Tuesday, August 7, 2012

T-minus two weeks

Until school starts. Alas. Where did my summer go? I remember those lazy days when I would have the audacity to say I was bored. Really? How I wish I could find time to read more than an hour.

So, I will have to pack in as much fun as I can while working a 40 hour week. I did take off a couple days last week to go to Memphis for shopping and family time. I visited a professional athletic shoe fitting facility called Fleet Feet Sports. I felt all sporty and athleticly. Yes, I am still running up that hill.

I went to all the usual stores that our lovely town of Oxford, being as it caters to the 18+, size 0 crowd (that and over-sized shirts, nike shorts, and boots will get you a cup of coffee). So, I went to Macy's and then to Whole Foods and so on. My cousin, Paula, and I went to see Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom which was lovely and sweet. It's not my favorite Anderson movie. I like The Royal Tennenbaums the best I think although the young lead actress in Moonrise Kingdom reminded me of Gwyneth Paltrow's heavily eye-shadowed character. See the MK trailer below. Next, I want to see Beasts of the Southern Wild.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

July Resolutions

Can it really have been that long since I have posted anything on this blog? Is it because I have too many options (twitter, FB) to express any pithy comments that may cross my mind? Who knows. I won't belabor it.

Coincidentally, however, my last blog post occurred right around my last cigarette. I have been smoke-free since December 4. I am now marking my eighth month anniversary. I have tried not to be a braggart about this fact, especially since the magic pills that helped me stop were all too easy. I didn't even miss it physically. How can one really conquer an addiction without any physical pangs? I had the mental ones. I still do. I look at longing with people standing around outside with a purpose. Never did I want to smoke so badly than I did on Boxing Day in Dublin, Ireland. I spent the cold, wet day jetlagged and walking around with my suitcase. The hotel was closed and not due to open until 5. Miss Kate was still in Scotland, finding her own way. After a few hours of being angry, I got over it and realized a few things. Homeless Irish people do not look like homeless American people. Plus, Irish people like to smash bottles apparently. There was broken glass everywhere! More than I've ever seen in a major, international city. But most important to the theme of this post, I wished I still smoked. It would have given me some reason to be sitting on that wet doorstep. People could look at me and say "oh, it's a smoker" and move on. Not that hordes of after x-mas shoppers spent a lot of time peering at me; I just felt I should have some kind of occupation.

The video I've uploaded is the one and only dawn and probably the only sunshine I saw while in Ireland. It was taken on that cold Boxing Day 2011.

So, onto my resolution. Now that I have kicked the big monster of nicotine, I've decided to self-improve. It's been a sneaky process because I hadn't really planned on it. I am, fundamentally, a grossly lazy person. Why else have I not posted anything on my blog for seven months and I am passing it off as "I quit smoking so I had no words." I am not even sure why I am writing about this. I guess the moment I put down the smokes, I immediately fb'ed it to all my friends. They say (those bastards who are almost always right) that announcing something in the public square is the first step to making it a reality. However, I am too embarrassed by this next statement to put it on FB. So, I state here where only a couple of you will read it (and the random Google hit from "Irish dawn" and "smoking").

I have joined a gym.

No, really, I am going to work out. In fact, I have worked out all but two days for the past two weeks and that's only because I was out of town.

Why did this happen? Well, it is related to the smoking. I have decided that I can't just eat everything in sight as a reward for not smoking. Second, I think my lungs can keep up. Third, I think I can do it since I quit smoking. In fact, I keep telling myself how much I LOVE working out and that it's the BEST thing ever. I can't WAIT to get all sweaty in front of my students in the gym (the students, they are everywhere in Oxford).  When I was quitting smoking, and I'd get the urge, I would just tell myself the same lie "what do you mean you want to smoke? You aren't a smoker?' as if that was the stupidest thing I've ever thought.

Anyhoo, it's been years since I've been to a gym. (They have TVs in front of the equipment! Can you believe that?) I met with a trainer yesterday to go over the facilities even though I had been working out there for a week. it's a 24 hr gym with lots of video cameras. I consoled my mother with the comment that it was safe in that "they would probably know who killed me." The trainer was very nice and suggested circuit training for me. I was enthusiastic. Yes, I told her! I LOVE to exercise. PLEASE tell me ALL the things I can do. What's that machine? Can I contort my body onto it in front of that giant mirror under this unforgiving light?

