“Farewell to the arts,- to eloquence” – Mary Shelly, “The Last Man” (1826)
Weird things happen to language during a crisis.
We have no way to describe what’s happening, so we invent new phrases.
During the “outbreak” of the “novel coronavirus”, we comfortably added new phrases to our daily lexicon.
None are more popular than “social distancing” or “essential workers.”
“Essential workers” is an interesting phrase. Essential is the adjective form of “essence.” Ask a 14th century etymologist and they will tell you it means “that is such, by its essence.”
Essential is from the late Latin word essentialis, derived from essentia.
Essentia means “being, essence.”
To be an “essential” worker, you are the very essence of civilization.
Influencers – they used to be Instagram stars who went to hotels and restaurants with the hordes of Followers promising all businesses exponential growth and wealth.
But quarantine is changing that. Chefs, artists, musicians, dancers, and everyone else in the service economy suddenly have time on their hands. Lots and lots of time.
When George Lucas was pitching Star Wars and every major studio was rejecting it except for one, he probably couldn’t have imagined the three words together: “Baby Yoda memes.”
Although, given that the word “meme” orginated from the Ancient Greek word of mīmēma (“imitated thing”), maybe Yoda himself – a connisseur of broken English translations of ancient languages – would approve of Baby Yoda memes.
Baby Yoda memes have become a true viral sensation. Every social network is infected. Millions of hearts have melted upon sight of a speechless, big-eyed creature in a space western.
But why? And what does this mean for the future of streaming?
Beneath the sentiment, the true Force behind Baby Yoda and Baby Yoda memes, isn’t Star Wars or The Mandalorian.
It’s Mickey Mouse.
The aptly named “thispersondoesnotexist.com” generates faces randomly. The ostensible purpose of this deepfake face generator is a little unclear, but I’m assuming the developers wanted to show how real deepfake faces can look.
The result is… creepy. With a click of the mouse, you can generate faces of people who never lived.
“Deepfake” is a wonderfully ominous term combining “deep learning” and “fake.”
Deepfake face generators create an uncanny valley effect that is more emotional than visual.
The first season of Stranger Things took me by surprise. Literally. My friend introduced me to it and, seven hours later, I was still sitting on the couch. The second season of Strangers Things failed to captivate me in the same way.
But one episode was particularly egregious: the Stranger Things Chicago episode. It’s bad. Really bad.
But it’s bad for a reason: Netflix is starting to experiment with the data about how people watch TV, not just what they watch. The Chicago episode, the seasonal setting, and the disorienting tonal shifts of the season are prime examples of how new TV shows are being created.
My band, Job Creators, released out latest album, Systems Online, on June 27. We worked to polish six songs that we are really, really proud to share with everyone. If you’re curious, you can listen on Spotify or, if you’re old-fashioned like me, you can buy the music on iTunes by looking up “Job Creators.”
Given that we are an instrumental duo gravitating somewhere in the orbits of trance rock and jazz fusion, I thought I’d take the time to write what each song means and why we think the album’s concept is so integral to the wider culture.
The battle has been going on for years now: traditional publishing vs. self-publishing. For fantasy and sci-fi, romance and young adult, a million different options are available to those brave enough to try.
And whether you decide to traditionally publish or self-publish, getting your book discovered is a problem. Amazon has weird algorithms. Goodreads has merciless reviewers. Bookbub promotions can be effective, but hard to attain.
But good things can happen to good books. Alec Hutson is proof. Hutson, author of the fantasy novel The Crimson Queen (December 2016), decided to self-publish after a frustrating year of trying and waiting and trying some more to get agents to read the book.
In just five months, the book has 800+ ratings on GoodReads. He’s seen spikes of 100+ book sales overnight. And he’s out-earned any advance that agents could promise him.
When my friend gave me a copy of The Crimson Queen, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It’s hard to find a good fantasy book. Especially in the world of self-publishing. But it was a great book. Far better than the absolutely dreadful Queen of the Tearling, which can be found recommended in New Yorker blogs and National Bestseller lists alike. It’s rated higher, too.
So how did Hutson break though? What was his journey to becoming a self-published author? I recently had an email interview with him to find out.
My first novel, Blest, was published last year in March. It wasn’t traditionally published, but it wasn’t traditionally self-published, either. I worked with Alloy Entertainment to outline and write the book. It’s been an interesting process, because we’re also working with the Powered by Amazon team.
Powered by Amazon takes book marketing to a new level. As a marketer myself, it’s been really interesting to see how the team has promoted Blest. Especially since I’ve been studying how books are being marketed for a few years now.
At #FutureBook16, a conference based in London, authors, agents, publishers, and others converged to discuss the future of the book. Or, really, the future of publishing.
Spoiler: the industry doesn’t think it’s that bright. In his keynote, Tim Healy Hutchinson Hachette UK said that the book market is in “secular decline.”
The entire industry is shaking, reeling, seizing up. I’ve talked about the failure of the book industry to adapt to digital marketing strategies.
One statistic that I saw passing through the Twittersphere really leapt out at me:
In online searches, 60% of all book searches are deliberate.
Math rock is a funny term to define. It’s pretty much accepted that bands like Slint and Don Caballero started it. To me, it’s basically any band that favors rhythm over melody. Usually, they’re instrumental groups. A lot of the time, they’re duos, like Giraffes Giraffes, Hella, or Job Creators (ahem).
Very few math rock bands try to delve into the dangerous territory of vocals. Don Caballero attempted this a few times, mostly on Punkgasm. And as compelling as “I’m gonna turn you into a bottle of bleach / and pour you into the rug” may be as a chorus, most math rock bands let the instruments speak for themselves.
The notable exception to me would be Polvo, a band whose thin, cheese-grater sounds were streamlined and smoothed into the hook-heavy, delightful math rock jams of In Prism. The album is a masterful blend of vocals and math rock, especially “Beggar’s Bowl.”
But the wait for another bold and experimental and manic math rock vocal thing-a-ma-jig is over. It’s freaking Haybaby, baby, the hardest Brooklyn math rock you’ll hear today.