Thursday, December 30, 2010

Huxley and Orwell

Recently there's been this interesting article comparing the distopias of Huxley and Orwell and if our current world is like either of them. I get asked all the time what the point of reading literature is, and I think this is a good example of the argument that literature allows us to explore ideas that have very real-world applications.
The only problem I have with this article is the assumption that "new world order" is all that new. When I look back into history, I think about the control that states had on their subjects, especially marginalized subjects (women, slaves, etc.). Although I agree that recent leaps in technology have allowed for more effective control, I cannot think of a clear moment in history where individuals were truly as free as this article implies.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

King George VI Speech

This is a clip of King George VI giving a speech in the late 30's.  The speech was given at the beginning of the second World War, but what I find interesting is the way George VI speaks.  He had a "stuttering" problem, but mostly he just sounds like there's a lot of silence between his words. 
Thanks to Steamy Darcy for the link. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

This is Planet Earth

Favianna Rodriguez is one of my favorite artists, and Just Seeds recently posted on of her newer posters: This is Planet Earth.  I love both the colors she used and the way the heads blended in together.  The heads being positioned like that is unusual in her work, but it looks really awesome.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Race Monopoly

Talking about race is tough, and showing people sometimes how race operates in a large system and how multiple "small" inequalities add up, but this short piece applying race to Monopoly does a good job of showing readers how race works. I would really love to see someone take this further and actually see some players try these rules out and even apply more rules (maybe even on other factors, like class as the writer suggests, but even something like gender or sexuality) to show how a larger economic system oppresses people.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

O Holy Night

Even though I promised myself I wouldn't share any more Christmas songs with you now that Christmas is technically over, I found a bonus one.  I asked people to submit their favorite Christmas songs, and an old friend actually suggested this cover of "O Holy Night," which is comically in a horrible way.  I still can't decide if this is a joke or not. 

Girls and Violence

Here's a recent story about a young woman who was attacked by a group of young girls. All of her attackers had been previously arrested, and as sad as I am about watching this video, I was so afraid this was going to become another case of bullying, and that this "gang" targeted the victim because of something that happened at school.
There's been a lot of recent evidence in increased violence among girls. This bothers me, just because I don't want anyone, regardless of gender, to be violent. I would like some eventual follow up to what made these particular young women strike out, randomly, at someone else.
Thanks to Detainees for the link.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Wrapping

First, can we talk about the title, which has a great pun (“wrapping” instead of what they’re doing, which is rapping.)
And there’s the storyline, which is about a busy young woman, living in some big city, running into the same guy all year. She’s independent enough that she doesn’t need to do Christmas with other people, but she runs into her guy right at the last minute, and yes, has a romantic Christmas. It’s hard for me to not wish I was this girl, modern and fun.
Hope you’re all “doing Christmas right this time” too.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Wonderful Christmastime

Firstly, I love how 80s this song is. It sounds like something that could easily be on an old school episode of Doctor Who. Rhythmically and vocally this song is doing some pretty bizarre things, but it still works well.
Plus, Paul McCartney’s being pretty adorable in this video. I like how the video really looks like some of the grainy footage from an actual family Christmas video.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas

Is there anything cuter than a kid who wants an unrealistic present? A hippo is a surprise, because, you know, it’s usually a horse. But asking for a hippo is pretty precocious and quirky. I love that this little girl researched the subject of her hippo, even knowing that they are vegetarians. (Though they are actually pretty dangerous.)
“And hippopotamus like me too!” Hard to argue with that.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Celebrity Honor Killing

One of the few good things about the War in Iraq is that it has forced some Americans to learn about the so-called Middle East. One of the many things I’ve heard up for debate is honor killings: women killed because they have transgressed sexual mores in some way, many times not through their own choice. In this story, a woman named Afshan Azad, most famous for her small role in the Harry Potter films, who was attacked by her brother and father for dating a Hindu man. (She herself is Muslim.)
What I personally find most frightening about this story is her age: twenty-two. I am twenty-two, and I cannot imagine being attacked by my family for my dating choices. If what they say is true, and this woman was attacked, my heart goes out to her. I would be traumatized by knowing my family saw my life and happiness as unimportant in comparison with societal norms.  There has been some talk that this story is a misunderstanding, and for her sake, I hope that's true. 

