Katherine Vetrano – Writer

Katherine Vetrano is a Portland based writer. You check out her work at Daily Blender, Thrillist, and Serious Eats. These are her good things.

Good things to read.

Remember Me Like This (out May 13th, but I won an early copy on Goodreads!)

Bret Anthony Johnston’s first novel has all of the aspects that make his short stories memorable: gorgeous lyrical description, and deep, inspiring characters, with a dash of thrill, much like Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl: you want to keep reading because you must know what happens. I can’t put this book down.

Grubstreet Diet column. This is a guilty pleasure of mine. Every Friday, Grubstreet (a site similar to Eater.com) posts a food diary from someone famous (almost always in NY). They’ve had comedians, musicians, fashion people, athletes, and actors. It’s fascinating to see people’s eating habits, what restaurants/delivery services they’re using, and more. I like to pull this up Friday morning and read it while I drink my tea.

LA-Screenwriter.com. I’ve seen a lot of writing craft books in my day, but I feel like this site has tangible, useful writing advice that is harder to find elsewhere. The site’s owner, Angela Guess offers a comprehensive guide to script writing (TV and film!) and everything that comes along with it, including real world advice like how to sell your script, several scripts from current films/shows, and inspiring quotes. Her newsletter gives me regular inspiration for my writing, scripts or otherwise.

Good things to watch.

Bridgetown Comedy Festival. This is a Portland only festival (sorry out of towners! But this is a good excuse to visit) that’s one of the pioneers of US comedy festivals. Amazing comics from all over (and some of our best locals) perform at a handful of venues all around town. Unlike other festivals, it’s very affordable, and has a really relaxed, community vibe to it. I’ve heard it called “summer camp for comedians” more than once.

This season’s’ SNL. I know. I know, you’re thinking, ” SNL from ____ year was so much better! It’s different now!” But when was the last time you watched this season? Kate Mckinnon and Aidy Bryant especially are out of this world funny. Be open minded!

Inside Amy Schumer. Can you tell I like comedy? This show is Amy Schumer’s sketch show that is unapologetic, inappropriate and wonderful. I’ve heard it’s On Demand right now so you can go catch up on both seasons.

Good things to use.

Can you use a podcast? Does that count? I use them to improve my commute…so here’s two I like:

Selected Shorts. This podcast, recorded in NYC at Symphony Space, is famous actors from television and film reading short fiction: both classic and current. I can’t think of a better way to get you inspired early in the morning than this.

Dinner Party Download. This is one of my favorites because I’m fascinated by its form. In a short amount of time (I think a little less than an hour?), they have brief segments that cover quirky history, food, music, a non-predictible interview with a famous guest, and a hilarious etiquette section.

I use this to-go cup to haul around my favorite green smoothie: protein powder, spinach, parsley, mango, lemon, raw rolled oats and Matcha powder.

Connect with Katherine on Twitter, @Kat707.

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Kal Barteski – Artist

Kal Barteski is an artist and brush script painter. Sometimes called an illustrator and a poet, she’s a creative rogue. She cares deeply about intellectual property online. She is a TEDx speaker, a published author + winner of a Women Entrepreneur of the Year Award.  These are her good things.

Good things to read.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This is a visual feast. It’s overflowing with unshakable imagery that is beautiful and unforgettable. I love all things black and white – but this book is a bit of a bench mark for me, one of my all-time favourites.

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. There’s never a bad time to read or reread this book. I feel enough shame and vulnerability to completely avoid books about shame and vulnerability, but Brené breaks things down into freeing reprieve for the heart. She has a way of shedding light – that is pretty much just magic. I reread this book every couple of months because it reminds me over and over again about the importance to living authentically and gently.

ONE and ZERO. These two illustrated childrens books by Kathryn Otashi are two of my favourite books. I love them for their simple, beautiful illustration jumbled up with poetic, profound stories. Every PARENT needs them for reading to every child. From bullying to loving yourself – these are messages that people of all ages need to hear.

Good things to watch.

It goes without saying that Blackfish was the most powerful documentary of the year.

