a treasure trove of ideas for those obligatory gifts you must present to people you’d rather not buy a gift for, and will present with a present only because social niceties demand you do so. Even if you haven’t got one of those people in your life, read the post – it’s good for a belly laugh.

Charitable Works

Speaking of belly laughs, bust your gut laughing and find some good causes to give to at The Bloggess, where The James Garfield Christmas (And Hanukah) Miracle Returns. Sort of. This also ties in beautifully with the begrudging gift category. See Miracle #3.

And the JAYFK is having its Holiday Vaccine Drive. This is a fabulous thing – you can, for not much money, potentially vaccinate an entire village. We wish each other good health every season. Why not do more than wish?

Too Poor For Awesome Gifts

Are you kidding? Srsly? You can afford whole worlds!

Sign at Powell's Books

Doesn’t even have to be a new book – plenty of beautiful stuff at used bookstores at a great price. Doesn’t even have to be a physical book – get an ebook for those with ereaders, and you can afford even more!

But if you’re super-amazing poor, don’t forget the greatest toys of all time, which often don’t cost a thing. Give a copy of that post along with the toy, and you might make it out alive.

And always, always, remember the love. Give plenty o’ that, and get plenty back, my darlings!

Los Links 12/9

I promise you, Los Links will soon move back to Monday where it belongs. Time keeps getting away from me. Things happening, y’know. And then there’s the fact so many people are writing so much interesting stuff, and reading takes time, and argh.

Lots and lots of links this week. Far more than it seemed like it would be. Hopefully you’ll find one or two that interests you. Enjoy!

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Seattle Area Readers: Clear Your Weekend Schedules

Image credit: Photo by Mike Wilson for Burien Little Theatre.

You’ve only got three opportunities left. Then Inspecting Carol will be gone forever, and you’ll have missed the chance to laugh your way to a hernia. So choose a showing:

December 16 at 8:00 p.m. – Friday

December 17 at 8:00 p.m. – Saturday

December 18 at 2:00 p.m. – Sunday 

Buy your ticket. Go.

Burien Little Theatre always puts on something whacked out for the holidays. None of this sappy-happy crap for them. Oh, no. It’s usually hilarious, always completely warped, and a great antidote to all that cloying Christmas music you’ve been enduring. Inspecting Carol was no exception to that rule. It’s chaos right from the very beginning. And you think you know where it’ll end up, but it doesn’t go there. It turns left at Albuquerque and ends up – well, by then you’re laughing too hard to notice the “Welcome to X” sign.

It’s got a whole bunch of these perfect little moments. You will never hear the word “utensils” in quite the same way again. And the ending. Just when you think the ending’s going to sag just a bit, it hits this crescendo of absurdity that caps the whole thing like that one perfect cherry on a Dadaist banana split.

You will see an Asian in a serape and a diaper, and it will make sense.

You will see some of the best worst acting in the business.

You will see Scrouge holding stuffed animals.

You will see a person in a dress doing a back-crawl on stage.

And you will marvel at the technical aspects, because just like you have to be a superb actor to play a bad one, you have to be technically perfect to pull off multiple stage disasters.

The actors did a phenomenal job. They don’t stop acting when the focus isn’t on them, either. Spare a glance for those on the periphery of the scenes, because their reactions are priceless. It’s just marvelous, what they’ve done. They’re all fantastic, and while I doubt anything will ever dethrone Martha, Josie and the Christmas Elvis as my all-time favorite fucked-up holiday play, this came perilously close.

So just go. Don’t deprive yourselves. And give a huge round o’ applause to the actors who made this such a delight. They were amazing, every one.

  • Andy Beal (Luther Beatty)
  • Sarah Bixler (MJ McMann)
  • Robert Harkins (Sidney Carlton)
  • Eric Hartley (Phil Hewlitt)
  • Adam Hegg (Kevin Emery)
  • Nathaniel Jones (Wayne Wellacre)
  • Russ Kay (Larry Vaushall)
  • Kevin Schilling (Bart Frances)
  • Tim Takechi (Walter E. Parsons)
  • Vera Werre (Dorothy Tree-Hapgood)
  • Rochelle Wyatt (Inspector Betty Andrews)
  • Yvette Zaepfel (Zorah Bloch)

If you went to Frankenstein, you’ll recognize Russ Kay, who was The Monster. I just want to say that he makes a gorgeous dude-playing-Scrouge. Nathaniel’s one of my favorites from many other BLT productions, but he’s never slayed me like he did this time round. And Vera Werre – just delightful. Tim Takechi was fucking incredible. So were all of them, and I’m going to stop naming names now because we’ll be here all night – just bloody go see the show, m’kay?

And forgive them for making Los Links a day late. If you see the show, you’ll understand why that was worth it.

Sunday Song: Helena’s Theme

The Universe is conspiring against me. Three extra-long days at work ended tonight, and I said, “Huzzah! At last! I can get shit done. I just have to catch up on my Twitter stream.” Then a friend popped up needing some assistance, which was a lot of fun offering, and didn’t take long. Then there was the excitement with the drunk person left passed out in a car by friends and waking in a panic with no idea where she was, thus leading to drama with car horns and a call to the police to assist with ensuring her safe return home, as she was too far gone to even tell us what the situation was, much less where she lived.

And I still haven’t finished reading for Los Links.

And I’m on my way to Burien Little Theatre in the afternoon for some fun with Inspecting Carol. It’s at 2 pm, if any of you locals wish to join me.

Anyway. That’s why you’re getting a song rather than a post with actual substance in it, but this is an important song. I actually meant to post it some time ago. You see, I have a brilliant young geologist friend named Helena, pronounced the way Kamelot pronounces it, and she always reminds me of this music: beautiful, intriguing, and a lot of fun to listen to. She’s quite a bit less tragic than the Helena in the songs, though, a fact for which I am grateful.

