Archive | July 2011

Unextreme Make-over: Mod Cloth

I've been shopping again. Today I want to hilight ModCloth. My friend Julie Rose linked me up to this site. If you shop there, you want to look in the long dress section for their beautiful looks.

Today, I purchased this:

Can you feel the 60s?

I also bought another dress from eShakti. I'm pretty happy with my first two purchases from there, although they did take forever with the order last time, so we'll see how they do this time.

Black and White Dress

I'll be writing about rollers (yes, rollers!) next.

Catherine

Captain America

I've seen Captain America twice now. It's being touted as the best Marvel superhero film. (Buzz says that Chris Nolan's Dark Knight is best. Get outta town!) I'd disagree. I still think that Spiderman 2 fills that slot, and I would say that I liked Thor better (folklorist. Yeah. It'll happen.)

All that is not to say that I didn't like Captain America. As a matter of fact, Chris Evans gets my award for best actor in a superhero movie. This movie is not about a great cast. This movie is about a great performance.

There are other really good performances in this movie. Tommy Lee Jones plays himself to solid affect. Hugo Weaving is a tad over the top, but it's necessary to be over the top to emote through a red skull mask. Stanley Tucci shines in his brief role as Cap's fatherly creator. And Hayley Atwell's cool British agent is a performance that rivals Evans'.

But Chris Evans owns this film. As he should.

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Media; Con Prep

I guess times have gone from bad to worse for LiveJournal? All I get is the turning circle of death when I try to log in.

I have to admit, I like Google +. It's sort of the best of Twitter and LiveJournal combined. Easy, friendly, capable of screening, right where my gmail is. You guys are gonna like this too when it's out of the testing stage.

***

Spent last night working on an AnimeIowa presentation with Bryon. It's about where anime represents Japanese culture accurately, and where it doesn't. We spent the night watching clips and making slides. I hope to finish up our AI packing and prep tonight, as well as get some writing time in. It's supposed to be easier in the summer, right? *eyeroll*

Today, I must complete syllabi, so I leave you with this brief check in. I hope to get to that Captain America review tomorrow.

Cath

Harry Potter and the Power of an Editor

A couple of weeks back, I went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. My history with the Potter franchise has been long. I've been a fan fiction writer, a moderator on a site, a member of a board that helped put on Potter conventions, and an academic researcher about Potter. I used to have, before we moved English to our new building, the Potterized office. Yup, I had the Potter bug, and I had it bad.

I became involved with Potterdom about the time the first movie came out. I was thick in the throes of my PhD, but I was certain I wasn't going to see that movie without reading the books first. Bryon and I read them together, and by the time movie one was released, we had read the first three books. I was hooded in December, 2001, and I decided I wanted to know about Potter. I also had serious doubts about my ability to still write, so I thought fan fiction might be a way to see if I still could. And I stuck around for a while until I decided I needed to be writing my own stuff.

I also have to admit to dwindling interest. I felt pretty okay with the books up through book 4. Then characters I sort of assumed things about were revealed to be jerks, the movies were hamfisted Hermione Granger fantasies, and well, meh.

But, here's the thing. A couple of the movies have had what Rowling seemed to lack in her later books--editing. My favorites were 1, 5 (ironic because it is the book I detest), and 7, Part 2. Some of the most problematic parts of Rowling's 7th book were dealt with well in the movie (Steve Kloves, you may live. You are forgiven for some of your earlier mistakes...for now).

Here there be spoilers.

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Fjords and Bergen

In light of the Oslo shooting, I will try to keep the last Norway post from sounding too flippant. As I mentioned in my previous entry, I found the Sognefjord impactual. I really couldn't get close enough to those fjords. The way the slightest movement of the clouds or the sun made them so very different, so alive. If you ever have the chance to see the fjords, you must do it. Don't stay in the cities in Norway! I pine.

Bergen was cute as a button. We were only there a couple of days, and we hit an art museum with a fairly modern focus. Our hotel was right on the harbor, so we walked right off the fjord cruise and into the front door of our hotel, making up in some ways for our suburban Oslo hotel. We walked around the city and took in the atmosphere.