The Whale. Narrated by Ryan Reynolds, this is a documentary about an orca who becomes separated from his pod and befriends a Canadian coastal town. It’s a beautiful look at rules and governments and how living creatures and heartfelt emotions override all of those kinds of things. It’s a powerful case for the connection and importance of nature.

Chasing Ice. Without a doubt some of the most fascinating footage of glacial ice and the changes happening in the Arctic. Striking footage, gorgeous landscapes, amazing foresight – this is a documentary that ends by planting a small seed of panic in your chest.

Crash Reel.  Clearly I like documentaries. I also really love winter. This doc is about Shaun White and Kevin Pearce and it’s cuts right to the heart of anyone who has ever been fueled by passion. Bring tissue.

Good things to use.

Shapeways. This is 3D printing on demand. You upload your files, pick your medium and in a few days you get a three dimensional print. It’s mind boggling and super exciting. Even if you’re not skilled at 3D file making (like me) you can take extrude line drawings for a very cool effect.

Square. Taking credit card payments on your iPhone? Yes, please. It’s got better rates than PayPal, it’s fast, seamless and business life-changing for an artist like me. Plus, it makes me feel like a Jetson when I plug a little gadget into the top of my phone and swipe a credit card. So cool.

Baking Soda. It’s not high tech, but there’s nothing this substance can’t improve. Throw it in your washing machine for whiter clothes. Throw it in your dishwasher. Use it to clean counters and carpets and everything in between. Use it instead of toothpaste.

Connect with Kal on Twitter, @KalBarteski, Instagram, and Facebook.

Deron Bos – Organizer

Deron Bos is a professional organizer, Apple tutor, and owner at Bos Organization in beautiful Culver City, California. He is also a produced and published playwright. These are his good things.

Good things to read.

Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley and Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley. In graduate school I announced to a room full of creative writing students that these were among my favorite books and was met by a chorus of laughter. But these are amazing: my all time favorite fantasy is time travel and these books create a full sense of that: at the end of reading them, you’ll feel like you lived the day to day life of the King in 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. Guralnick’s writing is atmospheric, incredibly detailed, intimate, and immersive storytelling. If every biography was written like these, I would read no other genres.

The Apostate and Lives of the Saints. Two of my favorite Instapaper reading experiences were these two articles by Lawrence Wright about two religions created in America. “Great, sprawling New Yorker shit” as Charlie Kaufman (the character) says in Adaptation.

Apartment Therapy: The Eight Step Home Cure. Most internet traveled folks have visited the AT blog at some point, but the book is less known and that’s a shame, because it’s one of my favorite references about residential organization. His approach of decluttering and simplifying your space as a means to make it a home and a place to enjoy with family and friends is a big inspiration for my life and my work with my clients. Great combination of philosophical with clear practical steps to reclaiming your space.

Good things to watch.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. I’m not an alien, Raiders of the Lost Ark is my favorite Indy movie like the rest of humankind, but I’ve always liked this prequel much more than a lot of other people. Great set pieces like the raft out of the plane and the mine car chase, some vintage Harrison Ford humor, and the fact that it’s my four year old’s current favorite movie keeps it on my mind. (Parental advisors don’t fret: he skips the ripping from the heart scene.)

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee: “ Alec Baldwin Just a Lazy Shiftless Bastard” I haven’t watched all of these, but this one I can’t get enough of, I’ve watched it over and over and each time I laugh my ass off and marvel at just how funny Baldwin can be. Favorite moment: the Burt Lancaster story: “I suppose you’re looking for this.”

I’m A Failed Writer and other videos by Yuvi Zalkow These were introduced to me by one of my favorite podcasts The Mac Power Users Very funny, insightful and helpful videos about getting out of your own way to get some writing done plus the tyranny of a New Yorker subscription.

Good things to use.

Scotch Tear by Hand Packing Tape. recommended by one of my organizing mentors and friends, the incomparable Fay Wolf, this stuff amazes everyone. I always make a mess of tape guns – but there’s no need for one now that God gave man the gift of this.