I Was Thinking I Could Clean Up For Christmas

For some reason, the most melancholy singer songwriters make the best Christmas songs. This one, by the amazing Aimee Mann, is from the point of view of an addict, which, seriously, doesn’t get talk about that much, and usually not in an entire concept album with a Christmas song near the end.
Mann is a true singer songwriter, employing some wonderful phrases. “The business of the prodigal son” particularly stands out.
Mann has some great other Christmas songs. Her album One More Drifter in the Snow, particularly her cover of the song from The Grinch, is inspired.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Neo-Nazis in Germany

When people tell me things like "that doesn't happen anymore," in answer to a discussion of racism, I like to point to news stories like these. In this particular one, several foreigners were attacked in Germany by Neo-Nazis. And before you say "Well, they're fringe groups." Sure, but they apparently have committed 11,000 criminal acts in the first nine months of this year.

Carol of the Bells

“Carol of the Bells” is the most popular Christmas song. It’s not hard to see why. It captures the drama and mystery of Christmas perfectly. Requiem masses wish they could do this on the same level that this song manages to.
This is also another tough song to sing, just because it can get pretty high. Since this is a men’s version, it never manages to get quite that high, but you can see, if there was women singing this, it could turn operatic-sounding pretty fast.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Blue Christmas

Since it’s the season, and I’ve been blogging pretty heavy topics of late, I decided to mix it up by bringing you some of my favorite Christmas songs this week. (Feel free to post your favorite songs too, especially if it’s a lesser known Christmas song. Always looking for something good.)

When people talk about Elvis, they talk about the hips, the women, that mansion of his, his daughter marrying Michael Jackson. But there seems to be so little acknowledgment of what a great voice he had, how smooth it was and a good example of singing it is. It takes a fair amount of breath control to get that right.
The song itself is nice, because while being about a blue during Christmas it also is a blues song.
If you look at this particular performance, you can see him screw up his face, and there’s something very gritty about that, more rock than pop, more Johnny Cash than we would expect.
Also, doesn’t he have long eyelashes?

Some Thoughts on The Holiday Ham

Here's a video about Smithfield and how they have failed, so far, to phase out gestation crates. The video depicts gestation crates, which confines pigs to the smallest space they can possible be squeezed into. They have no way of moving around, and often have sores and injuries as a result of their confinement. This is sad, especially when other corporations have been willing to change their practices.
I don't like ham or pork, but for those of you who like to have ham for your family Christmas meal, consider thinking about who you are buying from. Some companies have better, more humane practices than others.
Thanks to Linh Dinh for the link.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Spoken Word Poetry on the Page

The first idea in "What is this Thing Called Rap?" is that it is common for an undergraduate to have their "face blown off" by postcolonial theory. I hate to admit it, but this totally happened to me, when I was taking, you guessed it, Postcolonial Literature and Theory while studying at the University of London. And then they review a new anthology of rap, which, while admirable, appears to have a ton of mistakes in it. I've been following the discussion on how this book was created, and mostly what I keep going back to is one of the oldest adages of poetry: it's meant to be spoken outloud. Rap, like poetry, is never as good when read, it's good when you read it outloud to yourself, or even better, hear the writer read it themselves.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Another Fibromyalgic Queer Coloredgirl Morning

Since posting a link and thoughts on gender and fibromyalgia, I discovered that Lakshmi Piepzna Samarashina , a writer I am quickly falling in love with, actually has it, and even wrote about it, in conjuction with being a queer coloredgirl. Among other things, Lakshmi Piepzna Samarashina writes to Gloria Anzuldua (a magnificent writers as well, who I've discussed before) about living with chronic illness. She uses the term nepantla, which is the inbetween space of borders that Anzuldua and other Latina writers have used. Lakshmi Piepzna Samarashina discusses the struggle to make a life for yourself when you are disabled (and also, the interconnected struggles with being queer and a person of color, which compounds her circumstances.) She also discusses Anzuldua’s struggle to hide how sick she really was. I’ve done work on Anzuldua, and I was unaware that she had been so ill (I was aware of her relatively early death, which is tragic. We lost a wonderful writer and activist there.)
Lakshmi Piepzna Samarashina is a wonderful writer who is just starting to emerge as as someone to follow. (She's been respected in activist circles for years, but she is only just now getting a little mainstream fame, having been nominated for a Pushcart recently.)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Favianna Rodriguez Poster