I have to admit at this point of the trip, I knew Neal had died, and that weighed upon me heavily. Catrina was really wonderful. She had no reason to expect I would turn into a stick-in-the-mud this trip, but I did, given grief and all. It was great traveling with her.

I know, you all want pictures. I'll see what I can do. They're still on my camera. This week Bryon and I get ready for AnimeIowa, I have all my writing to sneak in, and I'm working. But as soon as I can, you'll see them.

Tomorrow, maybe, some conversation about Captain America.

Catherine

Oslo

I can't say what I would have to say better than my friend Catrina Horsfield has said it.

The only thing that I can add is that fundamentalism is the most dangerous force in the world today. We need to be waging peace and raising less people who believe that there are causes worth murdering for. In all countries. In all religions. In all political affiliations.

And we ought to be revisiting the lyrics of John Lennon's Imagine on a fairly regular basis.

Catherine

Soliciting Reader Readers

For me, the 2011-2012 school year began again today. I spent the majority of my day pruning my email box. Wooh! What you missed out on!

It's been a strange news day in Oslo. Awaiting more details.

***

I have been keeping busy working on writing for the Clarion Write-a-thon. And I've been thinking about ways that I can improve my writing motivation. What I think I'll be doing is looking for readers that might want to read my work as someone who enjoys the work, rather than someone who is helping me fix the work.

Don't get me wrong. I want to have readers who help me fix my work, and I'll still be chatting with writers. But I need some folks who would read my work for fun, and ask me questions about content and story. So, if this sounds like you, just let me know. I'm working on how I'm going to get this set up. First, though, I need to see if I can interest anyone in the actual reading.

This is just reading. You don't need any kind of expertise, just a desire to read some Klarion books. Let me know if this sounds like you.

***

Hope to finish my Norway posts this weekend, and get some pictures up. We'll see. I have four more writing hours to pay the piper in order to get caught up from all my travel antics.

Catherine

Snapshots

HELP? In my quest to interview all VP XIIIers, I begin my search for one Drew Morby. If you know how to get in touch with Drew, please let me know, as I have yet to be successful in this regard. I haven't seen or heard from Drew since we parted ways at the ferry at Martha's Vineyard in 2009, so I'd appreciate any leads.

***

The busy, she makes me dizzy.

I need to be writing, but I thought I'd write some quick snapshots to let you all know I'm alive and well.

North American Discworld=Interesting writer and reader panels. Surprise visit by Neil Gaiman. Never eating steak tartar again. Some things should not be sushi.

Family Reunion=spent wonderful weekend with excellent friends in hot Iowa weather. Jimmy Jack's continues to be fantastic barbeque.

Iowa weather=swimming pool of the Midwest. I have no air conditioning save in our bedroom. Sleep is not a problem. The rest of the day is.

Work=I return to work on Friday, so there will be more regular updates and witticisms. Also, busy-ness of a work-related nature, for variety.

Phyllis=social circle is huge and expanding. Being a good person for 80 years pays off in dividends.

We return you to rest of Internet while I work on some writing.

Cath

VP Profile #17: Kat Hankinson

Kat Hankinson could be the busiest writer on the planet. Pursuing a PhD, raising twins, writing and running occupy her time. Plenty of time in there to whip out a best seller too!

Tamago: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

Kat: When I was in grade school. I remember telling somebody that I wanted to be an "arthur" when I grew up. I actually wrote & illustrated a science fiction "epic" in fourth grade (about the evolution of a race of gentle & wise reptilians). As a child I was constantly writing, drawing and creating fantasy worlds. It took a while to come around to the idea of actually having a career as a fiction writer, though. In college I made the commitment to be a fiction writer. Several years later, after I got my MFA and worked as an intern on "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," I decided to write fantasy. I've been plugging away since then. I'm so grateful to Viable Paradise for the support and encouragement that has come from the instructors and alumni.

Tamago: Which writers would you say influenced your work?

Kat: Mythology first and foremost, from any culture anywhere.