Rip’s Big Bowl I’ve been eating a plant based diet for a little less than a year now and this has become one of my favorite breakfast recipes.

iOS apps that have Mac companion apps and sync through Dropbox: including but not limited to 1PasswordText ExpanderDay One, and Fantastical.

Connect with Deron on Twitter, @DeronBos.

Diego Ramos – Artist

Diego Ramos was originally schooled in illustration at the California College of the Arts, and has always enjoyed writing fantasy and science-fiction stories. Rebel Hearts, the first part in his upcoming trilogy, is a sweeping New Age fantasy/steampunk adventure about a thief, an ancient soldier, and a rebellion to topple an empire. He has a blog at WritingFiction.co and these are his good things.

Good things to read.

Einstein Intersection by Samuel R. Delany.  The book is a fantastic sci-fi. It’s set in a future earth where humans are no more, and other beings have taken over. As the beings evolved, they’ve adopted humanity’s legends and myths, reliving them. The way its written can be a little confusing at first, but once you dive into it, its a work of art. It was one of the most breathtaking experiences I’ve had reading. The way Delany wields words is masterful. It was like seeing a master paint before my eyes. This is one of his earlier works, and more controversial ones. You either really love it, or really hate it. But I love mind-bending, lush, abstract narrative experiences, so this book was perfect. When I dream about how I’d like to write someday, I think about Einstein Intersection.

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson.  What can I say about Sanderson that hasn’t been said before? The man is a writing machine, and his book Steelheart is a blast! I loved the concept of “Epics” (super-powered people) taking over cities and enslaving humanity. The story is about a young man who is on a mission to kill the strongest Epic, Steelheart. It’s such a cool twist on the superhero genre. The writing is fast-paced, action -packed, and smooth. Your eyes just roll from one sentence to another. You just can’t put the dang book down!

Any comic by Alan Moore. The Swamp Thing, Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Batman: The Killing Joke. These are some of my favorites of his. Moore’s graphic novels are graphic novels in the purest sense of the word; they are novels, that happen to have pictures assisting. His stories are raw, dark, heart-wrenching, awe-inspiring, I could go on. The perfect blend of words and illustrations are never better represented than in an Allan Moore graphic novel. Many writers may dismiss comics as unrefined compared to novels, but I would challenge people to give them a shot. Moore’s creations are masterpieces, and can teach a writer a thing or two about telling an amazing story.

Good things to watch.

Dark City. One of the first movies that I could point to and say “In my top ten!” Dark City was made in 1998 but still holds up really well. Its a dark, sci-fi noir. The visuals are great, but its the story and psychological twists and turns that Murdock (the mc) goes though in the strange, hallucinatory Dark City that I love. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and check it out. You won’t be disappointing.

Beasts of the Southern Wild. This film is just all beauty and atmosphere. If the music of a child’s imagine could be seen, it would this movie. Set in a southern delta community, Wink, a little girl lives with her father. Her journey is filled with wonder, exploration, pain, and fantastical beasts. It’s hard to describe why I like this film. There is no definite plot, but sharing the experiences Wink has in the film, takes me into this other realm — something akin to being a child and seeing everything in wide-eyed wonder. Also, I love anything in the bayou. I love the geographical beauty of swamps and deltas (one of the reasons why I set my novel in one.)

Battlestar Galactica. I can safely say that Battlestar is one of the greatest sci-fi shows ever made. The story is epic and personal, the visuals are stunning, the characters real, and the music is to die for. The show is about humanity being attacked by Cylons (AI robots) and pushing the last fraction of survivors onto the Battlestar Galactica, a giant spaceship, to find a new home.

Good things to use.

F.Lux.  I’ve installed this great little program on my desktop and laptop. It takes the blue out of your screen steadily as the day passes, adjusting your device’s color to that of natural light. The blue in screens has been shown to create eye strain and activate the body’s impulse to stay away (the color mimics daylight). So F.Lux gradually fades that blue through the day, tinting the screen naturally, providing a relaxing viewing, and helping to regulate your sleeping patterns better! I love it. It helps me sleep and gives my eyes a break.

Springpad. This is the app I use to jot down all my ideas and notes. You can create different notebooks, write notes, catch webpages, images, articles, videos and more. Its simple and intuitive. I like it better than evernote, which confused me the second I started the app.