Since I posted the Walpole poster from my friend Alexander a week ago, I wanted to share with you this lovely poster on immigration and human rights from Favianna Rodriguez, who is also a member of the Just Seeds collective. Rodrigues work is amazing. I frequently wish I had the money to buy some of her great art. I love even the tiner details of her work, like how she draws noses. Plus, her work frequently concentrates on people of color and women, educating people on struggles for justice.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Fibromyalagia and Gender

Today I was reading an article on fibromyalagia, which women disproportionately suffer from. Basically, it states that gender politics plays a big role, and I can think of a lot of other modern examples of women's health being ignored.
Less research is done on women's illnesses than men's. Viagra, a men's product, is insured, but some medicines for women (or even sometimes predominately used by women)are uninsured. Fibromylagia is just another, more modern example of "hysteria" which was a woman's disease caused by not being obedient enough. Women's crazy moods? Caused by the way her womb was sitting in her body. Sadly, people still basically think this when they discount a woman because it's "that time of the month."
It's enough to make you sick.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Video Games, Women and Minorities

This is an article by the Guardian about video games and the representation of women and minorities. Unsurprisingly, a new study found that women and people of color are underrepresented in games and that they are generally not characters you can control. So depressing, but also something that anyone even vaguely aware of video games already knows. This is the number one reason I do not play video games much, despite admiring other things about them.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bad News: Racism Happens Everywhere

I like to keep up with international news, which is harder than you think when major news sources in America tend to focus on domestic issues, not international.  (Boo!)  But today I read about how there are racist riots going on is Moscow.  Basically, some rioters are calling for the death of immigrants, breaking out the Nazi salute and yelling about "Russia for Russians."  I am so sorry to hear this, because, wow, that's really awful.  Some immigrants were even attacked, and it's hard not to imagine how it must be scarier than usual to be an immigrant in Russia right now. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Civil War Photos

The Library of Congress has recently posted an entire collection of Civil War photos on the Flikr page.  It's a pretty intense collection of images.  They are hoping that people will see an ancestor and contact the library so that they might finally get some names with those faces.  No one in my family participated in the Civil War, but the images are a great reminder of that people who served.  They often look stiff in these photos, but at the same time, it is easy to see how they were fathers, brothers, husbands and friends and not just dead bodies. 
Thanks to the ladies over at Two Nerdy History Girls for the link. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Walpole Poster

One of my friends, Alexander, is an amazing artist.  I was so excited to come across his art being featured on Just Seeds.  It's a poster celebrating the Walpole Prisoners.  Basically, Walpole was a prison in Massachusetts (it's closed now.)  At one point, guards got angry about the way it was run, so they basically quit.  The prisoners decided to run the prison themselves, and found that not only could they do it, but they could do it better than the guards.  Riots stopped and prisoners even worked through race issues.  Unfortunately, Walpole was closed and the ideas these prisoners had to improve the system have been generally ignored.  Just Seeds makes these posters as a way to spread the word about forgotten social movements that did extraordinary things. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Mollie Steimer

There's something great about discovering a new fascinating historical person.  History is about people and their stories; that's why the word for history derives from Latin and Greeks words which also mean -you guessed it!- story.  Today's historical discovery is Mollie Steimer, a Jewish American anarchist. She and fellow anarchists had an apartment in Harlem, at 5 East 104th Street, which I totally want to visit now. Her story is so intense and interesting; it could easily be made into a really great miniseries, so make sure you check out the link.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Parke Burgess's Our Tragic Flaw

Found a book called Our Tragic Flaw, which is about violence is always the go-to answer for so many of our problems.  Parke Burgess actually has been trained as a musician, but he has also done activist work, which probably formed the basis for the philosophy he espouses in this book.  His blog looks really interesting and he has even posted his book for free.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival

I went to the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival today. I was surprised by how crowded it was (I had gotten there early in the day, thinking the rush would be later, but wow.) We were packed in like little sardines there. I had a really good time getting a look at some amazing indie comics out there.
I Married a Manchild

I actually collect comics, so I was excited to buy a few cool things. This is my favorite thing, which was the first thing I got: I Married a Manchild. It's by one of my favorite artists, Kate Beaton. I love her stuff because so much of it pokes fun at literary or historical characters. I recognized most of the comics in the book, but I also got it signed by Beaton. She even drew a picture of me, which made me look way cooler than I actually am. She was really nice and was totally star-struck.
No Shave November

I got stocked up on other cool comic swag: buttons, postcards, fliers for local comic and graphic arts events, even free mini comics and newspaper-printed comics. Above and below are sections of the newspaper-style comics I got. They was some intense and beautiful work there.

One of the other great things was that even a celebrity showed up. Matt Groening was there, not to sign stuff or to talk art, but just to go. He was milling around with a friend, looking at people's work and buying things. I'm not really a big Simpsons fan, but seeing him there made me think about how many of the people there (mostly people around my age but also some ten or fifteen years older) grew up watching that show or at least knowing about it since it's been on so long and is so beloved. Him showing up was probably special in a strange way, since he probably inspired and influenced a lot of the artists there.
Something tells me next year this thing is going to be much bigger.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Hard Lessons: Button Edition

Everyone who regularly reads the blog already knows that I'm a huge fan of the Hard Lessons, the indie band that everyone should be talking about but doesn't. But what I've never mentioned before is that I like to collect things, and one of my favorite things to collect is buttons, or, as the British call them, badges.
So imagine my delighted smile when someone pointed me over to the Hard Lessons tumblr, which yes, includes this little post featuring buttons the band's giving out in connection with their upcoming Christmas album. I'm really loving the one in the middle and the two on the left. The one in the middle has a great shade of blue. I guess I'm going to have to get out to one of their upcoming concerts if I want one of these.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Poetry Radio Project

American Public Media and the Poetry Foundation have teamed up to bring poetry to the radio. Here's a brief overview of the project and the programs featured.
I feel bad saying it, but I just about never listen to the radio, in part because I use public transportation so much more than a car. It never occurs to me to listen online because these days I mostly work in silence.
But poetry on the radio makes sense because it is meant to be read outloud and listened to, not simply read. Poetry is not like a closet drama. Hearing the actual poet read their work often makes more sense then simply reading it on the page (though with all the interesting ways poetry appears on the page these days, seeing it as it's being read is also illuminating.) Hearing a poet read even one of their poems makes it easier to understand their poetry in general, because you can then hear in your mind's ear their voice reading every poem.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Riding Side Saddle

Edwardian Promenade has another interesting post, this time about riding side saddle.  One of the things the post mentions is that it took a long time before riding skirts were designed with safety in mind.  Before that, it was common for women to get dragged by their horses.  The history of clothing is littered with stories of clothes that privileged a certain aesthetic for women over their own health and safety, and the fact that horse draggings went on for centuries before a solution was found is really sad.  Women were literally dying just to wear socially acceptable clothes. 
It's hard not to wonder about some of our own choices today and think about how they are privileging an aesthetic over health and safety.  For example, women (more so then men) get surgery to change their appearance, and although many of these procedures happen without complications, problems can arise.  Is this really what we want for women and men?  To feel compelled to change their bodies or put their bodies at risk just for other people?  Do we really want them to feel like they're getting dragged by a  horse?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Girl Talk Tour

Girl Talk, one of my favorite one-man bands, is going on tour starting next week, since his new album came out this week.  I definitely want to go.
Girl Talk remixes and blends various pop songs together to create these really interesting songs.  The songs often bleed into one another.  I always enjoy listening for the various songs that are sewn together, and sometimes I can identify only some parts of what are in something.  (And sometimes not by name.)  Part of the fun of this music is trying to catch all the various bits being used, though your knowledge of pop music would have to be intense to catch all or even most of it.
The only thing that gives me pause about Girl Talk is some of the music being sampled.  Often the lyrics being sampled, like the one above, contain lyrics that are misogynistic.  It would be one thing if Girl Talk was cutting out the offensive lyrics; it might be read as a way to erase offensive material and replacing it with something positive or at least less awful.  But since he includes it (as with the song above, from his album Feed the Animals,) it is hard not to wonder what political message he's sending. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Back Home in Indiana