So here is Helena’s Theme:

While we’re on the subject of Kamelot, I’d like to reestablish my metal cred by playing one of their metal songs. Loves me some Roy Khan, especially when Simon Simons of Epica is joining him.

Nobody talk to me about the fact Roy’s left the band. I want to think happy thoughts. That is a hugely depressing thought.

Fuck. Now I’m depressed. Quick! Kitteh with dolphins to the rescue!

Tip o’ the shot glass to my coworker and friend Starspider, who prevented me from spelunking the pit o’ despair by finding this video and forcing me to watch it at work.

Saturday Song: Escala

Once again, we have reached the point in the week where there’ll be no Los Links for you if Dana doesn’t get her reading done.

So here’s a lovely video and a version of “Palladio” you may not have heard, even if you have heard “Palladio,” which you may not have done.

And the album version, for comparison’s sake, and also because I love it:

I know, I’m killing my metal cred with all this stuff. But I’ve been a fan of classical and classical-inspired music since blasting Beethoven and Vivaldi in a Cadillac El Dorado whilst wearing headbanger clothes in high school. Lookers-on have absolutely no idea what to do with that.

Pitch 2.0: Naming Names

Veterans of the Nymwars will know why my ears pricked when a member of the audience asked the panelists at Pitch 2.o about pseudonyms. And they’ll know why I scowled a bit when the first response was along the lines of “Why would you?” They came out pretty anti-nym, but for a good reason: identity. While it wasn’t made clear in that brief time for discussion, I think they’d agree that it’s not the ‘nym that’s the problem, but starting over from scratch.

If I’m mistaken, they’ll hopefully be by to set me straight. But let’s proceed on the assumption I’m correct.

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CreateSpace and Amazon’s Pitch 2.0: Completely Worth It

So, last night, I attended a free event put on by CreateSpace and Amazon called Pitch 2.0. It very nearly didn’t happen, and I’ll be paying dearly for it for the next three days, but it was totally worth it. It was even worth the rush hour traffic on the 520 bridge, which locals know is the kind of hell you usually only associate with cities like L.A. and New York.

I took copious notes and I’ll be blogging about it for some time to come, starting soon (probably as soon as work finishes making me pay for my pleasure). The main thing I took away was this: publishing has changed, and independent authors have some fantastic resources available to them now. I’ve been seriously considering the whole self-publishing route for some time. Unless circumstances change, this event has pretty much convinced me that this is the right choice for my books. I’m not interested in spending years trying to get them traditionally published after finishing them. I want them in the hands of my readers ASAP. And with the tools available now, those books won’t lack for anything in the product quality department. The only possible failing may be the author herself, but I’ll be doing my utmost to make sure the contents match the beautiful, professional packaging.

A lot of excellent information came out of this event: help with pitches, marketing, distributing, and various other topics. We won’t lack for Dojo material, I can tell you.

I can also tell you that if CreateSpace and Amazon throw one of these little soirees in your neighborhood, get your ass registered and attend, no matter what it takes. It was worth several months’ worth of perusing the best writing blogs out there. Not that you shouldn’t be doing that, too, but there’s nothing like an event like this for helping you become a better author and, if you wish, your own publisher.

Warning: Fencesitters and Bystanders May Be Affected

At the risk of inviting a miasma of socks, I am going to talk about Womanspace once again. It’s important, and I’ve got a point to make.

There are a couple of open letters that are worth reading. Dr. O’s An open letter to Dr. Rybicki makes a very important point:

Maybe your short story isn’t the biggest issue out there concerning sexism, but it’s the little issues that are frequently the most dangerous. Little slights, which appear innocent enough on the surface, permeate our thoughts and actions without our conscious permission and ultimately DO have consequences, whether we intend for them to or not.

And when your small act of sexism, intentional or otherwise, ends up published in a venue the size of Nature, it has an outsize effect. This is why women and men spoke out. Silence would imply the issue is unimportant. It’s most certainly not. As any scientist who also happens to be a woman whether a culture of sexism harms, and chances are excellent she will tell you it does.

Of course, this wasn’t the worst act of sexism ever perpetrated in the entire history of civilization. And it would have probably died quite quietly if the author had possessed the humility and courage to utter just two words.

I’d have liked it if he had. But he chose to pour gasoline rather than balm, and we all know what happens when someone starts a fire on the internet. I’m not sorry it happened. Many excellent posts came out of it. Nature got put on notice, and so did anyone else who might have thought that a little light sexism was quite all right. Dust-ups like this raise awareness. And I want to talk about why that’s important.

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Okay, So This Is Only the Greatest Plate Tectonics Song Ever

I didn’t know this song existed 5 minutes ago. Then I pulled up YouTube, saw it in the “recommended,” and decided what the hell. Now it’s one of my favorite geology songs of all times.

Watch the video. Just don’t do so in a place where peals of laughter are frowned upon, i.e. at funerals, during wedding ceremonies, or if you work for a humorless corporation.

Dana’s Dojo: “It’s This Big and It’s Blue”

Today in the Dojo: Getting a handle on stories that don’t quite know what they are.


There was this cliché at the bookstore chain I worked for, eons ago when things like chain bookstores in malls still existed. Customers would come in all the time, collar one of the booksellers, and burble, “I need this book! I don’t remember the title, the author, or what it was about, but it’s this big and it’s blue!” About the only thing that changed in the parade of people coming in for the book whose subject, author and title weren’t recalled was the relative size indicated by their desperately waving hands. It happened so often that the manager of one of our stores, upon hearing this request for the billionth time, joked, “Oh, yes, I know that book. It’s right over there in our this-big-and-blue section.”

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