That evening I put into action the circuit training, and this is going to be a challenge. I thought I was going to pass out and had to slow myself down. Plus, if I had any illusions that I was going to be admired by the young, thin people for my desire to get healthy, the mania of the circuit training will put that quickly to rest.

Well, friends, I probably won't belabor this new resolution because we all know how much we love to hear the blow by blow calls of a person's road to self-improvement (kinda like listening to an 18 year old explain that she is really in love -- in a way that the world has never felt before). But, I just needed to get this out of my system in a public way. I won't bother you with more unless it's hilarious.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Oxford Reads Comics Too (two?)

Hello Gentle Readers:

How my blog lies fallow! I would like to remedy this with a new post, post haste! As we near the first year of our Oxford Comic Book Club, I thought I would pause to list all that we have read. Take a look:

February 2011: Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
March 2011: Amazing Screw-on Head by Mike Mignola
April 2011: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
May 2011: One! Hundred! Demons! by Lynda Barry
June 2011: Superman: Red Son by Mike Millar
July 2011: Various short reads from Chris Ware and Richard McGuire
August 2011: Ōoku by Fumi Yoshinaga
September 2011: no meeting
October 2011: Dream Country (Sandman volume 3) by Neil Gaiman
November 2011: The Adventures of Tintin, Volume 6: The Calculus Affair/ The Red Sea Sharks/ Tintin in Tibet by Hergé
December 2011: Various early comic strips: Yellow Kid by Richard F. Outcault; Little Nemo in Slumberland by Winsor McCay; and Krazy Kat by George Herriman

January 2012: The Fixer and Other Stories by Joe Sacco

Though there seems no rhyme or reason, we are trying to explore different genres within comics plus examples of other cultures' comics traditions (though by no means comprehensive). We have done autobiography, superhero, fantasy, horror, alternate history, adventure, kid's literature (and in January, journalism). We have read one manga and one European comic. We have read edgy, contemporary short stories and very edgy, early comic strips.

Also, my mailing list is up to 27 and we had seven people show up to the meeting during FINALS week! In other, even better news, one of our members, a university librarian, asked and received funds to create a core collection of comic books at our library. My four point plan to bring comics to Oxford is creeping along!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Oxford Reads Comics

Since I've moved to Oxford, MS, I've been slowly implementing my plan to bring comics/comix (heck even graphic novels) to the greater community. I have a four point plan. First is to find the comics geeks who are surely all around us, buying groceries and working just like a normal person. Second is to organize them. That is where I am now. I've formed a comic book reading club (now even formally recognized by our local indie bookstore, Square Books).

My mailing list is around 15 but only 6-8 have shown up on a regular basis. We meet monthly and discuss a book. Usually, I get the pleasure of selecting the read, which has been a lot of fun.

Today, we discussed our only superhero book so far, Superman: Red Son written by Mark Millar (he of Kick-Ass fame) and drawn by Dave Johnson, et al. Since this is like a mini-grad class, I also sent along Umberto Eco's essay "The Myth of the Superman" which shone a very interesting light on this "alternative" universe story. I admit that superhero books were my gateway book, which is the case with many red blooded fan boys and girls. With the exception of some exceptional books, which, at best, only comment on superhero comics for the most part, I dabble in these books for entertainment. Upon comparison with the really nice list I am about to discuss in this post, the art and the writing, though entertaining, fell quite short. The same faces rarely looked the same on the same page! As one of my book club members said the art was the comics equivalent of Michael Bay. Click here for the New Yorker's evisceration of Transformers 2.

Though I do not have the time to go into the details of our discussion, it was interesting to read a book about the cold war in the post cold war. The premise: Superman lands in the Soviet Union instead of the Midwest USA. (I explained the premise to a non-comic book reading colleague who tolerates my fits of geekery and his response was, "well, that would cause some problems" as he seriously thought of the ramifications.) Anyway, the book is a much gentler version with only scant references to what a monster Stalin was. I guess one could not have the "boy scout" in the same room as Stalin. I mean, Supes would have to know about the gulags, right?

