Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Back By Popular Demand!

Two things that are going on right now fit this title. First, Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) is being prepped for a second performance; this time over in Cherryville (that's "chur-vul" in local-speak). We had the first brush-up rehearsal tonight, we load in on Saturday, and open next Thursday. Now THAT'll make you take up nail-biting! But it's a funny show, I have solid actors and a backstage crew that could run a catwalk in Milan with a day's notice. I just want to make sure the word gets out - it's a show that needs people. So - August 2, 3, 4 at 7:30; August 5 at 2:30 at the Cherryville Municipal Auditorium. Adults $10; students/seniors $8. There will be refreshments for sale and we'll take straight donations.

Second, as you may have heard, the final installment of Harry Potter is out. Don't worry - this blog is 100% spoiler-free. But I have finished the book and I can say without fear of contradiction, I really, really enjoyed this book. Rowling has a true talent for naming her characters and setting up little bits far in advance that then come back big much later. She's got a strong grasp of story structure and knows how a myth fits together and what makes a tale resonate with readers. You know a story is solid when you dread reaching the ending because you know you'll never again read it for the first time.

And, as my lovely Doctor Who said before the book was out (Time Lords can do that, you know), "Wait 'til you read Book 7! I cried."

Her book's out. Mine's in process. Hardly the same print run, but hey! I'm willing to work my way up. I'm on the home stretch in editing, but of course, I'm going to lose most of next week due to Shakespeare. So let me burn that midnight oil for a few nights . . .

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Drops of Grace

Our local indy film festival began last night. It started right after I moved to town, and I've gone to at least a night of it every year since the beginning. It's a little festival, so we don't get the swells like Sundance or Tribeca (or heavens above, Cannes), but thanks to the Internet's ability to publicize, entries come from far and wide. Some are magnificent, some a lot less so. (Note to filmmakers: don't sacrifice your story for a tight, great shot of whatever-it-is to show off your camera trickery. And in the name of Popcornus, the god of cinema, do your research! Details matter and if you ignore them, thereby yanking me out of the world of the film, don't expect me to thank you for the jolt.)


I really don't go to snark. I go to find films like Darius Goes West. Follow the link. Really. I'll wait. Darius and several members of the crew, including director Logan Smalley were in attendance. If you see this film and don't have an urge to slash the tires of able-bodied people who park in handicapped spaces and/or a bone-deep desire to demand curb cuts and ramps at all buildings - well, I don't want to know you. Honestly. Get thee gone. I consort not with the soulless.

Simply put, Darius Weems is living with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy; the same disease that killed his brother at age 19. Darius grew up in Athens, Georgia and had never seen an ocean, a mountain or even a state line. This is a film about his journey west with a band of friends (who, by the way, are extraordinary young men), ostensibly to talk MTV into tricking out his wheelchair on the popular show "Pimp My Ride," but really about seeing the world and experiencing it - mixing with people (and praying Chihuahuas), dealing with mechanical breakdowns, and seeing how much of this country is accessible to those who can't walk. (That's a shocker - Carlsbad Cavern, yes; the St. Louis Arch, no.) It's uplifting, heartbreaking, and anger-provoking in ways that Unca Jerry's telethon isn't.

See it. Donate to Charley's Fund. Then demand change.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Joys of Household Drudgery

Funny title, maybe, but hopefully it'll make sense in the end.

Lately, the big chore is editing the book. It seems to be going well, but it's hard to tell. Five chapters are edited, which puts me on (or even just a touch ahead of) schedule. As I've said before, it's a project that matters so much to me that I get dry-mouthed at the prospect of screwing it up. It can be a tough balance to strike - I want the pure fans to look a little deeper within the text and I want the ivory tower residents to respect the text in the first place. I guess what I'm really trying to do is increase the number of us who can walk with pleasure on both sides of the fence.

On top of that, life in general continues. Some things just pile up no matter what else is on the plate, so the trick is to find ways to enjoy those chores. Spooky always needs to be walked (and told repeatedly what a pretty, pretty girl she is!), bills have to be paid, laundry needs to be done, et repetitive cetera. And today was one of those odd days where a lot of little things came together, which is always nice, probably because it happens so seldom. Sort of like a planetary alignment - there's a lot of work behind the scenes for a neat, cool, keen little blaze of lights in the sky that lasts for just a brief period of time.

So what kinds of things are we talking about here? Well, I've been buying books lately (not work related; fun stuff like How to Be a Villain, which a few people would claim I don't need to read, but we shall speak no more of these individuals) and finally got things shelved. I did some cleaning to keep the Board of Health at bay for another few weeks. I also got my ironing basket empty (an event that truly takes effort, but I've discovered pressing cuffs and collars is much easier with Doctor Who playing in the background). Further, a celebratory Indian dinner is simmering away on the stove, filling the air with the scent of curry and jasmine rice.

Sniffff. Hmmmm. I think I need to go now - dinner won't eat itself. And it certainly won't enjoy it; that's only in Douglas Adams.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Turkey - It's Not Just for Thanksgiving Anymore

Good news to share! This morning, I got the news that my proposal for the conference had been accepted! This means that, provided I can arrange the details, I will be presenting on Joss Whedon's Fray in October. Oh, did I mention the conference takes place in Istanbul, Turkey? That's the flag over there.

Here's the link with details and so forth.

Now, the two main concerns I've already heard from people are:
1. A conference on what? Are you serious?
2. Turkey - hmmm. Is that safe?

Let me address both of these concerns.

1. A international conference on Buffy the Vampire Slayer with a wider emphasis on the works of Joss Whedon. Yes, I'm serious. I've had this question a lot, so I can give a thumbnail answer to this - I can also rattle on at great length, but I'll spare you that. In general, look - popular culture ("popcult" to be trendy and short) is well worth studying. Why wait sixty years for someone else to tell you what was important today? And, face it, where we put our attention indicates in no small part what we value as a society. Further, television is a big part of our society. Is most of it near-worthless trash? Sure. But a small fragment of it not only isn't trash, but is something lovely and transcendent - and that's ALWAYS worth a closer look, regardless of the medium.

More specifically, Whedon took some very traditional ideas and turned them inside-out. Was he the first person to do this? Heck, no. Does he do it very, very well? The answer is a resounding "yes"! Strong female characters who fight hard and still retain their femininity; families that never let go of each other, even though their bonds are seldom of blood (it's a post-modern thing - the notion that we create our own, quite legitimate, families); the idea that we have to look out for each other and create meaning out of a life which often seems random and cruel unless and until we assign meaning to it - all of this is in Whedon's work. The dialogue is also quick and quippy and delightful to watch.

So yes, I'm serious.

2. Turkey is the most Western of the so-called Islamic countries. They are almost aggressively secular and have, for the most part, avoided the radical elements that are found in most other countries (including ours). I'm not packing a burqa, although I promise as a matter of simple respect to cover my head if I sightsee in a mosque.

See the link. I know it's to Wikipedia, which isn't the best academic source, but for a quick overview, it'll do nicely.

So hey - Turkish Delight, here I come!