500 Words is a podcast about living a creative life. Short-form interviews with creative people from film, music, design, multi-media and more. Conducted by Lee Schneider.
Now Here's Something - Food in a Tube
Now Here's Something is a two-minute conversation between father and son. In this episode, we discuss the merits of serving food in a tube.
Now Here's Something - Episode 2
In this episode of Now Here’s Something, Bodhi and I go deep for three minutes about the dilemma we all face now: screen or paper. If you’re just joining me on the 500 Words journey, I’m posting a podcast as I work up the next numbered series of very short short story posts written exclusively for this newsletter. If you want to receive the posts in the order they are created, consider subscribing. Bodhi is my youngest son. He is eight. There have already been two fiction series posted on this blog. The first, Wait, Wut, was about adapting to the impossible conditions imposed on us by the pandemic. The second, The Counter Narrative, was a series of posts written from some time in the future. Each post is 500 words long or pretty close to it. Get full access to 500 Words at 500words.ink/subscribe
Introducing ... Now Here's Something
Hello! During the last few months in this space, I’ve been posting a series of short-form stories from the future. I need to give the time machine a little rest (those things can overheat if used every day) and I need a little time to write up the ideas for the next short-form series. So, during this period of incubation and fermentation, I’d like to present a podcast. Bodhi, my youngest son, and I have recorded some blips that I hope you will enjoy. The first one asks the important question, “Are cats worth it?” The name “Now Here’s Something” comes from what Bodhi says when he wants to redirect the conversation from a topic that is blah to a topic that is interesting to him. In the podcast he plays a 20-year-old. He is eight years old in real life. Get full access to 500 Words at 500words.ink/subscribe
SCHOOL AND WORK ON YOUR SCREEN What’s the way forward?
Sure, I write short-form essays for the web right here on 500 Words. I’m working on one today to share with you. I’m also the co-founder of a futurist network called FutureX. This week, we’re hosting an event about the future of school and work online. Spending so much more time on screens might be going well for you — or not. We’ve assembled an all-star group to discuss what’s coming next in school and work and answer your questions. It’s free. Click here for more information and to register. Get full access to 500 Words at 500words.ink/subscribe
How the Climate Crisis Affects the Food Chain
Editor’s note: This is a guest podcast by Bodhi Schneider. He is eight. He’s also my son. He wrote the script and composed the music. How the climate crisis affects the food chain Hello, I am Bodhi Schneider and I’m gonna teach you how the climate crisis affects the food chain.First, do you know what climate change is? If you don’t hear is what it is: climate change can do a lot of damage. it is caused by greenhouse gases which include carbon dioxide and methane. These gases trap heat inside of the air and causes earth to warm up. Now, since carbon dioxide and methane trap heat inside of the earth it can melt ice caps …-cracking noise … and warm weather patterns permanently. That’s what climate change is.And how that affects the food chain? Well, imagine three fish. fish1 fish2 and fish3. If fish1 dies out because of the hot weather.-blazing sun noisefish2 has nothing to eat therefore fish2 starves to death. And since fish3 can’t eat fish2 Fish3 also starves to death. That’s how the climate change crisis affects the food chain. Get full access to 500 Words at 500words.ink/subscribe
Ep 10 - On a Call With Vikram Chandra, Novelist
This week's call is with Vikram Chandra, novelist, software developer, and deep thinker about the creative process. I first discovered his work when I read his bestseller Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty, a book about the creative drives and lives shared by writers and coders. One of the book's most mind- blowing sections (I am re-reading it this week) is about the precision of Sanskrit as a language. In 500 BCE, a scholar named Panini wrote a grammar of Sanskrit that fit in just 40 dense pages. His work has influenced Western grammatical theory for centuries, and that theory "became the seedbed for high-level computer languages," as Vikram points out in his book. You can draw a line connecting Sanskrit with how computer programs are conceived and written. That was my point of entry into his work, but I wanted to interview him because he wrote something that terrified me. I learned from reading a blog he wrote that he doesn't outline his long, complex novels. He writes with purposeful ambiguity. As you begin, you know very little about what the book is. But the thoughts and visions persist, which means that this character and her world have some kind of special energy for you, and you want to know more about this character, what her situation is. - Vikram ChandraThis means that he may spend years writing his way into a story, leaving big plot holes, learning about the characters as he goes, until the novel comes into focus. This seems like a scary way to write, but it has successful practitioners. His first novel, Red Earth and Pouring Rain, won the 1996 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book. Sacred Games is a literary novel that is also a crime novel, a detective story, and a thriller. It has a hundred characters. It became the first original television series from India on Netflix. So feeling along in the dark might be a good way to write a book. Novelist E. L. Doctorow described his writing process like this: “You know the headlights are on in the fog and you can see just so far, but you realize you can drive the whole way like that.” Joan Didion wrote something like, I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see, and what I think it means. I can keep throwing quotes at you all day. They will do nothing to push back my terror of wading into a long book without an outline. On the call, Vikram and I talk about his discovery process and my planning process. Since he is the rare person who values purposeful ambiguity and also has an engineer's mind, he is working on a kind of super-software for writers that keeps track of who, what, where, and when. You can use kind of hacky solutions like the old-time honored index cards on the wall, your hand drawn or a software based timelines. But the problem is again that none of this knowledge is attached to the text. And so that's what I obsessed about for nearly a decade and discovered that it's actually a pretty hard problem, attaching facts to text, which has a very honorable and long effort. - Vikram ChandraHis answer is called Granthika, which is in beta now with an official launch coming in October. You can try it out. Here’s the link: https://granthika.co Easily as mind expanding as Sanskrit grammar forming the conceptual basis of computer programming languages, Granthika is an AI word processor that tracks and corrects continuity errors in your timeline, characters, and events. It's an editor by your side who constantly tests your story's factual correctness. As Vikram suggested in our call, "if you move the inquest up before the murder, it tells you" and you can fix it. Learn more about Granthika. Read the blog that got me terrified about feeling you way through writing: Finding a Book: The Writer’s JourneyCheck out Vikram Chandra's books on his website. Thanks for listening,Lee A technical noteA reminder, On a Call With … is just a phone call. Actually, a Zoom call. But it’s not a f