In fantasy/sci-fi, well of course there are the Inklings: Tolkien, the dazzling E.R. Eddison, and C.S Lewis (Till We Have Faces, a retelling of the Eros & Psyche myth, is my favorite of his works). The Inklings were all about mythology; in the face of world war and a widespread loss of faith, the lack of a "center" in cultural life, they wanted to create mythology for the modern age. I find that compelling.

More contemporary influences include Gene Wolfe: his intensity, darkness and invention have gotten under my skin. I adore Ursula LeGuin, and especially admire her range: she can do everything from high fantasy to sci-fi to literary fiction, and I'd like to emulate that. I also admire Patricia McKillip's elegant style and her seemingly effortless world making.

Tamago: What kind of genre do you work in?

Kat: I prefer fantasy, though I do occasionally write science fiction and "literary" stories as well.

Tamago: Tell us about the projects you're working on right now.

Kat: There are several simmering away. Two novels: one is a fantasy epic that I can best describe as "Milton meets the Mahabharata"; the other is a dark/urban/historical saga about a family descended from demons.

Short stories include a series of science fiction pieces as well as a fantasy story that is turning out to be a retelling of the Demeter-Persephone myth. There are a few projects that fall into the realm of realism as well.

Tamago: In addition to writing, I know you have young twins, and that you are pursuing a PhD. How do you balance all of these demands on your life with your writing?

Kat: I take lots of vitamins.

Seriously, having children has taught me that it's okay to take my time and to strike a dynamic balance between the creative life and everyday life. Being a parent has also helped me to be uber-practical and prioritize. For example, this year I've set fiction aside so that I can get through the dissertation as quickly as I can. Even with my little ones in day care a few days a week, it's a challenge to squeeze in a few hours of writing and research, and I need all the brain space I can get to stay focused on my topic. (Of course, whenever I'm driving, fiction projects are weaving themselves in my head!) The reward that I'll give myself when the doctorate is done will be at least a year to write fiction, fiction, and nothing but fiction.

Tamago: Does the subject you're studying for your PhD influence your work at all? If so, how?

Kat: I wish it did. I imagine life would be simpler if I were studying mythology or writing about science fiction or fantasy. But no, my intellectual interests have led elsewhere: I'm exploring the narratives of whites who were adopted by Indian tribes in North America in the 17th & 18th centuries. These texts necessarily reflect the difficulty of communicating Indian cultural concepts in Anglo-American terms and forms. So I wouldn't say this research influences my work, but it expresses an interest in frontiers, in the edges of experience where communication becomes nearly impossible: the liminal state. Which is what much mythology deals with as well. And which I am drawn to in my fiction writing. So my academic work is not so much an influence on my writing as it is another expression of my interest in the liminal.

Tamago: Do you prefer writing short stories or novels?

Kat: Novels. My imagination likes to complicate & expand things.

Tamago: If someone wanted to go to Viable Paradise, what advice would you offer them? What could they expect to get out of the workshop?

Kat: Go for it! I learned more about writing and forging a career as a writer at VP than I did in the two-year MFA program I attended. Be open to everything you hear and takes voluminous notes, because the program is intense and your brain will overflow rapidly. When you get home afterward, you will need those notes -- and lots of contact with your new VP friends -- to incorporate all you've learned into your work and your life.

You will receive tough criticism, which is always needed. You will receive encouragement, which is also needed. You will be invited to consider your authorship as a real career-in-the-making -- not just a dream. And you will have the opportunity to become part of a great circle of supportive and talented writer friends.

Tamago: Who are your favorite writers?

Kat: In the "literary" realm (including magical realism & the Gothic), I love writers with intense style and courage to explore: Toni Morrison, Isabel Allende, Marquez, Carson McCullers, Truman Capote, early American Gothic writer Charles Brockden Brown, the Brontes, Shakespeare, Melville. Others include (randomly) Virginia Woolf, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Herman Hesse, Tennessee Williams, and Wallace Stevens. I also enjoy the work of many Native American writers including Diane Glancy, Leslie Marmon Silko and Sherman Alexie.

Tamago: Where do you hope to be in your writing career in 10 years?

Kat: In ten years I'd like to have two novels published, I'd like to be teaching writing and literature, and I'd like to spend more time with writer friends/colleagues, sharing our passion for our art.