Sometimes, when we're feeling something in particular, we need a bit of art (a song, a movie, a book), to go along with that moment. Since it's Thanksgiving, I'm sure most of you have found yourself a little nostalgic, and a little sad. I have a piece for you to commiserate with: "Back Home in Indiana."
It's a nice essay from a woman who is clearly missing home, but struggling to define exactly what part of home she misses and how to go about fixing it. She mentions trying to get her kids to spend their summers in Indiana. My parents did this, though it was with Portland, Oregon. I still love Portland. I consider it a home, much like my actual hometown.
So, where ever you are this holiday, have a moment to remember your home(s). And realize there are new homes waiting to be made.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Short Thao Nguyen Concert

Here's a short concert of Thao Nguyen on NPR. She's working it solo here, but she's also part of the band the Get Down Stay Down. I love this first song, "Bag of Hammers," that Nguyen sings. The first line "I am all in a ball in your front yard" is a perfect opening. I also love the body movements musicians have, which are often unique to each. She has this sort of jerky semi-headbang going on that ia fun to watch. She has an amazing voice. I love the breathy vocal ornaments added through the songs.
On another note, I am totally jealous that these people at NPR get all this great music. I would love to work at this job.
Thanks to f bomb for the music suggestion.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Intellectual Laziness

Recently, there's been a series of professors who have been video taped and then have had their statements posted online.  Some of the other issues aside, it is really sad that we live in an age where people don't want to be challenged, as in one case, where it appears a professor was targeted because of his political views.  One of the important reasons people go to college is to expose themselves to different and new ideas.  Sometimes, as individuals, we reject the ideas we're around; other times we don't.  But getting exposed to them in the first place is not a bad thing. 
A friend once argued to me that she didn't want to read certain material because of the effect it might have on her.  But this is silly, because the only way we can understand why something is bad/false/an exaggeration is if we work through the idea first.  There's a famous quote from Aristotle about a strong mind being capable of considering other ideas but then being able to reject them, and that's exactly the kind of strong minds schools should want.  Misrepresenting someone's ideas is not critiquing them; it's attempting to hoodwink other thinkers, which is simply intellectual laziness. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Transy vs. Charleston

Here's another great video of Transy Quidditch, one of my favorite teams.  This was the very last game of the evening at the World Cup.  I was so impressed with Transy for working so hard. 
I have mixed feelings about the extra Snitches who came in and then started switching the snitch around.  On one hand, I wonder if that's against the rules, just because it really should be.  (I mean, it's one thing when another team's snitch comes in, but they actually waited, three of them, to come into the fray.)  And how would we even check, because there's 700 rules?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Covers of Kurt Vonnegut

Good Show Sir is the interesting blog which collects all the worst science fiction book covers out there. The first time I looked at this blog, I was amused to see the latest post featured a book I myself had.
Lately though they posted a Kurt Vonnegut cover. I love Vonnegut, but this cover is indeed bad. (Though I've seen worse on the like of Battlefield Earth.) Mostly, I feel like there should be a category called When Bad Covers Happen to Good Authors.
One of the things I don't think people realize is that writers do not necessarily get a lot of say over covers, especially if they're getting published with a big press. Sometimes writers will get to pick one cover out of a few acceptable choices, but that's it.
Don't despair for Vonnegut: his cover for Jailbird actually looks really nice.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

American Dominance

One of the things I'm currently working through is a book called Incognegro, which is really fascinating.  Basically, it's about an African American man discussing three periods of his life: his childhood, his time living on and off in South Africa, and his time after South Africa, trying to emotionally put himself together. 
One of the other things that strikes me in the book is the absence of the U.S. Because I am an American, I am used to and expect our cultural dominance, of everything being measured against us, even though such a thing is unfair. Even though the book takes place at various moments in the U.S., I am struck by how whatever was happening in the U.S. past 1970 is mostly irrelevant and goes unmentioned. The book emphasizes how different South Africa is from the U.S., because frankly no one there appears to care what is going on in the U.S. during his story.  I don't think that's a bad thing at all, but I do think it makes a startling point to American readers who, like me, are used to everything being about us. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Latina Poetry

