and other things that make you feel like you live in a sci-fi movie

Hi Peoples of Interwebbery….

I love this ridiculous photo. On the one hand, art can not be stopped. On the other hand, that poor brass player….wait, is he carrying a briefcase? Is that a laptop? a music stand? What is going ON in this crazy Sousaphoto?

For those of you new to my newsletter, this is MM De Voe - and this is my personal newsletter (in 21st Century parlance it is called a “Substack” referring to the site that hosts the newsletter) - it is free and it is only about me and things I find amusing, and also about my writing.

Setting up this newsletter is step one in my efforts to disentangle my personal writing from my professional life as the founder of Pen Parentis so that Pen Parentis can evolve and grow and become a magnificent sustainable nonprofit whether or not I am there. Ironically (see? this is ridiculous) in 2011, I pulled my large private email list into a newsletter for this new reading series I was co-hosting…and now I need to tease everyone apart again! So only stay signed up if you are okay with getting my personal news that is not about Pen Parentis. For a while it is likely to overlap, since my book is about Pen Parentis and I’m doing all sorts of publicity for this book, but in time I will be writing about my other writing. And just writing. So be aware that the things I discuss in this newsletter are not necessarily the opinions of Pen Parentis. They are my own.

Your unsubscription from this newsletter will in no way affect your Pen Parentis emails.

If you have no interest in a weekly newsletter called “this is ridiculous” (in which I muse about things I find ridiculous or funny including things that relate to me and my writing) just unsubscribe. Here is the link to unsubscribe.

I promise I will be happy that you are happy. Please feel free to also use that link in the event that your work and home email was duplicated, or if you prefer connecting some other way (I also post writerly stuff on Twitter, Linked In and Facebook).

Gaslighting writers. Still here? This is a video I spent 15 minutes on today - it is worth your time if you are a writer. It’s about how publishers force mid-list authors to do their own publicity, to everyone’s detriment. Here’s the video. It uses Friends to name the types of writers. Are you a Rachel or a Monica in your social media use as regards your book?

Salvation for Live Theater? I spent an hour on Friday watching an experimental theater production called Dream. Unfortunately the last live production was Saturday. I generally don’t include many photos in my posts, but I wanted you to see the quality of their work— when you first arrived you were in a virtual lobby with activities to do. It wasn’t thrilling but it wasn’t terrible. It was interesting to watch the numbers rise (there were 2,450 people viewing when I was viewing)…then came this screen with glorious mood music and hi-res video images that were…dare I say…dreamy?

Next up, we saw that the actors were suited up in VR suits and masked for social distancing. Within minutes, we entered the VR fairly land with a stone gollum main character, and it would have felt like watching a movie, but we had heard the actor’s voice just prior so there was an interesting adjustment to hearing them projected as if from an animation…(and yes they were a them, they wore a t-shirt with their pronouns)

And then it was just glorious. Animated avatars can do absolutely anything. The sound was spectacular and the visuals eye-popping. Physical actors can be humanly expressive (dance?) and the combination and knowing that the voicing and movement was all happening live, in real time, it combined the thrill of live action with the insane imaginative power of film and VR.

For those of you who know tech? 48 motion capture cameras flowing live and then rendered on a 7 meter LED wall and sent live to a stream. 6 actors in VR suits and some others who are there to support and guide and understudy. Filmmakers are as involved as the actors—camera people are framing the action live. Actors have the ability to interact with each other, the cameras, the real world & the VR world. (They used Unreal/Epic & the highest-tech graphics cards & gaming servers.)

In this production, we only saw the one scene of Puck finding the fairies from Midsummer, but I saw it as if for the first time. (Also: I finally now know what a Peaseblossom looks like).

What’s new with my writing:

Here is a sample of the sort of thing that I have been doing that is not Pen Parentis work, but overlaps so strongly that it is hard to separate - this is what you can expect from this newsletter.

  • This article was meant to inspire writers who have kids. I wrote it. Did it succeed? It is the right tone for today’s internet? I’m learning how to be more interwebby. Maybe you saw me post about it on random social media. How do you like my clickbait title? (The title is: “read this if you have kids”)

  • I made a hilarious (and sometimes awful, and sometimes brilliant) "Book Notes" playlist on Dave Gutowski's awesome blog, Largehearted Boy for Book & Baby - featuring fairly ridiculous theme songs for every stage of parenthood! It’s very 80s New Wave heavy, so if you hate that stuff, stay far away.

  • Viewing guide for me being interviewed by Stephanie Larkin on the Once and Future Authors Podcast about way too much stuff, plus writing. Yep, it’s video. If you’re curious about my personal life, watch the beginning. If you’re a writer who needs a boost, watch from about 10 minutes in. All writers with kids would enjoy the tricks and tips mentioned in the last few minutes (start around 35 minutes). Went live 3/16/21

  • Reposted from last week - me, interviewed by Katherine R Lewis, a founder of the Parenting Journalist conference via FacebookLive on 2/19/21 (this one is much calmer)

  • Here’s a last bit of ridiculousness: I sat in a virtual conference booth last month. For about an hour, no one came in (imagine waiting for people to join a Zoom and you will be in my mindset) - and I was scrolling around on Twitter to pass the time and mentioned (on Twitter) that I was alone. An editor who published me in Australia noticed the tweet and volunteered to join me - and we both came to the shocking realization that this would actually be not only possible, but also easy! So we set it up: I spent an hour talking to her in Brisbane face-to-face (on Zoom of course) and remembered my favorite bird in the whole world.

    Here it is. A Tawny Frogmouth for you. Now run along and have a fantastic day.