My essay in the reputable “Brain, Child” magazine.
Just as the popularity of Twilight series made vampires popular and produced some quality genre examples (True blood), The Walking Dead generated a resurgence of zombies – at least, on TV. I don’t like zombies bashing or any violence, but some of the recent theme variations a worth a try.
Recommended to me by Netflix:
iZombie: 2 seasons, 3d pending
Splatter strength: 5/10
If Z nation faithfully follows genre canon or cliche, iZombie subverts it. A flare-up of zombie – a result of another evil corporation’s action. The quirkiness of the series reflected in that the villain is not a not pharmaceutical but energy drink company. The flare-up doesn’t lead to an all out zombie apocalypse.
Another one of the Canadian/Netflix on demand series, Between season 2 became available in June. A virus kills all inhabitants aged over 21 in a US town called Pretty Lake. The town is quarantined and the children and young adults are left to fend for themselves, leading to a YA “Lord of the Flies”. Of course, there’s a government conspiracy, which creates an unlikely situation of supply airdrops absence. But despite a few plot holes, The characters are compelling, the plot moves along nicely.
Unfortunately, unlike in my favorite human cloning series, Orphan Black, the science of Between is completely bogus. A scientist who sneaked into Pretty Lake with an experimental vaccine looks at something round and red swirling on the screen (red blood cells?) and the vaccine represented by a yellow shimmering circle around them. He says that the virus sits inside cells and eats them from inside out, which is represented by churning and undulating cells as if an alien is trying to get out. The cells resist the virus until the 21st birthday date when boom! cells collapse and the person dies.
21 is the age of adulthood in the US when you suddenly allowed to drink, while you could marry, drive a car and join the Army before that magical date. From the biology point of view, 21th birthday is a completely arbitrary date. A virus wouldn’t know when precisely you were born – it’s virus, not a notary. In the absence of a document, it’s difficult to even estimate a persosn’s age – people who don’t have their birth certificate pass as underage for years and a convincing fake ID would age you.
Yes, there are viruses, which cause diseases in (mostly) children, for example, notorious mumps, measles, and rubella viruses. This apparent age specificity is caused by children’s underdeveloped immune systems as it’s still possible to get infected as an adult if you miss the childhood infection or not vaccinated. Assuming, that it’s possible to create a virus, which targets adults, it should hit anybody who reached an age of puberty, which can vary between 10 and 20 depending on the environmental conditions.
It’s the general condition of your body that would matter to a virus, not your birthdate. We all heard about a sprightly 90 yeas old, who run marathons and know 30 y.o. who look and have the health conditions of people of twice their age.
In The Stylist beauty issue, there is a feature article about nutricosmetics, defined as “beauty products you ingest rather than apply”. The rationale – skin/hair/nail are growing things, which you can supplement from outside (the usual “beauty products” – lotions and creams) or from an inside – in a pill form. Sort of spray on the leaves fertiliser vs. fertiliser in the soil for your plants.
Sounds good if you don’t pay attention to the caveats mentioned in the article:
A) As the skin is outside of the body, whatever product you are eating, you need to saturate the body from within to get to the skin.
B) The air conditioner argument. Your body is like an air conditioner – when it overshoots the set temperature, it compensates by cooling, sometimes overshooting in the other direction but eventually returning to the balance. So if you try to increase the concentration of say, vitamin A by eating a lot of it in one go, after a short spike the excess is removed via urine, and there is an actual drop in its concentration. And if it accumulates, you skin turns orange and it becomes toxic.
Let’s have a look at the products mentioned in the article about nutricosmetics:
Lumity – £90 ($135) per month for a cocktail of lysine, arginine, and glutamine. These are aminoacids, building blocks of protein. I don’t have a problem with this, except that you should be getting enough aminoacids from you food. And if you want to top up just in case, you can buy aminoacids in any health shop for 1/10 of the Lumity price. Continue reading
As expected, I’m unable to republish my review about Carol Tice and Linda Formichelli’s Pitch Clinic in the established blogs about writing. The market of “help for bloggers” can sustain only so many players. They all know each other, they all guest post and support each other, which is good for them.
I’d had a similar situation when I wanted to complain about a property lawyer who made a mistake. Nobody wanted to represent me, as they preferred a long-term relationship with the other local property lawyers to a small potato case.
More unexpectedly, I was blocked from BlogHer – an aggregate blog where I tried to republish as they accept previously published pieces. They considered the review spam. When I tried to argue that it’s an honest review (which I consider neutral, maybe on a slightly positive side), they told me that sometimes paid bloggers write a push piece disguised as a review and apparently my post looks like one of those.
If it looks like a duck, if it quacks like a duck, it’s a cat disguised as a duck.
While reputable periodicals shed their staff, the Internet is full of courses for aspiring journalists. While the content mills pay $5 for a thousand words and numerous “pay-per-click” just promise to pay when your post goes viral (at approximately the same odds as you winning a lottery), the courses promise to teach how to be paid $1 per word.
I’m usually skeptical about “get rich quick” schemes. However, as a beginner freelance writer, I subscribed to blogs of the US authors Carol Tice and Linda Formichelli. They have great advice for aspiring writers in exchange for the ads of their products – books, mentoring and online courses.
Marketing of the course, Pitch Clinic, was a free lesson in itself. I subscribe to both Carol and Linda’s newsletters. I was bombarded by promotional emails: “The course is coming soon”, “registration open”, “you still have a chance”, “we have a great editor who will look at your proposals”, “and another great editor”. At last, I was seduced by the offer that if I finish all the assignments on time, I will get all the money, $300, back.
How the Pitch Clinic works
You get access to a forum where you listen to pre-recorded lectures and collect handouts such as a flowchart how to write Letter of Introduction (LOI). The forum software was irritating, the “watch this topic” bookmarks slipping all the time. But the support system was excellent, correcting my mistakes such as posting in wrong places, changing the title, etc. almost immediately.
First, you submit your “pitch idea” The idea should be approved by one of the mentors, media professionals including Linda and Carol. You can provide up to 3 ideas, but only the first one is approved. As a result, I was stuck with a topic, which the more I worked on, the more I disliked it. Continue reading