Racialicious recently put up this great interview with poet Janet Romeo-Leiva. In it, she talks about the process of writing, independent publishing, and her favorite authors.
She suggests some great Latina writers, including Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Andulzua. Having read them myself, I can tell you that they're amazing. They write political poetry, which is some of the toughest poetry out there to write, because it is so hard not to become didactic and lose sight of the actual poetry. Also, if you like both of these poets, I'd also suggest Lorna Dee Cervantes, another fabulous Latina political poet.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

McLuhan's Religion and the Influence of Media

Carrying on from yesterday's post, Wired magazine has an article discussing McLuhan and a recent documentary on him. The article mentions that McLuhan converted to Catholicism but that why isn't made clear. But if you read the Wikipedia article, you know it's because of G.K. Chesterton, the English writer.
Most of us don't consider how media effects us, but obviously McLuhan was hyper-aware of it. Moreover, we are even less likely to think about how books affect us, especially if we're not the kind of people to see books as media because of how old they are. McLuhan, even at a young age, saw the effect that Chesterton had on him, because it changed him into a religious man. Given McLuhan's own account of what made him convert, it seems obvious he would one day turn around and see other forms of media as having large influence on people, even if they were converting to a very different form of religion.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Medium is the Message

Wikipedia has fascinating articles on ideas and people. One entry I was recently reading was on Marshall McLuhan. McLuhan is probably most famous for the statement that "the medium is the message," which basically states that the context of an idea is important. McLuhan wrote some of the most influential books on media and the way people consume it.
McLuhan passed away before the Internet, which is too bad, because he would have a lot to say about an age made of Skype, texting, and, well, Wikipedia. He probably would see our media as harmful to society and as a way for power structures to maintain the status quo.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Quidditch World Cup Day Two

MSU, sadly, lost against to one of the other Quidditch teams early on the second day. It was a hard match to watch, just because MSU was working so hard. Mike, the Seeker, was getting criticized by the commentators for not ending the game by simply catching the snitch. And they kept calling us the University of Michigan, which is really rude and disrespectful. They didn't do that to other schools, and Michigan would not appreciate it either.

I am proud of how MSU played. They play hard no matter what, and I find that admirable. At the end of the game, they even sang "MSU Shadows," and it was just like being at school.
I decided to stick around and catch some of the other games. The day before, I had hung out with the Transylvania University team, so I decided to go find them. They had cheered for us during our game, so I was going to cheer for them too.
For teams that did not make it into the finals bracket, they scheduled skirmishes. Basically, this is a great opportunity for teams to play a lot of different schools they might not otherwise play. They can practice their strategy and see other teams' strategies too. So, basically Quidditch boot camp.
Transylvania played against John Hopkins. It was a close game, but Transylvania (who are the Animagi) were up. At one point, one of the John Hopkins players ended up on the ground. Hopkins chose to forfeit the game, in part because they were already down one player from another game. I hope that young woman who fell down is okay. She seemed to have the wind knocked out of her.
Cutest Quidditch Player

After that, I chilled with the team, taking some pictures and talking to them about this relatively new sport. Here's some of the Transylvania players posing for me.

One of the things they talked about to me was the history of their school. According to Thane, who usually plays Seeker for the team, Transylvania is about the sixteenth oldest school in the nation. Because of its geographic location, it was named Transylvania because that word means "through the woods."

Then something really surprising happened: MTV approached the team and asked if they would like to be filmed playing Quidditch. Transylvania agreed, and they had an MTV personality take over the role of a Beater to play the game. They got lots of shots of them talking about the game, what they were doing strategy wise, and even warming up. Here are some pictures of the team and Kevin from MTV warming up. Kevin is wearing a black headband to signify his position of beater.
Here's the team right before they start shooting some of the program.

Tractor had a rip in his jeans and they basically ripped off earlier that morning, which is why he's wearing half jeans half shorts in this picture.