Next month, we are going to read a couple short stories and some experimental comics by Chris Ware and Richard McGuire. We may also look at Rebecca Dart who wrote Rabbithead (but click on the live journal link because I am so digging her "doodles" -- especially the Hail Eris, Goddess of Discord). In August, we are going to read a manga, but I need to think about that one. How much shall I rock their world?

Monday, April 11, 2011

'tis the season of baseball

It's been a little over a week and MLB season has started, but that's not what this post is about. Friday night, I went with some friends to a college baseball game. Our Ole Miss team was playing Georgia. They lost, but who cares! I had a great time.

Swayze stadium, which, as far as I can tell, is not named after Patrick Swayze (unless some rich donor's farewell gift in honor, I dunno, of Roadhouse), is a fantastic place. Mucho, mucho money was spent in its creation. Perhaps the most amazing thing is that you can sit in a special section and bring food and beer to the stadium. Heck, they even have barbeque grills and picnic tables.

Plus, when we weren't paying attention to the game, one could watch kids from a safe distance cavort and play. The social dynamics of tots is a fascinating one to watch -- belongs on the Animal Planet. They had grass to run around on and a pebbly pit to play on. One kid found a giant rock, bigger than his head, and carried it around. This was the source of much fascination in the group. I waited for them to construct a dais and start to worship it. Suddenly, I understood what Aaron felt when there was a lack of clear leadership.

Anyway, it was a clear night, and it was fun to watch the game. Though some wobbly plays (errors) occurred with embarrassing frequency (hold the ball, don't rush the throw, boys), there were some great plays as well. The centerfielders from both teams were especially impressive. We got to see a few homeruns as well -- one just to my right.

We will have to plan this again because it was just perfect. I will watch my Braves on TV and maybe even catch a game or two in person this summer, but for this season, I can tolerate college baseball. I am ashamed to say I never made it to a minor league game while up in CT! Maybe if and when I visit?

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Geekiest Girl in the Room

One is sometimes understood by the company she keeps. Alas, I am surrounded by non-geeks!

Last weekend, I attended an academic bootcamp (wouldn't call it a conference, they worked us!) and when one member of my group mentioned that they were going to "red shirt" an idea, you know, dear readers, what immediately came to my mind. Yeah, he was going to sacrifice that idea. However, there is an alternative subculture competing for the red shirt metaphor. Weird.

But what was the worst, the absolute worst is that I had to EXPLAIN my reference. Really? How sad is that?

Anyway, in my attempt to finish talking about the film festival I went to last month, let me geekily segueway into one of the shorts I saw that Saturday night titled CONGLANG. This was about a small club of people who are fascinated by created languages. The "con" does not stand for "convention" which I thought at first but for "constructed." there is an actual organization which I think partly funded the film. (*correction, the organization supported the film -- see the comments section*).

Anyway, very amusing short film about the power struggles within a conlang club which ended in a flexing contest of who can master the most con langs (like reciting Shakespeare in Klingon -- which I think they did -- or reciting the Gettysburg Address in Snoop Dogg speak). Yes, dear geeks, shades of Evan Dorkins' "Bring Me the Head of Boba Fett."

Anyway, CONLANG, was a fun little short and actually a geek love story! More info on shorts later and all the other goodness I watched. I haven't even talked about the animation!

In sum, please console me. I am in the land of norms.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Geek Girls of the World, Unite!

How timely! After my last rant about discussion list bores and the gender of Wikipedia, I just found out about a "call-to-arms!" From Geekgirlcon.com

"What: Geek Girls Edit Wikipedia
When: Friday, March 11th - Sunday, March 13th
Who: You, geek girl. Anywhere with an internet connection. GeekGirlCon, Nerds in Babeland, and our friends present Geek Girls Edit Wikipedia, an activity any geek girl with an internet connection can participate in.

For one amazing weekend, we are encouraging geeky women to go on Wikipedia and create and edit articles about our favorite geeky topics.

Women account for only 15% of all Wikipedia contributions, and we want to raise this participation rate. We know many of you have expertise in a wide variety of topics and can contribute valuable information to Wikipedia, which has become the largest and most popular general reference work on the Internet. Wikipedia is the 7th most visited website; and more women's knowledge needs to be added to this resource.

Please join us by adding to this great community knowledge base. You can chat about your contributions or keep a record of what you've edited over on GeekGirlCon's forums: http://www.geekgirlcon.com/forum/"