Chillingvibes.com.  This site has it going on! The site basically a giant music player, no installation is needed. It plays a random set of songs continuously, in browser! The songs are chill electronic/orchestral/vocal stuff. I love being surprised with each new song. The music gets me in the mood for writing, and is great ambient background music.

Connect with Diego on Twitter, @WritingFictionC.

Shanna Germain – Author

Shanna Germain is an author of poems, short stories, essays, and books, recipient of a few awards, and lover of words and games. These are her good things.

Good things to read.

Galveston.  If you liked True Detective, or even if you’ve never seen True Detective, but like gritty, southern-semi-noir novels with a strong voice, I’d suggest Galveston by Nic Pizzolatto. The language, the landscape, and the human truths of the novel break your heart and then put it back together before you can even take a single, hitched breath.

All the Windwracked Stars: The first of a trilogy by Elizabeth Bear, this book just blew me away with its wonderful language, its unique mixing and retelling of myriad mythologies, and its wonderful anti-hero, Muire. Science-fantasy with a post-apocalyptic, mythological bend? Yes, please.

Fallen Angel. I read a lot of comics, and this series continues to be one of my favorites. Created by writer Peter David and artist David López, it is a beautifully dark, sensual, powerful tale of a screwed up woman, a corrupt town, and a plethora of characters that you either want to make out with or junk punch (or sometimes both).

Good things to watch.

Upstream Color.  If you liked director Shane Carruth’s movie Primer (or if you like weird, narratively abstract, beautiful science-themed movies at all), I highly recommend Carruth’s second movie Upstream Color. I was physically shaking when I left the theater, that’s how strongly it affected me. I am afraid to rewatch it, in fact, although it’s been on my queue for a good long while.

True Detective.  I’ll admit, I thought long and hard about whether to put two items by the same writer on this list, but I had to do it. I think True Detective is some of the best TV we’ve seen in a long time (and I say that as someone who’s well aware that we’re in a feast-phase of great TV, with shows like Walking Dead, House of Cards, and Sherlock at our fingertips).

TED Talks. I don’t care which ones you choose — this fantastic one by Cameron Russell on how looks aren’t everything or this harrowing and heartbreaking one by Philip Zimbardo on the psychology of evil (NOTE: super graphic and awful images are in this TED Talk. Please be careful before you click, but find something that interests you and grows your mind.

Good things to use.

A Treadmill Desk.  As a writer, I sit too much. That is a serious truth of my life. So I have my computer set up on a regular old treadmill with a bar across the handlebars to hold my keyboard and mouse. I crank up the incline and go pretty slow, but I can do a couple of hours a day if I’m lucky. Sometimes I work while I’m on it — answering emails or editing. Other times, I game on it. It keeps me moving during the day, and keeps away whatever sedentary disease is creeping up on me and my writing-based lifestyle.

Don’t Starve. One of my favorite all-time past-times is gaming, and this adorable action-adventure game has everything that I appreciate in a game. Great characters, smart game play, interesting ideas, and just great fun. You can pick it up and play for a little bit, or you can waste long hours on the treadmill desk trying not to get eaten by giant spiders, frozen by winter, or starved by your own inability to cook something in a crockpot.

Your Body and Your Mind.  I know, it’s two things. But they’re so closely connected that I feel like they can be listed as a single entity. Work your body, work your mind. In whatever way is good for you. You only get it for so long. I try to remind myself never to waste these incredibly valuable resources that I have at my constant disposal.

Connect with Shanna on Twitter, @ShannaGermain.

Christine – Better Novel Project

Christine is the blogger behind BetterNovelProject.com, where she’s breaks down the key parts of three popular works of fiction and shares her findings. These are her good things.

Good things to read.

Matilda by Roald Dahl. As I work on my YA novel, I’ve been rereading my favorites from when I was little. It’s great to experience the wonder again, and at the same time, take the story off of the pedestal. You don’t realize as a kid how much you are filling in with your imagination. It’s a nice surprise to go back and see it’s just one word after another, not actual magic.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. This is might be the best book for writers that is not about writing. Any creative pursuit is a real mental game, and this book gets you in the zone.