I have a couple of extra photos posted up on flikr too.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Quidditch World Cup

I was lucky enough to make it to the Quidditch World Cup this weekend, and let me tell you, it was sweet. I was so impressed with not only the turnout of people but also the great sportsmanship of certain teams. Here's some photos from the event.

I asked this player to give me his game face, and this is what he showed me. Okay, so maybe it doesn't strike fear into the hearts of many, but it does probably make the enemy pause and wonder what's going on. So maybe it's a surprise tactic.
I'd also like to say here that I loved a lot of the jerseys that players were wearing. I would totally love to buy an MSU Quidditch jersey. Schools like McGill, Emerson, Middlebury and Wringley also had great jerseys that I would love to wear. So, if anyone knows anyone and has a reasonable price, drop me a message.

There are some very impressive players on the MSU team. Bailey, for example, is a good keeper. She's just a wall of scary. This here is Mike, who is the seeker. (You can tell he's a seeker because of the yellow-colored headband.) Mike and I have been acquaintances for a while (hazard of living in nerd-infested places) and even though he's kind of a creeper, he's a great seeker. He runs like Hermes and he's a spry little fellow. Professional teams should be all over this guy. (If you're wondering, that is what he gave me when I asked for his team face. Maybe it's a charm tactic? You make the enemy think you're harmless and kind and then BAM! you're winning the game?)

And that's Wilkins giving me his game face. Okay, does anyone on this team have a fierce game face? Or even a slightly serious one?

You'll be unsurprised to hear that MSU won against Syracuse. Right after the game, we decided to take a team photo. But then we realized that the coach was missing. He's that blur at the bottom, throwing himself into the picture. Notice no one even tries to catch him, they just let him dive bomb to the ground.

That's better. And much more respectable than some of the game faces I got.

This is a very social team. Everyone is friendly and analyzes the matches afterward so they can be better players. Here's Bailey and Erin having a conversation with someone off camera. And in the background, one of the other players is practicing what is probably his game face.

One of the treats was that, at the end of the night (after a great game featuring the Transylvania University team) was that Harry and the Potters showed up to play their awesome wizard rock. Here's the band during one of the early songs.

Loving the hair motion here. This guy can totally headband with the best of them.

And here I'm just loving the scream.

Don't discount wizard rock as anything less than punk. It's totally punk.
As always, more pictures on flikr for the fascinated.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

TV Mapping

I love maps. I have a small collection of them that I one day hope to get framed and use to decorate the walls of my future apartment or home. One of the kinds of maps I love are the kind to map out something cultural. So here's one featuring the tv shows we associate with each U.S. state. Personally, I always watch shows that take place in some large city, so I find myself thinking about how I associate certain cities with certain shows. I would sort of love to see a map that charted out various places were other pop cultural or literary things happened, since this one is so much fun.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Hardy, Woolf and Women's Agency

When you put people on a pedestal, there's always the opportunity that they'll fall off it. In the case of people already dead, there's always the chance you'll decide that maybe they're not as wonderful as you thought.

I read recently that Virginia Woolf apparently admired Thomas Hardy. Hardy is the author of, among other books, Tess of the d'Ubervilles. In the novel, Tess is raped and then spends the rest of the novel being punished by society and her family for losing her virginity. It's hard to see this story as anything other than misogynistic; after all, Tess suffers and suffers and the love of her life, Angel, who drops her like dead weight after he finds out she's been raped, never is given the same kind of harsh judgement. (Her rapist is eventually killed, but again, he goes on for years happily without suffering any kind of rejection from those around him, while poor Tess does.) Virginia Woolf, of course, is the feminist author of books like A Room of One's Own. This book in particular is all about giving women agency. It's hard to see how exactly a book that reveals in a lack of agency for women could be admired by a woman who writes for women's agency.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Jane Eyre: The Movie

