Category Archives: Incidentals

Joan Didion

Listening to the Dream

“[Writing is] hostile in that you’re trying to make somebody see something the way you see it, trying to impose your idea, your picture. It’s hostile to try to wrench around someone else’s mind that way. Quite often you want to tell somebody your dream, your nightmare. Well, nobody wants to hear about someone else’s dream, good or bad; nobody wants to walk around with it. The writer is always tricking the reader into listening to the dream.”

Joan Didion

This is taken from a 1978 interview for The Paris Review. The whole conversation is worth reading, but this quote really jumped out at me.

Cthulhu Mythos 101

Cthulhu Mythos 101

If you’re looking for a decent primer on H.P. Lovecraft’s work and the Cthulhu mythos in general, this video from TedEd and author Silvia Moreno-García is a solid start. It’s surface level—but an easy entry into the world of cosmic horror and not a bad way to spend five minutes.

If you enjoyed that and now want a deeper dive into the man and the mythos—tragedy and all. I highly recommend checking out Frank H. Woodward’s 2008 documentary Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown. It’s fantastic and quite a bit longer. Plus it features a ton of interviews from a variety of authors and artists working in the subgenre.

I’d personally love to see a fresh take on the documentary going into 2020. While Fear isn’t that old—just over ten years—so many more amazing and talented creators have spent time in cosmic horror and added so much over the last decade. Today, the genre as a whole is stronger than it’s ever been and I think their take on the lore and legends would be most welcome.

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Watch Roxanna Walitzki's Stunning "In der Fremde"

Watch Roxanna Walitzki’s Stunning “In der Fremde”

My friend and mezzo-soprano vocalist Roxanna Walitzki is currently touring Europe with her sibling Redd (who I’ve featured in the past.) While they journey, Roxanna has begun to record classic acoustic performances in urban ruins wearing ethereal fashions created from found materials sourced on site. The results are as evocative as they are beautiful. You can see her acoustic performance of Robert Schumann’s In der Fremde (In a Foreign Land) below recorded in an abandoned paint factory in Pula, Croatia.

This is a small part of a broader ongoing collaboration between the siblings that pushes us to confront what we consider trash and disposable with the intent of encouraging us to reevaluate our own impact on the natural world. You can find out more about the project here and read the statement behind this video here. It’s a unique and thoroughly fresh approach to raising environmental awareness. I’ve enjoyed watching it come together and it’s made me pause and think about my own impact.

As an artist, Roxanna is quite prolific, and you can watch more videos and listen to more of her previous work on her official site. I recommend buying some of her music from her Bandcamp as well. She’s also a fantastic photographer so follow her on Instagram.

Support this work

Want to journey with the Walitzki siblings across Europe? Redd has set up a Patreon where they share insights, artwork, and experiences from their adventures. It’s very much worth checking out (and the perfect use of the platform.) You can find out much more over on Patreon.


Raunch Review: Red Dwarf

Raunch Review: Red Dwarf

Raunch Reviews is a series about profanity. Not real profanity, but speculative swearing. Authors often try to incorporate original, innovative forms of profanity into our own fantastical works as a way to expand the worlds we build. Sometimes we’re successful. Often we’re not. In this series, I examine the faux-profanity from various works of sci-fi and fantasy, judge their effectiveness, and rate them on an unscientific and purely subjective scale. This is Raunch Reviews, welcome.

Raunch Review: Red Dwarf
Raunch Review: Red Dwarf
The Author: Rob Grant & Doug Naylor
Work in Question: Red Dwarf
The Profanity: “Smeg”

In the annals of science fiction and fantasy, it’s hard to think of a faux-profanity more beloved than “smeg.” There isn’t any other fanbase I can think of that has adopted a series-specific faux-profanity as a moniker. But the “smegheads” who adore the BBC science fiction comedy Red Dwarf use the term unabashedly.

Controversy surrounds “smeg,” with some questioning its faux-status, and it is difficult to pin down answers. Some of the cast (Robert Llewellyn) claims it’s rooted in the real world whereas others say the opposite (creators Rob Grant and Doug Naylor). In fact, on the interview CD from the Six of the Best box set, the creators are quoted as saying, “we wanted to invent a futuristic curse word which had the right sort of consonant and vowel arrangement to make it sound like a genuine… curse word.”

Whether you believe it to be real or fake, it’s easy to appreciate its simplicity and it works in plenty of uses throughout the show’s run. I wish there were some hints to its meaning within the writing or at least nod toward its orthographic or semantic drift. As a vulgarity, it captures the right tone, and it doesn’t feel like a skip around censors (looking at you, Battlestar). So, “smeg” on smegheads.

Score: Half Swear (3.5)

Previous Raunch Reviews

Have a suggestion for Raunch Reviews? It can be any made up slang word from a book, television show, or movie. You can email me directly with your recommendation or leave a comment below. I’ll need to spend time with the property before I’ll feel confident reviewing it, so give me a little time. I have a lot of books to read.


J. R. R. Tolkien

Started with a Map

“I wisely started with a map, and made the story fit.”

J. R. R. Tolkien

And what a map it was…

See the Sketches J.R.R. Tolkien Used to Build Middle-earth

The map above is one of Tolkien’s original sketches and is a part of the Bodleian Libraries collection at the University of Oxford. Tolkien was a prolific sketcher, and many more of his drawings can be seen in Ethan Gilsdorf’s 2015 Wired article aptly named: See the Sketches J.R.R. Tolkien Used to Build Middle-earth. It’s worth checking out.