I signed up for Jeff Goins’s newsletters and read them as soon as they arrive in my inbox. I’ve learned a lot about honest marketing and connection this way. It’s geared toward writers and bloggers, but it’s mostly about self-promotion in a manner that adds value into the world instead of sleaze.

Good things to watch.

Hugo. Martin Scorsese’s film version of the Brian Selznick’s book, The Invention of Hugo Cabrey. This movie makes me want to clutch my hands to my heart and sigh. More than anything, it makes me want to be a better writer. The “everyday magic” is just lovely as a movie, especially when woven in with bits of real life film history.

Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth with Bill Moyers. I will read or watch anything concerning the hero’s journey. This DVD is especially worth it to see the bonus interview with George Lucas, who explains how myths inspired Star Wars.

Alice in Wonderland, The Disney Version. This will always be my favorite, and one of the only movies I can tolerate to put on “in the background” while I do other things I find it very soothing even on mute.

Good things to use.

Time Timer. This is my productivity must, because it doesn’t involve my phone, and unlike apps or my computer clock, I can put my my writing program into fullscreen and be distraction-free. As a bonus, it doesn’t make the annoying tick-tock like a normal kitchen timer.

Kikkerland Kraft Notes. I recently changed over to these notebooks, and I am hooked. The paper is really thin like onion skin, but somehow even inky pens don’t bleed through it. I love the natural brown color, and I feel less intimidated by the price that I am willing to write down all my ideas, instead of waiting for the good ones that are “worth it.”

Moleskine book light. Don’t go to sleep without an open notebook at your side! You might be more willing to force yourself out of that in between state and get your ideas down with this cute bendable book light.

Connect with Christine on Twitter, @BetterNovelProj.

Linda Poitevin – Author

Linda Poitevin is the author of the dark urban fantasy series, The Grigori Legacy, from Ace/Roc Books. Linda lives near Ottawa, Canada’s capital, and in her other life is wife, mother, friend, gardener, coffee snob, freelance writer, and zookeeper of too many pets. When she isn’t writing, Linda can usually be found in her garden or walking her dog along the river or through the woods. These are her good things.

Good things to read.

Anything by Bill Bryson. You’ll learn something, you’ll laugh, you’ll come away feeling smarter.

Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. It will change the way you look at food, change the way you relate to food, change everything you’ve ever thought about food.

A book by an author new to you, and maybe even one outside your usual genre. You never know where the good stories are hiding until you go looking for them.

Good things to watch.

Water. Rivers flowing by, the sparkle of sunlight on lake waters, the roll of an ocean surf. There is something incredibly calming about water. It centers me, lulls me, grounds me.

Puppies. Kittens. Babies. Just because there is such joy to be found in watching such joy.

Firefly. I still consider this to be some of the smartest writing I’ve ever come across on television. And yes, I still hold out hope for its return.

Good things to use.

Local foods. Support a farmer, know where your food is coming from, cut down on transportation and help the environment, eat real food.

Feet. I think walking is one of the very best modes of transportation. It slows the world down for you so that you see things you’ve never noticed. It gives you time to think. It keeps you active. And it still gets you where you’re going.

Contigo spill-proof travel mug. no more coffee-meets-keyboard disasters! Plus it keeps my coffee hot for a good hour or more, for those times when I get so into my writing that I forgot to drink the coffee. Don’t laugh. It happens. No, really.

Connect with Linda on Twitter, @LindaPoitevin.

Maura Henn – Internet Enthusiast

Maura has been a lot of things in a small amount of time. A wedding and event photographer. A self portrait artist. A farmer’s market manager and free lance writer. She’s learned a little bit about butchering, a lot about baking and a fair amount concerning the making of candlesticks. You can read her sporadic writings at Equal Parts: Magic and Mischief. These are her good things.

Good things to read.

Your friend’s books shelves. If you are lucky maybe they will lend you an interesting title. Friends can be the best librarians.

The acknowledgements inside album covers and novels. These tributes give insight into inspiration, and you may be surprised at what you find.