Jane Eyre is apparently been made into another movie, which was news to me. Watching this trailer, I have a lot of thoughts. The moment it started with the dramatic music, I immediately thought of overly dramatic trailers and I got worried. People have been commenting that it looks like a horror film, and it really does, but I almost like it this way. Mr. Rochester is, if you think about it, absolutely horrifying. After all, he is a brutish, cruel, manipulative man; I can think of few less horrifying things (especially for a young woman. I feel bad for Jane, ending up with him.)
I can't help compare it the miniseries that was done some years ago. The guy for Rochester and young Jane seem all wrong to me. Judi Dench, is, as ever, perfect, even when she's barely in the trailer. I find it interesting that they cast her in that particular role. I always imagined the nurse as being close in age to Rochester, which explains her infatuation with him.
Obviously, I'm not a fan of the characters. I do sort of like the story, but mostly because I think it's wonderfully ambiguous and you can interpret the storyline in multiple ways. An ambiguous text is ideal for analyzing because there's always more to say. Which is probably why I'll end up seeing this.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Between the Lines

I've got another cool publisher for everyone to check out: Between the Lines. When I first heard about this publisher, I wondered if they had some connection to the well-known newspaper. As far as I can tell, they don't have any connection to one another beyond the name.
They publish books on politics, and they have a great selection, including stuff by bell hooks and Noam Chomsky. They have books on poverty, a story about a Kurdish man, and even oil drilling in Latin America.
I don't know about anyone else, but with all these great smaller publishers I'm finding, Christmas can't come soon enough.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Council on Women

There's been a lot of work going on at the U.N. recently on gender equality which would normally be a good thing.  But the BBC warns that Saudi Arabia and Iran might be trying to get elected on to the council
One of the things I hope readers remember is that there is a tendency among Western, privileged feminists to sometimes demonize an entire non-Western group of people without thought as to how patriarchal their own societies are.  This is not to apologize for the injustices of governments or other institutions, but simply to acknowledge that sometimes well-meaning can turn quickly into a neo-colonial response of "these people are uncivilized and we must give them our superior culture at any cost."  It's important to remember that the goal is to empower women, not debase the things they freely choose and do on their own to assert their own agency. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sky Larkin's "Soon to Be Molten"

Sky Larkin's "Soon to Be Molten" is a great song.  There are references to politics, though tantalizingly so, since there's so little specific.  The central image of becoming molten, of melting down to something hot and more elemental brings to mind the idea of being a radical, which comes from the Latin word for root. 
That said, I'm loving the camera angles where we as viewers are put in place of the guitarists.  What music junkie doesn't want to be a rock star, if they're not already?  (I love how you can see their pedals!)
Via f bomb.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Highline

The Highline is one of New York's most interesting parks, as it's up off of the streets and in between buildings. 

The only thing that makes it kind of sad is that it is not really the right time of year to be here, as many of the plants are either gone or already in freeze protection mode.

But in some ways that is a good thing, because it is easier to see the tracks the are still here.  The Highline is actually an old train line that has been repurposed as a park, and signs of the old line are everywhere. 

I went at dusk, and it seems like the perfect spot to catch the sunset over New Jersey.  That night's sunset was relatively ordinary, but I would imagine that on one of those nights where the sky turns various purples, pinks and oranges, it would be gorgeous. 

It looks like during the summer months this place is a good hangout spot, to the point where there are places to sit and a bar to sell drinks.  People were sitting here and there, but no one was selling anything. 


There are even lounge chairs to bask in, all point conveniently towards the water, and, this time of the day, the sunset. 

You can even curl up with a lover here.  Seeing this made me wish it was a few months earlier and that I had dragged a boyfriend along here. 

There are spots where people sell art.  Nearby is this beautifully designed map and clock. 

And, then of course, there are the plants themselves.  Although I don't know much about plants, I love seeing them.  Sadly, this park doesn't label any of them, so I can't even tell you what they are.  If anyone knows the names of any of these, let me know. 

I love this furry green looking plant.  Reminds me vaguely of a muppet. 

This was a wonderful spot to just sit and enjoy the day.  The park has a lot of benches, so there's lots of good places to just take in the surroundings.  The only thing that wasn't so good was that it was so cold outside and that it is not particularly close to any subway lines (which means if you want to escape back underground to the warmth of the subway, be prepared to walk at least four blocks to the nearest station.)  Otherwise, this park is really impressive, making it feel like designs that are more environmentally friendly are totally possible and fun.