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. A book about what it is to be stranger in a family of strange people.

Good things to watch.

Women’s Roller Derby! Do you know if you have a local roller derby league in your town? If you do, you should go watch a game (or a bout as us Derby enthusiasts call them). If you don’t have a league, maybe you should start one! Either way, Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby has a little bit of everything: athleticism, entertainment, and grassroots appeal any community can support. As a former Roller Derby Player, I can attest to the determination and commitment it takes to be part of a league, requiring cooperation and volunteer work, not just from the players, but their family and friends too. If you are not interested in playing or volunteering, the best way you can support your team is paying for a ticket and cheering for the people who make the games happen( not just the players, but the referees, and officials too!). Most teams are non-profit and give a part of their game’s proceeds to charities, and if none of that matters to you, just know derby is a fast paced, full contact sport. Expect for there to be loud cheering sections in the crowd!

Buffy, the Vampire Slayer the series. I came late to the Buffy-Verse, as this show aired while I was in high school, I didn’t pay it any attention. Several years later, on the behest of my my boyfriend, I started watching while I was in college. When I finally began to watch with interest, I realized all my pre-conceived ideas about who Buffy was were all wrong. She was an odd girl with with strange friends. This was something to which I could relate. When you take away the vampires and demons and the super-human strength, Buffy Summers is just a young person trying to figure out who she is and what she is supposed to do with her life. As I was often referred to as that “weird girl” in much of my youth (and probably even now) how could I not relate?

Internet Cat Videos.  I declare my love for these here, unapologetically. It is likely that if you own a cat and you share a video of your feline friend on my twitter or facebook feed, I will watch it. Cat videos make me smile, they are my comedy relief. Cat videos got me through more than one final’s week in college. And I know I am not the only one. In 2012 The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, MN held their first Internet Cat Video Film Festival. The festival is now touring and will return to Minneapolis in August 2014.

Good things to use.

Your Local Food Co-op. They often start as buying clubs and with the right ingredients become grocery stores that support local farmers and families, offering local and organic food, community meeting space and educational opportunities. Co-op’s are member owned which means as a member you have a voice in how the co-op evolves over time, but in every co-op I have ever been in you do not need to be a member to shop. Food Co-op’s are just good.

Equal Exchange Fair Trade Coffee and Chocolate. Equal Exchange takes the cooperative model and uses it to provide fairly priced coffee and chocolate to consumers while returning a fair wage to the farmers who grew the coffee and cacao beans. Their coffee is delicious and their chocolate is often wrapped with a photograph and bio of one of the farmers.

The Public Library. Whatever your preferred form of entertainment (reading, movie watching, listening to music, community involvement) the library has something to share with you. I moved to a new city a couple of years ago, and the library has helped me feel more at home. My current public library has a huge Fantasy and Science Fiction section (yes, a whole section, it isn’t all mixed in with the other fiction!). I have met with knitting groups, gone to book signings, and even attended roller derby meetings at libraries; they are a huge resource in so many ways. Owning a book collection is great. Supporting authors by purchasing their books is also important, but when you can, use your library so they are continue to be here for people who might not have the ability to pay for the words you read, or maybe even the words you write.

Connect with Maura on Twitter, @TigerinVaseline.

Michael Cummings – Writer (of many things)

By day, Michael Cummings manages IT Operations for monkey-powered geek e-retailer ThinkGeek.com. By night, his other hats include father of three, failed novelist, and sometimes book reviewer. These are his good things.

Good things to read.

Science In Your Own Backyard by Elizabeth K. Cooper. Incredibly dated now, but when I was kid I lived in a world that was filled with dated books, so I took what I could get. This book wasa constant companion in fourth and fifth grade. I don’t think I ever did any of the actual experiments in the book – mine were always based on but widely different, probably on account of reading it 25 or more years after it was published. But I think everyone should have a book like this, a book that serves to fuel our curiosity and imagination. Science books from the 50′s were always so optimistic that with just a little bit of  time and tinkering, you could build anything in your backyard.

The Martian by Andy Weir. A very recent read, and a book that’s getting some geek touting because of the science, which isn’t bad, but for me it was more because it was just a lot of fun. When we finally concede to growing up and becoming professionals, we spend a lot of time reading things we don’t want to. The Martian? Pure fun, and easy to overlook its faults for the sheer excitement. MacGyver on Mars, which sounds like Robinson Crusoe on Mars, but there were no space monkeys to be seen.

Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury. It’s no secret I spend my free time stringing words together in the hopes that some day they  will make enough sense to share with other folks. Bradbury’s anecdotal guide to writing isn’t a technical manual on the craft, but a great way to feel inspired about the act of writing. Highly recommended for anyone who understands the mechanics well enough but needs that extra shove out the door.

Good things to watch.

Connections [1,2,3]. I watched this on tv back in the 90′s, mind blown. Each episode James Burke would take a piece of modern life and show you the twisted, warped road of connections that linked that thing to something crazily obscure. The synchronicity in life can be strange and fantastic and its fun to be reminded of that.

Q.I. My wife and I have quickly become addicted to this show. Plus, we are accidentally learning strange and trivial things. Most of its knowledge that would only be good for a pub quiz, and sometimes the show veers far, far off topic, but its tends to be, well, Quite

The Princess Bride. Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…what’s not to love?!? One thing about this movie still bothers me, though. Princess Buttercup isn’t eaten by the giant eels “at this time.” Those three words have haunted me my entire life, because the implications are right there. Not now, not tomorrow, but someday, she’s going to be out on those waters and bam, that’s it for Buttercup. Gripping.

Good things to use.

Lastpass, because as I’m fond of pointing out, I’m a browser whore. Today I’m using chrome, but then I’ll randomly decide I want to exploit the integration of safari for a while, or need to use a clean browser and pull up vanilla Firefox. Lastpass lets me do that by keeping all of my account info in one place and letting me be browser agnostic, making it trivial to switch without having to drag baggage with me.

The iPad. I know my iPad2 isn’t quite up to the retina standard of the newer models, but that’s fine by me. This one device lets me read anything in my digital libraries (kindle and ibooks), casually browse the web, do some light writing or editing, and still has the capacity for entertainment. We dreamed of having something this portable computing powerhouse when we were kids, and now I have one in my house. I am living la vita futura,

A library card. I don’t use mine nearly as much as I should, partly because I’ve been spoiled with the immediate gratification of ebooks, but too many people forget the power of a library card. I’ve always been fortunate enough to live in places where cards were free for residents, but even if I had to pay out of pocket, I would. A library card is that magical key that unlocks an entire universe or resources.

Connect with Michael on Twitter, @KoderMike.

Johnny Michael – Love Life People

Johnny Michael is part of the team behind LoveLifePeople and the man holding the red balloons.  These are his good things.

Good things to read.

Your emails before you send them.

Things twice if they make you feel good.

This out loud dramatically, “Together, we can make people!”

Good things to watch.

A good dose of Late Night shows. Comedy before bed is good medicine.

The sky. Especially when it’s blue.

People. Watch them walk down the sidewalk – watch them do what they do. I myself, have a particular and pleasant fascination of observing pretty women. They’re the finest things on earth.

Good things to use.

The stove. To hell with that demon machine known as the microwave. Make real food. Use fresh stuff. Heat the left lovers in the oven or on the stovetop. Grill something. Better food is worth the wait.

The Beatles Albums. And not on shuffle or a mixed compilation of their hits. Listen to their core albums from start to finish. Please Please Me all the way to Let It Be. I never really understood why they were so great until I did this. I suggest doing this multiple times – until you can hear the next song in your head when the current song comes to an end. Realizing they created all this in seven years is really something to wrap your head around.

Shoelaces. A couple years back I noticed that the process of slipping on my already tied shoes was ridiculous behavior. Running in the door still standing, trying to balance on one foot while ripping of a shoe was also something that needed to stop. Ever since then I got in the habit of tying my shoes everyday. I sit down, put the shoes on my feet and lace ‘em up. I enjoy it now. It gets me ready for the day. When I get back home I sit down and untie them. It’s a wonderful little routine.

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